Searching4
Please help me understand what I can do at this point in our rebuilding. Recap: 15 year sexual affair. Discovery was almost five years ago. H is a changed man and a wonderful partner in every way except that the only time we talk about his affair is when I bring it up. He will talk about it then, and answer my questions, but he has forgotten many details. I tend to wait for the right time to talk about it. I want to enjoy "normal" times with him, but I still think about it every day, imagine them together, question things that happened in our past, and still feel crushed over the betrayal and angry about the injustice. I'all never understand why he didn't leave me for her when I was a young woman and had a chance to find happiness in my life. He says that was never a consideration, that he would not have ever wanted to be with her in a normal relationship. She was just a sexual outlet for work stresses. I guess he hadn't considered going to a gym.

Besides being transparent with his communications and whereabouts and patient with my questions, he is loving, attentive, kind (he wasn't any of these during the affair years) and very, very happy. In fact, he says he never thinks about the affair or his married affair partner unless I bring it up.

There is still a huge hole in me and I wonder regularly if I can continue living like this. I go through cycles of being hopeful, grateful,......almost happy, then I slide back into doubts, comparisons, images and pain.

We can be lying in bed holding each other one minute, and then I feel that I want to scream. I sometimes have to slip out of bed quietly and sleep elsewhere so that I stop thinking of him holding her. My heart is still so broken.

Is there something that we/he/I can do to help get out of this rut? We have seen four councillors, read many books and articles, have had many many many discussions and spend all of our free time together. Is it me?

What "work" should he be doing other than being the husband I always wanted? As far as his understanding of "why" this happened, he says it was easy and convenient, he was selfish and the OW was always willing and available. She worked for him and so they were together every day. It all happened in a "fantasy bubble". He didn't think of me when he was with her. In fact, for 15 years, he claims he never ever thought of consequences, what it was doing to our marriage, to me (who he always "loved") or even to her family. Any feelings of guilt were quickly put out of his mind. I find this so hard to wrap my mind around. It is like he changed character totally, then switched back, yet he doesn't seem concerned about that, just happy now, and relieved it's over.

Sorry this was so long. Any insights?
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Heidi
Hi Searching. I'm so sorry you're still going through this, and can understand how hard it must feel to know you and your WH are doing so many things to make things better, but you're still feeling so sad. It's heartbreaking.

My story is different to yours. I'm 18 months out after discovering a 3 week affair. Later I discovered another physical encounter with a different woman that happened 15 years previously. I felt as though our lives together had been a lie. He'd hidden his first discretion for 15 years and barely thought about it. Now I think about it (and his more recent affair) multiple times a day.

And that's the worst part, it's the BS who thinks about it so much more than the WS, even though we weren't the ones to make a horrendous decision in the first place.

I've been working very hard on acceptance. On working this awful experience into my life story, of owning what happened to me and saying 'yes, I've been betrayed. But I've grown strong, become a deeper, more knowing person'. No matter what happens in my marriage, I won't let this destroy me.

I don't know if you've ever read the book 'Man's Search for Meaning' by Victor Frankl, but it's written by a holocaust survivor who used his experiences to learn about how we process trauma. It opened my eyes and showed me how much of our healing has to come from within, and how survival has to come from a positive mindset.

That's easier said than done, of course, but in all of this I've had to find a determination to survive. Once I found that, I realised that for me survival meant accepting my story. Accepting I'll think about it many times a day but I'll still be okay. Finding that strength from within is what we have to do to stop the fear from taking over. And it's a battle, every day.

You ARE a survivor. You're already making it. This is part of your story now, but it doesn't have to always hurt.

I am sorry I can't help much more than this, but please know you aren't alone. It's a struggle so many of us face, and I know how painful it can be.
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Searching4
Thank you Heidi. For your words and your book suggestion.
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Anna26
Searching4,

It sounds like you are afraid to trust again and after everything you've been through I'm not surprised.  Maybe he doesn't bring the subject up because he's reached the place where he doesn't feel it's necessary and thinks you feel that way too. Or like my own husband, he could be not bringing it up because it's a reminder of how he failed.  

  It's true, men compartmentalise more easily than women.  how enabling it must be to be able to lock everything you don't want to deal with in a little box.  But at least he is happy to talk about it if you need to.

It sounds like he is doing everything he possibly can to help you get to a place where you feel safe enough to grow and move on.  But I suspect lots of us hang on to those thoughts too, all those doubts, comparisons and fears.  It's a kind of self torture, almost like we believe we are not allowed to be happy, to forget and to let go. 
  We are all afraid of being betrayed and let down again, to love deeply again.  I know I am. But sometimes I think, what's the alternative? Not risking our hearts and feelings ever again would mean not being given that in return. 
 I know it's difficult, but only you can make the conscious decision not to let the past define your future.  Don't let thoughts of her and what happened take away your power to heal fully.  Push her into the past, where she belongs.
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Keepabuzz
The injustice of it all is really hard to swallow. The WS does all the damage, then we as BS's have to carry it the hurt, and the pain. They seem to get to "do all the right things" and everything is supposed to be ok. Well, it isn't. I don't think it ever will be. Just because there has been forgiveness, and grace shown, it doesn't remove the pain. I'm 14 months out from D-day. I still think about it multiple times a day. Sometimes, it's a passing thought, and I can move past it. That's how it is most of the time now, but other times it drags me back down the rabbit hole of pain and anger. My wife can tell immeadiatly when it happens, just by the look on my face. I have a hard time looking her in eye, during those times. If I do, what she did is all I can see. She knows this too, which brings on her shame, rightfully so. I don't try to push her shame button, but I don't feel a bit guilty when she feels shame because of how I feel. That is not my fault, that is her burden to carry, not mine.


It sucks, it sucks A LOT, but I can't change that. Neither she nor I can undo what she has done. I think that I try to accept that it will never be just, it will never be fair, there is no revenge that would be equitable, the is no payback that would make it right, or even. If I cheated on her, it would not have same effect that her affair had on me. IMO, those that have affairs wouldn't be effected as deeply as those that wouldn't. If they were then they wouldn't do it, or they are just pure evil, but i don't think there are many of those out there. I'm sure it would hurt her if I cheated, I'm sure it would anger her, but not like it hurt and angered me, not by a long shot. She cheated, she wouldn't have that level of utter devastation and shock that I have. I think if I keep trying to figure out someway to make it fair, or even, I will never find peace. That's what I want, peace, peace of mind. Fairness, is a pipedream, and is literally unattainable, at least for me. I have to find a way to be happy, without fairness. It's not right, fair, or equal, but it IS reality for me.

I often wonder how long is this going to take, how long am I going to be broken?. Am I healing, or am I learning to hide the pain better? I don't know the answers to those questions, but I know I feel better than I used to. Her affair and the damage it has caused me doesn't take up the majority of my thoughts through the day. I guess that is progress...
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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Searching4
Thank you for your responses and your support. I'd like your opinions on something. I have asked my H for 5 things to help me to put this behind me. I have been waiting five years for these things and although he originally said he would do ANYTHING if I would give him another chance, he hasn't done any of these things.

1. A timeline of events and his feelings/thinking which led to the A and allowed it to continue

2. Reading posting and responding to this board or another anonymous forum.

3. A letter, written to MOW telling her that love was not involved in their A, that it was a selfish, indulgent and abusive arrangement of which he is ashamed and will regret for the rest of his life.

4. A letter of apology to the other betrayed spouse.

5. Getting her voice off of his business' answering machine.


His reasons for not doing these things?........

1. He feels it is more productive spending that time with me, and his memory is poor.

2. Again, he would prefer to do other things.

3. He refuses to break "no contact" as he fears retribution from her which may affect his business.

4. He doesn't really feel remorse toward the OBS. He wants to let sleeping dogs lie. It will also bring him more shame.

5. Doing so will cause an antagonistic situation with his business partner, with whom he already has a poor relationship.

Am I being punitive by asking for these things? I must admit that the thing which bothers me the most, is that he led his mistress to believe that they had a deep love for one another, but he would not leave his family out of duty and obligation. It is humiliating for me to know that she thinks I was not valued enough to deserve his respect or fidelity.

Is it just my own damaged ego keeping me stuck? Or do I have a right to ask these things of him?
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Keepabuzz
I'm of the opinion that you can ask for whatever you want as the BS, but I think you also have to weigh the importance. I think you're right to wonder if your motivation for needing these things is punitive or therapeutic.

1. Timeline - I think this is COMPLETLY fair to request. You as the BS have a deep need to understand what happened, how it happened, when it happened, etc. you also need to ensure that your WS understands the answers to all those questions to ensure they don't do it again. This one would be non-negotiable for me.

2. Reading and posting on here or somewhere similar - I wanted my wife to do the same, she did not want to do it. It certainly brought on the shame. Also we are different people. We deal with things differently. I'm a fixer. I face a problem, I research, I learn, I make a plan, I execute that plan. Etc. She prefers to ignore it unless she absolutely has to deal with it. I read every book ever printed on infidelity in the first few months after D-day. I was looking for my path out of hell, as we all know there is no defined path. She just tried to be the best wife she possibly could be. It was both great, and infuriating at the same time. she read whatever I asked her to read. I was 3 books and numerous articles. My motivation was to make sure she "got it", really "got it". I needed her to truly understand the damage she had caused. I would ask you, why do you want him to read, and post on here or somewhere similar?

3. Letter to the MOW - I read somewhere on a blog by a BS, how she tormented her WS's former AP, and in the end she regretted it. She realized that she, the BS, kept pulling this other woman back into her life. In the end she wished she had left her in the past. For me, being a man, I had a REALLY had a hard time stopping myself from doing something stupid. I was able to, but he was thousands of miles away for the first couple of months after d-day. He is of zero value to me. I do want my wife to communicate with him in anyway, for any reason. Which she doesn't. NC goes for everybody, in my opinion.

4. Letter of apology to the OW's BS - That is a dangerous one. Clearly the "right" things to do at face value. My Wife's AP was single, so this is not something I have had to personally deal with. If my Wife's AP wrote me an apology, my reaction would truly depend on the day I was having. Some days I would read it and toss it in the garbage. But some days, some days I would go to his house. I'm saying yay or nay, I'm just saying I would be careful. If my wife's AP would have been married, I would have100% immeadiatly told the other BS.

5. Her voice on the company voice mail - This is a no brainer. That would be done or I would remove all the phones in the office and set them on fire. Having her voice on there is WILDLY disrespectful to you.
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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Searching4
Keepabuzz, thank you for your thoughtful reply.

You have given me much to think about. Yes, it may be vengeful thinking on my part to want to destroy the MOW's fantasy of a star-crossed romance. Perhaps if my WH had been less defensive about filling my requirements, it wouldn't bother me so much. At one point I told him I would respect the no-contact rule (this was after I had met with her and when she told me very painful things) but would like him to write a letter and we would not send it. He agreed to do that but never did. Maybe he didn't trust me not to send it.

The OBS does know of the A. The OW had to explain why she resigned so suddenly after dday. I also sent him an email offering information if he wanted it, and also told him that it was important that he know the A lasted 15 years. He never contacted me and I respect that. I know that no kind of apology would ever be good enough and I don't want to open more wounds for him, so I am ready to back down on that one. I just wish my H felt some kind of remorse as far as that poor man is concerned.

I would like him to read and post so that he can have some help in figuring out how he became the man who could have betrayed me for more than half of our married life. He doesn't seem disturbed by the length of time he compartmentalized two separate lives. He isn't horror-struck as I am about the continued deception. We have been to couples' counselling and he has had a few sessions privately, but they didn't seem to help much. As there was a huge financial infidelity also, funds are now very tight. I believe the support and wisdom from people who have walked this road would be invaluable. I also think that he would be challenged to be accountable in a way he had not been by any therapists.

Yes, I feel wildly disrespected that her voice remains on the machine. It should have been removed immmediately. I have cried, yelled, pleaded and threatened, but it remains. I will not set foot in that office ever again, so I can't take a hammer to it, but even if I did, it wouldn't change the fact that he was too weak to stand up for me himself.
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Fionarob
Searching4

It makes me so sad to read your story and know that, 5 years down the line, you are still suffering and waiting for answers.  I think betrayal  the most painful experience I have ever had to endure, and unless you have been through it you will probably never fully know what it feels like. 

I think your timeline request is definitely something that should have happened.....but has your counselling and discussions with your h not already revealed how/why/when he had his affair??  You must have already discussed this?  This was one of the first things my h and I explored in our counselling and I fully understand the events which led up to him choosing to have an affair.  Is there something you feel you still don't know or understand?

The company voice mail issue - most definitely she should be removed and this is something that should have happened 5 years ago!!  Why can he not understand the pain and frustration that is causing you??

All the other things you mention you would like to help you heal, I am afraid that it will probably not really benefit you.  I can understand why you want them to happen, but actually you cannot force your h to understand your pain or hope that he will have a better insight if he reads some forums or articles.  My experience has taught me that making my h read articles or listen to blogs etc. made no difference, in fact if anything it pushed him deeper into shame and even more needy of his AP to make himself feel good again.  None of us like to be reminded of things we have done wrong, it doesn't make us feel like good people.  And five years down the line I wonder how it will help your situation?  I wonder what it is you hope he will read or come to understand that he has not seen before?  How are you hoping it would help?

In the case of asking him to write letters to the OW and other BS, I think after 5 years it would not be wise to make contact with these people again.  If the affair has ended and there has been no contact for that long I don't think it would help anyone, except maybe give you some satisfaction that your h has declared he didn't ever love her. 
Unfortunately, even if he did tell her that, she is unlikely to believe him.  My h wrote his AP a letter ending the affair and she just assumed that I had told him exactly what to write.  She didn't believe it was his words.  And then, when they re-kindled their affair he probably did tell her it was all lies and I had told him to write it!  If your h had an affair for 15 years I think you can assume that they knew each other quite well (as painful as that is) and if he was to start sending letters to her now telling her he never loved her, I just don't see that she would believe it. 

I think you have to decide if any of these things will truly help you move on.  You say you think support and advice on these forums would be invaluable for your h, but if he doesn't feel he needs it then how would it help him??  You are obviously here because you are still in pain - he is obviously not in pain (or hiding it very well!)  You describe him as a changed man and a wonderful partner.  I wish my h had become a changed man and a wonderful partner - he didn't and we are no longer together because he would not end his affair. 

I really am worried as coming across as harsh here, which I don't want to be. I am a BS, I understand your suffering.  But at some point you need to decide if this is going to be part of you for the rest of your life or if you are going to start looking forward rather than back.  I do know it is incredibly hard, but this is your one life.  Do you want to look back and wonder why you thought about his affair every day until your last day??  Or do you want to look back and be amazed at how forgiving and loving you were to stay with a man who betrayed you for 15 years, and what an wonderful marriage you then enjoyed?  Do you want the OW to be a part of the rest of your life? 

After an affair you basically have two choices - to move on with your spouse or to move on without them.  Both choices are hard and that's why it is so unfair.  But you have to make a choice, because staying stuck will ruin the rest of your life.  Nobody deserves to have to carry the pain of this forever.
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UrbanExplorer
Searching4 wrote:
Thank you for your responses and your support. I'd like your opinions on something. I have asked my H for 5 things to help me to put this behind me. I have been waiting five years for these things and although he originally said he would do ANYTHING if I would give him another chance, he hasn't done any of these things.

1. A timeline of events and his feelings/thinking which led to the A and allowed it to continue

2. Reading posting and responding to this board or another anonymous forum.

3. A letter, written to MOW telling her that love was not involved in their A, that it was a selfish, indulgent and abusive arrangement of which he is ashamed and will regret for the rest of his life.

4. A letter of apology to the other betrayed spouse.

5. Getting her voice off of his business' answering machine.


His reasons for not doing these things?........

1. He feels it is more productive spending that time with me, and his memory is poor.

2. Again, he would prefer to do other things.

3. He refuses to break "no contact" as he fears retribution from her which may affect his business.

4. He doesn't really feel remorse toward the OBS. He wants to let sleeping dogs lie. It will also bring him more shame.

5. Doing so will cause an antagonistic situation with his business partner, with whom he already has a poor relationship.

Am I being punitive by asking for these things? I must admit that the thing which bothers me the most, is that he led his mistress to believe that they had a deep love for one another, but he would not leave his family out of duty and obligation. It is humiliating for me to know that she thinks I was not valued enough to deserve his respect or fidelity.

Is it just my own damaged ego keeping me stuck? Or do I have a right to ask these things of him?


I would say 1 and 5 are totally reasonable.

I'm not sure why you need 2 to happen. It is a decent suggestion, but it might or might not be therapeutic for him. If he is already in therapy, that would be more tailored to issues that led to his affair. And at times, discussion boards have been obstacles in my recovery as a WS. My psychologist has told me to back away.

3 and 4, please do not do this after 5 years. It will open a door that needs to stay closed. If I contacted them now, my former AP would take the opportunity to respond to me excessively, and it would trigger his wife to take additional revenge on me. I would let them move on, if I were you. Obviously, former OW knows he chose you.
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Guiltguilt
Last night I was boarding a cross country flight when my ex best mate/first wife's AP was in the queue in front of me. It has been 17 years. We had a brief chat. It brought up some of the old stuff, but on the flight I was able to write a small note talking about the pain, but letting him know that I forgive him, wishing him a good life. Ironic considering what happened 16 years later.

Your husband is a lucky man. I'd give anything to have a second go with my second wife and not have my family irreparably damaged. Just because he thinks it's all hunky dory after 5 years, doesn't mean it is for you. I'm all for entirely cleaning the pus out of the festering sore. If a bit is left in there, it will never recover. (Terrible analogy, but accurate).
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Searching4
All your responses are appreciated. Fionarob, you are not coming across as harsh in any way. I am trying to look forward, I really am. In fact, I have so much to look forward to. Good things are happening in our life and I want to enjoy them. My H constantly asks me if I enjoyed certain things, had fun at times, if I feel happy. I continue, I function. I am fairly content, but enjoy, fun or happiness are not words I would use to describe how I feel at all. Yet I used to be a very positive, outgoing and fun person. I think my positive emotions have been somewhat dulled, where the sadness, pain and resentment are sharper. I know I must be aware and work on this as I don't want the past to continue to spoil my future.

UrbanExplorer, he is not presently in therapy, and as a result, I don't feel he is being introspective at all. That is why I thought the forum would help. But you're correct, it really has to come from him. My head tells me that any contact would be a bad idea, my emotions and I suppose, my pride, tell me he should be willing to do this for me, just because I ask.

Guiltguilt, it was my will to hold my family together that gave me the strength to endure all of this, and I don't regret it. My children, who are all young adults, have been amazing in their support and love, and in some weird way, this has somehow brought us all closer. I told the MOW that I forgave her also. I didn't want her to have to carry the guilt forever. However, that was early on after discovery. I since found out how she manipulated my children into believing she was their friend and supportive of them in a motherly way. They have felt a double-betrayal. I will not forgive her for hurting them, ever. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
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