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The "whys" of my H's Lta--long

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catlover50 posted 4/8/2014 14:17 PM

This is perhaps just therapeutic for me, but may perhaps resonate with others or engender some insights. My H had a LTA from 5/07-3/11.

Like most of us I was consumed with "why" after Dday. Finding SI was very helpful. I read every book I could find, read online, went to MC and IC. Found out about my H's CSA (about as bad as it could be) for the first time. Read many more books. You get it. My H wrote a very long email detailing his understanding of why at about 5 months which was quite insightful and helpful.

I have continued to go over all of this in my mind, more than I would like to frankly. My IC calls this developing "mastery" of what happened and that it is necessary. I continue to talk intermittently with my H about it. And I think that I am comfortable with my understanding at this time.

My H had a crappy childhood. This left him with a fear of intimacy, an inability to attach, fear of control, poor self-esteem, conflict avoidance and selfishness and the ability to compartmentalize. He also was surrounded by infidelity (including his parents and every other role model) and hypersexuality. Sex to him was no big deal. Intimacy was the big deal. He hid this quite well under a façade of competence and quiet confidence. The warning signs were all there for me, however, if I had been wise enough to see them. I had come from a background of no experience with infidelity or even divorce, and had had one previous sexual partner. Sitting duck!

I did notice his selfishness, of course, and tried to get him to address it, along with his tendency to be withdrawn and fear of control. No avail.

We started our careers at the same time and both did well, although I proceeded more slowly so that I could have more time with our children. His took off and he was a big success, very popular and got a lot of kudos. He became increasingly involved in his career, especially after he became a partner. I would talk to him about his priorities and he would always say that the family was his priority and I would ask if he was living his priorities and he would admit that he was not, but he would never change. I even asked if he thought he was doing a good job as a husband and father and he said not really. But that seemed to be acceptable to him. Anytime I would address these sorts of things he would get defensive and withdraw and typically I just left it alone and made the best of it. I took care of almost everything at home and worked hard to make our lives interesting, exciting and fun.

At the time that my H started his LTA he had recently built a new facility for his practice, basically on his shoulders (although I increased my work hours and gave up our savings of course!) and was under a lot of stress. Stress and long hours, fatigue and then, of course, alcohol after these long days and nights, often working alone with the future OW. Elements of the "perfect storm".

He also suffered intermittently with depression, which he was loathe to admit. He describes feeling a "hole" inside himself at the time.

He admits now that he himself and his work were his top priority and that when he went to work he was in his "work world" and rarely thought about home and family. He was the boss, the top dog, the one everyone looked up to and admired. So when one of his employees started having marital troubles and needed career advice and started mirroring that he could save her he ate it up. He describes her adulation as "almost constant". And since he was in the habit of separating his worlds it wasn't as hard as it should have been to cross that line. There was a little guilt at first, especially as he would return home, but that was quickly put into a box. The attachment to me that should have made this difficult was just not present, but the compartmentalization sure was. He actually describes himself as feeling like another person at these times (possibly a little disassociation).

The sex was interesting enough at first. (He has steadfastly refused to use words like exciting, passionate or fun). He remembers after a few weeks it lost the "newness" and after about 6 months he was wishing it was over (in fact he thought initially it would be a short term thing). But she was needing his advice and that continued to feed him. She had gone out on her own and needed lots of handholding (at this point her marriage had ended). He describes the sex as "adequate" at best and that was primarily when it was new. After that it became what he can only describe as a compulsion (with the help of his IC) or a dirty habit. The sex was never the focus; it was primarily the boost he got from being needed and praised--the mirror. In fact, after the first few months there were weeks or even months that went by without his stopping by late at night after an emergency call (which was how it typically went).

Since he was so good at compartmentalizing he behaved no differently at home. I have read here a lot about WS's rewriting their marital history and all to assuage their guilt and have wondered what it said about my H that he didn't do that. He managed to treat me the same and behave the same. He never missed a trick at home; there was never a time he "went out for socks". He was always home on weekends and holidays, there at all the kid's events. We still went on our romantic getaways where we would have sex three times a day. He admits now that he didn't think of himself as a liar and cheater, or even that he was having an affair! He just put it all away. He put her away too, which is one saving grace. He didn't think for a minute that he loved her and didn't try to woo her. He felt no respect for her and made it a point not to give her so much as a card, or even a text on a holiday or take her for a single date (I think he was trying to keep her in her place). He knew that she was so lonely and desperate that she would take what he would give. When she started pressuring him and threatening to tell me and saying that he was treating her like a whore he compartmentalized that too. He knew she would be nice again, and somehow when she was he would go back down that path. The A was becoming progressively more toxic and "sick" (as he called it) and he had only had sex with her twice in the months before DDay #1 and in fact the last time he had gone to her house he just left. So he was more than ready to give it up. Dday #1, in March of 2011 was when I got the phone records and saw all the calls and texts for the last two years, mostly during work but way too many to be acceptable.

But, unfortunately, he wasn't ready to tell the truth. That took Dday #2 and the anonymous letter.

So now, for the first time in his life there is introspection. He is humble and no longer trying to protect himself and feels safe trusting me. He has learned what true intimacy and attachment can feel like and that fills the hole that he felt inside. He has changed his priorities for real this time and has the two of us inside a protected circle. He has learned the joys in giving and sharing in the responsibilities of a life together. He has become equally and fully invested in a relationship for the first time in his life.

And he is finally happy and at peace. And now, most of the time, so am I.

If you made it this far, whew! Thanks for listening!

rachelc posted 4/8/2014 14:36 PM

This is so weird: I was just looking at all WAL's posts and there was the discussion of Why? You posted and I see here, like 20 seconds later, how you followed his advice and looked at how your husband's soul, after years of FOO issues and crappy coping mechanisms, could have gotten to this place, the same place where empathy comes out you remember that thread? From October....

This is good.

I apply it to my own situation and I can't get that empathy.

Crushed15Feb13 posted 4/8/2014 14:43 PM

Thank you, Catlover.

I'm having such a hard time lately and reading this gave me some much needed perspective. MY WW seems seems similar in many ways. She uses the term "perfect storm", that she felt like a different person during the A, mastered compartmentalization in childhood. And my background is like yours - no divorce, no infidelity, and I was quite inexperienced when I got married. I was completely blindsided by OBS's call revealing the affair. And it took an additional 11 months for the real truth and extent to come out - I had been given a whitewashed version to save her reputation and limit the hurt to my feelings (so she hoped).

How did you get from DDay #2 to where you are now? My WW has been to IC about a dozen times, feels she understands her FOO issues and is ready to recommit and promises it'll never happen again. But I'm still reeling from the revelations of DDay #2, and now I don't know what to believe anymore.

Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

Neverwudaguessed posted 4/8/2014 14:56 PM

Wow; so much of what you say about your marriage and your husband's affair would apply easily to my own situation. The foo issues from infidelity by mother to conflict avoidance and an inability to allow himself t trust and connect. My husband was selfish too, as he could never look past protecting himself. He too had a tremendous tendency to withdraw and had a fear of loss of control, especially emotionally. He would not allow himself to be vulnerable. He too was very successful at work, and appeared very confident. He continued to receive promotion after promotion. What I had NO idea about is that the lack of connection and loneliness that I was feeling, he was feeling too but he was not equipped to even identify it, much less figure out how to fix it. My IC says there was no way he could until he hit bottom in the form of some crisis or another.

My husband has similar views on the affair sex. He calls it vanilla and not anything passionate or exciting, no matter how much or often I press him on this issue. He too avoided any wooing, card writing, anything romantic in any way, although his words said something very different during the last week of the affair.

It sounds like this has really become the catalyst for the two of you to have a truly connected, loving marriage and a truly satisfying life together. You may have gone through your whole life with the old marriage, never knowing such a life could be possible for you. Maybe that is at least one consolation??? It is good to hear how far you have come and in a way a relief that the hard work offered enough of a pay off for you. Hope is a beautiful thing!
Thank you for sharing.

catlover50 posted 4/8/2014 15:10 PM

Thanks everyone; can't believe you all made it through that!

Rachelc I do remember that post. But I need to keep reminding myself!

Crushed it has been a long road for me. I tend to be very positive and tried for a while to avoid the pain but it kept rearing it's head. Then it took a while for me to trust that the changes I am seeing in my H are real and lasting; that just takes time. I restarted my own IC (she told me that instead of just dropping in now and then I should go regularly and she was right). My H and I have done a ton of really fun things together and are building lots of positive memories and that helps. I no longer accept any defensiveness or rationalization from my H so we still sometimes have "discussions" but we keep improving our communication skills.

Neverwudaguessed; I am actually grateful that we have had the chance to have the M that we have now (not grateful for the A, of course, just the chance!) If I had the choice of no A pain but the same marriage I wouldn't choose it. Plus I love my H enough to want him to be happy and fulfilled as well, and he just wasn't.

sunvalley posted 4/8/2014 15:18 PM

I feel like I could have written what you did. The childhood issues and upbringing, the ways he deals with his life and was seeking validation due to low self esteem, all of it. I never suspected a thing, he was always home on time, loving, etc...not a single indication and he was never unhappy at home, he was unhappy within himself. I feel relief to see this post because I do find people have a hard time understanding how the A wasn't passionate, enjoyable even or about sex or emotional. He says he was disgusted with himself and his choice of people, but unable to process any of it during the As (compartmentalizing I'm assuming). IC has labelled it a type of self punishment similar to overeating, shopping addiction, etc...he wanted to dull his emotional turmoil and become the low person he felt inside. He didn't care who he had an A with, they meant nothing to him and often were much older women who didn't have anything adventurous to offer sexually (which was my fear at first). In fact he found people with similar low self esteem were willing to do more for him than a confident woman would, and boost his ego further. I'm so sorry you've been through this too - I feel it's a double edged sword, on the one hand I'm thankful the As werent' about attraction or sex but on the other hand it feels that much more wasteful of what we have to risk it all for people he wouldn't even date if he were single. I know this is an illness within him, but I also know that it's not an excuse. He still made these choices for a long time without seeking help, and his choice of numbing himself did 'bring me down' with him so that's a hard pill to swallow but it comes with time and understanding. Thank you for posting this, and hopefully it helps to know you're not alone...I know it certainly has to me, I don't want to be the blind wife who believes everything he tells me, but equally I do understand how in pain he was and while this was a horrible outlet for it and he should have handled it differently, I do have empathy for him because I know he is hurting too.

catlover50 posted 4/8/2014 15:33 PM


Interestingly my H actually said the words he wouldn't have dated her if he was single. He said that he thinks he could have picked someone better out of any bar. I sure wish I could tell the OW that! She did make noise that he was "never going to leave his wife" (to which he claims to have agreed--actually he passed a lie detector on this--and that he loved his wife) but it would make me grin for her to know that if he had left me he wouldn't have wanted her!

The fact that people who have this particular type of A do it for someone they don't care about just shows, to me anyway, just how broken they were and how much it was not (even in their minds) about their M or their spouse. That's how I have come to view it.

Neverwudaguessed posted 4/8/2014 15:35 PM

Plus I love my H enough to want him to be happy and fulfilled as well, and he just wasn't.

That made me cry. I feel the same way about my husband; I have always had the desire for him to be able to appreciate and get out of life what I feel like I am able to do so easily. I always understood that the stable childhood I had and the chaotic dysfunction that was his childhood gave us such disparate abilities to get out of life what we deserved to, and I gave up trying to get my husband to work for the ability to get out of life what he deserved because he had so compartmentalized his own feelings and detached so well that we both thought he didn't need to live life connected. To see him in crisis during the affair and realize that he was so empty and dissatisfied made me realize that we now had the opportunity to find the life that we deserved together, a life he hadn't know that he was missing out on or wanted. I was so sad to realize just how broken he was, and while this is the worst hurt I have ever experienced in my life, I am happy to know that my husband is on this journey to become a healthy connected partner, no longer empty, and solitary. Maybe a perspective which comes from having an intact, fairly "normal" (of course everything is relative) childhood?

meplusfour posted 4/8/2014 15:36 PM

Thank you catlover50. I am 13 months from DDay and have been struggling with the "why" of my fWH LTA. At this time, I am having trouble trusting that the changes that fWH has made are real, permanent and lasting. He has done everything he can (including transferring assets into my name, IC, MC, total transparency) to show me that he is committed to me and our family. Yet despite his acts, I remain quite wary about trusting him and thinking about our future together.

Your description of your H's upbringing, career and his feelings about his A's are remarkably similiar to my situation. Like you, when I married my FWH, I slowed my career down to focus on family while he enjoyed continued success in his practice. He began defining himself through his professional career and I focused on creating a happy and restful home life. My fWH also describes his A in clinical terms~few gifts, little contact during evenings, weekends, holidays, no terms of endearment, no discussion of the future, no actual dates. When describing sex, he admits that initially the newness was exciting but it wore off. He tells me that he was happy with our life and family and there was nothing lacking, the issue was with him. He categorically denies that he was affectionate with her and tells me that after the first few months, he found her tiresome and boring.

I have hope after reading your story. I was doubting my ability to move beyond this and whether my feelings of trepidation were normal, or indicative that our M was doomed. I thought my fWH was minimizing his acts, as it is so hard for me to believe that she did not mean anything to him. It helps so much to know that others who were in a similiar situation have rebuilt marriages and relationships that are fulfilling and safe.

Sending you and Mrcatlover50 many years of happiness and joy.

catlover50 posted 4/8/2014 15:41 PM

That's lovely Never.

I have found one thing that has come out of all this is that I try to be less judgmental. Even all the "I would never cheat...". Well, given the same upbringing and the same circumstances, how do I know? When people say "I was abused and I didn't cheat", even that. No two people have the exact same circumstance. Knowing what I know now I am actually a little surprised my H didn't blow up sooner.

That said, once a person does have the perspective, has learned the lessons, etc, if they were to cheat again, then I would get a bit judgey! My H knows this is his last chance.

Neverwudaguessed posted 4/8/2014 15:50 PM

Ha! "Judgey" is ONE way to put it :) Yes, after all is said and done, the dirt is exposed to the light of day, and the work has been done, it would be next to impossible to look past a betrayal like that again. Agreed!!!

catlover50 posted 4/8/2014 16:33 PM

Thank you meplusfour. My H too, has had to admit that he actually did not like the OW much. He was actually embarrassed to admit that. I know her, have spent time with her, and never was a bit worried about her since she is so flakey, needy and talks constantly. And he doesn't like ANY of those things. Turns out having someone mirror positive things back at you cancels out a lot, at least initially (who doesn't like someone more when they think you are great?). And, turns out, for some, being attracted to someone is not necessarily a prerequisite for an A (weird but true!). I would grill him about why he would not stay longer at her house (wham bam, mostly) and would not go over when I was out of town, etc, and he sheepishly admitted that he didn't like her much.

0115 posted 4/8/2014 22:07 PM

I'm so impressed by you Catlover!! I too spent many hours working on the why's, trying to understand, learning about the FOO issues and have pretty much answered all my questions.

I still have scars from the seem to have risen above it. What a beacon you are! I'm very happy for you. I remember you from when you first came on, our stories seemed very similair.

Thanks for posting this and continued success on your healing!


[This message edited by 0115 at 10:08 PM, April 8th (Tuesday)]

catlover50 posted 4/9/2014 07:46 AM

Thanks so much 0115! It's a continual work in progress. Good luck to you.

Healinggirl posted 6/15/2014 10:32 AM

I've just found this thread and I can relate to so much of this, and it really was like a breath of fresh air.

My fWH has incredibly broken, the connection to me that should have been there never was. He says it's there now, and I can only hope that's true.

These posts help me to feel less alone. Thank you.

[This message edited by Healinggirl at 10:45 AM, June 15th (Sunday)]

catlover50 posted 6/15/2014 11:00 AM

You're welcome, healinggirl, The damage done by abusers spans generations--our children have also been affected. It is so sad.

I wish you well.

LA44 posted 6/15/2014 12:21 PM

Hi catlover, I have been thinking of you and recently looked to see when you last posted and it was a bit ago so I am glad for this update and read it all the way through! and may print it off to show my H.

Altho my H will always say he had a great childhood, he seemed to disconnect at times while we were dating and in our M. But I know that I could do the same. Intimacy is a big word - we hear it so much now - and its not something that was really taught, honed or practiced growing up. No wonder we were struggling and sometimes we still do.

Anyway, not sure where I am going. Just good to hear from you. Your thoughts are always a bit of a beacon for me esp. bc my H had a LTA as well with someone he had zero interest in spending his life with.

[This message edited by LA44 at 12:22 PM, June 15th (Sunday)]

Healinggirl posted 6/15/2014 13:31 PM

In reality, I'm exhausted. Now he's dealing with his childhood abuse, he's suddenly had this burst of energy.

He feels like a new man because he's been healing and has been running around like the teen he was never allowed to be......but..I feel wounded, injured and tired, and struggling to keep up. I know it will even out in the end but we are both healing at different rates.

Our children have also been affected, too. The abuser is dead, but if he wasn't he would have to face the consequences of his actions just like many of the celebrities in the UK are doing right now.

catlover50 posted 6/15/2014 13:33 PM

Thanks LA! I actually posted this some time ago and it was revived by healinggirl.

I have been doing well and our lives seem to be settling in to our new "normal". I haven't been on as much but do check in now and then to see how people are doing, including you.

That said I am a bit paranoid about "settling in" too much, and continue IC and continue to watch my H's actions. His changes seem to be sticking so far.

Good luck to you!

catlover50 posted 6/15/2014 14:19 PM

I understand, healinggirl and I'm sorry. Are you in IC? Mine has worked with abuse survivors before (and infidelity) and has been helpful. Also some of the books were helpful, although I can't remember them all--Allies in Healing was one.

My H chose to focus on the infidelity first, for my sake, before the CSA. I let him choose, but he was in his "all about making catlover happy" phase. I told him I want a healthy partner most of all.

Hang in there--this is tough stuff!

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