Something’s Not Right

This is part one of my story of recovering from my wife’s affair and rebuilding our marriage.

“Something’s not right about yesterday,” I tell her.

“What do you mean?” she asks.

I had asked my wife to sit across from me on the sofa in our living room, so I could face her directly from my chair. We needed to talk, I told her.

The evening before, she had been driving home from a rare day in the office downtown — we usually both work from home. She was picking up pizza for herself, me, our high school senior daughter and one of our twin sons, who was home from college for the holidays. It was nine days before Christmas.

I had wanted to gauge her arrival time with the pizza, so I had tracked her phone to see where she was, but she hadn’t shown up in the app. After she arrived home, I had asked to see her phone so I could figure out what was wrong.

I take a deep breath now, and tell her, “When I looked at your phone last night, and then I told you that your location had been deliberately turned off, your reaction was odd.”

The night before, when I handed her phone back to her, she didn’t ask what had been wrong with it, but I told her anyway. “Find My iPhone had been turned off.”

She hadn’t reacted at all. She didn’t attempt a “What? That’s weird. I have no idea how that happened.” In retrospect, I assume she thought she wouldn’t be able to pull it off convincingly, so she said nothing and went back to eating her pizza.

The moment was just weird enough to make alarm bells sound in my head. I spent the rest of the night trying to process it. Was there really something wrong here, or was I just allowing my brain to run off in paranoid directions? I hadn’t been suspicious of her at all leading up to this. In fact, the real possibility that my wife was hiding something serious from me honestly hadn’t occurred to me once in our twenty-three years of marriage.

I didn’t talk to her much the rest of the night. She could tell something was wrong, and she asked me about it, but she was strangely willing to let it go when I replied, “No, it’s nothing. I’m fine.”

Normally she would not have accepted that from me. She would have pushed for an answer until she got one, so her apparent indifference to my mood only heightened my concern. My wife took one of her late-evening baths, and I went to bed with a sense of dread in the pit of my stomach. But there was also a voice in my head saying, “You’re being ridiculous. It’s nothing.”

The following morning, I woke up feeling better. As I lay in bed next to my sleeping wife, that comforting voice was louder, more insistent. “It’s all in your mind. It has to be.”

But I still couldn’t push the gnawing doubt aside.

As I was brushing my teeth I looked to see whether her phone was in its usual spot, plugged in next to her sink, ready to sound her alarm at seven o’clock. It was.

I’ve always known her passcode. She knows mine. We don’t keep secrets from one another, not about important stuff anyway. There’s never been any reason to. That’s the way it’s always been.

I typed in her passcode and immediately saw her Snapchat icon was showing an “8” in a red circle. That seemed weird; I didn’t know her to be an avid Snapchat user. I tapped the icon.

As soon as the app came up, I knew.

There, at the top of the list of chats, in bold — alerting to the eight messages — was the name of her high school sweetheart. The one who had dumped her several months before she and I went out on a blind date, over twenty-five years ago. The one who sent her into depression. Depression that she told me I had come along and rescued her from. I was her knight in shining armor. This guy was the ogre. That had always been the story, anyway.

And yet, there was his name. In bold, at the top of the list. On the right side of it was a gold heart icon and a fire icon. I would later learn that these icons indicated she had been talking to him frequently, and for a while.

I had the presence of mind to snap one image of my wife’s Snapchat screen. Photo by author.

As I tapped his name, I noticed I was shaking. I suddenly couldn’t catch my breath. My heart was racing. The messages between them appeared on the screen. I could see messages from my wife and from him, but even though I’m writing this just a few days later, I honestly can’t now recall what they said. Seriously, I can’t remember more than four words. The only thing I remember verbatim was the last message, from him, sometime late during the night: “Sorry, I fell asleep.”

Aside from that, all I know is I saw those eight messages for a few seconds, and they made some things clear to me. They had been talking for a while — this was a conversation between people comfortable and affectionate with one-another. And something seemed to confirm they had been together the day before.

Not thinking, I tapped “back”… or something. Whatever I did, as soon as I left that screen, Snapchat did its thing and erased all of the messages. They were gone now, like they’d never been there at all.

I dropped to my knees at her sink. I tried to quiet my heart and slow my breathing. I looked through a few other apps. I didn’t find anything else incriminating, but I didn’t need to. I put her phone back down and finished my usual morning routine, in a daze. My mind was reeling, dozens of emotions fighting for dominance and forming a cacophony of feelings.

For the next hour and a half, I sat downstairs and waited, in a state of disbelief, anger, pain — a combination and intensity of emotions I had never felt in our marriage. Our daughter got up and got ready for school. As she left, I went through my traditional daily goodbye to her: “I love you. Be good. Learn lots of stuff.”

Finally, my wife came downstairs just after our daughter left. She brought our two dogs downstairs with her, and we fed them and let them outside. We poured ourselves some coffee. Our son remained upstairs in his room, asleep.

I asked my wife to come sit across from me.

Part two.