My Valentine'S Day Roller CoasterSome of you may have been reading my stories over the past months. For those of you that have not....I'm married. To a refuser. A man who will buy me anything under the sun but who doesn't want to talk to me often, hardly ever wants to have sex, and likes all appearances to be in order. I have been the dutiful wife. Bewildered by my husband's lack of affection for me, his apparent contentment with lack of intimacy, and my feelings wanting an attentive husband but not feeling like I could leave until my children are grown. My husband as a father? Involved. Attentive and worried about his kids. My husband as a husband? Lousy! Likes the house clean, dinner made, my picture on his desk next to our family photo, and he only wants to bother with me when he feels the need.
I entered into an affair in August. Unexpectedly. Of course my life hasn't been the same. I broke my vows. To some I have sinned. It was and is a betrayal. Just as my husband betrayed our marriage vows to love, honor and cherish me. For the last 12+ years he has failed me. He has failed to be a life partner. He has failed to fulfill my emotional and sexual needs. He has failed to honor me as a woman while he is happy with my skills as a mother and household manager. He has made me feel unattractive, unwanted and unworthy (which, by the way, I'm not - unattractive that is.....I take care of myself, work out, haven't "let myself go"...)
I hadn't even heard the term 'refuser' until I joined EP. I'm not alone in my pain. I never understood why my husband liked me but didn't want to be in love with me. He was at one time. We were madly in love. I was a lucky, lucky girl. Until he started to forget about me. He doesn't hit me. But the emotional scars I have from years of his refusal to acknowledge and care for me are real.
I have told him about my pain. He knows. He's known. He does little to 'fix' things. It's a little like a game and nothing is ever permanent except his refusal of affection. And, for those of you who may slam and blame me - just so you know - I don't nag him, I have calmly told him of about my needs, he knows that he's changed since we've been married, I have cried, I have threatened to leave, I have stacks and stacks of cards and letters from him promising that things will change. Lies. Just little teasers of hope because he knows I wanted my family to stay intact. He never consistently puts in the effort to save this marriage while he enjoys a clean house and a good front for our family, friends and community.
My affair? A whirlwind of great conversation and great sex. It was. Out of town with a co-worker. He's also married. Complicated and terrible. I know. I felt comfort and safe in a way I haven't for so long. I gave myself into those feelings. I felt alive and wanted. We are great friends, compatible lovers and both in unhapy marriages with children. Messy. Super messy. We've since stopped the physical relationship but still talk when we have an opportunity. I believe we still long for those days we were able to steal away from the rest of the world. I went back and forth thinking I needed to be with him. But I do know I need to do what I need to do for myself and by myself. And, after I heal I will be able to think with a clear head and a clear heart.
My laptop stopped working last week. I had a few things I needed to send home from the office. I asked my husband if I could use his laptop (he uses it for work). He said that would be fine. I emailed my files to his work email address and headed home on Valentine's Day.
My husband had an evening meeting but he had flowers and my favorite cookies waiting for me when I got off work. He has been trying to woo me lately (like he does when he feels he needs to put a temporary band-aid on what has become a chronic condition). He thinks throwing money and gifts at me will solve all of our problems.
I grabbed a few cookies and his laptop and headed into our bedroom to work. I opened his email and there were my emailed files. I started working. When I was done with each task I would delete the email. I continued to do this until all 6 were deleted. They were rather large files. At my office my email will back up frequently so I empty my deleted items from my outlook. As a courtesy I thought I would do the same. I opened up his deleted file - because I didn't want to permanently delete his stuff, just mine. And I was shocked to see deleted emails from a female - with a bad reputation for sleeping around - ironic and hypocritical - I get it. This female has mutual friends and once worked with my husband. We had discussed her a few times years ago after she began an affair with her neighbor shortly after the birth of her daughter. Her husband found out. They divorced. She dated the neighbor guy until she started sleeping with a mutual friend of ours. She then went on to cheat on him with a guy who also worked with my husband. Serial and aggressive. I'll refer to her as C.
A few years ago at a work function for my husband's office she was there. Someone made a flip comment about my husband running with her at lunch. Then there was another comment about them going to dinner together. I didn't make a scene. When we got home I asked him what the comments were about. He first tried to deny they were made - saying I must have misunderstood. Then when I refused to back down he told me they are friends who go to the gym together. At that time I told him I wasn't comfortable with that given her history and reputation. And something made me check the cell phone statement. They had been texting and calling outside 'business hours'. Of course, all evidence on his cell was deleted.
Long story short I called her from his phone while I was standing next to him. When she answered I told her who I was and why I was calling. My husband stood there dumbstruck by my actions. I calmly explained that there would be no more gym visits, texts or friendly lunches and dinners. My husband was mortified. After I hung up we fought. I made it clear I would leave if I found out they had anything other than a professional relationship. To me I thought that was the end of it.
His deleted emails were between him and C. So I opened them and started reading. What gives me the right you say? As a cheater myself? I'll tell you. 12+ years of living with a man, demanding his love, his affection, and his care - only to be refused time after time. Believing I was marrying a man who cared about my needs and my feelings only to get the bait and switch after he woke up one day and decided he could live without intimacy. I had the right after years of pent up frustration, tears, sleepless nights and sadness.
And boy did I read. For years he's carried on. Years. He strung me along and I stayed because I thought my children were worth more than my own feelings. I still think this. I entered into an affair because I'm still a women even if I'm a wife in a sexless and cold marriage. He never communicated he was missing something. He never asked me to change. He never indicated he cared about the passion he turned his back on. He wanted me but on his own terms while he also had his life on the side. And I cried. Disbelieving that years ago I could have been free from this torture if only I had known. I would have immediately walked away if either of them had admitting to a relationship. I could have shed years of pain and saved myself lots of tears.
But I didn't know. But now I do. And some may say I deserve this. And I won't disagree with you. I deserve to be happy and I deserve to leave this man who doesn't deserve me - faithful or unfaithful - I invested years that I shouldn't have. So good thing is we did have the talk about our finances before Valentine's Day. I have laughed at the irony, I have cried over the spilled milk and I have called a realtor to begin my quest of looking for my new home. When he came home from his meeting we had a talk. He denied any contact with her - apparently he thought once you hit delete email disappears. He didn't realize you have to empty the deleted files. When I pulled up the emails and started reading he got angry. And I knew, in that moment that it really was over. It's all out in the open now. I cheated. But he cheated too. So in that it's even spread pain. But he cheated me out of my happiness because he thought our marriage certificate gave him that right. But it doesn't. And my happiness will no longer relvolve around him or any other man. I am strong, I am successfully employed, i am a good mother, a good daughter and a good person. I strayed outside my marriage because I was tired of feeling like I was dead inside. I'm leaving my marriage knowing we're both in it for the wrong reasons and we aren't the soul mates we thought we were so long ago before life changed and he became a refuser. I'm scared but I know my children will be taken care of. We both love them and will do what we can to respect each other out of respect for the children we brought into this world. I'm treading my own path. Finally....who would have know C would have brought me the gift of freedom? Ironic....