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Need to leave but so, so scared

(39 Posts)
HeKilledMyClematis Fri 10-May-13 16:01:08

Not sure what advice I'm after really. Maybe just to talk to others who have been through similar.

I need to leave my husband (married 7 years, together 12). He has a history of compulsive sexual 'acting out', mostly online/text sex (including use of paid services). He has had profiles on dating/casual sex websites. Last year I found out about some inappropriate texts to a female colleague and most recently he's paid for private dances on a business trip. He has been through a very expensive, intensive therapy programme as he seemed to really, really want to stop ? although only because he thought I was going to leave him. I was going to leave, but I gave him a final chance because he seemed so committed to this therapy. He says he has not acted out for about a year (which was when I found out about the texts to a colleague, and was ready to leave), but then he came home from a work trip and told me about these private dances. He told me, without being prompted, because I have told him in the past that it is the lies which do the most damage. He thinks because he told me the truth straight up this time, there's no problem. He doesn't seem to see this as 'acting out' and thinks there's 'nothing wrong with it', mostly because he has colleagues who do this. I disagree. I appreciate him being honest, but a) I suspect there is still a lot he is/has not been honest about (I don't think I will ever get a full disclosure, he's ashamed of some of the things he's done and is an expert in self-denial), and perhaps more to the point, b) I think this means we have irreconcilably different beliefs about what counts as fidelity and commitment in a relationship. This, rather than whatever he did with some stripper, is the dealbreaker for me. Needless to say, if he had been totally honest about his views on this before we got married, I wouldn't have married him. I'm not into moralising, I appreciate people can have different views on fidelity and relationships. I've had a really good go at adjusting to his views and living with them, but I don't think it can ever work for me.

After giving him a final chance last year, I said I would give it a year. We have had some good times over the year. But I spend a lot of time fending off intrusive thoughts, wondering about who he?s done what with behind my back, who he might be talking to on his blackberry, whether he compares my (post- two big babies) body with the other women he's been with. When the thoughts come it gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I need to leave because I can?t stand living with that feeling any more.

So it should be simple - I should just leave.

But I'm scared for 3 reasons.

1)In almost all other respects we have always had a very good relationship. I have many happy memories with him. We're very close (although I admit, I feel the lying has tarnished this). Every night we go to sleep with our arms around each other. He tells me he loves me daily and I believe he means it (he compartmentalises and separates sex from love). Our sex life has always been good, weirdly, never badly affected by whatever else he has been doing elsewhere. I'm going to miss him and the intimacy we share, terribly. It really is like losing a friend (even though, I know he has not always treated me with the respect that a friend deserves). I'll be very lonely without him. I've loved him such a long time and we've grown into each other so much. I don't know if I'll ever feel this way about another person - it's a very big gamble.

2)He thinks his views are normal and that I won't find another man who thinks more like I do. He thinks this is just what men do ? that seems to be what his friends tell him. What if he's right? Perhaps I do need to just accept his view that what matters is that he always comes home to me. Perhaps I will leave only to find that every other man I meet does the same thing. My first long-term boyfriend also cheated.

3)I?m also scared because of the practical side. I have 2 very small children (2½ and 4 months - DD conceived as a result of some very ill judged hysterical bonding, but I don't regret her for a minute). At the moment I have no income other than MA. I'm busting a gut looking for a job (have just finished a PhD) but there is no way I can maintain our current lifestyle. We are not lavish but we have huge outgoings (mortgage, nursery fees) - H is a high earner but I will not be, especially working part-time. I do not want to depend on him for vast maintenance payments even if he is willing to make them. I know that I am much, much better than he is at being frugal but I just can't get the figures to add up - rents and house prices are very high where we live (and I really want to stay here for many reasons, including support networks). I'm just so scared that I'm spoiling my kids' futures because we will have to live in a tiny flat with at best a tiny garden, out of the catchment areas of the good schools, etc. I realise a nice house and good nurseries and schools are privileges - for myself, I don't care. But is it right to deprive my kids of these things just because I'm unhappy in myself, because I can't reconcile myself with my husband having his cake and eating it? After all he is a good father. He does loads of the domestic work and the kids adore him. I feel like I'm putting myself first, above them.

I want to do the right thing, but there doesn't seem to be a path which doesn't involve someone being hurt. Thanks for reading if you made it this far. I think I just needed to write it all down.

AnyFucker Fri 10-May-13 16:08:06

What is this phrase "acting out" ? Do we really apply it to grown men ? confused

He won't stop, love.

Accept that and stay, and have regular Sti checks

Or rediscover your self respect and tell him his chances have finally run out. You have given him far too many already

Enough now

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 10-May-13 16:17:57

1. Saying that, apart from the history of chronic sexual tomcatting, you have a good relationship is like saying that, apart from killing his patients, Harold Shipman was a good doctor. One does not compensate for the other.
2. What he thinks is normal is immaterial. People with all kinds of bad behaviour traits kid themselves it's entirely normal and everyone does it..... 'Everyone gets blind drunk at the weekend'... 'Everyone tells racist jokes at the pub'... 'Everyone watches porn and stuffs tenners down pole-dancers' G-strings'. What matters is what you define as acceptable, not the mythical 'everyone'. If this isn't acceptable then that's a serious difference of opinion that you can't live with.
3. Don't be trapped in an unhappy life by something as transient as money. Better to be happy in a cardboard box than miserable in a five-storey mansion.

SingingSilver Fri 10-May-13 16:30:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kotinka Fri 10-May-13 16:35:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CheerfulYank Fri 10-May-13 16:37:38

I disagree with Silver. I think you have
already tried, honey. Enough's enough.

And no, all men do not do this.

AnyFucker Fri 10-May-13 16:39:28

Yes, I have heard the phrase

I think it is enabling bollocks, personally

Windingdown Fri 10-May-13 16:39:37

He isn't right. This isn't "just what men do".

Some men never do it. Some men do it once, but when they see the hurt it causes they reflect and stop. Some men do it, ignore the hurt it causes and continue to do it.

You say you need to leave....and I think you know you're right.

I really dont feel qualified or experienced enough to advise you on the whole post. My gut says you should leave but then I totally understand how daunting that seems and why you are reluctant.

However I can comment on this part

2)He thinks his views are normal and that I won't find another man who thinks more like I do. He thinks this is just what men do ? that seems to be what his friends tell him. What if he's right? Perhaps I do need to just accept his view that what matters is that he always comes home to me. Perhaps I will leave only to find that every other man I meet does the same thing. My first long-term boyfriend also cheated.

All men are not like this. A lot of men cheat, women too, but his behaviours are not normal or acceptable. When he married you he took a vow to remain faithful to you. He hasnt stood by that.

Him saying that you wont find a man who isnt like him is nonsense. He is trying to rationalise and normalise his behaviour by saying that. The "therapy" he went through seems to be another way hes doing this. Most people would view his behaviour as perfectly controllable, yet he has you believing it requires therapy.

Personally I would rather be alone than with a man who behaved like this.

kotinka Fri 10-May-13 16:46:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Enabling bollocks is putting it much better grin

hellsbellsmelons Fri 10-May-13 16:50:14

Your thread title says it all - you NEED to leave.
Of course you are scared and you will get loads of good advice on here as to how you do that.
You find this unacceptable as would most people.
His behaviour is NOT normal and don't let him convince you otherwise.
Keep posting.

Finola1step Fri 10-May-13 16:57:43

I'm another one adding to the get out now voice.

You've done everything you can, he hasn't. You gave him one last chance, he blew it but thinks its ok because he told you before he found out.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 10-May-13 17:05:48

You'd be far better off as a lone parent to your children.

He is patently neither a good father (a lot of women in such poor relationships often write that comment as well purely because they themselves have nothing positive to write about their man) or H to you if he is treating you, and by turn the children, like this.

This man you're with is poison and is now just dragging you down with him. It may well be that if you were to examine the "good times" as well you would find that the frequency of same has markedly decreased and that they were not actually very good at all.

What do you want to teach your children about relationships; surely not this dysfunctional role model?.

I would also have counselling to work on your own self esteem and worth; your last boyfriend also cheated.

mummytime Fri 10-May-13 17:05:59

Don't give him all the money. He has earnt some of that because you took care of the children. You also have to get enough money to look after them.

Go and get yourself a good lawyer, and if you don't fight for the money for you, then do it for the children. Because whatever he says now, if he re-marries and has a second family, he may totally change his tune. Don't forget that University is going to cost your children a lot of money probably.

Leverette Fri 10-May-13 17:08:45

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

killerrobot Fri 10-May-13 17:10:31

What wannabedomesticgoddess said.

And agree about the enabling bollocks as well. Calling stuff 'acting out' is basically denying your dh agency... he is an adult not a child, these are choices he is making and he is plenty aware of the consequences of his actions because this is not the first time this issue has come up.

Maybe if you left him he might really reflect on his behaviour and attitudes and realise what a fool he has been, but you can't expect that.

I found reading your description of your marriage quite moving, you are going to be giving up a lot of good things in this relationship, and he is your children's father.

I wish I could change him for you; it's not easy being on your own.

Do you think you know how he will react if you ask to separate? Do you think he will be reasonable, co-operative?

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 10-May-13 17:20:39

" Give him the respect of treating him like a grownup, not a naughty little boy"

WTF? The OP need to show him respect? Are you for real? How about he starts behaving like a responsible grown-up with a family and make a bit of effort to keep his family together rather than following his cock everywhere like some priapic will-o-the-wisp? How about he earns the bloody respect.

AnyFucker Fri 10-May-13 17:26:07

No, no, cog, don't you know men deserve respect they don't have to earn it.

I don't respect a man like this, and I don't see why anyone else should have to either. It makes not a jot of difference if he was the father of my children. It's easy to insert your cock and impregnate someone...takes a bit more guts and integrity to be a decent partner.

MothershipG Fri 10-May-13 17:49:36

I want to do the right thing, but there doesn't seem to be a path which doesn't involve someone being hurt.

Someone already has been hurt, and that's you and you matter too! Further more he knows his behaviour hurts you but still tries to justify it. If he loved and respected you as he should it wouldn't matter what other men may tell him is ok, he wouldn't do it because he wouldn't want to hurt you.

What I get from your post is that although you are sad and scared you know that you need to leave but you are concerned about the effect on your children. They are his children too, he is a high earner, if he is even a slightly good father he will not want his children to suffer adversely due to his completely unacceptable behaviour and will contribute accordingly. If he doesn't then he isn't the great father you think he is and you are all better off not living with him.

HeKilledMyClematis Fri 10-May-13 20:52:03

thanks for all these thoughtful, kind replies
can't post much, BF and one-handed typing
but will be back later or in the morning

FarBetterNow Fri 10-May-13 21:57:09

My XH was similiar.
I should have left after one particular incident when DC1 was 6 months old.
But we lived in a good area and I couldn't bear the idea of living on a rough estate in a rough town on benefits.
I couldn't move back in with DM & DF as they had problems.
I stayed for another 20 years and nothing changed.
He told me it was me who had the problem as his tomcatting behaviour was normal.

Now I wish I had been brave enough to have left, but I did also believe the 'for better and for worse, till death do us part' vows that I had made, so did think I just had to put up with it.

Best wishes to you whatever you decide.

SingingSilver Sat 11-May-13 14:16:13

I just wanted to come back and say that I would take my earlier post back if I could, after giving it some thought.

Your OH is acting like a 14 year old who just discovered what erections are for, and it's not down to you to compromise, put up with it, and try to work around his destructive behaviour. You deserve happiness. And your children deserve a more positive role model, they don't need to see you putting up with his crap because 'it's what men do'. That's bullshit. A good father does more than read bedtime stories, he makes sure he is not jeopardising the future happiness of his family.

So, I'm sorry for my kneejerk response yesterday. You haven't done anything wrong and you shouldn't have to stay in an 'okay sometimes' relationship if you can't trust the partner who is supposed to love you.

AnyFucker Sun 12-May-13 14:44:22

SS, that is pretty decent of you

I admit to finding that post rather jarring in the context of the information given on this thread and assumed you mustn't have read it all

You can ask HQ to withdraw your post if you like, by reporting it to them

SingingSilver Sun 12-May-13 15:52:58

I'm afraid I did read it all.. Unfortunately I'm still trying to change my inherited mindset that any issues in a marriage are for the woman to sort out. Not a theory that did me any good by the way!

I'm heading in the right direction but I'll be careful with my posts on the sensitive areas of the board, and I'll ask for my unhelpful post to be removed. Thanks!

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