Part 4: We Could’ve Had it All
I don’t give up easily, and I really enjoy being challenged, which is maybe why I thought my marriage could be saved. I knew I’d try harder than ever, give it my all, fix all the things that made him cheat on me. I dropped 20 pounds in one month on the “one-cracker-a-day-because-I’m-going-to-hurl-from-stress” diet. So, score: I dropped all that baby weight from having his three kids and I’m not fat any more. I made myself be more “fun” like he said she was. I became more optimistic because that’s what he liked in her; she never complained. I obsessed day and night about this “other woman” and what made her so fantastic. Surely by fixing all his issues with me and becoming what I thought he wanted, that would totally fix it …
(Please note the huge air of sarcasm, because – give me a break – cheaters are losers. But that was not where my head was when all this first happened.)
“When something is broken and you try to fix it, trying to repair it, any way, you can.” — Coldplay
I hated playing lead detective, sneaking around at 1 a.m. after my husband would fall asleep to look at text messages and emails. I wouldn’t wish that life on anyone, and I was becoming increasingly tired of it. One night, two months after I initially caught him cheating, while browsing through his email, something piqued my interest. At first, I thought I had stumbled upon an email love letter to me, but as I kept reading, I realized I was not the intended recipient. I soon realized that the notes on his phone had been saved in his email without his knowledge, and that he had once again been in contact with the other woman.
I just sat there on the couch, knowing better than to react on a whim this time, and gave it some more thought. After calling our counselor, going to an ATM and hiding the gun, I woke him up and immediately started reading his love letters to him. His face said it all. I told him to leave and even packed his bag.
But for the first time, he actually seemed to have some emotions, maybe even a soul. He cried, he read my journal, he hugged me and said he was sorry for hurting me and we even prayed together (something we never did) and then we ate pancakes. The next day he was like a whole different person. I awoke to him in our kitchen cooking breakfast and listening to the Christian Pandora station.
Of course now, looking back, all I can think is, “Wow, he would make a great actor.” Fast forward to a day later, and he wasn’t so pleasant anymore. He had betrayed my trust again in the midst of me struggling to regain it, and when I tried to get him to take accountability and be responsible for this new betrayal, his attitude changed once again. He refused to quit his job working with the other woman, but agreed to change the hours. I didn’t like it, but it was all I was going to get. After being betrayed again, I was back to square one emotionally. He still tried to act clueless. He wanted me over it and fast – that wasn’t happening – but I was still trying everything possible to save the sinking ship.
It was one week before Christmas 2011, and I had been reading a book called The Love Dare. One of the dares in the book compelled me to write a letter to my husband. The day I gave him the letter, he sat in a chair and silently read it. The next words out of his mouth were, “I’m just not in love with you anymore, and I haven’t loved you for several years.”
Those words stung like nothing I had heard before. I sat there on the bed in a stunned silence. I tried to be strong, and even told him I’d leave and go live with my family. I didn’t know what else to do or say at that moment. I wanted and had to escape, so I drove across the street to the drug store and cried and prayed in my car.
I don’t think I ever fully recovered from this blow, and things went from bad to worse from that point forward …