I inhaled sharply as I listened to the words tumbling out of my husband’s mouth. “I love you, but I’m not in love with you anymore,” he said.
He continued, “I don’t know what being in love feels like, I don’t know if I was ever really in love with you. I need some time to figure it out.”
My body turned to ice; my thoughts were suspended in disbelief. Then, anger pulsed through my veins, flushing my cheeks, and I had to fight the urge to flee.
I took a deep breath, stuffed my emotions down; I was determined not to cry.
I wanted to scream at him to take all the time he needed because I deserved a man who knew he wanted me, a man who really loved me.
Instead, I redirected my focus and asked him all the questions I could muster without dissolving into a sobbing mess. How long had he felt that way? Was there someone else? What did this mean for our marriage? What did he want to do now?
It hurt to listen to his answers. Nothing was adding up.
Maybe I was delusional from the shock but I clung to his every word, hoping one — just one —would be laced with the allure of hope. And there it was.
He said he didn’t want to give up on our loveless marriage.
But he couldn’t tell me why.
That goaded the nagging voice in my head. Something was missing.
I tried to put myself in his shoes. I could tell how much he was struggling. I saw the anguish in his eyes. I also knew he wasn’t ready to talk to me about what was really brewing. I could tell his initial profession of lost love was just foreshadowing.
I was inexplicitly torn. Repulsed by the sight of him, yet at the same time, I wanted him to pull me into his arms and tell me everything was going to be ok.
More than anything, I needed to know that I was going to be alright without him, so my instinct was to push him away. I had to protect myself from the fallout that could come, the possibility that his next disclosure could be, “I want a divorce.” I also needed time to carefully consider what I needed.
So I asked him to leave, to move out of our house while he worked out his feelings, and give me the space I needed to tend to my broken heart.
What he did next disturbed me.
He refused to leave. He listed off practical reasons, like the fact that both of our names were on the mortgage agreement and we had a child together.
His nonchalance was unnerving. He wanted to remain in a loveless marriage. What a proposal.
There was no mask large enough to cover my self-pity in the moments directly following his revelation. How dare he suggest sleeping in the guest room, showing up for family dinners, all the while buying himself time to figure out what he was going to do with his life, our lives.
I knew there was another woman involved. Isn’t there always? Why does it take cheaters so long to tell the truth?
I tossed my wedding ring on the kitchen table and told him to hock it for his rent if he needed to, but he must leave. I could not contain my hurt and anger with him sleeping under the same roof while I waited for him to admit what was really going on.
I also worried I might smother him with a pillow in his sleep, or accidentally slip arsenic into his morning coffee.
Nothing could have prepared me for the conversation when my husband told me he was actually having an affair. Everything shifted from me playing detective and making (not so) wild accusations to feeling like all my defenses fell down because he had finally admitted to infidelity.
It didn’t matter that I “knew,” because I really didn’t know until the words came directly from him his mouth, weeks later.
In the end, he finally did leave but it didn’t get any easier between us. He didn’t understand why I needed him to give me space and he resented me for it. I think he was in denial because he was still sleeping with the other woman every night at his new place, pretending like he wasn’t doing anything wrong, that I had backed him into a corner and left him no choice.
I still don’t know which is worse, waiting with the foreboding fear of what was to come, or the confirmation that he was actually with another woman, because there was no going back now.
He had a relationship with a woman who wasn’t me.
He loved another woman.
He was in love with another woman.
And now he had to figure out what he was going to do, but the hope I had felt for “us” in the beginning faded to black and was out like a light. There was no more us.
I never thought this would happen to me. How cliché.
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