Last year, when my husband took me to St. Lucia for my birthday, he booked a large open-air suite that had been lovingly handcrafted out of 20 different species of rain-forest wood. The first evening, we slipped into our own private infinity plunge pool to watch the sunset over the Pitons. I poured myself a glass of Champagne and thought about how far we’d come since my husband told me, ten months earlier, that he was boarding a plane to London to be with another woman. He came back to me two weeks later. He’d decided the affair was an ill-conceived midlife Rumspringa. He cried, expressed remorse, said he didn’t know what had come over him. And now, here we were in St. Lucia: This was my reward.
My husband paddled over and hugged me. “I love you,” he said. I looked at the naked, beaming, flush-faced man in front of me. He could have left me for a bisexual Swedish nymph. Instead, he chose to stay and work on our marriage — and himself. He’d spoken to the general manager, scored a suite with a view.
Suddenly, I was seething. “I love you too,” I said slowly. “But you know what? Sometimes I want to smack the shit out of you.”
“That’s understandable,” my husband said. “I guess.” He gulped his Champagne. I could feel his erection fading.
“You fucked another woman and lied to me about it,” I said. “I know we’re supposed to be feeding each other chocolate-covered strawberries and having mind-blowing makeup sex. But I’m feeling that I just want to punch your sorry face.”
“The person who did those things — I don’t recognize that person,” my husband said. “That person wasn’t me.”
“But it was you,” I said. “And if you had an ounce of moral fiber, you’d admit it.”
“I do admit it,” said my husband. “And I’m so sorry about all of it. I was an asshole.”
I swam to the pool’s edge, away from him. “Good,” I said. “Now say it louder.”
“I was such an asshole!”
“Louder, please,” I said.
“I was such an asshole!” he screamed. “I was a pathetic, cheating asshole.”
“You told me I wasn’t enough,” I said. “You said I spent too much on the kids’ birthday parties and Korean face masks.”
“I was such an asshole!” my husband yelled.
“You told me that although the sex was better with me, you felt a stronger emotional connection with her.”
“Did I say that? I was such a fucking asshole!”
“You told me this wasn’t an affair but an ‘authentic life-partner relationship.’ ”
“Jesus Christ, I was an asshole!”
“Louder,” I said. “I want everyone in the resort to hear you.”
My husband dunked his head underwater and resurfaced.
“I. Was. Such. An. Asshole!” He punched and slashed the air with his hands.
I swam to the middle of the pool, exhausted from crying and too much Champagne and fair-trade chocolate. My husband swam up beside me and held me.
“You were such an asshole,” I said softly.
“I know,” he said.
*This article appears in the April 1, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!