We can be better than perfect.

Mitch AlbomSummer is here and I’ve been distracted from writing. I am busy with the kids, with my husband and catching up with friends and family. But I haven’t had a day yet where the affair hasn’t crossed my mind. Lately, I am very happy with my husband and my life. There is almost a sense of calm and contentment, reminiscent of my pre-affair marriage.

Last week my husband and I were kayaking out on the lake enjoying a beautiful day. It was serene, peaceful, romantic and fun. There wasn’t a problem in the world in that moment for us. This was how our marriage used to be. There was no overshadowing of sadness or unhappiness. No worries of trust or infidelity. We were happy. Truly happy.

I remembered later that day this was how my life used to feel—those moments in the kayak were my everyday life. Everything in my marriage was perfect, happy and loving. We respected each other and we were faithful. Our happiness was real. When I first discovered the affair I questioned my own happiness. I thought I was wrong. Even as my husband told me he was happy and never stopped loving me, I started searching for problems that didn’t exist. And I know that even more now because I can feel it again. When we are living our life and not burdened by the affair… we are infinitely happy. I want to enjoy those blissful moments and let them encompass my life again.

It hurts to know our wonderful life wasn’t enough to keep him faithful.

I am surprised by my emotions sometimes. Just when I begin to believe that things are so good and I won’t be triggered and breakdown again—the pain surges inside and I feel myself begin to crumble. I wonder if summer itself is a trigger. My husband established his secret “friendship” with his AP two summers ago. She spent the summer of 2011 zeroing in on his vulnerabilities until she had him hook, line and sinker. Just after Labor Day they slept together. He had an entire summer of red flags being waved in front of his face, but he didn’t see one of them. Last summer, he realized he wanted to end the affair but he couldn’t do it alone. Last summer is when I realized something was really wrong in our marriage. My husband was not okay and he was falling apart. Last summer I looked her in the eye and knew she was pursuing my husband—I never imagined that he would cheat.

Attachment001Accepting that my husband cheated on me took almost ten months. Because his love for me is not something he hides—he puts it out there and tells me and everyone else (including his AP) how happy and lucky we are to have each other. He constantly told his AP how much he loved me and that was never going to change. Notwithstanding the affair, my husband has always lived his love for me out loud. We spend time together and we are both focused on the same goals and values in life. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that a man with high values and morals could cheat on his wife. Sometimes it’s impossible to understand that a couple that has it all and is happy could be dealing with infidelity. Infidelity doesn’t just happen to couples with marital problems.

Acceptance is (ironically) the last stage of grieving. I wonder what phase acceptance is in healing? Even more ironically, acceptance allowed me to enjoy floating in a kayak on the lake with my husband. I am enjoying my life again. Sometimes there is some guilt when my marriage feels perfect again because I almost feel like the strength our marriage has gained in the last ten months is more than we lost. Accepting that my husband and I can have something better than what I once believed was perfect was a hard pill to swallow. It can feel like I am betraying my old marriage when I feel calm and peace.

I am trying to look forward more than back these days. I want to create a future that is even better than our past—better than perfect.


8 thoughts on “We can be better than perfect.

  1. 🙂 acceptance is the best feeling ever, i think thats when things really start lifting off, the past can really become the past and you can begin looking forward to things again… but it takes its time, i spent so much time and effort trying to fight it, by denying, or trying to reframe the situation in some way or another, trying to find a reason… its such a huge struggle, you can really see why it takes some people so long to come to acceptance, if they ever do… the biggest battle through all of this, wasnt with him, or with her, it was, and still is, in my own mind…

  2. I understand what you mean about the guilt. Unless you’ve been there, people will think that’s silly to feel guilty about being happy now in those moments. But I totally get it. It’s not fair that it took something like an affair for us to appreciate what we have. It’s not fair that with so much resentment towards the AP, that when we are happy, it feels like if it wasnt for her, you wouldn’t feel as strong as we are. I have grown up and am a better person from all that has happened to me. I look at things differently and am a lot more understanding towards my whole family. A lot of things just seem petty to me now compared to what I’ve been through and that makes me feel grateful and more at peace

  3. I first found your blog a week or so ago. I couldn’t believe that someone else had almost a mirrored experience to mine. It seems like you are healing faster than me – maybe because writing this blog has helped you process your feelings. Two years ago this week my husband began his relationship with the AP – her giving him attention and becoming his “friend” after he found out a childhood friend committed suicide. I knew that friend too – I thought I was there for him during this. It hurts because I keep looking back to what he was thinking – what was happening two years ago this summer that made him reach out to her — not me. We spent every evening together, talking (I thought), looking into each others eyes, talking about our future, talking about our present. I still find myself doing all the things you said you’ve done –trying to figure out what I did wrong, why didn’t I see the signs, why did I think it was a “perfect marriage,” and how could he possibly have loved me the whole time while having a relationship with her. He swore it was never me – he swore it wasn’t my fault. But I see and hear your feelings. I even feel most of them exactly — as if I were reading my own writing, except we are not happy yet. I am still struggling with all this probably because I haven’t had time to heal. I’m not sure if you are receiving counseling – marriage or individual, but my husband is not interested. I, however, have sought out counseling because I need for move forward. I need to focus on future thoughts, and present thoughts — not past. She is out of his life. My husband has sunk into a depression due to losing his job in March this year. He has worked very hard all his life and suddenly cannot find employment. It has added to his guilt, his low-self confidence, his pain. Unfortunately, because of this, he has withdrawn from me physically. Emotionally, he is needy. Physically, he is repressed. This has brought many other emotions and concerns to me about us. I’m working through it – I’m being supportive, waiting for him to get what I suppose all men need to feel proud and secure — a job. I want to be where you are — in your stage of grief. Maybe it’s just a setback until my husband “finds” himself again. He is going through major changes this year. In the meantime, while I wait, I have committed to our marriage. But in order to commit to my marriage, I know I have to work on ME. I have to become secure again in myself knowing that no matter what the outcome, I will be okay. I have to work on my thoughts of her, him, and what I did wrong that try to hijack my mind. He swears it wasn’t me. I believe him because I WAS there for him. I loved him and we were happy. I want you to know your blog has helped me feel not alone, and it has encouraged me — giving me hope. For whatever reason, God has allowed my husband to go through this job loss and “self-finding” experience for a reason. I remember the day the AP called me after I tried to avoid her stalking for a month. She caught me off guard, but it was good I talked to her. There was a bit of closure for me with her. She told me my husband had “issues.” Maybe God is working out those “issues.” I have to trust God and, frankly, it’s the only one I trust these days. I cannot put my trust in my husband – that is not fair to him. No one can be perfect. I understand his weakness. I can trust him to a point, but that’s enough. I’m okay with that. I am allowing him in my heart to be human. I pray he will never have to go through this again — it’s not only been the worst I’ve ever had to deal with — even over the death of both my parents, but it’s been horrible for my husband to go through. I think he was burned badly, and he is happy to avoid fire now. I see myself NEXT year in a better place. This year is full of memories of what was happening that led up to the “end” of their relationship and my finding out on 9/11/12. After that, I think the “anniversary” feeling of emotions will pass more. Thank you for opening up and sharing your growth and your pains. It has blessed me – it’s a Godsend.

    • Thanks for commenting and telling me your story. It does help to write my blog–sometimes because I am getting my feelings out there but mostly because of women like you that write me every day. The more women write me the more I know I am not alone. That infidelity happens to happily married couples and otherwise, moral men. That’s what makes us most vulnerable to infidelity–we believed our marriages were impermiable, so we never armed ourselves and prepared for the attack.
      I am sorry your husband lost his job and it has affected him. Another reader told me the same thing recently and I asked my husband what that would have done to him at this point in our recovery. He didn’t know but he said he would probably believe he deserved to be miserable because of the trauma he put me through.
      My husband was willing to go to therapy and we’ve been to couples counselling a few times. We actually don’t have many communication issues so our therapist will tell us to make appointments as needed. I think as long as you and your husband can talk openly about what’s going on you’ll be okay. Let your husband know how you feel when he won’t be with you intimately. I know that during my husband’s affair year our sex life was minimal and it bothered the shit out of me. But I never said anything because I was fearful he would be upset about it. The truth is it bothered him too but he believed I was no longer attracted to him.
      The other night my husband asked if I might be triggered more and more as we move towards D-Day… I actually think of D-Day as the beginning of our new marriage. The end of the horror of his affair and the beginning of something better.

  4. Thank you for your words . Your words are my words it’s incredible. We can be better than perfect is just how I feel. Keep strong. Xx

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