When I look back over the months that Husband spent having an affair, one thing that stands out to me is how mean he was. I have to stop here and tell you just what a kind man Husband can be. He’s the guy that always treated me so nicely that women would stop me to ask, “Does he have a brother?” I was aware that people who knew me well, who knew all my faults, wondered how I scored the perfect guy. And he played the part well.
The truth was that he wasn’t always that nice in private. Not that he would be overtly mean, but he would do a lot of agreeing with things I said then doing the exact opposite, or raising his standards for care of the home or dinner on the table just a little more so I could never quite please him. I was never quite good enough, and he knew (from all the adoring women who would tell him often how awesome he was) that he was pretty much the perfect guy, and we lived unequally, with him on a pedestal and me on the bare ground.
At the time, I believed it. I really thought that I had married this great guy that I didn’t deserve, and that I needed to be just a little better, just a little more, to deserve him.
Then came the change. He started to be more unkind at home. If I had a complaint about how little time or attention I was receiving, he would caustically reply that I was so demanding. I hate to think back on the specifics because it still hurts a bit. I remember that I walked into the bedroom once where he was using the computer and he yelled at me for never giving him any time alone. (Now I realize he was communicating with her and trying to make sure I didn’t catch him, but at the time it was pretty shocking.) There were other times, other bits of venom spewed at me that seemed to come out of nowhere, but there’s no reason to dig it all up. Just understand that he changed suddenly and drastically with no explanation.
I started to fall into a depression. Of course, this made me even less of the wife and homemaker that I felt I needed to be, which fed the depression, which spiraled downwards until I realized that I was in danger of doing something awful to myself. It was the last week before the revelation of the affair that I realized how much his behavior had contributed, and I even made up my mind to talk to our church leaders and ask for their help with his behavior toward me.
The revelation came before I could have that talk. I could now see a different perspective on why he had changed. He was trying to protect himself and his privacy so as not to be discovered. But as I’ve reflected on it, there was also something deeper.
In the Bible, in Genesis, Adam and Eve do the one thing which is not allowed: they eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Suddenly, they see their own nakedness and cover themselves and hide. God calls them out, Adam first, and he immediately points the finger away from himself. “It was that woman!” Eve hardly distinguishes herself next with “It was that serpent!” When we are faced with our own sin, the first thing we naturally do is find someone to blame. “Yeah, I did wrong, but LOOK OVER THERE!” Husband’s behavior to me was, in part, his deflection of his own guilt. Sure, I’m cheating, but see how my wife fails to meet my needs!
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about how he treats me. He’s acknowledged his need to look like a hero in front of other women (hence the difference in his public and private actions). As the way he sees himself changes—he’s not perfect—his view of me has changed. I’m worth so much more than he had ever seen. I think one of the reasons that we’ve been able to work through this affair is that we come together now as equals. He’s not perfect and I’m not inadequate—we’re flawed humans sorting out this mess together.