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Love. Life.

Cheating for answers

/ 04:54 PM October 25, 2019
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Cheating is cheating, however you do it.

Temptations seem to be anywhere and just within reach nowadays – could be through a few clicks or taps of the gadget and there you go – you have your instant love life, virtual mistress or paramour. With the proliferation of different modes of communication, it has become a lot easier to break the matrimonial vow of loyalty and faithfulness. You just need a cellphone (or any gadget), headset and apps. With these, one can disrupt marriages and even wreck homes.

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I always thought my husband would never hurt me. I have always believed in the faithfulness of my husband and never did it cross my mind that he will cheat because I see him as an exceptional guy – a man whose love for me is strong enough to keep him away from temptations. But I was wrong.

I caught my husband cheating, having an online fling, as he claims. I have read their exchanges of messages, how they greet one another each day, update each other of their day’s activity, or simply say good night as they sleep with their own partners. I have seen how they have exchanged selfies along with I miss you’s. Some lines are familiar because my husband said the same things to me. Some pictures I can recognize because he had also sent those to me, as updates of his activity, and so on. Through the messages and pictures sent, I have seen a love story developed. Reading their conversations is like reading a typical “Why can’t it be” love story. I couldn’t believe I was reading what seems to be an ideal love story were it not only for the fact that the guy is already married – and hey, he is my husband.

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I could not forget that fateful night when I accidentally discovered my husband’s affair. It was late night after a drinking session and he was really inebriated. His phone vibrated and a message displayed “Pssst!” I’m not really into checking his phone because I trust him so much. All those years, I believed he was honest to me and could not do anything to hurt me. But it seems I believed in a fantasy. Out of curiosity, I opened the message, and I felt stabbed by it.

The evil truth unveiled. The saying that “the truth hurts” is certainly an understatement. I couldn’t describe the pain of being betrayed by the person I love and trust the most. It was disturbing and oddly enough, hilarious. It’s like saying I love you but I can kill you. I love you but I fell for somebody else. And the next questions I found myself asking were: What went wrong? What is lacking in me? Why did he cheat on me?

Fights led to more fights. Confrontations led to nothing but denial despite overwhelming evidence of infidelity. It was excruciatingly painful to think that there were days I was not the one making him smile; instead it was the thought of that girl or a selfie sent to him. I couldn’t help but wonder next if I was the one he was thinking about when we are making love, or was he wishing I was somebody else? I was devastated.

The situation created a monster in me – wanting to get even, wanting to hurt the persons responsible for the pain, responsible in betraying me.

Our marriage would have been easily destroyed as I was ready to give up. But I have seen how he regretted what happened. He asked for forgiveness and assured me that girl was nobody but an online fling, just a past time. But such assurance didn’t help ease the pain. Like a broken glass, my trust cannot be restored. For me, it was cheating no matter how he calls it.

On second thought, I have a family to protect, kids to raise, and dreams to pursue. Thus, no matter how deep the cut was, I managed to get up. It took time, but slowly, I picked up my broken pieces and found the path to forgiveness. It wasn’t easy but I made a choice. I may have forgiven him for the sake of the family that we built, for me to move on, but I can never forget. I could not find the strength to forgive and forget. I can only do one at a time perhaps. The family survived. The marriage was saved. But I was not the same person ever since.

God really has a way of teaching us lessons. There came a point when it was my turn to face the battle that my husband went through – overcoming temptations. I met a man at the prime of his life. I stumbled upon a guy that I first met a long time ago – young, full of zest and dreams, with a pretty face and an incredibly attractive smile. He used to be my student during his freshman and sophomore years. Now, he is all grown up, a young professional, an incredibly handsome bachelor. Am I too lucky that he had a crush on me as he claims in his messages? Yes, it all started with social media, we reconnected. This time, I am no longer the teacher he used to be afraid of – as he would say, he finds me young-looking for my age. We started with simple greetings, followed by what seemed to be harmless chats. Then he started flirting and I found myself smiling every time he sends messages. I didn’t notice, but I have been enjoying random conversations with him and even found myself telling him my biggest heartbreak. He became a constant chatmate. I looked forward to receiving his messages. Also, suddenly, I felt young.

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We started exchanging sweet messages and even naughty ones, justifying it with the reason that we are both adults, with a disclaimer that it all meant nothing. I didn’t know how all these were to him but everything to me was special – I was feeling something different. I hate to admit it but I thought I like him. I felt ok seeing him happy. It felt alright seeing him smile, seeing his face, a body part, his silhouette, the food he eats, places had been to, or just anything about him. Unexpectedly, my situation has changed. Am I the one cheating this time?

I immensely enjoyed our conversations. I started being interested in his personal affairs. I began fantasizing, wishing I was the young girl that he could be with and that I could personally see him and spend time with him. I wished I was born in a different time so that maybe we can end up together. What am I exactly doing? Am I falling for him? Is this possible, to fall for a guy simply by looking at his pretty unfiltered pictures, reading his messages, and imagining things which shouldn’t be? I was such a mess.

I would like to think it was simply an obsessive admiration for his stunning good looks. This couldn’t be because I am married and would be too old for him. I knew I must find a way to resist the temptation waving at me. Then memories flashed back, that of my husband and his girl. Was this how my husband felt when he was exchanging messages with her? Was he this excited? Did he long to spend time with that girl? Did he wish to be the man who could make that girl happy? Could I be worse than my husband as it appears that admittedly I am falling for the young man? I was after all enjoying the attention from him and reciprocating his alluring messages. What if this goes beyond online?

But one thing to me is sure – the situation is already a form of cheating. Reality indeed is painful. I became the one betraying my husband this time, breaking the vow of matrimony, and destroying the family we built and hope to protect. The moment somebody occupies your mind, the moment you give your attention to someone other than your partner, you are cheating.

The excuse “just online” is not valid because feelings are involved, our thoughts are occupied. I am old enough to set aside fantasies. I have my reality – a beautiful family. I thought what I was doing must stop. Yes, my husband sinned but this is not a justification for me to do the same. I can be the better person. I should be the better person. Perhaps, it was God’s way of teaching me a lesson – that I could not hold to that grudge for such a long time. If I want to move on, I should just lift everything to him, even the questions I long to be answered.

Through prayers, I surpassed the test of temptation. I realized the repercussions of my actions. Of course, I will not play saint. I know I have sinned, I know I cheated, in my own way, in my thoughts. It had to stop.

To that pretty face which almost lured me to temptation, thank you for making it clear that I am a human and that I have a choice – to be tempted or to stay strong. I wish you well and pray that you will soon find that woman who will make you happy, not just in your imagination, and who will love you the way that I wish to do but cannot, and someone who will be faithful to you no matter what. As I bid you goodbye, I want to thank you for making me smile and forget my pain for a while. If in the future we cross paths, you need not stop and pat my back, nor take a pause and turn your back. A simple greeting would be enough. Thank you for helping me end the quest for answers.

To my husband, forgive me, for I almost gave up on us. To this very day, while I still remember the pain you’ve caused me, I will not forget how we promised to be together no matter what. You will still be the person I will come home to – the man that I promised to love and to hold forever. Let’s start anew, with the lessons from our past. I forgive us.

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JM Tolentino lives and works in Manila. Writing was her first love. She also loves to cook and read books during her spare time. She is a wife and mother committed to protecting her family.

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Posted by INQUIRER.net on Wednesday, February 13, 2019

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TAGS: affairs, cheating, Dishonesty, extramarital affairs, faithfulness, Illicit relationships, infidelity, loyalty, Marriage, trust
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