One sad fall-out from my husband’s affair – and subsequent remarriage – was having my eyes opened to the truth about women. As a nurse, my working life was spent mostly in the company of other women. Nurses are amazing. They are compassionate and there to assist both patients and fellow staff members in good times and bad. Of course you find the occasional unpleasant one here and there, but on the whole they are brilliant.
I could never understand when female friends talked about the bitchiness they experienced working in offices, or not trusting other women. And I felt very fortunate in comparison to the back-biting my husband described in his mostly male work environment.
And when it came to the subject of affairs, I knew of only one woman amongst my friends who’d cheated on her husband. Husbands who’d cheated on their wives…? Now that was a different story.
I guess, over the years, I’d developed a Pollyanna-ish belief that, at heart, women are somehow better human beings than men. We are the ones who give life. We are the ones who nurture and protect. We are the peacemakers. We are the ones who usually sacrifice our futures for the good of our loved ones.
And then, after months of secrets, lies and deceit, I learned that my marriage had broken down because ‘the other woman’ – his office wife, who I didn’t even know existed! – had given my husband an ultimatum. He could have me or her – but not both of us.
That revelation devastated two of my core belief systems. First, that my husband loved me. He’d told me so every single day or our marriage until shortly before he walked out. Secondly, that women are more honourable than men. For every man out there cheating on his wife, there’s a woman knowingly – and deliberately – participating in that deceit.
That really struck home when I met with my husband’s mistress face-to-face. I asked how, as a devout Christian, she could deliberately break four of the Ten Commandments – Thou shalt not steal, covet, bear false witness, commit adultery. She shrugged, then smirked and said, “I don’t pretend to be a perfect Christian.”
Her response shocked and saddened me, and left me with a sense that everything I had believed to be true about my life and marriage for the past 37 years was a lie. Who could I trust if I couldn’t even trust my own judgement or memories?
As it turned out, there were plenty of people I discovered I could trust – the ones who rallied round and supported me through the pain.
Perhaps it’s a good thing that my rose-coloured glasses have shattered. I’ve learned that women can be just as deceitful and manipulative as men.
But the opposite also holds true.
Whether they are men or women, there are many honourable, trustworthy people out there too.