I have been in your shoes, you sweet and lovely girl. I know the panic and gut-punching that comes with finding out that your husband (my now-ex, not the current husband, who is all goodness and light) has a subscription to a cheating site. I remember how awful it felt to see "Adult Friend Finder" on the bank statements, knowing I didn't look my best because I had three children under age three and I was exhausted, haggard, and out of shape.
I know the wrenching, surreal emotions that go along with realizing that your husband is spending hours on his computer, viewing pornography. That it's really what he prefers to you, and that you can never measure up to it.
I know the shame that goes along with a cheating spouse. The blame. The voices in your mind that tell you it's your fault - if you were a better cook/housekeeper/money-maker, he would not do this. If you were prettier/thinner/smarter, he would not do this.
Let me tell you, sweet and lovely girl, that it is not your fault. Whether you stay or leave is not my business, but you need to know that this is NOT YOUR FAULT and you are worth so much more than how you are being treated.
For me, the day came when I realized my kids were learning how to treat me and other women by watching their father. My sons were learning that it was okay to be a little mean, a lot dismissive, and absent much of the time. My daughter was learning that it was okay to be treated poorly. So I got up my nerve and left him. He is stunned to this day that we have moved on.
Over the years since I left that abusive and insane situation, I have learned that it was not my fault. He was the one at fault. He was the one who chose Adult Friend Finder and images on a screen over a real family with fantastic children. He was the one who made the poor choices.
After I left, I met someone (new and Cute Husband) who showed me and my children how a woman should be treated. He is kind, he is there, he is wonderful. Slowly, he has helped me see my own worth. He is a model for my children for how a husband and (step)father behaves toward people he loves and supports. He saved us.
Sweet and lovely Anna, you do not deserve this pain. You do not deserve this all to be splashed on the pages of People magazine. Your children do not deserve this. Whether you stay or leave, know that there are legion of us out there supporting you, who have felt the shame and played the blame game. You must stand up for yourself and your children to stop this cycle. It'll be the most difficult, yet most worthwhile, thing you do.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and elementary high-ability teacher. Her first novel, Cate in Flux, was released December 10! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.