Does there always have to a happy ending, something to salvage from a wreck or look for the silver lining? Are we just saying something good came out this to make us feel better? I had the illusion of certainty about my marriage and about myself, I guess. Then push came to shove. Regardless, I think whenever something bad happens we automatically question everything about it, circumstance, ourselves, other people, was I wrong, was I good enough, did I say the right thing - you get the idea. Betrayal is something bad that happened to me but it is the not center of the universe. I have to disagree this time Elle, nothing good came out of this. Nothing.And then Mandy, a woman who was conned by a man she didn't know was married into believing he would marry her, a woman who is questioning whether it's ever worth trusting another man with her heart, asked this here:
"Some questions for you all – considering what you have gone through, is marriage really worth it (beyond having children)? Would you marry the same man again?"So I've been thinking a lot about what I write on this blog.
Thing is, my husband cheated and it was the most devastating experience of my life. There's no changing that. I've also said often on this site that I refuse to say, as another Betrayed Wife puts it, that my husband's affair was the best thing that happened to me. It was not. It was the worst thing that has happened to me and I wish it never had happened.
But...and this is my point: that doesn't mean that good hasn't come of it. And it doesn't mean that I can't celebrate the good that came of it. It forced me to do some reckoning re. my past. It forced me to consider what kind of marriage I wanted and create that with an intention that I was lacking. It helped me connect with some really incredible women – both in real life and on this blog – that have enriched my life in so many ways. It gave me the strength to cut some people out of my life that were not good to me or for me.
Those are all really positive things that have helped me create a life that I love.
Of course, I might have achieved those things in other ways. Lots of people do.
But that's not what happened to me. I can't change what happened to me and wishing I could kept me in a state of misery for far too long. This is the hand I've been dealt.
This is the hand we've all been dealt. And yes, we can be outraged that our husbands cheated on us. We SHOULD be outraged that they cheated. We did not deserve this pain.
But at some point we have to stop wishing this never happened and accept that it did. And then, we get to decide where we go from here.
Some of us feel that our only options range from lousy to worse. And when our choices are stay in a marriage with somebody who we can't imagine ever trusting again and leaving someone we still love because we can't imagine ever trusting him again, it's true: The choices do suck. Either way, we're left with a whole lot of pain to wade through.
I wrote to Mandy that I can't really answer her question because it assumes that any alternative would have been better than my husband's cheating and I have absolutely no way of knowing that. It feels like a fool's game to believe that any other option would have guaranteed me greater happiness.
So I'm back to accepting my reality and figuring out where I go from here.
I've chosen to stay and create, as Esther Perel puts it, a second marriage with my first husband. It has not been easy. But I have yet to meet the wife or husband, even in marriages without infidelity, whose marriages have been easy. And, to date, our marriage has a deep love and an ease that many don't. Who could have imagined that? Not me way back when. But, as I've often said, storms make better sailors. Unless, I suppose, if the storms kill you.
I hope, Lynn, that something good does come out of this for you. And if it sounds as if I'm suggesting that you make lemonade out of lemons, well I'd rather be drinking that than the salt of my own tears. I've made the choice to focus on the good that came of this, even if that good came at a huge cost, and I have no regrets. That's not to say that staying is the right choice for any of us. I would be walking the same path, I suspect, if I'd left: My story has as its center the place where I'm free, not the place where I'm stuck.
Lynn and Mandy, you're both still drowning in the pain of this and it can be hard to see any silver linings. They might not be visible yet. Nothing prepared me for the agony and trauma of my husband's betrayal. And frankly, I could have written both your comments when I was still writhing. What the hell?? I couldn't begin to understand.
But I paid attention to the silver linings when I did begin to see them. I saw no point in ignoring them.
And I see no value in hardening your heart toward any possible love. It will save you from pain, sure. But it will remove you from anything else worth feeling.
My hope for both of you, Lynn and Mandy, is that you continue to work through this pain. That you keep your hearts soft, that you slowly learn to trust yourselves thoroughly enough that you can recognize those in your life whom you can also trust. And I hope the day comes for each of you when the silver linings become clear and even if, like me, you can never believe that this was a good thing, you can still acknowledge that good things can come of horrible things. And that the suffering you've experienced has carved in you spot big enough to hold your enormous hearts.