He would never admit that he was wrong. If, by chance, he decided to admit that he was wrong, he would blame me for his behavior.
That is how it had been throughout our relationship. I wouldn’t have done that if you hadn’t … Now, don’t get me wrong, I gave him some good material to work with, but, it was exhausting and debilitating having to take the blame for not only my actions but his too. Despite the historical pattern, I naively hoped for a different outcome this time and had told myself if he would 1) just be honest, and 2) not give me the “I did it because you” speech, I would stay.
On the day that I confronted him, he came to my office and hung out for the town Christmas Parade.
Surrounded by family and friends, I kept a smile on my face and carried along with business, as usual, all the while watching him. To look at him, one would have never guessed that he was meeting and talking to another woman as often as his life as a father and husband, permitted. I guess I was not the only one in our family who had mastered the art of wearing a mask!
As the evening wound down, we found ourselves alone, upstairs in my office. Unable to hold it in any longer, I confronted him.
I honestly don’t remember the words that I spoke, but I do vividly remember the rush of anger and pain that erupted from within as I began telling him that I knew. Staring into his eyes as I spoke, I could see him trying to process at lightning speed as he tried to figure out what I knew and didn’t know. Knowing that I knew something, he could not outright deny this one like he had done the others. However, the words that came from his mouth, when he mustered up the nerve to speak, nearly floored me, “Honey, I made it very clear to her that I was not looking for a relationship. I just wanted someone to talk to because I was so fearful that you were leaving me. And I had no one else to talk to because my family and friends were tired of listening to me. SHE GAVE ME HOPE FOR US.”
WTF? Was he serious? Yes, of course, he was. Lie to the end. That had been his mantra throughout our relationship.
Still not knowing how much I knew, he continued to process and simply repeat, amongst other things, that he was not looking for a relationship, and he had made that clear to her.
Certainly not offering to call “Ms. Hopeful” in my presence, after escaping from my tirade, my husband jumped in his truck and immediately dialed her number. Not realizing that my friend was sitting right there with “Ms. Hopeful” as he started talking, he proceeded to tell her that I knew about her and began to devise operation “cover our asses”.
By the time we both drove up in our driveway, an hour later, he had managed to contain her enough to…get this… volunteer to call her in my presence so that she could confirm that it was nothing going on between them. I laughed as he offered this opportunity, knowing that he had no clue that I knew he had practically talked to her all the way home.
I guess I couldn’t blame anyone but myself for this ridiculous story. After all, I had accepted every other ridiculous story he spun in the past.
- After his phone records showed that he was calling one of his exes as soon as he left our house, and, talking late into the night while he was away on business, his story was, he was only trying to help her “find a job” with his company and he did not see anything wrong with being helpful. In fact, to this day he maintains “the helpful” story despite the fact that the woman confirmed that their conversations were definitely not centered around her “job security”.
- When he told me on another occasion that he was going to stay at his mom’s because he just wasn’t ready to return home, he later gave me a story about deciding to stay with his cousin at the last minute because he just didn’t want to have to talk about what was wrong with us. This explanation only came, of course, after he learned that I knew he wasn’t at his mother’s house.
- When he butt dialed me as he was buying rounds of drinks for a group of young girls in the bar, he told me I did not understand the executive culture, and it was common for executives to buy drinks for women.
Finally, realizing he would ALWAYS be armed with an excuse for his inappropriate behavior, I sunk into a state of acceptance.
Accepting that I was in a relationship with a man that would cheat and never afford me the peace of admitting that his behavior was wrong and painful to endure.
Was this what commitment and marriage was supposed to be like?
Yes, in my case, it was. And the longer I stayed, the more ammunition I gave him because my detachment, in order to preserve my sanity, made him feel more justified in seeking attention from other women.
Although I am still trying to figure out all of the lessons to be learned, here are a few lessons that are crystal clear to me now:
- Lesson 1: Sometimes the only way to break the cycle is to leave.
- Lesson 2: Trust your instinct.
- Lesson 3: It is not enough to ask a potential mate if they believe in commitment. Find out what commitment truly means to that person. While it seems pretty self- explanatory, you might just be surprised at the explanation you get.