Monday, March 16, 2015

What Did I Do to Deserve This?

by Steam

In a word, nothing.
No one asks to be cheated on and my guess is that during those moments of first discovery, most of us put our energy into “my husband is an ass” or “my husband is a  jerk”  or “my husband is a liar.
I have no data, no surveys, nothing to back me up. But I doubt that our very first thoughts were “I deserved this.”
But as the days and weeks go by, some of us switch gears and find ourselves questioning: Am I too fat? Too old? Too boring?
Somehow we start to assume the blame.
If we think we are to blame, we think that gives us some control.
Well, we are NOT to blame and we don't have control over his cheating. Never did and never will.
It's been said on this site many many times:
If we didn't cheat, we are not to blame. 
That's the truth. Preach it!
Our husbands/spouses/partners could have taken a moment to tell us that something was wrong, that they were feeling disconnected, unappreciated, unloved. They felt bad enough about themselves or the state of the relationship to consider an affair, but no, they ran.
We we were trusting enough to believe that everything was, for the most part, okay. That tides ebb and flow, the fires smolder and flicker and sometimes need to be rekindled and one day well get around to that. That this time that seem a little bit off is only a phase and it too shall pass.
So here is something that I came to understand:
I did something too. Although I am not to blame – remember, I didn't force my other half to have an affair –
I did something.
I  checked out long enough to not notice that something was REALLY up.
I checked out long enough to let someone else sneak into OUR relationship.
When I found out, I thought, I REALLY thought, it was all him. He chose the women, he chose the actions, he chose to take the many many steps it takes to have an affair. I don't care what anyone tells you, this didn't "just happen.” He had to a) make contact b) choose to stay as the chemistry started to show itself, c) choose to make the first move or not back away from hers d) accelerate the contact and e ) go further and...and I could go through the alphabet...which includes Craigslist, online adds, paid-for sex, etc. There is an a-z process he took part in and I, or maybe many of us, didn't notice.
My H had been distant the last few years of our relationship – not mean, not absent – but he was battling with the demon in the bottle. When he wanted to be alone (mostly on vacations) I thought it was to drink “in peace” because he didn't get that when he was with me. I thought his alcoholism was accelerating at an alarming pace. That's what I thought was going on. I never though it was a woman. N E V E R.
This was a fine line because when you are in Al-Anon, you are really supposed to stay on your side of the street. Looking back, I fear that I had not just stayed on my side of the street, but stayed on a street halfway across town. We were living in the same house, but I had really checked out. 
It never crossed my mind that my husband, who spent a lot of his time inebriated when I was not around, could find the time to woo someone else. Who wants a drunk anyway?
I didn't come to this realization – that I somehow played a small part in this – alone. It's online, it's in books, I heard it gently in therapy. And I refused to believe it for a long time. But I played a part. A small part.
I won't take 50 percent of the blame, I might take five to seven percent – maybe even 10 percent.
So part of my recovery and our recovery was needing to check back in. The past days when he was drunk, I was free to do whatever I wanted. Waste the day on a stupid video game or on Facebook or shopping, watching what I wanted to watch on tv,  or being angry at the world around me instead of facing what was going on in my very house. Sometimes while he was literally three feet away on the same couch. He's never been a gadget guy, so why in the hell was he, for the last year on his iPad while we watched TV?
Why did I never question that?
Why did I never just lean over and say “what ya checkin out?”?
What would he have said in the middle of writing to her while sitting next to me?
Would he have told me? I doubt it.
But maybe if I had opened up a dialogue, I don't know, maybe I could have circumvented this whole mess.
But it's not just that I didn't want to know, I didn't think there was anything to know. I made my mind up that it was alcohol and that's that. I didn't want to take the time to find out that I was wrong.
There is a term I heard 20 years ago and I wish I could remember where I read it. In the air conditioning and heating business, there is a comfort zone on the thermometer. It's set at the perfect temperature so you dont feel or notice a fluctuation in the temperature of the home. They call this area "the dead zone". What a perfect reminder. 
In the heating and air conditioning biz they STRIVE to get you in "the dead zone" so you are complety unaware of everything going on while you stay "comfortable".  
It has been a process to get out of "the dead zone" of my comfortable relationship.  As easy as it was to exist side by side and remain unaware that anything was going on was pretty easy. Pretty dead.  
The last thing I want to be now  is "comfortable."  I do want to step out of my comfort zone and feel new feelings, try new things but mostly "be aware" of what is going on around me. 
Looking back – although I insisted for weeks after D-day that we had the 'perfect' relationship – I was lying to myself. He had checked out, and I had checked out.
Checking back in and being uncomfortable at times means I have to show up in a real way and it's not as easy as it sounds. I not only have to talk, I have to listen. I used to think of our silence as contentment. I felt a bit disconnected but came to believe that I was just with a non-talker. His family often commented on his silence and told me that he tended to “hold it all in”. I knew he did but then again I also knew he never felt safe with them. I thought he felt safe with me.
I thought if something was important, you know, like contemplating an affiar, crossed his mind, he might say something. But nope. His silence – he didnt feel safe with me either. I had to change my tune. 
I had to step away from the computer, from work, from hours-long phone calls with friends and listen to my best friend: him. I had to come to terms with the fact that I, just like it's said in quotey quotes, “save my best behaviour for strangers”. I gave my ALL to my work and I had little left to offer him at the literal end of the day. I had to face it, I shut him out a bit much and mistook comfort for distance. Being present is something I am working on daily, and we both need to stay connected enough that no one can sneak into our relationship again.


  1. Steam, Steam, Steam,

    Thank you!!! Terry Telephone here...

    I've been "interviewing" therapists these past few days and on Saturday afternoon I met with a wonderful woman who asked me to come see her FREE! I spoke with her earlier in the week by telephone for about 90 minutes and she asked me to please come see her and that since I was "shopping" she would not charge me anything. She told me she felt I really needed to see someone - NOW. I made the appointment and was there at the appointed time. We talked for about 90 minutes again.

    She helped me understand that I gave HIM permission to disrespect me and to continue cheating. She walked me through most of my history with HIM. Indeed when I looked over the condoms hidden in strange places, looked over and "got over" the "evidence" in the car, in the truck, on the phone and everywhere else -- I was giving him permission. She made sure I understood that I did NOT cause him to have the affairs and act out sexually but I looked the other way (denial).

    I did see him buying color underwear when he always wore white. I did see him buying fashionable hats instead of just wearing his $1 store skull caps (he is partially bald on top). I did see him purchasing walking step counters and keeping a journal of the calories burned. I did go alone to see our grandchildren play sports in another city because he claimed he "could not get along" with our DIL.

    As you so deftly put it I was there but on another street. We had a saying when I was in high school -- same church -- different pew!

    Hell, I was on another planet in another solar system!!

    I will not be seeing this therapist because she does not accept my insurance. She has made me an offer almost too good to refuse but I need to conserve funds at this time. She does have a support group that meets every week for the female partners of sex addicts (and other cheaters) -- I will attend this because it is almost free. She also has a mid-week conference call that those in need can listen in - it stays available for 6 days so can listen when able. Also the conference calls are in a library that can be called in with a special phone number and code -- in the event you need to listen to a previous conference down the road.

    We had both checked out! Yes, he did get into much much deeper addictive behavior. He did not start out at the level to which he advanced in his addiction. I enabled him - yes - hard as it is to say. I stayed up most nights until 3-4AM researching and doing "paperwork". I did not cause his addiction and take no responsibility for the prostitutes and girlfriends. My vagina did not jump off and move to Switzerland! I worked night shift for 20+ years 3 days a week and as far as I know he was home in the bed sleep (kids in house). At that time our sex life was great. I did see and not see him sinking further and further into this addiction - I stood by with eyes wide shut and said nothing. Only an addict can decide to not be an addict but with support occasionally an addict can go through an intervention and emerge a better person. The addict is always an addict but in recovery for life.

    The last thing this therapist told me was that HE would have to get to his own "rock bottom" before he accepts help. She told me I must realize that I am a co-addict and absolutely must heal and rebuild myself whether I stay with HIM or not.

    She recommended a workbook for me to use with a therapist:

    "Intimate Treason: Healing the Trauma for Partners Confronting Sex Addiction" by Claudia Black

    We did not cause the affair, cheating, addiction and infidelity! We did not make them do it. It did not just happen however! They chose to bring an interloper - a stranger - a Trojan horse into OUR relationship. They could have chosen to talk to us - even if only to say I'm leaving. They could have chosen to talk to us BEFORE having sex with another person or three or ten...


    1. Terry,
      This woman sounds fabulous and I'm so glad you found her. You also sound really grounded in your own experience -- clear on what you need to do to heal yourself and move forward. Thanks so much for sharing that. It's wonderful to hear.

    2. Thank you for your words Steam! I've been with my husband for 13 years, married for 7. My 1st D-Day was November 6, 2013 - I discovered texts, emails, chats, pics/videos of various women's body parts dating back to February 2011. He had ongoing emotional & physical affairs with coworkers & paid for "massage" sessions locally throughout those years. I confronted him, he apologized profusely and promised he would never do it again. It was a tough year but I really wanted to work on saving our marriage. We didn't go through the intense sexual bonding that some of the other betrayed wives have experienced after discovering their husband's infidelity. In fact, we would try and he either couldn't get it up or maintain an erection so clearly he's not attracted to me because I look nothing like any of the women he's been with. Flash forward to this week - he's been distant & a bit snippy (his MO when he was seeing someone else) so I decided to snoop once again. He's gotten smarter (or sneakier) about deleting incriminating evidence so most of his emails (including the trash) were gone. I decided to check his work app (chats with coworkers) & discovered chats with a new female coworker who's been helping him with his accounts. Most were about work but there were a few suggestive chats & mild flirtation back & forth for about a month. She knows he's married but yet continues to flirt. Why? Why can't women respect each other enough to know that if a man is married, he's off limits?? Once again, I confronted him and of course, he apologized profusely and insisted there was nothing going on. I told him that if he didn't want to be married to me anymore then he was more than welcome to leave. He swore up & down that he wanted to stay & be with me, he didn't think there was any harm in the flirtation, blah, blah, blah. I told him to get the fuck out of my house. He didn't face any consequences the 1st time I found out about his infidelities and now it was time I stood my ground. He's in a hotel for the next 3 days and continues to text/email me with apologies, begging to come home & promising to be a better husband - you know, the same bullshit as last time. How can I trust this man again? I love him but I'm not willing to deal with the emotional bullshit any longer. I know that we need therapy but don't know how to find a good therapist in our area. I'm completely devastated, once again. D-Day #2: March 17, 2015.

    3. CompletelyDevastated,

      I looked online at the Psychology Today website for therapists in my locality AND I asked a friend who IS a psychologist for recommendations. When looking online at PT I put in the search criteria "sex addiction" and then came back and put "infidelity" in the search. I read the BIO for several folks that take my insurance and picked 3 from each list. I called the offices and asked specifically if they worked with infidelity and sex addiction. They all said yes. (Yeah right) So I asked what percentage of their practice was couples issues and what experience they had with infidelity -- that weeded out all but 3. I asked all of them if they would see me for a FREE short consultation (15-20 min.) to determine if we were a fit. All but one said we could talk on the phone and I agreed. One offered me a free in office consultation - I took it and we talked for about 90 minutes!!

      Try that if you can - be sure they work with infidelity and/or sex addiction. You do not want a therapist whose practice is 90% kids with ADHD (attention deficit).

      Sex addiction is not only like the golf guy with 13 girlfriends it can be men who go for full body ""massage"" (read internet about what happens if you do not know) men who visit prostitutes and other sexual acting out. Sex addiction is not always about volume and/or number of partners. A therapist can help you with what issues it might be/might not be for your husband.

      Even if he does not go - YOU GO!! Make yourself stronger and begin to heal yourself. I'm 65yo and we were together 44 years. I'm starting a new improved ME and if he decides to rebuild his house - I might help him. (MIGHT)

    4. Thank you for the info Terry Telephone! A girlfriend of mine, who has also dealt with infidelity with her husband of now 21 years, gave me the name & # of their therapist so I will call him on Mon. If we don't gel with him then I'll follow your lead and do some research.

      I sent my husband a gut wrenching email last night (while he's on a "time out" at a hotel) & I woke up this morning with a positive response from him, agreeing to all of my terms (obviously, I've omitted names, although, I would LOVE to expose the whores he was involved with!):

      I have had it. You need to truly learn & understand the acceptable boundaries of platonic male/female relationships. Clearly, your lack of self esteem and your desperate need to fill an acceptance void with meaningless adoration from meaningless women is a problem, a major problem. You keep saying you’ll change but we’re right back to square one, a year later, and you’re going down the same slippery slope you were on when you got involved with A*, J*, J*, C*, R*, A*, J*, etc. and let’s not forget about your “massage” whores. Your communication with other women is extremely classless & disrespectful to me and our marriage. There’s no such thing as “harmless flirting" and the way you chatted with M* was most definitely NOT harmless, it was very suggestive and if she took the bait, there’s no doubt in my mind you would be in her apartment as quickly as possible. The flirting and sexual innuendos needs to STOP with ALL of the women you speak with, including T* & C*. It shows that you have no regard for me as a woman, and most importantly, as your wife, it’s disgraceful, you’re disgraceful.

      You need to get help ASAP, otherwise I will no longer be able to withstand the emotional abuse you’re putting me through. I need COMPLETE transparency on your part, which means I need access to ALL of your emails/passwords, gChat and whatever other methods of communication you’re currently using. NO MORE deleting your incriminating evidence. I have enabled your behavior for far too long and I WILL NOT continue to do so any longer. I’ve spent the first half of my life in an emotionally & physically abusive household with an alcoholic philandering father and I WILL NOT spend the second half of my life enduring another moment in a household with an emotionally abusive, alcoholic philandering husband.

      If you’re fine to walk away from this marriage, then I am too. Life will go on with or without you but MY life has to get better because your actions & poor choices are killing me slowly. I’ve wasted my childbearing years being with you. I will never know or experience the love of a child as a mother. I will never experience the feeling of a human being growing inside of me - you took that from me. You have broken me down, I am a shell of the strong, independent woman I once was but I’m finally standing up for myself. I’m taking my life back and no one, especially you, is ever going to shatter my spirit again.

      You can’t hurt me anymore. I won’t let you. I’m done with this emotional bullshit you call love. If you truly loved me, you wouldn’t do what you’ve done. Are you proud to officially be lumped in with the other scumbag husbands we all talk shit about? I used to be the girl that everyone envied because I had the most thoughtful, romantic husband and now you’re a piece of shit like the rest.

      I need you to hurt. I need you to suffer as badly as I have for the past year and this week. I need you to feel the pain and the heartbreak, the guttural emotion of sadness I’m feeling every FUCKING day with you as I know you desperately long & seek for the empty affections of other women.

      This is your LAST chance G*, I swear…you CANNOT continue to mistreat me in this manner, it’s WRONG. I will NOT tolerate a marriage full of lies, deceit and disrespect. If your behavior continues, I will be forced to cut all ties with you, you leave me no choice.

    5. I Am Married to Don Draper! Minus the alcohol. He's a great guy: handsome, successful, creative, but is a chronic cheater. I have enabled the cheating by letting him off the hook in the past, or pretending I don't know about it. How do I face the fear, and confront him?

    6. Completely Devastated,
      That letter is great. The key is going to be holding firm to every single one of those boundaries. You need to make it absolutely clear that those are non-negotiable. I would insist that he see a therapist who focuses on sex addiction and go to 12-step groups. At the very least, he needs to read some Patrick Carnes to understand just how far across the line he's gone.
      As for reading material, I would urge you to read some books for partners of sex addicts: Claudia Black wrote Deceived, and Stefanie Carnes (Patrick Carnes daughter and also a therapist) wrote Mending a Shattered Heart, and Facing Heartbreak, both for partners of sex addicts.

    7. Virginia Miller,
      You accept that it will be terrifying...and then you do it anyway. The alternative is to allow him to continue to break your heart, and to do it with your implicit permission. Respect yourself enough, value yourself enough to demand respect from him.
      Getting a therapist to help you through this isn't a bad idea either.
      You can do this, Virginia. You can do scary things. You will survive. Your marriage might not, but right now it's not a marriage so much as a legal arrangement. To rebuild a healthy marriage requires you taking the hard step of refusing to allow his cheating. Expect him to deny it. Expect him to minimize it. Expect him to turn it around and blame you. But if you know he's cheating -- and better, if you have proof he's cheating -- then don't back down.

  2. Steam I don't know where gut wrenching stuff comes from but it is so true. I really couldn't see this until I was further away from Dday. I hate to admit my short comings. But I checked out for several years. We both checked out for several years. We never talked just assumed we knew what each other was thinking. As an older couple, I was so miserable I was just waiting for him to die, then I would be free. He was drinking to drown out the guilt. Looking back we were a mess. I will never forgive him but I finally understand what happened to us. It doesn't change my hurt and pain but at least I have an understanding of why psycho-bitch appealed to him. What I came to also understand what a low opinion he had of himself. The Kindergarden teacher had two other boyfriends and he never thought about if he slept on sheets where another man had been with her, he said he didn't care. He said he saw no future. She was just something to do to fill in the boredom. No wonder she made him feel good, attractive, needed and whatever else so he would whip out the wine, jewlery, flowers and dinners. Well guess what - she has nothing, take that psycho kindergartenteacher! He told me he felt guilty and dirty. NOW we talk, NOW we are honest with each other, NOW we say what we need, NOW we don't hide anything with each other. It is how we should have been all along. I also had to step away from my work and we NOW have an understanding that we come first and to hell with everything else.

    1. Lynn,
      I often risk people's wrath by pointing out that there can be a silver lining to this hell. And that is our chance to really heal long-ago wounds and to rebuild a marriage that truly is built on honesty and compassion and mutual respect. Storms make better sailors, said Shakespeare.

  3. Amen terry. Nice to see you got the name thing figured out too! Not every man is as shockingly bold as your husband but looking back I too remember my husband buying new underwear before one of or vacations. Who even knew we should be thinking about that ? although sooo many stories of infidelity tell that same tale.
    I should have known something was up when he wanted to fly in early that vacation, just two days, to get everything ready for me. We have a house and he would go rent the Car pay some bills etc etc He often did that when nothing was happening "outside" of our relationship and it was helpful I always appreciated it But this trip it was not necessary. I was excited to travel together and he convinced me otherwise. I should have seen that. Tiny things. All adding up to something big. Ugh. I am so so glad you found a group to support YOU. WHAT a relief and massive step in the right direction. Bravo terry!

  4. I posted in the previous blog about my h affair with the cop he met in rehab. It took me so much courage to actually put my story into words. I hadn't told anyway probably because of the shame I felt about my h drug addiction. I felt that the responses I received followed a predictable pattern. Absolute judgement regarding drug use. Whether its drugs, sex or alcohol, the result is the same. Addiction is a symptom of something gone terribly wrong. I too checked out. He disgusted me! I could not believe my h of 25 years could have been using cocaine. We were living in a war zone. No sex, no communication and me giving him my bottom line. If he kept using drugs, he would lose his family. His children didn't respect him and I almost hated him. I cried every day. Walked around in a fog and like you steam, thought no other women could possibly want a druggie. I think I told him that a few times. How lucky he was to have me cause no one would want him or respect him now. So, completely blindsided when I found out that this particular women, battling her own alcoholic demons, did want him and did everything in her power to get him. He tells me now through recovery, that he is a changed man . Do I believe him. I don't know! My heart has changed forever. Our relationship will never be that sweet young love again. He blew it up! I am still not willing to admit that I am to blame in anyway but the fact remains, that we were in a very bad place.

    1. Anon,
      I know how much courage it took to share your story. I remember my hands shaking when I first told my own. But thank-you for doing so. You are so NOT alone in this.
      As Steam says below, you are absolutely NOT to "blame". This isn't about "blame". It's about recognizing your piece in this -- which is key to helping you heal from it. He says he's a "changed" man? Well, your piece in this is to weigh that claim against the claims he's made in the past. He needs to SHOW you that he's a changed man. He needs to PROVE to you that he's willing to do the incredibly hard work of fixing himself and then rebuilding your marriage, should that be the choice you make.
      And please don't think you're being "judged" on this site. Some of us tend to be quite adamant in our assessments...but I'm pretty careful not to allow strict judgement. We're all in this together and while I think it's great that we can offer advice, I think it's far more important that we can offer support and a "me too" compassion. You are welcome here.

  5. Anon you are not to blame. I will take responsibility for checking out but that's it. We both might have checked out but only one of us stepped out. And don't worry if this is not your pattern. I almost wanted to put a trigger disclaimer as this is not anything you want to read right off the bat. No matter what... You didn't cause this.

  6. Lynn you made another good point. "We come first and to tell with everything else". Words to live by. If it's not good for the relationship it's just not good!

  7. Dear Anon,
    I also thought who would want this man? He was 40 pounds overweight could drink a half a fifth by year 2 of the affair. He was sweaty, depressing, sat on the couch and made love to his I pad. After he finally came clean about everything, the affair life was disgusting. I'm glad it is his problem to deal with not mine. I have no guilt or disgusting memories of ME. He says sometimes he looks at me and can't believe what he did. He feels guilty every single day. He is scared every single day I'm going to leave him. It took me forever to realize all this is not my fault. At first I thought he will never hurt or feel the pain that I do. Guess what? As more time goes by he feels worse and I feel better. We are still on shaky ground don't get me wrong, I still have thoughts about psycho-kindergarden teacher. I still feel pain. He told me today how proud and thankful he was that I haven't went off on him in a week. He really sincerely wanted to know how I was doing. Wow he never cared before and neither did I. I doubted this site and all of the women who blogged and said it would get better, I never believed a word of it but somehow it does. There has to be love, true love not convenient love and he has to want you more than anything on earth to get there. Just Lynn Pains bullshit opinion for what it is worth.

    1. Lynn,
      Your "bullshit opinion" contains a lot of wisdom and hope. Whether or not you two make it, I have no doubt that YOU will emerge from this just fine.

  8. Lynn I meant "to hell with". Damn u autocorrect.

  9. Anon, as someone with a history of drug addiction and whose SO has an even worse history of drug addiction, I can totally understand where you're coming from on the judgement. We're messy, messy people with a huge downside to knowing us while we're still in active addiction and therefore not easy to love. I don't blame others for what I did and I don't blame them for not wanting to put up with addict stuff from someone who has yet to find recovery, but even after when you're in remission it's hard for anyone without experience with dependence to see you (or your partner) as an equal. All I can say is when someone reacts with that judgement you can let them know that if they wanted to understand, there's a whole lot of information out there from sources more valid than one persons perspective, but if they don't care to know, then don't worry about it. There's a whole lot of stuff going on pertaining to brain chemistry that makes an addict tick. It's hardly just a behavioral issue and I think it's great when anyone who hasn't been there themselves has enough love and compassion for someone to recognize that judgement and care more about how you two (you and H) are doing than how other people are doing with the information of you two being together. I really do hope things calm down for you.
    PS, your cop here sounds like a crazy bitch if I've ever seen one. I've seen plenty.

    1. Better half,
      Thank-you for what you wrote. I've spent a lifetime surrounded by addicts and "messy, messy" is true but, after recovery, I would also add wise, compassionate and warm-hearted. Recovered addicts are some of my most favorite people. :)

    2. No problem. There's definitely a stigma issue in our society where addiction is concerned. The most tragic thing about it is not just that it makes some people who haven't been there pretentious and ignorant, but it holds a lot of power over addicts who want help but are afraid to get it. The stigma with medication-assisted therapy for addiction is even worse, which is too bad considering it's success in harm reduction, helping decrease the numbers on both relapse and overdose. No one at my new job in my new city knows about my past, and I prefer to keep it that way. I had to accept eventually that it's not my job to educate everyone, and not everyone is interested in being educated about it or evolving their sense of compassion into something less conditional. Some addicts are good people, or at least have the capacity and potential to be really good people. But then again, some are just pieces of shit but if they find any form of recovery, it becomes quite clear that they would be pieces of shit anyway. Hell, the OW in my situation who was manipulative, insensitive, and wildly narcissistic was on methadone and had been cleaning up her act for a while. The kind of emotional havoc she wreaked on our lives was something she was totally okay with, and this was not her down and out and lost from her true personality. This was her getting clean, when she decided her wants and needs mattered so much that no one, and especially not my own significant other, should waste one minute being concerned with mine. Addicts can be, underneath it all, kind human beings while trying to survive or they can be awful people without concern for anyone else's existence whether or not they're currently influenced by drugs. Good people, people doing their best, or terrible people - it can go different ways, which is much like everyone else.

  10. It has been a long road to healing after my d-day. I felt powerless, out of control because of the OW. That OW did and said things to me that were too much. I retaliated by posting to an infamous?famous? website. I am still conflicted as to continue to request taking it down or leaving it. Any thoughts? suggestions? comments?

    1. Anon,
      I'm generally of the mind that we "retaliate" in a way that doesn't tie us to the person forever. I don't doubt that the OW deserves your wrath. But do you want to be forever tied to this woman in any way? Up to you, of course. But that's my two cents.

  11. I read Steam's post just after it was posted, but haven't written because I'm reflecting so much on it. Outside of the alcohol issue, Steam, I could have written that if I had the words you do. It's us...and me. Especially, "I checked out long enough to let someone else sneak into OUR relationship."
    I'm headed to marriage counseling shortly, and I wish we had a double session scheduled- there's so much I want to say and so much we need help with. My big a-ha for quite a while has been that I knew something was going on- I had the clues- I just couldn't say anything because I really didn't have hard evidence. But after reading Terry Telephone and Lynn and Steam...yeah- I was afraid I was going to lose him and my marriage, and I was afraid. So I checked out, or avoided the clues, or was on another street- whatever. That was me. Afraid and not standing up for my marriage. No excuses for what he did for 10 years (or maybe it's more? who knows?). But certainly, my role was the passive bystander and I certainly enabled him. That's what I'd like to talk about today in our session. I continue to be grateful for this site. How many times it's helped me, I can't say, but it's been a lifesaver over and over.

    1. Anon,
      So glad you're getting clear on your own role...and how that can propel you forward. It's not about "blame", it's about responsibility. Big difference.

  12. Anon. On our worst days it is always somehow good to know that we are not alone in these awful situations. That others have been here, kept o going and made it through to the other side. Together as a strong couple or alone as a stronger person I am also guilty of telling my h he was "lucky" to have me. And Lynn you are right again. Your h has to want you above anything else and visa versa. Men will FIGHT for the women they love and when truth is on the table I think it's amazing that they will give up the OW So easily more often than not. The harder thing seems to be getting us back mentally. But they stick it out with us if we will have them. And that's a whole lot of work after the blow we've received. Says something about "true" vs "convenient" love for sure.

  13. Ok, so it's me after marriage counseling today. We have a good counselor- yay! That's the first thing. It was a very good session, although very painful. It's tough starting up counseling again after so many months- dredging up stuff you don't really want to dredge up.
    But I'm going to take back what I said earlier about enabling him. No. I didn't do that. I didn't invite these women into my marriage, I didn't help him invite these women in...and although I take responsibility for not paying attention to him as I should have, I did not enable him. I did not give him permission to do what he did to to disrespect me or anything. He could have spoken up at any time to tell me what was wrong with him (that he felt like a failure at our marriage and family life). But he didn't. He CHOSE his path and still can't say how he justified what he did- what story he told himself, why he continued to keep going in the relationships when he knew it was wrong. So I take that back. Still so much to work through....

    1. One of the things that we partners of sex addicts are asked to accept is that we're "co-dependent". I refused for a long time to accept that. And I still don't accept it fully. You absolutely accept what feels true for you...and reject what doesn't. I don't ever think I "invited" anyone into my relationship with my husband. But I certainly accept that I ignored parts of my marriage that brought up issues I didn't want to deal with. So that's been my piece. There isn't a one-size-fits-all response to this. The power of sharing is in the support and compassion -- the feelings are so often the same.

  14. Anon. I am pretty sure none of us thought you enabled him. I didn't. Good that YOU know that you believe that too. We tend to believe in the people we love which is totally normal. and miss things along the way glad you got s good shrink!

  15. Good Morning all of you beautiful ladies! I have a rant this morning thinking about this topic. "What did I do to deserve this?" my answer is nothing outside of trying to stay afloat in the merciless tides of life. In answering that question though led to many other questions and finally to the question of my rant. "Why are adulterers able to just walk away from their crime with no consequences?"
    I'm 2 1/2 years out from D-Day and even though things are a lot easier than they were in the early days and months, the pain can still be just as intense at times. I wonder if I will ever really "get over it" I think about how my life and my children's lives have been altered and the continuing effects that infidelity has wreaked on my family. I'd love to know if others feel the same way that I do about this. I am totally into the idea of forgiveness. Knowing that forgiveness...true forgiveness, is going to be my only sense of relief in the end. However, I feel betrayed not only by my husband but also by society for not providing a sense of "justice" to those of us who's lives have been forever altered by someone's crime on our families! Why is there no justice for us?!?! Perhaps it's because we don't stand up and force it to be so. I used to think about this in detail about a year ago and thought the idea to be absurd. Now I revisit the subject and think about it like this, the thought of same sex marriage seemed absurd also, so why not justice for victims of adultery?
    We are the ones left with paying the thousands of dollars out to therapy, the sleepless nights, the anxiety, the wondering, the triggers, the flashbacks, the brokenness. My husbands's affair partner got to go back to her comfortable little life with her husband. No consequences! My husband back to his life...No consequences (other than my occasional rage).
    I guess what I'm saying is, adultery is one of the MOST devastating crimes to the family unit imaginable. Think of the homes destroyed, the lives that it impacts. Why isn't there some "legal" means of protection or restitution? I am aware that in some states that you can sue the perpetrators and of course divorce is a means of suing your spouse for the adulterous act. However, what of those of us who choose to stay? What justice is there? I have personally thought about just creating flyers on my own and leaving them door to door in the AP's neighborhood. Like a public awareness notice of this "Predator" in the area. There is a registry for sex-offenders, why not for adulterous sex-offenders? Why not bring adultery out of the dark and into the light and let others know what's happening right next door to them? I think it's time for us to take a stand and find a way to get the restitution that we deserve!

    1. I am just 8 months out from D-Day, but this very question has been on my mind for the past few weeks. My husbands affair was emotional only and so I have decided to try and work through it. We have been married 30 years and my last child will be married and gone this June. This is most definitely not where I thought my life would be at right now. I feel the pain of it every day, I see it in every aspect of my life and it has greatly changed pretty much everything. Yet, my husband gets up goes to work, sees his children, plays with his grandson and is overly attentive to me as if nothing happened. I hate to say I want him to pay a price as well but hell I guess that is exactly what I want, I want him to be hurting and struggling just like I am.

      I completely understand the need for justice as you say but ultimately is it worth it? I don't know the answer to that and I certainly would never condemn any woman that sought some form of restitution. The hardest thing for me is that the more I have been hurt the more I want to hurt back and it doesn't usually end well. My hope is that as we talk and share our stories, thoughts and feelings that somewhere in all of that we will find ourselves in ways we never imagined. It is in that process I hope and I hope for all of us that we can find some resolution and closure.

    2. I agree that it is unfair that there is no restitution. My anger with the AP is that there is no remorse. My husband has remorse, he is doing everything he can to make this up to me. This has destroyed him as well. He doesn't like the person he became with her. The AP on the other hand has taken no responsibility for her part in the affair. In fact she feels sorry for herself and puts all the blame on my husband. Well it takes two to "tango" as they say, and she knew he was married. She is just as responsible for the affair as he is. Even after he ended the affair she continued to try to lure him back with her pathetic attempts. They didn't work, my husband shared all attempts with me and we worked through it. Eventually she gave up. My concern now is that she will do this to another woman. She doesn't feel remorse and flirts with married men all the time. I think it's an ego boost for her. I would like her to understand the pain that her actions caused so many people, more than just her, my husband and me. It affects so many people, my girls, our friends that found out, her son who knew what was going on and tried to tell her it was wrong. For her to understand though I would have to contact her and I am not willing to give her any of my time. I just want to prevent other women from suffering the same pain I have.

    3. Ah yes, wouldn't it be sweet if those who cheated were called into a public square and shamed? Or made to wear scarlet letters? I completely agree that justice is never really ours. What I've discovered, however, that as time goes on, "justice" seems less and less important.
      In the end, I wouldn't want to be either the OW or my husband. I wouldn't want to live with that sense of disappointment in myself for making that choice. THAT is my husband's sentence -- to live knowing what he did to me and to his kids. The OW in my case could care less about the pain she caused us. But there's simply no way to make someone without scruples suddenly develop them. It's a losing battle.
      Ladies, the best we can do is learn to keep our side of the street clean, as my friend so euphemistically recommends. To live a life of integrity and grace. Life isn't fair, as I often remind my children. If it was, then nobody would be starving, kids would all have loving homes, people wouldn't die from lack of clean water. Sometimes shit happens. And sometimes we have to help clean it up when it does. Not fair. Not just.

    4. Elle, I could read your feedback all day, it's powerful, inspiring and hard hitting. Just what I need on a Monday morning thank you :) xx

  16. Anon Goodmorning,
    I like your energy and it made me think about my justice. His affair tainted everything for me in some way. (Xmas, house, truck, farm, dog, porches, brown chairs, restaurants). I went through PTSD therapy but all still remains tainted. You really made me think. Our society tells a story that romance equal affairs. We have to turn off so many TV and cable shows, movies because they all have affairs - his triggers are worse than mine somehow about TV shows/movies I'm glad he at least has some triggers. Sex in our society has always been secret. What couples do in the bedroom is their own business type of mentality. So he has to keep it a secret and now I have to keep another type of secret because I found other woman judge me which just adds another layer of difficulty so I continue to keep the secret. There is no justice when we have to keep secrets. Anything to do with the law and billable hours is so expensive it prohibits victims from seeking justice. Woman who are worried if they have enough to support themselves let alone sit across from a lawyer with a stop watch. I wish there was justice I can't imagine what it would be but I really like your idea. Alot.

    My therapist said do you think you can ever make him hurt as much as you do? I said no. She said then why keep trying? He tells me he pays but realizes not as much, guilt everyday but I dont see him raging, how could he have done this to me and I have seen him cry often, get despondent. For a military officer crying is a very big deal. but in any tragedy you can't get back what was stolen. It is hard to accept. I'm from the "burnt my bra protest generation" and I can't think of one damn thing to make this any better. This changed me but I still will keep my spirit. I sought justice for a year and didn't get anywhere. But believe me if something happens to my husband this whole damn town is going to know who SHE is Ms. Psycho-bitch kindergartenteacher who is married but phcked my husband and two other guys all at the same time while teaching children values, right from wrong. If I received restitution from my husband or Psycho- bitch I really don't think it would make me feel any better. It is like raging in the moment, I temporarily feel better but it is only temporary.

  17. Let me tell you that I did nothing to deserve this. Certainly with the first physical affair our marriage was fine. We didn't even have kids yet to distract my attention from my husband.

    Ultimately his reason was he was living every mans dream: have a great wife at home but still get to have sec with more women. He figured he found a loophole: she was married so there would be no strings attached. He figured she would never pressure him to leave because she was married & had 3 kids of her own.

    There will be no justice. She also went back to her family & is still married 10 years later as are we. I am 1 1/2 years out and having a bad week, after multiple great weeks.

    I was recently triggered by my husband going to a work related happy hour. In my mind his going out anywhere without me equates with his 10 years of living life as a bachelor when he was out with his friends flirting with every other woman and leaving me home as though I were the babysitter. Of course he doesn't see it this way.

    I'm sick of trying to see things from his perspective. I want him to at least try to see it from mine. I'm tired of trying to rebuild our relationship. I just want to get on with my life.


    1. Aw Sam, I'm sorry. This does seem to be a pattern in your marriage, doesn't it. He just doesn't seem to be able to validate how hard this still is for you...and how painful it is when you're triggered. Make sure that this isn't one-sided. Make sure that you do get heard. That you do get to set boundaries. And that they are respected.

    2. I may sound stupid but I really didn't recognize this episode as having been triggered. Now I'm 1 1/2 years out I realized I can be triggered when he goes out while I sit home. We discussed it this past weekend & then I felt much better. In my head all those years I equated him going out without me as his opportunity to flirt & spend time with these other women. But after we discussed it of course it was worse in my mind than in fact. THe women he cheated with were all women he worked with & when he goes out it's usually with the guys. I also interpreted his going ou without me as him preferring other women's company to mine. After hearing my fears he reassured me that he wasn't flirting with women like I thought. I know it's crazy for me to believe what he says but just airing everything out made me feel better. He listed all the times he and I went out both with & without the kids to prove how much he likes my company.


  18. Lynn Pain,
    Whoooo there Nellie! No "bullshit" opinion in my humble opinion. You got the right of it methinks! Kinda like how you put it!!

    I'm damn sick and tired of being sick and tired!! HIMSELF made the phone call today - Yup, Friday at 4pm when all the therapists offices are closed for the day. HE asked if I would talk to him since he made the call. (I'm in no talking mode now) I just looked at him. You see folks each week when I go to the therapist -- my wings get stronger. Will I fly away?? Dunno yet...

    (((US))) Hugs for all of us....

    1. Oh Terry, I love that. I love that your wings are getting stronger. And I love that you share that strength and wisdom with the rest of us. Hugs to you too!

  19. Ha! Terry, ride that wave of strength! Hugs for all of us! Love it.

  20. You ALL are the wind beneath my wings! When I first came here to 'lurk' and read -- I was so, so, so alone. I saw myself in many of your posts.

    Now I have something to share. For the past 2 hours I've been reading a webpage that I think may help some - not all. It is the first time I have read about the severe almost life ending pain which I felt. It is an extremely long article but here is the link:

    If it helps just one of us then....well....

    I hope Elle will review the article and if she thinks it is appropriate here she will approve this post.

    1. What a fabulous link, Terry. Thanks so much for that. I'll try and add it to my blogroll so that people can find it easily.
      Here's my much-shorter (and frankly less helpful) post about infidelity as trauma:

  21. I, too, have read and heard the idea that I was in some part to "blame" for my husband's affair. That "we" let a third person into our marriage. I cannot agree with this idea. We were growing apart and I was acutely aware of it. I verbally noted my observations more than once and was unheard. I verbally asked for more date nights and how I enjoyed a night out with him, but it went unheard. I verbally made my observations clear, but nothing improved. I'm NOT taking any blame for my husband then making the direct choice to go online and find another woman. It wasn't someone from work and things "just happened". He sought it out. Despite the fact that friends were going through adultery and divorce... despite knowing how broken our friend was over what had happened with her husband's affair...despite knowing how I felt about cheating. He 100% made that choice. I felt neglected, ignored, lonely, unloved. I did not cheat. He did not ask me my opinion of what he was about to do. No, I won't take responsibility for his affair. I feel like what I read in this blog and elsewhere just talks in circles about this matter.

    1. Anonymous,
      Steam has also responded below. I'm sorry I didn't see your comment until now.
      I don't think anyone here has ever said that we should take responsibility for his affair. I certainly don't think that, nor does anyone else on this site, as far as I know. His affair is 100% on him. He made the choice without any opportunity for you to weigh in.
      I'm sorry if you felt that anything here implied that you were somehow even partly responsible for your husband's choice to cheat. If you're still on this site, please let us know.

  22. Anon I agree with you. I really, upon reading this so many months later, I should clarify. I realize that I was only responsible for checking out of the relationship. so I could stay comfortable. For that, I take responsibility.

    I do not take any responsibility for his affair, that is 100 percent on him We were in the same marriage and yet I didn't cheat.

    More time gives me more perspective.

    We never asked for this at all. None of us caused this.

    And bravo to you for staying checked in.

    I didn't. and two years later, it can be a struggle to stay checked in

    But it still does not give anyone permission to cheat. That is 100 percent on them. No math necessary.



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