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Kind18, Ready2Change, SteveLW, Taz, Traveler
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Original Post (Thread Starter)
by PeterB
PeterB
We are in our 30s, have been married for 10 years and have a 3 year old son. We share life goals and have had great moments throughout our marriage but she has been unhappy, mainly at what she perceives as me treating her bad. I have been unhappy too as I felt mentally tortured by her. Sex has not been great because of some problems I have had personally. I have had mental health problems (sporadic depression) for the last 5 years. I feel I have come out of it now.

Two months ago wife said she is getting a divorce. She has not filed yet and we are living in the same house. But she is overflowing with bitterness and is trying to find strength by talking to a few friends and a counsellor who has damaged her views about me by validating her thoughts about me.

I pleaded for a week after which I turned a corner. I focused on improving myself and tried to follow LRT. It seems to have had positive effects on her but she keeps relapsing, usually referencing back to detailed highly one-sided diary entries. She wrote the entries during major fights/disagreements and she has kept the diary secret from me all these years. I strongly feel she talks to the counsellor only as a defense mechanism against the positive influences I have introduced for our relationship (If it helps - she is a very pretty woman and the counsellor is an older male. Knowing the way she interacts, I am confident that he is under her full control).

She is also having an affair with someone over the phone. She demonstrates very suspicious behavior, and someone informed me that he recently saw her on two dates with a guy she has known for a very long time. She met this guy while traveling and she changed suddenly soon after meeting him. He reported that her behavior was consistent with a physical relationship, although I don't know to what extent. I do not want to bring it up with her as it can jeopardize a patch up. I assure you that the strength she gets to divorce and screw up our son's life, is from this guy.

I strongly feel she is having a severe mid-life crises, as she keeps telling me that I wasted her life and now needs to make up for it.

I wanted some advice on how to deal with certain situations that I land up in. She has been highly provocative but I have maintained calm and do not get angry. But the accusations are usually preposterous and situations hard to handle.

- What should I do if she sends me these long messages calling out specific incidents from the past?
- What should I do if she messages me telling me how I have treated her bad all these years and why it's clear to her that I never loved her.
- When she says that she cannot get over the past.
- When she says that my changes are an act meant to prevent the divorce.
Liked Replies
by Kind18
Kind18
Quote
Getting this book. Can you inform if it is okay for WW to see this on my bedside, or should I keep it secret by getting ebook/audiobook?

Absolutely not. You’re not getting the book to manipulate her, you’re getting it to improve your mindset. Why on earth would you let her see it? Even if it wasn’t deliberate but she happened to see it on the bed stand she’ll think “oh he’s left that there for me to see, he’s trying to prove he’s worthy, how weak is this guy, his changes are temporary.”

Get the audiobook. It’s for you and you alone, nothing to do with her.
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by LH19
LH19
Originally Posted by SteveLW
Peter, I was someone that was able to self-improve and I'm over 4 years with no regression. But I couldn't have done that without IC. I believe we can all improve and become better by putting in the work! But the key is not to do that for anyone else or to get someone else to change. The key is to do it for yourself! Because you WANT to be better and become the best version of yourself that you can be.

Also, to ultimatums rarely work and usually backfire on the LBS. Most LBSs want to save their marriage to the point that a WAS breaking or ignoring the ultimatum gets swept under the rug and just makes them look weak. Setting boundaries and sticking to them are way better.

"If this is done, I will do this action!" Much better to focus on what you can control (yourself) and not try to control what you cannot (the actions of others).
SteveLW and traveler are towing the DB company line. I call this cookie cutter advice which is not wrong. I personally give my opinions on a case by case basis based on certain situations and a feel for the LBS as a person. What they want you to do is detach/GAL/180 and if she cheats again you divorce her and move on. Your secret boundary was broken so time to move on and they sleep like a baby at night. What I am suggesting is you make it clear that if she goes sees OM she will no longer be married to you anymore. A boundary clearly stated and the consequences that come when broken. I would not recommend it if I didn’t think you would follow through. If you don’t follow through and she breaks it is game over. Now having said all that if she is hell bent on seeing OM then she’s going to do it regardless. If she’s on the fence a stated strong boundary may deter her from seeing him. So much of this stuff is about timing. Most peoples regrets on this board including myself is that they were weak little bitche$ during their situations. Don’t have those regrets later on down the line. If a PA is a dealbreaker then let her know it.
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by Cadet
Cadet
Originally Posted by SteveLW
WASs, and WSs in particular, do not like logic or reality.
Actually they are very logical - If you think the right direction is left - they go right.

The moon is up in the sky - they look down.

Just think opposite.

You know 180!
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by Kind18
Kind18
Hi Peter. Welcome to the forum.

Quote
Should I tell her something like "I think we should stop having sex"? What if she asks "Why?" in response?

Q: If you were in her shoes, how would this come across?
A: You would think she is weak as [censored].

As SteveLW says, women can’t be in a healthy relationship with men they don’t respect.

Don’t go out of your way to tell her anything. But next time she tries to initiate sex, say “I don’t want sex with someone who is having an affair.” Make sure it’s a stark, clear boundary but don’t dwell on it or get pulled into a discussion. Immediately end the discussion, or even go to sleep/go out.

She might be enjoying sex with you physically atm, but she has zero respect for you because you’re willing to do that in the knowledge she’s with someone else.

And don’t do this to punish her or teach her a lesson… do it because you have self respect and boundaries.
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by SteveLW
SteveLW
I think Kind is dead on. That is how you let her know you know about the affair. (Remember what R2C said, do not tell her what you know, or how you know, only that you know!)

Next time she tries to initiate sex you stop her and say what Kind said above. Now she knows you know. When she presses you, you stop the conversation with a simple "I know what is going on." And then walkaway, leave, go to sleep, say you are busy and cannot continue the discussion.

I am not sure if you have been told this information, but there are practical reasons you do not tell her what or how you know. WASs in affairs aren't prone to end the affair just because you know about it. But once they know HOW you know, they will go further into secrecy to keep you from knowing more. For instance, a lot of LBSs find out about their WAS's by snooping on the WAS's phone. So when a LBS gives in and tell the WAS "I saw the messages on your phone." Guess what happens? The passcode gets changed, and/or the cheaters switch how they communicate (they stop texting and use Snapchat, etc). There is nothing to be gained by telling the WAS how and what you know. So the best approach is just to say "I know". And leave it there.

My wife took this to the next level. She would install a messaging app when it was safe, message with the OM, and then not only delete the messages, but then uninstalled the messaging app that was used. Do not underestimate the lengths a cheating spouse will go to in order to hide their activities.
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by may22
may22
Hi Peter,

I wanted to chime in on a few things.

My husband also had a long-distance A. I think that the limerence stage of a long-distance A lasts a lot longer than if they have the opportunity to see each other frequently. My H's affair lasted about two years, followed by about nine months of stopping and then starting talking to her again, then another six months of moping around feeling sorry for himself before I feel like he really rededicated himself to our M. So yes, a marathon, not a sprint.

My advice to you is first of all, spend some time really thinking about what *you* want and what matters to you. What are you okay with, and what aren't you okay with? I see people asking you what you'll do if you find out she is in a PA, or if she goes to visit him-- I urge you to think this all through very carefully. Don't just take an extreme knee-jerk reaction and move on (PA = D or you'll take her back no matter what). Talking to an L or a Ded friend can help take the fear out of the path of separation or divorce. Go down all the various paths of what the future might look like, and decide where your boundaries are, what your core values are and how to align your life with your values, and what you need in your life to be healthy and happy. Please know that this looks different for different people. You know yourself the best and need to figure this out for yourself. it might take time. That's okay.

Next, you need to stop worrying about what she's doing and thinking and just LET IT ALL GO. Some of the things you've said about your wife make you sound kind of controlling, like how to stop her from talking to her IC who you perceive to be threatening to your M, how to make her be more considerate about your son, etc. You control you. That's it. If she decides she wants to end the A and reconcile with you, that is a choice she will need to make on her own, not because you coerced her into it. Just let go and focus on yourself and your son.

As others have said, same with spending time parsing through things she says to you-- it means nothing. She probably is torn and conflicted. That's her job to worry about, not yours.

I know how you feel because I've been there-- spouse still living in the house, says they want out but not going anywhere, in a long distance affair. In some ways I think this situation is harder because you have to see them every day so you have to be DBing all the time-- no real breaks. They're not making the decision so either you have to either make it for them by kicking them out or moving out yourself, or you can wait it out. It's HARD.

Finally, re: respect-- if you respect yourself, people will either respect you back or you won't give a flying F if they don't. Trying to parse out actions that will result in your wife respecting you more is just focusing on her again. Stop trying to do things that are aimed at manipulating her into doing or feeling a certain way. Again-- you have to let go and focus on yourself, not on her. Also, I just have to say-- PEOPLE can't be in healthy relationships with PEOPLE they don't respect. I don't think this is a woman needs to respect a man kind of thing. That feels gross. Partners need to respect each other, period.
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by SteveLW
SteveLW
Kind, the reason I am a proponent of validation is because getting good at practicing can help a LBS separate their emotions from their responses. I like to view emotional responses as reactions. It is the Option A in your scenario, the reaction that comes instinctually. Validation can help get you to a place where you RESPOND with an option B.

Validation is not an end all be all. But it is a great tool for getting to a place where you respond rather than react! And it is especially a great tool for right-fighters.
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by Traveler
Traveler
The decision "If she PAs, I will divorce her" is a boundary. It controls Peter's behavior.

The announcement "If you PA again, I'll divorce you!" is not needed to control Peter's behavior nor to enforce his boundary. The primary reason he would tell her is to attempt to influence or manipulate her.

Originally Posted by HappyPanda
Most boundaries (yours and other people’s) aren’t explicitly stated. Usually, there’s no need to voice a boundary unless it’s overstepped or violated.

Originally Posted by GoodMenProject
When you cause a person to act out of fear—the fear of retribution—you turn that person into a slave. Threats make people give in to your demands when they don’t want to, because you make the pain of refusing greater than the pain of giving in.
1 member likes this
by SteveLW
SteveLW
Peter, I was someone that was able to self-improve and I'm over 4 years with no regression. But I couldn't have done that without IC. I believe we can all improve and become better by putting in the work! But the key is not to do that for anyone else or to get someone else to change. The key is to do it for yourself! Because you WANT to be better and become the best version of yourself that you can be.

Also, to ultimatums rarely work and usually backfire on the LBS. Most LBSs want to save their marriage to the point that a WAS breaking or ignoring the ultimatum gets swept under the rug and just makes them look weak. Setting boundaries and sticking to them are way better.

"If this is done, I will do this action!" Much better to focus on what you can control (yourself) and not try to control what you cannot (the actions of others).
1 member likes this
by may22
may22
Hi Peter,

In a lot of ways I have forgiven. I'm not actively angry. Day to day we are great. I just haven't been able to totally let it go. I know that this is something I need to do for myself but it is a process and I don't want to force anything. I don't think he's forgiven me for the SSM either, fully-- we haven't really explored that together in therapy yet, and I think he needs to own his part of why our M was the way it was before the A too. Lots of work in front of us still, IMHO.

I know exactly what you mean about the difference between the PA part in the past and in the present or future. We were in a similar situation, where my H hadn't actually seen the woman for several months when he told me the full truth (that it was a PA; previously he had insisted it was only an EA). I felt that i could forgive him eventually for what had happened in the past but not if it happened again; previously, he could tell himself whatever he wanted about things I didn't know not hurting me, or this idea he had that I didn't/wouldn't really care because I didn't love him that way anymore, etc.-- but for him to go out and sleep with her again knowing how much it would hurt me was a totally different thing that I didn't think I could forgive. And, news flash, he had a trip planned to her city and told me it was necessary for him to break it off with her in person (everyone here was like BS BS BS!!!) and he did, and then told me months later that he had slept with her that one last time. I was devastated and actually this is a part of why I'm still not able to forgive. I feel that if he'd been able to just break it off with her and completely stop cold turkey once he made the decision to stay, it would be easier for me to trust and forgive him, but I do think an A is like a drug and it took him months to finally end it and stop all the lying and finally truly recommit to the M and end his A. All that time was just limbo and it was awful. He is very sorry for all of that but thinks that it was the path he needed to take in order to get to where we we are today. I'm like, good for you, but you also need to recognize that there was a lot of damage done during those months that I'm still dealing with. (While I am grateful every day to have my family intact and to have the opportunity to work on my M with my H, I also do think that reconciliation and piecing is very hard too. There is really no magic pill once the betrayal is there. You will either heal alone or heal together, but the healing process is tough even when you're trying to work through it together.)

It is 100% true that you can't R with someone until the AP is completely out of the picture, your spouse wants to be there, and is committed to the M. That can't happen if they are still in contact at all with the AP and even after it ends it will take time for them to get mentally back in the game (if they even do). And above all-- their head space and commitment to the M, wanting back in, wanting out, total confusion, whatever--that is all their work and you can't control any of it. So that is why I am really urging you to continue the process of letting go of the illusion of control and refocusing that energy on yourself and what matters to you. And, just noting that I thought I would not take him back if he slept with her one last time and in fact I did. I just restarted IC and she said she thinks I maybe first need to focus on forgiving myself for making some of the choices I did, like taking him back. It is all hard no matter what, I think.

One last thought to throw out there-- I do think that there are differences when the WS does not actually leave, though they are threatening to, or carrying on an A. For those whose WSs walked out and didn't look back, it might seem easy to tell Peter to divorce her if A, B, or C... but I do think it is a lot harder than it may seem from the outside to be the one to take that final step of breaking up your family, even if your spouse was the one who really Fed it all up. Peter, you might want to read some of the situations of others who were in IHS. This might be why both Steve and I are harping on boundaries vs. control. When you live with someone, that gets tested daily and you have to be both ultra conscious of your own boundaries and whether or not they're being tested or crossed, and self-aware enough to always be checking to see if you're truly drawing boundaries to protect yourself or using the language of boundaries to try to manipulate your spouse's behavior.

It is one thing if a WS says they want out and you say okay, have a happy life, check you later. It is a total different thing when you have a wishy-washy WS who doesn't really know what they want. To say to them-- are you in or are you out? And if you're out, go or I will-- is really quite different, to me at least-- particularly on the follow through. In the first case, you simply aren't standing in their way. In the second, if they don't walk out on their own, YOU have to be the one to pull the trigger and perhaps go against your own core values and beliefs to do so. And I obviously believe it is possible, given time and emotional if not physical space, for a WS to turn around and recommit to the M. I think putting that ultimatum out there will just push them away, or cause them to lie. Much better to follow Steve's path of GAL, PMA, and focusing on yourself and detachment. Unless you really don't want to be married to a cheater-- and then your path should be to figure out how to best protect yourself and your kids in a D.
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by LH19
LH19
Originally Posted by SteveLW
This is what I meant earlier about wanting to tell her "if you are in a PA I will D you". That is not a boundary. It is you trying to scare her straight, so to speak.
Uuuummm. It actually is a boundary. You are stating your boundary and the consequences that come along with breaking the boundary. You can go have an affair with OM but you will no longer be married to me. Of course you better mean it if you say it.
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by SteveLW
SteveLW
Originally Posted by PeterB
Thanks R2C. Did you ever find out if ex was in an A? What made you realize your marriage was in trouble? My W changed suddenly in about 2 weeks - coinciding with the travel where she met the OM and started A. After she came back, it was 1.5 months of facing a W who had drastically changed and always looking to fight. All our usual triggers of affection did not work and there was no affection whatsoever from her during that time. When I tried to show her affection, she would rebuff me. Then BD.

Lots of us have gone through something very similar. As much as WASs are different, WASs are similar. Most of them, once they decide it is time to make their move, regardless of the trigger (and yes, OP are often the trigger) go into a similar mode. Distant, ready to fight at the drop of hat, no affection, and rebuff affection. It is at this point they have "moved on", if you asked them in a moment of honesty they'd say that the marriage was already over in their mind. (This is how they justify As "the marriage was over!".) But, as we tell LBSs, this was a long time coming from the WASs point of view. Usually 1-2 years into them feeling the marriage was bad, needed to end, and they were planning an exit strategy. In fact, very few WASs meet an OP, and start an A, because the marriage was great. They are usually in this 1-2 years of planning an exit when they meet the OP, or reconnect with an old flame, and guess what the first topic of discussion with the OP is? How terrible their marriage is!

The change to you was sudden, but likely she had been unhappy for quite a while and you just didn't know it.
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by Ready2Change
Ready2Change
Originally Posted by PeterB
But what if she brings it up again and again?---Btw, she has told me that her 'friend' is very sure I am doing this just to win her back and that it's mechanical and there is no love in the picture at all smile.
Just keep doing it for you. Little words, much action.

Change up your response, but keep the message clear that you are doing this for you.
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