I’m going to change up the format a bit to make all this easier to type out. Here is my interrogation of Carol.
Me: Why are you upset at him coming back?
Carol: Because I’m ashamed of what I did and I hate him for what he did to me.
Me: Why didn’t you want me to come by when he was there?
Carol: Because it’d be awkward and I’m worried that you’d punch him at my work.
Me: You know I’m smarter than that. How did you get to being okay with sleeping with him?
Carol: I don’t know.
Me: How did you get to thinking that was an acceptable option?
Carol: I don’t know.
Me: Come on, you have to have been exploring this in counselling. If she thinks you don’t need to be going there anymore, you must have made progress on that.
Carol: It’s just… things weren’t so great with us. And I’d talk to him and he’d build it up like it was something way worse than it was. He’d say, ‘well you should do this’ or ‘you should do that’. Like he kept talking about it and he’d complain about his life too. I can’t think of anything specifically… it just… now that you’ve helped me see how things really are, I’m having trouble seeing what it was that made me think things were so bad.
Me: Do you understand now what I meant in counselling when I said the problem was not so much our marriage as it was you? That I had my back against the wall and all I could do was react?
Carol: I was miserable and in an abusive relationship and I came home and took it out on you.
Me: Do you feel like a victim?
Carol: I feel like I made myself a victim when I should been smarter than that. I don’t want people’s sympathy because I got myself into this mess.
Me: Did you ever consider yourself to be a cheater?
Carol: While it was happening?
Me: No, at any point before.
Carol: I didn’t think I was that kind of person.
Me: Do you understand what I meant when I said there was nothing in our marriage that was so bad that you could ever consider cheating? That I’ve done nothing to deserve this? There is one time where I could kind of, sort of understand someone having an affair. That would be a revenge affair, but even then, and many betrayed bloggers agree with me, it’s so completely unacceptable. A person who knows what that kind of betrayal feels like would then go make another man’s wife feel that kind of betrayal too? No. I can understand the desire to retaliate against someone with an affair of your own but it’s still inexcusable. But there was no reason at all to ever consider cheating in our marriage. I did not deserve this at all. That’s why I wondered if it was even about me at all.
Carol: I just wasn’t happy. I didn’t know how to deal with it. My life didn’t turn out the way I imagined. We got married, we had a baby. Then you got sick and we had to find a new house. You got really sick and I couldn’t handle it. Then Sarah came along and that was a terrible pregnancy. Then she was born and it wasn’t any easier. I was just broken.
Me: I had to learn how to handle being sick too.
Carol: I know but it was different for me, dealing with the sickness from this side.
Me: I would’ve recovered from my surgeries a lot quicker if you didn’t decide that those were the times to start yelling at me. Remember when I found out you were on antidepressants and you told me it was ‘none of my business’? While we were separated, I’ve told friends of mine about that and they agree that that is just insane.
Carol: I don’t agree with that.
Me: That it’s okay to keep major issues to yourself?
Carol: No, that you should be able to tell me what kind of treatment I receive.
Me: Carol, that’s not the issue. The issue is that you didn’t tell me that you were on them.
Carol: Yes, I did.
Me: No, I found out when you were yelling at me while I was recovering from surgery!
Carol: No, I told you before that.
Me: No, you didn’t because I blindsided by that info.
Carol: I remember it differently.
Me: Anyway, you handled things the worse way possible. I was there for you but when I was recovering from surgery, that’s when I needed you. Remember your C-section? You cried at that event and refused my help while your grandmother was standing there getting all testy with me for not helping you. Then you yelled at my mother. When I finally got you home, what did I do? I took care of you. My mom was very upset but you were hurting and needed to recover so I let it go and helped you the best I could.
Me: I have a hard time believing a woman would ever forgive a man who fucked with her pregnancy plan, let alone what you did. Did you somehow twist that into being my fault?
Me: Do you understand that much of the tension in our marriage was caused by your insistence on developing a relationship with a scumbag? That you were okay with causing it? That when you’re at a family charity and instead of sitting and eating lunch with your husband, you take off to talk with him privately?
Carol: I can’t explain why I did that.
Me: Can’t explain or are afraid the explanation will hurt me? You had to know at some point that he was trying to have sex with you. You had many warnings, you were constantly putting the marriage at risk. Why?
Carol: It felt good to know I could still attract someone. To feel wanted?
Me: To feel wanted by a piece of shit? You know, much better men than him want you.
Carol: I know.
She reached out and touched me. I didn’t like that. That’s not what I meant. I’ve dealt with men flirting with her before and they didn’t introduce themselves by making her work overtime while pregnant. She could feel wanted and attractive by another man wanting to flirt with her. She could reject the advances and be done with it.
Me: One thing I read, when I was reading all these articles about why people cheat, was that people cheat to trade up.
Carol: That’s clearly not the case here.
Me: You’re telling me. The other bloggers I’ve come to know have the same problem. Their husbands slept with nasty whores. I guess it’s slim pickings when options are limited to women who sleep with married men. You know, one blogger posted a picture of the woman that her husband slept with. It was her mugshot.
Me: Yeah, so why? Why trade down?
Carol: Well, my life wasn’t how I imagined. I wanted you to be more handy and more social…
Me: But you’re neither of those things!
Carol: But I was hoping you’d throw parties and barbecues and make me have to do things. Rick did those kinds of things and I found that appealing.
Me: And the verbal abuse towards his wife and cheating on her, treating you like shit and screaming at you were the icing on the cake, huh?
Carol: No, I know it was only those two things and he was terrible every other way, but it was like I was fixated on those two things. They became more important than they really are.
Me: Look. I can’t be perfect. I got sick, and I fought my way to become the man I am now. Unlike him who just cries about his health problems and refuses to do anything about it. I’m not too handy. So what? I do what I can. And I take care of my family, I cook, I clean, I handle the finances, I do my part in everything. I even do laundry sometimes but you won’t let me fold.
Carol giggled at that last part. She is very particular about the folding.
Me: I’m tired of being modest or putting myself down so I’m going to tell you honestly. I’m way up here when it comes to quality men and he’s…
Carol: Scum. I know. I know you’re a great husband and father. I just refused to see it. I’m a bad person.
Me: You were a bad person. You’re being a better person now.
Carol: My head hurts and I feel sick to my stomach. But it’s okay, you can continue.
Me: What else did you do with him?
Carol: What do you mean?
Me: These are the questions I was afraid to ask. You said you had sex twice. But there’s more to it than that. There was a lead up to that. What else did you do?
Carol: Just inappropriate hugging.
Me: What does that mean?
Carol: We hugged whenever we got the chance.
Me: Hugging? Well there’s got to be more to it than that. What’s inappropriate? Hugging with a boner?
Carol: No, he didn’t grind into me.
Me: Groping, then.
Carol: There was butt grabbing.
Me: For how long?
Carol: I don’t know. It just escalated over time. It was a lot of friendly flirting.
Me: Haha, ‘friendly flirting’? No such thing.
I have no idea if there is such a thing.
Carol: I know that now.
Me: Do you understand how you were failing to protect the marriage? Did you not realize at some point that it was inappropriate?
Carol: I knew it was.
Me: And when a guy asks you to go book shopping with him alone, you say ‘no’ then you laugh about it to your husband. Instead of immediately dismissing the invitation, you’d come to me and ask if you could go with him. Can you see how that is already insulting?
Me: And when you asked me if you two could go for a boat ride together, I said ‘No matter how I answer, I lose.’ Because if I said ‘yes’, I had to worry about what you were doing and you getting closer to him, and if I said ‘no’, you would resent me and it would drive you closer to him anyway.
Me: What am I supposed to think? The fact that you could let that get out of hand like that. Despite all the warnings you constantly let it go too far until you got to this point. What’s to say you won’t do this again when you decide that things aren’t going your way?
Carol: I will never do that again.
Me: Well you better remember how this feels and never forget it. And your job. Were you not concerned about losing your job?
Carol: I was.
Me: But it was worth the risk for him, huh?
Me: Do you feel like you were raped?
Carol: No… but I feel like I was used.
Me: Did you ever feel like you would lose your job if you didn’t have sex with him?
Carol: Not lose my job, but that he would make it hell for me if I didn’t give in.
That’s a very important answer. Very, very important.
Carol: Can I be done for tonight?
Me: I want to know if there is anything unique to us anymore. What about pictures?
Me: Did you send dirty pictures?
Me: Great, I thought that was something special between us. No wonder it was so easy to get you to take pictures. Wonderful. What pictures did you send him?
Carol: My boobs.
Carol: Because he asked for it.
Carol: Between the two times we did it.
Me: Great, so he has a picture of your boobs.
Carol: I doubt he still has it.
Me: So he has a picture of your boobs. Digital evidence. Honestly, why risk your job like that?
Carol: I didn’t think we were going to get caught.
Me: What did you expect to happen?
Carol: We’d probably have kept doing it for a while, then stopped and that would be the end of it.
I chuckled at this ridiculousness.
Me: This is sounding a whole lot less like, ‘It just happened.’ Did you plan on doing it here that day?
Carol: No… but we saw it as an opportunity.
Me: What else did you do?
Me: Fine, did you orgasm?
She had told me that I’m the only one to ever make her orgasm. I wanted to see if she was lying.
Carol: I touched it but no hand job.
I thought for a moment.
Me: Hm, I thought I’d want to kick you out again but, no. I’m handling this well, strangely.
Me: Is there anything else I need to know?
Carol: What do you mean?
Me: Fine, let me rephrase it. Is there anything you haven’t told me yet that you fear would upset me if I heard it?
Carol: I… had feelings for him.
Me: Obviously. What, were you in love?
Carol: No… not in love, but a love, like, I cared about him.
Me: Do you now?
Carol: No, I don’t like him at all. I hate him.
Me: Is there anything special just between you and me anymore?
Carol: Yes, there is.
Me: Sexually too?
Me: Do you think you deserve me?
Her eyes welled up.
Me: Do you think that, in time, you will believe you deserve me?
Me: Do you love me?
Me: Do you want to grow old me?
Carol: Yes, I do!
The tears were freely flowing. She was trembling.
Me: Do you want me to hold you?
She crawled into my arms and sobbed. I held her and smiled. I’m glad she couldn’t see the smile because I could imagine it looked like satisfaction at her sadness. But it wasn’t. Very few times in our marriage has she cried so hard. Now she was doing so because she was so genuinely remorseful and so full of regret for what she did that her whole body wept. I smiled because I knew what crying like this meant.
Carol: I’m so, so sorry for what I did. I can’t stand it. It makes me sick.
Me: That’s okay. I’m glad you feel this way about it because it shows me you do so completely regret what you did and you do love me and don’t want to lose me.
Carol: And it makes me sick to relive it to answer your questions. I hate what I did.
We squeezed each other tightly for a long time. I felt tears in my own eyes. I was thrilled to be feeling such love and desire for her, strong enough that I was close to crying too. It was still very muted in a way, but it was there.
Me: Carol, I will never give you any bit of justification for cheating. Never. As long as you’re with me, I will never hurt you, never betray you, never be cruel to you. If you decide to cheat again, it will again be without any way to blame me. It will be yours to own 100%.
Carol: I will never, ever do this to you again. I love you so, so much.
Me: You’re making me fall in love with you all over again.
After a while I got up and got ready for bed.
Carol: Can we still snuggle when you come back to bed?
Me: Of course. Always.
I didn’t sleep well. Partially because I just wanted to feel her skin touching mine and partially because I was replaying the conversation over and over in my head. Trying to remember specific parts of it.
I’m hurt. I’m angry. I have no trust. I feel like a huge chunk of me is missing.
But I also feel, for the first time in many years, that a woman truly loves me and is completely devoted to me. It’s just too bad I had to suffer so greatly for it. But that’s life I guess. Nothing good comes easy. If you don’t suffer for it, you don’t appreciate it.