…Yet more on how dishonesty corrodes choice, agency, cooperation, authenticity, connection, and the deep sense that someone is genuinely looking out for you and your best interests.
In fall of 2016, we began planning an international trip for the following summer. In my mind, this trip would be one to help us reconnect. We would focus on attaining a goal together and enjoy the fruits of our labors together. DH encouraged me to take a little more work a couple nights a week while he took care of our little one. What I did not know is that while I thought we were cooperating to ultimately benefit our young family, he was getting me out of the way so that he could develop his other relationships. We were not in fact cooperating. I was being taken advantage of. Our relationship was no longer mutualistic. This was reflected in other arenas of our life as well. DH had stopped working and schooling, but he insisted that we still needed the nanny to come twice weekly for his sanity, so that he could pursue business interests. I tried to be supportive, so we kept the nanny on. He also did very little work around the house except for what was actually required for building maintenance. I did the laundry, the dishes, the vacuuming, the cooking, the accounting. I took care of the pets, bathed our child, tended our garden. I brought in all of the money. I did the majority of the household chores. I wondered what he did all day when he was home with our child or while he had his free time while our nanny was around. I approached him repeatedly and asked for more help. I got very little.
We also started drinking more with dinner and DH tuned out more and more. At least twice a week, I had to struggle to get my drunk husband to bed. He had apparently also started lying about the amount of alcohol he consumed. Where I would be tipsy from two drinks, he would be slurring his speech and stumbling around. I repeatedly asked him if he was drinking more than he said. He claimed he was not, and eventually I insisted he go to the doctor to see if there was something medically wrong with his alcohol amylase levels. He would try to start drunken conversations about what he was going through, his various dissatisfactions with life, but these would only come out incoherently after he was several drinks in, more than he would admit to having consumed. When I would follow up in the morning and ask him about what he was trying to tell me, he would dismiss his ramblings as the alcohol.
It was obvious to me that he was struggling with his new life as a husband and father, and I tried to be supportive and understanding. As a child, I had witnessed the depths of my mother’s depression and had personal experience with my own bouts. I knew what I was looking at, though I did not know all of the facets of DH’s. I tried to help DH pull out of his downward spiral. I helped DH foster hobbies, some of which were expensive and kept me up into the night. I felt more and more like I was being taken advantage of, like I was doing all of the hard work to keep our relationship and household running, while he was wasting into a depression and demolishing our life together with his betrayals. I did not realize until later that DH’s lies had burrowed into the foundation of our relationship and eroded his ability to work for the benefit of himself, his wife, and his child. They eroded his ability to be true to me and to himself. Cooperation and connection were replaced by exploitation. Authenticity was replaced by chaos and depression. Another huge realization that I had was that in DH’s choice to pursue his affairs, to initiate them and keep them going, he was not looking out for my best interest. He had abdicated that sacred responsibility the moment he chose to betray my trust in him. He had abandoned us and he had been abandoned by others.
Long term relationships require trust at the most basic and the most complex of levels. In long-term, intimate relationships, the partners’ lives are intertwined within one another’s. Every choice made, every action taken vibrates down the strings of the relationship. So cheating is never just simply cheating. Infidelity is the rotten string that unravels the Gordian knot of intimate relationships. It is inextricably bound to trust, self-authenticity, self-worth, self-image, honor, integrity, connection, cooperation, the intangible but nevertheless crucially important parts of our lives that comprise our how we see ourselves and tell our stories.