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Marriage Vows & Letting Myself off the Hook

sshawness posted 9/30/2020 01:10 AM

I'm about 10 months out from first scraping the surface of my WH's "mistakes". Went through about 2 months of discovering something new every day until I was able to piece together that he had a PA/EA with a 20 year old (WH is 50) and asked her to marry him. She was very open that he was her 4th married boyfriend (at 20!), and when he became too serious, she dumped him. That prompted him to join several (at least 5) dating sites and begin chatting with and dating other women who believed he was divorced.

I found out each and every circumstance and detail 100% on my own, by hijacking his phone, getting into emails, etc., etc. He made a lot of effort to hide everything, but he was pathetic at it, and once I got suspicious, he totally underestimated my ability to find his shit out.

We've of course been on a roller coaster ride since then, and there have been quite a few times when I felt really confident we would be able to reconcile. But, lately the roller coaster is just going down, down, down and he has returned to lying (c'mon he's human, can't expect him to be perfect!), refusing to talk about the affair (even in MC), not calling/texting when he's at work for 12+ hours and comes home late smelling like beer, and on and on and on.

My parents and my sisters are so confused at what more I need to leave. Our 5 children, ages 16-20, have all told me I need to divorce him! He left to go stay with his mom last week and hasn't checked in with me at all, and has just left me as always with all the responsibilities of our home/family. I've no idea what he's doing - crying in bed all day regretting his treatment of me? hanging out at the bar with friends? talking to a divorce lawyer and preparing to finally end things? or most likely just letting his mom cater to him while he discusses how horribly I have reacted to his disgusting behavior.

I had my weekly IC appt today and as I'm talking I'm realizing this is the first time he's left that I haven't called and begged him to come back. It's truly sinking in that there is absolutely nothing more that I can do. I have tried to offer grace (mostly), tried not to overshame (though I've failed miserably at this many times), tried to work on my own faults that led to the pre-infidelity difficulties in our marriage. I told my IC that I really don't think many people would still be sticking by their spouse after all he's done. And all he's not done to mend things. Our conversation kinda led to a place we've touched on a lot lately - divorce. Closing the door, recognizing that I've been through enough and am seeing too little progress or even effort to make progress.

I'm not sure I can do it. If he wants a divorce I will not fight it anymore. But I don't think I can be the one who actually makes the decision to once and for all finalize the end of our marriage.

I'm aware that my H took our marriage vows and crumpled them up and ripped them and threw them to the ground where he stomped on them, spit and then torched them with a match. I know he did that - he completely broke his vows. BUT I DIDN'T. The vows that I made to him still mean something to me. About 10 years ago I had breast cancer and went through nearly 2 years of surgeries, chemo, radiation. My H during that time was a rock star, he could not have dealt with it more perfectly to help me and our kids. Now I'm thinking "for better or for worse"? Yep I promised that all right. Maybe this is just his worse and I need to see him through it? I'm not overly religious, but I do believe in keeping my promises and that was the biggest one I ever made.

I just don't know if I'm ever going to be able to let myself off the hook.

LadyG posted 9/30/2020 01:48 AM

I completely understand where you are coming from.

My STBXWH refused to even look at our Marriage Vows when he wanted to Reconcile or Rug Sweep 12 months ago.

He looked at The vows we had chosen many decades ago As if it was a poisoned letter I was holding But couldnít bring himself to read them. He backed off and away from them like they were toxic.

I demanded that it was only fair that he Divorce me as a matter of principle. That was 6 months ago and I am still waiting.

So today, 12 months on, I informed my Lawyer to serve him.

My WHís Lawyer contacted him today and once again my STBXWH is refusing to Divorce.

Itís a terribly sad situation but my children want me to Divorce him and get myself off the hook and cut WH loose completely.

Good luck with it all 🙏🏼

MaggieNow1960 posted 9/30/2020 01:51 AM

Hi ss. My heart goes out to you. I can hear in your words the pain you're in. What immediately came to mind as I was reading was that he may think he can do as he wishesbecause he believes you'll always be there. Is there a chance thats the case? If you think divorce may be in your future if things don't improve perhaps you should go ahead and file. You mentioned the possibility of his filing. . .why wait for him? The shock might do him good. And lets face it, he deserves it!

Are you doing anything to bring some joy into your life? Seeing friends, trying a new hobby, something/anythng just for yourself. Feel free to pm if your need to vent.

((Hugs))

sillyoldsod posted 9/30/2020 04:25 AM

I'm not sure I can do it. If he wants a divorce I will not fight it anymore. But I don't think I can be the one who actually makes the decision to once and for all finalize the end of our marriage.

I'm aware that my H took our marriage vows and crumpled them up and ripped them and threw them to the ground where he stomped on them, spit and then torched them with a match. I know he did that - he completely broke his vows. BUT I DIDN'T. The vows that I made to him still mean something to me. About 10 years ago I had breast cancer and went through nearly 2 years of surgeries, chemo, radiation. My H during that time was a rock star, he could not have dealt with it more perfectly to help me and our kids. Now I'm thinking "for better or for worse"? Yep I promised that all right. Maybe this is just his worse and I need to see him through it? I'm not overly religious, but I do believe in keeping my promises and that was the biggest one I ever made.

That's an interesting viewpoint and one that I have to admit never even crossed my mind when I discovered my XW's infidelity. I offered her R with MC but as she'd checked out and wasn't willing to give up her boyfriend there was no coming back, and so divorce, instigated by me, was sadly inevitable.

You sound like an incredibly loyal, devoted and loving wife sshawness.

I truly admire your perseverance but surely you must wonder going forward, if you aren't deserving of someone who loves and respects you in the same way that you love and respect them? Have you discussed this topic with your IC?

(((sshawness)))

The1stWife posted 9/30/2020 06:20 AM

There are references in the Bible about Divorce due to adultery.

Admirable you take YOUR vows seriously. However your cheating H does not. IMO that negates your marriage.

Your H is making choices that negatively impact your marriage. No vow says you have to stick around for that.

In sickness and in health ó- does not mean you need to stay married to abusive people, serial cheaters, convicts etc. heís not physically ill. You are not abandoning him in his time of need.

You need to accept the fact heís a cheater and you deserve better. There is no shame or guilt in standing up for yourself.

I spent only 6 months trying to ďsaveĒ my marriage until I realized my children and I would be better off not living under his infidelity. My ability to decide to put me first was one of the first times I did that. Usually I put everyone else first.

My children deserved a mom who was not crying 24/7 or miserable or struggling. My children deserved a life of tranquility and calm (not that we fought in front of them). But there was some tension. Kids see it. They are not immune.

You are hanging by a thread ó when you should be soaring to new heights. Living your best life means cutting out the parts that no longer work. And your marriage clearly is dying a slow death.

Ask yourself this ó- do I want to be in this position 6 months from now? One year from now? Five years from now? Living separated but not D? Living with a dysfunctional H who is living with his parents?

He doesnít care about your marriage. His actions show that.

Itís time to move on unfortunately. Face reality. If you donít want to D thatís okay. But at least act like you moving forward by setting boundaries for him, moving ahead with your life w/out him and stop hoping and waiting for him to change and come back.

99problems posted 9/30/2020 10:19 AM

I actually had my vows, stored in the suit jacket I wore on our wedding day.
When she squatted over her vows and took a large dump on them (figuratively)
I took mine and burned them. You cannot be in a marriage of one when there are two participants.
I'm getting rid of the vow-breaker now, my life will be(and already is) much better without a traitorous, venomous snake waiting to bite me around every corner.

apache posted 9/30/2020 11:00 AM

I also believe marriage vows are to be taken seriously, but the Bible gives permission for divorce for exactly one reason, and that is adultery. It states is clearly and multiple times.

It literally is not only "til death do us part"

You can't solve an equation if you don't use the whole formula.

You don't have to divorce for infidelity, but it is expressly permitted.

Factor all that into you thought process and decide what's right for you.

Thumos posted 9/30/2020 11:05 AM

This was a rather infamous moment for me and my WW. One day on the way home from marital counseling (yes, I know, big mistake) I brought up the vows and said that I viewed them as a blood oath and not subject to interpretation. She responded that she didn't see it the same way and I was being "sanctimonious" and "black and white" about the vows. I asked her if she meant the vows were conditional and contextual, and she refused to be specific, only saying "We see it differently." That should have been my exit sign. Instead I hung around for four more years, and even now I'm not officially divorced, just working through the process.

Among many other things she said after D-Day this was among the most damaging to any reconciliation attempt.

This0is0Fine posted 9/30/2020 11:08 AM

Contracts cut both ways. If the other side breaks their half of the contract, it is void. You no longer have to uphold your half.

Only if he recommits and makes a new vow and you do too is there a contract.

Imagine you are renting out an apartment for a one year lease, "Oh I said I'd let them use the apartment for the year. Even if they don't pay me, I made a promise to let them stay for a year."

You are submitting yourself to a hugely abusive situation if nothing will cause you to consider D. What if he does it again? More "for worse" and you just submit yourself to all kinds of pain?

[This message edited by This0is0Fine at 11:09 AM, September 30th (Wednesday)]

tushnurse posted 9/30/2020 11:25 AM

Old timer here.

I do NOT see any comparison on your cancer/treatment and recovery, and his choice to cheat, repeatedly, and disregard not only his spouse but his whole family.

One is abuse, the other is completely out of both your control.
It's ok to take your vows seriously, but cheating and not stopping and not doing the work to heal yourself and your M, is CHOICE, your spouse is CHOOSING to NOT be a good person, to NOT own his shit, and to NOT do the work to honor and respect you.

If you choose to stay in that relationship, you are consciously choosing to allow him to abuse you.
I would encourage you to explore what it is that you may or may not be afraid of with D. You deserve much better than what he has given you. It is also 100% your decision to demand better.

taken4granted posted 9/30/2020 11:47 AM

I'm with TN on this one. You can't compare cancer to and affair. After reading TN's response, it got me thinking that you seem to feel guilt about cancer while your WH doesn't feel guilt about the decisions that he's actively making. You didn't have a choice.

I was also thinking that perhaps your cancer served a purpose for him. Perhaps he could use it as a forum to get sympathy and attention from other women for the care that he was giving you. I know my EXWH would have done just that. So perhaps I'm projecting a little here, but I don't believe that your WH is as kind and caring as he may have portrayed himself at that time.

crazyblindsided posted 9/30/2020 11:51 AM

(((sshawness))) sorry you are here but glad you found us.

Your WS sounds totally checked out to me and he needs to hit some kind of bottom.

I'm realizing this is the first time he's left that I haven't called and begged him to come back. It's truly sinking in that there is absolutely nothing more that I can do. I have tried to offer grace (mostly), tried not to overshame (though I've failed miserably at this many times), tried to work on my own faults that led to the pre-infidelity difficulties in our marriage. I told my IC that I really don't think many people would still be sticking by their spouse after all he's done. And all he's not done to mend things. Our conversation kinda led to a place we've touched on a lot lately - divorce. Closing the door, recognizing that I've been through enough and am seeing too little progress or even effort to make progress.

You have to let go of the outcome. This is the part that drove me crazy was that I couldn't get my STBX to "get it" nor will he ever "get it" because he cannot look past himself.

I'm glad you are seeing an IC that is good. I would also try to keep No Contact with him until he gets his act together (it may or may not happen. In my case it never happened).

Look into the 180 and start detaching. It takes a while for your heart to catch up to your head and it is not easy coming to the conclusion that you may need to end the marriage for your mental health.

DevastatedDee posted 9/30/2020 12:43 PM

I'm aware that my H took our marriage vows and crumpled them up and ripped them and threw them to the ground where he stomped on them, spit and then torched them with a match. I know he did that - he completely broke his vows. BUT I DIDN'T. The vows that I made to him still mean something to me.

You can't have a marriage between just you and your vows. That's not keeping a marriage alive. That's a part of your mind stubbornly refusing to accept that it's over. That isn't a part of you that's looking out for your own well-being.

I'm not sure I can do it. If he wants a divorce I will not fight it anymore. But I don't think I can be the one who actually makes the decision to once and for all finalize the end of our marriage.

You're talking about paper at this point. The marriage is dead. Those divorce papers are just the legal stuff, not the vows. The vows already died when he decided that he wasn't interested in upholding his half of them. He made the decision to end the marriage already. Even if you filed for divorce today, you aren't the one who ended the marriage that these vows stand for. You would just be finalizing paperwork. It's like pretending you have a home until the insurance adjuster puts it in writing that your house did indeed burn down.

sshawness posted 9/30/2020 19:23 PM

I am so thankful for your responses. This forum is an absolute god-send.

I think it's true that he hasn't really felt just how dire the consequences of his actions could be. In fact, last week when I told him I was done with his lying and crap, he literally "yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever"ed me! Asshole.

surely you must wonder going forward, if you aren't deserving of someone who loves and respects you in the same way that you love and respect them?
Sillyoldsod, when I read this, it hit me that this is indirectly what my 20 year old daughter has been asking me. Ugh. Not what I want to be displaying for her AT ALL. I think what's stunting me here is that for so many years, I really felt his love and respect. But he's not showing it now and I need to be honest with myself about that.

I really appreciate you all showing me how to see the marriage vows from another viewpoint. There is guilt in my "giving up" on the marriage. I really told about my cancer treatment to show that there were really times when I could count on him, not because if he helped me get through cancer, I should help him get through the pain that his choices have caused. But, you know what, I think I brought that up because he has used it "against" me over and over the past 10 months. It's either used in "how could you think I don't love you. I nursed you through cancer treatment." or other times he'll mention it as if he should have received bonus points for being a decent husband during that time and he wants to use them to pay his way out of this hole.

This0is0Fine, I'm typically a pretty black and white person, so your kinda simple notion that the contract is void once one side breaks the agreement, is pretty comforting to me. Now if I could just get my heart to agree.

I will stay NC. Should be pretty interesting to see how long it takes for him to contact me. Every day has been a little easier.

99problems posted 9/30/2020 19:41 PM

My stbxww said "how could you think I didn't love you, I had a kid with you."
Well, fucking 10+ other guys was a start.
And now she's having my kid call another man "stepdad" within 2 months of meeting him.
Gee, I wonder if she loved me? (I don't)

DevastatedDee posted 9/30/2020 20:37 PM

I really appreciate you all showing me how to see the marriage vows from another viewpoint. There is guilt in my "giving up" on the marriage. I really told about my cancer treatment to show that there were really times when I could count on him, not because if he helped me get through cancer, I should help him get through the pain that his choices have caused. But, you know what, I think I brought that up because he has used it "against" me over and over the past 10 months. It's either used in "how could you think I don't love you. I nursed you through cancer treatment." or other times he'll mention it as if he should have received bonus points for being a decent husband during that time and he wants to use them to pay his way out of this hole.

In fairness, supporting your spouse through cancer treatment is what you are supposed to do. He doesn't get bonus points for not being a sociopath at that time.

BellaLee posted 10/1/2020 11:14 AM

Hi @sshawness, I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this painful situation in your marriage. I also take my marriage vows seriously and it is sad that while you've done this, your H has chosen not to.
I'm always rooting for marriages to be healed and reconciled but mindful of the important fact that a marriage needs two people who are committed to working at it. I think it's good that you're going for counseling, I think this well help you to be in a stronger place emotionally.

Do keep giving yourself the care and kindness that you deserve and don't feel you have to rush to make any decisions. Honestly hope your H comes to that profound realization of the errors of his actions.

Whatever happens, always remember that you are worthy of love that can be trusted.

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