feelinglost

Hi, I have been reading on this forum for a long time now but this is the first time I have posted. 

I found out 15 months ago that my husband was having an affair with someone in work. It had been going on for over a year – it had begun just before I fell pregnant and carried on out throughout the pregnancy and our baby being born until I discovered it when our son was only a few weeks old. The affair was both sexual and emotional, and he had told her he loved her. I confronted him immediately and he confessed everything. He did everything I asked of him to try and repair our marriage. He cut off contact with her immediately, he changed his phone number and he attended counselling for several months. It was an awful time but we fought hard and rebuilt our marriage, and became closer than ever in the process. My husband was devastated at the damage he had caused. He had a lot of underlying issues which he spent time addressing through counselling and talking to me.

Over the past few months I have gradually started to regain some trust in him. I have now discovered that he has been sending messages to another woman in work. He has not been meeting up with her outside work but the messages are flirty and inappropriate in nature. I know this woman and we have several mutual friends. She has a well know reputation with men, both married and single. I knew they were working together and had been friendly, and I had told my husband I was not comfortable with this and he had agreed not to have any contact with her. I had asked him about this on several occasions and he had denied having seen or spoken to her for several months. I am completely devastated to discover he has been lying to me again. I have confronted him and he has sworn he didn’t want anything to come from it, that he didn’t have any feelings for her and that this was a way of acting out against feeling frustrated at the situation we are in. He is desperate to work on our marriage and has come up with several constructive ways of doing so.

I am feeling so hurt and lost, I love this man and want the life together that we had planned so many years ago, but I don’t know how I can ever regain trust in him, knowing that despite everything we had been through in trying to recover from his affair, he was still able to lie to me and begin another inappropriate relationship.  I have not told my family about what we have been going through, as I wanted to protect my husband. I want to protect my son and give him the best chance at a happy balanced life growing up. I just don’t know what the best thing to do is for both him and for my own personal happiness.

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Heidi
Hi feelinglost, I'm sorry to hear of your pain, especially at what should be a happy time with your new son. It's hard enough having to cope with all the difficulties a baby can bring, let alone somehow come to terms with your husbands betrayals.

It sounds as though he is saying all the right things, and yet his actions are showing the opposite. It's not enough for him to offer the solutions, he needs to demonstrate he has changed, and he's not doing that now.

Has he had Individual counselling? It was invaluable for my WH, and has allowed him to see all the times (not just in cheating) where his actions did not back up his words. He, too, had cheated on me more than once, 15 years apart. The first time when our baby was a year old. Of course, I only discovered this about a year ago, after his recent affair came to light.

No matter what you decide about your marriage, you have a vested interest in him becoming a better man for your son. In your place I'd want to see him committing to individual counselling to discover why he's becoming involved with these women, and then see how he can demonstrate that he will never be involved in such behaviours again. Until that point, I would proceed with caution.

Each BS is different regarding how much we will take and how long we will wait to see a change. It would be good for you to start thinking about what you want, and concentrate both on your own healing, as well as taking care of your baby. I found my own IC invaluable for that.

You sound like a loving, caring person, wanting to protect your spouse, but you need support too. Try to find someone you trust to confide in, you can't do this alone and shouldn't have to.

Thinking of you.
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feelinglost
Thank you Heidi for your response. He did attend individual counselling for several months on a weekly basis, and I honestly thought it was doing a lot of good, and that it helped him open to me about things. But now I feel that he must not have really taken any of it on board as we are back in the same situation, although granted it is not as extreme this time. I had been very keen to try couples counselling initially but he was resistant and thought it would be more beneficial for him to attend on his own to work through personal issues. He is now suggesting that we try couples counselling. I just don't know what the best way to approach this is - can a person really change? After all we had been through and the devastation that it caused I didn't think he would be stupid enough to do something like this again, and it is only a year later, how can I believe that he can change himself enough to remain faithful to me for 30/40/50 years?
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Heidi
One of the things I've learned through all of this is that there are no guarantees. Anybody can cheat, even the so called 'good guys'. All it takes is motivation, opportunity and the ability to lie.

For me, I decided to take the risk and see if my WH could work on becoming a safe partner. And it is a risk that others choose not to take - it's a very personal choice. It was actually more important to re learn to trust myself, to know if he did it again I would be okay. I would walk away knowing if done everything I could to save what has been mostly a good marriage. But it took a lot of work from him to show he was becoming a safe partner, both looking at his issues, becoming open in his actions and really understanding how much pain he's caused me. Today I trust him more than I'd trust somebody new.

But it took us a while to get here. And everybody is different, so your story may not be the same.

If he's willing to try couples counselling, try to find someone who specialises in infidelity. Right now it wouldn't be about rebuilding your marriage as much as getting to the issues, and really trying to show him that he has a long way to go to earn any trust.
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Keepabuzz
I agree with Heidi.

You have take care of and protect yourself. You need to know in your heart that you will be ok without him. I also chose to stay with my WW, but if it happens again, I will walk away. But I will do it knowing I did all I could, and I will be ok.
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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UrbanExplorer
I came to believe that I needed to set more specific boundaries about contact and conversation with people outside the marriage, since affairs often have a slow and insidious start (mine started as a friendship with quite platonic social media messaging). I needed to truly believe I was protecting the health of myself and my relationship by doing that and not just feel like it was something my husband was making me do.

It seems your husband is not recognizing that casual and flirtatious behavior could be setting him (and you) up for disaster. I think Tim T. suggested one of the best books on boundaries I have read, which was called Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin (by Anne Katherine).
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Dirazz
When your married theres no such thing as innocent flirting period!
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feelinglost
I completely agree Dirazz - flirting is never innocent, and especially at such a critical time in our relationship!

UrbanExplorer I will look that book up - it may be useful, thank you.
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LadyFinn
Feelinglost . What a quandary these men put us in. I am sorry this continues in your marriage .. it is so cruelly painfull. There will never be any guarantees . We thought we had that in good solid faithfull husbands. But we did not. So would we actually believe any guarantees , even if written in blood? NOT me. Previous advice was so correct.. you must learn to trust yourself, be good and strong inside of you, find some resiliency and ways to soothe and calm yourself. Be there for YOU. All you can ever control is yourself anyway. Concentrate on that and your little son. No matter what your husband does ( that you cannot control) you build up the inner YOU , so you will be just fine. I know , I know ... not exactly what you want to hear. Rather have a quick step 1,2,3... not going to work that way. It is a long long process , all this inner self stuff. I am on that path and try everyday to concentrate on ME. If his actions and his words do not match...then that is a red flag and you spotted it!. So, intuitively you are working just fine! Go to therapy, read everything to help you grow, lean on friends and find alone time to learn to lean on yourself. These are all the places I spend my energy and time... because I am married to a cheater and there are never again going to be guarantees.
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Fionarob
feelinglost

You are right to be feeling cautious and question your husband's actions.  My husband's long line of betrayal began with what you might consider 'less serious' relationships with women.  Looking back it was just as serious and the first incident should have been treated as such.  But at the time it seemed ridiculous to be making a fuss over an emotional affair with a woman he never met with face to face (as far as I am aware.) 

But these smaller things led to bigger things.....a one night stand, another emotional affair and then a full-blown affair for 2.5 years.  I feel now these relationships could be the tip of the iceberg, there might have been many other things that my husband simply hasn't confessed to because he thinks I will never find out. 

During his full-blown affair and still being in a relationship with me I also caught him using flirty online chat rooms.  So he had two women bending over backwards to try and "win" him and he was still feeling the need for more.  This was a turning point for me as I realised it wasn't just me who couldn't fulfil something in him, his AP wasn't either, so he was turning to online chat rooms as well!!

I still think to this day he didn't recognise he has some sort of problem, just blames everyone else or makes me out to be over reacting.  We went to counselling and he just lied to them as well.  He said he went because he thought the counselling would fix me and then I would be able to give him everything he wanted.  But even when I was making huge progress and things were feeling really good between us (I thought), he was still continuing his affair. 

My husband was also very remorseful after the first ever betrayal.  But gradually, with each new betrayal, that remorse seemed to have disappeared, and it was replaced with lying, blaming and defensiveness.  I, like you, couldn't believe it the second time it happened.  I just thought how can he do this AGAIN after the pain he caused me the first time.  How can he have lied again?  How can he have risked hurting me again?  How can he have risked losing his wife and children again?

Your husband sounds very similar to mine, that need to fulfil something they are missing without a second thought for how it will hurt their wife (who is already hurting from previous betrayals)  And always having the excuses ready for why they are doing it.  Why can't they see their actions are just going to add to the pain and make a bad situation even worse??  You say he is desperate to work on your marriage, but his actions don't really say this at the moment.  He needs to start really proving that to you!

I also kept my husband's betrayals a secret from everyone for a long time.  But it built up resentment in me. Every time he betrayed me again I would wonder why I was protecting his image and he was basically getting away with treating me this way.  It was a huge relief to finally start telling people the truth about my husband and the type of person he had become.
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