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What's fair when it comes to restrictions after an affair / affairs

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 mafayu (original poster new member #77319) posted at 5:55 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Hello all,

I've been pondering some things lately and I haven't posted here for some time so I thought I'd ask a few questions. I am curious about how people feel about what is fair when it comes to "Restrictions" after an affair. This would mainly be for those who have chosen reconciliation, although I am really just looking for broader input into how people think about it, or even some resources that discuss what is reasonable.

I was, for a long time, in a relationship involving multiple affairs. This led to me placing many restrictions on my WW in order to help build trust and feel safe. She would always start off more than willing to do what I asked, but it would soon fade, and I would be accused of being too controlling. Yet it never seemed to be enough because eventually some new EA or PA would rear its ugly head. One of the last big things we argued over was being a part of the Highschool Marching Band team. Basically they were called box moms and they helped with uniforms, cleaning them and helping get the kids set up for their performances. This meant she would be at football games Friday nights, and also some weekend performances like competitions and parades.

When she first asked about joining up, she stressed that it was for our son (plays percussion in the band) and that she'd have the kids with her, mostly. Plus they (the box moms) were all female. So this was something I shouldn't be concerned with. I informed her that I was very much against it. It did not feel safe at all to me. This, of course, led to another argument about her not getting to have a life at all. This was at the point were she pretty much was restricted to doing things with close family, or groups from church. Mind you I made an effort to make sure that she was still getting to go places, and I would usually plan any fun things we did around what she wanted, in order to counterbalance the heavy restrictions she complained about.

Looking back on everything now, I want to know if I was too harsh. It's clear we both failed at a lot of things regarding seeking to reconcile properly. But I want to know if her accusations of being a harsh and controlling person, depriving her of having any freedoms, are really accurate. I understand I can't really tell all sides of a story without some bias, so I was curious how stuff like this played out in other relationships, be they reconciled ones or those that ended in divorce. In addition to those lived experiences, if anyone has come across a good resource regarding safe boundaries after affairs I'd love to do more reading on the subject.

I want to make sure that I am making the most of everything I have been through. I want to learn from this, and that includes finding out where I may have been wrong. Thanks to anyone taking the time to read this post, and especially thanks to any who have the chance to respond.

posts: 9   ·   registered: Feb. 16th, 2021   ·   location: MO
id 8756390
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 6:17 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

She would always start off more than willing to do what I asked, but it would soon fade, and I would be accused of being too controlling. Yet it never seemed to be enough because eventually some new EA or PA would rear its ugly head.


Looking back on everything now, I want to know if I was too harsh.

You've been too harsh on yourself. You have chosen to play marriage police with someone you cannot trust because each time she gets to do anything that makes it possible you have more infidelity. Is this what you want in a marriage? A child whom you want to try and control because whenever she gets any freedom she cheats? The cheater is the villain, but at this point you're hurting yourself almost as much as she has by accepting this relationship. You're choosing to play this game. You aren't her dad. She wants to do things that hurt you. The answer to that is to stop being around this person who wants to do things to hurt you. She's an adult making her own choices. You can't make her be who you want her to be by controlling her.

Truly, what makes this worth doing? What can you possibly be getting out of this marriage that makes this way of life worth it?

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

posts: 5052   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8756395
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MIgander ( member #71285) posted at 6:28 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Posting as a fWW.

When she first asked about joining up, she stressed that it was for our son (plays percussion in the band) and that she'd have the kids with her, mostly. Plus they (the box moms) were all female. So this was something I shouldn't be concerned with. I informed her that I was very much against it. It did not feel safe at all to me. This, of course, led to another argument about her not getting to have a life at all. This was at the point were she pretty much was restricted to doing things with close family, or groups from church. Mind you I made an effort to make sure that she was still getting to go places, and I would usually plan any fun things we did around what she wanted, in order to counterbalance the heavy restrictions she complained about.

There are reasonable restrictions, many of which are repeated on this site, for good reasons:
-Full access to all accounts (bank, email, SM, messaging)
-Full accountability for time spent away
-NO CONTACT with AP
-Leave job (in my case... complicated, but changed roles and campuses)
-NO opposite sex friends

For a long time, I didn't allow myself friendships with the opposite sex. I'm only now allowing myself limited contact with opposite sex people, and keeping it to topics about kids, work, choir and running. VERY surface. I don't trust myself (as I shouldn't), but am trying to rebuild that trust.

That said, your post does come off as overly controlling. You're less than a year from DDay and I don't know your story. So, the situation is still likely VERY raw.

How has your WW behaved since DDay? Has she shown remorse, a willingness to own her shit and work on herself? Has she done willingly the above things? You said she's starting to chafe at some of the restrictions... why? If it's from a place of, "can't you just GET OVER IT ALREADY?" then she's not really remorseful. If it's stemming from concerns about controlling behavior, "I'm hanging out with other band moms and NO DADS, where's the danger here?" it might be best to be open and honest about your concerns with her behavior.

Personally, I would have a hard time with my H telling me now (about 3+ years from DDay) that I can't hang out with a pack of hens doing band mom stuff. But your situation is different if you're a new BH here.

I will say that not "allowing" her support from other women friends of the healthy kind (I'm assuming mothers dedicated to serving their children and the community are healthy people) will be a drag on your recovery and hers. She needs that support and space to breathe and remind herself she's more than her affair. I know I did. I joined choir in church last year and it was an enormous help in establishing my self confidence in interacting with people (and males) outside our M. I'm less afraid of myself and trust my progress on building boundaries and now am more confident in enforcing them.

It's sounding like early days yet, so, if you're not sure where her resistance to your request is coming from, ask her. Tell her what you're afraid of and what you're perceiving in her behavior. Word it from your perspective, "I feel insecure still and am afraid there may be other men in and out of the band room that you would interact with inappropriately. Also, I am afraid this response is coming from a lack of care for my feelings and my recovery. Why are you opposed to my request?"

Best wishes.

WW/BW Dday July 2019. BH/WH- multiple EA's. Back at it again- bantering w the younger woman. Lied about blocking phone calls and deleted texts. Carried on with her. Financial infidelity again- who says you only cheat with lovers?

posts: 857   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2019   ·   location: Michigan
id 8756396
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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 6:53 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

I had no interest in creating any kind of "restrictions" on my fWH. He's a grown man and I'm not his mommy. He either behaves appropriately or he doesn't. It's his choice.

That said, I do have new boundaries around the kind of treatment I'm willing to accept from a guy who says he wants to spend his life with me. For example, all our passwords and whatnot go in an address book we both have access to and there are no secret emails, etc. My boundary is about me, not about him though. My boundary on that is that I'm no longer willing to live with a secretive person. If he feels the need to sneak, he's in the wrong place. It's his choice, and my reaction is MY choice.

That might sound like we're splitting hairs because it amounts to much the same thing in some areas. He's not going to be able to keep secret passwords or email accounts and still be my husband. The difference between the boundary and some kind of edict on the subject is that it's about ME and I can clarify it by putting it into a Boundary Statement. When I do, I can see pretty readily if it's fair or not. If you try to put your "restriction" regarding band moms into a boundary statement, what does it look like? Is it about you? Are you willing to enforce it by withdrawing from the relationship? Boundaries are pretty binary when you think about it. You're either in or out. If it's not important enough to enforce your boundary, than yeah, it might be controlling for the sake of comfort or security.

BW: 2004(online EAs), 2014 (multiple PAs)Married 38 years; in R with fWH for 7

No one can make you into a liar but you.

posts: 5957   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
id 8756405
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Darkness Falls ( member #27879) posted at 7:12 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

The problem is that you can’t lock her up and keep her away from people of the opposite sex. They are half the population. They exist at work, at volunteer opportunities, at the grocery store, at church, etc. It’s unrealistic and impossible for YOU to police HER to the extent that she can’t/won’t cheat—SHE has to be the one to do that. And obviously she isn’t willing to, given that she keeps cheating.

WS - remarried to BH but not in R

D-day 2010

posts: 6395   ·   registered: Mar. 8th, 2010   ·   location: USA
id 8756408
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MIgander ( member #71285) posted at 7:24 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Sorry OP, looks like I missed the part DD highlighted- the repeat EA's and PA's.

Yeah, with entrenched behavior like that, you're like a beat cop in San Fran trying to keep street kids sober by taking away their drugs.

Sounds exhausting. Do you want this in your life?

WW/BW Dday July 2019. BH/WH- multiple EA's. Back at it again- bantering w the younger woman. Lied about blocking phone calls and deleted texts. Carried on with her. Financial infidelity again- who says you only cheat with lovers?

posts: 857   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2019   ·   location: Michigan
id 8756410
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BluerThanBlue ( member #74855) posted at 8:05 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Do you want live in a constant state of hypervigilance?

Do you want to police your wife's daily activities and communications as if she were a rebellious teenager?

Do you like the person you're becoming and how you're behaving in the wake of her multiple affairs?

Is the current state of your marriage acceptable to you?

Are you leading reconciliation by telling your wife what she should or shouldn't be doing? Is she doing anything proactively to be transparent, change her behaviors, and rebuild your trust?

What are some things about your life and your relationship that are within your power to change without your wife's willingness or participation?

These questions will help guide you toward the answer you're seeking.

[This message edited by BluerThanBlue at 8:06 PM, Wednesday, September 21st]

BW, age 40
Divorced WH in 2015; now happily remarried to a great guy

I edit my comments a lot for spelling, grammar, typos, etc.

posts: 868   ·   registered: Jul. 13th, 2020
id 8756417
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 mafayu (original poster new member #77319) posted at 8:19 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Thanks again to those who have replied so far. Just wanted to give a bit of clarification on a few things specifically related to what I went through, to help better understand what I'm looking to get from this line of questioning.

One thing to note is that this isn't a situation that is fresh. My first DD was back in 2005, and the most recent, and final, DD was in July of this year. 10+ EA/PA, and that doesn't count the non affair breaches of trust. There is certainly a case to be made that to still be dealing with these things after so many years is a big failure in its own right, but kind of a moot point.

To clarify on what I consider a restriction, I would like to note that the term boundary may have been the better one to use in regards to my situation. After all, what finally drove me to seperate was my WW being in a private conversation with a male friend, when I specifically addressed that I could not tolerate such behavior.

That is kind of the same vein with the band mom situation. I understood her objections and how it was not necessarily the most unsafe thing she had ever wanted to to do. I could not find a way to make it feel safe for me,however, and I told her as much. It was more about the fact that I could not feel safe knowing the environment she was in, and she still decided that she was to proceed with joining.

I made it clear that I had no desire to "cage" her, but I just didn't feel like I could trust even some of the more benign engagements she desired to participate in. She had found so many ways to lie and hide things from me that it made it almost impossible to trust anything she did.

So this is more of a desire to look back, and understand where I could have been overly cautious to the point of harm. How much is protection of self, and how much of it is unwarranted fear?

I hope this clarifies a bit, and I definitely appreciate everything that's been said so far. It is a bittersweet thing to get to see how others deal with these tragic experiences, but it beats trying to do it all alone.

posts: 9   ·   registered: Feb. 16th, 2021   ·   location: MO
id 8756418
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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 8:24 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

She never built trust. That’s on her.

You had a right to request certain boundaries. She had a right not to want to oblige. The issue is she said "yes" but then stopped honoring the commitment.

You don’t have an adult relationship you have a parent child relationship. She’s like Eddie Haskell from a Leave It To Beaver - always scheming to get away with something.

IMO if she was truly remorseful she would have made changes in her own. She would have respected your opinion and declined certain activities or events until trust was restored.

My H willingly gave up events - even if I told him it was ok to participate. See the difference?

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 12533   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8756420
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twicefooled ( member #42976) posted at 10:10 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

She had another affair 2 months ago. This isn't something that happened 17 yrs ago my friend. You not being able to trust her is the natural consequence of her actions. She has never treated you as someone to treasure and has once again shown you how she feels about you - her own wants and desires will ALWAYS come first. She has NEVER been trustworthy, so ask yourself why this time should be any different? I suppose that people can change after lying 894 765 times (I guess 894 766 time is the charm?) but that's not the point.

The point is are you willing to live this way or not? She will never be trustworthy. It's not in her nature. And if you can accept that and take the good with the bad, go for it. It's your life and you won't have to answer to anyone but yourself.

But truly ask yourself why you value yourself so little. You do NOT deserve what she's done to you, so why do you believe you do?

May 29 2021 ***reclaimed myself and decided to delete my story with my ex because I'm now 7 years free from him and mentally healthier than I've been in years.

*********When you know better, you can do better*************

posts: 476   ·   registered: Apr. 2nd, 2014
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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 11:44 PM on Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

what is fair when it comes to "Restrictions" after an affair.

It's not about fairness so much as "proportional". An affair in itself is a huge injustice, and a typical proportional reaction is divorce. Therefore any agreed boundaries in attempting R are reasonable. If she doesn't agree to them, it would be proportional to jump straight to divorce. There is no limit to what you demand to feel safe. It's what you need. That's my opinion. If she can't deliver, then it's also up to you to leave the relationship.

... eventually some new EA or PA would rear its ugly head.

She isn't R material. That said, I'm personally in R despite fWW drawing more than three strikes against agreements and breaking NC once. I do believe the only reason she made the changes in her behavior necessary for R was because I asked for a divorce in writing. She was 100% taking advantage of the fact that I wasn't ready to divorce before then.

Are you ready to divorce? If not, she'll know.

You can't *threaten* divorce as a manipulation tactic. You need to suffer enough pain to truly prefer divorce. Will it be too late for you then? Maybe, maybe not.

In addition to those lived experiences, if anyone has come across a good resource regarding safe boundaries after affairs I'd love to do more reading on the subject.

"Not Just Friends" by Shirley Glass. I don't know if you've already read it or not. It is a boilerplate recommendation here along with "How to Help Your Spouse Heal from Your Affair" by Linda MacDonald.

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

posts: 2116   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8756449
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veryconfused ( member #56933) posted at 2:14 AM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

Honestly, this just screams at me as a big NO all the way around! Other posters are correct, why are you/do you want to be the marriage police? She has shown you over and over again who she is. If I may-

1. It does sound like a parent child relationship, not healthy.

2. The more you restrict, the more she is going to resent and act out. Not healthy

3. While you may not like it, "to still be dealing with these things after so many years" is not a moot point. You have chosen to accept, that is on you. You need to look into why you accepted this behavior and treatment for so long. Until you figure this out, good luck with your boundaries as they will have no teeth. (Easier said than done, I know)

As an idea, if you insist in staying, why not try something different. Maybe she can go, it is a lower risk, but she needs to do therapy twice a week to figure out her issues?

When you hear posters telling you that you need to be willing to loose to loose your marriage to save it, from experience, they are correct.

posts: 259   ·   registered: Jan. 16th, 2017   ·   location: Mid West
id 8756473
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 mafayu (original poster new member #77319) posted at 2:48 AM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

I have read the new replies, and I appreciate all the input.


I will clarify again that I am currently separated, as I felt like I reached my limit with her not making me feel safe. It's funny how often the "Parent / child relationship" dynamic was mentioned because that is one thing I always felt and expressed to her. She made me feel like I was "parenting" a rebellious teen so often in our relationship. By that I mean she would always act like there was nothing she could do to help herself, and always talked about how unfair everything was. Like a child who didn't want to do their chores but still wanted an allowance. She never put in the work she promised to do, it was always just excuses.

It does seem, however, that any expectation of boundaries will be sure to fail if neither party is invested in keeping them, as I learned by not drawing hard lines for myself earlier in the marriage. The consensus seems to be that I can express hard boundaries, but I can only enforce them upon myself. It comes down to what I'm willing to deal with, and no amount of "forced behavior" will bring about true change. I just want to make sure that if I find myself in another relationship, I express what I need to feel safe without ever becoming demanding of it. I think what I have read here today will help remind me of these truths.

posts: 9   ·   registered: Feb. 16th, 2021   ·   location: MO
id 8756478
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RocketRaccoon ( member #54620) posted at 6:26 AM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

It looks like your WW is in the mindset that she is entitled to things.

This is still very much the mindset of a wayward, where they 'deserve' to have their freedom without constraints.

If a WS were remorseful, the mindset would be that their BS has extended to them the privilege of letting the WS spend time with them.

The difference is that one thought process is inward looking, and the other is outward looking.

You cannot cure stupid

posts: 1015   ·   registered: Aug. 12th, 2016   ·   location: South East Asia
id 8756491
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Butforthegrace ( member #63264) posted at 12:17 PM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

Let me suggest that, in the case of your WW, who as I understand it is a serial cheater with at least 10 confirmed affairs (some EA, some PA) over the past 10 years, one single boundary or restriction is too many. From your perspective. Serial cheating like you describe, that's more like an addiction than an affair. Being married to an addict is hard, because there is nothing you can do about it unless and until the addict herself finds her rock bottom and gives in to changing herself into a different person than the one she is, from the inside-out. Meantime, you are really left with a binary decision: (a) remain married to an addict, or (b) end the marriage.

"The wicked man flees when no one chases."

posts: 3973   ·   registered: Mar. 31st, 2018   ·   location: Midwest
id 8756497
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NotMyFirstRodeo ( member #75220) posted at 1:26 PM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

Did she agree to your restrictions or demands at any point? Say as a condition of you remaining with her after a betrayal? Were any of these restrictions or demands ones that she later complained of?

If that is so for you all I can do is tell you how I learned to respond to my WW's back peddling on what she'd agreed to and I expected of her.

Point blank, I told her that I don't care if she doesn't like it or if she feels it's unfair now. That she's only had a change of heart is because she now feels comfortable and safe that I won't leave her, but that she's wrong. That if she doesn't respect the agreement, I will have no problem walking right out of her life. Regardless of the severity and how much time has lapsed, the terms and conditions she agreed to are binding and I wasn't flexible on that. If anything changed it was 100% at my discretion and I won't entertain being pressed on any of it.

As has been noted from another member, a proportional response to a WS's actions is what it is. Of course they don't like the consequences. They've repeatedly betrayed their vows to you and now face commensurate boundaries which grease the wheels for the BS. The conditions aren't there to help the betrayer to enjoy the benefits of getting "back to normal".

Unfortunately, when dealing a child-like adult, they only respect concrete resolve and authority. If you're flexible on any boundaries you've laid, they will only see weakness that should be exploited.

Your W, like mine, reward a lack of boundaries and your trust with betrayal. I'm sure there's a healthy limit to the boundaries and expectations we set as BS's but our WS's are not a good judges of what that is or isn't.

Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later that debt is paid.

posts: 353   ·   registered: Aug. 19th, 2020
id 8756501
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stubbornft ( member #49614) posted at 2:23 PM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

Not all relationships are worth saving. Mine wasn’t and that’s ok. I’m doing well. I know it’s scary. Do you have a therapist you see alone? I don’t know if I could have untangled my mess without my therapist.

Me: BS 40 Him: WS 51 He cheated with massage parlor sex workersDday 01/19/2021
Kicked him out in 2021 - life is better on the other side. Moved on with the help of a wonderful therapist.

posts: 829   ·   registered: Sep. 14th, 2015   ·   location: TX
id 8756507
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 4:48 PM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

I felt like I reached my limit with her not making me feel safe.

It looks like you found your answer - your W violated your boundaries once too often, and you took steps to maintain your boundary.

I quote your sentence, though, because she can't and never could make you feel safe. We decide what makes us feel safe; another person lives within our boundaries or not. We BSes trusted our WSes until we didn't. Our WSes did/do or did/do not earn that trust back.

In recovering from being betrayed, it helps to separate what one can do on one's own - make a choice between feeling safe or unsafe, for example - and what one needs help with.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 27617   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8756542
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ibonnie ( member #62673) posted at 5:17 PM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

I think you (both) need to reframe your thinking on this.

It's not about placing restrictions on your WW.

It's about figuring out what YOUR boundaries are, what YOU are willing to accept in a relationship, and whether or not you're prepared to leave a relationship that you don't feel safe in.

Honestly, it doesn't sound like she's remorseful or "gets it," which is why you probably don't feel safe.

When she first asked about joining up, she stressed that it was for our son (plays percussion in the band) and that she'd have the kids with her, mostly. Plus they (the box moms) were all female. So this was something I shouldn't be concerned with. I informed her that I was very much against it. It did not feel safe at all to me. This, of course, led to another argument about her not getting to have a life at all.

Now imagine if she had asked about joining, and then proactively offered up ways that would make you feel safer/like you could trust her. Like, offering to have a "find my family" app on her phone or shared location turned on in google maps. Sharing the schedule/calendar with you, so that you could attend all games/performances whenever possible, and if you were busy, calling you or leaving as soon as it was over, rather than like... getting coffee with the moms after or something like that. Or at least not making any tentative last minute plans without calling you first and getting your blessing.

"I will survive, hey, hey!"

posts: 2025   ·   registered: Feb. 11th, 2018
id 8756545
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twicefooled ( member #42976) posted at 3:55 AM on Friday, September 23rd, 2022

Mafayu, my ex is very similar to yours. We had a child/parent relationship and it was awful. I didn't recognize the dynamic before we had children, but once real life settled in he couldn't handle it. He rebelled like a teenager. I finally had enough after 16yrs together.

I'm 9 yr out of that marriage. I spent the first 7yrs mostly single, but having fun dating around spending time building my career and nurturing the relationships I neglected while parenting my ex.

Two years ago I met the man of my dreams. His ex is very much like mine (addicts), so we understand each other. He has 3 children and a good career that he somehow balances while being an amazing boyfriend. We won't live together until the majority of our children have moved on with their lives (I have 2 children). Neither of us were interested in blending families under a roof anytime soon, which is lovely to have that understanding. We live 20 minutes apart so we see each other a few times a week, but some weeks it's all via texting and calling. But it's an entirely different dynamic than my marriage was. We support each other's pursuit of things we enjoy, we have our own friends and our own interests. But we have so much in common that when we do see each other, we have an amazing time of constant conversation and laughs. It's a give and take relationship and it's really refreshing.

I wish you the best of luck with your decision.

May 29 2021 ***reclaimed myself and decided to delete my story with my ex because I'm now 7 years free from him and mentally healthier than I've been in years.

*********When you know better, you can do better*************

posts: 476   ·   registered: Apr. 2nd, 2014
id 8756623
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