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Reconciliation :
Obsessing over "what ifs"


 gainingclosure (original poster new member #79667) posted at 8:04 PM on Friday, January 7th, 2022

I've been having obsessive thoughts about what ifs lately and its been 16 years since my WW's affair with a coworker.

My wife decided to let her affair partner go and stay in our marriage and Im very thankful for that. The decision to lose her AP was gut wrenching for her and there was about 3 months where neither of us knew if our marriage would survive.

Whenever I ask about what made her decide to be with me, she cites that she started to see cracks in the AP's character. He told her that he didn't have any STDs (but he did), and then he told her that he had gotten an STD test at her request but lied about that too and later even told her that he lied. He also lied about him not having a girlfriend when they met (he played the "poor me" game, but he was dating at least one other girl and neither of them knew about the other). But, other than all of that, AP was apparently a much funner, flirtier person that was just way more in tune with her character and more attentive in every way than I was.

So, back to "what ifs". The bad thought I am struggling with, is that the REASON why she chose us has nothing to do with me and everything to do with her AP having flaws. I want her to say that the reason she decided Im her one, is because of ME. But if her AP hadn't been a liar and instead had been completely sincere, then the fact is that she wouldn't have had any reason to stay in our marriage. This then makes me think if Mr Really-better-than-me ever DOES come around, then that would be it. Our relationship is just based on that she cant find anyone better, but if she could, then vows be damned, that would be it for me.

posts: 29   ·   registered: Dec. 9th, 2021
id 8708375

Thumos ( member #69668) posted at 8:38 PM on Friday, January 7th, 2022

The bad thought I am struggling with, is that the REASON why she chose us has nothing to do with me and everything to do with her AP having flaws. I want her to say that the reason she decided Im her one, is because of ME.

This is a completely legitimate set of concerns. Never be plan B.

One thing I know for a fact is I'm by far the better man than my wife’s AP. I knew this before he had an affair with my wife. He knew it too. Indeed, I'm reasonably confident that his jealousy of me even though he is younger than me -- jealousy of my physique, my good looks, my kindness, my brio and sprezzatura, my intelligence, my career success, my being well-read ... this sounds arrogant but I'm being honest here -- probably played a role in his desire to have an affair with my wife. He coveted what another man had.

I also know WW is desperate for us to stay together and it's because she wants ME.

That said, a few months after DDAY she let slip that her AP had made her feel like no man, ever. No man.

She now says that was a line of irrational BS (she may be simply saying this now to back peddle).

Either way I don't care. I've made it clear to her that it's up to her to convince me she's worth it. Not the other way around. I mean that it's up to her to convince me on every level she's worth it. And worth my time. Does your wife see this from you?

[This message edited by Thumos at 8:53 PM, Friday, January 7th]

"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

posts: 4528   ·   registered: Feb. 5th, 2019   ·   location: UNITED STATES
id 8708388

 gainingclosure (original poster new member #79667) posted at 10:15 PM on Friday, January 7th, 2022

Thumos, its great that you have that level of self confidence and that you are able to turn the perspective around so that it's her that needs to be worthy of you.

My self image and confidence took a big hit when my WW decided to cheat on me with one of the first random guys she got to know very well after marrying me despite years of shared history and great times. What that says to me is that Im about as unique and special to her as any grain of sand on the beach. I could be the most successful, good looking guy ever, and this fact will still haunt me until the day I die.

posts: 29   ·   registered: Dec. 9th, 2021
id 8708417

EllieKMAS ( member #68900) posted at 11:33 PM on Friday, January 7th, 2022

One thing I know for a fact is I'm by far the better man than my wife’s AP.

GC, I know how hard it is to internalize that, but please read it over and over and over again until you do. YOU are a FAR better man than your wife's AP. Miles better. Completely different stratosphere of better. YOU are a faithful husband (and as a BW, I can't tell you what I would have given to have married one of those!), you gave your ww a second chance after she betrayed you (which you did because you are a GOOD person), YOU are the prize here. Your wife ain't and her ap sure as shit ain't either.

Yeah, I bet he was flirty and friendly - players usually are. He was doing all of that to get into her pants, not because he 'loved' her, not because he was such a romantic dewd, it was so he could get what he wanted no matter what damage he did to get it. He was 'in tune' with her so he could get what he wanted, plain and simple. His 'character' is nothing but cracks wrapped in a howyoudoin shell, and your ww knows that on some level - knew it all along I daresay. He sounds like a selfish and entitled man-child to me that is by no measure a better guy than you.

"No, it's you mothafucka, here's a list of reasons why." – Iliza Schlesinger

"The love that you lost isn't worth what it cost and in time you'll be glad that it's gone." – Linkin Park

posts: 3298   ·   registered: Nov. 22nd, 2018   ·   location: CO
id 8708426

Hippo16 ( member #52440) posted at 1:35 AM on Saturday, January 8th, 2022

review your earlier thread

Not Just Friends

posts: 596   ·   registered: Mar. 26th, 2016   ·   location: OBX
id 8708442

Grieving ( member #79540) posted at 1:41 AM on Saturday, January 8th, 2022

I don’t think it’s surprising that he was flirtier and funnier and more attentive. That’s how pretty much everyone is at the beginning of a romantic relationship.

But dude, he had an std and a girlfriend. Lord Jesus have mercy. He’s a loser. If she caught the feels for him and saw you as plan B, that’s her immaturity, foolishness, and stupidly. This dude set a stupidly low bar. My guess is that on your very worst day on this earth, you still cleared it. Rest in that assurance.

That said, I understand how you feel. It’s utterly devastating to feel like your spouse’s plan b, even if that’s not really the case. It has wreaked havoc on my sense of self like nothing else, even when I try so hard to be rational and grounded. I wrote about this on the "honey, they always affair down" thread on the Just Found Out forum a little while ago. Want2BHappyAgain wrote a response that I’ve returned to a lot when I feel low.

Write out a list of what you have to offer as a human being. It’s probably a lot. Hell, you took your wife back and can write a post full of kindness and insight and empathy despite dealing with something incredibly painful. From where I’m sitting as a betrayed spouse, that seems pretty remarkable to me. Look at that list and draw confidence from it.

You’ve been wrestling with this a lot longer than me, but I hang on to the truth that our cheating spouses’ actions and perceptions don’t determine our worth. I get down on myself a lot, so it’s not like I always put my money where my mouth is, but somewhere within myself I know we are all our own plan As. If someone thinks we’re plan b, they can move the fuck on down the road.

posts: 66   ·   registered: Oct. 30th, 2021
id 8708444

BearlyBreathing ( member #55075) posted at 2:20 AM on Saturday, January 8th, 2022

Have you had this conversation with your WW?

Me: BS 54 (49 on d-day)Him: WH. 64D-Day 8/15/2016 LTA
Kinda liking my new life :-)

**horrible typist, lots of edits to correct. :-/ **

posts: 4370   ·   registered: Sep. 10th, 2016   ·   location: Northern CA
id 8708450

Trdd ( member #65989) posted at 5:34 AM on Saturday, January 8th, 2022

She doesn't appear to be remorseful or to be helping you heal. Instead, from these few words you have shared, she comes across as still thinking primarily about herself. It takes a very self absorbed person to say that consistently after they have an affair. Do you think this is accurate?

If it is accurate, then R probably won't work. Is she doing any work to make herself safe for the marriage? IC? Reading? Is she doing anything to change? People rarely just happen to fall into a deep pool of introspection.

posts: 442   ·   registered: Aug. 27th, 2018   ·   location: US
id 8708471

oldtruck ( member #62540) posted at 7:23 AM on Saturday, January 8th, 2022

Was this PA and him having an STD exposed to the OM GF?

SOP, standard operating procedure after D day exposure is one of the many must do's.

[This message edited by oldtruck at 7:25 AM, Saturday, January 8th]

posts: 1388   ·   registered: Feb. 2nd, 2018
id 8708480

StrugglingCJ ( member #72778) posted at 9:58 AM on Saturday, January 8th, 2022

What if is possibly the most damaging phrase in the English language.. What if can make you question every single choice you ever made on a normal day, but after infidelity it hits you like a sledge hammer..

I know, I did this about two years out, our marriage wasn't the great improved marriage you hope for during R, my wife was slipping back into her old ways of being quick tempered, very bossy, and almost bipolar switching from woe is me I hate my life to almost boundless energy and wanting things done asap. Our sex life had all but disappeared because neither of us ever seemed to be in synch mood wise, and tbh due to her still being in contact with AP I was rarely in the mood. I would watch her message him at night, which put me off anything but want to go to sleep.

So I did the what ifs, what if I had acted differently, not let her TT me, demanded NC, actually moved out and had time to myself, had NEVER let her see the AP again (rather than the 3 more times she was away with him till covid stepped in).

They nearly drove me insane tbh, until I realised that the past IS the past I cannot change it I am neither marty mcfly nor Tony stark. But what I COULD do is talk to my wife about these feelings.

So I told her that one night we needed to talk and we put the kids to bed and talked. She didn't like hearing how I felt, that I felt like she didn't give a toss about me, that still talking to the AP was my proof of that, that I was rapidly falling out of love with her, that I was almost certainly ILYBIANILWY, because she wasn't someone I actually wanted to spend the rest of my life with anymore.

It took a fair few hours but I finally managed to get my point across, that I was no longer just existing in the marriage, either she stepped up to be someone I wanted to live with or we would separate. I had to hit the point of no return with her for her to realise what damage she had done.

She started trying to properly change the next day, and us still trying now. I still have the what ifs go through my head, but these days I just look to see what I can change NOW to change my future. I had to change ALOT too to stop being so afraid of how she would react to my choices, but to do things which I want to and are good for my family without asking for permission.

Our marriage is improving, but still has a long long way to go to even get to where it was.. Let alone where it should be.

WW caught in EA May 17
DDay Mar 19 it was full PA
Struggling for R, but still trying.

posts: 178   ·   registered: Feb. 10th, 2020   ·   location: Essex
id 8708484

The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 11:23 AM on Saturday, January 8th, 2022

I am so sorry for your pain and the pain you have been carrying around for almost two decades.

At the time your W responded about why she.chose the marriage she was in the affair fog. I’m not excusing her. I’m not saying she said the wrong things. I’m saying she wasn’t aware that what she was saying was causing more damage and pain.

It doesn’t appear she willingly ended the affair of her own choosing but ended it b/c she was caught. So she still had an emotional relationship with the AP. Your words "gut wrenching for her" provide clear insight into her state of mind at the time the affair ended.

At 16 years later has your wife shown you that YOU and the marriage were snd are her top priority? Has she made amends and worked hard to repair the damage? If so, her actions have proven that you are her first choice.

My H said some horrific things to me during his affair. Worst one was the statement he made that I never loved him and married him for other reasons. Seriously?! Just not true and he said it to be mean and justify his own poor choices. He deeply regrets it and has done everything to prove otherwise.

It’s been 8 years for us since dday2 and for 3 of those years we were R I was still thinking of D him. He made changes and did everything he could to repair the damage. It only changed for me when I decided to stop living in the past and start looking at our marriage now. How in many ways it was better. How he made positive changes as did I.

We all say things we regret. We all wish we had a "do over" and could take things back.

IF her actions for the past 16 years have shown you that she’s not the same lying cheating spouse then hopefully you can just understand it wasn’t her finest moment. My H tried to blame me for his affair which he deeply regrets it. after dday2 he still was in the affair fog and honestly felt he could "explain" himself by pointing g the finger at me. Once I shut that down I never heard it again thankfully.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this gainingclosure.

[This message edited by The1stWife at 11:25 AM, Saturday, January 8th]

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 11162   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8708486

Grieving ( member #79540) posted at 6:41 PM on Saturday, January 8th, 2022

1st wife, the second two paragraphs of your post were very helpful for me. Thank you.

posts: 66   ·   registered: Oct. 30th, 2021
id 8708547

Thumos ( member #69668) posted at 8:40 PM on Saturday, January 8th, 2022

We all say things we regret. We all wish we had a "do over" and could take things back.

I understand that and I understand giving people grace -- but I think many waywards do not grasp how there is very little wiggle room after DDAY.

The most damaging things my WW said in the months after DDAY were:

"That’s private" - when I asked to see the texts

"You see the vows as black and white" - when I pointed out she had violated them

"You are sexually immature" - said because I've been with one woman, her, remained faithful and because I could not understand how her affair sex was "just meaningless sex"

"He made me feel like no man, ever" - said about her AP (incidentally, perhaps you can spot the inconsistency in claiming meaningless sex yet also saying he made her feel like no man ever had).

There's really nowhere to go after saying these sorts of things. The bell cannot be unrung after DDAY -- but that doesn't mean a WS should clang away at that bell repeatedly in the months afterward and make it all so much worse.

I haven't gotten over these things. I can't unhear them.

For many months afterward I would revisit these things. "Remember when you said..." and she would stand by her words.

Now, five years later, she says she doesn't know what she was thinking, that they were said in the heat of the moment, or during intense discussions.

But the damage, I fear, is just too great -- and, aside from feeling I've never been given the full truth, I fear she's hurt me too much with the gas lighting during the affair followed by the DARVO amd gobsmacking things said after the affair. I mean to say, hurt me too much to ever really trust, let her in, or feel a deep connection to.

[This message edited by Thumos at 8:43 PM, Saturday, January 8th]

"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

posts: 4528   ·   registered: Feb. 5th, 2019   ·   location: UNITED STATES
id 8708566

Dude67 ( member #75700) posted at 11:47 PM on Saturday, January 8th, 2022

Here’s the rub. Male life expectancy in the US is currently 76 years. I myself just passed the big 50.

How many more healthy years will a man remain in his prime before death; sexually, fitness, attractiveness, health.

I’ve thought about this recently, not just wrt Infidelity, but in general. There are only a limited amount of prime years left. How does one want to spend these years - in constant thought about their WS’ affair and abuse or getting the most out the the remaining time?

It’s akin to, after middle age, leaving that job you hate and doing something you love, picking up that lost hobby, socializing more with friends and family. I personally think of it really as a race against time.

Of course, out of the things I listed, getting out of infidelity tops it by a mile. How much brain space, and the associated physical drain, is it worth?

I guess it boils down to risk/reward - the big unknown. How many more years will it take to potentially R, where my brain will then relax and have room to maneuver? What if I pull the cord now to ease the pain, but what if true R was only a year away?

posts: 210   ·   registered: Oct. 21st, 2020
id 8708594

The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 11:27 AM on Sunday, January 9th, 2022

Thank you grieving.

PM me any time if you need or want some advice. Always glad to help.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 11162   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8708666

 gainingclosure (original poster new member #79667) posted at 10:43 PM on Sunday, January 9th, 2022

All, thanks for your inputs.

Yeah, I know I'm better than her AP. She tells me this too, although she'd be telling that to him if they ended up together and not us. Dumb male thing here but she told me my unit was bigger than his, but I found out from his next GF that she told him that mine was smaller. She then tried to backpedal, that his was "girthier" but mine was "longer". So this tells me she just tells people what she thinks they want to hear.

One thing Im convinced of for sure is she does honestly think she made the right decision, and I agree with her. But still, my painful internal dialog keeps thinking that IF her AP hadn't been a lying sack, then she'd be with him right now. I still cant believe that she was prepared to up and leave me over this guy had he NOT ended up being a liar. We had a huge wedding with everyone who meant anything present, so many shared experiences, so many good times. It doesn't add up. Took her sacred vows, and some guy who she saw as a better option than me, she would have just run off with. Its kindof like someone aiming a gun at your head, pulling the trigger, and then the gun misfired. She was prepared to kill us and something went wrong with her AP. How does one ever mend after something like that?

Thumos, I see you keep a "stone tablet" of the most hurtful things that your wife has said to you. Im sorry that those are burned into your brain. For me, Im fortunate that Ive memory holed anything like that, although the most painful things weren't what was said to me but what I saw she said to her AP for example texting him "I love you" immediately after telling me.

BearlyBreathing yes Ive had the conversation with my WW about this feeling. Her response is that its stupid to think in terms of what ifs, that didn't happen, we will never know for sure, and she reassures me that Im the better man.

Trdd - she is remorseful and does constantly tell me she made a horrible decision, is sorry, will be making it up to me for the rest of my life, etc, but I dont think she realizes that giving me the reason she stayed because the AP essentially blew it with his various character flaws still leaves me feeling like plan B. Of course, now that the fog is worn off, she can see that I was in fact the best choice, but my issue is with her thinking at that time.

Oldtruck - his GF did find out about the STD as well and my wife contacted her, Im not exactly sure why because I never saw the email, but I feel like it may have been to tell her to stay away from her "man", or that might just be my imagination. Hopefully it was to ask her about if it was true that her AP was a liar. That GF actually got in touch with me after my wife emailed her and asked me to tell my wife never to contact her again and actually offered to help me get my wife back. That GF dumped my wifes AP (as he had been playing both). The AP then got impatient with my wife and had no problem getting a follow up GF which he used to make wife wife jealous. I contacted his new GF as well to tell her about his STDs and operating procedure, and her response was to insult me and my wife (AP had told her many bad things about us Im sure) so I just left it at that. They've surprised me and are married to this day with 2 kids. I hope something really bad happens to him.

StrugglingCJ - thank you for your story. Glad your WW had a moment of clarity. Hope your R continues to improve and get to the best version of R possible.

The1stWife - She actually confessed her affair to me, although I was highly suspicious and almost caught her on a few occasions. Had she not made it a habit of parking her car around the block from her APs house (a level of deceit and sick intentionality behind that one), and a few other lucky breaks, I would have caught her. Bald faced lied to me for probably a month (this was after she out of the blue told me she wanted to move out to learn to be "more independent") and when I started asking her directly on multiple occasions if she was having an A. Im glad that she ended up confessing since I believe it made things easier for us to R and saved me from the "how long would it have gone on for" question. Yep, it was gut wrenching for her. I gave her a demand of NC which was impossible since they worked together. I caught her setting up 4 or 5 secret email accounts over the following few months and continuing to chat via instant messenger and I just let her off with a stern warning each time. She waffled back and forth a few times, and he used his proximity with her at work to get her ear and by the by the end of each work day she'd feel like leaving me again. I would have to then pull her back to me in the other direction before she went into work with him the next day. I almost filed for D a few times, it was a tug of war over her and AP got impatient. I finally sensed that I could go to HR and she'd side with me and not him, was correct in my assessment, and they fired just him and not me or her (we all worked at the same place) and that was the end of their affair. Now, she has diligently shown me over the last 16 years that she is serious about R. We have 3 kids since then, and she is very loving and accepting towards me. But when I think back to that time, boy do I get mad and I dont let it go easily.

Dude67 - your point about that we only have so much time left and we should spend it focusing on the positives made a real impact. Thank you for that.

posts: 29   ·   registered: Dec. 9th, 2021
id 8708771

Butforthegrace ( member #63264) posted at 12:44 PM on Tuesday, January 11th, 2022

When we are single, many of us go through a series of relationships. Usually we end them because we realize that there is an incompatibility of some sort. Sometimes that incompatibility presents as a character flaw in the relationship partner. In other words, we leave for negative reasons involving the other person.

So how is this different in an adulterous relationship? Here's how. When we get married, one of the things we promise our spouse is that we are done with trying other people on for size, testing the waters, playing the field. No matter what, we are here. Period. One of the reasons this is important, I believe, is that there is not just one person in the world for each of us, not just one soul mate or "the one". In fact, there are probably thousands of individuals whom, if we were to form a relationship, would be great life partners for each of us. Maybe millions.

Married people place a great deal of trust and faith in one another. The vows of marriage mean we stop looking to see if there are others, precisely for the reason of this thread. For life, GC must live with the knowledge that his WW didn't just have adulterous sex, she was ready to leave him for another man and only returned by default. The white linen tablecloth, permanently stained by the drippings from the shit sandwich. Will you be content sitting at that table for the rest of your life, eating amongst those brown stains? Only you know that.

I do have a friend who recently divorced, age 60. He was worried that, as a single man, his dating options would be limited. What he has found is that for a professional 60-year old man who is reasonably okay looking, somewhat fit, and whose equipment still works, the world of OLD for single men is a buyer's market, times a million. He is having the time of his life. Plus, unlike in our 30's, there is no biological clock issue with his partners. In fact, many of his partners have had their own journeys of betrayal and loss, they prefer their independence and feel no pressure to re-marry. Just saying.

"The wicked man flees when no one chases."

posts: 3812   ·   registered: Mar. 31st, 2018   ·   location: Midwest
id 8709023

The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 1:11 PM on Tuesday, January 11th, 2022

How can we help gainingclosure get past this?

I think part of forgiveness is that you do not live in the past. I hope that life has been far better the past 16 years and happy.

As my H says — the cheater is willing to say things to justify the cheating and the poor choices that have been made. It’s selfishness and more.

I could hang my hat in the fact that my H was planning to D me. That is another element of pain. But he never did and while I have protected myself I learned a few things from his last affair.

Two hardest things - forgiveness and not living in the past.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 11162   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8709025

 gainingclosure (original poster new member #79667) posted at 9:33 PM on Tuesday, January 11th, 2022

Butforthegrace - Your point sums up exactly what Im struggling with. She tossed her vows the instant someone she saw as better and more fun, a better match for her, came around. She was prepared to leave me, and only the AP's flaws got in the way. I feel a bit like a gun was placed against my head, the trigger was pulled, it was a misfire, and then she wants to be my friend after that. Me: But you were going to kill me? Her: Yeah. Her: Lets forget it and be friends and lovers. crying

The1stWife - Im so confused. Did I forgive her? I mean, Ive chosen to stay with her for 16 years, have 3 kids, support her in all thta she does and wants to do, not talk about it too much (until maybe again recently). I dont know, maybe I forgave and then changed my mind, or maybe forgiveness is a decision one has to make on a day-by-day basis and Im back to it being unforgiven.

posts: 29   ·   registered: Dec. 9th, 2021
id 8709134

ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 10:06 PM on Tuesday, January 11th, 2022

I dont know, maybe I forgave and then changed my mind, or maybe forgiveness is a decision one has to make on a day-by-day basis and Im back to it being unforgiven.

This is why I "wrote off" the debt. I treated it like an accounting problem. There's no way my fWH could have EVER repaid me for his betrayal. There's no payment method for that, particularly for a BS who wants R, and I responsible for my choice to R. I OWN THAT CHOICE. I wasn't bullied into it. I went into it with full consent after deciding that I knew enough to make my "stay or go" decision.

So, I mentally totted up all that my WH had done to prove himself, how he changed the way he treated me and how he took responsibility for making changes in his perspective and his character. These things go a long way, but they don't make us even. I'm not willing to live in a lopsided relationship where I always get the last word because he cheated or I feel resentful because that's not happening. I wanted something equal and reciprocal. But there's all this leftover "debt" because there's no way to really repay a person for their pain and their suffering, not even when you're really trying. So... I wrote it off. It's done. It's over. And it has been for quite a long time now. For me, my sense of honor will never allow me to backpeddle on that. Once my forgiveness is given, it's given. YMMV.

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

{edited for typos.. again}

posts: 4888   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
id 8709149
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