I’m glad if anything I’ve said is . . .useful. I won’t say helpful. I hate so much that I know any of the things that I’ve learned from this devastation, and I hate that any of us need to become vigilant, closed and suspicious of the person that we thought we could trust with everything.
So, that happened today. Please, please don’t beat yourself up or feel stupid. This was your first interaction where he tried putting back on a face that resembles the reasonable, caring person you thought he was, and. . .you wanted to see that mask so much. However, it’s really, really important that you recognize what he just did or he will know that he is going to be able to manipulate and control you again, and he will become very, very dangerous to your sense of yourself, your ability to trust yourself, and your sanity. That’s not an exaggeration. If anything, it’s an understatement.
First, let me say that this kind of thing happened to me over and over and over. I think I mentioned that before. I let myself be convinced that he was really trying. That it was super hard for him. Because he had SO much to change to become a decent person. And not lying is so hard. I just couldn’t understand how hard it was for him. My WH PREYED on my hope that I was indeed seeing bits and pieces of change.
But that. Was. A. Lie. He was never really trying at anything except learning how to put on the face that would shut me up, put me off, and get me to do what he wanted—mainly that I stop bringing up the things that he was ashamed of, get over it, move on, and NEVER ever expect him to really face what he’d done. I let him divert from the topic of him and his behavior to my behavior or some excuse or a tangential topic or ANYTHING but focusing on his fuckedupedness and how he wasn’t willing to look at it. He was so earnest. So hurt. So indignant. So angry. So defensive. So whatever he needed to divert attention from himself and his actions. He turned things on me and suddenly we were talking about my behavior or my "inability" to heal and move on or any fucking thing but him.
I did what you did today: I analyzed and figured out what he’d done after the fact. I felt dumb. I rethought how the conversation should have gone. But as I said to one counselor, when you are a person that thinks of language as a tool to express your actual thoughts, feelings, emotions, wants, needs, and you are communicating with someone who uses language to create a facade, to manipulate, to get things done, to achieve what he wants, there is no equal or common ground to work from. There is no way to have an honest exchange in those circumstances. I was trying to get him to see me and my pain and the results of what he’d done, and he was too busy trying to spin and work to make me believe what he wanted me to believe about MY OWN PAIN AND EXPERIENCE. He has actually told me that I don’t actually feel what I feel. There is simply no way to always be prepared for what new mind fuck he’s going to employ when your mind just doesn’t work like that.
So let me point out that while you’ve been agonizing in pain over the loss of your marriage and your husband and your life and your stability and your son’s stability, THIS is what he’s been doing (besides watching TV). He’s been trying to figure out how to get the upper hand again, how to get back in control and manipulate you. He hasn’t been worried about you and if you’re okay. He hasn’t been agonizing over how this will hurt his son and whether or not his actions will permanently affect him. He hasn’t been asking himself how he let himself do this to the people he loves or to his own life. He’s been working the angles.
Today, he did what he’s been doing throughout your marriage. He controlled the conversation. He USED your love against you. He acted like he was giving you what you wanted, while getting exactly what he wanted. He managed to leave you feeling like something was accomplished while NEVER ONCE having to talk about his years of deception, infidelity, disloyalty, and outright endangerment of his wife and son.
He thinks he’s bought 6 months during which you won’t bring up all of those pesky details. You’ll focus on helping him. Fixing him. Fixing your marriage. For the sake of your son, your families, your community. Fuck him. He USED the people that you love and how it would affect THEM for HIM to have to face his shit. Please take a minute to realize how shitty and evil that was.
He is fighting for his life here. And he is clearly going to get extremely ugly. Nothing. NOTHING will be to low for him to use to regain the upper hand and take away your power.
Your sister is amazing and completely correct. You are blessed to have her as a sounding board during this mess. You and she are right—he completely controlled the divorce narrative and turned it to his advantage.
How generous of him to grant you permission to let divorce enter your thoughts (notice he did not own that you should actually be thinking seriously about it—he just conceded that it was not completely unreasonable for you to let those thoughts pass through your unstable mind in its agitated state. After all, even he MIGHT have such irrational thoughts himself if he were in your shoes.). He was putting on what he thought was a good show of sounding understanding and empathetic.
But notice that he said he can understand why you THINK divorce is on the table. There is real arrogance and entitlement in that statement. You THINK divorce is on the table, but he has not given consent for that.
How reasonable of him to suggest counseling where he is pretty fucking sure that he is slick enough to convince a counselor of all of the fake things that he’s convinced his church and his friends and your community of. He thinks he will WIN in that arena.
He has defined the parameters of counseling: you will talk about the potential (pre-determined negative and unacceptable) ramifications of divorce on your son, your families, your community, the mailman. He thinks that he can limit the discussion to the marriage, what is wrong with it (which will be a shared responsibility), how it (not him) must be fixed by both of you committing your energy to it, how bad it would be for everyone to let a hasty decision to divorce destroy their happiness. He thinks that he can bury the past (how ugly to dwell on the past when you are trying to rebuild for a better future for everyone) in counseling. He thinks he can buy 6 months and he’s pretty sure that he can regain and hold the upper hand.
He’s feeling confident again that he can control you by using your LOVE for him and your son and your family. And you’re going to have to find your fury about this or it will likely work. Not because you’re stupid or weak, but because he has obliterated your mental and emotional equilibrium while remaining as detached and compartmentalized as he has been throughout your marriage. And he’s willing to TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE VULNERABILITY AND AGONY THAT HE CREATED.
I really wish that so many of us on this thread hadn’t experienced exactly this to describe it in so many posts. I really wish that I didn’t feel that I have to say such hurtful things about the person that, until a few weeks ago, was the person that you most trusted.
So my prediction—and I certainly could be wrong?—is that he will be like this as long as you play along. As long as it’s working. He will wear his caring, collaborative, kind face. But as you can see now, he wasn’t actually being caring or collaborative or kind. He was using that to manipulate you.
You mentioned in your first confrontation that he used insecurities from the past against you to divert you.
My sister: That. Was. NOTHING. Compared to how ugly he is likely to get if he realizes that this didn’t work and you backtrack on counseling and regain control of the divorce process.
If he is anything like the majority of this particular variety of wayward, he will use literally ANYTHING that he knows about you. He will twist it. He will be cruel. He may ultimately question your sanity and rationality. He may tsk and shake his head over your inability to let go of anger, your obsession with the past when you should be concentrated on your son’s future (yep, he will use your love for your son), your lack of equal devotion to preserving your marriage when it’s all he wants.
Ask me how I know. When your WH is the secretive, guarding, controlling, lying manipulative kind on this scale, you have to recognize how deeply invested his entire being is in those behaviors and in guarding himself and his secrets. He has never let anyone, including himself, really see what he is. He is deeply afraid of that. More than he’s afraid of anything else.
So don’t spend too much time being upset at what happened today. Learn from it. And learn from the next exchange, and the next, and the next. This is one of the big reasons that everyone says watch and listen. You will learn things you never wanted to know and wish you didn’t, but there’s no luxury of time here. You have to stay on your toes and not let yourself engage without preparing yourself. Try not to engage when you’re tired or rushed or in a particularly vulnerable state. Never agree to anything on the spot. Give yourself time to think and process and make sure that it’s what you really feel is good for you and your son. And remember: you don’t OWE him ANYTHING. Even if you’ve agreed to something, you can change your mind if it’s not good for you. What commitment has he kept to you in the entirety of your marriage? You’re allowed to reconsider and think better.
AGain, I say with the greatest concern and care; you can literally lose YEARS to this ongoing, brutal health and soul and mindfuck. You can think you’re trying to preserve your son’s family while really letting his childhood slip by with a mom who is never her full self and a dad who’s, well, what he is.
I’ll ask again: have you seen ANY sign that he cares about what he’s done to you? Have you seen ANY sign that he recognizes how horrible his lying and cheating and robbing you of the agency to choose the marriage that is acceptable to you has been for years? Has he even indicated that he thinks he’s done ANYTHING wrong? He actually had enough clarity and awareness to describe his lying methodology to strangers online. He likely does not even believe that he has done anything wrong. He is too invested in believing that he’s a helluva decent guy. He would have to let that go to even begin the endless journey to understand and address his darkness.
I know I’ve gone on too long. We all know what you’re going through. We all care about you here and see your struggle and your strength and your pain. We know that pain too well. We wish that we could spare you even a little of what’s ahead of you. We hope what we didn’t learn soon enough can be of some small help to you now. We’ll be here no matter what happens and no matter what you decide to do.
One final note, please don’t overlook the fact that he may be looking for what you know and where you’re getting information. That might lead him here if you’re leaving your browser history unwiped when you log off. If that happens, it will be a source of additional power to him, and will rob you of your safe place to share and get support. I strongly recommend that you leave nothing logged in, change passwords so he can’t get into your accounts of all kinds (email, text apps, SI, etc). Wipe your browser history each time you log off so that he doesn’t know that you’re posting anywhere. Try to anticipate what he may have access to and cut it off.
He isn’t your friend. He isn’t your husband right now. Please protect yourself, and keep sharing with your sister. She is awesome.
[This message edited by NowWhat106 at 8:10 AM, Wednesday, September 14th]