My WW and I are so totally different perhaps that is the reason our marriage survived and is stronger after infidelity. I have often lurked here during the holiday season for support. Our DDay anniversary was yesterday. This is my story. I apologize for the length but some background is necessary if this is to have any meaning.
My WW (29 at time of ons) has a great family. She had a happy childhood, the youngest of four siblings she is an extrovert, a bubbly personality, totally social, also smart, involved in everything throughout school and college (dance team, cheerleader, prom court, sorority), a party girl. She had lots of dates and male suitors.
The last party I went to, I was ten years old. My parents gave me a cake, begrudgingly. Me, BH (32 at time of ons). My childhood was horrific. I am the oldest of four siblings. My parents were both severe alcoholics, and as a result I took on many of the responsibilities of a parent for my younger siblings throughout school and college (I lived at home). My only outlet was sports. I was a runner and ran varsity cross country in college all four years. My father was one of those people who was very cruel and abusive to his wife and children, worse when he was drunk, which was very often. I handled all types of emergencies, getting my parents out of bars, getting the car out of a snow bank, and soothing neighbors hurt feelings when my Dad would try to start a drunken brawl.
I learned at an early age how to manipulate my father to direct his drunken abuse at me rather than my mother or siblings. I did this all through HS and college. My youngest brother told me when we were young he actually thought my name was WPOS. I never dated in high school or college except for one brief fling in the summer Junior year. I was a loner, self conscious, and uncomfortable talking to women.
My WW and I met by accident when I had left home for good and we were both in grad school. We had both come to a bar to rescue our respective roommates from a toxic date. We talked, there was a spark and we started to date. I started to come out of my shell. We fell in love and we married two years later. Our friends predicted it would never work.
Fast forward to December in our fourth year of marriage. Our marriage was good, but not great. WW missed the social life she had grown accustomed to and I resisted attempts to go out more, still being somewhat of a loner.We had moved to a new city, bought a house and I had returned to grad school to improve my future prospects. We both had decent and demanding full time jobs. My father had a stroke and was in a facility basically unable to function, and FIL had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and we had been trying to,get pregnant for the last year without success.
I was cramming for finals and WW wanted to go to her company Christmas Party with friends. No big deal. When it got to be 1:00am I panicked. When her friends finally brought WW home she was very drunk but alert enough. She was a mess. She sobbed and kept saying she was sorry. She confessed that she had kissed two guys at the party, and then had oral sex with one of them in a back room at the facility. She said she just got up in the excitement of the party and let herself go. She said she hardly knew the men involved and had no feelings for them. I am a runner, but at that moment I could not breathe. My crisis instincts honed in my childhood kicked in. I told WW I loved her and that she was the best thing that ever happened to me. But I also told her that in the morning she was going to have to move out. She pleaded and begged but I was firm. I wept.
After my exams the next day we loaded her things and she moved in with her aunt. I called her parents and explained that we were separated. I told WW to take the time to figure out what she needed to make her happy, but that may not be with me. I had to figure out what I needed to be happy. We did not spend the holidays together or exchange gifts. We did talk often but only about finance and her dad’s health. I was devastated by her actions and I did not feel she understood how terribly hurt I was. We did not communicate about any daily activities or work or school matters.
After the first of the year I made up my mind and filed for divorce and she was served. WW was angry and upset and lashed out. I told her that I had spent almost my entire life as a pawn in my parent’s abusive marriage and I was not going to spend another minute with someone who did not respect our marriage or her vows. We did not speak for several weeks. I continued with school and my job but it was tough to get by. I joined a running club. I was determined to continue to grow and pursue my dreams although I was consumed with the loss of my marriage.
We had been separated almost four months and barely spoken in weeks, when I decided to take WW’s older brother to spring baseball game. Her brother is mentally disabled He can’t read or write but he is a great, fun guy. When WW were dating I would spend hours playing simple games with him waiting for WW to be ready. We were standing outside the stadium waiting to get in the game when out of no where WW appears and hugs me and starts to cry. Her parents had told her where I was. She could not believe I was still helping her brother. We both stood there in a crowd hugging and crying, and while everyone stared, I held her at arms length and told her: there’s no need for tears, I hear the team is much improved”. Everyone laughed and dispersed.
After the game, we went for dinner and talked. WW gave me a letter of apology she had written and told me how sorry she was for her actions. She told me that she realized that with everything I had suffered in my childhood, that her actions had been especially hurtful. She said she knew what she wanted, and she wanted to be married to me. I told her I needed to see changes, and we agreed to have lunch later in the week.
At lunch I was struck by the stark contrast to her previous appearance. She had cut her hair short and she was dressed in a suit. She had never dressed so conservatively before. She told me she had quit her job and apologized to her coworkers for her actions at the party. She had gotten a new job and had gone to EAP for counseling on her workplace demeanor. Before she quit her previous job she talked to female coworkers and they told her she needed to clean up her act at work. She was much too friendly and even flirty.
She gave me a card with a hand written note listing why she loved me. She told me she would make sure I always felt like number one in her life. I asked about parties, and she agreed that we would only attend social gatherings together. I was skeptical and hurt, but I missed her greatly, and I agreed to give it a try and the divorce was put on hold.
My WW was true to her word. She did everything possible to make me feel loved. She was able to answer every question I had about the Christmas Party incident. I never asked her what happened during our separation. I didn’t care. My WW told me that after some IC through her employer she realized she had used male approval for validation and happiness. What she realized during our separation was that I made her happy, made her laugh every day, and gave her sincere love. Our sex life was slow to come around. My defenses were still up and I still had anger over what she had done.
After about twenty months in R I decided to soften my heart to her and make myself vulnerable. I decided I was going to be happy and not let the actions of others control me. I told her how much I appreciated her changes and her honesty. We cuddled more and became more comfortable around each other. Our son was born one year after we got back together and the second boy fifteen months later. The passion returned to our sex life. My WW watched for signs when I would trigger around the holidays and she would hold me and we would talk. I reciprocated when she was overcome with shame and humiliation for what she had done.
When our youngest went to school I encouraged her and she completed a commuter masters program with many nights and weekends away over two years while working full time. She never let me wonder where she was or who she was with. When she graduated, she encouraged me, and although working full time I went to Law School part time evenings and weekends and graduated four years later. We both made sure in the hectic schedule to make time for each other. We had rough patches and serious stresses and arguments but we never called each other names. I learned not to shut down in an argument and to be more open with her. I learned to make an effort to go with her to social events (even though I still detested them) and help her enjoy them, and not just sulk while out at a party or concert. And I always made sure to try and make her laugh every day, and I was usually successful.
It wasn’t until fifteen years that I hit my emotional wall. I started to withdraw at night after the kids were in bed and drink until I passed out. It felt so right. It was like I was gently falling down a black hole. This went on for months. I had never been much of a drinker for obvious reasons, but now Inwas drinking a lot everyday. One night when WW tried to help me drunk up to bed, I made a snide remark about her being good in a dark room. The next day she told me what I said. She said she deserved the remark but it still hurt. After all those years the hurt from the infidelity still lingers. With WW’s help I got into IC and I learned that the sadness and depression I was feeling was a normal reaction to what I had experienced in my youth. I was grieving my childhood. I got it, over the next several months I got more counseling and I worked my way back to myself. WW patiently supported me all along the way.
Today we are still married and still going strong. We have survived child health scares, job changes, many moves, stage two breast cancer (metastatic), mastectomy, and many months of chemo, with a good prognosis. My WW confided years after DDay that she was confused when we separated and I filed for divorce. She was always being pursued by men, she was the “catch”, but I did not pursue her, and instead she wanted to pursue me. It was totally confusing, but it forced her to come to terms with her infidelity and her immaturity. I think that all of the crises I had to face in my childhood actually prepared me to handle my DDay in a way that gave our marriage the best chance of reconciling. Yesterday was our DDay, thirty four years ago, and we are still very much in love. Does the pain of infidelity ever go away. Not in my case. I feel it especially during the holidays. But the pain is overwhelmed by all the wonderful life memories we have created since DDay. If you’ve made it through this wall of text I hope my story can help someone facing the same issues.
[This message edited by fareast at 12:20 AM, December 11th (Monday)]