Friday, April 7, 2017

Do you need to be "reasonable" after betrayal?

There was a conversation on this site in one of the threads about what's "reasonable" for us to expect of our partners after discovering his affair(s). It was phrased something along the lines of "what's reasonable for me to be able to ask him to do."
I responded with something like this: when someone is asking for your forgiveness, then you get to set the terms of that.
But what I think I should have written was:
"He's asking you to forgive a choice he made, in which you weren't consulted, and that was a direct threat to you, your marriage, your family and your health. It's "reasonable" to expect you not to kill him. Anything else is on the table."
Or, as Steam puts it,

"My heartbreak, my rules."

I sometimes think that all our discussion on this site (damn, we're mature!) around boundaries, around acknowledging his pain, around learning to listen to each other, being curious rather than judgemental can eclipse this basic rule of rebuilding a marriage after betrayal: You get to set the terms of reconciliation. He's asking you to forgive something that is a brutal violation of the promise you made to each other. Why shouldn't you get to decide what you need in order to do that.
Do you need to read every single text that comes in? Do you need him to let you know where he is throughout the day? Do you need a GPS on his phone that you can monitor? Do you need proof that he's established No Contact with the OW? This isn't about setting up a police state, it IS about creating an atmosphere in which you begin to feel safe and in which you begin to rebuild trust.
Let's say it again: He's asking you to forgive him for lying to you, for being deceptive, for jeopardizing everything that matters to you and for jeopardizing your health.
If the price he has to pay is to feel like an errant 8-year-old for a few months, strikes me that he's getting off pretty easy.
Infidelity remains one of the most misunderstood issues in our culture. Nobody thinks it will affect them as profoundly as it does. It kicks us hard and leaves us for dead. And while the world blithely goes on with "well, if my husband ever cheated on me blah blah blah" or "maybe they just have an open marriage" or "I think she's a real nag to him", the rest of us are dealing with the real-life consequences of discovering that the one person in the world you thought would always have your back was, in fact, stabbing you in it.
Reasonable? Let's say it again, it's reasonable to expect you not to kill him. Everything else is on the table.
Your heartbreak, your rules. 

43 comments:

  1. Elle, you are just amazing! I love this.

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  2. I am 15 months since DDay, my husband was addicted to porn, massage parlors and prostitutes so I set up a lot of boundaries to make me feel safe. If he would have fought me on any of them I don't think our marriage would've survived. He's not the type of guy to go out with friends after work so I didn't have to worry about any of that. He did all his acting out during the day time he is self-employed so he could easily get away with doing that. These are the boundaries that I set.

    I installed net nanny on all of his computers at work, and I took his home computer away. His home computer he used to view porn and shop for whores. One day I'm going to take that computer and beat the crap out of it in the backyard!

    I put GPS on his phone, I have access to his email accounts, I took over all of our banking and credit cards. I have access to our Verizon account to view phone records and texts. I also can read every text that comes in or that has been written on our Verizon account so he cannot delete anything. I made him give up vodka he used to drown himself in it every night. I opened up a checking account with just my name putting my kids as beneficiary in case I ever need Plan B. I deposit money in there every month and he knows I have this account and for me it just makes me feel safe because he used to be very controlling with money. I have started working at his office several days a week which gives me access to all of his computers and I can search his history. Actually spending more time at his office and helping him out has been a really good thing for our marriage.

    I would have to say the first four or five months I was pretty compulsive with checking everything I was in a state of fright, however as time has passed I no longer feel the need to check like I used to. As of right now I trust my husband today, tomorrow next week but as far as that I can't look into the future. There are no guarantees in life all I know is if he chooses to ever hurt me again, I have my plan B and I will be fine with or without him. I can't live my life in fear any longer, I know it will just eat me alive and I want to live!

    It may seem like I've set a lot of boundaries but this is what I truly needed in order for me to feel safe. And he was willing to do everything that I needed for me to heal and trust again.

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    1. Hiking girl. I had pretty much the same thing going on after day 1. And the boundaries were in place so that I could kick him out if he effed up. And not do he'd never cheat again, because I thought he never would. The short version of what happened was after 14 months of being mr clean, mr steam GOT BETTER at cheating!! I wish I would have had a stealth tracker in his car. I would have seen his trips to western union to pay for his hidden credit card and throw away phone. He kept a step ahead until he didn't. Whoops!!

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    2. Hiking girl, how do you read the Verizon texts?

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    3. BEG
      After you log in to Verizon go to my plans and services, you'll see it drop down to send a message when you click that on you'll see all of the messages that are on the phone I think they store for three months. I compare these numbers to the phone bill. One of our boundaries is he can't delete messages unless he shows me what he's deleting. So this helps me verify he's sticking to that. I used to check this all the time in the beginning but it really got very exhausting so I just check once in awhile now. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would ever have to check on my husband, it really is very sad that we are all here. I am thankful for all the support these great women give to each other.

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  3. This has been especially tricky for us because one of the reasons that he resented me so much that he had an affair is that he has always felt like "an errant 8 year old." So the terms that I expected and insisted upon were constantly being challenged and often rejected. Yes he did the basics--ended the affair, went to therapy, and worked on becoming a better partner. But he insisted on doing everything on his own terms because doing things on my terms kept making him feel like the errant child. I suspect alot of men have this tension within them that they have from childhood and I think it is at the root of shame for many men who have affairs. For us, it has delayed and stalled alot of our healing.
    My "rules" incurred alot of hostility. He has really had to work on getting out of this mode of seeing me as his punishing mommy who orders him around to seeing that he had to step up to the plate as a man. And he had to do alot of therapy to understand that I seem like his mother to him and maybe treat him as one would treat a kid... because he has been acting like one.
    So I would caution using the language of "rules" if the parent-child dynamic is at play in your relationship and your partner struggles with alot of shame. Not because you are wrong or being unreasonable, but because his psyche can't yet see you as a fellow adult who deserves respect, but as parent whom he resents and must oppose. Not that I have to be responsible for his issues, but it helped that I learned to be clear about my boundaries, my feelings and my needs for myself and work on communicating it in a way that didn't sound like demands or "rules."
    Because ultimately, I want to break the cycle of him feeling like and acting like a child and grow into an authentic adult. So alot of our marital healing has been dependent on me not acting like or sounding like his mommy or letting him treat me like his mommy as well as using my voice and standing up for myself. He was free to take them or leave them but I made clear the conditions upon which I would stay in the relationship (and I have had to work on accepting that the outcome may be he will leave it). But I think that approaching it and talking about it in terms of personal boundaries is a better strategy, because that allows both of you to be in it as equal adults, not mother and child.

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    1. This is spot on, MBS. Thank you.

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  4. I love this and have really felt this from the beginning. I remember feeling a little exposed for carrying on with some rage and emotions in our MC session one time, so I turned to my H and the marriage counselor and said, "Listen! I may seem out of control or out of character to you both right now, but I need you to remember THAT THIS SITUATION IS A MOTIVE FOR MURDER!! Anything I do or say that is shy of that is showing control and restraint!!" They both totally agreed, and we all laughed a little. I'm so glad I didn't try to harm myself or my H or any of the OW, but we all know the desire was there for all of that at one point or another. I think a great FICTION book idea or TV series would center on a betrayed spouse of a sex addict or serial adulterer who decides to go "Dexter" on everyone--as long as it's all fiction. I totally agree that we all have an obligation to allow all these people to remain alive. I'm not obligated to do much else at all. I check up on my H still whenever I want. I don't do it often now, but it's shy of murder. Anything else I do that is nice or accommodating or forgiving is a gift I'm choosing to give.

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    1. Ann, I love this too and your response! I was literally just laughing out loud reading about you yelling at your H in the therapist's office! I have been there and pretty much yelled those exact same words myself. Sometimes we need those moments after being so damn mature, as Elle said. I couldn't agree more; what was done to me was definitely motive for murder. Good thing I'm at least sane enough not to act on the vengeful fantasies that have come to mind. But seriously, what these 2 people did to me was enough to make any person insane. Sometimes I wonder how the hell I ever made it out of that initial d-day explosion in 1 piece, but here I am a year later, still (relatively) intact. In the beginning, I actually felt a lot pressure knowing that our marriage basically hinged on me. He ruined it. It was up to me to decide if I'd be willing to stick around to fix it or if I'd walk away. After deciding that my H got a second chance, I felt that same pressure as we navigated our recovery and I pretty much set the terms for it. In the beginning, he answered every question and let me see anything I requested. Eventually, I had enough information and we've been working like hell to save our marriage since. I think that the terms and rules that I've/we've set in this 1st year have been crucial in our recovery. Our therapist calls them "contracts". He says the more we have, the better. I'm realizing this is something that our marriage was missing before. It's one of the many contributing factors in how we landed in this position in the first place.

      Somewhere along the way in the past year, I feel like things have become a little less one-sided. Instead of things being on my terms, they now seem more like our terms. I think we both know that deep down, I'll always hold a little bit of an upper hand, but I'm okay with that. I deserve that. I love being reminded that I am an empowered woman now. I am no longer the quiet, unsure girl that I once was. I can set my own rules and re-plan my life to be better than it was. Thank you for empowering me a little more with these words today. I'm so grateful for the continued support I receive from this community.

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    2. Ann,

      I totally understand your wanting to murder someone just like I still would want to put coffee on one of the flight attendants if I were ever on her flight but something inside my head says don't go"crazy" cause we know in today's world that would get you kicked off the flight. At the beginning I did have some meltdowns but nothing as dramatic as my daughter did a yr ago when she threw a glass vase and picture frame against the wall. Shattered. Much better to get the anger out but not harm a person physically. Last week the much dreaded visit with my cheating son in law was finally done. Yeah, he was sooo sorry and promised it will never happen again of course. Sorry, I just don't believe him. Too much of his selfish ego is still on display. Of course as much as I wanted to smack him, I took the high road and told him I wouldn't get into his marriage. Honestly whether they make it thru the rough stuff is their problem. I don't want to be blamed . But to answer the question of the post, no I don't think you have to be reasonable at all but I don't think it helps to check up. I thought if he's going to cheat, go ahead cause I really don't care to be with that person. There's a huge relief when you let go of trying to control someone else and just live your own life. A wise woman once said, "F### this shit " and went on to live happily ever after.

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  5. So.Very.True. I've used that line ever since I read it here - My heartbreak. My rules. Plain and simple. I'm 16 mos. out and never thought I'd be where I am today. I've learned to say what I mean and mean what I say. It isn't always easy but I'm learning. I just wish I had learned this a long time ago. This site taught me boundary setting. And so much more. Elle, you are spot on with this post.

    My h and I had a brief conversation this morning because I must have had dreams about things all night. He said he always loved me, never ever intended to leave me, and tried to explain why he did what he did. He then reminded me of some of the things our MC mentioned and how happy he is today. He has worked hard and is a changed man these days. I'm happy with the man he has become (of course there is always work to do to become better...). Sometimes I still wonder if the past, when I thought we were good together, had all been a lie. I look back at pictures and think what was going on during this time when I was clueless. I know we still need to have some difficult conversations, but for the first time in a long time I am hopeful for our future together. Damn it is hard work! I know I'll never "forget" what happened, but I will move into the future on my terms.

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    1. Feeling Lost, I'm almost 22 months out and I also look at old photos of us and our kids and wonder what the hell? He was sophisticated at hiding his addiction to porn and prositutues and honestly I'm almost at the point where everything prior to D-day that included him is dead and gone. I know where my head and body were and I know where his body was in those photos but I have no idea where his head was and I'd probably be homicidal if I knew the whole truth. In some ways, I think I've just discarded the first 35 years of my marriage and am focusing on D-day and beyond. Nothing will ever fix what happened, not even death. It takes quite a lot of emotional energy for me to drag myself out of those thoughts so now I just try to repeat to myself a saying I copied last week on Facebook. "Forgiveness is a contract between two people. One promises not to repeat their behavior and the other promises to leave it in the past." This comes from Projectforgiive.com I am a work in progress as we all are. It is true that we are all human, people say and do really stupid things and make very poor decisions but that doesn't mean they are bad people. Maybe they are just broken and sick. I'm getting better all the time and it sounds like you are too. Live for today. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn't promised to any of us.

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    2. Beach girl, I can really relate to what you said about discarding the marriage before d-day. My H wasn't cheating the whole time, but long enough; 2 out of 5 years of marriage and basically the whole 1st 2 years of our son's life. For me, it's really difficult to look at my son's baby pictures. I'm only a year out from d-day, which was 2 days after my son's 2nd birthday. Even his birthday is a sore spot for me, as I rearranged his party plans pre-d-day weekend due to my husband going out of town to see the OW.

      I'm working in therapy and with my husband to not view everything as "ruined", but rather as an opportunity to build the marriage we should have had. Getting through this first year has been extremely difficult. I definitely have good days and bad days; and probably still more bad than good. Optimism has never exactly been a strong quality for me, but I remain hopeful that we love each other enough to keep working at this.

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    3. Some days I want to throw it all away and be done with the past. I struggle with that. I cannot see our marriage that way. For me I feel like if I do then we should move on apart. So much time passed and lots of memories were created. Many I struggle with still but they happened and I cannot let them go. I do feel we are working to create a new/revised marriage. We always call it 2.0. It is like we are evolving or going through a metamorphosis. For me this is what works. It still comes with pain and some days I look back more than others. One thing I know is this will always be part of our history/story. The one good thing is this has brought us closer together than I could have imagined.

      The first year was the hardest for me. What I a seeing thought now as we are past two years is how much it affected my husband. It is like it sinks in more over time. He has done an amazing job but he keeps opening up more and I see how has transformed so much.

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    4. Beach Girl, In July we will have our 38 years of marriage. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be where I am today. LOVE the quote on forgiveness! I'm going to print it out so I can see it every day. I'm really trying to live for today and not look back. I am getting better every day. Of course I have bad days but they are getting fewer. I'm learning to enjoy my h as he is today. I figure I don't have a choice so might as well be as happy as I can. I enjoy reading your posts and can relate to them so well. You're right - we are a work in progress. Thank you.

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    5. Feeling Lost and Hopeful, over the past 22 months when my husband and I "talk" about the past he asks me why, when I see a photo of him, us, the kids, grandkids, etc, why can't I just look at that photo as tell myself, "that was a good day for him". I think about that sometimes. He has already admitted to being a master at compartmentalizing his life prior to D-day so I suspect, in fact, that for the most part, the high school graduations, birthday parties, weddings, births of grandkids, some vacation photos and travel photos, he was actually having a good time. He has told me that he did not always lust after women or think about his porn/prostitutes on every trip we ever took. I think it is just very difficult for me to not just assume he was a sick and sexually compulsive man every waking minute. We have never even attempted to drill down to this and I suspect if we did it would fill my emotional shopping bag with pain so I don't really want to go there. I just read about the Govenor of Georgia resigning at age 73 for having an affair. His wife of 50 years divorced him last year. I commented to my husband today, "What the hell is wrong with men, especially an old entitled white conservative Christian holier than thou man who would jeopardize his marriage for sex with a younger womean who worked with him? I mean really, I asked my husband, do all me just think with their dicks and expect not to get caught? Um not a great conversation to have but he just agreed that it was stupid. I'm still doing pretty well keeping my intrusive thoughts under control. My life is what it is and it includes his past acting out and as long as he doesn't do that again I think we will be OK because we both want our marriage to work out. Just an hour ago I told him that I hoped our marriage of 37 years did not end like that Georgia governor's did and he agreed that he would never do anything ever again to put him, me or us in danger of that again. Peace and love to you all.

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  6. I so can relate to this post! I'm guilty of the murder and he's lucky I was afraid of burning in hell for something he chose to do that made those thoughts cross my mind! We've come a long way since dday and still issues pop up but we're learning how to talk our way through them! I'm dealing with a mother who has dementia and is addicted to the shopping network QVC. I helped her get 10,000.00$ paid for all her shoes clothes and stuff only to learn that 2 years past getting her that loan she's ordered 1400.00$ more...my h cow had to be put out of mind in order to make room in my brain for making decisions for my mother...so, I read this post and realize, yes my h is lucky to have gotten me past some of the worst fallout and only had to endure 3 meltdowns...so far...still a work in progress here!

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  7. Wow. This is EXACTLY where I am right now. Still trying to figure it out...But the "I'm not gonna kill you" is dead on.

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  8. Here's a question I have. After watching Esther Perrel's Ted talk (like, a gazillion times) one thing she mentions is that the cheating partner needs to be vigilant, take lead in bringing up the subject and talking about it. Thats how they start building trust and prevent the partner that was cheated on from obssesing. Am I expecting too much to expect that? Even after I have pointed it out several times? He says he wants to work this out, has changed. Doesn't want to be that man anymore. Will talk when I want to talk and bring up the subject. Yet, 6 months down the line I still feel like I am the one constantly bringing it up- when I can't take it anymore and explode. Are men simply that thick?

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  9. Elle, I love this post, it is empowering, direct and gives me permission to do whatever it takes to heal. Gives me permission to know that my requests are reasonable. Hiking girl is totally awesome.

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  10. I am heartbroken.

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    1. Anonymous, we understand. I am sorry you found yourself in this situation. Know that every woman on this site understands that feeling of heartbreak. And we are here to support you. Please consider giving yourself a pseudonym and continue to post.

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  11. This is so perfect. There are times when I make myself feel guilty about how I am handling this... but I have to keep reminding myself that I am the one that was betrayed, not the other way around. What I expect, how I react and how I trudge through my feelings is ok. You ladies have provided a ton of insight into this! Thank you!

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  12. I realize that I haven't yet posted a full account of our situation, I'm working up to it! The nutshell is that just over a year ago I learned that between mid-2009 and late 2015 (I found out in Jan. 2016), my husband engaged in a physical and online affair with his old high school girlfriend, who is also married with two kids.
    Cut to Friday last week, at the end of our CC session, the counselor booked us a 90 minute appt for the next time, because clearly we had more crap to work through than could be handled in one hour. I was quite angry. Right now my only chore from the counselor is to try not to be so angry all the time (I'm not doing very well with that). We've been in counseling since D-Day at the end of January 2016. Another two pieces to consider, when news of the affair broke I was in my last semester to get my Master's. So, I work full time, I have a two-hour commute each way, and I was taking two classes, and finishing a Master's project while trying to process this. I managed to graduate (although he wrecked my 4.0, I got A minuses in my last two classes). Then in June, my father died. I feel like it's not unreasonable to need more time than "normal" to process his affair given that I wasn't able to process it, or work toward forgiveness in the middle of finishing grad school, and my father's passing.

    Occasionally I'll check his texts and his emails, but not really often. There's not much point. He managed to hide it all from me before, he could do the same again. It seems obvious that if he ever did this again, it's over, and I'm throwing him out. It's not the worry and fear that he'll do it again that prevents me from healing. I honestly do not know how to forgive, I feel utterly humiliated, and I can't seem to get past the past. If anyone has any helpful suggestions as to how to get past the indignity in order to get close to their cheating partner again, I'd be forever grateful.

    The last thing I have been able to identify is the ADHD factor. I found a book called "Is it You, Is it Me, or is it Adult ADHD", and I relate to a lot of it. I've told him to read it, I will read it, we will discuss it. His ADHD brings added stress of his financial disorganization, his general disorganization, etc. I feel like I am the one who has to remember all the moving parts, and tell him what needs to be done, then remind him several times to do it. And now that is carrying over to our recovery. Although I have told him many times over the year what he could do to that would be meaningful to me for purposes of repair and recovery, he can't seem to figure it out. Then at our Friday CC session he said again, that I need to drive the recovery because he can’t figure it out. That's when my anger just really spilled out. I DIDN'T DO THIS, YOU DID! I've told you what I need, and you can't figure out what to do. In addition to keeping our shit together for us compensating for your ADHD, turns out I was keeping our shit together so you could go off and fuck your old girlfriend... Seems fair. People with ADHD have twice the divorce rate as non-ADHD marriages. So we were already at twice the risk factor, then add the affair... Does anyone else's husband have ADHD? Are we doomed?

    I apologize for the rambling, but this was EXACTLY the kind of post I needed today! After feeling for days that I am being so completely unreasonable as to become an obstacle to my own recovery, this helped. A lot.

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    1. Periwinkle,

      I am so sorry you are facing all of this. You have had a lot to deal with and face in addition to the betrayal. I think the biggest thing is to remember to take it easy on yourself and unfortunately healing takes time. And you add on your extra stressors and that just makes it more difficult. You are also very early in still in this process. Everyone takes a different amount of time and it depends on so many factors. I also will say at times I feel like I/we relapse.

      There is not enough space for me to say all I did. But we are two years past dday and my husband had two affairs over 10 years. I know ADHD can affect many aspects of life both for the person and those around them. My husband did all this and he is in the mental health field so even with all that training, education and professional experience it did not help him make better decisions.

      I would say the most important thing is to take care of yourself. For me that meant reducing stress as much as possible and doing only what I had to do. I stepped back from everything except work and taking care of my kids. I honestly focued on sleeping and making sure I was eating. After that I made sure to do things I wanted, working out, cooking, reading, fun things with the kids. Really anything I could find joy in.

      After that it really was realizing that only my husband can make the changes he needs to. I understand with the ADHD it is different but it is also a point of stress for you and your marriage. Can you seek resources for him only to address this. It seems if he made effort and strides in this area besides telling you it was your responsibility that would go a long way. For me this would be a major area to address finding some better solutions or new ways to try and help him so he can contribute more to helping himself and in turn your marriage.

      Once I was past the initial pain we set some boundaries. They were basic at first like no contact, call me during your lunch hour, talk to me before agreeing to do anything even simple. These have evolved over time and gotten more detailed. The setting of boundaries were the first step in moving towards starting to even consider trusting him again.

      As far as forgiveness goes I did not worry about that for a while. For me I just knew when I actually forgave him. It was a feeling I had that was genuine and I believed. The forgiveness was not a "I will forget about it". It meant a lot when I did forgive him, for me it was not holding it over him anymore in a way. Not that I ever did that with him. And mostly it was easy since I saw what efforts and changes he had made to commit to me, himself and our marriage.

      Hang in there and be kind to yourself.

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    2. Periwinkle, I just received an email today from another site (Emotional Affair) that they are hosting a group coaching session tomorrow at 6 pm (Eastern Time) and the topic is Adult ADHD and Affairs. It says if you get registered before the event, you can even listen to it later if you're unable to listen in live. After reading your post, I thought I would share that in the event it has some worthwhile info.

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    3. Periwinkle
      I'm trying to decide if my h has ADHD but I know for sure I do and have delt with it through the years by having many different choices of things to focus on. I made my h grow the balls to handle our financial budget many years ago when I bounced a co pay check at my physicians office. Her bookeeper failed to see that I had made restitution the day after the check bounced but she put me in the folder to go to jail so I turned myself in and h had to get me out of jail. Charges were dropped and my finger prints and mug shots deleted but I refused to ever write another check on our joint account. Somehow he learned how to pay bills and not bounce checks. That's partly why I didn't notice how much money he was spending during his affair. The affair was April 2011 and we finally had our first year with out her constant contact and attempts to break our marriage for ever. Not that his affair wasn't enough reason! I'm here to tell you that this hasn't been an easy journey. My h had to change many habits he had during the time of the affair. It's been a learning process for him to find the things that work to keep me from sliding down the rabbit hole that leads me into a fit of rage and him emotionally shut down. It's a constant work to stay positive and keep seeing the good in him. It's not been an easy time for him either but he tells me constantly that he's happier than he has been in years, even I knew living apart was straining our marriage but at the time I had no choice due to our daughter and her divorce/ custody fight. My h came clean of the details within the first six months of dday because she kept texting information that she knew would cause us issues and he had to explain it all. Those early discussions were what kept us moving forward and once she was forced to end contact, we slowly began to work on our new marriage. Just so you know my sister passed away right before dday and I had no time to process the affair for weeks when I had to take care of my mother so we returned to our discussions in the second year until I finally found closure with what happened how it happened and why he wanted to stay married to me. I gave him the option of divorce that first month but he kept assuring me he wanted our marriage not a life with her. He had been trying to end his affair since two months into it but because he was/is a weak man he figured out how to keep his affair a secret for an additional year and a half after he bought me a car to transport my lab and built a fence for her to stay in. His cow watched the building of the fence, drove by several times the day I moved into the house and left him alone for all of two weeks before she was willing to just be his fuck buddie and lunch dates. He claims that she only demanded he see her every once in a while I don't care at this point. Like I said it was enough that he had the affair. So all I can say is it's up to your h to figure out what it takes to be the better man! I'm thankful mine was willing to step up and become the man I thought he was and not continue being the man she made him feel like! Reality is so much better than the fantasy of an affair! Hugs! Oh I still have anger but I'm learning to get rid of it by attacking the weeds in my flower gardens!

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    4. Ahhh, Periwinkle. I know exactly what you mean. ADHD tendencies were definitely at play in our marriage pre affair (as well as a fair bit of self-absorption and self interest). I wrote a bit further up about the parent-child dynamic and how working hard to step out of the role of parent/keeper of all the secrets/the one who is on top of everything--in order to change the nature of our relationship and have him step up.
      I read "Is it you me.." I would also highly, highly recomment "the ADHD Effect on Marriage." Every word in the book described us.
      And the fact that I am good at compensating for his "holes" created alot of resentment and distance in our relationship, his seeing me as his mother (whom he hates), me seeing him as another kid to take care of (so unsexy), hence..... an affair (with an irresponsible child-like woman who needs taking care of).
      So my advice.
      Take care of you. Dont take care of him right now. Let the disorganization be for now.
      Don't let him turn you into his mother, don't be his mother, don't compensate, just set roles and expectations on paper.
      Down the road, if and when you are ready to rebuild, you can suggest he seek out and work on strategies that help him be organized, timely, and responsible
      He can try lists (my husband now does bullet journals) and phone reminders.

      But for now, just look after yourself.

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    5. Oh, ladies, thank you, thank you, thank you!

      Hopeful, I appreciate your response. I like the idea of boundaries. We have discussed some things, but never really called them boundaries. And reading your post, and thinking about it, it seems like even the phrasing "boundaries" is important and could be helpful to him, especially b/c of the ADHD. He doesn't communicate well, so we end up arguing a lot b/c he springs things on me at the last minute, simply b/c he didn't assign any importance to it, so he never mentioned it. You can imagine, I'm not very fond of surprises right now!

      Dandelion, thank you! I just looked it up and I will sign up for that webinar. I didn't purchase Orlov's book, b/c Pera's book seemed to be much better reviewed. However I see it recommended by MBS who has read them both. Thanks for the reference!!

      Theresa, thank you for sharing all of that. I'm very sorry for the loss of your sister. I lost my oldest sister too, so I can sympathize. What you were saying about your H changing his old habits is definitely a sticking point for us. When I mention that he needs to change, he now gets instantly defensive, as if by telling him that he needs to change, I am rejecting him as a person, and he can't figure out how to not be who he is. The counselor helped by suggesting that change isn't really the word, but that he needs to GROW. That helped him digest the idea.

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    6. MBS, I can see that you totally know what I'm talking about. You have hit several nails directly on the head. I did read your post about parent/child dynamic, and that's totally where we had ended up. I had to always be the adult, responsible for all the responsible adult stuff, such as paying the mortgage, not overdrafting the checking account, paying the bills, making doctor appointments for the kids, reminding him of his own appointments, etc, etc. Meanwhile, he would keep getting into poorly thought out business ventures with people who he would misread, and add more $$ to our debt burden. So we've been saddled with debt for so long, and none of the businesses have worked out.

      We are in the same situation you describe: me compensating and growing resentful, him growing resentful after asking me to help him with his weaker areas, and then treating me like a nag. He also has a horrible relationship with his mother, and I don't like her and really don't want someone to turn me into her! The desire to be intimate suffered for me, absolutely, but never for him. He seeks validation from sex.

      So when I was not of a mood for sex for whatever reason (even just "it's 10:30 and I get up at 4:40 to get ready for work, I'm tired!), he would take it as a rejection of him, not just a rejection of sex in the moment. Then he would become consumed by the need for that contact to make everything right in the world, and would pursue me relentlessly until we could be together. To the point that he would become moody and distant, short-tempered with the kids, and literally need me to drop whatever I might be doing, wherever we might be and go off somewhere and take care of it. This pattern has also had a hugely negative impact on our trust and intimacy over the years.

      Except after the children were born, we never went longer than a week w/o having sex unless there was travel. I have always known that 1-2x per week is better than average, and not a sign of a low sex marriage. But it was never enough for him, so he always viewed this as a problem. He believed that all happily married people have sex every day, and the ones who don't have sex every day aren't happily married. He has gone so far as to research low libido in women, suggest it's my fault, etc. We have always had an adventurous sex life, and there's not much we haven't explored. In the immediate aftermath of D-day, he made two huge missteps: he ran out and purchased libido supplements for me, and spent $400 on new sex toys. Stupid, stupid, stupid. (To reference a post from above, he is so very fortunate not to have been murdered in his sleep with a sex toy). Apparently it still hadn't occurred to him that he was the problem, and his ADHD caused a very unsexy dynamic in our relationship.

      Your advice is great. We are at that crossroads now. He needs to step up, I've drawn the line in the sand. He needs to figure out new strategies to help him become a full partner in this, and not a third child, if I'm ever to get past his poor choices and find him desirable and forgivable.

      I'm so relieved to have found you all. What amazing women you all are.

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    7. Periwinkle, Thanks for sharing. I think that is a lot of it having an outlet like here even in addition to therapy. I think the way things are stated and worded can make a huge difference. Theoretically I have a very high functioning husband but I learned at a certain point discussions went better and there was less tension when I handled things a certain way. For us I suggested we set one time a week to talk. We made sure it was the best time for both of us without interruption and no kids around etc. During the week I would take notes, journal, write out questions... Before out time I would look back over all of it. Through my writing I could see the key issues I needed to focus on. When we talked then I was much more focused and tended not to rant or go off on tangents which is easy for me at least to do on this topic. Also it allowed me to keep my emotions in check. At first I thought he needs to deal with me however I am, but I found over time it was ineffective. I would walk away feeling worse and like nothing was accomplished. Since I was more I guess pulled together and less emotional he started to become less defensive. This took a while but it was a major step in improving our communication and moving through some of the healing.

      And yes boundaries and expectations are what I say. I still use those terms. I do not like to use rules etc. Really it is what I need to be in this marriage/relationship.

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    8. Oh my, Periwinkle. That story sounds so familiar..except for the part about $400 in sex toys. Jeez. Yes, no one would have blamed you for dropping a plugged in a hitachi magic wand in his bath while he was in it. ;)
      The sexual dependency and need for validation was definitely a part of this as well. My H is in a 2 step group and getting alot out of it. He is also working on the shame that is also a big part of it.
      Most of these guys need to do a whole lot of work and admit to a whole lot of personal shortcomings. And not too many can. But atleast you know what you are dealing with.

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  13. So Sunday's seem to be triggers for me. I think it's because my H affair was conducted over long weekends in St. Petersburg beach. He said he was going on golf outings with friends. Sunday was always the day he returnrned. The other kick in the stomach is that our eldest son attended college in Tampa and continued to live there for a few years. So we spent a lot of time there. I loved the Tampa st Pete area. All that is dead to me now. Don't know how he kept up the double life. Oh yeah he met her on a ski trip. I always thought of myself as a low maintenance wife. Never bitched. Always let him take his "guy trips". What a shock. So today is Monday and I'm feeling the afterafects of Sunday. Oh yeah I'm just three months out. Thanks for being here. I would really like to find a support group in southeast Wisconsin.

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    1. GPSGirl, Sundays and Mondays are the same for me. I discovered the affair on a Sunday while he was playing golf like he does every week. And Mondays were the day he and the OW would get together. I know how you feel. I'm 16 mos out and still sometimes stress out on those days. I'm sorry your h ruined things that meant so much to you. We got into MC right away and it really helped a lot. Do you have an IC? It helps to have someone to talk to. I'm sorry you are going through this. Sending you a hug.

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    2. It is sometimes the smallest little thing that will remind me of these details. I have a great memory and associate too many things with the affair, his lies etc. Lots of annual events were connected to his bad behavior. He has basically stopped many of these things. Or he has reshaped how he does them. Almost every boundary we have established is regards to his time away. That has helped. I also do not hesitate to tell him if something has triggered me. I find it most helpful if I mention it before if I am aware. He actually most of the time too is triggered also. I guess that helps in some small way that he is right there with me.

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  14. Its been 5month since Dday. He met them all from meetme and skout apps over the course of a year and a half. Everytime i start getting better I am dealt another blow by another thing he left out to tell me but i managed to discover thru my obsessive investigation. Now im in more pain than before. I hardly get 2 hrs of sleep, i hardly eat. I wish this was just a bad dream. I can never look at him the same again.

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  15. Its been 5 months since Dday, although it feels like yesterday. He met atleast 20 women thru the apps Skout and Meetme over the course of a yr and a half. He even took some out to eat and then would come home and eat dinner with me and the kids even though he was full just so i wouldnt question his lack of appetite. I was doing good until a couple weeks ago when my intuition was proved to be correct after i did more investigative work. He didnt only meet them for car bjs but about 5 of them for sex, too. I am lucky to get 2hrs of sleep, have no appetite to eat. I feel like everytime i discover something new, i relapse. I can never look at my husband of 13yrs and our children's father the same again but i am trying hard to not push him away again due to my obsessive investigation on him. I cant stop investigating. I feel like im losing my sanity.

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    1. Rose, I'm so sorry. I know the feeling that you're losing your sanity (I still do some days and I'm 16 mos out). Try to focus on taking care of yourself and your children. I let as much go as I could and focused on only what I could handle. It was so hard but taking care of me became one of my first priorities. Try to eat and get sleep when you can. Are you in counseling? It was a lifesaver for me. You are early in discovery so of course you can't stop investigating. I did that too. I think it's natural. Don't make any decisions right now. Take care of yourself, this is a tough time. Sending you hugs.

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    2. Oh Rose
      I'm so sorry you're going through this! I dropped so much weight from lack of eating and exercising my lab during the grief period of my h affair! I was just barely capable of stumbling through each day! I was barely getting through the loss of my older sister when I was slapped with her truths about my h! It makes you believe that you have lost your mind and maybe in the early months we sort of do. I remember most of all that gut wrenching pain and the puffy eyes and stomach that turned at the sight and thought of eating! I'm not sure how long that lasted for me because we were still fighting to keep her out of our marriage for six months on an almost daily basis and another year before she finally left us alone! I'm not sure how your h is handling himself in the area of taking care of you but my h stepped up his game and kept me fed enough to survive. And then I finally found this blog and began to do the things Elle and the other brave broken women here have suggested! Slowly but surly I learned how to take care of me first and family second because I learned that I wasn't good for anyone when I was so weak myself. Just take the time to take care of you and if you're not in therapy please consider it even if it's just for you! I know how hard this road is to travel and I've seen a few that haven't stayed with their h but what I've learned is that decision is up to each of us to make and there's no right or wrong decision just what's right for ourselves! I'm so sorry you're here but just know you're surrounded by the most wonderful group of friends you've ever had...even if only in a virtual world! Hugs! One day at a time!

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  16. I feel insane too but really WE are the sanes ones. I'm depressed today and tired of thinking about. So just quit! It's like having a baby and you can't take it back. I'm beginning to think I'm building up a tolerance level. I don't like that my husband had a relationship with the psycho kindergarten teacher so I learn to tolerate it. Accept it never. Forgive is not in my DNA. I have spent 3 years knowing and 2 years unknowing. That is five years of my life dealing with learning how to tolerate the injustice. I just want some peace. Sorry that is way to much to ask. You want peace and you did nothing wrong? What planet are you from? This week I decided I'm not over it, not close. I went into a blind rage three times in 2 weeks. I'm suppose to be lovey-Dovey right? I'm suppose to be this, that and the other well I'm sick of it. I'm sick of trying to believe it is ok when when in every cell down to the molecular level screams not it is not ok. You watch those movies where someone is off balance then WHAM it is that one thing that destroyed their childhood is now destroying their adulthood. Then off they go in a paddy wagon, electric shock to the brain, drugs and finally isolation. That is me. I'm ready to DIY and plug myself up to the car battery. I have an appointment with my therapist this week I need one. I'm losing hope this is ever going away. There he sirpts across me glass of wine, cigar and reading a book. He is the happiest he has ever been. Go figure. Well I know there is always a left over shit sandwich I can eat OOPS I mean tolerate.

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    1. Lynnlesspain
      I'm sorry you are still having so much pain! I'm sorry you feel pain when you see your h happiest he's ever been! I know that feeling well! Post dday, when my h was just so relived at not living with his secret life, my world was crumbled and shattered! If felt like well yeah he got his cake and he ate it along with the ice cream. If felt like I had all this pain and he feels nothing but relief and now he's happy. Just didn't feel fair to me. During this time, I had many many ups and downs! I'm hoping your therapist helped you through this tough stuff! It's hard dealing with the resentment of him being happy as we're still dealing with the pain! I suggest that you talk with your h about your feelings as well. Once I was able to be totally honest with my h about every issue I felt had to be addressed, we were finally free to truly begin to rebuild our marriage! Hugs!

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  17. Lynnlesspain. I am so soory for you.

    Therapy is the only thing that helped.

    3 years out from DDay and I still have anger sometimes.

    But therapy for 2 years saved my sanity.

    One thing I try to tell myself is that when I spend time focusing or thinking of the affair, it gives the power back to the cheaters. That can snap me out of it quickly.

    Maybe that can help you.

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