I can't control the past.
I think this is a healthy perspective, it’s very true.
I can't impose consequences on 2020 wife for 1987 and 1988 wife.
I would say that even if we could impose consequences — there is no way to balance the injustice of infidelity. That said, punishing your partner isn’t going to help rebuild the newly discovered damage in the relationship.
The quick harsh judgements of the just found out thread shake me.
Everyone means well. Most members are looking for you to protect yourself from getting hurt more. They want you to ask the tough questions to get as much of the truth as you can find. At the very least, you deserve some honesty going forward.
I am trying to make the best of a nightmare situation.
As are we all.
You will get there. We all do, regardless of the path we take.
At any time I could pull the plug and leave her, but she would so land on her feet, what would I accomplish other than compounding my misery with loss?
You do always have that option. But I do think you may need more information in order to best determine your future. For most of us, the first instinct is to save our marriage — and you may yet do that. However, you do need to figure out why your wife made the choices she made. If our spouses don’t work on why they did it, they may make similar choices again in the face of adversity.
And 2-5 years does sound daunting. I was certain I couldn’t survive the pain that long. But I did.
The first few months left me in shock, the next few months I chased down the real truth — my wife confessed but held back key details. Then it takes time to reassemble the puzzle of the life you thought you had to the real puzzle that was your life.
Infidelity is cruel — we get put into competitions we didn’t know we were in.
It takes time to heal from all that.
Keep breathing. Keep reading. Keep posting. Ask all the questions you need, at home and here.
^^^ All of this.
OldWounds was very wise and kind and gentle with me when I got here. Thank you again, OldWounds!
I think I've been through every emotional season possible in the past 2.5 years.
2.5 to 5 years seems like an eternity when one first starts out. Like, seriously? IT'S GOING TO TAKE THAT LONG?
Yes, yes it is. And it will pass excruciatingly slowly in some moments, but overall, it will pass like a fleeting dream, so quickly, because you will reprocess your entire relationship in fast forward.
I've not read back, so please excuse me if my contribution is redundant (it's been a long, busy, productive day and I'm relaxing with a wee nightcap before bed) but you will find yourself not only examining the actual infidelity-
but reprocessing and reevaluating the entire relationship in light of this new information.
For a recent infidelity, the couple typically reprocesses the entire relationship up to the infidelity- MY GOD, WHO ARE YOU REALLY? and How did we get here?- and *then* they process the infidelity.
^^^ Actually, much more accurately, this couple processes the very fact that the infidelity happened- What was it? What *exactly* happened? With whom? When? How? physical details, etc.
I liken this to staring at flaming wreckage, trying to assimilate and absorb horror and deal with PTSD. *Then* this couple begins the exploration of the 'whys,' the WHO ARE YOU REALLY? and How did we get here? and *then* they reprocess the infidelity and put it in the proper context in their lives- either within their new relationship, or within their separation/divorce/individual histories.
^^^ It's easy to see how processing a recent infidelity can take 2 to 5 years. That's a lot of processing- even if the infidelity took place at the wedding reception. =/
Couples who deal with finding out years later have a totally different set of parameters. They have all of the above, PLUS the balance of the relationship that occurred over perhaps years or decades following.
That's a helluva lot more processing- and there is LOTS more information there.
I like to think of processing an infidelity, especially one that occurred years ago and is recently discovered with many more years of marriage to process, as earning a college degree, either 4 year undergrad or post grad.
There were periods in that process that were excruciatingly slow and painful and purgatory or even hellish-
but full well everyone who walks with a diploma thinks back and says, "Where did the time go?"
And they were building new skill sets and larger knowledge bases in that process.
You and hopefully your wife will as well. 2 to 5 years will fly by. They will be painful and productive and ultimately, hopefully, successful. <3
I have a special place in my heart for you, Mrplspls.
Like your experience, my husband's infidelity occurred in June 1987, literally within days of our fifth wedding anniversary. I remember, distinctly, realizing that. Happy Anniversary, Bitches!
In our case, my husband came back from an out of town trip, looking, acting, and being guilty as sin. I knew from the moment he walked in the door that *something* had happened, and I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that it involved another woman.
Weird thing was, this was *totally* new territory for him and me; we'd never been here before that moment. And it was *totally* new territory for me; I'd never been cheated on before. So it's not like I was 'reading' known behavior- and yet, I still absolutely *knew,* from the moment he arrived home.
He couldn't look me in the eyes. He couldn't even look me in the face. He kept talking to a spot in space behind me, over my left shoulder. From the moment he walked in the door. I absolutely knew what that meant.
Long story short, after me gently prodding for three days, he gave me a technically accurate but much abbreviated and sanitized version of what had occurred. I've described it as 'Disney-fied,' if that gives context. It may have been factually correct in terms of what body parts interacted with what body parts but it in no way conveyed the essence of the thing, nor the conscious decision to step over that line with also the conscious understanding and the deliberate decision that deception was an integral part of it, nor the fucked up wayward narrative that he fed himself to make this all possible in the first place.
(I somehow decided early on to give myself permission to cuss like a sailor on SI. I'm not actually this vulgar IRL. Go figure. But it fits my persona here. Please pardon me. <3)
Anyway, I remember distinctly that, at that time, his obvious and palpable level of guilt did not match up with the raft of crap narrative he fed to me when he got home. I knew it. He knew it. We had two babies and we were hard up on the very closing date on our first home.
We rug swept like champs and moved on with life.
And to this day, I distinctly remember doing what I now recognize as 'The Pick Me Dance' for that entire summer, and into and throughout the entire next year. Even for a couple of years following, until life got too busy and drowned out things that weren't happening RIGHT NOW.
But that first summer, OMG.
I have always lived near, tied to, salt water.
Summers were spent immersed in it: salt water, salt air, sunshine (with copious sun screen, I am fair skinned) but as nearly naked as Mother Nature delivered me into this beloved environment, at one and communing with my elements.
Each year's wardrobe of bikinis and functional one piece bathing suits was a conversation between me and my world, a celebration of another trip around the sun, the joy of another birthday (of course I'm a Summer Baby) and the absolute celebration of another year of marriage.
Here's my beautiful body, Husband. I gave it to you. I bore your babies. And I fit right back into that bikini afterwards. Here I am, in the wind and the water and the salt air and the sunshine, in my natural element, as nearly naked as local ordinances will allow, just being myself in my world.
It was an essential celebration of life, of the pure essence of being a woman.
To this very moment, I remember how poignantly and how strongly my husband's indiscretion and, at the time, his *very limited confession* affected that year, that summer.
I remember, in fact, *the very moment* when I found and chose that year's bikini.
I remember seeing it on the rack, on the hanger.
I remember thinking, "Do I dare?"
I remember trying it on.
I remember thinking, "HELL YEAH, I DARE. TAKE THAT, HUSBAND! I'LL SEE YOU AND RAISE YOU YOUR LITTLE ADVENTURE!"
I remember being one of the first women in my locality to dare to rock a bikini that tiny *think Brazilian* with a 2 year old balanced on my hip. And that was my youngest child. In 1987. In a conservative mid-Atlantic area.
Pick Me Dance, hard. I felt the pain. But I had no idea what it was.
In a healthier place, I would not have felt that emptiness and confusion, and like I'd been robbed, somehow, of my place and of my very birthright.
And I sure the hell wouldn't have put myself in the position of trying to chase a 2 year old and a 4 year old around in a Brazilian bikini, no matter how hard I rocked it, and I did.
But here's the point:
There was Another Woman in my world.
There was Another Woman in my head.
She was there when I tried to celebrate another trip around the sun, when I tried to celebrate my world, when I tried to celebrate my very being.
My husband brought her into my world, and in doing so he diminished me, and now I have to fucking deal with her presence.
And it's fucking with my head.
And it's fucking with my very experience of myself.
And that's just off of the very 'Disney-fied' narrative I received at that time.
(God. Fuck him.)
We both Olympic level rug swept, and moved on.
Fast forward to 2018.
Due to a random conversation about *someone else's pending divorce* (the irony!) I referenced that particular experience, and wondered if that couple had dealt with something similar, and Husband, many years down the road and somewhat obscured and befuddled by countless other life events, let drop a detail that belied the entire previous narrative.
...aaaaaaaaaaaaaand, we're off to the races. =/ (Yeah, it was traumatic enough at the onset that I remembered that much detail, and also recognized an inconsistency when I saw it.)
Cue trickle truth, etc. for at least 1.5 years.
And then we had to process THE ENTIRE MARRIAGE.
How did we get to that moment?
How did we get to that point?
What informed that moment, those fucked up decisions?
And what happened afterwards?
What did/does it mean?
Where/how does it fit in?
My husband was so ashamed of his own indiscretion that he never repeated sexual infidelity.
But the 'wayward mindset' that let the thief in the door in the first place was still there. It was always there.
It influenced and directed and informed and guided a vast majority of our relationship, regardless of whether there was another overt, physical, sexual infidelity.
Infidelities take many forms.
And that had to be dealt with, one way or the other. Staying together, or not.
We both had to face it. (We had to face FOO modeling, both in terms of ourselves and our FOO, and in terms of each other, and each other's FOO.)
I've faced and fumbled and faced again and faced off against and fucking destroyed and at times, forgiven out of human empathy and sympathy, my husband's damage that manifested itself as waywardness, both the overt sexual/physical infidelity, and as tendencies and overt characteristics that asserted themselves elsewhere in our lives, in the brief years before, and in the long years after.
And so has he.
And that's fucking HARD. DIFFICULT.
But, it does evolve.
LOL, I remember *distinctly* (as distinctly as I remember buying that damned micro-bikini, OMG) my husband discovering the Wayward Forum on SI and declaring, "I live here now." (He doesn't post. Not his style. I understand it and as long as we are talking, peace.)
He saw himself. He began his own journey.
Hopefully, and so far it appears, that journey is back to us. I have that power of choice as well.
There *is* hope, Mrplspls. I'm here, OldWounds is here, others are here to tell you that it's possible, and achievable.