I remember the day the world stood still for me.
My husband got a new phone and as always he gave me his old phone as a hand me down. At the time that he gave me the phone, I guess the invention of totally wiping out all data from a phone's memory had not been created because I found a weird file. Of course I opened the file and I swear I think my heart stopped beating for a few seconds before suddenly racing at 100mph.
I saw the MOST inappropriate discussions between my husband and some woman!
It was clear she did not live in our state, but the discussions held between the two displayed a familiarity with each other. It didn't exude a sexual familiarity, rather exchanges suggesting they were emotionally comfortable with each other. I remember thinking if the conversations were frivolous and centered around sex, I would have felt better. Still hurt. Still betrayed. Still distraught, but better. I still can't relive the details, but I'll just say it was clear that they filled an emotional need for one another.
Within an hour of discovering their texts, I had the chick's name, phone number, occupation, residential and employment history. My opinion of her was that she was an immensely lonely woman that was so desperate for male interaction. (Sidebar, I didn't confront her. Ladies, please never call another woman and give her the pleasure of knowing she's a center of controversy in your home. But that's a future blog). After intense reflection on my marriage and counseling, I realized the woman on the other end of that text was not the only lonely person; I later discovered my husband was an immensely lonely man desperate for female interaction as well.
The third year of marriage was extremely tough for me. My youngest daughter was one-year-old and I was still adjusting to being a mother of two, which was hard since I was an only child and my girls have a five-year age difference. Besides motherhood, my new post-baby body created insecurities in myself that I never knew could exist. I recall times when my husband would tell me how beautiful he thought I was and I would interrupt him and spend a few moments highlighting my flaws.
Work was also wearing me down. I went from maternity leave straight back to work on a high profile project. My days were very long and I was drained. If I wasn't at work, I was at the gym or running my oldest daughter to her after school activities. By the time I got home I was completely drained. (I remember waking up in random places in the middle of the night…the middle of my closet after passing out looking for something to wear the next day, the edge of my daughter's bed after putting her to sleep, etc.). I knew my stress levels were high and that my hectic life was getting to me. I thought it would be okay since my work situation was temporary due to my project, but I had no idea of the impact my temporary insanity had on my marriage.
I had no idea of the impact my temporary insanity had on my marriage.
I felt like me and my husband communicated all the time. Later I realized I was doing all the talking—constant complaints about my demanding job were wearing on my husband. As you can imagine, I was always irritable and snappy. Too tired for intimacy and too cranky for spontaneity, I had no clue that I was creating emotional havoc and a void in my marriage. I spent my weekends making up for lost time with my kids and balancing their activity schedules, but I didn't do anything extra to assure I remained connected with my husband.
He made the biggest mistake in the world and never communicated his feelings to me. He assumed I realized the distance and he thought I could care less. His emotional affair initially put our marriage in severe jeopardy. I immediately thought, oh hell no! There's no coming back and we're done! After three years of marriage, I was planning my marital exit strategy.
After a few talks, I agreed to go to counseling.
I figured the counselor was going to let him have it. I wanted him to know exactly how much he hurt me. To my surprise I was in the hot seat and was being called out to stop playing the victim and get to the root of the issues.
I don't take any blame for his actions, but I do take 100% blame for his feelings because I can honestly say that I created that environment. My husband was wrong for what he did and his actions to find fulfillment almost destroyed us. But, the irony in his infidelity was that it didn't break us, it actually made us stronger.
Despite all the information I learned about the other woman, today I don't even remember her name. She was merely a symbol of a much greater issue far beyond anything or anyone outside of our marriage can create. For me, it took way longer to move beyond the fact that my husband didn't feel secure about coming to me with his feelings vs. his indiscretion.
Today, my husband is more than capable of expressing his feelings and understands that holding back just to avoid temporary conflict was very unfair to me and did not give me the opportunity to at least recognize and correct my actions. As for me, I am a much more aware wife. I'm a go-getter so I still put a lot of effort in professional success, but I am so much better at balancing my life and at the end of the day, my family comes first. Our marriage will never be perfect—nothing in life is—but we're committed to each other and our marriage and we're not easily broken!
I hear so many women say that cheating is a deal breaker. I can certainly understand that sentiment because moving past the hurt is beyond difficult, but every situation is different. If you can honestly say that you give 110% to your marriage and that you unequivocally fulfill your spouse's needs and he strays, then leaving may be something to strongly consider for the man that seems impossible to satisfy despite your efforts! But I can honestly say I was not that wife and I have to make a conscious effort (every day) to be that wife.
If you are currently in the situation I was, before making any irrational decisions, you may want to review, reassess and then revitalize your marriage before calling it quits! Our situation forced me to stop only looking at him and to shift my focus to take the steps to become more aware of myself. Had I not taken those steps, I wouldn't be the Happy Wife I am today.
Rhea Plummer is the founder and Executive Director of Fab Wives, a community of wives committed to love & marriage
Rhea's personal mission is to inspire wives by providing a raw and honest look into marriage through the stories shared on fabwives.com
The primary goals for Fab Wives are to reclaim the perception of modern day marriage and provide resources to assist wives in balancing the many acts associated with marriage in the new millennium.