When IronSpineSally talked about leaving her marriage with a note, she never used the words “having an affair’ but she did say she had met another man, who I’m going to call John, and they had become good friends. I asked her if she would have ended her marriage if she hadn’t met this other person. This is what she said:
I don’t know. I think I would have eventually because of what went on last summer, just finding my sea legs and discovering that I actually am a human being, and I can make decisions and live like a normal person. I think it would have taken longer.
I think that meeting John really pushed that along, because there was somebody who actually thought I was intelligent and somebody there who encouraged me to do things that made me feel good or made me feel happy, whether or not he wanted to do them. So it was like having a little cheerleader, somebody backing up the fact that these things were happening and that it was okay, the decisions I was making were right after all, and that was a huge help.
He always says that he was surprised even on the day that I did leave my ex-husband because he didn’t think I was going to do it because I was constantly breaking down about it and crying to him and telling him “I want to do this. I’m afraid, I don’t know if I can do it, I don’t know if I can go through another thing.”
I was paranoid about what other people would think for a long time. It was really important to me to explain why I left this person from the point of view of what was wrong with the relationship and not that I was running to something else.
I remember telling John that, that if we were going to be together, then I wanted to take the time to do everything I needed to do. I was going to be in therapy and it wasn’t always going to be easy, and I would want him to go to therapy with me, if we were in a relationship in the future. I would want all of that stuff, because if I’m going to leave, I want it to be because it wasn’t the right place for me to be. I don’t want to leave to run to someone else to save me, or someone else who’s going to be there all the time and not leave me. I don’t want that. I want to know that I’m going into a relationship for good and healthy reasons.
I’m sure there are still people that think I left one man for another and in a way, I did.
What John and I have is completely different, and it’s hard to even remember the other marriage at this point. We ran off and eloped because we didn’t want to hear from other people “oh you should wait, you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re just running from one guy to another, you should be on your own” because there are people that will still say that to me, or that think that’s the only reason I left. I’m sure people do judge me for that, and I’m sure there are people that judge me for not staying to work out the things and not being supportive of my ex-husband and his need for therapy, but at this point it doesn’t matter. I need to do what is right for me and what makes me happy. For the most part, people don’t come out and tell me those things anymore, but they did for a while.
The Divorce Coach Says
Infidelity is never black and white but it is usually a sign of a deeply troubled marriage. I don’t think that having an affair, emotional or otherwise, is the best or most effective way of addressing those issues but I can understand how an affair can be part of a person’s growth and development. In IronSpineSally’s case her affair was a stark contrast to the relationship she had with her husband. I think that contrast reinforced for Sally how if her husband was not willing to work on their relationship, then it was time to end the marriage.
I appreciate IronSpineSally’s honesty here. Most often it’s the faithful spouse who is seen as the victim and for me, IronSpineSally’s story is a reminder that faithful spouses are not always blameless.
I think it’s hard to separate the affair from the leaving because the leaving is part of a much bigger picture … like Pippi discovered, the man of her affair was not her soul mate but he was the grease that got her out. For another perspective, DE said her husband’s affair was the closed door and the open window out of which she so desperately wanted to jump. She was so very unhappy in her marriage but didn’t know at the time how to confront it.
Photo Credit: BabyDinosaur on Flickr