An Affair Strengthened My Marriage

An Affair Strengthened My Marriage

And so, with the confidence that Alex had taught me by showing me how valuable I was, I slowly entered back into a relationship with James. We began by having a drink, and then dinners and then a weekend away. I took what I had learned from Alex and his view of the world into my interactions with James. No expectations. Allow the other person to be who they are. Hear it, really hear it, and then accept it or not.

No more punishing James for who he was, or thinking my demands could change him. If I chose to try and live with him again, I vowed to be a responsible party, rather than a victim. And for the first time in my life, I felt the gravitas of being an adult capable of doing just that. Finally, my husband said the words I'd waited so many years to hear. As we lay in bed one evening before he returned to his own apartment, he wrapped his arms around me and whispered, "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry."

While I moved cautiously back towards my husband, I moved quickly away from my lover. In the park where we had first said we loved each other 18 months before, I told Alex that I was considering reconciling with James.

We cried and embraced, and I promised him that I would remain his friend if he would allow me to. I knew the chances were slim at best. But love is anything but predictable.

Recently, Alex and I were back in each other's arms — but this time, we stood in broad daylight, and our embrace was one of gratitude. In the eight years since our affair ended, we've become what ex-lovers dream of but seldom achieve: extremely close, unconditionally devoted companions.

We share all of our news, and we call each other on our bad behavior. We are friends with every benefit that matters, no condoms required. And though I keep my relationship with Alex a secret from my husband, it is not out of guilt or shame. It is because I do not wish to remind James of a time when I chose another.

I used to think that if I could combine Alex and James, I would have the perfect man. I wasn't wrong. They do indeed fill in each other's blanks, serving my different needs. Many people in my life can't fathom how I have fulfilling relationships with them both.

But I know the truth. These two very different men have taught me what it is to truly be loved. And in turn, how to love.

This article originally appeared on How An Affair Saved My Marriage

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