What would you really do???

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.

Comments

  1. You are totally right, every situation is different. Now in my life I personally don’t think I could forgive someone if they cheated on me. I’ve been on both sides of the fence. My high school boyfriend and eventually finance cheated on me a lot (I found out how much after we made a final split). I took him back and and over and over again he cheated. He finally left me for a woman he is now married to. I know I’m better off and thankful everyday that he woke up and realized we weren’t right together. I just wish I had realized this years before all the pain.

    Fast forward quite a few years – I was in a long distance relationship and had no chance of winning the girlfriend of the year award. I was in fact a cheater. And it was just as bad as being cheated on. Not the same feeling but the overwhelming guilt is enough to make you ill, but trust me being cheated on and that pain is a million times worse.

    I vowed never again to be a cheater and that I would never tolerate being cheated on. I hated myself for allowing myself to do such things and I hated myself even more when I was cheated on and allowed it to happen to me.

    I do believe situations like yours CAN work out for the best and CAN make a fresh start. It all depends on the two individuals and how much power and strength they have to do what they say they will and learn to trust again.

    I never regained trust with my ex that cheated on me and I was miserable.

    Thankfully I’m in a healthy relationship for the first time since I can remember. I would never dream of cheating on Mike and I know in my heart he wouldn’t either. If the chance ever would arise in my heart if either of us went for it – it’s because we weren’t truly happy in our current situation and maybe that situation should end.

    I honestly don’t know what i would do if I was faced with this issue today. If he cheated I’m pretty sure my bags would be packed and the Uhaul truck would be called, but I”m thankful that it’s a worry I don’t have.

    Everyone is different and so is every situation :) I applaud you for being so open. *Hugs*

  2. Wow, Shana, what a great story and so well written! You are right. Every situation is different. It is hard to say until you are faced with such a situation. Life is funny, the twists and turns that go on along the way. Things we encounter that we never could’ve or would’ve ever wanted to encounter. Yet, we grow. We learn. We become who we are because of all of it. Thanks for sharing what turned out to be a great life lesson for you!
    Many blessings,
    Heather

  3. It is a tough situation, my mom always suspected that my dad was cheating, but she acknowledged that she simply couldn’t afford to leave him. They were terribly unhappy for alot of their lives, but that was the only decision she felt was possible.
    I would be devastated if my husband cheated on me. Crushed. But if he chose to stay with me, I would stay with him. It would be hard to give him my trust, but I love him more than I ever thought possible and cannot imagine spending a minute of my future without him…
    This doesn’t mean that I have low self-worth or that I am dependant on him – I just have to believe that if he was truly sorry and wanted to make it work with me, I would be open to that.

    Thank you for such an open and thought-provoking post.

  4. I’m one of those people that say ‘kick his ass to the curb’. I like to think I know myself pretty well and I am certain that I would always be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    That’s where I’m at today, but who knows what another year or decade will bring? I’m forever maturing and I’d like to think that if I was ever in that unfortunate situation, I’d make a decision that I could honestly live with. I’m wishing and working towards a mostly happy life, you know? All the choices I make should reflect that.

  5. Great post. I really don’t think I would know what to do unless I was in this situation. But I have a hard time forgetting things so I don’t think it would work out well for me. I have seen several friends go through this and in some situations (repeated cheaters) the answer to leave just seems obvious. But I know that all situations are different.

  6. I have to give you kudos on the courage it must’ve took to make such an open, honest post. I think everyone wants to think that they know how they’d react in any given situation, but I just don’t think it’s possible to know. In major, life changing events like that, we learn lots about ourselves. We find that we’re capable of things we would’ve swore we weren’t, we find that we lack the strength or fortitude we thought we had, or we find out the true meaning of unconditional love and commitment.

    I think every person and every situation is different. For me, I know that it would take a lot of time and work to fix the trust. I’d like to think I’d have it in me to work with hubs on fixing our marriage and repairing that trust, but I truly don’t know if I would.

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