I've stayed off the site quite a bit in terms of posting lately. Been feeling like I'm holding my breath a bit over here with the M. We're mostly living like brother/sister. Helping out with house, kids and family/friends things, but little chemistry between the 2 of us. Still going out on occasional dates. He does help plan them and is eager to get out and have good times together.
H has complained that the "disposable income" we have tends to get disposed as I see fit and not how he sees fit. I thought about it, and realized that I don't approve of his spending because I still don't trust him with financial decisions outside of our regular bills. I shared that with him. He wasn't pleased, but we agreed to go back to the "fun money" system we used to have. That eased things a bit. And improves things too- it now feels more special when he treats me out to something on his own dime. It means that he put that as a priority above himself. He took us out to Detroit and we had a good time. I decided to use my money to pay for a day trip to the beach on Lake Michigan for the family. I'm liking the new system.
H wants to do a prayer group again with other couples. That's where he started his EA with Del. Each time we talk about this, I've made it abundantly clear that before I am willing to do set that up, I need to see him pursuing his own personal relationship with God and mending our relationship in the spiritual arena. That I'm not comfortable sharing him spiritually in an intimate manner with other women until we have that squared away for ourselves. I told him, "well, you screwed the pooch on that last time, so I need to see some improvement before I'm willing to set this up." H didn't like the wording of that- said it was harsh. I agreed and apologized. He's starting to understand why I don't want to start up another prayer group. Since it requires work on his end and investment in us in a vulnerable manner, I don't see it happening any time soon.
H does the dad's club at our school- they arrange the dances, some of the fund raising and run the athletics for the school. The meetings start with an hour of business and end with about 2 hours of drinking, eating and joking around. No big deal. A lot of them are what we call the "country club Catholic" crowd and quite a few are very immature. H told me he had a funny story to tell me after the most recent meeting. "One guy was talking about getting an STD test at Planned Parenthood. Turns out they have a sliding scale for pay. He thought about putting in his $200k income, but didn't want to have to pay a lot for his test. Said he felt bad about lying and putting $40k on the line until he realized, 'hell- they're back there killing babies, why should I care?!'" H thought that was really funny. It didn't have the same effect on me. He asked why I didn't think it was funny. WELL...
1. guy was married and getting an STD test
2. guy was hiding it by going to Planned Parenthood instead of his GP
3. guy knew going to PP instead of his GP would mean that no "Explanation of Benefits" bill would be sent to his home and outing him
4. guy didn't (according to H) tell his wife
5. WHY THE HELL IS A "FAITHFUL" MARRIED MAN GETTING AN STD TEST???
H said we don't know the circumstances- that his wife could be cheating for all we knew. If that was the case, he would go to his GP- he has nothing to hide (unless it's too shameful for him... but still!). If he was too ashamed, he could have gone to some random urgent care clinic and see a Dr that he'd never need to see again to get it done. No one does a deal with the devil if they're an honest person. H didn't think it was that big a deal. I told him that he needs to find better friends- it's a shitty person that goes behind his wife's back getting an STD test and not telling her. That it sounds to me like he's screwing around behind her back. H said that it's a bit rich coming from me of all people. I told him that I've changed in the past 4 years and that if he still saw me as a WW that it was his problem and showed that he had an inaccurate picture of me.
I told him I was disappointed in him. That I expected better of him. I said that especially after all he'd been through, I would have expected him to at least be appalled by this guy's behavior and not think it was funny. At best, I would have hoped he would have expressed disgust with his behavior saying something like, "Hey man, not cool. Why do you even need to be checked? Did you tell your wife you needed an STD check?" He countered that he didn't know the situation and that she could have been the cheater. Even so, I said the fact that he thought lying to PP about his income (while also "humble bragging" about it) was funny was really disgusting to me. That even going to PP for STD's is gross. That he has health insurance and if he wasn't hiding anything, he could have used his doctor.
We then had a discussion about friends and my fears of him following around these immature and worldly people. That none of his close friends were really happy or pursuing the things that I am finding important- family, faith and honest personal growth. That I felt like our priorities are different. He agreed that we're moving apart, but said that I'm assuming things about his friends since I didn't know them. I told him that I've been asking to meet them. Again, he pushed back and said that I needed to arrange things with my work people too then. I've agreed with that and will set some stuff up. I'm actually working on it.
Since he was getting defensive, I put it back on his behavior and his actions. I told him, regardless of his friends, I've noticed him pursuing physical appearance in the form of severe dieting (one meal a day only) and purchasing expensive clothes and pursuing going out drinking with friends. That his behavior is mirroring that in many ways of his brother in law that doesn't do jack for his family. That I was concerned because he wasn't behaving like the person I know he could be. That it's hard for us when we don't eat family dinners anymore because he's not eating. That it's hard for me to make 2 dinners to accommodate his diet in addition to what me and the kids eat. He agreed to sit down and eat a salad to keep us company and has made more of a point to eat with us. I've also been cooking dinners that align more with his diet (basically make the carb as separate entity so he can opt out of it). So that's improved.
H started talking to J again. He's still unhappy about my work situation. Lather rinse repeat. He's stopped with the comments on my appearance. Stopped pressuring me to look a certain way. He's been kind, but he's pretty depressed. Basically, I think he's going through a mid life crisis and still dealing with the aftermath of my affair. In maladaptive ways, sure, aside from the dieting and exercise (he's looking great and BP is down). It's gotta be hard to be saddled with a fWW who is aging, has gained a bit of weight, has hot flashes and fatigue. Who's not getting any more fertile when he still states he'd like another baby and be a better father than he was to our first 2. Who works at the same building as her fAP. Who's interested in different things and disappointed in his behavior.
I have empathy for him, but, despite his better body, little attraction to him. I'm not sure if it's a combination of fatigue, menopause, lack of shared goals in life, his immaturity... I don't know. I did desire physical intimacy and approached him twice where he turned me down. That was hard. H said he's numb to rejection since I do that so often and so often don't initiate or want to make love any more. That he's indifferent to it. It was a few days after I told him I was disappointed in him. It was baffling at first to me, because one of his complaints is that I don't initiate often enough. And here I was, initiating... I thought it would be helpful for us to bridge the divide (and really, I was feeling it because hormonally I was at that point in my cycle). That hopefully it would make amends for some of the times I rejected his advances. But he explained he was still down about the fight and not feeling it. So we snuggled instead, which was good. Definitely gained more empathy for him that night.
H has helped enormously in helping me mend fences with my sisters. He made peace with the one who was willing (eager actually) to pay for our D. He's arranged times for us to meet up and get together. That's been really good and meant a TON to me. It was tough dealing with him being new best friends with them and saying how awesome they were and how he can talk to them about things that he can't share with me (botox, plastic surgery, extreme dieting). He understands I don't feel comfortable with that because of issues from the one sister calling me fat, ugly, stupid, worthless piece of shit every day of my life from middle school until she graduated high school and moved out when I entered 11th grade. 5 years of my adolescence. I've healed that part of me and she's apologized and become a better person. Still... there's a scar. I don't feel comfortable around extreme dieters since the abusive sister was anorexic too and even though she abused me, I was still scared for her dying from starving herself. I am very anxious when people I love and care about aren't eating well. Both my sisters are 5'2" and both weigh about 100lbs now. One sister (who had a COVID baby) lost all her baby fat in less than a year's time. AWESOME. Except... she's getting scary thin. My abuser sister was always scary thin, so no surprises there.
BUT... I'm worried. And anxious. That's for me to deal with, and I'm working on it. Just doesn't help when H is all best buddies now with the very people I was compared negatively to and who abused me growing up. I'm happy he's healed the relationship with them. Really I am. My sisters do love me and I do love them. We're making steps toward healing and that's hopeful. I love their kids and am so happy the cousins are getting back together more often.
It's so mixed though because H is idealizing them again like he did all the other EA's he's had over the years. That initial hit of, "WOW! I've made an awesome female friend and she's SO COOL!!" And: "It's so nice to have so much in common with them on things that I can't really share with you." It's so confusing. And beautiful. And painful. Does life ever run smoothly? I just want to have a relationship with my sisters that isn't complicated by competition with my H for admiration and attention. All I really want is for him to have a similar level of admiration for me. I'm really jealous of my sisters and any woman he idealizes. Why can't that be me? Why can't he temper his admiration with reality? Like, yeah, my sisters are awesome people. BUT, they've also caused a lot of hurt- either directly or by enabling- and they're not by any means perfect. Why can't H have a balanced approach to other women and a more balanced approach to me? I wouldn't be so jealous if he were more affectionate, warm and doting on me like he is on other women. But... I'm not skinny, blonde, stylish, worldly, COOL like they are. According to him, it's more natural for him to get along with these people because he doesn't feel judged for his interests and they're after the same things he is... and they're blonde and skinny and stylish. Because those are the things he's after.
Why can't I decide to just make peace and accept my H for who he is, accept the M as it is or D? All I've really done is work on indifference. Pushing down hurt, desire, longing and disappointment. H communicates his loneliness. I communicate my disappointment. It's like we have all the ingredients for a good M. I'm smart, attractive, hard working, funny (when I'm comfortable around the people I'm with) and affectionate. H is hard working, dedicated, disciplined, kind, good looking and funny. He's very personable when he's comfortable of not being judged. I think we've both judged each other so much over the years that there's this built up sense of rejection and criticism. How do we overcome that?
We're in limbo. He's asked for us to make plans for what we're doing and where we're going. I change the subject. Really, what's got to happen in my mind is that he makes peace with the situation, in whatever way that looks like to him. Just as I had to make peace with his one sided vasectomy. With his one sided withholding of affection around that time. With his decisions to put our family at grave financial risk. With his string of EA's. It's been hard, but I have. As many of the BS's on this site have had to learn, there's things we can't control in a relationship, that our spouse can do shitty things that affect us on a gut level, but it's our job to do our own work healing. That the work of healing often changes who we are. I've got scars around mystery personal female friends. Around what I see as extravagance. Around any WHIFF of comparison or unfair criticism (I mean, I'm 40 and we don't have room in the budget for $250 highlights, $5k lipo and quarterly $500 botox!!! LET ALONE THE EXPENSIVE CLOTHES!!).
I'm waiting for him to grow up. To get a grip on the reality of midlife with kids, aging parents, jobs and home to run. To get a grip on our craft brew budget and let go of the champagne and caviar dreams. To wake up and see his pursuits for what they are- a means to obtain external validation from people who really aren't going to be there when the car crashes, the cancer is diagnosed or the kid gets pregnant. If there's a crisis, I know of 2-3 people I can call in an instant outside of family who will drop everything. His vain friend J... she may sympathize over snapchat, but you can bet she's not going to be driving over with a bottle of wine, pizza and a shoulder to cry on. Maybe if H divorces me. HAH. Then he can be the next in her string of daddy issues lovers she allows to abuse her so she can get an expensive purse off them . In that case... he'll be welcome to her!
Anyhow. I'm being patient and hanging in there and working on myself. Getting my health back in order. Working out more often and eating healthier. Not to fit into clothes, but to have more energy and enjoy my life more. Getting my friends prioritized. Making new friends via volunteering at church. Reaching out to people I know have the same values and care about PEOPLE first and not things. Healing my relationship with my sisters and old friends like R. (R's the one I had a falling out over a mutual friend's, T, A and T swearing us to secrecy. I didn't stay quiet and told R's H about it as R's H is besties with T's H. R's H told T to talk in a month or he would. She told her BH).
So, while I'm not satisfied in my M (and neither is my H), I'm pursuing my own improvement, being patient with H and staying true to myself. I've also made it a priority in my mind to be kinder to H, do small things out of love for him (coffee in the morning, calling/texting more often, planning date nights). It's not perfect, but I'd say it's a friends with benefits situation and I can live here for quite some time while seeking outside support from friends. None of which is bad... so, yeah.