ImperfectlyPerfect

I am the BS, and I am posting my story in the hopes that someone, anyone, (unfortunately) has been in a similar situation. To date even my therapist feels that my situation is unique and that has left me feeling utterly alone. My WS and I have been together nearly 15 years, married 12 years in October, and have 2 children together.

My WH, his AP, and I all worked for the same company, and I was friendly with her in the professional world, as was my WH. My WH and I live in the US, while the AP lives in India. In July 2017, I was laid off from the company, and shortly thereafter, the AP and I became FB friends followed by my WH joining the FB world. I knew she and him would talk, but he said it was work-related and being that they were in the same department, and I NEVER thought my husband would betray me, I thought nothing of it. In January 2018, I went back to school for my MBA, October 2018 I started a new job, and in September 2019 my husband was laid off from the company and started a new job.

Fast forward to quarantine 2020, and by May, I noticed him going outside to take phone calls around the same time each day far from my earshot. I would find him walking the woods of our property when he was supposed to be "cleaning up the yard," and then I heard him talking about his father's death on the front porch of our house when the window was closed and he thought I couldn't hear... He swore it was innocent and made me feel guilty for questioning his conversation by asking my permission to call what I found out later was the AP a couple days later. I started to consider that his phone never left his side, I had no idea who he was talking to and l was not comfortable not knowing what they were talking about.

June 5, 2020, we had a nice night together, homemade charcuterie, some drinks, binge watched Outlander... and I came up to bed to find his phone laying freely on my side of the bed. I picked it up, opened Whatsapp, searched her name, and my world was instantly shattered, my heart splintered, my world crushed, and my life sent into a state of vertigo. After hours of screaming, crying, anger, despair, and whatever else that transpired, I was told it was a 6m emotional affair with no sexual involvement. He immediately said that while he loves her, it is not the same love that he has for me, and that he never even thought of leaving me for her. I told him to choose right then and there. He called AP that night without hesitation to end it, and I called her as well to make it clear she is not welcome in our lives.

Fast forward 6 weeks, through endless conversations and tears on both our parts, he was remorseful, attentive, exactly what I thought he should be. Then I found files on his phone of Whatsapp conversations with the AP of a romantic (not sexual) nature from as far back as April 2018. I confronted him. He says he thought it would hurt me less if I didn't know how long it had gone on... my response was "F you, don't try to "protect me" or decide what I should or should not know." The "friendship" apparently became an EA about the time I began my MBA program (Mind you, we both work FT and have two kids together), so approximately 2.5 years.

We are now 10 weeks out, and there was been no contact, he has been remorseful, completely transparent, attentive to my needs, we have been able to start really connecting again, he has started counseling (I was already), we have MC coming up, and we are trying to move forward.

If you have stuck with me thusfar, thank you. This is where I am struggling...

1. Am I alone in the world where my WS truly had an EA with someone he has never met and there was no sexual involvement?

2. He says he loves her... how can you love someone that you have never met, someone that you have mostly conversed with via a messenger app. Due to the time difference, they very rarely talked via phone... is this affair fog?

3. Am I naive to think that our relationship is real while the one he had with the AP is not?

4. How do I begin moving forward instead of focusing on the details of the affair?

Thank you everyone for reading my saga. There is so much more that I know feeds into our situation, but this is the "short" version of the story. I am sorry we are all here, it is a sh*tty club to be in, but not everything in life is a choice, huh?

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AnywhereButHere

Hello ImperfectlyPerfect,

Sorry life has brought you here.

“…my response was ‘F you, don't try to ‘protect me’ or decide what I should or should not know."

Well put. In the aftermath of my wife’s 6 month EA, one of the things I resented most was be ‘managed’ by her – that, and her continual mitigating and walking-back prior claims. Of course, wayward spouses have no clue as to what they should be doing in this situation…any more than we, the newly betrayed, do.

You’re not really alone. In this hyper-communication age, many EAs happen between people who never meet and the sexual involvement is only what may be conducted over social media and email – inappropriate flirting, sexting and photo exchanges, etc.

It sounds as if the two of you are on the right track and that he is committed to repairing the marriage he has damaged.  After 2.5 years of inappropriate involvement, I would have to believe his feelings for this other woman are genuine…but their relationship is still not something that can be compared with a committed 12-year marriage that included rearing two children. An affair is, typically, all the elation of a relationship without the struggle, the battles of life that you and your husband fought together and the baggage that accumulates but that two spouses willingly carry for love of one another. Your confusion is likely over the question as to why, given all the two of you have built over the years, would he invest time in something of so little value by comparison? When I considered this question in regards to my wife, all I could come up with, the only thing that made sense was this: She is stupid. Hearing this, your husband may raise his hand and stay, “Guilty as charged.” We still love our wayward-though-now-repentant-and-committed spouse…but our love has changed, our reliance on them is somewhat diminished and our trust is always with reservation.

So, in answer to your third question: Both relationships are/were real…but not nearly the same.

To your fourth question, the truth is that ‘moving forward’ (there is no ‘moving on’) at this time will mean, for you, going through the details. You have a valid need and a wife’s right to know anything you want to you know about your husband’s inappropriate interaction with another woman. And for some time, that will possess you. A marriage counselor provided a good analogy to describe where you now find yourself. You’re like a wife waiting at the airport for her husband’s plane to arrive…but it crashes instead. Your husband, having been on the plane, knows everything about what it was like, what went wrong, what happened. You, at the airport, are devastated by the loss, and you know nothing except, “The plane crashed” and all you can do is wonder and speculate at something so pivotal in your life. Your husband needs to keep being transparent and honest and forthcoming with answers to your questions and providing the details you ask for. This is one place where a spouse betrayed by a physical affair has a bit of an advantage over those of us affected by emotional affairs. If my wife had had sex with her AP, I could pretty much just resign myself to knowing that she did everything with him that she enjoys doing with me. But if the affair was emotional, your plagued by the question, “How bad did it get!!!?” Eventually, you will decide that you may ‘let go of discovery’ and that you now have a fairly accurate understanding of what his relationship with his AP was like.

But you need to do away with timetables for yourself. Your learning about his affair and your healing from it will take as long as you need it to take. Be patient – even if your husband becomes impatient with you. You sound like a person who is desiring progress – not a person who wants to nurture an injury for her own gain and advantage. You didn’t being yourself here and you don’t want to be here. And don’t think that the goal is to arrive at a place in life where it feels like the affair never happened. Some people, myself included, doubt that such a day ever comes. Your goal is to learn how to live with the trauma that you have experienced – and thrive as a person. It is possible. Your husband has permanently destroyed the future you, and he, were pursuing for yourselves – a future without an affair in your past. It is gone. But as the founder of this site has written – you and your husband have more than one future available to you and you may still have a good one. But it will now take time, commitment and effort.

My prayers for you both.

BH, 5+ Mo EA, DDay 3/8/18
"...regarding all as God after God."
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ImperfectlyPerfect
Thank you AnywhereButHere,

I really appreciate the time you took to respond and address my questions. Here's the thing about the EA and why I feel alone - there was no sexting, virtual sex, or exchange of sexual photos. I know that is hard to believe, but after my conversations with my WH, he has explained why it never went there. It was conversations and messaging that turned into a connection and lots of "I love you"s and cute emojis and memes being exchanged. To me, that is not real love - it's not even real life. And here in real life, I am not going to share him or his love... 

Personally, I believe he was getting undivided attention from someone else, who mind you is 15 years younger than him (WS is 45, AP is 30, I am almost 41), during a time that he wasn't getting that attention from me because I was busy working, pursuing my MBA, taking care of the kids...
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Cam28
You are not alone!  The struggles you are having are the same for those of us whose unfaithful spouses had physical affairs.  My husbands was physical and emotional although how he responds to that depends on the day I ask.  Sometimes he says it was just physical but others he says he loved her but not the same way he loves me.  His AP live near us so I struggle with what happens if he runs into her?  He has admitted that he would be tempted but would "run away as quickly as possible and call me immediately".  How do you live knowing that there is a woman out there that has that much power over your spouse.  I think one of the hardest things to live with is wondering whether or not you are sharing their heart.  You lose the feeling of being special to them.  Your recovery is going to be a process.  There are many resources online that I encourage you to seek out.  In addition to this website, there is Affair Recovery, Marriage Helpers, Beyond Affairs, etc.  There are also good books that can help you and your husband to understand what you are going through.  He should read "How to Help Your Spouse Heal from Your Affair" by Linda MacDonald.  Another good book is Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass.  I am so sorry that this has happened to you.  On this site, we all understand and feel your pain.   God bless you!
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ImperfectlyPerfect
Cam28, thank you. Especially for the additional resources and suggestions.

Yes, while I am thankful that the AP is on another continent, it is so painful knowing that she has a piece of his heart. He tells me that his love for me is so much deeper and emotional and intense than it ever could have been with her, but I struggle with how he could truly love her if his feelings for me were/are so strong. He has cut all ties with her, but I fear that he still longs for her and their "connection."

I am currently teetering between being ready to move forward with what I know and obsessively dwelling on the need for more details, more truths, more concrete reassurance that I am not still being lied to. My therapist has suggested that each time I feel myself become hyper-focused on what happened, I examine whether knowing the answer to the question is going to help me move forward or hurt me further. I feel like the more I obsess, the more I allow her to be a part of our story. I know that I cannot erase her or the affair, but I want to get to the point where she is merely a semi-colon in a sentence instead of a chapter.
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