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Strength1, I know that sadness all too well.  I’m so sorry.  

It seems presumptuous to say these things not knowing a person at all, but sometimes it’s “easier” to identify red flags when you DON’T know a person... your husband SOUNDS LIKE a covert narcissist.  And when you ID someone on the narc spectrum there’s almost nothing to do about it but let them go.  Lots of shrinks call it untreatable (the disorder).  As a lay person I have no idea what point on the spectrum marks the point of no return, so take that with plenty grains of salt.  IF that’s true about your husband then be confirmed in your choice even though the realization causes you great sadness.  

That line about not being the same since the kids were born is quite the tell.  Because it’s positioned to “alibi” his departure.  What father — or mother for that matter — EVER feels the same after kids?!?! It’s like DUH kids are a huge change in your life, an immense turning point, so OF COURSE ITS NOT THE SAME.  You don’t get to be completely selfish anymore — DUH, how did you not KNOW that dude?!?!  Have you NO ability to ANTICIPATE?!?!  It’s just that for most parents the JOY outweighs the sacrifice.  As a father I was FOREVER changed by the appearance of my kids in my life. I had NO CLUE I even had the capacity for love like that.  IF I were to walk away from my marriage, it’s my KIDS I would want to take with me.  And that’s not bragging or self congratulation....THAT’S NORMAL!!! BASIC!!!

But listen to that statement from him...what it implies.  Without even knowing him, I can tell you EXACTLY why “everything changed” for him, once the kids appeared...he was no longer CENTRAL to you. He had to play second fiddle to the kids.  And guess what...THAT’S NORMAL TOO!!!  EVERY MAN “loses his wife” a little bit to the kids.  The wife doesn’t have to even change how she feels about him for that to happen, it’s simply MATHEMATICAL that 1 divided by 1 equals 1, but 1 divided by 2 equals half.  The appearance of a single child — let alone multiple — will leave him with AT MOST half her time (and we all know kids take more than half!).  For any father worth his salt THAT particular shift is where we LEAN IN.  It’s where we put the family on our shoulders and carry it along, like an ox pulling a plough.  And we do that so the moms can do what they do best.  And if we are good at it our wives (are supposed to) see us in a new light and have a new appreciation for us, and visa versa. Sometimes (like in MY situation) we get SHAFTED by selfish cheaters for our dedication, but if our wives are NORMAL people, we get the benefit of a new kind of love and trust between us.  It’s the ABSOLUTE demonstration of teamwork and unity: a father and mother, working selflessly in their own way, in support of a new being that is totally helpless and needy.  And while it’s fun to win a tennis match or a foot race, it doesn’t compare to the joy of winning a tight soccer match or any other team win.  There is just something incredibly uplifting about accomplishing something while providing for and relying on others in oneness.  This is one of the great longings of any human being.  

But for your husband, when that shift took place, he lost that feeling of centrality and it didn’t reconcile with his (perhaps subconscious) “NEED” for centrality.  And all the CHANGES he observed when the kids appeared disturbed a somehow self-centered and self satisfying life he was living.  And all that sacrifice, patience and self-abnegation were just “too much”.  

So, he went and found somebody to make him central.  And, lacking the normal longing to be close to his kids (oh, I’m sure he talked a lot about how “difficult” it was to “struggle” with himself and be apart from your kids, but his ACTIONS — moving out to deceive you and them, sleeping where they weren’t so he could do whatever with his girlfriend, meaning he WASN’T home to protect you from any possible criminal home invasions, or help a child coughing in the middle of the night or do ANYTHING a father does who sleeps at HOME where his kids are — SCREAM that he was abdicating his basic duties) he was happy to get his own place and soak up her attention for himself.  

It’s really sick.  

And I'm so sorry for you that the person you gave your all to, and to whom you were fully committed, NEVER had the capacity to authentically reciprocate that to you.  He may have had the ability to MIRROR it to you, but he didn’t really have the ability to truly give of himself to you without feeling depleted enough to cast all morals and ethics and integrity aside and commit this atrocity.  

He is not a complete person, and once you see that you can’t unsee it.  

I’m sorry strength1.  You’ve evinced so much strength trying to make space for something to improve here.  Your commitment was so deep you even considered taking him back after THIS disaster.  You are truly worthy of your name.  

But your mind is strong too, and it is governing here, and that’s a GOOD thing. While your heart is grieving the realization of your mind, your mind is telling you it’s not worth the fight, because it RECOGNIZES all of this.  I think you should trust your mind here.  

Take good care. 
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I am no more qualified than TripleHooks to diagnose your WS as a narcissist - but it doesn't take extensive training to see that he is 1) either pathological (I think borderline sounds more on point for him) OR 2) has his head so far up his own *ss that he can only see HIS feelings, HIS needs, HIS wants, HIS justifications, etc. to the extent that everyone around him seem to exist to only to support him.  Not much difference between the two - just where it may have originated.

Alarm bells went off in my head when you wrote that he couldn't break up with her due to her "fragile emotional state".  Does having the courage to leave everything and everyone you know behind and MOVE to another country seem like the action of someone super fragile to you? There is enormous inherent risk in that.  That doesn't add up.  And he must have given her VERY good reason to believe it was worth it.  And yet, he's telling YOU that he wants to dump her as soon as she goes back. 

Think about that.  He has a history of acting like he feels one way while he's with the person - and another when he's talking behind their back.  Which one is true?  Does HE even know?  Borderline people really don't.  Both are 100% true IN THAT MOMENT.  I would find it extremely hard to trust someone like that - ever again.  

His rewriting of your marriage is a classic symptom of having an affair - but in this case, may be a symptom of far worse.  Whatever the case - I know that is extremely hard to deal with and deeply impacts how you see your life.  Get a GOOD therapist (consider coaching with Jennifer from this site) and read some of the books I've suggested.  You need to work exclusively on YOU now. 

Part of the work now will be finding new ways of looking back at your marriage that make sense in your head and gaining acceptance of what has happened.  I REALLY struggled with acceptance.  And it didn't come at once, but in waves.  But to thrive in the aftermath of trauma like this you have to find a way to put it into context within your life story and choose a meaning that empowers rather than harms you.  When you can reach that place - it is much easier to begin actively taking control of the rest of your story rather than just reacting to whatever is handed to you. 

(For example - I have chosen to find meaning in the fact that MANY of the skills I learned in the aftermath have allowed me to help friends, family members and people I barely know.  I have taken what I've learned about reducing my own emotional reactivity and regaining my peace and joy and created a ripple effect.  Does that mean it was "meant to be"?  NO, at least not in my viewpoint.  But it does mean that I took a HORRIBLE situation and made something good out of it.  I showed my daughter resilience and strength without losing your character or values in the face of great adversity.  I managed to use something that can break someone to become stronger.  I like myself now even more than I did before - I am kinder, gentler and FAR more compassionate.  

To some this will seem like mind games - but it is perspectives.  And like it or not - EVERYONE sees the world through perspectives.  It is how we are built.  NO one sees unvarnished truth and stores it into memory without placing meaning (perspective) on it.  So take control of YOUR perspective. 

You could chose to see this as failure.  That you were gullible or too kind or too... whatever.  Or you could choose to see it as a strong woman who loved a fragile, emotionally unhealthy man who struggled with his own demons.  She did her best to love and help him - but he couldn't grow into the man she thought he was capable of.  Finally, for her own well-being and to show her children that we each have responsibility for our own health and happiness, she had to walk away.  But with her values and compassion intact.  And then she got busy creating a beautiful life, rife with meaning and joy. 

My mom had to do that after my Dad was killed in a car accident when I was only 1 1/2 - and she was a seventeen year old widow.  She struggled like hell, but she did it.  And I called on that memory when I hit rock bottom - and it told me I could get up.  That i would laugh, love and have joy again.  But frankly, I wanted to do it faster and easier than my mom (she had  no one to help her and none of the resources I had available.) So I USED them - and while it took her ten years and  one unhealthy relationship to recover - recover she did.  Using the wealth of tools available now - I am 3 1/2 years from DD - and I actually feel happy about 90-95% of the time (about the same as pre-DD, I am a pretty cheerful, optimistic kind of person in general.)  Some day your kids will hit a wall in their lives (hopefully not this one) - and they will remember your strength and it will inform their own.  

I know you are feeling angry, hurt, scared and tired right now.  But I hear in you EVERYTHING that a person needs to walk away from this okay - and eventually THRIVE.  Seriously.  

Hold on to who you are, make your choices based on your values and what is good for you.  Think about what will make you proud of yourself and your life 20 years from now and ACT.  
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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 Strength, I can tell you are a kind loving person. Your H has taken advantage of you and is using and abusing you. 

 Gently, he has chosen the OW over you. You are his plan B. Soft landing when she leaves. Please wake up! No one deserves this treatment! Get mad!!! 180. Get your financial ducks in a row. Take him for everything that you can. Don’t let him back in . He is not recovery material.

hugs to you!


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"It’s where we put the family on our shoulders and carry it along, like an ox pulling a plough."

And when the kids become the amazing young adults we nurtured them into becoming, we dads look back at the days of 'leaning in', 'carrying' and 'pulling' and think, "Oh Lord, it went by so fast...was over way too soon."

Truly devoted husbands and wives grow together through these years - not apart.
BH, 5+ Mo EA, DDay 3/8/18
"...regarding all as God after God."
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Referring to page one, and books to read... I’ve read quite a few since dday. Meh. The only book I’ve read that may have helped a tiny bit was C.s. Lewis’s “The great divorce”. Not about divorce at all, but heaven and hell and it all being your own decision about which to choose. Many of the characters held to firmly to their grudges and whatnot instead of choosing heaven.

Anyway, I’m still in a crappy relationship, I still have many of the same pains and distrusts, but the book gave me the perspective that maybe I really should work towards forgiveness even if only for my own well being. That’s a start I guess.
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Strength, it must have been awful to hear that your husband told a relative that he hadn’t been happy in the marriage since the child were born. It’s such a disrespectful attitude considering all the changes and challenges you’ve had to adapt to in caring for the children, only you’ve taken on your responsibilities as an adult whilst he feels robbed of being a perpetual teenager — not a very grown up attitude. Even so, the upset of hearing that he has said he wanted out to someone else, and the shock that you were living a lie, that is, his lie to you that he was the happy husband and father, your “soulmate” as you believed. How crushing that must feel. 

I’m afraid he probably has a different version of his “truth” depending on who he’s talking to. He wants to portray the “correct” version of himself to suit his audience. What he has told the OW about his feelings for you and the marriage are probably the mirror opposite of what he has told you. I would guess that you’ve both been played, and I would still hazard a guess that this is not his first infidelity. But this affair on its own is bad enough. It seems to show just how capable he is of compartmentalising his life, and if so, that is not a good sign. He’s used your goodwill and played you like a violin throughout this affair. You deserve to be treated much better than he has done. 

You have shown amazing fortitude throughout, and you’ve been very tolerant and, I would say, kind to him when he really didn’t deserve your kindness and patience. I would be furious at being treated in this way. Where you find your grace and courage from, God only knows. But I think time is up for him. I would guess he’s never going to fully account for his behaviour and the way he abused your trust. He’ll change his story to suit what works best for him, and he’ll revise his history until he settles on a version that you find more palatable. Don’t fall for this! Why should you believe him now when he has deliberately and purposefully lied to you? Is he suddenly going to be rigorously honest as soon as OW boards her plane home?

From now on, the focus has to be on you and your life, and thinking about the kind of life you see yourself living. Don’t put him
in the frame. It’s the 180 philosophy now with the view of healing yourself and making a new life. (Assuming you are considering divorce now.) Its a very hard lesson to learn, I know, but your husband wasn’t the man you believed him to be. I’m so, so sorry for the pain of this situation. 

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