Answer: Yes. Legit sad. Of course. As I'm fond of pointing out here on SI, I'm quite skeptical that the majority of infidelity happens in the context of bad marriages.
It certainly wasn't a bad marriage in my case, and it's quite baffling to try to apply the rational thought process of a faithful partner (yourself, me) to the decision-making of an unfaithful spouse. Why would they do something so toxic and destructive in the middle of a good marriage?
Yes, of course, faithless spouses come up with retroactive narratives (and often predictive programming in advance of their infidelity) about how bad their marriages are/were -- but this typically falls apart under scrutiny and as the unfaithful spouse tries to give blameshifting voice to this flawed narrative inside their own brains. Once the actual blameshifting words start being spoken, these narratives start sounding increasingly desperate and foolish.
Take our divorce rate as a nation. Are we to assume 50 percent of marriages are bad or went bad?
Boy that sure doesn't say a lot for the institution of marriage, that your odds of experiencing a good marriage are equivalent to rolling a hard six. If that's the case, what's the point of getting married in the first place? Yet people keep doing it year after year. (side note here: I'll just say I do have some severe doubts about the institution of marriage now, given that both genders have achieved parity for being faithless -- your odds of being betrayed by your husband or wife and then divorcing are quite high, and I think this may be one reason younger people are increasingly reluctant to sign for something that has a high likelihood of turning into a heartbreaking toxic shit show at midlife).
A huge chunk of divorces stem from infidelity.
It's probably more reasonable to say that most marriages are good, and that most infidelity happens inside what any objective observer would say were good marriages that unfaithful partners disregarded and threw away. Even adultery apologists like Esther Perel concede this point.
I think it's reasonable to assume that most marriages are good, and when infidelity happens in the context of a good marriage, what was good now becomes soured -- i.e. bad.
I have to remind myself that this is the present, this is the reality I'm living in. And no amount of woulda coulda shoulda is going to change that. So regardless of the good marriage I had before -- and it was good -- I can't go back and live inside that marriage anymore. I have to confront the reality of what I have now instead, every single goddamned morning in fact.
As sad as it makes me to think about the good marriage I had before, I try to focus on the fact that I know I was a good husband, a loyal husband, an attractive husband, a good father, a stable provider. So I think less about the marriage and more about my own place in it, my own role.
A friend here on SI recently helped me reframe this: Don't take pride in your marriage that the infidelity killed off. At the same time, don't allow anyone, especially including your unfaithful spouse, to tarnish the intact memory and empirical grounding for what you know was in fact a good marriage.
But instead focus your feelings of pride (not vain pride, but justified pride) in how YOU acquitted yourself. Focus on that instead.
[This message edited by Thumos at 10:47 PM, Wednesday, October 13th]