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Heartbreak & Confusion (D v R)

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 FairestotSeasons (original poster new member #83812) posted at 12:43 AM on Friday, September 15th, 2023

I've (33M) been lurking for the last several months. I've appreciated a lot of the experience and wisdom from the members of this forum. I feel it's finally time to share my story. Maybe some of you further down the line can make things more clear. Thank you all in advance for reading a LONG post.
Together for 15 years, married for 11, no kids.

My Story:
My wife and I met when we were both 18 (2008) within the first few weeks of college. I was always a little shy and she pursued me in a subtle way that made me feel comfortable. We became exclusive after a few weeks of hanging out one on one, I was falling for her fast.
A little context, I had only ever dated one person before in high school and was very prudish, taking things extremely slow. I had never had sex and took the idea very seriously, thinking you should only have sex with someone you really love. She, on the other hand, had multiple sexual partners, serious and casual, and was not afraid to flaunt that she was experienced. Though this difference in values was a little disturbing to me at the time, I thought I was just being old fashioned and could appreciate all the other wonderful things about her.
A few months into dating, she was invited to a party by an ex of hers. She decided to go with him, I was not invited, and I expressed some discomfort with her decision. Later that night I get a call from her, crying, asking for help and that she was in her dorm room. I called a mutual friend that lived in her dorm to go check up on her. The friend said she had found her on the floor, puking in a shoe box, a total mess.
About a week after this event, my future wife told me that she was not alone in her dorm that night. She had been escorted back by a classmate (one she had said she thought was cute) and he had proceeded to sexually assault her. I was shocked. I took her at her word. I did take a few days to think about if I should break up with her, but she was very distraught, and I had heard how prevalent rape and sexual assault were on college campuses. Why should I hold her accountable for something that wasn't her fault?
I decided to stay. I thought I could let go of any suspicion, but I was wrong. This leads into the next four years of our relationship through college. We had some really great times, but there were times I was haunted by the suspicion and jealousy around that night. She would talk about her past partners, it would fuel my jealousy. She was only interested in making friends with men, it fueled my jealousy. I ended up making my jealousy her problem, having her break friendships and go no contact with ex boyfriends. I would have episodes of anger and would ask her repetitive and incessant questions, many times getting conflicting answers. Despite these episodes, we had great times in college and were pretty much inseparable, starting a trend of codependency that has been with us ever since.
At the end of our senior year, many other young couples were getting married (midwest values), and she was very interested in tying the knot as well. I knew I loved her, and couldn't think of being interested in anyone else. We had the same plans for after college life, it seemed like the right choice at the time, I proposed. We got married in 2012 and picked up a puppy the day after the wedding (2012).
Life after college was an adjustment for both of us. Over four years we moved three times to completely different parts of the country, I put on a good amount of weight, we both struggled adjusting to professional life, and had difficulty making friends. Near the end of this four year period (2015), I was fat, depressed, and the feelings of retroactive jealousy came flooding back, probably due to my crushing insecurity. I was living in a haze of jealousy, going back to asking questions, not trusting her. Really a good dose of relationship OCD most likely. This went on for about a year, I knew something was wrong with me. I made her feel like she would never be enough for me because of things she did in the past, things she couldn't change and things she said she was ashamed of. No matter the amount of answering or reassurance, my obsession could not be fixed by her, it was squarely my issue and I was emotionally abusing her as a result. She started to mention divorce and we went to see a therapist to address my issues.
After going to therapy for a little under a year, we both decided we wanted to hike a long distance trail together, maybe as the last thing we would ever do as a couple. If we could make it through, it might bring us closer and give us new energy for the future. We took a five month break (2016) from real life and accomplished that goal together. I lost a bunch of weight and found an inner peace that I never knew was there. The questions were over, the past was the past and that's where I would leave it. I committed to being a more compassionate and supportive partner.
After this I tried to talk about how I had acted before and apologize, but she didn't want to talk about it. I thought I would show her things were going to be different through actions and supported her in several pursuits, some of which separated us for periods of time. I ended up finding another professional job, she found something temporary in the service industry.
During this time, she was distant, but only expressed dissatisfaction with adjusting back to a more normal life after such a grand adventure. She was very excited to be working a low stakes job with young people that had very few responsibilities. It was during this time that she met someone I was a little worked about. He worked with her, she talked about him for awhile, but as soon as I mentioned that she was talking about him an awful lot, she didn't mention him anymore. This should have been a red flag, but I was trying to be chill and TRUST. She eventually found a professional job, and went out with her colleagues for a goodbye party, I was not invited. She did not come home that night (2017), but texted very late that she was staying at a female coworker's apartment since she was drunk and tired. I was uncomfortable with her staying out all night, but I trusted her and was trying to be as supportive and amenable as possible.
The new professional gig required a lot of travel with her boss, a man about ten years older. They worked together for about one year, taking many trips together. They would always go out for drinks after work and she seemed to get along with him very well. I always got a call at the end of the night. They seemed very friendly, but she always seemed to relay the content of their conversations. Once again, the jealousy crept in, I told her in subtle ways I was uncomfortable, but everything was in the context of work. They texted outside of work, I snooped, and everything seemed to be friendly, but platonic.
She changed jobs (2018), but kept seeing him when he would be in town to visit over the next few years. Eventually he kissed her, she told me at the time he 'tried' to kiss her, and I calmly asked that she cut all contact with him. A few months later (2020), I see that she's still contacting him, but I thought they were never going to see each other again physically since he lives so far away and COVID was starting. The conversation was platonic and she claimed she was not interested in him, he was the pursuer. I left it, trying to TRUST, and not engage in old behavior.
Once things opened up after COVID (2022) she started travelling for work again with a different company but within the same industry. Early this year I checked her phone messages with him and saw that she was indeed planning on meeting up with him at an upcoming conference. I brought it up, broke down crying, and asked her not to see him one-on-one at the conference. She told me she would have to see him for work, but wouldn't go out with him outside of the professional environment.
At the end of the conference I went down to the city she was in for work to see the sights with her and do a little vacationing. After a night out, she was a little drunk and fell asleep at our accommodations. I checked her phone and saw that she had gone out with him for a drink after the conference. I read back through their entire thread. I saw a few subtly flirt messages, nothing condemning, but enough for me to have questions.

D-Day #1:
The next morning I was upset and told her I read through her texts (March 2023). She denied anything more than friendship and apologized for going out with him, but there was really nothing to worry about, she didn't want to be rude (she is a confirmed people pleaser). I didn't give up this time. She immediately texted him, told him she could no longer be friends, and blocked him. Over a series of weeks, gaslighting, misdirection, blaming, and outright lying, I got her to produce a timeline of her relationship with her boss (AP#1). She produced a story that showed he was a very attentive boss, took her under his wing as a mentee, and promised to guide her in her career. He created a lot of opportunity to spend time with her on trips and always initiated contact or texting (verified from me reading her texts). She claimed she saw him as a father figure (her dad abandoned her and her mom). She admitted to enjoying their nights out and to knowing he had feelings for her (enjoying the attention), but that she saw that as his problem and didn't know how to distance herself when they were working together. Things were still not adding up, so I kept pushing for answers to fill in the gaps. She was trickle truthing me hard.
Eventually after leaving and spending a few nights at my sister's she gave a new version of the story (April 2023), this one seems to have stood the test of time since her disclosing it. He was putting on pressure, taking her out, showing off, giving her lots of attention and praise, and she enjoyed it. She liked hanging out with and and enjoyed all the validation he was giving her. He started to push the boundaries, and she didn't do much to stop him. He held her hand, she eventually pulled away. When she snuggled up very close to him while waiting on a train he told her he felt like they were having an emotional affair, she shrugged it off, didn't feel the same. During their last night together she got a little too drunk and was 'giving him eyes', but nothing happened. Ultimately, it seems she got off on having him fall for her. She claims to have loved the validation, but didn't love him.
She claimed their relationship after she left the job was mostly platonic. Without the in-person excitement, it wasn't the same. When they met up he would still wax on about good they would be together. She didn't shut it down, but didn't really reciprocate. After he kissed her she knew things went over the line and decided to tell me he 'tried' to kiss her. After agreeing to not text him anymore, he kept texting her and she thought if she wasn't going to see him anymore, what's the harm? She was in denial about the romantic aspect of their relationship and kept telling herself they were 'just friends'.
After travel opened up again she met up with him at two conferences before the one I found out about. The first time, things were platonic. They went out for drinks one night and grabbed a quick breakfast. The second time, he started to put the pressure back on, claiming the only reason he was there was to see her. He asked her for a ride to the airport and made comments about how good she looked. When she dropped him off, they hugged, and because he made a comment about not being able to see her body with the pants she was wearing, she told him 'You may not be able to see much, but my butt feels great in these pants. You can touch it if you want.' The most recent time they went out she said it was extremely uncomfortable. She felt obligated to go, but was desperate to leave and the meeting was very brief. He invited her out several more times during that conference, all of which she declined.
We both started IC and had a few sessions of MC. She signed up for an Affair Recovery course. She started reading books (Not Just Friends, ect). I was committed to getting to the bottom of things and understanding all that happened before making a decision to stay or go. We took a vacation together and it was amazing. She was open, she was honest, we were intimate again. I felt like we could make it through this.

D-Day #2 (June 2023):
Shortly after our trip, I was feeling good about R. But, I noticed after one of her therapy sessions she was pretty avoidant. The next day she said she had something she needed to tell me. I thought it was some minor point in the story I already knew that she had forgotten. She was SOBBING and could hardly get it out. Back before she started her job with AP#1, when she was working at the juice bar, the night that she didn't come home, she had a ONS with her manager (AP#2), the guy she stopped talking about when I questioned her. She was drunk, she was high, he was cute, they found themselves alone on the street late at night, they kissed. It was a rush, she felt free, he asked if she wanted to go back to his place, she said yes. They walked back to his apartment, stripped, got in the shower and had unprotected sex. She felt guilty, but not guilty enough. She called an old friend, told her everything, and was advised not to tell me. Incomprehensibly, a week later he texted her asking if she wanted to meet up. She said yes, went to his place, felt awkward about being there, and gave him a blowjob 'to get out of there quickly'. After that she ghosted him, no contact since.
She had been texting him before that night for several months. She thought he was cute. They would talk about music, he would give her attention and tease her, she obviously like it an played into it. He was younger and didn't have his shit figured out. She was feeling old (LOL) and wanted to escape the inevitable of going back to a professional job.

Immediately after, I asked for space and she went to stay with her family for three weeks. I was fairly resolved on divorce. But, on her return, her remorse, apologies, insight to the 'whys', and improved communication gave me pause.
She's still going to two therapists, reading everything in sight, continuing with her Affair Recovery course, showing remorse, listening without defensiveness, expressing commitment to change herself for herself (disgusted with herself), and expressing a deep desire to work things out, but with an understanding that I will need to do what's best for me.
We currently live in a very rural area and are pretty isolated. I decided I will be moving back to the city to be closer to work and my sister. I told her I would like to have six months to try to get a clear head to decide the future of our relationship. Even though she doesn't want me to leave, she's been helping me prep the apartment on weekends and doing anything she can to help me at any given time.


Feelings:
I have some empathy for her. Most of her infidelities were shortly after my emotional abuse (2015-2016). I made her feel like there was nothing she could ever do to meet my expectations. There was nothing she could ever do to be the wife I wanted. Her self esteem was at an all time low and she was likely dealing with some trauma that I caused her. But, I know these were her choices and they're not directly my fault. She could have divorced me, we could have gone to counseling.
She also has some FOO issues that she never resolved before this. Her father abandoned her, her stepdad was physically abusive, her mom is a narcissist, her grandfather was sexually inappropriate with her. She grew up in a home where everything was a mess and nobody talked about it. She learned to go along with anything anyone wanted to stay safe. She has very poor boundaries, is a people pleaser, and had put a lot of value in being 'desirable' (something I failed at during my worst times).
I also still feel like I love her, we've been through a lot together and I never felt like I was home when we were apart. We 'click' like I've never done with anyone else. Aside from the infidelity, lying, and lack of emotional availability, she's been a fantastic spouse. She's very supportive of me, has been a great household project manager, we enjoy the same pastimes and have the same hobbies. We can spend whole evenings of the week just talking, the hours fly by. The sex was amazing and frequent. We made a great team.
Also, she seems to be doing the work in earnest. She's on a strict diet of self improvement, supporting me, and research. Any 'fun' activities she does are paired with an educational podcast or taking her journal along. She's shared her location with me and told me I can access her phone, journal, accounts whenever I want. She turned down work travel and has let her boss know she won't be able to travel in the future. She really does seem to be giving it her all. I believe people can change, I've changed, and I want to believe that she can be a better, less broken person in the future. With or without me.
However, I don't know if I can cope with this and believe that we could ever be happy again together. I'm heartbroken, I don't trust her, I'm disgusted by her physical infidelities, I'm having mind movies, shaking, brain fog. Every day is an emotional journey and I've been going back and forth between divorce and reconciliation since she came back from the three weeks apart (July). I know I deserve better, maybe she can be better? Will it matter? Could I ever live with myself if I stayed? I'm constantly assessing the viability of a happy relationship with her and it's driving me crazy. For some reason I believe she will never cheat on me again (she seems to have woken up), but I don't know if she can be radically honest, transparent, vulnerable, and emotionally intelligent. Can you live with and truly love the person that gave you PTSD and traumatized you for life? Could I ever trust her after she lied and withheld for six years? Can I trust her after a false reconciliation? Can a serial cheater really change? 15 years together is a lot to throw away, but is this the person I want to spend the next 15 years with?
My heart and my head are at odds. I know a big part of wanting to stay is from fear. I've never lived on my own, I've always had her. I devoted so much of myself to the relationship I've lost who I am. My therapist has supported the separation as a way to break some codependency and build some confidence/independence. I really don't want to leave the comfort of my life, but I feel like I need to know I can live without her and the relationship to ensure if I do stay, it's not just out of fear and lack of confidence. However, I feel better when she's around. She's doing a great job of supporting me. She's comfortable, she's beautiful, she's smart (and dumb, yes I know). I'm struggling, I'm spacey, and she's been there to pick up where I'm falling down. I've committed in word to the move and have signed a lease, I know the reasons on paper, but I don't want to leave her. I'm afraid of the isolation and dealing with all this on my own. It feels like once I go, it's going to be over. I'm completely lost and don't know what I'm doing.

Thanks for reading this mini novel! I'd love to hear thoughts about R v D, her and my seeming viability as a candidates for R, if the separation is a good idea, similar experiences, or any advice/support you can come up with.

BH(33)
Together 15YRS, Married 11YRS
No kids
DDay1 (03/23): 6YR intermittent EA (AP#1)
DDay2 (06/23): ONS+ from 6YRS ago (AP#2)

I want to know, do I stay or do I go? And do I have to do just one, and can I choose again if I should lo

posts: 18   ·   registered: Aug. 30th, 2023   ·   location: Wandering
id 8807865
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crazyblindsided ( member #35215) posted at 4:29 PM on Friday, September 15th, 2023

I think the separation would be a great idea. It will give you the space to really figure out what the best outcome will be for YOU. If she continues with her therapy and proves to be remorseful and keeping strict NC with the AP you can always R if that is what you want. Your feelings may change for her with the separation and you may enjoy life not being with her, but you won't know how you feel until you separate.

It still takes 2-5 years to heal from this whether you reconcile or divorce so keep that in mind. It does take a while to heal, but you will heal. Your M will never be the same again, but you can build a new marriage if that is your desire.

fBS/fWS(me):50 Mad-hattered after DD (2008)
XWS:53 Serial Cheater, Diagnosed NPD
DD(20) DS(17)
XWS cheated the entire M spanning 19 years
Discovered D-Days 2006,2008,2012, False R 2014
Divorcing

posts: 8795   ·   registered: Apr. 2nd, 2012   ·   location: California
id 8808003
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Bor9455 ( member #72628) posted at 4:49 PM on Friday, September 15th, 2023

You have no kids and 15 years is a lot of time, but don't get it twisted, you didn't toss away 15 years, she did. I really don't think your WW is even being truthful about her boss as the AP. She met up with her former boss at least twice that you now know about at a hotel in a different city from where you live. Adults that are having an affair that have access to each other end up sleeping together.

Myself - BH & WH - Born 1985 Her - BW & WW - Born 1986

D-Day for WW's EA - October 2017D-Day no it turned PA - February 01, 2020

posts: 667   ·   registered: Jan. 21st, 2020   ·   location: Miami
id 8808006
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SacredSoul33 ( member #83038) posted at 4:50 PM on Friday, September 15th, 2023

Welcome, FairestofSeasons!

I think you're on a great path. Spend some time alone getting to know yourself without her and see what happens. With all the good work that she's doing, it sounds like she might be a good candidate for R.

I know I deserve better, maybe she can be better? Will it matter? Could I ever live with myself if I stayed? I don't know if she can be radically honest, transparent, vulnerable, and emotionally intelligent.

I think the time apart will help you/her figure out if she can change and if you can move forward with her.

Can you live with and truly love the person that gave you PTSD and traumatized you for life? Could I ever trust her after she lied and withheld for six years? Can I trust her after a false reconciliation? Can a serial cheater really change? 15 years together is a lot to throw away, but is this the person I want to spend the next 15 years with?

I think the answer is YES to all of this, though I never experienced false R. I know that's a doozy. My H lied and cheated three times during the first 16 years of our marriage. I found out about all of it at once, and it really traumatized me for a long time. Thankfully, he was able to be radically honest, transparent, vulnerable, and (mostly) emotionally intelligent. The hurt will always be a part of our history, but we've recovered beautifully and are happier now than we've ever been.

HellFire posted something yesterday that really spoke to me: You can R without forgiving every action. That kind of blew my mind. I thought that I needed to forgive everything to be able to heal, but some things just aren't forgivable. My H is not the same person he was when he did those things. He's done the work and he's still working. He ENJOYS the work. It sounds like your W does too, which I think is a good sign.

Remove the "I want you to like me" sticker from your forehead and place it on the mirror, where it belongs. ~ Susan Jeffers

Your nervous system will always choose a familiar hell over an unfamiliar heaven.

posts: 1298   ·   registered: Mar. 10th, 2023
id 8808007
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 5:52 PM on Friday, September 15th, 2023

What stands out to me most about infidelity is that the BS MUST deal with being betrayed. Whether you D or R, you have to accept the A(s) happened.

You also have to accept that they always A down. Your W A'ed down with her aps, and they A'ed down with her.

IOW, no matter whether you D or R, you have a lot of healing to do. D puts her away physically, but if you don't resolve your pain, she'll stay with you. Her betrayal will stay with you.

D & R aren't about the past, they're about your future. What do you want? If you want your W, what work will you do to (re)create a good M? Will she do the necessary work?

Maybe you don't know the answers yet, but IMO, those are the questions to ask yourself and, if R is on the table, your W.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 29992   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8808019
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 FairestotSeasons (original poster new member #83812) posted at 8:35 PM on Friday, September 15th, 2023

Thank you all for your consideration and responses!

@crazyblindsided:
I know that moving is keeping all my options open, but I'm terrified of living alone. Maybe I will like it, but I'm not very optimistic. I'm afraid I'll spend the next six months stewing in depression. I haven't been very good at taking care of myself, which I know this affords an opportunity to improve. I tend to self isolate and most of my friends and connections have moved out of the city since I lived there several years ago.
I see your tag says you're divorcing. Was separating liberating for you? Did you go into it with some enthusiasm or confidence? What did you do to heal on your own? Will I be feeling this pain and carrying this with me regardless of my proximity to her?

@Bor9455:
You're right, she's the one who decided to risk it all for a cheap thrill. Our history and relationship meant a lot to me, and the thought of losing that, even the thought of starting over with someone new, seems terrible.
I'm fairly confident nothing physical happened with AP#1 over the last few years. She was sharing a room with a female coworker at one of the conferences and at the other she didn't stay the night. She did confess to AP#2 (juice boy) without any suspicion from me, including some pretty damning details. Why wouldn't she come clean about AP#1 if I already know she was physical with someone else?

@SacredSoul33:
Thanks for your comments. I hope to get a gage on her continued improvements and progress, but isn't that difficult from afar? Maybe we start trying to date again at some point?
Your husband has been doing the work since 2004? How did you know he had changed for good? Did you have to separate who your husband was during the As with who he is now?

@sisoon:
From your profile it looks like you knew pretty much right away you wanted to stay and work on things? What made you so sure? Do you feel like your healing was facilitated or hindered by staying in proximity to your WW? Was balancing work on the M and your own healing difficult?
I want to heal, I don't want to remain in a victim or wounded mindset. I'm just not sure what that looks like. I've spend so much time trying to answer your question about what I want for the future, coming to no conclusions. I see her doing the work now, I'm not sure if it will persist or if anything she's doing will change a deeply engrained maladaptive coping strategy.

BH(33)
Together 15YRS, Married 11YRS
No kids
DDay1 (03/23): 6YR intermittent EA (AP#1)
DDay2 (06/23): ONS+ from 6YRS ago (AP#2)

I want to know, do I stay or do I go? And do I have to do just one, and can I choose again if I should lo

posts: 18   ·   registered: Aug. 30th, 2023   ·   location: Wandering
id 8808112
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crazyblindsided ( member #35215) posted at 10:18 PM on Friday, September 15th, 2023

Was separating liberating for you? Did you go into it with some enthusiasm or confidence? What did you do to heal on your own? Will I be feeling this pain and carrying this with me regardless of my proximity to her?

Yes separating did feel liberating to me because being in my M felt oppressive and I was suffering with severe depression and anxiety. I wouldn't necessarily say I was confident I just knew I needed the space and once I had it I felt such peace of mind. I did still grieve the M I never had not necessarily my xWS and that my kids would now come from a broken home. It really ended up becoming the best thing I have ever done for myself and my healing.

I read a lot of books, did journaling and meditation. Try to exercise as much as I could. Really leaned on friends and family. My one girlfriend saved my life through this with our many conversations and just spending time together. My therapist whom I was seeing during the M and continue to this day has been a great help.

As far as feeling the pain, I guess it depends on how you feel towards her and also it takes 2-5 years to heal from infidelity whether you separate or divorce. I was fully detached and felt nothing for my ex right before I left. We spent about a year in house separated which was hell on earth and I felt like I couldn't escape quick enough.

The time spent alone helped me to realize I no longer wanted to be in the M or with my xWS and went forward with the D. There are mixed emotions that come with D but they ebb and flow and I just get through them. Life has been so much better for me on the other side of this.

fBS/fWS(me):50 Mad-hattered after DD (2008)
XWS:53 Serial Cheater, Diagnosed NPD
DD(20) DS(17)
XWS cheated the entire M spanning 19 years
Discovered D-Days 2006,2008,2012, False R 2014
Divorcing

posts: 8795   ·   registered: Apr. 2nd, 2012   ·   location: California
id 8808130
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 FairestotSeasons (original poster new member #83812) posted at 11:07 PM on Friday, September 15th, 2023

I'm happy to hear that space gave you some peace.

I've been meaning to make time for books, journaling, and meditation. With trying to sort out the separation, my constant ambivalence, and talking with her, the only thing I've consistently made time for is exercise (which really does make me feel SO much better). Therapy seems to help sometimes, sometimes not. I don't have many connections in the city, I have some friends where I am now, but there's not much opportunity for expanding my network. Thanks for the suggestions.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?), I don't feel detached from her. It's been three months and I don't feel like anything is any clearer. When I take it a day at a time we can have productive conversations, share a laugh, even be intimate. I haven't really been angry over the whole thing, it's more like I'm experiencing anguish. I feel better when she's around and being supportive, but I constantly question a future. I constantly question who she is, if she's manipulating me, if I know everything, if she's being genuine. I feel like a fool and a weak person for even considering staying seeing as we have no kids and divorce would be a fairly straightforward process. But, I think I still love her? I know parts of our relationship were real, I was really very happy and content before D-Day. I loved the life we had together. Maybe that's what you mean by mourning the M instead of your xWH? Maybe I need a dose of reality, but hope still lives in me. Albeit paired with a heavy dose of doubt.

I'm hoping the space will be illuminating. I'm just hoping isolation won't throw me into an even deeper depression. It's not wise, but I almost trust her to take better care of me now than I trust myself.

BH(33)
Together 15YRS, Married 11YRS
No kids
DDay1 (03/23): 6YR intermittent EA (AP#1)
DDay2 (06/23): ONS+ from 6YRS ago (AP#2)

I want to know, do I stay or do I go? And do I have to do just one, and can I choose again if I should lo

posts: 18   ·   registered: Aug. 30th, 2023   ·   location: Wandering
id 8808139
default

SacredSoul33 ( member #83038) posted at 12:42 AM on Saturday, September 16th, 2023

Your husband has been doing the work since 2004?

We did MC together for about two years after DDay, and we had a really great MC. We learned how to problem-solve, and we would gauge things by WWMCD? (Like WWJD) lol We did great for several years, then H's mom moved in with us, Covid hit, and being cooped up with her triggered his childhood trauma issues to bubble up under the surface. He started IC, I started IC, and we've started back with our same MC for quarterly tune-ups. Our marriage has never been better. The more work we do, the better we are, and the better we are together. We understand each other so much better now that we're digging into our own issues and sharing what we're learning. The standard SI advice of seeking IC either before or in tandem with MC is solid. We didn't do that, and I wonder if we'd be back here working on our stuff again had we done IC from the start.

How did you know he had changed for good?

I felt it. I saw it. I'm not sure how to explain it. I just...knew that he was different. We did a LOT of talking the first few years. Every night we sat down after the kids had gone to bed and checked in with each other. He reassured me that he'd never cheat on me again, but he was downright adamant that he would never hurt himself like that again. And that was even more reassuring than his promises to me, really. I needed to hear often that he wouldn't stray again, and he patiently gave that to me.

Did you have to separate who your husband was during the As with who he is now?

My H confessed to everything all at once, which I think hugely affected my ability to see him as a changed person. Before, he did what he wanted and he hid things from me. He played the nice guy, but he had a dark, dark secret life. He was tired of living in the dark and feeling awful so he dragged it all out into the light and let the chips fall where they may. He fully expected me to leave him, and when I didn't, and when I still loved him and wanted to work things out, he felt like he was worth loving. Before, he didn't. I think that's also part of the answer to your other question about how I knew he had changed for good.

Remove the "I want you to like me" sticker from your forehead and place it on the mirror, where it belongs. ~ Susan Jeffers

Your nervous system will always choose a familiar hell over an unfamiliar heaven.

posts: 1298   ·   registered: Mar. 10th, 2023
id 8808147
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Abalone123 ( member #82896) posted at 4:39 AM on Saturday, September 16th, 2023

This move is your one golden chance to get out of the codependency, be confident, build your self esteem. You should then revisit if you still want to be married or divorced. Right now codependency is clouding your judgment and you are not in a position to take the right decision. Give it time.

posts: 284   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2023
id 8808159
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 FairestotSeasons (original poster new member #83812) posted at 5:10 AM on Saturday, September 16th, 2023

@SacredSoul33:

Glad to hear the work has continued on both fronts and that you feel your marriage is more vulnerable than ever.
We've been going to IC from the beginning. She set up an appointment for me with a great therapist. I'm sad I'll have to give him up in the move and find someone licensed in my new state. Our communication has improved greatly through this whole process. I've gotten better at creating a safe space to share and she's become more forthcoming and less defensive. In the moment we're able to identify dynamics from the relationship before that haven't served us, take note, and modify. Seeing improvements like this makes me question leaving right now, but I still see the benefits of proving to myself that I can and will survive without her.

I'm seeing change in her, but things are still so fresh. It's hard to know if the changes are here to stay, and she still has a lot of growing to do in terms of her avoidant attachment, transparency, and emotional intelligence. She's still a fundamentally selfish person, I don't know if that will ever change. She's happy to talk about herself and her journey, generally asks about me, but doesn't REALLY seem to have a deep curiosity about my experience. Her intentions and motivation seem right, but show time is different. I haven't seen her challenged. Sounds like consistency solidified trust in the change.

False R and TT really did some damage. It's hard to fully believe anything she says. The story has been consistent for a few months now and she's shared some really challenging things to hear. On the final D-Day (when the PA was disclosed) I knew nothing about AP#2 and had no suspicion there was anything more than the EA with her and AP#1. I don't know if she disclosed it because she knew I was softening on the EA and might forgive the PA, or if she finally realized living with lies was not a life she wanted. I'll probably never know. I'd like to believe that she finally 'woke up' and was willing to face the consequences. I think she knew I would be very inclined to D, but shared anyway. Maybe there's something redeeming there?

Thanks again for sharing your story and I'm so happy you found a (mostly) happy resolution to this terrible experience we're all going through.

BH(33)
Together 15YRS, Married 11YRS
No kids
DDay1 (03/23): 6YR intermittent EA (AP#1)
DDay2 (06/23): ONS+ from 6YRS ago (AP#2)

I want to know, do I stay or do I go? And do I have to do just one, and can I choose again if I should lo

posts: 18   ·   registered: Aug. 30th, 2023   ·   location: Wandering
id 8808161
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 FairestotSeasons (original poster new member #83812) posted at 5:17 AM on Saturday, September 16th, 2023

@Abalone123:
When I'm thinking completely unemotionally, I know you're right. I have a lot of work to do on myself. I am dependent on her. She's a bit of a control freak and has managed our lives meticulously and well. I've stunted myself in a lot of ways by not taking more ownership over taking care of myself. I isolated myself from supportive friends and growth experiences to spend time with her. This is what I need, but it's incredibly difficult to feel alone for the first time in my life. I have a lot of fear that I'm going to let myself down, but the only way to prove that I can make it on my own is to do it. I can, I must, I will.
Thanks for the support! If you're comfortable sharing your experience I'd love to know if you struck out on your own and found something worthwhile. Or if you stayed and found a partner worthwhile.

BH(33)
Together 15YRS, Married 11YRS
No kids
DDay1 (03/23): 6YR intermittent EA (AP#1)
DDay2 (06/23): ONS+ from 6YRS ago (AP#2)

I want to know, do I stay or do I go? And do I have to do just one, and can I choose again if I should lo

posts: 18   ·   registered: Aug. 30th, 2023   ·   location: Wandering
id 8808163
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leafields ( Guide #63517) posted at 6:38 AM on Saturday, September 16th, 2023

My XWH is a diagnosed covert narc, and I've suffered years of abuse from him. I also didn't have a great childhood and am a CSA (childhood sexual abuse survivor). I'm 60 and have never met my father because I'm an OC. I didn't cheat.

I said that to give you a little perspective. She didn't cheat because you were abusive. She didn't cheat because she has FOO issues. She cheated because she has moral issues and is ok with cheating.

At this point, watch actions and don't listen to words. If she digs deep and does the work to be a safe partner, that's great. It's tough when the WS is a serial cheater. Not saying it can't be done, but it is difficult.

BW M 34years, Dday 1: March 2018, Dday 2: August 2019, D final 2/25/21

posts: 3467   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2018   ·   location: Washington State
id 8808167
Topic is Sleeping.
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