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Affair Recovery - When are you out of the 'dangerzone'?

(22 Posts)
holdtight Sun 11-May-14 10:30:42

My dh had an affair I discovered back in November. It has been a difficult recovery mainly because he didn't break immediate contact with ow, as asked, but we have been to counselling, he has been very kind and loving towards me, lots of discussions about our future/plans, why he did it, wild sex etc.
But I feel like i'm still waiting for the moment that I can say, right, we're fixed, he's back for good. After 6 months, i'm hoping that's a good sign. Most websites say recovery can take 1-2 years. Any personal experience? Can things go wrong even after these milestones? Most of the threads I've read seem to suggest that if things are going to go wrong it will be in the first 6 months.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 11-May-14 10:40:42

To turn it on its head a little, what you're saying is that, six months on, you still don't trust him &, despite the discussions and loving behaviour, you're still not sure that the commitment is there. Of course things can go wrong at any point because there is no time limit on mistrust and he's shown himself to be a convincing liar. You didn't know about the OW the first time, he only reluctantly stopped seeing her, and if there is a next time, he'll cover that up as well

VanderElsken Sun 11-May-14 10:46:42

Hi hold tight,

hope you're okay.

The general rule is 2 years since the last lie til things feel 'normal'. I think you know that it hasn't nearly been that.

I really feel for you because you are clearly still anxious and hurting. I'm afraid there's no magic date or time that will make what he did go away. The best indicator of how much a relationships will recover is the certainty an effort of the cheater after disclosure about making things work, and the level of compassion and empathy they show to the wronged partner.

But I'm afraid some relationships limp on with the cheater too cowardly to leave but still having the affair in a different form and the cheatee nigglingly feeling something's not right. Trust your instincts.

holdtight Sun 11-May-14 10:48:54

Thank you Cog & Vander.
Vander, what do you mean by having the affair in a different form?

BrunoBrookesDinedAlone Sun 11-May-14 10:51:03

Wild sex? Google 'hysterical bonding'.

You seem to see this as some sort of project. I can understand that - you would need, I think, to have some detachment from the reality of an affair and what it really says about your partner to even be able to try and continue, I think.

But the reality is this. It is not like training a dog. Him not breaking contact straight away isn't 'a difficult recovery' - it's your husband not even wanting to make amends and having no real desire to be faithful. That's your biggest issue. It's possible that he hasn't even broken contact now - he's a liar, remember, no amount of 'talking and wild sex' will now change that.

And there will be no moment which says 'right that's it' - as if what he did can be undone, and things will be as they were before. They won't ever be the same, and that's what you are signing up for by staying. You need to understand that, or you'll go mad. He IS a cheat. He IS a liar. In ten years, you will twitch when he's late home. Because you know what he is capable of.

I hope this doesn't sound harsh. But I am concerned that you have your head in the sand here, and are holding on for a 'recovery' of the kind that simply does not exist when one person has an affair. He isn't the person you thought he was, and he never will be again. You don't return to what you had, you learn to live with what you have now. I wouldn't do it, some people can. I wish you all the best.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 11-May-14 10:53:49

They stay in touch. Make a big show of dumping the OW, going to counselling, being extra-loving etc but keep up with the occasional text or phone-call until they think the dust has settled and it's safe to get back to normal....

Two things in your story make that more likely. 1. The affair was discovered and he was caught out rather than volunteered the information and 2. He didn't drop contact with the OW when asked. It's the set-up for a 'temporary pause' rather than wholehearted behavioural change.

BTW... is he expecting you to provide the 'wild sex' he's no longer getting from her? Do you feel any pressure to compete?

VanderElsken Sun 11-May-14 11:00:05

As Cogito said. The term is emotional affair. a couple who loved each other when in an affair find it too hard to say goodbye for good so keep in touch occasionally as friends, claiming this doesn't threaten the primary relationship. But of course it is kept from the cheated on partner as it might cause trouble, so essentially it still has the frisson and intimacy of an affair. Often the recovery of the marriage is discussed and the decision they made. But the contact leads to meeting 'as friends' until there's a night out where they drink too much and then something else happens. Then they have to be in contact to sort out what happened and work out what it 'means' and it's so wrong but also felt so right and blah blah blah a few years have passed with basically the affair running in dramatic tandem alongside the 'recovery' of the marriage (which never seems to fully recover somehow because the DW can't get over her suspicion and jealousy, i wonder why, and the DH complains to his friend/mistress that the DH can't get over her bitterness and resentment and it's all still too confusing but he loves them both…blah blah blah)

I'm afraid this is why a cheater who has behaved as your DH has is such high risk. He lied to you about contact with her and suffered no consequences. Why would he not continue to do that?

VanderElsken Sun 11-May-14 11:02:27

Also bad sign that you discovered it rather than being told. You also don't mention what HE has actually done to repair things. Check out JonesTheSteam recent posts for a list of the least that works.

I would like to point out that I discovered DH's affair rather than him telling me as well though...

holdtight Sun 11-May-14 11:15:51

Yes Vander. I believe the first part of what you're saying happened in the early stages of our recovery and dh had some warped idea that they could be friends and just not tell me.

holdtight Sun 11-May-14 11:16:45

I've read Jones' list. It's useful. It wasn't happening initially but some of it is happening now.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 11-May-14 11:25:47

"dh had some warped idea that they could be friends and just not tell me."

And how do you know that it's not still happening? It's incredibly easy to stay in touch with someone if you really want to. Of the six months since you found out about the affair, how long did it take him to drop contact?

holdtight Sun 11-May-14 11:59:32

Maybe half of the time. She was broken by the affairs end it transpires and he was initially checking if she was okay. She thought he was going to leave me. I have seen (without his knowledge) all of the conversation and it does open with him telling her it's over and he needs to fight for his marriage. Then just occasional check ups him to her, her to him asking how he's doing etc. He knows I know now and has stopped but I have seen messages from her to him STILL, asking him why he's stopped contact, so I know he has.

VanderElsken Sun 11-May-14 12:12:08

Sure, sorry, Jones. It was the nature of HIS actions and their immediacy and consistency I wanted to draw attention to. I hope you don't mind.

What is he doing and not doing on the list, OP?

OP, I think you need to be healthily suspicious of the completeness of the narrative of 'she was broken by the affairs end' etc etc. I'm not saying it's not true but if she thought he was going to leave, he probably gave her good reason to think that. Plus the dynamic of a man protecting/rescuing a vulnerable woman in an affair is very common and that dynamic itself is often a bedrock on which the affair is built, sometimes disingenuously ( a woman might claim he husband is neglectful and abusive for example when this is not really true, but helps them both feel better about the affair). What I'm saying is that I always get worried when men try and frame their affair or continuation of an affair on this 'kindness' towards the OW. It is NEVER kind to string someone along when you have no intention of leaving the marriage. It shows lack of self-awareness and a manipulative narcissism to say so. That is just a way of reframing selfishness to make it less painful to look at yourself.

I'm not saying the above means he is continuing the affair. But it might mean he is still prone to adjusting the truth to show himself in the best light. We know this is true to you because he lied to you about being in N/C with her. Because it didn't fit with his view of himself as a good man who'd ended the affair and because he didn't want the pain (hassle) of you responding to that.

And if he doesn't tackle that and what it means about his own narcissism and lack of respect for you, he isn't the man he should be.

VanderElsken Sun 11-May-14 12:21:07

holdtight, I'm not trying to make you doubt your marriage but you have to understand that the length of time it took him to get on board with what was really necessary is indicative of something. Even if 'some' of the things are happening now, the very piecemeal nature of his effort and certainty shows that either he became severely detached from the relationship with you and/or the seriousness of his attachment to the OW. I'm not saying either of these things to hurt you but I remember at the time you were a bit head in the sand about this.

What is your bottom line, please? What have you decided would mean you couldn't stay?

I don't mind at all Vander. Just wanted to make sure you had the complete picture, that's all.

holdtight Sun 11-May-14 12:29:13

I know Vander, and i'm very appreciative of your advice. He knows he became detached from me, but we did have an otherwise very happy marriage and I would have never suspected a thing so i'm not really sure what I can do that I wasn't already doing.

For whats its worth, he isn't spinning me the vulnerable woman narrative as I know she is a powerful business type woman. What you say makes sense about him acting out of ''kindness" to ow by staying in contact but I don't believe he is stringing her along (though in his earlier messages he refers to himself as trapped sad). But this is all history now, I just want to know how long it will be before things feel normal (I know not the same) again. I want to feel secure and settled.

It is difficult to find my bottom line as I would have said an affair of any kind would be it. Then I would have said continuing contact with ow would be it but it hasn't been the case.

Fairenuff Sun 11-May-14 12:30:05

6 months is a very short time. I don't think I would ever trust someone who had done that to me.

Having proved himself a convincing liar once I would know that he could do it again. Only this time he would be more careful about getting caught. In fact, I think it would make me even less sure of him.

he was initially checking if she was okay

This would have made me steamingly angry. Checking that she is ok? What about you OP, he put her before you again. What a bastard.

And I would hate myself for all that hysterical bonding too sad

VanderElsken Sun 11-May-14 12:42:25

Sorry, I don't mean he is stringing her along in the sense that he is being unclear in his contact with her. but I think you are avoiding the fact that the more telling truth is in the FACT of contact than its content. When you write to someone asking after them, you are essentially making a gesture of care and investment and affection. By just doing this you are asserting a relationship with them that has a past and has depth and even a future. By contacting someone at all after the end of an affair you are essentially playing with their feelings and maintaining an emotional control over them. Subconsciously or not.

I want you to think about your bottom line NOW. Not all the ones you've crashed through previously. If you just accept that you don't have bottom lines you are going to destroy your sense of self. Plenty of people find themselves forgiving stuff they never thought they could. But you need to have a bottom line NOW or you are essentially living in a nightmare where you are open to being tortured continuously and doing nothing about it. Already, his betrayals of you have ruined your sense of self (I can hear your pain at your own perceived weakness). You need to take back some of that strength and independence and rebuild yourself without him. I want you to be your best self and write down your bottom line now.

VanderElsken Sun 11-May-14 12:43:48

Sweetheart, you won't feel secure and settled until he does all of those things that Jones mentions in her list and then probably a couple of years on from that. You're in negative time now. sad

Or unless you go out on your own so he can't hurt you anymore.

VanderElsken Sun 11-May-14 12:47:42

For a sympathetic guide to what you are going through read 'I love you but I don't trust you' by Kirshenbaum

Even though my DH is doing all those things, I am a long way from feeling secure and settled. I still have moments of panic and anger and upset.

When I think logically and rationally and realise how much DH's behaviour has changed since January, I do feel more settled then. Gradually there are more good days than bad days.

It all takes time. I have that 6 months / 2 years in my head all the time.

It takes as long as it takes, I guess...

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