From the day I discovered your affair I have owned up to my problems in the marriage. Over the last few years I have distanced myself from you, did not give you the attention that a loving, fun, beautiful woman such as you deserves. I stopped communicating with you about anything of deep importance. I even stopped being your friend, and spending quality time with you. I’m obviously not proud of that; shame on me. I think we both agree that we were poor communicators and never revealed our true feelings to each other. We are both complicit with the problems in our marriage, but I am willing to accept blame for half, and even more than half, of the emotional emptiness in it.
However, you also need to know I don’t own up to the affair—-at all. That is on you, and on your conscience, not mine. I hope you feel a deep sense of shame for what you did, because no matter what shape our marriage was in—and it was certainly not terrible and beyond repair—it did not justify an affair. My emotional distancing is not something I’m proud of, but it’s something that happens in many, perhaps even most, long-term marriages, and it could have been resolved with honest, direct communication, marriage counseling, or even reading a book like The Love Languages together. What it did not deserve was the most hurtful experience I have ever gone through in my life—a bitter betrayal by a person whom I thought would never hurt or betray me, a woman who took sacred marriage vows to stay with me in richer and poorer. And then broke those vows.
The affair was not the result of anything I did, or did not do, as a husband. It was the result of a selfish, weak decision, a disgusting, manipulative man, and as I’ve come to understand, something flawed inside you.
You told me once that the affair could have as easily have happened to me. I’m sorry, but I don’t agree, nor do I agree that everyone is susceptible to an affair. I have had chances, on the road when no evidence would be found, and have never strayed. I myself knew we did not have a great, loving marriage, but I did not choose to look outside of it for relief. Many other people in marriages similar or worse than ours chose not to stray, either. You did. Something inside you allowed you to make that leap. I now believe it’s because you have deep self-esteem issues and require external validation to feel good about yourself. When after 17 years of marriage, and 20 years of being together, I was not providing that validation, you looked for it somewhere else. That does not make what you did right; it was wrong and selfish. But it also was the result of something in your character that you could not identify or control without deep introspection and therapy.
No one is perfect, *****. That you have this urgent need to be needed and validated is part of the whole you that I love, and we can work on it together. I can be the man that fills your need. I want to be the person you turn to be loved, wanted, and needed. Now that we know what went wrong, we can make sure you never need to turn to someone else ever again. And we can make sure you find other things in your life that give you a meaningful outlet so that you don’t need someone else’s attention to make you feel valued. You can find that within you, and be comfortable in your own skin.
But I need you to be honest and open and communicative. I had no idea you were empty enough to be so susceptible to an affair. I am doing my best to make you happy, and for the rest of our life together I promise that I will do all I can to make you feel loved, and wanted, and appreciated—something I should have been doing all along. But in the end you have to let me know if you’re feeling otherwise. Believe me when I tell you that I did know how empty you were last summer. I can’t know if you’re feeling sad and alone; when you were playing “**** homemaker” last year and putting on a smile every day and going to work last Fall and Spring, I assumed you were okay. It’s unfair to think I can somehow interpret how you are feeling—you, like me, need to communicate when things both are and aren’t going well. You need to tell me like it is.
More than that, and beyond what I will bring to the marriage, you have to be strong. I cannot take another affair; I cannot take any further slip-ups with this guy, or another man, ever again. You have to be vigilant and not allow yourself to get too close with “friendly” men who give you flattery and attention. Whether you believe it or not, you are an attractive woman with a nice body, and you are friendly and receptive to the attention of others, so there will be other chances. That attention may come from another teacher, a parent of a child you are helping, a male runner you befriend, or any number of other places. It’s up to you how you will react.
Believe me when I say that another affair will break me. Because of the affair I have suffered panic attacks and lost weight; I have been unable to concentrate at work and suffered poor job performance. I have lost some joy in our children and have become more pessimistic about people in general. It has made me feel worthless as a human being. And then, after discovering the betrayal and dealing with the shock and all those hurtful feelings, I had the double insult of listening to you try to defend him. When I told you about his hateful comments to me you said “it didn’t change anything.” I was forced to endure you saying how “special” it was, and your need for closure through your ridiculous affair-fogged lenses, never admitting—until now—that it was all a disgusting, empty, lie, and a catastrophe that could have been much worse. I can’t say enough how hurtful it was to have to endure this kind of talk, which I now recognize as you withdrawing from the addiction of attention.
I have turned a corner on most of these feelings and I know now that I won’t put up with any more of this garbage; I don’t deserve it. I deserve love and respect from a woman who respects me, not deception and betrayal. I’m a strong and kind man with a lot to offer, and I hope you appreciate what you have.
I can’t make you do anything, or make you behave a certain way; it’s up to you, not me, if you want to be faithful and live the rest of your life with me, and respect me as an individual in good times and in bad. Needless to say I was not treated with anything resembling respect or love for the past year. I was humiliated by a couple of selfish, childish people behaving very badly, and betrayed by the one person I trusted most in my life. But I am willing to move past that, because I love you, I have always loved you, and both we and our family deserve a second chance. This affair does not define who you are; it was a terrible mistake that involved a destructive series of lies for a year, but I know you are better than that. Don’t let it define you; move on and be a better person. OK?
I love you,
I think the letter is well written. You seemed to be able to describe your feelings well.
My only question would be this... Are you sending a perfectly logical and reasonable letter and expecting a logical and reasonable response - to someone who may not be logical and reasonable at this time?
She will only be able to respond based on where she is at this point. If her response is not what you hoped, maybe this is the reason.
HUGS to you.
I will not be vanquished. Rose Kennedy
In the last 2-3 weeks she is finally coming out of her affair fog, and is now crying and begging for forgiveness, and describing the affair as a horrible catastrophe and the worst mistake of her life. But I endured a good 2 1/2 months of listening to her defend this pig, and how she could not erase "the good memories" she had, and how he made her feel "special" by buying her coffee and bringing her flowers from his garden. Despite the fact that he is married, and we know has had a previous wife he also cheated on, and we have young kids...etc. etc. Disgusting.
Im sorry we are all h ere.
But - NOT to defend her actions in any way - I want to share with you that my husband (even after 7 years) has never cried and begged forgiveness - etc. To me, that would be an unimaginably wonderful relief.
It is impossible to have the unscathed marriage now - you will have a different marriage - perhaps better in some ways. Nothing can erase what has happened.
But - I say that to say this - if you can, I hope you will look upon her recent "coming out of the fog" as a gift, and I pray that you two can use it to begin to heal.
Have you gotten any response from the letter?
It started when she referenced the e-mail I put in her inbox (From this website) about what the WS needs to do, and specifically she asked what my "triggers" were. I told her that they were driving in her car to and from work, because that’s when they talked; her early release days, because that’s when they screwed at his house; and I then mentioned our recent family cruise, which she utterly ruined, requiring me to take down the nice framed picture of our family. I ripped her and called her and him a “couple 13 year olds” for texting each other from Miami as soon as the ship landed and we had cell reception, crapping all over our memories. She said she had an awesome cruise and I said, “why were you with him two days later, then? Why couldn’t you have said, enough, I’m with my family?” She had no answer; she was fucking addicted and in a deep fog (and this is the same person who once got angry because I said she’d still be with him now if I hadn’t found out. Of course she would—she’s so stupid sometimes). She tried to get me to see that she loved being together as a family on the cruise, that for 6 or 7 days she got to see what "real" family life was like, and knew that was what she wanted. All well and good, so be strong you dumb b%^&h and break it off!!
She told me that if I thought she was permanently flawed that I should leave her, that she was doing all the right things and in therapy and committed to moving forward. I agree, and don't plan to leave her. But she had no answers for these questions, no answers to the horrors she committed (while still insisting she never stopped loving me—again, I don’t really believe that—you don’t do what she did to someone you love. You just don’t). I told her that I was proud of what she was doing, she was doing everything right and honestly, but the only way to heal this damage is through time. That’s all.
I believe in my heart that she has put this behind her and I think that we will make it. But there is so much inexcusable, indefensible behavior that went on over the past year that I'm such a hard time dealing with. I have gone from disbelief, to grief, to fear of losing her, and now to incredible anger.
Your letter articulated your feelings, perceptions and boundaries very well. Regardless of how your WW reacts to the letter, you have drawn a line in the sand. This letter might help her out of her fog, and may just make her defend herself more.
No matter how she responds, it sounds like you are strong and not a husband to be yanked around anymore.
I'm sorry you have a reason to be on this site. You are in good company. If she comes out of it, you can have a better M....if she does her work. Of course you are going to do your part, but she has to realize her own brokenness and work on it, like your letter explained.
She told me that if I thought she was permanently flawed that I should leave her
But if by "permanently flawed" she is referring to the stigma of having an A, that might also be on her. While you will never forget what she did, you may be able to forgive her, and again, much of that is dependent on how she faces her own deficiencies, dysfunctions, etc.
[This message edited by HurtButHopeful? at 10:22 AM, November 12th (Tuesday)]
I want to clarify something I said earlier...about being receptive to her apparent true remorse.
I CERTAINLY did NOT intend to suggest that this could aleviate your pain. No way.
You are spot on - that time (well spent) will help to heal - with the work.
Regarding her silence for some of your questions, I want to say that FIRST OF ALL - this is SO new for you both. You will still have a roller coaster of feelings going forward, and she may be feeling all kinds of disbelief at her own actions, shame, guilt, etc. She may not understand it herself.
(Also, you might want to look up the "could she have been in love with me during her infidelity" question. There are all kinds of opinions on that. I tend to agree with you - How could they have still loved us during that time? But my heart sure wants to find a way to believe it! Maybe a thread sent out to WS specifically about how they feel about it?)
Discussions like the one you had - calm but firm - and compassionate on BOTH your parts - will absolutely give you the best results.
And don't forget about the counseling.
I am excited about your prospects for coming out of this on the other side!
HUGS to both of you!
I want to share with you that my husband (even after 7 years) has never cried and begged forgiveness - etc. To me, that would be an unimaginably wonderful relief.
HurtButHopeful?: My wife is not a narcissist by any stretch, but what worries me is that she has low self-esteem and latches on when someone is showing her attention. This guy showered her with attention and gifts while working on our kitchen all summer (as a teacher she has summers off) and she fell for it.
I hope to forgive her in time, but I'm not close to that yet, and there are things that went on during the affair that I'm not sure I will ever be able to forgive.
Mr. Kite: You're right, I should have used "choice" instead of "mistake." She was used by a philanderer, but she made her own decisions, too.
Again, what if she had discovered this? What if she didn’t tell you for months on end?
She’s in the dark. He’s probably moved on to someone else. He’s a serial cheater. She deserves the truth.
I have not yet outed the affair to the poor other woman, but I plan to. I was terrified of losing my wife for the first two months, but that fear is now gone.
Please don't wait another minuet... out them. You are basically protecting the POSOM (piece of shit other man).
There is nothing like the light of truth to sanitize a nasty betrayal. All of those stupid fantasy rainbow unicorns craping skittles dissolve...all that is left is the sordid truth and horrible destruction of the BS and family.
Do it for YOU.
Strength and hugs to you.
Never forget what is worth remembering or remember what is best forgotten.
Here's how it went down: I tracked her down at her workplace today and told her I needed to talk to her alone, and she called me back on her cell. She had a weird reaction—not tears, but possibly some shock and disbelief, but stayed calm, though she did say she was shaking. We talked for 10 minutes on the phone, I remember her telling me that their marriage was “volatile” and that he didn’t trust her! She at first wouldn’t believe me but I rationally said, why the hell would I make this up, and said I had extensive phone records if she ever wanted proof. Told her I heard his voice mails. She called back a few minutes later to ask how I knew they had sex, and I told her that my wife told me everything. It was all very surreal.
It was the most horrible call of my life, I was shaking like a leaf, sweating, voice cracking. She said at one point, “I don’t think he’s the man I thought he was,” and I said “I would agree with that” and that he was disgusting to get involved with a woman with young children. She said she “didn’t think he was the type of man to do something like this, but I guess I was wrong.” Again, I agreed. I told her I needed to tell her about the affair after she and her husband ran into my wife at the grocery store two days ago, and but for the flip of a coin that would have been me and huge ugliness would have ensued. I told her I was sorry to have to tell her this and be the bearer of awful news.
Wife was again in snot-nosed tears her whole car ride home from work as I told her the story, talking to me, and then again after she got home. I described her affair as a drug addiction—she was doing things completely out of character because she was addicted to the attention, and the feeling of being needed. Which is why none of her actions logically made any sense, and never will. She needs someone to fucking need her, so badly. She told me that I was “dead on” with that description.
I am so glad I did it. I was a fucking man; I shot my wife's objections to contacting the other woman down hard, kicked her whiny disapproval in the rear, and did the right thing. And my wife knows it now. THIS IS WHAT I NEEDED TO DO, to be a man, to do what is right. For the first time since I discovered the affair I feel like a man again.
Had great sex afterwards, too.
Now get ready for your WW and OM to talk and see what comes of that. Hopefully OM will throw your W under the bus. That will be a big wake-up call for her.
Hang in there. Be strong. Don't waiver.
I was a fucking man
Amen to that. You did the right thing by telling the OBS. I outed an unrelated OM once (my "friend" was the OW) and it was terrifying.
I'm really proud of your capacity to own your own behavior while drawing a line at hers. You're a champion communicator.
“I can see the sun, but even if I cannot see the sun, I know that it exists. And to know that the sun is there - that is living.” - Dostoyevsky
That you have this urgent need to be needed and validated is part of the whole you that I love, and we can work on it together. I can be the man that fills your need.
No matter how hard you try, you can't. That has to be her. What you describe is a co-dependent relationship that will someday come back to bite you. She has to be able to fulfill her own validation needs. I understand what you are getting at, but the need for external validation(whether from you or others) will lead to more problems.
Wouldn't you rather have a spouse who is a partner walking beside you rather than having to carry her? IC would be extremely beneficial for her. Find out why she needs that validation. Freely given validation is one thing. Validation given to meet her needs is another ballgame. What if she finds someone who can give her better validation than you are?