It's too soon for me to say how this will all turn out. There are still times when I am suddenly appalled to realize that I am married to a man who could do to me what Sam did. But here's the thing: Sam is appalled—and ashamed, too—and he was appalled and ashamed even when he was with Daphne.
Meanwhile, I do know this: Much as I am loath to admit that anything good could come out of his affair, our marriage now is, in important ways, often better than it ever was. Sam doesn't dismiss his anger in hopes that it will go away—and he's getting better at pinpointing some of the vulnerable feelings that the anger, like a guard dog, protects. And I've begun paying attention to the parts of him that I fell in love with 12 years ago, and that I never stopped loving, though I let them get buried beneath piles of laundry and dirty dishes. I even try to gaze at him adoringly, though sometimes it comes off more like a crooked grimace. "I'm trying!" I tell him.
A few weeks ago, I came across the push-up bra in the back of my closet. It embarrassed me—so emphatic, so blatant, more like a prosthetic device than an article of clothing. Yet I couldn't bring myself to throw it away.
So I tried it on for Sam. And it turns out it still works, still makes my breasts look amazing. He liked it.
But then, in the middle of sex, I slipped away, unable to stop myself from wondering: Did he touch her like this? Were her breasts bigger than mine? What did he say when he walked through the door of the hotel room—at any of the 21 different hotels where they had sex?
Sam held me while I cried. Later he asked how long I thought it would take until I was over it, and I had to admit I had no idea. Forever maybe. Or tomorrow.
Then he did something for me that I wasn't able to do for myself. He pulled me out of that ugly, bleak chapter of the past—our past, now—and back into the just-fine present. He said, "I am with you now. I love you now. I want to make our marriage really good again, starting now."
I blew my nose, took a deep breath, and found myself in his arms—the arms of someone utterly familiar to me, and also completely new and unknown. Which, it turns out—even after all the shock, the hurt, the betrayal—is still where I most want to be.
From the April 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.
We Hear You!