I am in my late 60s, married with three children and two grandchildren. I am writing because I committed adultery when I was in my 40s, which is still hounding me after over 23 years.
I was never a promiscuous woman. I was convent-bred and a virgin when I married my first boyfriend. He is a man of intelligence and integrity. From the time we were married until we went into semi-retirement, my husband and I held great jobs in blue-chip companies. We traveled with our children, met and socialized with people in our circle—families who were all professionals and not a breath of scandal to set tongues wagging.
I couldn’t have asked for more. Everything was great. Except for that one business trip abroad where I was gone for over a month. I met this man during the conference, and it only took that one meeting of our eyes to realize that we got each other “at hello.”
He was married. I was married. But I went crazy because, for the first time in my goody-two-shoes life, I threw caution to the wind and embarked on our passionate affair. He swept me off my feet. I never knew that kind of love, ever.
After our conference, we drove to some of the most romantic cities in Europe for two weeks and, luckily, I never saw anybody I knew. My husband thought I was having a grand holiday with my siblings from the US.
I secretly rooted for the couple in the movie “Bridges of Madison County” because the Meryl Streep/Clint Eastwood affair paralleled mine. They only had a weekend, while my love and I had a whole blissful month. Like them, we promised not to contact each other, and we didn’t. I don’t anymore know whatever happened to him since then.
Coming from a very religious family, I have been racked by guilt all these 23 years. Though my husband never found out about my little escapade, I’ve silently paid long and hard for that one transgression by being the perfect wife. No nagging, no jealousies, no demands. I am hoping that by serving this long-playing atonement, I will be able to water down my adulterous past and meet my Creator in good stead.
Can we just give the God we always talk about with a little more credit when it concerns love? He is not pea-brained or constipated and narrow-minded like many of us.
Let’s not even discuss His intelligence! Our human minds cannot begin to fathom how astoundingly profound his understanding of us is, and how it would be grossly insulting to His greatness for us to assume that He is this watchdog who keeps tabs on us and scores a tit for every tat we make in matters of the heart.
Enough already of this breast-beating for that one blip in your marriage. You were smitten and went with the flow. It was the purest of emotions, a once-in-a-lifetime gift of fate which you welcomed without question. After it ended, you accepted its demise like a grown-up, mature woman, aware of her other responsibilities.
As that great pulp-fiction writer John MacDonald wrote: “If the spirit is involved, if there is tenderness and respect and awareness of need, that’s all the morality I care about… You can look at it from the inside and be heightened and brightened and expanded by something close and rare and dear…. Or you can look at it from the outside and be that silly little broad who got banged on her trip.”
Give your weary soul some slack and face these coming years with more joy and contentment. Lucky, you can say—been there, done that. You were gifted with something you can quietly hug in your mind and smile about when you need it.
Instead of dripping with guilt, offer your bottomless thanks to this God who knew and understood everything you’ve gone through. No need to play the tit for tat game. He invented love itself, in case you’ve forgotten!