Chapter #6: HOW I ENDURED 30+ years of ILYBINILWY 'existence' that led to my H's EA.
NOTE - Repeating paragraph for linking purposes:
Since finding MB forums around the holidays I’ve wondered how and why we stayed together in misery for 32+ years. He ‘stuck’ he says, because he loves me. I stayed, I guess because God ‘put us together’, to avoid being alone, for the kids’ sake, because I like SF and because it seemed easier to stay and suffer than to leave. (A little passive/aggressiveness? More about that in Chapter 7). Plus, suffering in seeming silence was easier than having to expose our failures to everyone. (There are no divorces in my immediate family and only one in his.)
As mentioned, my marriage requirement bar was as low as my self image was when that BMOC hopped over it after dumping me in the snow bank, sitting by me in class and then walking me to lunch. Remember, I only had 3 ideas of qualities I desired in a boyfriend/husband:
#1) LOVE GOD AND WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLE’S LIVES. He said he saw a vision of us in sports ministry together which became a reality we’ve continued over the years. We’ve done other youth and church ministries, domestic and international mission trips, and been involved with a home church wherever we moved. (Now we have intensified our seeking to read, study and pray together, every day or night, to become more like Christ and to share His love and our experiences with others.)
#2) NOT SMOKE, DRINK, CUSS, GAMBLE OR CHEW OR HANG WITH THE FOLKS THAT DO. As far as I know, he still abstains from all, not just because I threatened to break our engagement twice, but because he developed new habits that stuck and he doesn’t want any of those vices to be a part of our lives either….which is quite a witness to the coaches, athletes and parents who he is involved with as a player, coach and professional pitching instructor.
#3) PLAY THE GUITAR OR PIANO AND SING TO ME. During our early days, he often brought his guitar over and sang with my dorm mates. In fact, he wrote a song for me and sang it while playing his guitar as I walked up the aisle at our wedding (in a highly unusual place that had such a long aisle that he forgot all 4 verses so he just repeated the 1st one over and over). After one of our many house moves, his guitar got lost so he quit playing and singing and refused to resume even when I found his guitar and had it restrung.
As I already mentioned, getting married for fear of being left behind alone is the wrong reason. But like Mark and Lost in Christ pointed out, God still could and did bless our marriage and I give Him all the glory and credit for our survival and transition.
It was and is not easy, nor is it something I would encourage others to attempt. I share this now because of what I’ve learned from a variety of sources, especially MB, which may help others seemingly caught in a trap of what feels like a loveless marriage to find solutions like we have.
SO WHAT DID I DO TO SURVIVE 32 YEARS OF ILYBINILWY ?
The MSN article "You Don't Have to Have Sex to Cheat" illuminated one of the ‘coping tactics’ I utilized to endure all those years. In a nutshell, I engaged in AEA’s to meet my missing emotional needs.
Because I realize it’s rare if it even exists, I conjured up the term AEA which means ‘Almost’ Emotional Affair. As I understand the definitions of EA and PA, an EA is an attachment of emotions which could include virtual (but not physical) sex. A PA includes inappropriate physical touching including intercourse. Bring out the tubes if needed, but here’s how this relates to us:
EMOTIONAL NEEDS MET .....ONE WAY OR THE OTHER
Over the years, through the course of my work day and evenings and week-ends, I experienced more admiration, affection, conversation, family commitment, domestic support, recreational companionship and often even financial support from other sources than from my husband.
I thought Openness and Honesty were important to me but obviously it was low on both our lists. My physical appearance and my health went to heck when my depression justified my gaining 80+ pounds.
But we had great SF, even through my menopausal phase, which is amazing as I look back. I know we are the exception, but it is true that we both enjoyed SF without emotional attachment, even when I was morbidly obese and after menopause. That in itself is a miracle of sorts although some may consider it a curse.
Most of my emotional needs were met by many other men (and women) but my SF needs were met by my husband. Like I’ve said on other threads, I tried for nearly 30 years to seek a solution for the erosion in our relationship through books, tapes, videos, CDs, IC, MC, seminars, workshops, group sessions and church-sponsored get-aways. But I gave up just before our 30th anniversary when we got into a huge fight…..at a marriage conference!
That day, I told my husband that I was through trying to ‘fix us’ and that I would never suggest another marriage solution ever again. Thus, we detached even further and when he became lonely, instead of telling me about his needs, he engaged in a 4-7* month EA (including virtual sex via phone, email, PO mailed items and video) with a woman he met playing online games when he was supposedly looking for work after being fired.
I was busy working 3 jobs, helping care for his frail mother and bringing dinner down to his part-time job site, occasionally interrupting his OW fantasy email/phone sessions. I should have suspected many times, but we seldom talked so we never fought and he seemed to like the isolation he chose. Thus it became easy for him to revel in his fantasy of lying and hiding things just for the adventure of getting away with it.
*(4 months - first emailed NC message OW thought was from me. It was 7 months when WH fog began lifting and we sent OW my husband’s handwritten NC note with a copy of HNHN.)
CATCH AND RELEASE ....NOT JUST A FISHING PHRASE
After being caught 4 times (June to Nov. ’06), my husband chose to change...he released his choice for fog. I agreed to change, too but I realized we both needed outside help. I found SAA, HNHN, LB, and FIL,LIL in the fall but I did not realize MB had these forums until around Christmas.
I lurked for a couple weeks before posting to ask for help rebuilding trust, wondering if it only took time. Most posters said yes, but after just one week on MB, I got tubed regarding my misperception of exposure to OPS, which, I soon discovered, was what I needed to do in order to begin rebuilding trust in my soon-to-be-FORMER-wayward husband.
We exposed, OW lied,
(and the OWH never replied)
but it really makes no difference
because at least I tried!
(You’re right, Maz, I am an unintentional poet!)
RECOVERY AND DISCOVERY ROAD IS ROCKY BUT REWARDING
We are now on the road to recovery AND discovery of an even better relationship, but I’ve often speculated why and how we were/are still together after such extended misery. Now, because of MB, I’m beginning to discover some of the answers.
SO HOW COULD I QUALIFY MY EA AS AN 'ALMOST EA' ?
#1. It was never a secret. I told my H about all my conversations with others regarding our difficult relationship and marriage and he was actually glad I could talk to others so I didn’t have to bug him. Sounds bizarre, I know, but it happened often and helped me endure.
I have an aversion to hiding things that might be detrimental when revealed. As a child, when playing ‘hide and go seek’ or ‘cowboys and Indians,’ I always wanted to get caught first because I couldn’t stand the suspense of hiding. Even today I can’t cheat on our taxes, I’m quick to apologize even if I’m not sure if one is warranted, and I’ll do anything to resolve conflict as soon as possible. (My H was the opposite but we are making great strides using Biblical principles and all the MB policies as we learn to apply them.)
#2. Whenever I began entertaining inappropriate thoughts of other men I had shared emotional challenges with, I would somehow sabotage that relationship. I did, however, encourage some of the professional singers I worked with to leave singing voicemails or sing to me over the phone. But I always told my H and he said he was glad they did it so he wouldn’t have to sing to me.
#3 My SF needs were being met at home, so I never fantasized about sex with any other man. I did wonder what it might be like to be passionately IN LOVE with someone who was also IN LOVE with me. I watched romantic comedies and read Christian romance novels to get my romance fantasy fix in a seemingly harmless way. I helped my friends with their relationships…not that I was any expert….but it gave me significance in trying to make a difference by being a good listener if nothing else.
FOLLOW MB PRINCIPLES AND AVOID THE AGONY OF DECEIT
Like PrincessMeggy, I would never recommend what I did to survive, but it bought time…..30+ years and although it was backwards, often wrong and usually late, it worked to our advantage eventually and now we’re reaping the rewards.
After nearly 34 years together, I am beginning to find out what it feels like to be passionately in love with someone who feels the same about me. While I am not thankful for my husband’s affair, I am grateful for the wake-up call it represented in our lives. And I marvel at what appears to be a miracle in the changes he has and continues to make in becoming the man of my dreams, MY MR. ROMANCE, a person I hate to leave in the morning, and whom I eagerly anticipate seeing in the evenings and on weekends.
He says he will do anything to help me heal and so far he is following through. As we continue to make healthy choices, redirect as needed, and own our stuff (thanks LA), we will not only survive, but we intend to thrive so we can help others become alive in their marriages.
Thank God it is a life-long continuous journey, (staying happily married), and with God’s help, the bumps in the road to recovery will not hinder our determination to succeed, not just for ourselves, but so that we can be a blessing to others along the way.
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Chapter 7 SEPARATION
Just as we began our 4th month of trust re-building after D=Day #4, and I was experiencing a new wave of “It happened a year ago” triggers, we were faced with a 4 week separation of 400 miles. After we reached our 6 month milestone past D-Day #4 (May 10, 2007), I posted our survival story as a letter to the other woman.