Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Love Requires More of Us Than Just Showing Up

"Sometimes we stay in relationships that are unhealthy for us because of love, so we tell ourselves, yet when we really look at why we stay, we stay for other reasons. Security. Fear of the unknown. Fear of not being able to go it alone. Maybe I’ll never find someone else. We get other social currency out of being in the relationship. And so on. It’s not actually love if love is an action and you’ve ceased to perform it. If love were a feeling it would be a good start, but it’s not enough to build a healthy relationship. Love requires so much more of us."~Amy Jo Goddard, from her blog post "Love Is An Action"

Many years ago, before I met Mr. Elle, I was in what can only generously be described as a dysfunctional relationship. It went on for seven years. Most of those years were miserable. Why did I stay? Because I "loved" him. 
I loved him desperately. I couldn't imagine life without him. He was my sun, my moon. He was...Well, from a distance, I can now see that he was emotionally incapable of meeting my needs. He was self-absorbed. He was uninterested in my dreams. He had...issues.
But I loved him.
Yeah. Well.
Love, the stories and songs tell us, changes everything. It colors our black-and-white world. It gives meaning to our lives. It makes the world go round. Love is incredibly hard to describe without relying on clich├ęs. Let's simply say that love feeds our souls.
But what about when "love" is starving our souls. What about when "love" is giving someone permission to treat us badly. To lie to us. To toy with us. Love is something we feel, sure. But love, in a healthy relationship, is mostly something we show.
We show it by listening to our spouse complain about his boss even when we've heard it before. We show it by being on time to meet him at the airport. We show it by not eating the last cookie.
We show it by helping. By being true to our word. By ensuring that our needs don't always trump our partners. By listening. By holding. By being there, day in and day out.
"But I love him." We don't show someone we love them by overlooking their lies. We don't show someone we love them by not calling them out when they're behaving badly. We don't show someone we love them by letting them be their worse selves. That's not only how we don't show love to someone else; that's how we don't show love to ourselves.
And when we don't love ourselves, it's impossible to truly love someone else. 
So...what does that mean when we find ourselves married to someone who's lied to us, who might be continuing to lie to us, who gives us the "I love you but I'm not in love with you" (a phrase, incidentally, that is unadulterated bullshit), who says he loves us but refuses to give up contact with the OW, or says he loves us but just needs to "be sure" about staying in the marriage, or says he loves us but needs "time"?
We show him what love loving ourselves. We model loving behaviour by showing up for ourselves. We nurture ourselves. We respect ourselves. We take care of ourselves by refusing to let him set the rules for the marriage. We firmly make it clear that, if we choose to give him the opportunity, he can show us he loves us with his actions. By showing up in the marriage with his full heart. By accepting that his betrayal of our trust means new rules, and those will be set by us, the wounded party (my heartbreak, my rules, as Steam put it!) By holding us when we need holding and giving us space when we need space. And by helping us learn to love ourselves enough to make these boundaries clear and to make them solid. By respecting them. And us.
Next time you find yourself citing "but I love him" as the reason you're allowing yourself to be treated in a way that you would never treat a friend, ask yourself just what's so lovable about him. Ask yourself if he is worthy of your love. Ask yourself if you would have ever set him up with your sister, or friend. If the answer is no, then ask yourself why you're settling for someone unworthy of you. "We accept the love we think we deserve," is my daughter's favorite line from Perks of Being a Wallflower. She shrugs when she observes some of her friends in relationships that are fraught with drama and cruelty and deception. "They don't believe the deserve better, I guess," she says with uncanny 16-year-old wisdom.
None of us can un-do our partner's betrayal of us. That bell, as the saying goes, cannot be unrung.
But we can use this period of horrible shake-up as a chance to recalibrate our relationship not only with our spouse but with ourselves. We can take stock of how love has been expressed in our marriage. How "active" has it been.
And then we can begin by actively loving ourselves, our flawed, trusting, loveable selves. The other adults in our lives? They can start by earning it.


  1. What a beautiful post Elle. I totally agree. My grandmother used to say handsome is as handsome does. My husband and I always said we love each other. Even when he was cheating he said he loved me not them wanted to be with me not them (as another lady wrote blah blah blah).

    But now he doesn't only say it but SHOWS it: we had a snowstorm her in March on his birthday. Kids had a snow day from school. We both got home from work early but he got home earlier. As I drove up he was shoveling a path at the front door so the kids would have an ice free path to walk to the bus the next morning. For the past 10 years or so this is usually left for me to do. Not this year. And he did it without me even asking.

    When he sees I'm stressed in the evenings he will come over & ask me what can he do to help. Sometimes there's really nothing but just the fact that he asked is enough to calm me down.

    In the last 1-2 years he has helped me more with the kids than I ever remember pre d day.

    I think it wasn't that he didn't care before now but now he wants to show me he does care. He wants to make up for what he did. He wants to prove himself worthy. And it's a positive cycle. The more he does the more I thank him the happier he feels then the more he wants to be involved.

    As a matter of fact I once commented on this site, I'm not sure I would care as much if he cheated now because at least now he really seems part of the family & part of our lives. But I don't think he could cheat now. I think supporting a secret relationship/life requires so much physical mental & emotional work & energy that cheaters don't have any left for their legitimate relationship. One of my books said u can't fully support 2 relationships so usually 1 suffers.

    Who knows really whether he's cheating again. But at least joe I feel like I have his full attention. And THAT is what we deserve.


  2. Sam,
    I have a sincere wish and hope for you -- I want YOU to have HIS everything. (((Sam)))
    The parenthesis are my way of sending hugs...

  3. Elle,

    Again - You nailed it! You are spot on - 'love' is not enough.

    Thanks to a post you made a while ago I called the Infidelity Counseling Network yesterday. Today I got my own personal private Peer Counselor!!!! YAY YAY YAY!!

    I took 'Essie" (my car) to the car wash and was vacuuming away the yuck when I saw my phone screen light up. Thinking it was HIM I reached to push the reject button. Then I saw it was an unknown number so I called back. She said my name "Hello ****" and a certain calm came over me. I asked if she was from the Counseling Network and she said yes. I sat down in the car and we talked for about 20 minutes and I asked to call her back. She said she would be available whenever I needed to call.(Within reason of course) I finished with the car and drove home. I sat in the driveway and talked to her for about another 45 minutes. We laughed, she encouraged, I talked and talked and talked. I needed to talk - I've got to talk IT out of me. My therapist is pretty good but only one day a week. I had a severe episode of flooding this week and it was not time for the therapist visit because it was at 2 AM!! I would not call anyone at that hour. Talking to my Peer Counselor in the afternoon however was just what the doctor ordered.

    Folks -- if you are one who needs to vent (repeatedly) CALL!! It is free!! You can give donation, if you want, to help them continue the great work they do. When they assign you a Peer Counselor - she is YOURS!! You don't call and talk to different people. I have her cell and she has mine. You are NOT required to give your full name. This is for US ladies and each counselor is a survivor of this madness. They are not a substitute for professional therapy but I must say - MY PC sure did one hell of a job for me. Another feather for my wings...

    Thanks Elle for this WONDERFUL resource. Because -- Love IS NOT ENOUGH...

    1. Terry,
      That's so great. The woman who started that incredible resource is herself a refugee of betrayal. She's smart and talented and insightful so I'm not surprised that her volunteer staff are likewise. So glad it helped you.

  4. Wow. I feel like this was written for me. My h doesn't know how to do it. He doesn't know how to respond to me through the pain. It's only been eight weeks since D day and for a couple weeks already he has been much less attentive to our situation. His response to emotional pain, his pain or mine, is to pull away, withdraw, and avoid. He busies himself with projects and puts on a happy face, or he withholds affection, limited hugs, no text messages, ... Of course, at times I am crushed. If I express myself, he gives me time and tries to comfort me but it feels empty… It feels like he truly doesn't get it. It seemed as if he did in the beginning, in fact he did. Now, he compares my pain to the pain he felt when he was "breaking up" with the OW ... Realizing as he says that my pain is more, like he said maybe twice as much.
    Where are we now? Yesterday I found evidence that he had spent the night in a hotel with her. Something which he told me on three separate occasions that he had never done. It was also evidence that he actually had sex with her two weeks later than the date he had given me. (still within the appropriate timeframe from when we were tested for STDs.) Frankly, as much as the fact that they spent the night together, and had sex later than I thought, hurts, what is most painful is that he is still lying to me. When presented with the concrete evidence, a picture he had taken of the computer screen of the reservation, he denied it, said he had never gone to that hotel with her. I was away at the time caring for my ill mother. When pressed with why he would have a reservation there all he could tell me was "I don't know." Of course, I could not sleep last night. I had said to him that we would find it on one of the credit card reports - he said no you will not, because I never stayed in a hotel. So, last night I went on the computer and sure enough, I found it on the credit card bill. Not only the room rate, but a charge the next morning which was obviously breakfast. My two deal breakers when we went into this was no contact with the OW and continued marriage counseling he is doing both of those things…yet the pain of discovering another lie, lie right to my face… And the pain of him telling me he doesn't love me the way he used to… And the pain of him telling me that he's going to leave when we have an argument…I feel so truly lost. I cannot compartmentalize like he can…I am devastated, perhaps even more so today… than D-Day. I have a party at my house tonight… And family coming into town on Monday. I fear if we separate we will not reconcile. We have spoken of separation, yet we really don't know how, for financial reasons. Okay, I'm going to move forward the best I can. Any thoughts, insights, and support would mean the world to me. I am so very tired of the pain.

    1. Melissa,
      Of course you're tired of the pain. It's excruciating. And just when we feel the slightest bit of a scab forming over the wound, it gets torn off. I'm so sorry.
      Here's your short-term plan. I hope you've invited good friends to the jewellery party. Even if they don't know what you're going through, bask in their care and love for you. Recognize that support you have. And tuck that away in your brain. If they do know, then ask one or two to just keep you afloat for the night. That might be all you need to get through. As for family, do they know what's going on? Can you share with them? The more people you have holding you up right now, the better. But only share with those you can trust to support you without judgement.
      Put any plans beyond the 24 hours on the back burner for now. You can revisit them when your house is cleared of guests. Give yourself permission to just put one foot in front of the other for the next few days. Focus on the right now. Right now, you've got people around you who love you. Right now, you can sit with them and enjoy (well, sorta) a meal, or a glass of wine, or a movie, or some conversation. It might feel as if you're not really "there", like you sort of floating somewhere else. Don't worry. Your body and brain are in shock/survival mode. Just breathe. Trust yourself.

  5. Right again from my perspective, I have discovered more about myself and love this year than my entire life. My slate was wiped clean of what I thought about myself. My spirit and soul was stripped naked and I was left standing in an ice cold shower without a towel wondering what to do next. I took all the advice and waited until my emotions were calm. The affair makes you doubt everything about yourself inside and out. You doubt yourself and your capacity to love anyone again ever. What I did going forward was for me and me alone. There was so much to figure out about the way I love, what is really important and what is not. At first I was it was the I' ll show you how you good I am and make you see what you are throwing away. It worked for the first 6 months or so but then that wasn't love or me either. Next for me came the "what do you want?". That was the hardest one because you have to look at yourself then and the relationship. I discovered I had self esteem issues big time. I had a past that I had to reconcile my dad had an affair on my mom. I discovered I am worthy of loving myself. My self esteem still takes a nose dive if I let it. It is comfortable to put on the old tattered coat but not good for me. I don't feel strong everyday but I'm getting better. I have been through "but I love this man" like a dummy twice. You don't realize if he wants you then you hold all the cards in fact you hold 4 aces, royal flush mother of a hand. You just have to figure out what you are going to with it. My definition of love and what it means to me changed drastically on all fronts. It did for my husband when he chose me before he and I knew how much we would change.

    He chose me and said bye bye psycho-bitch Kindergarden teacher before any changes took place in the new "us". He was willingly to put it all on the line and put me in control before any changes took place. It took him exactly one minute to decide to say good bye, good riddance, you were the worst mistake of my life and I want my wife. He decided he would be a better person that very minute. He didn't know what was going to happen but he watched me change and grow stronger and we both learned what a relationship is all about. Yes we fight, we disagree but we both showed up to the relationship. I still have terrible days, I still hurt, I still have incredible pain and I also have much more strength and love. It is a terrible way to find out about yourself but it forces you to look at what you avoided for so long.

    1. Wow Lynn. Yay for you. You've done some hard work. It seems to me that, behind all the pain of a spouse's betrayal, is so often some deeper pain from a long-ago wound. This gives us the chance to heal that deeper wound, which gives us the chance to live a richer life. You're right it hurts like hell. But it does bear gifts.

    2. Oh my gosh, Lynn -- "You don't realize if he wants you then you hold all the cards." That is SO empowering! You're right; I had never thought about it like that. I've been thinking he holds all the cards -- that he got to have his cake and eat it too, since he knew that I would want to stay married. This gives me a lot to think about. Thank you!


  6. I need some advice and really don't know anywhere else to turn. My D-Day was almost 10 months ago and the OW was my best friend. The affair lasted about a month. It has been, like most everyone else, the most excruciatingly painful time of my life. Through much counseling, my husband and I have salvaged our marriage and I am very thankful. Here's the issue: Today I received a 3 page apology letter in the mail from the OW. It was sincere and she asked my forgiveness. I forgave her months ago, and least I think I have. I am a Christian, and I felt convicted that I had to find a way to forgive. However, the wound is deep and the emotions are still very raw. I feel like I need to give some sort of response, but I don't know what to say. I made a counseling appointment for next week, but I'm not sure if I should say anything until I've talked to him. There's no way we will ever be friends again, but we live in a small community and I pass her almost everyday. It's all painful and awkward. So, if you received an apology letter, how and when would you respond?

    1. I'm so sorry for all you've gone through. It's a double betrayal when our spouse cheats with a friend.
      Not sure if that was auto-correct but you wrote, "I felt convicted" to forgive. Clearly you're conflicted. Forgiveness is tough. It's one thing to accept that it happened and that you're not going to let that person rule your life. It's quite another to tell them that they're forgiven. As a Christian, you know that's what you're called upon to do.
      However, I think it's important to get to a place where that forgiveness is genuine. And I doubt you're there yet. As you said, the wound is still so raw. You're likely still processing what all this means.
      I think I would give myself time to really digest her apology. To let your heart begin to unclench and make room for the possibility of truly forgiving her. You are under absolutely no obligation to respond right away. I don't think that could possibly make your situation any more painful and awkward than it already is. If you wanted you could let her know you got her letter and that you're letting it all digest. But you don't even have to do that.
      Here's the thing: She betrayed your trust in the worst possible way. Given that it sounds like she has a shred of decency, she's realizing just what a horrible friend/person she's been. By asking for someone's forgiveness, however, we're asking them to put aside THEIR pain to help us with OUR pain. I would hope her letter is worded in such as way that she isn't "asking" you to do anything but simply letting you know how deeply sorry she is that hurt you in this way. If that's the case, let it go for now. If she is indeed "asking" you to forgive her, then it sounds as if this is still about her and not you.
      Short answer? Give yourself all the time you need.

    2. You are very wise. Yes, conflicted is more like it. I want to forgive, and I know I'm called to, and I like to think that I have, but if I'm totally honest with myself, I haven't and I wonder if I will ever get there.

      I think I've decided to send a short text acknowledging the letter then just wait until I can process this a little more with my counselor so that I find a way to accurately articulate my feelings when and if I decide to give her a heartfelt response.

      Thank you for your service to all of us trying to navigate through these murky waters. You will never know how you have helped me over these past 10 months.

    3. I'm glad to hear this site has helped. It's crucial for you to honor yourself right now. Respond only if you genuinely want to. I do believe forgiveness will come but it's a long road. What's more, offering "forgiveness" to her might prevent her from doing the hard work of asking herself just why she made such damaging choices. In the end, whether or not you forgive her, you don't need to let her know. You can live forgiveness more authentically then saying it.

    4. There is a book called forgiveness recommended under the book tab which helped me tremendously. Less than $10 if you can download it. It talks about different types of forgiveness and genuine forgiveness. It is surrounded in Christian principles with practical discussions about forgiveness. I'm 18 months out and I can't forgive my husband. But when God works with me or on me a little more I hope I can get there with a willing heart. God hasn't lead me to feel obligated to do anything right now except work on me. I'm so sorry that happened to you. If you work on you the rest will come around. I was a pastors wife the first time around he beat me senseless so God and I have been through much together. Don't rush it or it won't work.

    5. Lynn Pain, thank you.

  7. I am almost at the 2 week mark after D-day. So I know that I am still in the midst of the rollercoaster of pain, grief, and confusion. I know it takes time. I know all these things but my confusion just keeps growing.
    A bit of background: I have been living with my man for 3 years. We had not yet gotten married but were engaged. In my mind, I was married, I was committed for life. Our relationship had recently gotten distant due to him starting a new company and problems in my own career, but I was steadfastly committed. About a month ago I decided we needed some tools to work with so we talked about it and he and I agreed to go to couple's therapy. We had 2 sessions before D-day.
    For the last 4 or 5 months I have been planning the wedding with my maid of honor, a friend from law school. She was helping me with everything including wedding shows, dress searching, and even a detailed excel file to catalog all the vendors. She and my fiance had hit it off and were becoming good friends too. He was even working on her house (he's a contractor).
    On D-day, I found he had been having a 3 month affair with her. I arrived at her house to find them in the shower. To say the least, I was devastated.
    She has told me that she loves him and he "loves" her, though when I've asked him how he feels about her, he can't seem to answer the question. While a serious distaste and a bit of anger towards my former friend, now the OW, has certainly taken root, I honestly feel sorry for her. Especially since it turns out that she was also sleeping with another man while falling "in love" during the affair.
    I have told him I want to work through it. Obviously the wedding is canceled, but I believe that, together, we can heal. I have made my desire to work on the relationship extremely clear.
    He hasn't been able to decide if he wants to work through it. He has been distant, then loving and caring, then distant. He says he needs time to process. To make the situation more complex, he has Aspergers so it genuinely does take him a loooong time to process emotions.
    Currently, he is out of town on a large project (pre-planned). I only get to speak to him every for a few minutes a day before he ends the calls. But he has been extremely kind in calming me when I start to panic over the situation. He says he loves me (though doesn't feel he's "in-love" anymore), but he still won't give me an ANSWER!
    I am going to therapy and working on myself, but I feel like I'm stuck in limbo. If I make the choice to move on without him, I will always wonder if he would have eventually chosen me. If I just keep my heart in limbo while he thinks and he eventually doesn't choose me, then I've put myself through all the extra pain for nothing.
    Am I just deluding myself that he will process it all and realize that the fact that he loves me can provide a stable platform from which to heal and rediscover our relationship?
    I am now doubly wounded that he could crush my heart then not commit to walking away or commit to working through the pain. I know in my soul that, if he were to commit to working through this hell that we could discover a closer relationship on the other side.
    Will it hurt? Of course. Will it be hard? Of course. But isn't our love worth it? Is there a good possibility of forming a wonderful life if we work through this? I firmly believe that it is.
    Sorry for the lengthy diatribe and again, I know that I'm only at the beginning of the process, but how do I communicate to him that life could be better? Do I wait in pain while he "processes" or am I just punishing myself?

    1. Honey, I want you to choose YOU. Forget who he chooses. You make the choice. And make it yourself.
      You're not yet married and you're already dealing with a guy who can't seem to tell the difference between "love" and "in love" and keep himself out of your best friend's shower. Your friend is an idiot and your almost-husband is a cad. I'm all for people working it out when there is a remorseful spouse willing to do the INCREDIBLY hard work of rebuilding a relationship. It's hard to do it even then; it's impossible with someone who can't seem to acknowledge just how stupid he's been.
      I know how wonderful he likely can be. I know how horrible it is to imagine your life without him. I know how painful it is to let go of that blissful future you imagined as you strolled around wedding shows. But this man is showing you RIGHT NOW before you have a ring on your finger, just who he is. And who he is is someone who won't support you in your deepest pain.
      You deserve so much better than this. You are worth so much more.
      Tell him that right now you need some space to get yourself sorted out from the mess he's created. Take the time to learn how to establish really clear boundaries and to learn how to surround yourself with better, healthier people. When I walked away from the boyfriend I wrote about in this post, I honestly thought I could feel my heart breaking. NEVER did I think it would heal. Fast forward 13 years and we met for coffee when he was in town. He's now married. I'm married. What does he do? He makes a pass at me. Nice, huh? He was a cad who had shown me who he was those many years before. (The irony, of course, is that here I am with a betrayed wives club Web Site...thanks to a husband who cheated.) I guess my point is life doesn't offer up guarantees. But I can almost guarantee that a life with this guy will only deliver you a whole lot more pain. Wait. Give yourself the gift of time. Disentangle yourself from this guy, at least for now, and get clear on what you really want in your life. You can do this. And you'll be glad you did.

    2. Anon: I'm so sorry that your husband -to-be and best friend did this to you! Please, please, please think long and hard about pursuing a future with this man. you don't HAVE to start your life under a black cloud, you don't have to live with this pain. You CAN have something better than he is bringing to the table. Your entire future is in front of you, you have an opportunity for an untainted, unstained marriage WITH A BETTER man than this.

      I am staying with my husband of 27 years because I have experienced a beautiful marriage and I am in too deep to get out, our lives are too entangled. He slipped up once in 27 years, and has worked his ass off to repair the damage. But, it still hurts....... EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even though I know he'll never do it again, it hurts. Why on earth would you start a marriage in this hole? Why start at a deficit?

      If I were in your shoes, instead of mine, I would cut my losses and RUN. You have options! Start over with someone who deserves you. He's not worth it.

      What I wouldn't give to be with a man who didn't throw me away. Its too late for some of us, we are too far down this road to ever trust again, but I think you have a shot at something better...... Think about it?

    3. Wedding off,

      Look at him for what he is not what you think he can be or what you think he can become in the future.

    4. Random Thoughts,

      What a great post! So absolutely true and well written.

  8. Thank you Elle for the kind words and advice. I am trying so hard to find myself in this mess and know that, no matter the route I choose, there is a long road ahead. My soul so desperately wants the pain to go away but my mind knows that it won't happen over night. To all the women who are suffering alongside me, I offer my support. I still have the capacity to love and I hope that will see me through.

    1. Yes, hang on to that ability to keep your heart soft, even as it aches. Just be sure that heart has boundaries that insist upon respect and honesty and integrity from those you share it with. You will get through this. And I promise you that you will look back and recognize the strength and wisdom you gained from the experience.

    2. Elle, love this sentiment - "hang on to that ability to keep your heart soft, even as it aches. Very important to remember and consider as one travels this path. Love and joy repeated can help with that and also thinking of gratitude. A trick my son told me was to quietly slip away to a washroom or separate room and envision oneself as a superhero about to take on a challenge. It works!
      Blessings to you, Anonymous.

    3. Anonymous, yes--Elle is right about the soft heart-- I have often told the story of how two days after D-day I was able to look outside myself--I needed to because all that was in me was darkness--I connected for the first time in a long with the pain in others and in the world and stepped outside of my comfort zone to comfort others--just tiny gestures. I was thrilled that his affair had not ruined me, despite the feeling that I WAS ruined. You can do it.

      You're b-f's behavioiur and this quote of yours "He hasn't been able to decide if he wants to work through it. He has been distant, then loving and caring, then distant. He says he needs time to process" reminds me of an ex BF who was a complete narcissist. He was an ass to me and then sweet--and then mind-blowingly romantic and then reminded me what I did to "push' him towards his ass like behavior. He had me so so so twisted that I started to believe things were my fault, and if I were just more "this" or just more 'that" or just gave him more time he would come around. I got very very sick of his gaslighting me constantly, and throwing bits of crumbs of compassion my way, to punctuate his by very very cruel and mentally abusive behavior. and it took me another 2 years to break it off. If your BF can't see and admit that he screwed this up SO badly now, I don't know when he will. I am sorry to sound so harsh, but really. He should be wallowing in misery and not asking for more time to process.
      Process what?
      We can all see he screwed up. If he can't--what does that say?
      Personally, I am so relieved you called off the wedding. When I look back at my BF, although he never cheated, I am not sure that I would have had the guts to call it off if he had. I was that messed up. so congrats on a great first step.

  9. Thank you Elle for your beautiful response. I had considered calling off the party, but I did not ... I am so glad. It was a beautiful party, my friend (the artist) sold many of her pieces and I felt the love ... from a diverse group of friends, the closest who were asking why I've been so quiet of late and can't we please get together... Just my intention, continue the circle of love. I believe in the intention of love ... your reply to me embraced just that ... Love. Seeing and feeling the love which is safe and secure, coupled with more definite discussions of separation and other heartfelt topics with my h has provided me with a calm and confidence which I have not felt since D-Day. Peace & Light

  10. Elle, I need your help. Two days ago was the one year since D-day. For the most part, my marriage is so much better. My husband is definitely more attentive, helps more with the kids etc. I am much better today than I was a year ago, but I am far from healed. The problem I am having is that my husband goes on an annual golf trip with his friends. He did not go last year because it was too soon after D-day. He is planning on going this year. When I think about him being away and hanging out with his friends and drinking in bars it makes me physically sick. I shake and feel full of rage. He does not understand this. He swears he would never hurt me again. He loves my and knows that I would not forgive him again. He met the other woman in a bar 20 minutes from my house, so I know you don't have to travel to meet someone. Do you have any advice for me on how I can control my rage? As you say, I am supposed to be holding the cards here, but there is a part of me that knows how much he loves this time away. I don't want to tell him he can't go.

    1. I think what you're experiencing is quite common but it's really important for you to pay attention to it. Your anger is telling you that, somehow, you're not feeling heard or that your feelings matter. There is something you need from him that you're not getting.
      Can you sit down with him and have an open conversation? Can you tell him that you don't want to tell him he "can't" go but that you're really struggling with this? Can you, perhaps, set up some sort of plan that he calls you each hour? Or that he sends you text messages of love and support? Can you imagine what you might need when your mind is racing and he's not there to assure you that you're okay?
      We all have triggers post-betrayal. Things that suddenly remind us that this could happen again. That he's lied before. That we can never be totally sure. So it's crucial to have some sort of plan in place to put those runaway fears into perspective. Take the time to sort it out. It sounds as if your husband would be agreeable. And it can, rather than be something that puts a wall between you, become something that brings you together. He's not the enemy. Treat him as an ally in helping you overcome this challenge.

  11. Thanks for the quick response. I can talk about it with him, unfortunately in the past it usually comes up when I am already upset and it turns into a fight. I will talk with him when I am calm. I have told him that I love him so much and just can't stand the idea of him hurting me again and he assures me that he won't. He always asks me what he can do to make me feel better and I think asking him to check in while he is away is a great idea. Thanks for pointing out that he is not the enemy. I have to admit that there are times I forget that.
    I really love reading your blog, because you make me happy I am working on my marriage and not running away. I never thought I would stay with a man who betrayed me, but I am glad I chose to stay. I think we are growing closer together and stronger as a couple. I just have to learn how to overcome some of my triggers. Thanks again.

  12. To anonymous above:

    U sound a lot like me. I occasionally am triggered also when my husband goes out. And I'm not even sure why, since he met both ow sexual affairs at work & & all ow emotional affairs at work & both sexting ow at work. Maybe it's because I used to imagine him w ow when he said he was "going out" or maybe sometimes when he said he was "going out" he was actually doing things w them. But that prob amounted to 10% or less of the time. Over 90% of the time it was innocent & he was telling the truth.

    But I can tell u it definitely helps to talk to him rather than let ur mind race. My h & I both know I can FaceTime him at any time (I did it once actually very early post d day). He ALWAYS tells me where he's going & who will be there. He always leaves his phone around now unattended & knows I can check it anytime (hardly ever do anymore now that I'm 1.5 yrs post d day #1). He always tells me I'm welcome to stop by at any of his dinners just to check.

    Doesn't apply if ur h is going away, although u can surprise FaceTime him & see if he's where he says he is. He can call u from hotel not his cell & u can call him right back to see if he's in his own room.

    I found the last time I was triggered I stayed angry at him for 3 days until we finally talked it out after which I felt SO much better. Maybe he even has some suggestions for u. My husband will frequently now call me from a # at work when he's late to prove he's in the hospital.

    Good luck. U sound like ur making great progress. This website was also a lifesaver for me.


  13. Thanks for your reply. Funny you mention the phone. I admitted to my husband that I was checking his email and he got very upset with me. He said he is not doing anything wrong and how long will it be necessary for me to read his personal stuff. He got so angry that he changed his password on his tablet (the same tablet I found the emails on a year ago). I am not happy about this. I need to talk to him about this too. The last few days have not been good ones for me. My mind is going nonstop. I keep trying to stay focused, but it is so hard. What would you do if your husband was not so open with his phone?

    1. I personally think transparency is a requirement of reconciliation. If he won't be transparent and open with his communication, in light of his betrayal, then he's not willing to do the incredibly hard work of rebuilding trust. Trust is created when you are shown, repeatedly, that he is being honest. The only way to know that is to verify. His word, sadly, is no longer enough. That's something HE created, not you.
      So...either he's committed and willing to make himself a bit uncomfortable in order to make you more comfortable. Or he's not. Your role in this is what you'll tolerate and what you won't. You can't make him be transparent. But you can refuse to reconcile with someone who won't be.

  14. He wasn't so open with his phone immediately after d day & he now admits that it's because one of the women who was interested in him lately was still texting him. This was not an emotional or physical or sexting affair but he knew she was interested in him. She is a divorced mother who was a nurse at one of the hospitals where he works & obviously would flirt with him with texts & they would have fairly long phone conversations while he was driving from Hosp to Hosp. Right after d day I told him that kind of contact was unacceptable; that all contact like that was unacceptable because it could only lead to no good. He only complied over time, little by little. At this point he knows that he can NEVER have his own passwords but it wasn't easy.

    I would tell u that if he changed his passwords he is still hiding something. It may not be an affair or affair related ; it wasn't in my husband's case. But my husband was hiding something that he knew would upset me & that's where it starts. I told him if he's doing something he feels he has to hide than he shouldn't be doing it.

    You have to tell ur husband in response to his question how long the answer is forever. Easy for me to say when I didn't put my own foot down emphatically in the beginning. But my husband knows the sad truth that I will never fully trust him or anyone else for that matter again. My advice would be to discuss calmly & not berate or accuse him. But as Elle has said repeatedly people with nothing to hide hide nothing. My husband always had my passwords because I never had anything to hide.

    Good luck.


  15. Dear Anonymous Above - a similar thing recently happened to me whereby my husband was upset that I was checking his phone he apologized that same day and said he was just in a rough mood and that I am welcome to check his phone. Nonetheless, he too wonders how long it will go on - my checking. No one really likes their privacy to be taken away from them. The other thing that happened… Which is upsetting to me. We are having difficulties financially, so we decided to switch from AT&T to cricket. Now I found out that with our service on cricket I can no longer look at the phone numbers that were called and texted on his account or mine for that matter. I am two months post D-Day and actually I'm finding I'm possibly okay with not being able to check the numbers… I think partially because I had found myself perhaps to obsessed with it. And in some ways it's refreshing to not check. I guess my thought is no matter how much you check, if your husband wants to, he will have an affair. He will figure out a way. Having said that, I do believe that you have every right, at this time, to check his phone and the fact that he changed his password and is not being transparent with you, is simply wrong. Perhaps he does not recognize that your ability to check his phone at this time would help you to regain trust and to heal. I do hope you are in marriage counseling and if so, this could be a topic of discussion. Best wishes to you hugs hugs hugs

  16. Great post. The one good thing to come out of this whole stinking mess is that I am finally learning to love myself. I finally believe that I matter. I always tried to believe it before, I professed it, but my actions said something differently. I'm sad that it took my husband's cheating to get me to finally stand up and say, "What about me? I have needs, too! I count!" but at least I'm doing it now.



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