Realizing You’re a Selfish Bastard

On Saturday I wrote about how my perception of myself changed with the affair. I’m not really sure why I started with my realization that women found me attractive. But that’s not the only way, or even the biggest way, that my perception has changed.

I wrote yesterday that I thought I was “the good one” in my marriage. First, the whole concept of there being a good or a better partner is – how shall I put this? – complete and utter crap. In a marriage, you’re a team. It goes even deeper than that – you’re one flesh. There is no place for looking down on your spouse. Marriage is not supposed to be a constant fight for the moral high ground.

Second, even though by some standards I did more, sacrificed more, etc, I was cherry-picking those criteria to make myself look better. I was “the good one” because I worked, cooked, cleaned, took care of the kids, fixed everything around the house, etc.

But what I didn’t factor into my calculations was that I was addicted to porn and was constantly hurting and humiliating my wife by using porn and lying about it. I may have been taking care of my kids a few hours a day, but she was taking care of them the other 10 hours a day. I may have been cooking and cleaning, but I was also leaving huge messes from my projects or just out of my laziness. I wasn’t giving her grace when she stumbled, I was just excusing her shortcomings so I could puff myself up even more. I may have been meeting some of her needs, but they were the ones I wanted to meet, not the ones that were most important to her.

For example, direct communication. My wife, like most women, needs and craves direct, intentional communication. Sitting down and talking without distractions, sharing what I’m thinking and feeling – that sort of thing. She asked, and pleaded, and finally begged for it, but I refused to hear what she was saying.

“We’re talking now, aren’t we? So what do you want to talk about?” I’d say. Watching TV together, or surfing the Web in the same room while making occasional comments about this or that was all the talking I needed. So I selfishly pursued my own interests while my wife was starved for attention.

And then there was the self-righteousness. If the house wasn’t clean, it was obviously because she was lazy. After all, I could work all day then come home and clean the house in a couple of hours. “Look at how great I am,” I’d think. I, who already needed and was about to need so much more grace from my wife and my God, was giving her none. The thought never penetrated my self-righteous bubble that maybe the reason my wife struggled with the chores is because she was depressed. And furthermore, part of the reason she was depressed was because she felt like she was in a loveless marriage, or at least one where I had no interest in meeting her needs.

Of course, the ultimate expression of my self-centeredness was the affair. I can talk about how it happened – meeting, talking, getting to know Scarlet, falling in love, and everything that followed – but that doesn’t really deal with the why. At the heart of that question was my selfishness.

There were times as the affair developed when I knew things weren’t right and that I should put a stop to them, but I didn’t because I enjoyed the excitement, the attention, and the feeling of being appreciated (the irony being that I hadn’t given my wife much to appreciate). Even before the affair was an affair, I knew things were going in the wrong direction and yet I selfishly allowed them to progress, telling myself that I wouldn’t let an affair happen. I thought I was too good to let it happen.

And then one day it did. Yet I still persisted in my self-centered determination to make myself happy. I tried to put a stop to it on a couple of occasions, but each time I ultimately went with my selfish desires rather than the right thing for my wife. I told myself that as long as my wife didn’t know, then even though it wasn’t okay, it was something I would permit myself to do. Looking back, the arrogant callousness of those thoughts is just breath-taking, but I still remember thinking “I don’t have to give this up. Not yet, anyway.”

It was only when it all came crashing down that I realized how selfish I had been all along. Not only that, but I had been a real bastard towards my wife. I had deluded myself into thinking I was a great husband because of all the great things I had done, but I had been neglecting her in my self-righteousness. And when a woman came along who I was attracted to and who was attracted to me, I betrayed my wife. I broke my marriage vows. I shared my heart with another woman and I slept with her, while I denied those things to my loving, loyal wife – the mother of my children who had stuck with me even though I had pursued my interests for a decade at the expense of hers. I had not been a good husband after all and I had compounded it by betraying her in the worst possible way.

So when I say I’m a selfish bastard, it’s not hyperbole. It’s the truth that came to me too late. It’s the truth that I’m trying to fix in myself even now.

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About Anonyman

Recovering adulterer and husband of an awesome wife who has given me a second chance. Sinner and Christian, saved by grace alone. I cuss a lot
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12 Responses to Realizing You’re a Selfish Bastard

  1. Pingback: Evening Day 3.. | How To Not Hate My Husband

  2. chely5150 says:

    Oh to hear those words come from my husbands mouth would be a dream come true for me. Knowing that he finally gets it, showing empathy for me. And seeing all that he had done to contribute to the falling apart of our marriage. I’ve always been willing to acknowledge what I contributed to the downward spiral (stand in his shoes) but he still blames me for it all, and that is tougher to swallow than the stupid affair truthfully. Not sure if he’ll ever get it, because it’s still all about him. I applaud the fact that your acknowledge your shortcomings, it’s a big step in changing the outlook for your marriage.

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  3. It’s 2:24am and I am laying in bed balling my eyes out from your post. While my husband has countlessly told me how awful he feels about his affair and that he will spend the rest of his life trying to make it up to me. I still feel that somewhere deep inside he blames me and feels he had no choice. I was like your wife and he did a lot of stuff in the house. I was depressed from having our third child at age 42 and felt trapped so I volunteered for everything at the kids school to be gone from the house and we became roommates. But we never had date night and never had private time. I never felt like I was wanted. The one good thing that having the affair did was show us everything we had to lose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anonyman says:

      Have you asked him if he blames you? He may or he may not. If he’s like me, he may want to put at least some of the blame on someone besides himself. But wanting to blame someone else and actually doing it are two different things. I know I’m the only one to blame in my marriage because whatever else was wrong, I was the one who broke the covenant.
      He had a choice, as I did. In fact, I had a bunch of choices and it took a string of bad choices to have the affair. One of the bad choices was bottling things up instead of talking to my wife. We drifted apart emotionally because I felt hurt, but I didn’t even give her the chance to make things better. Neither of us felt wanted, but in truth we both wanted each other but I was too stubborn to show it or to see it. But you’re right, having an affair – as awful as it was – did show us what was at stake and what was worth fighting for.

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      • My husband didn’t say anything either. When we finally started talking He said I acted like I hated him and the kids. He said that in his mind we were done and this was the way to get out. He was trying to find someone to take my place with him and the kids. In his defense I did completely check out but I was so depressed that I couldn’t see it. When he had the affair he thought that would end things. He told me right away. I blamed myself and all of a sudden I because miss perfect wife. He didn’t lift a finger. But the more I did the more he drifted away. He said he had stopped seeing that person. But he eventually wanted a divorce. So for eight months we lived this bubble of a lie. It tried to make things perfect for him and the kids and I was suffocating. The more nice I was to him the more he acted like he hated me for it. Then on my birthday weekend I found out he had made a fake Facebook account. He would on his laptop constantly talking to the bitch when I was sitting right there next to him. I never thought that someone I had known since high school that was my family and all round nice guy. He works with special needs kids for goodness sakes…would treat the mother of his children with such disrespect. I hacked into his account and found the heartbreaking evidence of this plan to replace me with a person that was married too with children of her own. Oh Hell no!!! So on my 45th birthday I gave him a present. He came home from work thinking we would go out to eat. I had called his mom( we are very close) and told her everything. I decided this life couldn’t go on. We packed his bags and sat down to tell the kids. That more than anything made me sick to my stomach( I have 3 kids 17boy 10 girl 3boy)

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      • Anyway after he came home I told him he was free. He could go be with anyone he wanted I wouldn’t stop him. The kids and I were just fine. I called an attorney and I told him he could have the divorce he wanted. He couldn’t believe I had the balls to kick him out. The next day he was freaking out and couldn’t believe what he had done. He called, text, drove by we ignored him. Except for one text telling him to give me time to set up a schedule so he can see his kids. He begged me back saying he made a big mistake and couldn’t believe that was him because he never did anything like that before. And he was a great guy and a wonderful father but I didn’t know if I could forgive him. So all this happened in October and we are back together. We make it a point to talk a lot, to go out on dates, to work as a team and not go against each other. He is very honest with me and no matter what I ask he will tell me even though its hard to talk about. We have changed our lives completely included change work because he worked with the (person) wow so sorry I think I’ve put a lot of info on my reply. Thank you for listening

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        • Anonyman says:

          Wow, that sounds familiar. Not all of it, mind you, but certain details are similar to my wife’s sad tale of betrayal. It’s amazing you were able to recover from that. It sounds like he was willing to do whatever it took not only to make it up to you but to give you the marriage you both deserve. Have you gotten counseling for your prior depression?
          As for the story, here’s my take: affairs are fantasies. As a cheater, I got to fall in love with someone new. I sent her little presents and we went out on dates (such as they were). To some extent we saw the best of each other but not the reality of having lived with someone for a decade. We fantasized about what it would be like to live together (which makes me ill to think about now).
          But it was all just a fantasy. Nothing brings that fantasy crashing down like a cold splash of reality – realizing what you’ve risked and how much you have really hurt and betrayed with your selfish little fantasy.
          I still wish it had only been some fantastical dream. Sometimes it feels very unreal, like that couldn’t possibly have been me doing those things. It was the biggest mistake of my life and part of me still can’t believe I did it. But I did do it. I bailed on my wife when the going got tough. I’m not giving up on my wife again. I’m not escaping into another fantasy – real or in my head.
          Thank you for listening to me and reading my blog. I appreciate hearing from my readers and I hope you do get something out of my ramblings, too.

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  4. Pingback: Realizing Your Wife is Awesome | Isle of a Man

  5. rac says:

    This is exactly what I wish my husband could recognize and express to me.

    Like

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