Can't Remember the Details

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Registered: 09-10-2013
Can't Remember the Details
8
Tue, 09-10-2013 - 12:10pm

My husband came to me to confess he had had an affair with his business partner many years ago and she had developed cervical cancer. She told him to tell me so I could get checked for HPV because she believed he had transmitted it to her. To say I was shocked is an understatement. While she was his business associate, we were also friends. Went on vacations together as couples for years and years. I wanted to know when it happened and how long it went on. He says he can't remember when it happened because it was so long ago. It's important to me because I want to remember what was happening in our lives at the time that could have caused the infidelity. His betrayal is not only to me but to his own values which I always felt so confident in. He has always been so adamant about being true to eachother. He even broke off an engagement with a woman prior to us meeting because she was flirting with a guy she worked with and he could not "be with a woman he couldn't trust". He says they ended the affair because they realized it wasn't right and he still loved me. I have been told that she has confessed to her husband and he admitted to his own affairs (which is probably where she got the HPV transmitted from). My husband has been very remorseful since the revelation but I feel like I've been hit the heart with a sledge hammer - really, the pain is that intense. I don't know what to do or how to move forward. Do the details really matter?  We've been married for 31 years. Should it matter that it happened so many years ago? Jeez, I'm such a train wreck. Please, make it stop hurting.

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Registered: 07-24-1997
Tue, 09-10-2013 - 1:16pm

You ask, "Should it matter that it happened so many years ago?"  I don't think the question is what "should" matter, since what you feel is what you feel.  I imagine discovering that what you thought was solid was not must be a terrible blow.

However, there are many things that are not solid over the entire course of 30 years (DH & I have been together for 31, married for 23).  No one has a perfect relationship for 30 years.  There are times when you don't trust your partner's willingness to do everything possible for you, or someone was not reliable about money, or you had difficulty communicating through a tough period, or there was a long period when you felt taken for granted - all of those are just examples of the times when relationships are not solid.  And yet we get through them, and oftentimes we are grateful for what we learned from them, if the marriage comes out stronger. 

Personally I don't care to revisit those times.  At 51, how much do the details of the rough spots matter, if we've lived through them together?  DH & I choose not to question the wisdom of our "don't ask, don't tell" policy of our early years, because eventually we did get married and put our marriage first and our other relationships in the past.  We never talk about how much counseling helped when we'd been together for 12 years, because that was 19 years ago - why talk about those problems now?  We never mention the tough conversations we had about money, or jobs, because we worked through them years ago.  The details no longer matter.  What matters is us, now.

You are going to hurt anyway, but you can also look at the fact that this relationship is long past.  If it was 5 years ago or 10 years ago, how will knowing the details about when it happened shed any new light on your marriage?  What matters is that your DH recommitted to his marriage, and if this event had not happened, you would have been none the wiser - which means he must have been whole-hearted in his recommitment.  Not to mention that he chose to value your health over your image of him all these years later.  No doubt he wishes that that chapter in his life had remained closed, but for your sake, he could not.  I am sure that was not easy for him to confess to.

Please have compassion for yourself, but don't let an episode of his life change the meaning of your own life, or your life together.  I am sure there will be things to address, but don't devalue 31 years for the sake of knowing the details of something that is long past.

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Registered: 09-10-2013
Wed, 09-11-2013 - 8:21am

Your response is very enlightening. It has helped get my thoughts more focused. Thank you for responding.

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Registered: 09-10-2013
Wed, 09-11-2013 - 8:25am
Thank you so much for responding. Just getting my head together will be a good start. Hearing from those of you who have been through this and how you moved forward is amazingly helpful.
Avatar for pater_familia
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Registered: 09-12-2008
Wed, 09-11-2013 - 1:48pm

Jah, 

What I would normaly tell someone who is finding out about a recent affair is that for your mental health and safety, you deserve to know, and should know, a small handful of facts about the afair.

Did they touch (Kiss, hold hands, bla bla bla.)?

Did they have sex?

When did it start?

When and if it ended? 

Are they still in contact? 

For your own sanity and from every book I read, from the best advice I received from this board. Please take some time before you ask much beyond this. Even though you are screaming on the inside for him to say everything. Once you know stuff, you can't unknow it. May I suggest that you get a counselor and have a very serious conversation about what to ask him and what he needs to protect you from! I found out things about my spouse’s affair that I wish I hadn't found out because I don't know how to forgive those things. I can't ever unknow them and they hurt me still. I finally told my spouse that she can't tell me details about their sex unless I ask her while in a shrinks office with permission from the shrink. This is just merciful for both of you. 

Let me give you another example. My spouse had four affairs. I knew two of the men. I looked up a third on-line and found an awful photo of him fishing with scraggly hair and I just thought he was so unattractive. I ambushed my spouse with the photo. I went on this vent about how could you pick him over me sort of thing. 

This was a no win argument for my spouse. What if he was handsome?  I would have gone on a vent on how she upgraded from me. This is an unwinnable and unproductive conversation for my spouse to have with me.

There are so many constructive conversations that you and your spouse need to have that really have very little to do with the affair. Why are you not communicating well? Why did he feel it was necessary to stray outside the relationship?

You deserve to know anything you want to know. He should answer every question you have and if he doesn’t know the answer, he should go out and find that answer. I’m just saying there might be things you could live without knowing and there are some conversations that are more productive than others. Unfortunately, the insult to injury here is that you have to be the more mature person again and make those decisions for the two of you.

Can I just say, after six months of learning new how to talk to each other and trusting each other again, we were sitting in this airport together and our plane was majorly delayed. We sat in a corner and my wife began to just talk. The difference this time, it was one friend talking to another friend about how she screwed up. She then began to tell me very hurtful things. Things that would have killed me months earlier, but this time the walls were down, and she was sharing how traumatized she was also and how this hurt her and how sorry she was for hurting me and the kids. It was unimaginably productive, intimate and bonding.

I hope you can find moments like that down the road for yourself. With or without him.

Chin up!

Thomas

We have five kids. Our D-Day was in August, 2008.

Avatar for pater_familia
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Registered: 09-12-2008
Wed, 09-11-2013 - 2:08pm

One of the MANY indignities of all this was going to the doctor, whom we know through our kids school, and asking for STD tests and finally having to explain that it was her that strayed. Why that mattered, I don't know?

The nurse behaved so poorly in that she made it even more awkward. Darting in and out of the room without saying anything, Ugh! Then asking the doctor for anti-depressants and working through doses with multiple visits.

Sorry you have to go through some of this. The wandering spouse often has had some time to process a lot of these issues prior to our finding out. We sit there and wonder why they aren't shell-shocked like we are. I'm guessing this will be a bigger issue for you since he's had so many years to work through a lot of this in his head and normalized things with the OW. It will be a long time for you to do anything close to that. I have to interact with one of my spouses APs and it took years for me to unclench my fists around him. The day of his wife's funeral, he approached me and confessed that he had more intentions than what he did and how sorry he was. I've been able to talk to him like a normal human since then. I don't go out of my way to talk to him but I can be part of conversations he is in and not think too much about things. 

I'm worried about you. I guess that's why I'm rambling. I was talking to my spouse about you and we both send good vibes your way. We know that knot in your stomach and what it takes to get from where you are to a healthy place and our hearts go out to you.

Thomas

We have five kids. Our D-Day was in August, 2008.

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Registered: 09-10-2013
Thu, 09-12-2013 - 2:05pm

I don't really want to know the sexual details. Sexual details are easy enough to imagine without an actual dialog. I want to know when it started and when it ended. Maybe even what lead up to the actual beginning of the affair. The betrayal is so hurtful because I've had to be a trusting spouse because his hours are unpredictable; evenings, weekends, late nights in his office. He is at the mercy of his clients. I can't talk to anyone I know about this because that would affect his business and ultimately our livelihood (I don't want to sabbotage our future). He now has a home office and they have not been business partners for several years. I have a number for a therapist recommended by my OB/GYN. Definitely need to find a way to get all the questions out of my head.

Avatar for pater_familia
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Registered: 09-12-2008
Mon, 09-16-2013 - 9:52am

If you ask me, it sounds like you are on the right path. You do need to talk to someone. Even if you just vent here and let us kick this thing around with you.

One of the things I found useful with my therapist was writing his a letter before each session. I would write what the conflicts, my complaints, the indignities, my spouse’s behaviors, and this allowed us to cover all of it. Sometimes we would get distracted in the session and didn’t cover all of the bases.  The letter allowed us to get around to the issues and allowed the shrink to have something tangible to consider when he wrote his notes after the session.

Can I recommend a book? Getting Past the Affair. I read a bunch and this one is scholarly, covers all the issues with discussions for both you and your spouse.  

http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Past-Affair-Program-Together/dp/157230801X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1379338934

 The interesting thing for me was when my spouse finally agreed to read it with me, my eyes opened up to a lot of issues she was having that I missed. We did a lot of healing reading this together. 

Thomas

We have five kids. Our D-Day was in August, 2008.

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Registered: 09-09-2008
Mon, 10-14-2013 - 3:04am

Oh, the Undecided details.  You cannot help what you are feeling, all you can control is what you DO.  I have been one obsessed with the details and 6 years after my DH's second emotional affair (oh yeah, those hurt like the devil, too), now she rarely comes up.  Still think about her, obsess to some extent, but she's out of the picture and he can't change the past.  I think you'll find what your DH DOES from this point on will make a huge difference in how you personally move on.  He needs to be totally transparent and not have a selective memory - I really do believe some forget some of the details, but they certainly don't forget them all.  You have the right to any information you want or need, just know that some might easily be impossible to get back out of your mind, too.  Besides, you can pretty easily imagine the sexual details, which is the stuff nightmares are made of.  I have come to think so many wish they had NEVER DONE IT, and since less than 1% of affairs actually end up in a true relationship, they don't realize it's doomed from the start, anyhow.  Do see that therapist, who can help get your head back on straight so you are able to make the decision that's right for your life.  Like you, I'm very private about this stuff myself, only a few people have a clue what took place inside our marriage (43 years, a long 43) and to this day I am still confused confused confused by it all.  See the therapist, that's the best advice I can give you.  Too confusing to deal with on your own.