When can six years feel like a lifetime?
We all know that answer.
For me, my reality was obliterated when my wife finally told me about her infidelity years before. I’ve been asked a few times if my life would be better if she kept to her plan of taking her secret with her to the grave. My response is absolutely not.
I may hate that infidelity happened, but I much prefer knowing what my reality was and is, I always prefer as much truth as I can find.
The truth is, it still helps to stop by SI now and again to see if my experience and recovery helps anyone else on their path. It also helps once a year to take stock and figure out where I am now, compared to the mess I was when I first found this forum.
I tend to start off with the reminder that I’m not selling a result.
If you’re new here or a long time member, I don’t care whether you R, D, or move into a cave somewhere — I only care that we all recover from this trauma as well as possible.
My story is on my profile, and repeating details at this point, for me, is a waste of space. A long term A is as horrible as it gets, and getting a confession long after the fact doesn’t make it any easier.
All that said, some of the life changes and lessons are good.
Blind trust was never a good thing. Keeping secrets, also, not so good.
The silver linings are, that once I got my bearings, got on my feet, realized my full value — it allowed me to choose to reset my life how I wanted. I do that every single day I wake up, I choose my life, my path going forward.
I’m surprised as anyone at my choice to stay. The way I grew up, someone cheats, move the fuck on and be done with it.
If you’re cheated on, ever, however it happens, your spouse is NOT owed a last chance.
Read that line above again.
There is nothing romantic about deciding to stay. It’s brutally uphill hard work that takes the full 2-5 years SI members warned me about in advance.
Rebuilding a relationship is absolutely possible, but it takes two people with a relentless effort to get there.
It’s fairly obvious why R is so hard.
One person has been treated as if they didn’t exist and the other made dozens of purposeful, cruel and selfish decisions that destroyed the existing monogamous relationship.
In the first two years post discovery, I learned loving someone was never enough.
If I was going to stay, I needed a relationship worth staying for.
The old foundation of our marriage failed, so if I was going to rebuild from the ground up, I set the parameters of what any relationship I am in now should look like.
Those parameters started with no more filters - I say what’s on my mind. Good, bad or indifferent. I ask the questions I need to ask and no more of the games people play around the other — the saying what people want to hear, or bad trades, horrible compromises, the lies, big and small to go along and get along.
I get to be me.
It sounds obvious, but not always the case as I went through life.
That should have been the case all along. However, the way society talks about giving up parts of yourself in order to make things work in marriage — is wrong. Marriage shouldn’t be a series of sacrifices and asking permission to feel and say and do what we want.
Marriage is never the CAUSE of infidelity. Never.
Infidelity is a choice, a series of choices — that never help a relationship.
All relationships struggle, it’s how we decide to attack that struggle that makes the difference. Why doesn’t everyone cheat when unhappy? Because some of us don’t want to HURT our spouse, or we’re simply honoring the promises we made.
All that said, our marriage was a series of bad compromises, bad trades, sacrifices and walking on egg shells to get through a day. Loving each other wasn’t enough. None of that is an excuse for what my wife did. Our past simply illuminated some of the other changes we needed to make, once I chose to stay.
Once I offered the gift of R, the aim was to form a relationship worthy of both of us.
Some folks seem to define R as staying with their spouse, and that’s it. The work seems to be to tolerate the person who hurt us and hope they don’t make the same choices again.
That’s staying married, it ain’t reconciliation to me.
I understand that finding a way back to a level of trust and vulnerability is very difficult. Based on my reading hundreds of stories here, it seems very few R end up where I am.
I’m happy. My wife is happy.
It took 2.5 to 3 years just to be sure the relationship we wanted was even possible. So many conversations about the work. I had to get my swagger back and then take a second leap of faith I never thought I would make. My wife, is a little behind on getting her full swagger back (as in working on trying to forgive herself for her poor choices), but she definitely is all in on the leap of faith.
We have good days, bad days, great days and sad days, but we’re truly kind to the other. We are giving to the other, we here for the other and finding ways to build on the new connection every single day.
I would also add that I used to be of the mindset that the old M was dead, and this was a new deal, new M. Part of that is still true for me, we are working on the newer us, but I also find our days pre-A had some moments worth holding to as well that form a bit of a bridge from the old M to where we are now. Nothing is all bad or all good, and most humans are not all good or ALL bad, we’re a sum of both.
How do I know it will never happen again?
I absolutely don’t know.
What I do know is my wife, and the current connection we work on everyday, allows us to be more honest than ever before. My wife hates the pain she caused, the pain she can still see on my face from time to time. It helps that she cares about that pain and helps me heal the relationship.
I also 100 percent trust myself.
I know what the lies sound like, what the actions look like, and I learn pretty quick.
The biggest part is we spent nearly two years together everyday when the world was in varied degrees of shutdown. We learned a lot about who we were, who we are and how we want this relationship to be now.
Ultimately, I can’t change a damn thing about the past.
I only get to choose how I respond to adversity.
This particular adversity knocked me on my ass. It took a long time to gain the strength to properly respond to it, beyond the trauma and the pain and depression that comes with it.
All I can say about my experiences, is I feel great about the path I chose.
To get there, I had to feel great about myself, whether I stayed married or not. That was the work I had to do. To know that my wife’s lowest point and her shitty choices don’t reflect on me in any way. Easier said than understood, infidelity is as personal as it gets, and yet, it is NOT because of who we are or what we did.
Choose YOU first. Figure out what you want, and aim for it.
If you do choose R, it only works if your spouse wants it as much as you do.
[This message edited by Oldwounds at 7:04 PM, Monday, June 6th]