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Does the pain ever go away?

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NeedingAdvice posted 2/8/2014 23:30 PM

I was one of those (no doubt annoying) people who truly believed that you could still (in the Year 2013 at the time - with all the failed marriages there are) have an amazing and enduring marriage. I would watch romantic comedies and feel sad because I would think of all those people who would be watching that same movie and feeling like they would never find that kind of love - the kind of love that I had with my husband of almost 21 years.

I don't think anything in my life could ever shock me more or cause as much pain as when he admitted to me on October 7 last year that he had had a drunken one-night stand ten years ago with someone he met at a club. It was like an outer-body experience. I had to go outside and look at my house and the stars just to see if anything in the world had changed because in that instant I knew that my life would never be the same.

Funnily enough my husband was almost as shocked as me that those words had come out of his mouth. He had carried that secret and all that guilt for 10 years and suddenly he decided that he couldn't live that lie for another moment.

I know he is sorry and he wishes he could make it go away, but of course that can never happen. So we are both left to try and rebuild the magic that we had. The counsellor told us that we need to enter a "honeymoon" type phase in order to restore our relationship but the stupid thing about it was that we were already there.

If I focus on what we have and the man he is today, only a fool would walk away, but how do I find a way to be ok with knowing that he didn't love me enough back then to remain faithful? How do I stop those images of him with another woman sneaking into my mind when I least expect it (like when we are making love)? How do I stop feeling angry with that man of 10 years ago for making a selfish decision that would have a lifelong impact? And how do I convince myself that he will never lie to me again?

Jrazz posted 2/9/2014 02:06 AM

How do I stop feeling angry with that man of 10 years ago for making a selfish decision that would have a lifelong impact? And how do I convince myself that he will never lie to me again?

I think that those pieces are different than the "Does the pain ever go away."

The hard truth is that he may lie to you again. The other hard truth is that 20 years from now his selfish decision is still going to have an impact. The key is to get yourself to a place where these things can't hurt you as much - if at all. If you feel like he is PROVING himself to be a trustworthy person, then it's ok to trust again. (And it's ok to "Trust but verify" for as long as you need.) Regarding the impact of his betrayal, you need to ask yourself whether a life with him and your history will be better than a life without him. Without him, you will not harbor the resentment as closely. With him, it can go two ways. You can learn to enjoy the relationship as it is now if you want. It takes a long time after DDay to get there, but it is possible. You're also allowed to consider leaving, and you're not a fool if you do.

Right now, just take some deep breaths and know that you don't have to make any big life decisions right away.

To answer the question in your title - yes, the pain will go away. There will be a scar in its place, but you will be stronger and wiser.


Howie posted 2/9/2014 11:59 AM

I am very sorry you are in this position. The shock, the pain, the immense disappointment, You can ,must ask the questions you do in your last paragraph.I do suggest that the terrible pain prevents any real answer right now ; the pain prevents perspective.Time will lessen the pain and help unfold the answers.
In betrayal the worst,thing is that it is. But I'd say "quantity" also matters.Take a glance at the horrible stories here, years of daily lying and deceit, multiple "other parties". You may(and only you can) find his treason not a definitive deal breaker if he is remorseful,honest (reformed) and has been a good partner otherwise.
I thought I had the perfect partner and a fine relationship. She was the love of my life, period. I had NO defences at D day. 15 years later,I still can't believe it: a two year affair with my "best" friend. The old me died that day. I would rather have died that day, honest. And wanted to die many weeks after.
What's left?Well. I discovered I was more than my pain and my life more than the betrayal. To be fair, she was more than her transgression.With remorse and real reform on her part,I found I still loved her, in time could even still "like" her,enjoy her. I will spare you the long details of the R. She was flawed (more than I knew,guessed) she was human but she wasn't impossibly damaged, selfish or evil. What I had correctly seen in her, her intellect, courage, sense of humour,these things were still valid and valuable.(As are the good characteristic of your husband?)
You are,forever in a different country now. The horrible images will, I hope, be ever less in the
forefront. There will be a legacy of pain. No bromide; your relationship will be less perfect but, at high price,perhaps more real. If your husband behaves and re-earns your trust, it comes down to this, can you love the fully revealed human being?
Pardon me if I was preachy.Best wishes to you.

NeedingAdvice posted 2/16/2014 00:23 AM

Thank you both so much for your thoughts and compassion.

You are right, Howie, the more stories I read on here the more I feel almost guilty for feeling "poor me" because my situation seems to be nothing in comparison. So as awful as it sounds, the stories have made me feel a little better about my own story.

I do believe that my husband is an incredible man despite this incident. He is caring, funny, loving and devoted. He is truly remorseful and in the months since he told me the truth, he has been very supportive. I do love him - flaws and all - and in all honesty he was a selfish man back then. But he is not that man anymore. Since becoming sober four-and-a-half years ago, he has devoted himself to becoming a better man and he is certainly that.

I struggle with the knowledge that I have changed and am no more the trusting, believing soul I once was and perhaps never will be again. I do struggle with the idea - as you said - that my marriage isn't the perfect story I thought it was. I do struggle with the fact that questions, images and thoughts take over when I least expect them to (and certainly don't want them to!). But despite it all, I love this man even more than I did when I married him 21 years ago. I can't imagine anyone else ever living up to him and they way he has made me feel (especially these last four-and-a-half years). I will stay and keep working at it and hope that sometime soon acceptance will wash over me completely so that this whole experience will become part of us, part of a new story that is wonderful because it was strong enough to survive adversity.

mainlyinpain posted 2/16/2014 01:51 AM

So he set out to improve himself four years ago and quit drinking and your marriage was great or greater because of this. And he used to be selfish back then when he was drinking? Perhaps this self-improvement that he started four years ago is still progressing to the point where he felt he also needed to tell you about this. Perhaps you can view it that you were in such a great place with you that he felt that he needed to make this dishonesty go away also. It must have been a hard thing to do but it seems he trusted what you had together enough to reveal it. And he did reveal, you did not have to stumble upon the info or have someone else tell you. Perhaps he was also protecting you from this. It is hard and it will be hard but it seems like you have a good foundation to start your healing. I hope so, be strong.

NeedingAdvice posted 2/16/2014 05:37 AM

Thanks for your kind words - they very much mirror what I have been thinking. You are right - the dishonesty was very difficult for him to live with. When we spoke about this again the other night he could actually recall specific times that he had had to lie to me (with more clarity than I could!) and said how much it had hurt him to do so. The night that he told me about it, I had known that he was down about something and had offered him support saying that he could tell me whatever was on his mind and reassured him that I would be there for him always. Admittedly this wasn't what I expected, and I have to say I remember more clearly the look of pain on his face when he saw my reaction, than I can recall how I actually felt myself upon hearing those words.

I feel so much stronger just reading all of these reassuring words. I wanted to believe in him and in us, but I had read so many stories of BS's that had trusted and had their trust broken over and over again that I didn't want to be naīve either. It is so lovely to read messages that tell me that it is OK to hope for a successful reconciliation

TheWrongedMan posted 2/18/2014 01:48 AM

He must have felt incredibly guilty to confess after 10 years so I would take him at face value. TBH I'm the betrayed one in my relationship and have never done the betraying, but as a man I honestly think that after 10 years I personally would have thought I had gotten away with it and buried it. As I say, he must feel really bad which means that he must also really love you!

Howie posted 2/18/2014 07:44 AM

Needling advice,
I didn't dwell on the absolutely crucial aspect of his confession, as I knew others would.Confession is selfish in that it 'relieves" the confessor but the reason why is-in your likely case, because he does feel bad that there is the violation that is hurting your shared reality.He was willing to take the massive risk to restore real reality between you.That is hugely to his credit, in my view.
It is just possible-I tread gingerly here since this is profoundly personal- you may love him in time more deeply than before. Now you know him in a deeper perspective. He has made a mistake, a big one. And yet your heart...?.
The pain, yes, Real,enduring at some level.The old Greek phrase ... pathe mathos,"knowledge through suffering." Ever best-

Hosea posted 2/18/2014 09:22 AM


The pain will fade. It begins as a consuming agony-- shock, fury, desperation, self-loathing-- but that will fade, provided your husband has been fully honest about the betrayal and assuming there have not been other betrayals during the marriage.

But please do note, as others have, the encouraging facts of your particular circumstance. A drunken ONS is something most here might envy-- because it limits the scope of the betrayal to a single event. It was reckless, but partly brought on by the disinhibition of alcohol. It lacks complexity-- and reduces it to a physical act lacking in emotional intimacy and intellectual calculation.

Plus, he confessed it-- though admittedly, after a very long time.

The pain is horrific, I know, yet there is some consolation in the stark simplicity of it. It is inexcusable, but easily understood. The mind-movies are, for so many here, a special form of torture. It takes a long time to get past them-- but you can. You should share that with your husband, and ask him to picture you in a drunken tumble with some oily Club Lothario so he can at least have a small sense of your deep suffering.

Less easily understood is the fact that he waited so long to confess-- but still, a late confession is better than no confession. It suggests he has learned to value your needs and rights above his own self-interested desire to protect his image. (It just took a while...)

Forgiveness may still be difficult-- because your pain is enormous. You have the right, if you grant it, to exact some promises from him (regarding alcohol, or interaction with other women, etc.) But you also have more reason than most to believe that reconciliation might endure. I hope that might be a consolation to you in this difficult time.

SeanFLA posted 2/18/2014 10:11 AM

Although he did this ten years ago, your Dday is still new to you. And he is going to have to support you through as if this affair was last week. He may sound remorseful, he may sound sincere, but up to the Dday for you he was still selfish. Holding a secret for that long is an incredibly selfish thing to do, regardless of how great you think he is. Do not put him up on this high pedestal right now. He is the same man as before. He has just finally come to terms with it himself. Unfortunately it took him ten years. they say most waywards do not come to terms with it for three years or so.

What he needs to do now if he is truly remorseful and committed is to get into some counseling for himself if he isn't already. I don't agree with your MC. Expecting a "honeymoon" stage immediately following this news is absurd. You can't force yourself into those feelings and the reality is it may take you years to get to that point once again. You said it yourself that it's difficult with the mind movies. I don't believe your MC has enough experience with infidelity for telling you such a thing right now. Best you can do is accept the man your husband was and still is and work with that going forward.

godawgs posted 2/18/2014 14:43 PM

The pain does slowly lesson with time. It was 10 years ago, but you just found out. Right now try and focus on the other things he doing. It will take a long time for him to rebuild that trust with you. He needs to be open and honest about everything. I hope the best for you.

IsthereEVERanend posted 2/19/2014 09:44 AM

I think it depends on the person. For me, the pain of my fww's A is still with both of us after 24 years. Neither of us can believe what she did even at this point in time. It is a road we will travel together for the rest of our lives, even though we love each other very much.

Hoping for the best for you.

NeedingAdvice posted 2/21/2014 00:58 AM

Firstly I apologise for disappearing for the last week. My job requires lots of late nights and little time for anything else.

Firstly Howie and TheWrongedMan, you are right that the confession while no doubt in some way relieved his guilt a little, was an enormous risk for him to take. There was no pressure on him to tell me about it ever. There was no possible way that I would have ever found out. The woman involved didn't know his last name, phone number or where he lived, nor do we live in the area where it happened. He didn't know any details about her either and he certainly had no desire to pursue anything. He tells me that the day after the ONS was probably the worst of his life. He was filled with self-loathing and despair and went to a close friend for advice. His friend had advised him to never speak of the incident again and promised to do the same. My husband I think was grateful for the advice (as I don't think he really had the nerve to own for fear of what it would do to our marriage - and also wanting to save face with family and friends)and his friend has always remained true to his word.

The confession didn't seem to be something he had planned that night, but in talking about it recently he admitted that he had known for a while that it was inevitable. The burden of the lie in what was otherwise such a pure, loving relationship had been weighing ever more heavily on him. Yet once the words were out, he realised the enormity of it and never once pressured me in any way to make a decision about staying. He's always said that as much as he wanted to make our marriage work, he would understand and respect my decision. He just continued to tell me that he believed in our love and would be there waiting for me no matter how long it took me to work through things and he has been true to his word.

So yes, I do believe in his love for me, and Howie you are probably quite right that my love for him will continue to grow through the honesty.

Hosea, I actually do feel grateful for the simplicity of my situation in comparison with that of others. In analysing and reanalysing the hows and whys of this event, it really was something purely physical. I am so grateful that there were no emotions involved. I don't need to worry about the alcohol part anymore at least - he hasn't touched a drink in over four and a half years so that need not be a problem.

SeanFLA, I am trying to accept the man my husband was and is, and perhaps it may seem naīve but I don't believe they are entirely the same person. Sobriety has led him to become a much better man and a far less selfish one. You are right that taking ten years to come clean is ridiculous, and from my ongoing questioning, the best I can understand about that choice is that he seemed to honestly believe that it would hurt me too much and it was more selfish for him to tell as it would relieve his guilt. Anyway, I can't change the way it came out so I have to find a way to live with it. The best way that I have found to get by is to focus on the present and the future because there is no way to make what happened in the past feel right.

IsThereEVERanend and godawgs, thanks for your words of support.

norabird posted 2/21/2014 11:42 AM

The best way that I have found to get by is to focus on the present and the future because there is no way to make what happened in the past feel right.

I think you are on the right track with this. Wishing you and your husband the best as you keep moving forward.

TheWrongedMan posted 2/21/2014 17:32 PM

It sound like your husband loves you and cares about you and you should try. My wife did almost exactly the same thing (but with a man obviously) six weeks ago and we are making progress, so I am confident that you can too. Good luck!

NeedingAdvice posted 3/1/2014 00:58 AM

Hey WrongedMan, hope things work out for you. At least your wife was immediately honest about it. Sounds like you have all the things in place to start working on a successful R.

BtraydWife posted 3/1/2014 12:07 PM

I don't think you ever forget so I think that means the ability for it to hurt forever will always be there. I don't think divorcing does away with that either. You don't forget once you divorce. So the potential memory and therefore, the potential hurt will always exist.

It's really sad.

Howie posted 3/2/2014 07:28 AM

I do believe your thoughtfulness as evidenced in your writing and strength, with your husband' s correct attitude, will see you through this hard time.

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