After ten years of marriage, my sex life with Reed started to disappear. I thought it must be what happens when you’ve been together awhile, or that he just wasn’t as attracted to me as he was when we met. But whenever I asked about this he reassured me that wasn’t the case. When I questioned him about his increasing emotional and often physical unavailability, he would say that he was really busy with a project at work, or tired, or distracted. These were his lies. But after the project ended, or he got some rest, or the kids got older, or his mother moved away, or whatever excuse he had given me passed and still nothing changed, I decided to take action. I started going to the gym, I got my hair cut the way it was when we first started dating, and I even bought some new lingerie to try to get his attention. Still nothing. And he just kept coming home later and later, spending half his time when he did get home on the computer with the door closed—all the time saying he was up for a promotion and needed to really perform for work. Then came the day my laptop died and I borrowed his to check my email, only to find literally hundreds of pictures and videos of nude women, a lot of them amateurish, which led me to believe they came from women he knew. I was stunned. At that moment I literally had no idea what to do, so I just left his laptop open on the kitchen table so he’d see it when he got home.
Confronted with clear evidence of his infidelity, Reed did what most cheaters do. He admitted to some of what he had done… and he covered up a whole lot, too, telling Emma that yes he’d looked at porn, and yes, he’d downloaded a lot of images and videos, but he swore he wasn’t in contact with any of the women (a lie), and he hadn’t had any affairs (another lie). Eventually, the full extent of his behavior was revealed during a month-long period of crisis-related couples counseling—most of the information coming out piecemeal even though Emma had requested from day one to “simply know the truth.” Reed’s staggered disclosure just made things worse for Emma.
He kept swearing to me, “This time I’m telling you everything.” Or sometimes he would get angry, saying, “Why do you keep bugging me? I’ve told you the truth.” But then a few days or a week later there would be another revelation or I’d find something new on his cell phone or computer. Eventually, my faith in him and his willingness to tell me the truth was so thoroughly destroyed that I started to feel like Humpty Dumpty. He had knocked me over and shattered me over and over, and I just wasn’t sure that he or I or anyone else could put me back together again. Throughout this process I felt like my life-foundation was crumbling beneath me. The truth was awful, the lies were worse. I quickly turned into someone I barely recognized, shouting and raging at him one moment, eating and spending his money as fast I could to feel better (extract revenge) the next. Within a few weeks I couldn’t concentrate at home or at work, and I nearly lost my job. If I hadn’t worked there for so long, I probably would have.
Why Disclose Past Infidelity?
Betrayed partners such as Emma often ask for complete disclosure. Reasons for this include: