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Newest Member: Stark

Just Found Out :
H is a complete stranger with a second life.

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NowWhat106 ( member #35497) posted at 9:30 AM on Sunday, September 11th, 2022

First, let me say that most of us are talking from well beyond where you are in this process. Where you are is perfectly "normal" and as we all keep saying, you really are doing amazing. We say it because most of us were not anywhere near as effective as you in refusing to accept the worst of a wayward’s reaction to being caught in the web that they’ve spent a lifetime spinning. So even though we’re telling you what you may not be ready to hear, you really don’t have to make any huge decisions right now, or take any advise you’re not ready for. Some of us (present company included) took years to get as much clarity as you seem to have instinctively. That will serve you well. Have patience with yourself. You’ll get where you need to go.

But it won’t be where you wish or want to go because that doesn’t exist anymore. It will be something new, but, judging from how strong you are, it will be something that is yours and of your choosing. That’s really important after having all your choices and agency taken from you for so long.

As SicTransitGloria asked, what does doing your best to save your marriage mean? Does it mean pretending that he hasn’t done what he has? Helping him snow you again and hide from his own shittiness? Become his rescuing angel by sacrificing yourself?

Your WH was more right than he knew: he DOES need your help. He just doesn’t need the help that he thinks he needs. What you are doing right now is actually the help he needs. If he has ANY hope of ever becoming a real human being instead of maintaining all of the facades that he’s been projecting for a very long time, the ONLY thing that will work is for you not to throw him a life preserver, rugsweep, enable, or otherwise excuse, comfort, or ignore who he really is and what he’s really done. The ONLY thing that will work is for him to take full responsibility for his life, for his issues, for fixing his own shit, and for supporting the people that he’s devastated by not doing that before now.

This is his hard road to walk alone. He may not choose to do so.

Anything less will involve you taking on his burden and trying to fix him. That. Doesn’t. EVER. Work. The love of a good woman doesn’t mend his brokenness. If it did, he’d already be there, right? Because he’s had that all along. It’s not about YOU trying harder to take care of this giant, destructive toddler who refuses to own his shit and grow up. You aren’t his mommy. You clearly don’t have the answer to his problems because again, you’ve been there loving him all along. You loving him harder and trying harder to fix him Will. Not. Help. Anything.

And I can sadly tell you that while you are putting your energy into trying to save him from himself, your son will be learning a lot that you don’t want him to about women’s and men’s roles and responsibilities, how men treat women, how women suck it up and take it. I know this from devastating experience. None of what they learn from a broken, manipulative lying wayward is healthy, well-adjusted behavior.

You know all of this. You’ve been instinctively refusing to take responsibility for his shit and comfort the person who destroyed your marriage and your son’s happy family. You’re just still trying to bargain everyone’s way out of this no-win shit sandwich that he has made for all of you. We’re all so, so, so familiar with where you are right now. It takes so long for your brain to stop running from one horrifying detail to the next.

It takes so long to stop your brain from racing and cycling through possible courses of action that salvage the nuclear devastation of everything that was most sacred and treasured to you. (and honestly, I don’t know if it’s possible to ever stop looking back and trying to figure the solution that salvages your family, your marriage, your dignity, the future that you had planned for yourself and your family, even when you have long since accepted that it isn’t possible).

The worst of this is that it is truly the no-win, no good solution scenario if your WH isn’t ready to COMPLETELY, and I do mean completely, rework his brain and the way he has operated in life. Even is he’s willing, he is obviously amazingly adept at lying to himself and thinking in highly disordered ways about everything. That is something that is almost impossible to fix, and it is completely impossible if the WH doesn’t have complete acceptance and remorse for the heinousness of a million decisions that have led him here.

It is completely impossible if the WH can’t accept complete responsibility for everything that he has done to all of you.

It is completely impossible if he isn’t able to care or even conceive of anyone’s suffering but his own.

It is completely impossible if he doesn’t desperately want to really look at what he’s done and devote his every energy to fixing himself and becoming a safe, actual human being for himself and others.

Has he even shown a glimmer of any of that?

Believe me, I so know what it’s like to look at the person that you’ve completely entrusted with you and your children’s well-being and see a total monstrous stranger. I know very well how disorienting and shattering that is, and how much your brain and your heart fight not to believe that the person you knew is still in there just waiting to be found and help you with the horror that you’re living. And I know that it’s excruciatingly hard when that person becomes a pitiful child of a victim that makes you feel responsible and pushes every compassionate button you have. I know how mean you feel when he cries and wallows in shame and just wants you to take responsibility for making him feel better about himself like all of his AP’s have done too. Remember that: you’ve been one of many whose purpose in life was to make him feel like a good and lovable person.

I say to you from my own sad experience that it’s possible to waste years waiting, hoping, and convincing yourself that he’s "trying" and that it’s really hard but he’s making tiny progress. It’s possible to force yourself to see hopeful signs in gestures that are only manipulations and lies and testing to see what small, meaningless pretense you might accept. It’s possible to be fooled again because you so want to believe.

Years. Your son is living his childhood right now. It will go by much more quickly than you want it too. You have already said it, so I know you know it better than I did: your energy shouldn’t be poured into trying to save someone who won’t fight to help you or to fix himself. Because that would definitely take your best energy away from your son. Please hear me when I say that as bad as it is right now, you can’t imagine how much more he can fuck you over by seeing you shattered and continuing to lie and manipulate and blameshift AFTER he’s done this to you.

You can’t imagine looking at five or six or seven years of your son’s life that you spent thinking you were trying to save something that honestly never really existed. Which marriage would you be fighting to save? The one you believed you had never was, because he has never been the monogamous devoted happy husband that existed in your mind. That marriage, I’m so desperately sorry to say, is gone forever. There is no saving what never really was. Anything that exists going forward would never be that, whatever it might be.

And believe me, I know this because it’s exactly what happened to me. It is still sometimes hard to accept that the foundation that I built 27 years of my life on, that I built my kids’ life on, was a mirage painted by a person that didn’t have any idea how to be a real, authentic person in a real loving and reciprocal relationship and still doesn’t.

The good news is that you don’t have to do anything right now except take care of yourself and your son. And watch. Watch what he does, not what he says. You know that when he talks, he’s probably lying, so stop listening to any of the shit he says. Your listening should be reserved for really listening to yourself right now, and your son. YOur WH NEEDS time on his own right now. What he does with it will help you know what to do from here.

Sending you huge hugs of strength and support. NowWhat

Me BS
Him WS
LTEA with old HS GF from 25+ years ago
DD #1: 10/6/2011
DD #2: 10/21/2011
2DS under18
My marriage didn’t survive but I did

posts: 496   ·   registered: May. 2nd, 2012
id 8754784
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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 1:01 PM on Sunday, September 11th, 2022

NowWhat106 is spot on.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 12542   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8754789
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Cooley2here ( member #62939) posted at 1:53 PM on Sunday, September 11th, 2022

I sent you a pm

When things go wrong, don’t go with them. Elvis

posts: 3500   ·   registered: Mar. 5th, 2018   ·   location: US
id 8754796
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TheEnd ( member #72213) posted at 2:18 PM on Sunday, September 11th, 2022

I don't know what people are seeing when they say I'm doing great because I'm so mired in molasses.

Strength doesn't mean you don't hurt. What you have shown is that despite your pain, you have kept your wits about you enough to do what you can to face reality and protect yourself and your son.

* Your confrontation was direct and careful. You did not disclose what you knew because instinctively you knew he would use that to manipulate you.

* You drew boundaries that moved him away from you (the garage) all while desperately craving to pull him closer

* You've shut down his attempts for sympathy and manipulation despite your extreme vulnerability

* You get up every day and work and care for your son even though you've been devastated by your husband's actions

* You've pulled together a support system for strength and comfort versus running to the one person you really want it from

* You've consulted an attorney to light a possible path for your future. You may not take that path, but you did not let fear stop you from looking at it

* You seek a truth that will no doubt cause more pain. You seek it anyway because the truth is the ONLY healthy path forward

_____

I can't emphasize enough how very, very difficult it is to do what you've done at possibly the lowest point in your life. You of course know it's hard and awful and soul sucking but you don't seem to recognize the strength it takes (took) to take the steps you've taken. Many of us take months if not years to get there.

On to today. He's playing a chess match with you. He has so much to lose right now he's doing what comes easiest for him: hide, lie, manipulate. He's waiting to see if you'll blink first. It's INSANE that this is what it has come to. That your marriage seems to have boiled down to a game of chicken but all WS's are caught animals after confrontation; he is no exception.

So his timeline (good lord really?) was crap. He continues to push for rug sweeping. You can hold your ground and wait him out but that's draining the life from you. And frankly, he is much, much better at this game then you will ever be.

My advice at this point echoes tushnurse. Pull up the draw bridge. Limit conversations to practicalities. If he wants to talk about your marriage, you've made it clear what you want. Until he provides it, there is nothing to discuss.

In the meanwhile, you start living. Spend time with your sister. Get out as much as possible. Take your son to the park or the movies or the mall. Follow up with that attorney and start doing what needs to be done there. You don't have to file, but being ready to file puts you in a position of strength. In other words, use your formidable strength to live each day with love and purpose for yourself and your son.

The longer you stand there staring him down the weaker you will feel. Don't let this stalemate drain your energy. Move forward.

posts: 249   ·   registered: Dec. 3rd, 2019
id 8754804
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jb3199 ( member #27673) posted at 4:58 PM on Sunday, September 11th, 2022

What if I initiate a divorce and a year from now realize that I hadn't even tried to fix things, could I live with that myself? Could I look at my son with confidence that I did everything I could? I read about people going to therapy and recovery retreats after infidelity and I'm so jealous of those people. I want to try to fix my marriage but I have nothing to work with.

What is your definition of fix? Would that be to put in effort to try and reconcile if your husband was to come totally clean.....and want to better himself? I am taking this as a "yes".

What if your husband told you that he is not going to change, or try to change, and you will just have to deal with it? If you were given the option or either this or divorce, then would you prefer divorce? I am also taking this as a "yes".

In the above two scenarios, trying to reconcile or divorcing are "yes" answers. The fact is that you don't know which path you will eventually be on. But you don't have to keep yourself stuck in the molasses. Right now, the path to either is the same one....defining clear boundaries, protection of your child, protection of assets, protection for yourself.....

The path right now is the path out of infidelity. You move AWAY from the marriage if you aren't given significant reasons to work toward the marriage. You've stated your boundaries and demands, and to this point, he hasn't obliged. So no, you don't want to keep waiting for him to give you what you need. You move in the opposite direction. I know that you had an initial consult with an attorney, but were all of your questions answered? Is that 'to do' list getting completed? Are you confident in this attorney, or do you think that you would like other consults? Have you considered giving a retainer, so that preliminary work can be done?

These are all things that get you further away from the epicenter. It's still painful, but not as painful as feeling that you are stuck, waiting for your 'old' husband to return. You can't fix anything as it pertains to him or the marriage. What you can do, is show him that you will not accept 'less-than' from him or yourself, and divorce is a far better option than the current situation. He can know that you would consider the possibility of reconciliation, but not without your boundaries being met....the main one being total honesty. Until then, divorce is the better overall outcome.

BH-50s
WW-50s
2 boys
Married almost 30yrs.

All work and no play has just cost me my wife--Gary Puckett
D-Day(s): Enough
Accepting that I can/may end this marriage 7/2/14

posts: 4093   ·   registered: Feb. 21st, 2010   ·   location: northeast
id 8754820
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truthsetmefree ( member #7168) posted at 5:45 PM on Sunday, September 11th, 2022

If you are at the point of consulting an attorney then I think it’s beneficial to see several of them. With each consult I got more information and a little more clarity. That was VERY empowering. It also took the initial focus from actually retaining an attorney - ie, pulling the D trigger - and became about information gathering. As a by-product, when it came to actually filing, I had also found the attorney that was going to be the best fit for me AND my own personal situation. We also had the marital dissolution agreement set (almost two years of work)before I actually filed - so I was 30 days from actual filing to completion.

Divorce is typically a long process. There’s plenty of time in it to pull the reins back if you start to see some changes. It also can have the added benefit of encouraging those kinds of changes when a WS sees that you really are serious. (But I do have to say, based on what you’ve described here, I don’t know that your WS is even capable of genuine change. I see staying with him as being a constant state of setting and enforcing boundaries. I also suspect that you will later see resistance to having boundaries set on him manifest in other ways.)

You’re in a good place to negotiate with your WH right now. If he’s genuinely remorseful, he should be agreeable to most of what you feel you need. That says a lot. But if he becomes combative, that also says even more about the decision you will likely one day be facing. You can spend a lot of time waiting…and the reason so many of us have regrets for not filing sooner is because we realize in hindsight that the answer was clear all along. We don’t regret trying to save our marriage…we regret the time spent when it is all now so obvious in hindsight. In that, we feel we betrayed ourselves - and that is really the hardest thing to accept.

Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are. ~ Augustine of Hippo

posts: 8913   ·   registered: May. 18th, 2005
id 8754822
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whatisloveanyway ( member #66450) posted at 3:55 PM on Monday, September 12th, 2022

How do other people deal with this???? When do the scales ever balance?


I've been writing and deleting responses to your last posts and am not sure what I to add beyond the really great advice you have been given so far, other than a look at one possible outcome. I can tell you that as a BS who stayed with a WS with responses very similar to yours, that there is no happy resolved endpoint, dealing with this is a daily struggle and the scales don't balance, which leads to so much pent up pain and resentment downstream.

I was counselled to take my time making a decision about whether to stay in my marriage, but in the early disclosure phases, and the A taken underground with me remaining clueless, I was operating on an instinctive and primal urge to reclaim my husband and save my marriage. I saw the MOW as my threat, and it has taken me several years of paying attention to him and how he has handled the entire situation to understand that the threat is not other people, but the man I chose to stay with after betrayal. I am still trying to understand who he is and how he operates, and the same confusing behaviors he used to gaslight and manipulate me during the affair are still parts of who he is and how he operates in the post-affair years. If you are second guessing yourself about staying and fighting for this relationship, let me caution you that it is a slow, soul sucking experience to try and rebuild anything with a compartmentalizing rug sweeping minimizing relationship and emotion impaired person. I believe my WH is sorry for what he has done, in that he regrets the mess that resulted, but I don't believe he is sorry for being selfish, or for the choices he has made, only for the fallout of getting caught. The same broken personality traits that let him do any of the awful things he did in the affair, and the aftermath, are still the same traits he brings to reconciliation. I can't make him learn, care, change, or do much of anything that can help me through this with less pain. My attempts to discuss what happened and to reach him at a level I need to feel safe result in arguments that break me down a little more each time.

Some of our problems are personality based, and FOO tainted, but the recurring problem for us is that any talk of the A itself or the actions he took make him feel bad, and trigger parental judgement and he comes out angry every time, when I need compassion and understanding the most. To him, this isn't about me or us, but about how it makes him feel. He is very skilled at redirection, twisting the argument into a focus on the minutia and not the real issues, deflections, accusations, insults and the worst, silence. I can spend a day in a funk over something dismissive or hurtful he says when I crack and ask for reassurance and he will ignore me for hours, admitting he knows I am upset, it is written all over my face, and when asked why he can't comfort me, he gives the same response every time: nothing I do seems to work so I don't try. My translation is that this is hard and he doesn't want to try when it just makes him feel uncomfortable. His comfort is more important than mine.

My inability to heal and move forward in rebuilding a marriage worth having, in my analysis, is because I have a WH who will not or can not work through any of the issues we face in a healthy, honest or productive way, and I can't pretend things are great. In the analysis of my WH, my inability to heal is because I have an overactive brain, an inability to choose to be happy and just accept that I can trust him because he says I can, and a refusal to believe him when he says he can't remember much of anything about a nine year secret life. Oh, and also because I like to harp on the past instead of focusing on the future. I get a canned version of a handful of responses no matter what the discussion, and if I point out an inconsistency in something he has told me, he either shuts down or gets angry. There is no resolution, all he can offer is the same three words over and over: I love you. Hence my screen name. If I were loved, wouldn't I be worth more effort to help me through this nightmare? After everything I have endured in the past five years, trying to understand the decade of lies that came before them, I know that a remorseful man who wanted to keep what we have built together would have given our recovery more time and effort than mine has managed. He said I am the one who won't choose to be happy and if our marriage fails, it will be me giving up, not him. It is a brilliant tactic, making my lack of progress my fault, but I have assured him it is his lack of work and not mine that has left us here. In his mind, his presence here is his proof that he is a changed man, and it doesn't help me one bit to assimilate the disparate realities and personalities I have uncovered since DDay1. I just see so many similarities in their early behaviors and responses that I am afraid you and I are bonded to similar personality types, and I envision your future, should you try to save your M, not much different from mine now. I am still unmoored, still hurting, still trying to patch together something worth keeping and I am so very tired. The common wisdom here is that the BS must heal themselves, but trying to do that while also trying to stay in the marriage is like putting a bandaid over a splinter without removing it first.

We tell you that you are strong because you have your wits about you and are focused on the facts, refusing to be manipulated by a WH trying to save his ass. You have spared yourself untold amounts of pain and reality shifting by standing strong in what you know and getting distance between you while you set some boundaries. You will not look back in five years asking yourself how you could be so stupid that you let him continue to lie and gaslight you. You are already so far ahead of the game I find myself playing now that I envy the chance to have done it differently.

I have struggled with what to say to you now, because it is painful to admit. My advice is to walk away, save yourself and focus on your child and your career. I was pretty triggered by the comment from MegMeg, because of the horrible relationship my WH had with our teenagers, when I didn't know my marriage was a triangle. I used to think the parenting stress was due to our different upbringing, with very different types of parents, but I can see now with clarity that he couldn't handle parenting teenagers because he was acting like one himself. I think he is stuck in his teen years still, 50 years later. It was awful and the parenting disagreements were many, and I was made to feel like I was spoiling, ruining or coddling them, when I was really protecting them emotionally and psychologically from a stern and judgmental father who resented us at every turn, and couldn't wait to escape to his fantasy relationship to commiserate about unloving spouses and ungrateful kids. I think your WH's narcissism, lack of empathy and emotional immaturity could be very damaging to your son, and he's barely at the mid-life crisis part of the program, and your sweet boy is not yet at the stressful teen years. What I wouldn't give to have found out about the A when it started so I could have taken the moral high ground and advocated for our children from a position of strength, not passivity or apology. I was right, about almost everything, but his self assured alpha male approach made me doubt myself over and over. Then and now.

Now, five years downstream, he tries that same alpha shit with me over the A recovery and my approach to my healing and I am not having it, I put up with nothing and it is not going well, not by a long shot. It turns out I can work to grow and change my nature but he cannot. If you choose to try to repair your marriage now, in the midst of all this insanity, I predict you will sacrifice greatly and gain little in return, other than the charade of a nuclear family. If your WH is capable of change, hard work and redemption, let him go do that and come back to you when he is worthy of another chance. Otherwise, I would encourage you to continue to save yourself, and your son, and spare yourself the extra heartache and stress of trying to rebuild something you did not break with someone who is happy stepping over the rubble and frustrated you keep pointing out that things are in pieces.

I hope you are practicing all the self care you can manage, that your job and your son, your sister and your friends bring you joy and continue to give you touchstones to help through the maze your WH has dumped you inside. Btw, I kept a worry stone in my pocket for years, and still use them as a distraction for my weary brain on stressful days. Use whatever you can find to help soothe yourself, and don't underestimate the physical effects of the emotional turmoil. Take care and best of luck to you reclaiming the life you deserve.

BW: 62 WH: 62 Both 57 on Dday, M 35 years, 2 grown kids. WH had 9 year A with MOW, 7 month false R, multiple DDays, years of trickle truth.
I got rid of her with one email. Reconciling, but the lies have piled up. Trying one more time, again.

posts: 436   ·   registered: Oct. 9th, 2018   ·   location: Southeastern USA
id 8754935
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NowWhat106 ( member #35497) posted at 5:00 PM on Monday, September 12th, 2022

Ohhhh. . .WhatIsLoveAnyway. . .yes. Exactly. I could have written your post almost word for word. Especially:

" My translation is that this is hard and he doesn't want to try when it just makes him feel uncomfortable. His comfort is more important than mine."

Eleven years later, this is still as true as it ever was. His comfort and protecting his secrets will always be the first priority. Yet, he believes that the problem is my inability to move on.

I’m sorry so many of us are living this and understand it so intimately. Signy, I’m so sorry that you are in the first stages of this nightmare.

I hope that everyone is finding some small peace and joy today.

Who are these dysfunctional people who can hurt their families so profoundly and remain so convinced that they are the true victims?

Me BS
Him WS
LTEA with old HS GF from 25+ years ago
DD #1: 10/6/2011
DD #2: 10/21/2011
2DS under18
My marriage didn’t survive but I did

posts: 496   ·   registered: May. 2nd, 2012
id 8754941
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Belle25 ( new member #63676) posted at 5:07 PM on Monday, September 12th, 2022

Obviously you're getting fantastic advice, and you're taking it all to heart. I only have two things to add right now:

1. Your husband was really really happy with his life. He bragged about it online. He counseled others in how to achieve it. He was honest that he had a happy marriage, he just wanted more. He would have happily done this probably for the rest of your life together. There was no remorse, no introspection on why he was doing this. After you get caught is too late for these things, esp since he was clearly in no kind of denial about what he was doing. I, personally, do not believe people like this can, or even want to, change. I believe he will behave for a while, and then will start small things back to a slippery slope of full blown betrayal behavior. I could be wrong. I would be surprised if I was.

2. I stayed with my cheater after the first time. I desperately want to "fix" my family and keep us together for my kids' sake. Three years later I finally threw in the towel and left. I can say that my biggest regret is those three years I wasted trying to save the marriage, when deep down I knew in my gut that it was over. Three years later, my kids were older and it was MUCH harder on them than it would have been if I had done it earlier. I will always feel guilt for that. So there are definitely two sides to that coin.

posts: 47   ·   registered: May. 3rd, 2018
id 8754944
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VezfromTaz ( new member #80815) posted at 6:03 PM on Monday, September 12th, 2022

I'm interested in the concept of betrayal blindness (Dr Jennifer Freyd), particularly in the DV space where victims are often asked why they dont leave, and are often shamed (by themselves, friends, the community) for not doing so. Betrayal blindness provides a possible explanation about why we have difficulty seeing or accepting what is right in front of our eyes ~ ie that a person to whom we are attached is a threat to our safety (physical or emotional). To accept that truth may be psychologically catastrophic so it's often a matter of self preservation. Perhaps that's part of why the grey rock/no contact methods help the betrayed party too ~ because it provides times and space to consolidate and strengthen one's attachments to other important trusted people, whilst over time weakening the attachment to the person who has inflicted so much pain.

posts: 40   ·   registered: Sep. 1st, 2022
id 8754950
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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 6:18 PM on Monday, September 12th, 2022

I’m not dating you should D or R. Only you can decide that. But here is what I can tell you based on my experience.

My H had his 1st EA that lasted 4 years. Lied about it. Stonewalled me. I knew it was going on. I wasn’t fooled. But he refused to admit anything.

That affair finally ended and it was swept under the rug.

Then 15 years later he had a typical mid life crisis affair. Except this time he wants a D. His unhappiness is all my fault. He blames me for everything. I was committed to R. I did all the work and he continued to cheat.

Except on dday2 I was better prepared. I finally had enough and told him I was D him!!! I had my plan B / exit strategy in hand and it was time for me to execute.

This time around my H showed remorse. He was truly sorry. He started making changes on his own. There was a huge difference from the end of the first affair to the end of the second affair. The end of the first Affair he believed he did nothing wrong b/c there was no sex.

You cannot fix a marriage on your own.

You cannot make someone monogamous who doesn’t want to be monogamous.

You cannot fix someone who refuses to change.

You cannot have a truly happy marriage if the other half won’t admit there are things that need to be addressed. It’s not a one sided proposition.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 12542   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8754952
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 Sigyn (original poster member #80576) posted at 1:29 AM on Tuesday, September 13th, 2022

I've been limiting the amount of time spent on infidelity related things at work but always open this thread when I get home and some mental clarity, and I'm overwhelmed by all of your posts every single time.

I honestly think all of you are better than therapy, you see this all so clearly and while I'm reading your words it's like the tangle of emotions and contradictory thoughts I have are temporarily combed through into straight lines. I wish I could keep that clarity inside me when I wasn't directly reading here. I can't tell you how much your clearheadedness feels like a life ring thrown to me keeping my head above water.

I've been thinking a lot about what 'saving my marriage' would even look like. Because there are moments of weakness when I think I don't even care what it would look like, it would still be my marriage even with huge issues and ugliness. I know that living that reality would be awful, but my mind just keeps saying 'but at least there would be a chance...' And then I read what you all are seeing from the outside and I realize that my H would actually have to participate in that marriage, in resolving those 'huge issues and ugliness', and in fact should be the one leading the charge to repair it. And he's not only not showing any signs of doing that, but he's actively making it worse right now while also asking me to help him avoid fixing it. We aren't a team right now and as much as I think I might be able to singlehandedly build a structure for a new marriage for us with a lot of hard work, he might then actively remove screws and boards from the structure I'm building to sneak out and build a clubhouse in the woods for himself, instead. I want my emotions to catch up to this logic but every day my emotions feel different than the day before. It's crazy making.

If he has ANY hope of ever becoming a real human being instead of maintaining all of the facades that he’s been projecting for a very long time, the ONLY thing that will work is for you not to throw him a life preserver, rugsweep, enable, or otherwise excuse, comfort, or ignore who he really is and what he’s really done. The ONLY thing that will work is for him to take full responsibility for his life, for his issues, for fixing his own shit, and for supporting the people that he’s devastated by not doing that before now.

This hit me so hard. It's true and also terrible. I always think of marriage as 50/50 and it's hard to understand that my marriage has never been that. And I'm thinking how I can fix this as if it's 100% on me to fix, when I didn't do this and actually therefore can't fix it. Maybe I'm just trying to imagine myself like I'm a hero who has control over this and I'm not. I can't even get H to admit he spent money on escorts.


I know very well how disorienting and shattering that is, and how much your brain and your heart fight not to believe that the person you knew is still in there just waiting to be found and help you with the horror that you’re living. And I know that it’s excruciatingly hard when that person becomes a pitiful child of a victim that makes you feel responsible and pushes every compassionate button you have. I know how mean you feel when he cries and wallows in shame and just wants you to take responsibility for making him feel better about himself like all of his AP’s have done too. Remember that: you’ve been one of many whose purpose in life was to make him feel like a good and lovable person.

This also hit me so hard. Actually your whole post did. It's painful to read because it hits so close to home. I admit I have hoped beyond hope that my real husband is in there and the right words will snap him out of it to help me fix this. And I know that my real husband was the man bragging on cheating websites, telling women that he was not monogamous at heart and never has been. What I thought was my real husband would be here now, fixing things. The man in the garage is currently watching TV, from what I can see out the back window. Not working on his timeline. He will never give me a real timeline, will he.

I really want to respond to more because so many things struck me in everyone's post, but for now I'll just update that the attorney I saw in person told me that in order from best to worst, fixing the marriage if at all possible is safest, arriving at a mutually agreed upon and civil divorce in which we focus on our son is the next safest, and then a contested or ugly divorce and custody battle is the worst case scenario. I liked him for saying that and thought I'd stick with him if I wanted to move forward. But I put on my list consulting with two more attorneys, just in case. And I did do all of the to-do list things the attorney gave me. I like having a list and going through it, I'm essentially willing to do anything that makes me feel like I have any control over my life whatsoever. I am currently living by bullet points and to-do lists...

I can't emphasize enough how very, very difficult it is to do what you've done at possibly the lowest point in your life. You of course know it's hard and awful and soul sucking but you don't seem to recognize the strength it takes (took) to take the steps you've taken. Many of us take months if not years to get there.

Also just want to say this made me cry. I feel like I'm on an island with the rest of the world a mile away but if I can ever look back and think I did any part of this right it will a) be a miracle and b) feel like a total blessing. So thanks for saying that, sincerely.

posts: 55   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2022
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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 2:47 PM on Tuesday, September 13th, 2022

The man in the garage is currently watching TV, from what I can see out the back window. Not working on his timeline. He will never give me a real timeline, will he.

Watching TV could very well be the least of it. It's quite likely that while you see the flickering blue light of the television through the window, his cell phone is in his hand and he's texting or surfing some porn or escort site. If he won't even admit to you what he has done, he's NOT SORRY for doing it, not truly. And without remorse, why would he ever stop?

I think you're very wise to follow up with several attorneys and get as much information as you can. The reality of your situation is that your WH's behavior wasn't an aberration. He was always this guy. He didn't have some kind of mid-life meltdown or panic attack which caused him to throw his values to the four winds. Those values have never been there. And because he's still jerking you around with the "who, me? what hooker?" routine, there's no reason to believe he's interested in making any kind of real or meaningful change.

I'm NOT saying that you don't have time or choices left, not at all. I do think you need to be realistic though and I applaud you for following through with your list. Watch what he does. You already know that he frequents cheating websites, so he has an established history of researching ways to manipulate and control. Actions don't lie though. A cheater's willingness to change becomes visible through their actions. Words might mean anything, but actions (and TIME) tell the story.


((hugs))

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

No one can make you into a liar but you.

posts: 5967   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
id 8755029
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ThisIsSoLonely ( member #64418) posted at 5:52 PM on Tuesday, September 13th, 2022

ALL OF WHAT NOWWHAT106 said - every LAST word of it, but especially especially this:

Please hear me when I say that as bad as it is right now, you can’t imagine how much more he can fuck you over by seeing you shattered and continuing to lie and manipulate and blameshift AFTER he’s done this to you.

The continued betrayal harmed me 1000 times more than the initial affair. The false R was devastating to me - to my persona - because at least with the A being hidden my WH could pretend and otherwise ignore the hurt it would cause - with false R he knew it/saw it with his own eyes and did it anyway. (I define false R as an the affair never stopping or restarting it or some form of continued cheating - not just failing to tell you everything or trickle truthing you as that is a given with almost every WS). False R is like someone holding your hand while knifing you in the back AND telling you that you really aren't being stabbed at all and complaining that you keep crying out in pain when they are the one actually stabbing you in that moment. It's mind-fuckery at its absolute worst.

I saw the MOW as my threat, and it has taken me several years of paying attention to him and how he has handled the entire situation to understand that the threat is not other people, but the man I chose to stay with after betrayal. I am still trying to understand who he is and how he operates, and the same confusing behaviors he used to gaslight and manipulate me during the affair are still parts of who he is and how he operates in the post-affair years. If you are second guessing yourself about staying and fighting for this relationship, let me caution you that it is a slow, soul sucking experience to try and rebuild anything with a compartmentalizing rug sweeping minimizing relationship and emotion impaired person. I believe my WH is sorry for what he has done, in that he regrets the mess that resulted, but I don't believe he is sorry for being selfish, or for the choices he has made, only for the fallout of getting caught. The same broken personality traits that let him do any of the awful things he did in the affair, and the aftermath, are still the same traits he brings to reconciliation. I can't make him learn, care, change, or do much of anything that can help me through this with less pain. My attempts to discuss what happened and to reach him at a level I need to feel safe result in arguments that break me down a little more each time.

The quote above is also accurate for my experience - so many of them are the same ***sigh*** I am so sorry your WS sounds a lot like mine (who after 5 years of accepting that he is a mental disaster still struggles with empathy, still struggles with talking about his feelings as opposed to clamming up and stonewalling - even about non-affair related things, and is still a very moody and difficult person (actually even more so now as he is not withholding his feelings as much as he used to be)). My WH and I are not in "R" although we still talk and even "date" from time to time and we have worked through the A as much as I care to - but I will never feel the same about him - ever, which is why dating is as far as I can ever go with him. When I get into a position that I want someone more permanent (if that ever happens) he will not be my choice as the person he is, even with all the work he has done, is not the long term partner for me. I guess in that perspective he was right to "hide" his true self from me as I doubt I would have been interested in him being a long term partner as he simply does not really care deeply about the things that I do and he is very moody and depressed and has a lot of issues that when hidden were horrible for me but out in the open are just - ugh - IDK - too much for me? Maybe I would have fallen for him anyway back then but who knows.

What I do know is at your stage in the process I could not imagine that I would feel the way I do about him today. I still loved him - the him I thought I knew - and the life I thought I had. Once I was able to let that go and look at the person and the life I actually had, without the shadow of the myth that was our whole relationship, I didn't want to stay. I think you will end up getting to that same place too if your WH persists in this behavior as you seem to be moving in the right direction (for you) much faster than most. Keep focusing on yourself and the people in your life that are real - it will help you see your WH for who he really is and if you even want to try to go forward with him. I am NOT a proponent of staying for the kids (a child of a divorce myself - my parents did me and my sister a massive favor by divorcing when we were relatively young - 2 and 7 instead of staying on in misery). Stay for your child ONLY if your WH seems to be doing what needs to be done. Again as everyone has said - I am so sorry you are here.

[This message edited by ThisIsSoLonely at 5:58 PM, Tuesday, September 13th]

"Sometimes you're going to have to let one person go a thousand different times, a thousand different ways, and there’s nothing pathetic or abnormal about that. You are human." - Heidi Priebe

posts: 1888   ·   registered: Jul. 11th, 2018
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 Sigyn (original poster member #80576) posted at 1:46 AM on Wednesday, September 14th, 2022

What I do know is at your stage in the process I could not imagine that I would feel the way I do about him today. I still loved him - the him I thought I knew - and the life I thought I had. Once I was able to let that go and look at the person and the life I actually had, without the shadow of the myth that was our whole relationship, I didn't want to stay.

How long did it take you to let that go? It feels like letting go of an entire 17 year marriage is impossible but then I also feel like there's this black box in front of me when I try to think of what even the next month will look like. Something has to give.

We both had the morning off work and scheduled a talk. I think H thought I wanted to talk about his timeline again and I could see he was geared up for whatever he was expecting from me and I found myself telling him I think we should talk about the possibility of divorce instead. I think I wanted to shock him, give him a reason to take me seriously and to give him something to lose. He doesn't seem to think that there's more than his image to lose, or his secrets, or his comfy house and bed. I realized there has been no talk at all about ME. What about me and my feelings, needs, fears - what about losing me?? We're so focused on him (and I'm so focused on his other women) that it's like I'm invisible. I just wanted him to see me, acknowledge that I'm 50% of the marriage.

Instead he turned into this conciliatory yes-man who agreed with everything I said - at first - and then tried to bend everything I said to his plan instead. So at first he was like 'yes, let's talk about divorce, and the impact that would have on all of our lives, let's examine this, I can see why you think divorce is on the table, it's understandable, I might think the same thing in your shoes, you definitely deserve to think this way.' I don't know if those were his exact words but that was the way he was talking. Positive, agreement, reflecting what I said. And then as the conversation progressed he said something like 'let's think about this over the next 6 months, and really examine the ramifications to ourselves, our son, our families, our friends' and then he suggested we see a marriage counselor. He said everything I wanted to hear and I walked away from our talk feeling the first relief I've felt in a month. The attorney I saw specifically said that fixing the marriage or an amicable divorce are our goals, and when he mentioned a marriage counselor that's where my mind went.

But then I had a debrief with my sister after, and she pointed out that he admitted nothing, took responsibility for nothing, apologized for nothing and essentially just took control of the divorce narrative. I honestly didn't see anything like that in the moment and now I feel like a smear on the sidewalk. He didn't give me ANYTHING. I was feeling so empowered this morning by mentioning divorce, thinking it would shock him as it did the first night. But maybe he wasn't shocked at all and anticipated this. I'm not a schemer. I can't communicate with an agenda that isn't something that's coming from inside me. I haven't been invested in living a life that has one foot in my marriage and another in a different world, so whatever, I don't have the deception and manipulation skills he seems to have. Why does that somehow put me on the bottom?

posts: 55   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2022
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Solarchick ( member #80222) posted at 1:46 AM on Wednesday, September 14th, 2022

I admit I have hoped beyond hope that my real husband is in there and the right words will snap him out of it to help me fix this.

Oh honey, I did this for so long. I was sure that the man I thought I was married to was in there somewhere. After all, this horrible monster looked just like that nice guy that I married! But the guy I thought I married never existed. He sold me a bill of goods just like he did all of the women he cheated on me with. And everybody thought he was SUCH a nice guy. They were shocked when I told them I was divorcing him.

But 15+ years out of it, I have resolved it in my head and my heart that the guy he showed me never existed. I check up on him every couple of years (because I don't trust that he isn't still using my name and SSN to pull further financial tom-foolery) and guess what? He's still pulling the same financial shit that he did when we were married. And he did it so that he could lavish expensive gifts on women he was or was trying to sleep with. He did this instead of paying the mortgage, which cost me and my children our home.

The last time I checked the court records, he had just paid off a $4,000 settlement to Kohl's department stores, of all places. It looks like he is still affairing down. Really? Kohls? His last case settled in July of this year.

Now I perceive him as broken and pathetic, which is really what he is. He lies to his second wife (the one he left me for). He's been cheating on her since before he married her. He tried to hide the fact that I divorced him from her, so she couldn't pressure him into marriage. Wow, she got one hell of a prize, didn't she?

And I now know that he didn't treat me any better than he treats her. He truly is despicable, and although it took me so long to see it, I do now, and I know, absolutely know, that I made the right decision.

You'll get there. It takes time and space and healing to get objectivity.

You're doing great. Really great. (Repeat that to yourself like a million times until it sinks in and rings true for you.) I keep coming back for updates on your story, because you're like a freakin' Avenger over there. Seriously, you're a hero to me.

I know this is the least fun thing you've ever had to do. But you're doing it. Just keep on keepin on, and it WILL get better. One day, you'll look at what you've built for yourself and your son, and you may even be damn proud of yourself.

Me: BW, 56, two awesome grown sons. Remarried in 2010. That lasted 11 years.WXH: Not even a blip on my radar anymore. I'm glad he's messing up the OW's life now and leaving me alone. D (with cause) in 2004.

posts: 92   ·   registered: Apr. 11th, 2022   ·   location: Hilton Head, SC
id 8755158
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 Sigyn (original poster member #80576) posted at 1:48 AM on Wednesday, September 14th, 2022

Also I need to stop drinking wine at night, I don't know how else to loosen the bands around my chest. Sorry if this is all discombobulated.

posts: 55   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2022
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BearlyBreathing ( member #55075) posted at 2:11 AM on Wednesday, September 14th, 2022

You’ve gotten amazing advice (and NW106’s post should be framed for every BS to read).
But I gotta support drinking less less wine. I used drinking (mostly wine - I live in wine country) and it did not help me, as much as I thought I needed it.
And before I knew it, I was drinking far more than I should and had to really work to stop.

You need a clear head and as much good sleep as you can get. Wine doesn’t really help there. So be careful. Set limits or stop all together.
Try exercise or something else to help— yoga, meditation, singing loudly in your car… whatever works for you.

Oh, and when you consult with other lawyers, go for the sharks. Your WS is delusional enough that he might get nasty if you end up D, and you want to be sure he can’t use those lawyers.

Hang in there. You really are doing great.

Me: BS 55 (49 on d-day)Him: WH. 64. D-Day 8/15/2016 LTA. Kinda liking my new life :-)

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

posts: 4987   ·   registered: Sep. 10th, 2016   ·   location: Northern CA
id 8755163
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whatisloveanyway ( member #66450) posted at 2:36 AM on Wednesday, September 14th, 2022

Sigyn, sorry this is so stressful. I have to caution you that marriage counseling with a manipulative spouse is a waste of your time and the MC’s. Until your WH can even be honest about what he has done and what you know to be true, MC will be more rugsweeping. My IC agreed to see us both at my request, and was befuddled by my WH’s focus on getting me over this, with no work on unpacking his actions and the fallout. That’s because there were still many undivulged secrets, and squirming on a couch feeling uncomfortable turned my WH into almost a hostile witness. I had a little voice telling me things felt off, and I kept digging and found the truth of the underground affair during our reconciliation, so I stopped MC and went for further IC to help me process all the shock and trauma. My WH was no longer actively cheating, just actively lying, manipulating and trying to move forward without doing any hard work.

I think you can’t work on your marriage until your WH works on his deceit and his lack of empathy for you. From your description, it sounds like he saw a window to steer the narrative and get some damage control going. And yes, WTH about YOU?? Why isn’t he talking about you, what this has done to you, what you need, what he has to do to keep you…. That is the question. Why is he still playing games with your heart and your head? He should be on his knees, looking you in the eye begging forgiveness and patience and offering you comfort. What does he need six moths for? What does he plan to do in that time to become a safe partner? Maybe it is time for you to give him the ultimatum to start talking, tell all the truth and nothing but the truth or you proceed to file for divorce. Once he finds a way to honesty with you and admits to himself and to you who you are married to, then maybe MC might help with the basics of communication and establishing trust. Whatever you do, don’t let him rush you to the resolution that works best for him, it needs to work for you too, and you are due way more than he is offering.

Don’t worry too much about the wine as a short term coping tool, but keep an honest eye on yourself. Too much wine, especially if there are emotionally charged conversations, can really muck things up, and most of us can attest that in the long run alcohol will hurt more than help. I find myself more emotional and confused the more I drink. Try to drink a glass of water in between each glass of wine, and don’t judge yourself. This is hard, hard life stuff. Hang in there, and keep your eye on the prize, which it the type of life and relationship you deserve, not the consolation he is offering. It’s hard to realize what you are worth and to fight for it. Stay strong and take care.

BW: 62 WH: 62 Both 57 on Dday, M 35 years, 2 grown kids. WH had 9 year A with MOW, 7 month false R, multiple DDays, years of trickle truth.
I got rid of her with one email. Reconciling, but the lies have piled up. Trying one more time, again.

posts: 436   ·   registered: Oct. 9th, 2018   ·   location: Southeastern USA
id 8755169
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VezfromTaz ( new member #80815) posted at 4:22 AM on Wednesday, September 14th, 2022

The invisibility comment - unfortunately to him you are invisible, otherwise how could he leave the house and act like you dont exist. My mother sent me a farcical video of a chap who moved his AP into the home whilst his wife wandered around in the background like a ghost. Whenever the wife spoke, the husband and AP acted like they couldnt hear her and she wasnt there, until eventually the wife wondered if she did, in fact, exist. It was a silly video, but made a good point (off topic my ex moved a few things into the house which belonged to his AP- I dont know if he had mentally moved her into the house as part of his fantasy world, or if it was just for thrills, to see if I might catch on. I wonder if they all bring trinkets or reminders of their conquests into the family home).

Also, on the alcohol - I found the red wine, which I did previously enjoy, made the anxiety worse the next day, even half a glass. I do understand now what the phrase "drive someone to drink" actually means, because I never really drank before. Again, if the anxiety is really bad probably better to see a medical professional about medication (I had Temazepam for a couple of weeks post D-Day but was concerned about long term use so was prescribed Propranolol, which admittedly did nothing but it was there if I needed it). It took me one year for that feeling to go away - one day I woke up and it had gone. I found jogging good for the breathing as well, because I had to take deep breaths.

Edited to say:
One thing I've learnt (from my own experience and work with DV victims) is that controlling people feel entitled to have the last say on everything, including if and when a relationship ends. I realised that I had divested myself of the power to end my marriage at some stage along the way It was really challenging for me to accept that the power rested within me to end the relationship whether my ex liked it or not. I believe ex knew that, and, secure in that knowledge did whatever the hell he wanted believing that I would never leave.

[This message edited by VezfromTaz at 10:24 AM, Wednesday, September 14th]

posts: 40   ·   registered: Sep. 1st, 2022
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