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It's happening again

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BlackRaven posted 6/20/2020 00:02 AM

Nearly 3 months ago, I intercepted a text message and learned that my husband had been having an affair for about 3 months. I confronted him, and he said he wanted to reconcile with me. He cut all contact with the AP, and immediately told me when she tried to contact him. I asked if there had been any other affairs and he said no.

I asked him to move out for a while. We were actually working with a marriage counselor when he had the affair, and we kept working with her for several more weeks but he basically decided he was too screwed up and needed to work on himself before we could work on us. OK, I supported that and was his cheerleader through it, even though it meant our processing the affair was on hold.

He's a former addict, and a child of an alcoholic, but hadn't attended meetings for years and years. He started AA meetings and working with a new therapist. Our marriage hasn't been good for years. There was no emotional intimacy from him, and he often blamed me for his problems. We both saw individual and couples counselors over the years, but it turned out he often lied to them.

He did a two-day intensive therapy session yesterday and today. Yesterday, he realized that he was emotionally and sometimes physically abused by his mother and that's why he's afraid of getting close. Then, today, our 26th wedding anniversary, he called after his therapy session and confessed to 3 other infidelities over the past 20 years, always with coworkers in the office. The longest was 6 weeks, but in two of them they got found out by the higher ups. Once he was fired and once he was told to stop. The other was a one-time thing.

I can't believe that I've spent 90 days in the painful aftermath of learning he had an affair, and now I'm back to square one, learning about 3 other affairs. Does it never end?. He still wants to reconcile, (he hadn't moved back in yet because I wasn't ready) and says that's why he told me, so we could have a clean slate, but I don't know how I would ever trust him again. And I understand that his telling me about it is actually a sign of progress, since he wanted to be truthful, but I don't know if addicts can ever truly change.

I talked to my therapist today and she told me to stay the course, which was to take care of myself and move forward building my own life, but not dismiss the idea of reconciliation.

Mostly, I'm in so much pain today. I turned 58 this week. I feel old and rejected and lonely and scared. I gave up my career when we married and I don't have many friends, really none who live in this town, and with covid I can't go to them anyhow. Plus, I'm embarrassed to tell people. I gave up 26 years of my life to a marriage that was a lie. I just need someone to tell me that I'll be alright. That I will sort out what the right thing to do is. And that someday, it won't hurt so much. I don't expect that I'll ever feel joy or intimacy again, but at least if I knew I wouldn't be so torn for the rest of my life

The1stWife posted 6/20/2020 05:28 AM

Yes you will be okay. You will survive this - we all do.

Your counselor sounds like they know what they are doing and giving you good advice. Work on you but donít dismiss reconciliation is a good plan.

You donít have all the answers. You wish you did. You want to decide on things but itís too soon and you donít know if your H will change enough to warrant a reconciliation. So you are living in limbo so to speak.

I know that can be unsettling and scary. Fear of the unknown. Possibly starting a new life. But it sill be okay. You will have a ďnewĒ life whether you D or R. You wonít have the same marriage- you will create a new marriage, a new normal.

Just take it day by day. Thatís all you can do right now.

And donít rush allowing him to return. You take as long as you need. He needs to prove to you he is worthy of reconciliation.

[This message edited by The1stWife at 5:28 AM, June 20th (Saturday)]

redwing6 posted 6/20/2020 05:59 AM

I'm so sorry you're here. The depth of your pain is immense and will become a roller coaster. It sounds like you have good help. Here, I think you'll find that there is a deep wellspring of wisdom about WS...all of us have been through what you're going through now. Some will advice D, some R, but everyone is here to help you, to advise you and listen to you when you want to rant. Please, keep posting in this thread and use it as a way of venting what you really feel.

Sadly, you have a serial cheater on your hands. Those are the most difficult to R with because, as in your case, they really can't be trusted fully ever. YOU have to make some hard decisions. I don't envy you those.

I only discovered, my WW was a serial AFTER we ended our 4 year marriage. She cheated on my at least 10 times that I know of...and then moved in with my (then) best friend...I was cut completely out of "our" friend circle. It was...difficult to get through.

I won't advise you on D or R, because you have to do what works for YOU. Make sure you're getting enough to eat (yeah, I lost 30 lbs after my DDays). Drink enough fluids and try to not drink too much booze or get high too often. Those can cloud your judgement, and right now that is imperative you keep clear. I would strongly suggest that you read through the Healing Library in the yellow box in the upper left corner of this page. Especially the 180. That will help you deal with your WH over the coming weeks and months.

Notmine posted 6/20/2020 07:55 AM

My husband is also an addict who stopped going to meetings. He had 19 years clean and sober from drugs and alcohol before engaging in an affair, and was looking for AP #2 when he got caught. For addicts, 12-step recovery is not an option. It is a requirement for living life on life's terms. It is a lifetime commitment. When the meetings stop, so does personal growth and freedom from character defects. So also does freedom from the clutches of addictive behaviors and habits. An addict uses substances to cope. If they do not continue to engage in the recovery process, they lose the tools necessary to remain sober and free from active addiction: to cope with life on life's terms. Most of the time, they relapse or turn to other, self-destructive things to cope. I am not saying your husband is a sex addict, because that should be diagnosed by a CSAT, but he is filling the holes in his character/integrity with things that make him feel good. This is the addict's default and why they need to engage fully in the recovery process consistently and for the long term.

In order to stay safe for me, my husband attends IC twice per month with a CSAT, he takes suggestions from his sponsor and therapist and follows the suggestions. He engages fully in the recovery process on the DAILY. This means weekly meetings, prayer and meditation, working the 12 steps, working with a sponsor. This is not optional. He will need to do this for life if he wants to be a human he is able to respect and who is worthy of a marriage to me.

In your post, I see that your husband's lying is a continuous problem. This has and is severely impacting his life and relationships. It will continue to make his life unmanageable if it does not stop. This is both addict and wayward behavior. He will never be a decent human being and you will never be comfortable in the marriage if he does not STOP the dishonesty and the CYA attitude. Long term sobriety will not be sustainable without RIGOROUS HONESTY. It might be scary for him, but it is not optional. If he cannot be honest, he will not be safe for you. Period. No lying by omission, no deflecting. He will need to put his big boy pants on and STOP the LYING if he wants a better life. In the meantime, STOP believing him. He is not trustworthy. His ACTIONS will show you if he is committed to true change.

Your therapist is right. You do not need to decide anything immediately. It is important for you to put YOURSELF first. You cannot control the outcome here. He will either become an adult or he will not. HE will need to be responsible for that. Go to al-anon meetings (there are online meetings). Those folks are POWERFUL allies. Begin to create a support network. Begin to take courses s so that you can be financially independent. See a lawyer to learn your rights and what a divorce will look like for you financially. Get yourself in IC to help you detach and feel better. Knowledge is power. Begin to make yourself stronger. Begin to take your power back. STOP putting your life on hold. STOP letting him run the show, He is incapable of that right now. I am also 58 years old, so I know how you feel. You need to take the actions necessary to get yourself out of a place of fear and into a place fo confidence so that you do not feel trapped. This is not the end of the road, only a different road. You can do this.

Notmine posted 6/20/2020 07:59 AM

**Sorry, just realized that you ARE in IC. That is a safe place. Hang in there.

BlackRaven posted 6/20/2020 09:57 AM

Thank you all. What's really terrible is that a part of me wants to keep the connection with him. I want to talk to him, to see his face. To know that his pain is genuine. But why? Friends say I'm so much better off just moving forward on my own and not looking back. I know that 26 years is a long time, but it doesn't/shouldn't matter to me how his IC is going. Is this normal or am I just the world's biggest codependent.

[This message edited by BlackRaven at 12:34 PM, July 31st (Friday)]

HardKnocks posted 6/20/2020 10:25 AM


Of course you would want to seek meaning, make sense of it, still care.

I'm sure your IC would agree.

Try to be gentle with yourself and realize your feelings are valid. This is all part of the process, and the pain won't always feel this strong.

You will be alright.

Lalagirl posted 6/20/2020 13:22 PM


I really do not have any additional advice than what was already given to you, but wanted to let you know that you will be okay and you have been heard. You are doing everything right - seeing an IC, living separately from your WH, and taking things one day at a time.

Keep posting - we are here for you and will support you no matter which path you take out of infidelity. Building that path will take that dreaded four-letter word: TIME, but you will find it.

Huge hugs,


sisoon posted 6/20/2020 15:29 PM

I, too, agree with your therapist.

In a sense, what counts most from the POV of how good a candidate for R your H may be is whether or not he will do the work necessary to R. Pats behavior affects future behavior but doesn't control it. He has the ability to change. Only time will tell if he'll use that ability.

For you, what counts most is taking care of yourself and deciding if you want D, R or more time to decide.

If you follow your therapists advice, you will survive and thrive, with or without your H.

Your H's cheating is comment on his own weaknesses. They are not results of anything you did or did not do in your M even though you may feel like you're the problem right now. Your H is the problem; you are not. You're still the lovable, loving, capable woman you've always been.

Seriously, you can live a good life whether you D or R or wait to gather more info.

[This message edited by sisoon at 3:30 PM, June 20th (Saturday)]

BlackRaven posted 7/30/2020 10:56 AM

Very brief update.
WH is going to enter a 45 day rehab program. I posted this in General under a thread I started on those with partners in recovery, but I donít feel much of anything. It just reminds me he was in a 90-day rehab program (mandated then, this one is by choice) before he had his first affair.

I thought he was doing great when he got out. But he went on to have four affairs and other addictive behaviors - all behind my back. So I donít know if this time will make a difference, or even how Iíd know, since he was so good at deceiving me.

I also donít know if any of it will be enough for me to move forward with him. The pain is still so real, and thereís a lot of anger now too.

sisoon posted 7/30/2020 12:15 PM


You're 4-5 months out. It's normal for the pain to still be overwhelming.

Your history with your H has positive and negative aspects. Any R is a risk, even if one's WS understands what she's done and what she needs to do on d-day. R is a bigger risk with any addict. Its' a bigger risk with a serial cheater.

And yet, if your h actually came clean a month ago, that's a good sign that he's a good candidate for R. Voluntarily committing to rehab may be a good sign. So R may be a possibility.

If you are focusing on yourself, you're healing.

Buster123 posted 7/30/2020 13:56 PM

I'm so much better off just moving forward on my own and not looking back. I know that 26 years is a long time, but it doesn't/shouldn't matter to me how his IC is going.

He's a SERIAL CHEATER who's been playing russian roulette with your health and lying to your face for a very long time, if you haven't please get tested for STDs immediately (some remain dormant for years) and to top it off he's also an addict, please RUN and end this farce, he's been deceiving you for a very long time, you deserve so much better than a proven cheater, liar and drug addict, cut your losses and RUN !

[This message edited by Buster123 at 7:50 PM, July 30th (Thursday)]

HardKnocks posted 7/30/2020 14:10 PM

Sounds like you're right where you need to be.

You are right in that you don't know if WS's current treatment will make a difference, but I think moving towards your independence is the right tack.

Clarity comes with moving forward and focusing on you. Keep doing that!

[This message edited by HardKnocks at 3:30 PM, July 30th (Thursday)]

Odonna posted 7/30/2020 14:15 PM

Black Raven,

Feeling in limbo, both emotionally and in terms of your future life plan, is just a terrible feeling. It is very tempting just to DECIDE already and get moving. But it is important to have confidence in your decision, and sometimes only time can give you that. So as painful as limbo is, welcome it - for now - as a chance to really explore yourself, and your options, and come to a considered decision.

I will say it is a good sign that after the intense therapy he admitted to the prior affairs. You were not likely to find out about those at this remove, so I expect his therapist really pressed him to do this so that any R would be based on truth and not more lies. The big question is will this realization be enough to make him change his behavior and remain true to you. He may not even know yet.

I always recommend the MacDonald book, "How to Help your Spouse Heal from Your Affair," as a sort of litmus test to help find out. Read it yourself and mark it up as you feel the need, and then give it to him to read on a deadline (it is short) and then come talk to you. Reading it will educate you on how to assess your chances with him, and for him, he will find out if he can do the work. So will you.

Best of luck to you!

squid posted 7/30/2020 14:40 PM

You are dealing with a serial cheater. They are very poor candidates for R.

He obviously is deeply broken and would need to fix himself in order for him to be a safe partner for you.

You learning of his past infidelities is just the same as if they happened today. So treat them as if they are fresh trauma.

and he said he wanted to reconcile with me

This is laughable.

Be careful about focusing solely on his process more than the affairs. This may turn into his continued excuses for justifying his infidelities and eventually rug sweeping the whole thing. He is making this all about himself.

This isn't the time for selfishness from him. He has already showed that he is supremely selfish and a masterful manipulator and liar.

You shouldn't dismiss R. But you should also see what options are for D. Consult an attorney IMMEDIATELY and find out. Knowledge is power.

Remember that EVERY cheater in this stage after discovery goes into self preservation and damage control mode. He is trying to manipulate you. He knows your weak spots and your triggers and is trying to use to them to his advantage.

Look up the 180 and implement it. HARD.

Any gestures and promises at this point are meaningless and hollow. He does not respect you. The only person he truly "loves" is himself.

Remember this when you think you still love him. You love who you thought he was. Not this person that you see before you. It's as if aliens came and snatched up the person you knew before and replaced him with this monster of a clone.

The person you see before you is who he really is. Let that sink in. Messes with your head, for sure.

Take the time you need to make decisions. But don't let him think that you will never leave him. Let him know that you are drawing up divorce papers. Show him you mean business. Otherwise he will have no incentive to change.

You have to be willing to lose the marriage in order to save it.

Hang tough. This ride will get a lot worse before it gets better. Just keep posting.

[This message edited by squid at 2:45 PM, July 30th, 2020 (Thursday)]

The1stWife posted 7/30/2020 15:27 PM

It is possible or this time it will be different b/c he has decided to go to rehab. Maybe heís more invested than he has bed in in the past.

What does your counselor say?

Notmine posted 7/30/2020 17:54 PM

Did he do the work to get into the rehab himself? Is this a rehab for SA? Your husband will not buy into recovery unless HE takes the actions necessary to begin and maintain a program of recovery himself, with no coaching or bargaining or demanding.

If HE made the decision that he needed rehab, he may be able to successfully maintain sobriety, but he will need to go to meetings several times per week (they are online), get a sponsor and take suggestions. He will also need to be in counseling with a CSAT consistently.

I would suggest that your husband get into a halfway house after rehab. This will allow you some time apart and will allow you some space. It will also give him more time to work a program on his own, and to develop tools to help him avoid relapse. There are no guarantees, but it will improve his chances of success.

Thumos posted 7/31/2020 09:28 AM

Most of the time it doesn't work out well to try to R with a serial cheater. We can't say what's best for you in your personal situation.

But there are patterns to these things - human beings just aren't THAT different and we share. more commonalities than we have differences.

So when you're dealing with a serial cheater, you're dealing with a special kind of brokenness. Adultery never has anything to do with the betrayed spouse, but only is about an inner struggle in a cheater's heart with their integrity and character.

Typically when dealing with a serial cheater if you fall into the trap of saying I've already invested so much in this relationship, let's keep going, that's called the "sunk costs fallacy." Hell, that's true of any long-term marriage where infidelity has sundered the bond, including mine.

My two cents: Move forward without him now.

[This message edited by Thumos at 9:28 AM, July 31st (Friday)]

BlackRaven posted 8/1/2020 23:19 PM


What does your counselor say?

She pretty much is supportive of where I am. She's someone I've seen for years and she's not an addiction specialist.


Did he do the work to get into the rehab himself? Is this a rehab for SA?

Yes, he did, and it has that as one of its components. He says he's going hoping he will come out healed enough that I will consider R, but that he would go either way in hopes of being a healthier, happier individual.

Notmine posted 8/3/2020 12:40 PM

That is good to hear but he will need to continue the journey consistently and for life or he will not be safe. This means multiple meetings each week, work with a sponsor, counseling with a specialist. Do you think that he will actually walk the walk?

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