What is the place of truth in an affair?
Is there a place for truth in an affair?
How about in a marriage?
Because as Christina looks at me with tears in her eyes and with the realization that I have been cheating on her, I know for a fact that truth will not leave my lips tonight. How is truth supposed to sit with this thing that you and I have?
I’d rather be sleeping if you ask me. It’s been a long day. I’m exhausted. All I want to do is fall asleep and not be bothered to explain anything. But this is marriage. It is made up of explanations and apologies.
This does make me a bad husband, I hear people judge. I hear people say that my wife is beautiful, asking why I would not just love her enough to not cheat on her with you. But people have no idea, do they? They don’t know that I said to myself, “Keep it in your pants, Jack. Julie is not worth it. This will hurt Christina deeply. This will destroy your marriage.” They don’t know that I said these things in my head but still found myself driving to your place and unzipping my pants at the sight of you, do they? Does this mean that my love for my wife is not strong enough? Is it nonexistent after all? Does this mean that my love for you is stronger than that for my wife, the woman I vowed to forsake everyone else for? If I’m willing to destroy my marriage by breaking my wife’s trust in me, does it mean that when push comes to shove, I will leave my wife for you?
If truth be told, I haven’t thought about it that far.
Christina has asked me who you are. The first response that comes to mind is that the flower shop made a mistake. “They must have given me someone else’s flowers. Look at this. I didn’t even notice it read Julie instead of Christina.” These words just stumble out of my mouth unplanned. Unrehearsed. “Come on, you don’t really think there’s a Julie somewhere that I was sending the flowers to, do you?” Yeah. I’m ashamed of myself.
“Don’t lie to me, Jack.”
“Why would I lie to you? Have I ever lied to you?”
“So where are you coming from at this hour of the night?”
“I thought I told you. I had a pile of work to get through.”
“Work that couldn’t wait until tomorrow?”
“What kind of question is that? If it could wait, do you think I would voluntarily opt to stay in the office working to this hour? Come on Christina. What’s with the interrogation? Don’t you trust me?”
My wife shakes her head and heads to bed. I know for a fact that this conversation is not over. In bed, I face the closet, she faces the wall. This is us now. I don’t know how we got here, but this is us for the moment. I’m on the furthest edge of the bed and my wife is on the other. Invisible between us is you, Julie.
But also, invisible between us in this big matrimonial bed is a truth that I find hard to swallow. A truth I’ve known for a year of these four years that I’ve been married to Christina. A truth that the universe conveniently kept away from me when we got married only to share it with me when I had the baggage of recited vows and a wedding ring hanging heavily on my conscience.
So is there a place for truth in an affair or is everything a lie?
Christina is staring at me when I open my eyes at daybreak. We managed to fall asleep without saying a word to each other. I can tell from her expression that she’s armed with words.
“Is it because of what the doctor said last year?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I do know what she’s talking about. But where is the place for truth in an affair? Part of me resents my wife for not being able to give me what I need at this point in my life. Part of me feels tricked by this thing called marriage. I promised to forsake all others thinking that my wife could give me everything I could ever want from a woman. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work? If you choose one over the rest, isn’t the one supposed to do everything on behalf of the rest?
This feels like a poker game where I played all my cards when I went down on one knee to ask my wife to marry me and yet a hand was hidden from me. A hand that could have made me get off that knee and rethink this whole marriage thing. Don’t get me wrong. I loved my wife. I love my wife. I don’t know.
“Just tell me the truth, Jack. Spit it out. There’s no point in playing games. We’re both adults here.”
Christina has got some nerve, you know. Because how does she expect me to respond? Because this game was rigged from the get-go. Am I supposed to tell her that I’m a heartless son of a bitch who loves her, yes, but that I stayed up all night wondering whether my love for her was strong enough to uphold the promises I made? “I choose you, and I’ll choose you over and over and over. Without pause, without a doubt, in a heartbeat, I’ll keep choosing you.” I had written these words on a card when I sent her flowers after the doctor’s visit. It now seems like a lifetime ago. I don’t recognize the man who wrote those words anymore. My wife had gone ahead and stuck this particular card on our closet door because for some reason, those words struck a chord with her. The flowers had died but those words had remained. They now mock me every time I open the closet. “I’ll keep choosing you.”
But was I choosing her, really?
But was this even a fair choice to make? Here I was breaking another vow. Here I was turning promises into empty words again. What had I become? What had marriage turned me into?
If you ask me, was I having an affair because my wife could not bear children for me? I’ll say that question is reductive.
But then again, is there a place for truth in an affair?
To be continued.