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Reconciliation :
The Minefield of Details and Dealbreakers

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IceGold ( new member #79515) posted at 4:36 AM on Friday, July 8th, 2022

For me - it was like I just had to know how deep this rabbit hole went. Obviously he was not the person I thought he was and I needed to know who I was dealing with now.

Me= BW married 18 years
Too many DD to want to list
Two wonderful kids that deserve better

posts: 14   ·   registered: Oct. 25th, 2021   ·   location: Carbon Based Planet
id 8743766
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Grieving ( member #79540) posted at 1:48 PM on Friday, July 8th, 2022

I am a need to know the details person, but I didn’t think of it in terms of finding dealbreakers.

In my situation, my husband lied and lied and lied for a month after I confronted him with evidence of an affair. That broke me and wrecked our relationship as much or more than the affair did. I needed a complete turnaround, a complete willingness on his part to tell the truth and be completely open about everything in order for me to even consider staying with him.

I also had the sense, right or wrong, that details not shared with me functioned as intimate secrets connecting him and his affair partner. I felt like him telling me details helped break that connection and prove that his primary commitment was to me.

I’m also a person who jumps to worst case scenario pretty quickly, so when I lack information I fill in the gaps with suppositions that are worse than reality. Knowing details helps combat that tendency.

There are some fine/finer/finest details that I didn’t/don’t need to know. But I needed a detailed timeline of their relationship and a willingness on his part to put all those pieces together and answer whatever I asked.

There are some details that will probably hurt forever—his behavior on our 20th anniversary, for example, and what he was doing behind my back on the night of a really nice date I planned for us. But those aren’t dealbreakers; they’re just microcosms of a larger betrayal.

For me, potential dealbreakers are the big things—he lied to me in a massive way, he destroyed our physical and emotional exclusivity/monogamy, he unilaterally made irreversible decisions about the nature of our relationship without giving me a say in it, and he endangered my physical health by having unprotected sex with someone else and then with me, without telling me. The details were necessary not because they might contain dealbreakers, but because I needed honesty and needed to understand what had happened as best I could in order to begin moving forward.

Married for 20 years with two kids when my husband had a six month emotional and physical affair with a coworker. DD1: 6/2020 (soft evidence followed by a month of lies). DD2: 7/3/2020 (hard evidence, truth, started reconciliation journey).

posts: 190   ·   registered: Oct. 30th, 2021
id 8743784
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 Wounded Healer (original poster new member #34829) posted at 7:26 PM on Friday, July 8th, 2022

I continue to be so appreciative of this discussion. Thanks so much to you ALL again. Special thanks to those who responded to my follow up questions. Getting these perspectives is super helpful.

Grieving - such a super thoughtful persepctive, thanks for taking such time to articulate that.

Hiking - (I want to tread SO lightly here as, obviously being a BS myself I understand triggers even in the context of helpful SI discussion...I will proceed with sensitivity and caution) One of the things I feared I would discover (and -for reasons I likely still can't grasp- I believe would be an absolute dealbreaker for me) would be "comparisons" that my wife's AP(s) and her might have engaged in concerning me. Certainly sexual comparisons were/are atop my list, but also really also anything to do with my "masculinity" vs. the APs. I just knew/know/believe that if that had happened I just couldn't. IIRC, you experienced that in your husband's A. And, I believe, upon initial discovery you very raw-ly posted about really really struggling with that...to the point (again, IIRC) of wondering if you were going to be able to overcome that. One of the reasons I ask (just so you know I am not asking you to re-visit your pain without purpose) is that, while initially I believed this did not happen in my situation, I recently (last April) learned that it did...however not to the degree I had envisioned in my "I won't be able to overcome that" thoughts pre-discovery. But, even though it is a more limited form of "comparison" for me that my wife engaged in with one of her APs...it is still one of the more stubborn sticking points for me (and a big reason why IC for me at this stage). So I (gently) ask....how did you overcome it? And why, at least initially (beyond the obvious disrespect) can you identify why that might have been a potential landmine/dealbreaker for you (me?). Thank you SO much for considering a response...and I also understand if you need to pass.

*Footnote - the beauty of CT's approach is that it pretty much covers everything if you can pull it off. So...theoretically...wife told her AP I screw like like a castrated hamster compared to his Mega Ultra Uber Alpha Bull-ness? NO PROBELM! It was all fantasy affair pixie dust BS talking anyway, right? AP plans on being a better father to my kids and my wife wholeheartedly agrees and expresses eager anticipation? DOESN'T MATTER! She's talking out of her hopelessly fogged up a$$, amiright? Has nothing to do with me! I mean...I get it. If comparisons DID happen...they were "fantasized". So, in theory...everryting SHOULD be able to be framed and fit under that "umbrella." But, oftentimes I find (with much of the affair processing) that I am able to hold the "frame" over the events on some days...but others the frame busts at the joints and the "fantasy" words and actions in my wife's affairs get the big voice...and win. Some days.

Thanks so much again for the contributions in this discussion. They contunue to be greatly appreciated.

WH

BS - 39 years on DDay

DDay #1: 10/13/2010 - 4 month EA/PA with Divorced OM from 10/2009 to 2/2010

DDay #2: 4/14/2021 - 8 month EA with married OM/family friend 2/2010 to 10/2010

Crazy about each other. Reconciling.

posts: 31   ·   registered: Feb. 15th, 2012   ·   location: Northern Indiana
id 8743918
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 8:43 PM on Friday, July 8th, 2022

A note on comparison, Wounded.

In that area, I had it easier than most ... it's just hard to compare a man with a woman. OTOH, there were areas of comparison. As time went forward (I guess that's the direction!), things would come out that implied that I was better than ow in my W's eyes, not just after the A but during it, too.

So what? My W still cheated. My life and important illusions were shattered. I still hurt immensely.

I don't give a shit about comparisons. shocked

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: 27424   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8743928
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Notaboringwife ( member #74302) posted at 9:27 PM on Friday, July 8th, 2022

At the very start of our R, during one of our many, many talks, my former wayward husband explained that yes, he was comparing me with his affair person. He added that with somethings I was better at and some things she was better at. Now I had not asked him about comparisons, he just opened up on his own. I too needed a certain amount of details to understand the nature of what had happened not to find dealbreakers but to understand my reactions to these events and move on from those events.

My god I remember getting so f*ing angry with him! I felt insulted, reduced to a nothing. This is one area where I did not want any details whatsoever. I did not need to know how, where, when she was better than me and vice versa. So I shut him down immediately and fumed for a few long days and nights. He can keep his comparisons to himself, yeah?

Four years later, I am still standing, he is at my side, we are moving on. I am my own woman. Still need details though... smile

Me: fBS late 60’s
Him: fWH late 60’s
DDay : March 2019
Separation: March 2019
R: June 2019

Shift your internal stance from "I’m right and you’re wrong" to "help me understand." Everything else follows from it...

posts: 318   ·   registered: Apr. 24th, 2020
id 8743937
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BlackRaven ( member #74607) posted at 10:17 PM on Friday, July 8th, 2022

When I was considering R I asked for details. I went through a full therapeutic disclosure with polygraph because my ex is a sex addict. I was provided a packet with about 100 questions regarding what level of information and specifics I wanted to know.

I wanted information, but not too too much detail. My reasoning
-I needed to know his moral compass
-I needed to understand if any of it was personally directed against me. (I believe it was given that they had sex in our home)
-I needed to understand what his affairs cost our relationship, in terms of finances (gifts etc) and emotions (how long they lasted, if he was in love with them, etc).
-I needed to try to fill in some holes. Were there times I was suspicious and was gaslighted, or was I just clueless.
-I wanted to know who else knew
-I wanted an understanding of his pattern of acting out, lying and gaslighting. I guess I figured if I knew it I could better watch for it in the future
-There's a saying in 12-step, "You are as sick as your secrets." It was, in some ways, an opportunity for him to come clean, to have me accept the past, and to rebuild our relationship on a foundation of honesty instead of the lies and deceit that he had brought into our marriage.

Despite passing the poly, he was still lying, and that was the final straw.

posts: 335   ·   registered: Jun. 17th, 2020
id 8743942
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Butforthegrace ( member #63264) posted at 11:02 PM on Friday, July 8th, 2022

DOESN'T MATTER! She's talking out of her hopelessly fogged up a$$, amiright? Has nothing to do with me! I mean...I get it. If comparisons DID happen...they were "fantasized". So, in theory...everryting SHOULD be able to be framed and fit under that "umbrella." But, oftentimes I find (with much of the affair processing) that I am able to hold the "frame" over the events on some days...but others the frame busts at the joints and the "fantasy" words and actions in my wife's affairs get the big voice...and win. Some days.

From my perspective, the evil in the "comparison" facet of some affairs isn't the degree to which the WW believed in the accuracy of the aspect being compared. That is, as you note, part of the fantasy of an A. As frequently discussed, the biggest sexual organ lies between the ears. If the mind believes a sexual partner is hot, then the partner is hot, regardless of objective reality.

However, what would be hard for me is the fact that the WW allowed herself to go there, at all. How could she harden her heart to me, a BH, to such an extreme degree that she would engage in such highly directed and personalized vituperative, against me -- that is, specifically intended to hurt me -- as a part of enabling an affair with another man. How can I ever make my heart vulnerable to you again if I know that at one point in time you were willing to go there and say such hurtful things about me to another man.

"The wicked man flees when no one chases."

posts: 3939   ·   registered: Mar. 31st, 2018   ·   location: Midwest
id 8743952
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Grieving ( member #79540) posted at 11:03 PM on Friday, July 8th, 2022

I’m sorry about the comparison stuff, WH. I wasn’t thinking too much about it because my husband was more of a compartmentalizer than a comparer in his cheating. But my own comparisons—comparing myself to his affair partner—almost destroyed me, so I know if he had really actively compared me unfavorably to her it might have been a dealbreaker, just in the sense that it might have been too hard for me to rebuild myself while staying with a person who had thought I didn’t measure up to their affair partner.

Does your wife think of her comparisons as fantasy now? Or at least as wrong or irrelevant?

When I was mired in the worst of comparing myself to the other woman (she has bigger boobs, a better job, is more exotic/intriguing, was way more expressive/emotive), what helped pull me out of it was my "fuck it" mantra. I was like, "fuck it, there’s lots of people who are better than me. If he wants one of them he’s welcome to leave." If he wants me, he knows who I am and what he’s choosing. If he wants someone else, he can move along down the line, and I’ll live my own life without him.

The reason I ask about how your wife sees it is that it helps me a little that my husband sees some/many of his thoughts at that time as unrealistic, self-serving fantasy.

Married for 20 years with two kids when my husband had a six month emotional and physical affair with a coworker. DD1: 6/2020 (soft evidence followed by a month of lies). DD2: 7/3/2020 (hard evidence, truth, started reconciliation journey).

posts: 190   ·   registered: Oct. 30th, 2021
id 8743953
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Seeking2Forgive ( member #78819) posted at 5:39 AM on Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

Originally (almost 20 years ago) I ended up in "umbrella" mode more by default than through any conscious decision. After D-day I was desperate not to lose my wife, first and foremost. It was inconceivable to me that she had done the things she did so I was an easy target for her minimizing and blame-shifting.

I realize now that I had absolutely no support. I had no concept of a "timeline" so as the nagging questions and doubts started overwhelm my ability to sweep it all under the rug I asked them haphazardly on the rare occasions when she felt able to talk about it. This almost always ended up with her breaking down and unable to talk further after just a few terse answers.

Our (really her) therapist advised against probing for details saying, "you know what adults do in the bedroom." I mused on whether that was enough and my WW later said here that I didn't want details for that very reason.

But I never really decided that. I just kind of accepted it because I wasn't getting anywhere and I just wanted things to get back to "normal." So I stopped asking questions and accepted her minimized version of it. I never believed that it was possible for her to really love some guy she met online, anyway. It was easier for me to accept that she had just made a foolish mistake and I didn't want to think about it any more.

That was nearly 20 years ago. Now, as I approach my "golden years" I'm looking forward to retirement and hoping to enjoy the fruits of all our hard work. I've been nostalgic, looking back on all our good memories. And in that process I kept bumping up against that one period in my life that I cannot bear to remember. And trying to ignore it. But I could not shake the feeling that I'm on the cusp of being able to retire in my dream home with the love of my life, the girl I thought would always be true. Only she wasn't. She cheated on me during the most difficult time in my life. And she blamed it on me. And I swallowed all the blame and all the shame that went with that.

It's not that she never took responsibility. She did. She has apologized many times and said that none of it was my fault. But there were two problems with that. First, it left the implication that I was somehow still deficient even if that didn't justify what she did. And second, I never really understood *who* she was at that time. I still couldn't digest the fact that she would ever lie to me. So it wasn't conceivable to me that she would do something so horrible if I wasn't somehow at fault.

While I was still struggling with that, I was cleaning out the basement and came across the notes I took when I was playing detective after D-day. In the clear light of day, almost 20 years later, it was obvious to me that she hadn't been completely honest with me. I had gone back to this delusion that we had lived a shared life for all these years, when I really didn't know what the hell was going on with her for two years or more.

And I realized then that it wasn't acceptable to me. I had signed up to share my whole life exclusively with one person. Old fashioned, I know, but I had been true to that and she had not. And now I found myself with a two plus year gap in my reality where I really didn't know what the fuck was going on in my life.

So I went to the complete opposite extreme. I have a right to know everything that was going on in our lives - and therefore her life - during that time. Everything. If something occurs to me and I decide that I want to know it, I will ask - no matter how fine the detail. And we've been working through that process for nearly a year. Trickle truth after all these years. But we're getting there.

I understand why some people feel like they don't want details. I wasn't sure and in the trauma and fear of losing my marriage I didn't have the courage to push for even a full accounting of the events. I wish I would have done that. Because I think that you really can't fully understand that gravity of what you're trying to forgive until you are faced with the full weight of just how much betrayal and deceit went into it. And I don't think that a WS can fully atone for their actions until they can be fully honest.

Me: 60, BS -- Her: 59, FWS -- Dday: 11/15/03 -- Married 37 yrs -- Reconciled

posts: 419   ·   registered: May. 18th, 2021
id 8744486
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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 9:18 AM on Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

Ddsy2 of affair 2 was a dealbreaker. That was the day I decided I had no choice but to D my H.

I saw their emails during the affair for a period of time. I saw how many times they texted for a period of time. I saw their lengthy phone calls too. Until it went underground.

I was able to piece together many details. Stuff I didn’t need to rely on my H to tell me. Stuff the OW did tell me that turned out to be true that my H planned to take to his grave.

I thought all of this sound be a dealbreaker. But I was able to R with my H. Surprised even me.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 12308   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8744493
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Chaos ( member #61031) posted at 3:37 PM on Friday, July 15th, 2022

As for details - short of watching a real time movie of their LTA [and the underground and the cyberstalking by LTAP] I will never feel I have enough detail.

As for dealbreakers - idealistically any A is a dealbreaker for me. Yet...here I am. And no one is more surprised than me at that decision.

BS-me/WH-4.5yrLTA Married 2+ decades - Children (1 still at home) Multiple DDays w/same AP until I told OBS 2018 Cease & Desist sent spring 2021"Hello–My name is Chaos–You f***ed my husband-Prepare to Die!"

posts: 3490   ·   registered: Oct. 13th, 2017   ·   location: East coast
id 8744883
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