AngieB

Hello.  I am new to this site and have found the information here helpful thus far.  I am in utter devastation and feel lost.  I'm in so much pain, it's hard for me to focus on anything and I feel desperate to heal.  I'm hoping you all can share some insight.

Six weeks ago, I noticed my husband's behavior was very cold and distant.  He wouldn't say much more than he was stressed at work and at home.  We have two boys, ages 7 and 4, and he did most of their drop off and pick up because of my work schedule.  I earn the higher salary, work long hours and have a long commute.

I kept pushing him to talk to me and a week later he reiterated the stress he was feeling. He also told me he was feeling “empty and dark” and that he had felt that way for a long time.  I was terrified for him.  We had never had marital issues (so I thought) and he had never told me anything of this nature in the 10 years we've been married.  I kept trying to talk to him more over the next week, but the coldness and distance got worse.  One Friday night, about 26 days ago, I looked at his phone and discovered texts messages from one of his direct report employees.  He is having an emotional affair which took off romantically in mid-march, though I think they were "friends" before that.  He swears to me they have not had sex.  I believe him - not because I'm naive, but because he has an STD which he says he has told her about.  But they have kissed, held hands, etc.

I asked him to leave because I couldn’t emotionally handle living in the same house with him knowing he was cheating.  He’s staying with friends, an invitation open to him for 6 months.

The woman he is cheating with has been married for 16 years, has two teenage sons and still lives at home with her husband and kids.  I learned from her husband that this is the third time she has had an affair with a married man.  I know that she was sexually abused as a child.  When my husband talks about her, he touts "all that she has been through..." and how beautiful of a person she is. He says he is in love with her and cannot walk away.  He says he doesn't love me anymore and no longer wants to be married.  He claims that, even if she were not in the picture, he would still not want our marriage.  He said he has not loved me for 2 or 3 years and now believes our marriage was built on physical intimacy.  

I feel devastated.  I never knew anything about this before now and I never got the chance to address it while there was a door still open.  Now, I feel like I will never get that chance to try and work this out.

All of this is grossly out of character for my husband, who was raised with a strong religious upbringing and has always been morally sound.  He turned 40 in March and I wondered if he wasn’t having a mid-life crisis.  Both of our families and friends are in complete shock.

I desperately want him to come home and for us to get counseling.  But he says he is not there because he is in love with her and doesn't want to reconcile with me.  I feel like we can't even talk to each other about basic things, like the kids, money or the house.  He and I both feel like we need help to figure out how to talk to each other – how to get past this huge wall of hurt we are experiencing, but he is clear he is not interested at this time in reconciling.  He just wants us to be able to talk to each other about the kids, etc.  How do we do this?  It hurts to talk to him because he is cold and emotionless, saying he has “chosen” to internalize his feelings.  Meanwhile I am falling apart and he looks at me like I’m unstable. His lack of emotion makes me feel like he doesn't care about the pain he has caused.  I don't know what to do about the communication - do I keep talking as a step toward healing, or do I keep distant because things are still so raw?

I also get the feeling from him that he is conflicted.  He still wears his wedding ring.  I asked him why and he said “because we’re still married.”   He wants us to be able to communicate, too.  I feel like he is emotionally hurting and this woman is a distraction from his own pain.  She is a light in a dark place. 

Meanwhile, I feel like I am doing everything wrong.  The emotional roller-coaster I am on is killing me.  One minute I am prayerful, wanting peace and love to guide this process.  The next, I am enraged and want to lash out at him.  I try to avoid him as much as possible, but we have to cross paths because of the kids. 

I am seeing a counselor and have a good foundation of emotional support.  But I still can't shake this desire to try and manipulate the situation.  I have spoken to his family, who, in turn, has called him to try and talk sense into him.  I have investigated his phone and whereabouts at times, though I have stopped doing that.  I still can’t seem to shake this need to try and fix it – though my rational mind understands that I can’t change his actions.  And I know, when I do this, and when I lash out, I just push him further away.

Please…. Please help me.  I love him so much and I desperately want him to come home. 

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UrbanExplorer
I felt much like you described he is feeling when I was having an affair and soon after it came out. My AP was also abused and had a difficult life, and because I am rather codependent, the chance to be a helper to him appealed to me. We were light places in each other's lives. I was genuinely unhappy in my marriage, but it took me a few months after the affair came out to stop blaming the affair on my anyone else and start seeing it as a choice. It was based on unmet needs but not healthy for anyone, and the consequences were massive.

I suspect it will take your husband a bit to come out of the fog and that there isn't much you can do to speed it up other than give him space and take care of yourself. While he is in the midst of this, feeling confused and ashamed and still infatuated, he won't be able to see your marriage clearly and be able to take necessary steps to heal it with you, if you want to reconcile at that point. His feelings for the OW are likely to fizzle.
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UrbanExplorer
Also, my husband and I are in discernment counseling, and it has been very helpful. There is no pressure involved.
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Fionarob
AngieB - I feel your pain, really I do.  I have been exactly where you are now and it is so so painful.  I completely understand your need to manipulate the situation and to want to fix things.  I was also like that.  I sought out all sorts of advice/books/articles and was convinced we could get through it and everything would get fixed.

Unfortunately my husband was not in the same place.  He was also in love with his AP and didn't really know what he wanted.  I can see now that I convinced him to choose me and the family, when really he was completely ambivalent.  As a result he came home, but the affair continued without my knowledge.  Every few months he would slip up and I would find out he was still seeing the AP.  Every time it became more painful, especially as I was doing so much to try and fix things and all the time he was still having an affair.

This life went on for 2.5 years until finally, last month, I realised I couldn't do it anymore.  My husband has left.  Our marriage is over.  I am devastated for my two children, I never wanted this to happen but I felt I no longer had a choice.  My husband also claims he didn't want this.  Unfortunately he was never strong enough to leave his AP for me or his children. 

If you try and convince your husband to come back then you are in danger of doing the same as me, especially as he is saying he doesn't want to be with you anymore.  This is the hardest thing you will ever have to do but you will probably have to let him go and not try and fight it too much.  I know this is so hard, I don't think I could have done it even if someone had given me this advice.  I know your instinct is to save the marriage/family, just like I wanted to and tried to.

A good article to read on this site is Winning back your wayward spouse - I wish I had read it when I first discovered my husband's affair.  Also - are you really sure this affair was only emotional?? To leave a marriage just for an emotional affair that has only been going a few weeks seems very extreme.

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sunflower07
AngieB,

I am so sorry and there are so many similarities between us. I'm about 6 months from DDay of my husband's affair. She was also married with 2 children. He was "in love" with her and she was also abused, told him she was raped when she was 11. My husband was her "hero and soulmate". That is until he found out she was having a second affair at the same time she was having an affair with him. I tell you these things because things are never as good as the WS reports to the BS.

My husband was so cold and cruel to me during his affair. I could barely take it. Once I discovered his affair, it all made sense.

I would definitely recommend the Wandering Spouse article. It helped me a great deal. Also, investigate the 180 degrees theory. Put yourself first. At first, I struggled with doing everything I could to win my husband back. It wasn't until I used some of the advice from the articles that things began to get better.

It took my husband about 4 months to end the affair and he is finally coming out of the fog. What he tells me now is very different from what he told me initially. We still have struggles every day and I suspect we will for some time. Trust is so HARD to regain.

Also, my husband also told me it was only an emotional affair for the first 3 months. I then discovered it was also sexual and that it had actually started 10 years ago, although they had a 6 year break. Don't believe that he is telling you everything.

Hope this helps!
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AngieB
Thank you so much for your replies and your honestly.  The insight is so helpful.

UrbanExplorer, thank you for the details you shared.  I honestly believe my husband is walking a very similar path to the one you were on.  I have come to a place where I am accepting that "waiting it out" is all I can do.  I also think I need to surround the situation with love and grace, being kind to him even if I feel like he doesn't deserve it.  I'm not saying I will compromise my own well being and what is best for me and my boys, but I will make it a point to be kind when I see him and push away the anger and rage I feel at times.  Also, I recently read about discernment counseling and am glad to hear you have had a positive experience with it.  I will keep it in mind should we get to that point.  May I ask you one other thing - how did your BS handle the situation when he found out?  Did anything your BS say/do impact you either for the good or bad?

Fionarob, I appreciate your story so much.  I can feel that when I let myself go to that "investigative" place, or if I focus on the thoughts of them together, I spiral downward.  I am working to accept that I cannot change his mind.  I am also grateful for the insight that if he returned because he was pushed or manipulated, it would yield negative results.  I think exercising patience is all I can do now.  With respect to the affair being emotional/physical, I think it's both.  He swears to me they have not had sexual intercourse.  He did not tell her about his STD initially - honestly, it's not something that's an issue between us, but would be for a new partner.  The second time I asked him about it, I reminded him that in the state we live in, it's a criminal offense to knowingly infect someone with an STD.  At that point he said he told the AP, and that her response was "well, that's not even close to being an issue right now..."  Based on his body language, I don't know if I believe him or that he ever actually told her.  I read many of his text messages when I first discovered the affair.  It was obvious there had been some kind of physical intimacy.  He has told me more than once they have not had sex but kissed, held hands and hugged.  I'm sure there is more to it than that, especially since we have separated.  But it's hard to know whether he is telling the truth about anything right now.

My sense is that this was all very new to him before DDay.  I tracked his cell call and text records. I can see the uptick in texting and calls between them.  He confirmed it had been happening for about three weeks when I discovered it but says they have been friends at work before then.  He was just starting to enjoy the attention from the AP and was still in the new phase of his affair fog when I started picking up on his behavior.  Because I pushed him to talk to me, he had to say something - that's when I got the "I don't love you anymore."  Two days later I discovered the texts.  He was like a deer in headlights when I confronted him.  We talked for some time that evening and agreed he needed time to think about what he was doing to us and our boys. He packed a bag the next morning (Saturday) and went for a week to his family's farm to "figure things out."  He was supposed to ask her to not communicate with him for the week he was there.  48 hours after he arrived, however, she started texting him and saying (according to him) that she was backing out.  I feel like this was a manipulation on her part, because then he fought to keep her.  By Monday, he was calling me to say he couldn't let go.  So, there's a big part of me that feels like he never had time to think anything out at all.  It all happened so fast and it is still moving very quickly, according to my counselor.

This affair has impacted literally EVERY aspect of his life.  Because he was her boss, he tells me "they" went to their employer and told HR.  She was moved to another department (which I have confirmed) but they still see each other almost daily.  Their colleagues know what is happening and he tells me people look at him differently.  Most of our closest friends know, as well as family on both sides.  And he is not living at home.  I feel like he is in over his head and, if he wanted to return, may not know how to handle it.  So, maybe that makes him want to stay in the fog longer.

He has to have major surgery, which is scheduled for July 18.  He will need a place to recover and there will be a long road of rehab and other needs.  The last time I spoke to him, he told me he intended to go through with it.  He said he was looking at options but had not come up with anything.  I am wondering - and cautious - if the impending date will weigh on him.  I don't want him returning because he has no other choice.

Meanwhile I am trying to navigate my own emotions and caring for myself and my boys.  The boys are struggling to understand, especially my 7-year old who is very smart.  He told me the other day "no one will tell me why Daddy left.  I keep asking but he doesn't answer me.  I am going to keep asking until someone tells me."  My counselor said my H needs to be the one to respond.

Thank you all again for your kindness!
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UrbanExplorer
When I first told my BS, he said, "It's OK. No one is perfect. We can work it out." It was an eerily calm response that absolutely threw me. I felt I had to immediately fix things, so I got us into MC that actually made the situation worse because I was still in a fog, missing my AP, worrying about the attack my AP's BS was launching against me, and going down a shame spiral. My BS was also hysterically bonding with me, and it was overwhelming and felt sort of manipulative in the blaming/resentful mental state I had ("You are trying to get me to stay now, but you ignored my needs for years."). I long struggled with codependency and autonomy and having a voice in the marriage, so the pressure on me to make everything right with him gave me a sick feeling and pushed me away. When I pulled away, my BS was furious and confrontational.

I am still not quite sure if we will stay together long term, but what feels like it is helping is both of us taking a time out with less angry confrontation or romantic pressure. Also, in therapy, I have come to see how I contribute to disempowering relationship dynamics and was even doing that in my affair! Thus, switching one relationship for another was likely to have a similar result. I know I have to own my choices, past and future. If I stay in the marriage, I need to actively choose monogamy because I believe it is healthy for me and necessary if I am to be with my husband. I need to actively participate in setting boundaries in multiple areas of my life so I don't let people just waltz in and have my time and attention and maybe even my affection. Healing my marriage means dealing with more than the affair.

I realize all of this might sound like unfair crap to a BS, because the WS has truly done major wrong and seemingly needs to make amends for the betrayal immediately. My feeling is that if the WS is not yet thinking clearly, then forcing him/her to reconcile and follow rules might backfire or send the affair underground. On the other hand, some of Michelle Weiner-Davis' divorce busting talks and articles resonate quite a bit.
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Fionarob
AngieB - I really feel for your 7 year old, they are old enough to understand when things don't add up.  When we told our children that Daddy was leaving we said it was because we were unhappy together and we were having lots of arguments.  In my son's eyes (he is 8) we were happy and we didn't argue (we never argued when they were around.)  He just didn't understand why we were separating - as far as he was concerned we were a happy family unit who all loved each other.  He just kept saying "but you are happy, I don't understand."  My husband tried to explain it to him by saying that lots of little things have happened over time that have led to us being unable to get along.  My son's response was "why didn't you tell me about the little things, then it wouldn't have been such a shock finding out this big thing?"  Anyone that says that children are too young to understand can underestimate the wisdom of children.  If only my husband had the same insight and maturity as our 8 year old, then he wouldn't have let those 'little things' turn into such a big thing.

I don't know if one day they will find out the truth, my husband will probably never want them to know, but I do wonder if they will ask questions when they are older or put two and two together.  As far as I know my husband is still in a relationship with his AP, so it will only be a matter of time before my children meet her........and then the questions might come.  People say don't involve your children in adult matters, but sometimes they work things out for themselves.  I have chosen not to tell them the real reason Daddy has left, but I am not sure that it will remain a secret forever. 
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UrbanExplorer
I felt I had to tell my oldest (11) that I got too close to someone else (because of the gossip at his school), and he said it was creepy to thinking of anyone else "liking" me. We also try not to discuss or argue in front of the kids, but the oldest overheard my husband yelling at me a couple of times since the affair. It's true that the kids will sort some of it out.
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sunflower07
"Because he was her boss, he tells me "they" went to their employer and told HR. She was moved to another department (which I have confirmed) but they still see each other almost daily. Their colleagues know what is happening and he tells me people look at him differently."

This is so hard and I am still living with the fact my husband works with his AP although not the same hours and not even in the same area most of the time. He put his wedding ring back on Feb 20th and he's only seen her once since then. It's very hard having the constant threat of contact with the AP hang over you. I can see why most of the advice is no contact at all costs even if you need to change jobs.

In June of 2006, my husband's work pager went off on an early Sunday morning. "I know we said we weren't going to text, but I just can't help myself." This was my very first clue that something was going on. I confronted my husband and he told me he was "talking to someone". I asked him to stop and he said he did. I didn't really push him and I just assumed it was over. He worked with her but later left that job. He continued to stay in contact with her but I didn't know it.

Fast forward to 2014 when they began a full blown affair which included him returning to where she worked. I later found out that it was sexual from 2005 until 2007. She had a newborn baby when their sexual affair started in 2005. In 2014, it became much more emotional between them. DDay was Nov 2015.

Oh how I wish I could go back to 2006 and redo things with the knowledge I have today. My biggest wish right now is that my husband could find a different job so his AP could become a non issue forever. We've talked about it but we would need to move to make it happen.

His affair is the hardest thing I have had to go through in my adult life apart from a death of a family member. This just never ends! I feel like we are stuck in an awful place because I cannot yet forgive him or trust him. Everything is changed forever. I struggle everyday with staying in my marriage.

Its sad that me to read about so many others going through this. I can't even imagine having younger children. Mine are at least 16 and 19. They know because I finally told them because my husband was so nasty to them too. I didn't want them to blame themselves. I know I made the right decision because they both seemed so relieved after.

Sorry I'm rambling. I just need to get it out and posting here has helped me.

I just want to feel normal again!!

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AngieB
Sunflower07, thanks for posting.  The whole thing with the kids is really hard.  When he is not in an affair fog, my husband is normally really tender-hearted.  He cries all the time.  But last night, my 7 year old was on the phone with my I could hear my husband's end of the conversation (the speaker on the phone was loud). I think he was with the AP at the time of the call.  He was kind of cold, saying, "It's okay buddy" in this kind of patronizing way.  Meanwhile, my son was pouring his heart out and saying he missed all the things they used to do together.  It made me sick to hear it.

I need to figure out what to tell my son.  Generalizing and telling him we have "grown up problems" is not cutting it. 
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surviving
AngieB - I feel the one that left the marriage is the one to do the telling.  My answer to my kids specific questions is they will have to ask their Dad.  Then it is up to him what he wants to tell them.  Now he might lie to them like he lied to me all those years, but that is also his problem.  Your children are quite young, my children were 16-34 years old.  My husband told them "most" of the issues, he kept the grosser stuff to himself.  But, at least my children know that it wasn't my choice, it was completely his to step out of the marriage.
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Mia2003
Hi angie, sorry you are here. With regards to what to tell the children I didn't have a choice as my h took it upon himself to tell them but he made out it all started after he left.

But I have seen my 9 year old become very astute about the whole situation as the year has gone on. Kids know more than you think. From my point of view at the moment just ensure you answer any questions they may have in an age appropriate way.

Mid life crisis.....who knows....that's what I think about my h he is behaving so out of character but having said that he has never had an affair before ( that I am aware of) . Look after yourself.
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