I Finally Told My Husband About My Affair. Here's What He Said
It certainly wasn't what I expected.
For my seventh wedding anniversary, my husband — always the joker — gave me a silver fork and a card that read, “Thank you for seven wonderful years. If you get the seven-year itch, please use this.”
I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that I was already three months into an affair with someone from work.
There wasn’t anything specifically wrong with our marriage. If anything, I was unsatisfied with myself. At almost 40 years old, I wasn’t where I imagined I’d be. I wasn’t working in a job I enjoyed, I wasn’t making enough money and I was about 15 pounds overweight. I didn’t even like the home we were living in. Nothing in my life gave me joy or satisfaction. I was regretting our choice not to have children, while at the same time experiencing zero desire to become a parent. I now realize that I was probably depressed or having a midlife crisis, but I never went to therapy or got any help. Instead, I found Robert, and a few times a week I would pretend to be someone else.
Robert and I would go out to dinner after work, traveling 30 minutes away from the city where I lived into a neighboring suburb to have dinner near Robert’s apartment. We would rotate among four different restaurants in town. After dinner, we would go to his place. We were taking a bit of a risk. It was possible that someone who knew my husband or me could be eating at the same place at the same time, but it was a small risk. I think that small risk made the whole endeavor even more exciting.
My husband is a restaurant manager who works late hours. I would always make it home before him, and I would always lie about how long I’d been waiting. I covered my tracks well, but it was a lot of work. I’d have to shower off the scent of another man and then dry out the bathroom or lie about going to the gym. I had to make it look like I made dinner for myself or fib about grabbing a bite on the way home. It took up a lot of bandwidth. I can’t imagine how much harder it would have been if we’d had “Find Your Friends” on our phones back then.
Eventually, I became exhausted from the effort and I broke things off with Robert. It was just too stressful and too much work, and I wasn’t willing to leave my husband. Honestly, even if I had wanted to get a divorce, Robert never wanted anything more from me than what he was already getting. He was a single guy. I was a sure thing. Dinner was guaranteed to lead to sex, and I was definitely not going to be pushing for a commitment. Even though I was pudgy and depressed, to Robert I was a catch.
After the breakup, the peace that had been restored to my home life was replaced with the stressful awkwardness of having to see Robert at work every day. What used to be exciting and naughty now felt uncomfortable and embarrassing. It got so bad that I started casually looking for other professional opportunities. That’s when my life turned upside down in all the right ways.
Today I am working at a job I love, making almost enough money and feeling proud of what I do. I am, at age 50, in the best shape of my life thanks to workout-obsessed friends I made at my new company. My husband and I sold our home and purchased a great little apartment with a fabulous view that I enjoy every morning. I am happy. And I think that’s part of the reason why, after 17 years of marriage, I have fallen back in love with my husband.
I am proud of who I am at 50, but I carry a lot of shame about who I was and the choices I made when I was 40. I’ve spent the past few years not allowing myself to fully enjoy all the wonderful parts of my life. Every time something good happens or I have a nice day, a little voice reminds me that I’m not really deserving because of what I did and the lie I’m still telling. I wondered for a while if it would be unfair of me to burden my husband with this information just to clear my own conscience, but when I would put myself in his shoes, I always decided that I would want to know the truth. I would want the person I love to be honest with me.
So for our 17th anniversary, I decided to tell my husband the truth. I held his hand and looked at the floor while I confessed to my affair from a decade ago. I told him I was ashamed and filled with regret but that I loved him too much to continue hiding the truth. I said I would understand if he wanted to take time off to think about this bombshell, but I begged him not to leave me.
He hugged me. As he held me close, I braced for his reaction. That’s when he whispered the words “I know” in my ear.
The restaurant industry is a small world. Managers know each other. My husband knew about all those dinners in that suburban town, and he was able to put the pieces together. He knew about my affair and never confronted me about it. He just stayed and waited for this day when I would ask for forgiveness and he would grant it.
And that was the real reason why, for my seventh wedding anniversary, my amazing husband gave me a silver fork. He was giving me an opportunity to come clean and a hint about what he knew. It took me 10 years to catch on, but I finally understand. I am one very lucky woman.