In general, our R is going well. By his actions, I believe he's remembering why he loved me before his A. Every day, it seems, he shows me how much he's trying. He includes me in parts of his life that he's excluded me from for a couple years pre-A. He seeks out my attention. He's affectionate and loving and, dare I say it (?), sweet.
Problem is, he's not dealing with some of the underlying aspects of his addiction. Since we've been married so long, I can see when he's developing crushes or notices a potential conquest. It reminds me of the behavior of pedophiles (he's NOT that--very normal sexual interests) who "groom" their next victims. That makes it sound extreme. I don't even know if HE notices his behavior, but I do.
Last weekend, we bumped into the mother of one of our son's former teammates. She was watching the same high school scrimmage we were. He stopped to chat with her (I didn't even recognize her but he, naturally, did because she's attractive). It was eye-opening to watch. He wove into the conversation a comment about how pretty she was. He lightly touched her arm to make a point. He was charming.
Last night, while standing around in the kitchen, he read a text on his work phone (his job is classified--I can't touch) and smiled--not the behavior he'd usually exhibit if it was a text from one of the engineers. And if it WAS from one of the engineers, he'd share. But we were doing well, so I asked what made him laugh. He just shook his head. I said, "Really, I'd like to see." He didn't answer. I dropped it because our kids were in the room. But I didn't sleep well last night.
So this morning, at 5:30, I woke him up, told him I'd been up since 2:00 because his refusing to show me the texts/e-mails bothered me. I told him I needed to know who it was. And I waited. It seemed like a long time. He just looked at me, then he mentioned a name.
It wasn't a surprise to me. He had a month-long course with her this summer. They're intellectual equals (I am, too, but not in science). They're co-workers. I KNOW it's not anything more than texting a "friend." Believe me, I knew (during the A and subsequent "episodes") that something was going on--just not what. This time, there's none of that.
He knew it would bother me (which is why he wouldn't show me last night), but he broke no rules because I've set none. When he recommitted to me in January, he said he'd told the OW he'd not be in touch again. He hasn't. So there were no rules to set. This "grooming" thing is different.
I told him I wasn't surprised. I told him we should probably discuss this at length in MC, but, in my opinion, his boundaries with women weren't all that hot. He accepted that good-naturedly. In other words, I didn't put him on the defensive. He was listening. I told him I didn't feel like he should be friends with women. Period. He shouldn't text women from work about anything other than work. He said he'd do that. So I gave him a kiss and told him to get back to sleep.
He's been as loving as ever this morning. We're going on a trip this weekend to take our daughter to college. On the way home (a dozen hours in the car), we can discuss this more in depth. Or we can wait until MC. Definitely, since I'll be dwelling on it (obsessing about it), I'd like to come up with some boundaries for him--ones he can discuss with a CSAT when he starts going. Which he will. That's one I'll insist upon.
Am I way off base here? Is his behavior--what I'm calling "grooming"--really that? What should the boundaries be? What boundaries have you set for yourself (if you're the SA) or for your spouse (if you're the BS)? Anything you can suggest would be appreciated.
[This message edited by RippedSoul at 9:03 AM, August 28th (Wednesday)]
He knew it would bother me (which is why he wouldn't show me last night), but he broke no rules because I've set none.
This stands out as a big issue that he needs to better deal with. Why does involve himself in things that would bother you.
I don't think that this is about setting rules as about a disconnect in what he sees a marriage to be. It doesn't seem to be on the level that you do that your spouse is the priority and than other things fall into their place behind that. His behavior seems to be one of doing what he does and shielding you to not upset you.
Was your husband diagnosed by a CSAT 8 years ago? Has he ever done 12-step group therapy? etc...that, along with IC is absolutely necessary to an addict to not only maintain sobriety but to also truly recover.
I see very red flag addict behaviors. The grooming is frightening.
My husband is just over a year out in his sobriety. He would not talk to a female in that manner, that was behavior that he USED to do and you're right it IS grooming. It was how he gauged if a woman was interested in him and if he could potentially have an affair with them. It is unacceptable now.
We had to set firm boundaries. He went to a 3 day intensive SA workshop, then 3 SA meetings per week, IC and MC. This was NON-negotiable if he wanted to remain in the marriage.
There is no physical contact (even a touch on the arm) with other women. There is no texting with other women, period. There are no personal conversations. With co-workers, it's work talk only. Anything that could lead to "comfortableness" is breaking a boundary and goes against our marriage.
Your husband is skirting a fine line. Sure, he hasn't contacted his prior OW, but he's saying well you didn't tell me not to talk to others. That doesn't fly.
He needs to get into IC (who cares if it's 45 minutes away, seriously) an in a SA support group of some sort. He can not conquer this on his own accord.
Former 80s Icon wishful thinking
My wife has always been the jealous type who refused to accept that I could have a friend who was female. This was a problem for me because throughout highschool, and even now, I have always enjoyed having FRIENDS who "just happen to have vaginas." My wife had a LONG list of woman throughout our time together who she were a problem for her. These were all co-workers or woman I knew who I talked to my wife about. Over time I learned that the best thing to do was just NEVER mention any stories about work that involved a female co-worker and instead I would even sometimes change the person in the story.
The honest truth is that if I were to have an affair with someone at work it would be someone that my wife never knew existed. (I wouldn't, I'm just speaking hypothetically).
Funny thing though... I have always believed that if someone is really uptight about something that it often is because THEY themselves would do it. It turned out my WW screwed around with my BFF so in reality it was her own weakness that she was projecting on me all this time when she got upset about me having female friends.
The first therapist he had suggested that he divorce me since he wasn't getting enough sex. ????? Even he knew deep inside that that wasn't fair or true, so he found another therapist. She was a recovering addict and told him, his first session, that he had issues "up the wazoo," and that he'd never have escaped his family of origin issues without a problem or two. I actually don't know if she was a CSAT; I doubt he does. She had him "sober up" by reading lots of books (always gave him homework) and by having him/us be celibate for 6 months. He seemed to be going in the right direction. He attended a 12-step program and had a sponsor. He also had a psych doc he really liked. Then that doc moved away, he became uncomfortable with his therapist, his sponsor moved, and he eventually stopped attending 12-step programs. For about 3 years, he was recovering.
Then he started sliding. The docs who prescribed his ADs started being a revolving door, moving away, closing their offices, etc. He became more and more disagreeable and less and less helpful. He functioned well at work but not at all at home. I was carrying the full load of 4 children (who are gifted and passionate and demanding) and a part- to full-time job. We grew apart and he became increasingly distant.
When I'd bring up MC, he said only after I'd gone to IC, too, so that he wasn't blamed for everything. I interpreted that to be three years of IC like he'd had (which, I've come to find out, is not what he meant). When he'd brought up MC with his long-term IC, I told him I couldn't (it was mid-day, a 30-minute drive away, and I couldn't carpool our kids if I was gone) at that time, but I could eves. Or morns when the kids were in school. He interpreted that to mean I wasn't interested. He's since learned that that wasn't what I meant at all.
So things just went downhill until everything blew up late last year and early this year. This time, though, my kids are older and I've more time to study and do research and read. I've bought Stephanie Carnes' book "Mending a Shattered Heart." And the "Not Just Friends" book arrived yesterday. As I read, I can tell that he needs to do more. I can tell that he needs to learn boundaries. I can tell that it needs to be someone else who tells him these things--not because he won't listen to me right now but because I don't want to be his mother; I want to be his lover.
You guys have given great advice and given me lots of food for thought. I'll definitely read more on the SA thread (it's SOOOO long), read your blog, Samantha, and set some boundaries using your excellent list as a guide.
MRCPU, I'm really, really not the jealous type. His best friend in high school was a girl and she was one of my bride's maids. Our children call her aunt. She loves him dearly--like a brother--but is DEF in my corner. She doesn't know everything, but she likely suspects some stuff. She's probably the only woman in his life prettier than I am. And I accept it because I can tell that she is no threat to me.
For some reason, I can really tell who he's fixated on (whether they're aware or not), who he's merely being flirtatious with, and who he's seriously grooming. Back when he was in therapy and when he was being honest, he recognized certain people were off limits in his mind--my friends (thankfully, huh?), friends from church--especially if he knew the husbands. He had fantasy affairs with women who were strangers; he had EAs with women he connected with in Step 4--ostensibly to apologize for how he'd treated them in high school. I could always tell and I've never been wrong. He gets "twitterpated" and drops their names a lot--very similar to what our children have done from 5-10th grades when they've got a crush. When they do it, it's cute; when he does, well . . . Before the PA, it was always "here we go again!" in my mind because I never thought--not with his sense of honor--that he'd EVER take it up a step. I knew he had vulnerabilities, but they'd never gone too far before. A year or so ago, the husband of one of his EAs DID call him at work and accuse him of having an affair with his wife . . .
I've asked why these EAs didn't become PAs. He honestly answered that it was probably because of distance. One friend from college still keeps in touch, but she hasn't been pretty in a long time, so she's not in the running. So for him, co-workers really ARE the most dangerous women. He's so successful at work, it's a closed, classified environment (so I'm not allowed there and don't meet the co-workers), I don't know the women, he doesn't know their husbands, lots of travel together. Prime targets.
He definitely understands or accepts only a little bit of his diagnosis. When he talks to me, he believes he's being honest; he's certainly not intentionally lying to me anymore. And because (here's the rationalization) he's in love with me again, he doesn't feel vulnerable to other women so feels like he can have relationships with them.
So definitely S-Anon for me; IC with a CSAT for him (even with the 45-minute drive); boundaries, boundaries, boundaries; a 12-step program/sponsor for him; continued reading for me and a re-start of reading for him. Did I get it all?
Oh! And thank you for the comment that sobriety (his state right now, I think) is not recovery. That's a gem.
[This message edited by RippedSoul at 4:23 PM, August 28th (Wednesday)]
Hang in there. Another GREAT book is "Out of the Shadows" by Patrick Carnes. EXCELLENT for your husband to read. This turned the light on in my husband's eyes and he was able to be more accepting of his addiction.
White knuckling does not work. Well, strike that. It works short term for some people. It also works to lull the partner into thinking that they're looking at recovery. White-knuckling leads to relapse, often a major relapse because of all the underlying issues which have built up because they're not being handled.
Your WS needs to handle his shit. You're enabling him by not setting boundaries & drawing a line in the sand.