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How to get to the happily ever after part, anyone???

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Patchy posted 5/10/2013 18:52 PM

Hi guys. I'm new here. I've been married for close to 22 years now. It's been 9 1/2 months since my "first" D-day, and 4 1/2 since the second . . . the day I found out it never really ended.

After he first told me in July I was shocked beyond belief and it hurt so bad. I forgave him almost immediately, knowing there were things on my part that I'd been trying to "fix" for some time. Knowing how he needed more from me, etc. While he took full responsibility and said it wasn't my fault, it was actually mentally helpful for me to put things in perspective by thinking about my part in what lead him to this. I would have preferred he would have fought for our marriage by insisting on counseling or at least "telling" me about his thoughts of divorce after the kids graduated high school, but he didn't and I had absolutely no clue things were as bad for him as they were.

At any rate, for the next five months I poured myself into him and our marriage. I truly loved him more than I ever had and showed him every way I could. He revealed that while he loved me, he was not "in love" with me anymore. As much as it hurt, I just trusted that eventually he would as I gave him all the things I knew he'd been needing from me.

And then on Christmas night, I found out he'd been seeing her during most of that time. I call it the "second round" and in many ways it hurts so much more than the first. He saw the pain I was in, the tears, the hiding in the closet to cry, or my car in the garage so I could just let it out without having to put him through the pain of seeing me cry yet again. (He saw plenty of times.) I was loving him with everything in me and had forgiven him. So during all that time he's consoling me when I'm in tears, hearing how much I love him in the midst of my pain, and then turning around and private messaging her on his fake facebook account and setting up their next time to meet. (Well, in my mind that's how it was.)

Since he told me at Christmas (it happened on that day cause her husband found out and was trying to get a hold of me) . . . my husband has been a whole new person. He figured out how to truly let her go and resolved to figure out how to love me again. And he has gone above and beyond showing me how much he loves me, how much he needs me, doesn't want her, no longer gets upset when he sees me snooping around on his phone or computer, etc. It's very real and I trust it's truly over with her. I know we are going to be okay, and probably better than we ever have been.

However . . . obviously there is still a lot of pain. I know it takes time. Time and talking, according to the counselor we saw. I am trusting that some day all the triggers won't send me to tears, that I'll be able to remember how he betrayed me and not fall apart. That I'll be able to kiss him and not feel his lips on hers and see them together. That I won't be able to hear him say "I love you" to her, which I know he did. He says now he realizes he never really loved her and just thought he did. He says he knows now more than ever what real love is because he has it with me and I'm the only woman he's ever really loved. And he was engaged to someone before me, so that's saying a lot and makes me feel great.

Yet it doesn't stop my heart from being pierced when I think of him saying it to her or typing it in a private message. His affair with her was not about sex, it was about the heart. They had a strong bond emotionally and they talked about leaving their spouses for each other.

I know a much older woman who's husband had an affair many years ago. When I asked if it still hurts when she thinks of it, she shrugged it off as if it were nothing. "Oh, no. Not at all."

Really? Can that really happen?

One thing I'm very happy about is we are moving to a new area soon, and the affair is one of the reasons. I'm hoping having less triggers will help with my healing and our happily ever after. But there are still many other triggers. Just the other day he was kissing me (always an issue but I was doing okay). I guess I pulled away and he said, "Is that all I get?" I immediately welled up because those were the very words she said to him when they had gone to a movie early on and he gave her a hug. He worries about everything he says to me that it will trigger something unintentionally. I can't watch TV without a million of them hitting me every time. Sometimes I'm okay and sometimes not.

Okay, so I guess what I'm looking for in this particular post is what most of us are looking for . . . any words of encouragement, hopefully from people who have been there and have experienced at least some, if not complete healing. Are you really able to get on with your life and not have this "thing" looming over you 24/7 taking over your life and your thoughts?

How do you process things in your mind and just "let it go". Just today I found myself going, "I can't believe he did that to me" . . . once again. Thinking mostly of the "second round". How he could see the pain I was in and do that. He says he feels so bad and can't believe he did it and hates himself for it and can't stand to see me in pain. But yet he SAW me in pain during ALL THAT TIME and STILL DID IT!

Ughhhh. I hate how my mind goes round and round. I try to remember different things he has said, how it was an addiction, she was his fix, he wasn't thinking straight, he was rationalizing, he felt pretty hopeless about our marriage and the ability to ever love me again. And yet, wow, look at us now . . how he's loving me amazingly. I'm more in love with him than ever. Why can't I just focus on all that?

Okay, I'm going to just stop now cause I could go on all day.

NoraLee posted 5/10/2013 19:05 PM

I know exactly how youre feeling. The scars of what happened in the past ... The disregard in spite of the pain they caused us... And yes - I give myself the talk - compartmentalization, the fog, the addiction...
I don't have any answers except I'm counting on time and new memories will help the painful ones fade. My mom died from cancer when I was 16. And for a while I couldn't go there without tears and pain. After some time - I found I could talk about her and smile - and now I rarely cry unless I'm holding a pity party. I'm hoping this will happen like that (not the talking about it and smiling) although H and I will occasionally crack a joke about it and we'll have a chuckle...(the joke is usually about his stupidity...)

(((Thinking of you - and knowing I'm not alone)))

Patchy posted 5/10/2013 19:57 PM

Thanks, NoraLee. I have definitely heard how grieving a spouse's affair is similar to grieving a death. I also heard that with losing a house, however, I lost my house of 11 years and, while it was very painful, it didn't come even remotely close to this pain. At any rate, I appreciate your supportive words and its nice to talk to others who are experiencing it as well. I do know that in many ways its easier than it used to be, so I can see the progress. And they say there are highs and lows. It just sucks when those lows come, doesn't it? One of the hard parts of this for me is that while I feel I understand as well as anyone that it's going to take time, and I believe healing "will come" eventually, my husband seems to have a harder time believing this than I do. When he sees me in pain, sometimes something I know will pass and doesn't have to be a big deal, becomes a big deal because he flips out and thinks I must not believe he really loves me or I wouldn't respond that way. Or why don't I just think about him kissing me instead of her when watching two people kiss on TV makes me sad. As if it's just that easy. He doesn't always react negatively, in fact he's more often very supportive and tries to help me through. Yet every time I'm sad it brings back all his guilt and shame and and hurts him, therefore of course he wants me to hurry up and "get over it". He's trying, though. And we've been dealing with huge financial pressures to boot and planning to move. Lots of changes and lots of stress.

We're about to go on a date, though, which was his idea. We haven't been spending money going out much lately, so it will be fun. What's a bummer is that at any moment in the midst of things "going well", it can all change in the blink of an eye and you wonder if the going well part will ever last forever. One day at a time, I suppose. One day at a time.

Thanks again for your reply. Best wishes to you and your recovery as well.

NoraLee posted 5/10/2013 20:14 PM

Having experienced both, I'd have to say infidelity is worse than death. Infidelity is a betrayal, death is a promise. It's the one thing that always keeps its word!

Because (I'm sure like your H) my H has no way to understand what I'm going through because it's never happened to him - I have to tell him what I need. During upswings, I'll mention how much the good days mean to me, but that sad days will still come. I tell H - unless I'm asking questions (which I hardly ever do anymore) I just need you to hold me, reassure me and tell me you love me. I tell him that when I'm having a downswing, and he holds me and says "I'm so lucky you gave me another chance" - that it helps so much. I also told him that unless I suffered a head injury, that the A would be forever a part of our lives - that I'll never be able to forget - now it will become a smaller part of us as time goes by, but it'll always "have happened". I didn't want him to think there'd ever be a time it wouldn't be there. And finally accepting that has helped him deal with my low moments. But as much as I let him see my suffering during the dips, I also show him my appreciation and joy for our new relationship during the highs.

Enjoy date night - that's a new part of our new M and I love how we make each other a priority now!!!

jellybean22 posted 5/10/2013 20:53 PM

I have the same questions. We started to turn things around and were in a really good place for about a month. And then it all hit us over again and it was like D-day had just happened again. And now it's back to being shitty and all that progress we made feels wasted.

I am tired of feeling like this. I hate it. I just want it to all go away. But it's reality and I don't know how/when/if it ever will stop being right there in the forefront of everything.

optimistic1 posted 5/10/2013 23:40 PM

My DH cheated almost 3 years ago. I was 25 and he was 33. We have two kids and I was devastated. the affair lasted about 5 months with months of phone contact after the fact as well which killed me slowly a little bit every single day. I hated her, him and myself all the time. But I was not willing to give up. I believe in marriage and just because he broke his vows didn't mean I was going to break mine. Now almost 3 years later we are good. It took me probably almost two years of him being totally transparent and working to earn my trust back but I trust him again. At the same time I also know and am comfortable in the fact that if it happens again (and I know that is possible)I am done. I will leave and I will not be the one bending over backwards to try again. And it will be his loss, not mine. I love him, and want it to work, and for the life of me I do not fully know why he cheated. However, I have accepted the fact that it was not my fault, I know this for sure. As in most affairs it is something lacking in the cheating spouse, not the betrayed one. It does get better, I am happy and think about it sometimes just in passing, but I'm good. And the whole situation made me a much stronger person. Good luck to you, it will either get better when you work through all the crap or you will decide it's not worth it to you. Either way there is a happy ending after the pain is over. I wish you the best.

NoraLee posted 5/11/2013 02:06 AM

I feel the same optimistic. This is his one kick at the can. I will never go through this again - that's one positive aspect of this.

catlover50 posted 5/11/2013 05:28 AM


It seems all this is very normal. I am over 7 months out and have ridden the roller coaster, plus read of so many here doing the same. It really does seem to take years to get off of it completely.

I have observed that couples in the early months are more surprised and upset by the downturns, somewhat ironically. Our emotions are so intense that when we are up we are way up, feel so in love and hopeful, that the dip feels like a crash. We think, naively, that we are over it (in spite of wise people here on SI cautioning us otherwise!) and it makes it that much harder. After a while I think the ups and downs level out a bit and aren't as surprising. Plus, as I told our MC this week, the overall trajectory continues to be up.

The WS naturally is reluctant to keep having to be reminded of their shame. I have had to tell mine more than once that when I trigger it will last longer if he says anything about not living in the past, look at the present, etc. The fact is, I AM doing that as much as possible, but I have a shitload of past to process and it will take time and support.

My focus now is on changing poor communication skills and his continuing to work on his issues to make sure this "new" M has a very strong foundation.

Peace to us all!

[This message edited by catlover50 at 5:29 AM, May 11th (Saturday)]

doesitgetbetter posted 5/11/2013 11:03 AM

Patchy honey, it's going to be hard but you have to be honest with him. Listen, it's been 5.5 years from DDay for me. My DDay was 2 weeks before Christmas, and the following 3 Christmas's were nightmares. But here's what I've learned.

I had to be honest with my H about each and every one of my triggers. If I didn't tell him when I was triggering, and WHAT was triggering me, then he would never have any idea that I was hurt as deeply as I was and be more determined to never cause this sort of pain again. It seems that may be true in your situation as well as you hid much of your pain from your WH and he wonders when you'll get over it. My H never asked me that, as he saw just how much pain I was in and knew it would take a long time. 2-5 years they say. And another good thing that comes from sharing your triggers, the WS begins to learn what things set you off so they can help during those times. My H knows I'm triggering now before I even do.... granted, I don't trigger hardly often at all anymore, but he knows them so well that he is prepared and aware. This has helped us grow much closer and a deeper level of emotional connection.

Forgiving someone doesn't mean you've given up your right to be hurt about something, or talk about it. Absolutely not! You still have to talk about these things with him, and you still have to grieve over them. If you don't grieve them, then they will rear their ugly heads later on and it will be much more difficult to deal with.

I fear that by taking so much responsibility for his affair, you are taking the blame off of him and he's getting "off the hook" very easily. It's 100% his fault he had an affair. No matter what was going on in your marriage, unless you told him to go have sex with someone else and you now regret it, then it was not your fault at all! By you taking any responsibility for his A, you are not allowing him the opportunity, or desire, to dig deep within himself and find out what was damaged in him that allowed him to break such sacred promises and vows to the person he has given his life to. It's very important for a successful R that the WS does the work on themselves to heal themselves, or they have a very high rate of repeat infidelity in the future. Don't take away his right to be healed by giving much of the responsibility for his poor choices to yourself and the state of the M. Every M has ups and downs, but that doesn't mean it's ok to cheat when it's down.... we'd have a 100% rate of infidelity if that were the case.

I would imagine that the older woman who said "oh no not at all" about having any pain from her H's infidelity has probably rugswept the whole thing and compartmentalized it. Listen, even after decades, the BS's on here say that it still hurts, but it's a dull aching when they think of it, not a sharp knife in the back kind of pain. It will always hurt to think of your spouse betraying you like that, it just will hurt less. Much like a scar is always slightly sensitive to touch even decades after it's healed, it does still feel sensitive when you touch it, that's how infidelity is as well.

Moving to a new area will help with some triggers, but there will still definitely be many triggers remaining. Sadly, no matter where you move, your biggest trigger (the WS) will still be with you. So it's great to have that little boost, but don't be surprised to find that you still trigger. Especially since you're still so early on in this.

And lastly, you can't just "let it go". You have to work through it, process it fully, and move THROUGH it. There is no fast forward button, no magic pill, no quick fix when it comes to healing from infidelity. Sure you can rug sweep and compartmentalize and pretend it never happened, but then you haven't truly healed at all, and it will show up at some point in time later anyway.

Talk with your WH. Let him know when you trigger. Go to counseling together. Let him know just how much this hurts. He would be helped tremendously by getting IC to figure out why he allowed himself to do such a terrible thing. Then you guys can work on the M problems and work towards making that better. There is no "Go straight to GO" card in this game, you have to go through one step at a time in order to really, truly, properly heal from this mess.


Patchy posted 5/12/2013 11:10 AM

Thanks for all your replies. It's so great to hear from several women who have been there, and actually "are".

Noralee - How sad it is that this kind of betrayal is worse than a death, at least for you. I have experience some deaths, but not someone really close to me. However, I see what you're saying as far as a death is something we can all expect that will happen to everyone we know at some point. A betrayal of this level is something we never expect.

I heard about a woman who was in a Natzi concentration camp and experienced horrors we can only imagine and probably worse. When she was released and got married, and her husband later had an affair and left her . . . she says that was the most painful thing that had ever happened to her.

doesitgetbetter - I appreciate your post. I don't take responsibility for his affair. I do take responsibility for things on my part that I know opened the door to his vulnerability, his hopelessness. Things that regardless of how much I tried, I was not able to really do anything about until the affair. Somehow miraculously all those issues went away and he didn't know what to do with it. He didn't trust that it would last.

He takes 100% take responsibility for the affair itself. And believe me, he has seen all my pain and suffering. I'm not sure why I mentioned hiding in the closet or car, because of the handful of times I did that, he found me anyway. The reason I ever hid is because he had seen my anguish so many, many times, and since he works from home and work has been especially slow he's "always" here. While I have cried in front of him a zillion times, sometimes I just wanted to sit in the car and let it out and scream all alone without not only him, but my kids, being affected.

We have worked through a lot of things and we both feel that we understand, as much as anyone can, why he did what he did. And we feel we are both doing all we can to repair and heal.

He has been in more of a funk / depression, the past couple of days over it as he is realizing just how much specific dates on the calendar affect me. And there are so many. He went hiking with her on the 4th of July, one of the first things he secretly did with her. Two days later was our anniversary and the next day he kissed her for the first time. And it was three weeks later that they supposedly ended it and he told me about her. This makes all of July very difficult for me, the days just before our anniversary, our anniversary and the day after most strongly. I've been hoping we could get away for a good long week during that time this year, knowing it's going to be difficult. We had talked about a cruise, but we can't afford it. We are trying to book a hotel for three days and I wanted to go the nights of the 5th, 6th, and 7th. He suggested going a day earlier, the 4th, 5th, and 6th, and when I was pushing for the other dates, without mentioning why, he finally said, "Well, I thought you'd want to be gone on the 4th knowing some of your issues." So I finally said, "Well, the 4th and the 7th are both bad. But I guess if we leave on the 4th and are coming home on the 7th that works too."

He said he didn't even know why the 7th was bad and didn't want to. Only he figured it out and later had a breakdown. We talked and he was just so frustrated at how "dates" affect me and how that's never going to go away. I told him I know it will get better over time, but this first year is going to be the hardest.

For crying out loud, I have the whole season of Christmas to contend with now, since he told me on Christmas day that it had continued. And New Year's Day was messed up the day for reasons I won't get into. So the 4th of July, our anniversary, Christmas, New Years. There aren't many "big days" in the year that aren't affected. Nor are there many areas that aren't, from San Diego to Lake Tahoe, there are triggers in various places for various reasons.

I guess one of my points is I know moving will only do so much in avoiding triggers. But at least I don't have to worry about running into her so much. I don't have to think of her every time I ride my bike, knowing that even while I don't see her, she's riding the same roads. As a cyclist, I ride up to 100 miles from my house, and so does she. I feel her "essence" everywhere. So many of my cyclist friends know her, so I think of her every time I even see a facebook post from one of them. The beautiful mountain view behind my house represents the day they went hiking, as well as the day I picked them up from a big run they did together on a mountain road. Yeah, stupid me for letting my husband run alone with another woman . . . I knew better too, that men and women shouldn't be alone together when married to someone else, but I "trusted" him and didn't want to be the bad guy for taking away his running partner, plus they mostly ran in groups.

Anyway, I'm so happy we are able to move and get away from many of the triggers, even though I know there will still be many present in many other forms. I mentally feel so much better when we're in the area we're moving to. We're going today for Mother's Day to hang out. Yay!!!

Thanks again to everyone for all the posts. They all help.

tired girl posted 5/12/2013 12:06 PM


I am sorry to hear what is going on with you. From what you are describing your H is regretful for what he has done and not yet remorseful. This is why your triggers and pulling back bother him so much and send him into a spiral of shame and guilt. Remorse looks for action to help the spouse out, what can we do to help ease their pain. He is not there yet. When you have pain, he is only looking at the fact that this causes him to have pain and reminds him of what he has done and he doesn't like that. This is not your problem, it is his. Don't take this on.

Printing off some articles from here would be good for him, are you guys reading any books yet? In MC? Or IC for either of you?

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