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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've found this forum to be an invaluable resource over the past few months, so I hope there is more good advice out there for me.

Over the summer, I discovered that my husband was having at least an EA with a co-worker who lives halfway across the country from us. He emailed and called her on a daily basis, and saw her at several industry shows over the year. Also, about 6 years ago, he had had a "white knight helping the damsel in distress" -type PA with someone he met through his workplace, though not a co-worker. We never really dealt with this first affair, in part due to the fact that I found out I was pregnant the same week I discovered that affair.

After the first affair DD, we had some hysterical bonding and worthless marriage counseling. It was basically a year and a half that I only sort of remember out of my life, since we had 3 under age 5, one with some developmental issues to boot. I think I felt like we were managing things OK, although I felt an overwhelming desire to try to "fix" myself because I felt that I no longer knew how to get the love back for my husband, or even, really what love meant, exactly. Still not sure if I have that one figured out.

And because I felt like I couldn't find any answers to how to make things better, I emotionally withdrew. I know and accept that I bear responsibility for my actions, although I take no blame for his affairs any longer. My husband and I are both conflict-avoiders by nature. He has always had very low self-esteem, although I didn't define it as such until the past couple of years, which is funny because on the outside you would never guess it. In a very backwards way, I was afraid to tell him how horrible I was feeling about him and us because I thought it would send him into a downward spiral...which it would have, but it also allowed me to avoid the conflict that we needed to face.

In the interim between affairs, we went through unemployment (his) and recovery from alcoholism (his - which is too long to get into but put a lot of his behavior from day one of our relationship twenty years ago through the present into perspective for me). His sobriety is far and away the best thing that ever could have happened for our marriage. By the time it happened, though, there had been several more years of mainly sad, superficial living. Oddly enough, though, we have always gotten along really well, and truthfully still had some good times, too. Our senses of humor are exactly the same...and even through all of this I don't doubt that he is a decent person.

So back to the present day...he found a new job last year...the best job he has ever had bar none. By June, I knew something was wrong, so after some digging I confronted him with evidence (cell phone bill). He didn't even bother really trying to deny it. Said it was definitely an EA and broke it off immediately, letting me see him sending the email. Many good long talks and bonding over the next couple of months. He said he rationalized his behavior because he felt that I was just hanging on till the kids were out of the house, but that I had mentally checked out of the marriage...which is to some extent true. The affair had reached a point where the OW wanted a lot more emotionally out of him than he was willing to give, like wanting him to move to her state and she would divorce her husband - but she didn't want to leave her kids - and that's when he realized he was in an out-of-control situation. (Same exact reason he broke his first affair off himself, which I confirmed with that OW way back when).

So things were going pretty well till the fall. He got himself into IC to work on his boundary issues/self-esteem issues. I committed to being up front with my feelings. Then I hit a wall, and I think it was because sub-consciously, I knew his story didn't add up. Last month, I told him I was done reconciling for good unless he gave me a timeline of exactly everything from the day they met to now, and that I knew there was more that he hadn't told me. Of course, there was...it was a PA as well, and things got started not in May, but a few months earlier when he had been at the job a week. They met for the first time at a show, after exchanging some basic work emails earlier. She invited him out to a strip club (first one he had been to since we were in college, I believe) that night with another co-worker, got drunk and held his hand on the way back to her hotel, and texted him when he got back to his room that he should come back to her hotel (which he didn't even answer, so I guess he had some boundaries at least), then tried to brush it off the next day as "ha ha, sorry, I was so drunk". But any attention that my husband gets is like balm to his low self-esteem, so that was enough to intrigue him and they were off and running.

So we got everything out in the open a couple of weeks ago...I am satisfied that I know what there is to know, since it matches up with the evidence and suspicions that I had. My husband is remorseful, horribly embarrassed...it was torturous for me to watch him giving me all the real details. I almost felt sorry for him. He is now cognizant that he allows people to overstep his boundaries and has issues with not telling them to step off. Willing to do whatever I need. The problem is...I don't know what I need.

Since then, life has gone back to seemingly "normal". Work, family, holiday, school, house stuff, etc.. We do fine during the day...we talk...we have sex...but I am numb, I think. Sometimes I'm kind of angry, but mostly, it feels like I can't feel, and I don't know what to do. Am I trying to rugsweep for my emotional sanity? I'm sure my husband would be thrilled to never talk about all the sordid details ever again, and I don't really want to either, but I don't want to forget it happened. I'm committed to being here to try to repair our marriage, and he knows that, but I just can't feel the joy init. Sex is fine...and he seems to really be enjoying it. He even mentioned something about butterflies in his stomach when he is with me, and it made me sad because that is nowhere near what I am feeling. What I feel is blank.

And just for further info, I am in no way worried about the OW at all. She is a piece of work, and gross to boot, and i think exposing the affair opened my husband's eyes. He recently compared her personality to his selfish, nasty, self-centered ex-stepmother (which I had thought, too, but wisely kept to myself!). He will see her at shows, but if he quits his job and finds another, he would be shooting himself in the foot reputation-wise, and he will still be going to the same shows anyway, as he is in a very specialized field. And at this job, I have access to his email...although he doesn't realize that I do, and I plan to keep it that way. Every interaction I have seen between him and the OW has been professional and cursory, and at about 5% of the volume it was at before. :rolleyes: I've checked his computer for other ways to contact her, and I pay the bills, so I see the cell calls and texts. He unfollowed her on social networks as well, without telling me, so I figure that is all good.

But still...I feel like I will never get back to normal. I can keep going with my regular life, which is a fine life overall, but I feel like I am dead inside. I almost think the worst part is that the sex is just...fine. Like, it all works, IYKWIM, but I feel no great connection any more. That really hurts. And I worry that that might be the absolute wrong thing to tell him if I don't want him to lose hope. Any advice is welcome.
 

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You've been dealt a huge blow - twice. I think you have to give yourself more time - if you just got everything out in the open a couple of weeks ago - you will likely need way more time to fully digest and go through the various stages (shock, anger, etc).

Don't make any rash decisions until you've fully digested what has happened. Don't know what the timeline for this is - it's different for everybody. But definitely two weeks is too short a period to worry about feeling like you will never get back to normal. It could take years for you to get back to a new normal.

Of course, if you KNOW that what he did is a deal breaker then you should start the process of detaching and separating from your husband. Just be upfront with your husband so he understands that your actions are a consequence of his poor decisions.
 

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It could take years for you to get back to a new normal.
The bolded is key. Foolme, the normal you are talking about is misery. Honestly, would you want to go back to that life, knowing what you know now? You want something new, something better.....a new normal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
One of my personality traits is that I am a really logical, pragmatic person. If his affairs were a true dealbreaker, I would be gone. We have a good life; our kids are unknowing and very happy. Our family unit is solid.

But I do wonder if I have lost respect for myself. I certainly did for him, and it is only starting to come back. In my head, this is not a dealbreaker. But I don't know if my heart agrees.
 

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Every interaction I have seen between him and the OW has been professional and cursory, and at about 5% of the volume it was at before. :rolleyes:
What about the interactions that you haven't seen? Those are the ones that are cause for concern. There is no way you will stand any chance at recovery as long as there is contact. That's just the way it is.

If he stays in that job and in contact with her, it's just a matter of time before boom goes the dynamite.
 

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A decent man?

You have an odd impression of decency. A decent man doesn't need to have a parole officer reviewing his messages. A decent man doesn't have multiple affairs during the greater part of a marriage. Nor does he blame his spouse for "checking out".

He could have said he had an affair because you don't wash the windows often enough. And you would have said "That's true, I don't".

Your trepedation is well founded. He has a well worn track record, the means to carry on at the famous out of town shows, an understanding wife who is fearful of losing a marriage. He's in heaven,

How long have you been in counseling? You need to work on yourself. And he needs long term counsling too. When you've gone through counseling, tell your husband you would love nothing more than to be in a committed relationship.

Tell him you chose him to be part of that relationship but he let you down too many times. You will continue to put forth all your effort into the relationship. But the first sign of another affair will be the death knell to the marriage.
 

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I knew there was more that he hadn't told me. Of course, there was...it was a PA as well
So after you found out about the affair, and he admitted to it, he still didn't tell you nearly anything. He omitted the small detail about it being a PA. He admitted to only what he figured you already knew and maybe sweetened the pot with a few more insignificant details. Your husband is a repeat cheater, and a liar. In addition to his numerous other issues.

and texted him when he got back to his room that he should come back to her hotel (which he didn't even answer, so I guess he had some boundaries at least),
How do you know he didn't respond to her text and he didn't go back to her hotel room? Because you didn't see a text on his phone? Texts can be deleted. Because he TOLD you? This man has repeatedly lied to you. There is no reason to believe anything he tells you.

So we got everything out in the open a couple of weeks ago...I am satisfied that I know what there is to know, since it matches up with the evidence and suspicions that I had.
You think you know everything. You thought you knew everything before until more evidence came out, and you confronted, and he only then admitted that there was more. There's a pattern here, do you see it?

My husband is remorseful, horribly embarrassed..
He's embarassed and he's remorseful for being caught. If you hadn't caught him, he'd still be at it.

Am I trying to rugsweep for my emotional sanity
Yes. And doing an admirable job of it, but deep down you know the truth which is why everything feels so wrong.

And just for further info, I am in no way worried about the OW at all. She is a piece of work, and gross to boot
So what, she's a gross piece of work. He screwed her, didn't he?

Good idea to keep monitoring him. My guess is the only reason you haven't found anything is because a) it's only a matter of time before he does it again or 2) he's got emails and/or another phone that you don't know about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
All good points, Sharkeey, and nothing that I haven't thought in my own mind.

I guess I would have to say I am satisfied with the information I have from him about the affair, simply because he told me so much I didn't know when I asked for the timeline. Sure, he could be fibbing about not going back to her room the very first night, but since he admitted to physical contact shortly after that, I don't know what his rationale would be to lie. Nothing that he told me in December was easy to hear.

Believe me, I'm not going forward with my eyes closed. I've looked for a burner phone more than once, and found nothing. His workplace is not private at all, so any phone calls between them there are heard by many...thus explaining the hours and hours that showed up on our cell phone bills this spring. Our current cell phone bills/texts are clean. His computer and his phone are clean of any unexplained text programs. There's not much more I can do, other than check his email and other possible avenues like LinkedIn when I feel unsure, and he has been very upfront with giving me access.

I should also mention that I have done a lot of Internet...research...more like detective work...for various sites. I know how to track people down, if necessary, and I've checked things to my satisfaction. At some point, if there is to be reconciliation, I have to trust again. I guess what I want to know is what a "normal" path for trusting is for a BS, and what I and he can do to get good feelings back and if it is normal for me to feel so unsure. Not looking to back the naive, innocent feelings, but the better, stronger feelings I see people talk about sometimes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
A decent man?

You have an odd impression of decency. A decent man doesn't need to have a parole officer reviewing his messages. A decent man doesn't have multiple affairs during the greater part of a marriage. Nor does he blame his spouse for "checking out".
Well, it is true that I check his email pretty often...I do it to reassure myself, but it is getting less frequent as time goes on. He has given me access to his passwords for everything else. I believe that is a good and even recommended action, correct? His affairs comprised about 13 months out of almost 20 year marriage, so I wouldn't say it was the majority.

He could have said he had an affair because you don't wash the windows often enough. And you would have said "That's true, I don't".

Your trepedation is well founded. He has a well worn track record, the means to carry on at the famous out of town shows, an understanding wife who is fearful of losing a marriage. He's in heaven,

How long have you been in counseling? You need to work on yourself. And he needs long term counsling too. When you've gone through counseling, tell your husband you would love nothing more than to be in a committed relationship.
He is in counseling to work on his self-esteem issues, and to better understand his inability to set appropriate boundaries. A lot of his behaviors were solidified during his alcoholic years...i.e., during most of his adult life. Believe me, I am understanding on one hand and I roll my eyes on the other. I come in contact with attractive men yet I can shut them down if I feel they are overstepping their bounds. I don't feel the need to sleep with people just because they think I'm attractive, too. I am not in counseling. I am not against it, I just don't know what it will do for me. I have committed to not avoiding conflict any longer, and I have been doing a good job. I find myself at a crossroads where I feel I should be honest about my ambivalence, but I am not sure how to voice it constructively or if it is the best thing to even voice, if it will go away after time passes and we continue to move forward.
 

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So what are you asking us?

I can imagine that you will discover the same thing later on that he is having another affair. He realizes that you will grumble a bit and things will go on as usual so in a sense he isn't afraid of any consequences.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So what are you asking us?

I can imagine that you will discover the same thing later on that he is having another affair. He realizes that you will grumble a bit and things will go on as usual so in a sense he isn't afraid of any consequences.
Well, if you think that is what I have to look forward to, in addition to any thoughts on the questions I posted in my previous comments, some actual concrete suggestions would be welcome. If you have been in my situation, how did you handle it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Thinking about it more as I sit here at family movie night...

Maybe my question boils down to this: how do I carry on with life as it needs to be carried on with (kids need to be fed, house needs to be cleaned, jobs need to be done, snow needs to be plowed), yet NOT rugsweep?

I'm not going to kick him out of the house just to prove I can. Why confuse and devastate my kids for no solid reason? I don't believe he is carrying on right at this very moment. And he was aware in December that I am willing to divorce should there be any more lies of omission. I laid it all out very specifically for him.

Withhold sex? Is that productive or destructive? It's not like I don't get something out it. I've thought about saying let's just take a break on that while I get my head in order.

Demand he quit his job? We lived through a year of unemployment, and the thought of no house and no food is enough to make me second-guess that. I mentioned above why his quitting wouldn't solve a lot anyway, and I don't believe the OW was truly the heart of our problems, but more his need for approval and ego boosting. She IS gross, which has become more than apparent to him, and I don't worry about her as a rival in any way. I am secure in my own skin.

So...what then? How to express my doubts without kneecapping reconciliation? My H is working on his low self-esteem, but I have trepidations about laying it ALL out on the table. Maybe just expressing doubts but not being specific?
 

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You just got it all sorted to your satisfaction last month, right? Honestly, even one month is a bit soon to go back to "normal"...or even some semblance of normal. When he told you he feels butterflies, honestly, if you didn't tell him you don't feel that, you should have. Yea, I get that he has self esteem issues, but that is no excuse to cheat, which I believe you well understand. You need to be completely honest about this. You feel dead inside and it's going to take time. He's going to have to just deal with it, if you are going to continue for reconciliation. When will things be "normal" again? When YOU are ready for that to happen, and not a moment sooner.

Also, you said you have access to everything, etc... have you checked for chat apps/texting apps on his phone? Those apps don't use the texting/phone minutes. They use the data, and data doesn't itemize.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
You just got it all sorted to your satisfaction last month, right? Honestly, even one month is a bit soon to go back to "normal"...or even some semblance of normal. When he told you he feels butterflies, honestly, if you didn't tell him you don't feel that, you should have. Yea, I get that he has self esteem issues, but that is no excuse to cheat, which I believe you well understand.
Yep, you are totally right that I do understand that now. I am sympathetic to a point because he has always been that way...low self-esteem, I mean. It was always there, though I couldn't have put into words, and the way it manifested itself changed as we matured over our lives. But I don't accept it as an excuse. He was unhappy; well, I sure as **** was too - yet I did not cheat.

Also, you said you have access to everything, etc... have you checked for chat apps/texting apps on his phone? Those apps don't use the texting/phone minutes. They use the data, and data doesn't itemize.
You betcha...I've checked it all and even for some things I didn't know existed! If I am being duped, which I know is always possible, it's not because of my lack of checking.

I think I feel at loose ends also because I am a fixer. When I identify a problem (that I've decided not to avoid ;) ), I want to go at it like a bulldog. Part of why I felt so despondent not being able to "fix" everything the first time around...and I see now it was a losing battle since he wasn't doing his part. Now that he is, I want to feel different right away. I know it isn't realistic. Just feeling like if we go back to business as usual, what message does it send? But my nature is to carry on with life. Must be the stoic German in me.
 
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