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Beating myself up a bit over missing the ultimate clue

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obliquestrat posted 1/24/2014 08:18 AM

My wife was in an EA with a coworker, escalating to suggestive IMs. Then texts. Jokey stuff about suggestive job titles, not "I'm gonna do this to you" type stuff. They took it to text messages. Then they thought better of that, and exchanged email addresses - the first *major* inflection point.

She changed her Gmail password. I sync her calendar on my phone, and I'm her backup password account, so it emailed me. I was on the computer at my desk, she was on her phone right in front of me on the couch. I asked her if she changed it, thinking it might be a hack request. She said that she screwed something up.

I told her I connect with her calendar and everything else, and to tell me the new password so that I could update it. She did so immediately. I even went so far as to assure her that I don't read her emails, it's just for calendar stuff. And I didn't really think anything of it, because I trusted her completely.

So now I have this email with proof of the turning point: Dec 21 2013, at 6:47PM. And I think about it and look at it, and grind over how if I had thought to check afterward, it would have just been sexting. It wouldn't have escalated to making out, which develops a narrative of clear intent for fulfilling the PA. And that it would be nearly as "serious" as what actually happened, and still enough of a crisis to warrant change.

Except, with a far greater ability for me to get over it. I know it's not my fault, but I still feel like I had our entire future in my hands and didn't even notice.

william posted 1/24/2014 08:45 AM

i KNEW something happened on sept 11 2011. i knew it. i didnt know what but i knew something. she went out as normal but instead of coming back at midnight she came back at 0430. she was angry at me. screamed at me. really hateful stuff. i withdrew from her. looking back now I KNOW this was the night she decided to cheat for the first time, her first affair (out of 8 or so, including one long term).

i knew something was wrong and didnt do anything. hindsight is perfect, neh? dont beat yourself up over it. we are all perfect using hindsight and none of us is perfect without it.

adriana1980 posted 1/24/2014 08:46 AM

Obliquestrat, don't beat yourself up about it. You haven't done anything wrong, you just trusted your wife like a husband should. The problem is that she has given herself the green light to have an affair with a co-worker without giving it much consideration how it was going to impact her family. It's all on her.

[This message edited by adriana1980 at 8:48 AM, January 24th (Friday)]

Gemstone posted 1/24/2014 08:47 AM

I am so sorry this has happened to you. Don't blame yourself for missing the clues, I think we all do as we cannot believe that the person we love would do this to us. My husband was texting the other women in front of me and in bed next to me and I never thought a thing of it. I could easily have checked phone records, even though he wouldn't let me have his actual phone, but it never occured to me. I still feel angry and stupid and annoyed with myself for missing the blindingly obvious.
Does your wife know that you know?
I am still in the early stages of recovery and attempting R so I can't give much advice but I would say as much as you may shout and scream, dont make any major decisions until you have time to recover a little yourself, as I find myself a little calmer about it now - although still hurting (7 months from D day) and can make decisions based on what I really want rather than a gut reaction that would have happened at the time.

Do take care of yourself and I hope that it works out for you, whatever YOU decide to do.

Pass posted 1/24/2014 08:55 AM

If you had ever thought there were any possibility of her cheating on you, you would have immediately caught this. But you trusted her.

The fact that you missed this just shows how open and trusting you are, and what a louse she is for betraying that trust.

This is all on her, friend.

norabird posted 1/24/2014 08:57 AM

Please don't blame yourself. Most people know something is off...but when you are trusting, of COURSE you aren't to blame! The relationship assumes trust is there and that's a normal expectation. Does it mean getting taken advantage of in these cases? Unfortunately, yes. But it is HER decision to be inappropriate and lack boundaries that is wrong, not your lack of vigilance. Give yourself a break on this, as you have enough on your plate with enough to handle already!

lost_in_toronto posted 1/24/2014 09:08 AM

And I think about it and look at it, and grind over how if I had thought to check afterward, it would have just been sexting. It wouldn't have escalated to making out, which develops a narrative of clear intent for fulfilling the PA. And that it would be nearly as "serious" as what actually happened, and still enough of a crisis to warrant change.

On the other hand, if you had caught it at the sexting phase the narrative would not have reached a conclusions and you might have been left wondering what would have happened if you hadn't discovered it. In other words, the "would it have turned physical?" what ifs may have driven you crazy. Your WW could have downplayed everything by saying that the sexting was "just for fun" and she never had any serious intent to pursue a physical affair. Perhaps that would have been easier for you to get over, but you also would have been missing a big piece of the picture.

I still feel like I had our entire future in my hands and didn't even notice.

I really do understand how you feel. My WS had his affair when he was away from home working for the summer. At one point, right before the affair turned physical, we were playing around with the idea of me flying or driving up for a visit with him. Flying was so expensive, and he said he didn't want me driving through such an isolated area alone. We weighed some pros and cons and decided we could wait the six weeks he had left of his trip to see each other.

I spent a lot of time that first year wishing I had gone on that visit. I don't doubt I would have recognized something was really wrong between us, and that something else entirely was going on between them. Maybe I would have had the chance to stop the affair before it turned physical. I still wish sometimes that I had pushed for that visit to happen.

But honestly, I don't think it would have mattered if I visited or not. They were on a path towards destruction, and there wasn't much I could do to stop it.

Just like I think that even if you had found those emails in December and confronted your WW, the affair could still have gone underground and become physical in spite of your knowledge.

I think one of the devastating truths that affairs reveal is that we only ever hold our own future in our hands. The future, singular, that is. I believed once that there was an "our" future and that "our" died on dday for me. What I'm trying to say is, it is comforting to believe that you could have changed the "our future" in your case with a little foreknowledge. But your WW was already intent on her path.

I hope something in this meandering post resonates and helps. Good luck.

spond posted 1/24/2014 09:13 AM

We all had "Blind Trust", something that will never happen for me again.

We have all looked back and played the "what-if" game countless times. Focus on the present, because that is all we can control(sometime).

[This message edited by spond at 9:14 AM, January 24th (Friday)]

strongerdaybyday posted 1/24/2014 09:25 AM

We have all looked back and played the "what-if" game countless times

I know I did. My fWH met the OW at our daughter's 1st bday. I wonder - what if we went somewhere else to celebrate? What if - when my brother in law warned me he thought H and OW were talking to much and were too friendly - I took it seriously. Nope, me and my sisters laughed at the thought of fWH cheating on me with the OW because (not to sound conceited) but I was prettier then her (I know it's not about looks but I know that NOW - I thought if he had an A she would be a KNOCK OUT). Anyway - you can what if or beat yourself up to death. It's pointless. She made choices that had nothing to do with you - and, no matter what - it was NEVER your fault or your job to catch it. You were committed in your marriage - she should have been as well.

Hang in there. And keep posting - this is a safe place

emotionalgirl posted 1/24/2014 10:41 AM

Don't beat yourself up, it isn't worth it, as you can't change anything that has happened now. We have all played the what if game I am sure. I myself looked back at my WH actions during the time of his EA and can pin point the times when I missed clues and should have known something was wrong. I thing the reason that many of us miss said clues is that none of us truly believe that our H orW, our lover, friend and confident would ever look outside our relationship. We all trust so blindly in our love and believe our relationship will never be the one affected by wrong we were. I think that they should teach all young people that every relationship risks being affected by cheating!

Remember yesterday......
Live in today......
Dream of tomorrow......

May you find your chosen path and may god walk with you on it

peoplepleaser posted 1/24/2014 15:07 PM

I do the same thing in my head. But the "if only" and "I should have" statements are our lame attempts to feel like we had some control over the situation. And what would that have changed? The level of deception? Made the type of betrayal more palatable? I'm not so sure. There is nothing we could have done or not done to change the outcome. Cheating is about the cheater, period. Like the others said, quit beating yourself up over it. It is in no way related to your inability to snoop when you think you should have. That's what's most infuriating I think. That they took advantage if out trust and kindness. I'm sorry you are here. Hugs to you.

WarpSpeed posted 1/24/2014 15:53 PM

Mine was Christmas. That year she was completely disengaged and uninterested in doing the holiday cards, putting up the tree or doing Christmas shopping. I knew it was weird, I just didn't realize the cause and never made the connection.

In the end, you'll sort through what you can work past, but don't make your own level of awarenes part of the equation. That's not on you. You're not supposed to have to have spidey senses to have a good marriage.

hang in there

RealityStinks posted 1/24/2014 15:58 PM

Man, you trusted your wife. Stop beating yourself up.

Heck, I felt mine detaching in March of last year. Did I ever think to look at the phone bill, even after she had to add 1000 texts a month twice, nope. I sure didn't. I could have put a stop of all this crap right then, but it never occurred to me to look.

It happens to all of us.

Hang in there buddy.

ReunitePangea posted 1/24/2014 16:03 PM

Obliquestrat - if the version of events you have been now turns out to be the truth you sniffed out your affair faster than the vast majority people on SI. You shouldn't beat yourself up anyways on this stuff.

My missing clue was when I forgot to ask my WW when we first started dating if she already had a boyfriend. I missed every clue from that point on for another 12+ years until that relationship with that same boyfriend ended on Dday. We all miss stuff when we are think we are in a honest and trusted relationship - that is normal.

Hurthalo posted 1/24/2014 16:22 PM

I did the same. I can't believe I never noticed the sheer volume of texting that was being done in front of my face at home.

I even made a few comments like 'this guy needs to leave work at work and stop pestering you about it', and was assured it was all work related. All I had to do was grab the phone once and it would have all come to light. Sadly, the notion that my wife would be dating another married man didn't even enter my head.

It's absolutely not your fault for trusting mate.

obliquestrat posted 1/25/2014 11:39 AM

Wow, so many kind, thoughtful, and well - painful - responses.

william, it's just like that - knowing it was then. It's been confirmed by her and the OM too. Having an exact timestamp for it is really hard.

adriana1980, I "know" she owns it, but knowing doesn't necessarily translate to feelings. I know it's part of the standard process, I just really never thought I'd be able to relate to any semblance of the victim second-guessing themselves.

Gemstone, yeah, she knows, we're beginning R. The larger details are in the "Caught wife early, struggling with what would have happened" thread. I've definitely had to fight off some hasty decisions, and that's one of the things that has thankfully gotten easier with each passing day.

pass, yep. It's just knowing that you literally handed them the knife, then turned around so that they could stab. I've never trusted anyone like her, and now it's harder to picture trusting anyone like that, ever again. I don't want to ice up like that, though.

norabird, boundaries in particular are a big part of the root here I think. We have the "Boundaries in Marriage" book, looking forward to getting into that.

lost_in_toronto, fair point on what-iffing the what-ifs. I'm sure I'm vulnerable to any/all of it, and that there probably is no such thing as a "perfect" time to catch it. That I caught it rather than being told is pretty hard in and of itself, though. I think that's the source of "what if" - I can't picture saying, "what if she didn't stop here and tell me about the affair?"

spond, yeah, truly blind trust is toast. I still have hope for managed trust: her cancer is in remission, she's an alcoholic with xx days sober, that sort of thing. We know it's in her now, she proved it with her actions. She has to actively manage it, and I have to trust that she's actively managing it. If I can trust that part, that's still a potential for strong trust. Some day. I hope.

strongerdaybyday, wow, being flat-out warned by his own brother and dismissing it sounds especially brutal. And like you have pretty, I have other assumptions about fidelity. All of them were assumptions though, not actively-managed expectations. Thanks so much for sharing, you're a strong one.

emotionalgirl, I totally agree about teaching. We have friends that are about to marry, and I'm already dreaming of having "the talk" with them at some point when it seems appropriate and we've healed enough to be able to share it with someone like a mutual couple that means a lot to us. Anyone can get hit by this, anyone. Just looking at the numbers, it should be obvious, but we willfully ignored it.

peoplepleaser, I do agree that the point is that it was apparently always in her, and that it just hadn't be triggered. If I knew that my best friend would shoot my children if I said a certain sequence of words, it wouldn't be enough to decide, "well I just won't say those words - no big deal!"

WarpSpeed, holidays here too. I also ran into the stat that the majority of divorce filings happen in January. It's crazy to me how many times in this that both of us have ended up being a perfect-fit statistic.

RealityStinks, it's just like that, the +1000 texts things. I really know better. But I "know" that shouldn't matter. We're both working on her taking more ownership of it, so that I don't carry this particular element around with me.

ReunitePangea, it really does seem that I'm on the rare end of both discovery and action. But everyone's bottom is still bottom, however low it might or might not be relative to anyone else. If I hear about a single drunken kiss and someone is still crushed, I think this will help me understand so much better. Your situation, I just can't imagine. You're so strong.

Hurthalo, I had similar observations about a spike in phone usage, which I only notice now in retrospect. So much in retrospect...

Anyway, wall of text there, sorry for that. Just wanted to give attention to every response. Hopefully I didn't miss any :) You're all a great help.

Deanna posted 1/25/2014 22:37 PM

Talk about blind trust. My husband said the OW's name in his sleep. We all worked together so I thought nothing of it. Should have bee. A HUGE red flag.

StruckNumb posted 1/29/2014 00:28 AM

I think perhaps we all weren't able to handle the truth at that moment. I remember looking at my WH's phone about 3 years before dday and seeing all these weird tasks to be checked off in his reminder folder and they were "I love you" etc, every last one of them were romantically inclined. And I asked him what they meant and how they got in his phone and he said the phone came with them already prelisted. Would you believe I actually accepted this as the truth? Yes, I did at that moment. I dropped the subject. Even though I checked his phone because I suspected something, then when I found it, I decided to deny reality. I simply just could not handle then what I was seeing. Looking back, I shake my head and wonder why.

[This message edited by StruckNumb at 12:30 AM, January 29th (Wednesday)]

Tred posted 1/29/2014 00:44 AM

There is a clinical name for it - Truth Bias. Stop beating yourselves up, happens to practically every BS here.

This is from Psychology Today:

People want to believe others despite evidence to the contrary. This is a normal reaction because, in general, people tend to believe others. This phenomenon, referred to as Truth Bias, allows society and commerce to run efficiently. Absent Truth Bias, people would spend an inordinate amount of time checking information provided by others. Truth Bias also serves as the social default. Relationships with friends and business colleagues would become strained if their veracity were constantly questioned. Faced with minor discrepancies in a story, people tend to excuse away inconsistencies because they want to believe the person who is telling the story. Truth Bias provides liars with an advantage because people want to believe what they hear, see, or read. The effect of Truth Bias is stronger if the person telling the story is a close friend, a spouse, or our children. Truth Bias diminishes when people become aware of the possibility of deception. The best defense against Truth Bias is judicious skepticism.

Concise version is we believed the people we loved. We gave them the benefit of the doubt. They abused that. It's like faking out a dog by pretending to throw a stick - you fooled a dog.

Gator8 posted 2/2/2014 06:32 AM

Same Here Was Texting Her Right Next To Me. Said It Was Work Bugging Him. He'd Even Mentioned Her To Me Saying She Had A Thing For Him But Don't Worry She's Fat & Ugly. 2 Weeks Later He Left Me For Her. 3 Months Of Hell, Them Breaking Up, Him Coming Home Getting Back Together, Him Leaving, She Even Faked A Pregnancy. Its Been 2.5 Yrs, Still Struggling.

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