I sat on the couch at my therapist’s office today telling her about my healing journey. I haven’t had a therapy appointment in months because we both felt I was doing well. But recently I’ve felt stuck in my healing process. I am relentlessly searching for something that in my mind will make everything click. Some sort of a-ha moment.
For the past eight and a half months I’ve been sorting through the information I have about my husband’s affair. I’ve been learning about where our marriage was vulnerable, dealing with the pain and trying to figure out how he made the decision to involve himself with his AP. Each piece of information becomes a puzzle piece to me and at this point most of my puzzle is completed.
Before his affair began, we were happy, in love and incredibly busy with our kids. We were at the point in our relationship where sex was less frequent and loving affection was not a priority. We both enjoyed spending time together but because money had been tight for a period of time because of his job loss, we weren’t going out on dates. We weren’t investing in ourselves as a couple. We didn’t resent each other, we appreciated each other and we rarely fought. So what was there to worry about? I believed in time we would get back the excitement and fun in our relationship but I shouldn’t stress over the lack of intimacy in our marriage.
(more) PUZZLE PIECES
My husband found himself involved in an affair because a woman was doting on him, flirting heavily with him and telling him she desired him sexually. Six months before the affair began, my husband had spent the year prior unemployed and feeling like he risked our family’s financial security. In many ways, he felt like a failure. He had gained about twenty pounds since our relationship first began and he felt unattractive. Our diminished sex life only enforced that I was no longer physically attracted to him. But his AP, she met him twenty pounds overweight and she wanted his body. She gave him the attention that all men want. She wrote him email letters recalling their sexual encounters as if he was Adonis. Nothing she wrote was based on the sex they shared. She neglected to ever comment or discuss his impotence (i.e. erectile dysfunction) that recurred throughout their affair. She only focused on the things that would make him feel amazing… like the Man he wanted to be. She was a great mirror because she only reflected perfection and she asked for nothing in return (just for him to commit adultery).
(more & more) PUZZLE PIECES
She lied to my husband so he would take pity on her. She entered the “friendship” with my husband knowing that she wanted him to be her affair partner. She identified my husband’s vulnerabilities and she exploited them for her own desires. She was successful too because he submitted to her will. He felt that if he didn’t have sex with her that he would lose her friendship. And he couldn’t lose the attention she gave him–the reflection of himself in her eyes was so much better than a real mirror. Or even better, the reflection in my eyes of himself was too real.
I was a forgiving and completely trusting wife. My husband (more or less) came home on time from work. I didn’t stop by his business, I only called him at the end of my work day and I allowed him to get away with not reaching out to me during his workday. If he was late I may have been occasionally irritated but I never questioned his trustworthiness. When my inner voice was telling me that things weren’t right, I ignored it with blind faith in my husband. My intuition knew something was wrong but I trusted in our marriage that he would never cheat. I kept my fears silent. I didn’t take advantage of opportunities to talk to him about my fears. He did a great job pushing my fears aside too.
MISSING PUZZLE PIECES
- Why did he allow the friendship/relationship to continue when his AP made it clear that sex was a requirement?
- Why did he cross the line?
- If he knew it was a mistake why did he allow it to continue for a year? Why didn’t he end it?
So those are my missing puzzle pieces. I’ve put together most the puzzle about how and why my husband had an affair. The picture is almost complete but those missing puzzle pieces are making the rest of the puzzle appear blurry. I can’t figure out what I am looking at and I am searching for something that will give me the answer. This is the moment my therapist says:
You have done so much work but you are still searching. Your husband doesn’t have those pieces either and he may never find them. What if you never find those missing puzzle pieces?
I don’t know. Are these pieces critical to my healing and moving forward? Or is this just something that I need to let go of and accept that I may never understand? Acceptance on this journey may be the most difficult thing to process. I am still unsure that I have complete acceptance that my husband cheated on me. I don’t operate in denial but I have moments where I still want to wish this away.
Maybe I need to take the fork in the road and begin a new puzzle. After all, this puzzle I am putting together is missing too many pieces to keep and even if I find the pieces will I want to put it away in my closet? Probably not. So maybe it’s time to rip apart the puzzle and throw the pieces away and start a new one. A puzzle my husband and I choose together.