It’s the morning after…you know what’s happened. The sun still rises, the kids still run down for breakfast, the dog is doing the “I have to pee” dance of joy, the milk gets spilled, the cat throws up, the husband…will he ever leave for work? Please? Just get out of your sight. How can he act so normal? You just want to be alone. You are desperate for no one to need anything from you so you can fall apart.
Piece of advice #1. Consider carefully whom you tell.
I did not consider carefully who to tell and I knee-jerked a call to one of my sisters. I had just dropped off my son at school and she was driving her son to school…an odd time for a call, so when she asked me what was up and I told her Husband had an affair, she said, “What?” because, of course, she hadn’t heard me, correctly. I repeated it and she shrieked “WHAT?” What followed was a stream of steaming fury which may as well have been in another language, for all I understood. After she calmed down, she was questioning me.
This was going to affect his job. How would he feel when his father found out? “If it were me, I’d take a full-page ad out in the newspaper. No, a BILLBOARD. I told my husband if he ever cheated on me it was over. OVER.”
“Well, yes,” I responded, “you might do that, but that’s not my style.” The first problem with my sister’s approach is that it hadn’t occurred to me to destroy my husband’s life by way of humiliating him at work or within his family. This was our business and frankly, I guess I was thinking that coming out of the other end of this, it would be best if he was left standing, assuming that we were going to continue our life, together. I did not want to go nuclear and destroy all in my path, because, ultimately? I was going to end up being the loser and I knew it.
I decided to consider the kinder, gentler people in my life; people who would not judge my husband, call him names and rant about him. I needed a good listener. Enter my friend, Dianna, whom I’d moved 300 miles away from, some years ago. Dianna is the kind of person who has the gift of being able to say anything without being offensive. She was sensitive, soft-spoken and thoughtful, so when Dianna answered her phone and I asked her if she was busy, she said she knew, immediately, what was wrong. I said the words, confirming her fear, and she gasped.
“Oh, my goodness,” she said, and without missing a beat, “well, you have to forgive him.”
I wasn’t ready to hear this. It felt like I was being dragged to the finish line by my lapels. “He loves you,” she consoled, “and I have never heard you ever say a negative thing about him.”
This was true, which was why I could not yet process the fact of the affair. I felt comforted and told her what the others had said. “Lyn, stop telling people!” in as much of an exclamation as she is capable of. OH. This was something which hadn’t occurred to me, but, then Dianna is brave and strong and when her ex had dismantled their marriage, she handled it with quiet dignity because, well, I guess that’s what practically perfect people do.
“Okay,” I promised, uneasily. Meantime, my sister called back and told me of her conversations about this with her husband and another relative. “Why did you tell them?” I shouted. “Well, I thought you would want them to know,” she answered. “Why in the world do you think I want others to know? No, no, no, no, no!” Aside from the fact that this was crazy out of line, because you just don’t pass on personal information like this to someone else without the person’s permission to share it? I did not need our elderly, frail parents to learn of this and wrinkle their already fragile karmas. :::sigh:::: Lesson learned.
#2 Do not confide in dramatic people. It may not be malicious, but being as they live for the drama, they use your drama to fill their insatiable need.
This was not going well and I haven’t even told you about my closest guy friend’s response. The lesson from that was,
#3. Do not tell any men who care about you: friends, brothers, etc. because they will become enraged and want to beat your husband up.
Enough said. At this point, feeling a bit frustrated, I told my other sister. I could hear the whiplash over the phone as she snapped to attention and asked “What happened?” She was subdued. Quiet. Supportive. I knew she would keep it private, and when I told her about our other sister telling people, she promised she would not mention it to anyone. Okay, now I felt heard. She didn’t rant, rave or threaten to beat him up. She listened.
#4. Choose someone who will not judge your husband so that you can feel free to talk about your feelings rather than listening to their opinions.
Number 4 could have been number 1 and saved us a lot of time, but I thought you might want to know the logic behind my conclusions. Number 4 became my rule as I groped my way along the dark path. I didn’t see a light, yet, but I just kept doing the things I could do, putting one foot in front of the other until I somehow bumped into hope.