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Wife had multiple affairs - struggling

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Crushed7 posted 5/4/2019 10:36 AM

My wife also had many affairs over 20+ years. In fact, so did her sister. They both had similar FOO issues that contributed to developing attention/approval/sex addiction patterns. Both my brother-in-law and I tried desperately to save our marriages after initial discovery. As a result, your story and questions hit close to home.

Your wife is a serial addict and abuser. As a result, her odds of changing are very low. Not impossible, but somewhat improbable. The only person that can pull off a win in spite of those odds is herself. You can't fix her. The best counselor in the world can't change her. Nobody can. She has to come to a point of seeing her own brokenness, seeking out the factors that contributed to get situation, taking responsibility for her choices (and those she has hurt) and then having the self motivation to do a ton of hard work to change herself. Practically speaking, for now that means that she should be seeking a really good IC that will help guide her on this journey and devoting all the time and focus she can to dig into herself. The way she regains trust is through a very long path of lots of effort and consistent actions. The way she retains that trust is through becoming and staying "sober". It's ultimately a heart thing -- she needs to want to be different because she is tired of disrespecting herself and others, so she will do all the necessary things to change.

I think you know that your wife is broken, so part of the above shouldn't come as any surprise. What I don't think you see yet is that you are "broken" too. You've been subjected to years of abuse. You've lived with an addict and, as a result, a pattern typically develops where there is a response to the abuse in a way that ends up enabling it. Your words so far align with that pattern - the perspective that the abuser is just "sick" or "wounded", that she is a wonderful person who you love deeply, that your responsibility is to help/support and taking on the burden to fix things by learning to trust. It all shifts the responsibility from the abuser to the abused.

After my last Dday, a friend approached me and said something to the effect of "You've just been run over by a semi-truck, but you are the one running around trying to make sure everyone else is ok." I think that story applies to you as well. The first stage after discovery is shock/disbelief and that is exactly where you are at right now. The most important thing right now is to realize that you need to take care of yourself.

I have a few of recommendations for you...

1. Discover the pattern that you are in. Some books like "No More Mr Nice Guy", "The Human Magnet Syndrome" or "Codependency No More" might end up resonating with you.

2. Find a really good IC for yourself. You will need to mourn, process, dig and heal for yourself. Understanding why you are accepting the abuse and rushing to help your abuser will be important to understanding and changing things for your own health.

3. You don't have to rush into a decision about your marriage. But you will need to be very mindful about whether your wife is either pulling you back in to the abuse or if she is actually taking steps to change. The best way to accomplish that is to make sure you are healing and aware (therefore #1 and #2 above).

This is an incredibly difficult and painful position to be in, but I'm glad you found us. This tends to be a pro-recomciliation place *as long as your spouse is demonstrating that they are reconcilation material*. For now, focus on you and then you'll be in a better position to figure out where your wife stands and what your next steps should be.

[This message edited by Crushed7 at 10:43 AM, May 4th (Saturday)]

StillLivin posted 5/4/2019 14:37 PM

but how do I learn to trust my abuser? How do I restore that peace and confidence that I am safe in this relationship?

Gently...YOU don't. She broke this, SHE has to repair this. Her actions, or lack of, determine reconciliation.
You have to set boundaries and stick with them. You have to tell her what YOU need in order to heal and she has to be the one to follow through with those actions. Over time, if her actions are consistent, trust will slowly build. Same with your peace being restored.
Now a dose of reality. Your wife is a serial cheater, this may not be possible for her. At some point IF she doesnt do the work, you may have to impose consequences. Divorce is a natural consequence. It may not come to that, but be prepared to walk away if necessary. You need to know your self worth and love yourself right now. Her actions are no reflection on your worth, but hers.
Good luck.

ibonnie posted 5/4/2019 15:16 PM

Is no one else the slighest bit concerned that when the OP had an appointment to meet with a laywer, he thinks his wayward wife SET FIRE TO THEIR HOUSE, which ended up causing structural damage and requiring insurance to step in and set them up in a hotel!?!?!?!

Beachwalker posted 5/4/2019 16:22 PM

BONNIE -- I think you misunderstood what I was saying, and if I misled you, I apologize.

I did not intend to insinuate that my wife set the fire -- that is impossible. The fire was due to some old knob-and-tube wiring that failed. The fire, also, was in an extremely difficult place to reach, hidden in a wall accessible only by chopping holes in the dining room ceiling and/or bathroom floor.

When I mentioned the fire was started by "Someone Above", I wasn't referencing my wife asleep in our bedroom on the 2nd floor. Rather, I was in reference to our Creator.

I hope this clears things up.

hadji posted 5/4/2019 16:45 PM

When you are saying your wife is showing signs that she wants to stay in the relationship, do we take it that your wife has not asked you to want to stay and work it out with her? Does that also mean she hasn't expressed remorse or requested forgiveness?

Shadowfax1 posted 5/4/2019 16:59 PM

My wife (known here as Pippin) is the most wonderful person in the world to me. She also suffered astounding levels of abuse as a girl. Her extreme difficulties as an adult obviously had deep roots in her extreme childhood trauma.

Learning of her affairs was the lowest point of my life. I had three choices.

1 Pass judgment immediately and get divorced.

2 Reserve judgment and wait to see whether she could get out of the fog and resolve her trauma on her own.

3 Take judgment out of the picture altogether. Convince her I was with her until the end of the line, no matter what. Jump into the fog with her and help her find the way out. Start the lifelong process of helping her heal from her earlier wounds.

I guess the standard advice is (1) or (2). I chose (3). It was the most frightening, painful, difficult task I have ever undertaken - but also the most rewarding.

We looked together at all the facts of her life, many of which are so shocking that she had concealed them from me and from herself.

We helped her see that the extensive cruelty she had endured was not her fault.

We connected all the dots to understand why she had succumbed to an affair and how to better protect her from predatory men going forward.

And we learned how to be better partners and lovers to each other.

She is now shining more brilliantly than ever before. Because she knows that although her actions have not always been lovable, she herself always was and always will be the most lovable person in the world to me.

I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the hero I always wanted to be to her, in a way no other man could have been.

And we have built a bond so robust that nothing will ever come between us again.

Some might dismiss me as co-dependent. My therapist does not. Although the choice I made might not be right for everybody, it might be right for some. It was certainly right for me.

Beachwalker posted 5/4/2019 17:00 PM

HADJI – Some examples of my wife showing signs of wanting to stay in our relationship:

1. I have access to her phone, email, texts, social media, etc. without restrictions.
2. We have been paying out of pocket for our current counselor since January because he is not on our insurance. Since my OT has been severely cut, we will have to discontinue visiting him. My wife is actively searching through counselors covered by our insurance to locate a replacement.
3. She is constantly informing me of where she is going, with whom, and when she will be back. When possible, she takes one of our children with her.
When we talk, sometimes, she will cry about what she has done and express remorse. And, just last night, she hugged me and asked me to forgive her, and this is not the first time she has done this.

Beachwalker posted 5/4/2019 17:22 PM

SHADOWFOX: Thank you for sharing your story with me. I am extremely happy for you and your wife and how things worked out. I, too, am looking for a similar ending, and I know it is possible. However improbable, it is possible.

Following the advice of a counselor, I do have an exit strategy should I find my wife violates any of the 4 conditions I set down for me to stay with her. Part of the strategy is time dependent, so she has plenty of opportunity to convince me she is sincere about changing, that she loves me, and wants to stay married to me. I just keep coming back to the thought that if our roles were reversed, how would I want my wife to treat me?

hadji posted 5/4/2019 17:37 PM

Ok. That changes things a bit. When you do not describe the actions of your spouse, people tend to assume the worst and think that you have an unapologetic spouse. Not that we'd tell you to trust your WS right away, but if the actions are consistent and to a level where you can't ask her for more, then all you can do is watch closely and wait. Is there something that you wish she can do better? Was she forthcoming with all the information? Was there trickle truth? Do you still believe there are things she hasn't told you completely? Is her remorse a reaction to your pain or is it about the whole situation - about what you have lost together?

Having said that, when you tell that you love her deeply, do you mean love as an action or love as a feeling?

[This message edited by hadji at 5:39 PM, May 4th (Saturday)]

hadji posted 5/4/2019 17:44 PM

[This message edited by hadji at 12:19 AM, May 5th (Sunday)]

Beachwalker posted 5/4/2019 19:20 PM

HADJI: Shadowfox is not the only one to tell me a story like his. Because of the many other similar accounts, I still hold out hope for my relationship. Kevin Jackson and other authors whose work I have read, and counselors I have spoken with will, also, uphold the possibility of reconciliation, even with such a torrid past.

Regarding your questions, I do not know of anything I can ask of my wife to do better. I have taken the advice of others here and in articles I have read and will completely require her to earn back my trust. How is up to her, 100%.

She has not been freely providing me information, some of which if I hadn’t asked, I wouldn’t have known about. For example, immediately after learning about 1 boyfriend, we were at the counselor’s office and I asked if there were any more men, she said “no.” In a subsequent session, I confronted her about 2 more, to which she confessed. I asked if there were any more, she said “no.” In a phone conversation I asked if there were more men and since she saw that I had learned about more on her phone, she confessed to 5 more, some I already knew about, a couple I did not. Still other men I have asked about individually and she has confessed to them. Plus, some of her testimony does not agree with some of her written communications, and I believe there is more she is withholding.

There is remorse from her for either her actions or being caught – I cannot tell which it is. In time, we will see.

I love my wife both emotionally and in action. Her love language is service, so I volunteer to take the kids to school, help with laundry and dishes, take care of her car, etc. I know I love her emotionally because every time I hold her in my arms I feel complete – she is the other half of me. I am sad when she’s sad, happy when she is. She is my best friend.

So if my wife is not forthcoming with information, still lying to me, still hiding something from me, and on and on, why am I still married to her at this point? Why do I have an exit strategy which is some time out in the future and not today? Simple – we do not have the money for divorce or dissolution right now. I have a plan to get there but it will take a little while, so in the mean time we will see what she does. This is her opportunity to change, to “get her wiring fixed”, if she’s sincere about doing so. But I will back off and stop trying to help her get better. Instead, I will focus on me for a while.

ibonnie posted 5/4/2019 19:26 PM

BONNIE -- I think you misunderstood what I was saying, and if I misled you, I apologize.

I did not intend to insinuate that my wife set the fire -- that is impossible. The fire was due to some old knob-and-tube wiring that failed. The fire, also, was in an extremely difficult place to reach, hidden in a wall accessible only by chopping holes in the dining room ceiling and/or bathroom floor.

When I mentioned the fire was started by "Someone Above", I wasn't referencing my wife asleep in our bedroom on the 2nd floor. Rather, I was in reference to our Creator.

I hope this clears things up.

I am so sorry!!!!! You mentioned your wife in the line above, and I assumed that's who you were referring to what you said someone above.

I was legitimately worried that your wife committed arson to trap you in a hotel room alone with her. Again, sorry. I hope you at least got a laugh at my mistake.

fareast posted 5/4/2019 20:12 PM

T/j Sorry ibonnie but I got a good laugh out of it. Especially the bold faced type. But hey, you stepped up and showed the OP you cared about his well being. 😁 And despite giving me a chuckle you did a very nice thing.
Beachwalker, what ibonnie was trying to say is that you and your WW are an interesting “match”.🔥🚒

On a more serious note, Beachwalker, you have been with your WW for thirty years. It appears that her cheating has become a routine part of her life. You do realize you can’t change her. She is a seriously broken person. It is up to your WW to demonstrate that she can be a safe partner after all of the A’s and years of infidelity. Some can do it. Some can’t. Please make you a priority after dealing with all of this crap. But I wish you luck with whatever you decide.

Buster123 posted 5/4/2019 20:26 PM

I'm sorry about your situation but she's been cheating on you for most of your M, gave you an STD, thousands of lies, gently your M has been a sham, like someone else said, what are you trying to save here ? what is it going to take from you to get out of this nightmare, you CANNOT change her, my advice is to RUN for the hills, life's too short, you deserve much better than this serial cheater.

Zamboni posted 5/4/2019 20:53 PM


I spent YEARS of my life clinging onto a dead marriage. I get how afraid you are to leave.

My WH casually put his phone and devices down and acted like we were in R all while he was having a LTA and visiting whorehouses abroad.

What a giant waste of my life. Not to mention the psychological damage it caused. I was a wreck checking up on him.

Being subjected to a serial cheater is blatant abuse.

I spend a lot of time visiting my elderly mother in her assisted living facility. It’s really made me pause and think about how precious time is. We aren’t young forever. Life will pass you by. Don’t waste it with someone that is so horrendously disrespectful to you. You are worth more than this.

Beachwalker posted 5/4/2019 21:09 PM

CRUSHED: Thank you for sharing with me what you did. I am so saddened you had 20 years with your wife only to have that history re-written. Obviously, I know how you feel and I share your pain.

I looked up the book “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and have decided I will start with that one, and for 2 reasons. First, the author was on the Rush Limbaugh show, and that in itself is good enough for me! Secondly, it is a “proven plan to get what I want in sex”, SOLD!! Seriously, thank you for the recommendation and I will read it through.

I read through some online articles (actually, I think it was a book placed online for reading free of charge) entitled “Living With a Sex Addict”. There is a lot of content and it took me several weeks of reading during lunch to make it all the way through, but much of what the author (known only as The Wife) had to say reflected what I was thinking, or wondering about.

Some have said that the woman I am in love with doesn’t exist, only the harlot. I have trouble with that suggestion. I have worked second shift for a long time, so my wife takes care of most of the household duties and the children. The kids are straight A students, one is now a Marine with a fantastic job and great wife, they are well fed and dressed, and get to all their practices, friends parties, and so much more. Try convincing my children this woman is a figment of my imagination.

Instead, let’s use this analogy. We recently had an electrical fire in our home where some of the older knob-and-tube wires started a fire in a wall. Everyone got out, no one was hurt, and the only damage was to some structure and smoke damage to everything else. The wiring to the kitchen, lower bath, laundry room, furnace, and so on is just fine and works perfectly. There was just this one wire which failed. So do we tear down the entire house and go live elsewhere, or put a lot of effort into repairing the faulty wiring? I look at my wife in the same way. I could toss her out and look for a new wife with no guarantees there won’t be a similar issue with the next one, or put a lot of work into this one to see if we can salvage her. We will have to get a professional to pull out the old, defective wiring and replace it with wiring up to code. Something similar will have to happen with my wife.

In one of his e-books, Kevin Jackson suggested putting in at least one year trying to save your marriage before pulling the plug. He gave 2 reasons for this thinking. First, I can say that I did everything I could during that year or so to save my marriage. I won't have to go through life wondering what would have happened had I done something different -- peace of mind. Second, when I move on to another relationship, I will be much better prepared to do so. I will know for certain that I made the right decision.

You and a couple of others have mentioned that I, as well as my wife, am “broken”. I never thought of myself as being so. Yes, I am in great pain, terribly humiliated, and feel great shame, but never considered that I, too, needed healing from something I had no part in. Like in your analogy, I would be walking around after a big accident asking if everyone else was ok while totally unaware my left arm was missing. I am going to take the advice of you and others on this site and go back to my IC where we will focus on healing me, my wife will find her IC, and when/if the time is right, we will seek joint marital counseling. One counselor told me that marriage takes 2 functioning adults, and my wife is not functioning.

Sorry this is so long, but thank you for all you suggestions and encouragement.

hadji posted 5/5/2019 00:26 AM

Beachwalker: Of course you can reconcile. No one doubts that. But the 3rd option that Shadowfox talked about. That is not how you reconcile, especially when you have an abusive and TTing WW. That's what everyone here is trying to tell you. In any case some reconciliations "succeed" because the BS are willing to endure whatever their WS puts them through, while others succeed because the BS puts their foot down and makes the WS do the heavy lifting. SI is about being the latter.

Booyah posted 5/5/2019 05:49 AM

Here's another way to look at your analogy of the fire in your home.

You said it was only "one" wire that was faulty so should we "tear down the entire house and go live elsewhere, or put a lot of effort into repairing the faulty wiring"?

You're looking at it like it's "one" wire, but in realty this house you've lived in hasn't just had "one" fire but over TWENTY fires (affairs) that you know about.

Knowing that would you still want to keep a house that obviously is a death trap?

Sorry you're in this situation and glad you found SI.

sisoon posted 5/5/2019 09:28 AM

Yes, I am in great pain, terribly humiliated, and feel great shame, but never considered that I, too, needed healing from something I had no part in.
I would change that to '...feeling terribly humiliated.' It's natural for a BS to feel humiliated, but your W humiliated herself. She failed, you didn't.

Recognizing your pain is the first step in healing. It takes longer than anyone thinks it should, but healing yourself of your grief, anger, fear, and shame is the way to minimize struggling.

Some members talk about D in a way that makes me think they're counseling running away. I don't see it that way. IMO, thriving after being betrayed is much more likely if the BS runs toward joy, not away from pain. I didn't commit to R until I saw a joyful life with both D & R. R looked like it would be more joyful, and my W was remorseful, so I chose R.

Your W is doing some good stuff, but her TT (trickle truth) would be a giant problem for me. So my reco is to prepare to lead a good life both with her an without her, if you're not already doing so.

I trust you know a good IC can help you with your recovery....

[This message edited by sisoon at 9:30 AM, May 5th (Sunday)]

Notthevictem posted 5/5/2019 12:24 PM

So how many times has she hurt you, seen the pain she caused, and continued to do it?

Could you knowingly and repeatedly caused that same pain to someone you love?

Could you cause this repetitive pain not to someone you love but to an acquaintance?

A random stranger?

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