Newest Member: Restlessnbroken

FireandWater

Avoidance?

WH's new IC told him, "It seems like you had an A as a way of avoiding conflict in your marriage." I asked him to explain further and he said, "IC said I turned to the A as a means to avoid conflict with you." He also said he was going to think about it and discuss it with the IC in more detail next week.

Can someone shed some light on what the IC might have meant? It's true that WH has an extremely avoidant personality. He will avoid conflict and difficult conversations at all costs, both at work and at home. He frequently has a convenient excuse for ending a conversation with me (I have to go the the bathroom, I'm really hungry, I have work to do on the computer, I'm too tired to talk about this, etc.). There never seems to be a good time to really hash something out. He also sabotages conversations by throwing the blame back at me (I thought YOU wanted it that way. I didn't think YOU would want me to do that. YOU said YOU couldn't accept that, etc.). He also tries to end conversations by going to an extreme. (Fine! I'm just an asshole. If that's how you feel then why are we even trying? Fine! If I'm causing you so much pain then YOU obviously don't want me here.) There's tons of avoidance on his part!

But how would having an A avoid conflict with me? It takes an awful lot of effort, time, attention, focus, planning, sneaking around, etc. Wouldn't that cause him even more conflict? He had me on one side, noticing little things and questioning him, prompting to lie, betray and gas-light. He had her on the other side, demanding more and more attention, demanding him to profess his love for her, calling him out on his personality and character flaws. For a conflict-avoider, having a 2-year A put him in a whole new world of conflict, far more than he had at home "avoiding" me. And after I had solid proof and told him to shut it down and get himself into therapy, he said he felt relieved. He had been trying to end it and finally had an out. You'd think he would welcome the chance to cut the conflict caused by the A out of his life. But no, he chose to continue contact (although he swears the sex stopped) and keep sneaking around. When I discovered that and he finally came clean, the conflict only increased by 100%! Sure, he never intended for me to find about about the A or the continued contact. He says he never thought about the potential fall-out. He intended to end it and put it in the past before I ever had the chance to find out. But he didn't. He opened himself up to a huge amount of conflict, which is now experiencing.

So, I'm still not clear on how an A helped him avoid conflict with me? Was that his twisted, sub-conscious reasoning? Is it just the new IC throwing theories at the wall to see what sticks? I'm not saying I think the IC is wrong. He could definitely be onto something. I'm just finding it confusing.

15 comments posted: Sunday, May 7th, 2023

Contacting the other spouse?

I'm only about 10 days out from D-Day. I made my first post here last week and received lots of wonderful support and advice. I do have a question and feel the need to dig more deeply into one theme that was brought up by several posters: contacting the OBS. Many people urged me to contact him and let him know what his wife has been up to. I understand the premise behind this. He deserves to know about the affair, and she needs to face whatever consequences come about in her own marriage.

Here's my dilemma: I don't know the guy. I know nothing about him. I don't know if he's mentally stable, if he has a bad temper, if he's likely to be vindictive toward my husband or my family. I don't know if he will deal with his wife alone, or if he will feel the need to expose my husband as well. As far as we know, only my WH, the OW and I know about the affair. They have a few mutual ex-workers, but really no mutual friends. I'm pretty sure WH did not confide in anyone about the affair. He believes that she also kept it entirely to herself. If she did tell anyone, it's was very likely no one who knows my WH or me. What if I tell the BS and he outs the affair to anyone who will listen, including my family?

We have an adult son with autism. He would be absolutely devastated if he found out. He is a very sensitive guy who doesn't have the ability to fully process his emotions. I firmly believe that knowing about this would put him back several years in the progress he's been making with his social therapist. We also have an adult son who very likely has found the woman he's eventually going to marry. They have big plans to move to a new city later this year and start some very exciting careers. I do not want him having to carry this baggage just as his adult life is beginning. I don't want him to have to worry about anything besides building his new life with his girlfriend and their respective careers. I also have not told my sister, my mom or any of my friends. I just don't want to go there. Truthfully, I'm too embarrassed that this happened. I know I don't bear any responsibility for my WH's poor choices, but I just want to keep this between us. I don't have the desire or the emotional energy to discuss it with anyone else. I don't want my mom and sister dissecting it behind my back, which I know they would. Besides my WH and a therapist, I don't want to discuss it or reveal it to anyone. I also don't know if the OBS has violent tendencies. What if he decides to come after my WH? Stranger things have happened.

There's no way I can be sure that telling the other BS won't open a huge can of worms. I have no idea who he is, how he would feel about it and what he would do. I don't think I'm being paranoid. I honestly don't know what fallout might occur. For these reasons, I do not currently plan to contact him. I would appreciate any relevant experiences or input. Thanks!

17 comments posted: Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

Just Found Out; Need Advice

I'm new here. I never thought I would be in a place like this, but I'm glad to have found this community of people who are going through the same pain and sadness I am feeling. My husband and I have been married for almost 34 years. We met when I was 16 and he was 19, dated for seven years, got married and had two beautiful children. Our marriage hasn't been perfect. We've had our ups and downs. I'm not going to go into a lot of details here, but there's been a real lack of communication. I take ownership for some of this. I realize and acknowledge that it takes two people to make or break a marriage. However, I also take my vows very seriously and am floored, reeling and disgusted that he did not.

I have suspected that he's had emotional affairs in the past. I can recall twice when his relationships with co-workers seemed inappropriate to me. Of course he would say they were just friends but, after leaving his Facebook messenger open, I realized he was bad-mouthing me to these people. I don't think either relationship became physical. He did admit to having "crushes" on these people but didn't think "venting" about me was wrong. I thought we had gotten past these issues long ago, but the communication issues remained.

In 2020, he started a new job that was supposed to last about a year. Because of Covid, it ended up lasting about 6 months longer. He started telling me about his co-workers, but one name seemed to come up frequently. It was a woman he had to work closely with and he said they shared the same frustrations about the job. I began to notice her name coming up more and more. He would tell me about things she had said. She also started calling after hours, which didn't seem that unusual since they were working from home at that point and the workday wasn't the standard 8:00 - 5:00 p.m. His boss would sometimes call after hours as well, so I didn't think much of it.

After the job ended, I knew that he continued a "friendship" with the woman. She's married and has a college-aged daughter. My husband told me about her daughter being on the autism spectrum (as is our oldest son). He said they had conversations about their kids since they had that in common. He even involved me in a discussion with her once since she needed advice about her daughter's anxiety. I wholeheartedly tried to help as best as I could.

As the months went on, I kept hearing this woman's name. The group of co-workers from the former job would get together every few week and take walks. He said most of them were unemployed (as was he at the time) and they liked discussing job search tips and their frustrations about finding new jobs. Of course, "she" was always there. Now I wonder if these walks were just excuses to meet up with her.

At Christmas, my husband gave me two pairs of pajamas. I asked him where he found them and he said, "Oh, "she" bought them at Costco." I asked why "she" was buying me gifts for him to give me. He said, "Well she has a Costco membership and we don't. She saw the pajamas and thought you would like them, so she asked if I wanted her to buy them so I could give them to you." Of course, this raised a red-flag for me. I asked why he couldn't buy me gifts by himself. He said it was no big deal, she was just helping him out and he was glad because he didn't know what to get me. I said, "Seriously? I had an Amazon wish list and you've know me for 40 years. Finding gifts for me is pretty easy." Still he tired to justify it and blow it off.

After more sketchy behavior, I found some emails a few days ago that the two of them had exchanged. It was all there in black and white. They had been having a sexual affair for well over a year. The emails were downright disgusting and made me sick to my stomach. It was no wonder I couldn't get my husband's attention or connect with him. All of his focus and emotional energy was on her. She sent him a list of her concerns about their "relationship" and demanded answers. He typed out promises to be more present, mindful, attentive, etc. There were also sexual details that made me want to puke!

I texted him immediately and said he needed to come straight home after work (he now works at a school and was planning to stay and watch a soccer game). He didn't respond. I then texted him on his work phone. Still no response. He claimed later that he didn't see my texts. Turns out he did, decided I must have found out, and called her immediately. He says he told her that I probably knew and that it would have to be over between them. She begged him to meet up with her so she could say goodbye. According to him, he said no and came home. I got into his car on the driveway so our kids wouldn't hear what I had to say. I said, "This is how it's going to go. You end it now. No more calls, no more texts, no more meetings, no more sex and we get into marriage counseling and figure this out. Or you may leave my house now." He said, "I want counseling. I've always wanted counseling." I asked why he never suggested it. He said, "You know me. I hate confrontation. I hate difficult conversations so I avoided them with you. I was weak, but I want to be better."

Over the next couple of days, I asked him for the answers I needed. How long has this been going on? Over a year. I then thought to check the cell phone bills, which I didn't usually do. I was shocked and hurt to see that he had been talking to her multiple times every single day. This is a man who claims he doesn't see missed calls or texts from me. He says he doesn't look at his phone that often. I bought him a freakin' Apple Watch for Christmas so my texts would twitch his wrist. I don't expect an immediate answer, just for him to at least see it. It didn't seem to help. But he was talking to her each day on his way to work, at lunchtime, on his way home and late at night after I'd gone to bed. I felt so betrayed. I even looked up specific dates. We took a family vacation last year for his 60th birthday. I planned and arranged the whole thing. I even suggested we spend more on a hotel and have some really nice meals so his birthday trip would be special. It was a slap in the face to see that he'd been talking to her multiple times a day during our trip. We took another trip last year for our younger son's college graduation. This was the culmination of four long years of hard work and sacrifice so our son could attend his dream school. It was a celebration for all of us. Yep, she was on that trip too. Thinking back, I have no idea where or when he was making these calls. I feel played. I feel manipulated. I feel disgusted.

Still, I don't want to throw away our marriage. I don't want to spend the future alone. I had dreams of spending it with him. He says he wants to figure things out and stay with me. He says he knew what he was doing was wrong. He also said he tried to end it many times but she would cry and make him feel guilty. He says he was too weak to follow through.

Here's where I need advice from those who have been there. I told him he needed to immediately stop all contact with her. He said he would, but I also know that there were talking late at night on Saturday (the day after I found and confronted him). He said she called him because she couldn't sleep. She's grieving the end of the relationship. She needs closure. He feels badly for making her feel that way. I told him it's not his problem. She chose to get involved with a married man. She played with fire. She got burned. He said she's also sad because tomorrow is her birthday and her husband and daughter have barely acknowledged it. They took her out for dinner the other night before her daughter had to return to college. Neither gave her a card or gift, even though it was supposed to be her birthday dinner. She was hoping she would be able to talk to my husband on her birthday to make her feel better. I said I don't care if it's her birthday. She is not entitled to any further time or attention from my husband. If he really wants to work on things with me, he needs to cut off all contact. He told me she called him once on his work phone since she knows I'm looking at our phone bills. I told him that's not OK either and that he needs to block her number from both phones and unfriend her on Facebook. My husband says he will follow through and do these things. My question is: Am I being unrealistic to trust that he will? Of course, he broke my trust in the worst way already. Am I being gullible to think there will be no further contact between them? I told him I don't care if she's grieving. I'm grieving too. I don't care if her husband and daughter treat her badly. That's her problem for allowing them to treat her that way. It's not my husband's problem to make her feel better about herself. I'm also a very empathetic person and I hate that I feel heartless toward her. But I think I'm entitled to feel that way. I really have no sympathy for her, but I pity her. She says she's mourning the loss of the friendship. They both threw away whatever friendship they had when they crossed that line.

I also need advice about counseling. I'm not sure how it works. My husband knows that he needs individual counseling to work out his own issues (avoiding conflict, etc.). We also need to figure out things as a couple. I read that a marriage counselor is there to focus on the marriage but not individual counseling. So do we need to find two different therapists? And while I definitely acknowledge that I have ownership in this too, he says he has a lot to work out for himself. So does he begin individual counseling first? Do we see a marriage counselor first? Do we do these things simultaneously? And how do you choose a marriage counselor? There are over 300 in our area that take our insurance. I've read some Yelp reviews, but that doesn't seem like the right place to choose someone for such an important function in our lives. I would appreciate any input.

Thanks for letting me vent. It actually felt good to write it all out. I do feel my husband is sincere in wanting to repair our marriage and recommit to me. He says he feels a sense of relief that I found out, it's over and we can move to the next step. While I want to feel hopeful, I don't want to be gullible and get blind-sided again.

26 comments posted: Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

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