Feeling Stuck, Part 23


  1. Had a nightmare last night. It was a voicemail that OW of 4 years had left that I found. She just kept repeating it. "When will you realize I'm number 1?" :( My heart hurts extra bad today. I thought about taking some time to go use a gift card I have for a pedicure but not sure how to fit it in with work. Maybe I'll take a long bubble bath. I hate these dreams.

    1. I am sorry! That is so hard to have those experiences. One thing I did for the first year was I slept with ear buds in. One band in particular helped me. It was just what I needed to calm me. And if I would wake up in the middle of the night or any time I would just play their music. It was amazing for me. I wish I could meet that band. We saw them in concert and it was amazing after we got through a lot of our stuff. My husband was with me at the concert and he said it was amazing and it was the most positive feeling concert he had ever been to. I thought that was interesting after the fact. Find what calms you and helps you get through it.

    2. I wonder if it's the weather ... the time of the year ... or just the universe continuing to play mind games with us?

      The OW has been in my dreams the past few weeks as well. Today I read a blog entry from another website about how to get past the hate for the WH ... in it the spouse talked about what she did to the OW ... I have to say it was an incineration not a salve to where I'm at.

      I can only imagine it will take a little while to get past this.

    3. Kimberly, So interesting, maybe it is the time of year. I typically do not remember my dreams. I had some odd ones with both ow in them. I woke up and had to take a double take and pinch myself.

      I cannot remember where you are in the recovery. We are almost at four years since dday. I am not sure I would say I have forgiven the ow and I don't necessarily wish them well. But overall I could care less about them. I got to a point where they were consuming too much of my time even though it was limited. I just had enough and realized they already stole ten years from my marriage and family. No more. But I had to go through the phase of working through it. Neither are part of my husband's daily life so that helps.

      Both contacted him within the first 8 months. Lucky for us he had broken up with both 15 months before dday. So that helped us move on. My husband proved if there was any contact that he would show me and we agreed each time how to handle it. He knows it is better to tell me than to hide anything. He did think about just erasing one text and voice mail but decided not to. I commended him and thanked him. It was hard for him. He wanted to sweep it under the rug and he would have pre dday. But that built a lot of trust between us. Hang in there! My biggest advice figure out what you want and speak up sooner than later. I don't hold back and not say what I am thinking. So much better for everyone.

    4. H30 - we are 19 months from DDay #1 ... and there have been a gazillion between now and then. So many lies and manipulation that continue.

      I keep telling myself I'm staying to keep the family unit together. But it's quickly losing it's luster.

    5. Kimberly,
      I think it's time to really consider the cost to you of "keeping the family together". Sometimes, it's just too much and the sacrifice you're making is too much. You deserve a relationship in which you feel safe and valued. You also want to model to your children what that looks like.

  2. Gem
    Your story from previous page 22 from Jan 01st.
    Sorry I'm late in the loop here. I am sorry to hear you having to deal with this ex friend. What an absolute horrible human she is.

    Your comments and Elle's current post for Wednesdays word hug is so timely for me right now.
    I have to vent!
    I've had members of his family betray me. Namely his parents and now I find his sister in law, who is married to his brother. The funny thing was, my ex and this sister in law hated each other. My sister in law is one of these fake bitches that posts all lovey dovey shit on social media about working on marriages and being kind to people (the kids showed me her posts) - BUT she is the fakest back stabbing bitch I know. My kids don't like her, even before all this came out about their fathers cheating. They could see her for what she is. I tried to just keep the peace.
    So this sister in law now ignores me and has become friendly with my exes new whore which just flabbergasted me. I don't know why she is behaving like this. I will not contact her, but I know I will probably bump into her as she goes to the same shopping mall as I do.
    So when this sister in law first found out what my ex had been doing she told me how horrified and disgusted she was with my ex. and how she can't believe how I managed to keep it quiet all these years.
    She is a horrible person, especially when for years her marriage was far from perfect and I was a supporter of hers, knowing what that family my ex is from is like. I knew what she was going through and was offering my support and sympathy. So I have removed these fake people and these people who support this cheater,his family, from my life. Doesn't make my life any easier at the moment, but I'm working towards total obliteration of any memory of them for my own sanity.
    Gabby xo

    1. Gabby,
      These people are poison. They are cancer. Avoid them at all costs. They have shown you exactly who they are so it's no surprise when they behave in exactly that way.
      I know it's hard but you are so much better off without this fakery in your life. Move on. Leave them to their gossip and their drama and their pretence. You've got better things to do.

    2. I have new information and I’m not sure what to do with it. I have not confronted my husband.

      My husband has always traveled a lot for work. I've been able to travel with him lately which has been fun. He recently had a solo overnight business trip. The night he returned, I looked on his phone and discovered he’d been looking at porn on twitter while he was away. I clicked on the pages. It was pretty hard-core stuff, things we do not do together. It was in his search history.

      Here’s the backstory. Married over 20 years. A year & a half ago I discovered a twitter message on his phone with his co-worker who was friends with both of us. In the message, they said they loved each other. This was his second affair in 10 years. The first was with a former girlfriend that he re-connected with through facebook. To my knowledge, both affairs lasted about 6 months. He was never clear with me about when they started, so I really don’t know how long they lasted. He says both affairs were nothing more than physical beyond kissing. He admitted to sexting and “talking” about having sex. I don’t know that I believe this either.

      Way back before kids, say 2 years into our marriage, I found photocopies of nude women in the trash. This was before internet porn!!! He said his friend gave it to him. A few years later when our 3rd baby was 4 months old, I discovered he was having phone sex using one of those 1-800 numbers. I never dug into why he had the pictures, or why he made the phone call. I had very young kids at the time, and I didn’t realize the potential seriousness of it. I buried it. Call it denial, I guess.

      10 years later was affair #1. We had the worst marriage therapist but didn’t know it at the time. We thought we were ok. His drinking was not addressed. Affair #2 began just around 2 years ago. We have a good marriage therapist & he’s in a 12 step program for alcohol. He’s very dedicated. We’ve addressed the “why” he was unfaithful, and the alcohol was a big part of it. I brought up the pictures and the 1-800 call during therapy. I put it all out there and he denied that he had a problem with porn or sex, or sex with me. The therapist never pressed the issue.

      I’ve been feeling like we’re going in the right direction, more in love, & closer to him more than ever.

      Why was I looking at his phone? I feel like I trust him to be faithful. I think a big part of it is because I didn’t look at his phone at all during his second affair because I trusted him to never cheat again. Maybe I don’t trust myself anymore!

      So, my question is- what do I do with this now? The ladies here on this site have certainly opened my eyes to porn addiction. Is this even a sign of porn addiction? Do I let it go? If I talk to him, I of course have to tell him that yes, I’m still looking at his phone!
      Is this just normal guy behavior? Is a little porn normal? I feel like I'm opeing Pandora's box here. Given his history, I don’t like any sexual turn-ons outside of marriage.

      Please help. I’m not afraid of what I don’t want to hear. Actually, that’s not really true. But I’m more afraid of burying something potentially significant again.

    3. Gem, I am afraid you might not get a big response here as your comment from Feb 27 is stuck WAAAY near the top. but here's my 2 cents. YES this is a big deal. As a backstory after D-Day 1 we had a great therapist. I did not know the extent of my H's sex addiction and when our therapist asked him if he was a sex addict he said no. I shook my head too because I didn't think he was either. PERIOD. FULL STOP. END OF SENTENCE. That is how much we talked about sex addiction. A shrink can only work with what is told to them. She got a lie. She did not press it. I found out the hard way 2 years later what a huge lie it was. Porn, Craigs list, hookers, facebook, brothels, strip clubs, the list went on and ON. I have all sorts of opinions on how your husband could do this while in a 12 step program for another addiction where the honesty is rigorous , but I'm almost to the point that nothing shocks me anymore. YES you have to bring it up, but beyond that you have to DO something with this info. You will never be yourself while he's lying to you and you're pretending that he is not. Sure it feels embarrassing that you looked at his phone, but on a scale, really who has the bigger transgression here? It's not you. It's time really to put your foot down. You might want to think about what you are going to do before you bring it up. But you do have to hold him accountable to what he is doing. You asked if a little porn is normal--well sure, and so is a little alcohol---for people who can handle it. I'm no professional, but it does not sound like your husband can handle it. If it helps, my h also said he never had a problem with me. What he finally admitted to is that he DOES have a problem with alcohol and he does have a problem with a little thing called sex addiction.

    4. Thanks Steam, trying to move this! I origninally posted here by accident! I really do value this groups experiences & insight.

  3. I'm not stuck, but I have a question for everyone:
    How many of us who have decided to stay after betrayal find themselves irritated, short of patience with their husbands?
    I find this is a new thing for me- in my previous marriage, I would swallow comments or actions and mutter to myself around the house and work it out of my system. I don't do that anymore. Now if something stupid- and it's usually something stupid- happens, I just get irritated. Thoughts like- are men just stupid?, man, he just doesn't get how to talk to me, doesn't he realize that ____ just made the situation worse- go through my head. And then I'll figure out how to approach it and try to discuss it with him.
    The usual response is some listening, then some, "I don't want to talk about this right now. I don't want to end up in a fight"- which we don't, but in the early days, yes, of course it was a fight. Then I also get the "yes, dear..whatever you want dear..." response. Arrrrrgh!! And I get more irritated. I know we're going to return to marriage counseling- we made some progress, then stopped too early- in my opinion- but I think he was relieved to not have to go. So that's in our future, but this irritation thing....it doesn't help me feel affectionate, that's for sure.
    So- is this normal (coming up on 5 years out) and what have you done to counter the negative thoughts? Thanks- lots of great thinkers out there!
    Anonymous 55

    1. Anonymous55,
      Yes, I've felt that. Tucked in with the irritation was this notion that "how dare he be so annoying WHEN HE CHEATED ON ME". It's like, no matter what relatively benign thing he did, it was always tainted by his larger sin.
      But...it's no way to exist in a marriage. So it's incumbent on you to figure out what's garden-variety annoying stuff that you will need to either address like a grown-up or ignore (ie. leaves the toothpaste cap off, doesn't flush, etc.) and what is disguising deeper issues. In other words, is there still deeper pain that needs acknowledging and addressing? If so, it's time to deal with it. That stuff will continue to just poison your relationship, leading to a constant sense of resentment and, eventually, contempt.
      It helped me to stop having these conversations in my head and start having them in real life. If my husband said something I thought was dumb or insulting, rather than assume he was just an idiot, I became curious. With a voice that held as little judgment as I could manage, I would ask him about it: What did you mean when you said x,y,z? Etc. Turns out, my husband's and my points of view were often closely aligned. But little misunderstandings would get in the way.
      The only way to really have a healthy marriage, and it's a cliche but it's true, is to learn how to talk to each other. Communication is crucial.

    2. Anon 55,

      I think this is normal. What I found once we moved past the betrayal we had to create and decide what we each wanted in our marriage. I knew I was not going back to the same system that set us up or created the environment for betrayal. One thing we did is we set aside one time a week to talk. This helped my husband at that point get over worrying if I was going to pick at him or bring stuff up every time we talked. And it kind of was that way. We would talk through different things that either of us felt were issues, usually they were my issues to be honest. He was just happy we were together, I did not leave him etc. Over time be became less defensive which helped our communication a lot more. I did not keep things in but I also did not nit pick everything. Over the course of the week I would journal and see what common themes were. It worked really well for us.

      I did get to a point where I had to say to my husband that him not cheating was not enough for me. In his head he was doing everything right. For me I wanted more.

      A great article my husband brought home from work was in The Atlantic highlighting much of John Gottman's work, Masters of Love. My husband liked that it was a magazine article not a book. Books overwhelmed him and he could not get through them without crying. That article was a great topic for us to talk through. We also saw Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus the one man show. It was funny but was a good jumping off point. Or even talking about things related to movies, shows and books. Therapist often use that as a way to talk about something challenging.

      My only other suggestion would be to seek out a therapist if you have not. A good one would be able to guide you through this process.

    3. Not sure my first reply got through, so thanks Elle and Hopeful 30. I read The Atlantic article you suggested, Hopeful 30- excellent and it gave me quite a bit to think about. We certainly would have been classified Disasters before, and I'm still probably one. So I have some work to do. And, Elle- the root of our original problem was a lack of communication and a lack of understanding each other's actions. We're going back to counseling because I still don't feel as though our communication is very good and we haven't seemed to have made a lot of progress. I can't let the same old problem lead to a new one.

      I'm glad to know this is normal- that helped a lot! And I reached out because I don't like the way I think sometimes. There's a lot that's different now, including me, and there are days where I really don't like who I've become- I feel, not bitchy, but I have less tolerance than I did before and I've told my H that, but I don't think he gets it, so another reason to see our counselor again.
      Anonymous 55

    4. Anon 55, I agree the thoughts and self talk are sometimes my worst enemy. And coming here was so powerful for me. For me hearing "me too" and that others had been there and could understand me was so powerful. It is an isolating situation to be betrayed. It is complicated from every direction. I think we had an advantage since my husband is in the mental health field. He had all the training, education and experience to know this was not the path. But he also knew what he needed to do once he made the commitment to try and work it out. He said he gave himself six months. He said in order to make any long term change six months is necessary. You can do anything for a while whether it is working out, eating, sleeping etc but to do it more long term you need at least six months. For him he realized quickly that he did want to stay. Saying all of that there were many phases. I think it is like grieving from a death. There is a major aspect of grieving what we thought we had (even he went through that), processing what they did, figuring out if out if you want to stay, then all the work through it all.

      And as far as being less tolerant I think that is totally normal. This is one of the worst/most major traumas you can endure in your lifetime. We are almost four years out and my husband has recently acknowledged how much trauma he caused. I think for him to do that took a lot and he had to be in a very different spot than early on or even years past. I still feel less resilient and I am less tolerant. He knows that and we have worked hard to communicate better to minimize the effects of that. My therapist told me that is part of the new reality. At least I gave my husband 100% trust and freedom and he gave all of that up. It will never be that way again for good reason. The last thing I will say is this will always be part of our story and something that we will face/deal with/talk about. We both are at a new place where we sometimes joke about it (I never expected that), we have considered telling friends (kids are holding us back) and really we are just in a different place.

      He is faced with these issues every day at work so that is different for him too. He is able to help others he says in a much better way. He feels he is best able to help the wayward husbands since he has been there. I can only hope others can learn from him and find the best path in their life. I wish I could talk with their wives! He encouaged me to go back and get my masters degree but not so sure I want to be tied to him professionally.

      Hang in there you are doing great. If you liked that article I suggest the other Gottman books. They are all excellent. My husband likes them too since so much is based on research. And lots of real life ideas of how to improve or change communication etc. Good luck!

    5. Thanks, Hopeful 30. I had a major meltdown last week- so much stress from everywhere right now- not H related- I just broke. Cried and cried and actually told my H that "I used to be resilient, and now I can't get up after I've been knocked down." So it was a relief to see you also feel the same way. It's very helpful to come here and see yourself and your situation reflected in other's posts. It's one of the things that has kept me lurking and occasionally posting for almost 5 years. Knowing you're not alone helps a great deal.
      I'll look up more Gottman books- reading is the other resource that has helped me work through a lot of issues. Thanks!
      Anonymous 55

    6. Anon 55, You are not alone. It frustrates me that I am less resilient. But it is my reality. I try to focus hard on the reality of what is. But it is hard. I find I am affected by others more than ever. I have a really good friend who has canceled on me a lot. And it is all for legitimate reasons beyond her control. But it really sucks. I find it more disappointing than ever and the best way for me to describe it is less resilient. I have always been highly independent and introverted and now I am even more so.

      My husband worries about it a lot. I am just not comfortable sharing what has gone on between us with my friends. He is okay with it but I just do not feel it will be beneficial. I have become distanced and just feel less connected to many of my friends for a variety of reasons.Sigh...

    7. Anon 55, you are quite normal. Oh the thoughts I've had. I didn't deserve what happened. It was his affair but somehow I'm now the "clean up" my mess person. The only one that came out of this unscathed is the OW.

  4. I am so confused. My husband had a 1 night stand 4 years ago and I just found out 3 days before xmas. I can not stop thinking about it 24 hours a day. He says he was so upset after and that he doesnt remember anything about her.

    1. Anonymous,
      For him, it was four years ago. For you, it's just more than a month. It's pretty normal, under the circumstances, to be obsessed with it. Most of us go through a desperate need to know everything we can. Who she was, what she looked like, what they said to each other, and on and on and on. But your husband might well be telling the truth -- that it was a meaningless encounter that barely registered in his memory. But that isn't really the point. He betrayed you. And that's what needs to be addressed. Why? What was he thinking? Why didn't he confess earlier? And so on.
      If you want to remain in the marriage, then that's what you need to figure out. I would urge you to consider couples counselling or, if you'd prefer, find a therapist who can support you as you work through the pain. Whether it was a one-night-stand or long-term affair, betrayal is devastating. Don't let anyone minimize it.

  5. Thank you so much for understanding. Yes, it does make sense hearing what your saying. I keep asking why and he says he doesnt know other then he cant believe he did it either. As to why he didnt confess I am sure he thought I would leave him if I knew.

    1. I agree with Elle. No matter what betrayal we experience it is traumatic. There is nothing that can minimize or take away the pain of the person you loved and trusted most betraying you. I will never minimize what someone goes through whether it is emotional only, physical only, love, no love, one night, many nights etc.

      All I can speak to is my experience. My husband did not just have a one night stand. He had two affairs that were sporadic over a longer period of time so that was odd. My husband minimized what he did on dday. I am not saying your husband did or has done this. My husband had a fake email, fake FB page etc. On dday he was caught off guard and tried to minimize I think mainly to do damage control and protect himself. He also says he wanted to be honest but protect me some since he was not sure he wanted to stay. My husband did break up with both ow 15 months before dday. He had planned on not telling me. We had talked about other women, not cheating etc through the years. He always looked me in the eye and said never. Well on dday he disclosed. I am not going to go into major details but one thing my husband really did not face his trauma and pain from what he did until years 2-3 after dday. He had told me he held it together to support me due to what I was going through and also he wanted us to be happy. This recovery process takes a lot of work from each of us. You will see over and over again the recommendation to focus on yourself. I think this is so important. You cannot control what he does. We did establish boundaries and expectations that were very detailed. We have put in a ton of work. I have said multiple times if we stay together then I have expectations and they are elevated from before dday. Also I agree it is normal to have a million questions but some of this will take time. And our thoughts and feelings have evolved through recovery. At least for my husband someone who was able to compartmentalize and keep secrets the way he did but go about his normal life takes a while to truly open up.

      Elle's recommendation regarding a therapist is critical. My therapist guided and supported me through the entire process and recovery. This site has been so important too.

  6. I am stuck on changing the narrative of what happened. How do you go from “you did this to me” to “this happened to us”. I start seething as soon as I think about it. It was a good experience (to put it mildly) for him and absolutely horrific for me when I found out. Is it just a matter of time?

    1. LostSomewhere, For me it took time and lots of work. I finally got to a point and what I realized was "this happened to him". This took 3 plus years. But over time and as we worked together it became obvious more than ever he did this to himself. Sure his decisions affected me and our family. I have listened to him and none of this was directed at me or intended for me. As least in our case he never wanted to leave, never loved either ow and never made any future plans with them. Saying that he knew he took our marriage to the brink of destruction. He knew better based on his education, career/work and professional life. But he still did it since this was all about him. For me I thought that he had the time of his life during the "affair years'. And they lasted 10 years for him. However over these past four years listening to him I realize there was nothing good about it. He was sad, ashamed, depressed etc.

      I think to get to this point there needs to be a lot of work individually and as a couple. I could go on and on about everything that helped us. One thing I really focused on was talking less and listening more. That is when he started opening up. But that was between year 2-3 and even into year 3 post dday. It is my guess that most men who cheat also have a hard time facing what they have done. That was the case for my husband. There are lots of contradictions in this recovery process. Things I never thought could be possible have happened. We are both so sad for what he did but we are now closer than ever. We both had to do a lot of work to get to this point and continue to invest in ourselves individually and as a couple.

    2. Thank you, Hopeful 30, for writing that. There are some important similarities to my situation that I relate to. We are only 14 months out, and I need to keep reminding myself that it's a long process. I don't come here often, mostly when I need help, and your post did that for me.

  7. Hopeful, would you elaborate on the work you’ve done? That piece is very fuzzy for me. I am almost a year out (valentine’s day), so maybe what I am looking for will take a lot longer. I have done some IC, couple of months, but I don’t feel like there is any progress or work being done, mostly just me bringing them up to speed. Very frustrating. Almost like having to reinvent the wheel while knowing that it has already been invented, if that makes sense. I definitely can’t listen to him just yet, mostly I feel I don’t really care what he has to say.

    1. LostSomewhere, I prefer to look at this as something my husband chose to do to himself. I'm collateral damage as is our marriage. It still pains me a lot at times and I'm at 3 years almost 8 months out from his disclosure and he only disclosed because he thought one of his prostitutes gave him AIDS. I've been married 40 years so his 36 years of cheating and lies is hard to move through but I am so much better now than I was a year ago and if we are to use Elle as our model, it will continue to get easier to live through. My husband often hates himself for his past choices but that hatred didn't stop him from antisocial behavior because he chose the behavior because he hated himself according to him. He used sex to modulate his emotions yet he felt awful afterwards if I am to believe him. We are together still with a lot of changes in our marriage including buying a home 1600 miles away to start over again. This is his one precious chance to get it right before he dies and he is taking it all to heart.

    2. Lost Somewhere, Beach Girl has some great advice. We are on similar timelines. It will be four years in March for me since dday. We have been together for a long time from a young age. He had two affairs that were sporadic but both lasted about ten years. He did cut it off with both ow about 15 months before dday.

      My husband is in the mental health field and the fact he broke it off long before dday helped us I think. But there is no timeline. And honestly this process has felt like a roller coaster. It is like going through the grieving process. You have to experience all the phases and it is not a straight line.

      It took a while but exactly what Beach Girl said my husband's cheating and poor decisions had nothing to do with me. And all I have control over is me. This took a while to get to this point though. I decided early on I was going to give it my all. And no matter what happened I could feel good about that and know I did my best. I wanted to see if we could work it out at first mainly because of our kids. We decided to set aside once a week to talk. That way it was not a constant topic of discussion. We said not to everything we did not have to do. We spent all of our time together except for work. Basically full on immersion. I did journal every day and used that to reflect back on to see how far I had come (when you are in the thick of it I felt like I was making no progress but I was) and also I could see recurring issues or concerns I had. I would then bring those up during out talks. I was more pulled together vs ranting. This helped me feel more satisfied when we were done talking. He was not defensive anymore since he knew we were going to talk. Instead of not knowing when I was going to bring it up. I think a lot of it gets down to communication and figuring out what kind of marriage each person wants. But we had created habits some not so great over 20+ years.

      I did see a therapist. I looked for someone who was either an LCSW or LCPC. And I found someone who was an expert working with people who had experienced infidelity. My therapist has made that their specialty area. Since my husband is in the mental health field I can say there is not focus on infidelity. It is covered but only as parts of other classes. He has many degrees from various institutions, extensive training and real life practice experience. He knew a lot of surface level things and knew better. But I felt like after reading all the books I did that I knew more. So if you are not feeling like your therapist is a benefit maybe it is time to look for someone else. I did travel over 1 1/2 hours away for mine. At first I did double sessions to make the most of my trips.

      My husband brought home a great article Masters of Love from The Atlantic. It appealed to him since it has great information and he could never get through an entire book about infidelity. Where I read them all. I love all the Gottman books and Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass.

      My therapist helped me through everything along with this site. Setting boundaries and expectations was critical. And they were very detailed.

      Over time we have evolved and really worked on creating the marriage we want. My husband has made it his goal to live with complete authenticity and transparency. He also said he never wants to go back to that life he led it would be like going back to prison. He works so hard every day to be the best father and husband. This all took time. We always got along well and he was a good father but it is different now. He was very selfish before and he said he had to make an effort every time to stop from doing what he wanted but to think of others. Now though he is so happy.

      My husband you have to give six months when making a change no matter what it is. He set that marker in his head. He said it was easy and is thankful for his second chance.

    3. Part 2...it was too long...

      Saying all of this it was very bumpy. But really I keep going back to is he did not do this to me or even us. The worst part is he did this to himself. He betrayed himself first. Yes his betrayal affected me, our marriage and our family. But in the end he needed to want to change. And I had to set out my boundaries and expectations.

      My therapist walked me through all of this. And it is something that will always be part of our marriage. We now joke about it in a way which is odd. But it has brought us so close together.

      Think about what life you want for yourself. What is your ideal. I knew I needed to work through this with him whether we stayed together or not. You are on the right path. It is not easy. Please ask any and all questions. We are here for you!

  8. I think I am done. If I had the means, I would have probably left months ago. It is kind of like something broke in me. He chose someone else, he chose to lie, he left the marriage and didn’t tell me. He took a new job, 3000 miles away, 6 months before he started his affair. I would have probably picked up on it much sooner, had he been home. I projected my integrity and values on him for 19 years...I look at him now and all I think is “I can’t believe I wasted my life on you”.

    I feel disgust, repulsion...that he could replace us, his wife and kids, with this bottom feeder, with her messed up kids...that he would have dinners with them, like a family, while his amazing kids were left without a father. That he got them a Christmas gift and nothing for his own kids. I know that nothing is black and white in life, but all I see is dark shades of despicable.

    From the moment I found out, I didn’t want to fight for us...it was game over for me. Everyone kept saying, don’t make any decisions, wait and see how I feel. I don’t know how I feel. I don’t know what I want. Well, I do want him to have chosen us, but he didn’t. Nothing I can do about that. I feel like sloppy seconds, like he made his choice...but I don’t trust myself to make a decision, because look where my decision making got me. Looking for the best in people, believing the best about people...

    I truly feel lost. Therapy isn’t helping me much...I guess I have to know what I want and I don’t want any of this. Is feeling like this part of the rollercoaster, part of the process? I am tired of making him look good and defending him to our kids (who know that he cheated). Or to my parents, who want to get him a special bday gift, bc they think he is an amazing father and husband. Obviously, they have no clue what he did, no one does. Because he doesn’t have the balls to tell anyone, his family or mine. Because he can’t face what he is...

    I don’t feel empathy for his suffering, i don’t believe he is suffering at all. I think he had a blast for 6 months, sex and fun, with no responsibility. And now, a year later, he is out of the woods, No consequences. All I feel is disgust and contempt. I have never felt those feelings before. Is this part of the journey?

    1. Hey LostSomewhere,
      If it's a year after D-Day and he's "out of the woods" and there are "no consequence", that doesn't sound like someone who's doing the hard work of reckoning with the pain he caused. What has he done? Is he accountable for the pain he's caused? Why don't your parents know? Why are you continuing to protect him to your children if they already know? I don't think a parent should ever bad mouth a parent to kids but you can be candid about the fallout, not sugarcoat his behaviour.
      While I think disgust and contempt are, in fact, part of the journey, it doesn't mean they're not legitimate feelings.
      I'm just curious about his role in rebuilding your marriage. I'm getting the sense that this guy calls the shots in your marriage and it's not about working together. So all you're getting back is a guy who, apparently, is no longer cheating. Doesn't sound like you're getting a husband who's legitimately committed to being a good husband...but maybe I'm misreading.

    2. It really is so hard. I struggled with all of the feeling being so unknown. And I would think to myself how can I trust myself. I trusted him etc. I would echo what Elle is saying. And for me when I needed more from my husband I said it very directly and matter of fact. I thought long and hard. What did I need, no drinking, him home every night by 6, no time with friends, doing dishes, going grocery shopping with me, eating dinner with me, coming to bed with me, talking about the affair, really whatever I wanted there was no detail too small. I mean we had it down to the detail of call me on the way to work, call me during lunch, call me on the way home, no texting to ask questions like "I want to go watch the game with John is that okay". Everything had to be communicated in person or via phone call. All of these boundaries and expectations hit at the hart of how he lived his life only for himself. Whether it was work or personal. Once he walked out the door he was free to do whatever he wanted. And all of his time at home was about prepping him for his work since he is so busy. He needs sleep, meals, rest.... But post dday we had to rework all of this if he wanted me to give him a chance. He had all the freedom and opportunity but threw that away as my therapist said. And my husband knew that this is what I needed to even consider possibly ever trusting him again. That is where we started. What did I need in order to stay or consider ever trusting him even a little bit. It took a long time. And we still talk about this at almost four years past dday.

      Our kids do not know, no one knows. He told me I could tell whoever and he would tell people if I wanted him to. We decided together since my kids do not know to not share it with others. In some ways that makes it harder. In other ways it has brought us much closer together. This Christmas we were actually laughing about something one of his siblings brought up. I was joking what if I just said it all right there and put it out on the table. And we had a laugh since we knew they would freak out and be shocked. His family has no idea. Neither does mine. They have him on a pedestal. It used to bother me. Now not so much. He admitted to me his biggest fear is his kids finding out. Before dday his biggest fear was he would die and one of the two ow would show up at the funeral and confront me. So he is happy and living his best life since I know now. The kids he said he might want to be honest with them when they are older.

    3. What has he done...since Dday. He stopped drinking, cold turkey, not a drop, since then. He is home 90% of the time, works from home, doesn't go anywhere unless it is with me. He would drive me to therapy, go to the store, do the laundry, cook, do the dishes. Even walk my dog - which has never, ever happened. I have access to everything, phones, emails. When he travels, he txts and video chats all the time. He goes to therapy. I never asked for anything after dday, my MO is do what you think you should do. I was (am) pretty much in a heap on the floor for the last year. This is a massive repeat of a childhood trauma for me - being replaced, by a stepfather, by another child...I just never knew the extend of it until this shit storm hit.

      The kids know that he cheated, that there were letters involved, they don't know the full extend of it. My 14yo made a comment that if she knew he was kissing the OW, she would kick him out. Sigh.

      How do you tell your 14 and 11 yo yo that he did way more than that? I am so aware of how traumatic this could be, that I don't know what to tell them. Other than repeat what the therapist says, that he was convinced I didn't love him, that I was with him for the money and that I had this amazing life w/o him that he felt entitled. Unwanted. Unloved. The story he was telling himself, that he was used and didn't have anything.

      I haven't told his family or my family bc I can't handle the sympathy. His cousin, my kids godmother, knew he was cheating for 40 days before I found out and didn't tell me. We spoke daily, she pretended she was my friend, when I didn't know what the hell was happening to my marriage...and she didn't say a word.

      I am a foreigner in this country and I don't have many friends. I told 3 people. One of them turned out to be OW, who married the man. She cut me off immediately. The others...they just couldn't handle it. You know, kind of like when something hits too close to home and you just are super uncomfortable, so you start avoiding? Kind of like that.

      If I am to be brutally honest, he has been carrying this marriage or whatever this is, for the past year. I am in the corner, licking my wounds and snarling at him every time he tries to come close. All I want to do is run for the hills. Except, there is nowhere to run. Bc of the choices I made - be a SAHM, home-school 2 grades and give up my carrier. I put all my eggs in one basket. I trusted my husband. In my world, hurt people DON'T hurt other people, because they know pain. How wrong was I?

    4. LostSomewhere,
      Well, it sounds as though he's definitely had consequences. But, maybe, not the consequences you think he should have had?
      Here's the thing, LS. This is your life. There is no undoing what happened. And yes, like you, my husband's betrayal was a ripping open of long buried trauma. I needed to deal with THAT too.
      You are hurting, which is not surprising. Having experienced trauma and pain, you thought you were building an adult life on something and someone you could trust. I did too. We were wrong.
      You get to decide what's next. And I hope you'll make that decision based on what you want, not based on an idea of appropriate consequences for him. He doesn't deserve this marriage and family. He risked everything. But...
      He's trying to deserve it.
      He's working hard to become a man who deserves it.
      You are under no obligations to give it to him.
      But if you also want a second chance at a marriage with this man, then you need to continue to address your trauma and pain. You need to slowly begin to let people into your life who are worthy of you. It's hard. I know. People hurt us. They disappoint us.
      But the better you get at taking care of yourself, of learning to trust yourself, the better you'll get at inviting worthy people in.
      As for your kids, they know enough for now. Your family? I would consider telling them. Sympathy is not pity. Let people help you hold the pain, if they can be trusted to do so.
      And I hope you can slowly unsnarl. I hope you can begin to unclench your rage. He made a horrible choice. And you can leave. I know it's not clean or easy, but you can leave. People do it every day.
      But I don't think you want to. I think you just want to unring this horrible bell that was rung. And that's not an option.
      What are you doing for you, LS? Exercise? Meditation? A creative pursuit? How do you refill your empty tank? You need to do more of that. To find yourself again. To figure out who you are when you aren't being everything to everyone else.
      We were both wrong. I thought someone who'd been hurt would never hurt someone else. Even though, before I'd tended my own wounds, I was guilty of hurting others. We were wrong. But people can change. Including us.

    5. Maybe it's you that has changed and you don't want to go back to where you were or who you were with. Affairs open our eyes to a lot of possibilities.

      When Dday came for me...I thought of all the things I could now do with my life: travel, hobbies and etc...it was nice to think about.

      I chose my husband and his remorse and his complete turn around were worth my decision to keep him. Not only does he do things for me that he has never done: run my shower, make my breakfast, fix the bed, open my doors and the list keeps going on...

      You need to decide if you are keeping him and if you are then you agree to work on it OR if you are letting him go...that is YOUR decision to make. Don't continue on as normal (for him) if you are not feeling it.

  9. Question, I am 4 months past finding out and my husband working hard on fixing his brokenness and the two of us are working on communication. It is all going okay and I am encouraged by how he is changing in every way--to me, the kids, his work. But. I cannot get this intense hate and anxiety I feel towards the OW for a very specific reason. She is out there just living a great life full of adventure, friends, socializing at all the cool pubs, working in an amazing job that fuels her adventures and to top it off, she is very beautiful, smart and outgoing in the way that everyone wants to be her friend. I can't even. I am trying so hard to grasp that there will be no justice and that is okay. she will never suffer for the pain she helped to cause me. But knowing this doesn't stop the fire in my stomach and the wish for revenge. I am 25 years older than her. I have three kids and many very real reasons my life is not ever going to be a whole lot different or more exciting in the near future. She is living the life I had always wanted and failed to achieve. Ugh, the jealousy is immense. How on earth do I get past this?

    1. LandofWOZ,
      Oh, I know that feeling. It's CONSUMING. I spent a whole lot of my 20s HATING a friend of mine who cheated with my boyfriend, then dumped him, married an NHL player and gallivanted around the world spending his money and, as it turns out, having affairs. That marriage collapsed. Then a second marriage collapsed. Then a third.
      It took me a LONG time to realize that none of us ever really knows what's going on in another person's life. Maybe her life is truly charmed (though do you know of a SINGLE person who has made it through life without any pain? I certainly don't) or maybe she's just put a whole lot of polish on her life.
      Here's what I would do: you're not dead. So what can you reasonably do to create a life that fills you with satisfaction. You can't undo the infidelity but you can begin to focus on the courage it takes to rebuild a marriage, you can notice the depth your marriage has developed as you grow older, you can pay attention to the ways in which your children have enriched your life. A lot of our happiness is about gratitude for what we have. But sometimes that envy is telling us something important: that we've put aside our dreams, that we've minimized our own wants/needs, that we aren't listening to our deepest selves. No, you likely can't uproot to the south of France or walk the red carpet of Hollywood or suntan on a yacht. But think less about achievements and more about how you imagine those achievements would make you feel. So often we're not after the goal so much as the feeling we imagine the achievement would give us.
      Here's another thing, LandofWOZ, there are a whole lot of women who would look at your life -- three healthy kids! a husband recommitted to his marriage -- and think you won the freaking lottery. So, again, gratitude is key. But so is paying attention to your deepest longings. I suspect that if you stopped looking outward at what this woman has and focused more on what you have and what you can create for yourself, your hatred will dissipate. It takes time. Some of it is rooted in biology -- someone took our man kinda stuff. But try the gratitude and some deep listening and see what you come up with.

    2. LandofWOZ - I know exactly how you feel. Our stories are similar in that the OW in my nightmare is 20 years younger, just had a baby with her new boyfriend and puts out the vibe that she's living her best life while I'm still suffering (coming up on 4 years since D-DAY). I still carry negative emotion for her and wish bad karma to come her way so that she can feel the devastation that I have felt. I may not have the answer you seek but I wanted you to know you are not alone.

    3. Thank you. It does help not being alone in this, but I am so sorry you have had to go through this too.

    4. LandofWOZ -- I want to share what my AMAZING investigative skills disclosed about the OW in my marriage. She's a local media personality, spends a fortune on looking the part, never goes out without a face full of professionally applied makeup, vacations in Europe, etc. I discovered that the poor soul was victimized by a notorious pedophile teacher when she was 16. I suddenly understood her damaged-ness, her inability to have a grown-up relationship with a man, her empty vanity. It's true -- you really don't know what's going on in other people's lives. I remind myself often that she wanted more than anything what I have.

  10. UUUggghh. yes, I know. Gratitude. I am trying very hard to shift all this energy I put into hating her, instead into working on myself. I don't know if I can yet, but I'll keep trying. Thanks Elle. Still, my fingers are crossed that OW is human and experiences some(or tons of) pain.

    1. The thing about karma is that it's not enough to know that everyone (EVERYONE will experience some sort of pain/rejection/disappointment in their lives. We want to witness it happening. We want to WATCH that karma bus run over their heads so that their brains explode all over the road. WE DESERVE THAT!!!
      Ahem...alas, it rarely happens that way. So, as best you can, stay in your own lane. Create a life that fills your own soul. And know that, no matter what, when you look in the mirror, you don't see someone who has caused such harm to another person. She will never ever have that. But that's her problem.

    2. LandofWOZ, I can so relate. I am four years out from dday. And my husband had two ow. And honestly for me it was a phase I had to work through as part of the recovery. All of a sudden after lots of work I just didn't care about them anymore. I am not sitting here hoping the best for them necessarily. However I really could care less what happens in their lives good or bad. I do not feel there is necessarily karma like I used to believe. Good people get hurt and bad things can happen to them. I decided that these women took enough space in my life (10 years of two sporadic affairs). And in the end my husband was 100% responsible to me. They both targeted him but he knew what he was doing wrong. They did know he was married but neither wanted anything long term from him. They were not married and could care less. Like I said that day came where I just did not care anymore. I decided to put all my energy into myself, our marriage and our family. The rest was a distraction. I have always been a very positive and optimistic person. I knew I needed to get back to this. By focusing on myself (the only thing I can control) things started to improve. (this was after the first year after dday).

      My husband and I both have a plan of what we will do if we see either ow. He also will let me know if there is any contact by either ow. These things were all part of the boundaries we set early on. He would not think twice now. He understands how critical it is to our relationship to be 100% transparent and honest. The other day he said to me that he would never go back to any of those ways since it would be like being sent back to prison.

  11. I want to throw up… This was supposed to be a joke, but it's really happening. The OW has become H's boss. He called to tell me about 30 min ago and it's finally sinking in. I'm sick to my stomach. I don't know which way to turn. Who to call? What to do. It's been 5 years. No contact. Still the same employer, but her busy working her bitch-ass up the ladder. And now this! I told H this was going to happen, and only half kidding. I started an email to her. I thought about calling. What would I even say? "Congratulations, leave my husband alone." Would threats help? Should I just do nothing and wait? Please help. I'm trying to work and getting nothing done. Just want to curl up and cry...

    1. Ramona, I am so sorry this is happening. After five years I can imagine you just want to be done. And to have her be his boss ugh. Is there any possibility he can start a job search? I know for me this would hang over me daily. Any contact at all is bad enough but now this. So sorry!!

    2. Oh Ramona, That's awful. As you likely know, there's probably pretty strict rules around a boss/employee relationship so that's a deterrent, though it probably gives little comfort. Can he apply for a transfer??

  12. Reading through all of these comments in hopes to find some solace. Today is very hard - it's the first anniversary of Dday 1. Yesterday started fine. I was worried. But no nightmares the night before, not waking up angry... Husband was sweet and dedicated to making Valentine's Day perfect. See, I've always been the one who was big on holidays and Valentine's Day. :( Anyhow, got to work, got surprised with roses and balloons and Starbucks. Start talking with a coworker about how she bought new lingerie and felt the panic attach rising. I beelined for the bathroom and just made it before losing it. I felt like my mind was attacking me with thoughts - did he like their lingerie? Does he expect me to wear lingerie tonight? Will he love me if I don't wear lingerie? What if I buy lingerie like what the OW wore? What if I don't look as good in lingerie?

    I took some deep breaths. I texted my husband and told him I was having a rough time. He was supportive in ways that we've talked about him needing to be. Had a great dinner. Had a few thoughts here and there but an altogether alright night.

    Here I am, today, remembering in almost perfect detail where I was sitting, what I was wearing, what I was feeling when I found out that he'd been cheating for four plus years. Fighting panic attacks. Choking on tears. Feeling sick to my stomach.

    Is this normal, if there's any semblance of normalcy to be had in this type of anniversary? Because this sucks! I don't know how else to describe it. I just want to hide under the covers until this day is gone.

    1. adriverswife, I think it can vary for everyone. I am almost to four years out from dday. Things are going really well for us. Saying all of that there still are hard times/moments/triggers. It does get easier and they come less often at least for me.

      As far as dday goes I still remember the exact words, where we were sitting and all the details like it was minutes ago. My husband says he feels the same way. He remembers it all too. I would say where I am now dday is a day that I am almost proud of. I am glad that everything came out when it did. Neither of us can go back and change the past but from that day forward we both worked really hard on ourselves and our marriage. It almost feels like a new beginning for us.

      Being only one year out is still early and feelings for me at this point were strong. Things got really good for us around the one year mark. After that my husband I think started to let it sink in what he did. It has taken him way longer to process everything. Then we went through a spell where everything felt too "normal". Too much like before dday. This entire experience and healing process is a roller coaster. My best advice is to be open and honest with your husband. Set boundaries and expectations you can live with. It sounds like you are doing well together and he is being supportive. This has brought us so close together. I think partially since he has been 100% honest with me and also since we have worked together to get through this. Talk about a unique experience. Believe it or not we even joke about it some days. I never thought I would say that.

      Hang in there and from what I read all your feelings are normal. I got to a point where the past was the past and I was able to focus on the present.

    2. adriverswife,
      Sorry for my late reply. But yes, it's normal under the circumstances. It's a post-trauma response. That sense of time collapsing, of being right back in that moment. It's frightening. I'm not sure if you're in any kind of therapy but a good therapist can give you tools to help you in those moments. Some of us need specific therapy for post-trauma. I did.
      When your mind begins to spiral like that, it can help to somehow root yourself in the right now. Focus on something benign -- like the color of the wall. Talk to yourself. "I am safe right now. This isn't happening right now, it's in the past." etc. Anything to help pull your mind out of that spiral.
      It can help to practice things like that so that when it's happening you can label it. "I'm experiencing post-trauma right now..." or whatever. Something that gives you a distance from what's happening, that puts you into the role of observer rather than within the experience, if that makes sense.
      I'm so sorry that happened to you. I remember similar experiences. They're awful.

    3. That's such great advice. I haven't been taught or seen that yet. I'll try to practice that.

      My husband has been making a habit since I found out about his affairs to ask me daily if I've had triggers... At first, it was soothing that he cared. I just asked him to stop last week. It was getting so even if I didn't have many triggers that day, once he said something, my day was shit. It's been a good week since he stopped. Hopeful it keeps up.

    4. adriverswife, I think the most important thing you said there is that you let him know what you wanted and needed. I know my husband has said he feels like he cannot win especially in that first year. Should he say something or not, will it upset me or will I be upset if he says nothing. We have both gotten to the point we say what is on our mind. And I got really good at figuring out what I needed and told him and still do. Great job letting him know what you needed and wanted.

  13. Here I am, 23 YEARS after learning of his betrayal. I still experience raw pain from triggers. Even though they are less frequent, the trauma is all-consuming and exhausting. My husband is an alcoholic, raised in an alcoholic and abusive family. I saw warning signs, (never knew the extent of his families dysfunction) but I loved him so much and naively decided that we would be different. I had no idea. My upbringing left me totally unprepared. I had no experience with alcoholism. I knew no one with damaged emotions from neglect and who had grown up with constant fighting. I grew up in a wonderful family. At first, things were great. After about 15 years of marriage, alcoholism reared its ugly head. That was my first experience with betrayal. My pleading with him to stop did made no difference. Somewhere along the line, I heard that tough love was the right approach- don't be a doormat- don't back down. So, in my frustration, I became more vehement in my requests, but he, of course, told me that there was nothing wrong with his drinking. I began to lose respect for him. I wanted to leave. I knew I could make it on my own. but I had three beautiful kids. I'd tried so hard to protect them and didn't think they had been terribly affected- yet. I didn't want them to experience the pain and consequences of divorce, so I stayed, and prayed, and pleaded for him to stop. Then came the day when he admitted to an affair that had ended 6 months earlier. They had worked together, got drunk together, smoked pot together, and "were" together about six times over the course of a year and a half. I told him to leave. He stayed at his office and quit drinking cold turkey. Started AA and counseling. (He moved into the basement a month or two after the disclosure. We tried counseling, but all I did was cry and get angry all over again.) He hasn't had a drink since. His remorse was and is real. He is kind, sensitive, and thoughtful, but still struggles with the pain of his childhood. Some days are better than others, but without the numbing effects of alcohol, he struggles with frequent PTSD related dreams. We used to have friends, but now have no social life together beyond activities with kids and grandkids. He doesn't want to be with other people. We have good times, but healing eludes me. I can stuff it down for some time, but then a trigger will bring me right back to the betrayal with an unbelievably intense pain. 23 YEARS! I'm almost ashamed to admit it.

    1. Anonymous, Please. Absolutely no shame. There is nothing to be ashamed of. You are in pain because the man you trusted to build a life with betrayed you. That is devastating.
      Your husband's recovery is his job right now. I hope, as well as 12-step meetings, he's in individual therapy to help him learn new ways of coping that don't involve self-medicating. And speaking of medicating, alcoholics are often self-medicating undiagnosed mental health issues -- depression, anxiety, etc. -- so it's worth talking to a therapist to get a sense of whether that's the case with him.
      Your job is to heal yourself. And I would urge you to seek out individual counselling if you haven't already. PTSD is surprisingly "normal" with betrayal. So many of us think it can't possibly be PTSD because we haven't been in war zones or whatever. But post-trauma is our body's way of trying to be prepared for another shock. I did something called EMDR for post-trauma (which also helped me process a lot of the residual stuff from my own childhood with alcoholic parents that resurfaced with my husband's betrayal). EMDR is becoming more available and it works. It essentially helps you refile that trauma as memory so you can access it but it doesn't haunt you.
      In any case, I hope you'll continue to post here, read the posts and comments and trust that you will get through this. The women here are brilliant and funny and kind and compassionate. You're among friends who know what you're going through.

    2. Anon 2/26- I can totally understand it. Nothing to be ashamed of but I get that too. I didn't recognize my husbands alcoholism. He only drank evenings and weekends. It was the increasing frequency & amount of drinking that made me consider that he had a real problem. It's horrible. Yours is a very long timeline. I'm not sure how real healing could happen after betrayal if he was still a heavy drinker. Our marriage therapist & research says that alcoholism causes brain changes & rewiring.

      My husband was always a drinker. Before his second affair, he was drinking very heavily. It was embarrassing to go anywhere with him. He treated me & our children horribly (no physical abuse). He thought he was Mr. Perfect. He got all kinds of praise from his work colleagues. Most people thought he was the greatest guy in the world. At home, he was harsh to our children. He was so short tempered. We all wanted to love him more, but he was so unlikeable. I tried protecting the kids from him. It was a mess even without the cheating.

      Thank goodness your husband is in recovery from drinking. I hope he's in therapy, too for PTSD. Same with you. I feel like if problems don't get addressed in a meaningful manner, they come back to bite us.

      There's a lot of help out there for how to handle triggers. Elle's book is excellent. If you haven't read her book or others, I highly recommend it. Elle's book certainly validates all of the uninvited emotions from betrayal & gives them a name.

  14. {Note to Elle: I hope you consider writing a post about this yourself. I think women have been getting the short shrift in the sex addiction/infidelity/therapy world. It would have saved my alot of pain and suffering to have this lens.}.

    Holy cow, Ladies. Its been 5 years since d-day and I thought I had exhausted all the resources and ways of understanding what happened during the last 5 years.
    But I just found my new hero: Dr. Omar Minwalla. He talks about infidelity and compulsive sexual activity in a way that I so spot on, I want to cry. He actually frames his perspective as a “human rights issue.” He makes 1000% sense to me and my situation. It is starting to seem like there is a new set of resources that really “gets” the partner experience since I first joined the club (thank god for BWC being ahead the times). This is the paradigm I now know has been lacking in the therapy that we spent our hard on bucks and emotional energy on and it just didn’t work. I know so many of us have been harmed by therapy. There is even a term for it: “Therapy Induced trauma.” https://counsellingresource.com/features/2015/04/13/therapy-induced-trauma

    One thing I love how many of them take on the gender-based issues that are often ignored by therapists. In this day and age, it is time to look at the sexism inherent in some approaches to therapy and the ignoring or perpetration of harm to women— ie. Gaslighting women; shutting our intuition down; invoking the trope of the crazy woman; dismissing us as angry, hostile or controlling; diminishing typically feminine roles and reactions; ……

    So all of these folks are a huge lifesaver to me and help understand why things have been "stuck" in so many ways. They call it like so many of us see or feel it. I hope they are helpful to some of you.

    Betrayal Trauma Recovery: A non-profit that provides resources for partners. (esp. women) www.btr.org

    Dr Omar Minwalla has a whole therapeutic framework for therapists. Listen to the podcasts! https://theinstituteforsexualhealth.com

    Dr Rob Weiss has introduced the concept of “Prodependence” i.e. we are not the problem they are trying to make us out to be: https://sexandrelationshiphealing.com/blog/dr-rob-interview-on-the-be-well-with-beth-radio-program/

    Dr. Jill Manning: This needs to be the law for all therapists dealing with infidelity. https://drjillmanning.com/rule-5-criteria-determining-readiness-couple-therapy-sa-recovery/ I love her interview on www.btr.org podcast

    1. Thank you MBS. I know all too well That therapists can be clueless and harmful. It's as though they don't keep up with the research. Their expertise can be so limited. We had one marriage therapist comletely blow it on my husband's alcoholism. She didn't recognise it. The newest marriage therapist blamed infidelity on the alcoholism. Step in the right direction. But she also didn't address the pattern of what is shaping up to be a porn addiction that's been going on for 20 years.

    2. This is wonderful, MBS. Thank-you so much for posting these resources. I'll definitely mine them for future posts.

    3. Gem, did you see an addiction specialist or a CSAT (certified addiction specialist)? I am wondering if couples are more likely to get good help with a CSAT vs. someone with other types of couples therapy training. We haven't seen a CSAT, but as I am researching, I am seeing there is a huge difference in the CSAT approach and would have been much more useful for my situation. Anyone want to share their perspective?

    4. Our therapist was a licensed drug and alcohol counselor. I'm thinking that's different than CSAT. She was great at addressing the anger/depression/self loathing that preceeds the addiction. Her approach was very different than other therapists I've seen.

      I wish she'd picked up on the pattern of porn use, though!

    5. Ours is a CSAT. We actually tried to book with Minwalla but he was on a break.(!) This was a few years ago but I worried about him taking another break when we needed him badly. Our guy is SO tuned into all these techniques, but they do not come cheap. One thing I learned from my own previous therapy and our more current therapy with two different therapists is the the Dr can ONLY trust that you are telling the truth. They can dig if they feel something is off, but I have mentioned this before, when our shrink, after finding out H had had his affair with a hooker--or as he put it--a dancer, she asked if he had considered that he might be a sex addict and BOTH of us shook our heads. He might have been lying, but I had NO idea It reared it's ugly head a couple years later and there was zero room for doubt- and I wonder if things might have been different if he had JUST told the truth. Unbeknownst to me he had been involved in some questionable actives before he knew me, and at least one bit of sex had been transnational.

    6. Yes, Steam, these techniques are not cheap. But I realize I spent 5 years on lower cost therapists that were mostly a waste of time. I am not sure if we can afford to go this route (we are considering it). But it is shocking how little many therapists don't know how to effectively deal with betrayal and infidelity. I do appreciate that https://www.btr.org/ is trying to address this gap and offers something a little more affordable with APSATS coaches. I don't 100% agree with all of the content and I imagine that it not all situations are worth considering "abuse" or even "sex addiction" as they frame it. But there is so much on the site that helps me frame what has been happening in my relationship (even if you take out my partner's sexual acting out). Much of his behavior throughout our relationship was gaslighting and psychologically traumatizing for me. To have that clarity is such a relief right now.
      Last night I listened to this interview with Barbara Steffens and I wanted to weep for the sense of validation it gave me: https://www.btr.org/barb-steffens-secondary-betrayal-trauma/

    7. Wanted to share an additional resource that has been very helpful to me. The site is created by Kevin Skinner, CSAT/LMFT and has so many free resources. I am doing the healing trauma course...wish I had stumbled across this a year ago, instead of sinking thousands in useless therapy. Www.bloomforwomen.com


  15. I have new information and I’m not sure what to do with it. I have not confronted my husband.

    My husband has always traveled a lot for work. I've been able to travel with him lately which has been fun. He recently had a solo overnight business trip. The night he returned, I looked on his phone and discovered he’d been looking at porn on twitter while he was away. I clicked on the pages. It was pretty hard-core stuff, things we do not do together. It was in his search history.

    Here’s the backstory. Married over 20 years. A year & a half ago I discovered a twitter message on his phone with his co-worker who was friends with both of us. In the message, they said they loved each other. This was his second affair in 10 years. The first was with a former girlfriend that he re-connected with through facebook. To my knowledge, both affairs lasted about 6 months. He was never clear with me about when they started, so I really don’t know how long they lasted. He says both affairs were nothing more than physical beyond kissing. He admitted to sexting and “talking” about having sex. I don’t know that I believe this either.

    Way back before kids, say 2 years into our marriage, I found photocopies of nude women in the trash. This was before internet porn!!! He said his friend gave it to him. A few years later when our 3rd baby was 4 months old, I discovered he was having phone sex using one of those 1-800 numbers. I never dug into why he had the pictures, or why he made the phone call. I had very young kids at the time, and I didn’t realize the potential seriousness of it. I buried it. Call it denial, I guess.

    10 years later was affair #1. We had the worst marriage therapist but didn’t know it at the time. We thought we were ok. His drinking was not addressed. Affair #2 began just around 2 years ago. We have a good marriage therapist & he’s in a 12 step program for alcohol. He’s very dedicated. We’ve addressed the “why” he was unfaithful, and the alcohol was a big part of it. I brought up the pictures and the 1-800 call during therapy. I put it all out there and he denied that he had a problem with porn or sex, or sex with me. The therapist never pressed the issue.

    I’ve been feeling like we’re going in the right direction, more in love, & closer to him more than ever.

    Why was I looking at his phone? I feel like I trust him to be faithful. I think a big part of it is because I didn’t look at his phone at all during his second affair because I trusted him to never cheat again. Maybe I don’t trust myself anymore!

    So, my question is- what do I do with this now? The ladies here on this site have certainly opened my eyes to porn addiction. Is this even a sign of porn addiction? Do I let it go? If I talk to him, I of course have to tell him that yes, I’m still looking at his phone!
    Is this just normal guy behavior? Is a little porn normal? I feel like I'm opeing Pandora's box here. Given his history, I don’t like any sexual turn-ons outside of marriage.

    Please help. I’m not afraid of what I don’t want to hear. Actually, that’s not really true. But I’m more afraid of burying something potentially significant again.

    1. Gem,
      Pandora's box is already wide open. You're just finding new stuff in there.
      You were looking at his phone because he has given you plenty of reason over the years to not trust him. Checking his phone is actually something I recommend to couples healing from infidelity. Yes, he can still hide something but it's a chance to slowly rebuild trust. Trust but verify is something of our motto.
      So...you've found porn on his phone. What were the boundaries around porn use? Were there any? If not, why not?
      People with addictions often have cross-addictions. So, someone who's compulsively using booze to numb himself might easily also be using porn to numb/soothe himself. Given the problems porn has already created in your marriage, it's reasonable to expect him to not use it, or to use it as a couple within parameters or whatever you decide is healthiest for your marriage.
      I would bring it up with him. Tell him what you found. Ask him how often he uses it. Know that he will likely minimize but preface any conversation with a request that he tell you the truth. You cannot heal as a couple if he continues to be dishonest and sneaky. It's that simple. It's often the lying that is worse than the actual porn/affair.
      And I would talk it over with your marriage counsellor. You start by deciding what the boundaries are now -- "my heartbreak, my rules" is our motto around here. What do you need to feel safe within your marriage? Start there... If you get the "why are you in my phone" etc., tell him you can discuss that later but right now this is about another betrayal of you.

    2. Elle, I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said about boundaries and porn use. We didn’t have any. I didn’t think I needed them. We never discussed porn use. I never thought that he was going behind my back looking at it. A couple times he wanted to watch it with me, but I put a stop to it. It had everything to do with being turned on by other women and I'd had enough of that! I thought that was the end of it. That was after his first affair. During his more recent affair, he admitted to sending kinky texts with the ow. Is that related to porn use?

      Lots of things going through my mind. Do I have the right to be irritated about something we haven’t discussed? I honestly feel like the porn & affairs are all related. Just a way to get that high. He kicked the booze but I’m really rethinking if it was solely the booze that led to the affairs. Maybe it was the eroticism he really wanted all along.

      I’m babbling, just really confused trying to gear myself up for the inevitable discussion. I have been very naive in so many ways. But you’re right, it’s the lying and sneaking around that is the worst. I wish I could just bury this, but I won’t be doing myself, our marriage, or him any favors.

    3. No, burying it might offer some relief in the short term but pretty much guarantees that you'll be dealing with it again at some point down the road.
      Boundaries are to help you feel safe in your marriage. Given betrayal, it's not surprising that you find porn use, sexting, etc. to feel threatening. Is he in any sort of 12-step program or recovery program for his alcohol addiction? Might he be replacing one form of self-medicating for another. That's for him to figure out but it's completely reasonable for a boundary for you to be that he undergo treatment or attend a recovery group.

  16. What do you do about the past? I am looking at 18 years of marriage. He swears that this was his only affair, but he swore many times after D-day that he didn't do this or that, only to admit to a lie after being presented with concrete evidence. My struggle is that I don't know if anything in my life with him was real. Were there other women? I can remember several instances over the years where I was wondering, something felt off, weird situations...but I trusted him. Now I know better. What does that mean about my life?

    I get it that this is somewhat philosophical, I struggle with that daily. What makes something real? Is it my perception? My feelings? Or is is the reality?

    Specific example: he had a 4 day weekend with the skank in January 2017. I thought we were working on our marriage, talking on the phone a lot, emailing and texting each other. We were on the waiting list for an MC. My perception/memory of that time was that we were connecting, that he was working really hard on fixing the marriage and communicating. The reality is that what he was completely checked out and the only thing he was working hard on was pleasing himself and the other woman.

    Clearly, my perception has nothing to do with the reality. So then, how do I know if anything was real in my marriage? Because apparently, he could be completely gone for 6 months, dating the OW and doing all kinds of crap and I was in a marriage of one.

    Does this make sense to anyone? Because I can't figure it out. I just need to know what happened to my life. What REALLY happened to the last 18 years. Was anything real? Or just my imagination and false perceptions?

    After so many lies, how do you know what is the story of my life? Was I always a chump?

    1. LostSomewhere,
      It's a completely legitimate question and one I've wrestled with myself. We can agree that there are certain facts within a marriage but feelings are a whole lot more slippery. In my husband's case, I have a hard time understanding that he was in love with me even while he was acting out with other people. My husband swears that's the "truth".
      At a certain point, I've accepted that our reality was that our marriage had cracks in it that I didn't see. Doesn't mean we didn't have a marriage. Doesn't mean there weren't good things within that marriage. It does mean that I was shut out of part of my husband's life.
      So what do I do about that now? I acknowledge that I can never EVER know what's in someone else's mind. But I can judge their behaviour and I can learn to trust my own instincts. Your intuition was a telling you that something wasn't right. You were overriding that by listening to his gaslighting. Now that you know better, you'll do things differently.
      I'm not sure if I'm helping at all because I don't think there's a clear answer to this. Like you, my entire marriage included my husband leading a clandestine life. What was real? Well...that he loved me the best he could (even if that "best" was pretty shitty). That we had three children together. That we supported each other through some difficult times. That he abandoned me emotionally during some tough times. All that was real. Truth is a bit harder because we all see the world differently.
      The story of your life is yours to write. He would write a slightly different version. A sister/brother would write a slightly different version. Truth is relative.
      You were never a chump. You trusted someone who betrayed that trust. And now you can see that your intuition was telling you something important. That's not chumpish at all.
      I suspect you're a lot like I am -- something of a ruminator about things. I think it can be really healing to write your own story. Centre yourself within it. This is YOUR story. Focus on you. What you were doing, what you were feeling? Your story is yours.

    2. LostSomewhere and Elle - This post and your response really struck a chord with me. I, too, am overwhelmed with the realization that what I thought was REAL wasn't real at all ... That my husband would be faithful, that he loved me, that he was capable and could do all the things that he did for a year cheating on me with a DA from his work. All that time I thought one thing, another thing - a completely separate universe - was happening around me. The things I thought were promises weren't promises at all. The things I thought were true were lies. It's devastating to the psyche! It makes me feel like I am losing my mind. Cheaters will never, ever understand the devastation they cause to the people who put their trust, love, devotion, life with them when they cheat. They do these things to themselves, for themselves, and have no conception of the collateral damage they cause to those around them. And guess what? We can't do anything about that except carefully piece through what we thought was real and wasn't, pick at what is true and wasn't. It's exhausting. If I were to be honest, I hate the story of my life right now. I love my husband and want us to make it, but I HATE this is what we are, where we are, that I can never look at him and say he loved me enough to be true to me. He only loved himself enough to do what he wanted in that moment. It's hard knowing how to rewrite a story because I don't want to live in lies and a fantasy anymore. The story I want to write - that my husband was faithful and loved me enough to talk to me instead of running out and putting it in the first co-worker that got his heart pattering - I can't write. It didn't happen. It's not real, and it's not the true. So the story I write today is: I got up. Went to work. Wasn't mean to him. Tried to be compassionate. Tried to accept this is my life. Tried to sit with the pain and the realization. And I think this story sucks!

    3. Anon, It is devastating and traumatic. It is a pain like no other. I think focusing on each day is what is needed. As I mentioned on the other post today is four years since dday. And on that day four years ago if you told me that I am where I am today I would have never believed it was possible. My husband had two affairs over ten years. They were somewhat sporadic but yikes it was a lot to take in. And on top of that he is a mental health professional.

      What I have figured out for us at least is his cheating had nothing at all to do with me. And he was selfish but he cheated on himself. Through the recovery process it became more and more obvious to me he betrayed himself. He had the tools and knowledge and should have handled it differently but he did not. We cannot go back in time. I have brought up the idea that it confuses me. Also since his affairs were sporadic things would be crappy for a while then back to normal so it was hard to tell what was up with him. He always had an excuse too usually work. But he said he became someone who he hated once he went down that path. He said it is the worst feeling ever to do what he did to the one person he loves the most and never wants to or wanted to leave. We set boundaries and expectations based on the type of marriage we wanted going forward. Really whatever I needed to feel ok with the thought of considering trusting him again. He has professed to live his life 100% transparent and authentic as if I am next to him 24/7. He has never been happier or slept better. For me finding happiness has been harder. I would say it still can elude me. I focus on what I want to do and what is good for me. I try to enjoy each day for me.

      We both hate that he did what he did but we are thankful for the place we are now. We are closer than ever before. I think we are better parents. I am honestly glad it came out when it did rather than hiding it (my husband broke it off with both ow 15 months before dday but kept it a secret). He even considered leaving me without telling me.

    4. One other thing I forgot to mention was my husband was an expert at gaslighting and as mentioned it went on for a long time with two ten year affairs. I also got to a point that I was thank go it is not me it is him. I am not the crazy one like he made me feel throughout the ten affair years. It was kind of liberating. It took a while to get there but that was a really good perspective for me to take a step back.

      And one more thought was talk less and listen more. Once I adopted that mentality things progressed for us much quicker. My husband became less defensive. It really helped. I learned some of my husband's most personal thoughts by doing that.

  17. All of my friends and family adore my husband because he does all kinds of thoughtful things for them and me. I suspected that he was a cheater before we got married but was convinced by friends that he was not that kind of guy. I've seen text messages confirming my suspicions and questioned him about being unfaithful without revealing how I know. I've seen that he is on online dating sites but when questioned about them, he basically dismisses it as nothing and says that he'll stop since I've asked him to. I love my husband but I don't trust him. I've thought about catching him with her but I know that I am not in a position to leave when I do and I wonder if I stay will he then stop trying to hide it. I've even contemplated asking the woman does she know that he is married but then I figured that she must know since he doesn't stay out late. Feeling Stuck

    1. Anonymous,
      You've already caught him. It doesn't matter whether he consummates a relationship with someone else or not. He's on dating sites. You've seen text messages. He's basically admitted it. I'm not sure what else you're waiting for. You need to make it clear NOW that this behaviour is absolutely unacceptable. Married men do not go on dating sites. I don't care whether he meets someone on it or not. Any "secret" behaviour is unacceptable when he knows it's a threat to his marriage.
      Your family and friends' opinions don't matter right now. You know he's betraying you already. Take a stand. There's information on this site about setting clear boundaries. I would also encourage you and him to get into couples counselling. In fact, I would insist he accompany you. I'm so sorry he's putting you through this. It's not okay.

    2. I agree with you Elle; I need to "take a stand". I divorced my first husband who was an abuser after 17 years and started my life over with 3 teenagers. I left with nothing, not even a fork and had to rebuild my life and the thought of doing that again at 57 almost makes my heart stop.

    3. Unknown, See? You're already a warrior. You've done this. And no, it's not what any of us would choose. But I suspect that you've likely spent a lifetime letting people violate your boundaries (boundaries are what we have to keep ourselves emotionally and physically safe). I bet your the "good sport" who just rolls with stuff, who doesn't make a big deal out of things, who lets herself be disappointed rather than disappoint others. But when we consistently let others violate our boundaries, we're teaching them they can disrespect us. It's our job to keep ourselves safe, emotionally and physically. So your job is to teach others how to treat you. Which we do all the time. It's just that sometimes we're teaching them the wrong things -- that our feelings don't matter. It's time for some new teachings.
      You can do this Unknown. Determine what you need to begin to feel safe in your marriage. And then insist upon it. I would start with absolutely no contact with other women that you aren't aware of and that would include you having access to his phone, computers, etc. Total transparency. I would also insist that he seek counselling in order to figure out why he's risking his marriage for what he seems to care little about.
      You're only a couple of years older than I am. WE've got a lot of living left to do, Unknown. Let's make it count.

  18. Pardon my english, it took me a long time to get this post out. https://brutaltruthlifepostaffair.blogspot.com/2019/05/a-fresh-beginning-recreating-memories.html and https://brutaltruthlifepostaffair.blogspot.com/2019/02/does-karma-truly-exist.html.

  19. I am almost 23 months out from DDay #1 ... I feel like I'm at an impasse. I can't continue to tell myself I'm staying for the kids because I feel myself dying a little more each day inside.

    To be brutally honest - we haven't had any expert help. We were seeing a marriage therapist right after I found out ... and then again after our hyperbonding baby was born. We quit going back in October 2018 because she wasn't the right fit (she cried when he agreed to give me a "disclosure" in July 2018 that was nothing more than lip service). I found someone I thought would be promising - had experience counseling families of Sex Addicts ... had a Betrayed Wives Group therapy ... and she left me more traumatized than when I walked in. And I've made excuse, after excuse as to why I haven't found a new marriage therapist.

    I saw a therapist back in August - October 2017. She admitted she was equipped to help with the general therapy but had no trauma therapy. So I parted ways with her. Again ... excuse, after excuse, about why I haven't found a new individual therapist.

    He did some individual therapy back in February - April 2018. He found this therapist after she cut things off with him and he was struggling with THAT issue. He, however, was not honest with this therapist - i.e., failed to tell this therapist that he posted ANOTHER craigslist ad after he confessed that the affair hadn't ended the way he said it did in 2017.

    I spent Mother's Day alone with my kids. I told him I didn't want him to be there. I wanted a day with just them. This came a week after his last implosion and "fine, just go file then." I told him I'm done pulling him off the ledge. That he needs to figure out why it is that he can only see me as angry instead of hurt and confused. Why it is that he automatically goes to "just be done." I told him that we need to find a therapist both for US and as individuals and that he needed to be honest with this new therapist.

    I finally talked to a mediator/lawyer this week and put out feelers on 2 others. I just feel like my only way to take control of the situation is to cut ties and run. He's quick to get defensive when I'm not ok ... bring up the affair ... or question anything that I find suspicious. Which leaves me wondering - what more is he worried I'll find?

    He's yet to respond to my request for him to get into individual therapy in a positive manner. He's currently out of town for a business trip and I have to say - the house has been peaceful. Our routines have been thrown into turmoil ... the kids are grouchy because they have to get up earlier than normal since I'm dropping off. But I have been telling myself - they'll get used to it.

    I don't know ... I just needed to get this out. I'm finding myself needing to find some semblance of control in my situation. I'm needing to get my head out of my butt, to drop the excuses, and start living life again.

    1. Kimberly,
      At the very least, I would LOVE you to find a therapist for you -- a place to really sort through all this stuff and, whether or not you stay or go, support you as you heal from this. I can't get over how many shitty therapists you've had. Surely the next will be good?
      You cannot have a healthy marriage with an unhealthy partner, as you're discovering. If he refuses to help himself, then all you're doing is stemming the bleeding while carrying the whole load yourself.
      Seek support. Today. Make some calls. Speak to these people for a few minutes on the phone to see if it feels like a fit. And then make an appointment. You deserve to feel better.

    2. Hi Kimberly
      Thinking of you.
      I know what you mean about finding a good therapist "fit". One that can deal with everything you have going on. I hope you have been able to find that one that fits for your healing.
      Thinking of you
      Gabby xo

    3. I've now had 2 sessions with the new therapist. I won't lie - I've determined I will never find the perfect therapist. Because is there ever such a thing?

      I did my first ART session. It was a little weird. I wasn't sure what to expect and felt like I wasn't doing it properly. I focused back on the therapy session where my WS told me he couldn't break things off with the OW because "it would destroy her." Thinking about it immediately set me to tears - it was such a strong emotion. But before I left I had changed the "scene" to where I walked out before those words came out. I tried and tried most of the night to bring that scene back in and my brain was just foggy and I couldn't get it up. Now. I can bring it up but it's just a numb feeling. There isn't any emotion to the words. It's just strange.

      I keep wondering - how many more of these scenes do I have to undo/change/etc.? I laughed and told my therapist that with my life of dysfunction she could be set until retirement.

  20. I know everyones different but what strategies have people used when feeling anxious
    The past 3 weeks i’ve felt terrible and been making sarcastic comments, accusing him, bringing up the past which then cause us to arguments.
    I’ve looked through parts of this blog and have been able to see my own feelings in other peoples words.
    We’re in the early stages (found out 8 months ago) have a 3 month old baby, so this is all a bit of a messy time where i’m unsure of how i feel, unsure if my low moods are a cause of everything that has gone on or a bit of pnd.
    I’m also struggling cause it wasn’t clear cut
    I found out
    Then had him back n forth for 3 months making promises then messing up
    Then in dec he cut ties with OW
    things were good for a month/month half then i found out hed kissed a girl on a night out and taken her on a date
    As soon as i found out i packed all his belongings, put them in his car and locked him out
    I didn’t see him for around a month only speaking to him if it concerned our child or unborn baby
    Then when the baby was born he stayed here when he was on paternity and we kindof slipped back to being together
    He works away and that can’t be changed
    I was coping ok ... baby is 12 weeks now and for past three weeks have struggled!
    Sorry this is all over the show
    I know its a long process

    1. So sorry you are going through this and on top of it having a new baby. That is a hard time all on its own. I think back when I had my second and my husband's affair started the weeks before that. It still makes me sad. That was the beginning of ten years of two sporadic affairs. He hates what he did for many reasons including what he did to our marriage but he was also detached from our family. He lost a lot of time. He was still a good dad but not like he is now.

      My suggestion for you would be to think about what you need. For me I wrote in a journal daily and we had a weekly meeting together. This helped both of us a lot. We set very firm boundaries and expectations. I mean very detailed like call me on the way to work, call me during lunch, call me on the way home from work. If he met friends out to watch a game or play golf every detail was laid out. Then if there were changes he had to call no texts. We also set expectations around the home. I felt like it was to controlling but as I learned here boundaries are there to make you feel safe. I would also suggest seeing a therapist. For me it was so great to have a person just for me who listened, helped me and supported me. I knew whether we stayed together or not I needed to take care of me. And especially just having a baby I would think that would be helpful too. So many thoughts, emotions and changes with that alone.

      I know you have read a lot on here but just be kind to yourself. For me none of it made sense, there was trickle truth and so much pain to work through. I am over four years past dday and we are in a good spot. But it took a lot of work. It took me a full year to just deal with the immediate pain and processing it all. That was when it hit him and it has taken him longer. And not to get over the ow but to face what he did. I highly suggest setting boundaries and expectations. Nothing for us was too small to address. The once a week meetings helped him to be less defensive. And it took a long time before I could even consider trusting him again. It really had to be earned by watching to see if his actions matched his words over and over. And we focused on the fact that love is a verb not a feeling. We are here for you and post as much as feels right for you!

    2. Anonymous,
      I am so sorry for everything you're going through. Hopeful30 is right --having a newborn (and a child) is exhausting enough without infidelity on top of it. Please PLEASE do everything you can to take care of yourself.
      Regarding your reconciliation -- I'm curious what is in place to keep him accountable to you. Are you able to check his phone/computer to see if there's contact with other women? What is he saying to you regarding the infidelity? Is he remorseful? Without any sort of reckoning -- and recognition from him about how damaging this is for you, your marriage and the whole family -- what's to stop him from doing it again? I'm saying this so that you can put boundaries in place, if they're not already there. You kicked him out once so you're clearly not someone to be messed with. I wonder if, once you see him fully recommitted to your marriage, if the snarky comments might stop or slow down. Because you're right, they don't help and likely hurt. But I'm guessing that you're feeling exhausted and overwhelmed right now so it's not surprising that you're having trouble keeping yourself in check. Does he understand how difficult this is for you? Is he able to put the brakes on for both of you? Is he stepping up at this particularly difficult time?
      As Hopeful30 says, you're among friends here. You are safe. Post as often as you need. The women here are incredible.

  21. Thank you both of you.
    He works away during the week home at the weekends.
    Boundaries in place - not much to be honest as when we got back together i was in the newborn stage everything was great we just seemed to click back and it was fine. But it’s not fine now.
    I do not check his phone and to be honest i don’t want to start that as i know i will become obsessive. If i was to ask to see it i’m not 100% sure if he’d let me, i hope he would but if he said no then i would take that as he has something to hide. While he is working away during the week he phones me lots unlike he used to i do pretty much know where he is as good as i can bearing in mind he is 5 hours away. However just recently he has started working weekends again and i think this is where my thoughts have gone crazy. So he is home every other weekend. The first weekend he worked away he went out on the drinks - A few after work pints turned into much more i was fuming - how dare he. He was out no worries and inwas at home crying, worrying, paranoid that he would cheat again
    Next day we talked he said he was sorry, hadnt thought how it made me feel etc and he wouldnt go out till i felt ready. But can i really expect this of him. He likes q night out. Wont this just cause problems later on down the line. He has also moved in to a new diggs with two mates and it just seems that phonecalls and texts are less frequent now. Obviously i understand when we are with our friends we do tx less etc but it puts me on edge.
    A couple of weeks back it didnt but now it does.
    Hes coming home today, all we have done is argue at the tiniest things which it all then escalates.
    How do i set boundaries without being controlling? I feel so naive and lost. I feel like a child, scared to make the wrong move. I feel like i have lost the power i had in the beginning, and i dont mean a power over him i mean a power i had in me like a he can work for it attitude, a i’ll be fine by myself power. Now i just feel weak like i need to keep him.
    I dont feel he is stepping up (but who am i to judge) i feel he needs to walk on boiling hot foals to please me but that is not realistic nor is making him suffer going to achieve anything or help us rebuild. He says that i am “too much” has a go because i don’t believe him or i question him
    Regards to therapy i have just the other day requested counselling sessions through work as i am entitled to free sessions however i do not know if this counsellor will be a relationships one or what. However as i wanted to address possibly my own issues with possible pnd i figured it was a good place to start.
    You ladies give me hope, you also scare me. I’m not sure i can withstand feeling like this in a years time
    Maybe cutting ties would be easier :(

    1. That is a great start to get set up with a therapist. If anything it is someone for you to talk through all of this. I cannot tell you how huge that was for me. Just to feel like someone was on my side.

      I was so hesitant about setting boundaries. I felt like I was going to be controlling or feel like "mom". Elle was a huge help and my therapist too. Setting boundaries was an evolution. And honestly as things got better I expected more and we put in place more boundaries. How I ended up looking at it was my husband did not just start cheating and have a one night stand. I would say he was always on the selfish side but his boundaries shifted before and while he was cheating. He lived his entire life a certain way and that was doing whatever he wanted when he wanted. He admitted to me when he walked out of the house he did not think of us at all. We never crossed his mind once. Out of sight out of mind I guess. Cheating was a big issue but also how he lived his entire life. Someone does not just flip a switch and change their entire personality.

      For me I thought about what the issues were. At first it was dealing with the affairs and behaviors connected with that. When did the affairs happen, how did they communicate etc. So the initial focus was guys trips, going out with friends (golfing, watching games, bars), drinking, phone/email/social media use. He had fake accounts set up. Those were the hot button issues I would say we started with.

      He had two guys trips scheduled with dday happened. We both went back and forth on them. We agreed together he could go but we went over all of the boundaries. I had the entire itinerary, who he was rooming with, where they were going, check in times, he was available if I called and needed to talk no matter what, he agreed how much he would drink, no talking/interacting with women unless ordering food etc. If plans changed he needed to call me. He said he wanted to do all of those things since he knew he was not going to do anything wrong but wanted me to feel safe and start to build trust. We are over four years out and still follow this almost more as a check in.

      For a long time I did check all of his accounts. For me it was and still is a non negotiable that I can pick up his phone at any time or ask to have it. Anything he does I should be able to see. I have all of his passwords too. I don't check often just to make sure they are not changed. I also feel like smartphones make cheating so easy. And he has said to me he has nothing to hide and he loves that.

      Then we set expectations related to our relationship and home life. He has tried really hard from the beginning but it has had its ups and downs. He has many friends and they run fast lives as far as they go out and are very social. They golf and travel a lot. He has cut back a ton and they have noticed which he is happy about. But this has all taken time. He had to learn to navigate a new life basically. He said he is happier now that he thinks of someone else before himself. He has told me sometimes he catches himself only thinking about himself.

      This has taken us a lot of work and time. And as I said there have been highs and lows. My husband is a mental health professional and he broke it off with both ow 15 months before dday. I think that accelerated our recovery. Just remember boundaries are what you need to feel safe in the relationship. It took me the first year to deal with it all. Then years 2-3 were all about him processing what he had done. I never thought that would happen. I thought he made these decisions so he must be fine with what he did.

      Think about what you need and even the smallest things that would make you feel better or safer. I also thought about cutting ties but I came to the realization that I needed to work through this whether we were together or not. If it came to that then at least I would have done everything I could and done as much work towards healing. Just remember we are here for you!

  22. I just need to vent a bit. Having a couple of really hard days. 5+ years out from D-Day and while I know I'll never get over this shit, I was hoping it wouldn't come back and bite me again. But it has.
    Two days ago, bored, too hot to go outside...figured I'd get to cleaning out those drawers I'd been thinking about. You know where this is going, but I never had a second thought about starting that job- the house had been "cleaned" years ago. I did it, not my H. He wouldn't know where to start- he'd have to rip the house apart...yeah, well, that's what happened, only I did it.
    So long story short- in a stack of greeting cards I was sorting through was a sheet of computer printed paper with either lyrics to a song or stanzas of a poem...and it was really nice. I looked at the print-out date and thought, what a crummy person I was that I never acknowledged such a nice gesture from my husband. How had I forgotten he'd given me such a ...oh, wait...this wasn't for me. It was years before D-Day when he was involved with probably two women at this time. For whom was this, or from whom did he get it?
    As you can guess this set off all sorts of things for me- mind-searching, date ordering...what was going on at this time? And then i remembered that we had already had a conversation about this paper and he explained it was lyrics to a (Tony Bennett) song his group was working on. And I bought it then, but don't now. The date is wrong...there wasn't a "group" then, the sentiments are like what he thought about these women. It's from a time just after a significant event in his life. And I just feel hurt all over again.
    So I've been sitting on it for two days. I originally recycled it, then got up at 1am last night and dug it out. No good will come out of asking him about it- I already know that. I'm not sure what I'll do with it. Shred- recycle- burn it. I don't know.
    I guess I just want to ask the universe why. Everything was ok, then an innocent task and pow! So many old feelings are surfacing- panic, not feeling "safe" from these women in my own house..all that PTSD stuff. And real irritation with him. I didn't expect this and it's like I'm reliving the whole thing again. And I don't feel like I can even talk to him about this. What good will it do? He never remembered anything about anyone or any place...he says. Everything is all spun out of whack again.
    And the worst part? I'm frickin' 63 and I feel like I'm a 16 yr. old reacting to a bad breakup. After 5 years, too. Like I said, I know there's no getting over this shit, but for Pete's sake...how about giving me a break??
    Thanks for the venting space.

    1. Anon55,
      I'm so sorry. Those situations are awful. I've had them too. And though I think this is well and truly behind me, suddenly my heart is pounding, I have tunnel vision and it feels like it's happening RIGHT NOW.
      But that's the thing. This isn't happening right now. It's over. This really is a post-traumatic response to the past. And that's what you need to remind yourself, over and over. This is about the past. You know about this. This doesn't change anything. It's just brought up some really painful stuff.
      I would urge you to try and talk with your husband about it. Not to get answers because those, honestly, don't really matter and won't change anything. But tell him how you're feeling. Ask him to just listen to you. If you need him to hold you, then tell him that. If you need him to look you in the eye while you talk, then tell him that. You need an ally right now who understands how horrible this is for you. And it's good for your marriage if he can be that ally. There are likely a whole lot of years when he wasn't that ally for you. Give him the opportunity now...but set him up to succeed at it, not to fail. Try and provide specific requests about what you need. And then...open your heart, which is in so much pain. I imagine, if he's able to say so, he'd say something like "I am so sorry for the pain I've put you through. None of it was worth hurting you like this." Instead, if he's like a lot of these guys, he'll be thinking those thoughts mixed up with "i'm such an asshole, why can't I do anything right, and why did she have to go through my stuff and why did I write that in the first place and and and..." You don't want to hear any of that. You need support and compassion and, possibly, an expression of remorse. Tell him that.
      And stop beating yourself up. You're a 63-year-old whose heart was broken by the man she trusted to value it. There's no shame in feeling pain. There's no shame in needing support.
      I wonder too, if you and your husband are able to come together when these post-trauma things hit, if you'll change your mind about "never" getting over this. It will always be something that happened to you but it doesn't need to be omnipresent in your life. And that might change if feel totally safe in your marriage. Give it a try. And let us know what happens.
      (P.S. I'm not sure if you've heard of EMDR but it worked miracles for me and post-trauma symptoms. I think there's a post on this site. See if you can search for it. Might change a whole lot for you.)

    2. Anon55 - Inhale ... exhale ... repeat!

      Of course you're triggered. And in that trigger came up so many things - the betrayal itself -- the gas lighting (he told you X but in reality it was Y) -- you feel like you can't talk to him.

      So in therapy yesterday I admitted that some of my triggers that I was making about the OW were really triggers about what my AOH (asshole of a husband ... I'm determined to make this acronym stick!) did. And I told my therapist I couldn't talk to him about it. She point blank looked me in the eye and asked me why I couldn't. I'm a grown woman who knows how to talk ... why couldn't I talk to him about it?

      Truth - I'm afraid of several things a) he'll let something slip that wasn't in the "know" from before and I'll be retraumatized; b) he'll gas light me to cover his own ass - which will retraumatize me; c) that I'll cry uncontrollably which makes me feel stupid and weak (aka feel retraumatized) ... Do you see where I'm going?

      So basically I don't feel like I can talk to him because of the fear of being retraumatized ... but really ... I'm traumatizing myself by NOT talking to him.

      I love that you are able to sit with this. Because how many other times would it have turned into Mount Vesuvius? There's PROGRESS to be found and grace to be granted.

      So to steal from Elle - what's the next best thing for you in this?

    3. Thanks to everyone who replied- here and through my e-mail. Lots of good advice as usual. I really appreciate Elle's advice about this being a post-traumatic event...I really have to remember that. I'll probably screen-shot it and keep it on my desktop where I can read that again and again. This episode was a total stupid accident- no one's fault. And now, it's more of a mild irritation and not the depression from yesterday.
      And Kimberly- I sure get what you're saying about the fear of talking to my H as really traumatizing myself- I hadn't thought of it quite that way- it's definitely a healing perspective...different than what I've been doing. I agree that I am traumatizing myself- I just hadn't thought of that before. I better stop doing that! ;)
      I'm doing much better today- sometimes it really is just about being able to say something in a safe space to others who understand what I've been through.
      I know so much of this is figuring out how to respond and how to find your way again. It's not easy as we all know. And the triggering- even my counselor has mentioned PTSD in some of my sessions- and logically, I understand it and know that's what's happening when something like this happens- logically I KNOW it...but the emotional side takes over and we all know how that can go. (And yes- I've heard of EMDR- my counselor is trying to find a certified therapist. It sounds interesting.)
      So today, I'm steady and ok. I'll bring this up with my H...i know I have to so that he understands that this kind of thing still happens. And he does understand that. There's a part of me that hates to bring this stuff up because I don't want to hurt him and bring back the shame and guilt, but when I do, he IS understanding. We're a work in progress and like all works, it's going to be two steps forward and one step back periodically.
      I just really appreciate all of you being here. I've said it before and it hasn't changed- this group saved my life and helped me navigate those early scary days and now gives me a place to go when I need advice or just someone to listen to me. Thanks to all of you.

    4. Anon55, You sound a whole lot better so yay!! A teensy red flag I noticed -- you seem to prioritize not making your husband experience the consequences of his choices (ie. he'll feel hurt/ashamed if you point out how hard this is for you) rather than your own comfort/needs. He's a grown man. It's beyond time for him to deal with this. Of course, you care for him, you don't want him in pain. But his pain doesn't trump yours. He needs to learn how to manage his own shame without it silencing you.
      Let us know if you do EMDR. I'm always curious if it works for others like it did for me.
      And...Kimberly!! You are incredible. My absolute favorite thing about this little "club" I created is when I see women reaching out a hand to lift another up. It makes my heart swell. And you doing exactly that -- and sharing your own hard-won wisdom -- makes me smile wide. Thank-you for that.
      And, in honour of you, AOH needs to be added to all of our acronym vocabulary!! Hear that sisters?? AOH is happening.

  23. I am in a world of pain once again.
    I found out very publicly that my husband was not just having an affair ,he was besotted and in love with the OW.
    The day I found out so did my whole family, which was regrettable yet unintentional.
    He was outed by his affair partner ,she had obviously been giving him ultimatums and forcing him to choose.
    He told me he chose me.
    The affair carried on ,he hid it ,but not well as the OW was clever, she marked him in intimate places, left many tell tale signs including bruises from horse play whilst having sex.
    when he came home after sessions with her, she would send dozens of messages. She knew that I knew about their love affair, she must have become desperate because she would phone me and even ask me my whereabouts and tell me my husband was asleep beside her after a fantastic long sex session.
    He would arrive hoe ,kiss me ,hug me and looking into my eyes say " you know its YOU I love"
    We have been married a very long time, longer than the OW has been born.
    I did everything wrong , the hysterical sex, choose me dance , I tried to compete for his attention
    I am 3 or maybe 4 years on since D Day . I will never know the day the Affair ceased as he has refused to go to couples counselling , refuses to talk to me about anything.
    I began to try to push for a discussion .All he says is that its NOT his problem ,he is ok and that I should be too.
    he gets very cross because I am worried when he goes see his many friends that are ALL woman colleagues or ex colleagues.
    He is retired now and I understand that 90%+ were woman .
    Every time I get anxious he tells me its another nail in the coffin of our relationship.
    He tells me I am too obsessed by sex as he isn't into that anymore.
    He hasn't touched me sexually for 2 years and I am scared.
    I am triggered every time he calls me stupid, or accuses me of living in the past.
    OK I am very sad right now ,I just lost my very elderly mum an dad. I am frightened of the small time left on earth for me.
    Sadly I love my husband still,
    Can anyone help me handle the triggers that I respond badly too. Please don't tell me to leave as I feel so broken I couldn't .
    I just want my head to settle down and to be lighter in my heart.
    Whenever I make a mistake and react to a comment made to me I go ape, this has gotten so much worse since the deaths of my mum and dad this year.

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      You are currently in an emotionally abusive relationship.

      You are not responding badly to triggers; you are responding very appropriately to mistreatment. You are also grieving -- both the loss of your parents and the loss of the marriage you wished you had.

      Your husband is disrespectful and unappreciative. He is also insulting you ("he calls me stupid"). He is also gaslighting you ("he tells me I am too obsessed by sex", he "accuses me of living in the past"). He is also refusing to help you heal ("he has refused to go to couples counselling, refuses to talk to me about anything")

      You deserve better than this. And you can get it. But the person who will give it to you is not your husband; it's you.

      Now. It sounds like this is an excruciatingly difficult time. You have asked "Please don't tell me to leave as I feel so broken I couldn't", so I won't. And I get it: it takes a huge amount of strength to leave a relationship and it sounds like your reserves are just too low at the moment to consider any big moves.

      So, the thing to do is to focus all your energy and attention on the most important person in your life: you.

      You are deserving of love and kindness and compassion. Give it to yourself.

      First, I recommend that you help all the stress that is currently in your body get out of your body. In the book "Burnout" by Nagoski and Nagoski (highly recommended), this is called completing the stress response cycle. The most effective way to do this is high-intensity exercise, 20-60 minutes, most days of the week. The kind of exercise where you feel out of breath much of the time. (With the usual caveats about only starting intense exercise if you have your doctor's blessing.) Other ways to complete the stress cycle: Breathing (try the guided meditation called "The RAIN of self-compassion" with Tara Brach), positive social interaction, laughter.

      Next, I recommend that you get the highly skilled help you very much deserve: find an individual counselor whom you have a genuinely good gut feeling about. You're allowed to try several people out. In fact, they expect it. You're allowed to say "you know what? I don't think this is right fit". In fact, they expect that too. Go with someone YOU think is a good fit for you.

      As you do these things, I recommend that you reflect on what kind of story you want to be the hero of. Forget about your husband: what makes YOU feel that life has meaning? What makes you feel you are making a difference in the world? What makes you feel loved? Accepted? Safe? What do YOU want to do with this one wild and precious life?

      Love is a tricky thing. We often love things and people that are bad for us. For me, loving someone isn't a good enough reason to stay and to invest. The person has to be worthy of my love, and has to agree with me that my love is precious and that they are lucky to have it.

    2. Anonymous,first of all, I am sorry you are going through this and welcome to the club nobody wanted to join. I am married to a recovering sex addict and will be married 41 years in January. Within the first two months of my husbands disclosure to me, ("I have something to tell you. I think I have AIDS. I've been having sex with prostitutes for years."), I sought legal counsel with a good divorce attorney to get to the bottom line of my rights in the event of divorce. I highly recommend you do the same because knowledge is power and he has convinced you that he has the upper hand and he does not! Please, gather the information on your finances and make that appointment. It will give you some strength and power to know your rights and what you can expect should your marriage dissolve. When I told my husband, months after his disclosure, that I had sought legal advice it got his attention. If you have not found a good therapist, please find one immediately. Chinook has given you some good advice here. This is your life. It took me over two years to really absorb that with the help of this blog and my therapist. I've not shared my story with anyone in my family. Just my therapist and my best friend. Oh and I had to get tested for STD'S twice. Yes, twice and if you have not done so, please go do that now. It was embarrassing and I felt humiliated but my doctor told me it is a regular occurrence in her practice. Just go do it now. We have all been paralyzed by fear in this process and you will get through this too but right now it is time for some radical self care my friend. He obviously cares little about you or his marriage so you must look in the mirror and see value in you. You must see that you are worthwhile. He has squandered lots of money on others and now you need to take care of yourself. Spare no expense. Most legal advice is free for the first consult. Information is power. Please find the strength to make that call and go hear what the attorney has to say. Your spouse is an ass but honey it is time you take back your power and learn to kick ass. You can do this. We've got your back. Hugs and strength to you today and always.

  24. Dear Anonymous,
    I just can't believe the pain you must be experiencing. You have been through so much. Can I help you handle the triggers? No- I can't even handle mine sometimes. Here's the thing about triggers- as you know- they can send you down a rabbit hole and you relive EVERYTHING.
    Here's what I can say...you have done nothing wrong. You were blindsided, emotionally tortured by the OW (!!!- what a bitch. Sorry, not sorry.) AND your H did it as well and is still doing it. You are trying to broach the affair with your H and he will have none of it. He won't go to counseling. He hasn't touched you in two years. He continues to go out with groups of women and has no care for your feelings. He is being verbally and emotionally abusive. He is gaslighting you and putting you down. He blames you- says it's your problem. He piles new triggers on top of old ones- you're getting no relief whatsoever. No chance to breathe or rest- he hasn't allowed it. He seems to have all the power, and my guess is he relishes that. At your expense.
    Where did you do anything wrong? I can't find it.
    Now on top of all this pain, you are dealing with your parent's deaths. There is nothing like the death of a parent to bring mortality into focus. Your encounter with mortality is magnified by the betrayal. (Guess how I know?) There is nothing like grieving for your marriage- which you are doing- and then having additional grief thrust on you. Many of us here are older, too. We've been married a long time. My H emotionally carried on with multiple women over a period of ten years- some of which were while my dad was declining and dying. So many of us have had mortality shoved in our faces by the actions of our spouses. Yours is complicated by death.
    You have been dealt a blow on many levels and I surely understand how you feel broken- we've all felt that. But many of us who have decided to stay in our marriages at least have husbands who recognize what they did and are trying to make amends. Yours is not. My guess is that he shows no sympathy toward you even in the face of your parents' death.
    Are you getting counseling? (You don't say you are) If you are not, get thee to a counselor or therapist ASAP. The therapist can help you sort through this mess. It's my best advice. You need to care for yourself. Not your husband, and right now, not your marriage. Yourself. Let someone help you through this grief and, frankly, terror. Is your family supportive and helpful? Perhaps there's some refuge there? Can anyone in your family help you? Will they offer you a place to stay so you can sort things out? Do they provide emotional support at all?
    I know you did not want any of us to tell you this, but unless your H is willing to deal with his problems, I just can't see staying with him. I find his behavior toward you frightening and cruel. It seems to be about power- not love. One thing I HAVE learned...you must put yourself first right now and do what is best for YOU. As far as I can tell from your post, you are being emotionally abused. I resolved when my mess exploded 5 years ago that I would no longer be treated with disrespect. If my H wouldn't do the hard work to put the marriage back together, if I had to give him another chance...if he ever did it again...I would not stay and be treated like that. I am enough; I am worthy of myself. That's all that counts in the end.
    I hope that with counseling, you are able to eventually be able to view the situation as it is- as it seems to me to be, anyway- and do what is best for you and your mental health. When you're in a terrible situation, you can't always see the way out. Please get some counseling.
    I'm sure the others who are much more expert at helping us will chime in. Listen to them- they are a great bunch of sisters.

  25. many thanks for your kind words. Deep down I know this is the truth .The problem is that I really am broken right now.
    I really did believe he was my soul mate.
    Honestly had no single clue he could ever be so cruel.
    He is very charming and no one sees through his bull****
    I doubt I will ever stop loving him ,I believed the vows I took so very long ago.
    My mum held my hand as she was near death and told me that you was never given more than you can carry.
    She was my best friend and confidant.
    I nursed her and my dad in their home until they passed.
    My husband was supportive in his own way.
    He feels I am watching his every move. He says it is paranoia.
    if I ask where he is going he becomes angry.
    You say I did nothing wrong .yet it feels that I did to me.
    I took life for granted, took happiness as a right.
    I wish I could turn back the clock which is sadly impossible.
    You give me hope that I will eventually see the light at the end of this dark tunnel.
    I have no family to go too. I have sisters but they shouted and yelled telling me how stupid I was to accept his crap, they said I was a fool.
    I lost faith for a while as they became so aggressive with me.
    I understand why,.yet they didn't help nurse our mum and dad much and called me a doormat.
    I hope I can find my place in life again.
    once I was a mother,lover, business woman ,successful.
    that person will survive I feel certain.
    But anyway thanks for the advice .I feel calmer having you listen.
    I have visited 3 counsellor's will try again when I can.

    1. Anonymous,
      Nobody gets to tell you what you do, and that includes your husband and your sisters. YOU get to decide how you want to live your life. And no, you did nothing wrong. Sitting with your parents and nursing them is NOT taking life for granted.
      I'm curious what happened with the other three counsellors. Just something to think about: A good counsellor won't always tell us what we want to hear. But, if a relationship of trust has been established, they can often tell us what we need to hear in order to be our best selves. Therapy isn't easy. In the short term, however, you should feel respected and supported.

    2. You say I did nothing wrong .yet it feels that I did to me.
      I took life for granted, took happiness as a right.
      I wish I could turn back the clock which is sadly impossible.

      Been there. All of that. This is perfectly normal. When I first found out, I blamed myself. It was all my fault. I kept micro-examining every little thing I'd ever done to figure out why he left our marriage all those years. I'd gained a lot of weight- she was tiny...I was a serious person, she was more outgoing...etc. (I knew the woman. We worked together.) It took a log time for me to know that it wasn't me. It was him. You'll get there. Sometimes when you're in that kind of a mood, you just have to say, Stop! It wasn't me. I did nothing wrong. Takes a lot of practice. I also wished I could go back in time- found myself bargaining with whoever was out there to just let me have a chance to "fix" my marriage. Also perfectly normal. It's part of the grief process.

      I am so sorry that the two people who supported you have gone. This might sound really out there, but maybe your sisters are angry that you got hurt. They have no right to hurt you further, but maybe they are as stunned as you are. Maybe the criticism is a reflection of their anger at your husband and really not at you. Of course, I can be REALLY off base. Again- it's sometimes hard to see a situation as it is until you get out of it and can look back at it more objectively. Just a thought.

      I'm so glad you're working on counseling. It can be hard to find the right person- keep at it. You'll find one. I'd like to offer one other thought- I can tell you are in the depths of despair. I can tell you are overwhelmed. I am wondering whether you have talked to your medical doctor yet. Perhaps...maybe...you could use an anti-depressant? I am a depressed person and I sense you are struggling. My doc was very empathetic and prescribed an anti-depressant. That, and counseling, have helped greatly. I'm not through the depression yet, but I'm working on it. I also belong to a depression/anxiety group that meets about twice a month. It's a good support group. Perhaps you can find one in your area. I hope that you will talk to your doctor if you haven't already.
      In the meantime- read Chinook and Beach Girl's replies again. You'll see the three of us are on the same page.
      1. Take care of yourself. Put your self first for now.
      2. Keep at counseling.
      3. You are enough. You are worthy.
      4. As soon as you can- you have to find the strength, I know...and that can take a while...be sure to consult a lawyer to be sure of your rights and to take care of your finances. (This also falls under #1- take care of yourself) The lawyer can also give you advice about being in an emotionally abusive relationship and what your options are.
      5. See a medical professional if you haven't to be evaluated for depression.

      Keep checking in with this group. I can;' tell you how many times I've reduced my anxiety by just reading the conversations here.
      You are not alone.
      Everyone on this blog is here for you. I never would have gotten as far as I have without this wonderful group of women. Let us know how you are.

    3. I really do appreciate your advice. I have been to my doctor.
      I got enormous support whilst I nursed my mum and dad at home.
      I had been under an enormous pressure day and night .
      My doctors helped in every way I asked.
      My husband supported me by not making it more difficult his words)
      When the end was near and I was frightened staying alone at night he moved in too. I know he loved my mum and dad as we had a happy close relationship with them.
      mum knew he was having an affair before I spotted it.
      She warned me. Sadly I couldn't accept it.
      On the day it came out so publicly( I was waiting for him to come home from work!!!
      OW rang him and me at the same time .God knows how.
      Yet I answered my phone and heard HER ,then Him replying
      it was terrible as I collapsed and the family put speaker on
      I cannot forgive my sisters just now because they vented their feelings violently at me as mum was dying.
      She tried to defend me saying that he was wrong to hurt me but it was not their business .
      I had asked mum give him a chance to redeem himself. God love her she did.
      My father had dementia so never really understood ,he said my H was the son he never had.
      I have been given depression meds and paid for counselling
      The first referred me to a specialist because I was losing so much weight and my hair fell out.
      She was wonderful just said I needed better than her.
      The 2nd was not so good(in my opinion) she goaded me to make me angry, said I couldn't heal until I did get furious at the way my husband was behaving.
      I was trying so hard to be as young looking as slim as adventurous and as much fun in bed.
      I did it all wrong so now I have you lot to listen too .
      I am sorry if I forget to say some things you ask . my feelings are raw and I need a cuddle
      I have 2 children in their late 40s
      they have lives and families of their own.
      I would like to get through this with less embarrassment
      OH the last counsellor was not a good mix
      I will try again as soon as I feel well enough

    4. Anon, I am sorry you are here and dealing with everything. It is the hardest thing I have gone through. After everything I have been through what has helped me is focusing on the present and what I can control. I can only control me. I found a therapist that specializes in betrayal. Everything in the practice revolves around that and my therapist had a lot of experience. I went alone and for me it was the best thing ever. It was the support I needed since I have told no one. Also I was able to bounce things off of my therapist and my therapist would push me when I was unsure in the right direction. I have spent a lot of time since dday thinking about what I want. Again I cannot control anything my husband did. But I can sit down and figure out what I need today. I set very specific boundaries and expectations. I communicated those with my husband. As my therapist said he was given every freedom in the world and all of my trust, but he threw it all away. Now it is what I want and need. It was up to him if he wanted to commit to work at this and follow my boundaries and expectations. As time went on it became more of a two way street. But that took a lot of time and hard work on his part. We are all working and navigating this. I find it to be somewhat of a roller coaster. I try to appreciate the present, not focus on the past or worry about the future. I spend a lot of time still thinking about what I need and want in my marriage. After going through betrayal I decided early on I was not staying just because he does not cheat, it needs to be more than that.

  26. Hi everyone,

    First of all sorry for my English, I am not a native speaker.

    It has been some years since the last time I posted here. I had been trying to avoid to talk/write/ think about this whole thing, but today I had a need to talk to someone about how I am feeling, but guess? I have nobody whom I can talk with, I don’t know anybody who could really understand my feelings. I think my family forgave my husband very fast, his family I don’t even need to mention that they forgave him I think a week after the D-day but the point is I DIDN’t forgive him! I think about what he has done to me everyday and I hate to be married with a cheater so much!
    My D-day was in April,2015 and sometimes it feels like it was yesterday. He hurt me so much and I can not forgive him because of that.
    I have had severe PTSD and I have been doing the whole treatment with a psychiatrist for almost four years already. Finally since some months I stopped taking medicaments and I feel fine. I learned how to live with my pain and I have now many happy moments, but I always think about the day I will be free of this whole pain. I would like to be strong enough to get divorced. I have asked him for the divorce many times in the last four years and he always tells me that he doesn’t want to lose me that he will fight for me because he loves me so much. When he says it I really want to “kill” him because I don’t understand if he loves me so much like he says, if he wants to be with me, fights for me, how could he has done so much crap to me? Actually he is such a nice person and he was always a good husband and a great father before the D-day and that’s why it hurts the most because it was so hard to believe that this very calm, quiet and lovely man has done so many terrible things to me. I was really living in a fantasy word!
    I depend on him financially and emotionally. I am far away from my country (because of him) since 2005 . We live in Germany and here unfortunately the law is not so fair for the partner. I work part time and we have two kids (9 and 12). With what I am earning I can not support myself and the kids. And what he is suppose to give to us according the lawyer it is going to be tight. He earns a good money and we have a good life. I am so afraid that something is lacking for my kids and for me. Specially if he finds another woman and have another kid. Men can be really mean! I know a lot of sad stories from some friends/colleagues here in Germany and when I think to go through that I am getting really scared.I have been suffering a lo. I think I just don´t want to suffer more and so I live in a limbo. Plus to get divorce here is around 5.000€ at least. I don’t have this money and because he doesn’t want to get divorce I always think how I would afford it.
    He says everyday that he loves me, he is kind and sweet. He gives me so much attention and love but I can not forgive him. He wants to have sex almost everyday. He means I make him so horny. Sometimes I have physical needs for sex and that’s why we have sex but many times I feel like sad after the sex. While we have sex I think about him with the OW and it is terrible.
    I have been trying so hard to forgive him but I am not able to. I am so sad that it happened to me. I wish I could forgive him and live happy. I am just thinking everyday if I will be this way forever. I am 38 years old and I have no clue what to do!


  27. A local media outlet in my town wants listeners to call in and talk about why they are happy. I want to call and tell them that 4 and a half years after my partner's affair with one of their reporters, I am finally through the depression and anxiety that came with pulling my life together -- and I am happy again. Seriously -- the dark cloud that I thought would never lift has gone. It's not perfect - I react in ways I would have never expected to his mentions of certain women he comes into contact with, and I HATE when I hear her on the radio -- but he's finally developing empathy -- something I now realize he never had. Keep talking, Rafa, keep thinking, keep reading and for me -- writing about it helped. Much love --

    1. Anonymous, sometimes, in situations like those, when I can't *actually* do the thing I want, I call on magical realism to make me feel like it really happened, and happened exactly the way I wanted to.

      For example:

      Remember that time when that local media outlet was doing a call-in show, asking listeners to describe why they are happy?

      I remember that day so clearly. That was the day that every single one of us -- all the Betrayed Wives all over the world, were listening to the same call-in show at the exact same time.

      We were listening to it as we drove our kids to school. We were listening to it as we folded laundry. We were listening as we chopped vegetables or ran on the treadmill or managed spreadsheets or shoveled snow or drove to the coast to go surfing... We were all listening... and then we all heard your voice come on the radio as you told your story.

      Remember how riveted we all were as we heard you describe what you'd been through? At first, we couldn't believe it. Was she ACTUALLY doing this? Was she ACTUALLY being so ballsy? We turned the volume up. We told anyone present to hush. And we listened to your incredibly captivating voice -- the joy in it! The happiness! We could feel it all the way to where we were, all over the world. Our laundry fell out of our hands. We found ourselves pulling our cars to the side of the road and pausing the treadmill in order to give you our whole focus.

      And then -- it cracks me up just to think of it -- remember that incredibly awkward pause from the radio host as they realized that the other woman was actually someone AT THEIR NETWORK? Remember how they stammered and faltered? It made you seem even more secure and resilient and beautiful in comparison. And then you delivered that awesome last zinger?

      Remember how all of us Betrayed Wives all over the world whooped with delight at that moment, pumped our fists in the air, applauded with gusto, and told the people near us: "Did you hear that?! I *know* her!"

      That was a good day, Anonymous. That was the day you told the world that you have a deep, enviable happiness that comes from within. And that was the day every single one of us here cheered you on and had your back.


    2. PART 1 of 2

      Hello All,

      This is my first time posting but I have enjoyed reading all the stories, support, and advice on this site. Thank you.

      I am feeling stuck in many ways. My partner and I are not married. We had been together for 6 months and were living together when I learned of his infidelity. Up till then our life and relationship had seemed idyllic. We have now been together for another 6 months.
      He cheated in various ways. Courted a girl thru emails that he worked with then slept with her at work function. Kept secret communications going with his ex-girlfriend (of 5 years) whom he was only just grown up with when he and I met. He also had an ongoing sexting relationship. Plus he was still in contact with two women he had cheated on his last partner with. By the way, the ex- girlfriend he was with for 5 years openly but he had actually started an affair with her 2 years prior to his marriage ending. You see his pattern?!
      When I found things out the truth came out so slowly and in fact everything I know about except for one small piece of the puzzle - he only admitted to once I had hard evidence. Therefore I remain convinced there is lots I don’t know which makes it very hard that he won’t come clean.
      When I learned of the whole mess he couldn’t have behaved in anyway to keep me other than the way he did. In other words - the perfect betrayer - if there is such a thing. We went to counseling and he did individual. He was contrite with tears and sincerity and all the right words and emotions. I’ve had full access to all his accounts and devices. After a monstrous time which you all can relate to, I was making baby steps forward. But then something changed and triggered and now I am struggling - but we are half a year past the events and so I find him losing motivation to prove to me he’s changed. I am terrified he is going to do this to me again down the road.
      I have noticed a few tiny slips that on their own mean little but added together along with the fact he seems like he’s just wanting to move forward and I am back to not sleeping at night.
      I’ve laid out my boundaries and he seems to not be as good at meeting them. He looked up a woman he will be working with on FB and then deleted the search. I asked him about it and he denied it, I again had to show him the evidence. (I had a screen shot of the search). Then he gave me resistance as opposed to turning into the guy who would do anything to fix this.
      We have also been recently in close proximity to some of his past affair partners even though he wasn’t with me when he was with them. He was cheating on other women in his life.
      It’s the small things, (I don’t actually think he is cheating now and my instincts lead me to discover his indirectly so I trust in them) that make me think he will cheat again.

    3. PART 2 of 2

      So I’m torn: is it that he really has never come clean with all the info and these little slips and most importantly NEVER been able to give me an answer to WHY he cheated. He always says i was ina darknplace. I was in a lot of pain. That’s it!! No real answer and no correction or therapy to heal so that dark place doesn’t resurface!! He never dealt with it. The other women he was with - all his friends and family hated- so there was some suspicion he was cheating but they kinda didn’t care and felt like they understood it. But with me it was all love and rainbows and fairy tales (okay not exactly but honestly very good) so cheating on me makes no sense to anyone (small circle) that knows. Which makes me think he is just a serial cheater no matter the circumstances.
      OR is the truth that I am stuck and not moving forward because I can’t and haven’t forgiven him. I am still terrified I will get wounded again but so much worse as we will be way deeper in. He has 3 young children whom I love and love me. AND quite frankly that I was loving all the love and attention I was being showered with and felt so secure and important and now that things are settling down I am looking for trouble to stir it back up so I get that kind of attention again? (I am very self aware and have had plenty of individuality therapy to know my desire for love and my attachment issues - so I cannot pretend they don’t play into this.
      I feel confused, and sad, and frankly incapable of solving this because I don’t want to leave him but I can’t aeem to make him understood that my needs in healing this wound are not getting met.
      Any advice is welcome. I know this is a place of no judgement but I feel if I were reading this from another woman I would tell her - this doesn’t sound good. I want to stay I just don’t want him to cheat again. And I know it says here you have to accept things you can’t know.

    4. Anonymous, I think the sad truth is that if he won't do the work of really examining why he cheated -- being in a "dark place" isn't enough. We all end up in "dark places" now and again -- it's too easy for him to fall back into old bad habits. In other words, he needs to really understand how he uses affairs/fantasy/whatever to distract himself from uncomfortable feelings. And then he needs to have a plan for what to do when he's tempted to fall back into those old behaviours. It's not enough for him to simply insist he'll never do it again, he's learned his lesson, blah blah blah. He need to SHOW you, not just tell you, that he's learned from this. He also needs to understand that even the tiniest white lie is going to completely eradicate any trust you two might have rebuilt. Do telling you he didn't do a Facebook search when you can see he has is simply s showing you that he cannot be trusted to tell you the truth. And that's not okay.
      You can't "make" him understand what you need. But you can make clear boundaries (ie. if I discover you have lied to me, you will sleep on the couch, or I will sign a separation agreement, or whatever you choose as a consequence). It's not about punishing him, it's about keeping yourself safe and honouring what you need to feel safe in the relationship.

    5. Thank you Elle for this very helpful and honest advice. I think it's true and what I needed to hear. I really am struggling right now but I try to hide it from him and I'm not sure why. Other than I am not being true to myself and just trying to make him feel like our whole lives aren't about this, but MINE is.
      I'm not sure I could have gone another day without some kind words from someone who understands. I don't have anyone to talk to who can relate so it is very difficult. So again I thank you.

    6. I''m so sorry you feel so alone in this. I did too, which is why I created this blog. The power in the words "me too" can feel immeasurable.
      You're right, your whole life is about this right now...and that's okay. Betrayal is trauma and it takes us a long time to work through it. It can, as crazy as it sounds, be a chance for you two to come together and support each other through this. That does NOT mean managing his behaviour (or vice versa) but rather sharing how difficult this is, practising radical honesty with each other (which includes telling him when you're really struggling) and basically rebuilding your relationship with new rules, that include sharing your shadows with each other.
      It's really hard. And it hurts so much. He needs to know that. And that's also where therapy comes in. He needs to understand just how deeply the wound of betrayal goes. And how unsafe your relationship feels right now for you. He might not ever quite get it (I didn't until it happened to me) but he can try to understand, and it helps to have an objective third party explain it to him. Would you consider couples counselling, with someone who understands infidelity?

    7. Yes we would. We actually did some which was very action based. So giving him tools of how not to get in the situations again. I just think maybe some talk therapy where there's a deeper dive into the why may be in order.
      Your response was so very helpful to me. I feel less alone and your words also inspired me to have a talk with him last evening that I had been putting off and dreading. I think it was a positive moment and I took a good dose of your advice. I will keep plugging along and also keep reading and finding community here.

  28. Chinook! I seriously LOVE this! Such a smile spread over my face as I imagined the beautiful scenario! Such a gift -- THANK YOU! That was indeed a good day!

  29. I'm sorry I'm a bit confused. I've never posted on a blog before and I tried yesterday but it doesn't seem to have worked or I'm not sure how long before a post is approved. Are there instructions on this site somewhere. It is important to me to be anonymous but maybe that means I can't post?

    1. I moderate the comments -- almost exclusively because there's a lot of spam and I don't want it filling the comment threads (spell-casters, hackers, etc.). Sometimes when I'm super-busy (ie. lately), it takes a day or two before I have time to click "publish". Keep posting. We're always welcoming to newcomers.

    2. Thank you for the welcome. Think I am figuring it out. Imagine it is hard to keep track of all of this - but good for you for finding a way, you are helping so many - so keep up the kind work you do.

  30. Feeling stuck is where I have been for the past few weeks. Saturday is the anniversary of D-day, two years ago. When I first found out and started reading I read so many books that said it would hurt for at least two years. I thought "two years. I can't hurt like this for two years. I can't stand it." But I stayed, because I wanted to. And I've been doing therapy and he's been doing therapy and we've been doing therapy, and he does everything I ask him to. And now it's been that two years.

    But. Still I feel an itch to check the OWs' (there were six) social media. Still I try to come up with clever responses for them in my head. Still I agonize over every meaningful date (the day he flew out to see one, a week before I got pregnant. The day he came on to another. The day they first had sex).

    I check his phone so much less often, but I did yesterday, and he had a single joking/flirty exchange with a colleague. I freaked out. But this is how people talk to each other. If a single joke and response bothers me-- I don't think I"ll ever be able to avoid being triggered. The other night I came out from brushing my teeth and I couldn't find him, and I became convinced that he was out somewhere texting someone (he was in with our sleeping kids). My paranoia is still here, two years later. My anger and my pain and my inability to reconcile this behavior with the man I married is all still here.

    I read a scary story the other night and tried to hold his hand for comfort and I just didn't feel comforted. I don't find safety in him anymore. I suppose I may never again (?) and that was such a primary aspect of what I always wanted in romantic relationships.

    I may be staying for the kids and if I am I don't know what that means. I may be staying because I love him, I thought I was, but I'm getting less and less sure as those feelings get further and further away. But I'm stuck. Two small kids and a reluctance to be a single mom. Uncertain of myself. And not even sure if I want to leave or not. Except that I miss feeling in love, and happy, and safe.

    We've come such a long way from two years ago, but the pain is *still here* and in some ways worse. Sometimes you don't realize how much something hurts until the shock has passed.

    1. Anonymous,
      Yes, many of the experts say two TO FIVE years to get over infidelity. And yes, I know that feels like an eternity. At two years, I was just functional. I could work. I was raising my kids. I didn't cry all the time. But I had accepted that I was never going to be truly happy, that I was sacrificing my joy in order to give my three kids a stable childhood.
      Fast forward to now -- more than 12 years later -- and I love my life WITH my husband.
      It took a lot longer than two years to feel well and truly past it. Much closer to five years. I had to do EMDR therapy to move me past the PTSD, which it sounds like you have -- the hyper-vigilance, the anxiety, the panic, the lack of safety.
      I had to fall in love with my husband again, based on seeing how hard he was working to become a better man, a better husband. And, frankly, it might have gone the other way. If he hadn't stepped up, or if I hadn't found myself falling in love with him again, we might not still be together. Which is why it's important to recognize that choices you make now (to stay, whether for kids' sake, financial reasons, or because you think he's got merit) aren't necessarily choices you will make 2, 5, 20 years down the road. And that's okay.
      Finally, Anonymous, I will note that anti-versary dates are always hard. Even if we're only somewhat conscious of the timing, they affect us, creating something of a crisis around where we thought we'd be at this point, where we were a year ago, etc. Dates are arbitrary. Nothing magical happens at exactly 2 years, or 4 years or whatever. But time, along with working on healing ourselves, taking steps to manage the really hard stuff (ie. post-trauma) will move you forward. And the day will come, I promise, when you will look back and realize that you're through it, that you've come to a place where life is good because you made sure it would be.

    2. Thank you Elle. I needed those words this morning.

    3. I actually needed to hear those words, too. Thanks, Elle.

  31. I am 4 and a half years out, and I remember the day last August when I realized that I was finally happy. I'm also very aware that there are still moments when the trauma of what happened slams me between the eyes. Often it's very unexpected, and I'm beginning to connect those moments to my husband's stunning lack of natural empathy. He understands it after the fact when I explain -- but empathy isn't a natural place for him -- likely how we ended up where we were.

    1. I'm glad to hear that you're, generally, feeling happy. But yes, those moments can still slam us.

  32. I've stalked this site for several days now, as a means to validate my feelings, thoughts, actions, and behaviors are real. I struggle with the thought of going back into my marriage. I know I have PTSD as it takes my breath to even talk about re-entering my marriage. I can't stop replaying the trips, the texts, the twitter feeds, the recordings. I hear and see them all. I have flashbacks every time he says I love you. I just want to see you smile. I love hard. Really hard. and he mishandled me, so many times.

    I am beyond hurt, numb, angry, over-it but there's a glimmer of love there. Although it's there: trust,security, stability, peace, safety are not. These are important to me. I think I stayed so long trying to figure out whether he really had a disorder. I also prayed that the last time would really be the last time. There has been so many lies, deceit, manipulation, to cover his tracks. So many dates and sexual encounters that I can't even keep count. For years, he told people we were separated to get dates and talk to people online. For years, he went on dates behind my back with people in the same town or exes. For years, he slept around even giving me STDs and the latest encounter was filled and fueled with so much disrespect. I gave him an out, an opportunity to walk away and he didn't. He chose himself. Her. NOT ME. NOT OUR MARRIAGE. AND I CANT GET OVER THAT.

    Now that I've walked away (we've been separated for 7 months and I filed for divorce) he wants to do whatever it takes to fix the marriage. Why now? I gave multiple opportunities while we were in the home together and he was never interested always finding ways to leave home and be with other women then coming back in and laying with me as if I'd never notice. The last affair lasted almost a year. She was bold enough to speak to me and I shared the conversation with my husband. He never let on that he was being intimate with her. I was never the wiser until I found cash-apps, then recognized the numbers assigned to her were under male names, he started finding "work-related" reasons to leave home for a few days every other week. All while complaining that I was never available and too busy. Now, he claims he lost himself (the affair started after his dad passed and I left for military duty.)He was vulnerable. He had to work on himself. He had childhood hurts he was carrying around. All are reasons he gives as to why he wasn't faithful in our marriage. It damaged me. Although I love him, I don't know if I have the energy to try it again and give him one more chance. He tries to cook and invite me over, send roses to my house.BUT.... I'm highly skeptical if he can change. If I do give him another chance, what boundaries do I enforce. I really want to run away and disappear. I was so nice and kind, now I'm lost.

    1. I'm so sorry. It's exhausting. Emotionally and physically. You have been through hell. And, honestly, you don't owe him anything. You also don't have to make a final decision right now. If you want to press pause on the divorce, then you can do that. If you're done and ready to move forward with it, that's fine too. The tagline of this site is "My heartbreak, my rules." You get to move forward on whatever path feels right for you.
      For whatever reason he cheated, it's on him to figure out. And I hope he will, even if it doesn't win you back. People can change but they have to work really hard at it. Boundaries are what you put into place in order to remain in a relationship with him. Whatever you need to feel safe. No private conversations with women, no web chats, etc. Boundaries are just the word we put toward what is okay with you vs. what is not okay with you. Is he in therapy? Does he have someone (in a 12-step group for instance, or a friend) holding him accountable for his actions. You don't want to put yourself in a position where you're policing him. He needs to do that.
      What I said to my husband, when I learned of the zillion affairs/encounters/etc, was that I would be his friend as he got well. That was all I could promise. And then, as I watched him work so hard to become a better person, to understand why he risked what mattered for people who didn't, I began to respect him again. And, with time, to trust him again.
      Your choice. If you're done, nobody can fault you for walking away. If you're not, your choice too.

  33. Anon 15/6
    They will use every excuse in the book...and then make up some more.
    He's had ample opportunity to reform and hasn't until now when YOU have some control by filing for divorce.
    Is he setting you up for more heartache, by trying to woo you back? Is it genuine, or is it him losing control of having you there for him?
    You still are unsure, and that is a sign perhaps to stay separated a bit longer, to sort you out.
    Do you have children? If not, can you go away and work somewhere else, have a bit of a change.
    As for boundaries - my ex didn't stick to any of them. When we separated, he wanted to come back to the marriage, so the boundaries I put in place were
    make me a priority
    treat me with respect
    be transparent - phones, emails, finances
    go to couples therapy
    He couldn't do any of those things, and I would not budge on my boundaries - so he left.
    Remember you deserve respect and honesty.
    Good luck and let us know how you go
    Gabby xo

  34. Hi everyone,

    Apologies in advance if this has been covered, but i have a question on being stuck. Im hoping you wonderful people can help!
    Im 4 months in to finding out that my husband of 11 years (partner for 20) slept with a work colleague 8 years ago. He told me during lock down, so there was bugger all i could do about it really. Nowhere to go, no plane to jump on. You know the drill.
    For a number of reasons, we are still together and working towards something different. Im not committed to this, but I have at least decided to try as I really do see the possibility of a much brighter future, If i can just get passed it, and this is where im stuck.

    We were the family that everyone thought was perfect. We werent of course, but in my opinion we were pretty close. The knowledge of what he has done- the lies, deceit, betrayal and complete and utter debilitating disappointment is more than I can bare on some days. But...on good days it does feel like something has been lifted out of the way, something I didnt even know was there (lies and treachery perhaps :)). So anyway, this is what has led me to believe in a better and more honest future. A new relationship. We slept together 2 weeks after DDay. The most intense and unexpected experience, which has continued since. But over the last couple of weeks I have felt myself pulling back. I dont want to be hugged, or touched. Im not really interested in what he has to say. If he disagrees with me or gets annoyed by something I say, the response in me is overwhelming. It feels like a rejection. He may as well be packing his bags and walking out the door for the response it generates. Ultimately I feel like im pulling away from him and moving forward alone. Does this make sense?

    I suppose what im asking is, is this normal? Does this perhaps mean that now the shock and fear of loss is over, maybe I dont actually want this man in my future? I know I need to wait it out a little longer but i really do feel stagnant and would appreciate any feedback, and if anyone else has felt this and found things which help?
    We have both had individual counselling and are now speaking with a couples therapist. So one thing ticked!

    1. It's a good question and one that many of us struggle with. What is "normal" after betrayal? And the answer is that...it's pretty much ALL normal. We respond differently but pretty much all of us experience a roller coaster of emotions. We're up, we're down, we're optimistic, we're convinced it's over. You have experienced a profound betrayal. We cannot underestimate the primal wound of it. Even if it was long ago for him, it is happening now for you. So...be gentle with yourself. Don't take every emotion as THE way you're going to feel forever. Accept the roller coaster ride knowing that it won't last forever. You might also want to stick with individual counselling a bit longer in order to process the deep pain and ensure that it doesn't get stored in your brain as trauma. Many of us experience post-trauma symptoms after betrayal -- hypervigilance, anxiety, depression.
      And give yourself time. Most experts say 6 months to a year before making a big decision. Time for the shock to wear off, time to see change in him, time to process this and begin to heal.

  35. Thank you Elle, I think you're right about the individual counselling. I feel so empty and alone at the moment. Everyday is a performance for the sake of our children. A pretty poor performance at that.
    Anyway, thank you for your wisdom

  36. Hello,
    Its been 10 months since I found out about my fiances affair, we have been together 4 years and have 2 kids, and 2 of those years he spent in another relationship with the OW, along with online flirting and dating profiles while working out of state. I had a gut feeling the whole time that he wasn't being true and honest, but could never figure it out until I found it all on his phone. I left for a month and then decided to come back and work on our relationship, not for my kids but because I do love him very much and he seemed/seems genuinely regretful. We have been working on our relationship and I do see a change in him. However I'm at point where I'm questioning if I'm happy in this relationship with him or if I'm just happy because my family is together. I've been trying to figure out if I'll ever forgive him, be able to trust him, or be fully happy. I guess what my question is, how do you know? How do you figure all of these feelings out and what to do about it?

    1. Most experts recommend six months to a year before making any big decisions. The reasoning is that it takes us time to absorb what's happened, to process the pain of it, and then to respond from a place of what we want rather than what we want to avoid. You ask, "how do you know?" I didn't know. I'm not sure any of us "know". If anything, betrayal has made it clear that what we thought we could predict was a fantasy. And so...I take it day by day, which has helped me not only in my marriage but in everything. It's really just about being conscious of something we weren't conscious about before: The each of us makes a choice each day about how to live that day. And we do that every single day of our lives. If we get to a point where the number of days in which we want something different grows long, then we might choose differently.
      I would urge you to give yourself time to process this. And then to take each day as it comes. Create clear boundaries and make sure you enforce them. Watch the work he does and the impact it has on him and your marriage. You can change your mind at any point. You can walk away, no matter whether you've chosen to stay "today". We want answers. We want safety. We want to know that we're doing the "right" thing. But there is no "right" except for what feels right for you. Today.

  37. I don’t even know where to begin. D-Day for me was a little more than 2 months ago. I have tried my best to what I can to work through this I just can’t seem to keep the bad thoughts from coming into my head. He says and does all the right things but he also did for the 3 years the affair went on. How can I believe him this time? I just can’t put my finger on why I feel this way other than horrible nightmares I have. I cry at least once a day if not more. I feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. We have a HS senior and I just feel like when he’s gone so will my husband. I do love my husband; just not sure I can continue this way. Part of me says ride it out and see what happens. That it can’t be any worse than what I’m going through now. This just sucks (as you all know).

    1. Hurting,
      Yes, we do know. And I'm so sorry you're in this boat with us.
      I will say that two months is still very very raw. If you don't know what you want to do right now then...rest. There is nothing wrong with giving yourself the time you need to make a choice that feels right. Or more right than the other choice.
      In the meantime, set clear boundaries around what is and is not okay with you. "My heartbreak, my rules" is our motto, which pretty much means you get to decide what's required in order for you to consider reconciliation.
      But mostly, right now is about focusing on your healing, which can mean doing little more than getting through the day. It takes time to process such pain. If you don't have a therapist, I would urge you to find someone who can help you.
      And I hope you'll keep reading here. There's much information and incredible women who've been where you are and can light the way forward.

  38. Crashing and burning. Married for 37 years and we are almost 6 years after D-day. We have been in a good place for most of the last 3 years (mostly due to the wise advice of the people on this site) -- but I am struggling with a couple of relationships my husband has been having with women related to his business for the last 18 months -- and I am exhausted and feeling worn out by them. The first was with a young woman (in her 20s) he was very excited to work with because she was an artist. I picked up on the same excitement he showed at the time of his affair. He became - to my mind - overly involved with her, driving her home, meeting her mother, going to lunches. She had a difficult relationship with her father, and he said he felt sorry for her. I had a meltdown and he stopped contact with her. The next one was a late 30s woman who was having marital challenges. They spoke and texted daily over about a six-month period, often on the phone for half an hour to an hour. She knew all about his affair, and when I finally met her, the pity she had in her eyes for me - unforgettable. In December I told him I thought that they were overly intimate and intense for business colleagues. He didn't agree, but cooled the relationship for my sake. The latest is another 20 something that he is mentoring - daily. They meet for 20 minutes to an hour every day and text and call. I feel worn out by addressing the same theme again and again -- and today I thought we might finally have reached the end of the road. I have an appointment with a counsellor - I feel like I might be losing the plot and I need to know if I'm being unreasonable. I am feeling stuck again!

    1. Sorry Anon but I am just reading this now. Been where you are. Boundaries is where you need to be right now and forever. Your husband should not be partaking in any of the things you describe, ever. If you are still here, find a good counselor and read all about boundaries because your husband clearly has none and you do not matter to him because you don't have clear boundaries. I've been married over 40 years and found out about my husbands secret live in 2015. We are together and I have boundaries and he knows exactly what they are. Elle has written here, "If my husband cheats on me again I know he has chosen to leave the marriage." That is a clear boundary. Learn more, set them firmly and look at yourself in the mirror to say, "You deserve the best" and he is not giving that to you. Warm Regards.

    2. Thank you Beach Girl! Counsellor and reading more about boundaries have been helpful -- and your reminder that I deserve better -- I'm a bit amazed that 6 years on and we are still picking up pieces of this!

    3. Still working on this... and I am becoming increasingly aware of the complete immaturity of my husband. It's like we have been kind of asleep for 6 years, and we have woken up, and I am a grown up and he is a teenager. I am watching in awe. How have I missed this???

    4. FINALLY! I asked my husband to listen to Idit Sharoni's podcast - Episode 70 - Intrusive thoughts after Infidelity: How to Help Your Partner Get Past Infidelity PTSD Triggers. He has finally caught on to the idea of helping ME heal. Instead of fighting with me over his desire for contact with these women, he has aligned with me -- at least for the last 2 weeks -- I think we are finally getting there -- I hope...

  39. 2 weeks since d day and I just can't seem to function or shake this gut wrenching physical pain. I literally feel broken. Been with hubby 21 years, and found out he's been sleeping with a work colleague since the beginning of November. He told me in October that he didn't think we were the same, and things can get a bit boring after 21 years. So I tried my all, as much as I could during a pandemic and 3 kids at home all day. He just wasn't responding, and I talked to him and questioned him was there someone else, which he denied. He basically knew I trusted his friendship with this girl and used her as a decoy whenever I got suspicious about something. I decided I needed to know the truth so I put a voice recorder in our car and captured their telephone call. He begged, cried, sobbed, pleaded and told me the whole truth...but I just don't don't if I can trust him again. I'm not convinced I will ever be enough to keep him happy. How can someone who is your whole world treat you like you mean so little to them?

  40. I am 3 1/2 years past d-day. Our situation is different from a typical d-day. (I realize everyone probably thinks that.) I trusted my husband 100%, so when I started receiving emails and other messages that he was cheating I didn't take them very seriously. I thought I had a stalker. My husband and I even talked about who it could possibly be. With each message we pondered who could want to hurt us this way. This went on for at least a year and a half, when I finally (with his blessing) called the police to figure out who my stalker was. Needless to say the truth finally came out. My husband had stopped the affair, which made his AP very angry, so she decided to taunt me. He says he didn't know how to stop her and thought she would eventually give up. He didn't want to be the one to blow up my world. The problem now, beyond dealing with the cheating and lying, is that I trusted him completely. I believed every lie he told me. He is a good man. My family adores him. Our kids and grandkids adore him. His co-workers respect him. He's reliable, considerate, kind - everything you would want in a husband. Except he was very confused for a very long time.
    Now, I don't know how to trust myself any longer. I was so completely wrong. Wrong in my assessment of who he was. Wrong to trust him. Wrong to stand by him when the messages were telling me not to. Now, I doubt everything and that is ruining our relationship much more than any affair ever could. Our adult kids are partially aware of all of this because they were trying to help me identify my stalker. I feel now that if I leave my marriage they will hold me responsible for tearing apart our family. If I stay in my marriage, I fear I will never be at peace. Strangely, I still love my husband very much, still believe he is a good man with a kind heart. I am a wreck and have no idea what to do. He wants to help but I don't even know what I need from him. Ugh. This is a terrible way to live. It feels very much like everyone else has moved on from this terrible, life altering event except me.

    1. This could be me writing this letter. Except for the stalking part. I’m still trying to find my peace. I don’t know if I ever will. The OW won’t give me the answers I rightly deserve. ( in my case it was an emotional affair)

      I love my husband but his actions have caused me not to be in love with him. Maybe it will come back.

  41. I am just shy of 2 mos from D-day and still cycling through the grief stages (anger, sadness and bargaining with so many what if's and if only's). I had a couple of good days last week but then crashed again and am falling behind in work (which had always brought me so much joy and satisfaction). My h is full of remorse and doing the hard work and we are in IC and MC but there is a lingering feeling that I can never forgive him. I will have to accept what happened and I want to work on forgiving myself but why should I forgive him? It was more of an emotional affair with a friend and one attempt at sex with no cuddling and little foreplay and he lost his erection during intercourse (likely due to his subconscious guilt and realization this was not who he wanted to be, etc) but he lied to me (indirectly at first and later directly until I had the text msg evidence) about it for close to 2 years. I know we need to bury our old relationship and he's being incredibly supportive - if he were a jerk I'd be out in a minute - but I am still so angry. He knew I placed a high premium on honesty. I spent a night with someone 15 yrs ago but knew I couldn't have sex as that would be unforgivable. I knew I was mad at him for being snippy and disrespectful. I told him immediately about it. Now he went and did the forgivable to me. We did MC back then but slipped into patterns of poor communication and started moving in parallel lives in the last couple of years. I was happy with my parallel life in many ways but also knew our marriage wasn't great. I had to work long hours (since I work in healthcare) due to the pandemic and thought we could focus on us on the other side of it. He was depressed and withdrawn. He just needed to wait. We had started to rebuild (beautifully even) when this all came out. I know I am not responsible for his actions. We had not been in a great place back then but he CHOSE do this. He could have done a hundred other things to cry for attention and he did the one thing that hurt me the most. He chose my kryptonite. I know I have to accept this (it did happen) but I feel forgiving him would provide some validation, as if yes it was ok, yes it was a "good" thing - no it was not and will never be and I would have chosen to rebuild us without all this trauma that has taken years off my life. Can we rebuild if I accept this and forgive myself but not him? Yes I still want to punish him, that's my anger. But mostly I want to love myself again. Can I do that if accept him and try to rebuild? It is hard not to feel like a patsy or doormat or that I have to do all the work (again) - yes he's doing his hard work but that's because he CHOSE to do this. It wasn't a horrible diagnosis or sudden death that is causing me grief. It is HIS CHOICE. So yes today I am feeling really stuck and not wanting to let him in or near me. If I do love myself and feel confident and strong again, do I need the grief he caused and will I heal more completely away from him? So much hard work ahead either way and I would have loved to have been able to focus on rebuilding without this deep, potentially unforgivable wound.

    1. I'm so sorry for the pain you're in. And though I can't answer your questions, you will be able to with time. Two months is the blink of an eye in terms of healing from infidelity. Most experts suggest not making major decisions until at least six months. Often, we're in shock. And we want to make a choice rather than react out of fear or anger. Work through your feelings until you can get to a place that feels more solid. And then ask yourself these questions. But yes, I think working on you and restoring your own sense of self is absolutely the right place to start. Let him do his own work and then see if he's learning and growing and becoming the man you deserve.

  42. Thanks Elle - your words of encouragement really help, especially as I know you have been here and survived. Catching glimpses of being on the other side is like a lifeboat in a sea of anger, sadness and hurt. I am working on my healing and so thankful to have a great therapist to help me (shout out for excellent therapists). We had started to do some really good work and I was feeling so healthy and strong and now it seems as if dealing with this trauma has set me back. But I ready your and others' words and am reminded I am worth it. And I am fortunate that my husband is doing his own hard work. I can see that and feel that. He has made it clear that the focus is on my healing and supporting me in that, and he has accepted my angry outbursts, my harsh lashing out at him, and my times of deep sadness and withdrawal with patience and love and (continued) apologies and regret for his horrible decision to try one unsatisfying, incomplete (bland and icky in his words - sorry but those negative qualifiers help in my vulnerable place) sex encounter. He holds me while I sob, and one night I even held him while he sobbed over how he almost lost us, and feeling unworthy of my love and our future happiness. I am healing but still not yet (like another post said) and will be stronger in spite of this (I refuse to say "because of" since that seems to imply we "needed" this to reset - we were rebuilding before I even knew this had happened more than a year ago - if anything this has set us way back and threatened it all). Thank you for encouraging patience in this healing process too. I know I need more time and appreciate your reminding me to take it. That I am worth it.

    1. I.am.enough,
      You are doing so great. Yes, patience. And yes, compassion, for you and for him. You'll get there. I promise.

  43. Hi everyone and Elle!
    I’m not sure this will be seen, but ‘Being Stuck’ is just about the right way to explain where I am today. For those of you who remember, I found out that my husband/best friend/best dad/best husband was sleeping around with prostitutes, going to massage parlours, finding women online for close to 5 years all while we were building our family of 2 young kids. Needless to say my world was completely shattered but I chose to stay(money/kids/lifestyle) and he worked hard at making us stay(sex addiction support groups/therapy etc).
    I’m now at over 2 years since D-day( never thought I could make it this far), and feel like there is some normalcy in my life. I rarely cry and the flashbacks are less frequent too. Where I’m stuck is that he’s doing everything but I’M STUCK.
    I don’t know how to love this person again. I don’t know how to feel love for him again. I don’t hate him anymore, I feel empathy for him, I love how he pitches in and takes care of the kids with me, but I don’t LOVE him. We’ve had no sex for about 1.5 years now (after the frantic sex we had post discovery) and I don’t know if I ever could. Has anyone faced this? I don’t know how to move forward towards even trying to mend this. The thought of having sex with him makes me flinch.
    I know that if I want to give this a shot I have to try.
    I really dont know what to do anymore and it’s not like I have anyone else to discuss this with. We do see a couple’s therapist on and off but as always I value what you have to say much more!
    Thankyou x

  44. Dear N.....I am not in your shoes but if you like, here is my two cents.....firstly....the post-discovery-frantic-sex, according to some research I have done, is normal....it is called 'mating'....in the animal kingdom, animals do this to re-establish a type of bond and status-position in their group of fellow animals....not a status, like 'hey look at us, we are the best couple ever!' but a type of primal status that brings about a sense of 'normalcy', and that everything can move forward in some way...I have seen friends go through this, and I went through it with my H after discovering his lap-dancers/etc etc. He and I had passionate s*x for the next three days (not right after my discovery, but about a month later) and then for the next four years the s*x was lame, soooo lame and then non-existant...because he took on a mistress and god knows how many hookers and whatever. And during that time, unknown to me, he gave me a life-long STD. You are not in love with your H and you do not love him. So let your body and heart speak. If your body flinches, LISTEN!!!!! It is not your job to lust after your H, he ruined that. Please do not engage in something you are uncomfortable with, because that is non-consensual on your part. I'm sorry to say, but I have yet to meet a man that go any length of time without sex. 1 1/2 years for your H to not have sex probably feels like eternity. Or something like that. And then what. What will he do next? If this resonates with you, thank-you for reading. If it doesn't, forget about my two cents! But PLEASE listen to and respect your body. The two of you may need to redefine your relationship, again, and become platonic parents at best. If this is feasible, then why not? A friend of mine ended up having this scenario with her H and two young kids, but after five years my friend walked, she didn't want her kids raised in a stilted atmosphere and seeing parents that didn't love each other. Please be well and embrace what brings you joy + a feeling of contentedness :-)



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