Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bidding Farewell to My Fantasy Marriage

My husband would never cheat on me, I would have told you, more than three years ago. I wouldn't have said it arrogantly or smugly. It was simply a fact. Like his hair color. Or height.
Even as I would have been uttering those words, he would have been cheating.
He had, in fact, been cheating on me our entire relationship. When we dated, became engaged, got married, had children.
Stating this to you is bizarre. It's as though I'm talking about someone else. husband would never cheat on me.
Coming to terms with the total annihilation of my reality-turned-fantasy has been one of the hardest things I've had to deal with.
I felt safe in the world I had. I was married to someone who, though we might have our ups and downs, simply wouldn't jeopardize our marriage. Or so I thought. Believed. With every pore of my being. It was one thing that kept me moored, when life threatened to unmoor me.
So when I found out that my rock was actually nothing more than sand, it frightened me, to say the least.
But the past three years have forced me to face that my marriage was nothing like I thought.
Which, of course, completely alters my future. I can never be married to someone who's always been faithful to me...unless I divorce, marry someone else and he doesn't cheat.
I can never completely trust my husband to be telling the truth. Experience has shown me that he's capable of lying and will, if necessary, to protect himself.
So I've not only had to let go of my fantasy past...but my fantasy future too.
We can rebuild...and, in fact, are. We can create a better marriage, a stronger marriage, a more honest marriage. But I can never again have that sense of 100% certainty that my feelings are safely held with him.
It's a helluva compromise. And some days, it seems like one barely worth making.
Other days, when I watch him with our kids, when he sleeps beside me and I imagine life without him, it feels worth it.
The thing about betrayal is that nothing, afterward, is ever the same. Not me, not him...not our marriage.
Cheated, indeed.


  1. I too found out that my husband wasn't quite what I had thought. From the very moment we met to finding out the truth. 8 years of me and only me living a fantasy.
    I fail to see how I missed such huge important things. I can only think that the I never saw it because he was always that person from the moment we met so how could I know the difference??
    We too are trying to work it out. Even after such a horrific thing to find out I can not overlook the good he has done, or that he is the father of my children. Some of our dreams can still come true I am certain.
    I however have trouble coming to grips with the reality of my life now. How it will never ever be what I thought it would be and that it never was what I thought it was. I mourn.
    Strangely- I actually miss my husband. The imaginary one I was married too. I can look at the person that is with me now and feel a huge overwhelming amount of negative things. Yet look at a photo of the husband I married back when we first started going out and still feel the same love and attraction.

  2. So well written-- I feel the same way exactly. Some days are easier to embrace reconciliation than others. It's more than just forgiving the act, it's forgiving the loss of the life you thought you had and embracing the new (scarier) one.

  3. That is/was exactly how I feel. I too liked the fantasy more than the reality. What was not to like? I thought he was incapable of hurting me...along with all his other wonderful attributes: honest, hard-working, funny, kind-hearted...
    I think it's important to mourn the loss of that fantasy. And it really is like grief -- you cycle in and out of stages. Eventually though (I'm more than 3 years out), the mourning gives way to acceptance. Maybe not happy acceptance...but acceptance, nonetheless.
    Now I look at the real man I married -- and sift through the attributes that are genuinely him, and those I prescribed to him because I wanted them to be there...and he wanted them to be there, too. He's trying to become the man I thought he was. He wants to be that person. And it's not that tough! Just keep your pants on, buddy!
    You sound enormously compassionate and warm-hearted. It's not easy to give someone who's betrayed a second chance. I hope he knows how bloody lucky he is. Well enough not to screw it up again?
    Do you have any consequences in place if he slips up? That can go a long way toward giving you comfort. Ensure that they're consequences you'll stick with. And it's not to be confused with punishment. You're not punishing him, but protecting yourself. Determine what you will or will not tolerate and then talk it over with him. Even figure out how you'll know -- can you check his cell phone records? Credit card receipts? Computer history?
    Again, this isn't to turn you into the police, but to ensure that he earns your trust back. And that'll only happen over time with you being able to check anytime you're uncomfortable or suspicious or feel triggered.
    But perhaps...that's a whole blog post!

  4. Anonymous,

    Well said. It really is about forgiving what feels like the robbery of the fantasy as much as forgiving the actual acts. Just about to post my next blog...on the emotionally loaded word "forgiveness."

  5. I could have written every word of that. It is exactly, EXACTLY how I feel, how I've felt, what I've thought. Amazing. It's just as you say, my fantasy marriage a thing of the past.

  6. Exactly, whatever he does after I have 2 bags with proof that he is being cheating, he denies. He lives in his fake world. He doesn't stop because he has sex addiction and ptsd, during two years I used to think I was not enough pretty to keep his interest on me. My self esteem is over, even though I know what happen, I'm just falling appart. I need to recover myself.
    I really hope that some day all those women who are part of my pain, get what they deserve multiply by 7. Because they also laugh at me when i contacted them.
    They are not more valuable women because they can STEAL A MAN FROM HIS WIFE. Even those who are already marry and at the same time go on the internet to have affairs.
    I wish we female as a gender we can encourage eachother and stop this STEALING HUSBANDS WAR.
    We are not stupid to know if a man just have a cellphone that it doesn't answer "certain" time or he never take us to his obvious HE IS NOT SINGLE.

  7. Lulu,

    You're soooo right. For now, though, try as best you can to take the focus OFF the other women (I've heard women used by men with sex addiction as "porn with skin on") and focus on getting yourself healed.
    His addiction/affairs have NOTHING to do with you. Many, many of the world's most beautiful women have been cheated on. It had nothing to do with the women...but with their husbands who need the ego-stroking and validation that other women (who are, essentially, fantasy) offer.
    If you're not in therapy, I would urge you to talk to someone. There are 12-step groups for spouses of sex addicts – even Al-Anon could be a big help and is completely free.
    You matter to the world, regardless of how your husband is behaving. I remember the feelings you describe all too well. Feeling worthless and ugly and disposable.
    But please know that's temporary. Remind yourself constantly how much you matter and treat yourself that way, even if you don't feel it yet. These other women simply aren't worth the effort it takes to hate them. They're mixed up, unhappy people. As one counsellor of sex addicts once said to me, "Whatever these other women have that you don't – YOU DON'T WANT!"

  8. I also mourn the man I thought I married. We wrote our own vows, and we thought them through and talked about them carefully, and I stood up and vowed. And I meant it. I have no idea what he meant, as he was able to make a no-string-sex offer to an ex-lover less than 3 years later, and tell her that he had 'unfinished business' with her--for the past seven years! Although we are trying to rebuild, I have never felt the same about him or the marriage. Perhaps we can repair, but it will never be what it was. I mourn. I can't bear to look at the wedding pictures, they are so false.

  9. I really struggled with that...and still do, though to a far lesser extent. But I'll never look at our wedding pictures in the same way, mostly because he was already acting out sexually at that time. I had no idea. Most (unfortunately not all) of us mean our vows when we make them... Because he cheated three years later doesn't mean he wasn't sincere at the time. But i know. It hurts. Like hell. And it won't ever be what it was. But it is possible to create a really great marriage. But the old you is gone...just like the old him.

  10. I feel like I'm mourning the loss of a loved one. I'm so sad (D-day #3 10 days ago) and feel the need to start packing everything into boxes cause that person is gone. It's the opposite of nesting like when your pregnant.......preparing for the arrival of someone/something. But something is gone now....and j don't need all this stuff :(

    1. SB,
      You are mourning a loss...the loss of the person you thought you knew, the loss of a marriage you thought you had, the loss of a future you thought was secure...
      I think you need to do what feels right in terms of grieving. For me, it was packing up/putting away photos that reminded me of that marriage fantasy – our wedding album, photos. I took off my wedding/engagement rings, put away jewellery that reminded me. Eventually I could pull these items back out but they're not the same.
      Nothing is ever quite the same again. And that's something we need to accept.
      You'll get there. In the meantime, grieve...

  11. My wedding and prom dresses, marriage license, rings all gone. Threw the license in the lake behind the house, barbecued the dresses, rings, in the garbage. I have been cheated on since we met, and I was 14. First man I ever been with. He was a Dr. Jeykyll/Mr. Hyde. Sex addict. He wanted more sex, more often, and then kinkier.
    I got disclosures after forcing them out of him early one morning. I don't believe him. He says he knew he was messed up, but couldn't bring himself to get help.
    I resent what he did because he had anger from left over family issues. My problem? No, but it is now. Forgiveness? Someday. But, I won't tell him.

    1. Hi Anonymous,
      I'm so sorry for the pain you're in. I hope you'll focus on your own recovery from this. While his "family issues" aren't an excuse, they are an explanation and you can be assured that his affairs had nothing to do with you and were nothing you can control. Hurt people hurt people. Unfortunately for too many of us, we're the ones hurt.


  12. I am just so shocked sometimes at how deceitful, selfish and cruel people can be. There is no excuse for cheating...EVER!



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