She seemed confident as she spoke, “I wouldn’t want to know because… well, I’d have to forgive him. We’ve been together for such a long time and I can’t imagine not being with him. He’s all I’ve ever known…”
That’s what my friend Claire said last Saturday night. We were over at our other girlfriend Sarah’s new place. Claire and I had helped her unpack and get organized. We then stayed for pizza, wine, and a chat.
We weren’t too far into the conversation when the topic of infidelity came up. Turns out Sarah’s friend from work was struggling with a moral dilemma. She’d heard, through a reliable source, that one of her good friends had an unfaithful husband who was having an ongoing affair with a younger woman from his office. Sarah’s friend didn’t know if she should break the news to her or not…
Claire, Sarah and I discussed the pros and cons of choosing to get involved. There were more cons than pros. We pondered if it was her place to say anything. And, after much deliberation, we all agreed that it wasn’t. We felt that unless it was a family member or a very close friend, it just wasn’t her business. Because, simply, sometimes the truth just isn’t ours to tell.
We talked more about cheating and what we would do if it ever happened to us. Did we want to know? Would we leave? Would we try to work it out? Sarah and I agreed that our actions would depend on the circumstances. Claire was adamant that she would rather not know if Colin ever cheated on her. She could never see herself leaving him.
And now, my stomach is in knots as I hang up the phone. I swallow hard as it sinks in. Claire’s husband is a liar. He is a cheat. He is an asshole who, last night at a bar, tried to push himself on a friend of Sarah’s. The friend knew he was married. She knew that Sarah was friends with his wife. Which is why she called today, to tell her what had happened. Sarah called me and I… well, the truth would stop here and now.
My friend’s husband betrayed her last night and she will never know about it.
Colin had kissed another woman. She’d refused to go any further. He had begged her to leave with him. She described him to Sarah as “desperate.” But, desperation rarely woos a woman and he wasn’t able to sway her. Instead, he accepted that nothing was going to happen and he left, defeated.
I have to admit, I didn’t see this one coming. Not with Colin. He loves Claire. Well, I thought he did.
How could he betray her like this? And in such a public place? It all seems so cocky. So careless. So… not the actions of a first time cheater.
I’m angry and I’m disgusted.
I feel hurt for my friend. The words loom, uncomfortably: He was desperate.
And for a moment I try to see this through his eyes. I try to imagine why he would do this.
I know that when it comes to sex, Claire constantly turns him away. Months go by without any sexual intimacy between them. He tries and she rejects him. She’s tired; we all are. Motherhood does that. She gives the best to the kids and he gets what’s left. We all do that too, sometimes. But, is it possible that she has turned him away too many times, for too many years? Has he given up on her? Has he quit trying to convince his wife to sleep with him?
High school sweethearts, they were each others’ first everything. And, as I recall her words: “He is all I’ve ever known,” I can’t help but wish that she had the strength to see that there are other people out there worth knowing.
But, I can see the mistakes that they are both making. It’s pretty easy to do when it isn’t your own life, right?
There’s nothing I can do about it. And, there’s nothing I can say because this isn’t my truth to tell.