Monday, July 8, 2013

How Secrets Silence Us: How to Find Your Voice After Betrayal


“The worst part…is imagining how alone he was. This is the most poisonous thing that secrets do to us – they isolate us from everyone around us and make us feel even lonelier than we are already are.” –Tim Kreider, from his collection of essays We Learn Nothing

"We're only as liberated as our secrets." —Oprah

Affairs thrive in the shadows of secrecy. The secrecy fuels the feelings of urgency, of excitement, of longing. But while that secrecy withers in the cold light of recrimination and obligation, that's not the secrecy I'm talking about.
What I'm referring to is the secrecy that we feed after we find out. The secrecy that forces us to smile at our kids' teacher when our hearts are broken. That prompts us to offer a halting, "I'm just not feeling too well," when a curious friend asks what's wrong. The secrecy we wrap ourselves in that leaves us feeling alone. That isolates us from those two words of comfort: "Me too."
Not all of us opts for secrecy, of course. Some of us scream their pain from the rooftops. They unleash cries of rage. They broadcast their husband's transgressions to anyone who will listen...and even some who'd prefer not to.
I envy those women. I envy them their weightlessness by refusing that heavy load of silence. I envy them the commiseration from others. I envy them the authenticity with which they can move forward, no masks, no pretence.
That, however, is not me.
I opted for secrecy for a number of reasons.
•Shame. I was, frankly, embarrassed to find myself married to someone who would do this. But deeper than that, I didn't completely believe that his behaviour wasn't a reflection on me. As the child of alcoholics, I had a long history of carrying others' actions as my own shame. So, at least at first, I defaulted to "don't let others know what's really happening."
•Co-dependence: I also had a long history of protecting others from the consequences of their actions. While my husband had to face a boss and a lawyer in order to remove the OW from his employ, I didn't put him in a position where he had to face his clients, his own family or our friends. To a degree, I protected him. But I was also protecting...
•Financial stability: My husband's job depends on the trust of his clients. And though he'd been deceitful with me, there was no indication (indeed he insisted) that he'd ever been deceitful with his clients. Without any evidence that he'd actually done anything wrong where his clients were concerned, doing anything that might negatively impact his income seemed like cutting off MY nose to spite HIS face. It would serve nothing, except a desire for revenge.
•My children: More than any other reason, I opted for silence out of protection for my children. They love their father, which is as it should be. Yes, I could argue persuasively that he hadn't acted very loving toward them by jeopardizing their mother's emotional and physical health. But, honestly, did they need to know this? What would be served by informing young children of their father's idiocy? The pain it would cause them, the confusion it would engender...and for what? So I kept my mouth shut, though I did explain my tears and general sadness by saying that Mommy and Daddy were having "problems" but that we were working on them.
Most of the time, I'm glad for the path I chose. I'm glad that the world doesn't know exactly what my marriage looks like on the inside. I'm glad I don't have to reassure people that I'm fine. That we're better.
Still, there are times when silence weighs heavy. When, as Oprah points out, I don't feel as "liberated" as I'd like to feel.
It took me many years (decades!) to speak openly about my parents' alcoholism. Now, those who know me well and those to whom I'm a new acquaintance are just as likely to know my history. An offhand comment about my childhood, or a reference to my mother's years in AA make it clear that I have no secrets where that's concerned.
And I suspect the day will come when I'm (almost) as candid about my husband's infidelity. Even now, the circle of people who know is growing. My children are still unaware, but I wonder if even that day will come. I won't lie about it...so if ever my kids ask me if infidelity affected their parents, I'll come clean.
What silence have you chosen? It's an important question. Who are you protecting? What are you hiding from? The answers can give you insight and help you move forward in healing.


31 comments:

  1. Elle...well I chose the tell everyone approach. I had isolated myself for the past year trying to figure out what was wrong with my marriage and my spouse. (i have posted most of story on the post about feeling foolish). Yes I was embarrassed but in my mind there is nothing...I mean nothing.....that I did to justify his affair. So for me I felt by telling others he would be embarrassed. Now I don't know if he is because he has chosen the OW over me. So for you keeping silent might have to do with the fact you are trying to save your marriage. I have no choice in the matter: he has filed for divorce and is in an apartment that he rented four days after he left. Nice....huh? I dont want to protect him at work because the OW is his secretary. So he already took cases of the workplace although I still think he lied to them because she is still there. My children are 22 and 18 so my choice was to tell them the truth since he had basically told me several times that the kids were grown and didn't really need us. I tell because I have to get the pain out....I don't know how you hold it in. Its only been two months so I am still very raw and my emotions run wild, up and down, but I will continue to talk.....I just can't be silent!
    GLS

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    1. GLS,
      I think you're right -- you do need to get the pain out. Be careful though that you don't redefine yourself as simply a victim. I think there can be a danger in letting the fact that you've been "wronged" become who you are. Let it out...but the time will come when it's time to move forward.
      In the meantime, are your kids supportive? It's a hard position for them to be in. Of course they love him...and it must be hard to watch one person you love hurt another person you love.
      Hang in there, GLS. It will get better. Really.

      Elle

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  2. My daughter is the one who came to me last year and suspected he was doing something. I was blind but she wasn't. She has been convinced of it for awhile. She is very mad at him and is having a hard time. My son is handling things pretty well. We talk often and he has been pretty expressive about the whole thing. He has met with his dad twice for dinner and hasn't said much of what they discussed. I try to not put him in the middle by asking lots of questions about their relationship or about my soon to be ex. The big deal for both of them is the OW. As she was a friend to all of us both of my kids a have expressed they never want to be around her and my son as expressed that to his a dad; that this changes the future for him with all holidays and even with grandkids one day. The fact that she befriended my whole family and then took their dad has them floored. But they do understand that he chose this too and is still choosing it. I don't know if them knowing was the right thing, but I know at the time it seemed to be the right thing. My son has thanked me several times for telling him the truth. He has said he would have been offended if I sheltered him. He is a wonderful man and I'm very proud of him. My daughter is amazing as well although she doesnt want to talk as much.... She lived with us the last year and he was slowly distancing himself from her to the point of me having to ask him at 9:30 pm if he had spoken to her all day and the usual answer as no. So it was something evident. He simply confirmed it.

    I agree....I do not want to play the victim and now I really only talk to people who ask me how I am doing or shows an interest. I don't just talk to talk anymore. I am trying my best in what seems right now a very bleak situation. Its probably then worst thing that has ever happened to me....
    GLS

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    1. GLS,
      You're not alone in believing it's the worst thing that's ever happened to you. I felt the same way as did so many of us. It's such a violation when the person you trusted most betrays that trust. It takes a long time to move past that.
      That said, it sounds as if you're handling all of this really well. I'm glad you've got your kids for support. They're certainly old enough to understand what's going on and draw their own conclusions. And they're clearly no fools about the OW, although that stance might soften with time.
      Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm sure there are many others who can relate.

      Elle

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  3. My husband is a Bipolar 2 who is also an addict. The OW was someone who worked for him. I told everyone. I sent their emails to his supervisor-the OW was removed from his unit (but it did not stop their relationship, of course which was my goal) and he was placed on a year probation for carrying on with a subordinate. Looking back I know that I reacted emotionally rather than intellectually. The OW had the audacity to text me nasty messages and then unleash her new "Homeless guy from CA" druggie boyfriend on me. I had to get the PD involved. We do have 2 small children and I did everything to protect them but I refuse to protect my husband or the OW. This woman had babysat for us, she had been in my home. I still want her destroyed. She no longer works for CPS (thank God- a person that can walk into a home and demand a drug/alcohol test on a parent when they themselves are planning their next drug fix) and he is sober a little over a month now. I have been attending Al Anon for months now and I am struggling with his disease and the fact that he had an emotional affair. Thank you for your blog- it has been a God send for me.

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  4. Elle,
    I feel as though I am in a dilemma. My husband had first affair 7 years ago and second a year ago. The first time we kept it between us, I was so proud of how we had moved forward. He truly seemed sorry and ashamed and for that we came to not mention what had happened. This second affair he still said how he loved me and brought back gifts for me from his work trips during the ordeal. Once found out we have gone to therapy on and off and still kept it to ourselves for the sake of our children. He ended it immediately and has continued to say how he loves me needs me and still does the same super kind things that he always has. That's the problem. He refuses to talk about it when I'm sad. Always the same answers, why ruin this nice moment?, can't we ever just forget about it and move forward? I always cry and say that I need reinforcement different than he has always done. He promises to try and back in same pattern. Super loving and kind but nothing different. Am I wrong to feel that this same behavior is pushing me in a hole of lonely sadness. I feel frightened and alone. If it can happen when he's so nice how can I accept the same everything. I am not even sure what I want I just know that I don't feel forever in my heart this way. A sorry I hurt you every first week of the month or a flower on the pillow once a month, something anything to say this is a guy I haven't seen before. Something for me to hold on to to get out of this sinking hole. The same nice loving words and actions scare me more than they seem to help me. Not sure if I even make sence. Any advice would be appreciated. Therapist says someone who has done this twice is a narcissist who is incapable to fully love in the way I believe in love. What a sad thought. Hope to hear from you soon.

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    1. Your husband's behaviour is not uncommon. It's hard for someone who has cheated to be reminded of it -- it often triggers shame and guilt. The thing is, they don't get to decide how to move forward. You do. You're the injured party and you need to set out certain guidelines around what you need.
      But first, let's take a step back. He cheated seven years ago, and now he's cheated again. He clearly didn't learn his lesson the first time around -- that cheating devastates the woman he loves. Given he's simply doing the same old, same old, what makes you think that this time is different? It's not enough that he says he's "sorry". It's not enough that he simply follows what you ask of him. In order to ensure that this NEVER happens again, he needs to get clear on what he's telling himself that makes it okay to proceed with an affair. That he deserves this? That no-one really gets hurt? Unless he is a narcissist, which is quite possible, there's some messed up thought pattern that is leading him down this well-worn path.
      What's more, what's in this for YOU? Given that this has happened before and you thought you'd recovered from it, what is in it for you to give him a second chance? Does he really deserve it? What if this happens again? What's your "deal-breaker"? I'm all for giving people second chances, as long as they're willing to do the incredibly hard work of figuring out what made them screw up in the first place, do whatever is needed to help their partner heal, and take steps to ensure it never happens again. I confess I'm less sympathetic for a repeat offender. Especially one who thinks he can follow some script and simply step back into his before-affair life.
      Give this some serious thought and determine whether you might also have some unhealthy relationship patterns that allow you to accept a facsimile of love as the real thing.
      You deserve the real thing.

      Elle

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  5. Elle thank you for your quick response. What keeps me here again you ask is my two teenagers in the heat of high school trying so hard to succeed and stressed at that to get the grades and sat scores to get to a good college. They love family time unlike many teens. My husband is a pilot and how cliche it was with two flight attendants. He travels three to 4 days a week around the world. Claims the lonelyness was what got to him twice and some added beer. I knew both times because he doesn't handle stress well. Along with therapist we have a legal document stating what if it happens again. Basically he forfeits everything to me. I believe this to mean something. I can only hope. The problem is he hurts to speak of it and can't seem to and I need to. When he stays silent I end up getting mean and throwing it back at him because I need to be told reinforcing thoughts and words. Not just the ones I've always heard. Believe me if not for children I would have never even put in the effort the first time, not to say that I regretted it. I think I want him to say mean things about her, something. The silence makes me think that he can't say bad things because he did like her. What a position to be in. The only thing I am positive about is that trauma to my teens lives now would destroy their futures. Some things you just know as a mom. Thanks for listening.

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    1. My kids are what kept me from leaving within the first hour of finding out. So I completely understand what you're saying.
      From what I understand, the "pilot" culture is one of infidelity. My husband is in finance (investments) and it's a very similar environment. Lots of ego, lots of opportunity, lots of alcohol after hours. But that's something that needs to be addressed so that he has a plan when opportunity arises again. Sort of an "if a happens, then I need to do b", or "if I'm feeling a, then I need to do b". Whether "b" is call home and talk to you, or pull out your photograph, or text his sons or something to remind him of the cost of cheating.
      And yes, he needs to hear your pain. No doubt it's hurtful for him, but that's part of the cost of cheating. It's like convicted criminals having to listen to victim impact statements. It's a crucial part of the victim feeling heard. You feeling silenced simply propagates your pain, which is entirely unfair.
      He might fear that if he "allows" this, then it'll go on for the rest of your lives. But usually the opposite happens. Once you feel safe to express yourself and trust his support when you're in pain, the more quickly you'll move past the need for it. Again, perhaps in the context of counselling you can do this.
      Hang in there.

      Elle

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  6. I totally understand the "I think I want him to say mean things about her, something."

    It has been about 2 years for us, and sometimes at the beginning, I really wanted to hear that, too. At the time I was going through a lot of "What's so great about her?" stuff.

    Then, for about the next year, we went through a phase where I'd actually tell my husband, "Say she's horrible," "Say you hate her", "Say you wish she was dead", "Say her first name and her last name - and then say - is a skank." And, surprisingly, he would do it. I know it was usually just to get me to stop crying, but none-the-less.

    I knew it was mean and juvenille, but it made me feel better. I always wanted to be ready incase I someday met that horrible woman, and no matter what mean thing she would say to me, I could say, "He hates you and wishes you would die. He says it all the time."

    (Now, I'm just sort of tired of thinking about her at all ...)

    My heart sincerely goes out to anyone who is going through this more than once in their life ...

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  7. In my last comment, I forgot to respond to the actual post...

    Secrets

    This stuff is lonely. I don't talk about it with anyone. A few people knew when it happened 2 years ago (because I fell apart at work really bad one day), but I don't discuss it with anyone.

    The only person I turn to for help getting through everything is my husband. And that can be tricky. A lot of times I find myself saying, "I'm not talking about this to hurt you. I'm talking to you because I don't talk to anyone else about it and you're my best friend."

    Even though it can be incredibly painful talking to him about it, we are to a point where he seems to understand somedays, sometimes, I just have to talk to him about it because otherwise it just hurts too much inside me. (And, thank goodness, those days are becoming less often.)

    Regarding telling other people, yes, there are weird times where something related to it should just come up in conversation (not like a drama, just a "this happened" part of something we're talking about...) and it makes me feel a little pressured to not say anything. However, growing up I had a lot of family stuff that was also not to be topics of conversation, so I sort of feel used to that.

    Thanks again for providing this site where it's OK to "talk" about it all : )

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    1. Amy,
      I too grew up with a lot of secrets, which is part of why I hate this secrecy so much. I feel like I've spent my adult life living in a such a way that I don't need to keep secrets. I hated it. I wanted to be able to be open and honest. For my kids to not have any shame attached to their families.
      However, another thing I've learned through all this is that life isn't black or white. There's a lot of grey involved and sometimes my private life isn't anyone else's business. And sometimes people take our circumstances and use them against us. So sometimes keeping secrets isn't about shame but about self-preservation.
      I'm glad your husband is able to support you at those times when you need it. I hated the fact that my husband, the person to whom I usually went to for support, was the person who made me need the support.

      Elle

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  8. I have wanted to say to people, "I've had the worst year of my life." Just because I wish the people near me understood that I've been in pain, or to help explain some lapse. But I can't because I've chosen to keep my husband's affair a secret. That isolates me sometimes, makes me feel lonely and a bit removed from people. And it means I don't get sympathy or kind words when I know that would sometimes help.

    My reasons are good and I'm very secure about my decision. We don't have children, but there are friends and family close to us who would have a terrible time reconciling what my husband did with who they believe him to be. I know, of course, because I had to struggle with that. But I know him to be a good person who screwed up badly and has deep remorse for his actions. I know this, and I don't think those close to us need to go through that whole process, too. It would be painful for them and painful for me and my husband, and for what?

    So my decision has its negative side, that's for sure. But it's like many aspects of this whole situation: You can't win either way. You just have to figure out the best way FOR YOU to get through it all. In my case, secrecy is the answer. In others' situations, it's not. Or because of how the affair was revealed, maybe it was never an option. And like Elle, I envy those of you who aren't keeping it a secret. I envy your ability to vent, to ask anyone for sympathy, and to talk over the details with friends.

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  9. This is exactly the reason I believe infidelity is worse than a cancer diagnosis. I will say this to the end of time whether or not I ever receive a cancer diagnosis in my lifetime. If I'd had gotten a cancer diagnosis, I'd have told EVERYONE AND I MEAN EVERYONE. I'd have gotten more hugs, more words of love and support, and maybe a few nice free meals or flowers thrown in. As a victim of infidelity, I got nothing because I too have so much shame, I didn't want people to know my husband cheated on me. Last year was the worst year of my life, and I'm sure my co-workers and friends knew something was not all well with me, but I chose not to tell anyone but two close friends, isolating myself. A cancer diagnosis would do the opposite for me, and I'm guessing many, many betrayed spouses would agree. It has delayed my healing in many ways I'm convinced.

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  10. It's been 11 months since d-day. I chose to keep my husbands affair private. It is very lonely sometimes, most of the time.

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    1. I've slowly opened up over the years to certain friends, which helps me feel a little less like I'm locked in some parallel universe.
      I think it's important to have at least someone who knows what you're going through, even a therapist. Do you have anyone?

      Elle

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    2. I started going to a therapist about 4 months after he told me. I see her every other week. Ironically I feel guilty if I say how I really feel, we usually talk about how I can help myself. This site has helped me so much. I feel like, even if I dont know them personally, there are women out there that understand exactly how I feel.

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    3. Your therapist is there to help you get to wherever you want to go, and he/she can only truly help you if you're completely honest.
      Why do you feel guilty? That's definitely something to explore.
      Which brings up a sometimes unexpected gift of dealing with a spouse's infidelity -- the chance to dig deeper into our own hearts and minds and create a life of rich authenticity. Sometimes, when everything blows up, it exposes parts of ourselves and our marriages that we'd kept really well hidden. It can be really frightening to pull those parts into the light and examine them, but it's the only way to create a life that's truly ours and not simply a default existence.
      I hope you'll open up to your therapist. If you feel that you can't, it might be time to find another therapist with whom you feel absolutely safe.

      Elle

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  11. I kept it secret and still keep it secret from everyone except this community, because it's safe here. Shame, guilt and fear where the reasons to begin with - I was so ashamed that I wasn't enough, so guilty for not speaking out sooner, afraid he would choose her and leave. He stayed, we worked hard, he took and takes full responsibility for all of it (I know I took him for granted, I know I let the passion go - but now I also know that i didn't cheat- he did!)
    Some days I just want to curl up and die still, other days I thank god for what I do have.
    This to me is/was more painful than anything else I have ever dealt with it, including burying a parent and miscarrying a baby. I'm not who I used to be- I've changed so much I hardly recognise myself anymore - some changes for the better, some not!
    I survived - I'm stronger, my marriage is stronger.

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    1. Anonymous,

      I could have written your post. That's exactly how I feel. It's why I created this community -- to give us a safe place to share our experience but also to have others remind us when we're going down a dangerous path (ie. blaming ourselves, obsessing about what we can't control, giving in to shame...).
      I too had days when I wanted to curl up and die. That lasted for a couple of years, at least. Not all the time, but certainly days. But, like you, I also began to feel truly grateful for what I had. I was much better able to not sweat the small stuff.
      None of us will ever be the same after this. We can choose to allow this to make us stronger and wiser, or we can let it make us bitter. I choose the former. Sounds like you have too.

      Elle

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  12. Hi Elle
    It's Bee, the above post was from me - got upset didn't finish or sign my name! Also still not very good on the computer (or spelling) so haven't figured out how to create a name yet without physically typing Bee!
    Anyway I've come a long way since the first time I wrote anything here, November 2012! I've come this far because at home I've got a husband who loves me and online I've got you and the rest of you ladies who understand and never judge, and only ever offer support. Thank you to each and every one of you, to you elle words could never express how grateful I am. This blog, your words, thoughts, posts, and help to each and every one of us is the reason I didn't put my head in the oven at beginning!
    Anyway I got upset earlier because I wanted to share the following..
    He's ill and suddenly it all seems such a waste of time - that's not exactly what I mean. I couldn't have dealt with things any differently than I did, I can't rewrite that history anymore than I can rewrite what he did. But I don't have time to waste any more being angry, sad, bitter or looking back. I want to use the time we have enjoying now, loving each other now. I just wanted to say sometimes its ok to move on and forgive and even pretend you forget because it can all be taken away from us in the blink of an eye.
    Bee

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    1. Bee,

      I'm so sorry your husband is ill. Though it pains me to admit it, sometimes I think what I've gone through has given me the gift of knowing just how precious each moment is. None of this is easy...and frankly I would have preferred to learn this lesson differently. But this is the way the universe delivered and I know that I learned some pretty powerful lessons throughout this – lessons that have made my life sweeter.
      Please know we're rooting for both you and your husband and sending strength.
      Thank-you for your kind words. This site wouldn't be worth a thing if it wasn't for readers who've opened themselves up to share their own experiences and offer up support to each other. We're a formidable bunch, full of compassion and wisdom.
      Please keep us posted how you and your husband are doing.

      Elle

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  13. It's important to remember that once you reveal the secret to any one (except maybe clergy or a counselor) you no longer control where that secret goes. My sister, thinking she was helping, did tell our secret to someone else. We may be releasing our burden by sharing, but we place that burden on those in whom we confide.
    I have felt safe in my support group, and though we are encouraged to not divulge private details, I have, and I will continue to do so whenever a) it will benefit my healing or b) benefit someone else's healing. It's definitely important to find someone to confide in. Whether it is online, through some sort of counseling, or in our most trusted confidants. How else will we find the validation necessary for our healthy progress?

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    1. Absolutely. And that's a good point re. putting the burden on others. I didn't tell a close friend because she was going through her own hell and it just seemed like more than she could handle right then. It's important to choose your confidantes closely. The best are those who can share your burden without taking it -- without telling you what to do about it, but instead simple being with you in your pain.
      It's also important to find those (in real life or online) who can validate your experience. This stuff can be crazy-making and it's crucial to have people who can say, 'yeah, been there...and here's how I survived'.

      Elle

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  14. I told my sisters and 2 best friends. It was a relief to talk to them, but I've two opposite reactions now. My sisters would prefer that I work it out with H for the kids' sake while my friends want me to end it and move on.

    That has added to all the confusion already in my mind. It's been 2 months from the most recent d-day and almost a year from the first one (He cheated with the same OW multiple times, going back and forth with me and her)

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    1. I think the role of those we confide in is to support us in our decision. Nobody should be making our choices for us...because we're the ones who have to live with them. It can be easy to think we know what's "best" for someone, but -- unless the person is incapable of making a healthy choice, because of addiction or abuse -- we simply don't know.
      I think you'd be wise to ask both your sister and your friends to allow you the space/time to decide what's best for you and your kids. Base this on what you want, what your husband wants, what he's willing (or not willing) to do to help rebuild your marriage. You can thank them for their support. And it's understandable that they think they're helping...but they're not.

      Elle

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  15. The OW texted me to say how lonely she was.

    I never replied to any of her messages. I suppose she was trying to get me to leave my husband so she could step in.

    sigh. My husband has been so wishy washy its horrible.

    he says the affair totally wiped out whatever feelings he had for me. Here i was having to deal with him having cheated on me.. and now to make this marriage work it seems i have to make him love me again. Its terrible. :(

    He kept promising and swearing that he had stopped all contact.. but then i would find out he hadnt. It happened countless times. He just couldnt keep to his words.

    His family knows. Mine too. And a few of my friends who have basically told me to just leave. Sigh.

    now.. after the threat of divorce.. he has said he wants to work on it.. i dont know what to expect because he isnt really doing what hes supposed to do. Whats he supposed to do anyway? To show that je really means it?

    He has lived such an individualistic and full of deceit life for the past few years that expecting him to be transparent seems like such a tall order. Its driving me crazy.

    He has now declined therapy although he said he would when he told me to retract the divorce application. He says.. it should come from his own accord.. if not it will not work.

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    1. Iliss,

      You need to set strong boundaries around what you will and will not tolerate. For starters, you will NOT tolerate him going back on his word about seeking counselling. You will NOT tolerate him lying to you about contact. You will NOT tolerate him dictating the terms of reconciliation. From now on, YOU get to decide the terms.
      1. Absolutely no contact.
      2. Total honesty and transparency. Access to all devices.
      3. A commitment by him to counselling.
      4. Whatever else you deem necessary.
      You need to establish consequences in the event that he violate any of these terms. Since you've initiated divorce proceedings, perhaps that's your consequence. If he violates these (and it sounds as if he will, since he has already), then you will proceed. And then -- and this is crucial -- follow through. Don't back down. Don't fall for his wishy-washy bullshit. Show him that you are not to be messed with. That even if he doesn't mean what he says, you DO.
      You don't deserve this insanity but you're allowing it. I strongly urge you to also get counselling to figure out why you've tolerated this. It's absolutely not okay.
      As for his OW? She's lonely? Why the hell is that your problem? Tell her to get a life and stop trying to steal yours. Better still, don't respond. Ever. Treat her like poison ivy and steer clear.

      Elle

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  16. Oh I just copied that last post and Elle's response into a note which I can re-read because my cheating jerk husband has also been unable to let go of her. He asked if we could work on this but in the 1st therapy session he needed more time to decide because he's "still getting something from that relationship." Next therapy session he said he needs his own place to live to figure things out and hasn't had time to break things off with her.

    I said why do you assume i will be around on e your head clears?
    I told him take all the time you need. I'm walking away from this. I can't keep getting kicked in the gut every day while you decide between me and her. He stormed out of the session and I continued alone.
    I only found out for certain 2 weeks ago after almost a year of tortured suspicion and I am out of my mind with confusion, rage, humiliation and sorrow.
    I learned from this site that its not enough to just ask to work it out. Work must be done. Remorse must be expressed. I am trying to be strong and do what's best for me and my 5 year old son. I feel i must give up on what we once had that was good and move towards divorce, but I am obliterated.

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    1. Obliterated is pretty much how we all feel, regardless of whether our husbands are remorseful or not. Betrayal is a trust violation -- it goes to the very core of what we believe and where we feel safe in this world.
      Stay strong. It sounds as if your five-year-old keeps you grounded and focussed on taking care of yourself and him. That's the most important thing right now.
      Your husband, sadly, might learn too late what he's lost.

      Elle

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