From May 2014 (But Not a Blast From the Past)
I read this and liked it. I know when I was younger I always said if a man cheated I was done with him. A year or so ago, while reading a forum I frequent, women were talking about how they didn’t necessarily consider cheating a dealbreaker, and they would have to look at the whole picture and assess their entire relationship. I also like the fact that studies show most people aren’t happier after a divorce.
The betrayed wives are divided into two categories. Those women who dump the cheater? Brave. Strong. Those who forgive? Delusional. Wimpy.
What’s particularly surprising, however, is that much of this scorn heaped on betrayed wives comes from…betrayed wives.
Forgiving a cheater and rebuilding a marriage seems a disappointment to our take-the-gloves-off culture. We want revenge. We want retribution. After all, the adage goes, “once a cheater…”
No matter that evidence doesn’t back this cliché up. No matter that the majority (80% says a recent study) of marriages will experience infidelity. No matter that of those who divorce following infidelity, more than three-quarters later regretted it.
Obviously this was written over two years ago when I thought CF and I had reconciled, that our marriage was “stronger than ever” and things were “better than ever”. I’m pretty sure I found this over on Elle’s site, The Betrayed Wives Club.
I like Elle. I think she’s a very level-headed person. She used to give me a lot to think about when I thought I was reconciling, and even though STBX ended up being a lying, cheating sack of shit who never deserved a second chance, I think she writes some very thought provoking posts.
So who has it tougher? Who gets more sympathy? Which path is more difficult?
Does it matter? I’ve done both. I forgave him the first time. I patted myself on the back for being so level-headed. I was so proud of myself for fighting for my husband and family. Look at me- I’m able to assess our entire history instead of letting our marriage be reduced to this one mistake.
I took comfort in the study that showed 75% of those who divorced following infidelity later regretted it. I took comfort in the study that found people who divorced following an unhappy marriage weren’t generally any happier and that a high percentage of those who remained married were actually happy.
I read the blogs by women (and yes, they were all women) who were slowly making their way through their own reconciliations. I found people who were like me and I could sympathize and compare what I was going through and how I was healing to them.
I listened when I read all the blog entries that were supposed to give me hope, all the people talking about how they celebrated their anniversaries because it was a victory, or how the pain was all in the past, or the affair didn’t define their marriage, or that everything would be okay.
And then he did it again. So I got my ducks in a row and I filed for divorce after finding out just how deep the lies ran. That’s when I found Chump Lady and all of her readers. This is the important part, folks. It’s not so much what Tracy herself said; she is one person. She’s had one bad experience with a serial cheater. What has opened my eyes are all the other people on her site. The other people who have the exact same story. Oh they vary in detail somewhat. You have the serial cheater who is constantly cheating, the repeat offender who does it multiple times but with breaks in between and lots of promises to change, the one and gone cheaters, the cheaters who take it underground so the poor spouse has no idea he or she has been living a lie for 10, 15, 20 years.
Since filing for divorce I’ve lived with the uncertainty of whether or not spousal and child support would be enough to live on. I’ve dealt with him moving out of not only the house but also the state, all without saying a word to his kids. I’ve had to sell off most of my possessions and leave what I couldn’t sell behind so that my kids and I could move in with my mom 600 miles away. I’m applying for textbook waivers because I can’t realistically afford to pay for them; I’ve been told it will run into the hundreds of dollars. I’m having to look for a job and go back to work where I will probably make just enough to pay my bills and not much more than that. I’m probably going to be applying for the state’s free health care, i.e. welfare healthcare, this week so that if anything happens to me or my kids we’ll be covered. Plus, thanks to the Affordable Healthcare Act, or Obamacare, I HAVE to have insurance or I get to pay a hefty fine at tax time. In short, I’m probably going to be penniless soon and even working full-time isn’t going to help with that.
To be honest I think both options suck. It sucks to stay and have to get through all of that crap, knowing your spouse betrayed you, lied to you, made promises to someone else. It sucks to deal with the triggers and the sadness, wondering if you will ever trust that person again, praying that those websites that promise your marriage will be better than ever are indeed correct. Sometimes you go through all of that only to find out it was for naught. The cheater does it again, despite the tears that signify how sorry they are and the promises to change and the pleas for one more chance. Then you get to deal with the destruction of your life as you know it. You get to tell your children that the two of you are divorcing. You get to try to keep everything going for them so that they’re not faced with changes. Sometimes you get to move out of your house, move in with your mom, become penniless, work a shit job and go on welfare. I’m going to be honest here. I really don’t care if people are high fiving me for my “brave decision”. That brave decision has caused so much upheaval and destroyed my kids’ once comfortable lives. I swear to God if I hear one more person tell me everything is going to be okay, or that life will be so much better in a few months I think I’m going to pick something up and swing it at their head.
This is why I try not to advise people. Everyone has their own journey. You’ve got to decide what is best for you. I see people who have chosen reconciliation that appear fairly miserable a year, two years, three years later. Then I tell myself that 1. I’m only seeing a very small slice of their lives. If they’re anything like me when I had my other FB page I used it mainly when I felt like venting, not when I wanted to gush about how wonderful everything was, and 2. It’s their life; if they feel like dealing with the triggers and whatever other issues they are dealing with is worth it in the long run what do I know? I’m ready to bash people in the head with a hammer if they keep telling me everything is going to be okay!
Will some people think they are weak? I’m sure they will. There will be others who applaud them and tell them they are taking the tougher route. They’ll tell them that it takes more guts to stay and work things out. They may even hear how far too many people are only too willing to throw away their marriage and forget that part of their wedding vows that said, “For better or for worse, ’til death do us part”; thankfully, they’re not like that. They’re willing to do the tough work to repair their marriage instead of throwing it away when things weren’t easy.
But I’ve also “seen” others who have chosen reconciliation who do appear to be happy, and whose marriages do seem to be stronger and better. I think that’s wonderful. I would say they were willing to do the work to repair the relationship and it paid off.
Sometimes the efforts don’t pay off, or the person knows cheating is a deal breaker and they will never get over it, or you just never get a chance; I’ll be the first to tell you that divorce is no picnic. Will some people laud me for being so brave? Of course! Then I will have others who wish to tax me at a higher rate for “polluting” society, or who will consider me tainted goods and unsafe to be around happily married couples. They’ll tell me I’m dooming my children to a life of teenage pregnancy, bad grades, and juvenile delinquency. I’m sure there will be those who tell people like me that I gave up too soon or that I’m a moral failure. Eh. I don’t care. My conscience is clear.
I don’t think we need to put betrayed spouses into categories or try to determine who has the tougher time. Bottom line is whatever choice you make it’s going to be tough. We all need to be supported in whatever decision we make.