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rebuilding with DH after affair

(127 Posts)
HollieHelen Thu 15-Aug-13 13:05:36

DH and I are going through some really tough times after I (stupidly and unforgivably) got involved with high-school sweetheart from 18 years ago.
This is now all over, OM and I are not in touch any more, DH and I have talked everything through. I know he is hurting badly, but I am struggling as to how to acknowledge his hurt on a daily basis whilst also trying to keep up a semblance of normality for DC.
Also, I am really struggling reconnecting with DH physically. Bottom line, I am not attracted to him. I was before I allowed myself to look elsewhere so I know I need to rediscover that for his sake but not sure how??
DH wants us to have more couple time and for everything not to revolve around DC. I want this too and we are going to move house to be closer to family for more help with this, but in the short term what can I do – do at home date nights work?!

HH xx

JacqueslePeacock Thu 15-Aug-13 13:06:52

Would you consider some professional help? Couples counselling?

What made you look elsewhere in the first place?
Do you work? Or are you the quintessential stay at home mum yearning for excitement? Are you bored? Do you lack self esteem? Do you have any hobbies? Why is your life purely revolving around the kids?

HollieHelen Thu 15-Aug-13 13:11:38

Yes we would consider counselling - I have done some online by myself but childcare and work make couple's counselling more difficult to arrange.
I do work part-time but I was definitely feeling bored and trapped. I do have hobbies, go to the gym, run, swim, read ... I don't really know about my self-esteem, it was low during the affair as I felt so guilty constantly about DH and the kids!!

HollieHelen Thu 15-Aug-13 14:00:31

I have said to DH that there are personal issues I need to work through now things are over with OM, and I really do intend to do that - I've applied for a new job and am looking at houses etc.
But I feel like I need to try and show him more obviously that things can improve between us iykwim??

HH x

Waferthinmint Thu 15-Aug-13 14:04:02

Moving house is very stressful in itself. Are you sure it is the right thing at the moment.

Re counselling - I found email contact with a counsellor very helpful and fitted in time wise (not for a relationship issue - more life coaching style)

HollieHelen Thu 15-Aug-13 14:36:10

I have been emailing a counsellor as like you say it fits in with work and family etc.
I know moving house is stressful but I really feel like we need the change and being closer to family would be helpful.

ofmiceandmen Thu 15-Aug-13 14:51:54

I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark- it ended not because you suddenly realised what you could lose, but either because he moved or circumstances made it end (discovery etc).

I don't think you are currently able to empathise with your DH and the comparison is still there with the OM. you almost need closure.

Infidelity no matter the course is really about selfishness, and I don't say this to criticise, but instead to say you are currently still talking more about yourself than your DH.
Re-read your post - the word 'I' appears more than any other. Basically you are still in the affair cycle. you're still not giving your DH 100% of you, compassion, love etc.

You've just moved it on into an emotional affair with someone that's not there any more.

HollieHelen Thu 15-Aug-13 14:53:39

A lot of what you say is probably true but if that's the case how do I try and change things and empathise more with DH?

ageofgrandillusion Thu 15-Aug-13 14:56:39

If the OM came back and offered to start a new life with you and the kids, what would you do OP?

HollieHelen Thu 15-Aug-13 14:59:32

(a) I've made a choice to be with DH and kids as I believe that's what's best for them. (b) I would not believe him as the way he acted at the end of the affair made me realise what a liar he is (this should have been obvious I know).

ofmiceandmen Thu 15-Aug-13 15:01:20

Practical solutions -

You will need to get DC away with friends or family.
For most couples DC are first and the DP come second (wrong IMHO), currently your DH is 3rd or 4th after you and that's a pretty far off place to be.

You kind of just need to have fun, and be each others number ones. You'll be surprised how lovable and fun a person he still is once he removes the shackles.

Your currently dancing Dantes dance - you feel off, he feels your mood, he feels off, you feel more off because he feels off. - downward spiral.

Try this also- try repeat the jokes and sexual things you did with OM. I know it sounds wrong - but actually they were the best of you and DH needs to experience the best of you too. then you will enjoy being you again around DH.

MexicanHat Thu 15-Aug-13 15:45:13

OP, how does the thought of being physcial/having sexual contact with your H make you feel? I think that once these feelings have gone it's very hard to get them back. It was the beginning of the end for me.

MexicanHat Thu 15-Aug-13 15:46:45

*physical!!

HollieHelen Thu 15-Aug-13 15:49:17

DH is lovely and knows me really well and we know how each other works, so the contact is good ...
I am still comparing things to OM which I know needs to stop.
I know I am letting DH down and there has to be away to inject some of the excitement / passion there was with OM back into our marriage??

ofmiceandmen Thu 15-Aug-13 16:20:05

there has to be away to inject some of the excitement / passion there was with OM back into our marriage??

Don't over think it. Just do it!

As per my suggestion before - hence forth DH is the OM.

Trust me... if you give as much to your DH as you did to OM (sexually and viewing him without the years and upsets and frustrations that you have attached to him) you will both reap the rewards.

ofmiceandmen Thu 15-Aug-13 16:22:14

BUT and this is important -

you have to emotionally let go of this OM.

You need closure. because you're still seeing that image of the him you wanted him to be in your head (subconscious or otherwise).

Don't ask your DH to compete against a ghost - even OM didn't live up to it.

ofmiceandmen Thu 15-Aug-13 16:40:02

There's something really odd about people who don't actually care about you. - they make great lovers.

For them it's all about the climax, the joy and raw passion of sex. There is no worrying if they hurt your or offend you, they covert you without thinking about school fees, care what you eat tomorrow or anything.

This makes them liberated experimental animals. and you know what - it's great! but it seldom lasts forever. They are often a-holes

YOU need to get over the affair oddly- you feel less attractive and inadequate- maybe you feel used. whatever - don't make DH have to do a dance to make up for your feeling hurt.

Give the person that stood by you, changed nappies with you and was with you through thick and then - the best of you.
(NB- I am not asking you to enslave yourself for/to him) but just show him you. give the guy a chance to experience this excited person (yes every time you mention OM there is a sense of excitement whereas with DH it's depressive).

Ramble over

ownbrand Thu 15-Aug-13 19:04:10

Have you been completeley honest with your Dh about the details of the affair and why it happened ?

I agree with previous poster who says its still about you , and i dont mean that unkindly . I have had terrible traumas and bereavements in my life and i can honestly say that nothing compares to the pain caused by infidelity .

You can not apologise enough in my opinion . It sounds like your Dh is coming up with ways for you to reconnect . Really this is your job , sureley it is possible to get a babysitter ?

You can not apologize enough in my opinion and this should be heartfelt . Have you read what a betrayed spouse needs in order to recover ? You have not mentioned anywhere in your post how sorry you are or how gratefull you are that your Dh has given you another chance .

Your Dh will be very vulnerable right now and depending on when he discovered this could well be in a state of shock . Does he talk to you openly about his pain ?

HollieHelen Mon 02-Sep-13 09:51:58

Yes, DH has opened up a lot recently about the pain he's feeling, and has shown how hurt he is. We have had some tearful sleepless nights. I am trying to reassure him and I do keep apologising but I somehow feel like the apologies remind him of what happened - still seeking ways to show him how sorry I am on a day-to-day basis but without raking up the past??

HH xx

HollieHelen Mon 02-Sep-13 13:17:55

ownbrand - I am really, really sorry, and very grateful to DH for being so lovely through all of this. I know I deserve a lot more grief than he's giving me - he has shown himself to be a really amazing person.
I have got him gifts recently, leave him little notes, just try and remind him on a daily basis how much he means to me. I know he is still hurting a lot sad
Maybe I am trying to rush his healing process??

str8tothepoint Mon 02-Sep-13 16:31:56

if your not attracted to him then why put him and yourself through hard therapy sessions when you don't want him no more??? why not just let him go and find someone that deserves him and finds him attractive, sorry to be blunt but give up, he's never going to be healed

I hope you don't mind if I am brutally frank, but I don't think you are any way near ready to be trying to rebuild your relationship with your DH. He deserves so much more than a wife who is emotionally elsewhere, doesn't fancy him, and who is going through the motions for what reason? To keep the status quo? Because OM didn't live up to her expectations? Because that is how it is coming across.

If you want to know how your DH is feeling about this, I will tell you. It is a hell of a lot more than hurt. It will be the first thing he thinks about when he wakes up, and the last before he falls asleep. Every hour of every day some little thing will remind him. Every time he looks at you he will remember how much he loved you, how he pledged his life to you, how you are the mother of his children, but inside he will still feel dead. Because that is what affairs do... they kill the spark that makes a relationship special, makes you the one rather that just A.N.Other girlfriend.

If you want your relationship to have a future you have to get some of that back. You'll never get the whole package... that is gone forever. He'll always hold a little part of himself in reserve, but there is hope if the running comes from you.

My suggestion is go away and work on yourself. Let go of whatever it is about OM you are in thrall to. If you can't do that, walk away now and leave your DH alone to rebuild his life with someone who does love him, completely. If you can, show him. Do everything you possibly can to make things right for him. Talk to him, answer all his questions, let him grieve, and be there for him when he has doubts and bad days. Accept that you need to change, you are the problem, and he needs time. I am a year on, my DH has been to the ends of the earth and back to show me he is sorry, and committed to me, but despite the fact our marriage is the best it has ever been and I am happy, I still have bad days.

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 09:55:53

There's no way I am walking away from DH! I am fully commited to him and DC at this point, and am really making an effort to be there for him - I'm just struggling to do enough - I just feel like whatever I do will never be enough sad
He has proved himself to be a wonderful person through this and I want to be with him.
I completely accept that I am the problem and I need to change, but I also know I should be focussing on him, rather than myself, right now.

HH xx

Throwingthetowel Wed 04-Sep-13 10:23:59

I'd say until you've worked on yourself you are no good at all to your DH

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 13:04:01

I am getting counselling, but the reality is we are staying together and we have to keep up some kind of homelife going for DC ... Feel like it would be very selfish to demand time to myself to sort my head out at this stage when DH is the one who needs the care and attention.

Hollie I think you are missing my point (which was admittedly very unclear). My point is actually that it is not about you staying with your DH, it's about him staying with you. I think that's what partners who have affairs don't always understand. Once the relief that someone has given up the affair is over, all kinds of emotions hit you. Suddenly having them back in your life is an awful lot harder than you realised. Read the other threads on affairs on here. Many people take back cheating partners, only to leave them a year or so down the line because they just can't get past it.

I'm currently happy, my marriage feels strong and unbreakable BUT if I had even an inkling that my DH didn't fancy me, and was in thrall to someone else I'd leave him straight away.

Your DH will know if you aren't 100% emotionally there for him, and it will be eating away at him. You have to sort your head out first before you can sort out his.

I say all this kindly, anyone can see you are sorry and want to undo the hurt. It isn't easy to mend the kind of hurt you inflicted.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 13:37:40

worsester makes a very good point. The fact is that it is so difficult to rebuild and manage after an affair (and i've been on both sides) that any doubt, loss of attraction, deceit or ambivalence will further undermine the tiny shaky bit of faith left in the cheating partner. The adrenaline of fighting for your marriage and relief that everything doesn't have to change lasts at most a year, as said above. After that, you are left with whatever quality of relationship you had before, halved because of the betrayal, unless you take right now as the opportunity to be whole hearted towards the marriage and can feel you are truly completely lucky to get another shot. if your body can't find full will, you won't find the way, and you're kinder to walk away.

Ask yourself this: How did you give yourself permission to have an affair? How will you address that ? Whether it's endemic selfishness, compartmentalising, a belief that you're too good for DH, chronic insecurity? HOw are are you actually going to go about changing that and do you realise it'll be on your own, not for him to do.

What would you do if OM turned up tomorrow saying he loved you and wanted to be with you? What if someone else did?

Have you told DH the truth?

If you are not prepared to make any sexual effort towards someone you've betrayed and destroyed the self-esteem of by cheating, you are possibly too narcissistic to give what it takes.

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 13:45:03

I do feel lucky to have another shot - DH has been an angel through all of this and I feel very lucky to be with him.
I hope to deal with my issues through counselling. I definitely don't feel I am too good for DH - far from it - if anything not good enough / the wife he deserves. I know I have to sort my issues out on my own, but DH has said I need to talk to him about everything from now on as he doesn't want me to hide anything anymore, but I find this hard as it's like asking for sympathy from someone I hurt terribly, which feels selfish and wrong.
OM would never turn up, and if he did I'd tell him my decision was made and I am staying with DH and DC.
I am totally prepared to make sexual effort and we have slept together more times recently than in a long while ... I struggle sometimes to enjoy him touching me due to a medical problem of soreness around vagina but have seen GP and am taking steps to deal with this.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 14:02:09

That's good HH sorry to you hear about your condition.

I'm going to say something a little bit rough now. but I say it from a place of knowing about it from my own experience so please don't think me awfully judgemental. I am, as well, judging myself.

I think you a respect problem for your DH. I think this is why sex is a struggle (often women find it difficult to be sexually attracted to men they don't respect) and also possibly why you had an affair. The reason I'm raising this is because if you don't address THAT, I think you're liable to do it again.

Here's why I think that. You refer to him with terms like 'angel', overly pure and almost implying a child-like naivete and perfection that's not manly and certainly not realistic. It's the sort of term we use for someone who's 'behaved well' but is on the same level as us in some way (either up or down). You think you are not 'the wife he deserves', this is the language of someone with one foot out the door. You're already envisaging the other wife, the next one who can take over and salve your guilt for leaving. It's not YOU. It's not YOU being better and surer and kinder. The wife he deserves is YOU if you want to be.

He has told you, literally told you, what he wants. He wants full disclosure from you, about what you are doing and what you are feeling and this is not an unreasonable ask, considering. You immediately discount that. Why? Because you feel very guilty, apparently. But look closer. I have no doubt you feel profoundly guilty, but that's not why. If the truth is that you would turn away OM, or future lovers, then whatever emotional rollercoaster you are going through would be difficult but helpful for your husband to hear. And difficult for you to admit. So you are running away from your own discomfort. Apparently for 'generous' reasons, you are finding a way to AGAIN hide things from your husband, and AGAIN ignore his wishes. But you are phrasing it as being philanthropic. This is very dangerous and narcissistic. When women exhibit narcissistic traits they do it differently from men. Because women are raised to be always thinking of others and subtly masochistic, this is where the lies we tell ourselves get spun, what we hide behind. But this pretense of masochism is very very narcissistic. It focuses again on you, not him really. When you talk about going to him to share and for support you worry That it makes YOU selfish, that it makes YOU wrong. Who cares? He has been shut out of you life for ages and just wants to share and support. Do what he asks. If you really feel guilty, do what he bloody asks. Shut up about you.
To despise oneself, you need to have a great deal of respect for the part that despises.

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 14:13:34

A lot of this rings very true (though hard to read!). It's difficult though as how can I feel genuinely guilty without being masochistic?? ...
I think you're right that I need to talk to DH more and not bottle things up all over again as that's what led to the problems previously.
I'm not totally sure the part about not respecting DH is 100% right. I have an immense amount of respect for him, for the stand he's taken and the decisions he's made. I feel nothing but disgust for myself and OM right now.
There definitely are issues about sexual attraction that I need to address ... I know DH needs me to show that I am attracted to him so this is something that I need to work on.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 14:30:04

You can feel guilty, and it's a testament that you do, you're not a sociopath! But guilt, unlike shame, is an emotion that is actually about other people. So if you think about it, guilt says 'I really hurt and wronged someone else, I feel bad about it and I don't like that about myself'. It's a noble, corrective emotion. But it doesn't make sense that as a result of guilt we should punish ourselves, does it, really? If you genuinely feel guilt, a sadness and pain at having hurt SOMEONE ELSE, that is easily addressed. 1. Don't do it again. 2. Be mindful of what allows you to do that and try and change it. 3. Try and help and repair the damage to the person you have wronged and apologise to them.

There's no masochism there.

Oh and also, no contact with OM at all, that's a given right?

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 14:40:46

No, there's no contact. The last I heard from him was a month ago, which was 'Things are really hard for me. Please don't e-mail me again.' This was in response to an e-mail I sent asking how he was as his wife threw him out after what happened. I have deleted his contact from my phone, deleted all messages etc.
I am determined about #1., am working on #2. ... it's the repairing the damage that I am struggling with at the moment. I have apologised to DH and continue to do so.

ownbrand Wed 04-Sep-13 14:43:18

HH nearly two years ago i was on the receiving end of this , and still theres rareley an hour in a day when i dont think about it . There are constant bad dreams and mind movies that replay the scene over and over again .

All cheaters have a script , its fairly typical , but so do the betrayed . I do not worry about it happening again because im gone if it does , i do not check up on him and i do not monitor his movements . It is not me that is left with a crippling fear of being left or cheated on , its him . I understand this is fairly typical and while my P was having counselling and reading about infidelity he learned that there can be a high risk of a revenge affair , or of the cheated on simply ending things further down the line after all the drama has died down.

I think you need to say sorry every day , it wont drag things up because hes already thinking about it . You also do need to talk to him openly and honestly , if you can do this it will go a long way to rebuilding trust . If you dont talk , or apologize enough you may find your H mentioning it less , or asking less questions . This doesnt mean hes ok with it , but could signal hes giving up with it .

The sexual attraction thing is important . Have you talked honestly with him about this ? Have you ever been attracted to him ? What do you need to be attracted to him again ?

Have you bought any of the books for you both about affairs ? Your H would probably really apreciate that .

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 14:50:05

Thank you, that's really helpful. I know I do need to be more open and honest with DH. It's difficult when it comes to sexual attraction. I have definitely been very attracted to him in the past ... I'm not sure what I need to be attracted to him again.
I think we should look at marriage counselling to sort some of the issues out. So far I have only done Relate online relationship counselling on my own as easier for childcare etc. I will discuss this with DH.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 14:54:03

Give yourself a break, if this is recent it's going to take weeks for 'normal' feelings to come back. The most important element of this is to completely excise the OM from your life.

If I were you I would volunteers complete openness with phone and passwords etc and arrange a weekly time to talk about it all or about anything that isn't home/work/kids so you can share and break down these compartmentalising walls you have. Why are they there? Have they been there in other relationships or just with him? When did they start? Why do you lie to him, when you have? What do you fear if he knew 'the truth'? These are all important questions to ask.

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 15:00:39

I showed DH my phone last week after he woke me up at 5:30am really distressed / crying. I showed him there was no trace of OM in contacts / messages etc. My phone has no passwords and I've told him he can check it but he says he doesn't want to and just hates my phone. I've offered not to use it and leave it at home when we go out also.
I have been with DH from age 20 so few previous relationships ...

ImperialBlether Wed 04-Sep-13 16:04:29

Hi Hollie, I've just read your previous thread where you decided to end it with the OM. What made you decide to tell your husband? Did he find out? I was hoping you'd manage not to tell him - it's the most hurtful thing and I knew your husband would be devastated.

I think you've made the right decision in terms of the OM and hope you and your husband find peace within your marriage.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 16:09:42

Oh, HH, you must have had a rough old time of it. You know and feel what you've done is wrong. Eventually, you will be able to forgive yourself.

I expect part of the reason for the affair is you have only been with DH. Often we test our relationship against others to make sure we haven't missed out on something or because we lack adequate comparison.

Obviously your partner is deeply wounded. I'd suggest reassuring him verbally and physically, as you've suggested.

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 16:10:45

I didn't decide to tell him - we went away on holiday and things were obviously not good between us and we had a long conversation the first night during which he asked me point blank if there was someone else. I felt I had to be honest then so admitted about OM. He was devastated and I wish it hadn't happened but at that point lying didn't seem fair to DH.
OM was totally freaked out by me telling DH so we cut contact at that point.
About a week after that OM got back in touch to say his wife had found his phone and chucked him out. We've not been in touch since.

LadyMedea Wed 04-Sep-13 16:19:00

No contact and total disclosure is minimum. - does your DH know everything that happened?

Get hold of 'Not just friends' its such a detailed book I lived in it after DH had an affair. www.amazon.co.uk/Not-Just-Friends-Rebuilding-Recovering/dp/0743225503

Also the surviving infidelity forum online has lots of good resources for both sides of the experience - www.survivinginfidelity.com/

As other posters have said the place to do the work right now is yourself - why were you vulnerable to an affair? What can you do to never be vulnerable again? Then work on where the vulnerabilities in your relationship are...

noddyholder Wed 04-Sep-13 16:19:12

You can't just stay with him though because it is best for the kids as they grow up and move on. I agree you don't seem ready for moving on with your dh as you haven't let go of the affair yet. Did you fancy your dh before you met the OM?

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 16:19:18

Well done you for being brave enough to say. You need to answer his questions honestly now. For someone used to being secretive this is going to feel uncomfortable and even wrong. But if you lie to him you are going to be maintaining the reality that caused the affair and further disenfranchising him.

Are you being completely honest about your motivations here? Did you tell him in that moment because 'it wasn't fair to DH'? Or because you were half expecting a future with OM? Or because you couldn't cope with the subterfuge anymore? Or because you wanted to leave but wanted him to do it?

The fact that OM was freaked out by you telling speaks volumes. I would take that fact about his wife having found his phone and chucked him out with a huge huge lorry full of salt. Coincedence it happened just after you'd revealed all and broken open the bubble. The normal psychological response would be to seek your support and help if he was made homeless and exposed. What's more believable is he didn't want you DH telling his wife and so he made the decision the affair wasn't worth it and to cut you out of his life, but telling you a story that placed him as equally wronged and broken and dealing with consequence as you. What a coward.

ImperialBlether Wed 04-Sep-13 16:20:42

I've been on the other side to your DH and I don't think full disclosure is all it's cracked up to be.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 16:23:00

I agree about full disclosure. What I advised is to answer whatever questions he asks honestly, rather than go through every detail and moment. Even in their pain, the betrayed often ask what is important to them and to accept there are some things they either won't know or don't want to know. Let him decide what he wants.

ImperialBlether Wed 04-Sep-13 16:28:15

Yes, I think honesty is important, particularly once you know something has happened.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 16:31:36

If you lie to him when he asks, you are not protecting him. You are protecting yourself. And carrying on the same situation in miniature as before. I understand you feel incredibly exposed and vulnerable right now. You had two men after you. now you barely have one. But the relationship can be saved if it's made BETTER than before. And that means revealing parts of yourself you hid before, being brave enough to respect him genuinely, by giving him what he actually WANTS, rather than what you feel would be best for him.

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 16:41:04

DH isn't asking any questions and doesn't want to talk about what happened at all, just about how he feels - incredibly hurt - and how we can move on.
I'm finding it hard to show him just how sorry I am but I think verbal and physical reassurance was mentioned earlier and I need to try harder on that and showing more love and how I am thinking about how we can plan for the future.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 16:50:03

That's good about the future. Be prepared that he is in shock, and will probably want to know more as time passes. Resist the urge to lie when he does. He'll be running on adrenaline. There will be a big dip into depression after a few months.

That sort of reaction is common among men. He may struggle emotionally because he's not got an outlet for expressing the pain or saying what he fears. Men often feel they can't talk to anyone about it because it makes them weak and cuckolded. YOu need to talk to him about it and bring it up (in the right way) sometimes to show you get it and his pain. State how lucky you are and how much you value his forgiveness. Make a plan for something really bonding you can do together. Some sort of holiday that's very activity based and exciting or some sort of shared work project. Write love letters.

'Try harder?' 'Showing more love?' Forget the affair, let's say you're forgiven it totally, imagine all the guilt is lifted. Just for a moment, OP, we know your DH is a lovely, amazing man but putting that and the guilt aside..... Do you actually want to be with him?

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 17:01:24

Yes, I really do. Everything that's happened has shown me just how much. He's the man I can see myself growing old with and the most amazing dad to our DC.
I am loving to him - maybe my messages don't convey this. I just feel like whatever I do will never be enough to make up for what happened.
We've organised to go away for 2 nights for our wedding anniversary in a few weeks. We've only done this twice since DC were born (6 years). We've both been guilty of focusing on the kids not us as a couple but obviously my way of dealing with this was totally negative.
We also want to move to be closer to family and I'm putting a lot of energy into that too.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 17:12:03

Okay, great. Well then actually this is all really positive. Think about it. He wants to focus on the future. You actually want to be with him in that future and you're prepared to do the most important thing which is not to betray him again, and to reassure and support him along the way.

This talk of 'making up' for the affair is of course appropriate but actually a slightly masochistic red herring. Yes you wronged, but by dealing with the consequences you will be repairing and making up (the jealousy and paranoia he'll feel, the insecurity, the awkwardness and judgement).

If you really are worried about ever being able to 'make up for it', stop. That's a slightly self-centred approach. Think about what he's told you he wants. Can you do that? Okay then, that's your agenda. Stop wringing your hands. Unless the REAL issue is something else then you're kind of laughing. Start your life.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 17:25:51

Practically speaking here's what you do:

Accept it will take a long time to get over. He will have meltdowns and crying fits and angry rages for a couple of years even maybe. When these happen be honest, be fair and never threaten him with leaving or make him feel insecure. Love him and wait for it to pass.

Make the effort sexually and with your appearance (I know I sound really old fashioned but I just mean you can't withdraw from him and expect it not to cement his smashed confidence).

Do not ever contact the OM. If he contacts you, show it to your DH and express that you will not be in touch with him again.

Don't engage with flirtatious or infidelitous behaviour with anyone else that you know would hurt him.

Try not to get caught in a whirlwind of weird reciprocal jealousy.

Make time for each other. Show him your best self that you had previously only shown your lover.

Be on his side.

try not to blame him.

Do not become so guilty and apologetic that you cannot engage in an argument with him about something else.

Share yourself fully with him. Don't hoard secrets.

Look at other examples of compartmentalising and selfish behaviour you have and challenge it.

Ubud Fri 06-Sep-13 01:06:30

OP, if your OM had of reacted differently when you told DH i.e. if he had left his wife and come to get you, would you have left your DH and kids for him? I am really interested to know the answer to this.

OrmirianResurgam Fri 06-Sep-13 08:43:01

"I'm currently happy, my marriage feels strong and unbreakable BUT if I had even an inkling that my DH didn't fancy me, and was in thrall to someone else I'd leave him straight away."

Yep. Who wants to be the second choice. H couldn't keep his hands off me after dday - he was desperate for close physical contact with me. He constantly reassures me that he finds me attractive. BUT it still took me 6 months to feel sure that I was first in his head, he wasn't filled with regret at losing OW, I wasn't the fallback option. That kills long-term reconciliation stone dead.

HollieHelen Mon 09-Sep-13 10:01:31

Ubud: to be perfectly honest I think I would have been tempted but I could never have left the kids. I see us as a family, a package that can't be portioned off. So I would have had to say no.
In any case I think I always knew deep down that OM would never really contemplate leaving his wife.

DH is not second choice ... I am really working to try and reassure him of this at the moment but like you say I think it will take a long time for it to be convincing after what I did sad

Charbon Mon 09-Sep-13 11:01:34

Hollie I was on your other thread and I wonder whether re-reading that might be helpful to you right now?

You see, I don't think you're being honest with yourself here. Which means you're not being honest with your husband either.

One of the biggest unresolved issues for someone after an affair is why the infidelitous partner chose to stay in the marriage. It's much easier to accept an assurance of being first choice if the affair ended before disclosure, the choice was not one that was forced by the affair partner's agenda and if the person's actions post-discovery are congruent with the words spoken.

This affair ended only after disclosure. You acknowledged before that you were far more invested in the relationship than the OM and knew he would never leave his wife and despite the constant references to not being able to leave the children and your husband not being second choice, there is a strong sense that if these two relationships had co-existed without ties that bind on your side, you would have chosen the OM over your husband.

Not being able to leave the children and regarding you all as a whole unit will be largely irrelevant to your husband. Because he will realise that your choice was self-protective and not motivated by greater love and desire for him, which at the moment is probably all that concerns him.

I'd really try to be searingly honest with yourself first. Your choice was forced to an extent by the OM's ambivalence and greater attachment to his marriage. If you'd had no children and he'd been keener, what choice would you have really made?

This isn't as pessimistic as it sounds. In this type of affair when the marriage was fundamentally strong and arose out of your poor coping mechanisms with tedium ( as opposed to unhappiness) it is very common to have illusory feelings that what was merely an exciting diversion was the Real Deal. We talked on your other thread about how women especially are socialised to reframe lust as love - and new sexual partners, as soulmates. It's also especially common in affairs like this to confuse an addiction to the experience itself, with an addiction to the person himself.

As times goes on and the addiction to the affair lessens, I wouldn't be surprised if you looked back and found yourself amazed that you once thought the OM was a better prize. Distance brings that sort of objectivity and once the scales fall from your eyes, you might see this affair and your husband in a different light. It's at that point when the real choice gets made in a way. A real choice is one that's made when we can objectively assess the qualities and downsides of the options. You were disabled from doing so at the height of the affair and in the initial aftermath too. Your husband's pain and willingness to forgive might also be compromising your objectivity right now.

I'd suggest having a think about this and to get into the habit of stopping yourself when you find yourself saying what you think is the 'right' answer.

HollieHelen Mon 09-Sep-13 11:08:40

Lots to think about here ...
The scales have already fallen from my eyes to some extent. When I think about how OM and I colluded in allowing each other to be desperately selfish and uncaring, whilst persuading ourselves it was out of love for each other, I feel really guilty and horrified.
DH is showing me every day what love really is ...

tessa6 Mon 09-Sep-13 11:21:49

I agree with charbon here, HH. I've been really impressed by your articulacy and awareness on this thread but I think you're smart, very smart and so you understand the moral horror of what you've done and what's expected of you. You know what's the right answer and what you feel on some level, but not at your base. I think you're trying to answer and frame your feelings in a way to rationalise the situation you've left yourself in. I think you want to want things, rather than actually simply, in your gut, want them.

You might not be ready to be completely and utterly honest with yourself. 'Knowing' your DH is a better man that OM in your head is not the same as 'knowing' emotionally, having learnt it properly through experience and throughout your being.

I think you will get there but I wonder if you posted in order to ask how you could be made to feel something you don't feel, instead of for practical advice.

You are confused because you know that your OM would never have left his wife. You know he cared for you less than your DH and less than you deserve. You know you DH is a good man, who you love. And you know the best thing for your children and your family is you making it work. So with all these things, how come you don't feel perfectly motivated and happy?

It's because it was never about those sorts of things.

You are hungry for something, you have a sad, broken yearning in you, like many of us do. On some level you can't believe your life turned out like this. You're ashamed for feeling that because so many people have worse lives than you and you are so lucky and yada yada yada. But you have it and there you go. For a brief time, that hole got filled and something got reignited and loads of other mismatching metaphors. And because it happened with OM, you associate it with him. falling in love or lust is insanely powerful and the cheapest but most expensive way to feel all that.

Perhaps you need to look at who you were with him, what happened. What's the version of yourself you were running towards, the bit that got lost as wife and mother and colleague? You can have an adventure you know. You can break rules or start again or be creative or look beautiful or be spectacular and move towards a better, more truthful, fuller version of your self that is nothing to do with the OM. That is greater than him. You don't need to do it with for or through a man. What is it really, really, you were searching for or trying to reclaim when you were with him? Wealth? Glamour? Attraction? Fun? Power? They are all available to you. And focusing purely on how you can heal your marriage might actually be taking you away from that thing you need to nurture. If you spend all your time whipping yourself and apologising and mending, but what you were really always searching for, say, was a sense of fun in yourself, then of course you're going to feel like it's not 'working'. But that's not your DH failing, it's you, by not being honest with yourself. You have to repair it, sure, but you also do that by becoming and searching for what you need in your life, with him and outside of him, so you don't just take the easy route of finding it in encounters with some philandering coward. (ps was it you who he texted to say his wife had found his phone after you admitted? that really really is likely to be bollocks, OP. I'd bet she never knew anything and he just wanted to hide from any consequences and keep his marriage unblemished).

Charbon Mon 09-Sep-13 11:28:07

I can see that, but again it's about being honest with yourself about whether your husband's love for you is enough for you to fall back in love with him.

You might instinctively say that your husband is the better person but is he the best person for you? It might help to think in terms of these questions: What do you need to know and change about yourself in order to be the person you want to be and the partner your husband needs? Then ask the same question about what your husband needs to know and change about himself.

To bring this to life, you might find after some soul-searching that you are easily bored and have a tendency to seek distractions and escapes in life, which in turn lead to very selfish behaviour. This revelation might help you to see your life in the round a bit more, choosing healthier distractions such as new supportive friendships, a better career, giving something back via volunteering, seeking a new challenge that will validate you far more than another man's sexual attraction.

Your husband might reflect that he enabled your selfishness and also had some complacency about you. I recall he was very supportive of you meeting up with the OM when it was presented as a 'catching up with an old schoolfriend' relationship. I wonder whether that complacency irked you? There is always a balance to be struck between complacency and sexual jealousy.

You need to get to know yourself a bit better I think Hollie. And then take the risk of showing those parts of yourself to your husband that you've been less willing to admit.

HollieHelen Mon 09-Sep-13 11:40:48

tessa6 - again, so, so much to process here - I'll be re-reading that message many times!
Yes, you're right, I know I need to focus on healing the part of myself that allowed me to get caught up with the OM, separately to healing things with DH.
I was feeling bored and unfulfilled, but the relationship with the OM wasn't / isn't the only thing I have tried to deal with that. In the last year I have joined a gym, lost weight, taken up running, begun volunteering in a local school, applied for a new job (interview is tomorrow!!), and planning to move house also ...
One of the things I value the most about DH is that he is so supportive of this - like ferrying me around to running events etc - whereas I know OM was way too selfish to do any of this.
I feel very naive also as until you pointed it out, I had never even questioned whether OM's story of his wife finding his phone etc was true ... Now I'm thinking it could well have been his get-out strategy.

charbon - yes, all the events of the past few months have made me do a lot of soul-searching and I don't like what I see, but I think I have a choice about whether to find creative or destructive ways of dealing with things like boredom etc.
Clearly, the stuff with OM was destructive. On some level I'm now thinking I was wanting to punish him for cheating on my way back when, by showing him I could make him cheat now. This is so manipulative I don't even want to believe I could think like that, but I know it's there somewhere ...
I am trying to channel the feelings of boredom and so on into more creative things like volunteering, running etc. Running has begun to provide a real validation.
Also, after what happened with OM I have discussed my marriage with some old friends who I realised I'd not been honest with for years, and have reconnected with them, which is great.

HH xx

tessa6 Mon 09-Sep-13 11:46:42

This is all true, HH. Scales don't fall from eyes, 'to some extent'. That's not really scales falling from eyes then. Being amazed and impressed by someone isn't the same as wanting to be with them. You don't have to go from one extreme totally to the other. You might want to spend some time really thinking hard about what IS not good in your dynamic with DH, with your life. That's not a further betrayal. It's really necessary and important.

HollieHelen Mon 09-Sep-13 11:52:12

Am totally thinking about this ... what's not good with dynamic with DH is (a) we'd completely got stuck in a rut of routine, kids, communicating on the surface but fundamentally ignoring each other. (b) I need change quite often, and DH fears change. We are discussing this and I know from past experience that when we get the momentum going he can embrace things changing.
He does know me well, but also I have evolved from the person I was when we first met, and so has he, and we need to get to know each other again really.

You're right about scales falling from eyes - I was aware of the horror all along but chose to ignore it while things were so exciting etc. I am facing up to it now though.

tessa6 Mon 09-Sep-13 12:01:09

Be kind and compassionate to yourself, OP, as you would to a friend who came to you for help and confession. Lots of people have affairs when they have a perceived shift in desirability; loss of weight, promotion, fame. Sometimes it's just because more people are available to them and they can find someone 'better' for them, and sometimes it's to try and reacclimatize to this new identity where they are desired more and therefore dealing with situations they have never had to before (like turning down advances with grace) and sometimes it's to make up for a battered self-esteem from before the transformation. Look at these factors, it may all be about you outside your marriage, not your DH as such.

HollieHelen Mon 09-Sep-13 12:11:19

Hmmm ... not sure about this. Maybe wanting a change in identity as I didn't just want to be 'mum' (I know this is a cliche), though that's strange in a way as I love being mum to DC, but maybe feeling I needed more?
OM definitely not 'better', if anything less physically attractive than DH and way more selfish and with other faults I don't respect e.g. drinking too much.
DH actually seems to find me more attractive after everything that's happened which tbh I have to say I find perverse. It's almost like I deserve to be loved less, not more!!

tessa6 Mon 09-Sep-13 12:20:05

Forget about what you deserve, that's his competitive instinct kicking in. Be prepared for a crash as that adrenaline wears off in the course of the year. Your DH should be made aware, somehow, that if he makes it too easy for you you're prone to losing interest. I have seen SO many relationships where I've wanted to take the man aside and say, if you just left a little more space, she would work to fill it. I know you 'respect' your DH, but again, I'd ask you to look at the difference between knowing that cerebrally in your head, and actually knowing it in your body and actions and emotional truth. By not making you question if you will actually lose him, your DH could be signing his own death warrant. Really try and imagine your life without him and how much you take him for granted.

It's good and makes things much easier that you can judge OM as ostensibly less attractive than DH.

HollieHelen Mon 09-Sep-13 12:33:59

I know have been / am guilty of taking DH for granted. I really do value him and everything that's happened has shown me how different he is from OM (first relationship, scarred me emotionally when he cheated, basically a coward), and my dad (left my mum when I was 17, also basically a coward).
I know there's a difference between respecting him in theory and in practice. It's difficult to bridge the gap but I am trying. For instance, I really respect how hard he works, and during the summer holidays I went into work with him and helped out a bit. It was the first time I'd ever done this without DC. We then spent the rest of the day together, and it was a lovely chilled time.
I am being honest with myself when I say my life without him would be really difficult, stressful and empty. I do really love him and I am grateful for the fact that he loves me.
DH and I are a good team, both together and when with DC. I mean that sincerely, as in, I can be myself around him whereas with OM I was aware it was unsustainable as I was putting on an act and there were loads of intimate things about me he didn't know, which DH knows.
There are parts of my personality that came out more with OM, but they weren't necessarily good parts ...

tessa6 Mon 09-Sep-13 12:49:21

How would you feel if he came in and said he thought he was falling for someone else? Do you find that hard to imagine? Is he your safe reliable place? I notice you mention seeing him at work and that you respect how hard he works. Do you respect what he does? Do you think he's as bright as you? Can you be honest about those things even in your safe place of guilt? Can you see that as someone whose own father left them he is both your perfect dream ( a man who won't leave) but also never going to hit that dark, damaged spot where male approval is needed, to make an unreliable man who leaves you love you?

If you yearn for change and excitement, why can't you bring that into your life in other ways? Expand on running with dangerous sports or adventure holidays, together or alone?

The more we talk the more I think this is about you being naturally adventurous, a bit narcissistic and having been in a relationship with a 'nice' guy for a very very long time. I think he needs to make you a little bit scared.

Are you keeping any secrets from him more generally? Or a better question might be, what would he be surprised to find out about you?
What would he say if he saw this thread?

answer honestly, obviously. We are only words in cyberspace.

HollieHelen Mon 09-Sep-13 13:15:52

If DH said he was falling for someone else I would feel (a) like I was losing control of the marriage (this sounds awful put like that but I can't think of another way to put it!! I am a control freak so I guess it's true on some level) (b) desperate to convince him that he should stay with me.
I absolutely respect what he does - primary teaching. I do think he's very intelligent, and much, much more dedicated to his work than I am. I felt like OM was clearly not my intellectual equal ...

Dark, damaged spot - yes, you are so right!! But then maybe it's healthier to be with someone who doesn't have anything to do with that??

I can definitely try to bring change and excitement to life in other ways, and I am trying, with running and so on, and changing jobs and moving house. We have planned a trip abroad with the kids for half term too, which was unusually spontaneous of us!

The thought of DH making me a little bit scared makes me feel ... scared!!!! I suppose I have come to rely on him being nice.

I don't keep other secrets from him. He'd be surprised to find out how much time I spend on MN and other sites when I'm supposedly meant to be working!!! But otherwise, no. Although I do maybe crave some excitement, I have a pretty boring life, don't go out much, so there isn't much else to know!

If he saw this thread I know he would be hurt and confused, which is why I prefer to discuss this on here rather than with people who actually know us!!

HollieHelen Mon 09-Sep-13 13:28:15

Also, I should say although I've said about needing change and so on, in daily life I am actually a total stickler for routine and I have routines and rituals for everything, like going to the gym, food, exercise etc. I get really freaked out if something's going to mess with those routines, which can constrain doing other activities. e.g. going out on a night when I 'should' be in the gym. I sound OCD ... DH is much more easy going and prepared to compromise so perhaps saying I like change and he fears it isn't fair ...

tessa6 Mon 09-Sep-13 14:16:00

The control stuff is interesting. You kind of are in charge of this marriage and you don't like the idea of not being. DH is in his 'place' and only you are allowed to go outside the lines and get things messy.

Being infidelitous means always being in control. I know it doesn't seem like that, as dangerous and deceitful as it is, but you have information the other doesn't. You have something to fall back on. You have two people vying for your attention who only know the truth you tell them . It's very controlling behaviour.

If your DH primary teaches he is probably a kind, warm, compassionate nurturer rather than someone who can really, powerfully stand up to you and your controlling nature. It sounds like there is some imbalance here.

Who arranged this trip abroad? Who would normally?

HollieHelen Mon 09-Sep-13 14:48:06

I booked the tickets - though not before confirming with DH that it was ok to do so! I was actually for holding off booking for a couple of years until DS was a bit older and more able to make the most of it but DH said let's go for it!
DH is definitely kind and nurturing. And I do like to be nurtured, but yes, there is an imbalance in a way ...

tessa6 Mon 09-Sep-13 14:56:47

I think he needs to be encouraged to do more high status things and take more control back. You seem like the focus and the arranger a bit too much. He's the 'nice' guy. You're going to struggle to do this because it is against your nature to take the focus off yourself or cede control (sorry..!) If I could speak to your husband I'd suggest he start keeping you on our toes and making some unilateral plans and decisions. To break out of his tidy little slot in your life.

Charbon Mon 09-Sep-13 15:01:42

I too am interested in your first response about losing control of the marriage and trying to get him to stay with you (AKA 'winning'). That's very honest, but also revealing.

Like Tessa I am getting an impression of someone who has always had more power in the relationship. And while I agree with Tessa that a loss of that power and a lack of safety would be likely to reignite passion and respect for your husband as an equal partner, I wondered whether it would help to look a bit more deeply into why danger and 'fighting' might be so important to you? Because once safety returns and fear recedes, if you haven't fixed some of these associations you might be vulnerable to seeking out a new risky adventure.

There are likely to be clues in your childhood but also your early sexual relationships. Did you feel more for men who were emotionally unavailable? Did you learn to associate sexual attraction with fear/forbidden fruit? What messages did you absorb about what women should want from a man? Any gender-based messages about the appeal of 'bad boys' who didn't treat women well?

What you say about your husband's primary teacher role sounds like one of those 'right answers' I mentioned earlier. Is there anything lurking there about it not being a manly or sexy job, in your perception?

I'm also interested in the fact that the affair was with a married man. How are your relationships with women generally? Are you competitive with female friends and acquaintances?

Your husband's renewed sexual attraction for you is a familiar response in those suffering betrayal. You may have seen references to Hysterical Bonding on this site, but it's a multi-faceted response to a threat. If your husband has been complacent about your attractiveness and desirability, the interest of another man and your reciprocation of it has possibly made him see you with fresh eyes. The sex is also about re-claiming, competing, feeling loved and providing an uncomplicated release from the pain and confusion. It's usually temporary and as Tessa says, is often followed by a slump and emotional depression.

Has your husband felt safe enough to show his anger with you yet?

HollieHelen Mon 09-Sep-13 15:10:19

DH recently did make a unilateral plan and decision for our wedding anniversary, booking a hotel, restaurant and theatre. I was really thrilled! It's in a couple of weeks ...
I don't think I'm attracted to 'bad boys' at all. I spent a long time struggling to feel anything for men, then OM was my first teenage relationship. I didn't associate sexual attraction with forbidden fruit, but definitely with fear of rejection / not being good enough / attractive enough.
I don't think I would have done this with anyone but OM - it was due to our history. The fact that he was married did have an impact obviously. I suppose I did feel competitive with his wife in some ways? My relationships with female friends are quite conflicted. I don't have many close friends, am always very sweet to them, try and make the effort and send things for birthday and Christmas etc, then feel very bitter when this is not reciprocated!!!
DH has shown me his anger, the time when he woke me up in the early morning, really distressed, he said about wanting to hurt OM and also really show me how bad he was feeling. I did find this scary as DH rarely shows aggression towards people so I knew this showed the extent of what he was feeling.

tessa6 Mon 09-Sep-13 15:18:15

That's lovely of your DH, but I notice you are still the focus. I mean for him.

Also, let's not forget he hasn't even asked about the details of the affair yet, so hurt is he that he doesn't even want to look at it. I know you are talking about anger but your description of him waking up that night was that he was in tears. Primarily you note he's upset. His anger is also directed at the OM, not at you, so you are safe and unchallenged.

Although ostensibly him not asking about the affair makes it easier for you, in fact your control and narcissism also go unchallenged and since you still have all the information and truth, you are in control. Even more so because you suspect he'll never leave you. You've done one of the worst things it's possible to do and he STILL won't leave you. He will not be like your father. And so you know you 'should' value that, but in your make up and your childhood, you don't. men leave, that's what they do. He won't play that role.

I think it is part of being controlling that you are used to presenting the 'right' version of yourself generally, controlling other's perspectives, even here. Because to be honest, OP, if things were generally as unproblematic post-affair as you've intimated (in that you 'realise' all the right things about DH and OM and are doing all the right things to address it,) I don't think you'd be returning here so often for help.

I am really impressed with your efforts and openness to betterment and curiosity about yourself, and I hope you return. I didn't realise OM was a first boyfriend, that's revealing that it was an adventure but a 'known' one, someone you had a past with. Who ended that relationship originally I wonder?

tessa6 Mon 09-Sep-13 15:20:09

I'm not surprised you're not attracted to bad boys. That would cede control. I suspect you've been with men you can always feel a point or two above, because there lies the power and safety. But it gets kind of dull after a while. How do you feel now you think OM probably lied to you about her finding his phone and just wanted out?

HollieHelen Mon 09-Sep-13 15:25:52

Things are not unproblematic - that's why I am here. And also because I would normally talk difficult situations through with my mum and sisters but I don't want to tell them about this (I know, controlling perceptions ...)
I know DH and I will have a long struggle to get back to a truly happy marriage and I want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to do that, that's why I'm here. I don't want to ignore something obvious now and store up grief for the future.
OM ended previous relationship (we were 18) by cheating on me. I went to pieces - anxiety, panic attacks, feeling worthless.
If OM really lied to me I almost feel kind of relieved as I'd been feeling so guilty about his wife chucking him out and not letting him see his DD (this is what he said to me). I felt like I'd ruined his life as well as DH's. If it was all an elaborate lie then I'd prefer that as it would show me he's just a cheat and a liar - far easier to turn my back on.

tessa6 Mon 09-Sep-13 16:34:01

That's probably worth believing then! I know it's hard, HH. I'm massively controlling too. I ended up with a man so chaotic that he's absolutely impossible to control and so gamed myself out of being able to do it!

HollieHelen Mon 09-Sep-13 17:34:34

Wow! That's a strategy I would never have thought of for dealing with my control freak tendencies! DH is not chaotic, in fact we are both pretty geeky / organised / systematic people. I think that's partly why we got so stuck in a rut after a while ...

FloraFoxley Mon 09-Sep-13 22:54:53

I'd say, very simply, that if you do not fancy your DH it is ultimately game over

HollieHelen Tue 10-Sep-13 07:52:24

I disagree. Ok, so I don't fancy the pants off him right now, but I have in the past and I hope I will do again. I do love him though, really love him.
It really hurts that he doesn't trust me at the moment, but I guess that's a given, and I need to earn that trust back.

ownbrand Tue 10-Sep-13 13:13:00

If it was all an elaborate lie then I'd prefer that as it would show me he's just a cheat and a liar - far easier to turn my back on

You sound like your still caught up with the other man. I think that in fact you would be very hurt if you were to discover that he had lied and discarded you so casually.Its a blow to anyones ego.Consider the possibility that your not the first person hes said all this stuff to, that he has had other affairs.When push comes to shove cheats will throw the other affair partner under the bus every time.

It really hurts that he doesn't trust me at the moment

I hope you havent said this to him.

HollieHelen Wed 11-Sep-13 06:54:37

Of course I haven't said this to DH!! I am not completely insensitive! That's why I prefert to express thisa stuff here so that at home I can be there for him. I know I have to earn his trust back and that it will take a long, long time.
Yesterday I had a job interview and DH was stressed as the train (long journey) was going through the town where OM works. When the train was delayed on the way home I was panicking DH wouldn't believe this and would think I'd deliberately come back late. I was texting him loads and got a taxi the last bit to be quicker. I know this will be a long process and I am on shaky ground at the moment but I am trying!

HollieHelen Wed 11-Sep-13 10:11:31

Sorry - I know I was on the defensive there, but I really am genuinely trying to respect DH's needs and be there for him at the moment.

Honestly, OM hurt me anyway when he called time on the affair, so thinking of him as a cheat and a liar does make things easier in simple terms. I am not caught up with him ... obviously it's difficult to change my way of thinking after having been caught up thinking in unhealthy ways for so long, but I am really trying to refocus all my attention on DH and the family.

HH xx

perfectstorm Wed 11-Sep-13 10:17:30

I think it's pretty normal to go through phases of not desiring your partner, tbh. I'm really happily married but have gone through spells of that, and so has DH. You absolutely can get it back, in my experience. I have no doubt we'll go through those spells again, but at least now I know it's okay and will wax and wane.

This is a really hard time for your family, and I have no other advice to offer/experiences to share, but I really hope it works out for you and your DH, OP.

tessa6 Wed 11-Sep-13 10:28:03

HH, I completely understand what you're saying about how difficult it is with him not trusting you. That train story is really familiar. I remember after I had an affair, when my dad was ill I kept wanting to go and visit them and stay over, but sometimes I felt it seemed suspicious, like I Was going over there all the time, so I probably held back a bit and didn't go to stay as much as I should have done. Out of guilt. Creating another kind of guilt.

I think it might be useful though for you to examine some of the language you use. It's really interesting you would present that as being 'hurt'. It's very masochistic/passive-aggressive. If you were really really honest with yourself, and us, it's actually just fucking annoying. It's incredibly annoying and exasperating to be actually telling someone the truth and sensing they don't believe you, it's incredibly annoying to feel immediately anxious or frightened when something unexpected happens in your day which makes you change plans, thinking how your partner might read it. It's a cage.

I think you might want to look at the part of yourself that places you as the victim of this, of being 'hurt' by his lack of trust. It is a consequence of what you did. That doesn't mean it's right or fair or even that you have to put up with it (you can fight or even leave). But I think you are not hurt by it. Own your uglier emotions a bit. WHat you've done has made your life worse to some extent and blaming yourself is irrelevant. It's okay to be pissed off. You just have to work out if these are consequences you can live with.

HollieHelen Wed 11-Sep-13 10:51:12

Ok, maybe 'hurt' was the wrong word to use ... I don't find it annoying though, but it does make me really anxious and insecure, like I can't convince DH that I am trustworthy. I know this is ironic as anxious and insecure is probably exactly how I made DH feel yesterday ...
I can live with these consequences, as I have already 100% decided that the alternative (leaving) is unthinkable and definitely NOT what I want to do.

tessa6 Wed 11-Sep-13 11:06:35

Okay, let's look at that. This isn't criticism at all, HH. what you're going through is really hard and there's loads to untangle. There are no 'wrong' words. Take a breath and think about why you think there are any 'wrong' words. Who are you trying to be right for? Us on the internet? Fuck us. You? That's good that's important. Him? doesn't matter if it's right if it isn't honest.

Okay, so it makes you feel really anxious and insecure. Like you can't convince him. So essentially these are all expressions of powerlessness. It makes you feel out of control. And that makes you feel bad. So the problem is the control again. But maybe the solution to that isn't to try an gain more control, but to let go of it all together. To let go of that need. This is a big thing and not one I expect you to take on right now.

Also, you have 100% decided that you don't want to not stay with your husband.

Think about that. Think about what that says.

You are staying because you can't bear the alternative.

You want to stay because you don't like the alternative.

Please please don't look at these as criticisms of how you are handling, this OP, judgement is irrelevant. This is how people are. But I want you to notice that what you are hiding from is really really obvious in the words you are using. i'm not saying you actually don't love your husband, or that you shouldn't stay, at all. But, as with many people after an affair, you have made your decision based on the lesser of the evils available to you, not a positive thing you really WANT. This is going to make it hard for you emotionally and ultimately hard for him too. It leaves you vulnerable to future indiscretions (in order to test out other alternatives) and possibly will build resentment as you are further controlled and trapped by suspicions and guilt.

You're doing well, you're doing all the right things, but with great respect, I'm not sure you know yourself completely yet. And that's sort of where some stuff is going to begin. Your affair was actually probably a way of doing this, a test of who you are and your relationship. Have you ever had counselling? Sorry if you've said. You're in your 30s, right?

HollieHelen Wed 11-Sep-13 11:18:14

I'm trying to find the right words as in, the words that properly express what I'm feeling.
You are definitely right about the control - I do hate to feel powerless and out of control of a situation. I am at a loss as how to let go of control tbh as it is a habit that has built up over years!! It is my main coping strategy.
Yes, I am staying because I can't bear the alternative. It's really important to me to be a good mum, and do the best for our DC, and I really do believe (though I know a lot of people wouldn't share this) that it's better for our DC if DH and I stay together. One of the things I hated about myself during the affair was that it was eating away at my idea of what a good mum was, and showing me how far I had moved away from that.
I absolutely agree I don't know myself properly yet! If the affair was a test of who I am, then I failed it miserably by showing myself to be a really bad person.
I have had some online counselling through Relate during the affair, when I was becoming incredibly stressed and guilty.
Yes, I'm in my early 30s.

tessa6 Wed 11-Sep-13 11:30:04

Okay, that makes total sense. That's a time when LOADS of women I know have done stuff like this. It's a really weird age, tipping from a certain kind of cultural power to another. Becoming mum more than party girl, fearing loss of desirability, loss of youth, yet still realising how empowered and much life there is left. Overwhelmed but under supported.

I would seriously consider you get some individual counseling, even just someone local you look up on BACP. Not because you seem damaged but because I think there's a lot of stuff you haven't looked at about yourself and I think it could really help with the kneejerk guilting and self-blaming which I think it genuine but is also a genuine way of hiding from real responsibility.

I don't think life was testing you with an affair. i think you were testing the strength of your relationship and your power and control as a woman. You are the agent. You are the subject. You are acting in this. When you keep using expressions like 'hurt' and 'tested' I suspect you are trying to control our and your perspective of you. This shouldn't make you feel guilty and hand-wringy, it should be inspiring. You can change all of these things.

I understand control if your main coping strategy. That's why I said I think it's too big a thing for you to take on right now. I'd suggest you real a book called 'When Things Fall Apart' by Pema Chodrin.

But one day you are going to have to see that your coping strategy is actually not helping you cope anymore, but causing some of this pain. You're relying on it so obviously and desperately now, trying to hold a family together, pushing with your iron will and terrified that something as small as a delayed train will make you lose control of your DH's perception of you. Adamant that your children won't grow up in a less than ideal environment if you have any power over it being held together. You are trying so so hard to control everything, do the right thing, say the right things. Can you live like this for the rest of your life? Have you ever thought that maybe everything properly, really falling apart in a way beyond your control might just be the best thing that could ever happen to you?

HollieHelen Wed 11-Sep-13 11:50:56

I have had everything fall apart in a way beyond my control twice in my life - once when my dad left my mum, once when OM cheated on me back in the day. Both these experiences were utterly devastating to me. I was living abroad at the time, had no support, was suffering panic attacks, felt absolutely awful ... I really don't see it as the best thing that ever happened to me!!
Yes, I am fighting hard to give my DC a good homelife and to be a good wife for DH ... but I can't just give up on this.
Having kids has shown me that I absolutely cannot control every element of life and that there are many things that will surprise me and unsettle me, and I can live with this. I am actually a lot less stressed now than before I had the kids and married DH - back then I was a nervous wreck!
I was testing my control in the affair, as I was aware in myself that I kept pushing OM to commit further, and to override any boundaries he had previously set. I guess I wanted to see how far I could push him. Ultimately though I didn't actually want him to leave his wife - I suppose it was just an exercise in control.
I will look into individual counselling as I am conscious myself that I need it. DH would like to believe I am depressed - he is trying to find an explanation for the affair. I don't think I'm depressed at all, but I clearly have unresolved issues that I need to examine now before life goes on - like you say, this is a weird stage!!

tessa6 Wed 11-Sep-13 11:58:11

Very astute of you what you say about the affair being an exercise in control. Just realising that power and control are so central to your sense of self and how you relate to others is a huge realisation that will change you and help you, I'm sure.

I'm sorry about the experiences of chaos and grief you mention. And I do not think for a moment what you should do is explode your family, I'll say that absolutely. I think you have to be kind to yourself, and also be aware that some of the things you've mentioned make you vulnerable in the future to possible adventures/exercises in control/reactions to boredom.

He probably thinks you are depressed when actually you are grieving a lover, dealing with a reality that you had considered leaving becoming your full horizon again, and coping with a lot of the negative consequences of the affair. It's understandable you'd have trouble.

tessa6 Wed 11-Sep-13 11:59:53

I'd also practise losing control a little though. Particularly with your DH. What would happen if you did tell him some things about you and OM? I know it would be hard, so hard you almost immediately want to shut down the possibility. But you are going to have to find new ways of being, and that might involve you ceding control and taking more emotional risks and letting him have a bit more power and intimacy with you, even if that's very painful for you both.

HollieHelen Thu 12-Sep-13 14:41:00

Starting to feel like I've lost a year of my life to this affair sad it wasn't physical till March but EA before that.
I just look at DD and DS and kick myself about all those precious moments I only half paid attention to. So much to make up for, and even more where DH is concerned.

HollieHelen Thu 12-Sep-13 14:43:04

Heard this morning I didn't get the job I interviewed for on Tues. Maybe a good thing as DH said last night he didn't like the idea of me travelling for work. So it's back to the drawing board as far as change of career is concerned! Trying to see that as a big opportunity!!

tessa6 Thu 12-Sep-13 20:33:36

I'm sorry to heat you didn't get the job, HH. I hope your DH can find it in him to be supportive of you in the bad news.

Don't worry about losing a year. Think of it as learning a lesson. You have a whole life ahead of you! Enjoy your lovely kids.

HollieHelen Fri 13-Sep-13 08:25:01

Thank you smile

I had a sexy dream last night ... About DH!!!! This is massive progress!!

X

HollieHelen Sun 15-Sep-13 08:04:16

DH woke me up in the night last night, crying sad Couldn't tell me what's wrong but pretty obvious what was on his mind ...
I guess it's going to be one step forward, one step back for a while ...
X

LawofAverages Mon 16-Sep-13 08:04:57

Hi HH, just read your thread.

Yes, I think you do know deep down that it will actually take a long, long time for the scars to heal, how ever you behave towards your DH.

Speaking as someone who has been in a position similar to your DH, I can tell you that sometimes things will seem fine for a while and then the pain will randomly hit him again as he remembers the truth of what happened. Things that you might not even realise are at all significant may well be massive triggers to him - hearing the song that was playing shortly after he found out, seeing a stranger in the park with a similar hair colour and build to the OM, even the recurrence of the season in which he found out about the affair. Any/all of these things or similar may bring all the painful feelings he felt when he first found out flooding back.

I think all you can do if you really are sorry and genuinely want to make amends and give your relationship your best shot, is to just be there for him, for as long as it takes. If he still randomly gets really upset in say, 5 or 6 months' time, don't get exasperated and wonder why he isn't over it yet - instead be there for him, hold him, reassure him. In short do whatever it takes for as long as it takes. He will not be in control of the bad feelings hitting. Mine started to hit less and less after about 5 months, but even two years later I got the odd pang where I felt almost as bad as I did on the day I found out. You need to own your mistake and take responsibility for helping him to get through the (potentially long) aftermath.

Ultimately my relationship wasn't right and we ended up splitting, but I do think that would have happened anyway without the cheating (we were not married however).

Best of luck to you both in moving forward from this.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 10:32:14

Thank you - it's really useful to have that insight. I know I can't really hope to make things 'right again' just like that, and maybe they never will be back to the way they were before. I guess it is early days as this was all only a month / 6 weeks ago.

Sometimes I don't know what affects DH or what his triggers are. I know that one thing that does worry him is seeing me using my phone, which is difficult as I want to keep in touch with (female) friends. I am trying to reassure him about this by passing on news and so on ...

He asked my yesterday evening if I was back in touch with OM. I was really surprised by this as I thought we'd had a lovely family day and I hadn't done / said anything to arouse suspicion. I think it was because I had been texting a friend though sad I showed him my phone and (I hope) reassured him.

It's our wedding anniversary tomorrow, and then we're going away this coming weekend, so I hope that will be a good time to reconnect. I will have to have my phone on at the weekend as my sister will be looking after DC, but other than her I have made the resolution not to answer any texts / e-mails while we're together.

ownbrand Mon 16-Sep-13 12:19:39

The phone thing is fairly common i think.

I would be a bit worried by your H reaction at this point. Has he still not asked you any questions about this yet ? Infidelity usually produces intense anger which is normal and healthy , i would be concerned he is not expressing this to you for whatever reason.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 12:33:10

By questions do you mean about things like when / where we met up? Dh hasn't asked about this, but I don't want to bring it up myself.

When we were looking at my phone yesterday I did say that OM had never called me (it was all texting). I'm not hiding details, but I don't really want to drag it all out if DH isn't asking.

I think maybe I need to just accept that I won't be in touch with friends so much at the weekends when DH can see me using my phone ... It's difficult as there are a couple of good friends that I've been talking to about all this, and we've got a lot closer over the past couple of months, so I want to be in touch with them - but not at the expense of making DH feel awkward / insecure.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 12:38:09

DH does know when, where and how often we met because I would say when I was going to see OM, and we were meeting as just friends until March this year. So there were 5 times, March, April, May, June and July, when we did anything other than meet up and talk. The last 2 times we slept together.

Should I tell DH this? Would it help him? I don't like to bring up OM as I don't want DH to think that I'm thinking about him any more than necessary ...

ofmiceandmen Mon 16-Sep-13 12:56:42

I think Tess and Charbon have been brilliant on this thread. Re read their answers the doubts creep in.

There are different schools of thought on the 'tell vs do not tell" argument but I would want to know everything.

Affairs are about secrets and controlling who knows what when and how. Its the secret that keeps most affairs going, or at least the excitement/buzz/power that comes from keeping it hidden.

By keeping a hold of information and secrets you are denying your partner the ability to understand what he is forgiving, so although he will forgive new information will just get him to fall back to square one - and he has to muster the strength to forgive the new bit of information.

This is now time to lay it all out there. can you really accept it is forgiven when you know he doesn't know all the facts? You've got a 'get out of jail card' ... use it! else this will erode everything you have worked hard to rebuild and protect.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 13:00:37

Totally agree Tess and Charbon have been brilliant! I have found this so helpful.

I just really don't want to bring up the information if DH isn't asking about anything ... I'm like you if it happened to me I would want to know everything in minute detail, but I would also ask for that and if I was in his shoes I would question DH mercilessly.

I don't know how to start that conversation as I don't want DH to think I am looking for an outlet / want to talk about it / want to rub it in ...

tessa6 Mon 16-Sep-13 13:11:44

I think you still haven't broken through a vital stage to proper renewal of a relationship, HH. Still things feel furtive, cowardly, passive. You are aware that the phone is a trigger to your DH. It is a literal, physical example of someone having a private, discreet relationship with someone they can't see right under their nose. It is symbolic of your affair.

Of course you are sympathetic to him but again, here, you are framing yourself as passive and faintly victimy in this. You are suggesting very subtly and quietly that his paranoia is preventing you from now having healthy relationships with your friends. You are claiming that you do not want to tell him about sleeping with OM and the details because you don't want to hurt him.

I have no doubt these things are true but I'm afraid you might need to step up a little more and work out what actually the problem is and take responsibility for solving it.

Your DH wakes up in the night crying, he is set off by you using your phone, he is unable to ask you questions about the details because he is so pained and afraid of what he might find out.

The solution to this isn't to just say to your DH, by the way I slept with OM those last two times i met him etc etc. And the solution isn't to never speak of it again. That's safe for you because you don't want to feel bad about yourself. But it's incredibly cruel for him, to always feel he must be the one that brings it up, to live alone with it in his own head, imagining the worst, making connections suddenly and horribly.

You need to have the courage to sit down with him and say, I can feel how much this is hurting you and I feel ashamed and take responsibility for that. I think the only way we get through this is to be closer and more honest with each other, and I think if we go into a denial stage and deal with our reactions separately, we'll be putting more distance between us. I think we should have a drink and put some time aside to talk about what happened and what's happening now and you can ask me anything you want, safe in the knowledge I love you and I want to be with you and I wonder if that might help.'

As for the phone, I know most of us communicate in text a lot these days, but it is, even in friendships, a shallow, lazy, very controlling way to talk. Why not use this as an opportunity to actually engage properly with your friends and if you actually have something to say, call them in front of DH, in case of quietly texting? You might be surprised how all your relationships start improving if you approach them whole-heartedly.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 13:19:50

I am literally memorising what to say to DH - I do know we have to sit down and have that conversation. Though don't get me wrong, we haven't totally been isolating ourselves, we have been talking about lots of things together, including about our relationship. It's just the details of what happened with OM that DH hasn't wanted to talk about - he's asked me a lot about what I was feeling.

With the texting, it's more difficult ... The two friends concerned are overseas, one is in a different timezone (Arizona!), which makes calling difficult. But yes, I will suggest chatting on the phone in front of DH. Definitely a good idea!

Thank you x

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 13:36:16

I'm struggling a bit with the idea that I'm being passive and a victim ... If that's how I come across then obviously that gives an insight into something I'm not happy with. I don't want to be passive - I am trying to be active and take action to save / rebuild our marriage. I definitely have no illusions that I'm a victim of DH's behaviour - absolutely the other way round. That's why I feel like I should do everything I can to fix this.

Like I said I will suggest to DH about having that conversation tonight as it would be lovely to be able to clear the air a bit before our wedding anniversary tomorrow.

tessa6 Mon 16-Sep-13 13:57:08

I know you don't, HH. I'm sorry that they seem critical as words. You are not passive overall, you told your DH about the affair for example. But you didn't do that with an active goal in mind, necessarily. I'm not sure you can be completely certain why you did it at all. The truth is that OM hightailed it out of the situation and made a very cowardly but active choice to run away. You were left stranded and hurt. You know you are going to stay because you don't like the alternative which is essentially a passive choice, however active you are within it.

Being more active and honest would be only a minor modification, but it's a very scary one. Rather than sitting on the train fretting you could contact DH (you may well have done) to say, 'my train is stuck at such and such, I'm freaking out because I'm worried a delay will make you feel suspicious or hurt but there is nothing to feel suspicious about. I know it's my fault that you feel that way, I just want to reassure you and make sure I'm not constantly feeling anxious and scared about your responses and any conflict.'

Equally it's your responsibility to bring up the affair and how things are going and his crying. I know you 'know' you're not a victim of his behavior but I think, subconsciously, you're most comfortable feeling in control and safe and actually you need to run towards what's uncomfortable right now, face it and own it, despite the risks and fear. That's active.

ownbrand Mon 16-Sep-13 13:59:40

Tessa is spot on , you need to do exactly that .You both sound very distant from each other.

My P regularly asks me how im feeling , and im nearly two years on .He knows when im thinking about it and will immediateley hug me and apologize . It helps immenseley and if he didnt do this i dont think id still be here .

The phone .That would annoy me .If your on a family day out i dont see the need to be texting your freinds, i think thats quite rude in any event and considering the circumstances its asking for trouble.When your with your H you need to be present .

I bet you didnt spend your time with Om texting freinds and your H will be aware of that . I would find the whole phone thing very very hurtfull. Om was worthy of your undivided attention but your H is not . Thats how he will see it . Its obvious its a problem and he shouldnt have to tell you , you just shouldnt do it .

tessa6 Mon 16-Sep-13 14:04:16

There is a Kirshenbaum book called 'I Love you but I don't Trust you' which I think is worth looking at. It has a good chapter on the temptation to return to safe denial after a betrayal, for both partners. It feels good because you both don't have to face the horror of what happened, but it is essentially a very dangerous, false state of affairs to get caught in because it actually creates distance, despite it feeling safe. If you truth safety over honest and connection, you will never move through this and the relationship will fall apart slowly and coolly.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 14:07:35

Why did I initially tell DH? You're right, I'm not totally sure. When we were talking that night and he asked if I had feelings for someone else, I couldn't lie. I did just want the deception to end as the guilt and concealment were eating me up (this may sound like a selfish motivation). At that point I wasn't thinking about what OM would do. When he freaked out, I think I knew it was all over. I just wish I had ended it before. After the last time we met up, I had a complete meltdown and tried to end everything as I knew it wasn't sustainable. I then let OM persuade me to carry on ... I know that was weak. I wish I had called time on it.

I did contact DH from the train, and I really am trying to reassure him as much as I can on a daily basis, and to apologise for hurting him. Of course I asked him what was wrong when he was crying, and offered to talk about things, but he just said he didn't know.

The conversation about the details of the affair ... yes, I have been running away from that because it will be uncomfortable. But if it will make things better for DH overall then I need to do it.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 14:09:45

Ownbrand - I obviously phrased things wrongly! We weren't on a family day out and I would definitely not have been texting friends if we were! We were just at home. DD and I were doing some cooking and while the bits were in the oven I was texting. DH was wandering in and out getting stuff ready for work.

When DH and I are just the two of us I am making a point of not having the phone in the same room with me.

tessa6 Mon 16-Sep-13 14:14:43

Great, I understand why you told him, just as you understand that the motivations for that were desperate, unclear and selfish. it's good that you did but obviously it would have been different if you had, say, ended things firmly and actively with OM, and then told DH about it in the context of 'I am telling you this because I am deeply ashamed and sorry and I want to be with you in complete honesty and I will never contact this man again.' I know you can see that. you must look at why you didn't, rather than wishing you had. You must look at your own feelings of self-worth, control, fear and anxiety that mean you couldn't stand up and do what was right and what you wanted (presumably).
Your own ambivalence and yes, passivity (see how you were persuaded by OM?) This could be an opportunity for really growing into an autonymous adult for you. I'd be interested how you framed it when you did contact DH from the train and what role you play with him in such difficult situations. I wonder if you are more used to being the one who needs reassurance, attention and emotional solidity. It's time now for you to provide that. It could be the making of you.

Don't forget that DH could be imagining much much WORSE than the truth regarding your affair, so if you really truly are honest with him, it might not only be a breakdown in the barriers you've been up between you, and an introduction of who your really ARE in the relationship (rather than the perspective you want him to have of you) but also a relief for him.

ownbrand Mon 16-Sep-13 14:19:16

My mistake Op.

Is there a possibility that when you told your H you wanted him to leave?
Was this potentially a way out of the marriage for you ?

tessa6 Mon 16-Sep-13 14:19:59

When I say 'look at' your character and actions, OP, I don't just mean notice them and see that they are bad and say sorry for them. I mean actually really look at them. For you, not us here or even him. It may be that they are parts of who you are. It may be you can trace back why. It may be they are unchangeable. There's a tendency to see wrongdoing and then say 'I see that was wrong' and think somehow that helps. Actually it may be that by nature you are in need of male attention and approval (for example, I'm not saying this) and that's always going to be there. You then need to order your life around this, realising that is a central part of you, and fit it into your life in a way you can be peaceful with. Not just that you need to feel ashamed, say sorry, then push it under the carpet as if that solves it. That's what you and others are at risk of doing with the affair in general if you don't run towards the discomfort. And trust me, it never ever works.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 14:31:15

I definitely didn't want DH to leave when I told him. I don't really know what I was thinking - maybe I wanted him to know how bad things had become between us? I wasn't looking for a way to end the marriage, though I know DH would have been justified in ending it after what I did ...

I really am learning things about myself from everything that's happened. It seems I am a lot more in need of emotional excitement than I realised before - before all this happened I would have said I was looking for stability. Also I like having things to look forward to - the meetings with OM had that function, which I know was the wrong way to go, but it means I need to build in regular things to work towards. Also I wanted to prove something to myself about OM in particular (as in, I don't think I would have got into this situation with anyone else), as when he left me years ago he made me feel so unwanted / unattractive / unspecial, that him seeing me as desirable now seemed like it was healing that wound. Obviously it wasn't as at the same time I didn't respect him ... Very twisted sad

tessa6 Mon 16-Sep-13 15:00:19

You wanted your DH to do something about it. You wanted to tell him and for his response to somehow end the chaos and guilt and give you some clarity as to what you should do.

Do you see that's passive? Do you see it's also a bit immature? That it's like a child bringing something it's broken towards its parents and tremulously waiting for a response, for something bigger to make it all okay again or punish or whatever, but just take it out of their hands?

Similarly, when you come to us saying, I guess I'll just have not to be in touch with my new friends at the weekends anymore because I don't want it to be at the expense of DH's peace of mind, can you see the sliver of martyrdom and bottom lip in that? You must know that if you put it to DH like that he wouldn't want you to forego friendships on his account. What would he suggest? Better yet, what would you suggest? Are they mutual friends? If not, why not? If so, why not do cc'd emails and involve him? You have the power to step up and see these as opportunities not problems.

It's most likely, OP, like everyone else, you are in need of both stability AND emotional excitement. That's life. When you get one, we run towards the other.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 15:14:05

Yes, totally immature! The whole thing with OM was completely immature - I was kidding myself I could be a teenager again which was totally inappropriate given that I am married and a mum. During the whole thing I was really selfish and irresponsible.

I'm not trying to be a martyr about my phone - I can see that what I wrote probably sounded petty. Like you said though, it's a symbol of secrecy, so I think for the next few weeks / months I need to be aware of how I use it and maybe have weekends as phone-free time. I know my friends (not new, but old and recently renewed) will understand that.

tessa6 Mon 16-Sep-13 15:57:39

It doesn't seem petty, HH. I know you feel beat up, I'm sorry, I;m honestly trying to get you to see, to help you, that you are in desperate need to 'do the right thing' and 'say the right thing' and that actually that's not what any of this is about. You are surprised that DH asked you if you were back in touch with OM because you'd had a lovely day out. That doesn't preclude that at all. In fact it could spark it. He will be thinking that all the time. Why don't you bring up your contact (or lack thereof) with OM? Why don't you tell him he can access your phone any time he likes, wherever, and that it doesn't make him weak or paranoid if it helps, and it will make you feel better too?

When you label these negative qualities you seem to want to call them and point them out as a way to distance yourself from them. Of course you're not 'trying to be a martry about your phone' Why would you try to be a martyr? You are feeling discomfort as a result of DH's feelings and that's interfering in other areas of your life and your solutions are to do things which make you more private, more punished, more segregated. You're not looking at yourself or your behaviour in your relationship as a whole yet.

it's not inappropriate to want to be a teenager again and be married and a mum. It's normal. It's fine. It's how and why you go about doing that that makes the difference. The flagellation is, ironically, a protective armour you're wearing. By attacking your former self you are implying you've changed, but have you? Can you? Can any of us?

By trying to find a solution that punishes you in some way you are at risk of making the problem worse. By deliberately not having the phone in a room with you when with DH you are still 'playing' him, controlling him and yourself. There is still a secret agenda in your mind that he is not part of, even if it is 'for his benefit'. It would be a much better sign if you had the phone right between you, openly on the table, in the long run. Have you discussed this phone tactic with him? Why not? By not talking to your friends at the weekend you will build a resentment however subconsciously in you towards him and your DH will be further separated from your life, not combined into it. I'm not sure why you are trying to find solutions which involve you alone, and not you two together. Why not discuss it with him? Ask his advice? Does he want the weekend to be a phone free zone? Or does he just want to know who you are contacting and why? Does he not even want that but just want to feel a certain thing from you that you are not giving emotionally and then he wouldn't be paranoid or triggered so much? To be active would be you doing the running here, he is embarrassed and humiliated and asking for these out of nowhere will be too much for any man.

I know you will say that you are trying to shoulder the burdens of rebuilding the relationship alone but I call different. By managing all the problems and consequences alone and self-punishingly you are still maintaining a wall between you and your DH and keeping control for yourself and a compartmentalised life for yourself too.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 17:59:07

It's so difficult to convey what's really going on ... I have told DH he can check my phone anytime. He said he didn't want to. I have tried leaving it on the kitchen counter / on the table between us. It just made him jumpy every time it went off, even if I told him who each message was from. I decided to leave it in another room as that's what DH himself does with his ...

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 18:00:46

I'm trying to punish myself because I feel like I deserve it!! And because DH hasn't punished me at all and I feel like he should have. I don't want to feel like I got away with this.

AnyFucker Mon 16-Sep-13 18:38:12

Have you suggested relationship counselling ?

ownbrand Mon 16-Sep-13 19:08:07

I wont check phones either . I just wont go there and its hard to explain why .

OP i may be way off the mark but are you wanting your H to call you on some of this stuff ? Do you want him to be passionateley enraged about it all ?

I may be mistaken , but did you initially tell your H that you were in contact with Om and he was Ok about it ? If so , how do you feel about that now? Deep down did you want him to put his foot down about it and "Man Up " and fight for you ?

There is a reason you told him while the affair was ongoing. I think sometimes there is some testing going on when people have affairs.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 22:29:59

Had long conversation with DH. He didn't actually want to know many details, though was glad I offered to tell him. Apparently he's been worrying I've been reminiscing about OM and wishing I was with him. Nothing could be further from reality so I'm really glad to have been able to set his mind at ease about that.

westcoastmum33 Tue 17-Sep-13 05:21:28

I think it might be helpful to realise that your DH is in mourning for a relationship that he valued and has lost. Your relationship will never be the same. I think you now need to help hold carry his pain, just as you two have endured the hard parts of parenting and found joy in the best parts. So next time he opens up to you, maybe try to not apologise and just listen and sit through the pain with him. He needs to feel like he's connected and that you two can be a team again so be courageous and mourn the loss of the relationship you two once had with him so you can clear the ground for a new relationship.

HollieHelen Wed 18-Sep-13 09:40:40

Wedding anniversary yesterday. Really glad to have had that talk with DH the night before and cleared the air a bit. I suggested relationship counselling, but he would rather work through things ourselves for now.

Also saw GP who prescribed a new and stronger cream for my soreness issues, which seems to be working (miracle, after 18+ months suffering with this!!!). Am literally sending GP a thank you card today, I'm so grateful.

Looking forward to moving forward ...

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