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My feelings about how we got together are an issue

(41 Posts)
staircased Sun 07-Aug-11 01:13:05

H and I got together when I was 21. I was the 'other woman' - he was 26, lived with his girlfriend (she has mental health issues and didn't leave the house much). They had an 'open' relationship and much history including her getting pregnant by another guy (she terminated). I knew her so know that stuff is true btw, which isn't to say he didn't spin the usual.

He told me he didn't love her, they hadn't had sex for eight months, her violence terrified him, he was worried about what she'd do if he left her blahblahblah. All true so far as it went but now, 10 years later, I look back and think 'so why didn't you leave her then? How was cheating on her better?' I had been specifically vetoed, in terms of the openness btw.

Despite my typical-OW defensiveness initially, I quickly realised what a horrible cow I was being and told him I had no respect for him (after she found out, he handled that typically too), and never wanted to see him again.

He spent two years trying to convince me he'd changed and loved me and showed with actions he thought about the world differently and here we are with three DC and, typically, I could trot out lots of 'oh he's an amazing husband and father' shit - he is.

But. Over the years I've had a series of enlightening moments, many right here on this board. And in many ways H is still the entitled arse he was then. I doubt he'd cheat on me in the way he cheated with me, because he couldn't justify it to himself, but he has zero contrition or regret about the way we got together. He says 'how can I regret it when we're so happy and the DC so perfect'.

Yeah well I have a bad taste in my mouth. I hate what I did but have worked hard and am genuinely a better person now. H isn't. He's the same guy. He is also a huge entitled wanker when it comes to sex and I'm thinking hmmm.

I can't make him see the light I think I've seen. He's a lot better wrt his attitudes to rape, m/f 'roles', etc (previously he held the usual wanky views we see so often on here), but i think his major regret about our affair is that I keep going on about it.

I doubt I have a leg to stand on with this given my own history but they say the best way to know what will happen in the future is what happened in the past and how furious with myself will I be if I'm sitting here all muggy in a few years when he's done the same thing again?

Essentially he's still the same wanky person. I see 'she got the booby prize' re OWs and I used to think oh not me, H is different, that was ages ago, we were so young, she was horrible, he loves me, he lives for the DCs.

But unless he feels shit about it I think maybe he is a booby prize. His attitudes to how women are percieved and treated have changed but his attitude to himself hasn't, he could roll his eyes along with me at the cheating partner script but still think in HIS case, back then, it was justified.

He says I should leave it and it's not relevant to our lives now. Maybe he's right.

cathkidstonbag Sun 07-Aug-11 09:40:32

Ok I'm confused - they had an open relationship, she got pg by someone else. They weren't married, didn't have DCs. Right?
Have to say I can't really understand your guilt. It sounds like he was genuinely in a bad relationship and yes in an ideal world he should have been out of it before he met you but ideal doesn't always exist.
It sounds like you are unhappy with your relationship and using this as the reason but I don't think it is the reason.

FabbyChic Sun 07-Aug-11 09:47:02

I'm sorry but I fail to see where you are coming from, you talk about him etc., yet you say nothing of yourself who knew when you got with him he was living with someone else, you knew he had a girlfriend but it did not stop you opening your legs and seeing him did it. And now you doubt him after ten years together?

You have an exclusive relationship they did not, they were very young and had an open relationship so therefore it was acceptable for him or her to see other people, you knew this you were told this and were happy with it.

Ten years down the line you question it? yet you do not question your part in being the other woman?

Madness. Clearly something has cropped up in your lives that now makes you doubt him and question ten years ago.

My advice is to let it be and sort out your relationship before the past bites you on the arse and ruins your happy ever after.

BestNameEver Sun 07-Aug-11 09:49:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I think the way you get together can always leave a bad taste in your mouth. My husband had a crush on my 'best friend' in 6th form college and our relationship stemmed from him getting drunk one night and taking advantage of my feelings for him to indulge in some fun... the fact that after the event we went on to have a wonderful, romantic, passionate and eventually stable relationship/marriage with 3dcs doesn't take away my own disappointment at how it all begun. You can never change that. Best not to think about it really - I don't think men think the same as we do, don't dwell on the hows and whys so much as we women. If he is happy with you and the kids and what you have built together, and you genuinely don't think he would cheat on you, then try to let go of where it all began, as it is only you it is hurting :-)

staircased Sun 07-Aug-11 15:02:27

Thanks for responses. He wasn't worth going after and that bothers me - I thought he was at the time (obviously), and like a typical OW thought my feelings for him in some way mitigated what I was doing. Their bad relationship doesn't excuse his cheating, he should've finished with her and he didn't because he didn't want the hassle. So he can't've wanted me that much, hey.

I don't like the person I was then but can genuinely say I am not that person and would never ever do that now. And I'd think someone acting like H did was pathetic.

A lot of what I did initially was romanticising the situation. I love the life we have now but H is essentially the same person and thinks the way he acted was fine, which makes me wonder.

ZZZenAgain Sun 07-Aug-11 15:08:05

I think I would try and leave the past behind me since you have 3 dc together and you have said he has changed in many ways since you got together, is a good husband and a good father. You cannot make someone feel remorse forthe way he behaved in the past and I think if you keep bringing it up, all he will do is block it and not want to know.

That the sexual side of your relationship is atm a problem for you, is something else I think and not really related to how you met.

RumourOfAHurricane Sun 07-Aug-11 15:16:56

Message withdrawn

TeamDamon Sun 07-Aug-11 15:24:45

I think you do need to address the fact that you don't seem to love your DH.

staircased Sun 07-Aug-11 15:42:56

Oh I love him to bits. For all the reasons I did at first - he's gorgeous and funny and sexy and my best friend. But the guy I fell in love with was also a cheating wanker and it's hard, when I've changed so much, to see him excusing himself rather than taking responsibility. I wonder how he'd cope if we had a big issue.

unavailable Sun 07-Aug-11 15:55:33

OP I find your posts very confusing.

You say you "love him to bits", but also refer to him as "not having been worth it" and him being the "same wanky person".

If you are happy with him and have been together for 10 years why are you concerned about this now?

What are you really asking here?

deste Sun 07-Aug-11 15:56:04

But the guy I fell in love with was also a cheating wanker . You were also as bad, you knew he was cheating but you went along with it. Some people know they were wrong but wont admit it. You have obviously changed and realise you did wrong, he probably also knows but is too proud to admit it. Time to let it go because if you cant you are setting yourself up to create problems in the future.

garlicbutter Sun 07-Aug-11 16:03:56

You seem to be saying that you were both young, selfish and rather cruel in those days. Since then you've both grown up some, have improved yourselves and have built a successful marriage. Which is all good, but you feel you've matured and improved quite a bit more than he has. You regret the hurt you caused and know you wouldn't do it again - it seems he would.

Now, if you mean he really would - that, if things got sticky between you, he might be happy to cheat - then you've got a valid issue with the way you met, and this issue is causing you insecurity. But if you mean you're reviewing the person you are now (much better) alongside the man he now is (somewhat better) - and finding the mismatch unpleasant - then your issue's more about compatibility than a specific insecurity.

Hope you see what I mean!? Either way, harping on about the events of the past won't help you. The way you met seems to be symbolising something important to you. Rather than fixate on the past, you'd be better off figuring out exactly what it means to you, then addressing that. Whether you're able to do this by yourself, I don't know. It might be worth getting a bit of counselling for guidance.

ameliagrey Mon 08-Aug-11 13:36:28

Are you still reading OP?

If so, what puzzles me and everyone else is this:

You call your DH a cheater but when you met him he was barely- from your account- in a relationship! He defined it as open and both he and the woman he lived with behaved as if it were.

Either the relationship was open or it wasn't. Either he was saying that to allow him to play away, or with hindsight you have begun to think it wasn't as open as he made out.

His then partner's infidelity doesn't automatically mean they had an open relationship- it just shows she was unfaithful, and the same could apply to him.

If however it was openly acknowledged that they could date other people and move on if they wanted to, then why are you feeling guilty?

Could you be making the classic mistake of wanting to burden him with the guilt you feel, so you both end up equally "guilty".

People leave all kind of relationships for all kinds of reasons. What your DH had with this other woman does not sound as if it was worth saving anyway- whether you were in the picture or not.

Like everyone else who has replied, either you are keeping something back from us here, or your feelings have changed towards your DH and you are looking for a hook to hang them on. Just be honest with yourself.

springydaffs Mon 08-Aug-11 14:34:51

Hang on a minute, feelings don't necessarily make sense, didn't you guys know??

though tbh what you have said makes perfect sense to me. Relationships - indeed, people - are complicated. You have grown up a lot, you are ashamed of the past, embarrassed that you got swept along in a romantic whoosh and believed all the hype at the time. You don't believe it now and that moves the goalposts, the security - you don't believe that that grand passion was all it was cooked up to be; which threatens the bedrock of your union - it was, after all, how you got together. What is troubling you is that DH hasn't had the same awakening, is still believing the hype and the shit, whereas you can see through it. You want a full repentance from him, a full taking responsibility. But it isn't forthcoming and you are feeling uneasy. So far, so understandable.

there is something grubby about going off with somebody else's partner (even with the details, which eases it a lot I would've thought). You're just coming to terms with that. I do know that feeling when you look at your partner and go ewwww because you can see what a shit they are. I think that's par for the course tbf - I think men have blindnesses that women find abhorrent. I would have thought that you also wonder, in the recesses of your heart, whether he would do the same again, as he hasn't taken any responsibility for it the first time, he hasn't had that awakening that says 'That was wrong'.

A lot to think about. You may be just coming to terms with all that and you have to pass through it to get out the other side. Imo, there's a consequence to things, however long it takes. It may be that when you get out the other side you will start to re-evaluate your relationship and see it as based on your history together, the long, loving and enduring relationship you've had since the dramatic start. You will probably start believing in that as the most important thing, rather than believing in the passionate beginning as the glue of your relationship. iyswim (hope I've made sense!)

PeppermintPasty Mon 08-Aug-11 14:44:05

It sounds like you're fed up with him now, ten years later, and think he's a wanker, maybe questioning why you're with him etc. One thing, what do you mean about being an entitled wanker when it comes to sex? Do you mean he believes he's entitled to it whenever/however etc, or something else. Sorry for thicko question.

ameliagrey Mon 08-Aug-11 14:51:42

There is some truth in what you say Springy but surely the relationship he was in was so dire and he was presumably there simply because he couldn't be bothered to move on, that it's not as if either he or the OP broke up a solid marriage with children?

I think what the OP needs to work on is acceptance. In her own mind she maybe did wrong, with hindsight, but it's too late to turn back the clock etc etc.

What she must not do is make her problems his- ie expect him to share her guilt in some way to assuage hers.

She can walk around wearing a sack cloth if she wants, but at some stage she has to get out of it and live the life she now has without looking back- irrespective of how she came by it.

springydaffs Mon 08-Aug-11 15:18:17

There are all sorts of whys and wherefores. Say, she (ex) could've said that, because she couldn't do the sex thing, and because she couldn't go out, he could play away [but to keep it from her]. Could be. Mind you, that puts the kibosh (still don't know how to spell that) on her getting pg with someone else. Whatever way, clearly some bad blood went down. DH probably put a slant on it to assuage his guilt - and he's still believing it. That's what's causing OP to feel uncomfortable and to think 'what a shit - doesn't he see what he did?'.

ameliagrey Mon 08-Aug-11 16:47:10

yes, BUT I can't get overly worked up over this, because youknow what- what he did is not really that terrible, in the grand scheme of things. Not to me anyway. he left a bad relationship when he was young, not married and no kids. His ex was from what we are told, a domestic abuser who got herself PG with another man.

He needed a push- ie the OP- to be able to make the break.

I'm sorry, I know it hurts to be left, whatever the circumstances, but very few of us get through life without being hurt, or hurting another person.

I think OP that your DH is spot on- this belongs in the past and meeds to be left there.

If you want to discuss your guilt, have some counselling sessions, but please stop asking him to feel guilty just to make you feel better.

staircased Mon 08-Aug-11 17:58:30

It was an open relationship but I was specifically vetoed which was a 'clause' they'd agreed to respect on both sides. So she told him he wasn't to do anything with me and he did anyway - that makes it cheating. She had more extra-curricular partners than he did but that's beside the point really. Their relationship was awful but he should've left. I think that's where I get hung up - they didn't really like or respect each other yet he didn't have the balls to end it properly and cheated instead. Or put another way, if he liked me so much why not find the courage to end it properly. He knew I was infatuated with him and a lot of what happened was him taking advantage of that.

The balance shifted after I dumped him but the older I get the less I understand that whole period.

His attitude to sex and our current issues there are linked - I spent a long time thinking I was massively lucky to have him and the fact it was him (plus my lack of sexual experience, I was a very young 21), meant that I thought our sex was the bees knees. But now I don't think the sun shines out of his arse anymore and my sexual preferences are different post-DCs and I feel more secure in myself, I've taken a look at my attitude to sex and his and there's some quite deep-rooted dysfunction there.

He is struggling with it taking more effort for me to be satisfied (ie any), and seems to resent that. His attitude is quite childish.

I'm feeling that we're moving into the next phase of our lives and keen to address nascent issues now so we don't end up in a bad situation some years down the line. Part of that is reassessing the bedrock of our relationship and that seems a bit dodgy tbh. I can't keep thinking I'm lucky to have 'gotten' him or whatever if the guy he was then wasn't worth it.

Whether the guy he is now is worth it is something else and I think he is, but I need to let go of thinking I'm an infatuated child and he's a god of some kind. Seeing the Grand Passion of our relationship from the other side or as a series of cliches is a shock.

ameliagrey Mon 08-Aug-11 18:12:37

I urge you to find a good counsellor and talk all of this through. Why? Because your morality radar is skew whiff.

Look back to the relationship he had- ask yourself why his ex should veto you? I'm sorry but in my 50-odd years on this planet I cannot see the sense in having an "open relationship" which has conditions!

Can you not see the stupidity of that situation- okay she said, go out and have sex with other women, but not THAT OW!
Is that fair? His ex by your own admission had MH issues and was violent. Does that not tell you anything about the arrangements they concocted?

However, more to the point- do you believe human beings are perfect? Are you expecting your DH to behave perfectly all the time? Do you set him higher standards than you set yourself? Is he not allowed to have made mistakes? Can you not forgive what you now see as a mistake- i.e. his leaving his ex for you?

Given that they were not married, they were young and all the rest- why do you keep beating him and yourself up over it now FGS?

You were little more than a child TBH at 21.

I really do think that you are somewhat disillusioned with him, maybe because the sex is not working? If you are, then you need to focus on that and decide where you go next.

But stop trying to blame him all the time for your own unhappiness. That's what you are doing, you know.

staircased Mon 08-Aug-11 18:23:59

Nah, quite the opposite. I've put the responsibility for the success/happiness of our relationship on me and H has been the hapless child-man who needs direction.

It doesn't matter how screwed up his previous relationship was, he was complicit in their set-up, he agreed to everything, it suited him to stay. Fwiw I've heard of a lot of non-monogamous relationships with power of veto built in.

I've never blamed H for anything, always myself - and I'm just now realising that wasn't (isn't), fair or healthy for anyone.

ameliagrey Mon 08-Aug-11 19:05:11

Sorry but your posts don't follow.
If you blame yourself, why did you say several posts back that you wanted him to feel the guilt etc as well?

I really, really am having a problem following what your issue is here.

It came across at first as you suddenly feel guilty many years on, for being the OW, and resenting the fact that your DH does not share that guilt.

What exactly is it that's bugging you? It does seem to be several things and you need to separate them out.

You do sound as if you no longer really like him or care for him. yes?

staircased Mon 08-Aug-11 19:22:23


I can't see where I said I wanted him to feel guilty? I want him to take responsibility. Have taken, even. I don't really feel guilty and never have - his ex was personally horrible to me long before he and I started anything and she spent five years afterwards going on about us to everyone she met. Plus it's difficult to regret something with such positive consequences (this is H's argument).

But he thinks what he did was fine. He didn't like her, he fancied me, he didn't want the hassle of breaking up with her nor of starting something 'proper' with me (not until it was that or nothing), and to him that's fine.

I can say well, we were young and stupid. I know I'd never get involved in such a toxic situation again. H says well, she was horrible.

Now we've hit a little (I hope), bump along the way - an opportunity to forge new heights of physical intimacy, maybe. But not for him, he's flailing around saying I'm rejecting him by wanting physically satisfying sex for both of us.

He's a great father but we've genuinely never had a serious issue in our relationship as a couple and he hasn't moved on from the thought patterns which he had as a horrible 26 year old and I probably facilitated that. But he's not interested in growing/changing as a person - which disappoints me. No idea what happens now but he's not the prize I thought he was back then. It's a shock when you realise something so central is faulty thinking.

You say 'blame' and 'guilt' but that's a bit emotive - I mean responsibility.

ameliagrey Mon 08-Aug-11 19:47:47

You said this" but he has zero contrition or regret about the way we got together."

what IS it that you want him to feel- and why?

Okay, suppose he wears a hair shirt and feels remorse. Then what?

What will that change day to day? Anything?

You have conveniently ignored my points about are you expecting him to be perfect.

You colluded in the deceit. You could have walked away but no, you encouraged him, or were at least passive until he made the break.

Why does it matter so much to you that he left his ex for you?

This is really all about your guilt, and the crap sex.

If you have made a mistake by marrying him then face that.

Stop looking for other reasons for your unhappiness with him and be honest.

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