Lionne, I don't know if my husband is acting out or not. The only person in the world who knows is my husband and his definition of acting out is narrower than mine. Because he's changed so much, I have a sense that some of the acting out is seriously reduced. But my bet is the objectifying/staring/fantasizing is reduced but not gone. And I know he still secretly masturbates. So, is he fully recovered? No, I wouldn't say that.
But I can check on him whenever I want. I just don't want to. If I really need to I will. But it feels like a waste of time and toxic. I don't want to be his Porn Nanny or accountability partner.
What I've learned is even if he was sober, he's so stunningly immature he can't have an adult relationship and I don't want one with him.
I had people tell me what to do and it was always 'divorce him right now.' And it usually came with a dose of "what is wrong with you for staying". I got these messages at the lowest of my lows and it really didn't help me.
The damage to me of my marriage was so much greater than I had realized at first. My self esteem, which clearly wasn't great since I chose to marry this guy, was at rock bottom. My trust issues now are awful and I'm working hard at trusting myself and others. My sense of shame over being married to this person was huge and I've had to work on shedding that. And then the grief of it all....that still overwhelms me at times.
But, I almost died from my illness and five or six years ago, just as I was getting the beginning sense of my husband's addiction, I went through a last chance effort to halt my illness and had six rounds of chemotherapy. It would take all day to get infused. I was sicker than I had ever been and at the end, I had no immune system and got all these opportunistic infections that were also close calls with death. Not to be too dramatic, but that experience changed me. I am in remission and have been so for these last years. Amazing considering the stress and trauma of staggered disclosures. I feel so blessed to have a second chance at life.
But it wore me out and wore me down. All of this shit wore me down. I needed to focus on me and to recover my strength. Divorcing would have been justified, but honestly, I was so depleted I didn't have the energy.
What I did without even knowing it was start to divorce my husband emotionally. I needed to do this to survive. Over time my detachment became so much preferable to my engagement with him. I gave up the idea of a good marriage with my husband. I remember trying to connect after a trip I took and he was an asshole and I just said "I give up. I'm not going to try to connect to you anymore." And that's what I did. I don't work on this marriage. Sad, for sure. But...I have so much more time and energy. I can focus on me. I'm living with my husband, but it's like we're civil roommates who don't really like each other. Frankly, he doesn't know me or like me. He needs me, though. He has a "need/hate" relationship with me. And, I thought I needed him but I don't.
The awareness that I would never really know if he was acting out and the deep distrust I had of him, let alone the pain of his betrayal and abuse...why would I want a relationship with this man? He literally has to become a different man and he doesn't have the time, courage or integrity to do that.
I don't recommend my approach to everyone. It's pretty awful living in a cold, empty marriage and under the same roof with him. But I like where I live. I have financial stability and health insurance that's very good and that I desperately need. I keep working on my life. I hope to have the strength and stability to make even better decisions about my life.
My advice, as well, is to be gentle with yourself. Focus on you. I don't recommend visiting his IC. I do recommend you finding an IC you can trust.
[This message edited by ashestophoenix at 8:53 AM, May 8th (Wednesday)]