The Sex Edition: the Wife
We had been married a year and a half when he met her at work. We were 30. She was 22.
There was a quick change in him. My friends who have gone through this say they experienced the same thing with their husbands. There’s almost a textbook form to it. He got mean. This was in the summer. We started fighting about things we’d never argued about. All of a sudden, it was like he was picking fights with me, trying to make me angry. He was mopey and sullen, not engaged. He criticized what I wore: “Why don’t you wear skirts to work?” I understood later that she was a short-skirt-and-heels-to-work kind of girl.
I can almost pinpoint the day they met. From then on, he was constantly checking his e-mail. He would leave the house to take calls, so I looked through his phone records. There was this number that — bang, bang, bang — was always on the list: 4 in the morning, you know, all times of the day, and then there’d be six calls when I knew he was out of town. I found the number in the fall, and they’d started seeing each other in March.
I called the number and got her voice mail, got her name, heard her voice. So I asked him, “Who is she?” And he said she was one of his clients, a friend of his. “She has feelings for me,” he told me. I said, “Friends don’t call each other at 4 in the morning.” But he said they were really good friends, and she had feelings for him, and I bought that. It was what I wanted to hear.
We were at breakfast a few months after they started seeing each other, and on the drive home, he said to me, “My feelings for you have changed.” What do you say to that? And how could it have happened after less than two years? I was devastated. I packed a duffel bag and went to my sister’s for a few days. And that was OK with him. He wanted some space.
After that, things were better for a month. We went out with friends and had fun with them, and I felt more positive about things. He seemed better. I found out later that she’d called it off. She felt guilty. She went on dates to make him jealous.
Within that little span, I got pregnant.
The day I took the test and knew I was pregnant, I sat down at the computer and just happened to open an e-mail and see her name. All I saw was “I love you completely.” That’s it. That’s what I saw. And that’s all I needed to read. I just knew. I ran around the house like an idiot, screaming and crying. He came running into the house, and I said, “Why is she saying she loves you?”
He sat down at the kitchen table and said, “You’re right. We had sex a couple of times.”
I said, “Pick up your phone and call her. I want to talk to her.” So he got his cell phone and he dialed her number, and he said, “I told my wife. She knows we had sex a couple of times,” and she hung up on him. I told him to try again, but she wouldn’t answer. I think she was embarrassed.
The rest of that weekend is a complete fog in my head. When I went back to work on Monday, I started hacking into his e-mail account from work. You want to know exactly what they did, physically, A to B. You want to know where they went, if they saw movies, where they had dinner, if they dated, if they held hands at the movies, if he opened doors for her. You go crazy with the minutiae. Has he said the same things to her that you’ve heard? Does he talk about me? Does she wonder about me? You become obsessed with finding those things out. I was constantly asking him questions.
It infuriated him. He didn’t want to answer my questions because he didn’t want to hurt me.
He made a promise in counseling to cut off all contact with her, not take her calls or answer her e-mails. And so life continued, and he was pretty depressed and sullen, and I think he missed her. Then I found out that they were still talking. I hacked into his voice mail and I heard her messages about him staying over when he was out of town on business, where she was. Once I found that out, I went back to feeling crazy and hysterical. After that, it was a constant battle, calling him to ask where he was, what he was doing. I couldn’t trust him. I asked him to go to his bosses and get away from her as a client, but he wasn’t willing to do that.
I eventually heard another voice mail from her about them getting together.
I called in sick that morning and went to my parents’ house and said I couldn’t do it anymore. I moved in there temporarily. It was too hard for me to be in our house. We’d bought it together, and it was full of our wedding pictures. Once I left the house, they saw each other more and more.
I‘m telling you, you go nuts. I was a crazy woman. He changed his voice-mail password, but I figured it out. I figured out more than one of them. They had a secret e-mail account that I hacked into. All his passwords were city names. I spent hours doing this kind of stuff, working it out. Do not mess with a woman who has just found out.
I don’t know to this day if he knows that I read all the e-mails and heard those messages. She would write e-mails about their sex life, how much she enjoyed it. I would read them a little at a time.
Some of the e-mails talked about things he and I had done together — a vacation spot or seeing a band we both liked — as though he’d done them alone, and I sat up and cried all night. I’d never physically done that, and I haven’t done it since, but I could not stop. It was such a hopeless feeling. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I don’t know how I got through that time. The pregnancy made it seem that much worse.
Once, when I was at the house to pick up some clothes, I went through his bag. He’d just gotten home from a business trip where he’d seen her. I found this huge Vogue magazine. And they’d written notes to each other through all the pages of the magazine, like “I can see you in these clothes and then later out of them.” They were writing notes on the pages related to what was on those pages. And one of the articles was about babies, and she had written on it, “I can’t wait until we have babies of our own.” And I remember being completely outraged because I was pregnant with his baby at the time. He had a family already.
I’ve cheated — not in a marriage. I felt really bad right away. I broke off the relationship within a week of having been unfaithful. I can’t really explain that one, but I wouldn’t get caught if I cheated now. You can’t use your cell phone to call the person. You can’t e-mail. You can’t text. The problem with the people who get caught is that they leave a paper trail, a computer trail.
A lot of this is also about sex, but no one ever wants to say that: “I was just horny. I just wanted to have sex with that person.”
I think that it would have been easier for me to get over what happened to me if he had just said, early on, “I’m in love with someone else and I want to be with her.” Before he started sleeping with her. I could deal with him not wanting to be with me. What I couldn’t deal with was all the lying and the cheating and the betrayal. That’s the hard thing to get over. And I think people who have been on my side of things would agree with that. I wish he’d just said he was in love with someone else instead of telling me — and other people — that I was a bad wife, doing the bullshit ballet of Well, you don’t do this thing I like and you aren’t like this thing I want you to be like.
They got married two years after our divorce was final. I think they really didn’t want people to know how they’d met, especially the people surrounding her. I think he was trying to do right by her and her family.
We get along well now. I think we’re pretty good friends, but it’s mostly surface. We talk about our child rather than about his life or my life.
I was in no shape to date for about six years. It took me a long time to trust people. Do I trust men now? Yeah. Sure. I don’t know.