Just now getting back to reviewing all of your comments, which are much appreciated. Ive been in a better place mentally for the past few days after emotionally exhausting myself (again) and coming to the conclusion for the nth time that D would be 100x worse than R at this point. It just doesn't make sense on many levels as Im still in love with my wife and we have a lot more on the line than we did 16 years ago (kids, house, 2 successful businesses and a ton more shared history).
Gently, what did you do 16 years ago for your own healing? You wrote 'somehow I was able to put it behind me', but your healing requires active work on your part.
sisoon - We did couples therapy as well as IC for myself for a few years post A and she was remorseful about it. Eventually we just stopped talking about it, the bad thoughts became less and less and I came to accept things as they were. A few things comforted me and helped me feel more secure. One was that I knew that her A was very situational (wrong place wrong time) and not something that she had actively sought out. I knew her character well enough to know she was not the type to seek out casual sex. She is fairly conservative in that area, and we were each others first intimate partners. She was never into going after guys in HS or College and her closest friends were all Mormon. I think I also mostly blamed the AP for the A as a coping strategy. I know it was my WWs choice to engage in the A, but her AP was definitely very aggressive and manipulative and preyed on her insecurities.
I recommend trying out telling your W something like, 'I need to ask these questions/have these discussions for my own healing. I'm not trying to hurt you by bringing this up. I really have forgiven you, but I'd like your help in healing myself.'
This is pretty much exactly what our MC said to us last night (we got back into MC a few months ago and its helped some), and is sound advice. Approaching the questions in a way that doesn't make her feel attacked is key to getting empathetic responses and not deflection and blame.
But my dominant thought and the only one I kept thinking about was, what if her AP had outstanding personal qualities or ones she thought she couldn't live without? The answer to that is, she'd be gone.
Jorge - This thought used to bother me a lot until I shifted my mindset to be one centered in self confidence. It's the "plan B" thought and comes from a place of self doubt, which is totally understandable in the aftermath of our partners cheating on us with someone else who they felt was "better". Say she left me because she felt the AP was better for her. Well, I think I could find someone better than her for me too. Someone who cheats on their spouse is by definition showing many character flaws. My WW at that time anyway was no catch, and either was her AP for knowingly coercing her into an A. You said something else too that is totally true about comparing the excitement of new love with the stability and comparative boredom of a mature relationship. It's as if me and her AP were in a 400 meter sprint race without me knowing it, and her AP had a 200 meter head start. Totally unfair comparison and I feel that had she left me, she'd have found herself wishing she had me back after the dopamine high wore off. So many waywards think that love should always feel like the first year of a new relationship. They are fools.
Did your wife show efforts to improve herself and your relationship back then? If so, did her efforts fall off?
hey Dr Strange - I read your story and am following it closely in JFO forum. Sorry I scared you with this post! Honestly, it's possible to get to a point where it's not going to be top of mind, so know that there is hope. I cant say that my wife took many efforts to improve herself after the A but she did promise to prove to me how she could be loyal and thus far I believe she has stuck to her word. We did get a lot more serious about our relationship and we bought a house and she got pregnant all within 2 years of her A. So its been more of a "show me you're better through your actions" type of thing.
I've dug into every detail to find the "whole truth," which I think helps, but it has also given me quite the imagery to deal with. Did you choose not to go through all the details at the time? Did the two of you, separately or together, do therapy? And if so, why/when did you stop?
I was and am the same way. I gathered enough fine grained details through asking hundreds of detailed questions so that I can now replay high definition mind movies. This has probably made recovery harder, however, I wanted to know the whole truth too.
The pain I'm reading in your words is unbearable--especially to think it's from a 16-year-old wound that never healed. I can imagine the feeling your describing though--every day that passes makes you feel like a divorce is less appropriate--then boom, you wake up and 16 years ha passed. How old are your children now?
Yep thats exactly right. Kids are now 8, 11 and 13. Things are all very good MINUS her A.
What was the triggering event? Did it involve your WS?
morningglory - I watched the HBO miniseries called "Scenes From A Marriage" which was triggering and made me feel really insecure. I thought that it would be a good idea to revisit her A so that we could get a different perspective on it after all this time, so I started asking her questions, and I started learning little details about it that I hadn't known before or had totally forgotten. This then triggered more questions and mind movies started that took me to a bad place.
Gaining, you know your wife far better than anyone here, and probably more than anyone but herself. Has she been a good wife for the last 14 years? Has she shown you, over time, that she is to be trusted, or are there parts of her personality that keep you in question?
Yes, she has done this. She has been loyal the whole time since the A. I think she has some qualities that have continued to concern me such as low self esteem and an anxious attachment style where she thinks I "don't like her" no matter how much attention I give her, but this has improved over time and with changes on my part. The opportunity factor is also much reduced since she transitioned from a male-rich corporate work environment to operating a women's salon.
1 - Why did you decide to R (in addition to being in love or kids)?
2 - What are you asking about now that she didn't reveal previously?
Robert22205https - Id say it was fear, denial, and a desire to "go back to the way things were" at first that made me want to R. I could not accept another man taking my wife away and I didn't view it from a place of self confidence. I also loved her deeply and she tragically convinced herself that I didn't. I wanted to show her she was wrong about that, which I have.
I asked her about how the PA started and also a lot more about sexual details. I had already known some pretty hurtful and disgusting stuff but heres some of what I found out that was new to me:
- First instance of physical contact was on an airplane. Their boss sent them on a business trip and the AP had blocked her into the window seat and put his hand on her had. She wasn't expecting it and was taken back, but she didn't take it away because she said it "felt good to get that kind of attention" that she felt she wasn't getting from me. I did not know this prior to finding out 16 years later. Is it a detail that matters? Not really, but it's hurtful. It also shows how calculating the AP was in pouncing at a point where she literally had nowhere to go and no way to get away.
- Their first kiss was on an elevator in the hotel on the same trip after the elevator door closed he rushed over and kissed her (IM sure this was the open mouthed type of kiss). As she says, this is a common scene from a romance movie. This pissed me off knowing how calculated the AP was - a real Romeo type guy. Now every time we get into an elevator together I get triggered when that didn't used to happen because I didn't know. This is one of the pitfalls of asking too many questions. Again, does it matter in the grand scheme of things? No but it's emotionally disturbing.
- The first time they had sex was only days after the business trip and it was unprotected from the start, when initially 16 years ago it was told to me that he just gave her oral sex the first time and there was no intercourse until the second time. It was also told to me initially that it was all protected until he showed her an STD test months into the A showing that he was clean but what I learned was that he never showed her any test results and she just took his word for it. She later developed genital warts as we found out AP had been having sex with prostitutes in Brazil (which is also an AIDS hotbed). We are both lucky she didn't kill us.
- AP would regularly go for multiple orgasms, up to 3x per session and he did this starting the first time they had sex. So I'd ask how long he lasted and if he took breaks and she said maybe 10 minutes, then a 10 minute break, then 10 more minutes, then another 10 minute break, and then another 10 minutes. This makes me nauseated playing the mind movies of her just lying there and Im trying to ask her what the fuck were they talking about between all his cums. And then afterwards trying to piece together what her thoughts and feelings were as she drove home and got into our marital bed w/o telling me anything and continuing to go back for sex for months afterwards. I literally become nauseated and there is an ache in my heart.
[This message edited by gainingclosure at 3:37 PM, Saturday, May 7th]