Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Wednesday Word Hug: Be Kind


  1. Along the lines of today's Word Hug: A friend who has recently slipped off the radar, popped back up. She was in the desperate throes of having discovered her husband's behavior, trying to handle it and keep it together, but needing a life line. I was so honored that she reached out to me and trusted me with her pain.

    Without getting too deep in the weeds of their situation, his behavior has consisted of sexting type contact with women via apps (like Snapchat). Their children are aware of what he is doing, and are very resentful and angry. They outed him to their mother, my friend. He said he would stop, deleted the app (and it had some sort of cloaking function that would hide that he even had the app installed). Shortly thereafter he was right back to it, and now lying about it.

    She has confronted him, but he tells her it's her fault, and that he has no intention of stopping because it's just online. He says he has not met anyone IRL. But he exchanges sexts and naked pictures with several women.

    She is afraid of what the repercussions will be of separating from him (kids, finances, etc), but also says she loves him very much.

    I am trying to provide the most neutral support I can (I don't want to tell her to leave or stay together, I just want to be there for her). I thought my own experience, and everything I've learned from everyone here would have given me so many tools. But I found myself at a loss for words when she began to question whether his behavior really was betrayal or not, whether it constituted adultery or not. I think it absolutely does, because he is hiding it, and he does this without having obtained her consent first, and now continues to do it knowing that it is destroying her. On the other hand, is it my place to tell her whether it is or isn't? For some people porn use by a spouse is a deal breaker, for others it's no big deal.

    I've asked her to come here, knowing that she will find someone else in a similar situation who might be able to share some wisdom, or at least commiserate.

    I'm so glad she reached out to me. All I want to do for her is reach out and wrap in a warm, safe hug and remind her that she is enough. It never was about her, just as it was never about any of us. It's about them, but when it goes off in our lives like an IED, we're the ones injured worst by the shrapnel. *sigh*

    I hope she finds us here, she needs you <3

    1. Periwinkle,
      Dr. Phil puts betrayal this way: If you wouldn't do it with you wife sitting beside you and watching, then you shouldn't be doing it.
      It really is that simple. Betrayal is behaviour that violates a partner's trust. It is taking something that both parties agreed was to exist within a committed relationship and going outside that relationship. The fact that this guy's kids know and he's STILL not shamed enough to stop tells me he's in really really deep. But it certainly doesn't help that his wife is, to some extent, allowing his "this isn't cheating" bullshit to enter her brain.
      However...if she were to come here, my suggestion would be to consider that it doesn't have to be an all-in or all-out thing. If she's not ready to leave, then what about a separation? What about some boundaries around where he sleeps? What about counselling?
      I'm so glad your friend has you to rely on and that you're being supportive without being judgemental. She really needs you right now. But the time might come when you gently suggest that she deserves someone who respects her and who doesn't intentionally inflict pain. What's more, her kids are watching her to see how she manages this.
      I suspect your friend struggles mightily with boundaries (don't we all!!). I ache for the pain she's in and I hope she finds her way through it.
      Of course, she's welcome to join our secret sisterhood. Because what she's experiencing is cheating and betrayal. No question.

  2. Pornography and on-line chats is an affair in itself. He is sharing sex with someone that isn't his spouse. That is infidelity. He promised to remain monogamous with her, that means sharing only with your spouse. He is looking at other naked women. She must feel violated. When she married him, she expected he would only be looking at her body. Affair on-line is always available. These affair women never go away. These affair women are ready when he is. These affair women can follow him everywhere. Is she willing to face every day wondering why she isn't good enough. Why her body can't be enough for him?. Why would he choose another woman over her. This is not harmless. This is infidelity. This is a cheater.

    He sounds like a bully and she may feel beaten down. So ignored that she may not have the strength to stand up to him. I'm so glad she has you to help her. She can only decide if he is betraying her. I might start with this is my opinion only. I don't want to say what is right or wrong for you. Only you can decide what you can live with. I try to authentic in all things so I have to tell you my honest opinion. Then tell her. Sometimes I want to be told the truth so I know I'm not losing my mind. She may need this. I don't know. Tell her your opinion then let it go and just support her. I do know if my H did this I would take every electronic device in the house computer, phone, I pad and smash it with a hammer. Then I would tell him he needs to leave until he understands why this is wrong. I read, how to tell when someone is lying. Super defensiveness is one sign. I wish I would have had a friend like you to tell me about boundaries. Elle and others did that for me without fail, 24-7 every year since December 13, 2013.

  3. I think many of us have a secret thought when we calm down, for example “ well, at least he didn’t do XYZ”. I know i have one and my bet is that to others, what my h did seem much worse than what they went through. I might say ,well at least she wasn’t a neighbor” while others think “well at least it wasn’t hookers”’. I’m not sure what this self protection mode is but i bet the majority of us have one. It’s very clear to me that sexting and dirty pictures cross the line even if no one laid on hand in each other. It’s all betrayal. I’m so
    Sorry for your friend. She is very welcome here.

  4. Betrayal is always what is in the heart of the person that is enduring it! Yes in my opinion, porn is also betrayal! It’s very hurtful to know that he prefers to watch other naked women and men have sex! His excuse of checking out his tools just doesn’t cut it! My h excuse for his porn use!

  5. I hope your friend comes here. Even when I haven't posted anything, the advice here is invaluable.

  6. I agree with Beagle Mom...
    I don't post as often as I read and think about the words of comfort found here.
    Thankful to all of you for sharing and listening. Grateful to have found this safe haven of amazing women... all kinds of amazing.

  7. Elle, LLP, Steam, Theresa, Beagle Mom, thank you all for your support! This is exactly the reason I've asked her to come here. (Although I hope she doesn't feel like I've violated her trust by sharing some of what is going on in her life).
    Elle, I think Dr. Phil's description is elegantly simple, and gets right to it. If he is using an app to hide what he is doing, or tossing the phone down when she walks in the room, he knows he is doing something he doesn't want her to know about. Where I'm coming from on the "is it betrayal" is that different people have different thresholds for what they consider acceptable behavior in the context of a relationship. For some people porn consumption does not cross a line. I mean, would reading erotica cross a line? I don't want to judge where people draw their own lines. If someone doesn't mind a spouse watching porn, that's for them to decide. If for someone else porn crosses the line, that's for them to decide. That's what perfect about what Elle quoted. It means there isn't a line carved in stone. But if you're sneaking and hiding, you know you're crossing a line in the context of your specific relationship.
    She's asked him to go to counseling, he refuses. He says he is entitled to his private life (how do you like that one?!?!) I agree with you LLP, he is a bully. Her therapist has told her to leave him, that he is emotionally abusive. But, as her friend I do not want to alienate her. So if I push that she should leave him, and she decides to stay, it might make her withdraw from me. And I know she really needs the support now, and she hasn't told anyone else. So, better to remain neutral for now and be there, I think.
    I finally did tell her that if it is hurting her, and if he continues to do it even after he has been told that it is hurting her, it is betrayal. She is questioning whether she’s making something out of nothing, overreacting, but you’re right, that’s him getting into her head.
    Steam, you bring up a really good point that is painfully honest! After I talked with her I won't deny that I thought "well, at least my H stopped his affair and apologized and didn't tell me it was my fault". On the other hand, she is probably saying to herself after talking to me, "well at least my H didn't have physical sex with another woman". Even that is a negotiation with ourselves and what we're willing to endure, and in the end I find it all sad. That's where I am right now. Just sad. Sad that a friend is in the same boat, that these men have to be so unreliable. Sad that the choice has to be between losing everything we've built over the years, or sacrificing a part of yourself and self-worth to pardon a wayward spouse.
    Again, I'm so thankful that you all are here. Even being in the same boat, sometimes the right words are hard to find. Thank you for helping me find some of the right ones to say to her.

    1. Periwinkle,
      You're a good, loyal friend. My heart breaks for her because I think she's talking herself into being grateful that "at least he blah blah blah", which means that, as we discussed a couple of months ago, she's learned to settle for crumbs. What's more heartbreaking is that she's teaching her kids, particularly any daughters she has, to settle for crumbs.
      I read somewhere once this line: At some point, we all need to exchange our wishbone for a backbone. I think this is her point. However, as you note, it's her path to walk. All you (and us, if she comes here) can do is keep her company and remind her that she's worthy of kindness and decency and being loved.

    2. “At some point, we all need to exchange our wishbone for a backbone.”
      I love this Elle!

  8. M h was also caught by my kids using Kik. They were 14 & 15 and my daughter esp cornered him and confronted my h on her own. I had no knowledge of this and found out 6 months later. Kids are smarter than we think. They have their own pain timeline to deal with. They don’t just brush it off. It’s their betrayal too. The H needs to deal with her just as much as me. We are on the mend but seriously it took a long time for either of us to trust.

    I find that with social media this secrecy of chatting with others begins at teens now. You can chat with anyone anytime and unless someone is allowed on your device, they would never know. Sooo this betrayal is hitting boys and girls earlier in life. Kinda sad really. I’ve counseled one young teen so far over this...Naked photos and secret messages :(.



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