Things were going pretty well for us, or so I thought. Sure, we had some pretty serious stressors in our life: We had only been parents for one year and had made a major move during that same period. On top of all that, we would be making another move in the next few months once my husband got a job after graduation. There was a lot going on, but our marriage was rock-solid, we loved our son, and we had made a few new friends that we were hanging out with regularly.
But one night, after we had put our sleeping son in his crib, seemingly out of the blue, my husband sat me down. He had a serious look on his face that worried me. Actually, I realized, he seemed nervous. Before I had time to crack a joke in a pathetic attempt to ease the tension, he spoke.
“I don’t know how to say this, but I know I have to say it.” The serious tone of his voice terrified me. Whatever it was, I just wanted him to spit it out quickly so that my mind would stop running wild.
“It’s Abigail.” Our friend Abigail? I relaxed a little bit. I knew Abigail was safe and healthy so whatever he was going to say couldn’t be that bad. Maybe he was tired of us spending so much time with her? Maybe she annoyed him, and he hated to say so?
“I—I’m attracted to her.” My heart dropped. What? I looked at my husband, shocked and silent. I didn’t know what to say. I felt angry, humiliated, and betrayed at the same time. My instinct was to protect myself, to make him know how terrible a crime this was, to make him feel wretched and unforgivable. But by some miracle I waited, still silent.
“Does she know? Have you acted on it?” I asked the questions quietly, scared to hear the answers.
He shook his head. “No,” he promised, “no, she doesn’t know.”
We sat there on the couch awhile together, me chewing my lip and he fidgeting with his hands. I listened quietly as he explained that he thought it was partly due to the stress in our life, that he had never been alone with her, and that he wanted to tell me as soon as possible even though he was afraid it would hurt me. After all, we’d always said there would be no secrets between us.
He was taking a huge risk in telling me the truth, and now the ball was in my court. I could yell and scream, I could be sarcastic and condescending. Or I could honor his integrity. It was hard to be mad at someone who confessed something I would never have known about had he not. He clearly felt grief and hated to have anything come between us. I took a deep breath, and I allowed him to hold my hand.
We talked about it a little more; he cried, and funnily enough, I didn’t. He gave me control over what happened next, and I told him I needed both of us to not be around her for awhile. He agreed that it was best, but I know that probably wasn’t an easy agreement to make. We never told Abigail why we declined future invitations, and a few months later we moved to a new city and the friendship dissipated.
I realized how lucky I was, and how lucky we both were. Had he chosen secrecy, had he chosen to indulge in “harmless” thoughts or flirtations, the story might have ended very differently. By nipping it in the bud, he saved both of us—but especially me—a lot of heartache.
Hearing that he was attracted to someone else was painful, yes, but much less painful than one day finding out it had gone much further. I definitely felt the ache of wounded pride and of disappointment, but the way he handled the whole thing proved to me that I could trust him.
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