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.
There's MOAR DIRT! MOAR DIRT! TONS MOAR DIRT! SHE'S BEEN SWIMMING OUT TO THE TROOP SHIPS! YOU JUST DON'T KNOW- YET! KEEP DIGGING!
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.
BURN THE WITCH!
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,
"YOU KNOW THAT'S BULLSHIT! HE GOT BLOWN 15 TIMES THEN CAME BACK THE NEXT NIGHT WITH YOUR ENTIRE CHECKING ACCOUNT AND SCREWED EVERYBODY IN THE PLACE! HE HAS HERPES/CHLAMYDIA/SYPHILIS/HIV/GONNOREA/CRABS/LEPROSY OF THE DICK/DENGE FEVER/LATENT EBOLA! GET TESTED!
VAR UP HIS ASS!
NOT ONLY THAT, BUT HE'S BEEN GOING TO MASSAGE PARLORS THREE TIMES A WEEK FOR HAND JOBS EVER SINCE!
YOU JUST DON'T KNOW!
PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR, NOW!
AND OH BTW, GET A PIT BULL FOR AN ATTORNEY! SCORCH THE EARTH! SALT IT!"
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?'