A blog for both the cheater and the cheated upon.

I certainly don’t claim to be an authority on the subject of marital infidelity, but I do think I offer a unique perspective on the subject.   My understanding arrived first as the unknowing wife who was cheated on – repeatedly – by her sex addict husband.  Second, as the lonely, confused woman who sought comfort in an affair in order to escape the pain of my husbands actions.

Many of those who follow my blog are women who themselves have experienced the unimaginable pain of discovering their husband has been unfaithful.  Another significant group of followers are men who are married but cheating on their spouse.  Interestingly, I also have women following my blog who are the the mistresses of married men.  I appreciate that there are people from all sides of this complicated subject reading my posts.   I have no ill will toward any of these people and I sincerely hope that once in a while something I say resonates with each one of you.

This diverse audience is the reason that I write in equal parts from the viewpoint of both the hurt wife and the cheating spouse.  It’s natural to just want to read the parts that you personally relate to – this selective reading provides support through familiarity but not necessarily any growth.  I encourage everyone to read both sides of my story, perhaps by doing so one can begin to find some empathy or understanding toward the other parties involved.  Trying to understand isn’t the same as condoning lying and betrayal  – but by examining the flip side of the situation I believe we can start to move closer to the goal of healing.

Here are some of the feelings that I have experienced over the past 10 years through my discovery of my husbands addiction, his acting out, his relapse, my affair and our recovery.   If you have felt any of these feelings then I suspect many of my blog posts could be of interest to you – no matter which side of the affair you fell on:

Humiliation, disgrace, embarrassment, denial, apathy, pity, anger, hatred, loathing, rage, contrition, revulsion, guilt, superiority, shame, wrath, resentment, pity, indifference, compulsion, disgust, preoccupation, fixation, anxiety, obsession, passion, longing, craving, desire, loneliness, controlling, fearful, comprehending, powerlessness, forgiving, compassion, understanding, gratitude, empathy, tolerance, trust, love.

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This is how progress feels. It feels like freedom.

My husband, being a sex addict, had countless liaisons with people over the years.  95% of these acting out partners were strangers.  He didn’t know their names, didn’t care who they were, and probably wouldn’t recognize most of them in a crowd.  Of course, there were a couple of women who he did know.  They weren’t close friends, just acquaintances who made it clear they had loose boundaries and he ended up having sex with them.  Never more than 2 or 3 times – the thrill would wear off for him by then and he would move on.

I’ve written before about this one person who still contacts him.  The emails from her are few and far between – maybe twice a year – but every time she reached out to him in the past it really triggered me.  I felt sick to my stomach and got angry with my husband and started to ask questions that had already been answered.  Until now.

A few days ago, my husband saw an email from this person.  she sent it late at night so he received it when he got up in the morning.  He needed to leave for work before I got up so he came to wake me.  He said “I didn’t want to wake you but I need to tell you that I got an email from that lunatic”.  At first I didn’t know who he meant, but I figured it out pretty quickly.  I asked him what it said and he said he hadn’t read it yet.  He asked if I would like to get up so we could read it together.  I rose and we read the stupid email.  It was just a sentence or two of no consequence.  I don’t understand why she writes to him especially since he hasn’t had contact with her in 2 years.  From her emails, it doesn’t appear to be romantic or with a desire to see him.  The simplest explanation is that she is afraid of him being her enemy since they work in the same industry.

I don’t know her reasons, but still she writes.  Every time she does, we read it (and delete it) together.  But one thing changed this time.  I didn’t have a negative physical reaction.  I didn’t dwell on it all day.  I didn’t feel anger toward my husband.  I saw this for exactly what it was.  I’m not talking about this woman and her motivations.  I am talking about my husbands actions.  He isn’t hiding anything from me.  He didn’t pre-read her message to find out what it said before alerting me to it.  He loves me and wants me to learn to completely trust him again.  This is the truth.

My husband has offered for me to put a rule on his account so that her emails will forward to me, or will be immediately deleted, or bounce back to her.  Anything I want.  Anything that makes me feel comfortable.  I used to want to read them for some clue about his relationship with her.  I thought perhaps there were secrets I didn’t know.  But that’s not the case.  I know everything I need to know.  I know he is sick and acted out with her and others.  I also know that he is recovering and changed and worthy of my love and trust.  I don’t need to control his emails to know all of this.

This gal may write again, she may not.  I don’t really care.  I couldn’t much control it if I did.  But, from here on out, it won’t affect my relationship with my husband if and when she does.  This is freedom.

Peeing into a cup: The sex addicts version

I read a lot of blogs that are written by partners of sex addicts and other betrayed spouses.  As I’d expect, many of these posts are filled with “what if’s”.  What it he is cheating again? Was that text really intended for me?  Was he really working late? Why didn’t he answer his phone?  If he really went to the gym why aren’t his clothes sweaty?  What is this credit card charge?  Why does his car smell like gardenia?  Some of the excuses we are given (and that we silently agree to believe) are down right hilarious.

No one will ever know every thought that goes through their partners head –  it’s best this way.  But the basis of trust in a relationship comes down to our actions.  Did I think about hooking up with that hot guy at the gym?  Sure I did, I am human.  Did I act on it?  Hell no.  It’s not about the thought – it’s about the actions we take after the thought.  When we are unsure that our partners actions are on the up and up, that’s when we have a problem that needs to be addressed.

If something looks suspicious, his stories don’t add up or your sixth sense is setting off alarms – those things can’t be ignored.  Is he cheating?  Is he lying?  You need to know in order to make a healthy decision for yourself.  If he has done it before then I hate to tell you but there is an extremely good chance he is doing it again…especially if he is an addict.  He can’t stop that destructive behavior just by going to a few therapy sessions.  It takes a lot of daily work to get sober and a lot of trust to learn to be transparent with our spouses.

I can’t emphasize enough how helpful the polygraph was to my relationship.  After being lied to for so many years it was impossible to believe that I had indeed finally been told everything.  Knowing 1/2 the truth was of no use to me.  Holding back any lies would be an insurmountable obstacle to our future together.

My husband certainly didn’t like having to submit to the test but he understood the reason it had to be done.  He wanted me to know, beyond any doubt, that I had been told the entire truth.  After all the pain he had caused me, he owed it to me to do ANYTHING IN HIS  POWER to make me feel safe.  He didn’t resist doing this for me.  Only after the truth was out could we could start again at ground zero knowing that everything was on the table.

The polygraph my husband took came back clean.  But I think it was his willingness to take the test that made me really believe that not only did I have the truth about our past – but that his intentions for our future were on par with mine.

In my boundaries/consequences list I have indicated that we will do yearly polygraphs for at least the first 3 years since discovery.  The concept of a lie detector has a horrible stigma attached – but it is exactly like having a former drug addict pee into a cup.  It’s simply a tool we can use to verify a sexaholics sobriety.  Nothing more, nothing less.  It comforts me to know that I have this tool to use.  If I ever have reason to ask “was he really where he said he was” I know that the truth really will come out.

I have suggested to friends in similar situations that they might want to explore the option of using a polygraph.  Some have, some haven’t.  I believe the difference is that some people truly want to know the truth.  Others would rather live with a bit of denial and aren’t quite ready for 100% disclosure.  It’s a personal decision but one worth considering.  Why cause yourself undue anxiety over a husbands real or imagined activities.

Everyone’s path is different.  I can only share what worked for me.  I really needed to know the truth in order to start again.  And my husband really needed to realize that he is still loved, even after I learned every horrible thing about his behavior.  What an empowering way to live.  What a great foundation on which to learn to be honest.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Reclaiming my safety

When my husbands years of indiscretions and lies came to surface, my trust in him, in life, in marriage, even in myself was obliterated. If you read my blog you will know that I chose to stay married to my husband after the discovery, and our relationship has been surprisingly good – dare I say rewarding – over the past year.  We have both done loads of therapeutic work and have made huge strides in overcoming the obstacles that got us to this place to begin with.  But I would be lying if I didn’t say that rebuilding trust is happening at a staggeringly slow pace.  In fact, the more time goes on, the more that I may be digressing in this area of my recovery.

I have a fear that the more sobriety days my husband has under his belt, the closer we are getting to experiencing a slip.  Addicts can get comfortable in their routine and can get lazy in their diligence to their program work.  They can get overconfident about the risks they can handle.  How often has an alcoholic who hasn’t had a drink in a year thought it was ok to go play pool at a bar…not intending to drink…thinking he can handle the temptation…only to end up in the gutter.  All humans love to fool themselves…but add an addict gene in the mix and look out.

I have made a list of boundaries that my husband is happy to respect.  These boundaries are in place to try to make me feel safe and eventually should lead to trusting him again.  However, when I have to implement one of them I feel a multitude of unwelcome emotions.  Take for instance checking his whereabouts on GPS.  Here are the feelings I go through when I push the “find my iPhone” button:

– before pushing the locate button I am triggered and feeling FEAR

– as I push it I feel ANXIOUS about the results I may get (is he really at a lunch meeting…or at a strip club?)

– when the GPS shows he is where he should be I feel ANGRY that I am in a relationship where this kind of behavior is necessary

– then I move onto judging myself as WEAK that I decided to stay with a man who hurt me do deeply

– when I have to tell my husband that I looked at his whereabouts I feel SHAME that I don’t trust him

– It all culminates with a deep sense of RESENTMENT & HUMILIATION

I have not always shared with my husband when I go through this cycle of emotion.  Usually when I look at the GPS (sometimes 10 times a day, sometimes once a week) he is in a safe place and I block the experience from my mind.  But I will start sharing with him when I feel the need to check up on him.  Together we can explore the triggers and emotions that are set forth.  It is his behavior that forced me to put these safety measures in place, so he should be a part of and bear witness to the sad and unfortunate cycle of my experience.

I realize that consistency over time should start to lift some of my fears and hopefully someway, someday I will begin to trust, at least a little bit, once again.

Another relapse

Three sex addicts that my husband knows have relapsed in the past few weeks.  Two of them were discovered by their wives.  The third one came clean of his own accord and made the heart wrenching decision to tell his wife about his mistake.  There are many complicated issues at play within any addictive behavior, but in my opinion the man who is willing to admit his powerlessness and ask for help and forgiveness seems so much further down the road in recovery than the others.  It seems that he is truly serious about beating his addiction and understands that he can not remain sober without complete honesty.  He has taken appropriate actions to start again – a day at a time.  It’s refreshing and comforting to hear that men like him exist in this community of sex addiction.  It gives me hope that there are those who are getting sober not because they have been given an ultimatum from their spouse, but because they don’t want to live in shame and regret and isolation any longer.  

99% of the relapses I hear about are when partners discover some horrid secret by accident – this is also how I found out about my own husbands relapses.  Discovering the secret activities myself added an unimaginable degree of pain to the already devastating information.  Being cheated on is one thing…but being lied to about it is a betrayal that is most difficult to overcome.  Although this latest group of guys who went astray doesn’t include my own husband, I live with the understanding that it could be him tomorrow.  I hope that if and when another relapse plagues us that he will have the courage to tell me and together we can figure out how best to proceed.  

Sex Addiction – the newest ‘go to’ theme for TV and film

It was just over 4 years ago that the Tiger Woods scandal introduced the word “sex addiction” to mainstream America.

Sex addiction is as old as the hills, but on that November day in 2009 (thanks to Tiger) sex addiction became a household word.  A few more celebrities entered rehab, Kanye West admitted to Details magazine that he is a sex addict, Dr Phil started to cover the subject and lo and behold sexaholism slowly began to be recognized as a societal problem (even if it’s still not generally accepted as an actual sickness).

A few movies started to look at the subject of sex addiction over the past years – and now it seems that all the big Hollywood studios are instructing their writers to add a sex addict story line to their scripts.  What alcoholism was to the 80’s (Barfly, When a Man Loves A Woman) and drug addiction was to the 90’s (Requiem for a Dream, Drugstore  Cowboy, Gridlock’d, Trainspotting), I predict sexaholism will be to 2014.

Addiction has always been a theme in music, film and tv.  Some of the best were clearly ahead of their time.  The 1962 film “Days of Wine and Roses” is a very realistic look at alcoholism during a time when social drinking was the norm.  Mickey Rourke’s character in 9 1/2 weeks was certainly a sex addict long before it was being discussed openly.  In the last couple of years we saw two excellent movies come out which centered entirely around sex addiction – “Shame” and “Thanks For Sharing”.   With top directors and big name actors starring in these films, the addiction is getting a lot of attention.

(SPOILER ALERT!)  Last nights “Shameless” episode is the latest show to use sex addiction as a theme.  Long story short, Fiona has sex with her boyfriends alcoholic brother.  She speaks with the alcoholic later that day and she says “we are going to forget this…it never happened” to which the alcoholic replies that it DID happen, and it WILL happen again.  Then he calls her “addict”.    Is this a case of the brother wanting to define others as addicts so he doesn’t feel so alone?  Or is Fiona indeed an addict herself – a result of being raised by an alcoholic father?  I’m guessing Al-Anon is in her future…as is a full blown affair with the alcoholic brother.  I mean, what addict could resist?

Wherever the story line goes for Fiona, this progress is really good and really important.  Film, TV, Music & Art are such important catalysts to bring information and understanding to people.  Mental illness, eating disorders, addictions, gay marriage…you name it…if it happens in the world, it eventually makes its way to the big screen and into the consciousness of millions of viewers.   Sometimes the real world and art collide as in the case of David Duchovny whose character Hank Moody in “Californication” is a sex addict, as David is in real life.

Some films will get it wrong and it is likely to be used for comedy as much as anything.  But the more the public sees of the damage and truth of this addiction the sooner we can all crawl out from under it’s shadows.

Hitting the nail on the head

I was watching the movie “Love And Other Drugs” with Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal.  A good comedy, drama romance between a woman with Parkinson’s and a man who isn’t defined as but veers toward sex and love addiction.

I jotted down this quote that Anne’s character says to him at a pivotal moment:

“…this isn’t about a connection for you.  This isn’t even about sex for you.  This is about finding an hour or two of relief from the pain of being you.”

That’s an important quote/a vital concept to remember when you start taking the acting out personally.