Thursday, August 14, 2008
The news has been littered with John Edwards affair and the aftermath that is his life. Yesterday, in fact, there was an article on MSN that was titled "Edwards' wife in anguish after affair." This struck a chord with me in the fact that even if we do not deal with infidelity directly, the odds that it will touch our lives in some fashion is likely.
Over at "On the Flip Side" Kellan posted a question "What would you do if you Found out your husband was cheating?" After all the comments were in, most people agreed their first instinct would be to kick him to the curb, but in the end would rather attempt to work it out and stay with their husband.
For me, I've seen the issue from both sides. I've been the friend who's watched a marriage crumble because my friend made a mistake. Her husband never did trust her quite the same, nor did she trust him. She always thought he would 'cheat' just to get even with her and he always thought she was cheating, even though she wasn't. Their relationship didn't survive and now they have moved on with their lives.
In my own personal life, years ago (before my husband and I were married or had discussed marriage) we went through a rough patch. I have always said relationships are hard work - this one is no different. We had been together for about 2 years and had endured living together, working together, ex-spouses, very young children, natural disasters and just all around really bad times...we had finally reached our breaking point and yet, neither one of us said "lets walk away, lets call it quits." Instead, we moved our families into separate states and attempted to carry on some semblance of a long distance relationship. I felt that things were wrong between us, but I wanted to believe we would come out of it ok, perhaps some time and distance apart would make the heart grow fonder. (I am a bit of a romantic) The hub (then boyfriend) also knew things weren't going so well and had decided to go his own way, one little problem, he 'forgot' to tell me. So yes, he cheated on me.
I never knew. I went along in my own little cocoon because that is what I wanted to know, needed to believe despite all the other signs. To this day, I doubt I would have ever known had he not decided to tell me the truth. Shortly before he 'popped' the question, he called me one night and started with the dreaded "I need to tell you something..." My heart stopped - I knew what was coming even before he said it. It didn't matter the reasons or the who or any of the rest - in that instant my world cracked, but it didn't shatter. Yes, I was hurt, I was angry - how dare he do this to me after the time and energy we've invested into this relationship. If he wanted out, why didn't he just say so?
Those were the questions I wanted answers to...why didn't he just leave? In the end it came down to one thing...Do I love this man? Do I love this man enough to forgive him?
No I wasn't married to him so we could have gone our separate ways without much hassle, but personally I couldn't imagine my life without him in it. Doing some of the things I've done in my life, especially from a military standpoint, I've watched men and women alike throw caution to the wind and follow their desires. I know first hand that we are only human and we make mistakes. I believe the key to getting past this however is forgiveness for yourself and your partner.
I don't believe there are things we can do to prevent infidelity despite what some say is the reason behind it. If we gave them more attention, showed more love, praised more - I don't think these things will actually prevent someone from cheating. It might delay the process, but I believe that if the lines of communication are broken in a relationship and you can't talk to your partner about what is bothering you, then how could you ever expect them to make you feel better? I am a firm believer that no one is responsible for your happiness but you and if you are not happy, no one person or one thing will be able to fix it but you.
Trust is a fragile thing and once it's broken it is never quite the same. For my relationship though, I loved this man enough to work through it and today we are stronger - however if he ever does it again...