A year later pain and triggers persist

BETRAYED HUSBAND: It has been a little bit over a year since I discovered my wife’s affair. Things are a lot different now than they were at the beginning, better in a lot of ways. But I also feel like progress has stalled. Some days, sometimes, I feel like they have possibly regressed.

Most of the time I’m content. Often my wife and I are having a good day enjoying traveling and seeing new things, or trying new foods (my favorite part of the trip). She smiles and my heart warms. She laughs and my spirit soars. We are making new memories and joyful experiences together that are wholly ours.

But then eventually out of nowhere my mind gets pulled back to dwelling on the affair. Sometimes there is a trigger in conversation, like recently. We were talking over some delicious Korean food with our friends in Seoul and after long twists and turns in the conversation they mentioned that cheating is more normal here than in the US. It seems that husbands and wives don’t see each other much because the husband works very long hours. Mention of infidelity is a pretty obvious trigger for me.

Sometimes the triggers are less obvious though. For instance, we were at the beer festival here in Seoul and I got some tacos. They were delicious, a wonderful taste of home. My wife mentions that some of the best tacos back home were at a particular place. In my head my thoughts turn sour in an instant. I have not been to the place she mentioned and don’t recognize the name. I can’t help but think this great taco place was some rendezvous she and her affair partner had. We spent nearly all of our free time together back home and so anytime she mentions something from there that I wasn’t a part of I instantly think it was some part of the affair.

My ability to handle these triggers is better than before. I can look back and see the slow (dreadfully slow) healing or at least coping. However, sometimes my mind just turns to the affair without a trigger that I can identify. This is a newer issue and one that makes me feel like I have regressed. When this happens I feel far worse than I have in many months. I often can’t find a reason to continue or care about my wife or my marriage. This has happened a few times now so I’m getting a little better but despair still takes hold of me in those moments.

Sadly, I have discovered, these dark moments have a terrible echo that affects my attitude for days. I can see several ways that my wife is changing to better fulfill my needs and comforts and it means a lot to me. When I look at myself however I don’t see that I’m doing much to address her needs. I know from our therapy and the materials we have gone through what her highest needs are but a vindictive part of me keeps me focused on the pain of the past instead of on the possible healing I could do in the present. In the end I see another opportunity pass and feel that my wife’s needs go unfulfilled.

This will persist for days after these phantom triggers. This is the biggest reason I feel that things have regressed.

I still cling to hope though I fear my grip is slipping. I don’t know the limits of my emotional endurance and I don’t know how long it takes get through this, to heal.  ‘Experts’ tend to agree that healing from an affair takes at least two years. But ultimately it seems their estimates are pinned to the ambiguous ‘it depends on the couple’ which I always hear as ‘we don’t know’. I wish this was like a physical cut. Then I would know. I would know how long takes and I would know if it was worth it.

Russian Roulette

UNFAITHFUL WIFE: Last week we visited the Kremlin. On that morning my husband woke up in a foul mood. I knew he was in a bad mood. It’s not like I can’t tell, but I am always afraid to ask. 

(It’s something I need to work on).

Eventually he admitted to me that he was having a bad day.

Did I do something, I asked.

Not recently, he said.

Was there a trigger, I asked.

No, he said. Sometimes he just finds himself in a bad place, remembering that I had an affair.

I get that. He is going to have bad days. I did that. I hurt him so much. So much that I cannot fix it.

But it still hurts when my husband is so disgusted by me that he can’t look at me. It’s still hard to wake up every morning and wonder if my husband loves me or hates me today, like a fucked up game of roulette. It’s hard to want to stay.

Flirt

UNFAITHFUL WIFE: I recently attended a meditation course. For ten days I did nothing but eat, sleep, and meditate – light on the sleeping and eating.

As it turns out, when you have nothing to distract you for days on end, memories tend to pop up. I remembered so many little interactions that I’ve had. I realized that before I had an affair I flirted quite a bit with other men.

I used to attend meetups, and I remembered one night when I came home my husband asked me if I attended meetups to meet other men.

I answered him honestly. I was not looking for other men. I just wanted to make friends.

But looking back now I realize that I enjoyed the flirting that went on at these meetups. It made me feel pretty and funny and interesting. It made me feel desirable. Ultimately, though, I think it did contribute to my eventually giving in to adultery.

I know going forward I have to change. I should never go out without my husband again. I should be forbidden from speaking to other men. I should find another way to feel desirable.

I think it will be difficult, but we’ll figure it out.

Dour again

BETRAYED HUSBAND:  My wife’s meditation retreat ended and after some bus travel hiccups we reunited at last.  For a few days after joining up again things were great. It was like we were freshly in love again. However, at least for me, this feeling didn’t last very long.

I don’t know really what I expected from the time apart. Maybe somehow some switch would flip and I could overlook the affair and not think of it ever again. But no. Nothing flipped. I don’t know if the time apart did much of anything except teach me one thing: I can be okay on my own but I prefer to be with someone. When we reunited we were puppy dogs again, for a bit. Looking back now I wonder if I just missed a relationship and not necessarily my wife for the individual she is.

It has been a full year since I discovered the affair. Maybe this dark anniversary has tainted my whole demeanor right now and I should take my feelings with a grain of salt. But maybe not. Maybe this is who I am now with my wife. One hour I’m seemingly content and then the next spiteful.

This dramatic mood swing happened just yesterday and I am still, 24 hours later, on the negative side of things. My bad mood was probably very obvious to my wife and I felt that I was likely bringing down her day with me. So I apologized for being in a bad mood. I know I don’t need to be sorry for my feelings, and I don’t think I was. I wasn’t really talking with her and apologizing, though disingenuous, was the easiest way to start talking again. She asked me if she had done something or if I was triggered by something. No, I wasn’t. That’s what really troubles me. There was no trigger. I was happy and then suddenly I wasn’t and all I could think about was the affair and that I’m spending all my time with someone who willful hurt me so grievously. The severity of my mood has faded since then, but for several hours I hated my wife.

I don’t know what is going to happen. I just wanted to get my thoughts and feelings out, even if they are a bit ramble-y. I do know that I don’t want a life in which half of the time I hate my wife.

 

Overwhelmed by all the feels

BETRAYED HUSBAND: I have been on my own for around 8 days now and there are still 4 more to go. My emotions have run the gambit. I have been angry and excited, sad and tender, scared and happy and all variations in between. Often I am some degree of all of them simultaneously.

I am disgusted by the affair but at the same time excited to see my wife again. I am scared that during her time alone my wife has decided to leave me but also hopeful that she has found clarity and a more defined sense of self. I have a vindictive side that calls out for ‘justice’ but also a peaceful side that cries out for reconciliation. The dichotomies are practically endless and likely all relevant.

I have always been a stoic. Growing up I always saw how my family was ruled by their emotions and the chaos it wrought. I made a concerted effort to control my emotions, some might say repress. I was determined to be the master of my emotions and not the slave. All of this to say that I don’t really have a lot experience with this level of turmoil. Often times I don’t know what to do. Even now nearly a year after discovery I occasionally stare at my food.

But I have made progress, I have healed. At least some. My wife is still my best friend and I miss her. I still want to spend my life with her and make the future we have talked about. I still want to be holding her hand when the sun sets on our life.

We split the party

BETRAYED HUSBAND: A few days ago my wife and I split up. Not the relationship type of split up but we are now traveling on our own for a bit. If you didn’t know, I’m a pretty big nerd. I’ve played a lot of DnD since 8th grade. In all that time, through hundreds of adventures there was one constant truth: don’t split the party. While this is sound advice in the table top RPG world, I think that we are both hopeful that this time apart will be beneficial.

The first few days I was sad and missed my wife all the time but I pushed through and was determined to explore Budapest, see the sites. I wandered and wandered. Saw some neat things. Ultimately I realized I was lonely. Walking around a neat old castle wasn’t that great without someone by my side to share the experience.

Yesterday I woke up depressed. I had lost the will to go out and visit the many attractions that I had yet to see. Slowly my depression became anger. I was angry at my wife for how she hurt me. Once that anger takes hold of my mind it basically takes a miracle to get out of its grasp. Hurtful thoughts come up, like cursing my wife. Vindictive desires come up, like ‘she cheated, so can I’. Eventually I was able to convince myself to just stay in the hotel room so that I couldn’t damage our marriage any further. So I sat in my hotel room loathing my wife and loathing myself. Looking back now, perhaps that was itself a little miracle. I wanted to act out, get even. Hurt her the way she hurt me. But I’m glad I didn’t. I do want our marriage to work and acting out would have made it impossible.

So far I hate traveling on my own. I have realized that if I had ended our marriage before our trip and just gone on my own it would have been miserable. No matter what happens I am glad that we went on this trip together. But I still have about a week on my own. I pray things go better.

On My Own

UNFAITHFUL WIFE: This morning I watched my husband leave on a bus to Budapest. It was weird saying goodbye to him. This will be the longest we have been apart since we got married six years ago. Neither of us are very good at talking, but we were both trying to squeeze in as much snuggling and hand holding as possible before he left. It was sad.

Since he left I have already gotten a little lost a few times. Fortunately, I don’t really mind walking in circles.

I have also managed to eat lunch. At a bar. By myself. I was nervous the entire time, but I survived. And if anyone was talking about how weird I looked, well, I couldn’t tell because they were speaking Czech.

Now I have to catch a train.

Then another train.

Then a bus.

Then I have to meditate in silence for ten days.

Part of me is really regretting this decision already. I am brand new to meditation. I don’t even really know if I like it yet. I am afraid I’ll go crazy. I’m afraid my husband will decide he’s better off without me. I’m afraid I’ll miss a train, not be able to communicate with anyone, and be forced to live out the rest of my life in a small Czech town begging at the train station for enough Korunas to buy my daily kolache. 

But I’m hopeful that none of that will happen. I hope I learn something about myself through this week of meditation. Maybe how to forgive myself or how to live with myself. I hope that when I see my husband again it will be a great reunion. I hope we have time over the next ten days to remember what we like about each other. I hope this distance makes our hearts grow fonder.

A Good Day

UNFAITHFUL WIFE: I am sitting on an uncomfortable airport bench right now. My husband’s head is in my lap. He has a cold. Our connecting flight has been delayed by two hours. We almost missed our first flight due to a taxi snafu. After a scrambling early morning on the streets of Odessa we made it.

By all counts today should have been a bad day.

But it isn’t.

Nobody lost their temper or snapped at the other. We didn’t arrive fuming in Kiev. The tension was not thick between us, as it all too often is.

We still have miles to go, but so far today is a good day.

Splitting Up

UNFAITHFUL WIFE: My husband and I are going to split up in a few weeks. Not relationally – we will still be just as married as we are now. We are physically going to different places. For ten days I will be at a silent meditation camp in the Czech Republic while he goes to Budapest and Warsaw. We will meet again in Riga.

For those of you who don’t know, my husband found out about my affair right before we left on a trip around the world. For the past ten months we have had hardly a minute apart. We stay in hotel rooms and tiny apartments and spend our days visiting new places. 

In some regards it is good. It’s much easier for him to feel safe, and it’s much harder for me to give in to the temptation to contact my affair partner.

In other ways it is difficult. We can’t escape to work and decompress. We basically have no one to talk to except each other.

And now, in a few weeks, we will be apart. 

Thirty

UNFAITHFUL WIFE: Sometimes it feels like every day is a struggle against myself. Every natural reaction I have is wrong. It’s too selfish or to anxious or too something.

This isn’t just since the affair, although it has been accentuated since then. On some level, though, it feels like this has been going on my whole life.

Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fail, but every time is a struggle.

And that gets exhausting.

I turned 30 last week.

Look, I’m not going to kill myself so don’t get your panties in a wad, but I kind of wouldn’t mind if I didn’t make it to 31.

Thirty to sixty more years of life, I get tired just thinking about it.