He left for work and I went about my day with our 13 month old son, nagged by suspicion. Previously, I had been so sure that my husband would never cheat on me. In fact, I was almost arrogant in the assumption, since I have traditionally worn the pants in the relationship and he somewhat placed me on a pedestal. I had the tendency to play the role of the bitchy, high-maintenance wife and, deep down, I think I believed I was somewhat better than him. I am very attractive, thin (back to a size 2 almost immediately after the birth of our son), intelligent, witty, and successful, while he’s struggled to find a “real” job, working as a waiter, a job which not only pays relatively little (and forces me into the role of main breadwinner and all the stress that comes along with it), but also keeps us apart on nights, weekends, and holidays. I often was annoyed with him for his stagnation in that respect and also because his work schedule meant that I was left to have dinner alone many nights and spend holidays and weekend nights with friends and their husbands feeling like a single woman. I felt guilty that I was often dismissive or sometimes just outright mean to him because I thought his immaturity was mostly benign and though he wasn’t as successful as I’d like him to be, I do love him and enjoy his company and don’t want to be with anyone else, even though I admittedly took him for granted often.
When we spoke, his story had changed and now it was a female coworker’s shirt. He said she had changed in his car or the restaurant (he claimed to not remember) and had left the shirt in his car when he dropped her off at the bar to meet up with other coworkers for after-work drinks. Again, this was obviously a lie, as I am not a highly jealous or irrational person and if that were the truth, it would have sufficed and there would have been no need to lie about it. Still, he swore so adamantly how much he loved me and would never risk what we have for a few minutes of pleasure (again, I was also convinced of this before that day), that I was almost ready to believe him and began suppressing my doubts. Although things seemed highly suspicious, I KNEW he loved me very much and therefore wouldn’t do such a thing.
At around 3 am, I received an email from the boyfriend of a female coworker (NOT the one he had claimed own the shirt – apparently, he was trying to throw me off the trail) informing me that she had felt guilty and confessed to him that she had sex with my husband on one occasion over the summer, but they had recently been talking on the phone at night. I knew this coworker and never really liked her – something always struck me as off. I would see her comments to her male coworkers on social media and thought that she was just a tad too familiar, always seeking attention from men. She’s ten years younger than my husband, but overweight and unattractive (thank god, I feel jealous enough as is and I know it’s petty, but I think it would be worse if I wasn’t unequivocally more beautiful than her). He admitted the affair, but said it was a one time physical thing (after work drinks that led to more – on a night where they got out early and I wouldn’t be suspicious that he wasn’t home yet). He said the phone relationship was not sexual in nature, that he tried to push that part of things out of his mind, but he did enjoy talking to her as a friend. He said she was easy to talk to and quick to laugh at all his stories - stories that I'm no longer so quick to laugh at because I've heard them so many times over the years. He said he felt lonely because after our son was born, he felt that all my love went to him and that I never had time for him and never even wanted to talk to him anymore. I was often cold and dismissive of him, assuredly, but as I said, I love him and would have been open to him had I known he was feeling that way. He would occasionally make comments or ask me if I still loved him, but his demeanor never struck me as serious. I was totally blind to what was going on and what led up to it.
I expected to feel righteous indignation – I’ve carried our family financially for years, waiting for him to find a good job and contribute more and be present. I could have cut him off and kicked him out of our home. But my first response was that I felt threatened. Though in my head I had often wondered if I could “do better,” the traits I would fantasize about in someone else were always superficial – money, success - yet I could never picture spending my life with anyone other than him. In the reality of the situation, I felt scared and threatened and I knew I didn’t want to lose him. He swore to me that he never loved her, that he doesn’t miss her, and doesn’t think about her unless I bring it up (and I bring it up a lot. For someone like me, who admittedly has somewhat of a large ego, the sting is as harsh as a whip across the cheek). He submitted for a transfer and no longer works with her. We immediately sought counseling and he has told me he is determined to do what it takes to win back my trust. He said I’m the love of his life and he doesn’t want to be with anyone else, that he wants to grow old with me and have a happy future together and believes we can.
I don’t blame myself for his affair, but I can see that my behavior did contribute to the disconnect and loneliness festering in our marriage that led him to it. I feel like we’re doing all the right things to save our marriage and yet I still feel like I’m going through post traumatic stress disorder. Some days, I’m fine and happy and positive about our future together. Other days, I feel like I’m fooling myself and setting myself up for heartbreak down the line. I was so caught off guard by his infidelity that everything I thought I knew about myself and him and our life together seems up in the air. Also, the chronic lying that was required to keep this a secret is terrifying to me. I am an open book and, though I have my flaws, dishonesty is not one of them. Some days, I am filled with rage, which oddly enough, is mostly directed towards her. I want to tear her down and humiliate her, but I don’t because I am trying to take the higher ground and also not to vilify her. She’s no monster, just a stupid girl who I don’t believe realized the seriousness of the situation she was playing around with. I want to forgive and move on, but to truly forgive requires great humility and a part of my ego still wants to right the wrongs through revenge.
I really don’t even know why I’m posting this. I guess I just want to vent and also to see if anyone has any experience making a marriage work after such a horrible traumatic event. It might sound crazy, but I believe this awful incident might ultimately make our marriage stronger. The idea of not being with him made me realize how much I love him and had been taking him for granted (I don’t tell him that though because I don’t want him to think his affair was a good thing.) I guess I just want some reassurance, because I feel so insecure and shaky right now, which is territory I’m not used to treading.
[This message edited by Thella at 2:15 PM, April 25th (Friday)]
It may be a bit slow now but there will be others along soon to help you out.
Infidelity almost always comes as a shock to the betrayed, no matter how confident they were of the marriage.
Read a lot here. Particularly in the Healing Library which is linked at the top left corner of the screen.
I'm afraid you don't give much information to help. How old are the two of you and how long have you been married? Being a waiter is ok in your early twenties but not so much in the 30+... of course there are those that love it and make it their career.
You sound like you have a good handle on your situation, except that you must brace yourself for a long road to full reconciliation - which often takes 3 to 5 years. So don't expect yourselves to get over it quickly.
You have to get all the facts in order to make a decision on whether to offer forgiveness and further reconciliation.
He has to be willing to be honest, transparent, remorseful and accept responsibility for his decision.
But you are correct in that IF you get through the pain and you both assess the state of the marriage and work towards constructive changes then you can have a good marriage. Some have said their marriage improved.
Good luck to you Thella.
We are both in our early thirties. We were high school sweethearts and have known each other for seventeen years, married for six. He has been looking for work, but his chosen field is difficult to find a job in right now and, immediately after our baby was born, the odd schedule afforded by waiting tables actually worked as far as our child care situation went.
Although he was initially being dishonest and editing information in order to mitigate my anger and hurt, he now swears he is being completely forthcoming. He has patiently discussed and gone over the affair every time I have wanted to talk about it and he has answered the same questions with the same responses hundreds of times. I believe he is being truthful now (judged on the fact that he is usually a pretty inept liar and a dead giveaway), but because my faith is shaken in all that I knew, I second guess myself.
I am aware that this will take time, but I feel like dwelling on the fact of the affair is not good for me. If I allow myself to think about her, I get angry and vengeful. If I allow myself to dwell on his betrayal, I become deeply sad. I don't want to push it out of my mind and know that I have to confront these feelings, but I also want to be able to take some time away from them and focus on the positive, focus on our plans for the future and work towards a stronger, more loving relationship.
While I can see where my actions contributed to his affair, he has not once blamed me and has in fact told me that it's not my fault, that he should have handled his loneliness differently. I think my husband is a good person to his core - he is deeply and truly kind and a good listener - so I am just so shocked that he could do something so hurtful to me. He told me he thought I would be angry, but never imagined how hurt I would be. Though he didn't mean it that way, I took that to show how cruel I had often been towards him - that all he could imagine was my anger, my ego outrage, not that it would devastate me because I love him. I'm so up and down - this morning, I felt peaceful and happy and right now, I feel emotional and am tearing up at my desk. Again, I know this will take time, but I want to do the right things to set me in the right direction. I don't want to wallow in my pain self-indulgently.
Your pre-A marriage dynamics are similar to mine. I "wore the pants" and took my H for granted, pushed him away, didn't give affection, we were like roommates. But I trusted him blindly and was so shocked and caught off guard when I found out.
It's good that you are seeing your role in the lead-up to the A and also that you are not blaming yourself for your H's very bad choice to have an A. That area can sometimes gets blurry. You know some areas that you need to work on within your M should your H prove himself worthy by maintaining NC with OW and providing you with what you need. Give yourself time to simply process the A and all the anger, sadness, and pain you feel before trying to dig in to the pre-A issues. I know my H needed more physical affection from me (hugs and kisses, not just sex) pre-A and told me he was starving emotionally, but I didn't give a crap at first after DDay. It was all I could do not to bash his head in. Now, 5 months in, I am at the point where I am working on pre-A marital issues, though sometimes the sadness and anger put a halt to that.
It's not a straight line to R and it's exhausting. But if your H is completely remorseful and is giving you what you need emotionally, and if you really want it to work too, you have a shot. You didn't have a say in your H cheating despite how you behaved, but it's your choice to stay in the M and you have the power to work on making the best possible version of you. That helps me feel empowered sometimes when I'm feeling low. I would really recommend you both go to IC. It has been truly eye opening for me.
I sometimes think that our M will come out stronger than before too. Right now, we are generally more loving, involved, empathetic, and engaged with each other than we have been in years. I hope we can maintain it. I know it's possible. I've seen it and I'm hopeful that we are strong enough to get there too.
I don't know if it's just some sort of bizarre honeymoon phase, but within a few days of finding out, I began acting warmly towards him and trying to be more affectionate. I read somewhere that when you're angry, try to reach out and hug the person or just be kind in some way. And it truly does help to alleviate my anger a bit. Our sex life has been better, too.
These are all positives, but of course, I still grapple with all the negative emotions you mentioned. Sometimes I am afraid that I'm being a fool for giving him so much of myself after what he did.
[This message edited by Thella at 2:54 PM, April 25th (Friday)]
It is great that you are examining your own faults (none of us are perfect), but it's a fine balance between doing that and taking blame for his choice. Be careful to not start castigating yourself and becoming guilt-ridden; while at the same time too much judgment of him can be counter-productive. It's all complicated and rough, and your emotions and thoughts will swing wildly back and forth for a while yet.
Do your best to focus on the good, without letting yourself be blinded to the bad, and take care of yourself and your son.
My marriage failed but my sister's husband had an affair and they not only survived it, but their marriage is immensely better than before. In their case, although her husband was the breadwinner, and my sister didn't work outside the home, she constantly berated him. While there is no excuse for an affair, I wasn't surprised when it happened.
Prior to the affair my sister wasn't really engaged all that much in anything but cleaning house and making meals. After the affair, she helps keep his very complicated work schedule, handles all their finances, plans his itinerary when he travels for business and is much more engaged in their relationship. He feels more appreciated, and the whole way they interact is different.
So it can happen. It won't happen in a month or two, but it will get better. I think you have a great attitude about your part in making him feel diminished. Again, an affair is not the way to handle that, but at least you know how your marriage was weakened, and that's half the battle.
But I swear, when I found out about the affair my whole world blew up. It damaged my self-esteem to such an extent that it is yet to recover three and a half years later.
We are doing so much better now than prior to the affair. I have quit taking him for granted, and am treating him with care and kindness.
He is trying very hard also to not do things that irritated me. We tell each other now, right away, if our feelings are hurt or if something one of us did made the other one angry. We are doing it in a clam and kind way, not confrontational.
That doesn't mean that I didn't go through rage, sorrow, pain like I never experienced in my life. Unlike you, most of my rage was directed at the affair and her rather than him. She initiated the affair so it is easy to vilify her. (And I always will)
I think you guys will be fine. Just talk to each other. I have learned that men are fragile creatures. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out my husband had been having low self-esteem problems for years. He always seemed so strong and balanced.
Anyway, good luck. Sounds like you have a good start with all of the insight you have already shown.
You appear to be highly intelligent and articulate. From your posts I am assuming you are very analytical and seeking a root cause for this problem so a fix can be implemented. I would caution you that emotions and infidelity do not usually submit to logical thinking.
You and your H may have legitimate personal and marital issues and you will need to be patient with yourselves as you explore your options. Many of us here have walked similar paths. Many have been filled with self blame but you need to know we will not allow you to blame yourself one second because you are the victim of this selfishness. You did nothing to justify this behavior.
But if you need to know that some do survive this, yes, they do. And if you need permission to try, give it to yourself.
My WH was/is the poster child for a cheater who lacks remorse..
Up until and for some time after I retired, I was also the main bread winner..38 year marriage...
If the WS is patient, answers questions, and is more interested in your recovery than their own comfort than staying and attempting R is easier to stomach..
Many times I read advice that says to kick a remorseless WS out and hefty bag their clothes..Very appropriate advice in many situations..I also read where you mentioned that kicking your WH out was considered..
Unfortunately kicking the WS isn't always so easy / cut and dried..If the WS refuses to leave, like mine did, they have to be legally forced out..Not everybody can do that immediately, it can take a very long time..
I mention the above, because in addition to taking care of yourself and your kiddo, I would like to see you protect yourself legally and financially..
Minimize the impact of of your WH's dependance on you financially..Whether you stay or go this will help you in the long run...
Staying in the M in the aftermath of an A isn't for the faint of heart..
Having an exit plan and knowing that you are able to walk away from the M immediately ( or 30 years from now ) takes away some fear of the unknown..
Also wise that your WH knows that R isn't to be taken for granted..
[This message edited by doggiediva at 8:02 AM, April 26th (Saturday)]