Is age a factor

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Faces of Betrayal

I realize there will be no scientific analysis here. I am merely throwing out something that has been rattling around in my brain for quite some time. Maybe a discussion will ensue. I hope so.

How do betrayed spouses decide whether to stay or go. What are all the factors, realizing each of us has a unique set of circumstances, for deciding to leave our marriages, or stay with our partners. I’m speaking pretty generally here, sometimes more specifically when it relates to sex addiction, but mostly the question I am pondering is, does age have anything to do with the decision making process? Prior to finding out our partners were cheaters, I think most of us would have said if our spouses cheated, we would leave. But the truth is, when given the choice, many of us don’t.

Here on the betrayed spouse blogs, and in discussions outside of this blog with betrayed wives, both wives and partners of sex addicts, and wives and partners of non addicts,  I have noticed some similarities. It could be coincidental, or maybe not. The women I have either read about and or met, range in age from their late 20’s into their mid 70’s. And then, when evaluating age as a potential factor in terms of staying or going, does it also factor in to the healing.

Whether we stay or go, in my opinion, healing is about realizing we are the masters of our own emotional destiny. Finding joy in life again, finding happiness in our daily activities is our responsibility. There is no set timeline, we all heal differently, and mental health issues play a part, past wounds left untreated, underlying depression, the list goes on and on in terms of how this process plays out. Being truly happy, again, may require drastic measures be taken. For some of us, that will mean we must leave the men who hurt us. But for those of us who have a choice (in other words, our partners did not leave us), how is that choice made? I know for me, it was not a line drawn in the sand. I didn’t say on one particular day, that today I have decided to stay with him forever. No. My staying is dependent on a lot of factors, namely, that I am happy. I have learned how to define happy now. I never much thought about it before discovery as I think I just took happy for granted. Not any more. Part of my happiness is attached to my feeling of safety. Do I feel safe in my marriage? Safe from emotional and or physical harm. Potentially a very fluid concept.

Maybe these cheating men (obviously there are women, wives, etc… but I am speaking specifically to what I see most on blogs and in real life) haven’t fully embraced their culpability when it comes to not only the acts of betrayal, but their own healing process as well. The thing is, the betrayed are not going to just get over it (ever), but especially not if the betrayer isn’t taking responsibility for what has been done and showing us, through his actions, that he will never do it again. The odds of a cheater never cheating again seem to be low, but perhaps that is because they don’t do the work to fix what is wrong… their own personal damage, which propelled them into cheating in the first place. During this process I have realized that not only must my husband continue to actively work on himself, but he also needs to embrace my needs, especially those related to my healing from HIS betrayal. He knows this is all on him. I did nothing wrong and yet, I have spent hours and hours in therapy and talking and writing about what happened and my healing. This is because I want to be a healthy, happy person. I want to be able to move past the cheating and lies, and focus on a healthier marriage. A big part of that is on him. He needs to know that and embrace it and do the hard work, every day.

At this point, I have decided to stay with my husband because he understands that he has an addiction, an illness, that he cannot ignore. He needs to actively work on himself so that he can be a viable partner. What he did was never about me. Even if he wasn’t a sex addict, he would still need to be working on being a better person than he was the day he decided to cheat, and all those days after, all the days of cheating and lying. He understands my trauma. He knows I will NEVER just get over it and he still wants to keep working with me on our marriage. He is actively being transparent and building trust. Transparency and honesty do not come naturally to him. Even on the difficult days, he stays sober, he comes home, he shares, he remembers how he got us here in the first place. This is all good and helps me want to stay in this story that we have been living for 35 years. We have built a successful business together. We have two wonderful children. We love each other and want to be together and we share a lot of joy together. But I do often wonder how things would be different if I was younger, or older. I found out about his secret life in my 50th year. Our children were grown, just barely. Our finances were more secure than they had been the previous 30 years of our marriage. We weren’t struggling with any terminal marital woes. “We” were actually in a good place. I was in a good place. He was apparently drowning in his lies and brokenness.

If I had found out about his lying, and cheating back when we were in our 20’s, before we had children, would I have still been so keen on making it work? If I had known, when our children were young, and we were in our mid-thirties that he had already cheated on me with three women, plus all the hours and hours of grooming he had done, and the absolutely creepy relationship with the slutty secretary? Not to mention the woman who wanted him to punch her in the face??? Could I have “handled” it? When those relationships were “fresh,” all having happened between 1999 and 2001, would I have wanted to stay then? At that time would he even have been diagnosed as a sex addict?  How would I have reconciled all the lying and cheating, then? I surely would have thought he couldn’t be faithful. I have never been a woman who felt like I needed to compete for “my” man. Would I have even wanted to put in the work to resurrect our marriage, or would I have decided I could find happiness elsewhere, potentially with someone else? Much easier potentially in my thirties? How would he have responded? Would he have told the whole truth, about how horrible he feels about himself, about the years of porn and masturbation, about how he never felt good enough… would I have cared as much, twenty years ago?

And on the flip side, what if his secret hadn’t been revealed until I was older, maybe well into my 60’s or 70’s? Would the love still be there after all the lies were revealed? Would I resent the fuck out of him for stealing SO MUCH of my life away? I felt some of that at the beginning, when I was 50, but then realized nothing had been stolen. What I had was real. Would I still feel that way if the stress really started to eat away at my already much older body, and mind? Would I stay because leaving seemed like less, all around, than staying. Would I resent myself for staying? If I were 70, would I want to be alone? Right now alone sounds just fine, but in 20 years will it? Would it just be easier to stay and be companions… letting the deep love go? I spoke very early on with a woman in her 70’s. Her husband hadn’t been diagnosed as a sex addict until they were in their 60’s. He was a successful heart surgeon nearing retirement. They had raised two kids, had grandkids. When she found out about all his lying and cheating, she refused to let her husband touch her. The intimate part of their relationship died. Never to be resurrected. She was nearing a decade of shutting him down sexually when I spoke with her, still very clearly resenting him and still having bad days. She came across as very bitter. The conversation was a sad one. She told me that it was just easier to stay. He still professed his love for her. He was in active recovery, had been for a decade, still is. She didn’t want to live with less, less house, less money, less status. She didn’t want to live alone. The kids know, about their Dad. She felt like she was compromising, but it was her choice, to stay. Bitterness and resentment are ever present. She made her choice, but hates him for it.

I would hope that the love for my husband would have always been enough for me to stand by his side during all this. That’s the way I love. I don’t think it’s really a choice at this point, it’s who I am. Maybe because I know deep down my husband is a wounded child trying to break through to that healthy mature adult. I know, despite all the abusive and cruel things he did, that he is actually a loving, caring human being doing the best he can with what he was given. Without the sex addiction diagnosis, however, I’m not sure how he would have truly been able to tackle what goes so very very deep inside him. I am grateful for that diagnosis and even though it has been a roller coaster ride, I’m grateful for the treatment we have received, and the friendships we have nurtured on this recovery/healing path.

So what do you all think? Do you think age at discovery is a factor in deciding whether to stay or go?

46 thoughts on “Is age a factor

  1. The biggest factor in making the decision to me is financial. Knowing that I do not have to rely on my husband to support me or my kids, nor am I totally reliant on employment income (so I will have time to spend with my kids).
    My husband knows this too.
    It allows me the option of separating from his chaos while still trying to maintain a close friendship. Waiting to see how things work out. See if we can start to rebuild trust, if intimacy is still possible.
    The lies and betrayal call into question everything that came before into question. What was a lie? Where was he that day?

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    • Sorry it has taken me so long to acknowledge your comment. I’m traveling for business, 6 countries in 16 days, and am sick as a dog. Ugh!

      Finances weren’t a factor for me, but our kids are grown, our business established, different circumstances. I totally understand needing that security for you and your kids.

      Feeling safe, reestablishing your story, your reality, are all issues, but you can do that simultaneously while working on your marriage, if that is what you want, and becoming more financially stable. Taking time and not making impulsive decisions can be just as important as metabolizing all the pain. xo

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  2. Excellent topic, Kat.

    THIS – – – “Do I feel safe in my marriage? Safe from emotional and or physical harm. Potentially a very fluid concept.”

    That’s the tricky part, the fluidity. And our new definitions of safety, with the knowledge that we now have. Defining safety is, most likely, a very personal journey for each of us.

    For me, it’s hard to truly believe my husband b/c he lied/betrayed so much for so long. I struggle with that – – – how can I now believe a habitual, conscious liar? The presence of “lies, no matter the size” contributes to me not feeling safe. I know my husband is sexually sober, but he still blurts out lies about minor things w/o thinking. So, that makes me wonder.

    I think their process of recovery isn’t like a light switch (into sudden clarity and transparency). Like you said – “fluid”. So, in the interim, all I have is my boundaries and keen observation skills.

    It’s tough.

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    • It’s very tough. The toughest part, I think, is healing from the betrayal trauma while having compassion and understanding for the addiction, all while not knowing whether we can trust our partners anymore. The only way through this for me is knowing I will survive and thrive, regardless of what my husband does. I’m really hoping he wants to stay sober and continue to work on his honesty and integrity, but this is not a simple flip of a switch. It’s a long journey out of the process addiction and into reality with the rest of us. They haven’t been living with honesty and integrity for many years. They convinced themselves they needed something else, to survive. They don’t, but realizing it, believing it, and living it, are all different concepts. Each day is a new opportunity for them to recover and us to heal. xoxo

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      • I absolutely love how you worded this Kat. “The only way through this for me is knowing I will survive and thrive, regardless of what my husband does. I’m really hoping he wants to stay sober and continue to work on his honesty and integrity, but this is not a simple flip of a switch. It’s a long journey out of the process addiction and into reality with the rest of us. They haven’t been living with honesty and integrity for many years. They convinced themselves they needed something else, to survive. They don’t, but realizing it, believing it, and living it, are all different concepts. Each day is a new opportunity for them to recover and us to heal.” This has taken me a long time to realize but now that I do, added to my brand new support group of women like me who are walking alongside of me, gives new meaning and purpose to my life. Thank you to me new secret sisters. You know who you are.

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          • I’ve been pondering the validation part recently and realized that most “helping people” I have sought out (whether a therapist, doctor, counselor, etc.) have not validated me. We need validation for our severe trauma, and yes, that we are not “crazy” – I don’t like that word, but it does fit.

            Who has validated me and helped me feel safe? Other partners/spouses who’ve been betrayed, the psychologist who handled our formal therapeutic disclosure (but she is in TX many states away and I can’t see her for regular therapy), and my psychiatrist who explained PTSD and literally said, “You aren’t ‘crazy’, you were traumatized.” Oh, and my GYN doctor. She is an amazing person.

            I’ve given up on therapists in our area. We are starting Emotionally Focused Therapy as a couple with a therapist who is in another country. Yep, we live on the border of Canada, so I am grateful we have found someone within a reasonable distance who seems to have a good approach and understanding with SA/Betrayal Trauma. It’s sad, though, that we literally have to cross a border to find help. (And we got a bazillion questions last time when we told the customs guy “medical appointment” last time. OY. Shame.) I didn’t want “mental health” appointment on my record for border crossing, and they do keep a record of a person’s reasons for going to the other country.

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            • We all have unique circumstances and needs when it comes to healing. So many factors play in to our mental health. We did travel for therapy and treatment. Local resources never really fit my needs, but after the initial intensive, BE has found a proper community, both 12 step and therapeutic, here in our area. Me, meh. My healing was all about me. I understand fairly well my own strengths and weaknesses now (after trauma therapy) that played in to my healing. I needed to really understand his illness and reestablish my boundaries and reconnect with “me,” simultaneous to his recovery, and things are pretty good now. I needed to know that who he was and what he did wasn’t about me or our marriage and that there was nothing I could do to make it better for him other than be true to my own needs and boundaries and be there for him in whatever capacity I am able. I hope you find that safe space for you both to heal. ❤️

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  3. I think age is absolutely a factor, but it’s one of many. Youth might help a person to feel that they have more choices to start again and make new life for themselves, while when you are older, you might feel like you have less options (romantically and financially). At age 38 I felt like I could start again — not that I had a choice, and thank god I didn’t have kids (that’s another huge factor). But yeah, age is a huge factor. The younger you are, the easier it is to pick up and start over.

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    • It is all incredibly difficult because we had a story in our heads of how it would be. I do think when we are younger we might think that perhaps we can still have that fairy tale, walk off into the sunset, happily ever after. I think the older we are, the more we realize that just isn’t possible, really with anyone. Sure, we can be happy and content, but marriage is hard work put in by both people, lots of compromise.

      I know I could “start over” although I’m not sure marriage would be where I would want to start. I agree that kids can complicate things when marriages are struggling, but finances are also a huge factor for a lot of people in terms of staying, or going. It would be cool if people actually took their marriage vows as seriously as they did other aspects of life. It seems we live in a throw away society. Very sad when it comes to hurting people we once professed to love. xo

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  4. I am one of the younger betrayed spouses – I suppose. I married my husband when we were 20 and found out he was having an affair when we were 28. We had two kids at that time of discovery but If I would have found out he had already effed the scuz before I had gotten pg with my 2nd little one, I think I would have ran – like run Forrest run style lol. Or so I would like to think. I do know now that recovering from such betrayal is a ton of work – seriously TOO MUCH! I live with what he has done and realizing we are only 33 with this in our history. Knowing we are so young and this already happened is definitely alarming. I try not to sit and think about the what if’s cuz nothing ever goes as planned so I play more “day by day”. With that said, we have recently had our third little one and no matter how much more I get invested in our marriage, if there is ever another affair on his behalf, I will leave. Thats FACT! …I do understand why some ppl stay based on longevity of the relationship or age factor tho. Why start over at 70? – yet, I also feel as tho if you are going to stay, no one should be punished for something they did years ago…

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    • I agree that we can’t keep punishing for long ago bad acts, but as you say, it also takes a long time to get through the healing and both parties need to be honest and open and vulnerable. Compromise is what marriage is all about. But being hurt, and feeling unsafe, aren’t part of the deal. Infidelity definitely changes the dynamics of a marriage, but doesn’t have to destroy it. Congratulations to both of you on the new little one!!! How fun! ❤️

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  5. This is an interesting question and I’ve pondered it over the past couple of years since my own D-day in June 2015. I was somewhat unhappy with my life, husband and marriage in 1990 and decided to go to grad school so I would have a way to support myself and my kids if my marriage ended. I did not suspect my husband of infidelity at that time (or at all, ever) and I just wanted to make sure that I did not end up with three kids and no profession. In hindsight, my marriage did not improve much because the family dynamics began going wonky but I felt pretty safe and secure because I was able to completed school and all my clinical training so I was employable. Knowing me, if I had any idea what was going on with my husband at that time I probably would have tried counseling with one foot out the door. So many things happened after grad school for me, including the onset of a debilitating autoimmune disease that hit me within two weeks of completing grad school. The following years were so hard and so painful physically for me and thoughts of my marriage were zilch as it was all I could do to hold it together every day. I am still fairly confident that had I gone to counseling with him at that point in time (giving both of us a chance to work it out) I would have better boundaries in place for the decades that followed. I stay now because of a lot of reasons but I am clear in my head that I could walk out of this house and begin a new life elsewhere without a whole lot of difficulty. I was raised in the service and we moved all the time. I make friends easily and can entertain myself without trouble. I would be fine without him and I think that is why I can stay and ride this out. I don’t love him like I use to think I did and I have no idea if that will ever change but over the past three years I’ve proved to myself that I can do everything and anything I want/need in the event I have to. Hope this makes sense. I have created my own sense of safety and as long as he doesn’t do anything that makes me feel unsafe with him, I’ll probably stay.

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    • We all have stories to tell. Thank you for sharing some of yours here. It does make sense. Being safe is especially critical for wives of SAs. There’s a lot of components that go into their secret lives… causing emotional pain of course, but sometimes putting our physical selves in danger. A lot of danger. It’s critical to know what they’re capable of and for us to set proper boundaries. And yes. I have learned that knowing I can leave and be fine has been critical to my healing. xo

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    • I forgot to add that I was 64 when my husband disclosed to me in 2015. Married 40 years, three adult kids plus several grand kids, all whom adore and worship my husband. I think if I did not have a girl, I might have seriously considered telling my kids but honestly, as long as he stopped all inappropriate activity I was okay keeping this secret. It makes me sick inside at times. Our daughter is Asian and my husband always bought Asian whores. This is a huge trigger for me that cannot be fixed and I will remain suspect of him and his motives with Asian whores till I die. Yesterday, our daughter was over with her husband and kids and they were laughing and telling us a story about meeting friends a couple of weeks ago for dinner. My son-in-law and two of his best friends married Asian women so when they told us the story, my SIL joked about people looking at them. My daughter and he laughed and said, “It’s like us white guys had prostitutes on our arms.” Holy shit. I sat there trying not to faint or puke as my husband sat silent across from me. To say that this morning is awkward as was last night after they left is an understatement. I don’t even know how to process this myself or with him. All I can do is scream inside my head, “That was the past, that was the past, that was the past.” “He isn’t doing that now.” It is so hard right now not to lash out at him and create more pain but I know he is filled with pain and remorse and disgust with himself without my poking him.” I’m so glad I get to work today and get out of the house. He is aware of my pain and the fact that I am quiet. There is a current of “uh-oh” swirling around us. I can only work on me and how my body and mind are reacting to this. I’m so fucking tired of hearing, “I’m sorry.” Right now, this feels like it will never end.

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      • Marie, I can relate to your feelings. I’ve come to truly love my job for the peace it brings me. All you can do in situations like you describe is remember to breathe. ❤️❤️❤️

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      • Having outlets and our own independent and fulfilling lives is crucial, I think. If nothing else, for the distraction, but also for the self fulfillment. My traveling with my husband the first couple of years was downright torture, but now I enjoy it. Outsiders might not see it this way, but that travel was torture. Going away for 10 weeks to work on myself really helped. Some people in my life were shocked I wanted to go away for so long. Mostly those are people who have no idea what I’ve been through and the toll it took on me emotionally and physically. We all do what we gotta do! ❤️

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        • A friend (POSA) went away for quite a while this past summer and she said it calmed her central nervous system. I can see how that could help (being away and working on ourself).

          I’m not in the “head-space” for that right now. My home is like a security blanket for me. I went away by myself, with friends (for the 1st time) last weekend, and it was lovely. Baby steps, eh?

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          • I went away to the betrayed wives seminar for 3 days, 9 months post dday. It was really tough. I went away for 6 weeks, 2 1/2 years post dday. Much much better. I went away for 10 weeks earlier this year (4 years post dday) and it was fantastic for me mentally and physically. We are all different and if home is a security blanket, hold on to it tight. I was agoraphobic for about 6 months post dday. I shook and became physically ill and was afraid of the stalking other woman, and really just the outside world in general. With time, that part of the PTSD subsided, thankfully. I still have some issues with transitions and traveling, but am getting there. Baby steps is absolutely correct. ❤

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  6. ” Do you think age at discovery is a factor in deciding whether to stay or go?” In a way you are answering this with how you describe your journey. Anyway you look at your partnership/marriage, it’s all grace: crazy, wild, undeserved, unbounded, foolish grace. What do I think? I think you have to receive love from the Lover of our Souls to be able to love anyone, anyways. And to the extent we can receive love, and love ourselves, is the extent we can extend the boundaries to include a spouse who deeply hurts us. Of course, as you so richly write here, there’s so many factors, including just plain “I want to love the person I love.” Inexplicable, and profound. Here’s to grace to keep going, and grace to have wisdom. I’m just a fool trying to figure it our myself: https://moreenigma.com/2018/06/04/all-we-have-is-today/

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    • Rusty, I read your blog. Thank you for the words of wisdom. Many years ago, way before d-day, I was complaining to an African friend of mine about something my husband had forgotten to do for me. She said, “The purpose of marriage is not to make you happy, it’s to make you holy.” I’m sure I rolled my eyes at her at the time, but I’ve often thought about what she said. Reading the blessing on your blog made it all make sense. I read it to my husband and he liked it, too. Happy may we be. 😊

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    • Thanks, Rusty, for your kind comment. I do believe in writing this out I described my situation, and that I probably would not have left, regardless of age. I was wondering how others feel. Sometimes having grace means leaving, for our own health. I’m thankful to have a choice.

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  7. I do believe age is a factor. In the almost three years that I have been in recovery, I have attended support groups, and the women who are choosing to stay are almost all over 50. I was 66 when I found out about my husband’s addiction and he was 69. He had been practicing his addiction for over 30 years and probably since he was a teen if you count the all the time he spent in fantasy and masturbation. Here we were, in our senior years looking at splitting up. I still loved him and we were very compatible. I considered him my best friend. I literally had never contemplated life without him, other than occasionally thinking about what would happen if he passed away. I couldn’t even fathom what splitting up would look like at that point. When he got into recovery, I clung to that like a lifeline. His first 1.5 years of recovery were very rocky. He struggled horribly. But in the meantime, I was coming out of my fog, got help, worked on myself, and came to believe that I would be fine if we split up. I also realized I was no longer willing to live with half-baked recovery, even if it meant taking a hit financially and even if it meant I would live alone the rest of my life.

    I think if I had been much younger, I wouldn’t have been willing to take the risk. The young women I have known seem to look at it as if they were just unlucky or naive to have ended up with this man, and that they’ll do better next time. Next time, they’ll know what signs to look for. I can understand that thinking.Certainly the culture today supports leaving a cheater.

    I know a couple of older women in my support groups who choose to stay only because they don’t want to take the financial hit. I understand that reasoning all too well. However, they are resentful, bitter, angry and have nothing good to say about their husbands who are in recovery. One of them constantly refers to her “crappy marriage.” I decided that was not the route for me. If I chose to stay, which I have, I would do the work to rebuild the relationship with my husband, and I would do the work I needed to do to forgive him. For me, that means learning all I can about SA so that I can better understand it, and working on myself to learn how to set boundaries, trust appropriately, and to learn who my husband really is. I feel like I never really knew him. Now I insist on getting to know him. .

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    • I can relate to everything you have said, Maggie. Although there are younger couples in my husband’s SA meeting/group that have been able to make it work. For SA’s I think wanting to be sober and being active in recovery are critical, regardless of age. I can understand women wanting to start over, I’m pretty sure though, I would have chosen to stay and see it through. Pretty sure I was trained for this. xo

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  8. I don’t think so much age, as years invested. In most cases, our love grows over time, we have children together. So yes, we are older and it was definitely a factor in my decision to stay. We were able to rekindle our love, with a lot of work. But had it only been a few years in, with no kids, I would think I probably would have left. There wasn’t as much vested, in time or family (kids).

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    • What you are saying makes total sense. We met when we were 20, two grown kids, and 30 years together at discovery of his secret life. I’m just not sure what either of us would have done without the SA diagnosis. Discovery for me included decades of lies and betrayal. So kids or no kids together, he still has a lot of work to do. It would have always been that way. We never stopped loving each other. None of this, ironically, was ever about our marriage. It’s all so super complicated. I know there are some younger women out there who left… I totally get that. It’s kind of sad because now they’re back out in the single world having to navigate knowing how messed up it can all be, especially trying to make sure some woman doesn’t stab us in the back by trying to steal what doesn’t belong to her. At this age, 55, I wouldn’t be concerned about remarrying. Been there done that kind of thing?

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      • Realizing that my husband’s acting out had nothing to do with our marriage was a big factor in my decision to stay. The gift of his 1.5 years of pseudo recovery was getting to see up close how crazy he was when it came to the acting out. That said, without his decision to get in real recovery, and to do the work to recover, I would not stay. It took work on my part, and detaching big time, but I believe I would be fine on my own.

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  9. I found out at age 48, after 2 kids and 13 years of marriage. I stayed (and intend to stay as long as my husband continues his recovery and I am safe). If I’m being brutally honest, if we did not have kids/ houses/pets etc., I am reasonably sure I would have left. It’s not to say that I wouldn’t have loved him or that I would have taken my vows any less seriously, but the calculus of the lifetime of betrayal and SA recovery (and ensuing vigilance) versus just letting go? For my own well being I believe I would have let go. I’m sad to say that, but I think it’s true. Sometimes cutting bait is necessary.
    ❤️

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    • I totally understand. After writing this out though, I’m pretty sure I would have stayed as long as he was actively in recovery. I can totally do the cut and run, have done it before with toxic people, but I really do believe deep down that my husband is worth sticking around for. But I guess we never know. One day at a time! xo

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  10. I said to Rog, bizarrely, “why didn’t you do this after 7 years instead of 22?” I felt sure I would have left then, lol. One kid instead of three. Less invested of your life. Fresh starts feel a bit more achievable. That said, I know fresh starts are achievable at any age. But it does ‘seem’ easier younger.

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    • Yeah, I just don’t know about the younger versus older thing. I’m pretty sure I was in it from the get go. My first question to him was, “do you want to be with someone else?” Because honestly in my simple brain I couldn’t imagine any other reason why someone would cheat and lie like he did. He met someone he wanted to be with more than he wanted me. He didn’t want to be part of our little family anymore. Now I know there are a lot of reasons why people cheat, and most of them aren’t about wanting to be with someone else.

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  11. We had only our daughter at the time (our son was the product of hysterical bonding). There were days that she was the only reason I got out of bed. She was also the reason on many occasions that I didn’t leave. At least that was the reason I gave myself. Who knows if I really would have or not. I always said if he cheats I’m out. I do believe that if he cheated early on, there wouldn’t have been enough good to save the relationship (we were married lucky number 13 years when he had affair). I also am much more confident and stronger now than I was when I was younger. So who knows if I would have stayed or left.
    You nailed it with the need to feel safe. I’ve often told him I need to feel safe in this relationship. It took him a bit to understand that safe means emotionally. I trust him with my life quite honestly. I trust him without question to keep me physically safe. Emotionally though is a tougher sell. Unfair to him, I’ve always struggled with that. I had an emotionally and physically abusive boyfriend at 15 yrs old. My husband was the next boy I dated. I also got no help to deal with what I’d been through. My family’s method of dealing is act like it never happened. So I carried that with me. And I never really let my husband in. I kept him at arm’s length. If I didn’t let him too close he couldn’t hurt me, right? HA! That was wrong. The pain from his affair is far worse for me than the abuse I experienced).
    That is part of the reason I stayed. I know he was in pain for a long time before he had his affair. He told me about it. We went to therapy. He knows there is no excuse for what he did and that it has to do with him and not just our marriage. But, our marriage, and really the lack of vulnerability and true intimacy was a major factor for him. He’s said that he wasn’t looking for anything or anyone. He met her while traveling with his former business partner who is a serial cheater. He was at rock bottom. Thought there was nothing left between us. Started talking as friends. And we all know where it goes from there. Anyway – I think the most mature thing I’ve ever done is see his affair from his perspective. And I don’t think I could have done that as a younger woman. I also don’t think we would have “snapped” out of the cycle we were in without something pretty drastic to get our attention.
    I will never say his affair was a good thing. I will never be glad for it. I can’t imagine a day where it doesn’t at least sting. Or times when I feel the pain, get triggered, etc. But I can say that I have grown immensely since his affair. Not because of his affair. But because of how I choose to deal with it. The work I do in my own healing. Its all unfair. It all sucks. I wish I could take it all away and make it so it never happened. But, if it didn’t – would I have grown? Would I be as strong as I am today?
    What’s that saying about without the darkness you can never see the light?

    Liked by 7 people

    • I wonder what would have happened if he had told you before having the affair, that he was thinking about it. That he felt the marriage was dead and he wanted to move on? I know we’re all fallible human beings and emotional maturity often takes years, but at this point infidelity just seems so cliche. Because it happens so often, sometimes I think cheaters don’t even contemplate the devastation that will ensue. I’m glad you were able to make your marriage work. It is so true that most of believe cheating is a deal breaker. Until it happens to us. Then, at least in my case, we realize the emotional attachment we have to our partners can be much stronger than a sexual relationship ever could. We all bring baggage into our marriages. Being able to work through it together is key! All those secrets don’t help at all. xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      • He did tell me he was unhappy. That he was finding other women attractive. We talked of divorce. Went to therapy. It didn’t help so we stopped going. We lived parallel lives. Married. Parents. Some good times still but no major emotional connection. We just continued to grow further and further apart. Despite all this, I was still heart broken and shocked at his betrayal and lies. Still am. I just thought he wasn’t that guy. I’d told him so many times, if you don’t want to be with me the leave. We can be amicable about it. Just don’t cheat on me. He convinced himself that what he was doing wasn’t wrong. That she was just a friend. I mean we live in PA and she lives in CA. So what’s the harm. He just needed someone to talk to. That understood him (and stroked his ego). It’s all the typical cliche. She’s 10 years younger. She actually fits his former business partner’s type (former partner is a serial cheater and helped normalize the behavior in husbands eyes- at least at the time).
        Yes, secrets destroy relationships. We both had them. We started dated at 17 years old. We developed bad communication skills from the start. It wasn’t until therapy after his affair that we learned how to communicate better.
        Marriage has survived. Though there are times I still wonder for how long. Day at a time.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, in this situation it sounds like you hold destiny in your own hands. Remember to be honest about your feelings. Don’t hold things inside. You deserve to be loved unconditionally and in a way that makes you feel safe. Marriages must be nurtured all the time. I imagine the relationship abuse you suffered at an early age still hurts sometimes and makes you feel less than. Keep working on it! Much love. ❤️

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks. I did EMDR for the abuse and his affair. It helped alot. I really don’t think about the abuse or abuser anymore and really haven’t for quite some time. It was the negative beliefs I developed that stayed with me. That’s where EMDR helped. My husband and I are in a bit of a funk right now. I have a hard time differentiating what is normal marriage crap and what is related to his affair. I tend to relate all disagreements, hurt feelings, etc to his affair. I think “I didn’t stay for this” when things aren’t all rosy.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Glad the EMDR helped. My husband has been doing EMDR for his childhood trauma. I have those same feelings of not wanting him to do anything to irritate or hurt me anymore because he’s done enough damage, but then I realize he’s never going to be perfect. There is no such thing, and he is far from it. It’s not fun or easy dealing with all this ❤️

              Liked by 1 person

  12. We were married 14 years and have little contact except through attorneys. He still uses my love for him to manipulate our divorce. Have to constantly remind myself what I’m actually dealing with. Hardest thing I have ever gone through but at the end of the day I finally feel safe.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Such an interesting topic! I found out about a year ago about my husbands addiction… by the time I found out I had already asked for a divorce because he was so far down the rabbit hole that it was like living with a zombie. I still to this day love him with everything in me but I have chosen divorce because the ride of staying with him is way too crazy. I did try for a few months to work on treatment with him but some just can’t be saved from this awful disease. It is very hard divorcing someone you love but much easier than trying to stay. I’m 49. He is 57.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The ride is indeed, crazy!!!! And not crazy good. They have to really want to be sober, like with any addiction. I can only imagine how heartbreaking your decision. How long were you married? Do you have any contact with him now?

      Like

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