there's just too much that time cannot erase
And the more I know, the less I understand
Because of you...I am afraid...
I haven't been here for a while but your story struck a note with me because it's similar to mine.
I've been in a relationship with my BF for 10+ years and in May found an e-mail he sent to a coworker planning to get together for an affair while I was supposed to be out of town. I was beyond devastated. I confronted him with the e-mail. Like your story, he said there was never any physical contact between them. He's a CSA survivor. He doesn't know why he did it, said it would never have happened. He says he can picture himself typing but can't connect to any emotional connection whatsoever. It's like he disconnected from his actions. At that time he felt like an absolute stranger to me. It's weird because we went through a phase of being especially close right before I discovered this. This sounds somewhat similar to your story. He wanted to do anything to make our relationship work. We went to MC for a while but it ended up being more about his childhood history. The MC seems to believe that he is telling the truth about it never amounting to a physical relationship. He is now continuing IC. It's been a few months now and I'm still struggling. Is he really telling me the whole truth? Will I ever know? Will I ever trust him again the way I used to? What the hell happened? I'm still struggling, trying to understand how this connects to his history. It's an every day battle for me but so far we are still trying. I'd like to hear how your are coping with your situation so far and if you are experiencing the same struggles and doubts. If nothing else, it's nice to know you're not alone. I found it so hard at the beginning because everything I read about infidelity didn't match up to my story.
My wife had what is best described as an “unemotional affair” that almost turned physical before she stopped what was happening. I discovered the affair just a few days after she had stopped what was going on and confronted her. We've been married 20 years. She has a considerable amount of baggage from some suspected abuse in her childhood, and the affair was an attemptto exorcise the rage and angershe had at always being the good girl an never being the wild child. It came out as an attempt to re-live a part of her early adulthood (23-26 years of age) that she felt was denied to her because her upbringing and abuse had stopped her from exploring her sexuality before she met me as a virgin, and them spent the next 20 years in a monogamous relationship with me. There is no likelihood that she has ever done anything like this affair in the past.
I recognize in her, and so does she, the behavior the patterns that are usually ascribed to a “Mid-Life Crisis”. The Other Man fit the typical stereotype of the younger man that the stereotypical “Cougar” goes after. All the conversations we've had point to a relationship where they were taking advantage of each other. She was taking advantage of an available fling, and he was taking advantage of an obviously dysfunctional woman, who also happened to be the Hottest 42 year old in three counties. She had no intention for the affair to alter our marriage in any way. How she thought that there would be no repercussions is a key component of her reaction to my discovery
Her thinking at the time was that she was just “working out” her anger at having missed the sexual experiences that she thinks others of her generation, including me, had before we married and got boring. She tells me that the affair, and the experience of stopping before things got physical, taught her the dirty little secret that most of the rest of her peers already know: Casual sex with no emotional attachments is hollow and empty, and honestly, something we regret.
As I've heard about in the Mid-Life crisis descriptions, my wife had also recently been working out and is in the best shape of her adult life, even with the effects of bearing two children. She's very proud of this accomplishment (I really appreciate it too). She also finally arrived at a place in her recovery from the childhood trauma where she really felt good about her sexuality, and enjoys the attention she gets from dressing attractively (she dresses “attractive professional” not “slutty cougar”). I understand the male of the species and I know that how she dresses will get men's attention even if it's not “slutty”, especially if she is exuding confidence, and her usual friendly aura. She tells me that the emotional positive feedback she gets from the attention really gives her self esteem a charge that she'd not been getting from any other area of her life.
This change in her reaction to what I see as sexual tension from the men around her is a BIG change in her personality and psychology. In the first 18-19 of marriage and probably well before that, any overt sexual response to her from men, including me, was unwelcome and deflected, or in the case of me responding to her, made her feel bad or triggered lots of negative things within her.
I've learned over the time of our dating, and marriage to tone down my responses to her sexually. My response to her did increase as she started getting in shape. (at her worst, she weighed 170 lbs but now weighs about 130lbs and is 5'5”). (I'm 6' and went from 175 to 158 from the effects of discovery.) But as she first started getting in shape, my increased response was unwanted and a source of strife in the marriage. Since then we have both discovered that she can and does welcome my appreciation of her physical appearance. There are still problems with this as I probably wasn't Don Juan to begin with and 18 years of throttling my sexual apatite for her has not honed my skills as a lover
Because the physical part of the affair stopped before sex, and because there was little emotional content to the affair. I feel like I somehow avoided much of the damage, pain, and betrayal that a “full blown” affair brings. However, there is still a considerable feeling of hurt and betrayal because: 1) this is something she “planned” over the span of at least 4 months, all the while hiding her plans from me. She told me she never lied, but there was lot of truth that was being hidden 2) I had given her my total trust and faith when she spent many Friday nights playing poker, and then going out to the college bars with her social group from work which were all younger, almost all single, mostly male, and included the other man. 3) I had put up with her sexual dysfunctionalism for 20 years, and she decided to explore her newfound sexuality on someone else. 4) she had justified taking what I see as an enormous risk with our marriage, our health, and our family (I would have kicked her out if the affair had become physical) with so little to gain from it. 5) she dissociated and compartmentalized the affair from our relationship, so that she felt no guild or wrongdoing while it went on.
One of the side effects of the childhood abuse is her powerful capacity to dissociate and compartmentalize in order to survive. I realized that she has been doing this far more in our relationship that I had ever thought. If anyone does anything that hurts her, she defends herself by compartmentalizing the hurt, and covering with anger. Her anger at all the things in her life had become enormous but she coped by by compartmentalizing. As we have been dealing with this, I have discovered that she does not feal comfortable showing me when she's hurting, so she usually expresses anger instead.
She is profoundly shocked at the emotional depth of my reaction. She had thought that I would not have reacted so strongly even though she didn't carry through with the sex. I've been working on communicating with her that much of any betrayed spouse's reaction is based on the the many acts of betrayal, deceit and dishonesty required to just plan out an affair. I've been able to show her that despite her intentions to isolate the affair from our marriage, that she hurt me very badly in many ways. She has been moving from thinking that I was over-reacting, to realizing how deep my feelings for her really were.
Immediately after I discovered what she was doing I started using online resources like this group to find out what other people were going through and what they were doing to cope. She was upset that I was comparing my experience to that of the people who's souses actually have sex with the other person. My attitude about no-contact initially came from these groups, but my own feelings are really what drives my desire for him to be completely and totally removed from her life. In her thinking, breaking all contact would only re-enforce the perception that what she did was wrong and damaging. We continue to work on that.
She just told me today that she looked at SurvivingIfindelity.com and finally got the opportunity to soak up how people were really feeling about discovering that they were betrayed. This was a real eye opener for her. I think it really got her to understand what I was feeling and why I was feeling it.
I want to focus on honesty and re-building our sexual relationship (which was actually improving considerably while she went through the affair) as we go forward. We have spent a lot of time talking and processing on what has happened, and where we want to go. We are both in individual therapy and we are seeing her therapist for Marriage Therapy. (I would hate to have to explain all this to a third therapist, mine has a hard enough time keeping up with all my Wife's issues). So far our progress in this area has been positive. She's made some good progress in understanding the seriousness of what she did and why I've been reacting like I have. At first it was pretty obvious that she believed that I'd just come around to her way of thinking about her actions. That hasn't been the case. At first it seemed that this would be a contest of wills. As she deals with this and learns, that situation is falling aside and this has become an exercise of her understanding my feelings and the impact of her actions.
Going into the future I hope to turn her re-awakening sexuality back towards our marriage. She wants that too.
I wonder how others in the “almost but not quite” cheated category deal with their situation. Almost but not quite in an ONS is very different from spending months planning and preparing. From all that I have read, the behavior of CSA survivors varies across the spectrum from wild promiscuity to complete shutdown. The combination of Midlife crisis, re-awakening sexuality, career stress, and external pressures (the OM apparantly approached her first) hits each person differently. I'm starting to believe that some of her situation came from internal forces, and some of it came from the activities she was participating in.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. You're the best resource I've had in this crisis.
You mentioned that she was shocked at your emotional reaction. I had a similar experience. He couldn't quite understand why I was so upset when nothing actually happened. For me, something critical happened. Our trust was now broken. Right now, this is my biggest struggle. I feel like he loves me and is committed to saving our relationship but I still struggle with trusting him. I don't want to have to check up on him, know where he is, wonder who he is e-mailing and what he is saying. It's not my nature and I don't like doing it but I feel compelled to. I also am not able to confirm his story which I'm finding hard. The woman he was making plans with worked with him at the time. Luckily she no longer works for the same company which I'm thankful for but I also have no way to contact her to try to get her side of the story. I can't help but wonder if I know the whole truth and will I ever be ok with that?
When I read your story, I sense a confidence that you know the truth. This is where I'd like to be. I'm glad to hear that you are communicating about the issues and that she is making an effort to understand your perspective. It sounds very positive. When I first confronted him, we would talk for hours and counselling helped to trigger more conversations but I find the more time that passes, the less we talk about it which I find difficult. If I continue to ask the same questions over and over again, he gets angry/frustrated because he says he can't answer the "why".
I also considered the 'mid life crisis' theory but it doesn't really seem to fit. I don't think this is the cause in my situation and it sounds like it isn't in your situation either. I'm curious how you are dealing with the fact that she was feeling like perhaps she missed out on a part of her younger years where generally, we were more care-free and had some sexual experiences before settling down. Does she still feel like that part of her is missing? How will she resolve this?
I feel fortunate that I had a healthy childhood. I'm doing my best to understand what my boyfriend must have endured. He does remember it and it happened while he was very young and for years. He was up front with me about it when we first started getting serious because he felt it was only fair that I knew that about him. He had gone through counselling before I met him and felt like it helped and he was able to cope better.
So why is this happening now? About 5 months before this "affair" started, my boyfriend's sister passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. The counsellor thinks it's possible that he was under a lot of emotional distress and perhaps this OW said something or triggered something to make him react the way he did. He's very protective of his personal space. If it's threatened, he gets angry. In his mind, his dirty talk in e-mails was a reaction of anger. I'm still trying to understand this. He lost someone who was a source of comfort when he was a child making him feel vulnerable. She never knew about his abuse. An analogy was used...A recovering alcoholic may have used alcohol as a coping mechanism. In times of stress, it's possible for them to start drinking again because it's a method they know or learned for coping. Is sexual promiscuity his coping mechanism? I'm still working on trying to understand this as well. I understand that a child learns to dissociate from what is happening to them. I'm trying to understand how this affects an adult life. Is it possible to not remember typing these e-mails? Is it possible that there was no emotional connection? I love him dearly and I want to be as supportive and understanding as possible but I don't want to put my heart into this if I don't know the whole truth. There lies the struggle for me now. Trust. How do you trust again?
Please continue to post. It helps me to read about similar situations. I want to learn as much as I can about this journey. I'm hopeful that we can make it through and it's nice to find the support others here.
Anyhoo ... we're in a type of R (not following the rules of this board, and his indiscriminate anger is just one reason for that). Recently, I suffered another bout of his anger that comes from nowhere and is disproportionate to the offense, if indeed there even was one .. and for some reason I finally thought to call my ex-sister-in-law (married to my WH's brother, 1 kid, divorced after 1 year) and boy, did I learn a thing or two.
Not only did my brother in law treat her EXACTLY like my WH does me, she told me that my WH had been molested by his uncle and had subsequently molested his brother, and that this had all happened between the ages of 8 and 13.
Well, this explains a great, great deal. The irrational anger that just spews forth without warning, the relentless cheating, the pursuit of a career that proves he's all man, and the fact that he won't let anyone win an argument, that he's emotionally cold, becomes angry at my tears, and so forth.
And it's not something I can confront my WH husband with (can't break my SIL's confidence, and it's just not something you can force someone to admit). But now for the FIRST time I can truly see the reasons for his behavior, and that "our problems" aren't something that can be resolved by MC teaching us how to talk to one another (not that we've been, just another in a long string of unbroken promises).
So I post this to see if anyone else out there has unfortunately been in this position, has thoughts for how to proceed, has any insight for me whatsoever.
Learning this has both clarified so much, has removed my feelings of anger, of persecution, of outright confusion and brought out my feelings of care and concern for my WH. But it's also made me think that for my own sake I should divorce him (since the emotional abuse he subjects me to is rooted so deep in all of this that to stay with him may be to consign myself to always being abused). I have never thought I wanted a divorce before and truly meant it. Now though, I'm scared. Not of divorce (what kept me around before) but scared at the damaged person I'm married to and what it may mean.
Oof. Oof. And double oof!
My WH had a physical affair 4 years ago and I just found out on Christmas that he has had 2 emotional affair/flirtation flings (don't really know what to call it) since then.
At this point he also told me about the sexual abuse he went trough as a child, and that he thinks this is part of the reason that even though he is happy with me he always goes back to flirtations and such.
We bought The Sexual Healing Journey today (I saw it recommended in this thread) and he wants to try a 12-step program for Love Addiction (although I'm not really sure that is what the problem is.)
FWH was a cyber/online cheater, a sex addict, cheated on me during a chronic illness (ovarian cancer) and was sexually molested as a child.
His parents had a neighbor couple as friends while he was growing up. His parents socialized with this other couple, going to each other's homes for dinner, play cards, etc. The male neighbor took a "liking" to my FWH and molested him a few times. This has been corroborated by a young neighborhood girl who was also molested by the same man. The man has since passed away (may he rot in hell). From the time of the molestations onward, my FWH felt very isolated, "different" from all the other kids in the neighborhood and at school. He never socialized with other children, preferred to play by himself or watch TV as he grew up. He only dated once in high school, and that was taking a family friend to the prom.
He thought he had moved on and put the past behind him. But something snapped, he had issues at work and he spiraled into the deep dark world of porn, sexual messaging, online "sex meetup" sites and eventually had quickie sex with different women and frequented prostitutes.
We are still trying to figure out what role the SAB had in the A.
We went to MC to address the A issues and now FWH is in IC to address the SAB issue.
While I admit the SAB probably had a part in the A, not all of the A can be blamed on the SAB.
[This message edited by kitticat at 10:39 PM, January 18th (Monday)]
She didn't want to mention it, but I'm glad she did. I hope she gets the strength to deal with this head on, "normal" is a lot to hope for, but a little less depressed would be great.
i'm kinda anxious about it.
For a variety of reasons (and I've posted about it in the General Forum), I think this may have played a role in the two A's he had.
I have tried like crazy to find information about male-survivors-of-female-sex-abuse but really haven't come up with much of anything concrete.
Does anyone know of anything specific out there that helps to deal with this particular issue?
I hope someone comes along soon with info for you.
I went to the first meeting...This group is not just a support group, but is based on biblical truths and has lessons and homework designed to dig into your past and help you process it.
Since it was the first meeting, we didnt get too in depth. Talked about what to expect, confidentiality within the group, etc. We all shared a brief overview of our story. The leaders of the group are also survivors, have gone through this study, and shared their stories first.
I went to IC the next day to talk about the class and whether it is what I need to do right now. My IC is the one my church refers to and is very familiar with the material. He is very supportive of me being a part of this group.
It's very scary. These are things I have not shared with anyone other than my H and my C. I know these women understand, though, and I do feel safe in the group.
I starte doing the first lesson's homework today but didnt finish. It's just a lot to deal with.
its: I can completely understand the scare-factor. I'm sure I'd be mortified to tell my stories in a face-to-face setting, initially at least. That being said, from what I've read, group settings have shown to be extremely effective for integrating traumatic experiences and memories. Maybe not for all, but for many. I'm glad you feel safe with this group.
If you don't mind me asking, what is the homework like?
Im just getting ready to try and finish my homework, and no I dont mind you asking what it is like.
They only give us one lesson at a time, so right now I only have the first lesson. It includes drawing life graphs of positives and negatives, one for childhood, one for teenage years, and one for adult life; draing pictures of family, me as others see me, as i see me, Go, my emotional pain, and an apple treeb and a list of questions about parents, childhood, siblings.
I'm hoping to finish today.
You are being very courageous, and thanks again for sharing.
I have been working on this in IC for a while, and I have learned how much this is affecting my life. I am getting to the point where I am sick of it and just want to be done with it and put it behind me, but, just like with the affair, that is so much easier said than done!
There is so much shame involved in Sab, and I think one thing that group settings do for you is to help you let go of that shame, realizing that there is no shame in having been the victim of someone bigger and more powerful in so many ways than you. I know I still feel that shame, even though my head knows it wasn't my fault. My heart doesn't know that yet, and that I think is what I am looking for. So far my head has not been able to convince my heart of that.
I can only imagine that it is even more difficult for a male, with the feeling that as a male they should have been able to protect themself. The truth is that they were still victimized by some bigger and more powerful, but I am sure it is so hard to see that.