What Cheating On My Husband With My Hairdresser Did To Our Marriage
Article submitted by: Jean Barkley
A brutally true story of how cheating can affect a marriage.
This true story about one woman’s experience with adultery is 100% real. As with all of our real-life stories of infidelity and heartbreak, some identifying details and all names have been changed to protect the individuals involved. This story of a marriage on the brink is told by “Janet.”
Mark and I were married nearly 20 years.
We have four wonderful children; Julie, age ten; Denise, age twelve; Anthony, age fifteen; and Michael, age seventeen. Mark has always been a great participant in parenting. If there was a contest as to the world’s greatest father, I think our children would nominate him and I would second the motion.
In fact, everything Mark did was exemplary. I always felt inferior to his abilities and accomplishments. The only way I felt I could measure up to Mark was to be so pretty and sexy that he wouldn’t notice all my shortcomings and if he did, he would hopefully ignore them. He would often say, “It’s a good thing you’re so cute!”
We lived in the gilded ghetto.
Everyone in our community were either millionaires, close to being millionaires or multi-millionaires. All the wives had Botox, facial fillers like Juvederm, Restiyn, silicone, etc. The plastic surgeons could make a living just from the women in my community.
I’m sure they had a few male patients as well. The women had everything imaginable worked on. My neighbor even had her vagina fixed; and I don’t mean tightened. She had that procedure done years ago. She told me she had it made “prettier.” Anyway, you get the picture by now.
All the husbands worked long, hard hours and most genuinely wanted to give their wives and children the best that money could buy. The kids all went to private schools. They all played in some kind of sport activity, had far too much homework and many were so overloaded with extracurricular activities that they were worn out each evening, hardly able to get up for school without prodding from their parents.
They were under pressure to perform and succeed, so their teachers and parents could feel better about themselves. The competition was outrageous. We were creating the next generation of automatons. Many of my girlfriends, who are moms, stay in bed each morning until everyone leaves.
Some, like me, wake up early to make breakfast. Some have live-in nannies and many kids just have to figure out what to eat on their own. Mark was not a typical husband and father. I guess one might think of him as obsessive/compulsive. I certainly did. He had to be the best.
His compulsivity affected his health. He developed high blood pressure at an early age. He was only 45. His father had a heart attack at the same age. Mark wanted to make everyone happy to a fault. He was also a workaholic. He worked himself sick to make sure we had what everyone else had because his earnings were not quite as high as most of our neighbors and friends, but you would never know that.
I mean, he made a very good living, but I guess everything is relative. He just didn’t want to deny any of us anything everyone else had. I suppose it would have made him feel like less than a man. Mark was a control freak and I was a typical dependent housewife, trying to do the best I could to meet his expectations.
He was generous to a fault but I never could meet up to his standards. Taking the path of least resistance had always been my nature. I really don’t know what came first; my ineptness or his “take charge of everything” personality. It doesn’t matter, only that we managed to find each other. I guess my dependence was seeking someone who I could count on to take care of me.
I didn’t realize when I married at 22 that the price would be so high.
I convinced myself and everyone else that he was perfect and we made the perfect couple. My father was absent most of my life. My parents divorced when I was 10, but they argued for years, since the dawn of my memory. I was the youngest of three and depended on my two older brothers to do the job that should have been my Dad’s.
My brothers resented the surrogate role of Dad and husband they had to take on, and I always felt that something was missing. I was not unlike my mother who cried like a baby most of the time, complaining she had no one to help her. I will admit that except for the crying, I identify most with her.
Mark and I rarely had much to say to each other, except perhaps on the weekends when we would go out.
But even then, it was always with other couples, most of which I chose and he disliked. One of my positive features was that I was sociable, so I arranged most social events. Our communication with one another was minimal, as we rarely saw each other due to his self-imposed heavy work schedule and picking up the slack of what I didn’t accomplish.
Mark’s need to “make it” over shadowed everything; although, he would take a defensive posture to that. He would justify his long hours and noble effort to the cause of giving the kids and me a better life. I believed him, but somehow, it felt like bullshit. Not that is wasn’t so, but I think he also enjoyed the feelings of being powerful and providing plentifully.
He enjoyed wearing the white hat, being super Dad, super coach, and just plain “Superman!” I am sure it fed his ego to enable my shopping addiction. Now that I think of it, he never said no to any of my wishes, even the ones that were inordinately unnecessary and some that were even risky.
Our intentions were good, however, the outcome was disastrous.
Mark came from a family where he had to learn very early to take care of his mom and younger brother. His Dad was sick from the time Mark was born and died when Mark was 11. From that time forth, Mark was also the surrogate husband to his mother and the surrogate father to his younger brother.
That didn’t play out well for him as he literally had to give up his childhood to become an adult before his time. His training as a child to behave like an adult prepared him for marrying me. So, we each did what came naturally. As the years progressed, so did my plastic surgery.
I had my nose done, my eyelids, two boob jobs, regular Botox injections, all kinds of skin enhancements and fillers — and I am sure by any standards of the American Psychiatric Association, I was Anorexic. I only ate raw foods and hardly enough to feed a rabbit and worked out excessively.
I think it was about control. I had to find a way to balance my life and feel like I had some power over it. I guess those were the ways I did.
The other way was to pretend to enjoy sex. In reality I hated it.
I can’t understand how Mark couldn’t feel my absence during our love-making; either he never noticed that I was MIA or he never expected or even asked me to initiate any sex; a role he always assumed was his.
Our sex life was a reflection of our dysfunctional marriage.
I wanted a father to take care of me, so how could I be sexy with a father figure? No wonder I hated it. Strangely enough, Mark never complained. Meanwhile, with all the beauty treatments, exercise, shopping and playing wife and mother, I was exceedingly bored and obsessed with my looks.
I was your typical upper middle class Barbie Doll who was an accident waiting to happen; and it did. Yep, just what you’re probably thinking.
I had an affair with my hairdresser and Mark found out.
Oh, it could have been anybody; anyone who would give me the attention I craved. The hairdresser flattered me with long awaited affirmations that filled my empty ego the same way Mark’s work habits filled his.
However, I didn’t expect to get caught.
I guess I underestimated Mark’s technical skills and overestimated mine. I wasn’t very good with computers, iPhones or a Blackberry. My life was filled with all the excitement that had been missing since the kids were born. Bill, my hairdresser, told me all the things I needed to hear from Mark and rarely did.
Bill was the most well-known hairdresser in our town, and probably the only one who wasn’t gay. He even styled Mark’s hair as well as the kids. I think it was the sneaking around and the forbidden fruit syndrome that made me feel alive. It overshadowed everything else; most of all, reality and what could be lost forever.
I became an addict.
I was to find out in therapy that I was cross-addicted with an eating disorder as well. When I think about it now, years later, I can’t imagine how I got away with it for six years. But I did. I guess when each partner fills the neurotic needs of the other, the marriage feels normal, until the pathology pours out the sides and then it’s too late. The marriage was rotting away and neither of us had a clue.
Bill was married too.
I think his wife knew about us, but it was business as usual for her. After all, this was Bill’s life style unbeknownst to me at the time. He had behaved like a dog all his married life, why should he be any different now. She chose to close her eyes and I didn’t know about all the others he was screwing and complimenting.
I was so naïve and self absorbed, that I thought I was the only one. Boy was I in for a shock! Need I say anymore? The things that could have happened and didn’t were miraculous. I could have contracted HIV, AIDS, and assorted sexually transmitted diseases. Mark in his blind rage, could have killed Bill as a crime of passion. I could have ended up a widow with blood on my hands and the children fatherless and perhaps even motherless if he decided to kill me as well. God only knows.
We landed in therapy because we both knew our marriage was over if some miracle didn’t happen.
Even the therapist thought our chances were slim and none. He warned us that this was going to be tough goings and it may not work. There may have been too much damage done and not enough healthy tissue left to save it.
I was a mess. I felt so ashamed and guilty that I had done something so vile. I became an object of contempt to myself and Mark capitalized on my feelings, bringing me even lower than I had brought myself.
Now, he sounded like my father when he would scold and harass my mother. Although I was only 10 when he left the house, I remember his rages like it was yesterday. How could I let something so morally against my value system happen, and for so long?
Mark was devastated. He felt cuckolded, humiliated, emasculated, and betrayed by the woman he loved and adored, never considering me capable of such an unconscionable and deceitful behavior. I remember sitting in the counselor’s office trying to get out of my own skin to escape, disappear — go anywhere to get away from the reality I was confronting.
In my wildest dreams, I never expected that I could be capable of such a transgression. I wanted my life back.
But I knew there was no way of turning back the hands of time. I had to sit there and own my actions, make my amends, and pray that Mark would forgive me for this most despicable crime I had committed and thrust upon him.
“Could he ever forgive me?”, I kept wondering and asking. Could I ever forgive myself?
Meanwhile, the therapist wanted to understand what were the elements that created this perfect storm? This didn’t happen once or twice. It didn’t happen occasionally, it happened for six years and it might have gone on for six more if I hadn’t kept the emails and the texts and got nailed.
I felt like I was “pinned and wriggling on the wall” (T.S. Eliot). Interestingly, the therapist wanted to know Mark’s part in this.
Was Mark aware of any disconnection or void in our relationship and if not, why not? I was the easy target to blame. After all, I was the one who committed adultery. I cheated, lied and betrayed Mark.
I felt like a criminal waiting to be sent to the gallows. Mark was clearly the victim. The therapist pinned no blame on me or Mark. He said the marriage was a cauldron waiting for this to happen. And if there was to be any blame, it would be due to the pathology we each shared equally and unconsciously that contaminated the relationship.
He pointed out the dynamic as opposed to stressing the content. Our work was cut out for us.
We made a decision together that day in the therapist’s office, that no matter how hard is was going to be, no matter how long it would take, we vowed to be together.
We believed we could come out of this whole and healthy, learning a new way to live together, talk together and love together.
The jury isn’t out yet. It’s been four years and some months of many hours of counseling; each of us going alone and together. I can’t tell you how many tears we shed, how many nights we both lost sleep; how many arguments and endless battles we fought. The worst part is how it affected all of us, including my extended family.
I want to think it was a blessing in disguise, but the torture still out weighs the blessing. I would give anything if I could fast forward and see us happy again. I wonder if perhaps divorce might be the better resolve than trying to crawl our way out of this mess. But, we made our choice, and for now, we have chosen to live with it until we can’t live with it anymore.
My therapist is trying to help us put the pieces of the puzzle back together by re-constructing our lives from the past. I think it’s easier for me to understand the process than it is for Mark.
Mark just wants us to be OK. In the meantime, we keep struggling. Mark’s blood pressure has been affected.
He sometimes complains of pain in his chest. We’re both so fearful of the implication. I know that it’s not my fault alone. Mark’s type “A” personality had a hand in it as well; at least that’s what the therapist says. I know I added salt to the wound and plowed into his already fragile ego, which made him try harder than anyone to succeed.
I can’t take back what I did, or I would.
All I can do is trust the process, be brave and have faith that we are doing the right thing by trying. We’re young and have the years ahead to raise our children and see our grandchildren. This was a sobering event that changed our lives for the better and for the worse.
It certainly changed our lives forever. All I can do is to take it one step at a time, one day at a time with hope and prayers that we can find each other again. I want us to work; but if it doesn’t happen, perhaps it wasn’t meant to be.
This is one learning lesson that won’t ever be forgotten.