To the Woman who left it all Behind for the Wrong Man

As I moved through my own divorce and candidly shared my experiences online, women, many whom I still have never met, reached out to me to share their experiences, ask for my insight and guidance, and gather their strength. 

I have heard countless stories in the last several years but one scenario that always leaves me with a knot in my stomach is when a woman leaves so much of her life behind for a man, only to find out that what he promised her will never come to be. Maybe, if you’re reading this you know someone who left their spouse for someone else, maybe you have done this same thing. Keep reading and see …

I didn’t leave my spouse for anyone other than myself. So this is article is how I understand it, leaving one man for another, from the side of the audience.

It tends to go something like this:

There is a day, that starts like any other. Maybe it’s the kids go to school, maybe it’s a commute to work that’s longer than expected; a bill turns up late, a flat tire, a deadline changed, food in the fridge at home for dinner and none of it appeals to you, dishes in the sink. Life feels monotonous, it’s not what you thought it would be. You and your spouse of   7 -12 years (the average amount of time married in this scenario) pass each other going from the kitchen to the bathroom and politely “scooch” away from each other so as not to accidentally touch.  You go to sleep tired, in mismatched pajamas and don’t actually sleep, while your spouse stays awake with the remote in his hand downstairs. Neither of you can recall the last time you had sex.

This day repeats. For a week, two weeks, a few months, sometimes even years and then one night while you are in bed not sleeping and your spouse is downstairs you get a text. From “him”. The co-worker, the father of one of your kids friends, the friend of a friend, the guy on Facebook from high school, the “him” can be from anywhere, have any existing relationship with you from casual accidental meeting to old long-term high school boyfriend.

The text is harmless. “How are things, it’s been a while.” and before you know it someone is “listening to you”, someone is asking you questions about YOU, how you feel, what’s important to you, and over the course of one text conversation (or several) it happens — he makes you feel like you exist again. And then he asks you, “Why are you in bed with me texting? Where is your husband? If I was your man I wouldn’t let you be alone in bed for one minute.”

And now she is being both heard and desired again. There is an excited knot in her stomach. “ Is he hitting on me? Do I still have worth, as a woman? Does someone (anyone?) still find me attractive after the kids and the weight and wrinkles?” 

Downstairs her husband sleeps, or watches the game, unaware that his wife is having a reawakening above him; or maybe he is texting someone else too, we don’t know.

Here is where the stories really vary. Some women meet up with their texting paramours straight away and get physical while others tell me this flirting and friendship went on for years and even though they may have met him in person nothing physical happened for long periods of time. What is the same is that the texting becomes consistent. She is off to bed sooner than usual just so they can text and not long after he reached out to her, she begins to take the initiative and reaches out to him. And after a few weeks he is texting her “Good morning”. Never before in history has “Good morning” meant so much to a woman than since the dawn of texting.  It is, in all honesty, the most powerful two words a man can text to a woman in a vulnerable marriage.

Once “Good Morning” is reached he has become THE MAN that puts a smile on her face, first thing in the morning and he has also very clearly undermined her husband who, for whatever his own reasons (apathy, genuine contentment/unawareness, stress, etc) has done not too much more than mumbled “good morning” to her while he pees in the morning, or brushes his teeth, or is rushing out the door.

She is now going to sleep and waking up with another man. And it feels good.

Time goes on. She maintains the facade of the happy marriage. No one knows what is going on. If it’s already physical then it’s THE BEST SEX she has ever had in her adult life. It’s passionate, there is so much kissing, his body is better than the husbands (always) and he genuinely wants to touch and explore and kiss every single inch of her.  When she is with him she is more comfortable, you see she is not wondering if he is mentally comparing her “Now body” to her “Before body”. He wants her in this shape. And he wants her always.

She is on top of the world and in time (each timeline vastly different) she decides leaving the husband, the house, upsetting the kids, hurting her parents, losing friends, whatever the cost will be it is worth it because he loves her, she loves him, they are a couple and together they will weather the storm and be stronger for it.

So it all goes down. Messy, loud and hurtful. Boxes are packed. Kids are brought to court appointed therapists, guardian ad litem’s are needed, savings depleted on attorneys,decades of financial planning and security is slipping away, families choose sides and holidays are never the same.

You are free. It is done.Your  marriage is dissolved and you are now with him, the man who texted you “Good night beautiful” and “Good morning <3” for 9 months, the man who found the one small chink in the armor of your marriage.  He is yours now.

And then, about 7 months after the divorce, you learn he has a really low credit score and he needs you to co-sign for his car and that his own child support payments are late and can you please leave work early to pick up his sick kid. He absolutely does not want to ever get married again. You are living with him and all your kids now and he expects you do laundry and clean and help all the kids with homework and the last text he sent was asking you to tell your kids to be quiet during the game.

It’s not fun. You are not valued like you once were. You are lonely and burdened financially and your family has turned their back on you because of having an affair.

But what can you do? You gave up EVERYTHING for this man.  You turned your kid’s world upside down. You co-signed for that car so your credit is taking a hit and you have so much debt you need him as a roommate to help with the bills. Maybe he’s abusive, maybe he’s drinking too much, maybe he is cheating or maybe, just maybe, he’s exactly like your ex-husband and doesn’t notice a single thing about you anymore.

Now what? How do you dump this man and save face? How do you tell the world, “You know what? I threw it all away and you were all right, he was an asshole,” and still hold your head up?

Most women I speak with don’t do it. They stay. And that’s when my heart breaks. They go from one long, unfulfilling relationship straight into another because they are embarrassed to admit their mistake. But what they don’t see is that the mistake was not leaving their husband the mistake is not honoring the risk.

You see you were allowed to be lonely and to feel good when attention was given to you. And you were allowed to choose the risky road and change your family in search of happiness but what are not allowed to do is take your kids and family on that ride and not come out better for it.

Staying in that new, equally disappointing relationship, is not what you went through hell for. And while you’re likely tired and more vulnerable now than ever before NOW is the time to leave and begin valuing yourself by being on your own, especially if you have kids. 

Your family may give you an incredibly hard time. They will say, “you threw it all away and for what?” and you will say, “I threw it all away for ME and I just needed to remember that.”

The breakup with the man women leave their husband for seems to be harder in some ways than the actual divorce for most women. I hear of really confused finances, heavily intertwined children’s schedules, employment issues and the real fear that they will never ever find anyone ever again who will love them wholly, completely and in a healthy way.  I hear “He’s okay, I could do worse,” and I cry inside.  I am not saying it is an easy thing to do but I am saying it’s an okay thing to do and that it is worth it.  Don’t make the breakup of this boyfriend bigger and more difficult in your head than you did the dissolution of a marriage.

Remember why you did it: to enjoy, every day, being respected, valued, desired, pursued and loved. To enjoy YOU. 

You still deserve that. Even it means you leaving the man you left your husband for. Continue the journey. Take the next step, assume the risk and finally get your reward.

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