It’s a normal Friday night. Your husband has been away on a business trip for the last two weeks, and both you and your four-year-old are eagerly anticipating his arrival in a couple of days.
When he gets back you are going to prepare the baby’s room. It’s an exciting time. After multiple miscarriages, one at nearly halfway, you are 20 weeks along and have finally stopped feeling fearful about having another crippling loss. This was your last ditch effort. If this pregnancy resulted in miscarriage, you both agreed that there would be no more tries.
Feeling so grateful you have passed this stage you decide to get some sleep.
And you have a little secret. You have called a wedding planner to organise a huge vow-renewal ceremony on your 10th anniversary in 2014. It will be so fun.
You smile. Life is good.
One of the last things you do every night is plug-in the iPad to recharge; your daughter cannot go two seconds without it.
A message flashes up on the screen as you plug it in.
‘Come to my room’, it says.
Weird, you think. Nobody uses the iPad for messaging.
They say curiosity killed the cat.
Or in this case, a marriage and a family.
You open the message.
Perhaps if you’d just ignored it, like you wanted to, everything would’ve been different. Perhaps it’s better not to know.
As you read, you realise you are seeing the real-time messages from your husband to some American woman called Laura. The iPad must be liked with his iPhone somehow.
‘You have gorgeous eyes,’ she enthuses. ‘I’ve been thinking about you’ she adds.
‘Me too,’ your husband agrees readily.
You scroll through the multiple sentences. He’s leaving the next day; can they meet up before he goes? he wonders.
No firm plans are made, so you comfort yourself with the knowledge that there’s nothing irredeemable here. After all, he has never given you any reason to suspect he would cheat. He’s always been your rock, your foundation. And he knows the score. The consequences of cheating would be dire. You are prepared to forgive a lot, but not that. He has so much to lose.
Surely he has an explanation.
Of course, you can’t help but wonder what else is on this previously innocuous device.
There are a few more text conversations with other people, mostly work stuff.
Then you find it.
The conversation that alters your perception of everything and makes you realise you’ve been living a fool’s life.
The messages that make you feel like you have accidently crossed over into some nightmarish parallel dimension where men bereft of conscience readily do this to their pregnant wives.
‘Leave now,’ an equally anonymous, yet different, number urges. ‘Hurry.’
‘Almost there,’ your husband says. Then, an hour later, ‘You’re right. We can’t’.
‘Why did we then. Was it that bad for u?’ the number replies in text speak (she’s clearly intelligent and mature, the snide part of you notes).
‘I loved every second of it!’ he reassures. ‘Let’s talk tomorrow.’
YOUR husband says this. Not other people’s husbands—those other assholes that do that kind of thing to their naïve wives who never suspect anything. How stupid are they?
It’s a miracle that, in the moment your heart shatters, it doesn’t kill you.
It feels like you should die instantaneously.
And if you didn’t have a small child and another one still in your womb, you would he happy to.
You check the date and then your diary—your husband said he was working late that night, rationalised by the fact that he was going to leave early the following night so you could go out and celebrate your eighth wedding anniversary together.
The anniversary where he sat across and said nothing to you about what he’d done the night before. The dinner where he reassured you that he still loved you more than anything.
Explanations are demanded.
It was only a kiss, he justifies by phone from thousands of miles away. And he released it was massive mistake immediately. He didn’t tell you because he didn’t want to hurt you. It will never happen again, he says.
Except it nearly did, you point out—not even two weeks later, you were lining up another one. You didn’t ever care that you’d just cheated.
You realise in that moment you only saw two weeks of messages on that iPad. And in those two weeks, your husband has gone well outside the bounds of the marriage not once, but twice.
How many more have there been?
Who are you married to?
Then the awful realisation sets in. You are about to have no income and a newborn. No means of supporting two children on your own.
And your babies’ stable lives will be as broken as the marriage, condemned to a life of having a part-time father, at best. Or no father, like you had.
There’s hysteria. So many tears are unfamiliar and unwelcome. It feels like your chest is ripping apart.
Pain spikes cross your abdomen, and you panic for the baby. Your obstetrician prescribes Valium. So you can remain calm. Because that’s likely.
The baby’s ok, he reassures you.
A week later and your husband wants to come home. He wants to make it work. He loves you. He loves the children. He didn’t want to break up the family. He doesn’t know what he was thinking.
He wants forgiveness. He’ll do anything. What do you do?
The author is a Mamamia reader who has chosen to remain anonymous. This is happening now. She genuinely wants your advice about what to do next.
Has this every happened to you or someone you know? Do you have any advice for our writer?