**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.
We as a society tend to oversimplify the male psyche and assume that men don’t get wrapped up in complicated feelings like women do.
This is not so. Men can be complicated humans too. They feel things. They have emotions swirling around in their brains even if many of them are hesitant to show them.
My husband recently made a friend — a guy friend — and he was pretty stoked about it. He doesn’t have very many male friends in general and this new friendship was something he felt optimistic about.
Unfortunately, the honeymoon period of this new male bond didn’t last very long.
Soon after my husband had befriended this new male companion, he found out that he had cheated on his wife. His wife of him was someone my husband had known for years.
This information was unexpected. However, when my husband confided the details surrounding this situation to me, I wasn’t that surprised.
There were past issues that were hard to ignore in this relationship between these two married people. There had been an affair previously. And now it had happened again.
At first, my husband was trying to explain away the cheating behavior of his new male friend. He was SW disappointed. He couldn’t believe this guy could cheat on his wife unless he was somehow pushed into extenuating circumstances. He was drunk. It was just that one time. He was under a lot of stress.
I could only roll my eyes.
I couldn’t think of any way in which cheating could be an ‘accident’ or some sort of misunderstanding. However, I also understood my husband’s desire to make excuses for his new pal from him. He had made a friend and he wanted him to be a good guy. But he could not reconcile the news that his friend had cheated on his wife.
Part of me was relieved that my husband struggled with this news of infidelity. To me, it meant that he took fidelity seriously. That was meaningful to me. I was also sad for him. He had finally made a friend and that friend had betrayed a code of morals that was extremely important to my husband.
My personal opinion was that more than likely the infidelity in this relationship wasn’t over. I knew that this guy would probably cheat again considering he had cheated in the past and had then repeated the behavior again. I’m no expert, but I do believe that patterns don’t lie.
This whole situation really affected my husband. He wrestled with the idea that a man could work hard to build a relationship and a family and then destroy it with an affair.
No one knows what goes on behind closed doors. No one knows the true guts inside of a marriage. No one knows the breaking points of any one individual relationship.
Over some time, my husband continued to grapple with the fact that his friend had betrayed his spouse. I do wonder if this is because it made him think about what would happen if he cheated on me — which is fair. I think most married couples wonder about these things.
But to actually cheat —and destroy a family. That’s another thing altogether.
My husband tried to talk about this to me. He continued to try and explain away his friend’s behavior from him. But I wasn’t having it. I believed that if cheating had happened more than once or twice, it was likely to happen again.
Ultimately, this couple decided to get back together and try again. When my husband asked me about my opinion on this event, I stated that I believed any reconciliation between his friend and his wife would be a short-lived honeymoon period before another storm started brewing.
We disagree on this. We had different ideas about the whole situation based on our own personal experiences but, all in all, it was a good discussion to be had.
This whole experience forced us to reassess our marriage. It made us realize how fragile relationships can be and how quickly one decision can eviscerate a family.
This couple who dealt with infidelity could be us. It could be any couple.
My husband thought he might finally have a great male friend whose wife may have eventually become a good friend for me, as well.
Unfortunately, his friendship aspirations were dashed. He felt as though he could n’t be close to a man who had cheated on his wife from him. Perhaps he didn’t want to get too close to the flame of temptation himself. Empathizing with another man who had cheated on his wife and may be capable of doing it again could seem like a dangerous alliance for my husband.
I get it.
People aren’t perfect, which means they aren’t capable of having perfect romantic relationships. The same goes for friendships.
Trust is a difficult thing to gain — and men who have friendships with other men do care about the character of those friends they choose — probably much more than we as a society give them credit for.
In the end, it was an enlightening situation to watch another middle-aged couple go through the struggle of infidelity in real-time and observe how they attempted to navigate it. It affected my husband, which in turn affected me, and it subsequently influenced the way we view and operate within our own marriage.
Relationship reflection isn’t always comfortable. It can feel awkward and yucky to confront feelings that feel safer swept under the rug. Sometimes other people’s experiences force us to look at ourselves — and ultimately this is not only healthy — but essential.