Need advice from betrayed spouse who made their marriage work after being betrayed

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Registered: 07-09-2013
Need advice from betrayed spouse who made their marriage work after being betrayed
21
Tue, 07-09-2013 - 8:24am

I am so lost right now and I don't know what to do.  It has been two months since I first discovered my wife is having an affair and a little over a month since I asked her about it and she confessed.  I really want to forgive her and make our marriage work, but I don't know if that is even possible.  After our initial talks a month ago, she deflects any converstation on the topic of the affair right away.  She has not shown a willingness to go to couple's counseling or even counseling on her own.  I have started going to see a marriage counselor on my own since discovering since the pain is so unbareable.  I'm pretty sure she still has contact with the other guy (who is married as well) through Facebook.  He lives several states away from us, so I don't think anything physical is going on that this point, but they are probably still chatting intimately online and probably Skyping too while I'm at work.

I would really like things to go back to the way they used to be, not only for the sake of our children, but because I love her.  Is there anyone out there who has been betrayed and was successful at rebuilding their marriage in the awake of an affair?  How long does it take for the pain not to consume you?  How long does is take to have any sense of trust in your spouse?  Is there any hope at all, or is this just a pipe dream?  Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Avatar for pater_familia
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2008

Hurt, When you found out about the affair, did you consider it a "wake up call?" What your spouse needs desperately is a wake up call. If you pussyfoot about, you will not look attractive to your spouse. She wants someone who stands up for himself. Trust me on this. Who wants to be with someone who would be ok with their spouse having an affair?

If you want any hope of rebuilding your marriage, you really need to consider the fact that your old marriage is over. Forever. She is moving on, she picked someone else. You want a shot at getting her back? Work the 180 list.

Look, the shrink is giving you terrific advice, but neither my spouse's, nor my own shrink ever heard of the 180 list. These people are usually generalists. They are helping you deal with basic you stuff. When I was wrapping up my sessions, my shrink admitted to me that I knew more about affairs than he did. Let's get you there.

This 180 list is what others, the many hundreds of thousands of betrayed spouses before you have found to be the only really affective tool in waking up our spouses to the fact that we want a real marriage. It sends a message that we are ready to reclaim our lives, with or without them. The strategy is that as they see us having our "wake up call," making new and better adjustments in our lives, and really walking away from them. We are inviting them to follow. You can't do this with words. You have to just do it.

Every time I chased my spouse, she ran from me. Every time! But when I backed off, attempted to have some fun with her and the kids,while making visible preparations to move on without her. She followed me. Every time. I know how dangerous this feels. My spouse was the love of my life, we had a fairytale beginning with a terrific story. We have five kids, a mortgage, extended family, plans, all that. When she chose to have affairs, the old marriage was over, and looking back, good riddance. Our unsaid problems were a disaster. I don't live like that anymore. Back then, me and the kids had just spent five years making large personal sacrifices to put my spouse through school and right at the end of that schooling, she was going to toss me and move her lover into my home that I slaved for and have him be the father to my children? Can you understand that I get how fvcking scary this is.

You want your life back? You need to start walking away from her with your chin up. You need to contact a lawyer and let her see it. You don't have to be mean about it, just say that you would like to have her in your life, but not like this, and that you are taking steps to start a new life. With or without her. Say it calmly, with respect, but say it, and start walking away. If she doesn't follow you, then you need to know that there are 3 billion other women who would jump at the chance to be with a man who learned how to stick up for himself. There is life after divorce. A good life.

With this attitude, you just might find that she will follow. When she does, set the ground rules. What ever these are for you. Set the bar high, don't settle for what you had, set it where it should be. For me, it started with no more men! Not ever. If I hear about another man, I'm gone, forever. No third chances from here on out. Me and the kids will be just great without her.

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You know, as for the other man's spouse. Several people knew about my spouses affair including friends, neighbors and family. I later felt that NOBODY had the courage to tell me. I felt just as betrayed by them as I did my spouse. If someone had given me the heads up at the right time, some of the stuff that happened, that I hurt the most over, never would have happened. I wrote to two of the OM's spouses and as kindly as I could, told them I was sorry for what I was about to share with them, and then I laid it out as best I could. Now this is important, use no adjectives to describe their spouse. Just the facts as you understand them and say that. Once you have done this, walk away. Don't build a relationship, don't listen to her hate, because in both of my cases, they initially turned their hate at me rather than their spouses.

I know what happened to one of these marriages, I don't know much about the other. Both of these ladies didn't know until I told them. Just think to yourself, did you really want strangers to know stuff about your marriage that you didn't? It was really upsetting to me that people knew intimate issues of my marriage that I didn't know, and nobody cared enough about me to just write me a simple note giving me a heads up.

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About the issue of expressing feelings. This is tricky stuff. When I would talk to my spouse, the walls were often up. So I would create a fun event, laugh, play board games or something with the kids, and then I would use that moment of her letting the walls down to ambush her with an issue. Disaster!

What I found, was setting up an appointment. This tuesday, at 9:00, after the kids are in bed, can we have a conversation about the affair. Yes? Ok, I promise to talk about ONE issue, I expect you to lower your walls and have an intelligent open conversation about one topic. If it leads to other questions, write them down and discuss them with the shrink. I found that we could only really deal with one issue at a time even though we needed to address about a hundred. There was this moment, when my spouse began to trust me, and I had set some ground rules such as, I deserved to know things, but she also needed to protect me and not talk about sex details so I wouldn't spend the rest of my life thinking about those things.

Again, there was just this moment when the walls went down, she began talking to me like I was the person she trusted, she told me things that had she said in any other setting would have just crushed me, but she said them as an intimate sharing of one friend to another, she was trusting me as a confidant, as her best friend. Then, she said she was sorry and that everyday she could see my hurt and what it was doing to her to be the cause of that. I'm not going to say that the walls stayed down after that. They could go up again in a second. But, she started to lower them more often and in time, we normalized the affair to the point now where I could go talk to her right now and she would likely just talk. Usually, she will say how messed up it was, but both of us don't hurt when we talk about it now.

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You have some really big days ahead of you. I'm so sorry. I hope things work out the way you want. Think about what I've said. If you work your 180 list, even if things don't work out with your spouse, they will work out for you and your kids anyway. You can do this. 

Thomas

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

Avatar for pater_familia
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2008

Grief these boards are so messed up right now. Ugh!

Thomas

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

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-12-2010
In our case, my DH was in a high position overseas and he was forbidden to mess around with Foreign nationals. I didn't care. I told his boss and everyone she and he worked with. The entire organization we worked for knew. I also told her family because she was single. I didn't care at the time and I was honestly quite irrational after D-Day. Exposure brought their secret to light and made my DH make a decision to get out of our M or stay in and act with the integrity and honor I thought he had. Exposure is the greatest way to stop the A. It's exciting because it is "their" little secret. Ppl in an A live in a fantasy bubble and don't deal well with reality. Once you expose the A you force them to live in realty. I am sure that your WS's MM would like to know that her DH is sleeping with another woman. IMHO, its nasty to think of all the intimate things I do with my DH that he is doing them to another woman. Most BS want to know. You can find out who the OM is by snooping. There is reverse cell phone look up or spyware that you can put on your W's computer to find out who he is. Maybe if you gave your W a taste of what it would be like for you to walk out of her life it would snap her out of fantasy land and back to reality. You really have to stand up to your WS and let them know that you think more about yourself than being with a liar and a cheater. I know for me, I was always concerned about my looks and body and I let my DH know in no uncertain terms that I was a good catch who deserved a man who wanted only me. It's time you showed your W that. You have to find a way to become empowered to force her to get out of your life if she can't keep her legs closed when it comes to other men.
Avatar for pater_familia
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2008

newbeginnings, 

When we first find out, I think we panic or as you say act "irrational." Oh man, so was I. One of the things that both the books and the shrink both warned me about was telling too many people. Once you tell someone, you can't undo that. I told my wife's parents because they were ignorantly facilitating the affair and I also had to explain why we/she would not be coming to their home again (we have since resolved that issue). You know, my spouse really needs her parents to love her. For her, that is a very big deal. I crushed that relationship when I told them. My spouse's relationship with her parents has not really been the same since. My very religious mother-in-law was heartbroken to find that she was being used as the babysitter for her daughter's affair and I told her a great deal of the ugly details. 

In hindsight, had I been more mature, I think I could have done this better. I've had to rebuild my wife's reputation with several people. Once I was able to get past my own hurt, I realized just how embarrassed she was over the affairs. Some of what I did, sharing this with people, was absolutely crushing for her.

I also contacted spouses of some of the other men. That I don’t regret one bit. I was smart about it, in that I didn’t threaten anyone and when one of the wives asked me not to contact her again after I told her, I honored that. That was really weird for me because I would have appreciated someone kindly telling me before I figured it out on my own.

How did you telling his office work out in the long run? My spouse had to finish a class with two of the men. I seriously considered talking to the dean and having one of them kicked out of the class, but my spouse and I really began sorting things out and she and I both made concessions about him. He had to let me tell his wife and they couldn’t ever sit, study, talk, or be together again. I even spoke to he and his wife’s pastor a few times detailing the ongoing lies he was still telling his spouse (I had a lot of dirt on this guy). In the end, the pastor told me that the husband made a full confession to his many affairs and articulated the details that I had shared with the pastor to his wife. That sort of sunlight on his behavior allowed me to back way off and let them finish the class. 


 

Thomas

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

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-12-2010
"""How did you telling his office work out in the long run? """ Actually, telling his office and boss worked out perfectly for me. It showed my DH that I was serious about not staying in a M with a cheater and it made my DH get the help he needed to fix what was broken in him. It also put the xow under the scope and they found out that she had been shagging a lot of other MM. Exposure is something I am very proud that I did. I did a lot of things after D-Day that were certifiably crazy but exposing wasn't one of them. It takes away the "secret" which throws the WS out of their fantasy land and let's them know that you as a BS are putting yourself first.
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999

I think everybody has their own way of dealing with things.  I started reading this board and thinking that I wasn't a BS but actually my exH did have a very brief affair which I know he ended on his own because he felt guilty about it.  Knowing him I do believe that was true so I never even wanted to find out the name of the OW--I had bigger problems at the time.  I think if it was a long term affair I'd probably want to find out who that person was for self protection--I suppose you do need to know so you know if they are continuing to be in a place to see each other.  I probably wouldn't tell the other spouse if there was one because I would be trying to concentrate on my own marriage--maybe if it was someone I knew, but I just don't see the point in telling a stranger, but I guess other people have felt differently.

It really struck me that you said that you're afraid to demand what people should normally demand in a marriage (i.e. that your DW shouldn't cheat on you) because you are afraid of her leaving you.  Well in a way, she's already left you by cheating.  Would you rather stay in a marriage & turn a blind eye & think that maybe your DW is still cheating?  Having her leave you is not the worst thing that could possibly happen.  I got divorced after 13 yrs of marriage w/ 2 small children and I didn't want to get the divorce (it was not because of him cheating--he was just bored with being married or something).  I suffered for a while but I survived and you would too if you have to.  The funny thing is that was about 16 yrs ago and now I can get along fine w/ my ex and we even are together at family things w/ his DW (they have been married for about 11 yrs) and it doesn't even bother me to see him w/ someone else.  I'm not with anyone now but my life doesn't revolve around my ex--I dont' think about him that much unless it's something that pertains to my kids, but I'm  not mad at him any more either.  I can think about certain things that he did and think that he was kind of a jerk not to pay more child support or not to help out more with the kids but generally he was a good father, paid his child support on time, spent a lot of time with the kids, so he's a lot better than the exes of a lot of my friends who don't pay child support or don't care about their kids.  You can still have a great relationship w/ your kids if you get divorced and you would be able to make a new life for yourself.  Don't let fear stop you from insisting that you be treated with respect.  If your DW doesn't really want to be married to you and wants to be w/ the OM, better than you find out about it instead of having a sham mariage where she is doing things behind your back.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-09-2013

Thank you all again for sharing and for your insight.  I appreciate it.

A few things have changed since the last time I posted.  I did find the courage to bring up my concerns to my wife, and to let her know what I'm going to need going forward if our marriage is to work.  She seemed to understand and she shared some of her fears going forward, such as me ending our marriage and a potential future for her where she is not with me or the other guy.

The one big thing that she has not been able to do is to end her affair with the other guy.  Like I said before, he does not live in the same state that we do, but they have still been connected online.  I told her that if our marriage has any chance to working long term, the affair is going to have to end.  I did not put a time frame on when this needs to be done by.  Maybe I should have, but I don't even know how long would be my limit, so I didn't have to set a deadline that I wouldn't end up sticking to.

The other thing that she does not seem willing to do is to seek counseling, whether it is marriage counseling with me, or counseling on her own.  Ideally, I would like to do marriage counseling, but I would be happy if she would seek counseling for herself.  That's what I'm doing for myself.

One thing that I think she understands for our talks is one of my concerns about the affair continuing.  I am here in the real world having to compete with a fantasy relationship.  While I have to be on my game 24/7 at a time when I'm an emotional mess, this guy does not.  He can put his best foot forward when he interacts with my wife from the safety of distance and the internet.  He doesn't have to worry about her seeing him loose his cool, or come home after a stressful day at work, or tired while getting up with a baby in the middle of the night.

Thank you again for letting me vent.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-15-2008

Hi there,  I am sorry you are dealing with this pain.  Tom gave you fabulous advice in the beginning of this thread.  The 180 is a great tool to empower yourself and also sometimes knocks the WS of the fence.  That is where your wife is now--as long as she has contact with the OM.

As long as you put up with her contacting the OM and not put your foot down it will continue.  Everyone gets to that point in their own time.  This craziness is often referred to as a roller coaster.  I am a former BS and I can tell you it does become clearer and calmer when you put your foot down and stop the crazy ride!  What do you want for yourself?  If you wife wants to stay on that fence you don't have to sit around and wait.  You do have control of your own choices and so does she.

I am not suggesting that you run to divorce court, that is your decision and if it is time to do that you will know.  You can tell your wife that under no circumstances will you be in a 3 way marriage with this OM and she needs to end all contact.  If she refuses follow the 180.  Make an appointment with an attorney (you don't have to divorce just because you do).  It will empower you and give you an idea where you stand financially.  Move forward in your life, if she joins you as a loving, faithful wife, great.  If not at least you will be moving in the right direction.

Unless you make what can be difficult steps forward you will remain in limbo and your wife may stay on the fence longer. Than you can bear.  Life is short. You deserve happiness, take care of yourself!

I wish you the best!

Ollie

Avatar for pater_familia
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2008

HurtAndBetrayedHusband, 

I am so sorry this is still going on. You really sound like a great person. Your spouse is very lucky to have someone like you. 

Ollie has been here as long as I have. We have seen your story hundreds and hundreds of times. Affairs generally play out the same way. My spouse compartmentalized her relationship with her AP and her family. I have all the phone bills to show her being with us, having a good time, and then minutes later, she's in his world. Phone calls to me from work where we planned our adventure for my day-off, and then moments later, a phone call to him to have coffee and a makeout session in my car. 

It took a long time for me to process that she really had genuine feelings for the main AP and that she had to go through a grieving process, and I had to be ok with that if I was going to keep her. On the otherhand, she had to work her no-contact rule with her affair partners. As I began to reach back to her, she had to do the same. 

Look, you are saying things that fit into a normal affair. She fears losing both of you. This is normal and common, but she has to choose. Working your 180 helps HER make that choice. I know this is really scary, but we are not giving you advice to destroy your marriage. We are giving you advice to give your marriage an honest shot at recovering and if it doesn't, a real shot for you to move on in a healthy way. The 180 is designed to take back our dignity and
 make ourselves attractive to our spouse again. Ollie worked this, I've worked this, and there are a lot of folks that have also worked this 180 list before you. We want you to succeed, with or without your spouse. Preferably with. The 180 is bible for betrayed spouses. Write it in Ink on the back of your thumb were only you can see it and work it! 

Listen to Ollie, every word she says is gold. I know this first hand. 

Like I said, you sound like a terrific dude. A little freaked out, but terrific. You can do this.

Tom

Thomas

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

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-17-2014

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