Thisisme68 (original poster new member #43067) posted at 4:33 PM on Friday, September 16th, 2022
I know there are a lot of wise, experienced people here so I’m hoping you can offer some advice. No stop sign because I need to hear the cold hard truth. I desperately want to repair the damage I’ve done.
This might be long so bear with me.
BS and I have been married for over 35 years. We got married in college when I became pregnant with our first child. We were very young to become newlyweds and parents. BS started back to school a few years later, in addition to working full time, when our child was a few years old. I was working full time as well and felt like a single parent because BS was often not available due to his schedule. Also, I come from an alcoholic/drug addict parent so I have major abandonment issues as well as trouble with impulsivity and regulating my emotions. I started an EA with a mutual friend. It started off as friendly emails but as we talked I realized it was going past friends and I broke it off after a couple of months. There were a couple of phone calls and I went to the person’s house two times. Nothing physical ever happened - no kissing, no touching, no sex. In my mind, as long as there was no physical activity, I wasn’t doing anything wrong. It was incredibly selfish.
BS knew knew I had been to AP house and questioned me about what was going on. I admitted what I was doing but I was not the least bit remorseful. We argued for a couple of weeks and being young and dumb I thought that was the end. We never talked about it again until 2013 when he asked me if I had ever been unfaithful. I said "Well you know about the thing with AP but nothing physical happened." My poor BS lost it. It was like it was all happening for the first time. We finally started to deal with the EA. BS refused counseling so we did the best we could and it was a rough few years. We managed to stay together but things were not good. I did my best to help him heal but he disconnected from me. I have been in counseling off and on for years due to ACOA issues so I went back to IC, read books on affairs and did my best to be there for him, shared how remorseful I (finally) felt, wrote him letters, did special things for him, encouraged him to tell me how he felt. I was not able to provide him with a timeline bc it had been almost 20 years and I truly did not remember. I wasn’t even totally sure what year it happened. He remained disconnected and generally lacking in affection and I felt very sad and lonely. I had trouble expressing this to him bc I felt so guilty for what I had put him though. I felt it was what I deserved.
In 2016, my mother died somewhat suddenly. The pain from her death combined with the disconnection I felt from BS led me to ask for a divorce several times that year. Each time, we’d talk and I’d change my mind. I know this was emotionally abusive and added to his trauma. I eventually realized this, stopped the cycle and slowly we started the process of healing again.
This leads to our current situation. BS continued to remain disconnected. He became somewhat more affectionate but I was unhappy with our marriage. I would tell him how I felt and he would say ‘It’s not happening fast enough for you?’ Meaning he wasn’t recovering on my timeframe. I took that to mean shut up and live with what we had.
After months of contemplation, I asked for a divorce again last month. I was truly prepared to go through with it. BS told me how much he loved me, that he didn’t want to lose me and I changed my mind. He agreed to MC and IC this time. We have had some of the most honest and heartfelt conversations of our marriage in the last four weeks. He is terrified I am going to change my mind again and he’s lost all trust in me. I know I need to earn his trust back. Our MC thinks he never healed from the EA back in the 90s and that is the root of all of our problems. We both agree with her.
I am at a loss as to what to do now. We are both in IC. I’m reading books again, we’re talking, connecting, spending time together. I’m falling into the trap of feeling like a complete sh*thead for what I’ve done. I know I need to focus on how he feels and what he needs right now. I’m doing that as well. I must be doing a good job bc he keeps saying ‘If I could have this version of you forever I’d be so happy’.
BS believes I slept with AP bc I went to his house which I can understand but it worries me that he still thinks I’m lying to him by continuing to deny it.
So please. Any advice, things I missing, 2x4s. I so want to fix this.
src9043 ( member #75367) posted at 5:39 PM on Friday, September 16th, 2022
From the information you provide, as affairs go, yours is barely on the radar. Was there an exchange of "I love you" between the two of you or sexting that went on? Was it simply a crush that you recognized as damaging to the marriage and quickly took steps to end it? How much of the details concerning the EA did you provide your spouse?
It seems that counseling is helping and the real sticking point is that he doesn't believe it was only an EA. Have you suggested taking a polygraph exam? Other than recovering texts between you and your AP that show no physical intimacy ever took place, I don't know what else you can do. I doubt that your husband talking to the AP, if available, would make any difference. It would probably exacerbate the problem.
Continue doing everything in your power to show your husband that you will never cheat on him and that you are 100% committed to working on the marriage. Stay in counseling. Your husband, especially, needs to stay in IC. Hopefully, he found a good one to get through to him. I think that most BSs on this site would agree that they could get past the EA you describe. Shit, my ex-wife had at least one major EA. What took down the marriage was her PAs. That was a bridge too far.
In rereading your post, I noticed your husband's comment that he wishes the current version of his wife stay this way always. This suggests that there is more to your problems than just the EA. Not pointing fingers but simply the way the two of you have interacted with each other for quite some time seems to be a major factor in what is going on. This is where a good MC can make a difference. But take the polygraph. It will help remove the cloud your husband seems to be trapped in.
[This message edited by src9043 at 5:53 PM, Friday, September 16th]
asc1226 ( member #75363) posted at 5:55 PM on Friday, September 16th, 2022
Write out a timeline for your EA, then research and schedule a polygraph. Don’t ask your husband if wants one. Schedule it and have the examiner work with him on the questions.
I make edits, words is hard
Thisisme68 (original poster new member #43067) posted at 7:02 PM on Friday, September 16th, 2022
Thank you for your replies.
No exchange of I love you’s. Just a crush and realizing it was going too far that direction. There were no texts, only emails and they were all sent from my work email. I haven’t worked there in 25 years so they are long gone. We have no contact with AP and I don’t think BS would be interested in going that route.
I provided him with the most details I could remember. As I said, it was almost 20 years prior when we finally started dealing with it. And now it’s been almost 30.
I offered to do a polygraph several times in 2013. I hear that you are saying to just schedule it and do it but BS is very sensitive about me doing things that take away his control. I bought him a sweater last week as a nice gesture and he was very upset by that because he said he had no say in it.
Yes, there are other problems in the marriage outside of the EA. I have not been a peach to live with but I have improved over the years and am working on my issues with IC.
Thisisme68 (original poster new member #43067) posted at 7:06 PM on Friday, September 16th, 2022
Also I think the major issue right now is that I have repeatedly asked for a divorce and then backed down from it. He feels like he is on very shaky ground.
src9043 ( member #75367) posted at 1:16 AM on Saturday, September 17th, 2022
The devil is in the details and it looks like the best option right now is to continue with IC and MC where issues can be dealt with appropriately. If he hits you again with his belief that you had a PA, tell him you are willing and able to sit for a polygraph. Also, step away from threatening divorce. It isn't doing anything to help the two of you interact in an authentic manner. Just the opposite. Ask yourself if you still truly love your husband and want to save the marriage. Also, his desire to control is very disconcerting. If you are being suffocated by that behavior, it must be dealt with in MC. If you still love your husband definitely cut out the divorce talk. Good luck to the two of you.
[This message edited by src9043 at 1:23 AM, Saturday, September 17th]
ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 1:57 AM on Saturday, September 17th, 2022
Speaking as a BS, I do think that we need to take some responsibility in our own healing. No one forces us into R, and frankly, every time you've backed away and said "okay then, let's call it", your BH has doubled down wanting to stay. At some point, we have to be proactive in putting the past behind us. Is he really going to do it this time? It sounds to me like he still doesn't believe you after nearly thirty years and if he thinks you're a liar, WHY does he still want to be with you???
I would recommend EMDR for him and another round of therapy to figure out whether there's something more that can be done. But if you've got three decades of fidelity behind you with a man who agreed that he was where he wanted to be, I think it's okay to expect him to follow through this time. No one should have to wear the hair shirt all their life. He either loves you for who you are today or he can stay fixated on who you were thirty years ago. He can't do both.
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.
Never2late ( member #79079) posted at 2:28 AM on Saturday, September 17th, 2022
It is perfectly understandable that if you went to the guy's house and were alone with him, and you were into each other (EA), that your BS thinks there was some kind of physical activity. It is not uncommon at all for minimization of this kind to occur. Also, the root of the problem seems to be that these events were rugswept and never truly dealt with. I also think a polygraph may help alliviate his concern. Not sure what else you can do at this point.
numb&dumb ( member #28542) posted at 5:03 PM on Monday, September 19th, 2022
BS believes I slept with AP bc I went to his house which I can understand but it worries me that he still thinks I’m lying to him by continuing to deny it.
Honestly I am having trouble believing this too. Enough time has past that you might be suffering from a selective memory or have don't enough mental gymnastics that you believe that too. My W did that too.
Multiple threats of D over the years are not helping here. How often did the threats of a D coincide with him trying to open up to you or ask you questions about the M or your A?
He is disconnected because everytime he tries to ask personal questions you run away or thresten D again.
If you don't want to be M'd then don't. Set him free so he isn't held in the place he is in which is beating him down over time. He believes you've had one foot out the door your entire M. Why emorionally invest in something you know will end up in a D?
He is not connecting with you because you keep hurting him and he resents that. He feels trapped today. Just like at the beginning of your M. He believes that his integrity compells him to, "stick it out." He likely has not been honest regarding his feelings about that with you either.
That is at the root of a lot of the problems you are seeing today. IC first for both you. M issues can be dealt with after you both begin to br honest with one another. Once you both can have uncomfortable conversations without running away then you might have a chance to figure out if your go to answer is the correct one or you both want to build something new.
Dday 8/31/11. EA/PA. Lied to for 3 years.
Bring it, life. I am ready for you.
Ivory ( new member #52026) posted at 5:48 AM on Tuesday, September 20th, 2022
What did you all do? Watch TV?
Being that it was a mutual friend probably aggravates the R. OP, how did your H know about it, even that you were going to your APs place? Were you telling him about the affair on the fly or did your H find out about it from others... which would have been more humiliating.
OP mentions being young and dumb. I can relate because the same thing happened to me when I was in college. My gal going to a mutual friends place when I was in classes. Later, I figured out that she used my innocence and my love for her against me.
It didn't work out for us because every time I thought of her, I thought not just of her, but of both of them. And I didn't want to think about them.
What are the next steps? It sounds like you are on the right track with the counseling and all. From what you've written, doing things to make him feel special and all. You are probably doing all you can.
jailedmind ( member #74958) posted at 8:10 AM on Tuesday, September 20th, 2022
My wife and I met in high school. Grade 9 and 10. We have been together almost 40 years. Her father had a heart attack and died in front of her at the age of six. Her mother never remarried. We moved in together during college. She met some guy and was sleeping with him while we were living together. I never got the full story until after our second child. I felt betrayed for many years after. It just eats at you as a man. It pops into your head for no apparent reason. At the time I remember it consumed much of my time as I ruminated over it. He needs space and he needs a good councillor. I got one years later after my wife’s affair in her 40s. Understand it’s been years for you. But he’s got himself in a loop and is reliving the negative emotions over and over. He needs PTSD training. Needs to learn grounding techniques and how to talk himself off the ledge. It becomes a habit the ruminating. He needs to learn techniques to stop it once it begins. He can’t stop it starting but he can regulate his reaction to it. I found it a very lonely place to be. You don’t discuss this stuff with friends. Your wife doesn’t want her failures repeated to her over and over, years down the road.And I just want some relief for the pain. I needed to become an active participant in my healing. So I educated myself on infidelity. I researched ways to help myself. He needs to find his way to heal. Or ruminate on it the rest of his life. Sometimes I think we do too much pain shopping and not enough happy shopping. Betrayal leaves a very nasty wound that festers if not taken care of.
Ivory ( new member #52026) posted at 6:33 PM on Tuesday, September 20th, 2022
for the OP:
I think jailedmind is correct in that your H's mind has wore a groove into his psyche. It's like impetigo, an itch you can't help but scratch, even when it's bleeding. The best remedy for that is to quit scratching. So that would be an individual counseling problem to solve.
To others, your story is a valuable lesson again rug-sweeping. The continued misunderstanding in itself is harmful, and it would be helpful to have those work emails available to clear up what happened, even to help you remember.
From what you wrote... you had a friendship that you stopped when you realized you had a crush. For your H, he is probably trying to figure out your reasoning that you went to the OP's place and how long you were there. Your husbands imagination is filling in the blanks that you can't remember.
In your post, you say that you worked with your OP, but he was a mutual friend of your husband and yourself also. Did your OP become a mutual friend through you?
You write that you have been a bear to live with. That's quite a toxic environment you describe and would turn most people into a bear to live with!
Thisisme68 (original poster new member #43067) posted at 3:57 PM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022
Thank you for your responses. I greatly appreciate them.
Numb&dumb - Definitely 100% am not having selective memory on the physical part. I know it seems absurd to suggest but I wouldn’t and didn’t go there. I know I am in the .001% of WW who have been caught and swear they didn’t have a PA. But that is the truth.
Ivory - What did we do when I went over there? We talked. It was the kind of conversation I was craving from BH but wasn’t having bc he wasn’t around. And when he was around he was angry at work and unapproachable.
BH knew each time I went to AP house bc I made up an excuse to go there - had to drop off a CD I borrowed or other bullshit excuse. When I stayed there a little too long he started asking questions. I never denied it but I definitely was not the remorseful or apologetic partner I should have been.
BH, AP and I worked together in college. That’s how we knew each other.
The threats of divorce came after period where he would shut down, days or even a week at a time and not speak to me. He had trouble opening up and sharing his pain with me so he would shut down. That lead to me feeling even more disconnected and pushed away.
Every time I asked for a divorce I was fully ready to go through with it. He would panic and pull out all of the I love you’s and I don’t want to lose you’s and I would change my mind. I know it wasn’t healthy and only contributed to his trauma. But I wasn’t doing it to be manipulative. I truly had reached the end of my rope and felt there was no alternative.
Ivory ( new member #52026) posted at 7:02 PM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022
TIM68, Your questing on the next steps. From your original post, you say that this time is different in that he has agreed to counseling. You say that you are having heartfelt conversations that were not possible earlier. You say that you feel that asking for divorce has been hurtful. So it sounds like you are taking the right steps.
I gather from your words that he gave you the go ahead to go to the OPs place. Like you said, you were both younger then and at the time, he didn't realize the full implications either. For me, I felt like such a fool for not understanding the implications of her friendship with her OP, and that's sometimes the hardest part to get over.
I'm hoping that you guys are making a breakthrough and he can find a way to get his heart back open to you. I wonder what happened to him to star ruminating and trigger after 13 years. Did you go to a movie that featured infidelity?
Dkt3 ( member #75072) posted at 11:18 PM on Thursday, September 22nd, 2022
Is there a particular reason you have avoided the polygraph conversation?
I think what many WS miss because time has passed is the BS thinks about the betrayal almost everyday. After 20 plus years I'm confident it still consumes much of his head space. Any time you're looking for affection it probably crosses his mind that you had sex with another guy.
Unfortunately for you, this is now ingrained in his mind. Its like getting a cut throwing a bandage on it and hoping it will heal properly, instead of doing the work to clean it up. Now you have a bunch of infected areas that will be much more difficult to remove before healing can begin.
Offering a polygraph will start to remove the infection.
Darkness Falls ( member #27879) posted at 12:47 AM on Friday, September 23rd, 2022
He either loves you for who you are today or he can stay fixated on who you were thirty years ago. He can't do both.
WS - remarried to BH but not in R
Darkness Falls ( member #27879) posted at 12:52 AM on Friday, September 23rd, 2022
that you had sex with another guy.
It might be helpful to actually read her post before offering advice.
WS - remarried to BH but not in R
Dkt3 ( member #75072) posted at 1:24 AM on Friday, September 23rd, 2022
I read every word..my point being to him the truth as she tells it is irrelevant, he doesn't trust or believe her, thus my follow up paragraph.
Dkt3 ( member #75072) posted at 1:32 AM on Friday, September 23rd, 2022
Also time means nothing. Be it 5 years or 30. If the betrayal isn't dealt with there is still a huge problem. We have all read stories about the BS walking away years and decades later.
This idea that it just popped up after 20 years is just wishful thinking. His behavior over that period is directly linked to the affair being very present for him.
Ivory ( new member #52026) posted at 3:07 AM on Friday, September 23rd, 2022
OP, reading the threads on this forum, the wayward often treat their BS badly during the infatuation. Also that the BS becomes weaker even when the affair is under cover. So I think its a common aggravation in an initial rug sweep in a situation like yours... You typed that you weren't remorseful or understanding during that time. Compound the lack of remorse with your BS operating in a hurt condition when you had the initial conversations. It's difficult for a man to say "You hurt me". So you might not have known that you were hurting him during the affair and after.