I was married to my husband for close to sixteen years when I realized he was having an affair. I would be lying if I said we were happy because we were not. I had married at 22, and my husband had been 34 at the time, and a very successful businessman.
In the beginning, he was loving, romantic and everything a star-struck girl could hope for, but after my first child was born everything changed. My loving and indulgent husband became a tyrant, screaming at me when something - any little thing! - was not to his liking.
I told myself he worked too hard and made an extra effort to try to please him. I made sure everything was perfect when he got home every night: the house, dinner, me and the children.
Nothing helped. As the years went by he grew more and more aggressive and demanding, inclusively in the bedroom. Under this abuse, my resolve and strength started to crumble and I turned to a friend for help and advice. This girl was my husband's best friend's second (and much younger) wife, and they were the only people he tolerated in our social lives. I spoke to her and confided my troubles, my doubts, and fears, and she was very supportive and understanding.
Then a year ago, my mother who had been a widow for close to 30 years had a heart attack and I flew home to Denver for a month to help her recover and my two teenaged children begged to be allowed to stay with friends, rather than at home with their always irritable dad.
I came back a month later, and something had changed. My husband was cautiously sympathetic and almost loving. He was coming home early, bringing me flowers, although he just left them on the kitchen counter.
Even when we had sex, he was strange. I couldn't explain what it was, I just KNEW. I called my friend and made a lunch date. We met up as usual, and I started telling her that he was acting oddly. She laughed and said I must be imagining things, and suddenly I saw she wasn't quite meeting my eyes. I thought I was imagining it, I prayed that I was.
I went home and could not stop thinking about it. My instinct told me I was right, but I needed proof, to see it with my own eyes. I called my mother and asked for her help. A week later the phone rang in the middle of the night, and it was my mother's 'doctor' saying she'd had a relapse and I was wanted back in Denver urgently.
Next morning I dropped off my kids at their friends and my husband drove me to the airport. I didn't board that plane. I spent several hours sitting in that airport lounge asking myself if I was ready for the truth, then I rented a car and drove home. I parked in front of my house and saw that my friend's car was in the drive. I called her husband on the cell phone and asked him to please meet me at the house. He was very quiet on the other side, then he said he'd be over.
Twenty minutes later we walked up my driveway without a word and I quietly opened the front door. We went upstairs, and I was trembling and nauseous as we went into my bedroom. And there they were my husband, his wife.
As you can imagine, the scene was indescribably painful and hideous; but somehow liberating. I walked out of that bedroom and packed his bags. I sued for a divorce, sold that huge and showy house, took my kids and moved to Denver. My 'friend's' husband divorced her too, and in the terms of her prenup, she got absolutely nothing. My ex was 'stuck' with his friend's ex-wife and my children tell me he is even more abusive to her than he was to me and blames her for his having lost 'everything.'
I have now met a wonderful man who loves me, and we are cautiously moving towards a commitment. Yes, I suffered and it took a lot of courage to face the truth. Sometimes we prefer not to know? But if I hadn't I would not be where I am, or the woman I've become.
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