I first met Mili when we were in the second year of college. She played Desdemona, the breathtaking beauty killed by her suspicious husband Othello. She gave perfect shape to the character on stage during our college fest. Little did I know that almost two decades later she would drive me to the pinnacles of suspicion. My wife cheated on me and drove me insane.
(As told to Saheli Mitra)
She was so honest, but still she cheated on me
Mili was pursuing a degree in literature at Jadavpur University, while I was doing engineering. It was not just her beauty that attracted me but her infectious personality.
Everything about her seemed to be honest. The more we got to know each other through common friends, the more I realised she was someone who spoke straight from her heart and never tried to hide her feelings or emotions.
I told myself, if a woman were this frank, she would always make the best and honest life partner. I was open to her thoughts and respected her views and honesty.
I never imagined that later in my life I would have to deal with the fact that my wife cheated on me and was dishonest in the relationship with me.
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Then why did Mili hide her affair with the man she met on a trip almost ten years after our marriage? I have no answer. Was it because she felt guilty deep down, that she was regularly sleeping with this man while still married to me?
Or was it that she felt who she sleeps with was not a husband’s business but was more about her freedom? Whatever she felt, she cheated on me.
We took vacations, we had mind-blowing sex, we laughed together, we made plans to start a family soon, yet I never had reason to believe that all along she was also meeting another man.
I caught my wife cheating
Until I accidentally discovered cards, letters, even gifted lingerie in our cupboard after returning from an official trip. Mili was not home, she had gone out with friends; at least that’s what she told me.
I had returned after almost two months, completing an assignment in USA. While putting away my wallet, my hands touched that packet. Even today I regret that. If only I hadn’t touched that.
My whole make-believe world crashed in a second. I won’t say my male ego was hurt that my wife was physically involved with another man. I was more hurt because she couldn’t reveal it to me or even leave me.
To believe that my Mili was no longer honest, was itself a shock. That very open frankness and honesty of hers that had attracted me in the first place was just a farce today.
Coming to terms with this while behaving normally was a Herculean task. Should I confront her or allow her to continue? I chose the latter.
I couldn’t afford to let her go, or reveal to the whole world that my wife left me for another man. It was my pride that hurt. A few close friends I spoke to felt it was a crime to love more than one man, and share beds with both.
I could have easily ended the marriage on charges of adultery, I had enough proof. We still had no kids, hence no reason to feel guilty. I kept asking myself I caught my wife cheating, what should I do?
Forgiving my cheating wife
I wanted to give love a chance. Love can never be snatched or forced. Like a stream unbound, it touches one when time comes. I decided to try out something new in our second innings.
Embarking on a journey of self-assessment. I realised a deep void had developed between us unconsciously all these years. We had drifted apart and I had never realised that.
For months, I had stayed away from home on projects, working almost 12 hours a day. I hardly ever read the poems she wrote, I no longer asked her about her creative workshops. We had grown apart in ways we had never imagined.
I took our marriage for granted, never allowing it to evolve for lack of time. Instead of giving any hint to Mili that I knew about her misadventures, I started investing more time at home.
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At times, she got jittery as constant phone calls came in at hours when I was usually away. I realised it was the other man calling.
Gradually she started ignoring the calls. I no longer played golf, but took her out for breakfast, gave a patient hearing to all her creative ventures.
Should I leave my wife after she cheated?
I won’t say this thought had not come to me. Many times I felt that I wouldn’t be able to continue with my cheating wife and wanted to call it quits.
There were times I felt like confronting her, blaming her for what happened but then again I thought maybe both of us were responsible for the fact that she cheated.
Getting over the fact that my wife cheated on me was not easy. I struggled every single day. But I decided to work on what had gone missing from the relationship and bring it back. I felt most irritated when those calls came but when I saw her ignoring those I got some hope.
And then one day, Mili broke down. She revealed she had cheated on me. But she didn’t love that man. It was for sheer physical pleasure. I just held her in my arms and said: “I knew all along.”
My faith was intact she still loved me. No matter what!
There are ways of looking at things. Instead of blame shifting I tried to understand where we had gone wrong and if we could salvage the relationship. I am glad we did make the effort.
(Names changed to protect identities)