The stranger in your bed

How well do you know your partner? What does your wife think about when she is quiet? What does she do while you are asleep? Are there times when your husband isn’t home and you don’t know where he is? Do you know who he is texting?

These aren’t questions that just paranoid people ask themselves. You should be asking these questions too and you should know the answers, so that you too don’t discover that you have a stranger in your bed.

A false sense of security

Helen thought she and Jules had the perfect marriage. Over 20 years together, living in the same house, raising three wonderful children, countless pets, careers that took off and lots of wonderful vacations. Sex slowed down and then a few years ago, it ended. It was so gradual. It set off no red flags. Helen believed Jules was busy with his work, his hobbies, things that she simply wasn’t interested in, like fantasy football, golf and poker night. She was content and led her own fulfilled life. She believed things were great between she and Jules, that is, until she got the phone call that changed everything. An anonymous woman called Helen’s cell phone and told her that Jules had been having an affair with her for almost 2 years. She indicated that she thought Helen should know, and then hung up.

Denial and unwillingness to see the truth 

It was the phone call that changed Helen’s life. That night, while she waited for Jules to get home from his “poker game”, she realized how far away their relationship had developed from where it used to be. She saw that she allowed herself to believe that everything was okay, when she saw clear signs that it wasn’t. Helen recalled lies she caught her husband in. She remembered how she passed them off as mistakes he made about where he said he was going to be and where she tracked his phone as being. She remembered a text Jules sent her, clearly by mistake as it was addressed to “Viv”, that Jules claimed a co-worker meant to send to his wife but accidentally used his phone instead. How could she have fallen for that?

What can you do when you can no longer deny the truth?

Helen realized that there were many instances as well in which she woke in the middle of the night and heard Jules in the bathroom, talking on the phone to someone. She never asked who it was and pretended to be asleep when he returned to bed. She saw that her own behavior excused Jules. She was absent, uncaring, a foolish doormat. She chose to believe everything was okay rather than taking responsibility. And now she could no longer ignore what was happening. There was a stranger in her bed.

If this were to happen to you…

Is it possible that the person in your bed is a stranger – that you don’t really know who you are married to, or in a relationship with? Are you letting your spouse cheat on you, take advantage of you and betray you because you are too afraid to see the truth? Are you doing this right now? Clear your mind and think carefully about it. Don’t let fear influence you. Face the truth.

What can you do?

  • ŸRage at your cheating spouse
  • ŸPretend all is well as before
  • ŸLeave the marriage immediately
  • ŸCalmly ask your spouse to discuss what is wrong with the marriage and how it can be addressed

If you selected the last option, you may just preserve your marriage. Of course you are insulted, hurt, offended and betrayed. Maybe you need a minute to process your feelings. You deserve that chance. However, if you believe that punishing your spouse is what’s most important, you will achieve nothing constructive.

Can you rise above your hurt and win back your marriage?

Ask yourself what your goal is, but don’t decide too quickly. Your first impulse will be to end the marriage right away. You will feel righteous and indignant and justified in walking away. That’s the easiest choice. You already did the easy thing, remember? When you ignored the signs of discontent and failed to ask questions, you took the easier route. You tolerated the stranger in your bed but you can afford to do that no longer.

If you want the marriage to continue, you must now take the responsibility you refused to take before. Talk gently with your spouse. Ask to go to couples therapy and work through the separateness that caused problems. Get to the heart of the matter. Become stronger than before and remain connected to your spouse in future, so that you will never harbor a stranger in your bed again!