trauma bonding

By Sarah P.

Abandonment causes deep shame. Abandonment by betrayal is worse than mindless neglect. Betrayal is purposeful and self-serving. If severe enough, it is traumatic.” Patrick J. Carnes, PhD (1)

The other day when I was looking for studies in psychology databases, I saw an abstract that caught my eye. The abstract basically said that the author’s of a paper had found that extreme frustration in romantic relationships is an essential part of falling in love.

While I did not read their paper, it got me to thinking. Suddenly a light-bulb went on and I realized that this is why the plots of the most successful romantic comedies always include scenarios of frustration as key plot points. I also realized that this is why some men seem to love the girl that plays hard-to-get or who is the proverbial; one that got away. (Some women seem to equally love hard-to-get men).

This led to thoughts of the role frustration plays in situations where there is infidelity. There is no doubt that the element of frustration fuels the passion of the affair. But, what about the frustration the husband or wife feels when going through the recovery process? What about the frustration he/she feels when his/her spouse bounces back and forth between the spouse and the affair partner?

Add to that, if true frustration is an essential element in falling in love, then it gets interesting. If it is an essential element of falling in love, wouldn’t it also cause people to become more deeply attached and perhaps fall deeper in love when there is frustration in marriage? I would say yes.

If that is true, then negative frustration, especially the kind caused by the husband or wife during an affair, has the potential to inspire deeper feelings of love in his/her spouse and suddenly love takes on a sinister tone.

The phrase that popped into my head was trauma bonding. Those bonds are the most sinister of all because they are based solely on harm.

You have probably heard of Stockholm Syndrome, which is a phenomenon where hostages can actually bond to and have empathy for the individuals who have taken them hostage. Stockholm Syndrome is a type of trauma bond that can develop when an individual’s life depends on another individual who is in a more powerful position within the relationship. Hostages can develop irrational feelings of positivity toward their captors, even though their lives are in danger.

Trauma bonds are commonly defined as strong emotional attachments, which because of the cycle of abuse, cause an individual to develop profound psychological attachments to his or her abuser.

Generally, the idea of a trauma bond is used specifically in cases where someone is subjected to some kind of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. In addition to that, sometimes this concept has been used to describe how the partners of sex addicts feel and why it is difficult for them to leave a relationship.

However, I would like to branch out and explore the possible connection between trauma bonding and extramarital affairs. Granted, this could be a reach in the opinion of some, but I do believe this idea has validity and I will use this article as an avenue to better explore the concept of the trauma bond and why it’s probable that is plays a role in extramarital affairs, specifically why it is so hard to let go when someone has caused you profound emotional pain.

I will theorize that the inability to easily let go after a person’s spouse has had an affair is the direct result of a trauma bond.

trauma bonding

The Cycle of Abuse

But, before I dive into the trauma bond, we need to first look the cycle of abuse.

My argument will rest on the idea that the dynamic established during the cycle of abuse and in its aftermath will be the bridge toward trauma bonds after an affair.

The graphic above illustrates the cycle of abuse in its most basic form.

The little rain cloud shapes represent the free-floating PTSD and trauma bonds that are always around. The graphic above generally applies to physical abuse, but it can also apply to emotional abuse. At the center of it all, the motive is power and control.

People who behave abusively are usually so out of control in their own minds that they want to have power and control over their domain as well as the people in ‘their’ domain. In cases of physical abuse and emotional abuse, people are no longer people and become the object of control.

Now, that very same cycle plays out during an extramarital affair. But, while the motive may not be power and control, the same harmful dynamic exists and this harmful dynamic is cyclical.

Women and men who go through affairs can develop PTSD just as those who have been physically or emotionally abused can develop PTSD. So, the link here is the cyclical negative dynamic that is caused during an affair and in its aftermath as well as the frustration that occurs on the part of the hurt spouse.

 

 

Often we find that betrayed spouses have a difficult time leaving their husbands or wives after the affair. Why? Because if you put it all together, you have all the necessary ingredients that are needed for a very profound trauma bond to take shape. Here is a graphic that illustrates the dynamic an affair can create between the husband and wife.

trauma bonding

Note that even though, at least on the surface, it appears to be different than the cycle of abuse graphic, the recipe is the same. There is a negative motive inside the circle and the same cycle of pain that is kicked off again and again.

Affairs are the gifts that keep on giving.

I believe that this affair cycle can cause free-floating PTSD that results in trauma bonding. After all, our nervous system and brains cannot tell the difference between emotional pain caused by emotional/physical abuse or emotional pain caused by the cyclical and harmful nature of infidelity.

As in both affairs and physical abuse, there are promises, seeming resolutions, and the calm before the storm. Just when you least expect it, you are thrown for another loop. Those loops in the aftermath of an affair can be caused by either finding out the truth about a lie you were told, or discovering a new fact, or by a partner when he/she is indecisive about whether to stay or go.

In fact, I would classify infidelity as a type of emotional abuse. So that you can see a parallel, here is a common definition of emotional abuse:

Any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.” (2)

Note that the definition of emotional abuse doesn’t say that all of those actions/traits need to be present in order for it to qualify as emotional abuse.

Generally, when psychologists write definitions they clearly state when all of the criteria must be met in order for a label to qualify. So, let’s look at the elements of emotional abuse that parallel with an affair specifically directed toward the victim (innocent spouse) of the affair:

  • humiliation
  • verbal assault
  • isolation
  • intimidation

There are other negative things that are also directed at the victim such as:

  • lying.
  • manipulating
  • invalidating
  • fear

All of these things work together to “diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth” of the victim just as the definition of emotional abuse states.

Thus, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that infidelity could qualify as a type of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse causes strong trauma bonds as well as PTSD in some cases. Now do you see why I am putting forth the idea that trauma bonds make it really hard to leave a situation after an affair?

What Does Trauma Bonding Look Like?

So what does a trauma bond look like? Let’s start with a definition of a trauma bond before we dive in:

Bonding is a biological and emotional process that makes people more important to each other over time. Unlike love, trust, or attraction, bonding is not something that can be lost. It is cumulative and only gets greater, never smaller. Bonding grows with spending time together, living together, eating together, making love together, having children together, and being together during stress or difficulty. Bad times bond people as strongly as good times, perhaps more so. Moreover, experiencing together extreme situations and extreme feelings tends to bond people in a special way. Trauma bonding, a term developed by Patrick Carnes, is the misuse of fear, excitement, sexual feelings, and sexual physiology to entangle another person.” (3)

Though this definition that describes the anatomy of a trauma bond does not exactly look like the anatomy of an affair, there are commonalities. Thus, my argument rests of the premise that commonalities and outcomes are enough of a bridge to join the idea of trauma bonds and affairs.

As the definition says, bonding is not something that is lost and it grows with experience. It also says that bad times can bond people together more than good times.

I remember reading studies that demonstrated that a couple facing a fear arousing or emotionally intense situation can cause much deeper bonds between that couple. This is often why affairs can begin at work. One man is fearful of his job and so a female coworker helps him through the fear and acts as an office advocate for him.

Or perhaps a male and female coworker spends late nights working on high-stress and high-intensity projects together. This type of situation will cause them to bond. 

But a bigger problem begins when it has been shown (on average) that a spouse will spend more time per week talking to coworkers than their spouse. When those coworkers are of the opposite sex, it’s like carrying a torch around the vicinity of a keg of dynamite. People will likely get hurt. But, that is beside the point.

So, knowing that intense situations create strong bonds and knowing that the aftermath of an affair creates explosive emotions and intensity, I believe it is fair to say that people have the potential to bond because of that trauma.

I believe that the spouse who is betrayed will develop the trauma bond since her/his dignity, sense of identity, emotional safety, and self-worth has been greatly diminished. The individual has been made ripe for a trauma bond and the greater the intensity of the aftermath, the potential for a greater trauma bond.

These bonds make it notoriously difficult to leave and I believe that a trauma bond makes it 100 times more difficult to leave a spouse than a regular bond based on healthy dynamics and fair treatment.

Here is my assumption in a visual chart:

 

trauma bonding

 

Note that the cycle of emotional abuse must occur in order for trauma bonding to occur. While not every single affair contains the cycle of emotional abuse, I believe that the vast majority do. Even if a husband or wife is not actively emotionally abusive, even if he or she is passive, the result is the same: a wife or husband loses her/his entire sense of self.

Thus, it is my belief that affairs (by nature) are emotionally abusive.

The Bible agrees with me in terms of the seriousness of infidelity. In Biblical times, it was the only sin that was regularly punished by death.  Do I believe people should be executed for having an affair? NO. But I do believe that more stiff penalties should be in place.

I believe that infidelity has lost seriousness in our culture and that is a very grave thing for both marriages and society as a whole. I think that we should have a nationwide return to the laws regarding alienation of affection. In my opinion, most people don’t like to be hit where it hurts: the bank account.

Here is the low-down on alienation of affection:

In a small minority of states, a spouse may sue a third party for willfully and maliciously interfering with the marital relationship. This interference results in winning away the love of a husband or wife from his/her spouse. This suit is usually brought against the adulterous spouse’s lover. Although, the statutes also allow for these claims to be filed against an in-law, relative, counselor, therapist, or clergy member who has talked the spouse into leaving the marriage. This type of claim is part of tort law, and is known as alienation of affection. Criminal conversation is a claim closely related to Alienation of Affection. It is basically a civil claim for adultery, formally known as “seduction”. Unlike Alienation of Affection, it is not necessary to prove that the offending party acted with malice or that the adultery had any effect on the marriage. Adultery must be proven in a criminal conversation claim, though; whereas that is not required in an Alienation of Affection claim.” (4)

Unfortunately, only six states have alienation of affection statutes, which would allow a betrayed spouse to sue. These states are Hawaii, Utah, North Carolina, Mississippi, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Unfortunately, Illinois was the most recent state to abolish alienation of affection statutes; otherwise there would have been seven states.

Save moving to one of those six states, this leaves everyone else without any recourse, which I don’t find fair at all. (And by the way, alienation of affection laws apply to both women and men who have been betrayed!)

So where is the other woman’s legal culpability in all of this? Lindsey O’Neill, Esq, says this:

Well, why shouldn’t she bear some responsibility?  She’s equally at fault!  SO WHAT if she didn’t make any commitments to the wife or girlfriend.  Does that make it right for her to go after someone else’s husband or boyfriend? Here’s the thing – we’ve decided as a society that certain behaviors are not OK.  As a result, we’ve decided that there are certain standards by which people are obligated to act.  We expect people to act according to “that degree of care that an ordinarily prudent person can be reasonably expected to exercise under similar circumstance.”  If someone acts “unreasonably” in those situations, then they can be sued for the harm caused to a third person as a result… it just seems right to me that people should be held accountable for the harm they cause to others – especially harm to the things most of us consider to be the most valuable, fundamental relationships in our lives.” (5)

I second that opinion! Sometimes society as a whole forgets that the other woman is a grown adult (although this is disputable due to her behavior) who repeatedly made the choice to have a relationship with someone else’s husband.

While she has full knowledge that what she is doing is immoral and destructive to others, she knowingly continues this same destructive behavior. But, back to the point: the other woman’s  (and man’s) behavior helps create the very trauma to the wife or husband that lays the foundation for the trauma bond as well as PTSD.

What Does the Relationship Look Like When the Hurt Spouse has PTSD or a Trauma Bond?

So, psychologically speaking, what does a relationship look like when a hurt spouse has a PTSD or a trauma bond due to an affair? Let’s first look at the attributes and reasons for PTSD due specifically due to emotional harm, such as abandonment:

The intense emotional crisis of abandonment can create a trauma severe enough to leave an emotional imprint on individuals’ psychobiological functioning. Following an abandonment experience in childhood or adulthood, some people develop a sequel of post traumatic symptoms which share sufficient features with post traumatic stress disorder to be a subtype of this diagnostic criteria. As with other types of post trauma, the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder of abandonment range from mild to severe. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a disease of the amygdala- the emotional center of the brain responsible for initiating the Fight Flee Freeze response. In PTSD the amygdala is set on overdrive to keep us in a perpetual state of hyper-vigilance, action-ready to declare a state of emergency should it perceive any threat even vaguely reminiscent of the original trauma.” (6)

The connection that I am making here is through the feelings of abandonment that the betrayed spouse can feel, which can occur over and over again during an affair. The brain does not know the difference between abandonment in childhood by a parent or the abandonment of adulthood due to an affair (even if the cheater chooses to stay).

Affairs in and of themselves can cause feelings of abandonment even if the cheater chooses to stay. But, the most important part about PTSD is that it can be short-term or longterm.

Here are some attributes of PTSD from the NIHM website (7):

  • Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Feeling strong depression, guilt, or worry

Does everyone who goes through an affair develop PTSD. Probably not. But, a lot of people can develop it due to the trauma of an affair, and this is something of which we should all be aware.

Don’t ever allow anyone to invalidate your feelings or try to play down what you went through. If you have developed PTSD, your relationship will be affected by it. But that is not something to be ashamed of or to downplay either. You did not initiate the harm, you did not choose to harm, but you can be affected by it.

Don’t allow anyone to tell you to get over it or to lighten up. We all have to process what we feel and each person is very individual in terms of how and when they process things.

anguish

Attributes of Trauma Bonding

Let’s look at the attributes of trauma bonds, which are also called betrayal bonds.

When a connection or attachment to a person defies logic, when the victim is kept off-center by the actions of another, and the victim experiences intermittent reinforcement of good and bad, a trauma bond is not far off.

“Trauma impels people both to withdraw from close relationships and to seek them desperately. The profound disruption in basic trust, the common feelings of shame, guilt, and inferiority, and the need to avoid reminders of the trauma that might be found in social life, all foster withdrawal from close relationships. But the terror of the traumatic event intensifies the need for protective attachments. The traumatized person therefore frequently alternates between isolation and anxious clinging to others.” (8)

When an affair occurs, it is often found that a woman (or man) will have two very extreme feelings co-existing: the hate and revulsion toward the betrayer, which causes her/him to want to distance herself/himself from the betrayer, and then the opposing need — the compulsive need to simultaneously draw close to the betrayer.

In the case of a female betrayed spouse, she wants to escape the pain of the affair and leave her husband who has caused her that searing pain, but she also wants her husband to hold her in his arms, wipe her tears away, and to tell her that he has always loved her, is dedicated to her, and that it is going to be okay.

Such is the paradox of the affair—the person who causes you the most harm is also seemingly the very person who can take the pain away.

Betrayal (trauma) bonds are extremely illogical and there is no reconciliation between the two opposing feelings.

As the betrayed, you may want to leave your spouse, but the bond caused specifically by the betrayer keeps you locked in. You live in an invisible cage that dictates whether or not you leave and that invisible cage has no key for the lock. This type of feeling is tantamount to a betrayal/trauma bond.

It is my personal opinion that all marriages (and engagements) where an affair has occurred, and that affair is known, is a relationship where there is a betrayal bond.

That bond may be extremely mild or severe, but I still believe it is there. Of course, this is all my opinion and I am not sure how many in the psychology community would agree with me. On the other hand, I do think that psychologists who have been the victim of marital infidelity will understand the logic and connections that I am making.

I have not seen much of anyone talk about making the connection between betrayal bonds and affairs, but that does not mean it is an invalid argument. I believe that making this association would be an enormous can of worms for the community to open because of its implications.

After all, some of the most influential people in the mental health community can be the most hypocritical. I cannot tell you how many times if has come out that a married so-and-so was a marriage therapist while having affairs with other people.

People don’t like having the finger pointed at them and when the argument is particularly resonant, people scream loudly to diminish its validity. Thus, as far as I know, I am one of the few connecting trauma bonds and PTSD to affairs.

Does this article ring true for you? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

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Sources:

Patrick J. Carnes, PhD. From, http://www.markmeans.com/clientimages/36010/sexaddictionfiles/csattraumabondscourse.pdf

Natasha Tracy.  From, http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/emotional-abuse-definitions-signs-symptoms-examples/

Michael Samsel.  From,  http://www.abuseandrelationships.org/Content/Survivors/trauma_bonding.html

HG.org.  From, https://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=19936

Lindsey O’Neil, Esq.  From, http://blog.lawinfo.com/2008/02/28/infidelity-should-you-be-able-to-sue-the-person-who-had-an-affair-with-your-significant-other/

Abandonment.net.  From, http://www.abandonment.net/articles/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-of-abandonment-part-i-an-overview-and-list-of-30-characteristics

National Institute of Mental Health.  From, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml

Svali.  From, http://fromtheinsideout.tripod.com/articles/mc/trauma-bonding.htm

 

    127 replies to "Trauma Bonding: Why It’s So Hard to Let Go After an Affair"

    • bor

      This seems to make sense. There were several times before my EMDR that I was asking my wife to leave and asking her to do the things to help me heal. Which she did not. so the torment of what I needed and what she would give were far from each other. but by doing date nights of dancing for two hours created such a strong bond that i would just hang on for the next week to be drawn in again. kind of like limerance? the behavior i needed was my LO that she was denying me. but by giving me a little it was drawing me back. Still trying to process why I am staying now that she is recontacted. Really just for kids and the hope she snaps out of limerence. I don’t really even know how I can find a therapist that can help her process the limerence and affair. She has stated so many of the common things that would indicate limerence.

      • TheFirstWife

        Regarding the affair fog. My therapist told me Thete is very little anyone can say or do to “wake up” the CS.

        In fact one day my H made a comment that he wished one of his friends would have confronted him. I looked at him and said very calmly , “Can you honestly say you would have listened at that point?” He agreed that he would not have listened to anyone.

        Not even a therapist or anyone who would have tried to reason with him.

        He didn’t care that he was cheating. He wanted what he wanted. Like a 2 yo spoiled child.

        • Sadinthesouth

          Quote from TFW: “Regarding the affair fog. My therapist told me there is very little anyone can say or do to “wake up” the CS.”

          So how does it finally end, if ever?

          • TheFirstWife

            To make a simple analogy a MLC or affair is like a drug. The CS is like a drug addict.

            You can bring or force an addict or alcoholic to rehab or AA, but unless they want it, the rehab won’t stick or last.

            My therapist would tell me when I felt hopeless or ready to give up that “if two people want it, then you can rebound after an affair. BUT they both have to want it”.

            Now in many cases the BS wants to try to remain married while the CS is not sure what they want. They are excited by the OW or having fun sneaking around and getting a thrill out of it. It is FantasyLand. It is relationship built on lies. But it is exciting to them.

            My H’s OW (for background here) was half his age, desperate and covered in tattoos and had a long history of bad relationships. She meets this nice guy (my H her boss) and he is attracted to her. He made the relationship happen. I know that for a fact. But he felt needed by her and he was going to rescue her from her miserable life.

            Soooooo I had to tell my H after he told me numerous times that he did not want to be married during those first few months after DDay1 that I was his 30 year relationship (5 years dating and 25 yrs married). I was not going to be new and exciting to him. I tried in small ways but I am not going to compete with someone else.

            I hung on for months b/c he would give me just enough hope to remain in the marriage. At the end of the summer I had a frank and direct conversation with my H about us splitting up. I told him after the kids go back to school in September we would have no more joint social obligations and we would need to set up a joint family calendar. I asked if he would live close so our kids would have the convenience between the 2 households.

            He suddenly realized I was moving on. He was caught off guard and knew I was done playing this game. So he started being a better H.

            Stupidly I fell for all of it but 2-3 weeks later he was back with the same OW (but again I inew nothing). Meanwhile I am thinking we have turned the corner. Our marriage is improving.

            Then we had a good month. He planned a very romantic 25th anniversary for us. It pains me to find out he had been back w/ her for weeks by then. I was completely fooled. I believed everything he told me. I trusted him again. I forgave him. The whole nine yards.

            When he asked for a divorce a month after that he never told me she was in the picture. He told me the old “love you not in love with you”. So we were divorcing.

            When I called the OW to find out why my H was so irrational and not himself I found out he had dumped her a few days prior but was having a hard time letting go of her.

            With my kids in the house I went downstairs and very calmly and rationally confronted him. He admitted he had been seeing her up until a few days ago. No screaming or yelling. Just cool calm & collected.

            When I told him to leave and get out – that was the first time I saw an obvious shift and change in him. It was obvious he had turned the corner.

            But it had to be his idea to want to stay married. No other way it would work.

            So he came out of the fog at the last possible second. The next 2 years were rough. Typical cheater behavior. Continue to lie by omission. Not answer questions. Forget facts. Make mistakes. But I could see he was trying and making an effort.

            Which is why we got past it. Only b/c HE wanted to stay. HE realized the mistakes he made. Nothing I could do to change anything on my own.

            That is my biggest regret that I spent a year “trying to get him to see our marriage was good”. Waste of my time. Wished I would have spent that year on me first not him.

      • Sarah P

        Hi Bor,
        I am glad that you brought up limerence. For those of you who have not heard of limerence, here is a definition of limerence from David Sack, MD.

        “Limerence, a term coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov in her 1979 book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love, has been described as “an involuntary interpersonal state that involves an acute longing for emotional reciprocation, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and emotional dependence on another person.” Much to the dismay of diehard romantics, research suggests that limerence is the result of biochemical processes in the brain. Responding to cues from the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland releases norepinephrine, dopamine, phenylethylamine (a natural amphetamine), estrogen and testosterone. This chemical cocktail produces the euphoria of new love and begins to normalize as the attachment hormones (vasopressin and oxytocin) kick in, typically six to 24 months into a relationship. In much the same way that changes in the brain cause drug addicts to feel an intense, all-consuming draw to get and use drugs, limerence can drive people to extremes in the pursuit of the object of their affection.”

        Some people, especially cheaters, are addicted to limerence. It makes sense that they could be since their brains are producing powerful drugs. Some people are more susceptible to being addicted to these neurochemicals than others. I think people who are very susceptible to their influence are easily lead into affairs. They serve their purpose in normal relationships because they get a couple to stay together long enough for pair-bonding chemicals to kick in. But, some people have a glitch where they can’t feel good when these chemicals wear off. So they seek them out again and again.

        As for you staying, Bor, it is hard to walk away when there are children involved. If the wife is not holding the family together, then who will? (Wives have traditionally been the makers of hearth and home for thousands of years and if a woman is not willing to put her marriage and children first then someone must). So in a way you are acting in the best interests of your children and that is commendable.

        I hope that your wife has the rude awakening that she needs in order to snap out of it. She needs a good therapist.

      • jackie in cali

        Prior to my marriage, I was in a 13 year emotionally abusive, physically abusive situation with a man that I met when I was 13 years old. 5 years later we became involved. All the trauma bonding and ptsd cycle of abuse was there. I used to call it our six week roller coaster ride of his pms. broken trust on a regular cycle. Anyway, I think I must have carried the ptsd with me into this relationship because after reading all of the above, I realize that I was, in the beginning, the abuser. We fell in love and it was great, but I was just as you described above, suffering from ptsd and i abused him emotionally. Eventuallly I cheated. and we stayed together but we were damaged. I felt like a pos. He became distant and mean. A year later he went to jail for a year, and I did it again. And then I went off the deep end and slept with quite a few people before he got home. I was already sure it was over anyway. I had told him 4 months prior that Id not been faithful. Well, he got home and we spent one week together and then I got a job that required i be gone for a week at a time. He assured me that we would be fine. Well we werent. Now He is the cheater. Doing the back and forth thing, I became the victim and for six months now I have clung to the bare threads of whats left of a 17 year friendship/relationship/marriage…My husband has succeeded in his revenge. And if there is a posterchild of trauma bonded crazy woman, That would be me. Fortunately I couldnt take anymore and my feelings are fading and I havent spoken to him since he went back to her again two weeks ago, and I am beginning to finally feel peace within. Our relationship is over for sure, and it was a hell of a ride. What amazes me is after readinig all of the comments above, I had no idea that it couldhave been my fault all along, Suffering from ptsd in my first relat. I became an abuser and did not know it. Real eye opener.

    • Scott

      Absolute truth.

      This makes sense from the perspective of duality of wanting to try to reconcile and simultaneously separate from my wife.

      It’s time to pursue another course for my life and put this dysfunctional relationship behind me.

      • Sarah P

        Hi Scott,
        It’s very hard to leave a marriage even when there is an affair. If you have children under the age of 18, I would weigh options carefully before you make a decision. If you do not have under-age children, then yes it’s best to get out and find someone who is able to engage in a “grown up” relationship as an equal and loyal partner. Hope everything works out for you.

    • Shifting Impressions

      Fascinating article, Sarah. Lots to think about. Some days I feel like I am fighting an epic war, all inside my own head. That the very person who made you the happiest of anyone else on this earth, also created the most pain of anyone else on this earth……is enough to make one crazy.

      Looking back, I realize there was a type of emotional abuse going on during the time of the EA (unbeknownst to me at the time). There were two EA many years apart but both times even though I didn’t know what was going on….his behavior made me crazy.

      Your description of a trauma bond does ring rather true. I can relate with many of the feelings you describe.

      • Sarah P

        Hi Shifting Impressions,
        People can be very emotionally abusive to their spouses during any kind of affair. The reason they are abusive is because it allows them to rationalize their affair. They create their spouse as the enemy (even though the spouse is not) and they fight against the enemy that they have created. In a cheater’s mind, he (or she) is a victim of a spouse (they are betraying) who just didn’t “get him”. Cheaters have to keep believing that their innocent spouses are somehow harming them in order to continue the affair. Cheaters have to think of themselves as victims and this is why they can behave in ways that are abusive. Cheaters also like to ‘gaslight’ their innocent spouse and the innocent spouse feels like she is going crazy.

        Robin Stern, PhD, says this about gaslighting: “A reader asked me, if it is possible over time to get so beaten down and so sure you might be at fault, that you can’t identify the dynamic? The answer is YES. The Gaslight Effect happens over time, gradually, and often, by the time you are deep into the Gaslight Tango (the dance you do with your gaslighting partner, where you allow him to define your reality) you are not the same strong self you used to be. In fact, your ego functioning has been compromised and, no longer being certain of your reality, you are not often able to accurately identify when something is “off” with your partner. The process of gaslighting happens in stages, although the stages are not always linear and do overlap at times, they reflect very different emotional and psychological states of mind.”

        Cheaters often gaslight their partners whether it is intentional or not. So, if you feel like you are going crazy or if your partner describes a reality you know isn’t right, you could be in a gaslighting situation.

        • Sadinthesouth

          This was very helpful in understand what was happening. I started to question everything, our marital history, and myself in general. I was questioning things like, did we not just listen to the same doctor or read the same book or article? Who is he talking about when he talks about me? How could he think such horrible things about me? It is crazy making. I cannot imagine making stuff up like he does about someone I supposedly love. Is it his depression that colors his thoughts all gray? Is it conscious, purposeful, evil intent? Do they know they are lying to make it easier to walk away, or do they actually believe the BS? I have trouble wrapping my brain around such dysfunctional thinking.

    • Strengthrequired

      True for me too, in regards to trauma bond / hysterical bonding. glad I’m not alone.

      • Sarah P

        I am going to guess that a lot of people experience a trauma bond after an affair, so you are definitely not alone.

    • Hopeful

      I totally agree with the ptsd and emotional abuse. Looking back so many days, weeks and months make sense now. My husband did a great job of making me feel like it was all me. I cannot remember if it was Peggy Vaughn or Shirley Glass but I remember in one of their books it says that is the crazy thing the one that hurts you is the one that helps to heal you.

      What I feel and see now is that my husband was a hurt and miserable person. He did not know or try to get out of it. He felt like he was in too deep. He was not happy or enjoying himself. In the end I think he had and has it worse. He will always have this hanging over him and when he looks in the mirror. So I look at him as the hurt one the one with the problem. The ball is in his court how he wants to to play out. Of course with my input, boundaries and parameters.

      And I feel like working through this trauma, betrayal all of it has brought us a million times closer. He thanks me and appreciates me more than ever now. And of course we still have work to do on the past but I think we will always need to work at this. My expectations elevate all the time now, I will not settle. Maybe I am naive and this is all from a trauma bond but it feels genuine and real and yes some of it is due to our 25+ year relationship. We will see where it takes us…

      • Sarah P

        Hello Hopeful,
        It sounds like it is genuine and real. Think about it from a cheater’s perspective. (And I am referring to the cheaters who can have true insight). You might be the only person in your H’s life who didn’t abandon him after he did something terrible. I don’t know what his childhood was like but there are some parents who emotionally abandon their children and shame them when the child messes up. They make the child feel like he is a worthless human being, even after he did something that is a non issue such as spilling milk. Contrast that with the parents who talks to the child about spilling milk and asking them what could be done differently next time and then helping them clean up the mess without associating the child with being a bad person or somebody who screws up. It may Not may not be your husband’s case in childhood. It’s just an example. You obviously gave him a second chance and understood that he was a miserable person on the inside and still stayed with him and loved him through it all. If he has any insight into what you did for him, he will realize that he’s in a very genuine relationship and is with somebody he can count on, flaws and all. It’s a very powerful gift to give to somebody, that is to love them flaws and all. And if he realizes what he’s getting he will in turn only be grateful to you and it will bring you two closer. Even if your H had a good childhood, it’s a tremendous gift to receive– that is the working through the affair with him and coming out the other side better for it. The biggest paradox of it all is that couples can have infinitely better marriages after affair recovery has taken place.

        • Hopeful

          Yes all so true. I think in one area my husband was pushed and made to feel less adequate and it was related to sports. I would say every other aspect of his life he had very few rules, boundaries and expectations. School was easy for him and even if he did not do great there were no consequences or discussions since they knew he was capable. But no talking about giving his best effort ever. But with sports it was a different story. He was an excellent athlete but he has told me stories just recently and nothing horrible but I would say making him feel inadequate or not living up to expectations at least within his family. And that contrasted with everyone else fawning over him and gushing at him. It is very complicated. I am not sure he sees all of that. I feel like there are connections everywhere. I see how his friends behave, his relationship with his parents and so much more that to me seem to factor into how he makes decisions. He sees it in a compartamentalized fashion. We are working through it but it is challenging. And yes it is the oddest thing to have gone through this now and feel our marriage, friendship and relationship is better than ever.

          • Sarah P

            Hi Hopeful,
            It sounds like you have got to the bottom of what happens in your husband’s life in terms of the dynamic that he has experience and continues to experience. Even if his parents did not give him talks about doing better in school, it sounds like he has been made into a bit of a people pleaser and feels the need to perform for others. Sounds like a lot of his relationships are not geuine. (I.E. That is, besides you, his relationships may not be based on unconditional regard and respect for him).as I said, I’m not referring to you, I’m referring to how his family and friends might see him. So, there is a part of him that performs keeps up an image and meanwhile he is aware that the genuine him that has flaws. (Just like all of us). I could be totally off base on this but it sounds like there is some kind of dichotomy in his personality where he shows one face and then has a different internal face in terms of how he views himself. If this is true, then the affair is symbolic and he has a woman for those two parts of himself. (A mistress to allow him to be adored and pretend he is perfect and a wife by no fault of her own has seen him “warts and all.”) Also, if men have mistresses, the mistress is usually a huge ego stroke and she never gets to see the real him and she never sees the very real flaws. Obviously, a wife will have seen his flaws even if the wife is 100% supportive and accepts him. But, if he cannot except his flawed self, this is where the mistress comes in. Not only does she allow him to live in a fantasy world, she never sees The real him and this allows him to suppress his flaws because his flaws cause him deep shame. Affairs can cause deep shame too, but there are some men who only feel the shame when they are caught. When these types are caught, the wife gets to witness the deepest flaw of them all in him. Ouch. The wife then serves as a mirror and constant reminder of his flaw simply because she knows what happened. Also, when people are generally not raised with boundaries, they tend to have a poor self-image. Your husband might be one of these types, but I do not know the whole story and this is just my guess. Does anything in this ring true or am I way off base here?

            • Hopeful

              Yes so much of it totally fits and makes sense. It is an odd feeling almost like everything is coming into focus. I am not sure he wants to face it yet in all aspects. I think we have worked through the affair details and aftermath. we have moved past a lot of his negative behaviors. He has really transformed. But I am not sure he is ready to deal with the family and friends. He is getting better at setting boundaries and saying no. He maintains no one makes him do anything but others influence you directly and indirectly. He sees himself and his affairs as nothing to do with anyone but himself and his bad decisions. I appreciate he takes full blame, but I still think the dynamics with his family and friends affect that. Did he choose his friends because they are permissive, because they make him feel better about himself. The one friend who introduced him to both affair partners was someone he never told me he talked to or went out with or traveled with. This person is very low level and he knew I would question time spent with him. But did this person make him feel better about himself? I just know if I was out with my friends and someone begged for my friends cell number or to go off together or back to a hotel room or to give a ride alone as opposite sexes, I would never let my friend do that ever. And if that is what she was doing I would not spend time with her. Granted he tells me these relationships were sporadic but they happened for a long time and the one woman pushed for four years for his phone number. Like his friends did not notice? And they lie and cut corners in their lives, not affairs that we know of but still. I see connections in every direction but he sees it all in separate compartments.

              The good thing is he says and acts like I am his priority. It feels good and is working right now. But I tread lightly, am vigilant and protective of myself.

    • Sadinthesouth

      As a betrayed spouse, this article speaks to me. I definitely have PTSD from my husband’s betrayal. I have strong feelings of love/hate. It is helpful to gain this understanding for my healing. I was wondering if the affair partners also experience a type of trauma bond which makes it hard to let the affair itself go? My therapist has always said, that can’t be a healthy relationship. My husband came home after leaving for a year and a half. But he left for the ow again after nine months of sitting around, not really engaging in our relationship. He wasn’t really there. It was like self-sabotage, never really letting the AP go and never recommitting or seeking professional help. So here we are with the fog starting back up. I’m not sure what to do now. As much as I want to save our marriage, I see no hope because his bond to her is so strong. I see no hope for reconciliation as he has never really shown true remorse, insight, or ability to let the affair go. It’s so sad. He was once such a fine and loving man. Now he has been reduced to this sad, sick little person. He has normalized the affair so much that he cannot see how irrational he is. My only option is divorce at this point but it’s not what I want. But I guess we don’t always get what we want…

      • TheFirstWife

        Sorry to hear this is where you are after all this time and you gave him a second chance.

        My H didn’t leave me (technically) but did ask divorce. Didn’t tell me OW was in the picture (again) which was reason for divorce. He tried to say the old line “love you not in love with you”.

        I finally got my power back on DDay2 when I goindbout OW was in the picture. I told him to get out. Boy did his head spin.

        From that second on he knew I was no longer playing the game. We are still together but I am stronger and in control. I don’t boss him around but one wrong move and he is out for good.

        So maybe if you take a stand YOU will feel better about yourself. Not a doormat waiting for him. But a strong take charge woman.

        I know you don’t want to divorce and no one does. But it sounds like your H is a coward and won’t ask for it but will string you along.

        I felt my H was waiting for me to ask for a divorce so he can tell himself “she asked for this, not me” to absolve himself of any guilt. As time went on I told myself it didn’t matter who asked it was because of his cheating. So he is 100% responsible.

        I would hate to see you waste your time. It is hard to watch a once fun loving great guy deteriorate into a lying cheating piece of crap. But I would say to you if this were your friend or daughter’s situation, how long would you ask them to wait for the H to come home? Especially after the last chance where he did nothing towards focusing on the marriage.

        This is sad but I think you know what to do.

        Live well and happy is the best revenge!

        • Sadinthesouth

          Thank you for your response TheFirstWife. This is so hard and so sad. 🙁

      • Sarah P

        Hi SadieintheSouth,
        I love the name, Sadie, by the way. I am sure that people who are having affairs can experience a trauma bond. But, I am thinking the thing that really bonds affair partners together is the fact that they are symbolic to each other. The affair partner is like a blank slate onto which they cheaters needs can be projected. This the affair partner symbolizes all those unmet needs that the cheater has in life. The Mistress represents all those things that constitute the perfect woman or person who can fill some kind of inner void in the cheater because he does not know her and so he is able to project all of those attributes on to her. Affairs are the ultimate escape from reality. I believe that the bond between shooter and mistress has a lot to do with the false belief that she is a soulmate or someone who is able to meet unmet and unspoken needs. If a man is so delusional that he is convinced of this, the mistress will be like a lifeline that prevents him from falling into the void within himself. The only thing that the mistress has on the wife is that he doesn’t live with her in real life and so he can project a very powerful fantasy on to her. If he were to ever marry the mistress and be with her long enough for the issues of real life to set in, he would have a very rude awakening that she was a lot like a beautiful box that contained sand on the inside. (Totally worthless even though the wrapping might indicate otherwise).

        I really like what The First Wife has to say as well about your situation.

        • Sarah P

          Erggg. Sorry for the typos. I was dictating that one on my phone and it literally changed the right words to the wrong words after I dictated them and was on to another part of the comment. shooter = cheater. I don’t believe in violence. Living well is the best revenge.

          • Sadinthesouth

            It’s okay. I knew what you meant. It happens to me all the time!!! 🙂 Thanks for your help.

      • TheFirstWife

        I also want to add you can change your situation w/out divorce by creating your own life.

        Don’t wait for him. Start to move on. You will find that once you start taking steps to heal yourself and move past this (even small baby steps) you will start to feel better. And things will change and you will see things fall into place.

        You will start to make decisions. You will make good ones. And you will start to emerge from this nightmare.

        My one regret is that I spent far too much time focused on him and marriage after DDay 1 instead of focusing on me. Trying to bend over backwards (like you) to fix it all.

        Lesson learned – it was his midlife crisis. His unhappiness and frustrations in life. Nothing I could fix.

        So as I started to try and heal myself I did. Especially after Dday2. I looked to him for answers and truth and spent 2 frustrating years waiting for it. Once I finally realized I would not get the full truth and he is never going to voluntarily bring up anything relating to the affair I finally found peace.

        I say this to you b/c it is possible to find peace and happiness despite a terrible situation.

        Join a group such as a book club. Volunteer. Go to church. (I actually started my own business). It makes me happy.

        I teach Sunday School & it makes me happy.

        I read books. It makes me happy.

        If you do things for yourself these small things can really have an impact.

        Live well to me means I am living a happy life. I don’t stress or worry about my marriage. He does. He admits that. But he created this issue not me.

        Example: last night I read a book. My H vacuumed the house, my son did laundry and other son cleaned his room. Teenagers doing their chores while I read a book. Total success and happiness!

        • Sadinthesouth

          I like what you have to say here TheFirstWife. But it’s hard. It’s definitely something I can do and not completely disrupt my life right away. Maybe I need to take a month with no contact with him to think about what I want. That will get me off the rollercoaster and maybe I’ll see things more clearly.

          • TheFirstWife

            I like that plan. You may find some peace not having to interact with him for 30 days. You may actually enjoy it. You won’t know until you try.

            i agree with your brother and his assessment of your H’s future w/ the OW. He will start cheating on her soon enough. He may come back to you and YOU may decide you don’t want him.

            Anything is possible. That is what I am trying to tell you.

            Your life can be happy with him or without him. But you need to make it happen. Don’t wait for him to make it happen. My H does not make my life anymore. I do. I made it happen.

            I was the ultimate sucker with 2 affairs and 3 DDays behind me. He can disappoint me or anger me. But I can walk out the door and find happiness on my own.

            I wasted years trying to help him, talk to him, love him, pledge my undying love and we can get past this. End result? He cheated again with same OW.

            If you saw me and met me you would think I have the perfect life. I do now because I made some changes. And he is no longer my top priority. We are married and happy.

            But I come first. And I think if you can evolve to where I am you will see what I mean. Divorced or not, alone or with him, reconciled and moving forward or living with the status quo you can find happiness.

            Once you get there HE will no longer matter as much. He will not be your focus.

            I would rather live alone and never date again or have a male -female relationship. Because my life is that full. Nothing fancy. No big parties or nightlife. Not rich. But fulfilled and happy.

            • Sadinthesouth

              Thank you so very much. That is by far the best advice I have gotten. I can get a handle on that. So, do you think I should tell him what I’m thinking and that I need 30 days of no contact to think about things?

            • TheFirstWife

              My suggestion is not to tell him. Just do it.

              There is no advantage in telling him.

              Let him see the changes and how you are moving along WITHOUT HIM!!!!!

              I suspect that he is ok now b/c you are waiting for him and he knows it. BIG ego boost two women want him. Makes him feel good.

              Watch what happens when you no longer play his game.

              My background is I was a nice girl but I did not sleep around. Dated guys that would dump me after 3 months or 1 year or 2 years for the next hot thing. Anyway once they broke up with me we were over. No second chance. I can’t tell you how many came back looking for a second chance. Once I no longer wanted them they were interested b/c I was now a challenge.

              Some of them tried to reignite for months. Did not happen.

              My point is once you are a challenge the guys suddenly change their focus. And you may be surprised.

              It worked for me. When I no longer focused on him 100% things started to turn around.

              Trust me on this. Do not inform him of anything. See if he notices. If he does he may start to get nervous and see what happens. If you tell him he won’t listen. If he sees it or feels a shift and HE decides he doesn’t like the way things are changing you have a better chance of getting what you want.

              Remember the old saying you always want what you can’t have ?

              Also I find that when people things are their own idea they buy into it.

              Starting tomorrow I want you to tell me one thing you did for yourself to bring joy into your life and one thing you did diffetently in your relationship with him. It may be you did not call him. ?

            • TheFirstWife

              I should clarify the phrase “you always want what you can’t have”. This pertains to the CH in this case. He is playing Wife vs OW. Because they are both available.

              Sometimes when the wife backs away the CH doesn’t like it. He realizes he is losing control of the dynamics. He is no longer in control.

              And then he may start to see the OW differently and may start to make some changes or decisions.

              He may decide he really wants to stay married. But if this is HIS idea there is a better chance of success.

              Doesn’t mean the wife still wants him back. But at least she is not waiting around for him to decide. Not stuck in a holding pattern.

              She is moving forward with her life. That is a key to getting healthy and past this. The BS is getting on with life in a healthy & happy way.

              Whether the CS remains married or not. Life goes on. Start making the life you deserve – and get the happiness you deserve.

              I re-read my last post and realized it could be taken negatively by the BS as if to say you only want your CH/CS b/c you can’t have him.

              It was meant to say that can be the catalyst to get the CS to open his eyes to what they are missing that is right there in front of them!

          • TheFirstWife

            So how are things going? Still no contact with your H?

            Hope you had a more peaceful week.

            • Sadinthesouth

              Hi TheFirstWife, thanks for asking. Not much contact on my part. I replied briefly to that one email to say thanks for telling me. He sent one that said counseling was good, and other random emails to which I don’t reply. So it’s not totally no contact but just enough to let him know I’m alive.

              I went, to see my counselor and she helped. She’s funny. When I told her about the things he was saying, she had a look of shock on her face and said that he sounds schizophrenic! LOL! I’m thinking, yes he does. She said try not to take anything he says or does, or doesn’t say or do, personally. I have to keep myself calm. In her opinion, his contacts are simply that, making contact. Someone told me I am his lighthouse and he needs to see me to find his way back home. But I see now how I had expectations when there was no reason to have them, which only hurt me. He was simply making contact. It’s good to finally have that understanding. Working and exercising my butt off has helped. I’m working in the garden and planting my favorite things. I have stayed busy to exhaustion. That is helping my mental state and getting me back on even ground. It’s hard not to take it personally, but when I realize what a mess his brain actually is, I can finally realize it’s really not me! It still hurts, but there is no reason for me to be a mess too. This is his train wreck that he created. Not me. So, I’m focusing on me, and that is good. I’m glad to have found support here from you. 🙂 Thank you.

            • TheFirstWife

              Glad things are heading in a better direction for you. I think once you can take a breath and have that reality check you can see things more clearly.

              I am glad you are on the road to recovery. First step is getting off the crazy train. You have done that a bit by disengaging. ?

              Second is you now realize it is all on him. His doing, his issues, his bad choices, his affsir and his MLC and unhappiness. It amazes me how we, the innocent spouse, is blamed. But they all do it. Some worse than others. It is called justification!

              Your therapist sounds like a good person. Glad you have someone that can help you. I was lucky in that I had a great therapist who saved my sanity.

              It is hard to watch someone you love unravel in front of your eyes. You just don’t know what to do or how to help. I am sure in my past I thought I was helping but I probably was making it worse.

              Glad you have some power back. That is a great feeling.

              BTW my H would always call me or look for me to fulfill his needs. Even when the OW was around he would always have to sleep touching me or call me to ask me a question. It’s like an 18 year old – they want to leave and move out but at the same time they are afraid.

              that is how I view the affair. Often they don’t know what they want so they play both sides of the fence. It is spouse vs AP.

              Glad things are doing better. And I hope your road continues to be filled with better days each day. You deserve it.

            • Sadinthesouth

              Thank you so much for your help. I think I am getting it. I knew he shouldn’t have come home last year. I knew he wasn’t sincere. But I didn’t know how to say no. Now, not so much of a problem saying no. If only I knew then what I know now…

              Anyway, today was a good day. I was off work and stayed busy all day, walking, swimming, cooking with a friend, and a neighborhood block party. I did cry at one point when I sat still long enough to think about things. I cried when I thought about things. But I let it happen and moved on. Now, it’s there in the background, like some heaviness in my upper back, literally physical pain. But that too will pass.

              It’s sad what he did to us. All self-inflicted and so unnecessary. I can’t imagine being inside his head. Must be a mess in there. I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’ know if he’ll ever be able to straighten that mess out. It’s not in my control. I have to let him go and focus on me and my life wherever it leads me. 🙂

            • TheFirstWife

              Yes it is sad that they can act so self-centered and destroy things. I sometimes wonder how my H manages it all. The guilt and narcissistic behavior etc.

              I think the turning point is when the BS realizes the affair had nothing to do with you. The CS made a choice to lie and cheat.

              My H’s affair was with someone who worked for him. He is lucky she did not sue him for sexual harassment or anything like that.

              He also sent her photos of our children. For what reason I don’t know. But she was preparing to take my place immediately. She had plans on being the step mom.

              And my H convinced her that all his friends would love her b/c he loved her. When I asked him about that email he tried to lie his way out of it by saying that I misread it and it did not mean what I thought. So even after I forgave him he still lied to me.

              I think my issue is not so much the affair but his continued lying after it all came out.

              I love that Meaghan Trainor song If You’re Lips are Movin’. Sums up cheaters to a tee. Haha

              Glad to hear you are moving forward. It is painful at times and hard to face. I used to wonder why doesn’t he love me anymore?

              And I came to the conclusion that it is hard to love others if you don’t love yourself first. And a cheater (in my mind) may appear to love themselves but it is all a facade. That is why they have multiple affairs or drink etc.

              It is their way of looking for happiness to full or avoid the pain. Cowardly behavior if you ask me.

              And yes I did tell my H he was a coward. For cheating, for avoiding therapy (even now he doesn’t go), for lying continually after the affair. And I think you have to lose some respect as well.

              Enjoy the weekend!

            • Sadinthesouth

              Thanks. Yes, cowardly is the word one friend has used from day one of this nightmare, and he is in so many ways. But most importantly, he’s a coward for not facing himself. Seeing what he has become has made me lose more respect for him than anything. All I had hoped for was some vulnerability, maybe a little humility. But nope, that’s too weak for him I guess. Blaming everyone but himself and becoming the “victim” in all of this is sickening to realize. It’s pathetic. So sad.

              I don’t see a way back for him right now. I am sort of glad he is gone now. I feel free. I’m sure I’ll cycle back through it all again. But at this moment, I’m free! I will choose joy today!

            • Sadinthesouth

              Hi,
              I realized with my therapist this week that my H is very passive aggressive. Is this typical of MLC behavior? I think he’s had this trait to a point for years, but it became worse with increasing work stress and horrible once the affair started. It definitely describes his behavior the past nine months.
              Thanks!

            • TheFirstWife

              Typical behavior and used as a way to get exactly what they want.

              I would not want to be him when the walls come tumbling down around him (if he ever gets to that point).

              I sometimes think this is all part of the cheater’s behavior so they can absolve themselves of guilt and accountability.

              Good for you for recognizing it. Once you see it, you can deal with him with a better perspective.

            • Sadinthesouth

              Yeah, I totally think that’s what the last 9 months were about. Just checking the block by being here physically, but not mentally or emotionally. I thought that from day one of his return. I suspected he came back so he could claim he “tried” but in reality he didn’t do a darn thing except avoid and avoid some more, and sabotage any healing or reconciliation to God or the marriage by covertly continuing the sick affair. So how do I deal with such behavior? Anything I do is wrong, no matter what. Contact is too much. No contact is not enough. It’s crazy. He’s crazy. BTW, I got sick this weekend, so I’m really down. I appreciate your response because I feel so alone today.

            • TheFirstWife

              My H did the same thing. I was a yo-yo. Liked me for 2-3 days and it was ok, then he would be all mean & nasty. Ask a question – either get a snarky response or ignored the question.

              So yes his behavior is typical. Ego driven, selfish and completely self absorbed.

              And nothing you do is right. If you try to engage you are being needy. If you don’t engage you are cold. Everything is used against you. This is his way of justifying his behavior. It is all made up crap. The cheater wants everyone to believe his spouse is so awful as that is his reason for cheating.

              It could be that his MLC had him so screwed up he is acting crazy. He leaves you, comes back, etc. He tells you he is not happy where he is but yet is still with the OW.

              It is all so contradictory and confusing. It is like dealing with a certifiably insane person you don’t even know. He is no longer the person you loved and married. How sad that a MLC can change someone that much, but it does.

              Sorry you are not feeling well. Stay in bed and drink lots of tea. hope you feel better soon.

            • Sadinthesouth

              Thank you.

            • Sadinthesouth

              I used to see hope, but not today. Maybe I just don’t want to accept the fact that he has found a new and better life. Maybe they are the small percentage that will work out. She must be something special. So very sad he never gave us a chance. And I thought we had a good marriage. Not perfect, but good. Silly me…How did I choose so poorly in marriage? I feel like such an idiot. Now I am suffering for it and he’s living the high life.

            • TheFirstWife

              You are looking at things all wrong. It MAY appear he has a better life, that he has moved on, that the OW is better than you, etc.

              I used to compare myself to OW. Here are the facts:

              She was 29 yo and I am 53. She had tattoos all over her body, neck, arms, etc. I have no tattoos. She had a huge chest and huge hips I am thin and good shape. I am a mom and married. She was a wannabe mom and looking to jump right into my shoes.

              I watched my H totally screw up his life. He couldn’t answer a question or make a decision. I had to remain calm, level headed, hide all this crap from my children AND hope he didn’t dump me leaving me with no $ etc.

              My H is now in debt with his credit cards in part to his affair. He had to get rid if his car b/c she was in it and I refused to have it in our house.

              He has ruined our anniversary, July 4th, his birthday, my favorite movie, certain songs, Thanksgiving, and whatever else.

              Trust me it MAY appear he is happier but if you spend your life running from your demons, how happy can be be? He wants to appear like he has moved on to a better life but the facade shows cracks.

              He claims he is unhappy where he is. Could be true.

              He is back and forth between you & her. Gee that sounds like a picnic living with someone so indecisive.

              Also you don’t know how he is with OW. He may be a real jerk to her too. Isn’t she lucky to put up with that prize? A real gem.

              My H led me to think she was better and he was happier with her. When I told him a few times it was OK by me to go and be with her, he would not leave.

              So I would never believe my H could treat me like dirt and ever believe he would move on AND be happier. No way. His demons would always be there to haunt him.

              He may appear to be happier and it may be true. But that is the lie he will have to continue to tell himself. And eventually the cracks would show.

              I have seen MLC affairs ruin entire families. Most go on to 2 and 3 marriages &/or multiple affairs. Once the OW starts to see the real him, it crumbles as the relationship is built on lies. It is not real or sustainable. And the pattern is likely to repeat itself.

              Just remember the cheater has a hard time admitting the mistake. He will run from it the rest of his life. And often it continues unless the issues are met and dealt with.

              Sorry I find that a less than appealing life. Spending your life avoiding your demons – count me out.

              I hope this gives you my perspective. My H now tells me all the time he worries about our marriage and the damage he caused. Not how I want to spend my life.

            • Sadinthesouth

              Okay, thank you. I hear what you are saying. And it makes sense. It just hurts like hell. I just want this nightmare to end.

            • Strengthrequired

              Tfw said “He also sent her photos of our children. For what reason I don’t know. But she was preparing to take my place immediately. She had plans on being the step mom.”

              You already answered your question as to why the ow wanted photos of your kids, and why your ch sent them to her. She wanted to take over from your life, ch, kids and all. She wanted everything that did not belong to her. Just like my ch ow. She actually told my ch that she would be happy to raise his children with him. She wanted my life, right or wrong, she wanted my life.

            • TheFirstWife

              I think I remember you relating that in a prior post. These are desperate women.

              Like I would let my kids within 10 miles of her.

              That is where both the CS and AP are completely delusional. Completely delusional. I would not stop my H from seeing his kids if we divorced but that doesn’t mean the OW gets to have an active role in their lives.

              It is all so sad and screwed up.

            • Sadinthesouth

              Wow! That’s messed up! They can’t be right in the head either. It’s insane on both their parts. I have always suspected his ow was jealous of me because her first H abused her. So either she thinks everyone deserves to be as miserable as her or she was jealous and wanted my life.

            • TheFirstWife

              So the OW was abused and is now divorced. And dating or living with a married man.

              I cannot imagine this relationship has any chance of lasting.

              She is missing a few chips. And I can possibly believe your H when he says he is not happy.

              When your cold has passed you should be celebrating. For so many reasons your Life is better than his.

              She will be desperate to hang on to him because she would rather be with a married man than be alone. What does that say about her?

              You are better than all of that. My H’s affsir was similar this girl had issues and prior bad relationships and my H felt sorry for her and was going to save her and make her life better.

              He was loved and adored by her. She looked to him as her savior and protector. She believed all the crap he told her. So my H was lying to her and me at the same time. He told her he was leaving me to be with her and was lying to me that he loved and she was gone.

              So you can see how a MLC can up-end everything. We are lucky we survived but in no way am I the same person he married.

              And I am not naive or trusting either. And i have made sure I am financially protected.

            • Sadinthesouth

              I truly appreciate you taking the time to respond to me. I feel better. Well, my cold feels worse because somehow that’s what happens in the evenings with colds. But emotionally, I feel better. This MLC is truly remarkably insane. It’s a wonder any of them come out of this with any resemblance to their old selves. The dark side truly does take over, doesn’t it? It’s helpful to hear possible explanations for their behavior.

            • Sadinthesouth

              Yes, the ow is definitely a nut job. And Lord I never thought about her being desperate until you said that about how she’d rather be with a married man than alone. If she’s so great why aren’t the single men snatching her up? Maybe because she’s butt ugly, has a strange mousy voice, and is the biggest flake on earth. But she is very manipulative, vindictive and jealous. I think she is good at emotional blackmail. For such a supposedly independent woman, she seems to require a great deal of my H’s help. It’s all backwards. And yet he says I’m the one who is too dependent, but I never ask him for anything! I do everything around here! It’s Bass ackwards, as my family would say. Wow! That makes me feel better already. Still hurts he thinks the world of this messed up person. He hangs on her every word but has no clue to the web she weaves in his mind to control him. What an idiot. Maybe he’ll wake up one day as our friend said he eventually would and wonder how the heck he got there. But by then, I’m afraid I’ll be long gone. I know that is the typical story. I don’t want that ending. But I am beginning to make plans to move forward alone. It’s time. I am sure I’ll cycle through the pain a few more times and start analyzing his crazy making behavior. But I really do have to learn to focus on what God wants for me. I thought it was my marriage, but now I am not so sure.

            • TheFirstWife

              Hi SadintheSouth, hope you are feeling better today.

              I know there was a prior woman who posted about her H’s OW. She manipulated the H into believing the wife & kids did not love or need the H. All the wife was trying to do was give the H some time & space. They were still living together but it was rough.

              So the OW are manipulative. My H’s OW was a drama queen. She did not want to be the OW but they were soul mates and had a connection. So I mentioned I called her. We spoke a number of times. She apologized to me. When I thought she was suicidal I CALLED HER to check up. My H wanted no part of her.

              She then contacted him 1 month later to try to start up for a third time. My H did not respond to her email but I did. I politely asked her to stop and leave us alone. Move on.

              Her revenge against me was horrific. She put all kinds of crap on her social media. While they were together she had all kinds of stuff on her social media about dates with my H (I was unaware). She even published a children’s book that included my H and the affair. Soooo I aleays wonder if these “women” are sooo wonderful why do they latch on to married men?

              The answer is b/c they are losers and desperate. Our H don’t live them as much as they feel needed by these poor pathetic creatures. They are going to rescue them.

              It is funny b/c over the weekend we were with friends and I sat there and realized how much fun we were having. And how my H actually believed this entire group of people would accept his very young GF covered in tattoos with major issues. I laugh every time b/c I know a few of them would never accept her and would not socialize with her.

              That is how delusional my H was. He admits now his flawed thinking.

              Regarding your path, I think you are doing the right thing for you. As I said my H realized at the last possible second what he was doing.

              And we are together because of me. I carried him along the recovery path. I put up with the continued lies. We fought for 6 months over whether he loved her. He says he didn’t but I saw it in writing. Black & white. I don’t know which is worse – loving her or almost leaving me do someone he did not love.

              Anyway no one wants a marriage to end and it sounds like you had a good one. I go to church weekly and am very involved in the church. I used to go and pray so hard for God to help me/us and help him see what he is doing. God finally answered my prayers.

              Our pastor did a sermon on redemption the day my H was supposed to leave (at my request). It helped him see the light. Finally.

              Maybe your H will finally come to his senses.

              And I try to be a good person but what irks me is that the OW was cheated on by her prior boyfriends. She knows the pain it causes yet she had no problem almost destroying a marriage and family. I sometimes hope it happens to her again. I know that is mean but I just can’t help it sometimes.

            • TheFirstWife

              There was a post on this blog sometime ago. But the genesis was that most often the CS is not going with someone better – looks, education, financial status, etc.

              The CS is going after a thrill – not a real relationship. It is all drama and mirrors and fake.

              There was a very funny woman who posted on this blog. Her H would not give up the OW. She was his soulmate. That is what he continually told her. So she finally and sadly divorced him. He now tells her the complete opposite – she was not his soulmate. They are divorced and he still doesn’t have his crap together. One lie after another. He ruined his marriage and tells everyone it was the wife’s fault.

              That is what a MLC can do. It is like a drug or form of insanity. As I daid it is hard to watch someone you love unravel in front of you.

              It is a helpless and hopeless feeling.

              Too bad the CS cannot see it for what it is. And I would not want to be the CS when reckoning day comes around. I don’t know how my H can live with that guilt. I sure as hell could not.

            • Sadinthesouth

              Hi TheFirstWife, I am feeling slightly better, but still not great. Wow these ows really are insane. It’s truly amazing how blinded the MLC’ers are. It’s like they are in some kind of trance. One friend said it was like he was on drugs or something. I have to agree. It’s not rational behavior on either of their parts.

              I pray and pray and pray some more. I’m trying my best to let go and give it to God. But I have to do it often and several times a day sometimes to force myself to not think about him or what he is or isn’t doing. I know it’s out of my control and worrying won’t help the situation or me. I pray he wake up. But I fear he will never.

            • Sadinthesouth

              It’s truly incredible. It is so hard to sit and watch and be so completely helpless. Like we can see it for what it is. It’s totally been written about over and over and over. It’s textbook. But they truly believe they are different I guess. It must be so euphoric. I can’t imagine it, but I guess those feelings are so incredibly strong they actually believe it’s real. I just cannot imagine being so depressed that I lose all my faculties to get a thrill. I guess it doesn’t matter what their IQ was previous to the insanity, but it sure looks about 50 once they’re in. And then you’re right. How would one face themselves upon such a rude awakening? Must be an embarrassment beyond all embarrassments. Those that can humble themselves and ask for forgiveness may be able to grow up a little after it. And those that still choose to look outward, will stuff that feeling and do it all over again because they didn’t learn the first time. Those are the ones who will continue running. Which one will my husband be…it remains to be seen.

            • TheFirstWife

              The waiting part was agonizing for me. I then decided I had to put myself out of my misery. When I decided not to wait was the same time he decided to drop OW and move forward with me.

              It is hard to know if/when your H will change.

              I think for now you are proceeding cautiously but putting yourself first. That is the best you can do for now. Don’t let him drag you down BUT don’t sit around waiting for him either.

              Get your life put back together first. It will benefit you in the end. And if he chooses to come along even better. If not you are not sinking deeper.

              And if he never gets it, and continues his current trend or pattern, you will be able to be objective and not get dragged through the mud again and again.

              Baby steps are the very beginning. I know. I have been there.

            • Sadinthesouth

              Excellent advice TheFirstWife!

    • Nancy

      Trauma Bonding – a very interesting concept. I feel my husband has not told me the 100% truth about his cheating in the past even though I have asked him to do so. I honestly do not suspect him of cheating currently. So, I feel he is still a liar, trying to deceive me and a coward by omission. We did actually go to counseling (Individually and together). Financially our lives would be different if we divorced and at this time I have some pending serious health concerns. He says he loves me and always did love me. He wants to show me, his daughters (they have been told) and himself that he can be the husband that I always deserved and the man he should have been. I have told him that I do love him but not as I did before because of the obvious. We have been together since we were teenagers and married for 40 years. Now, I wonder if we are both just bonded together at this time due to trauma, fear of actually being apart or true love/affection. Or are we … mainly me just kidding ourselves / myself?

      • TheFirstWife

        Dear Nancy

        I think you are bonded by all of the above. Your years together, his trying to make amends and his remorse and regret for his choices, his love for your family, and his fear or anxiety for not wanting to be apart from you plus his realization of his love for you.

        I have the same feelings as I did not get 100% truth even though I asked. He is a liar by omission, same as yours. I love my H very much but after finding out that our 33 years together we’re not what I thought or he is not what I thought, well that is a tough nut to swallow.

        I agree that there are days I wonder why am I still here but they only surface occassionally and not every 5 minutes like they used to.

        I just hate knowing my husband was like all the other guys out there and capable of being a liar and cheater. That is the part I hate most.

        I hope your health improves so you start to feel better about all of it. Saying a prayer for you.

      • Sarah P

        Hi Nancy,
        TFW has great advice.

        Also, men generally do not disclose every single detail and this is done in order to protect you. Sure, they also want to cover their behinds. But, they also know that some details would inflict such harm on you that it could never be taken back. I do kind of agree with sparing some unnecessary details if your husband wants to work it out with you. No necessary details such as risk for STDs, pregnancy, should be spared. I think what your husband feels for you is genuine and it sounds like he wants to work things out. I hope that he supports you emotionally and spiritually since you have health concerns. It’s time for him to step up to the plate and it sounds like he wants to do it. Many blessings to you.

        • TheFirstWife

          I think most cheaters do not reveal all the facts and details. Man or woman. Doesn’t matter.

          I think it is on the to do list in the Cheater’s Manual.

          It appears they all do it (even my H). I know there are many things he is leaving out. You just have to move on in life. Or else you get trapped in the black hole. And that is not good.

    • Surviving

      My husband has left me and our family after 5 years of gaslighting. We had a few ddays, same woman. So I understand the trauma bond. I couldn’t understand why I kept trying or was always seeing the best in him, or believing him, and even now, I have hope he will get help and come home. I am setting firm boundaries, finally, but feel confused. I do at one level see what is happening, but it seems so hard to accept. One day at a time. I’m strong.

      • TheFirstWife

        I hope things get better for you.

        Many of us here have had multiple DDays. It is not uncommon.

        Glad to see you are getting off the roller coaster ride – 5 years is a long time to give someone chances. Sorry he doesn’t see what he is giving up.

    • Surviving

      Thanks FirstWife – I don’t think he does see it. He is angry and defensive and blaming our marriage for everything. He has rewritten our story, like so many others have done in affairs. I have hope that he will see the light, and won’t let go of hope. But I will continue.on my path…..it helps to read here and know I am not alone!

      • Sadinthesouth

        My husband sounds just like yours rewriting history and being so angry and defensive. It is sad we are here, but I’m glad I am not alone.

      • TheFirstWife

        I experienced the same thing during my H’s affair. I was to blame for his MLC and unhappiness and affair.

        My H actually told me during his craziness and affair I never loved him (after being together about 30 years including dating 5 years) AND the only reason I married him was to spite my parents.

        So hurtful. Hard to hear.

        And yes I watched him become someone I did not recognize. He told me at one point he would let me know his decision to stay married (or not) at the end of the summer (2 months away).

        Total irrational behavior.

        I have seen MLC make people become unglued.

        I swear it is all common behavior and it must be in the Cheater’s Manual on how to screw up your life and everyone around you.

        Maddening to say the least.

        My H saw the light and now regrets all of it. But he saw it almost too late. My H was acting so crazy that I thought he was either having a mental breakdown or on drugs (and he has never used drugs). In one week he asked for divorce 2x and then begged me for a second chance.

        I had to get off the crazy train. And so the worst night of my life after 2nd round of divorce discussions I had enough. I picked up the phone and called the OW. In my calmest manner I asked her to tell me what was going on if she knew anything.

        And she said they had been seeing each other up until that day and it had been going on for months.

        That explained everything. Typical MLC.

        You can get past this. You can resolve it. But I wish we all did not have to watch these “men” who were once great guys and fathers and friends destroy their life and take everyone around them down the drain with them.

      • Sarah P

        Hi Surviving,
        I am sorry to hear about everything you are going through. But what you describe is typical. He is re-writing your story because this is how cheaters both fool themselves and assuage their conscience. They make something outside of themselves the bad guy so that they can feel like a victim. (I know, crazy!!) The best thing you can do is re write your story and it goes something like this:
        One day a beautiful princess married who she believed was Prince Charming. What she got instead was a gaslighting, selfish and lying prince. He did some horrendous things with a scullery maid and decided that he needed to be with the lowly scullery maid (for now). The princess took immediate action and started making new friends through volunteering, she started a yoga class, and went to talk to the village wise, old woman to sort through her emotions. Tinker bell stepped in and sprinkled just a little fairy dust. The Princess felt empowered and renewed and realized that she got herself back. (Her true self had been suppressed by experiencing years of gaslighting and lying). Now the Princess felt strong and realized that the prince’s terrible actions had no power over her. She felt alive and strong again. Much later the prince was not so sure that the scullery made was the right choice. (Duh!) He came back to the princess to try to engage her in his little game. But the princess had changed and she realized that she deserved a loyal prince who was 100% focused on her. Now it was up to the prince to prove himself worthy or else go back to the smelly scullery maid.
        The End

        This can be every wife’s story if she wants it to be. But a wife needs to love herself so much that she becomes this person. No one can live life based on the validation or love of others. All of us have to love ourselves and fill that void so that when humans fail us (and they will) we love ourselves enough to get through.

        • TheFirstWife

          Exactly! Could not have said it better!

          If the CS can lie and believe the lies they spew forth, then the BS is forced to make a choice. Either live with the CS under his terms or version of the marriage or get your power back and move past the lies and crap that the CS conjured up.

          It is like stopping the two year old’s temper tantrum. If you give in to the behavior it will continue b/c the 2 yo gets what they want. So you have created a lifetime of being manipulated by a child.

          Or you can stop the temper tantrum and get the 2 yo to understand that behavior won’t work. And how to behave properly.

          What I wish is that these overgrown “men” with their MLC situations would go to therapy and get help before cheating, drinking excessively, using drugs, etc becomes the first choice. These affairs are ways of self-medicating and masking their pain and unhappiness.

          How sad that the norm is for the BS to do most of the work healing and repairing the marriage.

          • Sadinthesouth

            Well said!!!!

        • Sadinthesouth

          Yes!

        • Surviving

          Thank you Sarah P!! You are so wise. I love this story. I am going to pin it up as a reminder for me to forge ahead writing a new story for myself, and one where I make choices by me and for me! Thank you!

          • Sarah P

            Hi Surviving,
            I am glad that you like the story and printing it as a reminder is a great idea. Never forget who you are and all you have to give. I used to never understand why the phrase “don’t cast pearls before swine” is to important. But when it comes to infidelity it really is the perfect phrase. A good wife is a pearl of great price but if she is married to a guy who is in his swine phase. The swine will never understand or recognize the pearl as something valuable. He will end up dragging the pearls into the mud and bringing them down.

            That goes for everyone here. Ladies, never forget your infinite worth.

            • Sadinthesouth

              Wow, I love that!

    • Surviving

      Your situation sounds very similar to mine. My husband has been here for most of that time, but distant and disengaged. I need this time to find myself again and figure out why I have been okay with such poor treatment. I hope we both find peace.

    • Surviving

      Wow. That is crazy making. I have heard the same talk. I am happy that your husband saw the light and that it wasn’t too late. I do hope he’s working hard – for this gift you have given to him.
      After 5 years, same woman, and moving out, I am not sure that mine will. I am now tired, and fed up. I still have hope, but can’t see how he can find his way back through all the muck he has created. It’s just sad.

    • Sarah P

      I had a brain freeze for a second and I blanked on what MLC meant. I remembered later that it stands for mid life crisis, but before that I came up with these:

      Manipulating, lying coward

      Married lowly cheater

      Mysogynistic little cad

      And for the other woman:

      Manipulative Loose co-cheater

      Malignant low-life creature

      Does anyone else have alternative meanings for the acronym MLC?

      • Sadinthesouth

        Those are pretty much on point. I’m gonna have to think about that!

    • Hopeful

      I find that what my husband did is his boundaries shifted so much that he did create a new normal. I think it happened gradually over time but also I think it was what he had to do to get by. As he explains it the initial excitement wore off almost immediately. He had to detach and disconnect from me and our kids in order to make himself feel less guilt and shame. He said once he slipped one time it just got worse and worse. He felt like it was hopeless and he had done irreparable damage.

      I still hate what he did but I can see where he has to push us away and if I was this great wife then he was even a worse person than he thought. I struggled after dday for a long time that I have not changed at all really since we met 25+ years ago. Of course some over time but at the core I am the same person. So did he change or what happened. He said he was not very confident and lost his way. For me it makes no sense. I am not wired that way. I had a lot of resentment since for 10 years he turned it all on me and made me feel unsure about myself and like anything was my fault. He was very good at gaslighting. But one of the best things that came out of this after dday was I felt better about myself immediately. All of a sudden when I would question myself and look back everything was clear. It was him not me. And he has said I did nothing wrong that led to this and I do not need to change. I have worked on being more assertive which is hard. I am a very independent and always have been. Also we have been communicating so much better. I try not to make it emotional and he is no longer defensive. It has taken so much work on both of our parts.

      I do think it helped a lot for me to focus on myself and my happiness. It is so true we cannot change or control another person. Granted I think expectations and boundaries are healthy and safe. But once I let go of that and he saw me feeling better and more confident about myself he was able to move forward with dealing with himself. It is a hard thing for both the betrayed and the cheater to deal with. There are so many layers. One of the most effective things for me was going to a therapist alone. It helped me realize my expectations and behaviors are the norm.

    • Sadinthesouth

      Wow, it’s awesome he was finally able to be insightful about everything. I think it sounds just like us and our marriage, and likely his affair situation too. I hope that one day my H can be more insightful into his behavior and motivations. He completely lost his way and latched on to this wretched woman who further led him to believe all sorts of erroneous things about me and her. So bizarre. I pray that all becomes clear to him one day. I pray he can learn and grow from it too. It’s in God’s hands.

      • TheFirstWife

        Have you watched the movie Gone Girl?

        It is one of my favorites b/c it sums up so much. She has a line that goes like this – take one recession, the loss of two jobs etc etc.

        I don’t want to give it away BUT it sums up my H’s MLC and all the things that propelled him to make that choice. He hated his job, we had teenagers who can be challenging, he was making way less $ (not that I cared but he did), he felt disconnected from me (his doing not mine) AND to add to the fun he as turning 50.

        There it is in a nutshell. All the reasons that contributed to him making the wrong choice by not talking about it, not facing it, not doing something different like looking for a new job BUT have an affair. Like that solves anything.

        Honestly grown men act more stupid than children sometimes. They have fragile egos and are not able to handle half of what we handle as women, moms, caretakers, etc.

        That movie has given me some very good insight into men, marriage, etc. I won’t say anymore in case you have not seen it. But if you have maybe watch it again and you may pick up on things.

        • Sadinthesouth

          I have watched it but I’ll have to watch it again to see the connections you made. Interesting. That is a lot of stress for sure. I think with my H it was also unmanaged stress and poor skills to cope that led to his vulnerability, amongst some personality traits and lacking insight and boundaries. It’s complicated but it was the perfect storm. And not being able to manage emotions and be humble enough to step back and say, gee, maybe I need seek help, and instead said gee, this looks life fun. He probably never imagined where such an act would lead. I don’t know how they sleep at night. I can’t compartmentalize my life that way. It’s all connected all the time. I couldn’t live with myself. I was hit on a few times last year during separation, and I couldn’t bring myself to go there. Some folks encouraged me, but I just couldn’t. No way.

          • TheFirstWife

            Hope you are feeling better and had a better week. ?

    • Emily

      My H cheated 6 years ago. We had two children under 4 at the time. I was devastated – he did as was said here – rewrote our story casting me as a villain thereby excusing his actions somewhat blah blah blah. The OW was his soulmate, she was leaving her husband – the whole nine.

      Now here we are 6 years later. I am remarried to a fantastic man who I truly believe is my soulmate. My children are happy and healthy and with me most of the time. My ex H is still “dating” the OW who also broke up her life and family to be with him. They have zero commitment between them and he still acts like a fool and is still a cheater. Not sure why she still stays but I believe it’s because it must be hard to realize you risked so much for so little. I went from hatred for her to empathy for her as we were both bamboozled by the same man. Luckily, I was able to get away and have a better life.
      The reason I say this here is because there is lots of anger towards the OW and although their choices are seriously bad… people lose sight and get caught up and make mistakes.
      To all of you guys going through this right now just know that it’s bad for everyone involved. Ultimately it’s your spouse who made vows to you and had children with you and there should be no temptation or situation or set of circumstances that could come up that could lead them from you. That’s how marriage should be and if you don’t have a marriage that is like that trust me when I tell you it is out there and you should go and find it!

      • TheFirstWife

        I am glad it worked out for you.

        I agree with you. No excuse for an affair. I was recounting what drove my H to the affair and how he led himself down the wrong path.

        It is sad that there are people out there like that – no morals, no sense of right and wrong – just out for themselves. I think society has gotten hung up on “I deserve to be happy”. Well yes but not at the expense of vows and family etc.

        Your story is exactly my point to SadintheSouth – it MAY appear yiur H has moved on and us living a better life. But that is what he wants you to see or believe. It may not be true.

        I am pretty certain that had my H left to be with her, it would have been short lived. He would have missed his children terribly and would have quickly tired of her drama and issues. But he would not have been able to return to me so easily, if at all.

        My attitude is if he leaves, the door is locked. Most likely for good. No second chances. He could talk until he was blue in the face but it would not change my mind.

        And being on this journey I have thought a few times of leaving him. The communication issue and his lying about stuff (stupid stuff) continues to push me over the edge. How sad it could come to that.

    • Emily

      Exactly! I was pretty distracted by my hatred for the OW. It kept me from looking at my H and his actions. He pitted us girls against each other and it worked. It wasn’t until I stopped following his lead that I was able to see that all roads led back to him and his lies and manipulations.
      And to this day he hasn’t changed at all! Which I’m fairly sure goes for all cheaters

      • TheFirstWife

        My H made a comment right after DDay1 about how she was interesting and he could talk to her. So I informed him that was great he could talk to her. I cited examples where he didn’t even TRY to talk with me. About anything. I would hear him on the phone talking to his friend about something funny and realize he never shared it with me.

        So I told my H I was the 30 year relationship not going to try and be 30 years old. I have moved past that. And if that is what you want then there is nothing here for you. I won’t stand in your way.

        He looked at me with a dumb founded look. He never expected me to challenge him.

        My H came home the first night he kissed her and told me about it. He claims it was b/c he didn’t want to cheat. I believe it really was him laying the foundation to leave me. He went back to her so I had the pleasure of DDay2. But by then I was so fed up and done with him we almost divorced.

        In any event I wish I could ask every cheating spouse “was that little ego boost really worth the lies and broken vows and destroyed families and heartbreak and financial devastation?” Was it really worth it in the end?

        Most cheating spouses, if honest, would admit it was not.

        Those who continue to lie and deceive and cheat will probably admit it was. Losers in my book

        I then told him I will not try to be 3

    • AlwaysHoping

      My CS was diagnosed with Bipolar 4 years ago. He left me for 3 months in limbo saying he didn’t know what he wanted and was unhappy. At the time I didn’t know he was having an affair. He came back, started therapy alone and I took him back. Fast forward 4 years and I find myself in the exact same position. I discovered his affair when I saw text messages from the OW professing her love. I confronted him and he admitted to the affair. He also gave me the same excuses. He was unhappy and didn’t know what to do. But refused to go to counseling with me or get his bipolar under control with medication. He left and immediately moved in with the OW. It’s been 10 weeks now. He says he wants a divorce, but hasn’t made a move towards that. But cannot admit to me that he is living with the OW. In fact, he refuses to speak about her at all. Like she is in my imagination. She is 23yo and has no ambition in life. A real basketcase from what I have heard and she is just a mess. But he says she is a nice girl and none of this is her fault. I call BS! I get nothing from him emotionally and the lies! The lies just keep coming and I hear about lies he is telling friends and family. He is burning bridges with friends and collegues all because of this girl. He is a completely different man. No integrity at all.

      I’ve been reading these blogs for support and guidance. I’m not sure what to do next. It seems many of you have stayed and endured many months alone. We have no children together but have been together 14 years – 6 married. I will be 40 in March. Many friends tell me to divorce him and find someone who can make me happy. But I love my husband and am not sure divorce is what I want. How did you decide that you would wait out the affair and see if the CS would come out of the fog? He really isn’t giving me much hope right now. Other than he hasn’t actually filed for divorce on his own.

      Our relationship before was solid in my opinion. We were best friends and a team, but he liked the bar scene and I didn’t. Eventually, this is where he met the girl. Now bc of the OW and the fog, we barely speak. And mostly through text. I am very angry and hurt still so I still have moments that I lash out in anger towards him. I try to be loving and supportive but its hard. Its hard to watch him destroy relationships bc of her. He is very much deep in the fog and no one can reach him.

      • TheFirstWife

        Always. So sorry you are in this predicament. Many of us completely understand the affair fog, etc.

        From my experience there is very little you can do while the CS is in the fog. Believe me I wish I had known that sooner. I thought I could reason and get him to understand. Sadly it doesn’t work.

        Maybe try stop interacting with him while he is living with her. He is counting on you being there for him and two women fighting over him. What an ego boost.

        Stop feeding his ego and giving him what he needs. Maybe try not responding unless it’s a critical matter. One of the things I noticed that worked for me was that when I started to back off and disengage, my H didn’t lke it he noticed it immediately and started trying to engage me.

        I started making plans to go out – even if alone. I went to my children’s games & events whether he was there or not (he was).

        The point is to start moving forward without him. Get some plan together to start to prepare yourself in case your marriage does not survive his affair.

        Also get a financial plan together for you alone. Figure out dividing up assets even if in your own mind. It can save you stress and aggravation down the road.

        I think the most important thing is to make sure you understand his choices have nothing to do with you. He has chosen to rationalize and justify his cheating because he was unhappy. When that behavior occurs, please know there is no reasoning with someone. He is acting like a spoiled child.

        His choices to have an affair clearly signify a lack of morals and the ability to be a standup kind of guy.I wonder how it is that so many cheaters can find excuses to justify their behavior.

        It may be better for you to go to counseling or therapy alone to learn how to deal with your husband. I have to admit that my fabulous therapist and his blog were the two things that got me through my husband’s affair.

        That being said I took my husband back however the next two years were difficult and challenging. He wasn’t cheating any longer but continued to lie and not communicate about things that were important. There were times I wanted to give up but for some reason I hung in there and today three years later, things are so much better.

        I have taken the time to financially protect myself and my children should this ever happen again. If it did happen again, I would be very hurt but I certainly would not be blindsided like I was the last time around.

        I have come to a point where I am good with him or without him. We are either A team or we need to go our separate ways.

        I wish you the best and hope this blog can be a source of help for you. There are so many posts and contributors that have provided some really good advice. Everything you are going through and will go through has been discussed here.

        The only thing I wish I could have learned sooner was that it is very difficult to reason with someone while they are in the fog. The affair is like an addiction.

        It’s almost as if they are starcrossed teenage lovers out of Romeo and Juliet. They act like they are fighting the world for a good cause when in actuality he they are doing nothing more than being selfish, tearing families apart and causing anguish and heart ache to their family.

        I wish you all the best and I hope you can survive this terrible ordeal.

      • TheFirstWife

        Always. I think your husband also has what I call the night in shining armor syndrome. My husband had the same thing. His other woman was much younger and a basket case, drama queen, covered in tattoos andhad many relationships with guys that ended up in a mess.

        My husband got sucked into her drama and was going to save her and help her and rescue her from her miserable life.

        I think they get some ego boost from being needed by these poor pathetic creatures.

        Obviously this is just my opinion but I have seen this scenario over and over again.

    • Shifting Impressions

      AlwaysHoping
      I don’t think I would have it in me to “wait out” an affair. It’s hard enough to get over an affair if your CS ends it immediately upon discovery. But to wait around while the affair continues on, I don’t know.

      I believe many stay for the sake of their children, but if there are no children, as in your case, I wonder if they would “wait”.

      But only you know when “enough is enough”. Ask yourself what you really want. Take care of you. You are worthy of better treatment. We all are.

    • Meg

      I believe this article describes me perfecrly, which is seemingly frightening, yet awakening. How do I find more help for the PTSD and trauma bonding?

      • TheFirstWife

        Hi Meg. How long has it been since the affair ended and what leads you to believe this?

        It may be different in trying to get the CS to help you heal after an affair rather than remaining because of trauma (though it could be difficult to tell the difference between the two).

    • Confused

      My husband and i have bèen together for 24 years since i was 15 married with 3 boys. My husband had a hidden relationship while working away for 6 months. I found pictures of them on the pc. He denied it at the time as it was only her not him as you couldnt see him fully but i could tell it was him. About 9months later and at the same time we had our first son he was about 10mths old. I found a profile of him in a dating site.  Confronted him and he admitted to everything and was truly sorry . We did counseling for a while and it helped and the counselor advised to work it through together and keep the affair between yourselves which i thought helped allot through this whole ordeal. We did seem to put it behind us and he was trying very hard to prove it was just a stupid mistake he will regret and for the rest of his life he will make it up to me. I know he is a good person he doesn’t drink, is smart kind caring , well liked and easy going nature about him. Liked by all. A Great dad.I often hear from others….ok  … i will fast forward to now in 2017 we have 3 boys 10,8 and 5. I hear from othets how lucky i am to have him and to have no worries with him having a affair as he is a quiet type that you would absolutely be shocked to know what i know if you knew him like my family and friends do.
      So this has been a painful 10 years of me living a inner nightmare of the affair that happened and im still not dealing with it very well. It comes in waves and i cant be intimate with at times with him and we cry about it all he apologizes and we then move on and life goes on it just happens from time to time.. We have tried many ways to spark our sex life  with tantra course,toys etc. but its only good for some time then its back to the ..blah blah dull side we have. Dont get me wrong i love him i know i do but part of me is forever thinking i will never be able to stop the hurt and lies he once did and his life goes on as the good guy… while im having this whole battle in myself that i can never be 100% truly happy in my life with my decision to life through while at times looking in his eyes and thinking of that times he had a secret affair… a relationship and only as i discovered it all…it came out… what if i never did…??  i question would he be still doing it or would get tempted again as i have rejected him a bit lately. I honestly think he has not gone there again since i really really do think he knows i wouldn’t cope if he has… its a subject he is totally fine to discuss with me he doesn’t get defensive or angry when i again bring it up.. not that it happens often… hes said many times if i need to tell someone so i have someone to talk to..do it…, his said he will own it and answer  anything and anyone who wants to talk to him or discuss it as he did wrong by me and he will have to take the brunt of what people will have to say about it… as im 100% there would be people who will be in shock.. but i dont think it will help either him or i if the world knows… at times i wish i could blurt it out when im angry..but i don’t.  I have told one girlfriend and he knows and he knows and is happy i can talk to her if i need to and not  him..which i have… i see the hurt she feels for me and i know deep down shes shocked about what he did and shes never spoken to him about and is very respectful on my privacy and wishes about it all. so i know 100% it hasnt gone past her. Its soo hard as no family knows… i think thats been the hardest part as i feel like  im living a lie when the the subject of affair comes up in conversation i always get .. well you would have to worry about that.. hey.. keeping that straight face and laughing along going yes how lucky hey…
      Fast forward to how i feel. At times very sad depressed lonely as we bicker and debate allot lately.. ive seen many friends marriages break up people move on and while im plodding along with my family i love and my marriage that feels lost …with not feeling that love towards him anymore.  I know he loves me..hes still here and so am i. but i feel i could be so much happier… he dont have that chatting bubbly personality and i do and i feel im subpressing it to live along but underneath im flat towards him. Its a effort to just be in conversation at times.. i dont want to feel this way for the rest of my life… can we or i get it back to loving him truly how it was before… or am i kidding myself into thinking it will.
      I wish it just never happen or i never knew.. or i even think how it would have been if it all came out to all tbat we know.. and would i have then left… and i right could be living a happier life?? .. could he be happier? As i question is he happy now or is he living along side me to feel has too.. as i have inly ever been with one man … i know no different apart from him… maybe that’s my issue i feel i could be wasting my life with one man as its all i know and im scared of never trust another…. as before tbe affair it was the last thing i had EVER thought he would do… i really really was shocked and sick in the belly i threw up… i remember the day like it was yesterday. … here we are 10 years later… should i still feel this way??? I feel my kids are becoming affected by my unhappiness at times they have caught me crying and dont know why of course….help any advice?

    • Shifting Impressions

      Confused
      I am so sorry to hear how difficult this is, even ten years later. It sounds like your husband is doing most things right but you are left to deal with this epic battle inside yourself. This is something a lot of us can relate too. It has only been a little over three years for me and it’s still tough.

      My husband is also the last person anyone would think capable of having an affair.

      My best advice for you is to find a counselor for you….to help you work through the grief and trauma of the affair. Do this for you.

      Also, I found it really helpful to educate myself on affairs…….I did a lot of reading on the subject. Listening to peoples stories on this site has been extremely helpful. It’s like having a support group.

      Hopefully this helps a little.

    • Carol

      This is the most validating article I have read in the 7 years I have undoubtedly been experiencing this trauma bond with my husband. It exactly describes what I have been going through – mental health and marriage counseling services are still woefully inadequate in dealing with this ubiquitous issue which is destroying families everywhere. I hope you continue your mission of awareness and education. Thanks from the bottom of my shattered ❤!

    • confused

      Hi CAROL

      its the most horrible experience isnt it. Im not sure if your like me where no one else knows about this apart from one girlfriend who only found out this year. so i have been dealing with this by myself and my husband as my venting person.. i truly only know how to love him and dont want anyone else i dont know how to love anyone else nor do i want to.. however it hurts like hell when the wave of images,thoughts and reoccuring doubts appear out of no where. It can be a song,movie or just dates that come around and trigger it all AGAIN. i wish i could stop these thoughts as i know he is herefor me and says it was a terrible stupid mistake and wishes he hadnt.. but he did and thats the part i and sooo hurtful over.
      i wish i could have my mind erased of all knowledge of it and i can move forward..

      • Double Whammy

        Dear Confused ,

        Our lives are so much similar my husband had an affair 23 years into our marriage, I never told anyone and our marriage actually healed but it was very difficult then he had a little mess up again 6 years later . It wasn’t sex but it was bad enough and it was a friend of mine . I was out of town at a family reunion and I died , I was unable to trauma bond with him because I didn’t come home for a week after the event . Well my heart had enough .

        Unfortunately about three months later I started carrying on with the man in an emotional affair that ended up becoming a full-blown affair seven months later and lasted for 2 1/2 years .

        Oh I thought it was the best thing I wa oh I thought it was the best thing going … until I trauma bonded with him the affair person about six times because he was until I trauma bonded with him the affair person about six times because he was unfaithful.

        My husband prayed for me the whole time and made a complete life change … we reconciled .

        It is very difficult because I still miss the abuser affair partner . He was more vile than ever … I just wanted to share this with you because I think it is best to repair a marriage because you really do have a foundation that you can build up from and you can even create a new marriage if you’re has been is willing it’s gonna take a lot of work we are still working on it it’s very hard but I know I would never ever want to try again hell no it was pure hell the affair

    • Double Whammy

      Hi Confused

      I was talking in my phone on the first response and it did not transmit correcctly. Now I cant see if so if I repeat my apologies.

      With regards to my husbands first affair, I did experience a trauma bond with him. I became very clingy and codependent. When he had his second affair 6 years later I was completely shocked just as I was the first one because really we did have a great marriage. I think that is why the affairs just totally shocked me. We got along great, financially sound, work together and have a great family. Sex was always great. He completely broke my heart the first time. The second time I literally died. I was unable to get to him right after the second incident because I was out of town … so I literally decinigrated that week. When I saw him a week later I had lost all interest in him. It was like I didnt care any more at all… I almost think a trauma bond might have helped me reconnect with him (as silly as this sounds) I did not.

      This left me open to stew anger inside of me. Anger, sadness rejection all those feelings just sat there in my soul…I never told anyone. This leaves you very vunlerable.

      I had an emmotional affair with a man I met online and it turned physical in 7 months. Lasted for 2 1/2 years all during the time my husband is in therapy getting better…I AM GETTING WORSE.

      Bad news is this new boyfriend was a toxic love addict who was having mulitple affairs cheating on his wife who he initally told me he was separated from. I trauma bonded with him over and over and over again.. I am too embarassed to write all the things and women I put up with. Finally…I supposedly became the only one. He divorced his wife he says to have a life with me, however I know the real reason so he can carry on as he always has.

      OMG dont go my route. It is awful. It seemed great too. Like the perfect soul mate NIGHTMARE on your street. UGH. Im not saying you should tell the world but therapy is great. Marriage counseling is great. Finding out what your husband is really dealing with so you can prevent the cheating.

      My precious husband of 32 years loves me. He had tremendous guilt for sending me down this route. I do not blame him for my choices, I was clearly devoted to him and loved him so much. I really really almost worshiped my husband my king for my entire marriage, I think this was why I was so crushed.

      The affair was terrible. I can not even write what I put up with …its to embarassing. I experienced trauma bonding on crack. I tear up just thinking about it.

      I honestly know why I cheated… I also know never ever ever again.

    • Kay

      This explains exactly what I’m going through! “Such is the paradox of the affair—the person who causes you the most harm is also seemingly the very person who can take the pain away.”

      Its 5 months since the first Dday and last night I experienced a 3rd Dday. I hate him so much for continuously hurting me yet I keep reaching out to communicate to him and hoping he’d say just the right thing to make this pain all go away!

      I was really feeling like I wasn’t being strong enough by not really breaking up with him. Trauma bonding makes such sense and makes me not feel like something is wrong with me or that I’m a sucker or idiot! I’m truly traumatized!!

      Thank you for this!!

    • Carol

      Yes you are and you have every right to be! It has been 7 years since the big D Day for us but my H kept lying and acting out for several more years, and still gets defensive sometimes- but- he’s improving. I think the “healing from affairs” and marriage industry in general does us infidelity trauma victims a huge disservice by not recognizing that the trauma treatment has to come first and educating our husbands about this has to be #1 priority. The only 2 books out of the hundreds I have read that really addressed this issue for my H and me in a practical way were Should I Stay or Should I go? And Worthy of Her Trust. They clearly spell out the husbands role, at least initially, is to bear the lions share of the healing process. Deep down I knew my H really wanted to heal me, he was just incompetent. But lately he has been showing me the things he’s learned are really sinking in and it’s such a relief. Hope it lasts! Its a steep learning curve- a matter of how long can you hang in there? I wish you all the best!
      Carol

    • Angela

      Wow! Yes this definitely rings true for me. I cannot explain to this day why I put up with what I put up with, but I was forced to do it to a degree because I was completely financially dependent on my spouse. Once I was betrayed, I couldn’t leave if I wanted to. Though I do remember the feeling of wanting to leave, but being unable to financially, I also needed my spouse to soothe the pain he kept creating on a daily basis and the utter frustration of not being able to stop him from what he was doing. It’s been 3 years since his EA and though he “gets it” and apologizes almost daily now, I’ve still succumbed to feelings of alternating numbness and depression that I can’t shake off and my sense of self is nearly gone. I remember reading this article 2 years ago, and couldn’t relate to anything in it, in fact, I could barely understand what it was saying, but now I fully understand it. I’ve asked myself “why did you keep putting up with that bullshit?” and I have no answer. I can’t say I was madly in love, because I hated his guts at the same time I needed him to comfort me and be with me. I’ve tried to explain this conflict of feelings to him and I think he tries to understand it and knows that when he “can’t feel me” (that’s how he explains if I am present or not) that I have gone numb and he just has to be patient. I thought I felt like this because he took so long to “get it”, that I was finally able to start processing some feelings I was burying (or forced to) but now I do wonder if I’ve got a case of trauma bonding. I’m still here but I can’t say it’s because I feel in love or anything like that. I flat out don’t like him right now, as a person, period, and I’m struggling to regain any ounce of respect for him, but I hope it is just a stage that will pass and I will eventually feel in love with him again.

    • Molly Magee

      Hi, my wedding anniversary is fast approaching and we have been a couple for almost 28 years. We have one grown child who is newly married and a teen son. Our teen son is on the ASD and our daughter has been fighting cancer for almost two years – so far so good but a very scary journey. She’s amazing and doing well, thank God and fate and great treatment. I come from a background of loss of men all through my early life to young adulthood – my biological father to alcohol and my parents divorce; a step father and step brother to divorce #2 and my brother as young adult to AIDS. I have trauma from my childhood and teens of not feeling worthy of a man’s loyalty and love from all of this. Yes I’ve worked on it tons.. Though my marriage has had its ups and downs with all its challenges, I thought, during the Summer 2016, that we had made it thru one of the hardest tests a couple can endure – a critically ill child who were are lucky to still have alive and well. During that summer, I planned a beautiful vk for me and my husband while our younger child was at his happy place – summer camp for 5 weeks. One HALF day into what I had dubbed happily “our summer of me and him or the summer of US” I accidentally found a text on my husband’s phone. I was not snooping. I suspected NOTHING. I never saw, EVER saw this coming. My husband had lent me his cell to take pictures of the garden we were touring and the last thing I said to him, before the AP’s text popped up on his screen, was “You look so handsome, can I take your photo?” Then my world came crashing in when I saw the text from her that was clearly romantic and a sign of affair and confronted him with it immediately. VK cancelled together – I went off to beach by myself and crashed. It is nothing short of a miracle I lived thru those first days alone and that summer when I returned home… suicidal ideation, severe trauma and depression. He continued to lie and deceive – first telling me it was solely “only” a texting, sexting and email connection and the admitting it he had slept w/her recently. She came all the way from TX to our New England city to hook up with him. She paid for most of everything treating herself like a prostitute and being treated like one. They supposedly met on-line playing an online game and started flirting and it took off from there… it was a fifteen month (according to him) affair and didn’t end til the fall after I found out. She’s a public school teacher, mom of a young adult daughter and has done this before – cheated on multiple spouses. She also has criminal record involving petty financial crimes and convictions which he had no idea about. Guess whose resume she was interested in and what else she must have been interested in… yes, his very successful career and our bank account. And escaping her crap hole life in nowhere TX. She did tell him she cheated on her first spouse, with her current spouse who she was cheating with my husband on. Got it??? She’s a real “gem”, needless to say. Now almost 19 months later I’m still a wreck. Therapy has helped. My own. And joining Al Anon recently to work on my ACOA issues but we ended marriage therapy due too much blaming from him. I couldn’t listen to any of his attempt to deconstruct what led to his affair from our other issues in this marriage. I agreed there were many, but if you have a broken down Ford and your wife and kids are in it, you don’t go to a used car lot, find another car and leave them in the broken Ford and drive away in your new car. In other words, you can’t go outside the marriage to fix the problems that scared the crap out of me but still didn’t make me suspect an affair. In retrospect it would have been easier and would have been much more direct, honest and survivable than him cheating. My self esteem is still in the basement and I can’t help comparing myself to her even though he never directly did. Of course, him courting, flirting with, romancing and then screwing her in person… was a comparison because he’s never been overly romantic, flirty or courted me in that way. It was a game, I get it. It was a fantasy. I get it. But it still hurts so much. I feel like damaged goods. For now, I’m here w/him due to our son’s special needs. And for those of you thinking, oh he started this due to pain of having a child w/cancer – B.S. He started the affair, at least, 6-7 months before our daughter was diagnosed and it continued all through her initial diagnosis, surgeries, treatment, etc. So while we were in the hospital pacing the floors, holding each other’s hands and sweating out whether or not our daughter would make it and supporting her fiance, my husband was also sexting, texting, emailing and flirting w/this woman. This still makes me sick to my stomach. And it didn’t stop his AP either- knowing what we were going thru as a family…. he told her all of this and she still didn’t do the honorable thing and end it. He says it was not an “exit affair” and he never intended to end up w/her but he also admitted her told her he loved her and there was a possibility of some future too – – just not when. So clearly he was lying to me and to her and playing her big time. She definitely thought they had one… a future. We had to serve her w/a cease and desist (at my insistence) order four months after he officially ended the affair because she reached out again to him by email supposedly – her words – only “in friendship” and to see how our family was. What a nit wit… like I couldn’t read between the lines and get the true meaning… “are you and your wife still together??” I told her if she tried to contact him again and I caught her, I’d contact her district’s HR dept. and inform authorities for stalking charges of another family. By having an affair, she has definitely violated the morality clause in her teacher contract, as a public servant, in her district’s contract for upholding community values of proper conduct. She could still lose her job. I am not healing thru my husband’s attempts to say he is now in 100% to healing and moving on w/our marriage. Nothing he says or does seems to help. I am so hurt he did this. I am functioning somewhat better but I don’t know about our future… I wonder on my worst days if staying made sense. I never wanted my kids to be children of divorce …. I know too well how hard that is having been thru my mom’s two divorces but it might be the only way. Here’s what I think I need to do though so many have discouraged me to heal this way. I think I need to send punish her more – the AP. I know my husband is who I’m married – I get it… but I feel she got off w/no serious consequences and that me giving her some might help me heal. I wrote her a poem almost a year ago going step by step how little I think of her and what devastation she helped cause in our family – it’s mean but rhymes and is right to the jugular. Our son ended up hospitalized for suicidal ideation because our marriage was under such stress. Our daughter had seen a text he sent her months before I saw the text that blew everything up – weeks after she found out she had cancer. I think I need to send the AP, serial cheater and homewrecker that she is, a brochure on fidelity that I have and I think I need to humiliate her to her siblings. (BTW, Her first ex husband knows because I called him about her mental state when I found out she was in Ireland at the same time I was this past summer… which my lawyer, therapist and friends all think is a bizarre fact but my husband doesn’t, of course… her second- soon-to-be or already ex-husband’s parents know because I reached them by accident looking for him when it all came out. I contact them months ago… so she knows I know how to reach them I I am still a mess some days… its affected how I think about myself as a mom, daughter, wife, friend and family member. I knew i had insecurities before all this, but nothing like this. Somedays the rational and most healing thing to do seems to be leaving him but I have to think about my son’s needs for the time being until he’s out of high school or almost done… he just started. I’m trying so hard to be in the present w/my husband and moving forward but I slip almost weekly still – up from daily. She- his AP is always on my mind. He’s always on my mind w/her – not me. I may be damaged from my childhood losses but this sure didn’t help and just added another layer of loss, betrayal and hurt from men. I’m not young – mid 50s, almost in menopause and his timing could NOT have been worse. This marriage may just end so I can get some sense of peace and self-contentment back in my life. I would miss certain aspects of him and our connection and history forever but I would not miss feeling this lousy about myself. I might have to take the risk that I may still feel lousy about myself but I won’t owe him my loyalty anymore. He really doesn’t deserve it… he probably never did. Your advise, counsel and thoughts would be welcome. Please don’t judge me for still wanting to punish her. I actually think it might be healthiest thing I can do for myself. Peace, MM

    • Molly Magee

      Please read this version….

      Molly Magee November 30, 2017 at 6:49 pm #
      Hi, my wedding anniversary is fast approaching and we have been a couple for almost 28 years. We have one grown child who is newly married and a teen son. Our teen son is on the ASD and our daughter has been fighting cancer for almost two years – so far so good but a very scary journey. She’s amazing and doing well, thank God and fate and great treatment. I come from a background of loss of men all through my early life to young adulthood – my biological father to alcohol and my parents divorce; a step father and step brother to divorce #2 and my brother as young adult to AIDS. I have trauma from my childhood and teens of not feeling worthy of a man’s loyalty and love from all of this. Yes I’ve worked on it tons.. Though my marriage has had its ups and downs with all its challenges, I thought, during the Summer 2016, that we had made it thru one of the hardest tests a couple can endure – a critically ill child who were are lucky to still have alive and well. During that summer, I planned a beautiful vk for me and my husband while our younger child was at his happy place – summer camp for 5 weeks. One HALF day into what I had dubbed happily “our summer of me and him or the summer of US” I accidentally found a text on my husband’s phone. I was not snooping. I suspected NOTHING. I never saw, EVER saw this coming. My husband had lent me his cell to take pictures of the garden we were touring and the last thing I said to him, before the AP’s text popped up on his screen, was “You look so handsome, can I take your photo?” Then my world came crashing in when I saw the text from her that was clearly romantic and a sign of affair and confronted him with it immediately. VK cancelled together – I went off to beach by myself and crashed. It is nothing short of a miracle I lived thru those first days alone and that summer when I returned home… suicidal ideation, severe trauma and depression. He continued to lie and deceive – first telling me it was solely “only” a texting, sexting and email connection and the admitting it he had slept w/her recently. She came all the way from TX to our New England city to hook up with him. She paid for most of everything treating herself like a prostitute and being treated like one. They supposedly met on-line playing an online game and started flirting and it took off from there… it was a fifteen month (according to him) affair and didn’t end til the fall after I found out. She’s a public school teacher, mom of a young adult daughter and has done this before – cheated on multiple spouses. She also has criminal record involving petty financial crimes and convictions which he had no idea about. Guess whose resume she was interested in and what else she must have been interested in… yes, his very successful career and our bank account. And escaping her crap hole life in nowhere TX. She did tell him she cheated on her first spouse, with her current spouse who she was cheating with my husband on. Got it??? She’s a real “gem”, needless to say. Now almost 19 months later I’m still a wreck. Therapy has helped. My own. And joining Al Anon recently to work on my ACOA issues but we ended marriage therapy due too much blaming from him. I couldn’t listen to any of his attempt to deconstruct what led to his affair from our other issues in this marriage. I agreed there were many, but if you have a broken down Ford and your wife and kids are in it, you don’t go to a used car lot, find another car and leave them in the broken Ford and drive away in your new car. In other words, you can’t go outside the marriage to fix the problems in it. About five months into his affair, out of the blue, he started an argument w/me and said he wanted to separate possibly – that scared the crap out of me but it still didn’t make me suspect an affair. What he failed to mention is that he was having an affair when he brought that up… I never realized how deceitful and manipulative he can be and has been in our marriage. In retrospect it would have been easier and would have been much more direct, honest and survivable (divorce) than him cheating. He took the coward’s way out. My self esteem is still in the basement and I can’t help comparing myself to her even though he never directly did. Of course, him courting, flirting with, romancing and then screwing her in person… was a comparison because he’s never been overly romantic, flirty or courted me in that way. It was a game, I get it. It was a fantasy. I get it. But it still hurts so much. I feel like damaged goods. For now, I’m here w/him due to our son’s special needs. And for those of you thinking, oh he started this due to pain of having a child w/cancer – B.S. He started the affair, at least, 6-7 months before our daughter was diagnosed and it continued all through her initial diagnosis, surgeries, treatment, etc. So while we were in the hospital pacing the floors, holding each other’s hands and sweating out whether or not our daughter would make it and supporting her fiance, my husband was also sexting, texting, emailing and flirting w/this woman. This still makes me sick to my stomach. And it didn’t stop his AP either- knowing what we were going thru as a family…. he told her all of this and she still didn’t do the honorable thing and end it. He says it was not an “exit affair” and he never intended to end up w/her but he also admitted her told her he loved her and there was a possibility of some future too – – just not when. So clearly he was lying to me and to her and playing her big time. She definitely thought they had one… a future. We had to serve her w/a cease and desist (at my insistence) order four months after he officially ended the affair because she reached out again to him by email supposedly – her words – only “in friendship” and to see how our family was. What a nit wit… like I couldn’t read between the lines and get the true meaning… “are you and your wife still together??” I told her if she tried to contact him again and I caught her, I’d contact her district’s HR dept. and inform authorities for stalking charges of another family. By having an affair, she has definitely violated the morality clause in her teacher contract, as a public servant, in her district’s contract for upholding community values of proper conduct. She could still lose her job. I am not healing thru my husband’s attempts to say he is now in 100% to healing and moving on w/our marriage. Nothing he says or does seems to help. I am so hurt he did this. I am functioning somewhat better but I don’t know about our future… I wonder on my worst days if staying made sense. I never wanted my kids to be children of divorce …. I know too well how hard that is having been thru my mom’s two divorces but it might be the only way. Here’s what I think I need to do though so many have discouraged me to heal this way. I think I need to send punish her more – the AP. I know my husband is who I’m married – I get it… but I feel she got off w/no serious consequences and that me giving her some might help me heal. I wrote her a poem almost a year ago going step by step how little I think of her and what devastation she helped cause in our family – it’s mean but rhymes and is right to the jugular. Our son ended up hospitalized for suicidal ideation because our marriage was under such stress. Our daughter had seen a text he sent her months before I saw the text that blew everything up – weeks after she found out she had cancer. I think I need to send the AP, serial cheater and homewrecker that she is, a brochure on fidelity that I have and I think I need to humiliate her to her siblings. (BTW, Her first ex husband knows because I called him about her mental state when I found out she was in Ireland at the same time I was this past summer… which my lawyer, therapist and friends all think is a bizarre fact but my husband doesn’t, of course… her second- soon-to-be or already ex-husband’s parents know because I reached them by accident looking for him when it all came out. I contact them months ago… so she knows I know how to reach them I I am still a mess some days… its affected how I think about myself as a mom, daughter, wife, friend and family member. I knew i had insecurities before all this, but nothing like this. Somedays the rational and most healing thing to do seems to be leaving him but I have to think about my son’s needs for the time being until he’s out of high school or almost done… he just started. I’m trying so hard to be in the present w/my husband and moving forward but I slip almost weekly still – up from daily. She- his AP is always on my mind. He’s always on my mind w/her – not me. I may be damaged from my childhood losses but this sure didn’t help and just added another layer of loss, betrayal and hurt from men. I’m not young – mid 50s, almost in menopause and his timing could NOT have been worse. This marriage may just end so I can get some sense of peace and self-contentment back in my life. I would miss certain aspects of him and our connection and history forever but I would not miss feeling this lousy about myself. I might have to take the risk that I may still feel lousy about myself but I won’t owe him my loyalty anymore. He really doesn’t deserve it… he probably never did. Your advise, counsel and thoughts would be welcome. Please don’t judge me for still wanting to punish her. I actually think it might be healthiest thing I can do for myself. Peace, MM

    • Beth

      Sarah P. are you a licensed therapist? I would be very careful about giving people advice on what to do about their relationships, or even providing analysis for that matter. The victim/perpetrator model does not help anyone activate change. Addressing good or bad does not get to the root of the issues or the relationship dynamic. A lot of betrayed spouses cannot move past the stage of hurt and EGO in order to look in the mirror and develop empathy (Of course I am not talking about justification here, just basic understanding) someone can “take back” their power by leaving the relationship; however, this “power” dynamic is often unconscious and can be addressed in therapy. Of COURSE if someone is unwilling or unable to change, yes walk away. Great healing and strengthened marriages can come from affairs for BOTH partners.

    • Mary

      Hi angela… wondering where you are at and how you are feeling these days. Your story is eerily similar to mine. For now I’m here for my disabled sons needs and finances. I used to feel guilt and shame about that but he told me he’s not going to feel guilty about the affair for the rest of his life… so I made a decision to not feel guilty about this choice of mine… to stay put a d use his financial resources to support my growth and recovery whether or not we stay together long term. He used me a basically a maid and nanny while he conducted his affair so I don’t need to beat myself for staying for using our financial stability. His affair partner is grifter and convicted of financial crimes who was definitely in the affair for our money/his excellent salary as well as their attention and sex… so if that’s what attracts him… so be it.. I can be that too. Ok… keeping on keeping on at almost 2 years post stay. My kids and my growth thru therapy and al anon are my focus. Peace…mm

    • Irma

      I am leaving a response that I sense may be shunned because of my perspective. I clicked on the link that brought me to this article because of its title. I was connected to a man via trauma bonds of an affair. I too have suffered severe abandonment issues as a child. My father was there, not there, there, not there. I have been left with severe anxiety when it comes to men. There are certain behaviors that I am drawn to because I have grown to associate them with love. The misery of waiting for my father to return, then the emotional glory and high when he returned, thinking that this time he wouldn’t leave me again, that he would chose me, his little girl, over whatever else was out there that he seemed to prefer. Up until almost two years ago, these were the type of men I loved. And yes, a married man fit that bill. It is so SO easy to vilify the “other woman.” However, there are some among us who are broken. My coworker was a married man and I was a married woman in an abusive relationship. When I divorced, he jumped right in to console me, check on me, be worried about me. He stopped wearing his wedding ring. He told me not to be scared of him. To trust him. In my severely depressed state, it felt good to me. This man, who had a whole life outside of me, was choosing me. Then he would leave and I’d be devastated. Then he’d come back and I’d be ecstatic. The “i’m trying to work things out” “if it weren’t for the kids I’d already be gone.” His jealousy. His driving by my house to see if I was out. It got to the point that I realized it was all a game. I told him that if he did not leave me alone I would tell his wife. For another month he kept professing his love for me, his need to protect me, how good he could be for me. So I told her. She blamed me. It was hell. And he came back. Again. And again. And I told her, again, and again. There was no sex for the almost two year period that he kept coming back to me. It made me feel insane that despite his wife knowing, and despite his knowing that I would tell his wife, he kept coming back. And as I read this article, I felt as if I, too, had a trauma bond with him. Despite his wife knowing, he would pop up every 3 months or so. Show up early to meetings just to tell me he missed me. My anxiety level was at an all time high. I didn’t want to go to meetings anymore. There are some who will say “that’s what you get.” But quite frankly, it’s not. There are women out there, and I know some, who sinpmy do not care. They will actively pursue a married man for the pure excitement. But there are also many like me. Who end up in a triangulated relationship with a selfish man. This affair pushed me to fully identify and attend to my own PTSD and abandonment issues. To address my father after 44 years to tell him what I needed to tell him. That warped inner sense of what love should be has left me and the person I am now would have never become involved with that man. All of this to say that it remains difficult to do searches on how to regain one’s sense of identity, self-respect, and all of the other necessary items for the creation of a trauma bond, when the “other woman” has been distilled to an evil vixen who’s sole desire is to hurt another woman and destroy her family. If I could take away the hurt that I caused this woman I would. But I can’t. And knowing that my actions have traumatized another human being is something difficult that will be a part of me for the rest of my life.

      • Mollymagee

        I’m not buying it “Irma”….you are a grown woman. We are all the sum total of our choices that we make as adult and you had choices all along in this mess you made of your life. Here’s a word to try: No. No, is a complete sentence. You could have said no to yourself and exercised self control and you could have said NO to him. You put yourself into a triangle situation – not him, not his wife… your choice, your consequences. I too come from loss, abandonment and betrayal from a father through his battle with alcoholism – so why am I not out destroying marriages willy nilly? No one is broken completely – somewhere inside yourself you knew you were doing the wrong thing to his wife, their family, their extended family and friends, him and to yourself ultimately. You were hurting yourself the most because he didn’t choose you – he choose his wife and family life. And no sex for two years??? WTF??? – you did that to yourself…. ask yourself what you got from him treating you that way! Hey – mess around w/a cheater – guess what you’ve got – a cheater! Your bad too. But your past trauma/PTSD doesn’t excuse your present choices as an adult. I suggest you let go of blaming your AP and your past and get some help so you can conduct yourself like a grown ass woman you already are despite acting like a child/teen. And if you are not a mom too – you have NO clue what this affair did to his wife… as a mother of his kids.So do you blame her for blaming you… and trust me – she blames him too. It’s easier to blame the AP but the spouse gets their fair share too. They are traumatized now too- actual children – by an adult – YOU and him. And you are right – you can’t take away his spouse’s pain – she has to work through her trauma and PTSD of his affair w/you on her own painfully day by day and month by month. She might forgive him and maybe even you but she will never forget what happened. Restoring trust in a marriage broken by an affair is an uphill climb and the whole foundation of the marriage gets blown to pieces. And watch your back – because if I had the chance to confront my husband’s affair partner face-to-face, I can assure you – even two years after Dday – it would NOT be pretty for her. I suggest you find AA/Al Anon/CODA and lots of therapy and stop using married men and abusing marriages to get your old wounds healed. Stop hurting other women, moms of vulnerable children and marriages to get your spirit, soul and mental health repaired – because now you caused your own damage to yourself – not your dad, not your affair partner…no one but you. And that doesn’t make you a villian – just a sad, desperate woman who would stop at nothing to get hers w/no regard for the long term consequences to so many. I wish you growth w/yourself – because we are all grownups here and no one can heal us but us with our higher power’s help. Humble yourself enough to admit you need a lot more help and promise yourself you will never do this again to any marriage, loyal wife or family.! Never. Karma is going to teach you this lesson if you can’t honor what you’ve learned this time – and it might get really ugly that time. And finally – ask yourself this: why did you let yourself wait around for years for a man who is willing to cheat on his wife – because if he had left her for you….guess who he would cheat on next??? You’ve got it… YOU. Now enough w/the the pyscho babble and justifications for your poor, hurtful actions – time to pull up your big girl panties and GROW UP. Good luck to you. MM

    • Double Whammy

      After over a year in therapy , I cannot agree more . I relate 100 percent… And the only person Ive ever turned a blind eye to hurting in my entire life was the wife . Completely out of character for me. My moral grief from this is what still haunts me everyday.

      • Molly magee

        Not THW wife…..HIS WIFE….HIS BEST FRIEND, A WOMAN FIRST, A DAUGHTER, FRIEND AND SISTER AND SISTER IN LAW, THE MOTHER OF HIS CHILDREN….remember that the next time the urge strikes you to help destroy a marriage and family through an affair with a married man.

    • Nancy

      Thank you for this article. You’ve hit on a theory that allows the puzzle pieces of my feelings to fit together. I have no doubt you’re right, and it explains a cycle I’ve seen in practice in my life (from PTSD to the hardship bonding). Sadly, I’m not sure what to do with that information. Have you looked beyond this theory into practical applications about how to break a destructive bond? It seems abuse treatment for a victim would be similar, but not the same. Anyway, thanks. You’ve given me a new dimension to consider in my personal healing.

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