SuzieQ
Background: I am the BS. We are 7 months past DD. My husband confessed to the affair after 3 months of severe clinical depression including a suicidal period, but only after I pushed and pushed and pushed because I just KNEW there was something he was keeping from me. He said he loved me and never stopped loving me but loved the OW too. He said wanted to stay and work on the marriage pretty much from the beginning, but also said he was really confused, didn't know what he wanted, and still loved the OW. Long story (of course), lots of trickle truth. I eventually discovered he had had another affair, starting 3 years before. The first affair was with a friend of ours. It was totally sexual. He never loved her or wanted to leave me. It lasted about 18 mos but they continued to see each other socially for next 18 mos. Then they had sex two more times when he was in the pits of the depression and she suspected he had taken on yet another OW. He did not act suspicious during this affair. I've been over it and over it. There were no signs. I never suspected. He acted as happy in our marriage as he ever had. Second affair lasted 4 months and was almost entirely emotional. The OW is someone I have met once (friend of a friend of a friend) but not someone I know. There was eventually some sexual acts, but that was not "what he was after" as he puts it. He said with the 1st OW he was sure no one would ever know and he would take the secret to his grave. With the 2nd OW he said he knew from the beginning that it would come out eventually, and so he thought about leaving me and starting a life with her. Within a week of starting this affair he was clinically depressed and became suicidal. So this time it was totally suspicious. He wasn't acting himself at all. Every time I questioned him he turned it in me, denied, lied, told me I wasn't supporting him through this tough time. So now we've each been in IC for 9 months, and CC for 8 months. He agreed to no contact. As far as I know it's over with the first OW and that has been easy. He agreed to NC with the second OW but that one has been a struggle. He "doesn't know" a lot and is confused. He did talk t her in the phone a couple times in the first month after DD and lied about it, until I confronted him with phone records (which happens to be the same day I was told about his first affair by a friend). Then October I found out he had been looking at her photos on social media, even though he agreed not to. I confronted him, he lied, then eventually confessed. He was definitely in the affair fog. It lifted slowly, but I noticed a significant difference in December.

So currently he seems to be amazing. Really. He's so much happier. Back to "himself" - doing activities he used to love, helping around house without being asked, being an amazing dad again, being patient with my pain, continuing to go to IC and CC. So what's the problem?

I just struggle with trust SO MUCH. The reality is he lied SO WELL during the first affair. I never even suspected. And then he lied well ( but SO evil) during the second affair (saying he was going to movies with work friends, going to take the truck out for a ride to clear his head, going to see his buddy to work on a project, staying home during a family trip because he just couldn't handle his anxiety issues - all while really seeing OW). I just didn't know he was capable of that level of deceit.

So now it's like I have two people in my head...the old sweet, trusting, sunny version of me (I call her Pollyanna) and a new part who is bitter, b#tchy and super untrusting (I call her Iron Maven). They fight with each other in my head all the time. And it's exhausting.

Example: I've been taking a yoga class. I didn't really feel like going last night, but my husband was so sweet and said he thought I should go. I said I didn't think we could spare the money - he said it was an important investment. I said I had dishes to do - he assured me he'd take care of it and get the kids to bed. So I went. And it was great. And I was so glad I went. Then on the drive home I thought about how nice things have been lately and how sweet and loving he's been, and how I should thank him for encouraging me to go (Polyanna). Then I thought, wait a minute, WHY did he want me to go so bad? Did he just want me to get out of the house so he could do something sneaky?!!! Is he just trying to butter me up so when he wants to go out to do something tomorrow, probably with a group of friends I don't really care for (because they all knew about the affair and did nothing to stop it) then he can try to make me feel guilty for having a boundary? (Iron Maven).

This happens all day. Every day.

Another example: He gets a phone call. Says, "Oh, do you mind if I take this?" then leaves the house. I think, wait why did he leave the house? Who is he talking to? That's weird. He's talking to someone he shouldn't be or saying things he doesn't want you to hear (Iron Maven). Then I think, stop it. He's been trying so hard. He left the house because the kids are right here playing this video game and it's loud. That's all. He just wanted to be able to hear (Polyanna).

I know this is probably normal. But what have other BSs done with these thoughts? It's so painful. I want to give home the benefit of the doubt. I want to support his efforts. I want to keep moving forward and healing and not discourage him. But these fears are real. And for good reason. I used to not question ANYTHING and he had two affairs, almost killed himself, and almost abandoned us. I used to totally trust him because "he's a good person" and "he's the most honest person I know" and "he would never hurt me" and "what kind of a person would do something lien that to someone they love?" Obviously none of those help soothe me anymore.

He really isn't doing anything to make me think he's lying. But he wasn't doing anything during his first affair either. So I feel like I just can't go off of that...I can't trust that.

I know this is hurtful to the healing of our relationship but I feel like I have been forced into protecting myself. How do I ignore Iron Maven YELLING at me? And I'm not even sure that I should ignore her. She's just trying to protect me.

Ugh.
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Fionarob
Hi SuzieQ (Pollyanna and Iron Maven)

What you have described here is exactly what I experience and I guess a lot of betrayed spouses struggle with this too.  It's that inner conflict, the two voices in your head that are fighting against each other all the time.  And like you say, it is exhausting.

I spoke about this at length with a counsellor - the conversation was over an hour so I can't really convey everything that was covered.  However, after much discussion I did come to the realisation that the inner conflict is not serving me well at all.  It is just dragging me down, holding me back and making every waking moment completely awful!  But it is so hard to let the dark side go away - I see it as my armour and it is protecting me from further hurt.  But how can you have a truly good marriage if you are always guarded and not willing to be totally vulnerable again.  My armour would be saying "Yes but............"  I suppose you have to reach a point where you recognise that the negative voices are doing you more damage than good. 

Ultimately I suppose we have to accept that just because we are protecting ourselves it doesn't mean we won't get hurt again.  We could be hyper vigilant and looking for all the little signs that they are no longer cheating - but will that stop them from doing it again? No.  In the end they are in control of whether they cheat, not us.  So we might as well focus on being the best person we can be rather than worrying about whether they are still lying, manipulating, controlling us.

But it is extremely hard, I totally get where you are coming from.  My husband gave me the "day off" the other day and some spending money to go shopping.  At first I thought, wow, how great, what a lovely gesture.  Then  few minutes later I was thinking why is he trying to get rid of me for the day....is he up to something?  So the armour is still there, but it's not popping up so often!

I think time helps, and seeing your husband continually doing the right thing.  Gradually Iron Maven will retreat and you can let Pollyanna come out for much longer periods of time.  You will feel much happier for it, and your husband will probably notice a positive difference too.  But at the moment, Iron Maven is probably not helping you at all, don't let her get the upper hand!
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