Last month, days before Khloé Kardashian went into labor with her first child, daughter True Thompson, a video was released of her boyfriend, Tristan Thompson, getting close to another woman. In another video, the same woman followed Thompson into his hotel, and was seen leaving a few hours later. Sources then told PEOPLE that Thompson had “been consistently cheating on Khloé.” The source added: “He’s a serial cheater. And there will be more women to come out of the woodwork.”
Though Kardashian’s heartbreak was splashed on headlines and across the internet, it’s a situation far too many mothers outside of Hollywood have experienced. Here, one of those women, Ashley, shares her story with PEOPLE.
I was one of those women who thought if a man cheated on me, I would be gone. I’m a strong person. I’m independent, and I’m not afraid of being alone. I have a job — I mean, I can do my own plumbing and fix my own water leaks. But the truth is, until you’re in that situation, you don’t know how you’re going to react.
Twelve years ago, I met my husband when I was about to graduate high school and head to college. Even though I was young and not looking for anything serious, our relationship ended up sticking. We dated for six years before getting married in 2012.
We had our first child, my daughter, in 2014. That pregnancy wasn’t planned, but it was very welcome. And we wanted our daughter to have a sibling close in age, so we started trying again not too long after that. I had two miscarriages, and after a year of trying, I was pregnant again. Both of us were ecstatic. My husband was overjoyed — particularly when he found out that we were going to have a son. The bulk of my pregnancy passed normally, without any major incident.
That changed when I hit my seventh month. On June 3, 2017, we were at my grandfather-in-law’s house with our entire family. While we were there, I saw him texting someone, and I said, “Hey, who are you talking to?” He immediately said, “Nobody.” The interaction was just really odd. I could see he was texting someone, and we were with his entire family — who could he be talking to? And why wouldn’t he tell me?
I had a bad feeling. I grabbed his phone, something I had never done before, but he had already swiped and deleted the conversation.
It felt so strange that I brought him into the garage, and asked him again who he had been texting. He told me it was a woman he had met during one of his business trips. (He’s often away for as much as a week at a time for work.) They apparently had met at a laundromat and started chatting, becoming friends. He even insisted that he had wanted to introduce me to her, thinking we’d get along well. At first, I believed him.
But over the next week, that story started to ring false to me. Feeling a need to investigate, I did something I had never done before: I pulled up our phone records. I found tens of thousands of text messages and phone calls made late at night. This was just what I could see in the records, which only went back about six months. I confronted him with the phone records, but still, he deflected, saying they were just friends. I told him: “This is not how often you talk to friends. This is not okay.”
It all came to a head on June 10. I woke up early in the morning and I couldn’t shake this feeling that something was wrong. So I downloaded an app that could pull deleted texts, emails and photos, and track words in those messages. I didn’t even know there was an app like that out there. But the information it managed to pull, just from the free trial, was enough to convince me to pay the full $80 for a full unlock of his phone. Through it, I was able to discover that my husband had had at least three full-blown affairs. One was still ongoing, and they had been meeting three or four times a week.
To say I was shocked is a massive understatement. Before this, I had never had any doubts that he was faithful. I would have bet my soul that my husband was incapable of having an affair, much less multiple.
I had my mother-in-law come pick up my daughter, and I sat in the living room, waiting for my husband to wake up. I had printed out the worst of the text messages, ready to show him. When he came out, I asked him what the name “Wolfie” meant. It was the pet name she had given him. He immediately got this look in his eye and asked, “Where did you hear that?”
I told him that I paid to pull his text messages off of his phone that morning. I said, “I only have one question: Do I need to get an STD test?” (He said no, and argued that they used protection, but I still went to get a full panel the next day.)
That’s the moment that my world changed. It’s still very vivid in my head. I don’t think that will ever go away.
I asked him to leave, and started calling therapists, trying to find one that was open on the weekend and could see us as soon as possible. About eight hours after that initial confrontation, we met with a therapist located two hours away. We talked to her for three hours, and she recommended we stay in the area so we could all meet again the next day. It was so awkward. There were two queen beds, so we didn’t sleep in the same bed. My husband was just a few feet away, and I was just so angry. I wanted to kill him, but I loved him. There were so many mixed emotions.
Of course, being pregnant added another layer of complexity to this situation. For 48 hours after the initial confrontation, I couldn’t keep anything down. Because of this, I ended up going into pre-term labor. I was four centimeters dilated. I was flown to another hospital a few hours away, where I ended up staying for a month. It was directly correlated to my husband’s infidelity. I could not keep water down for two days straight. My body was emotionally destroyed and I was just shutting down.
It was a really hard summer. I was separated from my daughter, because I had to stay within 15 minutes of the NICU, getting shots and other treatments to try to keep my baby boy in there, and keep him safe. They managed to keep him in there. When I hit eight months pregnant, they let me go home, because they were comfortable delivering a baby. I gave birth to our son at 39 weeks.
I considered not having my husband in the room for the birth, but ultimately decided to have him there. It’s so hard. I spent 11 years with this man, I loved him — love him — very much. He’s the father of my kids, he’s an amazing father.
At first, I was able to forgive him. He was repentant. That was the number one thing. He knew that he had messed up. And he did everything I asked him to that would help make me comfortable. We put a monitor on his cell phone, like what you use for a teenager, to see what website they’re on, and a physical location tracker on his phone. At the time, I considered them safeguards.
Though he seemed genuinely remorseful, he did not ever take full responsibility. He always had a little bit of an excuse. And I just knew that he didn’t get it. I knew she wasn’t out of the picture. So I wasn’t surprised when, in February — what I now call D-Day #2 — I found out he had contacted the woman he had been having an affair with.
It was then I realized that if he’s going to do this again, there’s nothing I can do about it. None of the so-called “safeguards” worked. If this person wants to deceive you, they will.
So I called a divorce lawyer and I gave him my rings back. We never filed anything, but I think he understood that I was serious. I deserve to be treated better than this. And it was this reaction that seemed to finally get through to him. He’s made a promise to our whole family, on both sides. He took my mom out to dinner and apologized, as well as his parents and grandfather. Not yet my dad, as he’s not quite ready. That behavior this time around is the only reason I’m letting him come back.
This changed everything. I decided I wanted to be closer to my family, so I got a new job. We’re selling our house and moving to a new city. We’re currently deciding to move together, and we will be living together. I’m in the mindset of “Let’s see how this goes.”
You’d be amazed how many people have been through this, because it’s such a taboo topic. I had never felt so alone in my life. I would love to tell a woman going through this: “You feel like you’re dying, but you’ll be okay. I know it just sucks, but you’ll be okay.”