Afrisonet: Universally African and Socially Responsible.
We are on the path to the total discovery of the people in today's Africa. Repositioning, to have a way, a say and to make a difference!
WHILE I have been incredibly hurt by Doug’s repeated infidelities, the real twist of the knife has to be how naive I’d been for so many years. The bitter irony, of course, is that I am a relationship counselor, giving couples advice on how to avoid affairs.
Yet all the time, infidelity was going on right under my nose – and I never spotted it. When I met Doug in 1980 at a dinner with friends in Battersea, London, it wasn’t lust at first sight. But he was a pleasant, chatty guy and just a year younger than me. I’d been married once before, to a man 14 years older, but we’d divorced after five years. When I started seeing Doug, I was really hopeful that we might have a future together. He seemed very sincere.
Two years later, in 1982, I was thrilled when we were married in South-West London. Now, when I think that within six months he was cheating on me with an ex-girlfriend, I just want to scream. How could he have betrayed me so callously?
I guess I was taken in for so long because Doug never struck me as a Jack-the-Lad type. He is not a flirt and he doesn’t come out with cheesy chat-up lines. In short, he does not fit the description of men I have known to stray. It just goes to show that there is no type, and you never can tell.
To all appearances, Doug and I had an ideal partnership. He was a doting father figure to Nicky, now 31, my daughter from my previous marriage, and four years after we wed, I gave birth to Rob, then Mike a few years later. Once the children were old enough to be left with babysitters, we spent a lot of quality time together. Not many weekends went by without a trip to the theatre or cinema and a meal out.
Every year, we went on a family holiday. All our friends would say we had the ideal relationship. Occasionally, if Doug went out drinking with his friends, I quizzed him about what he’d got up to and whether any women had shown him any interest. He was always adamant that nothing of the sort had happened. It didn’t cross my mind that he might be lying. I didn’t rifle through his pockets for evidence or check his shirt-collars for lipstick stains.
He went on regular business trips, yes – but he was my husband and I trusted him implicitly. But by 2005, something between us had slipped away: we had stopped having regular sex.
I thought it was normal in a long term relationship for the physical side to wane, and persuaded myself that there was more to marriage than sex. Now I know that I was oblivious to the cracks that were developing. However, that same year, a friend recommended a self-help weekend, and I thought it wouldn’t hurt if I went. I thought it might help me address the issues of physical closeness in our relationship.
I was working part-time as a beautician then, so I had no trouble taking time off. Doug, who was starting up his property investment business at the time, stayed at home. By the end of the weekend, I was inspired. I wanted to train to be a relationship counselor, and I was also sure I could inject some desire back into our marriage.
I went home to Doug and excitedly told him all about the weekend. He responded really well and we talked about moving to a new area and making a fresh start. However, we didn’t rekindle our love life, and a few months later when Nicky fell pregnant and Mike started his GCSEs, our plans for a new life dwindled as quickly as they started. But with everything else so busy in our lives, it didn’t seem to matter that we still weren’t having sex. I started training to be a counselor, and after a year I was qualified to lecture others on how to cure a troubled love life or mend a broken relationship.
With this newfound skill, I came to realize that the cracks in my marriage could grow to be huge chasms unless something was done. What I still did not realize was just how much Doug had betrayed me already. In October last year, determined to be pro-active about my marriage, I invited Doug to come on a week-long relationship coaching course. After much cajoling, he agreed, and together we flew out to the Austrian Alps. The idea was to boost the emotional and physical intimacy between us.
At first it was great. We had deep conversations about what we wanted from the marriage, and about our personal needs. I really felt as if we were getting somewhere and felt closer to Doug than I had in years. But on the fourth day, he became very quiet and withdrawn and said he’d rather be on the golf course than in the Alps. I tried to talk to him about it, but he snapped and went off on his own.
When he came back, he took me to our room, stood before me and dropped the bombshell that nearly destroyed me. “I’ve been unfaithful to you repeatedly throughout our marriage,” he said. “I’ve had plenty of one-night stands, and even had an affair with your friend Juliette.” It was like a punch to the stomach. I stood rooted to the spot, staring at the man I thought I knew better than anyone else in the world, almost unable to comprehend. Then I calmly walked out of the room and into the hotel grounds, where I burst into tears and sobbed hysterically. Suddenly, I started piecing together the clues that had been there over the years: the nights out, work trips abroad, our dwindling sex life. How could I not have seen and above all, a voice was telling that here I was, a relationship counselor who spent her time telling other women how to look out for seeing tell-tale signs, yet I’d ignored my own. But what hurt me most was the affair he’d had with Juliette. She had been my best friend for years.
When I’d lost my father two years earlier, Juliette was one of the first people I turned to. But now I knew that she’d been sleeping with my husband, I felt sick. I wanted to shout my fury in her face. I’d always loved the fact that she’d got on so well with Doug; now I felt like such a fool.