The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Monday, November 30, 2009

We've started telling people

When I first discovered Husband's secret life, I told only three close girlfriends - two that are sisters to me but live far away and one that lives close to me who I knew would be more inclined to listen than to judge (she's the one I made a pass at in the early crazy weeks after I first found out!) We also told one close friend who is like a brother to both of us. And Husband told his real brother when we went back for his sister's wedding a few months after I'd made the discovery.

Now, two and a half years later, we are opening up to others.

We'd already agreed we both felt comfortable with trusted friends knowing more about what's been going on with us, but neither of us had actually taken the step of telling anyone else. Last week, Husband went to dinner with a guy he's known since college and came home to tell me that he'd shared about his sex addiction with this friend. I know they guy, too, and think highly of him, so I didn't have any anxiety and felt happy that Husband had the courage to talk openly about something so "real" with someone else in his life. I know it's not easy for him to move beyond pop culture and intellectual parrying to reveal himself. They didn't talk long, but the friend expressed his concern and support.

Over the weekend I told a very close girlfriend I'd been wanting to tell for some time. She'd moved away just a week after I found out, and has recently moved back. I'd felt a wall between us because we talk deeply and openly about so much, but there was this important part of my life I wasn't sharing. She knew that something had happened, because I'd asked for a therapist referral and she new Husband and I were in counseling. But I hadn't wanted to color her relationship with Husband because they are friends (for 12 years), too. And I didn't feel comfortable with her telling her husband, nor did I want to ask her to keep a secret from him. So I hadn't told her, despite the fact that she is someone I'd normally turn to for support. Last weekend as we sat in the park watching our kids play together the moment felt right. She was sad as she imagined what it must have been like, but like Husband's friend she was mostly just concerned and supportive of both of us. She called me today, and she's still processing it. "It's still new to me, but I'll catch up," she said.

It feels great to have finally told her. I feel more authentically connected with her again. And she's another person I can count on when I catch myself in my typical MO of trying to handle things all alone. With most of my friends it doesn't feel strange that they don't know about this very personal thing in my life so I probably wouldn't have any reason to tell them. But with her, it was strange to withhold the life-changing events that I've gone through.

We're not going to shout it from the roof tops (for example I'm NEVER going to tell my mother because that would not be helpful to me,) but I think the fact that Husband and I can talk more openly about this part of our lives without shame, anxiety or the need to blame, justify, vilify or otherwise explain is indicative of the healing that's taken place for both of us. It feels good to be in this place, to have some distance from the pain and see the progress more clearly.


Karen J said...

i found out several weeks ago that my bro in law had been having affairs with multiple women for several years. as he is only 28 and theyve only been married for 7 yrs i was shocked. they were your american dream family to me. 2 perfect kiddos, beautiful home, SUV in the driveway next to the hybrid. great careers, masters degrees, church on sundays, family dinner every nite. he had been meeting women online and going to hotels during his lunch hour. would talk to the women after my sister went to sleep. ive never told anyone about this. the affairs stopped last december when my sister caught him after one of the girls called their house. they didnt tell me about it until last month. they, my sis and bro in law went to every friend and family member so he could admit what he had done, apologize and ask for forgiveness. the only house they skipped was mine. im not violent at ALL, however, this is my sister. and everyday she proves her strength as a woman, a mother and as a wife. every ounce of anger that is still masked by a facade of "we're fine now" is justified and in my opinion encouraged. while it takes up more space in our hearts to hate and hold on than it does to let go, just remember, you dont have to hate to have anger. my son and i spent thanksgiving weekend alone, i cant look at my bro in law yet. ill stop talking now. its just very obvious, you are much stronger than even you might believe yourself to be. its very apparent that you also prove your strength as a woman and a wife every day. and thats to be commended

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

I had an experience similar to yours where there was a close friend I didn't tell for years and I felt that keeping the addiction hidden was creating a distance. I'm glad I was finally able to share with her.