I am the woman sleeping with your husband
Yes, I am she.
I met him because he was specifically out looking. We talked, we laughed, we bonded... and yes, we had sex.
He had begun looking in other places because there was nothing for him at home. At first, it was about the sex, however the physical connection that sex brings was only a surface issue to what lay beneath the surface.
Intimacy, care, love, attention, appreciation: are these things only women need in their life? Men make a picture of themselves of being strong and not needy for these things; but these very things are what brought a couple together in the first place. If these things were denied to a woman in her marriage, there would be an uproar... a collective cry of despair!
There are so many excuses to deny a man these basic needs, to ignore him and go about a wife's day and sink into bed at night without so much as a tender word no matter how many times he asks or mentions what he needs or wants from his relationship. The kids, the house, the career, the degree... and none of these excuses are invalid.
Typically, a man responds to this sort of treatment in one way and one way only. He cheats.
I met (let's call him John Doe in an effort to protect what there is left to protect) on the internet. I had just left my husband, whom I had been with for 8 years. Let's not go into detail about that, except that my stitches on my face hadn't yet healed and I wasn't exactly feeling pretty. I had very little support and turned to chat areas to connect with people. As we began to get to know each other, I began to tell him my story and he began to tell me his. There was an amazing connection, we understood each other in a way neither of us had experienced before.
It wasn't anything either of us had planned, he was married and I had sworn off ever getting close to another person again (or in the very least for a while.) But it happened.
He told me his wife was his best friend, he never had a negative thing to say about her. He told me she had told him she felt they were "just roommates." He has slept in a bed by himself in his own room for 10 years. They had gone to marriage counseling, sex therapists, the whole nine yards. In the end they simply let it go.
But a marriage, like a houseplant, will die if not watered and cared for.
We began our affair well over a year ago. From the beginning it has been passionate and honest and open in every way, everything he had been craving from his first love (let's call her Jane Doe, just to be consistant.) And they were in love at one point... deeply, until it all slipped through the cracks. He's told me about their beautiful wedding, their struggles as their marriage became one of convenience, he even played me a song by Amos Lee, "Hello Again" and cried. It was about the love he had tried so hard to hold onto with Jane.
He doesn't speak about her much with me. Maybe out of sensitivity, perhaps to keep the two parts of his life seperate, I'm not certain.
I fell in love. He fell first, and I resisted. I knew this path was only pain.
I tried to leave... twice.
He was going to tell her in May. He has been preparing her to be okay without him. He taught her how to organize the bills and showed her where the laundry soap was kept. He began to put tiny amounts of money aside. He was spending time with his daughter, letting her know subtley that her father would always be there. He was getting everyone ready for things to change...
...And then jane found the text messages.
Of course she was devastated! I would be! I can't imagine feeling any other way. I felt for her so strongly, but I knew I was the enemy. John and I were the two sinners, caught in our deception. There was no way around it. Despite the feelings involved, we were wrong. That's the honest truth and there's no way around it.
But now, the delicate way to handle this mess we had gotten ourself mired in was tossed out the window.
Jane lost it. Completely lost it. I wasn't present, but I heard the things that had been said about me, both truth and misconceptions alike. There was some inappropriate things that Jane followed up with, that don't need to be brought into this article. I am not here to bash someone, especially not someone acting in the heat of the moment. No one knows how they would react, given similar situations.
Things have since calmed down. John and Jane are divorcing. It's hard on everyone, including me as I stand on the outside looking in. I feel bad for everyone.
Jane, who although admittedly wasn't happy and fulfilled in her marriage, is looking into the face of a major life change that has come abruptly, like a tornado.
John, who was caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He feels guilty and often caught in the middle of not wanting to hurt or be hurt any more.
Myself, who can only stand on the sidelines and watch and wait. My own guilt stains me like a wine stain on a wedding dress.
We got a place that we're moving in to at the beginning of the month, I cling to that as I observe the disintegration of something that should have lasted a lifetime and I helped to destroy. I feel my own heart and soul torn between working tirelessly to remain as sensitive to their terrible situation as humanly possible and wanting to cling to the man I love and give him as much as I can to comfort him in our shared fault.
The all too human and selfish part of me fears the time he spends with her, doing the necessary negotiations about finances and custody arrangements to save them the terrible court battle. What if he decides it's too hard? What if he decides what we have isn't worth all this pain and strife? What do I tell my kids if the man who always has time to push them on the swing when we meet at the park... if he decides to stay?
I beat myself up about these thoughts. If he stayed, it would be the right thing to do. It would be the right thing to go back, try to heal the damage we had done... to piece together the marriage we had destroyed together. And my pennance would be to let him go, let all of our hopes and dreams and talks of "...when we're together.." fade into the past.
I love him so much, more than I've ever loved before. Part of that means wanting to protect him and his family from all the pain we have caused.
But I want him to be with me. I've cried over him, shared with him from my innermost feelings, made a connection that goes deeper than flesh and bone. I just want this to be over. I gave to my relationship and Jane did not. But that's my all-too-human and selfish self speaking.
I feel like Reverend Dimsdale in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I will tear away my clothes and my "A" for adulterer will be lashed into my skin, as obvious to everyone who sees as his which he wears on the breast of his shirt.
Because I am the other woman, "...the one sinner of the world."
I, through my love of a married man, decimated a family, destroyed a marriage, perhaps ruined a reputation. And all that I am going through, the waiting, the anguish of watching them suffer (and I do care for her, because she is human too and will always be a part of him,) the trepidation and uncertainty of our future together, all these things are part of my pennance. I will, and should pay this price for the rest of my life; however I hope for eventual happiness and peace.
I hope Jane and I will be able to be in the same room together without strife. I hope that our three combined children will know and love each other and emerge realitively unscathed and perhaps stronger. I hope the same for John and my relationship, built on love and understanding, but also deceit and shared secrets.
Most of all, I hope for happiness. For all of us. But just as we've learned about relationships, happiness must also be cultivated.