Photo-Illustration: James Gallagher
This week, a woman shopping for mid-century furniture while trying not to check her husband’s email: 43, married, Westchester.
9:30 a.m. Facebook Marketplace is my new porn. I just moved to Westchester with my husband and kids and suddenly have a house to furnish. It’s nothing lavish, but it’s real space compared with the one-bedroom we all shared in Red Hook. I have twin girls; they’re 4 years old. My life is stressful and busy all the time, and I’m hoping the new house will be a new beginning of sorts.
Just dropped the girls off. On to the hunt for an armoire …
11 a.m. All day I fight the urge to log on to my husband’s email. He had an affair during COVID. It was with a colleague. I found out because, well, I just knew. His hours were longer (which at first was easy to blame on COVID but after a while felt wrong in a way I couldn’t put my finger on). There was a lot I couldn’t put my finger on: why he was being so overly sweet to me, why he got me flowers more often, why our sex felt weird. When it hit me that Maybe he’s cheating on me? it all came together. I just knew.
So we dealt with it. He told me everything. We cried and cried. I never hated him, and to be honest, I didn’t really think about leaving him. But we had a lot of healing to do. The hardest part was that even though he said the affair was over, he still works with this woman. So now our relationship is about transparency and the rebuilding of trust. Not checking his email compulsively is important for me. None of this was my fault, but I can’t expect us to “get better” if I am searching for drama all day.
3 p.m. I pick up the girls from school. They seem to be adjusting well. We hid the affair and our marital strife from them, so I haven’t sensed any issues with them, thank goodness.
7 p.m. My husband comes home from work. It’s crucial he’s home by 7 p.m. Any minute later and I’m triggered.
10 p.m. I hit the sheets, dead tired.
9:30 a.m. Everyone told us that people are swingers in the burbs. Or at least that everyone is sleeping around. I will say I’ve sensed a little more eye contact and mild flirtation at school drop-off. I haven’t been with anyone but my husband in ten years, but lately it feels like anything can happen.
12 p.m. I go to look at a pair of dining-room chairs from a wealthier suburb next door. I haven’t worked in a while, but living out here and decorating all day makes me feel especially like a housewife. I don’t mind it per se, but it’s kind of funny. I put myself through law school, I’m very smart and motivated, and here I am talking about textiles and upholstery until the sun goes down.
8 p.m. I know my husband wants sex. He’s rubbing my leg as we watch TV. It’s been about three weeks since we’ve had sex, but I had my period for one of those weeks. It’s not that I don’t want to fuck him anymore. But sometimes I am grossed out by him still, and tonight is one of those nights. We’ve been living in this post-affair world for a year, and we just ended therapy. Sometimes I think of them having sex. That’s when I’m grossed out by him.
9 p.m. “I’m exhausted … goodnight,” I say, kissing his cheek and walking myself to the bedroom.
10 a.m. A Brooklyn friend is visiting me for a few hours while doing a little house hunting herself. We go on a walk around the neighborhood. I didn’t tell many people about his affair. The fact is, my husband is an essential worker, and he was doing heroic work in the worst days of COVID. But he was also a villain to me at that time. It’s hard to reconcile the two. All this is to say: I keep the affair to myself on this walk.
2 p.m. It’s actually our anniversary tomorrow. I stop by a bakery and order a cake so we can all celebrate after school and work.
6 p.m. It is so much nicer serving dinner in a big kitchen that has things like cabinets, counters, and a family-size table. I love the New York way, but looking back, I know living in such a tiny space was torturous at times.
9 p.m. Lying in bed with my husband, he mentions that he got me something for our anniversary. I hate getting presents now because when he was having the affair, he got me more gifts than usual. He knows to tread lightly here. “Come on, it’s our anniversary. It’s something small. You’ll be okay if I give it to you tomorrow, right? I won’t if you don’t want me to.” I tell him it’s fine and then turn my back and try to fall asleep.
8 a.m. I’m excited today because a vintage rug I found in the city is arriving. It’s going to make my entire living room come together. I’m embarrassed by the joy I find in all this, but this is my life now!
11:30 a.m. The rug arrives, and I love it. The delivery guys are hot, and after they leave, I masturbate thinking about them taking turns fucking me.
4 p.m. I pick the girls up, and we go to the bakery to get the anniversary cake and then decorate the house “before Daddy gets home.”
7 p.m. He walks in the door and looks very pleased with our homemade party. He cries a little bit. I know what’s really behind those tears, but the girls think he’s just touched by our effort.
10 p.m. We always have sex on our anniversary, and tonight is no different. It’s good sex. He goes down on me. We fuck in a couple of different positions. I fake my orgasm, but I almost always fake my orgasm. He comes. We hold each other and fall asleep in each other’s arms. It’s nice … it really is.
11 a.m. I’m picking up the girls early to go to Brooklyn for the weekend. My brother has a spare bedroom, so we like to do the reverse commute and see our Brooklyn friends this way. I tell my husband to stay back because our house still has a ton of repairs and he needs to do them when he’s not working. Do I worry about him alone in the house for an entire weekend? Yes. Do I try to avoid those thoughts? All day and all night.
5 p.m. I miss so many restaurants now that I live in the burbs. Tonight we get Indian food, and I eat it like it’s my last meal.
8 p.m. We’re all tucked in and ready for bed.
8:15 p.m. We FaceTime with my husband, who looks perfectly normal at our house, but I notice he’s drinking a cocktail. It feels like a clue. He will sometimes drink a beer or a glass of wine if we have an open bottle. I mention it casually, and I can tell he feels I’m being suspicious and he acts like he’s being attacked for no reason. The FaceTime ends in a tense way. Again, this is my life now.
9 a.m. It’s a blast being back in the city. I love walking everywhere. My girls are in their natural habitat. I love our house, and I’m comfortable with our move — I think it was the right thing for us — but I’ll never turn on this place. We get rainbow bagels at our favorite bagel shop. It’s a delightful September day.
1 p.m. We’re at an outdoor concert. I look around and see a few attractive men. I don’t know if I’m looking for a revenge affair or what, but I’m certainly not as blindly loyal to my husband as I always was.
4 p.m. I’m having wine with my brother and his girlfriend and talking about my marriage. They all know the truth (my entire family does). I feel like they’re trying to tell me my husband is a scumbag, but they either don’t want to go too far or are conflicted by the whole essential-worker thing and don’t want to sound awful. But I know my brother like the back of my hand, and I can tell he hates my husband for what he did to me.
8 p.m. The kids and I are tucked into bed, and I’m reading them their last bedtime story. My husband FaceTimes, and we all tell him we miss him. He says he wants to come meet us in the city in the morning. I tell him it’s unnecessary because we’ll be home later in the day. The truth is, I don’t want him to see my brother. It’s just too upsetting when my family is around him. I think I feel judged by them for staying with him, even though it comes from a place of love.
9 a.m. “So why did you stay with him?” my brother’s girlfriend asks as we pour our coffees in their apartment. “It’s a good question. People make mistakes,” I say, shrugging. He made a huge mistake. Epic. But did I want to blow up our lives because of it? Not really. It’s hard to explain. I didn’t want to get divorced. I don’t want to raise my kids as a single mom or with custody rules or battles or whatever. I wasn’t interested in any of that. If he cheats on me again, maybe I will feel different …
12 p.m. We have a great picnic in Prospect Park. Friends stop by to say hello, and everyone goes on and on about how great my husband is. I am happy they think that.
3 p.m. I stop by a store that has a mid-century credenza I’m interested in while my brother takes the girls for ice cream. It’s all very Brooklyn.
4 p.m. We get in my car and head home to see Daddy. I’m happy to drive toward my pretty house on a pretty street and leave the chaos of the city behind. I’m excited to see my husband, too. I actually am.
6 p.m. We walk in the house and it’s clean and it smells good and there are fresh flowers on the table. I feel something resembling … I don’t know, hope? Let’s call it hope. The family hugs, and I head to my kitchen to start dinner.