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I Had No Choice But to Have an Affair

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OK -- so I touched a nerve!

woman tearing wedding picture

Wife #2: It's hard to resist the urge to respond to the dozens of comments posted about my story "Don't Call Me a Husband Stealer." I can't possibly address all of the nasty things said (some of them were quite creative by the way) so I'm just going to talk about a common theme: selfishness.

A lot of you accused me of being horribly, disgustingly selfish. And I was selfish. But I had no choice.

Let's look at what would have happened had I stayed in my marriage:

I would have been miserable, dying a bit each day because I had walked away from the man I was meant to be with. My husband would have looked at me each day, knowing I was only there to preserve the illusion of stability for our children. And our children would have grown up with a loveless, angry marriage as a relationship role model.

If I told you what my marriage was like for the last several years before I left, you'd probably cut me some slack. I lived with a bully who made sport of disparaging me in front of others. But that's as much as I'll say because it's still not his fault. How good or bad my marriage was is almost irrelevant. I met my soulmate. Even if my marriage had been better, I would have left it for him.

As for the exes, who in their right mind would want to stay married to someone who no longer loved them? That's what both of our spouses would have lived with and that's no life.

Some of you think we should have stayed for the children, at all costs. What would we teach our kids by doing that? Living a lie is acceptable. Love is not paramount. Follow convention like sheep -- because guess what kids -- that's what you're supposed to do!

Life is not made up of black and white decisions. What you seem to be saying is staying in lousy marriages makes us perfect parents, leaving those marriages makes us ax murderers. Our children know we love them. And they'll learn that we did our best as parents, but we're flawed like the rest of the human race.

I'll tell you this: if my child came to me as an adult in a situation similar to ours, I wouldn't judge. I'd support her decision to be true to herself. I certainly wouldn't tell her to suck it up and be miserable. I wouldn't want her to be flip or frivolous. But I'd be sure she heard this loud and clear: Choose happiness.

To those of who you charged me with middle school behavior -- running off with the first boy who talked to me in the lunch line -- grow up. That may be your experience, but it's not mine. I've had more opportunities over the years than I can count -- with rich men, powerful men, beautiful men. None of it tempted me for a moment, even in a cratering marriage. This wasn't some cute guy in Bennigan's tapping me on the shoulder and sending me into orbit. This was the love of my life.

I don't expect forgiveness or even understanding. But what I'm stunned at in the community I live in and in this digital community is the intolerance. Divorce may never be a popular choice, but it's still my choice to make.

And here's the last thing I'll say. I think a lot of you are just scared. Scared it will happen to you and scared it won't. Scared that if once-in-a-lifetime knocks at the door, you won't be brave enough to answer.

next: Who's Your Birth Daddy? Charles Manson!
98 comments so far | Post a comment now
chris November 23, 2009, 1:02 PM

Wow, you’re still so full of yourself. You may not of had a choice about staying in your marriage but you certainly had a choice to have an affair. You’re right, we don’t know your husband but we can tell a lot about you through your posting and I still think you were wrong in the way you handled it. If you are completely unhappy in your marriage then yes walk away but don’t cheat and lie to your husband and with a man who is also married to someone your claim is a friend (I would hate to NOT be a friend of yours) You are not a good role model to your children. As a parent, you should teach your children to make good decisions by doing the “right thing”. If your children wanted an ipod and her best friend had one, would it okay for her to just take it because it would bring her happiness? NO! No one is expecting you or anyone else to go through life sad and miserable but there are right and wrong ways to do things and you did it the wrong way.

Jill November 23, 2009, 1:13 PM

If you don’t want to be judged, then don’t have a blog.

Kristin November 23, 2009, 1:33 PM

You did what you have to do, anyone in your situation with a brain would have done the same.

I left my ex and got with my OH 2 days later. Some people hurl the same crap at me. Just ignore them—you knew what you had to do and you did it…and you’re happy! Much better environment for everyone.

JamericanSpice November 23, 2009, 1:45 PM

This is quite interesting

Cheree November 23, 2009, 1:59 PM

Yes, you did have a choice. You had many choices. First, who you married and had (and continued) to have children with. And then staying with that marriage (or not) due to the best interest for you and your children.

Then you had the choice to display character and take care of your marriage/leave your marriage BEFORE having an affair (and having him to the same.) Instead, you showed your lack of character by having an affair without the honor of first ending or working on your marriage (or having him do the same.) And now you want people to say it’s okay just because this is your “soulmate.” It’s not that two marriages were ended to start your current relationship, that is, sadly, common enough, but it’s how you went about it, and the attitude that it’s okay cuz it is “love” that makes it such a horrid act.

Rachel November 23, 2009, 2:12 PM

So, we’re supposed to think you’re “enlightened” or something? No thanks. Sounds like a bunch of self-pity to me.

Will this writer beat the odds? November 23, 2009, 2:22 PM

Seriously, if you don’t want to be judged then don’t blog about your life. I understand wanting to be happy but it sounds like you weren’t brave enough to leave your husband until you had somebody else to support you. Hence, your comment that your husband bullied you for several years. Maybe this man is your soul mate, but both of you handled the situation extremely poor! Since, you feel the need to blog about this, I’m interested to see if you’ll be one of the lucky few that doesn’t end up a statistic or if you’ll be just another number considering the fact that the divorce rate among those who married their lovers was 75 percent. hmmmmm…..interesting… Please keep us posted.

Lucy November 23, 2009, 2:30 PM

I think I was one of the few people who understood your situation in your first blog. And I still do. I understand both points of view. There’s a huge part of me that wants to say that the only way to have a successful marriage is to stick with it, no matter what…even if you no longer feel the same way as you did in those early romantic days…that if you stick with it and work at it, those feelings can come back. But there’s also a part of me that understands your situation. I have been increasingly unhappy in my marriage for the last 5 years. I had begged and pleaded with my husband to go to counseling, read relationship self help books with me, go to our minister, or even just occasional dates, to no avail. He refused me physical intimacy in every way for the vast majority of our marriage, refuses to help with our 3 children (one of whom has special needs), and now I have found myself reaching out to my first and only true love. I am having an affair. And believe me, I would have NEVER thought it possible to find myself in this situation a year ago. But there’s only so much that a human can take before she breaks. And I’ve broken.
At the same time, I cannot leave my marriage for many reasons. One of the main reasons is his battle with depression and bi-polar disorder. I have no doubt that if I leave him, he will hurt himself or worse. So I am stuck. And I am staying with him in part because of my children and their love for their father. I don’t want them to lose him. So I have decided to selfishly grab happiness when and where I can…although temporary and fleeting…it’s the best that I can do.
Now, out of the two of us….who is the most selfish and despicable? Her for being brave enough to be truthful and leave? Or me…for having an affair with no intention of leaving my husband even though I am in live with another man?

Black Iris November 23, 2009, 2:55 PM

So the first time round, you married your husband for his cash? If you married him for love, how can you believe that now you’ve found your soul mate? Love is something you have to do, not just a feeling.

And what does it mean to tell your daughter, you should go for what makes you happy, like me. I decided to go for what makes me happy, even though I made you unhappy.

Simply Understands November 23, 2009, 3:09 PM

You go girl! My (now) husband was married when I met him. I was the other woman for awhile. His marriage was also falling apart. I was seriously dating someone, but felt like I could do better. We met by pure chance, and we knew. We knew that we would spend the rest of our lives together, and love no other. I broke up with my boyfriend, and he divorced his wife. We are happily married, and awaiting our first child. We took a leap of faith together, and would never go back to what we had before.

To Black Iris November 23, 2009, 3:54 PM

If you really belive that “Love is something you have to do, not just a feeling” then you don’t know what love is.. Love is not a way you behave, it’s not something you “DO”. I just hope you one day really truly FEEL it.. and leave your loveless relationship.

Roxana November 23, 2009, 4:56 PM

Why are you “stunned” by the lack of support? Um, I’m not buying any of your rationalizations and delusions. You just dug a deeper hole by posting this. Are you doing this because you have a need to convince yourself that your actions were justified? If your first marriage was “bad” why didn’t you end it before moving on to the next guy? From what I’ve read, I think it’s because you lack integrity.

Robyn November 23, 2009, 5:43 PM

I so agree with Chris and the first comment. No one says you should stay in a miserable marriage forever, but the way you handled the situation was less than admirable. End the first relationship before you started the second and I believe your audience would have been more sympathetic. And yes, if you don’t want criticism, don’t blog. Simple as that.

Angela November 23, 2009, 5:54 PM

I’m not one to say that divorce is never justified and only you can know how bad your marriage was and whether you really did everything you could to save it. But you do seem to gloss over what you’ve done to your children by thinking that you can make this up to them someday when you really can’t. Their lives will never be the same and they will never get back what they’ve lost. Maybe it was just how you portrayed yourself, but you don’t come across as overly concerned about this. The message I got from your story was “My own personal happiness is worth sacrificing everything else including my kids.” And that’s just not cool.

Pamala November 23, 2009, 6:10 PM

Wow is all I have to say. To convince yourself that the only option was to cheat on your husband with another man and that man cheat on his wife was okay, well that just shows something of your morals.

Hope no one ever decides that it’s okay to do that with your current husband. Believe me it’s easy to think like you do, until you’re living it and you’re the one left destroyed by his actions.

Like it or not, cheating is wrong. Have a bad marriage? Get a darn divorce and then get together with him. True love will wait until the situation is right.

You fail to recognize the hell you’ve put your children through. It’s sad you don’t recognize it at all.

Go ahead believe you were right, and had no choice. If that makes you feel better so be it. But you’re not innocent and you certainly didn’t take any of your vows seriously in your first marriage, I’m not sure why your current husband could trust you at all.

Anonymous November 23, 2009, 6:12 PM

Alice jumped down the rabbit hole and the delusion began to unfold. And she seems to be still stuck there!

Ben Hobbs November 23, 2009, 6:15 PM

Wow…Okay for one there is no soulmate. Love at first sight occurs when you know what you think you want in a man, and see someone who you think fits that perfectly. You left a cratering marriage. If he was truly horrible and abusive, that was a good thing. If it was mildly humiliating, just tell him,and get the thing fixed. Don’t hit hte reset button and steal someone elses husband. All in all, in my current view of you, you’re a selfish arrogant man-stealing horror of all the earth.

I feel bad for the man whos marriage you selfhsihly destroyed for your infatuation.

Understanding November 23, 2009, 6:53 PM

I agree with you 150%
I do not believe we should suffer in an awful situation with someone we do not love just because we have children with them. Our children see when we are happy and when we are sad, and if it took leaving your husband for another man to make you happy, then you made the best decision for your children, for yourself, and for all of your lifes.

Jewel November 24, 2009, 2:58 AM

Please look up narcissist in the dictionary, then RUN and get counseling. That’s the only support you’ll get from me.

Cyn November 24, 2009, 4:29 AM

With headlines as provocative as the ones on these two articles, what do you expect? Whether you chose them or the editors did, you’d have to be incredibly naive to think they wouldn’t affect the way people frame the two pieces.

I agree with you that nobody can “steal” another person in relationships. However, in the unhealthy serial monogamy paradigm, I’m sure you can see how people perceive your and your current husband’s actions as transgressive.

I find the claim that you had “no choice but to have an affair” highly offensive. We all have choices, and you made yours. You could have, and apparently should have, left your previous marriage long before you did. Doing so would have modeled much more responsible behavior for your children, taking responsibility for your own health and well-being rather than waiting for another man to come along and “jumping ship” to him. You would have been far more likely to arrange an amicable divorce, which would have been much healthier for everyone concerned, especially the children.

Now your children are more likely to suffer from “greener grass syndrome,” always thinking that the next partner offers something better, going from one relationship to the next instead of working out the problems in their current partnership.

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