I agree that no two APs are the same. Just like WS’ there are similar themes than run through many of their stories, but each is still unique.
I thought it was interesting when I was accused of giving my husband a “pass”. I know he did it because he wanted to - I never thought otherwise (nor has he ever said he wasn’t 100% at fault).
But I also know there are complex reasons behind the thoughts and feelings that built up to make him justify that behavior, that “want”. And I have sought to understand those - for my own sanity and to gather whatever wisdom I could from the sh*tstorm. So if that is giving him a pass, well... then in a way I was/am trying to give her one too. To understand her not as a cardboard villain - but a human being that made decisions that were not in her own best interest and were likely to hurt her and others.
For me, once I can understand something, I can find a way to forgive it. And honestly, I have wanted to forgive her as much as I have my husband because I don’t want to poison my own heart with bitterness.
Interstingly, as I read the responses, I realized two important things -
I can’t expect to see into her heart through other people’s eyes. Because we ALL see everything from our own experiences and perspectives. So what I am really getting is each person’s feelings of what they experienced.
That being said, based on the communications I saw, her reactions on DDay and more - I think I have an idea of her thinking.
I think she was a lonely woman who was having serious confidence issues after being dumped by her boyfriend after she caught him cheating on her. I think she idolized my husband for his success at work and was envious of our marriage. But I honestly don’t think she expected to have an affair with him in the beginning. Maybe I am being too kind, but I don’t think so.
I think she just thought he was a good guy that was lonely and wanting to explore the city the same way she did. I think he actually seemed “safe” - someone she could look up to, be mentored by, flirt a little with and enjoy some attention from - without it really going anywhere. I actually think the fact that she did believe he loved me deeply made her think that it was a “safe” friendship and harmless flirtation.
And in the beginning, I think my husband thought they could be friends and he could enjoy the warm fuzzy feelings of being looked up to without it ever going anywhere.
Butthey were both wrong.
My husband was putting on a facade of “having it all” - when he was actually feeling really lost. He was having trouble showing anyone - even me or his mom how much losing his father had shattered him. He was feeling lonely in a strange city and hurt by what saw as me “putting everyone else first”. (On a side note - while that wasn’t a fair assessment - there was some truth to the fact that I took him for granted during this period. It was a hard time and I think we were both guilty of that - it doesn’t justify his choices, but it does provide context).
I think during this period they were hanging out as friends - during lunch and the occasional after work happy hour and he would share his disappointment that, once again, I wasn’t going to be able to come for this event or that... etc. He has said that in the month or two before the affair started she asked why i didn’t visit more often and he’d told her that he was worried about us. That he worried that I’d grown used to us living apart - that it didn’t seem to bother me like it did him and that sometimes it felt like we were living two separate lives (we kind of were) and he hated it.
I think somewhere in here is where her intention may have changed/become convoluted. I think she began to believe that while might love my husband, I wasn’t “in love” with him. I mean, I didn’t work and he always constantly begging me to come and visit - so if I really loved him - I would, right? I think that thinking was how she justified her part.
And on his side, he was finally getting the attention he felt I had been denying him. She looked up to him and saw him as this vibrant, successful man in the peak of his life (the opposite of what he was feeling). It’s a painfully classic midlife crisis. I wish it was unique - but it wasn’t.
My husband has said that when he looks back on it, it was just pure fantasy - on both their parts. They each needed someone to make them feel better about themselves at a time when they felt crappy inside. So rather than really see the other person - they saw the reflection of a fantasy they built.
He’s said that it shames him to realize how badly he used her - that he never even really got to know her that well. Not really. Only how her attention made him feel. And that when she told him she thought she loved him and he said it back to her, he knew he shouldn’t be saying it - because he didn’t really know how he felt about her. He knew he cared about her - and in some ways he wanted to believe he loved her because otherwise he had to face that he was betraying me AND using her - all to make himself feel better like a junkie uses drugs.
I think she (and he) were emotionally weak, at a bad place in their life and wanting someone, anyone to put them first. I believe for a time they found great comfort in one another - but because it was based more on their own neediness, rather than falling in with someone else’s unique qualities and values, it had no “meat”.
Sadly, their cure for loneliness created far more heartache for everyone - including themselves. My husband who I had only seen cry a handful of times in his life, has wept repeatedly from shame and regret. For how he let me, our daughter and himself down. How he used, hurt and rejected a young woman who had already been hurt and rejected. How he disappointed his and my extended family. It is not who he thought he was - or who he wanted to be.
So he is doing the work now to become more emotionally healthy, resilient and authentic. This finally made him realize that success isn’t about your bank account - it’s about being strong enough to act with integrity even when life has you on your knees. For being capable of staying true to who you are and your ideals even when it’s really, really hard.
The last few days of reflection have made me realize that I have finally gotten to a place where I wish her no ill will. I hope she’s doink well - that she has done the work to make herself a more emotionally healthy person. I hope she is making better choices for herself. I hope she finds happiness - in an honest way with her integrity intact. We have enough damaged people running around creating pain in their wake. We need more of them to wake up, and work to heal themselves so they stop causing so much havoc.
Its sad that it usually takes something big like this or a drug addiction for people to stop saying “I’m fine” and be willing to finally take an honest look at their baggage.
And then there are those who never do and have one broken marriage/relationship after another... even sadder. For them and wven more for the people they leave in their wake.
Okay, another long post but I am happy to report that this really was cathartic for me. It was a last remaining piece that I had trouble fitting in and now it feels pretty complete.
I may be giving them both a “pass” in trying to give them deeply selfish, but not inhuman reasons for their actions but I am not sure I care. Trying to see their actions from a different, less deliberately cruel and more just painfully self-centered perspective is allowing me to let go, and move forward. I feel much more at peace and am thinking about retiring from this forum for a while. It’s been so helpful and I admire all the people here trying to make the best out of one of life’s most painful experiences.
I just think I am ready to stop making this the focus of my life. I still think there’s healing and learning to be done, for both my husband and myself for a long while. Maybe forever.
But I want to begin to move past it. This isn’t what I want written on my tombstone. So it’s time to begin to think about my life in terms of new horizons, new projects and new goals. I am so grateful to all the people here who helped me get to that place.