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Wife had multiple affairs - struggling

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Beachwalker posted 5/3/2019 20:03 PM

I am glad I found SI. I am glad I am not alone.

I learned my wife of 30 years had become quite stealthy in keeping quiet her affairs with at least 7 men, plus additional e-affairs with at least half a dozen more all over a 20+ year period. These are just the ones I found out about -- I suspect there are more. We have been to counseling and she has made progress into altering her response to her triggers and is showing signs she wants to stay in our relationship.

Here's my problem: My wife is guilty of serial-cheating (which is a form of abuse), serial lieing (also abuse), gaslighting (abuse), and brought home an STD (abuse). I, also, want to stay in the relationship with the woman I love so deeply, but how do I learn to trust my abuser? How do I restore that peace and confidence that I am safe in this relationship?

firenze posted 5/3/2019 20:08 PM

A better question to ask yourself would be why your self-respect and self-worth are so low that you still love someone who would do this to you.

Butforthegrace posted 5/3/2019 20:18 PM

I, also, want to stay in the relationship with the woman I love so deeply, but how do I learn to trust my abuser?

These are two different women. The woman you think you love deeply, she is a figment of your imagination. She exists only in your mind.

The real flesh and blood woman in your home with you, she is not that person. She is an abuser, probably an addict.

The answer is that you cannot "stay" in a relationship with the woman you love, because that woman does not exist.

iamweasel posted 5/3/2019 21:19 PM

^ Both of the above are totally spot on.

Beachwalker posted 5/3/2019 22:28 PM

I thoroughly appreciate your insights and opinions into my situation -- which is why I posted here. I also know there are a few puzzle pieces you are not aware of, so let me share them with you.

One counselor I spoke with said that when my wife was being sexually abused as a little girl, – and this did happen – she would engage in “splitting” while the abuse took place. This is not the same as having 2 people in the same body, but she would “go somewhere else” to mentally protect herself from the act, though she couldn’t stop the physical part. He said this has carried over into her adult life and is what enabled her to do what she knew was wrong then come home to her husband and family. This does not excuse nor provide any permission for her to behave the way she did, but may have been the key which unlocked the door to this behavior. So the woman I love really does exist, though she is a sex-addict and an abuser. Should I abandon this addict, kick her out of my home, and tell her not to come back until she straightens out her life? Maybe, and I am prepared to do so. Or, like any other addict, should I stay by her while she is getting help and abiding by the conditions I set down?

I know it may appear that I have low self-respect and/or self-worth because, for now, I choose to stay in this relationship. It would be very easy to just divorce her and move on. It is much more difficult to set down conditions on which I would stay and help her resolve this issue. I chose the latter. But, on 2 separate occasions when I was going to file for divorce, by 2 people who are not acquainted, I was told to “wait”, be patient and give this a little time since she is willing to seek help. Interestingly, I had an appointment with a divorce attorney, not to file for a divorce, but to learn what would happen in court in my situation. That very morning, we had a house fire and I had to cancel the appointment. No one was hurt and only the structure was damaged. Our insurance company arranged for my children to stay in one suite of a hotel while my wife and I have our own suite, and I think Someone Above arranged the fire and room settings so we could talk and cover a lot of ground while having total privacy.

My last point is this: Love and trust are not synonymous. You can trust someone and not love them, and love without trusting. Marriage takes both, so how do we restore this lost ingredient? I want to.

Marz posted 5/3/2019 22:46 PM

That would be up to her to regain your trust.

There's nothing you can do.

If it were me and I was going to try this I'd put it all on her.

The problem is I think she would need serious and deep IC help. That could take quite awhile.

If you're looking for shot term magic I think you'll be dissapointed.

If you have kids I'd get DNA testing ran. Just so you know.

Std testing is a must here as well

PS: addictions can only be managed/controlled

[This message edited by Marz at 10:47 PM, May 3rd (Friday)]

Tallgirl posted 5/3/2019 22:47 PM

Beachwalker, I am sorry you are here. We understand your pain.

It sounds like your wife has had about 20 affairs of some sort over 20 years. I suggest you take a step back and start to look at your situation. This is a very significant betrayal and you don’t want to rugsweep because you love her. It will do you harm in the end.

Please go into the healing library and start reading. There are many excellent articles that will help you understand about infidelity and what you can do. Please read about the 180. about wayward behaviour and their thinking.

I am sorry to say this but your wife is not who you think, she is a serial cheater and incredibly selfish. I imagine she is still lying - hard to stop lying and cheating after 20 yrs.

Is she remorseful? In counselling? Sharing all ids and passwords? What effort is she making?

Please protect and take care of yourself. I have to admit, My first instinct is say - run

I say it to myself often too.

BraveSirRobin posted 5/3/2019 22:49 PM

how do I learn to trust my abuser? How do I restore that peace and confidence that I am safe in this relationship?
You watch for the work. You see if she is reading books, articles, posting in online forums, attending IC. You ask her questions, and she gives you complete answers, even the tough ones that she has to force out through tears. You disclose the As to every OBS you can find and see if she tries to protect the OM. She agrees to end all contact with all APs, shows you the NC letters, and gives you passwords to all her electronic devices. You push back against blameshifting and watch for her to absorb the truth that nothing justifies an A.

Will she get all of this right at the outset? Probably not, but you should be seeing most of it early on, and her compliance should improve over time, rather than decline.

firenze posted 5/3/2019 23:01 PM

Should I abandon this addict, kick her out of my home, and tell her not to come back until she straightens out her life? Maybe, and I am prepared to do so. Or, like any other addict, should I stay by her while she is getting help and abiding by the conditions I set down?

In turn, I would ask you this: How many times should you let an addict betray your trust before you finally tell them to get out and not come back until they've got their shit together? Once? Twice? Five times? Fifteen times?

Limitless tolerance for betrayal only gets you betrayed. At some point consequences must be introduced.

Your wife is not a helpless thing who needs coddling. She's an adult and she's had many, many years to confront her demons and work on them. She has not done so. Instead, she has chosen to spend her life lying, betraying, and abusing the trust of the one person she promised to love and honor above all others. Even as you claim not to let her past sexual abuse excuse her behavior, you use it to excuse her behavior. She's far from the only person to have suffered sexual abuse or other forms of childhood trauma and just like everyone else who ever has, she was and is solely responsible for both her failure to address her trauma and for the trauma she has inflicted upon others.

If you wish to continue down the path of masochism, then so be it. Just do it with your eyes open. The woman you love is a figment of your imagination. The woman you're married to is awful. Perhaps she has it in her to become something other than awful, but history is not on her side.

[This message edited by firenze at 11:04 PM, May 3rd (Friday)]

30yearheartbreak posted 5/3/2019 23:13 PM

Beachwalker, I am in a similar situation. My WH of 30 years was a child of an alcoholic and also sexually abused as a child that sexual abuse went into adulthood and was hidden from everyone including me until just recently when he let the details of his sexual abuse come out and he seemed to go haywire mentally since. All of his life he compartmentalize to survive is trauma. That was how he was able to suffer the abuse and live what look like a normal lifestyle. Like you I love my WH deeply, and don't want to leave him at his lowest point and sickness. We have been separated for 3 months because he refuses to give up his behavior and I had to give him an ultimatum this past week to stop all female connections and start working on the marriage and healing or I have to file D. It was the absolute last thing I wanted to do, but his self-destructive Behavior that I have no control over is beginning to destroy me and our son. I pray daily for his healing and ask God for help. I understand your situation and pray for your family's healing. Many here will say you need to D now, but only you will know when it's time to let go. Hopefully, both our WS get the healing they need to be able to work on R. I wish you strength and peace while you go through this horrible situation.

ibonnie posted 5/3/2019 23:41 PM

That very morning, we had a house fire and I had to cancel the appointment. No one was hurt and only the structure was damaged. Our insurance company arranged for my children to stay in one suite of a hotel while my wife and I have our own suite, and I think Someone Above arranged the fire and room settings so we could talk and cover a lot of ground while having total privacy.

Are you insinuating that your wife committed arson in order to spend some time alone in a hotel room with you!?

[This message edited by ibonnie at 11:41 PM, May 3rd (Friday)]

Emotionalhell posted 5/4/2019 05:29 AM

Beachwalker.... ppl with childhood sexual abuse have a distorted view of relationships. I know from experience. The one who experienced childhood abuse has to be willing to help themselves.
There is a book ..... I love you but I don’t trust you. I have t read it but it is on my list to read.
Take care of yourself. Love yourself. Start putting your needs first. This is not selfish

Tallgirl posted 5/4/2019 07:04 AM

I didnt see your second post until now. I am sorry to hear about about the abuse she endured.

You are right, you can love without trust. A 30 year marriage is hard to give up on.

If she works relentlessly, desperately wants the marriage, is transparent, remorseful, goes to IC , stops lying, stops extramarital sex and much more - she may become safe. You can start to trust. In her case she has even more to work through because of the abuse.

I think trust builds slowly over time - one lie, one omission wipes it away. Post infidelity Trust is fragile.

My WH cheated in different ways for 10 years. We are trial separating today because he continued to lie. He has been remorseful, transparent etc.

I hope you get what you want, at this point I would say she is high risk. What work is she doing?


Zamboni posted 5/4/2019 07:09 AM

Beachwalker,

I am very, very sorry you are dealing with such a significant betrayal.

My STBXWH is a serial cheater. Multiple affairs, prostitution, porn addiction, gambling, strip clubs, you name it.

It’s a terrible toxic combination of addiction, problems setting boundaries, need for validation, entitlement, FOO, and character flaws.

I think you need to dig really, really deep and figure out why you want to salvage a marriage with this woman.

It’s EXTREMELY unlikely it’s going to stop no matter how much you love and forgive her. She is at this point completely numb to her actions.

totallydumb posted 5/4/2019 08:41 AM

Hi Beachwalker,

What exactly are you trying to save here?

I understand after this long of a marriage you probably feel there is a big commitment to keep going on.

But the reality is, the longer this goes on, the more abuse you will endure.

Unfortunately, I seen this similar situation with my first wife. I endured 7 years of this hell before I gave up on a total of 13 years of marriage with 2 children.

Read some of the stories on here. Go to the I can relate forum and check out the serial cheaters thread. While you are doing all this reading, go to the healing library, upper left yellow box of this page, there is some really important information for you in there.

I have a slightly different view of the addictions thing. I am somewhat of a hard ass when it comes to the addictions, Family of origin issues, etc.

We all have issues, some have more or worse issues than others. But each and every one of us is still responsible for our own behavior regardless of these issues. There is no excuse for abusive behavior IMO.

How much of the shit sandwich are you going to eat before you say it is enough?

dancin-gal posted 5/4/2019 08:45 AM

I am going to say that since you have chosen to stay..make sure that you are getting IC too. do things that make you happy be kind to your self.. . and also will suggest that you have permission to talk to your WS's IC, if WS is willing to do the work.. she should be willing to have you know that there is work being done.. it is so hard to show support when you are hurting.. posting , keep a journal writing down the hurt helps release that poison from the A's that is inside of us ..

sisoon posted 5/4/2019 09:30 AM

You'll give trust as she changes - no change, no trust. She will change slowly, and trust should grow even more slowly - let her earn it.

She will almost definitely need the support of a good IC for a long time. Otherwise, I expect she'll cheat again.

I second the idea of a good IC for you, I recommend you find someone who is familiar with trauma and co-dependency or the Drama Triangle.

Logically, I can't help thinking that if there's one cause for her cheating, addressing and resolving that one cause will end her cheating, however many times she cheated. That's easier to say than to do, alas.

FEEL posted 5/4/2019 09:45 AM


How do I restore that peace and confidence that I am safe in this relationship?
This is so common, the BS thinks they can do something. Peace and confidence is not something YOU can restore. This happens in a relationship when the WS puts on their work boots and shows actions on a consistent basis over a period of time.

Speaking of time, the other part is that all of this this (your wife being abused when, younger the multiple affairs and so on) has occurred over a long period of time. As I've said to many BS's over the years I've talked with "Remember, this didn't happen overnight and it doesn't happen overnight". Even some of the simplest changes, take time to even recognize and acknowledge and then the effort needs to put in to make the change. The longer a pattern and situation develops the longer it takes to unwind it.

HouseOfPlane posted 5/4/2019 10:14 AM

How do I restore that peace and confidence that I am safe in this relationship?

BW, did you ever believe in Santa Claus as a kid? Do you still?

Could you force yourself to believe again?

The genie won’t go back in that bottle, which is not to say you can’t have something different. Something where now going forward, your relationship is built on absolute transparency, warts and all. Where you value the truth above making you feel a certain way. Where you want to be with your wife because you’ve found a way to like who she is now, as opposed to carryover from who you thought she was before, but wasn’t.

You’ll also deal with the idea that who she is says something about who you are. If you believe that, then who you are is not in your direct control. You are at the end of the whip.

This A hopefully will launch you on your own journey, as you detach your self from her self.

Michigan posted 5/4/2019 10:35 AM

Your wife has been cheating for 20 years. It’s a successful way of life for her. She has you for security and OM for fun no matter what she does.

Why would she ever stop having affairs? If you could rob banks, get caught by the police and never go to jail would you ever stop robbing banks? Oh, you get to keep the money just like your wife gets to keep the memories of her fun times.

From past experience she knows you will never actually divorce her.

But, on 2 separate occasions when I was going to file for divorce, by 2 people who are not acquainted, I was told to “wait”, be patient and give this a little time since she is willing to seek help.

Beachwalker

How has that worked out for you?

It would be very easy to just divorce her and move on.

Beachwalker


She needs to have some consequences to wake her up. Actually divorce her and live with her unmarried if you can’t live without her. If she cheats again she’ll know that you can just walk.
That might keep her in line. At least you will be trying something new.

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