Yes, everything about the entire relationship with my fch was changed. I suddenly realized the entire thing had been a lie. My fch had been pretending the whole time.
Now, I'm left wondering if I want to spend the rest of my life with this new person. If he had been honest about who he while we were dating, I probably would've walked away. But, here I am 20+ years later with 3 more kids and not working outside the home. What am I going to do?
This is but one of the gifts that infidelity keeps on giving.
Well, whenever someone shows you who they are, believe them. Also believe that you cannot change them- only they can change themselves, and only if they genuinely want to change.
What you *can* change is yourself.
You can also change your life, your infrastructure, your marriage status, your living arrangements, but you don't have to do that. The two of you, the two flawed, imperfect people in your marriage, can decide together to support the infrastructure as it is, and to continue to reside within it. It has benefits for you both, and for the persons for whom you both care, i.e. your children. So keep the infrastructure, keep the marriage, keep the house, keep the finances intact, and to avoid further damage, keep your hands literally and figuratively off of other people.
And then, Ms. Coco, set about changing your life to suit you, to a life that makes living with your current compromises more palatable. :)
How can you rearrange your life and reinvent yourself to bring you even more joy and sense of fulfillment, separately from your husband and your marriage? How can you enrich your own life experience, separately from living in compromise and in living a life of service as a wife and as a mother?
Boundary setting was and is important to me; it needed to be addressed both within my marriage (no more kissing the world's ass with my lips to make life easier for Husband) and outside of my marriage ('the world' got really, really comfortable with me puckering up on demand- oh the horror! the carnage! the virtual blood bath when I stopped being a door mat! the tantrums alone have been priceless )
But beyond that, I needed other input: I needed to exercise skill sets, I needed to remind myself and to experience being competent at many and diverse things, I needed friends, I needed challenges and growth opportunities, I needed more variety in my daily venues, I needed inspiration, I needed things and events and people to look forward to. :) So I worked on that, and I'm continuing to work on that.
It's not like I had no life before finding out about this thing that happened years ago- but the more I consider it, the more I do believe that we had grown quietly and actually 'successfully' codependent. It worked so well for us and we got such an ROI that neither of us questioned the status quo. DDay delivered, as several of you have pointed out on this thread, a whole new understanding of Husband and our marriage. I think that it was so threatening and devastating to me precisely because we were so enmeshed, and because I had put up with/participated in so many dysfunctional coping mechanisms, under the guise of "Yeah but he's faithful..." =/
None of this new enrichment stuff makes what Husband did go away- nor should it- but it puts him *and* that stupid thing he did once upon a time in a much larger context, thus effectively shrinking it. LOL, THE DREADED SHRINKAGE!
As long as Husband doesn't add to the poop pile by doing it again, that thing is getting easier and easier for me to ignore because my life is filling up with much more interesting things. :)
So yes, like you, Ms. Coco, we are keeping the marriage, we are keeping the infrastructure, we are keeping the dinged vow. These things have value. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Etc. (Insert Your Favorite Cliche Here.) I, however, am expanding my world so that Husband and whatever shenanigans he has pulled, or might pull in the future, are a smaller part of it. :)
All this being said, this whole game plan of keeping this infrastructure and the dinged vow works for me because Husband's indiscretion was (so far) a one off. God love you ladies (and all spouses and sig others) who are putting up with, have fielded and dealt with, multiple infidelities within the same relationship.
I am not making a blanket judgment here: the reasons for multiple/serial infidelities are legion and can be as personal as the individual himself/herself. The reasons for staying with a serial/multiple philanderer are just as legion and personal, I'm sure. While I hold the belief that it's more difficult to stay with a serial/multiple philanderer (once is a bad decision/poor judgment call, twice is a trend, three times is a habit) I'm sure that there are couples who have successfully reconciled if the pathologies behind the behavior are adequately and successfully addressed. So, no judgment- but I will say flat out that for me, simply growing a larger, more interesting life would not be enough to put serial infidelities 'in context.'
Then again, I personally have known/known of women who did just that- they loved their infrastructure, perhaps even loved their husbands as well- and grew large, interesting lives that shrunk their husband's 'indiscretions' down to a size they could manage emotionally/pschologically and/or even flat out ignore. I've watched it happen. I'm not saying that's healthy (at some level, isn't it living a lie? I don't know... what's the difference between turning one's head and living a lie?) but I've watched it happen.
I've also seen the women on both ends of that situation get a raw deal out of it, emotionally if not worse, so there's that too. For many reasons we probably shouldn't get into here, this particular pattern seems to play out more, historically, with male philanderers and female wives and affair partners. It could be changing as infidelity demographics continue to shift toward equal participation by women.
Anyway, just some random thoughts on how I'm trying to get 'unstuck.' Writing it out on this thread has been useful- because I can clearly see, thinking of my own life, that slowly, incrementally, I *am* getting 'unstuck.' :)