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.

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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.

Silence is deadly

BETRAYED HUSBAND: I’ve been having a rough few weeks recently. I’ve been going over and over in my head what this affair ultimately means about our relationship. Time and time again I keep coming back to three main questions that I still can’t answer.

Does my wife even want me? I mean who I am as a person. Her affair partner was a drastically different person on fundamental personality levels than I am. When I look back I can’t help but wonder if my wife doesn’t want to be with me since she had such a prolonged affair with someone so different from me.

Do I want to be with my wife? For years I thought I knew who she was as a person and I loved her. In the aftermath of the affair, most of the time I’m not sure I know who she is anymore. When I think of the qualities I’ve always wanted in a wife I can look back and see how much the ‘scorecard’ has changed since the affair.

Is continuing our marriage the best option for happiness for both of us? If I’m not sure about the previous two questions then ultimately I believe that our marriage will suffer. Sometimes I’m afraid that we will stick in this together to maybe prove to ourselves that we aren’t ‘quitters’ even though staying may just slowly erode our joy and sense of self.

Of course while I have been thinking these issues over I have been tragically silent to my wife. After some time things between us became distant. This is what always happens when either one of us stops communicating. Eventually we did have the inevitable uncomfortable conversation about what I have been going through. These conversations are key to have if there is any chance for true reconciliation, but they also cause tremendous immediate discomfort. The fear of and desire to avoid this discomfort is what keeps us silent for so long, too long.

Overcoming my natural inclination to sit in silence while contemplating the situation has been tough and I wouldn’t say that I’m good at it yet. But talking about things like these questions and fears helps to keep us connected to each other. While I may not be able to answer these questions I am facing, I do know that I hope our marriage can be strong and loving and beautiful.

Progress

BETRAYED HUSBAND: It’s odd, when things are bad it is easy to write but when they are good it is somehow more difficult to write. Things have been going well recently so this will be brief.

I’ve noticed that we are getting better about communicating to each other. Our old habit of staying quiet and distancing ourselves seems to be changing. I know it still resides in us and total change will take time but I am encouraged to see it happening in little ways. When we were in London we started to drift a bit. In the past that would have lasted weeks but we talked in a few days this go around. Looking back over the past days I can see how opening up and talking to each other has made a huge difference. That talk snowballs into more and more communication. I think we are becoming more aware of each others needs and trying to be there for each other.

I’m still here, just very confused

BETRAYED HUSBAND: Well it has been awhile since I’ve written anything on here and to be honest it isn’t because I got too busy. The last few, well months really, have been pretty bad for me and blogging about it didn’t seem appealing.

I get triggers, reminders of the affair, every day multiple times. They can’t be avoided and it has been a struggle to get used to. The worst I think was recently in Barcelona. We were walking through Guell Park and I kept seeing these happy couples talking or holding hands or taking each other’s picture. Each time it highlighted the brokenness of our marriage, the lack of conversation, the lack of intimacy, the lack of joy. I spent the time just thinking about our marriage instead of enjoying the beautiful park and being present with my wife. My wife who I wasn’t sure I wanted to be with anymore.

I am an extremely rational thinker, often to my detriment. I have always valued control of ones emotions, often to the point suppression. Perhaps its because of the chaos I saw from my family growing up; I’m not sure. Well anyway, I have heard that after tragedy you shouldn’t make major life decisions for at least six months since you are too emotionally unstable to rationally choose. I think part of me resisted asking myself if I should leave or stay because of this principle. Now that time had past all these questions that I could have been working through came pouring into my mind. That day in the park I kept asking myself questions over and over. Why am I still here? Why don’t I just tell her to go back home and I’ll continue on on my own? What attributes do you want in a wife? Does she have those attributes? Would I be able to find another woman to love? Is it worthwhile to even be married period? What is there to hold onto? A lying cheater who still yearns for her affair? Is that being negative or honest? There were good things in our marriage right? Were there? The spiral goes on and on and only in a downward direction.

I can identify numerous reasons, all strong enough to end relationships, to break things off, to get a divorce, but I don’t want it to end. Sometimes I wish it had never started. I mean if back when we were just friends if I had heard that she had cheated on a boyfriend in the past I would never have dated her; I probably would have stopped hanging out with her all together. But now that we are married I don’t want it to end. Is that fear? Is that love?

Yes it Hurts, Seek Help

BETRAYED HUSBAND: It has been roughly 4 months. I still get flashes of that night I discovered my wife’s affair. That discovery day, or D-day, as it is called in recovery circles will always haunt me. Especially so since it was a holiday, Labor Day. Even now I’m scared of the emotional flooding I will have next Labor Day. I’m scared that I will act out and be cruel to my wife whom I love still. I’m scared that I will remember every tiny moment of those initial hours and relive them in full.

My wife was out with friends and I was at home. I had had suspicions for a while but usually brushed them off thinking I was just being overly jealous. Well I guess I was feeling especially suspicious this evening and I picked up her tablet to see if I could find anything to ease my fears or confirm them. Was I snooping? Maybe, but it wasn’t locked and she wasn’t logged out of Facebook. And we are married so why can’t I look at anything of hers I want.

Well I quickly found some messages that suggested a relationship beyond friendship. They weren’t crude and sexual but still the content was more than just friends. I assume that they did have sexual messages at some time but I never saw them. I do know that my wife did erase several messages that I never saw. Upon seeing the messages I became frantic. Instantly my heart was beating faster than ever. I couldn’t stop pacing around the home and my thoughts about what I should do were streaming on fast forward through my head.

Was I angry? Yes, furious, I wanted to break everything. Was I hurt? Yes, my emotional pain became real physical pain in my chest; I was on fire and couldn’t breathe properly. Was I sad? Yes, I cried in bursts of heaving sobs.

I called my wife and calmly asked her to come home as soon as possible. I’m sure it freaked her out and I have no idea what she was thinking as to why. I told her I wasn’t hurt just needed her home right away. While I was waiting dozens of questions flooded through my head. I played a lot of what-if scenarios in my head; hoping that it was all a misunderstanding and we could just have an awkward talk.

But it wasn’t a misunderstanding. I did everything I could to not lose control when she confirmed the affair. One of the most painful things about the affair was who the affair partner was. I knew the guy. We weren’t friends. I actually already hated him before any of this and I’m pretty sure that our friends didn’t like him either. I think this made it worse than if he was a friend. Sure a friend would have meant a double betrayal but at least I would know that he was on some level a decent guy. But no, not this guy. In recovery it is mentioned that the betrayed (me) shouldn’t attack the affair partner (AP) because it puts the unfaithful on the defensive. They of course mean verbally in conversation (they also say not to physically attack or even confront the AP, which is good advice). This is perhaps one of the hardest things to abide by in my case because I already hated him and saw so many negative aspects. Things happened so fast that night that I can’t remember if I spoke out loud to my wife all the negative things about the AP or if I simply thought them. But in the end I didn’t know what to do.

I usually have a plan for everything. Even most things that are unlikely to occur I have given at least a little thought about. Before this, I always told myself that divorce was the only response to an affair. But when it actually happened I didn’t know. I still loved her and even then in that moment I couldn’t imagine a life without her. I didn’t seem right to burn everything we had built to the ground. To give over to a life of hatred and self-loathing.

I believe that a real miracle happened. I believe that God put a desire in me to seek Him for guidance. I know, now it’s going to get all churchy, ugh. I will keep it to a minimum and simply say that I don’t know that I would have sought help on my own. I encourage anyone who discovers an affair to seek wisdom from others before making a decision about divorce. This will be the biggest decision in your life. If you are religious, seek your spiritual leader. If you are not religious then seek counselling, there are many non-religious counsellors that can help with this.