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A Message from Michele
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When I asked you a little over a week ago if you are really in love with him I asked because I figured if it was more about the kids , you can just agree on a coparenting relationship for now. Not working on your romantic relationship and have any expectations of eachother.

After reading alisons post, if you don’t physically separate, separating mentally as husband and wife might be your best option. You both have expectations of eachother that none of you are even close to meeting. Neither are in a place to meet them. What he needs from you, you are not in a place to give and what you need from him, he is not in a place to give. I just erased my personal opinion on trusting your ex, it’s pretty harsh, but I will tell you, I see why you don’t trust him. Or are even close to trusting him.

Emotional separation sounds like the next best thing from physical separation. An agreement on peace in the home, no relationship talks, no expectations. Do your family thing. But as far as the two of you go? Emotional separation rather than the pressure of wanting what neither of you are even close to giving, could take some great pressure off and get rid of the rage. Keep your peace in your home, ( because as much as you think you hide it, if you are full of rage and anger towards your H, the kids feel it. They will remember it growing up. ) my dad tried to hide a lot from me in my home thinking I wouldn’t see it . Well, I may have not so much in the time, but when I grew up, it all came back to me as I understood adult emotions. And it was damaging. Still is a bit damaging, quite honestly. But I know my dad was doing what he felt was right and best at the time .

Maybe give you and your H 3 months of peace. No R talks. No expectations. No anger. Just peace

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Great posts here.
Have you considered getting a shared apartment?
You could seperate physically all of the time or part of the time.
You wouldn’t move the wardrobe and you wouldn’t tell the kids.
“Traveling for work” or whatever


Me: 34
Stbxw: 30
D:5 D:3
Mini bd: May/June 2019
Married: Aug 2019
BD: 6th Dec 2019
OM Confirmed: Feb 2020
March 2020: I filed for D
Waiting for D to be finalized and W to move out end of January 2021
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Hi all,

Thinking a lot and I do think that emotionally detaching is the way to go.

Originally Posted by LH19
Your H is detached right now either because he can take or leave the marriage or because he has zero fear of you ending it.

He has no fear of me ending it. That has been an issue all along. Before I found DB I made it crystal clear that breaking up the family was my bright white line, something I would never forgive him for and something I would obviously never do myself. I remember thinking once I started implementing DB strategies that this was going to be a pretty major challenge for me. Also, because I believe it-- it wasn't a strategy to keep him reeled in or anything. I was raised to think that divorce was not an option. FWIW, my H as well. Marriage is one thing but raising children is another, and to me, I made an unbreakable, sacred vow to my children when I had them, and giving them a two parent household has always been a part of that.

Over the last year, I've come to believe a few things about D that I didn't ever think I would -- one, that if that choice is taken away from me by my H leaving, I would handle and the kids would handle. We would all be okay. (Furious, maybe, but okay.) Two, that there are circumstances under which I could conceivably be the one to pull the trigger on S/D, if I believed it was in the best interests of my children to do so. This is why I've been monitoring their mental health and the family environment so heavily, because the moment I believe it to be toxic for them, I will pull that trigger. The anger I felt during this last cycle when my H finally said he wanted out and looked for an apartment was nearly overwhelming to me, and I wanted him OUT because I knew it wasn't good for the children for us to be under one roof. Anyway, I hear your concerns about the children. I'm very conscious of this and you guys are going to have to trust me on this one.

LH, not that it matters, but I do believe he wants the M. He has been very consistent on saying this since we started this last R attempt (unlike before), and points to his actions-- he's here, he never left, he is choosing this. I'm not worried that I've trapped him or the cage door is closed or anything like that, anymore. He can get up and go tomorrow, if that is what he wants. In a whole lot of ways that would make things easier for me.

Originally Posted by Alison
But in some ways, I think your H, May is wanting you to feel all kinds of things you aren't feeling, and is unable to love you as you are - angry, untrusting, hurt, needing space for those feelings. He can't do it. And you can't love him as he is - selfish, arrogant, flawed, too fragile of ego to be able to countenance, truly, the hurt he's done, and still missing the times when he had someone in his life who admired him and didn't seem to see all those flaws. And instead of acceptance, he's working on you to get you to be in a state where he can feel like he can love you, and you're doing just the same to him, and it's still not a marriage - it's really no different to the ways you were working on each other over this trip away - you holding it over his head for good behaviour, and him working and working at working at you, always with the unspoken threat there was another woman in his life who'd behave nicely and tell him how constantly flawless he was if you couldn't or wouldn't.

Truth.

Originally Posted by Alison
Can you emotionally separate, if you are unwilling to physically separate? Can you just decide - in your head - he is not your husband any more? That he stopped being your husband the second he was unfaithful to you, and as yet, you have not reconciled or begun a new marriage?

I think I can do this. I did this already in my head when we came back from the trip. When he went through that box of notes and mementos and threw them all away in front of me, I had this total eye-opening realization that our M *was* over and had been over since the A started. I just didn't know it. I looked at him and he was no longer my H but someone I'd been married to and someone who had had a full-fledged R with another person. In that moment I just felt acceptance and empathy, even, for both of them. (Maybe this is why that exercise stuck with me so much.)

In the months since then, I have gotten pretty angry (as you all know) about the fact that he did this thing and broke our M without even having the courtesy to tell me about it. But that feeling of our M being over does remain, the feeling that we are in the in-between. Me taking my ring off was a part of that, though I ended up putting it back on a month ago because of the workmen in our house. I do think back to that ritual idea of closure to our M is a good one, something though that is just between H and me, without AP in the picture. (I don't know that he needs to know about it necessarily-- it was just that the ritual we had was all about their R, making it real and then throwing it away, and I think I need something to exorcise her ghost from my brain, and to put our first M away.)

Originally Posted by Alison
Can you accept that if he is not your husband he owes you no more fidelity or care taking or contrition than a civil stranger?

Well, this one is harder. Not sure why. Think it must be part of still living under the same roof and no-one knowing about the situation. I'm not sure I can do this. No matter how much I try to pretend, he's not a civil stranger or a roommate. He's the father of my children and someone I've lived with for 16 years. This one might be outside my ability. Do you think this is a necessary part of emotional separation? Or are there degrees and still OK if I get three stars instead of four?

Originally Posted by Ginger
After reading alisons post, if you don’t physically separate, separating mentally as husband and wife might be your best option. You both have expectations of each other that none of you are even close to meeting. Neither are in a place to meet them. What he needs from you, you are not in a place to give and what you need from him, he is not in a place to give.

This expectations part is very helpful. I have had this hesitancy around really embracing the anger, I think because it makes me look at him and not even like him. And then I feel like I have this window right now where my heart is bare and if only he would do XYZ, I could love him again and forgive him. But as time wears on and I work on processing these feelings alone, without him truly remorseful and supportive of my process, I will turn that off. I'll start walling off my heart again and stop caring that we have no emotional or physical intimacy. I was fine with that for seven years and I'm scared I'll be fine with that again.

How do I differentiate between dropping expectations and detaching and letting myself slide back into M1.0? Because as I think I've said before, if I was still M1.0 May, I'd have been delighted with my MR in the spring and probably now-- H doing all kinds of acts of service and not expecting anything of me physically, no PT, no uncomfortable displays of affection. I don't want to be satisfied with that any more, but I feel like that is what I'm signing up for if I detach completely.

And then my head goes to well, I can do this till D8 is 18 and then go live my life.... but I think the real solution is to stop having any expectations one way or the other, stop planning out all the future possible paths, and just be in the moment. Right?

The truth is, this is basically what H has asked for-- just being a family for awhile and letting things happen naturally between us. I've been very hesitant to do this, because I am gun shy about what happened in the spring, and I don't want to relax and let my guard down only to be burnt again. As long as I can hold onto my anger, I have the threads of my escape chute still ready to go. But something these posts has made me realize is that in the spring, I *did* have expectations. If I can manage to drop my expectations and detach my emotional state from whatever may or may not be happening inside his head, then I'll be fine no matter what.

Sage, writing it all out like you suggest will be very helpful for me and I appreciate the extra explanations.

Originally Posted by Sage
Hmm. This feels more of the same May to me. That you have to somehow subjugate your feelings or actions for him. What if you were to allow yourself to feel everything? Do whatever you GD please? Feel sh*tty one day and super happy the next? Practice being really authentic to yourself? Just while doing all this, take notice of what you can control and what you can't, and make sure your expectations stay in the correct column of the spreadsheet.

Yes, you're right, and even in typing it I felt defeated. I have spent some weeks throughout all this rigamarole in the doing and feeling whatever I GD please, and it felt good. That has somehow drifted away as I got more and more focused on my anger and how to channel it appropriately. I think anger is such a difficult emotion for me to handle it has kind of taken over all my bandwidth such that I'm now seeing it as a binary state, angry/not angry, even when the not angry feelings are positive and varied, they're all being lumped into the 'not angry' bucket (and somehow also make me feel like I'm not doing the work I need to do since I need to be angry, GD it, to process this baby and get through to the next step!!)

Originally Posted by Sage
Take stock of how you label emotions. Like zen is good and depression is bad. That you are not further along in your process = bad and reconciling under certain conditions = good. What if you just took a huge deep breath and said to yourself 'bring it on' and let everything little thought and emotion come to you authentically.

Hmmm. you're absolutely right that I do this. Dang, girl, you're breaking me down to the bare-bones framework of how I see and interact with the world. (And maybe my H has a point that I do see the world in black-and-white terms, at least in this arena-- I've never had trouble with all the shades of behavior in a work environment, never taken it personally, just dealt with what came at me and how to best manage various personalities up or down-- but somehow none of that applies in this realm.) Will need to spend some more time here.

I'm feeling much more comfortable that I have a direction to go, and work to do. Easier said than done, to be sure, but I've been able to make progress in the past around slippery boundaries and tiny control behaviors of my own towards my H simply by recognizing they exist and looking for them, so maybe I can now do the same thing around expectations and no longer expending emotional energy on that which I cannot control.

Mumin-- thanks for popping in! My kids are 8 and 10 and that would never work (plus D10 is completely freaked out by COVID and if either of us said we were traveling for anything she would have a total fit).

Thanks, everyone. xx


Me (45) H (41)
M:13 T:17, D8 & D11
4/19 BD #1 ILYB
8/19 BD #2 Long-distance EA
12/19 BD #3 Actually 2 year PA
2-5/20 R attempt #1
6/20 limbo again, back in contact with AP
9/20-present R attempt #2
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May,

Your beliefs put you in a tough spot because IMO for to people to be happy that have to have it out once in awhile and the other has to know that if you can not come to an acceptable agreement that you will walk and never look back. This is why IMO so many people are unhappy in their marriage. So based on your beliefs what stops him from cheating again?

Also, him being in the house is not an action. It’s convenient, we are in a pandemic and he could walk out tomorrow. I’m not saying he will I just think you might be grasping at straws. Again, time will tell.

Last edited by LH19; 11/14/20 08:13 PM.

M:51 W:46
T:22 M:16
S:15 D:11

“Don't chase people. Be yourself, do your own thing and work hard. The right people - the ones who really belong in your life - will come to you and stay.”- Will Smith
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Hi May. Been reading along.

It’s uncomfortable to think of myself as a victim of anything. I'm an oldest child, and if you believe in that stuff, oldest children are frequently the take charge type. We get stuff done, but we often don't know how to step back. I had to allow myself some compassion and let myself have an "I don't actually got this" moment. It's difficult for me to accept things being out of my control and messy. But it felt good to set X’s issues down and focus on cutting myself some slack for his poor choices. I mastered the art of the self hug; I deserved it.

But X tends to always think of himself as the victim. He's a youngest child, again, if you think that has any bearing on your tendencies. He's all chill, all the time. "Things happen. Not my fault." If I had a dollar for every time X said something was not his fault, well, I'd have stacks and stacks of cash. His fall back is that something is "not gonna work, not his fault, or not a problem." He resists taking any responsibility for his actions because he did not grow up seeing himself in any kind of control. Everyone did everything for him, and if life didn't work out, it became an easy story to tell himself. "Not my fault!"

A good MC will probably say (remembering that a MC wants to help fix your M, not heal infidelity or other blame games), "You need to let your H have a little control over the R by drawing more boundaries around what you will not tolerate rather than giving him a pass or doing everything yourself and being resentful. You need to be firm with your consequences when things are unacceptable. H, you need to actually step forward when she communicates her needs, step up and take charge. Or those consequences are going to sting."

This relates to infidelity in that if this is a problematic dynamic in the M, then it very likely continued during the cheating. The one partner (you) continues to step up. "I will not be a victim!" And tries to control the healing and the outcome. You go into fix it mode, even though you were the one abused! The other partner (H) resists seeing themselves as anything but the victim. "It was not my fault!" He takes the victim role, even though he hurt you with his actions! Those must be worn out roles at your house. Even after the cheating.

Now, if it's necessary, give yourself permission to take your own side, the side of "I am more important than this R, his happiness, and what other people think." If you’re hurt, put your consequences in place, and that is that. This means that you need to acknowledge that you’ve been harmed, even victimized, so take care of yourself, first and foremost, and let other things go. Prioritise your needs--journal, sleep, do nothing, pamper yourself, stay quiet, do not instigate deep conversations, do not fix, hang out alone--and allow your H to figure out how to step up. He is capable. If he wants to fix something he breaks, it's on him. You must no longer worry about the outcome of your M. Be the person who cares the least.

If this is abuse (it is, in my mind) then what will you do? If you resist seeing yourself as a victim, you probably want to take charge and fix it. But you can't. You didn't break it. You'll most likely need to learn to step back and let yourself be sad, let yourself feel unlovable or whatever hurtful feelings you are trying to avoid with the fixing, correcting, and leading of your spouse. You need to learn to instead just watch your H’s reaction to your stepping back and nurture your own self. Then prepare your consequences if he does not do what it takes. That's all you have, your ability to pull back from an R as a consequence. You cannot make this right again by taking charge over it.

If you feel you deserve to think of yourself as a victim (because you are, by definition, as uncomfortable as that might make you feel), you probably feel powerless to change things and want validation and compassion. That may or may not come, and you can end up waiting a lifetime. Instead, you have to stop waiting for this recognition of the pain, stop waiting for someone to validate your feelings. You need to take your power back by validating your own worth and healing yourself. Your H cannot take what you won't give away. You cannot make things right by waiting for others to make it right. It is only what you believe about your own self that matters, and you have the power.

When we struggle after this abuse, what is our struggle? We realise that we can't fix this, control this, or guide the R. It just doesn't work. We have to love ourselves and do nothing but watch the other person. If they don't step up, we need to enact consequences that protect us. That's how we heal, by staying away from those who hurt us. We cannot seek validation and healing from the ones who hurt us because it will likely never come. We need to step up and love ourselves in the way we deserve by embracing power over our own thoughts and feelings.

I think I’ve recommended it before, but please check out the book 'Cheating in a Nutshell: What Adultery Does to the Victim‘. It’s a good take.


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June 2019 | Runaway husband
May 2020 | Legal separation
Dec 2020 | Happily divorced
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Adding that I think I would benefit your H to reframe his adultery as abusive, as well, as uncomfortable as that would make him feel.


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Hi Scout,

Very interesting and thought-provoking.

I am also the eldest child (two younger brothers). I can completely identify with the need to take charge and fix things. This whole situation is the first in my life where I've felt at a real loss and had to accept that things are in fact out of my control. (Though I still struggle with this. It isn't like a one and done for me.)

It makes sense to me that your ex is a youngest child, too. Fits with his slick shedding of responsibility. But my H is also the eldest of three. Our middle siblings are both the responsible peacemakers and the youngest the spoiled babies. We have both always been the responsible, take charge ones. In fact, we've talked about it (prior to all this) being a source of strife in our M, both used to being in charge. Both of us have always been in charge outside of the sibling relationships too-- at work, on sports teams, etc. I think part of our competitive struggle dynamic in the M was due to this. H was the first BF I had who really challenged me.

Now... in our dynamic, it is less that he refuses to accept responsibility. He understands he made the choices he did and owns them. He just thinks he had really good reasons to do so and is not really willing to accept the fact that maybe those reasons weren't good enough to wreak the damage that he did. That maybe nothing could excuse his behavior-- not the SSM, not twu wuv. Nothing.

God, I have the hardest time seeing myself as a victim. Though yes, I am the victim of abuse. I'm especially angry about the times I didn't even realize what was happening. The times we were in MC and read the 5LL and me telling H, I get it now! I'm so sorry! And him saying... you don't get it, too little too late... and me not realizing that he was in a full-fledged A with another woman. There are thousands of those episodes and each time I revisit one, it stings. More than stings. F-ing hurts.

I have said to him his behavior was abusive, emotional abuse. He was VERY uncomfortable with this-- very quickly went to me being the emotionally abusive one by withdrawing my affection for seven years during the SSM. But I've said it enough that it is there. That an affair is by definition abusive. That the betrayer is by definition indulging in narcissistic behaviors. That the lying and breaking of the marital contract are wrong, wrong, wrong. He likes to dart into this "well, you're judging by your own moral standards.." and I won't have any of that. I don't give a F what anyone else thinks about M. We made an agreement, together. His moral code and mine were the same, when we married. He broke it. No one else's opinion matters.

(As an aside, I think part of his struggle is that he's thinking maybe to justify his behavior he needs to throw that whole moral code away and find a new one that fits with his behavior and no longer makes it wrong. That people weren't meant to be married for life. That he isn't the person he was when we met and neither am I. That marriage is a 20th century construction. It is actually kind of sad to watch him go through these mental gyrations.)

I'm having a hard time letting go, inhabiting the victim role, understanding that this was not under my control and neither is what happens next, on his side.

How can I be the person that cares the least? I can be the person who doesn't give a $hit about him. But I can't not care about my kids. But I so so so am not okay with waking up in the morning with my children spending the night elsewhere. God. You wrote how you dropped to your knees and begged your H not to take your son away. I did the same thing. The thought of losing them, once I finally understood (even before I knew about the A, just knew he was thinking about D) nearly broke me. I thought I would die.

What you say has a lot of power and truth to me. The other side of stopping caring about where H's head is-- detachment-- is pouring that energy into myself. I'm so not used to that. I've been getting there, little by little, I think. But still a ways to go.

Thanks, Scout. xx M


Me (45) H (41)
M:13 T:17, D8 & D11
4/19 BD #1 ILYB
8/19 BD #2 Long-distance EA
12/19 BD #3 Actually 2 year PA
2-5/20 R attempt #1
6/20 limbo again, back in contact with AP
9/20-present R attempt #2
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May are you in IC?


Me: 34
Stbxw: 30
D:5 D:3
Mini bd: May/June 2019
Married: Aug 2019
BD: 6th Dec 2019
OM Confirmed: Feb 2020
March 2020: I filed for D
Waiting for D to be finalized and W to move out end of January 2021
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I get it, May. When you look at it as a nebulous concept, losing time with your children feels absolutely impossible. But then you define it, and you start to rationalise how to live with it. And looking at it rationally— would I wring my hands if my son had a weekly sleepover with his grandparents? Or with friends? Or even with his father if we were all under the one roof? Honestly, I wouldn’t, and neither would you with your girls.

That being said, I’d struggle with a 50/50 arrangement. My parallel parenting situation and my personal beliefs about early child development do not align with the concept of equal shared custody. I’m fortunate that I still get to see my kid every day, even if he doesn’t sleep at home with me. But if I didn’t, it would still be okay. I would make it okay so that he never had to feel any guilt or discomfort or responsibility for wanting to spend time with his dad.

Maybe it would alleviate some of your fears to play around with some custody calculators/calendars online and visualise potential schedules. A lot of them have examples of standard schedules for 80/20, 70/30, 60/40 etc share time. I found that plotting out some different options helped me put things in perspective. You can figure out what your comfort levels are with various arrangements and what you might be able to do with your free time.

A year ago, I’d have cried at the thought of a 70/30 schedule, but now I’m the one suggesting it. 30% is considered substantial and significant time for a three-year old by the court, and he deserves to have that time with his dad, regardless of the circumstances of our divorce. You’ve said all along that your girls have a caring and involved father. When you put your feelings aside, I know you’d do it for them, because they deserve it.

Doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be terribly, terribly hard. (((May)))


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May 2020 | Legal separation
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Originally Posted by Mumin
May are you in IC?

Yes.

Scout, I don't know that I want to go down that route right now. If you remember, I did that in June/July and it completely took the wind out of my sails and broke me. Confronting just how much I do not want any sort of shared custody scenario, as important as I know that would be for the girls, makes me feel physically sick. When I spent time here in the summer, the result was that I went back to feeling defeated and powerless. I'd rather cross this bridge when/if I need to deal with it, so that I can hang onto that tiny shred of belief that I could walk out of the M and trigger these things if I needed to. If I need to live with it, I can figure out how. Right now, I think spending too much time there doesn't help me see it will be okay. It actually does the opposite for me. It drains me of my power.

I bought and am reading the book you recommended. It is not making me feel hopeful at all.

After a day of thinking of all these things and trying to just focus on that which I can control, I ended up blowing up at H last night after the children went to bed and asking him to leave. He refused. He's here, the affair is in the past, he wants to make this work between us.

I don't know. I'm hoping that was my last need to pour out these feelings onto him. I've said everything I want to say to him. Anything else would just be a repeat. Hoping that now I can buckle down and work on detaching and focusing on what I need.


Me (45) H (41)
M:13 T:17, D8 & D11
4/19 BD #1 ILYB
8/19 BD #2 Long-distance EA
12/19 BD #3 Actually 2 year PA
2-5/20 R attempt #1
6/20 limbo again, back in contact with AP
9/20-present R attempt #2
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