Sunday, May 29, 2011

Am I only a "betrayed wife" after I found out? Or was I one all along?

I still, almost five years past D-Day #1, have trouble looking at photographs of "before". My children's babyhoods are now colored with the knowledge that, while I was home changing diapers and mopping up spit, my husband was peeling off panties and swapping spit.
How do I reconcile the past I thought I had with what was going on behind my back? How do I look back at wedding photos/family pictures/celebrations without that happiness-busting sense of "well...we might look happy". The point, of course, being that my reality wasn't...real. Or was it?
It's a sort of philosophical issue. If a tree falls in the forest but you don't know that tree is falling (or more to the point, that your husband is the one chopping it down), does it change the past? Or is your past still your past – memories intact – and it's only your future that's altered?
I'm no philosopher (clearly, given my convoluted example!). But I struggle with my sense of history now. My sense of self is shaky. Am I still the same person I was, even though my life was not what I thought it was?
Am I still the same person even though others' view of me was perhaps colored by information they had...but I didn't?
I want to believe the answer is yes. I am still I. And though my future is certainly altered by the knowledge of my husband's cheating, it doesn't change the mother I was, the wife I was, the daughter/friend/sister/writer I was. I need to stand firmly in my own self. And recognize that another's actions, while they affect me, needn't change me.

15 comments:

  1. Yip, having to rewrite history all the time is a real kicker! I battled with that all the time during my long sojourn through the soap opera of my life! Eventually you ask ..is this real?

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  2. I feel I could have written every word you wrote.
    I can not look at photo's of us together before finding out about all of his infidelity. I've taken our photos out of all the frames around the house and packed them away. The family albums remain on the shelves unopened for the last year.
    I do not take any more photo's of us together and if I do take one of my husband it gets deleted. Only the ones were I feel I should keep them for my children's sakes stay on the camera- never printed, just to remain in the hard drive.
    It's something to do with his face. It's a liars face smiling back at me.
    It was a very cruel lie and the life I had stripped from me is an adjustment I find I can not come to terms with.

    Even a year on I find out my husband has been lying to me still. So much for working it out. We have separated again (so tired of this) and he is seeking more help from a psychologist for his lying. He says he will do anything to save us. I'm sceptical.

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  3. Marti,
    I'm so sorry you're still dealing with this.
    I hope, while he's getting help, you're focussing on yourself and your kids and creating a life that will be full whether he's in it as your husband or not. You don't want to spend your life waiting for someone who may simply never be the man you deserve.
    Sending positive thoughts your way.

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  4. I was lucky(?) in that the cheating happened, he felt so bad he had really pulled away and then the OW knew she was pregnant within 10 days (?!) of the incident and he didn't feel he could hide it. I was happy a week before this all went down and DEVASATED about a week afterward. I don't LIKE the emotional affair part of them "being friends" for a few months but I do believe it started out as him "helping her" with her "abusive husband" issues and went obviously out of control from there. If it had been a longer affair or if they'd had sex on more than one occasion I'm sure I would have just murdered him (oops. My foot slipped and I THOUGHT I was pressing the brakes!) But (probably in the unhealthiest way possible) I've been able to split the good from before into good. The bad from before into "we need to figure out how WE got to this point if we want to go forward" and this AWFUL limbo Hell devastation into awful limbo Hell devastation that needed to happen to wake us both up. It won't be easy but hopefully it will work out eventually.

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    Replies
    1. Glad you found us and yes, everything you describe sounds pretty familiar. So many affairs begin with a woman who needs help The "white knight" narrative is alive and well.
      But it sounds as if you're full of resolve (and humour). I hope you'll continue to share your story on this site.

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  5. I can't seem to get off the roller coaster. One day i am staying and the next I want to leave and move on. I feel he has not lost anything. He still has his life and family. Carries on every day. I haven't told my children who are both adults but now wonder if they find out what will they think of me for staying? His affair was for two years. I found out through an email. When i confronted him he said it was one night then a couple nights then it had been two years. Plus he was sexting two other woman who I have no idea if he was sleeping with them too. It has been eight months and I am stuck...and I just believe I have to move on. My fear is he will go back to her once given the chance but why do I really care?

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    1. Anonymous,
      The roller coaster is a pretty common experience for the first year or so. But there are a couple of things I want you to think about. First off, what is he doing to support you through this and what is he doing to try to understand why he violated his promise to you? Secondly, it's not uncommon to want the cheater to be punished in some way -- to have to pay some sort of the price for what they've put us through. And, to be honest, those who truly acknowledge what they've done and take steps to make amends are clearly paying a price because they're usually so disgusted with themselves. Those who want to just blithely move forward and "get past it" look like they're not paying a price at all...and sometimes they're not really. They aren't having to own the pain they've caused, they aren't really holding themselves accountable for their choice.
      Third, though our culture tends to look at betrayed wives who stay in their marriages as doormats, we can't make decisions about our lives based on what others might think of those choices. We're the ones who have to live with the consequences so we need to be good with our choices. What others think truly doesn't matter. But it takes time to get to that point of view.
      And finally, staying in a marriage to ensure he doesn't go back to his OW is a really crappy reason to stay married. If he has learned nothing from all this, then let her have him. He's damaged goods. But if he's willing to take a hard look at this mistake, and do whatever he can to make amends, then he might be worth giving a second chance IF YOU WANT TO. Ultimately it's your choice. There is no right or wrong way to respond. There's just what feels right for you and it can take a long time to figure out what that path is.

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  6. He has and is making a lot of effort to try and make things right. I on the other hand feel so disgusted with just knowing all or most of the affair. I don't for a moment want him or anyone false to ever think that I just accepted being treated that way. What if my children were in an affair and asked what I would do? I believe he does not deserve me let alone another chance. Why should he be given another chance to make it right now?

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    1. Anonymous, You don't owe him anything. You get to choose whether you rebuild a "second marriage" with him or not. But try not to let this notion of our culture's response to cheating (which isn't a healthy one) get in the way. If you choose to give him a second chance, you're doing it because he's showing you that he's willing to do whatever it takes and because you think you have something worth working for. If not, you can walk and it's nobody's business why.

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  7. The longer I stay in this relationship the more I want to get out just not sure how to live the next 25 or 30 years. I have my grown children now but not sure they will feel the same if I leave. I have so many things I have always wanted to pursue...maybe this is the time for a change.

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    1. Anonymous,
      It sounds as if you're falling into the "devil you know is better than the devil you don't" thinking. Try not to let fear rule you. None of us knows what the future holds. So it's impossible to make choices based on it. What you can do is make the best choice for yourself based on what you know right now. And if you want out, then that's a perfectly reasonable choice based on what he's done. The next 25 or 30 years will unfold and you can continue to make choices based on what's right for you. That's how we live a fulfilling and emotionally rich life.

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  8. What do wives do for their cheating husbands birthday and first Christmas after dinner day?

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    1. A birthday cake made of dog feces perhaps? A punch in the face? Kidding, of course. You get to do whatever feels right for you. Don't be purposely hurtful because that's not productive. And maybe talk it over with him. See if you can come up with a plan that feels okay for each of you. This is one of those early tests of a "new" marriage with the same person. You each need to learn to own your feelings and share them and trust that the other person will try and empathize.

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  9. I wish I could sit across the table from you over coffee to discuss everything..lol He says I am pushing him away and resisting which I believe is true but I dont know what he expects from me. Again I dont feel HE has lost anything. The fact he had an affair for two years and he said he was never going to tell me is very disturbing to me. He does not want to talk about it all. He makes all these future plans for us but I struggle with whether that is what I want with him. I can't seem to get past the unknown..the why. He still claims he felt a disconnect...I felt it too but only the last few months not two years. I want to know how many women there were but he seems to be unable to remember any of that. I struggled to buy a birthday card and even to sign it...I don't feel the same love as before and that is why I am continuing to question myself. Sure he is trying but why not before when I asked..too many questions and I don't know why it is so difficult for me to just move on alone. I know I am not perfect but to have an affair to me is a deal breaker.

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  10. I am feeling like the only reason he is here is because it is easiest. If we divorce we have a business property lots of assets that would need to be dealt with. He has always commented to other guys "Happy wife happy life" and "cheaper to keep her" just to name a few. I now seem to be able to remember all of his negative comments over 34 years of marriage. He is not employed right now so we spend a lot of time together but I worry once he returns to work. I don't want to be left wondering all day who he is with or talking too. If I reach that point that is not a life I want to continue with.

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