My husband and I have been together for almost 20 years. Throughout that entire time, he has been my best friend and the person I have trusted more than anyone else in the world. To say that I am devastated by what transpired is a complete understatement.
Here's my story: About 3 1/2 years ago, I found several old/deleted email messages between my husband and another woman that had been exchanged a few months prior. I immediately confronted my husband. He denied any involvement and reassured me of his commitment to our relationship. I chose to believe him, and after that confrontation, our relationship began to grow stronger and closer.
During the months prior to discovering the emails, my husband and I were not physically intimate at all. My primary focus was on our children. I thought that this was a normal marital phase given the demands of raising young children. I thought that this is what happened to couples after being together for such a long time. I assumed that we would eventually get our intimacy back on track. I didn't realize that it would require effort to do so. We'd been together for so long and there was such a sense of security between us. I never feared that he would get involved with someone else.
Discovering those email messages was ultimately a turning point in our marriage. We began to reestablish our intimacy and grow stronger in our relationship. That's what makes the situation we're in now even more confusing.
A few weeks ago, I learned that my suspicions from 3 1/2 years ago were valid. My husband did in fact have a physical affair with the email correspondent, involving multiple sexual encounters over an extended period of time. The encounters were purely physical hook-ups and did not include any emotional involvement. These incidents took place in 2010 and ended a few months before I found the emails. He has not had any contact with the other person since that time.
So where do I go from here? I don't want to end our marriage and break up our family. But how can a relationship overcome this kind of betrayal? He is deeply, deeply remorseful and is devastated by the pain his actions has caused. We've started marriage counseling to understand how this happened and to learn how we can rebuild the trust that has been destroyed.
Can trust ever truly be restored? Can a relationship truly heal over time? I never imagined that the worst pain I've ever felt in my life could be caused by the man who has always been my protector and the one person I could always rely on, no matter what. I've always felt so safe and secure with him. Everyone who knows him (and us) would be shocked to learn that this has occurred. I've read that good people can have affairs. He's a good person. I now know that if he is capable of this behavior, then almost anyone is.
I do not take responsibility for his choices, but I can recognize how my actions back then may have contributed to the vulnerable situation we found ourselves in at that time. I was not very attentive and probably took him for granted, but still, I trusted completely that he would remain faithful to me and our marriage. He had many other options; he did not have to make the poor choices he did.
When I evaluate our entire relationship over 20 years, this seems like such an aberration. For that reason, and because of his genuine remorse, I am willing to pursue reconciliation and put forth the effort to understand what went wrong. He is willing to do anything to salvage our relationship, but what if I can't move past this? What if the pain is too great? It's only been a week since I've had the full truth of what happened four years ago. How much time does it take to heal?
Thanks for sharing your insights.
[This message edited by StrengthWithin at 7:11 PM, August 13th (Wednesday)]
^^ that is a virtual hug. :)
I am so sorry you found yourself in the club that no body wanted to join. I myself joined just about a month ago. I can feel your pain. I was completely thrown off by my WH actions too...we have only been married a little over a year and his A was earlier this year. It was physical only once, but he still allowed this to happen. It's a very difficult concept to grasp, in my situation my WH is very broken and has many deep issues with low self esteem and feeling like a failure, that I was never aware of.
I am so sorry that you were suspicious and only recently really found out the truth. Our instincts have a way of really turning out to be true most of the time, I was very suspicious of my WH during the time of his A but I believed his words because that was the only thing I knew how to do. Our families would be shocked if they knew about this. The first thing I recommend is to take care of yourself. I would recommend your WH seek IC in order to truely uncover his "why". You're right there is no excuse for what he did, and a healthy individual would have communicated his needs better with you rather than go outside your marriage. My (biased) opinion is that there are "good" people that cheat. My WH IC believes he was caught in the "perfect storm" as far as level of stress, and if it wasn't an A, he would have chosen some other drug of choice (alcohol, self harm, drugs). That's all I can really comment on because it's based on my experience. You will get a lot of advice here. One thing I recommend to is to take everything I say, or anyone else, with a grain of salt. We all have different experiences, and though some patterns do really exist, every couple is different and every A is different.
Your WH needs to really uncover his "why" though because that's the only way you can move on with healing and feel confident that it most likely won't happen again. Also, you need to ask him any questions you're comfortable with and he needs to answer honestly. Otherwise, you will feel like there is still more. I ask the same questions over and over and my WH is happy to answer them for me no matter how tiresome. I wanted to make sure to respond to you so you know you've been heard. Keep posting here and reading.
I recommend HE read "How to help your spouse heal from your affair" and you BOTH read "Not Just Friends" together. They will help you with this process.
"Reconciliation means working together to correct the legacy of past injustice." - Nelson Mandela
Even though the betrayal occurred over three years ago, it is new to you and right now, your focus needs to be taking good care of yourself. Eat, sleep, exercise and know that reconciliation is possible, but it takes a lot of work by both partners and a remorseful WS willing to do whatever it takes to help you heal and to rebuild a new marriage is a good start. This 'aberration', if that is what it truly is, can become part of the fabric of your life together.
Best advice I received when I came to SI almost five years ago was to not make any life changing decisions for a year. I'm glad I took that advice because the shock and pain of finding my H of 24 years, my best friend for 29, had betrayed me for five years completely threw me and I wasn't thinking clearly. Shock, pain, anger, fear, obsession with OW.....all these things occurred as I began the ride on the roller coaster of emotions so many here at SI experience.
Two to five years to heal is what I learned here at SI....I am definitely on the five year plan but life is so much better now than it was in year one and two. Different people have different reactions, different ways of working through their issues and WSs come in all different packages. Some TT, some stay in the fog for months, some are immediately remorseful and seek to learn how and why they could do such a thing. Please be sure to visit The Healing Library..there are lots of good reads and recommendations.
Many here will come and offer help ....this is a great place to vent, to question, to cry and even sometimes, to smile.
Keep posting and be kind to yourself....it sounds like your H is already committed to being transparent and remorseful...if so, the road is still hard but you will be on it working together.
Hugs and good wishes for all to work out the way you want it to.
If you are not in IC, I recommend it. It would be a good idea for your WH also. He needs to understand why he chose this particular way to deal with his issues. Unless he gets that straight, it can be hard to rebuild trust. This is a long, tortourous road, but it can be done. Good luck and keep posting!
The 'I Can Relate' forum has a thread for people who learn about the A long after it's over. I haven't looked at it, but it looks appropriate for you.
I suggest thinking of the pain as manageable. After all, it IS manageable, as so many people prove every day - immense, but manageable. You have a free choice between D & R and waiting, and you can wait as long as you like.
Have faith in your ability to heal. Take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself. Prepare for a really awful roller coaster. But in the end, you have all the resources you need to heal - but when you want to ask for help, just ask.
We are all sorry to be here, but this is a safe place for your journey. You will likely find that you make some healthy connections with the folks here. And the information will be invaluable.
Your story really resonates with me quite strongly. A quick backstory, I am considered an 'old-timer' as our initial DD was back in 2007. Or was it 2006? That is actually good news, as I really don't recall anymore.
So there are some first steps you need to take, before really anything else. There are some excellent articles found in the Healing Library. Please do take the time to read through.
Have you confronted your WH? Is the A still continuing to your knowledge?
hoping for happy....My husband has started IC for the first time in his life. Apparently, he has spent his entire adult life bottling issues deep within and not expressing his fears, concerns and/or pain. We believe that the A occurred because of the distance between us and resentments that he held and did not express. IC will give us more insight, I'm sure. We're in MC as well.
sisoon...It is nearly impossible for me to imagine not experiencing true happiness for up to 30 months from now or longer. Prior to the revelation, I was genuinely happy with my life and with our relationship. Over the past 3 1/2 years, we had reestablished the close connection that we shared for 15 years prior to the period when we grew apart and the A happened.
In fact, this makes me wonder...would it have been better for me to not have known that this happened 4 years ago? We had reestablished our closeness, we were connected again and growing stronger than we'd ever been before. Everything on here says that the truth is absolutely necessary for healing. But I do wonder about ignorance being bliss. He had ended the A on his own and had recommitted to our marriage. His efforts resulted in more effort from me, and things got back to the way they used to be and even better. Would it have been better for us to have continued moving forward with me not knowing what really happened?
Would it have been better for us to have continued moving forward with me not knowing what really happened?
This is a question I've seen debated here before on SI....like everything else the answer is different for different people.
For me, I'm glad I found out. The A not only explained the attitude H had towards me and the kids prior to his cheating as he rewrote our history and distanced himself from us to justify the betrayal, but also helped me understand all the attempts I made to 'fix' things during that period were not a failure on my part as H had basically exited our marriage without informing me. I was living a lie and didn't know it.
Also, getting it out in the open forced H to deal with his issues and to figure out why and how he could do what he did....what is lacking in him as an individual that would allow him to lie and steal from his family and use the OW, all to satisfy his own wants/needs at the expense of others.
Without having to face the music, I believe, he would not have done the work and, more importantly, would have increased the chances of it happening again because he did not deal with it.
I am only one person with one experience and as you read through SI you will see so many different perspectives. You have to figure out what's right for you.
BUT the cat is out of the bag. You do know. What you do now and how you deal with this is entirely up to you. Only you can decide what works best for you, what you want from your life. There are many people here to support you finding your own path.....
Great point, Alex CR. Thank you.
R can work and life can be sweet again if both parties are willing to work for it and the WS willing to give 200%.
Hopefully, my H and I will never get so comfortable we forget the lessons we've learned and continue to put 'us' and our marriage first, always.
Best wishes to you and your H.....