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Reconciliation :
Wrapping My Head Around It

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 aa1965 (original poster new member #79450) posted at 11:49 PM on Monday, October 4th, 2021

Hi all,

I'm new here and already reconciled. With wife for 9 years, married for 4.5.

I have been depressed for my entire adult life and that has led to many problems. My wife married me knowing I had this issue and hoped I could work past it. However, the last few years have been particularly bad and I admit that it got to where I became a miserable and angry person. I was to the point of being suicidal for a couple years and the marriage had serious problems. Our interactions were most commonly stressful and argumentative which lead me to disconnect.

I had been in denial about my own mental health and started to project it on others. The last year before separating were spent in constant conflict with the wife about where we would live, how to live, values, etc. I see now these arguments were more out of the depression than anything real. They magically disappeared once I got treatment. I admit I was being toxic and blaming her about things. She started to warn me for almost that whole year that we would split if things didn't change but I interpreted it as her being angry and argumentative and pretty much ignored it.

At the beginning of June she asked me to leave. It seemed sudden to me but I agreed we could have some space and figure things out. A few days after I'm out she tells me we are breaking up and even tells me she is thinking of seeing other people. She says she tried everything with me and didn't have it in her to keep trying.

During the next few weeks I would have to go into the hospital to take care of my mental health. I admit that without her to lean on I was at a new rock bottom. The thing is I got treatment and medication and for the first time in maybe 20 years I feel consistently not depressed.

Unfortunately, she didn't want to hear about it anymore, saying I was being manipulative, and we stopped talking for a few weeks. We start talking again and since my mental health treatment has been consistent and I have genuinely become happy and not mean she says maybe we have a shot after all.

A few days later she lets me know she did think it was over and her strategy to process a breakup is to start dating as soon as possible. She dated around and slept with two people. She lets me know she is sorry for the hurt this causes but that she had to take care of herself in a "divorce". She gave me the option to try again if I think I can move past this. That was a few months ago and we have reconciled. She says that she always wanted me, always wanted things to work, always wanted a long term monogamous relationship and that is what we will have.

I am genuinely changed for the better with my mental health treatment. I treat her much nicer. Our day to day life is 10 times better than it ever was. Mostly our relationship is AMAZING, but the things that happened during the separation eat away at me, leading to me being here.

Negative perspective (my fears): She cheated on me, not being able to handle a marriage separation that only lasted 2 months. Anger might have been a factor. She isn't able to own up to being a cheater but now that I am a partner that is good for her she is wanting to continue. I have to now be constantly afraid that if things get rocky she will repeat.

Positive perspective (her story): She held on for 8.5 years of me being depressed. She tried everything. She warned me for years, especially for the last year. She sent me away, perhaps making some errors in not knowing how to breach the "divorce" topic but wanting to move on. She told me we were breaking up and she would consider seeing other people. She did see other people and felt like she was going through a terrible break-up and used dating and sex as a rebound/validation. She was shocked that I actually finally got help for my issues and changed and it makes her happy I can be different. We can live happily ever after. She even says I can be depressed again without threat to the relationship as long as I am managing it and not projecting it onto her.

So, what do I think here? I am eaten up inside a lot of days just as if I have been cheated on in the more usual way. But on the other hand I know I did a lot wrong to her over the years, I know I have really changed, and I do believe her that she was faithful at every point she was defining us as being "together". I think it is a little strange to be back together after 2 months and still married the whole time and not see it as cheating but her story does kind of make sense.

Thoughts? Advice?

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grubs ( member #77165) posted at 3:22 PM on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Sleeping with others before even starting the process for D in my mind is cheating. While you may not have been the best partner, your wife in sleeping with others was not your fault. There's a right way to get out of a relationship and part of that is putting the old relationship behind you before starting another. That's only fair to all involved and avoids situations like you and your wife now find yourself.

You're not reconciled. Reconciliation takes years. You are both going to need help to navigate this.

She isn't able to own up to being a cheater but now that I am a partner that is good for her she is wanting to continue.

Your feelings aren't going away on their own without concerted effort by both of you. Cheating is a label. What's more important is that she fully admits that what she did was wrong and incredibly toxic to both of you and your marriage. If she, deep down, believes that what she did was justified in any way, she will never be a safe partner for you.

There are some positives in her actions. She disclosed willingly. But there are some red flags that need to be addressed. The rapidness of the sex after the separation for one. Even waywards with the best intentions minimize their actions to try and avoid the cost of those actions to them and their relationships. This is always counterproductive when new information finally emerges. Reading your timeline some things come to mind.

A few days after I'm out she tells me we are breaking up and even tells me she is thinking of seeing other people.

This was the plan all along. Waywards typically have candidates in mind before the separation talk. Even without sex there was likely some flirting or emotional bonding going on before June.

Unfortunately, she didn't want to hear about it anymore, saying I was being manipulative, and we stopped talking for a few weeks.

Is this truly the reason or was she still interested in exploring her new found singleness?

We start talking again and since my mental health treatment has been consistent and I have genuinely become happy and not mean she says maybe we have a shot after all.

Single life isn't what she thought it was.

Now the above translations may be correct. They may be wrong. They may be just me reading your unspoken fears in your words. There is more to the story than you know. There always is. In order to truly reconcile you have to know as much of the truth of what you are forgiving as possible. You as a couple need to have real open and transparent conversations without defensiveness or deflections on her part.

I have to now be constantly afraid that if things get rocky she will repeat.

That's the only way that you will be able to start to believe that this isn't true and move forward with a true reconciliation. What you've done so far is rug sweep. Past experience tells us that this only delays the failure of the relationship until enough resentment and anger builds to destroy what's left. Your marriage, as good as it seems right now, has a ticking bomb built into it. Both of you need to stop pretending it doesn't and work on defusing it.

[This message edited by grubs at 3:26 PM, Tuesday, October 5th]

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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 3:54 PM on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

At the beginning of June she asked me to leave. It seemed sudden to me but I agreed we could have some space and figure things out. A few days after I'm out she tells me we are breaking up and even tells me she is thinking of seeing other people.

The whole thing was planned from the get go. Separation, enjoy some sex with randos, come back home. Say "We were separated!" until the end of time.

She isn't going to change course because she is technically on solid ground (even if you were technically still married).

Good luck with whatever you choose. But if things get bad again and you "separate" again, without a legal separation, without actually filing for divorce, and she sleeps around again, well, don't be surprised.

She has set the boundaries. You have to be the "good boy" version of you that provides for her and doesn't "project" your depression on to her. As soon as you stop meeting her needs. Don't be surprised you find yourself sleeping on a buddy's couch and someone else sleeping with her. I mean, she has to take care of herself during that separation! She doesn't know for sure you are going to get better. Besides, it worked out just fine last time.

[This message edited by This0is0Fine at 3:55 PM, Tuesday, October 5th]

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

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Thumos ( member #69668) posted at 4:05 PM on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

A few days later she lets me know she did think it was over and her strategy to process a breakup is to start dating as soon as possible. She dated around and slept with two people.

Because she already had these orbiters waiting in the wings. It is not only possible, but plausible that she'd already slept with them before she jolted you with the moving-out demand. She gaslit you then and is likely gaslighting you now. The way you are writing about this doesn't sound like reconciliation, but rather a "just found out" situation in which you are still in shock from betrayal trauma (abuse).

I am eaten up inside a lot of days just as if I have been cheated on in the more usual way.

Because you were cheated on in the usual way. My WW invoked an in-home separation to cow me so she could plow ahead with her affair which was then ongoing. Very common. Nothing original here. Your WW has basically engineered a script in which she's the good guy and this is all your fault.

She's not the good guy. She's the really, really bad guy. And this is not your fault.

You're only a few months out from learning about her betrayal. It takes years to heal from betrayal trauma.


EDIT TO ADD: When the first phase of shock wears off, you are likely going to see what we're saying is true and you will go through many phases of grief. You need an individual counselor who has expertise in betrayal trauma.

[This message edited by Thumos at 4:14 PM, Tuesday, October 5th]

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

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prissy4lyfe ( member #46938) posted at 5:02 PM on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Hi,

I can offer my perspective as a wife who has dealt with untreated mental illness for the last 10-12 years.

My husband acted out by being mean, nasty, argumentative, cold...much like you describe yourself. He also became a serial cheater.

I, also became, mean, nasty, argumentative and cold after years of begging, pleading, threatening, etc for him to get help.

So here is what I have to offer... I didn't cheat. We have been separated since Nov of last year and I haven't even entertained the idea of dating. she needs to deal with her own emotional scars before even thinking about dating. The last year I have been heavily in therapy, journaling, relearning myself mentally and emotionally, dealing with kids, work, pandemic, etc. I can't imagine adding dating and sex to the list...unless she is desperately destracting herself from her own HARD work.

And she must do it in order to move forward. Don't negotiate. She does the work. No compromises.

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sisoon ( Guide #31240) posted at 5:23 PM on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

I, too, think your W planned to date and to cheat before she asked for the separation.

She doesn't seem to take responsibility for herself. For example, your post implies she saw herself a some sort of martyr for sticking with you. She's not. She chose to stick with you. She got a something of value from your relationship, even while you were depressed.

She doesn't see herself as a cheater. I do. The vast majority of SI members will see her as a cheater. And yet she doesn't. That's a big problem. It's one thing for her to give herself a pass if she filed for D. But she wanted to split to get space, then she said you're done, and now she wants back into the M. Nope - her extra-M sex is cheating.

Gently, being together is not R. R is a process of (re)building a relationship so it serves you both. It requires a lot of agreement about reality. You do not agree - she thinks she's done nothing wrong. You - and most others - think she has.

Your W needs to change from cheater to good partner for R to work. Your W needs to be willing to do a lot of internal work for R to work. R will not work by sweeping her dissatisfactions under any rug.

You have work to do, too - to resolve the feelings that come with being betrayed, many of which you're aware of already. You need to stay on top of your depression. You need to confront your W's bullshit. It looks like you're doing some of your work, and that's a great start. It looks like you're even doing it in the right order - first your depression, then your feelings.

And you're new to this. You're doing great. You know you want R. That's great.

The next step is to find out if your W is a decent candidate for R> Right now, since she's dodging responsibility, she's not. She's a lousy candidate for R.

My reco is to continue what you're doing and

-figure out your requirements for R
- lay them out for your W to see
- find out if she'll meet your requirements
- R if she will (and if you still want to), and D if she won't.

*****

You may be a giant PITA to live with. I know living with you and your depression is difficult - it's difficult to live with a loved one who is in pain. But cheating doesn't solve any of that. Cheating adds pain.

IOW, you did not cause your W to cheat. If your W were honest with herself, she'd see she could have taken many steps other than cheating.

Her As are all on her. Part of what she has to change is to see she had many options that would have given her relief, but she took the one option that was bound to add pain to both of your lives.

Until she does that - until she accepts that she conducted 2 typical sordid As - you are not in R(econciling).

I have to now be constantly afraid that if things get rocky she will repeat.

Not exactly.

Most of us in R know it's possible for our f(ormer)WSes to cheat again, and we handle that possibility by knowing we can recover again (and recovery will probably include D). I assume that staying in close communication with our fWSes and resolving issues as they come up (including any issues I see with my W's behavior and apparent commitment to our M) will reduce the probability of another A almost to zero. So I know another A is possible, but I don't fear it.

In your case, since you're not perfect you're bound to mess up in the future. Since your W blames you for her As, there's no need for fear - the probability of her cheating again is high.

*****

I'm saying you're not in R now, but that can change if/when you confront her blame-shifting. When you confront - and you don't have to do so until you're ready - maybe she'll see the light. If she does, she can become a good candidate for R.

But you can recover whether she changes or not.

I'm really sorry you have to deal with depression and being betrayed. I'm glad you've found a treatment that works.

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.

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 aa1965 (original poster new member #79450) posted at 5:24 PM on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Sleeping with others before even starting the process for D in my mind is cheating. While you may not have been the best partner, your wife in sleeping with others was not your fault. There's a right way to get out of a relationship and part of that is putting the old relationship behind you before starting another. That's only fair to all involved and avoids situations like you and your wife now find yourself.

This is how I feel. I have told her that even if we were getting divorced her speed in going to other people is concerning.

You're not reconciled. Reconciliation takes years. You are both going to need help to navigate this.

Agreed.

There are some positives in her actions. She disclosed willingly. But there are some red flags that need to be addressed. The rapidness of the sex after the separation for one. Even waywards with the best intentions minimize their actions to try and avoid the cost of those actions to them and their relationships. This is always counterproductive when new information finally emerges.

Yeah we went through a little bit of trickle truth. I have since grilled her to the n-th degree and believe I have the full story. It was incredibly damaging that she didn't tell 100% of the truth up front. She tried using a "we were separated and I was acting on my own and I don't have to tell you anything" defense.

This was the plan all along. Waywards typically have candidates in mind before the separation talk. Even without sex there was likely some flirting or emotional bonding going on before June.

This is 100% confirmed. One of the guys she slept with is an ex-boyfriend who she was seeing in an emotional affair before I left. This is the part that I think makes our story a bit different/interesting. She plainly states that once she started hanging around him she realized our marriage was going nowhere and that we didn't have the basic ingredients to continue anymore. She doesn't try to deny any of this, just says that our relationship was so fucked up that she had to end it because once she saw it was possible to not be miserable she couldn't accept being miserable.

I asked if she intended to sleep with this guy before kicking me out. She says no, but as soon as she did he basically begged for a chance and declared his love. She says she told him he could date casually but she wasn't going to be with him for anything long term. She slept with him while dating others (and sleeping with one of those). Once she decided to get back with me this ex-boyfriend apparently was super crushed and upset because he feels led along even though he is the idiot who made himself a rebound and slept with a married woman.

Is this truly the reason or was she still interested in exploring her new found singleness?

For what it's worth, in retrospect and in some verification I have from others I do believe that when she stopped talking to me she intended to divorce. She moved all of my stuff into a storage unit so I could get it without interacting with her.

Single life isn't what she thought it was.

Perhaps. I am still trying to figure this one out. I do believe it is a bit of cold calculus, but it might not all be bad for me. Her story is that she has and does love me intensely. That I was always the one she wanted to be with. That she was utterly crushed once it seemed we had to divorce. She does say she behaved immaturely and in a way she is not proud of in that "divorce". She says that she saw me as toxic and not a good candidate for long-term. We are younger (late-20s and mid-30s) and with no kids and she started to see I would not be able to raise a kid with her with my depression.

The "good" part is that from the emails I was sending her when we weren't talking she saw a glimmer of hope. She describes a moment in which she saw that she could take a risk that my change was real and if it could lead to us having a chance at being together she wanted to take it. Her behavior since does seem to corroborate this. There have been almost daily exclamations and even tears of joy at my change in behavior post-depression (which is indeed drastic).

That's the only way that you will be able to start to believe that this isn't true and move forward with a true reconciliation. What you've done so far is rug sweep. Past experience tells us that this only delays the failure of the relationship until enough resentment and anger builds to destroy what's left. Your marriage, as good as it seems right now, has a ticking bomb built into it. Both of you need to stop pretending it doesn't and work on defusing it.

Acknowledged. This is what we're working on.

The whole thing was planned from the get go. Separation, enjoy some sex with randos, come back home. Say "We were separated!" until the end of time.

I'm not so sure of that. I think she snapped. From her own words and reports of others she was near admitting herself to a hospital for suicidality once we split. Her reactions in that space were clearly not the best and she admits that.

I think the crux of my case might be my depression. I actually agree with her that if I didn't change our relationship was never going to succeed. I also admit that it never would have been healthy for us to have kids in that situation which was something we were trying to get to. I also admit that she begged me to change for years and in particular in the last year before separation she gave me written and verbal warnings that if I didn't change we would divorce.

The speed of separation, infidelity, and reunion is mind-boggling. But so is the complete 180 I made in my own mental health during that time. I have referred to it as a miracle because it feels like one. Previous to the split I was already suicidal for years, constant low energy and refusal to participate in new things, constantly dipping out on things she wanted to do. I avoided us having meals together, us hanging out with friends together, us trying new activities, etc. I also would roll my eyes at her and blame her for it when she would try to make progress.

After the depression lifted I saw how much I had been missing out on in life. I wanted nothing more than to make up for lost time and have as much fun, laughter, meals together, mutual friends, activities, etc. as possible that we had not been having before. This is where we have been at for a few months now and we both love it.

She admits that she has a hard time squaring what she did and the depths of her wanting to divorce with where we are at now. She says she didn't think it was possible I would change since she begged for it for years.

Good luck with whatever you choose. But if things get bad again and you "separate" again, without a legal separation, without actually filing for divorce, and she sleeps around again, well, don't be surprised.

She has set the boundaries. You have to be the "good boy" version of you that provides for her and doesn't "project" your depression on to her. As soon as you stop meeting her needs. Don't be surprised you find yourself sleeping on a buddy's couch and someone else sleeping with her. I mean, she has to take care of herself during that separation! She doesn't know for sure you are going to get better. Besides, it worked out just fine last time.

Of course this scares me. I have asked her many times since reunion in what cases this could happen again. She says that I had years of warnings including written warnings (which is true). She says if we were ever headed that direction again I would get the warnings again. Also she says I don't have to be perfect or not depressed, just that I can't blame her for it. What she means by "project" is me telling her that if she had done X or not done Y I would be happy and all of my unhappiness was therefore her fault. That was pretty mean of me to be fair. I can't imagine how draining it must be to live with a suicidal partner for years and when you probe at it they tell you it is all your fault.

Because she already had these orbiters waiting in the wings. It is not only possible, but plausible that she'd already slept with them before she jolted you with the moving-out demand. She gaslit you then and is likely gaslighting you now. The way you are writing about this doesn't sound like reconciliation, but rather a "just found out" situation in which you are still in shock from betrayal trauma (abuse).

Yeah, a part of me does still wonder about if she slept with the ex before I left. I may never really know. I do agree I am still traumatized by it. My head is still spinning from the betrayal for sure.

Because you were cheated on in the usual way. My WW invoked an in-home separation to cow me so she could plow ahead with her affair which was then ongoing. Very common. Nothing original here. Your WW has basically engineered a script in which she's the good guy and this is all your fault.

She's not the good guy. She's the really, really bad guy. And this is not your fault.

You're only a few months out from learning about her betrayal. It takes years to heal from betrayal trauma.


EDIT TO ADD: When the first phase of shock wears off, you are likely going to see what we're saying is true and you will go through many phases of grief. You need an individual counselor who has expertise in betrayal trauma.

I guess that's what I'm, trying to figure out right now as the initial shock is getting to the end point (it's been about 3 months since I found out). I do have an IC who is great.

Hopefully my replies add more context to this story and why it feels so confusing and complicated.

If I was truly being an asshole to her for years can I complain if the relationship blew up?

If I have found a way to not be an asshole (depression treatment) can I just be happy with that and move on?

Can I trust her distinction that she is not prone to cheating but admittedly prone to sleeping around after she decides a relationship is over and that she wants a redo on this one?

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 aa1965 (original poster new member #79450) posted at 5:36 PM on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Thank you all for your insights so far.

One more little tidbit before I can get around later to replying to the other posts. I realize I am defending her a lot. I think my mind needs to understand all the reasons she could do this for me to forgive her. If she did it out of divorce and pain it is a lot easier to stomach.

Her biggest fault seems to be not that she wanted to divorce but that if she wanted to divorce she should have gone through the proper steps first. Dating and sex during a separation should have only happened once some more time had passed and it was clear we were indeed divorcing. Her defense of this is that she was terrified of divorce. That she was basically at that point a year before the separation but didn't have the courage to follow through with anything. She DID try to initiate a separation at that point and I stayed away one day and just came back. She says she was in constant disbelief that the person she loved most (me) would refuse to change in the very reasonable ways she was asking (helping with any chores at all, planning any time with her, not insulting her constantly).

The betrayal hurts really bad but the hurt is lessened if I can believe that I did always have the power to not have this happen. She maintains that none of this would have happened if I had even indicated a willingness to change at any point along the way (I didn't, I admit).

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13YearsR ( member #58259) posted at 6:03 PM on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

This is 100% confirmed. One of the guys she slept with is an ex-boyfriend who she was seeing in an emotional affair before I left.

That's an important bit of information to leave out of the first post. tongue

Can I trust her distinction that she is not prone to cheating but admittedly prone to sleeping around after she decides a relationship is over and that she wants a redo on this one?

Unilaterally deciding that the marriage is over and messing around with an ex before she tells you that it's over is straight up cheating and I'm sure it emboldened her to tell you that she wanted a D.

There are no redos, but reconciliation and a new, better, healthier chapter in your marriage is definitely possible if both of you seek help for your issues. She needs to figure out why she tolerated poor treatment for so long and then turned to someone else to soothe her instead of taking care of herself.

I assume you're receiving ongoing treatment?

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. ~ Gloria Steinem

The grass is greener on the other side of the fence because you're not over there messing it up.

DDay 2004. Successful R. 33 years married

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 aa1965 (original poster new member #79450) posted at 10:21 PM on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

So here is what I have to offer... I didn't cheat. We have been separated since Nov of last year and I haven't even entertained the idea of dating. she needs to deal with her own emotional scars before even thinking about dating. The last year I have been heavily in therapy, journaling, relearning myself mentally and emotionally, dealing with kids, work, pandemic, etc. I can't imagine adding dating and sex to the list...unless she is desperately destracting herself from her own HARD work.

And she must do it in order to move forward. Don't negotiate. She does the work. No compromises.

Thanks for this. I fully agree. She admits that whether she cheated or waited for a divorce was her decision. She is in IC and it is one of the things she is working through.

I, too, think your W planned to date and to cheat before she asked for the separation.

I know she wanted to date others. The question is if she planned to separate, cheat, and then have me come back or if she genuinely though this was the only way to end a relationship. She admits that in her past whenever she wanted to end a relationship she did it by moving on quickly so that there was no going back. She admits that her doing this should have been a no-go for us getting back together but now we both have changed our minds.

My reco is to continue what you're doing and

-figure out your requirements for R
- lay them out for your W to see
- find out if she'll meet your requirements
- R if she will (and if you still want to), and D if she won't.

I have no idea exactly what to ask for anymore short of her using a time machine. She has answered my questions and gone no contact with any other man she was involved with. She is going to counseling with me and in the present moment is being an amazing partner.


Most of us in R know it's possible for our f(ormer)WSes to cheat again, and we handle that possibility by knowing we can recover again (and recovery will probably include D). I assume that staying in close communication with our fWSes and resolving issues as they come up (including any issues I see with my W's behavior and apparent commitment to our M) will reduce the probability of another A almost to zero. So I know another A is possible, but I don't fear it.

In your case, since you're not perfect you're bound to mess up in the future. Since your W blames you for her As, there's no need for fear - the probability of her cheating again is high.


Thanks for this. The way we are talking it does seem the probability of a repeat is almost zero. She doesn't blame me for her affair, she blames me for getting us to the point that she wanted to divorce. She accepts her way of handling this was not good.

This is why I think the probability of a repeat is low. It's not about warding off affairs while we are living together, it's about not letting the relationship come within striking distance of divorce. I think I can live with that if that's the truth. The way I think of it is, if we get close to divorce again then clearly we aren't intended to be together anyways and who she sleeps with after that is irrelevant.

I feel I have a good reason for this in my depression. If my depression being fixed doesn't fix the relationship then it means she was at fault just as much as me for our separation. And if she is responsible for our relationship going poorly and handled it by cheating then I don't want to be with her anyways. I am only forgiving because of the huge list of things I did wrong for years before all of this.

I'm really sorry you have to deal with depression and being betrayed. I'm glad you've found a treatment that works.

Thank you!

Unilaterally deciding that the marriage is over and messing around with an ex before she tells you that it's over is straight up cheating and I'm sure it emboldened her to tell you that she wanted a D.

Yes, she definitely had an emotional affair before we separated. The fact that it turned physical after makes it even worse. She admits it led to her wanting a divorce, but she says it wasn't about him specifically but just realizing that it was possible to not feel like crap in a relationship.

There is an interesting game at play here with her trusting me for really changing as well. She admits that if several months go by and I have really changed she will feel worse for what she did. I think she still feels justified because my changes might be fake or temporary and if I start acting like I did before she says she will not hesitate to divorce. But if I have truly fixed my problems in a little while she is going to feel not like a woman who was trying to head towards a divorce but a woman who cheated on her husband while he was in the middle of fixing his shit. I honestly don't think she is ready to deal with the guilt yet.

There are no redos, but reconciliation and a new, better, healthier chapter in your marriage is definitely possible if both of you seek help for your issues. She needs to figure out why she tolerated poor treatment for so long and then turned to someone else to soothe her instead of taking care of herself.

Yeah, this part does bother me a lot. Sometimes when I am upset about the affairs she says "Well a typical woman would have divorced you years ago so you can't be mad that I actually held on for longer." Maybe the part about holding on longer is true, but she does have a responsibility to manage what she sees as poor treatment in a healthier way. She could have gotten us into counseling ages ago.

I assume you're receiving ongoing treatment?

We both are, yes.

posts: 4   ·   registered: Oct. 4th, 2021
id 8691766
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jaynelovesvera ( member #52130) posted at 11:25 PM on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

I realize I am defending her a lot.

While reading your posts I was thinking that. Then you said it and seem to continue in the same vein.

There's a behavior I was susceptible to - KISA - being her knight in shining armor.

Who's defending you?

Things didn't improve for me until I got angry and used that energy to focus on being my own defender.

BH

Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you. Jean-Paul Sartre

posts: 390   ·   registered: Mar. 5th, 2016   ·   location: United States
id 8691772
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13YearsR ( member #58259) posted at 11:32 PM on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

She could have gotten us into counseling ages ago.

I'm bristling a bit at "us." She could have sought counseling, but so could you. You're both responsible for the state of the marriage prior to infidelity. Once infidelity comes into play the dynamic changes and the fault shifts more to the WS, but before that, it's on both of you.

Each person is responsible for their bad behavior, regardless of their partner's bad behavior. Her dysfunctional response to your depression and mistreatment is understandable because we're fallible humans and we sometimes do stupid, dysfunctional things to try to cope, but it's not excusable, if that makes sense. She's got to own that she did bad all on her own, regardless of the circumstances, and that she could have left or chosen to seek help rather than act out.

I honestly don't think she is ready to deal with the guilt yet.

It sounds like you're right. Continued individual counseling would be a rock solid boundary for me.

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. ~ Gloria Steinem

The grass is greener on the other side of the fence because you're not over there messing it up.

DDay 2004. Successful R. 33 years married

posts: 570   ·   registered: Apr. 13th, 2017   ·   location: TX
id 8691774
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Buster123 ( member #65551) posted at 7:37 AM on Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

Let's get this out of the way, you have NOT reconciled, not by a very very long shot, your WW has betrayed you, she had an EA and possibly a PA before the separation.

But if I have truly fixed my problems in a little while she is going to feel not like a woman who was trying to head towards a divorce but a woman who cheated on her husband while he was in the middle of fixing his shit. I honestly don't think she is ready to deal with the guilt yet.

She shouldn't have to wait months for that, she should acknowledge and admit to you and herself that what she did was CHEATING, she committed adultery, the "trying to head towards D" part is simply bullshit to assuage her guilt and selfishness, in fact she's now a SERIAL CHEATER. I always suggest D when it comes to serial cheaters, but if you insist on trying to R, here's a few of the basics:

1) Demand she sends an NC FOREVER text to all her boyfriends and then block them, no questions asked, you need to know their identities and if they are married or have an SO, you should inform them and your WW should help you with it and not protect her APs. If anyone helped/enabled/covered for her during the trysts those people need to go too, they're not friends of the M.

2) Demand a complete written timeline of all her As, subject to a polygraph (very important), make sure she then reads it out loud to you, the written timeline prevents her from changing her story later and helps with remorse by having her face her huge betrayals.

3) Demand she gets tested for STDs (you should too), the "walk of shame" to the doctors office typically helps with remorse, remember No remorse, No chance to R successfully.

4) She should apologize to both sets of parents/close relatives for her huge betrayal without being defensive and use the "but we were separating bullshit". Full exposure typically kills the "beautiful, exciting and romantic" aspects of the A and replaces them with pure shame and embarrassment, the more she hates the As, the less likely she is to cheat again in the future, it also helps with the necessary remorse (don't confuse regret with remorse).

5) Demand she takes a polygraph, cheaters lie, minimize and trickle truth a lot, she's a proven cheater and liar, there's a chance the EA could have been a PA before the separation, plus this may not necessarily be her first rodeo during your M, so one of the questions should be if she had any other inappropriate relationships that she has not disclosed to you and if she had sex with anybody else after you became exclusive, during your M and before the separation.

6) Demand she signs a postnuptial agreement to protect yourself financially if she cheats again in the future (no alimony and she doesn't touch your retirement should be included).

7) She needs to go to IC with someone who specializes in infidelity (very important), to find out her "whys".

8) She needs to offer full on demand access to her phone and all electronic devices and passwords FOREVER, no questions asked.

If she refuses to do any of the above I suggest you file for D and end it yourself.

Keep posting frequently, the collective wisdom of SI could help you go through this difficult situation, we've "seen" it play out THOUSANDS of times here on SI and other forums. Every case is different but cheaters typically follow a similar script.

posts: 2454   ·   registered: Jul. 22nd, 2018
id 8691793
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sisoon ( Guide #31240) posted at 5:37 PM on Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

I think my mind needs to understand all the reasons she could do this for me to forgive her. If she did it out of divorce and pain it is a lot easier to stomach.

Forgiveness isn't a requirement for R. Understanding her reasons ... if you're a BS you'll never truly understand. The data gives one a false sense of control. The data does have benefits - rebuilding bonds, WS taking responsibility, etc. But there's no understanding, and NOTHING really makes betrayal easier to stomach.

...the hurt is lessened if I can believe that I did always have the power to not have this happen.

THERE'S NOTHING YOU COULD HAVE DONE TO PREVENT YOUR W'S A. Your W chose to cheat instead of honestly resolving her issues.

You can't control her. The world does not revolve around you (or me or any other person). You have a lot of control over yourself, but not over other people.

*****

WRT requirements for R:

Above all, I recommend thinking of R as 3 healings:

1) You heal you. Most BSes are inundated with immense amounts of one or more of grief, anger, fear, shame on d-day. The largest part of your work is to process those feelings out of your body. A good IC can help you do this. It's essential that you fond a good IC and shrink (since you need meds).

2) Your WS heals her/himself. She needs to change from cheater to good partner.

3) Together you build a new M.

This means you can recover from being betrayed without your WS; that is, you can survive this crisis and thrive without your WS, but you need your WS to R. You can heal yourself because you control yourself. You don't control your WS. I recommend making survive and thrive your primary goal and R your stretch goal.

Have you read the Healing Library here? If not, there's a lot of good stuff there. Click the link in the yellow box in the upper left of the SI pages.

I think there are a number of key ingredients to R.

First, what do you want? Do you really want R? If not, don't lie to yourself - D can be a moral and honorable response to being betrayed. R is hard work, and wanting it makes it less difficult.

Second, if you do want R, is your WS a good candidate?

I recommend figuring out your requirements for R and seeing if your WS will sign on. If not, perhaps they can come up with something else that will meet your requirements, but if you can't negotiate something truly acceptable to both of you, great - you can go directly to D. Otherwise, you can monitor them for 3-6 months and commit to R for yourself if they are consistent in meeting your requirements.

Common requirements include:

NC - no contact with ap; if ap initiates contact, report to BS and together decide how to respond (usually with silence)

Transparency - BS has passwords to e-mail, voice-mail, phones, etc.; WS keeps BS informed of whereabouts, activities, and companions at all times

Honesty - WS answers BS's questions when they're asked, although sometimes a break is necessary, sometimes an answer is best deferred to MC session, etc., no more lies.

IC for WS - to change the thoughts and feelings that supported the A, with signed release that enables C to talk with BS about WS's goals and progress (so the BS can make sure WS's IC isn't being lied to).

IC for BS - for support

MC - to help communications between the partners

Some (Most?) people have individual requirements - my W must arrange dates for us on a weekly basis and must initiate sex sometimes.

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: 26161   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8691832
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