Trying

UNFAITHFUL WIFE: Yesterday we went to Milan. I usually do the planning for our travels, and this day trip was no different. I had tried to figure out what each of us were interested in doing. I found a free walking tour and registered us. I researched and narrowed down what attractions we’d try for and how much they’d cost. This was all normal.

What was not normal was that at the end of the night, after we got home, my husband held my hands, looked me in the eyes, and said thank you. He told me that he had a wonderful time and that he thought I did a great job. It felt amazing.

This isn’t the only thing he’s done, but it’s an excellent example. My husband has been trying.

Of course we’re still not great. We have a long way to go, but I want him to know that I see his efforts. And seeing him try makes me want to try.

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Reconciling Myself

UNFAITHFUL WIFE: We are each a collection of memories, anecdotes, characteristics, behaviors, reactions, personality traits. These are the things we use to define ourselves. This is who I am. This is what I believe. This is how I react. This is the definition of me.

Since having an affair some new words have bubbled to the top of my definition. Some were placed there by me. Some were added by my husband, some by my affair partner. A few were contributed by therapists and some came courtesy of other people I’ve encountered, here and elsewhere.

I am selfish. That one should be repeated as it is the strongest. It is the most universally held belief about me. It plays on repeat in my head. I am selfish. Selfish. Selfish. I am not worthy. I am undesirable. I am a bitch. I am a whore. I am an adulteress. I am an asshole. I am inconsiderate. I am vain. I am false. I am weak. I am a coward. I cannot bear monotony. I am a quitter. I am a failure. I lack the ability to judge people. I am dominant. I always get what I want. I do this all for show.

Some of these things fit easily into my preexisting sense of self, but those that don’t pose a problem. It creates a dissonance in my mind that is hard to reconcile. I don’t know who I am or what I want or where I’m headed. Who am I? And by even pondering this am I only reinforcing my selfishness?

Monster

UNFAITHFUL WIFE: My therapist once told me that from where she was sitting it looked like my feelings were a big, scary monster just over my shoulder that I was afraid to face. She wasn’t wrong. I’ve been avoiding my feelings for a while.

During the affair, feelings weren’t exactly useful. Every day was a battlefield of emotion. At night, as I lay in bed, I would kill my thoughts. As soon as an inkling of a thought appeared – any thought – I would mentally picture myself being shot in the face. Over and over. Eventually my brain got the message. I wasn’t interested in what she had to say. She shut up.

After the affair it seemed like every feeling I expressed sent my marriage spiralling into a nosedive. So I focused on external things instead. I packed and planned and read and worried.

Now, I think maybe, the time has come. It’s time to slowly start looking over my shoulder. Slowly. It is a very scary monster.

My Husband’s Dreams

UNFAITHFUL WIFE: My husband had a bad dream. He’s had bad dreams for as long as we’ve been married. They’re always about me. Sometimes I’m cheating on him. Sometimes I’m leaving him. In his most recent dream I wanted a divorce.

I used to be able to comfort him, but since the affair it’s much more difficult. How do you sound sincere telling your spouse you would never when you already have?

I also find it harder to convince myself. Right now I can’t imagine wanting a divorce, but there was a time when I couldn’t imagine having an affair. No future seems certain anymore. I am not prophetic, but my husband’s dream’s may be. I hope not.

In his most recent dream, my husband told me, he didn’t fight the divorce. In past dreams he has. Maybe that means something. Maybe it doesn’t.

What’s my opinion?

Fuck dreams. I’m glad I don’t remember mine.

The Parable of the Fabric Cutter

UNFAITHFUL WIFE: I was at the fabric store once when the employee who was cutting my chosen fabric and I got on the topic of television shows. I think it was The Big Bang Theory, to be exact, but I’m not sure.

It was her husband’s favorite show, she told me as she measured two yards of light blue cotton, but she never like it.

I told her I didn’t much care for the show myself.

She never watched it with him.

I couldn’t blame her. There are entire genres of television my husband watches that I don’t enjoy. I wander in and out of the room, doing laundry, washing dishes, working on some project I’ve assigned myself. Occasionally I catch a scene or two, but I never actually watch the show with him.

Her husband died three years ago. She breaks this news to me as she prints the barcodes for my purchases. She hands me the neatly folded pile of fabrics.

It’s now her favorite show. It reminds her of him.

This happened a few months before we started this journey, but it’s stuck with me.

Maybe, I think, she was a prophet. Maybe this is a parable.

Together

UNFAITHFUL WIFE: We, my husband and I, have spent the last five days trapped in a fairy-tale land with no internet. I read three books. We walked through magical forests to overlook meadow and pastures and villages all set against a backdrop of castle-dotted mountains.

As we walk my husband invents stories of elves and orcs and dwarves. I enjoy his tales, but I also think they highlight some of our differences.

My husband and I have few common interests. At first I thought this was a good thing. My initial reaction to couples who are undyingly interested in the same things is revulsion. Blech. I love interacting with people who are wholly different from me. I believe it makes me a more compassionate person, but in marriage, I have found, it poses some challenges.

I think the distance started to grow while we were working a seasonal job in Maine. I love hiking, and my favorite time for it is just as the sun comes up. During the summer in Maine, the sun rises far earlier than it does where we were from, and I wanted to be there to greet it. My husband, however, likes to rise at a reasonable hour no matter what the sun is doing. So I got in the habit of leaving him, snugly asleep in our bed, so I could wander the Maine wilderness.

Later, when we settled for a spell, I continued the same habit. There were other things, though. My husband, for example, likes games. He grew up playing Dungeons ad Dragons or Magic: The Gathering. He also enjoys a range of board games. I do not. For me, they may as well be called bored games, but I don’t want to discourage my husband from playing. So, when the opportunity arose, I would encourage him to go play…without me. Likewise, events would come around that interested me, not him. At first, I would take him with me, but I couldn’t enjoy myself with him there not enjoying himself. So I stopped taking him. It was so much easier.

At first things seemed great. We were an independent and modern couple, but eventually we became less of a couple and more like roommates. We shared a bed but, at times, not much else. I really think this helped lead to my affair.

On this world trip we are with each other constantly, but, I’ll admit, I am afraid of what will happen when we get back to the real world. I am still grossed out by those we-share-everything couples, and sometimes I would like to just walk out the door without telling anyone where I’m going. I do have some plans in place, though. For one, next time a game night presents itself I am going to play some board games. I am also going try to choose a few things that I really really (pretty please with sugar on top) want to do and invite him to do them with me. I don’t know how far that will get us, but it’s a start.