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Why (Or Why Not) a PA is a dealbreaker?

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Striver posted 12/15/2019 18:55 PM

Sissoon, this was very insightful. Yes I’m terrified of making a mistake, particularly with regard to my 10 year old child. I know some might minimize the impact a divorce has on children, or I’ve seen comments like “you’re really afraid of being a part time parent, not about the impact it has.” Well that’s a distinction without a difference, and when you’ve got another human’s destiny relying on decisions you make, jumping to D seems foolish and unwise — and perhaps even immature. I’m in a lot of pain but one thing I don’t want to do is extend my pain to others who have done nothing. I just can’t. I’ve read too much. The research and stats don’t lie.

I get all of that. But you need to look at the lesser of two evils.

I don't know what is the right decision for you. I do know that from reading here that people who truly stay at all costs, where there is no dealbreaker, those are not good situations for kids either. The people here who grew up like that, where it was know there were affairs and the one partner was just a doormat, those are not good for kids either.

I don't think the "leave once the kids are out of the house" method works either. That can be worse, more upsetting, than leaving now would be.

I think you need to get to a place where your situation is at least acceptable. You are not there yet. Your WW has opted to waste a bunch of time with her games. I don't know what your WW's process is, why she had the A, what it did to her. Kind of seems like she is holding onto the A in a "Look what I did" way and wants to hold on to the feeling of power and superiority it gave her. It's the game of chicken many WS get drawn into until it's too late.

This site is extremely namby pamby when it gets into the mind of cheaters. I saw it in the eyes of my ex. They feel like they are gods. Just like eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It's very disquieting stuff.

I do think you need to get at least a decent marriage back. Where you are right now will not hold. Your WW will either beat you down into a shell of a man, or you'll finally break her iron will on the A, or you'll have to end it. I wish you well with all of it.

psychmom posted 12/15/2019 19:17 PM

Each of us must make a decision on this that works for us. I always thought deal breaker meant game done and over. And a PA would immediately fall into that bucket. But my situation was complicated by a fucked up M, and damned if I didn't feel some responsibility for his cheating.

SI helped me out of that mindset right away. Yet by then I was 7 months into R. It just felt very complicated. Plus he was trying very hard. Mine was one who immediately threw himself into self- change and improvement.

But the nagging thought of a broke deal lingered. It wasn't so much the fucking that gets me, it's that he turned away from me. For those years he didn't have my back, yet I had no idea. That's the bigger betrayal I wrestle with. I guess the PA was less of a deal breaker than the lying and his ability to stop loving me. But he started loving me again on Dday THAT is more a deal breaker for me.

[This message edited by psychmom at 7:18 PM, December 15th (Sunday)]

DashboardMadonna posted 12/15/2019 19:22 PM

Well I'm divorcing a narcissistic SA, so theres a lot of pathology behind his appetite for whores. Total deal breaker Xs 3000.

The worst of it was his madonna-whore complex. He essentially used sex as a weapon of manipulation. He withheld in disgust, while hunting questionably aged prostitutes of differing ethnicities, that arent my own. I'm not his thing...and the final blow was finding the last one he fucked was bleach blonde Latina...

I'm of swedish ancestry (havent a problem attracting the opposite sex...like it matters) so this really damaged my self esteem and rocked me to the core. I was victimized by racist gangs in school, so it brought me back to a place of PTSD...and total rejection for having extremely fair skin. There isnt enough therapy that will fix the brain damage my husband caused. Just typing this, brings up my blood pressure.

[This message edited by DashboardMadonna at 7:32 PM, December 15th (Sunday)]

Mr. Kite posted 12/15/2019 21:01 PM

Staying with a cheater requires zero courage. Do you feel courageous?

In all these many years of dealing with WW's A's, I've never once felt courageous. What I did get in touch with was some positives and negatives in my personality and thinking. I'll be damned if I have to go through this trauma without learning something and becoming a better person, or else all the pain will have been for nothing.

I found out that there was a great reservoir of self-control in me. For someone who was brought up in violence and trained to become better at it as an adult, the ability to remove several people from the planet without actually doing it surprised me.

I found out that I wasn't as selfish as I had thought. There was a little 3-year old boy to consider. My pride had been hurt deeply and my need for vengeance burned within me, but I chose his welfare instead of mine.

But I also found out that I had swung way to the other extreme and that I had become overly passive, cowardly, and lazy. Worst of all I had played the victim, the martyr for far too long. In short, I became weak.

Why (Or Why Not) a PA is a dealbreaker?

I thought it was until it wasn't. Life is not always black or white but mostly comes in shades of gray. Did I stay in R all these years because of self-control, unselfishness, or weakness? All three.

This site is extremely namby pamby when it gets into the mind of cheaters. I saw it in the eyes of my ex. They feel like they are gods. Just like eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It's very disquieting stuff.

This is interesting. Could you elaborate on this? Thanks.

Striver posted 12/16/2019 00:26 AM

This is interesting. Could you elaborate on this? Thanks.

A site I used to frequent, LoveShack, had boards for "Other Women" and people who had ongoing affairs. I didn't much like those people, but they seemed lucid enough. Not insane, not "foggy." What they wanted wasn't nice, but it was fairly clear what they wanted.

This here site more or less sells certain approaches. They work for some people. May be counterproductive for others.

I'm divorced. Any love I have left for my ex is useless to me. I am best served by applying it to others. If I can do that, I'm sure it's possible for others to switch their affection from one to another. There isn't some magic wand that is going to change all of these foggy waywards into faithful spouses.

StillLivin posted 12/16/2019 00:49 AM

It's a deal breaker because I deserve better, I can do better than a garden variety pos cheater, and I'd rather be by myself than with a loser with no integrity. I would love for my ex husband to become a better man for the sake of the boys, but he'll still be someone who betrayed ME.
I refuse to be the affair police. I will never trust someone who lied to my face every single day for 2.5 years, who betrayed me a thousand different ways while I was being the loving wife.
I dont judge others, I don't know their situation, but for me it will always be a deal breaker because I could never respect the cheater ever again and I would never trust him. Those are two very vital elements needed in a marriage. Some can learn to trust again, I'm not them.

RocketRaccoon posted 12/16/2019 02:20 AM

Thumos,

Gently now:

I’ve read too much. The research and stats don’t lie.

This is a case of analysis until paralysis. You are knee deep in the smelly stuff, but you are thinking 'what if I stand here long enough, it will lose some moisture, and then it the level might drop to my ankles instead'.

You don't have to take immediate action, but you need to take yourself out of limbo.

It does not help that you are being a martyr, staying where you are because you do not want to upset everyone else.

You stay even though you see your WW's AP quite regularly (does your son still consider AP's son his best friend?). You will wonder every time you are out, if the AP is sneaking back into your house again (he only lives a few houses down).

I think this is a major issue for you, and your perpetuate it. You wrap yourself in your pain because it has become comfortable. Almost (very loosely) like Stockholm Syndrome, where you start identifying with your captors.

What is holding you back from moving? I know your WW convinced you to stay because it would disrupt your sons lives..... see where this is going? You took the advice of your abuser, and started empathizing with her. Ostensibly, your WW may have asked you to stay put so that she could still have AP in her life (even in the distance).

All that I have posted are pure conjecture, and may not be true.... but they may well be affecting your subliminal thoughts.

So, enough of the t/j. To answer your initial question (finally), yes. PA is a definite dealbreaker for me. The emotional portion is also painful, but I am more a physical person. Everyone will have their own preferences, and neither is more 'right' or 'wrong'.

Walloped posted 12/16/2019 06:02 AM

Hmmm...serious answer.

An A is a dealbreaker for me. Period. Full stop.

Wait, but I stayed and am in R. How does that work? Because I had the right to leave and the right to define conditions for staying and expectations about certain WS behaviors and maintain the right to leave if there’s a violation of them. Essentially, we started building a new marriage at some point in the healing process.

So, it turns out, staying / R is not necessarily a contradiction to believing an A is a dealbreaker. This doesn’t require mental gymnastics. Your philosophy and ideology is one thing. How you implement that in a way that fits your life and your personal set of circumstances is another.

This site is extremely namby pamby when it gets into the mind of cheaters. I saw it in the eyes of my ex. They feel like they are gods. Just like eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It's very disquieting stuff.

Well this is an interesting comment. Personally, I never understand it when someone uses the term “this site.” It’s people. The “site” is the home we’ve all been graciously invited to get together in. The host has certain ground rules. No jumping on the couches or spilling beer on the living room carpet. But the host does not dictate the direction of everyone’s conversation or the opinions we share.

Second, substituting “people” for “site” for a moment, my experience is the opposite. Folks here held my WW to a very strict standard, were very forceful in their advice and guidance and helped me develop the tools I needed to make decisions about my life. They didn’t make the decisions for me though. It was my decisions with their support and guidance. As it should be.

Thumos posted 12/16/2019 07:41 AM

right to define conditions for staying

Aside from “don’t be an adulterer again” what were your conditions for staying? If you don’t mind my asking?

IndependenceSoon posted 12/16/2019 08:02 AM

For me, once I confirmed his PA, i was done. While lining up my ducks i found that he led a double life. He used me the whole marriage and i don't think he ever loved me. I took care of everything. He worked a job, did nothing at home and enjoyed his affairs. Going through divorce now...

Walloped posted 12/16/2019 08:06 AM

Aside from “don’t be an adulterer again” what were your conditions for staying? If you don’t mind my asking?

I don’t mind at all. It’s a two-part answer. Conditions on her and then one overriding condition that she agreed to.

- Obviously, as you said, if it ever happens again, I’m gone
- NC
- Agreed upon rules around OS friends and contact
- Serious work and effort on her part to figure herself out. Her why’s, FOO issues and understanding her mindset and way she thinks and behaves. Done through IC and other avenues
- Demonstrable changes in her thinking (there’s a lot of history and therapy that helped us define what that means)
- Complete transparency and honesty. Not just passwords and not lying, but authentically discussing feelings and thoughts, even uncomfortable ones.
- Regular MC

The overriding condition is that if I feel like R is not working or that she is not following our agreed upon conditions, then I have the right to walk. Period. There’s a lot that goes underneath the above, but those are the primary ones.

There’s a lot more too that’s related to reasons and feelings and how our marriage is going. But those aren’t conditions. In my mind and what we’ve agreed upon was that the list above are actionable things. Either you’re adhering to them or you’re not. How we feel about each other, love, sex, intimacy, friendship, parenting, relationship, etc., those are more nebulous. But my overriding condition was that if I feel like the A was a dealbreaker in the sense that I cannot stay or that R is not where I need it to be, then regardless if she’s doing everything else, I can leave.

Butforthegrace posted 12/16/2019 08:26 AM

As an outside observer, Mr. Walloped's R is an example of the adage that what a WW does after DDay is as important to R, or moreso, that what she does in the A.

It is also an example of what I call that ephemeral matter of the heart.

Mrs Walloped threw herself into the task of helping her husband heal. This is different than simply being a good wife on a going forward basis. It involves Mrs. Walloped ignoring any sense she may have of shame and self blame (which I perceive she experience a great deal of) and directing her energy towards healing, which included working in IC on fixing herself.

As just one example, I'm reminded of the Walloped family barbecue that the two attended whist still separated. Mrs. Walloped was laser focused on an event that triggered Mr. Walloped and went full SWAT team to eliminate the trigger and protect Mr. Walloped. In contrast, your WW was content to leave artifacts of the A in your home until you got rid of them yourself. And on the big question of your quotidian life, really, she ought to be researching alternate neighborhoods to move to. She should have done that years ago, before your son forged close friendships with classmates.

I dont see your WW voluntarily investing any energy into helping you heal. I see her doing the opposite, actually - running from the A, trying to rug sweep it, doing just the minimum of what you ask with what appears to be a hope that it will then go away.

Thumos, how many long, in depth conversations or question/answer sessions about the A have you and your WW had since the evening of disclosure theater last week? Is your heart at ease that you understand everything about the A that you feel a desire or need to understand? If not, is your WW making it easy for you to aske the questions you need to ask to reach that state?

I totally understand being on the fence. That's why I keep coming back to the Thumos who will be staring you in the bathroom mirror in 10 years. Your WW has been extra for a time, because she fears losing you. Does that continue if her fear goes away? In other words, does she "see you" and love you? Does that extend to your trauma from the A?

[This message edited by Butforthegrace at 9:04 AM, December 16th (Monday)]

Striver posted 12/16/2019 08:48 AM

Well this is an interesting comment. Personally, I never understand it when someone uses the term “this site.” It’s people. The “site” is the home we’ve all been graciously invited to get together in. The host has certain ground rules. No jumping on the couches or spilling beer on the living room carpet. But the host does not dictate the direction of everyone’s conversation or the opinions we share.
Second, substituting “people” for “site” for a moment, my experience is the opposite. Folks here held my WW to a very strict standard, were very forceful in their advice and guidance and helped me develop the tools I needed to make decisions about my life. They didn’t make the decisions for me though. It was my decisions with their support and guidance. As it should be.

The problem with the community or the people here as opposed to AA is that not everyone is here. That is my point.

Your WS is here, doing her work. Many BS here have a WS that would never come here. That do not come here. They are part of the A world as well.

With AA, everyone's an alcoholic. But it's an individual journey. I do not think that AA needs people who aren't alcoholics in it. Because each person can be authentic to themselves.

Here we do not have the complete story. The other side may be shitty. But it's still part of the story.

My ex said to me, about the time she filed for D, that "I never thought I would get a divorce." My ex left me for a man that she knew before we met, that was single at the time we married. That she fairly obviously had feelings for. That she only didn't marry because he was a commitmentphobe at the time and wouldn't have given her the marriage and kids that she wanted. When he agreed to marry her and be a stepdad she was out the door in a New York minute. Yet she still spews the line about never thinking she would get a divorce. I could have confronted her on that, but it wouldn't have mattered. She would never see it, like always. And I'm sure she has the "I'm a good person" message running loud and clear through her head to this day. And she's a functional adult. She lives and thrives.

I am not here for R myself. I am here for closure. But a lot of the "A community" is absent from this site, particularly on the cheater's side. So we get the BS here with uncooperative, manipulative WS who are like rats in an experiment, pushing that button for the 200th time for the food pellet that never comes, because they saw it work for another rat.

Walloped posted 12/16/2019 09:03 AM

Striver,

I absolutely agree that this site consists of people who make up just a small portion of the WS universe. I don’t think anybody is saying that the WS mindset we see here is necessarily indicative of all WS thinking. I also don’t see how your explanation helps with talking about “this site” as if the site has an agenda and it’s not just that people all have different ideas and perspectives, or the contention that WS’s walk around here like gods. Unless you mean that by virtue of the fact that they are allowed to walk around period or that they have a safe space in a protected forum. But that’s a very different thing.

Separately, I am sincerely sorry your WW did that to you.

DevastatedDee posted 12/16/2019 09:11 AM

It's a deal breaker because I deserve better, I can do better than a garden variety pos cheater, and I'd rather be by myself than with a loser with no integrity. I would love for my ex husband to become a better man for the sake of the boys, but he'll still be someone who betrayed ME.
I refuse to be the affair police. I will never trust someone who lied to my face every single day for 2.5 years, who betrayed me a thousand different ways while I was being the loving wife.
I dont judge others, I don't know their situation, but for me it will always be a deal breaker because I could never respect the cheater ever again and I would never trust him. Those are two very vital elements needed in a marriage. Some can learn to trust again, I'm not them.

Yeah, I can relate to all that. It isn't just that I might not ever have been able to trust him again even if he got his shit together. It was that I didn't want to trust him again. There was nothing in me that wanted to risk trusting him again. You do need both parties to want to make it work, and I don't think that I would ever have wanted to make it work. I am way too comfortable with being on my own to risk myself with a bad bet like that.

sisoon posted 12/16/2019 09:51 AM

Thumos,

I'm seeing the effects of D on my 10 year old GS. (The process started 2 years ago, after years of terrible fighting between my S and XDIL.) Yes, it's devastating. In my son's case, it would have been worse if they had stayed together, much worse. But there's no way to get around the devastation.

Our GS is working his way through it. During the strife he acted out at school, hitting fellow students and worse. He just moved to a new school, and his old classmates organized a going away party for him. Think about that - he changed from being a bully 2 years ago into a kid valued by the kids he used to bully, all while going through his parents' D and separation. (He does see a therapist, and I'm sure that helped.)

Kids are sensitive, but flexible and responsive.

IOW, if your kid is insecure now, coming to a definitive solution can restore his sense of security, and he may very well move on beautifully.

You MUST give up your fear of making a mistake, for your own well-being. Again, life is risk. Very, very little in life is 100%. You're human. You make mistakes every day, whether you recognize the mistakes or not. You're imperfect. And that's all OK. You are OK.

I believe you will consider your loved ones in making your decisions. My bet is the best decision for you will be the best decision for them, because they are a natural part of your decision-making process.

*****

I hope your talks with your W bring you together. I hope she passes the poly. I hope you can describe the M you want, and I hope your vision and your W's fit together well. I hope both of you commit to building that M, and I hope both of you deliver what you've promised.

But if that doesn't happen, you can still thrive, and you can still be the person and parent and partner that you want to be.

*****

This site is extremely namby pamby when it gets into the mind of cheaters.
No one here gets into the mind of any WS except for the WSes who tell us what's on their minds.

There's a lot of speculation about what's in other peoples' minds here, but no one can know what another person thinks unless s/he tells us. And no one can know more about a specific person's feelings than what that person tells us - an a person can tell us only what s/he thinks s/he feels....

IOW, I believe you would heal more fully if you stopped trying to universalize (sorry for the neologism) your experience. Generalizing helps not one whit in processing one's feelings.

And I don't see a lot of namby-pambyness WRT WSes.

I saw it in the eyes of my ex. They feel like they are gods.
How many WSes have you interviewed? How did you select your survey participants? Or are you basing your conclusion on one sure data point, your XW?

Not all WSes are the same. There are patterns. For example, my W's A started as a KISA A - she saw herself as saving ow from killing herself. That's a lot different from an 'exit A.' On d-day, the look in my W's eyes was not that of a god(dess).

[This message edited by sisoon at 9:55 AM, December 16th (Monday)]

hikingout posted 12/16/2019 10:33 AM

I hope it's okay for a WS to chime in here.

My experience, and that's all I have, is that infidelity was a deal breaker. It's a time when the BS can decide for themselves if its S, D, or R.

Cheating means the old deal is no longer on the table. The patterns of the old marriage can be thrown out as they are no longer acceptable. How many BS here who we all respect ended up requiring different terms for their marriage moving forward? A whole lot of the successful ones. Many of their WS really had to do a complete turn around and step up their game on a level I am not sure the BS ever thought they would see. How is that weak?

I think where I might relate a bit to Thumos - H and I had a good marriage before. H really didn't want anything to change, he liked how things were before. So, I wonder if there is some sense of nothing really changing significantly that makes you miss it being a deal breaker? I don't think that as many people have as good of a marriage as you have stated in the past and I think that brings with it a different set of challenges.

He didn't need to ask me to offer more sex, or be more selfless, or to do things for him, or whatever the list is. What he did need to ask was me to get healthy. And, you know what? He thought I was healthy before. In some ways I think that can be an obstacle all of it's own. I wonder if it could mean that they will never go back to even trusting themselves to know what it is they are seeing. I think he can see how hard I have worked, and sees I am different, but in some ways other than maybe thinking I might not cheat again, it really yielded him nothing of real significance.

When some of the BS talk about their pre-A marriage, they will talk about all the stuff they accepted before and they will say "not anymore". I am not sure my husband has anything to say about our pre A marriage. I think he really believes I was even a better spouse in some ways than he was.

I sometimes wonder if that's some of the internal conflict here for you Thumos? For my husband, we have talked about the fact that sometimes he doesn't like that he feels it's him that stepped up his game. And, I think in some ways that makes him question his strength.

I don't think it's that he has stepped up his game, exactly. I think its more we have both acquired skills that makes our relationship work better. We both speak up more, we both use more intent, and we both work now to have some time each week where we are mindfully spending time together. That never happened that much before. And, for him, I think he has mixed emotions about that. I think he enjoys aspects of it, but at the same time I think he has this sense of rewarding me at times when he still has anger and other things he is processing.

It's not weak to want your marriage though. There is no easy direction a BS has after their spouse cheated on them. In many ways, R could be argued as one of the hardest paths. You are literally trying to heal in the presence of the person who broke you. You are trying to find love in the space of your heart that was obliterated by that person. To try and put faith again in that person, while trying to regain your self respect and self worth. It's possibly one of the most vulnerable positions you can be in. That takes a strength, like your wife, I wonder if I would have had if the show had been on the other foot? I have nothing but great respect for my husband and the way he handled himself after the infidelity. I will forever be indebted to a man who inwardly had to turn himself into a pretzel to give me some grace. And then subsequently had to take himself back out of that pretzel and still be able to offer grace...That is an act of love I can not fathom, and it's certainly not weak.

And, it's not weak if people need to D or S either, I certainly don't want to minimize the difficulties there either. So many who went through the added torture after the infidelity only to find out the person they were with didn't have it in them to become a better person or spouse. But, R is not at all for the weak, it takes a lot of strength, and I do believe it's possible your wife sees that.

[This message edited by hikingout at 10:38 AM, December 16th (Monday)]

Thumos posted 12/16/2019 11:54 AM

Our GS is working his way through it. During the strife he acted out at school, hitting fellow students and worse. He just moved to a new school, and his old classmates organized a going away party for him. Think about that - he changed from being a bully 2 years ago into a kid valued by the kids he used to bully, all while going through his parents' D and separation. (He does see a therapist, and I'm sure that helped.)

Kids are sensitive, but flexible and responsive.

IOW, if your kid is insecure now, coming to a definitive solution can restore his sense of security, and he may very well move on beautifully.

That is really helpful perspective, thank you. In my 10 year old’s case he is not insecure and feels very secure. My WW and I have done a good job — perhaps too good of a job — keeping this “under wraps.” I’m pretty confident a separation and D would be a real shock to him. My 18 year old less so, since she knows and already suspected it was going on when she observed my WW and AP flirting.

straha20 posted 12/16/2019 12:09 PM

I had always felt that an affair would be an automatic divorce for me, and when I was faced with my ex-wifes affair, it turned out to be just that. I filed the same day without a second thought. Reading what others go through attempting to reconcile, I just don't see any other person as being worth putting myself through all that.

hdybrh posted 12/16/2019 12:24 PM

To paraphrase the Mike Tyson quote, everyone has a plan until you get hit. Well yeah my WS saw infidelity as a deal breaker early in our marriage, then didn't but didn't feel at risk to, then a few years later committed it. And I never suspected she'd ever cheat, and I certainly wouldn't so what's to worry about... So feelings/beliefs/circumstances change.

As is often the case for men, the P of the PA was really hard to deal with just after dday. Now almost a year out, it's not that aspect that hurts very much any more. It's rather what that action meant: lies, betrayal, vow breaking, that remains as "worse" The mind movies faded thankfully.

So despite the "gut" feeling one thing right away, over time what hurts has changed at least for me

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