Hi everyone. This is my first post here. I came hoping to share my experience and find some advice or words of encouragement. My fiance and I have been together almost seven years, engaged for six. We're both 30.
One year and nine days ago I waited excitedly to pick my fiance up from a five week field class he was taking to finish his degree. We were both in school and had become a little distant (we're both science majors - not easy!) but I had always felt we had a generally happy and strong relationship. I was so excited to see him again. When I picked him up I knew something felt "off" but I couldn't put my finger on what it was. He gave me a kiss and I could smell alcohol on his breath. He said he had been drinking in the van to celebrate coming home. Fine I thought - he's entitled to that. We argued that night when he told me he had been drinking heavily throughout the trip to deal with the stress. He had tried to hide this from me when we talked while he was gone. I slept on the couch that night.
The next day he said he needed to take a walk to "think about things" and invited me to come. I just thought he felt bad about drinking and lying and was prepared to hear him out - I was wrong. I so clearly remember exactly where I was standing when he told me. "There was a girl" he said, "She kissed me one night while we were drinking and I didn't stop her." Time stopped. My stomach dropped and my heart pounded. I was in shock. I never thought this would ever happen to us, and this was only the beginning.
In tears, I ran home. I paced around our apartment frantically as he sat on the couch watching me break down. I asked a million questions - who was she? how did this happen? what else happened? He said it only happened once and there was nothing else to it, and that he was sorry. At one point I am sitting there in tears, practically shaking with stress and he says he's going to take a walk to call his brother. He was leaving to call her, and I knew it. I somehow convinced him to give me his phone and I locked myself in the bathroom (not my finest moment). I called a number under a man's name I didn't recognize and a girl picks up. I calmly spoke with her, apologizing the whole time for the "awkwardness." She told me it had happened three times, but it never went beyond kissing. She claimed to be extremely drunk.
Time was blurry after that day, but we stayed together. He always claimed that he only wanted to be with me. The problem is, he lied about everything. He texted her the day I found out, met her the next day when he was supposed to be meeting me to talk it out. A week later he told me "things just don't feel the same" and we spent the night apart to think things over. He instead sent her an email saying that he missed her. Over the last year the truth about his trip slowly trickled out, after a million lies and arguments. They had spent a lot of time together on the trip. Many nights drinking and talking. Three times (that I know of) this lead to them kissing. He held her hand on the van ride home. She told him she loved him. She was only 21, also had a long-time boyfriend, and a history of cheating. She thought he was married, and I think, wanted to boost her self esteem by seducing a married man. He wanted to feel good about himself and a younger, attractive girl showed him attention.
We have been in counseling for most of the last year. Nothing has happened with her since the two weeks following the trip. He wrote her an email telling her he regretted their time together and that he was deeply sorry for hurting me. He is working hard to make things right and we are slowly repairing the damage. His confusion has lifted, but my pain is still there. I still wonder if their emotional affair was physical as well, though he swears it wasn't. I still feel like I can't believe it. How can I ever? I wonder if it even matters, but I know I can't move on without knowing the full truth. The problem is, there is no way to know for sure. He can't prove that nothing happened, and I can't yet trust what he tells me. Has anyone found a way to overcome this?
Thanks for reading. Sorry for the length. Such painful experiences are hard to condense.
I truly believe that there is hope if you are both committed to each other, to learning, and growing. If you are reading this and unsure what to do, I urge you to look at your time together and consider giving your partner a chance. If you do, take care of yourself, but try to see the world from their shoes and give your love a chance to recover.