Dear Sigyn - another cheerleader here. I just read through this 13 page thread. Damn, you are navigating this nightmare with strength, honesty and insight! May not feel that way to you as you're living it NOW, but as an outsider looking in I see your resilience. You will survive this and come out the other side wiser, and yes, stronger. Because you have to be the strong one. The safe one. The SANE one. For your kid. You'll do what you need to do to protect yourself because you can't save your child unless you save yourself first.
You've been getting AWESOME support here. Don't have much to add except a couple of caveats. Forgive me if this comes off a bit Cassandra - rather than triaging your immediate situation (which everyone is doing superbly), I'm scouting ahead to suggest some potential pitfalls that may lie in your path as you navigate this bizarro world your partner transported you to. These caveats came to mind as I read your story.
even if he's not a real narcissist or a sex addict the insights still feel like they describe parts of him
The first caveat that jumped out is to be leary of the whole sex addict category. A lot of sexual entitlement gets the label "sex addiction" IMHO. Deceptive sexual behavior, or sexual entitlement, can be a symptom of a number of personality disorders. Think of it this way - deceptive sexuality is a tool in the toolkit or a weapon in the arsenal of a disordered person. It's the disordered person that wields the tool or deploys the weapon. Placing the focus on the tool/weapon rather than the person who used it to achieve a result is misdirection. And PLEASE note there's debate as to whether or not "sex addiction" exists! BluerThanBlue explained this well in another post so I'll cadge from them:
"Also, be very skeptical of applying the "sex addict" label to your husband; it's tempting to accept it because it's much easier to cope with your husband having an illness than it is to deal with the fact that he no morals, doesn't care about anyone but himself, and considers women as objects to be used for his comfort and pleasure.
Even though there are lots of doctors running around with so-called sex addiction therapy certifications, it's not included in the latest edition of psychiatric diagnostic manual (the DSM V), which insurance companies use to determine which mental disorders are legitimate and hence eligible for treatment reimbursement. There is a lot of debate in the psychiatric community about whether sex addiction exists, and if it does, whether it qualifies as its own, distinct disorder or whether it's one of many possible symptoms of other psychiatric conditions and/or personality disorders.
In short, don't get suckered into investing lots of money and faith into dubious sex addiction therapy and treatment programs that are not based on any medical consensus and for which there is very little proof of effectiveness or clinical benefit."
And, if you'll be patient with my theorizing---- it may be more palatable for him to call his behavior a "sex addiction" rather than attempt to understand his motivations. Or even accurately name what he did. Addiction is an illness he can't control. If it's an addiction he's not responsible for his behavior. He's the VICTIM. See how that works? Easy Peasy. So, he'll need "help" to overcome this so called addiction. Which puts the ball in your court, so to speak. And in a twisted way, the cover of being a sex addict may provide ass-backwards image management if the truth comes out to friends, family, and the religious community. If he's outed as a liar, cheat and hypocrite at least the label "sex addict" allows him to hide behind the idea that those behaviors were beyond his control. Maybe even garner some sympathy. Poor guy........he'll need everyone's support and sympathy to conquer his addiction......he wants to be a better man.......and so on.
The second practical caveat that popped into my mind were the downsides to "taking as long as you need" to process your new reality. I don't whole heartedly agree with the "wait 6 months before making any big changes" general advice. Especially in cases like yours. He's cruel, extremely selfish, and unbelievably disrespectful to you. The hypocritical religious front is VERY concerning. Plus he's a thief who stole money from the marriage. Acting sooner rather than later to protect yourself seems prudent. I'm so glad you conferred with a lawyer!
Yes, please do practice self care and give yourself grace. But (here's some more Cassandra musings) - at the same time remember he's a meticulous planner. Easier said than done, I know. Hard to think ahead when the moment to moment reality you're dealing with is consuming every thought. But, he's thinking ahead to how he'll manage his image when the truth comes out. Time allows him space to lay the groundwork for counter narratives - false narratives about you or your marriage. Right now your discretion protects his image. But he's excruciatingly aware he may not be able to rely on your secrecy indefinitely. Do you feel ready to widen your support circle? Getting out in front of false narratives by telling the truth to folks that care about you could put a stop to this common cheater strategy. How about your parents? Your BFF? His parents or siblings? You religious paster/priest/rabbi/leader?
Please include financial safeguards in your self care. It was a rude awakening for me when I realized that it was just possible that a man who lied to my face for two years about an affair may also be capable of stealing from me. No financial infidelity accompanied my husbands betrayal. Lucky me. You already know yours was devious with marital funds. And he's a planner. He stole from the marriage to the tune of $1000.00 per month on top of vacations with APs, gifts to APs, etc. etc. Time may provide additional opportunities to steal from the marriage - hide $$, move $$, spend $$. Please keep an eagle eye on all finances, and separate your finances from his ASAP. Don't let down your financial guard while struggling with the nightmare he created!
I understand your need to slow things down so you can "make good decisions." BUT - Cassandra would like to point out the built in protections when pro-actively filling for D or S. Protecting marital assets by filing is especially important when dealing with a duplicitous (disordered?) partner - like yours. It takes time to go through the steps required for D or S. If you change your mind you can halt the proceedings at any time - if the situation on the ground changes. If you're not yet ready for this step it's totally understandable. Please think about protecting yourself and your child long term. So filing soon is something to put on your radar. To think seriously about. If you're not ready to file maybe discuss financial safeguards available NOW with your lawyer. Taking care of yourself (and your child) must include protecting yourself financially.
My thoughts are with you Sigyn. Hugs to you and your kid.
Edited for clarity.
[This message edited by BoundaryBuilder at 7:15 PM, Tuesday, September 6th]