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Book: Cheating in a Nutshell: What Infidelity Does to the Victim

Pages: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4

steadychevy posted 11/7/2020 12:41 PM

I've been out for drinks after work a few times where there is the "hero" cheater that regales about his conquests, who they are and any peculiarities. I didn't often get asked out with the boys because I didn't fall in line and was obviously unappreciative. The industries I worked in didn't have a lot of that but there was some. I did some rodeoing as a young man and there were other cowboys eager to brag about their conquests.

I agree, gmc, that it's probably the situation with both sexes. My experience is one sided. Either way it's revictimizing the victim. No one or not to many would ask a battered woman what she did that made her husband beat her so.

And finally, I don't care if Esther Perel is personally building a landing pad for the second coming of Christ.... she's a wayward apologist who is full of shit.

[This message edited by steadychevy at 2:11 PM, November 7th (Saturday)]

Thumos posted 11/8/2020 19:29 PM

Not an Esther Perel fan. Hers was actually the only book my WW started reading on her own after DDAY. Go figure. I was encouraged she noted the social/media trend of valorizing female infidelity with books and movies and the like.

crazyblindsided posted 11/16/2020 14:43 PM

I finally started reading this book and it explains so much about why it is so hard to not think about it when you are with the perpetrator. I'm not sure if I ever would have been able to R even if XWS was remorseful. To live a life being on high alert is no life for me.

This book even gave me an aha moment about the very beginning of my M. I suspect my XWS started his first A when I was pregnant with my daughter. It wasn't long after that, that I began to feel disgust towards my XWS during sex. I believe my body was giving me signals far before I discovered any A. I used to think there was something wrong with me, but now I think my body was protecting me. My XWS used my disgust for him against me from then on. Even excusing his A's by blaming me for not being excited to have sex with him.

I honestly do not know how others do R with the body being unable to relax because it's alert system has gone off. The WS would have to be REALLY remorseful every day. It is no wonder so many here are suffering.

Great book so far, I'm not finished yet but it has really opened my eyes and has allowed me to let go of some of my guilt and being hard on myself for having been such an angry disgusted person for so long towards my WS after his A. While I'm not happy with my RA it even explains that about trying to equal the scales albeit hurting myself in the process. Wow what a great book!

[This message edited by crazyblindsided at 2:44 PM, November 16th (Monday)]

gmc94 posted 11/16/2020 16:44 PM

I read this a few weeks ago.

Our bedroom went dead about 7yrs into the PA phase of my WH's LTA. I never thought about the disgust aspect until reading your post. I do not believe that was the only factor that led to the dead bedroom, but I got my own little light bulb moment there, and do remember times when I felt that.

When I look back in hindsight, I'm kind of amazed at how the body really does keep the score.

3yrsout posted 11/16/2020 16:54 PM

Ugh. I read this book.

Iím now recognizing how seriously Iím fucked up in the head.


So, since I should have declared divorce eight years ago, and I didnít, and now heís doing most stuff ok, where do I go from here?

Iím a fucking zombie, itís too late. I already zombiefied myself to stay. I had the lobotomy. I performed it on my own self. And now Iím dead.


gmc94 posted 11/16/2020 21:43 PM

-t/j -

3yrs: Infidelity is a dealbreaker. I think most on SI would say that if it's been 8 years and you feel it's a dealbreaker, and even if your WS is "doing the work", it's still OK to S or D or return to your own healing work in a big way. It is what it is. No one is ever obligated to stay M, even w/o the cheating.

Living a life that feels "dead" doesn't sound very healthy.... and it's never "too late" to change.

Thumos posted 12/3/2020 15:47 PM

Iím a fucking zombie, itís too late. I already zombiefied myself to stay. I had the lobotomy. I performed it on my own self. And now Iím dead.

3yrs, you still around on SI? Hope so. Infidelity is a dealbreaker and you get to decide AT ANY TIME when you've had enough. 8 years, 20, 30. Whatever. You decide. You're a thinking, functioning human being. You didn't zombify anything. Hang in there.

Cooley2here posted 12/5/2020 10:38 AM

Iím not interested in narcissistic or addicted cheaters. They should not be married in the first place. Also, people fall in love with coworkers because thatís who they spend the majority of their time with. I donít excuse it, I just know it happens. The marriage that I see the most of is the one where one spouse marries a person they want to marry and the other person is swept into it. It happens more than you think. Of course the people I talk to are women. Those that cheated knew from the beginning that they were making the wrong choice but felt obligated to follow through. The one thing they all have in common is they were too young to say no. They didnít even recognize they had the right to say no. That happened in the good old USA. One said her boyfriend just loved her so much she couldnít hurt his feelings. Another said her parents wanted her to marry for social reasons. Others got pregnant. Whatever the reason the marriage should not have happened. I make no excuses for cheating. Itís the wrong way to get out of a marriage.
One thing therapists recognize is so detrimental to a marriage is if one person is more dedicated to it than the other. In the beginning of a marriage is euphoria. Then one person crashes back into reality and the other person wants them come back to that glorious feeling but itís never going to happen. If the one whoís back into reality has any sort of power grab then the marriage starts off with a terrible imbalance. Thatís not a marriage at that point. Itís a sentence. Probably a death sentence of the marriage. You canít sustain a relationship where one person has all the power, but it is so true in every marriage that I knew had cheating. It doesnít matter who did the cheating. Someone did.
I feel like you need to look at every relationship you have whether itís family, friends, work or marriage. If you feel powerless and cannot do anything about it get out. You have no idea the damage to your mental and physical health living a life from that position.
The reason this book is so important is because the authors recognize the imbalance in the marriage and the huge number of lies to sustain that imbalance. Some things cannot be fixed.

[This message edited by Cooley2here at 10:40 AM, December 5th (Saturday)]

marriageredux959 posted 12/6/2020 14:00 PM

I became aware of this book earlier in our post DDay processing. I forget exactly when in the process.

I intentionally avoided it because I also became aware of its conclusions, that the only way to heal from infidelity is to leave the cheater.

At that time, I had all but physically left, and in fact, that I had not actually, physically left was literally making me crazy. I could not resolve the cognitive dissonance.

It just seemed so nonsensical to upend a marriage and two lives over a single incident decades before.

I and we have since begun to understand that his physical, sexual infidelity may have been a single incident, but it was part of a much larger pattern of dysfunctional thought and acting out that plagued him and our marriage forever.

My 'overreaction' to a single incident of physical, sexual infidelity wasn't an overreaction at all, not to the actual infidelity nor to the broader dysfunction.

This book illustrates that so clearly.
The cognitive dissonance lies in staying with someone who betrayed you, and calling that self betrayal 'healing' and 'forgiveness.'

Call it what it is: compromise with a very ugly reality.

My experience diverges from what is described in this book in one important way: my husband's infidelity provides me with the equivalent of a machete with which I have effectively hacked through the rest of his bullshit. In this manner, the act of infidelity did 'improve' the marriage in that it gave me a tool with which to filet it, dissect it, and ultimately dismantle it to see it and my husband and myself (and the FOO even) more clearly.

There are many, many ways in which a self serving partner can be unfaithful. My husband couched a hella lot of devaluing of me and the marriage in 'greater virtue.' Workaholism, family obligations, sense of duty and responsibility, tradition, gender roles, expectations, etc.

In reality, most of the time it involved giving away time, energy, resources, opportunities, attention, recognition of things important or precious to me, in order to either get something for himself (recognition, validation, various ego kibbles) or to make things more comfortable for himself (conflict avoidance.)

There was absolutely no way to wrap his cheating and the circumstances in which it occurred in any sort of virtue, although immediately following DDay, God knows the man tried. Yes, even.

That infidelity and the attitude that informed it and made it possible laid bare much of his self serving narrative that also informed our marriage.

This book not only describes what cheating does to the betrayed spouse, it is by way of doing so, one of the best portraits of what and who a cheater is available in the literature. The examination of the fall out from cheating also renders an unflinching look at a cheater.

This book is also an unapologetic answer to all things Esther Perel. I'm more Esther Perel-y than most here on SI and even I would enjoy drop shipping a hundred print copies to her New York office.

I plan to stay with my husband.

Even though this book moves in the exact opposite direction in terms of 'resolving infidelity,' this book may finally be the medicine that helps me heal.

No, I'm not crazy. No, I'm not irrational. No, I'm not hysterical.

My husband hasn't said or implied this (recently, the two of us were both plenty crazy, irrational and hysterical immediately after DDay and during and immediately following the trickle truth phase, the figurative gloves often came off of the both of us.)

The few others that I've told IRL have to a person advised me to "just get over it and move on with life and my marriage."

They see a good, hard working husband who has been overwhelmingly faithful. That's not untrue but obviously it's not totally accurate either.

I had started putting a LOT of pressure on myself to literally do just that, get over it and move on before I ruined and lost what was left of my marriage. (In fact I was literally advised to do just that for just that reason, by my personal physician, whom I love dearly but in that moment I wanted desperately to throttle him with his own stethoscope, lol.)

This book puts words of reason and a truly authentic narrative to my 'crazy' and suddenly I don't seem so damned crazy anymore.

Yes, I plan to stay married to my husband, but I'm not staying married to the man to whom I was originally married. He may always have the nature or imprinted nurture to be who he is GOOD GOD THE FOO but we both see ALL of this shit with eyes wide open now. ALL of it, his, mine, ours, theirs.

The entire damned marriage has gone through The Mother of All Forensic Audits. I may stay married to this man, but he's a different man now in terms of self awareness. It remains to be seen how this self awareness informs future choices and actions.

I'm damned sure not staying in the same marriage. That marriage is dead and gone.

There are very concrete benchmarks by which I can declare that to be true. I will not go into detail here on SI to protect our privacy. Suffice it to say that I blew it up.

Let go of the outcome, indeed.

I am not the same person I was before DDay. I am fundamentally changed. My husband sees it. At first it terrified him. How could this MR959 2.0 stay with the likes of him? The answer is, she can't. More to the point, she won't. So clean this shit up, Asshole.

How can MR959 2.0 live with our shared history? The answer is, again, she can't and she won't. We've been burning that bitch down with fire for 2.5 years now. I've poured the gasoline and lit the match to those bridges myself. I'm not living 'with' any of it anymore.

Suffice it to say that I've been 'swiping left' in my life, throughout my life, ruthlessly. The screen door has been slapping asses. I love it. It's hella overdue.

This too is terrifying to Husband. He sees my new boundaries and he's terrified that he's the next left swipe.

But he, we, are beginning to see the Phoenix rising from the ashes of our old selves, of our previous marriage, of the burned bridges.

This is definitely an ending- the old marriage is dead and thankfully so- but it can also be a beginning.

It is a call for him to be a bigger, better, more mature and healthier person.

He's reading this book as well and it's getting a lot of traction. He's actually far ahead of me in the book. It is resonating strongly with him, with his experience of himself, with his experience of my damage, and with his experience of the damage done to the marriage.

In my opinion, this book is, as such, an excellent adjunct to Linda McDonald's 'How to Help Your Partner Heal from Your Affair.' Whereas McDonald's book describes starkly what cheating is and what cheaters must do to repair the damage, this book does an autopsy on the damage, both the damage to the betrayed partner and the damage in the cheater that makes them unsafe.

In short, this is one of the best books on the aftermath of infidelity I've yet read.

Thumos posted 12/7/2020 10:43 AM


This is excellent. Might I suggest you share this with Mrplspls, because it seems like he might have a different impression of your conclusions?

This book and How to Help Your Spouse Heal from Your Affair are also a strong antidote to the claptrap he's been reading.

As an aside, it is icongruous to read about "burn the witch" when I know exactly how I've behaved in the aftermath of DDAY toward my wife. Which is with nothing but courtesy, gentlemanly behavior and kindness. I'm sure this is the case for the vast majority of BH's.

It is incongruous then to read projections about "burn the witch" because I insist on not living by lies.

It seems to me that's the real point of this book, rather than advocating for D.

Live not by lies. Pay attention to your moral emotions. Don't force cognitive dissonance on yourself.

At one point in the book, what they actually advocate for is a therapeutic separation to allow the BS to get a clear head and then make a decision.

That's far different from "burn the witch."

[This message edited by Thumos at 10:48 AM, December 7th (Monday)]

marriageredux959 posted 12/7/2020 16:44 PM

Thank you, Thumos.

A couple of observations:

I believe that most if not every wayward on SI who has 'come out of the fog' will tell you that the first and last person he/she lied to was himself. (Going with the universal 'he' for simplicity.)

Until the wayward stops lying to himself, it's nigh unto impossible for him to stop lying to anyone else, including and most importantly to the betrayed.

The wayward lies to protect something, and that something isn't always or necessarily the affair, or the affair partner, or details about the sex, or even (sadly) the marriage or primary relationship.

I think that often, the wayward is absolutely *loathe* to see themselves as a truly dishonest, untrustworthy, dishonorable person. It's a huge ego hit, and it is the bucket of ice on the psyche after the affair high.

Just my observation, but I don't believe that the 'Burn the witch!' mantra is derived from one's courtesy, or lack thereof, towards one's wayward wife after DDay.

Rather, my observation is that it comes from a consistent cohort here on SI who show up almost instantaneously to insist that every wayward wife is lying. Period. And that it's ten, no twenty! no, ONE HUNDRED TIMES WORSE THAN SHE'S TELLING HER BETRAYED HUSBAND.

Get a polygraph.
Put a VAR in her car.
Pull the phone records.
Do a deep dive on her phone.
Hire a PI.


And oh BTW, go ahead and get the ball rolling on that divorce, because you're gonna find out the worst, there's no doubt about it, so you might as well start scorching the earth and salting it right now.


All of this is done under the pretense of 'helping' the betrayed husband 'see the truth' so he can 'protect himself.' And it's all *absolutely unimpeachable,* right? Because 'we've seen it all before.' 'They are all the same!'

Meanwhile this poor betrayed husband is likely overwhelmed not only by his wayward's actions, and the state of his own marriage, and his own emotions, but by a barrage of men on here insisting to him that IT'S WORSE! WORSE THAN HE KNOWS! HE MUST SCORCH THE EARTH AND SALT IT IMMEDIATELY TO KEEP THIS SCOURGE FROM SPREADING! ... or something...

We women are plenty angry and disillusioned at our waywards but I just don't see the wives showing up and piling on like that.

The truth is, the *only* marriage and infidelity situation *any* of us really knows is our own, and we are all witness to and proof of how much work even *that* takes.

We *don't* know each other's waywards.

There are some general consistencies about infidelity that tend to show up, consistently, but the details don't replicate couple to couple or wayward to wayward.

For instance, lying, trickle truth.

My husband gave me a very Disney-fied, sanitized version of events years ago when he 'fessed up initially.

Many years later when a bit of truth slipped out and blew the lid off of the entire thing, he trickle truthed with the best of them.

If the SI shoe was on the other foot, I'd have had legions of wives and female sig others on here showing up and insisting that I just didn't have the entire story. THERE WAS MOAR! MOAR! I JUST DIDN'T KNOW!

And honestly, given Husband's level of guilt vs. the raft of crap narrative he was trying to float, there was a compelling case for that. Even my therapist, upon hearing me recount the details as they trickled out, asked me if I was sure that my husband didn't have full blown sex in that place that night.

I had to reply that I honestly didn't know. I wasn't there. I would probably never know. I had to choose what I wished to believe.

Husband did trickle truth, I had to drag details out with tweezers, pliers, the jaws of life and a tow truck, but you know what has remained entirely consistent over time? From the very beginning? Starting years ago, right through the trickle truth from 2.5 years ago?

The actual physical details about the actual physical interaction. The actual sexual contact. Those details have been stone cold consistent.

So what was the trickle truth about?

Husband could not look at the part of himself that deliberately chose to do something sexual with another woman behind my back.

He absolutely loathed it that he'd let his dick destroy his sense of integrity and endanger my trust in him.

Standing in front of me, looking into my face, he hated himself for cheapening me in a moment of random lust with a stranger, just because it was offered.

He hated it that he chose to do something dishonest.

I know my husband, I've known him since we were 18 years old. I've seen him in many, many types of situations, including sexual ones. I know where his own individual boundaries are in terms of random promiscuity and anonymous sex. The man is no prude and he's no saint but he's never been one to just stick his dick into a total stranger, no matter how hot things got. It's very easy for me to believe that he did *exactly* what he has always said he did in terms of the actual physical acts, and no more.

It would be the stunner of a lifetime for me to find out that he actually screwed anybody in that place. Not that he couldn't- his libido and his dick work just fine, thank you very much- but he's just not wired that way.

So what was the trickle truth about?

That it didn't 'just happen.' This woman didn't fall from the sky into his hands. He didn't trip on a crack in the sidewalk and fall into the place. It wasn't his idea to go there and he didn't really know what the place was about when he walked in, but he didn't say "No thank you" either. He had to not only cooperate, he had to facilitate to make this shit happen- and he did.

And with presented with the opportunity for sexual contact, he made a conscious decision that what I didn't know wouldn't hurt me. He'd never tell and I'd never know. No harm, no foul. And then he proceeded to enjoy himself, very much so.

And after it was over, it hit him:

He'd just cheated.
Whether or not he actually stuck his dick into anything was simply a matter of degree. He'd still, cheated.
And he'd also let himself get into a sketchy situation in a sketchy place that, once the hormone surge subsided, rather squicked him out on a number of levels. No body fluids were swapped, thank God, so no risk of disease but the whole scene was, squicky. He was unhappy with himself about that- not proud of it.

And having given himself permission to cheat, he enjoyed the hell out of it while it was happening. In the aftermath, he actually felt guilty about that.

As I told him (screamed, cried, tore my hair and ripped my garments, lit myself on fire, etc.) as he trickled truthed after DDay 2.5 years ago- what he did or didn't do in that place had *absolutely nothing* to do with me or with the wedding band on his hand. He would have done *exactly the same things* with that woman, in that place, if he was stone cold single. It wasn't about me, in the best of ways and in the worst of ways. I wasn't a part of that equation *at all.*

And there's the rub, so to speak, LOL: he made a conscious decision to dismiss me in that moment. He made a deliberate decision in that moment that I didn't need to know, and that the wedding band on his hand didn't mean anything in this situation. And in the aftermath, he was deeply ashamed of that.

First and foremost, he was burying this thing and lying to himself about it- not because there was more sex involved, but because he'd done something deliberately dishonest toward me. He hated himself for that and didn't want to face it.

If the typical "Burn the witch!" SI shoe was on the other foot, I'd have legions of women piling on me with,


And if I'd done so, you know what all of that would have turned up? Not a damned thing.

True story, one of my childhood friends *is* a PI and is well connected in the industry. It wouldn't be difficult, folks- and it wouldn't change a damned thing except my bank balance.

So yeah, Husband spent a lot of years basically not looking at that particular incident, at that part of himself with which he was ashamed, and not showing it to me, either.

I can easily see how a wayward wife would hide her shame as well.

So perhaps the digging wouldn't reveal a Pandora's box of further illicit activities that the betrayed husband would find intolerable.

Perhaps the wayward wife is simply hiding her shame.

Many betrayed husbands seem obsessed with the idea that their wives might have actually *enjoyed* the sex. Well to whatever degree, of course she did. The actual sex was likely mediocre, and most likely it was somewhat fumbly and awkward, most 'new' sex is less 'hot' than it is simply novel, and nobody has a Magic Dick, guys. She probably did enjoy the arousal. Think about it: much of sexual arousal involves getting a certain kind of positive feedback about oneself. To some degree, arousal isn't even *about* the other person!

Wayward wives don't want to tell their betrayed husbands that yes, they enjoyed the sex, or, more likely, they enjoyed the arousal and the anticipation of the sex, basically they enjoyed the sexual *attention.* They enjoyed the validation. They don't want to rub their betrayed husband's nose in it. They are ashamed of themselves for being so venal.

So they demure- which then apparently leads betrayed husbands to believe that this must have been the pinnacle of all sex. Most likely was not. But this 'holding back' is taken as proof positive, more often than not, of "MOAR! MOAR DIRT! YOU JUST DON'T KNOW- YET!" followed almost consistently with "BURN THE WITCH!"

Can you see how the piling on that happens here could actually instigate harm?

In our case, the trickle truth wasn't about uncovering some hidden cache of nefarious activities that I just would not be able to live with once I found out- my husband didn't want to face his own diminished stature in his own eyes, nor to show me his shame.

Shame is a catch 22 for sure, but I believe that many waywards *are* ashamed, and that's certainly a better prognosticator than the wanton lack of remorse and 'just trying to get over on you!' that seems to be universally ascribed to wayward wives by a cohort on SI.

If I'd divorced my husband because trickle truth meant "MOAR DIRT!" I'd have divorced a man who committed a grievous act, felt shame, and never did it again...

... what would that have 'fixed?'

Cooley2here posted 12/7/2020 23:47 PM

Marriageredux, i have a similar history. My husband cheated, I knew it, was too young to provide for my very young children, so I kept my mouth shut and only confronted him years later. He admitted it and we have never discussed it since then. He grew up, I grew up and life went on. My children are older and know nothing about this episode.

I have read the same angry responses from men and assume they are coming from deep hurt, a sense of shame that it happened to them and a desire for revenge. There are very few things worse than being lied to on a daily basis and thatís what cheating is. It steals your identity and feelings of safety.

This book is based on many years of seeing bs in agony. I do think people who cheat more than once, with several people should not be married. They are proven liars and who wants one of those?

marriageredux959 posted 12/8/2020 00:19 AM

Marriageredux, i have a similar history. My husband cheated, I knew it, was too young to provide for my very young children, so I kept my mouth shut and only confronted him years later. He admitted it and we have never discussed it since then. He grew up, I grew up and life went on. My children are older and know nothing about this episode.
I have read the same angry responses from men and assume they are coming from deep hurt, a sense of shame that it happened to them and a desire for revenge. There are very few things worse than being lied to on a daily basis and thatís what cheating is. It steals your identity and feelings of safety.

This book is based on many years of seeing bs in agony. I do think people who cheat more than once, with several people should not be married. They are proven liars and who wants one of those?

^^^ This right here is where SI needs a 'like' button. <3

GuyInPain posted 12/8/2020 05:34 AM

Marriageredux seems to believe there is some major difference between how women & men respond to betrayal. Evidence from the testimonies of betrayed spouses does not support that supposition. Women & men both experience deep hurt. Women & men both express anger. Both genders have trouble rebuilding trust. Both experience the need to go back over the ground repeatedly Ė asking, confirming, exploring, asking again & so on. The degree to which this or that person goes further out in any of these ways is not gender-specific but is a result of personality differences. Whether betrayed spouses can ultimately accept, forgive, reconcile & rebuild is likewise not gender-specific but a result of personality differences & individual decisions.

Thumos posted 12/8/2020 09:49 AM

Get a polygraph.
Put a VAR in her car.
Pull the phone records.
Do a deep dive on her phone.
Hire a PI.

I find it puzzling the above list was positioned by marriageredux as being negative or "burn the witch." Very puzzling.

These are among a set of basic steps uniformly recommended almost all the time to both BWs and BH's and with good reason: Because they work for finding out the truth. And because so very often, a WS is hiding significant information that would be important for a BS to know.

You can't forgive what you don't know. Living in lies is no basis for reconciliation. And not having the truth robs a betrayed spouse of agency and the ability to make an informed decision about their own life, whether to R or D.

It is only with authenticity, transparency and the whole truth are betrayed spouses able to heal, make informed decisions and look out for their own wellbeing first and foremost.

My own WW destroyed texts and made sure I could never see them. Without a VAR I never would have known the truth about her affair at all and it would have been "what he doesn't know won't hurt him." Without a polygraph as a tool of psychic pressure, I would never have known my WW was still lying and failing authenticity and transparency.

I would likely still be in limbo.

Limbo is hellish.

Cooley2here posted 12/8/2020 09:55 AM

Guy, we could keep this going but itís not in anyoneís interest. That said I want you to go back to the minute you KNEW. Chances are you threw up, many times, cried, shook uncontrollably, couldnít make a sentence, screamed....How in the world does anyone make rational decisions then? I have read that the vomiting, diarrhea, wetting ones self, is ones animalistic way of ďlightening the loadĒ so one can run from danger. Itís that powerful. Again how can anyone even think when they are in the basic drive to save their lives. People need our support but not unrealistic expectations. They are already questioning themselves we donít need to load more on them when they are so vulnerable

marriageredux959 posted 12/8/2020 14:44 PM

Thumos, you *did* find more. You needed to know, and your wife needed to be pushed hard out of lying.

Do you think that your current and ongoing ambivalence about your marriage has as much to do with how hard you had to push your wife out of lying, as it does with the actual affair?

IIRC, Thumos, your discovery of the affair was in real time- while it was going on, or shortly thereafter.

Guy, I apologize, I do not know your story.

MrPlsPls, Cooley and I are in a slightly different dynamic. We found out many years later. There's a whole lot of relationship history informing our perception of our spouses and our marriages in between the actual infidelity and the true discovery process. Cooley's description of her situation is almost spot on for mine in terms of a young family.

Perhaps MrPlsPls is in a similar situation as Cooley and me. I don't know.

Thumos, no doubt your 'intuition' was screaming that there was more to your story than your wife was initially owning. You were picking up a million clues from your wife that informed you. Turns out you were spot on.

My 'intuition' always, from the very beginning, from the moment my husband walked back in the door from that trip years ago, my intuition told me that there was more, much more, to our story as well.

Weird thing was, my intuition wasn't pushing me toward believing that there was more, or deeper, or worse, physical infidelity.

I've said this several times: it's very easy for me to believe that my husband stopped right where he has always said he stopped. I've never perceived any dissemblance on his part in that area and that particular aspect of our 'discovery process,' both then and now, wasn't where we rug swept.

I always knew that my husband's guilt was way out of proportion to the narrative, but I never once seriously thought that the physical sex went any further. Weird.

So back in the day, when we were very young and relatively inexperienced, we stuck with the black and white definition of 'sex,' and by that definition, Husband didn't have 'sex' that night. And then we rug swept the rest of it. Husband buried it for years. Put it in a securely taped up box in his mental attic and never, ever touched it.

It's interesting to me that the sentence, the single sentence that blew the lid off of Pandora's box years later was, "She was with me for a while."

This one sentence changed my entire perception of the incident.

In further discovery, it went from being a "I shouldn't have touched her but it wasn't 'sex'" to yeah, that was a type of sex.

The physical facts didn't change.
I haven't found out, and I do not believe that I will find out, that more occurred physically.

But I, we, did plumb the depths of Husband's guilt and shame. No VAR or PI or phone record or even a polygraph would have given me, given us, this insight. It's a whole different deal.

I'm throwing a wall of words at saying that I think we, all of us here on SI, sometimes get too wrapped up in the legalistic interpretations of 'the cheater's script' and attempt to apply it to *every single situation* that shows up here, like it's some sort of physical law, like it's gravity or the sun rising in the east.

There are some commonalities to betrayal of all types, but every marriage is different, and every infidelity and betrayal is unique.

Maybe MrPlsPls and his wife are *exactly* where *they* need to be at this part of the process.

I've become less Esther Perel-y over time and interestingly enough, my husband now actively dislikes her message. He feels that it's too accommodating and it's too easy for waywards to hide in a misinterpretation of her philosophy.

I do believe that many, most here on SI somewhat misinterpret Perel. I do not see her as a monolithic cheater apologist, and I do not 'read' her as a 'how to' manual for resolving infidelity.

I see Perel as simply offering another perspective, and it has its place, IMHO.

IMHO Perel's biggest contribution is the idea that the infidelity is not about the marriage. It's about something that the wayward is attempting to resolve, or *needs* to resolve, about himself. Her most positive contribution, at least for me, is offering a compelling and convincing argument that the infidelity isn't about the betrayed partner at all.

Internalizing that message was extremely helpful to me at that particular juncture in our process. In that my husband's infidelity was nearly completely anonymous and totally physical, I was in a huge amount of pain and insecurity about my physical appearance. Add to this the time travel aspect, that the actual incident happened when I was young and (pardon me) gorgeous, and it just royally fucked with my head. I mean, it really messed me up. I just could *not* for the life of me 'hear' my husband when he told me that it wasn't because this woman was more physically desirable than me- it was simply that she was *there,* and she offered. It was much more a crime of opportunity than a crime of passion. Perel helped me to hear that message, to understand it, to internalize it.

I give Perel credit for another concept that I'm sure gives many on SI fits: the idea that the infidelity is a process of self discovery on the part of the wayward.

I do understand that this message comes across as so much treacle to betrayed spouses, in that it seems to portray infidelity in a positive light.

I do not assume that this self-discovery is necessarily positive.

ETA: By "positive," I mean that I do not believe that this discovery process is automatically pleasant or enjoyable. In many ways it is a net negative for both the wayward and the betrayed: kind of like finding out for oneself what it feels like to step out in front of a Mack truck.

That being said, it can be hella useful.

Who knows what other 'situations' were prevented by my husband's negative experience with the aftermath of a single, relatively light brush with infidelity? We've both had 'opportunities.' My husband learned enough about the experience and himself NOT to go there again.

I do know that 'discovery' was a factor in Husband's situation. He actually defined it as such: the whole thing began with "curiosity."

It very much *was* a moment of exploration for him, both a new situation (he'd never been in an 'adult entertainment' environment where physical contact was allowed) and he'd never stepped over that line before.

Well, he found out about both- and it wasn't all pleasant. It was an epiphany but after the hormone levels dropped back to normal, not a pleasant one.

Not every wayward experiences cheating as a pleasurable experience they'd like to repeat.

I've listened to some of Perel's "Where Shall We Begin?" podcasts. I'm here to tell you that I've heard her serve it unmercifully to cheaters. She doesn't pull her punches. Per above, she's not the monolithic apologist that she's made out to be on SI. But I do understand that at certain points in the process, her particular message isn't particularly helpful.

At other points in the process, it may well be.

I don't mean to be insensitive, Thumos and Guy. Obviously, Thumos, your situation is very different from mine.

But, that kinda is my point...

... sometimes the piling on that happens here causes me to cringe. =(

[This message edited by marriageredux959 at 5:37 PM, December 8th (Tuesday)]

marriageredux959 posted 12/8/2020 14:55 PM

Guy, I don't think that the experience of infidelity is gender specific.

I do think that there is a particular dynamic on SI, to put it crudely, "Bros before Hos."

Whenever a new betrayed husband shows up on SI, the Burn the Witch! crowd shows up like clockwork and piles on.

I do not perceive the same dynamic when a new betrayed wife shows up.

Husband, however, disagrees- he says that he does see some of the same piling on for either gender.

I notice it more out of the guys. Not saying that I'm right- just my perception.

Cooley2here posted 12/13/2020 14:35 PM

I think ďreconciliationĒ and ďforgivenessĒ are two words that should be thrown out of the dialogue. Cheating is lying on an epic scale. (I recommend Lying by Jonathan Wallace. Itís about all forms of lying.) Would you forgive someone who stole from you, beat you up, tried to kill you? I see no difference in the reactions of the victims.
The book is pretty straightforward about cheating and decisions. My decision was based on the reality of my life. Has my husband turned into a saint? Neither have I. His thing(s) were years ago. I donít want to know anymore than I do right now. The dynamics of our life would change and I donít want them to. Thatís reality. It isnít forgiveness, itís just acceptance. If we look down we all have feet of clay.

BlackRaven posted 12/26/2020 01:23 AM

I haven't read the book, but I need to make an observation.

Itís written by an advice columnist couple, Tamara and Wayne Mitchell, on the basis of 3,000 letters theyíve received.

People who are unhappy are far more likely to take the time to write for advice than people who are happily reconciled, or for that matter, putting their time and effort into trying reconciling. If a couple has a great MC, and good ICs, is one of them going to write an advice columnist for a second (or third) opinion? I doubt it. You can see it on twitter or the comments of a news story; people are more likely to take the time to comment when they are frustrated about something.

[This message edited by BlackRaven at 9:28 AM, December 26th (Saturday)]

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