What if you are grieving for your just departed husband and you decided to go through his clothing, bawling your eyes out. “Oh, my darling. Why did you leave me?” you cry out pitifully. “What will I do without you?” You are sitting on the bed that you shared with him for thirty years, boxes in front of you as you slowly remove his favorite black shirt that he liked to wear on dress-down Friday, the night he always stayed late at the office. You hold it against your face, tears making wet marks on the cloth. You inhale the fragrance. Wait! That doesn’t smell like the lemony detergent you always use nor does it doesn’t smell like your perfume. It is a tinge of a sweet, unfamiliar scent.
You snap up his cell phone, and try a couple of familiar passwords. Lo and behold you are in. Texts. Hmmm, there’s a woman’s name with numerous texts. You go into those. “Darling, When will you be here? I’m wearing the teddy you love. Hurry.” The other messages also ring out affair, affair, affair.. How did you not see this? A wife is supposed to know if her husband is having an affair. Why did you block it out? Yes, there were red flags, but you disbelieved those signs. He swore loyalty to you. You stomp on that shirt and curse him. Can you divorce the memory? You lived happily for years. Do you now grieve for the fraudulent relationship or the man you were married to?
No, this didn’t happen to me, but I address these issues in my book The Cha-Cha Babes of Pelican Way. In actuality, I know women who have had cheating conflicts after the death of a spouse and some with those spouses still alive and kicking. In fact, a woman showed me an email receipt she’d found in her husband’s computer. It was for a luxurious apartment her husband had leased that she didn’t know about. The lease had a woman’s name on it as the second leasee, but she never heard of her. He was alive and she had decided to pretend she’d never seen it and just go on as before. Can one do that? Was he manipulatively careless, leaving it so she could find it? I didn’t try to talk her out of her decision to make the elephant in the room invisible, but I question whether that is an obtainable feat.
I’m not sure which way is right or wrong. When you discover cheating, do you confront your spouse/partner? Do you let it pass and pretend you don’t know? The real issue is, I think, doing nothing does color every interaction you have together. Even bringing it out in the open and a making a decision to mend the marriage, is it possible to make the long shadow of adultery go away? Does the pain lessen? I wonder as I see older couples bickering, or a woman being mean to her Mr. “Nice” husband. Is she getting revenge for his earlier cheating and giving it to him knowing he won’t divorce her at this advanced stage of life? Everyone has to make his or her own contract and try their best to live with that decision as best they can. I can say, if I faced that issue, out he goes. But one doesn’t know what they will do until they are enmeshed in it.