strength1
I'd love to hear from women who were the OW.

I'm in the situation where H tells me (his wife) he's emotionally attached and in love with the OW but at the same wonders what the hell he's doing, that she's like a drug, that when he thinks of his retirement he sees it with me, that he has his doubts about the relationship with OW, that he's lost himself completely, that he's living in the present in a bad way, etc.  He's in tears every time we speak about this, and I should say that until this affair started, he was to me and our friends and family the symbol of integrity and wisdom. 

So he tells me that he has not spoken to OW  about his turmoil.  Is this common??  I mean, how in love can he be with someone who doesn't know a major part of his life right now?  Also, is she wondering why he hasn't introduced her to any of his family or friends?  Or why he doesn't take her to places where they can been seen together?  He says that when he met her he told her we were living like brother and sister (we were not).  What feelings will she be going through? Jealousy? Indifference? 

 
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EasyAsABC
I think OW are few and far between on here, especially active ones. 

I’ve already shared a fair bit of my story with you, but I think it’s important to remember that he’s likely two different people, the version of him he shares with you is likely much different than the version of him he shares with her. 

I have no way of knowing exactly what my attached man shared with his partner, I know what he chose to share with me. My understanding from him was that she found out about the affair, asked him to make a decision, and his public decision was to stay there and try to make things work.
We continued seeing each other in secret for 4-5 months after he “decided” to stay with her and work things out. The entire time he kept telling me that he was still conflicted, but hiding it from her, that he was worried he made a mistake, that part of him wished she just wanted to end things to make it easier for him. He told me he didn’t love her, he just didn’t want to hurt her any further. That he was absolutely terrified he was giving up real love in order to stay with her, and he was upset when he thought about the idea of continuing on in a relationship he never felt passionate about because of obligation only. 

We talked endlessly about this, about how he didn’t want another man in his child’s life, which was one of his main motivators for staying. About how he felt like we could never continue to have a public relationship because of the way our relationship was found out, and how it affected his daughters mother. One of the real turning points for him was when his partner said she wouldn’t hesitate to find someone else to live her life with, they have a fairly young child, and he was upset that his child might call someone else “dad”. After that conversation it became all about how to make things tolerable for him, and the conversations about whether or not he made the right decision slowed. 

When I chose to end things, he would still message me to let me know he missed me, that he was still struggling with keeping his inner turmoil undetectable, and that he still wished there was a way for us to be together instead. That pulled me back in a couple times, but eventually I had enough. It didn’t matter what his words said, his actions were never going to line up with that. 
We had an argument, he told me I “wasn’t the first, but I’d be the last”. So I did something kind of shady, and catfished him, within 12 hours he was driving to a pretend woman’s house to have sex with her, I called him out on it when he showed up to a vacant house, and things were never the same between us. Which is a good thing. It helped give me some closure, and the shame he felt afterwards helped him to stop contacting me. 

I did slip up recently and contact him, I have major issues with depression, and I felt isolated and like I wanted to end my life. I messaged him, we talked a bit and he told me again that he wasn’t happy with his life, but that he felt it was a sacrifice he needed to make for his child. We haven’t talked since. 

Anyway, I guess my point is that, this was just MY take on it. I have no clue what he told her, and she has no clue what he told me. He’s a liar, so for all I know while he was telling me he thought he made a mistake, he was telling her I was the mistake. I’m sure he just told us both what we needed to hear to stay interested in him. I wouldn’t doubt that’s what your husband is doing as well. 
BS to an abusive H 2009-2018
OW 2018-2019
I wear many hats.
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strength1
“I’m sure he just told us both what we needed to hear to stay interested in him. I wouldn’t doubt that’s what your husband is doing as well. “

I think you just hit the nail on the head here.  I will never comprehend this male ability to put things and people in boxes and just opening one when in front of it.  You have made me feel better.  

Keep strong, EasyasABC. You are helping people like me tremendously.


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anthro

strength1 wrote:
I will never comprehend this male ability to put things and people in boxes and just opening one when in front of it.  You have made me feel better.

There is nothing "male" about this. It is a common feature in both men and women.

I am not saying that because I am offended by sexism or anything. I think it's important to be clear that this is not a male trait because otherwise you might be inclined to think that it is somehow a little more excusable since he's male and men are made that way, or something like that. 

Being too good at compartmentalising comes from a lack of integrity. Literally - it is a failure to integrate. It leads to all kinds of moral catastrophes not just infidelity. 

I have been thinking about your posts quite a bit and have started a few replies then ditched them., I really feel you are being far more sympathetic to your husband than he deserves. It's not always really simple to tell if someone is a bad person but sometimes it is. If someone is doing something really bad, then you can assume he's a bad person. If someone is being cruel, then that's a cruel person. If someone is being selfish, then that's a selfish person. Maybe he used to be a good, kind, unselfish person. Maybe he will be again one day. But right now he is most definitely a bad, cruel, selfish person, and what you should do if there's a bad, cruel, selfish person in your life is take very definite, very active, very positive steps to remove that person from your life.

If or when he is no longer a bad, cruel, selfish person you can entertain the idea of allowing him back into your world in some capacity. But even then, in only the most guarded and distant way.

Formerly known as Anthropoidape... male bs, long affair, d-day Feb 2017.
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strength1
“But right now he is most definitely a bad, cruel, selfish person, and what you should do if there's a bad, cruel, selfish person in your life is take very definite, very active, very positive steps to remove that person from your life”.

Thank you Anthro.  My best friend called what he is doing to me “inhuman”.

I need all the experienced advice I can get at the moment. Family doesn’t know about OW, most friends don’t even know we are “separated”. I’m doing this to give us a fighting chance of saving this relationship, but now I think I should just expose it.  At any rate my point is that I can’t talk about it with friends and family, which is why the advice of people like you is so valuable to me.

Incidentally he wanted to sometimes live in the family home and sometimes in his rented room- I put a stop to that when I found out about OW. 

My next step  is to ask him to keep completely away from the family home for the next 2 weeks.  I need to detoxify myself completely, to achieve a peace of mind which allows me to take the step after that.
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anthro
Just to add to this....

He is not indecisive or in turmoil. He is making decisions; he is actually being quite decisive. It's just that he is not making a this-one-or-that-one choice... because there's no pressing reason for him to do that.

He is not in any more turmoil than he chooses to be in. He's not a guy whose life has gone off the rails; he's not sleeping in gutters. He is not having so much difficulty controlling his impulses that he has punched a policeman or stolen from a supermarket. He is in just as much turmoil as he believes he can safely be in. If the consequences were different, his behaviour would be different. 

It reminds me a bit of those guys who hit their wives and say, "I couldn't help it, I lost control". And yet strangely those guys always have the ability to control themselves when there's a cop nearby or they are faced with someone bigger and stronger. They never "lose control" and hit someone twice their size, they only "lose control" when it's actually pretty safe for them to do so.

He is in a safe zone and is keeping himself quite carefully in that safe zone, he is just as out-of-control as he believes will work for him, he is making very clear choices and they are deliberate. Frankly he is having the time of his life. So much drama, all centred on him! 

And yes, the isolation is one of the hardest things about this and the difficulty you have in talking to anyone is one of the factors that is enabling him.
Formerly known as Anthropoidape... male bs, long affair, d-day Feb 2017.
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strength1
Thank you Anthro, your words resonate with me.  It’s clear to me now that the behaviour won’t change unless the consequences become different. 2 weeks ago I told him he had a month to leave her or I will file for divorce. I believe he thinks my love for him is too strong for me to want to do anything like that.  This is why he checks in with me occasionally.  

Seen in the picture you’re drawing him in, I have to admit he has been and is being ugly and cruel.  He is now not even a shadow of the man I knew and loved for 20 years.  All of this change in 2 years.
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ThrivenotSurvive
I agree with Anthro.  I am not saying that WS aren't going through something emotionally that causes them to act out.  Otherwise, they'd have been cheating our whole lives - not for the first time 20+ years into it.  BUT, they are sill cognizant of their choices - and they are CHOOSING what feels good to them.  

Someone addicted to food knows it is making them fat - but the short term relief/enjoyment of getting to eat what they are craving is more important than their long term health.  

Same here.  He MAY be in an emotional state - but he knows what he is doing is wrong for everyone involved - but he is too chickensh*t to do anything about it.  And likely won't until someone forces his hand.  

He has been willing to hurt and humiliate you for TWO YEARS.  Think about that.  He's not even hiding it - he's flaunting it.  He is willing to risk you children's happiness and well-being by flaunting his behavior.  He is also setting them up to believe that this is an acceptable way to be treated by someone who says they "love" you.  Unfortunately, you are as well as long as you are willing to put up with it.  I know this is an unfair burden thrust upon you, but it is another crappy aspect of this situation. 

I reconciled with my husband. But I made it clear that I would move on asap if he wasn't sure what he wanted.  Not to punish him, but to give myself what I deserved - a loving. loyal relationship.  I know how hard this is.  Believe me, finding the place in me that was ready and prepared to leave was HARD.  I still loved my husband but I reminded myself that I LOVED ME TOO.  And I wanted to model for my daughter that forgiveness and compassion are wonderful traits to embody - but not an excuse to allow yourself to be mistreated.  

I remember telling my husband, "I love you - and I likely always will to some degree.  But the fires of love need to be nurtured to stay hot - and I can stop nurturing it today.  I know I deserve a hell of a lot more than this and I plan on having the marriage I deserve - with or without you.  So make sure you know what you want - because I REFUSE to compete for your love. Go no contact and work on this marriage - or I will take that as my cue to start entertaining my own options outside this relationship." My husband knew I was as good as my word.  I'd already had a few guys offering to "be there for me" during this difficult time (super classy.)  Before then he was a kid looking at two toys - a long term favorite - and a shiny new one.  But now I was threatening to take away that good ole favorite - and suddenly the shiny new one looked less exciting or fulfilling.  Obviously there was a lot more to the story - but it boiled down to a decision that he had to make.  NOW.

However - and I stress this - I MEANT EVERY WORD I SAID.  I was surprised I was even giving him a chance and my pride was just about DONE with the situation.  I was not prepared to sit around and watch him "decide".  I was happy to decide FOR HIM. 

You need to start loving YOU, the way you've loved him.  Extend yourself the love, compassion and understanding that he's been benefiting from.  Ask yourself - if your daughter was in this situation (even after so many years of marriage) what would you tell her?  What would you want for her?  

I am so sorry that your husband is spiraling in his self-made midlife crisis.  But you need to protect YOU.  A woman of your value has many other options. let him know you plan to start exercising them.
BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child
DD May 2016

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl
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hurting
Excellent points above. 

Easy said it perfectly. My WS has also said the same thing to me. He would tell her (the OW) whatever it took to keep her around. He thought he would always have ME around. 

Your WS’s actions are inhumane. He is purposefully choosing to do this to you and your family. Although I understand you want to reconcile, he is taking this as an opportunity to continue his affair and bad behaviour. He is too certain that you will not leave. 

Yet... that is completely up to you. Are you ok with being his fall back option? Are you ok with what he’s doing? If the answer is NO, then it is time to make that clear to him. But be prepared to back your words up with actions, as Thrive said. Be prepared to walk away. 

This is why going to the lawyer now is important. It’s about getting your ducks in a row, and taking stock of where you stand. 

I know it doesn’t feel that way, but you CAN make these choices. And they will subsequently put you in a position of power, rather than keep you in limbo as letting him continue for the next month will do. You do not owe him anything, least of all another MONTH to continue to have an affair in your face!! 

The key key thing here is that although he can make a choice to continue his affair, YOU too have a choice. To not allow him to continue to hurt you. Each person can only control their own actions. By taking yourself out of this twisted triangle that he has forced you to be in, you let him see what his actions have forced upon both of you, you start to focus on yourself rather than on him not ‘choosing’ you, and he gets a taste of the consequences of his poor choices.

Keep him out of the family home, STOP talking to him for the next few weeks and go see the lawyer.  Show him you’re serious and what he is doing is unacceptable. Show him you won’t be his second choice. 
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jasmine
It’s always been one of my “life rules” to never have an affair with a married man, and I never have. Simply because it’s not in my nature to have much tolerance for all the drama and fever pitch emotionality that seems to go with the territory. However, when I was much younger I was pursued by a somewhat older man (40) who was very probably going through all that midlife garbage. Being considerably younger than him, he just became a sad joke. But anyway..... after getting to know him slightly and either on or after the first date, he told me he was involved with someone who wanted him to marry her. She was closer to his age, about 37 or 38. He portrayed her as a spoilt princess who was mentally unstable. She was under the impression that he was about to propose to her and he didn’t believe in marriage. After this date he was then going on to her house. 

My reaction was, I really cannot be bothered with all this psychodrama. I don’t voluntarily sign up to be part of someone else’s problem. There were better looking guys of my own age, in better shape, and romantically unattached, without all his stupid psychobabble. So that was that. I put it down to experience and moved on 

For months afterwards he became the butt of my jokes, this 40 year old saddo who thought he was 20, with all his pipe dreams of hitchhiking around Europe and growing his hair long in the hippy fashion of his youth, which was long gone. Many many years later I was in a department store, I was coming down the escalator when I saw this character on the floor below, he was accompanied by a woman who was busy looking at something whilst he stood around looking bored. I don’t know if he saw me or even if he would recognise me. This was 20+ years later. I have no idea whether he was with his mentally unstable princess. I didn’t care.

 I guess what I’m saying here is that even as an unintentional and unwittingly almost-OW it was the same old same old — that his girlfriend/fiancée or whatever was this needy, pitiful type that he didn’t want to be with but of course there was no way he could break it off because she was too emotionally fragile to deal with it. I don’t know what the reality of this relationship was and I didn’t hang around to find out. Was she the woman he was with in the department store? Who knows? Who cares? Whoever he was with I feel sorry that she’s landed this a-hole. 

I don’t know what role I was recruited for to play in his life, but I did feel used. At that age I was an ambitious young hopeful attempting to get ahead and he set himself up as a kind of mentor who could help me in my career. In the end he scuppered my opportunities and effectively blackballed me. That wasn’t a nice experience.

I am not aware that his girlfriend/fiancée ever even knew of my existence. I suspect she never did. But one thing that is apparent is the same pattern of lies — they’re in a long term/permanent relationship or marriage, they’re so sad/unhappy/frustrated/trapped but they can’t end it because either she has some kind of emotional instability or she’d make his life difficult. But you, as the AP, are so damn hot or special or “the one” — but boohoo – if it wasn’t for Mrs Misery you’d be soulmates. 
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strength1
Thanks to all for your very valuable advice.  A small update, thanks also to your advice:  

Today I told him I’d rather he didn’t approach me for the next two weeks, that I was aware of what the OW was posting on social media (“love” and photos which, I am sure now, she knows I was seeing),  that I meant what I said 2 weeks ago (leave her within a month or I will seek a divorce, and that “I give up” he asked me to try if I can to give him time to sort himself out. He told me he has an appointment with a psychologist I recommended specialised in infidelity, relationships etc on Tuesday.  This is good news since I hope he will begin to get out of the well he’s in at the moment.   

I will still see a lawyer, at the very least to keep me grounded and to prepare me for the eventuality.
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ThrivenotSurvive
I am glad you are putting boundaries in place.  He's been able to have access to you and your kindness/understanding without giving anything back but hurt for far too long.  The fact that he's actually had the nerve to ask you to "wait" while he spends his time with someone else is truly next-level selfishness. 

Whatever transpires from here, do not underestimate the effects of this experience on you.  It is easy to become so focused on our spouses and the AP that everything becomes about them.  What they are thinking, feeling, why did they do this or that, what do they want?  etc...

Whenever/Wherever possible, you need to do the opposite.  Every time you start to go down that path, turn it around.  What am I feeling?  What do I want?  What do I need to heal from this mess?  Consider therapy for yourself - to help rebuild and repair any parts of you that were damaged in these events.  Take part in activities that remind you of your best qualities - the parts of yourself that you like most.  Take care of yourself - mentally, physically, emotionally.  Seek those things that build you up - and say NO to anything that drains you or makes you feel bad about yourself.  INCLUDING your husband.  

If he decides he want the marriage, this is going to be a long, hard road.  His affair was one blow, his indecision in ending it was another, his willingness to keep you in a state of suspended animation is another, his cruelty in openly involving her in his life telling close friends about her and getting a place for the two of them to be together is even one more.  His betrayal is layers deep.  And you haven't even begun to be able to deal with them yet because he's kept everyone in limbo.  The healing hasn't even begun.

There will be a LOT to overcome for you to ever feel truly safe, nurtured and loved in this relationship even if he realizes that is what HE wants.  Because up until now it's all been about his decision.  In some very fundamental ways, you were fighting (emotionally) to remind him of your value, your importance to his life.  I may be wrong, BUT, I think there is a chance that in expending all that energy on reminding him of what he might lose... has left precious little energy for you to consider what you will be getting - if he decides to stay.   

You may find that when he's finally decided  and standing in front of you, ready to reconcile - you may feel more ambivalence that you might think.  I know that even though my husband knew within 24 hours that was what he wanted (it took me longer) - I certainly did not feel suddenly safe or valued.  If I had been, I wouldn't have been in that situation in the first place. 

I am not saying to not hope for reconciliation - only you know your heart and your marriage.  But i do want you to understand that if he does decide he wants to come home - it will likely be the hardest thing you will have ever experienced.  No lie.  I had a husband that was committed from the get-go and did everything about 90% right.  Even though we emerged the other side happy - I can honestly say it was HELL for the first 18 months or so.  Then bumpy for the next year after that.  And we had FAR less challenges than you and your husband are facing.  

I encourage you to spend these two weeks of respite searching YOUR heart and mind for what you really want and deserve and most importantly - if you think you can ever get past all the decisions he's made and see him in a loving, positive light again.  If not, do yourself a favor and move on.  Either direction will have pain,now you just have to figure  out which path has less. 

Consider getting a therapist of your own.  Because you will need to have very strong, well-thought out reasons for even attempting to reconcile (if that is what he wants.)  And you will need to lean on them when the going gets tough during reconciliation (and it will.)  

And more important than ALL of that - you need to focus on your own healing because the only thing sure in this situation is YOU.  You will be living with YOU for the rest of your life.  So, make sure that the one person you really can count on is take care of and heals emotionally from this life-threatening gut wound.  It will likely take serious effort on your part to fully bounce back from this - to return to previous levels of joy, contentment, self-confidence.  But you owe it yourself to place MORE emphasis on that, than on saving the marriage.  The marriage is a two person job.  Your health and well-being is all your responsibility (sucks, but it is true of all of us.)

Sending you peace at this painful time. Thrive
BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child
DD May 2016

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl
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jasmine
ThrivenotSurvive has said it all. This is the voice of experience. I can’t express this enough but THERE IS NO GOING BACK TO THE WAY THINGS USED TO BE. If I am honest, I believed we could put the clock back to how things were in the very early days of recovery. I know better now. 

The biggest issues for me were the lies, deception and manipulation. My husband continued to lie after d day and that was enormously damaging. There were parts of my husband’s past that I never suspected. It all trickled out. You say that you did everything together and that you’d know if there had been any previous infidelities — but you also say that this affair had been going on for two years and you had no clue. I’m not saying your husband had been unfaithful before this affair but he was able to pull off a huge deception whilst you believed he was your soulmate. It’s really, really tough to come to terms with that degree of deception. It is going to blow your trust apart, believe me. 

As ThrivenotSurvive says, if you reconcile it’s going to be the biggest challenge of your relationship, as well as the biggest re-appraisal of your own life. Whatever happens, you still need to centre your own needs as part of your recovery from this mess. 
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strength1
jasmine wrote:
ThrivenotSurvive has said it all. This is the voice of experience. I can’t express this enough but THERE IS NO GOING BACK TO THE WAY THINGS USED TO BE. If I am honest, I believed we could put the clock back to how things were in the very early days of recovery. I know better now. 

The biggest issues for me were the lies, deception and manipulation. My husband continued to lie after d day and that was enormously damaging. There were parts of my husband’s past that I never suspected. It all trickled out. You say that you did everything together and that you’d know if there had been any previous infidelities — but you also say that this affair had been going on for two years and you had no clue. I’m not saying your husband had been unfaithful before this affair but he was able to pull off a huge deception whilst you believed he was your soulmate. It’s really, really tough to come to terms with that degree of deception. It is going to blow your trust apart, believe me. 

As ThrivenotSurvive says, if you reconcile it’s going to be the biggest challenge of your relationship, as well as the biggest re-appraisal of your own life. Whatever happens, you still need to centre your own needs as part of your recovery from this mess. 


I have no hope that we could put the clock back to how things were. This would be starting from scratch, with a lot of help.

Yes, we did not everything together. The only reason I did not find out earlier was because the affair was, up until 2 months ago, a long-distance relationship.  
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strength1
The fact that he's actually had the nerve to ask you to "wait" while he spends his time with someone else is truly next-level selfishness. 


OK, he didn't ASK me to wait.  I asked HIM, whether in a world without selfishness he would want me to wait.  After reflection he said yes.  In that same conversation I asked him if he felt he was "over" me, and he said "no.   This was the first clue I got from him that he was not in love with the OW as he had said. 

Thank you for your wise insight into how hard reconciliation would be for me, I have absolutely no doubt.  Yes, I might come to regret it.    Why am I then considering it? Because I believe that the good which comes out of 20 years of a marriage with a solid foundation to a good person cannot be allowed to dissolve after 2 years of difficulty (admittedly extreme difficulty).  Our marriage was not perfect, as no marriage is, but we were first and foremost each other's best friends.  It is clear to both of us now that we should have done much more talking about the things of the heart (and the bed). We didn't, because for all intents and purposes we were getting along so well and we were so concentrated with putting the children first that we didn't see we were actually heading towards a cliff.   Hindsight is a good teacher.  I'm learning so much about me, my husband, the languages of love, the effect of trauma in youth when some people hit midlife. 
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