I had every intention of posting a second installment of my trip to Prague today. Yet sometimes we plan things and fate steps in and leads us in a different direction.
A phone call was responsible for today’s turnaround. A dear friend, distraught and suffering from depression, called to tell me her husband of 15 years had cheated on her.
It’s not the first time I write about divorce, infidelity, or betrayal on this blog. Other posts, while dealing with these subjects, have not been prompted by the sheer outrage I feel today. My friend’s weeping and claim that she is “broken beyond repair,” touched a nerve.
Thinking of her sorrow, I wondered how it was possible she had meant so little to her spouse that he had stepped out on her. To make matters worse, he’d cheated on her with another man. Not that this mattered. After all, betrayal is betrayal and in my opinion, the gender of the other person is irrelevant. Yet my friend did not feel the same way. To her, it mattered immensely.
“Am I so unattractive he had to cheat with a man, Bella?”, she asked sobbing. For the first time in our ten year friendship, I was at a loss for words. Her husband claimed he was straight and that his indiscretion had simply been part of a middle age crisis; the desire to appease a curiosity he’d had for years. I wasn’t buying it and neither was my friend.
It’s important to note that had this man not been married, he would’ve been free to explore any kind of sexual relationship he wanted. However, given this was not the case, his indiscretion was no different from any other tawdry affair.
Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows how situations like these make me question the “why.”
Why hurt your spouse in this manner?
Why betray her trust?
Why rob her of her self esteem?
Pondering possible answers to these questions lead me to write a letter. A letter to the very person who initiated this pain. I wrote it thinking, not only of my friend, but in all the women who’ve suffered before her and who will sadly follow in her footsteps. As someone who’s gone through a similar experience, I find that its content reflects what the majority of us felt when we made betrayal’s acquaintance.
Dear Cheating Husband,
How dare you betray the woman you promised to love in good times and in bad times? How dare you put yourself first, before the very woman you promised to love and cherish till death do you part?
Were you not aware of the pain your actions would cause? Did your wife’s love mean so little you were willing to sacrifice it for a night of cheap thrills? How could you be so quick to forget the many years she had your back, loved you unconditionally, and took care of you?
How could you stab her in the back when all she ever did was have your children, take care of your home, and help pay the bills? How could you throw away her trust for mere sexual gratification?
How did you expect her to take you back after you lied, cheated, and made her believe she was worthless? Why did you make her believe you were a man of your word, with integrity, and who respected the sanctity of marriage?
How dare you look her in the eye? How dare you tell her to get over it, that it was just one night? How dare you disregard the results of your actions? How dare you expect her to go on like nothing happened?
Shame on you for being so selfish. Shame on you for misleading her into thinking she was your one and only. Shame on you for putting her life at risk when after having sex with a stranger, you came home to have unprotected sex with her.
For now, have your little laugh. Pretend it’s no big deal. Mock her when she cries.
But do not forget karma is unforgiving. She has a way of making her way to those who are callous and inflict pain. Someday you too will experience the hurt and suffering you have caused. Someday you too will feel broken and unable to get on with life. Someday you too will start and end each day asking yourself, why?
Your wife? Hopefully she will no longer be by your side. Hopefully, she will have realized she is worth more than being with a man who didn’t think twice of betraying her. Hopefully, she will be far away, free of your toxicity, living her life in joy, and laughing at the little things.
Only then will you realize the irony–that your betrayal lead to her freedom. The freedom to experience joy the way it was intended.
Just another survivor
Have you ever felt the pain of betrayal?
21 thoughts on “Whatever happened to “till death do us part”?”
Bella, this is sooo well written, and I love your letter! There are all kinds of ways to betray one’s spouse and wedding vows. I imagine cheating ranks ways up there, but so do lying, letting work (or the Internet or one’s friends) become the “mistress,” supreme laziness (refusing to work), and so many others. I feel sorry for your friend, and I hope she can rise above the hurt and realize she’s better off without his grief. When did it become acceptable to renege on a vow anyway??
Debbie, I am honored that you like this piece! I wholeheartedly agree with you–there are more ways to betray your spouse. Technology, while it may have its advantages, is destroying relationships. No longer do you see couples eating at a restaurant and chatting the night away. Nowadays, each person is on his or her phone tapping away! It’s so sad. I with you–it is never okay to renege on a vow!
This was so poignant and powerful. I’m so grateful I survived my past but it is so interesting how you never forget the feeling of that betrayal. I have forgiven my ex, gone on to a joyous and amazing relationship with Alpha Hubby, but it is such a good question: “How dare you?”. I always wonder why one didn’t just get a divorce first before destroying the trust, shattering self-esteem and going on the merry way, thinking one can come back and pick up where they left off. No, just no. I am a survivor and I was worth so much more than that.
Nan, I’m with you–betrayal is never forgotten! God knows I have tried to forget my negative experiences but somehow, whenever there’s a trigger, they rear their ugly heads. How dare you is indeed something every cheating partner needs to hear. As if betrayal could be swept under the rug just like that. I’m so happy you’re a survivor, my friend!
I recently read another blog where a woman went after the person her friend’s husband cheated with. This one is, in my opinion, much more powerful, because the anger is directed where it needs to be — at the cheating spouse.
It breaks my heart that your friend sees this as somehow her fault. It is not. It’s also upsetting to read of a cheater who would tell his spouse to get over it, or who would laugh at her tears. This is a sadistic, horrible excuse for a human being. He also sounds very confused about his sexuality, and even his very identity. She would do well to be rid of him.
There are good men in the world. I’ve kissed my share of frogs and been divorced twice. One spouse cheated on me, though the marriage was basically over by the time that happened. These experiences put me on a path to healing, and I now have a life I never could have imagined. Your friend needs to know that while she is definitely broken, she is not beyond repair. There is hope and life beyond this horrific situation. It will take time and healing…but it is possible.
Nadine, indeed, the anger needs to be directed at the cheating spouse. On occasion, the other person doesn’t even know the man or woman is married. I think many women believe it’s their fault when a spouse cheats. I remember asking myself, what did I do? What didn’t I do? What could I have done better? It wasn’t till years had passed that I realized that if I was guilty of anything, it was of loving him unconditionally. I’ll never make that mistake again. I agree–time is the best healing agent. Hopefully it also wounds all heels!
Bella, I know this pain all too well. It’s what led to the end of my marriage so many years ago. Took me a very long time to get over it but when I remember the pain of it still hurts. I remember clearly the way I learned of it. It was the worst betrayal of all. I am without a doubt, unequivocally better off now. These are the better days.
By the way, I LOVE the look of your blog. You’ve made it look quite stylish–just like Roxy! :)
Monica, I wonder why the hurt still lingers? I think more than hurt, it’s disbelief that someone could treat us with such disdain. I’m relieved that I suffered selective amnesia when it came to anything breakup related. I think it was my brain’s defense mechanism. For sure we are better off without men who didn’t know the value of a good woman when they had her! I’m tickled pink you like the new blog look! You know I like to keep things fresh! :)
Oh Bella, this post resonates so much with me! My husband of 13 years cheated on me. I never suspected a thing. It took me five years before I had the courage and the financial means to leave him. My children were very young at the time. Looking back I wish I had done it sooner. So many years of my life wasted! Such a great post!!!
Mindy, thank goodness that even though we wasted some years, we didn’t spend a lifetime with a loser! Kudos to you for finally seeking your freedom!
I’m so sorry it happened to your friend, Bella. Honestly, I don’t understand cheating. I know that it’s often not just about sexual gratification (sometimes it’s not about sex at all), that there are a lot of emotions involved, that something has been eating up the cheater… But still, why cheating? Why betraying? If the relationship is no longer working, and if there’s nothing that can be done to make it work again, why not honestly ending it, and then seeking other partners?
As for the gender… A man once told me something like (it was all hypothetical, no actual cheating was involved): “I think it would be easier to take if my girlfriend cheated on me with another girl, because that would mean that it’s not that I wasn’t a good enough man for her. No man would be good enough, because it’s not a man she wants to be with. She wants to be with another girl.”
By the way, that guy who says that he is straight and just wanted to experiment a bit… It sounds like he’s bi-curious, at least. Maybe he’s unable to admit it to himself, though.
Ivana, I too ask myself why the cheater doesn’t ask for his freedom instead of betraying his partner. Perhaps it’s his way of enjoying himself and still reaping the benefits of being married? Like you, I too question my friend’s partner’s sexuality. I don’t know if a man who has sex with other men can still claim to be heterosexual. Either way, if he’s in a committed relationship, he should have known better. And to risk his wife’s health that way? Totally unforgivable!
By the way, it’s Ivana, not Ivanka. :)
Ivana, my apologies! I really must wear my reading glasses! :)
No problem, these two are easy to mix up. :)
Bella you never disappoint with your posts. Hey, if ever I need such a letter I’m contacting you since I’m sure mine would sound angry, bitter, scary and fatal….lol. Well said.
I feel bad your friend had to go through such an ordeal which will cause her many years of wondering “why?”. Hopefully she will realize (if she hasn’t yet) that his actions are not her fault. My thinking about this whole thing is this. Society puts a label on everyone and that’s not all, as we grow up there are expectations from our parents which we agonize to meet. Perhaps your friend’s husband was living a life just to keep appearances and went for the wife and kids when that’s really not what he wanted. It’s sad because there are so many men and women afraid to admit what lifestyle they prefer to avoid hurting family or because they fear how society will treat them. I don’t know, I may sound like I’m rambling (I think I am) but I hope your friend, after she sort of heals, finds some peace and not blame herself for his cheating. Sorry, I just kept typing..
Eve, I’m always happy to read your comments! Society does indeed burden us with its expectations of what how it believes we should act and what roles we should maintain. I think my friend is at the stage where she has stopped blaming herself and is now questioning why all of this happened. She believes she did everything right and never did he give a clue as to how he was feeling. To make matters worse, his excuses for cheating are just that, cheap excuses. It’s a horrible situation to find yourself in. For the record, you never ramble! :)
Bella – its a funny old world. Your friends husband is or was drowning under a sea of angst. It played out in a devastating way. I am sure he is mortified by the harm he has caused, and will proclaim forever that was not his intention. His relationship was lacking something, and he ill advisedly went looking. Men do stupid stuff. Always do, always will. Its how they are wired. Wishing our friend the best of everything. Hopefully she will work through the pain and come out the other side stronger than ever before.
Hello Antonio and welcome to my blog! But are men really stupid or do they simply hide behind that facade? Experience tells me that acting clueless is one of men’s better strategies. According to my friend, he never expressed not being satisfied in the relationship and his cheating was random. Infidelity will forever remain a mystery in some cases. I wonder if this is yet another rhetorical question that is well worth exploring.
I read this and am sorry for your friend, I really felt the pain. Men do stupid things and probably later they regret.
Its not your friends fault of course. Tell her that
I sincerely feel sorry for her and hope she can get over this with or without him.
Wish her lots of strength.
Hello William, in spite of men thinking they do stupid things, why do you believe they still go forward with hurtful actions. It’s one thing to do them, it’s another to take action even though you know the pain you will instill. I wish we had an answer to the why of this type of situation. I think that with time, my friend will come through better and stronger. This has indeed been quite the learning experience. Thank you for your support.