Here is the text of a letter I gave to my wife yesterday. We are working through reconciliation and things are going well, but I am still a hurting and confused person. Comments/feedback appreciated.
I want to start off this letter by saying how much improvement I, you, and our marriage have made. We have come so far in almost 4 months that itís hard to believe. I love you so much right now my heart could burst.
Let me say it again: I love you, and want you, and need you, and I now know without doubt that I want to spend the rest of my life with you.
But XXXXX, you also need to know that I am still hurting very deeply, and Iím writing this letter to ask you: What have you learned from this nightmare?
To recap the painful truth: Four months ago you were having sex with another man at his house and at a motel in XXXXX. You were calling him and texting him every day, sharing who knows what intimate secrets. Perhaps most painfully of all, you were telling him you loved him, and talking of future plans together, even if only half-heartedly.
Four months later I am (apparently) the love of your life, your future and forever soul-mate, and you are ready to commit to me, and to us, with an expensive new house. You have turned the page and I am the man you want.
From my discovery of the affair to where we are now, my life has been turned completely upside down. Iíve lost it all, and got it back. Iíve been to hell, and Iím slowly digging my way out. As you can imagine I am having a very hard time with your huge change of heart. So what has changed to bring about this massive shift in you?
So far youíve told me itís because I have changed. I have, and I know you can see that. I am much more aware of you, attentive to you and your needs. I think of you when I am at work. I am enjoying you as a friend and talking to you on the phone and when I get home from work every single day. I am loving you in our marriage bed. I regret every day not doing this a year ago. I will regret it forever.
I love our new relationship, I love you. I love you so much. But I also need to remind you of the enormous damage you have done to me, and my loss of confidence in you as a person.
So forget about me and what I am doing for a while. Itís not enough to say that you love the new me, and that is why you have changed and recommitted to our marriage. Because this affair is ultimately about you, not me. I cannot say that enough. Our marriage, and the lousy state of our marriage, was half or more my fault, including my lack of attention and my emotional distancing. We were both guilty of a lack of communication. I can fix myself, and we can fix our lack of communication together. I am looking forward to the challenge and I sense you are as well.
But your decision to have an affair is about you, and no one else. I was not happy with our marriage either, but did not choose to betray you and our family. You did, and turned a marriage that needed repair into a life-altering crisis. You need to look at that decision, and what led to that decision, and fix that, and fix yourself.
So please, leave me out of this for a few minutes, and think about you.
To recap: Four months ago you were lying to me, every single day. Four months ago you lied to your children on multiple occasions, when you told them false places where you were going. Four months ago you lied to my father, when you asked him to come over and watch the kids while you ran errands, which were much more than errands. Four months ago you lied to and/or misled your parents, and your wider family, by feigning happiness and smiling and hugging me at Christmas and Easter and pretending everything was just fine, as you led a hurtful double life.
So I need to know: What have you learned from this experience, about yourself? And how can I feel secure that you wonít do this again?
Here is what I know. I cannot fix you. I can only fix me, and be the best person I can be. The rest is up to you. I cannot make you not have an affair. I can be the best person and husband I can be, and work to make our marriage much better than it was before, and I am actively doing that. I promise to be the best man I can be, the best husband and father I can be, and to love and respect you. But I canít fix a person that lied so easily, and so well, for so long. That person needs to fix herself.
I cannot a make a selfish person not do selfish things. And you were very, very selfish this past year. You didnít think of me, or the kids, during this affair; or if you did, you were not strong enough to make the right decision and put us first. You put yourself first, and your family a distant second. You put everyone second to a married man, and a despicable one at that. You didnít seem to think of his wife, either, whose life may very well be ruined like mine is. It is now without doubt turned absolutely upside-down, as she now knows that the man she thought she knew is a lying piece of shit. He really is an ugly human being, through and through, and I hope you can now recognize that, and find some sympathy for her having to live her life with a monster.
Before all this happened I wouldnít have considered you a selfish person, but now I canít be 100% certain. With my trust in you shaken, I now look at you differently, and I think, maybe all your selfless acts and people pleasing over the course of your life were selfish; maybe pleasing other people pleased you, and fed your needs. Do you know what it really means to give selflessly to someone else, and to commit to marriage vows, and to be a truthful, honest person? I hope you can, and I think you do, and I think you are a good person, but now I canít believe it with 100% certainty like I used to.
Please note that Iím not saying Iím a perfect person, nor trying to lecture you; I have also done selfish things. I donít act selflessly all the time. Ignoring you for books and the computer was selfish, so Iím not trying to talk down to you as though Iím a father to a child. But what I did, did not approach the level of harmful selfishness you exhibited. I might not have been a great, loving husband, but I was not lying and causing active harm. We need to do things for ourselves, and have our own interests and activities, as long as they arenít deceptive and harmful. That is what an affair is: A hurtful lie.
Iím also surprised by your lack of empathy during the affair. Did you ever think about how I would have felt hearing you whisper ďI love youĒ to another man as you lay naked by his side in bed, and the awful visions that I now have to deal with for the rest of my life? I have these visions every day and have to forcibly fight them back.
Did you ever think about what your children would have thought of you, had I divorced you and left you, and they realized you were lying to them for the past year, and the horrific way you treated their father?
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the shoes of another and view the world through their eyes; to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That is what prevented me from ever having an affair; I was tempted, but the thought of hurting you and hurting the kids always, always stopped my hand. Which is why I am so shocked you could do this. You displayed a total lack of empathy, and did the most selfish acts imaginable of a married woman and a mother of young children. I know you understand the concept of empathy, and maybe you just lost sight of it for a while. But again, Iím not 100% certain anymore. This is another casualty of the affair.
So what have you learned about yourself from this, and how are you going to make better choices going forward? What has changed inside of you? I need you to tell me this. Weíre on the eve of a huge commitment, and because of the horrors of this past year, Iím not 100% sure I can trust the woman with whom about Iím about to commit the rest of my life. As I have come to realize, trust and commitment are the most important aspects of marriage, and therefore they are the costliest and most painful casualties of an affair. In our case, this wonderful woman whom I have known for more than half of my life has now in many respects become a stranger to me, because my trust in her has been damaged and undermined.
I know I likely will never get a satisfactory answer to the why of the affair, or why you committed some of your worst acts and lies during the past year, and I am attributing those to someone in the midst of an unhealthy addiction. You werenít yourself, and I know that now. But I expect and deserve answers from you now, in a rational state, about what lessons youíve learned from this tragedy and why you wonít ever repeat it.
As we move forward on to the next and hopefully better phase of our lives, I need to make sure I am with a woman who both understands and can articulate how selfishly she behaved, and the damage she has caused. I need to make sure I am with a woman who always puts the needs of her family first, and always treats her husband as a human being should be treated, with respect and integrity.
I know that you know the difference between right and wrong. Iíve seen you do all the right things from an actions perspective, from counseling, to reading, to open and honest communication. You have been incredibly loving and giving to me. You have done everything required of a spouse committed to reconciliation. You have kicked his ugly, despicable ass to the curb and moved on from that cancerous person with no further contact. For that, I thank you.
But as a ďwords of affirmationĒ person I need to hear the words from you. I need you to tell me how selfishly you behaved, and the damage you have caused, and affirmation that you will always put the needs of your family first, and always treat me how a human being should be treated, with respect and integrity.
Can you please do this? It would be incredibly healing for me, and for our future. And I think it would help heal you, too.
I love you,