There were still things I did not explore with that counselor, Phil, because I was still hiding my previous affairs. I was afraid he would see I was hiding additional sins. The one we were discussing was catastrophic, even if it had been the only one. I was also ashamed, deeply ashamed of the additional sins I was hiding. Why did I continue to hide those additional sins? Self-protection. Cowardice. I wanted to take those secrets to my grave.
Meanwhile, I also wanted to take my newfound intimacy with TL and build it into a better relationship than we had before. Yes, TL and I were more intimate than we had been since our courtship. It was painful, shameful, frightening, and devastating. But, it was intimate. No one in the world but TL would go through all that with me. I owe her the world.
TL questioned me about every detail of the affair. At first, I resisted telling her things I thought would be particularly hurtful. I feared her rage. I feared losing her. I was ashamed to admit all the gory details. She asked me again and again and again to fill in details. It took me weeks to get the courage or desperation to tell her some of the worst details: I had given the AP a rose, I had taken the AP to a public event, I had invited her to our home and had sex in our bed, I had taken her to TL’s gym, and I had skipped a workout to lie in bed with her.
I yearned to go on building a better relationship with TL. Her devastation was deep. To this day, nearly 34 months later, she still struggles with fear, pain, doubt, and anger. I have now told TL every detail about everything. She still has questions and doubts. I probably would too, if the roles were reversed.
Understandably, TL had anger at the AP, in addition to anger at me. The AP kept writing demanding her belongings be returned, insisting that I contact her and only then would she provide an address. TL wanted to write the AP, she wanted to deride her for giving me herpes, she wanted to tell the AP that her things had been destroyed. TL asked me to write a stronger and more effective letter to the AP, making it clear the affair was over and was meaningless. I did not do that until after second D-day. At that point, after first D-day, I did not, for two reasons. One, I feared the AP might respond with details that would reveal my previous affairs, reveal that she was not the one to give me herpes, or rehash details that would be hurtful to TL. Two, I genuinely thought it would be safer to ignore the AP and not prompt her to do or say anything that might reveal our affair to the world.
TL and I went on our previously planned visit to my parents. We had had a troubled history with my parents already. As you’ll read later, my mother is critical and petty. In many ways, she’s mentally ill. In addition to my other sins, I had a long history of being cowardly toward my mother. There were several memorable moments throughout my marriage with TL when my mother said or did unbelievably rude things to TL, things normal people certainly don’t say out loud.
With that in the background, I made a concerted effort to be brave, be genuine, defend my wife when necessary, and show my wife affection in front of my mother. I had previously been too cowardly even to be relaxed and affectionate with TL in front of my mother. My mother had wanted very much for me to remain single, and perhaps to be gay, to have no binding ties in my life except my mother. I did not do as my mother wished. But, I did fear her criticism, her mumbled comments under her breath, her disapproving glances, and her temper tantrums. So, I had fallen into an unconscious habit of hiding my true personality from my mother, curtailing my affection for others in front of her, and resignedly accepting her criticism and childish behavior. I vowed to TL and to myself that I would take this opportunity to grow up and love and defend my wife like an adult man. I believe I finally succeeded.
TL and I returned to our home. We threw out our bedding and rearranged the bedroom. We continued the long struggle to recover and improve our relationship.