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I need some advice about LOVE. (part 1)H has been doing all the right things in the past few days/weeks. Says I am the love of his life, he is so lucky that I am willing to work on our marriage. We go to faith based program + MC/IC. He sends me a beautiful email every day. Our sex life is amazing. We have been married 18 and together for 20. I'm 3mos from dday. But, his A was some time ago. Between Thksgvng and Xmas of ‘05, when I was 8mos preg with our 2nd. H’s cousin's wife (OW) began emailing my H after Thksgvng to complain about her H, my H complained back about me, it lead to 'if I were them I would appreciate you' which led to 'sexting'. All via work email, then she invited him to meet her for sex in a parking lot (they live 2.5 hrs from us) and he did. It 'ended' shortly after that when her H found their emails and confronted my H on Xmas. But, CH stayed in touch with OW on & off (at first he said for 18 months, then I found out it was actually 4 years). CH said primarily prior to family events (maybe 1-2 times per year were we in the same room and her H, my kids and I were always present). CH would email to make sure OW or her H weren’t going to tell me (says he didn't want a divorce because of our kids). Secondarily, they emailed, especially ‘06-‘07, to complain about their spouses (when I asked him why after dday he got defensive and said because "misery loves company"). Admitted, they would still “sext" on occasion. They never went anywhere, he never bought her anything, didn't send each other photos, maybe talked on the phone 2-3x when it started (my H is not a long talker).Meanwhile, I have hundreds of photos and a large box of cards my H gave to me during those years - you would have thought we were a normal couple who loved each other & had some typical issues from the stress of everyday life. In ‘08 my H and I renewed our vows and a very romantic 2nd honeymoon for our 10yr anniv. Prior to Xmas ‘09 we took his family out for dinner. Our 4 yr old dtr took pics of the family - my H and I are loving on each other, H is kissing me. The OW's H had her sit on the other side of my H (psycho). The OW sat on my lap at the end of the meal, looked at my H and said "isn't she beautiful". It was so odd to me then, she and I were not close. But, I NEVER would have thought it was because they were/had an A. OW & her H were poor, so I paid for their meal.1 week later was Xmas, went to Church as a family & dinner with friends; H took candid pics of me in my skimpy nightgown Xmas morn; a week later fun family vacation; a week later a very nice double date; next weekend our son's bday party. For all of these pics of my H & I smiling together. In the meantime, OW and her H split up. My H found out about it. The following weekend he goes alone to visit his mom to help her with house (legitimately) AND contacts the OW to meet him in the car in the same parking lot. CH said that he wanted to make sure OW or her H weren't going to tell me now that she had nothing to lose + he thought they might have sex. CH said they talked, that she wanted to 'fool around' but he felt guilty, had ED and had to 'let her down gently' because 'hell hath no fury like a woman scorned'. A week later more pics of my H & I looking happy together. CH said maybe communicated with her 1-2x after that then never again (probably fine with her because she started dating another married man about then). 2mos after their rendezvous H went back through our old digital pics from family holidays. Pics of our children in the foreground, but OW is in the background of 3 - he labeled these with her name. No other pics from that day have labels. I found these after dday and asked H why he labeled only them & he said "they were the only photos I had of her". continued...
(part 2)After dday I asked H if he loved OW, he said "I thought I did" and if he thought he had a future with OW he said "Yes, I did, but there's something about when 2 people get together under those circumstances that you never can trust the other person". In MC I told the counselor that I was bothered that he thought the A was love and H got defensive saying "she spoke my love language". We talked about it in MC again last night, MC calls it 'luv/lust'. My H has never been able to say that he knows that was not love. I think I will heal from H having sex. I don’t think I can ever heal from H being 'in love' with OW at any point during our marriage despite all the good progress in the present. It makes me want to be divorced or worse. Has/is anyone else dealing with this? I don't know what to do or how to go on if H loved OW, even if it was over 7yrs ago. I feel like I am trying to convince him it was a fantasy and remind him that he had true love right under his nose the whole time. What can/should I do?
Browneyedgirl, I don't think there's anything you can do. You can't convince him. His version of "love" sounds a lot different than yours and I'm not sure you can change that. At some point, I hope he'll get his head out of his ass and realize that "love" is day in/day out loyalty. It's hardly a quickie in a car. It sounds as though he's confusing that reckless excitement with love because our culture tells us that's what love feels like. It's a very immature notion of love.I think the ball's in your court right now. He's telling you that he believed it was love and no amount of arguing is going to change that, even if you get him to change his words. He might realize what love really is once he loses it but, of course, it's up to you to decide if that's what you want. He'll likely figure out it was fantasy at some point, though I would think he'd have become clear by now. Sorry Browneyedgirl, I don't know what else to say. Some guys are just kinda dumb about this stuff. They have no idea how lucky they are until it's too late.
Browneyedgirl,I'm no expert, but I do know how it feels to have your H define things differently and to struggle over that. Mine claims he had no feelings at all for one of the OW (there were 5 OW. I know. 5. That's a big number.) Anyway, with one of themI can clearly see them commenting on each other's photos of our families and "liking" them... showing concern when each other posted that they were sick. All this went on for a year. They didn't have any more physical encounters after the once, but this certainly seems like feelings to me. Or at least concern. Or more than just sex. I still struggle with those thoughts and my need to prove my point, but there came a time when I had to let go of labels and semantics. He crossed the line. More lines than I ever even thought to draw. He admitted it was all wrong. Every bit of it. He explained what was going on in his head when he made these choices and how he now sees things differently now. He unfriended her immediately on all social media. He agreed to total transparency (I know all the passwords and I check everything including his search histories which he is not allowed to delete). He has no contact with her at all. If he bumps into her, he has agreed to tell me immediately. He can call it whatever he wants to call it. I call it horrendous pain. The labels and semantics don't matter as much now. The actions, the agreements going forward, the love we feel and express to each other, our new ways of communicating... Those are the things I finally had to call the skeleton of our healing. "Love", "feelings" "just sex"... call it whatever you want. Those labels aren't holding everything else up.
Our Retrouvialle goes through mid March. He is doing all the MC/IC I ask for, he is deepening in his faith, he quit self-medicating, he stopped sharing any info about our marriage with his mother, he checks in on me every day to see how I'm feeling (I usually don't answer him directly or I would constantly be saying "since you asked, I'm crying about you betraying me, again". He says I love you all the time, that I am his soul mate, best friend, love of his life, that he's the luckiest guy in the world to have me. He has cried with me. Said that I am beautiful inside and out. Said he needs me in his life desperately. That he loves me now more than ever. He wrote me a heartfelt apology letter where he took full accountability. Says he wishes he could go back in time and make different decisions. Said he will marry me again if I want (he must be smoking crack if he thinks I'm doing that - the 2x vow renewals we did didn't prevent infidelity, a 4th set will do nothing but remind me of the prior broken vows). He has planned a weekend away for us and this coming weekend he is taking me on a surprise date (all he said was dress up semi-formal and wear high heels). I do think he sees a big differentiation from his A "luv" and that this is forever/marriage true love with me for certain. I know that IF he said "I love you" to OW and meant that I can't live with that. I'm afraid to ask if they said it because I only want a "no". So far all I know is 'he thought he loved her'. Despite most everything else going well. Loving another is a deal-breaker for me emotionally. I know I can not handle knowing that for the rest of my life. I'm on antidepressants now and I don't intend to take them for the rest of my life.You're right Elle, I'm not going to feel any better by me trying to change his mind. He has to come to it on his own or risk loosing me for good. Once you do all this counseling & Retrouvialle they say 85% of couples are still together several years later. If he doesn't tell me the A wasn't love, I'm going to be the 15% at the attorney's office.I have 2 children to think of, should they grow up in a broken home because daddy porked his cousin's wife while I was pregnant and his feeling of "love" for OW was straw that broke the camel's back that caused mommy to kick daddy out? I probably sound like a crazy person that I care about this word/feeling SO much.Retrouvialle is going to talk about LOVE is a verb next Sunday and I want the MC to address this with us in session next week. Serendipitously, our apt.is on Valentine's Day - but where better to spend the 1st Vday after Dday #3 than in your MC office! So we'll see where she takes us with this. Some days I wake up feeling truly loved by him and full of hope that our marriage will survive. Other days I cry so much I get close to driving to my attorney's office because I don't wants to live in this pit of pain for so long. I am just trying to finish Retrouvialle and by then we will have had 7 mos of MC/IC plus 8 wks of faith based program. I think I will have better clarity of direction by then.
I have some major similarities with you and your story. For me on dday my husband told me he would always love me but was not "in love" with me. He told me he was not "in love" with anyone and had not been since our earlier days of marriage so that varies some. The whole I am not "in love" reason/explanation just did not sit well with me. It pretty much enraged me since I felt then why are you with me. Why do you lie to me every day? Why do you continue to pretend we are a family? It was all confusing and upsetting. Of course in my normal style I in addition to researching and learning about betrayal I really dug deeper into this "in love" explanation. And I should note my husband is in the mental health field so of course he provided me of two in depth definitions of loving someone vs being in love with someone. Well to me it all sounded like one big excuse. I read a lot about it as I said and nothing really rang true with me. I think the in love is more the infatuation, honeymoon phase, escape of whatever relationship. We discussed this a lot in the months after dday. Here is what I found happened through our discussions. I really do not believe there is a difference. I do feel what he was describing was more of the lust, escape, different experience at least for his case. And over time he developed a strong sense that love is a verb and that it requires time and effort no matter where you are in the relationship. For him he acknowledged that the in love was really just an escape and something different and new. It came with a lot of negative things which he was saddled with for 10+ years. But he figured this out on his own and realized because of his actions he dug himself in a hole and chose to detach more and more from me to avoid his guilt and shame as much as possible. This took some time though and a lot of work.
Browneyedgirl, There's a strength behind your uncertainty and I hope you'll continue to tap into that. I wonder if part of your issue with this is our cultural notion that you can only "love" one person at a time. There are different types of "love". And it's possible that his version of "love" with her was, as I noted earlier, that sort of infatuation/fantasy that we all feel at the beginning of a relationship. I guess I worry that if you make this word a deal-breaker, then he'll tell you what you want to hear rather than what he really believes. And assuming your goal is to rebuild a stronger, more honest marriage, that might run counter to that. It's muddy, isn't it? On the one hand, we want honesty. On the other, we want to hear what we want to hear. Perhaps let it sit for a bit. Your Retrovaille might help clarify what he means. But ultimately, at you note, you get to decide if you want to rebuild with him or not. Leaving is a perfectly reasonable option and kids with divorced parents can do just fine. Far more imporatnt, I think, is for kids to see a respectful honest relationship, no matter what form it comes in.
Browneyedgirl,I love what Elle said about the strength behind your uncertainty. I did not feel strong when I was in limbo about what I was going to choose when I first found out, but looking back, I was. It takes a lot of strength to sit and take in information as it comes, to feel the pain, to pick apart and dissect your situation and hold off on the impulse to bury it, numb it, or run. It sounds to me that that is what you are doing right now--showing that strength and taking it all in. But you're nearing the point where you are going to be able to make an informed choice. Just like when you're at the end of a long race, there is a tendency to speed up when you're close to the finish line. You can if you want, but you don't have to. I also like her advice to me about choosing differently any time I want to. It's not like any of us have to choose just the one time and stick with it if things change/we change our minds. Sending you lots of love as I know you are struggling to make sense of all of this and decide what you want to do and when you want to do it. Any choice you make will be perfectly OK and the people around you will be OK too. You are a very strong and caring person! I understand and support your need to assess what the deal breakers are for you. You are very wise to do that of course!
Elle, You are right. I AM very much stuck on the word. It matters to me. When he says he loves me now I think: really? How is our relationship love if THAT was love as well. I fell in love with him over many months when we were in person. How do you have love by email. 21 years of cards where he said he loved me. Now as we try to repair he says I am "the love of his life". That is as best as I can get right now. I can't accept that he could "love" the OW. Se ruined his life. He ended up on antidepressants after he had sex with her because of the guilt. But clearly there was some feelings there or he would never have kept intermittently emailing her or inviting her for unsuccessful sex 4 years later. The MC and I both think it was fantasy/infatuation/lust/etc. Hopeful30,What he describes was the same as you do. He was unhappy with himself and she made him feel good about himself. He is using love as a feeling, not a verb. But, my H doesn't use those other terms, he just sits there quietly and lets MC say "lust". He also doesn't correct her and say "love", he clams up. Even though he ended the A ended 7 years ago on his own decision, to heal I need to be the only woman he "loved" since we got married. I recently forgave for and feel that I will heal from the sex (we had/have great sex - there is no way 1x in the backseat of our car could compare). And, I don't care who he loved before we met, I was in love 2x before I met my husband, I get it, but not since. Love is a big part of monogamy to me. It hurts so bad. Ann, Thank you for thinking I am strong. I don't feel strong, but it helps to hear I sound like I am. I'm so grateful for all of you who understand. I wish none of us had a reason to be on here. It's amazing how much betrayal hurts even when your H is putting effort into reconciliation.
Brown eyed girlIn the first discussions with my h, the ow had told me of their mutual love based on their passionate sex. My h explained that he had 'feelings' for her but he never told her he loved her! She was a damsel in distress and he was her knight in shining armor. Gag! She mistakenly took the sex for love. Destroyed her marriage divorced and thought my h would do the same. When he ended the affair 5 months before dday(sexual part of affair) he thought he had her convinced it was over and leave him alone. She on the other hand continued to call him text him and he met her a few times for lunch(she needed closure), then she asked him as a friend to help with her computer at her apartment(her teenage son was there) so he went and when she tried to kiss him, he said no we're not starting this again and I mean it. Well he stopped answering her calls text emails just ignored her. Then he took one call where she was insisting if it's really over you need to tell 't' or else I will. At this point my h told her well you just do what you think you have to do and hung up on her. Two weeks later on the day my h was traveling home from a business trip, she blew up my phone with all the truth! Well, it's taken two years for this shit to keep hitting the fan because this crazy woman still believes he will 'come back to being the man she loved both ways) gag! So I had to come to understand the affair from my h perspective as well as hers and then decide if I could live with it all. This hasn't been an easy journey for either of us. It doesn't matter what I label the affair at this point, he lied(not directly, only by not telling me it was going on, he knows the difference is the same now) he broke our vows and he had to make many changes to his way of living for me to continue to stay in our marriage. We are a work in progress, he's convinced me he's in for the duration, and even when we survive my major meltdowns, he tells me he understands and loves me more than ever. I too got bogged down in words the cow used to declare her love for my h but his actions spoke louder than her words! Take your time working through how these things make you feel. Trust me I know the anger/hurt knowing he had any feelings of any kind for another woman! Hugs!
Thank you for sharing your experience, Theresa. One of the planned sessions for Retrouvialle this coming weekend is "Love is a Verb". So, I'm going to hold further discussion with him until after that. I hope he has an epiphany, but I'm keeping my expectations low.
I totally understand how you feel BEG. I know I had similar feelings and over time worked through them. I know Elle has said it a lot but time and boundaries helped me the most. But we all have to determine what he want and can accept. For me focusing on myself gave me clarity as to what I wanted and what was important to me."Love is a verb" must be a common thing. After about 3-4 months I heard that a lot from my husband. I think it is common in the mental health field. I think it gets away from the initial feelings of love and the idea that it requires effort. Have you seen the information regarding the different types of love. They start with initial phase and eventually get to mature love. It is interesting to read and I even think I could see where an affair can start if that mature love does not seem what one person expects. Have a great weekend and I hope you report back!
Yes Hopeful 30, I just can't see how a relationship based in email for about 3 weeks then meeting for sex in the backseat of our car is even the initial phase of love. Then they got caught by her H and had no further physical contact for 4 years. I'm sure she made him feel very good about himself when he was having such low self-esteem from loosing his job. But how can a 99% email relationship based on complaining about your spouses be equated to falling in love? Falling in love is about getting to know the other person, having shared experiences and chemistry. I've decided to go to IC alone tomorrow to work through this. Right now, for me, his saying he thought he loved OW and had a future with her may be the "straw" that breaks the proverbial camel's back. Of course there is so much more to our story (above) this A was not the only damage.There was no acknowledgement from him during or after Retrouvialle's "love is a verb" session yesterday. Probably because now that it's all out the and I forgave him H is in the present. His perspective is all about making me feel loved by him now. I cried there. He didn't get it. I couldn't bring myself to tell him that it's because he gave his heart to someone other than me - I fear he won't disagree that he did. It didn't help that the couple presenting the W had a 1 year A and kept describing it as 'being in love with OM'. However in her case, they worked together and met every weekend for sex for a year, wrote love letters. I still think her A was also a fantasy, not love - but at least in their case they had more in person shared experiences than simply complaining and sexting in email. The antidepressants are helping me crawl out of the deep dark pit of depression and the stronger I feel the more dissolution of our marriage sounds like a reasonable decision. Right after dday the idea of divorce seemed like the worst thing that could ever happen to me. I long to be with a man who would cherish and never betray me. Yet, we are putting in all this work and my H looks like he could becoming such a man. So, if we split and he finds someone else his next relationship will have a better chance than ours because it was me who put in all the work to help him improve. The irony. But, he may have done way too much damage for us to come back from it. So my best decision is no decision for now...
I was mildly mistreated/made to feel like a difficult person before finding out about the A's, but not so much now. I think I put up with it before because I didn't feel like I could do anything about it. I mean, I took vows for better or worse and at least he was not cheating on me (never had to worry about that at least!) I put up with a difficult present for the promise of a secure future. When that blew up in my face, everything changed including how I expect to be treated. When I think of the future, I get scared a lot of the time because I now know there are tons of reasons I may have to leave my marriage. Further infidelities are only one scenario. If I do not feel respected, if he stops listening/caring/showing up, if he takes out his frustrations on me constantly (I know people in relationships need to express frustration, but there is a limit I am now willing to put up with. I'm talking about NON-abusive behavior/grumpiness here.)... In some ways I worry that I'm not "committed" enough, but my level of commitment should not really be in question in my opinion. I am committed as long as I'm not in this alone, and not one inch further than that. This is a huge difference from how I viewed marriage initially. So, because the future scares me and I can't be sure my H will continue to treat me the way I need to be treated, I focus on today. Today I am treated well. Today he listens to me/cares about me/shows it... That's all I have anymore, and in reality, the here-and-now is all I ever had despite my false sense of security. If I had looked at my marriage that way from the start, I wouldn't have found myself putting up with bad behavior before that left me feeling unappreciated/unloved/disrespected. I am scared to report that I am happy and joyful most of the time now in my marriage (of course not all the time. I still have triggers and bad days and likely always will). I am now aware that once you are happy it can be taken from you. So I will have to experience my happiness with a dose of fear on the side and just keep moving forward. Everything else keeps me miserable.
Ann,I'm curious what the "fear" part of the equation is. What, exactly, are you afraid of? I think if you explore that -- really get to the bottom of what you're afraid of (being alone? financial problems? growing old?), you'll be able to put that fear into perspective. Far more frightening, I think, is to feel as though you have no control over your future. You clearly do. And that's empowering.
Thank you. That is so true. I am afraid of being alone. I get a great deal of comfort, affection, and laughing/fun with my H. I don't want that to go away. I deal with that fear by allowing myself to imagine a great life without him sometimes. It wouldn't be so bad. Maybe in a city I love, doing things I love to do... I am afraid of being stupid. Coming to the realization that I gave a second chance when I should not have. To deal with that, I remind myself that I have a choice every day. I am actually proud of the way I have handled this crisis (mostly). That won't change if my H turns out to be someone different. I know who I am in a way I never would have otherwise. Financially I will be OK. Not great, but certainly OK. I deal with any issues there by thinking how nice it would be to have more simplicity in my life with fewer trappings. I guess my biggest fear is being as low as I was when I first found out about this again. Not eating, not sleeping, barely hanging onto sanity. I guess I can battle that fear with the knowledge that while I don't want to feel that again, I do know I can deal with it (barely). I know I will never be without choices. I wouldn't like it, but it won't kill me. I guess the part I hadn't thought about is how much my self care would benefit me if I ever were to face this shock/gut punch again. On D day I was exhausted and had been running on empty for a while. If I can keep taking care of my needs, perhaps I can handle all tragedies (and there will be more coming for me in one form or another!) with a little tighter grip on my sanity and self. Thanks for causing me to think this through and letting me ramble to get it all out there!
Ann, To help you deal with the idea that, if your husband can't be who you need him to be, is this: Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn't know until you knew it. Beating yourself up serves no-one. Each day you make a choice. If today that choice is to stay, then that's your choice. If tomorrow, your choice is to leave, then that's fine too. Each day.
Ann I have felt so similar. I would say my husband overall was a decent husband, better than what my friends deal with. Not that I should measure based on that but I do. What stands out looking back was I was always the one with the problem. I was sick, I was tired, I was not able to get everything done. It was all on me since he worked hard and earned a great living in a stressful profession. I even heard time to time how he would trade with me in a second to be able to raise our kids. But he never really saw what I did every day. And it was not just raising kids, but managing the entire house, our finances, our retirement... Anyways I can look back and we had lots of good times but he always made me out to be the problem.I have gone through phases of being scared. I really am someone who could dwell on the past and overthink the future and missing the present. I am really focused now on the present. I just have to be. I cannot change all the horrible things he did. And the future I cannot do much about that except focus on the present. My husband has told me to focus on the reality not what I am thinking in my head. This is something I go back to all the time. It could be so dumb as he is at a sporting event and getting dinner with family and friends. Well the game goes over and my mind starts going in a million directions. Once the game is over he texts me. Well I am so worked up. And he tells me every time to call or text him if I ever need to reach him. He was doing nothing except what he said. Again not that big of a deal but we are working through all of that. Thankfully he is solid and not bothered by my concerns still and gets my perspective. In the end by focusing on the reality it has helped me self talk and not get in that fearful place as much. I also agree with you now more than ever I know I will be ok in all aspects of my life if we end up not being together. I would hate it if he betrays me or gives me a reason to leave him but I have learned my life and happiness are worth it and I will be fine.
(reading the quote above)...in that case stay away from your cheating, lying husband.
For some women, absolutely. Chris, I'm happy you found us if you're looking for a place where you can find support and an incredible group of women who understand the pain you're in. And most of us are furious when we discover a partner's cheating. But please remember that many if not all of the women who come here are in incredible pain and what they need is support, not judgement. We each get to find our own way through this hell. There isn't a "right" response. So yes, for some women, the smartest thing to do is to get away from their husbands. But that doesn't hold true for everyone.