Perspective

A letter to … my husband, who was going to leave, but stayed

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If you so much as think about another extra-marital affair, I will out you for the lying, sneaking rat you once were

It’s nearly a year since we went for a walk to the beach on holiday and you said you didn’t love me any more. I wrote to you then, remember? I can still recreate the feeling that my heart had stopped, my universe was on pause, all those trite sayings that you trot out at times of great emotion. Actually, I was terrified that you’d said something so irrevocable and meant it.

I had always relied on your love for me throughout our 22 years of marriage, the one constant in a life beset by change and shift. For three days after your announcement, I lived and died by your texts and messages; you were working away and I thought the time apart would help. On your return, you said you were still confused and now I know the cause was the other woman you had gone looking for online.

You had been unhappy with us – and so had I, to be honest – our daily niggles, the kids’ sniping, and had found solace in the arms of another. Actually, several others over the years, it transpired. One I knew about, one I suspected but the others were a surprise. When I messaged you when you were away, I wondered (and secretly knew) why it took a while for you to answer. You were screwing somebody else.

We went to Relate where we talked. I cried, you cried. We began to communicate. I told no one but my best friend; I didn’t eat for a week, you felt guilty and torn. It was the worst time, but the most honest of our entire relationship.

We slowly and surely found each other again. Since then, it’s like a broken and mended bone; you’d never know unless you’d seen the X-ray. No one knew and no one knows now.

I love you more now than ever and I know you feel the same. We tell each other regularly and our sex life has never been better. Those petty squabbles don’t happen; we still annoy each other but we don’t let it get in the way of the main event, which is that we want to be together. Vows may have been broken, but we have chosen to stay with each other.

Some people might think that I am weak and feeble for forgiving you and taking you back, but take note: if you do it again, you are out. You are fully aware that if you so much as think about another extra-marital affair, I will out you for the lying, sneaking rat you once were. I will also have your balls for breakfast and you know I’m a good cook.

We are now much nicer to each other and I think that is the secret to a good, long-lasting relationship. We promised to cherish each other in our wedding vows – and this is what went wrong: cherish is the most important word in the marriage service. When you feel invincible in your 20s, you don’t listen to those who really know – the middle-aged and long-married.

What goes wrong in a long marriage? I don’t know about all the others, but this is what was wrong with us – we weren’t on each other’s side. We didn’t cheer each other on or support each other; we were on opposing sides. Petty squabbles became massive issues, and resentment set in. As parents, we forgot that we were a couple first and it nearly broke us. So now, when you lean in for a kiss, I kiss you. I won’t blow lots of shared years for a bit of peace or some “alone time”. I had a taste of that for three days. It sucked.

Your (now permanent) wife

theguardian