535
My 8 year marriage has a history of disrespect such as name calling, accusations, and distrust.  Even though there were good times and children involved, my husband felt that my disrespect towards him (specifically calling him a "loser") was grounds for sleeping with another woman (co-worker) because he was belittled.  When I found out about her, we had already been physically separated.  He believes that because of the separation, this relationship is not an "affair."  Further, he stated that he did not "get caught," but rather he was waiting for me to be ready before he would tell me. As I am digging more into the mistakes that I made in our marriage, I am starting to believe he is right.  On the other hand, we are still married and I was trying to mend things but he did want to be with me anymore.  Am I so naive that I cannot see that my marriage has already failed and I am holding onto nothing?  I feel so betrayed but cannot justify it because I initiated the separation when he stonewalled me.
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Anna26
535 wrote:
My 8 year marriage has a history of disrespect such as name calling, accusations, and distrust.  Even though there were good times and children involved, my husband felt that my disrespect towards him (specifically calling him a "loser") was grounds for sleeping with another woman (co-worker) because he was belittled.  When I found out about her, we had already been physically separated.  He believes that because of the separation, this relationship is not an "affair."  Further, he stated that he did not "get caught," but rather he was waiting for me to be ready before he would tell me. As I am digging more into the mistakes that I made in our marriage, I am starting to believe he is right.  On the other hand, we are still married and I was trying to mend things but he did want to be with me anymore.  Am I so naive that I cannot see that my marriage has already failed and I am holding onto nothing?  I feel so betrayed but cannot justify it because I initiated the separation when he stonewalled me.




I don't believe that's a reason for sleeping with someone else. It sounds more like he's trying to justify what he's done. Deep down, he knows it was wrong. I'm not saying that your behaviour was ideal either, and it could have made him feel deeply unhappy.

But he felt this way about your marriage why didn't he speak to you about it first or even simply tell you he wanted a divorce and why?
My son even said to me once that if my husband were really that unhappy in our marriage it would have been better all round to have asked for a divorce. That would have been the 'grown up' thing to do.

It's my personal belief that even if separated, it's still an affair. Because you are still legally married. But if someone were still married, but living apart and never seeing each other as a couple, and had spent years like that, well, I'm not sure about that.

You don't say how long it is since your discovery but I get the sense it's not that long, so I would say give it some time. Even your husband could be really confused about what he wants so you should both take the time to consider what you want and try not to make a rushed decision.
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UrbanExplorer
It's a complicated situation. Esther Perel is a well-known therapist who helps couples heal from affairs. In her TED Talk, she says, "Betrayal in a relationship comes in many forms. There are many ways that we betray our partner: with contempt, with neglect, with indifference, with violence. Sexual betrayal is only one way to hurt a partner. In other words, the victim of an affair is not always the victim of the marriage." The BS does not make the WS have an affair. However, the affair can be a symptom of what is happening in the marriage. I am a WS, and if I could do it all over again, instead of having an affair, I would have told my husband that the marriage was so disconnected and so far from meeting my needs that I was at risk for an affair or filing for divorce. It would have hurt him, but far less than the affair did. I think it would have taken something that direct to get his attention, as meeker comments I made over the years did nothing.

I agree with you that your husband technically had an affair if it was done in secret and you had not discussed if it was OK to date while separated.
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comingclean
UrbanExplorer wrote:
 "Betrayal in a relationship comes in many forms. There are many ways that we betray our partner: with contempt, with neglect, with indifference, with violence. Sexual betrayal is only one way to hurt a partner. In other words, the victim of an affair is not always the victim of the marriage."...


Urban, I am a WS and first time poster.  (DDay was only 2+ mos ago - so all still a bit raw here.  Good news is that I am getting a second chance and we are both committed to working on our marriage/reconnection.)  We have read/listened/attended so many books/webcasts/counseling sessions that I feel like my head is spinning.  I distinctly remember that quote from Esther Perel - I latched onto it as an attempt to help justify why I would have an affair.  That was a BAD IDEA.  I think a lot of BS would have strong feelings about this point of view.  My wife certainly did.  These other forms of so-called betrayal may be present in a rough/rocky (aka real) marriage, but certainly aren't to be brought up in a conversation of "you did these things so that's why I had an affair".  As much as I would like to use Perel's logic as a defense - it belongs in a separate conversation of "why did we have a bad marriage", not in a conversation of "why did I have an affair".  I think that former is a conversation I need to have in time, but not now.  For me, the latter is the immediate question, the one I am coming to terms with, the one that I am trying to convey to my wife.  It is a very painful one - one that requires me to ask very difficult questions of myself and cringe at the answers.  (thanks Kalmarjan for your posts to help me with this)  My wife has cooled down enough to help me with this self-discovery and I am grateful to the point of tears that she is helping me.
To the other posters - I can't thank you enough for your insights (I am sorry they came at such a personal cost).  I have to admit, emotionally I feel very much like a child when I read through some of your posts.  I wish I had that same wisdom and introspection... it feels like I am rolling up my sleeves and joining the adult world for the first time (I wish more than anything that it didn't have to be in a forum like this).

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Kalmarjan
Comingclean - great points. I was thinking on this, and as a WS (who also tried to use the excuse to justify my affair...) I came to this chilling revelation...

While I might be able to justify how I got to the point where I faced the choice to cheat or not, and sure... I sure can shift blame... That parts easy.

The problem came when I realized that while the marital situation brought me to the point where I had to choose, it was ME who chose to cheat. There is NOTHING that can accept that. Not even I could convince myself that it was okay, and I'd been lying to myself for a very long time.

After that, it became apparent what I needed to do.

So, OP - there is no situation that makes it okay to cheat. Your WS made a choice to hide it from you, and still had a relationship with you. Your WS cheating broke the boundaries of your relationship, even of your BS is "right" on a technicality.
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comingclean
I think your argument on what happened during the separation could be tweaked a little.  It seems like your are trying to decide whose viewpoint is right.  What does winning or losing that argument get you?  Maybe the better way to begin that conversation is - "WS, we were separated and we had wildly different assumptions on what that separation meant.  We made the mistake of not communicating that up front.  Now, I am left with such a terrible sense of betrayal and regardless of whether you think you are right or wrong, you need to address this with me."
Full disclosure, I am a WS.  If my wife was standing in front of me pressing me to admit I was wrong (if I did not want to, but even if I knew I was), I would grudgingly admit it, but the rest of the conversation would not be as productive as if she just said - "Listen, I don't care if you were right or wrong - that's not the point of our current discussion, you can come to that answer on your own, but this is how I feel because of what you did..."

ps. Not to blow my entire previous suggestion out of the water, but I do agree with you. -- sometimes that's all you need to hear.
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UrbanExplorer
Even 6 months into three types of therapy, I struggle to simultaneously make amends for the affair and work on what was already wrong in the marriage before I made the choice to have an affair. There is pressure to grovel, and it butts up against the question, do I want this marriage? What I got out of Perel's talk was that marital recovery after an affair is about more than the affair.
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535
Anna26 wrote:
I don't believe that's a reason for sleeping with someone else. It sounds more like he's trying to justify what he's done. Deep down, he knows it was wrong. I'm not saying that your behaviour was ideal either, and it could have made him feel deeply unhappy. But he felt this way about your marriage why didn't he speak to you about it first or even simply tell you he wanted a divorce and why? My son even said to me once that if my husband were really that unhappy in our marriage it would have been better all round to have asked for a divorce. That would have been the 'grown up' thing to do. It's my personal belief that even if separated, it's still an affair. Because you are still legally married. But if someone were still married, but living apart and never seeing each other as a couple, and had spent years like that, well, I'm not sure about that. You don't say how long it is since your discovery but I get the sense it's not that long, so I would say give it some time. Even your husband could be really confused about what he wants so you should both take the time to consider what you want and try not to make a rushed decision.


Hi Anna26-

Dday was a little over 2 months ago.  I'm trying to figure out if he is in an affair fog or if he really does not want the marriage to work.  He doesn't reach out to me about anything besides the kids and when I try to talk to him, he doesn't have anything to say and cannot look me in the eye.
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535
comingclean wrote:
I think your argument on what happened during the separation could be tweaked a little.  It seems like your are trying to decide whose viewpoint is right.  What does winning or losing that argument get you?  Maybe the better way to begin that conversation is - "WS, we were separated and we had wildly different assumptions on what that separation meant.  We made the mistake of not communicating that up front.  Now, I am left with such a terrible sense of betrayal and regardless of whether you think you are right or wrong, you need to address this with me."
Full disclosure, I am a WS.  If my wife was standing in front of me pressing me to admit I was wrong (if I did not want to, but even if I knew I was), I would grudgingly admit it, but the rest of the conversation would not be as productive as if she just said - "Listen, I don't care if you were right or wrong - that's not the point of our current discussion, you can come to that answer on your own, but this is how I feel because of what you did..."

ps. Not to blow my entire previous suggestion out of the water, but I do agree with you. -- sometimes that's all you need to hear.


Thanks for your input comingclean.  It's too bad that my WS wouldn't even grudgingly admit it.  I agree that there's no point in winning the argument.  At this point, I'm just trying to get him to talk to me period.
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535
UrbanExplorer wrote:
Even 6 months into three types of therapy, I struggle to simultaneously make amends for the affair and work on what was already wrong in the marriage before I made the choice to have an affair. There is pressure to grovel, and it butts up against the question, do I want this marriage? What I got out of Perel's talk was that marital recovery after an affair is about more than the affair.


I agree.  There are bigger issues but it seems he has made up his mind.  
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comingclean
UrbanExplorer wrote:
Even 6 months into three types of therapy, I struggle to simultaneously make amends for the affair and work on what was already wrong in the marriage before I made the choice to have an affair. There is pressure to grovel, and it butts up against the question, do I want this marriage? What I got out of Perel's talk was that marital recovery after an affair is about more than the affair.


Urban, I agree with you.  If the goal is to get back to what the marriage was like before I initiated the affair - then there is no way I could justify climbing this mountain.  In the case of my affair, we were on a long downward spiral, we were basically roommates trying to raise our kids.  For OVER A YEAR (almost two) there were no deep discussions, no sex, we barely kissed and only for a show for the kids.  You want misery - that was it.  We were like stubborn two-year olds - neither willing to give an inch.  So - do we want to get back to where we were before affair... no no never.
My poor wife, who was also feeling all of these same frustrations, was even more isolated at home with the kids.  Her frustrations bubbled over into anger/rage at me - which further drove me away (because I didn't have the adult capability to discuss these).  You can see how this spiral went.
I took the easy way out and found fulfillment with someone else that was in my same situation.
DDAY and the fallout did make us address many of these things.  My wife repeatedly makes me aware that we could have worked all of these things out even if I didn't have an affair... and she is so, so right.  But alas, the affair happened.  I would take it back in a second if I could.  But out of this extreme pain, there is hope.
Already, I see we are much more open with each other in expressing our frustration, anger, and also (importantly) happiness and optimism for our baby steps.
Now that we have the affair elephant in the room, our recovery takes on a different nature.  We don't get the luxury of continuous progress.  We get days where we will make some progress followed by days where all she can do is cry followed by days where I am an absolute punching bag.  I hate those last two types of days, but that is the post affair reality - that is what I did.  All I can be is strong for both of us on those days (not even close to the # of days I chose to be a coward).  And that end result of being strong... man... if I can ever get there - it brings tears to my eyes to think about it.
So, as much as I need to get my BS to trust me again, I also feel like I am going into this recovery effort with a certain degree of trust as well.  The big question - are we capable of coming out on the other end of this with a deeper connection?  I have to think YES, my heart tells me yes.  But if this marriage thing was easy, there wouldn't be so many that fall apart.
So urban, I understand your hesitation.  Here are questions I have asked myself (after experiencing the extreme types of feelings present in an affair): 1) why is it so easy w AP and so difficult w BS? 2) were me and BS ever even compatible? 3) am I still the same person I was when I was married 16 years ago - do I want the same things- the same person? 4) what if we get right back into the same horrible marriage patterns we had before?
You might have a lot of these questions yourself.  For me:
1) a lot of the postings on this site have helped me realize what an affair is.  I was able to build exactly the person I wanted to be by controlling the information I gave to my AP.  I say that reflected in her eyes when she looked at me.  That was intoxicating - but not real.
2 & 3) whew... tough questions.  I am obviously not the same person I was 16 years ago - nobody is.  Neither is my spouse.  Are we best friends?  I can tell you honestly, in the last two years of our marriage before dday, I doubted if we were even friends -- ouch, I know.  But I can also tell you this, if I treated her with respect, vulnerability, half the affection she deserves - she will pay me back in spades.  If she doesn't, all I can do is let her know about it - her choice... But at least this go around, she is aware of it - I will give her the courtesy of making the choice.  I was such a fool for not understanding this the first time.
4) yep - that is always a distinct possibility and one that troubles me more than I would like.  All I can say here, is I will try, given these new tools that I have.  I will not be a coward, I will voice my frustrations and also voice my happiness and learn how to support instead of tear down.  I will consciously work on and be these things - I will expect the same from my BS and we will hold each other to this explicit contract.  It is all we can do - and certainly what spouses owe one another.  If it doesn't work after that - well, at least we can say we tried.
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comingclean
comingclean wrote:


Urban, I agree with you.  If the goal is to get back to what the marriage was like before I initiated the affair - then there is no way I could justify climbing this mountain.  In the case of my affair, we were on a long downward spiral, we were basically roommates trying to raise our kids.  For OVER A YEAR (almost two) there were no deep discussions, no sex, we barely kissed and only for a show for the kids.  You want misery - that was it.  We were like stubborn two-year olds - neither willing to give an inch.  So - do we want to get back to where we were before affair... no no never.
My poor wife, who was also feeling all of these same frustrations, was even more isolated at home with the kids.  Her frustrations bubbled over into anger/rage at me - which further drove me away (because I didn't have the adult capability to discuss these).  You can see how this spiral went.
I took the easy way out and found fulfillment with someone else that was in my same situation.
DDAY and the fallout did make us address many of these things.  My wife repeatedly makes me aware that we could have worked all of these things out even if I didn't have an affair... and she is so, so right.  But alas, the affair happened.  I would take it back in a second if I could.  But out of this extreme pain, there is hope.
Already, I see we are much more open with each other in expressing our frustration, anger, and also (importantly) happiness and optimism for our baby steps.
Now that we have the affair elephant in the room, our recovery takes on a different nature.  We don't get the luxury of continuous progress.  We get days where we will make some progress followed by days where all she can do is cry followed by days where I am an absolute punching bag.  I hate those last two types of days, but that is the post affair reality - that is what I did.  All I can be is strong for both of us on those days (not even close to the # of days I chose to be a coward).  And that end result of being strong... man... if I can ever get there - it brings tears to my eyes to think about it.
So, as much as I need to get my BS to trust me again, I also feel like I am going into this recovery effort with a certain degree of trust as well.  The big question - are we capable of coming out on the other end of this with a deeper connection?  I have to think YES, my heart tells me yes.  But if this marriage thing was easy, there wouldn't be so many that fall apart.
So urban, I understand your hesitation.  Here are questions I have asked myself (after experiencing the extreme types of feelings present in an affair): 1) why is it so easy w AP and so difficult w BS? 2) were me and BS ever even compatible? 3) am I still the same person I was when I was married 16 years ago - do I want the same things- the same person? 4) what if we get right back into the same horrible marriage patterns we had before?
You might have a lot of these questions yourself.  For me:
1) a lot of the postings on this site have helped me realize what an affair is.  I was able to build exactly the person I wanted to be by controlling the information I gave to my AP.  I saw that reflected in her eyes when she looked at me.  That was intoxicating - but not real.
2 & 3) whew... tough questions.  I am obviously not the same person I was 16 years ago - nobody is.  Neither is my spouse.  Are we best friends?  I can tell you honestly, in the last two years of our marriage before dday, I doubted if we were even friends -- ouch, I know.  But I can also tell you this, if I treated her with respect, vulnerability, half the affection she deserves - she will pay me back in spades.  If she doesn't, all I can do is let her know about it - her choice... But at least this go around, she is aware of it - I will give her the courtesy of making the choice.  I was such a fool for not understanding this the first time.
4) yep - that is always a distinct possibility and one that troubles me more than I would like.  All I can say here, is I will try, given these new tools that I have.  I will not be a coward, I will voice my frustrations and also voice my happiness and learn how to support instead of tear down.  I will consciously work on and be these things - I will expect the same from my BS and we will hold each other to this explicit contract.  It is all we can do - and certainly what spouses owe one another.  If it doesn't work after that - well, at least we can say we tried.
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