It was my deepest, darkest secret – something that nourished me, tortured me, yet ultimately tore my family apart: After seven years of marriage, the birth of three kids, and weathering the emotional storm of my husband’s infidelity, I made the choice to have an affair.
Now I’m not revealing this today as some kind of confessional. Nor is it my intention to justify or explain my decision. What’s prompting me to write is a disturbing article I read on DailyMail that I fear may entice women into cheating. According to a poll this article cited, many cheating wives believe that having an affair not only improved their sex lives with their husbands, it saved their marriage. And I know, first-hand, that such beliefs are not just distorted, they’re false: Having an affair is far more complicated, painful, and confusing that anything you can possibly imagine.
In your imagination, an affair can look like a simple solution. You feel like your marriage is slowly killing a part of your soul: you feel unheard, unseen, unappreciated, and undesired by your husband. At the same time, the idea of a divorce is just too scary and overwhelming for you to fathom; you may even still be in love with your husband. All I need, you think to yourself, is a bit of passion, a bit of fun. A sexy man in the wings will surely inject some colour into my life and tide me through this dull phase of my marriage.
Rest assured, dear woman, you can and will find a man who’ll do just that: you’ll have spectacular sex together and your sexy, beautiful, powerful Sexual Self shall rise from the dead. And you’ll savour that energy – the joy, the vitality – like a food-starved prisoner at a buffet.
But what happens next when you have to go home, back to your primary existence with your husband? This is where your imagination around an affair probably gets sketchy. You wonder, but can’t be certain of how you’ll feel after the “first time” – you know, when you sit across from your husband at the dinner table knowing you crossed the line and are now a cheater.
Well, let me give you a head’s up: You’ll probably feel like a horrible human being and a phony. Your emotions will be scattered and unsteady as you spend time with your family, and you’ll worry that the fake smile on your face is an obvious mask. You’ll breathe a sigh of relief when you’re finally alone with just your thoughts. But you probably won’t sleep that night – you’ll oscillate between memories of the delicious sex you had,and torturous thoughts around what you’ve just done to your marriage.
Don’t NOT worry – many more gut- and heart-wrenching emotions await you if you continue your affair; they’ll individually and collectively take turns stabbing you. I’m not just talking about guilt, I’m talking about less obvious emotions, like disgust towards your husband. I guarantee you that his annoying imperfections will be magnified by your infatuation with your lover. Blame and anger towards him will seethe beneath your skin, too – for not measuring up, for not being more of the man you want, for putting you in this position, for trapping you in an unhappy marriage and possibly stealing the best years of your life.
Ah, but this ferris wheel of emotions is just getting started. Then, there’s the dread of having sex with your husband. Contrary to what the cheating wives in the DailyMail reported, sex with my husband didn’t improve because of my affair, it got worse. Every time he began initiating it, I’d inwardly cringe, my stomach would knot. I didn’t want to do it, God, I so didn’t want to, I was sleeping with someone else and he didn’t have a clue.
But circumstances required I pretend. I had to act, I had to smile, I had to hand over my naked body to him like I was serving him a plate of chicken. And let me tell you, the energy that this pretense required was huge. It felt like my soul was slowly dying again, only now, I could only blame myself and my affair for it, not him. Self-loathing had climbed on board the Ferris wheel, uninvited – and the most disastrous emotions were still to come:
For I fell in love with my lover. Even though I told myself from the beginning that the affair would be temporary, that it would be light, fun, and just about sex, my heart couldn’t help but get attached. Now, I was totally confused and in despair, standing at a unforeseen crossroad and having to make a major choice that I knew would inevitably cause heartbreak for everyone.
Don’t think it could happen to you? Pfft – I didn’t either.
So this is where I’ll leave you – at this imaginary crossroad that could well become your reality. I want you to imagine yourself a year into your affair, lying in bed beside your husband at night and staring at the ceiling. You are sleepless yet again, not because you are fantasizing about your lover or wrestling with anger or guilt, but because your head is swimming and your heart is hurting – should you stay, should you leave him, which man do you love more, what about the kids, what will it take to save your marriage, is it fixable, it, what if…, will your friends hate you, what about money, what have you become, my God, how the hell did you even end up in this mess…?
THIS is what it’s really like to have an affair.
MORE LOVE ADVICE FROM OUR EXPERT: