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Secrecy


In the wake of my husband’s disclosure, I felt a great deal of shame.  I felt as though *I* was the reason he had an affair.  Like many do, I worried that there was something wrong with *me* that made him stray.  I thought that maybe I wasn’t good enough, hadn’t been enough, etc.  I felt ashamed for having failed at being a wife.  I didn’t want anyone to know that my husband had had an affair because I didn’t want them to think the same things I was thinking.  I didn’t want people to wonder if I was bad in bed, too fat, not enough, a bad wife, etc.  My fragile ego simply couldn’t bear being judged by others, any more than I was judging myself already.

At first, I wanted to hide my husband’s affair for my sake.  Soon, I wanted to hide it for his sake.  He felt a great deal of shame and embarrassment.  He was trying to pick up the pieces of our marriage, pieces that lay strewn across the landscape like shrapnel after a bomb has gone off.  He felt intense shame, and had the mistress not told all of the people she knew in his inner circle, he likely wouldn’t have told anyone.

She started by telling my family.  She emailed my parents and my brother. She then emailed his best friend.  She later emailed his clerical staff and the head of his IT unit.  She threatened to tell a group of individuals on an email-list for his profession, linked through their job titles and roles, but strewn across the city.  Suddenly, people were finding out left, right and centre, with no way to shut her down, when even lawyers were asking her to cease and desist, lest she be subjected to legal repercussions.  She didn’t care.  A few months later, she texted another friend of his, to let him know that she had given birth to his daughter two months earlier, a text which came in the midst of a Christmas party that she knew we were hosting (she stalked by facebook and twitter accounts where I had posted images of the prep work before the big night).  All in all, two friends, two co-workers and the in-laws were made aware.  Aside from these people, he would tell no one else…until she called his work, and made a false complaint to the Chief of Staff at his hospital.  In order to indicate that the allegations were false, he had to confess to this man, an elder and a superior on the hospital food-chain.   Interestingly, the Chief of Staff had experienced a similar problem when a woman had become irate with him, and had attempted to have him fired, so he knew all too well what had happened.  This same incident had been reported to the ombudsperson, so she found out as well.

Once the leak had been contained (i.e. she was subjected to a confidentiality order by the courts protecting the details of the affair from third parties), he told no other persons about his affair. Ever.

Three years into an affair, the affair itself almost becomes a new “normal”. It no longer seems shocking.  Like the desensitization to violence that happens to those in war, the details of the affair, and discussions about it no longer bring with it the same shame, sadness, or hurt.  It has just become…part of our life.

Despite this new normalcy, my husband still has not revealed the affair to those around him, specifically to his parents.  Lately, this has been making me feel bad.  I feel like we are holding onto this huge secret, and frankly, I feel like I am complicit in this act of betrayal against his own family.  His parents divorced many years ago, and both live on their own now.  He is their only connection to the family they once had together, and he shoulders the burden of being the “one and only”.  He is held up on a pedestal as the only child, the one who found success, the one who always does the right thing.  If only they knew.

What is sad for me, is that these two people have a grandchild that they don’t know about.  They have a granddaughter that they will likely never know.  This information, being kept from them on purpose.  I feel, some days, like a cheat and like a rat for keeping this information hidden from them.  It just doesn’t feel right.

As we go about our lives, trying to clean the slate, and start again, I am reminded that we can’t ever truly start again fresh and new, when there are people so close in our lives that have no idea.  If this affair hadn’t produced a child, I probably wouldn’t care, but it did, and I am sensitive to the fact that if it were me, I would want to know that I have “kin”, no matter what the circumstances.  I would want to know that my son has a child, illegitimately or not.  I would want to know. I imagine that they would want to know also.

My husband tells me that he can’t tell his family.  He claims that his misogynistic father would blame me for his affair, and see me in a dimmer light.  His father repeatedly cheated on his own wife (husband’s mother) and to this day doesn’t take an ounce of responsibility for his actions, claiming that she led him to it with her lack of attention, lack of respect, yada yada yada.  So, it is highly likely that he would blame me.   His mother, on the other hand, suffers from mental illness, depression and low self esteem.  It is no wonder, given the life she has had, and the people who have continuously pummelled her emotionally all these years. His fear is that telling her would throw her over the edge, and that she would likely sink into a deep episode for which hospitalization would be required.  Not at all unlikely, as she has been hospitalized in the past from the trauma experienced by watching a thriller-style movie with us more than a decade ago.  She is simply too fragile to take on such traumatic news, and he claims he wants to protect her.

So, he wants to protect ME from his father’s judgment, and he wants to protect HER from a downward spiral of mental anguish and decline.  Part of me has always wondered, and always will, to what extent the ‘golden child’ simply doesn’t want his pedestal rocked.

In getting a fresh start at our marriage, I feel like a fraud when our close friends don’t know, and his family is unaware.  I wonder when I will stop feeling like a fraud for something I didn’t do, but am now complicit in hiding.

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Comments

  1. I understand. So many people around me still don’t know about the affair. Some family that I don’t see as often still don’t know about the OC even though he is around. He is here now, hadn’t seen him since Christmas break since he lives in another state now.

    As to my “second family”, those I work with only 3 people know. I have worked in this tight knit group for nearly 20 years. I feel like a fraud when I sit in on conversations about marriages and families. I just quietly keep my information out of the conversation since I can’t lie to them and I CANNOT tell them the truth. I try to keep the affair and OC out of public conversation for the sake of my kids too. I don’t want them put in difficult positions either.

    I feel like he got protected and I got thrown to the sharks.

  2. bombladoze says:

    I feel horrible keeping it from people, i hate asking the people who do know to keep it a secret as well. especially my family, but i have such a huge family, and gossip flies so freely. im not ready for so many people to know, i dont think i ever will be. something else i worry about, is this country can be a little bit like a small town, everybody knows somebody who knows somebody… once i told my mum (who i know can keep a bloody secret) he took it as license to go and tell a bunch of people, no concern for how i felt… mind you, at this point i had cleaned out the house and left him.

    i also feel like im protecting him. but more than that, if we work it out i dont want people to judge MY choices. if we dont work it out however. i dont care who knows.

  3. I can relate to you about this. My husband has always done whatever necessary to protect his mother for whatever reason. He doesn’t want to cause her any undue stress even though she neglected him as a child. I just don’t understand why he feels he owes her that. It makes me irritated, truthfully. I think part of it is that he doesn’t want her to know about his issues so that he doesn’t continue to look like the bad child in her eyes. I think part of him does it because she now accepts him as he is (he’s the black sheep) and he doesn’t want to lose that.

    Anyways…I made him call his mother the day I found out. My parents know, too. I actually made him call my dad, too. I wanted him to come clean to them about what he’d done because I felt it would be important for him to face them, too. He cares a lot about my father.

  4. People are usually so concerned about the OC that they forget the wife has young children as well to whom the news that they have a sibling cannot be broken like this. but ‘sermons from facebook’ have double standards. they pretend they care about children but how can they totally disregard the wife’s children like this? I am sure after reading this, these sermons would respond harshly to RMM , completely letting the OW off the hook, telling she had o vows so she can destroy a family and kids life but women like RMM who have suffered so much pain cannot do what is necessary to protect her famiy.
    These commentors say that the wife should leave if she cannot accept the OC . What do they mean? That her children be deprived of their father? I once saw a commentor reply to a wife that he wishes that she does not have any children because she refuses to see the OC. Shame on those who can make such insensitive comments.

    Whatever it is, Ladies like RMM don’t feel any guilt or get affected by these idiots and do whatever necessary for your family.

  5. Because of SECRECY – I lost friends. I’m way to honest (not always speaking the truth “in love.”) I do think that your spouse could be right about his mom. I certainly wouldn’t want to be bashed by his dad since self-esteem after an affair is so hard to recover from. Even this weekend we have out of town guests coming who have no idea and are going through some very difficult struggles. My husband makes life sound so “fine” – when in reality LIFE IS SO HARD! I see marriages around us struggling and wish that we were one of those marriages that could mentor but we are still stuck in our own failings… My recent thought after 20 months out of the discovery is that I just don’t want to accept that “this did happen & it is my marriage.” I don’t deny what he did but I also don’t want to accept it. The Oxford English Dictionary defines acceptance as “willingness or ability to tolerate.” The definition for forgiveness is “cease to feel angry or resentful toward.” Being HONEST in the forgiveness place, I have to say I don’t want to accept the defiled marriage as it wasn’t “the chapter” in my “story.”

    • You know, his dad and I already don’t get along. He’s a misogynist and I’ve never liked him. We haven’t seen one another for years. What he thinks of me doesn’t matter to me one iota. What he considers blame, I don’t care. What I do know is that when he was arrested in 2009 and put in jail for some selfish and reckless behaviors, his absence from my husbands life, the stress he inflicted on loading my husband with te work of selling his home/office, meeting with defense lawyers because his dad couldn’t be bothered to figure his own shit out…the feelings of abandonment that came from feeling that he lost his dad…THAT is what threw him over he edge and was the primary stressor in causing his affair. Do I like the man? No. I partially blame him for creating stressful circumstances that led my husband into dangerous water. I couldn’t care less what he thinks. His mom, however, makes me tentative. She would have a mental decompensation for sure.

      • Chrissy says:

        In some ways though, wouldn’t the mother on some level understand what you are feeling more than ever? Having been through it herself? Or do you think that it too would make her feel like a failure. In my case, my mother-in-law turned her back on me pretty quickly and blamed me for what happened. Even suggesting that I “set this up” (as in I set up the affair, not really sure where she got that one.) I do though feel like your husband is getting protected and just doesn’t want to feel shame and failure…when he is the one who did not protect you, your self esteem, your dignity and your family from this OW violating your entire life (I read the life raft post that he analyzed the situation and felt the consequences would be benign (basically minimal and the word suggest favorable) if you found out…glad he came back with something better than that for you :)). This is the problem I struggle with in my situation on a daily basis. I dont want to actually seek revenge or even the playing field within my relationship…but sometimes I have to admit I do think about it. I think “you didnt get the same courtesy of being spared the shame, why should you spare the person who betrayed you and caused this shame in your life.” I struggle with my intentions on a daily basis in my relationship. I fight with the urge to humiliate him the way he did me, and I have to calm those feelings and find forgiveness, when I really don’t want to at times. I dont know if this helps at all, but I do understand the struggle you are going through.

      • Unfortunately, her mental illness will prevent her from being able to identify with me. SHe is broken, and to this day, has no insight into the affair. She will still blame herself, and has likely blamed herself all along. Her mother lives with her and has beaten her down. She puts her down, tells her that she is the reason her marriage failed, etc. She so believes that, that she is a shell of a woman. She has no self esteem, and hardly leaves the house now. I can’t expect her to understand my situation when she never understood her own.

  6. Henry Adams says:

    My husband is also too ashamed to tell his parents – 8 years later and no OC involved. I do understand in one way, but equally I think they ought to know so that they can be aware – the OW (frankly, I hate that term because it implies a modicum of recognition and validation) is so insane that it’s a distinct possibility she’ll go after them. She’s tried everyone else, including my work and my best friend.

    • The OW in this situation has no access to my in-laws, thank goodness. Both are retired so they can’t be googled through their work. Neither one’s email address was ever shared with her. If she had them, she would take advantage. In her rantings, she refers to them as “my daughter’s grandma and grandpa…” They don’t even know she is alive, so lets not even apply the title.

  7. Henry Adams says:

    Unfortunately, I think it’s a deferred small victory. If she decides to go after them, she’ll find them eventually via electoral register. And given her recent behaviour, she’s escalating to the point that it’s a genuine concern. Which is why I think my husband should prepare them for what might be coming.

    • It actually takes the wind out of her sails if she doesn’t get the reaction of shock from them cause they already know 😉

      • Henry Adams says:

        I know! Now try explaining that to my husband!!

      • It sounds like maybe she hasn’t shattered him enough times that he actually thinks it could happen. It’s easier to pretend it won’t or just be hopeful. He believes the likelihood is less that she will and so why spill the beans if the chance is so slight. Well, these women are psycho so personally I’d rather be prepared. Sure, she may never tell, but for the small chance (and I don’t think it is small) that she will, it is better to be honest. In the end, they should know. Wouldn’t he want to know if his kids were going through this?

  8. Yes I think you’re husband is being extremeley selfish and his motivation stems from protecting his own image, not protecting you from his dad’s judgment, or protecting his mother from the blow (altho that rationale I can partly see).

    I think you should tell your close friends. Why do you keep it a secret from close friends? Is it the shame? Better to deal with the shame than a lifetime of not being forthright.

    Again, i am confused why you would be posting on Facebook knowing the OW was stalking you? I guess maybe if I knwe your thought process behindt aht I could undertsand better.

    Overall, it seems like many people are too caught up in thier image (i.e. not telling close friends and family, continuing to post “images from a perfect life” in facebook, etc) rather than REALLY fixing their mariage and healing. If the priority is protecting your image vs. enbracing forthrightness as a path to healing, well then the healing takes second seat to image.

    Personally, I’d tell whoever I felt like telling, regardless of the wayward spouse’s preferences. Its not like he considered your preferences when making his choices.

    • I had to close my twitter account. That is where she was stalking me. Sadly it has cost my business to lose that social media presence. I maintain Facebook because I can control who is friends with me there. On twitter it is open. So no, I don’t open myself to stalking, but I do maintain Facebook for business as well. I can’t lose everything, nor should I.

    • We are sensitive to the fact also that not all friends are able to have this information and maintain the friendship. I don’t know if you are a spectator or have actually been through this, but I can tell you that people have strong opinions on infidelity one way or another. Some people say they could be impartial but just like betrayed wives say they would leave…what you actually do is not always what you thought you would. I’ve lost friends and family over this. I’ve had friends unable to be in his presence and put on fake airs of acceptability. It was too awkward and the friends left. They invariably take sides and when you aren’t splitting up, and are trying to repair, having a friend who doesn’t approve an vocally shares that openly makes it hard to do the work, or makes it hard to get support while doing the work. I had to pick my marriage or my friendship and I lost the friend. It happens. I am not prepared to possibly lose others. Do I need to tell them? Only if I feel their support is necessary and three years out, I am not in the place I was when support was required from everywhere. I no longer cry. I am no longer upset. I have forgiven my husband. So telling them accomplishes what?

      Now family…I believe we have a duty to share with them that they have a granddaughter and that is altogether different than telling friends.

      • Wishing4D says:

        I am a new reader to your blog but must say that is such sage wisdom in what you’ve expressed above.

  9. Everyone knows about my husband’s affair. I see no reason to protect him from the consequences of his poor choices.

  10. All my close friends know about the affair.. to bring shame on him and to her as well. I doubt he feels any shame as he has lost very little. we spent so much time together, making love and talking about music and art. I shared so much with him. when he told me he didn’t love me I did not believe it and I still dont. but we had spent the night together for the first time and he said this as we were driving back. but when we got back to my house he let me make love to him again. I had to tell the girlfriend. who is now the wife and a wicked evil woman. she sent me so many emails as she suspected but I never told her. I cannot see why he stayed with her. I think he stayed with her as he suspected that i was sleeping with some other guy in the running club. but I sent an email about this guy harassing other women in the club. I got thrown out of the the club but it was my attempt to distance myself from this guy so I could get my lover back from his girlfriend/wife. I can see no wrong with what I did to anyone and stand by my decision to seek out this guy and give him sex. I gave it to him so easily. the girlfriend/wife is frigid and I got my friend Marc to tell her on email several times. but she deserved it after all the emails she sent me telling me to back off her man. all you married women need to get over it. I am a mistress and that’s my purpose in life and where ever I go I will continue to be so. I am used to my lovers sleeping with their wives and girlfriends and I am not a whore I am just doing what all of you cannot do. bringing your husbands extra free happiness. I know how to satisfy a man.

    • Wow that’s the saddest thing I’ve ever read. I’m sorry you don’t feel loved. Maybe if you did, you’d feel some self respect and see that no one does anything wrong in holding on to what they love and not allowing someone else to steal their lover. I don’t see why you needed to bring shame to the wife…your actions have done enough harm. But; if I’ve learned anything it’s that you project your own self hatred onto innocent others when you don’t get what you want. It’s all part of the mental illness you all share. So go ahead and label yourself a mistress whose only purpose is to fuck. That’s sad. Once you learn why men cheat, you’ll realize it isn’t anything like you believe it to be and you aren’t giving anything special that the wife isn’t or can’t…if you were, he would leave her to be with you. Go ahead and believe what you need to in order to feel better. Your ego obviously needs it. Frankly you’re not worth my time replying.

  11. TakingControl says:

    I’m so glad I found this blog, I somehow thought my situation was unique and nobody could understand. Other than the OW’s trolling your blog to make themselves feel justified, it will be good to have a place where people understand what I’m going through. It’s only been a couple of months since I found out. The affair itself only lasted a couple of months, although that was plenty of time for my husband to tell me he was considering divorce so he could see where the relationship was going and plenty of time to conceive a child. My husband plans on supporting the child financially and I agree with him, it’s his responsibility. He doesn’t know about maintaining contact with the child as the OW moved out of state soon after he told me about her. I told him if he wished to have contact with the child I would support him, but I have conditions. The contact with the OW should be minimal and restricted to being about the child and handled by me unless somehow the situation requires his presence. At no time should he have any contact with the mother without me being present. He agreed. He has agreed and complied with most of my requirements so far. He seems committed to getting past this together and working on a strong marriage. I would be lying however if I said I didn’t sometimes wish this would all go away. I’m sad and afraid. I don’t know what to tell our children if they find out about this OC after its birth. It’s so strange to me how the whole time I keep wondering what is wrong with me. When being hurt by anyone else in the world we wonder what is wrong with them. When being hurt by a spouse we wonder what is wrong with ourselves

  12. Sincere anglican says:

    We give our lives to our marriage, family and work but our husbands betray and cheat us, breaking our hearts, hopes and dreams. Why do you care about protecting his ‘reputation’? He didn’t! Why do you care whether his family know about his OC? That’s his business. Don’t take on his shit and feel guilty. He’s the guilty one. The one who fucked up everyone’s life. Not you.

    • I would be apt to agree with you, if I had found him out, and if he hadn’t told me and confessed himself. I would be apt to agree if his first reaction to me knowing was to deny it. I would be apt to agree if he blamed me for his actions and put the responsibility on me. He never did. Telling me and having the guts to do so in order to allow me to make a choice was a caring thing to do on the heels of a very ugly thing. There was obviously still love and care there. He could have just kept at it.

      As a marital partner, he wasn’t out to ruin me. He was out to serve himself. Ruining me was a side effect he didn’t intend, nor see at the time.

      I was furious with his behavior IN the affair. I was, however, very cared for and considered in his behavior since and it was then that I felt I didn’t need to be ugly. I was just hurt, and I didn’t need to hurt him back. It wouldn’t have made things better.

      We did something right cause here we are 🙂

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