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My Husband Cheated. What I Did Next Was Worse

Ultimately, it destroyed our marriage.

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illustration of woman lighting up her wedding ring, divorce, husband cheated
Andrea D'Aquino
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I’ll never forget when he told me; it was a Sunday night in October. Our kids were in bed, and I was sitting in my usual spot as we watched television. Then, what seemed an occurrence out of nowhere, my husband of 11 years sat next to me sobbing. He was saying things like, “I don’t know how it happened.” “I didn’t mean for it to get this far.” And: “I’m so sorry. I’ve been sick about it and just had to tell you.”

He was trying to tell me he’d been having an affair with a woman he worked with for the past month. For about 15 minutes, he talked through his sobs as I tried to make sense of it all. Then, the past few months hit me like a truck, and I finally understood.

We’d been distant and hadn’t had sex for over six months. I had no interest, and after I’d denied him for a long time he’d given up. He’d been crabby and irritable too. He stopped calling me during the day to see how I was doing. He was going out with friends more and working longer hours (or so I thought) and I was happy to have him out of the house more because he was one less person I had to please.

After digesting everything he’d said, I knew deep down that we’d been crumbling for years, and I didn’t want to face it, nor did I feel like I had the energy to repair our marriage myself. But it was a wake-up call for both of us. He told me it was just sex, and he didn’t love her. He wasn’t about to leave me or the kids, and he wanted to get back on track because the way he’d been — acting, lying, sneaking around and having sex with someone who wasn’t his wife — scared him.

I agreed to work on things. I didn’t want my marriage to be over, and the thought of divorce made me physically sick. This was not in my life plan, and I had to take responsibility for the part I had in this because, while I didn’t go out and have sex with someone outside of my marriage, I’d made it clear that I didn’t desire him or want to be intimate.

I told him I needed certain things from him. I wanted to be seen and treated like more than someone he lived with who took care of his children. I didn’t just want intimacy. I also wanted connection and validation. We tried before falling back into our old patterns: I didn’t feel appreciated so being intimate wasn’t something I could do. The lack of sex was driving him crazy, and I’d stand on my soapbox and tell him he should be able to handle it because I would “never” step out on our marriage.

Until I did something that took us down more than his physical affair did.

An old high school boyfriend reached out to me via Facebook. When I first saw his name flash on my phone and a message that said something about how good I looked, I rolled my eyes. I didn’t respond to him for a few hours and as I tried to keep myself busy that day all I could think about was this man and the connection we’d had when we were 16.

So, I messaged him back not thinking that the thing that was about to happen between us would be the end of my marriage. We began messaging each other constantly. It lasted for months, and I told him about the problems I was having in my marriage. Instead of working on what was going on inside my four walls, I was reaching out to this person in secret, hiding it from everyone I knew. I was spending time with him in my mind, and I couldn’t stop imagining what life would be like with him.

Although we never met in person (he suggested it and I said no) and I prided myself in that, I knew what I was doing was worse than what my husband did.

For him, it was just sex. It was a release and he claimed he wasn’t attached to the other woman at all, and I believed him. But I was attached. I was falling for him again and the more I did, the less I wanted to be married to my husband.

I never told him what was going on and I had no plan. I was living with a man I wasn’t in love with any longer and my heart belonged to another. I wasn’t myself at all and not only did I not want to have sex with my husband, but I also didn’t want to talk or confide in him either, which was something I’d always done, even after his affair.

He ended up finding our emails and reading a few of them. He said he didn’t have to read much to see the writing on the wall. I yelled at him and said, “At least I didn’t do what you did!” But I felt in my gut what I had done was worse.

We’ve been divorced for a long time and were both incredibly wrong, young and immature in what we did, and I’ve learned and grown so much since this happened almost a decade ago.

My husband had had sex with someone else to stay in our marriage. And I was reaching for someone else as a way to get away from him. And I never told him. He had to find out on his own.

I was kidding myself each time I sat down to talk to this man from my past, telling myself since I wasn’t having a physical affair, I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

But in the end, my emotional affair ended up doing more damage than my husband’s physical affair.

Do you think an emotional affair can be worse than a physical one? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Relationships