Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum

This is us


Feeling the pull to write a little about how things are in my life right now. Nothing groundbreaking, just a brief update, to spill it outside of the containment that is me these days.

As you all know, Roger and I are on track to physically split after I hand in my thesis in late July. This does not mean that we hate each other, or that life is unpleasant. We love each other, and work our hardest to be kind to and caring of each other. But I am aware that this is a very difficult time for Rog. He struggles. And I ain’t finding it a bunch of fluffies either.

The thing is, I don’t know how to trust anymore. Anyone. I haven’t been able to convince my brain to allow vulnerability. So, of course, after about five years of thinking I could trick me into trust and vulnerability with a very remorseful man who did a lot of things that ‘should’ have made it okay for me to trust again, I had to pull away. But he also, admitted later when he could see with clearer hindsight, did a couple of things that maybe made things a lot harder than they needed to be. I am speaking of his refusal to change his phone number (their affair was entirely enabled by text and phone calls alone, he was not on social media, and he never gave her his or our email address(es).) So, he was still getting texts, and occasionally replying, for two years after D-day. He admits that was stupid, and that I was right in pretty much begging him to change his number, as that would starve the maggot of oxygen. Huge regret of his. He also, as many of you know, fucked her again at the two year mark. We were separated, but yeah, if you read waay back, you know my feelings about that. He was single, and could. And whilst I understand that he was trying to figure out why he had thrown away his good life for a person he was pretty sure he didn’t even really like, it probably wasn’t helpful. To anyone. Even her. Yep. I loathe that woman, but even I don’t think fucking her again was a nice thing for him to do to her. But I do, nevertheless, understand his thought process. I know he went to her to ‘discuss’ the whys and wherefores, the sex, to me, was just his … patheticness … I guess. I now know how ruled he is by sex. I never really got it before all of this. We had a busy and fulfilling sex life together, so I never got the message that he feels incomplete without sex in his life. I think that is just sad. That you would prostrate yourself for bad sex – his words. He now understands this about himself, too. That he is needy, and it doesn’t make him feel very good about himself. But, in all of this, I have become sexless. And he says it’s better that being sexually needy. I beg to differ. I don’t think there is a winner here. I don’t think, in this sexualised world, that ANYONE ever feels good about themselves if they have become sexless. I wouldn’t admit this in real life, I would be judged, and made to feel a prude/boring/stuffy. I am none of those things, and I miss sex like crazy. But I just don’t feel sexy. In any way. Even self love, and I used to be good at that shit, lol! Bah, enough about my embarrassing ‘problem’ with sex.

Well, the latest thing that created some more distance between us is this. Roger used to like to come and sleep in my bed. I said this was fine, but that I am not a sexual being anymore, so that wasn’t to be the reason. He seemed to be coping with that. We would cuddle and talk, and that was that. One of the things we have discussed ad nauseum, is that I know he ‘needs’ emotional and sexual closeness, and that I can’t really provide that anymore. I hate it. It isn’t who I think I am at my core. But, I have worked damn hard to survive this, to be as intact as I can be after he blew the old me up, used and abused.  I had to build some walls, as the old me had none, and it nearly fucking killed me that he treated me the way he did, and made me physically and mentally ill. I don’t know how to dismantle these walls. I am torn. To let them down might mean I can feel something good again, but I was 100% vulnerable and loving and where did it get me? I don’t think I can survive this again. So, yeah, it sounds stupid, but I can’t let them down, or not for long.

I thought we had communication nailed now. That we are open and honest. We talk. Still a lot. About life, about the future, about us, about not us. And I made it clear that I understand he has needs, and that living in the same house makes that a difficult thing, in many ways, but that if he wants to date, or get laid, that he just has to be honest, and let me know. I don’t think that is abnormal, and I also don’t think it is a lot to ask, to discuss these things. It’s not like I am asking him to ask my permission. I just want to know if we need to change the living arrangements earlier that we plan to (and have worked out is the most financially viable for both of us.) So, I was doing a tax return the other day, and noted that he had a couple of credit card charges to a dating site. He had told me about a year ago that he had joined this site, and chatted with a couple of women. But that he decided it wasn’t for him (he had never done this kind of thing before) and so he had resigned from the site. Okay, I got that. We had another conversation about this, if he was feeling this lonely, that we needed to find another way of being. He said it was fine, that he was coping again, but that sometimes the sadness of losing me was just overwhelming. Promises were made to ensure communication was maintained. I don’t wanna know any details, unlike when I found out about his affair, and I thought we had a relationship to save. I just don’t wanna be piggy in the middle. I also don’t think it is fair to another woman, if she finds she likes him, to see me still living in this house! Back to the new credit card charges. I was angry. Not furious and filled with fire. Just sadly angry. He hadn’t talked to me, he had just paid twice, this dating site. Of course I approached him and said we needed to talk. The charges were from three and two months ago, and he said he had forgotten about them, and I could see he was a bit embarrassed. He hates being this pathetic, he sees the dating apps as a bit sad, too. I just calmly said that I thought it was really disrespectful, mostly of me, that he would sleep in my bed, and in all honesty, he still tries sometimes to see if I would be responsive to sex, when he was talking to any other women. I felt revolted and used, and I calmly expressed this. He seemed very sad and to understand.

I just don’t get it. Why would he even put me in that position when he knows the damage he has done? I know it is desperation. He does get very desperate about our situation, it isn’t a healthy one, I get it. But why, after all he has learned these past few years, would he not talk to me? Tell me we needed to find alternative accommodation? Sigh, it just felt like I was on a treadmill, and that we were back to teaching him about boundaries and other people’s feelings being just as important as his. Affair Lessons 101 stuff. Do some people, even those who seem to get it, seem to understand the damage, seem to want to change, never fully get it? All this stuff that is so innate to me? I mean, we have a quote pinned up in his maimai, one that he chose, about twenty-something years ago. One of the things in it is to be careful with other people’s hearts.

And yeah, the sleeping in my bed has been stopped. It isn’t fair to either of us. And yeah, we both miss it like hell. But you’ve gotta be realistic. He just can’t cope with the contact that is never enough. And I miss the old him, the one I adored, that lovely guy I had created in my head for those first decades, the one who obviously never existed.


I’m okay, much better than if I had let him back into my heart fully, but I just feel stupid again. That I somehow almost believed that he had learnt all he needed to about how to treat other people. This is not an inherently stupid, or callous man. I honestly felt he was the most emotionally intelligent man I had ever met, once upon a time. And in many ways he is. But there seems to be an override button, and he STILL has trouble not pressing it when under pressure.


39 thoughts on “This is us

  1. Thank you for your post. It is full of emotions I can relate to. Actually all of them.

    The most important observation to me is that you identified that “they never seem to really get it”, despite expressing regret and wanting to change. I agree with that insight.

    To really getting it, means to go to the dark core of it all. Although not an expert in psychoanalysis, it has helped me to understand some of this stuff I struggle with.

    My husband did what he despises in others (lying, cheating etc). He denied his desires as they were unacceptable to him and they still are. Now he says he does not have them anymore (he states this): Due to trying to conditioning himself?

    So, in addition to Freud and Jung I throw some in some Pavlovian stuff :).

    The behaviour is similar to those who express often homophobic comments, and when subject to research they are the ones that are most aroused by homo-erotic images. They project what they hate in themselves. Freud had a lot wrong, but not that one! (this example is not applicable to my H. as he is not homophobic).

    Or they push the unacceptable desires down deeply….but when the opportunity is thrown in their face (literally, in my husband’s case), they cannot resist and then…they have to make it fit in their brain: a form of justification. That is also the reason it takes so damn long to becoming whole again (i.e. meaning a person with no more deceptions (lies) hidden deep down).

    We know the lying is due to feeling embarrassed. It is also cowardly behaviour.

    It is complicated.



    • Your husband’s position sounds so similar to Roger’s, Elisabeth. Also not homophobic. Also had the AP thrown in his face. (By me. Facepalm.) He was in crisis. I just didn’t identify that at the time. I was in my own and barely staying afloat. I think you nailed it with the conditioning and justification comments. They can’t fathom how they got to that place. And reach desperately for some answers, or, at least, do so when we are pressing them for some. All of this has felt so ‘out of character’ for the man I thought I knew and loved. I also think I did, bizarrely, almost have him, or maybe ‘us’ on a bit of a pedestal? Not a high or unblemished one. But one, nonetheless. I believed in him and in us just a little too much. Xxx

      • Thank you,
        yes so similar…
        and so sad

      • I guess the question I have asked a few betrayeds who are still working on a life with their cheater is this. How do you re-package a life with someone who not only was capable of this (I’m sure we are all capable) but carried it out? I thought I could do that, for the longest time. Until I realised that I felt less. I felt like I was accepting less, that I was making myself and my needs and worth smaller. I have spoken with a few, and most accept this as part of the trade-off to loving the person who betrayed them. I wonder why I was unable to accept it enough? I see my life as no better with either choice. I have been living my life separately to his (pretty much) for a couple of years now, and I know it all still hurts and isn’t ‘better.’ Just different. I felt I was so sad and so hurt, that I had to make changes, as staying was stifling.

        Meh, just some ponderings on why some people can, and yet I can’t, I guess. It is yet another thing that contributes to me feeling ‘not good enough’ – despite knowing it is just who I am, and not anything to do with my worth. Silly stuff I can’t seem to put down for any length of time. I think I framed it a bit simplistically, if I loved him that much, I should be able to overcome his period of selfishness if he was doing the work. And sub-consciously I feel like maybe my construction of how much I loved him was never real? Maybe I lied to myself? I also know that I have firm boundaries, and that I probably was never going to ‘get over’ a long term affair. I feel I could have dealt with a one night stand, maybe? Especially if he had been honest and confessed, rather than me finding out via the OW telling me. The fact she was a ‘friend’ – yeah right – does add another layer, I do understand that.

        Just me thinking out loud again, the same old stuff I have been going over for almost eight, yes EIGHT years now. It never gets old, lol. (Disclaimer, it is old ;-).)

  2. I know just what you mean about that pedestal. I clearly remember, back in 2014, talking to a friend who was telling me how lucky I was to have OH, who so obviously adored me. I felt lucky! I couldn’t believe how fortunate I was to have had 14 wonderful years together, so far. I was lovingly looking forward to all the wonderful years ahead.

    A couple of weeks later was DDay. When I found out that for 8½ years of our “wonderful” life together, he was secretly meeting a coworker behind my back. My life changed forever 3 years ago and will, I fear, never be repaired, despite all he does every day to try to convince me otherwise.

    Much love as always. X

    • Thanks, Ash. I had a dear friend who often asked me our secret. I brushed her off, saying, that we had no secret recipe, just love and respect, and a of lot of laughs (especially after any disagreements, we did have the odd ding-dong, mostly me, I am pretty fiery!) But that having two genuine people was the key. I was embarrassed to be asked, to be honest. I ‘knew’ we were good, but it seemed to be tempting fate for other people to ask how we did it (hmm, it was!)

      I know it is a hard road, and I wish you much fortitude as you both negotiate it, together.

  3. “I feel I could have dealt with a one night stand, maybe? Especially if he had been honest and confessed, rather than me finding out via the OW telling me. The fact she was a ‘friend’ – yeah right – does add another layer, I do understand that.”

    …RIGHT!!! I get what you are saying. I too think I may have been able to work past a one night stand or at least a heart-felt confession. But a long-term affair with a so- called “friend” like WTF!! I am 2.5 years past d-day and just not feeling it yet. IDK

    • It’s hard to know. I just feel I am no prude. And I understand mistakes. Errors of judgement. But to continue making poor choices isn’t an error, is it, T? It’s poor character. People who own their shit confess and try to do better next time. He just rolled around in that shit for far too long …

  4. Although this post breaks my heart a little, I do understand. There comes a point where a line is drawn and you can’t go back. I also know what it feels like to no longer feel like a woman, but for me, I felt that before I knew I was being cheated on. I thought I was asexual.

    I know I’m very wishy washy and romantic, but I really believe, if it’s meant to be it will be. I wish you so much good stuff in a new beginning, but… just maybe… time apart will make the two of you want to come back together?

    Whatever u decide, do what makes your heart happy. There is no better GPS in life than how you feel. If it feels good, continue in that direction.

    I think u are an awesome, smart, beautiful woman who is very courageous to immerse yourself into something new and unknown. I can only hope the future holds something as amazing as you are.

    • You are a bloody gorgeous human, caroline xxx. I dunno. It doesn’t feel like a ‘break,’ we separated 8 months on 3 separate occasions in the first few years. I want this. I need this. But I don’t want this either. I love this guy. But I can’t cope with what he did. It’s the saddest thing ever. And I feel broken every fucking day. What’s new? I am functional and achieving even. But permanently sad

      • Ah lovely, I wish this could be fixed. I obviously wasn’t able to fix mine, but time did help me, and distance. Your situation is very different than mine. You still live with your guy and it’s a daily reminder. I don’t know why some of us get past this crap and some don’t. But obviously Nobody who deals with this will never be the same. There is no going back. Come to Florida, I will feed u ice cream. Did you know that ice cream fixes most problems?!?! CK will come too and we would have an awesome time. ❤ you are never alone. You have people who love u even on the other side of the world.

      • Ice cream you say? I’m in! I am so very fucking grateful for this online world. In case you hadn’t got that by now 😉

        I know. I’m a special kind of fuck up. I care about him. I think he cares about me. We used to be so beautiful. Really fucking beautiful.

        I am looking at beach properties this week (to rent.) I need some money out!

      • Here is where I am…

      • Are you OK, Elisabeth? Sending my love xxx

      • I am not OK. I think I am getting where you are.
        Thanks for picking up on it. It means a lot.

      • I’m sorry to hear that, Elisabeth. I’m here if I can do anything to help from afar. Even if it is just to lend my ears. xxx

      • Thank you. I might need that.

  5. Roger and Leann had a relationship before yours even began. It is toxic and sick but it is still there. You love him and want to believe in his goodness. From your posts I don’t see him in the same light. What I see is a woman who easily gives sexual favors. Was Roger ever in love with her or just willing to use whatever she offered? Every time you have been “distracted” he hot footed it off to get a little sumpin sumpin as they say here in the US. When he had hurt you so badly you two separated for a while what did he do? Why, lookee there. There’s good old Leann with her legs spread. This is not a man who has a firm grasp on decent morals. Cheating stinks but lying kills relationships. Dead in the water.
    I think your “problem” is not allowing yourself to accept your rage. That stuff that is bubbling under the surface. You kept wanting to forgive and forget. If Roger had picked up a gun, wondered if it was loaded, pulled the trigger and then apologized for shooting you in the stomach how quickly would you forgive him? After about the tenth surgery you might find your limit. I consider what he has done to you as wounding as gunshot. That last little trip to see her on some flimsy excuse is just making sure you knew he had bullets.
    Trust once gone it is gone. When you consider that of the two of you only he knew the reality of your lives. You lived in innocence always assuming the best about him. Trust gone is gone.
    If this angers you delete it. I just want you happy.

    • Hi Moi. I understand your point of view. Whilst I don’t think you are right about Roger and Leanne’s connection – I don’t really believe there is one – I am no expert. (I also had an even longer relationship with her!) I don’t see her as anything but a tool he used (as an ‘easy’ option for talk and sex when he felt vulnerable) to self soothe. Exes are acknowledged as easy to return to. He was pretty confident she would not reject him, due to their past. And her personal sets of (lack of?) morals. He has expressed what appears to be genuine remorse, and even revulsion for her but also for his actions and choices.

      I have raged. And raged. And raged. I don’t disagree that the damage he did was appalling. Or permanent. I know that is why I could never stay with him as others have managed to.

      Whilst I do not intend to defend him here, I don’t believe he has had any contact with her in just about six years now. Prior to me inviting her back into our lives, thee had been no contact for 25 years. He could have at any time. I also feel that until this latest thing, he had been honest.

      We are living in a pretty nightmarish way. I agree. I am firmly of the opinion that a physical separation is needed reasonably urgently now. Unfortunately the funding of that is a problem while I am completing my thesis. I may require some form of loan to facilitate this. I understand that our time is well and truly long gone.

      I don’t delete comments as a rule, as everyone is entitled to express their opinion. And I consider all comments very seriously. Thank you for your good wishes. I appreciate them.

  6. I don’t mean “relationship” in the usual terminology. She was just there. Always there. He knew it. It does not matter if your innocently bringing her back into your lives was viewed by him as an opportunity. He already knew her morals, or the lack of them. The idea that he used your cottage? as a place for trysts with you and your children around just stinks. I also think lying is the nail in the coffin of a marriage. A man or woman who has a drunken one nighter, or flirts to the edge but reconsiders, are probably saving themselves and their SO some grief by keeping their mouths shut. They know better and do better. You were lied to for over a year. Who does that? A person with very wobbly ethics. I know Roger regrets with his entire being cheating on you. Still, how do you get over that? I don’t think people do.
    SA is a different animal. The addict either stays clean or he/she doesn’t. Those that do are so lucky to have understanding spouses.
    Good luck with your studies.

    • I kissed a man once. He was married. He wanted it to go further. Roger was away and I was somewhat unsure of where we were at. I had a toddler who we didn’t plan for, and I was questioning whether he loved me, or whether he told himself he did in order to get the partner-and-child package. I had had too much to drink. Not fall over drunk. But judgement was somewhat impaired. I told the married guy to get lost. And I told Roger about it. Apologised and felt relieved but also a tiny bit… perplexed? I don’t know. Hindsight is perfect, but he seemed pretty good about it. I just thought it meant he was pleased I told the truth and that no harm was done. I now know that he couldn’t react badly because a couple of years earlier, he used his first and only prostitute. He was embarrassed and disgusted. Stag night. Curiosity. And he lied about it for over 20 years. Having a go at me wouldn’t sit well for him because he knew he had done something far worse. He also explains it like this. He knew I was honest. I told him the full story of the old friend of mine – the married guy – driving me home from the wedding after we had danced, talked and laughed a lot at our friend’s wedding. And the snog. Roger had already told a big lie.

      My thoughts echo yours. Lying is hard to overcome. But the biggest hurdle is respect. When you lose respect for someone you once respected …. hmmm.

  7. I hate the pain this has caused so many of us. I am a little over 3.5 years now and I’m not any better. It’s almost like it has gotten worse. I had hoped with time we could survive this although to be honest from the very beginning a part of me always wondered how the hell anyone gets through this? So maybe I haven’t tried hard enough because deep down I knew I would never get over it. The pain is still with me all day everyday and I don’t know what else to do, nothing works and bless his heart he is still trying so hard. I don’t see how he does it!

    And her being my friend doesn’t help matters. I can’t get her off my mind I still have days where I want her to suffer and I am angry that she’s not suffering at all! It’s like I took a huge Time release medicine capsule for pain. And the pain is just continually being released in my life. I’m tired of the heartache. I’m tired of myself not getting better I get on my own nerves. I find myself feeling the same way and saying the same things. Not much has changed.

    I hope everyone has a good weekend! Sending everyone love, hugs and healing ❤️

    • Hi SMH. I think being with an understanding, ashamed and fully remorseful cheater is one of the worst scenarios for a betrayed. Just my opinion. But you feel like such an arse for not being healed, for still feeling so much pain. I reckon the arseholes who don’t give a fuck are easy. You leave. They are scum. They don’t know how to love. I have seen dozens of these narcissistic fucktards over the years. You stop loving them faster?

      And the affairs with friends, under your nose? They make you feel TOTALLY the most foolish person alive. I am normally a very astute person. I think I have been a very good judge of character previously. The thing is, I kinda knew Leanne was a shit. And I didn’t stress because I thought I was helping her soften, and I fully, entirely trusted him and bought our deep love story 100%. Why would you threaten that? He admits he still hasn’t seen another couple that had the connection and fun we did. He still can’t believe he stooped so low. We both acknowledge there was some kind of mental health issue present when all of this took place. But that just paints me as the unforgiving, mean girl who refuses to be kind enough to just understand and carry on as usual. I’m not. I have deep empathy for him. He feels like he did something HE will never really forgive himself for. And it has fucked up our good life. Together we have/had fun. We have/had similar values (ahem!) And outlooks on life. Together we can be financially very comfortable. Separated we are going to struggle a bit. Neither of us have the skills to be in highly paid careers. We have run a successful farming business for a long time. Splitting the assets won’t happen overnight. And it will leave us each with ‘too small’ piles to go again in this industry. We are gonna have to be creative. I am constantly revising business plans, trying to find one that might just kick off and work!

      I also wish the OW would suffer. But, I hope I can somewhat reassure you that time has helped that a little. It would still be great to dance around that bonfire as the witch burned! But I allocate waaay less mental real estate to her steaming pile than I used to. Her life has (on the surface) gone from strength to strength. It SUCKS. And I don’t think of her anywhere near as often as I used to. It used to be constant.

      I wish you some moments of peace, SMH. Whilst time does not heal, the work we do on our own outlooks and future plans for ourselves, to regain agency in our own lives, does help the heart, even if just a little xxx

      • Thank you girl! I feel every thing you just wrote! Especially feeling like such a fool with it happening right under my nose. I never imagined my husband would do something like that with her. And I always sensed something wrong with her. I didn’t even like her in the beginning when she moved in my neighborhood but she was kinda pushy with her friendship on me. Now I know why apparently she had a crush on my H from the first time she met him. I ended up letting her in our lives as a friend and neighbor thinking I might be a good influence for her and see what it got me if I would have turned her away from the beginning I just don’t believe I would be in this mess!!

        And all the times me and her were out and about together and she kept checking her phone or texting? She was sitting there with me texting my husband… It makes me crazy every time I think of it. I just wish I could forget it.

        Money is an issue for me too and probably the only thing holding me here now besides this severe depression where I still have days I can barely function. This has really messed me up mentally like I’m sure it has many. I only have a high school diploma and there aren’t many jobs here in this small town. I often dream of packing my clothes in my car and driving away and starting a new life somewhere beautiful. I have looked into moving to Gulf shores a small town near the ocean. I just haven’t been able to make it happen. I need money and the courage to just do it 😊. Well I guess I’m just rambling now. Just having a rough few weeks something has triggered me?

      • Sending my love across oceans. I am doing a Masters degree as dropped out of uni three times as a young student. Will be 50 next year. Thought investing in us was better than any degree anyway. Which is bizarre as I am all about female empowerment. And always believed women should have options, eg, education. I thought investing in US was a good option. It was. Until he chose this for us. I wish I wasn’t so ‘proud’ or had such firm boundaries. But I do have principals. I do have boundaries. Are they worth it? Still can’t answer that

  8. SMH

    Try not to punish yourself for being kind and letting the woman into your life. You can’t police the morals of your errant husband if he was unwilling to maintain boundaries. Only he can do that. I’m a little less than 3.5 years and don’t have the pain so much – just a dull ache and high blood pressure. Triggers yes.

    Horses – are one night stands easier to come to terms with? Whatever duration they all feature selfishness, betrayal, deception and lies.
    My errant male calculated his breaking of views on a transatlantic business trip. How prosaic!! He actively made it happen; took the initiative, and would have continued on subsequent trips ’til after lying several times to my direct questions ( 7th sense) I served him irrefutable evidence. Short in duration so what’s my problem? Other betrayeds come to terms with longer and more gruesome affairs. Don’t I love enough? Possibly not. Maybe, I’ve now reached a place where I love and care for myself more.

    Several strands: He lied several times, one of his major relationship difficulties going way back is an inability to deal with conflict, compartmentalising people and not initiating communication or even responding to needs/issues – fear of conflict again. I’m the opposite. Talk and talk some more. Both 2nd marriages in our 50’s with extra dynamics. I thought we were working on things seemingly oftentimes he nodded in agreement but to shut me up. I was clearly living in another reality. This has not improved at all. He talks of suppressing info – admits because of conflict avoidance. Too much self-preservation.

    One of the worst issues for me is secrecy. I’m 61yrs. Adopted with issues of abandonment. Recently in communication with my birth mother – surreal but great, ghosts laid to rest, found my roots and where I fit but transatlantic correspondence so only emails. (I’m UK). I’ve been her ‘secret’. I was also husband’s secret – shared info to the trollop about his children and first wife but me? He removed his wedding ring and airbrushed me out. That hurt horribly. Some of his family know, some of my family and friends know. I can’t abide being a bloody secret and living a secret and moving forward having to maintain a facade when I’m fractured inside is not an option. Too much secrecy!! I hate it. I feel diminished, an outsider looking in.

    You wrote: “I felt like I was accepting less, that I was making myself and my needs and worth smaller.” You’ve got it encapsulated. I’d be staying with a perfectly amiable, woolly headed soul but dying inside. Denying my emotions, repressing my needs to protect him. The original issues before the affair continue with the affair as an added extra. No thanks. I do care, I’m horribly saddened and trying to sell the house for 22 months. Aargh. I crave a tiny place, a new solo adventure, peace of mind and to recover me. Life will be good again. Courage mon brave and to all those who stay and to those who are unable I hope you find your own contentment.

    • Nuthatch, nope. I don’t mean a ONS is any less. But we had communicated about drunken fuck ups, ie, best they don’t happen, but if it ever did, condoms were discussed as absolutely essential. I went into the whys, that I should never have had to, as they are self explanatory! (Don’t infect me with in your selfishness!) Head nodded, “yes, yes, that would never do.” And so was confessing immediately. You screw up on a grand scale, but let the person this effects know, no matter the outcome. Lying is what kills trust (and relationships.)

      I have a dear friend divorcing her husband at present over an emotional affair of four months. After 32 years of marriage. She is devastated. And rightly so. He never did the work after she explained her hurt, and begged him to look at why this was “okay” for him to do. He refused. For the last four years. Not his problem, right? We know of another EA after their 30 year old son was born, there are no doubt more, but she has no hard evidence of them. I haven’t said as much to her, but I am pretty convinced that if he has always given himself permission to act this way, there will be sexual affairs, as well. But that is of no consequence really, as she is dealing with an unrepentant cheater – sex or no sex. He made a few of the “right” noises in the beginning, but no follow up, and no permanent changes to help her feel safer. I don’t dismiss ANY kind of cheating or abuse. I was clumsily trying to explain above that MY boundaries had been clearly stated. And restated, over the years. They might be more relaxed than others, he had a lot of female friends, and it never bothered me at all. I do, however, question whether it should have, since he fucked (at least! 😉 ) one.

      We are two people who appeared to be well matched, with open communication. After a lot of reflection, I now understand that he was anxiously attached (a few similarities to your feelings of abandonment, his mother suffered from undiagnosed depression when he was a child, and she would pull him close, then push him away, letting him fend for himself, which, on the surface, he did very admirably.) And I was securely attached. Childhood differences of parenting styles. I just ‘assumed’ (to a fair degree) loyalty. He feared abandonment during a mildly (to me! Severely, to him) rough spot. Having a period of difficulty did not cause me to question our love or commitment at all. His approach was different, due to his different expectations and childhood fears, he thought a rough patch meant I didn’t love him anymore, and his neediness kicked in, and he ran with the morsel (Leanne) that I served up at the wrong time. (Disclaimer: I do know that I did not cause this by reintroducing her to our lives, that it was just serendipitously bad timing, but something would have ‘broken’ somewhere along the line anyway, as this had never been dealt with by him, and he was not communicating any of this.) Such a chasm. And so scarring.

      • Thanks for clarifying. Rough spot – yes. A perfect storm he called it and all for the lack of a willingness to engage. I agree, lies, damned lies and (divorce) statistics. Lies of omission featured heavily also. We didn’t have the good communication prior so crap now. The more I wanted/needed to discuss issues, the more he backed off. Seems that he was/is re-enacting his parent’s relationship of keep your head down and wait for things to pass. That’s what he did and continues to do. Things will sort themselves out without intervention etc etc. Of course they don’t and resentment sets in. This underlined his childhood experiences. Cycle perpetuates. He is more the avoidance insecure attachment style with a touch of aspergers. I’m the anxious insecure attachment style from early experiences however loyal to him. I see that now – done lots of work.

        The experience of your friend resonates. Her H making the ‘right noises’ at the beginning but no permanent change. It’s been an exhausting few years of some couple counselling which he hated. Pregnant pauses so long I thought he was in a catatonic state! It was suggested that he needs to tell me ‘he loves me’, his response, ‘well that’s a given’. No actually it’s not! Suggested that he woos me. His answer ‘How do I do that? Funny if it wasn’t so tragically pathetic. I spent a lot of time nurturing him and trying to put across what I needed him to do for me. Reinforcing good behaviour. As with most of us, the betrayeds do the reading, research and the trying to understand the whys. There comes a time when hey, Life is too short and I’m too old. If so much prompting and prodding is needed where is the authenticity? When the occasional positive gesture is made it is almost hidden by the mass of negatives. I care for him but I don’t want a man-child. Your friend is right – not feeling safe, secure or loved. I can’t remove bricks from my wall, I can’t let vulnerability in. I’ve struggled with believing that if he truly loved me he would make behavioural changes (not as he grumbled personality changes) but finally recognise it won’t happen. He doesn’t get it and he hasn’t got the motivation, ability whatever to do it. This is where his self-focus and self preservation kicks in. I’ve changed. It comes down to Timing.

      • Your experience with therapy sounds sadly familiar. Roger did try. Yes, he hated it. But knew he had to engage.

        I am sorry your H couldn’t see that words, no matter how ‘given’ they are, help. They demonstrate commitment. Not just to you. But also to the long healing process.

  9. Been reading your blog and I love your insight and honesty. You say you are sexless, and you miss it, isn’t that a side effect of the depression and grief? You were very passionate and sexual so that disappearing is temporary, because of your sadness. Also, boundaries. I also trusted my husband 100% and that was a mistake. I now think no one should be naive, even someone with firm boundaries. Because sexual desire is so strong, just don’t get in the situation. I wouldn’t even trust myself with an overnight with an old boyfriend. And so, without saying that it means I think you will cheat I tell my husband I’m not comfortable with x, whatever it is. Like no female friends. We can have couple friends, but no personal connections with opposite sex. No texts or phone calls. I’m just not comfortable with that. Attractions can develop, and even if you have strong limits, its just creating trouble. Also if his friends are cheating, that’s a big influence. I don’t want him having friends who cheat. No contact with any exes, even in groups.
    You said you trusted 100% and now had to build walls to protect yourself, so you can’t trust him. I guess I could say I built fences. I will never again have blind trust, I will always be alert to small things, and check his phone and ask questions, but I still can trust him and be vulnerable and intimate. Like there is a space in between high walls and 100% trust. It’s never going to be the same again. Maybe it’s better I’m not so naive anymore. I had him on a pedestal- he doesn’t belong there (he never bothered to tell me that himself of course). But I can live with it. I don’t agree with all cheaters are narcs (some are of course). Sometimes it’s just boundaries- he was put in a too easy situation. I can accept that if he’s vigilant about future situations. He’s not the man I used to love- he’s different. The relationship is and always will be different. It’s like a new man. The old one is gone. If I had left, I’d have a new man and sadness and happiness. Probably equal to what I have now- a man I see differently and is different to what I thought but still someone I can love and trust. Sadness and joy. I have moments of bitterness but they get fewer and fewer. I can understand what happened, although not some of the lies he told me. (Lies by omission).
    Just the way you write you love just being with him is heartbreaking. There’s no win here.
    But are you together just no sex, or are you not together just living in the same house?
    Because with the former, the dating websites are wrong.
    Has he not had sex in four years with anyone in order to try make it work with you? That’s a big deal.
    And saying he’s especially needy of Sex- everyone is. It’s normal and healthy. He’s not ‘more’. You will be too when you recover from depression/grief/shock.
    What do you need to heal your depression? Acceptance of what he did? Distance from him? What do you need to allow sexuality?

    • Welcome, JSS. Thank you for your thoughts. I will try to answer as best I can. Firstly, there has been some (but not much) sex since the five year mark. But I have lost the ability to orgasm, or orgasm properly. We used to make love about 6 times per week, most days. And my orgasms were intense. And multiple. Every time.

      I have a different way of looking at opposite sex friendships. I think it is fine to have them. But honesty is key. Yes, access to a partner’s phone, which was not something I had to worry about prior to his affair, as he is a technophobe, and was late to the whole mobile phone thing. And chat together about the friend (we actually did this, he would often update me about where she was – she travels a lot for work – that kind of thing. This was a slightly exceptional case, we all knew each other and I thought the three of us were friends.) But, in other words, openness and honesty. I am pretty sure he never did anything inappropriate with any other female friend – but as you know, what is the truth anymore? He says he would definitely tell me know, there is nothing further to lose, and I tend to mostly believe him, as he was very forthcoming with the truth, stuff I didn’t specifically ask for, after D-day, he instinctively knew that his only chance of me POSSIBLY staying with him was if he was 100% honest now. I have male friends. Some very close ones. Even two ex boyfriends. I talk(ed) about them with Rog, as he did with me about the women friends. I was never tempted to flirt, or act inappropriately. It doesn’t seem to be in my nature, not entirely sure why, I think I just bond tightly to one person, and don’t mentally ever ‘go there’ I guess. I’m not even one to moon over male eye candy, as such. I find that kind of thing … kind of exploitative. The only thing I ever did with anyone that did not match my moral compass was the drunken snog once, that I mentioned above. That ‘old friend’ and I were NEVER in contact again. In over 20 years, I was disgusted and really turned off by both my own behaviour, but (somewhat ridiculously) his. I did not go after him, he made all the moves on me, worked on me hard. I found out last year that his second marriage (the one he was in, with a heavily pregnant wife at home with their third, his fourth, child, when he tried to have sex with me, prick!) has been over for years, and he now lives in Germany. I think I knew he was a player. Ugh. And I made sure I told Rog as soon as he returned home from his hunting trip. But everyone’s boundaries are very different. And that is okay. You just need to decide what they are, what you need, communicate that, and agree to a set of guidelines together.

      We currently live together. We have separate rooms now. I don’t enquire into his sex life as it is no longer my concern. We agree not to bring partners here, and to be considerate if there were to be any staying overnight elsewhere. Just let each other know you are not coming home. Just as I would have with anyone I shared a house with. That has happened only once. He says there was no one. He just went out for drinks and arranged to stay as of course he was not driving home. (We live rurally. An hour from three cities. No public transport or taxis serve rural areas.) I don’t care if he did. But he felt the need to let me know he was alone.

      We are listing the farm in the spring (it is autumn here.) It is a unique place, in this locale, and it will be interesting, as it needs a special kind of buyer. A neighbour has expressed interest, but not sure if they can find the funds as they just bought another neighbour about two years ago, they might need more time to consolidate and reduce debt. Once we can get some capital out, we will physically split up. I recently redid our budgets, desperately trying to see if I could squeeze out some rent money for me. With two kids at uni, neither of whom qualify for student allowance (govt paid) and me only working very part time, until I hand in this thesis, it doesn’t work. But, once I do get that out of the way (in the spring) I will be on the job hunt, to try to get something to help with rent. I don’t want to leave my home. I love it here. It is a beautiful spot. I told Rog in the beginning of this awful journey that I felt it was incredibly unfair that I lose my home because of HIS shit. Farming, when you live where you work, is complex, not just because of work-life lack of boundaries, but this. Why should I have to be the one to leave? However, principles are all well and good, finding contentment is more important in the long term.

      Your talk about the ‘normality’ of the need for sex. Well, once upon a time I would have 100% agreed with you. However, speaking with therapists, including two sex therapists, also in the academic literature I am currently working with in my thesis, it would appear that this is not the case. After all, as a start, where does the ‘A’ come from in the acronym, LBGTQIA? There are people who do not feel the sexual urges that the majority do. I don’t consider myself asexual. I do have urges. I do have all of the physical changes that occur to a woman’s body as she reacts to something alluring. I can ‘get started’, but my nerve endings are numbed. I have tried all kinds of things, but the mind movies continue to play constantly during any sex acts. I have never managed to find the off switch. I tried. We went to sex therapy for six months. Ugh. It was AWFUL. The therapist treated me like a woman who had never experienced hot, passionate, throw yourself off a cliff intensity. (Roger was really disappointed in her treating me like a frigid freak, and told her constantly, “but Paula was very into sex, this is new, not a case of not being able to ‘let herself go’ – all uptight and unable to uncoil that spring.”) I have! I did! Our sex life was intense! Yes, sometimes it was also soft, quiet, incredibly intimate, gentle. But my orgasms were always intense. Very intense. Now I can’t seem to find them. I’ve ‘explored’ alone, too. Nope. Gone. I don’t believe I have depression. I have experienced it in the past. Am sure I don’t have it now. Maybe grief. I was diagnosed with complicated grief a few years in. I know this is linked to rape. I have somehow physically shut down all my nerve endings to survive. And I can’t find the on button again (yet!)

      I totally accept what he did. I think I did surprisingly early on. Yes, at first I often woke hoping it was all a wicked dream. But we talked. Still do. We (and I) got shitloads of therapy. I felt there was full acceptance in those first few years. If someone tried to explain this loss of sexuality to me when I was still swinging off the chandeliers (we were pretty hot and then also experienced a prolonged period of two years or so of hysterical bonding, when we were having sex multiple times per day) I would not have understood. At all. I would have said the same things you have. That sex is healthy, required, normal. But I have experienced this now. And it is bizarre. But also ‘normal’. Because it has happened. To me. To some others. Not often. Not to many (thankfully.) But my perfect storm (of my past and my own character traits) meant I was walking a tightrope that he upset with his choices.

      Don’t think I have just hunkered down and accepted this. I will continue to fight to recover my sexual self. But for the last three years it has been a losing battle.

  10. Thanks for the thoughtful response. I guess I thought the dysthymia you mentioned is like depression. My experience of depression has always been like that. Your motivation, your drive, disappears. Feel disconnected, emotions feel dull. not finding joy in life, in things you used to love, not experiencing pleasure and also not orgasming I think connected there. Less interest in your children, just that empty heavy feeling. not connecting to friends anymore. So sad. So many of the things you have mentioned.
    Mind movies sounds like trauma. Trauma held in your body. Maybe emdr or a therapist trained in trauma could help.
    Anyway sorry for all this advice I just really connected with your story and feel all this pain leaking out everywhere, the loss of yourself is so unfair. Of the things you loved, the person you were. Are you angry at yourself? And that you have to leave your home- why can’t he leave? Just trying to make sense of this. Can you see him as a new person and start a ‘new’ relationship and love him differentky? Because he is not who you thought he was before, and what you have is not the same either.
    And you tightly bond and aren’t interested in other people, but not everyone (not him clearly) is like that, even in a loving relationship , so that’s where boundaries come in.
    Also that night they were together in your holiday home, you were worried on a gut level maybe, bc you pulled him over to warn him. You just felt stupid taking it seriously because you trusted him so much. And then again, no matter what boundaries there are Someond who wants to break them will, and will hide it. You didn’t offer her to go up that day with him instead of the next with you, he asked. Big difference. Did you feel put on the spot to say yes, like uncomfortable but couldn’t think of a good logical reason why so you said ok?
    Trying to put myself there, if i felt attracted I would say to my partner- I don’t want her to come up, scared and I don’t trust what will happen bc I find her hot. Takes s lot if guts to say that. Or I would say, we’ve been chatting and I get the feeling she wants to sleep with me.

    • Caught me taking a break from my writing, JSS. I will try to respond to your very kind, and thoughtful observations. Yes, quite possibly dysthymia. I also tried a long period of hypnotherapy to try to quell the traumatic pictures. I have been identified as a very visual person. One counsellor suggested that Rog and I have reverse gendered brains. I understood what he meant by that, when he explained further. Obviously I am ‘typically female’ in my response to the affair, and my need to continue to talk and analyse, as well. I looked into EMDR, but was therapied out, and the ones in the EMDR practitioners in the cities near me did not appeal when I read their profiles, etc. I tried a LOT of different approaches in those first five years post D-day.

      I am very angry at myself. For sure! But I also know that is pointless, and gets me nowhere. But yes, I blame myself for not seeing the red flags, knowing full well that it was never my job to police his behaviour, I never did that, I never wanted that kind of relationship, we appeared to do well without that kind of uber-surveillance of each other. Until ‘we’ (he) didn’t. I just didn’t know he was feeling what he was (stressed and unsure of himself) as he never communicated that with me, either overtly, or more subtly. And yeah, maybe he did more subtly, and I was too damn busy to pay attention? So yeah, more self blame. He tells me not to, that he should have come to me and talked about his doubts and fears instead of diving into Leanne’s vag.

      I am no longer an active farmer. I work on my thesis, the university is an hour away, I work two ten hour days per week, about 45 minutes drive from our farm, and do our business accounts and taxes, which I can do remotely, do not need to live here. So, practicality dictates that I have to be the one to move out. It sucks. And I refused to for a long time, he left, the three times I asked him to leave (in the first two years) to live in our (then) empty farm cottage, and later (once we got staff, who lives in the cottage) to the maimai, which is a few kms up a dirt track, with a petrol generator, and 4WD access only through a locked gate.

      I worked hard for five years to “see him as a new person and love that one,” build something new and different – the thing is, I miss the old one, the one who maybe never existed, and I realised after five years that I was trying to love someone that I didn’t love as much as I wanted/needed to. It was linked with respect. I had such a lot of respect for him, now, far less. I find it hard to put it into words. Like, maybe he died, and everyone decided that I should be with another lovely man, willing me to love him just as much as I did Rog, but I just don’t ENOUGH. It is less, and I could carry on, but I feel like doing so is ACCEPTING LESS. I know I am worth more. And quite honestly, I know HE deserves more than I can give now. And I don’t just mean sex! What started to happen was that everything would be going well, and then he would do something quite miniscule, like not stack the dishwasher the way I prefer, I dunno, don’t even know it that happened, but something domestic and small (which I would NEVER have been annoyed about before, or, maybe I was, but never would have bothered to say anything, just carried on) and I would just feel so pissed at him. I realised I was somewhat swallowing my resentment, and it would boil over at inopportune times. Ugh. I hated being that bitch. And I couldn’t put a lid back on that can of worms …

      As for the first time they went to the lake together, yes, maybe there was a ‘gut’ reaction. It wasn’t terrifying though. They left from the party we were at, together. Everyone waved them goodbye. (Then turned to me concerned, to be honest, I laughed their concerns off. D’uh.) So, really, I totally thought you would have to be an idiot to do anything when all our friends saw them leave together? Well, guess who was the idiot? Hmmm. I can’t explain it. I never trusted her entirely, she is a piece of work, and I knew that. I tend to be a ‘rescuer’ (or I used to be) and I thought I could help her, help soften her, help her with her little boy, all that kind of thing, I thought she needed a friend. But I trusted him completely, and you know, she had cheated on him when they were young, and he had HATED her for a couple of decades, only tolerating her when I started inviting her to things. She has completely different values to us, politically, economically, and obviously morally! I just naively thought he was not attracted to her. The ridiculous thing is, he really isn’t that much! He had ED 50% of the time with her, yes guilt must have played a part, but he has NEVER had ED with me, and I think his description of her ‘just lying there’ did nothing for him. He has ALWAYS (even before the affair) described her as cold and not sexy. Roger swears he had no agenda in taking her there. He didn’t read himself. He says it was at 1am, he lay in bed for over an hour, thinking, “wow, what would happen if I go into Leanne’s room?” His answers to himself were, “she will be open to my advances,” and “Paula won’t care, she doesn’t really love me anymore, anyway. If we get found out, she will have a good excuse to leave.” It totally blows his mind now, but that was what he had convinced himself of at that time.

  11. Paula, I think you are so puzzled by your loss of sexual interest because it is so opposite from where you were before his affair. You described how much you focus your love on one person. (So do I.). I think you have trouble recognizing that you have fallen out of love with Roger. He is a person you care about but you no longer love as a partner. You will probably always worry about him, share stories about your children, but you have moved on.
    You read CL. The consensus there is that cheating is abuse. When you plot, and lie, you are abusing the very essence of your spouse and your marriage. Imagine finding that your spouse is a bank robber. You would no longer believe in his morals, or the lack of them. This was no difference. He actively robbed YOU, and your children, for 15 months but the robbery continues for you. Love cannot live with that sort of abuse. That is why you are no longer interested in his love life. You are not invested in him anymore. There is no sexual jealousy because there is no love. There is only compassion left.

    • Hi Moi. Oh, no question! I know that this is the case. And my psyche has always felt this way, CL, or no CL. My mother demonstrated self preservation when she kicked my Dad out. Even without that, I felt this way – long before there was any cheating in their marriage. I guess I was brought up that way, to have self respect. (Also explains my lack of any recreational sex, although I am absolutely fine with other people getting amongst it!) The love is still there, but is a greatly changed beast. Therefore, the lust dissipated. My question is more, why do I not feel at all sexual? It isn’t just about him. “Self-love” is also a problem. I also know a partial answer to that lies in the bond I create in my mind, that any other pleasure is somehow cheating? Which is weird (totally bizarre really) because I never had any kind of problem with masturbation before.

  12. Paula, I mistakenly put my name to my comment. Could you delete it for me please. I need to take more care. Many thanks.

  13. Paula, I think having to put everything on hold really did put EVERYTHING on hold. You are moving from A to B to C etc. beginning with your children’s education, your education, finances, selling your home, deciding where to live. These are all major issues. Something had to give. Sexual desire shuts down for all sorts of reasons. Grief, just plain old grief for all that you have lost, has to be part of it. Sometimes life just stinks.

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