Call for strength

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-16-2003
Call for strength
15
Fri, 05-16-2003 - 11:49pm
I'm a new member and I've been reading the postings on ending an affair from the last couple of days. Wow, there are some strong women out there. I find myself in a situation where I am wishing for strength more than I ever have.

I'm 30 years old, and I've been married for 9 years to a man who can be kind and thoughtful, and also very immature, even though he is nearly 15 years older than me. He was married when we met, although I didn't know it, but his marriage was already in a shambles. In fact he left home within 3 days after finding out I was interested in him. This may have been part of the reason I married him a year later even though we had very little in common and I knew we have different values - family, Christian, and financial. What I originally thought was "the love" of my life has turned into more of a feeling of needing to take care of him physically and financially, like a wayward younger brother. I had very nearly convinced myself that this is my lot in life, I need to make the most of what we have. I thought if I just pretended to be deep-down happy, eventually it would come. But the fact is even when I feel happy on the surface, I feel I am living someone else's life, not the one I would have chosen.

6 months ago my world changed. Chatting with instant messages, I fell deeply in love with a married co-worker. This was nothing either of us planned, nobody was trying to seduce anyone, it was just something we both slowly realized was happening. We started meeting for short periods of time before or after work, and continued chatting online at work whenever we could. He told me from the beginning that he was very conflicted about what was happening, but that he did want us to be together, married, eventually. He said that he did love his wife, but that there was something that had been missing for a long time. He thought there were times when they both wanted out of the marriage At first I was impatient, but the more I thought about it, I knew I didn’t want to push him. He has a very close relationship with his 11 year old son and he is fearful of losing that. I would never want to jeopardize it because I know how important it is to him. I made the decision early on that I wanted to be with him no matter what, and that I could wait until he felt his son could handle his leaving. It was going to take some time for me to end my marriage, trying to cause my H as little pain as possible. Telling him I am in love with someone else is definitely NOT an option – I’m sure bodily harm would be done to someone.

We continued seeing each other this way for about the last 6 months, keeping sex out of the equation because we both felt it would be too painful to be together in that way and then have to return to our respective homes. Two times he tried to break it off, because he felt he needed to be responsible to and focus on his family and the commitment he made to them, and because he felt he was being unfair to me by keeping me in limbo. I was devastated, but how could I be angry? He was extremely remorseful about the pain he caused me in doing this. We agreed to remain close friends. But both times after he broke it off, seeing each other constantly at work and my unwillingness to just let go brought him back to me. Eventually our talk turned to discussions about sex, and we couldn’t stand to wait any longer. The night before it was to happen he had a debilitating attack of conscience. Now he has broken things off again, feeling that he needs to try to make things work at home, and I find myself just hoping and praying he won’t be able to do it. I want us both to be happy so much, and I don’t believe he can be truly happy there. Happy with his son, but not happy in love. I believe marriage is work, and there are countless conflicts, but I don’t believe you should have to work at loving the other person – that is the one thing that should come naturally. He is the first person I have ever felt so completely sure about. We make each other laugh, we understand each other, empathize with one another, have many of the same interests, and most importantly we share the same values, and completely respect one another.

This is where the strength part comes in – I know the right thing to do is to let him be, let him try to work things out at home, but I don’t know how to do it. I don’t think I possibly can. At work almost every minute of the day I can turn my head and see him, or I can always hear his voice. It is so painful and frustrating to have someone I want so badly, and who I KNOW wants me too, so near and yet I can’t be with him. What can I do? Every bone in my body wants to cry and beg, and do anything to keep him. But the last thing I want is to be a burden or to cause him more pain than I know he is already in. And I can’t help thinking, maybe like the times before, he won’t be able to sustain it and he will come back. And I know this is wrong, I am being so selfish. And he is the least selfish person I’ve ever known, I wish he did have a selfish bone in his body, maybe then he would use it to be with me.

Does anyone have some magic words to give me strength?

Kate

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-2003
Sat, 05-17-2003 - 1:56am
Dear Kate, Magic words? No. I've always wished for a magic wand but, so far that wish hasn't been granted! DARN! There's so much I could say. All I'm going to say is that you are both married. You both have other commitments. He sounds like an honorable man! You sound the same. Both of you need to remain that way!

When a relationship is new it's always exciting! When the excitement wears off we do have to work hard to stay in love. I do, you do, and so does he. If you truly love him, then the best gift you can give him is to leave him be. Let him keep his commitments.

I know how hard that is! I've been there and done that! I myself have an 11 yr. old daughter! The day I gave birth to her my responsibilities changed forever. My XOM will always own a huge part of me! So will my husband! But, my daughter owns every piece of me forever! She is my reason for being as selfless as I possibly can!

Do the right thing and you won't have nearly as many regrets as you will if you do the selfish thing!

Good luck in all of this! It's hard! But, you are welcomed here with arms wide open! You will find many people here who understand and care immensely! Please, keep coming back!

And by the way.... I send you 100,000,000,000,000,000 lbs. of cyber STRENGTH! Miss Incredible Hulk!
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 05-17-2003 - 8:22am
Kate...

I wish I had some magic words for you... You know what is right to do... you know what you SHOULD do or you wouldn't even be posting here...

Part of what you love about this man is his goodness... if he left for you, I think you would lose some respect for him, even though you also wish he would leave for you...

I honestly believe, have learned, after months and months of pain, that NO ONE should leave their spouse for another person. If you are going to leave, leave because of YOU and your relationship. Be on your own... for a while at least. Part of what you are searching for is an escape from your own troubled marriage, and this man represents what you WISH your H was like... And at the same time, it does not sound like he wants to leave his marriage... he can't even bring himself to actually get physical with you - I think that he would regret it and resent you eventually if you pushed him - does that make sense?

You might not want to hear this - I know I didn't accept it at first - but this affair is NOT about the OM or about your love for him. It's a symptom... it's about you and what is missing in your life. You said you are not living the life you would have chosen... If that is REALLY true, and you know you can't change things enough to be happy with your H, then maybe you need to leave him. NOT leave to be with this OM, but leave because it is right for YOU. Because you are unhappy in your marriage... And even if you feel like you should be with this OM - even if you BOTH left your marriages - I would still strongly suggest being on your own for a while first... Because if you can figure out what makes you happy on your own, ONLY then can you be really ready to be happy in a relationship.

I'm sorry if I am not saying what you want to hear... and I'm not by any means perfect or doing all the right things in my life... sometimes it's easier to look at someone else's life and see it more clearly than you can see your own... Have you considered therapy? Many of us (including myself) are in therapy and I only wish I had gone sooner than I did...

Good luck - please keep posting here - you'll find a wealth of support and advice... not always what we want to hear, but usually what we need to hear...

Hugs - this is going to be incredibly hard for you to go through, but you CAN do it and make it through and maybe even come out of it better off in the long run...

Glinda

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-16-2003
Sat, 05-17-2003 - 9:19pm
Thank you both so much for your honesty and support. This is going to be another long-winded one…sorry!

I’m still very conflicted about what to do. Glinda you are so right about needing to spend time alone – I have thought much about that over the past months, and no matter how this works out I fully intend to do that. If O/MM does leave home, it’s not going to be anytime very soon, and as much as I want to be with him I do feel I need to spend time getting re-acquainted with myself. My H loves me, but it has not been a healthy relationship. He is jealous and controlling. For years he has been depending on me financially, and this has been cause for great strain. It bothers him to be supported by me, but apparently not enough to take a job he is not passionate about. A couple of years of this was understandable to me, but now he is going on 5 years of hit-and-miss jobs, trying to work for himself. The result has been that my love for him has turned completely platonic. I know this is because I can’t respect him as a mature, responsible adult. Despite all that I was never looking for an A. I was too busy trying to convince myself that if I couldn’t be happy with my H, I would never be happy with anyone, and there was no one out there who is my “soul mate”. But I truly believe that O/MM is my soul mate (I hate that expression, but that’s the shortest way I can describe it.)

Something I never knew I would want, back when we got married, was a child. My H is unable to give me any, and with our financial situation and his immaturity I would find it very hard to justify adoption. I was so stupid back then, I knew before we got married that he couldn’t ever give me a child, but I just figured “everything will work out somehow” and “maybe I’m just not meant to have children”. As my biological clock is ticking louder and louder, I realize how irresponsible it was of me to think that way…Young and Dumb.

One of the things O/MM and I talk about is children. His wife is definitely not interested in having another, but he would love nothing more. This didn’t come out until after other discussions, so I know he wasn’t just sub-consciously looking for a woman who would give him another child. We talked about how we would be married one day, and have a child. I also know this is not one of those things where it is exciting simply because of the secrecy – sure it’s fun to steal a hug and a kiss at work when everyone else is out, but sneaking around is not something we enjoy. We fantasize about going out on a date, dinner and a movie, going grocery shopping together, everyday mundane things like that. Just being companions to each other. He has become my best friend, and that is something that I’ve always wanted – to be married to my best friend. I’ve never felt so open and comfortable with a man, I’ve been able to tell him everything, things I wouldn’t even tell my closest girlfriends. And though we haven’t had sex, we have been physical, and it’s been truly wonderful.

He admitted that before he met me, he felt content. They had had their problems, they had even split up in the past (not an EMA, just due to constant conflicts and fighting). But because of the son they always went back together. He also told me that since his son was born, they have not had an affectionate relationship – he would try to initiate sex, but she would only give in about once a month. And they frequently (several nights a week) sleep apart. I just can’t help feeling that this is not a marriage! A couple of months ago, without telling me, he tried to leave during an argument, thinking it might be the right time to end it (I wasn’t pushing him to hurry at all, in fact when he finally told me this I said “why would you do that? You know you’re not ready!). His attempt caused a complete melt down, his son called him and begged him to come back home, and when he did his wife promised to try to be better, and he promised to do the same. He tells me things at home really haven’t changed since this event, but he blames himself because in his heart he’s not focused on helping to make things better. A large part of me honestly believes that he just needs to try, so that he can tell himself he did everything he could, and didn’t just walk out. I hope I hope. And I hope it doesn’t work. I’m sorry to admit I feel that way but I do.

But regardless of what happens with O/MM, I need to find a way to leave my H. I have friends who have divorced, and I just don’t know how they do it. I feel so responsible for him. I don’t know how he will live with out my emotional and financial support. Friends tell me he’ll find a way. I’m so afraid he’ll just take a nose-dive and wind up in jail or living out of his car. I honestly love him just the way you would love a little brother with problems. And when I think about leaving, of course all the good memories come flooding in and I just don’t know how I can do it to him. The ironic thing is, since before we were even married, he has not trusted me. And for 9 years I resisted all temptation. That is why I can never let him find out about O/MM, even if we divorce, because then he would feel certain that I had been lying to him throughout our marriage, and I don’t want to ruin the good memories for him.

I know I’m a mess, but as I just can’t go outside for help, you kind women must be my therapy. Any words of comfort / encouragement you can give me are very much needed and appreciated. I’m all alone in this now – I can’t even talk to my mom because I know she would be devastated at what I’ve done.

kate

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2003
Sun, 05-18-2003 - 12:28am
Oh Kate, pardon me but as everyone here knows I am a HUG-person, and I soooo send you lots of computer (((HUGS))) of comfort and encouragement!! I read your first post and I planned to respond to it tonight, and now I have double the response with your added post! (BIG BREATH OF AIR....) Here goes... ;)

Sounds like all the years of marriage in the world with your DH would still leave you feeling dis-satisfied and empty, never happy. If that is the case, it sounds like you have all the answers you need, they're inside of you. Look deep. I am generally an advocate of saving a marriage if no abuse is involved, but it sounds to me like DH's controlling and jealous behaviors could be emotional abuse, only you could answer that for sure.

You also mentioned that at one time you thought DH was the "Love of your life", and that you don't want to admit the A to him because you don't want the good memories to be clouded by that. In the same way, you mentioned that whenever you get ready to leave DH, the good memories come back, and you stay. Sounds like there are some positive things between you two that could either be a foundation to work from or could sustain him through a divorce. From there, however, I must be honest... I hear a lot of co-dependence, in the concern over what would happen to DH if you leave. That very co-dependence is what keeps DH helplessly lost! See, DH has you to back him up, so, he knows he doesn't have to follow through with his vocational or financial commitments... he always has you to bail him out. Doing so keeps him in a cycle of dependence, which is an emotionally unstable place to be. It sounds like this has been a long-time pattern for him and could have even been a factor in his first marriage being in shambles when you two met? He found another care-taker in you, and he knew it was safe to walk away from his ex-wife. I'm taking a leap there, but it sounds like it fits, you tell me? Regardless, whether you two stay together or not, that cycle should end, for both of your sakes. He has to know he can fend for himself, and given time, he would gain enormous self-esteem to see that he can be a grown-up and sustain himself and be independent. (That is, of course, if he decided he wanted to get out of that cycle. If he doesn't, then he will just find another care-taker, and the cycle will go on and on...)

There is security in being co-dependent, and maybe a look inside will help you to figure out not only why you do what you do, but also a resolve to stop.

As far as MM is concerned, there is little to be done right now. He ended it, and you would serve him and yourself well to respect his wishes. If you get invovled, and he ends up leaving as a result, he will look back and wonder what if? That will end in resentment. Also, his willingness to work on his marriage cannot, unfortunately, include you. He needs 110% focused on his efforts. But, look at what he is doing... that shows a man of great integrity, if he is really, honestly willing to make his marriage work. It's also better for you to know that now than another year down the road, right? I know inside you hope and pray it doesn't work, and that's perfectly understandable why you feel that; your ability to be honest about it is so admirable! Be prepared, though, that whatever decision MM makes, you may end up alone, (yes, even if he leaves his W). I hope you are ok with that and prepared for the real possibility?

In an A it is easy to idealize the person you're with. You're in a secret love, and a new love, what could be more exciting? What is left when that fades may not be what was seen when it was fresh. I agree with SB that loving someone, especially after the excitement has worn off, is work. It takes a dual-effort to keep the home fires burning, and a huge commitment. I also whole-heartedly agree with Glinda's post about how if you choose to leave DH, it should be for YOU. A big epiphany to understand is what Glinda wrote about how the A is not about the OM or your DH. It's about something inside of you. It's something you are missing. The A , as Glinda said, was a sypmtom of that. That ache is still deep inside, and I challenge you to discover it. You will be AMAZED what you find! :)

I can totally relate to the feelings of alienation this all can bring, I still have to keep my A a deep dark secret from many people, even my own sister. It is devastating to feel alone when you're hurting! Please keep reaching out here, none of us claim perfection, but we are a safe place. I know the support I get here is a saving grace! It can be for you, too!! :) (((MORE HUGS))) We're here for you, ok?

~Mel



iVillage Member
Registered: 05-12-2003
Sun, 05-18-2003 - 2:51am
Kate,

I can so very much relate to your story. I would like to share with you mine because today, I am happily married to the MM. We went through many obstacles but it was worth everything.

E-mail me if you like.

living_again

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 05-18-2003 - 11:51am
Dear Kate:

You did a great job explaining your predicament. The ladies who responded with advice to you were quite thorough. . .I couldn't add more. Maybe more (((HUGS)))!!! I can only add my support and hope that you take their advice under great consideration.

Blessings. . .

Carol

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-16-2003
Mon, 05-19-2003 - 8:44pm
Thanks so much to everyone for your replies, it really does help tremendously to know someone’s been in my shoes. Sometimes I just feel like such an awful person – 7 months ago if someone had asked me (as my H has been asking me during our whole marriage) if I have or would have an A, I would have emphatically said NEVER! No matter how unhappy I am at home, I just don’t have it in me to keep up that kind of deception. Well I proved myself wrong on that one. But I do feel that if I really loved my H, as I should, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I actually feel WAY more guilty about O/MM’s marriage than my own. He said he doesn’t feel that I tried to break up his marriage, but I know the truth. I tried my darndest, and if I see a window of opportunity, I can almost guarantee I’ll do it again. I love him SO much, and ridiculous as this sounds, if it wasn’t for the fact that we are both married to other people, this was the healthiest relationship I have ever been in! I just want you all to know, even though I am not happy at home, I was never looking for this. And in no way do I want to spend my life in two relationships. And I never ever thought of this as just fun. I don’t believe he did either. I just never dreamed there was someone out there so right for me. Even if things never work out with O/MM, he has been the catalyst to make me see there is more out there for me. I don’t have to spend my life pretending to be happy when I feel like a duck out of water. I have never posted online, or even been in a chat room, but now I find myself in such turmoil I have posted in THREE boards. This one, the My Affair Support, and now the Codependents Support (this one is where I’m trying to get inspired to leave my H, if anyone’s “dying” to hear that story, click here:

http://messageboards.ivillage.com/n/mb/message.asp?webtag=iv-rlcodep&msg=6201.1&ctx=0

But you know from my previous posts that I am posting here because he has tried to break things off, and my conscience is telling me to let him do what he feels he needs to do. Let me tell you, it’s not been easy to keep my mouth shut though. I can’t figure out how to MAKE myself stop hoping things don’t work out, he’ll change his mind. It’s only been 4 days.

I wish, and I’ve told him this, that he was just a JERK! I told him once that for me to be able to let go, he would have to tell me that he didn’t love me anymore, and bless his heart he did say it but we both knew he didn’t mean it. But that is what I need to hear. “I don’t love you anymore, you’ve become a huge pain in the butt, leave me alone!” Then I could just hate his guts and be done with it. But Noooooooooooooooooooooooo. These are the kinds of abuse I suffer: “I’m so sorry for what I’ve done to you. This is not your fault. You are a good person. I wouldn’t blame you if you hated me but I really want to stay close friends. I’ll never stop loving you, I just have to do this. You didn’t deserve this.“ Now how in the bloody “H” am I supposed to learn to hate someone like that!

And I FEEL like a terrible person, I asked him how could he do this, even though I know he already feels terrible. I told him he deserves to have hugs and affection all the time, because I know he doesn’t get it from his W. He says this is still not happening at home but he hopes in time it will. Well I hope hope hope it doesn’t happen, I hope she just turns into a B**** from H*** or finds some other man. And I am awful for thinking these things because there is a son involved.

Last night I had another in a long-running series of fights with my H. I went to work looking puffy (saltwater damage) and very worn out, and O/MM knew something was wrong. He was so concerned, and sweet. Even though I was bitchy and crabby half the time (today of all days I also got my period, what else can happen!), he made sure I knew he cared what was happening. He knows that I want out regardless of what happens between him and me, but it’s hard for him to watch me go through this. And I wanted so much to hear him say he couldn’t stand to be away from me but of course he didn’t. He seems resolved this time. I don’t know how to take this. And it’s not because I’m afraid of being alone.

Please please don’t lose patience with me, I am so raw right now. I’m not a cryer, or what most people even consider emotional, but I feel like a hunk of raw hamburger. I don’t know how to make it through the days or nights. My whole world is falling to pieces. I know worse things have happened to better people!

-kate the basket case

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2003
Mon, 05-19-2003 - 10:58pm
Kate, you're not an "awful person", and you never were. Sure, sometimes we make bad decisions, but that doesn't mean that we are bad. You're a bright young woman with a lot of love in your heart and more strength than you're aware of. Keep looking, you have the answers you need, Girl!

You said that you can't "make" yourself stop hoping OM will fail in his attempts with his W. Llke you said, it's only been 4 days! Give it time. Right now, you're not expected to honestly wish him the best, only to back off and allow him to honor his commitments. It sounds like you have done that, and I commend you... I know firsthand how hard it is! Good for You!!

You don't have to worry about us losing patience with you here, the cup seems to runneth over no matter how lost or confused anyone may feel. After all, it should take time and tears to get over situations such as yours. I admire the fact that you can be emotional and cry... my own A has left me hard-hearted at times. Even though I think it's a form of protection over myself, I was once so tender-hearted and I miss that. Keep walking through those emotions. It may not make perfect sense now, but I promise in time, it will. =) (((BIG HUGS)))

~Mel


(PS> Calling yourself a basket case reminds me of a post I once saw on a church billboard. It read, "Don't give up... even Moses was once a basket case!" =)

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 05-20-2003 - 12:19pm
Dearest Kate. . .

Please hang in there. Like Mel said NO ONE is going to lose patience with you! You WILL get to that place of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel you find yourself in. I promise. Just never give up on precious (((You))). Do your best to put things into perspective by focusing on being kind, loving and gentle with your Self. The answers really ARE already within YOU!

(((HUGS)))

Carol

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-16-2003
Tue, 05-27-2003 - 7:51pm
I've been wallowing in so much self-pity I couldn't stand to post over the past week. This is so hard and it's not getting any easier! I was just reading the postings about closure "No Closure, My Bitterness", and all I have to say about that is, no amount of closure is ever going to help. It doesn't help one bit to know exactly how he feels about me (still loves me), and exactly why he's doing this (can't stand to be unfaithful to his family, who he fears he may never be able to leave). The only kind of "closure" I want to hear is that he's made a huge mistake, he loves me way too much give me up.

Over the long weekend it's been so depressing, things not going well at all with my H. I feel so much for him, but it's such a sad kind of love. Like "look how much he needs me". Today at lunch (by myself) I almost started crying when I remembered a fight H and I had a couple of weeks ago (more and more frequent lately). He was drinking. When he was done shouting he broke down crying and said "I just want somebody to love me!" This just reinforces the feeling that I can't leave him. But in my heart I'm never going to be happy. I decided a long time ago that I wanted out of my marriage regardless of what happens with O/MM, but just making the decision does nothing - I don't know if I can do it. When I think of myself alone, I feel free, and like I could focus on being a better person. But when I think of him alone, it just breaks my heart. What does this mean? Should I stay because he loves me and feels he needs me? Shouldn't I feel something more?

Also over the long weekend I did a LOT of thinking about O/MM. We talked last Friday before leaving work, and had some kisses. I was letting him know what he's been putting me through. I left thinking maybe he would change his mind and not be able to end our relationship, kind of on a hopeful note. But I tried to prepare myself for Tuesday, tried to expect the worst. We hardly got to talk through most of the day today, very busy, and I started to feel like maybe I can do this. Maybe just knowing that he is doing what he wants, and what he wants is to be at home, will make it easier for me to let go. But then at the end of the day when things weren't so busy, we started talking (just chit-chat, and I told him a little bit about my difficult weekend with H). It reminded me how much (aside from everything else) we just genuinely LIKE and care for eachother. Almost immediately I got the desperate-to-have-him feeling back again. This makes me think, it would be so much easier to let go if he just didn't talk to me, aside from normal office chat. Is that what I should do? I think it could kill me. I'm afraid if I tell him not to talk to me, I'll just cave in. Or I'll start thinking he really doesn't care about me, because he's doing such a fantastic job of maintaining superficial contact. I never want to make myself think he doesn't love me.

There is also the matter of some letters. Over the course of these months, I've written him some letters that he cherishes and has not been able to destroy. He has them hidden at home. No matter what he says, just knowing they are there gives me hope. Hope I can't afford to keep around. Can I demand he give them back to me? It would be like cutting off my own arm - let him keep them and maybe one day he'll read them again and decide he can't live without me, or destroy them and kill the sparks of hope I have left. Such a dilemma! Can someone tell me what to do?

Help help help. I've never been so low!

-basket kate

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