Weary Traveler, Lay Down Your Staff

UNFAITHFUL WIFE: We’re spending three weeks house-sitting in Spain. This is our first foray into house-sitting. Well, second. We watched an apartment in Barcelona for a weekend just before coming here,to this tiny village in southern Spain.

We were nervous. This house sit was not just a house. It’s a few vacation rentals that need to be looked after, including receiving guests. The owner had emailed us asking if we could get there a few days early to help set up up a pool. This was beginning to sound like a scam to our traveling ears. We’d been on the road for months, and almost every person who had been kind to us had been trying to sell something. Were these people just looking for free labor? Our scam radar was binging.

We were skeptical when we showed up and met the older Welsh couple who own the place. They welcomed us with open arms. We were given tea and homemade soup and conversation. Honest to goodness conversation. They empathized with our exhaustion and sent us off to take a nap before dinner. Home-cooked dinner. In their house. We talked about our travels. We listened to tales of their travels. We made plans for the next day, and we went to bed.

It sounds so simple – food, conversation, sleep – but by the end of the night we were almost in tears. Tears of joy and relief. We looked at each other and realized this is exactly what we had needed. It wasn’t a scam. Nobody was trying to take advantage of us. For tonight all someone wanted was to welcome us to their home. To give us rest. They may never know how much that meant to us.

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Unwanted

UNFAITHFUL WIFE: As I sat there on that grassy hill in Jerusalem watching the sun go down I couldn’t help but wonder what I was doing there. Why was I sitting here on a date with someone who doesn’t want me?

While we were in India, my husband had told me that he sometimes hates me. He finds me undesirable and disgusting. That is completely understandable considering what I have done to him, but on this date I began to wonder why I was here. We don’t have children. I am perfectly capable of finding a job and taking care of myself. I have to find a job after this trip anyways; I would just be doing it sooner if I left. And I’m not worried about not finding another man. I’m only 29 years old, reasonably good-looking, fairly smart, kind of funny. There are plenty of men who would whole-heartedly love to be on a date with me. Just not my husband.

Don’t worry. I’m not giving up on us based on one bad date.

I do have to absorb this blow to my confidence, though. I feel unwanted and undesirable. In a normal situation it wouldn’t have hit me so hard, but on a date those feelings are magnified.

My husband says that is silly. A date is just a label, nothing more, but to me it feels like something more. It is a time that I had specifically planned for us to enjoy each others company, for us to make each other feel wanted. So to feel unwanted during that time, for me, is worse than feeling unwanted when we’re just, say, lounging around the house.

Maybe it is silly. Either way, today I feel disgusting. Unwanted. Unworthy. Undesirable. Unforgiven. That is the mantra that is playing on repeat in my head to day. It echoes with every step I take. Unwanted. Unworthy. Undesirable. Unforgiven.

 

Date Night

UNFAITHFUL WIFE: I took my husband on a date last night. It was the worst date I’ve ever been on.

I know he wants to have a more active sex life. I do too, but I really can’t enjoy sex unless I’m feeling good about our relationship. One of the things my husband did right after finding out about the affair was to go out and buy the book The Five Love Languages for Married Couples. It turns out that touch doesn’t even register as a love language for me. It wasn’t low; it was zero. Our couple’s therapist confirmed this with some tests he administered. I am not kidding when I say I don’t like to be touched. So sex is really not enjoyable to me unless I am feeling very close and secure in the relationship I have with my partner, which I haven’t been feeling in our marriage. I decided to try to work on that by taking my husband on a date.

I told my husband I was going to take him on a date that evening. He spent the morning playing computer games while I scoped out the route and bought supplies.  We were in Jerusalem, a town I’m not familiar with. My plan was simple: a picnic in the park followed by a movie. No need to get extravagant when you’re in an unfamiliar place, after all.

I returned in the early afternoon, and we decided to watch a couple episodes of Penny Dreadful before heading out. That was a mistake. Until you are involved in an affair you don’t realize how many television shows and movies have affairs in them. It seems almost impossible to avoid. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised to watch a documentary on sea cucumbers and somehow have an affair play into it. Of course, an affair came up in the few episodes we watched before our date. My husband’s mood immediately sank. Like an anchor tied to a rock and covered in cement. I suggested that we should postpone our date, but he said he wanted to go through with it. So we went.

We sat in the park not talking to each other for an hour. Occasionally he or I would make some little comment in an attempt to get the conversation rolling, but it just wasn’t going to work. We didn’t even try to go to the movie. It probably would have been about an affair anyways. Triggers are like that. They’re powerful. And terrible. I hate that my husband has to live with that now, and I worry that our marriage can’t survive it.