"My husband cheated on me repeatedly for 12 years, but I still love him."

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Mom blogger Arcee Miranda of The Bag Investigator opens up to theAsianparent about her journey through heartbreak and healing...

Over the years, Arcee Miranda has gained an online following as a mom lifestyle blogger. What started out as a blog to share her love for beautiful bags soon evolved into a space for her to bare her heart, an honest medium to share her journey as a parent to an LGBT teen, cancer warrior, and wife who's been married for 12 years.

In the past, the cancer survivor recounted her journey on theAsianparent Philippines, writing how doctors had given her five years to live back in 2011. Two years on, she is healthy, strong, and just as honest about her life and struggles, in the hope of helping others struggling with similar problems.

Over coffee, she opened up to this writer about a recent controversial blog entry, wherein she enumerates the reasons why her husband still loves her despite his infidelity. Naturally, it was shared around the blogging community. "Naging controversial, which is wrong. Dapat private na lang ata. Pero madaming shares, daming nakaka-relate," she shrugged.

"Ngayon ko lang nalaman na madaming ibang kinds of cheating, kung may checklist lang ako, madaming check. Feeling ko lahat na ng kinds ng cheating na-experience ko na..."

"Ngayon ko lang nalaman na madaming ibang kinds of cheating, kung may checklist lang ako, madaming check. Feeling ko lahat na ng kinds ng cheating na-experience ko na," she says, jumping right in without hesitation, as if we are old friends.

When asked how she coped, she revealed she began by facing it head on.

"Kasi ang daming beses na nag-cheat siya, sabi ko nga kung ilan bag ko, ganun na rin kadaming beses," confided the blogger mom behind The Bag Investigator, adding how it's her longtime, deep friendship with her husband that helps her stick it out despite the pain.

"Kahit minsan 'di siya nagsabi na aalis siya. Alam niya kung paano ako susuyuin kasi we’ve been friends since we were kids, I was about 9, magka-babata kami. So 'pag nawala na yung friendship, mas mahirap nang mag-patch up," shared the 29-year-old mom of two, who gave birth to her eldest son with her husband, who is 8 years her senior, when she was 15 years old.

"May nabasa akong article, much deeper daw ang teenage love, kaysa mature love. Ewan ko lang kung tama, pero in my case totoo siguro," she mused.

Choosing not to detail all the affairs, she simply elaborated on the latest one. "The latest one, 5 years silang together on and off."

Her husband didn't confess nor did he deny it when confronted, much like the other affairs he had in the past.

"Hindi ko masasabing I’ve fallen out of love, at siya din hindi. Kasi hindi naming inisip parehas na maghiwalay na lang tayo."

"Yung gut feel ko sobrang lakas. Pagtinanong ko siya, umaamin siya. Hindi siya yung marami pang paliwanag. Kaya siguro, yung forgiveness, mahirap. Until now, forgiveness 'di pa ganun, pero kasi papasok bigla yung dahil magkaibigan kayo kailangan kahit konti, kahit a drop of trust meron," she explained.

She tried changing her approach from lenient to strict, but neither worked. So she decided to simply work on restoring their closeness as friends, choosing not to pry about why he cheated in the first place.

"Hindi ko na tinanong ang naging reason niya for infidelity," she revealed. "Pero sabi ko nga, hindi mahirap tanggapin o i-accept siya. Kasi yung friendship andun."

Despite everything, neither of them ever truly considered ending things.

"Mahirap i-explain," she stated, pausing before saying, "Hindi ko masasabing I’ve fallen out of love, at siya din hindi. Kasi hindi naming inisip parehas na maghiwalay na lang tayo."

Continuing, she revealed that the woman with whom her husband last cheated with has been harassing their family for four months.

Because of her persistence, Arcee started having doubts about whether she should stay with him and keep trusting him. Is their marriage really okay?

Next page: What happened when she came face to face with the other woman? What did she tell her husband about cheating again in the future?

Unlike most women who catch their husband "in the act" Arcee says she's managed to deal with it calmly. After seeing messages from the woman, she was direct with her husband, asking him: "Are you planning to go with her? Kayo na?"

"Mabait ako, pero pagnagalit ako sobra," she recalls warning him, "Kaya sabi ko sakanya, sabihin doon sa babae, huwag antayin mapuno ako."

She even met up with them at the office and gave her "their blessing."

"Ang hinihingi lang ng babae huwag daw magskandalo. Sabi ko, don’t worry di ko yan bibigay sayo..."

"Ang hinihingi lang ng babae huwag daw magskandalo. Sabi ko, don’t worry di ko yan bibigay sayo. Kasi hindi ako ganung klaseng tao. He asked kung puede pero magsasama pa din kami, yung parang open relationship. Ang weird niya diba?"

We all deal with betrayal differently, for Arcee it was talking it through, considering the situation objectively, and giving her husband a choice.

"Tinatanong ko kung minahal ba niya talaga. Sabi niya nag-kiss sila, tinanong ko may na-feel ka? Straightforward. Ako, gusto ko daanan step by step. Yung sa iba masasaktan eh," she said, clarifying that she still gets hurt, when it involves her kids. "It was my way of coping with the pain. Masakit, siyempre. Pero yung siguro ako talaga."

"The girl threatened to harass my son sa school, so I talked to the principal. She's 37, same age as my husband. I'm 29, she called me ate, doon ako na-hurt actually kaya nagpa-derma ako the next day," she managed to joke.

"The girl told me hayaan sila kasi nga pregnant siya, I told her puede ko ipa-DNA baka di yan sa amin, hindi na siya sumagot."

Knowing the truth may have hurt, but it shielded her from further pain when the other woman claimed to be pregnant. She fought back with a simple reply.

"The girl told me hayaan sila kasi nga pregnant siya, I told her puede ko ipa-DNA baka di yan sa amin, hindi na siya sumagot."

Continuing, she said, "So alam ko lahat. So nung yung girl gawa nang gawa ng kwento, hindi niya alam na alam ko. Hindi niya alam na ganun kami ka-open sa isa’t isa."

Her sons, who are 14 and 10 years old, are aware of their marital problems, but though Arcee says they fight in front of their kids, they still do so calmly.

"Hindi nag-aaway na parang normal na mag-asawa, nag-sasagutan sa harap nila pero hindi kami nagsasakitan o nagsisigawan. Naranasan ko na din magalit," she clarifies, adding that her gay 14-year-old son had even received threats from his dad's other woman. The messages, she says, were blatant lies that were obviously meant to drive a wedge between the father and son.

"Sabi kinakahiya daw siya ng dad niya, which is walang ganun, sobrang supportive ng husband ko. Tawag pa sa kanya achi," she said, referring to the Chinese term for "big sister."

"Alam ko kung sino at ano ang asawa ko kasi ang tagal na naming magkakilala," she emphasized.

Despite this, she even told her husband to end things properly with the other woman.

"I told my husband na bigyan din ng closure kasi as a woman alam ko masakit yon. A few days after, ayun nag-start na siya. Dami niyang sinasabing masasakit na salita, which hindi ko matanggap."

Next page: "Siguro namatay yung love, na-lowbatt pero andun pa din. I still love him."

Naturally, she confessed, she had doubts about herself, as most jilted women would: "Am I not enough? Pangit ba ako? Sinisisi ko sarili ko bakit siya nangaliwa, paulit-ulit. Umiyak yung husband ko sa akin, saying it's his choice na lokohin ako paulit-ulit pero tinatanggap ko pa rin siya."

At the end of the day, all betrayed spouses have a choice: to leave or to stay.

"My guy friends say maybe I'm too dependent on my husband. Sabi ko OA? Kaya ko buhayin sarili ko kahit nag-ba blog lang ako, may negosyo kami," she continued.

As devoted as a mom as she is, her reason for staying isn't for her kids, either.

"Hindi puedeng reason dahil sa kids. Hind reason yon ng isang matinong babae. Hindi yun eh. Kasi kung gusto kong iwan yan, iniwan ko na. Noon pa."

Through it all, she says, the love weakened, but it never diminished.

"Siguro namatay yung love, na-lowbatt pero andun pa din. I still love him."

"Siguro namatay yung love, na-lowbatt pero andun pa din," she reflects. "I still love him."

The heartache also reminder her of the importance of self-love, as a way to heal and pick up the pieces.

"Siguro yung natutunan ko for the past 12 years kaming married, natutunan ko na huwag mo ibigay sa kanya ang lahat---love, affection---minsan pag overwhelming din yung binibigay mo, naghahanap pa rin sila ng iba," advised Arcee, adding how she neglected to care for herself over the years. "Naging madaling isipin minsan na nagkulang din ako, ayoko na mag-ayos, magpa-parlor, kasi nagtitipid ako. Nakalimutan ko na alagaan sarili ko, pati hilig ko sa bags nawala!"

"Don't forget to love yourself," emphasizes the strong mom. "Kung paano ka naalala ni hubby, i-maintain mo yun, na minimaintain mo rin paano mag-alaga ng pamilya. Pero mahirap maging nanay. Mahirap maging asawa. Hindi mo puwedeng laging unahin sarili mo, pero dapat mahalin mo din sarili mo. Walang recipe sa isang masayang pamilya, masayang marriage."

For an outsider or even a relative or friend, it may be easy to tell her to just leave her husband, but she's come to an age where she could not care less about what other people will say.

"Totoo yan, naranasan ko din yan. Dati, takot ako sa sasabihin ng iba pero nung medyo ume-edad na ko, lalo na ngayon, parang sinabi ko sa sarili ko na wala na kong pakialam sa sasabihin ng iba. Family ko 'to, husband ko 'to, love life ko 'to, wala kayong pake...parang ganun," she said with conviction.

"Sinabi ko pa, kung uulit ka, gusto ko yung bago, iintindihin yung kapakanan ng mga anak mo..."

Though she no longer feels the need to explain her decision to stay, she opened up about why she thinks her husband's past betrayals no longer hurt her. It may be hard to believe, but she even told her husband how she wants his next girlfriend to be like: a kind woman with a maternal instinct.

"Gusto ko na lang ng peace of mind," said Arcee. "Kailangan kung maghahanap siya ng girlfriend kailangan mamahalin din niya mga bata. Sinabi ko pa, kung uulit ka, gusto ko yung bago, iintindihin yung kapakanan ng mga anak mo."

"Kasi two years na akong okay, pero ang cancer, bumibigla yan," she continued. "Lately pa puro stress diba? Siyempre gusto kong iwan mga anak ko sa okay na tao. Kaya siguro naging open din ako sa ganyan eh, okay lang,  gusto ko mapunta ang mga anak ko doon sa mamahalin sila, doon sa parang hindi na sila ibang tao."

With that, she exhales, and sits up straighter. Thunder rumbles overhead, which startles her. She laughs off the heavy rain, just as she's faced every storm in life with a smile.

READ: An open letter to the wife from a mistress: ‘I was just as clueless as you’

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Written by

Bianchi Mendoza