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Help me! Reconciled but confused

jaberwocky posted 10/6/2019 16:27 PM

Hi all,

Iím a long time lurker, first time WH poster. Iím greatly appreciative of the frank advice in these forums. Reading similar peopleís experiences helped me understand what I was going through after I confessed to my BW. Luckily we have R, it was very tough for a while but amazingly she has near completely forgiven me. However I need help as I still question whether being in this M is right for us, or is this just the normal aftermath of A or a (early) mid life crisis...

Sadly rather cliche A, 23 yo single COW (10 years younger than me). We worked together for a year before anything physical happened. From the moment I met her I thought she was stunning, felt a spark and I guess that slowly built over time into intense electricity whenever we were in close proximity. First time it happened was a drunken kiss at the end of the night after firm drinks. It felt so amazing, blew my mind that it happened (even though I fantasised many times about it I never thought she would actually make a move). We didnít speak about it after the event (she didnít want to which I thought was odd) but flirting at work continued and next time we were drunk we kissed again. This pattern continues for six months or so and I didnít feel bad about it as I thought a drunken passionate kiss was harmless fun. I was deeply attracted to her and we had so much fun, often in hysterics every time we interacted at work. Each time we kissed I felt so alive. Finally on the fifth (very) drunken night out, went back to her place clothes came off and we got intimate. I never expected it to go this far but looking back it was inevitable. Morning after I felt so much dread I fully confessed to BW and truthfully answered every question she put to me. BW is strong willed and independent so I genuinely expected her to get rid of me on the spot (my A wasnít self sabotage) as I know she would cope fine without me and has made it clear in the past she has zero tolerance for cheating. She kicked me out for a couple of weeks (kept secret from family) and we slowly rebuilt and I made my way back into our bedroom via counseling etc. Itís not 100% where it was pre A, but six months after d day she seems to hold no grudges and we are back to life as usual.

Luckily AP moved on (she was head hunted for better position at rival firm) two months after d day (took me a long time to convince BW I could continue to work with AP - she is a lot happier now that I donít see AP at the office any more!) I told AP I confessed to BW - AP wasnít happy about this and was worried it would become public. However flirting continued and knowing we couldnít have each other made it even more tempting. To the point where I would continually fantasise about AP. Nothing physical has happened since but in those last few weeks working together it came so very close.

I feel like a dirt bag and should appreciate the second chance BW has given me, but I think about AP continually. Also often get very jealous when I see her on social media out with other men etc (should block her but won't make a difference as she pops up on other friends feeds as she goes out quite a bit). I have only seen her once since she left the firm (at industry event, same spark was there) but we have sporadic contact via social media. Itís all rather innocuous, sheíd DM me after I post something online commenting on it and then weíd chat about what we have been up to etc. Nothing directly flirty but there are a few undertones. BW is not aware of this contact. However I know I really should stop this as it isnít helping me move on, but part of me doesnít want to let go. Worse still I think about organising a meet up (somewhere safe like a coffee house) as I miss her company (telling myself it will just be like old friends catching up, nothing more).

What I want is advice on how I can get AP out of my mind as having a foot in each camp is not serving me. It's been over six months and feelings are not subsiding. The feeling I had with her was unlike anything Iíve ever experienced before, but also admit having not seen her for some time probably makes me look back with rose tinted glasses. What makes it hard is that temptation is near - she still lives in same city and if I wanted to jump back in bed with her I donít think it would be that difficult to do. I love BW, and feel we have a solid connection built over 8 years together and are a great team. She cares for me so much, is a great mom, has a successful career and is also beautiful. Looking around at my friends wives makes me feel even luckier! We also have a two year old son and we want to do all we can to avoid raising him in a broken home (we both had divorced parents and it caused issues for us). Iíve been propositioned by women at other times during my relationship with BW but this is the only time Iíve done anything. Counseling suggests what tipped me over the edge with AP was that I was at a low point not enjoying being a new dad and how it changed dynamic between BW and I, which I feel is true (she went from being my wife to a mom). BW also thinks A was a result of self esteem issue - during teens and early 20s was always unlucky with girls but now that Iím a bit older, have a successful career and am in the best physical shape Iíve ever been, women now show interest. Didnít help that AP was someone that once would have felt way out of my league. Physical attraction aside, I had so much fun whenever I was with AP, we really click and she brought out the best in me. However I know there is no real future with AP (she is young, wants to travel soon, and doesnít want a relationship with anyone for the time being) she doesnít really care about me any more than a bit of fun and she has some negative characteristics (immature, selfish, flirts with most men etc) that I doubt I could live with. But even still I sometimes dream about what it could be like being with her and picture some fairy tale where we have amazing sex and laughter, I change her negative habits and we live happily ever after...

M ticks all the boxes as far as a supporting relationship goes but the spark hasnít been there for long time and sexual attraction for each other seems to be waning (before you ask we arenít interested in open relationship). I dont have 10% of the laughs I had with AP... Does it pose a bigger question of do I need to be single to experience more women both sexually and relationship wise (aside from BW and AP have only been with two other people). I donít want to feel Iím just settling. However it scares me to think I could lose everything Iíve worked so hard for in our relationship, family and financially, and if we divorced Iím sure BW would get snapped up by another man very quickly and that could be hard to stomach. My instinct tells me I couldn't find another partner as amazing as BW.

I know it seems like a negative way of looking at it, but it feels like Iím faced with a prisoners dilemma of which form of regret I settle with - 1. losing an amazing wife, half my assets and see my son a whole lot less and potentially cause him issues from having divorced parents. 2. Missing out on a relationship of true passion, lust and excitement (if not with AP, be single and look for someone else). If I stick with 1, which is the logical choice how to fully embrace and accept it? As mentioned I donít think it is helping me being in limbo now.

BW senses something is up and questions if I am 100% committed to M so I need to sort this before M dies a slow death, or worse I relapse. BW has been amazing since d day and I owe it to her to give her my all.

Sorry this has ended up being a ramble but as you can see I'm confused and would appreciate any candid advice you might be able to give me, especially from those who have been in similar situations

JBWD posted 10/6/2019 17:35 PM

You havenít reconciled. You have rugswept.

You owe your wife better than ďhoping you figure out that sheís greatĒ etc. This post is all about how great AP is and the lies you continue to tell your wife who believes youíre all in. Tell your wife ASAP. Get off social media entirely. The fact that you werenít willing to before and that ďGee my wifeís a trooper letting me keep working with APĒ proves how far from remorse you remain.

Then get help for you. Youíre gonna need to figure out the fact that you used your AP to get these amazing sensations. Once that happens I imagine youíll realize AP isnít for you. All while your BW may be realizing that youíre not for her if you can keep lying to her. Regardless your whys are a long way off but need to be understood because right now youíre not safe for anyone.

First things first tell your wife everything that remains and do what she needs to heal- Because you rushed her past it last time and the results were disastrous. Let us know how it goes.

Followtheriver posted 10/6/2019 19:56 PM


I am not sure where to start. I hope that you really don't mind the frank advice that I am going to give you because you most definitely need it. I also hope for your BW's sake that you stick around, especially when the advice seems harsh and it is not what you want to hear because that can be the most valuable.

First off, I suggest that you take a good hard look at your BW. She is the woman who is the mother of your son. She is the one who loves you and her family so much that she goes against her beliefs and offers you the gift of R. She is beautiful, intelligent, kind and loving. She works hard, takes care of your son, your home and even you.

Now look at your son, a gift from God himself. He worships you and his love is unconditional, all because you are his daddy. He believes that you are the strongest and bravest daddy that exists. When he is scared, he runs to you to make the scary monsters go away. He believes in you. He thinks that his daddy is perfect.

Are you seriously going to tell me that you are going to just walk away from the both of them for some fun? Really?

Ok, let's move on. Picture your 23 AP working full time, taking care of a 2 year old, a house and everything else that goes with that. Do you think she can handle it? How much fun do you think she is going to be when real life happens? How is she checking them boxes now? Next.

Now picture your BW married to a man who truly loves her, cherishes her, appreciates how hard she works to take care of her family. Can you see your son running up to him because he scared and trusting him to make the scary monsters go away because it was more important for his real daddy to go have fun than to be there for him. That man will thank God every single day that you walked away so he could have this amazing family. He will appreciate what you don't.

You are not 20 anymore. That boat has sailed and no amount of fun is going to bring it back. You may have the maturity of a 20 year old but you are a grown ass, 33 year old man, with responsibilities and you need to grow the hell up.

Also, just a FYI. I asked all my young, 19 to 24 year old nieces and I have a lot of them, what they would think about a 33, 34 year old man wanting to be with them, have fun as a way to relive his early 20's again. They said and I quote "you mean like to go out with? It would be kind of weird and creepy. Is he some kind of dirty old man? Doesn't he have friends his own age? Does he have money in his wallet or how about a black American express card. Lol. Wouldn't it be like hanging out with our older brother? As far as sleeping with him? No way, it would be like sleeping with someone my dad's age. One said that she would consider it if you looked like Shemar Moore and he's really old, like 40 some."

Real love and real life are not always easy and pretty. They are hard work and it takes a strong person to understand that, like your BW does.

If you want fun in your life, to laugh more, have exciting sex, then what is stopping you from making it happen with your BW? Don't you think that your BW would love the same thing? Have you ever tried or given her the chance?

You really need to be completely honest with your BW, right now. She deserves to know the truth about absolutely everything, so she can make decisions about her own life. You do not have the right to make them for her.

What you do from here on out is going to define what kind of man you really are. So, what kind of man are you?

BraveSirRobin posted 10/6/2019 20:53 PM

If you've been a longtime lurker on SI, you probably have read everything I'm about to say to you already, but I will try anyway.

You say your BW has forgiven you, but she hasn't really, because she has no idea of everything you've done to her. There can be no forgiveness or reconciliation when you're controlling the outcome by lying. She thought you couldn't be trusted not to flirt with the AP at work after D-Day, and she was absolutely right. You're still thinking about betraying her again, and given that you characterize your first fall from grace as "inevitable" (it wasn't), she is at terrible risk of a second betrayal. All the while, you gaslight her and tell her she has nothing to fear. If you've been lurking here, you should know better than to call that R.

If you've been lurking, you should also be aware that it's not AP herself that attracts you so much. Sure, she's young and hot, but this rush you're getting is because you love the ego kibbles of bedding a girl "in her league." She, in turn, loves the power of seducing a married man, feeling irresistible in your eyes and superior to your "boring" wife at home. What you're getting from each other isn't wild and unforgettable, it's cheap and predictable. And it will vanish like a fart in the wind if you are crazy enough to destroy your marriage to get more of it.

If you're like I was post D-Day, you're probably compiling a mental list of everything you haven't done, as opposed to what you have. You came clean voluntarily! You're holding the line! You could bed AP again, but you haven't! Doesn't that count in your favor? Man, as soon as you start in with "At least I," you're done. There is nothing exceptional about you or your A. The AP did not "bring out the best in you," she brought out the worst -- the heedless, selfish side that apparently matches her own. And just saying, "Yeah, I know I'm a dirtbag" is meaningless. You have to dig in and figure out why you're a dirtbag. It's the only path to becoming safe for the people you say you love.

Your problem, as you see it, boils down to this: "I just need to figure out what I want. I don't want to give up a chance to fuck hot young things while I can still pull them in, but I don't want to leave my happy home, loving family, and fat bank account if I'll regret it later." Nowhere in this calculation is the faintest concern for what your choices will do to anyone but you. It's all I, I, I.

You have a ton of work to do.

Justsomelady posted 10/6/2019 23:39 PM

Dude, reread your post. Your main concern is yourself. It is staggering. Your wife deserves better than that. Are you actually able to do the work necessary to be a better person, safer spouse, and be totally transparent with her about the continuation of your affair through flirting and your fantasies? Because your relationship is not based on truth and honesty.

And if you arenít - admit it. People live lives without long term or monogamous commitments - but the good ones do it honestly and transparently. You donít take a good woman down with you if you donít truly want to live married life.

I said this elsewhere recently but love is a verb - it is an action you take. How do you love your family? You arenít really showing it. You seem to love yourself and are worried about how to have the most fun possible and hedge all your bets. Your wife gave you a child and wants to be all in. She senses you arenít - and she is right. Also - it is kinda shitty how you gauge her worth to you by comparing her to your friends wives. She has intrinsic value. She isnít a status symbol.

Now, aside from that - it is normal to pine and have trouble withdrawing from AP. You need to work on that and communicate with your wife. Maiaís withdrawal survival guide - an SI thread - is very useful. Check it out.

Really dive into what made you choose your affair - as you had a lot of opportunities to stop yourself. It was only inevitable because you indulged in it. You are just getting started with a young family and there are a lot of adjustments for sure, but you need to communicate with your spouse so you donít go chasing fantasies whenever life gets hard.

Have you done the basic reading that SI recommends - How to Help your Spouse heal from an affair is a good one. And Not just friends by Shirley glass. Check them out. And consider individual counseling to help you dig into this. But if not, keep posting and reading and steadying yourself to consider the 2x4s heading your way with minimal defensiveness.

[This message edited by Justsomelady at 11:52 PM, October 6th (Sunday)]

DevastatedDee posted 10/7/2019 15:11 PM

Oh boy. Let me condense this down to what I heard when I read this. You don't want to be a grown up. This dad and husband thing is just too hard. You want that to be an excuse to bang a hottie. Your wife used to be a sex object to you but now she's a mom. Maybe you feel like a mom isn't for sex, just 10-years-younger hotties are. Do you hate your wife? Because what you are working yourself up to doing is an act that will hurt her likely beyond anything anyone has ever done to her. You have been lurking here, so this is not new information to you. You have read the Just Found Out forum? If not, please do so. You can't post in it, but reading it is a good idea. If you have any empathy within you for the woman you married and created a child with, you will not be pining for this AP. You will be horrified at your behavior and your thoughts and you will stop it and redirect yourself towards being an adult. Neither of these women are here on earth merely for your pleasure. One is a woman who is capable of screwing around with a married man, therefore lacking in good moral fiber. The other is being a mother to your child and not leaving you due to your infidelity, trying instead to make it work. A woman of good moral character who clearly loves you. An individual with her own thoughts and feelings, whose life you have within your power to completely wreck. You can choose to do so, but if you do, what does that say about you as a human being?

hikingout posted 10/7/2019 15:24 PM

I think your problem is you never allowed yourself to go through withdrawal. Every single contact you made through FB or otherwise reignited the addictive feelings. You are still craving the feelings that the affair gave you.

It means to me you haven't done the right kind of work on yourself. You need to be able to give yourself those feelings. You need to work on your connection with yourself, what is causing your need for chaos. (Get in IC if you aren't). You need to find healthy passions and outlets that make you forget how long you have been doing it because you are so engrossed (mindfulness). You need to count your blessings each day and stop taking everything for granted (gratitude).

But, above all else you need to go full on NC. That means blocking the AP on everything, and mentally changing the channel when you think of her. Read "Romantic Infidelity" by Dr. Frank Pittman, it's not a long article and it's easily googled. Read about limerence. You are perpetuating a myth in your head, you are practicing escapism at the expense of your family.

jaberwocky posted 10/7/2019 21:06 PM

Thanks all for your advice. A lot harsher than what my buddies have said but probably what I need.

Will go full NC with AP (will block and also see if I can get off all social media for a few weeks)

Also will get a sitter and have a chat with BW to let her know where Iím at. I love her and donít want to lose her.

Thank you all again for giving me the tough but honest encouragement I needed.

OwningItNow posted 10/7/2019 23:03 PM

To be fair to you, you have gone through some big life changes. But to be honest with you, you've reacted selfishly and immaturely. While you desire the youthful lust that you believe you can only have with someone new (she looks good because she came along at the right time--new baby) and you desire the easy, carefree moments of your youth, you also desire the status and comfort of creating a family and really seeing it through. What you need is the sense of identity that comes from a new hobby or passionate outlet, not the too-young-for-you chick that doesn't want to be a step-mom. I feel your desire to be young and alive, and that's ok. But you do not realize how much you are going to enjoy watching your children grow, how proud you will be as they learn new things and change, and how sexy it can be to have a kick ass woman right next to you, one you have been through ups and downs with, one who is loving those kids just as you do.

You are in a crisis. You are feeling lost, and that's ok. But your side piece is not the answer, just a twinkly distraction from your real issues--an ego under attack, feeling old and over, life changing before your eyes, and time going by too quickly. Your subconscious is lost and wanting an ego fix, a high--but none of that is real. What's real is losing extended family, an ex-wife, a new wife that hates the ex-wife and maybe her step son, losing the lust with the new wife in 8 years after she has a baby, complications and confusion, and looking back and thinking, "What the hell have I done? I was like Peter Pan, not wanting to grow up." And it will be too late. So you'll stay with the new wife who isn't so cute or fun anymore, and you'll miss the beautiful first wife and the simplicity you had. And you'll hate yourself for not embracing the changes that life was bringing. You'll feel like a fool. And it will haunt you.

But it's not too late to work with a good IC, get honest that the AP looks good because it's a fantasy life you are wanting to escape to, read articles online about midlife crisis, and practice mindfulness--the art of appreciating today. You need help, please get it. And talk about jealousy--wait until that beautiful wife has a new man making her eyes sparkle. You have not known jealousy until you lose a good wife.

It's ok to be broken. I was very broken for a while, but I turned toward a good IC and did lots of reading and learning, and I changed--inside and out. You can too. Good luck.

[This message edited by OwningItNow at 11:05 PM, October 7th (Monday)]

EvolvingSoul posted 10/7/2019 23:30 PM

Hi there jaberwocky,

Welcome to SI.

This statement

whenever I was with AP, we really click and she brought out the best in me
stood out to me.

Think hard about it. While you were with AP, you were actively betraying your wife, risking the security of your family and tossing your own integrity out the window.

You are still doing it, by having ongoing secret communications with her.

Is that really your best self?

I propose that AP does not bring out the best in you, rather she is someone who is fine getting her perceived needs met at someone else's very great expense and she's fine with enabling you to do the same.

Not your best self. Not even close.

Start educating yourself about the true nature of infidelity and how it impacts the people involved. The books "Not Just Friends" by Shirley Glass and "How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair" by Linda MacDonald would be a good start. You have allowed your wife to rug sweep the affair and haven't done any of the work necessary to make yourself a safe partner for her.

I hope you are honest with your wife that you have had continued contact with your affair partner and then establish hard NC with your wife in the loop as part of the process. Then I hope you will be willing to dig in and start the work figuring out how and why you were able to make the choice to betray her. All the things you mentioned (pressure of being a new dad, etc) are reasons you felt low and tempted, but they are not the thinking that green-lighted your choice. Many people face those difficult feelings and they don't betray their spouses. Why you chose to do so is what you will have to discover and work to fix. In the process, you will gain the emotional maturity to take on the role of an adult.

I hope you stick around. Keep posting and reading. There are many fellow travelers here on the path of healing.

Step on, brother.

JBWD posted 10/7/2019 23:53 PM

A lot harsher than what my buddies have said but probably what I need.

Caution regarding ďbuddiesĒ who are willing to give you a pass on shit like this. If these are guys who are ďin onĒ the continued contact etc, youíre gonna need to fix that- Friends of the affair are enemies of the marriage. Your wife takes precedence now. For the first time.

...and also see if I can get off all social media for a few weeks...

Do or do not. There is no try. (Thatís not my own, admittedly.) If thereís a valid work requirement to be on social media you can tailor and set settings appropriately. But this is the kind of simple step you CAN control. There will be MUCH MUCH harder work to do in understanding yourself, simple steps like this need to be wired.

Letís get to work. Everything you say you owe your wife after stabbing her in the back? Letís see you put it into action. Now. Weíre here to prop you up but you gotta take the hard steps and soon.

jaberwocky posted 10/10/2019 16:59 PM

Have started reading ďNot just friendsĒ and am nearly half way through. Great recommendation.

It was shocking how the Ralph and Lara story was near identical to me and AP... very cliche and shows there is nothing unique about my A.

Also the checklist of whether AP would work as a long term relationship really made it clear how stupid I was to think there could be a future!

Thank you again to the commenters, have read your thoughts several times. I know I could have got similar information from reading other posts on here, but it really gave me a wake up call with you all personalizing it to me.

Zugzwang posted 10/10/2019 17:44 PM

IMO "Not Just Friends" is useless. Lets the cheater continue to think the cheating is about the AP or the marriage. Read "How to Help Your Spouse Heal".

Say, you leave your wife. How long will it be till the "spark" wears off with the new girl any girl and you have to be a responsible mature adult again. Time to grow up.

(took me a long time to convince BW I could continue to work with AP
Convince your wife that you can continue to have your affair. How about you tell your wife everything. I bet you will not be able to cake eat anymore. Who knows, after the reality that the affair went underground and never stopped she might tell you that you don't do it for her anymore either.

Krystlebefore posted 10/10/2019 19:47 PM

1. Agree how to help your spouse is what you should read
2. Get off all social media - you wonít die without it but itís killing your marriage
3. If you want a real come to Jesus moment show your BW your post

thatwilldo posted 10/10/2019 21:19 PM

Zugzuang said:

IMO "Not Just Friends" is useless. Lets the cheater continue to think the cheating is about the AP or the marriage. Read "How to Help Your Spouse Heal".

In my opinion, Not Just Friends is an excellent, well-researched book and well worth reading. She has the best advice on boundaries that I've ever read. Also, How to Help Your Spouse... is great because it helps the WW to see how important it is to be honest and gives lots of information on how to accept responsibility and understand what the spouse is going through.

Zugzwang posted 10/11/2019 21:32 PM

If you change yourself, you will not need boundaries. The boundaries will come naturally because you will become a healthy person.

For the beginning before focusing on you and you being the issues. I guess it could help some. Boundaries came easy for me though. You just don't share with women. You don't foster friendships with them. Personally, I didn't need a book to teach me what I already knew because I already knew that what I was doing was wrong or I wouldn't have hidden it.

The only thing useful I got from "Not Just Friends" was the chapter on taking a different perspective on personality traits. You think your AP is carefree and fun. NOPE. The person that abandons their responsibilities and goes out screwing is immature and irresponsible. Not carefree and fun.

Not Just Friends reads like Freud to me. The wrong focus on the whys. Really outdated misconceptions on infidelity. Personally I think it is dangerous. It puts way too much blame and focus on the marriage and it isn't our spouses job to maintain our integrity or happiness. It relies way to much on other people for our own faults and choices. Lets the cheater blameshift and justify IMO. IMO there is no such thing as affair proofing a marriage. There is only affair proofing ones self.

Maybe it is a good read on helping marriages and maybe it might be good on communication. The advice there is pretty universal with or without infidelity just like MC. Fresh out of DDay. No one should be focusing on the marriage when a cheater needs to reconcile themselves. It might even help you understand the process of going down the slippery slope. Still the marriage didn't cause the slope, the unhealthy cheater did.

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