Use these tips to first mobilize yourself then stop the gaslight effect in your relationship.

the gaslight effect

By Linda

After Doug wrote his post on gaslighting the other day, I had to run out and get the book that he referenced: “The Gaslight Effect” by Dr. Robin Stern. It seems that Dr. Stern is the authority when it comes to the subject and I wanted to learn more, as well as share some ways to make it stop. Or as the author refers to it…”turning off the gas.”

For those of you who have not had the chance to read that post, the author gives us the following definition of gaslighting:

“Gaslighting is the systematic attempt by one person to erode another’s reality. This is done by telling them that what they are experiencing isn’t so – and, the gradual giving up on the part of the other person.”

As with most things we discuss, putting an end to the gaslight effect is also a process.  Dr. Stern begins the process by providing six ways to mobilize yourself first, followed by five ways to actually “turn off the gas.”

Six Ways to Mobilize Yourself to Stop the Gaslight Effect

  1. Identify the Problem.  The author suggests that you first identify what your spouse does and what you do.  For instance, your husband might purchase gifts for you that don’t really fit who you are and then he expects you to be grateful.  As the one being gaslighted, you feel as though there is something wrong with you for not liking the gifts and you end up feeling lonely and misunderstood.  Identifying situations such as this can help you to understand the situation and why you might feel disconnected and dissatisfied in your relationship.
  2. Have compassion for yourself.  Dr. Stern says that one of the most soul-destroying aspects of being gaslighted is the message that you send yourself that somehow you deserve it.  You blame yourself.  This is the wrong way to approach it.  Instead you need to set a single goal to change your situation for the better.  In order to do that, you need to determine how you are contributing to the problem and what you might do to change things.  This is very different than deciding that you are to blame for the problem.  Be kind to yourself and know that you deserve  love and appreciation regardless of the situation and how you may feel.
  3. Give yourself permission to make a sacrifice.  Looking at the possibility of leaving a gaslighting relationship may very well cost you something.  There’s a real possibility that you may indeed lose something that you will never have again.  But maybe that’s not the case.  You don’t know for sure.  The only hope for change is if you act differently, and there is the chance that you might be risking something of great value if you do. You need to decide if it’s worth the risk.
  4. Get in touch with your feelings.  Dr. Stern says that those who are experiencing the gaslight effect often disconnect from their feelings so that they can remain in the gaslighting relationship.  She suggests that you recall an event that made an emotional impact on you and journal your thoughts as to how it made you feel.  Take note of the many different feelings and thoughts you had from that one event.
  5. Empower yourself.  To quote the author directly…”Often, a gaslighting relationship leaves us feeling helpless and incompetent, as though we can’t do anything right.  Beginning to see and own your strengths can be a critical part of making changes.”  Take note of your core competencies, abilities and strengths.  Knowing that you have visible strengths will give you the courage to accept your shortcomings.
  6. Take just one step to improve your life.  Then take another. Taking action – any action – can be very powerful.  Do something pleasurable that you wouldn’t ordinarily do.  Take a class.  Get involved with a charity.  Part of living the life with a gaslighter involves losing one’s self over time.  By taking action you can start to reclaim your self.
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The Unfaithful Spouse Program
Guidance and Understanding for the Ex-Unfaithful

Typically at some point after their affair, the ex-unfaithful find themselves getting off track, feeling lost and not knowing what to do or what to say throughout the healing and recovery process.  It's normal.  

If you are an unfaithful person - or married to one - and are looking for some answers, some direction - this bundle will do the trick.


Five Ways to Turn Off the Gas

  1. Sort out truth from distortion.  Often a gaslighter will tell you their version of events and it can throw you off.  There can be just a small nugget of truth in what they say that can make you think that what they say in its entirety is true.  Sorting out the truth can be a very helpful first step. Clarify your thinking by looking honestly at the truth of what your spouse is telling you and comparing it to what it really means.
  2. Decide whether the conversation is really a power struggle.  And if it is, opt out.  It can be tough to understand what a gaslighting conversation is really about.  Often the gaslighter is attempting to get the upper hand by proving he/she was right.  Likewise, the person being gaslighted is also in a power struggle to win approval from the gaslighter.  A real conversation differs from a power struggle in that a genuine conversation entails both parties really listening and addressing each other’s concerns, even if the conversation gets emotional.  (Scroll down to find out how to identify a power struggle.)  The key is to be able to tell the difference and if there is a power struggle going on, you must disengage.  Otherwise you will experience the gaslight effect some more.  Opt out by saying things such as “We’ll have to agree to disagree.”  I think we’ve gone as far as we can go here.”  “I’m feeling browbeaten, and I don’t want to continue.”
  3. Identify your gaslight triggers, and his/hers.  Both of you will have situations that start the gaslighting process.  If you can identify them, you can avoid them.  These triggers might include certain topics, words, actions, stresses or situations that make either of you feel threatened. These could include, money, sex, family, children, etc.
  4. Focus on feelings instead of “right” and “wrong.”  A gaslighter will often make an accusation that has a ring of truth to it.  For example, you might have been flirting a bit too much with someone at a party and you owe your partner an apology.  The gaslighter will take this and stretch it to seem as though you were out to humiliate him/her.  And you would eventually wonder if perhaps he/she was right.  Instead of worrying who is right or wrong, focus on your feelings.  If you feel genuine remorse, then apologize. If you feel attacked and bewildered, then you are experiencing the gaslight effect again and you must disengage right away.
  5. Remember that you can’t control anyone’s opinion – even if you’re right!  The author mentions her own situation where she couldn’t stand that her ex-husband thought that it was okay to come home three hours late and that the problem was her oversensitivity.  This created endless arguments with her trying to get him to change his mind.  What kept her in the gaslight effect was her inability to accept that her husband was going to see things his own way regardless of what she said or did.  As soon as she was able to understand that he alone had power over his thoughts and that he wasn’t going to change, no matter what she did, she took a significant step towards freedom.

You know it’s a power struggle if…

  • It includes a lot of insults
  • You keep covering the same ground
  • One or both of you bring in points that are way off topic
  • You’ve had the same argument many times before a never really got anywhere
  • No matter what you say, the other person keeps having the same response
  • You feel as though the other person is simply in charge

Hopefully this summary has given you some good information on how to “turn off the gas” if you are experiencing  a gaslight effect relationship.  If you are successful at it, you probably will get a wide range of responses from the gaslighter.  The hope is that you and the gaslighter can use this information to figure out new ways to carry on your relationship in order to stay together.  If not, then you may feel that it’s necessary for you to make some hard decisions about the future of your relationship.

For more information about “The Gaslight Effect,” click the link.

    77 replies to "How to Turn Off the Gaslight Effect in Your Relationship"

    • Lynne

      I spent months bewildered by my H’s gaslighting behavior. I had never heard of this term until about 6 months ago, when I started researching what was happening between us. I have been living with the master of gaslighting, and as many of these articles and books point out, I was responding to him in the classic codependent way. This was also perplexing to me as I have always been strong, outspoken, and confident in my relationships with men. I now see that this is the dance we have been doing since the beginning of our relationship, but it ramped up big time with the EA discovery. I have been told, in spite of having specific evidence to the contrary, that these things didn’t happen (with lots of alternate stories from him), that I don’t have a good memory, that I romanticized his involvement with the OW, that he never said that, did that…..etc. While I have always trusted my memory, particularly because I wrote a lot of these things down, I participated in this by thinking he just had a really bad memory (me being codependent here). Hence my new knowledge that what I was doing was letting him off the hook. I now see this for what it is–evasion, manipulation, lying, diverting, blaming and projecting.

      To this day, my H has not taken full responsibility for his EA, as he has used all of the tactics above to avoid dealing with his behaviors and actions. It’s NOT HIM, he’s just misunderstood!!! This has stunted my healing because we have never dealt with what “really happened”, but only “his version” of what happened, where he is lily white and I’m misguided. I now feel that our time in MC was for naught, as he spent our time gaslighting his way through counseling, with the MC never catching on and calling him out on it.

      I am grateful that I now see this form of manipulation for what it is–knowledge truly is power! I will never be gaslighted again. In fact, my Marriage Sherpa gave me some additional ideas for how to put a stop to these behaviors, rather than trying to convince my H that my version of what happened is accurate/valid.

      1. Don’t get involved in the power struggle. It is enough to say, “this is how I see it”. No need to volley the conversation back and forth. No need to reach a conclusion as to who is right. When you won’t play the game, they have no where to go with it–YOU can’t be sucked into the manipulation.

      2. Call them out on it. “I see what you are doing and this needs to stop” When you name it, this says I know exactly what is happening here and I won’t participate. This deflates the power and control they are trying to exert over you.

      I am working to overcome my disappointment in myself for not seeing this sooner, but feel that by now recognizing it for what it is, I am much stronger and better equipped to stop this going forward.

      • Angela Ann Lucero

        Hello Lynne,
        I have just recently discovered I am a victim of gaslighting and have been for 8 years. I was institutionalized for 3 weeks because if it. I feel as if I am the one who wrote your comment above. I am in the VERY beginning of learning about this type of EA. I am CRUSHED to discover the man I married is intentionally hurting me. Thank you so much for all of your knowladge, advice and support. I would LOVE to connect with you and speak more about this. Here is my e-mail. [email protected] I hope to hear from you soon.

      • Lady Di

        Best advice to anyone about to go into a relationship is listen to the ex of the person who you are about to get involved with. They can tell you pretty much tell you what is up with that person. just sayin.
        Lady Di

    • Lynne

      Many of you have probably heard this by way of Dr. Phil, but I thought I’d share it as a reminder of what we deserve to have in our life, yet can sometimes easily lose sight of. This has really become my mantra, particularly since my H’s EA and its aftermath………….

      Life Law #8: We teach people how to treat us.

      Strategy: Own, rather than complain about, how people treat you. Learn to renegotiate your relationships to have what you want.

      You either teach people to treat you with dignity and respect, or you don’t. This means you are partly responsible for the mistreatment that you get at the hands of someone else. You shape others’ behavior when you teach them what they can get away with and what they cannot.

      If the people in your life treat you in an undesirable way, figure out what you are doing to reinforce, elicit or allow that treatment. Identify the payoffs you may be giving someone in response to any negative behavior. For example, when people are aggressive, bossy or controlling ” and then get their way ” you have rewarded them for unacceptable behavior.

      Because you are accountable, you can declare the relationship “reopened for negotiation” at any time you choose, and for as long as you choose. Even a pattern of relating that is 30 years old can be redefined. Before you reopen the negotiation, you must commit to do so from a position of strength and power, not fear and self-doubt.

      • D

        Lynne, this is fascinating because what I’ve really taken away from this affair is how impermanent everything really is in life. We make these wedding vows and commitments and we attach great value to them, as we should, and yet, things change all the time. It seems thoroughly unhealthy to believe that a marriage wouldn’t change over time or that the person we fell in love with isn’t capable of such betrayal. We’re all capable of betrayal. We can all be tested over time. Rather than apply some holier than thou morality or a notion of some unattainable “perfect love” we might accept that life happens and that our loved ones, as well as ourselves, are indeed capable of some horrendous behavior. I used to say to my wife that I don’t know the person she became during the affair. The truth is I simply overlooked that part of her because clearly she is the same person.

        In moving forward, I choose to love her based on terms not bound by vows or commitments but by mutual respect and expressions of love. I no longer assume these tenets will last the life of our marriage. They can end. At some point maybe they should end. Or, knowing how fragile a union really is, maybe we’ll both tread a little lighter, find more common ground, be more accepting, because we know the smallest fissure can crack wide open.

        This is the renegotiation that is the reality of a long term marriage. And it provides far greater freedom, both in expressing one’s pleasure and displeasure in the arrangement.

        I haven’t consciously expressed to my wife that “this” is how I wish to be treated, but your comment has allowed me to see that my attitude has changed since the affair, as has hers. It makes me wonder what signals I was sending before or during the affair that gave her the sense, perhaps, that there was little to lose. Never again, eh?

        • Greg

          In moving forward, I choose to love her based on terms not bound by vows or commitments but by mutual respect and expressions of love. I no longer assume these tenets will last the life of our marriage. They can end. At some point maybe they should end. Or, knowing how fragile a union really is, maybe we’ll both tread a little lighter, find more common ground, be more accepting, because we know the smallest fissure can crack wide open.

          This is a great way to look forward D. This is pretty much the same way my wife and I are looking at the marriage from this point forward, actually telling each other how we feel about things and see what we each think. Rather than trying to convince the other that things should be a certain way or respressing how we feel for fear it may hurt the other, but also respecting each others opinion and trying to see their view.

    • D

      This may be somewhat off topic, but in reading the recent topics it does follow a theme.

      It seems that what many CS’s can’t come to terms with is the fact that they may have risked so much for maybe nothing at all beyond a bit of fun. This was so true in my wife and she wondered aloud once that did it really all mean nothing? We are hard-wired to have our lives be meaningful. And when such a powerful emotion like love or lust takes hold it seems so right, so meaningful. However, in the light of day what really happened, what did it all mean, and who the hell am I?

      My wife looks back at that time, both during and immediately following the affair, and doesn’t understand it herself. She refers to herself as “that crazy person.” But she recognizes that she needed to imbue the whole adventure with meaning. The meaning, it turns out, is her awakening to fears and angers held dormant throughout her life, to immaturity, to selfishness.

      She wasn’t quite gas-lighting me as much as she was herself..

    • rachel

      Lynne, D, Greg, Anyone, Need guidance and advise. My husband and I are at day 6 of working on our marriage. After D day 4 months ago. He had an E/A with his ex g.friend from 30 years ago.
      I have been biting my tongue all week. We don’t discuss the affair, which frankly I’m so sick of talking about it. I don’t ask questions, which I think I’ve asked everyone possible. He did admit if he knew we would have ended up like this he would never have visited her that day he was in her town for business. ; ) . He appologized for all the things that he said and he said he didn’t mean them. He was in that “fog”.
      We are able to talk to each other in a civil manner. However, he hasn’t made any suggestions for dinner, movie, out for a drink, or even watch t.v.together. He has been sick with a really bad cold (you know men, the world stops when they have the sniffles. Sorry guys!) It’s as if we are taking baby steps. I hate to suggest any ideas because he said that is one of my faults.” We alway have to do what you want to do”. Well, he never suggests anything. So I will usually suggest things.
      Are baby steps good? Should I be more in control? Suggest things? Or let him be the driver? I’m just confused not sure what direction I should take.
      Thanks All!!

      • Greg

        At four months I think you are doing pretty good to be able talk civilly to each other, that’s about where we were then as well. If you need to talk to him about it just calmly ask him if you two can set aside some time to talk about it. Let him know that you just need to discuss whatever it is and let him set the time to do it. This way you are both involved in what is happening. Baby steps are about all you can expect for a while now. He’s got to really come to gripx with what he did and you are probably still dealing with a nice roller coaster ride of emotions still. We talked about once every week or two, always with me initiating it, and just discussed our feelings and what we thought about how we got to that point. I keep suggesting this to everyone and will do so again, write a letter to him about what you feel, think, and need. Take your time writing it and don’t put anything emotionally charged in it but do keep true to your feelings so that he knows what is going on in you head. Contrary to what every woman thinks men are not mind readers( had to say that for the cold joke:-). Both of you need to take a hard look at what helped lead up to this point in your relationship and decide how to deal with it. This is where individual counseling can be very helpful for each of you to really find out what is buried inside. At a later point you can try couples counseling but I think in the begining seperate is much more effective since you both need to figure yourselves out and accept who you are so that you can work on how you both interact and feel toward each other. It would be nice if it was over quickly but for it to really work it needs to be slow so that habits can be changed permenently.

    • Lynne


      I see this as wonderful progress!!! A few weeks back he was digging in deep and not taking any kind of responsiblity for his actions (and if I remember correctly, he was being rather cruel). The fact that his is apologizing and showing regret for his behavior is BIG stuff 🙂

      IMO, I think baby steps are really healthy right now. If he’s starting to open up, and is coming out of the fog, things are moving in the right direction. Rather than trying to control anything, I’d suggest softening to him and trying to relax a bit. If he feels like he always has to do what you want, whether you agree with this statement or not, this is his perspective and needs to be heard. Instead of waiting for him to make plans, why not ask him what he’d like to do–this will tell him that YOU HAVE HEARD HIM, and that you are really listening to his needs. I know this is counter intuitive when he has hurt you so much and has been unkind, but everyone deserves some level of care and compassion.

      By taking a step back, not talking about the EA constantly and having some fun and light times together, you may find that he will open up even more to you. Even time spent talking about what you miss or appreciate about each other could begin to open doors to reconnecting again. There will be plenty of time later to talk about your feelings about the EA and what will be important to you going forward–for now, try to enjoy the break from the insanity of it all!

      I’m so happy to see this coming to a better place for you.

    • D

      Rachel, 4 months is not that much time. Keep reminding yourself that neither of you need to be in control: just let it be whatever it needs to be for now.

      Everyone will say take care of yourself. There is no greater advice. If you can, forget about your husband for the time being. You are not going to speed up his progress or correct his behavior. He is on his own journey just as you are on yours. So embrace your journey.

      Take it from someone who’s been through it. Everything will happen in it’s own time. Hopefully, at the end of this you will see this as a minor blip in an otherwise good relationship.

    • Better

      I am exactly 1 year from when I kicked my husband out.

      Ive never heard of the gaslighting affect until this site. In the begining of our recovery process I received some very good advise from an older friend.

      Looking back at the begining of our process this friend of mine would always urge me to Get the answers I needed from my H. I would ask him point blank questions about what certain texts meant, or what the OW meant by something she texted to me meant. His answers were always the same…”some things are better left unknown” or he would try and change the subject to what I did to make him feel like he needed the OW to talk to. I knew he was good at deflecting subjects that were uncomfortable to him. And in the past (our 17 yr marriage) I would always feel defeated and not persue the answers I needed. We would get way off topic and I would end up feeling like he didnt care and the topic was never brought up again (mostly because of my fear of hurting his feelings or feeling like I was just being overly sensitive (which he would tell me)

      So when this friend of mine suggested that I “push” for the answers I needed, I did, and I did it without caring how it would make him feel!! I tell ya, it was so empowering to not get off topic and get to the truth of things. Since the begining of our recovery I have not let him deflect at all! And now I know what he was trying to do was gaslighting. (And yes there was him always trying to make it seem as if I was the one with the faulty memory or I was crazy)

      I havent discussed this Gasllighting with him yet. Im still trying to figure out in my mind how it has affected us through the years.I will say to the many BS here to not let go of a subject or question until you get a truthful answer. CS for the most part do not want to feel uncomfortable. But they really have no choice now if they want to fix the marriage. I got to the point where I would say to myself “I dont care if we make it or not, I want answers this time, he could talk to her for hours and tell her exactly how he felt, well, now, he needs to talk to me, because obviously he needed to talk and vent and he did this with the OW, he sure as hell is gonna talk to me now if he wants to have a relationship with me”

      As hard as some of the answers were to hear..I wouldnt blow up or yell (mostly 🙂 I tried to make the conversation feel safe for him to do so. Often I would put myself in his shoes…I know our marriage wasnt good, and I know that at that time if another man were to show an interest in me and how I felt I would have, could have, very easily been the CS. Its a 2way street. Our marriage lacked intamacy and communication for many years. It would have been difficult to say the least, for me to come clean with all the feelings I could have had for someone else. Especially if I wanted to save our relationship/marriage. When my H starts opening up to me, Im not going to lie, it really hurts. But in the back of my mind, I remind myself that this is what he felt THEN, not NOW! Last week he finally told me hes 100% back in love with me. I know he is committed to me and our marriage. I still have questions for him, and he will answer them (he knows I will not let it go this time..haha) but I know the answers are comming from the time period when WE were not in a good place together. Therefor, the answers are more of an enlightenment for me about what hes cabable of I dont get to overly upset by them.

      He regrets what he did, I regret that neither of us did anything to try and fix us before the EA happened. We cant change the past, just learn from it and make our marriage better and more valuable to both of us. I love the post that someone else put on here (sorry dont remember the name) It was a question that was posed to an old married couple about how did their marriage last so long. The answer was “we never fell out of love at the same time” so true!!

      My H might of fell out of love with me and had an EA but obviously I didnt fall out of love with him or else I would have never decided to stay and try.. I woke up to what our marriage had become and really focused on what he needed from a woman(me). And gradually I focused I what I needed from a man(him). I wont settle and I know he wont either.
      We are deffinatly in a better place now. I still have trust issues and I do beleive that he has them about me…(go figure) Hes worried that I will find someone else to “get him back” I know this sounds childish on his part but I dont blame him (long story short…he had a one night stand when we where married for 4yrs…I found out…fell out of love and did the same to him…lucky for us he didnt fall out of love and begged me to try and work it out…this is why he never brought the EA to the next level…he remembers how much what I did hurt him.)

      Im just trying to figure out the past and what led up to the EA so it will never happen again. He doesnt like to talk about it, because he feels differently about me now and doesnt want to hurt me. I think my reassurances to him that it was the past and I know things are different now and that I wont hold the past against him…I just want to be included and know what was going on in that time period that we were so disconnected and he had his secret life I wasnt apart of. Hes become very understanding and we have open discussions (not enough, but enough)

      Sorry for the long post…I just needed to vent….Feels like I have good friends here who know exactly how and what Im feeling. Good Luck to all of you!!!!

      • Lynne


        What a great post–it sounds like you’ve handled your search for the truth in a really healthy manner. I agree with you that separating his past feelings (THEN) from where he is today (NOW) is a wise way to deal with your questions. To acknowledge this with him makes for a little less discomfort, when these differences are clearly understood.

        My H and I are still working on his gaslighting issues…..I’m definitely going to use your approach!!! I recently asked my H if he knew the term “gaslighting”, and I suggested he might do some of his own research on it. He spent a few minutes searching it on the internet and then said he needed to think about it. As my counselor said, now that I have named it with him, this is a heavy weight (and a good one) for him to carry around for a bit. That it tells him I am “on” to his behavior…’s much harder to escape when your behaviors have been outed and your tactics are transparent.

      • rachel

        Thank you for your post. It gives me hope.

      • Disappointed

        Better – what made it change? What made him fall back in love with you? How I wish I knew how to do that… The EA my H had was only a month of texting. He says he loves me and does not want to say goodbye. But he is not coming home and brought up divorce last week. How did your H finally let go of the fantasy and start to appreciate you again?

        • Better

          Lynne,Rachel, and Disppointed…

          Im not really sure why my H told me he was 100% back in love with me.

          Here is my speculation:

          In the initial months following discovery I refused to let him have contact with the OW. I told him that if he wanted me he could not have her too. One or the other, I wasnt playing second best to anyone and that I knew I was better than that and deserved to have a relationship that was monogomous. He slipped up several times but I always caught him (intuition) Until I finally got her to break the contact for good. (easier said than done and most OW probly wouldnt be as nice)

          I started doing things that my H loved to do, with him, together. He loves hunting, so I went, hiking, I went, anything to do with cars, I went!!
          Ive spent as much time as I possibly could with him, he really appreciated it and would always invite me.

          Sometimes we would talk about the EA. But not to often. I was trying to figure him out again as a person, as a man. I lost who he was and he hadnt seen me in years. I did not want the EA to come between us finding eachother again. So I would only bring it up occassionally but without making him feel defensive. I would tell him things like…”I know such and such happened and I know its not how you feel now, but can you explain it a little, Im curious?” If he wanted to great (sometimes it hurt but I kept my cool so I could ask something later)

          Then a couple months ago we won a vacation for a week…PURE HEAVEN!
          That is/was the turning point. We had a whole week of NO ONE!! No phones, email, work, bills, kids!!! Just us alone! We talked about the EA once!

          I think he just needed the time to grieve the OW and I gave him the opportunity to see the real me and what he would be giving up.

          I think if the CS is willing to stay and work on it than you should do everything you can to show them what theyre staying for. Moderation is the key to talking about the EA.

          Take care 🙂

          • Got A Clue

            So you lost yourself being exactly who he wanted ? His interests ? His hobbies ?

            Does he care to ask what yours are ? Or do you continue to coddle and allow him to change you ?

            I don’t believe that any cheater has the right to tear a person apart, gaslight the hell out of them, turn their lives upside down, then demand a second, third, or fourth chance…. been there, done that, and no thanks to the countless frauds out there who choose to complain then take the slimeball back into the home around children no less.

            What example are you teaching the kids ? How to enable him also ? You just gave him exactly what HE wanted all along. Stroke the jerks ego some more, he will find another, and another, until he either chases every one of your kids out of the house, or all of you at once.

            Nice try though, I’m wondering if you have gotten rid of the chesting idiot in the last six years since you wrote this pile of pure dibble…. i bet you have, and i bet he cheated on you several more times before you pulled your head out of the sand.

            If a therapist told you to act that way towards him, then they should have their license jerked.

    • Getting Better

      I don’t usually comment but hope what I have observed about my husband coming out of the fog of his EA will help. He had an EA while deployed to the Middle East for 1 year. It was with a co-worker of the same rank. It lasted from Feb 2011–Aug 2011 . The only reason it ended was her deployment was only for 6 months and she went back here to the States on Aug 4, 2011. They had no further contact and my husband came back home in Sept 2011. Here we are in March 2012 and he is finally pretty much over this whole nightmare. It has happened in stages! More slowly than I would like but nevertheless each day, each week, each month with no contact has helped him to see how ridiculous this whole mess has been. He can’t believe it took him so long to get over someone who he wouldn’t even want our 2 boys to consider a relationship with. Rachel, at 4 months my husband was still in the obsessive thought phase about the OW. Even though he was wanting to be with me and was happy to be home he definitely still struggled with thoughts about her and how she made him feel. I hope you won’t get discouraged about the road ahead…… is painful and takes a lot of strength to make it to the other side. The no contact is a must and my husband knew if he ever had any contact with OW I was leaving with our 4 children and he could have the OW. I took that stand and he knew I meant it. Right now, 7, almost 8 months later we are doing better than ever. It has helped that the OW lives 2,000 miles away from our home on the East Coast. We have never been to counseling but only because all of the counselors around here have waiting lists. We could have gone through the military but my husband retired in Nov so we never went that route. We are strong believers in God and our faith in Him has helped us tremendously. Hope things contine to get better. The no contact is the key to victory!

      • Lynne

        I think a big part of this is CS’s not only lie to us BS’s, but they also begin to believe their own lies. Therefore, their lies become THEIR TRUTH! If you tell “your story” enough times it can quickly become your reality. It also seems as if it’s a way for CS’s to feel less discomfort–that they are not really a bad person who did horrible things to someone they love. Creating new senarios makes them feel better about themselves.

        I think my H has definitely been in this camp. Even when I have presented concrete evidence of things he said and done, he says “I just can’t see myself doing that when I’m married”. This is cognitive dissonance at its finest. He tells himself that he can’t see himself doing these things because he’s married, so he must not have done them. Well then, he must have an evil twin 😉

    • Better

      I am deffinatly a firm beleiver in the No contact rule. How is the CS suppose to get over their feelings for the AP if they are still fueling the fire?! It will take much longer for the recovery process…and who really wants to go thru all this pain longer?!!!

      • Dana

        What does CS stand for?

        • Doug

          Hi Dana, it stands for Cheating Spouse. BS is betrayed spouse. AP is affair partner. OP is other person. OW is other woman.

    • Getting Better

      I think we should start counting from the last no contact instead of DDay. The CS can’t even think straight while they are still in contact with the AP. I consider our healing starting when my husband last saw the OW, in Aug 2011. It’s still been a rough road but we are doing much better now, almost 8 months out. Imagine that for a 6 month EA.

      • chiffchaff

        I agree with that being the right day for starting to count from. Until there is actually no contact there is little if any progress towards reconciliation.
        My H swore blind that after Dday#1 their affair wasn’t building back up to what it was before, but if that’s the case, why was it so hard to actually give her up in the end and why did he continue to fantasize about their potential life together right up to three weeks ago? They really do believe their own lies, probably because it has been going on for so long and the lying has become second nature to them.
        quite sad.

    • Rachel

      What a difference a day makes. My h said to me today that he wants to separate. A suggestion made by his therapist this morning. We were in a trying mode, at least I was since last Saturday. He hasn’t done a thing to try and I noticed it all week. His reason is that if he tried and he still didn’t feel anything this would hurt me even more.
      He wants to be free. But, he still wants no be able to come back home if he decides to. I DONT THINK SO BUDDY!!!!
      We are separated now and have been for some time. No discussion, he sleeps in the basement, doesn’t tell me where he is, and he just doesn’t want me. He’s been saying that since June. So my theory is he just wants to be able to do whatever he wants to with whom ever.
      I think this is worse than d-day. I started my new meds tonight, lexapro. Let’s hope this one works. I’m in shock and numb.

      • Greg

        I see two ways to deal with this Rachael, either agree to the trial seperation while continuing therapy or if you do not want that tell him to file divorce papers. Honestly I’m not sure what I would do if it was me. We are still sleeping in seperate rooms at the eight month mark and she has voiced occasionally that she some times wants to do a trial seperation, but I don’t know if I could accept it. You have a hard decision, and not one I would want, do you want him enough to try this or is it past your limit?

        • rachel

          Greg, This is past my limit. Excuse after excuse. I can’t be told by him that we are going to work on things when he know darn well that he doesn’t want to. He’s a game player and always has been. I’m so tired of the rollar coaster ride. At first he wanted me to move on from the affair. Now I am willing and did try and did do well last week. Never did I ask him where he lunched or where he was after work. Then he didn’t want to try because I was angry because of the affair. And the fact that he wouldn’t move on. Now he wants his freedom??? What next???? I’m tired. He clearly doesn’t want me. Just what he said in June, he wants to fall in love with someone else. I know deep down that I have to move on. So hard because I love the moron and this truly isn’t him. This just isn’t fair to me. And why is he blaming me???

          • Greg

            I’d say it’s time to move on. At least your kids can see that he is being an ass. You’ll just need to stay strong and work on yourself with your own counseler. Get yourself right again so you can lead a happy life, don’t concern yourself about him any more at this point. I know it’s going to be hard but it is what you need to do, maybe he’ll come to his senses before it’s too late, maybe not, it’s uo to him to figure himself out now you don’t need to hold his hand like a child anymore. Good luck and try to enjoy life.

        • Healing Mark

          Greg. Explain to me how living at home with a wife that won’t sleep in the same bed with you is any better than a trial separation (other than obvious financial savings)? If your wife cannot even sleep with you, sounds to me that she is not 100% committed to the marriage. And for this I am sorry for you.

          I’m sorry, but if the actions and discussions with your spouse are not those consistent with those that would take place in a marriage, then such parties need to really re-evaluate what it is that there marriage has become. It seems to me that you either act consistent with how you did when you were happier/happily married (which doesn’t mean you will necessarily be happy until things are worked out, hopefully), or you physically separate (i.e., act and for the most part live as you did at some point prior to marriage) until you feel as though things have been worked out enough so that you can move back in together again and resume interacting as a married couple.

          Please, Greg, take no offense. I respect greatly your contributions here. But if my wife refused to sleep in our master bedroom with me each night (ok, we can each go to guest room down the hall if we want to be “childish” after a fight; something we rarely do these days as we rarely did before the EA), I would be finding her an apartment for a trial separation. Or, if she was unwilling to move out, I would let her know that her actions were leading to the ending of our marriage and that she should expect to be served with divorce papers any day now. I just don’t see how a person who won’t respect their partner enough to sleep in same bedroom can be realistically viewed as being someone who is trying to “save” thier marriage.

          God bless you sir as you work on your recovery. And please continue with your insightful comments/responses on this site.

          • Greg

            Don’t worry I don’t take any offense in what you said and to some extent agree with it. Truth be told, no she is not 100% commited to me at this point, partly due to her shock that she was able to have an affair and partly due to the existing issues in our marriage.
            Part of it is that these sleeping arrangements are consistance with what she saw growing up in her parents marriage and culture. Her parents had a lot of arguements when she was growing up which were very confrontational and ended up with her father living in another town for many years and working there, even now when they live together her parents don’t sleep in the same room. While this may sound really bad it is not uncommon in her culture. See she was born and raised in Japan where marriage is more of what you do when you get to a certain age and the purpose for it is to raise the children. Feelings, positive or negative, for your spouse are secondary to the children. This is a different idealology that what we grow up with in western culture obviously and it does have it’s problems, the Japanese goverment has recognied that they have a problem with the number of sexless marriages in the country. While I may not like it I am able to understand where she is coming from in terms of what she saw while growing up and the cultural attitudes she has.
            The reason I am willing to deal with the situation how it is is that her wanting to go to counseling and being willing to stay under the same roof are stong signs for her that she wants the marriage to work. They may not seem like it from an outside view point but there are to me who has lived with her for the last 12 years. The other reasons I deal with it is that many of the problems in our marriage are due to me. I had been very manipulative through most of the marriage, not purposefully but it is how I’ve gotten through life, controlling things from behind the scenes, I did not recognize her issues with my mother, or my mother’s stupidity in how she would do things, and the big one is that my pron addiction was just as bad or worse to her mental well being as her emotional affair was to me and she had to deal with that for many more years than I had to deal with her EA. The final reason is that this set-up gives our children a chance at some normalacy in thier lives in that they get to see both mommy and daddy together and don’t have to feel pulled between the two of us.

            Yes, this is not ideal and it is as close to a trial seperation as you can get without actually doing one but there is hope and on some level love still there and we are trying to rebuild it and gain something much better than what we had. And to be honest with myself at least this way I get to still see her every day. I’m not sure I could deal with not seeing her daily, even if it’s not on the best terms, as I still love her completely. Sort of sad sounding but it is what it is.

            • Healing Mark

              Greg. Not sad sounding that you love your wife completely. Only that you guys let your relationship get to a point that she is apparently not in as much love with you as before your problems and then the EA began. And nothing like an EA to make it that much more difficult for the unhappy spouse to communicate to the other spouse issues in the marriage that are bothering that spouse.

              Get it on the separate sleeping arrangements. You hit the nail on the head, though, when you point out that your wife’s willingness to participate in counseling and to stay living under the same roof is proof that she is committed to trying to make your marriage “work”. That is, in so many ways, what really matters. Hopefully, your separate sleeping arrangements are not affecting too much your ability to be intimate with your wife. And I can attest to the fact that a couple can still be sleeping in the same bed but have in effect an arrangement not too different than sleeping in separate beds. One spouse goes to bed much earlier than the other spouse and, not surprisingly, gets up much earlier. End result without too much effort is that only time spent in bed together is where one or both of the partners are actually asleep.

              My wife’s EA opened our eyes to ways that my wife and I interacted that needed to be changed/supplemented, and to behaviours on both our parts that had to stop if we wanted to be a happily married couple. Sure wish it didn’t take an EA for this to happen, but it is what it is. I will say that it became easier for us to each forgive each other for past transgressions, and realize that such transgressions need not cause the disolution of what was and now once again is a great marriage, once we improved our communication skills, identified and stopped/properly modified harmful behaviours, and otherwise got back to truly enjoying most all aspects of living together and raising our children. The forgoing plus the regaining of trust as it became clearer and clearer that my wife was no longer the crazy woman that she was while the EA was ongoing have allowed us to put the EA behind us (by this I mean we know that it happened, and understand that it cannot happen again, but the fact that it happened no longer affects how we interact together) and for me to genuinely forgive my wife and for my wife to truly believe that she has been forgiven.

              God bless you and good luck!

      • Ifeelsodumb

        My goodness Rachel…is his therapist a part time divorce attorney??? I’m so sorry you are going through this…but if your H wants a separation…there is NOTHING you can do about it! Take care of yourself…and let your H do his thing…But I totally agree….Tell him if he walks, the door closes AND locks behind him!

        • rachel

          I told him today, you leave you don’t return. Does he really think that i’m going to take him back after he’s been living on his own doing whatever?? I texted his counselor and asked her what was her point suggesting a sepertation when we both agreed to try to work on our marriage. I have to accept that he really doesn’t want me. He’s been saying in since June. He wants to fall in love with someone else. November, he’s in love with her not me. They are leaving their families and going to be together. Rejection is hard. Last night my oldest son put his arm around me and said, nobody can say that you didnt try. UGH! My poor kids have been through so much!

    • Anita

      You have been through the wringer and back and then some.
      It appears your husband doesn’t know what he wants,
      one day he wants one thing and another day he wants
      something else.
      Until he packs his bags and actually moves, this will be
      a roller coaster ride for you. Don’t let his unpredictable
      behavior get to you.
      Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
      Again my best to you, stay strong this season in time
      won’t last forever, at some point things will settle oneway
      or another, but at least you will know which direction it
      will go, and there is relief in getting off the merry-go-round.
      Stay Strong!

    • Lynne

      Rachel, I am so sorry to hear this. You deserve to get off of this ridiculous roller coaster ride and have some peace. I am thinking of you and sending big hugs your way.

    • rachel

      Thank you all for your comments. I am so drained beyond words. Yes, he doesnt know what he wants. Last saturday he and I agreed to work on our marriage. Communicate was the number one factor. Like I said earlier in the week, we were taking baby steps. He came home from his therapist yesterday and dropped this bomb on me. He just can’t make a move without her advising him what to do. Wants his freedom so he won’t have to answer to me where he is or what he is doing. Afraid to try to work on our marriage because if it doesn’t work it may hurt me more because I’m too fragile. Won’t wear his wedding ring because all he does is spins it and it feels good without it. Oh, and best of all this is all my fault!
      His bags have been packed. I told him to forget the seperation part and go right for the divorce lawyer. I am not allowing him to go out and screw around and then as my son put it “his ego head will be so filled up that he can come home until the next time that he’ll want his freedom”!!
      We told our children last night and they told him enough is enough. You always say that you are going to work on things and you won’t do it. It’s not fair to mom.
      When our youngest woke up this morning he said “oh, he’s still here”!
      I just texted his counselor and asked her what her point is by advising him for us to seperate and all of the negative comments directed to me.This should be interesting.
      I start with my new therapist on Thurs. gosh I do hope she is good. Took the lexapro last night with much regret. But I feel so drained that hopefully it will take the edge off.

    • rachel

      My husbands latest is that he is afraid to work on us because if it doesn’t work, It may damage me even more. Is he still in the fog? To me this is just an excuse.
      Also, he wants to seperate because he doesn’t want to feel that he has to answer his whereabouts to me. Wants freedom!

      • Doug

        Hi Rachel, That sounds like a bunch of crap to me, but who knows. That just seems a little bit too noble to me at this point. If he wants his freedom so much, then I’d give it to him.

      • Lynne

        Rachel, yes it sounds like a big ol’ fat excuse, and it sounds like gaslighting. He is the abuser who is turning the spotlight back around on you…..”if it doesn’t work, it may damage you even more”…..absolves him for taking the responsibility to do the work, right? He uses you as the roadblock to healing the marriage, but instead, he is the real roadblock.

        As to the things his Therapist is saying to him, it’s going to be hard for you to assess this without knowing what your H is actually saying to this person. You have to assume that you’re not hearing the truth of what he’s telling the Therapist, so it’s likely this person is giving this advice based on whatever your H is telling to him or her. It’s highly probable that your H is making himself look good (or a victim of how you treat him), rather than some balanced version of reality. If your H wants out of the marriage, he isn’t going to say that you’re a wonderful wife, but has to paint you in a way that supports his desire to leave.

        • rachel

          Are you a therapist? I believe that I asked you this before. I wish you could talk some sense into my husband. For you to be able to firgure out what is going on in that “P” brain in him completely amazes me. Thank you!

          • Rachel

            Ok here we go again! Tonight he asked me if we can work on our marriage!?!?
            I said NO!

          • Lynne

            No Rachel, I’m not a Therapist, but with what I now know, I think I could right a book on the subject 😉

            And you’re absolutely right, your H does have a “P” brain in his head right now!!!

    • Disappointed

      Help me understand. My H left after I discovered his one month texting EA with a friend. This last weekend he did not want to see me fri or sat. Saturday night I could not sleep and was bawling so decided to distract myself by moving two dressers and a bookcase around in the master bedroom. My H saw it last night and accused me of having someone help and says I have moved on and he isnt buying furniture for his apartment because it will make me feel bad but I change anything I want. He was mad and said we have two choices. Divorce or an open marriage where we both do what we want. I hope he was not serious and just mad. He says our home was never his. I told him I did it as a distraction. I also said he was one who left and that I did not think it would upset him or I would never have done it. Told him I would put back as was and if he comes home we can decide together. Can anyone explain why he freaked when he is one who left? Everything pushes him away more. He is making me crazy.

      • Healing Mark

        Disappointed. Perhaps to make you feel bad and to make him feel less bad about his hurtful behaviour. A “divorce or open marriage” ultimatim is a real a * * hole thing to do. Unless the concept of an open marriage is something that you have discussed before and something that you have at least stated you are potentially open to it, this ultimatim seems to me to be a way to force you to be the “cause” of the ending of your marriage when, in fact, you are not at all the cause. Also, the accusing you of having someone over in his absence is foolish and immature. Again, seems to me an attempt to deflect from the fact that he left you alone.

        I’m sure you have read the posts about “gaslighting”. I’m afraid you need to take them to heart as you H’s behaviours are described in some detail in them.

        So sorry for what you are apparently going through. Understand that when my wife fell into “love” with a close mutual friend, the more I tried to reel her in to be close to me, the angrier she got with me, the more hurtful she acted toward me, and the more I pushed her away. I would venture a guess that if your H perceives you as “needy” or “clingy” and desperate to remain married to him, you are going to continue to push him away. Of course, I know first hand how hard it is not to act and feel that way toward a spouse you love. Wish I had magic solution for you, but I don’t.

      • Lynne


        You are being manipulated BIG TIME! And I’m sorry to say it, but it sounds like it’s working on you.

        If my H said these things to me, “Divorce or an open marriage where we both do what we want. I hope he was not serious and just mad. He says our home was never his. I told him I did it as a distraction. I also said he was one who left and that I did not think it would upset him or I would never have done it. Told him I would put back as was and if he comes home we can decide together”, I would shove the furniture us his A**. The last thing I’d be offering to do is to move it back. It’s your house, too–he doesn’t live there right now because of his stupid choices–the furniture should go wherever YOU like it!

        And if anyone should be mad right now, it should be you. If you want this situation to change for the better, and to feel like you have some control over your own life, you absolutely have to stop allowing him to bait you. What he is doing is working, so why should he change his behavior? He can manipulate you to get you exactly where he wants you–the only person who can change this sad cycle is you. If you stand up and say “this is enough, I have reached my limit with your comments and manipulation, and it needs to stop now”, he will know that you are getting off the roller coaster. Please, please, please distance yourself from this before it destroys you. You are worthy of far better treatment.

        • Disappointed

          I agree I deserve better. There is no way an open marriage is a possibility. Why does he behave this way? Why say I am moving on when I am waiting for him to come to his senses, but working on myself. I do not understand why he thinks the worst and why creating these scenes makes him feel better. I do not understand.

          • Lynne


            For your own sanity and well being, you would benefit from taking steps as if you are moving on with out him. Whether he comes around to his own sanity is not something you can control or change. I’m sure you have read on this site about many BSs who finally pulled back from the nonsense, started living according to their own needs and desires, said that they were open to their spouse coming back, but weren’t going to lives their lives in limbo land. They moved the furniture where they wanted it and made no apologies for it whatsoever–the fact that you are apologizing about moving it and that he can help decide when he comes home, suggests that you aren’t taking a stand about what you want. You also have the right to the things that are meaningful to you.

            I think you are trying to make sense of something that doesn’t make any sense. There is no way to undertand why someone you love could get any pleasure out of hurting you. Setting boundaries around what you will accept (verbally and otherwise) is not saying you don’t want him to come home….it says, I may love you, but I will not accept this kind of treatment from you. This can be said calmly and lovingly, but the point is, you are telling him that his antics are not okay with you. If you stop giving him the payoff when he does these things, you might well see a change in him. He might start saying, wow, who is this person–she is being really clear that she will not tolerate this, now what do I do? Again, there’s that old saying that goes…..we teach people how to treat us. Maybe it’s time to show him how YOU WANT to be treated.

            • Healing Mark

              Disappointed. Extremely wise words from Lynne (per usual). It’s human nature to try to make sense of things around us or impacting us. But some things make no sense. And you might think that you can control to a certain extent the love a person once had for you but appears to no longer have. Those feelings are your H’s, so if he has lost them, for whatever reason, there are things that you can do to attempt to have them come back, but no guarantees. Just like there might have been guys in your past that you wanted very much for them to like you and want to date you. But if you just weren’t “it” for whatever reason, well …

              Remember the definition of insanity which I believe is most famously attributed to Albert Einstien. If you keep doing the same things expecting to get different results, you might be …

    • Better


      I dont know how far into the recovery process you are.

      My H did and said alot of hurtful and confusing things all the way up to 8months in.
      He left and stayed with a family member for a while(after I had ankle surgery and needed him) He would tell me he thought we were to broken to be fixed…I told him “i think your right, I dont want to try anymore, lets just move on and try to be happy I dont want to live like this anymore” I really meant it when I said it too. He pushed me away and said really nasty things. But one thing I didnt do was beleive any of it. I picked myself up got dressed in the morning(always looking spectacular) and went on with my day. Inside I was an emotional wreck..but he didnt know that. Id find excuses to run into him during the day and when he saw me and thought I was happy without him…he came around. (looking good really helped)

      I just tried to be his consequences for what he told me. I pulled away emotionally and refused to let his revelations bother me. Just looked at him as a male friend. He told (on himself) all the things hed done over the years that I never knew about…and we would laugh about it.

      I think your H is still in his fantasy world. Dont buy into his shit! Pick yourself up and be stronger. Show him your not affraid to give up and be happy. Be flirty and fun and walk away like you dont care about him. thats all i have for now. I really hope things will be better for you soon!

    • Rachel

      So better are you still with your husband?

    • Better

      Im still with him. This whole situation has been a heartwrenching and very long process of trial and error.

      My previous post i stated that he finally told me last week that he was 100% back in love with me. Thought it would make everything better. It made a difference because it took him a year to say that. I wrote him letters telling him what i needed, I cried, sometimes I was to clingy…Everything that all the other BS on here have been going thru I went thru it to. We are definatley not “fixed” yet. but I actually have hope.

      I think no matter what the CS does it is not going to make the pain go away…Ive come to that realization. Ive set the boundries of what I “personally” will and will not except from him or any man in general. Because this is the way I want to live. And I know what my H expects from me and Im good with it. The affair happened because something was broken with us. He stayed and tried because there was still some love on his part even though he couldnt and wouldnt show it at the time. I couold still feel that. I know he wouldnt have stayed otherwise. I fought and fought hard to win him back because I love him and I knew he felt the same (but like i said he didnt say it, just the action of him trying was all i needed to know)

      Im in NO way condoning his behavior! Everything he did with the OW is the cruelest and sickest thing anyone could ever do to another person. But, I understand how lonely he felt at the same time. I was lonely too. I just either never had an opportunity or am not that type of person, to allow a “frienship” with another man. His line of business he meets a lot of people and this OW is a social whore (haha had to say it)
      I still cry myself to sleep at night sometimes. I have triggers.

      The day he told me he was 100% back in love with me I was having serious second thoughts about staying with him. The pain is so unbarable sometimes…and I was getting sick of feeling that way all the time…Seems as if everytime I would pull away he would do something, even if it were the dumbest small thing, and it would keep me trying.

      Like this website says “its a journey”!!! (understatement)

      You know your H better than anyone,,,even the OW. You know what he likes and doesnt like. And I beleive the BS has the upper hand over the AP. BS follow the same pattern…shock, repair mode, self forgiveness, self discovery, and Hopefully forgivness of the CS. Im not totally to that point yet.
      I just keep going with my gut! It hasnt steered me wrong yet.

      • Rachel

        Better, did u have any anger/rage when u found out? My husband won’t work on us because he’s scared what it will do to me because I am fragile??? This has totally crushed me . Not once has he said that he wants to work on us 100%. I’m tired of this roller coaster ride. I want to get off!

        • norrine fay

          Hi Rachel. My Cs always called me fragile even though I held the relationship together for years while he ran from our problems and family stress. I think Cs use words to confuse us and stop us moving forward. Then they don’t have to take responsibility for their actions. It is gaslighting at it’s finest.

          You know you are the strong one in the relationship. You did not choose to solve your problems by sleeping/seeing another person. My Cs was just like yours but changed when I threatened to expose him to his family. Now he is trying but its too little too late. You are a strong women to come through all your Cs BS. Try and hold on to that.

          • rachel

            norrine fay,
            Thank you but I am not feeling strong at all. I do believe this is the end. He wants to seperate because his therapist suggested this during a trying period for us. Although I was doing most of the trying and I do have to say I did a pretty good job not dwelling on the fact that he looked up his ex girl friend from 30 years ago met for lunch and texted. I really wanted to work on us. Baby steps. Wasted I guess.
            He texted me today and told me that he is ambivalent which means uncertain. You know I was uncertain too since he did all of the nasty stuff and I was willing to try. I just think its just another excuse. I’m just tired of all of the excuses. First it was he couldn’t try because I couldn’t move on.So I changed and I tried. Next it was because of my anger. And I changed that too. Calmed right down. And now we cant move on because he is uncertain. That I can’t do anything about.
            My husbands family knows all about it and they are 100% behind any decision that he makes. Hows that for a slap in the face!!!

    • Better

      Did I have any anger or rage?

      The first week after I found out I let him stay in our home..I had no idea the extent of the EA until a week later when I cracked the lock on his phone and saw everything. I kicked him out right away…I swore, yelled, cried you name it!

      Three weeks ago I had a trigger and left for a few hours. He called me and I yelled and screamed and cried and asked questions…but he was pretty good thru it all..and we were on the phone a little over an hour. I told him later that I hope your ok with going thru that again…this is very painful for me and I am doing my best..if you want out say so now..
      He said he still wanted to try and three weeks later hes telling me hes all the way in love with me again.
      In the begining we fought, talked, cried, had date night, did a lot together, hed be home one week and gone the next. But he always came back and I always let him. Its very hard learning how to communicate with a spouse all over again because you already know them..I had to learn how to really listen to him and be a friend. And vice versa! I look at him totally different. I always just took for granted that he was there for me and our family and that was enough..found out the hard way that we were just coexisiting.

      I dont know where you are (months) in this “roller coaster”.
      I think your H isnt telling you how he really feels. Hes just using your suposive fragileness as an excuse. Do you think your fragile? Why? This is such a confusing and scary situation to be thrown into blindly that anyone would be fragile…I know i lost 35lbs in 2months!

      • rachel

        We are 4 months into this terrible nightmare. I didn’t think I was fragile when I first found out. I was so hurt and shocked. Like you said He was always there for us. I would never do this to my children. Ages 19 and 16. Nov 13 the bomb dropped. In front of my 16 year old. Confessed it all lunches and texting to his ex g.friend from 30 years ago. He’s in love with her not me, they are soul mates, they click, they are leaving their families to be together. The whole bit. Then my 16 year old said we are being replaced. Four hrs. later as i was comforting my 16 year old (the oldest is in college), my H came upstairs and said, I was confused. I love you, you are my family, I am not leaving. It was pure HELL!!! All of us are in counseling. I could never do this to my kids. He said he didn’t know it was considered an affair (jackass). Well, I had a real hard time but agreed to move along. Wanted to save our marriage. Then he said no because I was filled with anger and rage. So I ignored him and went on with my life. Then he said that we could try again.Now its he wants to seperate per suggestion of his therapist and he is now “ambivilant” uncertain so he can’t work on us. He’s afraid if it doesn’t work I won’t be able to handle it. As my kids keep telling me Mom, he already told you that he doesn’t want you. So hard and painfull. I weigh 96 lbs. was 112. Just put on lexapro was on prozac. Hate the drugs. Why am I on them?? He’s the one with the problem!!

    • Rachel

      Better, did your husband say anything about your weight loss? Mine yells at me!!! And he’s the cause of it!!!!!

    • Lynne


      As you said above, right now your H is being a JACKASS! So he yells at you because of your current weight? That sounds like his denial coming out and he doesn’t appreciate any reminders of his “Jackassedness”!

      Think about some of the things you’ve said above. He says you’re angry–you work on it–he comes up with something else. Now you’re fragile–you show your strength–he comes up with something else. Next, he’s ambivalent…..see the theme here? He’s probably now crafting his next reason for why this can’t work. It’s not really you, it’s your H that is conflicted and confused. He has to come up with reasons it won’t work so that it doesn’t look like he’s the one that is fogged in. What would it say about him if this was all of his making, he ruined his family, he’s a shithead, he was selfish….he has to blame you to justify his decision to have had an EA. Otherwise, how internally painful would it be for him to know that he has made a stupid choice that destroyed his family at his own hand.

      I know it doesn’t seem to make sense and it probably feels like an alien has inhabited his body. Just keep being your best self and hopefully, one day, your real H will return. Only you can decide if you’re willing to wait for that day to come.

      Big hugs to you!

    • Better


      Lynn is right. sounds like your H is making every conveinent excuse so that he doesnt have to take responsibility for his actions.

      I know when I was in month 4 my H was still in the fog. Secretly talking to the Ow. And I was an emotional wreck, it felt as if someone had died!

      With or without your H it will get easier to accept your new reality. Time really does heal. This whole experience has brought me out of my niave way of thinking and I look at people and life in general totally different.

      I think you need to get a straight answer from your H. Either he wants to work it out….and in so doing…deal with ALL of your emotional ups and downs..or…he needs to walk away completely and let you begin your healing so you can move on and be happy. This constant back and forth with him is gonna real kill you! My husband tried pulling that with me in the beginning and I could not handle it…so I gave him the choices. You shouldnt allow anyone to play with your heart like that..its very cruel. He might not even see what hes doing to you. Most likely hes still got the fog in his head and he only sees himself. You need to look out for #1! Have you asked him to have a date night? Just to see if there is anything left in your marriage.I know my husband thought we were completly broken…and I asked him if we could have a date night just to make sure that seperating was the best decision. (we did have date nights and still continue them. the trick is to be very fun, flirty, happy, interested in him, and NO talking about the EA or the OW!)

      The initial months after I found out I did everything I could to keep busy. I cleaned my house spotless and rearranged every room in the house, and did all the yard work! Keeping your mind occupied will give you a break from all the emotions. (you need to have a break from your own thoughts)

      As for my weight loss…I was a little overweight anyways. Not obese, but I had a medical issue that caused it. So my weight loss my H didnt mind.. which brings me to your antideppressants. Is this the only time youve had to use them? I had a very bad expeirence with them that caused my marriage to disentagrate.

    • Monie

      Is gaslighting just a thing that happens between spouses or can it happen between the CS and his children? I am in a quandry as to why he can be so mean over the most trivial things to my girls 17 & 14 with just 22 days until 12 months after D-Day I still wonder if everthing is as it seems or is something still going on. I have had the deepest apologies and things have certainly improved but my gut does not feel right, the birds are around alot and I keep finding 5 cent pieces like near on twelve months ago!

      • Doug

        Monie, Gaslighting can occur in all kinds of relationships…Marital, child/parent, workplace, etc.

    • suziesuffers

      Sounds like crap to me too! Rachel, this guy has his head up his………I think sometimes therapists are NUTS. Separation to do what!! We struggled with multiple affairs over lots of years. He was sober 5 years after 30 years alcohol and pot….but he was also unfaithful most of those years too. But sobriety brought on more infidelity…EA’s, crushes, infatuations and then a EA/PA with the AA newcomer!! Well we kept working at it….oh I should say, I kept working at it. He gave me lip service about how much he loved me…but it if his lips were moving he was lying. His actions did not match his words. Sure he gave me access to his phone and emial records FINALLY after 2 years, but then it was complaints about me looking at them. He pretty much refused to talk about the affairs….and obviously we had lots to talk about, but then in the last year he was willing to listen to me and have me cry on his shoulder until he thought he had “sacrified” enough and didn’t want to have to be interrogated, investigated, questioned about his comings and goings even though he still had a number of suspicous “encounters” with woman that he thought I was being ridiculous about….I was just too emotional. I was too stuck in the past and not willing to move on. I begged for marriage counseling…..I begged for him to read almost anything about how I felt and what he could do to rebuild trust….Too much work for him. Until he decided to file for divorce….then personal counseling for him…he had the time and money for……He could read books about healing through relationships……Amazing he suddenly had the time and energy to invest in his “healing” from his alcohol abuse and infidelity, but when your selfish and your character has this many defects, it has become a personality disorder. We’ve been working through the divorce and my heart was broken by his lies and cheating, but he’s already got the next woman from Alanon in his sights and building his charm to show this woman how terrible his wife is and what a victim he has been from his “sins” being thrown in his face. He’s from a very dysfunctional family that had a mom that was married MULTIPLE times but with a religious addiction. I heard once that infidelity can sometimes be an opportunity to identify problems in the marriage where the CS is remorseful and willing to do anything to work on his own issues and the BS gets the opportunity to be open about the pain and feelings that infiltrate her very soul…..but there are some CS that are just pigs and they will never change. Broken hearted but relying on God to heal my soul.

    • Jack

      We are a gay couple together for 24 years now. Im being gaslighted now that I just discovered the definition. We argue and his response to me, no matter what, is that I’m crazy and need a therapist. I’m trying to break this type of interaction but it’s very difficult. I feel alone and unwanted. I know I’m not crazy and I’ve had therapy. My therapist feels I don’t need therapy. Oh my…

    • Jack

      My wife is the sole bread winner of the family. She never hesitates to devalue my decision making and achievements. She claims that she is trying to help me by making these suggestions. If I choose not to comply, or if I forget do something that she says that I committed to then I am selfish, uncaring, and unloving. Because I don’t fulfill her expectations Im a failure, disappointment, and waste. She calls me names. These feelings that she harbors towards makes me sad and frustrated. Because I’m sad and frustrated, she doesn’t want intimacy.

      I have an MBA, I’m athletic, I love God, I have good friends, and I’m very happy outside my marriage. Yet, my wife blames me for 95% of her frustration and unhappiness. When I point out something that I achieved, she can not authentically share in my joy. And when I show her my appreciation, she is uncomfortable. What I’m I dealing with?

    • Shelley

      I & my boyfriend was planning to get married last month, just last week we had some argument that made him get angry on me just because of the argument, he said we will not marry me again and the next day he left me and we broke up. I still loved him and I wanted him to marry me, for me to get him back i had no choice than to contacted dr_mack@yahoo. com to help me and he helped me to bring my lover back to me so we can continue our plan to be married. he came back after 3 days, we are happily married now.

    • Ariana

      OMG…I am not the only one who deals with a gaslighter! I thought I was!

      I think the only way to stop this psychological, emotional and verbal abuse from a gaslighter is just to disappear from his/her life. There is no other way.

      However, it’s not that easy and sweet. In my case, for instance, I’m totally in his hands because I am an immigrant, middle age (means old in certain countries so no chance to get a good job) and I have several health conditions that stops me to get low jobs like cleaning or whatever I have to be standing up for hours like in Walmart for instance.

      He is a cop, a narcissist-gaslighter who believes he owns the entire world and has to be put on a pedestal. Even though this man is all that and more, I refuse to feel a victim. No way he is going to take away from me my dignity, my pride, or my self-esteem!

      I just discovered the term “gaslighter” and I have educated my self in different ways about it.

      Now I’m doing whatever I can, to protect myself from this cynical, pathological psycho. As the author of this article says, one cannot engage with them in a discussion or fight anymore. They are always right, they never apologize for anything and they are zero compassionate. The narcissists-gaslighters are cruel, manipulative, liers, unfaithful, and highly vindictive.

      So what to do if one is on a situation like mine?

      What I’m doing is educating myself about it as I said above; I’m empowering myself by doing volunteer jobs where I can get job recommendations, I’m using my skills by tutoring about my first language so I have some money and I keep looking for a job that suits me. It is taking forever for me to find a job that is right for me but I don’t give up. Once I get it, I will fly away from this predator. And hey, remember you can’t negotiate with this type of psycho, so if you are going to leave, you have to do it cold turkey!

      In the mean time, while you have to deal with the gaslighter, show him affection, a fake one of course because if you don’t, he is going to continue with his cruel demands, accusations and gaslighting. You have to do that in order to maintain your peace and sanity at home; be respectful, try to be normal and make him believe whatever he wants to believe about you (they usually believe that we are the abusers, the cruel, the bad person). Act like nothing is happening and let him believe that he can abuse you whenever he wants. Of course that is not true. Observe him, smile and be kind. Yes, hypocritical. Remember this is because one has to protect ourselves from his verbal or physical violence.

      Continue with your plan and leave as soon as you resolve where you are going to leave, who is going to support you emotionally and put a restriction on him/her.

      Now that is my plan. It may be not the right one or perfect one but honestly I don’t see other exit to this hell of relationship.

    • Denise

      After 1yr I now know I’ve been gs After many running aways n affairs changed jobs always returns? So many lies n mood changes n red herrings no emotions except anger no affection n today once work then blocked me n lied n said he’d cancelled facebook…he hasn’t I got a confidant to check…n tgen threatened to delete txts…so no contact..he lives with me…very grumpy all the time..says it’s night shift..says physical pain…this is true…but didn’t seem to matter when away 8wks sleeping in back of a ute..came back once a ‘sleep’ with back 4 wks has been sureal..moody grumpy ignores me..won’t chat no affection…????…then a few days ago saud needs wkend away..left thurs til reason given n was angry I didn’t say goodbye when I left with my son to politics launch..he was asleep I covered with a blanket…he has hurt me so much…he is dismissive of me…I don’t exist..tonight I had a politics function to go to..he was quiet watching me get ready..then got up suddenly n walked out..I said are you going early..asked him this 5 mins before n he said no…I went out to say goodbye…before he took pain tablets mild..n I said how are your shoulders. .n ask me that everyday.. he was angry..threw his bag in in…got out..went back for ph charger cord..I lent in to kiss goodbye n he snarled..not gunna kiss you ..I watched you put that shit on your lips…I’d taken it off..cos I knew he didn’t like it..but he insisted it was still there b after kissing me acted like I’d poisoned him..drove off so aggressively n didn’t even say goodbye…so here I am…retry no 10 I knowing I’ve been gs..what to do. ?

    • Sandy

      MY advice as a person who went through a long relationship with a gaslighter is:

      1-Find out if he has any type of borderline personality disorder (Pscycopathy, Malignant Narcissism, etc) or if this is a temporary behavior that he/she has slipped into and become accustomed to over time as have you.

      2-If he/she does have a BPD, leave! Start your life over again because they cannot change! They can improve temporarily to avoid problems or because you are making the bigger effort to “appease” them but this is still manipulation. You will never truly find peace, trust or happiness with these people. Your life will consist of walking on eggshells and always making excuses for them. They cannot truly love anybody. They can pretend or act it out because they are Master manipulators. They can even miss you but mostly because they miss the benefits and tolerance you provided. If you wasted 1 or 20 years of your life or so, still! Cut your losses and regain your freedom! Find a man or woman you can trust and love into your elderly years. They do exist!

      3-You can try to work it out if you are sure they do not have BPD. Therapy is recommended and can benefit.

    • Silje Randrup

      This dynamic—I call it the Gaslight Tango—occurs in all different types of relationships: at the office, in our friendships, between parents and children, and, between siblings. It is a form of psychological abuse . The powerful gaslighter (he has power both because he asserts it and because the gaslightee gives it to him!) engages in an ongoing, systematic knocking down of the other, less powerful, person, purposely controlling the relationship by telling the other that there is something wrong with the way she sees the world or there’s something wrong with who she is. Meanwhile, the gaslightee, by agreeing with him or allowing his perceptions define hers, over time, loses confidence, feels unsure and experiences a growing shakiness of self. Gradually, the gaslightee begins to question what she thought she knew, and gives up the power to stand in her own reality.

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