I can so relate.
On the morning of July 17, 2014, I randomly picked up my husband's phone to find a WhatsApp thread with a final message that read "Thinking of sliding into you". I opened up the conversation thinking, "What the hell is this?" I found a very graphic sexting exchange from the night before with a woman he was only calling by her surname, complete with a nude photo of her chest. Knowing my husband as (I thought) I did, I assumed it must be a joke and there must be some logical explanation, so I thumbed back through the thread to earlier in the conversation until I found this:
Him: Sorry I've been out of touch.
Her: I figured things would be different after [our 2-year-old daughter's name] was born.
My heart exploded and I went cold and numb.
This was the first PTSD moment that I wish I could permanently scrub from my memory.
The shocking realization that my husband not only had some sort of sexual relationship (EA or PA) with this woman, but also the fact that it had carried on so long that it became "different" two years ago - after our daughter was born- was like an out of body experience for me. Horror. Disbelief. This can NOT be happening.
I immediately confronted him with the phone conversation, demanding "WHO IS THIS?" I watched the panic wash over him as he scrambled to think of what to say. I just waited. Finally I asked "Did you have an affair with her???"
Him: (long pause). Yes.
This is the second PTSD moment I wish I could scrub from my memory.
I honestly thought our marriage was affair-proof. (Although now I don't believe that exists.) I never dreamed in a million years that it was even a possibility. It wasn't for ME. One thing I had always admired most about my husband was how honorable he was and how much he respected me. Ha! I have never felt so disrespected in my whole life. I used to believe with my whole heart that he was 100% devoted to me. Shattered.
I found out the PA started and ended during the year I was pregnant with my third child. They met up only twice at a hotel - once during my pregnancy and once when my daughter was "a couple" months old. (He can't remember exactly when.) For a couple years leading up to and then between these two events they had been talking and texting, but after the second hotel hook-up my husband supposedly came to his senses and ended it and didn't contact her for more than a year and a half. Then that one night in July he contacted her by text "just to see how she was doing."
He swears the sexting was just flirting that got out of hand and he had no intention of meeting up with her again. I had to admit there was no indication in the conversation that they were planning to meet but the sexting has clearly made me doubt whether the affair was over. Some will think I am foolish for believing it is over after finding that evidence so recently, but many many conversations with him have convinced me - as much as is possible in my dis-trustful state - that it really was just a stupid flirtation at that point.
He tells me the affair was "just sex", that he never had any intention of leaving and never stopped loving me. Things were really bad between us that spring when the affair started. At age 42 he was really stressed about having a third child - our boys were 4 and 5 then and he thought we were done - he had also just lost 60 pounds and was feeling attractive for the first time since he was in the military. His head was really messed up - I could see that - and he even told me that he was in contact with this particular woman but he framed it as though she was pursuing him and he didn't know why. He swore, of course, that there was nothing going on. I had suspicions by the crazy way he was acting and even asked him several times if he was having an affair, although even then I never believed he actually was - I just wanted affirmation from him that we were still a team.
At one point I accidentally overheard him talking to her on the phone. He has a work phone and personal phone - he thought he had hung up the call with me on the personal phone to answer her on the work phone, but I was still there and I heard everything he said. I confronted him as soon as he realized I was still on the phone. Although what he said was not overtly implying an affair, my instinct was that he was intimate with this person he was talking to, but he was somehow able to convince me that I was wrong and misinterpreting what I heard.
That is one of the most hurtful things in all this - those LIES to convince me *I* was wrong. I believed in him so implicitly that I was totally convinced my instincts were wrong!!!!
The OW was someone he had known when he was 19 and she was 17. They were just friends then but he admitted he felt she was a missed opportunity. I found the FaceBook conversation from 2010 where he tracked her down and slowly over the next couple years they got reacquainted. He said she made him feel "important", because apparently I was not (pregnant with two other small children and running my own business), and eventually they agreed to meet at a hotel while I thought he was at work. He admitted he was living out a fantasy with her - a teenage dream - but he found out the reality was actually very disappointing. (duh)
I feel like he was acting out during that time - acting strangely juvenile - very uncharacteristic for him.
Things DID change after my daughter was born. He fell head over heels in love with her and regretted all the grief he gave me regarding the pregnancy. He broke down in tears apologizing - I thought it was for not wanting the baby, but now I think it also had to do with his guilt.
He did go back to the OW a second time during my post-partum period when he and I weren't having much sex. (This kills me. I had just had a baby and it was WEEKS without sex, not MONTHS.) He was horny and she was available. This second time still confuses me because I thought we were in a MUCH better place in our marriage by then. It was some time after this second meeting that he cut off the PA.
Since D-day he really has done everything he should and that I need - took full responsibility for everything, very remorseful, so caring and loving and supportive of me, basically doing whatever it takes to save our marriage. We have been in weekly MC since three weeks after D-day and that has been very productive. He has sworn no contact with with OW and says the OW swore to never contact him again. (I mostly believe this.). He removed his FaceBook page (where he reconnected with her) and in an effort to re-gain trust has (as far as I can tell) cut down contact with almost every outside person except his best (male) friends and essential work colleagues. I have full access to his phones and email. I believe that we are going to come out of this with a much stronger marriage and we feel closer to each other right now than we have in years.
HOWEVER, this continues to be excruciating for me. I equate it to the time right after my mom died when I was 24. Probably worse. So much grief. So much disillusionment. So much anger. I don't use the term PTSD lightly. This has been trauma such as I never knew existed. We are committed to staying together but sometimes I hate him for what he did. He is not the honorable man I thought he was.
I am hounded by the thought of them together. I want to know everything he said to her. Everything she said to him. Everything they did together at that eff-ing hotel. Like with others in this thread, he is so vague on the details of when he met up with her - says he can't remember. Emphasizes that it is something he wanted to forget.
This is such a long road. I have no doubts about staying with him but I am so angry that I have to live with this knowledge for the rest of my life. That he willfully hurt me in the worst way possible.
He is terrified that I am going to leave him. He thinks I will not be able to get past this and one day I will just tell him to get out.
He said part of him felt justified for cheating back then because his head was such a mess and he was so unhappy with our lack of communication. He never thought about the consequences. (WHY?? HOW COULD YOU NOT???) Once I found out about the affair and he realized he may have ruined everything he said that during the affair he "didn't realize this was worth fighting for", but now he does. I was livid. How could you not think that this amazing supportive wife, these amazing sweet children, this beautiful home, this beautiful life was not worth fighting for and it took something like this to make you realize it???
A friend of mine who cheated on her first husband gave me the perspective that when she cheated and got caught she realized her marriage was NOT worth fighting for, and they divorced. She helped me see that through this insanely stupid act and realizing how close he came to losing it all he now knows for certain that it IS worth fighting for.
[This message edited by Bluestorm3 at 2:33 PM, October 1st (Wednesday)]