A Woman Discovered Her Husband's Numerous Mistresses After His Death | The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN

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WINFREY: The stories you're hearing today are extreme, but if every now and then, you feel a little red flag in your relationship, remember Julie. JULIE: We were together about 16 years. The first time we met was a holiday party at Christmastime, and then a few weeks later, I went to a different party, and there he was again. It seemed like it was meant to be. He was very charming, very outgoing. He was sort of the kind of guy that, you know, lights the room up. We got married about three years after we met. When I look at this picture, I remember I was incredibly in love, and he looked really handsome in his tuxedo, and it was a great day. Then we had our daughter. He was a very loving dad. He was very affectionate and very fun. JULIE: He hadn't been feeling well for a few days, and one morning he, you know, he got up. It was a very ordinary day, and I was down in my office. Then I heard a thud. When I found him in the kitchen, he was on his back on the floor, and he was still breathing, so I called 911, and I came back. He started to turn blue. You know, the EMS guys arrived, and I thought, "Oh, they'll make it all better. You know, they'll fix it. It'll be okay." We got to the hospital, and they were telling me he'd died. I couldn't fathom it. I just remember I fell on the ground and I was screaming. I felt like everything that I had, you know, all the ways I had defined my life were going to change. I felt very lonely almost immediately. He'd filled up the house with his big personality, and suddenly, the house felt very big and empty. WINFREY: What Julie didn't know was that her nightmare was just beginning. Here's what she found out just a few months after her husband dropped dead. JULIE: Six friends came to the house to help make funeral arrangements. They went to his computer to see if they could find his address book. His e-mail was on, and e-mail started coming in. They opened them up and saw that they were from women. It was very apparent from the content that these were women that he was involved with, that he was having an affair with. When I found out about these women, I was completely enraged, and I wanted answers. I got on the phone and called them up. One of the women I called, I spoke to her briefly. They had some kind of affair. I felt a bit cheated in the sense that she wasn't being honest with me. I got in touch with the next woman. She was a mom like me. She was actually very forthcoming. She was very similar to me. She even looked a bit like me. I contacted the third woman. She lived in Argentina. I learned that he really needed to sort of create stories about himself. The next woman was someone that my husband had met at the gym. She stepped right up in her responsibility for it. He had a way of seeking out women who were very vulnerable. He's had a way of charming them so that they would feel very loved and appreciated. WINFREY: So Julie's head was spinning, but there was more. One of his affairs was her... JULIE: Well, the mother of my daughter's friend. Yeah. I saw her every day. She was in my house all the time. I was at her house all the time . You know, my kid had play dates at her house and sleepovers, and, in fact, the day I found out about these affairs, my daughter was actually at her house having a sleepover. I had to go pick her up from this woman's house, which was really something. WINFREY: So, okay. So, your husband--was this six women, five women all at the same time or interlapping? JULIE: It was sort of overlapping. Yeah. One of them, this one with the mother of my daughter's friend, had been going on for a couple years at least, possibly a bit more, yeah, so it was... WINFREY: So what are the signs that you didn't see? JULIE: You know, I think I had so much invested in being married and our life together. We lived in a small town. We had a lovely house, pretty view. You know, you think you have kind of this perfect life, and, you know, it's never really perfect. I mean, there's always struggles, but, you know, it seemed like a good life, and you just don't want to look, always, at, you know, the signs. WINFREY: And if you had looked? JULIE: I think the signs are, you know, when someone starts talking a lot about, you know, another woman that they're spending time with or even in this situation, I think they use the children in a way as a kind of a cover to come and go between homes and things like that. WINFREY: I hear every affair is different, but in a lot of cases-- this is with women, too. Generally, I hear with women, particularly if women think they've fallen in love, they just can't shut up about mentioning the guy's name. They just got to get the name in somehow, and so would he mention names of other... JULIE: He did. Yeah. He would actually tell me of several of these women. He actually had mentioned them. He'd been traveling for research on a book, and he would mention them, and he'd say, "Oh, you know, here's this woman. You're really going love her. You know, she's great. She's just like you," he would say sometimes. It was kind of, you know, curious. It was almost as if he wanted me to, you know, press further and ask him questions, but I think I was... WINFREY: So he could talk about her. Yeah. JULIE: Maybe. Yeah, but I was afraid. I was afraid because it would've meant the end of--you know, finding too much or probing too much would've meant the end of what we had or what I thought I had. WINFREY: So Julie chronicles her story in her "New York Times" bestselling book called "Perfection." Why did you name the book "Perfection?" JULIE: Well, you know, I think women are really struggling with this idea of perfection. You know, they want to have, you know, perfect bodies, perfect houses, perfect kids, and, you know, we have a lot sort of attached to that idea, and I think, in the end, I think it causes a lot of misery and shame, and women try to hide the parts of their lives or not look at the parts of their lives that maybe they're afraid aren't so perfect. So I wanted to find a way to redefine that word "Perfection," see what else it might mean. WINFREY: Did that word come crashing down for you when you heard that thud in the kitchen? JULIE: Sure did. Yeah. I mean, I had had so much wrapped up in my life as being married. That was a big part of my life. I loved him so much, and, you know, he'd been sort of the big... WINFREY: Did you think he was your soul mate, also? JULIE: Well, you know, I met him. I was young, and, you know, I don't know if I know that word "soul mate" was the way I would've thought of it, but when I met him, I'd never been in love like that before. I thought this was the man I want to be with, and we'll grow old together. We'll raise our daughter, and, you know, that was how I saw my life. I certainly didn't imagine becoming a widow, a young widow, and having to start all over, and I certainly didn't imagine that I was going to find out what I found out. WINFREY: Yes, and this whole idea that we were talking about earlier of looking at your life, and I think a lot of women don't want to rock the boat because things do seem perfect or as perfect as, you know, you can imagine them to be. You have the picture. You know, I call it you have the Kodak view of life, and you don't want to shatter that. JULIE: That's right. You have a lot invested. You know, you really want to keep that, and I think the more afraid you get at looking, the more, you know, sort of the worst binds you get yourself into. WINFREY: And how's your life now? JULIE: Well, you know, it took a while for me to be ready. I met--I looked very differently when I decided I was ready to look again. I thought, "I want to be with someone very different, you know, who really shares my core values," and I met a really lovely man who really wanted to be with me and loved my daughter, and, you know, we have a great life. WINFREY: Very different than the big personality. JULIE: Yeah. We're kind of more similar, I suppose. He's kind of more like me. You know, in a way, I don't feel like I have to compete with him, and the things that we want together are very shared. WINFREY: Yeah. It makes you cry. Why? JULIE: Yeah. Well, you know, I feel happy. I feel lucky. Yeah. Feel lucky. WINFREY: That you found happiness again, yeah, because during that time, did you think--that's what's so helpful, I think, to so many women who on this day are gonna have the same discovery, maybe not five women, but just think of the millions of women watching us around the world right now. JULIE: Yeah. It happens a lot, and I get lots of letters. WINFREY: A lot of you are just this day finding out in this moment watching this, and what do you say to somebody? JULIE: You know, I think I found out that I was a lot tougher than I might've guessed and that I could, you know, manage alone and take care of my daughter alone, and that was really comforting and reassuring. And then I also discovered that, you know, opening my heart again to somebody else, you know, would be okay and that I could trust somebody again and be with somebody and have a very different kind of life that would be very fulfilling and very satisfying. It took a lot of work. WINFREY: Hard to trust again, though, isn't it? JULIE: Yes. It was hard. It took a while. It took a while.

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