He left without so much as a kiss on the cheek. No ‘I love you’. No ‘have a nice day’.
He was silent over his morning coffee and didn’t sleep well last night. This is not like him.
I refuse to believe that that tucked-away thought is my reality. All men cheat but I was hoping mine didn’t. I was hoping that I would be good enough, or simply enough; enough to satisfy him.
I don’t want to believe that a paper-pusher across town has sunk her claws into my husband. I could never accept that, whether it is true or not. I could never accept that after years of being a faithful loving wife and giving my all, my husband who vowed “till death do us part” could become emotionally and/or physically involved with another woman. Never!
It was nearing noon and I called his office to let him know I was thinking of him and that I love him. His perky young secretary kindly let me know that he was out on lunch. Calls to his cell phone went unanswered.
My mind began to over think as usual and now I am convinced he is having an affair. There was makeup on his shirt last month and a few weeks ago he came home smelling different. How could he do this to me? How could he hurt me this way? He might as well kill me.
Benjamin came home that night and was particularly quiet. He had something on his mind. Her perhaps. Was she the first? Is she the only one? How long has this been going on?
I made his favourite dinner and kept telling him how much I loved him. He didn’t seem to notice any of it. In bed, I told him that I felt as though there was some distance between us. He asked what I was talking about. He doesn’t see anything being different. He held me. Kissed me on the forehead and fell asleep with his arms around me. He had a bad dream that night.
He left for work earlier that day after a strange phone call. I couldn’t tell who was on the other line or what the call was about. I decided to follow him.
On the way, he passed his turn-off for work. My heart sank. He drove for 10 minutes into town and stopped on a busy street. Once out of the car he crossed the road and entered a place we had never been and he said he would never go. Through the glass window of the bakery I saw a woman rise to greet him. He kissed her on the cheek and then sat. My heart broke.
I drove home. I didn’t cry. Not until I entered the kitchen and saw the breakfast items I had laid out to make my husband breakfast. I fell to the floor, shattered. In my brokenness it all made sense. This woman’s make up was on his shirt. He came home smelling like her. We had not had sex in a week! I know that last bit sounds silly but you don’t know my husband. You don’t know me. You don’t know us.
The only thing that didn’t make sense was how I was going to handle this. I didn’t know what to do. It hurt too much. How would I let him know I knew of this affair? How would he react? What was going to happen to our marriage? It was just too much to handle and think about.
I went back to my routine but this time I made breakfast earlier so he had no excuse to not eat it. I dressed sexier so he would find me attractive again. I did all the things I knew he liked. But all that got me was a kiss on the cheek, “I love you, have a great day” and “I’m not hungry”.
This went on for three weeks and he kept coming home later and later. He was always too tired for sex and was very careful of what he would say to me. I was so broken and drained I felt betrayed and that life was not worth living any more. I was existing.
Then he called one evening telling me to get dressed, he had something he wanted to tell and show me. Good Lord! He was going to tell me of his affair in the presence of his mistress!? What had my life come to? I got dressed and he picked me up. He told me nothing about where we were going and did his nervous finger tap the entire journey there.
He stopped the car the same place he did when I had followed him weeks earlier.
“Look, Benjamin, I have something to say to you.”
“Can it wait? This is really important and I have to show you.”
I bit my lips and followed him to what I knew would be the end of my sanity and life. The bakery was dark as we crossed the road and approached it. He had a key for the door and as be opened it he began his soliloquy.
“When I married you, I told myself I would do anything to keep you happy. I know things have not been going great lately and I noticed that you have been sad a lot. What is even worse was that I couldn’t seem to make you happy any more.”
“Benjamin, I know…”
“Let me finish. You said I have been distant lately and that’s true. I have had a lot on my mind recently and I may have lost sight of my priorities. I forgot a lot of promises I made to you and concerning you but..”
Then he switched the lights on “… I hope this makes it up to you.”
And there it was. A spotless, empty shop space with fresh paint.
“What is this?”
“Remember how determined you were to open your own diner after you had quit your job last year? I saw how hard you took it when nothing seemed to be working out. When I heard that this place was going on the market I knew I had to get it for you so I got the money together, made a bid and got it. I even got some of the fixtures that you like for the kitchen. Catherine, it’s all yours. I just want you to be happy and that dream of having a diner made you happy.”
I stood there just shaking my head while looking at him. Then I grabbed him and hugged him. I remembered why I fell in love with him in the first place; his big heart and the fact that he is always so kind.
“Thank you so much Ben. Honey, I have something to say. I was suspicious and followed you here a few weeks ago and I saw you with another woman. I thought you were cheating on me.”
“You followed me? What?“
“I know. I’m sorry. I just felt so insecure after the way things have been between us lately.”
“Catherine, I came here to buy the place. I’ve been here after work getting it cleaned and put together for you. I would never cheat on you, love.”
“I know, but what about the makeup on your shirt?”
“Sweetheart, that was your makeup, from our quickie in the kitchen. I accidentally wore the shirt another day forgetting it was soiled.”
“So this is what had you so distant? You weren’t cheating?”
“I feel like such an idiot. I’m sorry.”
“Never. Just know that everything I do, it is for you and you alone. I love you.”
He was still the wonderful man I fell in love with and married. And so, I learned my suspicions are not always right.