Even months before I had found out about the affairs, I was in a redefining period of my life. I was just discovering what life as a parent meant. I also had to add this new role to my life and sort of rearrange my life in a way so that everything still fit and I felt like me.
The initial six months After Knowing really envigorated this quest for me. I was getting used to my new body, and acknowledging old and new wants. I cannot say that every woman goes through this, I can only explain what it was like for me, and it was empowering.
We live in a sex-crazed world: I would bet money most women have thought about what they would do and how they would react if they found out their husband cheated on them with multiple women. I had always expected to feel disgusted and distant. The truth is, I finally felt like we were approaching honesty. It felt as though, for the first time in a very long time that I had his full and undivided attention. Before finding out, I had all these creative plans to help me to feel less like a mom 24/7 and more like a woman. I wanted to feel sexy! These needs and wants did not fall away After Knowing, so I followed my instincts.
I did not want to fall apart. I did not want to take a single day off of work to mope; I just wanted to focus on me. So I did.
I bought new clothes, bras and underwear. I made plans to see friends I had not seen in a while. I focused on eating healthy and cooking more and being a better parent. I stopped feeling guilty for the occaisional pampering when I treated myself to something nice. For the first time in six years, I sort of went on auto pilot where our marriage was concerned and I let him lead. I stopped waiting on him and I just DID. It was so easy to be wrapped up in only making things work with him and trying not to push his buttons, that I just needed to change gears and focus on me and what I needed from our marriage.
I felt different. I felt as though he noticed me again, and like he wanted me. We were able to speak freely again with each other about what we wanted for our marriage and what we wanted out of life. It was almost as though we were meeting again for the first time in some ways. There were no secrets or lies. We spent hours talking to each other about how we wanted to raise our child, ways to feel closer, things we liked to do, our sex life... it brought me to tears on multiple occaisions when I thought about how bad things had been and how I had just accepted it for fear of rocking the boat. It was as though I had previously been swallowed up by the marriage, the pregnancy, and by him. I was slowing coming out of it when I found the text messages, and then suddenly what I needed was clear to me and he was either on board or he was not.
My parents divorced when I was in high school. I had grown in my Catholic faith throughout colllege, and these two factors made me decidedly Anti-Divorce. Back when we were dating, he had told me he was against divorce as well. Amid all our talks about our marriage and how we needed to heal and fix things, it was clear that our marriage would not survive another affair. I was confident at the time that had roles been reversed and I had cheated on him, that I would not be given the opportunity to fix things. I was not ready to give up on our life together, but if he would have been unable commit and "pull his weight", I was confident that a separation would occur. Even if I had to live the rest of his life in a legal but Catholic separation, I was willing to do it if it meant my child would be in a better environment. I struggled greatly with responding mercifully yet firm to the truth about our marriage and the sex addiction. I felt as though my God was calling me to rediscover myself, and to show my husband what unconditional love was. It is my personal goal to answer this call daily. I do not always feel I have the strength to do so, but fortunately for me, I am reminded of the amazing things our love is capable of when I look at our children.
Nearly two years after I began to include myself in my focus, I feel completely renewed. I make myself a priority the same as I do my marriage and my children. We have a balance that our life was sorely missing. When I am important to me, I begin to see how I am important to my husband and my children as well.