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embee posted 10/24/2013 16:52 PM

My husband had a "best friend" that has made me uncomfortable for a long, long time. He assured me many times there was nothing romantic between them, and it seems there wasn't - not in the beginning. Now, I feel like an idiot for not listening to everyone who told me to put a stop to it. For not listening to my gut. I knew what was happening, even before he did, I think.

I really, truly believed it was above board. I trusted him. We were the couple who joked about cheating on each other, because it was so far outside the realm of possibility. Now, everything comes out. He was unhappy, felt unwanted, and sought fulfillment for those needs elsewhere. Granted, unlike her, I don't make long posts on social media talking about how meaningless my life was before I met "my wonderful best friend." I guess he needed that. And instead of telling me, he turned to her.

That was one of the many warning signs I ignored. Her attachment to him that obviously went way, way above and beyond a normal level of friendship. I ignored it. I ignored everything. I kept thinking of that line from the movie That Thing You Do, which always struck me as incredibly corny and badly delivered, but it wouldn't stop running through my head: "shame on me for kissing you with my eyes closed so tight."

I was the “cool wife.” I never had a problem with any of my husband’s female friends, until now. And now, I know why. I was sensing something from the beginning, something he never had with any of his other friends.

Yesterday, the day I found out, I’d been fighting off a mounting sense of dread and horror. He’d invited her over for dinner, and I couldn’t stop crying. I thought I’d come to accept the fact that she was always going to be around, even if she made me horribly uncomfortable. I just didn’t see any other way to deal with the situation. I felt jealous, possessive, crazy, overreactive.

When they went to pick up dinner, I got on his computer and opened Facebook.

It was something I could have done at any time. He’s never made an effort to hide his social media or his phone or anything, which was one of the reasons I trusted him so much. After all, if he was cheating on me, I’d be able to find out so easily.

And I was right. It was easy.

After a few minutes of scrolling, I was starting to feel bad. There was nothing untoward in their messages to each other. But then, I started seeing it. “I love you.” “Baby.” “Sweetie.” “I want to act all couple-y for a while.” “I want that too.” Talking about cuddling on the sofa. Him complimenting her body.

There were pictures.

When they came home, I confronted him. He went white as a sheet, and had no defenses or excuses. He asked her to leave, and I could hear her crying as she went.

His first reaction was that it wasn’t going to work between us. He was going to leave. Not to be with her, but to “give me a better life.” I deserved better than him. He was a “bad person.” Yes, I yelled and screamed, demanded to know what he was thinking, but I never told him to leave. When I asked him if really wanted to throw away everything we had for some fling, he told me that he didn’t think there was “anything worth salvaging.”

Later, he apologized. He told me he couldn’t imagine living without me, but he couldn’t imagine living without her, either. He loved both of us. But he had already been pulling back from the romantic/sexual aspect of his relationship from her. (This seems to be confirmed by what I saw on Facebook.) He said he thought it would “end eventually.”

He’s coming with me to therapy tomorrow. I know the “right thing” to do is demand that he cut off all contact from her, but at this point I don’t know how. He spent a few hours yesterday determined to leave me, and I fear any ultimatums will send him out the door. I love him, I’ve given him so much of my life. I know I can live without him, but I don’t want to. I still believe he’s a good person. He made a bad mistake, but I want to work through it. Just don’t know how.

Our anniversary is in a week. I don’t even know what to feel.

SerJR posted 10/24/2013 18:54 PM

Welcome here, little sister...

To make a change, action is required. It is the most elementary, scientific fact about the universe as a whole. I can understand how frightened you are (heck, we all were at one point or another), but please understand that there are things worth more than that fear.

Your self respect is one of those things. Right now your WH is perfectly comfortable sitting on the fence and sucking away at the best of both worlds. I highly suspect that you wish to remove infidelity from your life. The question is, are you willing to back this up with action?

You cannot control your husband. You can only control the choices that you make. If he wants to commit to the marriage he will. If he wants to continue in his relationship with the OW he will. However, he will only continue to take advantage of you only if you allow him to do so. If you want infidelity out of your life, you need to be clear with him that YOU will re-evaluate YOUR desire to stay in the marriage if you don't see a change in behaviour. And you must be willing to back this up. As for what side of the fence he lands on... well I'm sorry to tell you but that is his choice.

At the same time though, you can make the marriage attractive by working on yourself. Take care of your health. Seek counseling. Read up on the 180 in the Healing Library to rebuild your self esteem. Let him know that your preference is to work on the marriage, but that you won't do it alone.

From what you've posted, your WH is full of contradictions. Quite honestly, he has no clue what he wants. If he is remorseful though, you will know it. He will take responsibility for his choices without blaming you. He will put a plan in place to ensure this doesn't happen again by going NC with the OW and blocking her. He will look to rebuild trust by giving you access to the affair tools so that you may verify whether or not he is being honest and transparent. He will work to make amends to the marriage and rebuild upon a solid foundation. His actions over the long term will show him for who he truly is.

This is not your fault. Your WH did not cheat beacause of the marriage. A marriage is simply the function of what he puts into it. He cheated because there is something missing within him - and no matter how amazing of a partner you were it wouldn't have made a difference. Do not own the choices that are not yours to own.

It's normal to not know what to feel. And when you do feel, you'll bounce all over the place between emotions. What you need to do is to think about what your needs are, and how to get them met. You need to think about what is important to you, and set up boundaries for yourself to protect that. You don't need to make a decision today - this is your journey and you make it when you are ready.

And finally, understand that you deserve better than to be treated this way. You have worth and you have value and you alone determine that. Respect that, honour that, and stay true to who you are. If you can do that, then I can promise you one thing, no matter which path you walk...

You're gonna be okay.

[This message edited by SerJR at 6:54 PM, October 24th (Thursday)]

momentintime posted 10/24/2013 19:05 PM

If you accept his continued contact with her why should he change? He had to make a choice, if he can't you must risk your M to save it. He can't have both. Call his bluff about leaving for your sake. If he sees or contacts her, he moves out...period. He needs to see what losing you looks like, not have you waiting while he decides what he wants. No honey, you aren't plan B, you should be the priority, if he can't do that let him flounder until he does see that.

Stay strong, remember you can't have three in a M. She needs to go. You can't "nice" him back. Stiffen your backbone, stand up for yourself and let him know NC with her, or NC with you. Then stick with NC if he tests you.

[This message edited by momentintime at 7:08 PM, October 24th (Thursday)]

glaciergal posted 10/25/2013 00:15 AM

I'm so sorry you are here. Your story is pretty much identical to mine, except that my WH kept his phone with him and closely guarded at all times, so it took a long time to confirm my suspicions. You will receive a lot of good advice here. If he doesn't think he did anything wrong, reading "Not Just Friends" might help both of you. My WH honestly thought he did nothing wrong, even though was messaging the OW about what she was wearing and how they would hold hands if they were together. Hugs and stay strong. You can do this.

embee posted 10/25/2013 07:38 AM

Thanks everyone. We went all day yesterday without talking about it, just acting like a normal couple again, which might not be the greatest - but it at least demonstrated to me that he still loves me, and maybe the fog is lifting. It was really comforting to read about that phenomenon and find out how common it is. I really thought he'd lost his mind.

I'm hoping in therapy today, I can find the courage to bring up how I feel blackmailed and controlled because of his desire to leave me, and it makes me think I can't ask for what I need to get better. I'm hoping I can have him at least agree to a temporary NC for now. And then maybe once some more fog clears, he'll understand that it needs to be permanent.

Raven96 posted 10/25/2013 08:05 AM

I am so sorry that you are here, but I am very glad you found us.

You are getting a lot of great advice from people that understand what you are going through.

You get to take all the time you need to make the big decisions. Right now you have to concentrate on you and your health. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water and eating what you can. Definitely read up on the 180 and implement it immediately. Don't let him do this to you a moment longer. He's either in or he's out.

One thing I can tell you that is absolutely true: You have to be willing to let go of your marriage to save it. If you fear your ultimatums will send him out the door, then out the door he goes. This "best friend" is not a friend of your marriage. She needs to go. That HAS to be his ultimatum. If he can't let her go, then you know exactly where you stand and it is time to move on with your life.

I know this hurts right now, but the peace you have in the long term will far outweight the pain and suffering you are enduring in the short term.

Like I said, you don't have to make the big decision now, but all of the little decisions you make now, i.e., getting her the HELL out of your lives, will help you make the big decision later.

I wish you strength and peace.


MJane posted 10/25/2013 10:28 AM

Hi there - SerJR summed it up when he said: "He cheated because there is something missing within him - and no matter how amazing of a partner you were it wouldn't have made a difference. Do not own the choices that are not yours to own." Even if you had any issues with your M the answer is never bringing a third person into a M - that is a cowardly escapist thing to do. My H said he wanted to find someone he could "connect with" and put his efforts into all of that with another person. That is just never right. Your h made a positive choice to cheat and move it beyond friendship. The fault is NOT yours for trusting - it took me weeks to accept that - I was beating myself up about how I should have seen it coming. I was a fully trusting wife and that made me the trusting sane person I was - he chose to use that trust against me just as your husband did to you. That fault is NOT ours. Maybe others will say "I told you so" but that doesn't make it right. He was an adult, he owed you vows and he broke them - you played no part in that.....Take good care of you and he needs to know he can't have any contact with her if he wants you in his life.

embee posted 10/25/2013 13:18 PM

Thanks, again, everyone. We just got back from therapy, and I feel a lot better, but he seems to be in shock again. Afterwards, he started acting more like his old self for a while - remorseful and regretful, the way I would expect the man I married to act in this situation.

He agreed to a week of no contact, at my therapist's suggestion, until we meet with him again. But in the car afterwards, he basically begged me to say that he could firmly tell her it was ONLY a week - that they'd talk again afterwards. I said sure, fine, because I still don't know how to stand up to him, or anyone for that matter. Anyway, it'll be up to what my therapist suggests. But I have to say, our next appt is on my anniversary, and I'll be damned if he's going to have a tearful reunion with HER that weekend.

Anyway, overall it was a positive experience and I feel much more confident that he's in this for the long haul. I spent most of yesterday doubting if he was really committed, thanks to the fog. I'm so glad I have a name for it now. The Fog. Almost makes it sound like a horror movie. Which, let's be honest, it kind of is...

Edited to add: I just wanted to be clear about one thing, because I'm not sure my original post really did. This wasn't just an emotional affair (though that's how it started), it was romantic/sexual as well. He definitely knows he did something wrong. He wants to make it right, but not at the expense of THE FRIENDSHIP. (The almighty friendship!!!) I can't believe he really values someone he's been friends with for, I don't know, maybe six months? more than his marriage.

[This message edited by embee at 1:19 PM, October 25th (Friday)]

momentintime posted 10/25/2013 13:37 PM

He doesn't want to stop contact with OW. Do you want to live your life like this, sharing him with her? He has to stop contact with her FOREVER, not just a week. Do you want to watch him pine for her. He needs a real wake up call.

You are settling for peanuts from him. Don't talk yourself into minimizing what he has and is doing. If you want a strong M, he has to want only you. If he can't manage that, then kick him out. Better to start down the path of your new life, that to stay in limbo land, hoping he will choose you, while he still sees her. Not a life of meaning for you. Don't settle.

embee posted 10/25/2013 14:48 PM

Well, after he talked to her about the NC, it's become very clear that he understands this is realistically not going to be a temporary thing. He didn't want to accept it, even just in his own head, but I can see the fog lifting a little more with every passing minute. Once he gets some distance and sees that neither one of them is going to die if they don't talk, I'm sure it will get easier.

It's hard to see him like this. Even logically knowing that he hurt me and I should be angry or whatever, I'm just worried about him. He's finally starting to feel the full weight of what he did.

I explained to him that as long as he was still talking to her, the affair wasn't over, and I think he accepts that reality. I don't know if this will ever be EASY, but I think it'll get easier with time.

embee posted 10/26/2013 09:26 AM

He just went out to visit his aunt at the nursing home, and of course I am suspicious. How could I not be? I'm going to be suspicious every time he leaves the house now.

I logged into our cell phone account to see his usage, and I really wish I hadn't. He uses iMessage to text with OW, so unfortunately I can't seem to see that usage on the cell provider account since it's not handled through them, but I can see phone calls. He was talking to her on the phone 3-4 times EVERY SINGLE DAY. I had no idea. He must have been calling her every time he took the dog for a walk, or took the garbage over. I wondered why he was always gone for so long.

I'm almost afraid to look after today. But I know I have to.

sinsof thefather posted 10/27/2013 09:37 AM

Oh embee I'm so sorry to read that - what has happened since? Have you confronted him?

embee posted 10/27/2013 10:24 AM

I did confront him about the past phone calls. He didn't attempt to contact her while he was out, as far as I could tell, and he gave me the passcode to his phone and told me I could check up on him whenever I wanted, and that I could come with him every time he left the house if that made me feel more comfortable. He doesn't seem to really get that I don't want to HAVE to do any of that, but at least he's making an effort to demonstrate that he's an open book.

The problem with every confrontation or difficult conversation so far is that he always escalates it to some version of "well, why don't you just leave?" Not in a bitchy way, but like he literally feels like he's fucked up too badly and we can't repair this. But he doesn't want to face up to what he did, or accept that I'm going to continue hurting no matter what happens with our reconciliation.

He is a lot more apologetic now, but very depressed and it's hard to watch him like this. Even though I'm obviously angry, I don't want to see him acting like this. He can barely function. I feel this pressure to be gentle with him, even considering the circumstances, because he seems like he's on the verge of a complete mental breakdown. He's in total shock. And not because of the NC either, it started before then. He told me (and my therapist) that literally the only conversations he'd had with her, until the NC, was just both of them expressing regret that they ever let it go so far. I think they both know the friendship has to end now, and are devastated that they made such a horrible mistake and ruined something that was important to both of them.

It's just in my nature to feel empathy for their situation, even though I know I should be focused on my own feelings and recovery. But I know that he KNOWS it's his/their fault that things have to be this way. However, that doesn't change the fact that he's still apparently having trouble accepting that he has to choose just ONE of us. He can't have us both in his life - he ruined that with what he allowed to happen.

It's hard, very hard, but I can at least recognize the man I married in the way he's behaving now. I'm hopeful that things are going to improve. He's agreed to go into IC as well, even though he doesn't want to (he's done it before, had a major psychiatric crisis as a teenager but seems to think his recovery has nothing to do with being in therapy...whaaa?) I know that the A had a lot to do with his depression, anxiety, and feelings of apathy and despair about his OWN life that had nothing to do with me. And he really needs to work through them if this is going to work. He feels like a failure, and even more so now that he's devastated both his wife and his best friend with his actions. (That is, at least, how he sees it. I think she should take SOME responsibility for it, and probably does, but he doesn't see it that way. He is several years older and more mature, in a lot more of an "adult" place in his life, so realistically more of the blame probably does lie with him.)

I don't know, my thoughts are still all over the place. I just know it's not over - that's the worst part. I'm going to keep remembering/discovering new things and have to deal with them. I guarantee I'm going to look at his phone at some point, and start scrolling through old messages even though I know that's a bad idea. We're still planning on going on our anniversary trip, because I can't get a refund on the idea what's going to happen there, but hopefully good things.

[This message edited by embee at 10:26 AM, October 27th (Sunday)]

SerJR posted 10/27/2013 10:41 AM

The other members have mentioned that the NC with the OW is an all-or-nothing agreement, so I won't dwell any further on that.

he always escalates it to some version of "well, why don't you just leave?"

Your WH is looking for an easy out with this type of statement. I would tell him, quite clearly, that your preference is to work on the marriage and that is for you to decide. I'd tell him that you agree this relationship can be improved. I'd tell him that you're not impressed by his self-pity and you want to see changes over the longterm and that it's his choice as to how he follows up. I'd tell him that you believe him to be capable, but that you cannot do his part for him. This will lay out the expectations clearly and put the ball back in his court with a little encouragement and tough love. You hold one hand out reaching to him, but use the other to assert your boundaries.

embee posted 10/27/2013 10:45 AM

Thank you. Yes, I'm frustrated with the "why don't you leave" specifically because I get what it is. It's just another way to try and dodge responsibility. He's said over and over again that he wants me to hate him. It would be easier to handle - or at least, that's what he thinks.

He keeps persisting that even though EVERY OTHER COUPLE ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH has to do an NC to stay together after something like this, maybe we won't have to because "we're different." I'm too exhausted to even have that argument anymore. I think with my therapist on my side, we will eventually be able to wake him up to reality.

embee posted 10/27/2013 11:46 AM

I'm also having a lot of weird thoughts and feelings. Not surprising, I know, but sometimes I feel like a total nutcase. The other night, stepping out of the shower, I cast my eyes over my nice, bright white bathroom...

Okay, this one requires some backstory. OW has loooong, thick black hair that she never ever ever ties back. So in addition to always dragging through her food (GROSSSSS) and just getting in everything, she's always shedding. Everywhere. Doing housework, I was constantly finding her long-ass hairs ALL OVER THE PLACE and it killed me a little every time.

So last night, I looked around my bathroom and there were NONE OF HER HAIRS. ANYWHERE. I felt this amazing sense of triumph, and started laughing like a total lunatic.

It's weird, but with all the negative stuff I'm obviously feeling, I also have a lot of positive thoughts and optimism about the fact that she's at least out of MY life. I never have to deal with her sloppy, immature self tromping around my home again. That's a hard line I've drawn, and one he never fought thank God, even if he's still a waffling sonuvabitch. She is NEVER coming to our home again and they are NEVER seeing each other in person again.

Would you believe she had a toothbrush at our place? That's how often she was staying here. I threw it in the garbage yesterday and cheered. I've hated that stupid orange toothbrush since the day we moved in.

Small victories...

SerJR posted 10/27/2013 11:49 AM

Hey - take the small victories when you can. They do add up after time to something greater than the sum.

He keeps persisting that even though EVERY OTHER COUPLE ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH has to do an NC to stay together after something like this, maybe we won't have to because "we're different."

Tell him that's fine, but you're not interested in that option.

embee posted 10/27/2013 12:02 PM

I know I need to say something along those lines - I just can't bring myself to. I guess I'm not ready to walk away if he says no. I know that I need to be, but I'm just not there yet. Maybe it's a matter of just ACTING like I am, the same way I want him to ACT like he's willing to cut things off from her, even if he doesn't "feel" it. It's just a matter of making a decision and letting your feelings follow. I don't know. It terrifies me.

So can someone tell me what "madhatter" means? I keep seeing it around, but can't derive the meaning from context.

SerJR posted 10/27/2013 12:08 PM

"Madhatter" is an individual who's both a BS and a WS.

I guess I'm not ready to walk away if he says no

So, what will you do if he says "no"?

embee posted 10/27/2013 12:16 PM

Got it, thank you!

As to your question, I have no freaking clue. I really don't. I can't imagine being comfortable living with him if he's still in contact with her, but I also can't imagine living without him. My anger and sense of betrayal does not even come close to outweighing my feelings for him. I can't picture myself walking away. I guess I would end up being the person who helps their spouse cover up a murder, because I have no idea how to separate myself.

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