The Three-Legged Stool

There was me. Him. And his mistress.

I played the part of the doting but clueless wife.

My ex-husband portrayed the neglected husband who committed adultery only because his wife had been inadequate.

Then there was the mistress. Well, we know what she did.

For two years, I lived as a bit player in their romance. While he and the mistress escaped to a hotel, I worked to help support our family. As they met before work at her home, I was getting my daughter ready for school. As they communicated online at night, I did laundry.

I supported their dalliances through my ignorance and inability to believe the worst. For so long, I believed that my husband’s lack of interest in me was because I was unattractive, boring and useless. I compensated by giving him more…more time, more attention, more reassurance.

Quietly but with my help, he evacuated our marriage. Elvis had left the building.

When I discovered he had been having an affair with his coworker and the woman who had once taken care of our daughter, it was not a surprise to me as much as it was an “oh, I get it now.” Finally, I had an explanation for the reasons why he had picked fights with me over silly things. I knew why he worked so many hours. I understood why he had distanced himself as a husband and father and why he was inadequate at both.

For the last few years of our marriage, I knew there was trouble. But when we discussed it, he merely complained that he was unhappy but would not give specifics. There was the vague, “we don’t communicate.” But then when I tried to talk to him, he lied.

After I searched his computer and phone for emails and texts and followed him and had irrefutable evidence of his affair, he denied it. He said he was confused but wanted to work on our marriage. But he gave reconciliation the same effort he had given our marriage – he left it all up to me.

For months, he cheated on me openly. He kissed me goodbye in the morning and we both knew where he was going – to have sex with his mistress. He came up with lame excuses for his absences. He sent me fake emails from his boss’ computer that gave him alibis.

He was not going to change. If anything, he was happier. He finally got my attention and he definitely had hers. He was exactly where he wanted to be – where any man who is empty and insecure wants to be – with two women competing for his attention.

Eventually, I tired of being the supporting leg. I begged him to leave and did not think he would ever come back.

After a week, he said he would end the affair. But that was short-lived. I checked his email once more and found very graphic photos of her in an email the day after his birthday. The day after he had asked me to take him to dinner, which was supposed to be the start of a new life together.

The day I saw the pictures, I realized that both of them were using me. She used me as competition. Some women just like to take from others. And he used me as fuel for the affair, something he readily admits. I was his punching bag. An outlet for his frustrations.

I moved forward with my divorce and have not had any regrets. Their relationship will succeed or fail with only two people responsible – and I won’t have any part in it.

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