Share Your Story: Feeling Stuck? Part Three (THIS SECTION IS FULL. NO MORE COMMENTS PLEASE)

We learn from each other on this site so please share your story...and share your hard-won wisdom with others.

206 comments:

  1. Wow, your story sounds so familiar. I too gave up after DDay 2. I left, and told my H that if he was invested in another relationship he couldn't be invested in or respecting ours. It was so hard to believe that he could just let me walk away, but he did. And 10 months later he hasn't looked back and is still ridiculously happy with the OW.

    I am truly sorry for what you are going through. The pain, and the frustration that he has skipped all that pain and heartache. It's not fair that he gets to be madly in love and we are left to pick up the pieces. The truth is, I don't believe our husbands will ever come to regret what they did. But I am learning that in letting me go he gave me a gift. He may never regret what he did, but he'll also never learn from it, and never grow. You will grow so much from your experiences, and you are now free to move on to what ever life has in store for you.

    When I first left my husband, I told myself that I wasn't shutting him out forever, that I was just closing the door temporarily, so that he couldn't keep hurting me. I knew that when he was ready to love me again, I would be willing to learn to forgive and love him again. 10 months on, with no reconciliation in sight, I still have to believe in my heart that I am capable of forgiveness and reconciliation. But truly, I hope it never comes to that, and that he never comes back. Life is too short and too precious to work so hard to rebuild something that is so broken. Our husbands are so damaged, is it worth the risk to try to learn to love and trust them again, knowing that they have betrayed us once and we are no longer so naive to think that they couldn't do it again?

    I know that many couples on this site have made the decision to stay together and work things out. I really do admire this and wish I had been given this opportunity. But I wasn't. Instead I was given the gift to learn from a failed marriage and to try again some other time with someone who deserves my love. Please try to let him go, to live his life and to make his mistakes. Let go of the bitterness, and try to see this as an opportunity. You would have stayed with this man, and very likely would have been in a terrible marriage for many years. Instead he has set you free. He is not the lucky one - you are.

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    1. While I think it's possible for some couples, whose relationship begins as an affair to be "ridiculously happy", it's statistically rare. Roughly 1% of relationships that begin as an affair actually survive. Those are tough odds. I say this not to offer false hope. But to underscore your point that often, those who are left and choose to learn and grow from it really are the "lucky" ones. It's hard to see it that way when you're in such pain. But I remember my dad pointing out to me once that he saw so many guys he worked with leave their wives for other women...always, he noticed, ending up in exactly the same misery they thought there were escaping. We can't escape ourselves.

      Elle

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    2. Thanks for responding. Odd as it sounds, it is comforting when I know others have had a similar experience as myself. I'm sorry you have to go through this too. You hit the nail on the head when you said you weren't given the opportunity to stay together and work out things. I feel the same way. Somehow, I feel like it is worse than other scenarios because I, the betrayed spouse, want to heal our marriage and he doesn't. It is like a double rejection- first the affair, then I'm not worth the effort of repair. I feel doubly stupid- first I am cheated on, I still love him and want him but get rejected again. It's like I can feel everyone saying "when will she learn?, Hello!!!" I also am saying this about myself; it is a strange thing I am learning about myself- I have two totally conflicting thoughts at all times. First I want to run away from my husband as fast as possible and be done with him, he's a jerk who isn't worth it and second I am craving his love, affection, and wanting to put back together my family at any cost.

      A friend recently told me that my head and heart are thinking two different ways- once they are both on the same page, I will feel better. She also said to focus on what my head is saying right now, my heart will catch up. I understand what she is saying; my head is the one that is saying GET OUT but my heart doesn't want to believe it, even though I can plainly see what is happening. My heart has not given up yet. This ever-present state of limbo is not a comfortable place!

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    3. It makes complete sense that you would want to keep your family intact -- it's easiest for kids, certainly. And there's something to be said about the "devil the know versus the one you don't". Such a big change can be scary. But that's okay. That doesn't make it wrong. And of course you're not going to just stop loving him. There's much history there. So give your heart time to catch up to your head. It will happen and you'll likely see him far more clearly (and be glad to be done with him!).
      Be patient with yourself. Don't worry about what others say. Anyone with an ounce of compassion (or experience with this) is likely just wishing they could easy your pain. The rest? They're critics whose opinions don't need to be taken into account. When we're in pain, we don't need critics, we need cheerleaders. But pain scares people. It triggers their own fears.
      No matter. Your friend sounds wise. Listen to her. Make a list of other scary things that you'd like to try (hang-gliding? Diving? Writing your memoir?) and try to tackle them slowly. Learn that fear won't kill you.
      You've got a lot of living left to do. With time, you'll take this wisdom and create a life that feeds your soul. And perhaps, if you want, you'll find someone deserving of sharing it with you.

      Elle

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  2. Ok. I have to admit, I've been obsessing over the OW. If they weren't together or my husband would stop lying about it maybe I could let it go, but neither is the case. 6 yrs of seperation with me telling him nearly three years ago that I agreed to the divorce and we're still married. I discovered he was seeing his co-worker in 2008, after him moving her into our home for a night( temporary insanity) and then catching him 3 times with her I left the apartmnent we shared telling him if thats what he wanted then have it. I offered him forgiveness and the option of counseling with him replying " I think that ship has sailed". Through the duration of our seperation we have had "dates" his half assed way of working it out apparently. Because he has consistently denied being with the OW, I have continually researched her and found substantial evidence that they've been together even to this day. It angers me because we had slept together on many occasions until September 2012 and I have found a picture she posted of him sitting in his boxers dated October 2012, now how you going to say you were never together like that if the ho has a picture of you in your boxers?! You really just hang with your female "friends" like that? I know it is him that I should be angry with and I am but the OW(whore) knew he was married, met me and didn't have the balls to admit they were together when I confronted her. A real woman would not be a secret or a chick on the side and lie for they guy, I think that is what really annoys me...that he fell for someone who seems so plain and spineless.It annoys me to think if she's so great then why hasn't he just divorced me already. People say I should just file for the divorce but it's my principal that he's the one who ruined the marriage, he's the adulterer, he should file and pay.It annoys me that it seems like they're living it up together. I have a wonderful son from another relationship that I had 2 years ago and pretty much a better quality of life without him but it stills angers me that she took away what I thought was a happy ending, she took away my vows...I promised forever and meant it and I had to walk away.

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    1. B Louise,
      I think you're hurting yourself by remaining locked into this battle of the wills with him. Six years of separation? Three years since you told him you'd divorce? You two are still tangled up in each other, whether you want to be or not.
      Divorce him. Find some online form and fill it out. Free yourself from this toxic relationship. Stop having anything to do with him. You know he lies. You know he manipulates. And yet you open the door to him, expecting him to be different. He's not. He's shown you who he is.
      Move on. Give yourself the gift of a future free of him. It's time to let go.

      Elle

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    3. I know, I agree. I know he's really a narcissistic sociopath and know I don't want to return to a relationship like that again. I know my actions are crazy but I don't know how to get past the OW even though I'm past my husband. For some reason I'm still hung up on her. I was never insecure or jealous but I don't know why I am over her because she's so plain and unattractive. The memory of me trying to seduce my husband in risque lingerie and him telling me "I try too hard" stays in my head among other scenerios that have shaken my confidence and self-esteem. I'm seeing someone now who seems great but in the back of my head I'm questioning things about him and his motives even though he really seems like a respectful, honorable, and sincere guy.

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  3. When does it end? When does the crushing pain end? When do you finally make it through a single day, or even half of a day, without thinking about what your husband did to your beautiful, not perfect, but good, better than most, 17 & 1/2 year marriage? Even with your husband telling you Every Single Day for the past 7 months that he loves you. Even seeing the change in him to be filled with gratitude for everything. Even with him giving me complete access to everything, answering all my questions, and having no contact with the OW. Even with marriage counseling and individual counseling and running until my knees are screaming, the pain just doesn't let up.
    We were out of town last week for our child's spring break, staying at a super-high end Hyatt that I had gotten for an amazing deal on Hotwire, and it should have been amazing. She is at an age now where she is so much fun, but I was so sad. Any feeling of joy brings on ten times as much feeling of loss and sadness.
    One night, I spent five hours sitting on the sofa in the room, wide awake, listening to them sleep and thinking that it wouldn't matter if I just wandered off into the city that we were in. They would be better off without me and, surely, I could find some crime infested neighborhood where I could be put out of my pain. I am nine months past D-Day and I can make it through a day without sobbing hysterically now, just crying silently while I shower mostly, but the pain is unending. The person that I was before this - the strong, level-headed, capable and loving person - she is long, long gone and not coming back. And, I miss her. I liked her. I thought my husband loved her. Where do you find the strength to go on?
    I think where I am the most stuck, since this is the stuck thread, is that when I found out, my husband was very confused, not in the classic "affair fog" sense of living in this ultimate passion-filled love nest, but because the OW had been telling him for months and months that "I knew" (I didn't) and that he should file for divorce from me, first, because it gave him strategic advantage. She even hired a divorce lawyer for him to talk to! He refused. He told her that he would not divorce me. He says wanted it (the affair) to all just "go away." Then, I find out, he admits and a week later, leaves me for her for four weeks. During those four weeks, I didn't go crazy on him, I prayed, I sought support from friends and family (family who now won't have anything to do with me because they disagree with my choice to try to rebuild the marriage) and I just tried to get three meals a day on the table for our child. If he refused to leave me when I didn't know, why did he leave me when I did know and did NOT kick him out, did NOT become an explosive, ranting b*#$&? I cried and cried and we went to marriage counseling, immediately, his idea. The torture of me knowing he was with her, and deciding if that was what he wanted, rather than me, is what has me stuck. I feel like he rejected her, so I am his second choice. The "next best" choice when she wasn't all he thought after moving in with her. I feel like the "consolation" prize.
    Now, after all his affair fog is gone, he keeps saying it was never about me. I am not his second choice. He always loved me and she knew that and worked for months and months planting seeds of doubt inside of him.
    I know it says everywhere on this blog that it wasn't about me. I can see where the affair wasn't about me, but what was missing inside of him. However, leaving me was about me, wasn't it? He says no, he says he was confused.
    When does the pain at least become manageable?

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    1. Oh my goodness, I know your feelings so so well.
      Are you in counselling? If not, I think you should be. You need someone to help you go through the fallout of betrayal. Once the immediate fight-or-flight is over, we're left with this void. This sense that we're disposable. That we're not as special as we thought we were.
      Nothing could be further from the truth. Our value doesn't lie in someone else's fidelity to us, it lies in OUR fidelity to us. You need to fight for yourself. You need to fight to shake off this cloak you've wrapped yourself in, of pain and despair.
      You've been deeply deeply hurt by someone you trusted. And that's undeniable. It's over. The problem with betrayal is that it often created PTSD-type response -- we hold on tight to the pain because the idea of letting go is terrifying. We're so afraid of being blind-sided again. We fear feeling joy because we know that it can give way to pain.
      Your husband is telling you the absolute truth. This was never about you. He was weak and vulnerable and she bore into that like the damaged opportunist she is. She had him so convinced that you clearly didn't care enough about him to fight for a marriage you "knew" to be under threat that, when you found out and didn't freak out, he couldn't imagine how to deal. This wasn't in the script. Perhaps he felt so unworthy of you that it made more sense to be with someone he believed to be his moral equal. It's not uncommon for some guys to think they're so vile and worthless that they don't deserve a second chance. But that's for him to figure out, which he should be doing with a qualified counsellor.
      In the meantime, I urge you to part the dark shades and try to let even a little bit of light in. Make a list of things you're grateful for, every single morning or evening: your child's emerging personality, hearing her laugh, spring flowers poking their heads up. Anything that allows that voice in your head to stop its haranguing of you and pause, for a milli-second, and feel even a hint of joy.
      That's how it begins. By focussing on the slivers of light in the dark. You're not serving anyone by pouring over how his affair played out. You're only keeping yourself locked in pain.
      He hurt you deeply. I'm not disputing that. And, at any time, you have the right to walk out the door and say you're done with him. But no matter whether you're with him or without him, you need to redefine yourself (your "former" self) as NOT a victim. You're going to show your child (whether or not your child ever really knows it) that when life kicks you in the teeth, you brush yourself off, remain open-hearted and pick yourself up. What advice would you give your daughter should (god forbid) this ever happen to her? My guess is it wouldn't be to curl up in a ball and give up. My guess is you would hold her, love her, remind her just how beautiful the world is with her in it, and tell her, as often as she needed to hear it, that she was stronger than this. That she can get past this. That even when others fail us, we don't fail ourselves.
      That's what you need to tell yourself. Because it's the truth.


      Elle

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    2. So much resonates with your post right now. Some days I sink so far down, I don't remember how to feel joy. I just tell myself that I will get past it, even though I don't feel like it right now.
      The affair fog/confusion/indecision thing also took a toll on me. I think the repeated trauma of his continuing the affair and contacting her after the initial d-day has led to my symptoms of PTSD.
      But I remind myself that my H was entrenched in the story he had been telling himself for months: this woman "got him" and how I kept him from being happy. So the indecision and leaving was about his twisted version of me, not the real me then and certainly not me now. He finally caught on to the fact that she was just a desperate and needy person who used men to make her feel good about herself and take care of her--Just like him. He could finally face the truth about what he was doing--trying to escape himself with a fantasy.
      Doesn't mean that I am not feeling hellish pain everyday. Though I realize that I have turned a corner where I can atleast wake up each morning and not feel the sinking feeling at the pit of my stomach.
      We just got to hang on gals...

      MBS

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    3. MBS,
      Hang on that awareness that, while you don't feel bliss, you also don't feel as awful as you did. And know that, since that is true, it's therefore possible that you will continue to feel better, even incrementally, each day. You might have setbacks (or rather, you will have setbacks) but as long as you stay focussed on the tiny slivers of light that are making their way into your life, you'll continue to create more.

      Elle

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  4. A week ago my H recently learned the the OW got remarried about 6 months ago. When he shared this news with me, I asked him how he felt about it. He said he was surprised (period). That's it? It's about 15 months post DDay. She officially divorced her husband in July 2013 and remarried in Nov 2013 (she had seperated from her husband in 2012). I pushed the issue with him because I wondered if he had considered his previous convictions that they were "soul mates" that he "should have met her first." I wanted to know if he had considered the weight of his decisions for the two years he had the affair and that within a year of their affair ending she remarried. I'm am angry that they tormented me for two years. She was an evil and manipulative woman who did terrible things to me (and him). And now, she has started a new life. And my H and I are still picking up the pieces in our marriage.

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    1. Let's start by reminding ourselves that other people's lives, no matter how shiny and new and pretty they look on the outside, are NEVER that way on the inside. We all have struggles. Those who marry because they fear being alone are consigning themselves to, usually, a big mess.
      I think the real issue here is that you need to know that your husband sees what you see: a manipulative woman who wouldn't know "love" if it bit her on the ass and yet is willing to participate in the destruction of relationships under the pre tense of "soul mates". She's pathetic. I get that. But to expect him to get that (yet) might be asking a bit too much.
      You know it's true. But for him to admit it means acknowledging just what a shmuck he truly is. It means looking ridiculous. It means feeling that deep shame, again. It means feeling used.
      All of which he likely does feel, on some level. But he also might well feel a huge sense of relief that he dodged that particular bullet and is able to rebuild a life with the woman he almost lost because of his idiocy. No doubt his feelings around this are confusing to him. Best summed up with "surprised".
      It's possible you two will be able to talk about this. You could open the door by telling him that you wonder if it's hard for him and that you might be able to listen to him talk about it should he want to. Or it might be best for you to let it go for now. He shared the news with you, which is good.
      If you need reassurance from him that he's all the more sure he made the right decision, then tell him that. Mention that this news has triggered some feelings in you that are uncomfortable. You could use this as an opportunity to try and get a bit deeper into what you both want out of a "new" marriage with each other.
      But please, trust that anyone who hasn't faced her own demons is simply bringing them into a new relationship. Expect "news" that she's either cheating on her new husband, being cheated on, or divorcing.

      Elle

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  5. Elle,
    You really need to charge for your words of wisdom! It is so easy to blame the cheater, demand answers and insight. It is much harder to take long hard look at what we are really feeling when we are stirred up. I guess for me it's the fear of choice..."did i make the right choice"..."does he feel he made the right choice". Strange how a choice can feel both liberating and binding.

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    1. Oh...I have my share of "blame the cheater" moments because, c'mon, there's plenty to blame them for!! It's just that blame doesn't really take you anywhere. And since most of the women who come to this site don't want to feel stuck in blame (which essentially strips us of any power to create change because we're waiting for the other person to accept blame), the wisest course of action is to figure out where we go from here. That's always our choice. And remember that "choice" isn't necessarily forever. The best marriages, I think, are about choosing, each and every day, to be with this person. And to choose how to show up in our marriage in a way that honors ourselves and each other. It's looking back that trips us up. And trying to get into someone else's head.

      Elle

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  6. Hello, wise women, I could use some help. Briefly, I'm about 3 years past original D-Day. Husband's affair was sporadic (at times we lived on different continents) but spread out over 5-6 years (he's still vague on start date). It was physical, not emotional, and I am 99% confident (based on verification that I feel no shame for!) that he hasn't been in contact with her for these 3 years. We're limping along; I'm sure he thinks things are better than I think they are. I posted here a month or so ago and Elle pointed out that it sounds like I'm in the "dead zone," which was spot on, and reading about that emotional state was very helpful.

    I believe a couple of specific things are keeping me stuck, though, and I'd appreciate knowing what others think. First, I don't feel he really regrets the sex they had. I think he regrets making extremely poor choices, hurting me, and risking our kids' home life, and I'm positive he regrets getting caught! But I don't think he looks back on their encounters with loathing and revulsion. I think I would if I were him. Is it wrong for me to want or expect this? But at the time, she was a positive in his life because she made him feel desired and desirable, and I think he still kind of thinks of her that way -- he was unhappy, and she gave him something that felt good. Thinking of her doesn't make him feel like throwing up, which is what I want!

    Second, after I confronted him, he ended their association by closing his "secret" email account through which they communicated. He just closed it -- he didn't precede that with an email stating he would not be seeing or talking to her again, that it was wrong and he regretted his choices, etc. And this is something I want. This woman knew me and my children yet willfully interfered in my marriage. I want him to stand up for me and our family and TELL her that he deeply regrets every minute he ever spent with her. I want her to hear the words straight from his mouth, not just infer them since he broke off contact. I know I should probably just let this sleeping dog lie (alone to scratch her fleas). But I want more than his apology, I want reparations, and I want a stronger show of commitment than simply his being here and acting like a loving husband -- because he was doing that all along.

    Thanks for reading this, ladies, and thanks for any words of wisdom!

    Jennifer

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    1. Thank you for putting into words exactly how I feel and how I think my husband feels about his OW. I know that these things make you feel he doesn't regret his actual affair and the length of time it lasted (in my case 18 years of sporadic contact with an ex girlfriend, including sex). He does regret the hurt he caused but I still don't think he regrets the excitement of it all. I don't know how he told her it was over other that that is was by phone, I would also like to know that he has told her how much he regretted ever going near her - but I don't think that would be true

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    2. "I still don't think he regrets the excitement of it all" -- That's it exactly! Will our marriage ever be really good if he never looks back with *total* disgust? I just don't see how it can. I feel so discouraged.

      Jennifer

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    3. Jennifer,
      I think you're confusing "excitement" with "love". Ask any drug addict about the excitement of being about to score. Ask any gambler about the thrill of sitting down at the blackjack table. It's all simply a matter of our brain chemistry. So it's possible for a drug addict to remember that "thrill" but nonetheless never want to go down that path again because the cost is simply too high. Similarly it's possible for someone who cheated to remember that it felt really exciting while having the executive functioning part of the brain overrule it because it would mean losing something else that is far more important.
      I think it's also possible for our husbands to hold those seemingly contradictory feelings simultaneously. To remember the affair as exciting...but to also feel disgusted with themselves for their lack of integrity.
      Don't let this stand in the way of rebuilding your marriage, assuming you want to. There are things our partners think/feel that, frankly, we don't need to know about. Their thoughts are not always pure. And that's okay. It's what we DO that's important, not every single thing we think. It's something I have to teach my children -- who are convinced that thinking bad thoughts (I want to kick my brother in the face) are the same as doing them. They're not.

      Elle

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  7. Hi, everyone. I can't believe that I'm "here" but here I am. Almost 5 months ago I found out that my husband of 18 years was having an affair for a year and a half. He never wanted to leave me for her blah blah and the kids all know and it's been carnage. I kicked him out of the house for about six weeks but then allowed him to move into the guest bedroom where he remains to this day. The reason I let him back in initially was that the youngest child (aged 11) was acting out so badly I couldn't take any more and relented thinking that at least he could take the heat directly for what damage he is responsible for. We've been working hard in Marriage counselling and I'm in my own therapy as well and I felt like we were making progress. We both haven't been happy for a long time and my needs weren't getting met either and the children took over our lives. But, I did not see the affair coming and it stunned me beyond belief. We have made some progress towards improving our marriage and he is doing all the right things but I had a set back over the weekend when he went to see his mom and it's like the past four months never happened. I feel just like the crazy person I was in January and alternate between rage and hurt. The other thing I wonder about, and would really value hearing from other people, is how to deal with the outside world when your domestic life is chaos. Because my husband is a "local hero" the gossip mill worked over time to start with and pretty soon everyone I knew had heard the "good news." I have retreated into my house and away from friends and when people want to see me, even some times good friends, I just can't because I find it impossibly painful to talk about. I felt that I had to tell some good friends because I didn't want them to hear about it by other sources and every time, EVERY TIME, they would double over in pain and cry when I told them. There is so much to sort out that I don't even know where to start but we've been invited to a party in July and I'm already obsessing over it. I can be with my friends, I can be with my husband, but I can't imagine ever mixing people together again. I know that even when no one knows about the discovery of an affair that it's difficult to socialise so it's not unique to me in these circumstances. But, I used to really enjoy parties and now...Not so much! So, I'd like some advice or experience from your readers. I feel so lost. This has been the worst and most traumatic experience of my life without a doubt. It really is so good to share this with people who've been there.

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    1. None of us can believe we're here...so you're in good company.
      Please don't beat yourself up because you had a setback. Expect setbacks. It doesn't mean you're right back at square one, just like one cheesecake doesn't sabotage four months of dieting. The pressure of your husband being away likely triggered you. It's normal. Now that you know that's a trigger, you can put something in place for next time -- perhaps regular texts/calls. Perhaps plans you make with a good friend. Anything that will help you. But there will be other triggers too that you don't anticipate. It helps to know that because when it happens, you can recognize it as a trigger and talk yourself down -- ie. "I'm not where I was four months ago. This is just a trigger. I'm remembering a really painful time. This isn't happening now..." or whatever works for you. Deep breathing. Checking in with your husband or a good friend. Betrayal triggers PTSD-type symptoms so sometimes our bodies respond as if we're right back in that horrible moment of finding out.
      I also think it's normal for some people (ie. me) to withdraw. Like you, I couldn't stand the thought of people talking/whispering/gossiping about me so I withdrew. I think it can help in the short-term but it's not how you want to life your future. I had a good friend who would come with me to certain events, telling me she had my back. She would remind me that I had nothing to be embarrassed about. To hold my head high. Is there someone who could do that for you?
      And give yourself an escape hatch. Reserve the right to change your mind if you don't feel like going. Don't force yourself. Allow yourself to leave after a period of time. This is your life, your healing. You need to absolutely do what's best for you. You're not serving anyone, least of all yourself, by forcing yourself into situations that seem unbearable. Baby steps.
      And please know that five months is still incredibly raw. This does get easier with time. People forget, they lose interest. Just keep being yourself -- honest, decent, open-hearted.
      Tell your friends that you need them to act as normal as possible right now. Not their tears or their hysterics, just steady support. Whether or not any of them have admitted it, statistically they've either gone through it or will go through it. It's why some people have such a hard time with other people's infidelity -- it triggers such a fear in us.
      Take it a moment at a time. Trust that you're getting stronger. Recognize setbacks for just what they are. You'll get through this.

      Elle

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    2. Lots of your details ring true for me. 18 years together, kids overwhelming us at times, struggling marriage, but I still didn't see it coming. He cheated with a new mom who was part of the small intimate preschool we are a part of. I even encouraged and supported the OW (I can't even call her that, I generally refer to her as the whore--clearly I am not ready to be civil around her) and my H hang out at group events and play music with other folks for our fundraiser. I didn't see her as a threat as she seemed like the shallow empty-headed type that we would make fun of together.
      The school was the hub of our social life and my new circle of friends in the city that we moved to since having kids. Plus people from our daughter's elementary school know of the affair. Basically everyone in our medium sized city knows so the gossip mill has been running rampant. My H is hugely popular and well liked.

      The sad thing is that few people have really shown up in the way I need them to. Mostly it just the shock, sadness and scandal that has people talking. Few have wanted to bring it up with me directly and ask how I am doing. Mostly because I think they think I am embarrassed and don't want to talk about it. They also like my H and don't know what to think. And like Elle, said they lose interest or don't want to revisit the pain of their own infidelity story. To many people, it is a marital issue not a trauma. I realize that I probably would have reacted the same way if it was someone else who was cheated on. You really just don't get it unless you have direct experience.
      At times, I feel humiliated but Im I trying not to act humiliated. We used to participate in the preschool events several times a year and I don't want to let that go but my H is pretty much staying away. The OW is also friends with these folks and will possibly be returning to the school with her younger child.
      I feel the same trepidation about stepping out in public and joining these events. But I also don't want to retreat and let their stupid actions take away the parts of my life that gave me joy. But I also don't know if I can be in the vicinity of the OW.
      I am struggling this week because the fundraiser is this weekend (the A started this time last year when he and she were going to play music for the fundraiser) and I have been encouraged to come by some folks. I don't think the OW will be there because her child is in the ICU (stupid whore let her 3 year old ride by himself into a crosswalk where he got hit by a truck). More events like camping trips (where he fooled around with her last year) are coming this summer. Attending these school events used to be such an important part of my life and helped with the loneliness I struggled with since leaving my hometown. So I need to decide how to reclaim these things yet not get triggered.
      Like you, it has only been 5 mos since he stopped communicating with the OW. My H knows my struggle and we are talking about how to use these events to heal. Maybe he will come with me, maybe not. But atleast he is ready to support me.
      Anyway, it is so important not to feel alone. That's why we need people who can be with us in this. And why we need to share with each other in order to reclaim our lives.

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    3. That's a really tough situation. It's hard enough to know these women are "out there"...but to have them part of our social fabric is awful.
      I'm glad you want to reclaim that part of your life though. I think expecting to be able to do "without being triggered" is unrealistic. Prepare to be triggered and prepare to do damage control for yourself. Perhaps you could enlist an ally to check in with you, give you a knowing smile -- just a physical reminder that you're not alone. Perhaps you could plan something just for you afterward -- a reward, so to speak, for doing something tough for you. Think about what might work.
      This isn't easy...but gets easier with time.

      Elle

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    4. Elle, words of wisdom again from you! Thank you so much. I really appreciate all your advice and am beginning to understand that I need to "manage my triggers" as opposed to avoiding them altogether because you can't always predict. And I do have some good friends who have been fantastic which makes it so much easier for me but it's that excruciating feeling of vulnerability that no one can help with, it's just my burden alone.

      I also relate to the other woman who has posted with a similar story. I feel your pain sister! I routinely refer to the OW (who referred to herself as TM in her texts to my husband that I will never get out of my head) as TFC. So...whore is absolutely fine. Probably more acceptable then my version! I also relate to how people don't understand the "trauma" of what's happened and that's hard and isolating on top of all the other misery. Luckily for me the woman that my husband had an affair with lives three hours away thank God because having the fresh hell of knowing her and having social overlap would be even more excruciating. Ugh! And she sounds like an idiot on top. My husband is also really well liked and respected in the community and I relate to that too. I think your husband should be going with you for your support for what it's worth. It's the least he can do. Good luck.

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    5. I actually decided that I will go alone with my kids. My support will come from friends who are allies. I think him being there is too much of a trigger and I will have to think about what others think about him. I want to reclaim this community for me alone. I know many are angry at the OW, so I imagine there is plenty of anger at him. And I just want to go to have fun with my kids and my friends.

      My therapist has also cautioned me around "bringing others into my bedroom." She means that my married life is not something that needs to be on display right now (at the same time, I will not hide how hurt I am, if others want to know). As we naturally reconnect and heal together, the message that we are healing will spread and people will adjust. Those who can handle that without weirdness, will show themselves. They don't need to know much else. I am beginning to see the wisdom of these words. Worrying about the social overlap is exhausting. Very few people know how to respond. Infidelity is so loaded for people. I am finding that others are bringing in their own values and trauma and aren't giving me the proverbial shoulder to cry/vent/rage on. Even small judgements seem to abound. It is too much to navigate. I think relying on one or two strong, good friends will be good. I really don't have anything to prove other than that I can walk with my head held high with or without my husband.

      Certainly, the public nature of this is excrutiating. It is so beyond my control at this point. I would love to hear how others navigate this.

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  8. My story is very similar to the other courageous posters on this site. I am sharing my story in hopes that I can gain a little more insight on my situation and continue on my healing journey.

    My partner and I became pregnant unexpectedly. The choice for me to continue the pregnancy was a decision I made, and my partner openly stated he was spiteful with me about me voicing my continuation of the pregnancy. He chose to stay in our lives and shifted to wanting to be a father. A few months before I delivered our beautiful little girl, I had suspicions that he was not being truthful with me in regards to a woman he trains with (he competes in triathlons). This woman never liked me from the first time I met her – she was cold, aloof and always paid too much attention to my partner in my presence. Needless to say, 3 weeks after my daughter’s birth I found out that he was spending time with her (going to lunch with her when he said he was at a client lunch; going out with her at night when he was supposedly ‘out with the boys’ celebrating our daughter’s birth) and text messaging intimately with her (often about details of our relationship and relationship issues). He would sign these messages, “XOXO” and “you are an amazing woman”. I confronted him on all fronts. He denied everything but then broke and told me he had been spending time with her and lying to me about it, but that nothing ever happened between them. He said that he didn’t do anything wrong, that I never liked her and he was just being there for her as a friend (she was going through a bad break up). Which I called BS on. I do not know if I believe him that they never slept together, but regardless he had an emotional affair with this woman. He betrayed me at a time that I was most vulnerable and was in need of his support. I had been going through a difficult time prior to our daughter’s birth as well. I was taken care of my very sick cat who had been with me 17.5 years. He passed away only three days before my daughter was born. I was devastated and I needed my partner’s love and support. He was not there for me. He left the hospital the night our daughter was born and stopped by this woman’s house. The list could continue… sadly.

    I told him she needed to be out of our lives. He promised she was. He also promised he would ever tell me if he even ran into her (since he has the potential when training). Well, 1.5 years later this woman is still reaching out to him and he is still lying to me about it. I just found out a few days ago. He sees her at the pool where he swims, and she sent him a birthday message recently. I am on my way out the door, as I cannot and should not tolerate this behaviour. I have been so angry this past year. I take responsibility for the damage my anger has done to our relationship, but he is not showing me that I can trust him or that he values me. I am trying to heal and move forward and forgive him. It is so hard though when he continues to lie. He has lied about a few other major incidents as well over the past two years, which he does not see as a problem. When he lies he tells 6 different versions of the story before he admits the truth (or what I hear as the final reason). We are in therapy. We have been for the past 1.5 years, but nothing seems to be helping this. He is a good father to our daughter. I am so confused, and angry at both him and myself. I feel like a fool for tolerating this behaviour – though I know it is his to own, not mine. I am trying to find strength for my daughter, as she is the loveliest and dearest thing to me. How do you know when enough is enough? Or maybe I know, but I don’t have the strength to act on it. I am tired, physically and emotionally.

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  9. Learned a hard lesson today. Unfortunately, I realized that someone who seemed to be giving me support, was using my vulnerability to try to meet her own emotional needs. Recovery is hard enough without also having figure out who your true friends are--the ones aren't going to stir the pot and truly have your healing at heart.
    It is amazing how easy it is for other people to use their own stuff to filter your experience. It is so hard to recognize when it is happening and even harder to find people who are truly going to give you a compassionate shoulder to vent, rage, and cry but not stir the drama and hysteria. The only person I know who would have been there, died soon after Dday #2. The only person I can trust now is my therapist. I hope others out there have solid friendships or a good therapist. This is not something you can get through on your own. But you definitely need the right people with the right personal boundaries.

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    1. MBS,
      I think that happens to many of us. We're already feeling vulnerable, we're already feeling betrayed. And infidelity triggers all sorts of stuff in other people. It's why it's such a polarizing thing – so many people have opinions about it based completely on their OWN stuff.
      The best thing anyone can do is simply listen to you...and remind you that they will support you whatever choice you make. But, yes, it can be hard to find someone emotionally healthy enough to be able to do that for you.
      They're out there. In the meantime, talk to your therapist. Post here. Write in your journal. And trust that, with time, you'll find people who can be there for you in a much healthier way.

      Elle

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  10. This was on the Healing Hearts board. I thought it is valuable for those of us who are stuck so I am reposting here:

    So how can you get out of torment and find yourself again?

    1. Gain some detachment. Stand back and view yourself as if you were the helper, not the victim.

    2. Don't indulge in emotions you cannot afford. Don't act as if youre feeling worse than you really are better. [I would add: remind yourself of where you do feel better]

    3. Make a plan for emotional recovery. Look at where you hurt, feel wounded or see yourself as victimized, then set out to heal these areas. Don't rely simply on letting time do it for you.

    4. Feel the hole inside and grieve over itbut promise yourself that you will fill it.

    5. Seek a confidant who has survived the same betrayal and has come out on the other side.

    6. Work toward a tomorrow that will be better than yesterday. Don't fixate on the past or what might have been.

    7. Counter self-pity by being of service to someone else. Counter regret by seeking out activities that build your self-esteem.

    It requires a good deal of objectivity to set about following such a program. Nothing is easier, of course, than doing the opposite, for example:

    1. Dwelling obsessively on how you were wronged. Feeling exultant in our self-righteous pain.

    2. Turning your pain into an ongoing drama.

    3. Acting erratic and scattered, with no plan for getting better.

    4. Mourning your loss forever. Not looking honestly at the hole inside yourself because it is too painful or you feel too weak.

    5. Talking to the wrong people about your woes. Seeking out those who keep agreeing with you and amplifying our resentment by egging you on.

    6. Idealizing the past. Obsessing over the good times that are gone.

    7. Letting self-pity and regret dominate your state of mind.

    This kind of behavior only makes a betrayal linger.

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  11. I apologize if it is unseemly to repost other websites on here but I find Rick Reynolds site to be a perfect compliment to this one. I love it almost as much as BWC.
    This article on who is the other woman (and why we don't have to hate her) was so healing for me: https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/affair-forgiveness-who-is-the-other-woman?utm_source=Article+of+the+Week&utm_campaign=da15537756-aotw_05_01_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ba782628b7-da15537756-312870097

    I really feel ugly when I feel the need to attack the OW. It makes the affair about her vs. me. Which the affair isn't. Understanding her as a damaged person like my H (and not the ideal woman that my H thought she was during the affair), is helping me to let go and get unstuck.

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  12. I haven't posted in a while. Things have actually been going well and I was finally able to get out of my own head and stop dwelling on what happened. I still think about "IT" everyday but the thoughts don't stay as long, I'm able to move on faster. I still can't talk about it without crying but I haven't had a meltdown in months.

    Things are different this week though. Next week is D-day plus 1 year. I've started feeling very anxious and having flashbacks to how it felt, what I read/saw. It almost feels like a year ago with the spacing out and inability to focus (but without the sobbing). It surprises me how much that date affects me because it's not the date that "IT" actually happened, just the day I found out about "IT."

    I'm not sure my husband is aware of what next week signifies although he must know it's soon because our anniversary is less than 2 weeks after D-day. It's only May 1st but I already want this month to be over.

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  13. We are in "affair season" now. The affair started this time last year, D-Day #1 was mid July and D-day #2 is Mid August, complete and final ending of affair was beginning Dec. I was good for awhile but the triggers are coming on and I am so low these days. My H is very loving but even that doesn't help. I am trying to commit to doing good things for myself and sharing the dark feelings with my therapist. But the feelings of worthlessness and shame that I had in the first few months are resurfacing. This time however, I am able to trust my H way more than I did for most of 2013, heck, for most of our marraige.
    I recognize that the next 6-7 months will be another new rollercoaster of emotions so I am bracing myself and trying to be gentle to myself. But ugh, am I tired of feeling like a crazy lady...
    I feel you EB.

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  14. Wrote on here previously, so not going to repeat myself, but I am 5 months past the final Dday of 4, I decided to try and save my marriage, and have been going well, some setbacks every now and then but surely that's to be expected, however today is a really dark day for me, I couldn't be physical with my H last night as I had pictures in my head which just would not go away, all day has been reliving the hurt of D Day, my husband has been doing everything he can, he has done everything I have asked, I can see his hurt when I am suffering, I don't want to keep reliving this nightmare I don't want to keep reliving the hurt, I question myself why am I doing this to both of us, we were going so well, I have cried most of the day, my husband has cried with me, he cannot forgive himself for what he has put me through. So why do I keep reliving this, is this normal, I so want to put this behind me, he betrayed me that hurts, but I cannot change that now either I move on with or without him, and I want to be with him we have been married 23 yrs and I do truly believe he hates himself for what he has done it was a brief affair which once it began he pretty much stopped, but he felt compelled to still keep in contact although not physically as he was frightened of the OW telling me about it, she is out of the picture totally now of that I am 100% certain, so why do I keep bringing everything back to haunt us both.

    Am I the one causing us this torture now?

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    1. You're not "causing" yourself this torture. That makes it sound as if you're doing it on purpose.
      What I suspect is happening is what happens to many of us once we begin to let our guard down. We're so afraid of being hurt again.
      Many of us experience post-trauma symptoms, which cause us to relive what happened over and over in an effort to "master" it and understand it and, therefore our brain believes, ensure that we won't be shocked by it again.
      But each time you're able to go through the pain...and your husband is able to support you through it...you emerge a bit stronger, both personally and as a couple. It's really hard but trust that this is part of the healing process. It's part of what allows you two to rebuild as a couple and ensure that your marriage isn't simply patched back together but actually stronger than it was.
      So let yourself feel this -- perhaps there was some minute trigger that you barely registered. Who knows? But just let yourself feel the pain and trust that you'll come out of it. And when you do, you'll be that much further along in your healing. Once we accept these backslides as part of the process, they lose much of their power over us.

      Elle

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    2. Thanks Elle, you are right there was a trigger, I had dday 1 days after a major event I attend for work each year, we were in the process of finalising preparations for this years event at work when I wrote my post, I hadn't realised this at the time.

      My H is so ashamed of what he has done and the hurt he has caused me and quite openly shares this with me I do see his suffering, I think I find it hard to accept that he could cheat on me out of curiosity as he had never had another partner, they slept together 4 times he then distanced himself but remained in contact via texts although they did meet but no physical activity could go ahead, and he kept up the pretence that he was interested through sexting, he admits he enjoyed the sexting it made him feel good about himself and desirable, but he says at no point did he stop loving me or want to leave me, I have read how men can compartmentalize their relationships and this is how I see this tryst with the OW, however I think he has made me realise he is capable of cheating and therein lies my fear.

      I as most other women on here never thought he would do this too me, I know I would never do this too him and this is where I feel most hurt, he knew what it would do to me, he knew he loved me, he knew he wanted to be with me and not the other women, so why take the risk for something that he claims means nothing and never did?

      Why are men so STUPID?

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    3. Why are men so STUPID? That is the million-dollar question.
      We many never understand the thought process that makes someone cheat. But be careful about insisting you'd never do such a thing. I honestly don't think any of us knows...if we had lived someone else's exact life...what we'd do.

      Elle

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  15. What is 180 principles?? Think I've read everything on here but can't find original post talking about it.

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    1. Here's an awesome outline of the 180 from the blog A Beautiful Mess:
      http://beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com/the-180/

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  16. My husband and I were childhood sweethearts and have been together for 35 years. We have no children. Two months ago he told me he was moving out because he was not happy with our marriage. I realized we were not getting along but I thought it was just a phase that we were going through. I then find out he was moving out to live with a woman he was having an affair with for several months. The pain of the shock and betrayal is unbearable. He says he is responsible for his actions but I caused the situation in which he found himself. I know I was not working on our marriage and took him for granted. He, however, did not communicate his level of unhappiness. He feels I should have know this and again, that he had no choice but to find validation as a human being with someone else. Despite all this, I still want him back. I love him and our live together before we fell into a rut. I've asked him to come back. He says he doesn't know if he wants to put the effort into our marriage or just move on. He says it has nothing to do with the OW -that this choice isn't between her or me but just the work he would need to do with me. I am going to counseling but I feel worthless and like I can't live without him. I just want the pain to end.

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    1. Okay...this line is really tripping me up: "He feels I should have known this and again, THAT HE HAD NO CHOICE but to find validation as a human being with someone else."
      Pardon? That is blame-shifting of such magnitude that is rarely seen.
      For one thing, you "should" have known? It is not your responsibility, nor has it ever been, to assure his happiness. That's HIS responsibility. Always has been. If he was unhappy, then it was up to him to tell you. If you then dismissed it, then he could have told you that he was so unhappy he was thinking of leaving the marriage. At which point, you could have said, "there's the door" or chosen to address it. He gave you neither option.
      He says you "gave him no choice"? That is absolute and utter nonsense. He made a choice that he's now blaming you for.
      I'm glad you're in counselling. I suspect that you've spent years being held responsible for his feelings, which is completely unfair and bound to make anyone feel anxious and exhausted.
      While it's important to recognize the ways in which you did contribute to the marital dissatisfaction (which it sounds as if you're doing, you do NOT need to take responsibility for his incredibly painful choice. That's on him.
      The emotions around betrayal are excruciating, as you know. But please also know that they're temporary. You will not feel this way forever. Each day/week/month that you shift the focus to you and your own healing moves you closer to the day when you're able to see clearly what happened and move forward, wiser and happier.

      Elle

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    2. Elle, you said it perfectly and much better than I ever could have. I so wanted to reply to Anonymous and scream THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT! Last year I went through almost exactly what she is going through. My marriage and life circumstances were so broken and I was so checked out that when I found out about the affair, I instantly took the blame. I took it on for months that I had forced him into the arms of another woman by not being kind and supportive and there for him. AND HE LET ME BELIEVE IT!! He had no trouble agreeing with my warped assessment of things and let me carry that around for months. I guess we were both in “the fog” at that time, but thankfully, eventually, with the help of this site and Elle’s wise advice, it finally seeped in that this was NOT my fault. I didn’t force him into the arms of his co-worker. I didn’t tell him to go and share intimate details about himself with her or spend his days at work sending stupid fantasy e-mails to her. This was all about HIM and HIS issues, what was missing in HIS life, HIS immaturity, HIS decisions, HIS escape. Then I got ANGRY that he let me believe for weeks and months that this was a situation that I had to fix. He was just sitting around in his clueless little fog letting me believe it while he made up his mind what he needed in his life. Well, enough of that. I snapped him out of that fog soon enough after that! Today it’s a different story. I don’t apologize for snooping in his email, for finding all the evidence and pretending I never saw it, for monitoring his cell phone, for finally telling the OW that there was going to be no more contact even though they both thought it was okay to “go back to being friends.” I now know what he did with another married woman was not okay and it was not my fault. They were two lonely and hurting individuals with a lot in common, who were too weak to face the real issues in their lives.

      And even though right from the start I wanted to stay together and work on getting past this, he said the same thing to me: That he wasn’t sure he wanted back in because he was scared of the work involved and afraid we’d go back to being the same as before, ie, me being mean to him (not even kidding!). That ambiguity and blame piled on even more issues for me that I still struggle with to this day. Today he’s enthusiastically onboard and all seems well in his world. It’s a lot of effort, as everyone knows, to maintain a healthy marriage. Lately though, it’s me who’s unsure of our future, of the chances of our success, and a lot of that has to do with the early blame issues and how he handled things right from the start. It was partially the fog, I guess, but for now it’s just one day at a time for me. Elle is so right that with time you will see more clearly what happened and be able to move closer to healing yourself.

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    3. Thank you very much for your reply. I do know that he had a choice to enter into an affair or not and that it is not my fault. I do blame myself, though, for not working on our marriage and for taking him for granted. If I would have done that, I do not think he would have started an affair so it's hard to get past that I could have prevented this situation. I know that both parties are responsible for working on a marriage but knowing this intellectually does nothing to dissuade the pain. He is living with her but still deciding if he wants to maybe try to work it out with me. He has been to counseling but not on a regular basis and I'm not sure how or when he will make a final decision. Probably not until the OW starts pushing for more, and she seems very patient. I know I choose to be in this state of limbo but that doesn't make the pain any more tolerable. It's so hard to envision an end to this pain and I worry every minute of every day that he will end up staying with her.

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  17. 3 years ago, on this date, May 8th, 2011, something really bad happened.

    It involved the police and could have escalated to me, my husband, or that horrible woman being really badly hurt. I guess that's what happens when you actually "catch" them together.

    But today I am OK.

    We are OK.

    (Well, my family is OK. I don't really know or care how that woman is.)

    I honestly can't believe it was an OK day today. I never thought I would forget it. I never thought I would have a "normal" May 8th ever again in my life.

    I have forgiven my husband.

    And though I've moved into a strange normalness of knowing I will never, ever forgive that woman, I really just don't think about her much anymore.

    Even on this "anniversary" type date, I am OK.

    We are OK.

    We were OK today, May 8th, 2014.

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  18. Elle -

    You mentioned somewhere in a reply to another BWC member that you had read, or been told, that women who had suffered some kind of an abusive childhood had a harder time recovering from betrayal. Timing is everything and I read those words just a few days before I saw my therapist and I think they were working their way through my mind, and the emotional abuse my mother put me through finally came out in therapy. Do you remember where you read about the connection between an abusive childhood and how that trauma makes betrayal recovery a harder road?

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    1. I read so much that I honestly don't know where (or if) I read that. It's certainly true anecdotally from what I read on this site and my own experience. People with really strong clear boundaries and a strong sense of self seem to skip a lot of the steps of healing. They rarely fall into the "what's wrong with me?" trap, they don't agonize over whether they could have stopped it.
      But for those who've finally allowed themselves to feel "safe" after childhood abuse seem more traumatized when that safety turns out to be false. It's very hard for those who've spent a lifetime not trusting themselves to begin trusting themselves and then find out they were wrong about the person they trusted. It re-triggers the trauma symptoms of fear, anxiety, etc.
      Curious what your therapist says.

      Elle

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    2. Elle -

      She says that I am taking the betrayal a lot harder because it re-traumatized me. It is the safety thing, completely. I was never safe as a child, not from physical abuse, but from constant emotional and psychological abuse. And, yet, I managed to go to college, get a professional degree, then another professional degree, and not live the life of a recluse, or a person who hurt other people, or who hurt myself further. Then, I met my husband and, as my best friend says, I took a huge risk (based upon what I knew) marrying anyone. But, I was careful, thoughtful, took my time and determined him to be a really good guy. Loving him was easy, trusting him was very, very hard.
      My therapist says that I have to "reprocess" the trauma from my childhood and get on the right side of it, again, before I can start handling the trauma of the affair. She gives me a lot of concrete ways to handle the anxiety when it comes and she tells me, again and again and again, that everything my husband did was not about me. His actions were about him. I know this in my head, but it doesn't feel like it in my heart.
      She also tries to remind me that the affair happened, but it is not my present reality. Again, she has given me concrete ways to try to just "be" in this moment. Sometimes it works, too many times it still doesn't. She is also trying to work through my sense of blame that I was somehow at fault for the abuse. It's all tied up together and totally f$^$#*'ed up.
      Thank you for always being here for all of us.

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    3. That's really interesting. It sounds as if you've got a really good therapist.
      I, too, rebuilt my life -- university, job I love, etc. -- and I thought I'd managed to "escape" my past. I was so busy congratulating myself for not marrying an alcoholic that I overlooked the other signs of addiction. Like you, I thought my husband was a "really good guy".
      I still think that. But the really good guy that I picked had some really deep issues that he'd become incredibly adept at hiding. They existed whether I was in the picture or not. I couldn't save him...but nor did I cause the problems.
      Focussing on the present is a really effective way to pull yourself back when you feel like you're spiralling down into that victim/scared/out-of-control place. It takes time to learn new coping strategies. But it will become habit, even if you slip up now and again.

      Elle

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  19. Its 17 days since my world fell apart and I discovered that my husband had been cheating on me for 3 1/2 years. We have been together for 14 years. Everyone thought that we had the most amazing relationship. There was so much electricity between us. People openly told us that they were so jealous of us. We had it all...Then, about 5 mths ago, he suddenly stopped being romantic and affectionate. The past 18 mths or so have been very stressful with us both having accidents and him having serious work issues which I supported him through. He told me that he had developed impotency. Every time that I bought it up, he just said to get off his back about it...that it wasn't helping...just to give him some time. I honestly believed that there was a medical problem and tried to be supportive. As it turns out, the affair was in full swing, and he was actually being loyal to HER. I found out by going through the phone records and ringing her. She was just as oblivious to the situation as me. He told her that he loved her and she was the love of his life....all the same things that he has said to me right up till the day he was caught. I want to hate her, but she is a victim here too. To her credit, she confronted him and ended it straight away(Or so they have told me) I have kicked him out. I struggle to get out of bed each day. My whole world has collapsed and I don't want to live. He just says the he broke it and is not fixable. He says he doesn't know why he did it. I look at videos of all the amazing things that we shared. We were so happy. Who is this person? I cannot believe that the one person in the world who I shared my heart and soul with would be capable of inflicting so much pain.

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    1. Annie,
      I'm so sorry for the pain you're in. And I know that feeling of just wanting to pull the covers over your head and sleep forever.
      Please know, though, that the pain will dissipate. You're in shock and likely experiencing trauma. This is a huge betrayal and challenges your reality.
      I would urge you to seek counselling to help you through. You need someone to help you process the grief and the pain and remind you regularly that many women have survived this and gone on to be happy. Today is not your life. It's a horrible chapter in your life...but not the whole story.
      He's clearly got some serious issues and his comment that he's "not fixable" is telling. I believe anyone with the commitment to do so can "fix" himself...but without that commitment, it just ain't gonna happen.
      But you can overcome with. Focus on yourself, get yourself some healing help and trust that the thousands of women who come to this site and who have healed are no different from you.

      Elle

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    2. Thank you Elle. I am so lucky to have so many beautiful friends who are helping me through this. I am truly humbled. Their support at this time is all that is getting me through. Its so hard to even exist. Sometimes I struggle just to breathe. Life as I knew it is over and its so hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Betrayal changes you forever especially when it comes from the one person in the world who isn't supposed to hurt you. I actually don't know who I am anymore, but I am so grateful for the support and love that everyone is giving me.

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    3. Annie,
      You are Annie. You are the person you've always been -- your body is responding to betrayal as trauma, with that sort of dazed, what-the-hell-just-happened feeling. And the pain is excruciating. So many of us just wanted to curl into balls and make the world go away. Do that, if necessary. Stay in bed with the covers pulled up. Cry and cry and cry. But know -- ALWAYS know -- that the day will come when the light returns. It always, always does. So trust that. Trust that this is a horrible chapter of pain in your life. But it's not your whole life.

      Elle

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  20. I'm now 9 months post d day & in general feeling much better. When I think abt the affair I don't cry any more. But now I notice very time my hubby & I have an argument it's a trigger, no matter what the topic is. I think it's because at the time of the affair in 2011 it seems that all we did was argue. We were definitely in that phase of our marriage. And that began before the affair.

    Now that the affair has come out & we have been working thru it together I feel our marriage is much better. One of the books I read listed 3 stages of marriage:
    1-romantic just married u idealize each other & ur partner can do no wrong
    2- u annoy each other to no end, blame each other for everything. This is when most affairs occur. Many marriages are stuck here permanently or go from here to divorce.
    3- u have achieved mature love where u know each other's faults & respect each other & love each other anyway. U truly are partners. Many marriages that survive infidelity make it here.

    My question is this:
    I know of the intimate details of 3 other marriages in addition to my own. 1 had infidelity which ended in divorce. 1 couple is stuck at stage 2 where the spouses simply coexist & lead completely separate lives. The other 1 & mine experienced infidelity & seem to have moved out of stage 2 hopefully in the way to stage 3. Peggy Vaughn sounds like her marriage was in stage 3 after working thru the infidelities.

    Does anyone ever make it to stage 3 without infidelity (or perhaps some other awful catastrophic trauma)? Has anyone ever studied this?

    Sam

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    1. Sam, I think some couples get to stage 3 quite quickly...but they're generally the ones with gloriously healthy childhoods, no residual issues, no addictions, etc. In other words, they're rare.
      The rest of us can get there the long way. By screwing up and taking responsibility for it and learning from it, but nonetheless seeing something of value in each other that's worth saving. It takes two, though. One person, no matter how loving and dedicating, can't "save" another. We see it all the times in marriages where there's addiction -- whether alcohol, food, sex, drugs, gambling. The healthiest thing for the one partner is to stop participating in the dance.
      But to get to stage 3, I think it takes such commitment and radical honesty. With ourselves and our spouses. But so worth it.

      Elle

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  21. I am posting on here in hopes of gaining some support and insight into my situation. First I would like to say that I am amazed by the strength and courage that the women posting on here exhibit. The battles we are all going through are tough.

    I am feeling so lost right now. It's been 17 months since I found out about the emotional affair. I have, in some respects, been able to move forward, but not without holding on to a lot of resentment and anger. We are in counseling, but he still will not talk about it outside of counseling without getting angry at me! He blames it on me and says that he didn't do anything wrong. Even though he lied to me about spending time with this woman and wrote her intimate text messages...but he did nothing wrong. He continues to lie - about both being in contact with her and about other things (finances, where he goes with his friends, etc.). I am trying to so hard to move past what happened, for the sake of our child. But I am wondering how I can if he cannot see what he is doing is affecting us. It's almost as if he is a pathological lier and only does whatever he wants to without regard to me or our daughter. I would like to know if anyone else has had a hard time healing and moving forward because their partner will not accept responsibility? I get that the state of our relationship may have pushed him towards this other woman, but that does not justify his lying. I am trying to address what was happening between us at that point in time, but I feel as though I am doing it alone. Any advice on how to help him understand my view? I cannot bring it up to him without him becoming defensive. Counseling helps during the session, but it doesn't help at home.

    I am so sad and lost. I feel that our relationship cannot be salvaged and I should probably take steps to move out with my daughter. How do I move forward?

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    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry for your pain. I think you know what you should know...you just don't want to do it. And I understand that. I understand how easy it seems to just stay a little bit longer, maybe he'll "get it", maybe things will change. But he's showing you who he is. Someone who is blaming you for his actions. Someone who isn't being honest with you. Someone who isn't accountable for himself. That's not someone it's even possible to have a healthy relationship with.
      You said, in your last line, that you should "probably" take steps to move out. That "probably" is standing the way of you moving forward into a healthier life. He'll either realize just what he stands to lose...or he'll continue to blame other people for his issues. Either way, you win.

      Elle

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    2. Dear Elle,

      Thank you for your comments. I do know what I need to do, it's just been hard to take those first steps. I feel like there is so much at stake with our daughter. He is a very controlling person who is very focused on being on top and earning lots of money. The fact that I would want to move out with our daughter and he would have to pay child support would cause him to fight me hard over custody. That scares me as I don't think he is fit to be even a 50% parent to her with all of his lies. Even though he doesn't do anything day to day with her, besides the occasional walk, he would fight me just because he would want to 'win'. Sad. Maybe that wouldn't be the case, but that is what I feel he would do based on his previous actions.

      I was hoping, I guess, that he would follow through when he says he wants us to be in a better place. After the betrayal (which took him until just recently to even admit it was a betrayal, he always said he was just dishonest with me), I gave him specific things I needed to move forward. Things such as no more lying, no communication of any sorts with the OW, come to me about the lying and talk with me about what he is doing to work on it, and share finances and decisions with me. He has not done any of these things. I have been carrying around so much anger and resentment, which only keeps building with every new lie I undercover or promise broken. I know I am not nice to him right now. I am closed off, angry, hurt. He said for him to do those things for me, I need to be happy around him and be affectionate. How am I to do that when he constantly lies and breaks my heart? I think part of me was thinking that if only I could open up to him, then it would all be better... Has anyone else been stuck in this vicious anger cycle after a betrayal? How is it broken? I need it to be broken, for the sake of our daughter. I still want to be good co-parents to her. Thank you for listening.

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    3. I completely understand your hesitation to separate given how you expect it to play out. But staying in this stalemate will strangle you. Either he steps up to rebuild your marriage (and you've laid out very reasonable and necessary expectations) or you don't have much choice but to leave for your own emotional health and that of your daughter.
      However, I applaud your desire to have a healthy co-parenting relationship.
      Your anger comes, I suspect, from swallowing a lot of your frustration and hurt and fear. You cannot control him and he's refusing to acknowledge your needs. He sounds very controlling -- even to the point of insisting on what words to use to describe what he did. It's how you perceive what he did that's the issue here. He should be honouring your experience and supporting your healing...and he's dickering with you over what word to use to describe it. Give me a break.
      He wants nice? He's lucky you're being civil. He has lied to you, betrayed your trust and shown little concern about your pain. I suspect this emotional betrayal is simply a nail in the coffin.
      Affairs don't need to be the death knell. But to survive betrayal of any kind, the betrayer needs to show the betrayed a genuine remorse and express a sincere desire to acknowledge what he did and learn from it. Without that, you're locked in a battle with no winners.
      I would urge him to seek counselling if only to break that stalemate. Our own counsellor told my husband and me that she couldn't guarantee that she could save our marriage -- that was up to us -- but that she could help us negotiate a relationship to ensure we always made the best decision for our children. That's ultimately what you're after.
      Accept the anger as a signal that you've got feelings that need expressing. Whether he can hear them isn't the issue. Find someone (even a journal) where you can let it out. And then take steps to have your needs met. One you're able to treat yourself with respect, I suspect some of the anger will dissipate.

      Elle

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    4. Dear Elle,

      Thank you once again for your insight and comments. It is with a very heavy heart that I am writing to say that I ended our relationship yesterday. I was still the tiniest bit hopeful that he would want to show up and change. But, I learned yesterday that he has been sleeping with another woman for the past few months. I am beyond hurt. This is the second time (that I know of) that this has occurred. I found out because I was trusting my instinct that something was off. I hate doing it, but I checked his work phone. For some reason the text message section was not locked (all his other phones are locked). I found very explicit messages from another woman. It is actually a co-worker of his. One who has a son that is a few months younger than my daughter - and she is married. Luckily we had a counseling appt yesterday morning so I was able to hold off confronting him until then. I basically told him I was done and that I was moving out with our daughter. I told him he needed to find a place to stay until I could move out. He left yesterday. I am so hurt and sad and confused. How could someone tell you they love you and are wanting to make it work, but lie and cheat like they do? I don't understand it because I would never hurt someone the way he has hurt me.
      He says he wants to see his daughter as much as possible. I am now going to have to deal with how we works custody, etc. It is so painful. My heart goes out to all the women on here who has been through the same. I want to believe that someday I will meet someone who will love me and treat me the way I deserve. Right now that is a very distant thought. I am trying to hold it together for my daughter right now. She is my love.

      Thanks for the support.

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    5. I'm so sorry for all the pain you're in. Please trust that this isn't where you'll stay. You will heal from this...and your life will be the better for it.
      I hope you'll continue in therapy on your own. You need a safe place to work through your grief and anger.
      I hope you'll also get a lawyer who can help you negotiate reasonable arrangements re. custody. It will be difficult in the short term, certainly, but I'm amazed at how quickly these arrangements simply become "normal". And kids, as long as they can trust they're loved by both parents (who are able to treat each other with respect, if not affection), are resilient.
      As for "some day" -- I've no doubt you will find someone who deserves you. For now, though, work on becoming someone who will recognize that person when you meet him.

      Elle

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  22. I was married for 7 years and had a not so good husband, he cheated on me in the begining and I lost respect for him and all he was to me. But I stayed with him and continued. Unhappy as I was because he was addicited to secret porn, and did that instead of learning how to be intimate with me, I then cheated on him. I did it with three different guys. I then was honest and confessed this and he wanted to be with me still, but he didn't want to change enough for us to really work. The last guy I cheated on him with I went to and divorced my stale husband. We both broke off and were mutually agreeable and both happy about it. My new boyfirned I thought was the real love of my life, charming as hell, and super crafty and talented. His charm got me. It gets everyone he meets. People like him and think he is really amazing but they don't know his dark side, neither did I. I guess it should of been a hint him being with me when I was married ( I hadn't slept with my husband he lived in china for the last 8 months before I cheated). This boyfriend was there to talk me thou my divorce and let me know how bad off I was. True that I was living a fake happiness with my husband but it just got worse. This boyfriend had a girlfriend when he met me. He had an affair for over a year and a half without me knowing. He was always deleting his phone messages making excuses for it. He crushed 4 phones and 2 pads when I went to look at them to hide me get forensic on him. I didn't know that he had another though, I though he had anger issues. He was then as well looking at older woman/ mixed, and anal porn while I am and let hiim know early on of my purity and spirituality and how I didnt want this in my life at all. He claimed to be innocent of those things in his adult life. Again he still was deleting all phone and never kept internet history. I found out of then small lies. Found him looking at porn and I grabbed the phone and saw granny-porn on it. Then I found that a friend of his he claimed to disconnect with was sending him porn and naked pictures. He wanted to still be a friend to this guy even though he was a sick man and hurting our relationship. On top of this all, I got pregnant when I was just seeing him angry, and his smooth charming makup flowers, chocolate etc would keep me. About one month after I found out i was pregnant I found out about he cheating. He promissed to stop talking with her but did behind my back so she would not be mad and deport him. So he kept it up for another 3 weeks secretly just talking with her to sooth her. My baby is 3 months old, I live in a city where we moved in together to get away from the past, I live where I don't know anyone, no family here. I moved away from my support group to give us a clean start with the baby. He told me he rather lie then be honest and have to deal with me upset. And he does. I don't believe a word he says. His 65 year old father came out to visit and is here right now. for the last 3 weeks and prior too, he has been doing suicidal threats. So to make me stay and sympathize with him. I do stay but I am stuck. If I piss him off he could go kill himself, and if I stay I hurt me and the baby. I don't want my child around him even. Hes soooo charming still and can make you believe hes a great guy, but when at home he will call me names and yell in front of the baby. And if I get mad even in front of the baby he threatens his life...

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  23. continued....
    last night he picked up a knife like he was going to cut himself in front of me and sleeping babe. What do I do? Should I leave the country? My parents are not a great support to me and are distant jugemental and not really friends. I have closer family on the east coast I could go live with but I would be misserable being there. I feel like I want to go to england or sweden and start a new life with my baby. I would leave the guy and he would prob kill himself. That is not a solution though. If I marry him so he gets his greencard and hes happy then maybe I can leave him and hes free to do what he wants to perhaps he would not kill himself then, and in 2 years we could divorce...

    What should I do?

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    1. A person who threatens suicide is a danger to you and your child. This is not a safe relationship and a terrible way to raise your baby. Run. Go to a shelter. Get counselling to find out why you are with an abusive and psychologically ill man.

      Delete
    2. This man is incredibly sick and you are not qualified nor capable of saving him. Only he can do that. He's manipulating you to keep you in a toxic relationship.
      You are responsible for the health and safety of yourself and your baby. Please get help to leave this man. You are in a dangerous relationship and are highly co-dependent. Please find yourself a therapist who can help you see this situation clearly and develop a plan to move forward in the best possible way for you, rather than simply running away. Create a plan where you are moving toward a better future. In the meantime, avoid relationships until you can identify why you keep choosing unhealthy men.
      You are better than this. Your child deserves better than this. Better is out there...

      Elle

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  24. I haven't been on here in a while. I think I am finally moving on and letting go, which is a great feeling. Thought I'd write and say hi because today XH came to visit and told me he and his mistress are getting married next month. I'm actually really ok with it which is surprising (maybe I'm in shock and it will hit me in a day or 2!).
    I certainly wasn't surprised by the news. The whole affair/break up saga felt like such a cliche from the beginning that I suspected all along this was coming.

    In fact, it kind of validates for me that this is not about me. This was never about me not being good enough, or our relationship not being good enough. This was always about him, his problems, and how he solves them. The fact that he is marrying someone that he has known for less than a year, even though they have never spent more than a few days at a time together (she lives on the other side of the country so he visits her each weekend) says an awful lot about his head space at the moment. I'm relieved to not be a part of it.

    Anyway, this community has been such support for me throughout the past year, I didn't think it was right to not share the latest in the continuing saga :) Thank you all for helping me reach a point where I can truly say I'm not bothered (too much!!) that he is moving on.

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    1. Anonymous,
      Yay! It sounds as if you really are moving on and able to recognize just what a dead weight you've left behind.
      It's possible the "news" might hit you in a while (sometimes disguised by an over-reaction to something else) but that's okay. The idea isn't to not feel anything (or to just feel relief), it's to recognize that even though you can mourn the loss of what you thought you had, you can also let it go and trust that you're where you should be.
      So no matter how this plays out, you sound well-balanced to handle it and continue to move forward.
      Thanks so much for sharing that with us. It really does help others who are trying to figure out how to navigate this to hear from others who are coming out the other side. It's your stories that light the way.

      Elle

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  25. Just when I thought things were getting better.

    18 months DDay. Therapy, done and tick box. Couples counselling, done and tick box. Husband doing everything he can, tick box.

    Why oh why do I have this terrifying anger that builds up inside me. Anger beyond belief when I think back to what he did and how he hurt our children. I can keep a lid on it but then its just like bile erupting from me. I've tried when I feel the signs coming on to mention it so it doesn't overtake me, but all he can ever say is " Sorry and you know everything"

    I literally feel myself shaking and going through the trauma again. I verbally lash out and even think myself, where the hell did that come from.

    I've never been able to get over the fact that she was such a low life, I mean, we know that anyone that can actively get involved with a married man is low life, but she is such a repulsive human being to look at without even knowing her private life, the type of woman that people sneer or laugh at.

    Help!

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    1. Ask yourself -- would it make you feel any differently if she was a beauty queen with an enviable life?
      Anyone can make shitty choices. Those of us who are desperate for validation from someone -- anyone else -- are vulnerable to making the shittiest of choices.
      Your anger is a signal that at least some of your grief hasn't yet been processed. A lot of us experience post-trauma symptoms and there's increasing support for a sort of post-infidelity stress disorder. The trembling, the anger, the mental transport right back to where we were. It's important to allow yourself to experience the loss and the hurt and the grief, even if your husband is a model reformed cheater. Sometimes we think we can't express that deep pain because it makes him feel bad. Or we want to be over it. Or we're afraid that, if we don't get over it quickly enough, he'll give up. Thing is, we heal on a different timetable than most of us would like. It takes a long time. There's a ton to process. Betrayal triggers many of our deepest, most primal wounds and fears. Of abandonment. Of isolation. Of being left out or not chosen.
      Trust that your anger isn't a bad thing but rather an indication that there's something there that needs your attention.

      Elle

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  26. So my head knows the affairs were not about me; my husband has toke me his reasons & has said there was nothing I could have done differently that would have prevented this from happening. But my heart is another thing entirely.

    With the first physical affair I found out about I told myself I'm smarter, prettier, etc.

    But the lastest one I discovered which was actually the first one chronologically was with a woman prettier than me. She's a runner so I'm sure she had a great body & looked great naked. (I've always been a pear shape with a tummy too, even when I was only 103 lbs prepregnancy).

    And from everything I've read the sex esp the first time is great, fueled by newness & secrecy. So how am I supposed to get over this one?

    Sam

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  27. Sam - urgh, it's so horrible. However these silly women look it's horrible. And this is new again for you. I tell myself something Elle says - 'What she's got, you don't want.' Was she really prettier? She certainly wasn't on the inside. And behaviour inevitably transforms the outer packaging, unless you have a portrait in the attic like Dorian Gray. But I bet she wasn't that great. I bet you are far lovelier. And it wasn't about her, anyway.

    It's very painful when you're feeling so close - to be angry and hurt and compassionate too. But he has shown you what he's like, and he has to demonstrate that he can make a radical change. I think you need to protect yourself, Sam.

    I am sad and angry for you, I was thinking this while I was running just now (and I'm not a runner, more of a fast stroller). I'm sad that you've had to shoulder another blow. You don't deserve it. Wrap yourself in compassion, as if you were your own child. xx




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    1. I'd like to link to an image, a sculpture I saw a few weeks ago and thought - this is me, this is how I feel. It's Rodin's Fallen Caryatid carrying her stone: http://www.rodin-art.com/img/a9.jpg

      The description I found online contains a quote about the sculpture by Rainer Maria Rilke: "It bears, as in a dream one bears the impossible and finds no deliverance," The text continues: 'For Rodin, the building that the Fallen Caryatid is supposed to support has collapsed, yet the women, half-crushed, must still bear the weight of the stone.'

      I'm not carrying it everyday, but even with a remorseful and ashamed husband its weight hasn't left me. It is sometimes a choice, but sometimes not.

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    2. Iris,
      Remind me when your D-Day is. And thanks for that link to the sculpture. Love Rodin. And Rilke. And the women here.

      Elle

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    3. D-Day was sometime in March 2013, about the 20th I think though I can't remember because things had been odd for a few weeks before. My husband told me, I had no idea what he'd been doing. None. I think he had little idea either. He had compartmentalised it so completely that it was only when he stopped that he realised how his actions were going to collide with his real life. And he is a very clever man. Apparently.

      Delete
    4. Yeah, so is mine. Apparently. :)
      I ask because of your comment re. the weight of bearing this. It takes a stupidly long time to move past. A year and a bit isn't so long, though it sure as hell feels long when you're going through it.
      In my experience, the day came when I was able to look at what happened no longer as THE defining experience but rather part of my life. The weight, in other words, lifted.

      Elle

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    5. that's what I want. Thank you for reminding me.

      Delete
  28. I am 6 months out for DDay. My husband and I have been in MC and he has been an active participant in trying to heal our marriage after the devastation. He has said multiple times "I'm sorry I did this to you" but I guess I am feeling really stuck because it feels like such a blanket. Like the apology covers everything from the lying and the deceit to the sex and the disrespect and devastation. I am feeling like I need to hear him specifically apologize for the hurts instead of the overall general apology. I feel like a specific one would acknowledge that he recognizes the affair contained many hurtful pieces beyond sex. I also feel like if I say this to him, he will willingly comply and apologize for each and every one but that I will feel like it is less than meaningful (whether he truly means it or not) because I had to prompt him to do it. I feel like I have a conceptual idea of forgiveness and that my head realizes that I will need to forgive for me and that it frees me of the weight (my heart is still processing) and I know I will need to forgive if this marriage will ever work but I want him to ask to be forgiven. If the roles were reversed and I had been the cheater and was going to "do anything and everything to make this up to you" then I would think that asking for forgiveness would be part of that equation. I don't know if he just hasn't thought to do that or if it is an indication of something else. In my mind I understand that he doesn't need to ask for forgiveness in order for me to give it and that I should forgive to release myself but I am just stuck. I think he apologizes with a giant blanket statement because he is ashamed of his actions and does not want to specifically list them and while I realize the difficult of that I also feel angry because I have had to deal with a lot of difficult things feelings because of those actions (my self esteem is in the toilet, my world came to a grinding halt, I am devastated and I think of hurting myself but don't because I have sweet and precious children who I want to live a life with). It makes me angry because his choices have caused a ton of pain and yet- heaven forbid- he do something difficult like acknowledge all those choices and the pain they caused. I just feel so stuck and I imagine being able to take a big step forward if the specific apology came (unprompted) but I am not holding my breath because he doesn't bring up the affair because he is past it.

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    1. I think the idea of "forgiveness" can trip a lot of us up, including me. Many of us have a very specific idea of what it is...and it can feel, if we're asking for it, as if we're bowing to authority and if we're giving it as if we have authority. Neither is the case.
      I would suggest that perhaps you take "forgiveness" off the table right now until it feels less loaded for each of you. Can you talk to him about how this isn't one big thing to you? About how it's an accumulating number of transgressions -- each of which causes pain? I suspect he knows this but feels overwhelmed about how to respond.
      See if you can get really clear on what you need -- and then let him know. One final word of caution: see if what you need is about somehow punishing him for what he did. It's absolutely valid to ask someone to take full responsibility for every action they took that was damaging to your marriage. But it can be really tempting to want to, sorta kinda, humiliate them for it. And shame is never a good strategy. For any of us. And yet shame plays a huge role in infidelity, on both sides.
      You have every right to be angry with him for what he did. But, ultimately, you want a partner who's an equal to you.
      And finally, sometimes "stuck" is just what happens. And then, just as suddenly, we're unstuck and able to move forward. Honor your feelings but trust that none of them will last forever. Not the anger, not the pain, not the humiliation. Work through them. You'll get there.

      Elle

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  29. Last night when my husband & I were talking, he did say I'm prettier, smarter & nicer. Along the lines of I don't want what she's got, when I asked him how so, he answered "you wouldn't have done what she did ( the first woman he had a physical affair with was married with 3 kids, as was the second who was married with 1).

    Ur right, we are better people, which is why we keep reading & writing on this site over & over again how could I mother do this to her own family & to someone else's.

    But I know their motivations-- they wanted my husband. Instead of working on their own unhappy marriages they tried to steal someone else's. That I could never do.

    Sam

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    1. and you are the better for it. x

      You could say - instead of working on their own unhappiness they went after an image of what it would be like to have your husband.

      You couldn't do it, I couldn't do it - the thought of hurting another woman in this way is insupportable. When you've had children, doubly so. They write us off, they dehumanise us. There's no pretty way of describing it. I like that your husband realises this, but however much he dislikes the individual women now, especially compared to the lovely reality of you, what does his former behaviour say about his view of women generally? There's an ethical dimension to this which bears discussion, especially with a generation and type of man who consider themselves enlightened and free of sexism. I tell my husband that although he should understand I'd like his former OW to choke on her own vomit, I have to point out that he seemed surprisingly naive about 'strings free sex' and female psychology. I don't think he should have got involved for her sake either, since he had nothing to offer her, and although she was old enough, intelligent enough and divorced enough to know better, and certainly managed to behave like a prize idiot through her very own agency, it doesn't justify his actions.

      When you're a real grown-up you realise 'you can't have all the girls'. A man who respects women doesn't treat them like conquests or 'adventures'. He doesn't cheat on the woman he loves in order to do so. And women who respect other women (and themselves) don't sneak around behind another woman's back. It's all about respect. What you have, Sam, is basic human decency and self-respect, and it's worth celebrating.

      Delete
  30. Our therapist has wisely cautioned me to not to compare myself with the OW as much as I want my H to say "you are better and here is why." Trying to constantly keep score about who is better is not the point. Of course the OW shows she lacks integrity and self respect and has a host of other troubling traits. But constantly trying to see faults will always be fruitless because we can't truly believe that the OW is truly all evil and horrible. No one is. And trying to paint her as evil whore, forces us to try to paint ourselves as saints which doesn't allow us to admit and forgive ourselves for our own shortcomings.
    So we will beat ourselves up everytime we find out that she might have been skinnier, freely gave him BJs, or smelled like roses. The other woman had good qualities, some of them are real. In my case, she could play the violin. She was skinnier than me. She was nice to people. She has friends and cute kids. But what she is really like or what she has or doesn't have, isn't the point.
    My husband didn't see the real woman. What my husband saw was a projection, a fantasy. He temporarily chose the fantasy because he was emotionally off the rails--desperate and in pain over his life and needed escape. Choosing something from place of neediness and desperation is not a real choice. No selfrespecting woman should take a man in that state because he doesn't see her for who she is, but who he needs her to be. What my husband saw in her was a projection, a self created illusion and illusions don't last.
    So the comparison shouldn't be between who is really better. The true comparison is between our real awesome true selves vs. a fictional character. Why bother comparing ourselves to a fictional character? She doesn't exist.
    I know that my husband chose me for 17 years and lived a real, albeit fraught, life with me before she came along. He loved and desired me for that long and got to know the real me. He knows that I am his best friend and I am capable of loving and living with passion. He has also chosen to be with me with my faults and all.

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    1. I've been omnipresent on Elle's blog the last couple of days, I hope she doesn't mind me making one last comment (for now at least). I don't want to fault the above or cause her more pain, so I hope she'll forgive me if I don't entirely agree with her therapist. And go off at a tangent.

      The mental gymnastics we have to employ to survive this trauma and stay with someone who was capable of inflicting this on us (not that it was about us) are painful to execute. And to watch. To be gracious women we must view the OW/S through a special lens, as if she's a chimera, and then re-endow her with human qualities to make her our equal and fully human. We must do this when in reality she viewed us as unworthy of attention. She didn't care which musical instrument we play. She was careless of our children, who were but the collateral damage of her erotic fantasy, in which she was the star. She was happy to walk in our house (metaphorically) and take our stuff, even if it has never occurred to her to fill her trolley at Tesco and just walk out. Of course we do not own our husbands, perhaps they're simply on loan, but even so it would be nice to be asked if we minded sharing.

      It is fair to suggest that actions like this cancel out the nice and render a person 'untrustworthy'. I'm sure she has friends, but I bet she has fewer than she had if they know what she's been doing.

      Even Pema Chödrön (the wonderful, kind, humorous Buddhist nun) would suggest that it might take a while to extend unconditional kindliness to someone who has caused you possibly the most pain in your life, but who has never consulted you or offered a sincere apology or demonstrated by their actions that they understand how badly they've behaved. 'Start with the easy ones first,' she might say, 'And work up,'

      We are traumatised. We need compassion for ourselves, for others in our situation (the women here) for our loved one who has hurt us (harder) before we work up to giving a stuff about the equality of a woman we may not even know who had basically been an ar*ehole. Notice I use a non-gendered name, which sits with me better than 'whore'. And for some reason I don't understand I always hear it in the voice of the toddler from 'Meet the Fockers'. Say it with me, ladies.

      Hating someone is hard work, it generally fades unless they are in your face every day. Most of us don't want to hate anyone. We have better things to do. But I would not want any woman here to feel worse for waking up one morning, after a month of acting like Mother Teresa marinaded in the milk of human kindness, with the desire to rip off the OW's head and shove it up her fundamental human rights.

      Anyway, after a disaster like this WE get to choose our equally ar*ehole husbands, not the other way around. Affairs are a mess and often barely conscious in any rational sense, unless people have got very good at them, in which case there is not really any room in the equation for a faithful spouse.


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    2. Anon and Iris,
      I think you're both saying essentially the same thing, though, Iris, you're certainly advocating for us being able to indulge our inner mean girl occasionally.
      I think Anon's therapist is right in getting her to shift focus from what the OW has that makes her seem "better" and recognize that she's just another woman, with good bits and bad bits. But I agree with Iris, too, in that feeling obliged to take the high road and acknowledge these women as contributing members of society minimizes the incredible damage that many of them, knowingly and willingly, help create.
      I think it depends how far along the healing trajectory we are. At the beginning, it can feel somewhat empowering to hate the OW -- to make her the object of our rage. But we can't stay there or it will consume us. But swinging all the way to Mother Theresa can make us feel fraudulent.
      A final plea to Iris: Please don't let this be your last comment. I LOVE your comments and am perilously close to handing over the reins of this site to your capable and compassionate heart and mind. Please continue to make us laugh, nod in recognition, and bask in your wisdom.

      Elle

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    3. you're very kind, and I wouldn't be as sane (!) if I hadn't been able to read your blog.

      I just think we need to feel ok about perfectly normal emotions, the reaction to these events is visceral and can seem overwhelming. Some of us have literally never felt such rage; working out how to palliate that fury without letting it sink into depression is difficult. Perhaps there could be a helpline for us to shout expletives (from our padded cell) with someone on the other end saying - 'Honey, I know how you feel. I've felt the same way myself. Listen, if I could I'd help you do that thing you just suggested, but it's illegal everywhere outside the thirteenth century. Maybe we could just buy some shoes instead? I bet HER shoes are like the glass slipper on an Ugly Sister,'

      I have a neighbour here whose husband cheated with a friend and I'd only seen her be angry with him, so I thought I was probably failing in some way having such a raging mean girl in my belly when I'd never met my OW and didn't even know she existed until after it ended, although maybe that was why. My neighbour told me later she fantasised daily about driving to the ex-friend/OW's house and strangling her with her bare hands. It made me feel a lot better. And I was the nice girl at school.

      I think it's normal to want to know you're a better person than the OW (in this business there's no contest) and that you do not realistically have a rival. I cannot be bothered to compete for a man when I'm fairly sure I could find another (eventually, if I could be persuaded) who would think he was lucky to have me. I'd like it if we all felt strong in ourselves, in our basic kindness, even when we're in pain and don't know what we should do.

      Anyway - thank you for the blog xx

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    4. Hi Iris,
      Its MBS- I was the anon-sometimes I am not logged in. For the record, I don't expect that my words and experience are universal to others's experiences and I don't hold on to them too tightly, anyway. Also, I love your posts and I love engaging in these discussions so don't go anywhere because then I will have to go too because I am probably here more than you.

      I totally agree with you. I generally try to stay with whoever I am from moment to moment--Buddhist nun or Avenging Angel. In fact, I also felt some vindication when the OWs child was run over by a truck, as it was proof that she is stupid, careless, self absorbed and irresponsible (she is well-known for unsupervising her wayward toddler on the street)--if that isn't vicious and hateful, what is? But I don't feel too guilty about thinking it. I also still fantasize about punching her in the face if I see her--now likely wheeling her child around in a wheelchair. Again, no guilt.
      In fact, the OW, in my case, comes off as sweet and innocent to outsiders, though her behavior with my H certainly reveals the self absorbed, child she really is to many people--she would likely make a better Mother Theresa.
      I think I want try catch myself when I am dwelling on who she--good or bad-- because it invites such self judgement. And then I just keep inflicting more wounds to my already battered self esteem. I really just want my H to continue recognizing what a train wreck she is, which he is. I don't need to do it for him, though sometimes I can't help myself. So whatever qualities she had, I try to remind myself that I am an awesome woman. And my awesomeness is loved by a man who is on his way to emotional health, rather than a desperate and lost soul.
      Also, I when I think about her total shittyness, I am reminded that my H was just as shitty--he was the OM (though she was in an "open" relationship). I took him back because I knew that wasn't the real him and that he was capable of being a far better than the person he was acting like. Unlike him, I doubt if she has the capacity to be a better person than the one her history of cheating reveals. Yet, I can't throw my whole load of bile at her because I would have to hate him with far more vehemence than I do.

      So my point was/is that we need to strive to believe we are incredible and loveable on our own, not in comparison to anyone else. It is very hard.

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    5. Hi MBS! xx

      What I love about Pema Chödrön is her ability to describe those less nice feelings she has about others, 'I really hate Mary, especially when something really good happens to her,' (it always seems to be Mary - poor Mary) and then she laughs at her own folly because she is supposed to be above all that pettiness, and none of us are. In our case it does us good to feel compassion for even our lowest impulses. My friend is the last person to strangle anyone with her bare hands and the urge to fantasise about doing so faded away with time. She might not have told me while it was happening. But when she did, because it was in the past and because it was difficult to see how she could have done such a thing, in fact the idea was comical, the absurdity (and the humanity) made us laugh. Laughing diffused my own anger.

      Of course it would not be funny if someone had got hurt, and everyone has heard terrible stories. We know these are serious wounds which have been the stuff of literature since there was literature, but the response still shocks us.

      Don't you find different things matter at different stages of this process? They pass, and sometimes they return. One day I'm sure you will feel compassion when you think about this awful event in your OW's life. This will just happen, because it's difficult to keep up that kind of energetic dislike. And you will have moved on. I'd lay odds that you don't feel so guilty now because you know these impulses are temporary. You never have to like the woman.

      It must be different when you know someone, all I have is a vague idea and access to her various papers in a subject in which I have no interest. This is really punching at ghosts. It's what my husband thinks of her that matters, and he doesn't think about her at all unless I ask him to. She has disappeared. What I'm left with is what this whole crisis says about him.

      'Yet, I can't throw my whole load of bile at her because I would have to hate him with far more vehemence than I do.' Well, you're not throwing anything at her, she's oblivious. Nor does there have to be fairness in where you throw the hate for something so intrinsically unfair. Plus you really can feel rage and use it to do something productive. Or kick boxing would do.

      There's a Dorothy Parker short story in which one of the characters talks about a family complaint being all 'bile, bile, bile' and another says: "Kindly stop that disgusting talk, while we're trying to drink our cocktails." Don't you sometimes feel, in the middle of this unholy mess, that you're like Lady Macbeth walking into a cocktail party holding a dripping knife? Ordinary life continues while you are left containing extraordinarily large emotions, some of them unsavoury. And you want to say 'This ain't no cocktail party, lady.'

      'we are incredible and loveable on our own, not in comparison to anyone else'. Of course we are. We don't normally make a point of comparing ourselves to others in terms of intrinsic lovability. But then people don't normally trample over our most private boundaries like bison fleeing from reality. It's an unusual situation.

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  31. Reading your story has made me re-evaluate my own scenario, and although I agree we shouldn't compare ourselves to the OW, they are not all truly evil however I do think jealousy can play a massive role, and I think this may have been partly to blame in my betrayal on the OW part, however her jealously should not have caused this to have occurred this was purely of my husbands choice I do realise that.

    I have so many times looked at the OW and thought she is skinnier than me but I wouldn't say as pretty ( and I don't mean that to sound big headed) but I couldn't understand why my husband chose her.

    I realise now he didn't make the choice she did, she had known him as a child and reconnected through facebook, of which I was aware and had no issues at the time, I look back now on comments she made upon family photos, and I read more into those comments now, she saw how much of a family man my H was, how much he loved his family, she was divorced she wanted what I had.

    My H was wrong to meet up with her for old times sake ( he realises now by doing this without my knowledge and informing the OW of this he gave her the ammunition she needed) she realised or picked up on that he was missing something at this point in his life , it didn't matter to her that my H told her how much he loved me and would never leave me, she offered him something he had not had before (sex with another partner) he stupidly took the offer, he phased it out very quickly after realising he did not want this to go on, however he felt trapped if he cut ties with her she would tell ne what had been going on, so she still got to see him however he made sure it was in a public place so nothing else could happen, he was then trapped, I think it was a relief for him when I found out over 12 mths later what had been going on, he was able to cut all ties quite easily.

    So I think she saw his vulnerability and played him, yes he is still to blame as he was not forced into his actions, however I do think she set out to get my man, she may have slept with him but she didn't get his heart or his love, that remained loyal to me, and I have to keep reminding myself of this fact when the hurt resurfaces, he was weak, stupid, hurtful....... but pure and simple he was just a confused idiot who didn't realise that he was being manipulated right from the start by this OW and went too far before realising what he actually had to lose.

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  32. I love all of you. Thank you so much for all of your thoughtful comments. I wish one day we could meet in person & go out for lunch.

    Sam

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    1. so do I! I'd really like that x

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  33. After all these references to mother Theresa, I have to share this, which made me think of where I would like to be. My hate for the OW is not as consuming as before... she will have to answer for her actions one day - but not to me.

    ANYWAY:
    People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
    If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
    If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
    If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
    What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
    If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
    The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
    Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
    In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
    It was never between you and them anyway.

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    1. That is beautiful. Thank-you.

      Elle

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  34. I don't have fantasies about hurting the other women. Yes they went after my husband, a family man who has a very successful career and make a ton of money (one of them starting really going after him once she saw our beautiful house). But he was a very willing partner. He made a choice and he admits it.

    I have a fantasy along the lines of the Peggy Sue movie. Yes now I want my marriage to work. We have 2 children and a long history together and I believe he loves me and wants to make it up to me. But my fantasy is to go back in time to when we were dating and tell myself that he will cheat on me. I have a feeling though that just like in that movie, I don't think I would believe myself. I want to go back in time and stop myself from dating him. Now that we have children together I couldn't bring myself to divorce him; I don't want to do that to our kids (they see him so little as is). Is that a crazy fantasy?

    Sam

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    1. Sam,
      On my third date with my husband, I told him that I came from an alcoholic home. I was in therapy and realizing just how much my childhood experiences had shaped the adult I was. I felt it was only fair to "warn" my husband that I came with some baggage. I honestly believed he deserved to know in order to determine if he wanted to date me.
      What I didn't understand then but do now is that all of us have a certain amount of baggage. I naively thought that, because his childhood looked so perfect, he had emerged untouched by dysfunction.
      Ha! Joke's on me.
      This is a long way of saying that I don't think your fantasy is crazy at all. I think a great many of us wish we could have predicted the pain we'd experience and run screaming from the church when asked "do you take this man...?"
      But while this fantasy is common, I'm not sure it's too helpful unless you examine it to determine if you really do want to stay with your husband or would prefer to get off that path right now. Little kids change things, I know. I stayed, initially, because I couldn't imagine disrupting my kids' life and I so desperately wanted to give them the stability that I hadn't had in childhood. But it's important, I think, to stay because you genuinely believe you're better with him than without him.
      We all make choices in life. We can't un-do the ones that brought us here...but we can do our best to respect ourselves going forward and ensure that the choices we make going forward are with our own best interests at heart.
      I know you're in a really awful place right now and that you no doubt need time to get clear on the most recent revelations. And I'm honestly not advocating for one choice over another -- that's something only each of us can possibly decide. i just want you to know that you do have the choice. It's a difficult one, for sure. But nonetheless a choice.

      Elle

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  35. Hi Elle, I have written to you before and got some good advice ... thank you.Here's the thing, after my husband broke off the affair he remained friends with the bitch for nearly 10 years. He says he felt sorry for her and he didn't hate her. But it is driving me insane. Not only did he screw the woman for two years but he remained friends with her for years. I don't know how to get over this. I have tried writing things down, screaming in private, yelling at him, tapping, you name it and there are still days after a whole year where I feel like crap, I mean totally consumed and mental. do you think I am crazy? LB

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    1. Crazy? Nope. I think believing you can be "friends" with a woman you had sex with outside of your marriage is pretty damn crazy though.
      Nonetheless, assuming that craziness is over (it is, right?), there's nothing to be gained by giving it real estate in your brain. The fact that you can't let that particular piece of the puzzle go generally means that there's something more to it than meets the eye. Is it that the "friendship" makes her more human and less of a sex toy? More real and less fantasy? I'm curious what it is about that part of it that is consuming you. See if you can parse it out.

      Elle

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    2. Thank you Elle. After reading your reply I have been trying to think of why it bothers me and the only thing I can think of is that I thought we were best friends and all along he had a friendship with this woman that I knew nothing about. When he got cancer he asked me not to tell anybody but at some point he told her, it just saddens and infuriates me. We just had a big blow up. I tried asking him questions to find out when the affair was (he can't remember) and he just started shouting about he doesn't want to go there, it just depresses him, it is effecting his health, every few days I will be fine and then I go back into this dark hole and drag him down with me, get help, he wants me to be happy so figure out a way, with him or without him. I feel like I am driving him away and I don't know how to stop. I feel like this second best person. Not smart like her ( she was a University Prof with a Phd in some science subject ... a real brainiac. Kind of plain but obviously interesting). However he did choose me not her and when we get along it is magic. It was our 35th wedding anniversary yesterday and it sucked and I know it was because of me and my mood. My sister said some people are drains and some are radiators and lately I have been a drain. Maybe I need to go on anti- depressants. What do you think? I have to say I have read many online articles and blogs and I think yours is far and away the best. Thanks for being there. LB

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    3. I have a similar situation in that my husband remained a secret friend of the OW for 18 years. This led to their second affair which was the one I discovered. He knew she had feelings for him and he admits that he kept contact as 'insurance' for extramarital sex and to prevent her seeing him as the 'bad guy'. He confessed the earlier affair over one year from my original DDay, so basically we had to start over again. He still says it was just sex but admitted they met up when possible although she lives at the other end of the country. He has lied to me for the last year and I am still finding out things - such as he had a day out with her at a beauty spot, the one we had a great day at a couple of months ago when he pretended he had never been there before. How can I make him realise that the lies and deception are the biggest block to our recovery. We also have our 34th wedding anniversary this year.

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    4. I wrote a post a few weeks ago (check it our here: http://betrayedwivesclub.blogspot.ca/2014/04/my-letter-to-husbands-just-talk-about.html) in which I outline just how crucial it is for you to have all the details...and how damaging it is when they continue to lie. It's the trust violation that delivers the worst blow to the marriage, not the sex.

      Elle

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  36. Hi, just discovered this site. I have a question for you! My husband and I have been married 7 years, 3 children. He began having an online affair with someone from his past who lives in another state. After catching them, and lots of arguing, he moved out temporarily to figure things out. He loved the other woman. He admitted that to me and said he needed to figure out his feelings for her. Two months went by, and now he has decided to work on his marriage, but is having trouble getting over his feelings for her. He has cut off all contact with her (even showing me the break up message) and voluntarily gave me his passwords for everything. He is grieving over the loss of his relationship with her. I think his relationship was addictive to him and he's withdrawing. Meanwhile, I feel like I need to move forward, get questions answered, feel loved, fix what was broken. I feel like we can't begin to do that until he is no longer dwelling on his feelings for her. How to I get by in the meantime? I feel dumb for waiting around for him to get over her, but I don't think that forcing conversation out of him while he's grieving is a good idea either. How long does this normally last? At what point do I say enough is enough, focus on me or I'm done?

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    1. It's a really good question and one that, frankly, I can't really answer. My husband wasn't emotionally involved so there wasn't any residual feelings.
      But I think you're right in that he needs to have shaken himself out of the fog before you can really get answers.
      Have you heard of the 180? Might be what you need to get you through. You can read more here: http://beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com/the-180/
      It's essentially a way to remove yourself emotionally while he gives his head a shake. From what others say, it's pretty effective.
      In the meantime, I think you should be focusing on you. I think your own healing is paramount. This is the time to be gentle with yourself and get yourself into counselling to help you work through the anger and grief and shock.
      Perhaps others can weigh in with their thoughts re. how long it takes someone to let go of their affair partner. Anyone??

      Elle

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    2. Anon - how did they know each other before?

      What was the 'break up message'? Ideally it should have been a no contact letter/email agreed by you. It sounds as if he is still in control of this situation and expects you to tag along, holding a cool flannel for his tortured brow. Nothing will change while his adolescent narcissism overtakes his better faculties. You're worth so much more. But with three young children you have responsibilities, and it's understandable you're uncertain what to do for the best.

      Frank Pittman wrote about infidelity, his book's good if a bit dated. There's another though I'd like your husband to read if he can get his head out of his *** long enough, it's called 'Grow Up! : How Taking Responsibility Can Make You a Happy Adult.'

      He's being self-indulgent AND it's making him miserable. Perhaps there's a message here for him?

      I suspect he's pushed this situation almost as far as it can go, and that in the end you will get to choose. You are not a consolation prize. Know your own worth.

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  37. To Iris & Elle -

    Elle posted this about your comment on May 23:

    "In my experience, the day came when I was able to look at what happened no longer as THE defining experience but rather part of my life. The weight, in other words, lifted."

    I am not quite a year out yet and this just came up with my therapist last week. She asked me if - back in the day before the affair - divorce was something I thought about and/or my husband and I discussed. I said, "of course not, our marriage was good. Not perfect, but really good." She said, "so, divorce was, pretty much, always an option, because it always is, but it was irrelevant." I agreed that divorce is, legally, always an option, but irrelevant in a happy, good marriage. She then said, "that is what you are working so hard to get to in the future. The day that the affair is irrelevant to the relationship. It will always be there, but it is irrelevant."

    Elle - I know you feel like you are really healed, some scar tissue, but healed. Is the affair irrelevant in the way that my therapist described it? I guess she was saying irrelevant to the life you are living today. Right now, 11 months out, it seems impossible that this event will ever be irrelevant, or even let me get through a day without crying - full blown, or silently to myself in the shower.

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    1. One year seems like a lifetime...but I was still a mess at that point. Many experts say three to five years before you feel like it's behind you and that was pretty much my timeline (I was closer to five). Of course, things continue to improve, assuming you're both committed to the marriage. But to really say it was behind me, it was five years.
      I don't know that I'd say "irrelevant". Might be semantics, but I think his affair will always be "relevant" in the sense that I no longer have that automatic "he'd never do that" trust. I know that he could do it. I'm not the wide-eyed innocent I was. But I do feel confident saying that chapter of our life is behind us. It's no longer part of our every day. It crops us occasionally, but so do other grievances -- like his apparent inability to put things in the dishwasher.
      It has become something that happened -- and something that we weathered together.
      Give yourself time. Keep working on rebuilding a stronger, more honest marriage. And when that three-to-five-year timeline rolls around, you'll be able to look at your marriage and though you may never say you're glad the affair happened, you will be able to see that it brought you to a pretty great place.

      Elle

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    2. That is what I needed to hear. I had 2 and a half days where I actually enjoyed myself, the affair felt distant, and I didn't spiral into deep sadness every other hour. Then today, halfway through our beach day, something triggered me. I fell back into the "Affair Zone." So I am back to telling myself, "its only been 6 months since it was over, you've got plenty of time...this isn't over"

      Anon, my husband went through withdrawal for 4 and half months. Hence that's why it is only 6 months out for me, even though the affair was revealed in July of last year. He thought he was "in love" too. I thought he could shake it and see how ridiculous it was to be in love with this woman. But he couldn't and kept recontacting her after he claimed to wanted to be with me. It was a nightmare. He now understands it as a part of his addictive personality and she served the same purpose as an intoxicant. He was having a midlife crisis and this person seemed to offer him a way out of feeling like an aging failure. Attending a sex and love addicts group has helped him tremendously. He is no longer "in love."
      I think it is worth it that you and he learn about the withdrawal cycle and get help with a therapist, books, articles, etc. It is not something that my husband could handle on his own. I also didn't understand it and conceive of the idea that he would relapse and secretly contact the OW, over and over again--he really did act like an addict--so I didn't know how to protect myself and not to trust him.
      I think alot of the 180 would also make sense to for you but if he is really committed to being with you he needs to get help to get over the withdrawal. As Elle said, he cannot do the repair and counseling to heal your marraige until his is clear headed and sober again.
      MBS

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    3. Elle is further on than me. Until a couple of weeks ago I was also crying in the shower. In the last year I've cried more than I've ever done before and more easily. And it's a roller-coaster.

      I'm not over this yet (it isn't irrelevant) but a few things have helped me, apart from time.

      Coming to the realisation as if for the first time that it wasn't my fault. Realising that until that moment (fairly recent) although I knew rationally that it wasn't my fault, I still FELT it must be and that I had in some way failed. That I wasn't good enough. It was so painful to feel that shame.

      It really is not your fault.

      Learning to answer the statement: 'affairs are usually a sign of something wrong in a marriage,' with 'Yep, one of the partners is cheating.'

      Finding someone who put into words what unethical behaviour infidelity is and why (in my case Susan Schorn - to repeat the link - apologies if you have seen it: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/column-5-women-beware-women ) Asking my husband to read it. He couldn't fault Schorn's argument. I'm glad to have her fighting my corner - our corner.

      Having somewhere to feel part of a group of women (here) having blogs to read (Elle's, Shawn's) knowing I'm not alone.

      Helping friends who are dealing with similar situations. Being in a position to be kind and maybe even useful, remembering that I'm a good friend who is valued and loved, whatever happens to my marriage.

      I'm struck by a resilience I didn't know I had. I hope it's the same for you. And one or two friends have been great but infidelity is isolating. I had to go through a lot of pain alone. I didn't die. It has got better.

      My husband is remorseful. To restore trust takes humility. We've spent a lot of time together, neither of us wants to leave, he understands that the fuck up was his alone. I don't respect his choices before but I do respect what he's doing now. It's tough. I'm not sure I could do as well. He's earning my trust and my respect. If this sounds punitive to some, they may not understand the wounds inflicted. No one can tell you and your husband how to make these events irrelevant (to heal from infidelity) except that it won't be easy and it will take time. Every marriage is unique. All I can suggest is that he has to do the work. You're already working overtime.

      I've started to think about other things more and about this less. Do so actively, is my advice, and take a break. I give you permission to let it go and let it be ok that things aren't perfect. The helium balloons of flawless marriages - up they go. Down here is where most of us are. You are not alone. There's a kind of bloodied humour in the camaraderie. You're different to the way you were before and maybe some of this is even positive, new ideas, new toughness, new compassion - what do you think?

      Delete
  38. Hello Elle,
    it's been awhile way too long. Dday #1 was 9/21/13, he moved out 10/13/13 and is STILL out. A if over and fog lifted two months or so ago.We were at MC but stoped because he could not commit to us. He says he wants to come back but he WON'T, says he is too afraid. What am I suppost to do or think about that. I don't want D I want to work on our marriage but it is so hard when he is avoiding the topic. So my question to other BWC members is am I the only one whose H just won't come back but says he wants to. How long did you waited ? Most of the days I am strong just not tonight..... ~ U~

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    1. ~U~,
      You start with the 180. You can read more here: http://beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com/the-180/
      He'll sit on that fence until you kick him off. No guarantees the he'll land on the side of the fence you want him on...but at least you'll know what you're dealing with.
      What he's afraid of is owning up to the damage he's caused. It's easier, of course, to remove himself from it and promise that "one day..."
      Don't let him. He either shows up, does the hard work (which means MC and individual counselling for him) and begins making amends, or he keeps running away from his issues. That's his choice.
      Your choice is whether or not you let him keep sitting there.

      Elle

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  39. The comments on Jealousy being a cause of an affair struck a chord with me. The OW was an ex of my husband who thought he should have married her not me. He knows she had more feelings for him than he had for her and he traded on that by keeping in touch, unknown to me for years. This included occasional sex before and during her own subsequent marriage. What woman marries whilst continuing a long term affair with another married man is the question I keep asking myself? She 'justifies' this by seeing him as the 'love of her life' regardless. I keep saying to myself 'a dog always returns to it's own vomit' whenever she comes into my head. All the advice and guidance stresses that the OW is not the cause of the affair and I am aware of a number of reasons for my husband's behaviour and the part I played in this but I am convinced jealousy was her motivation

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    1. Jealousy might have been her motivation but you can't allow yourself to spend time in her head. Who cares what crazy justifications she was making. What you care about is why your husband kept her on a leash for so long. What in the world made him think that keeping someone who was openly a threat to your marriage around was a good idea.
      Once you (and HE!!) are clear on that, you can begin to move forward. In the meantime, I hope she's been told, very clearly, that she is persona non grata in your and his life. I hope too, if she's still married, her husband knows.

      Elle

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    2. He didn't think she was a threat as he thought I would never find out! The usual story, the fact that there was this contact poisoning our communication doesn't seem to have registered, or didn't at the time. He said he felt sorry for her but I think he just liked the ego boost and thrill of the secret. Basically it made him still feel young without responsibilities. Someone once said to me that 'all men are selfish, even the good ones'

      Delete
    3. She has been told 'no contact' ever but still tried to get him to meet up last September when she was in town. He had the sense to show me the texts and his reply, which was again not to contact him. Her husband doesn't know and I have posted before as he is older and not well. I do consider letting him know the situation. I have a letter composed that I could send him that states the facts without emotion that would let him know just what he married. I hesitate to send it as I feel it would be purely a revenge act on my part. I would really like him to find out for himself - maybe a wish to keep the moral high ground? I have no pity for any consequences to her and she has no children, I just feel her husband would be hurt too much.

      Delete
  40. I had an interesting therapy discussion about the OW and my obsession thereof recently. It's the shit that gets stirred up that about the OW that's related to how we view our rivalry with other women (in my case being the oldest of three girls) that gets added to the crazy mix. Ugh. The joy of unintended consequences... Not! Anyway, I was obsessed with getting my husband to renounce her as the bitch/whore/cunt that she is but he wouldn't which was making me crazier. In the end, he came up with an idea in MC of emailing her to tell her that he choose me over her and he would a thousand times and she means nothing to him etc...It really released for me the competition aspect which helped. For now...

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    1. The OW plays a huge role in our heads because of how our culture teaches us to value ourselves (looks, body, "accomplishments") in competition with other women. It is insidious.
      I wanted my H to tell me over and over again that she is trash and I am better than she is. Which may be true ;) but the point is, he saw her through rose colored glasses. His glasses are far clearer now, and he realizes it wasn't about her at all. What he saw was an escape from feeling bad about himself. He now knows that he was too disconnected from himself to see reality. That it wasn't really about who is "better" me vs. her. But him wanting to feel better about himself. She was just an opportunity. And she is a woman who needs men to make her feel good about herself as most OWs are.
      Unfortunately, my sense of self worth has taken a beating and it is hard work to regain it. Especially when I, like so many other women, get very confusing messages about my value. It is easy to want to feel better about ourselves by wanting our man to judge us better than other women. That is what our culture tells us is we need to feel validated.
      My H is clear that she wasn't worth it and that our relationship means everything to him. But he doesn't have to compare me to another woman to be clear about that.

      Delete
    2. The awful truth is that I can now say 'everything you're feeling is quite normal', including wanting exactly that and being furious that he won't say it. I had a similar conversation with a friend today, blown away by her anatomical cursing. I did not know we knew this kind of language.

      Honestly - you don't want your husband to have strong enough feelings about her to express them as powerfully as you think you want him to.

      You know he would write that for you, but if you decide to communicate at all you might want to make your message short and impersonal. Don't let her have a window into your marriage. Don't encourage her to reply with her side of the story. Don't give her any drama.

      Delete
    3. So, so true. Women are culturally pitted against each other. We see it every time a public figure cheats and the trashy magazines start judging the wife/OW and the pubic weighs in with their inane comments, based almost exclusively on what each looked like, age, etc. It's degrading and completely ignorant of the true psychology of affairs. Ugh. Infuriates me.

      Elle

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    4. I think it is this issue of not being able to confront the OW and have my H tell her I choose my wife, I never wanted you as I want my wife, I was foolish, stupid etc that has been a barrier for me in my healing, my H has done all the right things to show me he loves me, how remorseful he is etc, but I found out about the affair from someone trying to contact my H to inform him that she had died, I believe him when he says he had no feelings for her however I somehow wanted proof evidence of this and he couldn't give it to me, I saw all the condolence messages of what a beautiful person she was, all I wanted to do was scream, No she was not,i so wanted to tell everyone what she was capable of but also I didn't want people knowing what my husband was also capable of, I always thought what goes around comes around and Karma will come and bite you in the ass, she has had her karma and I feel no remorse or guilt in suggesting this, is this wrong of me, maybe it is but I do not care about her. I know I would gain absolutely nothing from any form of confrontation, it may even make things worse but I have always been someone who can be seen to stand up for themselves speak as they find, and I so want to tell the OW exactly what I think of her, she has kids although separated as she was cheated on, so why would she inflict the same pain on another woman, all my questions will remain unanswered all my venom unleashed on my H but still I feel cheated, I know this will pass but I wanted the ability to say how she has made me feel, what she did to us as a family, but hey you still have nothing, this may come across showing my bitterness and resentment but I just would have liked the chance to show her I am not afraid of confrontation, I don't like what she stands for and what she has done, and for my H to reiterate that he was stupid and that there was absolutely no chance of it ever happening again.

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    5. Have you considered writing a letter to her. Of course you'd never be able to send it (unless you have the mailing address for the afterlife) but you might find it really cathartic to just get it all out as if you had direct access to her.
      Please also know that she died having never really come to terms with the pain she'd caused in others' lives...and facing the pain she'd inevitably experienced in her own. That's only a half-life. I wouldn't want that.
      And finally, the worst people in the world becomes saints when they die. I've yet to see any condolence card that said, honestly, what that person was truly like. Can you imagine? "Even though XX was a lying idiot who could always be counted on to spread her pain around, I'm sure her family will miss her."

      Elle

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    6. Elle

      I think I may put all my thoughts and feelings down onto paper, and see if it helps, it certainly isn't going to make things worse so I have nothing to lose trying it. I do have moments where I feel I shouldn't be feeling she has reaped what she has sown, however those doubts soon fade and my guilt for those thoughts are purely for her children alone and not for her who so readily inflicted the same pain on another women that she had to endure ( or maybe she was happy for an excuse to leave her husband, I do not know) however if there is an afterlife i do know that my mother in law would make sure that the OW was well and truly put in her place and that does make me smile.

      Things are getting better, i am not crying and thinking of the betrayal all the while, it is certain triggers now for me, however when it does come back to haunt me, god the pain is just as intense, but my H is doing everything he can, and even during his affair period things appeared great between us,but they are better now than before, he explains this as he now realised what he could have lost and he cannot bear the thought of losing me, he cannot believe he risked us, he cannot understand what was going through his head at the time for him to betray me, he says he feels it was a different person, it wasn't him , so now i have an even more attentive husband, someone who now also sees what i do for all our family and not just him, around the home so he now helps more, he does little things now that he never used to do, and he explains that he sees exactly my worth now, he had lost that for a time and he so ashamed of that fact, and he intends to make sure he never loses that again, i in return do try and look at him and see the misgivings within him, the shame he has within him, and the love that i do truly believe he has always had for me which is now so uppermost in his thoughts, that i need to show him that i do forgive him and we can get passed this hurt and be even stronger together as a unit, cos we would both be useless apart.

      As you can see this is a good day for me, and these are now more frequent than the bad days, so to those who are still having countless bad days, Elle is right it does get easier in time, but you both have to want it to work.

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    7. That's good to hear. And yes, let it all out on paper. No guilt allowed. You can say the most vile things because no-one is going to see it but you. Purge all that toxic anger. I think it will help.

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    8. I wrote a pretend letter to one of the other women (there are 2). I know how to contact both but will not.

      My husband told both women (they were both married too) that he wouldn't leave me. The first was pressuring him to leave me. She asked him what does she have that I don't. He answered "me". That's what ultimately broke up the relationship she have him an ultimatum. I believe him because that's so like him to say something like that.

      With the second affair he went in telling her he wouldn't leave me (he figured he wouldn't make the same mistake twice). She was also married. I guess she figured once they started sleeping together he would change his mind. He didn't then either. Their relationship evolved into one with a lot of arguing but ended when she moved away. She came back to see him twice thereafter but then stopped. I guess she realized it was a dead end relationship for her. She initiated divorce proceedings with her husband.

      My point is yes I do feel lucky that he told them to their faces he wouldn't leave me, but it still hurts. Don't feel bad that u didn't get that chance, because believe me it wouldn't really make it that less painful.

      Sam

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    9. Thank you Elle and Sam.

      I am going to write that letter, but I have decided I shall do this on a bad day, and make sure every bit of venom is released within it.lol

      I have thought about what you have said Sam, and yes I see what you mean, it wouldn't make it less painful, I think I was just looking for a way I could have made her feel some pain but it is all hypothetical now anyway, so I have to come to terms with that but I will remind myself of the fact what would it have achieved anyway.

      Thank you both.

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  41. Something I read on line (I'm a physician so I like reading data learned from scientific studies):

    They took pictures of men along with descriptions & showed them to a number of women, 1st telling the women that the men were single & then married. A higher percent of the married men were identified as potential mates than the single men. The theory is that women go after the married men because they've been preselected by another woman, so they must be better.

    I always knew this instinctively. Whenever I thought my husband was becoming too friendly with a woman I would warn him that she was after him . He would always say but she's married (often with children) & I'd say so what?

    Both the ow my husband cheated with were married with children & both wanted to divorce their husbands & were pressuring him to divorce me.

    It seems to be a recurring theme. Some sisterhood! Well at least now I belong to this one.

    Sam

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    1. Sam,
      That's really interesting. We're perhaps not such complex creatures as we like to believe.
      And I long ago stopped believing in a sisterhood -- when my "best friend" slept with a longterm boyfriend of mine about two hours after we'd broken up. That said, I've also learned that there are a great many women (indeed men too) who live life with integrity and honor.
      Yay for them (and us!).

      Elle

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    2. Sam - there's a whole study of 'mate poaching' - couple of research papers online (although those interviewed were university students). You've probably read them.

      It struck me that it appears there are particular behaviours associated with mate poaching as opposed to dating (single people) according to gender. None of this is news. It seems to bear out the idea of the bait and switch - women offering 'no strings' sex but then attempting to get the poached partner to leave his significant other.

      I don't think however that an attempt to mate-poach necessarily means the poacher really wants our husband as a mate. People don't always mean what they say (you noticed that, eh?) and adultery brings out the fantasist; in that moment leaving your own mate for another woman's seems like a good idea, but I doubt that idea is any more sustainable than the affair itself. That's not to say the OW's own marriage survives her brush with fiction.

      The sad fact is that it appears some women get a kick out of being able to acquire someone else's mate even if they don't want to keep him, even if they call their febrile passion 'love' or 'soul-mates'. In affairs everyone lies and exaggerates, nobody wants to play himself, everyone pays with debased currency for flattery not worth having.

      The other interesting research detail was the behaviour of the poached, who signals that she or he is available for mate-poaching. The risks can be high so this involves deceit from the start, including a possible tactic of investing heavily in the primary relationship so that your mate is lulled into false security about your activity.

      As it's quite clear human beings are not always entirely aware what they're doing (a v clever male friend of mine said he thinks men mostly 'blunder about' their own lives) it would be surprising if the prospective married poachee necessarily goes out to his next dinner-party wearing a t-shirt saying 'poach-me' impregnated with Italian cologne. Others can spot a gap in the market though, when boundaries are not consciously secure.

      I watched a group of my friends at a party a few nights ago, we're all middle-aged, married, no one complains of marital misery. I can spot the flirtation though, by degree - I am a David Attenborough of potential mate-poaching. I now realise that many of us are signalling availability and that in another context, maybe away from home and fuelled by alcohol, someone might take us up on it.

      That's when we need to have integrity and honour even if others have lost their way.

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    3. Fascinating Iris. And perhaps you'll find yourself in an Attenboroughesque documentary about it. I'd watch!!
      I'm wondering if you would mind sending me a message with your e-mail. There's something I want to ask you but not publicly. I won't "publish" your contact info, I promise. I moderate all the comments before they're posted. (If I didn't,t here would be about a zillion "spell-casting to get your spouse back" ads.)
      Elle

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  42. In response to iris and both anon entries above, I know intellectually that it's not a competition, that it wasn't about them, it was about their constant adoration and flattery of him and how it made him feel good about himself. I always thought I had a low self esteem but I guess not compared to him. My self esteem was never predicated on what others thought of me. Maybe that's because I was such an over achiever in school that my self esteem was based on my scholastic achievements.

    Every time the subject has come up he answers that it was never a competition; there was no contest. He never wanted to leave me for them.

    But still as the others have said I feel as though it was and is a competition. I guess it's so ingrained into our culture & upbringing that as much as KNOW it's not a competition in my head, I still FEEL like it's a competition in my heart.

    Sam

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    1. Sam - I feel the same way. But who's competing? And for what? Read this on a man's health site advising on what to do when considering infidelity (don't do it):

      'If a woman who knows you're spoken for comes on to you, it's flattering. It's tempting. But remember that she's doing it to feed her own ego, not yours. She wants to see how much power she holds over you. And if you take her bait, she then knows she must be superior in every way to your sweetie. Deep down, she has nothing but contempt for both your male weakness and your mate's existence. That should really piss you off.'

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    2. Iris -

      This is really good, where did you see this?

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    3. It was called 'MH lists'
      http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/cheating_on_a_woman/cheating_shows_weakness.php#ixzz337vZg25C

      A friend mentioned an article where a man writes what he would say to a friend contemplating cheating (don't) so I was looking for that. Didn't find it. Perhaps someone else has seen it.

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  43. On another note (yet along the lines of feeling stuck), I wonder if it's just too late for us to piece our marriage back together. I have stifled 10 years of resentment all this time under the guise of yes my marriage is less than ideal but whose is ideal. And so what if he goes out with other people & has other women as friends as long as he comes home to me? Well now he has stopped all of that & is trying to spend as much time with me & kids as he can. But maybe the wounds are too deep. I wasted half my life with someone who never appreciated me until he might lose me; why should I give him another chance? Over the last 10 years I feel like he & I never had any time together (I thought it was because he was always working) & yet he certainly found the time to spend with other women. I told him a few months ago that I feel so cheated . . . Cheated out of time that he should have spent with me. And I just keep reminding myself of it over & over again. I tried visualizing the stop sign but it just doesn't work for me. Maybe it's just too little too late.

    Sam

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    1. Sam, you need more than a stop sign. :)
      I was in a really similar spot to you. It had been years of my husband "working", with me picking up the lion's share of home, kids, social, etc. There was no way we could have just carried on in the same marriage (minus the affairs). The marriage itself was unhealthy. If we were going to stay together, we needed to create a very different relationship. And the only way to do that without resentment was to clean out all the resentment from the old one.
      We still have things arise and we're in a stage right now where I feel as though he's slipping back into old patterns (as the kids have gotten older, he's more inclined to leave them to your own devices whereas I'm still hands-on).
      Your husband seems to think that the "only" problem was his cheating. So if he's not cheating, then everything's great, right? Nuh-uh. Nope. As you said, you've had years of resentment. The cheating was part of it, sure. A big part of it. But it was the proverbial straw on an already straining camel's back.
      Are you in counselling, Sam? You sound so much like I did (seething with anger -- rightfully so!).
      I think if you saw a man genuinely committed to making up to you all the pain he's caused and all the time he's missed, a lot of your anger would dissipate. I think you genuinely want to give him the chance to prove he deserves a second chance. But he just doesn't seem to want to step up to the plate. And you can't force him to.

      Elle

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    2. Oh god. The story of my life. For most of our married life, he deferred the responsibilities to me so he could just day dream and "be in the moment." So I didn't get to "be in the moment" because I had to plan dinner! So much resentment built up over the years, especially after we had our 2nd kid. Because really, I had a 3rd kid in my husband. And he resented me for "mommying." It is a role we both played and are responsible for.
      The OW was exactly like him. She was in La-La land, while her husband worked and took care of all the responsibilities. She fed my H's delusion that he could just play his whole life and not grow up.
      After I found our about the affair, I also felt like I had wasted my entire 30s doing my job as a wife and mother and letting this man take advantage of that.
      Thankfully, soon after d-day #2 he realized how lazy he has been as a partner and started stepping up. He realized that my anger towards him over the years had alot to do with his failure to "show up" like an adult in our marriage. I in turn, have worked to let more things go so that he can step up rather than me "making" him by nagging or sulking. You are right Elle, if either of us wasn't committed to changing the old patterns, we could not be this far along at 6 months. Alot of my anger has dissipated because I know that he wants to change how was in our relationship.
      Both of us are carrying around a good deal of resentment but atleast we can name it so that when we get pissed off with each other, we know what is behind it. I know that my resentment for the affair is going to take some time to heal. But I won't be able to have the marraige I won't if I can't let go of it.

      -MBS

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    3. Someone recently mentioned on this site the book Grow Up by Frank Pittman (who writes about affairs, as well as general marriage stuff). I looked at it on Amazon and it seemed interesting. Also seemed consistent with something else I'd heard recently about how one of the most satisfying things in life is to actually show up and contribute. So-called free rides are ultimately dissatisfying.

      Elle

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    4. Elle - I have it and although it's not exactly 2014, he's not our generation, Pittman does say some of the things you'd like your grandfather to have said to you. Or you'd like to have a grandfather telling your husband, right at this moment. It's blazing common sense, but in a culture which favours the quick fix, immediate gratification, 'finding yourself' (often at the expense of others) it's a real tonic. I think Pittman was a happy man.

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  44. U r right. I feel like the affair from 10 years ago has reawakened so many if my past resentments.

    This question is to all the women who have experienced this: how do u reconcile with someone who basically dated other women while u were basically a babysitter & at home holding down the fort, doing laundry, cooking, taking care of finances, etc. they went to dinner, the movies, broadway shows, a spa for a couples massage, wine tasting, an art exhibit, and who knows where else?

    I remember several women here mentioning similar experiences. How do u get past that?

    Sam

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    1. Sam, Are you guys in a stable place where you are not exploding with anger and he is not hiding from himself because of shame or in the "fog"? Are you in a place where both of you really commit to healing your relationship? Is he willing to get to the bottom of why he was acting out? Is he able to listen to you and what your pain, needs, and resentments are? Are you able to hear him talk about his pain, needs, and resentments?
      When you both can get to that place, then you will know if its fixable. But you won't know if you can or can't until you get there.
      I echo Elle's recommendation that you find individual counseling so you can unstifle yourself in a safe and productive way.
      Something else to consider is that in being the chief, cook and bottlewasher at home, we weren't victims, we participated in the dynamic. He gave up control and we took it. Can we give up control so that he can take it back? We being the responsible types, also want to take responsibility for fixing the relationship. But you need to have 2 people to do that. If we can't give up control and if he can't take ownership, then things aren't likely fixable.

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    2. yes, he has to take over the work. And it is appalling behaviour: 'they went to dinner, the movies, broadway shows, a spa for a couples massage, wine tasting, an art exhibit,' what were you, the housekeeper? He has a huge amount to make up to you.

      I don't know about all that - he seems oblivious of the need to respect anyone, and if his 'dates' knew he was married they're just as bad. Sam, you can walk away if you want to and no one would blame you. He needs to demonstrate that he's capable of radical change but even then, is this what you want? You're a professional with your own career, you can take action. It's your choice.

      My daughter says (looking at her room) 'This mess is so big and so deep and so wide...' Sam, it does not have to be your mess. Perhaps you need some space and time to think things through, somewhere you can get your thoughts in order? I had an initial, free consultation with a family law firm, in fact the lawyer I saw (who had acted for a friend of mine) gave me some very good advice which was not to do with my legal situation. I felt I had to know my rights and taking that step gave me confidence. But I didn't follow through. It was worth me staying and taking on the roller-coaster, although I didn't know how hard it would be. It may very well be worth it for you - but it's your call. You're not a quitter if you decide he simply went too far to come back.

      Thinking of you - Iris x

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    3. I don't have to see a lawyer. My husbands sister went to see one three years ago as a result of her husbands affair/mid life crisis. In our state divorce results in assets being split 50-50. I would likely get the house & kids with him prob getting them on weekends/ holidays. We have actually discussed us divorcing, as I have actually told him I will not stay with things as is. We also discussed an open marriage where I told him he doesn't have to lie-- I won't expect him to be faithful but I said then I do what I want. He thought that mean me sleeping around. I actually have no desire to do that. For me it means me putting me first-- taking classes, buying what I want when I want & goin out whenever I want without having to answer to him. He didn't like that very much.

      He says he doesn't want that life anymore. He wants US. I sent him an email about his relationships with other women taking time away from us & he said he'll make it up to me & try to do better. I be honest, since the last affair ended but before d day we have gone to the movies alone, gone to a show together alone, and spent a lot of time together as a family going places. He has gone to every parent teacher conference at school & even coached my sons soccer 1 year. Since d day he & I went out to dinner alone, & we r making plans to go to a concert together alone this summer.

      I just wonder how long this will last. Can he really do it? Is it possible for someone to make up for 10 years of hurt. I always felt it but after reading Peggy Vaughn's story & now sending my husband emails & writing here I realize he compartmentalized me into the wife & mother although I worked full time too. He got to have other women as companions both sexually & socially and as confidants while I was relegated to home & family life. We only went out together when I was specifically invited as a spouse.

      If I were him I wouldn't even know how to make up for that. But I can see him not feeling guilty because I don't even think he saw what he was doing. I still don't think he sees it. Maybe that's why I'm feeling stuck. I want to hear him say I was right about how I felt all those years. That's what he did. It sounds crazy but I think that hurts more than the actual sex. I can't provide variety or novelty but I always wanted to provide te companionship.

      Sam

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    4. Sam - you're entirely sensible. I'm replying but don't want to tell you what you already know. Maybe a third party is needed to point out to him that this situation is unsustainable because the cost to you is too high.

      Clever, successful men can be very entitled, it's all been too easy for them. His behaviour has been selfish, reckless and irresponsible. He needs to wake up. He should not expect that process to be painless, it's pain after all he's avoiding. In my opinion. As a complete stranger.

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  45. Hello all. I'm new to this and can relate to so many posts. We have been married 12 years and have 3 children. I felt uneasy and had a gut feeling something wasnt right, i asked and he denied anyone else.. Dec 2012 I discovered an email n confronted my husband n he denied anything but a friendship. He provided all her information and I confronted her and she claimed the same as my husband. For the following year I felt uneasy but I seen his efforts and never felt that ugly gut feeling I did the day I found the email. So fast forward to January 2014. I asked a friend who worked with my H and she said the OW just came back to his department and she was working night for the last 9 months. My friends she never seen them talk but that they do work with one another again. on a wim I emailed the OW and asked her if she wanted to tell me anything, she said no. I told her my husband admitted everything and that day has now changed my life forever. She admitted they had been friends for 9 months and had sex 5-6x and she gave him oral sex 9-10x. They always met 15 min before work n parking lot of work place and twice at park out of work and once at hotel. The OW claims she lied to me because my H begged her and told her he didn't want to lose me or his 3 children. Both my H and the OW claim it was solely sexual however the OW claims she discussed caring for him a few times and he said he felt the same but she said she knew he was just blowing smoke because on several occasions she asked him his age, date of birth, children's names, to see his tattoos, what he did for fun with his fam, where he lived and he would never open up to her. She would open up to him bout her problems with her bf but was after while she said the conversations were solely bout work since she was no longer going to open up to him if he was not doing the same. Since finding out we have been in couple counseling and I have had her confront her and tell her with me on phone that she never meant anything and that he hates her. I hoped this would make me feel better but since they both lied I don't trust their words. Since i made him confront her and tell her off she emailed me and told me that although he never talked to her again since the D in 2012 and he asked her to lie to me she said in january 2014 the first day she came back to day shift and in his department he siad hello to her and that he hasnt seen her in a long time and that a week or so after tht she said she approached him to ask him if he was applying for the upcoming sup position. My H admitted those conversations but denies that it was with mail intent. He claims that for three weeks n January they had same breaks and lunches and they only spoke 2x and had he wanted more he would have talked to her every opportunity but denies ever having urge again. That hurts so much.. So I contacted her bf and met up with them both and told him everything and he said she admitted it all and since it happened in 2012 and he cheated on her in 2011 he was going to forgive her and try and work it out.. Mind you they have two children and our 9 years younger then my H and I. The bf claims he believes it was all sexual becuase he knows she would never have left him for my H. Im so angry that her life goes on and my H life goes on and here i in so much pain n disbelief. I feel conflicted and I cry daily. I felt above this and better then this and since my H claims it was all sexual I feel insecure and inadequate. My baby was only 5 months when their affiar started, I was working full time and raising two other children. I know that I wasn't fulfilling my duties I literally would pick fights jus to avoid sex but I don't feel lying and cheating is fair. I needed him emotionally and financially and he needed me sexually and we failed one another however I could n would never have a sexual affair much less for 9 months.. I love him and I see his effort but I don't understand how someone can lie to your face and be stabbing you in the back. Any advice please.....

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  46. Cont. I guess my question is could it be only about sex with no emotions? The anger I feel I know stems from my pain and fears. We are in our mid 30's he has had such an easy life what happens when we have another rough patch and he is turning 40-50. I hate that he candidly blames it on his selfishness over sex. He claims he was jus wanting it more and she pursued him and once he knew what she wanted he went for it. He said that they both knew what it was for and he knew it had to stop but she was jus there and always willing even to jus give him oral so he was always weak and gave in. I don't know anymore... I know he loves me but he also loves his car and one day he will trade in his car..... Its about loyalty and trust and I fear he lacks that. Of all his siblings I thought he was different 10 years of marriage and no infidelity then this .. His father had three children from three other woman while married to my husband's mother and he said he resented his father and would never do that... So now he claims it was jus sex he didn't even care to know her birthday or favorite color or anything bout her because he loved me and never planned on leaving. He said he feels like shit and learned his lesson and he feels like he lost me and will work daily to win me back. I'm lost is this even logical?

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    1. The short answer to your question is yes, it's certainly possible to have sex without emotions and plenty of people do that every day.
      However, the long answer is that he was nonetheless going outside his marriage. While it's important to take responsibility for you avoiding sex (though plenty understandable as mom to a baby!), it hardly gives him carte blanche to have quickies with some woman.
      So he clearly has lots to answer for. And the "just sex" argument only bets the question -- why was he willing to risk his family for "just sex". The real question is what was he really getting out of the "sex" -- escape? fantasy? a way to avoid feeling rejected? Whatever it is, he needs to get clear on it, you two need to find a way to communicate these difficult feelings and he needs to work really hard to help you heal from the devastation of such a betrayal.
      Don't think that it'll be easy for the other couple. No matter what he's saying, unless he's made of stone, they've got their own issues (each of them has cheated?? he's willing to "forgive"? Give me a break...)
      So yes, you're being completely logical in your thinking. It's the thinking around you that is crazy.

      Elle

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    2. Something that helps me is to remember that men (and some women too) can be master compartmentalizers. They often can separate their thoughts, beliefs, and actions from each other. Our spouses in particular, compartmentalized to the detriment of our wellbeing and theirs, as well.
      So this doesn't mean they get off the hook, it just means that they can see it as "just sex" if they don't look too deeply in themselves,and thus fail to see you and their marraige in the equation. (Its "just sex" for them anyway. If you were the one who was cheating, I guarantee that it wouldn't be "just sex") My H, has been addressing his compartmentalization and working his way out of it. But my understanding that he is coming from a very different psychological make up than me, has helped with the "logic."

      MBS

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  47. Most people learn to compartmentalise early and it's a useful skill in certain professions; medicine, the military. Integrity is a good word here. To live with integrity is to keep that compartmentalisation to those areas where it's useful, and to realise that even that has a price.

    I have another book to recommend everyone - buy it for your spouse. My husband and a friend who has also been an enormous w**ker in his relationship thought it was the most helpful they'd read. "Why Do I Do That?' by Joseph Burgo.
    http://www.amazon.com/Why-Do-That-Psychological-Mechanisms/dp/0988443120

    It is cheaper than therapy.



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  48. That is so true. That is why we have such a difficult time understanding it. Men tend to justify affairs as just sex and ok because he didn't love her. Women tend to justify affairs because they don't love their husbands anymore; the affair partner is their soulmate. Women much more commonly have exit affairs (divorce after the affair) than men.

    Sam

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  49. Thank you all so much. I try to forgive but it feels almost impossible since I don't feel as though he deserves to b happy. For 9 months he had his cake and ate it and it pains me that I know realize his lies and deceit. I love him and he loves me but maybe I'm jus more fearful to fully end it because he had proven he has no problem moving on where I am slow to warm up and now a little insecure to say the least. I feel stuck because I don't want
    To allow him to be happy by allowing myself to be happy and each and every time I look at him I see what he did. Times I feel as though my life would be easier jus to let go and be single and put myself and my kids as my priority but my fears of making a wrong decision so soon stop me. I have made him leave on several occasions and he will sleep in his car in the drive way because he doesn't want me to think anything else that would cause me to fight more. See if he compartmentalized his actions my biggest fear is that if I truly try a separation he will compartmentalize his love and our separationand will move on, where as I will be taking it day by day because I know I love him and want a future with him but I also want him to feel the loss from his actions and hit rick bottom with this. I'm sorry but I hate that this has forever changed me I feel like I'm a complete weirdo who over analyzes and obsesses about this whole situation. Although the last day he was with her was Dec 2012 my D day wasn't til January 2014 so it feels so fresh to me. I know I read that it can take up to 5 years but I struggle with why I should have to feel like this for five years. For something he did why can't I have the strength and courage to end it and compartmentalize my love for him and move on. Its just a roller coaster and I have lost so much weight and sleep over this. I swear I never knew the easiest diet was to picture my h with the poor excuse for a woman n our car and I lose my appetite. Thanks all its rough but I'm so thankful for a safe place to vent and hear from wonderful people.

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    1. Anonymous,
      I think many of us have been where you are -- where we believe that "forgiving" is somehow giving our spouse a free pass to be happy, while we still feel miserable.
      The thing is, however, that forgiving tends to occur naturally once we've determined to stop punishing our spouse and can see that they are legitimately and actively working toward being people who deserve a second chance.
      You've got a choice to make because what you're doing isn't working for you. Six months out is still pretty raw. But I get the sense that you're actively holding yourself back out of a fear of letting your husband off the hook. While this might be punishing him -- sleeping in his car can't be fun -- it's also punishing you. And you've been through enough without compounding your own pain.
      We all hate that this has forever changed us. But no amount of rage or sadness will change that. We have the option of learning from this -- pain frequently leads to growth -- or letting it make us bitter.
      This is about YOU, not him. Who do YOU want to be? What mother do you want your children to have?
      This isn't fair. Nothing about it is fair. It's a really hard thing to accept. But, as I said, we've been injured and can un-injure ourself. We can only control what we do to ourselves now and the steps we take to heal ourselves.
      It might seem unfair that by healing ourselves our husbands get a happier home life. But so do WE. So do our children. You need to decide whether you want to make him miserable, or whether you want to make yourself happy again.
      And, just to clarify, the three to five years guideline is for people actively taking steps to heal. There are people who've been divorced for twenty years from their cheating spouse who are still seething with resentment. There are those still married to their cheating spouse who are bitter. You don't want to be those people. The pain doesn't magically dissipate at five years. It lifts slowly, but surely, when you take steps to move past the pain. By controlling what you can (you) and letting go of what you can't (the past). By taking steps to rebuild a healthy marriage (if that's what you choose) or taking steps to create an amiable divorce (if that's what you choose).
      It starts with your choice.

      Elle

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  50. Today is a bimonthly meeting day for him in the city, where SHE will be too. Even though it’s been almost a year, and I THINK we’re mostly on the road to recovery, I still hate these days. Trying to work from home, but I’m distracted. I’m cranky and restless. I want to send snarky text messages to him. I’ve even seriously considered waiting in the parking lot to spy on them. I still might do that someday. He says they don’t even look at each other, and I have no choice but to believe him. But I still hate these days. Thanks for letting me vent. Maybe time for a coffee… Hmmm, or maybe there’s still time to get there……………

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    1. Ramona - how did it go?

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    2. Iris - Nothing dramatic. I vented here and it helped a lot. Another meeting tomorrow, this time with cocktails to celebrate year-end. Trying to think of ways to take my mind off it. Times like this I wish I didn’t work alone from home and would welcome the distraction of co-workers. I believe him when he says nothing happens at these meetings, but they’re still there, and still get the better of me sometimes. It’s almost one year anniversary to boot and lots of things triggering me lately. I discovered the affair during devastating rains and flooding near our town last year. Now the springtime rains, lots of flood anniversary stories in the news and even sitting out on my deck again (where I cried gallons of tears last year) are all reminders of a very sad time. H is trying to be supportive but don't think he gets how much this stuff is affecting me. He mentioned recently that “sometimes rain=renewal” and I try to keep that in mind as we continue on this journey.

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    3. Ramona - cocktails? Why is that necessary (unless spouses invited)? I am Mrs Killjoy these days. My husband met the OW at an academic conference where they had salsa dancing after dinner - for heaven's sake. It was like drunk middle-aged speed mate-poaching.

      It takes a long time for these men (or women) to really get it. My h's therapist had to tell him that a good idea would be to ask me how I was feeling rather than wait for me to say, it was that basic. Repairing this takes more work than anyone realises.

      Trust that memory is mutable - your deck won't always be a sad place even at this season. You don't have to dwell in the pain of the past to resolve things, I tell myself. But thinking of the two of them in the same place, not good, as if whatever has happened since they might lose control of their faculties. You should not have to go through this nonsense, personally I think for a couple of years he should avoid these events entirely.

      Meanwhile we have a comedienne in the UK called Miranda Hart who to cheer herself up has 'fruit friends' - you might like to look that up when it occurs to you that you don't have any colleagues. Not only do you have someone to talk to when things are tough, if your office politics gets annoying you can always eat them. Beats cocktails any day.

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    4. Iris Cocktails – and from public educators no less. We had similar circumstances to you – conference in the mountains, but with cowboy gear and line dancing - LOL! The images are hilarious, esp. the salsa mate-poaching! Not sure about you, but looking back over parts of this past year do get me giggling, esp. recalling a few gag-inducing ‘fantasy’ e-mails that were exchanged. Ugh - did he really say that?? Oh, dear. Thank you for the much-needed laughs this morning. Miranda Hart is a hoot! Going out to buy some fresh friends – oops - I mean, FRUIT, today!!

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    5. Iris, Romana and others,
      I absolutely agree re. the cocktails, salsa dancing (!!), etc. I'm stunned at some of the social events that companies plan that don't include spouses. I suspect productivity would go up considerably if there weren't so many office affairs going on, thanks to connecting over "cocktails".
      I work from home and have seven pets (yep, seven) to keep me company. They're occasionally annoying (honestly, are you going out or staying in??) but mostly ideal office-mates. And good listeners.

      Elle

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    6. Iris! How can you suggest such a thing. (Though I suppose if I was really REALLY hungry and there was no more cheesecake left.)
      Reminds me of a story -- I was living in France for school but visiting a classmate's Italian family over Christmas. They lived on a farm and we spent the day playing with the bunnies. We sat down to dinner (you know where this is going, don't you?) and I asked what was on my plate (in a polite way). They spoke Italian and a bit of French. I spoke French and no Italian. So they mimed bunny ears. And I faked an upset stomach. I don't eat family pets. Not cute ones, anyway.

      Elle

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    7. I apologise, Elle and will make you a cheesecake.

      Romana - I know it's so painful and my heart aches for the women who write here every day, but sometimes this stuff IS farcical. We can think of these interludes as the gap in a Shakespeare tragedy where a Fool enters talking gibberish hilarious in the sixteenth century (apparently, reviews do not survive) and waving a pig's bladder on a stick. That Fool is our husband. He is not Romeo, he is certainly not Hamlet. However today you may want to be Portia, and he'd better hope the quality of your mercy is not strain'd.

      I'm v happy that Miranda made you laugh. We are in this together, not alone.

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    8. We are not alone, Iris, and I thank you for that. And Elle, too, for sharing your story and this site. And to all the women who have experienced similar journeys, for sharing their wisdom and strength and humor. I'm sitting on my deck just now (not crying). The week-long rain has finally stopped, and the sun is warm and delicious. I like to think it came out for me today, exactly one year post-discovery. I would not have believed then that a year later I would be in better place, happier, stronger, grateful, wiser. xo

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    9. Ramona,
      Yay you!! Once we finally get to where we can see even a slight light at the end of that proverbial tunnel, it's hard to trust that it's real. But hang on to this moment. And know that even with days that feel like you're right back at the beginning, you're not. That's you've come further than you realize. And that even with setbacks, you're moving yourself further toward healing.

      Elle

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  51. For all of us who are stuck, I have been reading the blog of Oriah Mountaindreamer, a poet/therapist/teacher-- she is a bit too mystical, hippie dippie for me. However, in reading her blog, it is instantly apparent that she is a betrayed spouse, and that she deals with the pain and grief, even years out. So it helps me feel better that even the most spiritual, insightful, and self aware people out there, is on a long journey of healing too.

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  52. Hey Elle, I'm back!
    The Depressed Pregnant one from back in February...Well, now I"m stuck.
    When all of this happened and really escalated back in Feb, About a week after I told my husband I forgave him, because I did. He told me it was done and over, he was seeking help, I forgave him for what he did and now it was time to move on... Well, it wasn't over. He was still saying his "goodbyes" to this other women. That hurt even more than initially finding out! I never told him I forgave him, I think he thinks it was implied. But I do. I forgave him for this other women, all the other perverted things he was doing, and they have stopped (to my knowledge).Well I had my baby in April, I am seeking help for addiction and have not smoked or drink or popped a pill! I did become a stay at home mom and I don't know if I'm just getting bored or what, because this past week I have felt he has been acting a little weird. So I did some snooping. The 3 email accounts he was using I have the info on, and I have done really well to not check them until this past week, and there were a few things but nothing to get upset about. Well, I went a little further and got into his Craigslist account where he was meeting these women, and there is a list of ALL the posts he has ever written..And they dated back not to august of 2013 like I had though, but to august of 2011...over 2 years!!! He never admitted to this before, he thinks I just knew about the recent ones... but now, over 2 years of lies and more women, through all of our infertility treatments he was trying to find some skank on the side!! We have still not had sex since february. It's been excuse after excuse with him. Between the Erectile Disfunction which no DR can figure out (they keep saying its in his head), when I was pregnant it was because the baby was too close, then he said he wanted to wait the 6 weeks after baby was born (even though I was ready at 3) and here I am, 9 weeks after baby was born and NOTHING! Before - I tried to initiate the intimacy all the time and now, I'm repulsed and I'm tired of all the excuses. What do I do? Should I confront him of all these other posts and women? Should I just bury it and move on? How do I go about having sex with this man again?

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    1. I'm glad you came back but sorry that you're still struggling. Congratulations, however, on your baby. And a HUGE congratulations on staying clean. That is really big and I hope you're acknowledging how great it is. Especially with the emotional turmoil you're in.
      Here's the thing: Healing from infidelity is only really possible when the cheating spouse comes completely clean and seeks help for himself to figure just what the hell he's doing and why he's risking his marriage and family. Given your addiction issues, I wouldn't be the least surprised to discover that he also has addiction issues -- perhaps to porn, perhaps to Internet chat rooms. I dunno. And that's for him to figure out.
      What you need to do is insist that he seek help for this. Tell him that you know he hasn't been honest with you. You don't need to divulge any secrets about how you found out. Just that you know he hasn't come clean. And that you simply can't remain in a relationship with him until he deals with the lies and the deception and the betrayals. It's impossible to be truly intimate with someone who's dishonest about who they are and what they're doing.
      Intimacy comes with trust. And you have no reason to trust him.
      I don't know much about ED but I would assume a guilty conscience, masturbation, etc. would certainly impact his ability to have sex with a long-term partner. He needs to tell you exactly what he's been doing and seek help.
      In the meantime, you need to not only stay clean but get some support in helping you through this time. A counsellor for each of you (and then a marriage counsellor once you feel really to rebuild and assuming he's showing you that he's worth a second chance) is also a really good idea.
      Put sex on the shelf until he's dealt with his demons. I'm sure you know there are ways to satisfy your own sexual desire without him...and I'm not referring to cheating!

      Elle

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    2. Anon, I had 4 Ddays until my H finally admitted to a physical affair, first it was sexting, then it was online dating sites, you get where I am going here.

      Well not long after DDay1 my husband began having ED issues, something which had never been an issue, not everytime I must admit but its amazing how this can hurt the partner to think they are not arousing their spouse, well my H freely admits he believes this issue was purely down to the fact that he was still hiding the affair from me, and he was worried that I was going to find out and this in turn affected our sex life or more so his ability to retain our sex life, since he has come clean and we have worked on our marriage we have no such issues, so I think a guilty conscience can definitely play a part in ED, whether he has come clean completely or not if he feels the guilt then it could be a reason for this issue

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  53. I wanted to share that I started a San Francisco BAN (Beyond Affairs Network) support group for betrayed spouses.
    contact: sanfranban@gmail.com

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  54. Elle,
    I got into it with my husband today (the dday 1st anniversary is this coming Monday). After some questioning from him, I admitted that I can not envision ever giving him all of me ever again. I have to protect myself. Finding out he cheated was a life crushing blow, one that has left me handicapped for the last year. Don't get me wrong, I don't (or try not to) play the victim, I am simply stating a fact. It has been crushing and I have needed every bit of counselling I have received just to have some sunlight shine on me again.
    The reason I am writing is that he is not sure if that is a deal breaker for him. He says he can feel my absenteeism and can't imagine what kind of life we will have together if I don't fully love or trust him again.
    I stood there numb, realising that he must now choose. Part of me is quivering, but an equal or greater part of me is screaming "I knew it." I knew he would leave me.

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    1. I completely understand your fear of recommitting to someone who shattered your heart. But I hope you can understand that a year, while it seems like a long time, is not so long in terms of healing. There were things I couldn't imagine at year one that I now live daily. Joy, forgiveness, compassion. The recognition that pain doesn't last forever.
      Each of you is tentatively taking steps toward each other. You won't do it at the same speed. You, in particular, have a lot of fear that he can't understand. His fear, however, is that you never will be able to forgive him. So each of you is operating from a place of fear...which is never a good starting point.
      If you choose to continue rebuilding, you need to recognize that it takes a really long time to move past all those "I knew it..." moments. You're almost holding your breath waiting for him to abandon you again. It take a huge leap of faith of give someone another chance when they've made such a mess of the first. But if that's what you choose, then you need to close your eyes and jump. It doesn't mean being blind or naive but it does mean trusting that no matter what happens, you'll be fine.

      Elle

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  55. Dear Elle, You have so much insight and hope for your advise. My husband cheated on me against his character. He was able to stop his cheating within a few months after starting the physical affairs with two different women. I never knew they had happened until 1,5 years after he stopped. I was crushed and did not know if I was a fool for staying as he had not wanted to have sex with me for 7 years prior to my finding out (maybe once a year, but that is almost the same). I loved him and wanted to make our marriage work, but he never wanted to work on it... and on top he cheated on me.
    We have been to MC, we are reading books together, but he just wants to live and let live. I believe him when he tells me that he doesnt want to go there again, but I dont believe that it is within his control before he has sorted out the reasons why he could withhold sex and intimacy for 7 years ... and then give it to strangers. I cannot force him to look into his own soul, but is it worth the risk for me, if he doesnt do it? I am so scared.

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    1. I don't blame you for being scared. Your husband is asking you to accept his word even though he has lied to you in the past and has done nothing to examine why he lied to you. It's tempting, of course, to "live and let live." It seems like a way to simply leave the past in the past and move forward. But without an understanding of why he cheated, he's ill-equipped to ensure he doesn't do it again. What's more, the seven years of withholding sex from you, and then cheating outside his marriage indicates that there's plenty he needs to figure out -- physically and emotionally.
      I would insist that he seek therapy, individually and with you in couples counselling, before you consider reconciliation with him. You need some sort of indication that he's willing to the hard work of self-examination to ensure he doesn't betray you again. What's more, in order to have physical intimacy, there are clearly some things that need discussion in a safe environment with and experienced therapist.

      Elle

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    2. I will echo what Elle said.
      I really feel sad when I hear of cheating spouses who fail to go to the root of their behavior. Even the ones who fess up, agree to transparency, honesty, etc, and go through all the motions and "to dos" of recovery but fail to take a deep hard look at WHY. This behavior is deep. Even if he stops cheating, chances are, deception, secrecy, selfishness, and self loathing lay within and emerge in other ways. Cheating is just the tip of the iceberg. I hope more betrayed wives can see beyond just getting him to stop and expect that work to fix what is broken within himself. I believe that alot of times, some of our confusion and pain has to do with whether we believe he can or will go deep and strip away the lies he has been telling himself for his whole life. I hope we all can find the strength to not settle for less.

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  56. Feeling stuck... That is exactly where I am at. After almost 2 years of lies and betrayal, I want to let go but for some reason can't. We have been together for 22 years. I went to school and got a career while he supported me and worked. Then he lost his job and stayed home with our 3 kids while I worked. Our intention was for him to go to school part time and stay home with our kids. Instead he decided to hang out with his deadbeat friends on a daily basis, until early hours of morning. I work night shift, so I made it convenient for him. Then he would rush home lay in bed and pretend to be home then take our kids to school. Did I mention that he dragged my kids along? I was feeling resentment for his going out and that lead to us fighting constantly. Then it happened, things weren't adding up. This kids would tell me that daddy's friend was going with them to the movies, mall and even helping to pick out their Halloween costumes. For some random reason it hit me and I looked up his phone bill. There it was, calls were placed some days there were 20 calls placed. I confronted him and he denied that it was a physical affair. They were friends and that was all. I received the "trickle truth" for two years. I found out and kicked him out. Then he would call and try to work it out and then I found out they were talking again 5 or 6 months later. This has been going on for 2 years with this roller coaster ride happening. I'm tired. I want off.
    I just found out after two years that it truly was a physical affair but of course I already knew that. I just wanted him to finally admit it. Currently, he is out of the house but of course professes his love and wants to work it out. While still seeing the OW and I am sure professing his love to her too. I just don't understand. How could I be so blind. We have been together for 22 years and I am looking at a stranger. I feel like he has two personalities.
    Did I mention that the OW is married and has 3 children under the age of 6 and still lives with her husband? Apparently, they are co parenting and are separated spiritually. Her children were shipped off to her parents for babysitting until just recently because she apparently couldn't juggle the duties of motherhood, working and going out with my husband.
    Yes, I'm stuck. I don't understand how someone who was so respected and had such high morals and values became this person. This lying, cheating and manipulative jerk. How I could have chosen this person the be the father of my children?
    Thank you for letting me rant...after 2 years I'm tired of hearing myself and I am sure my friend are too.

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    1. Ugh. I feel your pain...and disgust.
      I would start by putting an end to his wavering between the two of you. If he's remotely interested in rebuilding his family (and you are too), then he needs to have absolutely no contact with this woman. You two need to get yourselves to counselling and get to work figuring out what's behind this total personality shift. It might be depression. It might be addiction. Who knows? But it's time to figure it out. I would also be sure to let her husband know what's going on. I wouldn't buy the open marriage stuff. Might be true, but might not. And if it's not, he deserves to know what's going on.
      Finally, if you're ready to move forward without him (and frankly, nobody would blame you if you were), then it's time to draw up a separation agreement so that you can truly get clear on his role in your life. Right now, his fence-sitting is only serving himself and nobody else. Time to kick him off. Read about the 180 -- it's a great way to make your boundaries very clear and protect yourself from his waffling: http://beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com/the-180/

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  57. I feel stuck. It has only been 3 months since I have found out about the other women. She is gone, and i'm thankful for that. How and when do you really feeling like you're really enough? I feel like if I was really enough to begin with this wouldn't have happened in the first place. How do you get over feeling so stupid that you didn't figure it out sooner. I feel like maybe i'm making a bigger deal out of it than I should be because it was all over the phone, and internet. He did drive to meet her at the airport, where she didn't show up, and all the details of her flight didn't exist. Where it finally hit him, that this was really, and he couldn't take it back. I found out two days later, because I had a strong feeling something was going on. He had contact with her for the next five weeks until I literally was done. He emailed her with me sitting there, and she immediately emailed me. We went back and forth for a couple of days, where I was as nice as pie, on purpose, because I wanted her to feel guilty like he did. She showed her true colors, and he finally figured out, She is not what he thought she was. Am I making a bigger deal out of this than what I should be, it's an affair right? I have panic attacks, and I just feel weak! I just don't know what to do, I feel stuck, and I just want to move on without feeling crazy and paranoid. How do you trust again, when you don't ever want to feel that kind of pain again?

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    1. Yes, it was an affair. It was a breach of trust in which he shared himself emotionally and privately with another person without your knowledge or consent. That's an affair.
      It's still pretty raw for you. Three months out might seem long but it's a tiny blip on the healing trajectory.
      I would urge you to stop the "why wasn't I enough" dialogue in your head. This had nothing to do with you. It sounds crazy but it's standard "affair" knowledge. Affairs are about fantasy and escape. You are real. He got caught up in the idea of escaping his day-to-day life. It's important in terms of healing your marriage for him to seek help figuring out why he was willing to risk his marriage for this fantasy. What feelings was he escaping? What about his life felt meaningless?
      While he's doing that, please keep reading on this site and others (there are also great books, including Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass and After the Affair by Janis Abrams Spring), particularly about how to heal yourself. The question isn't "what's wrong with me?", it's "what's wrong with him?"
      With time and work by both of you, you can rebuild a healthy strong marriage, sometimes even better for the storm it's weathered.

      Elle

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    2. Thanks Elle! It's just one of those days! I'm going to work on stopping the I'm not enough dialog in my head. We have been reading After the Affair, i'm on my last 50 pages. It has helped both of us. I'll pick up the other book today. After having both kids, we didn't know how to be us. We lost ourselves, everything revolved around our two beautiful kids. He felt that this was it, didn't like the way our relationship was, but didn't put the effort into trying to fix it. I tried fixing it, but I became frustrated because he wasn't trying. Then she came into the picture she was fun, they could dream about what they could be together. He didn't think I was fun or exciting anymore. I was day to day reality, and she was a fun fantasy. We have had some heated fights, where little by little everything has been put on the table. It's getting better, we have date nights now, we have started planning one weekend away each month, we do more family outings together. He finally said out loud and all on his own, that he didn't realize our relationship could be this great, and that he only needs me. In three months that's pretty good progress. We will be working on our relationship for the rest of our lives. I know that trust will come one day, but it's so tiring trying to convince myself that he still isn't lying. I think that is probably the dialog in my head that I need to work on.

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  58. Hello Everyone. I found out about my husband's affair about 8 months ago. We'd been married for 12 years, together for 15. Two children. So many stressful life situations that I can't even count. Looking back, and with the help of therapy, we realized that we were just going through the motions. I was thinking things would eventually just get better, while he was thinking they were getting worse. His excuse is that he thought he'd already lost me, that if he had known that I was still in love with him it never would have happened. While I realize that is just an excuse, I admit that I didn't know whether or not I still loved him myself. There was no communication between us whatsoever, and when there was we only fought. He started seeing a married woman he met through work. I know this sounds weird, but I'm sure if it hadn't happened, we would not be together today. It brought out a lot of issues, and forced us to communicate in a way that we hadn't in years. We are well on the road to recovery, but I'm looking for some advice. I can't seem to let it go. I am constantly doubting everything he says (he lied sooo much then, and I had trusted him so completely). I try to explain to him how much insecurity this is causing me to have now. He's been very good about taking his lumps, and really trying to make it up to me, however, he says I can't keep bringing it up if I want to move forward. I only bring it up if I feel like I have reason to be suspicious, and I question him. I explained that before, when I was suspicious, I didn't follow through, and now regret it. I guess I'm curious how other wives have managed to stop focusing on it or bringing it up. Of course, it doesn't help that her husband kicked her out, and she is now living in an apartment across the street from my office. It's hard to forget when I have to see her every day...

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    1. Anonymous,
      I'm so sorry for what you've gone through. You're already discovering that an affair, though excruciating, can sometimes usher in a "new" relationship. Too bad so many of us have to gain that the hard way.
      In any case, eight months is pretty new in terms of you assimilating this new information. It makes complete sense that you would still want to double-check things or challenge his version of events in order to rebuild trust. It is hard, and some guys accuse us of "holding onto the past" or "not moving forward". Thing is...this is how we move forward. We learn to trust by checking on those doubts of ours. We learn to trust by learning, over and over, that he is where he says he is, with whom he says he's with. It can bring up a lot of guilt and shame in our spouse. But it's really the only way for you to begin to feel like you're back on solid ground.
      Is there a way you can phrase it that doesn't, perhaps, trigger his frustration? Can you two figure out a strategy whereby he reassures you or gives you access to any info before you get suspicious? It's important, when so many of us ignored those gut feelings, that we're able to tune into our instincts and trust them, even if, at least at first, they're misfiring out of fear.

      Elle

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  59. Thank you! Yes, I think I can explain appropriately that every time I'm checking, it is also building trust. Perfect example - He had to go back to work two evenings ago to finish some things up, and I was thinking, this is exactly the thing he would do before, when he was meeting her. He did tell me to come visit him if I got bored (in the past I wouldn't have bothered, wanting to just have some time alone). I waited a half an hour, and went to see him. He was doing exactly what he said he was doing, and I was happy that not only was he telling the truth, but that I didn't sit home and wonder and stew about it. He knew I was checking on him, but he wasn't upset. I get nagging doubts, which is just the devil on my shoulder, I'm sure, but they are hard to discount. Every time I am shown that he is trustful, it helps! Thank you for your perfect advice...

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  60. I have posted about my husband's long term contact with the OW and the two affairs they had. We have been talking about my continuous suspicions when he does things like changing his email password, as he did this week. We are both reading 'How Can I Ever Trust You Again' on a section by section basis and trying to talk about each part calmly. It does identify reason for adultery and deceit which strike a chord. As he put it 'I was awake most of the other night with it going round my head'. I did point out that that is what I have been feeling for the last year and a bit. I do think he is finally realising the extent of the feeling of betrayal that I have and that his excuse of 'it was just sex' doesn't stand up to eighteen years of contact. I am still confused and in pain but hope things can get better.

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    1. I hope he will come to an understanding of just how deeply betrayal hurts us and affects our ability to trust, not just him but anyone.
      As for the password change, he needs to recognize that you need access to his formerly "private" domains in order to check in. People with nothing to hide, hide nothing.

      Elle

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  61. Loving a 12-Year Old Fantasy
    I found out about a month and a half ago that my husband was having an affair. We've been married for 6 years, been together for 9 years. About a year ago, an old flame of his emailed him and wanted closure from relationship that happened 12 years ago. My husband actually told me that she emailed at that time and asked if it would be alright with me if he went ahead and gave her that closure (through email). Stupidly, I said that I didn't feel comfortable with the situation, but that I trusted him. Oh my goodness, how stupid! Every few months, I kept checking in on him and seeing how the "closure" by email was going. He would say fine and then instantly change the subject. It didn't hit me until about a month ago that something else was really up.

    To add more intrigue to this story, she - the OW - is married and has two children. She also lives in a different state, but frequently travels back to the state we live in because she has family here. My husband and I have no children. It floors me, to this day, why she feels so strongly that she needed closure. Why? Why would you do this to yourself, your husband and your two little kids to say nothing of myself? I'm sorry, but I just don't buy the closure bit either.

    Once the two of them had "gained closure" from this relationship from 12 years ago, they find out that they still are very much in love with each other. And so begins more intimate emails. Secret meetings when she's in town. The whole 9 yards.

    One night, in the middle of the night, I was laying awake and it hit me, "Hmmmm...I wonder what's really going on with the two of them?" I knew my WH would not tell me the truth. I just knew it. I would ask and he would say, "Oh its all fine" and then he would instantly change the subject. So instead, I decided to sleuth on my own. I did what I probably should not have done and I read his journal. It's crazy that my husband keeps a journal, but he is an artistic type. I found out exactly what was going on, had been going on and how he felt about her and continues to feel about her. He loves her and thinks she is an incredible woman. And its all written down there in black and white.

    I confronted him with this. Didn't and never will tell him that I read his journal to get the info, but I confronted him about her and little by little the truth has finally all come out. It's been very hard because at first he wouldn't admit to anything. Then he admitted to a few things. Then he admitted to loving her. And finally he admitted to secretly meeting with her and everything that we know that entails. And yet, this whole time, I've known the whole truth because I read the journal. So I've been probing because I want him to know that I know it all now.

    It's hard because even though he has ultimately picked to stay with me, move forward and build a stronger relationship, he still loves her and he has told me that he wants what we have with her! But since he can't have both he picks me over her!

    I read her awful mommy blog (the OW) and it just crushes me to know that she hasn't confessed the full truth to her husband and thus is not living with the same awful pain and hurt that I'm going through. Honestly, how do you do that to someone and still live with yourself at the end of the day? Face your husband and kids?

    I have kept wondering and wondering what in the world this woman has that I don't and after reading so many articles on this site, I have finally found out that what she's got, I don't want. And that is so comforting! Thank you!

    It's still harder than ever to keep on keeping on, but I turn to this site for daily doses of comfort when the pain of this entire situation closes in on me.

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    1. My husband's affair was with his relationship from before he was with me. I think it was an attempt to return to the days without responsibilities of a wife and child - it made him feel he wasn't getting older. As to wanting 'closure' the OW never really got over 'losing him' to me so he used this to keep contacting her and having an secret relationship, including sex, over many years. She is married but has no children. She has nothing I don't have (except a gastric band and a hip replacement), she just provided a fantasy escape which damaged my marriage incredibly over a long time. I used to wonder why our communication was getting worse, not talking, snapping at each other in private and in public, little if no sex etc. and I blamed myself for being too wrapped up in my very demanding work and looking after our daughter whilst he obsessed over his hobbies. In some way, although I know I did play a part in the problem, I now actually feel that some of my imagined 'what did I do wrong?' has been lifted as the reason for the deterioration has been discovered.

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    2. I'm so glad you shared your story. Women who knowingly sleep with married men are toxic. To think she has a "mommy blog" when she's betraying her children's father shows just how hypocritical she is. You're right -- what she's got, you don't want.
      Frankly, I think you should tell her husband. He deserves to know who he's married to. I think sometimes we hesitate because if he kicks her out, she's on the market and we wonder if our spouse will pick her. But if all that's stopping him is her wedding ring, then it's a matter of time anyway.
      I also think you should seek counselling, if you haven't already, to determine just what you want going forward. You get to determine the path of healing and if your husband wants a rebuilt marriage with you, then he needs to do some serious soul-searching about why he betrayed you and how he's going to ensure he doesn't do that to you again. You don't deserve this. And all the "still in love" bullshit is just that. There's a reason they broke up and that he married you. It's easy to forget all that when we're caught up in the humdrum of a "normal" life.
      Please stop reading her blog -- she's nothing to you. And I'm glad you're getting comfort here. But take some time to determine just what you want moving forward. I don't think it's to be someone's consolation prize.

      Elle

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  62. Loving a 12-Year Old Fantasy (cont)

    I should add that my WH still wants this woman in his life. He has broken off contact with her for now, but says that he doesn't know if he can live without having some sort of contact with her in the future (its only been 1.5 months, so I'm still trying to give it time). According to him, this woman has always been there in the back of his mind. Always.

    I feel so un-special. My love doesn't even feel like it holds a candle to that kind of hold. The thing is too, I never thought I was such a "consolation prize." I am self employed, I'm fairly pretty (I'm not a beauty queen by any stretch, but I've got great style and such), I took on ownership of a brick and mortar store 6 months ago and have a very successful online store and presence, and I'm an all around pretty great gal personally and I felt like I had so much to offer someone - HIM! And then he turns around and looks the other way when I need him most. And with someone who, to be honest, isn't that all that great. She's made her choice in life and yet, she turns to my husband after 12 years for comfort. And she's definitely not ANYTHING to write home about. She's incredibly manipulative and he doesn't see it AT ALL! And I've thought that my husband was fairly intelligent. She claims to have been raped all those years ago (by someone else) and that's why things didn't work out between her and my husband! Rape is a horrible thing and something I would never wish on anyone, but using that to manipulate someone else so that you can have him in your life again and get him to love you again - defies logic! And yet, my husband doesn't see this at all! He is hurt and outraged that anyone could rape her (and I say this because I absolutely do not believe that she was raped!)!

    Honestly, I don't know what to do. Most days, most moments, I just want to run away. Run far far away and never look back. This is one of the most incredibly painful things I have ever gone through. There is so much hurt that seems like it will never, ever go away and most days I feel like I will never, ever get over this - even through this.

    Thanks again Elle for giving us a forum and help-line for all of this. Means so much.

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  63. Anon -

    I am speechless.

    In my opinion her husband needs to know. I expect you worry if you do that it will all come crashing down and he will leave her, creating a vacancy. But frankly if they were that much 'in love' they would have come clean and decently ended their relationships to be with each other.

    Which is why I suspect it is a fantasy.

    For some artistic types lost love, unobtainable love, love realised only in death (yada yada bring on the Wagner) is the only real love. It is ultimately narcissistic and immature.

    Please 'close the bakery' and tell your husband you are not going to be the consolation prize for the loss of an adolescent fantasy. Insist that he gets into therapy pronto to find out what's wrong with him. Otherwise - look after yourself anon. Be the best friend you ever had. Find good people to talk to. You deserve to be loved and cherished.

    Be tough with him. Put on the lights and pull back the curtain and tell him to get off the stage.

    How I loathe smug mommy blogs. Sneak in a link and we can comment that we don't like her knitted ego and matching scatter brains.

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  64. Am I stuck or is he stuck?

    I need to go back and look through more posts. DD was July 2013, and this year has made me re-evaluate everything. Who am I? Who is he? My big question now is really want is marriage and what does it mean?

    am kicking a dead horse. But I feel like I am in a better place.
    fWH admits he had been acting like a dick the last couple years. I thought everything was normal ok in our life. Looking back now, he was also acting cocky. I am guessing it was the extra attention...

    Part of my issue, I can't give him all of that. Or at least I hadn't in the last couple years... There is only so much I can do/give with having working full time, being a mom, etc. It wasn't like I was taking 100% better care of "me" either. I am 100% stubborn and have an issue withe being right all the time. And have to work on listening.

    I don't think he is lying to me when he says he 100% remorse what he did. I think it shook him to the core on how much his decisions/actions hurt me.

    Life got to me in February, and we haven't been back to MC. Then again during that time, he hasn't been to IC either. (His IC had moved and he hadn't found a new one.) We have an appt on Tuesday.

    Part of my issue now is still just him saying "digging deeper into himself" doesn't really reassure me on finding out the how and the why. Or how him just saying it won't happen again really tells me that it won't happen again. I guess it still gets to me being reassured and knowing if he is really fixing the issues inside of him. Any sort of conflict, he shuts down.

    The codependency issues...
    He can't tell anyone no. Example, I texted him this morning to see if the kids made it to VBS ok. He said he would have made it in plenty of time, but the house painter stopped by. (This happened on Monday too.) The painter started talking to him and fWH just won't say "Sorry, I have to go..." He was barely there on time.

    Or telling someone, "we will see" when he knows his answer is "no".

    How am I supposed to know what he really thinks in his relationship with me? Not just saying things to make me happy when he is miserable. He says he will be happy when I am happy again... It is just one bad circle...

    I am more positive since realizing that he has started to change, but is that enough? I am also more positive that I can trust him that he is not seeing her anymore and has remained NC. (They did work together, but are now on opposite shifts. This summer he has the kids on every day off.)

    Not saying that I will EVER forgive or forget his actions... I don't know if saying that I will forgive him as he is still now is really even a good thing.

    I don't know if it "right" to hing the ability to forgive also to the actions of "fixing himself".

    I guess my feeling is that he has to fix himself to move forward...

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    1. That's exactly right. He does need to "fix himself" or you should "move forward". He's got a lot of work to do and, if he's doing it, I suspect you'll start seeing the change you want. If you don't see it, then either his therapist isn't right for him or he's not doing the hard work of really getting clear on his issues.
      If he does "fix himself" and you still want to rebuild your marriage with him, it can, in fact, be better than it was. And at that point, forgiving and forgetting comes a whole lot easier.

      Elle

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  65. It's true. You definitely don't want what she's got. You have morals & a conscience. She doesn't have anything over you. It's not her; it's her role. She's a fantasy. You are reality. She represents the excitement of secret rendezvous while you represent the real world of responsibility. That's why many men have affairs (like my own husband) around the time of childbirth-- as a means of escape from the sense of overwhelming reaponsibilty.

    That is why only 3% of relationships based on affairs survive. They really only want to be together when it's forbidden. Once the affair partners start a real relationship it just turns into more of the same & they realize they don't actually want each other as husband & wife.

    He chose YOU. She just made herself available.

    Sam

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  66. "Feeling stuck" is exactly the right phrase for how I’m feeling right now.

    We’re doing SO well overall. It has been over 2 years since D-Day (and see, I’m not counting the months any more!). My husband has done everything he can and should to help us get through this, and all along I’ve believed we’re both working towards a better present and future. I feel good about us now and in the future.

    The problem has to do with dwelling on the past. I know, that’s nothing new.

    But it’s so vague. I don’t often dwell any more on what he did with her. I just have this vague and pervasive feeling of sadness and some kind of … wish to DO something, to talk about something, to go over the details. But there’s really nothing left to go over. He has told me everything. He has answered my questions over and over again, as patiently as a person could ever be expected to do. He wants to leave it behind, and frankly, I agree with him. Neither of us thinks we should never discuss it. Neither of us thinks we should sweep it under the rug. But for real healing to happen, I know I need to let it go. And I just can’t.

    Lately I dwell a lot on how confused and worried I was when the affair was going on, but I didn’t know about it. I sensed something was wrong, I worried that he was too close to her, but I couldn’t let myself believe it. When I tried to ask him if anything was going on, he didn’t answer. He let me think I was crazy. And he was generally impatient and unkind to me, which he had never done before and has not done since. I know – classic. He has apologized frequently for all of that. I’ve come to forgive him for it. But I’m still sad for the person I was then.

    I’m not angry at him any more. I’m sad, but not the way I was for the first year and longer. I barely ever cry any more. I don’t even dwell on it for very long. But I constantly come back to it in my thoughts, and I have a hard time not letting him know that’s what I’m thinking about.

    I AM still angry with her. I knew her and she spent time with me. She had been betrayed in a former marriage. She knew what she was doing to me. And I’ve never had a chance to confront her. So there’s this anger that I can’t do anything about. It has faded, but it’s still there.

    So I have these residual issues that I can’t really do anything about. I just need to take the time to let them fade further into the past.

    I’m afraid my continued dwelling and sadness will hurt our relationship. I’m afraid it will poison things and make it impossible for us to live a normal, happy life. He continues to be patient, but at this point I would understand if he lost that patience. How long can a person go on with this hanging over his head, without starting to feel frustrated?

    I’m wondering if the best thing for me to do right now is to give myself some time and space each day to let myself feel sad, by myself, and then do my best not to let that spill over into our marriage. I’ve never believed in suppressing my feelings on this, and I’ve told him that all along. And I still don’t think that’s the right thing to do. But that doesn’t mean I need to mope and make him feel bad all the time, when he’s done everything he can to make me feel better and there’s nothing he can do to change the past.

    Does anyone have any advice on this? Any practical solutions to dealing with the pain that’s left without letting it hurt a marriage that has all the love and promise one could ask for? I know I need to take care of myself; I'm not forgetting that. But I also need to be good to US.

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    1. mountainsailing,
      I think you've hit on exactly what you need to do -- take some time each day to grieve the loss of the person you were and the relationship you thought you had. It helped me to write in a journal -- to get it all out on the page. Write a letter to the OW that you either send (since you knew her) or burn/shred/etc or just tuck away.
      You're on your way to healing. It's not at all uncommon to stumble over these other things that emerge once the main explosion has been dealt with. His betrayal has changed you. But you can also get to a place where you celebrate and appreciate that change. The wisdom you've gained. Perhaps even the deeper trust you now have in yourself. You're an amazing person who has survived something excruciating. It makes you a member of the club no-one wants to join. But it also allows you to recognize and respond to that pain in others. You've offered comfort on this site, for example. That's a gift you're able to give others.
      Hang in there, mountainsailing. You're going to be just fine.

      Elle

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    2. I have been trying this:

      I am choosing one day a month to talk about it (if I need), ask questions about it (if I need), be snarky and sarcastic about it (if I need), or, to just keep that day as a "I'll deal with it then" day. My husband knows that day is coming each month, and I'm sure he probably secretly dreads it, but, hey, it keeps me from dwelling on it the other 29 or 30 days of the month.

      Basically, I have a little deal with myself and with him: I talk about it on the 24th of each month - if I have not raised the issue "just because" during the other days of the month. (If something big was happening, I, of course, can talk about or ask questions whenever I want.)

      But this helps me to let the more fleeting type of little issues go, knowing I can deal with it later. For example, if I see a car like she drives and want to say a snarky comment, I'll let it pass and think to myself "bring it up on the 24th" if it's still bugging me. And really, 20 days later, it usually isn't something that I need to bring up. If it does feel like something I do want to talk about, I have even written it down, just to keep it for "the day" to talk about it.

      This month I might not actually have to bring anything up about it : )

      I know this sounds silly, but it's one way I have found to deal with those little vauge feelings that just sometime seem to ruin perfectly good days.

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  67. I'm so sorry you're going through this, too.

    "It's hard because even though he has ultimately picked to stay with me, move forward and build a stronger relationship, he still loves her and he has told me that he wants what we have with her! But since he can't have both he picks me over her!"

    I suspect -- and really, really hope -- this is just "the fog" that so many people in affairs experience. If so, it will fade over time and your husband will realize that wasn't a real feeling of love, but rather the infatuation that most people feel when they first "fall in love." That infatuation can't and doesn't last, especially when, as in an affair, the relationship isn't based on real life.

    When my husband told me about the affair, it had been on hiatus for a couple of weeks and he had had some time to think about it. So he was much more rational than he would have been when in the midst if the affair, and yet told me he still "had feelings for her." That dissipated over the next several weeks. Some time later when I asked, he said he no longer had these feelings, and now saw the whole thing for the confused state that it was.

    I hope, and really I'm almost certain, that's the case with your husband, too.

    Hang in there.

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  68. It'd been almost 6 months for me since the D-Day.
    As compared to the first 3 months whereby I've frequent outbursts, I'm now more of in control of my emotions.
    At times, unexpected triggers occur and my outbursts happens about once 1-2 weeks.

    I'm not sure whether anyone experienced this. I found myself constantly (unintentionally) give sarcastic comments to my husband that "reminds" him of his affair. At times, he will question me why do I keep wanting to say things to make myself upset. But I find that I become upset more of him wanting me to stop these comments and feel that he don't want to be reminded of what had happened.

    I shared my thoughts with him but he denied and insisted that he's more concerned about me getting upset all over again when I constantly talk about it.

    It seems like a vicious cycle. Anyone has the same experience? I did try to hold my tongue sometimes but words just come out

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    1. Picking Up,
      I'm the queen of the sarcastic comment -- or I WAS the queen. I didn't like myself when I did it. It was passive-aggressive and filled him with shame. I felt momentarily powerful when I would see that look on his face -- hurt and shame and anger -- and then I would feel low and mean.
      Try and bite your tongue. I know it's hard. But it's not taking you where you want to go. It's emotionally abusive. Even if he sorta deserves it, you don't want to be that person. When you have said something, try and apologize quickly and honestly. A simple, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that," will suffice.
      It's really your hurt coming out as passive-aggressiveness. I wonder if you were able to express your hurt and fear more often, you might not resort to sarcasm.

      Elle

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  69. I still have many questions left unanswered. As none of my family/friends know, I'm not able to get a neutral opinion. I know some of the questions may not help in the road to recovery, but I still hope that I can get some comments here to see whether I'm having a biased thought.
    Note: My husband had the affair while working in a foreign land.

    1. Did the OW schemed to hook up my husband?
    I asked my husband how did the affair started and understand it evolved from 1:1 WeChat messaging. My husband admitted "proclaiming" to the OW that if he's not married, he may consider wooing her. He told me the OW did not reject him but told him "What's the use of telling me now as you're married"? Then the messaging continued....
    Hence I asked my husband how did the 1:1 messaging came about as he usually talk to his co--workers in Group Chat instead. After some hard recall, he told me it should had started when he messaged her to check on whether she had reached home safely after a department drinks/dinner. So I asked my husband why did he not asked in Group Chat. He said the OW told him that she felt giddy after some drinks and that as no one else seem to know she felt unwell, he just sent her a 1:1 message to avoid embarrassing her.
    Maybe I'm conservative/biased. But if you're a female thinking you may be getting drunk, will you be telling your male co-worker on that when there are so many closer female co-workers around?

    2. Did she intentionally plan for my husband to bring her up to his apartment?
    The OW went up to the apartment once after a movie date with my husband. My husband insisted that he invited her up that time with no ulterior motive apart from "touring" the apartment. So I asked my husband how did their dates (and eventually sex) ended up in the apartment instead as he told me that it started out with dinner dates with plain chit-chatting. He told me that she commented on afraid of bumping into people. As he did not know many places, he suggested going up to the apartment then and the OW agreed.

    3. Did the OW plan to have sex with my husband to further the relationship?
    My husband told me he did not imagine that the whole affair will become a sexual relationship. He just thought of finding someone to chit-chat and maybe have dinner/movie while he's alone in the foreign land. Now I know that thought itself is wrong, but to me at least it's not sexual. So they started to kiss in the apartment after 1- 2 times the OW start going up the apartment. My husband did touch her a bit (her breast) but did not go further. . My husband at times mentioned that they must not have sexSo I asked how did they eventually ended up on the bed then? He said that the OW suggested going to the spare bedroom to kiss and touch. In the end he ejaculated on her body for the first time. Shortly a few days later, the OW went up again and this time told my husband that she wanted to know how does sex feels (she's a virgin). My husband repeatedly asked her whether she's sure about it and she said ok. But that time, sex was unsuccessful as my husband felt guilty towards me and was not able to perform. Another few days later, the OW visited my husband again before flying back home for 2 weeks. This time, it happened.

    4. Is she really a virgin?
    My husband told me that he did suspect it not being her first time as there was no bleeding. But we know that scientifically, it's possible for a woman to be one without bleeding. What is strange is that when my husband commented that to her, she told my husband when she's back home that she found bleeding. Also, when I demanded my husband to call her when did they first have sex, she gave a wrong date (as it was the night my husband flew back home). Being an Asian gal, I'd think that she'd be more sensitive to the date if it's really her first time?

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  70. Hello,
    I would like to share my story as I need some help coping. I found out my husband was having an affair in September 2013 with my Best Friend. I don't want to go over all the details, but you can imagine how horrible it is when the 2 people in the world you trust the most tear your world apart. My husband and I are working through things and we are doing really good, stronger than ever! But I still have such hatred for her and I hate giving her that power over me. It is so hard sometimes to move on and forget as we live in the same small town and our 9 year old children are best friends and are in the same class. I see her at school, hockey, etc. Sometimes I just want to move away from it all as it seems to be the only way I will be able to move on and forget. But why should I have to move out of the town I love? I didn't do anything wrong. It has been 10 months, and I still feel anxiety everytime I know I will be seeing her. I do wish she would die, it would make things so much easier. I guess I just feel stuck, while it seems she is moving on. We all shared the same group of friends, but they don't know what happened, that is also hard. I keep looking for books or anything concerning how to get past your best friend doing this to you, but I have yet to find a magic solution or book to help me. Why can't I just forget her and make her not matter anymore.... I feel I am still giving her power to ruin my marriage, how do I stop this??

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    1. Ugh! To be betrayed by your husband with your best friend is about the worst scenario, isn't it? Two people you trusted. Boggles the mind.
      And to have constant contact with her must be excruciating. I give you huge kudos for allowing your child to continue his/her friendship. That's incredible strength.
      I suspect, given that you're going to continue to have contact with this woman, is to practice what the Buddhists call "loving kindness". It's basically radical compassion for even those people (especially those people) who don't really deserve it. It's a way of recognizing that by betraying her best friend, she betrayed herself. She abandoned any integrity. And you can feel compassion for someone who is in so much emotional turmoil that they lost their moral compass. And she has to live with that. By acknowledging that, really extending compassion to her (in theory, anyway), you free yourself from that hatred and anger. You accept her as just another flawed human being, stumbling through life. And, with time, you'll stop giving her any power over you. It sounds counter-intuitive, but I swear it works. I began doing that with my husband's OW -- his assistant to whom I'd opened my door and extended my hand. It was only when I could see her as someone who needed compassion (I knew I would rather be me than her, by a long shot), I was able to let go of the hate.

      Elle

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    2. Ok Elle. I am trying to follow the Buddhist path as I see it as the only way for me--in theory, anyway ;) . What allowed you to make it a part of you and not just a "should." I truly believe in the principles of loving kindness practice but right now, I want retribution and feel little compassion (just barely because her child was seriously maimed in a car accident due to her negligence). I felt it deeply early on but as time as gone by, I am more bitter and pissed off. So how do I find it again? Meditation? A buddhist teacher? Time?

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  71. Dear Anon - how would it be if people - even a couple of people who know both of you - did know what happened?

    When this happened to a friend of mine involving a close family friend of long-standing my friend told mutual acquaintances why the two couples would no longer be socialising. She wondered what reasons they'd think up for a sudden split and she preferred to be honest. It did mean that she had a lot of support from those around her, rather as if there had been a bereavement. And many of us were able to support her and her husband when we saw how remorseful he was and how hard he worked to understand his behaviour and make amends. There will always be casualties as far as friendships go when betrayals like this happen, but asking for help is one way of finding out who your real friends are.

    Make sure you're not isolated. Remember these were your husband's choices, they don't reflect poorly on you. I know it can feel as if they do.

    As for the best friend - there can hardly be a worse betrayal of trust, we expect so much more from the friends we share our lives with as mothers. I would hate her too. But hate is such a heavy burden for you to carry. It doesn't help that there's a commonly held idea that somehow only the partner is to blame, as if we shouldn't have anger toward someone who has violated our boundaries in the worst possible way - in your case she knows intimately the children who will suffer through her behaviour. We're supposed to be somehow 'dignified' about this.

    One of the five precepts of mindfulness is helpful here (and mindfulness generally can be very helpful - as someone who breaks the other precepts by drinking alcohol, eating meat and killing clothes moths, so don't worry about MY spiritual superiority). This is by a lovely man, a Buddhist monk called Thich Nhat Hanh:

    'Sexual expression should not take place without love and commitment. Be fully aware of the sufferings you may cause others as a result of your misconduct. To preserve the happiness of yourself and others, respect the rights and commitments of others.

    It is quite clear. This is not just Buddhist; it is universal. It is the right medicine for our illness. When we and our children take the precepts, it means we accept the medicine to protect us.'

    'I will do everything in my power to prevent couples and families being broken by sexual misconduct'.

    We should all 'respect the rights and commitments of others' out of basic decency, and we should ask that others do so too. It needn't be a question of outdated morality suggesting property rights, but an understanding that we're all responsible for each other and especially for the well-being of children. I see it as a humanist stance. Be confident that there's nothing wrong with your continued suffering, it's understandable, and extend compassion to yourself for being placed in a position (like so many others) of feeling anger toward someone you trusted and liked. You didn't seek out this hatred.

    She has caused you a great deal of pain but much more damage to herself. Even if no one points out to her how badly she's behaved (and personally I don't think that would be a bad thing) she will have to carry the consequences of her actions for the rest of her life. No karma required. You can let your anger wear itself out with time and you can be stronger trusting that for all the faults you do have, as we all do, you haven't abandoned integrity and kindness. She will have to work very hard to recover the integrity she's lost, whether she understands this now or has yet to realise. I wouldn't want to experience such remorse.

    I suppose the bottom line is that you can't make yourself forget (I think I would move house, but that's another issue). You have to learn to hold yourself through this ordeal, to breathe through it, to 'stay in your back' and not lose yourself. It could be the making of you.



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  72. The numb. I am 14 months out. He stopped talking about it a long time ago. Couples counselling is slow. She said we are stuck, I clearly ask for an empathy and affection he cannot give, he is dreadfully impatient and just wants to bury it all. What I feel from him is a level of disdain, as if I did it, as if he is not happy that I am wanting and trying to work it out as it is my way not his. We go on in our daily routine with two young children. From the outside to those who do not know us, we probably look normal. To our friends, who see all the cracks, knowing or not, they are worried. For the first year it was one step at a time with the hills and valleys. I couldn't take it any more at about 8 months and decided to plan things for me, to move forward and be more positive. 


    My life is full of so much other goodness, I am truely blessed, but now, at 1 year I am numb. The anxiety creeps up on me and it is sometimes the only thing I feel. The smiles and laughs of my children that lifted me and I buried my head in I can now see but not feel. The early numb and unbelieving in the total all encompassing intensely emotional fog of it all has slowly turned to a new numb, where I am not sure when I will feel again. I want my old reality/belief - of what life is supposed to be about, the important things, the little things - back. I didn't do this and don't know how I can believe those things again, why I can't hold onto them. I push and I push forward trying to be positive every day, but it is a fake me pretending to be the old me and afraid of this dark dead zone inside. Some days I wonder if letting go is the way, when my strength is waning and I just can't hold it any more. I want more than anything to get past this, but maybe the way to find the old me is to remove the one who hurt me so badly it feels like he took me away from me.


    I am still in here, I have to be, but how do I find me? How to remove the numb?

    Inchworm

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  73. Here is how I have coped with the betrayal. Compartmentalization, learned it from my husband himself. It's been 15 years ago that I found out my husband had an affair. I decided to stay in the marriage because of financial reasons mostly (at the same time that the affair began our family business went under also). Therefore we live together but it's mostly like a room mate situation. We attend family functions together and spend holidays with family as a couple but we have our own social life. I have in the past dated and will again if the situation pops up. Is this my idea of a great life - NO but it's somewhat working. I still hope that my husband of 38 years will someday find a way to make amends and maybe we can have a healthy relationship. He would also need to sober up; he's also an alcoholic. Or maybe I will get the courage to just be sick and tired of it all and leave this sham of a marriage.

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  74. Thankyou Elle, I like your comment about accepting her as another flawed human being, it is so true. I've been talking with a friend of mine and I think if I can see her as a human being who made a mistake I will be able to eventually forgive her and free my heart of this pain and anger which will allow me to move on without giving her that power over me. I am realizing that she is not going to disappear out of life conveniently so I need to forgive and move on so I can be truly at peace. Obviously I am having a way better "up" day today than last time I wrote and it will still be a long road ahead of ups and downs. This experience has taught me that I am stronger than I ever thought I was (:
    Thanks so much for your support and advice.

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  75. OMG today feels like such a bad day. I want to move forward but I don't know how to shut off all the obsessive thoughts in my head that keep revisiting the past & trying to catch him in a lie. We are off next week & I am dreading it. Last time we had a "talk" was at 1 am & he said he can't keep doing this at 2 am. We have to do it at a reasonable hour. I said when then-- u r never home. He said Saturday at 10 am which is tomorrow. Yes I am holding him to it because I have a whole bunch of questions (all over again, some the same & some new). This time I am going to try holding at least 1 of his hands while we talk so I stay calm (I read that in surviving infidelity). I am dreading it though.

    So I'm going to ask him if he went away with his 1st affair partner 10 years ago (at that time he said he went to a work conf but 10 years ago I caught him in a lie abt it & he changed to he went away with some male friends of his best friend for a bachelor party with gambling & he was afraid to tell me. But now I want to know if he went with her. I'm sure he won't tell me even if he did so why am I asking.

    This morning while we were planning out our week he mentioned he has to go in to work one day to catch up. At that point I just tuned out. It was as if I was talking to a comic strip character who as he's talking has little bubbles over his head saying "lie, lie, lie". I see his lips moving but all I hear is someone laying groundwork for secret rendezvous with other women.

    Yes I know he loves me. & yes I know he loved me even while he was flirting with, carrying on with, & sleeping with other women. So what's to stop it from happening again?

    Maybe I've seen too much & know too much now to let it go. I feel like my whole 1st pregnancy is tainted because that's around the time of his first affair. He says it lasted abt a year but my guess is more like 2-3, esp since the 2nd affair went from sleeping together a handful of times to 10 months (that he admits to).

    I just want to spend the week in a ball in my bedroom & not come out, not even for my kids.

    Sam

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