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I have had this diary in my queue for almost 2 years.  From time to time I revisit it and try to hone what it is I really want to say.  I didn't want it to be a diary about lust.  Or about conquest.  Or sex.  Even though those strains run through it.  The fact is...I still struggle with the one and only affair I have ever been involved in during my life.  It haunts me.  I don't have to remember it...it has never really stopped shaping me.  In ways that I regret, I must say...but cannot escape.  It was like stepping in a hot glob of bubblegum, and I've been trying to scrape it off of my shoe for some 14 years now.  

It's still there.

This will be a self revelatory diary, I suppose.  Though self revelation is not my primary goal.  It is, however, part of what makes me need to write this diary.  I feel like Atlas at times...and I would dearly like to rid myself of the weight I have been carrying for so many years.

When most people think of extra-marital affairs, their first image is that of the "Other Woman."  I was the "Other Man."

It doesn't matter who you are...it's a bad place to be.  Even as it feels so perfectly right at the time.

You can save a drowning person from a river, or a riptide at the beach.  Perhaps, even, from simply the deep end of the pool.  You can't save a person who is trapped in a deadend marriage, or even worse...only they can save themselves.  If you think you have the lifesaver that you can toss in their direction, and can pull them in...you need to step back, look in the mirror, and do an honest assessment of your own narcissism and your own motivations.  

Are you really trying to save someone else?  Or is it really something deeper than that?  I understand that the heart wants what the heart wants, but the heart is a fickle organ.  At at the end of the day, it's not that hard to understand:

I was raised on Hollywood images of "the affair."  They were mostly romantic.  Think Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, in "An Affair to Remember.".  Or Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn in "Same Time Next Year."

It was either "no harm, no foul", or it was "and they lived happily ever after."

That's not real life.  But it's amazing the hold that both popular culture and your own narcissism can hold upon your psyche.  When I met Susan, I was attracted to her immediately.  She was irresistible.  And she was married.

No problema, I told myself...I had been flirting with her for a couple of months, and I knew she was unhappy in her marriage to the n'th degree.  Or so I thought.  I could steal this woman away from her negligent husband in three snaps of the finger.

See how it begins?  Narcissism.

But it was more than that.  I was truly rocked by her, and she seemed to be wowed by me.  Looking back upon it, I hate to be so cynical as to say that we were just using each other...I know it was more than that.  But in the end...yeah...everyone sort of retreated to the neutral corners that they had been inhabiting long before, and the "Lust in the Dust" turned into "just don't call my husband."

Remember the premise of "An Affair to Remember?"

Handsome playboy Nicky Ferrante and beautiful night club singer Terry McKay have a romance while on a cruise from Europe to New York. Despite being engaged to other people, both agree to reunite at the top of the Empire State Building in six months.
"Same Time, Next Year" was equally Hollywood hogwash:
A man and woman meet by chance at a romantic inn over dinner. Although both are married to others, they find themselves in the same bed the next morning questioning how this could have happened. They agree to meet on the same weekend each year. Originally a stage play, the two are seen changing, years apart, always in the same room in different scenes. Each of them always appears on schedule, but as time goes on each has some personal crisis that the other helps them through, often without both of them understanding what is going on
That shit only happens in a Hollywood screenplay.  In real life?  It gets a bit messy.

Some of you are nodding your head, and saying damned right it gets messy.  And some of you are saying "I wouldn't know...I've never been there."

Some of you might even get your chones all up in a bunch at the thought that a man or a woman might violate their conjugal promises of purity, fidelity...honesty.  

We are not honest or feal creatures.  We are humans.  And sometimes we make the wrong choice.  

But....we are mostly inclined to live with the choices we make.  Things have to get sort of bad before we are willing to say..."I made a bad decision."  Anyone who is attracted to a good looking woman, or a handsome man, who seems to be stuck in the amber of a toxic marriage, needs to ask themselves..."How did they get there?  And why do they stay?"

As for me...like I said, I was raised on Hollywood cotton candy.  I met this woman and
started wooing her immediately, knowing that she was married...but also knowing that she was unhappy.  I gave myself one year.  I knew that married people were inclined to cling to the security of what they knew and had.  Even as they fucked someone else.

I wasn't going to be her fuck.  (Although I was).  I gave it 365 days.  At the end of that year...none of you should be surprised that she was no closer to leaving than she was when I met her.  I was, I hate to admit it, rather chastened.  I called her husband up, who had, over the past 18 months sort of figured out that someone was screwing his wife, cause he wasn't...I invited him to meet me, actually.

I was so angry I just wanted to rub it in his face...come what may.  I wanted to meet him and say to him....well, I won't repeat here what I wanted to say to him.

The point is...you cant forget this shit like it was a puppet show on some Sunday afternoon in the park.  It follows you, and shapes you.

Don't go down that road.  It's a rocky road, and it's a dead end.  It's a dark street.

Originally posted to Keith930 on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 04:40 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  To answer your question: (7+ / 0-)

    Yes.

    In general, it's probably not a productive practice to generalize about sexual experiences or even relationship ones; the broad expanse of human experiences is so great that there may, in fact, not be a "general" experience.  And there are so many different variables...

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 04:57:04 PM PDT

    •  this (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BvueDem, MHB, Kevskos, Cali Scribe

      some people have "affairs" that are shorter and less involved than the one described in this diary, and as the decades pass it is easier and easier to forget names and faces and times and places

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 05:13:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And some people have very involved (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kevskos, TrueBlueMajority

        affairs and still manage to forget them.

        Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

        by a gilas girl on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 01:03:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How do you do that? (5+ / 0-)

          I thought men were the ones who compartmentalized.

          I've had trysts with two other married women.  Those weren't affairs.  They were basically one night stands...3 night stands at best.  It was just sex.

          An affair, at least in my book, is defined as involving some pretty strong emotional connection.  The sex, by and of itself, isn't the real infidelity.  It's the emotional connection that can accompany it.  That is the true "straying" from the marriage.

          Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

          by Keith930 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 01:13:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  yes (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lgmcp, milton333, TrueBlueMajority

            It's the emotional connection, not the physical.  Everyone focuses on the sex, but I think when your primary attachment changes from your spouse to another person, it doesn't matter whether you've had sex with them, or even if you've met them IRL.  

            There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.

            by puzzled on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 06:49:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think that assumes (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TrueBlueMajority, puzzled

              that love is a limited resource -- in the new era, can a human being have that deep emotional connection to more than one person? Infidelity was a big deal in the old days because of inheritance rights and all that, but now with modern contraception that's no longer an issue.

              Even with folks like Ensign, Sanford, Gingrich and such, my issue is less the infidelity than the hypocrisy.

              There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

              by Cali Scribe on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 12:40:19 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  if that's the criterion i've had emotional affairs (0+ / 0-)

              but i remember every detail

              Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
              Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

              by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 03:56:23 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  my marriage was a huge affair - I thought (5+ / 0-)

    I would never forget - but then it's already disappearing in the evening fog over the meadows there at the end of the road.

  •  You did what! (20+ / 0-)
    I called her husband up, who had, over the past 18 months sort of figured out that someone was screwing his wife, cause he wasn't...I invited him to meet me, actually.
    What movie did you see that inspired you to do that?  I have heard of the other woman calling up the man’s wife, but this is the first time I have ever heard of the other man calling up the husband.  I have been the other man more than once, and the idea of doing that never crossed my mind, no matter how much I was in love with her.

    I will skip over the obvious fact that you might have gotten your teeth knocked out by getting in his face like that.  Instead, I have to wonder what your motive was. Did you think he would divorce her, and then she would be yours?  Did you think you were doing him a favor by telling him his wife had been unfaithful?  Was it an act of righteous vengeance?

    I have never felt guilty about being a paramour, and I have no bad memories of those affairs.  But then, I never betrayed any of the women I slept with either.

  •  I cannot express the degree (30+ / 0-)

    to which I understand what you are saying. Mine was with someone who helped me understand that I was worth loving, something that my first husband was very interested in me never learning. As much as it hurt, the positive thing about the end was that it led me straight to the person who loves me as much as I love him. Seven years now.

    Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

    by postmodernista on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 05:37:16 PM PDT

    •  congrats... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      postmodernista, tardis10, jessical, JBL55

      not everyone gets there.

      Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

      by Keith930 on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 05:46:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  thank you (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ivorybill, SoCalSal, Audri, jessical, lgmcp

        I almost didn't- I might have stayed forever in the relationship with the 'gentleman friend', but he had career aspirations that involved higher security clearances that were more important. A mutual friend tells me he's about to be promoted to general.

        I'm so glad I did get there, because this lovely husband is the very best guy ever.

        Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

        by postmodernista on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 08:07:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  my story (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      milton333, postmodernista

      is not unlike yours.  One of my fears when I knew I was going to leave my husband was that I'd be alone forever.  I knew I was damaged, unloveable, totally screwed up.

      Before the ink was dry on my divorce decree I was lucky enough to find someone who patiently taught me that I was worthy of being loved, and who put my needs before his--something I'd never experienced.  

      We've only been together a little more than a year, but I'm optimistic.  :-)

      There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.

      by puzzled on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 06:56:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the day after the end of the end (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        puzzled

        with the gentleman friend, I ran into an old friend from waaay back when. We stayed up all night talking, and by morning we both knew that this was it. We were married 4 months later.

        The 7 years since have had more downs than ups, but it has always been external causes. He and I are solid, and I'm finally learning that it's ok to be optimistic. I hope that you have similar happiness with your partner.

        Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

        by postmodernista on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 05:55:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is very interesting timing because (36+ / 0-)

    tomorrow is my 35th wedding anniversary.  Have I ever been tempted to cheat?  Absolutely.  I've had a few infatuations with men other than my husband, but they were just that--infatuations that dissipated and left me thankful I never did anything about them.  We're human and we get attracted to other people, particularly at times when the marriage might seem mundane or there is tension about something or other.  I don't know if my husband has cheated--I don't think so, but you never know for sure.  He's pretty transparent though and we know each other very well.  In the end he's my dearest friend and he makes me laugh and is a good hearted person and a wonderful father.  Still has most of his hair.  It's been quite a ride.

    This is the working hour. We are paid by those who learn by our mistakes

    by chicago minx on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 06:02:23 PM PDT

    •  I hope you have a great day tomorrow (11+ / 0-)

      and whether you celebrate it on the town, or quietly at home, I trust you will look each other in the eye and know that you've done the best that you can.

      Thanks for commenting, minx.

      Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

      by Keith930 on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 06:07:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks! We can't celebrate tomorrow (8+ / 0-)

        Our daughter has a basketball game.  My husband is a sports writer and is covering the White Sox Tues. and Wed., but we have carved out Thursday as the dinner date night.

        This is the working hour. We are paid by those who learn by our mistakes

        by chicago minx on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 06:15:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You see, now? Hell no. Something is wrong here! (5+ / 0-)
          My husband is a sports writer and is covering the White Sox Tues. and Wed.
          The White Sox???  Really???  The Fucking White Sox are in the cellar.  10 and a half games in the cellar.  And they will end up the season in the cellar.

          Tomorrow is your anniversary, Baby.  To hell with the White Sox.  I could write that article for your husband all the way from Portland, Oregon:  "Sox Lose Again....Another Season Slipping Away"

          If your husband is a real sports writer (or worse yet, a Sox fan), he must have at least 10 versions of this story already saved and in the bag.  He only needs to change the dates and the scores.

          Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

          by Keith930 on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 06:26:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nah, can't. He's a freelance sports writer (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wishingwell, badscience, chantedor, JBL55

            who covers the Cubs (I know, I know) when they're home and fills in for the White Sox guy when he's busy, which he is this week because of the Blackhawks.  For freelancers reliability is the big thing--he rarely says no so he gets a lot of work thrown his way.  And anyway it's our daughter's summer basketball league that is tomorrow.  Kids, right?

              Anyway, interesting diary.

            This is the working hour. We are paid by those who learn by our mistakes

            by chicago minx on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 06:33:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Now that the Blackhawks clinched (0+ / 0-)

              the Cup, maybe your husband can get a day off for a belated celebration...heck, I still owe my husband a birthday card because his birthday was last Friday when I was busy with NN13. When you're together long enough, you learn to schedule things when you can. :-)

              There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

              by Cali Scribe on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 12:43:34 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I keep writing comments and deleting them. (19+ / 0-)

    I've made mistakes of the heart, forgotten some, wished I could forget others, but learned from them all.  I'm a better person since than I was before, even if sometimes those lessons came at the cost of hurting others more than myself.  There are those I owe apologies, but could not find even if I tried at this late date.  I like to think that I've comported myself since in a way that works as karmic 'penance', even if it does nothing to help the specific individuals I harmed in the past.

  •  I guess I was fortunate, I was single, the guy (7+ / 0-)

    was older, married and a coach and teacher at a high school where I was a substitute teacher. I turned down all of his advances until one week before I was moving and unfortunately, it was a one night stand thing. It was 30 yrs ago and it was very brief, probably a few hours, but I felt badly because he had kids in high school and college.  I figured I would never see him, his wife , his kids ever again and I was right but it was still wrong.

    I had resisted his advances and I did flirt with him but I refused to even see him outside of work until the end of the year and a week before I moved.  But I still wished I had not done it. To my knowledge, because it really was an affair that last one night, no one knows but he was a drinker so I have always thought that somewhere all his drinking buddies who are all retired teachers now....may have talked about it among guys. But to my knowledge he and his wife are together and were together at that time well over 25 yrs

    But this was so different from what this diary is about...but the closest I got to being with someone who was married and since married, I was tempted once but did not follow through but got too close.

    Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

    by wishingwell on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 06:32:23 PM PDT

  •  Too Much Information (7+ / 0-)

    I'm not going to share my similar tales.

    But I'm unhappy to be reminded of them.

    The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.-Bertrand Russell

    by Timaeus on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 06:35:09 PM PDT

  •   My problem was not married guys or me being (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55

    married, the guys I fell for were all single. But I sure had some dysfunctional, unhealthy relationships that went on far too long.  And it was not like these guys were abusive to me as I would not stand for that, but these guys sure were substance abusers..that is for sure.
    Or the ones who were not addicted to a substance, cheated on me, or they were shallow, and had not much substance to speak of.

    As my best friend said,  I sure dated some doozies, some real idiots.

    Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

    by wishingwell on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 06:36:41 PM PDT

  •  Being the other man (11+ / 0-)

    I was in that position once. I wouldn't have been if my lover had been honest and told me that her gay roommate was actually her straight, kept-in-the-dark husband. I broke it off soon after I found out. Hitting "send" on that "have a good life" email sucked, but what else could I do? Any other course of action would have been completely unacceptable.

    I never met the husband, who I surmised would very likely have killed me had we met.

    ‎"Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor." - Norman Mailer
    My Blog
    My wife's woodblock prints

    by maxomai on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 06:38:18 PM PDT

    •  I was lied to once and I am glad it had not (5+ / 0-)

      yet gone beyond the second date as it might have progressed further as we seemed to get along great. Then a mutual friend called me and told me the guy was married. I said..

      You could have told me before introducing him to me at a party and watching as we talked for hours.  
      Here mutual friend was hoping guy would say he was married.  He told me later he had too much trust in the dude. Hell we were all early 20s ..did he really think that considering everyone else at the college party was single..how was I to know this guy at a college party was married...that is not real common for a 20 yr old college athlete to be married..or so I thought...but full scholarship enables some to be able to afford to marry back 3o plus yrs ago I found out.

      Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

      by wishingwell on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 06:47:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I doubt that (0+ / 0-)

      but I could be wrong.

      Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

      by Keith930 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 02:02:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Keith what happened when you met with the husband? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueyedace2, JBL55, rubyclaire

    and how did the affair eventually end> ? Did you end it or did she or did meeting with the husband make the decision ?  

    Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

    by wishingwell on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 06:40:30 PM PDT

  •  Didn't take me a year... (8+ / 0-)

    to figure out she wasn't leaving him for me. Maybe a month. I still wonder about her though. Tried looking her up, can't find out anything about where she might be at these days.

    No one knows what it's like, To be the bad man, To be the sad man, behind blue eyes....

    by blueyedace2 on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 07:00:01 PM PDT

    •  I remember watching The English Patient (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBL55, lgmcp, milton333

      about 8 months after the affair ended.  I had never seen it when it was in the theaters, and rented it on the way home from work one night.  I was alone that evening, like most, and still quite emotionally raw from the whole experience.

      Popped the movie into the DVD and about half way through it I just started sobbing.  I mean I totally lost it and cried like a baby.  I've never seen the movie since.

      Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

      by Keith930 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 09:25:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The best thing about TEP ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CorinaR

        ... is the substory about the nurse played by Juliette Binoche.

        It is worth seeing for that alone, and her performance was rewarded by the supporting actress Oscar.

        By the time the movie came out, I had worked through my adultery issues and found nothing romantic in the adultery aspect.

        In fact, I wish they would come out with a director's cut version that ignores the adulterous couple completely ... which, I do realize, was the actual story.  It's just that Juliette's character was on an amazing journey.

  •  Interesting (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chantedor, rubyclaire, peglyn

    I have been wrestling with this question for a while.

    I have never had an affair since I am one of those boring people who try to keep commitments and think that how you behave is a choice.  I don't believe in falling so madly in love that you are not responsible for your actions. I have always figured that I don't like it when my partner is not honest with me so why should I encourage/enable another person to be dishonest with their partner. (My ex cheated on me many times ... and I always forgave him until I just got tired of the relationship.)

    But lately I have wondered if I missed out on love by being so prissy ... if I might have been less inhibited if I had had a fling ... or if something else is wrong with me.

    No easy answers to most things ... guess we just have understand how our lives have shaped us and how our issues have shaped us.  

    Peace

    "Life without liberty is like a body without spirit. Liberty without thought is like a disturbed spirit." Kahlil Gibran, 'The Vision'

    by CorinaR on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 08:14:34 PM PDT

    •  Perhaps you have missed out on having a "grand" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp, CorinaR

      romance.  But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

      I had one of those.  Didn't involve adultery as neither of us were married.  Just two people who were incredibly poor communicators and who probably wouldn't have worked out in the best of situations.  It was intense and unbelievably wonderful and unbelievably painful.  It took me years to get over it and now, decades later, there are still times when the memories hit me hard and I fantasize seeing him again.  I wouldn't have had it not happen, if I had a choice, but neither would I chose to have it ever happen again.  The emotional aspect of it doesn't really add anything great to life, even though at the time it seems like it's all that matters.  The ups and downs just end up controlling your life.  Personally, I'd say you're better off having been the steady, reliable person you've been.  Just ask yourself - is your ex happier and better off for having those flings than he'd have been had he been honest, steady, and reliable?  I doubt it.

      I've been married for years to someone that didn't have that kind of emotional impact on me, who is without question the right partner for me.  Love him tremendously and wouldn't give him up for anything.  Might not have those incredible highs, but fortunately don't have those incredible lows, either.  I'll take what I have with him over what I had years ago any day.  It's added to my life, while the other simply drained it.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 08:06:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  at my age I can't remember (6+ / 0-)

    but I'm sure I've had a few over the last 70+ years

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 09:16:52 PM PDT

  •  If They Cheat With You, They'll Cheat On You.... (14+ / 0-)

    One of the things me dear old mother told me.  I won't pretend I listened to everything she said, but I heard her that time.  And....never forgot it.  

    It's a good rule of thumb.  Integrity & character are kinda important when you're young & foolish or old & should know better.  

    And....Do you really deserve to be with a cheater or settle for leftovers?  

    •  Not always, true, but often true (6+ / 0-)

      I do know one couple who have been married for ten years now with two beautiful kids who are mad for each other. Their life together started when she was still married to the guy she dated in high school.  

      She got married too early to someone who wasn't her intellectual equal and when she met the guy who was, it was obvious. I would never expect either of them to cheat now.

      "Don't be defeatist, dear. It's very middle class." - Violet Crawley

      by nightsweat on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 06:12:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hmmm.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp

        Do you know me?
        ;-)

        When lots of people show up to vote, Democrats tend to win.

        by Audri on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 07:59:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  My parents were both engaged (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        madhaus, Vetwife

        to other people when they met -- it was WWII, my dad was waiting for the Navy to find his paperwork so he could get out and go home to marry his sweetheart when a buddy of his suggested they go out on the town with a couple of local girls in SF that he knew. (I tell people I owe my existence to military red tape.)

        Many years later, after my mother's death (my father had died 35 years previous), we were going through her things and found a bracelet with my father's name on it...and the name "Ethel" on the back. We assume that was the name of his girl back in Missouri, the one he ditched in favor of my mother. (We gave the bracelet to my brother's son, who's named after the grandfather he never knew -- he can explain to his girlfriends who "Ethel" was if the situation arises.)

        There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

        by Cali Scribe on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 12:54:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Way more complicated than that (13+ / 0-)

      There's no one reason that people cheat, and no one-size-fits-all adulterer.  Some people are narcisissts.  Some people are depressed or bipolar, and the excitement of the affair is almost like medication.  Some people really are unhappily married, and different people when their needs are being met.  Etc.

      Thought is only a flash in the middle of a long night, but the flash that means everything - Henri Poincaré

      by milton333 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 08:29:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That's Why My Wife and I Are Poly (5+ / 0-)

    Or at the very least have an open marriage. It's so much better not to have to lie.

    •  I hope it works out long term (6+ / 0-)

      I've got a poly friend and her heart has been broken so many more times than any of my other friends.  She has so much love to give that she believes one person can't hold it all, but when she does find someone who she believes thinks the same way she does... and finds out that they aren't comfortable with her after all, she goes through another cycle of heartbreak and depression all over again.

      I know of dozens of marriages and monogamous partnerships that have lasted decades.  I have never met anyone in a poly relationship / open marriage that's gone more than a few years.

      I sincerely wish you and your wife the best.

      The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

      by catwho on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 08:50:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Think It Depends On Maturity (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        catwho, Alexandra Lynch

        And being aware of the reality of what you're looking for and the truth that nothing lasts forever. My wife and I are also quite communicative about all of it. If there comes a time when we would need to stop doing this then we'd stop because our commitment to each other is the primary thing.

        I'm not in this to hurt anyone especially someone who is added to my wife and my relationships. I can do my best to be honest and open with everyone but I can't stop every hurt from happening.

      •  I wish your friend well (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Lone Apple, catwho, lgmcp, milton333

        I know several poly couples who have made it (and are making it) long-term.  They would be the first to tell you it is not easy.  It’s not for everyone.  But the opportunity to be your genuine and complete self with more than one person is worth the effort for them.  Communication and honest self-examination are critical.

        It’s an extra challenge to be in poly without a primary which sounds like might be the case for your friend.  I wish her well.

      •  Ours has lasted 23 years. (6+ / 0-)

        So it can work out.

        But he and I are not at all wired monogamously. So it's a good thing we're married to each other and not to monogamous people who we would make miserable.

        When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

        by Alexandra Lynch on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 11:05:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I do (4+ / 0-)

        I personally know of a few poly relationships that are completely happy and have lasted. I think it depends on the people in the relationship, and the level of honesty and communication present. It's not for everybody, that's for sure. But then, neither is monogamy.

        I'm not poly, but the relationship I'm in is sexually open to an extent (but not wide open). It works for us. It wouldn't for everybody. And an actual poly relationship would never work for us. Again, depends on the person.

        I hope your friend finds happiness, whatever form that may take.

        I don't mind if you're straight. Just don't flaunt it in public.

        by Chrislove on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 11:15:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Affair is a complicated issue (14+ / 0-)

    Some people just like the thrill of the moment and are cheaters but others ( sounds like you) have an emotional attachment to a desire that is unreachable.   I had a  situation in my youth while married to my first husband who was abusive, mentally, physically and emotionally and I was young.   I fell into the trap of an old flame, a first love who gave me ( an illusion) the life I felt I had lost by marrying the wrong guy.  Unfortunately he did marry my best friend.   I felt he was the one that got away but that too was just a feeling.. I know now he was not a great catch as the years rolled on.  No you never forget.
    I was seeing this long ago love and was married but did not feel anything but resentment in the marriage.  i felt shame for deceiving my best friend.  It was the early 70's late sixties where everything was confusing.    The affair was short lived but we were found out quite by accident over a supper table when he kept telling his wife his mother's number was a number he knew THEY had had once.  He even said , "If I have called that number once, I called it a thousand times"...as I was about to choke on water.   She kept saying..No we never had that number.
    She was wanting to change the subject and he kept arguing as shefinally spoke up and said , It was my number.   I dropped my head in disgust and shame.   The affair had been long over and we were friends and I was divorced at this point and he had become a minister.  He got up from the table to avoid any confrontation and left she and I sitting over beans and cornbread.  

    It is hard to believe  at such a young age of 26, we were so mature..she and I.  She said calmly, " Did you think I really didn't know".   I asked where do we go from here and she hugged me and said, " Shopping".   I was no saint she responded during that time and I know how abused you were. I was crying.  and full of remorse and to dishonor this friend which by the way has made me extremely loyal today.  I would never ever suffer a friendship or lose honor with such an ordeal.   not in my right mind anyway.   She and I promised each other we would never speak of this again and never to him.   I had set them up while I was just a babe teen in high school and I was with my future husband and he had only been involved with two girls before he shipped off to Nam and that was me and her.  We were best friends even then.

    We are still good friends but the shame was and still is pretty bad.   I still hold a special place for him as a first love in my heart but the affair should never gave happened.
    How do I know no one forgets?   Thirty years down the road as we were visiting one another.......she and I did speak of it and she finally told me what she was doing during that time and it was basically a bad cheating situation on her part.   I still recall some of those times and know that affair got me out of my marriage but that wa the only good thing that happened from it all.  We were lucky to have been good enough friends ..golden childhood friends to withstand such a horrendous rendeaveous of infidelity.  My vet husband and we all are still friends and what is ironic, an affair had no effect on our friendship but George W Bush and their politics did.   Life is strange.  We are not very close anymore over idealogy.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 04:19:38 AM PDT

    •  Nothing is ever forgotten (12+ / 0-)

      and nothing is ever the same.  I was a prosecutor in a small town and one of the things I saw over and over again was the sheer and complete hell affairs unleashed.

      I saw people that were essentially completely broken, half shells from affairs that happened 20 years earlier.  

      I think the human brain has mechanisms that prevent us from realizing the full dimension of the pain we inflict.  So the brain rationalizes, it distracts - because if we really came to grips with what we had done life would become unbearable.

      Life is messy and complicated.  But the idea that people ever really recover from an affair is not one I have seen in my experience.

      We are all far more vulnerable than any of us lets on.

      •  I can't even imagine what being a divorce (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JBL55, Vetwife

        lawyer back before no fault became common would have been like.  The stories and experiences one would have had to listen to week in and week out would have to make you a bit cynical and jaded about the prospects of holding a marriage together over the long run.

        Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

        by Keith930 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 09:29:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The only thing I will add....after all of these (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55

    years...is he dedicated a song to me in the 90's.....
    and said it right in front of my husband and his wife and everyone kind of laughed except me......We were playing Canasta...I knew he meant it and I started seeing them less and less....Maybe old flames can still reignite I thought and I have a damn good husband now and she was still my best friend next to my husband.  I think he still had some resentment over the fact I ended that deal so many years ago and he and my husband had become close while I was helping her get him a disability in Atlanta.
    I think there was some mispplaced emotion but I felt the song was uncalled for at anytime and I just left the table of canasta and no one knew why I got miffed.  it was a youthful indescretion as Bush said,,,and should never have been mentioned.

    but here is the song.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 04:42:48 AM PDT

  •  You know why her husband was negligent? (8+ / 0-)

    Because she was the one telling the story.  Something tells me if her husband had been a buddy of yours, the story would have been more complicated.

    I have never had an extra-marital affair (either as a spouse or with someone else's), nor do I intend to.  But I have a word of advice for anyone dating a divorcée.  Any time you find someone in full victim mode.... run. Run away as fast as you can.

    Yes, there are examples of one-sided abuse and negligence. But my experience tells me these constitute a small minority of divorces and affairs.  The overwhelming majority of failed marriages collapse because of failures of both parties.  And yet, mysteriously, you will rarely meet someone who says "We both contributed to the demise of our marriage. Not equally, but we both contributed to a certain degree."

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 05:59:43 AM PDT

    •  How I quit mistreating women and became a nice guy (12+ / 0-)

      When I was young, if I knew a girl whose boyfriend mistreated her, I thought, “If she gives me a chance, she will really appreciate how nice I am to her.”  But when I got my chance, it turned out that I mistreated her too.

      Then I met a woman who had nothing but nice things to say about her ex-husband (who had cheated on her and abandoned her), and had pleasant memories about every guy she had ever dated.  I started dating her, and it turned out that I was a pretty nice guy as well.

    •  I will. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBL55

      I will say that out loud to anyone, including my ex.

      When lots of people show up to vote, Democrats tend to win.

      by Audri on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 08:27:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I was the one who was abused (0+ / 0-)

      physicallyby my ex husband but you are right...We both contributed to the demise of the marriage.  18 year olds should NOT get married and we were sooooooooo young.
      My ex husband died last year alone after 4 marriages and an alcholic but they did see me mistreated..Hell the whole town did.  Things were different back then and people did not think anything of a woman getting slapped in public places especially in the south.  

      She I thought was a very good wife but, I found out later that they both had problems in their young marriage as well but a person will tend to respond to almost anyone when treated kindly and that was the cause of the affair ...or maybe I went to familar territory with an old flame but regardless....the affair should not have happened.

      We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

      by Vetwife on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 06:39:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Let's Just Say I Have No Regrets (8+ / 0-)

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 06:26:48 AM PDT

  •  I've committed adultery in my heart many times (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55, Zack from the SFV

    I've looked on a lot of women with lust.

  •  I guess I (we: Mr. A and I) are the exception (10+ / 0-)

    to the rule. I was married 13 years when I met Mr. A. We were both doing some volunteer work and spent time getting to know each other in that setting. Meanwhile, I'm looking at my marriage to a not-bad guy who seemed to not be the person I thought he was (of course). By the end of a year, Mr. A is making Very Gentle advances, letting me know that he is interested in me as more than a friend and I am getting very serious about leaving my first husband.
    Well, I do leave him and I do go live with Mr. A and I am still in love with him and we are still great friends, 23 years later.
    So, no, it doesn't work out. Except when it does. We consider ourselves incredibly lucky.

    When lots of people show up to vote, Democrats tend to win.

    by Audri on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 07:51:18 AM PDT

  •  Anne (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, JBL55, raines, peglyn

    I went to visit my sister who coincidently was holding her weekly "hen party" at her house.
    The next day she told me one of the "girls" really really liked me.
    I asked, "Which one was she?"
    She told me, "Anne"
    I replied I didn`t know one of her friends from another, but I told her I`d come back in a few weeks to meet her.
    A few weeks later I travelled back to Niagara Falls to my sister`s place. At bedtime she told me just go to sleep in my room, Anne would be along shortly.
    I was fast asleep in no time but soon awoke to Anne`s warm body.
    We had a great time all night & hours later fell asleep. When I awoke, Anne was gone.
    I never got to see Anne, so if you`re out there, call me.

    My sister said good things about her & that Anne had some choice compliments for me, but I had had a short affair with someone I never met.

    I`m already against the next war.

    by Knucklehead on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 07:54:29 AM PDT

  •  I married young (8+ / 0-)

    and found myself married to an alcoholic with a lot of family problems.  His mother had committed suicide (his brother found her hanging in the basement) and the father died an early death as well.

    Sex?  What sex?  He couldn't even get it working - alcohol was way too powerful.

    And then a man I worked with, we were working late one night and he just kissed me.  I pushed him away and said, "WTF was that?" and he said, "I've just always wanted to kiss you."

    And so it began.  But, I went home before I ever did anything more than a kiss and tried to work it out.  Nothing but, "You knew who I was when you married me, now deal with it."  But I didn't know how bad it was, the alcoholism that is.

    Oh, I dealt with it alright.  The night I finally fooled around I also had told myself that if I go through with it, I had to also leave my marriage.

    And so I did.

    He passed away back in 2003 and his new wife committed suicide the very next year.  Sad story.

    Alcohol - I did not grow up with the stuff in our house but it destroyed so much of my early to mid 20's.

    -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

    by MarciaJ720 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 08:10:05 AM PDT

  •  Infidelity Affects Everyone (10+ / 0-)

    Recently a group of my best girl friends in high school went for a weekend retreat at the beach to celebrate one of us turning 50.  We all have known each other for 30+ years and everyone is married.  We all know each others spouses and have forged friendships with them as well.

    When one of our friends announced that she had invited some guy (no one had ever met him) to come out to the beach and she intended to "get laid" because her husband was lacking on the romantic front, I was absolutely floored.  I begged her not to do it and told her she is putting her friends in the middle.  I tried to make her understand that I cannot and would never lie for her.  I know her husband and he is a great guy! He is honest, works hard, provides well and is totally dedicated to her and HER son from a previous marriage!  He pays all the bills including college tuition for her son to attend the Citadel.  She happily accepts the financial support and feels no responsibility for her actions in any regard.

    Long story short, she ignored me and had her fling anyway.  I do not judge nor do I even care if she has an affair but because I will not lie for her (or anyone else for that matter)  I had to end our friendship because if I am ever confronted by her husband I would tell him the truth. He is a very proud man and likely would leave her in an instant.  

    If he leaves her, she is destitute, her kid loses his college degree and no one is better off.  I wish them all well.

    "Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself" -George Carlin

    by Easternshore Lib on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 08:37:43 AM PDT

    •  On the romantic front? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBL55, milton333

      Is it possible she was just being euphemistic and her husband has become unable to have sex?

      •  Whatever the case (7+ / 0-)

        Her words mean nothing, it is her actions that have consequences for everyone.  She doesn't get a pass because he may or may not have a medical problem.

        If her husband has a medical problem she should be supportive and be willing to look for solutions as a couple or end it.  Don't take his charity while cheating on him.

        And when you plan a weekend out of town with the girls (or guys), try to remember why you enjoy spending time with these people and let them know it.  Being opportunistic at the expense of friendship is very selfish.  In my case it ended the longest friendship that I have ever had.

        "Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself" -George Carlin

        by Easternshore Lib on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 10:00:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A friendship of mine ended not dissimilarly. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peglyn

          We were both married.  She and I were going someplace together and she told me she hoped I wouldn't mind but she was having an affair and she had invited her paramour to meet us there.

          This was in the days before cell phones so even if I had objected there was no way to un-arrange what she had arranged.  But yes, I did have an objection.

          I had been friends with her because I was already friends with her husband, so I felt no small degree of anguish.  Do I tell him?  Does he already know?  If not, will he be able to hear it from me or will it end our friendship?  And how do I remain friends with him while not wanting to remain friends with her any longer?

          I decided to remain silent.  She told me she was planning to leave him once she had made the arrangements, so I figured my saying something would only embarrass him.

          They did divorce, although interestingly enough he initiated it, not her.  He and I are still friends, and twenty-six years later I've still never mentioned it.

  •  I have a few friends who have had affairs (7+ / 0-)

    Two immediately come to mind.  Both were in unhappy marriages, for different reasons.  One was simply passionless.  She was pushed into marriage to a man she didn't love by her parents, and was miserable and depressed... and then fell in love with someone else entirely.  She got her divorce once she worked up the courage, but refuses to get married again.  So she and her boyfriend (such a shallow word in this context) are simply together.  And she is now happy.

    The other one was in a much more dangerous situation.  Her husband was an alcoholic.  Abusive, controlling.  She fell in love with a Marine via a video game (her one outlet was MMOs - her husband didn't mind her playing computer games for some reason) and he constructed a more or less rescue plan to get her out.  It was complicated, since she was Canadian, but it's been two years and now they're happily married with a cute little girl.

    I'm less judgmental about affairs when the marriage is not healthy or there is a clear pattern of misery or abuse.  I'm a bit more prudish if someone is in an otherwise happy relationship and gets "caught up in the moment" or somesuch, but I'm learning not to judge so harshly.  Hearts and minds are such fickle things.

    All and all, I'm grateful that I'm in a healthy and functional marriage.

    The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

    by catwho on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 08:42:19 AM PDT

  •  T&R (6+ / 0-)

    for the brave writing.

    I do have to say -- as a reader -- I think calling her husband was worse than the affair by a long, long mile.  But people do stuff like this, all around.    

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 08:46:49 AM PDT

    •  I was distraught, and knew almost as soon as I (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jessical, JBL55, rubyclaire, badscience, lgmcp

      hung up the phone that I had made a big mistake.  It has given me many moments over the years of regret and not a little bit of shame.

      Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

      by Keith930 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 09:33:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I gots me (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JBL55, milton333

        ...a very long list like that.  It just jumped out, like, what about her safety?  I mean, hell, everything comes out in the wash, usually.  At the life level, my response is a sad and all too aware smile.  

        We all have moments like that, we are most of us darn lucky nothing worse went down.  I don't think shame ever did anyone a moment of good, ever.  But remembering that even after 10 bad choices, the 11th choice still counts -- that is something I will be cultivating until I die :}

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 09:38:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I try and you might (8+ / 0-)

    ... to remind yourself that you are not now who you were then - and the person you are now would not do the same things that the person you were then did. Yes, we have to take responsibility but at some point, we have to let go of the guilt and shame.

    Thank you for writing this very human diary.

    "All politics is personal"

    by laurustina on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 08:55:11 AM PDT

  •  My story (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, JBL55, rubyclaire, thomask

    My ex cheated on me. When we got married, the deal was I would work & she would stay home & take care of the kids until they were in school (at which point, she would go back to work, at least part time).

    I lived up to my end. I worked three or four jobs at a time while she stayed home & took care of the kids. Just as my youngest was about to start school & my ex would have to go back to work, she told me she was seeing somebody else, was going to move in with him (with our children), and wanted a divorce. She then emptied my savings & maxed out my credit card.

    She's now pregnant with her boyfriend's child (the baby is due in a couple of weeks). I found out from other sources  that the pregnancy happened CONVENIENTLY after he talked to her about getting a job.  

    I pay more in child support than is required by law. She responded by hitting me up for more. One of the only silver linings is that I finally talked to a lawyer who looked at our agreement (we more or less drew up the original agreement ourselves & took it to a judge since neither of us could afford a lawyer at the time). The lawyer found a clause WRITTEN BY MY EX that actually says I should pay less (but which would STILL be more than required by law). Again, I'm not trying to deprive my children since I willingly agreed to more. But what I pay is for CHILD SUPPORT. Not for her to do a Peggy Bundy impersonation.

    The other silver lining is my girlfriend. We've been dating since October. Like me, she was an English major and is working on her MA in special education (my MA is in English Lit). She also likes the same music and sci-fi/fantasy, like I do (even if she prefers Star Wars over my beloved Star Trek; nobody is perfect). She also gets along spectacularly with my girls.

    So I was the cheatee, as opposed to the cheater. It hurt, but things are slowly working themselves out.  

    A village can not reorganize village life to suit the village idiot.

    by METAL TREK on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 09:12:58 AM PDT

  •  For those interested in support (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55, poliwrangler, peglyn, lgmcp

    both sides of the situation either betrayed or wandering, current or formerly, there is SurvivingInfidelity.com.  It would be a good place to point a friend who may be considering an affair especially if they read the "Just found Out" section.

    •  there's also (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peglyn, lgmcp

      marriagebuilders.com and you can take or leave any of the religious tones.  It helped my marriage rebuild, found out that marriage isn't automatically like the fairytales, you have to actively work at it now and then.

      Nuance is lost upon those who choose not to look.

      by poliwrangler on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 10:42:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think this is more about unfinished business (4+ / 0-)

    ... than an affair.

    You had an affair and even tried to confront the husband with the information when your paramour refused to leave him within a time-table that suited you.

    You didn't get what you wanted out of this. You never had the talk-out with the husband, she never left him, you aren't still having the affair or even a friendship with the wife.

    So your brain can't put a period on it and move on.

    That's totally normal.

    If things had played out differently you might be able to stop thinking about it now. If you were 'found out' you'd have had to have dealt with the ramification of that. Guilt, anger, emotion, entitlement, regret, shame and eventually acceptance and forgiveness may have been explored, by you and by the other parties involved.

    But it seems it was just swept under the rug, where unfinished business festers.

    Unfortunately for you, your time to be open about this is long gone. Hopefully writing about it here will help you find the closure you need.

    But, why would you want to forget the affair? It was real. She was real. It is part of your life story.

    who doesn't want to wear the ribbon?!?

    by redacted stew on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 10:42:12 AM PDT

  •  No, I'll never forget it. (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, fladem, thomask, peglyn, lgmcp, milton333

    I'm glad to say that I learned a tremendous amount from the experience.  Boy howdy, did I ever.

    I was 24 years old, terribly stressed out by my husband's illness, and this man knew of my situation and actively pursued me anyway.  Of course none of this excuses my succumbing but merely places it in context.

    My husband died while it was still going on, and the guilt-infused grief was overwhelming.  In an insane attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, I married the philanderer and was plunged into a horrible mess which doesn't bear thinking about except to say he was as faithful to me as you might imagine, which felt like only what I deserved.  After five years of waiting to die, I woke up, kicked him out, and set about living a life of integrity.

    Whenever I am in a situation where people are talking about the one thing they'd do differently if they had their lives to live over, it is a no-brainer for me.  Then again, it was a major element in the formation of who I am now.

    Fortunately I will never have to make that imaginary choice.  All I need to do is live right here, be who I am, and be thankful for the many many blessings of life.

  •  I know of two. One faded; one spouse left .. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CorinaR, Keith930, milton333

    My observations are certainly limited. I've never actually participated - as I tell my wife, one woman is quite enough, thank you very much.

    But I think, as others have said, you were fortunate and minimal damage was done. The regrets I have over various decisions made while in a relationship could fill a tanker truck. And, yes, some (even relatively trivial ones) bother me to this day. It's hard to forgive ourselves, but if no actual fatalities resulted, it's probably time we do.

    I was reluctant to read this diary, but am glad I did. Thoughtful and well-written. It must feel good to get this particular piece of writing out.

    My brief, 2nd hand, experiences..

    My wife was actually the other woman, when she was single, many years ago. I met the fellow, years later. A nice guy by all accounts. Their attraction propelled the affair for quite some years, until it ran itself out, by mutual, and virtually unspoken, consent. My favorite recollection of hers:

    Him: "You know I can't leave my wife and family."
    Her: "I didn't hear anyone asking."

    The couple remained married until he passed away a few years ago. At the funeral, we both met the widow for the first time. After expressing condolences, my wife mentioned working with the deceased, which was true (and nicely justified her attendance) and that he was a great guy. For some reason (later, my wife said she just couldn't think of anything else to say..), she offered, "He talked about your cooking a lot." The widow looked genuinely puzzled and, with the tone of someone who rarely boiled water, asked, "My cooking?" We beat a hasty retreat, and, I think, managed to escape without further consideration from the grieving widow.

    The other recollection is a bit darker. A close friend's family had an unpleasant surprise one holiday season when their father announced he was leaving their mother. Which he did.

    He had been having an affair with another woman for roughly 10 years. Those long nights at work turned out to be something else entirely.

    My friend's parents were in their 60's, had been married for 40 years, and had three kids. The father was effectively ostracized, and died several years later of a terminal condition. The family assumed that he received the diagnosis and chose to follow his heart for the last portion of his life.

    You really just don't know how these thing will turn out.

    ..now, where did I leave my torches and villagers?

    by FrankSpoke on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 11:04:49 AM PDT

  •  Maybe time makes the memory less intense (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CorinaR, Keith930, fladem, milton333

    and less frequent but from my experience not forgotten.  There are triggers that can reignite the memories.  And not pleasant memories for me since I was the "betrayed".  

    It was frikkin' hell to try to understand how someone you had bared your soul to could turn and hurt you so deeply.  And then not seem to care about even an ounce of the pain.

    Jeez Keith, could write a book on the question you ask.  The irony is the asking of the question answers itself.  (the aforementioned "trigger").

    Upthread bigtimecynic points out reality that fault is most often on both sides.  I had my part.  We've rebuilt our marriage and have moved forward.  I'm happy we did.

    And I wasn't going to do it 'cause I'm not a trekkie but Spock's line always stuck with me: "After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting."

    Seems to apply when it comes to affairs.

    Nuance is lost upon those who choose not to look.

    by poliwrangler on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 11:10:48 AM PDT

    •  I'm not a trekkie either, but Spock was wise (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      milton333, poliwrangler
      After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting.
      There is a fundamentally undeniable truth to that statement.

      On a more personal level, one of the more regrettable things about the aftermath of my own affair is that I have never since allowed myself to fall so deeply for another person, or believe so fervently in the power of love.

      In some fundamental way, the experience cauterized my heart, and hardened my edges.  I've never since felt, or even allowed myself to feel, such passion.  I've never since pursued anyone with such determination.  I lost a bit of confidence, on the one hand, and lost more than a bit of faith in all of the previous notions of Romantic love that I once held.

      I find myself subscribing to that irritating little audio clip at the end of the Ellen Degeneres Show..."anywayyyyy"

      I have often wondered over the years what might happen if Susan and I were to meet by accident again.  I think it would be a moment suffused with as much awkwardness and fumbling for words as our initial meeting was suffused with sparks and barely contained libidos.

      I'm not sure what I would say to her, and I'm not sure she would know what to say to me.

      I find that supremely tragic.

      Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

      by Keith930 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 01:08:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Keith, thank you for this (0+ / 0-)

        Because this compels me to share something that I probably shouldn't.  I have been in love with my best friend and co-worker for going on 7 years now.  We've had this bizarrely co-dependent relationship all that time, with a TON of communication.  We talk for hours every day, on the phone, in person, email, text.  We truly connected.  This man understands me better than anyone.  Has been the only one who has ever even really wanted to understand me.  It's not all goodness and light, we see each other as we really are, warts and all.  

        And, yes, I've long wanted him.  Not lust.  This incredible, primordial wanting.  I'm cynical and jaded, and even as a kid I always kind of made up what I wanted for Christmas, because I honestly so rarely ever actually wanted something.  I have never in my life longed for something like this man.  I have always thought that this is what love is supposed to be, this incredible friendship, this profound conversation.  Add to it sex, and it's the whole ballgame.

        So I was amazed when he wanted me, when he pursued me.  I've never been so high.  And the sex was life-altering, amazing.

        And now he's, what, lost interest?  Decided to stay in the marriage?  He's pulling back from me.  And yet still calling me 4 times a day.  I really think he needs me, I really believe he loves me.

        But it's killing me.  Every time it goes from hot to cold, it's like a part of my soul dies.  Every time I think that we can do this, that, yes, it will cause pain to those we love, but we could be so good together, we'd be good with each others' kids, whatever.  I know those couples who have made it work.  Then he gets moody and withdrawn.

        Why can't it be us?  If ever there were two people meant to be together, why not us?  God damn it, why can't I have anything that I want?  Why do I have to get this taste of it to have it pulled away from me?

        I don't know what the rest of my life looks like from here.  I'd rather never have known what it was like to have this kind of connection, this passion.  I don't think I'll ever find it again.  I don't know why he started something if he didn't have a high level of interest and commitment to following through.  I don't understand why this is happening.  We killed our friendship, and that was THE most important thing in my life.  I don't know how I face every day without him, but I can't have him in my life anymore.

        Thought is only a flash in the middle of a long night, but the flash that means everything - Henri Poincaré

        by milton333 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 09:19:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well, IF I had an affair... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FrankSpoke

    I've forgotten it completely.

  •  Grew up with parents/step-parents who cheated (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, Vetwife

    So it had no appeal to me.  Many in their generation (post WWII & Korean War) married very young, before they had a chance to date and enjoy the young single life.

    Mom was widowed at a young age and quickly married a guy who was a charming, yet psychologically abusive serial philanderer.  She stuck it out for several  years, then began to have an affair as well.  By then I was a teen and figured it all out. She confided in me and told me a lot of important things about how to avoid her mistakes, then she passed away as well at a fairly early age.

    Her advice was good.  Enjoy your single years (I made sure to sow all my wild oats in my 20's) and don't marry a man for financial support, but because you like him.  It worked, married once going on 35 years.  Hubs is my best friend, we've been through a lot together and there's no one I trust more.

    Marriage is hard, you have to work at it every day. Along with your children, it has to be your priority in life.  We've had rough patches and sure, I've had men flirt with me, I've flirted back, but its just not worth the headache to have an affair.

    I do have sympathy, though, for people in situations like my Mom's - marrying too quickly to someone who turns out to be a bully, an addict, a cheater, etc.  Sometimes having an affair is the only way someone realizes that others see them as more valuable than the abusive spouse has taught them to believe.

    "If you can't take their money, eat their food, drink their booze and then vote against them, you have no business being in DC."

    by Betty Pinson on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 11:59:55 AM PDT

  •  You are a bad boy. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, Egg, lgmcp, milton333

    And mama encouraged it.

    Well, you were very wrong to contact her husband but passion does strange things to us sometimes. And all is fair in love and war, and sometimes love seems like war.  And that is when it is the most fun. Most marriages are like Iceland -- peaceable and dull. Affairs are more like fighting fascists in Spain --- bloody, deadly, someone gets hurt but there is book material for Hemingway in it.

    But there is something in these so-called bad marriages that keeps people in them sometimes. There may one thing they can't get in that marriage and so they will get it outside,sometimes with the tacit understanding of the spouse.

    It is the human condition that we are simply never satisfied and always wondering what's beyond the savannah, the ocean, or the marriage.

    And some dare venture beyond that border. You did not commit the immorality by having the affair. She is the one that broke the bond, whatever that may have been. You were immoral incontacting her husband. Please say three Hail Marys and then go sin again immediately. It will help you get over this. She fucked you good. You can never forget her.

    If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

    by Bensdad on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 01:11:13 PM PDT

    •  yes she did, and no I can't (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bensdad, milton333

      but I gave as good as I received.

      That's more than a bit flip.  I can honestly say that I have never been kissed by a woman until I met her, and I was 42 years old at the time, like that first kiss.  It was like being raised, prostate, on a gurney with chain pulleys from the depths of some laboratory...and being struck by lightening.

      And reanimated.  I wanted to skip down the street shouting "I'm alive!  I'm alive, I'm alive!!!!!"

      With all due apologies to Mary Shelley.

      Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

      by Keith930 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 01:21:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  bad marriages are often based upon economics (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      milton333
      But there is something in these so-called bad marriages that keeps people in them sometimes. There may one thing they can't get in that marriage and so they will get it outside,sometimes with the tacit understanding of the spouse.
      Kids.  She had a six year old.

      Other than that, I have no idea what you are talking about.  No kids...no excuses.  Unless it's money.

      Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

      by Keith930 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 03:02:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  People sometimes really like.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        milton333

        ....their spouse, even love them but are not impassioned by them. They want to be around that person because they meet 80% of their needs.  

        100%, 100% of the time is hard. They stay because they LIKE that other person but also like to complain and they like wild, risky, illicit fucking. :)

        If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

        by Bensdad on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 04:18:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  One last song for everyone.... (0+ / 0-)

    Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

    by Keith930 on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 02:13:28 PM PDT

  •  It was the best of times (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    milton333

    It was the other kind too. It was one of the worst decisions I've ever made. And one of the best things that has happened to me. It changed me- not the sex. The dishonesty, the duplicity, the cognitive dissonance. It was a crisis of my own making and an opportunity to define who I wanted to be. Instead of who I was expected to be. Who I found myself becoming.

    I can't speak for how it affected other people. It hurt all three of us, plus some.

    I can't say why I couldn't find myself in college or have a mid-life crisis at 50 like everyone else. I wish I could do a couple of things differently but I wouldn't undo it. I'm grateful to those that loved me through it. And to those that love who I am now.

  •  Hey, I have my fantasies, but I wouldn't go (0+ / 0-)

    through with them. I couldn't face my wife, and I wouldn't do that to her. We're stuck with each other, and we're goin' down that road till the end.

    I admit that in the old days I had some serious flirtations with two women whose homes I worked in. One I spent a lot of time with (I worked in that house about a month, and she was home during the day) and she made a play for me. God, I was sorely tempted: she was pretty, sexy, and willing. My fantasy life ran amuck. It did cause me some pain and confusion till I left and got it behind me.

    But that was fifteen years ago, and much water under the bridge. If you tell me those were "affairs," I won't contradict you. But those days are gone.  

    "They come, they come To build a wall between us We know they won't win."--Crowded House, "Don't Dream It's Over."

    by Wildthumb on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 07:21:17 PM PDT

  •  Going through a rough patch in my long marriage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thankgodforairamerica

    and have considered an affair, in the abstract, on the grounds that I'm desperate for attention, appreciation , and physical contact.  Told my spouse and she was, not unnaturally, furious.  But, I think it did get her attention as to how serious our issues were.  So we've been working on them more directly, and making some progress I hope.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 09:03:20 PM PDT

    •  that was very brave of you, in many ways (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp

      i'm glad you made that choice instead of a different one.

      "...i also also want a legally binding apology." -George Rockwell

      by thankgodforairamerica on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 09:07:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  this works for me (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vetwife

      but maybe not you.  I'm not a therapist.  But.  One of the big items is that people feel fulfilled and loved and want to reciprocate based upon the filling of their "love bank".  And I know that sounds cliche but it's real.  The problem is that filling that love bank requires the right currency.  I could buy my spousal unit a diamond ring, a fancy car, tell her she's the most awesomest, whatever.  And the account balance would still be zero.

      But if I took the time to do something as simple as clean the house, or get her prepped for work with coffee, mobile phone, and clean/gassed up car in the early a.m.?  Well that's a mega deposit.  Fill her needs first.  Weird to me, but IKR?

      I didn't want this reply to get into giving advice but in my experience IF you want your marriage to work, you have to find out what love language she speaks.  And no bull, if you speak it for a bit, and THEN let her know that your language is attention, appreciation, and physical contact - even give examples what that looks like...

      There are no guarantees but being on the other side of it, it's plain as day to me.

      Nuance is lost upon those who choose not to look.

      by poliwrangler on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 11:44:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Confessing the temptation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp

      is the first step to stopping it -- it's not always better to ask forgiveness than it is permission.

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 01:06:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  hmm (0+ / 0-)

    gotta find time to this off my que and read it

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