This week, a working mom dealing with infidelity by not dealing with it at all: 45, married, Brooklyn.
9 a.m. I’m a dentist, as is my husband, so we have been juggling a lot considering we also have three kids. My office has stayed open during COVID, and I’m also helping out at a hospital, attending to dental emergencies, so it’s been very, very stressful. To make it even more stressful, just before COVID hit, I found out my husband had cheated on me. Before I had the chance to figure out what to do, we went into complete COVID survival mode.
10 a.m. I’m at work with my patients. We have a nanny with our kids. Essentially my salary goes to the nanny and my husband’s salary pays our rent. We are privileged in some ways but it’s not a glamorous lifestyle.
3 p.m. A long day hearing patients’ COVID stories and everyone’s struggles. Every single patient or colleague I know is struggling in one way or another. No one knows what’s going on in my home life, because I don’t talk about it — or even try to think about it. My mind just doesn’t have space to process this affair. The short version is, he slept with a long-time patient who he got close to since she’d see him every few months for a cleaning. He says she seduced him. I’m always very overwhelmed with work and motherhood and our sex life had kind of fallen apart — not that I’m to blame, but it’s a relevant detail that he was kind of sex-starved. We were having sex about once every three months and it wasn’t hot sex or anything.
So one night, they had a drink and the next thing he knew, they were in a hotel room together. The only reason I know is because one of his hygienists hinted to me that this woman had a crush on my husband, and the way she hinted at it seemed to imply a lot more. I started putting the pieces together. I also have access to his schedule and calendar so I knew the night he probably had drinks with her and the night he came home around 3 a.m., which is highly unusual. I confronted him about it and he confessed everything. He says it was a one-time thing and based on my investigations, I actually believe him on that.
4 p.m. Time to go home.
5 p.m. My nanny is trying to get my older kids (8 and 10) to do homework and my kindergartener is watching TV, which I try to limit but have given up on. The house is a mess. I Uber her home, like usual, so she doesn’t have to take public transportation.
8 p.m. My husband works late on Mondays and comes home with Indian food for us. He’s been on his best behavior since the affair came out. He’s scared to death of what I might do. Divorce him? Take the kids? I don’t know and I don’t mind keeping him on edge.
9 p.m. I am dead asleep every night by 9. My husband comes to bed a few hours later.
10 a.m. At work. Every day is survival. In normal times, I’d have three kids in school and my day job would be non-life-threatening and it would all be okay. Even the affair might be okay. We would have gotten therapy (no time for that now); we could have spent many nights drinking wine and spilling our guts (I’m too tired for that now); we could have either worked through it or tried to separate (zero interest in more drama at the moment).
4 p.m. I like to walk home as my exercise, and tonight I walked home and called my best friend, Frances. She knows everything. She thinks I need to divorce him. She’s very black-and-white with her morals and ethics. Is it terrible to say I don’t even want to deal with finding a divorce lawyer? I’m that burned out!
6 p.m. We eat dinner as a family. I reheat some amazing chicken-tortilla soup that I made on one ambitious day, and make a big salad. Of course I also heat about 30 chicken nuggets to feed my children. My husband and I drink wine while hearing about their days. It’s sweet. He’s a great dad. It would be so easy to never address the affair. But I know I need to … I mean, don’t I?
8 a.m. Word on the street is schools are closing soon. This doesn’t affect us since my kids are all remote (because of our jobs it seemed irresponsible to send them into classrooms). But there’s chaos in the air surrounding their schools. Such a shit show.
11 a.m. My most gorgeous patient has an appointment with me. He’s beautiful head to toe, including his teeth. If he flirted with me, I wouldn’t hate it. But he keeps it classy.
4 p.m. On my walk home from work today, I call my friend from college who is a divorce attorney. I tell him everything. I was shocked to hear him say that he doubts this is the first and only time my husband has strayed. When I ask why he would say such a thing, he gives me some line about how all men cheat if given the opportunity. I don’t think that’s true. But then again, I’m not a divorce attorney who lives this shit all day.
7 p.m. The phone call made me feel dirty, and less inspired than ever to pursue a divorce. I have a few extra glasses of wine tonight.
3 p.m. My husband texts that we should ask the nanny to stay for dinner tomorrow so that we can grab a bite out together. It’s about to get cold out, so this might be our last night to eat at a restaurant outdoors. I arrange it with my nanny but feel so anxious about the meal that I have to run to the bathroom a few times at work.
5 p.m. Walk from my office to the hospital I work at, about three miles away.
8 p.m. I work late at the hospital tonight. I’m very tired. I’m super drained. It’s even more depressing seeing patients here. I want to cry.
3 p.m. I leave early today so I can shower and look nice for dinner. At this point, getting dressed up is much more for me, not him. I haven’t tried to look pretty in several months. It’s nice to see myself with some makeup and a silky shirt that isn’t a huge sweatshirt or scrubs.
4 p.m. I get to play with the kids a little until dinner. I miss our old life.
7 p.m. I walk over to the restaurant where my husband is meeting me from work. I don’t know why I dressed up because I’m going to have to wear my huge parka coat through the entire meal. I think about what drink to order the entire walk over. It has to be just right. I land on a vodka martini.
7:30 p.m. It’s almost like a first date or something. We’re both a little anxious. We’ve been together 15 years and have three children and here we are, like flirty, nervous strangers. He puts his hands out across the table to “warm” mine. I let him. It calms my system to be touched by him.
8 p.m. The martinis keep rolling. We’re talking about the affair. I’m crying. He’s crying. I don’t hate him but I hate that this happened to us. I never needed to be perfect but this is not how I wanted our song to play. I tell him I just want all the facts and all the truths and at some point I will know what I plan to do with all the information. He swears I know everything there is to know. Can I trust him?
9 p.m. We go home just in time to tuck our kids in. We’re a little drunk and very emotional, so the tuck-ins involve lots of cuddles and kisses.
10 p.m. My husband is trying to be intimate with me but I just can’t. I don’t know if it’s the affair, or COVID, or all the vodka, but I just want to sleep.
8 a.m. It’s the weekend. I cherish these days even though they are long and messy and there’s never a moment for myself. My husband wakes up with me and the kids and starts on the coffee. He makes the best coffee and he knows I’m a sucker for it.
10 a.m. The day of socially distanced playdates and soccer and ballet begins. I’m thrilled to see my kids being kids but sad seeing them fully masked and unable to play normally.
3 p.m. We do an outdoor visit with friends who have a trampoline. I know my kids are jumping too close to the other kids but I can’t bring myself to break it apart. The couple who own the house are in an open relationship. They’ve never told us this but I know from friends. In a better situation, we would be drinking prosecco inside and telling them about our marriage and what we’ve been through. But it’s cold, and we have to police our kids, and we are masked, and it’s just not a good time for an intimate conversation.
9 p.m. I’m in bed watching TV alone. It’s been a long time since I masturbated. I try to but then I opt for sleep instead.
8 a.m. My husband moves toward me. He’s always hard in the morning. He’s kissing my neck. I happen to love his morning breath, I always have. Our kids are miraculously still sleeping. I let him make love to me. It feels so good. We both come pretty quickly. I’m not regretful.
1 p.m. The rest of the day feels a lot lighter. Sure, I released some tension with the orgasm but I think it’s much deeper than that. I think the sex gave us both hope that we might be okay, and hope is the most important feeling in the world.
6 p.m. I go for a jog around the neighborhood before dinner. I don’t want my husband to get away with murder; but I don’t want to burn down our marriage just because I feel like it’s my moral obligation. I still don’t know what to do, but perhaps I’m slightly less stuck.
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