Thursday, November 21, 2013

Where Does the Hate Go?

Amy recently posted on this page asking a really powerful question: Where, she asked, does the hate go? She wrote that it has been 2 1/2 years since she found out about her husband's affair. In many ways, she says, life is good. Her marriage feels strong. Her husband has worked hard to deserve his second chance. But, she said, in the early days of facing betrayal she poured so much of her anger and pain into hating the Other Woman. And now that hatred burns as fiercely as ever. It's eating her up from the inside.
Hatred is powerful stuff. It poisons us, while doing little to the object of our hatred. It casts a shadow over everything in our lives. There's little room for a broad range of feelings when hate takes up so much space.
However, in the early days of discovering a spouse's affair, hate can serve a purpose. I'd far rather see a betrayed wife filled with hatred for her spouse and the OW, than a betrayed wife who's being understanding or blaming herself. Hatred is outrage. It's a way of saying you can NOT do this to me. I do NOT deserve this. It's a way of saying No way, no how. It's setting boundaries. I will not put up with this any longer.
So yes…in small doses at a certain time, I'm a big fan of hatred in the form of outrage.
But then it serves us no longer. It turns toxic. It keeps us locked in a past that we need to move on from.
It keeps us tethered to a person who, honestly, isn't important.
I know it sounds crazy. How can someone who slept with your husband and helped unleash the destruction that became your life not be important? Because she's not. There are plenty of posts here, here and here about the Other Woman, in which I…ummm…express some of my own thoughts about the role these toxic people play. Weird thing is…I don't hate these women. They make me sigh out loud. They sometimes make me laugh. They make me roll my eyes. They exasperate me with their teen novel philosophies about love and life and destiny. Or they frustrate me with their "enlightened" bullshit about archaic institutions like marriage and "if you set something free…" lunacy. But I don't hate them. I don't even hate THE Other Woman in my life (though I hope she doesn't test this by showing up at my front door).
How did I get here?
By deciding I wasn't going to give her that much energy. By refusing to give up valuable real estate in my brain to her. By finally understanding that she wasn't the problem. She had never been the problem. She was willing and available. That was it.
And it was knowing, really knowing, that no matter how awful it felt to be me, I wouldn't have wanted to be her. I knew she hated herself. Not for what she'd done (she lacked the insight), but I understood that only someone who hated herself would allow herself to get involved with a married man who offered up nothing but misery.
I know lots of Other Women convince themselves that our husbands are their "soul mates". They spin fairy tales about how our husbands are misunderstood, or trapped. The convince themselves that they "couldn't help" themselves. Love, they say, is like that. (And let's be honest, our husbands are often active participants in these stories.)
We, of course, know that's bullshit. You simply don't get involved in the deliberate deception of another person unless you're capable of ethical gymnastics together with a deep belief that you don't deserve better.
The guys who stay with their wives and fight their way out of the hell that is post-betrayal marriage are caught in their own self-loathing.
In other words, these people hate themselves enough that we don't need to pile it on further.
So…where does our hate go? It slowly dissipates, as long as we don't feed its fire. It's smothered by compassion, for ourselves and our husbands and, with time, her. When we can recognize that our spouse's affair and his affair partner really had nothing to do with us. They're just two messed up people who lost their self-respect (along with their pants and any sense of decency).
The hate goes when you refuse to give it a home. When you will no longer be an incubator for an emotion that is turning you into exactly who you don't want to be. Her.


116 comments:

  1. I stoked the flame of my hatred for the OW for a year after DDay. It wasn't until I became brave enough to let it go and truly face what needed to be fixed at home that I began to heal. The hate, the outrage I felt for the OW was scary. But, you are so right! It served a purpose. I know if the outrage had not been directed at her, it would have fallen squarely on my wayward husband and I doubt our marriage would have survived that.
    Once I let the OW go, I felt stronger. Tending that fire was debilitating. I just wrote about how I had become my own worst enemy by holding on to my hate for her. It was really tough to admit that I had misplaced so much anger for so long, but once I did I found my path to recovery.
    Thanks for another great post!!

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    1. Shawn -- please share the link for the post you wrote about becoming your own worst enemy. I think your experience resonates with a lot of women.

      Elle

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    2. I'm just starting to write about when I finally began to get a grip. It took me 10 months after DDay to get the hell out of my own way! My FWH was working as hard as he could to help me and I fought him at every turn, focusing on the OW and all the gory affair details. I just needed to open my eyes and my heart to the effort being made NOW and let go of THEN.
      Once the anger gets a tight hold on your heart, it can become a noose.
      You have the link to my latest post on your blogroll, but here's a link:
      http://ayearaftertheaffair.blogspot.com/
      Maybe my missteps will prevent other betrayed wives from rubbing salt in their own wounds as I did.

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  2. I am only 6 weeks out and my anger is towards my husband, I do not directly hate him but I hate what he has done to me. I feel like a different person since finding out. I criticise myself of who I am which I never did pre a, I was a confident always chirpy kind of girl, now I am forever critical of myself. Don't get me wrong I hate the ow too, sometimes I let it get the better of me I wonder what I May do if I came face to face with her. I'm trying not to use too much energy on her cos she ain't worth it. I'm confident that one day I will think about her with pity rather than anger.

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  3. The only part I disagree with is " She was willing and available." - Often, that is " She was willing and available. And actively pursuing." My husband's OW told me I should consider talking to a lawyer - she 'fessed up to the affair. I have to give her credit for that - she had more balls than he did when it came to admitting it.

    So, while I agree that hating isn't good, I don't agree that " She was willing and available." was "That's it". For all I know, she may be actively pursuing yet another married man - it certainly fit her profile. At what point in our healing does it become a societal duty to put down that rabid animal that is a predatory other woman?

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    1. Yes. I've heard of far too many women how target married men. The OW in our case didn't target him necessarily but the that fact the he was married certainly wasn't a deterrent.

      Elle

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    2. Anon, I understand your feelings. I cannot deny that we were avoiding underlying issues going on in the marriage. Unfortunately, these issues appeared worse than they truly were once the OW began actively flirting and paying extra attention to my husband. She was married, knew my husband was married, perhaps over appreciated his family man mentality and took advantage of his open book personality. Despite her own marital status, she made herself available to him and texted him her willingness to participate. She pursued. He declined several times, before he convinced himself (with her help, I'm sure) otherwise. It sucks that it was her - an acquaintance, the mother of my DD's BFF, someone whose life was so woven into our own. But, if it wasn't her, it would've/could've been someone else offering rejection-free sex. The only problem with that is that he didn't have the foresight to see that it wasn't regret-free.

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    3. I'm wondering why we don't advocate for stronger adultery laws - a friend of mine had mandatory training/counseling session after a DUI and losing her license - I think that might go a long way toward deterring the OW if there is some legal ramification if all three parties had to go through some sort of post-affair counseling (instead of the joke that is "no fault" divorce).

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  4. I am also six Weeks post dday. A friend of mine told me last night that she felt that I was putting too much of the blame on the ow because she didn't know he was married. But I hate her so much because of the year she took from me and she violated me by touching my husband. I also realize that by hating her it gives me time to work with my husband. I know some day I will have to let it go but for know it is what I need. I'm so tired of people who know her telling how sweet and nice she is. That just fuels the hatred. My husband actually said to me that off it wasn't for the circumstances I would really like her.

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    1. For a year she didn't know he was married? Really?? Then pity her because she's stupid.

      Elle

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  5. The weird thing is that I didnt have much hatred for the OW in the beginning. I immediately realized that both she and my husband are selfish children. I still don't hate her and I don't hate him. I am just ferociously angry at their stupid behavior. I can't decide who was stupider. She is on her second husband having already cheated on her first (with current husband). He is a man with a fucked up emotional history. So I realize both are incredibly fucked up and morally-challenged people. However, if I run into her, I imagine I could easily scream at her to "Get the f-- out of my face." I do not want to be in a mile of her (live in a geographically small city so I can't get further than that). I could also see ramming my beatup 15 year old station wagon into her fancy luxury car that her husband bought her. She is a SAHM who complained that her husband ignored her and worked all the time. Wonder if she complained about the car. Not ragging on SAHM, but I would love to not work as much as i do but my husband is "artistic" and works in non-profit, as do I. We can barely keep our used car (that my parents paid for while he was in grad school) working--that's one of the reasons I have to work. She has time to be free and go to yoga.
    Mostly I have managed to take the high road but am ever so tempted to call her out in public or humiliate her in some way since we are all part of the same school/friend network.

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    1. Stay on that high road. It gives you a better view of the rest of your life.

      Elle

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    2. ELLE!! I love that! The High Road gives you a better view of the rest of your life! Where was that little gem when I was taunting the OW for a year!? Dang it!

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  6. I think it is easier to just feel hate for the OW especially if she's a stranger. You have no positive interactions to conflict with the hatred. Plus I think there is an animalistic type instinct that makes you want to fight to protect your home, children, and family from someone that is trying to take it from you. My OW knew about me the whole time and threatened to kill herself when my husband broke things off with her. She pulled out all the stops. She continued to try to contact him for two months and I read her chat history with him. She repeatedly begged him to come back and tried to make him feel guilty for dumping her and ignoring her 6 kids. She would beg him to tell her that he still loved her. He was supposed to abandon his 4 children to play daddy to her 6 kids that still have a daddy in the picture. She isn't even divorced, just separated. Her next boyfriend was a recently separated teenager that was 19 and she's 31. I never got the chance to confront her before we moved out of state and I'm assuming God was keeping me from making the situation worse. As for my husband, I do hate him sometimes. But I also have 13 years of good memories before his depression/alcoholism that lasted 6 months and these past almost 2 years he has made huge changes, including getting treatment for his ADHD that was the source of a lot of the problems we had. It's harder to be mad at him when he is working hard to fix this. She couldn't care less. Women like her are scary. They find weak men and use that as an opening to destroy families. Thanks for giving me a place to rant! LOL!

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  7. For me it's a year and a half after D-day. I've resented the OW and I've resented my H for what he did. But from almost the beginning, I started praying for her. I don't think of her as a bad person. I even think we'd get on well (I've never met her).
    I wouldn't trade with her for anything! I think she's made some 'bad' choices, relationship wise. And when she met my husband, reliable, honest and safe (up until then ;-)) and they became 'friends' (through work), he fell in love with her when she showed interest.
    If this hadn't happened, I don't wanna know how we would have continued. It's been the most devastating thing in my life, but in a way it has saved our marriage as well (I can say now).
    What has 'helped' as well, is reading a lot about affairs and realising it happens in the best marriages (we didn't have a bad marriage, it had 'just' become a routine..)

    Mara x

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    1. Yay for you. You're coming out the other side.

      Elle

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    2. Hi Mara, How have you dealt with the idea that they "fell in love." I don't really believe that H and OW had real love but my H is capable of alot of intense feelings. I know he felt them for her, though I have enough sense to know that he was living in an altered state at the time. Still, he is now declaring his love for me, but I am wondering how true his feelings for me have been or really are if he could declare love to someone he only knew for 4 months.

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    3. HI MBS, falling in love (or infatuation) is not LOVE. It's hormones. And I believe that happened. It is so different. Love is a choice, plus something you build up.

      Mara x

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  8. As usual, a powerful and well-written post. I'm a year and a half out, and all it takes for me is a trigger and the hatred and anger is re-ignited full force, so i wonder if you are able to never go there now?? Is that really possible?? Because that would give my husband and I hope that I will eventually be able to really let this go. I am beginning to think the damage from betrayal is just too damaging to repair completely.

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  9. OH, also, I forgot to add that, in answer to your title question, "where does the hate go?" I worry constantly that the stress of discovering and dealing with his infidelity will cause me cancer. So, to answer that question, in part, I think the hate goes to every cell in the betrayed spouse's body, and sits there and multiplies, marinating in the stress of anger and hatred. I found that only exercise and a good sweat made me feel like I was getting this cancerous hatred and anger out. I still worry all the time that it is just a matter of time until I'm diagnosed with something terrible as a result of all the stress he caused.

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    1. That's so funny! I used to worry that I was giving myself cancer all the time. I would try and figure out if the universe would actually give me cancer on top of everything I had to deal with…and then I would learn about some woman undergoing chemo who learned of her husband's affair, or some mother dealing with a disabled child, who learned of a spouse's cheating…and I would think, Oh no. I'm gonna get cancer now. (I was a bit high-strung…)
      So while I don't think there's much scientific evidence (to date) that hate causes cancer, I do think it can make us sick, emotionally and physically. It takes a lot of energy to hate someone. Better to use that energy to create a life that makes us whole.
      And yes, I can absolutely say that I don't hate the OW. I had a conversation about her the other day with a friend who's going through her own D-Day. This friend knows the OW fairly well and was filling me in on the OW's life now, assuring me that she's continuing to make a mess of things. And I realized that I really didn't care. I didn't care if she was happy; I didn't care if she was miserable. I simply don't care. Yay!!

      Elle

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    2. I thought I was the only one who thought about cancer. 2 days after D-day I worried that I had cancer. I thought it was because a dear friend (probably the only one who would have been able to help me through this) was in the middle of succumbing to melanoma.

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    3. Hi Inflicted, I believe it can go away. It sometimes takes two steps forward and one backward, or the other way around, but (although I've had a difficult couple of days) I'm feeling so much better than last year (1.5 years since D-Day)! It's not the triggers that hurt me, more separation anxiety and not 100% believing my husband.....

      Mara x

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  10. Hi anonymous,

    I'm not surprised your angry when people are telling you that the ow is nice especially when it's your husband, that's surely the last thing you want to hear, no doubt that will prevent you from moving forward. You are only 6 weeks out as am I, the situation is still very new. Right now you need your husband to start making you feel better in whatever shape or form that is. Who cares if the ow is nice!!! So are you, your giving your husband a chance to right what he had wronged. Don't listen to what people have to say look after yourself, indulge in some 'you' time, you are important and special and make sure your husband know's it. Sam

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    1. Good point. It takes a lot more than "nice" to give a cheating spouse a second chance. Besides "nice" always sounds to me like what I don't want to be. Nice is vanilla ice cream. It's dry toast. Bo-ring!

      Elle

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  11. I've been very good on the not hating the ow stuff for most of the time. I've been sitting on my mat breathing out kindness and compassion to all, well most living beings. But I made the mistake of not asking for the whole story at the beginning, making do with bits and pieces (with one nasty discovery of a lie which set me back to zero and almost sent me out of the door). I've never met her but she knows about me - she had that advantage. Had I been consulted about those bunks up in their parallel world, a world in which I didn't exist, I would have said I didn't agree. But I was kept in the dark. Having to find out what happened and why has left me in a lonely place in an otherwise positive reconciliation. I wish we'd had the right guidance in CC - it was good in other ways but not in dealing directly with the infidelity. Eight months after being told this selfish woman even existed I'm still trying to work out how to deal with her sexed-up ectoplasm seeping into my mind, introduced of course by my husband, although he was operating in a multi-verse model of reality. And he's still defending her - like the anon above - she was a *nice person*. Obviously she must have been or the flattery of her attention didn't count for much. I don't care for overt condemnation, I'm sure she pays her taxes and walks her sodding dog, I'd just like to hear him say she had some faults. Appalling shoes, dreadful taste in music, not to mention a lack of any moral compass, self-respect and the ability to give a damn about anyone but herself. But he won't say anything negative about her. I guess that's ego and maintaining the standard of yesterday's cake. I don't know why this matters - there's no indication it was a lurve match between soul mates, except that it would help me to forget her, because it would make me laugh and he and I would be on the same team. At the moment it is still the two of them on their team, imagined by me - well you know, don't pain-shop. He says he doesn't want to 'lie' (ha!) because of integrity (double ha! Too late for that on both counts). In the same place I'd be happy to think of something, for heaven's sake even the Dalai Lama has faults - clearly she's an exception. I would say the ow must be Mother Teresa had I not read Christopher Hitchens' 'The Missionary Position' - neat segue there back to the point at hand.

    I don't want to hate the ow, it's boring and quite hard work. Frankly it sounds as if their trysts were as joyful as placing your... hand... in a meat grinder. The result of this enormous waste of time, however is great pain and humiliation for us, for me, months and grinding months of it. So yes, I would like to see her crushed by a firetruck or eaten by a leopard. I'm seriously considering the latter if I can catch one. I wonder if they realise, these women, how people dislike them. Their friends who have not slipped away must make similar observations about our selfish husbands.

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    1. Oh, I so get what you are saying! My husband doesn't really know (or knew, because really, he has forgotten so many things!) any of his AP's not so nice traits, as he didn't really really know her. He has only seen her positive sides....

      Mara x

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  12. I think a big part of out hatred for the ow is that we know or spouses will never hate her like we do. They will have fond memories of her. They still feel terrible for how they hurt us but they have no reason to hate her. That is a thought that I think holds me back from letting go. I also think they defend her because they feel they have hurt them also. They don't realize that we don't care that the ow is feeling bad.

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    1. Our spouse may well have hurt the ow also although these women had a choice we didn't have. Neither party consulted us before having an affair, THEY walked into it willingly (they weren't drugged or dragged). As is said a great many times in these threads the opposite of love (or passion or lurve fantasy) is not hate but indifference. You wouldn't want your husband to care enough to hate the ow.

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    2. Its a hurtful thought! Even thou I know its over (as I finished it when I knocked on her door and she had to tell her husband in 3 seconds) we will never know what memories or thoughts our husbands have. We don't even know that we are getting truthful answers from our questions.
      I hate her with a hate I have never thought existed. I hope it will fade, one day.
      what did they both expect would happen, they were both married. they are lucky to be at home today with the person that forever reason they were unhappy with. neither have been shown the door.
      I often wonder what her husband feels about my husband? do men feel the same way?

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    3. My husband hates the other woman. I see it in his eyes & in the disdain in his voice when he says her name. He hates her for tempting him & actively pursuing him for multiple years. Of course he was a willing participant no one forced him but he does feel that she manipulated him & she did. But my husband is 2 years out of the affair fog. But my point is ur husband may hate her too & u just don't see it. U may be transferring feelings onto him that as a woman u think u would have for an affair partner. Give him a chance. Also, admitting he hates her may make him feel even worse about himself--that he risked u & his marriage for something & someone so not worth it. Reading books helped me see the affair more from the male viewpoint which is totally different.

      -sam

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  13. I hate both my husband and the OW every single minute of every single day. Their 7 months of making each other feel good has messed with my life for years to come.
    If you commit murder or robbery and get caught you have to go to court to account for your actions. What a shame there isn't a court for Adulterers! I could be the lawyer and ask the questions. See her face. I'm sick of the fact that she has come into my life and then just walked straight out again. I call her a tornado! I know, I know it will not make a difference.
    They both knew what they were doing was wrong, like I know when I eat that bar of chocolate is wrong. But at least I'm not breaking someone's heart.
    7 month since my DDay I'm not sure what I want from life, I'm numb. I can't wait for the hurt to go, I know one day it will...just hope it wont be too long
    Jane

    Nothing goods comes from an affair, only hurt.

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  14. Hi Elle,
    Not sure how to send you a personal message. I am looking for some advice on whether to stick with our current therapist. We were with her for 2 years before the affair when we were just trying to deal with regular marraige problems. She was an intern. Now she is done with the internship, just as the affair happened. But I doubt if she can handle the affair. I worry she is not experienced enough. Do you have suggestions on how to choose a therapist and comments on what worked and didn't work for you. I noticed in one of your blogs, you mentioned a new therapist. Suggestions on how to know when it is time to switch?

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  15. I am currently 11 weeks out from my own D-day, and still feel the twinges of hate for this OW who helped destroy my peace, although lately I have tried replacing hate for pity. What you have written, Elle, is true- the OW is a pretty messed up person if she knowingly went after a married man with 2 children. The OW was a co-worker of my husband's; she IS still a co-worker. Some days I feel as if I am climbing towards a stronger marriage, and then I feel that anything is possible. Other days, like today, when I know that they are working together, I feel as if I am helpless.

    I have read many of the back columns, which have given me much support throughout this process of grieving and recovery. I have not heard or read much about how to continue to recover when one's spouse- the cheating spouse- goes through the intense self-loathing and guilt. Mine is currently going through that phase, to the extent that he is not "there" for me the way he was in the previous weeks. While I realize that I cannot help him with that, I am trying to be his friend through this process. Any advice or good reading material?

    Thanks, Jen

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    1. Jen - you're obviously capable of compassion for your husband even after he's hurt you so badly and that may well be your strength (and his) - it's very early days for you. It's down to him to understand why he did this, not the surface reasons but underlying aspects of his personality, attitudes etc which he may not have looked at before. It won't be easy for him to face himself. But he can do that too with compassion. When I was in a very dark place I read a recommendation by another BW of a book by Pema Chödrön, in fact I downloaded it on audio and listened because I was quite incapable of concentrating on a text. Much later on I asked my husband to listen to a section of a talk where she deals specifically with compassion, which always starts with oneself. This is especially useful for all of us because don't we beat ourselves up about what happened, even though it wasn't our fault? I might have wondered at one stage whether my husband deserved what seems like a cop-out, although of course it isn't easy to 'sit with' reality when by making weak or selfish choices you've hurt someone you love. Point is in your case that it isn't helping you if he's wallowing in self-flagellation when he has work to do: to understand what happened, to make changes, to help you heal. So he may need to reflect on compassion, and where it originates.

      Interesting Pema Chödrön discovered her own path after her husband told her he was having an affair and was leaving her. She threw a stone at him. I reminded my husband of this after the compassion talk, how lucky YOU are!

      But don't forget yourself, if anyone needs loving kindness Jen, it's you.



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  16. I have to say this has been a difficult week for me. I realize that my hatred began when I confronted the OW and she said she was done with the relationship a lie. ( They dated prior to our marriage during a period when we had broken up). the betrayal ended last year. I felt my confrontation was not angry woman to angry woman...it was let's not let this man teeter between both of us. it angered me that she lied and continued to believe that I have a problem and she understood my husband better than me. I know I should not consume my thoughts with her, anger for her actions, and reliving the details to understand what I think I may have missed. I don't hate my husband because I forgave him when we decided to work on our marriage. I don't know how to find closure with someone who litterally thinks I was the OW when in fact she was the other woman all along. She continued to entertain him after she knew we were together and married. I look at her profile on another social network and get angry that she seems to be unaffected by their poor decision while I suffer from the trauma. How do I begin to take control and let this go and protect myself?

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  17. Wow. Elle, the last line of your post struck a chord with me. I absolutely do not want to be like the OW. Yet, I know that hate for her still lingers in my heart. I truly long for it to move on, but find this piece of the affair puzzle has been one of the most difficult to fill. None of the pieces seem to fit. There are several pieces that come so close, but they don't stay for long before the obsessing and the hate return. For me, I think it has a lot to do with the fear that the past will play itself out again in the future. I worry...a lot. A large part of my worries has to do with her. She has not exactly respected his request for no contact. She is a wrecking ball and I am done with her trying to wreck my life. I worry that she will continue to try to break down the hedges we have worked so hard to rebuild.

    I found this link to an article about being obsessed with the OW:
    http://www.goasksuzie.com/obsessed-with-affair-partner.htm#.UpNeuXXnbuh
    It describes why we so despise the OW and offers suggestions on how to distance ourselves from this hatred. I found some enlightening information here although I cannot deny that the part about "offering mercy and forgiveness" was difficult to swallow.

    Thanks for allowing me to share.

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  18. Ok...so here's my two cents worth on this oh so appropriately timed and thought provoking question. The hate goes wherever you let it. Into your heart and soul if you let it consume you, which I have. I am almost 6 months post DDay, and I have been literally eaten alive the entire six months by anger and hate towards the OW.

    A little background on me: I am a 34 year old mother of three, 6, 4, and 7 months - I found out when my newborn was a month old that my husband had been having an affair for the last year and a half (including the entire 9 months that I was pregnant). I'm an attorney, room mother for my school age children, manage our household and all our finances, and have always been a doting and devoted wife to my husband. The only thing that I will take ownership of in this whole mess is that maybe we had let the romance and spark die out a little while our children, careers, and just life took up most of our time. I now know that you must work at maintaining your marriage and your romance on a daily basis, and we are trying our best to do that now in the midst of a lot of pain, betrayal, kids, jobs, etc. It's really freaking hard, but we are more connected than we have maybe ever been, and that feels good. However, for the last few months, no matter how good I felt about us and how we were moving forward together, I still could not let go of the anger, resentment and hate I felt toward the OW. Obsessive thoughts of her have been eating me alive. I practically ran a PR campaign on FB (since I knew she was checking it), to let her know just how happy and ok we were doing (we really weren't ok, mostly because I couldn't let go of her). I thought daily of ways I could exact some sort of awful revenge on her - while sitting in the carpool line, I would daydream of ways I could push her in front of oncoming traffic; while running errands, I would pray that she would be struck by some terminal illness; while showering, I would think of how I would throw a party if she were killed in some horribly gruesome car accident. You name it, I thought of it. It was really starting to get the best of me.

    As an aside, the OW in my case is a 26 year old single nurse, who twice now, after my husband has made the decision to stay with me and his family and ended things with her, has tried to reel him back in with dirty pictures, sexting, and ideas that she has moved on and is screwing someone else. The first time she tried this, it apparently worked, and much to my surprise, I ended up confronting them in early August at the beach together, while he was allegedly there taking some time away to read some of the self help books we had ordered for ourselves after DDay. She has tried to convince us both that our children would be just fine if he left me. Luckily, he is in a better place now, and is 100% committed to our family and rebuilding our marriage. This time, her efforts were unsuccessful.

    No matter how great things were with us though, my heart was filled with anger. I was short tempered with my children, forgetful, sad and too distracted with my thoughts of her to recognize and appreciate the efforts my husband had been making to rebuild our connection. So...

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  19. A continuation...
    Last week, my husband brings home a little local newspaper with pictures of all those folks who have been arrested in town the previous week. Apparently, it had been quite the talk at the hospital. And there she was - an unflattering mugshot, arrested for DUI, and nursing license and job on the line. Man oh man, karma baby! I think I danced a happy dance in my own mind for about two days straight. Then, when the celebrating began to dissipate, the real me started to surface - and I started to feel a little sorry for her. For the last 6 months, I have felt like a shell of my normal, kind, compassionate, giving self, but here was a glimpse of the real me. I felt sorry for her that she was so young and stupid and immature - enough to believe all my husband's lies and waste a year and a half of her life on an unavailable man, and especially to get herself in the type of silly trouble that could cost her her livelihood. And so here also, I thought to myself, was an opportunity to do something in the real spirit of me - the real me - the kind, giving me. I texted her and offered to help her. To my shock, she sent me a very kind and very appreciative response, and said that she didn't feel that she deserved any help from me. I told her that everyone deserves forgiveness and a second chance. (I gave that to my husband who betrayed his commitment to me - why not to some silly, stupid, immature girl who fell for his lies and charming personality?) I am currently working on having her charges reduced so that she won't lose her license or risk her nursing license. My husband has always said I was crazy, but when I am angry with someone, I always do something kind for them, and I feel like it takes some of the anger out of my heart. And I have got to tell you, I feel like this huge weight has been lifted from my heart. I am starting to feel like myself again, and I believe it is a huge step for me toward healing. It's not for everyone I know, but the above post suggesting offering mercy and forgiveness - trust me, there is something to it. It is freeing and uplifting, and opens your heart to healing.

    And as my silver lining, I am smaller and in better shape than I was even in college, (even having just had a baby) thanks to all the emotional distress, and I am way hotter and smarter than she is, so when I see her to tell her that I saved her homewrecking ass, I can take an extra little bit of pleasure in knowing that she will see that she lost the fight for my husband to the better person all the way around. See, my motives are not entirely unselfish. ;)

    I wish each and every one of you the best on this long, difficult journey we are all on together.

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    Replies
    1. This is absolutely the high road and I commend you. I'm not sure I could have done the same!

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    2. Wow you really are a kind hearted woman Jennifer, if helping the ow gives you some peace then I say 'go for it' whatever makes you happy. You sound like you have turned a page in your chapter and long may it last, hope you continue to move forward with your husband, you deserve all the happiness in the world for what you have done. So brave :)
      Sam x

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    3. Jennifer,
      I can't stop thinking about your story. I'm amazed at what you've been able to do. I will repeat, however, something my old therapist used to say to me: Help is the sunny side of control. While I give you huge kudos for taking your hate and turning it into something healthy and productive, I just want to warn you to be careful that you're not trying to control her by putting her in a position where she's under your authority. By all means, do what you're doing because it's helping you. Just don't expect loyalty or appreciation. You might get it…but you might not. I think as long as you're clear that you're doing this for YOU, you'll be okay. And seriously…yay for you.

      Elle

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    4. Hi Elle,
      Interestingly, just a couple of days ago, our therapist warned me against the exact same thing. In that same session, my husband confessed that although he was proud of me for doing something in the spirit of the real me, he was also concerned that there was a big part of me that felt relief at being able to maintain some form of contact (i.e., control) with her. You know the whole "keep your friends close" philosophy. He also said that he was concerned because although he was having no personal interactions at all with her any longer (they still work together), by doing this, I was keeping her engaged, which he feels keeps us from moving forward together without her involved in our life at all. I really gave it a lot of thought, and although I feel that most of what I did for her, I did for myself, I do think all these other things certainly played into it. So, I sent her a text message yesterday morning which said basically that I had done all I could do to help her situation, but I couldn't offer any promises. I told her that a good word had been put in for her and that I wished her luck with her situation. I felt like my husband was right - the continued contact was not helping us, and it was likely offering me more than just the ability to help her, which is probably not healthy for me or us. So, I ended the contact. I did my good deed for her (which did make me feel better and less angry), and I chose to end the contact and control that I may have been trying to maintain. I think there was a lot playing into it honestly - I was hoping that she would see that I was a genuinely nice, good person whose life she screwed with, I was hoping that she would feel some sort of loyalty to me because I was helping her and she would leave my husband alone once and for all, etc. etc. But you're right--although she acted appreciative, the very next day after our therapy session, she brought him lunch and surprised him and his team at work with a cake for a research trial they just got started, so yep - no loyalty at all--she's still trying. Oh well, I'm glad I did it, because I do feel like it took away some of my anger towards her and opened my heart to healing, but I'm also glad I ended the contact with her - she's not worth my time and energy.

      Looks like I'm still on the learning curve...:(
      Jennifer

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    5. Your husband, despite his spectacular screw-up, seems like an insightful guy. And clearly so are you, if you're able to view your situation so objectively (is that the lawyer in you?). I'm glad you managed to reduce that anger you felt toward her, look like a freaking saint in the process, and get to a place where both you and your husband can recognize what she's doing as exactly what it is: manipulative and self-serving. I hope she smartens up sooner rather than later.
      As for a learning curve, I suspect that goes on forever.

      Elle

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  20. Hi ladies 7 weeks post d day, can anyone suggest some reading material to help me with my recovery. Thank you in advance
    Sam x

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    Replies
    1. After the Affair, Janice Spring

      This Blog-Its the only one that I found that has helped me.

      If you want to even slightly consider reconciliation: Intimacy after Infidelity (Book)
      This therapist site: http://peterfox.com.au/fidelity_1.html

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    2. Shirley Glass's Not Just Friends is considered a seminal book for recovering from infidelity. I also read Janis Abrams Spring How to Forgive, as well as Brene Brown's Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection (they're not specifically about infidelity but are great books at helping us create healthy boundaries and get clear on what we want and deserve).

      Elle

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    3. The first book I read was Anne Bercht's book http://beyondaffairs.com/books_about_affairs.htm

      I've also read a lot on this website
      http://www.goasksuzie.com/

      Now reading Shirley Glass' book (wish I had gotten that on our wedding day!)

      Delete
  21. I think all of us direct our anger at the OW because its safer to do so.If the whole anger was directed at the husbands living with them would be hell.We , at a sub conscious level, channelise the anger towards the OW.If we directed the rage towards our WS we wouldnt still be with them.Harsh, unpleasant but true.

    I also believe that if my WS had not cheated with that particular OW it would have been someone else,Cheat, he would have.

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  22. 'when I am angry with someone, I always do something kind for them, and I feel like it takes some of the anger out of my heart.'

    I'm sure it does - you are indeed amazing. I sincerely hope your marriage from now on is a happy place. xx

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  23. Jennifer onehurtmama.

    Way to go girl!

    When I first read this I thought, is she mad helping the o/w, but it dawned on me, you had revenge in a way. How demoralised, insignificant, stupid, embarrassed, pitiful and pathetic she must feel and look. Yay! I have a huge smile on my face. Although I would never want any contact with the pathetic excuse of a woman my husband went with, if I were in your situation then I sort of (after reading this) would do what you did. Every situation is unique and yours is VERY unique.

    May your silver lining continue and I wish you all the best too on this long, difficult journey.

    ReplyDelete
  24. If you want the hate to be transformed into something else, it will eventually go into healing you, and it will be transformed into your growth. Right now, that hate is a distraction, although I know for me it was a necessary one. All the hurt and pain and grief you have needs to go somewhere while you slowly heal, and the hate is a good place for it to go right now. There's nothing wrong with that, it's helping you contain all that pain until over time you can process it. But of course you don't want to live with this hate forever, you don't want it to become part of you. The OW has nothing to do with you, none of what she did or what your husband did has anything to do with you. If you keep trying to focus on yourself, not on them, you will eventually get there. You deal with all the little pieces of the pain, one at a time, slowly, and as you put the pieces of yourself back together, and you will be transformed into a new version of yourself. Eventually all that will matter is healing yourself and loving all the pieces of you that were broken, and the hate will go away.

    I know this sounds abstract, and I couldn't have understood it on the front end. But now, six years later, I'm on the other side of this healing, and the hate is gone. For what felt like years, I wrote furiously in journals, I spent hours in therapy, meditation and prayer, I read countless books, articles and blog posts like this, and sometimes I felt like it was all a waste of time, that I would never heal and would always be damaged. But eventually, all these things I did, what felt like a million little pieces of healing, finally started coming together, and the hate went away. I was just me again, and I became separate from all the anger and mess and hate that had consumed me. More specifically, the hate went away when I realized that I was carrying shame for what my husband and this woman had done, shame that didn't belong to me. My logical brain had known this all along, but finally one day I got to the place where my whole body believed it. And then the hate went away, because I didn't need it to protect myself from the shame any more.

    I highly recommend Harriet Lerner's The Dance of Anger as a starting point for understanding that these feelings have important things to tell you about yourself, and what you can learn from them. And if that book speaks to you, I recommend all her other books!

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  25. Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass was helpful for me. As was a book by Pegy Vaughan (can't remember the title)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peggy Vaughan wrote The Monogamy Myth. I haven't read it but I know a lot of women credit it with helping them.

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    2. Yes, I've read Peggy's book as well. Good book!

      Mara x

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  26. Hi Sam,
    I am so truly sorry for what I know you are going through right now. Absolute hell. The fact that you are online reading and looking for support I think is a step in the right direction towards healing for you. It's a long tough road, and I am by no means a healed woman (I may never fully be), but I am trying to take steps each day to leave the past behind and move forward with my husband. Some of the books I read in the first couple of months that I thought were helpful are the following:
    After the Affair by Janis Abrahms Spring
    His Needs, Her Needs, Building an Affair-proof Marriage
    Will he really leave her for me? by Rona Subotnik (gave me some insight into what might be going on in her head)
    Not Just Friends
    How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair (buy this for your husband).

    Good luck to you, and I hope you can find some peace in knowing that many others are right there with you and here to support you anytime.

    Jennifer

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Jennifer, really appreciate your kind words, they mean so much at this confusing time in my life. I'm so grateful to have found this site, women never cease to amaze me on how strong we are when faced with such trauma. Born survivors x x

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    2. Your suggestion for "How to Help Your Spouse" makes me wonder about other resources for spouses. I dont want to do the recovery for him, god know that will backfire majorly. However, he is frozen in not knowing what to do. And what to do for me. Any suggestions for resources like that?

      Delete
    3. MBS,
      I think the Shirley Glass book works for both. I'll give it some more thought. I also know that some women have printed off various posts on this site and asked their husbands to read them. I try to be spouse-friendly. :)

      Delete
  27. Thank you ladies, we are strength in numbers :) x x

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  28. my husband has read several posts here (on line, I didn't print them off) and thinks you're great, Elle. This is by far the best site imo.

    He likes Shirley Glass too. And Brene Brown. So do I. I wish we'd read this stuff BEFORE but that isn't what happens.

    I know how that feels, MBS - I feel like a duck serenely floating along (most of the time) with frantic paddling under the water. When are you going to DO something, read something I haven't suggested or given you to read? And yes my bossiness will backfire. It's another form of control, however agonising the alternative. We could do with a post on 'What can you do for your wife?' for frozen men. It's even seasonal.

    I'd like to say thank you too to everyone, because I don't know what I'd do if I felt any more isolated by this experience. x

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    Replies
    1. Iris,

      I'm laughing out loud. "It's even seasonal." Great idea. Really great idea. I also love the image of the serene duck with the frantic paddling. How true.
      I wonder how many of us are "bossy". I have a little theory that we bossy women choose men who are emotionally little boys…and who then rebel by cheating. Not sure what I'm basing it on other than anecdotal evidence that it seems to happen a lot. I'm bossy but I'm not bitchy -- his mother was bitchy. And he seems to confuse the two a lot.

      Elle

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    2. Iris you are hysterical.
      Elle, you have to look at the Peter Pan-Wendy Syndrome. Theres a book but gist of it is available for free online. It is helpful to read about how we play the role of Wendy to Peter Pan (Tinkerbell represents the OW). Really fascinating stuff.I am bossy. That's because my husband is the quintessential Peter Pan. He wants to lay in bed and play all day (literally bang on his drums all day). Job, responsibilities? Ha! Unfortunately for him, no (smart) woman, wants to get busy with a little boy.

      Anyway, the Catch-22 is that he resents me for my bossiness which I acknowledge has created distance. He is finally acknowledging his unwillingness to grow up, with the help of his therapist. However, his Peter Pan self still doesn't know how to take control of his own choices and act the adult. So how am I going to get what I need to feel taken care of right now, if I don't point him towards thing. However, that just gets the resentment loop going. So I am all about practicing supreme patience. Really zoning in on mindful practices.... So excruciating at times. I am trying to save the "demands" for therapy time so I can have the therapist back me up and I am not the bossy bitch.

      Another Catch-22 is that he has limited willingness to read stuff because he has some challenges with eye focus/ binocular vision. Atleast that's one of the excuses.

      Delete
    3. Audio would be good. Opening for one of us. I tried to stop myself adding 'Listen with Mother' but the temptation was too great.

      I used to think my husband was very grown up, much more so than me but I was wrong. He just gave a very good impression. At one stage recently he even said: 'I don't want to be a grown-up!' But as your Peter-Pan mate will discover, it does have its plus side.

      I very much like the idea of the ow as Tinkerbell, as long as we can manage those children with scientific rationalism so they don't believe in fairies. If you get my drift.

      I downloaded Janis Abrams Spring's 'How to Forgive' after Elle's recommendation, good choice, very useful. A complicated subject. Guidance for 'chilly' spouses, although the work is hard, it's only eight months in that I feel my husband can take in how challenging this is going to be. But he wants to do it. One thing Peter Pan doesn't lack, of course, is courage.

      Delete
    4. mbs

      I totally understand what your saying, my husband has a very immature outlook on life. He has got better since having our 2nd child he takes more responsibility. However I have learnt to delegate responsibility of children, bills etc I think the more we do, the more we are expected to do.
      We are starting counselling today and I'm sure his lack of taking responsibility will be high on the agenda. Part of me likes his 'child like' personality, he's very much opposite to me, but then I ' scream out' for someone to lean on and take charge. Hopefully CC will help us figure out some healthy balance.

      Sam

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    5. I find this thread so interesting. I haven't thought about that Peter Pan stuff in years (I read the book in my 20s when I was dating a…Peter Pan. Sigh…) but even my children remark about how childish my husband is. It's done affectionately but they clearly recognize that he's not the adult in the family. And yes, like others of you here, I was initially attracted to that quality -- fun-loving, charming, easy-going. But add in marriage and children and things need to get done!! He can't stand "being told what to do". He has told me he hears his mother's voice coming out of my mouth. I never responded as a kid but as an adult, I watched him stand up to her when she ordered him to do something…and her response was to pack her bags, get in her car, and drive the three hours back home. So clearly, as a kid, standing up to someone like that must have been terrifying.
      What makes my circumstances particularly interesting is my husband's OW is a carbon copy of his mother: judgemental, self-centred, mean, a perpetual victim, negative. She even looks like his mother. It's the reason I never dreamed anything was going on for so long because she was such a nag, my husband would come home from work absolutely exhausted by her. Bizarre. I could never understand why he didn't fire her. Then I found out. :(

      Elle

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  29. This peter pan concept is fascinating. My husband of twenty years has never grown up. Everything is about fun and I always look like the boring responsible one. He also uses out as an excuse for lying. He says he doesn't want to hear me nag him. When I talk to other woman about this I always get the same answer. They say he is a man and that is how they are. I won't accept this. Why should they get an excuse to not grow up.

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  30. I think the important thing to know about the Peter Pan complex is that Peter can't behave this way without a Wendy. With us playing the responsible adult, they can indulge in childish fantasy and not grow up. My therapist has brought out how I compensate for his disorganization and lack of impulse control by doing everything he fails to do. In fact, I abetted his dates with the OW in this way. I had to work so I sent him on a group camping trip with our kids (which included the OW and other families from our sons preschool). I did all the organizing, shopping, meal planning. He just had to take them there and have fun. Of course he did have fun, which included taking walks with her and letting her BJ him in the woods. On another occassion, I left for the weekend (I have left for the weekend 4 times in our 11 year marriage) but made sure that the chores were done and meals planned. All he had to do was, you guessed it, have fun with the kids. He ended up inviting the OW and her kids for a beach day.

    I am trying to break the cycle by not doing everything I used to do and letting some things fall apart. I left for the weekend 2 weeks ago. I only planned half the meals this time ;) and he had to figure out the rest. When I came back he was able to say how much he realized I did for our family and how he appreciated it.
    Back to the original point of the thread though, it really helps to see how the OW is also a selfish child. She is a dumb, empty, distraction who cannot exist if your husband wants to live his real life and be an integrated grown up.
    This has helped me to disregard her as an real person.

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  31. What really makes me laugh is my husband is a Peter pan and my actual name is Wendy.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Here's a somewhat related question: where does the lingerie go? I have really nice lingerie my husband bought me sometime after the affair started. It was a very on and off affair. I really like the lingerie. Can I put the hate aside and wear it anyway? Maybe someday, but not yet? I feel like I can accept wearing the lingerie more than the wedding ring...less symbolism involved....

    Liz

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    Replies
    1. Hey Liz,
      By all means, wear it. No right or wrong. Just what feels good for you.

      Elle

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  33. Be thrifty - wear the lingerie. Imagine there's a war on and you can't get the coupons to replace it with anything else. In fact, go out and buy matching nylons. And lipstick. Then imagine a doodle-bomb has fallen on the ow. I know I do.

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    Replies
    1. Iris,
      A doodle-bomb? Do tell. It sounds so…cute.

      Elle

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    2. The V-1 : a sinister WW11 bomb which made a very odd noise before cutting out shortly before hitting its target. Code-name 'cherry-stone'. I have an entirely road-runner image of my imaginary doodlebug, btw but a far more glamorous image of Liz!

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    3. Wow. Interesting. And you know this how?? Were you some sort of glamorous spy extracting secrets from the enemy?

      Elle

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  34. Before my husbands affair, I felt confident and assured about myself. Even a year after finding out, I still struggle with feeling good sexually. I still ruminate on his sexual relationship with the OW. My hate is still there and I find myself comparing myself to her. My mind says "she must have been something special if he had an affair for 3 years" or "she must have been a good sexual partner" or "she must have been better than I am sexually." These negative thoughts haunt me. My anger is slowly dissapating and I feel less haunted by her, but during our sexual moments I start to get insecure and am not at all confident.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is such a thing as sexual trauma, where we feel unsafe sexually after a spouse's infidelity. Frankly, like you, I still struggle. My husband and I are working with a counsellor to guide us back to "healthy intimacy".
      Those thoughts you had are incredibly common to most of us. However, remind yourself that they're simply stories you're telling yourself. All sexual relationships have ups and downs. Sometimes affairs are exciting simply because they're new. Sometimes the element of getting caught adds the excitement of danger. A long-term sexual relationship can't compete with that…but it does offer many other wonderful aspects, such as knowing what each other likes, a deep bond that has weathered life's ups and downs, comfort.
      Can your husband offer up any embarrassing moments with the OW that might help you recognize that she wasn't the porn star you're imagining she was? It helped me to picture the OW (who was bigger than I am) with a flopping stomach and saggy boobs. Maybe it happened, maybe it didn't (it was certainly possible) but helped me stop the mind movies in which they were having this wild sex. My husband assured it wasn't that it was good, it was that it fed some sick hunger he had.
      See if you can replace those thoughts with healthier ones. See if you can talk to him about your insecurities and ask if he can help you put them to rest. Tell him you want to feel good and loved and safe…and that's hard when the OW is kinda in bed with you.

      Elle

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    2. Elle, you are right, the OW is in bed with us! I know I am attractive, sexy, and all that, but I just don't feel secure with my husband. My basic fear is that I can never feel good about myself sexually. It also bothers me that he sought out the affirmation, attention and adoration that was missing for him and he got those needs met thru his affair. Now he feels insecure of himself as a person since he has to accept the feelings of guilt and shame, which I really don't I get to have all the insecure feelings sexually.


      I asked him about embarrassing moments and he said he would prefer to focus on the two of us. He did say that I am better that I am more attractive, that I am more skilled and more caring. He said she was just available. (I doubt that he would done anything with someone who wasn't attractive and good sexually though). He didn't say she was a porn star, but he did say she was good and sex with her felt great.

      So how do I live with these mind movies? Time has helped lessen them and lessen the impact of terror for me, however, my created mind movies are similar to what he experienced. It's just hard all the way around!

      Delete
    3. I personally haven't asked for embarrassing bits of the ow, I don't want to know anymore about the ow than I have too. I don't even know her name could not care less what she is called the fact is my h had an affair I am 9 weeks post d day and I'm surviving. There are moments that I wish she was ugly fat and all the rest but I know she wasn't I have seen pictures so I have to face reality as hard as it is. I'm not her she isn't me we are two very different people with different lives. Make this new chapter of your life new and special with your husband,

      Delete
    4. Here r my bad things about the other woman:

      My husband is an ass man & she had a saggy ass;
      Totally flat (I'm pretty flat myself but apparently she was even worse)
      She died her hair
      She was a slut (he told me she was after multiple docs in his hospital)
      She was AWFUL with money (I handle all our finances & pretty well I might add-- we r both pretty frugal
      He always brags about me to others-- I graduated College with a perfect 4.0, got all honors in med school, & scored 99% on my specialty board exams;
      She failed her specialty boards multiple times.
      I'm a pretty great cook & apparently she was awful or just didn't do it.
      Once the relationship turned sexual, she pretty quickly turned into a class A bitch-- he constantly says now how unique I am, forgiving, & accepting of him. We talk about wives of some of his friends & he always says how I'm unique

      -sam

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  35. Just think of the o/w as a bike everyone rides, nothing special, just there!
    You, well you are unique and not available for everyone to ride apart from your partner. A jewel in the crown.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In London we have things called 'Boris bikes' after the present Mayor. You pick one up and leave it for someone else when you reach your destination. They're interchangeable. I may start calling ows 'Borisis'.

      I empathise with the idea of sexual trauma. I've been in better states, frankly, than today. Finally seeing a therapist for me, not just us. I hope she has some insights. There are so many layers of humiliation.

      I'm sorry you're still struggling Elle. You're so helpful to others, we're so grateful you're here. x

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    2. Thank-you. (And the Boris bikes thing makes me laugh.)
      I plan on posting about some of the sexual trauma stuff. Trying to wrap my own mind around it first.

      Elle

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  36. I have been trying to keep our prolonged hysterical bonding going. I am trying really hard to block out thoughts of him with OW and keep sexual desire going. It might be because we had a pretty bad sex life for the last few years so I am making up for it. Anyway, it helps that he and OW were "only" intimate a handful of times so I feel like the volume of good sex we have had overshadows anything they possibly could have had. So it is helping me to not dwell.
    Early on, he told me I was much better lover. I wanted to punch him for not seeing how stupid and insensitive it is to compare me in the same breath. It was a teensy bit flattering but mostly painful as it feeds my constant self-comparisons. I still worry that sadness and anger will creep back into bed and things will go back to being awkward and distant in bed.
    Nonetheless, I keep focusing on feeling sexy for myself and enjoying myself in bed (which frankly, I frequently didn't), which helps to make me a "better lover." I am also paying attention to the fact that he is changing and trying to become a better man so she can have the man he was before and during the affair. I am getting the better guy now.

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    Replies
    1. "she can have the man he was before and during the affair. I am getting the better guy now"

      That statement is one of the most powerful I have read. Thank you. I'm going to cling to this one. I had a hard day last week and my husband asked me what he could do to make me feel better. My answer was that I wanted to go back in time and beat the crap out of him. (Impossible but I was honest.)His response was that he wanted to do the same. I do see changes in him but he still doesn't realize how pervasive the pain is in all the areas of our marriage. Sometimes I don't tell him how difficult the sex is because I know he is really trying to be a good husband but how he is now doesn't erase what he did.

      Delete
  37. It took 2 years for my husband to admit this. So ladies, here are some aspects of the ow that my husband was ashamed to admit as it made it even worse that he was interested in her. So, they may act like porn stars, they may have kept the affair going, but do not be under any illusion that they even come anywhere near close to us.

    A list of the things that disgusted my husband after goggles were off!
    Saggy vagina.
    Boils on her back.
    A bum that hung down without any muscle tone.
    Hair extensions leaving bald patches.
    Rotten nails.
    Small teeth and not well looked after.
    Fake tan that was patchy.
    Make up that made her look like a drag queen.
    Fake eyelashes.

    I almost ( who am I kidding) feel sorry for him. So, we may have had kids, we may be too thin/overweight, we may be a bit tired at times and stressed out, but never have I made my husband feel repulsed. I never understood self-harming but this is almost a form, I've now started to read more about teenagers and their need to cut/harm themselves at certain difficult times in their lives. I feel there is a correlation?

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    Replies
    1. H'mmm…interesting. I'd love to hear more.

      Elle

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  38. I have a question for everyone. Does anyone else have problems going to places that you know your spouse has taken the ow. Like restaurants and movie theater. I'm freaking out over this. I can't go back to places I know he has been with her. I never want to go back to my favorite restaurant again because of this. This is.something that is frustrating my husband because he said its just a place and doesn't mean anything. I don't know what to say or do.

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    Replies
    1. It's a trigger for you, so of course it's going to be difficult. It isn't "just a place", it's a trigger for all sorts of memories. It can be songs, places, times of year…any and all can transport you back to a place of trauma.
      Steer clear of those places…for now. You might find the time will come when you can reclaim them. But I suggest you make new memories in places that have nothing to do with the affair. And your husband needs to recognize that his frustration helps nothing. He doesn't need to understand your pain in order to support you through it. He just needs to recognize that it's excruciating for you…and that he created it.

      Elle

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    2. Dear Anon,
      Yes, I had a huge hang up about the places that they went to. I couldn't even go shopping to the town where she lived for months. Best avoided when you feel like that.
      About 6 months after the affair when we revisited my questions ( and oh boy they never stopped) he admitted that he felt embarrassed by her at the bars and bistro that they went to. One Saturday whilst he was taking our kids to stay at the grandparents, as we had planned to go out, I decided I was ready to face it. He thought we were going to see a film. I was looking better in some respects as I had lost weight, I put on the heels, the dress, the silky underwear, hair was done, make up on and if I say so myself, looking good. When we eventually left I told him to turn right not left, he looked surprised. I told him it was now time for me to visit THAT bar with him.
      For the first 5 mins I was shaking inside, we sat down, had a glass of wine and simply looked around and I said, she must of stuck out like a sore thumb here and I laughed, not unkindly, it just was the most bizarre thing. He agreed and said that within 5 mins of walking in with her he wanted to hide in the dimmest corner. We actually had a lovely evening.

      About 3 months after that we visited the other places. I'm not saying this is for everyone as it could back fire, however, for me it was cathartic. His memories are with me there now and he has admitted its helped him an awful lot. One of the places I liked so much we now visit more regularly.

      I had really psyched myself up for these visits, was always looking good and it gave me some sort of closure on that part of things. I still have many issues to get my head around but I can honestly say that they are no longer trigger points. Working away at them one by one.

      Delete
    3. My husband took her on business trips to approximately 20 different cities over the 3 years. It has been so hard to go to any of these cities, but over time, I have reclaimed those that are important to me. For a couple of cities, I went alone, and oddly, that was good. I needed the city to be "mine" and not "ours" or "theirs". Time has been the biggest factor in lessening the pain of what the places mean. He says they mean nothing to him, but that is not how I have felt.

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    4. I want to go to a lot of those same places to take them away from her. U may just need time before they r no longer triggering. This way we create new memories & his old ones may start to fade. After 2 years ther is a lot he really doesn't remember. I found a 3 year old movie stub in his wallet with her name on it from a movie they apparently saw together right before their relationship became sexual. Not only did he not recall seeing the movie but he actually said he thought we saw it together. I told him he found the whole experience of the affair so unpleasant that he subconsciously may be trying to forget or even rewrite some of those memories himself. When he says he had no idea of what he had gotten himself into, I believe him. Why not rewrite that history together?

      -sam

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  39. I find that because my husband didn't have a prolonged sexual affair, I find it easier to ignore her existence. This didn't have to do with her, though originally he made it sound like it did.
    Alas, if I try to think of negative things about her looks, I won't get far--she is attractive, small, and in shape. However, I am lucky enough to be an eye catcher, myself. And I don't want to fall into the misogynistic tradition of women hating on each others appearances. Though I can say without a doubt that she is clearly a damaged, extremely narcissitic, childish, selfish personality--obvious from Facebook and anyone I know who knows her.
    Also, in my case, my husband was the OM (though the other couple seemed to be more flexible around fidelity and her husband was also a serial cheater) so if I fill myself up with hate, I will have to hate him with almost as much intensity. For now, I am just trying to keep the hatred to a manageable level.

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  40. Hi…thank you for this blog. I found out over 2 weeks ago my husband had a 6 week affair. He confessed to me (tears and all). He claims they only had sex once, but I know he fell in love with her. That is the part that is killing me…he ACTUALLY loved her or so he thought. Its obvious he had strong feelings for her. It's a knife to my heart. On top of it, he had begun playing daddy to her young son. We have 2 young children (2 and 5), and I am heartbroken. He loved this woman….what am I even fighting for at this point??? I mean, it is possible to be in love with 2 woman???

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    Replies
    1. Hi Andrea,

      I'm so sorry to read your story. And it's only been two weeks since you found out.
      Regarding your question about loving/being in love with two women....I'm almost certain that he doesn't LOVE the OW. He was/is in love with her. And yes, that can happen at the same time as loving you. Love is something you work on and that builds up. It's not something that just happens.

      Being in love is like a drug. It can take a while before it's gone. It took my husband (who had a 2 month affair) about 3 months to come completely out of the affair fog. Only then did he fully realise what he had done. He now knows he didn't LOVE her, it was how she made him feel about himself. It was lust and infatuation. Not love.

      I hope you can hang in there. Take good care of yourself! Eat and sleep. I wasn't able to sleep and eat for weeks. Excercise. Find a councelor. I'm sure Elle has more tips for you.

      Just wanted to assure you that it can't have been real love..


      Mara x

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    2. Thanks Mara for offering up your thoughts. I think you're exactly right. These guys fall in love with the reflection in the other person's eyes. They feel interesting and sexy and fun. That's intoxicating. Like Mara's husband, most wake up and wonder what the hell THAT was all about. Like coming out of a dream…or a fog.
      Don't knock yourself out trying to make sense of this. It's nonsensical. Just keep yourself this side of crazy.

      Elle

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    3. Andrea, my husband told his OW that he loved her too. My husband is a passionate guy as well as having a major midlife crisis so I am not surprised he "fell in love." But I knew in my heart that it wasn't real love. My husband has a highly addictive personality and did not stop contacting her until a week ago. Even though I believe he loves me deeply and more meaningfully than the lust for this woman, the chemicals of sex and attraction take along time to leave. It is extremely painful but he is finally coming out of the fog and the bubble is bursting--6 months since the first revelation.The infatuation can be an addiction and his behavior cannot be counted on. Read up on love addiction and the wayward spouse fog. Give yourself time to absorb what has happened but also make sure that he is agreeing to no contact and monitoring. I would take caution to not assume that he is ready to move on and will now behave with integrity.
      Hang on. It is bumpy but you can come out of this intact.

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  41. Just had a lovely evening with my husband, then I get a flashback of what he did and I hate him, I know 9 weeks is still raw but can I ever move on from this I really don't know. Why am I letting this get the better of me and spoiling precious time we have set aside for ourselves away from the kids ??? This really sucks. Sometimes I just want out x

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sam,

      You will probably have more flashbacks in the time to come. It's perfectly normal. Tell your husband about them and tell him what he can do to comfort you.
      I tell my husband I don't tell him because I want to punish him, but because I need him to comfort me.

      Mara x

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    2. Thank you Mara I will try doing just that : )

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  42. Having a pissed of moment whereby I text my husband telling him to leave me and go to the ow, In these moments I feel like I would gladly let him go. I simply hate what he's done to me to our family so go with the person you so wanted for a year and half why should I now pick up the pieces you have left. 10 weeks post d day and counting waiting for something not sure what just want this mess out of my head, wish it never happened how date he?? Part of me wants punishment I want to throw him out so he goes to her or do I really want that so confused any help is so appreciated x

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  43. Sam, I can't count the times I kicked my husband out, told him I hated him, told him he "ruined me", called him unpublishable names. Not that I would recommend my particular approach. But just to assure you that your feelings, under the circumstances, are normal. Not helpful necessarily but normal.
    Is there something else you can do when that rage hits? Go for a run? Beat the shit out of a pillow? Scream until you're hoarse? Make yourself an appointment for a massage or a pedicure? Write him a letter in which you detail just what a horrible waste of skin he is…and then burn it in a ritual ceremony? The confusion is simply part of it. Wait until you're clear. If you truly want out, then you'll proceed in a way that ensures you get what you want. If you're trying to punish him, then figure out a way to let him know of your pain without pushing him away. Time honestly does offer clarity.

    Elle

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  44. Hello Elle, on my way to my first therapsit meeting, finally! When you kicked him out did he go and how long did he stayed away? My H is still staying out of the house living who knows where (not with OW I know now, still not letting her go or choosing marriage). He's so messed up it's not even funny......what to do now I just don't know. I am 12 weeks for D-day #1......~u~

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    Replies
    1. U,
      I hope the therapist can support you through this. I didn't kick my husband out (well, not really. I threatened…). He immediately stopped the affair and gave me access to all channels of communication so I would know what he was doing. I'm glad you can see that he's the messed up one. As for you, just take it one day (or one minute, one hour…) at a time. Stay focussed on you and what you need to move forward. You'll get there.

      Elle

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    2. About 3 months after finding out about her and 3 weeks post-D-day (when the lid blew off!), my husband came home one day and asked me if I wanted him to move out. My position on that is twofold: (1) if HE wants to move out, he can - don't make ME the bad guy by "kicking him out" because he can't or won't make a decision. (I'm intrigued by the Peter Pan thread above - my husband has many of those traits and is also quite passive aggressive). and (2) moving out implied he did not want to confront any of the so-called problems in the marriage (he was running away because he didn't want responsibility). He stayed. I had begged for counseling which he had refused - then all of a sudden it was a go (if I set it up)...I still don't know to this day what tipped him back in favor of the marriage. I suspect it was partly pressure from his parents finding out.

      Delete
    3. My husband kept asking me the same thing. We had this very long period of limbo, and he would look at me as if he was waiting for me to say "its over." As if he didn't want the responsibility of making a choice. In fact, he said he wanted me to do it so he wouldn't have to be the bad guy. Definitely a Peter Pan move. They want you us to be Wendy/mommy--the person who takes responsibility for their behavior.

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  45. Elle, yet again you talk from experience and knowledge. It's comforting to know you also went through this anger and hate. My emotions are very much up then down. I will try vent my anger elsewhere and when I'm calm tell my husband how I'm feeling. Thank you Elle you make me feel a whole lot better . X

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    Replies
    1. Sam,
      You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone on this site that didn't go through absolute hell to get past this. Rages, crying jags that lasted days, thoughts of suicide, depression, weight loss and gain, the list goes on. There's no blueprint for how to survive hell. We just do the best we can with others to light our way forward.
      Hang in there. Each day gets you a bit closer to that moment when you realize this is well and truly behind you.

      Elle

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  46. I will never forget how kind I was to the OW. Then one day she had the nerve to tell me that I should stop with the pity party because she was hurting too. Hahahaha.. I about died rightthere. I never got to tell her how I ffelt except that they both hurt me and I wish I had told her EVERYTHING I felt.

    Smm89

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    1. Smm89,
      There's honestly no point in trying to get them to understand our pain. I think in order to be an OW, you need to be able to think of yourself and your wants as more important than integrity. You need to be able to convince yourself (or be convinced) that the wife somehow doesn't deserve courtesy and respect and kindness. So trying to get someone like that to feel compassion for you and what you're going through is an exercise in futility. Better to shift focus completely off of her and onto yourself. Be gentle with yourself, kind with yourself. To hell with her.

      Elle

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  47. I think it is important to not dwell on comparing yourself to the OW. Trying to list all her superficial bad qualities (looks, job, bad breath, bad sex) will just perpetuate the cycle of competition and judgement/self judgement. What if the other woman was a yoga instructor with a hot bod. Or had alot of money for nice clothes. It isn't the point. It is important to understand the deeper ways that our spouses are most definitely "affairing down." They are choosing people who lack integrity and self respect to require a man to not be attached to another woman if he wants to be with her. He went with someone who is easy--easily gives up on herself and her integrity. Someone who lets herself be used to fullfill a man's ego. She wasn't his dream girl, she was just available. I got this quote from another blog and it says it all: "My husband is mirroring himself. He is a mess so he found someone else who is just as messed up."

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    Replies
    1. You are so right. My ow was married herself with a child. She used to right him all sorts of letters & card that they were destined to be together & they were soulmates. All this while they were both married to other people with children from other people. What kind of sane self-respecting person does that to themselves & their family & someone else's family. How selfish & self centered!

      & as an aside, everyone keeps talking about weight loss. Yes I stopped eating & sleeping but the few pounds I initially lost I have now regained about 6 months post d day. I wish I had lost weight! Instead about 3 months post d day when I went to have my hair highlighted I discovered I had been losing patches of my hair. I told my husband just my luck. My body can't even react to this stress the way I want! So as I'm sure there are others of u out there-- u r not alone & I hope it will grow back!

      -sam

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