A Casual Conversation About the Affair

At 5:00am Monday morning, Carol woke up to see me browsing on my phone.

“What are you doing?” She asked.

“Working on the timeline,” I said.

I looked through Facebook then made some notes on key dates. No longer able to sleep, I started preparing for the day, which would start with getting the kids up and ready for school in a couple of hours. Who needs sleep anyway?

Carol got ready for work then met me in the kitchen.

“I’m so sorry. I love you,” she said with tears in her eyes.

She walked to the front door and I met her there. I wanted to say something, something that would get her to respond in the perfect way to take all this pain away.

She reached out and hugged me tight. I hugged her back but barely. She pulled back and looked into my eyes.

“I love you so much,” Carol said.

“I love you too,” I said with insincerity and suspicion.

As Carol was heading out the door I asked, “Am I going to discover something else?”

“It was starting to get inappropriate a little while before that file, then Jennifer got pregnant and he went to work in another area. After she had the baby, he came back and started up again and that’s when it crossed the line completely.”

“Okay,” I said, then I sat down and did some searching on my phone until I could determine the birthdate of Jennifer and Rick’s daughter.

That puts inappropriate conduct in 2013, and sexual contact in 2014, I thought. Not that it really matters, it’s all cheating to me. The moment she asked me if it was alright that she go with him to the bookstore, “because he needs my help finding parenting books,” it was cheating. You entertain the idea of going along with a creep’s obvious attempt to get you alone? You’re cheating.

So, I spent the day at work fuming and receiving messages from Carol that included her sad face. We texted a bit about the damage caused by her dishonesty. She told me we’ll talk more after the kids were asleep. Eventually, I asked her for a smiling picture and she sent one, maybe feeling a little better knowing I wanted to see her happy.

I drove around the neighbourhood for a bit before coming home. When I finally faced the fact that I had to go home, I saw Carol curled up on the couch when I got there. I kept busy doing some chores around the house because I still wasn’t quite in the mood to deal with her yet. I was exhausted from another sleepless night and I was just done dealing with my issues with her for the time being.

Finally, I sat down beside Carol and she immediately pulled me onto her and cried and told me how much she loves me again.

“Worried about what I may find?” I asked.

“I’m just upset to have to think about it and I hate hurting you. I just want to move on and never think about him again.”

At night time, I put on a movie. I had no intentions of talking to her about anything. I was tired and done. We snuggled and fooled around a bit and that lead to her giving me a handjob.

“I hope that made you feel better. I hate to see you upset,” she said.

“No, that was terrible. Please don’t ever do such a thing again,” I teased.

We watched the movie for a bit. I began to ask questions, seeing if there were grounds for a lawsuit here. Unfortunately, though sexual harassment clearly occurred (eventually consenting doesn’t negate sexual harassment), there wasn’t any hard evidence of it and thus far, she hasn’t officially reported anything besides a general harassment toward her and other employees, and I don’t think that even ended up in writing.

From this conversation Carol went back to the beginning and told me how it all started.

As it stands, the story is now as follows:

  • Carol came back from maternity leave suffering from postpartum and drained from the difficult pregnancy and early months with our daughter.
  • She was insecure about her appearance and saw herself on a store surveillance video and commented negatively on herself in from of him. He complimented her and she liked it.
  • A friendship developed. She claims she made the biggest mistake here and complained about me.
  • He began making unwanted advances. She didn’t want to report it because his parents were the owners and figured it would only cost her job. She thought she could handle it by ignoring the sexual harassment.
  • He began working in another area and his wife became pregnant. Contact fizzled out for a while until his wife gave birth.
  • Carol was promoted and began working closely with him again.
  • He insisted that they were “best friends” and as the harassment escalated, he told her, “Of course we love our spouses, but we’re missing a little something in our lives. No harm in being a little flirty with a friend.” As it became more physical, he continued to insist that they were best friends and it’s okay to have a little fun. By the time they went all the way, he told her that it’s only natural that being best friends would lead to this.

Now some other points in no particular order:

  • She realizes now that their friendly confiding in each other was completely one sided. He’d start by asking her how she was doing to make it appear as if he cared but he didn’t actually listen to her. Instead it was all to create the opportunity to unload on her about all his problems.
  • He had a way of twisting her words around on her. He was always downplaying issues she had with him while turning her personal issues at home with me into serious marital problems.
  • She would get comfortable enough with him as a friend to question or call out work behaviours to which he’d reply, “I’m your boss, don’t you dare talk to me about my job! I’ll do whatever the fuck I want to do.”
  • He would insist that she visit him after work and if she avoided him for a while, he’d pressure and guilt her about being a poor friend.
  • If she was getting out of line with her questioning or yelling at him for not pulling his weight, or she avoided having “visits” for too long, he would do an even poorer job at work (she always had to pick up his slack), he’d find things to get her in trouble for, and he’d swear at her and humiliate her in front of the employees. He didn’t outright say he was punishing her for not engaging in sexual activity, he told her that it was unrelated, but the pattern showed otherwise.
  • She couldn’t outright say “no” to visiting him, so she often tried to come up with excuses. Inevitably she had to see him for the sake of peace at her job.
  • As he was becoming more unhinged with his drug use and behaviour, she brought a friend to the visits or met him at a public place. This was insufficient obviously, as his requested visits were for sex.
  • When Carol insisted on hanging out with him to the detriment of our marriage, I believe it was sometimes a required visit, and sometimes because she thought they actually were best friends confiding in each other and just having a little fun. I also recall numerous occasions when she desperately looked to me to provide excuses not to visit him. “Rick wants me to come over for a beer tonight. I can’t just say ‘no’ or he’ll get mad. What can I tell him we are busy doing?”
  • She knew that leaving me and going with him would not make her happier. She knew it was not a good thing they had and he was not a good person. She was trapped in a situation where she knew she was doing wrong but was in too deep to find a way out.
  • One manager in particular is a good witness to the verbal abuse.
  • She wanted to tell her close friends but didn’t know how.
  • She wanted to even tell me at times but again she was in too deep and couldn’t even begin to figure out how she’d go about it.
  • She told me they had sex just twice because that’s what he told her to tell me. Allegedly, she stuck with that story through our reconciliation thus far to spare me further pain.
  • He treated her poorly almost of the time then turn around and be nice and helpful after it had gone so far. To this I replied, “How do you make a person feel wanted? Start by making them feel unwanted. It’s all part of the game for manipulative pieces of shit.”
  • As she stated before, she never thought of herself as a person who would become a cheater, never looked to cheat on me, never intended to cheat on me, but it was the perfect storm of being lost and unhappy around someone else to take advantage of her in that situation.

Following all these details, Carol said, “I’m glad I got the whole story out, but I really hate seeing you hurt so much. I’m so sorry. Yes, he was abusive and manipulative, but I could’ve said ‘no’. I wish I had just reported the sexual harassment in the beginning. I wish I had properly addressed my postpartum. I wish I had talked to you.”

So, that is the story now. Will there be new information? I told her I wanted it all out, that I will not be able to handle another discovery. I made that very clear. But is she still hiding something? I can’t tell. I’m expecting trauma and disappointment so much now that it’s clouding my intuition.

We have a marriage counselling appointment today. I hope all goes well.

I’m nervous.

14 thoughts on “A Casual Conversation About the Affair

  1. Oh I hope for your sake that’s all of it! I got the trickle truth for 2.5 years! And it has broken me beyond repair. 2.5 years of lies and discoveries, no wonder I can’t heal 🤪
    But I sooo hope it’s better for you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, and I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with that. I understand some of the reasons why they don’t want to give us all the information, but in the end, they just cause more pain and slow the healing process. I’m very interested in hearing what the counsellor has to say about this.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Even if what you know is the truth, it’s all slanted to her being a hapless victim. And really… that’s likely not as true as she’s spinning. The energy that cheaters get from the thrill, the secrecy, the constant drama is a drug. Him always being the one who spins you into a villain is probably not true, the one sided flirting is likely a lie. The intimidation and job fear I totally get. Yes she definitely used you to get out of some meet ups. But I think leading the Horse to water was likely not as hard going as she says.

    Really- none of that matters. What matters is: is she truly committed to change. Is she willing to sign a post nup that will give you everything you need and generous child share situations if she messes up again, can you forgive her, and can you learn to trust her again and not be the marriage police. If you have read chump lady you will know all these things. If you haven’t, I would really suggest her blog and forum to help you decipher if carol is just saying what she needs to try to keep her life convenient and easy, or if she is a unicorn- the one in a billion cheater who is actually capable of not being an asshole going forward

    Like

    1. She certainly hasn’t been spinning it as her being a hapless victim. She’s been having an absolute hell of a time dealing with the fact that she was manipulated and used.

      When it comes to determining what to do going forward, I’ll continue on my path of marriage counselling and my own therapy to help guide me. Whatever is best for me is what I’ll do.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Doing what’s right for you- That’s all we can do. There really isn’t one right path. It’s not a thing. And her flogging herself when dealing with you and counsellor… that’s par for the course when cheaters are caught. But it’s important to ensure going forward that you’re set up super secure. Protect yourself first

        Like

      2. It’s always amazing to me how outsiders project intention and meaning on other people with labels and armchair diagnosis. It is easy to fall back to lazy stereotypes or caricatures when discussing these things.

        Jack, IDK if you will choose to stay or leave. They fact you recognize her as a human being first with her own frailities and hurts is incredibly empathetic. The fact she recognizes and empathizes with you for the pain she caused you and the family is powerful too. After the reveal of my betrayal interlopers and Flying Monkeys came out of the woodwork and shamed © telling her monster stories about me and criminalizing my story. “Only the weak stay and he was a souless uncaring con-man taking you. If you stay it’s only because you suffer from Stockholm syndrome or you are an abuse survivor.” I was also called a narcissist, pathological, souless, unrepentant, and a bunch of other click-bait psychological nonsense. What a bunch of bullshit.

        If she went all stoic, pretended nothing happened, swept it under the rug, blamed you, or continued to act out perhaps a different set of solutions would be required but to take a risk, face the uncertainty, and being emotionally open takes courage in the face of the pain. If she didn’t care it would be easier to run.

        I’m glad you reject the argument of the moral absolutests and contemptuous.

        I don’t know of you will stay or leave. What I do know is the couples that leverage this experience to build something deeper and more meaningful, with or without them, shows that having a deeper and more meaningful relationship often requires pain acting as a motivator. That doesn’t mean reconciliation but it does open the door to something more meaningful that reconciliation and powerful. As long as you dig into yourself you will change. Her change has to be motivated by her pain…and you both have pain on spades.

        I know my situation is different from yours…but I really admire you and your wife for not running away and trying to run towards each other even if it is haltingly. That is courageous too and if you weather the storm together you can do anything together. There is power in pain.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. You have been very clear.

        People just like to pile on. I read Gone’s comments, and others, and they are shaming you for staying. It’s because you chosen the harder and more rewarding path of making the effort. Haters are gonna hate.

        Tend your own garden and don’t internalize the weeds others keep trying to sow into yours.

        I think hurt people hurt people and sometimes their pain bleeds out onto strangers. Your vulnerability makes you an easy target for people that are avoiding their own shit.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Jack- I’m sorry if my comments bother you. And sure, some of my comments generalise a bit- I am wary because I have read your story top to bottom, and see so much unfolding where I hope you are safe. I really love that you and carol are working on things. I also tried. But when I started blogging, I was followed and commented on from people of all walks- people from both sides of the marriage, people who made things work, people who chose to leave, people who rebuilt and then were shattered again- and I went from being certain I was leaving, to being staunchly reconciled, to realising that my heart and hurt would not heal well as a couple with him, and knowing that the man I married needed to be given a chance to start new. And my blog folk- from all walks were there for me through it- they challenged me and also ensured that even when I was in one camp or another that I was careful and aware. I can tell you- no one who is commenting is trying to call down your wife or your choice. They are asking you to protect you as well. Because saving a marriage needs to go hand in hand with saving yourself. That’s all. If you would prefer I not post that’s chill, I have a few blogs where I just read and care. 🙂

        Like

      5. And Gone.

        I know this might have sounded harsh but I keep reading your comments here, and elsewhere, and I try to understand your experience and empathize with your pain. I try not to be closed-minded.

        I’m sorry your expectations about your life, relationship, and identity were betrayed, and your feelings were hurt. I wish these kind of things didn’t happen but they do. I’m not trying to dismiss your experience or your pain.

        I wish there was a better language to describe what happened but everytime I hear someone leverage labels like “cheater” I think of something my doctor said, “You are more than the sum of your betrayal.”

        So while yes, in pain, it is simple to take a reductionist approach to cheating and use the label “cheater” Carol is many other things too and Jack seems to know it. Which appears to me, based on his post last week, how he is trying to see his wife. She isn’t simply a cheater, but a woman that cheated. She isn’t a failure, she is a human being that failed. She isn’t simply a liar but a woman that lied.

        Labels like cheater, whore, liar, and other language is intended to create and perpetuate shame. Shame drives a need to keep more secrets. When shame is leveraged for revenge it creates a need to hide even more and closes the door to vulnerability.

        And by Jack’s post he feels shame and remorse for talking to her like he has been.

        It seems he knows what he did hurt her and he regrets the shaming he piled on. He feels shame and guilt. That is healthy.

        She also appears to feel shame and guilt. That is normal too. It isn’t simply because she got caught. It is because she knows and all the pain is bleeding out her eyes. She is trying to express her pain too…and your decision describe that as self flogging as as simply and act for attention is sad. Have you not compassion? Empathy? Understanding? Why do you assume it isn’t genuine pain, guilt, shame, humiliation for what she did to herself, her family, and the man she loves?

        I learned as I’ve gone through this process how willing people are to reduce people to intellectually and emotionally lazy terms like cheater. It’s a type of othering that makes it acceptable to blame others for our own fears and angers instead of dealing with them. What I admire about Jack (and Dolly, Ellen, Moisy, Tigerlily and others) is how they abandoned lazy narratives such as “once a cheater always a cheater” and leaned into the idea that people mean well but are imperfect. Their partners cheated is not the same as saying their partner is a cheater. One way has hope and allows for growth and change and the latter is a monolithic belief allowing for no change.

        Again, this isn’t specifically about this comment but a couple of others you’ve made, and I’ve watched it go unchecked over and over. What benefit is it you to plant the seed of doubts in other people’s garden repeatedly?

        They may split or repair to re-pair but allow them the dignity to try. Why don’t you offer encouragement and hope instead of simply piling on shame and feeding suspicion and doubt?

        Couples recover all the time from betrayal. So can Jack and his wife.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. It doesn’t seem harsh, it sounds like you strongly moor with your perspective. You ask me about empathy, and yes, I absolutely feel for carol but I am responding and empathising primarily with Jack because this is his blog, and empathy does not require I check my wariness. I can feel more than one thing at a time. I think it’s marvellous that you and others speak out about reform. I do think it’s possible. I do think that Jack needs to protect himself and a strong affinity to that from carol would indicate change on her part because if she really has the best of intent and only love and a focus on Jack and her healing, she would want him to have that security. Another chance is not a foregone conclusion, it’s a blessing.

        I have seen the other side of things a lot. Where the promises are just the basis for new lies. I also know that there’s a juggernaut of support for people who reconcile. I would say 70% of websites out there are about fixing your marriage and how to do it. There may be a lot of ‘oh cheating is awful’ discussion, but a massive amount of space and time is about those who go through reform and reconciliation, people who talk about leaving are often maligned and made to feel like a sociopath for deciding that breaking up is our path, and supporting people if that’s what they choose also. Your response is elegant and thoughtful and doesn’t make me feel like a sociopath but your emphasis that I support the couple in order to be supportive is an opinion. This blog is open free thoughts and Jack is commenting on his feelings about his wife and I’m encouraging him to really make sure he is protected. And to explore those feelings fully. I don’t mean to slag Carol but if I am chatting on a blog about relationships in general it’s easier to refer to people as the cheater, generalizations happen and I will attempt to be more sensitive in the future. I do understand that people are far more than one thing. I understand that this is a very complex situation, lots of people, lots of feelings, lots of circumstances. And so its not easy and things didn’t happen because of one thing. And it wasn’t one mistake. I’m all to aware of all the things which contribute to the world of infidelity.

        I have meditated on my role and who I was, am, and want to be. I aim to be honest. It’s my core tenant right now. And I expect honesty from my people. That’s all I really hold true to. Because it is the most clear way that I can see to avoid all the convoluted stuff that leads to this.

        It isn’t easy, it’s a gargantuan struggle. Being real when it will hurt even a bit is sometimes totally against how people were raised and how they think they bring value to the world. But the more I work through it, the more I find it brings people I love closer to me, starts conversations like this one, and allows people who don’t have the same values to distance themselves. They are uncomfortable with me wanting the hurt versus the lie- and as such they pull back. And I would rather have the hurt, so that is just fine by me.

        Yep, I’m damaged, no question. And my story is nothing like Jack, aside from being gobsmacked when finding out you’ve been cheated on. That said- I want him to know that I’m in his corner regardless of his choice. Because being honest- if he and carol make it work that’s amazing. If he and carol don’t make it as a couple, he’s and she have every right and capability of still being amazing. I’m allowed to say that.

        I don’t think I ever called her a name aside from cheater and if I did I’m sorry. And I don’t know where else you’re reading my comments, but I genuinely just want people to be ok. I just know that sometimes that doesn’t mean together. I’m sorry I irk you.

        Cheers

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s