Wednesday, October 23, 2013

When you can't just "get over it"


Just as I think there must be a playbook for cheaters, I sometimes think there must also be one for husbands who stay in the marriage. It probably contains such lines as "You'll never let me live this down, will you!" Or "if you're going to bring this up every time you're mad at me, we'll never get past this." Or "I can't spend the rest of my life saying 'sorry'". 
Sound familiar?
One of the hurdles betrayed wives often have to clear is their husband's admonishments to get over it. It can be overt or, more often, subtle. But no matter, it's harmful either way. The thing is, we're trying to get over it. We want nothing more than to get over it. But, ultimately, we figure out that there really is no getting over it. We can get through it and get past it...but rarely do we get over it. 
It's not just a matter of semantics. To get through it, we need to process our emotions, to acknowledge the pain we're in, take steps to address the residual damage from betrayal. To get past it, we find that we've arrived at a place where we can accept what's happened and while few of us are glad for the experience, we can recognize that some good came out of it. Getting "over" it, implies leaping past all that damage to a new stage where our husbands are magically forgiven and their act of betrayal is never spoken of again. We get "over" the flu. We get "through" betrayal. 
A crucial part of getting through is exploring just how this has impacted us. We desperately need someone who can acknowledge our pain, who understands that each of us walks a different path, a different timeline. Someone who understands that betrayal changes who we are, and that we need to figure out who this new us is. It's one of the reasons I created this site. To give betrayed wives a safe place to process everything they're going through, with the benefit of the experience of those further along the path to healing. 
A therapist can be a lifesaver. Someone to help you examine the role you played in the breakdown of the marriage, without ever holding you to blame for your spouse's choice to cheat. My own therapist kept my head above water. But I've heard stories of therapists who, clearly, don't have a clue about betrayal. 
But there's another tool in your arsenal. It was a desire for a wise someone with whom she could talk – someone ideally who understood intimately the experience of betrayal having been through it herself – that prompted Laura S., a betrayed wife in California, to create the Infidelity Counselling Network, a free phone counselling service for betrayed spouses. Laura and I discovered each other on social media. Since then, we've talked personally and shared our stories. We've grown to appreciate and support each other's work, knowing how important it is to have that sense of community in the wake of betrayal. Her Infidelity Counselling Network has been busy training peer counsellors (who've been through betrayal themselves) to provide wisdom and support to callers. If you crave someone anonymous  with whom to share your experience, give Laura's counsellors a call: 650-521-5897, ext. 101.


65 comments:

  1. Elle

    This came at a very apt time...I had a fight with my husband last night, over something really small...and he started accusing me that I'm staying in this relationship only because he's forcing me to and that I'm not happy about it.

    Well, I'm trying hard to accept him back after he cheated on me for 3 years with my friend. Even after I found out, confronted him, he repeatedly went back to her. Now after 4 months, he's stopped all contacts with her, and swears he loves only me and wants to be with the family. Well, I'm not over it yet. The details of the affair is too fresh in my mind (having read all the graphic details in the emails exchanged between them), the repeated betrayal is too much to handle and I'm not sure if I love him anymore.

    I definitely need this!

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    1. Anyone who carries on an affair with your friend (some friend!!!) for three years doesn't have a leg to stand on. Factor in NOT stopping it when found out, and he's got a LOT to remedy. That fact that you haven't killed him (and her) makes you a saint.
      What he clearly doesn't grasp is just how incredibly deep the wound he inflicted goes. Four months is mere seconds in the healing-from-betrayal timeline. You're likely still in some sort of shock.
      And of course you don't quite know what you want to do and whether you love him. He's behaved in a detestable way.
      You need to give yourself time to sift through all this stuff and figure out whether you want to give him (and if he deserves) a second chance. He took his sweet time deciding whether or not he wanted to stay in the marriage...now he needs to give you the same chance.
      Most experts suggest not doing anything final for at least six months after finding out. It takes that long, they reason, to finally digest it all and figure out what's next.
      Hang in there. The ball is in your court. If he can't give you time without pressure or accusations, then he's being incredibly selfish. Again.

      Elle

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  2. I'm 17 months out from Dday and one thing that I continue to struggle with is a sense of horror at myself for staying. Did you experience anything like that? My husband is doing all he can - therapy, individual counseling, treating his long-denied depression, he's accountable for his time and his activities, etc - it's not that I'm horrified that I'm staying with HIM but that I stayed at all. I continue to judge myself as weak and pathetic. I'm trying to tell myself different stories - to see staying as a strong and courageous thing - but I have these waves of horror out of nowhere. I'd like that part of getting through this to come to an end.

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    1. Yes, I too struggled with that. Ultimately though I realized that I was more concerned about what others might think of me staying. The reality of my situation was that my husband was truly making change. He was becoming a far better husband and father. I honestly believed he deserved a second chance…and that it was better for all of us to give it to him.
      But society's notions of cheating don't leave much room for that option. Women are applauded for kicking the guy out. Those who stay are dismissed as doormats. And though we know it takes incredible strength and bravery to turn a marriage around, those deeply ingrained messages affect us.
      What finally "cured" me was recognizing that, on my death bed, I'm not going to think to myself that I was glad I "showed him" by kicking him out. I knew that, at the end of my life, I would nonetheless be proud of my own integrity and conviction and strength in keeping my family intact. That my kids deserved a home with their father in it. That's not right for everybody…but it was right for me. And I have no regrets. What's more, I'm far more aware now of how many women must be going through this (or have gone through it) and none of us know because those who stay simply don't talk about it.

      Elle

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    2. Your reply Elle, was spot on. I have wavered little in my desire to stay. But my women friends and sisters who haven't had the experience of infidelity keep saying subtle things that make me feel weak, naive or stupid for staying. Most people think it is a "deal breaker" but if you both are committed to restoring love and trust, you have something worth trying to recover. I am the only one who knows what my husband is really like and what our relationship is based on--there was love and trust. We just created alot of pain between us and we have to take responsibility for what we have each done. The waves of horror are just that, waves. If your partner is doing the work and you are too, there are no warning signs that he is pathological or still hiding, you can ride the waves.

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    3. I'm going through the same thing.I think"how could i be so stupid?...so weak?" My husband, too, is dealing with depression and is now taking steps to "get a handle"on it (damage already done). I feel like his depression , his lack of self esteem and insecurities is the excuse I give myself for staying and trying to work it out...and despite all the hurt and indescribable pain he has caused me, I feel this weird need to protect him?...maybe I'm an enabler.ugghh

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  3. I really appreciate this blog post. I can't believe what great timing! I am 20 months out from d-day #1 and 17 from d-day #2 and yes, this pretty much sums up where we are at right now. My husband has done everything he can possibly do from d-day #3 on to earn back my trust (he has) and we are both still in therapy but we are having a rough time. It seems like now I'M the "bad one" who can't forgive and he's now the "good guy" cuz I believe even our marriage counselors seem to treat him like wow isn't he amazing cuz they probably see so many crappy husbands who never do the hard work after cheating to keep their marriages together. Pardon me if I'm not "over" it yet. You're right, it's about being heard by the one who hurt us. Thank you for hearing me today.

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    1. It's crucial that both of you recognize that healing has its own timeline. Like grief, you can't rush yourself through it because it you "should" be further along. Unlike the grief that follows death, there's a "bad guy" in this scenario who wants you over it so that he isn't reminded of what he's done.
      It's wonderful that he's made such positive change. But just like a drunk driver who stops drinking and goes to AA, it doesn't alter the fact that he ran somebody over before he embarked on self-improvement. I doubt you're trying to punish him…you're just acknowledging the deep, deep wound that betrayal creates and doing your best to heal it, not pretend it isn't there.

      Elle

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    2. I hear you...my husband told a few of his close friends of what he did. He also said that he's now back with me and we are trying to work it out. They just applaud him for owning up his mistakes and making amends.

      No one asks me how I feel about the situation or if I'm actually taking him back. It's like I've no choice but to accept him back, now that he's on the mend!!!

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    3. Anon, im 5 months from DDay1, 4 from DDay 2 and 3 weeks from DDay 3. We went through 3 counsellors and have finally found someone who is blunt and honest with my husband. This new counsellor is the first to tell him ZERO contact, and that even in the future he CANNOT have friendships with women. Something is broken inside of him that makes him step outside our marriage. My husband is making amends and working much harder now at being better at giving me the time and the reassurance I need for recovery. He has been downloading "affair recovery radio" podcasts and has been listening to them while he's driving for work. I don't know if any of this helps at all, but you aren't alone. you aren't crazy. and one day at a time you will get through this. xo

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    4. Beverly,
      Thanks for sharing that. We're all stronger for the support we're given.

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  4. I am still struggling to forgive 10 months post D day. My husband was rejected for an academic promotion today - as the OW had complained to the university about their affair, I couldn't help but ask him if the complaint had been a factor. He was furious with me, but I was secretly glad

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    1. Ten months out is still really early in terms of healing. Forget about "forgiveness" right now and focus on simply observing his behaviour within the marriage. Accept that, as you continue to see him committed to you, creating positive change in himself, the feeling that leads toward "forgiveness" will grow and it won't seem like something you do so much as something that happens.
      In the meantime, be gentle with yourself. Betrayal is excruciating and takes a long time to heal from.

      Elle

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  5. I'm almost 2 years out and still wonder if I should be with him. The OW had claimed she was pregnant at the time and he did stop all contact with her the day he told me, but I still haven't been able to get past the affair. This was the 2nd in our 10 year relationship, the first was about 4 months in and I found out about 6 months after. Why do men have to be so incredibly stupid?

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  6. I am very confused about 4 months ago I asked my husband if he loved the ow and he said yes I also asked him if he wanted to be with her and he was not able to answer it he said it was a tough question he also said he loves me this happened about 4 months ago we have been doing great. However we have not been able to be sexually active with each other he said feelings are not there not that he doesnt love me....he hasnt spoken to her in like 6 months....should I be worried....will the sex come back?? Why was he not able to answer to my question? Thank you in advance.

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    1. I can't answer your question about whether the sex will come back. Is he not able to be sexual with you? Or not willing? Is it a physical issue? An emotional one?
      He didn't answer your other question because he didn't want to hurt you. It's possible to love you…and still want to be with the other person. He's likely still deep in the fog of the affair. But without further information, I really don't have a clue what sort of affair he had. Did she end it?
      As for your question, "should I be worried?", if you're asking do I think he's capable of cheating again, the answer is yes. It doesn't sound as if he's clear on what he wants. The deeper question is what do YOU want? What do you need to see from him to have the marriage you want?

      Elle

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    2. I'm so sorry to hear t his and I feel your pain..what I identify w you is similar...its been almost 3 yrs since my H got caught. .its been tough road but we are better than ever...however there has been sex but sometimes different...noticeably, I finally brought it up and he admitted fantasizing about her...he said he thought he loved her than but not now he in love w me..really??? Thats hard to believe! !! He immediately we nt to therapy. .I'm going this week bc his therapist asked as he..I'm heart broken he dudnt s address this 3 yrs ago...I feel he been cheating in hus fantasy! ! I'd press for answers...good luck. ..

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    3. I wonder why he didn't just lie to save you from further hurt. Maybe the therapist can uncover why he isn't protecting your feelings even now.

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    4. I'm glad he didn't, I lived a lie for the past 3 yrs...bc of the differences in sex I would have thought he was having an affair anywa y...and I guess he was, he used me...I'm devastated. ...

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  7. Yes infidelity is something you get through and not over.

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  8. Hi ladies, I'm 6 weeks post d day and I'm as well as can be given the circumstances. However last night I was right back to the day of discovery, the reason why because I found an old photo of the ow in her underwear, a photo he had forgotten to delete of his mobile. The wound was open once more I was angry as I felt I'd come so far in my recovery to take me right back, my h was angry because it was all brought up again and because he told me the truth he feels the photo should be of no relavence, my gosh was he so wrong. After a discussion of anger and frustration of the whole situation we managed to get back to some ' normal ground' again whatever that is simply because he reaffirmed that I was the person he loved and wanted to be with. Sadly though I couldn't get the image of the ow in her underwear out of my head, I'm angry that she sent this pic once my husband had told her it was over it was I believe a way if trying to entice him back at the time of me just giving birth to our son. She knew I would be a mess both physically and emotionally and she played it to her advantage, thankfully it didn't work, I feel so upset and angry that another women could do this. So sad and cruel

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    1. Im so sorry that we are both in this awful situation. I found out my husband has been having an affair since the month we found out we were pregnant with our son (18 months ago is when it began) (whad been trying to conceive for 6mths.) My husband disclosed the affair 5 months ago and has since gone back to her and started it back up twice... the latest dDay being 3 weeks ago. I would be extremely concerned because unless it was a very old picture hidden in the recesses of his phone... then there is no way that he "forgot" to delete it. if it was recent, he kept it for a reason. He needs to contact his service provider and have them block her phone numbers from his phone. He needs to change his phone number, he needs to get a new email account, etc. There needs to be ZERO contact. Trust your gut instinct. I learned from my counsellor today that infidelity causes symptoms similar to PTSD. Our brains log every single detail in an attempt to identify trauma coming in the future and to prevent us from being taken by surprise again. Every time I thought my husband might be cheating again, I was correct. IF you suspect he has started it up again, stick to your guns. He has not put the consistency over time into repairing the relationship. You have absolutely zero reason to trust him right now, but you have every reason to trust yourself. He has NO right to get angry or be mad at your bringing up the affair. HE cheated, HE has to make amends. It is completely normal for you to want to talk about the affair and in fact that is one thing that will help you to recover is to talk about it and sort it out. please, look up affairrecovery.com and look into some of the resources.

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  9. Any feedback on the above would be greatly appreciated, thank you in advance ladies x x x

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  10. Hi Sam A,
    Sorry you're here…but glad you found us.
    Six weeks is still so incredibly raw. It probably seems like forever…but your body and mind are just absorbing this new reality.
    The photo she sent was a desperate bid to pull him back in. Imagine how desperate you would have to be to send a near-naked photo of yourself to someone who's broken it off with you. Pitiful.
    And yes, it's sad that people do this to each other. But as the saying goes, "hurt people hurt people."
    Hang in there. Do your best to focus on your son and be present to him, which might help you also keep those awful thoughts at bay. He's what matters, not some pathetic woman in her underwear who wants what you have.

    Elle

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  11. Thanks Elle such reassuring words, your right my son brings me so much joy, he makes me smile even when I don't feel like smiling. My self esteem has definetly taken a battering following the discovery of the A, however I am working on both my mind and body with a personal trainer and counsellor :) had my first session of counselling today and was telling her about this site and how it has been my saviour, thank you so much x x

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    1. Atta girl! Take charge of your mind and body. And I'm so glad you're able to feel joy in your son. Too many women have to deal with betrayal around pregnancy/birth and it's such a shame that they can't see past their pain. Your body nurtured and produced a perfect little being. That's better than tight abs!!

      Elle

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  12. Elle (and any other informed person out there), can you share some insight on how to choose a couples therapist? My husband and I have been seeing someone for almost 3 years. She was an intern when we started (I thought we just needed communication help back then....). Now I am not sure that she can address the needs we have after the cheating. She claims that infidelity is her specialty but I feel uneasy not having someone with decades under their belt. However, she does know us both very well. Do you have recommendations? What worked and didn't for you?

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    1. I'm not sure experience matters as much as someone who just "gets it." We went to two couples counsellors, one who's an expert in sex addiction. And it just wasn't a great fit. The woman we have now is wonderful. Each of us is convinced that she's kinda on our side…which means that she's doing a wonderful job of allowing each of us to feel heard. As a result, we're better able to really hear each other. What's your gut feeling? Can you give it a month or so and see if you think you're getting somewhere?

      Elle

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  13. Hi mbs

    We have a male counsellor and he is fab, doesn't hold back tells us exactly how it is. Was apprehensive about a male counsellor initially as I was worried he may be bias but quite the opposite. If you leave a session feeling fulfilled and looking forward to the next one id say you have a good counsellor.

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  14. January 31, 2013, I stumbled upon the profane emails between he and one of his nurse/co-workers. It began when I was away for the 1st time in our then-13-year marriage, while I celebrated my mother's 75th birthday out-of-state.
    Unbeknownst to me, It began as an emotional affair in August, 2012 and upon my arrival home after my 10 days away in October, 2012, he manifested his exit out the door.
    While he separated from me & the children those 6, anguishing weeks, he claimed he was "too angry to come home" & "he couldn't come home until he got in with his assigned counselor"- it all seemed logical then, since it was November, 2012, holidays and all.....
    I begged him to go on a cruise with me on December 14, 2012 - our 1st time EVER without the children - it was, in my eyes, a Miraculous reunification.
    He returned home to me on December 18th, 2012.
    I found the emails on January 31, 2013 and he categorically denied EVERYTHING. After nearly an hour, he admitted to having sex with her ONE time. He swore on our 5 children, his mother, my life - ONE time.
    Time stopped for me and the me I once was became possessed by an unrecognizeable entity. Fast forward to June 20, 2013 - 3am, the day after our 14th anniversary. Since "D-Day", 1/31/13, I had accepted I'd gone mad, for those 5 months, I was certain there was more. He maintained his story and continued to allow me to live in torment. At 3am on 6/20/13, I sprang from our bed to study the nude photos she had sent (during their affair) for the umpteenth time - hiding in plain sight, was the JPEG date on the last photo - December 18th, 2012 1:30am - the day after we returned from the cruise and the same day he returned home. He had returned to the house he had stayed at while were separated because "all of his work gear was there and he wanted to spend some "guy-time" with his coworker/friend who had taken him in." He texted her within a couple of hours that night and she came running.....for what he now admitted was their FOURTH time - aside from 2 "favors" she performed in a parked car. 6 times in my mind.
    It is now December 27th, 2013 - but to me, Every Day is D-Day - the one in June or January, take your pick.....
    Counseling, medication, nothing seems to help me....I've lost over 50 pounds though I was proportianate to begin with - I cannot eat, I cannot sleep, I cannot escape my own mind.
    Sll the while, he continues his own long-overdue therapy and tells how "sorry" he is.
    Meanwhile, I just want to die, for I cannot overcome this unfathomable, endless nightmare.

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    1. pamperedjane,
      I'm so sorry for what you're going through. It sounds like a year of hell. And the trickle truth you've experienced certainly doesn't help.
      You can't turn back the clock. This has happened. No amount of wishing can make it un-happen. So what are you going to do about it? What is your counsellor saying? Did your husband's betrayal trigger some deeper pain from long ago? Have you considered that you're post-trauma and might need a different type of therapy to get past this?
      Betrayal is excruciating. As any woman on this site will attest, it's a pain unlike anything we've experienced. But at a certain point, we accept that this is our new reality. We can spend the rest of our lives lamenting our lost fairy tale, or we can figure out how we're going to push through this and create something worth having. You need to stop thinking of yourself as a victim and begin thinking of yourself as a warrior. You will triumph over this. But it starts with figuring out what's holding you back. Do you believe your husband is being honest now? Do you want a marriage with him? Does he truly recognize just how damaging his actions were?
      In the meantime, perhaps your counsellor isn't working for you. Consider finding someone else. Read the posts on this site to get a sense for what areas trigger you (those posts will be the hardest to read or will make you cry) and start excavating your pain.

      Elle

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  15. I feel exactly he same my husband had an affair with a colleague whilst i was caring for my dieing father. Trickle truth is an over generous description of his ability to be honest i have done all the work to try to come to term with this hideous experience.They bith still work in the same place and i begged hin to change jobs. He is a passive aggressive bully and two and a hslf years on ive lost 5 stone and look great which he hates.He is suspicious of me and isnt often very nice to me ?

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    1. Can I gently ask why you're still with him? It sounds like the cheating was simply part of a larger package of abuse. He doesn't treat you with respect or kindness. But why aren't you treating yourself with respect and kindness? You deserve it. You are worthy and deserving of love.

      Elle

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    2. The truth is I dont know why. We have been together for 20 years and its nver been really right. He has no insight into the man/woman power dynamic inherent in domestic abuse and has assaulted me by hitting me on two occassions and during the time shortly after i fiund out when i was distraught and 'going on'as he terms it when i tried to cuddle him to make up he bit me.The grief in relation to dad is all mixed up and i cant bear that the OW knows the most intimate details of his dreadful death and funeral. Ellie i am bereft I have a close female friend who is almost like my carer and my husband hates her and thinks she influences me to be negative towards him .I spend a lot of time with her and hes becoming increasingly suspicous thinking seeibg someone else.When im with her i feel comforted and safe as when im with my children when im with him i dont but cant seem to find the strength to make him go .He did leave on two occassions but i asked him to come back -i dont know whats wrong with me?Thankyou for yaking the time to listen and reply.

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    3. Anon,
      Nobody has the right to hurt you. Not physically and not emotionally. You don't need him to understand that…YOU just need to understand that. He'll never give you permission to leave. But you need to give yourself permission to leave. Or to insist that he leave. You do have the strength. You just need to tap into it.
      I'm sure you're exhausted from everything you've been dealing with. Perhaps you could start by seeking counselling. What does your friend suggest? What would you say to one of your children if they were in your situation? I'm guessing you wouldn't tell them to wait it out. You would insist that they get themselves into a situation that is safe, both emotionally and physically. You owe it to yourself and to your children. One hit is one too many.
      So many women have been in your situation. Please just ask for help. You don't have to do anything more than simply get clear on your options. Start by contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or calling 1-800-799-7233.
      You say you don't know why you haven't left (or told him to leave and stay out) but my guess is that, on some level, you don't believe you deserve better. I don't know what he's told you over the years or what you heard as a kid…but I'm telling you that are worthy of love and respect. We all are. You're clearly a smart, compassionate woman capable of great love. Please know that.

      Elle

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  16. Only 2 years into our marriage, I am just 3 weeks of finding out. He had a full blown relationship with a married women at work who might I add told my H her marriage was an "open relationship", But her husband doesn't know about the affair. My H
    took a week off of work because he needed to find himself again. He said Who he was at work wasn't him. Everyone knew about the affair, co workers and boss. He would brag and they would support him with high fives. His boss even told him " I've cheated on my wife 3 times but we have 3 kids so..." He is doing everything he can to show how sorry he is and tell me it will never happen again. But he is going back to work and she will be there. Any advise so I don't go crazy thinking about him working with her everyday. My love for him is strong but right now my pain is stronger. Not sure how I can function At my own job while he is at his job with her. He broke it off but she continues to say hello everyday. So everyday he is reminded of what they had. My in laws are in town and know about what happened. My mother in law told me " I don't know how you guys will ever work now that he's done this" ... Wow thanks for the support.

    Feeling scared hurt angry and betrayed

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    1. I think it's time for your husband to find another job. Seriously. He works in a toxic environment. I'm not surprised he doesn't recognize who he was…we can be impacted by those around us and take on their value system unless we're highly vigilant and really clear on our own moral code.
      Does your husband recognize this? Can he see how he was affected? Of course he needs to take personal responsibility for his choice -- it was, after all, him who ultimately decided to have the affair.
      And yes, it's very hard for you to feel "safe" when day after day he's in contact with her.
      Can you and your husband come up with a strategy to help you cope? It's important, in the wake of an affair, for you two to rebuild your marriage as a team -- to create an environment where it's the two of you working together to get past this. Anything he can do to make it clear that he's on YOUR side and will do whatever it takes to help you heal can go a long toward re-establishing safety within your marriage.
      I'm sorry for what you're going through. We live in a crazy world where that sort of deceptive and hurtful behaviour is worthy of "high fives".

      Elle

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  17. I have been feeling better, not great but better since he has been home. He recognizes my pain and constantly apologizes. Any thing I ask he does, walk the dog and help around the house. But I keep asking myself how long will this last? I think I'm feeling better because he is at home. But what about when he starts work again. We are very young. We married at 19 and 20. Now 22 and 23 with no kids. I knew the odds were against us from the beginning as everyone I knew constantly reminded me that getting married at a young age is stupid. But I don't feel that way. I feel like I married the man I love the man I want to raise my children one day the man i want to grow with, my soul mate. But it's hard to escape from my head and the play back of everything he told me about the affair. We recently moved to a new state, new jobs and new home. He is looking for a new job but has had some difficulties. Im afraid I can't ask him to leave his toxic work place without something else lined up which means I have to deal with this pain everyday of his going there.

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    1. One of the hardest parts of this is not letting your brain go into overdrive. After feeling so out of control, we want to feel hyper control. The thing is, you don't know what's next. Some feelings that you think will last forever, simply won't (ie. I'll never be happy again or I'll never get over this). Others will last longer than you think. The best (and hardest) thing you can do is to try and take this a day at a time. Just focus on the moment, breathing through the pain, relishing any moments of joy.
      As for the job, I understand that it's not always easy (or possible) to simply walk away. In that case, you both need to determine what can be done to make the situation as easy for you as possible.

      Elle

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  18. Any advice ?? ^^

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  19. My husband and I have been married many years and have 4 teenagers. Five years ago I found out he was having an affair with a coworker. It had been going on 4 years. We agreed to keep going and, although I was devastated, it seemed to be working. A year ago I found out he was still seeing her. This has been a long year and about 5 months ago we started sleeping together and were slowly moving on.

    About 6 weeks ago I was sorting clothes for the dry cleaners and found a memory stick. It contained videos of them having sex, edited "porn" really, complete with cheesy music. It has taken me back to square one. I don't feel I'll ever get over it now.
    We are in counseling and he tells me he's a different pers

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  20. Sorry got cut off. He says he's changed, he loves me and the family etc etc.. Reading your post made me feel I'm not alone.

    I feel weak for staying, not even sure why I have, other than my kids and we do get on.
    I haven't told anyone - shame - and every time I look at him, I see him and her in their movies. I have no money of my own and I stay home. I even beat myself up for that now. It makes me hate myself and my life. Five years I've been living this and please let it get better...

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    1. What you've experienced is such a shock. And our body responds accordingly -- we feel threatened, our safety is compromised. It takes time to absorb the information and gain back our sense of agency. Sometimes a lot of time, especially when the affair went on quite a while and there's already been false reconciliation. Makes it that much more difficult to trust again.
      We often feel weak for staying because our culture is so unforgiving of women who stay. But it's important to figure out whether you feel weak for staying because you really don't want to stay and are aware that you're not respecting your own deepest desires. Or whether you feel weak because we're "supposed" to kick men out when they cheat. I think that's something to talk about in therapy -- and I would urge you to get a personal therapist to help you through this.
      Finally, what's up the memory stick? Why does he still have this? Why didn't you know about it? In order for any marriage to survive this, all secrets have to be out in the open. Each time we discover yet another piece that we didn't know about, it sets us right back. He needs to tell you EVERYTHING -- though you get to determine when it's too much or not enough. Something like a sex tape should have been out in the open.
      I'm really sorry you're going through this. But I think step one is to determine what YOU want to do from here. You can change what's happened (which is what most of us want) but you can certainly determine what your future holds. If you've been home with the kids, you're entitled to support. Perhaps, also, it's time to create a life that fulfills you -- whether that's paid work or volunteer, or whatever. Time to treat yourself with kindness and respect...and curiosity.

      Elle

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    2. Hi, i too discovered a zip drive with naked pictures of the whore. This was a year and a half after the affair ended. Why do they keep pics,porn...momentos? I honestly believe they still want to hang on to all the good fantasy feelings that the other person gave them. Is it wrong? Heck yeah! It makes me wonder if the other woman woman were to step back in the picture would my husband reengage in the affair. Part of me thinks yes! Thats a hell of a way to live wondering when or if my husband is going to cheat again. Additionally, my husband has never given me the whole truth either. Sorry for your pain. Seeing those pics makes you feel soo sad..i know!

      Delete
    3. Anon,
      These affair mementos are a huge red flag. Whether or not they would lead him to cheat again, they nonetheless hold a certain power over him. Part of moving past an affair is recasting it as what it was -- a deceptive act that hurt people he loved.
      Not knowing the whole truth of what happened is also concerning. I think it's very hard for you to heal, and for a marriage to be rebuilt, without total honesty.

      Elle

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  21. My husbands affair ended 22 months ago. I discovered it 9 months ago by accident. He gave me access to his email, facebook. These were both means by which he communicated with the other woman. Ever since then i have been looking at these and i also installed a mobile spy software. What i learned is that i dont think he still has communication with her. He still checks his email often and fb. I think he is worried she will send a message to him i might see it before him. I want to confront him about this but honesty hasnt been his best policy so i dont want to let him know about my methods of collecting information. HONESTLY and i have told him this I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Im expecting that he will cheat again. He asked me what he needs to do to bridge the trust. I want to say close your email and facebook dont delete your browsing history. He always claims that he barely looks at these. I can see otherwise. However, I know that if i give up my cards(my spy software) and confront then i better be ready to act because thats the only way i have control of what's real vs. what he says. I'm a stay at home mom who wants things to work out. Just wondering any thoughts?

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    1. Anonymous,
      If you want things to work out, then I think you need to do more than simply hold your breath. And you need to expect more from him than that he simply not have contact with her.
      The thing with affairs is that they're fantasy (assuming he has no intention of making it reality by leaving you). They're an escape from our daily lives and all that entails -- the boredom, the loneliness, our fears of aging, our insecurities and routine disappointment. Affairs suddenly make our lives exciting. They make us feel sexy and alive. So without really understanding why your husband was tempted to cheat, and why he engaged in something with this woman knowing he didn't want to lose his marriage, then it's hard for you to trust that it won't happen again.
      He needs to come clean -- full honesty -- about everything that happened, how it happened, and how he plans to ensure it doesn't happen again. He needs to understand why he allowed it to happen. Why was he willing to risk his family? What stories was he telling himself to make it okay to step out of his marriage?
      And you need to do more than simply spy. I don't blame you for not wanting to disclose your methods -- and in the short term, I think you need to keep tabs. But you don't want to spend your life doing surveillance. You want to create a marriage in which you rebuild trust. Right now, you don't trust him, and he doesn't seem to trust you.
      I would urge you both to get into marriage counselling where you can unpack this affair, and figure out how you're going to create a marriage that feels solid and is built on honesty and trust. Until then, you're stuck holding your breath.

      Elle

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  22. ive been with my husband for almost 6 years all together dating and married, hes always had problems with porn and he liked to call people he dated just to see what they would say, hes also always been a liar. well its been 6 months since d day and i cant get past it. somedays im "happy" somedays i cant see him without getting mad or cry. its been really hard. when i found out, he wasnt seeing the ow anymore for more than over year but he was still watching porn and calling prostitute and he particulary talked to his last ex girlfriend, he asked her to give him bjs and she always rejected him. he's really insecure and always blamed everyone for his mistakes and expected other people to fix his mistakes or he though they will magically dissapear withouth him trying to fix them. He says he changed because he realized how much he hurted me and how much he broke our marriage, he told me everything about the affair and everything he ever did. hes been trying to fix our marriage, he promised hes not seeing speaking or watching anything hes not supposed to. he tells me he wants to fix my heart and our relationship and that he knows he will never do it again because that would mean he will lose me this time. i dont know how to get over it because i feel i have lived a lie with him because since the beginning we had problems with porn and exs and i feel like he never loved me even though he says he has never loved someone like me , he says im the love of his life and that he couldnt live without me. but how can i believe that when he had me and he decided to be with someone else, he didnt care for my feelings until i found out. how do i know our marriage would work

    thank you

    d.

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    1. d,
      I'm sorry for how much pain you're in. You've had to deal with so much.
      You're wise to not trust his promises. He's lied to you before. What you need is some sort of indication of how he plans to keep these promises. You also need access to his phone/computer/etc. to confirm any suspicions you have.
      There is no way to know if your marriage will work. And frankly, you've got a tough battle ahead, given his previous deceptions. He has been enormously disrespectful to you and your marriage. He has a lot of amends to make.
      If he's serious about making them, however, you can rebuild your marriage to be stronger.

      Elle

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    2. Its weird because ive always have had access to his phone computer and everything except his work email but since that d day he gave me the password too and ive looked and loiked and havent found enything anymore, we had a figth yesterday and i almost walked away but i didnt and he was crying hysterically and he did what you says about the promises and plans on his own, he said that to me before but this time i was able to really see it in his eyes. I know hes not a bad man he just had a horrible addiction (porn) and that clouded his mind, everyone in my family loves him and sees that he is a good person to the point that no one would ever imaginr what im going throu and i dont want to break that bubble for everyone else either because i believe we can work things out, i know he changed, i spy on him all the time and for 6 months i havent found enything anymore and believe me ive looked, i have my ways and nothing has come out, so im glad, but at the same time i am still looking cause i dont want to believe so much that he would hurt me again, which he says he preffers to die than to hurt me again.

      d.

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  23. I found out five weeks ago that my wife/partner of 15 years cheated on me 8 years ago. I swear, I knew it at the time but she denied it all these years.
    My mood swings are getting better but they are still there. I know she wants me to move on and get over it. That sounds awful but I know she wants me to get over it for my own sanity. She sees the pain I'm in. I told her that she's had 8 years to process what she did. I've only had a month. I cry so much. Some days are better than others. It's worse when I don't eat. I get to the point where I can't eat because I feel sick but I feel sick because I haven't eaten.
    When we talked about it yesterday, she wants me to ask my therapist how long this is going to take. I told her that she will say, it's different for everybody. I feel like I'm in mourning and I know that the grieving process varies for each person.
    I don't think about leaving. I decided early on that I wouldn't. This is my home.
    I would never do it but I think about suicide just to get the awful thoughts out of my head. I get stuck on one terrible thought, like she can't play her infidelity off on spontaneity, it just happened. She was the one who bought the condoms. This was her plan.
    I hate spying on her. I feel terrible after I do it because I find nothing. She keeps telling me there's nothing there and I want to believe it but it's so hard. I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. What will I find out next?

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    1. The pain you're in is, sadly, pretty common around here. Your wife, frankly, doesn't sound too compassionate. This might be old news to her, but it's brand-freaking-new to you. It's a shock. It leaves you pouring over every moment of the last eight years wondering what was fact and what was fiction.
      Her desire for you to "get over it" is also pretty common among offenders. But it's unfair. It's their way of saying that "your pain is making me uncomfortable -- guilty, shameful, disappointed in myself -- so please get over it so I don't have to feel all those yucky feelings.' Understandable that they would want this but completely unfair to you. And completely lacking in any true understanding of just how devastating betrayal -- a violation of trust -- is to the betrayed partner.
      Try and eat -- smoothies were my go-to because I could ingest calories without food getting stuck in that lump in my throat. Soup is also good.
      It also might be worth talking with your therapist about the notion of PTSD. A lot of betrayed partners experience post-trauma symptoms -- a heightened sense of vigilance, that anxiety about what signs you might be missing, the "shoe drop" feeling. It's surprisingly common and worth exploring with her.
      As for how long it takes to get over this? It certainly helps speed things up with a spouse that is patient and compassionate and completely transparent (and understands our need to check things -- that's how trust is rebuilt. By checking and finding, repeatedly, that our fears are unfounded). But it nonetheless takes a long time. Our trust has been betrayed. And it takes years -- most infidelity experts say 2 - 5 years -- to move past that.

      Elle

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    2. "guilty, shameful, disappointed in myself" That's exactly what I sense in her.
      She has her wonderful moments of compassion and sensitivity. Really. There are times when she can see I'm about to meltdown, have a flashback, and she's there for comfort.
      I betrayed her two years prior to this incident so she knows how it feels. But she knew right away. She suspected it and I confessed immediately because I knew I couldn't hide it.
      Our marriage will work out. I'm sure of it. The roller coaster ups and downs are not as dramatic as they were in the first few days/week. We've committed to each other. We have to keep reminding one another that good days and bad days are all part of the process.
      We're both in therapy. My therapist has been great. In our first session she explained to me that analytical people, like I've realized I am, take problem solving, A, B, C, D. Step by step. Creative people, like my wife, just want to get to D.
      Thank you for this blog. It's been very helpful.

      Delete
  24. I am only 3 months out from discovering that my husband had been cheating me on me for at least a year with a work colleague. I suspected something was up for a long time, but he always spun the situation to make me sound like I was just being jealous, crazy and insecure. And I started to believe it..I wanted to believe more than anything that I was wrong in my suspicions. My world shattered the day I overheard a conversation between my husband and his mistress that left no doubts about the extent of the affair.....and still my first reaction was to try and save the marriage..I tried to see things from his perspective and try to understand what I had done wrong to lead to that situation. We both moved into seperate houses but didn't actually break up, and since then I have been in this torturous limbo where we see each other a few tmes a week...he wants to act like nothing has happened, and gets mad when I am upset or so much as allude to why we are in this situation...
    I am at breaking point. I am too ashamed/scared to tell anyone other than my immediate family what has happened (I guess also wishfully thinking this will pass and we'll go back to normal), so I go around at work/with friends holding it all in and pretending like nothing is wrong, dropping my husband into stories so it seems like he is still in my life...when I am literally broken inside and I get home and cry till my eyes are red and puffy. For months now I have had so many points where I have literally wanted to end my life, and have even thought about how I could do it. I must hasten to say that when I think about what that would do to my family, I realise I wouldn't go through with it...but I also realise that in those moments I am not thinking straight. Since the affair came out, my husband has been SAYING he loves me and wants to work things out, but I found out he was at least still talking to his coworker, and was on an online dating app. Stupidly, I can still only try to take his word as to his explanations for these things....and while I realise that if I was giving advice to a friend it would be so different...at the moment I know I cannot kick him to the curb and have to endure this hell where we are "together" but "not together"...because saying goodbye would honestly kill me right now. I am doing what I can to survive.
    I just needed to tell someone, to be able to talk about what is happening and hopefully get a reply from someone who understands what this living hell is like. Any advice would be so greatly appreciated.

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    1. I completely understand that feeling of not being able to leave. And I'm not going to suggest it. What I am going to suggest is that you create clear, strong boundaries around what you will and will not accept from him. Right now, he's got two women (possible more) on the line. This is feeding his ego to the point where it's doing all the thinking for him. It might seem as if you're "keeping" him, at least partially, but in fact, you're giving him the time and space to carry on with other women. NOT okay if he's remotely interested in saving his marriage. And NOT okay if YOU are remotely interested in saving his marriage.
      Take this time of living separately to get yourself some counselling. Get clear on why you fear abandonment so much that you're willing to accept his half-commitment. It will take some time...but with a good counsellor, you'll come to understand yourself better and him. You'll come to set clear boundaries grounded in self-respect. You'll come to insist that he (and others) treat you with respect because you'll know that you're worthy of it.
      Trust that you will survive this. We all have. It's excruciating, I know. It's the worst sort of hell, I know. And I couldn't imagine surviving it. But here I am. Here we all are. Having fought back the temptation to die.
      You will get through this. But you need to fight for yourself first. Treat yourself as kindly as possible. You don't need to pretend to anyone what's going on. You get to decide whether you tell them or not. But this is NOT your shame. This is NOT on you. He made a choice that makes it clear that his moral code is compromised. You have nothing to be embarrassed about. What's more, there are, literally, millions of women going through exactly what you are. Whether or not they admit it, women in your office have gone through this, or will go through this. No matter. This is your road to walk, however you choose to go.

      Delete
  25. Elle, thank you so much for your reply, you have no idea how much it means to be able to share what I'm going through and to get feedback from someone who knows what it's like. You really are doing a wonderful thing here with this community.

    You are absolutely right, I need to set clear boundaries about what I will and won't accept. Thing is, he's already violating those boundaries - honesty and sincerity are so important to me and I'm fooling myself if I think he can ever give me that...he has so many wonderful qualities that I love him for, but they are not among them.

    It stings to realise that I am selling myself short, under the guise of love - what I thought was the love of my life - but it's true.

    Thank you again for your words, you have helped more than you realise xx


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    1. I think he's violating those boundaries, at least in part, because they're so fuzzy. You've been allowing it.
      I know it's hard. There's something called, in the infidelity world, the 180. It's basically a set of guidelines to keep you sane and clear-headed while making it clear to your spouse that his fence-sitting just isn't going to cut it anymore. You can read about it here: http://beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com/the-180/
      There are some parts I don't completely agree with. I'm not big on game-playing. However, I do think it's important to make it clear that you won't tolerate his cake-eating (ie. having a cake and eating too). You're either the prize he's willing to fight like hell for, or you're out the door.
      It'll seem terrifying at first. Do it anyway. It'll seem like you're giving up. You're not. You're actually taking firm steps toward a better life, with or without him.
      You'll get through this. I promise.

      Delete
  26. As I read the date you posted this it seemed so ironic! my H ended his A in October 2013. I did not find out for certain until this June.

    So yes, I'm still hurting, it was more emotional than it was physical. They worked together and fortunately, he is no longer there. I have told him I'm not sure I could have stayed with him if he was because as much as I'm having issues with trust now...if they were still working together, not a chance! Although, she had told her H who worked with them and they had been working on things since January.

    I wish this hurt, disappointment, anger, frustration would just disappear, but I also know that is completely unrealistic.

    I'm just taking it one day at a time and so is he, we'll be ok, but it will take time...its a marathon, not a sprint!

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    1. Anon,
      Yes, it is a marathon. Stick with your plan to take it a day (a minute, or an hour) at a time.

      Elle

      Delete
  27. I too am healing like all of you. I have been married for 19 years. Married very young in our teens. We had only been with each other intimately. He changed that and tore my world apart. I'm in my mid 30's and have struggled for a year and six months now since I found out. I lost a ton of weight because I was so sick and couldn't eat it sleep. I fell apart and my job for a decade came to an end. I moved to another state to try to learn to sleep, eat, breathe and live because I knew I wouldn't last where I was. My heart was so broken. I was also dealt the trickle truth but it came from the other person. In a way it's helped me a ton because some truth is way better than living a complete lie. My family is now all together in our new place, but I still have bad dreams of the old. I too suffer from when is the ball going to drop syndrome, but I am finally realizing it's just me and feelings not reality at all. I know that there is a God in Heaven that loves me and he isn't coming off that throne and it gives me some peace. I know that I have strength and that it came through all the pain. I almost gave in

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    1. I'm glad you didn't give in. You are showing, every single day, that you can move through this. Is your husband supportive? Are you able to let him help you when you're having flashbacks? That goes such a long way toward rebuilding a marriage.
      You're right that it's often those thoughts in our heads -- not present reality -- that trip us up.

      Delete
  28. I am not married but I have been betrayed by someone who I thought I would marry. We work literally 5 feet away from each other. We dated for 3 1/2 years and last year he struck up a "friendship" with a nurse who no longer works with us. I questioned him about this woman and he also told me I was being jealous, and insecure. This past May I found another text. He refused to answer questions and shut down. He moved out as well. He at first said he wanted to give our relationship a break. But came back and said it wouldn't work because of all the things that have happened. I was working through this as best I could. But yesterday I found out on Facebook that they are getting married. I am shocked, hurt, disappointed and embarrassed. I have to go to work in an hour and I know that people are talking behind my back. I know I did nothing wrong but love a snake so why am I feeling ashamed and embarrassed?

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    1. Don't be ashamed it's ok. Talk is talk and nobody knows everything but the two of you. Not even the new person. You are blessed that you got let out of his lies before it was too late and you had a full family he would hurt. Know that you are a wonderful person capable of real love unlike what he has shown is his kind of love. It hurts a ton I know I'm the one that posted above you. You are someone worth more than you can imagine. Now you can learn to live again in truth and start a real life not a fake show. Be strong and know

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    2. His cheating is a reflection of his poor character and lack of moral compass. It doesn't reflect badly on you except in that you were hurt by his deception. I suspect many of those who you fear are judging you have been in your shoes. Few of us escape being betrayed at some point in our lives.
      Hold your head high, knowing that you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. If people are talking behind your back, they're either a) heartless and therefore unworthy of your concern or b) talking about you in compassionate terms and therefore could become friends.
      Whichever it is, practice rising above it all. I guarantee that the day will come when this is a bad memory that is far behind you.

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