Here’s the why. This is the how.
Husband and are coming up on fourteen years together, thirteen of them in a legal tax-sharing agreement recognized by our state and celebrated drunkenly by my dad, angrily by my mom, and privately by us in our home a month before the big day when, after the Reception Location Skirmish, the Battle of the Invitations and the Mother of the Bride’s Dress Melee, we realized that getting married and having a wedding are two only coincidently congruent events. I have cheated for at least ten of those years, maybe twelve, had permission to do so (of which I nonetheless violated both the spirit and the letter) for two, campaigned for that permission for six or seven years, and prior to that, just slept around.
He almost always knew. He almost always knows. I’m not that good a liar. But I’m a damn good cheater. Which brings us to our lesson for the day.
There’s no point in hiding your cheating if you want out – use it as an excuse, or better yet, pack your bags and leave the key behind. Sometimes cheating is an outlet, a vent, or a window through which to step back and view your full-time relationship. Ex-Lover was much kinder to his wife once he started sleeping with me. Their relationship got better. Better enough that he realized, even when it’s good, I don’t want to be here.
And your fulltime partner must want to keep you. It’s very, very easy to get caught, unless your partner has a vested interest in the status quo. When they want to believe you, to believe that things are okay, they will wrap their minds around excuses and alibis you wouldn’t buy from a class-cutting ninth-grader.
Yeah, people were running around with water balloons at the barbecue lunch today, James got me right in the head.
I got pulled over for not having a headlight, I think I should stay in Next State Over tonight and come back in the morning
I’m just a little edgy tonight, I’m gonna go for a drive.
Try to pick someone who has as much to lose as you do. At that early stage when you notice you really like them, that’s a good place to say to yourself, will this person lose their marriage, their job, their image, their security if they tell about me? If the answer is no, it’s worth turning your attentions elsewhere, filing them under Would’ve Been Nice.
Establish and maintain a reputation. I’m flaky about some things – I can leave the house for milk and come back three hours later with a new couch – and rock-solid on others. My friends all joke about how Husband and I talk on the phone nine times a day. Which means anyone I’m with has to be okay with me ducking into the bathroom, the other room, or the car to make call number eight. If I can’t take his calls because I’m fucking, I turn off the phone so I can claim bad reception later. Likewise, make your alibis realistic – if you’re in a restaurant, be in a restaurant. If you’re out of town, be in the same town you said you were. The easiest alibi is the whole truth minus your lover’s presence. And making your friends lie for you is hard to control, difficult to get the details straight, and rotten to your friends, who shouldn’t have that burden.
Lying to two people is hard, so don’t cheat with someone if you can’t tell them the truth. Why deal with angry vengefulness because you forgot to mention your fulltime partner? Why hurt someone who thinks you’re a potential permanent relationship if you don’t have to?
Finally, keep something sacred. Beyond health and safety (duh), if your partner is really worth keeping, it’s good to have something or things that keep you mindful. After our private wedding, Husband and I went for sushi, the food we love, the food we eat wherever we can. I do not eat sushi with lovers of any stripe – not takeout, not happens-to-be-at-the-Chinese-buffet, not one tuna roll from the grocery store. I have eaten sushi with ex-Lover once, before he was my lover. It was the night he became my friend.
It hurt me more when Husband took his girlfriend for sushi than that he had a girlfriend.
Ex-Lover still refuses to eat sushi with me.