Elle: “I Stayed With Him”
Job: Book author and founder of BetrayedWivesClub
Married: 10 years when she discovered her husband’s infidelity
The day I found out, I walked the house like Lady Macbeth, wringing my hands and repeatedly moaning, “What am I supposed to do?”
I confronted my husband on Dec. 11, 2006 (happy anti-versary to me!) about the first affair. He confessed later that he was a sex addict and that there had been infidelity throughout our marriage. I had NO idea. I thought I’d married the most principled guy on the planet.
He had already been working with a therapist who set up recovery programs for sex addicts, so he was already coming to terms with the issues that led him down that particular path.
Yes, I did stay/am staying. It’s a difficult decision summed up best, I think, by Elizabeth Edwards. She notes there’s a mammoth difference between a “good man” who’s done a bad thing and an inherently bad man. Sounds simplistic, but it makes a lot of sense to those of us who are betrayed wives.
There can be pressure to leave to save face; there’s something self-righteously satisfying about “kicking the bum out.”
However, staying is by no means the sign of a doormat. It takes courage and conviction – and an understanding that we’re all fallible.
Lisa: “I Cheated in Retaliation”
Married: 35 years
Discovered husband cheating: 5 years ago
Five years ago, I was getting some tax records sorted out and I discovered that there was money being paid for rent for somebody else I didn’t know about. I followed up on it at the courthouse and found out that my husband was paying the rent for another woman’s house for almost three years.
We had dated since I was in junior high, so this was a huge shock. I very quickly and quietly gathered up documentation of all this. I asked my sister to come over on a day I knew my husband was going to be gone. We moved all of the things I needed to a house I rented in another town.
I needed some time by myself to figure out what I was going to do. In the meantime, I met a man while I was on a business trip. We developed a friendship that quickly turned into an affair.
My husband tracked me down and wanted to get back together, but I said no. (At first.)
The best revenge of all was walking away from my husband and finding myself through an affair of my own. I had been a doormat for years, so if I hadn’t “cheated” with this other man, I never would have felt like my relationship with my husband could be even. I felt like I deserved this. I’d also never been with other men, and I didn’t realize how nicely I could be treated. Now I do and I expect it from my husband.
In the meantime, while I was seeing this other man, my husband finished all the projects he promised he’d do around the house over the years. He also went to counseling. Once he realized that I was going to move on with another guy, he tried really hard to reconnect with me.
Eventually, he won me back and I moved back home. We’ve been very, very happy ever since. He’s a changed person. He cooks, he cleans, the house is all restored. We go out together, we go dancing – things we hadn’t done for years together.
I’m not saying this will work for everyone and it wasn’t actually my intention to get revenge. Ironically, my “retaliation affair” brought me back to my husband. He saw me with new eyes. He saw me as a smart, talented loveable woman that other men admired and treated well.
He’s been Mr. Reliable ever since.
What would you do if your husband cheated?
Carrie Seim, Betty’s L.A. Correspondant, is a writer and comedian keeping it real in L.A., New York and @ www.carrieseim.com.