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Long Term Affairs Part 38

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NewlyAssertive posted 7/27/2018 14:24 PM

I just discovered this and am really grateful for the focus on LTA issues. Here is my story. I'll try to keep it short. My D-day was in Jan, and we are in MC right now. My WS's affair was with an ex from college. They were pretty serious for at least a year and a half in college, maybe two. Then she cheated on him. He was still an undergrad and she graduated and had started a high status professional program and cheated on him with another person in her program.

Officially I know they had a lunch with a mutual friend before our youngest was born (and before her 4th kid was born) and were in casual contact via email and phone. On my own, I discovered so much more. Since 2014 she had moved--in a way I discovered on my own--to a location that allowed them to see each other frequently thru work travel. And I now see evidence she had been in our home town at least twice while I was away with the kids. It's pretty bad: years of repeated lying and also messed up manipulating in which work trips I went on with him or he went on with me included days on his own before or after spent with her. It's completely gutting. And of course all this I discovered after denial, misdirection/manipulation, and trickle-truthing.

Once I found out enough I asked him to separate and was getting my ducks in a row to follow through. He then gave me a heart-felt speech with a blanket apology for not putting me and our family first, that we are the most important things to him, etc. and asked to do MC and bought us a few books to read, took responsibility for fairly frequent negative everyday behavior over the last few years (not surprising given that he was justifying his affair to himself, or comparing me negatively to a person I didn't know was in his life). I agreed to work on things, but made it clear we couldn't rugsweep whatever had happened.

Now we are in MC, having addressed conflict/repair and underlying relationship issues for a little while. In our latest session I brought the affair front and center finally. I have told WS multiple times I wasn't going to wait forever to address the affair, and highlighted the Esther Perel "building a shared story" and reinventing your marriage kinds of questions I wanted answers to. I even gave him an advance head's up I would be bringing it up in our MC session, which he didn't fight (he just seemed sad to face it). I was so kind to him and everything, knowing it would be hard for him. Then in the session itself he goes on and on about how he doesn't want to talk about it, doesn't think it will help, doesn't trust me because of how I've dug up info on him, thinks I won't believe anything he says. I could have killed him, and also wanted to be swallowed up in a hole since I didn't think he was still this entrenched. The therapist just focused on our empathizing with each other, and made the two paths clear to him: that if we don't talk about it, it's a dealbreaker for me. If we do talk about it, it could make things worse or could save the marriage.

But my other dealbreaker is no contact and transparency which I don't have. My WS has done a 180 in terms of how he treats me and the kids, and has been 100% transparent in his daily activities and has gotten out of all future work travel that would put him near his AP. He's also no longer denying there was an affair, but there is zero transparency with email, computer, cell records, etc. and he's guarded with his phone all the time. So my main worry is that I can't tell if he's backburnering his ex and is still in contact, or if he's just delusional thinking he's hiding evidence of stuff I already know happened.

FOr more context, his AP is married & will not leave her high status husband due to money, won't work full time and move to be with my WS even though she could, etc. and prob doesn't want to because it will disrupt her kids' lives and also make it harder for her to be a hard core status-seeker for their college futures. I think she'd like my WH to get a divorce to continue their affair, which her husband doesn't know about (he's a workaholic). This means she sees no problem disrupting our kids' lives as if they don't count as much as hers. What a piece of work.

Their favorite movie was Serendipity so their affair fog narrative was clearly that they are destined to be together, despite the fact that they never lived together in college, that neither relationship, then or now, is infidelity free, that there is zero chance he would ever want to be a stepparent to her kids or actually be a good one, that she is trading one workaholic spouse for another, that he's got health problems she likely has no clue about, etc. My mind says this is not real love but a LTA with an ex you actually did have a relationship with does worry me a lot. A lot. I'm worried I'm going to be backburnered till all our kids are off to college.

I know there is deep shame, and my WH comes from a family with deep shame, his mother was critical and his dad emotionally unpredictable. So he's got few emotional skills. But I think I should cut and run if he can't talk about this stuff soon.

northeasternarea posted 7/27/2018 17:16 PM

Why haven't you told her husband?

NewlyAssertive posted 7/27/2018 18:34 PM

northseasternarea I have thought about this a lot. I do think he deserves to know. If I were him I would be angry that someone could have told me but did not. But for now I want the focus to be on my marriage, and my WH obviously had deep feelings for his AP and hurting her could bond the two of them together in a way I artificially created.

And of course the option of telling the AP's husband is something I could always do in future. My therapist suggested it's not the time to do that at this point, perhaps because that might be needed leverage if we do end up divorcing and he acts out rather than acting fairly and sensibly.

marji posted 7/27/2018 18:42 PM

Fighting You said the words I was feeling just yesterday--dealing with this on my own. My H had a LTA with the massage parlors--at least ten years and twice weekly. Like you H, mine says he never thinks about it, never misses it , never a thought or a feeling; like yours he never initiates any discussion and when I bring it up, which is infrequently these days--three years later--there's not much he has to say other than "I'm sorry."

So it feels like it's only my problem, my issue, my reality. But so it is.

Thank you for checking in here with us.

FightingBack posted 7/27/2018 22:03 PM

Oh Marji, Iím sorry you are feeling alone in this as well. Is this our cross to bear? Do we just accept that we canít share these feelings with our partners? Are there some words to emphasize how important and healing it would be to be able to talk about it still? After all these years?
Have our feelings become again a non- consideration?

MalibuBayBreeze posted 7/27/2018 23:49 PM

He wants to forget. In fact, he claims he never, ever thinks about the LTA unless I bring it up. I think I am at last stepping back and distancing myself emotionally in self-preservation. I have even told him this and although he says that he doesnít want me to feel this way, does nothing to invite that dreaded discussion.

We are on the same page in all other aspects of our life, just not this dark shadow which seems wonít go away. I can pretend for awhile that it didnít happen, and can almost feel happy, but it is never far from the surface.

I become resentful when I feel I have to deal with this on my own. It is very lonely.


That a WS who was involved in a LTA can even attempt to claim they don't think about it unless we bring it up is such utter nonsense. My WH said this to me too once.

Most of us had a relationship with someone else before we married. It may not be often but ex boyfriends/girlfriends come to mind now and then. A song. A memory. A movie. Something will bring them forth from the back of our minds even if for a moment. But though brief, we are thinking about them. They were part of our lives for a while. Just as the AP was for our spouses.

After all the hurt, lies and destruction why must they still insist on trying to pass off such nonsensical thinking to us? Why can't they own up to what they did, and give their grieving spouses the answers they need? It's amazing. They cheat for years, often refuse to talk about it and then blame us for making them think about someone who was a third person in our marriage. Someone who never should have been there in the first place but thanks to our WS's they were. Sharing intimate times with our spouse. Their courage was there while they were betraying us but somehow shrivels up when caught. The contrast is stunning really.

Balls.

steph posted 7/28/2018 13:23 PM

Newly Assertive,

Sorry you are here. I can understand your continued worry.

As far as him not trusting you, really? My husband called me a snoop a few months ago. We actually had a big fight about it but he was the angry one. I was not apologetic and never will be. I trusted him for 28 years and what did he do with that trust? He lied and cheated, then when I caught him he lied and cheated again. He told me NOTHING even when I had proof. Everything I discovered was through checking his phone, emails, etc.... So, go ahead, call me a snoop. I don't care. I consider it self preservation. I think I deserve the right to know what is happening in my life.

He later apologized and admitted that he could see why I have the need to check on him. He can go through my purse, my phone, my emails, hell, he can even read everything I've ever written on SI, it's all true and there is nothing that I need to hide.

So, keep vigilant if your instincts tell you to keep checking.

As far as the OW, I wouldn't give a rat's ass about her. I would though, consider telling her husband. I sure would have appreciated someone telling me my husband was cheating. He was sly so nobody knew and I wouldn't have believed them, but I would have wanted to know. It's up to you.

Whatever is going on, we are here. SI was a life line for me. The people in this forum convinced me to get to counseling when I didn't think I could squeeze it into my obnoxious schedule and it was a life line for me and for my husband.

Best to you.

hopeandhealing posted 7/28/2018 18:33 PM

I feel strongly that the WS, particularly of LTAs, needs to talk about it and he/she must initiate the conversation. That is one of the conditions of R for me. HE needs to check in and see how I am doing, bring up the shit sandwich he fed me. Of course he doesn't want to...guess what? I don't want to eat a shit sandwich everyday either, but I get to, so he can acknowledge and own that he made it and gave it to me.

Initially my WH said he was afraid to bring it up "in case I was having a good day, a moment it wasn't on my mind" I called bs. I said "I think about it everyday, most moments of everyday, you don't want to bring it up because it is a reminder of the awful person you were, capable of hurting those you profess to love". Too bad. If we chew on the sandwich periodically over the course of the day, some days more than others, then he can bring it up, to hear where I am at. Sometimes my reposes is "I am fine, I don't need to talk about it right now". Other times i do want to talk about it and he can listen/answer questions.

The action of the WS in bringing it up is part of the owning process to me and if it reminds them of their actions, good. They should never forget the selfish people they were able to become.

My WH and I are rebuilding our M and thus far, he is a better partner than he has been the entire 22 years of marriage. He is putting our M and my needs first. I am slowly seeing the As take a back seat as I look forward. I am hoping with more time they are but an image in my rear view mirror, an awful part of my story which no longer has a hold on me.

Newly Assertive, I am sorry you are here. This is a good group of people who understand the special kind of pain of a LTA. As I said, it is not a "bad decision" of a ONS, it is the volitional choice to live a whole different life, to lie and deceive for a very long time. There were no OBS for me to tell as with the exception of one (and he already knew), my WHs APs were single. I rather expect though that his knowledge would end any "fog" between your WH and AP quite quickly, as he makes the decision for his r/s.

Malibu,
I don't know if they get better at keeping the secret. My WH had 4 LTAs and was going to his grave with them. Others in his workplace knew, but nobody bothered to tell me. It is almost condoned in his workplace (disgusting) and APs were co-workers (all first responders). Indeed, it was his fourth that he got sloppy with and I read a text, so maybe they don't get "better" with experience. I feel badly for you if you suspect more As. I hope you can put that worry/query to rest somehow or I expect it will haunt you and keep you from moving forward with your WH if that is what you ultimately do.

There are so many good people here at SI. People with integrity and boundaries. Who honored the vows they took. Who value marriage and family. And I wonder why our paths didn't cross with such like minded people and instead crossed with ones who could hurt us so profoundly.

I have wondered the same thing many times over. I feel strongly that there was no "lesson" from this I needed to learn!!

Hugs and strength to everyone here living the special kind of nightmare that LTA give us.

[This message edited by hopeandhealing at 6:36 PM, July 28th (Saturday)]

CaliforniaNative posted 7/29/2018 10:14 AM

But my other dealbreaker is no contact and transparency which I don't have. My WS has done a 180 in terms of how he treats me and the kids, and has been 100% transparent in his daily activities and has gotten out of all future work travel that would put him near his AP. He's also no longer denying there was an affair, but there is zero transparency with email, computer, cell records, etc. and he's guarded with his phone all the time. So my main worry is that I can't tell if he's backburnering his ex and is still in contact, or if he's just delusional thinking he's hiding evidence of stuff I already know happened.

So if this is a deal breaker why are you still with him? Hate to say it but I feel a lot of people, mostly women stay with their way wards out of fear of D. Maybe BS are afraid they wonít be able to make it on their own if they get divorced. Maybe they are worried that they divorce it will wreck their kidsí lives. Or, maybe they are terrified of spending the rest of their life alone. No matter what the concerns are, they all stem from one source: Fear.

Donít settle for less then you deserve.

gmc94 posted 7/29/2018 10:51 AM

NewlyAssertive:

So sorry you are here.
If transparency is a dealbreaker.... well, you know.

Personally, I think if a WS doesn't want NC, they will just take it deeper undercover, but it's still important to have all the passwords, etc. I got lucky in that OW told me (apparently to permanently dump him). That doesn't mean he won't say yes to the next one.
My WH began his PA at the end of a biz trip that me and the kids were on as well.... I know how much that hurts to know he kissed me goodbye so i could get them back to school, then went back to his hotel to f*ck another woman. After that (and assuming WH has told the truth), all other sex was when she came to our town for visits. I'm glad your WH has made other arrangements for his work travel (but hiding his phone? that's just not OK. He gave up his right to privacy the moment he let a third party into your M. Yes, it IS HIS choice... but then you have the choice to leave if he insists on keeping secrecy/privacy).

That you have any empathy is amazing to me. My current cycle seems to be vacillating between indifference and rage.... empathy used to be there, but I guess I'm just tapped out on that right now (my WH doesn't show/share feelings and by the time he gets the "right" 2x4 to follow thru on what I've asked for, my needs have changed and we are back to a new cycle).

Again, I'm so sorry you find yourself here, but SI has been very helpful to me. There seems to be a slowly growing group of folks with long LTAs with former lovers...

I understand the thoughts of "cut and run". I have them too. Have you clearly expressed what needs you may have for your own healing & recovery (aside from NC and transparency)? Sounds like he's doing the day-to-day (as is mine), but what about the other stuff (like talking about the A)? It's really important to make sure you are on the same page as to your boundaries and expectations. Have you and WH read how to help your spouse heal (by Linda McDonald)? That's a must-read IMHO, along with "Not Just Friends" by Shirley Glass.

Godspeed (and feel free to PM me)

[This message edited by gmc94 at 11:02 AM, July 29th, 2018 (Sunday)]

NewlyAssertive posted 7/30/2018 08:47 AM

CaliforniaNative, I'm in the process of asserting those boundaries right now. I think the next month or two will be telling and I have no problem walking if I don't feel emotionally safe and like my WH is not putting our relationship and my needs first. I do have kids who are not toddlers but who are not teens yet, so there is a lot at stake in that regard and I'm giving my WH some room to grow up in ways he has not. His affair partner cheated on him when they dated in college, so I think he's emotionally arrested at that state, or even earlier given his messed up family dynamics. And I'm fairly certain the affair happened bc of my WH's poor boundaries, low self-esteem, and several kinds of crises (health and ED-related, professional, parenting insecurity--and all this happening while I was pretty busy myself: demanding job, default parenting at the toddler stage, ill parents). This affair stabilized him and also allowed him to not have to deal with his own unhappiness. Obviously I'm not going to set myself on fire to keep him warm, so if he can't do the growing he needs to in the near future, I can reinvent my life elsewhere.

For me, it's not so much fear of leaving as the fact that I can still feel love for him, partly because of some of his repair efforts. For years he was clearly unhappy, grumpy, and irritable. But I was pretty avoidant, unassertive, and also just super stressed/busy (professional high status milestones, older toddler stage care, ill family members) during these years of marriage crappiness. I did try to reach out to him, but I didn't insist on his being integrated into family life or to get help. So this affair has broken things wide open for reinvention.

I have the McDonald book which I'm not sure my WH has read, but there is a big section on infidelity in a John Gottman book on intimacy that boils down McDonald and also Shirley Glass's book that he has read, although I'm not sure how closely. He has a lot of shame and anxiety that this will haunt him forever if we talk about it, so it may take a bit more time for it to sink in that this is *already* his reality, and the only thing that matters now is how we handle it--apart or together.

Thanks so much to you all for your support. I'm 6 months post d-day and this combo of a workaholic, very anxious/shame filled WH, a long distance long term affair with one particular ex, and a new spark in our marriage, with kids, that is just so hard to think through.

Edited to add: I've put on the table in MC that talking about the affair is a dealbreaker for me and it has to happen soon. The MC put that to him plainly: don't talk about it and lose the relationship, or talk about it and maybe he loses the relationship (he's worried it will make it worse) or maybe we save it. It's up to him. Assuming he picks talking about it, then other kinds of transparency boundaries, no contact measures, etc. can be addressed more easily.

[This message edited by NewlyAssertive at 7:29 AM, August 1st (Wednesday)]

WhyAgainWhyHer posted 7/30/2018 09:15 AM

Newly, I am sorry you're here too. I'm also dealing with a college fling that resurfaced. I don;t understand why he keeps going back to her but apparently they have had an on off affair for 25 years. He and I have been together over 10 years and this is the 2nd time I;ve busted him with her. But he doesn't know that I know. I;m waiting, for a couple of reasons and it sucks. LTA's are the worst.

Emotionalhell posted 7/31/2018 06:29 AM

The fog is mentioned here on SI in many post. Iím thinking that those involved in LTA are in deeper fogs. What helped you get out of the fog? What happened to make you realize what your actions had done?
It is hard for me to believe that those in LTA ever really come out of the fog.
If you answer me will you please mention how long you LTA was.

Iím sure you justified your actions to keep the LTA going

ETA: did the amount of lies you told to keep the A going every come ha k to haunt you? And wonder who you were at the time?

[This message edited by Emotionalhell at 12:44 PM, July 31st (Tuesday)]

hopeandhealing posted 7/31/2018 23:00 PM

Emotionalhell,

You may want to post your questions in the forum for asking questions of waywards. Those of us on this thread, for as long as I have been reading anyway, have all been betrayed by our partners involved in LTAs.

I can tell you for my WH, there was no fog. As soon as I read a suspicious text between them and called him out on it he dumped her ass first chance he got (without coming clean or admitting to me that the A had occurred).

My WHs As were for his sexual gratification (and maybe theirs). I think the lack of fog was due to a lack of emotional connection. They had lots of "connecting" in other ways , but not emotionally.

WhyAgainWhyHer ,

You deserve so much better. I don't know the details of why you are choosing to stay with your H who is seemingly in an active A, but I hope it is because you are getting your ducks in a row to pull the carpet out from underneath him.

[This message edited by hopeandhealing at 11:03 PM, July 31st (Tuesday)]

Emotionalhell posted 8/1/2018 06:06 AM

@hopeandhealing

My WH was involved in a LTA before pursuing me. 20 plus years with MOW. I recently had something happen that raised a red flag but I have no proof it is still going on.
So for the first four years of us he was still involved. I found proof around the house that he had started about 1990.

[This message edited by Emotionalhell at 12:47 PM, August 1st (Wednesday)]

NewlyAssertive posted 8/1/2018 07:39 AM

WhyAgainWhyHer: So sorry you're facing this. That must have been a huge shock to the system. It's the ability to live a double life that then makes us BS wonder what is real and what is a lie. But one thing I did take from our first MC is that people are complicated and that things don't have to be an either/or. So it's possible my WH did mean things he said or was present for me while also having these feelings/being connected to his ex from college. I found that comforting about the past, although it doesn't of course mean that this is what I would choose for my future. So for me it's all about seeing if our relationship now can be what I want/deserve in terms of safety, opening up to each other and shutting down dangerous connections outside the marriage, etc.

Is there anything your WH's ex has over him that might make him feel the pull to keep coming back? Or things about him that make her validation so valuable that he would risk his marriage to you a second time?

About whether this has really heated up again, of course do keep your eyes and ears open. For what it's worth, I thought the affair had just been taken further underground, but it seems like my WH was just being an adolescent butthead about grieving letting it go (ie, allowing her to send him breakup songs, listening to her breakup songs on her public spotify playlists, etc.--that her dumb but wildly successful husband hasn't noticed this is beyond me). That's of course still a way of being connected to her, but I also understand that with D-Day he's dealing with hurting 2 people, his ex and me. But total no contact and measures of transparency I want him to come up with on his own is what I'm building up to in MC.

[This message edited by NewlyAssertive at 7:42 AM, August 1st (Wednesday)]

NewlyAssertive posted 8/1/2018 07:49 AM

WhyAgainWhyHer and others (is this you, too, EmotionalHell?) whose WH's are reconnecting with exes from high school, college years, early 20s:

One thing my own therapist has said is that a first love in late adolescent years has really strong imprinting powers (from some unique flow of hormones, adrenaline, etc.). Have you all heard this or read it yourselves? She also likened it to some addiction research that suggests that addictions often coincide with some sort of trauma and the person is emotionally arrested in whatever emotional state they were in at the onset of their addiction So if my WH is addicted to his ex he has to face and work through whatever emotional trauma or challenge was happening at the time. In his case she cheated on him when he thought they'd get married one day, and he has had such a complicated, competitive relationship with his parents and siblings that this must have been an extra blow.

If this is true then a WS letting something like this go is particularly hard for these kinds of reasons though not impossible. I'm trying to make sure that I understand this while also asserting my boundaries.

[This message edited by NewlyAssertive at 7:51 AM, August 1st (Wednesday)]

CaliforniaNative posted 8/1/2018 09:18 AM

Newly assertive

My x cheated on me using a work cell. Not providing full transparency is him holding the power. The person who is being unfaithful has the power. They know the secret. They can choose whether to end it, continue it or reveal it. And like any kind of power, it can be intoxicating -- and a lot of fun. When they accuse you of being "paranoid" or "controlling" when you ask to look at their work phone, it is because they are hiding something and want you to stop asking. They know that nobody wants to be "that wife" or "that husband" who is meant to feel insecure or controlling, so they use that to their advantage. Remember: those who have nothing to hide hide nothing.

Itís been 6 months and you do not have full transparency. A spouse who has engaged in any kind of secretive behaviour -- whether it's sexual or financial -- is not trustworthy. They can regain your trust; however, this is done through actions, not words.

WhyAgainWhyHer posted 8/1/2018 13:18 PM

Just to clarify, we are not married but we have lived together over 10 years. We dated a few prior as well. I's staying for now because I guess I kinda hope that they don;t follow through with plans for her to relocate, and maybe he will stay with me. Pathetic, I know, but that's where I am right now. I'm also taking the time I have to try to get set up financially a little better.

I honestly don't know what kind of a hold she has on him. We were all facebook friends for a few months, and she seemed nice, she's pretty with a dry sarcastic sense of humor and she's quickwitted, so she keeps up with him in ways I can't. I;m one of those people that comes up with the witty response days later LOL. I do know he cheated on a college gf to sleep with her, but she would never commit to him. SO maybe that's what keeps drawing him back in. btw, the college gf dumped him.

He is super successful in his field, we live a lifestyle I never had growing up. Its been nice. I think she is looking at that as part of the big picture.

I hate that all of us are here. It truly is a special kind of betrayal when it goes on for years.

[This message edited by WhyAgainWhyHer at 2:37 PM, August 1st (Wednesday)]

Notmetoo2011 posted 8/2/2018 06:53 AM

FightingBack

I also havenít been on this site for a long time. My DDay was 7 years ago last week and today is my 32nd wedding anniversary, (if I was still celebrating). What you wrote really resonated with me.

We are on the same page in all other aspects of our life, just not this dark shadow which seems wonít go away. I can pretend for awhile that it didnít happen, and can almost feel happy, but it is never far from the surface.

I become resentful when I feel I have to deal with this on my own. It is very lonely.

We donít talk about it. Thereís nothing left to say. I canít change what happened. I still think my life is better with him than without him but the past and the hurt is always with me. It makes me sad to realize it is never going to go away.

Peace and hope to all on this thread.

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