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.


38 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!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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

      Delete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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

      Delete
    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.

      Delete
    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

      Delete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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

      Delete
    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!!!

      Delete
  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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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

      Delete
  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?

    ReplyDelete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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

      Delete
    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. ..

      Delete
    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.

      Delete
    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. ...

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

    ReplyDelete
  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

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

    ReplyDelete
  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

    ReplyDelete
  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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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

      Delete
  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?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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

      Delete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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

      Delete
  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 ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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

      Delete
    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.

      Delete
    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

      Delete
  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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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

      Delete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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

      Delete
  18. Any advice ?? ^^

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails