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Patching the life-raft


Making the conscious decision to cheat

Making the conscious decision to cheat

 

When you find yourself in the turbulent waters of an affair, and its disclosure, you find you will cling to anything that passes by in the hopes that it will carry you out of the mess.  That was the case for me.  Whether it was a gentle person willing to lend an ear, or a belief I held about WHY he had done what he had done, it didn’t matter.  I needed to cling to it.   In the case of the former, I would find myself almost desperate to talk to someone who understood and anytime someone would give *my* problem any time or attention, I was so grateful.  I never wanted them to stop listening.  I needed to talk, and I needed to be heard.  I think sometimes, I pushed people away who had offered to help, who perhaps just got tired of listening.

The thing most of us betrayed spouses are desperate to know is the WHY of what happened.  Knowing WHY it happened somehow gives us a sense of control that we feel we have lost.  If we know WHY, then we know HOW and we also feel more equipped to put things into place to prevent it from happening again.

When my husband laid out the timeline for me, he tried to help me understand the process.  I struggled with understanding how he could allow his affair to continue, especially after he started feeling guilty and knowing that what he was doing was wrong.  I had somehow convinced myself that he *fell into* the affair, however that may have happened, and that from that moment on, he was struggling to get out, stuck, strategically pinned by her threats and coercions.  I wanted to see my husband as a victim of hers.  It helped to see her as the only perpetrator against my marriage, and him as the victim who got swept away, and into something bad.

I then started to learn about what makes a man (or woman) vulnerable to an affair.  There are so many things.   I found myself looking at a list of real reasons for why he had done what he had done.  Stress at work, increased family stress (new baby), parental obligations and caregiver stress (father was in trouble with the law and as an only child was relied upon intensely to help a man who has never been able to help himself), etc.  Our list was long, when we reviewed how many of the vulnerabilities applied to him/us.   The list, once again, allowed me to see my husband as a victim of his circumstances.  He was, once again, a “nice guy who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, dragged into a situation unwillingly and then prevented from ending it due to ongoing coercion and threats to his livelihood and our family”.  At times, I felt bad for him, even though I hated what had happened.

Last week, the day before Mother’s Day, my husband wrote me a blog post for this blog.  I have been asking him to do so since May 2012.   I wanted readers to hear his side, his experience, instead of relying on stereotypes and false imaginations.  I hoped that his words would help others understand what happened to their spouses, and would outline the slippery slope that he found himself on, since so many men have the same pattern.   I waited patiently for a year, and then last week he wrote me something, and sent it to me the day before Mother’s Day.  I read it and cried.  I cried not because I was thankful.  I cried not because I was relieved.  I cried because the bubble I had built for myself in trying to get through the day to day of living with an adulterous husband and trying to rebuild my marriage, had popped.

In his first paragraph, he writes:

So when an attractive co-worker propositioned me to consider an extramarital relationship with her, my mind instantly raised every reason to do it.  It had brought to mind every tabloid that I had ever seen or read about infidelity and it’s seemingly benign outcome.  With that “well researched” information in mind, I proceeded to take that first step of my journey.  After all, I worked hard, my wife was busy with the kids, and I owed it to myself to have a change of pace, a treat, a break from my regular hectic, grueling, and stressful life.

My heart sank once again.  An old, familiar feeling.  The pit of ones stomach opening wide and swallowing them whole from the inside out.

His words showed me that he knew it was wrong before he started.  That he had consciously made the decision to engage in an affair, and that he sought out ways to give himself permission.  He thought of all of the times people had “gotten away with it”, or that it “hadn’t caused that big of an issue”, and hoped that would be the case for us.  After all, as he put it, he deserved it, and I was so busy with the kids.  Yes, busy with kids that we had decided to have together, for which I share 80-90% of the parenting responsibility.  I was busy.  I had a 18 month old, a toddler and a young child in my care while I worked full time.  But I guess because I was “so busy”, he felt he deserved what he calls “a treat”.  And here all this time, I have relied on the fact that he was in a fog, and unaware.  Relied on the idea that he was confused, and swayed.  Relied on the idea that he wasn’t in his right mind at the time, and unable to have seen clearly his path.  Reading this made me realize that he saw perfectly clearly his path.  He wanted a treat, a little heaven on the side…and hoped it wouldn’t cost him his marriage.

It made me sick to my stomach.  Happy Mother’s Day to me.

It goes to show, that even after one considers themselves “recovered”, they can still get caught up in old feelings, in sad realities, and be re-triggered.  I am only fresh on this healing path, and only recently consider myself “healed”.  I am sure I will have more of these, and should never have expected that the grey skies were behind me and only clear skies ahead.  I can still be spun backwards at times, and it no longer knocks me over and takes the breath out of me, but it sure does still hurt to hear/see those words, written by my husband to describe his feelings at the time.  Feelings which I guess I had re-written to suit my own abilities to cope with the truth.

I didn’t post the letter.  I simply can’t.  It doesn’t in any way reflect what I had hoped he would write about how he found himself in an affair.  It was analytical, unemotional, and jumps from discussions of meaningless sex as a teenager to the night we put our cat to sleep, neither of which had anything to do with me.  But hey, the letter does end with him saying how incredible I am.  Thanks. I’d kind of have to be in order to have stayed.

The life raft I had used to stay afloat suddenly had a hole and I felt like I was taking on water.  Needless to say, I am once again patching the holes to stay above water.

 

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Comments

  1. Still Loving Him says:

    Don’t beat yourself up. There is not one betrayed spouse on these blogs that I’ve not seen attempt up place the blame of their husbands infidelity on the OW or stress or an illness or new baby etc. What you did is normal, we all do it and eventually we all will come to realize that whether we like it or not our husbands all made a choice. Of course it was a choice, they don’t fall on the side walk and accidently fall into a whores waiting vagina. They plan and justify in their own minds. My husband was also pursued by the OW, when he finally gave in to her advances he’d already had sex with a prostitute in NYC, why? Because his dirt ball friend convinced him it was okay. He made a choice. He told me that he felt like since he worked so hard, provided for the family, had a huge ego because he was rich, that he deserved a little on the side. Why not, afterall all the other executives were doing it. There are a million reasons why men cheat…. I’m 18 months post D-day and I wonder today if the reasons he did if matter or if it matters more what he’s doing today. He’s repented and given up everything that contributed to him being unfaithful, including a VP position and being one of the top 1% earners in the country. My therapist says its very very rare for a man to walk away from his job to save the marriage and that I should really take that into account when I become fixated on all the things he did wrong.

    Good luck and happy healing!!!

    • I, too, have recently entered into this realm of understanding that regardless of vulnerabilities and the relentlessness of his AP–he chose his path. My husband did not evaluate everything he put on the line to have this affair. Nothing in his life was good enough or worth stopping him from being with her. I can doubt everything or turn the page and remind myself that the affair is over and he is not that man anymore.
      I feel like I can answer the “Why?” question a thousand different ways but it doesn’t alleviate the pain of his decision. So like SLH said–should we foucs on the reasons they cheated or their behavior now? Triggers turn us off our path of healing too quickly and abrubtly.They make us question our experience and beliefs. Take deeper roots with your beliefs and the triggers will have less sway upon you.

  2. bombladoze says:

    Mr bla came to me one night and started talking about his families hmm, how should i say, “habit” of treating themselves. This made me furious. He didnt understand. He has also taken to saying, as often as he can, that he works hard to pay for everything. I just posted about this recently. About what you really need to pay for for me to even think about allowing you a whore.

    She was def the pursuer, but he liked the attention so he didnt say no. hes also, a compartmentaliser… me and the kids? out of sight… you know the rest…

  3. Georgie says:

    I’m so sorry….. I feel sick reading this and I can feel your pain….. I’ve been the betrayer and the betrayed within months of each other. I can see both sides of the pain, but ours was different to his reasoning. I’m so sorry

  4. My husband left me for his affair partner and, although I knew he made that choice, underneath I blamed her for enticing him. I have since come to accept that I had been living an illusion as to what I thought his morals were and he was indeed fully responsible for what he did. The saddest and most difficult fact, was that I was cast aside without a thought. I did not enter his thought processes at all. I suppose, from your point of view, you do have the positive side that when it came to the crunch your husband did choose you and your marriage.

  5. Ash Bevs says:

    I thought he didn’t find her attractive? That’s what other blog posts said…?

    • He was writing it from his past perspective. If I need to explain in order to satisfy;

      Attractiveness comes not from ones physical only. He did not find her “pretty”. He found her fun. He found her single life exciting and exhilarating as he’d long left behind the college year and was now living more responsibly. He found her youthful exuberance and playfulness attractive. But he didn’t find her to be “pretty” or “beautiful”.

      Attractive encompasses more than physical looks and that is what he is referring to. It’s an overarching term, not a specific one to looks.

      • Ash Bevs says:

        Oh, I now understand. Sorry about about that. And you are right about the attractiveness thing, I never thought about it that way until now…

      • bombladoze says:

        Mine says the same, Its not about her looks, its her lifestyle yeah. What he (mr bla) felt like he missed, having knocked me up at 19 and all… Hes maintained, this whole time, that from the minute he laid eyes on me he was done for. He didnt think much of anything about her looks. The entire time. It was all about the attention.

  6. Your post is a reminder of the cyclical nature of the healing process. The ugly picture of the reality of the affair choice can punch me in the stomach at unpredictable times. At 29 months past discovery and with a husband (seemingly) committed to me and the marriage, I function normally most of the time. But that ugly reality is still there. I try to be grateful for his behavior but the knowledge of his easy selfishness causes me to question whether I want to continue to reconcile. I rely on the knowledge that I can leave at any time.

    • It most certainly is not linear, is it? It is also interesting how triggers creep up and how one is dragged back sometimes. It’s also interesting how even betrayed spouses can contribute to that pain without realizing it. Look at the comment by Bev below where she asks “I thought he didn’t find her attractive”. What is the intention behind a question like that. Does one wish to put it in my face that perhaps he did? Does one want to correct me for having conflictual information? What purpose does it serve? The truth is that he doesn’t and didn’t. If he ever did, he certainly looks now through clearer glasses with the affair goggles removed.

      We are all on this path. It’s sometimes easier to think of leaving, isn’t it? The reward in staying must overpower the pain required to stay. Some days it is, and some days it doesn’t feel that it is. I like linear 🙂

      • Ash Bevs says:

        I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel bad or rub anything in your face. I misunderstood the blog post in general…sorry.

  7. RMM…Well yes,… if you are analytical about issues…he chose to engage in adultery. (They all do.) But don’t discount the mitigating factors that even your husband, most likely YET, has not even come to grips with. ( He is still in shock and appalled at how he failed) What really happened, behind the curtains. What the predator/sociopath/seductress was cunningly counting on. Taking advantage by manipulating the person whom she targeted. You must look at the tactics of socialized psychopathy. First, when these RUTHLESS SHARKS encounter someone useful to them, (PREY) they are very charming. They work very hard at getting into someone’s head and becoming USEFUL to the target. (“JUST FRIENDS”-right … I will always have your back in Business.matters.) Once they feed their new friends EGO they usually find their weaknesses. It is covert emotional blackmail. But the MASTER of the Universe Male usually doesn’t understand that he is being MANIPULATED BY A SOCIOPATH. ( Think… the FLY ends up in the spider’s web analogy.) Obviously he got seduced (NO STRINGS attached , rules of the game mindset ) and then compartmentalized his behavior. In this fantasy induced, secret “dream” world of escape, he thought no harm would ever come to his REAL LIFE, because he thought he could still be in control. He was wrong and men HATE to admit that he didn’t KNOW what he was doing or can control things ! But if YOU understand what really happens in these situations ….You know that he was in an emotional fog, even if he can’t admit it now. (That type of thinking induces fear in MEN.) It takes time for these male victim’s to realize how they got PLAYED !!! This is an important ego -self protection issue again. They can’t see the forest for the trees. Until HE understands HOW a female sociopath works, he will just keep accepting the blunt consequences of the behavior. A REAL MAN TAKES THE FIRING SQUAD, in his mind.
    As to patching your lifeboat…. I always saw me rescuing my husband from the raging rapids he was trapped in, despite what he had done. I graciously made the choice to pull him into my lifeboat because I was the strong one emotionally. I never allowed myself to become the victim of a manipulating sociopath , because MY ego was in check and spiritually so was my heart. I still saw the GOOD in my husband, despite the judgment of other naysayers…. I chose facing the hard challenge of repairing the rips in my dingy.
    Many people never rescue their wayward husbands, because the husband never reaches back for the betrayed spouse to be saved ! It is very easy for some people to just let the stupid ass drown and look out after ONLY themselves. You have been blessed, even though sometimes it feels like a CURSE. The devil LOVES it when we have doubts. Don’t let him fire arrors into your lifeboat of compassion. When the going gets tough…the tough KEEP GOING , especially when you are going through HELL or HIGH WATERS !
    Hang in there…. what’s ahead for you is worth the ride !

    Yesterday was 12 years ago when I D-dayed the Other Child !

    • SDW, you reminded me of one of my all-time favorite quotes….”when you find yourself going through hell…keep going!” (Winston Churchill)
      I absolutely agree with everything you said here. It is a game changer when you are dealing with a certified sociopath. You validated several conversations I have had with my therapist, as I have struggled to come to grips with the WHY. Yes, of course my husband made a CHOICE. A bad one, when there were many other options. And he takes responsibility for those choices. Unfortunately for all of us though, he ran into a true sociopath. My therapist shared with me that she did work at one time with sociopaths and sexual predators. They described to her in great detail how they CHOSE their victim. How they were willing to spend months and even YEARS “grooming” this person and building up their trust. They build a relationship that seems normal and safe. They flatter. They pick up a shovel and gradually make mountains out of the molehills that exist in every long term relationship. They are patient. They are selfish. They start with an end-game in mind and everything they do and say is with that goal in mind. They are willing to (temporarily) make themselves into whoever or whatever is most appealing to the person they are pursuing. When they don’t get exactly what they want, the REAL personality comes out and it is not pretty. The cheater is shocked at what they have hooked themselves up with. They feel trapped in a cage of their own design. My husband wanted out long before she was done with him. By the time he ended it and I found out what had happened, she threatened to ruin his business, drag us through the courts and all manner of evil. Her own attorney dropped her, and warned ours that she was out of control and delusional. My husband has had to watch this crazy woman cyber stalk, harass and bully not just me but our KIDS! Today he is so deeply ashamed of what he did. Horrified by all that he could have lost over an illusion. Someone that pretended for years to be his friend, earn his trust, and then turn his depression into her opportunity for financial gain. She played to his every weakness. I was also the emotionally strong one. He credits me for pulling him out of that mess. For being willingly to fight for our marriage and for being willing to take him back after he screwed things up so royally. It is very important for them to see how they were drawn in to making the choices they made. Where their vulnerabilities lie and how to avoid similar situations.

  8. I don’t think you can trust your husband’s retrospective on things anymore than you can trust your own fantasy of what happened. The truth is going to lie somewhere in the murky middle and neither of you are ever going to truly know what that truth is. It’s only natural that your husband is going to take full responsibility for his actions, because part of a man’s ego is the need to be the one in control and making the decisions. He’s not going to want to admit to himself that he was successfully duped and manipulated by such a weak and crazy woman. At the same time though, he wasn’t her powerless puppet either.

    It’s probably a good thing that you’re coming to terms with the fact that he wasn’t as much of an innocent victim as you’ve led yourself to believe. It means that you’re tearing down the scaffolding that allowed you to heal. Facing our own fantasies is painful, but in the end we’re stronger for it. However, don’t be fooled by his analytic and unemotional self. Part of that is your husband’s own fantasy. The truth is that he was probably a more irrational and emotional person at the time of the affair than he’d like to believe.

  9. “The thing most of us betrayed spouses are desperate to know is the WHY of what happened. Knowing WHY it happened somehow gives us a sense of control that we feel we have lost. If we know WHY, then we know HOW and we also feel more equipped to put things into place to prevent it from happening again.”

    Yes, yes, YES…I could have written these exact words! As I read this, and everything else you wrote, I was struck by how my thoughts and feelings are so similar. It really WOULD be easier to believe that our husbands had been swept into affairs against their will, but they CHOSE it. They CHOSE to cheat, they consciously CHOSE to betray. It sucks. I think that whether it is fresh, or whether it happened many years ago, I think this is something that we will never truly understand and get over. Maybe the pain will lessen, but I think the ache will always be there. If only they could go back and undo their selfish stupidity…

  10. I also blamed the AP because it was easier to move forward and stay in the marriage. After too many years of Betrayal I have come to realize my thoughts were completely wrong. My H had his Affair because he could. It made him feel better about himself and life. He enjoyed everything about it. I feel like all I do is mend the holes in my lifeboat to keep afloat. Sometimes I feel I should have jumped ship because I’ve been treading water for over 4 years. Sometimes I just want to give up because I want to feel better about my life.

  11. Even I had always read that he was in a fog and the OW twisted his rational mind for months.
    But now this para of the letter has made me think if he is really sorry or came clean because of the pregnancy. I thought that he was someone who unknowingly fell into the sweet traps of the pshyco OW but like all other men he wanted to have his cake and eat it too.
    Wish he had made this part clear from the beginning, knowing this ,after so much time of recovery is devastating.
    Would you like to share with us what your husband said after reading this post of yours? Apart from the man of honor post?
    Sorry if this hurts you, but I have now started to doubt his sincerity in the recovery.

  12. And especially for those who think that the OW should not be blamed…..
    these OW create the perfect environment and offer this little strings free treat on the side…
    Its like putting a fish in the cat’s mouth and then asking him whether he wants to eat it.
    If every woman minds their own business, world and marriages will be a happy place but no then how will these women get the thrill of stealing a man ?
    The approach of the strings free sex itself is a red flag that they intend to put so many strings on you that it will choke your neck.
    Men should smell the rat when all the things are too good.

    • daphne, I have to agree with you here. Many people flirt, occasionally cross a boundary, etc. But when that is ignored they back off. A familiar theme I seem to read on these blogs is that the OW pursues persistently. Also, it isn’t that our husbands fall for a REAL woman. The OW is not. She presents an ILLUSION of a perfect woman. One that makes no demands, has no criticism of him, holds out no expectations, needs nothing FROM him and pretends to only want to GIVE. Give her time, admiration, adoration, sex, whatever it is he is looking for. Her reward comes from the destruction. By the time they foolishly realize that she is going to make some demands, express some needs, place some pressure, it is far far too late. They have been played and manipulated. Yes they chose it and could have chosen differently. But most of the women that are willing to be an OW are pathetic and manipulative.

  13. His mind instantly raised every reason to do it? He owed it to himself? Maybe he wrote that as an attempt to show his warped thinking at the time and to be unflinchingly honest, but wow, what a slap in the face. I’m so sorry, RMM. 😦

    • This was his thinking at the time. It’s what he told me initially as well (I considered it a vacation, he said, a vacation from the everyday grind). I just focused elsewhere and forgot these beginnings until I read his letter. Then it all came back. Yes, he was being honest. He has been ever since he told me. There is no point in lying after disclosure. It’s all or nothing in my view when you disclose and aren’t caught but disclose willingly.

      • Yeah… even I was thinking about this yesterday…
        I am not saying that he is not wrong, but then how many situations come in each one of our life where we all tend to fall prey to the temptation of forbidden pleasure? There are many times in life when even the most good people fall into the allures of the wrong way. That is bound to happen when you are on the right path.
        How can I blame someone when I am myself a victim of such a situation? It was in school time. when everyone was bunking their classes, cheating in exams, sleeping during classes and I got influenced by peer pressure. I came to my senses after a few months but it cost me the final exams. I got lesser marks than I was capable of.
        Result? I got my lesson. My will power and self esteem were soaring after that year. I never found myself under peer pressure again and gained a new insight of myself and of people around me.
        But that was only my life. No other lives were attached to mine. The penalty which Mr. RMM paid here was incompensable and hurt a lot of people.
        and like someone here commented, these sociopaths create the perfect environment. They are patient for years to gain your trust, they offer the best proposals, string free relationship, little fun, out when either of them wants, and men are so impressed by the strings free that they fail to see that the woman intends to put so many strings that will ultimately choke his neck.

  14. Wow! So many “I’ve been there” moments in this post! I focused all my anger on the OW for a year. Earned myself a restraining order. Even with that, it was easier to blame her than choose to face the reality of FWH’s betrayal of me. He told me right after Dday, he thought he deserved it. Lots of successful men have affairs. REALLY?? Couldn’t ya just buy a Porsche or boat or something?? You also mentioned asking your FWH to write a post for your blog….did that, too. So far, he hasn’t. Don’t think he ever will. Revisiting his horrendous choices leads him down a dark hole of self loathing. That makes me cringe! It was his lack of self esteem that begat the freakin’ affair. (I know….no excuse, but I needed to put words to WHY he risked so much.) Feeling old? Feeling unappreciated? Need to feel superior?? Reach up the skirt of a cutie pie, 35 years your junior!! That’ll pick you right up!
    Sorry. Sometimes the only way I can express myself is with a truck load of sarcasm.

    And, I really get the life raft metaphor! Most days now, 2 1/2 years out, my life raft floats calmly along and feels as stable and sea worthy as an aircraft carrier. On stormy days, I can be tossed off the dry, safe deck of marriage tranquility and then I find myself floppin’ around in heavy seas of doubt, clinging to a water logged life jacket! Luckily, those days are few and far between. You just never know what’s gonna throw you overboard.
    I’m sorry your storm happened on Mother’s Day. Moms only get one day a year! It should be awesome! We deserve it!
    Thanks for sharing that even when we feel like our feet are firmly planted on a reasonably smooth Road to Happy, we still gotta keep our eyes peeled for those inevitable potholes.
    Hope & Hugs, Shawn
    http://ayearaftertheaffair.blogspot.com/

  15. Does it help that I read that and cried for you? I suppose not! That one paragraph you shared made me so angry on your behalf! Sending much love – for what it’s worth! You sound like such a lovely and amazing woman – an inspiration! Thank you for sharing.

  16. I have been reading your blog for awhile, and it’s amazing how similar our situations are. My husband had an affair, the woman became pregnant and had a son for my husband. I found out a year and a half ago when the woman showed up on my doorstep with the child. The last year and a half have been hell. After a 3 month seperation I decided to try and rebuild my marriage. In doing so I have decided to accept my husbands son into our family. I have chosen to love and nurture him because he like me is innocent. He is a sweet child and I really enjoy spending time with him. My husband and I have one son and we want them to develope a real relationship. We have gone to court to get visitation ( which we now have every 1st, 3rd and 5th weekend).
    I know many people think I must be mad for accepting this child, but I truly believe he deserves to have his father in his life. I not a particularly religious person and was not lead to do this by some religious edict, I just feel in my heart that it’s right.
    I’m not judging ( I have no right) I just want to know if you ever considered having your husbands daughter in your life.
    FYI. The mother of my husbands child sounds like the mother of your husbands child. She is delusional, has extreme hatred for me ( not my husband) and has also tried to get the police involved. She went to our local police department trying to have my husband arrested for kidnapping when he was (according to her) 30 mins late returning his son after a scheduled visit.
    It’s not easy, but I think it’s worth the effort

  17. Rebuilding says:

    I understand why you hoped that your husband’s letter would paint you another picture of why he “fell” into the affair but it would have been a lie. It would have been very easy for him to “victimize” himself and that he was lured into this by a calculating woman who planned to seduce him (which she probably did). But I think you should be thankful that he gave you the truth. The truth hurts at times but he chose to be honest with you with his state of mind. Just because it didn’t fit into a version of what you wished the circumstance of how the affair began doesn’t make posting his letter a valuable lesson for someone to see what a betrayer’s mindset was. Afterall, this is the vulnerability that we should be guarding ourselves against…we need to guard ourselves against ourselves. I don’t think one would have an affair with someone they’re not physically attracted to. I know it hurts to hear it but it is something that needs to be accepted. By no means am I saying the other psychotic woman is beautiful as she is a total monster. I think the world of your husband to give you a letter that gave you clarity of what he was thinking knowing that it probably was not something you were hoping for. I think he wrote you what he did to be true to you and I think that is admirable.

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