“The revelation of infidelity is a traumatic event for the betrayed partner. Understanding it as traumatic has important implications for healing. People who have just found out about a partner’s affair may react as if they have been viciously attacked. Where they formerly felt safe, they now feel threatened. In an instant, the betrayed spouse’s assumptions about the world have been shattered. Commonly, betrayed spouses become obsessed with the details of the affair, have trouble eating and sleeping and feel powerless to control their emotions, especially anxiety and grief, which can be overwhelming.”
Shirley P. Glass “NOT Just Friends”
“After having counseled thousands of couples with hundreds of marital conflicts, I am completely convinced that a spouse’s unfaithfulness is the most painful experience that can be inflicted in marriage. Those I’ve counseled who have had the tragic misfortune of having experienced rape, physical abuse, sexual abuse of their children, and infidelity have consistently reported to me that their spouse’s unfaithfulness was their very worst experience. To be convinced of the devastating impact of infidelity, you only need to go through it once.”
Dr. Willard F. Harley – Marriage Builders
I realised quickly it was going to take a long time to get over the affair and feel normal again. It wasn’t a quarrel with a friend or a family misunderstanding but the very fabric of my life, stained and damaged and only time could show how much. Will I be able to trust my husband again, be close to him and, what was most important to me – will I be able to continue to love him the same? Over night, from my closest friend and a person I loved dearly, he became a stranger, someone I didn’t recognise, almost an enemy. It took a lot of faith to see he was essentially still the same person I married and that was what he tried to convince me of. There was a glimpse of hope in the fact that he regretted dearly what he had done and everything he had done since then was right.
I knew I wanted to forgive him, wanted to put it all behind us as quickly as possible but at the same time I couldn’t stop feeling that deep grief and disappointment over what had happened. I questioned everything about him, our marriage and even myself.
It took many sleepless nights, hours of talks and a few revelations to understand that what happened wasn’t my fault, that in fact I couldn’t have done much more then I did and that no matter how much I tried to be a better wife I couldn’t have stopped the affair. If it didn’t happen then it would have happened some other time with someone else only because of what was in Charlie’s heart. It was him who repeatedly stressed that fact to me, him who took that blame on himself. I knew there were areas in my life where I needed change but ultimately it wasn’t what caused him to go the way he did.
Grief and disappointment weren’t the worst of the array of emotions that I was going through. The one I hadn’t anticipated was horror. You expect it in tragic life circumstances like accidents or murder and yet it was exactly what I felt at the thought my husband was with another woman. There were places, both in our house and in the office, that I couldn’t face going to, mental images that replayed over and over and fear that it all could have had much worse outcome for us all than it did. I was glad that I didn’t get a chance to see any more messages or e-mails, no pictures and no real life situations. What was in my mind was bad enough.
Wednesday after TT, one week after WW, as I arrived at the office, I met Charlie in the hall talking to a man I hadn’t met before. He was a son of one of the neighbours on the street, a slightly weird person. Charlie said I was his wife to which he replied “Nice catch”. I laughed – it was so ironic after all we had been going through. Charlie brought me closer to himself and said:
“She is working with me now and she’s a treasure, she makes me a better man.”
“Great! You are actually looking a lot better then when I saw you a week ago. Last time you looked really stressed.”
“I’m in a much better place now” said Charlie.
At around noonday I got a phone call from the children’s school. Our son had had an accident in the yard during play time and he wasn’t feeling well. We both hurried to him not knowing what to expect, thankfully the school was only a few minutes away. Turned out he fell and whacked his head against a concrete window sill. There was a huge bump and a bruise just below his hairline but the skin wasn’t broken. He was pale but conscious and looked himself, although the teacher said it took him a while to come round. We took him back to the office and got a painkiller on the way. I kept a close eye on him for the rest of the day and when he started feeling nauseous I went straight to our doctor. Charlie came to meet us there on the way back from work. I was angry and irritable, couldn’t help but blame Charlie for the accident although, obviously, he didn’t have anything to do with it.
We went in to see the doctor, he examined our son’s head and decided it was a small concussion, advised to give him plenty of rest, no TV or screen games for a few days to let the head trauma heal. He said to keep a watchful eye in case other symptoms appeared; he gave us a list of them and when he mentioned: confusion, memory problems and irrational behaviour out of character, I thought to myself “My husband must have been concussed for the whole last year”.
That evening I finally knew what to do with the ring. There was no point in giving it back to the shop or to anyone, we would never want anyone to wear it, not with it’s history. Having it back gave us an opportunity to throw it away somewhere, in an act if cutting off the past. We just couldn’t think of an appropriate place. None of the places that came to our minds felt right but then I got it – it was right there under my nose all the time, the photograph of it was on our wall, it was near to one of our favourite walks and we went there with Ana that first summer when she arrived and we took her to the beach. It looked like a cauldron and had an evil look to it.
Let’s return to the devil what he tried to give us – we said.