JKoloseik
2.5 years after DD, and unfortunately we're not doing much better, even though my husband thinks we are. His AP was with a woman at work, most of which was sexting. After months of not being strong enough to walk away, he asked me to move across the country from Michigan to Texas. I still don't understand why I followed, other than I felt like it was God's will (please, no feedback on that, ok?). His "cold-turkey" didn't work, and immediately he switched to porn, dating sites, even sex toy window shopping! He had never confessed anything to me--ever. Every lie was one I found out or walked in on. Anyhow, through the last couple years I've been non-stop researching and studying how to heal on my own. Every resource exclaims that it is near impossible if the AP is not out of the picture. And even though it's been two years since his actual affair, it still feels like the "AP" is still here. Me question is this: Is the cellphone an AP? The physical AP is not around, but the cellphone is. He swears that he's not done anything; but, like I said, he's never confessed anything to me, so what makes it true this time? I hate his phone. I feel like there is always another woman in the room in the form of a stupid black slab of plastic. And I hate my thoughts toward that phone. It's just a phone. But I wonder ... Is it? Should I be viewing it as an AP? Thanks everyone!
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ThrivenotSurvive
Here's a couple things that came to mind when reading your post:

1.  2.5 years is a LONG time to not be feeling a fair amount of relief.  That you still feel like all the initial issues are still there is a major problem (lack of boundaries, inability to be transparent with what he's doing, his inability to stop behaviors that clearly make you uncomfortable, etc.)  I don't think the phone is the problem - it's HIM.  There is something (inside him) that is compelling him to engage in these behaviors.  He can run across the country or move to a new one.  It will follow him (and you) until he addresses it head on.  

2. The fact that he has never admitted/confessed anything to you is a BIG RED FLAG.  He's still trying to minimize it to himself.  This is not a safe place for you.  I would suggest insisting on counseling - individual for him - and later, possibly relationship counseling for you both.  He's not been able to make the changes on his own... and sounds like a ticking time bomb.  If he refuses, I'd consider whether this is a relationship you want to remain in.  You can heal yourself 100% - what you cannot do is make someone else chose to change or grow,  You healing will only provide you with the strength to make good decisions for your own well-being.  That may need to include leaving someone who is unwilling to practice deep self-reflection and a commitment to making you safe.  
BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child
DD May 2016

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl
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Keepabuzz
JKoloseik wrote:
2.5 years after DD, and unfortunately we're not doing much better, even though my husband thinks we are. His AP was with a woman at work, most of which was sexting. After months of not being strong enough to walk away, he asked me to move across the country from Michigan to Texas. I still don't understand why I followed, other than I felt like it was God's will (please, no feedback on that, ok?). His "cold-turkey" didn't work, and immediately he switched to porn, dating sites, even sex toy window shopping! He had never confessed anything to me--ever. Every lie was one I found out or walked in on. Anyhow, through the last couple years I've been non-stop researching and studying how to heal on my own. Every resource exclaims that it is near impossible if the AP is not out of the picture. And even though it's been two years since his actual affair, it still feels like the "AP" is still here. Me question is this: Is the cellphone an AP? The physical AP is not around, but the cellphone is. He swears that he's not done anything; but, like I said, he's never confessed anything to me, so what makes it true this time? I hate his phone. I feel like there is always another woman in the room in the form of a stupid black slab of plastic. And I hate my thoughts toward that phone. It's just a phone. But I wonder ... Is it? Should I be viewing it as an AP? Thanks everyone!


I don’t think the phone is the problem. The phone sounds like a trigger for you. My wife’s certainly was for me for a long time. I think your problem is your husband’s lack of honesty. I don’t believe it is possible to heal from betrayal while still with the one that betrayed you, and they are not being honest.  Sounds to me like you need some firm, nonnegotiable boundaries. I would put spy software on his phone, and computer. GPS, and a voice activated audio recorder in his car. But that’s just me. 
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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TimT
I agree with the above cautions. It's hard to establish trust when there has been no willing confession. If your husband is claiming that there is nothing more, then it might be helpful to see what comes out of his work in the Understanding WHY course. That course is not just about answering questions about the past, but clearly identifying what change looks like. You might have more hope if he had a clear answer to questions like these: What have you learned about yourself? What's different now? (The answer to that last one has to be more than just "I'm not going to do THAT anymore." There needs to be clear insight and conviction about the change.)
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ThrivenotSurvive
I do think that Tim's course could be a GREAT starting point for him.  My husband has always struggled with counseling (though he did some after DD) but found it far easier to explore the issues with the help of books and courses like Tim's  Some we did together - some he did on  his own.  But the key is that when going it alone you need to have the resolve and commitment to stick with it when it becomes really, really uncomfortable.  Counselors often can help with that accountability, so scheduling some follow up counseling sessions with Tim might be a great way to get the best result.
BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child
DD May 2016

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl
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JKoloseik
He did have all kinds of blocks and passwords and protection/spy apps... But after a year, I found out he still found a way. That was a few weeks ago. I removed everything and told him I'm done being his only accountability partner. Since then, he's been in his phone non-stop, no accountability, and expects me to believe he's changed. I'm lost. Luckily, I've surrounded myself with great Christian supporters, but they really don't understand, they play devil's advocate, so I keep quiet.
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ThrivenotSurvive
Nothing about that would make me feel optimistic about the future.  Finding ways around the blocks but for some reason you are supposed to trust? 

I think you may need to make some serious decisions about what you are prepared to live with.  As Keep said, you need boundaries - and a clear idea of what you are prepared to do if they are not met. 
BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child
DD May 2016

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl
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JKoloseik
Would you give me ideas on boundaries? I've researched it like crazy, like how a boundary needs to be something "I" do, not a rule I place on him. So, what determines the difference? He is seeing counseling now, but after so much time of figuring out how to play the low tide, I wonder if his counseling is just another game. Another one I'm waiting for is accountability, accountability team, and weekly meetings... A promise he made two and a half years ago and  still has not done. That tells me, yeah, he can blow sunshine on a counselor, but he's scared he can't with accountability. I know that's conjecture, I know, but games initiate conjecture. I gotta stop the guessing... I just don't know how.
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JKoloseik
Oh, and all of you... Thank you. I wish you knew how much your words mean. I feel so alone, and often I feel like the bad guy. I work very hard on not "stalking" but people still make me feel like one. Even before his blocks and spy apps, I rarely checked, yet I nearly always found something when I did. 
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hurting
You’re not the bad guy. He is. 

People change only if they have the will to do so. My husband did some of those things too. I am his only accountability partner which sucks. I am fully aware that if he wants to get around what measures I put in place, he can.

i initially installed a porn blocker on his computer (which he knew about). So he ended up on forums looking for links to other sources of porn, then looked up brothel websites ‘for the pictures’ (right...)

Do I trust him after THOSE kinds of actions? Lol. Well. He’s the one that forced me not to. I really wanted to believe in him so badly... that I burnt myself in the process. It takes a LOT of consistent behaviour to even begin to build up the tiniest crumb of trust again from stuff like this. 

The biggest thing that happened was that on discovery of this further betrayal (seperate to the affair), he finally admitted that he had a problem with pornography. It’s an addiction to him- one that he didn’t recognise as a problem till I walked out. What makes it harder is that porn and sexualised images are SO COMMON place in society. People view it as ‘normal’. Boys are told it’s ‘healthy’ to masturbate etc. honestly? There’s nothing healthy about compulsively searching for  arousing content of other people and objectifying them for the purpose of self pleasure, and being unable to maintain or put a REAL LIFE relationship first and actually enjoy what you have right in front of you, as opposed to on a screen in the form of a bunch of pixels. 

My husband has since minimised his time on the computer (which still has the blocker installed). I have access to his phone whenever I want it, though he always gets a bit quiet when he sees me go through it, he never makes any moves to stop me. He has parental control (ugh!) activated mainly for the purpose of being unable to delete history in case I wanted to check. Of course, if he wanted, all he needed to do was to get another phone. But he’s willing to give me these measures and let me check whenever I want. He was also willing to relinquish his debit card and not hold onto any cash, using only a joint credit card so I could see where any and all funds were spent. He gets paid into our joint account. 

It has been over a year since the last betrayal and ongoing open behaviour, and we are taking baby steps towards change.

it might be interesting for you (and maybe him) to take a look at the website yourbrainonporn. 
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JKoloseik
Thank you so much for your words. It's sad that others go through this, but it's easier when you feel less alone.
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ThrivenotSurvive
JKoloseik wrote:

Would you give me ideas on boundaries? I've researched it like crazy, like how a boundary needs to be something "I" do, not a rule I place on him. So, what determines the difference? He is seeing counseling now, but after so much time of figuring out how to play the low tide, I wonder if his counseling is just another game. Another one I'm waiting for is accountability, accountability team, and weekly meetings... A promise he made two and a half years ago and  still has not done. That tells me, yeah, he can blow sunshine on a counselor, but he's scared he can't with accountability. I know that's conjecture, I know, but games initiate conjecture. I gotta stop the guessing... I just don't know how.


Boundaries are determined by you, for you.  It is what you can live with and what you can not.  It has nothing to do with manipulating or controlling the other person.  They are free to meet your boundaries or not.  But if they choose not to, you will see that as your cue to make other arrangements for the rest of your life.  

For example - When my husband and I discussed reconciliation I told him that i was willing to try - providing that he go NC with the ex-AP outside of strictly work-related communications.  If for some reason she contacted him that was unrelated to work, he needed to save the message and allow me to see it and then we'd determine together how to respond (and this did indeed end up happening.)  I asked that he put location services on his phone.  I asked for access to all his social media accounts and that we block her on mine and his.  I asked that I have access to his phone anytime I wanted.  

These had nothing to do with controlling him - my husband is an extremely smart and tech-savvy person.  I knew that if he WANTED to find a way around them, he certainly could.  That I could not control him, nor did I really want to.  He either had to want me and our marriage enough to make the changes needed, or he needed to let me go so I could find the right partner for the second half of my life.  No in between.  These measures were to reduce her ability to reach out to him, as well as, a way of reducing my need for hyper-vigilance.  

My husband agreed to everything.  Most of the stuff he either did on his own or very willingly.  The location services was the hardest for him.  Not because he planned to do anything wrong - just because it was such a bold reminder that he was no longer trustworthy in my mind. I remember looking at him and agreeing that it sucked.  It sucked for me to have to ask.  And I am sure it sucked for him to comply.  But it was the only way forward for me and that I totally understood if he couldn't live that way - but I couldn't live with him right then without it.  No begging, no yelling, no shaming.  Just here is my line in the sand.  If you don't want to live with it, it's okay.  But that will tell me all I need to know about the future of this relationship, because it is what I need to move forward.

There were other boundaries that were related to attending therapy, reading some materials about helping your spouse in the aftermath of infidelity and talking about what had happened during that time - but all were put forth in the same way.  You dodn't have to do them, but this is what I believe I need to reinvest in this relationship.  

Does that make sense?  What those boundaries are will be different for everyone.  One person may be fine with porn, while another may not.  One may not need location services, while another does.  

There are not RIGHT or WRONG boundaries - only those which YOU need to have a happy, healthy relationship.  There are people who have open marriages who are happy with one another (sounds weird to me, but I knew a couple that legitimately was happy with that lifestyle).  They have their own set of boundaries that make sense to BOTH of them and they BOTH agree to.  No lying.  No coercion.  Others could NEVER be happy in that kind of relationship.  I have known couples who used porn together (not my cup of tea) but it was something enjoyed together and AGREED on.  

That's the KEY.  You need to have your needs met - and you need to be honest about what those are.  Do not bury ones that feel important to you because he (or your friends, family and whoever) don't agree with them.  They don't get to decide what makes you feel safe or loved, or happy in your relationship.

But here's the rub - he may not be able to, or even want to, meet those boundaries.  Many, many people do not feel porn is that big of a deal.  Whether that is a valid point of view is a moot point (in this scenario).    Because if HE doesn't think it is a problem and you do, he may well feel like it is something you should just "get over" or that he feels justified in hiding because you are being "unreasonable".  

If that is the case, it will likely be a futile battle to get him to change. 

So at the end of the day, you need to decide what your boundaries are, and what you are willing to do if he fails to meet them.  Then tell him, and stick to it.  But like any line in the sand - it is meaningless if you aren't willing to  actually do something if they are not respected.  

My husband and I are three years out from DD.  We are in a really, really good place.  He only broke one minor boundary in the first 6 months.  And it set my trust back so far that it took me three days to decide that I would give him another chance.  We went back to square one and I remember telling him (with total honesty) that my desire for self-protection and lack of faith in him was so strong at the moment, that I feared if he accidentally lied about something TINY and UNRELATED (that he'd spent $10 more a the store than he said he had) - that it'd be the death knell of our relationship.  That he'd made our relationship so fragile that it would only take the TINIEST infraction to make me leave.  That it was actually taking every bit of courage, strength and love I had to try and stay.  

He became very, very clear that our marriage was HIS to lose - not mine to save.  I wasn't being unreasonable or making him "toe the line".  I was being HONEST about how fragile my feelings were and how much a part of me wanted to run in the other direction from him (the one who had hurt me).  It was on him to give me reason to believe I was safe with him.  

I hope this helps.  You may also want to check out some of the materials on the main site for this forum.  There is a manual for betrayed spouses that might help you as well.  
BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child
DD May 2016

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl
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JKoloseik
That was a well-written reply. Your words confirm all that I've read. But I am still unclear.

I've told him repeatedly what it would take to create a safe environment, but I never gave him a "deadline." I only made the deadline in my head. 

However, when we moved to Texas we have faced one "external" dilemma after another. We lost our home in Hurricane Harvey, and what we hadn't lost, was stolen during our moves trying to get back on our feet. We lost nearly everything. We've finally landed in our feet late last year and are living in an RV park.

All along, we've discussed my boundaries, but he's not done anything. My "internal" deadlines kept expanding because of our circumstances, but it's been almost a year now since our lifestyle has been stable.

Last June I walked in on him, and immediately put blocks and spy apps on his phone. We had discussed it all along since DD, but he never made the choice to do it on his own. Since then, we've slept in separate rooms. But even that, being alone for a year, has prompted minimal change.

A couple months ago, he started personal counseling, but he still displays affair behavior (no self-control, no self-discipline practices, free spending, lying, exaggerating stories to everyone, no follow through, repeated broken promises-all things we've discussed that he knows are examples of non affair behavior). So, the choice to go to counseling, again, was after an argument. The choice wasn't sincerely his own. It was damage control. 

Two weeks ago, after "learning" he was still accessing the internet through a cleaning app (he swears he didn't know about it, but I believe he's lying, because it was in his history cards), I removed all the blocks and spy apps. I discussed it with him, and he knows that my actions were because I gave up, not because I suddenly trust him. Furthermore, he has not shared the incident with his counselor, and he tells everyone who knows-including his counselor- how great we're doing. 

Even though he knows what prompted me removing the blocks, since then, his phone has become his best friend again. No action to help me feel safe. 

So, I guess what I'm trying to describe is, he knows my boundaries, he understands what will make me feel safe, but he's waiting for me to "make him."

I am pretty sure if I give him my boundaries-with an expressed deadline-he'll do it. But it won't be something he chose. 

My question is, do I explain my boundaries once again, only this time with a deadline? I will always question his resolve and his motive, if-from his perspective-he thinks it was an ultimatum. 

It's tough, because now we've made a life here, and I can't afford to leave him and lose health insurance, so on top of worrying about his motives, I'm also worried about if I'll have the ability to follow-through. 
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Keepabuzz
After my wife’s confession on d-day I laid out boundaries, the deadline for me was immediate. There was no timeline. There was “I want nothing more than to divorce you, if I stay and even consider giving you a chance that you don’t deserve, here are the things you will and won’t do. If you choose not to agree to my terms, right there is the door. If you violate any of my terms or boundaries, I will send you out that door. None of my terms or boundaries are up for debate, discussion, or negotiation. I owe you nothing, I guarantee nothing, Even if you don’t violate any of my boundaries, I very well may still send you out that door.”  

You have to decide for yourself what you are willing to live with, and what you aren’t.  Make it clear what you will not stand for, and make it very clear what will happen if he violates it.  Like others have said, this isn’t about control, this about standing up for yourself. 
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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JKoloseik
Thank you. Everyone's words here are so helpful in gaining the proper perspective.
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