What would you do if your husband or boyfriend/manfriend cheated on you? I mean, what would you really, honestly do? And what’s worse…an emotional involvement or a one night stand? What if it happens more than once? Is it possible to forgive and forget?
I just finished reading Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin and those are some of the central questions of the book. It’s the story of infidelity from the alternating points of view of the wronged wife and the other woman. I love Emily Giffin’s books and this one was no exception. I stayed up the other night until the wee hours, because I just couldn’t put it down…I had to finish it…to see what was going to happen next…how it was going to end. Now that I’m done, I keep thinking about the story and those questions. What would you do…really?
I think if you ask most women what they would do, without hesitating or thinking about it, they reply that they would leave or kick the cheating bastard out or some variation of that answer. But I wonder how true that really is. Because, often it’s so much more complicated than that.
It was for me. I had always said that I could never forgive a cheater and that any man who ever did that to me would be history inside of five minutes. I openly judged men I knew who cheated and when one of my friends forgave her husband’s indiscretions I told her she was crazy. Then it happened to me and my position on the issue changed really fast.
I always assumed it would be black and white…you are supposed to love me and you are only supposed to want me and you made a committment to me and you put your penis where it shouldn’t have been and that means you don’t love me and now we are finished. Simple, right? When it actually happened it was anything but.
In order to protect the innocent…or in this case, the mostly guilty…parties, I can’t reveal the details. In a nutshell, my boyfriend became involved with another woman. And he slept with her. It wasn’t a one night stand. It happened more than once. It was a relationship. The whole situation was a nightmare and I was devastated. Initially, we did split up. I was hurt and angry. But then a little time passed and I got less angry and I started to miss him. He missed me too and eventually we decided to sit down and talk.
I went to his apartment in the middle of the night and he sat in the tub, in a bubble bath and I sat on the bathroom floor and I asked a million questions and he told me everything. It was hard to listen to him talk about her, but it was necessary. I needed to know. She was someone from the past and their situation had gone unresolved for years. She contacted him and he met with her to get some closure. Unfortunately, he ended up getting caught up because she’s a master manipulator and things went further than they should have. It was a mistake. It shouldn’t have happened. He was sorry. He loved me and he missed me and he wanted me back.
There was more to it, of course. Like I said…it was very complicated. Once I knew everything I realized that what happened had nothing to do with me or his feelings for me. It was truly a mistake…he didn’t intend for it to happen and he’d never meant to hurt me. I’m not making excuses for him and I’m not saying that he wasn’t wrong…he was dead wrong for doing what he did. He wasn’t a kid…this wasn’t high school. He was an adult and this was real life and he never, ever should have let it happen. He never should have lied or gone behind my back. But I knew that he regretted what he’d done and I knew that he was sorry for hurting me and…most importantly, I knew that he loved me.
I eventually decided to try forgive him, because I loved him too and I wanted to be with him. It wasn’t easy, but being apart was harder. Things were strange for a long time. It took a while before I would hug him or kiss him or let him touch me at all. It took even longer before I stopped being suspicious of every little thing and stopped snooping around the apartment for signs of her or tensing up every time the phone rang. It was stressful, but we got through it and, slowly, things started to get better. After a while and a lot of talking and some yelling and a few tears and a little laughter, I did forgive him completely.
Forgetting has been an entirely different thing. I haven’t forgotten and sometimes thoughts about her and what happened will randomly pop into my head. At first, those thoughts were vivid and made me sick to my stomach. Over time, they’ve become hazy and only sting for the briefest of seconds. I know I will never forget it.
I’ve often wondered if I was crazy for staying with him and for forgiving him. This book makes me feel a little less crazy. Every relationship is different and every situation is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to infidelity. Everyone has to evaluate their own circumstances and make their own decisions. No one else can tell you what you should do because no one else has to live your life.
What do you ladies think? Anyone else go through something like this? Did you decide to leave or to forgive?
BTW – I definitely recommend this book and all the other Emily Giffin books – especially the first two, Something Borrowed and Something Blue.