Living with a cheater: One wife’s story of keeping up appearances through the pain

“I knew something was going on, but I could not put my finger on it. But you know us women, we just know these things. And to be honest, I was too afraid to find out, though another part of me wanted to know. Now that I know, I don’t know which one is worse, guessing and imagining or knowing that he has someone else? I still can’t decide.”

The words were spoken quietly but her pain was tangible; she did not have to tell me that she was hurting.

“I can’t talk about it to anyone. I mean, I knew people know because we are always the last ones to know, but I prefer to operate like I didn’t know. I can talk to you because I don’t know if I would ever see you again and even if I did, you don’t know anyone close to me,” she said.

I met her in the line of my work and this was not the subject of our discussion, but I think she wanted to off load and as she said, some of us prefer to speak to strangers than to those close to us. I will not reveal her identify because like many women she is ashamed of her husband’s actions even though she has done nothing wrong and even though the relationship is no more.

They had been married for several years and had no children together. He had children before and during the marriage. According to her, she was faithful throughout their time together.

“Girl let me tell you, I does be shame because I know people talking. People like to say, ‘you ain’t do nothing wrong so what you shame for?’ But is not until you in it that you would understand. I never thought it would have happened to me; I guess we all think that way,” she said as she shook her head sadly.

“And how I found out? Is like this thing was on his mind. I don’t know but for days it was like was not the same and then one day he just told me; he cried and told me. I was in shock. I did not know what to do at that moment. I felt like my entire life was over.

“What hurt more was when he had a child with the woman; after all I had no children, so this was like pain. He promised me that the relationship was over but that he would support the child. I said maybe it is true because he didn’t have to tell me.

“But was I wrong! Is was like after this man told me a burden was lifted off of his shoulders and he continued with this woman. I begged, I cried but nothing the man just continue with the woman. He bought a house for her, after all she had a child for him and he wanted his child to live comfortable.”

I sat and listened as she spoke there was no need to say anything and somehow I knew she did not want me to speak, she was the only speaker during this part of our discussion.

“It got so bad that people start taking the woman for his wife because the two of them were everywhere together. He took me nowhere, I was just home and work. Sometimes he slept at her a few nights and I could not call him and ask him where he was because it would be a problem and so after a while I stopped,” at this point the tears started and I silently passed a tissue.

“But you know even though it was causing me so much pain I never one day pick up the phone and say I calling the woman; that was never me. And as for the child, I loved her. I got along with her. A lot of people thought I was crazy, but I loved the child and she loved me, she took every opportunity to come and see me…” as she spoke this she actually smiled through her tears.

“I know many people would not understand but that child was and still is lovely and while I hurt over the relationship her mother had with my husband I could not pass that pain onto the children,” she said.

I am not sure I understood but I said quietly to myself that she had a good heart and before she continued I actually told her this.

“No, it has nothing about a good heart. Girl I am no saint but this child did not do anything wrong and yes I could have just not treat her bad and not protest when my husband supported her and that would have been good enough. But I loved her and still love her. I don’t have children but I have a lot of nieces and nephews, so it was not a case that I did not have children around me. But the child is special,” she answered.

“But that did not help the pain I felt as my husband carried on with his woman. People would ask me why I was holding on after all it was not as I could not have supported myself and I did not have the excuse of saying I am staying for the children. So why was I staying?

“I can’t really tell you. Love? Maybe. I say maybe because sometimes I was not sure I loved him. How could you love someone who is causing you the most pain? Maybe I stayed for security? But what security? I can question it now but back then it never really mattered.

“Looking back, I think it was more of thinking that once I get marry it was not to divorce. After all he never hit me or anything, but girl as strange as it sounds the pain I felt was more than physical pain.

“I stayed and I cried, initially openly but after a while it was the silent pain because crying to him never made a difference. And when I cried he stayed out more, but I found when I cried silently and not around him he came home more often. I was grateful,” she said, the last part almost in disbelief at least that is how it sounded to me.

“In the end, the Lord took care of it. I say the Lord because I would have still been married to that man if it was left up to me. But God did his work, and while at times I look back and I regret a lot of things, I don’t regret staying with him. He was my one and only husband and I would never have another husband,” she said.

She did not say it, but I knew she meant her husband died and she later confirmed it.

“I cried when he died, you know. It was like my life was over and it took me a while before I could get up and move on and looking back, I still miss him. Some say that is crazy considering the pain he caused me. But I don’t understand it, I can’t explain it to anyone. I am still ashamed though and I don’t discuss it with anyone. I mean they would say I am stupid, even my family. But you understand, right?” she asked and expected an answer.

I told her yes but to be honest, I didn’t. But I felt she needed it.

It is not that I judged her, after all to each its own; none of us are made the same way. As we parted company, she asked that we remain in contact. I plan to, even if it is just to say a kind word now and then. She told me she has no friends, a statement I have heard from many other women, who no longer trust their own kind. I sometimes wonder why we are so unkind to each other. As I grow older, I try to be kinder to women, too many are hurting and just need an ear.


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