It’s easy to judge the other woman when you’re on the outside looking in.
But what if you were the one who met the guy who made you feel things you've never felt before?
Would you just brush him off, forget he exists, and carry on with your life, knowing full well that you’ll always be miserable having let the great love of your life go? Or would you fight for that love, face the challenges that come with it head-on, and stand by him in the hopes of coming out on the other side together?
Me? I chose the latter.
I met Charles* at work when I was 23. He was introduced to me by a female co-worker and I immediately thought to myself, “Cute guy.” A week passed, and the same co-worker told me that Charles had been asking her for my number but she didn’t want to give him my digits because Charles’s situation was, in her words, “complicated.” Then she dropped the bomb: Charles was actually married. With kids. While I thought he was cute, I didn’t want to get entangled with a married man, so I thought nothing of it.
One day, I bumped into Charles in the corridor at work. After exchanging pleasantries, he said, “Ang hirap naman kunin ng number mo, baka dito pwede na.” I was put on the spot, and I figured there’d be no harm in it since he was married anyway, so what the hell, right? I went ahead and gave him my number.
We started talking through text, and one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was saying yes to dinner with him.
I did try to fend him off at first, but he was very persistent. I asked him “’Di ba married ka?” to which he replied, “’Yun nga problema ko eh, but I will try to fix that later.” That’s when I realized that his marriage wasn’t a happy one.
As the days passed, I found myself falling for Charles. I kept beating myself up over the romance that was brewing between us, because even though I wanted him, my conscience wouldn’t let me get away with it so easily.
“P*tangina, sa lahat ng lalaki, bakit siya pa?” I often asked myself.
I knew that we had to stop whatever we were doing, but we couldn’t do it. We had gotten in too deep.
Months later, Charles and I exchanged our first I-love-yous and became a couple. We had to keep our relationship under wraps, considering the situation. At work, we could never be seen together and we had to keep denying the relationship because technically, he was still with his wife. And I was okay with that arrangement because he had promised that he would make everything right.
I had a few close friends who knew about the relationship, and of course they told me to just end it. I knew they were right, and I wanted so badly to do the right thing.
I tried to leave him a few times but he would always try to win me back—and I couldn’t resist. Despite the setbacks, I did love him, after all.
More than a year later, with still no sign that he was leaving his wife for me, I decided to end it for good. I was so determined to get out of the relationship, I gave Charles what I hoped would be my final “no.” As I did, he turned emotional, and he admitted to me that he was terminally ill. I was shocked. I couldn’t leave him, knowing what I knew then. I promptly forgot all the reasons I wanted to leave in the first place and I took him back, promising to take care of him through his ordeal.
Then I got pregnant. It was unexpected, but it was something Charles and I were actually happy about, knowing that he was sick and could die anytime.
I had long wanted to talk to Charles’s wife, Amy*, but I never had the chance, nor did I ever muster up the courage. One day during my pregnancy, it finally happened. Amy confronted me. She had found out about me and the pregnancy, and was hysterical. She told me that she and Charles were still together, and revealed this: he wasn’t terminally ill at all.
At that moment, everything seemed to crash down on me. I felt betrayed. Scared. Lost. Heartbroken. Imagine finding out that the guy you loved so deeply had been feeding you lies all this time. Charles begged for my forgiveness and continued to swear that he would fix things. He said he loved me too much that he had to make up that story about him being sick so I wouldn’t leave him. I had had enough of his lies, so I turned him away and resolved to just focus on the baby. Still, he stuck around and continued to prove that I was the one he wanted to be with, even as I kept rejecting him.
Months after I gave birth, Amy contacted me again, but this time it was to tell me that she was leaving him for good. As she did, I apologized to her. No matter what she thought of me, I never wanted to cause her or anyone pain, and I was truly sorry because that is exactly what happened anyway. Still, it was a great relief for both of us: for me to no longer have to feel guilty about my love for Charles, and for her to be free from the angst her failed marriage had brought her.
She and I were calm and civil as we talked, and we agreed to just stay out of each other’s business. That was the last time I talked to her.
Charles and I are still together, and we have two kids now. His marriage is yet to be annulled, but he and Amy are separated, and that’s good enough for me. I no longer beat myself up over his marriage; instead, I choose to focus on what’s best for our kids, and for his kids with her as well. He sees them every now and then, and while I used to be paranoid about him spending time with his other family, now I’ve learned to live with it.
It’s been almost a decade since the day I met Charles, and I’ve been blessed with a lot since then: our kids, my career, my own business, and a relationship with the love of my life that, although stormy at the start, has now calmed down to a satisfying contentment.
Someday, he’ll pursue that annulment so we can officially be together, but for now, we’ll wait until the kids are mature enough to understand why it has to be so. For now, we’ll continue to be a team throughout the odds—no legal document required.
*Names have been changed