I have a lot to feel guilty about. Let’s see here, I feel guilty because I:
- cheated on wife
- betrayed my kids
- involved my kids and Scarlet’s kids in the affair by taking them places with her
- was not fully invested in my marriage during affair
- didn’t support wife through some difficult times because I was in the affair
- wasted a LOT of money on counseling, retail therapy, fast food, etc
- wasted a lot of our time and energy going through the recovery of something that shouldn’t have happened
- used and hurt Scarlet
- betrayed Scarlet’s husband and kids
- didn’t have a good reason for any of the above things
Yeah, I feel guilty because I didn’t have a good reason for having the affair. Now before anyone gets their panties in a twist, there’s never a good reason for having an affair. If my wife had been a total, abusive bitch, that still wouldn’t justify breaking my marriage vows.
But it would be more understandable. You see, affairs don’t happen in a vacuum. Most people don’t just get up one morning and say, “Today’s the day. I’m gonna go out and cheat on my spouse.” Usually there’s something that leads up – but does not cause – the affair. Whether it’s a spouse who is abusive, neglectful, or just unloving, or a person who is depressed, addicted, mentally ill, or otherwise “broken” in such a way as to make an affair more likely. These factors lead to a series of bad decisions that make the affair possible.
None of those factors excuse or cause an affair, but they make it understandable. In court they would be considered mitigating circumstances. To put it another way, if a husband was beating his wife, telling her she was ugly, having affairs, and just generally never showing her love, it would be wrong but pretty understandable if she fell in love with a man who treated her right.
Of course my wife is not generally a hitter and she’s never had a disparaging thing to say about my appearance that I can recall. Besides my porn addiction, I’ve never been addicted to drugs, alcohol, or anything else. I’ve struggled with depression off and on for the last 20 years, but honestly who hasn’t?
I guess what I’m saying is, I feel guilty for having an affair when there really weren’t any mitigating circumstances. I can’t say to my wife, “Honey, I’m so sorry. I was addicted to drugs and I resented your past affairs and I fell.” It wouldn’t be true, nor would any other combination of factors.
I look around and I see people who had affairs as a result of spousal abuse or infidelity. While I recognize it was wrong, I can see at least part of the why. When I look at myself, I don’t see the why.
It makes me wonder, did I really do it just because I’m a selfish bastard? Am I or was I more like the selfish serial cheater than I’d like to think? That’s not what one wants to think of oneself, even if I’ve moved beyond that selfishness. And yet what else is there? So I have that to feel guilty about, too.