I am approaching my 16-month anniversary here on BWC and this coincides almost directly with my D-day.
I notice so many of our stories are so so similar, and our reactions to discovery bring the same sort of shock. None of us can believe it, few of us saw it coming, and the majority of us thought we were in as close to a “perfect” relationship as we could have imagined.
But some, I understand, did not go as berserk as others.
I am one who identifies with berserk.
If my H had come to me and said “I have something to tell you,” would I have reacted the same?
How did you find out, and why does it matter? Does it matter?
I have often described my own D-day. My husband was gone for a few hours when I found out. Before I melted into a screaming, heaving, weeping heap on the floor, I went through a lot, both on our shared computer and within myself. In case you missed my story, I, quite by accident, discovered his other life while on vacation and using one computer. He was out shopping (and texting and e-mailing too).
Apart from my mouth possibly hanging open, I may have looked calm when I found what I found but inside I was dying and I was pissed. The first things I saw were shocking but did not send me reeling. It was the cold, hard evidence that he actually HAD slept with someone (and then later found two someones) that sent me to the absolute brink and yet I didn’t react, not yet.
I had that computer to myself for two hours (I even welcomed a visitor to the house in the midst of all of it but, when I knew I could not hold it together, feigned sudden illness to get him to leave) and although I was in complete disbelief, I was not crying. Not yet.
By the time he got home I had more than enough info, seen more than enough photos, read more than enough e-mails to last a hundred betrayed lifetimes.
It was not until he walked into the door that I absolutely EXPLODED.
As I had searched and discovered, I now realize I was processing all of this info, and I was processing alone and could take my time and knew what I thought I would do when he got home. I would confront him, either (a) smugly or (b) calmly.
I was wrong on both counts.
I came unglued. I screamed. I hit (I have not hit anything or anyone since I was a child, not even a wall, in anger).
Boundaries were set IMMEDIATELY, lines were drawn IMMEDIATELY, threats (which I no doubt would have carried out at the mention of a 'wrong' word) were made IMMEDIATELY. None of this was done delicately or with any sort of tact or restraint. It was a screamfest along the lines of 'you do THIS or we are fucking DONE!'
I'd had two full hours to gear up and I let him HAVE it.
But what is it like if your husband tells you instead? I try to picture it in my own life. If my H had come clean and told me, would I have reacted the same? Would I have somehow given him some credit and had a different visceral response? Would his confession have toned my reaction down?
Would I have said to myself “he fucked up but at least he told me”? Would I have immediately experienced the same sort of grief that we all get to eventually? The same rage so many of us have? Would I have made the same immediate demands that I made?
Or would it have been tempered by his honesty had he cushioned the blow by saying something along the lines of 'I'm sorry, I did something horrible.'
I’m not sure there is a cushion large enough.
I have searched out discovery info and its bearing on relationships for months because I cannot imagine a worse way of finding out than mine (maybe because it's mine) and there are many ways to learn the news.
None of them are good.
Some people are told by a third party, some by the OP, some people get a warning, an anonymous email or maybe ask out of suspicion and are told the truth...and, yes, some are told by their spouse straight out.
But though there's little research on the impact of how we find out, I did come across this from Dr. Timothy Loving — yes, his real name – from “The Loving Lab,” which seems to specialize in the science of relationships.
In his findings, the relationship where the cheating partner discloses the affair without being asked suffers the smallest decline in “relationship quality” (I believe there is no “small”). The cheater caught “red handed” though? Their relationship suffers the largest decline in relationship quality, but that same partner “caught red handed” is most likely to be forgiven.
Yes. I know. I had the same thought. Why?
(You can read the short article here.)
I take exception with some of the statements and you might too but I have my own theory which is from the only experience that I have.
When you have actually caught your partner "red handed,” be it in person or, in my case, via the computer (Dr. Loving does not make a distinction so I don't know his definition), you pretty much get the full picture. I have no doubt I know 99 percent of what went on and 100 percent of what I need to know and have no unanswered questions. I suspect a few 'first bases' in that year that I don't know about but I don't care anymore.
I saw all I needed. So much that, sometimes, I wonder why I decided to stick with him.(I don't know where that came from) immediately. From the depth of all this pain, I somehow knew exactly what I was dealing with and had to decide if I could eventually come to live with what he had done and make something new from it together.
Would I have reacted the same if he had told me? I have no doubt in my mind he (maybe not all men, but he) would have edited his experiences heavily (I found out quickly that what he referred to as “just online flirting” included dickpics, really filthy language and unbelievable lies, including lies of omission). In these online conversations, I did not exist. At best, when he was with one of his "hers," I was referred to as “a girl he saw, sometimes”.
I wonder about those of us who are still struggling. Believe me, even though H and I have made tremendous progress and have a better relationship than ever, in every single way, I am not “over” this and I don't think I ever will be, completely.
It is now just a part of me that does not hurt as much as it did.
But those of us who are struggling – is it is because somehow we feel like we don't know everything and so cannot process everything?
And if our husbands try to “spare” us by not disclosing what we need to know, might this hinder our own process of healing?
I am asking. I don’t know. I see so many of us in pain, months and months and years later. Unbearable pain that I don’t know how we all get through.
But we can and we do. Somehow, we do.