High Fidelity

She wrote her story anonymously for O Magazine—the story of a couple trying to put their marriage back together after the worst kind of betrayal.

Sandwiched among a series of pieces on alternative relationships, I nearly skipped over it, especially when it began by talking about the days when she was “the other woman” to a married man. But for some reason, I kept skimming. And then slowed down. And then began drinking it in, word by word by word. The raw honesty. The fact that despite the hit to the core of her being, she was sticking with it for the long haul.

But the real eye-opener came three-fourths of the way through the article. “I had to admit I was partly to blame,” she said, “not for Sam’s affair…but for the cloud of disappointment and annoyance that had become a permanent feature of our marriage. I had grown to resent him when our kids were babies—a time when his needs, even his love, felt to me like just one more tiresome burden.”

It was a shot in the gut, but it got worse. “How could I (look at him adoringly) when he neglected to call and tell me he’d be home late from work again? Or left his underwear in a wad behind the bathroom door again?…A habitual mild bitterness, a casual scorn, became my default attitude…”

That was me talking. Not the actual incidents—Christian’s very good about calling when he’s going to be late, and he’s a far tidier person than I am—but the resentment, the “habitual mild bitterness.”

And I realized how easy it is to filter out all the good and zero in on petty annoyances—stuff that isn’t even important. The only thing I worry about in marriage is how easy it is to grow apart, not because either of us is doing anything wrong, but because we don’t have time to focus on each other. It’s so easy to view my husband as a parenting partner, to resent it when I feel (rightly or wrongly) that I’m taking a disproportionate amount of the work. It’s so easy to stop paying attention to that which drew me to him in the first place.

“It is very hard to fall back in love with someone you know as well as you know a spouse after 12 years,” the anonymous writer says. Which serves as a reminder I need: Don’t wait till the spark is gone to decide that the marriage is the primary relationship in the family. Fidelity is bigger than not cheating on each other. It involves standing together, supporting each other’s endeavors. Fidelity means growing together—not parallel, but together. It means looking for and drawing out the best in each other. And just like everything else in life—like attitude, like habitual anger, like love—fidelity is a choice.

I choose love. Love of this man, and all the beautiful things he is: