sabalias

Hi,

My wife and I have been married for just over 24 years.  Over that time we have had two wonderful children and, I have to confess, I have strayed once (about 18 or 19 years ago).  Our marriage has become comfortable (perhaps too comfortable) but now things have changed.  I don't know whether this is normal but our sex life was pretty vanilla and, to be honest, infrequent; my wife had become disinterested in sex (possibly due to the fact that it had taken 5 years to conceive our first child and it had become quite mechanical).

I should cover my infidelity first.  It was after some online communications with a woman in a game which got quite sexual; the liaison was a one-off occasion, I was slightly drunk and afterwards I felt enormous guilt over what I had done (I wouldn’t have been able to hide it anyway as I had contracted some unidentifiable infection).  I confessed all to my wife and (after a period of time) we got back on track.  I never moved out of the house but I did move out of the marital bed. I have never strayed since.

I have been working from home for a number of years, my wife and I have been in contact almost 24/7 (though she works in a nearby office 3 days per week and we both have interests we pursue 3 evenings of the week).  As I said, very comfortable.  In May of 2014 my mother in law passed away after a long fight with cancer and my wife began grieving.  I don't grieve over death in the same way as many people but I do grieve (as you'll see later); as a result I tried to support my wife but I probably didn't empathise with her as much as I should have. Eventually she seemed to recover and I noticed a change in her - she became very much more sexually aware and wanted to make love often.  She couldn't understand why I wasn’t revelling in all this opportunity, the common refrain was “most men would be overjoyed if their wife was like this”.  Anyway, as time passed I tried to appreciate the change in situation and began to rebuild my dormant sex drive.

Fast forward....... On Tuesday night (5 days ago) when we went to bed, I turned out the light and asked my wife if there was something going on (without being specific) as I had begun, over the previous weeks, to observe changes in her behaviour.  She went very quiet - not a good sign - and then told me that she had been meeting men for sex through a swingers site for the last 9 weeks after engaging in sex chat online for a few months previously.  She was brave to tell me, she could have lied but she didn't.  Needless to say I was completely devastated, hurt, shamed, and all those madly whirling emotions; I was a washing machine on spin cycle.  At that stage anger wasn’t at the forefront of my mind (indeed it still isn’t).  We talked (I didn’t rave or shout though I did weep) for a long time into the night, sitting on or pacing around the bed, and eventually we turned off the lights to try and get some sleep. She asked if I wanted her to sleep downstairs and I said no as it wouldn’t really achieve anything.  While lying in bed with the light off we even hugged each other.  Sleep didn’t come that night in any great amount and at 2 in the morning I went downstairs to call the Employee Assistance Programme set up by my company to speak to a counsellor.

Since that time we have both spoken to counsellors on a few occasions and we have told a few close, but not mutual, friends.  My wife has told her sister who is her unbiased support in this but no other family members know (and ever will know even if this doesn’t work out).  We have tried being closer, sitting together while watching TV, holding hands etc.  We have spoken at great length (though my wife is always quite closed mouthed).  On Saturday, after exchanging a few messages of love, my wife said she was coming home from work for a little while.  When she arrived she burst into tears and told me that she had something to tell me and that I would hate her for it but I needed to know.  Last September (4 months after her mother passed) she had started an on and off affair with a man which had lasted until he had ended it by moving away after 7 months.  She says that is was a friends with benefits relationship and there was never any real love, only mutual attraction and lust.  She did wonder if she was falling in love with him at one stage but had decided absolutely not. After the affair she had investigated other options for getting her sexual fulfilment and this had led to the sex chatting and then the swingers site.  Again I didn’t react with anger or any negative emotion, we held each other and cried.  She can’t get her head around the way I am handling this.

Even though it’s early days, I decided very quickly that I wanted us to get through this together, to come out of it stronger as a couple and closer and more intimate than before – I still want that with all my heart.  My wife has said she wants that too but I have no idea at this stage if she is just saying the words for me (out of guilt); for herself (as she is frightened of being alone); for the children (because she’s terrified of what it might do to them); or for us.  It is far more likely that her emotions are in as much turmoil as mine.  We are still close.  Part of me wants to be with her all the time; trust issues must have a part to play in this but more than anything I want to show her that I am committed to us.  She knows that there can be no more infidelity of any kind and I think that scares her, I think that is one of the reasons that she is so confused.  She doesn’t even know for sure why she made that first step (though I am sure that feeling wanted, knowing that someone found her attractive and the thrill etc are part of it).

So where am I know?  I’m lost, I hurt more deeply than ever before in my life (and I’ve been through PTSD), I crave confirmation that we are going to come out of this together.  I fear for my wife and her emotional state and I think about her constantly.  I am still in the washing machine and regularly enter the spin cycle.  Throughout all of this I have tried to communicate with my wife with grace and (to a certain extent) understanding.

We have continued to sleep in the same bed and had some lovely, intimate (not sexual) moments, but this morning we had a discussion about the possibility of a trial separation – to give each other space.  The thought scares me, I don’t need the space, I need her to be near me and be on the same page, but I asked her if she needed space.  She doesn’t think it would make sense – we are trying to maintain an appearance of normality for the children and financially it would be awkward. I asked if she would like me to go out for the day just to give her that time.  She has said I should go out only if I want to and not for her, then said no, we can take the dog for a walk later today together with the children.

Tomorrow, my wife is going to a counsellor for a face to face meeting to try and begin the process of working out (for want of a better word) her demons.  I’m hoping that it’ll be the first step on a road to positive recovery for us both (preferably as a couple).

Are we handling this badly?  I know its early days but any thoughts would be appreciated.  The friends I have spoken to about it (3 of them) all tell me that I’m dealing with it in an amazing way but I’m so confused – today the rational side seems to have taken a back seat and I’m very tearful.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, I apologise for posting such a long story.

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Now_what
Sabalias.....I want to preface my response by stating that I was the WS and it is almost 16 months since DDay. My husband is an amazing man and has worked through and is still continuing to work through the load I have heaved upon him. With that being said, I'm so sorry for what you are going through. The sadness and shock you are feeling must be overwhelming. But, take comfort in the fact that it will get better. You are still in the trauma stage of finding out about your wife's infidelity. But, based upon the description of your reaction you seem like a rational, calm man. You sound a lot like my husband. If you both still love each other you will get through this. No one can predict the outcome but you will survive this. Although things aren't perfect with my husband and I so many months later, I can't believe he or I are still standing, still surviving, getting through life. And, you will too. My best advice is to be honest with yourself and give all this time. Time is your friend right now. Sending you positive vibes. Hang in there.
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sabalias
Now_what.

Thank you for your reply and your wishes.  We just got back from walking the dog; we held hands all the time.  The children were with us so conversation was limited to 'normal' subjects.

Regards,

Sabalias
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TimT
sabalias wrote:
...Are we handling this badly?  I know its early days but any thoughts would be appreciated.  The friends I have spoken to about it (3 of them) all tell me that I’m dealing with it in an amazing way but I’m so confused – today the rational side seems to have taken a back seat and I’m very tearful.

I don't think you're handling this badly at all, but be aware that you may discover a crash of emotions washing over you on the other side of the rational calm you've been experiencing. Knowing your marriage was at risk, you've been focused on what your relationship (and your wife) needs, and you've been doing a good job of it. But as your wife begins to attend to her stuff and the level of threat goes down, whatever feelings have not been attended to (hurt? fear? shame?) will be waiting for you.

I don't know you well enough to have any sense of whether you will feel overwhelmed by these, but if you do please know this: IT'S NORMAL. It doesn't mean you weren't sincere before. It doesn't mean you're headed to disaster. It just means that this is a significant trauma and you are going to have to process its affects. 

Make sure you reach out to whatever support you have. You'll both go through rough waters, but there's something good to discover when you get through it.
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sabalias
Thanks Tim,

Yesterday was very emotional for me; I think I had emptied my tank of rationality.  I was still able to function and we went out for a long walk as a family.  I went to see a friend (part of my support network in this train wreck) and he had some very valuable insights.  When I got back though I could feel that there was something wrong. My wife was more uncertain than ever, she was scared of what it would mean for her to stop all infidelity; she really didn't know if she wanted to move forward with or without me. I don't think she really knew whether she wanted us to work or whether she just wanted to drop everything and go back onto the swingers site.  She told me that she had deliberately kept herself busy for the day to take her mind of the fact that she wanted to go onto the site.  Maybe there's some kind of compulsion or addiction there.  Anyway, we had a long talk after dinner when I thanked her for telling me and also thanked her for not going onto the site, I told her she was strong for that.  That evening we sat together (very close) to watch some TV and then went to bed.  Soon after retiring we had an incredibly intimate 90 minutes which became sexual, which I think surprised us both.

Unfortunately I woke at 4am and, after a while of just thinking, my head filled with negative and dark thoughts.  They quickly fell away and I managed to get back to sleep.  However, when I woke up this morning I found something was missing; the utter conviction of where I wanted us to be was no longer present.  I do still want to be together, I want to come through this with my wife in a stronger, more loving relationship but now I'm confused and frightened by the absence of that previously held conviction. I told my wife and I think it hit her hard, she's struggling today; since the admission she's only seen positive determination from me and it's been her who's been uncertain, now the roles seem to be reversed.

I find myself wondering if I really do love my wife as much as I thought I did or if all my previous statements were just a reaction to the situation; I know I wasn't lying to her when I said I loved her with all my heart but now I wonder.........

I guess this is part of what you were telling me in your reply.

Regards,

Sabalias.
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Anna26
sabalias wrote:
Thanks Tim,

Yesterday was very emotional for me; I think I had emptied my tank of rationality.  I was still able to function and we went out for a long walk as a family.  I went to see a friend (part of my support network in this train wreck) and he had some very valuable insights.  When I got back though I could feel that there was something wrong. My wife was more uncertain than ever, she was scared of what it would mean for her to stop all infidelity; she really didn't know if she wanted to move forward with or without me. I don't think she really knew whether she wanted us to work or whether she just wanted to drop everything and go back onto the swingers site.  She told me that she had deliberately kept herself busy for the day to take her mind of the fact that she wanted to go onto the site.  Maybe there's some kind of compulsion or addiction there.  Anyway, we had a long talk after dinner when I thanked her for telling me and also thanked her for not going onto the site, I told her she was strong for that.  That evening we sat together (very close) to watch some TV and then went to bed.  Soon after retiring we had an incredibly intimate 90 minutes which became sexual, which I think surprised us both.

Unfortunately I woke at 4am and, after a while of just thinking, my head filled with negative and dark thoughts.  They quickly fell away and I managed to get back to sleep.  However, when I woke up this morning I found something was missing; the utter conviction of where I wanted us to be was no longer present.  I do still want to be together, I want to come through this with my wife in a stronger, more loving relationship but now I'm confused and frightened by the absence of that previously held conviction. I told my wife and I think it hit her hard, she's struggling today; since the admission she's only seen positive determination from me and it's been her who's been uncertain, now the roles seem to be reversed.

I find myself wondering if I really do love my wife as much as I thought I did or if all my previous statements were just a reaction to the situation; I know I wasn't lying to her when I said I loved her with all my heart but now I wonder.........

I guess this is part of what you were telling me in your reply.

Regards,

Sabalias.



Sabalias,  I think it's quite common to feel as you do right now.  I know I certainly do, at first I was absolutely convinced I wanted to save my marriage, but the longer it takes my husband to come out of the affair fog the harder it is becoming to hang on to the feeling that I want us to stay together.  This could be partly because I've been working on me and know I will be okay whatever happens, but when I look at it from the other angle I really don't want to start again completely from scratch with everything. 

Sometimes I think I don't want all the moods, the silences and the sheer hard work that reconciling will bring but on the other hand I REALLY don't want to throw away all those years of marriage, the memories and what is a really good friendship if it can be saved. I think I have got myself into a bit of a way of thinking, 'if he can't decide whether he wants to be with me, why should I hang around waiting'. 

We have to remember that we are only human and can't be strong and sure all the time.  In the way that the WS is often ambivalent and dithering about one person or the other,  flitting back and forth between the two, it's perfectly possible for the us, as the wounded party, to feel the same way.  

There is often a confusing array of emotions going through my head.  There are things I can't deal with right now, like the unanswered questions that I have, and the pent up anger, that comes out as tears sometimes, because we are separated and don't really talk much. In time I hope we can deal with it all but right now I can't because he hasn't really owned his stuff or shown much in the way of remorse. I believe he buries his head in the sand and hopes that given time that things will go back to normal.  But of course there is a new 'normal' now.

I'm sure you do still love your wife, after all those years it's not something you can just turn off easily, it's just that we doubt our own feelings and instincts and no wonder when our faith and trust has been completely shattered. Sometimes I think it affects the way I view a lot of life, friendships and the like, I know I find it very difficult to trust people at all right now, but I suppose with time this will get better.

I'm so sorry that you are here in this situation with the rest of us, but as you are, I hope you can find the support you need here to help you through it all.
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TimT
sabalias wrote:
...I find myself wondering if I really do love my wife as much as I thought I did or if all my previous statements were just a reaction to the situation; I know I wasn't lying to her when I said I loved her with all my heart but now I wonder...

The kind of love we all long for in the deepest parts of us has much more to do with connection and attachment and trust than the rush of longing we sometimes feel. It doesn't surprise me that your doubt followed an experience of intimate connection. Your longing for her, for your marriage, felt much stronger in the struggle and uncertainty, but the doubts will rise to the surface when things seem calm and safe. 

This seems counter-intuitive, but it is a common experience and is part of you both figuring things out. It may take both of you a while to determine what your choices will be, but be assured that the levels of doubt vs desire will rise & fall with changing circumstances. Eventually, they will settle into a new normal. Until then, recognize the changes, talk about them, but don't put too much weight on how you feel in a particular moment.

It all feels a bit crazy, I know. It won't be this way forever.
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sabalias
Thanks to everyone for their words of support. It's been a few days since my last post and what a rollercoaster ride it has been for both of us. My wife has now decided that she absolutely does want to try to move forward as a couple; she has expressed sincere regret for the hurt she caused and, as a result, I am feeling much calmer at the moment (though there are still ups and downs). We continue to talk at great length and we remain very close and intimate.

I'm not foolish enough to think that after such a short time we will be healed, but I think it's a step in the right direction. Perhaps we are able to move forward because we didn't immediately split after her infidelity came out, and we immediately started talking - a lot? A great deal of water has flowed under the bridge since last Tuesday (I sometimes think the bridge I refer to has been built over the Niagra Falls); I can't believe it was only last week either, a whole lifetime of emotions seems to have engulfed us both in such a short space of time.

Anyway, we have decided that the best way ahead it to treat this as a completely new beginning. We haven't swept the elephant in the room under a rug (it will be a long time before either of us can 'forget' it) but neither do we want to take the emotional baggage forward into our new relationship - it could develop into a cancer which would do more harm than good. Whichever way we come out of this it will have been one of the biggest life lessons either of us have ever experienced. This Saturday is date-night, the first for a number of years.

Regards,

Sabalias
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Merry
I really, truly thought we were beyond the time when these things happened; I thought we had made it! We had been married 47 years when I first found out about my husband's affair (3 years ago).   I had been ironing his clothes for a trip when I found a lipstick in his shorts pocket, asked who it belonged to; he didn't know.  Going into another room I spotted his iPhone and,  for the first time ever, picked it up and listened to the first message.  At the moment I heard her voice saying, "Hi, baby, it's me!" in a lilting voice, I was shocked!  He acknowledged it as what it was right then. And, immediately, I became a crazy person, out of control, wild with hurt, filled with a rage I had never known before.  I couldn't believe it had actually happened!  I thought he was above that, better than that, truthful to the core, even though a few times I wondered.  During the next week we had our first appointment with Tim. While there I was so calm feeling like I had cried it out of my system and I was all right with all of it.  I was going to be okay and it was less of a trauma than I originally thought since my husband had confessed all.  He bit the bullet and answered any questions outright.  And, yes, I was fine for that week, and then the realization of it landed on me full force and I exploded again and then for a long time I was riding that roller coaster of emotions, really high, really low.  My husband was so good and thoughtful and loving to me from the beginning, never faltering, but the only way we could truly converse was with Tim in attendance.  He helped us a lot and, occasionally, we are back for a visit when we need help connecting.

For a while I thought I might like to get revenge by hurting him with a payback, but that has long since been forgotten.  I wonder if that was part of her wandering...along with the depression of losing a parent, the loss of parental guidance and the monitor of her self-control instilled in her as a child, perhaps left her feeling there was no one she had to answer to.  

You are right, the relationship we have is different, but it's good.  We love each other and, as Tim would say, have tried to move toward one another, rather than pushing away.  We are closer and together more and he holds me at night.  I am over thinking about this everyday.  I still have periods when it gets me down, but he is still my support system. Like you, I told very few people, my sister and one close friend; to my knowledge, he told no one.  I think that makes it much easier to maintain your relationship rather than headlining it for the whole town.

If you make the choice to stay together, try with all your heart and soul to make it work, not occasionally, but all the time.  Make the changes you need to make and pray she will stand up to the challenge of backing you, consoling you, and holding on to only you.  That is her job now, and yours.  You have to cling together and honor your commitment.  

Divorce was not part of what we knew until we had grown children.  Through them I have come to know that there are good reasons for divorce and, if saving your marriage is not worth fighting for, if it's no good, it's not worth wasting your life on. The way you live is your example for a child of what is and what is not acceptable. You do not want to teach them to endure a miserable existence, but also do not want them to learn that when the going gets tough, you just give up!  Personally, I think it is harder to split up than to make up and get on with your lives, especially when you have young children.  

My prayer for you is that in three years you can be as comfortable with your life as we are with ours.  We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary earlier this year...and I'll tell you it has been some ride, so many good times, so many sad, hard problems to deal with, hopes and dreams fulfilled even with all the ups and downs, but a ride few take unscathed!  

I think you are commendable in the way you are responding, but cry and scream if you need to, let it out!  Seeking help is in your best interest, solo and as a couple.  
Infidelity is a forgivable sin; I don't know yet if it is ever forgettable.  But maybe it's important to remember that we all make mistakes and God forgives.

Be kind to each other.  Good luck to both of you.





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sabalias
Thanks once again to everyone for their kind and supportive words. I'm currently fighting the rumination that goes with this situation; for me that's not so much the 'where did we go wrong' but thinking of my wife in situations that are unpallatable to me.

Sabalias
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Ttsd
I could have written this. My DDay 1 was almost two years ago. I hung in there and although there was some raging, I tried to be understanding and see both sides. We have both gone to counseling and I see great progress in his personal growth. That being said, DDay 2 happened in January and I found out the truth about the previously DDay and all the others. He blamed me for not supporting him and putting him last all the time. I have again hung in here, partly due to my children and lack of desire to blow up our life publicly. But I struggle all the time about whether I want to be here or for him to be here. I've done some personal counseling but it has still left me on the fence.
My response may not be helpful but you are not alone and there is no right or wrong way to deal. IAdmire your loyalty and devotion.
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sabalias
Well, here we are over 3 weeks later and it feels like months have passed over such a short time.  I have to thank you, Tim, for one of your emails which I received last week.  It pointed me at Esther Perel's TED video on infidelity and I literally applauded my computer screen when it came to an end.  When my wife came back from walking our dog I said 'you have to watch this video'.  We sat down together and I put it on; so much of what Esther said chimed with both of us and it seemed to be a turning point.

Since then, my wife has said that she is absolutely convinced that she doesn't want to go on any 'sexual' sites (swingers, chat, etc).  Moreover, her opinion of attending counselling (which was wavering) is now more certain.  Obviously people can change their minds but, for now, we seem to be taking a step forward with each day that passes.

Thanks once again,

Sabalias
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