Here's the shortish version of what has happened to me and where we are.
My wife teaches at a graduate school. Two years ago this fall I stumbled on an email to one of her students (mid 20s) (we are in our 40s with two kids) who had moved to another state to attend a different graduate school. I wasn't looking for it and had no reason to suspect anything. The email had nothing terrible in it, but I sensed a familiarity and level of kindness that just caught my attention. I asked my wife about him and was blown off with responses like "you're projecting," etc. I let it go. Then in October I found out she had deleted the record of a 40-minute long phone call with the guy (I just happened to learn this in the process of setting up a new cell phone for our son, so I have no idea if there were other deletions). As an aside, this was a hectic time for us and the kids and if I had asked for a 40-minute block of time to sit down and talk, I think she would have felt put upon. She claimed she erased the call because she knew it would upset me but there was nothing to it. Then in January she received a flower and card for her birthday. She told me about it and she agreed that it was not appropriate. But as it turns out she didn't end the relationship, which slowly developed into statements of affection. In May of 2013 things came to a head and we began counseling. The counselor spent a lot of time with my wife who had a lot of things to address. During this time - I didn't find out about this until 2-3 months later - my wife wrote this guy to break things off. But in the process she told him that she was falling in love with him and that she had never felt this way about another man. And then even after this letter she sent him a text message while on vacation with my family saying she was thinking of him. I also did not find out about this contact until 2-3 months later when she came clean about everything. During the summer and fall of 2013 the student reached out a couple of times. She told me about this contact and she ignored him. And there has been nothing since as far as I know.
We have worked hard to reconcile. She has been patient when I want to talk about it though I wonder how long that will last. And she has been more attentive and affectionate (something she has to work on generally).
But I am still devastated and last week was really hard because we were back at the beach with my family so a lot of memories were stirred up. It is still devastating to me to think of my wife actually sitting down and writing a love letter to a 25-year-old. In my head I know this relationship was an escape and that the guy was like a giant People magazine on the beach. But it still really, really hurts.
The counseling opened her eyes to a lot about herself that needed some examination. And in some ways our relationship is better than before. But I am still devastated (geez, I'm overusing that word) and still think about this letter and the subsequent text almost every day.
A friend recommended a book, Hold Me Tight, which I read in the span of two days last October. I thought it was good and worth reading, so I asked my wife to read it, because I want to make sure we maintain progress and don't end up here again. She still hasn't read it and that hurts because it makes me feel like she isn't prioritizing us and is unwilling to work on the marriage.
I can't imagine leaving her because of what it would do to the kids. And I still do love her. But I also have a nagging feeling that she doesn't love me the way I would like (when I asked her a year ago if she was "in love" with me, she just stared at me blankly and couldn't answer the question). She says she does love me and has tried to express this and so I also recognize that my paranoia could be due to the hit my faith in her took because of her EA.
I like things to be pretty black and white but I realize that sometimes life is lived in the grey. But it doesn't make it easy. I guess now is the grey. I just wish I knew when I would know things are going to work out or not, because I feel a little bit like I'm in purgatory.
What's it like between one and two years? Does it ever get better and how do you know it is better? (Okay, so I realize that's a difficult one to answer).
Do a little detective work. Check all of her credit card statements carefully from last year. Look for hotels, obviously, but also parking garages. Look on shopping sites your wife uses in the history portion to see if gifts were purchased and sent. Youll know which sites from the credit card. Ask for those passwords in front of her and then log in immediately. Look at the phone bill, find his number, plot the number of texts per day.
When they aren't texting they may be together.
[This message edited by Nitrobob at 12:50 PM, July 7th (Monday)]
James Russell Lowell — 'Whatever you may be sure of, be sure of this, that you are dreadfully like other people.'
I thought years 1 & 2 sucked, though they gradually sucked less and less, but my W was fully on board for R from the moment she revealed her A. I can't imagine how bad they would have been if she hadn't been remorseful and willing to work on herself. For me, life started to get good again about 30 months into full R, but that's going to vary a whole lot, depending on how much work you both have to do.
The people in R who stick around and say SI benefits them tend to make solid demands on their WSes - true NC, honesty, transparency, IC for WS to change from cheater to partner, MC when appropriate, IC for BS when appropriate, plus other requirements that vary by individual.
It sounds like your W is floating through recovery. I suggest you consider identifying your reqs and insisting she meet them. I know that seems risky, but it probably isn't. Your M and a big part of your life are already in shambles. An unremorseful WS just keeps compounding the pain. If she quits, maybe you haven't lost much.
Checkout some threads in JFO, like:
Also, the thread in WS on 'What every WS needs to Know' - http://survivinginfidelity.com/forums.asp?tid=324250
Check out the Healing Library - http://survivinginfidelity.com/faq.asp, especially the BS FAQs.
Also, check out the Betrayed Men thread(s) in the ICR forum.
R is a marathon, not a sprint, and the course of R can change at any moment - especially if one of you takes action.
[This message edited by sisoon at 1:16 PM, July 7th (Monday)]
I know I can't keep dwelling on it but yet, I wonder too if he really loves me like he says or is it the paranoia getting the better of me? It is a TERRIBLE and overwhelming feeling when it hits. I have to talk myself off the wall. The paranoia of the way it changes the trust you had, and not feeling like you will ever fully trust like you did before the EA. I believe it's possible that things will continue to get better--- this roller coaster is no fun for anyone. It takes a lot of soul searching, a lot of time, a lot of forgiveness and a lot of hard work. Just hang on to the good days so when the bad days hit you can put them in perspective.
jjsr and Nitrobob, I hear what you're saying. Believe me I scoured various records, etc. last year and I do actually believe that it never went beyond EA though had they been in the same state maybe it would have. Thankfully, our lives were too busy for her to travel. But I do think there is more though I don't think it's worse than what I already know. But there were some questions I didn't ask and the answers to those questions gnaw at me a bit even though it's somewhat irrational because it won't change what happened. I think I just want to know.
But I agree that I think she is having a tough time coming to terms (completely) with what she did. Her MO (for lots of reasons) before this was always to compartmentalize as a coping mechanism and I think she is still doing that to some degree.
Thanks, Sisoon, for the links. They are very helpful. Of course, as others have said, it's nice just to see that I am not crazy, or at least, if I am, I have lots of good company.
4better4worse, I feel just like you - my perception of our relationship is so clouded by the pain caused by the EA that I don't know how much is really real or how much is temporary. Like you, we have made a lot of progress and in many ways have grown closer (we've have more heart to hearts and she has been more affectionate - though not as much as I would like), but there is still this sort of nagging feeling that it won't last. I know it sounds cliche but there have been times when for whatever reason I think about the letter she wrote to the guy and my breath is taken away. I have never felt like that about anything before.
At the end of the day, I think if we did not have kids, I probably would have left. That's not to say that that would be the right decision, but that does give me a good sense of how I feel. But I do think I owe my kids more effort than that (of course, there is some resentment in the fact that she basically got to take a year off and then I have to pick up the pieces to try to save the family).
Anyway, jjsr, I think you're right that a little more IC and MC might be in order. I can honestly say that were it not for the MC we definitely would not have made it this far.
Thanks again to you all for your advice. It won't go unheeded.
Seems we are almost living parallel lives in terms of kids and timing of EA, etc. And, like you, if it doesn't work out, I think I am more ready now than ever before just because I feel like the pain is already there. There have been times when I wish I had caught her talking to him again so it would all be over - cut and dry. But I realize that doesn't necessarily mean I want the marriage to end. It's just a sign of how hard it is to trust her anymore and not wanting to live in the grey. But I think that's what I have to do for a bit. We did have a good talk this week and I actually had her read a good number of the FAQs from here and that seemed to help. And she has admitted that she didn't read Hold Me Tight because she didn't want to be reminded of what she had done. But she gets that that is a crappy excuse and she has to read it. If she doesn't now, I'll have my answer. We'll see. Here's to hoping.
I can't imagine leaving her because of what it would do to the kids.
I really resonate with this part of your plight.
And I still do love her. But I also have a nagging feeling that she doesn't love me the way I would like
This is a true statement, and I feel the same about my wayward.
Clearly the word "love" means different things to us and my wayward and I don't share a similar moral code.
I could never cheat on someone I loved. Prior to learning of his affair, I was actually propositioned by several men who outright suggested an affair.
I avoided them, and one time asked for a transfer to get away from one pushy guy.
So, no, they don't love us the way we see love or expect them to love us.
Perhaps you and your wife would also benefit from reading a few good books together. 'Not Just Friends' (boundaries/infidelity) and Hold Me Tight (intimacy) are two highly recommended books here on SI.
Do you feel you wife is working to determine why she made the choices she did to betray you as opposed to all her other options ( divorce, therapy, discussing marriage or personal issues etc)? Is she working on shoring up her boundaries with other men?
So sorry you're hurting so bad. You've stumbled on the best support site you could imagine. We're here for you.
I know what you mean. I have had the opportunity to cheat and didn't. And it actually wasn't a tough call. But I think when people cheat it is so complicated that it is more than whether they love in a particular way. I think it has more to do with them than anything else. At least in my case it did.
I have read Hold Me Tight and my wife said she would read it but then hasn't. That was disappointing and was the topic of a discussion this week actually. She confessed that she hasn't read it because it's a reminder to her of what she has done and she was just avoiding that. She has agreed to read it and I think she will but only time will tell. Angle of Repose is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read, by the way. It's a novel (but somewhat based on a real story) and so in a very different category. But it's a beautifully written story of marriage (actually different marriages of different generations). It is a slog at times but - at least to me - well worth it.
In my wife's defense, she has done some soul searching. We did MC but she also did a lot of IC to address issues that she should have addressed many years ago about her childhood and the way she learned to cope (i.e. compartmentalize, avoid) with some difficult issues. It's no coincidence that just a couple of months before this relationship started her mother moved to our town to live in an assisted living facility. Her mother was a terrible, unloving mother and my wife has finally started to unpack all the damage that did to her, but there's no doubt that her move here was the straw that broke the proverbial back. Certainly not the only thing, but a major factor. The therapist also worked a lot with my wife on being honest, completely honest with herself and others. But I really want her to read Hold Me Tight so we can continue to move forward so she doesn't fall back into bad habits. If she doesn't read it, that will be pretty big sign to me.
Thanks for the response and the suggestions.
She confessed that she hasn't read it because it's a reminder to her of what she has done and she was just avoiding that.
Gently, this kind of thinking has to stop. She put your family/marriage/life in jeopardy when she betrayed it and there is no room for self pity. Instead of looking at how it's going to be difficult for her she should be looking at how it can help YOU heal and help your M get stronger. I understand it being hard to face what we've done but it's not ok to continue to put herself not wanting to feel uncomfortable over your need to see that she is willing to stand up for this M and your healing.
She should be the first one in line to volunteer to walk over hot coals if it will help.
Oh, and sorry, somehow I skipped the paragraph in your original post where you talked about reading and asking her to read Hold Me Tight or I wouldn't have suggested it. Either that or I just forgot by the time I read the responses.
You're right - she does need to stop. And, of course, that denial and lack of willingness to confront things that aren't comfortable is exactly what landed us where we are today. So, I am going to push. And, at the end of the day, if she is unwilling then that'll tell me a lot about what the future holds if I stay in this marriage. But I'm trying not to think that far ahead because it gets a little overwhelming. I'm not going to mention the book again for a week and see if she has begun reading it on her own. I sure hope so.
I'm glad that you joined for support. We're all here for you.
D-Day, June 10, 2012
I guess I'm confused about what I need. Part of me wants to know things like (what did he say after he received the letter from her), but I also wonder what I get from that and whether I should actually be trying to move forward. But, I also want to ask whether she still has anything from him. But, again, when do I stop thinking about that? Ugh, it's frustrating. Really frustrating to be having all these questions and feelings almost a year out.
On the positive side, this community seems wonderful and very supportive. I really appreciate it.