Monday, September 12, 2011

When I Knew...

I recently came across an article in which an Other Woman insisted that wives inevitably know when their husbands are cheating. In this particular OW's view, the fact that we don't do anything about it is a sort of implicit acceptance, if not approval of the affair. It hearkens back to the day where it was assumed that men's appetites were simply different than women's...and if men discreetly satisfied those appetites elsewhere then no harm done. It reminds me far too much of the sense that women are almost grateful to not have to satisfy their husband's desires because, after all, we have laundry to do and children to raise.
But it did get me thinking about how much I knew...and how much I knew.
My case is perhaps different in that my husband's sex addiction pre-dated me. In other words, he came to me broken...he didn't break after I knew him.
So as the years rolled by, I didn't really notice a change in him, so long as he stuck to his standard method of operation, which generally included discreet, anonymous encounters long after I'd gone to sleep or when he was out of town. It was when he became involved with his assistant at work that I started to develop suspicions. But even those were easily pushed aside – after all, I believed with my whole heart that he loved me. People who love each other don't do that. At least not in my world, which also includes cheesecake that doesn't make you fat.
But despite the fact that I can now look back and see telltale signs throughout our marriage, like a popcorn trail that leads me to the truth only in hindsight, I only really knew right before I confronted him. And at that point, there was no talking me out of it – though he tried doggedly. I knew. And it was simply a matter of time before he admitted it. It was the difference between knowing something in my head – kind of an "if it looks like a duck" analysis – and knowing it in my heart which is a knowing that floods your body all at once.
What about you? Did you know before you felt you had enough evidence to confront? At what point did you know? And what advice do you have for others who think they know?


  1. I knew in my gut but I completely denied it. I was willing to believe his lies because I had become used to walking on eggshells, had accommodated to his moods, and couldn't face reality and all the ugliness. I just watched and waited and when I caught him he confessed. The look of utter defeat on his face was sickening and memorable. My biggest regreat is that I wasn't more proactive right at the beginning when suspicion reared its ugly head. The fallout would have probably ended the marriage at that time. Now I have the daily pain of reconciliation.

  2. Sadly, I think too many of us know in our gut and deny it. We become good at ignoring what we know will be painful. Of course, as too many of us discover, we're only delaying the pain.
    And yes, reconciliation is painful...but I'm not sure it's any more painful than separation/divorce. It's the betrayal that hurts...
    What do you think?

  3. My husband's affair started with I was 3 months pregnant with twins and it ended when I saw some incriminating emails 5 days before the babies were born. (Talk about horrible timing, but isn't it always horrible no matter what?!) A couple weeks before I found out I had a dream (nightmare!) that he was having an affair. I woke up and told him about my nightmare and he immediately asked who he was having an affair with in my dream. Huh?! That's not the reassuring response I expected. I think I must have had a feeling then - before my nightmare - but I brushed it off as a common dream that pregnant women have. (That's true, actually... I read it in an expectant mother's book... but maybe it's also because it's not all that uncommon for dads-to-be to freak out & have affairs, according to my psychologist.) Anyways, I think there's probably capital 'K' KNOWING (with proof and admission) and there's little 'k' knowing (that instinct waaaaaay deep down that has some suspicions but oh my god this great man loves me and would never ever in a million years do such a ghastly thing). We now know and KNOW a different world and it's still hard to believe sometimes.

  4. Funny you mention a dream! I also had a dream about it – completely forgot about it until just now. I mentioned it to a friend and she laughed. "He'd never do that," she said, "and now with HER." Turns out he already was.
    And I suspect you're right re. the reason so many pregnant women have that nightmare is because so many expectant fathers are cheating!! It's shocking, isn't it?? Of all the low-down, scummy things to do to a woman who's already dealing with hormones, swelling, back pain.

  5. I didn't confront until after I received an anonymous note telling me of the affair. When I read the note, I felt a devastating punch in the gut and a wave of KNOWING traveled my entire being. I KNEW what the note said was true and that my knowing suspicions were all true. It all made sense now. All. Of. It.

    I'm just not sure someone who is in the 'knowing' stage is going to find a site like this. In my case I wasn't looking up this information/support until I KNEW. I was still stuck in the "he would never risk everything he has for that" stage.

    But, if someone is looking for the information, the advice I would give is that I've never regretted once KNOWING. I've regretted it ever happened. I have yet to give up the hope that my past can somehow be different (hence, no forgiveness here yet) but the fact that lots of other people KNEW and I didn't doesn't sit very well with me. It doesn't sit at all with me to tell the truth. There is no way to live an authentic life if you don't know. So, if you 'know,' my advice is to do whatever it takes to "KNOW" so you can get on with your life and not have it filled with lies, deceit and betrayal. That's just no way to live.

  6. Grrrr. Comments like that make my blood boil!! Whether it's some random OW or Jim Carrey!!

    I didn't know until he told me. He was working Mon to Fri in another city and had been for over a year. Sure he was moody and quiet but he had lost his job and had to leave the friends he had made there. I was trying to help him through the adjustment. I trusted him implicitly. And I am tired of being considered some sort idiot for that!

  7. Pippi,
    I know so many women who find out either via an anonymous source or the OW herself. Not that there's a good way to find out...but finding out that way is horrible.
    Yep – makes my blood boil, too. It's so smug but I think it's a way that others ensure themselves that it could never happen to them because they would know. I thought that, of course, until it happened to me. And I, too, attributed my husband's moods/behavior to job stress and other life issues. The fact that so many of us thought we were married to true-blue trustworthy husbands, though, makes me realize yet again that this is something that needs to become part of a larger conversation. None of thinks this is happening to any but us...but it is. It's just that none of us is talking about it openly. Perhaps if we did, these guys would be a lot less likely to think they could get away with it...and we'd be a bit more skeptical of their behaviour once all of us recognized just how common it is.

  8. No, I didn't know about the affair and just let it continue. I didn't suspect that he was having an affair until I heard an off-hand comment made by a friend. That night, the comment kept running through my head. I couldn't sleep, and around 3 a.m., I checked his phone. I wasn't one to check his phone, but something told me I had to check it. That's where I found their texts from that evening. I woke him up, and that was my DDay.

    Prior to that, I trusted. That's what we're supposed to do, right? Signs I should have seen: his truck was clean, he was using shower gels/body sprays, he shaved his back, he was withdrawn and grouchy... I'm sure there were other signs -- if only I'd been looking.

    I'm saddened by how common infidelity has become. So many sad stories out there.

  9. It's funny how those casual things – an off-hand comment or, in my case, that I couldn't reach my husband by cell phone – suddenly reveal to you the truth. As I said in my post, I think we sometimes know deep down though it takes a while to bubble to the surface. And then we KNOW.
    Yes, it is sad how common it is...but wonderful that so many of us can commiserate and help each other along as we get past it.

  10. I knew when he misdirected an email to me that was meant for OW#1 (while he was already on OW#2... so he was cheating on OW#1. He denied it of course and gaslighted me to the max and I rugswept that one. Then knucklehead left his secret email open on my iPad... so I really KNEW then. The confrontation happened almost immediately and that is the advice I would give to newbies to this awful journey - get your ducks in a row and confront when you are composed. Do not ever reveal your sources as the Cheater's handbook says, "admit to only what they know already" but there is always much more so ... if I could do it over again i would be a little more cunning about it and would probably have more info now than I do.

  11. Great advice, Janice. And yes, sadly that's exactly what the "Cheater's Handbook" says. I told my husband that he had better tell me EVERYTHING because if I found out anything later that he hadn't told me...he was out on his ass. So...he told me EVERYTHING about the woman I knew about. NOTHING about the umpteen others I hadn't a clue about.
    Not sure if there's any way around that. He eventually confessed when I got the feeling (six months later) that there was just something...more. Oh yeah...there was more. Ack.
    I'd love to compile a post of "best advice". The things we just we'd know how to do at the time. Please send any thoughts and I'll put them all together.

  12. I wish I could say I knew. I found out accidentally. He was upstairs putting the kids to bed, and I wanted to do something funny on his facebook page. So I got on his computer, figured out his password (he always uses a pattern), and noticed a weird website. A review site for prostitutes that he had left open. Found his reviews, read them, found a secret email account he had used. I hacked it, and found out he had been having trysts with hookers for the past 10 years of our 13 year marriage during his frequent business trips. I confronted him, and of course he lied his teeth off. Eventually when confronted with all the evidence, he confessed.

    I just found all this out about 3 weeks ago and I'm still reeling. He wants to work things out, but I made him move out for the time being. So far he has been on the straight and narrow, and has given all financial control over to me and access to his online accounts (not sure I have all of them, of course, just the ones he knows I know about).

    He's going to a therapist now for help with his "sex addiction", though I don't know if that is just a convenient excuse for him being a disgusting pervert. I never expected this to happen to us...I thought we lived a charmed life.

  13. Well...I say I knew but I DIDN'T know for many, many years. It was only when he got actually involved (as opposed to just sex) that I knew something was up. These guys are masters at compartmentalization. I don't know how he did it.
    In any case, it's no wonder you're still reeling. What a colossal shock. Calls into question everything you thought you knew about your life, your marriage, him, yourself... I think some guys use sex addiction as an excuse. But I could never understand my husband's behaviour until he told me he was in treatment for sex addiction. It was like the missing puzzle piece that make the whole thing make sense -- as much as this CAN make sense.
    Do what you can to help and heal yourself and let him manage his own recovery, if it is in fact an addiction. But learning about it yourself might help you determine if he is or isn't. Which might alter how you view being with him.
    And yes, I, too, thought I led a charmed life. Couldn't believe how "lucky" I was. Yeah...

  14. Thanks for responding, Elle. It was so hard to write that post - I was shaking so hard just thinking about everything. I think it *may* be possible that he has an addiction just based on the length of time and quantity of effort he put into this. In the two weeks before I found out, he had texted his few favorite prostitutes over 1200 times. 1200 in 2 weeks! More than necessary for making appointments! And don't get me going on how much money is gone - between $400 and $2000 a month for years and years. No wonder we were always scraping by - and I was clipping coupons for that!

    It put me in a vulnerable position because I haven't worked in 10 years to raise our babies. Now I'm trying to figure out where to go from here. I found a therapist who has helped another girl friend of mine through her divorce, and I'm hoping she will help me through these crazy emotions and stress. I'm also thinking of going back to school and getting another degree. I hope it works out.

    Thanks for creating this blog. It's been a real help to read through the posts and see how everyone has coped and dealt with their individual crises. It gives me strength when I need it most.

  15. I remember the hand-shaking – and the terror that, once I hit "send", somehow, somewhere I'd be exposed and my life would crumble.
    The whole world tends to feel unsafe in the wake of betrayal. I was jumpy and anxious. The bark of our dog could just about make me jump out of my skin. I was so on edge. Constantly scared.
    It helped me to have a friend, who worked with survivors of childhood sexual abuse, suggest that I had symptoms of post-trauma. It seemed extreme to think that -- as if I didn't "deserve" to treat my problem so seriously. But it honestly made a difference. I treated myself better because I accepted that what I was going through was truly traumatic. And I didn't expect so much of myself (ie. "Why aren't I over this yet? People deal with this every day!").
    You're going through hell. And, as the saying goes, "when you're going through hell...keep going."
    As best you can, keep putting one foot in front of the other. Get out of bed. Shower. Brush teeth. Order as much take-out as necessary. Let the dust accumulate if you can't bear to clean. Let your spouse take up the slack and let you simply grieve and breathe.
    The day will come when life seems "normal" again...but it takes a long time. Longer still if you fight it.

  16. I found out my husband was haBving an affair while working in another country by OW#1 which after digging around I found out she was actually OW#3!! I am still in pain 6 months later. Been married almost 20 years and have 4 kids together from a teenager to toddlers. He totally blames himself said I was the perfect wife, I did nothing wrong all the right words. I have never been treated better, everything he does is for me. His excuse was that he was angry towards everybody including God for taking his dad away from him too soon and he put up walls and blocked me and God out of his life making him a total jerk for many years. Knowing he was doing wrong in his life he was trying desperately to find a job at home each time he would come in but had a hard time finding something with enough income to support all of us. I know this is true because we sat down and tried to make the figures work at one point. He got upset that he had to go back, wanted away from her but had to keep it going because he was afraid she would contact me. When he finally did get another job and he emailed her telling her he wasn't going back she got angry and sent me messages telling me about the affair. I am glad she told me and so is my husband because he felt so guilty he didn't know what to do. The OW kept sending me messages on social media accounts until I blocked her and had to disable a few others. As soon as I would think I was rid of her she would find a way to get to me again. I even had to change my cell phone number due to harrasment from her. I'm guessing she has moved on now since she is no longer posting things where I can see them. My husband and I are trying our best to make things work, I have some really good days but also have some really bad ones. The anniversary of the day they met and had sex on that first date is coming do I get thru that day?? And the day I know they had sex while I was having surgery, and the day of their last hook up, and the day of discovery....does it ever end???!!!

    1. Anonymous,
      I'm so sorry for what you're going through. It's tough enough to deal with without some crazy OW contacting you and making it even worse. Glad she's out of the picture now.
      the short answer to your question is "yes, it does end." The longer answer is that it takes a long time. To get through those horrible anti-versaries, it helped me to make plans that felt like pampering or fun: manicure, lunch with friends, massage, a shopping trip to somewhere you don't usually go, a visit to a museum... It can help, too, for your husband to do these things with you (if you want him there). My D-Day was December 10 so every year my husband takes the day off work, we drive two hours away to a great outlet mall and we do our Christmas shopping. We have lunch, talk... It has taken a horrible day and made it one that I look forward to. D-Day number two is around my birthday so I had a facial one year...and spent the whole time crying. So it doesn't always work out the way I intend. It's better to be around people, I think, and focus on being with people who care about you.
      There's no quick fix. You have to rebuild your marriage at the same time you're rebuilding your sense of safety in the world. Betrayal like this is traumatic.
      The fact that your husband is supporting you through this is great. So let him...and take time to grieve the loss of what you thought you had. Go easy on yourself. You'll get through this. I wrote a month or so ago about how surprised I was to discover that the betrayal is well and truly behind me. It still pops up now and again...but it no longer defines my marriage or my life.

  17. I really don't have anybody to talk to, very few people know, 2 of his friends, 2 of my friends, his mom and my dad. My friends are dealing with their own drama, my dad being a male kinda takes his side and obviously his mom is not the best choice. We both would like to go to counseling but have not been able to A, find one to see us after work hours and B, find one that won't charge us an arm and a leg up front!! He took a job to be home but also a pay cut and I don't miss the money one bit I would happily do without to have him home...if he would have confessed to the affair when he was trying to come home before WE would have made it work!! I believe we will come out of this better then we were before, I know that sounds cliche but if we continue to communicate like we do now it's already way better! How do you get rid of the flashing images of your husband having sex with OW, I have tried telling myself to stop and visualizing the STOP sign but those don't work. I would greatly welcome anything that would help in this matter because to me right now that's my hardest problem. It has gotten better over the last few months but I don't want to see them AT ALL!!! I say we need a 1-800-betrayedwives # to call when we need somebody to just talk to!!!!!

  18. That's a great idea. I love the idea of a 1-800 number. I would have killed for such a thing in the early days post D-Day.
    Yeah, those mind movies can be a killer. The do eventually fade with time. I used to imagine a huge STOP sign whenever I would start to think about it. And I would remind myself that nothing, NOTHING good would come of me imagining it. It also helped me to know that my fantasies about their sex were nothing like the real thing. We tend to imagine porn-movie type sex when the truth is far more often that it's the usual garden-variety sex, or that her stomach jiggled, or that he farted in the middle of it or whatever.
    A counsellor can certainly help, though. I hope you can find someone that can help.
    In the meantime, it sounds as if you're doing really really great. It's hell...but there can be a silver lining if you're open to it.


  19. I didn't know a all, never suspected, nothing. I was completely blindsided the day h confessed. I was numb and in denial for the first two months as more and more came trickling out, driving the dagger deeper and deeper. I have never felt more naive, blind and stupid in my entire life. I have no idea how he'll ever manage to rebuild my trust.....I don't even trust him in a different room of the house let alone when he leaves.

  20. I knew that something wasn't right. I confronted him over and over and he denied it. I chose to trust his words because I thought he loved me too much to betray me that way. And while I still knew something was wrong, I thought it was me. I thought it was my fault. I thought it was something I was doing to make him not want to be intimate with me.

    I think this is probably common. We know something's wrong, but we think it's us. That we're just being paranoid.


  21. I only KNEW something wasn't right the day the act actually happened. He ran out with a vague "I have to meet Tom." (His co-worker/boss) and he was gone for five HOURS without saying a word. Turns out he had kissed the OW and he was going to meet up with her to "calm things down". Really?! So then you fucked her twice to try to get control of the situation?! I could just strangle him every time I think about that one.

    But the story didn't come out until almost two weeks later. And I had NO IDEA. He started getting teary saying things weren't working. I said I wanted to work on us because I loved him and couldn't loose him. Then he said "There's more." And I thought I literally had died. I could feel everything in my entire body go numb. When he said "I slept with someone else." I honestly had never been so shocked in my entire life. If someone had said "You're adopted, you have terminal cancer, there are aliens walking among us and you were actually born as a boy." I could not have been more blindsided.

    Betrayed wives know is just a fairytale people tell themselves so they can sleep at night knowing it will NEVER happen to them. Yeah. Good luck. 50-75% of you are in that boat RIGHT NOW! Scary thought.



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