Thursday, November 7, 2013

Marital Magic Bullet?: Experts Propose That Cheating Can "Save" a Marriage

I stop short of saying that my husband's affair(s) helped our marriage, though there is at least one woman who hails it as "the best thing that ever happened to me". I think the emotional (and physical) wreckage from infidelity is simply too devastating for me to ever consider it a good thing. I can, however, recognize that all that agony also brought with it some gifts. Wisdom, for lack of a better word, that I might not otherwise have…and that has contributed to greater joy in my life.
But I worry, when experts are hailing cheating as something that can "save" a marriage, it's giving implicit permission to those considering an affair to forge ahead. After all, it might even be good for their marriage. Who wouldn't want the opportunity to screw with impunity, all in the name of self-improvement?
I understand the point these experts are making. I'm living their point. And I sing their same song post after post on this site: An affair does not have to sound the death knell for a marriage. It's a position contrary to…ahem…some others on the Web, with whom I've had my difference of opinion (and to whom I won't link because she tends to trigger those of us early on the path of healing).
I think it's important to offer up a different message to women facing their husband's cheating because, for far too long, we've been shown two options: Throw the bum out or sweep the affair under the rug for the sake of our marriage.
There is, of course, another way. To use the affair as an opportunity to deconstruct a marriage is crisis and then rebuild. But we can't gloss over just how brutalizing an affair is to the betrayed partner. We can't subscribe exclusively to an "he-had-an-affair-but-look-on-the-bright-side" way of thinking that does little for the betrayed or the betrayer. I remain convinced (though I am an incurable optimist) that if more people saw the effects of infidelity up close, they'd keep their pants on and their legs closed to all but their spouse. They'd think twice before they sent flirtatious texts to a co-worker. They'd walk away when opportunity arose, knowing that the brief pleasure simply wasn't worth the sacrifice of their partner's sense of safety in the world.
Unfortunately, given our cultural conviction that any woman who stays is a doormat and any woman who kicks him out is a warrior, we don't have much evidence of how betrayal impacts those of us who chose option 3 – to rebuild our marriage with the person who broke our hearts. We need to have that conversation too, along with the proposal that it's possible to learn lessons (incredibly painful lessons) from a spouse's affair.


51 comments:

  1. Lessons are def learnt from an affair, although like you said it does by no means mend a marriage quite the opposite in my case it broke us down to the very core and We/ I am trying to rebuild myself and my marriage everyday. I am 4 weeks post d/day and the previous 2 weeks I felt as if I was on done kind of even keel I felt in control of my emotions and feelins Lessons are def learnt from an affair, although like you said it does by no means mend a marriage quite the opposite in my case it broke us down to the very core and We/ I am trying to rebuild myself and my marriage everyday. I am 4 weeks post d/day and the previous 2 weeks I felt as if I was on done kind of even keel I felt in control of my emotions and feelins however the last 2 days have been horrendous I've been angry, upset shattered broken and all the other emotions I went through went I initially found out. I took the upset and anger out on my husband well he is the one that caused it so why shouldn't i, I told him to leave me and go to her just because I feel worthless and useless because if the betrayal. My husband tries really hard to listen and understand and had brought my healing on leaps and bounds but how can he understand he hasn't been in my shoes to fully appreciate the pain and total despair I find myself in. I know time is a great healer and listening to do many stories here I know I will get to some kind of normality because that's where I want to be with my husband. If I could turn back the clocks I would avoid this pain trauma like the plague however the positives that have come out of this affair are many the first one being that the respect we have now is better than ever before, we look out for one another now something we overlooked pre affair. So the long and short of it is are that affairs bring many things to the table and you take from it what you will. Hope that makes sense.

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    1. Yep. Makes total sense. I'm glad your marriage is more respectful. Sounds as if you survived a whole lot of pain…but that you've created something worth keeping.

      Elle

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    2. Sam, I am just 11 weeks post so I can totally relate to what you are saying. But I am definitely in a different/better place than I was 7 weeks ago, heck even a week ago. Things shift, though sometimes you slide back. Just remember to go slow. Don't let it crush you because there is long road. I am just getting on that road.
      This blog has been amazing. It is an excellent instruction manual for me. It definitely consider it as useful as the 3 hours of therapy I have each week.
      I do see how we have both learned things we might not have learned otherwise.* But I don't think it was the "best thing that could have happened to me." Trauma is trauma. The survivors are the ones who learn to cope and change.

      *caveat: I think I could have learned these lessons if I had read the books I am reading now. "Intimacy After Infidelity"; "Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love"; "Undefended Love"

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  2. I agree with you 100%. The affair was NOT a good thing. It was not okay. Affairs are to be avoided. My husband's affair nearly crushed my soul.

    Good things came from the work we did afterwards. We talked about how rebuilding our marriage would make it much better than it was before the affair. And it has, and it is. But in the meantime I've had to overcome hurt that I shouldn't have had to go through.

    It's about dealing with a bad situation and doing something constructive to fix the problems that caused it and the problems it caused.

    It's like when a house burns down. You might rebuild and do things better, make a better house. But that doesn't mean you're happy the house burned, causing you distress, displacing you, and destroying your cherished belongings. It just means that you CAN get through it, and you can even create a better life afterwards. You wouldn't recommend to your friends, though, that they burn their houses down.

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  3. I have more good days than bad now my h has learnt that when I do have the bad days we have to deal with them head on, i feel like this site has been my saviour, it has given me the comfort and support I much needed and will continue to need in the coming months and years. Thank you so much Elle for such a wonderful resource ��

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  4. I was once told by a very wise old gentleman, that even the worst situations can become an opportunity. If he had told me that 1-2 weeks after finding out about my husbands betrayal I would have laughed and then bashed him over the head with his walking stick( wouldn't have done really)

    Okay, so what opportunities have I gained from this God awful awful mess. My husband has seen how low an individual can go and is amazed by the strength and determination and kindness that I have shown him. I am amazed he never knew I was that person. Yes, I'm strong and business minded and perhaps can seem too much in control, so there is a glint in his eye which looks at me with a different kind of respect and love now.

    My husband has had the opportunity to put many demons to rest and finally confront things which have stalled his emotional well being since childhood, this would never have happened unless I found out about the affair. I now have a more interesting and interested husband.

    After he was " hung out to dry" emotionally, there now seems no barriers to what we can and do talk about. He was stripped bare and so was I. Almost like a re-boot on a virus ridden laptop.

    His mother, who quite frankly really didn't give me the time of day, now feels terrible how obstructive she has been in the past and admires and thanks me for having the courage to stay. She has also learned that the upbringing of her son has a lot to answer for.

    Sex, well, it was difficult at first, I was still in the stage of competing or thinking about the o/w, but the honesty which prevails throughout has added a certain frisson to the mix.

    Hell, I still have horrid day, truly awful days, and I am on that crazy train for a few hours sometimes. BUT, my husband steps on that crazy train with me and holds my hand.

    I can honestly say I wish it never happened as we did have a good marriage, but I would hate to give up what we have now.

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    1. what an amazing comment. You've seen - and they've seen, how strong you are. Huge respect to you :)

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    2. Thank you for this. I love your "reboot" analogy. Too many people don't understand just how rich and healthy a marriage can be after an affair. (I would have been one of those people, frankly.)

      Elle

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  5. I like the house burning down analogy. I am so thankful to this site for the reassurance it brings that there IS option 3 and it is a viable option.

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  6. In the article on Slate that was linked to about affairs actually helping the marriage, the author (Hannah Rosin) claims the person that cheated was not at fault (in that case the female), and should not shoulder any of the blame. Instead, the author faults the male for being off at war. Rosin also says that it was important for the husband to acknowledge the cheating wife's "pain" at having hurt him. As if it was so painful to her to hurt him, when she is the one who cheated.

    Wow. It's really, really sad that our society officially and firmly holds no one accountable for their actions. It is now a steadfast and stern rule not to take responsibility for one's own actions. Anyone looked at as responsible is looked upon as old-fashioned, out of touch, angry, ignorant, and curmudgeonly.

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    1. Choosing to go outside a marriage because of problems inside a marriage is the action of an emotionally immature person. And yes, I fear that anything that proposes that cheating can be "good" for a marriage absolves those who cheat of any real responsibility. Anyone who has seen infidelity up close would have a hard time believing any "good" can come of it.

      Elle

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  7. Excruciating Pain <3
    Hi, I just do not know where to begin. When I was pregnant of my second child my husband began an affair that lasted 7 years, or until my 3rd child was born. I was so busy with all the children that I did not realize what was going on. Okay, my husband is also an abusive type of guy. Now, he told me that he has met someone. We have been unhappy together for nineteen and a half years. He complains that I don't want to have sex with him. But, I told him that it is hard for me to feel attracted to him while he is so mean to me. He does not want to change, he is an alcoholic and he also abuse illegal substances. I wanted to leave him, but now there is a no contact order against him because he was hitting me and I called the cops. My husband took the phone and said to the cops that it was nothing. The State is pressing charges against him and I have all this weird feelings that I want him back and it feels like I miss him. Please help me get through this. Thank you in advance.

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    1. EP,
      Read the letter you sent me…and then imagine what you would say to someone who sent you the same letter. I suspect you would tell her that she's far better off without an abusive husband. That it might be hard to let go -- over the years she probably became accustomed to the abuse -- but that ultimately there is a better life waiting. One in which she is treated (and treats herself!) with dignity and respect. One in which she can predict from one moment, one hour, one day to the next what will happen rather than always wondering when the next punch is coming.
      You want better for yourself or you wouldn't have called the police. You know that you deserve better than this. That your children deserve to live in a home where they are not scared, for you or for themselves. Where they seem self-respect and compassion modelled, rather than abuse and anger and blame.
      Let the state do the work for you and ensure that he never touches you again. In the meantime, trust that you will get through this to the other side, without his poison to ruin your life.
      Please keep us posted so we know how you're doing.

      Elle

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    2. EP- Don't be confused by this article. You are not in a situation where an affair is possibly "the best thing that could happen to your marraige." You are in an abusive marriage-exactly the kind that is not going to improve after an affair. Please see a domestic violence counselor. It is very common for abused women to want to be with their abuser, especially after being with him for 19 years--it is very confusing. Like Elle said, you are going to be giving your children and yourself so much more of a healthy future if you can get out of this situation. This person doesn't deserve you. You can get through this, there are people who can help you.

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  8. I think my husband and I have the potential to rebuild our marriage. It was dying during the last 5 years (we have been together for 18+). He is an immature but insightful man and I am beginning to see a way we can have a better marriage, and I think he is too. But I am wary because I still need closure and healing from the affair. Somedays I have clarity and positivity, and some days I am so crushed by grief. I know that the affair healing (his responsibility) needs to happen for our marriage rebuilding (both our responsibility) to be successful. But I have no idea what that would look like. I don't want to know more about the affair. I don't want to ask more questions about when and why. But I guess there are things that need airing out. But what? I don't know what closure would look like. I do know he needs to fully own his decisions and beg for forgiveness, not to mention more beyond that. He hasn't done the first two things yet. How will he get there? He is doing alot of his own individual therapy but not alot around the affair and how he has hurt me. He still has a hard time coming to grips with my hurt, especially when I start crying. I don't know if he knows how to approach it. He is making very tiny steps to supporting me and healing the betrayal. Is it just a matter of time? Not sure what order things need to happen. It has barely been a month since he sent the NC letter and 3 months since the last D-day. I think he is still in the fog.

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    1. MBS,
      You ask how he'll get "there" -- ie. able to take full responsibility for the pain he caused and beg your forgiveness. I don't know. "There" looks different to different people. What, exactly, do you need from him? Does he know that you need it from him? My husband once said that he would make it his goal to be the man I had always believed he was -- in other words, to always behave with integrity. That was what I needed to hear. That he recognized he hadn't been that man…and that he wanted to be that man too. It was important to me to know that he wasn't just going through the motions to get my forgiveness but that he wanted the change in himself, independent of me.
      Are you two in couples counselling? That can be a good place for you to talk about what you need from him in an atmosphere where an objective third party can ensure that he's really hearing you. Often these guys simply hear "you screwed up", "you're an idiot" when what we're saying is "you hurt me", "I'm scared you'll hurt me again".
      The fact that he has a hard time with your crying is an indication that he's having a hard time accepting what he did to you. Your tears are recriminations. You're entitled to them, absolutely. But he needs to figure out how to be with you in those moments when you need his support, without making it about him and getting defensive. To feel your pain without letting it cripple him.
      This does take a long time…longer than any of us could have imagined. You're still very raw. Tiny steps are still steps forward. Focus on what's going right and trust that, as long as you both stay on the path, you'll get there.

      Elle

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    2. What to do with all the crying? I realize it does cripple him. But so often, I want to cry. But sometimes it gets to be a full on wail, which I know is scary and makes him pull away. Do I work my hardest to hold it in. I recognize that I need to get it all out and he doesn't necessarily have to be there for all of it. But I don't know how much crying in front of him is helping.

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    3. If you need to cry, then cry. I don't think there's any benefit to suppressing it. And I think there's a lot of harm if you do. You need to feel what you're feeling. You need to get through it.

      I know it hurt my husband to see me cry. He told me so, and one time (only one) he told me he had to stop comforting me and leave the room because it was upsetting him so much. (He also said that if I needed anything, let him know.)

      I've never cried so much in my life. But I didn't try to stop it. I needed it. And I told him that I was sorry, but at the same time it was something he'd have to live with if he wanted to reconcile. And he did.

      But of course you have a point about not wanting to make him pull away. My advice is to talk to him about it, tell him that you NEED to cry but you understand it upsets him. Ask him to be patient. Tell him this is part of what you both need to do to heal: you need to feel and express your pain; he needs to support you through it. Ask him how he can help you!

      I found that it was also important, for me, to be honest with myself and not cry just to hurt him. For a while it was difficult to tell the difference. Was I crying because I was sad, or because I wanted him to see my pain and anger? The feelings were so strong and so many emotions at once, I wasn't always sure. So I had to do some hard work to be honest with myself. I talked to him about that, too. I told him I was working to be completely honest in my emotions, to keep things on the surface and genuine, to not play any games or be passive aggressive about anything. And I told him I expected the same from him. 

      It worked. We've been healing in this environment of complete honesty, not just about facts but also honesty about feelings.

      That's what I did, and my husband listened and did his very best. And I cried for months and months.

      And eventually things got a lot better.

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    4. I'm with Mountainsailing. Cry. Cry as much and as long as you need to. But she also makes a really important point. Ask yourself if your tears are a genuine expression of pain…or an attempt to get him to acknowledge your pain. In other words, are they manipulative. It can be hard to know when our emotions are so intense and wild. But it's a valid question to at least ask.
      As for the rest, Mountainsailing offers up really great advice.

      Elle

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    5. I agree that he needs to be there to see your genuine sorrow. He can't run from what his actions have done to you. It isn't comfortable for him to see you like that and it isn't comfortable for you to feel like this. He needs to take responsibility for the effect his actions have had on you. You didn't choose this, he did. My husband used his affair to avoid facing his failures at home and at work. I refuse to allow him to avoid watching me process this. Sometimes he tries to leave the room and I tell him that I can't escape what I'm going through so he has no right to try to escape. He usually agrees and recognizes that wanting to walk away is self-centered. He often asks me what can he do to help me through the dark days. I really have no answer for him.

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    6. In the beginning he had such a hard time recognizing how wrong he did was that I made sure he was aware of my crying (we have a small apt so its not that hard), not that I put on crying (I am not much of a crier, normally). He did so much blameshifting, literally ran out of the house, got angry, got resentful. Now he is starting to recognize the deep hurt. It is still slow though. He feels mostly guilt with possibly a small drop of responsibility. I definitely know that guilt is destructive but maybe it will lead to taking responsibility. I am not trying to force that on him though. However, he has not gotten to the point of saying sorry on a regular basis. Or asking what can I do to make this better. I can't imagine that he would say "I want to be a husband who behaves with integrity." I have been the one pushing that we can work this out and acknowledging my role in how the marraige has deteriorated. But he hasn't rushed to my side to say how deeply sorry he is and wants to heal this. It is more like a slow trickle then withdrawal then slow trickle again. That is causing alot of hurt on my side. I don't know if it is just a matter of him getting further out of the fog as he has admitted to missing the AP.
      Nonetheless, I don't know what to ask for when I cry. I don't know if i should push him away or allow him to comfort me. None of it feels right.
      I know that I need more remorse and affair recovery before I feel secure in working out the marraige problems we had before. But somehow in therapy, we keep skirting that. We aren't talking about the things that need to happen for me to trust him. So I guess sometimes I cry because I feel neglected in my pain and feel hung out to dry with his unfinished business. I want to recognize that this will take time for him and me, I am just pissed that he can own it already.

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    7. There's nothing wrong with telling your therapist that you need to see remorse from him. And that you need him to be able to acknowledge your pain and support you through it. He/she can help each of you learn to listen to each other and support each other…without letting your own "stuff" get in the way. It takes practice, and probably some un-doing of bad habits.
      Take some time to figure out what you need when you're crying. Do you want a hug? Do you want him to simply hold your hand? Do you want him to promise you that he never wants you to hurt like this again? And then ask yourself what he's capable of giving you. You can't turn him into someone he's not…but you can reasonably expect that he help you the best he can.
      Whether he likes it or not, he created this devastation. Sure we each contribute to the breakdown of a marriage. But only one detonates the bomb that is betrayal. He needs to deal with that guilt. And there's a difference between guilt (acknowledging we did something bad) and shame (believing we are bad). It sounds as if your tears are triggering his shame, which is something he can't deal with. It's also, frequently, the reason these guys have affairs -- running away from emotions that are too overwhelming for them.
      In any case, talk all this over with your therapist. State your terms of reconciliation, which include support through this hell.

      Elle

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  9. Elle - I first found your site from your "5 steps to healing from an affair" post. You said you had gained wisdom. In post after post and reply after reply, you prove that you are so wise and very kind. Every since D-Day, five months ago, I have been at a loss for words so many times, (out of character) but coming here and reading what you write helps me to verbalize the feelings that seem to have no names.

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    1. Thank-you for your kind words. As you know, I've been where you are. It's the worst pain I've ever experienced (and hopefully ever will again). But it's amazing to me to look back and recognize what I gained from going through it. I never would have guessed…

      Elle

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  10. Thank you for your blog! I wish I didn't know about but we all do... :0(
    I am 9 weeks from #1 Dday and 1 day from #2.(same OW just more sex) after he was tested for STD once already... dam him.... now he is refusing to get tested again, I sure will! He left me and kids 44 days ago ans is staying at friends house.he's refusing to come back to me and the kids.We have dinners and talk almost everyday but at the end of the day he leaves .... breaks my heart every time. He is asking this time for him to works things out... what this working out mentfor him was two weeks ago a he took 3h driving to a spa with OW and 3h back to be with me and lyed his wear abouts all the way home then got dressed and we wen toa family party like nothings wrong. i am hart broken and I have done all the things they say not to do. How can i start recovery we he cannot face me and the "issue"? I want to save this marriage but we are not in therapy....he went I didn't. I am commited to wait and try my hardest because I love him I just don't love what he is doing. Thank you. ~u~

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    1. The short answer is you can't start recovery. Not until he's committed to rebuilding your marriage and willing to take full responsibility for the havoc he's wreaked.
      What is he saying? Does he want his marriage? If so, he needs to break this off, with your awareness (either there when he makes the call or copied on the e-mail). Short and not-so-sweet. Just 'it's over, I want my marriage, please do not contact me'. And then he needs to give you access to all forms of communication -- his phone, his computer, whatever else he might have used. Be calm and strong when you're telling him this. No begging, no demanding. Just simple and straightforward. If he wants his marriage, then he needs to end it and allow you to monitor his behaviour to ensure it's well and truly over and that he's being transparent and honest.
      Until then, you're in an unsafe relationship in which you're not being treated with respect or kindness.
      If he says he needs "time" (a fairly common request), you can determine whether that's something you're willing to give him. I would be inclined to say 'no'…but if you choose to, ensure that it's not just "time" to carry on with his affair under the guise of being "confused". He needs to make a choice and then stick with it. This isn't high school.

      Elle

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    2. Thank you thank you thank you Elle, and boy what a Thanksgiving it's going to be. He says he wants our marriage but also says soon soon he will have strenght to deal with my pain and rage. Right now his is out with" buddies" have been right after work. While I am getiing rady for Thanksgiving meal where is is going to come...... I keep saying NO MORE time for him and yet here I am waiting like in high school if he calls me.... so so sad. Why do I keep waiting for what he is promising, I think I see it now it will never come. He knows his actions are hurting me daily yet he's taking the risk that he will lose me. Deep down I think he is ready to lose me.....Elle you are an angle to all of us. Even night before Thanksgiving you share our pain. You truly are a strong person THANK YOU for that! ~u~

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    3. ~u~,

      I don't know that he is ready to lose you. That remains to be seen. What I do suspect is that you've taught him that he can do this and that you will put up with it. You've taught him how to treat you (to quote Dr. Phil). Now it's time to teach him something new. That you will not put up with it. That you deserve to be treated with respect. That your needs are at least as important (moreso post-infidelity) than his. But it's up to you to ensure that those needs are met…or that they are communicated in a way that's not open to debate.
      You need to make it clear what your requirements are for reconciliation. Figure it out and make a list: No contact. Access to all forms of communication. No going out after work. Or whatever makes sense for you.
      Then…what are the consequences if he refuses or messes up. Does he move out? Sleep on the couch? Do you serve him with divorce papers? It's not the severity of the consequences, but the inevitability that's important. In other words, if you don't want to divorce but you do want him to change his ways, then every single time he dismisses your needs in favour or what he wants, you need to deliver the consequences. If he doesn't show up for dinner, then are the consequences that you go out with a friend and he comes home to nothing/nobody? Are the consequences that you take yourself shopping for shoes? Are the consequences that he'll find the locks changed? Come up with consequences that feel right to you…and that you are able to enforce every single time. It will feel really scary at first (REALLY scary). You're trying out something that likely feels really uncomfortable to you. But you're also taking a really crucial step toward respecting yourself and your needs. You can't expect others to treat you with respect when you don't treat yourself that way.
      So…get clear on what you need. Get clear on what the consequences are if he continues to put you off. And get ready to feel really uncomfortable…but to do it anyway. Have a backup plan -- a friend you can call who can give you a "you go girl" pep talk.
      If you mess up and cave in, don't beat yourself up. Just get ready to enforce your boundaries better next time.
      You can do this. He either joins you in rebuilding or he's shown the door. He doesn't get to have it both ways. It's not healthy for you or, frankly, for him. Prepare for pushback -- he won't like this. But too damn bad.

      Elle

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  11. THANK YOU !!! I NEEDED IT!!!! you rock ~u~

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    1. sorry to let you know but the OW won this time..he just left me to be eith the OW. I don't think he is coming back this time...or if I should even bother to wait....I put my foot down to recovery he just wasn't ready.....

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    2. Hi Anon,

      Your situation sounds alot like mine. I tried to give my WS lots of space, but he just kept seeing and talking to the OW. Give space but lay down boundaries. I told WS, you will lose your chance to have this marriage and this family if you do not stop talking to her, cut off all contact, send a letter to end it, and give me access to your phone/email/facebook so I can block and monitor your communication. I told him I am planning on contacting a lawyer if he doesn't stop. I also told alot of people we know because his head was so deep in the sand, that he needed to face the music publically. He got the message.

      You and i are in the tough spot of trying to save the marraige. We are in unusual circumstances which makes it harder for the spouse to end the affair. He hasn't had the experience of your rejection. Alot or most women will file for divorce. Often, the divorce card is enough to jar a man back to his senses. But since he knows he still has you as an option, it is harder. They will try to play it both ways for awhile since both the wife and OW are welcoming them. So for people like us we need boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. Otherwise, he won't know what he is missing.
      There will be pushback, blame shifting, whining, complaining, sulking. Don't break infront of him. Don't second guess yourself in front of him. Stay open to him and let him know you still love him (if you really do). Listen. Don't rage, beg, weep and explode (too much). But stick with your rules. Respect yourself, show confidence (even if you don't feel it) and he will respect you. Do your best to live as if you are not expecting him back. Get support away from others. Like Elle said, it is hard to be perfect--I caved and cried in front of him alot. But I kept reiterating my bottom line and gave him deadlines for when he had to leave if he couldn't agree to my rules. My most recent consequence was a week on the couch and a threat that after the holidays, I would want a separation. It was the jolt he needed to see me and our life as important enough to work for.
      We are 3 months from D-day and my WS is finally getting it and recommitting and seeing me for the smart, capable, sensitive, real woman that I am**. But I had to try to make peace with the idea that I would have to let him go and move on if he couldn't get it together within a reasonable time frame.

      **Do things that remind you of how great you are. You can be great without him. That is really the only way through this, and the only way that he may open to recommitting to you.

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    3. Is that you, u? I'm so sorry. But insisting on boundaries is still the only way forward. He was either going to cheat with your permission or cheat without your permission. At least by creating boundaries you've insisted on being treated with respect, which is crucial to your own healing. You might not see it now but he's done you a favour. You don't need someone who would treat your love like it wasn't valuable.
      Focus on getting through this. Take it a minute at a time. I promise you will get through this. You are worth more than a million OW. Treat yourself as such.

      Elle

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  12. Thank you thank you both. I am a house wife two teenagers, with no income so I feel totally under his power and control.., luckily he is not using it...yet.. He is saying he will take care of us.... I feel helplesss on this situation. He didn't even try to work our marriage, well first and then one day... he just can't do it and he keeps focusing for all the things thaw were "wrong" in our marriage. We had a lot of good too. I will talk to a lawer soon. Now all he has is two messed up ladies crying over him and messed up mind. He needs medical help. Day at the time , day at the time. Thank you! ~u~

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    Replies
    1. U,

      A minute at a time, if necessary!

      He sounds pretty deep into the fog of an affair. Some guys feel as if they can't extricate themselves so it seems almost easier to just keep going. They figure their wives will never forgive them so the OW seems like the path of least resistance. And certainly, rebuilding a marriage is not for the faint of heart.
      Hang in there. Take care of yourself. Get to a lawyer to ensure you're clear on what you're entitled to and so you can figure out a path forward, with or without him.

      Elle

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  13. I am so sorry Anon,
    Get a lawyer for sure. Let him go for the time being. Most importantly please protect yourself and take care of yourself. Let him go for now and figure out what you really want. Does he deserve you, anyway?
    It is helpful to learn about affair fog. Affair fog keeps them blind to what they really want. They are not able to make rational decisions so don't let him run the show. Try to keep control of what you can. As a housewife and mother you are powerful. You are valuable. You took care of the home and kids, he couldn't have acheived what he has without you. It hurts so bad to be rejected like this. But it is not your fault. You didn't cause it.
    Do your best to not beg him to come back. If you still love him, let him know but don't let him take away your dignity.

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  14. Thank you again!
    MBS and Elle it all makes sense now. He is acting just like in the book about affairs. Should I tell him about "affair fog" (send link on email) or will he just get mad again? Plus I am trying to not to contact him (first day).... I do love him and still want to try to recover....but I love myself more!!!! ~u~

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    Replies
    1. U,
      Nope -- don't send him anything. People having affairs are like teenagers -- they think they're the only ones in the world to ever feel like this. Life is so DRAMATIC. Stay calm (on the surface), cool and collected. Make it clear that there's a price to pay for his actions…and that price is that he's lost you as an ally. At least for the time being. It's not game-playing, it's about setting healthy boundaries.

      Elle

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  15. Me again, bad speller ~u~...... This is just so hard. I miss my marriage and my friend. I undestand it's all long gone but I still miss him and us. I keep repeating over and over in my mind how he left me again. One day, last Friday he commited and wanted safe our marriage and then Saturday evening he is texting with her again, Sunday morning he goes for a drive to call it off with her, (couldn't do on front of me,,, silly me to let him go..) comes home and tells that he just can't leave her. What did she say to him?? Why did he run to her again????? He is on his fog, right? I am really starting to lose hope.

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    Replies
    1. U,
      Yes, he's deep in his fog. And to some degree, you're helping him. Get really clear with your boundaries. He can NOT have both of you. You are going to move forward, with or without him.
      What trips many of us up is thinking that, if we're doing the "right" thing, it will be easy. Or feel good. It won't. It will hurt like hell. Of course, you miss him. Of course, you want your marriage. But that doesn't mean that moving forward without him is the wrong thing. It might end up being the only thing. You want a marriage with a committed partner. Not someone who's wishy washy and expects two women to fight over him. This is intoxicating stuff for him. To have two women?? Nirvana. Ego-boosting. He's a rock star.
      Except he's not. He's a cheater and he's betraying his vows and his partner. That's not okay.
      So…feel the hurt. But trust that it won't last forever. Don't hold your breath. Stick to your boundaries (you're right re. letting him break it off on his own. He needs to do it simply -- "I am working on my marriage and will have no further contact with you." and with you present). Don't be accommodating or easy-going. He's cheating on you, for God's sake. Get angry. Stand up for yourself. You do NOT deserve this. I'm not saying that you go batshit crazy, just that you refuse to be treated like runner up to the prom queen. If he wants the benefit of a lifetime with you, then he'd better smarten up. And plan to do a whole lot of work to make up for what he's done.

      Elle

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    2. Uh, sooo I have to eat my words. Or some of them. My husband has been telephoning his AP since the "no contact" letter I made him write in mid Oct. I had asked him numerous times to tell me if he was contacting her and he looked me straight in the face and lied, numerous times. Her estranged husband finally emailed me to tell me they were talking, as recently as yesterday. I feel so utterly humiliated but not defeated like I was when I first found out. I am a bit relieved to know who I am dealing with and what he is capable of. Our relationship had been going too well and I was feeling like the other shoe was about to drop. Well it did and thus ended all the good work we have been doing for the last 2 months. I don't know what else I feel, but do I feel sorry for him for his lack of integrity. Sad to know that my children have a self absorbed a$$ as a father. I don't think the affair was rekindled, he just has an addict personality and has a hard time saying no to thrills and feeling high. He claims he is obsessed and can't control it. The calls were more like check ins and keeping tabs on her--she just got herself a boyfriend BTW, 2 months after the NC letter and still living in the house with her estranged husband--a real class act. My husband still has good qualities and I believe in his capacity for growth. But I also know know that he is also very capable of self sabotage and mental gymnastics (my favorite phrase from Elle). In other words, a very, very damaged individual.
      Still letting it sink in but I am all for drawing a firm line (not sure what it is yet) but planning that he will have to go. Not sure if he has it in him to be better than this. sigh.

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    3. MBS,
      You don't have to eat anything. I'm sorry he's acting like such an idiot.
      You sound incredibly calm and strong, which is good. Think of the first D-Day as a warm-up for the big game, which is now. You know that you will not tolerate this behaviour. You know that begging and pleading isn't going to work. He needs to absolutely understand that everything that really matters to him is threatened if he doesn't pull his head out of his ass. If he's acknowledging that he has an "addictive" personality, insist that he get himself into therapy or into a 12-step program, or both.
      So…yes, a very damaged individual. Draw your firm line. Take time to figure out what it is and what you can reasonably live with. The rest is up to him. I hope he rises to the occasion.

      Elle

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  16. Mbs

    Thinking of you at this difficult time x x

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  17. MBS, boy what a holiday's we are going to have.... I am sad to read your new posting.. I am having a sobbing free moment and enjoying it, hopefully I can sleep tonight and hopefully tomorrow I don't cry all day...... let's hang in there together all this support on this blog is really helping me thank you all.until my saga (soap opera) goes on ~u~

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  18. I think he may have realized he hit rock bottom. OUr therapist laid it all out. If he slips again, there is no chance of recovering our marriage. The next day he started 12 steps for love and sex addiction. He is talking to his friends. He is finally saying the things I was waiting to hear. He wants to go deep in his issues. He sounds way different than I ever heard. On my part, I am not doing the talking or the directing. I am hurting the situation by trying to push, prod and drag. Just insisting on my bottom line for safety, honesty and transparency. But otherwise I am taking my time, listening, doing yoga, and crying. Lets see how long my Zen act will last.
    Still waiting to see if the other, other shoe will drop (its a four legged animal here :). I do still believe is is capable of self awareness but has to be proactive about getting over his hurdles.
    Thank you all for your kind words of support. They are keeping me from punching him in the mouth.

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    1. One of the hardest parts for me was not micro-managing my husband's recovery (have I mentioned I have a bit of a problem with control??). Letting go felt terrifying. But it was ultimately liberating. Wow…to actually let other people do their own thing without worrying they would do it wrong. To realize that taking care of myself is a full-time job. It, eventually, felt great. So stick with your Zen act as long as you can. If you slip, no worries. Just get back at it. You'll be amazed at how easy life can actually be. Not that bad things won't happen…but realizing that hanging on tight doesn't stop them from happening. And that you've got the resources to handle whatever comes.
      As for punching him in the mouth, no doubt he deserves it. But channel your inner Ghandi and opt for non-violence. :)

      Elle

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  19. I am realizing how important it is for betrayed spouses and cheaters to rid themselves of opinionated people during this time. Most people subscribe to the soulmate fiction and fall into the hollywood romance of illicit relationships. I just learned that in talking to his guy friends, my husband was getting very different takes and feedback on his affair. One of his friends who is recently divorced, was feeding the "soul-mate" fantasy in their conversation. My husband admitted that it helped feed the "love" addiction (as did Google and Facebook) which contributed to him still calling the OW. He owns his behavior but when you are vulnerable and weak, your mind can easily be contorted and twisted.
    An acquaintance of mine suggested to me that maybe our relationship had run its course and we just needed to move on, and others imply that maybe people aren't meant to be monogamous. If people are bringing such beliefs to you, it can hurt your recovery. It is so key to get rid of the the naysayers until you know what you want.

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  20. I believe is true an affair could save a marriage. It has been 9 months since d - day and we are going strong our communication has gotten a lot better but there is only one things it is still bothering me and is the fact that he doesn't want to have sex because he says he doesn't feel it and he needs time it is discouraging at times and it angers me sometimes but I don't know what to do....any thoughts?

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    1. I can imagine it's quite hurtful for you to have him reject you sexually after betrayal. Sex can be a great way to reconnect.
      I'm curious what he's not "feeling it". Is he still shame-filled about his actions? Has he worked through why he cheated in the first place with a therapist? I suspect there's something more than simply "time" needed.

      Elle

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  21. You think??....Our relationship was really bad prior the affair we had a lot of problems so he is I guess trying to get over it ...we hurt each other and our communication was completely lost....now things have changed we are definitely closer than ever but sex is not as often just in the beginning was a bit weird he was a bit aggressive not in a bad way but it was different then it stopped....it has been almost 2 months

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    1. At two months there's still a lot of pain to wade through. That you can both be honest about what was wrong in your marriage is a good start. Give it time, continue to communicate with each other. I suspect the sex will improve as the raw pain diminishes.

      Elle

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  22. Thank you so much you are a great inspiration for other my like is finally getting together and closer communication I also definitely improving as well as trust it just one piece missing and is sex.

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