- In 2015, my husband told me he had cheated on me multiple times.
- I stayed in the relationship because I was pregnant and we had a toddler.
- Looking back, I realize I shouldn’t have kept my situation a secret.
In 2016, my father-in-law told me he didn’t like a certain woman because he didn’t trust her husband. I told him if that was the case — if he didn’t trust her because her husband had lied — then he shouldn’t trust me either.
My husband, his son, had lied, too.
My father-in-law told me he’d have to think about that.
My husband confessed to his infidelities
In the fall of 2015, my husband came home from work and told me about his lies, a series of infidelities. He then told me that he loved me, that he was sorry, and that he wanted to stay together but would understand if I stormed out right then.
I didn’t. I stayed for several reasons, but the obvious one was that I was pregnant with my second child.
My first child was still in diapers, and I had found out I was pregnant — on purpose — only a week earlier. I was not in a physical or financial position to be a single mother of two. That’s the reason I most often give people who ask me why I stayed (or sometimes, facetiously, why I didn’t kill him).
But for years I didn’t talk about it. I would never have written about my experience before now, but in 2022 the secret is out, so I’m ready to explain why I stayed.
None of my choices were good
When he told me what he’d done, I had choices. None of them felt like good choices. Among the bad choices, I picked the one that felt the least horrible, the one that kept life the most stable for my daughter and, at least on the outside, for myself.
Staying meant I kept my home, my insurance, and my status as a married woman. His cheating had transpired without my knowledge, but I was still embarrassed. If no one knew, it was almost as if it had never happened.
This narrative suited my husband, of course, and his parents, who were brought into the fold.
It’s easy to say you’d go when people wrong you, but when they tell you they love you and call you a saint because you stay, it’s hard to see leaving your family as the right choice.
We ended up divorcing years later
When my husband filed for divorce in the summer of 2020, I no longer had the protection or stability of married life or my extended family. I began to see more clearly, and I started telling the secrets.
I can’t go back and change my decision, but I do wonder what would have been different for me and my kids if I’d chosen one of the other paths in the labyrinth. I might have felt less lost and alone. I might have still ended up in the same place.
My friends beat themselves up because they didn’t know or notice, but I’d worked so hard to hide everything. I passed my misery off as morning sickness, my despair off as sleep deprivation. If I met someone today in the same circumstances who asked for my advice, I’d tell them to talk to a friend, because the only people I relied on for help at the time were the ones causing my pain.
The mistake I made wasn’t staying. The mistake I made was staying silent.