10/09/2012 02:26 am ET Updated Dec 08, 2012

The Conversation That Ended My Marriage


The summer my husband and I slept in separate bedrooms and slipped into separate lives, I read "When Your Lover is a Liar" by Susan Forward. Based on the book, I held this conversation with my spouse at what would be our final counseling session:

"I'm ready to talk about what happened. This isn't easy for either of us, but I have some things to say and I would like you to agree to hear me out and not interrupt or contradict me. When I'm done you can have all the time you want to respond and I promise to hear you out as well. Are you willing to do that? Good. Husband, I know we've talked about the issue of your affair before, but I need to go over it in a calmer way with you now and see if there is any possibility of salvaging our relationship.

"Here's what I know for sure. I know that you lied to me about the reasons for staying late at work, the necessity of being at work and for working the hours you did. I know that at some point in the last year you started an emotional and then a physical relationship with another woman. When we first talked about it a few months ago, you lied and said that you were going to treat her like any other colleague and would act honorably while you and I figured 'us' out. And then, about two weeks ago, you admitted to spending the night at her house and being physically intimate with her. Then I asked you to move out. Those are the facts.

"This whole experience makes me feel so many emotions. I feel betrayed, hurt, angry. I feel sad, confused and discouraged. I feel insulted, blindsided and deceived to my core. I am disappointed and uncertain.

"So here is what I need from you, now, in order to agree to consider staying in the relationship. I'm not making any promises about the future, but I'm willing to work with you to see if we can and want to build a new relationship, a different relationship; one that is not the status quo. What I have today is a firm, non-negotiable list of requirements that must be met in order for me to begin thinking about whether it's possible to continue as husband and wife.

"First, you must acknowledge and take responsibility for your affair and admit how terribly you've hurt me, how what we had is forever changed because of your decisions. You absolutely cannot continue to work or volunteer at that place, where our marriage would be in constant threat and where you've proved that you cannot be around her without compromise. I want your promise that you will not see or communicate with that woman at all, starting now.

"You know that I'm in counseling and I want you to do the same so that you can understand why you've done this and how to make better decisions in the future. You must commit to a monogamous relationship with me, and you must be willing and interested in actively working with me to build a new relationship based on truth and honesty and respect. I also want you to know that there must be an end to hiding things and deceiving me. These are my requirements. Nothing on this list is unreasonable.

Him: "You're right. Those are perfectly reasonable requests that would be necessary to fix the relationship... But I can't do them."

Me: "Can't or won't?"

Him: "Won't. I don't want to."

Me: "So... would it be accurate to say you want a divorce?"

Him: "Yes."

That night I slept soundly for the first time in months. Yes, it was the end, but it was also a beginning.