Monday, February 2, 2015

Betrayal and Puppies: Nothing (and Everything) to Say

by Steam

I am one year and counting (or actually not counting!!) after D-Day.
I have little to say.
I can't find anything compelling to share.
Not a trigger that I faced and conquered or brought me to tears.
Not a stand-off with myself about snooping one more time.
Not a depressing day in bed.
Can you believe that? With just a little more than one year under my belt?

It was my husband's birthday yesterday.
I remembered how hard his birthday was last year. It came within a month of D-Day and although we were already in therapy and in the process of starting over, that birthday was a tough one.

Last year I bought him something on sale for $12.99 because a piece was broken and another piece missing. Nothing I would ever have done before. But last year it was "What to buy the man who's had everything (on the sly)?" He didn't deserve much of anything, in my opinion. I stayed. That was a huge gift already. Something broken and cheap with a missing part seemed to be appropriate, even thought it was quite beautiful.

But that memory I had yesterday of last year's birthday – and it was a true and real memory – didn't taint this birthday. Shocking huh?

Instead we laughed.
We laughed when I mistakenly called the ice cream scooper a "schtooper" and for the next half hour we said everything in a stupid and bad German accent.
Not even the word “schtooping” gave me anything but the giggles.
We have laughed a lot over the past few months. We are genuinely funny. At least we think so.
To add to the hilarity, we have been a bit under the weather for the last week or so, and Husband came down with some sort of of bug yesterday just in time for his birthday so the two of us have been schlubbing (or last night "shloobing") around in our robes. We were laughing at what we have become, which is entirely comfortable in each other's presence. At all times.
For his birthday dinner, since I was unable to run to the store and actually cook something, I heated up some frozen tamales and canned chile. I am not proud of that lame effort but it was surprisingly good for someone who needs three hours in the kitchen to offer anything resembling a good meal (H is the brilliant cook of the family).
We got into bed with our bowls of dinner and binge-watched The Good Wife until one of us would fall asleep and then the other had to wait or nap while the other got caught up.
It was one of the most intimate and comforting nights I can remember of the last few years. Rain was a nice that touch nature added.

It's probably my favorite birthday of all time.

Between the napping and the laughter, I realized that prior to D-Day we had not been laughing much at all. We were calm, I thought. And I told him nightly "you are my favorite place to be," which was the truth.
But the reality is we weren't really talking. We weren't laughing.
And in life, there is so much to laugh about.

We have added a new puppy to our already big brood of five pets. The puppy, even with her pee pads completely ruining any remaining aesthetic we have in our much-too-cozy (read: small) house, and her constant retrieval of things lost under beds and couches for years – lip balm, half-eaten rolls of Rolaid's and packs of gum, shoe liners, bras, underwear and socks – makes us laugh  all the time and we don't think of the dumping ground for lost dust-covered items our living room has become.

She found the rolaids when we were looking for them. 
So she's some sort of magic creature, obviously.
Or maybe just a puppy.
She is an endless source of entertainment but there is more...
It's the LOVE she has for our entire menagerie that is almost too much to bear, even though two of them are just not that into her
She is a reminder of optimism and fortitude and sweetness and pure joy of life and never giving up even when you are occasionally rebuked and feel unloved. 
She has eventually won over everyone with her persistence and her oh-so-ernest "I love you" face.

My therapist once reminded me that giving my husband a second chance showed that I was capable of “so much love.”
We are not idiots for staying. 
We are capable of love and are full of compassion and fortitude.
We must remember that. 
So why do I say all this, when I said I had nothing to say?
Because it CAN get better. Not that it necesarly will for everyone, only you know if this is the path for you. 
But it can.
With a willing husband, a willing you and a willingness to take this on together, without shortcuts and, in our case, with a brilliant therapist, I swear it can get better.
So much better than that horrible memory of that awful time. That memory can remain and take up just enough real estate in the brain to remind you of what you got through and where you are going.
That clearing of our heads leaves room for so many other good and wonderful and new things, things that push old crap out of the way, so you can have something so much different, and so much better.
Had you asked me if I thought, a year ago or even six months ago, this was possible, I would have given you a tearful, trembling but resolute "no, no never. No way in hell." 

It has never felt so good to be so wrong.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story and giving me hope. It has been a year and four months since D-Day. I have been a whirlwind of emotions ever since. Some days I swear that I am crazy because I have not gotten over it yet. My husband wanted me to be over it after two months went by and I told him I could which was a flat out lie but I wanted to tell him what he wanted to hear so he wouldn't leave again. I don't understand how anybody can say just get over it. He has since become more understanding to the fact that it will take time but still gets frustrated when I have my moments of sadness,worry and suspicion. We want to work this out more than anything but the constant setbacks that end in fighting and yelling and me throwing the affair in his face because I know it hurts him are killing our progress. All I want to be is the woman that I am reading about in your post and all I want is for my husband and I to be the couple that I am reading about. Neither one of us has done therapy however I have finally sought out some help and will be starting shortly. I am very apprehensive. I am scared that it will hurt us more than help us. I hear that happening all the time. I don't want the past year of us fighting for this to go down the drain.I just want to find peace and not be the woman who is always fearful of her husband stepping out again. I don't want to be the woman that is constantly wondering if she is good enough now for her husband to be faithful and completely committed to her. I'm tired of the insecurities getting the best of me and making me snoop and obsessing over the OW. I'm so happy to see that these seemingly destined for doom situations have a happy ending. I will try to keep the faith. Thank you again!

    1. Amanda,
      I'm glad you found us but sorry you've been suffering.
      There are a few things in your post that give me pause. For one thing, you still seem to have a notion that his affair had something to do with you not being "good enough" for him to be faithful. The truth is, he wasn't "good enough" to be faithful. HE is the one who should be examining his own value in the relationship because HE is the one who damaged it by cheating. What's more, his lack of patience with your healing process also makes me think he really doesn't understand just how damaging his behaviour was to your marriage. Nobody -- NOBODY -- gets over a spouse's betrayal in two months. Steam's account of where she is right now is fabulous. But she'd be the first to acknowledge that there are occasional setbacks. In fact, she wrote about one a few weeks ago. Part of how she's been able to get where she is, however, is that her husband has been incredibly open and remorseful and supportive of WHATEVER she needs to heal from his infidelity. That, in my mind, is the single best indicator that a marriage can not only survive but grow deeper -- a husband who fully and completely acknowledges the impact of their choice and supports his wife fully through her healing from it.
      And that includes therapy for him and/or both of you to get to the root of why he made that choice. Until he can understand why he did it (ie. what story was he telling himself that somehow made it okay), you're likely to feel uncertain and insecure about whether he'll do it again.
      I'm unsure why you have a negative view of therapy. It's not easy. Therapy forces many of us to look at events in our past that our impacting our present and lots of people simply don't want to look at painful things. But whenever women post on this site about discovering another affair -- five years, ten years -- after a first affair, it seems they simply decided for forgive and forget, rather than actually deal with why it happened. Not surprisingly, it happened again. There are, of course, no guarantees. You could go through therapy and he could still cheat again. But if he's truly committed to understanding how he could make such a choice, then he's far less likely to do it again. And you're far more likely to be able to trust that change in him is real and long-lasting.

    2. Amanda,

      You don 't say how old your children are but one critical thing I think is that therapy helps them as well as you and your husband. By walking out, your husband has changed the atmosphere of the family even if you think they are to young to know. They know because they can feel the tension. Kids don't thrive in tension, or yelling, or cold chilly silence. And raising your children project if you can a few years down the road. How will they deal with problems that come their way? A good question to ask yourself is do you want your kids to end up in a marriage like you have. One where they are constantly playing detective or walking on eggshells or playing needy child to the parental spouse that isn't a great goal in my opinion. When I stopped carrying whether my husband would cheat again I honestly was on the road to healing. When a marriage is broken, there is a new normal. The old marriage is gone but a new one with different expectations can happen. But it starts with you focusing on what's healthy for yourself, let go of the co- dependency model of making someone else happy and realize that self matters.

      Without sounding like a Hallmark card, I wish you some healing thoughts through reading, through therapy, and just the passage of time.

  2. Thank you for your reply. As far as why he did what he did: I am a firm believer in that in a marriage when things began to fall apart or turmoil happens, both parties are to blame in some fashion. I was 6 mths pregnant with our second child when I found out. I had a more difficult time with being insecure during this pregnancy versus my others. I would constantly be asking questions that were more like accusations in disguise. You know, "why are you 30 sec late?" "Why are you wearing that to work?" "Were you really out with friends?" At this point I will admit that there were not any signs of suspicious behavior that warranted these interrogations.
    Then....the changes in behavior that we all know so well began to happen. Going out more, coming home drunk, drinking more at home (to drown the guilt), phone in the pocket or upside down and then a password put on it.
    One night when he didn't come home again I had enough and figured out how to get into his phone account online. I saw a recurring number at all hours, so I called it and got her voicemail. My heart dropped, my legs were uncontrollably shaking and my world seemed over.
    Of course when questioned, she was "just a friend". Is that what they all say? A friend who is a secret to your wife? A friend whose text messages and calls you delete off your phone? Regardless of the secrecy of their "friendship" I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I thought "ok Amanda, maybe you're over reacting." "Maybe they are just friends and he knew you would flip out." HA!
    Of course I'm sure you can see where this is headed. Text messages still being deleted, phone with a death grip at all times, and the going out and drinking continued.
    A couples months later, October 17th to be exact (I hate that that date is burned into mind) he didn't come all. Sent a message saying he was sorry, he loved me and would see me after work the next day. Well, my detective skills were back in full force. Got into his phone account and saw every disgusting text message between the two of them for 2 mths. So many hurtful things I wish I could unsee but now they are there like huge flash cards inside my mind that every now and then Pop up as a cautious reminder....."Don't forget this Amanda." "Don't bring your wall down." "Remember?"
    A prisoner in my own mind is what I have become.
    Anyway, back to responsibility. I will accept responsibility for pushing him away, but it will never excuse how he chose to handle it.
    He has over and over accepted responsibility and apologized. Tells me all the time how much it kills him to see what his actions have done to me.
    She is finally COMPLETELY out of our lives. There is no contact and he is a complete open book. Phone, email, social media....i have access to all if I want. if he's gone, there is always contact and updates if he is running late. No more "my phone was charging in my car" or "I just looked at it 4 hrs after I've been gone." I mean....come on.
    So, I am very thankful and appreciative of his progress and dedication. I know it's probably wrong, but I feel guilty that I haven't made as much. I don't want him to feel like his efforts are pointless because I'm not moving along as quickly. They help more than he understands, but I get how my setbacks could make him feel otherwise.

  3. Dear amanda,

    I dont know how long you have been coming to this site. I got so tired of recapping my story that many people might not know about it. I landed her probably in January 2014, broken, heartbroken, shattered, shredded feeling I had no where to turn. I, like you discovered my husbands side action thru secret e-mail and facbook pages and I was more devestated than I ever thought possible. So please know that this progress we have made, KNOW please, t was not even close to a walk in the park, not even with rain, hail, a tornado thrown in for good measure and an earthquake kind of walk. Hell I could hardly walk at ALL.

    Like Elle said---this has NOTHING to do with you. My best "fall back" stories that practically PROVE its not about us are, when I was a kid a MIss America was cheated on--a MIss America!! the Ideal woman! I knew something was wrong with her husband I just KNEW. Another, Hugh Grant, who I adored, stepped out on Elizabeth Hurley, who I think at the time was just voted one of the most beautiful women in the world. If guys can't stick with THAT, then what in the world is wrong with THEM?

    I TOTALLY understand you tellling him you could get over it in two months even though it was a lie what I DONT understand is why so many of us is why we do things like that! (self included)

    What IS it in us that wants to spare them this “discomfort” after all we have been through? What in the world IS that? We are in pieces and STILL want to make them comfortable, when what they should be doing is FEELING the pain, right along with us, because—hmmm--who exactly brought all of this on again?

    I like you --as I brought up endlessly, the things I needed to know, asked Why 1000 times, asked How fucking DARE you, close to that--wondered at what point he would just get fed up and walk out. I felt like I was pushing him to it. I didnt really want to make him the UNCOMFORTABLE. With therapy AND my husbands urging, I didnt try to 'ride out the wave of uncertianty" i asked. It went from days of thnking about it, then down to hours, and then down to minutes, and then as SOON as something didnt feel "right" or something bothered me. I had YEARS of training to suck it up, so un-sucking it up-for lack of a better term was excruciating. asking for help was just HELL.

    The betraying spouses need to take a good long hard unflinching look at what made them do this. You feel like you pushed him? You know what a normal grown up would have said to you? “hey, you're being a bit bitchy, what's that about” but instead, he walked, so's not to have to involve himself, should your answer be “um, you're not around that much and I wonder what is up with YOU”

    What you want and what you feel are NORMAL things—and this is where a therapist will become invaluable. WHAT in the world and WHO in the world could ever have prepared us for this? No one! Getting help, i know is hard. But it was a huge peice of the recovery puzzle for me, and for us.

    I , I am sure like you would have bet the FARM that my H would never cheat. Shock is a complete understatement.

    You will find with therapy, that every crazy feeling is normal. That needing him to be transparant is NORMAL. I felt hopelessly greedy and bossy and controlling asking for these things, and I needed someone to say that I was right on the money to hold him accountable to what he promised—that he was sorry, that there was no contact, and that he would never ever do this again.

    So take a deep breath and get ready for a bumpy road, but you have seat belts and airbags and us--- and you are not going to get hurled into deep space.

    Please remember, all of us know WHERE you are or ARE where you are, so you really are never alone

  4. Steam- I sure hope I'm where you are when I hit my anti-versary. Thanks for the hopeful message. And thanks, Elle, for reminding me (as I wallow in self-doubt, low self-esteem- the whole package) for reminding me it isn't about me- it's about his issues. I'm in the middle of a BIG setback, and come to this site when I'm like this to find the reminders and the hopeful messages, as well as breathe a sigh of relief that I'm not alone, and that my feelings and stages I'm moving through are completely normal. That's probably saved me more than anyone can know.
    The women on this site are fabulous, Amanda- they have great insight and support us when we're down or stuck or not sure which way to go. This site is a life saver. I have a good therapist (as does my husband) and we're working our way through this. We tried marriage counseling for a bit, but the counselor wasn't a good fit. We're working on finding another- sometimes you have to try a few times to find the right one, but believe me, you'll know when you find her/him. This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, and it is definitely bumpy, curvy, and scary at times- that's why this site exists. To help all of us. I believe my husband and I will be better in the end...just wish I could figure out when "the end" is! ;)

  5. Amanda

    From ur description I'm willing to bet that ur husband's inappropriate behavior with other women (if not outright physical cheating) started earlier than u think. I know mine did. For years my husband has inappropriate friendships with several women, which laid the groundwork for my suspicions. Several books I have read indicated that often a Spode can tell if there is something going on in a subconscious level very early even if they don't realize it in their conscious mind. Also in studies, spouses can detect interest by the other sex & can detect flirtatious behavior by a potential affair partner earlier than their cheating spouse can if they witness these two people interacting. I'm willing to bet that ur increased insecurities during ur second pregnancy were actually sn effect of his cheating or moving towards cheating rather than u pushing him away.

    My husband and I didn't go to therapy. But I did read a ton of books, articles on line, & almost every entry on every blog of this site. I am almost 1 1/2 years post d day & overall much better but still have triggers & setbacks where I return to what has been coined crazy town.

    Initially he blamed the state of our marriage but a after I found out about a prior affair he had to admit that it was all his fault. An early midlife crisis in his late 30s where after having dated/ married to me for 10 years but only married for abt 2 he decided that having sex with this nurse at work who was throwing herself at him was his last chance. He never had a bachelor party. He was never popular with girls in high school or college. He had only slept with 3 other women before me (I hadn't slept with anyone else but my ego is not predicated on getting someone to sleep with me).

    You need to read. He needs to admit what he was lacking at the time and what he was trying to get out of the affair-- attention, fear of responsibility with another child coming etc. and what he will do so that it doesn't happen again when he feels that way again.

    I have repeatedly said to my husband what happens when u turn 50? 60? He always says been there done that he just doesn't want to sleep with anyone else anymore. He has learned his lesson. He has changed. So I have given him a chance to prove it.

    Stop blaming urself. It's all on him & u both have to see that for this to work.




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