With all our talk and thoughts about indiscretions and infidelities it can often be hard to realize when a new line has been crossed. During the healing period both members of the couple are sensitive and even the smallest infraction can lead to emotional distress.
About 2 years post-infidelity my best friend Tami’s husband Dave decided to take an adult band class. He has always loved to play guitar and thought this was an opportunity to do something positive for himself after working so hard to put his marriage back together.
Tami while thinking it was a silly mid-life crisis sort of thing, went along with the plan knowing Dave really was becoming a loving and committed man and deserved a break a few hours a week.
So, what was Tami to think when she did her random email check from her husband and found the following?
“Band is awesome. Don’t you love it? Wish I could play guitar like you. You’re unbelievable.”
Her name was Stephanie. She was one of only 2 women in the seven-piece band. Tami knew that David spent 2 hours a week at this class and that there were two women and five men. But, when she read that one little note her heart skipped a beat. What didn’t she know? She frantically searched Dave’s email for more messages. But, there weren’t any.
Calmly she approached Dave. But, as she stepped further down each stair towards him she felt the fear take over. By the time she reached the kitchen table where Dave was drinking his morning coffee she ripped into him. Of course, a fight ensued.
Dave didn’t show the email to her because to him it was no big deal. “Don’t you know flirting when you see it?” Tami replied. This went back and forth with silent treatment followed by yelling and silence again for two days. Tami finally called me to vent.
Fear Can Make Us Crazy
Not that I know more about life than Tami, but I am one year ‘ahead’ of her in our post-infidelity phase. As post- emotional affair, cheating or whatever you want to call it – we do often get nervous about relapse or watching our spouse hurt us all over again. Some women even live in fear for a long time. Some forever. But, eventually, hopefully the trust is earned back. Tami and I decided to look at the facts:
Exhibit A: Dave didn’t respond to that email. It was over a week old.
Exhibit B: Dave hadn’t done anything in the past two years but go to therapy and try to be open through building trust.
Exhibit C: Tami was now filled with guilt. Dave hadn’t really done anything wrong here.
When fear takes over and we lose sight of reality it’s impossible to feel the trust. But, the fact remains men and women are always going to be around one another, interacting: at work, the gym, the grocery store – everywhere. Our goal, hard as it is, is not to babysit.
We have to be able to find a common ground, a way to understand that not every male- female interaction means cheating.
After an affair or infidelity it is imperative that both spouses understand marriage is an open book. There are no secrets. If I feel like checking emails, or texts I can. My husband knows this and respects this as part of our rebuilding of trust.
In fact, when I check and find nothing it only makes me trust him more. As our healing continues I check rarely, if at all. I also try to remember that although it’s a hard pill to swallow, if a woman complements my husband or even flirts with him it’s how he responds (or doesn’t) that counts.
Tami and Dave made up that night. She asked Dave to share those types of emails in the future just so she wouldn’t have to stumble across anything and make assumptions. Dave, of course, complied.
When I shared this whole story with my own husband it reminded me to once in a while appreciate the hard work he’s putting in to our marriage. Honesty and trust are always at the forefront but I know personally how hard it can be to see something that could be more than meets the eye.
To protect ourselves so we don’t get ‘duped’ again, tricked or miss any cue that could lead us down that road to hurt we are always on the lookout. But, sometimes our vigilance plays its own tricks on us healing victims of infidelity and truly there isn’t more than meets the eye.
Have you ever stumbled on something that you thought was more and turned out to be nothing? Does fear sometimes make you paranoid? How do you deal with that reality?