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How do I forgive,

(98 Posts)
persephone2013 Mon 16-Dec-13 13:46:42

Some years ago I posted here about my dh whom I suspected of having multiple inappropriate relationships with several of his colleagues. He always denied and made me feel I was going mad. However, eventually the truth came out. Even faced with the e-mails he tried to deny, but was eventually obliged to concede. It seems he needed the excitement of these relationships which I am fairly sure fell short of sexual intercourse. I suspect too that he did not discuss our relationship. I think he pretended to be single. He claimed he was a good husband as he provided well financially. He thought that what I did not know would not hurt me. He is a person who needs constant stimulation and variety at all times. Most things bore him quickly, I fear that includes me. However he is kind to me in most other respects. MH was enormously supportive, but told me to LTB. Relate feared he would never really change and gently suggested I leave him. Worn down by years of the situation and with compromised health, I was too fragile to lose not only the marriage, but all our lovely couples based social life, our couples based hobbies, our couples based holidays, my home, my standard of living , the base we provided for our adult children etc... It was suggested both by Relate and MH that I rebuild my own life. This I have done. I have my own friends, a part-time job, hobbies etc. I was even able to ask my dh how he would feel if I behaved as he did. I asked him why only one of us could have inappropriate relationships. He was horrified at the prospect. He has certainly scaled down his behaviour. He would say stopped. Frankly I no longer much care. I am not so afraid of losing everything although I do not welcome it. However, I do feel resentment and bitterness and often react unkindly and irritably to him. I hate the way I sometimes react. I dislike what I find myself saying. How do you forgive? I am unlikely to forget, but I want to forgive, or at least not react in the way that I do.

persephone2013 Wed 18-Dec-13 13:15:24

The inappropriate relationships finally became undeniable once I had found e-mails. There had been indications for some time before, but they were always "explained away". I am sure all our children have a pretty good idea. My dh's transgressions are probably all in the past now. However, I would not nurse him if he became sick. I am not good at that sort of thing anyway. I rather suspect he would not want me to, either. He would hate being dependent on me. Contrary to what you feel, I think I have good self esteem and confidence, partly because I am so well thought of generally. I know it is my dh who has the character flaws and not me. I had an alcoholic parent, but even as a small child, I knew that person was flawed and behaving badly, and that even though the blame was often transferred to me, I simply did not accept that. My life isn't perfect, whose is? It is better than it was on and before discovery. I think the alternative at this stage of my life, could be worse, but I do have an open mind and I am open to all possibilities.

LadyLapsang Tue 17-Dec-13 23:13:44

OP I think you are wrong about nursing him were he ill /disabled. Imagine if he had a stroke tomorrow and in a few weeks the hospital discharged him, then what? You would feel it was your duty, after all he had provided for you etc. What would your children say, leaving their dad when he needed looking after; couldn't make him lose his home etc.

Remember your childen have a vested interest in some practical as well as emotional ways in you staying together. If you split they may have to do more caring as you both age and then there may be issues about property /inheritence, remarriages etc.

Ultimately it sounds like you will stay, it doesn't sound a great relationship but I'm sure you present a good front most of the time. But maybe you should see a solicitor and find out how you would stand financially if you did split up & remember pension sharing. Then make a decision from a position of strength. Also, perhaps it may be helpful for you to have some ongoing counselling on your own to think about your options.

Out of interest, how did these inappropriate relationships come to light?

FolkGirl Tue 17-Dec-13 22:37:38

Teeb is quite correct.

Self esteem is about how you feel about yourself. Not about how others perceive you.

And you perceive yourself very negatively.

I know in recent posts you've said you've started to see the light, but it will take more than this thread to undo the years of damage that have been done.

cjel Tue 17-Dec-13 21:11:36

I have just had my family around my table again this evening, all day saturday and in for lunch sunday. My home is still the hub of my family. My H just doesn't live here any more, There is more laughter no than there ever was because I'm not living with the pressure of H any more.

Meerka Tue 17-Dec-13 20:47:48

genuine question: are you quite sure your children don't know about their father's affairs?

Teeb Tue 17-Dec-13 20:45:32

I don't think I have low self esteem as my children and grandchildren love me and my employers and workmates all appreciate me.

Op, is that what self esteem means to you? You've listed how others perceive you in relation to your own personal value. It should be about you appreciating you.

MerryFuckingChristmas Tue 17-Dec-13 20:26:09

OP, do you think your H will stop being this wonderful and generous father if you end your marriage ?

CailinDana Tue 17-Dec-13 20:12:00

Fair enough. I'm glad you've been able to let go of your resentment. Do you think you'll talk to your DH about all this?

persephone2013 Tue 17-Dec-13 20:07:34

I have a job I love and am really very good at. My social life is very satisfying. I love my home and my many children do too. It is the hub of our family. I have time for my grandchildren. My marriage is the one and really the one and only disappointment in my life. My dh has faults as you know, but he did agree cheerfully to have far more children than he wanted, to live where I wanted and to happily support us all without any complaint. None of my children left University in debt, and he still helps them whenever they ask. They adore him faults and all. I don't think I have low self esteem as my children and grandchildren love me and my employers and workmates all appreciate me. There is only one "fly in the ointment", but he too is greatly loved by our family. Whether to go on accepting him warts and all, that is the dilemma. Compared to many people I have a good life. I have a long break over Christmas to think it all through. Thank you, you have made me see clearly for the first time. I shall certainly no longer feel bad about my resentment. I am so grateful for that.

JoinYourPlayfellows Tue 17-Dec-13 19:41:13

I guess the question you need to ask yourself is will you be a person you are happy to be if you continue to live with a misogynist who has treated you like shit for many years?

You don't enjoy the way you react to him. But your reactions are entirely reasonable.

You can't stop yourself from being irritated by and resentful of this man without submitting yourself for a lobotomy.

He's not a nice man.

Can you be a nice person while you share you life with him?

CailinDana Tue 17-Dec-13 19:13:07

That's great. It seems to me that your self esteem has been very low and but it is currently rising and that's why you are questioning your dh's actions and attitudes and beginning to see that you don't have to accept them. However I think you have some way to go as you still seem to doubt yourself quite a lot and feel you can't have a happy life on your own. Do you agree?

persephone2013 Tue 17-Dec-13 15:33:55

Some of what posters wrote didn't ring true for me. I don't think I have low self esteem at all now. I am confident and usually happy. But I see now that my dh sees women in general as inferior and as people who hold back men, tie them down, trap them. I see that he idiolises powerful men. Like hero worship for small boys. He always assumes that successful and powerful men have lots of women. I see now that he feels entitled, and that a woman who seeks to restrict his behaviour is to be ignored. I have finally worked this out, with lots of help from you. Knowledge if power, and I feel empowered.

FolkGirl Tue 17-Dec-13 15:18:33

The thing is, Persephone is that, yes, it is quite a sad story. But no where near as sad as the one you are living.

You could be that happy too. And if you really feel that you don't have time on your side, then surely, you also feel that you don't have a moment to lose or a second to waste.

Take care and be kind to yourself. x

CailinDana Tue 17-Dec-13 14:06:09

It must be hard to accept something so negative about your husband but in spite of that I'm glad you have. How are you feeling about the whole thing?

persephone2013 Tue 17-Dec-13 12:41:09

Folkgirl, that is a sad story, I am very pleased that you are happy now.

Thank you everyone for your wisdom. Last night, contemplating your posts, I had a "light bulb" moment. I realise now that my dh hates women. You're right I am less important than him, in his eyes not mine. All women are. I see it in his relationships with other family members.

Cjel, you are probably much younger than me. I am so glad it worked out for you. I fear that at my age, the alternatives are not attractive and time is not on my side. However, there is no way I would ever nurse him. I just could not sacrifice more of my life or be tied down for him. I am off work now until the New Year. Plenty of time to think this through. I am so grateful for all the wise posts.

FolkGirl Tue 17-Dec-13 09:12:04

Yes, I discovered my stbxh was looking on dating websites and kicked him out. I had no proof he'd actually met anyone. He cried and he begged and then his RL affair came out.

But at the point at which I kicked him out, I knew he'd logged into a dating website for married people and sent a few messages.

By your example, I should have 'forgiven' him for this. Why? It wouldn't have stopped him doing it!

And you only have his (untrustworthy) word for it that it didn't go as far as intercourse. My stbxh also said the same. I have no idea if it's true or not. Of him, I can believe it was, because I think he would also have been able to convince himself he was doing nothing wrong as long as it stopped short of PIV. But it's irrelevant really, he betrayed me mentally and emotionally. Physical fidelity is only 1/3 of it of the commitment he made to me when we married.

I'm so much happier now. I also thought I'd be isolated, that he'd have all the fun and I'd be left with nothing and no one. But it couldn't have been further from the truth. He had a breakdown, lost the respect of his friends and family, and I'm the happiest I've ever been.

I really want this for you too.

CailinDana Tue 17-Dec-13 09:09:08

Persephone, your feelings are normal. Totally normal. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling the way you do.

Somewhere along the way in life you learned that you don't really count as a person. That everyone else can be happy but your job is just to support them and avoid hurting them at all costs. To an extent that comes with motherhood, as your children's (rightly) come before yours, but your children aren't children any more, they're grown adults with their own lives and it is now time for you to start living as a person in your own right.

You behave in a "shrewish" way towards your husband because you know he doesn't respect you. You can't force yourself to be civil to someone who has hurt yourself so badly. The only way to achieve that is to entirely kill your own self worth and accept that you're not deserving of a faithful loving husband. It is good that you haven't done that, that you haven't entirely resigned yourself to be nothing. Since you've regained some of your confidence your inner self is fighting back and refusing to be dismissed so contemptuously. Listen to that inner self, she is the one who has your best interests at heart.

cjel Tue 17-Dec-13 08:47:40

I just wanted to say that I had counselling and started to recognise that I wasn't treated as I should have been in my marriage, but wasn't able to face and change it at the time. I came to the conclusion that I would build mylife and if we were together after that then that would be good, but if we weren't then that would be good as well.

I started to build my life and became more 'me' and 3 years into a 5 year college course to get my own career he got a girlfriend!! He had taken her out for 2 lunches and I left!!!

That was over 2 years ago and although its not been a party all the time, I have renovated my little house and come and go as I want. I have friends that I didn't have 2 years ago and am much more peaceful and haven't felt irritated and angry since I left him.

I have 2dcs and 5 dgcs. Were married 30 years, together 35 from the age of 17.
You can get rid of that last little bit of you that you don't like and its not too late at your age. You could have another 30 years of feeling like this otherwise?xx

MerryFuckingChristmas Tue 17-Dec-13 08:44:44

I guess it's true that if you stay with a philanderer for long enough he will eventually stop when the equipment starts to fail him

Imagine being this man's carer when his health deteriorates further. The resentment you feel now will turn to hate. I have seen this happen. Still some women feel this strange sense of responsibility to a man that has disrespected them for years and think they can swallow their disgust when they have to wipe his arse for him

Could you do that, and do it with love ?

Lweji Tue 17-Dec-13 08:44:06

It feels to me that you have lost your respect and your love for this man. That is why you react the way you do.
I really don't think you should work on that, because of something he has caused. He should be the one working on regaining the trust and the love. It may not be possible for you to have those back, in which case you need to consider what you really want to do. And he may need to be prepared to put up with your resentment.

FolkGirl Tue 17-Dec-13 08:22:11

Yes, you should have left him on discovery.

Whether he had considered the impact on your feelings or not is irrelevant really. He still betrayed you.

Do you think his behaviour would have been ok if you'd never found out about it? Obviously, you wouldn't have known and been hurt by it, but would his behaviour have been ok? Would it have been ok for for him to have done what he did?

Is that what a husband does?

What would you be saying to any daughter of yours if she'd come to you with the same story?

Would you have told her to suck it up, but on a brave face and forgive him for the sake of a comfortable lifestyle and some friendships?

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 17-Dec-13 08:00:35

If you don't like the person you are when you're with him why do you persist in seeing that as a failure in your personality? 'Shrewish' is a misogynistic word usually used by men about women who have opinions they don't like .... don't use it about yourself. You describe yourself as 'unkind' but why do you have to be 'kind' at all costs? Why is anger an emotion that everyone else on the planet can engage in legitimately but is uniquely off limits for persephone2013?

I've met a few people in my life that can take me from Easy Going Cog to Venom Spitting Cog simply by saying 'hello'... and, you know what, I don't spend a second longer with them than I have to. Life is too short to waste it being miserable when there are alternatives. You have alternatives.

persephone2013 Tue 17-Dec-13 07:46:23

CailinDana, you may well be right, but that's not quite as I see it. To me it seems he had considered the possible effect on me, but had decided there would be no effect on my feelings as I would not find out. He was wrong.

lookingfoxy, Yes that it exactly where I am. We are companions/friends/parents/grandparents. Because I have rebuilt my life, and it is now full and enjoyable (thanks to advice received on MN and from Relate) I was hoping to continue as I am, BUT to learn to accept dh as he is and not react in a shrewish manner to him. Which is something I do, particularly after a glass of wine. I like my current life, but I don't like the person I sometimes become towards him. I'm not unkind to anyone else. His behaviour, probably now all in the past, has turned me into someone I don't want to be. That is only at times of course, not all the time. I was originally seeking advice on how to overcome that. However I am grateful for all replies. I probably should have left him on discovery.

lookingfoxy Mon 16-Dec-13 23:01:39

Hi OP.
I think you could deal with this one of 2 ways.
Either you could accept your marriage and husband for the reality you now know it to be and remain as friends and companions to each other, if you want to do this I think you will need to grieve for what you thought you had and be able to move on from it.

Its obviously eating you up whats happened and will continue to which you have said yourself is making you angry and bitter and for your own sanity you will need to eventually leave your dh.

sorry if very concise but trying to type on a tablet is not my thing.

CailinDana Mon 16-Dec-13 22:44:33

As you see it, it's not that your husband doesn't care about your feelings, it's that it didn't even occur to him to consider your feelings in the first place. So would you agree that as I said earlier you're pretty much irrelevant to him?

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