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Is this what splitting up forever is, or is there hope? Epic tale

(13 Posts)
soulkid Fri 01-Jul-11 21:39:02

Hi
I'm new on here. I'm 37, have been in a relationship with my soulmate for 8 and a half years and we have a 6 and a half year old adorable son. We're not married (always been meaning to get around to it, but always something else to do instead).
We have/had an idyllic relationship, my partner was the only person I've ever considered having children with, I knew he was the one for me the moment I met him, we fell head over heels in love. We live in a beautiful part of the world, have a lovely home, good jobs, good friends, good family.

2 years ago I made the biggest mistake of my life and had a fling with a bloke at work. Lots of flirty emails, a couple of intimate occasions, but not sex. This guy was a complete tosser, analysing it now, it was the attention which I was after (I will never make excuses for what I did and I take full responsibility for my actions, but at that time of my life there were areas of my life that I wasn't getting the attention I needed in terms of my career and my relationship). The guy played me, and when the attention went I wondered where it had gone. For about a year I shut myself off from my partner.

Then a year ago, my partner found out. He was rightly furious, angry and hurt. We had a terrible month, and then all of a sudden we fell back into a normal routine. We had a wonderful year and it was never mentioned again except for one time which I'll say in a minute.

Over the last year I have shown complete and utter remorse for what I did,
I took responsibility for my actions and I have never put myself in a situation where that would happen again. I am utterly transparent with everything I do. I have re-committed to the relationship heart and soul to lay even stronger foundations. I have tried to make myself a better person, I have searched for reasons as to why it happened, so that we can make our relationship water tight and impervious to this in the future. I have tried to bring more intimacy, caring, trust and better communication into the relationship. I have shared my dreams and hopes for our relationship and my desire to support my partner and be his devoted partner for life. I have prioritised being a couple above everything, even over being a mum.

About 2 months after my partner finding out last year, I found some flirty emails on facebook between him and some girl. He apologiesd saying sorry that I'd found them, gave me a massive cuddle and said "you know that thing that happened between us earlier in the year, well I don't think about it anymore, it doesn't matter, we're good" The event was never mentioned again at all until February this year. At the time I did think, "oh that was quick, but I put it down to us being a magic couple and having essentially a good relationship at our core".

Fast forward to Feb of this year, over some time and its difficult to pinpoint, I began to lose my confidence and became anxious about a girl my partner worked with. In February he became extremely secretive, it was like living with a stranger: I wasn;t allowed to know his phone password or Facebook password, he'd spend hours in the toilet with his phone, back late from work, doing work emails in the bath, conference calls in the car all hours of the day and night. There was 1 particular girl which he became friends with on facebook, and my partner never uses facebook, but since he became friends with her he started doing a "macho" status update every day, talks about his little boy, going out for drinks, nothing about me. I just had a hunch, ad so I in turn used to post happy photos of our family on his facebook page to warn off any third parties.

As such I got curious and then began our cycle of awful behaviour. The more I tried to find out what was going on, the more secretive he became. Several times his temper exploded and I could see he was carrying a lot of hurt from what had happened the previous year. At one point he couldn't tell me that he loved me. After a couple of weeks, it was fine. Basically its been a roller coaster since February - one minute we're getting married, the next we're on the rocks. - over and over and over again. Completely out of control.

I have been massivly trying to save our relationship during this time - nice texts every day, us time etc. I have read a library of advice. he won't go to counselling or read any of the books.

3 weeks ago, my partner stopped telling me he loved me again and that he couldn't try anymore. Incidentally, this coincides with that particular facebook girl de-friending him. hmmm.

However He said he thinks about what happens every day (even last year when I could swear we had got over it) we decided the only option to break our terrible cycle of behaviour was a month living apart for some time out.

Well what a 3 weeks they have been. Within a week i knew my own mind and I confronted him about the facebook girl. i've done it before,but with no confidence. Eventually I got out of him that he had become "close" but that he "stopped it before anything happened". And how dare I accuse him of something which he finds so terrible. And he said we had to treat our relationship as over (not just on a break). A couple of days later he looked so sad and we agreed just to give it a bit more time apart before doing anything irreversible (eg selling house etc). However then I get a text from him saying he's moving on, its the only way he can get over what happened.

It is painful beyond description for me. There is so much other stuff. He says this goes to the core of him, he can't be who he is and accept what I did, he feels this has changed us.

basically I don't know if I've genuinely ruined our relationship, or whether there are external forces at play, or whether he just doesn't know what to do.

Even in these awful circumstances, I choose to show him and our family unit committed and unwaivering love. But it is so hard to keep hope when we are dividing our sons time at the weekends etc. At the moment I am just angry at him because, although i know I did very wrong, I have never dbeen prepared to split up my family and give up on our relationship - but he is.

i would really appreciate any thoughts and advice and shared experiences to help me through working out whether my relationship is still salvageable. Thank you.

It does sound as though this man wants out of the relationship. It's never nice when this sort of thing happens, but do bear in mind that it is not just because of the affair you had. You are not the only one in the wrong. Sometimes relationships just run their course, at least as far as one person is concerned. I would suggest you look into all the facts about what will happen WRT house, childcare, finance etc so at least you have the information at your disposal. But don't allow him to make the end of this relationship all your fault, because it's not.

Saffysmum Fri 01-Jul-11 21:50:40

What an honest and heartfelt post. I feel for you.

You made a mistake. What jumped out at me (and I may well be wrong) was that you said initially you two were head over heals in love, he was your soulmate, etc., yet you never found the time to marry.

Then you say that things were lacking in your relationship which came close to you having an affair.

Then it appears that you have turned yourself inside out trying to make it all work, even putting your marriage before your kids.

So, what held you back from marrying?
What was lacking in your relationship that almost resulted in you being unfaithful to your soulmate?
And crucially, what did he do to try and make things work between you?

Sounds to me that he never got over your almost betrayal, yet you had done everything in your power and beyond to try and compensate for what almost happened. You can't changed what almost happened, and you can only beat yourself up over it for so long.

Do you feel that he still loves you, or that he is intent on retaliating and punishing you?

soulkid Fri 01-Jul-11 22:06:23

Thank you for your honesty Springchickengoldbrass (interesting name!)

@Saffysmum - the reasons why we never married, well, within a month or 2 of us getting together, i fell pregnant, then we rented a house, then we swapped jobs, then we bought a bigger house....always something else to spend our money on. I think lifestyle came before finances for the wedding. Since I've had my little boy, it has always been something which has hurt me very deeply, that I don't have the same surname as him, it has hurt me for a long time.
The reasons why I had the fling/affair? Well, it was the attention which I sought, i didn't feel as though I had a voice both at home and in my job at that time of my life. In terms of my relationship, I didn't feel as though my partner really understand how much it was hurting me that we weren't married and didn't have same surname as my boy. In terms of childcare responsibilities - Both my partner and i used to share responsibility for childcare after work, when he switched jobs the responsibilty was mine every day. I have a good job, my career has always been something which defines me and so it was a big switch in my life to have to leave work promptly every night and in a way limit my career options over responsibility for childcare. While my partner is pressing on with his career, I was feeling that he didn't notice that my career had taken a backseat. As an example, I had a speaking engagement after work one night, which he promised to look after our son for. During that day he emailed me to say he had an important meeting and couldn't collect our son after all. So I had to cancel my speaking engagement. There are lots of things like that. Also, separately at work, I was working in a role which didn't make best use of my skills, as such I often felt that I couldn't voice myself properly in meetings. For all of these reasons I know my affair was an attention thing.
these things sound selfish , I know, and the ironic thing is now that I know why, I would sacrifice my career a million times over if it meant me and my family stay together.

What did he do to make things work - he says he has been trying every day. I think our definitions of trying are different, but I appreciate he has "given it a go" and stayed to see if it would work.

I don't know if he still loves me - I know we have so much to lose and that it is killing him as much as me to see our dream fall apart. he says he doesn't want me to feel guilty and doesn't blame me, but I know he is still angry. he says he loves my family, he loves our life, he loves our son - but he "doesn't feel as though he loves me".

maleview70 Fri 01-Jul-11 22:52:18

Saffys Mum....It wasnt almost being unfaithful. The way I read it she was unfaithful as she described a couple of intimate encounters. Surely that is being unfaithful.

To me it reads like he was your soulmate. Unfortunately you were not his.

eslteacher Fri 01-Jul-11 23:02:13

soulkid, I really feel for you, as another poster said, your post seems so open and honest and sad. It seems there are no easy answers here. It does strike me that you and DP have only been 3 weeks apart - it's very recent given your history together. Your post reads like a lot of things are still unresolved between you two.

It's interesting that the thing with your DP and the girl from his work appears to mirror what happened between you and the guy from your work. In so far as you and DP were both seemingly seeking comfort elsewhere from insufficiencies in your relationship, both seeking this comfort with people from work, both became close/intimate with this other person but stopped it before it got to the sex stage.

Part of me wonders if this has been a way of your DP trying to deal with your previous fling - that he really can't get over it, and that he's either trying to misguidedly bring about a balance by doing the same kind of thing you did, or that he's genuinely looking for solace elsewhere. But another part of me wonders if he's just using your previous fling to justify whatever is now going on with this girl, especially as you felt so clear in your mind before that he had come to terms with it. It could be a pretty easy way to avoid shouldering any blame himself should he be lying about the extent of his involvement with this girl, and (possibly but I have no idea) be wanting to leave you to pursue things with her?

I feel sure from reading your post that this isn't over yet - whether that means your relationship still has life in it, or just that there are certain things you don't yet know or fully understand about your DP's actions/motivations, I'm not sure.

So basically I'm not going to pretend to have any answers except that you really don't deserve to be shouldering all the blame for this yourself, and you must try not to do that. You sound like a good person, I wish you all the best.

soulkid Fri 01-Jul-11 23:15:50

@maleview70 - yes I was unfaithful, I take full responsibility that what I did was wrong, i did betray my partner and will be eternally sorry for that.

@riverboat - thank you for your kind post. I have thought that he might be having a revenge fling, or trying to balance the position between us. I have been expecting it I suppose, and I would forgive him, I'd understand. Anything to get us through to the other side so that we can start re-building and enjoying our lives again.
I do think there is someone else on the scene, my gut has been telling me for a while, but he denies it and says he would never do that to someone and would leave them first before pursuing (which makes me think that is why he's leaving me).
Another odd thing he said was, before we started the break, he said "if this doesn't go the right way, we've always got to stay good friends, we need to live in the same area, keep our son at the same school, but it will be hard when one of us finds a new partner in 2-3 months" 2-3 months????? This just sounded a bit convenient for me. But I could be reading stuff into it.

Yes I think you're right - 3 weeks apart isn't that long in the grand scheme of things - but he will say he's been going through this for a year. I think its been on the rocks for the few months since february. And because we've only just started telling family now what we are going through, they think we have only been in trouble for 3 weeks.

Hmm, I think Maleview got it about right - you thought of him as your soulmate but I think he rather thought of you as 'will do for now'. Your wonderful soulmate actively sabotaged your career or at least tried to. Then he ignored you until you had an affair. Then he rubbed your nose in it.
Oh he's not a monster villain or anything, but please don't think of him as a god-like figure you are unworthy of. He's just a man, and there are other men out there.

UnhappyLizzie Fri 01-Jul-11 23:24:45

Sorry, you sound so sad. He sounds torn and confused. You can't push I don't think. Counselling might help you resolve all this, but not if you can't get him to go. Is there anyone else in his life you could enlist as an ally? MIL, sister, brother, etc?

Whether an outsider thinks your 'fling' was unfaithfulness or not is a non-issue - people define the parameters of faithfulness in their own relationships, anything else is just a pointless argument about semantics. It's annoying when you bare your soul and someone comes out with two meaningless lines like that, isn't it?

You paint a very rosy picture of your relationship in your first paragraph, but things have been quite complicated, haven't they? Quite a lot of adjustments to make and things to negotiate re work, child, etc. Also the hurt and issues around marriage for you.

It doesn't sound as if, despite appearances, he really processed and got over your EA. It also sounds as if a lot of the issues are around work - both your work - this is where you have found other people you have got involved with. And there's been a fair bit of flipping of priorities - your career vs his career, child vs job, child vs partner, etc. It all sounds quite disruptive.

I can't give you any answers, but your posts have provoked a few thoughts. Him not being prepared to go to counselling is worrying and sounds ominous for having a future together. Also it's possible to be devastated a relationship has ended without wanting to stay in it.

I've never been with someone who's had an affair (as far as I know!) but a lot of people on here have, and have good radar for it. Do you think his OW is definitely completely off the scene? He sounds like he's holding back somehow, from trying to make it work, or opening up and really talking to you about why it's failed (if it has). It rings a few alarm bells and I can't help wondering if she is still a factor. It might have just been a tit for tat, and meaningless, or it might have made him feel shit about himself that he did that, and he's punishing you for somehow delivering him into the hands of this woman by your own behaviour. Not saying that's how I see it at all, but that might be what's going on with him. He might have been in love with her, and wished he wasn't, and blamed you for his vulnerability to those feelings.

Sorry if none of that makes sense. It does seem like a really complicated set of circumstances to unravel for you. You sound like a nice person, and I hope that you will be able to resolve all this.

Your OM sounds like a complete arsehole, btw. I really sympathise, I had an OM who had a completely toxic effect on my life and marriage and I am still dealing with the fallout.

UnhappyLizzie Fri 01-Jul-11 23:28:08

Just clicked 'post message' and then saw the other posts. Seems we are on the same page about a few things.

Saffysmum Sat 02-Jul-11 05:52:05

Yes maleview, of course you're right - it was an affair. OP, I think we are all thinking the same thing here in a way. You seem to put him on a pedestal, and although I think that couples should always confront problems with their partner before having an affair, and that an affair never offers a solution, just makes things worse, I can understand that you needed affection and attention. Thanks for answering my questions, your point about not having a voice says it all really. You have felt undervalued by this man, and because of your guilt have taken all the blame. But he has to share this blame too. I think he's punishing you and perhaps taking advantage of your guilt over your earlier affair (if that makes sense).

I'd let him go, and think about what you want. Use the time to concentrate on yourself. Most of all forgive yourself. Take as long as you need and take back control. You've done all you can. He now has to decide what he wants. Crucially though, if you spend time alone, use it to decide what you want. Enough dwelling on the past, you have to move on, and you may decide and surprise yourself by realising that you're happier without him.

WellIShouldNever Sat 02-Jul-11 06:11:13

Once someone in a relationship strays, whether it be a one night stand or a full on affair, the realtionship is over. No going back. You would not have looked at another man if you was really truly with your soulmate. Sorry to sound harsh, but it's true. Move on, take some time for your self, be kind to your partner what ever happens, it wasn't him that strayed.
Maybe he stuck around for your child? And has now realsied that life is too short for that sort of sacrafice. You can't blame him , if it was teh other way around, would you have stuck at it for a year or so?
Sorry and good luck.

soulkid Sat 02-Jul-11 07:47:29

Hi everyone
Thanks for your advice, it really is kind of strangers to take some time and share their thoughts about my situation. Its so complicated and my head is filled with so much stuff at the moment, I'm having trouble processing what's going on. It's just helpful to get an objective set of views.
My mum and aunty are convinced that there is someone else on the scene, and think his pride has been hurt and someone else is doing a good job of boosting his ego. One of my friends who is going through a similar situation thinks I just need to give him time. I think I think a mixture of everything which I've read on here. That you all have slightly different views, albeit with a similar theme, kind of gives me a bit of hope that there still is a lot to resolve and that has probably gone unsaid.

Yes I do put him on a pedestal, when we met he was my perfect guy and I so look up to him and love our time together (last few months excepted). I know a relationship is a two-way street as well, and I shouldnt blame myself for its complete breakdown - I truly think that what I know about my partner, myself, the 8 years we've had together and the future plans we were making until very recently in fact, meant that if we'd both tried our absolute best we would have stood a chance of getting through.

So now I'm in this funny limboland - partner is living in a mixture of hotels and with his parents, I'm living at home with my son who doesn't know whats going on yet, hoping against hope that his daddy will see sense and come home and re-build with us before we have to tell him whats going on. None of the school mums and dads who we are friends with know. We have an enormo-house with a major mortgage, debt and 8 years of memories, hopes and dreams to deal with.
Its tough, I cry all the time. I'm listening to positive thinking hypnotherapy at the moment to try to get myself through each day.
Thanks again everyone, I'll let you know how I get on over the next few days and weeks.
x

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