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Emotional affair

(41 Posts)
TrustingGuy Mon 05-Jan-15 13:13:25

OK, hi. It's now exactly a month since I discovered my partner's emotional affair with an old school friend. The shock is still with me: wake up with a knot in my stomach every morning, still have the shakes intermittently and it almost ruined Christmas, but we've reached a point where we want to work together to heal things but I have the obvious trust issues. I searched for a men's forum but this seems to be the best. I love her deeply but will not live a lie or settle for second best. We have two teenage children. Anyone else going through this?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 05-Jan-15 13:29:39

Sorry you've had such a nasty shock. You don't - with respect - have 'trust issues', you have a partner you don't trust. Trust issues tend to be irrational and borne out of insecurity. What you're feeling is quite rational and reasonable in the circumstances.

What you're dealing with now is a pretty raw emotion and ideas like 'working together' and 'healing things' you'll find are much, much easier said than done. Most of the effort has to come from your DW. The environment in which she felt it was OK to behave this way has to be examined very honestly.... and there could be some painful revelations yet to come, of course. You may need outside intervention from a counsellor and rebuilding trust is going to take a lot longer than most appreciate.

And even after all that, you may still wake up with a knot in your stomach... because emotions tend not to take too much notice of effort and intention.

TrustingGuy Mon 05-Jan-15 14:33:48

Thanks, that makes me feel better. She seems much more together than me...don't know if that's normal. I've told her that I trust her implicitly (he lied) which I guess is away of giving her enough rope to prove me wrong. Don't know if that's wrong of me...

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 05-Jan-15 14:45:59

She's bound to be more 'together' because she's not the one that has had the nasty surprise. I don't know how long it went on for or how it was discovered, but she will have rationalised it as OK behaviour. That always puts you in the position of playing catch-up. That's just how it goes.

But listen to me now.... you are not going to achieve anything by lying about trusting her or cheap tricks like giving her enough rope to hang herself. Are you hoping she'll get back in touch with the OM and you catch her at it....? Is that your big plan? If there's any future in your marriage then you're both going to have to play it by the book. No more deception or game-playing. You really don't want to be the kind of guy that goes rifling through people's e-mails and browsing history. It's stressful, underhand and does nothing whatsoever to rebuild trust.

TrustingGuy Mon 05-Jan-15 15:16:44

Thanks. When i said 'I guess' I hadn't actually realised what I was doing. It was only in typing it out that I realised. I know that she wants me to say that I trust her (which I do to an extent) as she's always been eminently trustworthy in the past (until now). She could have rationalised it because she once found some emails between me and a OW (which were actually just banter...seriously) though her correspondence I found was actually planning a liaison.
I don't know how to tell her I don't trust her without hurting her (which is weird) but how can I right now?
They got back in contact last December (2013) at a school reunion. Then, when she visited another (housebound) friend in October she actually picked up the OM on the way (without telling me because, she says, I wouldn't have liked it though, at that point, it hadn't crossed the line into sex talk...which I believe).
I discovered it as she was acting strangely (going upstairs to message him, claiming she was on to the housebound friend, leaping up when I came in the room with a coffee etc.) so I checked her old phone that was still logged into Facebook so, yes, I discovered by snooping

gildedcage Mon 05-Jan-15 15:26:51

Cog is right. What do you plan to achieve by telling her that you trust her. If it is to catch her out then end it now, don't wait for further indiscretion.

You cannot trust someone who has already betrayed your trust. You need to be honest with your wife re your feelings as she needs to be aware of the consequences of her actions.

Ultimately trust is earned and she now has to work to earn it back. You both need to acknowledge however that you cannot return to how you were before because things have changed and your perception of her is bound to be different, she must realise this.

Perhaps you need an open discussion about boundaries, as you both appear to have been found lacking in this respect.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 05-Jan-15 15:35:07

You have to be honest. She's not been honest and the trouble with lying, as the Boy Who Cried Wolf discovered, is that even when she's telling the truth, it's not sounding credible. That whole thing about picking him up at a friend's house to give him a lift and not telling you because you wouldn't have liked it .. followed up with secret texting... are you telling me you really believe it was nothing more than giving the guy a lift? hmm

So be honest. You have to tell her that you don't trust her and you have to be clear that it's 100% her responsibility to fix. You didn't trust her when you checked her FB messages. You don't trust her now. You won't trust her for a long time to come. She was planning a(nother) hook-up and, if nothing had come to light, that's what she'd have done...

This is not the time to hold back. You're hurt and you need to be very honest about the way you feel. Suppress anything at this stage and, even if things appear to be back to normal, you will not only hate her you'll hate yourself.

TrustingGuy Mon 05-Jan-15 15:56:04

Thanks both. Actually I DO believe she was giving the guy a lift. Housebound friend is a mutual school friend who they both wanted to visit. I honestly believe that the messages crossed the sexual line after that (maybe late October/early November).
She also says she wouldn't have gone through with the tryst. I don't know about that but the reunion at which it was to happen didn't take place. I confronted her before then so I'll never know how far it would have gone. I no longer have any access to her FB so I HAVE to trust her (this has also shone a light on my suspicious nature and the ways I have to, she says, control her).

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 05-Jan-15 16:01:14

Would you say you had a suspicious nature? Are you in the habit of snooping? Are you insecure? Is your behaviour towards your DW (or others) controlling? Have things been feeling 'off' in your relationship in a way you couldn't put your finger on? If your DW was contributing to this thread and we asked her what you were like, how do you think she would describe you? Are there any recurring complaints that you are aware of?

There are always two sides to a story but cheats, when discovered, have a nasty habit of trying to put the blame on the other party. 'If you weren't so...x... I wouldn't have to have shagged... y...' etc.

TrustingGuy Mon 05-Jan-15 16:14:54

OK, honestly:
Yes I have a suspicious nature (I have snooped on her before, without discovery, though I wouldn't say it's a habit).
Yes, I am insecure (even before now)
Maybe, I'm controlling; I try and help her with technology (she's not very savvy). I call it help, she calls it control. She accused me of controlling because I reorganise things she's put in the dishwasher, etc.
Yes, things have been feeling 'off' but I'm not sure for how long; I've been depressed by work and have probably been 'off' myself. She has complained about lack of privacy when our daughters walk in while she's getting changed (though not me doing so), access to her phone if they want to borrow it (understandable now).
Control is the recurring complaint.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 05-Jan-15 16:34:09

So would you call your relationship happy? If you feel insecure, suspicious enough to snoop, you're depressed (diagnosed? treated? help sought?) and things are feeling 'off'..... and your DW is complaining that you are controlling (judgement reserved) and is out there looking for intimacy and affection from old flames.... it doesn't sound very happy on quite a few levels. Relationships don't have to be unhappy for affairs to happen, of course, but if there are problems and everyone is mentally holed up feeling trapped, depressed, controlled or whatever - doing their own thing and self-medicating with sexting etc rather than talking honestly, then the future doesn't look very optimistic.

TrustingGuy Mon 05-Jan-15 17:01:25

No I take your's more complicated than that. I would say it's a happy relationship. We get on famously, share the same sense of humour, have brought up two gorgeous and intelligent girls, can talk about virtually everything to an extreme degree of depth and candour. She's my best friend, sex is pretty good for both of us (though sometimes a little lacklustre) and didn't stop through all this. We've known each other for 30 years and have been married for nearly 20. She's been under some stress over the last couple of years (work/family) which we talk about but I guess we haven't been taking care of the relationship, i.e. talking about, and paying attention to, each others needs outside the kids/work/problems axis.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 05-Jan-15 17:15:41

That sounds a little more encouraging on the face of it. Fundamentally good relationships that have stalled due to neglect can possibly be revived provided everyone wants the same thing. Doesn't take away the hurt of betrayal, of course. Also doesn't apply if one party has only been going through the motions or is half-hearted about reconciliation.

Has she shown any enthusiasm about the future? Suggested couples counselling? Offered any ideas about how to reconcile?

TrustingGuy Tue 06-Jan-15 10:04:35

We had a talk this morning, which often seems to happen at the worst times. This was after a glorious half-hour in bed just me massaging her back, neck, and scalp and cuddling at which point she fell asleep. She let me in.

A shame we had to do the talk after, really, but she asked me why I've not been sleeping well and up since 5 this morning. She thought it was work but I told the truth about the physical symptoms and stress which opened up a few wounds yet again. She looks so hurt when we talk about it but I'm the one who's hurting. But she reassured me (again) that there's nothing going on with the OM and which I believe.

I told her I'm reading Marshall's 'How Can I Ever Trust You Again' whose emotive title made her go silent. My question is would it be better not to dwell on what happened, not read the book which makes me think about it all the time?

dreamingofblueskies Tue 06-Jan-15 11:09:54

I'm just over 5 months from finding out about my husband's EA. I have also been reading the Andrew Marshall's book, and I would say it is a good thing to work through together, but don't rush forward to the next chapter until you're ready, I'm still not ready to work through the last chapter.

I think you would probably dwell on it anyway, even if you didn't read the book. As I say, I am 4 months further down the line than you but I still think about it every day, I haven't had a day where I haven't cried over it.

You need to express your feelings, and she needs to let you, also you need to let her express hers. We are going to marriage counselling and we do a 'talking exercise' where each of us gets to talk for 30 mins (build up from a shorter time if 30 mins seems too much) with no interruptions from each other, it's amazing how much you listen to the other person's feelings when you're not thinking of what to say. Just a suggestion, but I found it really helpful.

Good luck.

TrustingGuy Tue 06-Jan-15 11:24:20

Thanks DoBS. Have you found any other books that have helped? I just found myself re-reading the messenger conversation that I discovered and started it off and it hurts like a different person.

I may have to delete it as, if I re-read it, I don't know how I could ever trust her and trust is the only thing that will make this work.

TrustingGuy Tue 06-Jan-15 11:24:27

Thanks DoBS. Have you found any other books that have helped? I just found myself re-reading the messenger conversation that I discovered and started it off and it hurts like a different person.

I may have to delete it as, if I re-read it, I don't know how I could ever trust her and trust is the only thing that will make this work.

dreamingofblueskies Tue 06-Jan-15 12:22:06

I know exactly how you feel. My husband deleted the messages straight away as soon as I'd found out. I would have liked to have read them again, with a clear head, but I think in the end it was for the best, I would have just tortured myself with reading them. I would definitely recommend deleting the messages now that you've read them, you've got all the answers you're ever going to get from them.

Not found anything else that helps I'm afraid, I keep thinking that there must be some answers on the Internet, after all you can find out anything else on the bloody thing, but regaining trust is really just a matter of both of you working incredibly hard at it, and I would say a massive leap of faith on your part. I haven't managed to make that leap yet.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 06-Jan-15 12:31:23

"My question is would it be better not to dwell on what happened, not read the book which makes me think about it all the time?"

It's not the book that makes you think about it all the time. Another common denominator with cheating partners is that they are very anxious that everyone 'moves on' and forgets all about it.... for obvious reasons. Suppression is a strategy, of course, but it can result in resentment to add to the mistrust.

It could be that what you need is time apart. There is a process known as 'hysterical bonding' at this stage of the discovery. Frantically seeking physical intimacy as a way to reassure yourself that you are still attractive and in a desperate attempt to regain the love of the other person. Sound familiar?

You may need some space to get past the initial shock and hysteria, gather your thoughts and work out what to do next

Wadingthroughsoup Tue 06-Jan-15 12:53:42

I'm sorry to hear this is happening to you.

I had an 'emotional' affair four years ago- although in my case there was little that was very 'emotional' about it- it was purely sex talk.

Eventually I told my husband because I was afraid of what was developing, and I felt like I needed to make a cry for help, if that makes sense. DH was absolutely crushed by the news, and he asked to see the messages between myself and the OM. I allowed him to read all the messages that I still had. I'm still not sure whether that was a good idea as it hurt him immensely, and made me feel sick to my stomach.

In the aftermath, I tried to make amends in a number of little ways. I knew it would take time to repair the damaged trust, so patience was needed, and I also knew that actions would likely be more helpful than words/promises/grand gestures. I took to leaving my phone downstairs when I went up to bed in the evenings. I did this deliberately so that DH would know I wasn't furtively texting/FBing. We didn't actually talk about it, but I'd just leave the phone on the coffee table as if by accident and then DH would bring it up with him.

I also remember cutting my internet use a great deal. Staying off FB, MN and other forums I'd been using. I made more efforts to talk to DH in the evenings, in place of surfing the net.

I tried hard to show physical affection towards DH, which was a little difficult for me as I'm not very tactile.

We both made efforts to communicate more, and to spend more quality time together.

I won't lie, I thought about the OM for quite a while afterwards, and it took a while for the temptation to go away. But it did go, eventually. And when he got back in touch 2 years later to try to initiate some smutty chat, I was able to tell him to bugger off and block him. I was transparent about that too and showed DH the message he'd sent me, and my reply.

I don't know if any of this is helpful, as it's looking at it from the other side. But although we all know that 'building up the trust' is what needs to be done, it can be difficult to know what that actually looks like, and I guess that would be different between different couples. Would you and she consider Relate? My DH and I went to one session (at his request) and the counsellor was very encouraging and felt that we could make things work.

Things are great between DH and I now and all that feels like a distant memory. I hope you and your DW can get through this and move on to brighter times.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 06-Jan-15 12:59:52

"In the aftermath, I tried to make amends in a number of little ways"

That's the crucial part. You tried to make amends, you made the effort, cut the internet use etc. I'm not getting the impression that the DW in this story is doing anything. The OP seemed rather grateful that she 'let him in' in fact.

TrustingGuy Tue 06-Jan-15 13:02:49

Thanks both, I think I'll delete the transcript I have, you're right's intimate, betraying, WRONG and, whatever happened, no help when considering the future.

Cog, yes, she wants to 'move on'. If only it were that easy. I don't think time apart is an option (though a good idea all the same). The DCs don't know (we've worked very hard at that) and would like to keep it under wraps if at all possible. Some friends of ours split up over the summer and I remember having a chat with the DCs (in jest) that we had no plans to do the same...strange six months on giving it headspace.

I wouldn't say we've bonded 'hysterically' but I've definitely sought it more (it has been lacking over the past year) as a form of reassurance. She, meanwhile, has been the one who's initiated sex. I'm hoping that's because she needs the intimacy with me.

A question: apparently the OM doesn't know about all this (so he gets away without the pain). Should I contact him, or insist that she tells him?

ProcrastIWillFinishThisLater Tue 06-Jan-15 13:03:21

Sounds like an awful and very immature relationship tbh. You've had an OW, she (nearly) had an OM. You snoop on her (or each other). There's no trust because nobody has earnt any trust. She'd still be messaging this guy now if you hadn't found out. I think you're probably just wasting each others' time tbh.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 06-Jan-15 13:11:26

Don't contact the OM. There's nothing to be gained & he made no promises to you, whereas your DW did and has broken them. I can see why you want to keep this secret - have you confided in anyone IRL or just this thread? - but feeling isolated in your pain and anger is a source of stress in and of itself.

Ideas of 'moving on' are really premature. What is your DW actually doing to constructively make up for this? Apart from initiating sex more that is ? Has she suggested counselling? Curtailed her internet use? Made any kind of effort to regain your trust?

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 06-Jan-15 13:12:38

"You've had an OW, she (nearly) had an OM"

Where did he say he'd had an OW?

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