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regret12 posted 1/3/2014 15:28 PM

I recently came clean to my H about an affair I had over a decade ago. We have a long and somewhat complicated story, but here it is in a nutshell. At the time of the A, we'd been married about a year, but together for ten. We were HS sweethearts. About a year into dating, he told me that he had been a virgin when we had sex. I wasn't (one previous partner). This was a surprise because he'd told me he wasn't. Now I know this seems a strange place to go, but after that point he became very bitter and resentful of me and my "experience" and would often punish me by withdrawing, withholding and flirting with other girls. Even to the extent of getting physical with them, just not having sex. He flaunted pornography in my face constantly and often seemed unattracted to me. I had extremely low self-esteem, so I took it. I was convinced that I was dirty, tainted and had made the mistake of not "waiting". I was young, in love and put him on a pedestal above me. About 7 years in to our dating relationship, he told me one night that he was sorry for having been so mean to me over the years about my "history" and that, truth be told, it actually excited him now and sometimes he got off thinking about me with my former boyfriend. I found this extremely confusing and somewhat maddening. I had punished myself for years because of my "mistake" and so had he and now I find out he's been "getting off" on it. Ok, so again, poor self-esteem and in love, I forgave him and tried to move past that. He started pushing for more "wild sex" and openness from me. He loved exhibitionism and wanted me to dress up and go places with him and "show off". Again, low self-esteem here doesn't really think of herself that way so that was not easy. I tried a few times and typically had to be pretty drunk to do it. Then we got married. We were out of college, working and looking to buy a house. Settling into adulthood and growing up. My H has always feared getting older and was growing more depressed about becoming "old and boring". I was excelling at work and getting promoted quickly and working out of town a lot. We were both depressed from missing each other. We hardly ever had sex. I could tell that we were both playing "hard to get" because he was wanting "wild sex" and I was wanting to be "made love to". We tried talking but it always ended up in a fight. I would cry because I wanted to feel "special" and just wanted to be his and not "shared" with others. He didn't want to be "boring" and have "married sex". That spring I attended a conference for work and made some new friends, including a guy who lived about an hour away. We started talking and had lunch a couple of times. We were flirty with each other, but it seemed harmless. It felt good to be flirted with and I realized how much I missed this from my H. I would try to get him want to be with me, just make love and be passionate, but he didn't seem to want me unless I was being an exhibitionist. We finally talked one day and he told me that he wasn't comfortable with the "friendship" I had with the OM and I told him it was harmless. We discussed our needs and desires and it didn't seem to really go anywhere. My H had just begun writing in a journal I had bought him and I got curious about how he was really feeling. I started reading the journal and found that the day after our talk he wrote about how I was no longer attractive to him, how I was boring and he could no longer "finish" when we had sex. He said I wasn't the girl he thought he married. This broke me. I can't explain how devastated I had become by the emotional roller coaster of first feeling like a dirty slut who wasn't able to keep her virginity, then being bombarded by porn and having other girls thrown in my face for years while he flirted ever so close to "the line". And, well, I broke. I ended up sleeping with the OM. I got pretty drunk that night in order to do it, but it happened. And then it continued to happen for 2 1/2 months, about 5 or 6 times in all. I was drinking heavily and I was taking prescription painkillers (I broke a bone about 3 weeks in to the A) which helped mask my pain, made it easier to lie and kept me in a "euphoric" feeling. I started opening up a bit sexually to my husband, who started eating up the fact that I was being a "bad girl". He would even ask me to dirty talk about the OM and flirty conversations that I would have with him. I was so confused and high I didn't know which way was up and down. The A started to fizzle some and then one evening my H confronted me about where I had been earlier that day. I had gone to meet the OM for lunch and lied about it, but quickly found that my H knew the truth about where I'd been. So I fessed up to having lunch and we fought and he accused me of having an affair. I swore I hadn't and that we'd only flirted heavily, talked dirty some and kissed a couple of times. Eventually he ended up buying the story. I felt horribly guilty about lying and justified it by knowing that the A was over (I never saw/spoke to the OM again) and would never, ever put myself in that situation again. I spiraled emotionally for a long time. I continued taking pills until it started to be noticeable to some and then I quit cold turkey. But then I started binging and purging, I became terribly bulimic. I continued to travel with work a lot, but never got myself close to other men. Finally after a few years, my bulimia got out of control and I sought counseling. I don't need to tell you that my behavior was simply self-destructive due to low-self esteem and punishing myself. I grew and I became stronger. I told my therapist, a PhD psychologist, about the A and my lying about it. She agreed that it was actually for the best. She didn't think that my telling the truth would do either of us any good and that I was not a habitual "cheater" but someone who was very broken and lost. In the years since therapy, my love for my H and our love for each other has grown stronger. We don't always see eye to eye on our sexual desires, but we learned to temper expectations and try to compromise. We became best friends and inseparable in many ways. We had what many thought of as a "picture perfect" marriage/relationship. Then about two months ago, he began questioning me about a guy friend I work with who had been texting me. He called to my attention that we'd texted maybe more than I thought and I apologized. I showed him the texts and he saw that they were completely harmless but I agreed it didn't look good to text anyone of the opposite sex that much. Then he began questioning me again about the things that happened a decade ago. I stuck to "my story" and tried to move us past it. But it didn't go away and about a month ago I finally came clean. I would be lying as well if I didn't admit that there was a little part of me that thought my H was going to be a little excited about it this many years out. He had been talking about sex a lot recently and bringing up the idea of "adventuring" again. But I couldn't have been more wrong. He is devastated and broken. By not only my actions then, but the lies over the last decade. We are "separated" but still living together (sleeping in separate bedrooms) and he is full of hate for me. We've tried to talk about it, but he doesn't want to hear any of my "excuses" which go back to our past and his treatment of me and where we were at during the A. In the last decade, my husband has had two near-affairs, inappropriate conversations/relationships with women that I confronted him about. He has continued to have a nightly relationship with pornography which I've grown okay with, as a part of the compromise of things I'm not ok doing at least there are pictures out there that somewhat "satisfy" his desires. But I can't compare any of that to my A and lies. He is already talking to at least 2 girls (one of them is one of the girls from a few years ago that I confronted him about). I really want us to go to therapy. We have been a good couple, even with all this BS, we really do love each other. I think we can make it, but then I'm not sure that I can ever really trust him either. Am I crazy for wanting to stay? Am/have I completely justified my bad behavior? Am I blaming him for everything? I don't know what he needs right now and what to do next if he isn't willing to go to therapy (which he isn't right now. I'm afraid he's going to cheat on me as revenge. I'm afraid he is going to leave me for another woman. Call me on my BS, that's ok I really want to hear opinions. I am broken over this as well and I hate seeing him suffer. Trying to be patient and take my punishment as it comes. But I need help. Thanks for reading/responding.

GotMyLifeBck2013 posted 1/3/2014 15:48 PM

So no stop sign here, thought I'd throw in a few thoughts. I'm a betrayed spouse, BS, so I thought I'd give you another perspective. Sounds to me like there's a lot going on here. Most of the WS on here will tell you that you can't worry about his actions, you have to worry about becoming a better you. That's where the problem is. You've made poor choices because of your own mental and emotional health. Best thing is to keep the counseling going, and learn about you, how to fix yourself, become a better person moving forward. Remember not to blame him for it, and don't discuss the marriage as part of the infidelity. One doesn't have anything to do with the other. Infidelity is, as you are already painfully aware, something about you. Not your marriage. So watch the marriage counselors, if you go to one, that want to bond you too back together too quickly. He's going to want to deal with hurt, and that's a good place to focus. At the same time, keep your counseling going so you can progress yourself. A good IC goes a long way, believe me.

Some of his behaviors sound like he was trying to find ways to please you. One of the reasons he was so hurt and betrayed is because he assumed he was exciting you and keeping some zing in the marriage. There's other stuff in there, that's not real healthy, but IC for him will get that out too.

For reconciliation to work though, you both have to be actively engaged. His flirtation with this other woman will have to end, and you will have to come clean on the affair...not just admitting it, but giving details. One of the most hurtful aspects of this is it happened a long time ago. He thought he was married to one person, and now finds out he was married to someone else. He'll question not just the affair, but all 10 years since the affair. And if the basis for his early part of your relationship was his lack of trust, and he now sees that was justified, he'll continue to go back to that. This is why the longer the secret is kept, the more damage it does.

MC_Jack posted 1/3/2014 16:36 PM

To answer your 3 questions at the end: no, no, no.

Just a random thought, but it seems that it is possible that your H had a latent issue with not 'sowing his wild oats' and then resented that that M didn't leave him with the feeling that he had done so. So the resentment of your previous experience, and all the porn.

My idea is that he still feels some hole in himself that he feels would be filled by having his 'fair share' of sexual conquests. Your friendships were always triggers to his own suppressed desires. The porn was a fantasy into which he could project. Him wanting you to act like a hot slut was an attempt to make fantasies real. Again, just speculation. But it does seem that he has struggled with 'desire' and feelings of having repressed himself. Where did this hole come from? That is for him to find and fix.

NOW, the bad news for you: your affair was basically your letting your AP 'sow his wild oats' at your BH's expense. He is really going to struggle with this one. He may have some buried desire and resentment to know what another woman's body feels like, and now another man knows what yours feels like.

Just random thoughts here, but the porn use and the dressing up got me speculating.

Ask him to go deep down. There is a lot of guilt when things are repressed.

As a litmus test, I wonder what would he would honestly feel to a hall pass? It might be revelatory.

painfulpast posted 1/3/2014 18:59 PM

Hi Regret12. I'm another BS, but your story is really heartbreaking. It made me sad reading it, and you've been living it.

If at ANY time my writing reads as if I'm being critical, I am not, at all. Sometimes writing can be challenging, as there is no inflection to help illustrate feelings. So please know that I am NOT judging you, and I am 100% in support of you.

My answers to the questions - yes, yes and no.

Wanting to stay may not be in your best interest, but it isn't uncommon. You have been with your H for 2 decades. You love him. You stayed through some fairly horrendous treatment. You had lost control of yourself and given it to him, hence the bulimia. The pills were used to dull the world around you, and then you used bulimia to feel in control of something.

Your H had been making you feel 'less than' for years - cheating, which you termed 'getting physical with them, just not having sex'. He punished you for acts that occurred before you met him, and he lied and told you he wasn't a virgin. If he didn't verbalize his lie, then he did something to lead you down that path.

So now you're a 'slut' according to him, even though he knew about your experience. Years later, he wants to hear details as some kind of twisted foreplay. In short, he was emotionally abusing you. Insulting you, cheating, porn, all because you 'deserved it' because you'd had sex with someone else before you were with him. That is not normal behavior, at all. You did nothing wrong, and yet for years this man has treated you as if you were a very bad person. He did this to manipulate and control you. He most likely enjoyed watching you try to please him, or be sorry for having slept with someone else.

Now that you've come clean, he's talking to not one, but two other women. Yes, it most definitely sounds like he is going to cheat, and it sounds like more than once. He is probably going to use your cheating as an excuse to have a one-sided open marriage. This isn't going to 'even the score' or improve your marriage in any way.

I'm going to let some of the WSs here discuss the actual A, blaming your H, etc. I believe they can much more effectively discuss those issues with you. I'm not judging you for the A and therefore avoiding it. The WSs here have done a wonderful just working on themselves and the reasons they allowed themselves to have an A. I think they can provide much more insight about that part of your story than I can. Also, the WSs her at SI, like the BSs and anything in between, are great people.

I sincerely hope you find a great therapist. Your story is heartbreaking, and my guess is it's about to get worse and that he's going to have at least one A of his own. I pray I'm wrong about that. I really do.

I believe you've been a victim throughout your marriage, and that your H is in need of counseling. I would consider making that a condition of you staying with him. His attitude is extremely cruel and conditional.

I know you are hurting, a lot. Your pain is evident in your writing.


regret12 posted 1/4/2014 03:42 AM

Wow, I have to admit that as a very new member and for my first post I was a bit skeptical and hesitant about joining and posting but I am honestly blown away by each of the responses, the insight and sincerity, and your taking the time. Thank you to each one of you. You all make excellent points and give great insight. I went out this evening with a girlfriend of mine and my H was home. I've always been very upfront about where I am at, especially since the A, even though he didn't know the full details until recently. He's been elusive lately and I've been trying to give him the space he needs. I do worry that he may have an A or two to try to even the score. I am trying to prepare myself for that and how I'll feel and respond. I'm resisting the strong urge to contact one of the girls on an hourly basis. He told me tonight that if I did then it would truly be over because even though he suspected, he never followed me or confront the AP back then. I told him this evening that maybe he should have, and I probably would have if the situation were reversed. I'm not very patient and I confront quickly, so I'm already ready to go rip this gals hair out kidding...sort of. But I am trying to consider that he does resent me even more now because I've now had not just one more partner than him, but now two. He has always felt inadequate sexually, experience wise. I've always felt inadequate physically and emotionally. I have not started seeing a therapist yet, but I've been looking for someone. My former retired. I'm still in fear of losing him. I told him tonight that I have loved him for 20 years and all I've ever wanted was him, emotional and sexually. I've always just wanted him and for him to want me too. Now I think that what was already screwed up is that much more screwed up. I'm scared to start over and I don't know who I am without him. But I have to learn and he has too as well. We are trying to spend some time apart as much as possible. We haven't told the majority of our friends or family anything and faked it thru the holidays. We have a couple of friends each that we've told. Though this evening I talked to him about the other two girls and they know as well. I'm very upset about that, but I don't suppose I have reason that is justified. Doesn't change the fact that it hurts too. Again, thank you all so very much. Your words help and your taking the time means a lot.

Mrs Panda posted 1/4/2014 06:55 AM


Welcome to SI.

You should try breaking your posts up into paragraphs as it makes it easier to read. You may get more responses.

What I take from your post is that you both have been in a terribly dysfunctional M from the get-go. Honestly, I think it is pretty hard to change a dynamic that is such a pattern. If you do, it will require a lot of work from BOTH of you. It sounds like only you are considering changing right now, but you are not even in counseling yet .

I am glad you confessed for whatever reason. It is good to have truth out there.

I think you minimize your BH actions and justify them because of his complex about have sex with only you. (Not sure I believe that is still true given the behaviors you have described but anyway). To excuse his prolific use of porn (I have no problem with porn but every day?) and his ongoing behaviors with other women, is not healthy.

Many BS here had a WS who cheated by other means than sex. And they will tell you it is just as hurtful .

I guess my last comment is to be careful. If you think simply steeling yourself for a few revenge A is the answer, you are wrong. It will destroy what is left of your M and self respect.

[This message edited by Mrs Panda at 6:56 AM, January 4th (Saturday)]

regret12 posted 1/4/2014 10:16 AM

Mrs Panda, thank you. And thanks for the advice.

I am in complete agreement that my BH has cheated on me in ways other than having physical sex with him. He has had multiple emotional affairs, he has manipulated me with lies for the first eight years of our relationship before we were married. He would tell me he'd done something with a girl, touching or kissing, if we were fighting about something and then a year later or so change the story if I brought it up. And I allowed the behavior. My BH is very much used to getting what he wants and wines and mopes if he doesn't. His mother is the exact same way. It's actually a bit of a joke in the family.

I don't know what to do really. There is part of me that just says this is all way too broken to even try to fix. There's part of me that is so mad at him for not owning all of the emotional pain and manipulation he's caused over the years. But then I have to blame myself for allowing it to happen and for him to get away with it. The same way he is trying to figure out how to forgive me for cheating on him and allowing me to get away with it. He's said that many times. If he forgives, then I essentially got away with it. It's kind of true...kind of...

I've been completely loyal and faithful to my BH for twenty years, save those three months in the middle. I never so much as strayed while we were dating and I've never since the A. I have always wanted him, always JUST wanted him. But I got completely lost during that time by the emotional pain of feeling completely unloved, unappreciated, unwanted and abused. If he asks me why I cheated, that is the only answer I have for him. He doesn't want to hear that because he says it lays all the blame on him.

I guess that's the narrative that I told myself for so long, maybe. But it was true at the time as well. I never really desired my AP. He wasn't particularly attractive but he was older (I was 25 at the time and he was 40). I never wanted to cheat. I would practically beg my H to make love to me, I would try to do little things, grab him and lay a big kiss, and he would turn me away. I was angry, hurt and I let go of us.

Now we are both angry and hurt. And part of me wants to let go...not to have an A, but just to be free. But I will walk downstairs in a minute and see him and my heart will melt and I will want to run into his arms. I can't, he wouldn't even let me right now, but I will want to.

MC_Jack posted 1/4/2014 11:10 AM

Well, I think you figured it out in a way...he had become overrun by his feelings of inadequacy. A long time ago. Since you and the M 'stood in the way' of his empowering himself and feeling adequate, he resented you and pushed you away. As a man, I can tell you that there are no shortage of messages that equate sexual conquest and adequacy. You know, the nice guys finish last critique...

not sure that you can do anything other than letting him go find himself...and find what out what is important and meaningful and not...

Mrs Panda posted 1/4/2014 12:42 PM

I disagree that you blame your BH for your choice to cheat. You could have chosen not to be in a relationship in which you receive no respect. You could have chosen divorce. Having a brief PA only made your same problems worse

And what about now? Say he continues to ignore you and do whatever he wants . Will you have anther excuse to cheat ? And so the cycle continues.

My sense is your cheating stems from your own insecurities. So work on that. Start respecting yourself.

HurtsButImOK posted 1/4/2014 14:48 PM

another BS here

WOW, so much of your post resonated.

My x told me I was his first, I no longer believe that based on his actions (if nothing else he is predictable - his actions make me now question me being his 'first')

I was punished the entire duration of our relationship for having a sexual past (one other partner). I broke up with my now x and ended up having sex with another person. X love bombed me, we ended up back together. He knew I slept with someone else this was never hidden. Thus began for me more than a decade and a half of 'punishment'.

He cheated on me repeatedly because he felt 'justified', I stayed because I felt I didn't deserve better. Run, if someone is trying to make you feel guilt for the past, they are punishing you for their guilt. You deserve better.

Work on why you got to the point of cheating. Not for him but so you heal and be a better partner in future.

regret12 posted 1/5/2014 02:05 AM

MC Jack, MrsP and HBIOK, thank you for your feedback. I'm feeling pretty decent tonight. I went out with two of my close girlfriends today and one of them told me pretty much the same thing as MrsP which was good insight and perspective.

Leaving him, divorcing him, choosing to say "hey, I'm not taking this", that was the right way to go. I didn't, I chose the wrong way to handle it and made things much more complicated and backed myself further in to a corner that I had already been in before our marriage even, by having had more experience than him.

I'm back in that same corner and I know how this game is played. I've been here when it wasn't justified and now he truly has justification. We tried to talk a bit this evening when I got home and he said something about having always been the "loving, faithful husband". And I said, no, you haven't been. You cheated on me before we were married, it wasn't intercourse, but it was physical and you had these "dalliances" with multiple girls. Then after we were married, you had two emotional affairs (both included sexual talk/emails and him trying to see them on occasion, though he swears they never did anything but talk). He was immediately irate and said "I want a divorce" I said ok, you better mean that because if we have any chance here I will not live with that as a constant threat when the wrong thing is said.

HurtsButImOK, I feel for you. The pain of having your past held against you when it had nothing to do with the person you're with is completely degrading. I have a hard time believing that my H won't do the same as yours and use this A as the new excuse he needs to punish me and try to get what he wants. I'm going to be an idiot if I let him, I know. MrsP is right, I have to learn to stand up for myself and stop making excuses to justify my actions.

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