Thursday, March 23, 2017

Changing our Minds

"Change is not painful; resistance to change is." 
~Buddha

Raise your hand if you were part of the "if he ever cheats, it's over" club. Yep. Me too. Our culture casts infidelity as unforgivable. I've said it before. Women who leave get a high-five and a "hell yeah" from the sisterhood. Women who stay? Well, if they know about us at all (we tend to keep our choice private), we're viewed as kinda sad. Doormats. After all, cheating is a deal-breaker, right?
And keep your hand raised if, even now that you've decided to stay, even with clear evidence that he's genuinely devastated by what he's done and committed to rebuilding your marriage, you still hear that nagging voice in your head that you're a sucker for staying?
Yeah, me too.
Those messages are powerful. And they're everywhere. Despite the fact that most marriages will experience infidelity (though the cheated-on partner might never find out), our culture holds onto this one-size-fits-all response. Kick him to the curb. Only suckers stay. Or "chumps" in the parlance of a site that often traffics in absolutes.
Thing is, we're the ones who have to live with our choice. Whatever that choice is, we need to own it. And we need to make it based on what's the best thing for us. And, for those of us with kids, it's impossible not to factor in what's best for them too. I refuse to believe that I can ever know what that choice should be for anyone but myself.
That was never more clear to me than the weeks following D-Day. I thought back to all my conviction about other people's marriages. I was so sure about what I would and would not tolerate as I watched other people muddle through. I'd heard the whispers about who was cheating on whom and mentally calculated whether he or she "deserved" it by being nasty, or travelling to much for work, or whatever other ridiculous reason I surmised.
But when I discovered that my own marriage wasn't what I thought it was, it was a pretty short leap to the realization that I didn't have a damn clue what was going on in other people's marriages and I should stop being so sure I did. Gulp. That humility was a hard slap in the face but I needed it.
And yet...I can still judge myself harshly. I suspect you do too.
That voice that says I should have done things differently, should have left, should have made him beg. That voice that says strong women leave. It's a helluva lot quieter than it used to be. But, now and again, I still hear it.
These days, though I talk back. I remind myself that I did the best I could under brutal circumstances. I know, in a way I never did before, the courage it takes to get your feet back under you when betrayal has crippled you. I see, every day on this site, the power of the compassion we show each other and the strength as we each fight our way through the pain.
Changing our minds is an act of courage. If we know differently, we can choose differently. If we learn better, we can do better.
Holding on to those old messages, which were lies even then, keeps us stuck. Giving ourselves permission to change – our minds, our choices, our lives – isn't where the pain lives. Rather the pain arises when we're resisting what we know and instead caving into cultural messages that tell us our worth is in following the script rather than writing our own.

69 comments:

  1. I have a blog about infidelity. It's not been published. It was my outlet to write my feelings because my husband is a minister and for me to have revealed his infidelity would have had ramifications way beyond if he had any other job. So I chose to stay and to believe in what my faith teaches me-that repentance can be real, that prayer can work miracles, and that forgiveness comes to all-no matter how grievous the sin. I love your blog, even though there are times when I don't agree. It has been a lifeline for me as I have suffered through this affair alone and on my own. Thank you for your willingness and ability to put it all out there and to encourage others that their thoughts aren't crazy and that their pain is real.

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    1. Oh my goodness, that "crazy" piece is a huge part of this, isn't it? Took me a long time to realize I was the SANE one.

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    2. Hi anonymous. I'm so sorry you've been dealing with this alone. This site is the one place I can visit and don't feel so lonely because everyone can relate to how I'm feelingl. My own mother is disapproving of my decision to work things out with my husband. I, too, started a blog to capture my writing and share my story. Writing has been such great therapy for me (in addition to also attending therapy by myself and with my husband.) So much of what I feel gets "stuck" inside of me. Sometimes I can't articulate what has triggered me or how I'm feeling exactly. As I write, I tend to sort things out for myself. I see things more clearly and make little "epiphanies" all the time about what's really important. I guess that's the beauty of this site too. We all help and support each other, as we are sorting through all this mess on our own.

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  2. I've been sitting here hitting refresh, desperate for a new post today, so thanks Elle. Your words, as always, hit home. These days, I'm struggling with acceptance of the change: acceptance that this is what my life will be. In the weeks after DDay I was promised a new, healthy husband and a new marriage, and I agreed to stick around to see what that looked like. 18 months later, he is a changed man for the most part. He's done his work, apologized profusely, and changed his mindsets. And yet... It feels anticlimactic. I didn't get any huge, romantic efforts. My requests to be dated, to be made to feel special have taken a backseat to kids and laundry and bills. The changes are there, but they're not how I wanted them. And now, I'm realizing that maybe I have to accept that he did the work and that's what I get--a healthy husband and a good dad to my kids--even if it doesn't come with all of the pretty exterior and fancy bows, I'd hoped. I guess, hard work isn't really sexy or pretty for anyone. For those of you who feel like you've made it to the other side, was there a point where you decided you could accept the life that was in front of you, even if it wasn't perfect? At what point did you feel like enough work had been done that you could comfortably buy back in, even where work still remained to be done? Or is this path we find ourselves on one where there's always one foot in, one foot out? I'm definitely a former member of the "if he ever..."club; now that I've stayed in the face of his cheating I feel like I don't even know what my deal breakers are anymore. He still struggles with porn--can I stay? He still struggles with telling me when he slips up with porn (he does eventually, but sometimes it takes a few days)-- can I stay? What amount of change is enough, when do you know that you're there? Or am I still just falsely living with the idea that there is a destination to this experience, rather than an on-going journey? I still feel so lost....

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    1. New mom
      For me it's been a combination of the things you mention. Seeing the changes my h made in his choices to focus on us as a couple and choose less selfish choices in his spare time. My h makes an occasional romantic night out but he's just as likely too choose to much tv/sports. Good thing for him I enjoy many of the dames ones. I too have stepped up my game if planning some romance by sending him a text requesting Cinderella needs a night out! I try to dress up on those occasions. You're also right about it returning pretty much the way it was, in a comfortable sort of way. Turning point for me was realizing I was lashing out at him rather than tackling some of the tougher issues in our marriage. I think I had three meltdowns that left him shutdown. I didn't want a marriage where I trashed his self esteem over triggers that I have eventually worked through. I found it better to tell him right away about triggers and he became more supportive through those. We are rebuilding our friendship and both of us are working in the marriage we want to spend our future in. One day at a time. Good days, bad days, we decided we're better together and I'm glad I stayed given all the obstacles his ow threw in our paths. Hugs! I know it's hard to be sure if this is enough but only you can decide that!

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    2. New Mom,
      It can be hard, once the dust has finally settled and we feel as if we've moved on to realize...he's still who he is. He hasn't completely transformed into some romantic fantasy. You're dealing with garden-variety marital stuff. Not the wild ride of betrayal.
      But...just because your marriage isn't horrible doesn't mean you have to accept it. Part of rebuilding our marriage after betrayal isn't so we're stuck in something that feels ho-hum, in which our needs and wants are brushed aside. What's the point in that?
      If he's not working to "woo" you, then why not? Can you two have an honest conversation in which you talk about this stuff? Does he feel stupid trying? Is he afraid of screwing it up? What's holding him back? Similarly, have you communicated to him exactly what you need from him rather than hoping he'll guess or pick up clues? Marriage is hard. Marriage after betrayal is really really hard. There are bruised egos and plenty of unexploded mines which can make conversations fraught. But this needs addressing or your resentment is just going to grow. You want his attention. You want to feel as though he values you. You want to know that he's willing to do these special things for you. That's entirely legitimate.
      If you're not in couples counselling perhaps it's time to try it. Like I said, this is garden-variety stuff that most couples deal with at some point. That you have betrayal in your background just makes it more important to talk through so that neither of you falls into unhealthy old patterns.

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    3. New mom, I can relate. We had the working through the pain, then the honeymoon phase where I felt so relieved that it seemed like we were going to work. Between 15-18 months post dday I really struggled. And it was the return to what felt like our old life, the day to day, and it reminded me of how life was during the "affair years". It took me a while to realize what was going on. So we had some very intense and detailed conversations. It was hard for him to understand since he had changed and things were really good with us. I explained how as we settled into daily life that it felt average and a lot like our old marriage. Our marriage was never that bad, of course there were bumps but it was not bad or obvious that he was cheating on me. I also had thought a lot and told him that now that we had recovered that I needed more. Sort of what Elle said above. That being a good person, husband and father was not enough. I needed and wanted more. We talked a lot about what that meant. I have made a major effort since then to tell him when he does something that makes me happy/feel good. Sometimes it is not obvious and it is also nice/good for him to get positive reinforcement.

      We have made an effort to set time aside to talk. We try to anticipate times of stress or areas that could be an issue in advance. Lowering stress overall in our lives helps both of us.

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    4. New Mom,

      Yes, I can totally relate. We are at the ho hum almost 24 months out. In the first year we read "5 Love Languages" by Chapman which really helped us understand what the two of us needed to fill our "Love Tank" It's a great, short book to read. Pretty much common sense, but just the common sense to read and re-read. I've read it many a night for a refresher.

      For what you want now out of your marriage...you own that and certainly express it with your H! More than likely he was unable to express it when he went down the dark path. We deserve this. If there is something that makes you feel good...do it. If anything, it shows your H that you are worth it. Sometimes you need to train them in giving the joy and somehow after the affair it makes more sense to them. Celebrate yourself, celebrate you survived and make a plan to live and embrace joy. Yes, some days it's hard to gather up. I think each day...what is going to bring a smile to me? Helping another, buying myself flowers or just a cup of coffee in the sun! With my kids, I've kinda had to take the back seat due to their needs (college expenses, etc) I feel like I deserve a huge diamond ring and I'm not a materialistic person at all. I just feel I'm owed that after all I've been through. In the end I just need a cheap old ponytail holder around my wrist to say...Yep, you are WORTH it and a beautiful forgiving soul. We deserve a LOT, we put ourselves last as a mom and wife and got blindsided. I have a hard time with all I lost in myself. I really try to think of myself and put me in first place. It's like being on a plane going down...you need to give yourself the oxygen first to be helpful and save others. I just wish all MOMs knew that from the word Go. Don't wait for the plane to go down to realize you're worth it Class 101.

      I've thought over the last few weeks how I'd love to quit my job and open a coffee shop. I've grabbed a cup of coffee and dug deep in this blog for my solace so many mornings. It's been a life saver, a BFF for BWs like no other. My coffee shop..."The Betrayed Bean." A coffee shop where we all can meet up and have a moment of quiet time and warmth of a blanket, comfy chair and lots of sun rays. Maybe we would not even utter a word, but just a grab of a hand or a HUG. Give praise for surviving and give praise for uplifting others.

      xo

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    5. Elle, I agree that some of this is garden-variety, as you put it. But there is still betrayal on-going in the form of his porn usage. He still does it, and hides it. He eventually comes clean, but usually not within our agreed-upon 24 hour timeframe. How long did it take your husband to get the porn usage under control? (Do I remember correctly that that was part of your story as well?) He would like me to be proud of him for the fact that sometimes he's able to stop himself quickly, and for the times he eventually tells me about it, but at 18 months out my reserves for such encouragement are pretty drained. Especially given that I've still yet to receive what I asked for--time, attention, effort. You asked why he doesn't do those things. He says he lets great get in the way of good; he's paralyzed by the idea that everything has to be huge and perfect. My efforts to dissuade him of this are unsuccessful. I've even tried to suggest ideas for dates, but nothing so far other than one dinner. We did a year of counseling, which focused mostly on his porn use and why it's harmful for me, but we're not going anymore right now. I just don't see the use in spending the money when he continues to betray me with porn. Perhaps you're right that we should get back to it though.

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    6. New Mom,
      I hope I didn't sound dismissive with the use of the term "garden-variety". That certainly wasn't my intention. And I'm sorry if I missed the porn usage (there are so many posts that I sometimes read so quickly to get to them all and I miss bits).
      That, to me, changes everything. If he's still lying to you about his porn use, then that's betrayal. Ongoing betrayal. It doesn't matter if it's virtual or skin-on-skin. Cheating is cheating. And if he can't control his porn use and it's (clearly) negatively affecting your marriage and YOU, then this is not at all a "garden-variety" problem. It is porn addiction.
      New Mom, I want you to take responsibility for setting clear boundaries. Think about exactly what you need from him and then make clear what the consequences are if he violates that. Does he move out? Move into the basement? Do you file separation papers? If I were you (and yes, this was part of my story but my husband was already in recovery with a sex addiction counsellor when I found out), I would insist that he seek treatment for porn addiction and attend 12-step groups. If he's not willing to do that, then that's where consequences come in. Consequences aren't to punish him, they're to keep you emotionally safe. If he can't be trusted to keep his commitments to you, then you're not emotionally safe. If he can't be trusted to be honest with you, then you're not emotionally safe. You cannot rebuild a marriage in which you don't feel emotionally safe. It's that simple.
      And I think you're right. Until he gets his porn use under control (or better still, stops entirely), then your marriage is on the back burner. Better that he seek individual treatment for his problem first. Or at the very least, find a 12-step group.

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    7. Heartfelt, your post really spoke to me. New Mom, I hope your h can up his game. After everything you've been through, it is super unfair that he seems to be sliding back into taking your incredible patience and goodwill for granted. As a partner (not his mom) you need and deserve that he treats you as a real person with real feelings.

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    8. Thank you all for your kind and supportive replies. We continue to have the hard conversations. I think he's beginning to see how and why his porn usage is damaging to me. I know I must establish my boundaries and stick to them. Easier said than done, right? I'm still learning.... The women I've found here have been such a source of comfort and strength. Thanks for sharing your stories and insights!! Hugs to all.

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    9. NewMom
      I feel your pain on the porn use! My h and I had a big blow up that he chose to view porn while I was in the bedroom one afternoon thinking about a nap that wouldn't happen. Early post dday. He didn't understand that it felt like cheating all over again! Men just don't understand what their choice to cheat in what ever form they do does to our sense of worth! Until they understand how we're different they don't know how to change their behavior! I'm sure my h still views some porn, but he damn sure doesn't do it when I'm around! My boundaries come before his carnal desires!

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    10. NewMom

      Could you share how you work through your triggers?

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  3. Yes, Yes, Yes!!! I agree and can relate to everything you said. I was never naive but honestly in my circles people never even talked about affairs. I would say they come up more now in coversation but we are just hitting what I would call closer to middle age. So I think these issues are coming up for everyone.

    I question myself all the time. I think am I dumb for still being in this marriage? Is it going to come back to bite me? And a million more critical questions of myself.

    What is ironic is I tell my kids all the time when they are critical of themselves "would you say to one of your friends what you just said to yourself?" And they always say no. I am the same way and I need to tell myself my own advice. It is easier said than done and I know the self doubt and questions are some way of me feeling a little like I am trying to protect myself and keep my guard up.

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    1. Hopeful30,
      Knowing and doing are two different things, aren't they? But knowing is a good start. When you catch yourself, stop. Ask yourself if, knowing what you know today, do you want to be where you are? If the answer most days is "yes", then that's why you stay. No marriage is perfect. Every marriage will have days of "what am I doing here????" And after betrayal, those internal conversations can be brutal.

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  4. I question myself all the time about this stuff. I really like that you said, "resisting what we know and instead caving into cultural messages". That's what it seems like. I know on some level that I'm making the best decision I can from two terrible paths I had the option to travel (Stay with a cheater, or leave a cheater. Neither are great options.) I know I made the decision I can live with for the sake of not just myself but those around me too. I guess if it turns out that my H is not a changed person and he repeats this destruction in my life I will regret my choice and feel shame (misplaced shame, but still will feel it). Why can't I just hold off and feel that shame then? Why do I have to feel it now when things are really looking like they're heading in the right direction? I keep hearing that, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me" statement that Bush botched. The truth is, you feel shame even after being fooled just that one time. That shame is coming from the cultural messages though, and not from what I know is true. At least what is true for ME (which is the only truth I'm ever going to really KNOW.)

    Hopeful 30, I feel the same way about keeping my guard up. I wish I could stop doing that! I call it my "fear of heights." Just when everything seems to be going smoothly, these thoughts creep in to keep me lower to the ground because I hated that fall so much.

    New Moon, I don't know the answer to your question, but I wonder some of the same things. Boundaries were and are the hardest thing for me to establish and defend. I'm better now about just stating to my husband what I need from him and why. We get along much better because of it.

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    1. Ann,
      I think it's that fear -- that if we have to go through this again, then we'll be so full of regret -- that holds us back. On the flip side, I often hear of women who leave who then wonder if they'll regret it if their ex does change his ways and then some new woman will reap the benefits. So we're damned if we do and damned if we don't.
      Which is why we have to focus on making the best choice for us TODAY. If he screws up again, then perhaps we'll make a different choice. But freeing ourselves up to make the best choice for us TODAY is all any of us can ever do. We don't know the future.

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    2. So true. Thanks. Making that choice one day at a time seems more manageable. Like chewing your food before swallowing. Much healthier.

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    3. I'm glad for you, Ann, that you're able to draw boundaries that are respected. I keep trying, to no avail. I guess I have to keep working at it and holding my line.

      Like you, I question myself a lot--despite notable change--because the idea of letting my guard down and getting surprised again is still just so...overwhelming. As Elle said, I try to focus on today, but with 40+ years stretching before my husband and I, it's really hard to have the patience and strength to sit with the unknown. I wish you peace on your journey, Ann!

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  5. After 3 years of struggle have given myself permission to leave. I am not going to do it just yet. But just giving myself the permission and basing it on what is good for me--not basing it on what I think other people think, want, say or need. I never allowed that for myself before.
    Again, it doesn't mean that I what I am going to do. But I stopped myself from "going there" because I was scared of what would happen if I left. And I questioned myself, my reasons and my motives. But now I trust that, for me, leaving is just as legitimate, honest, and loving as working for reconciliation. That either way, it is about putting myself and my deepest integrity first. And that is okay to be equally on the fence about either.

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    1. MBS,
      Absolutely the choice to leave is as legitimate. There is no "right" response to this, which is what I was trying to get at with my post. You need to do what feels right for you. And if planning to leave is that choice, then you've got the full support of the BWC army behind you, rooting you on.
      The ultimately goal for all of us on this site is to help each other heal from betrayal, whatever that looks like. I want each of you to end up whole and healthy and ready to move into the rest of your life with an open, healed heart.

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    2. Elle,
      I am taking your 'decide what is best TODAY' to heart. My H is doing everything I would want for the last 2-3 mos (4 mos out from most recent Dday). Yet, what he did for over a decade (drugs, porn, ruining my reputation with his family, several EA's, 1 PA) was SO damaging to me emotionally that even if he stays an honorable man for the rest of his life I'm not sure that I can ever be happily married or love him enough. Some days I feel like I am doing 'fake it till you make it'.

      MBS,
      Most importantly, I am staying for my kids (no man will ever love my kids as much as their father). Secondarily, because I am the breadwinner I would have to give him 1/2 of everything I worked so hard for and also pay him alimony. Bad laws in my state - no fault divorce, if you are married long enough EVERYTHING is marital property, including your retirement savings (I saved, H didn't). It would be like being betrayed over and over and over again each month to write a check to a man who hurt me more than anyone in the world. And finally, I really don't want to be alone - it will not be easy to find a middle aged man who I am attracted to and doesn't come with significant baggage . So, I am staying put TODAY. In the meantime, I have met with an attorney. I have prepared a file with all the documentation I will need should I decide to leave him (in hopes it will sway the court). I feel more secure that I am prepared to walk away IF at some point I decide that is what is best for me and my kids.

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    3. MBS,
      I love what you said here. Permission to leave. I feel like I have it too. I am not planning to, but that is every bit as legitimate as my working to stay. So many factors to consider and the choice is mine (and yours) every day to make with my head held high and my eyes open.

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    4. Yes, that was abundantly clear in your post. Your words "changing our minds is an act of courage," rings true and clear. Sometimes we are stuck on the one way it has to be. And so many times, we can't make a decision because we are solely worried about external things--especially what others think or how we fear we will be viewed. Sometimes we don't even get the choice. Either way, we have to make some level of peace with it in our own hearts. We have to make that choice our own, even if there are regrets and "what ifs." Again, I am not sure if I am going to leave, but I can't keep resisting what I know is true because there are confusing narratives out in the world. That is what we have to go on when making our decisions.
      Thanks Elle!

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    5. Those "shoulds" (as in, I should be able to deal with this, I should get over this, etc.) get in the way of what is right for us.

      Browneyedgirl, I'm so sorry for all the pain you're in. Are you in individual counselling? There is so much pain from betrayal that even if our husbands become the people we want them to be, we still need to heal ourselves. We don't magically get past all the nasty stuff we were put through just because he suddenly has a change of heart and becomes a decent human being.
      A therapist will help you process all that pain and begin to move past all the resentment. Even if you decide to leave, you don't want to drag that resentment with you.

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    6. I am in IC and (very reluctantly) taking anti-depressants. I don't think anything short of amnesia will help me move past the horror movies in my head. I don't feel resentful. I feel incredibly sad. Our marriage was not perfect, but it was based on years of being in love & amazing shared experiences. Then when adult life came H couldn't cope and sought self-medication. Some of which I knew about and did resent because I repeatedly asked him to stop (porn & drugs). And the rest I had no clue (EA's & 1 PA). I really can't believe he didn't respect me enough to not break my spirit with his actions. Seriously, it would have been better if he had just divorced me over a decade ago. But he was leading a double life - I was a good wife, a good mom, a good physician, a good friend. Now, a decade after the PA there is so much more for me to loose (financially & not likely to find good candidates for a second husband, etc.). I just can't wrap my head around being able to trash someone you loved, married, built a life, raised children with, the person you said was your best friend & the love of your life. I paid H bills when he was unemployed (multiple times), bought him thoughtful gifts, planned our family vacations (I always got us a suite so we could have privacy from the kids), we went on weekend trips alone & had great sex, I hired sitters so we could have dates, I made sacrifices in my career and with my kids for my H (as it should be). We have during those years hundreds of happy memories, smiling photos, beautiful cards he hand wrote in how much he loved me. All the while he was emailing his mother, his cousin's wife (COW) and cyber whores what an awful person I am and how unhappy I made him. H was willing to tear an entire family apart (parents, aunts/uncles, cousins, nieces/nephews). My kids will never have another holiday with his family and they have no idea it's because their father was an adulterer. Now with MC & IC it is evident H had undiagnosed attachment disorder, depression & addiction. H has been clean about 3 mos. Treating me like gold. He has been even better than the man I fell in love with 20 years ago (H was a good guy back then). There just may be too much water under the bridge. I don't know. Time will tell.

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    7. Browneyedgirl, I only recently found this blog, I haven't shared my story yet, and this is my first time posting. What you've said here in response to this post has really struck a chord with me. There are several parallels between our stories, and I find myself feeling like you, a bit ambivalent as to whether this storm can really be weathered. It would be very disruptive right now to split up, and I don't know the laws of my state as to whether as the sole earner in our household I would have to pay to support him. How would that be for insult to injury! I don't want to wreck my kids' childhood by taking them away from their dad. But while there are plenty of things I love about my husband, every time I try to conjure the warm fuzzies of "in love" i just bump nose first into the "but how could he" of the affair. Companionship and friendship-wise, we're relatively okay. Romance-wise... I'm angry, resentful, hurt and honestly disgusted (we are a little over one year out from the whole truth coming out after he lied initially for about a month after I was informed by the husband of the OW about the affair). As someone later in the thread said, I see him differently. I don't know how to change that. Like you said, I don't know how anything short of amnesia will make me forget.

      I'm so grateful to hear in your words someone who seems to have similar thoughts and feelings. Not that I'm pleased that anyone else is going through this hell, but if we both happen to be adrift at sea, it's better in the same boat than alone.

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  6. New Mom, I am 21 months out and I also find myself refreshing this site and hoping for a new post. Why? Because they almost always make me feel good about my choice to stay. I chose to stay because our only daughter was due to deliver her first baby within a week of his disclosure. The first 18 months were so hard and there are many things that still bring me to my knees but I am working very hard to be present in my life now. My husband is present, he is attentive and he is always ready to do whatever I want. Sometimes he surprises me with cards and special times like just before we flew to Maui it was rather cold and dismal at home. He set up our inflatable bed in front of our fireplace and we had a very romantic and passionate event in a warm and cozy room. Honestly I would have never expected him to do that but he now remembers that I love carnations, cards and surprises like that. Does it mean that I don't recall that he had a thing for porn and prostitutes? No, I get triggers daily, especially here in Hawaii where there are many beautiful young Asian women, the kind he paid for sex. Just today he drove me to get my nails done and of course the young woman working on my nails was Asian and beautiful. I started to hyperventilate, my heart raced, I got sweaty and then I reminded myself where I was. I started talking to his woman and found out she is a new immigrant to this country, married a local Hawaiian guy she met at school and has aspirations like all young people. When we were almost done, an older man came out of the back from a massage and it really set me off but I again had to remind myself that my husband does not do that anymore. It took everything I had to banish that thought out of my head before I walked out to text my husband that I was done. I felt light headed and sick to my stomach but I put on my happy face and talked myself down from the ugly ledge. I made this choice to not disrupt my adult children and grandchildren. I am enjoying my older years and I'm doing my best to not dwell on all the Cinderella history I thought I had and hoped to reflect on as the sun set on my life. Now, I just remind myself that he is who he is, he made all those choices along the way without my knowledge and he swears he will never go back there again because he loves living an honest and transparent life. I take it one day at a time. When my daughter was here with her family she finally noticed and commented on the fact that I have new wedding rings. I held my breath and just said that her grandmother left me five loose diamonds and I wanted to have them set in a new band so it was easier to just change the entire setting from yellow to white gold. She accepted that and I just let out my breath. I had one terrible melt down the night we got here and I am bound and determined not to have another one. So far, so good. I belong to this secret club and I am happy to have so many kind and loving women to lean on. Thank you Elle and all the rest of you.

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    1. Oh Beach Girl, It can be so hard, can't it? Navigating the minefields of every day.
      It gets better, I promise. The triggers diminish but I don't think they ever go completely away. Did you talk to your husband about what happened? Sometimes we can use these instances to actually remind ourselves that we are in a new marriage. A better marriage.

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    2. Elle, I so desperately wanted to share my experience with him but I did not trust myself to not fall deeply down that hole. I've been thinking about it so much. I'm not even sure what to say to him or how to bring it up. He has so much shame and pain around his past. I know that he will never forget what he did to me, to us and to our family but I know he is sincere in his desire to do everything in his power to live an honest and transparent life. Should I bring it up to him? I'm feeling stronger now but thinking I need to wait another couple of days to make sure I am on solid emotional ground. Ironically, this afternoon he told me he did not particularly like the color of my nails and I agreed that they were not my favorite either. Weird but I ignored that opportunity to bring it up. I don't want to hurt him but I wonder if I hurt myself by not sharing what happened to me. Thoughts?

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    3. Beach Girl, as I read your post I could feel those same triggering feelings creeping up in me. I really relate to how and why those things are triggering and how difficult it is to keep your composure in those moments. The woman my husband cheated with was heavily tattooed; now, anytime I see a girl who looks like her--even my long-time friends and stylists--I have to really talk myself out of those dark places. I'm sending you big hugs and hoping that the rest of your vacation was restful and trigger-free. Thanks for the message.

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  7. Thank you Elle, for yet another spot on essay AND using one of my all time favorite quotes. It does not mean that i LOVE the quote, it means it is one I refer to all the time. Change is not easy--resisting the change is all the more brutal.

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  8. This is my first time writing although I have spent countless hours reading this blog. I just wanted to say thank you for always putting to words what often can not. I found out 2 plus years ago that my husband had been cheating on me. I have amazing friends that were there for me but didn't truly understand what I was going through. How could they? Fortunately the had not been through this hell. Your words saved me then and they still do now. We are working very hard to save our marriage and it is truly stronger than ever but I still have many doubts. I suppose time will tell. I jus wanted to let you know how through this blog I was able to feel normal and less alone. Thank you a thousand times for that.

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    1. RJ,
      Thank you for this. I'm so glad you stepped out of the shadows to post this. That's exactly why I created this blog. The loneliness is excruciating. I hated feeling so alone. I wish we had some sort of secret signal to alert others in the same situation to our pain.
      Keep reading and trust that, when the time is right, we'll welcome your story

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  9. I love this so much. I am also a former member of the "I'll leave his ass" club. And here I am... staying in my marriage when I swore up and down that I would leave. Part of me feels like such a fraud. And I can relate to all the other women about fear of the what ifs. What if he does it again... what will I do then? From there it seems to spiral out of control. I need to try to remember at these times to be kind to myself. And to focus on the now versus the past or present. Which as ALL of you know is a heck of a lot easier said than done.

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    1. Those "what-ifs" are paralyzing, KatieP. Thing is, none of us knows what the future has in store. But because our worst-case scenario has played out, it looms large as a "what if it happens again." And that's where our "next right step" philosophy fits in. None of us can predict what's going to happen but we can offer an educated guess about what our NEXT step should be. Not the one after that, or the one after that. The next one. That might be an appointment with a divorce lawyer. It might be a visit to a yoga studio. It might be applying for a new job in anticipation of making enough money to leave. Or it might be healing ourselves the best we can while we give our partners the chance to become better partners to us. There is no shame is second chances when we're respecting ourselves. This isn't about respecting ourselves retroactively. We can't fault ourselves for not knowing what we didn't know. What we can do is insist upon respect now. Insist upon honesty and transparency. We can implement clear boundaries. That's self-respect. That's courage. That's strength.
      WE all fall down that rabbit hole now and again -- the what ifs take over. But be aware of it. And realize that it's fear speaking. You will get through this. You know what you need to stay in this marriage. Have something of an Exit Plan ready in case it does happen again so that you don't have to think -- you'll simply follow through with your plan to leave or kick him out or whatever it is.
      It takes practice, KatieP. Be gentle with yourself.

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  10. Many of my early counseling sessions were centered around this very issue! This is my third marriage. The first two I found myself in emotionally abusive relationships and fought my way out, leaving proudly. Then I thought I finally found the one who loved me gently and would never hurt me, especially knowing what I had been through. There I was...the devastation larger then any of what I went through with the first two. Yet I stay????? How could I disrespect myself so much by staying and taking it? I have to admit the only reason at first was that I couldn't put my kids through another breakup. Then I would sit there in disgust of myself. In disgust that I was letting myself be a doormat. Here...break my heart...humiliate me...disrespect our family and us...but let me reward you by staying..... I still fight this every day. And I also believe it's still a huge part of why I struggle accepting what is done is done, and then trying to move forward because I am still stuck here wanting/needing to stand up for myself and fight for my dignity. How do you ever just reach a place of release??

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    1. FLAG,
      My mom said something to me early on that really helped me with this. Like you, I thought I'd married someone "safe" after a series of pretty crappy relationships. I was devastated that I'd been so wrong. "How could he have done this?" I wailed to my mom. "He was supposed to love me." She responded with this: "Perhaps he loved you the best he could. And now that he's learning better, he can love you better."
      It stopped me cold because I think she was exactly right. My husband didn't cheat to hurt me. He cheated because he was a hurt person. He was as baffled by what he was doing as I was. Only when he was able to heal himself was he able to love me in a healthy way.

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  11. I kicked my h out the day I found out. Threw all of his clothes in the front yard and sold all of his tools. I also flushed his medication down the toilet, so that there was no trace of him in my house. He came home the next day, with my last paycheck from the restaurant, asking for forgiveness and wanting to keep his family together, sitting at the table crying. He said that he didn't understand what was going on in his mind. He wasn't sure what or how it all happened. All I knew was that my life the day before had changed. I wondered how I was going to except this change when my youngest daughter considered her father a pervert. I had always thought of our marriage as a really good one. I had no idea what he was going through in his mind. We have 2 beautiful girls and at that time a new granddaughter who we both loved so much. I never could imagine my h doing this to me when he hated it when other men did it to there wives. One of our friends who cheated on his wife said that he couldn't even look at my h when they came over to see if I was ok. My h was upstairs sleeping at that time. I feel that I made the right decision letting him come home. Even after he slept with her again and then tried to end his life because of the pain he caused me. We have healed together through this change in our lives and we both feel that we have come out stronger. I am not sure if I am totally whole but I feel healthier and can open up about what we went through with this woman and her friends. I don't hurt anymore and someone suggested that I write a book about what we dealt with working for this group of people. There is so much I haven't shared on here. I still try to wrap my head around why they thought it was important to slip something in his coffee and why they used sleep deprivation as a way to control him. What was so special in their eyes about him? I'll never know. I find that I try not to judge people as much anymore. That my healing comes first and came with change from both of us.

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    1. Wow, Anonymous. You are clearly an incredibly compassionate open-hearted person. Your husband is lucky in so many ways.

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  12. It's been almost 2 years since my DDAY. The cheating began when my son was a baby, lasted 3 years and the other woman didn't know he was still married. Master liar, I never suspected. Our marriage was done immediately, he was unwilling to put in the work. He threw in the towel years ago and lived on the excitement of how we was going to get away with the next meeting. I have not met anyone else, because I am bitter and there is no one to date anyhow. I think most men are assholes because I envision the worst. I look at happy couples and wonder when he will cheat or if he is already cheating. I look at pregnant women and think, just you wait. Very unhealthy. How do I turn it around!? This is not my natural state. I am wondering for the women who are staying in your marriages, how will you ever trust him enough to be happy? I can't imagine the pain you are going through to STAY in the marriage. It takes such a toll. If I ever meet someone, how do you trust that he's not cheating on the side? We've been lied to over and over before, how do you trust your own judgement? How am I ever going to be in a healthy relationship after such trauma?

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    1. Anon My answer to your question is we can only really ever trust ourselves.. whether we choose to stay or leave in the wake of betrayal is just the start of the healing process and I imagine there's as much healing to do for those of us who decide to leave.. I think a counsellor would help you figure out what feels safe for you, and if that means being on your own then so be it, but if you are wanting to enter into another relationship in the future you need to trust yourself and your decisions.. of course there will be times when you have your suspicions or a trigger that takes you back to d day I have them a lot. It's more about me than him.. no one is free from betrayal it can leave its mark on anyone one of us but those who have been there will know that if it happens again as it did me I will be ok, I survived still breathing and dare I say still living in the moment mostly positive.. my h will never take that away from me..

      I hope you find a good counsellor to help you with some of these fears and trust that you will be ok xxx

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    2. Anonymous,
      I love your statement that this is not your "natural state". I feel that way a lot of the time too. That this was never supposed to happen to me. That this is somehow not my real story. Then I take it in, own it, and try my best to keep moving. To answer your questions about how we will ever trust enough to be happy (as a wife currently choosing to stay), I can say I have no idea. I don't know how any of us are doing it, but we are. Somehow between radical self-care, counseling (individual and couples), lots of exercise, many deep and painful conversations with our husbands... most of us are managing to be not the kind of happy we were before, but a more solid, eyes-open, brave kind of happy. It's maybe not as certain and stable of a feeling as we had before (because all of us now know that so many things are out of our control), but it feels more real, more true, and deeper than blind trust. I think a lot of us are afraid to be happy at certain points in this journey because it hurt so much to be wrong. I know I will catch myself trying to keep myself unhappy sometimes because it was such a shock to my system on D day. Logically it makes sense, but it robs me of the time I have left to live. It feels like skydiving sometimes. If I can jump out and let go, the experience is actually not as dreadful as I think it is standing there staring down and thinking about it (trusting. letting myself trust I mean). As for how you will ever trust that a new love is not cheating on the side? You will likely always wonder and worry some. There is no way back to the same sense of total security you had before for any of us. But the truth is that that sense you had of being totally safe was not real in the first place. This is at the heart of why it is so hard to trust your own judgement again. This takes a lot of time and work that I'm still putting in. I have to be kind to myself and take things one day at a time. I have to ask questions of my H when I have them. I have to lay out the facts to myself from time-to-time and remind myself that I am making my choices with the information I have today and give myself permission to make a different choice tomorrow if my information changes. I have to remind myself of my worth all the time. My worth outside of my relationships. The part of me that belongs to me and can't be taken by anyone who hurts me.

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    3. Anonymous, I agree with the others that this is an inside job. Your husband showed you that HE couldn't be trusted. That doesn't mean that NO-ONE can be trusted. But it begins with healing yourself. I'm so sorry for what he did to you. And there's plenty of evidence that betrayal can create post-trauma symptoms, which is what you describe. Where the world feels unsafe.
      Please find a therapist who can help you with this. There are certain trauma therapies, such as yoga and EMDR (which seems really weird but is incredibly effective), that will work wonders.
      Give yourself this gift. You deserve to feel better, to be restored to your "natural state". What's more, you don't want your son to feel part of a population of men who can't be trusted.
      I hope you'll do this for yourself. And I hope you'll let us know how you're doing.

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  13. Wow, this post appeared at the perfect time for me-prompting only my second reply. I have tried so hard in my life to live up to others expectations...the good daughter, good teacher, good mother and good wife. No decision I made felt right with the chaotic swirl around me after d day. I felt weak in the eyes of the friends I knew for staying...I felt cruel and unsupportive to my shamed spouse for thinking of leaving. Even three years out, I struggle with whether the decision to stay (with no children still at home) was truly in my best interest or made to continue the role of the good wife. I am just now seeking counseling to help me move on-and address my needs-instead of blindly choosing what I think works best for others around me. Elle, thank you for your timely post. It was good to read for my mind and my heart.

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    1. Anonymous,
      It can be so hard to listen to our own small still voice when the voices around us are so loud. I'm glad you've sought help to get clear on what feels right for you. It sounds as if you've got a lifetime of conditioning of being the "good" girl to de-program yourself. I'm so glad you felt comfortable chiming in with your thoughts.

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  14. This is one of the richest posts and collection of comments I've read on this amazing blogsite. So many of your thoughts and comments here really resonate with me. I don't know how things are going to turn out for me. Maybe my h won't actually give me the option.

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    1. H Selkie, Yes, the post does seem to have struck a chord!

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  15. Wow, so much of this speaks to me. And I'm finding so much comfort in reading everyone's responses. I needed this today. Just like everyone else, I was also a member of the "If he ever cheats, it's over" club. In fact, upon discovering his long-standing affair, I kicked my husband out of our house within the hour. If I would have listened to my mother, the locks on the house would have been changed and a divorce lawyer would have been hired by the end of the week. But once the dust settled from that initial explosion, things weren't so clear. I got some better advice (from someone other than my mother) who told me that I didn't need to make any definitive decisions about anything at the moment... just take on things one at time. As a result, my husband and I landed in therapy pretty quickly and he moved back in about 2 months later. So as it turns out, I'm not a member of the "If he ever cheats, it's over" club. It's been a little over a year for me since D-day. My husband dropped his other woman in an instant and we have been working like hell to save our marriage since. We also have a now 3 year old little boy. I agree with Elle... when you have kids, it's impossible not to factor in what's best for them too. There are some days in which I feel so confident about my decision. My husband and I seem to be defying odds by overcoming what most view as impossible. I know how much we love each other. I see our beautiful son and family. I can see how strong I am, how compassionate, and gracious I can be. But there are SO many days in which I still find myself depressed that my "happily ever after" isn't what I "thought" it would look like. But let's face it, how many things in life actually turn out the way you "think" they will? In my experience, not very many. This is also something that I try to remind myself when I catch myself comparing my marriage/life to others. Just like Elle said, none of us has a damn clue about what's actually going on in the marriages/lives of others and it doesn't really matter anyway. The only marriage/life I need to be concerned with is my own right now. I also try to remind myself that it has only been a year for me. And it still hurts, dammit. I wish it didn't, but it does. What my husband did to me was horrible. But I also understand now that what he did to himself was just as bad, if not worse. We share this pain. I would give anything to snap my fingers, erase this all from our memories, and feel no more pain. But this happened. It is a part of our story. It's no fairy tale, but it's our story and there's still a lot of love here. When I am able to accept/own these things, that is when I feel best about my decision. Like Buddha's quote says, it's not the change that is painful. It is the resistance that is painful. When I dwell on what happened and how things didn't turn out the way I "thought" they would, instead of moving forward with the marriage that I have now, I am only causing more pain for myself. I think I just made a little revelation there for myself. These are all things that I've been struggling with lately. Writing certainly seems to help. Thanks to everyone for their support and kind words on this site. I find a lot of strength in your words!

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    1. Call Me Kate, It took me a whole lot longer than a year for it to stop hurting. Betrayal is excruciating. It's such a primal wound -- goes to the heart of our sense of who we are, what we trusted, our value. There are, of course, the cultural messages that women who get cheated on somehow deserved it -- they got old, they got fat, they got shrill. And the misconception that affairs are titillating and romantic. It all adds up to a whole lot of stuff to move past.
      And, as you note, even those of us who manage to rebuild our marriages don't end up with "happily ever after", which is a bullshit story most of us have been sold since childhood. There are no perfect marriages. There are no perfect people. The best we can hope for is to wake up with someone we want beside us. And then hope for the same the next day. And the day after that. My husband just left for a week's trip and, though we've been snappy with each other lately, I feel an ache at his absence. That's worth something to me. He's my best friend. But it took us a lot of work to get here.

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  16. Too Young for thisMarch 26, 2017 at 4:27 PM

    Yes, yes, a thousand times YES.

    I find myself thinking quite often that I wish I would have chosen more drastic consequences after DDay (like kicking him out). Like I wish I would have made him suffer more than he did/is, and dwell on it for too long almost like I am wanting to feel that raw pain again. We still have our ups and downs of course (only 5 months out), but even on great days i can get hit by this feeling of wanting to be angry and I hate that self-sabatoging I do.

    At least I am able to process things better and recognize what is happening sometimes, and cut it off before I cause a huge unnecessary fight. (Thanks, therapy!)

    I just love coming here to read when times like that hit me, and I can usually calm down appreciate how far we've come <3

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    1. Too Young,
      That impulse to "punish" is powerful, isn't it? But I think it often backfires. People who cheat (not all, but many) are generally so shame-filled and self-loathing that "punishing" them is simply more of what they think they deserve. It's like that old adage: Our kids need us to love them the most when they're at their most unlovable. Our husbands aren't children, of course. And there are consequences to our actions that adults have to accept. I just don't think arbitrary punishment that stems from a desire to punish leads us where we want to go and ends up feeling hollow. You responded in the way that you did...and now that you are processing things better and handling things better, you're no doubt a healthier person capable of insisting on a healthier relationship.

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  17. Anon who is almost 2 months since D-Day. First up, are you in any sort of therapy? That will help since time alone is moving very slowly doing it's job for you.

    I stay because my H was buying his way into people's beds. I know that sounds bizarre and I know that for others that would be a deal breaker. However, for me, originally, sleeping with ANYONE else was a deal breaker--yet here I am.

    In all the ways and times that I found out he hurt me, what hurt the most was the ONE person who i had met. The one person who knew I existed (he lied to every other one of them) After he had paid her on numerous occasions, (because she was a bonafide whore--they all were) he started to develop an emotional attachment to her. He thought they were "friends" and as god is my witness, he thought that one day we could ALL be friends. I can't make this shit up.

    But it was his emotional attachment to her that stuck with me the most.

    I stay because I now KNOW that if I could not trust him, my best friend and partner for 17 years, I don't believe I would ever trust anyone again, and in all honestly, probably never should have. It never ever crossed my mind to check his phone bill, his odometer, his computer, nothing. You know the feeling of being floored. I was floored. So I dont trust anyone like that anymore...and I'm not bitter. It's not a daily thought, it's just reality. I think that I would take my hurt right into another relationship and project my thoughts and experiences onto someone else and that would not be fair.

    Plus my odds with someone new are the same as staying. About 50 percent of men cheat. I'd probably choose another or at least fear I had chosen another cheater.

    For me, for now (3.3 years from d-day 1 and 9 months out from D-day 2) i have chosen, and he has chosen to work on this relationship, for real this time. If he wants to leave though, I would not fight for him, despite how much i love him, and if he does not want to continue to fight for me, I am happy to show him the door again.

    Like you anon, I could not go in public with him for the first few months after d-day one without projecting and often crying. I looked at happy couples and kept thinking "you just wait" or "she is happy and young and cute and carefree because HER partner has not cheated on her" I compared my relationship to EVERYONE i saw, knowing no backstory.

    I promise you, the people who saw US, a happy couple at the beach today, had no way of knowing what we have been through. You would never know how shattered I was for all of 2014 and a damn good part of 2016. Then again, he was too. He was shattered a lot longer than I was and paying his own price in a different way. His pain, sorry, could not TOUCH my pain. But now? It's healing. It's just work and healing. First the focus was on "us" since that didnt 'take' for him, I worked on myself, he worked on himself and now we are working together on us again, while continuing on ourselves separately.

    Will it work out? I don't know. What I do know now is BOUNDARIES. I put them in place in 2014 and he knew what they were. if he does "this", (cheat) I will do "that" (kick his ass out--and i did)

    If it happens again, he's out again, for good.

    Who knew that I actually had to have boundaries in place with someone that I loved so much. But I do, and I will enforce them. Like MBS I have given my self permission to leave, to be alone. Does not mean I will, but it is now an option. Hugs to you.

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    1. Steam, honestly, I always look for your posts, every single day. My husband had a brief affair when our oldest son was an infant. He developed and refined his other bad habit/addiction to strip clubs and porn over the years until 2008 when he paid for sex once or twice a year until he confessed to me in June 2015. Although some people think prostitutes are "better" and EA, this just disgusts and disappoints me. Intellectually I think I "get" his addiction given that I now know the truth about his early life and history. What has helped you deal with your husband's transactional sex? Mine always says, "it is and was disgusting, I hated myself and wanted to die, it was repulsive, etc" It repulses me too. We are 66, married for 37 years and when I find and dive down the rabbit hole I think, "Wow, when I get depressed, I cry and when you get depressed you pay a young girl for sex?" WTF? I'm always grappling with ways to just move one. I know I need to do this. I know but knowing and doing are difficult at times. He knows that he only gets this one chance. He is doing great as far as I can tell and we do great as long as I don't get a trigger. Elle's new post was written for me but I would love your feedback as the spouse of a whore hound on how you move through and navigate your life. I agree that any other man I might ever consider dating could hurt me like this and I stay for a lot of reasons including our adult kids and grandkids who adore my husband. They believe he walks on water and would be crushed if they knew.

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    2. I love your posts too Steam. You always have such a beautiful way of sharing your experience that all of us can relate to. And you're such an incredible soul. I hate that you've been going through this but am awed at the strength with which you're handling it.

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    3. Thank you Steam, you could have written that for so many of us.

      My H's cheating was 99% porn & cyber sex. 1.5 times he had actual sex (ED is the 0.5 - lol). H continued to email that COW intermittently for 4 years from his work account. And I too knew her (family member). The emotional attachment is what bothers me the most as well. If he never betrays me again yet I leave him for the past, it will be because 7 years after he ended the A without my knowing it ever happened (which is when I had my Dday) I asked him if he had feelings for her and I learned that for some undefined part of those 4 years H 'thought he loved her' - why? because COW's emails 'spoke his love language'. 7 years later & he thought COW was 'someone he could have had a future with'. 7 years later H couldn't find anything negative to tell me about the COW (mostly because he knew virtually nothing about her besides she was unhappily married and sexually overt).

      So, I too, after a 21 year relationship (18 year marriage) that I was 100% committed to, am prepared to walk away from someone I love because I finally have boundaries.

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  18. Fragments of HopeMarch 27, 2017 at 8:49 AM

    Hi, I just wanted to run something by all of you. At the moment my husband is under severe work pressure (again), this was an ongoing bugbear down through the years, like you've said Elle, work always seemed to come first ahead of family. Now, I've lost the ability to be sympathetic. So when he announced a sudden board meeting was to interrupt a pre-arrangement for us both to go to our son's school meeting (this is the son that went back to school recently after 2 years old) I did not take it well. So I'm in a bad mood. As it turns out, he COULD change the time of the meeting. Next day he has his end of term play (has taken up acting). I couldn't make it to the play and felt bad. Main point is that after the affair we had an agreement that he should contact me to give an estimate of return time if he goes out. So he goes out to post play drinks and tells me he is there at 10pm. Then nothing. He returns at 3.30am in a taxi. This exact incident has happened three times. We have been through it. We have agreed on him checking in but for the third time (over a couple of years) he has not fulfilled the agreement. So I tell him what I need to recover 1) family focus 2) this checking in agreement and he goes against both (but of course he is ultra stressed - the work thing IS a biggie the company may close - but it's part of an ongoing drama we've all had to put up with over the last months. So he violates a boundary. So I'm thinking this sets me back, undermines the relationship and disrespects my agreement to stay and repair and disrespects me. So how do I look at it? All I can think of is consequences. Like Steam says above if this, then that, more cheating then it's over but the consequence of this, my faith shaken, my ability to relax into a loving relationship put on hold. We've had a poor apology, slightly passive and "oh I got carried away", some conversation and a promise of more but no real reparation, he just wants things to go back to being nice, he tries to hug me but I feel angry and want to pull away. I feel like I'm nit picking and know that he carries a great stress and responsibility right now. I feel like saying, deal with the work thing and we are friendly but not acting as a couple until you have the opportunity and headspace to really address this. Or am I nitpicking. I'm 3 years out (but a d-day 2 9 months after) and I want to feel better than this, hate wasting my life in anger and sadness. I do focus on the positives of life but things were not great in the relationship so there's masses of work to do on it and there have been other life crises getting the way. Should I let these things go (but I don't want to feel a fool once more), what should the consequence be for one of these more everyday violations of boundaries?

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    1. Fragments. I do not think you are nitpicking at all. It is a huge deal when any boundary is violated. I understand how you feel. We had major similar issues since my husband was used to going out and honestly his "deserving" the guy time or going out time because of his work stress and everything he provided us really allowed for this affair and the mentality that led to the affairs in my mind. Both his affairs were sporadic so no way I would have figured it out and none of his friends even know.

      One thing we did was we have broken down the boundaries to smaller pieces so there are multiple markers or milestones. My husband has to discuss with me before he goes out if he can, he has to tell me where, with who, when he is going. If any plans change related to any of that he needs to tell me immediately. We discuss how much he will drink at all and what time he plans to be home. If they change locations I need to be told.

      He did slip up at first a couple times not letting me know they had switched spots. We did work through this. Honestly he had operated a certain way for 25 years we have been together and now it was changing. I was sensitive to that but I was also demanding that I was not willing to stay in a marriage where he could not follow basic rules and requests. I honestly told him our preteens can follow these expectations and if they don't they would have consequences. My therapist says all of this is legitimate since he gave up this trusting freedom the day he decided to cheat on me and our marriage. At first I felt like his mom or a parent but in the end if he is to leave the house without me and especially be in social situations with friends (where these ow met him) then I need to feel safe. I explained this to him over and over until he got it. At first he was defensive but pretty quickly after I think two violations and me being so upset and furious he understood. In his mind he said he knew he was doing nothing wrong. Well he grew to understand that that was fine but it was more about how I feel and making me feel safe in our marriage. He does not know about the find my phone app so I will admit I do use that. I check up on him when he goes out to see if he is where he says he is. So far except the two times early on within the first 6 months after dday he has been where he says. He is clueless with technology so I do utilize that.

      So I don't have an answer as to consequence. We had some major heart to heart discussions and he finally did understand it. I think also explaining how when he acts this way coming home in a taxi late after no communication how that can make you feel after what he did. I tried to help him understand how deep the pain was and how easily it can be triggered. In the end it is up to him to prove to you he can be trusted. I know it helped my husband to look at everything from my side. He said following the precise boundaries has made it easier for him and also he enjoys his time with friends more. They have really all become habits now for him which is nice.

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    2. Fragments,
      Two glaring things: 1, boundaries aren't any good if there aren't clear consequences for violating them. 2, you have a ton of sympathy for his "work stress" but very little for your own situation.
      I'm sorry if he's stressed but he needs to deal with that like a grown-up, not by expecting you to disrespect yourself and your boundaries. I suspect this has been a long-time dynamic in your relationship. He does what he wants, offers up excuses why you shouldn't be mad at him for doing what he wants and you feels confused because you're resentful but don't feel like you have a right to be.
      That needs to change.
      Get clear on what you need from him. Communicate that. And then figure out what happens when he violates that. If you need to hear from him about what time he's going to be home and then he doesn't tell you, what feels like a reasonable response to that? Frankly, it's a tough one because he's not a child (even if he's acting like an errant teenager). He's telling you, by not letting you know about his time home, that what you need doesn't matter enough to him to do it. What about locking the door when you go to bed? What about telling him to sleep on the couch? I'm having a hard time with this one because it feels like basic disrespect and you can't "make" someone respect you. Are you two in therapy? If the whole idea post-betrayal is to rebuild a relationship, it takes two people willing to put the marriage first, to really respect each other. Him being out until the wee hours doesn't seem like that to me. H'mmm...what do others think?

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    3. Respect/consideration
      These two boundaries were drilled into my h post dday! For months I explained my need to know when he left work. This was a major trigger for me in those early months as his cow made sure I knew he came to her apartment just two weeks prior to dday! He told me the details, he stopped by to connect her cable, she tried to kiss him and he rejected her saying no it's over and we are not doing this anymore. He had spent two plus years trying to end his affair, she wouldn't let him and she used emotional blackmail, the threat of telling me, to keep him coming back to her. So yep, I had to have that one boundary and so far, I get a text if he's going to be late, stuck in traffic, as well as on the way. He understands how necessary for me this is and now it's just a habit!

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    4. Fragments of HopeMarch 30, 2017 at 2:43 AM

      Thanks for the further responses to my dilemma, you sum it up well Elle, I'm good at seeing all sides so I feel bad about making a point. Funny what you suggested, I was going to put the double lock on the front door so he'd have to knock, instead, my daughter was staying at her cousin's so I went and slept in her room instead. I thought he might wonder where I was but he just assumed I was in another room and went straight to sleep. He always texts on the way home from work now. He doesn't go out late very often (this early hours incident three times in the last year and a half) but at a point he gets carried away and then his phone runs out of charge (this is true, I checked but there are devices for keeping them topped up.) We aren't in therapy, looks like his company is closing so right now there is no cash. I do feel we need some help when we can though. I said it would mean we couldn't act as if in a relationship for a while till he could give it the attention it deserved but once I stop being mad I felt closer. I need to check in here to ensure I can figure out if he is doing all he can, he is doing a lot but he also has a tendency to coast if he can get away with it.

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  19. Fragments of hope. This is a deal my h and I have. We have an app called "find friends" on our phones. And I do it not to catch him cheating but for my peace of mind that he is not. Now, in 2015 he figured out that if he forwarded his calls to a secret phone and left his iPhone where it should be I would be none the wiser. But eventually he slipped up. Offer this tracker up under the pretense of it worrying all the time. For YOUR Peace of mind. Sorry. He owes you that. You can see each other and ease your mind. It's used ALL the time by friends and people who care about each other. I use it NOT to catch my H doing something. I use it so I know for the most part that he is ok and thus I am ok with him. It might sound juvenile. But it is what it is. At least ask. And if he has a fit. Maybe it's something deeper. I don't think you're nitpicking. To have a guy who said he'd be home at 10 get home at 3 without explanation is not cool on a normal basis. Let alone in one that involved cheating. Did you call him when he didn't show? I have great hesitation in calling to ask "are you ok?" And I have no clue why. I'll do it now,but still don't like to. We had a tracker in the car for long distance travel before any of this happened I've had half a mind to activate it again but it's bright orange and sits on the dash. So it would not be very stealth. . Lol. I have told my H I can't stop him from cheating. But if he does cheat I want it to be DIFFICULT. difficult enough to slow him down so he has to think through what he's doing and remember what that did to me.

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  20. Fragments of HopeMarch 28, 2017 at 2:11 AM

    Thanks Hopeful and Steam for your responses. In this particular case I was happy enough that I knew what he was doing and who he was with, it was just that he had violated our agreement to inform, then because he has this huge work stress and has admitted that a trigger incident and the other things I mentioned above really have not been handled properly. I said that it looked like he can't handle stuff right now but that that also meant I couldn't be relaxed in the relationship. That I would step back to let him deal with this work crisis but that the rebuilding of the relationship will have to be put first and major reparation work done to compensate as soon as this work thing is over. We had a good in depth talk last night but I don't want to be like a parent (good analogy about the teenager Hopeful) and having to pull him up on this stuff but I will insist that some proper thoughtful work is put in as soon as possible. I agree Steam that it is important to make them stop and think and be thoughtful and aware, no excuses!

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  21. I don't know how all of you felt but, I saw my husband differently. After almost 19 months I still see him that way. It's not that I don't love him and try hard at our marriage and he tries so hard too. I just wish that I had the feelings for him that I did before this whole mess came into our lives. I won't leave him over this because of our daughter and the remorse that he shows me. How do you get that feeling back or is it something I am going to have to live with and change on my part. I do love him and want things to work out. He had mentioned that after it all came to head that he just wanted things back to the way they were between us. We had a really good marriage. Maybe I just over think everything.

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    1. Anonymous, I think most of us feel that way. I can't speak for everyone else, but feel like you for sure. I too am fully participating in all the marriage recovery efforts, but I am no longer 100% committed and I don't love him as much as I used to. Some days I feel like I do really love him and others I feel like 'fake it till you make it' for the kids. IDK if I will ever get it back so I am just taking it 1 day at a time. I've also come to learn that H didn't truly love me for over a decade, and at the time although we weren't perfectly happy, I thought he did LOVE me - over a decade. Now the shoe is on the other foot - H is in love with me again and I'm not so sure about my feelings for him.

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    2. Anonymous, I also see my husband differently now. It will never be the same or like it was for those first 35 years. He is not the man I thought he was. I am now learning about the man he is and the child he was that helped lead him down the path he chose. I am committed to my marriage and recovery. Initially it was for our adult kids and grandkids but after 21 months I am now really looking at this for me and us. I know it will never be the same for me and I don't have a clue what anything meant to him over the years. I do know that as he slipped deeper into his addiction and pain, he hated himself and felt hopeless. Looking at him from the outside and seeing all of his accomplishments in life you would never think that he had such negative feelings about his life. Elle's new post about talking about the hard things has helped us have a couple of good conversations but right now, 21 months out, I do not feel the same way I use to and I still have a little part of my heart reserved for the strength I may need to go my own way. That is what a reserve fund is for, right? I love this man and he hurt me deeply but I clearly see that he hurt himself far worse than he hurt me if you can even imagine that. He has to live with himself, the reality of his life choices and he also has to live with me and see what all of those choices did to me and us. Peace and love

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    3. I think that I had him on a very high pedestal. He made the comment to the OW how he didn't know how the whole thing started. That it wasn't anything that he ever wanted and she replied that she had planned everything and brushed it off like it was nothing. We had a very long talk the other night about this whole mess and I found out things that made more sense now then they did 19 months ago. It was a conversation we should have had then. This is something that I have to change in me to feel that deep love again. I so appreciate the support from everyone here. Thank you all.

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  22. This touched me tonight. I am new here, been reading off and on a few weeks. So many words are helping. Sometimes I feel like a fool for not kicking my husband out after dday. He had a long term emotional affair with a coworker. Even though we di decide together he would not leave his job (and she has not left either) it is a struggle. I stugglr to believe what he says is truth, even when he has donr everything he said he would do. It is hard and yet when i sit down and factor the cost of leaving against the cost of staying I still feel staying is where I need to be. I need to believe in myself, in who I am and who I want to be, believe I am making the best choices I can for me, for my marriage, for my kids, even when the pain is still so great one year out. Some things i just can't forget no matter how hard I try. Thanks for helping me feel less alone.

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