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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Forum,

It's been a few months since I've posted. Things were going well, until they weren't. Serial infidelity and/or serial thoughts about infidelity have driven my husband and I farther apart. This time, I've asked for a formal separation with no contact, which my husband has agreed to. He is adamant that he would like to make major changes in himself within the context of our marriage, rather than sacrifice our marriage for his mental illnesses, and understands that a formal separation with no contact is his final chance to break dependency and self actualize.

My husband's sexual addiction to pornography, his serial infidelity, and his unwillingness or inability to participate in physical intimacy with me (sex, cuddling, kissing or otherwise) stems from an incestual sexual trauma from his childhood where an adult female family member abused him. One of my requirements for reconciliation after separation is that my husband participate in directly and aggressively addressing his trauma with our mutual therapist, and be honest with himself about the damaging effects of his pornography addiction and compulsion to seek other partners. I trust our mutual therapist and my husband to accurately share his progress with this issue after our separation. I don't think I expect this to be fully resolved, but I would like to see him actively progressing through processing this trauma when we resume contact.

However, I am not sure how to trust in my husband's fidelity while we are separated with no contact. Does anyone have experience with this? If you experienced a separation with no contact with a cheating spouse, did they cheat? How did you find out? If they didn't cheat, how did they prove their clean record to you when contact was resumed and reconciliation was attempted? Did reconciliation succeed?

I am also questioning how long of a formal separation with no contact we should shoot for. I am leaning toward 6 months. Is this long enough? Too long? Should the formal separation continue with contact after the no contact period? For how long?

Thanks to anyone for their input
Kayla
 

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I have to give you advice which I think is the most helpful, because of that I have to tell you it's not work the effort or risk. Most serial cheaters are broken beyond repair. Even so your quality of life will be poor. There is a very good chance a day will where the effort of trying to live with someone like him will not be worth the cause of having him in your. I am sorry if this is not the advice you were looking for, but I have to call them from all my experience reading these boards for over a year now.

Not everyone is capable of being marred.
 

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chronicallyfrustrated said:
If you experienced a separation with no contact with a cheating spouse, did they cheat?
Yes.

chronicallyfrustrated said:
How did you find out?
She admitted one continued affair. I also found out through friends there was another.

chronicallyfrustrated said:
how did they prove their clean record to you when contact was resumed and reconciliation was attempted?
She was not remorseful for her affairs. No attempt on her part to "prove" a "clean record".

chronicallyfrustrated said:
Did reconciliation succeed?
In the sense that our home and family lived again under one roof, it "succeeded". As to the marriage itself, no reconciliation occurred.

I think your therapist would be the be the best judge of the milestones in the process.

sokillme said:
I have to give you advice which I think is the most helpful, because of that I have to tell you it's not work the effort or risk. Most serial cheaters are broken beyond repair.
My former wife was. It is unfortunate, because I understand that it originated in incest, like your husband's. I have great compassion for the hurt she experienced, but I'm definitely sorry I married her, and I'm definitely glad I returned to the home, because our boys would have continued as her victims in a much greater way than with me living there.

I also have to give this same advice, because I also think it is the most helpful.
 

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The two of you are separated. You are going to no contact. There is no way for you to verify if he's not cheating except to have a PI follow him everywhere. There is no way to verify if he's using port either. This whole think is nothing more than a setup for failure.

You don't trust him for good reason, he's not trust worthy. What you are trying to do here is not worth the effort.
 

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I think that you would benefit from reading the book "Co-Dependent No More". The link is to one version of her book. There are other versions available as well.

Co dependency is when you put someone else's needs a head of your own and ignore your own in doing this. It's a pretty natural reaction to a bad situation. If only you could control his behavior, everything would be great. Well that does not work because you cannot control the behavior of another person. Your husband is who he is. Set him free and let him be who he is. If he wants to work on himself he can. But you cannot make him do this.

Set him free. Set yourself free.
 

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Yes.



She admitted one continued affair. I also found out through friends there was another.



She was not remorseful for her affairs. No attempt on her part to "prove" a "clean record".



In the sense that our home and family lived again under one roof, it "succeeded". As to the marriage itself, no reconciliation occurred.

I think your therapist would be the be the best judge of the milestones in the process.



My former wife was. It is unfortunate, because I understand that it originated in incest, like your husband's. I have great compassion for the hurt she experienced, but I'm definitely sorry I married her, and I'm definitely glad I returned to the home, because our boys would have continued as her victims in a much greater way than with me living there.

I also have to give this same advice, because I also think it is the most helpful.
I would like to add OP you are not responsible for saving him. Marriage isn't a lifetime of therapy or you being his personal savior. That is not what marriage is about, this kind of dynamic is not something to commit your life to. Trust me marriage is something very different than that, please don't try to save this broken person. You can't even if you want to. Yes it's sad but love isn't enough to do that.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks everyone for your responses.

I offered my husband the options of proceeding with separation with no contact, or proceeding directly to divorce. Stay and we'll work it out is no longer an option. This is not an attempt to be a personal savior.

We own a home together, and have owned it for only 14 months. We paid 280k for it, and still owe 270k. I don't have enough individual income to refinance the home in my own name for a buyout. DH is not interested in keeping the home after a divorce. For divorce, the home will need to undergo minor repairs and be sold. We thoroughly discussed divorce before discussing separation with no contact, and agree that in the event of a divorce, spring or summer sale of the home means we are much more likely to get at least what we owe for the home, if not both walk away with some equity. In this way, a 4 month or 6 month separation with no contact serves as an opportunity to preserve the small amount of equity in our home - arguably our largest chunk of net worth - while also serving to otherwise divide our finances. Many of the logistical steps we must go through to proceed with separation with no contact are steps we must proceed through to achieve divorce anyways. I'd rather walk away with $5000 to $10000, than with no net worth, or with debt.

Separation with no contact is not an attempt on my part to control or to save my husband. I came to terms with the fact I could not continue to do emotional labor for my husband several months ago, and so stopped and initiated separation while living together. I was patient in waiting for him to do the emotional labor for himself while living under the same roof, but have not seen consistent progress. Minimal and inconsistent progress paired with increasingly severe acting out behaviors or manipulative behaviors reminiscent of BPD have limited my patience to the options of separation with no contact, or divorce. DH actively understands that separation represents a final opportunity for him to save himself, and that the no contact part ensures I will NOT be available to lean on, defer difficult things to, or manage his temper tantrums. We both understand that divorce is just as likely as reconciliation after separation with no contact.

I am currently working on a list of boundaries, as well as a list of expectations I would need met to consider reconciliation after separation with no contact. Expectations or considerations so far include:

Did DH work on sexual trauma with Therapist? What is DH's assessment of his progress? What is Therapist's assessment of his progress?
Has DH cheated? (Contact with romantic or sexual intention with another person via text message, phone call, chat/IM, forum, dating site, email, or in person.)
Has DH considered cheating (ie browse dating apps, craigslist, etc) and how did he handle it? Did he rely on Therapist to understand his motivations and resolve his desire to cheat as it arose?
Has DH relapsed into alcoholism, and how did he handle it? Is Therapist aware, and did DH rely on Therapist to understand his motivations and resolve his desire to drink excessively as it arose?
Did DH try a trial medication for ADHD?
Did DH create an ADHD treatment plan with Therapist? Has DH successfully executed this treatment plan with Therapist?
Did DH begin to keep and consistently keep a typed or written journal as a means of communicating between past, present and future DH?
Did DH make and stick to a budget?
Did DH accrue credit card debt, or other types of debt?
Did DH break financially crippling fast food habit?
Did DH consistently meet or exceed employer expectations for cleanliness and organization? (How often has he gotten haircuts/is his work van organized.)
Did DH excessively compromise (lower below 10%) 401k savings rate during separation with no contact?
Has DH tried to contact me outside of business purposes? (Managing leases for mutual tenants.)
Have I tried to contact DH outside of business purposes? (Same)​

Opening expectations already include that DH will bring a list of his own expectations for his self improvement to our next therapy appointment, and I will bring my own expectations for my own improvement. We will use the moderation provided by our therapist to agree on what expectations are fair. This means I understand that DH may not take on all, or even some of my expectations. Ultimately, it is still up to DH to set and meet his own expectations in this process. DH is fully aware that the mental health struggles he has will continue to damage his life whether he is married to me or not. At the end of separation with no contact, it is up to me to assess whether or not he is someone I'd like to stay married to, and vice versa.

To answer my own initial question, perhaps my trust in whether or not he has cheated should be - in addition to considering our therapist's input at that time - a direct reflection of how he has handled other hurdles for self control which can be measured, such as examining bank statements/credit card statements for signs of alcoholism, out of control fast food consumption, charges at doctor's offices, charges for haircuts/grooming, charges for prescription medication, etc. I am simply unsure of how I will feel about extending trust again in 4 or 6 months time.

Thanks for this opportunity for external processing.
Kayla
 

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There really is no way for you to measure his trustworthiness. The closes you can come is if he scores high in all the areas that you have laid out in your above post. If he actually does all that work and makes progress then he might be closer to becoming the person you need him to be.

But does he really want to be that person? It's a huge amount of work on his part. And it's something that in many ways he had no control over. He can want to change, he can do the work... but he cannot even force his mental state to change. Most people cannot accomplish that. it's sad. I know.
 

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What you're describing you're worrying about (and you should be) is a list that basically ensures that any relationship your husband has is going to fail, like you're SHOULD do.

Your husband CHEATS AND AND AND AND doesn't have sex with YOU. That alone is a dealbreaker for ANYONE.

The fact that he has all these other problems as well????

Why is God's name would you even consider doing this to yourself? Why do you think you can't do better than this? Why do you think you owe him a gift he is CERTAIN to squander?

I really think you are being naive if you think he's not going to cheat when you're separated and go no contact with him.

I'm sorry, I think you should cut bait.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
But does he really want to be that person?
I feel strongly that time over separation with no contact will tell. Changes will either occur or not occur, and whether or not they do will finally be entirely out of my control. That's an extreme relief.

Why is God's name would you even consider doing this to yourself? Why do you think you can't do better than this? Why do you think you owe him a gift he is CERTAIN to squander?
Allowing another 4 or 6 months to pass, during which financial separation and no contact protects me and my income from his erratic/impulsive behavior, and during which no contact empowers me to further break my role as the parent in our parent/child dynamic, doesn't seem like that much more to give. Most especially when it means a much easier potential sale of our home over the amount we owe for the mortgage, and walking away with at least some financial advantage to show for the last 4-5 years of marriage/living together. The time in separation is a gift to him, but it is also a gift to me.


Continued external processing:

Sex outside of our marriage originally didn't bother me. In the past, I have often been a participant when DH engages in sex outside of our marriage, always with someone we were mutually attracted to. Sexual neglect did not become an issue until about two years ago, when DH presented his sexual abuse in therapy and started to process his sexual abuse, but did not finish. Cheating did not become an issue until I began to actively assert that sexual neglect in our marriage made any polyamory/sex outside of our marriage unacceptable. My anger about the cheating or potential cheating is less about sex with others, and much more about lying/being evasive. In fact, I say "potential cheating" because hard evidence is limited to a small amount of sexting with a former partner in our poly relationship. I haven't found evidence that DH has had sex with others, only evidence that he has continued to consider it without discussing why with me, or without finding an understanding of his own motivations around the desire to search for other partners.

Ultimately, I am more largely concerned with DH spending 3-4 hours per day with pornography while I masturbate sadly in another room than I am concerned with cheating/sex outside my marriage. At the end of our separation, I would like to know if DH did or did not cheat. However, I feel that a definable transformation in his relationship with pornography would be equal evidence that DH has made progress processing his trauma and is no longer compulsively tied to sexual content (porn or dating sites or sexting with others) as an outlet for re-abusing himself/re-traumatization.

I am so patient because I understand how complicated and difficult traumas are, as I have suffered and worked to overcome (and am still working to overcome) many of my own.
 

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In 6 months of no contact you won't want him back. Once you step out of the dysfunction of this marriage and his issues you will feel relief and as you build yourself back up your not going to want to step back into it.
 
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I know quite a few people who were sexually abused by family members in childhood, and none of them cheat or watch porn.
You and he cant use that as an excuse for this appalling choices.

If he cheats when he is with you, then of course he will cheat without you.

Mind you being that you have now said that you have had sex with others mutually then I haven't much sympathy, that is asking for trouble.
 

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Who will grade his progress?

Surely you can’t be considering listening to anything he has to say regarding his progress on those points. Who will be the judge, the person who you can trust who also is qualified to answer?

Please don’t say you intend to discuss it with your husband after the separation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I know quite a few people who were sexually abused by family members in childhood, and none of them cheat or watch porn.
You and he cant use that as an excuse for this appalling choices.
Sexual addiction, particularly through compulsive consumption of pornography that specifically mirrors his abusive experience, is a form of re-traumatization (aka re-victimization or re-abuse) that DH engages in because it allows him to feel a sense of control over the feelings he has about the original abuse. Unfortunately, this feeling of control is false, as his compulsion does not actually resolve the traumatic experience and the experience of feeling afraid or unsafe in his arousal continues to come up each time he is aroused.

Here is an excellent educational video addressing various theories/understandings of re-victimization:

Who will grade his progress?
Determining success or failure will be done in a three way conversation between myself, my husband and our mutual therapist. This is the same format we are using to initiate our formal separation next week.
 

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Psychobabble and a bunch of hooey.

He wants to watch porn. He does so.
He wants to have sex with other women. He does so.
He wants to impulsively spend money. He does so.


what you want your husband to be like means nothing. He's got to want to change. He doesn't, or he would have already.

My opinion:
Yes, there may be reasons for mental problems which are out of our control. But how we react, how we choose to behave, is within our control.
He has chosen to continuously watch porn, cheat, overspend, ignore his wife, etc. etc.

Why do you think he will change? What makes you think he wants to change?

I think 6 months of no contact will be the end of your marriage. There is no way in any circumstances a man with this little self control is going to wait for you. He will find someone else.

In reality, separations almost always result in failed marriages. Your separation gives him no incentive to change. He has lost youbfor 6 months regardless. Do you think a man this impulsive is going to suddenly see the light???
Not likely. You'll have changed your mind about marriage just like Honcho says.
 

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I think you have an obligation to do as you think is best. I hope it doesn't harm you. I think the task ahead of you is daunting and as close to impossible, but reading some about obsession and talking with your therapist about it, while continuing on your path with that therapist's knowledge and instruction, will help.

Not all therapists are great. Some are just good. Most are only as good as the information they have at their disposal. The complete and utter truth will help them to help you, and help you to know if they are any good for you.
 

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Well proving one's fidelity during separation is a daunting task.

First off, you must state that during the separation no improper contact with the opposite sex is permitted. Tell him that applies to both of you.

Tell him that if and when you do get back together will require a lie detector test.
.........................................................................................................................................
The other solution is to get one of those penis [chastity] cages that they make for men. One that locks.

You will hold onto the key.

This would be 99% effective. All bets are off if you see Tinkerbell flying out of his apartment.

.........................................................................................................................................

To be honest, your marriage will be officially over once you separate. You do not trust him now. You will trust him a lot less if he gets away from your supervision.
 
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Sexual addiction, particularly through compulsive consumption of pornography that specifically mirrors his abusive experience, is a form of re-traumatization (aka re-victimization or re-abuse) that DH engages in because it allows him to feel a sense of control over the feelings he has about the original abuse. Unfortunately, this feeling of control is false, as his compulsion does not actually resolve the traumatic experience and the experience of feeling afraid or unsafe in his arousal continues to come up each time he is aroused.

Here is an excellent educational video addressing various theories/understandings of re-victimization:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYsz4V-zj2M



Determining success or failure will be done in a three way conversation between myself, my husband and our mutual therapist. This is the same format we are using to initiate our formal separation next week.
Many well knows psychiatrists agree that sex addiction is nonsense and just an excuse to cheat. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4979502/Sex-addiction-myth-famous-say.html
As I said I know many who were abused who have very strong moral values and would never act that way.

We all make choices in life.
 

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IMO, if you're going to separate, you may as well just serve him divorce papers now.

Separation rarely encourages the kind of introspection you're hoping he'll adopt. Rather, I think it's more likely it will exacerbate the porn issue (more alone time without you around...) and more freedom to do what he wants, without your looming influence, observation, or intervention.

Not that you want to be a babysitter....

If you don't feel you can trust him, then the default answer is that you CAN'T.

So perhaps along with his therapy, you should also explore why you keep holding out hope and putting the benefit of the doubt into a person who has historically been untrustworthy?

As @EleGirl said, set yourself free.

The way I see it, you don't award bad behavior with the Golden Opportunity to commit more bad behavior. And I feel like you want to teach him a lesson more than you want to do what's best for your mental sanity. I really think that trying to get "through" to him in this way will backfire on you.
 
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