Fionarob
I am a betrayed spouse who thought things were improving.  We started counselling in November, and my husband ended his affair in December - agreeing that there must be no contact and that he was willing to do it to save our marriage.

Yesterday I discovered that he is still sending his AP the "occasional" email.  He says there is no emotional talk or romantic messages - just light hearted fun and banter. Hmmmm.  He says it is the only way he has been able to cope with the weight of loss he felt from ending his relationship (2 years) with the AP.

He even said the slightest bit of contact with her - just an email every now and again - made the pain bearable.  He says he had no intention of ever starting the affair again, that it just helped him deal with the loss.  I have no evidence to suggest there was any other contact, but it doesn't really make a difference.  NO CONTACT was what he promised me and he has broken that promise.

My question is what do I do now?!!  I definitely felt we were making progress, to the point I was going to suggest to him that we didn't need counselling anymore, that I felt we had enough information on what we both needed to do to keep moving forward.  Now I am left wondering if he is ever capable of breaking his connection with the AP.  Our counsellors are unique in that they are on hand 24/7 by phone or email and they told him if he ever felt like reaching out to his AP, that he should call them instead.  He didn't make use of that help that was offered to him......that we are paying a lot of money for!! 

I thought for the first time he was coming out of the fog...now I feel he is nowhere near that stage.  He seemed so much better, lighter, more himself, much nicer towards me.....now I wonder if it was all an act.  Is this emailing just part of a bigger picture of him letting her go?  Or is it a sign that he will never let her go?  I have read some WS say it took a few months to properly let go.  Is this what he is doing??

Grateful for any advice or insight, because I really don't know what to do.  This has been going on for over two years - promises to end the affair and then relapses.
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surviving
Fionarob - I am so sorry!  Even casual emails is breaking the no contact rule.  The no contact rule means no contact.  No emails, phone calls, texts, coffee, etc.  I would restate my definition of no contact to him to make sure he understood where I was at.  Let him give his definition of no contact.  Then you two will have to decide to agree to disagree, or maybe he will understand better and follow your definition.  If he doesn't give her up, even casual emails, then he isn't going to give her up.  That is all my opinion.  I don't believe he is trying to ease the pain.  I just can't believe that at all. 
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Fionarob
Hi Surviving
Thanks for your reply.  He agrees that he broke the no contact rule, and he agrees it was wrong.  I think he justified it to himself because it wasn't "romantic" and there was no intention to meet up with her again.  I have told him it was still completely wrong and crossing a boundary and he totally agrees.  Therefore, it is hard to know what to do.  If he can't use the help offered by the counsellors to 'get over her' and deal with the pain of ending the affair, then I wonder how he will ever do it.  I think you are right in that he just can't give her up.  This is why I feel I am faced with a decision of asking for a separation.

However, my one glimmer of hope is that we really had started to make progress in our marriage - things felt better than they had for a long time, and more real somehow.  Do I throw away all the hard work and good steps we had made because he is still emailing her?  He can promise not to do it again....but he's done that lots of times before.

I read another WS say that forced No Contact doesn't work - the WS has to WANT to do it.  I agree to some extent - but how long am I supposed to wait and keep working on the marriage while he continues to email her to 'ease the pain'.  I think he needs to get a grip - what about the pain I am in from over 2 years of betrayal???!
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Heidi
I'm so sorry you're going through this Fionarob, and reading your post makes me very sad. When does he start to think about your pain, and how he increases it every time he contacts the AP. To me there are two big red flags. The contact when he'd promised NC, and the fact he lied about it. Both of these indicate he's not truly accepted what he's done and the pain he's caused. Because right now it's all about him.

I'm not one for telling people what to do, because we are all muddling through this. But in the end you have to decide if you want to remain in this situation. My husband worked with his AP (very big department, but it still killed me every day) and in spite of looking, couldn't find another job for 8 months. In the end I asked him to leave because I couldn't cope with it any more. That's when he went to his boss and they agreed to him working from home until he got a transfer. Something he could have done without an ultimatum but didn't. As far as I know there's been no contact since. But if he hadn't have spoken to his boss I would have stuck to my guns and separated because I'd had enough.

You need to decide what your 'enough' looks like and make it clear to him. Then stick by your words. And in the meantime, try to work on your own recovery and strength.
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Fionarob
Hi Heidi
Thank you for your reply.  Yes, the pain of it all is something he never considers, or chooses not to think about.  He is still doing what he wants and needs for his own selfish reasons and thinking of nobody else.  I have little sympathy for the AP, but even she is being used in all of this.  How is this emailing helping her let go of the relationship?  I feel he is keeping her 'dangling' in case things don't work out in our marriage. 

I asked him if he would have still emailed her if he knew I would find out, and if he knew it would cause me so much more pain. He said he wouldn't have done it.  So I guess he just never thought I would find out, or he chose to ignore the part of him that was saying it was all so wrong.  He is very good at burying his head in the sand and thinking about getting his needs met.  So if I was having a bad day, then he would email her as a way of cheering himself up.  It's just all so so selfish. 

Unfortunately, throughout my two years of living with this, I have discovered lots of things about my husband that I didn't know before.  And now I have to decide if I want to keep fighting for our marriage....or if there is actually something better out there waiting for me.  My main problem each time I am faced with this is our children.  I don't want to do this to them but I know I deserve better.
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TimT
Fionarob wrote:
...He even said the slightest bit of contact with her - just an email every now and again - made the pain bearable.  He says he had no intention of ever starting the affair again, that it just helped him deal with the loss.  I have no evidence to suggest there was any other contact, but it doesn't really make a difference.  NO CONTACT was what he promised me and he has broken that promise.

My question is what do I do now?!!...

I'm going to be blunt. As long as an affair spouse is pursuing contact of any kind with the affair partner, you remain at risk. It is a clear indication that they are not in a place that makes you or your marriage secure. This kind of ongoing contact is never a good indication (or even a neutral indication) of recovery progress in a marriage. It is an indication that your husband not only remains emotionally connected with the affair partner but that he chooses to continue investing in that relationship in a way that brings him comfort. He puts your comfort above yours, and that simply cannot be the case if there is expectation of healing after an affair.

Your husband claims he has no intention of starting the affair again. Let me say a few things in response to that:
  • Even if he honestly has no intention of getting back into the affair, he is being naive if he does not recognize the extreme risk. He probably didn't have intention before the affair started in the first place, but it did. And now there is history there and, obviously, an emotional need. It is SO risky. That is why the No-Contact rule is so important.
  • His focus on his own comfort at the sacrifice of yours is exactly OPPOSITE of what is required from the unfaithful partner if real recovery is going to happen. He asks you to trust him now with the women who was his lover before. How is that suppose to happen? If roles were reversed, I guarantee he would not be willing to allow your ongoing investment in a relationship with a former lover. Not only is it disrespectful to your marriage, you both probably know that this kind of arrangement often includes ongoing secret connections beyond what is being admitted to.
  • Forget trying to wonder whether the affair is going to start again. Whether or not they are having sex, THE INFIDELITY CONTINUES as long as he makes the choice to make investments in any relationship with a former lover.

Let me just point out that my comments here are directed against the spouse who is "pursuing contact of any kind", not to those who are trapped in a temporary circumstance in which contact is required or to those who are being pursued by the affair partner but do not respond to those efforts. In those cases, the unfaithful spouse should be taking responsibility in establishing clear boundaries in the best way possible until circumstances allow for a complete break-off.

What should betrayed spouse do if their unfaithful spouse maintains connection with the affair partner? Well, if the affair was recently discovered then you should expect there to be a period of time in which your spouse is going to be conflicted. You might as well be prepared for that and don't try to establish firm boundaries that set everyone up for failure, especially if there was a strong emotional connection. If you cannot deal with that, then you should probably leave because you will likely be quite frustrated during the turmoil of confusion as your spouse comes to a place of personal clarity regarding his/her choice. 

But this "period of grace" in which things are being worked out should only be for a while and there should be eventual evidence of the unfaithful spouse's clear move away from the affair and into the marriage until they become single-minded in their intent and choices. If ongoing connection remains after 1-3 months, you should stop all investment in trying to heal your marriage. Focus on YOU getting healthy. You may still choose to leave the door open for your spouse to come back into the marriage, but stop trying to make that happen. Stop arguing about their relationship with the affair partner. If they don't get it by now, your ongoing insistence won't likely change their mind. Leave them to their infidelity and do not enter back into the relationship again until you hear a clear message of single-minded commitment to your marriage that is backed up by enough time given to consistent behavior that demonstrates their sincerity.

(Be careful not to jump right back into the relationship at the first claim of "Okay, I've cut off all contact" because you've probably heard that multiple times before.)

I'm becoming rather hard-nosed about this. I've been around too many good men and women who had an affair and don't want to lose their marriage, but can't seem to break off all contact with the affair partner, either. For most of them, they do not intend to hurt their spouses again. Most justify their choice as something good or necessary, but they are wrong and they put everyone in extreme vulnerability. You cannot fix a marriage while this continues.

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Fionarob
TimT - thank you for your insight.  I know something has to happen - I can't just accept him saying he won't do it again and carry on with life as normal.  But I don't know what that will look like in our recovery right now.  I also don't know how I will ever be sure that the situation is right for me to move back towards working on our marriage.  How will I ever know that he has broken contact completely and totally?  I only have his word at the end of the day......so far this has proven to be lies every single time.  He is capable of finding a way around everything eg. setting up new email accounts, using a different 'phone.  Ultimately, I will never know for sure if he really has followed the no contact rule.

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Searching4
Fionarob,

When I discovered my husband's infidelity, I knew instinctively about the 'no contact rule', even before reading everything I could get my hands on and discovering this site. Although I was the one to instigate no contact, my H has successfully kept it, and he did from day one. The OW tried to break NC by writing to him, and 'accidentally' bumping in to him, but through fear if nothing else, he did not fail in his resolve.
This was after the discovery of a 15 year affair. Personally, I could not handle the idea of any communication of any kind between them, and if it was to happen, it would be the end of our reconciliation. In my opinion, reconciliation cannot even begin when there is a third party in the marriage. If he is sending emails, he is keeping her in his life. You must decide if you are willing to accept that.
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Anna26
TimT wrote:

 It is an indication that your husband not only remains emotionally connected with the affair partner but that he chooses to continue investing in that relationship in a way that brings him comfort. He puts your comfort above yours, and that simply cannot be the case if there is expectation of healing after an affair.



I like what you say here Tim, as it rings very true for me. 

Lately I've realised I probably feel more let down and hurt by the fact that my husband just couldn't see where his priorities and loyalties should lie, than by the affair itself.  He spent all his time deliberating and trying to decide what to do and who to choose.  To me the choice should have been obvious, but it clearly wasn't.  
I often think, where was he when I needed him to comfort me in my pain and help me to heal?  He was so self absorbed in his own, that he couldn't even see mine.  He put his own feelings first,  so selfish and thoughtless, at least, that's how it seems now...
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Kalmarjan
All great responses here. The only thing that I have to add is this. The best way to think of ANY contact with the AP is to pretend you are standing in a puddle of gasoline playing with matches. It's the same thing, the chances are great you will reoffend.

The affair has been likened to a drug. The feelings of oxytocin, and that high you get. That little bit of contact is just another hit.

You wouldn't think that the best way to break a nicotine e habit is to have a small puff, just to make things better? (That's how I quit a pack a day habit... Never take another puff..) **

A herein addict will never beat the habit if they continue to take small hits to take the pain away.

The truth is, they are feeling uncomfortable because they put themselves into a situation they had no business being in. Yep. It sucks to let go of your AP.

I know first hand. Every single time you make contact, you're back to the beginning, then you have to work through all the feelings again. Not fun.
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sunflower07
Kalmarjan wrote:
All great responses here. The only thing that I have to add is this. The best way to think of ANY contact with the AP is to pretend you are standing in a puddle of gasoline playing with matches. It's the same thing, the chances are great you will reoffend.

The affair has been likened to a drug. The feelings of oxytocin, and that high you get. That little bit of contact is just another hit.

You wouldn't think that the best way to break a nicotine e habit is to have a small puff, just to make things better? (That's how I quit a pack a day habit... Never take another puff..) **

A herein addict will never beat the habit if they continue to take small hits to take the pain away.

The truth is, they are feeling uncomfortable because they put themselves into a situation they had no business being in. Yep. It sucks to let go of your AP.

I know first hand. Every single time you make contact, you're back to the beginning, then you have to work through all the feelings again. Not fun.


Ugghhh! If only I could get my husband to see this. He seems to think he's strong enough to resist his AP. I really think he believes this to be true. We've talked about it alot!

But his full-blown affair started up again after 8 years when he ran into her by chance. They had some previous inappropriate contact 10 years ago.

I'm giving him grace right now but at some point I will be forced to make a decision about this.

I told him today that I will "always" be nervous about him working in a circumstance where he could encounter her. I told him he better be prepared to deal with me feeling like this forever.

Not sure how much clearer I can be!
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Guiltguilt
The 180. If he's serious about reconciliation, he will follow on.
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sunflower07
The 180. If he's serious about reconciliation, he will follow on. [/QUOTE

Funny you say that because that is sort of what I have started to do. I've pulled back a little and I think he realizes it. He keeps asking me if I'm OK. I catch him watching me.

Problem is that one of his complaints about our relationship is I wasn't "open" to him. And yes, I did shut him out at times. This was before the affair and part of the trouble in our marriage. I had my reasons. We need to work on this. He isn't willing to go to counseling at this point although he says he's working towards it.

There are too many things he's unwilling to do at this point. Things are going well and better than they were. I hope we are moving in the right direction but.....

I've started to think about this as being on 2 seperate train tracks at the same time.

On one track, I'm working on my marriage.

On the other track, I'm preparing for what I need to do if the first track fails. Things on the second track include seeing an attorney and figuring out where I would go if I need to leave, having some money set aside etc. Trying to prepare myself emotionally is also on track two.

I feel better since I started thinking like this. Also, I get a weird sort of comfort when I think about leaving. I think that's because there is so much emotion in staying right now.
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