I am writing my life story and I am reflecting on a time in my marriage when things had fallen apart so badly that I knew my husband had no respect for me and I felt I had to find emotional support outside of the marriage.
It was 1999 on the edge of the millenium. I had great success in my career, I had amazing friends, I had the house, the son and the daughter and I was making great money. I was keeping up with the Joneses and I had the virtual white picket fence.
My husband who I had been married to since 1990 was constantly critical of my 3 year old daughter, enough that my 5 year old son burst into tears at the dinner table asking why daddy hated his sister so much.
He was critical of everything about me. I felt full respect from my children , coworkers, and friends. I would go home to him and he would start attacking me emotionally.
I remember sitting on the couch in 1999 looking around at my kids and my house and realizing I was not happy. I knew it was my marriage that was causing my pain. I looked at my 3 year old and 5 year old and cried. I did not want them to go through the pain of divorced parents. I could find a way to survive my marriage!
I decided on that fateful day that I would seek emotional support outside the marriage and continue to perform my wifely duties to my husband. It seemed to be the only thing he really wanted from me at this point anyway.
I started suggesting one on one lunches with coworkers, sometimes it was women but increasingly it became married men at the office who I enjoyed having talks with the most. I considered this risk free as I was overweight and also we were both married people so the odds of anything ever happening beyond talking seemed risk free!
Over time one man became far closer to me than the others. I had moved into emotional affair mode. I did not know what that meant at the time. But we became reliant on our lunches and sharing complaints about our marriages and complaining about the office politics. There was an unspoken passion between us that I am thankful never materialized but that was my first emotional affair.
Once you step into that bucket of sharing emotions and secrets and relying on each other for support you are in dangerous territory. I should have raised an alarm bell and suggested counselling. Instead I stayed quiet and enjoyed the company of other men.
I didn’t see what harm I was causing, my ex husband was still getting what he really wanted and I was getting my emotional needs met. Everybody is happy right?
This is a mistake and it needs to stop right here! Unfortunately I continued with this destructive behaviour and eventually putting myself into vulnerable situations landed me into a full fledged affair.
It started with a thank you dinner. For work that we had done together. Nothing actually happened that night but i felt incredibly beautiful and special. The next day I thanked him for making me feel beautiful.
We fell into an affair that lasted 6 months. Thankfully due to distance we did not see each other that often, but we both dealt with extreme moments of guilt and euphoria over what we were doing.
I regret the impact that affair had on my family. I do not regret having him in my life. He taught me I was beautiful after years of me believing I was fat and ugly.
My learning from this experience is clear. If you are closing yourself off emotionally in your marriage, its time to raise the white flag and get counselling for the marriage. If you leave it and try to sweep it under the carpet it can only lead to more trouble.
My ex also had an affair and i am sure that happened for similiar reasons from his perspective. Either way I can tell you I will NEVER allow myself to look outside a relationship for emotional support unless its a counsellor. I beleive in open and full communication no matter how tough the topic is and I would never do things the same way again.
Painful lessons learned on a road I will never travel again.