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I Knew I Would Have an Affair: But Not With Another Man

Part I: A few stolen moments is all that we had

Part 1 of II

I’m going to have an affair.

I cannot live like this, feeling this alone in my marriage. Up to that point, this thought was one I hadn’t allowed myself to think. After eighteen years of marriage, I had never been unfaithful to my wife, and I had never thought of ending the marriage.

I’m going to have an affair. The thought had been even further removed from my mind than divorce. It was contrary to everything I professed to believe. I had not yet met the woman with whom I intended to have that affair.

I sat at the kitchen table at our home just outside of Ames, Iowa, desperately alone. It was Saturday evening, and I was home alone with our two daughters. Lynn had gone to Kansas City with a new friend she’d met while taking pre-law classes at Iowa State University. She had told me to expect her to be home on Sunday afternoon.

JBilhan, Used with permission
Source: JBilhan, Used with permission

Before moving to Ames, my wife and I had lived ten years on a small farm on the coast of Maine. We decided to move back to be nearer to our families. Although we made the decision supposedly to be close to our families in Nebraska, it was more likely an attempt to save our marriage.

Lynn and I had both grown up in small towns in Nebraska, where everyone looked alike, thought alike, and believed alike. In 1985, divorce had not touched our family, our friends, or even our community. "One man, one woman, until death do us part." Things had to be bad to break that vow.

I felt alone and abandoned. Every effort I had made to make our relationship better had reached a dead end. Of course, I accused her of not even trying.

I was hungry for some intimacy, some touch, some connection, but I couldn’t make it happen. I wrote Dear Lynn, I have made the decision that I must leave you.

I lay my pen down to allow myself to feel my overwhelming sadness and sense of failure. What should I write next? Would suicide be a better option? Maybe I should just have an affair.

I lost my own father when I was three years old. Although I was always a bit uncertain about how to be a father, I had been convinced that I would always be there for my kids. I would be interlocked in our two daughters’ lives, and I would be the best father I was capable of being.

As I sat there, pondering what to write next — the thought was too new to have a well thought out plan — Lynn unexpectedly walked in the door. I quickly crumpled the note, stood to give her a stiff hug, and said, “I’m glad you’re back.”

You’re very angry with your wife.

In the days that followed, Lynn and I spoke briefly about the strain in our marriage. Lynn didn’t want to see a marriage counselor, so we agreed to each see our own therapist.

As a therapist, it is difficult to choose one for yourself. You find out rather quickly who you think the best ones are, but by then, you’ve collaborated with all of them. You have worked with them as colleagues and, at the minimum, have a professional friendship.

I called a psychiatrist in Des Moines, whom I had not met, but he had an excellent reputation. I expressed a sense of urgency, and he agreed to see me for a half-hour during his lunch.

I heard only one interpretation the psychiatrist made: You’re very angry with your wife.

I reacted silently, as many of my own patients do. This is not my problem. She is the one who needs to change.

When Lynn returned from her appointment, I was hoping her psychologist had fixed her. “What did your therapist tell you?”

“She said, ‘You smile a lot for someone so unhappy.’”

Neither of us rescheduled a followup appointment.

One afternoon at the gym

I am a reluctant exerciser, but in 1985 I was in the best physical shape I was ever in. On alternate days, I ran four to six miles and biked about thirty miles. I weighed the same as I did when I graduated from high school.

I hadn’t grown passionate about exercising or losing weight. What I was excited about was having a legitimate reason for being away from the friction at home. Who can question the motivation for fitness?

One afternoon at the gym, I had completed my workout, showered, and was slowly dressing, mentally preparing myself for returning to the demilitarized zone at home. Standing thirty feet away from me in the locker room was a man I’d guessed as about ten years younger than I. I was forty-two years old.

He was slightly taller than me, dirty blonde, slightly receding hair, slender but not overly muscular. Not effeminate, but not entirely masculine either. He smiled at me with a smile that only a Chesire cat could envy. When I looked at him, he did not look away as most men would do, so I invented reasons to search through the gym bag I packed before my trip home.

When I looked back at him, he was still looking at me with an unwavering expression. I grew uncomfortable, but at the same time, intrigued. I busied myself again, artificially delaying my departure. I looked back at him, and his smile had impossibly grown even broader.

He nodded his head toward a door that exited the locker room. He then walked toward the doorway, and inexplicably I followed him, twenty paces behind.

He confidently walked down a long, industrial corridor to a small, lockable men’s room. It appeared not to be his first visit. By the time I entered, he was already standing at the urinal, cock in his hand, and he turned to show me he was hard. We didn’t touch.

He asked, “Do you have a place?”

“Huh?” I responded, unable to understand his Spanish-accented, very broken English. Even if his English had been better, I’m not sure I would have correctly understood what he was suggesting.

He repeated, “Do you have a place?”

As he continued to pull on his penis, I understood the intent more unquestionably.

“Uh, no.”

“You come to my place? Tuesday, 2:30?”

“Where do you live?” He gave me the address of an apartment in Iowa State’s graduate school housing.

“Yes. I’ll be there.”

We walked in different directions as we left the men’s room. As I walked back to the locker room to get my gym bag, I thought I am going to get my first blow job.

I was stunned to meet her, even though I, too, had a wife at home.

When anticipation and opportunity meet, brain chemistries suffocate rational thought.

I drove past the address on my way home to make sure I knew where he lived.

On Tuesday, I stopped my red Corolla in front of his place at 2:00, a half-hour earlier than we’d agreed. I anxiously walked to his door and knocked.

A woman with stylishly frosted hair, trim and casually well-dressed, answered the door. “May I help you?” She also spoke with a Spanish accent, but I understood her easily. Her voice carried a tone that let me know that she had absolutely no interest in helping me.

“Uh, uh, uh. I think I have the wrong address.” I was stunned to meet her, even though I, too, had a wife at home.

We both knew I had exactly the right address.

I had never been with a man.

The next time we met was an unplanned meeting at the gym. He was not happy with me. “Why you come at 2:00 o’clock? I told you come 2:30.”

“I’m sorry. I was excited to see you. Was that your wife?”

“Si.” He corrected himself, “yes.”

He told me his name was Roberto, that he and his wife were both graduate students in architecture at Iowa State. They had just come to Iowa from Argentina. He said his wife was scheduled to be a teaching assistant in a design studio starting at 2:30. He reminded me again that he’d been explicit about the time I should come.

He explained that she was suspicious of him because he had told her before their marriage that he was bisexual and had had male lovers in the past.

I explained to him that I had never been with a man, and this was all new to me.

We agreed to meet again.

Part I of II

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