The following account will reveal the damage I have done. My Wife and I have been married for 19 years, been together for 23 years and have known each other for 32 years of our 43.
About 8 years ago, I started down a very slippery slope of what ended up being an emotional affair with a former Jr. high school girlfriend that contacted me on Facebook. The further along I got in the communications, the more I was sucked into the fantasy of things, up to the point that I decided I would leave my wife (of 15 years) and kids and move half way across the country to be with this person who I didn’t even really know and hadn’t seen in 20 some years. My Wife desperately tried everything she could to get me to work things out. I gave her so many excuses, including telling her that I didn't love her but she was the persistent one trying to save our marriage and family. I finally managed to get my head out of my a** and let her know that I was willing to work things out and that I wasn't going to be leaving. We had one disclosure talk and from that point on, we didn't talk about it much and more or less swept it under the rug, trying to put it behind us.
Fast forward to a little over a year ago (just after our anniversary in May 2013), after many company changes due to never really being happy and a move to a new house at my request and feeling lost, I signed up on Ashley Madison. This led to me emailing several women over a 3 month period. Three months later in August I met up with one lady for coffee and then met my AP (a coffee in a park). It didn't go any further than that and I continued my ‘search’ on AM. In late November I sent the OW an email and we started communicating again. We decided we’d go out on a ‘date’, December 12 (my in-laws anniversary) and spent the evening out for dinner and a hockey game that followed by making out in my truck. From that point on we’d get together whenever we could and I was throwing out every lie I could come up with in order to spend time with her. After a short time we started planning a ‘getaway’ for the New Year. I started laying the groundwork for a ‘work retreat’ in the Mountains. On the evening of January 9th, my AP picked me up and we headed to the mountains for two days where I completely destroyed my vows by sleeping together, while having dropped all my family and Coaching responsibilities, leaving my wife carrying the responsibility while I was out acting single.
After the two days and leaving the mountains, I raced down to be where I was supposed to be with guilt all over my face and spent the next day and a half acting like nothing had happened. Over the next couple of weeks we got together as much as we could and had arranged another rendezvous.
In late January I woke up one morning to discover that a text string I kept had been read. I immediately figured that my wife had been in my phone but she never said anything over the next couple of days and of course I never either; hoping that I was just imaging that she knew. A few days later, after the kids went to bed, My Wife finally confronted me and said ‘she knew’ and ‘I knew she knew’. She told me that was my time to come clean and all I offered up was the acknowledgement of it but told her I wasn’t talking about it and didn’t know if I wanted to fix it and then in usual fashion, I shut down and once again let her do all the talking.
After that night, I stayed in my shutdown mode and continued to see the OW, including spending the better part of superbowl Sunday with her before racing out to be at a hockey game. I had continued to lie about it, all the while She knew. The day after superbowl Sunday, I did the unthinkable, lied again, made up an excuse to want to be alone and went to a hotel and slept with my AP again. That same day I had sent an email, that was a pretty sad attempt to explain my actions and saying that I knew this was about me and how messed up I am. I ended it just over a week later but didn’t bother to tell my Wife that I had nor did I give her the opportunity to be a part of it, saying that I was trying to avoid the whole thing and hoped it would just go away on its own.
About 3 weeks after ending it, we finally sat down for our first (of what took 4) disclosure dates. I would like to tell you guys that I did the right things but the first statement out of my mouth was a lie and she let me know she knew it. As the conversation went on, I continued to lie, deceive and minimize my actions. With some of the story out, we pushed forward. We have done and gone through a lot over the last 15 months and the trickle truth continued until January of this year, I was still lying to her and to myself. I knew I had to come clean and get to ground zero but I knew that the things I still had to tell would make me look like a monster and so I held onto them and She knew because the story didn't add up. On January 1st we finally hit ground zero (full-disclosure) and it included how I had lied about being with my AP during one date when in fact I had slept with her after confrontation; after being asked to choose my Wife.
So now let me tell you how I think you can hopefully learn from my/our experience. First and foremost, if you're considering an affair; DON'T. There is absolutely nothing more painful than doing this to your Spouse. You will take everything she has/is or will be and the devastation is unfathomable. If you're considering it, do the honorable thing and either talk to her or leave...those are your two options. What I have done to my Wife is absolutely horrible and there is not one part of her that deserved the treatment and pain I have bestowed on her. If its too late for the option above, then be brutally honest from the start. Yes it will be the hard, you will want to do everything you can to protect yourself and her from the damage but let me tell you that stringing along the lies will only make it worse and it will constantly set you back in recovery...believe me when I tell you this. Our marriage was on life-support because of my continued deceit and lack of willingness to fully disclose all my sordid details. Any progress you make under those lies will seem worthless. You will have shattered all trust and in its wake the only thing you will have is to be completely honest.
During all this time, in spite of my kept secrets, we had both been very active in reading articles, books and websites to try and gain some insights on how to try and recover from this and for the first time in both of my affairs I am making a very concerted effort to understand myself and why I do these things; to get to the 'why' of it all. My heart is absolutely in this (and my Wife acknowledges that she feels that) and I am truly listening and empathizing, feel an extreme amount of guilt and shame for everything I have done and put her through. I have removed all passwords on email and facebook so that she can check up on me and have installed a GPS tracker on my phone so that she can verify that I am where I say. I am trying hard to learn to express myself instead of the usual ‘I don’t know’s’. I signed up for and did a handful of email therapy sessions with a counsellor through a program at work but they weren’t ‘infidelity specific’ and don’t know that they really served the way we had hoped as he more or less congratulated me for what I was saying so my suggestion is, if one doesn't work, try another and another. I signed up for Hope for Healing which made a huge difference, making me look deep inside myself; my Wife has completed the companion program (Harbouring Hope) as well to help her. I have also been working through Recovery Nation, but it doesn't stop there if you hope to recover for this; we're looking at all options for further help on the heals of this.
I can only hope that something I have written here will help you wake up to the devastation that affairs will cost you...of course the full impact can never be expressed here in a blog. The recovery is a very long and painful one, none greater than your Spouse but if you really care, it will be a long and hurtful one for you as well as you both process the pain and agony of your actions. Do whatever it takes, BE HONEST and learn from people like myself. All my previous lies continue to haunt us in the light of trying to clear them up...those I remember and those I don't.
I'm still working on the 'why's' and 'justifications' for what I have done and know that this is going to be a major key in survival. I can't guarantee that my marriage will survive and I lose everything that has ever mattered to me; my wife and kids, but I will work tirelessly to do everything I can to try.