Also Read: Annika's Follow-Up Interview
My tale, I have realized, is not unique. It begins with a marriage—a wide eyed bride full of hopes and dreams who knew that the man she was marrying was a great choice. The man I married was handsome, educated and driven. He was all the things I knew I wanted and none of the things I would come to learn I needed. I was twenty seven, driven in my own ways, and I was unaware that seven years into this union I would crave communication and laughter, attention and what I thought was passion. I say "what I thought was passion" because I know now, in the aftermath, that my affair was not in any way passion; it was cleverly disguised as such when really it was my affair's illicit nature that was the fuel for this so-called passion.
So began married life. In the early years I tried to have with Adam what I didn't know I needed. I would make a nice dinner after work and set the table, and he would unwind with his work associates instead or come home and eat with me but only be half present. Adam was and is a good man; I want to stress that. But communication—the deep sort of communication that women need—is not something he was capable of. I thought that was fine; I was happy in many other ways. I spent my time working, being with friends, renovating my house and eventually, having three babies in four years, but the lack of communication left me vulnerable to something I didn't even know was about to hit me.
We were happy. As mentioned, I had three children whom I adored and friends with children who always seemed to be at my house for dinner on the weekends. These friends I chose were very close to my marriage, it became like a "commune" we used to joke about. We were "sister wives" so to speak. I didn't know how dangerous forging this close bond would become—this close friendship with these people filled an empty place in me. It was entertainment in the harried life of a mother... as was the affair that was about to begin. I use the term entertainment when I refer to my affair not to cheapen it but to put it in the correct light. This term was used by a close friend who had come out the other side after her affair. She had called it "entertainment" and referred to mine in the same way. At the time I was mortified. After all, my affair was love and passion, beautiful and unique. In retrospect, it was none of those things. She was right.
Jack was the husband of Jenny, a good friend. They had three children as well and were part of the "posse" that was at my house every weekend. This crowd ate together, vacationed together, celebrated life together. Jack was handsome and funny and attentive, I found myself going the extra mile with the way I dressed and looked whenever I knew he would be around and I KNEW he did the same. We started finding opportunities to be alone together, just to talk and laugh without the watchful eyes of our awful prying spouses. I would make sure that I was the one who would take the children to events that he would be at as well. All this led to an afternoon, on my deck—our six children happily playing outside and the two of us, kissing, inside. It felt like the best kiss I had ever had.
I had to find a way to have more of those kisses. We would sneak away every chance we could. We made out in his car, in my car, when our mates weren't home. It was incredible that we could kiss and talk for hours. I felt so alive, sexy, kitten soft, and beautiful. He felt strong, sexy and said I made him bulletproof. We gave each other what our spouses didn't. The sad thing is, our poor spouses might have stepped it up had they known they were in any sort of competition. It is said that if you imagine a duel between your husband and lover, you will almost always be wanting your husband to win.
This kissing, went on for ten months. There were torrid emails, poetry, pining to be in the others arms. Symptoms of the limitations of an affair, not true love. Legitimate love CAN run to each other...legitimate love CAN call each other whenever it feels like it...legitimate love does NOT have to wait until there is an illicit opportunity. All this non legitimacy makes you long for the person, climb the walls for the person....convinces you that you are in love.
One night, after fighting the final step into "full on affair," Adam was away and Jack came over and kisses turned into clothes coming off and turned into what I thought at the time was sex that should be in some sensually erotic film.. .in my mind it was just that beautiful and smoking hot and FULL of passion. I truly thought we were unique. Yes there were other affairs out there, but they were all about sex—not this deep abiding bond that Jack and I shared. It's laughable now that I've realized that all emotional/sexual affairs are pretty much identical. There were so many heartfelt words spoken; we cried after we made love; we caressed and laughed and had bed picnics and lived to breath the same air as each other. In retrospect, it was the NOT being able to get to the next stage, the comfortable love stage, that kept the spark alive for the two years it lasted.
And two years it did last. Sneaking around, making love every chance we could, phone calls the minute we both were alone and many many many excuses to get the two families together for fun and events just so we could be in the same room, until one day we took one chance too many.
Jack was at my house, Adam was not expected home. Jack and I had literally just pulled our clothes back on and he was still in my bedroom when Adam walked in. We were stoic, we claimed it was just a kiss and Adam half bought it. The circle of friends was broken. Adam chose not to tell Jenny and Jack was unscathed. My life, however, became a living hell in which my being ten minutes late from getting milk meant Adam would launch into his dark place and accuse me of seeing Jack again.
I tried to continue the affair. There were teary phone calls: I miss you. I love yo. I NEED to be with you. But the stress of it all and the being "outed" eventually killed the magic of the "secret." I ended it for good and tried to live my life as it once had been, but I was now imparted with a knowledge that I didn't possess before and so it wasn't easy.
Adam and I healed. Adam tried to be what I wanted him to be. I found all that effort to be smothering and eventually we settled back into the easy comfort of what we had before. Occasionally the affair would rear its ugly head when my cell phone rang with a strange number or when I was distant, but those times became fewer and farther between. What I realized was that although I wanted the communication, I didn't want the effort that went into maintaining that. It was only fun when it was occasional. Men and women are supposed to have comfortable marriages; we are supposed to settle in. No one can maintain the level of excitement new love provides; it would consume you, and life would fall by the wayside.
The affair is now distant in my mind—not quite like it never happened, but close—and I am content with that. Life now is about kids and healthy distractions. It's nice to leave my cell phone charging on the kitchen counter and not under my pillow. It's nice to not have a huge secret anymore. It's nice to have my phone ring in the middle of the night and know it's a wrong number.
Its nice to be five minutes late from getting the milk...
Also Read: Annika's Follow-Up Interview