After the Affair: The No Contact Rule

We’ve mentioned many times on this blog about the harmful effects of triggers for the victim and the necessity for the cheating spouse to maintain a no contact rule in order for a couple to have a chance at recovering from an affair.  Another important rule that I feel needs to be enforced is a no contact rule of sorts – for the victim.

Let me explain by way of an example.  Yesterday while I was working, Linda called me and I could tell immediately by the tone of her voice that she was upset.  Her first words were:  “How could you not stay with her (Tanya)?”  I was taken aback just a bit, and asked what she meant.  She replied something to the effect that “She’s so pretty and she was so confident and outgoing…and I can’t compare to that.”

I asked her where this was all coming from, as this kind of came out of left field, and why she was feeling this way.  It turns out that for whatever reason, Linda felt compelled to get on Tanya’s work website and saw an updated picture of her.  This immediately sent an emotional tidal wave over Linda and the result was a feeling of despair, frustration and defeat.

After a few more minutes of talking, she was no better and consequently was wondering if she can ever get over my emotional affair.

I reassured her that she can because she is a strong, beautiful woman herself, and has no reason to be comparing herself now more than 2 years after the affair.  I told her that we were always meant to be together and that I truly f@#%ked up, but I love her and wouldn’t know what to do without her.

After my little pep talk, I questioned her need for even taking a peek at the website in the first place, and reminded her that she apparently thinks more about Tanya than I do, and for the sake of her own mental health and for the sake of our marriage she needs to stop this type of “contact” in the future.

She has a hard time with triggers to begin with, and if makes no sense for her to go out looking for them when she knows how badly they will affect her.

If you are the victim of an affair, find out what you need to find out about the OP immediately, then do your best to let it go. In fact, it might not be a bad idea to make it some sort of ritual to burn the OP’s pictures, delete emails and texts, cancel Facebook accounts – hell, pitch your spouse’s  damn cell phone in the river – whatever – just as a way of symbolizing the purging of the OP from your life.   Sure the pain is there and the memories are hard to live with, but looking for things that haunt you is not the answer.  Working on your relationship and saving your marriage is.

I know many of you are thinking, “Yah, easy for you to say…”  But you know what, as far as I’m concerned, Tanya is a distant memory and I have chosen to focus on making things better for us now and in the future.  I choose not to dwell in the past.  This may be easier for me to do than most people, but I don’t know.

I feel as though I have been successful at eliminating Tanya from my brain.  I’ve lived by the no contact rule. I’ve never texted her, or sent an email, made a phone call, or checked her website since I ended things.  I have no desire to, and I plan on keeping it that way.  And that’s exactly what Linda needs to do.  Otherwise, the pain after the affair is relived over and over and over again.

Perhaps Linda should print off a copy of that picture and burn it.  What do you think?

 

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63 Responses to After the Affair: The No Contact Rule

  1. surprised October 1, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    My H hasn’t established no contact so I still occasionally look at what I’m able to see on her FB or LinkedIn (which isn’t much). I know I’m not a model but I am younger & better looking & have a much nicer personality than OW so I can’t figure what the pull is on my H to continue on other than his rescue mode he likes to be in.
    It has to be hard for both of you to talk about this topic EVERY DAY even tho its been over for 2 yrs now. I thank you both for being so open & vulnerable to help those of us in the midst of it who are struggling. You are both very blessed to have each other & come out of this on the other side with your marriage still in tact, ministering to others thru this, & maintaining no contact. I pray every day that my marriage makes it thru this & my husband comes to love me again somehow altho the future for that seems bleek right now.

    • Sandra October 9, 2013 at 11:06 am #

      We have a no contact rule in place. Whereby if my H should rec’d call, email or see OW he was to let me know. DDay was June 16, 2012. OW is a client of my H. The day after DDay he changed her name in cell to a man’s name. Until I found out on July 10, 2012. Since Easter weekend OW came over to our car with my son in it. As OW saw my H in a C-Store she wanted him to open the door for her. Whenhe did not and left the store she came over and said to my H you are rude. June 4, 2013 I found a search on his of her work number. July 2, 2013 he went to where she works to have breakfast one door down from her workplace.

      • tryinghard October 9, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

        Sandra
        Does he have to have her as his client??? Not cool. Do you think he was having breakfast with her??? Not cool. Are you sure he is adhering to the no contact rule by just saying he is?

        • Sandra October 9, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

          Dear Tryinghard
          I have my doubts. Did he end his EM. Yes I do think he had breakfast with her. As he told his Admin if I should call not to say where he was.

          • tryinghard October 9, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

            Oh boy Sandra, that does not sound good. Maybe it is all innocent but how many times do we have to ignore our red flags and expect a different outcome. I don’t know about you but I have realllllly learned; if it walks like a duck and if it quacks like a duck, IT’S A FREAKING DUCK! Sometimes when they think the storm is over and life kind of gets back to “normal” they think the coast is clear to go back to the same behaviors. I hope you can get to the bottom of this. COURAGE my friend.

            • Sandra October 9, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

              Thanks Tryinghard:
              For your kind words. You made me laugh with your DUCK comment.

              I think you are right.

  2. Karen October 1, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    Doug: I have yet to hear of a betrayed spouse that doesn’t have trouble with triggers, so Linda is definitely not unique in that. And I don’t think the trust is ever really restored 100%, which is okay also. Being a strong, smart woman I think also exacerbates the effects of triggers as they are something we cannot “fix” with our strength of character and brainpower. They just happen. It’s how we handle them that matters – and Linda has taught me how to handle them and bounce back to our strong selves with her posts, and I thank her so much for it. And your actions as explained in your posts are so encouraging both to Linda, I’m sure, and all us betrayed spouses. I pray this site doesn’t add to the triggers – some of the posts just break my heart reading them and I think even maybe cause a bit of a trigger toward my H on some days. Thank you both for being there for us.

    • Doug October 1, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

      Karen, Thanks for the comment. I understand and can fully accept that there are triggers, however I have a hard time seeing the logic in seeking them out. You are right, it’s how the triggers are handled that matters. Hopefully this site won’t become a giant trigger, but I am of the mind that it is more therapy and support than a vehicle for despair.

      • Karen October 1, 2010 at 2:32 pm #

        Doug: I agree – it’s not logical. Maybe we can call it our betrayed spouses fog?? 🙂

        • Doug October 1, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

          I like it!

  3. ruth October 1, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    Thank you Doug, this is exactly what I need to do is move forward and get rid of her email address, phone number everything. H and I are really trying to put this in our past. I have been obessesed with her. I check everyday to see if she is online or not and than I am fearful that I will see my h online with her. Its been 6 mos as far as I know that they have had no contact. And you are right I think I think about her more than he does. Its going to be a long road ahead for us and I dont need to make it longer.

    • Doug October 1, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

      Thanks Ruth. Now go out and burn some pictures and delete her online info!

  4. Julia Coker October 1, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    I can only speak for myself but I feel that I was totally blindsided by my husband’s affair because I didn’t check his phone, emails, etc. so I would like to keep up with the OW so I won’t be blindsided again, trust in him is extremely hard to reestablish for me. I would like to get some input on situation I am in, please. Affair 2 years ago but our daughter (28 + 8 year old granddaughter)is still living in house owned by OW’s parents 40 miles away. I refuse to go to that area because of triggers, house other woman provided for my husband when he left me, which makes our daughter angry with me. Long story, but am I wrong not to want to go to that house? Daughter will not move because of free rent. Thanks for any input. Julia

    • Doug October 1, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

      Julia, I can certainly understand not wanting to go to the house due to the triggers that are involved, but is it possible to change your pattern as Jeff Murrah suggests, and see the house for what it really is (changing the meaning)–the place where your daughter and granddaughter live, rather than the OW’s mother’s house? (See: http://www.emotionalaffair.org/change-your-patterns-when-dealing-with-affair-triggers/ ) Just a thought. Also, does your daughter know why you don’t want to go there? Perhaps she wouldn’t be angry if she knew why, though I would understand it if you didn’t want to tell her.

  5. Jeffrey Murrah October 1, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

    Doug,

    I like the no contact rule. It would be better to have a no workplace in common rule, but I know that such a suggestion would be hard for some people.

    I do not suggest printing and burning. It may be fun, but it empowers Tanya (the memory or ghost of Tanya) and takes away from Linda. I was a little puzzled as to your reason for ‘scolding her’.

    Linda was needing something from you, and I do not believe it was a scolding. The good you did in building her up was effectively canceled out by the scolding. You were doing good up to that point. (Just my two cents).

    • Linda October 2, 2010 at 11:22 am #

      Jeffrey, I believe you are right the scolding and the anger is the last thing I need from him. I try to tell Doug that I act this way (insecure/ bring up the affair) not to punish him or throw it in his face, I act this way because of fear. I am afraid of not being good enough to keep him from doing this again, I am afraid of losing him, and he has difficulty with taking it personally. I try to tell him pretend I am a friend and that friend is telling you about what their spouse did to them, what would you say to them to make them feel better, those are the words I need to hear from you. When he fails to say those things I still feel afraid and insecure, when he get angry I still feel unloved. I know it is difficult for some men to express these things but in order to heal I need to hear them. As you said the anger and scolding undo all the good that was said, all I hear is the scolding. I try to talk myself out of these insecurities and fears but sometimes they come flooding back. I try to remember how I felt about myself before the affair, I was very confident, I felt really good about myself, then I ask myself did I change? do I look different now than I did before, no I actually am better, then I try to reason with myself, why am I allowing some woman, and some mistake take all those feelings away from me. I am the same person I was two years ago, I am ok there is nothing wrong with me, but believing it on a consistent basis is very difficult. Thank you for your insight. Linda

      • Karen Klein October 2, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

        Linda: Exactly how I feel. My insecurity, his reaction to my insecurity causes my feeling unloved, downward spiral from there.
        Does this make any sense? I absolutely feel betrayed spouses should be completely open and honest about their feelings after the affair with their spouse, yet I cannot rely on my H to squelch my insecurity when it arises. He’s apologized and moved on and is trying (although not doing everything I’d like 🙂 – typical male “it’s fixed” response from what I’ve read here and other places. So I need a methodology to bounce back from my recurring insecurity (aka fear) episodes that doesn’t let my H off the hook but takes responsibility for my own happiness. I am stronger and better now after this EA – I know I can do it. One day at a time. Doug’s participation on this site speaks volumes to me about his devotion to you and your marriage.

  6. Julia October 2, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    To Linda I know the pain you have been through past two years but wonder if I could email you with my story of past two years and get some insight from you without it being posted for all to see? thank you, Julia

    • Linda October 2, 2010 at 10:55 pm #

      Absolutely, feel free to email me any time.–Linda

  7. Joe October 2, 2010 at 6:05 pm #

    Doug,

    I’m going to use the vernacular used in MarriageBuilders.

    It would appear that Linda is acting wayward in her behavior of validation. My view is that it is a Love Buster for you (Demanding). But it would appear that you are not meeting her Emotional Need for the validation of her being “pretty, confident, and outgoing.”

    Maybe a suggestion, ask her if she would be willing to sign a No Contact contract between you two. This contract will definitely require a Principle of Joint Agreement. Probably needs to state that she will no longer contact Other Women and compare herself to the OW. You would need to agree also to how you will fill her Emotional Need for validation.

    What do you think?

    • Doug October 2, 2010 at 10:55 pm #

      Thanks Joe, I like that idea.

    • Linda October 3, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

      Joe, I understand you what you are saying because I am very versed in Harley’s literature, however I would like to dispute some of your thinking. Before my husband’s affair I never demanded validation. I didn’t need to hear that I was beautiful, outgoing etc. often times he would tell me these things and I had enough confidence in myself to feel that I was an adequate wife and person. Doug’s affair took all that away from me, think about how it most feel to be compared to another woman, and not feeling “good” enough to meet my husband’s needs. Individually I am trying to do everything to regain my self-esteem, but there are some days where I am feeling afraid and insecure and I turn to Doug to help me get through them. Isn’t that what love is? Aren’t we supposed to be there when our spouse is having a hard time, to pick them up and help them to feel better, without anger and resistance. I don’t think Doug and I need to contract, we just need to practice better communication. Linda

  8. Joe October 3, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    @linda –
    I’m in now trying to belittle your struggle! I know those feelings: ‘I don’t think your hot anymore! But OM has a v-line. OM is funny and witty. OM is so good with stepdaughter.” FogBabble. But it does really hurt and it does undermine your confidence.

    Yes communication is key. Using the POJA can further strengthen those lines of communication.

    It just seemed to me (what do I know) that you both are trying to compromise on a solution to the issue instead of both agreeing on a solution.

    Joe

    • Linda October 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

      Joe, I am sorry if I came across a little strong, but I felt obligated not only for myself but for everyone else on this site to address the pain that the affair has caused and at times we may act in a way the is very uncharacteristic of our true selves. You are correct, I believe that we spend too much of our time compromising (or avoiding) rather than finding a solution. Sometimes the problem appears so large that a solution is impossible. I guess that is where communication comes in, and talking about what we each can do to make these insecurities go away. Thank you for your insight. Linda

      • mahalia October 4, 2010 at 2:49 am #

        I agree with you, Linda. It isn’t really about needs as such, it’s more like post-traumatic stress syndrome. That sounds a bit melodramatic, but it’s the only description i can think of at the moment that fits. I don’t think there really is a solution when that hits, you just have to work your way through it, hopefully with help and understanding from your spouse.

        I admit I’m guilty of doing just what Linda did–going online to look for information and pictures. At first, it was to reassure myself that she was just an ordinary person. But then of course I projected all of that awful insecurity and fear onto her–she’s everything I’m not. Of course that’s entirely correct, in a way. I’m not as confused and messed up as she is, and there isn’t really anything attractive about someone who is compelled to lie and manipulate to get what they want. Doug is right too, it’s important to avoid such triggers. But it’s tricky. I have a trigger that makes me seek the trigger (which makes little sense, I know). I’m still trying to understand why this is happening. I know my husband really well, and his motivations aren’t a mystery. But I feel compelled sometimes to “know” her, to figure out why she did what she did too. I know that’s a compulsion I need to let go of–in the end, it’s not important.

        • Linda October 4, 2010 at 7:06 am #

          Mahahlia, thank you for your comment, I don’t understand why I do it either, I wonder if I intentionally try to torture myself. I know it is not healthy, and I am not really sure what I am looking for. All I know is I really need to remove her, and her fantasy out of my life. I have given her too much power and made her out to be some super woman, which I know she is not. She was a woman who happened to be at the right place at the right time who had the perfect situation and opportunity to make my husband believe she was the woman of his dreams. In some ways I feel that I helped her accomplish that, I was her comparison, her ego booster, she was able to pretend to be everything I wasn’t at the time, and she could blame Doug’s faults on me and his marriage. She could always make him believe he was winning. I wonder what she would have done when it was just her and him. She really didn’t know my real husband, and Doug didn’t really know the real her. It was all a illusion and the relationship would never be able to maintain its level of intensity once the newness disappeared and reality set it. Those are all the things I need to remind myself when I have a trigger, not that she was so perfect woman. Linda

  9. D October 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

    I’ve mentioned before that we are all looking for ways to control an outcome we desire. We want the pain to go away, we want things to be the way they were, we want validation, acceptance, desire. We want our spouse to see us the way they saw the OM/OW. Being an impatient, proactive individual, the hardest thing for me has been to “sit in the pain,” as I call it. To endure the uncertainty, the humiliation, the loss, fear, anger, hatred, etc. To sit and allow another minute to pass, another hour, another day, month has been unbearable at times. And yet, here I am eight months later and nothing I have done has made time go any faster. We want to control the triggers. But there is the greatest strength in merely seeing the triggers for what they are – ghosts of the past – and letting the pain dissipate (as it will) and trust in the healing process. We will heal eventually, but ironically, by fighting we prolong the time it takes.

    • Linda October 4, 2010 at 6:27 pm #

      D, I can say you are one insightful and intelligent man. You have been able to express what we all feel. I am too a very impatient, proactive individual and find it very difficult that I cannot control the pain and the triggers. I told Doug today I feel like a race horse, I have been strong and fighting for two years to save our marriage, and now that we are at the finish line I don’t have the strength to cross over and win. Maybe I am afraid of what will be on the other side. I need to let go of the ghosts (the images that haunt my mind) but it is so hard.

      I appreciated you last comment about our need to know everything about the affair. You were right on target, and I decided to not allow an affair to take away all the real and good memories that we had in the past, in fact we should celebrate them and to continue making memories in the future. I cannot allow another person to take that all away from me. If I do I am giving her more power than she deserves.

      I would appreciate any resources or books that you have found to be helpful in your journey. I believe you have learned more in eight months than many people learn in a lifetime. Thanks, Linda

  10. D October 5, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    Thanks, Linda. It’s been a long, arduous journey. One thing that’s helped me tremendously in letting go (not eliminating, mind you, just allowing the pain to not rule the day) is to see that whatever cherished memories I may have had about my marriage – and this includes dating, the wedding, anniversaries, great vacations, the births of our boys, etc,) all of that has to be viewed as past experiences that exist only in my mind. Just because there was once an incredible bond between us doesn’t mean that it exists today just because these memories tie us together. Today is different, as tomorrow will be and there is literally nothing we can count on save for the fact that another moment will instantly replace this one, every second of every day.

    This may be a depressing thought, but why? Because we are trying to hold on to (or control) what is familiar, safe, and comfortable to us. It is an emotion based in fear. But if we ask ourselves what is fearful about this very moment, the answer has to be nothing, because fear only exists in the past or future. We mourn what we lost or what we may lose, but what matters is only what exists right now. That is as true for pain as it is for pleasure. Everything passes, and that has helped me get through the triggers. It will pass, just as eight months have passed for me, just as two years have passed for you. Pain will pass, pleasure will come. We will survive.

    What has helped me the most is meditation, yoga, exercise, accepting what exists and having the courage and patience to know that it may not always be that way, and generally reconnecting with that flirtatious, fun, creative person I used to be. Also, reading everything I can. The Four Agreements, The Power of Now, most books by Pema Chodron, and Buddhism is Not What You Think It Is.

    The most important thing is to have the courage to be the person you want to be. Nobody else can give you what you can’t give yourself. We control our own lives.

  11. Domini October 7, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    I go out of my way to avoid places where I might run into my husband’s OW. I can’t stand the idea of coming face to face with someone who was able to look me straight in the eye the whole time and showed NO sign of remorse or guilt. You see, she was a friend of ours…someone our group of friends hung out with on a regular basis, and she was, Oh so much fun……and damn, I hate her! She haunts me, even in my sleep, and I know she shouldn’t. My husband and I are trying to work it out and most of the time it seems like it’s working, and then….Bang! Out of nowhere, my radar goes off! I can’t tell if my paranoia causes “weirdness” between us or she has contacted him yet again! See, she had him thinking that she was in an abusive relationship with her own husband. Yes, both married…my husband and I for 19 years and hers was newer, but has two small children! My husband’s “white Knight syndrome” had to kick in and there you go….problems between us turned into a newfound fling who was oh so in need of him! his is all rather new…about 6 months now, and I know we have a long way to go. I have told him that I DO NOT want him to even text her, but I can’t bring myself to confront her myself…I am truly afraid of the rage that will come out of me and I told want to give her any more fuel to use on my husband so he feels any worse for her….I knoww in my heart that he hasn’t gotten over that…and it makes me die a little inside every day. To top all of this off…she happens to also be 10 years younger, so I am still struggling with my confidence. As far as what type of person she is, I know I’m better than her, but as for now, that’s all I am sure of.

  12. Kate October 8, 2010 at 11:11 am #

    Domini, it sounds like we share a similar situation. The OW in my case is a (former) friend. She and I were very close, in fact she was the person who held me and dried my tears when my husband first told he wasn’t happy and wanted out of our marriage!! With a straight face and faked sympathy she pretended to be my friend for over 3 months after that, all the while carrying on an affair with my husband! It was only by seeing an email message between them that I found out the truth.

    My husband has maintained NC since D-Day in March, but I can’t get her out of my mind. I always think that any bad mood or down day he has is because he is thinking of her, missing her or regretting NC… So many triggers too, because we all spent so much time together as friends. Movies, musics, restaurants, vacation spots. Hard to avoid them.

    • Domini October 11, 2010 at 11:32 am #

      I am so sorry……Nothing like being doubly betrayed huh? How do they do it? That kind of behavior goes against everything I believe in….My husband, at least, had the decency to not be able to look me in the eye, but her, I cannot believe the audacity! Like she deserved him and I didn’t! This woman was also a regular at both of my teenager’s job as well, so everyone got humiliated. I struggle every day with the hurt, the anger and the embarassment. I don’t think I have ever hated someone so much…..and then this trickles over with my attempts to work all of this out with my husband. He did make a very quick turnaround as soon as I called him on it. Unfortunately, this was at a party with all of our friends, including her, and I snapped! I couldn’t take it for one more second. She made a hasty getaway, so I didn’t get to say my piece. I do realize though, that that would probably only make him feel bad for her…..she had him thinking she was freakin” abused…..poor baby, and he fell for it! That is the only thing that keeps me away from her. We live in a very small place, (Cape Cod, MA) so I just stay far away from where I might run into her. I guess we are both giving these pathetic women too much power over our thoughts and our lives….because really, any person who steps in and goes out of their way to betray friendships and families are really nothing more than pathetic. Try to hold on to that maybe? Good Luck!

  13. Sharon October 10, 2010 at 6:27 pm #

    I am not sure how to stay away from those “triggers”. Everywhere I look, or an email that he gets, just reminds me of everything he has done. I know many of you have been cheated on by your spouse maybe once or twice, but here I am, with a H that has cheated 20+ times! How do you not react to those emails that say meet singles here, or someone wants to meet you. I can understand the spam emails, but the ones that your H subscribed too, what then? Is he still looking? Why would he not unsubscribe to them? He knows I look…… Is he checking to see if I’ll say something? He says he is sorry and remorseful , but I haven’t told you everything. He is also a Minister, someone people are supposed to look up too. Someone who counsels others for the same thing or other moral issues. How can he do this to me and for so many years? How do I get over this when I have no where or no one to turn to, to talk with, or to vent my frustrations with except for him? My emotions just come out and they are still uncontrollable at times. I find myself apologizing for saying something, but why? I haven’t really done anything ……I saw sex videos he made and sex chats he was having and I feel guilty for asking ” what’s this” ? Help!!!!!! Help me understand or get past this so I can get on with saving my marriage.

    • Doug October 11, 2010 at 7:48 am #

      Sharon, Thanks for sharing your story. I think in your situation that counseling may be the best course for your husband and yourself. Perhaps there is another minister friend that he can talk to about his issues. Regardless, you need to somehow rid yourself of the feelings of guilt that you are having. It is not your fault that your husband has chosen the path that he has. I suggest you seek counsel yourself, or at the very least, find some support and get yourself strong.

    • Domini October 11, 2010 at 11:44 am #

      Unfortunately, to me, and I am by no means an expert….that your husband actually may have a problem….like an addiction to the seedier side of sex???/ Do you think that because he’s a minister, ( I was raised Catholic) he may have been squelching what to a “regular person” who may not have to stand on such a strong moral platform is considered ok(to society) is busting out of him? In no way do I think this is ok, I am in a similar boat unfortunately, but what I do know is this…..I spent a lot of years trying to keep every “normal” sexual urge I had under control because of my upbringing, and I was just trying to set a good example for my kids, not an entire parish….Now I find, I have a lot of pent up sexual frustration because of it but I am aware and trying to channel it properly. Could he not know how to do this? Men are men, and in my book and that automatically lends them to lewd thoughts and behaviors….Just a thought. Counseling, to realize that these feelings are normal has done me wonders……Please, don’t think that I am condoning what he has done to you….I wish you a lot of luck!!!!!

    • Karen October 11, 2010 at 3:18 pm #

      Sharon: I so agree your husband needs counseling to deal with this issue, but as a minister, I’m sure he is reticent to do this due to his public personna and threat to his position. You are an amazing woman to have stood by him this long despite his numerous infidelities – you are not alone. Since it seems you do want to continue in your marriage, I would suggest maybe contacting someone that you trust either in your denomination or at another church who can lovingly confront your husband about his infidelities. Your husband may be “crying out” for you to help him get help – especially since he knows you see his email, etc. I cannot imagine how you can get past this in a healthy way without finally enforcing healthy boundaries in your marriage, which will not only help you to begin to heal but might help your H to finally deal with his addiction. There are so many resources on this site – they have helped me so much. Do not feel guilty!! You have every right to be uncontrollably upset about this. Find someone you can safely confide in. I am very strong in my faith, and believe me, when I found out about my H’s EA, I fell apart. Take good care of yourself – you deserve it.

  14. Geri November 1, 2010 at 5:18 pm #

    My husband and I started dating several years ago and we knew right away that we had something very special. It was a year ago that I found out he was still in daily contact with an old flame. He had been in contact with her for fifteen years. She is married and has been throughout their long EA.
    We have been to hell and back. He wrote her an email several days after DDay and told her he would no longer be contacting her. I watched him send it and read the reply. I have never seen her and most days I no longer think about her. I went through a time when I was obsessed with her and even sat outside her house one night to catch a glimpse. I went to work but did not have security clearance! I did print copies of every phone bill that proved her existence. For a long time it was the only information I had. I am obsessed with why he would not let her go when he found the love of his life at last. We are 50 years old! I have never read about someone having an EA that carries over into their new, serious relationship. I have forgiven my husband. We got married since I found out, but I can not forget. Unanswered questions are the problem. Really struggling with first anniversary of DDay looming

    • Doug November 2, 2010 at 10:12 am #

      Wow, Geri–a fifteen year EA? Have you received any answers to your question about why he didn’t let her go? No one says you have to forget, but eventually the need to remember will fade. There are plenty of posts on dealing with triggers on this site. You may want to do a search for them (upper right hand corner of site) as they may be helpful to you.

  15. Alaynna December 21, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    Doug, I am only at the beginning of what your wife is going through. I just found out that my husband has sex with another woman and “has feelings for her”. Some of the emails I read had him saying things to her in two weeks that he had never said to me in 18 years of marriage. After agreeing to no contact, and while I went on and started correcting what I agreed were my deficiencies in the marriage, he was supposedly working on his from appearance, but then I found out he was going to extraordinary lengths to talk to her. I have told him to leave several times but he won’t and he says he wants me. WHAT A CONTRADICTION! I feel like he is staying for the kids and I have no trust at all. I try really hard not to think of her or look at all of the evidence, but I get so mad at being second choice. I hope everything works out for you two. BTW this OW was named Tanya TOO! What a dirty word.

  16. Robin February 12, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    Doug,
    I have found many of the articles on this site informative and/or comforting, but your attitude in this column seems strangely condescending. It is great that you have maintained no contact, but you didn’t do it before you were out of the “affair fog”. Now your vision is clear, and you are ready to move on and stop dealing with the fallout from the disaster. From my perspective, as a spouse who had my whole life ripped apart a year ago, you have missed a vital point. The search for information about the other person is not just about who that person really is – it is also about trying to sort the fantasy from the truth about the whole situation in an attempt to make some sense of our new world. In my experience and from what I have read here and on other sites, as soon as the “affair fog” begins to lift, the cheating spouse wants to put it behind him or her and not think about it anymore. I have not read an account yet that indicates that the cheating spouse really spent much time thinking about who the other person really was or if the “problems” in their marriages were really as bad as they had convinced themselves they were – probably because they don’t want to face the full shame of what they have done. Speaking only for myself, I needed to know who the other person was – and for my husband to really realize it as well. I also needed to understand what shape our marriage was really in. I don’t see how you can rebuild lasting happiness if you are rebuilding on less than solid ground – and if every instinct of the injured spouse says that the pre-affair marriage was only in a lull, or even a slump, but then accepts that the marriage was actually broken…if she or he accepts what details are given about the other person (poor injured person, bereft of my spouse’s love and attention) – when those details do not fit reality, since how can a woman of worth have a relationship with someone else’s HUSBAND – is it any wonder that the injured spouse occasionally appears to lose her mind?? As a result of your actions, your spouse’s world no longer makes any sense, and the less you are willing to dissapate the fog for her, the less willing YOU are to really sort through your own feelings and memories and distinguish between fantasy that makes you feel more comfortable and reality that makes you feel sucky about yourself, the longer it is going to take your spouse to heal. Robin

    • Doug February 12, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

      Robin. Thanks for your input. I agree at the time of writing that post, I was probably in a state where I felt it best that both Linda and I put the whole thing behind us. However, since then, and through our month long discussions in the Affair Recovery Group about how fantasy plays such a huge role in an affair, I’ve learned a lot and have come to the point where I’ve been able to distinguish between fantasy and reality before, during and after the affair. There is no halo being help over Tanya’s head, and I’m sure that our marriage wasn’t as bad as I had convinced myself that it was. That being said, I still believe that triggers are a difficult thing for the betrayed spouse to overcome. So why go looking for them?

      • Robin February 12, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

        I am still struggling through this as it has only been a little more than a year since my husband ended his very short affair and told me about the emotional part of it. The whole truth came out in dribbles, with the complete truth (hopefully) just 6 weeks ago when his perception of the affair changed. Based on my own experience, reading, counseling, and sharing with friends, I really feel like every person’s experience is different. For me, once I started trusting my own instincts and emotions again, I realized that “triggers” were actually trying to give me valuable information about something that needed to be addressed rather than ignored.

        We started working on our marriage immediately, and would make great strides, but he would start to feel guilty and pull away and the the lies he told to keep the whole truth from me didn’t make sense, so I would press for answers and eventually a new truth would come out. Even though I really believe that he truly loves me and immediately regretted going outside our marriage, after a year of work and confusion and hurt, I was really ready to leave. The shock of that seemed to make him realize that lying to me so I wouldn’t leave him was actually going to make me leave. I also pointed out that he was not lying to protect me, he was lying to protect himself. In trying to show me that it was not true, he tried to articulate what he had been feeling about the other woman. I realize that I can’t really know what another person is feeling, but I do recognize inaccurate facts, and since I have been a part of his life, family and circle of friends for 30 years, and since I had used every tool available on the internet to find out as much about the OW as possible, I was able to ask questions that pierced through the bubble of delusion and caused him to really question his assumption that she was his beautiful blond blue eyed lost love from high school that had found him on Facebook and poured out her regrets about losing him, reminding him of their earth shattering first kiss and her regret that he was not her first lover, her conviction that he was her soulmate and her search for him for years. The first six months of our recovery was complicated by his defense of her – she was wonderful, devout Christian woman who had suffered horribly, and he had made it worse by taking advantage of her. He actually seemed as guilty about what he had done to her as he was about what he had done to me. When he finally told me that they had actually had sex, his perception changed fairly quickly, since both I and his best friend pointed out that a “wonderful, devout Christian woman” would not have sent provocative emails to some one else’s husband within days of making contact, had phone sex with someone the first time she had spoken to them in 40 years, and then had sex with him the first time she had seen him in 40 years, all within 10 days of contact. Even though he insisted that he was not in love with her, he really believed that she was his lost love, that they should have been together, and that he had broken up with her because she was so sweet and innocent and he was ready for a sexual relationship, which he had moved into immediately. And then at Christmas, we were cleaning out a storage area and found his high school yearbooks and I looked her up, expecting it to be painful, but really believing in facing things head on. Instead, I ended up laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. She was a fairly plain brunette with brown eyes…no dance team, no blonde hair, no blue eyes. He didn’t believe me and actually went through all the annuals trying to find a picture that matched his image. The whole thing was a fantasy- he dated her for a couple of weeks when he was a freshman, and then went on to date other girls that he had more in common with until he finally got in a serious relationship when he was 17. He did not remember the girl in the picture at all. Once I stopped laughing, I was freaked out because I thought he had lied again until I saw how freaked he was…he actually doubted his own senses for a while.

        Although this level of fantasy or “affair fog” might be a little extreme, I still believe that if I had accepted that my need for information, even if it “triggered” a negative emotion, was an emotional weakness on my part, we would still be struggling through the two steps forward, three steps back dance we have been doing for the last year. Instead, we are really working together to sort out our lives and plan for the future. I have read so much, and so many hurt partners remain in their marriages trying so hard to act normal and avoid triggers that avoiding triggers becomes a trigger – they don’t seem able to move on. I don’t want to have those awful feelings and insecurities resurface in 5 years or 10 years, or even 20 years, which seems to happen to women on this site and others I have read. Surely there is some value in desensitizing myself – looking at what I fear or what upsets me squarely and processing it, instead of trying to bury it. Several people have talked about the recovery process being like PTSD – which means that every trigger puts the sufferer right back in the midst of the trauma – and although distance from the event might lessen the number of triggers, it does not actually seem to lessen the impact. There has to be a better way than just ignoring a festering wound.

        • Linda February 12, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

          Robin, I really understand what you are saying, I also believe the triggers are trying to send a message that we are not comfortable with the information we have received. In my mind so many things do not add up and are still unanswered that am I not comfortable letting them go until I really understand it. I believe that the cheater protects themselves by withholding the information and to be able to completely trust your spouse again they have to be totally honest when they answer your questions. I wonder if they really know what is truth and fantasy. Today we discussed something that was still didn’t make sense to me concerning the time when her husband found out, he has been very vague about this and today he gave me more information which really helped to understand it better. I know it is not productive to go over every detail of the affair but I believe in order to gain trust and promote honesty you need to believe what you spouse is telling you. Often that is very difficult to do when their is missing information or when the details don’t add up. I think the best advice to a cheater is to tell it all immediately, get it out in the open and deal with it. The revelation of new information every month really hinders trust and forces the betrayed spouse to keep questioning until they arrive at the truth. Linda

    • Linda February 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

      Robin, I agree I believe because the cheater wants to forget and move on they continue to keep the fantasy of the OP and how they believed their marriage was in tact. They don’t want to be challenged because then they may see how flawed their situation was. It is funny that Doug and I just had a lengthy conversation about Tanya earlier and then I came down and read your comment. I told him that it is important for me to know something about her so I could get a better understanding. Honestly it still doesn’t make sense, and I get the feeling that there will always be some sort of fantasy involved when it concerns her and our marriage. I feel like I am trying to do the same thing that she did, convince Doug that he should think a certain way about things and that is definitely not my intention. I want to prove to him that I am not the wife he believed I was and she was not this perfect woman who magically appeared in his life. The question is how does someone do this without appearing manipulative or defensive and why it that so important to me. How can you discuss the fantasy of the affair and the OP logically without the cheater feeling pressured? I know that most of the time I do a lousy job at this, but I want so badly for him to verbalize to me that I wasn’t such a bad wife prior to the affair and she wasn’t anything so great. Linda

      • Robin February 12, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

        Linda,

        My husband initially insisted that our marriage was in such bad shape before the affair that he didn’t think it was possible for us to survive – and that he was so unhappy about losing our love that he was desperate to feel better – and the OW showed up and assured him that she had loved him forever, that he was wonderful and smart and charming and she was completely fascinated by his work and on and on. Initially I was devastated and believed all of it – and accepted that I was so stupid I could miss the disintegration of our marriage, and took responsibility for not supporting him emotionally, and believed his perception, and the advice of our counselor, that the affair was not important except as a warning sign.

        And then the shock wore off and I actually started to think again. Because of my work schedule, I keep a detailed calendar and decided to try and figure out when the marriage fell apart. I made a list of the biggest events throughout the last several years (vacations, trips, celebrations, projects) and tried to put myself back there – remembering what happened and how I felt at the time, and I couldn’t find anything. He had been under a lot of stress and really busy, and he had been grouchy, especially in the morning, but right up until he actually strayed I actually thought my marriage was the one part of our lives that was working. I sat down with him and the list and asked him to do the same thing – to put himself back in those events to see if he could identify what happened and when he started feeling differently about me – and he couldn’t find anything. Based on our conversation, I started doing research – online and with affair books – and stumbled across information on the male mid-life crisis – and on the Irritable Male Syndrome and things actually started to make sense. The entire mess was never about me or about her, it was about his own dissatisfaction with himself and where he was in life. Instead of sitting down and examining how he was feeling, he just got busier and busier and forced all of his feelings down until he tried to make himself feel better by almost destroying his whole life. While he looked at the material when I gave it to him, and he could see himself in a “few” of the descriptions, he really did not feel like it applied to him becausee his affair was “different”. Until he was able to look at the affair and the other person openly and honestly, we really didn’t seem to make any forward progress.

        Finally, he seems to have realized that his lies after the affair was over, his reluctance to talk about the affair, and his attitude that my need to know what happened and what his feelings were for her were irrational all had nothing to do with wanting to protect my feelings. He was actually trying to protect himself – not to hold on to good feelings, but to avoid feeling the devastation he felt when he initially realized what he had done – to me, to our marriage, and to himself. The affair “magic” was actually a way to justify what he had done – but he really didn’t see that until recently.

        I think what made the difference was that I finally started trusting myself again, and worked to sort out the actual truth and then worked to not accept anything less. Even my counselor admits that she (and the counseling literature) need to update to the social media age – so much more information is available now. Women used to have to hire a PI or drive around like a crazy stalker – and that still didn’t provide actual information about the person. Now, you can use Facebook – which I did. I looked at her profile, pictures, and her wall. I looked at her friends and her friends pictures and walls, and I was able to get a pretty clear picture of her. I also checked some of the “woe is me” info that she told him – 20 year loveless marriage, her embezzling insurance agent husband left her for another man causing her to lose her church family, raised her two loving sons by herself. A lot of public records are available on line, including her ex’s business resume and his Facebook page. He is, and has been since he graduated from college, a successful advertising executive, and their divorce occurred only five years ago after both their sons had graduated from college and were married, and two years later her ex remarried – to a 26 year old, and they now have a baby. Her public image is of a woman who everything I am not – and not interested in being. She is very attractive, but her hair color is from a bottle and her eye color is from opaque contacts, and she has been seriously considering surgery to address some of those flaws that appear as we age – especially her eyes and breasts. She is socially, religiously, and politically conservative, interested in social status, very vain and seems to feel a strong need for compliments and praise, especially from men, doesn’t read, doesn’t travel. The more I actually knew about her, the less I felt insecure. If she was really the type of woman that he needed to make him happy, then he was not the man for me since not only am I not capable of being that woman, but I wouldn’t even want to know her. I think that attitude may have helped pierce the fog…I know that I am a lot happier now – at least I have a more well rounded picture, so if I accidently start to worry and compare myself to her, I have something to balance against her attractive well groomed face.
        Robin

        • Linda February 12, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

          Robin, wow good for you, you must feel empowered. I am sure that if I would look at things realistically rather than from a fantasy perceptive concerning the OW I would be better off. You did all the things I wished I could have done but was afraid too. When I look at all the information Doug has told me I wonder what was he thinking, is that the kind of a person he wanted to leave me for. unfortunately in my weak moments I live in the fantasy and think she is some woman who looks like all the actresses on TV, is the life of the party and that knows how to make a man happy. Maybe she is but I imagine it all comes with a price and beyond that she has many issues that someone who is with her would have to deal with.

          I am interesting in learning more information about Male Midlife crisis. Initially I suspected that was Doug’s problem then I put it to the side after Doug confirmed his affair and then I began to focus my efforts in that area. Thanks for all your insight it has been very valuable. You really seem to be on the right path. Linda.

  17. Yuki February 12, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    My husband told me this morning that he really does not need any help or counseling. He thinks I’m Miss Looney Tunes who does need help. At least he is willing to help me get better. He has accepted the no contact rule, but again that is just for me. He has no clue about all his fantasies concerning the OP. But they sure are there! She was really good at and he was such a willing partner in playing up the fantasy of herself as the perfect wife and lover and best friend, the one who could understand him best because they had known each other throughout their childhood and teen years. All the while she always talked about how Yuki would never understand. And he played up his best side, too, while creating a awful picture of her husband. Funny you are all writing about this… I didn’t sleep a wink last night, trying to think of how to break this fantasy.

  18. Helena May 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    My partner called me a little while ago and let me know that the OW sent him a text message today telling him what a sweet man he is and gushing with compliments for him and whatnot. He told her on January 6 not to contact him again, and this is the first time he has heard from her since then. He said he will show me the text message when I get home. I told him not to respond to it, and he said he won’t.

    This is so frustrating. What does she want? Why send him such a message after months of no contact since he told her not to contact him again? Is it possible that he didn’t tell her in certain enough terms not to contact him again? This is so frustrating.

    I suspect she is fishing for him to tell her he feels the same way about her or something along those lines. I also suspect she is trying to find out whether I’m still in the picture and what kind of chance she still has with him.

    Is it the right thing to not respond to her message? I mean, he could respond by reminding her that he told her not to contact him again, and telling her to lose his number, but I think even that would give her some kind of gratification and therefore encourage her in some way, wouldn’t it?

    • Greg May 24, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

      Helena,
      Good for you, he told you! Think about that rather than her. Your husband thought more about you than her and called you instead of responding to her. Ignore her or tell her to F off it doesn’t matter any more.

    • Healing Mark May 24, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

      Helena. The OW’s number can be blocked. And should be blocked. Nice that you partner told you about this text, and perhaps this is the first and only text he has received from the OW, but think about what the OW would think if her text to your partner came back undelivered b/c it had been blocked.

      I suspect that you do not have access to phone records to confirm no other contact via phone or text. Even if you did, checking to see if no contact is continuing is exhausting and something to get over, in my opinion, as soon as you can. The sooner you can trust that any unwanted contact will be shared with you, as appears to be the case, the better off you are.

      Ignoring the OW is not, in my opinion, as effective as replying with a stern “Don’t contact me anymore.” message, with you copied on the text. Perhaps you guys inform the OW now that her number will now be blocked so no need to send any further texts.

    • blueskyabove May 25, 2012 at 9:59 am #

      Helena,

      We went through a similar scenario with my H’s AP. The OW is looking for attention and trying to cause trouble in your marriage, She probably feels she has nothing to lose for her efforts. You and/or your H can either continue to let her call the shots or you can decide together that the game is over. If he told her in January not to contact him then it appears she doesn’t care about his wishes.

      She is trying to manipulate the situation and if either of you respond to her then she succeeds. As long as her manipulations keep working, she will keep manipulating. Regardless of the actual wording your H used in January there is absolutely no need to tell her again. She will get the message if you ignore her. Manipulators don’t really like having to work that hard without getting some kind of payoff for their efforts.

  19. Trying Hard October 4, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    Linda
    I do the same. I drive by where she works to see if she is still working there or if she is at work when my H says he has an appointment. I look at her Pinterest page to see what she’s posting. I can’t say any of these acts give me triggers but sometimes I get mad at myself for doing it. I know it’s not helping but in some stupid convoluted way I feel in control somewhat knowing what she’s doing. Stupid I know. In my case the OW is not more attractive or better than me on any level. He affaired down so when I look at her I’m punched in the gut that I was replaced with that? My friends compared it to having a Mercedes and trading it for a Pinto.
    I get why you are doing it and I’m not even going to suggest you stop but maybe next time it occurs to you to peek, ask yourself if you really want to or need to and what is it going to do for you. You may even tell yourself, ok I’m going to look but I know I’m setting myself up to deal with a lot of stuff if I do. If you can handle all the fallout by looking, do it if not put it away for a while and come back to it later. Our H’s do not have all the answers or capability to make all our hurt go away. No one does but us. Turn the looking glass around. Maybe she’s looking at your picture and saying, look at Linda she is so smart, and beautiful, and accomplished no wonder he went back to her, he lied to me about how awful she was. Just my opinion.

  20. Gizfield October 9, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    I have emails between my H and Gf saved but not because I’m jealous or anything. also texts between me and her. It is to remind myself what a liar and gas lighter and general creep he was and to kick his ass to the curb immediately if he ever does this shit again. Did I mention he was a liar??? Never again.

  21. Deni March 14, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

    I printed a picture and burned it. I also tore up all high school pictures he had of his girlfriend from 25 years ago too. The same gf he had his second affair with last year. I don’t troll on the Internet, stopped doing that 2 months ago when he told me she was still beautiful after all these years. My mental health is so much more important than his desire to rekindle his past relationships and boost his own ego.

    • Strengthrequired March 14, 2016 at 6:41 pm #

      Demi, you are so right, your mental health is so much more important. Our cs’s chose to have an affair and shove it in our faces, yet we take the brunt of all the pain and mental anguish and frustration, as well as all the depressions and sadness that goes along with it, yet at the same time trying to be the “rock” for our children and doing the work to keep our families together by ourselves, waiting for the Cs to wake up.
      Our mental stability goes through a hell of a lot, we pray for the pain to just end, and everything to go back to normal, as if nothing happened. Unfortunately the damage was done, so once the Cs finally sees the error of their ways, we still struggle to come to terms with our “new marriage” one that is not like it used to be, the way we used to view it, it is nolonger viewed as stable, and we nolonger see ourselves as irreplaceable,

  22. April April 28, 2017 at 12:21 pm #

    My H had an EA with the ex wife of his brother who took his own life 2 years ago. She has 2 children, our niece and nephew. During the EA, my H was taking our nephew to cub scout meetings, which made me uncomfortable because it was like the ex wife wanted my H to be like a father figure to her children.

    I tried to accept that my H was being a good uncle, but after exposing the EA I didn’t want anything to do with the ex wife. I didn’t want my H to be at her beck and call for her children. My H denied the EA and said they were just friends. He got mad at me because I told him he was having an EA. He stopped doing cub scouts and he stopped texting her only because I was angry. Now I get the silent treatment and guilt.

    She is still accepted as a member of my H family, and is at holiday gatherings and family parties. It is very hard to see my H interact with her. I just ignore her. It’s about all I can do. No one in my H family believes it was an EA either. They can’t understand why I have a problem with my H “friendship” with the ex wife.

    My H has been depressed and suicidal for almost 2 years since this all started. He has struggled with his mental health since before we met, but I never knew how much until this happened. He’s not sure how to get better. I’m doing everything I can to help him. We are close to going our separate ways.

    He told me that he needs to see the kids more than just during the holidays. That doing that will make him feel better. I never told him that he can’t see them, but I worry that he and the ex wife will connect again. My H doesn’t feel like it was an EA, he doesn’t see a problem with this. He hasn’t taken the time to realize how much hurt he caused me. Trying to explain it to him only causes fights. I’m not even sure why I hung around so long.

    We are on our second marriage counselor. It’s all or nothing. When we told her our situation, she asked if I care about being an aunt to the kids. I said yes, but I don’t feel responsible for them like my H does and I don’t want to be around the ex wife other than holiday parties where I can at least avoid her.

    Is it fair to use the kids as a reason for me to accept what happened between my H and the ex wife? To just let it go for the sake of the kids? We have no children, btw.
    I’m not sure I understood what the MC meant by that question. Like she was just telling me to be an aunt and suck it up??

    I know my H would never agree to no contact because he said that he feels responsible for the kids. Doesn’t that mean he also feels responsible for the ex wife?

    It feels like I have to decide to stay with my H and accept his obligation to the ex wife and her kids……or to end our marriage and walk away.

  23. Shifting Impressions April 28, 2017 at 2:32 pm #

    April
    You are in a really difficult situation. The thing is I totally understand why the family wants to stay in contact with the ex….she is the mother of their grandchildren and as in your husband’s case his niece and nephew. These children are they have left of their son or again as in your husband’s case brother. Also the children have lost their father and need their extended family in their lives.

    This puts you in a really difficult situation. Any negativity or criticism on your part against the ex wife will only alienate you from your husband and his extended family. A really good read for you might be the book JUST NOT FRIENDS by Shirley Glass.

    If you can work together with your husband to set boundaries with ex that might help. He needs help in understanding what is appropriate and what isn’t. He doesn’t really have an obligation to the ex wife, but the kids…..would you really want him to walk away from them?

    I feel for you….this must be so hard. At least you are seeing a counselor, to help with all this.

    • April April 29, 2017 at 8:57 am #

      Thank you. I really appreciate the book suggestion. I will definitely look for it. I feel so stuck. I just don’t want to get hurt by my H again because of his needs. All I can think about is how many triggers I have to face by trying to heal myself and my marriage. It feels like I have to do all the work when I wasn’t the one who turned to someone else.

      The ex wife was the BS in her marriage to my BIL. It wasn’t just an EA and then my BIL moved in with the OW. The ex wife should know how I’m feeling and understand, but I’d never take the time to try and explain it to her. She overstepped boundaries with me and I’m done with her.

      I haven’t even begun to discuss the EA with my H and the effect it had on both of us. I have to get past the feeling that this was all my fault. I realize that our marriage has it’s issues, but I never expected this to happen.

      It’s going to be really hard to set up boundaries with my H and his appropriate behavior with the ex wife.

      There is a family party today and I’ve already asked my H to not tell the ex wife that we’re in MC. He got mad at me!! I told him that was all I was asking because I know he’s going to speak to her.
      The first time we were in MC, he would text her about it right after we’d get home! How does that help us and the privacy of our marriage??

      I’m just worried that my H won’t give 100% in wanting to repair our marriage. I know he’s going to be frustrated with me at times and just want me to let it go. I’ve been trying to give him the attention and support that I know he feels was missing before. I do love him, but I don’t want to get my heart stepped on again. I don’t want him to put the kids ahead of me. I should come first.

      • Shifting Impressions April 29, 2017 at 1:45 pm #

        Hi April
        I got the title of the book wrong it’s NOT JUST FRIENDS.

        Yes, you should absolutely come first. And none of this is your fault….your husband is making the poor choices. You are right it’s not anyone else’s business that you are in MC.

        I am surprised the EA and the setting of boundaries hasn’t come up in MC as you said the two of you haven’t discussed it.

        • April May 5, 2017 at 9:07 am #

          Shifting Impressions, I did get the book and I’ve already read it. Thank you again. It’s something I’d like to get my H to read, but who knows if he ever will.
          We’ve only had 2 sessions with the MC and in the second session I did bring up the EA and expressed some of my feelings. My H basically rolled his eyes and said that we’ve been over this a hundred times. I said that’s the reason why we’re here because we can’t have a rational discussion about it at home. We just scream, or get mad or he walks away and gives me the silent treatment.

          I did manage to get my H to say that he would be mad and upset if I did the things he did, (hiding texts, lying, etc.), but I feel like he doesn’t see a problem with what he’s done. I don’t want to punish him, but I don’t think he’s able to realize how much hurt he caused me. He said he thought I didn’t care and he decided that he’d be with someone who did care….the ex wife.

          I don’t want to keep dragging this around. I don’t like talking about the EA anymore than my H doesn’t like hearing about it.
          I don’t think he even wants to accept that’s what it was because he’s keeping the idea that since the ex wife is “family” and she’s just a good friend that what happened between them can’t be labeled as an EA. He wouldn’t consider even trying to explain it to the ex wife. Why hurt her feelings?

          That family party was a bit nerve wracking. My H ignored the ex wife all night, standing by my side. Then just as we were leaving, he wanted to say goodbye to a guy he played hockey with years ago. It just so happened that the ex wife was standing there too and I saw him talking to her and he gave her a hug. I wanted to confront him that night , but I didn’t want a fight.
          I did tell the MC about his ignoring and she asked him if he did that for me and he said, yes. I didn’t say that he did talk to her right before we left, but I’m going to address it in our next session. I want to know if he really went over to his friend to speak to the ex wife or if she just happened to be there and he felt the need to say something since he ignored her all night. I don’t even know what they said to each other. I didn’t go with my H, but I saw it from across the room. I wish I was there now.

          During this last session I said that my H has to set boundaries with the ex wife for our marriage and for my security. The MC agreed. I also asked my H not to hug the ex wife anymore. He doesn’t need that kind of affection from her and it makes me uncomfortable. I don’t think my H liked that idea. It really doesn’t feel like he wants to do any work on our marriage since he feels like it’s just about family. I’m sure he just wants all this talk about an EA to go away.

          We don’t talk about our marriage at home. We have superficial conversations….what’s on t.v., and other meaningless things, or we don’t talk at all. We don’t know how to communicate.

          It’s been almost 2 years of this alternate life we’re living. It’s not real. I’m hoping that MC will help us heal. I can only open up and feel safe saying what I need to in MC. The sad part is that we just started and the MC is going on vacation for 2 weeks after this next session. I want to be able to have some real conversations with my H at home while we wait for the MC to return and we have our next session. I’m so willing to put in the hard work and get my marriage back in a good place, but I’m not sure if my H can commit himself fully. I’m hoping for some breakthrough in this next session.

          Again, thank you for the book recommendation.I go back and re-read parts of it everyday. It has really helped me know I’m part of this too and I have to work just as hard at repairing my marriage.

          • Shifting Impressions May 5, 2017 at 3:27 pm #

            Hi April
            I am so glad the book is of help to you. I am so sorry you are going through this. As I read your post, you remind me somewhat of myself. I like to lay everything out on the table and get things resolved. But as is often the way I’m married to someone who’s motto is “Let things unfold as they unfold.” Over the years I have found the best way is somewhere in the middle.

            You sound like me in the fact that you just want to really talk this whole thing out…..

            On the other hand your husband doesn’t really seem to understand what the problem is or perhaps doesn’t want to understand. He shows some compliance on the outside….but on the inside there is a different story going on. Like the little boy that was told to sit down who said…”I may be sitting down but I am standing up on the inside”.

            I imagine that you are waiting for true remorse on his part and an understanding of the pain he is causing you. The thing is…this is a long process, that can’t be rushed.

            If I can give you some advice, try taking a step back. Oh I know…..this is extremely difficult to do. If you go through the blog there are several posts on doing this. If I am right about you being a bit like me, this also feels counter productive, but trust me….it will help…it will give both of you some breathing room.

            Perhaps you can shift your focus a bit. Worry more about taking good care of yourself than “fixing the marriage” or waiting for that “breakthrough”. That just puts so much pressure on both of you.

            Try having some fun….making some new memories. I know that sounds almost impossible but doing that has some value.

            When I stepped back and we limited the amount of conversation about the EA my husband started to be more open.

            Be thankful he is willing to go for counseling, my husband was not willing to do that. So during every counseling session you have the opportunity for those difficult conversations….but in between maybe you can change your focus a bit. Like I said if you search the blog, this “backing off” thing is discussed at length.

            I poured out a lot of my emotions in a journal just for me. I went for counseling just for me. I have a few close friends to talk to. Having that helped me take a step back.

            Sorry to have gone on so long….but my heart goes out to you. Take care of yourself. You are not to blame for your husband’s pour choices.

            • April May 5, 2017 at 7:02 pm #

              Shifting Impressions, I cannot express enough gratitude for your response. I wasn’t sure about posting here at all, but now I’m glad I did because of your support and advice.

              I feel for you too and I’m glad that we can connect and hopefully support each other . I am so sorry that your H won’t go to counseling. It must be frustrating. You sound like you’ve been able to at least focus on yourself and your well-being. I hope you can continue to heal.

              I realize that I need to back off on the conversations about the EA. I’ve kept a journal since the beginning too. I write whatever I’m feeling(good /bad) and make notes about things I need to remember when we go to counseling.

              You sound just like my mom and my friends when you tell me to just take care of myself. I think I’m doing the best I can. I try not to stress too much because I have MS. I’m actually surprised that I haven’t had any serious health problems considering what I’ve gone through so far. It is hard to push myself some days, and I do have a good cry session once in a while. It helps.

              I want to get past the EA, and I know I can’t rush things. I have certain issues I want to discuss with my H and I know that any added pressure from me will only make it worse for him to open up.It’s almost like he realizes what he’s done, but has a hard time admitting to it. He’s always been a man of few words and very quiet. He keeps a lot of things bottled up tight. It can get frustrating.
              I’d expect after being together for 25 years that he’d be able to tell me anything, but he’s a tough nut to crack.

              I’ve got plans to focus more on myself. I know it’s important to do that and can only serve to help me get through this, no matter what the outcome.
              I did read another blog post here about backing off and keeping in touch with myself. I’ll have to look some more.

              Once again, you have given me great support and advice and I truly appreciate it. Take care of yourself and take it day by day.
              We have to tell ourselves that we are both worth it and deserve to have happiness and love in our lives.

              • Shifting Impressions May 6, 2017 at 1:16 am #

                April
                You are so welcome….thanks for your kind words. I honestly found that this site was has been a lifeline for me, these last three years.

                You will find lots of information and support here. No one quite understands like someone who has also gone through it.

                And yes a good crying session is helpful….much better than holding it all in. It’s okay to let yourself feel the pain.

                Take care

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