“If twenty percent of couples are affected by infidelity, then who do you think that might be in our circle of friends?”
It was a favourite game my former husband and I played after leaving our monthly get-together with the other moms and dads from our son’s preschool class.
“Well out of ten couples that means there should be at least two affected. Howard for sure!” It was common knowledge that Howard had messed around with his secretary; I knew it before I met him. We lived in a small town.
“What about his wife? Do you think she did it for revenge?”
Eileen was so black and white about things and never afraid to speak her mind. “I can’t imagine it. Bet she gave him a hard time though.”
“What about Gilda and John?”
“No, they’re too tight.”
“He was flirting with you, I noticed.”
“He was just being nice, making sure I was having a good time. He’s like that.” Gilda had confessed to me on two different occasions that she kept her man happy with lots of sex. I didn’t think it could be them.
Grace and Stephen were very religious, so I didn’t think it could be them. Besides, I went to school with him, and he was always just a decent guy. Ken and Dora would kill each other if anything like that happened, and they were very vocal about it.
“What about Kay and Britt? Do you think they even do it?’
We both laughed. Britt was such an old man, always moaning about everything, and Kay just constantly appeared zoned out.
“Sherry, maybe… she’s got this odd relationship with an old fling from high school days. Pretty sure she sneaks out to meet up with him and Bill doesn’t know about it.”
“Really, you think Sherry is like that?”
“I do, and it’s a shame. Bill is so committed to her; he’d do anything to make her happy.”
“Bryce and Noel?”
“Doubt it. They’re like Barbie and Ken – the perfect couple.”
“What about us?” The conversation always ended up here. Him asking me.
“Well, I for one would never. You?”
Thinking back now, I don’t remember his answer. I felt secure in my marriage, and was pretty sure that my husband’s external interests extended only as far as his hobby race car.
Turned out I was wrong about a lot of things. Kay left Britt for another woman, Bryce had an affair with a co-worker who didn’t look anything like his Barbie wife, and both Sherry and Eileen were intimate with none other than my husband. Eileen for an extended period of time.
After the divorce, many of our friends said: “You must have known!” But, the thing is, I didn’t. I trusted him fully.
In retrospect the whole post-party Who-do-you-think-is-cheating? game must have been his way of testing the waters. How smug he must have felt all along. Not sure of the full extent of his infidelity, but I learned that it spilled over into many of our social circles.
Don’t know why I’m thinking about this today, except that I dreamt about Gilda last night. Gilda of the “make sure there’s enough sex” ilk. Did she know what was happening? Was that her way of trying to give me a heads up?
No one said anything to me while we were married, but the stories came flooding in after. I remember feeling a kind of betrayal from all our friends, but would I have believed them if they had told me? Probably not. I was guilty of a combination of naiveté and deep denial.
How would you handle the situation if you knew a friend’s spouse was being unfaithful? Did it happen to you and did you know at the time?
Writer, avid reader, former educator, and proud grandmother, currently experiencing life through the lens of ME/CFS. Words are, and always have been, a lifeline. Some of the best adventures, I'm discovering, take place in the imagination.