The end of January and for all of February, I sensed that something was off. He seemed to be more and more “in” the marriage, but there were odd and even troubling occurrences that kept me in a state of uncertainty, and of heightened awareness. I started to look at the public pages of his Facebook friends. That was enlightening, informative, and ultimately, heartbreaking.
On February 20th, I decided to closely watch OW1’s page to see how quickly he commented or “liked” anything she shared that day. I remember that evening when he came home – he was actually very sweet to me. But after checking in with me as I made dinner, he slipped off to our bedroom, and I stood in my kitchen, refreshing her page and “watching” as he commented on and/or liked everything she’d posted that day. I think I stopped breathing then, and the room began to spin.
About ten minutes later, he came back to the kitchen and with tender concern, asked me if I was okay. Everything after that is a bit of a blur. I know I told him that everything wasn’t okay, and that we needed to talk. Back in our bedroom, I asked him what was going on with him and OW1. I said I’d watched her page just now, so I had seen in real time that he’d just liked or commented on her Facebook page. That I’d gone back through her page and seen all of his likes and comments over the last few months and beyond, which were extensive. I accused him of being obsessed with her.
“Not obsessed” he quietly insisted, so I asked how he would characterize it.
He sighed and looked at me sadly, hesitated, and then with his voice just above a whisper, answered: “Infatuated.” As if that were an improvement.
In my mind, I can think of a hundred things I wish I’d said and done. Instead, I think I was too stunned to say much of anything, though I think may have asked how that was much different than an obsession. But you know, I was relieved that she was a lesbian – at least I knew it was one-sided.
You won’t be surprised, I’m sure, to hear that I learned later that I was wrong. In the moment, I felt numb. I am sure that I was in shock. He tried to hug me, but I wouldn’t let him. I think he was surprised. Why? Really, why would he be surprised? What wife wants her husband-who-is-infatuated-with-another-woman to touch her at all?
That night, he slept on the couch.
The next morning, I wrote out all that I knew to a close-knit online group of women I’d come to know through my parenting circles. Many of those women gave me sound, excellent advice, but I didn’t think it applied to my husband. What more could there be? Why would I need to ask to see his texts and emails? Why should I check phone records? Why should I see a doctor to be tested for STDs? Those things might be necessary for men and women whose spouses had actually cheated, but clearly it didn’t apply to me.
Over the next few days, I begged him to tell me if there was anything else. I pleaded with him to “rip off the bandaid” but the truth trickled out like a tiny stream struggling to exist in the drought-stricken landscape of what remained of his honor.
On day 3, I discovered pictures of OW2. A second woman? Hell. She’d sent photos and selfies, one of which showed her in a shirt unbuttoned to show off her little red bra. I also found photos of him and her at same state park as the t-shirt and receipt I’d found last November. He told me that evening that she’d come on to him, and hung his head, admitting that he’d tried to have sex with her but “couldn’t get it up”. That was…the first acknowledgement that he’d removed clothing. That he’d crossed that line. But in the way that we betrayed spouses often do at first, I was in my own form of denial. I was relieved again that he hadn’t actually had sex with her or anyone else. At least there was that.
And then there wasn’t even that. On the fifth morning after DDay, he leaned over my shoulder and told me that he had to tell me something, but that he was afraid to say it even though he knew I deserved to hear the truth. And then the biggest wave came crashing over my world, and I was drowning in a sea of tears and sadness and fury and indescribable pain.