The story of love that rarely gets told.

You strike a match, sending an orange peel of firelight into the cold air. You both love these getaways next to a roaring fire under an open, starry sky. This mountain camping trip marks your five-year anniversary.

You grilled chicken and talked about all the things you wanted to accomplish together. You packed up a basket of bread, cheese, and apples and went to eat on a grassy hill overlooking a glassy lake. The sun peeked down from the clouds as you both fell asleep.

Where many couples spoke with banality and resignation, your conversation was full of laughter and surprise, like two young lovers, between their most intimate moments.

You discussed remodeling the house. You bounced around a few ideas for kid’s names. Many said marriage would be difficult, full of trade-offs, compromise, and fights. None of those predictions came to be.

The long weekend has included some of the best days of your marriage. Now, you’ve decided to go take the canoe out on the water. You both walk down the dock. You hold her hand as she steps into the canoe while using your foot to stabilize it.

You climb in after her and tease that this is how every 80’s horror movie starts. You pick up a paddle and begin gliding out across the still mountain lake.

It is quiet and cool. The breeze is soft. You stop out near the middle. You both lean back, facing each other. The sound of the canoe sloshes quietly in the pristine water.

There are mountains to the north with snow-capped peaks, separated by yawning green valleys. Around the lake, a wall of pines towers above the ground. And, in front of you, is your beautiful wife.

You admire her dark flowing hair, her magnetic green eyes, the sun reflecting up and at her from the water. You wonder how you could be so lucky. It doesn’t even seem fair.

She catches you staring at her.

“What?” she says, with a grin.

You smile. You say, “I love you.”

She’s cheating on you. It’s worse than you would imagine.

It started two years ago with a coworker. Every month or so, he comes over while you’re working or on weekends while you’re traveling.

When he isn’t there, they text periodically, occasionally talking on the phone. When they are at your house, they are in your bed. Her back is arched. Her eyes are closed. She is moaning and screaming his name. Some days, you’ll come home and be intimate with her only hours after the fact.

The affair will continue for years. Eventually, things will become more complicated. Feelings will develop. Emotions will run. They will say, “I love you”, in hushed tones.

After she has your children, she will realize the affair can’t go on anymore. She will end it. Then, a few years later, it will start again. And then, finally, he will end it once and for all.

She is cheating on you.

She will continue cheating on you.

And you, and many spouses like you, will never know.

She smiles back, “I love you too.”

Joseph A. Cornacchia