I think I should share a little bit of the story of my divorce with you, so you will know where I am coming from. This is the story of D-Day, the discovery of my ex-husband's affair.
In September 2006, my then-husband turned 40. My 12-year-old daughter and I planned a surprise party for him, and it seemed to be a success, but he didn't seem at all happy about it. That was probably my first inkling that something was wrong. He was never one to talk much about anything, and he had told me recently that he had a lot going on at work, so his silence wasn't too alarming, but his reaction to the party was beyond silent, almost brooding. I chalked it up to mid-life crisis and moved on.
October rolled around, and he went on a business trip to New Orleans. Business trips weren't unusual, but this one was odd, as he was going over a weekend. Additionally, when I suggested that the kids and I join him, since I had an uncle in New Orleans we'd like to visit, he was adamant about how we could NOT come with him on this one. That was oddity number two, since as homeschoolers, we have a flexible schedule and had often joined him on business trips in the past, turning them into family camping trips or mini-vacations.
Oddity number three was his behavior while on the business trip. Normally when he was away, we talked by phone several times a day. He would call and talk to the kids and me before bed, at the very least. But this time, when I tried to call him, he never answered his cell phone, and although I left messages, he returned my call only once, and at a time when he knew we would all be out of the house. He left a message saying that his phone wasn't working, but caller ID showed that he had called from the non-working phone. In retrospect, I believe he made that call only because I had called his boss and asked him if my husband was checking in at work. He seemed surprised, but replied with a noncommital, "Not that I'm aware of." I requested that if he did happen to check in, would they please pass along a message that he needed to call home.
Late one Saturday night in November 2006, I did something I had never done before. I went online and checked my credit card statement. My husband was the one who usually looked over the statements and arranged for payments, so this was highly unusual. I think now that it was a God-prompting.
My credit card had charges for three different hotels, one of them in Florida, as well as a rental car, on the weekend when he was supposedly on his business trip to New Orleans. Red flags went up. First, why had he charged expenses from a business trip to my personal credit card? And second, why did he stay in three different hotels, one of them five hours away from the city where he was supposedly attending business meetings?
So I asked him. He made up several stories, none of which held up to my additional questions, and I finally asked him the big question: "Are you having an affair?"
We had been married for over 13 years, and he was not a good liar at that point. I knew that each of his answers to my questions about the information on the credit card were lies, and he knew that I knew. So he answered with the truth.
"Yes. I wasn't going to tell you until after the holidays, but yes, I have met someone else and I was with her that weekend."
I can't really tell you what happened at that point, because I was swept up in a whirlwind of emotions. I know that it involved a lot of screaming and crying on my part, and a stubborn silence on his. I know that my reaction woke the kids, one of whom had been awake and heard the whole thing, and who informed his siblings of what he had heard when they all came downstairs to see what was going on. I know that I told my husband that he had a choice: he could immediately get on the computer and send her an email ending the affair, and on Monday morning, call for an appointment with a marriage counselor, or he could leave. I know that he informed me that she was his soul-mate and that breaking it off with her would kill him, so he would leave in the morning.
Eventually, I went to bed alone in our king-sized bed. He slept on the couch, or maybe he stayed awake and called his mistress, who lived out of state, or connected with her online. At any rate, the next day, he took the laundry to the laundromat (our washing machine was broken), then came home and packed a small suitcase with his work clothes. We didn't go to church that Sunday. During the course of that day, my then-8-year-old daughter asked me if daddy was having his affair with S***** B****, because she had seen him chatting with a woman by that name on his computer and he typed "I love you" to her. I relayed the question to him, and his reaction when I mentioned her name confirmed that yes, that was his girlfriend. Another storm of emotions hit me as I realized that he had carried on his affair right there in front of our young daughter.
He left that evening.
I need to explain something here. My reason for telling him he had to leave was that I was trying to practice "tough love," to put him in a position where he had to face up to the reality of living apart from his wife and children, to get a taste of the expense of supporting two households by being forced to pay for a hotel and to eat all his meals out and not have readily available access to the internet where he could connect to his girlfriend. I honestly believe that the dose of reality that would have provided might have been enough to cause him to rethink his situation. Unfortunately, a couple that we knew took him in, allowing him to spend the next two weeks on their sofa and including him in their family meals and allowing him to use their internet access, so he never got that initial dose of reality while he was still at an emotional place where that might have made an impact.
Story to be continued in a future post....