Justifying When an Affair IS For the Greater Good

Sometimes it isn’t what you think

Image by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

I know, I know — if I were a puritan woman I’d be whipped at a cart’s tail or sporting a deliciously crimson A on my indigo-dyed wool shift.

But this isn’t the late 16th century and I am not Hester Prynne. This is 2021 and I am a highly sexual 48-year-old woman choosing confinement in a sexless marriage. Some people call my boyfriend-on-the-side a disgusting affair while others applaud my thinking-outside-the-box because the box I’m satiating is my own.

The background

Let me explain. About four years ago at age 47, my husband was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Due to family history, we had been on high alert. Everything became suspect from the time he forgot how to locate his best friend’s house to the moment he tried to remove his underwear without first taking off his pants.

Here we are four years later and my husband does little more at home than stare at his phone screen and exist. Without someone directly beside him, he doesn’t shower, the recycling box ends up hidden in the basement, and dirty dishes get put back in the cupboard between clean ones.

Our conversations consist of repeated questions, mainly about the weather or how we slept. He has taken to changing clothes in the washroom, eating three times what he used to, and letting an invisible cat in and out.

Caring for someone with dementia is extremely challenging and an endless, thankless job. Living with him is stressful. And trying to find joy in wiping meals from his beard and feces from the toilet has escaped me.

I did learn quickly at our journey’s start that self-care is critical. I began training for the marathon I’d always wanted to do, eating more vegetables than grow in the state of Maine, and attending support groups and therapy sessions.

The problem

Still, anger and loneliness blossomed. I missed having someone to joke and converse with. I longed to discuss silly things like which golf celebrity looks best in their emerald master’s jacket as well as more serious issues like responses to our teen’s hormonal drama or long-term financial goals.

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