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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
**WARNING: This is long. Please hear me out and bear with me**

Since the few days of being in this forum and hearing so many betrayed spouses not letting their partners off the hook – as usual (no disrespect is intended and I’ll explain my sarcasm later) - it’s brought up a whole load of negative and bitter feelings from my own relationship. I really have to thank Acorn for his spin off post because it helped me recognize what it could feel like to at least be understood from both sides of a story.

I'm posting here trusting that there is a level of maturity and acceptance about what happened that caused the problems in your own relationships in the first place. I’d also like to think that many of you have learnt a lot about forgiveness that I can learn from you too.

Background
I’ve been with my husband for 20 years now and we have 3 beautiful children aged 12, 9 and 7. This post is where I was at up until yesterday and I had a BIG aha moment last night. It seems to have opened up what’s been making it so hard for me to deal with the problems we’ve faced over the years.

What happened?
In our first few years, my husband often spoke to me about his group of his friends from school that were very close. I actually really liked hearing it because the way he told the stories made him really happy and it was almost like he wanted to be back there. The group was a mixture of boys and girls and one girl in particular seemed closer to him that the anyone else in it. I think she knew him the longest. I had so much admiration for the bond he and that group of friends had that I actually was looking forward to meeting them.

So when I heard that this particularly special female friend had been in touch and wanted to meet him, I translated that to mean she wanted to meet me too. Like I said, I’d heard so much about her that I was excited to meet her. That wasn’t quite what it meant.

I started to notice that for the next few times she got in touch, she only wanted to see him; helping her to choose a car, going round for birthday drinks, going for a walk in the park where she coincidently stands up and shakes her bum in his face which he found amusing and made a point to include in is recollections of their time together. I noticed when she did come to see him she’d wait downstairs and when she called once I answered the phone and the way she asked to speak to him it was like I didn’t exist.

Now as this goes on I am feeling more and more put out and try to address this with him. I’d cry a lot convincing myself that I didn’t have the right to feel jealous and left out because she was there first. I wrote down my feelings to try and help. I’d write to him to explain how I felt. We’d speak about it so he knew how much it bothered me.

His response was always the same “she’s just a friend. We know each other since we were little. But I’m with you ”. That was it. He never seemed to see where I was coming from because in his eyes he had done nothing wrong. That’s what always seemed to equate that my feelings didn’t count on this one. What I feel doesn’t matter – I don’t matter.

To help myself I tried speaking to his mum and sister in law about it. I was hoping that they would understand as women – not that I was much of one at the time I was 17 or 18. I wasn’t accusing him of being unfaithful. To me that was having sex with someone outside of a relationship. I had no idea about the different levels and versions of being unfaithful. I didn’t see it as that at the time. I did feel he was disloyal to me.

Anyway, when I spoke to his mum and sister they both seemed to back him up and brush what I was trying to explain to one side, “she’s just a friend, they’ve known each other since they were little”. After a few more attempts over what was years on and off, of trying to be heard we finally had a big argument and I realized it was better not to address it with him or anyone else again. What was the point. He reluctantly said he wouldn’t make contact with her anymore because I didn’t like it but that didn’t quite happen.

When I had long since closed the book, my sister in law and I were talking. I don’t even know how the topic came round but she tells me that this friend was someone my husband fancied back then but the friend wasn’t interested. Being that they were children I doubt that this was true although found it very interesting that after all of my time agonizing about it, my sister in law volunteers this information.

Over the years his mention of the friend has come and gone in conversation or just so happens to be in the area. She’s always managed to get in touch with him somehow and apparently my husband has wished her a happy birthday most years. I dealt with this by making very little acknowledgement when he’s mention the contact and swiftly change the subject. I pretend that I’m happy for them both. It was and is easier for me to just hide my feelings and pretend I was and am cool with it.

When my feelings REALLY didn’t matter

Life goes on and several challenges and deaths happen before I crumble and become a BAD person. The final straw was losing my mum.

I’m not going to talk much about this because to be honest, I feel that because of what I did, my feelings don’t count even more so. In an attempt to escape from my reality, I chose to have an emotional affair. I know it was wrong and I’ve gone through all the emotions of deep regret, beating myself up, telling my husband and dancing with guilt and grief. From time to time it comes up again like now. Each time I hope to learn a better lesson that helps me heal in some way.

So I really don’t need what often turns out as an onslaught of being held like a punching bag on a hook. **This of course was me taking sides with the betrayed spouses even though I was resenting that they get let off the hook for not meeting their partners’ needs. **I still wasn’t getting why I felt so much resentment with this point.

I thought I was doing really well accepting what I had done and obsessed about trying to understand why. I noticed that what I did created a black hole of instant blame that took away from every single thing I felt and went through that contributed to what I did.

I took it that I lost my right to grieve, I lost my right to have feelings of jealousy, I lost the right to want to be hugged and showed that I mattered, I lost the right to be given any affection and attention as a wife is usually supposed to, I disrespected the loved ones I lost because I was so set on controlling and supressing my feelings, I lost the right to take my own life because it wouldn’t be fair on my children or husband.

Even losing myself wasn’t enough to bring any form of consideration as to why I did what I did. I lost everything as a result of it. Of course these are all completely selfish thoughts and it’s very apparent that when this happens, all focus and sympathy should be on making it up to your spouse. I put up and shut up.

Doing my best with what I’ve got

Year before last my husbands’ friend came back on the scene again, she’d moved near to where we live and he’s been round to her house a couple times. Again the occasional meeting, talking and spending time together starts.

She now has children and had invited us to one of their birthday parties. I really did hold it down well and went along with our children. She actually greeted me as if we were old friends and I politely smiled as she hugged me then said something like, “we haven’t seen or spoken to each other since…???” and there you have it. Never. We have never had a conversation before in the whole time. There was never any interest and she was never with both of us for that to happen. I got the message loud and clear from both of them. What I feel doesn’t matter – I don’t matter.

Last year we move out of the area completely and have a house warming to bless the house. Half way through the night she turns up at the door with her children. I was LIVID. The anger I felt because of the disrespect is like pure fire that’s so hot it feels cold. I could not believe she was in my house. I had no idea he invited her to come and yet… I held it down. Why show my hand? I’d been doing so well so far. Besides, that doesn’t work because she “is just a friend and they’ve known each other since they were little…”

The following day he goes on about how pleased he was she made the effort to come so far all on her won with her children. He sneakily asks me how she was with me. Not how did I feel about her being there or any words to that effect.

That in itself tells me he knew for a fact that it would bother me but he went ahead and invited her anyway.

I told him we didn’t speak much – she tried to make small conversation, even sang a song for us. She’s a singer. It’s all too late. I told him not to concern himself with me. I’m doing alright then walked off.

The fall out
When I finally called it a day on our marriage due to seeing the same problems of feeling neglected in general, our argument came back to 2 things: For him it was my betrayal of him and for me it was his betrayal of me.

Even though my biggest complaint has always been that I want affection and attention and when I’m not getting enough of it, I feel emotionally neglected. I just wanted to matter.

What dawned on me last night is that since he never stuck up for me from the beginning of where I felt betrayed, I believed that deep down I didn’t matter. If it wasn’t the friend getting the attention, it’s been the computer games he plays or something else. I can understand why he feels like whatever he does isn’t enough.

Back to betrayed spouses
I’ve only just recognized that my sarcasm, jealousy and resentment of betrayed spouses has been so deep because I never really dealt with how I felt betrayed the whole time. I’d been getting so sick and tired of hearing all the cries of “what he or she did to me” and how hurt the betrayed were that I wasn’t allowing or admitting to myself to feeling the same. I willingly entered the black hole and held my hands up to my mistake regardless of anything else. I’ve wasted so much time and energy on this and am starting to feel free as I let it go.

I’m so sorry
I know you don’t know me although feel the need to say that I’m really sorry for all the negative feelings I projected to those who were betrayed because I actually do know what it feels like to be betrayed. I’ve been letting my husband off the hook so long myself. I’d genuinely believed that I don’t matter even to the point that I still have leftover feelings that I have no real rights to be asking for attention. I’m starting to work on that belief.

What has made it hard to come full circle until now is that he’s never really seen the emotional neglect as a betrayal, he's not shown real remorse or even said sorry.

He said once that he understands where I was coming from although I felt his insincerity and his actions prove otherwise.

I can breathe

It means now that I can forgive myself and him for all that has happened. Holding onto it has done more harm and hurt than good. None of us win this way and I do believe that we have to hurt before we can heal.

It also means that, at last, I can finally matter.

Thank you so much for sticking with me if you read this far.

I would love to learn and experience what it feels like to truly matter to myself.

If you’ve had this experience, how did you come to terms with the betrayal to the point of forgiveness and letting go?

How did you make yourself matter whether you stayed in the relationship or not?
 

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Thats a very good question TFC.

The answer people may want to hear is "I dumped the b!tch and took back my self respect"

But honestly even after I did that I still felt insignificant and not in control of my life.

Even know while I've gotten past what happened to me I will never forgive the actions as for me, forgiveness means accepting what they did was okay or understandable.

I think after someone can face their situation with clarity and abandon many of the insecurities and BS rationalizations and make a decision, then they'll be able to matter in their own lives again, rather than going with the flow or with whats convenient.

Its really not as easy as someone might think though.
 

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Okay, I am not sure whether you betrayed your spouse or not because that really matters. From my experience, every wrong I ever did was magnified once my spouse had an affair - to justify her affair. So I will preface my remarks with that in mind and assume you did not cheat. It is one thing to fight WITHIN a relationship and quite another to OUTSIDE the relationship. Once that happens, it is all up in the air.

I can oddly identify with your spouse in your example and it shows that there is a long interplay in relationships. I knew we had issues in our relationship but every relationship has some issues. When we went out together, being an extrovert, I would get energized by the energy of those around me and get animated in discussions. Afterwards I would ask my spouse if she minded and she would always say no - that she enjoyed our discussions.

So things carried on - I guess I could have been more considerate of her feelings at times but, quite frankly, if she told me she wanted to speak up - I would have backed off. I always felt that we are adults and if someone has a problem with something then we have an obligation to speak up. I am using this as an example because when she left, one of the things she said was she did not like the way I dominated conversations.

Point being - I will take my fair shareof responsibility for failures in relationship but not for the affair. I have flaws - no doubt. But I did not know she had a love interest on the side waiting in the wings for her. This is simply not playing fair.

How was I to know how unhappy she was if she did not tell me?
Also, sometimes, like your husband, my wife would get upset with some of my actions but I felt there was nothing wrong with what I was doing - so I felt it was her issue to deal with - because ultimately I have to live according to my conscience. BUT if she told me that she was thinking about an affair with someone - I would have stopped everything and went into counsellng with her.
But that choice was taken away from me and I consider what my STBXW did was like a self destructive person who hurt everyone including themselves just to get her point across.

Sad...

I was not that bright when it came to relationships - except for my kids.
 

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Timeforchange,
You do matter. We all do. Your H neglected you emotionally for years and its taken its toll on you.
I am a BS and I'm not going to get into the debate of why people cheat, but all I can say is, you know you did wrong, now it's time to move on.
Your marriage is over, this is a time of new discoveries and time to renew your life. You can't change the past but you can now make your future what you want.
I wish you well.
And fwiw it sounds like your H was in some kind of EA/PA for years. Sounds like your marriage didn't really stand much of a chance from the start!
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Even know while I've gotten past what happened to me I will never forgive the actions as for me, forgiveness means accepting what they did was okay or understandable.

I used to think the same until I realized the hold it had over me NOT to forgive. Also what if my husband never admits that what he did was unfair to me? It's equally unfair for me to have him on a hook for the rest of my life.

I think after someone can face their situation with clarity and abandon many of the insecurities and BS rationalizations and make a decision, then they'll be able to matter in their own lives again, rather than going with the flow or with whats convenient.

Its really not as easy as someone might think though.

I hear you and agree. I think this part is where I'm at.[/COLOR]
Okay, I am not sure whether you betrayed your spouse or not because that really matters. From my experience, every wrong I ever did was magnified once my spouse had an affair - to justify her affair.

I did betray him. I had an emotional affair about 9 years into the relationship although at the time. I hadn't done it to get back at him. It was as a result of what I was going through at the time. When I tried to understand why is the point that I started to trace back what was missing for me. I could have become an alcoholic or drug addict but I chose this form of escape.

So things carried on - I guess I could have been more considerate of her feelings at times but, quite frankly, if she told me she wanted to speak up - I would have backed off. I always felt that we are adults and if someone has a problem with something then we have an obligation to speak up.

I agree and know that sometimes when one partner speaks the other isn't always listening. As I wrote, I'd been telling him how I felt for years and it made no difference - because he chose only to see it his way. I didn't then go and run to find someone to get my own back. I put my feelings to one side and kept working on our relationship. I always took charge when I felt things weren't right to help the relationship be better.

Point being - I will take my fair shareof responsibility for failures in relationship but not for the affair. I have flaws - no doubt.

The acknowledgement is all that is needed because it shows some form of remorse. What we do as a result to make things right determines how sincere we are about that remorse. It is sad that in your case it's too late.

How was I to know how unhappy she was if she did not tell me?
Also, sometimes, like your husband, my wife would get upset with some of my actions but I felt there was nothing wrong with what I was doing - so I felt it was her issue to deal with - because ultimately I have to live according to my conscience.

What was it that let you know she was upset if she didn't tell you? Thinking that it was your partners issue to deal with is when "we" goes back to "I" and I think that became what lead me to go into denial about what I was experiencing. All the advice and books were telling me to deal with it because the problem was mine NOT ours or his.

BUT if she told me that she was thinking about an affair with someone - I would have stopped everything and went into counsellng with her.
Timeforchange,
You do matter. We all do. Your H neglected you emotionally for years and its taken its toll on you.
I am a BS and I'm not going to get into the debate of why people cheat, but all I can say is, you know you did wrong, now it's time to move on.
Your marriage is over, this is a time of new discoveries and time to renew your life. You can't change the past but you can now make your future what you want.
I wish you well.
And fwiw it sounds like your H was in some kind of EA/PA for years. Sounds like your marriage didn't really stand much of a chance from the start!
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Thanks daisy.

I've never laid it out like this to anyone before and it's a relief to be able to just talk about it. I know that regardless there will still be people reading this that will home straight in on the paragraph of what I did and ignore the rest of what I said. That's the mistake I'd been making too.

I'm beginning to come to terms with the same conclusion that maybe I didn't stand a chance. It would just have been nice to have a proper discussion with him about it once and for all.

I have no idea if that will ever happen so yes do have to start moving on with peace. I've known far too many exes who still hold a grudge about what the ex did. I really prefer not to live that way.

Thanks all so far for sharing your thoughts with me x
 
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