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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all,
I am new and very happy to have found this forum. I would like your input.

My husband and I have been married for 8 years. Before our marriage we were together for 3 years.

During the time before our marriage, we both cheated on each other. He actually had a couple of transgression with 2 different people. I actually transgressed with an ex-boyfriend.

The difference is that I cheated on him during the first couple of months of our relationship but never told him until he transgressed about a year and a half later.

It was a rough patch in which I considered ending our relationship but really wanted to make it work. He did too so we worked it out.

We then got married maybe a year after that and have been married 8 years in which neither of us has cheated and we have been incredible happy until recently.

Back in October 2012, we got in an argument about our past. The argument got out of hand and sparked all of this past resent toward me due to my transgression. He sits there and ask me question after question about my unfaithful act. He has said very mean things to me and compared me to his mother and other women in his family who he feels I no longer measure up to.

He has told our two sons that “Mommy dated a bum before me”. He makes me feel as if I just cheated on him yesterday. And that makes me feel that our wonderful 8 years of marriage, in which I have been a good wife to him, was all for nothing. He says “You kept it from me for so long, what else can you hide from me for so long?” He has even gotten a paternity test on our two sons. I didn’t mind, I know they are his children, but it hurt that he would doubt me.

The worst part is that he will get really angry and hurt over my transgression, which makes me feel like an awful, adulterous wife, and then try and snap himself out of it and apologizes and apologizes to me for acting so ugly only to start the question/interrogation/demoralization all over again a few days/weeks later.

And the most frustrating part is that he also cheated on me and is operating under a double standard that I find staggering.

It has been going on for roughly four months now. I have given him the option of ending our marriage and he is adamant that he does not want to do so.

I do not know what to do. He has alienated me to the point that I want to withdraw from him, even when he tries to improve our marriage. I have a hard time believing anything he says.

At present, I try to not interact with him at all. I told him that he has succeeded in making me feel as if I just cheated on him yesterday and the guilt makes it difficult to interact with him. I am considering separating from him while we stay under the same roof. Maybe giving him time to see what it will be like to not be married to me will help him decide whether he wants to forgive and get past it for good.

Sorry this is so long, I guess I needed to get lot off my chest. I can't talk about this to my friends and family. I am too embarassed to admit I am having marital problems.

Any suggestions from you ladies would be very appreciated.
 

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It sounds like he has recent reasons to question whether he should trust you. Also, sometimes when someone is cheating or thinking of cheating, that person can project. Has there been anything on his part that you suspected? Or something that you've done that caused him to be suspicious?
 

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Relationships change over time and while people can 'get over' things, it never completely goes away and can resurface when there is weakness in the marriage. I agree with staarz that there is likely a change that has triggered this. As said, it may be suspicion of cheating now (whether it has any basis or not) or some other difficulty in the relationship but it also can be a change in him, for example:

-mid-life stresses. You and your ex were younger and perhaps had more vitality and sexual energy than you and your husband have today. Regardless of the fact that you may have had that same vitality with your husband in earlier days, it is now seen as threatening. Feeling less confident sexually can trigger this kind of jealousy.

-Something now making him feel threatened as a man. Did he lose his job or is there a threat of that? Does he have a new boss or new role that makes him feel less powerful. Is he making less money now or are you having financial pressures as a family?

-Has there been a change in perceived attractiveness either way - eg you start working out and lose weight and he's getting fatter and losing hair, etc? Or is he perceiving you as less attractive now as compared to that time you cheated? If either, he can feel less confident about your attraction to him or he could be angry that this other guy had you "when you were attractive". Sorry this sounds bad but some guys think like this.

-Children/Responsibility. Presumably with children you are both much more responsible now and you might have less 'carefree fun' than prior to marriage. He might have resentment for this and thinking about you cheating with someone else with no strings makes him more angry about today's situation.

Clearly he knows that his behavior is wrong as it flares up and then he apologizes. So this is not about what he thinks but how he feels inside. Don't try to make sense of it rationally but try to understand how he feels.

And it was completely out of line to say those things to your children and you need to call him on that. Context is important here....it's one thing to say something like that as a half-serious joke to your children (children are often interested in how you got together and any other options that you had). it's a completely other thing to raise it to them when he is going through this time of making you feel bad for cheating and to get the kids involved in this problem between you two is really over the line.
 

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I have to say I am REALLY REALLY impressed with the advice I see here.

One thing which is rather important, which I think was glossed over was about the 'argument about the past'.

What was the crux of the argument? Cause it sounds like that opened up all kinds of doors inside of him that used to be firmly closed. One does not DNA test kids lightly. That was a HELL of an argument.

He is feeling VERY insecure in your relationship for some reason.

You stated that you are questioning your relationship. Might I say that if he is swabbing the boy's cheeks, HE is too!

So the question, as always, is why.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you all for your posts. It gives me a lot to think about. He is very apologetic as of late and has confessed some things to me that sheds some light on our situation. I hope it last and we can put this behind us because I miss my husband.

And as much as I would like to be supportive of his mid life issues (Couple, thanks for spelling that out because it fits him to the Tee), its difficult to be supportive when his issues and resentment are directed at me and cause me insurmountable emotional distress.

JCD, as far as the crux of the argument,so many arguments have happened since then so I can't properly remember. I am pretty sure it had something to do with me teasing him about him chasing after me at the beginning of our relationship.
 

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If I were in your husbands shoes, and I brought up your past cheating, the response that would be most constructive, from you to me, is one of empathy.

No defensiveness. No arguing. No right or wrong. No he said she said. No nitpicking of details. No trying to convince me I'm wrong.

Just empathy.

The facts of what he's saying do not matter. The actual words he's using do not matter. He is trying to express feelings to you. Those feelings matter. Yes, he could probably do it in a more constructive manner, but ... he isn't.

Reflect the feelings - "You sound very frustrated. I can see how you would feel that way. In what ways am I making the problem worse for you right now? What are some things I could do to help it get better?"

This is very difficult to do. It may help if you visualize yourself in the past (in regards to this story) as a different person. This will cut out the shame and guilt in your responses.

Don't make it about you vs him. No one wins when you try to be right.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Thanks for your input Saki. Empathy is a good tool to use and I have actually tried to be empathetic at the beginning of all this.

It hurt (it's not easy disallowing the guilt, anger, frustration to seep through), but I tried. Me being empathetic made him feel more comfortable discussing his feelings and thoughts. And those feelings and thoughts and actions became more and more demoralizing (he called me harsh words, compared me to the wives of other men in our family, got paternity tests, etc).

My self-esteem plummeted. My confidence in my ability to be a good wife plummeted. I began to convince myself I could no longer keep him happy. After a while, I no longer had the strength to be empathetic and it did not seem to help him get over anything.

I started to believe he would never get over it and would be much happier without me. I told him as much and he immediately became apologetic and stated he knew he was wrong for treating me so poorly now because of something that happened during the first year of dating.
 

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So in your mind, your marriage has a better chance of lasting if your husband is not willing to share his thoughts and feelings with you?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
No, I agree with you, his feelings do matter and empathy is a great tool when you are able to correctly separate yourself and not allow yourself to be hurt. I guess I failed at that part. But it became pretty evident that he wanted to express his hurt feelings by making me feel shame and guilt.

So I guess my question is this: How is asking him “how he feels” and “how can I help him” constructive when his responses aim to hurt?

Is it constructive to ‘feel that hurt’ for his sake?

Should I not try to separate myself or pretend as if I am ‘a different person’? He wants me to feel bad now, not in the past, which is why he is bringing it up now. Would avoiding the hurt and shame be considered unconstructive?

And if the answer is “yes, it is constructive to feel the shame and hurt that he wants you to feel”, how do I stop myself from being demoralized to the point that I don’t think I will ever be worthy of him?
 

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I am not defending past transgressions on either part, but it seems pretty hypocritical of him to be badgering you into guilt over it, when HE has done the same thing himself! I agree with others, that something has obviously triggered him...my thought is that he has been cheating again himself. Have there been any other behaviors on his side that could be suspicious?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
No, honestly, I cannot think of any signs of infidelity. I really do trust him. Plus we have full disclosure to everything about each other...facebook passwords, email address passwords, home every night, accounted for most of the time.

I really think Couple nailed it with the "midlife issues" she shared in one of the earlier posts.
 

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Could it be, its not the cheating that's bothering him, as much as it is the fact that you waited 1 1/2 years to tell him?

Was he open and told you about his cheating when it happened?
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Yes, he did express that part of his resurfaced hurt and distrust stems from the fact that I kept it hidden. However, he kept some of his past transgression hidden for much longer than 1.5 years. So although I want to be empathetic, it's hard not to have the knee jerk reaction of "pot calling the kettle black".

However, I have learned that doesn't help our relationship. So I am now attempting to make sure my reactions serve the best interest of our relationship and I am seeing that he is trying to do so also.

Thanks for commenting. Any future input would be much appreciated.

Update: Things are better between us as he is now acting like the man I married. My only fear is that he will resort back to his hurtful ways as he has done so in the past. He assures me that he will not and that he knows he was wrong for the hurtful things he has done and said in the past. I am gladdened by this and hopeful. Again, thank you all for your support. I will keep you updated.
 

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Something that betrayed spouses don't get is that forgiveness is an act, not something that just magically happens to you. It seems unfair, but it is something that the BS must put effort into, just as the WS should.

One of the problems here is that your H has some very strong feelings that he expresses by acting like a d!ck. On the one hand, you want him to express those emotions, but on the other hand, no one deserves to be talked down to.

So have your H try this, it worked for me: When he suddenly starts to feel that burst of anger that precedes one of these attacks, have him write down his feelings instead of talking to you. This allows him to get his feelings out. Then later, he can re-read what he wrote when he's calmer and decide if he still feels the need to express those feelings to you directly. If he does, then he should be calmer and therefore more polite.

YMMV, but it worked for me.

And honestly, I would start calling your H on the fact that he's following a double standard. I'm a BS, I know the hurt and pain that we go through, but like I said, forgiveness is an act that requires effort. Sometimes that means actively looking past a transgression, controlling your responses to strong emotions, and learning when to express your feelings in a more constructive way. Your H does not sound like he's expressing his feelings in a constructive way.
 

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Anon101,

I'm going to go out on a limb here. Based on your original explanation of the affairs. It seems like you minimize and justify your affair a little bit. I don't know if your Husband has done the same, I'd guess yes, because it's human nature to minimize or deflect our faults.

There could be some unresolved resentment from the initial affair simply because you never took FULL responsibility and accountability. What I mean by that is, you having the affair has nothing to do with how young your relationship is, or being in a rough patch etc. Those are trying to excuse the betrayal. Owning it is realizing that REGARDLESS of everything that was going on, you did or didn't cheat.

I'll give you an example from the other end of the spectrum. My first marriage was as bad as a marriage could be except no physical abuse towards me (but more than enough mental to make up for it). I didn't have sex with my ex for 18 months. So I didn't have sex for 18 months. I could've justified cheating 1000 times over, but I didn't cheat because it's wrong. (she did cheat though LOL).

I think you both need counseling. It sounds like you do love each other but need to get somethings resolved.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Although I have had many discussion with him in which I say, “I am sorry, I was wrong, I cheated” without offering an excuse, I think I may justify my cheating at times, probably because he did so also. The double standard thing is really getting in the way of me reconciling with his hurt feelings. I love him, so I want to support him, but a part of me wants to yell “Where the H do you get off?”

The thing that scares me is that I was able to forgive him way back when everything first came out. I harbor no harsh feelings. And it hurts that he cannot do the same. Even after 8 good years of marriage.

He said some things the other day that made me realize he is under the assumption that a woman being cheated on is not as emotionally hurtful as a man being cheated on as men cheat more than women. I am not proud to admit this but my first reaction was extreme anger. I got so mad my vision blurred.
 
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