Thursday, June 8, 2017

Am I letting him off the hook?

It feels like something of a miracle in those weeks or months following D-Day. Something makes us laugh and, for a moment, we forget that our life is a wreck. Or maybe we wake up one morning and the boulder on our chest feels a little less heavy.
Or perhaps our husband comes home to find us sitting at the table, colouring with our child and soaking up their innocence.
We almost smile at him. Then we remember. He's the enemy. And so we scowl instead.
Navigating those first few months is hell. Even if we've decided to stay in the marriage (for the time being, anyway), even if we're engaged in hysterical bonding like crazy, even if we can't imagine life without him, we can feel as though we're on opposing sides. We are loathe to, as we think of it, let him off the hook.
And what is the hook?
The hook is this misery he has cast us into. The hook is this heart of ours he has shattered. This life he took a wrecking ball to.
The hook is our fear that, if we even for a minute behave as if we're not utterly ruined that he might just think that what he did was okay.
And it was decidedly NOT okay.
It will never be okay.
But let's stop for a second and consider this mindset.
Do we really think that, without a constant reminder of the destruction he has wrought, our husband might think that he's off the hook?
Because, frankly, maintaining a look of agony, day-in and day-out for the rest of our lives in order to ensure that our husband knows he is not off the hook sounds exhausting. It sounds like manipulation. Not in the short term, of course, when we really do feel shattered. But eventually.
I remember the feeling well. I remember worrying that if I actually started feeling better and, more to the point, acting as if I was feeling better, that my husband might mop his sweaty brow, breathe a sigh of relief and think to himself, "whew. Glad that's over and I can get back to my job of ignoring her pain and doing whatever I want regardless of the impact to my marriage or her."
I might not have put it in exactly those terms. More likely, I thought of it as, if I am revealing that I'm healing then he will think he's off the hook. And he is not. He will never be.
And that has remained true.
Though it has been more than a decade since D-Day 1 and a month shy of a decade since D-Day 2, my husband is not off the hook. No matter that I now laugh, that I go days or weeks without thinking about his former infidelity at all, that I feel grateful to have him in my life, he is still not and never will be off the hook.
He knows that.
He knows that I can love my life and still never be okay with his cheating. He knows that healing from his betrayal will never make his betrayal okay. And he knows that, having been given the gift of a second chance by me, he would be a fool to ask for a third chance.
And so...I was free to heal. You are too.
You are free to laugh when something is funny. You are free to smile when you feel happy. You are free to feel whatever you might feel in the moment without forfeiting your right to NOT be okay with his betrayal of you. To never be okay about it.
You don't need to remain miserable in order to ensure his fidelity.
You can speak to him about it. Like an adult.
You can share your feelings with him. You can share just how difficult it is to heal from this and what a miracle it feels to be able to laugh again, to have a glimpse of a life that isn't utterly darkened by betrayal.
And, if he is a good, decent man doing the hard work of understanding why he made the indecent choice he did, he will listen to you. He will do his best to understand. He won't ever be okay with what he did either. He will always know that pain he caused. As my husband once said, the worst feeling in his life was seeing the pain in my eyes and knowing he had caused it.
If your husband has really acknowledged what he did and taken responsibility then he will think your laughter is the most beautiful sound in the world, not because it lets him off the hook but because it sounds like hope.
Hope doesn't erase the past. It opens the heart to the future.

63 comments:

  1. Elle, you have so beautifully articulated what my heart needed to hear today. I've felt this emotional rumbling undercurrent in my daily life as I find myself laughing and really enjoying much of my life. Sometimes it is with my husband and other times it is with my kids, grandkids, neighbors or friends and I've had the exact thought that "I hope he doesn't think that just because I can laugh and have fun that I will ever forget what he did." Because I won't. As you have nicely written, my growing happiness with myself and my new life allows me to open my heart to so many things including the promise of a better future. Sometimes I actually catch myself silently seething when things are going well and I want so much to remind him that he is still on probation in my heart. The truth is that he knows that and he lives with that knowledge every single day. Whatever it was that died on D-day can't come back because it was a reflection of something that was not true in my life and my marriage but that doesn't mean that I don't deserve and cannot strive for something new and much more satisfying. Thanks for setting this tone for my day. This is my truth too.

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    1. BG 'probation in my heart' geniusly phrased! Also, pardon my bratty attitude today but in re to your comment below about h not asking you how you are because it's painful for him.. Amazes me that my h is often unable/unwilling to squeeze a teensy bit out of his comfort zone to help me when I've been taken and dropped off to LIVE outside of my comfort zone. Even a well phrased sentence can keep me going for awhile! Seems common sense to me! (Oh, is that what sex was supposed to tell me? Eyeroll!)

      Elle This post is great. Thanks for reminding me my h does have a memory. On the surface it can seem like h thinks he said a few magic 'I'm sorrys' way back when and, poof, it all went away!

      Just feeling grumpy. (Lifting my coffee cup) Here's to a brighter tomorrow. Thanks to all, you keep me sane!

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    2. BG and Truth,
      Yes, they do have memories. It's up to them whether they let those memories serve as cautionary tales or shame-filled triggers. You can't control that.
      But you can seize happiness when it shows up.

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  2. My husband reminded me just this morning how happy he was to see me smile.
    At the beginning, I thought I would never smile again. But then I started to find happiness in small things like one of my kids laughing. As my husband and I recovered, there were moments where the happiness came from something he did or said. I'm not sure I'm completely past that concern of letting him off the hook, but I know I can't live in pain every day. And I know that he also lives with his past actions whether I remind him of them or not. He hasn't forgotten the past but he tries to focus more on the present. I'm still working on that.
    Thanks for this reminder, Elle!
    Hugs! ❤️

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  3. I cried when I read this. I just had the best mother's day which also happens to be d day anni and returned from a wonderful vacation I'm not so sure it's about letting him off the hook either but letting myself be off the hook to not be consumed by it. I still have my moments but overall 2 years later my self care front and center and I'm living again. Because I'm allowing myself too. Why ... because I deserve it. As do we all. Wounded not broken.

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    1. Wounded - I could have written what you wrote. The tears and all but what struck me to the core was your sentence "...but letting myself off the hook to not be consumed by it." That hit me as where I am at...that it's okay to be happy, to heal myself and know that my husband doesn't forget. Hugs!

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  4. Elle
    I remember feeling like this when I realized that I was treating him even worse than his cow did when he broke up the affair more than one time! He kept going back to silence her from telling me but she saw it as he really wanted her but his guilt wouldn't let him choose her. I think looking back that I feared he would return to her if I let it go and he got off without anyone knowing what an asshole he had truly been. I find that now, I don't care if anyone else knows, he and I will always know he was the ultimate asshole and he continues to be a better man both for himself and me. He has said more than once he couldn't bear to be the cause of such pain to us ever again. I'm fairly certain that I didn't believe that this was possible in the first weeks, months and now years. I rarely have anger issues now but still have to work hard not to allow my petty anger from everyday stress to take me back to that exhausting place I felt stuck in at the beginning! I'm fairly certain that posts like this have made a world of difference in how I react to life struggles with our relationship! Thanks be to God for giving you the right words to express how many of us are feeling!

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    1. Theresa, thank you for your post. I'm coming up on my two year D-day anniversary. I'm often able to believe that he won't go back to "acting out" again but sometimes I just wallow in that ugly place. Like last night for example....telling him that he lied and cheated for 35 years and now that he is almost 2 years "sober" I should believe that he won't do it again? Ugh, please dude, you need more time to demonstrate that commitment because by this time in our early marriage you were already cheating on me. Please remind me again how far out you are Theresa?

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    2. Beach girl
      My h affair began in April of 2011 and he had tried to end it after the first two months but she continued to chase him and being a man he couldn't turn down the sex so it continue until May of 2014 when he took her on a business trip and had sex one last time with her. He spent the entire trip back telling her why he was ending it and yet she couldn't or wouldn't let him end it until she blew up my world in October and continuing her harassment of both of us until the following April fools day when she spent the night in jail. In August of 2015, her son killed his self and she reached out to my h for comfort but all he responded with was that Theresa and I will pray for you and your family. She left us alone other than driving by our house until January 2016, when she texted him to meet up for drinks with 'no hard feelings '. Instead of meeting her, he contacted our attorney who had her back to see the judge and be reminded that she could face jail time if she broke the no contact order again.. This January was one year of no contact with her and we have finally begun to heal our relationship. During all this time, my h was doing everything he could do to show me he was committed to us, but her interference caused me months of uncertainty and I began to treat my h to some real awful cussing outs. I'm glad that doesn't happen anymore. I was left feeling so bad about myself after I did those things! I hope this can help you just know that it takes as long as it takes!

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  5. Fragments of HopeJune 8, 2017 at 12:58 PM

    I get this a lot - a swingback when we've had good times, but rather than it being about wanting not to let him off the hook, for me it's still about whether I am safe or not. While he hasn't gone back to cheating/having contact with the OW since D-day 2, 2.5 years ago, he's done a number of things that are thoughtless, outside our boundaries and in one case deceptive. There hasn't been a clear run of consistency. Sure, there have been many many great actions and changes and considerations but every so often something happens that makes me feel insecure. So when we get close or have great times, he'll even notice that I close up soon after. The last incident (briefly checking out porn) was a short time ago (a few weeks) and yet again something I uncovered rather than something revealed. So it leaves me wondering, what else have I not uncovered, whereas his general demenour and openness to marriage websites and help would suggest that he does care and he wants us to support each other and work together to stay together. I still need to figure out if his personality is one I can believe in.

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    1. FOH,
      That's the thing with rebuilding a marriage. Sometimes the cheating partner (or both!) is/are still emotionally unhealthy. In the early days post-D-Day, my husband had to learn that even if he wasn't cheating, lying wasn't okay. Not about big things, not about small things. It had become so automatic to him, from a lifetime of it (lying to his parents, then to me) that it was a bad habit he needed to unlearn. Even now, I'll occasionally catch him lying about something silly -- like to a friend about missing an event, for instance. He'll say he wasn't feeling well when the truth was he forgot. It's always to get him out of "trouble". So I will still point out to him when he's taking the easy, deceptive way out rather than owning up to an mistake.
      So yes, you need to figure out whether your husband is capable of a healthy relationship, even without infidelity. Is he in counselling at all?

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  6. last week someone posted a link to an interview with Esther Perell that included a taped session with a CH & his BW about the H finally understanding for his wife to heal he needed to have empathy for her pain. It was very good. I think the concept worth a post of it's own. We discussed this in our MC session this past week and it was a small breakthrough.

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    1. BEG,
      We've talked on this site in a number of posts about how crucial it is that the cheater own up to the pain he's caused and be able to compassionately support the betrayed. But perhaps it's time to revisit it. Thanks for the idea.

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    2. Thanks Elle, in the link BG shared about 1/2 way through was a taped counseling session and CH who (like mine) did take accountability, but it was all the H saying 'I feel like $h!t for what I did', 'I have to live with what I did every day', etc. Esther stops him in his tracks and says you are still making it all about you, look @ your BW and say 'I can't even begin to imagine how much pain you are in'. BINGO! That is what I needed too. My H apologized right away, a few weeks later took accountability but it has taken us months of MC for all 3 of us to finally get to the eureka moment that I needed him to have empathy for me and supplement accountability with compassion. In other words accountability is necessary for healing but it is not the final step. That recording is an eye opener - I wish we could have had one of those appointments with her!

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  7. The biggest surprise for me is how much he holds himself accountable. I just did not expect it to that level. Most of the time when I bring up a trigger he feels the same. I think it has given us a closeness and commraerie. Almost a feeling of it is us against the world.

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    1. Hopeful 30, just so you know, I did see your post about considering suicide and I also went that route to the lengths you did. So glad neither of us made that choice. I have a hard time figuring out how to answer someone specific sometimes but I definitely wanted you to know that I heard you loud and clear and I am so glad you are still here. I get the same response from my spouse about how accountable he is. He has told me that every time he looks at himself in the mirror he feels regret and he knows that he is fortunate to have another chance. I had a major meltdown last night. It was ugly and I was brutal. When I get into that zone I don't believe a single word he says and I can't even imagine that he has a soul. I am the one who posted the podcast from Esther Perel and it is on sex addiction cheating. My therapist sent me the info and I've listened to it a couple of times. My husband needs major improvement in that area. He is not going to counseling but I am. I would love to get him back even for one session so he could hear that in her office. I did tell him that is what I needed. He is selfish and doesn't want to ask me how I am doing because it hurts him too much. (insert a line of curse words here) I told him that he needed to find support for himself so he could support me because I could only be his wife and not his therapist although he says he gets more "therapy" from talking to me. I can't wait for the feeling that it is "us" against the world. How did you get there? I still have a hard time believing him when he says he won't lie to me again and he won't ever do anything to hurt me or us again. Actually, sometimes I do believe him but that feels way too vulnerable at times.

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    2. Thanks, BG - I'll hunt for that link again, it was very beneficial.

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    3. Beach Girl,
      I'm going to watch that Perel video.
      But I wanted to comment on your husband's refusal to go to counselling and, instead, using you for therapy. It's good to be able to talk these things over but you are NOT a therapist. And to put you in that position isn't fair to you and isn't good for your relationship. He needs to work out his own stuff. I get so frustrated with people who avoid their own pain at the expense of the person they hurt. While it sucks to hear how someone is struggling because of something we did, we owe it to that person to listen. It's like those victim impact statements in court. We need to be able to express that to the person who hurt us. And that's something therapy could help him deal with.

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    4. Thank you Beach Girl for your reply! It means the world to me. Lately I am struggling with a lot of resentment towards my husband. He brought up one couples trip we took long ago. One of his friends threatened to send his wife home. He brought that up just the other day. I told him I did not want to talk about the trip. At that time he was heavy into both affairs, IM'ing at least a dozen women (or least people pretending to be women), active on his secret fb page and his secret email. When I tried to talk with him about anything level headed he turned on me and told me how I was being too sensitive, too emotional, worrying too much, not having fun, and I needed to change. I am not sure if he understands that long term damage he has done. It goes so far beyond the cheating. That is just another layer for me. And I sure he was acting that way since he was being defensive and telling himself all those negative things about me otherwise how could he justify all of the things he was doing. But when I said I would prefer not to talk about it since we were on our way somewhere and going to arrive soon he turned it back to this other couple and said imagine how she felt and feels today. I almost lost it on him. I am still struggling. This is how he has always been. I feel like he is more likely to empathize and worries more about others. I could care less about his friends wife honestly. So what he is a drunk and a jerk. I continue to bring up who he surrounds himself with. And another case I told him I did not want to spend time with one of his friends. I do not like how much he lies in all aspects of his life but especially to his wife and he does not treat my husband like a friend. And he told me he is trying to see him in the best light.

      In general it is just bringing up a lot of resentment towards him. I am resentful too that he refused to go to therapy with me or go himself. My therapist has told me he doubts my husband would benefit due to the level of his training he would most likely go through the motions. This is becoming a real struggle with me and causing me to push him away and to distance myself.

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    5. Hopeful 30, I hear you. Honestly, other than not going to therapy, my husband is probably doing pretty well overall. Today is our 2 year D-day. I'm actually pretty calm. I've been thinking that this day is both the best and worst day of our lives. I asked him if that is how he felt this morning and he said, "yes". Your spouse is deluding himself if he thinks he doesn't need therapy just because he is a therapist and your therapist is way off base saying that your husband would not benefit because the truth is we all benefit from therapy and your husband just doesn't want to look at himself deeply. I am also a clinician but have a specialty that is not in marriage so when my husband has said over the past, "you know this and you understand this" I just say, "No, no I don't because you know that my area of expertise is ---". In reality, all of my colleagues have been in counseling and many continue to seek professional support because of secondary trauma. My husband did see a therapist early on and feels like he has a good handle on himself but after listening to that Ester Perel marriage interview it is clear to me that until and unless our spouses hear a professional tell them what they are doing incorrectly and teach them how to respond properly to our pain, it will be a long road. My husband has said he would go back to counseling if I wanted to and he has also said he has not ruled it out in the future but his shame and remorse is deep and he has admitted to still thinking about suicide at times. I'm working on how to meet my own needs when I fall into a funk. When I find myself feeling resentment about my life with him I try to change the focus and often succeed in seeing things that I would not have done or experienced without our partnership. Things that do not include marriage intimacy. Things like all the places we've gone, the family we have made and my advanced education. Those things required two of us and many of the things in my past were only possible because of his income and job because I lived away from home three days a week to complete my graduate work in a specialized field. For two years he did not travel as he had to take care of our three school aged kids. It was a good experience for him and the kids although it was stressful. I put my life on hold when he went to grad school so he could focus while I picked up the slack at home too. So in the big picture we were there for each other many times. I have no suggestions for you except some that I might not be able to take myself. Today, I feel calm and accepting of the imperfect man I married whose life with a domineering, angry and strict father and narcissistic, neglectful and manipulative mother gave him a terrible foundation for life. I didn't cause it and I can't fix it but I do understand how he, as a young child, came to the conclusion that he was on his own for everything. He and I both have high ACES scores and when his ACES met my ACES, it wasn't pretty. He has told me that he feels ashamed about his past behavior and always felt ashamed. He never wants to go there again and it is known that there are many other paths to take if life gets stressful for him again. He doesn't drink much anymore and has not been drunk since D-day. I'm not sure how many times I've read every single blog post on this site but they always help me when I go back to read/reflect. Wishing we could sit down often together, you and me. Love you and hugs too.

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    6. Hopeful 30, look at how many therapists have a therapist - Brene Brown, for example, writes about her sessions with her therapist in her books. I am in health care (but not specifically mental health) and so my H tried to convince our MC in one of our first sessions that because of my training I had the knowledge to game the system and make it seem like I was mentally healthy and he was not. Give me a break!

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    7. Hopeful30,
      This seems to be a recurring situation in your marriage -- your husband's difficulty truly acknowledging the pain he has caused you. There's a disconnect there that you pick up on and it's getting in the way (rightfully so!) of you being able to move past this.
      My husband tends to be like yours -- he has great empathy for others' pain because he didn't cause it. It took a lot of years (and prodding by our marriage counsellor) to be able to really take responsibility for the pain he brought to me and to be able to let me feel it without turning away from it, without minimizing it, or deflecting it.
      You've noted a few times that that's still a real stumbling block for your husband. He seems to pay lip service to the pain he's caused you but when you bring it up, or set parameters (such as not wanting to discuss a certain situation for whatever reason), he struggles with that.
      And that, in a nutshell, is why I think he needs to see someone. He's masterful at tucking his behaviour away and dismissing your pain. Even your concern about his "friends" is legitimate and your concerns should be listened to and considered. Instead, he plays it off as if he's being magnanimous by seeing the good in them. I suspect that by hanging around ne'er do wells, it makes him feel a bit better about himself.

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    8. Wow Beach Girl, This was really helpful for me to read today:
      "When I find myself feeling resentment about my life with him I try to change the focus and often succeed in seeing things that I would not have done or experienced without our partnership."
      I've been struggling a lot with resentment lately, and this really helped me re-frame. Thanks!

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    9. Thank you everyone. This really is the such a welcoming place. I take every word you say to heart. We started talking briefly today but ran out of time. For him when he is not with me he feels such guilt and worries about me so much. Good for him he sees the damage and knows what he did was so wrong. I told him I am not worried about any transgressions at this point. I am focused on the bigger picture of his ability to make quality decisions, watch out for himself and follow my boundaries. Even if that means he is out of town I do not want him calling me sad and upset he is not home. I told him he can take any trip he wants but I cannot stay married to someone that does that. If he does not want to go on the trip then don't, if he cannot drink the don't etc. I do think that it would be helpful for him to see someone to address this. From what I can tell all of his decisions, reactions and behaviors are all out of guilt and worry over me. I am far from acting upset at him. I have reasonable expectations. More conversations to be had tonight. Thanks again for the support, ideas and positive thoughts.

      Beach Girl thinking of you on year two of dday.

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  8. Elle and all, I have to tell you something. More than 25 years ago, in my first marriage, I developed a crush on a guy that I worked with, believe me, it only went one way. He had no interest in me. Thank God for that.

    I don't know if I would have done anything. i've had other opportunities since, but now I know what to look for and what to avoid, and realize that to cheat would have been a series of steps--nothing "just happens" I put both my senses and actions into play and make sure nothing has a chance to escalate.

    I was on the phone back then, with a lifelong friend of mine making this "crush" confession, when my husband walked in. I was 1000 percent certain that he had heard my conversation.

    What did I do? I RAN (i was a runner back then) I had already ran a few miles, had just come home and it was not long after, that I thought he overheard this phone call I ran again although I was exhausted.

    I ran as long and as far as I could.

    I had FEAR of being found out and GUILT that I actually talked to someone about this crush, that I even had one, even though it never amounted to anything.

    I was so absolutely ashamed of myself that I did not know how to come home, how to look him in the eye.

    And that was something in which nothing developed.

    How in the world could anyone live with the not just the guilt--the reminder of the worst thing they have ever done, daily, hourly, minute by minute. I'm guilty of putting my current H thru hell, and for good reason, but, when I think of that day of my own, and I've had plenty of time to think about it, I think I would have crumbled had I been discovered, not even acting out, but just having those thoughts and him hearing them.

    So I give my H credit for even coming home to a house of torture (built by me, who FELT tortured) after what I found out he was up to and putting up with me some days when I held on to my "hatred" for what he did, reminding him that HE was the one who did it.
    I really often wonder why he did not run too.

    I asked him once, if i never brought it up again, would he still remember? Like your husband Elle, he told me he would never forget the pain he caused.

    His 2nd fall I guess he just brushed away how hurt I was, and that he caused it, and this episode was 100 times worse than the first. but finally, I think I know now that he does live with that pain every single day whether he shows it or not.

    That conversation with my friend? My husband never heard it. and yet 25 years later, I still remember the guilt and fear and how horrible the thought of hurting him was. And every bit of it was my doing.

    He never even knew.

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    1. Steam, Listen to me girl, I don't know what you are feeling guilty about. (hope I didn't just minimize your feelings, sorry). Being attracted to humans we are not in relationships with is totally normal. Even having fantasies is totally normal and healthy. For real. Read Esther Perel on this. It's what you do with it that matters. You didn't act. You didn't break any promises. Honest. You need to please stop beating yourself up over this.
      If it did anything for you, it was to help you understand what he might be going through from a guilt and shame perspective. But I'd suggest letting yourself off the hook just a little. Your line "how horrible the thought of hurting him was" is really telling. You're a good egg, Steam. There's even a little segment in the book "not just friends" by shirley glass where she gives an example of a woman who confesses a crush on a coworker to her husband and it ends up being a really productive conversation. For you, the almost being overheard was enough of a wake up call. Some people have that near miss and keep going, as all the women here can attest. I can understand the fear and guilt at the time, totally normal human reactions. But it is long in the past, it is not who you are now, and as you say there have been other "opportunities" and you've intentionally avoided them. Be kind to yourself.

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    2. I think some of us are born with guilty consciences (and others, well, are not). When I was a kid, I was with my brother and some other kids at a gas station where we were buying junk food. As we were leaving, the wind caught the glass door and it slammed shut behind me. The glass shattered. We ran like hell. And I, the last one out, barely slept for weeks. Every time the doorbell rang, I thought it was the police to arrest me. I did nothing wrong. But that didn't matter. I was sure that it SEEMED as if I had done something wrong and that was enough to make me feel horrible. I couldn't even tell my parents.
      Fast forward a few decades and what put my husband and me into counselling wasn't my suspicion that HE was cheating, it was my admission that I had become attracted to someone else. I knew this did not bode well for my marriage.
      So...guilt, when it guides us toward healthier, more honest behaviour, is a good thing. But guilt and shame, when it leads us to hide ourselves and our actions, to respond impulsively to numb ourselves to it, is toxic.

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    3. I understand what you are saying completely. And of course you did nothing wrong never acting on it. But I think about it all the time how did my husband live like this for 10 years and how is he still okay with himself. I know he feels it based on how he lives, what he says and his actions. But what I have determined is we are two very different people. We were raised so differently I found out much too late to make a difference. I can tell my kids from way before they were teenagers knew what he did was wrong. They are mortified and hardest on themselves. They do not need anyone to tell them what is wrong. He pushes the envelope and watches out for himself first. He has said he was screaming in his head "no do not do this, this is a huge mistake" as he was kissing both of his affair partners. He knew it was wrong but he wanted to do it, he deserved it...

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    4. Hopeful-true. I do wonder how the hell he did it for as long as he did. God. How can they do that? Come home daily just covered in lies. Whereas me? I ran. Could not live with the guilt. And I did nothing. And wonder if I would have if given the chance.

      I don't beat myself up and I'm not consumed by the guilt. I just think I know that for most, including our husbands--most of them, they have GOT to feel some guilt whether we remind them or not.

      I have missed the Esther Perel video but while looking for it I have found I can listen to her audio series "where should we begin" on "audible" for free through Amazon prime. There may be other ways to listen and it's worth researching if you don't have Amazon. . Two chapters have me enthralled. One is "I've had better" but the third one "the addict" had me exclaiming out loud while listening in my headphones. I can't even give it justice, except to tell you it's a couples therapy session and the man has been cheatinging for most if not all of their married life. It's obvious both partners are committed to healing, and yet it's STILL so difficult. I have some issues with Esther Perel for sure. But her approach is mostly brilliant. We are so not alone, all of us here. There are people in every corner of the globe who go through this. And we here are lucky to have found each other.

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    5. Steam, For me seeing how this still affects him is revealing. He is hit by pretty much every trigger I am. He shows it differently. He keeps it in. But if I bring it up he jumps in "me too". For me I try to bring up what I can in advance it helps me and I think helps him too. But guilt and shame is hard. He said the other day he is starting to feel better about himself. He is gaining more personal insight, using it for better and also making better choices he is happy with. That is the key I told him I do not want him making choices just to make me happy. But he is finding if he makes good choices then he is happy and I am too.

      I am going to look those up on Amazon Prime. Thanks for the tip. They sound really interesting. I wonder if we could have a tab for links or suggestions for links to podcasts, websites, books, audio files really anything like this. It can be hard when I see it in a post and then forget to write it down. Just an idea.

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    6. Steam, thank you for the post about Esther Perel's audio series. I listened to three of them yesterday and the latest one that came out today. I was most impacted by "I've Had Better". Hearing the wife say how much she had given up for her husband and how his actions flew in the face of that felt familiar to me. But I also heard a lot that hit home in "The Addict". My husband had a porn addiction that developed somewhere around 8 years into our relationship but never acted out with another live human except the OW. Who knows how it would have progressed if he hadn't been found out. Hearing another person explain the addiction and the compartmentalization was helpful to me. It was one more reminder outside of the BWC telling us we're not alone.

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  9. I'm coming up on the first anniversary of D day. I'm in a better place due to the love and support of friends and family,my therapist and doctor. Am actually weening off the antidepressants. I even had a friend comment that it was good to see my genuine smile. But my fear is that he sees my moments of happiness as his moment to cheat again. He has given me no reason to believe he is cheating again. I have pondered writing that sow a woman detailing my trials and tribulations this past year, but have decided against it. It would be too negative and not helpful for me. I have not ruled out sending her boyfriend a note (I told him everything) to just check on him and to encourage his journey forward. Also to remind him that even if our relationships don't work out,(we both stayed with the cheating €%=÷÷÷×s) we will be fine, there is nothing to fear in being alone and we deserve better. Still haven't made up my mind. I thought I would never smile or laugh again, but am finding joy in life again.

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    1. Anonymous 3:51AM, I wrote the COW a very long letter. She was a relative so not only was I betrayed by my CH, I was betrayed by an in-law. I was 99% sure I wouldn't send it when I wrote it, but writing it was cathartic for me. I shared the letter with my MC & she encouraged me to have my H read it and he did. I never sent it. I think ultimately it was my H who I needed to read it, not the skank COW who clearly has no conscious anyway about the life-long ramifications of her solicitation of my H on an entire family, including innocent children. So I say write those letters, share them with your counselor if you have one but don't send them - appearing as if sow no longer matters to you or your H (which doesn't mean you don't still have pain) diminishes any appearance of power on her part.

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    2. Anonymous,
      Much of the time, those of us who've survived betrayal, can have post-trauma symptoms. That fear of it happening again (even when there's no evidence it is), the hyper-vigilance, the fear of letting our guard down by beginning to enjoy our life again...
      If you're not in treatment, I would encourage you to find a therapist. And frankly I would discourage a letter to this woman's boyfriend. I think it's best to cut that part of your life off. Though I like Browneyedgirl's idea of writing the letters and then sharing them with a therapist or even tucking them away in a drawer.
      Do your best to heal from this. Be gentle with yourself as you work through the post-trauma.

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  10. Wounded. You said a mouth full. Yes, we must let ourselves off that hook. I love this. I am holding on to this today.

    I'm not interested in keeping him in the hook. I'm not interested in punishing him at all. I dint think I ever have. He knows the pain he caused. He's worked hard to help me with it. Has he done everything. Um no. But I know he's fine everything he's capable of doing. And I can't measure his efforts by what I know but by what he is capable of. I've learned to accept his shortcomings as I am sure he's accepted mine.

    But life is good 😊

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  11. Elle - such beautiful words! And like others have said just what I needed right now! We are just over a year out from Dday, but as I have written here before, it was a long year because he still works with OW. It looks like it will remain that way for the foreseeable future and while it is hard for me - so, so hard - there are reasons why I haven't forced a move from him. The best thing that has happened just this week is some real self reflection in my husband that has not been there this entire year of healing. I finally forced the issue of going back to counseling and after just one session alone he really really has made some improvements. He opened up to me the night after his session to thank me for staying with him - for all the years he was emotionally unavailable and unable to be and that I stayed, even when he knew he wasn't being there or connecting. It was a real eye opening moment for both of us. And then in a joint counseling session - we just had some really good connection points that have given me the hope that I needed to continue in this marriage. Hope that I don't think I have had at all since dday. Hope that I desperately needed. But related to this post - in counseling I realized how fearful he was of me leaving now than he was a year ago. How he doesn't forget what he has done to me, to our marriage, or how he hurt me. Having a moment of hearing him say "when you said to me a year ago - NEVER AGAIN, not with her (OW) or with anyone - NEVER AGAIN - I don't forget that. I think of it EVERY DAY." He had never said that to me before. And it was an eye opener for me that while we still have a lot of work to do, a lot of healing, a lot of communication skills to build - maybe I don't actually need to keep reminding him. Does that make sense?? We are not out of the woods yet, but I feel we are in a clearing. Finally, the other thing that helped me was I met with the counselor alone first, then my husband did, then together. We had seen this counselor a year ago but then stopped going. Anyway - the first thing he said in our joint session was that in our individual sessions we both said the same thing - that this marriage is what we want. We want to work this out with each other - we want our family and our future - together. I have hope. And realize that I can let BOTH of us off the hook just a bit! Thank you!

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    1. Jules, beautiful. Just beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

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    2. I love stories like this, Jules. I'm glad he really recognizes what he stands to lose.

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  12. Elle, beautiful words that I need at the moment. Dday for me was 21st February 2016 when I was looking for a picture in Dropbox only to find photos and videos of H naked and videos and photos of naked OW who he was "playing" with online.
    I later found out that this was just the beginning. His "innocent" trips to China were anything but and he told me he was in love with the woman he was visiting (she was originally teaching him Chinese via WeChat). He is 61 she is 39, divorced with a 12 year old son. We have been together 45 years married for 40 of these. I was completely devastated by his revelation. He promised her he would never leave her as she had been hurt before by her ex. He has told me time again that the relationship will end, she will get fedup of waiting for him but that hasnt happened and last October it became a sexual relationship I found Cialis tablets in his bag and he admitted he had had made love to her. I have since discovered the videos he took of their coupling. Who videos himself getting a BJ and having sex with another woman? At this time I thought we were getting our marriage back on track. He seems to think because we are in different countries he can keep both relationships going. He says he loves me and if he didnt want to be with me he would have left. We have just been to Singapore for our 40th wedding anniversary and we are going to Germany for Christmas he us very attentive but I just cant shake this feeling of it is the beginning of the end. He tried to finish with her when we came back from Singapore but she phoned him crying saying he promised not to leave her she had noone to turn to so it is all back on again. He says she would love to have what I have got instead of just seeing him a few days a year.
    I am at my wits end, I am beginning to think I have got this whole thing out of perspective. Am I being unreasonable to expect him to end the relationship?

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    1. Kiwichick, are you being unreasonable????? Who the heck put that into your head? Honestly, years before he met this broad he promised to stay with YOU. What the hell is he thinking? Why is he's waiting for her to walk away, and get fed up? It's about time he found his scrotum, grabbed it him self and ended this thing. I am just sick for you. if he wont give her up, it's time for some ground rules that you set. Of course he wants to stay, he gets his cake here and is eating it too somewhere else. That's vile. and he didnt "make love" to this woman either. Who is taping this stuff? I'm just sick for you, I am sick. But you have GOT to put your foot down, or where his sun don't shine. Get your ducks in a row in case he doesnt get his sorry ass into therapy and find out what is wrong with him. Because this is very very wrong. I call BS on your husband. I really do. I am so sorry. Do not think for ONE second that you are being unreasonable. You're at your wits end for all the right reasons.

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    2. Kiwichick, Steam is right! You can not 'share' your CH with the OW. I think you need to give him an ultimatum that if he wants to try to earn you back that he will call OW with you on speaker phone and simply say "I am committed to my wife, never contact me again". Period. He needs to block her phone #, her email, etc. and prove it to you. Give you access to all his passwords & devices. I am so sorry for what you are going through. Set clear boundaries for NC and what the consequence will be for violating it.

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    3. Kiwichick,
      There is not a woman on this site who would think you were being "unreasonable" to expect the man who promised you fidelity to actually be faithful. He is the one being incredibly "unreasonable" and, I would argue, emotionally abusive to you. To expect you to put up with this is cruel. To not feel compassion for the pain you're in is cruel. He is an incredibly cruel man who, I've no doubt, has convinced himself that this woman "needs" him in a way that you don't, therefore it's okay to emotionally abandon you.
      You get to set the boundaries for any relationship you're in. ANY relationship. If you don't want him with other women (which is pretty much what most of expect of our partner), then you don't have to put up with it. Doesn't matter what anyone else things, YOU get to decide what you do and do not want in a relationship. Your husband gets to decide what he wants. If you don't match wants, then it's virtually impossible to have a satisfying marriage.
      I think your husband is a classic cake-eater. He wants what he wants and he doesn't want anyone telling him he can't have it.
      Well, too bad.
      Kiwichick, I want you to find your self-respect and start insisting on what you want from him. I suspect he's trying to get away with as much as he can get away with.
      And then, I want you to really think about what YOU get out of your marriage. Not just the longevity but the day-to-day relationship. How does he make your life better by being in it? See what you can come up with.
      And I'm sorry if I sound harsh. I want to smack your husband hard. But please know that I'm so sorry for what he's putting you through. You do NOT deserve this treatment. And I hope you know that.

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    4. Kiwichick: Unreasonable? Certainly not. If this man does not recognize how broken you are and immediately start searching for every shattered fragment to repair you, he isn't remorseful. If he doesn't move heaven and earth to save you from drowning in a nighmare he created, he doesn't deserve a second chance with you. None of these things include giving a flying #!$@ about the other woman. What the hell is he thinking?

      You take care of you. You deserve and should settle for nothing less than a man who is willing to own his bullshit and work to correct it.

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  13. Hi, this is all new to me, not just my husband's affair but posting on the internet, I'm not very good at it. I have only scratched the surface of what you say on this brilliant website and will read more when I have time, but the above resonates so much with me. The trouble is, all the information I read, here and elsewhere, seems to relate to a relationship where the couple are staying together. My husband has declared this is the end, but he wants to stay in our house, as there is another house he can move into, but it's not ready until next summer 2018. We have two beautiful children (14 and 15), they know nothing yet and the decision of whether I make my husband leave this summer or can put up with him til next is left up to me. I have to decide the future. Neither of us are shouty types, I don't think the children are aware of anything at all. Only a couple of our friends know, and that's about our marriage problems for the last few years, not about his infidelity (one of my friends knows about that and she keeps me sane). I feel like I am dying inside, although our marriage was faltering already, mainly due to pressure of life, work and lack of communication. My husband has the lowest EQ of anyone I have ever met, sometimes he really doesn't understand what he's done and how it can hurt someone, but there are also plenty of times in the last few years where he's been given the tools to help him connect with me and the children rather than work work work all the time (we've been to counselling) but his lack of empathy is really hard to deal with.
    Sorry this is waffley, I just need to know how to deal with my emotions at the moment. My friend and the counsellor (who I went back to see on my own) can't believe how calm I am being in this situation (I found out about affair in March, found many details subsequently, he has been phoning her for an hour at a time for months and admitted he has slept with her and even admitted part of him is waiting for this relationship to end so that he can begin a relationship with her!). I feel so desperately sorry for my children. He is willing to tell them about his affair, and part of me feels they need to know the truth, I am a stickler for the truth, but worry that if I just put up and shut up for another year until he moves out, the emotional roller coaster I'm on won't stop and ultimately what message does that send the children when they eventually find out. Part of me wants to shout about his infidelity from the rooftops, but of course I won't. Help me get through this. I know the end of our 25 year relationship (17 years married) is coming and he's just sitting waiting for me to get my head around it, it seems so unfair - I am a mess. Any advice much appreciate. Thank you for reading xxx

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    1. Anonymous 6/10
      The emotional roller coaster that you speak of is what we've all been on. It's so very hard. I kept the secret from my kids, so I though. My H and I argued in private for well over a year and pulled it all together when all of us were together. Thing is...they know the two of you and can pick up on body language and much more. So if you feel like you are protecting your kids, you are somewhat, but they know something and they feel something and they are more than likely riding the sidecar of the rollercoaster.

      My daughter knew and for the 9 months that I hid it, she knew pretty much for 6 months of that. She picked up on clues herself when she was with him (as a 15 year old) and noticed that he was overly cautious and protective of his cell phone. She started to cut :( That was her way of dealing with things. Oh, the pain I endured over that. I took her to counseling and got her the help she needed. It was a very long process that I wish I could have prevented, but I did not know she knew.

      The anger that my H had for about 4 months prior to my discovering the affair, was apparent to myself and my 15 and 17 yr old. My son especially would pick up on that he was very short and impatient all the time. He didn't have much time for us, and seemed unhappy around all of us.

      They are anything but children at that age and can figure things out. I tried so very hard to be upbeat, pull myself together and be strong for them when he was totally breaking my heart. When my daughter finally approached me and blurted it out one day... I paused to figure out how to answer and protect and in that lapse of time she fell to her knees. She was harboring the thoughts for months and didn't know what to do with her feelings. She figured she couldn't talk to me and so the cutting began. We cried for several hours and talked things through on her dday. She had an angry talk with her father as well. She told him that she would figure out when and IF she would trust him ever again. She's a daddy's girl and he broke her heart too. He took this very hard. Probably harder than his reaction when I found out.

      You need to do what is best for you and the kids. Try not be on the roller coaster too much longer, as you deserve so much better. It's hard enough when the H cuts off all contact and commits to the marriage...that rollercoaster is rough for the BW to keep it all together and deal with triggers/emotions/etc.

      I'm really sorry he is doing this to you. Wish I could hug you. It's such a hard and painful thing to go through. Talk with your friend/counselor and make a plan to exit the rollercoaster. If he sees you walking to the exit sign, possibly he will understand fully. He may be banking on you staying while he figures it out himself. Obviously he is not figuring it out, as he is willing to wait until 2018.

      Keep in touch and know you are in good company here. <3

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    2. Anonymous 6/10,

      I am so sorry that you have found yourself in this situation and glad you found this site for support. What do YOU want? Do you want to move on, do you want to see if it is even possible to reconcile? Is your CH sleeping in a separate room? Is his presence in the home helping or harming you? If he is still in contact with the OW you should insist that he go 'no contact' if he wants to live under the same roof as you. You aren't obligated to provide him housing while he continues to carry on with OW. I would make him call her on speaker phone with you in the room and tell OW that you are sitting beside him and that he does not want her to contact him again.

      I know it can be difficult to answer those questions for yourself. I myself struggle with them daily, my H wants to preserve our marriage and is actually doing all the work to make that possible, but I'm just not sure I want to be with him long term after all I've learned about what he was capable of in the past.

      I share your sentiments about telling age-appropriate truth to the kids, but you might not want to share too much too early (just incase your CH does all the things necessary for you to reconcile). My kids (just slightly younger than yours) know my H made some bad choices that have hurt me tremendously and that we are going to MC, etc. - in fact it was my H that told them the day after Dday to be kind to mommy if she was upset that it was his fault (but neither one of us have told the kids about H's cheating). However, if we ever do split I will tell them it is because their father had an A (they don't need to know the adult details). If you do decide to tell them I would recommend doing it together and planning what you will say as a parental unit in advance (maybe I'm paranoid but you never know if your H tells them alone if he might try to make them sympathetic to his cause: 'daddy just fell in love with someone else', blah, blah, blah) and maybe even make an appointment to see the MC as a family soon after if you do decide to tell them why you are separating (if it comes to that).

      You are right, the situation your CH has put you in is unfair. I wish I had better advice for you, I am only 7 mos from Dday myself and I change my mind about what I want almost daily. If you feel comfortable, the next time you post when you go to "Reply as: Select profile... use the dropdown and then select Name/URL an Edit Profile will pop-up and then you can give yourself a nickname, just leave the URL blank). You are among friends who understand.

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    3. Thank you all, I am overwhelmed by your kind responses to this dilemma. I have changed anonymous title to Katie73, my dog's name (73,year I was born)
      I must stress that when I said our marriage was faltering we had been having counselling for 8 months and problems for years before that (my husband says we have more of a brother/sister relationship). I think sadly the counselling highlighted our differences, although we still went in there saying we wanted to be married and be together forever, which was true on my part and his I believe. We have been together since we were children ourselves (well 18 and 17) and I guess people who have been together that long will grow apart to a degree, but I never imagined it would end like this (my husband had a lovely happy childhood, I am a child of divorce). When I saw the counsellor recently she said she could understand why my husband did this (he is a very simple male who likes to fix things and I can't be fixed apparently, he had probably realized our relationship was over a while ago and emotionally detached from it) but also said he should have ended our relationship before embarking on another. Husband admits he was wrong, but says our relationship was going to end anyway; it's just made it all the harder now this has been thrown into the mix, dealing with separating without an affair was going to be hard enough.I just can't imagine the moment we tell the children, my daughter will be distraught. I have considered just telling them we've grown apart, but if they ask if one of us has had an affair I'm not going to lie, I can't do that or they will never trust me again. A small part of me wants them to be cross with him, but in the long run that's not healthy. Another part of me says what if they end up living with him, that would break me, they are my life. The response from Heartfelt about how her daughter dealt with it really frightens me.
      We will either wait until their summer holidays (mid July) if we tell them this year, so they are not having to deal with it at school (my son is currently doing important exams) or it will by July next year, but not sure if my nerves can last out. What does anyone think about telling the children but him remaining here until next year, will that just completely mess them up?
      To answer your questions, what do I want? - I have no idea, living like this with my husband is probably not healthy for either of us, although sadly, back in January before I knew about his affair, I was making a real effort, something which my husband pointed out to the counsellor when he went to see her, saying I was bouncing about at home and happy, but he said that just made him feel worse - what therefore was I supposed to do? (turns out he had already started the affair at this point, well the talking part!!). I am sleeping in the spare room and hoping the kids don't notice (although wouldn't be surprised if my son has). I hate the fact that they might think that mummy doesn't love daddy any more, when actually I moved out of our bedroom because he said it would be easier if I wasn't there and also to give him some space to do what he needed to do (if you know what I mean! that sounds really awful and sleazy, but that's the reality).
      His presence in the home when the kids aren't here makes me quite anxious, but it has done for years, mainly because he might start talking about 'us' and admittedly I have avoidance issues that stem from my childhood (i.e, if something bad is coming, head goes in the sand). He is still speaking with her, seeing her and who knows what else with her, he's admitted that he wants to, but doesn't tell me much and I don't want to hear it, I was still hoping that we might have a future, but I have found some emails to her recently with lots of intimate chat and it breaks my heart that he can betray our friendship of 25 years.
      It's late and I'm waffling. I might write again when I'm being more coherent.Thank you again for your help.

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    4. Hey Anon 6-10, I'm so glad you've written and I am so sorry for the pain and suffering you've found yourself in. Our stories are incredibly similar. Married 17 years, together 25, two kids (14 and 17) and a soon to be ex (stbx) husband who can't seem to get his head out of his ass. Selfish, entitled, little empathy where it matters and utterly convinced that his "new love" was going to save him. <>
      You've gotten a lot of good advice from all the other ladies here.
      Definitely think about what you want and what is going to work for you. He doesn't get to just decide to live at home and carry on his "relationship" with the OW. In my opinion, if he's clearly indicated that he's out and he's just waiting until it is convenient you can tell him you want a separation and that he needs to find a place to live for the next year until the other house is ready. This will provide you with the space and distance you need to begin to recover from your trauma. Honestly, it is so hard living with the cheater who is just blatantly throwing their affair in your face. I know. I lived it for seven months. My stbx carried on his affair all while going through the motions of pretending to try and save his marriage. I lost 50 lbs in that time from stress and anxiety. You know when my weight stopped free falling? When he moved out. I agree with the suggestion that he can either go no contact and work on the marriage and stay or move out so you can begin recovery and move on. He doesn't get both. As one of the amazing ladies on here says "Your heartbreak, your rules."
      When we separated, we sat down with a marriage counselor and figured out how to present it to the kids so it would still present a united front for them. Decide on a tentative visitation schedule for the separation. My suggestion is that they remain primarily with you for the time being (and frankly this sets a great precedent for you if/when you get to determining custody). We sat down with them together. There should be no separate conversations by you or him, so that the information is consistent. They don't need gory details, just that you both agree that a separation is what is needed right now, that their will still get to live in their home (for now, don't worry about future stuff) and that you both love them and will continue to be in their lives. And then be done. It doesn't need to be a long drawn out dramatic scene. Make an appointment with a lawyer (most will give you a consult for free) and find out what your rights are and what you are entitled to according to the laws where you live. This helped remove a ton of the fear for me, because I knew I wouldn't end up living out of my car.
      Please keep seeing a counselor. Talk to your friend. Find things that fill your cup. (I started painting and running and I joined a volunteer group). Check out the reading list page. There are soooo many resources here to help you understand how affairs work and that what you are feeling and experiencing is normal given the trauma you are going through. Read Pema Chodron. Try meditation, changed my brain, helped me come to terms with the pain and hurt and lonely.

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    5. SS response part 2
      On your kids. They know something is up. There is no right answer in my opinion about what you tell or don't tell. But know that on some level they know. And it is often better dealt with than stuffed down. Be prepared for the repercussions and be prepared to let them have their feelings, (much intensified by the life stage and hormones). My daughter is still so angry with her dad. She felt the betrayal like it happened to her. I think this is common for girls (and why we sometimes go on to see this repeat in our lives later). She told him point blank that she didn't like him and being around him made her sad. (This is finally what shook him awake and he ended his affair. We are still divorcing btw). My son took a "head in the sand" approach but more recently has begun to process what happened. I can tell he's mad and disappointed with his dad. Especially as we approach father's day, I'm having to cajole the kids into planning something. My son gives me a sidelong look whenever there is any "greatest dad ever" type stuff on the tv or in stores. Its telling.
      So you may be feeling paralyzed and not sure what your next right step is. Take it one day at a time. Come back here for help. Read everything that Elle has written! and read the comments to see how your sisters here and overcome. I promise it won't always feel as bad as it does right now. And do please come visit on the separating and divorcing page when/if you are ready. Ask questions. You'll see women who are getting through this and reconnecting with themselves and living brilliant lives.
      Much love Anon. We've got you.

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    6. Hi Katie73, You sound so very thoughtful & kind. But maybe you are not being kind enough to yourself. Have you considered that maybe you are being generous to CH to a fault? If your CH needs space to do what he needs to do then that space needs to be outside of the family home. IMHO you need to make him choose (even if the two of you agree that the marriage will end in either separation or divorce next year) the choice is this: there can be NC with the OW while you are living under the same roof or CH moves out. It is incredibly selfish and disrespectful not only to you but to the children for your CH to continue to be knowingly unfaithful to their mother in their family home. You are not obligated to provide him friendship, food & shelter while he makes up his mind. Please put your needs first, it is healthier for your children in the long run to have a healthy mom. We are here for you!

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    7. Katie73, I'm glad you found us. And please don't think this site is just for those who chose to rebuild their marriages. There are many on this site who have opted to leave (or who have had that choice forced on them). All are welcome. We are all here to heal and move forward, whatever that looks like.
      While I admire you calm, I suspect it hides a mountain of pain. And your pain matters, Katie73. I know how concerned you are for your kids and that's no doubt a big part of your pain. But as much as it kills us parents, we can't protect our kids from pain in life. We can only promise them that we'll be right there with them as they go through it. And to show them that they will be okay. That it's possible to feel pain and heal from it. And that, no matter what, they are loved by both parents.
      I wouldn't tell them anymore than is necessary. It's tempting, I know, to not want to look like the "bad guy" and to let your husband own the responsibility. But I think, when possible, it's better to spare your kids the details. It's enough for them to know that marriages dissolve for many reasons and that you've decided to dissolve yours. But that you are both committed and united in loving them. And that you'll do what you can to mitigate any disruption in their lives.
      And then, Katie 73, figure out what you want. Forget whether it's convenient for your husband to stay in the house, what do YOU want? take some time to get clear on that. You don't owe him anything but honesty.
      And hang in there. You will get through this. Your kids will get through this. And, I suspect, the day will come when you're relieved to be rid of someone this emotionally stunted.

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    8. Katie73, I am sorry for your situation. I am shocked at the audacity of your spouse thinking he can stay in the house and carry on with his affair partner while expecting you to roll over and play dead. Years ago Marlo Thomas made a children's album and one song had a line that said, "some kind of help is the kind of help we can all do without" and honestly I can say that if my spouse wanted to live under my roof while carrying on with another woman I'd probably cut up all of his clothes, put his phone in the freezer, key his car, ask a friend with a firearm to take his computer out and shoot it and then put rat poison in his food. (All that without actually thinking about ways to harm him.) Your heart deserves better and so do your children. Please see an attorney right away. Find a good therapist. Know that you deserve so much better than what he is offering you. Get him the hell out of your house. Let him suffer and squirm and explain to the world why he can't live at home anymore. Welcome to the club nobody ever wanted to join. We've all been down dark roads we never thought we would go down. We were drug down those roads. Some of us are still married and working to build a better life with a spouse who says they want the same and others were forced against their will to find a better/different life. Some are still making decisions about their next best step as Elle puts it so nicely. We are all in pain at times. We are all seeking acceptance and understanding here and just knowing we have a safe place to "be heard" makes my day. Breath deep and accept our welcoming hugs.

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    9. Katie 73
      I'm so appalled by the very thought of him suggesting you remain roommates when he plans to carry on his affair and the children are still in the home! Omg! What a selfish piece of man he is! I'm so sorry you had to find this blog but believe me, we all understand how confused and conflicted this mess has caused us all to feel! I'm not going to say what is right or wrong for you but I do know that this situation can't be healthy for you or your children and I could care less about what your h needs at this time, it's not about him or his needs or his comfort! He made this mess and he needs to man up and help you through it and that can't possibly happen as long as he is continuing to pursue his ow! I'm so sorry you're in such a terrible place but you have got to focus on you and what you know will be best for your children! He's obviously still thinking with the brain between his legs or the dimwit would know how unrealistic it is to just 'kick the can' down the road for a year! I could barely stand to be in the same space for the first few months post dday and my h made it clear to me that he had ended his affair! I'm so sorry he put you in this situation! I know how hard it is to just breathe in those early days! Please do what feels right for you even if it's only temporary! I'm sending you hugs and will definitely send a prayer for your family!

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  14. Anon--you're doing great. You're posting great. No worries there. Keep it up.
    No No No. He cannot stay in the house if he's said it's the end. He can't. He can get his butt out of there and deal with the consequences. What is wrong with people, really. What's wrong with him? I am exasperated. Im not the shouty type either and neither is my H. but when I found out he had embarked on his 2nd D-day I kicked his butt out of the house that hour. that very hour. i didnt need to be loud about it either. He was welcome to leave, or he was welcome to come home, but he could not have it both ways. So let you get on with your life if he's done and make him get on with his. What a fool. leaving his kids for some woman who was happy to settle on a married man. There is no way your kids should deal with this for another year. Nor should you.

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  15. I am so sorry for your distress and what you are going through. Please talk things through with a licensed therapist. Believe me, they are used to people letting down in their office and it may be the only place that you feel safe enough to do so. Given your letter, it doesn't sound like your H would be interested in going to a therapist on his own but it would be the best thing, as many more men don't really open up in MC in front of their wives.
    Please keep reading all that's here. ALL of us have gone through similar experiences and you have a wealth of information and support to help you.
    You sound like such a lovely woman and a loving, caring mother. You are also stronger than you ever thought you would be. Take care of yourself and your precious children. The rest will sort itself out in time.
    Please keep writing,
    Carol, the First

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  16. Elle, thank you for this post. Occasionally we need reminders that moving forward isn't a failure or a free pass for those who have hurt us. We don't need to periodically self destruct and dig at scars to reopen them just as a reminder of what we have been through. It didn't take long into this healing process for me to learn that perpetual agony is exhausting. You can't change the past, so why live in it? It is ok to be happy. It is ok to forgive someone --- if they have earned forgiveness by their actions.

    Three years ago, going against everything I believed was right, I gave him a second chance. Now, I'm thankful every day that we gave each other another chance and worked to overcome the devestation that seemed insurmountable. I still have my times of doubt, who wouldn't? I still wonder how someone so amazing could fall so low and do what he did. I often wish that we could go back to the days when trusted completely. But those days are gone. We live, we learn, and we move forward.

    I have never felt so loved, and this love is stronger due to the fire we crawled through together to get here.

    My thoughts for those who have decided to stay: you obviously love this man and see some redeeming qualities in him, so if things are getting better, let them. If your husband is working his ass off to prove to you that he is a better man, let him. Sometimes people make mistakes and if they are truly sorry you will see it in their actions. It is ok to forgive and move forward without dragging the pain of the past behind you.

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    1. RT, What a lot of good things to think about, thanks! It sounds like you are living and thriving. I'm at 2 years and your perspective is helpful.
      'Perpetual agony is exhausting' YES! I'm looking back at it glad it's somewhat behind me, yet looking forward is a bit bleak. Looking for beauty and joy in the little things.
      About 'those who've decided to stay'. It often still feels like a daily choice I make, telling myself I will stay today, giving myself the freedom to choose different another day. I do feel a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day, praising myself for making it thru another day.
      Kudos to you and h for doing the hard work to get to the place you are today! Your words encouraged me!

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    2. random thoughts...June 19, 2017 at 8:24 PM

      Truth: Three years ago I didn't think I would be able to offer encouragement to anyone. Looking back at my early posts here I am reminded of how lost I was and how my emotions were all over the board. In the beginning it was a minute by minute choice...and then it became a daily choice. And then, somewhere along the line, I realized that I was at peace with my decision.

      Congratulations on your progress! Coming out of this nightmare and moving forward, whether you stay or go, is a win.

      I wish you all the best!!

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    3. "If things are getting better, let them." Absolutely. How often do we sabotage good things because we're so afraid they won't last. They won't. Good times don't last forever. Neither do bad times. That's life. And we can handle all of it.

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    4. RT, thank you for this. I truly believe H now loves me more than he ever has. He has changed. He is doing the work. He is accountable and repentant and I did forgive him. Problem is I can't un-know what he was capable of for so long in the past and that has changed my feelings for him. I don't feel like I love him anymore. I do feel like I could love someone new. I hope my feelings for H can come back. I can't look in his eyes and say I love you. Buying him a father's day card took me forever to find a card that was nice, but 99% of them are all gushy 'you're a great role model for our children'. Our wedding anniversary is coming up and I know I will struggle with that card too. I don't feel in love with him anymore. I've made the decision that I want to be a family, I don't want to share custody of my kids, I don't want a future other woman in their lives. I have weighed the pro's and con's and I think divorce would be worse. I just feel this huge void - the feeling of me loving someone back. I want to be in love again and I'm just not sure I can ever get that feeling back. Anyone else go through that? I'm 7 mos from the Dday of an A that H ended many years ago.

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    5. browneyedgirl

      I am so sorry for what happened to you and everyone else on this blog.

      I understand how you feel. You want to forgive him but you feel he's a stranger to you. You loved one man and discovered another in his place. Truly we are starting over with someone we don't know. It's a gamble. Honestly, in the early days I felt like a yoyo. I struggled with love and hate, disbelief and blaming myself, disappointment and inexplicable moments of hope. The range of emotions one goes through takes a toll and is exhausting. Nothing in life prepares you for the betrayal of your spouse. I'm not sure that we will ever be whole again but we can be happy again.

      I believe the doubts and emptiness you feel are normal right now. I still have days when I have panic attacks and pull away from him for no reason. Sometimes I look at him and wonder who the hell he was to be capable of doing what he did. On the other hand, this morning I told him what an amazing dad and husband he is and I truly meant it. Strange huh? Recovery from this nightmare seems to be very fluid but time will help you to become more clear regarding what you want. If he's truly sorry and truly wants you to stay, he will be patient and continue to show you through his actions that he is a better man. Give yourself time to figure out what you want. There is no right or wrong answer.....do what feels good in your heart and be happy.

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  17. Random Thoughts, thank you for your post. It is perfect. Today, I feel like your last paragraph is me. Looks great on paper and feels right in real time too.

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    1. random thoughts...June 19, 2017 at 8:33 PM

      Beach Girl: I hope things continue to be positive! Be true to yourself and take the time to figure out what will make you happy. Wishing you the very best!

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