(As told to Tuli Banerjee)
It was a Sunday afternoon and we had a hot, steamy sex session. Things had been great between us! I had to get to work and hubby said he would take a quick shower and drop me. He left his phone on the bedside as he entered the bathroom. I don’t know what struck me and I picked up his phone and browsed – and what did I find? He had been sexting her, that too 2 mins after we had a 45-min lovemaking session!
That’s when I realised that she is back in our lives. Yes, she, his ex, the girlfriend he had for 8 long years before we got married. Ours was an arranged marriage and right on our second meet, my to-be hubby had told me about his relationship with a girl, whom he had been sure to marry. But out of the blue, misunderstandings cropped up between him and his girlfriend when he had to leave town for a new job. Even though he used to come home every weekend, he found out that his girlfriend had been cheating on him. He met her and had broken the relationship off with her, with a proper closure.
‘That ship has sailed’
He had assured me that he is getting into this arranged marriage alliance with no plans of a rebound with his ex-girlfriend. He said then that he hates her and would never even want to see her face ever. But then what was this? One year after marriage I found them texting. He was smart enough to delete the texts after every interaction – so I couldn’t scope out much of the details except the fact that they are on talking terms.
The texts I read included sexual forwards from both sides. When I confronted him, he said I was overreacting, and that it was just a few forwards that he sent, he didn’t feel like he was doing anything wrong.
It’s like the elephant in the room. He never explained his feelings or actions. My husband says that they are not meeting one another in person (she lives in the same city), but I’m not sure. I feel betrayed, and it’s kept eating away at me.
Talk to me
I resented him and had a lot of anger. Today, as I recount the incident, it feels as fresh to me as it did five years ago. So what did I do? Did I file for a divorce or fight with him? No. I realised that reconnection is a way for people to deal with unresolved feelings (like unresolved anger at a betrayal) that may have occurred in the past. I sat with my hubby one day over drinks and asked him what he still feels for his ex. Why do I find him browsing through her Facebook page even now?
I’m glad that I asked him this because his answer made me happier than I could imagine. He said that he checks her profile pics and other pics because he is so happily married with me and wonders what had attracted him to her. He texts her for her clichéd replies and laughs as he realises that with me he now has a companion with whom he can bare his heart, with whom he can connect not just physically but intellectually too. (Did I mention that I am his drinking partner and an official bartender for all the years we have been married? Yes, what more does a man look for in his wife?)
I know this may seem a little ungrateful, and however petty it may sound, it is a human tendency to compare the past lover with the present partner, the past relationship with the present. Believe it or not, we robotically start comparing relationships that have ended for us with those that are in full bloom.
I was imagining that my husband was grappling with mixed feelings and perhaps even feeling a loss (as clichéd as it sounds) with the reality that his ex-girlfriend has finally replaced him. Even though I would have liked to believe that he found heaven being with me, but I could see that he was not completely happy having me. Though he did not tell me this, I think he too might be feeling the loss of her rejecting him. He may not like to share it bluntly, but I can understand that little pieces of an ex still emotionally lie with you, and with those pieces come to the feelings of nostalgia – and I am completely fine with these feelings that he goes through.
But, I realised that with the amount of love and comfort my husband gave me, it is unlikely that he was looking to genuinely reconnect with her. This was much more about the finality of their closure and him moving on and the impact she had on him. Over the drinks, my husband realised that something so trivial to him was something very huge for me. He assured me that he would no more stay connected with his ex if that was the cause of my hurt.
In today’s era of Facebook and Twitter, maintaining contact with exes is pretty common. Whether it indicates a problem with your current relationship depends mostly on why you keep in touch.
Rising above the ex
There’s always an ex of some kind in our lives. It’s when there’s still an emotional ‘pull’ for our man that we start paying attention and take good care of ourselves. That’s exactly what I did. I remained my usual warm, sweet, inviting, authentic and positive magnet so he started feeling safe to return to me. I kept my calm and resisted becoming defensive and angry. Having married my husband after rejecting 30 odd proposals… the marriage is worth a little work to get through a rough patch.
I’ve been an ex to a man who never gave another thought to me, I’ve played second-fiddle to my husband’s ex and today I feel have been successful in erasing all thoughts of the ex from my man’s mind and heart. My man could still be with her! Or single! Or could be having sex with a household object! He is not doing any of those things because he wants to be with me. I’m awesome! And I keep reminding myself of that!