Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fear Vs. Intuition

Not so much fear vs. intuition as my two favourite cats! :)
The night before D-Day, the house was quiet. I had just wrapped up a huge project that had consumed me for months. I felt deeply satisfied. The last of the celebrating guests had left. My husband had departed for a two-day work conference. My three kids were asleep. The pets were dozing on the bed and I climbed into it to join them in sleep.
And suddenly I knew that my husband was having an affair with his assistant.
It hit me such clarity. I picked up the phone and told my friend at the other end that I believed my husband was cheating. "Tell me what you know," she said. I laid out my "evidence" which, frankly, didn't amount to much. Some dinners out under the auspices of deadlines that needed to be met. The  contempt the assistant had for me, which included making it clear to me that "you won't be seeing much of your husband for the next while because we have so much work". My husband's skyrocketing anxiety. Not enough to convict a man.
My friend responded with "it doesn't look good".
I tried calling my husband. Over and over, I keyed in his number only to hear his voicemail.
The next morning, I reached him and told him what I "knew". He denied, then minimized, then fell apart when I refused to back down. The usual panicked dance of the cheater.
And then he came home and told me the truth. Well, the truth about her. The truth about the many, many others would come six months later when, again, after a lovely day spent with his family I suddenly knew that there was more to the story. At that point, I calmly took off my wedding ring, placed it between us and said to him: "You are going to tell me everything."

My intuition is one hell of a guide. So is yours. The problem, of course, is that so few of us pay attention to it. We've had a lifetime of being told to ignore it, override it, shut it the hell up for the sake of keeping the peace.
Following D-Day, our fear is in high-gear. We're living post-trauma, terrified of every potentially missed text, suspicious phone call, strange catch in our husband's voice. Clearly we missed signs of infidelity already and we pour over our past like forensic experts, analyzing the "evidence" we might have overlooked.
Fear vs. intuition? God help us.
He swears there's no more contact. He promises it was only that one time. He's full of remorse, begging you to believe him.
That's where our intuition often disappears behind the blind terror of taking a chance on a known cheater.
As the weeks pass, we remain vigilant. Why did he put his phone away so quickly? It's 6:10 and he said he'd be home by 6 so where is he? My texts are unanswered so what is he doing? Fear keeps us hyper-alert. But it also keeps our intuition dormant.
The thing with fear is that it come with panic. It comes with confusion. It floods our senses. Intuition on the other hand, is a quiet voice. It comes in stillness. It's a...knowing. Its companion is calm. Fear's companion is chaos. Fear screams. Intuition whispers.
It might help to do some homework:
•When in your life have you had a strong intuition about something that was true. How did it feel? Where did it show up in your body?
•What does fear feel like for you? When have you felt afraid? Where does it show up in your body?
As you navigate this post-betrayal road and find yourself wondering whether your husband is still cheating, cheating again or thinking of cheating, start by carving out some silence. Journal your thoughts, including what he's doing or not doing that's making your spidey senses tingle. If you have someone you can talk to (who will remain calm and not magnify the drama), then speak with her. Or bring your questions here for the club. Find yourself a therapist who can do some post-trauma work with you.
And then...speak with your husband. The only way you are ever going to rebuild a marriage is to be able to speak honestly and respectfully with each other. Does his response to your pain give you comfort? Or does it fuel your suspicion?

One day, about six months after D-Day 2, I was driving home from out of town when I felt like I "knew" my husband was cheating again. The "evidence" that led me to that conclusion was just a feeling I had but I felt certain.
I walked into the house, calmly told my husband to follow me to the bedroom where I told him, in a hissed whisper, I knew exactly what he was doing and I would NOT be made a fool. He was baffled. He insisted that nothing NOTHING was going on. His bewilderment made it clear to me that I was wrong. I was flooded with relief. I hadn't been guided by my intuition but by my fear.
So...my system isn't foolproof. Sometimes fear does a brilliant job of masquerading as intuition. And sometimes we need to go to great lengths to create the quiet necessary to discern the two. I'm glad that, instead of packing my bags that day, I chose to share my suspicion with my husband. I'm glad that I trusted the relief I felt. I had desperately needed his reassurance and it felt authentic and comforting to me.
I've learned through all this to pay closer attention to my intuition in every area of my life, from how to respond to someone asking me to volunteer my time to whether to ask my 17-year-old to show me what's in the backpack she's taking to a party (a beer, incidentally). My intuition always steers me right. My fear? It's the backseat driver that I'm learning to tune out.



53 comments:

  1. Omg Elle I have been working on something along these lines for MONTHS but could not find a way to explain the difference in the feelings of fear and intuition. You've done it. You've done it!! "fear's companion is Chaos."
    Your intuition will guide you during his reactions to your questions too.
    Even in the early days when I was reeling, because my H and I were finally talking in a very real way for the first time in years, I hit him with almost cried every question that crossed my mind. They were often small. My intuition was right every time and I could always tell by the way he responded if all was well.
    but my fears ? The panicky horrible chaotic fears? After airing those he would still address them (amazing sometimes he still talked to me) and my intuition guided me as to if he was telling the truth. It's crazy how much we know or learn listening to the whisper of intuition. Thanks for this.

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  2. Absolutely. Thank you for making it so clear. When my husband and I were separated this past April, I spoke with his cousin, who is a psychologist. She was absolutely fabulous in so many ways. She gave me such insight and practical advice. We spoke at length on at least two occasions, and one of the things she said that I remember the most… was ... "trust your instinct ... trust your intuition ... respect that part of you." I was taken aback. This may sound funny, yet no one had ever validated that part of me. I had not validated that part of me. I would feel the intuition, the gut feeling, yet, unknowingly I discounted it as not logical or not supported by fact. Thank you Elle for bringing this to light. The next time I have such a feeling, I will remain still and listen.

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  3. Fear is the enemy of our intuition. I clearly remember sitting at this same computer, hands shaking, phone in hand as I tried to call the private detective company in the city where my husband and his co-worker were on a business trip. I talked myself out of it. I convinced myself I was being paranoid and crazy (just as he had told me I was). My intuition was screaming at me that something was wrong with their "friendship". To this day I believe FEAR is what held me back. I didn't recognize it then, but I was afraid of being right. Afraid of the choices I would have to make in light of the truth. So while I pushed hard for answers, I never decisively followed through on finding out the truth. I believed his pat little answers and excuses. Never again.

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  4. Looking back ... i should have listed to that whisper many times instead of brushing it off as fear, craziness and just plain outrageous thoughts ... i wish intuition screamed at us. .. instead of whispers ..... things whispered often mean more than things screamed ... isnt that the truth! I can't agonize over that and now that im on high alert and my feelings abd nerves on edge i do need to find how to decipher the intuition vs the fear ... practice makes perfect right. Great post Elle.

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  5. What a timely post for me. My imagination went wild yesterday. And why? Because my husband came home from work an hour early saying he wasn't feeling well and needed to rest. Well, right before D-day, he was tired and taking naps constantly. What was really happening was guilt was catching up to him, and rather than facing what he was doing, he escaped in sleep. (Plus staying up late into the night to binge on porn and talk to other women online uses up a lot of energy.)

    So when he came home so tired, all of a sudden I went on high alert. He'd been too tired to have sex the night before. He's taking a ham radio course, he'd attended his latest class the night before. I suddenly thought, what if he didn't actually attend the course? What if he was sneaking out to meet someone else? What if he's relapsed and is doing it all over again? What if he's lying to me? I was waffling, my intuition saying, "You know he's telling you the truth," but then fear yelled, "That's what you told yourself before D-day!" For a while there, I just "knew" that he was lying to me again.

    So I confronted him with what I was thinking. He immediately showed me all the proof he could: course materials, the fact that he picked up his sister from work, and offered to let me call our coworker who is taking the course with him, and that my husband had given him a ride home after class. I hadn't known that the coworker was attending as well. The fact that my husband didn't get defensive, but was immediately willing to show me verifiable evidence of where he was, really helped me.

    One of the biggest ways I'm learning to tell the difference between intuition and fear is to take the relationship temperature. Looking back in hindsight of the time before D-day, I always sensed that there was something between us, I just didn't know what it was. Because of my codependency, I thought it was my fault. I thought I was doing something wrong and that's why he was pulling away from me. But I'm in recovery for my codependency, and I no longer automatically blame myself if something doesn't feel right. Now that we have true intimacy, I can actually tell that he's being open with me. Before, even the times we felt close still felt like there was some kind of barrier. But not anymore. So when my fear starts speaking up, I think back to myself, is that intimacy barrier there, or not? It helps me to know which voice to listen to. Not to mention the fact that I no longer hide my fears from him. I used to bottle it up and try harder to make things work. Not anymore. If these thoughts come up, then he has to give me an accounting of his actions. The fact that he doesn't get defensive, but is willing to be completely transparent with me, has gone a long way in healing our relationship.

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    1. Gee,
      It's that willingness (without defensiveness) of our spouses to reassure us that goes a long toward establishing trust. It acknowledges our trauma around this and shows their desire to help us heal. Glad your husband gets that.

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  6. Simply amazing Elle!

    Fear vs. Intuition

    The intuition was overwhelming leading up to D day and I confronted my H over and over again...of course, denial.

    I hated the OW, even before the affair happened, I guess I had that gut feeling even before IT happened that it eventually would.

    The fear is overwhelming after the fact...the fear that they haven't told us everything, the fear it's still happening, the fear it will happen again.

    We are 16 months out from D-day, and the affair and 8 months prior to that day. I had the opportunity to talk to a fabulous friend of mine over the summer and she helped me see things in such a different light. No drama, she listened to everything I told her, she asked questions and told me exactly what she thought..."from everything you've told me, he loves you, you love him. He did what he did and it sucked but I think it's done, it's over and he won't do it again. You need to learn to trust him again not to give him piece of mind, but for yourself. " She herself had a husband that continuously cheated on her, so she had experience behind her. A weight lifted that day! She loves us both and she means the world to both myself and my H. That day, I came home from my visit with around 10pm, my H was waiting up for me. No words needed to be spoken that night, he knew the conversation had happened, and he knew it was good for me, for us.

    Since that day, my fears are much calmer, they still exist, but it is much better. When the "fear" strikes, I just have to stop and think, breath and relax because I know it doesn't help me, my H, our relationship. I now tell him about my fears and he can always put them to rest...and I am so thankful!

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    1. What a wonderful friend who could be with you in your pain while offering steadfast support for both you and your husband. And your husband's ability to hear your pain too is wonderful.

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  7. I knew things were becoming more and more difficult and hostile between us and I was aware of a different friend that he was spending too much time talking to but I had no intuition about an OW. He was keeping the two things separate in his mind. So we were talking about not getting on and whether we should separate and yet I had no idea about this year long EA in the background. When D-Day arrived 9 months after the first he was again living two realities in his head - sending heartfelt texts about how he had treated me and what I was going through - while talking to her for a month behind my back until found out (not disclosed.) So I was blindsided, where was my intuition then? A couple of months after D-Day 2 I found a very loving and slightly saucy birthday card from the OW in the pocket of my husband's coat. If it was recent it meant they'd renewed contact once more - otherwise it was a full year old (and yes, it was an old coat he hardly ever wore). My fears kicked in but I could not rely on any form of intuition, the fact he had lied to my face before left me with no confidence in my own judgement. I waited to gather facts but before too long confronted him. It was a year old (he hadn't seen it in the pocket or even remembered putting it there - this I can believe.) I gave the benefit of the doubt but I don't know when or if I will ever have absolute confidence that there aren't things kept back and hidden. The relationship feels different now I don't yet have enduring trust.

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    1. Fragments,
      I think most of us who are rebuilding feel, at least at first, that there will "never" be a day when we trust again. And there's some truth to that. I will "never" feel as naive. I know now what people, including my husband, are capable of doing right under my nose.
      However, I have learned to trust myself. Not to necessarily know everything but to respond when I do know. A sort of, "fool me once..." mentality that gives me confidence in my own ability to keep myself emotionally safe. And, with the time that's passed, I'm also far more confident in my husband's desire to remain faithful. He doesn't want to be that guy again. Too much shame.

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  8. I wish I could trust my intuition, but I don't want to anymore. I was so clueless about everything-my marriage, my husband, and myself-that I can't even recognize whether it's intuition or fear. I suppose it was intuition that made me keep digging after DDay #1. I was right. Twice. Now I am AFRAID because my intuition seems to be saying this isn't over yet, and so far it's been spot on.

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    1. Cactus Flower,
      How are you responding to your gut feeling that something is still going on? Intuition that leaves us feeling paralyzed is fear. Should you be seeing a lawyer to develop something of an "exit plan"?

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  9. Learning to trust intuition and decipher it from fear is a skill everyone should have and use. Intuition is vital. It tells us when our kids are sick; it whispers in our ear to turn the corner now to avoid a tragic accident. If we listen without judgment, it never steers us wrong. It guides us when nothing else makes sense. On D-Day intuition guided me to find positive healing support. It leads us to find answers to questions we never thought to ask.

    Intuition alerted me to my husband’s affair. I was sitting in my living room when he arrived home one Friday night. Emptying his pockets at the door, he laid his wallet and keys on the table and trudged upstairs to his office. Busily working, I was interrupted when something told me to check his wallet. I shook my head to clear my mind and listened quietly. I heard it again. I have never rifled through my husband's things—especially not his wallet. I wondered why I would do such a thing now? But nagging feeling would not subside so I got up, walked across the room and picked up his wallet. I held it for a moment, chastising myself for what I was about to do.

    Opening the wallet I found receipts from the week’s travel. As I unfolded each one, I wondered how to decipher work from non-work receipts. I spotted a receipt tucked away and knew this was it. I quickly spread it open to reveal a coffee shop receipt for two flavored coffees. Oddly, my husband didn't frequent coffee shops, nor did he order flavored coffee. I thought about it all weekend. He traveled weekly, saw customers everyday, and could have a thousand viable excuses for this receipt. But deep down I knew the truth. I knew he was having an affair and I even knew the woman. It was his best friend’s wife.

    The following week I confronted him on the phone. I didn’t need to see his face to know he was guilty—I could feel the tension. Over the next few hours, he told me five vastly different variations of the coffee shop story, all of them lies. I told him not to come home until he was ready to tell the truth. Two hours later he confessed that it was, in fact, his best friend’s wife. My intuition was right.

    Unfortunately, my husband only confessed to having coffee that day, nothing else. We both knew the truth, but he would not be honest about his affair. I waited ten long years to hear the truth and remained in a state of limbo until he found the courage to be honest—19 months ago. Turns out it wasn’t a one night stand over a chance meeting at a coffee shop, or even a week-long tryst that he had with his best friend’s wife. No, it was an ongoing affair spanning the entire five years we lived in that state.

    Without getting too far off point, I had very strong instincts without any factual basis and I listened to them. I’ve learned to trust myself and listen carefully to my inner voice. I’ve come to know it as Divine Intervention. We all have an intuitive connection, no matter our belief system. We only need to learn to trust it. Elle is right—intuition presents itself in stillness, sometimes when you least expect it. It presents itself quietly and calmly and does not require factual evidence or proof. It is telepathic in nature, something we do not readily understand or trust, and is much like a whispering voice or a gentle nudge.

    When fear guides us our intuition is muffled. Fear begets mistrust, which discounts our inner voice. Wisdom falls on deaf ears and we are left wandering in the dark without benefit of our intuitive GPS. Fear is nothing more than an emotion, and when it gets the best of us, chaos ensues. Only when we step back, acknowledge we are afraid but must move forward despite our fear, can we clear the airwaves to hear our intuition. Unlike fear, intuition is never negative. It is always unemotional. It guides us with healing at its core. It may lead us to difficult realities, but intuition protects us and is a catalyst to enlighten, teach and ultimately lift us up.

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    1. I've read your words thoughtfully, and I'm going to think about them and then come back and reread them in hopes they'll help me hear my intuition. Because I don't remember a time when I've ever felt it! I had NO clue that my husband had been having an affair for about five years until I stumbled across his secret email address. None at all -- no twinges that I brushed off, no suspicious behavior at all. And when he denied when confronted, his denials seemed authentic. (Each time! Trickle truth.) So now I do believe it's over, but that belief is based on things other than my own intuition, which I'm not even sure I have. :(

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    2. Jennifer, please don't beat yourself up over not knowing. It is not your fault that you didn't know. You have intuition, but our intuition doesn't warn us about every single thing.

      One of the hardest things I had to do was forgive myself for not knowing. In fact, I'm still forgiving myself. My intuition told me to check his wallet, but I was absolutely blindsided when I found out it had begun long before then and it carried on long after I confronted him.

      When my husband finally told me the truth ten years later, he trickled it over 19 months and, who knows--he may still be trickling. I was in a shock. I knew he was going to say he had an affair, but I thought it had only just begun or was maybe a one night stand. The fact it lasted five years was incomprehensible to me. I'm still suffering from PTSD and I still have flashbacks about things that are suddenly making sense now that I know the truth.

      The OW was my husband's best friend's wife. She was pushy and determined to be my best friend, but I never trusted her (thanks to my intuition) and never truly let her in. However, that didn't stop her from barging into my house, my life, and even my family. She showed up unannounced anytime she liked and was even standing in my bedroom one afternoon when I had laid down for a nap. I don't know how she got in since I was the only one home and had the doors locked, but I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't secretly have a key made to our house. My intuition woke me up from a dead sleep when she was standing there, but it didn't bother filling in all the details. That was up to me.

      When you start thinking back, going over each and every day, memories of little things will begin to come to mind. You will realize there were all kinds of signs that you saw, but dismissed because you trusted your husband. It's very upsetting at first, but you need to understand that you were not responsible for knowing something two people tried very hard to keep under wraps. You are not a super sleuth. You were everything you ever needed to be just as you were at that very moment, and just as you are right now.

      How could we possibly be responsible for knowing something like that?? We were going about our daily business, trusting and loving our husbands, just as any wife would. How could we have ever known? The answer is, we were not supposed to know. They went to great lengths to keep their dirty deeds hidden, and unless we're all psychic or have the ability to read the future, it was virtually impossible to know what was going on.

      There is nothing flawed in you. You do have intuition just like the rest of us. You were a loving, trusting wife and that is exactly what you were supposed to be. Do not beat yourself up. It was not your fault. You could not have seen this coming.

      Intuition is only an aid to us--it's not an all-knowing crystal ball. But getting more in tune with yourself will improve your ability to hear that quiet voice inside. It is inside you, I promise. Don't let someone else's terrible mistake cause you to question yourself. You are not flawed in any way, shape or form. You are perfect just as you are this very moment. Know this fact and every time you look to yourself to blame for some shortcoming, remind yourself that you did nothing to deserve this; you did nothing wrong by not knowing ahead of time. You were and are an innocent bystander. It's not your fault.

      I am with you in spirit. I feel every ounce of your pain. Don't lose sight of yourself in this. Be kind to yourself and continue to love yourself, no matter what.

      Sending you my love. xoxoxo

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    3. Marilee lane

      I need to read this post over and over. So many times when you write I feel like I am reading my thoughts and feelings. I struggle with this so much. Especially if I embrace the narrative that I cannot control my husbands decisions but only my own. Which for me includes intuition and every other feeling and emotion. But this feels epic and so hard. I feel like I am barely holding on sometimes. I just beat myself up and it is so true I just keep going over the past 10 years. Everything looks different to me. I feel my memoirs have been degraded. And words that were said and all these cards I have. I have one card from 2 days before he "broke up" with one of his affair partners that says "I love our life together and I am so lucky to have you as my wife". I just think how could I not see it. But when someone is being deceptive and these were sporadic affairs it was hard to see how I could know.

      I keep saying how can I move forward. Now I have a husband who on many accounts seems perfect and willing to do anything for me, our marriage and family. But it is a dark cloud hanging over me. How do I ever trust him. I feel some things do not make sense still. But it is the past. Does it matter? Can he even recall or tell me what happened over 10 years when he says all he did was try to avoid it and repress it. But he did it all. He keeps using the word authentic that he is living the most authentic life ever and has never been happier and is starting to like himself again. But for me it is how do I trust and forgive him and then myself. How can I truly live and allow myself to be happy and vulnerable? Do any of you have that issue? This weekend I found myself thinking I am so happy and feel so lucky for where we are and that we have each other. But in the back of my mind doubt creeps in. Ugh. Maybe time will help. I don't know. I feel like we we getting past the point of affair details even mattering anymore. I find I feel hung up on what the relationships meant and the why now. The facts are in the past but feelings remain forever. Ugh such a long and twisted journey. Thank you everyone!

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    4. Hopeful 30
      I was like you searching for the timeline and the why'd it happen and it must have been something I did or didn't do. The fact is the problem was his. My h was feeling his age and life passing him by. He was in a bad place in side his own brain. I'm at the point now I don't want to know anything more of the details, his ow dumped too many details as she continued to try and break up our marriage for an additional six months. I have spent the past year getting those mind movies out of my head. It's different for each of us how much we need to know but the bottom line is that he lied and cheated and nothing will ever change that part of our history. The truth is that I want happy back in our life and for the most part it is. I struggle with times my h travels for his job as one of the truths she shared was a trip she was on with my h after we were living in the same house again! So I still have those jittery nerves but I have also learned that I can't control his choices but for now I feel certain a new affair is the last thing on my h's mind! He struggled with the stress an extra year and a half because the ow was mentally ill and he had to send her to jail for harrasment. So I feel confident he learned the grass was not greener with an extra crazy woman in his life. I don't know what your h is doing to show you he's changed for the better but it does take time for the pain to lessen but it does at least for me it has as my h has made sure I see the man he was before he fell into hell with the ow. Keep reading here and ask questions. We each have different experiences but the pain is pretty much the same for all of us! Hugs!

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    5. Merilee, Thank you for writing that so clearly. Wow.
      And yes, I think many MANY of us have to forgive ourselves for not knowing. While I write that I suddenly "knew", I didn't "know" for the long years preceding this sudden awareness. Not. A. Clue. So...

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  10. Lots of heartfelt truth here.
    It's only been a couple of weeks since I came out of panicky, hyper-vigilant mode, and I feel like I'm still hovering in the edge of it all the time. I DEFINITELY do not like myself in that mode. But my H is so self-contained, hides his feelings so well, and is such a good liar. And there is something off in his story about how the affair ended. That being said, I do think it is over. That doesn't mean I'm not terrified.
    I will endeavor to be calm, to pray, and to listen to my intuition, not my fear.

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    1. Phoenix,
      That fear is horrible. I hope you can come to a place where you really know that, no matter what your husband is or isn't doing, you will be just fine. It takes a long while to get there. But it's liberating.

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  11. Elle, I love your posts, they are helping so much. 8 weeks since d day. My h of only 2 years has had an affair for 18 months. It started 6 months after getting married and 4,months after the birth of our son.
    He wants me back, has ended affair. Is full of remorse, regret and tears. Knows he's ruined my life.
    I want to trust intuition but I don't even know what it's telling me right now!
    Do you think length of marriage makes a difference - I don't know if he should be given a chance after betrayed me so quickly into our marriage and for so long?

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    1. Anonymous,
      I don't think there are "rules" about betrayal. But I do think you need to give yourself the time to get clear on what YOU want. Having a small child makes it easier to leave in the sense that you're not disrupting another's life in the same way (it would simply be all he ever knew). So this is truly your choice. Try and get still, see if you can listen to that small voice, watch your husband to see just how sincere he is...and then close your eyes and jump.

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    2. Thanks for your reply Elle. Time is the only healer at the moment and the only way to know what I truly want. My husband is doing everything financially for us and even mowing the lawn, bring round shopping etc to try to 'prove' himself but I need to see how he behaves over a long period of time to work out how I truly feel. Luckily our son is so young he won't remember any of this whatever the outcome. We are both having individual counselling - he seems just as shocked at the man he is who would have done this, as I am. I think we will start joint counselling soon as we talk a lot but just go round in circles. It's very early days and so I still am traumatised by all the details of the affair and they play over in my head on a daily basis. However 'normal' it sometimes feels when I see him, it usually ends in me getting very angry and upset because of this. I can't ever imagine all these thoughts subsiding and being able to move past them? I know one day I will feel what I want to do and I know it will all come down to whether I can be truly happy again. It's just so tough at the moment being in limbo and having good days and absolutely awful days.

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  12. Im really having to practice this besides dday shaking me emotionally i am now dealing with a health condition that has me restricted physically and in pain. .. fixable and short term hopfully. .. its left me not as active, much time on my hands and more vulnerable then i could imagine ... emotionally and now physically exhausted. .. this can bring fears in waves and although my h is stepping up to help i do wonder a little if this added stress will further put us back and if he could become vulnerable to contact from or to ow. H is showing me all right things and im not obcessing over this just in back of my mind ... nothing i can control anyways. .. and thinking over it i believe its just that ... fear. This is real life good times bad times all times we are suppose to help each other right. Theres no good time this could happen and a piece of me truly thinks all things happen for a reason ... i did need to work on me more put me first always hard to do now i dont have a choice ... i have to take care of me to get better. Just felt like sharing my rambling thoughts.

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    1. Wounded,
      You are getting some nasty lessons on letting go of control, aren't you? So unfair!
      Share your rambling thoughts anytime. Sometimes it helps to get clearer.

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  13. I love these thoughts fear and intuition, where does suspicion go in the middle or closer to intuition or neither. I wanted to share this with everyone about intuition. I'm trying to wean myself off of therapy (2 years every week) individual and couples, it's time. I had three questions to ask my H before we decrease therapy. 1. What has changed inside yourself? You made a reckless decision without thinking about anything except what you wanted. So what has changed inside of you so that if circumstances go to shit and the opportunity presents, you can say no. Circumstances do change. 2. What have you discovered about yourself so that you don't lie to me about emotional stuff. 3. How do you define a lie? I had a suspicion is why I asked. Question 1 & 2 were answered and I understood he has changed. But when we came to 3 there was a heated discussion and we disagreed. I always thought he was still holding back about affair information, minimizing, down playing and omitting. He says this is not lying and I say it is. My therapist says I'm too black and white. He is gray. She did tell him all those things constitutes lies. I gave an example about the affair and it was an omission. My therapist said has he ever lied about anything that was not affair related? I said not that I know about. She said all his lies are affairs related? I said yes, even now. Then I asked, if it affair related it is ok but if it is not then he hasn't lied? She excused my husband for a moment and looked me straight in the eye and said to me, Affairs are all about lies, I knew he was probably lying about the details. Affairs are all about lying. I don't know why this suspicion was confirmed and her answer makes sense. I guess I can never expects the entire truth, it really doesn't change anything. For example, i asked him if he ever said anything bad about me to OW? He said no. I said, the OW told me about how you told her our marriage was lacking. Too busy for him, never home blah blah. My H said that information is about our marriage not just you. I said I'm part of this marriage. Does it really make any difference and I'm probably splitting hairs due to fear. So I'm not expecting him to tell me the entire story ever and move on. The morale to my story is affairs are about lies, before, during and after- 2 years after. I can see both sides but it still bothers me.

    On another note, we sold our house and going to build a cabin on our land. New start, new memories and it is always what I wanted. Starting over on something that has not been tainted. Dreams do come true so hang in there. (The OW was in my house several times and drove by my house this week. My H was more upset than me, consequences, consequences.). You can be happy if HE is what YOU want and he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep you in the marriage. It took me 2 years to even begin to start to feel happy some of the time. Thanks to all I would have never made it this far, I quit about 14 times but the clouds are lifting and its a sunny day. I'll be in your dept forever you all!

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    1. Lynn,

      I cannot tell you how many times we had that very same argument about lies. My counselor told me "the truth is subjective" which pissed me off even more! So I started asking him for the facts. It may have helped a tiny bit, but he was still dancing around my questions.

      I finally decided to turn things around so he could see what it feels like. He was doing exercises with the counselor in learning empathy, so I began to turn our situation around. We imagined I was having an affair with our neighbor who he likes very much. I repeated some of the things he told me about his affair (which made him feel extremely uncomfortable) and asked him how he felt when it was time for him to ask me the questions and then listen to me giving him the answers he gave me. Although he hated roleplaying more than anything in the world, it really did help him to understand what he was doing and how it made me feel.

      In another conversation, I carefully explained to him how insulting it is to me that he would spin things to make them sound "better" when there is no sounding better--ever! I explained to him that minimizing things so they didn’t sound quite as bad was like throwing salt in an open wound, adding insult to injury.

      Finally, I told him I just needed him to be honest and feel the pain of his decisions, just like I had to feel the pain of his decisions. Because that is the bottom line--they dance around, dish out trickle truth, twist things, manipulate the truth, minimize things, all so they don't have to feel the excruciating pain of the choices they made. Not only can they not bear facing their own pain, but they also can't bear seeing the pain written all over our faces. When he finally stopped protecting himself and let his guard down, he was able to begin to face the pain he caused, feel the pain of his decisions and mistakes, and was able to then feel how excruciating it felt for me. Once he did this, there was tremendous growth for both of us. I was able to begin to let it go. I just needed to know that he loved and respected me enough to make himself vulnerable in order to face and truly feel the pain of his actions. It was only then that he really realized just how devastating his terrible decisions were, not only to me, but to him, as well.

      So happy to hear the two of you are starting over in a new house, in a new neighborhood. I wish you all the best of luck. I’m sure happiness will follow. You have given me hope for the possibility of a happy future of my own. xoxo

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    2. Again I feel I am reading about myself. We have the issue of "i don't remember". Which emphasizes the length and depth of all of this. How he repressed and also the infamous word compartmentalize his life. And with sporadic affairs I guess over 10 years it is hard to remember details. I do think he rewrote anything and everything that happened with our marriage and me. I have not changed at all (except for increased vigilance). But I swear he sees everything totally different. He glorified everyone else and he made me out to be everything negative under the sun. It is hard to deal with that. I tell him I have not changed since we met 25 years ago but you stopped liking and appreciating me for no known reason and now you are head over heels in love with me and the most devoted husband I could ask for. I feel confused, nervous and anxious about the way things are with us. It is everything I wished and dreamed for in our marriage and for our family but I am still holding back. I am still wary of potential lies and deception.

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    3. Wow, Merilee, that could be really powerful (assuming you have a husband who's being sincere and not simply repeating the "that wouldn't bother me" bullshit). And Lynn, I'm with you. Lying is lying. I don't know why this is so complicated. We know when we're lying. We know when we're not disclosing something because we don't want to deal with the person's sadness or anger or disappointment or questions or whatever. So maybe that's the thing: What is the motivation for disclosing (or NOT disclosing) certain information. And what is the cost? Of course, there's the old Dr. Phil reminder: If you wouldn't do what your doing with your wife standing beside you, you shouldn't be doing it. So, applied to lying, if you wouldn't tell your wife the WHOLE story, then chances are you're holding back information. And that, my friend, is lying.

      Delete
  14. Ps ive told my h about my fear ...

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    1. I guess i lots my first post from yesterday? Im really having to work on this besides the physical exhausted from dday i am now also dealing with a health condition hopefully fixable and short term it has me very restricted, limited and much time on my hand. I also cant take care of it all at the moment i dont have a choice right now other than to put me first. I told my h i do have fears this extra pressure may revert him to contact other woman just a thought in back of my mind im not obcessing over it and know i dont have control over it i can only hope not and ask him to use better judgment consideration and communication. Being down emotionally and now physically can really get me down but im trying to maintain. My h is doing his best to take care of things here and me. Some days it feels good other i long for more attention compassion not sure thats really because hes lacking ... im lacking or just because im on overload with dday and now this but i maintain im wounded not broken and as long as there is hope the possibility of brighter days ahead. Funny with all this mt h says your very demanding lately. ... no not really i just cant do it all myself meaning due to physical limits roght now. So far as far as dday he says he is over that and im what he wants. As long as hes willing so am i. One day at time.

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  15. Yes, Elle, intuition whispers. I love these posts, I long for clarity... yet I doubt I will ever trust my own judgment again. The OW was someone I warned him about. She stood too close and talked too long. I watched them through the zoom lens he gave me for Christmas. He insisted there was nothing going on. I told myself she would never be so obvious, she would never do that to another mom. I defended them both when other parents made remarks. I told him to knock it off. I still kick myself for the moment I looked through the zoom lens for the umpteenth time and thought to myself, "If my marriage is really that weak, bring it on." A year later he fell apart and confessed to a drunken ONS with someone I didn't know (he's a really bad liar, as Steam would say). I told him exactly who it was, there was no one else it could possibly be. He says he never saw it coming. I told him that I did, from 50 yards away. We separated for six months. Our kid said it best: "You know that guy in the movies who gets hit by lightning and comes back a totally different guy? That's him." He's doing everything right. We are working so hard, and have come so far, but fear chases me all over town. "Just you," he says. It helps.

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    1. Snowblind,

      I totally understand why you feel like you will never trust your own judgment again. But in reading your post, it seems to me that your judgment was always in perfect working order. Not only did you see them through your lens, but you saw them from 50 yards away and knew in your gut at that very moment. The thing is, you chose to trust the man you married. You chose to trust that what he was saying was truth. There is no flaw in trusting someone you love. Just as i said to Jennifer, please do not punish yourself for not knowing. We all do it, but we soon figure out that it was not our fault, nor our responsibility, to "know". It was his fault and his responsibility to come to you with the truth. You could not have known. It was not your fault.

      Be kind to yourself, nurture yourself through this, and know that you were all you should have been then and now. I am with you in spirit. I feel your pain because I've been there and am still there in many ways. Forgive yourself for not knowing.

      Sending you love.

      Delete
    2. Snowblind,
      Merilee is right. You absolutely saw this. But knowing it and acting on it are two different things. I also knew the OW was trouble...but without my husband admitting what was going on, I was left just thinking she was being pathetic and desperate. I trusted him...not her. Alas...
      Now I wouldn't be so passive. I would draw my line in the sand even if I looked crazy. If a relationship with another person created anxiety in me, then he shouldn't be in the relationship. That doesn't mean we abuse that expectation. Just that a marriage, if a partner wants to be in the marriage, needs to come first.

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  16. Snow blind --in a very old and different situation I saw the EXACT same thing transpire between a woman and my then boyfriend. A brazen bitch who we had BOTH met in the same night. I saw it so clearly from about 100 feet away. I told him, he denied it. They swapped numbers (!!) he said they were from the same hometown so it was just friendship. Fast forward a year, we had broken up. Guess who he was spending time with? Gas lighting can literally drive you insane

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    1. You are dead on, Steam. Just an old friend from his hometown. I have badgered the witness for over a year, and his story hasn't changed. He was sure they were just friends, then somehow he's zipping up his pants and puking on her lawn. He keeps saying it was awful. I told him it's a double standard: If he were a female college student, I would call the police, but zero sympathy for a 200-pound, middle-aged man who got lucky. No contact, nothing but remorse, hasn't touched alcohol since. P.S. I am a huge fan of your posts, especially "If..." Thank you, thank you, thank you for that. :)

      Delete
  17. Merilee, thank you so much for your kind words. I will print and keep them. Trauma means that I re-live it, over and over, like a soldier home from war. It has gotten better -- less frequent, less intense -- but when it triggers it's so hard to distinguish intuition from paranoia. I knew he was irritable (read: depressed) and I begged him to get help. When he refused, I imagined he would get sadder and madder, not have sex with a crazy woman. I come here to be reminded that it's not my fault, that I did nothing wrong. Between therapies, medication, and meetings, we are in a much better place. Thank you, Elle and others, for giving me a place where I find hope. Hugs to all.

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  18. This is the first time I have come to the website for some answers/clarity in MONTHS. Incredibly weird to find the first post on exactly what I was looking for. I have a "feeling," and it's driving me insane. I didn't have the intuition the first time I found out, which confuses me because why now? I don't even know where to begin because I have no evidence. None. Just the gut feeling. Suggestions?

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    1. It's tough to sort it all out. I still get feelings, but I'm trying to learn whether it's intuition or fear. Intuition when I suspected my marriage was in trouble because of the way my H was acting- and things he said that didn't ring true. Then when I became a detective and discovered everything I knew my intuition was right on. Now that he's back on track, I'm sure any odd feelings I get are due to fear. Sometimes the fear is relentless...and I search again, but tell myself I'm not going to find anything, and I don't. If your H has done everything he's supposed to do to make things right between the two of you, my guess is that your feelings, like mine, are based in fear. I also suspect- and others who are farther along can tell me if I'm on track or not- that until we are SURE our marriages are secure and our H's have transformed we will continue to deal with odd feelings off and on through the journey. And as Lynn suggests, think about the signs you're seeing. And talk with your H. It takes so long to get through this stuff- sometimes guys don't get that. His job is to help you with the healing. He can help if you let him (and if he's truly repentant).

      Delete
    2. Anonymous 1,
      Ask yourself where this feeling is coming from. Is it the way he's behaving? Have you heard anything that makes you wonder? Is there a woman in his orbit that makes the hair on your neck stand up?
      Are you, by nature, trusting? In other words, is it unusual for you to be feeling unsure about his fidelity?
      Doing some detective work feels horrible...but sometimes it gives us the answers we need. I tend to subscribe to the belief that if you're looking for evidence, chances are, even if you don't find it, something is going on.
      What does he say about your suspicions?

      Delete
  19. When i bottle up it festers ... if its been a couple days ... and u are able to communicate with your H ... ask him but in a gentle non accusations way ... i know thats a hard thing in itself. At least for me the long i let it build i either add on to it or blow! Up to you. I also talk to much wear my heart on my sleeve when maybe i should just zip it. Or i review a few days, watch .... but detective can be exhausting. .. i tell my h repeatedly i have hope but other than that i cant control him he has to and i also have bo gaurantees. ... one day at time. How far out are you? Maybe y are just feeling triggered or maybe tgat us ur intuition talking .... im a work in progress on this feeling too .... hang in there.

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  20. Anonymous 12:46pm,
    What are the signs you see without evidence? The women on this site have been through it all. We are great detectives as well to see where you can go find evidence. Technology has the betrayed backs. I understand this isn't your first time being betrayed. Why now? Because you are not stupid the second time. Let us help you sort it out intuition, fear or suspicion. Try us out, take us for a spin you are not alone anymore.

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  21. We need to forgive ourselves for not knowing or for brushing it aside. After all, we didn't want to be that overly suspicious partner who immediately jumps to the conclusion that our partner is having an affair. I've been 100% faithful to my husband, but if someone wanted to, they could find "evidence" to use against me. After all, there have been times when I was late without calling home, or I didn't answer my phone (usually because I was driving at the time), or there's a receipt that I can't remember what it's for right away. I would have been hurt if my husband would immediately jump to the conclusion that I was cheating. I wanted to treat him the same way. It's not my fault for trusting him, it's his fault for not being worthy of that trust.

    Nowadays, though, I will hold none of my suspicions back. If I have any uneasy feelings, I will confront him about it (like I wrote about further up the page). Even if I'm 99% sure it's fear talking and not intuition. He lost the right to the benefit of the doubt when he lied to me. Maybe one day he will earn it back, but that day has not arrived yet. He knows and accepts that.

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  22. This morning I noticed that my husband had put his iPad in a drawer next to the bed. Not just in the drawer, but partially under a book. When I left this morning to go to the gym, it was on the coffee table. He was using it when I came home to play a game. He went to the bathroom and to get dressed and took the iPad. Then, he left to go to the store. I found it when I was cleaning up the bedroom and went to put some clutter and loose change in the drawer before the housecleaner came. I left the drawer open enough to see the iPad, and when he came home I was in the bedroom, getting dressed. He looked down at the dresser, at the drawer, started to act like he was going to reach for it, but then stopped and walked away. A little while later, as we were leaving to go to the library to kill time while the housecleaner worked, I suggested he bring his iPad and play his game. He stopped, looked around the living room, then hastily said it was too much, his brain needed a break. He would read instead.

    Okay. This is one of those Fear Vs. Intuition moments for me. Not once, in all these months, has he put his iPad in a drawer. Never. It's always floating around somewhere.
    I want to say something, but I'm ever so sick and tired of being THE PARANOID WIFE. I
    don't want to be this woman. My brain says there is surely a logical explanation for it, but just typing this my heart is ready to beat out of my chest. I opened the iPad and the only window open was his game, but that doesn't mean he didn't clean up his tracks. Add to all of this that he's been brooding and quiet all morning, and he won't talk to me about it, and my head is reeling. I know I have to either ask or let it go, but I don't want to do either. I don't want to have to even think about it anymore.

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    1. How do you feel now- about a day later? If your anxiety hasn't subsided, perhaps you need to talk with him more about it. (It sounds as though maybe you've already tried to talk with him?) Also, try not to think of yourself as paranoid. You've drawn some boundaries, I suspect, and are hyper- alert about anything that looks like those boundaries aren't being honored, and it's not a bad thing to be more alert. I look at it as guarding the marriage. We just have to figure out if our feelings from observations are fear-driven or if something else is going on. Sometimes our husbands can help us figure that out if they're willing and able to help.

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    2. Cactus Flower,
      What is he doing to help you heal? I would hope that you would be able to share with him your anxiety around this. To be able to tell him that his behaviour is making you nervous and that you need to assuage your fears by looking through his iPad (this is why I also think that husband need to provide all passwords/e-mails/etc. so that you can check). The more we check and discover nothing, the more we are able to trust. Without being able to do that, we're left with our fear, which, as you're seeing, grows like mushrooms in the darkness.

      Delete
    3. Well, I finally asked him that night, as we were getting ready for bed, and he said he put it there BECAUSE the housecleaner was coming. I had looked through it and didn't find anything, and he knows I keep check on him daily. I've never found anything that made me suspect he's been unfaithful again, though I have found remnants of old encounters that have been horrible to see. I decided to take his explanation at that and move on. I didn't sleep well though, and had bad dreams all night, then woke up crying.

      After the kids were off to school I broke down and told him about my dreams and crying. He was sorry at first, then got defensive, and then we repeated the cycle of explaining how things had been before, how miserable we both were, and so on. I stood my ground that his choices were not okay, and that while it is understandable that he is defensive about them, he has to take responsibility for them. I won't.

      Anyway...I realized that the biggest problem isn't not trusting him (though I am still on alert and busy checking on him all the time; I do have all the passwords, etc.). I think that it was fear fueled by a deep, unrelenting hurt. I am still so completely devastated. The wound that was slowly healing was reopened when I had the STD testing done a couple of weeks ago (all clear, thankfully). Since then I've been obsessing, replaying, pain shopping (I know...), and picking at the scab when it starts to form. I'm angry. I'm raw. I am utterly terrified.

      We talked for a long time, and I explained how my pain is still overwhelming, and I struggle with how much to share with him and how much to hide. But when I hide it, I turn on myself. I poison myself. He feels like he's working so hard to be a good husband and father, but he can't get a break. He's so happy now, life is so good now! But for me, it's not just about the now, I can accept the now. I love it. It's the past and the hurt I have to get over, and it's not going well.

      It took a long time, but I think he finally understands just how shattering this whole thing was and that I still don't trust anything I see or hear or feel. He finally asked what I wanted him to say and I told him "I'm Sorry," is the best thing he can say. Then, something amazing happened.

      He was holding me while I cried, and he asked for forgiveness, even though he knew I probably didn't mean it. I told him I did forgive him, which I mostly have, and he fell. apart. He absolutely crumbled with gratitude and remorse.
      I've never seen him show that depth of emotion before. Unless he is a psychopath, which I don't think he is, it was a genuine emotional expression. There was no faking it. It was the best think I could have seen. I needed it. I needed to know that he was hurting too-that things weren't so perfect for him. Not because I want him to suffer, but because it makes me angry to think that I'm still drowning in pain and he's happy! He is happy, but still remorseful and ashamed. I told him he has to own his guilt and deal with it, hard at it is.

      The air is much clearer now, and though I'm still hurt and sad, I'm not obsessed anymore. I have no desire to pain shop or replay it all, and I feel much more confident in his honesty and fidelity. I told him that if he ever felt like he used to, or felt the desire to cheat again, I wanted him to leave me instead. I'd rather that than betrayal. Also, he knows that if I am sad or hurt, it's because of the past, not the present.

      So, I think it was fear, not intuition.

      Delete
    4. CF,
      It's amazing how often our spouses need something of a script to help us through this. They're so blinded by their own guilt and shame that they immediately get defensive rather than have to feel it, which is exactly what is NOT helpful to us. To give them the script, for them to know that we just need to hear "I'm sorry..." for as long as we need to hear it, is huge.
      I'm so glad he was able to make himself vulnerable to you so that you could see the depth of his pain too. I don't think most of these guys feel good about what they've done. While we focus on the "but they got to have sex and it was exciting and I was home with the kids..." narrative, as I've said before, the price for that -- the sometimes crippling shame -- isn't worth it, as far as I'm concerned.
      Glad the air is clearer and I hope you'll both keep these lines of communication open. You both want the same thing, which we sometimes forget when we perceive the other as a potential enemy.

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    5. Men have such a fear of breaking down. It's been instilled into most of them since early childhood: real men don't cry. I remember in the wake of D-day, my husband trying to stay strong because I was completely falling apart. He didn't realize that in a way, that made it worse! I felt like he'd done this horrible thing and destroyed our lives, and then he was just carrying on like it was no big deal. One night during a big fight, he broke down and was on the floor sobbing that he couldn't believe he'd done that to me. It broke my heart to see him that way, and yet it was also healing to realize that he realizes this IS a big deal. He's not okay with it.

      I felt suicidal, but so did he. Sometimes, in the midst of my worst pain, I think to myself, "Imagine how I'd feel if this were my fault. Imagine how I'd feel if I was the one who had done this to him." It was so horrifying that I realized as much as it sucks to be the one betrayed, I don't know if I could live with being the betrayer. He's told me that the unfairness of this has been hard for him to live with, it's not just hard for me. No momentary thrill was worth having to live with what he's done, and he says he doesn't think he will feel like he ever actually deserves to be with me.

      Glad you are doing better.

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    6. So true, Gee. Unless they're total sociopaths, a lot of men absolutely loathe themselves once the jig is up and they have to truly face what they've done. That self-loathing, unfortunately, keeps a lot of them from letting themselves really express themselves. It's like they've got the finger in the dike and they fear that if they remove it, they'll be washed away by emotion.
      Sadly, it too often takes such destruction to realize just what they risked.

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  23. Part 1 - I wanted to share what I learned yesterday, two ahh-ha moments. First my husband told me the "why I had an affair" answer. He has been in therapy, reflecting on his impulsive choice, and with clear vision he can look back. He said," it was a male dominance thing and sex". I didn't quite understand what he meant. Our therapist knows us both very well after 20 months so I thought I will wait and ask her. Although it made me squirm, I listened. She said, remember, you were the bread winner, you had a successful career, you were gone a lot, you were busy with everything except him and sex was routine. He felt like a dominant male around her. He suggested she get on disability, they filled out the papers together. He asked her to sit on his lap, she was emotionally upset and cried to him. He gave her money, she took it. He advised her to find other boyfriends(he was trying to get her hooked up with someone so he could exit), she signed up on every dating web site. Whatever he said, she did it. Whatever sorry state she was in, he was there to tell her it was going to be ok. You get the story line here about feeling like a man. Previously, I was too independent, I didn't need him, I didn't expect anything from him or asked for anything. You can see how I reacted to my husband and the difference of how she reacted to my husband. NOW, I ask, I expect, I share, I need, I show my weakness at times and I found my voice. I want to clarify I'm not trying to be like her but I'm free to be myself, be a wife. (not super nurse who can handle it all). Believe it or not I had to learn how to be a wife. I really didn't know, I was screwed up from how I was raised. I had no role models to know what was normal. He has learned how to be husband. I think we are finding the right balance in a relationship. But this does explain the "how could you do this"?

    When it came to sex, he said, she was all over him. He would walk in with a take it or leave it attitude and sex was offered all the time, every time. She was all over him. All of this makes sense to me.

    Pat 2 - Second the psycho-kindergarten teacher drove by our house this week. I asked my therapist "why"? I hope this part helps someone. She said, this woman is an affair person. She doesn't want a one on one affair. She not an affair woman but an affair person. This means she gets a string of men to meet her needs. She lives her life by getting her needs met through having multiple affairs at the same time, this is her way of life. So the holidays are coming up, she doesn't want to be alone, she is trying to get this need met so she drives by in the chance we are separated. If she feels lonely, unloved, bored or any need she completes herself through having affairs. Wow, now this makes sense. You might ask your husband if his OW was seeing other men at the same time. She drives by and I shrug my shoulders and say "so what". She can drive the tires off her white sedan but it we really don't give shit. It really makes her pathetic. This is the first time I have not went ballistic. This was the first time my husband was more upset than me.

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    1. Yay Lynn. That's HUGE. What a milestone for both of you. And I'm sure your a-ha moments will give others the same a-ha.

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  24. This post is amazing! I talked to my cousin (not in detail at all) about my situation, she ended the conversation with "I wish you the best, and You'll know if he's not doing right by you sooner than you think, you'll know in your gut." It was like a lightbulb went off! She's right. The fear is what drives you crazy, gets your mind racing. Before d-day I knew for at least 2 months that something was wrong. It wasn't racing thoughts. It wasn't dissecting his every move. It was a quiet, confident feeling. I almost want to call it a grey cloud, but my intuition deserves a better description lol! When I have a day where my fear is kicking my ass.. I remember her words. Today was a rough day, and then I saw this post, it reminded me of that.

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