The first lie I became aware of was the one where he said they were “just friends.” He looked me in the eye and said that they were just part of a circle of alumni friends. The evidence was suspicious. People who were just friends did not create pet names for each other and acronyms for phrases to say to each other. I soon learned that there were lies upon lies upon lies… six years of lies and betrayal and deception, of illicit love and adultery and breaking three of the big ten commandments.
I realized then that the last six years, and possibly our entire relationship, were filled with omissions and outright lies. It felt like everything was just a big lie. My life had been one big lie. What could I believe? Had any of it ever been real? Had he ever really loved me? Did he love me now? How intimate had their relationship been? How close were they now?
On that first night after I discovered all those emails, I did not think about his computer. But the next day, I decided I needed to protect myself and I needed copies of those emails. So I went back into his computer to get them. They were gone. He had deleted everything. But I am fairly computer savvy, and I was able to retrieve a bunch of them and I forward them to myself. I made hard copies and online copies and flash drive copies. Before I actually did anything with them, however, I decided to stay in our marriage and make it work. So I put the hard copies into a binder and just looked at them every day for weeks. I became obsessed with them. Every time I thought of some new angle or a different event, I went back to verify times and dates and information. I created a timeline in my head of the events in my life and how they matched up with the timeline in the emails. I felt a need to recreate the history of my life with regard to his affair. My life would not make any sense unless I fit all this new information into it. I felt I didn’t have enough detail in the emails, so I grilled my husband every chance I got. I checked cell phone records and internet histories. I had to know. I had to get my life to make sense again. None of it made sense with my old understanding of my life. I could not be at peace until I could make it all made sense. This is another one of those common things a betrayed spouse goes through. We humans are so predictable.
The emails told me that the affair started in October 2004. Most of it was an emotional affair because she lives thousands of miles away, but they did see each other at least once. My husband still maintains that nothing happened that time. He says they just had lunch. What a bunch of crap. Two sexually active adults who think they have found their long lost love, their soul mate, the one they were destined for, and they spend a year talking and emailing their love and longing for each other — and when they finally meet, they just have lunch?Give me a break. I also believe that it was more than just once, though he still says they met just once. He had a number of business trips to that end of the country during the course of their affair, and I just feel in my gut that he is not telling me the truth about this. There was also an email from her in 2008 that said that her boss had a one-week ticket to one of our neighboring towns that he couldn’t use, and was offering it to whoever could use it. My husband replied to her, asking her to please try to make it work out. Nothing was written about it after that – they could have handled it on the phone – I have no way of knowing. But I do remember that he went to that town “for work” for a whole week in 2008. I can’t remember exactly when, but I know he did that.
The story they created of their affair was that of star-crossed lovers. They felt they were separated by circumstance when they were young and lost contact with each other. After 28 years, they found each other again, but both were bound by family ties. They decided it was their fate to have to wait until God would somehow magically free them from their chains. They would suffer silently and support each other with their love until then. It hurts to know that my husband felt I was a chain around his neck, and that he regretted marrying me.
It was, of course, highly romanticized and complete fantasy. How my logical and level-headed husband fell for this crap, I’ll never understand. In actuality, she dumped him for the man who is now her husband. She actually cheated on him with two different guys before dumping him way back then. After they reconnected, she told him that these two guys were so insistent and relentless in chasing her that she felt forced to go out with them. Are we living in the dark ages? She also said that she decided to marry the second guy because she was living with her sister and felt trapped. Her sister treated her like a maid and she just wanted to get out of that situation. The second guy – her husband – wanted to marry her and it seemed like the best way out for her because my husband was still in school. Well, in actuality, she did not get married to the guy for three years after dumping my husband. If she had waited and stayed with my husband, the timing would have been the same. He got his bachelor’s degree three years after they broke up. On top of that, my husband told me that when they first reconnected, she told him that she was totally in love with her husband. Did she fall in love with him later, after she used him to get out of her trap? My husband, even though he was the consummate debate team captain, fell for it hook, line, and sinker. He did not ever stop to think that it did not make sense until I laid it all out for him. And he still has trouble believing that she was not the perfect little damsel in distress who was only desperate to find a way out of the hell her sister created.
It did not take long for the affair fog to set in with them. They became obsessed with each other, calling and emailing multiple times per day. Thank goodness, they did not have international texting on their phones or it would have been worse. They were so addicted to each other that they sometimes even called each other when the other one was in the presence of their families. They sent Youtube love songs to each other, love letters, poems, gifts, and spent hours on the phone with each other. During the first three years of their relationship, my husband was commuting to work in another city, and was alone from Monday through Friday. I never suspected that, in addition to being on the phone daily with me, he was carrying on a great love affair with another woman. He had all the time he needed for that during the week. They had the understanding that they would not talk on the weekends when he was at home, though they broke that rule fairly regularly.
They developed a system for finding private time to talk to each other. He would page her on her company’s 800 number to say he was free to talk, or he would email her a time when he would be alone. Then she would call him from wherever it was convenient for her. They bought calling cards to be able to call international long distance more easily. She would call him from the phone at her daughter’s school, from work, on her daughter’s cell phone, her own cell phone, and occasionally even from her home.
In October 2006, her husband, who had become suspicious, found a few of the emails on her computer. He was rightfully furious. My husband and she did not want to break up their families, so they decided to break up. But it wasn’t even a month before she contacted my husband, saying she couldn’t bear to live without him. Her husband did not know how serious it was between them, and he thought it was over, just like that, and he did not question her again. She just became more careful. She opened a separate email account that she used only for my husband, and she called most often from work. In October 2008, her husband caught her on the phone with my husband at home. That time was more serious. He then knew that they were totally “in love” with one another. He went into a deep depression and threatened to call me. How I wish he had. But he had no idea about her secret email, and had no idea the extent to which they had gone, and that my husband had even visited her. They reconciled. My husband sent her some love songs, asking her to keep their dream alive, and again they were not able to break it off.
I moved to the city where my husband worked in 2007. We fought a lot for the first couple of years. I could not do anything right, it seemed. He would sometimes rage at me and storm out of the house, leaving the kids and me wondering, “What the heck was that?” Then it seemed to smooth out and we enjoyed each other more. I now know that this was when he decided he did not really love her, and that he did love me. He bought me a house, a new car, took me on that expensive trip, and bought me diamond earrings. He was trying to make it up to me without telling me anything. I had no idea about any of it until almost the end of that trip.
It took over three months of obsessing over the affair for me to feel like I had made the pieces fit fairly well. There are some things for which I cannot get evidence, and some things about which I still feel he is lying to me, and I still ask a question every few days, but I no longer look at the emails and I don’t feel a compulsion to search for more evidence. I do sometimes think about going on another mad hunt again, but I am controlled enough now to just tell myself to get a grip. Hopefully I will get to the point where I can say it is in the past and I do not need to dwell on it any longer.
The truth took a long time to come out, and I still feel there is more than he has not told me, but for right now, it’s enough.