Recently in IC my C and I have been discussing situations in the past where I have not had appropriate boundaries, what I can learn from that and how to have better boundaries in the future etc etc. These situations cover a whole range, from friends, to work, past relationships as well as my marriage to BH.
There is one situation I am struggling with. Discussing it is bringing back some very painful emotions for me, it feels like I've opened up an old wound.
After the birth of our eldest son, I became very depressed. I was put on medication but really, I was in denial about how bad it was. BH and I muddled along as best we could but my depression was hard for him to live with. We got married six months after our son was born and things were rocky but not too bad.
One night, five weeks after the wedding, he stood up from the sofa, announced he was leaving me and walked out. He was gone for six months and moved back in with his mother.
I hit rock bottom, I was depressed with a young baby and my husband of little over a month had abandoned me when I needed him the most. Obviously, I was desperate for him to come back home, I was still in love with him and wanted to be a family. BH was clearly very confused about his feelings for me, he would come round to visit our son and after we put him to bed, BH and I would have sex, then he would leave again. This was an upsetting time for me.
Along with all of this, BH started seeing a co-worker. He dated her, took her out bowling, to the cinema, dinner etc but kept it hidden from me. I only learned of their relationship after she had spent the day with my infant son when BH took him out for the day. I have no idea how long this relationship lasted. We were separated so it wasn't really any of my business. I focused on myself, having IC and recovering from my depression.
After awhile I got better, I was more like my old self. BH saw the changes in me and begged to come home. It was what I had been dreaming about so I said yes and we got back together. I initiated a conversation about his relationship with his co-worker. He was very defensive, wouldn't give many details but admitted he had sex with her. He said it was just the one time and it was awful. He made it clear she meant nothing to him and so it shouldn't matter to me either and that he wasn't open for another discussion about it although I did tell him at the time I felt like he had cheated on me, he dismissed this calling me silly.
I had had only recently recovered from a serious depression, I was still very fragile and BH had only just returned to the family home. I did not feel safe enough to question him more about his relationship with this woman. I was terrified he would leave again if I made too much fuss.
However, I had all the feelings a typical BS has. The mind movies, the mental comparisons between me and the OW, picturing him with her and the rest. I kept it all to myself, BH and I have never really spoken about it since that initial conversation until recently.
BH and I differ in opinion on this. He says he didn't cheat because we were separated. He had left me and had made it perfectly clear he didn't want to be with me so I have no right to feel it was cheating.
I say that it was cheating because although we were separated our marriage was far from over, he was still having sex with me and he knew I was still emotionally invested in our relationship.
So which is it?
When BH talks about my A he sometimes makes comments about how our sex life isn't special anymore because I slept with someone else. I am remorseful about this, I apologise and comfort him. But part of me thinks 'hang on a second, YOU slept with someone else too. Where was all your remorse about robbing me of our innocence and specialness five years ago?'
I want to make this very clear, I do not feel that his relationship with the co-worker in ANY way justifies my own A.
BH and I have recently discussed this issue. He was very defensive about it, shouting that it wasn't cheating, I had no right to feel like it was, that I was disgusting trying to compare the two (I have never compared the two, my A was much worse, I've only ever said the feelings I had afterwards were similar to his feelings now so I could relate)
I just don't know what to do. Part of me feels very angry that he minimised and completely refused any discussion about his relationship with this woman. I cannot imagine doing that to BH about my own A.
Am I a complete bitch?
Chin up. Unwavering. Fight. I can do this.
Afterwards I just get a bit sad because I need that too after I found out he slept with someone else.
[This message edited by BrokenButTrying at 7:06 PM, March 27th (Thursday)]
I think he was already seeing his co-worker before he left, and that's WHY he left. His anger and defensiveness only makes me think that's EXACTLY what happened. If you weren't divorced, it was cheating. Have you discussed this in MC?
When you discussed it recently was it mixed in with other A discussion? I think it might help to separate the topics and hopefully you can try to express yourself calmly and say that you are not necessarily accusing him of anything at this point besides hurting your feelings (which sounds minimizing, but in a basic sense that's what happened. And he can't rationally tell you how you can or cannot feel).
I don't know if that all makes sense, or is even possible because of your separation, but I'm just so sorry it's been so tough for you. We joined around the same time and I can relate to a lot of your posts so I've been really pulling for you. Hugs.
Even pushing aside the cheating for a moment--have you two ever discussed how YOU felt, when he abandoned you at such a critical time? As a wife and a brand new mom, who was battling PPD (a pretty serious thing), you depended on his support. I imagine that his leaving would feel like a major betrayal, in and of itself.
Add in the sex with another woman while he was away, and that feeling of betrayal would understandably intensify (when you say separated...were you legally separated? Did he ever say, "hey, I'm planning on having sex with other women--feel free to have sex with other men?" Did you have any rules at all for the separation?)
I'm struggling here, on your behalf, with the fact that he was okay coming over to have sex with you at night, yet couldn't face you during the day or help you with HIS NEWBORN CHILD. I think the fact that you were a) still married, b) from what I can tell, weren't signing divorce papers or talking to lawyers about divorce, and c) still having sex gave you every reason to expect continued fidelity on his part. He didn't say he was leaving to be with another women. He said he was leaving because he couldn't take the stress of dealing with your depression and newborn , which, wow, must have hurt like hell. I want to go back and give that new mama a big hug.
Someone above said that he might have been in the affair prior to moving out. I have no idea if that's true, but it's definitely a possibility worth exploring.
Remember--every marriage is different, with different expectations and belief systems. The most important thing is that YOU feel like your husband betrayed your commitments to each other, not what any of us think. That is how you feel, and should be a topic open to discussion in your marriage.
No, you don't sound like a bitch to me at all. You sound like someone who is hurt and confused and worrying if she is being gaslighted.
In essence--you sound like a BS.
[This message edited by SpotlessMind at 11:14 PM, March 27th (Thursday)]
I've never thought he was cheating before he left me. I'd never considered it a possibility but I've given it some thought. I feel it is unlikely the relationship with his co-worker started before he left. It hurts to admit there was obviously some physical attraction but I don't think he would have acted on it before leaving me. Plus, I remember a lot about his behaviour during that time and none of it points to it starting while he was living with me.
Jovie - None of the discussion about this issue has been mixed in with my A. I've been very careful to keep them separate because I don't want it to appear like I'm using one to justify the other. The way I've tried to tackle it is to explain that I can relate to a lot of what he's feeling because I have also gone through it and so I feel remorseful about having caused him the same pain.
I have told him that the technicalities aren't important, what matters is how I felt but that's just been met with anger because he thinks I'm minimising his own feelings about my A.
SpotlessMind - When we separated before it was very informal. Nothing legal about it at all, no lawyers, no rules set out or anything. His explanation was that he didn't like the person I'd become (because of the depression) and I needed to fix myself before he could consider being with me again. Throughout the whole separation I always felt he would come back.
We have discussed him walking out at such a difficult time quite a lot over the years. I did feel very betrayed and I was devestated by him leaving, when you throw in the fact he had sex with someone else well that just rubs salt in the wound. His explanation was that we were very young and he just couldn't cope with it.
Our marriage has never really been a safe place for me to discuss how I feel about his behaviour during the first two years of our relationship. There is other stuff, mainly to do with drugs and him covering up his using that was also distressing for me. He gaslights a lot. He is very defensive about that time in our lives and I know that's because he feels ashamed.
The whole thing is such a mess. Our M issues before my A were pretty huge, my A is a shit storm within itself. I am fully committed to R but not resolving our marriage issues from before my A is a dealbreaker for me.
I am fully committed to R but not resolving our marriage issues from before my A is a dealbreaker for me.
And there you go. Those are some pretty big issues you brought up, and it's absolutely understandable that you need some resolution on them.
[This message edited by SpotlessMind at 11:43 PM, March 27th (Thursday)]
You have your deal breaker. Work on you and your healing and your boundaries and stick to them. Hugs to you, I can feel your pain and I am sorry for it.
My A was disgusting, I brought the OM into our house, into our bed, just being in the house is a trigger for BH. The OM also spent time with our kids but we knew OM socially so this wasn't unusual. After Dday BH watched as the OM posted photos of me and a video of me having sex with him on Facebook in an attempt to make BH throw me out the house so OM could be with me
I am so ashamed of my behaviour. Because of that, I am trying to fix my broken. I am working my god damned arse off in IC, reading every spare second I have, using SI and learning loads from it, I'm revisiting FOO issues, examining my behaviour stretching back years, building my boundaries, learning new coping mechanisms, changing habits of a lifetime, building new walls, turning myself into a safe and emotionally healthy person. Hence my username, Broken But Trying. It's hard work.
It feels like a kick in the teeth. Back then I had no idea what BH should be doing to make our M a safe place for me, I thought I just had to put up and shut up. He should have been doing everything I'm doing now. I can't understand why he wouldn't want to make that effort and make those changes, not for me but for himself and our children. Our kids deserve parents that are the very best version of themselves as possible.
My shame and my remorse drive me forwards in wanting a better future for myself and my family. It makes me sad that BH didn't have that motivation. His shame just makes him defensive.
Second, I also hear that you are very remorseful and want to help him get past it and would do most anything.
I would suggest that for now you put his past issue aside though, to be revisited at a later date. No you are not letting him get away with it, but his pain is so fresh and honestly there is nothing you can say that will help him feel related to. Your task right now should be to help him get over this A, and by doing this you will be showing him how to help you get over your pain.
You are already showing him how by owning your stuff, show him how awesome you are by being the bigger person and getting him through this. Then later when he see's that you were a superstar and helped him get passed it, you should revisit it. I know you want to just get all the problems dealt with all at once but if he was not inclined to deal with it before, he is even less inclined now. But when he sees how great you were at helping him get over it, he will be more likely to want to help you.
I say this not out of judgement, or just putting my 2 cents, but I have been there. My H had an EA, Porn addiction, treated me like crap, and my self-esteem took hit after hit. I didn't realize how broken I was, and what little I thought of myself and when outside validation came I ate it up but I really wanted it from my H. Well he would tell me "I am not inclined to help rebuild trust now" now being after my A. It hurt, I hurt. But we did get past it, I finally tried focusing on him, being remorseful, not running from it. I started an apology journal, I would write how sorry I was, I wrote him an apology letter, he needed to hear that I was sorry, not what he did to make me feel angry at him and led to our problems.
My point is focus on him now, you will have a chance to get your hurts dealt with when he see's how its done. My H apologized 10 years after his A, he called me crazy and told me it never happened for 10 Mothaphuckin years! He finally came clean, told me everything and apologized. He apologizes to me frequently now for his past treatment of me. We didn't get there just a few months out, and me focusing on his betrayals would only set us back. But here we are today, more in love, and more considerate than ever (shoot, I get my way more now than I ever did before, he wants to spoil me now, and tells me he never wants to live without me), if anyone said this would be our situation today 6 years ago I would have laughed in their face. But here I am...
[This message edited by stupidgurl at 11:05 AM, March 28th (Friday)]
2002/3 (him) EA
Tog. 16 yrs, Marr. 15 and counting!
I can relate to a lot of what he's feeling because I have also gone through it and so I feel remorseful about having caused him the same pain.
I talked to BH and explained that right now we will focus on his healing and I will support him every second. When we start R and begin MC we will explore the pre-A marriage issues in more detail.
Stupidgurl, I think you're right. If I show him what remorse looks like and what to do to help your spouse heal, he'll know what to do when we start to treat my wounds.
[This message edited by BrokenButTrying at 5:24 AM, March 29th (Saturday)]