Me [47 M] Coping with my wife's [46 F] affair, The Time Machine (self.relationships)

relationships

15 ups - 8 downs = 7 votes

I opened the cabinet and there it was. A bowl. Nothing special. I'm taken back more than 20 years. My girlfriend and I were in our first apartment together. It was on the upper east side of Manhattan. We had just graduated from college. It was 1991, we both had gotten jobs, she was making slightly more than me, we couldn't really afford the place, but we didn't care. We were in love, and I was so happy to be going on this journey of life with her. Back then, we had just gotten back from Williams Sonoma, on 86th and Madison, we had spent too much money on four bowls and a big matching serving bowl. It all felt all so full of hope. We could serve salad in the big one, and the small one would be for individual servings. Truth be told, I ate breakfast cereal in them more than anything else. I was so happy though. REM played on the stereo almost all the time, we were both shiny happy people.

That was before though.

I snap back to the present, fill my lungs with air, and let out a deep sigh. I divert my attention from the bowl, because I don't want to think about that now. I sigh again. I look out the window, on the sill is picture of us from our wedding. We were on the roof of the Stanhope Hotel, we had rented out the penthouse. The photo was me holding her, the background was central park and the skyline of NYC. That smile on my face tells it all. Snap! Look away, it doesn't feel real anymore. how could I have ever been so god damned happy. I mean, what right did I have anyway! Ok, ok, easy big fella, no reason to get worked up. Breathe.

Coffee, I was making coffee. Okay, I can do that. Water, flame, grind, measure. I got this. No problem. Fill press with coffee, pour hot water, time, stir, time, press. Pour into mug, sweetness, cream, noisy sip. Ah, damn that's good.

It's a sunday morning, the house is quiet. I'm the only one up. This is my time. I walk over to the table and sit at my laptop. Reading worldnews, wasting time, Crimea, rhino poachers, Syria. The world's pretty fucked up. My mugs empty. Get up, re-fill, sweetness, cream, sip, Ah! Hungry, bacon. I like thick cut bacon, and I like it fried. Fuck that microwave shit. Five slices hit the pan, low heat.

On the way back to the table, I see a picture of my son. It's from 2010, he's in a giant outdoor pool. His hands are holding a bottle nose dolphin, and he's giving it a fake kiss. Fake because he did't really want his lips to touch it. The four of us were all in the pool, we were on vacation at Atlantis in the bahamas. They gave us wetsuits to put on, and instructed us to remove all jewelry. Something to do with the dolphins eating it. I remember being confused about that. Did the dolphins swim up to you, snap it off and eat it, or were the dolphin-keepers afraid it could fall off and then they eat it? I also remember you refused to take of a cartier love bracelet you had bought yourself about a month prior. I had argued with you about it, "Why won't you take it off?" I said, "Just do as they ask, who cares?". "No" was your answer, "I'll tuck it into the suit". Whatever, we were the last one's still getting ready, so off we went to watch some video about dolphin safety. I was still pretty happy. A family. two kids. Sex between us was non-existant, but I knew deep in my heart how much I loved you, and I knew we'd get back on track.

Snap! What a god damed fool I was, since when do women buy themselves love bracelets. Bacon needed to be flipped. It smelled so good. I love it when you flip it, and it sizzles loudly for a moment, filling the air with its magical aroma.

Breath, sigh. I look out the window again. And there it is, standing proudly on the patio. That stupid fucking outdoor heater she bought. The thing looks like a giant alien, the tall thin neck supporting its weird misshapen head. Flash, it's 2010 again, the Monday after Thanksgiving. We had a fight this morning, you said I was too needy. That I demanded too much of you time, and you just want some time for yourself. All I had suggested was we get together for lunch. I guess that wasn't going to happen. I left for work hurt, feeling alone, asking myself if I was really like that.

I sat at my desk in the office thinking about the fight. I started counting days. Thanksgiving was Thursday, I had off Friday, so the whole family has been home for four days, she hasn't had a day to herself for four days. That's was the fight was about. Motherfucker, she promised. Goddammit! She would never admit to it, she would lie. At that moment I knew what I had to do. I stood up, put on my coat, and left. Got in my car and drove home.

I parked in front of my neighbors house about two blocks away. Walked up to the side door. I pressed my ear to the door and listened. It was quiet. I used my key to open the door, and slipped inside. I heard you upstairs talking on the phone to somebody. I tried getting closer so I could hear. You were talking about how you just bought an outdoor heater and how it's going to change your life or some dumb shit. I knew you were talking to him. But I still had no proof. I listened, waiting for the "I love you's", or whatever, but you were just talking about stupid shit. You came downstairs with a full laundry basket in your hands, the phone pushed against your ear by your shoulder. I hid from you as you walked to the laundry. Still listening, still nothing. You filled the machine, I heard the dial on the machine turning, it came to life and started hissing as it filled with water. I couldn't hear anymore. Fuck this! I thought, and confronted you. You saw me and had the look of a deer caught in the headlights, the phone fell to the floor with a BANG!

Fuck! Shit, stop it! Why do you do this to yourself. You could think of happy things, so why do you keep doing this! That was four fucking years ago. Allright, three and half, but whatever, Why!

Breath. The bacon's done by now. Pull it out of the hot grease, drain on paper towels. One more cup of coffee, this time with a side of bacon, yum.

I hear you coming down the stairs, slowly and sleepily. I still love you, but nothings been the same since. Will I ever be ok? Will I ever stop torturing myself with these horrible memories that surround and consume me? Will I stop hating myself for taking you back? Can I ever really forgive you, or trust again?

God dammit, I feel like shit. I look towards the stairs, I see her, like I've seen her practically every day for the last twenty three years. She looks pretty, and I smile despite myself.

Q's

Am I alone in this behavior? Assuming I'm not, how have others dealt with this? What can I do to break this cycle? What else can I expect?


tl;dr: random objects around my house remind me of my wife's affair, I took her back. Three and half years have past, I'm not coping well.

37 comments submitted at 14:40:17 on Jun 3, 2014 by foolishlunatic3

  • [-]
  • stln00b
  • 8 Points
  • 14:51:57, 3 June

Jesus that was hard to read.

I really don't know what to say, OP. **hugs**

  • [-]
  • foolishlunatic3
  • 1 Points
  • 14:59:50, 3 June

Thanks for the hugs. I need them.

  • [-]
  • montaron87td
  • 6 Points
  • 14:48:36, 3 June

You can forgive her, but you're never going to forget and you're going to have to learn to deal with that.

If it becomes too much, reconsidering the relationship might still be an option.

  • [-]
  • midnightschild
  • 6 Points
  • 15:45:22, 3 June

publisher here, big 5 firm. you can write, give it a shot.

and yes, sorry about your wife.

  • [-]
  • foolishlunatic3
  • 1 Points
  • 15:55:09, 3 June

This made me smile. Thanks for the review!

  • [-]
  • mashuto
  • 4 Points
  • 14:51:33, 3 June

First off, that was very well written, so thank you for that, a refreshing change of pace on here.

I was in a somewhat similar situation, although without the history. Honestly, I never got over it, but the truth is, we had a poor relationship and never really did the work to fix it.

So, a few suggestions. Get rid of some of those things that are reminding you. Why keep them? They can be replaced with items that are associated with happier memories.

As far as you two, what sort of work have you two done to really heal your relationship? Have you two tried counseling?

You will most probably never forget what she did, but if you forgive her, you have to try and let it be in the past. Work on making new memories, and do things together to build the trust back.

Remember that you always have the option to leave if things aren't working out. There is no shame in trying and admitting it isn't working, even 3 and a half years later.

  • [-]
  • foolishlunatic3
  • 3 Points
  • 14:58:54, 3 June

Got rid of the dolphin photo and the heater went out with the trash today.

We've been through couples counseling, it improved our communication, and that's good. It did little to help me forgive/forget.

A big roadblock for me is that she has put it behind, and expects me to do the same. It's easy for her though, isn't it.

  • [-]
  • EmptyThrowaway1979
  • 2 Points
  • 15:21:08, 3 June

> A big roadblock for me is that she has put it behind, and expects me to do the same.

Be careful of this. She isn't entitled to a damn thing right now and needs to recognize that you need to get through this on your own terms.

She does not get to set the timetable for you forgiving her.

  • [-]
  • foolishlunatic3
  • 2 Points
  • 15:31:23, 3 June

No, that's not it. She's made her decision. She wants me again. I had to fight for her and I "won".

For a while, she would get upset if I tried to talk about it. This more than anything has delayed me. It's almost like she gave herself a pardon, and since she was good, I should be good.

I wasn't having any of that though. We had a real long discussion about the affair yesterday, and She's coming around, slowly. That gives me hope.

  • [-]
  • Upallnight88
  • 2 Points
  • 16:35:22, 3 June

It's hard to believe that it's been 3-1/2 years and you haven't discussed the affair until now. Some of the healing comes from her answering all of your questions about how and why. It's those questions that tend to linger in your mind and keep you from moving on. It's also very humbling for your wife. Is she willing to humble herself in order to save the relationship? Her decision to move on spares her the pain of having to clear the air with you so that the two of you can heal.

  • [-]
  • foolishlunatic3
  • 1 Points
  • 16:44:57, 3 June

>It's hard to believe that it's been 3-1/2 years and you haven't discussed the affair until now

Oh, no, we've discussed it a bunch, but there came a time when she didn't want to anymore, and I wasn't done.

>It's those questions that tend to linger in your mind and keep you from moving on.

I'm glad you brought this up. I still have some questions that I haven't asked. I don't fear the answer, I just won't believe it unless it's what I think happened. I don't ask because I'm afraid a contrary answer will instill more mistrust. Yeah, that's bad. Oh, and I guess I do, in fact, fear the answer.

  • [-]
  • The_Pussy_Whisperer
  • 1 Points
  • 17:05:24, 3 June

You had to fight with her? What the fuck is wrong with you? Get a pair of balls and leave. Stop making your happiness dependent on a woman.

  • [-]
  • mashuto
  • 1 Points
  • 15:39:58, 3 June

> A big roadblock for me is that she has put it behind, and expects me to do the same. It's easy for her though, isn't it.

Yea... that takes me back... not in a good way, but I remember dealing with that exact same thing.

So besides the fact that she betrayed your trust, and got to have her fun while hurting you terribly, this is one of those things that makes it so unfair. You try and move on, and it almost seems like she got to have her cake and eat it too, while you are left betrayed and hurt, and it is now your responsibility to put it behind you and make things right, not her.

So with that said. Yes, it is unfair, and yes it will seem like most of the work of fixing things falls to you. But I think there are a few things you can do to help with your moving on process. Talk to your wife and let her know that it still bothers you and for her to try and be as understanding as possible. At the same time, you are not allowed to throw it back in her face, especially for unrelated arguments and things like that. Talk about it if you need to, but frame it in terms of your feelings and not the things she did. But just talk, not argue or fight.

>We've been through couples counseling, it improved our communication, and that's good. It did little to help me forgive/forget.

You will probably never forget. But you can forgive. And if you want to move forward with your wife, you need to forgive. What helped me with that one is that eventually I came to the realization that even though my ex was fully aware that her actions were going to hurt me, and hurt me bad, her intent was not to hurt me, but rather to find some piece of happiness for herself. So even though she knew it would hurt, and didn't care, I know she wasn't doing it to hurt me. That made it easier to forgive and might be a good starting place for you.

Sorry for the wall of text, but besides the fact that you have WAY more history than I ever had with my ex, your post hit home. I hope my words are helpful. And if you need, feel free to message me outside this post if you want.

  • [-]
  • foolishlunatic3
  • 2 Points
  • 15:44:35, 3 June

> At the same time, you are not allowed to throw it back in her face, especially for unrelated arguments and things like that. Talk about it if you need to, but frame it in terms of your feelings and not the things she did. But just talk, not argue or fight.

This is such good advice. Sadly, I haven't been doing very well with it. I will work on it. Thanks.

  • [-]
  • mashuto
  • 1 Points
  • 15:56:30, 3 June

Yea, I did very poorly with that one too. It is very difficult. The thing to remember is that even though you are hurt and she did something terrible, it does not give you a free pass to win every argument, nor does it mean she is automatically wrong, or has to give in to whatever you say. You are still a couple and still can have your issues and 99% of them will not have anything to do with the cheating.

Throwing her actions back in her face is not fair to her. Put yourself in her shoes. Imagine you made the mistake of cheating, then for the rest of your relationship it gets thrown back in your face to make you feel wrong for everything, even things that have nothing to do with your mistake.

It also isn't fair to you because it is just counter productive to your own healing and will not help heal your relationship.

  • [-]
  • John_handcock
  • 4 Points
  • 16:16:25, 3 June

Well. She cheated, you guys are back together. Get over it bud. Any normal man would've dumped her, but I guess you believe she won't do it again. I don't know what to tell you?

  • [-]
  • Afronaut0
  • 3 Points
  • 15:01:23, 3 June

Drop her and pick up a pen. You got a gift.

  • [-]
  • SweetFlaminJerk
  • 2 Points
  • 15:35:53, 3 June

I'm not sure I've ever read anything quite like this on here that has made my heart this heavy. I feel for you sir and I can't imagine the strength you have to try to keep your relationship alive every day. I think you know that if you plan to keep going you do have to forgive her and remind yourself that you did nothing wrong. I think you're in danger of not loving yourself enough, did you have any time after discovery day to find yourself again? I know what cheating can do to your psyche and it makes you feel worthless and used. Try to have a more forward view, use your anxiety for something good. Think about tomorrow and next month, set goals for yourself and your marriage and think about what you would do for yourself if it comes to the point where things have to end. I wish you nothing but the best, take care of you.

  • [-]
  • foolishlunatic3
  • 2 Points
  • 15:46:53, 3 June

>Think about tomorrow and next month, set goals for yourself and your marriage and think about what you would do for yourself if it comes to the point where things have to end.

I absolutely love this advice. Thank you so much for it.

  • [-]
  • SweetFlaminJerk
  • 1 Points
  • 16:09:12, 3 June

I'm glad to help. As someone with occasional anxiety problems its a good trick to refocus that energy to something worthwhile. I think you'll find that achieving goals you set for yourself will start to turn around your daily flashbacks and triggers. You've come this far already and it sounds like you guys are going to make it. Just make sure she is fighting just as hard as you are. You deserve nothing less.

  • [-]
  • Bullshit_Advice
  • 2 Points
  • 15:37:56, 3 June

Therapy

  • [-]
  • foolishlunatic3
  • 2 Points
  • 15:40:54, 3 June

Tomorrow night, 5:30p

  • [-]
  • Midelo
  • 2 Points
  • 15:41:49, 3 June

Beautifully written, man. Sorry about what you're going through. Drop a PM if you ever need to.

  • [-]
  • darthgrape
  • 2 Points
  • 15:52:14, 3 June

There's no magic bullet. There's nothing I can say to make it go away. I need to remind you that it may never go away and you may be better off taking the hard road. But if you continue to stay, you have to be more honest with yourself about the reality of your situation. You're hurt, you're angry, you're holding on to resentment and all the while you sound frustrated that it's not getting easier. What you need to admit is that what happened was similar to a loved one dying. There was a death in your relationship and while time will dull the pain it won't go away.

On another note; what are you doing/have done for yourself since this came out? I don't mean other women but what are you doing to foster confidence and excitement for your own life?

  • [-]
  • foolishlunatic3
  • 1 Points
  • 16:01:21, 3 June

>you have to be more honest with yourself about the reality of your situation. You're hurt, you're angry, you're holding on to resentment and all the while you sound frustrated that it's not getting easier.

This is pretty spot on. Sometime I feel like a drug addict. Promising myself "I'm not going to do that again", and then inevitably succumbing.

> what are you doing/have done for yourself since this came out? I don't mean other women but what are you doing to foster confidence and excitement for your own life?

Uhmmm... crap. I need more interests, and more friends.

  • [-]
  • darthgrape
  • 1 Points
  • 16:17:01, 3 June

Brew beer, bulid RC race cars (they have ones that can go fuckin 100mph bro?), woodworking, gardening, become a powerlifter, maybe some gaming if that's your fancy? Need any help thinking how to take up something new let reddit know, there's tons of good subs for just about anything. You've got good advice here but I think building yourself up again is a side project worthy of all your effort too.

  • [-]
  • dinosaur_train
  • 2 Points
  • 15:58:31, 3 June

Look, lets cut the shit, ok. Cheating is so traumatic the event gives people a post-traumatic disorder, of sorts. Except exposure therapy doesn't work for this sort of trauma. It works in reverse. You keep exposing yourself and you'll become desensitized to your own emotions and life itself. You don't keep exposing yourself to someone who maliciously harmed you and then expect the world to be right. It doesn't work like that. When you give love to a person who hurt you, it returns back warped.

Love is elevated to god-like pure status. It's Jesus and Democracy having a bacon sandwhich, except it isn't. Love is responsible for a helluva lot of murders and even more pain. If you didn't love her you wouldn't be suffering.

What you have to wrap your head around is that love does not equal something automatically right and good and worth fighting for. Get that through your head. Love yourself and treat yourself as you should be. That means, you get the fuck out this marriage and scrape your integrity up off of the street. Then, maybe, later, your post traumatic stress will lessen. You'll still flinch when your future girlfriend gets a late night text, but you won't want to vomit. Things will improve when you are away from the one who abused your trust.

OR - you could keep believing whatever lie you had to tell yourself to get this far and in another 3 years you'll be emotionally worse off than before. I said lets cut the shit because people like to pretend things can be recovered from, but that's not always the case. Sometimes just trying to recover from broken trust ends up hurting you worse than the actual affair. You are seeing that now. Stay and you'll lose more of yourself.

I strongly suggest you look at your kid and think about if this is the life you would wish on him/her. If you love your kid so damn much you don't want him living the existence of pain you are in then I suggest you remember that you are someone's kid and are loved in that way too (or should be). What would you want your kid to do here? Stay in this shit? Is that the life you would want for him/her? Because two things, that's the life you are giving yourself and that's the example you are setting. Stop daydreaming and get the shit out of this before you go downhill more.

  • [-]
  • foolishlunatic3
  • 1 Points
  • 16:05:12, 3 June

>Stay and you'll lose more of yourself.

This shit keeps me awake at night.

  • [-]
  • dinosaur_train
  • 1 Points
  • 16:15:07, 3 June

then your intuition already knows the final score. look, i don't want your kid to grow up in a broken home, but I already know what happens when a person invalidates their feelings and loves someone who has invoked hate. it's not good for you and you won't end up being the dad you could have been, if this robs you of your good nature and innocent love.

  • [-]
  • Azrael_Manatheren
  • 1 Points
  • 15:28:23, 3 June

It will never really stop completely. It will dull. Time really does heal all things. Some ways to deal with it are to get rid of things that remind you of the infidelity.

  • [-]
  • storyofmylife_
  • 1 Points
  • 16:05:48, 3 June

First off, you are a GREAT writer! You sound like such a good man who really loved your wife with or without sex. I am so sorry you are going through this... What helped me when I found out my ex was sexting other women were friends that did not judge that I stayed with him, but to be able to have someone I could talk openly about our issues. I was in therapy in which it helped quite a bit, I am glad you will be going. It helps to talk with someone! I wish I had better advice...

  • [-]
  • foolishlunatic3
  • 1 Points
  • 16:08:25, 3 June

Thanks for taking the time to respond. Just hearing from other people is so therapeutic. Sorry for what you've been through.

  • [-]
  • storyofmylife_
  • 1 Points
  • 16:15:45, 3 June

I promise it helps being able to talk to people who can relate and that who do not judge. I was so hurt to find messages on my ex-fiances phone and women who would call (I would answer and they would hang up). I have a lot of questions as if he cheated on me, but I feel that he did. But he broke things off with me over a month ago because I wasn't "wild" enough for him. Its ok. I have had to learn to take it one.day.at.a.time. Also, music is very theraputic...except for stupid love songs as they depress me lol. I have found anti-love songs on Slacker radio that help me keep going. Also, writing...maybe start a private blog to get everything out...

  • [-]
  • buffalo_noodle
  • 1 Points
  • 16:18:41, 3 June

Good God now I need a drink.

  • [-]
  • foolishlunatic3
  • 1 Points
  • 16:23:31, 3 June

Sounds great, wanna meet up?

  • [-]
  • buffalo_noodle
  • 1 Points
  • 16:27:53, 3 June

First round's on me if you're in IL.

  • [-]
  • foolishlunatic3
  • 1 Points
  • 16:30:16, 3 June

Hah! You rock. In NYC.