I’ve watched a lot of cheating dramas and movies in my life. My favorite was the famous Korean series titled “The Life of the Married Couple” starring Kim Hee‑ae. That one was intense! It brought all my extreme emotions out, but I’ve always thought, “No, they only happen in the movies”. But boy, was I wrong. So…so…so wrong. I was heartbroken to discover I married a cheating man.
I grew up in a family oriented setup where we were always required to eat together, go on family day outs once a week, always had movie nights, and things like that. My family wasn’t perfect. We’ve had our fair share of bad days too. But I now appreciate, more than ever, the kind of bond that my parents tried to create. My parents had fights too, but never about cheating or third parties. I’ve always looked at their love as something so secure and monogamous, something I wanted so bad for me and my future spouse too. That’s why I was so confused why I ended up with someone who does not even give importance to a family’s bond.
I won’t say that I’m perfect either. But I’ve always strived hard to make the right choices, and in between that process, still managed to commit some mistakes. On my past relationships, I wouldn’t say that I was completely faithful. I’ve talked with other people that my ex wouldn’t have agreed with, if he would’ve known. I’ve done some flirty exchanges with other people aside from my partner back in the past. That, I’m not scared to admit, although I’m never proud of them. But fucking someone else behind my partner’s back? Or meeting someone else in secret? That, I consider way too extreme, and my infidelities in the past (if those even qualify to be called as such) haven’t gotten that far. I believe most of us has committed them at least once or twice in our lives. But I realized that I know these are wrong things to do, and I consciously refused to participate on these kinds of activities, so why do others seem to just act like it’s perfectly okay?
In the past, I knew the reason for my behavior was just because of pure curiosity and a huge personal insecurity. I wasn’t really going in and out of different relationships when I was a teen. I stuck to one guy for six years! And so most of what I did back then just revolves around the thought that maybe there is someone better out there, and wonering how it feels like to be with someone else. The other reason is that, as a teen, I gained all my validation from other people’s attention. And so, knowing that there are multiple men out there who are interested in me gave me a boost in self-confidence. But that was ten years ago.
“I don’t solely blame all these women. They are all equally accountable with my husband for the damage I suffered.”
Fast forward ten years later. I know who I am, what I am capable of, and what I can bring to the table. I know that I deserve a good and faithful spouse because I hold myself to the same level of standard. At 23 years old, I got pregnant and married the father of my child. One year into our marriage, I discovered that my husband was meeting other women behind my back, and talking to them without me knowing. I wouldn’t go into the details, but my husband was cheating on me for three years.
I don’t solely blame all these women. They are all equally accountable with my husband for the damage I suffered. My mental state was in shatters. I lost all my will to look forward to what the future has for me. I hated my own son. I hated myself, and all my imperfections just seemed to blow out of proportion in my own sight. My self-esteem was totally demolished. I just wanted to die everyday just so I can end the pain, but still, I did not and regretted all my decisions every day for a long time.
Despite what he did, my husband admitted to his mistakes, apologized, and promised to never do it again. You might think I’m such a fool to have given him another chance, but raising a son alone scared me. I was completely dependent on him from financial support. I was ashamed to admit to my family that I married a cheating man. It was painful, but it was more painful to think about letting him go. Divorce is not an option in the Philippines. Annulment grounds are hard to prove, and the proceedings are way too costly.
“And in between the cleaning, the studying, and the cooking, thoughts of my husband’s infidelity is there. I still feel like I haven’t gotten any progress in terms of healing.”
Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. I’ve calmed down. I’ve forgiven my husband. But I will never forget all the things I saw and read. I always try to reciprocate my husband’s affections but there’s still that lingering thoughts of infidelity. There are days that I feel disgusted with him, sometimes it makes me feel nauseous. There are days that I just stare into the unknown and think of what would happen if I pack my things and leave right then and there. Still, I think my family is worth saving. Do I know what I’m doing? I don’t.
I returned to carrying out my day to day tasks and chores as a wife, mom, and a student. And in between the cleaning, the studying, and the cooking, thoughts of my husband’s infidelity is there. I haven’t gotten a chance to meet with a therapist, but reliving painful memories is actually a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I still feel like I haven’t gotten any progress in terms of healing. I figured that maybe I just became more accustomed to the thought of it. But there is not one single day that I go through without having to remember the betrayal of the person who committed his loyalty. I know I need professional help, but the cost is just way beyond what I can spare right now.
As the days go by, I can feel that the pain I’ve felt in the beginning regarding losing my husband, is actually starting to fade. I can feel the amount of love I have for him slowly diminishing as time passes. The thought of losing him now doesn’t even seem painful anymore. I think that’s how it goes when you chose to stay because of love. That same reason, which is love that kept you staying, is the same reason that jumps out the window little by little as you continue to live with someone who chose to betray, humiliate, and disrespect you. By this time I don’t even know if I still love him. Or if I’m just afraid of the social stigma of a broken family, a single mom.
Kim Hee‑ae in “Life of the Married Couple”
I don’t have any plans of severing my relationship with him right now. Still, having a complete family is my top priority. But I can feel myself naturally letting go of my husband without even breaking up or having fights. Is this just a phase? I don’t know. What I do know is the amount of damage I suffered because of his cheating may take me years to recover from.
Infidelity inflicts a really deep emotional and mental wound to your partner. It may take more than a lifetime to heal. If you are a cheater reading this, stop. You either stop messing around with this other person, or stop fooling your partner and breakup! I know that I deserved better. What I don’t know, is if I’m doing the right thing by staying and forgiving.