Monday, December 7, 2009

Surviving Infidelity: Anti-versaries

December 11 will mark three years since I discovered my husband's affair. And though the date doesn't create the kick-in-the-stomach thud it has in years past, I'm acutely aware on many levels that the anti-versary is coming.
Anti-versaries can trigger all sorts of emotions, even if, on the surface, you seem barely aware of what the calendar says. Janie reports that she suddenly found herself angry with her husband about little things, even though their reconciliation was going well. When she realized that the one-year anti-versary was coming, her anger made more sense.
I made sure that my husband and I had plans for the one-year anti-versary. I knew that being alone would be hard. So he took the day off work and the two of us spent the day Christmas shopping. We had a nice, long lunch and though we were both aware of the date, we didn't talk too much about it. Instead, we enjoyed knowing how different things were from the year earlier. We did the same thing on the two-year anti-versary. This year, I haven't quite decided what to do.
This notion, however, of "reclaiming" the date is an important one. It's a way of taking back emotional power and, rather than having the calendar define how you feel, creating circumstances that encourage you too feel safe, positive and healthy.
Those who ignore the date tend to find themselves blind-sided by negative emotions. Those who determine what they need to get through the date often report that it wasn't as bad as they'd thought.
Figure out what you need to do. And please share your coping strategy here.

13 comments:

  1. Surviving infidelity is a challenge. I've experienced how surviving infidelity is hard.

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  2. Hi Cory,
    Welcome.
    I'm sorry you've had to learn -- the hard way!! -- how difficult surviving infidelity is. But I'm glad you found Betrayed Wives Club. The site is undergoing some renovations, but soon there will be a forum to post your own story. Sharing it with others who know your pain can be a liberating, healing thing to do.
    I hope you'll check in often...and continue to add your comments.

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  3. OMG..I am sitting up here at 2am wondering how our 1 year anniversary went bad. My husband and I have worked so hard on surviving sex addiction and have made so much progress in our personal lives that I wanted to celebrate the day. My husband felt differently-for him it brought back up the shame and guilt, etc. When I said I was proud of him he said, "Well, not having sex with other women is what I am supposed to do. It's kind of like murder, we are not supposed to go around killing other people. You wouldn't congratulate someone for not murdering someone, would you?" Talking about sucking the hope out of me. He was happy he made it thankfully but by no means saw it as a celebration. I could't expect him to feel happy but I was really disappointed. Thanks for sharing and letting me feel no so alone in the anniversary struggle! I guess we should plan better next time (hopefully there is a next time :) -still working on that trust thing!

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  4. Hi Robyn,

    I'm glad you found the site. The isolation and loneliness were awful for me. Sex addiction isn't exactly something that most people understand...or are sympathetic about. My husband, like yours, still feels quite shameful. However, it's like someone losing 100 pounds -- sure they shouldn't have gained so much. But taking responsibility for our actions and taking positive steps toward healthy behaviour is something to be congratulated for.
    Is he in a 12-step program? Or seeing a CSAT or counsellor focused on sex addiction? I know my husband's counsellor is constantly admonishing him for beating himself up about the past at the expense of enjoying the present.
    And frankly, I haven't always been supportive. When he got a one-year chip from his SA group, I sarcastically asked him if the cake said "congratulations for keeping it in your pants!". Yes, I know it was nasty... :(
    We ALL wish we could change the past...but of course we can't. We can, however, create a present and future that makes us proud.
    You can still feel happy and hopeful and aware of how different your life looks this year over last.
    Hopefully he'll get to the point where he can share that with you.

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  5. Thanks for your reply. Yes, he is in a 12-step program and we see a couples counselor. We have slacked off in our communication in the past few months and he stopped going to his individual counselor. The ups and downs-I'm sure you get it. When the kids went back to school in the fall life happened and we got busy. Revovery is time consuming and emotionally exhausting but it just has to get done. I think he needs a CSAT counselor (mainly because he said he wasn't getting that much out of individual therapy) but I try not to manage the recovery and let him do his thing. Maybe I will suggest it.
    Gosh-this disease is so hard to live with on a daily basis. Even if my husband "keeps it in his pants" as you say (LOL) he still has thoughts that make him isolate. When he isolates, I think he lies-a circle that is hard for me to break. He feels guilty for just "thoughts" even if he doesn't act on them in any way. It pains me to watch him struggle. And I am in pain from my struggle. My friend just told me to take deep breath and not examine everthing. I think I need to take her advice.
    Congrats on your three year anniversary. I'm sure you had your share of ups and downs but you made it! For me that is hopeful. I have tried to come out of my isolation and make some friends but it is hard because most people don't understand. Glad you do!

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  6. Yes, it is hard to live with. But it gets easier.
    Sounds like your husband is on the right path. And yes, leaving his recovery for him to manage is the way to go. Whenever I find myself getting agitated, it's often because he's not doing things the way I would do them (ie. on MY schedule). I did give him deadlines and deal-breakers. But I try to be careful that I'm boundary setting, not controlling -- it can get so confusing!
    Hang in there...hope your holidays were okay.

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  7. Mine is coming up soon. Since I found out I have scrubbed the date of the calendar and will never celebrate the day. I plan to ignore it the best I can on the day.

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  8. I think you need to do what will work best for you. Just beware that often on an unconscious level, the date can generate a sort of emotional maelstrom. If possible, try and build in some time or an activity that soothes your battered soul -- whether time with a friend, with a book, a massage... Always seems a bit trite (like a pedicure can mend a broken heart) but I think it's all part of self-care, which is crucial.

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  9. Update on my Anniversary. I did not want a celebration. However I sort of thought my husband would try and say something, or make some small gesture. After nothing happened I asked him if he was planning anything. The usual silence. His whole plan was to ignore it and like everything else in his life if he pretends it's not there it mustn't be.
    Just another black mark for my husband who really hasn't got anything much going for him anymore.
    I feel trapped with a person that I no longer love and someone that never truly loved me.
    It was a miserable day, but not much different from any other day that I have had over the last 8 months.

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  10. Marti,

    I'm so sorry. You must be so disappointed and fed up. The fact, though, that you were still hoping for something makes me wonder if you still hope there's some potential.
    Are you two in marriage counselling? The way I see it is like this: Counselling will help both of you sort through the incredible pain and disappointment of the betrayal. If, by doing that, you come to the conclusion that there is absolutely NO possibility of ever being happily married to this man, then couples counselling can help you work toward an amicable divorce. If, on the other hand, counselling helps both of us get past the pain, you'll be in the position of creating a new relationship in which you can get your needs met.
    Have you given it a try?

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  11. We see a psychologist every week for marriage counselling. I see him for someone to talk to and help me with this by myself sometimes.
    It helps by giving me a safe place to talk. However after this much time ( 7 months of therapy) my husband really hasn't changed, I don't think, and he doesn't seem to say all that much at the sessions.
    I know it's over- our marriage. Yet I can't throw in the towel. I have children that are so young and I can't bear the thought of loosing full time care of them. The horror of putting them into full time day care so I could go back to work- the revolting mother in law having anything to do with their upbringing. The list of why nots is endless.
    It seems better to stay- for the time being- than the awful alternative.
    I have a habit of living in hope though. Even when things seem this grim I think I still hang onto the hope of "just maybe" he might pull though for me and our children.
    It's hard for me after being married- what I thought was a very happy one- to all of a sudden be in this situation. I can't seem to fathom it.

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  12. I remember thinking for a couple of years that I was basically sacrificing my happiness for my children's -- and I was okay with that. So I understand your thinking.
    Somewhere in there, my situation changed...and our marriage improved. It was really the 12-step program my husband attended that made the difference for me. He only went for about a year of weekly meetings. But it opened his eyes to what his life could be life if he hadn't stopped acting out...and if he started again. And it made him far more accountable for his thinking, not just the acting out. In AA (he was in SA, but it's a similar philosphy), they talk a lot about being a "dry" drunk. So even though you're no longer engaging in the behaviour, you haven't changed the thinking behind the behaviour. Sounds like your husband is a "dry drunk". Nothing, of course, that you can do about it beyond setting boundaries to protect yourself and your kids.

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  13. My two anti-versaries are Valentines day and my mother's birthday!!!! How awful is that?
    Janice

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