You ever have the feeling that you’re competing with another woman? Real talk, ladies. I mean you know that there’s another woman, but you can’t prove it? How many women know what I mean? Well, that’s how I feel. And the stupid thing is that I know that my husband has never ever stepped out on me. I trust him and I know he hasn’t. He’s a wonderful husband and provider, and truth be told, I know he loves me. Our sex life is good, healthy, and relatively frequent. He comes home to me every night. Our anniversary is never forgotten, nor birthdays and major holidays.
I know he has feelings for someone else. I know it. I know her. That’s not to say that she has done anything at all to jeopardize our marriage. She has not. I mean that I know who she is, and what’s bad is that I like her. She’s intelligent and funny and reliable. She always sends gifts to our children on their birthdays and holidays and has always been supportive of my family. She isn’t married, isn’t even dating from my understanding, and I have never known her to make a move towards my husband.
They’ve been friends for twenty years. I heard about her on our first date. Her talent, her accomplishments, her responsibilities. When he talked about her then, there was a look in his eyes that made me think at that time that date would be our last. He never talked about her so much as to make me uncomfortable, but I always knew what was going on with her. And when I met her, she was ebullient and quite pleased to meet me. It seemed that I was meeting her to get her approval, and if I didn’t put my best foot forward, I wouldn’t, and would lose him.
I didn’t lose him. We got married a year and a half later, six months after the birth of our son.
She was there from the beginning. She’s always been there, a silent presence hanging over my husband. A reminder of what might have been. He has always stressed that they were friends, but the light that comes in his eyes when he speaks of her or to her in their monthly phone conversations makes me think otherwise. I know that their friendship has never crossed physical boundaries, but…
But, but, but…
She had a lot of emotional baggage that kept her out of serious relationships for years. He had been there for her as friends ought. We began dating right before her father died of bone cancer, and I had a regular report of her actions and state of mind. Our relationship at that time was casual and even then I wondered if I was merely filling space or killing time for him. Now, seven years and three children later, I’m sure that I was. Even though our relationship is solid and strong, I know that if she had been mentally ready for a serious relationship, he would have left me years ago. Before I got pregnant.
I know what you’re thinking. That I got pregnant on purpose. Honestly, I did not. It was one night, a great evening, heated exchanges and we went for it. I was on the pill, and apparently that one percent failure rate included me. I got pregnant and he decided we would get married. Hindsight being what it is, I know he did it to do the right thing by me and our son. He loves me. But I don’t think he’s ever been in love with me. I believe in my heart of hearts that he is in love with her. That light in his eyes is reserved for our three beautiful children and her. I’m not a recipient, never have been. Not even on our wedding day.
She’s a research chemist at the CDC, specializing in toxins. She’s the director of her unit, accomplished and well paid. She’s single, childless and successful. She has average looks and an average figure, not bad. One would think that the way my husband is about her she must be a Beyonce or a Zoe Saldana, or some equally beautiful starlet sexpot. She isn’t.
I want to hate her but I cannot. She appears to be genuinely happy for us. She has never indicated otherwise, but I wonder how she truly feels about me. When she calls our house, we chat for several minutes; she asks about my career and the children, asks if they need anything, and asks about everything. I can hear the feeling in her voice and I know she’s sincere. Maybe the feelings were one-sided.
One night I accosted him about the true nature of their friendship. He told me that they had been friends for years, nothing more. He appreciated her talent and her solidarity. She was the same with him. There had never been any untoward feelings on either’s part. I heard him, listened to him, but still I can’t help feeling that but for Damian’s appearance, he would have been with her.
I happened to have met, by accident, one of his other ex-girlfriends. She was nice and to the point, and shared interesting sentiments: 1. He raved about some other girl he didn’t even date. 2. She had to meet the girl; he brought her to the girl’s house and introduced them. And, he had done that with every girl he dated. 3. She wasn’t even pretty. 4. If she had been in position, he would have been dating her instead. 5. The ex felt as if she was merely filler while he waited for his friend to get her head right. She decided that she didn’t want to compete with another woman that wasn’t even the other woman and broke up with him.
Am I settling? I don’t know. I love my husband and I don't want to consider breaking up my family. But I don’t want a love I can live with; I much prefer a love I can’t live without. I deserve that. A man is only as good as his options, and perhaps she would have made him the best man he could possibly be. With me, he’s just a good man.
I’m afraid to bring it up again. I feel like I might put a strain on our marriage that we can’t recover from. He’s given me no reason to distrust him, and if he thinks I do, he might leave me. There’s no doubt in my mind that he would go to her if he did. Do I rock the boat? Should I put my heart and my family on the line and demand something from him that maybe he’s already giving me? I shouldn’t have to share my husband with another woman. Mental adultery is far more painful than physical adultery, because while you can stop sleeping with another person, you may never ever stop thinking about them. It’s in the mind where cheating starts. She’s been with him longer than I have; could it be he thinks he’s cheating on her with me? A woman could go insane thinking about this.
I have three children. My children love their father and he loves them. He provides a safe and happy home and we have a good life. I don’t want for anything. Other women see me and want what I have. Is our relationship tenuous at best? If it isn’t, then why am I scared that I could lose him if I said anything else about her? If I could lose him, then was he ever really mine? Am I better without him?
What do I do? What would you do?