Good Wednesday to everyone!

As you read this, we are out in the wilderness for a few days of backpacking with our son.  It’s been awhile since we’ve done this so I hope that we make it out of the woods alive!

It was a very last minute decision to head out into the wilds, so as a result of our rushing to get everything together, we decided our discussion this week will be a repeat of sorts from one that we ran over a year ago on dealing with obsessive thoughts.

After finding out about your spouse’s infidelity, you’ve been through a tremendous amount of emotional trauma.  It’s been life altering indeed.   You will be able to heal from this but it may hard for you to really believe that at this point in time. You may think that you will be forever stuck with the obsessive thoughts of the affair and may never reclaim your peace of mind.

The mind is a powerful thing. After the affair the mind can manipulate your thinking to the point that you can obsess about your spouse’s affair and/or the affair partner. These thoughts and images can be both destructive and controlling. But they are there. And we all need to learn how to deal with them.

With this in mind, here are some questions to consider with respect to dealing with obsessive thoughts after infidelity:

What thoughts of the affair or the other person playing in your mind today?

How would you describe the thoughts and images that have come to you after the affair?

What affect have these obsessive thoughts and images had on your quality of life and ability to move forward?

Have they lessened with time, or strengthened?

Do you feel powerless to control these thoughts?

What, if anything has helped  to lessen these thoughts and their control over you?

As always, please respond to each other in the comments.

Thanks!

Linda & Doug

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LINESPACE

    54 replies to "Discussion – Dealing With Obsessive Thoughts After Infidelity"

    • tsd

      So interesting you post this as I have I questioned why my husband could say and do the things with his ea partner that he could never do with me…when I asked my h why did you do this or that, yet you wouldn’t with me, he had no answer….for instance, he would take her out for breakfast…not me. He would hold her hand, not me….he would kiss her tenderly, not me. He would call her pet names, not me. He would say in every text, I love you, yet he said it to me too. When I asked him, why? He said, those were just words…ya right, right…words said to another woman. I seriously don’t think think for one moment his answer was truthful. Upon looking back, and with help from some friends in here, he was a lost little boy that couldn’t ask me for what was missing in his life. This wasnt about me, but him….For convenience, he snapped up a woman he worked out with..the new found comfort and ease of conversation led to his having an ea with her for a few years. This wasn’t a fog, it was clearly a fantasy world. I get that now, and I wish when my life got busy and hard to handle, I go retreat into a fantasy world….but that’s why books were invented!!!! Read, and your mind can escape. Don’t reach for someone else’s hand. Such a doofus…the best way to tell the CS how we’ve been hurt, is to have them envision us with someone else. When I painted that picture for my husband he admitted it was a picture he didn’t like.i never had pictures of them. I had a picture of him…I never once blamed the ow…I blamed my husband for crossing the line. He is at fault. I don’t care how the ow acted, he did our marriage wrong. I don’t think of the ea now, I think about how our marriage needs to change…and how stubborn my husband is refusing to admit surrender…

    • vixy7363

      tsd- im new to this sorry – I hope you dont mind me asking, are you still with your husband? a lot of what you say resonates with me and my situation with my husband, e.g fantasy world, and it being about him. Thanks.

    • chiffchaff

      Gosh. I was mega obsessive after Dday#1, 2 and 3.

      *What thoughts of the affair or the other person playing in your mind today?*

      Few, thankfully. My H was very down yesterday and because he said he felt worthless and without purpose, he couldn’t see why I took him back at all. I can see now how he felt like this before his PA/EA began and how he used porn and then the OW to try to make him feel better about himself. It was all about him and nothing about her, apart from that she was on the look out for a married man to have some safe and sexy fun with to liven up her dull and narcissistic life.

      I am more focused on how to help him so he values himself enough to not do it again, to choose healthier ways to deal with being down than instant gratification of some sort.

      *How would you describe the thoughts and images that have come to you after the affair?*

      Horrible. I found too many real images and conversations that then gave my brain lots of horrid, sordid things to think about. I saw my H and her together in my mind, happy, excited, in-love, romantic, and having the most amazing sex. I wanted to know as much about her as possible. In the end I had a PhD on her whereas my H had a kid’s bedtime story version by comparison.
      I thought what they had was ‘true love’ and that I was just getting in the way. I know now that I was very wrong, even if my H would never admit that.

      What affect have these obsessive thoughts and images had on your quality of life and ability to move forward?

      They made me feel inadequate and repulsive. I felt rejected and abandoned personally, tarded in for a better more exciting model. Seeing pictures of her made me feel sick with fear. It stopped me eating and also stopped me enjoying things I normally enjoyed doing for quite some time. I could think of nothing else most days for about 6 months.

      *Have they lessened with time, or strengthened?*

      They have lessened now, they were very strong indeed at points and I didn’t believe they would ever stop or I would ever get my own life back. They are much much weaker now as I have become much much stronger.

      *Do you feel powerless to control these thoughts?*

      I did at first. I had to work very hard to stop googling her. I still do but it’s not as frequent at all and I sometimes start then imemdiately wonder why the hell I’m doing it and stop.

      *What, if anything has helped to lessen these thoughts and their control over you?*

      Concentrating on my own life instead and doing things that make me happy. Trusting my friends and spending more time with them. Dealing with things I didn’t like about myself and could change. Being kinder to myself. Pitying the OW for her shallow, empty life.

    • Hopeful

      Oh how I did obsess and obsess and obsess before and after d-day. It has been a calendar year almost since then and my H and I have gone to counseling (together and separately), he has lied, repented, ended things, reflected, we have grown, explored, reconnected with tenderness, and are stronger than ever. I am happy now.

      But, even with an eventually fully repentant and transparent H willing and committed to do anything to work on our marriage, it took a long time before I feel safe and sometimes I am still struck with nightmares, obsessive thoughts, and fear.

      What I obsess about has changed. Initially, I worried about what was up with him. What he having an affair with this woman? Where was he all day on Saturday? Why is he so mean to me? Does he love me? I drove myself nuts and he completely gas lighted me and left me feeling crazy and inept. Then, I obsessed about that.

      After D-day, I obsessed about whether it was over and what it was. I hunted for meaning and clues and evidence. What did they feel, do, say? Did you they each other? Where did they meet? When? For how long? What was said? Are they still in contact?

      They were but things were wrapping up and then a certain end and the true healing began, but my H’s story was vague and spotty and opaque. Detail upon detail had to be drawn out and despite his desire to save the marriage he couldn’t admit what REALLY happened, even when I basically said: this is what I think/feel which was pretty accurate. Because there was a huge gap between what I felt and what he told me, I obsessed about that. I didn’t feel safe. I didn’t feel I could trust him because it seemed like he wasn’t taking ownership, or explaining why he did this or even what it was for him. I’m not sure he entirely understood then either.

      Obsessed about her. Why her? Googled her. Looked at photos of her. Compared her to me. She is sexier? More free? She is smarter? Funny? More than me? I obsessed about her and her motivations? I obsessed about my lacks and magnified weaknesses in myself, forgetting the many many strengths.

      I was riddled for months. Lost weight. Could not control my thoughts. Couldn’t work effectively. I felt like it would never end.

      things began getting dramatically better when we hit a bottom of discovery. Having found out ANOTHER detail (and not even a meaningful one) that he lied to me about over and over, he finally told me openly the whole story in great detail and with greater sense of reflection and distance and I finally could hear it without freaking out. We made a marriage contract anew. I believed finally that he understood what happened and was mortified by his actions and that I finally really had the essential story and that it made sense. I also felt the wedge between us dissipate.

      When I obsessed, he suddenly became my ally and source of comfort. He showed tremendous empathy which made the thoughts lessen greatly over time.

      Soon after the bottom (9 months after d-day) things really changed and now our lives are more or less our own again. The EA finds us and it sucks but less so and we are teammates to get through the dark thoughts.

      I am not fully released or healed, and, yet, I can finally say that I am free from the destructive cycle of obsession.

      In short, this process sucks ass and takes a long time. I advise BS to go easy on themselves. Take care of things but know that there is a sane and important reason for that obsession and it needs to take its course. It is a response to being traumatized and lied to by someone we trust. the thoughts cannot be forced away and will not go away until you feel you know the truth and feel safe and have 100% support and renewed trust in your marriage and spouse. And even then, …

      Time.

      • Dave

        I’m six months out and it feels like this cycle is never going to end. I thought I was doing better and now I’m neck deep in it again. It is so overwhelming at times that I’ve been feeling as if I’ll never be able to get over it and that life without her is the only way I’ll be happy. Thank you for your comments and another perspective.

    • Broken2

      Those thoughts controlled me. Looking at phone records, imagining her with him, him calling her. Comparing calenders to phone calls and on and on. Its an awful way to live. Now 21 months later I have learned to control my thoughts…the thoughts dont control me. I have learned to relax and seperate anxiety from reality. It isnt easy but it is so much better.

    • CA

      Funny…I am smack in the middle of a 4 or 5 day obsession right now. One day last week my H and I were e-mailing back and forth many times during both of our work days. This is unusual because we are both pretty busy at work. It hit me like a punch in the stomach that I knew instinctively that he did this many times with her as they are on the same e-mailing system and work for the same company. It is just one more thing that makes me feel like she had such a piece of him for that 4 month time.

      I feel like it is getting better with time, though. Six months ago these obsessive thoughts would have paralyzed me for the day…now not so much.

      With that being said…I’m really ready for all of this shit to end and judging from the timelines that everyone talks about, it’s probably not going to happen soon 🙁

    • roller coaster rider

      Today is 15 months from D-Day 1, about 9 months since I left and just over 2 months since our divorce became final. Six months ago I couldn’t even imagine being friends because I trusted him so little. Something very significant happened in January that has continued to the present, and I began seeing him again at that time. Obsessing used to be my middle name, even my parents would tell me to “stop being so compulsive.” So, despite some changes I’ve made in my adult life, with something as traumatic as what we’ve been through this past year, obsessing was nearly impossible to avoid. You have all expressed what I did.

      We are intending to remarry this summer, and have been working hard to make intentional decisions and choices that should be foundational to a much healthier relationship. Do I think about the affair now, or the OW? Kind of. I mean, I’m still visiting this website daily. But my thoughts and feelings about what happened have changed drastically and I have the view that in some ways, I can be grateful. My H needs to continue opening up to me and not allowing himself to be so consumed by his work…which is really hard since he has a new job with lots of responsibility and challenge. Chiffchaff, what you said about your H using porn and the OW to feel better about himself is what my H has always done with his career, and substances, and most recently the OW. But the way I coped before I will NEVER do again, which was to be okay with whatever. Not going to happen. Because it’s not okay. I’m working on striking a balance, as I can be very content doing my own thing. To be in relationship, there must be two.

    • WriterWife

      I’ve definitely been obsessive, and still am about the OW to a certain degree (don’t know how to stop!) though not as much about other stuff.

      In the days after finding out about the EA I obsessively googled about affairs/emotional affairs. I wanted to know *more* and hear other people’s stories. I couldn’t think of anything else and but it was exhausting to think about my situation and I found comfort in reading about others.

      For a couple of months, if not more, the EA was pretty much all I could think about. It seriously got in the way of life and work. I read books on relationships, continued to read websites, went to counseling. As part of our counseling my husband had to write an “audit” about the affair which means he had to write down every detail of his relationship (even before he had feelings for her) and — weeks later — read it to me. It was almost 20 pages long single spaced.

      Most of it I knew already except for one thing: that at the holiday Xmas party (which I was at), he saw her holding her nephew and thought “I want her to be the mother of my children.” I was devastated because he never felt that way about me and we’ve chosen not to have kids (for one reason because he doesn’t want them). I was standing next to him when he had that thought (he told me when it was) and I couldn’t stop replaying that scene in my head over and over and over again.

      I feel like I’ve somewhat moved beyond a lot of those things, but I haven’t been able to move beyond the OW. She was one of my closest friends and I don’t understand how she could do that to me (she claims she didn’t return his feelings and did nothing wrong) and how she didn’t ever contact me to say she was sorry — even if she wanted to deny her involvement, she never said “I’m sorry you’re my best friend and you might be getting divorced and are hurting.”

      I google her, less now than I did (because I’ve pretty much found everything – lol), but still often. Sometimes when I’m around other of my husband’s work colleagues I ask questions that I know will lead to finding out information about her. I think she’s starting up a similar relationship to another man my husband works with (and that man’s fiance) and I’m massively curious to know everything about it. I defriended her on facebook but sometimes I’ll see who she’s friended and then go track them down to see if I can figure out how they fit into her life.

      And I don’t know why. I think it matters to me whether she’s moving on — I don’t want her to. I don’t like to admit it, but I *liked* that she seemed to be crushed by all of this — that she showed up to work late, looking like shit, that she had no other friends. I felt like my life was falling apart and I wanted hers to as well. And it was.

      There was a point when I’d gotten over her — I let her go. And somehow, that changed. Oddly, I think there’s a comfort in having this anger toward her when I know in reality, the worst thing I could do to her is not care about her at all, positive or negative.

      I feel like if I understood why I still cared about her at all, I could work to change it. But right now, I still don’t know.

      • Hopeful

        wow, i sure do relate to this last bit on caring about the Ow. I totally hate the beyotch and still Google her every now and again. I want to see her ruined. And, yes, not caring at all would be the best revenge because she is a narcissistic, succubus who thrives off any attention, good or bad.

        If you find a solution, could you let me know? : )

        • WriterWife

          I’ve definitely spent a lot of time wondering what I truly wish for the OW. I once read a quote (I think from here) that was: “I hope you never need someone by your side so desperately and when you turn to lean, they are leaning on someone else.” I’ve definitely felt that way about her. I was terribly depressed last year and felt like my career — my dream career that my husband helped me build — was falling apart and my husband, who I desperately needed, was in love with her and had no time or emotional energy for me.

          I think the worst I could wish for the OW is for her to continue her life as it is… for her to not change at all. That would truly be the worst thing I could imagine and it seems very highly likely. Which is a sad thing to wish on a former friend. But it also allows me to feel pity and to walk away.

          Though, her dream job is the one that I have… if she ever gets up the courage to try to go after it, I’m not saying I wouldn’t step in her way 🙂

        • Anita

          Hopeful,
          I do have the solution, and it works.
          Forgive her, and pray for her.
          By Forgiving it takes the poison away from you, and it frees you from the past.
          Also forgiving means you give up the right for revenge.
          Remember those who anger you, also control you,
          such as obsessing over that person, instead of enjoying
          your life.

      • chiffchaff

        I think I look up the OW because I’m desperate to find some evidence that she’s moved on and has a real relationship of her own to concentrate on, something she puts out on the internet rather than hiding. I do occasionally wish to find her name in the obits, but otherwise I don’t wish her harm, more I want to know that she’s safely out of the way. Safely in a normal relationship so will have no intention of looking up my H when she’s feeling in need of attention ever again.
        But I don’t think she’s the type of person who has normal relationships with men, so she will always feel like a risk to me and my happiness. She seemed to know the game quite well, she never asked my H about me. He never told her anything about me, she didn’t even know my name. She only knew minor negative things about our relationship such as my fear of heights. I have always found it odd that she didn’t want to know why this married man was shagging her so keenly then going home to his wife. My theory is that she’d done the obvious stuff before with married men and it hadn’t worked, so she knew to not ask and it was more likely to continue. She’s an experienced trollope basically. I do pity her, simply because for all the massive self-esteem she said she had, she was taking crumbs off the table and waiting around for someone who lived 7k miles away, who was married – she can’t really have had much self-esteem to do that for 9 months and then continue it after he didn’t leave me for her on my discovery. enough about her… but as other BSs will know, it’s dead easy to get on that track!

        • Anita

          Chiffchaff,
          You stated “You always found it odd that she didn’t want to
          know why this married man shagging her so keenly then
          going home to his wife.”
          This sentence is a question for your husband to answer,
          why did he shag this other woman, when he was married
          to you. I know your hurting, but your husband needs to
          address why he chose to shag her. It was his job to
          remain faithful to you.
          Chiffchaff, I know its much less painful to blame the other woman, however there should have never been another
          woman, your husband had no business shagging her
          in the first place. He betrayed you with her, she can’t
          come into your marriage unless he opens that door.
          She could have propositioned him until she turned blue
          in the face, and would have got nowhere, unless he is
          the one who allows it. It was his job to tell her to jump
          in a lake. But he didn’t instead he chased her. I know this
          hurts and I’m sorry, but your husband brought this pain
          unto you.

    • AngelWings

      I can relate to so many of you on this topic. I am a year out from Dday and I, too, have been obsessing lately over the EA and the OW. I seem to be looking her up on FB and seeing her pictures makes me feel even more insecure. Yet, I can’t seem to stop myself. I even went to my H FB and deleted some of their mutual friends just because I don’t want them relating any information about us to her. I know my H is sorry and remorseful about the EA, but I still feel like I haven’t had the meaningful apology from him that I need. I don’t know what it is I’m looking for but I know I haven’t had it yet. Which in turn continues my obsession over him and her. I believe that there hasn’t been any contact since he cut things off with her, but I obsess over her trying to contact him again. She’s already tried to friend him once again on FB and I just don’t feel like it’s over. I feel like she will try and contact him again and I obsess over what he will do. The never ending cycle. I know most of it is in my mind and I need to work on getting over these obsessions. But I just don’t know how for now. Hoping time will continue to heal this broken and shattered heart of mine.

      • roller coaster rider

        AngelWings, I was in your exact place a year ago, with H very ambivalent. Given what I knew about the affair which was also physical, I believed the OW would definitely try again but what made it worse was my H saying things like, “I don’t know if I can do this.” Meaning change enough to make our marriage work. That may have been the reason I told him then, “I will do this once.” It just kept seeming like waiting for the other shoe to drop. And it did.

        What I came to realize was that I would fight for my marriage but I wasn’t going to fight to get H to see what he was trading off in order to ‘have his cake and eat it too.’ When I left following D-Day 2, I told him to go make a life with her and I really kind of hoped he would attempt that because I knew it would be a horrible choice and one he would definitely wish he hadn’t made after about five minutes. I think those months when I was gone, didn’t talk to him (blocked his number so he couldn’t call or text) and he had to face the reality of what he had done to decimate not just one life but six (we have four kids, all adults, but still crushed)…it was a watershed time for him.
        I’m not advocating divorce but I do think a reality check at the very least is in order. The CS needs to see what they’re really doing in bringing this firestorm into their home. It doesn’t always have a happy ending, but maybe it can for the betrayed if they find healing and hope, with or without the CS. Personally, I am DONE with being a BS. I only have room in my life for a faithful partner.

        • roller coaster rider

          P.S. I need to amend the above a little…I’m still gone, living separately but we are planning to remarry soon. After I began seeing my ex again early this year, the OW did again resurface. Lo and behold, H saw who she really was…a woman who is genuinely lost yet for whom he now has no feelings whatsoever. I think he had to face her and say some things to her that he could never bring himself to say before, and actually sort of ‘be the bad guy.’ He did tell her, “I love my wife,” which he had let her wonder about before. I do know he didn’t tell her bad things about me, which would also have added another dimension to get over. I guess that’s part of the issue for so many, and at least in our case, the worst that was said was that I was going my own way and was very independent. When she had asked if he would leave me for her, he told her, “I guess anything can happen.”

          • Paula

            RCR, I agree, my ex also never bad mouthed me to the OW, I have had this confirmed by a mutual friend (she confided in one of our mutual friends after D-day, and told her she always wondered why he wouldn’t leave me, and why he always defended me when they would ever discuss me – not often – and I hope she was asking herself why he was even having an affair if he said he loved me, good question, but one that she never asked herself, it might have made her feel sorry for interferring, lol!) That one fact does help, you’re right, so sorry for all of you who are dealing with this as well.

          • Anita

            Rollercoasterrider,
            Congratulations on your upcoming remarriage.
            I wish you both the very best!

    • Jim

      I try not to obsess but being less than a week from d-day 5 it is hard not to. D-day 1 was in January. After d-day 4 I learned to control the obsessive need to check her FB, email and phone. I was going nuts and she just went further underground each of the d-days 2, 3 and 4. I still check but only when I cannot shake the feeling that something is wrong.

      Now I obsess if she will try to contact the OM again. I obsess over the fact that I stayed once again. This time she is getting help. She sees a counselor tomorrow. I still think that I need to file papers for a divorce.

      The only thing that has helped is will power and accepting that no matter what I do, she is making the decisions on whether to have contact or not. I remind myself I have one decision to stay or to leave.

      • Anita

        Jim,
        Let your emotions subside, then decide.

        • Jim

          I have been trying to but every time I think I can start thinking clearly, I discover yet again that W is trying to have contact is back.

    • AngelWings

      Roller Coaster Rider~ I pray that we never have another Dday for that would be the last straw for me. One is enough and he knows it. This was only an EA for she lives hours away from us, but does come to our hometown every now and then for a visit or whatever other reason. I do have that nagging feeling that she will try and contact him again that I have to live with. Yes, it’s like always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Sometimes I wish it would just happen so that we could get it over and done with. Whatever comes of it. When she contacted him through FB the last time I was the one to press the deny friend button and delete her msg. Me, not him even though he gave me the ok, it bothers me that he couldn’t do it himself. Yep, never ending fears and obsessions rule my mind for now. I know it’s only temporary as I’ve experienced these feelings before this past year and have managed to get past them after a while, but it sure stinks in the meantime. Thanks for the advice. I’m grateful for sites like these where I can come and get a little relief and know that I am “normal” and not alone.

      • Anita

        AngelWings,
        She can’t do anything to your marriage unless your husband allows it. Instead of worrying about her and
        what she’s doing. Your husband needs to remain faithful
        to you. The burden falls on him to keep fidelity within your
        marriage. This way when she comes to town, he needs to
        behave himself, if even she trys to make contact. He then
        needs to ignore her, and needs to remind himself he’s
        married man.

    • onmyway

      I am going to focus on the first question for now, being what is on my mind today re: the affair. I have been having a hard time with the fact that as much as I want to trust my husband, and he has given me no reason to suspect there has been any contact with the OW in all these months, I still fear he could have a secret phone. I mean he could, right? He coud have 50 secret phones and I might never know , lol! Coming to grips with the fact that I cannot control what any one does but myself and yet still trying to trust that he is being 100% truthful is HARD. So that is what I get stuck on. The fact that he did it before sneaks is despite my wanting to move forward and let go of these obsessive thoughts and overshadows the fact that I truly do not think he ever wants any contact with her again.
      I think a lot of what I think about is more based on the fear that she may try and contact him at work ( he really doesn’t need a secret phone for that to happen) and out of guilt he may talk with her. She has a serious illness and I can just see her trying to garner sympathy from him. This is all an obsession of my own creation and I need to let it go. We have make an agreement that he will not respond to her should she try and contact him and he would let me know if she ever did (let me open a text, listen to a VM, etc.). I am 95% percent positive that he would honor that. I feel guilty not thinking I believe him 100%.
      I think I obsess over this particular thought since it something I cannot control. I then feel badly for not trusting him (even though we both know he has given me reason to NOT based on his past behavior). But I have to start trusting him if we are going to continue to be on a path of recovery from all of this. That is the part I have to play in this since he is doing what he can to make things better. He understands that I have triggers and even I recognize that my behaviors and thoughts when they happen are not always rational. It just sucks being in the middle of all of this. I am going to start focusing on letting go of these thoughts. I bought a few books and hope they can help me learn to reframe my thought patterns so I don’t stay stuck in this part of our recovery process.

      • Teresa

        Onmyway….DItto EVERY THING you wrote!! I could have written the exact same words! 18 mos since Dday, and no reason to suspect that there has been ANY contact….but still, the thoughts are there….has he REALLY broken off ALL contact??
        I guess if my H would have seemed offended and just plain mad when the cow sent an email last summer, and then called my CP in February, after he had told her no more contact, then maybe I’d feel a little more confident….but he acted like it was no big deal…when in fact it WAS a big deal for me!

        • Rachel

          Onmyway, I would love to know the names of the books that you bought so perhaps they can help me change my thought pattern as well. It is very difficult for me to wonder daily “is he still seeing her”? Or perhaps it could be someone else. After all he loved the high that the pig gave him so who knows?
          I ask and he tells me no, just what he told me when he was seeing her last summer. So how in the world am I going to get past this?
          And the triggers,you never know when they are going to hit. Things could be going great and then boom, i just cant control my hurt, anger, disbelief that im going through this. It’s been 7
          months and it feels like yesterday.

      • WriterWife

        I know what you mean! I go through cycles of trusting fully and trusting mostly. It actually took me a while to embrace the fact that I *didn’t* trust him — I had to allow myself not to trust him and not feel guilty about that. He was actually upset when he found out I didn’t trust him but I very calmly explained that I didn’t have a reason to: he didn’t deserve it and had to work to earn that trust back. This was an eye-opener for him.

        Our counselor had some helpful thoughts. First, I couldn’t give him a list of what he needed to do to earn the trust — I just had to express feelings when I had them, that was my job. I agree with her on that: I can’t tell him what to do to earn my trust because then I won’t believe it. It has to come from him.

        Second — and this really helped a lot — he had to start working on reassuring me preemptively. For example, he and the OW work together and during the EA he used to always offer to help her with her workload and often that meant not being home with me or helping me. So after D-day when I found out he had to work with her one weekend on a joint project I said, “That really bothers/hurts me — I’m afraid you’re choosing her over me,” and then it was his job to find ways to reassure that he *wasn’t* choosing her over me. He’d do this by making sure to tell me I was more important, by paying extra attention to me, and by telling me all the ways he’d not be with her: he’d go in to the office in the morning when she wasn’t there, the moment she arrived he’d come home to work, etc. Now, it doesn’t take me saying anything — any time work comes in that they end up having to do together, he tells me and reassures me of all the ways he’s making sure not to fall back into old habits.

        Of course, I have to trust him and that came more with having full access to his email, etc. Some days it’s easier to trust him than others. My gut screamed at me all last year that something was up and I didn’t listen — now I listen more. It’s only been 6 mo. since D-day and I’m still allowing myself not to trust him fully. We’re both working hard and I’ve given him what I think of as “provisional trust” but I’m still protecting myself because no one was there to protect me during the EA and I’ve learned that job will always fall to me.

    • Paula

      Over three years into this journey, I have definitely been in the very obsessive camp. The shock of discovering the love of my life was living a double life for 15 months, just put me into the biggest tailspin. I didn’t know which way was up – quite literally – I was all over the place. I felt okay, I felt like I was going to sort this out, and get to the other side a better and even stronger person. I started well, but fell on many ocassions. I may not have been quite as obsessive in my actions as some, yes, I checked his phone fairly often – it was always placed in a public place in our home, after a long time of it never leaving his person (and I missed this very obvious sign during the affair.) My obsessions were more along the lines of mental pictures, and graphic nightmares of them together, of them having sex, of them drinking coffee, wine, etc. Of her kissing him on greeting, of them cuddling in bed after sex, of them laughing and having fun. Added to this, I then ended up with awful violent images of them torturing me, etc. I still struggle with all of this, even now separated. I had hope this would lessen once I made the decision to be on my own. Very obviously this has had a very negative effect on my quality of life, and my ability to believe I will ever recover sufficiently to live a useful and contented life. I have tried so hard to leave the obsession behind. I tried hypnotherapy with a reputable hypnotherapist – a thing I would definitely scoffed at in my previous life! Sadly, I got no relief after many sessions with her.

      • WriterWife

        Paula — I’m so sorry to hear that! That sounds really painful and difficult! I’d be trying hypnotherapy too if I thought it would help. Have you also tried finding a counselor to talk things through with?

        I hate that you’re going through this! What I wish most for every BS is that they get to move on and live contented lives: married or separated. There so much strength to celebrate in all us BS’s! We’re dealt such a huge blow, almost all at once — finding out about a spouse’s affair just turnes everything upside down and it affects every aspect of our lives! Every single one! The CS had time to come to terms with what was going on — they knew over the course of weeks or months or years, but the BS gets all that info in the span of one conversation.

        And we’re expected to take that information in, to process it, to wake up the next morning and continue with our obligations — work, kids, family, friends, houses, health. And we do. It’s hard and sometimes obligations slip through the cracks and sometimes we need help in the form of other people or doctors or counselors or medication or a day in bed, but we find that help and we keep going.

        Every single BS here has done that. We are strong and we should be proud of that strength. We’re here, talking to each other because we’re fighting — not necessarily for our relationships, but for ourselves.

        And here’s the thing all of us need to remember: we are all worth fighting for. Don’t let a CS’s weak decisions make us feel lesser than. If a CS chooses not to fight for us, that’s a failing on their part, not on ours.

    • Carol

      WriterWife, I so needed your words today (as I imagine everyone on here does also). Thank you so much! I am trying to be proud of my strength . . . and may I say that you, Paula, should be VERY proud of yours. Yes, I know you feel you’ve not recovered. But honestly — you had a horrible blow. I think patience with yourself is still called for. I read somewhere that it takes 4-5 years to recover from a divorce — and so if you think about what you’ve had to go through, perhaps a parallel timeframe is also needed. I hope that isn’t discouraging; I mean it to be encouraging — I see so much spunk and life in you, in your writing, even if you can’t quite see it yet!

      • Paula

        Thanks WriterWife and Carol, I was told by the first counsellor we saw together that the “timeline” on recovery from infidelity was 2-4 years, so that has been no surprise, and yes, I know you start all over again on the recovery mission when you separate. The first counsellor we saw pointed out that my ex had 15 months to come to terms with what had happened to “us” whereas I was just starting out on this journey. But thanks for your encouragement, I know one of the worst things you can do is be hard on yourself, but it is very hard to keep fighting every day, as we all know 🙂

        WriterWife, in answer to your question re: counselling. OMG, I have done that!!! Originally we saw a couples counsellor for a while. Then later I saw a psychologist for a while, then a break, then back to her. Then a different couples counsellor. Later, my psychologist referred me to a psychiatrist. Then, later again I found a new psychologist who specialised in trauma recovery, and he was wonderful (they all were caring people) and he then referred the pair of us to a couples counsellor who lives three hours away, and we saw him up until about April this year. Yeah, I’ve seen a counsellor…………..or six, lol!

        Carol, the saddest part for me, is I did have a good man, he got lost and confused and did some really hurtful and dumb stuff (with a girl who posed as my friend, for easy access!) but he made the decision to stop it all, and I found out later because my “friend” had to tell me, as revenge for being spurned. This guy has done mostly all the right stuff since (there were a couple of hiccups, that he owned, they weren’t deceitful, just not helpful) but I never got the level of trust and safety back that I required, and that is more about me, and my history, not him. Yes, he caused it, but I just couldn’t clamber to the top of that particular mountain, it hurts to feel that way, and the fact that we had this beautiful thing, and this beautiful family and this beautiful life together just makes it all the worse now it’s gone. Especially as we both still love and like each other as people 🙂 I wish I could hate him sometimes!

    • Linda

      Wow, Thank you all. I am 6 months from Dday, My h of 25 years was having a midlife crisis and let me tell you the ride is unbelievable! He was having a EA for a few months . We agreed to stay together and work on our marriage. The ow has a history of breaking up marriages, including his best friends. This was excused by my h because his friend was not happy in his marriage. I know the only reason they did not have sex is She told him to leave me then they could. He never left. I find myself checking the cell phone bill all the time, his fb and hers. I am constantly thinking about them. I have driven by her house. I have lost 30 lbs and working on me. I guess I am terrified that the “other shoe will fall”. I can not and will not go through this again!!! by obessing I feel out of control. I just want the hurt to end………..guess from what all of you are saying it will take a long time. Thanks,

      • Anita

        Linda,
        Even with this other woman having not such a pretty past,
        the one thing she doesn’t have is the power to break up a
        marriage. Your husband and these other guys were responsible for keeping fidelity within the marriage. They
        chose to mess around with her, betraying their wives, she
        has no powere to make a man cheat, its through their own
        weakness they cheat, and break they’re marriage vows therefore, breaking up their own marriages. One simple
        no thank you I am married, would have kept infidelity out
        and there wouldn’t be the saddness you feel.

        • Anita

          Linda,
          Its good that you and your husband have chosen to stay together and try and work this out.
          It is his responsiblitlity to stay faithful to you, and keep your
          marriage vows.
          This other woman has no power to destroy your marriage,
          your husband needs to remain faithful to you.
          My exhusband, chose to stay with his affair partner after I
          told him to straighten up or get out, we divorced. They lasted about a year after our divorce and he met another
          lady later and married her. I get along fine with him and
          his current wife.
          The point is his affair partner didn’t have the power to break
          up our marriage, my exhusband wanted out, so we ended
          our marriage. I don’t blame the other woman, because
          it was his choice to have an affair and our choice
          to end our marriage. There should have never been
          affair, so I had to go deeper and find out why our marriage
          didn’t grow and flourish, well I found my answer.
          I forgave my exhusband, his affair partner/s and myself.
          Linda I know your hurting, your marriage problems are not
          about the other woman, it goes deeper than that, it up to
          you and your husband to find out what not right between
          you and see if you can mend this problem.

    • onmyway

      Theresa, I think I would be more distrusting ,too, if my husband responded in the same manner to contact from the OW. I don’t know your exact situation but could it be that he felt that a bigger reaction might make you feel LESS secure? Meaning that it might have made you feel worse had he displayed a more emotional reaction to the contact then he did? That might lead you to believe he still has a vested interest in her if that makes any sense. Or did he just not acknowledge that this reopened the wound you are trying to heal? If the last is the case then no, that is not right and your continued doubts and obsession make sense.

      Writer Wife, I also had a hard time accepting that I do not fully trust my husband. I wanted to so much and tried to act like I did but really that was silly. If I did then the ‘triggers’ I experience and my reactions would make no sense. It was very hard to tell him a month or so ago that no, I still do not trust him fully despite him having been above board and transparent as he has been. I think these doubts are just there because I know I cannot control the situation in it’s entirety and I never will be. But I really hope to move past that!

    • Anita

      Linda,
      Your husband’s choice to have a EA was wrong and hurful
      to you. An affair adds more problems to what the orginal
      problem was. For each marriage the problem maybe
      different or somewhat the same.
      However your spouse along with my exhusband had no
      right to break their marriage vows, by having an affair.
      They chose to entangle themselves with another woman,
      therefore causing more problems. I hope you and your
      spouse will work this out, and I wish you the best.
      However, no matter how this turns out, forgive him for
      your own peace of mind, and put this behind you.
      I know you need time to grieve the loss of innocence
      within your marriage, but keep pressing ahead, and
      leave the past behind you.
      Also forgive this other woman, and pray for her, she no
      doubt has many of her own issues to continue to behave
      in a manner that is self destructive, by praying for her,
      God blesses you!

      • Anita

        Linda, Chiffchaff, and AngleWings,
        No matter how this turns out, with time, healing, and forgiveness, your pain will lessen and one day be gone.
        It happens a little each day and one day this will be
        behind you, but you also have to want to leave the past
        behind, and live for each new day.
        We all have memories of good and bad in our past, but
        remember there only memories, each day we get to build
        new memories. So don’t dwell in what’s already behind
        you. Focus on whats ahead of you.

        • Rachel

          Anita,

          Thank you. You have said some words that I will try to work on. “you have to WANT to leave the past behind”.
          This will be difficult for me but I will try. I haven’t gotten anywhere in our relationship reliving d-day, imagining them at their lunches and looking he up on line to see her web site of her store and staring at her to see what is so special about her that he would risk our marriage to see and talk to her.
          Time to focus on what’s ahead. Good words. Thank you, Anita.

          • Anita

            Rachel,
            It is better to put this behind you otherwise it steals your
            joy, happiness and peace.
            There is more to your life then his past affair. Its time for you to live your life again and enjoy it. It time for you to laugh, have fun, smile your certainly entitled to it.

    • justbecause

      Obsessing . . . oh the horror of it.

      So I am 2 1/2 months from dday. Seems to go in cycles – are times that I really get involved with trying to gather info, think about why this happened, what really did happen!

      Triggers can bring this on. Things like driving by her work place or my CS mentioning something I know he talked with her about. Driving in my car, waking up in the middle of the night (3:00am seems to be my time) are times that the obsessive thought can really roll.

      My H says I am trying to punish him if I bring up these thoughts. That I’m not trying to move on. What am I supposed to do with these obsessive thoughts?

      Writerwife – I thought about your comment “having comfort being angry at the other person.” I think this is me. Also my favorite of this post is your comment that the “worst you could wish for the OW is for her life to continue as it is”. Can I steal that one from you?

      • Teresa

        Justbecause….it’s interesting that your H says you’re trying to punish HIM…during his EA,.did he give ANY thought to how HIS behavior would be “punishing” YOU when you found out?? And yes, yes,, I know, we aren’t supposed to find our..which makes it OK right??
        Just so you know…they ALL say that after they’re discovered! We’re now the “bad guys” because we wont leave it alone, we are trying to hurt them because we won’t just forgive and forget right away, it was just a “friendship” so why are we so upset, they are SOOOO sorry, can’t we just go back the way it use to be, etc, etc…..
        The best advice I can give you is to read this blog and LEARN all you can about EA’s and the stupid things that your CS will try to say to you, to get YOU to take some of the blame, and then you will be educated, and WON’T let him shift the blame to you!
        Your H did this, it’s now HIS, he has to OWN it and for you to have complete recovery he will have to step up to the plate and do everything he can to help you heal!
        Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen very often….I think I’ve read of maybe one or two CS who actually do that right away…for most of us BS, it takes MONTHS for our CS to come around….in my case, I’m 18 mos out from Dday, my H FINALLY started to come around at about the 1 yr mark, when he saw that this wasn’t going to go away….he has now, in the last few mos. started counseling, and is really trying now, more that ever…15 mos later!
        There is no easy fix for this, when they say that recovery is 2-4 yrs…believe it! And if your H insists that he did nothing wrong, or drags his feet, it could be much longer…sucks, right??
        Stay with this blog, read it daily, posts often, THIS is your life now, and this blog is YOUR lifeline!
        Also, order and read “How To Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair” by Linda McDonald….it’s only 98 pages, but it’s packed with all you AND your H needs to help you heal….even if he won’t read it, you read it, because it will help you to see that YOU are not at fault here, and you will learn exactly what you need for your H to do to help you heal.
        I’m a firm believer that you might come to accept what your H has done, but you will never completely heal, if your H doesn’t do the work that is required!
        I have read that the death of a spouse or child is the most traumatic event in a persons life…infidelity is second! Tell your H to put THAT in his pipe and smoke it! And yes, an emotional affair IS infidelity, some say even worse than a sexual affair…others would have to weigh in on that, but I know from experience that an EA is really hard to recover from…this is my H’s second EA…first one was 23 yrs ago…I didn’t “punish” him, to use your H’s own words….I just buried the feelings of pain and betrayal and “accepted” his excuses, and a few yrs later started suffering panic attacks and other health issues…DO NOT make my mistake!
        Your CS HAS to feel your pain, there’s posting on here that addresses that…find it and read it!
        Good luck to you….it really bothers me when I see so many “newbies” on here…knowing the very long, painful journey you are beginning…make friends on here, Justbecause….they will help you through the hard days ahead….

    • Pippi

      Drugs. Drugs are the ONLY thing that has given me any relief from the obsessive thoughts. My therapist suggested I go on them months ago and I resisted. After finally relenting, I have gotten relief from the constant war raging in my head.

      • Rachel

        I’m with you on that, pippi. Unfortunately.

    • Linda

      Anita,
      Thank you for the excellent advise. You are correct, it is up to my h and myself to make or break this marriage.

    • Disappointed

      My H keeps telling me we are saprated not because of the OW but because we were broken. But he did not leave until her. Last night he finally said that he decided he had to leave because he had those feelings for someone other than me. He also told me some things she said and it is obvious to me that she palyed him and told him exactly what he wanted to hear. He says he no longer has those feelings for her but he will never say he is sorry she happened or that it was a mistake. Later he agreed about the mistake but refused the sorry. She is NC 7 months and he still claims she awakened him. At the time he quit Prozac cold turkey but says that did not play into anything. He says we cant recapture what we had, that it died for him, but he cant say goodbye to me. Well I wont do it for him like I have done everything else! He is finally admitting there is something seriously wrong with him and his emotions and mind. Dont know if or what he will do to fix it. Please if you have been dealing with an H in midlife crisis, am I a fool to hope I can wait this out?

    • onmyway

      Rachel, sorry I missed your question to me about which books I had bought to help with the obsessive thought patterns. The titles are : “Getting Past Your Past” by Francine Shapiro and “Beyond Negative Thinking:Breaking the Cycle of Depressing and Anxious Thoughts”. I can’t recall the authors of the second book but both are on Amazon if you enter the titles.

      I hope to start working on the first title this weekend. I am also trying to start a book on grief recovery that was mentioned here in a previous blog. The key here is ‘trying’! I keep putting this work on the back burner as several issues have arisen between myself and my husband the last few weeks that left me unable to focus. Things are better now but I see the need to work on myself more than EVER. While I know that not all of us have a CS that is actively helping them to get past their cheating, what I have learned just from reading here is that personal growth and responsibility for our OWN sakes is just as important. Possibly even more so if you don’t have a spouse is supporting you as your sanity is in your own hands. Either way I cannot expect my marriage to be it’s best from here on out unless I make an effort to do what I can do to change my own behavioral patterns.

    • justbecause

      Theresa,

      Thank you very much. I am very moved by your words.

      I am getting on this site fairly often but also can see how a person could visit it too much. Sorry Doug & Linda – but I think you understand. Visiting the site can get me thinking more negatively when I want to be a kinder, gentler, more positive person. But I have gained MUCH from this site and appreciate the wisdom of others and the chance to cry or rage thru my posts. It can be kind of a tricky balance.

      I did buy “How to Help Your Spouse Heal From an Affair” -Linda McDonald. Yes it was very good. Showed it to my H and asked him to read it. Put it in his nightstand – where it remains untouched. I think I should ask him about his intention to read it or not.

      Again, thank you.

    • justbecause

      My H and I are seeing a counselor. I think he is very good. He gave us an exercise. We are each to write down 101 things in reponse to this question:
      “What can I do to help you feel more loved by me?”
      – (So I am to write things I feel my H could do)
      Note: “help” you feel more loved, not “make” you feel more loved.
      Criteria for the answers:
      -positive -duplicatible -videotapable -concrete
      -specific to time & place -self focused
      -non sexual (except #101)

      Examples: – 10 things you want to hear
      – 10 ways you want to be touched
      – 10 reponsible things to do around the house
      – 10 things to do alone
      ” with friends
      ” with family
      ” in the camper
      be creative! Come up with your own.

      Mine will include: You can help me feel more loved by you by reading the book “How to Help Your Spouse Heal from an Affair.” 🙂

    • justbecause

      I seem to be on a roll . . .

      Dissappointed,
      Quitting Prozac cold turkey can certainly cause adverse effects – especially depending on his dose and length of time taking. He must have felft the Prozac was not helping . . .very possible. One thing I would urge is for H to talk to a good Dr. (GP or Psych). If one has issues with bipolarism, the Prozac can accually worsen his symptoms.
      As I have previously commented, I think we are all bipolar to some degree. 🙂

      My H credits part of his getting out of the “fog” on his being properly medicated. He says he can remeber being anxious even as a very young child. He self medicated with alcohol for many years and tried a number of antidepressants. He also went cold turkey off his SSRI. He is now on a mood stabilizer and low dose Seroquel for sleep. It has helped.

      My dday was March 29, 2012. My husbands last drink was March 30, 2012 . . . also my birthday. So much to work on.

    • rachel

      Well Guys, I really need help with this one.I told my husband today that I don’t want to divorce. My husband said that he is going to file either before or after our vacation to North Carolina. We are not compatable. This is a new one he’s now using.
      He said that it’s not about the ow it’s because I ask questions and demand answers. He said he was sorry and that’s all he can do.
      He feels that looking up an ex girlfriend is fine to do, going to lunch, and texting and emailing. I feel quite the opposite. If he needs someone to talk to why cant he talk to me. He said that it’s all innocent. Please help me . I have no desire to go out with another man or text him or email him. Am I wrong that I don’t feel that committed married people should do this? Maybe it’s because I’m old fashion? I just get so frustrated each week with his new very hurtful comments. Thank you.

      • Healing Mark

        Rachel. You can’t be “wrong” because these are your boundaries and if it truly bothers you to have your partner do such things with another woman, much less an ex-girlfriend, then your H should either respect your boundaries or end your marriage so that he can engage in such behavior without hurting/harming you. And you don’t have to look very hard for more than enough annecdotal evidence that investing even a little bit of your emotional resouces with a person of the opposite sex can and will have a negative impact on your relationship with your spouse. Unfortunately, so much of the basis for establishing relationships these days (texting, emailing, cell phones, Facebook) did not exist when many of us got married, so it’s not like we would have had any kind of discussions with our partner about what would or would not be acceptable to us with regard to relationships with persons of the opposite sex. Shoot, even if they had, would we really have had a discussion along the lines of “Honey, it will really bother me if you exchange hundreds of texts on average each day with this other man.”? I doubt it.

        One piece of advice, though. It’s in my opinion irrelevant whether you are or are not the kind of person that wants to go out with another man, or to text or email him. What is relevant is that your H doing that crosses your boundaries for your marriage and your H, as your partner, should respect these or end the relationship. And he may decide to end your marriage not to then pursue the OW, but for reasons that he should best be able to describe to you, not the least of which might be that he wants to find a woman whose boundaries are not as strict as yours. Again, you are not wrong for having such strict boundaries, just as your H will not be wrong for chosing to end your marriage so that he does not have to be so “constrained” (I would suggest that your H would be stupid to end a marriage just so he could look up old girlfriends, but that’s just me).

        One final thing, reconnecting with an ex-girlfriend and occassionally emailing or texting with them, as well as occassionally going to lunch with that person, in and of themselves are not necessarily going to be harmful to a marriage. Sure, special feelings can start to become apparent and then be nurtured, so there’s some “danger” in looking up ex’s. But it’s really about what the one partner in a marriage shares with the OP, like do they complain about, or otherwise dicuss intimate aspects of, their marriage, and the extent to which they are emailing and/or texting, as well as the content of such communications (for example, are they just “catching up” or are they “sexting”?), that lead to reasonable conclusions that what is going on is or is not appropriate. Of course, it two people are in an “open” relationship, what is and is not acceptable are quite different than what would be in a more “traditional” relationship, but even partners in “open” relationships have boundaries, or at least I am told that this is the case. 🙂

        Again, so sorry you are experiencing such difficulties with your H. As you know, you really can’t change him, and should focus on doing what you can do to help yourself given the hand that you have now been dealt.

    • Rachel

      Healing Mark, he just doesn’t want to go out with his ex’s he wants to go out and text and email women in general. Sees nothing wrong with it. In my eyes it’s totally disrespectful to me, his wife. But, if this is what he wants, then let me sign the dotted like.
      He and his ex’s lunches were not just catching up. She discussed her personal life with my husband about how unhappy she was with her husband and how she picked the wrong guy.
      He fell in love with her, again. They became soul mates. She is so much fun. And who else knows what else happened because, if nothing else did, then these innocent lunches i think he would be able to move on a lot faster.
      My therapist said tonight that my H is Narcissistic. (third one that has said this) He’s not going anywhere. He would have been gone by now.
      He thrives on upsetting me.Trying to be in control, just like his mother tries to control everybody’s life. Such a busy body. My new plan is just to say oh yeah, when he says something hurtful. No reaction.
      I sent my “I hate you” letter to the ow today, and I can’t wipe the smile off of my face!!.
      Thank you Healing Mark. : )

      • Teresa

        Rachel…let him go! Either he’ll come back to you a changed man, realizing what he almost lost and wanting to work on your marriage…or you will FINALLY be free to pursue a more healthy relationship down the road, either way, you will no longer be in an emotionally, abusive relationship!
        For the life of me…I don’t understand why you don’t call him on his many, MANY bluffs!!
        Go see a lawyer, draw up the divorce paperwork, and serve it to him on a silver platter! Either he will straighten up, or he’ll sign and leave…but my goodness, girl, won’t it be better to finally KNOW which direction your life is headed???

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