If I could have a Do Over… What does that mean?
It has been 9 months since I found out that my fiancé Andrew was having an affair with a co-worker in his immediate team. I haven’t told many people the complete story about the things that happened, not even her husband. My Do Over would be to expose this affair to the people that don’t know, but should know. I kept it quiet out of fear and listening to the two people that hurt me the most at that point in time. Andrew and I have a beautiful daughter who will turn 3 at the end of April this year. My fear was for the future of the broken family structure that my innocent daughter would now find herself in. The thoughts of my her having to share time between mummy and daddy’s place, and in the future potentially keeping her feelings quiet to not upset mummy or daddy and appear to not take sides was on my mind. No child should have to endure this. Andrew was also telling me that if I told people he would have to quit his job, we would have no money, and he would run away as that would be his first instinct. His affair partner Nicole played down the whole thing. She told me that they had spoken/emailed inappropriate stuff, had kissed on a few nights out, had some feelings there but when they realised these feelings were developing they put a stop to things. She said it was a big wake up call for her and that she knew her husband deserved better and she would make sure she would treat him better. It was definitely over…. Bullshit!
Why a Do Over? The relationship wasn’t over.. 10 days after finding out about the affair I found a message thread between the 2 of them. Andrew said the words “fuck Sarah” in response to Nicole looking for another job to move out of his team and appease me. Further in the message thread Nicole mentioned her husband Aaron, followed by the line ” but he doesn’t mtu”. That means ‘Matter to us’. WTF!! Looking back now I can see how deranged it all was/is. At the time I genuinely believed they thought it was a mistake and wanted to end it all and work on their own relationships with their respective partners. I was a gullible fool. The fact is that by me keeping it secret and not telling many people actually helped them to forge another connection/bond. Whilst I was pissed and hostile at Andrew on the home front he could go to work where Nicole would tell him that he was a good guy and has a good heart, they didn’t intend for this to happen, mistakes happen. In essence, she had become the good guy and I was the bad guy. Andrew and I ended up seperating for 4 months. Close friends and family knew but only 2 people knew the whole story. For some baffling reason my instinct was to protect him from looking like a bad guy in case we salvaged something and he could show his face again. His instinct was to protect Nicole. We are now back in counselling to see if we can repair our relationship. I think it is largely for the sake of our daughter. Right now I feel flat and numb. On occasion I have positive feelings towards him, we get to a point where we can communicate and then it inevitably ends up in some argument. I can see he has resentment and anger towards me on occasion. He tells me he has felt resentment towards me that has built up over the years as he feels like he is made to feel guilty to go out and do his hobbies. He also feels underappreciated about the jobs he does at home and felt I neglected him when our daughter arrived. They are all valid feelings, they are his feelings, and it makes me sad that he feels this way. I do want him to be happy.
Back on track… Over the course of the months that followed they remained in contact. Despite confronting them over this 6 times they kept doing it. I was still the gullible fool that would believe the lies each time. Andrew would contact her and she would respond. To me she would play the damsel in distress who couldn’t work out why Andrew was so fixated on her but behind the scenes she would tell him she could never ignore him, welcoming the correspondence. The fact is he was in love with her (and perhaps still is – I know it can take time for feelings to dissipate). She is/was in love with him too but kept denying it. She did take action and found another job in another country – PNG. Aaron quit his job as a car salesman to look after their daughter (who is similar age to my daughter) so she could work full time in another country. It made it quite difficult to tell Aaron after that as he has made some really big changes/sacrifices unbeknownst to him because his wife cheated. The sad thing is that she gets to advance her career whilst he has given his up. Nicole told me he had worked his previous job since high school. We are all in our 30’s now, so it would have been a big thing to give up. I firmly believe that a cheating spouse should be the one to tell their partner what they have done, the thing is that most of them don’t. I feel huge empathy towards Aaron for the things he doesn’t know but should know. I doubt he would have made his career sacrifice and move from family/friends to a developing country to further his wife’s career if he knew that his wife had cheated.
The fact is telling everyone (spouses) what has happened from the start is a healthy thing to do. Everyone involved can make the decisions that is right for them. Yes people do make mistakes and people get hurt. I can’t vouch for what the feelings are like if you do this from the beginning. I can tell you it is completely soul destroying to not say something. To uncover more messages, live with the self doubt and constant betrayal, trying to keep track of what you have said to what people, and many more emotions, is like standing in quick sand. You just can’t function no matter what advice you are given. I can look back now and realise that the actions and behaviour your partner and their affair partner take are their responsibility. You can’t fix that and nor should you. I was plagued with guilt that Andrew may hurt himself and that my daughter would be left without a father. I work as a software developer so my brain is naturally wired to problem solve. I got caught in the trap of trying to wear some of Andrew’s burden and come up with ways to help him. He didn’t ask for me to do this, it was just my personality to try to do it. I realise now that it is up to them to seek the help they need to be able to handle the fallout. It is however a right for all spouses involved to know. If you want to go down the path of trying to make sure their relationship is over I would tell their work colleagues, mutual friends etc as well. I know it could be the wrong thing to do and you should be the bigger person but that is so much harder to put into practice. If I’m honest, I would have gotten some kind of satisfaction out of it. I’m sure it would have probably been shortlived but even a small amount of satisfaction would have helped through those truly dark times.
When your partner cheats on you the pain you feel is immeasurable. My advice is don’t keep it a secret. Tell everyone for your own sanity. Keeping it secret will just give the cheating parties another thing to bond over and turn towards each other. I later found out it is a scientific fact that when 2 people cheat the pathways in their brain change. They are hard wired to reach out to that person in the ways that they had when the affair was in full effect. Andrew and Nicole would message each other all the time. Andrew would get up at 5am to go to the gym and would send her a message so that she had something to wake up to. They would send each other messages throughout their work days incessantly, even during work meetings. Then they would message each other through the night when they were home with their families. This created a pathway in their brains that was hard for them to give up. If all parties had known (even friends and work colleagues) I think there would have been more effort made to change behaviour which ultimately changes these pathways in the brain sooner. It sounds selfish but this would have saved a lot of constant pain on my part.
I know pretty much every reader will probably be screaming at this page saying just leave Andrew. Tell Aaron. I may still do all of this. I’m using my blog as a tool to help acknowledge my feelings, the hurt, and the events that have transpired. To help me let go and work out what is best for me. I truly did love Andrew. He has hurt me like no other and has made me feel unsafe and insecure in our relationship. I’m on a journey so my posts will most likely jump all over the place, be confusing, and not flow. It will be a brain dump of what I’m going through to help me establish a more meaningful life. Until next time..