Monday, April 4, 2011

The Rift that Keeps On Giving

My husband likes to think that the rather painful episode of infidelity in our lives, also known as "Are you f&^#$%g kidding me?" is "over". As in, "aren't you over that?" And "besides what happened, what have I ever done wrong?"
And while I would love nothing more than for it to be "over", I'm increasingly recognizing that I'm not sure it ever will be.
The thing with infidelity – ie. a "trust violation" – is that it completely alters your world view. Irrevocably. So though you might be "over" the event – for example, you know longer cry in grocery stores or at the site of a certain late model Jeep Liberty – you're nonetheless never really over it.
Case in point:
My husband and I are currently suffering through the longest renovation project in history. I've been a pretty good sport about it, in light of the fact that I thought our house, except for the leaking roof, was just fine. But he wanted his dream house, blah blah blah. And so, here we all are, ousted from our bedrooms, sleeping on couches, breathing in drywall dust and basically living in what feels like a falling-down frat house.
I finally cracked, just like our plaster ceilings and pretty much everything else in our home, on Saturday. I had asked my husband to print off something I needed for a work project. He forgot. He remembered to do the reno stuff that day...but not the thing I had asked.
Roughly eight months of reno-resentment, together with the slowly receding resentment of his decade-long sex addiction, combined to create a nuclear-level explosion of anger.
He, as usual, was surprised when I pointed that it never, EVER seems as if my needs matter.
Though I didn't actually see his eyes roll, I could sense them.
And then, "when are you going to get over that?"
And I knew exactly what he meant.
When are we going to be able to live in a world in which those horrible years of emotional abandonment and physical disinterest no longer color everything that happens now? When am I going to be, quite simply, "over" it.
The short answer?
Not because I hang on to the pain. God knows, I've done everything I can possibly think of to move myself out that horrible dark place.
I've forgiven him in that I've come to a place of understanding how he was able to commit such marriage-killing acts and not actually think of them as such. I'm worked hard to try and understand that he used sex as self-medication.
But that doesn't mean that I can erase it from my memory. And whether or not he intended to hurt me doesn't mean a thing when the end result is pain. If you step on my toe accidentally, my toe doesn't hurt any less.
I'm trying. As he is.
But infidelity does indeed seem to the be the rift that keeps on giving...


  1. I can really relate to this one!! One year after my husband and I decided to stay together I had a infidelity breakdown. He looked at me and said " it's been a year and this still bothers you?"
    I have come to think of the betrayal as more of a thing you learn to live with not get over.
    To me it's like he physically cut me with a knife. In the beginning there is tears and emotion and chaos. After awhile the pain may be less, the cut will heal and as long as I keep it covered he can ignore it. So maybe he can "forget", but I still have a scar which I see every day.
    Betrayal is life changing.

  2. I'm less than seven weeks out from D-day and I just have to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU for having this blog. It's been such a comfort to feel like I'm not alone and that the hell I'm suffering through is normal. I don't know anyone in real life that has gone through this -- or at least no one that has told me. I'm slowing making my way through all of your archives. Every post helps me. THANK YOU!

  3. You're welcome. It was the loneliness that threatened to completely cripple me. I felt so unbelievably, unbearably isolated. No-one talks about this stuff, unless it's the wife walking out the door who wants everyone to know WHY she's walking out the door. Those who decide to stay and make it work are pretty much silent.
    Glad you found us! And I'm glad you've joined the conversation. Given the stats re. infidelity, it's a conversation we need to be having more of.

  4. Just had D Day 1st anniversary here. Not that I marked it on a calendar, but it's etched into my mind. I just know.
    I can not get over the hate and disgust for my husband. I am still unable to look at him, take photos of him or see the man that I once loved. He is forever (or so it seems) a revolting human being in my eyes. He actually looks different.
    I dream of the day I can be financially and emotionally able to walk away from him. When I don't have to worry about my children's future.
    How that time seems to stretch ahead of me for years. I need a fast forward button.
    In the meantime I just live day to day trying not to dwell on my miserable marriage.
    I work towards my and my children's futures without him in it and I day dream of a life with someone else in his place.
    I have found no improvement in my emotional well being after a year. Only that instead of sobbing or becoming hysterically upset I am silent. It's still feels the same.
    You mentioned above about the loneliness. It is lonely. You can be in a room full of friends and be lonely. Cuddling your children and lonely.
    I miss the husband I thought I had terribly. It's still a fiscal blow to not have him here with me to go and talk to, to hug and be hugged back.
    I have stopped going to counselling due to begin busy with other commitments and I feel that loss now as well.

  5. Marti,

    I feel so sad for you. And I strongly urge you to get back to counselling or find a support group or something that can give you a sense of joy back. It seems clear that you're not going to find it within your marriage...but you sound as if you're poisoning yourself right now. If only for your kids, please find someone to help you get clear on creating a life that offers some sense of purpose/pleasure.
    That said, one year is, unfortunately, not that long on the healing trajectory of betrayal. At one year, I was still pretty much a mess. Like you, I didn't sob uncontrollably any more but I was really just numb. I felt nothing. Not joy. Not pain. Just the "plain of lethal flatness", as it's often called.
    And it can be a place where we often find sanctuary. After such feelings of pain and betrayal, numb can be pretty darn appealing. But the danger (and I've posted on this before) is that we don't just stop there, we settle in to stay. And though it's nice not to feel that stab of pain anymore, it also stops us from feeling the intense pleasure of our children's love, or a work/home success or whatever.
    Again, I really urge to either go back to your counsellor or find another that might help you further along the path. Whether with him or without him, you deserve to LIVE...not just exist.

  6. Dear Marti -- I have not yet had my eight week anniversary of this living hell but I, too, am so sorry for your pain. Do you have a plan? I think that is my plan -- just to have a plan. I need to take some classes to refresh my work skills, stash some cash and then find a job. Then if I can make it to the one year mark I hope to be in a place where making the decision to stay or go isn't made from the emotional rollercoaster place I'm in at the moment. I'm wishing the best for you.

  7. I think there are a few reasons why it's over for the betrayer much sooner than it is for the betrayed.
    Of course, the shame and remorse they feel makes it something they want to forget asap - but, to look at it from a different and slightly more positive point of view, they come to realise that the relationship with the OP was meaningless and of very little value so it is more easily left behind.

    I'm aware that every situation has its differences - but that's how it seems to me.

    I agree with Kathy that it's something one learns to live with - rather than completely forget. As I once observed to my husband - whether we like it or not, this is sewn into the fabric of our relationship; no matter how much it is regretted or mourned over, it cannot be undone and we have to find a way of living with it.

    To those of you who are but a few weeks or months away from D-day, I can promise you that it all does get much easier in time. I'll never, ever be able to say that I'm glad it happened but, with the perspective that time allows, it is possible to see that the big ugly cloud did have a small silver lining.

    1. Thank you for this insight...I am stuck and confused right now, but reading this has given me a bit of hope that maybe I can move forward. Thank you so much. = P

  8. Thanks foolishwoman (though you don't sound in the least foolish to me!).

    I'd love to hear more about the "silver lining". It's hard to see some days...


  9. Foolishwoman -- I loved the way you phrased that -- "big ugly cloud did have a small silver lining." I'm going to 'try' to keep that in mind as I navigate the train wreck that became my recent life. Thanks.

    Elle -- Do you have a sample or a post of a "no contact letter" on this site? I haven't made it all the way through the archives yet and you don't have a search feature. I just love your writing and would love to steal at least some of the words/ideas in your letter if you have one posted and don't mind the borrowing. Thanks.

  10. Pippi,

    I don't have an actual template but it needs to be short and sweet. I've pretty much summed it up in this post here:
    And I'll include the pertinent bits below:
    "Does he want his marriage or doesn't he? If he picks yes, then he's got some homework. Starting with a No Contact letter to his OW. No emotional good-byes. No "just one more meeting to let her down easy." No, "but she didn't know I was married. She got hurt, too." Simple, straightforward and vetted by you. Along the lines of "I made a terrible mistake getting involved with you and I've chosen to try and save my marriage. I will no longer have any contact with you. I insist that you respect his." You could ask that he threaten legal action if she violates this, but that might be unnecessarily inflammatory. "

    And I really do need a search function on my the archives grow. I'll see if I can incorporate one. Thanks for pointing it out.


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