Behind Closed Doors {Infidelity}

At AnyOtherWedding, you can talk about anything. Anything you want at all. Any subject, any time. We are proud to be able to provide that platform for you, it makes our hearts sing. But we do understand that sometimes there are topics that are too sensitive, too divisive, simply too hard  to write about and broadcast without a second thought. No-one wants to hurt their loved ones unnecessarily and yet sometimes a story needs to be told.

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The starting point for this submission is that I saw the heading ‘wise woman’ and the dawning that I know some very wise women. This and the issue of marriage. Three wise women helped me through the most difficult time I’ve experienced in my 29-30 years (eh, Anna?)

Coming in at number 3: awkward pregnancy/birth.
A non-mover at number 2: death of parent. 
This year we have a brand new number 1: husband is unfaithful.

So after ten years together I found out that my husband had had some fun with another – the details of which are irrelevant and mildly nauseating. The weeks that followed felt like grieving, I was beside myself – literally. Useless, blundering, watching myself blubber and crumble and it HURT. It was a physical pain that ached from my chest and stomach and there was no amount of Jack Daniels nor Nurofen Express that would help. I now know why we use the words ‘broken heart’ – my heart hurt. I was humiliated. I was effing livid.

One wise woman at the time told me: “This is crappy and it’s unfair, but you’re just going to have to go through it. You want to make a decision quickly and stop the hurting but you can’t rush it. You have to keep walking through it” – this was marvellous and made so much sense. It reassured me that there was nothing I could do to feel better yet.

A second wise woman: took herself and her caring, generous, clear head and sat down in a room with him to try and work out how this happened. She uncovered some snippets of truth which I hadn’t had the patience or strength to get to myself.

A third wise woman sent me a postcard with the words: “I don’t know what to do – look up this poem….”

So we, The Married, after time apart and help from RELATE to understand each other, how this had happened and how to avoid it again, are still together. We pulled it back.
I don’t want to sweep under the rug how much work has gone into it and still does – how much swallowing of pride on my part, to be the woman “who took him back…” for the world to know we are not flawless. 

I now know that, for us, starting out so young and growing up together saw us both become very different people. We had invested all of our efforts in children, mortgages, and keeping up with friends and careers.

We’d forgotten about each other and now we didn’t know how to be together anymore.

I read the poem sent by The Third Wise Woman. I sent the poem to my husband while we were adrift, while we lived separately, with the subject: “I realise this is poetry and everything. Just read it because it’s exactly how I’m feeling.” It made sense to us both – this sounds ridiculous. It did though.

This was a moment which shifted our anger and battling against each other and brought us back to humble, open, nervous and ready to work on it.

It’s now framed in a quiet space in our house. A poem. I’m as surprised as you are. 

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

(‘The Invitation’ by Oriah Mountain Dreamer) She must be the world’s greatest hippy with a name like that.
Categories: Behind Closed Doors, Infidelity, Life Experience, Our Favourite Posts
15 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted December 7, 2011 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I love this blog.

    I really honestly love it because you have incredible women like this on here.

    Infeidelity has to be my biggest fear for our marriage. But to know that you came out the other side of it together, gives me some kind of bizzare hope that everything is survivable… if you want it to be.

    I am in awe of how brave you are and just how much strength you possess.

    So many people claim "No way, I would never go back." But I have always thought… how can you know that? You can't. Until you're in it.

    So DO NOT let people shame you. Your choice, your story and your strength fill me with nothing but admiration.

  2. mahj
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I would just like to say to whomever wrote this what a brave ands courageous woman I think they are. Not only to have written about this, but to have lived it and come out the other side.


  3. Posted December 7, 2011 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Your three wise women are remarkable. You are even more so.

    That poem was my wedding reading. I chopped out the last two lines. You've made me realise I should have kept them in.

  4. Posted December 7, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    That poem is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing it, and your story.

  5. Posted December 7, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Wow – what an inspirational post. Huge congratulations on being strong enough to survive, gracious enough to forgive, and brave enough to share your story with others. It's (oddly) a beautiful love story.

    And that poem had me in tears. Proper, streaming, mascara-ruining tears. I knew instantly that I want it read at our wedding next year.

  6. Posted December 7, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    You are so strong. Please don't let anyone ever tell you that you should be ashamed; relationships are messy, no-one but the two of you will ever know what is between you, and you've been through the fire to make it work. That is something many people could not face. You should be so amazingly proud of yourself for your strength and determination and inspiration.

    And I love the poem. It's perfect.

    K x

  7. Posted December 7, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Anon, I also think you are a strong lady and utterly wonderful.

    Two fingers to anyone who would judge you for forgiving your husband. Your call, and sod all to do with them.

    Beautiful poem.


  8. Posted December 7, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Inspiring indeed. I can't imagine the kind of pain, shock or despair you've been through but the way you moved on together remoulding, repairing, building up your marriage is a testament not only to you and your strength of character but to love and the concept of marriage. There's nothing tragic or shameful about making a marriage work x

  9. Anonymous
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, so much, for this.

    3 months ago I discovered something very similar. I'm still so hurt and angry. Livid, really.

    But your words and that wonderful poem have prompted a change in me. A small one, but a change nonetheless.

    I think I'm going to be ready to start moving forward soon. Thanks to you.

    I am forever grateful and I wish you a long and wonderful life.

  10. Anonymous
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    What a well written piece.

    I could rabble on for ages on this subject. I'm a family lawyer (don't let that put you off) but I believe wholly in marriage. I'm what has been described on these pages as 'pre-engaged' myself, so the job hasn't ruined me yet.

    I come across many people who give up for much less, what you have achieved is inspiring.

    A friend told me not that long ago that she doesn't understand how I can be in favour of marriage given what I do for a living, but it is so much more complicated than that.

    I wish you all the very best.

  11. Anonymous
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this and for being so honest and writing so well. It really struck a chord with me having seen my mum go through this twice with my dad in the last few years after over 30 years of marriage.

    I never understood why she stayed with him but didn't get involved. I let them work it out as I wanted them both to be happy despite the anger I felt towards my dad.
    I sat down with him to try and understand what had led to his infidelity and it is similar to what you are saying. Various problems and stresses had led to them becoming frustrated with each other but instead of working things out they had ignored the issues and felt isolated.

    I still struggle to see how this can be a reason for infidelity but at the same time I agree with Naomi in saying you can't know what you would do until you're there in the situation.

    Thank you for tackling this subject. Another brilliant post from a website I am glad I recently discovered!

  12. Posted December 7, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Dear Anon, thank you for writing this post. I know there is no lonelier place to be than on the receiving end of infidelity.

    You have pretty much summed up how I felt when I found out my (now ex) partner of 15 years had been serially unfaithful. We got together at 17 and I adored him. Devastated didn't even come close. My friends bar none thought I was mad to forgive him and to try and work it out. I know I was perceived by some as weak but I know, in hindsight, that it takes huge strength to try and make a relationship work and to try to love when all you want to do is disappear.

    And I also remember the physical pain of a broken heart. But – and I remember doubting this at the time – time does make it better. We tried very, very hard to make it work and although we are no longer together I am so glad I followed my heart and did what was right for me at the time. And I think that's what it is all about – you have to be true to the person you are, regardless of what anyone else says you should be doing or feeling.

    People will say infidelity is black and white. For me it wasn't, and ultimately it wasn't the reason our relationship ended. We both somehow managed to overcome our feelings about it and remain good friends.
    I feel very lucky that I have been able to forgive him as I don't think I could bear to continue to feel hate and anger for someone I used to love so much. Is that weak? I don't think so. You cannot predict how you will react until you find yourself in the situation.

    The experience made my realise what was important to me in a relationship and in April I married the most amazing man who I hope to be with for the rest of my life. I don't know what life has in store for us but I do know that I am stronger than I ever thought myself capable of being.

    Sometimes it is hard not to let horrible experiences define you. And even harder not to let others define you by them. It has been difficult but I have been determined not to let infidelity scar me. The most joyful feeling in the world is thinking you will never be able to trust again and then finding yourself flinging yourself recklessly in to love again.

    I wish you and your husband much reckless abandon in love and have no doubt your marriage will be all the stronger for it. Good luck.

    Cathy xx

  13. Posted December 7, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Jeez, AOW. I have a minor melt-down at work, depart from the world of Women What Blog for a short break, come back and you've only gone and put up a heart-stopper of a post.

    Anonymous woman, the easy thing would have been to give up. What you've done is much, much tougher. Respect.

  14. Posted December 8, 2011 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    That poem brought the tears one for me too.

    You are braver than you will ever know – it's easier to leave than to stay. Thank you for sharing your story with us

  15. Posted December 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Powerful post.
    Thank you for sharing.

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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