THE MYTHING LINK
Six months ago, my husband of two years had a one-night stand with a coworker. He confessed a month later, saying he took time to get perspective rather than telling me immediately out of guilt. We hadn't been getting along great then (money problems, etc.), but now, after much work, our relationship is strong again, and we're both very happy. I truly believe he'll never cheat again. This weekend, his company is having a (non-mandatory) gathering. I was friendly with this woman before, but this would be my first time seeing her since. My husband and I have a conflicting invitation to the beach, but I'm worried I'll look weak if I'm a no-show at his office. Nobody there knows anything, and I was too ashamed to tell anyone, so it's not about proving anything to the masses. If we do go to his work thing, how should I act?
-Still His Wife
Are you a better person if you can say, "More tea, dear?" without sounding like you really mean, "Try it again, you hussy, and I'll tear your liver out and feed it to the pigeons!"?
Perhaps it's a bit soon to slap on a Tweety Bird Band-Aid where it hurts and trot off to face the husband mauler. Yes, but you might "look weak" if you don't show. According to you, the company has yet to put out a memo announcing your husband's fling. In other words, you're worried that you might look weak to HER. And, maybe you would - maybe, because you feel weak, and aren't so sure your relationship is fine and dandy again. If so, why not just admit it instead of marching off to some dull work event and pretending to be chipper about cheating?
What's especially unhealthy is blaming the victim. But, even you're doing it: "I was too ashamed to tell anyone …" - as if he fell into the arms of the office floozy because you mentioned the gas bill was due. In The Monogamy Myth, Peggy Vaughan contends society misrepresents monogamy as "natural" and "the norm" (despite the hordes of people running around cheating), so couples believe it comes easy, and feel no need to tax any brain cells contemplating ways to maintain it.
The poorly designed honeymoon, which ends 50 to 70 years too soon, doesn't help matters either. Yes, after only a week or so, when you have to check out of the room with the heart-shaped bed to go clean your toilet and rack up credit-card debt, the reality sets in: Oh no … amid all the furor at the altar, you forgot to read the fine print! How, exactly, are you supposed to follow through on all those tricky little vows without wringing each other's neck - or amending "to have and to hold" with "except on days when I'm doing my coworker on my desk"?
What you don't do is sit around waiting for the marriage fairy tale to play out as advertised. Nobody's going to go a lifetime without being attracted to somebody besides their spouse. Continue to acknowledge that, and all the other tough stuff along the marital way, and this might be the last time you agonize over a romantic day at the beach versus balancing a drink on a supply closet door while pretending to be SuperWife (with Teflon)! The beach is actually the perfect place for the task at hand: focusing on what you and your husband have, not on what he had with her. In time, you should trust him to remember his commitments - even late at night, when opportunity knocks on his office door, wearing something scanty and twirling a motel key.
Last week, my good friend canceled our dinner plans when a guy who stood her up before asked her out. When I said I was hurt, she said she hadn't done it intentionally. I feel our friendship always comes second to any guy, despite my being there whenever she needs a shoulder to cry on - like last year, when this guy didn't show. Am I wrong to think she should've honored our dinner arrangement?
You can call her your "good friend," but she treats you like something else: a great way to block the draft when she doesn't have a boyfriend. Maybe she doesn't do this intentionally, maybe because she's possessed by a demon who makes her say stuff like "Sorry, sucka, gotta better offer" whenever you're around. The real problem is your own demon, who apparently finds it amusing to keep sending you back to have your "good friend" refresh the tread marks she ground into you the last time. Are you wrong to think she should have honored your dinner arrangement? Well, no … just as you wouldn't be wrong to think they should've let your cat audition for the lead in the remake of Lassie.