It happened last Friday, the day I’d been dreading for a while, but somehow hoping it would never come. My divorce decree arrived and with it the return of my title of Miss. Miss Ashton, single mother of two.
Now as much as I know this was the only possible outcome, it still hurts to the very core of my being. You’ve failed Miss Ashton, and here is the certificate to prove it. “When is the divorce party?” I was asked by a wonderfully insightful lady who has been divorced over forty years.
I treasure this woman’s advice, she fled domestic abuse to raise and family on her own and is now reaping the rewards of great-grandchildren, but a party? To celebrate my failure? The breakup of a family? I just can’t comprehend the flippancy of a society where such things are encouraged. This is the man I loved and here we are at the end and no one is better off. And the worst part? It’s all my fault.
I could have forgiven him. Of course it hurts to be the victim of infidelity, there’s no denying that.
But it is nothing compared to the soul-crushing feeling of despair as you look into the eyes of your children knowing that they don’t have the life they deserve. A stable life with both parents putting in their all to achieve the best possible outcomes for their children. And why? Because their mother was too stubborn to forgive, too pig-headed to listen to the pleas for forgiveness through his sobs.
Too obstinate that I must punish him, myself and our children for a mistake he made at the height of a stressful period. As I have shared my story of betrayal with the world and his dog, I have opened my vulnerable heart and in turn people tell me similar stories of their heartache and I am forever saddened by the ones who pulled through, knowing that could have been me.
There is the story of the husband who embarked on a six-month affair with his brother’s girlfriend. Both couples would dine together every Wednesday after watching their sons play footy, the affair took place under the noses of their unknowing partners. After the affair was dramatically exposed, the couple sought counselling, eventually reconciling, and are now enjoying the family life once more, sharing the highs and lows of child rearing together.
Listen: Relationship psychotherapist Esther Perel explains why people cheat. (Post continues...)
There is the couple now in their sixties enjoying their empty nest together, no one remembering the ugly time thirty years ago when he left the wife for his 19-year-old secretary. Their family has grown, they are expecting their first grandchild and are so so happy together, his infidelity being just a blip on an otherwise happy marriage.
People can get past infidelity, I should have too.
A friend travelled with me on this journey at the same time, only she chose a different path. She chose to put her family first. She had the insightfulness and forethought to know this was just lust between her husband and the other woman. She understood that being deep in the trenches of child-rearing was going to be less attractive than the colleague who had caught her husband’s eye. She won. Now her children see their dad every day, they can afford their children extracurricular activities and can manage the coordination of getting their children to their various clubs. She enjoys the feeling of being part of a team.
We could have had that too. If I hadn’t have been so quick to assert my moral dominance, we could have worked through it. I could have silenced my sharp tongue, I could have praised him a little more. I could have turned a blind eye until he came out the other end. I could have questioned him less and given him his freedom to enjoy his nights out with the boys, I didn’t need him to be around all the time, so why pressure him to spend so much time as a family?
Why not just let him be and allow him the freedom to come back to us when he had exorcised his demons? The children wouldn’t have had to know. I could have protected them, but instead now they will forever know that their mother didn’t try hard enough to swallow her pride and forgive what he admits is a stupid mistake. They could have retained their vision of their father as a hero, but my actions have left me open to explaining what happened, when I should have stuffed my feelings down and kept them secure in their bubble.
I’m continuously told how it is so courageous to leave a relationship that isn’t working, to wear the scar of being a fallen woman. It would have been more courageous to stay and put my own hurt aside and put my faith in my marriage. The vows are very clear – for better, for worse and yet there I was, the first sign of negativity, I ran. I was put under pressure and instinctively I fled, with not even a fleeting thought of what I could do to keep my family intact. I can’t even say I gave my marriage a fair crack of the whip. I didn’t make the effort to tempt my husband out of his affair fog, I didn’t attempt to reconcile or forgive and now that time had passed.
If I’d have chosen the path of forgiveness, my children would have their father and over time the wounds could have healed and even though it was broken, I loved him anyway. So there will be no divorce party. There is nothing to celebrate here.
For more from Katie Currie, follow her journey on her blog Soaring Solo.