I've been meaning to combine my stories (Prequel Screenplay, Saga Chapters, Poetry Odes) into one place so I've finally done it. Now my sig line should link directly to this post, I hope. Thanks to AR for showing me how to cut and paste between forums while keeping bolds, italics, colors and other markings intact. I've posted the steps on the Tech forum.
Here's much of our story posted 5-6 years ago on MB and more recently on MA. At the bottom is a link to my recovery thread with the updates on our recent 3 years. I hope it provides inspiration for at least one couple struggling with decades of dysfunction and looking for hope to change the status quo.
Thanks in advance for reading,
###I posted the following on MA in 2010: Mr. romAnCE: The Prequel
It's been over 4 years since the season (Spring/Easter, 2006) when my husband's affair began somewhat innocently from online game chatter. The triggers have subsided and I don't recall the specific time-line but I will post it later even though I didn't want to look it up.
Because I now want to focus on the future, not the past. In posting this Prequel (and eventually subsequent chapters), I'll be able to move on....I hope.
Although it's been over 4 years since the affair started, the conditions that set the stage for it began much earlier---about 33 years give or take a few.
Setting the stage - interesting concept. This Prequel describing the woeful condition of our pre-affair marriage could be staged, possibly as a horror play or film.
I've never written a screenplay (and don't want to take time to learn how now) but if I did a rough draft, the outline might look something like this:
*******CAST OF CHARACTERS:Male Lead Character: (MLC)
Female Lead Character: (FLC)
INTRODUCTION: Voice OS
"FLC was a very active student who had crushes on boys but never had a boyfriend. She was into cheerleading, sports, church, student leadership and social causes and her volunteer work kept her extremely busy. But she wondered what it might be like to have a boyfriend and often envied her friends who did. She began to feel 'left behind' when many of her high school and college friends got married before she had even one meaningful relationship. She filled the void with romantic books, movies and fantasies, grateful that her vow to save sex for marriage would be easier to keep."
"MLC was a triple-sport high school jock who thought that his athletic prowess entitled him to all life had to offer. He was offered multi-sports full-ride college scholarships and recruited by professional MLB scouts but he decided to stay in college, trying to increase his value and subsequent pro-sport signing bonus. He suffered an injury during a crucial time and the bottom fell out of his pro-sports dreams. After nursing his shattered ego with wild parties, illicit sex, drugs and alcohol (resulting in legal challenges), he had a life-changing experience that gave him a new perspective on his future."SCENE ONE: College in Anytown, USA
* On a snowy path, MLC sees tiny FLC walking alone towards him and his huge jock friends.
* He picks her up and swings her around, flinging books, purse and papers all over.
* FLC screams at him, calling him the wrong name so he dumps her in the snow bank while his friends chortle.
* MLC and FLC take a class together and he offers to walk her to lunch which leads to many intriguing conversations.
* FLC discovers that in spite of his wilder days, MLC now seems to have all 3 of her life-partner qualifications:xx
1) Love God and have a desire to help people.xx
2) Don't smoke, drink, gamble, cuss or chew (or hang out repeatedly with those who do).xx
3) Play the guitar or piano and sing to her.
* MLC invites FLC to his off-campus neighbor's Bible study.
* Note on door says Bible study cancelled so they drive away to have their own study.
* MLC claims to have a vision of FLC involved in sports ministry with him as his wife.
* FLC agrees to his 'proposal' because of her fear of being left behind and becoming an 'old maid.'
* MLC and FLC are married the next year but many aspects of their love-less relationship fuel her resentments.SCENE TWO: Small Town USA
* MLC's inability to land a local full-time job builds FLC's resentment when they have to move before she graduates.
* MLC and FLC engage in youth and sports ministries but passive aggressive behaviors and marital competition inhibits them.
* Resentment grows even after they start a family due to increased financial challenges and communication issues.SCENE THREE: Big City USA
(different scene, same resentment)
* MLC's propensity to misrepresent the truth leads to job terminations, multiple moves and financial devastation.
* FLC chooses commuting over a new job, eventually gaining 80 pounds eating fast food to stay awake while driving.
* MLC's entitlement combined with FLC's resentment sets the stage for a major breakdown in the marriage.xx
Cut to FLASHBACK WITH B&W overlays:xx
1) MLC accepted new job independently even though FLC and children did NOT want to move.xx
2) MLC forged FLC's name on business document because she did NOT want to participate.xx
3) MLC repeatedly engaged in online ‘get rich quick' schemes but hid them from FLC.xx
4) MLC secretly set up a business and bank account with another woman which lost money.xx
5) MLC once pulled a knife in the midst of a heated argument with FLC.xx
FLASHBACK sequence fades to blackscreenSCENE FOUR: Virtual Reality via Cyberspace
* FLC continues to seek help via marriage books, tapes, CD's workshops, seminars, and finally an all day conference.
* At the conference, MLC and FLC get into a fight and FLC decides to quit all efforts to fix the marriage after decades of trying.
* FLC begins to seek a way to biblically justify getting out of the marriage.
* MLC finds OW while playing online games when supposedly job hunting.
* DD discovers MLC's intimate emails to OW and with DS they both confront their father.
* FLC is gleeful after MLC confesses his infidelity because it gives her the biblically-justified reason she needs to get out.
* MLC agrees to an uncontested Plan D but within minutes DS challenges his parents to fight for their family first.
* MLC seeks another chance so FLC sets the stage with a very high bar that she does not think MLC will be able to meet.xx
SPECIAL EFFECTS to appear as if a fantasy with subtitles:xx
1) Be open and honest in everything.xx
2) Be responsible, respectful, remorseful and romantic.xx
3) When MLC fails at the above, sincerely apologize to FLC with the intent to change.xx
FANTASY SCENE brightens to FLC appearing hopeful
* FLC feels like she has nothing to lose except time and MLC begins to prove that he is committed to following through.SCENE FIVE: Grand Finale
* MLC realizes that he wants to stay married to FLC so he begins to climb over her high bar.
* MLC makes appointments for MC and appears to want to change.
* FLC forgives MLC prematurely because he seems to become so responsible, respectful, remorseful (and especially romantic) that she thinks he has totally changed overnight.
* Neither MLC nor FLC understand about withdrawal from the addiction of the infidelity high. They suffer 2 more D-days.
* MLC is too weak to resist and goes further underground, setting up new email accounts to reconnect with OW.
* After 4 D-days, FLC decides to give up but MLC begs for another chance to prove his intent on their 10 day vacation.SCENE SIX: Ongoing Conclusion
With the help of a new (old) marriage counselor and Marriage Builder concepts, MLC and FLC begin the road to recovery with MLC becoming FLC's Mr. Romance that has lead to a honeymoon high for over 3 years and continues today. The Beginning
I am now sharing this condensed version of The Prequel because e-friends have told me that reading what we've overcome is now giving them new hope. I sincerely pray that others will benefit, too.
As I began to change myself, many of my H's annoying habits that used to bug me began to affect me less. I no longer care when he forgets to put fabric softener in the dryer, or forgets to run the hot water before turning on the dishwasher, or forgets to dry the shower alleviating water spots, or replaces the TP from the bottom instead of the top or puts the seat down or folds the towels widthwise instead of lengthwise so they're easier to put on the rack. I'm just grateful that he is making the effort to work WITH me instead of AGAINST me (and I with him) in our marriage recovery. When he remembers trivial things it's a bonus.
I am now able to focus on the big picture of our relationship and marriage and emphasize the things that truly matter.
* Spiritual Foundation
* Core Values
* World View
* Commitment to Recovery
* Dedication to Marriage & Family
* Long Term Vision and Goals
* Effort to Make a Difference in the Lives of Others
* Retirement Planning focused on Service and Joy
Thank you for reading. I'm wishing you well on this ongoing journey of personal or marital recovery. Comments or questions welcome via post or PM.
Here's a glimpse of the sordid A timeline: EA 4/06 to 11/06 Same OW online, phone, mail, video
including phone and online virtual sexual exchangesDD #1 Jun. 30 DD27 discovered emails,
w/DS25 confronted H who confessed EA to me. Forgave Jul. 1
I thought I was being a good Christian by forgiving him immediately.DD #2 Jul. 10 Found new secret emails.
I knew nothing about WS fog and withdrawal. Began reading "Not 'Just Friends'" Jul. 10
MC suggested it but also said DON'T expose to OPS.DD #3 Aug. 10 Found draft/delete acct.
H says "we're 'just friends', we quit having phone sex." Emailed NC Aug. 10 H wrote NC letter,
we hit 'send' together but OW thought I wrote it.
I befriended OW Tried to make her promise to say "No" to WH, then tell me if/when he broke NC.
Tested OW w/fake email She told me/him "no" but didn't tell me about the fake 'attempt'.
Told WH about fake test To my dismay, his response surprised and disappointed me.Stopped contact w/OW Aug. 30
Found out later that BS fog has withdrawal from OP, too.Found SAA and HNHN 10/06
H & I continued reading MB books w/nightly Bible reading/prayer times.OW area code on caller ID 10/06
Wondered if OWH knew about A and might be coming after WH.DD #4 Nov. 10 WH lied
about online "just checking to see if I can resist OW" activities.
Told WH to leave Decided to give up, cancel upcoming vacation, sell house and start over @ 53. WH picked up his piddly gym bag to leave. Like before, he expected me to change my mind.
WH fog began lifting I let him go but he turned at the door, begging for strike 5 and our vacation.10 Day vacation Nov. 10-20,
2006 Together 24/7 w/ no LB's...saw hope that he might be changing. I re-contacted OW Nov. 30
Wanted her to tell me if WH tried to reconnect. She would not at first. WH Handwritten NC Dec. 10
WH's idea to write it but my idea to include HNHN to help OW. Stopped MC Dec. 10
H said MB books helped us more than MC but I was waryDiscovered MB Forums during holidays
- Registered to get MB help rebuilding trust January 14, 2007. TJ'd newbie thread 1/20
Discovered need for delayed exposure to OPS for many reasons.Emailed MB staff seeking OPS exposure info Jan. 21
Dr. Harley answered, suggested radio show. Called MB radio Jan. 31
Dr./Mrs. Harley said delayed OPS exposure is conditionally optional. Exposed Feb. 10 Called OPS
and sent copies of OW's handwritten love notes but OPS did not reply. Final contact w/OW Feb. 18, 2007
OW clung to WH via my emails. She denies she lies; not my problem.H lied (job) Feb. 20
I sought previous MC we intially avoided due to MC/H's 20+ year friendship.
Passive/agressiveness During weekly MC, we learned these ingrained habits partially led to our detached marriage.Mar-Apr. 2007 400 mile (4 weeks)
Separation MC/MB helped us survive long distance fears, triggers & LB's...details of how this developed coming.
Thanks for reading. More details to come in Chapters 1-7 below.
*************************************************************** Sat. May 19 2007 09:25 AM From the Marriage Builders "Romantic Experiences" forum: Mr. romAnCE Saga Synopsis of chapters 1-5
At SaturnRising's suggestion, I am briefly highlighting chapters 1-5 for those who may not have read the entire saga or the abbreviated version on the Romantic Experiences forum. (I pulled chapters 2-4 to preserve our identification.) I have emailed the missing chapters to those who have asked but as Saturn indicated, many don't email due to personal boundaries, which I totally respect. I may reinstate them after we are sufficiently recovered so that it does not matter if friends/family identify us; most likely they will already know. Chapter 1:
I was an active HS and college student who occasionally dated and had crushes on guys but never had a boyfriend. My self image gradually diminished as "friend-boys" always seemed to view me like a "little sister" instead of girlfriend potential. It seemed like my "self-imposed vow of chastity until marriage" would be easy to uphold.Chapter 2:
I had only 3 thoughts of what I desired in a boyfriend/husband: 1) Love God and have a desire to help people. 2) Don't smoke, drink, gamble, cuss or chew (or hang out with those who do) 3) play the guitar or piano and sing to me. (Pretty shallow, but that was it! If I had had the knowledge MB offered, the list would have been much different.) In my sophomore year, a tall campus stud threw me over his shoulder, showing off in front of his jock-friends, but when I pounded on his back and called him the wrong name, he dumped me in the snow bank. The following semester, we had a class together and I discovered he had most of the above attributes. Chapter 3:
We started walking to lunch together after that class. I enjoyed the attention but many things about him repelled me. But it was nice to start to entertain thoughts of a relationship with a guy who did NOT view me as a "little sister." We began going to an off-campus church together. One day when we went out for a Bible study, he said "God told me to marry you." Although I did not love him, I reluctantly said "OK" because at age 19 and after what felt like numerous rejections, I was afraid of being left behind alone.Chapter 4:
Our nebulous beginnings led to 32 years of detachment which involved multiple moves, horrendous commutes and financial devastation, his job terminations, my massive weight gain (and increased snoring and separate bedrooms for 2 years). We were so detached that H successfully hid a serious health condition (and ER visit) from me and the other time he was hospitalized, I did not even visit, but checked to make sure the life insurance was paid up.
After 31 years and 2 kids, I honestly looked for a reason to just get out and start over. I actually felt relieved on D-Day #1 that I finally had my justification in God's eyes to leave my husband. But one thing stopped me so I decided to give it one last try, or so I thought. My H suggested MC with a counselor we had seen previously but he then lied during every session so, after 2 more D-Days we quit MC.
I gave up on D-Day #4 and agreed that my WH should leave. I decided to follow through with my thoughts to sell the house and start over with the equity. During the previous 3 D-Days, when he said he should go, I agreed but then changed my mind, telling him I needed to keep him around for SF. But as he got to the door Nov. 10, 2006 I was determined to let him go.
Although I did not realize it at the time, his fog began lifting almost instantly and he turned around at the door and begged me for another chance. When I agreed to give him one more strike, he saw me in a different light. Gradually, not only did my husband forsake the OW fantasy (actually became repulsed by the thoughts of her......said she was ugly, boring and a worst liar than him b/c she was/is still in denial and most likely has found another guy to cheat with), he now seems to be indifferent towards her. And that is fine with me BECAUSE......Chapter #5:
.......that Mr. LUSTY AFFAIR has morphed into the man of my dreams, MY MR. ROMANCE, who I now have fallen passionately in love with because he appears to be everything I ever wanted in a man, at least it seems so for now...and I know that time will tell...but we're enjoying the ride together along the way.
Here's what I've noticed:
Mr. LUSTY AFFAIR (Mr. Liar, Mr. Untrusworthy, Mr. Selfishness, Mr. Thoughtless, Mr. Yah, Mr. Abusive, Mr. Fone Fornicator, Mr. Anti-apology, Mr. Insensitive and Mr. Reprehensible) has demonstrated that he is becoming MR. ROMANCE, which often seems too good to be true.
He is R
EMORSEFUL, RESPECTFUL and REFOCUSED
He is O
BEDIENT to the OMNIPOTENT ONE
He is M
OTIVATED to MEND our MARRIAGE
He is A
FFECTIONATE, APOLOGETIC and ATTENTIVE
He is N
ICE in a NATURAL, NON-RESISTENT way
He is C
OOPERATIVE, CONSIDERATE, COMMUNICATIVE & seems COMPLETELY COMMITTED to me
He is E
MOTIONALLY ENGAGED and EAGER to ENCOURAGE me EVERY EVENING (and every day for the rest of our lives)
Time will tell the extent of this transformation and I realize we will have our ups and downs. But my MR. ROMANCE is claiming that he will prove to me (and anyone who wants to challenge the notion) that our HONEYMOON HIGH can be sustained for the rest of our lives. What adventure could be more romantic than that?
************************************** X X X X X **************************************
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.)Chapter 6: HOW I ENDURED 30+ years of ILYBINILWY 'existence' that resulted in my H's E/PA.
I learned from the MSN article WHY YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAVE SEX TO CHEAT that although it wasn't pretty, it revealed to me HOW I was able to endure our volatile, passionless, "merely existing as roommates (with SF)" sham of a marriage for so long.
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 others pointed out oon my original thread, 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 "AEAs" 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. 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 His Needs, Her Needs.)CATCH AND RELEASE ....NOT JUST A FISHING PHRASE
After being caught 4 times (June to Nov. 2006), 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 a discussion forum until around Christmas 2006.
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 2x4ed regarding my misperception of exposure to OPS, which, I soon discovered, was what I needed to do in order FOR ME to begin rebuilding trust in my soon-to-be-FORMER-wayward husband. (Sidenote: This worked for us but may not be appropriate for all couples in similar situations.)
A poster who helped me tremendously called me a poet
so I coined the following in her honor:
We exposed, OW lied,
(and the OWH never replied)
but it really makes no difference
because at least I tried!
(Sidenote: Mom to A & Z ~ aka "MAZ" ~ I hope you find your way here to MA soon.) 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 and the myriad of e-friends who have helped me and us, 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 didn'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 33 years together (now almost 37), 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.
.......................................* * * * *...............................Chapter 7: SEPARATION EVENTUALLY BRINGS US CLOSER TOGETHER
(NOTE to clarify: After D-Day #3, my H agreed to tell me when/if he ever received any contact from OW via snailmail, email or voicemail. Then he said he would let me delete or erase it or burn it with him. After his third strike, I wanted to give him ways to prove he was trustworthy and I ignorantly thought that his passing these tests would help me build my trust in him.)
In 2007, 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.
I'll share what happened before, during and after this separation in the form of a faux letter to the OW:"DEAR OW,
I pretended I WAS YOU to test my WH via VOICE mail, E mail and SNAIL mail AND GUESS WHAT???????"
He PASSED 3 out of 4 TESTS. (And the one he 'failed' was only because I didn't set it up right.)
TEST #1: At first I freaked when I got a call at work from a number I did not know with your area code from across the country. It was from a fledgling actor who, after discussing the business at hand, agreed 'to play a practical joke' by calling my WH to leave a 'just saying "Hi" from a friend' voice mail. I wanted to see if he would tell me about it before erasing it.
TEST #2: I set up a fake email account similar to yours and sent him a "Please pray for me" message to see if he would tell me about it before deleting it.
TEST #3: I put a 2007 pocket calendar in one of your envelopes (w/obscured postmark) from a love letter you sent him (yeah, he gave them all to me). I also included a stamped envelope addressed to my office in case he refused it and tried to return it to you after I dropped it off at his part-time job.
TEST #4: Actually, a family member set up this test inadvertently over a year before you decided to respond to his "let's be friends since we can talk so easily we must be soul mates" messages and ended up having multiple phone fornication (and email sex) sessions, and pledging your lives to each other as soon as he left me and you could get rid of your husband who you claim is morbidly obese, has health issues and does not meet your sexual needs.
PASSIVE/AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIORS we never realized we had until the week before Test #4
My husband and I are now learning from our new/old MC that our passive/aggressive behaviors played a huge part in the detachment of our 32 year marriage that contributed to his affair with you. And, just like a glutton about to binge one last time before having gastric surgery, I will not hold back if my passive/aggressive voice tells you about the 4th test.
Over a year ago, I agreed to help a family member after surgery 400 miles away. I had no idea it would be scheduled 4 months after the 4th Devastation Day of my husband's affair with you. You may dispute that date (just like you dispute that it was an 'affair' because you did not physically fornicate), but D-Day #3 occurred when you were on vacation 6 months ago.
During the following weeks, I tried to be your friend, just like I did after D-Day #1 when you wanted to apologize to me personally after my husband called to tell you he'd been caught. The day after D-Day #1, you promised to do anything to help us recover our marriage, BUT you willingly answered his secret new email account, betraying me within 24 hours of that pledge. I should have known then what liars you both were, but I tried to exercise good Christian forgiveness and you both rewarded me with 6 more weeks of secret exchanges. (The MC we saw at that time said we should just 'trust God' that you would confess to your husband or that he would confront you, and that neither of us should contact you for any reason. That MC knew nothing about withdrawal or WW fog.)
I EVEN TESTED YOU TO TRY TO REBUILD MY TRUST IN MY WH
During late August, 2006 after D-Day #3, when I was still trying to get you to say you would #1) refuse to reconnect with my H and #2) tell me about it if he tried again, I pretended to be my husband and used one of the secret accounts he set up ----yeah, he gave me all the passwords----to send you a fake email. While I was glad you said "No, do you know how much this would hurt Ace?" you only passed the first part of the test. I waited 3 hours and you never did inform me of that fake message like I had begged you to do after D-Day #1, but I let it go.
I believe I know why you would not promise to tell me if/when my husband tried to reconnect with you. You were probably still holding out hope that he would still follow through with your mutual pledges to look each other up when your husband and I were out of the picture. You thought I was trying to be his mother by spying on his every move and trying to hold him accountable. And before Test #4 as well as today, you still may be secretly hoping I fail.
I GAVE UP FAKE TESTS, REALIZING HOW COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE THEY WERE BY FOCUSING ON YOU, NOT MY HUSBAND
Actually, I "failed" and let go on Nov. 10, 2006, D-Day #4, when my husband lied about playing those same online games, trying to see if he could resist you if you were online, too. It was the night before our vacation. I agreed that he should go away....to live in his truck or wherever...but when he turned at the door and begged for another chance, I gave in. We used the next 10 days together 24/7 as a one-last-chance to prove to me that he wanted to change. We actually had the best time in our marriage up to that point and it's only gotten better since then.
But as we've learned from the MB program, (which I told you about when I enclosed a copy of "His Needs, Her Needs" with my husband's handwritten NC letter), the fear returns in the form of triggers, painful reminders of your illicit exchanges prompted or "triggered" by some associated item or memory.
A 4 WEEK TEST OF A 400 MILE SEPARATION 4 MONTHS AFTER D-DAY #4
I followed through with my pledge to be gone 4 weeks (which ended up being 5 weeks away from my job), trusting that faith in God for our marriage was real or it wasn't.
Was it difficult? Hardest thing I've ever done. The area was so remote that I had no cell phone, no voice mail, one channel TV and very limited on-line access (dial-up when it worked). One of my biggest fears was that if I could not get online, and if you were lurking and noticed that I disappeared from this forum, it might possibly signal that I was gone so that you might try to reconnect with my husband or respond if he secretly tried to contact you.
Was I paranoid? Yup! Did I trigger often? Every time I went into his voice mail, just like he allowed my calls to do when he was on the phone with you and many other times.
Was it worth it? Yes, for the family member and for the growth of my relationship with my husband who drove the 800 miles to visit me every weekend. He also began telling me in advance (on the land line with no voice mail) why/when he would not be available on his cell phone. We continued our nightly reading HNHN, Bible study and prayer times the entire 4 weeks via land line. And we even conducted our weekly marriage counseling sessions via speaker phone.
WE BOTH ARE NOW PASSING OUR TEST OF RECOVERING OUR MARRIAGE
My husband has apparently become indifferent towards you and I am approaching that same status. In fact, he expected me to trigger yesterday (a year after you reconnected after he first tried to break off your affair after 3 weeks according to your emails) but I didn't remember an unrelated incident until he showed concern.
And he has become my MR. ROMANCE, buying me flowers, setting up dates and spending ALL of his leisure time with me, telling me he'll do anything to help me heal and following through for the past 6 months.
In closing, there's a thread on the MB forums about bashing the OP (other person). My H wanted to bash you when I tried to be your friend. He called you a worse liar than him because you were/are still in denial and he figured you might be already cheating with another guy.
I've learned from these boards that if I wanted to, the best way to bash you might be to focus all energies on our relationship, not you or the triggers you represent. If our marriage recovery (and apparent discovery of an even better relationship) constitutes "bashing the OP," then I am guilty, too. But I'm also thankful that you are now becoming a 'nothing' in our lives.
Only God can convict you but you will have to choose to denounce your denial, repent, and get right with your husband, with your family and with God.
I posted the following on MA in 2011.How Gut Busting helped me avoid Love Busting
It's been over 4 years since our 4th D-Day Nov. 10 2006.
As mentioned, we've had numerous ups and downs on our recovery rollercoaster.
Here's a poem I wrote about the first anniversary near melt-down a year later.
BEYOND the BEFORE
(In Spite of the Asinine Alien)
Here I sit.
A year has gone by.
That asinine alien refused to just die.
I left on vacation...
...no time for MB.
That alien returned to my husband and me.
It brought with it selfishness...
...anger and pride...
and ambushed my H as we went for a ride.
It felt like regression...
...just like D-day 4...
...back when I gave up and then showed H the door.
Some false expectations...
...a selfish demand...
...propelled the exchange which then got out of hand.
It stirred up more love busters.
Mean things were said.
It's scary what aliens can do to your head.
Our MC was gone...
...and I'd been off MB.
We sought God's assistance, HE's never failed me.
The power of prayer...
...and time to discuss...
...revealed just what forces had overcome us.
...and logic prevailed.
We soon learned some causes for why we derailed.
He seemed so defensive...
...and I gave up hope, but
together we clawed up that slippery slope.
My H was so broken...
...he shared such remorse.
But I owned my part for what got us off course.
And as tears were flowing...
...I'm sorry was said...
...and soon an idea came for this new thread.
Beyond the Before...
...our marriage improves...
...in spite of that asinine alien's moves.
And NO, I'm not thankful
for my husband's A...
...despite it our marriage is better today.
Our MC says broken bones
take time to mend...
...but scar tissue makes them more strong in the end.
So now that our marriage
has suffered the scars...
...from asinine alien attacks on what's ours...
...we're learning to recognize
...and building more passion in spite of its trials.
We're getting resilient,
and loving much more.
Thank God for our marriage Beyond the Before.
I TRIED and I TRUSTED; He LIED, then got BUSTED!
While I was here needing
to find my true role,
my DH was seeking
to curb my control.
then a chance to defy
evolved to a blatant
and self-serving lie.
That Alien returned
saying "she'll never know"
and one little lie soon
just started to grow....
....it multiplied, mutated,
took on more steam....
that Alien concocted
a fraudelent scheme.
For 4 days it simmered
while DH was trusted....
...one innocent phone call...
and DH was busted.
I asked him again
so that he could come clean...
but he told more lies
in a tone that seemed mean.
I turned to my journal
creating a vent....
...for MC and 2 friends
and after I sent....
...that venting epistle,
I felt so much better...
...it's quite therapeutic
to just write a letter.
The rest of the weekend
went really quite well...
...DH was respectful
and cautious as .... ...heck.
But after the weekend,
we saw our MC....
...he blasted my DH
but spoke quietly....
MC said the one thing
H needs is, in short....
...to just tell the truth,
or at least 'self-report!'
It's been a whole year
and there'll be many more...
...as we fight these battles
to win the whole war...
We can beat that alien
who still tries to score...
...by giving us head-aches
and age-lines galore...
...But as we succeed
and each other adore...
...Our marriage gets BETTER
than B'YOND the BEFORE!
THE END (or the beginning....)
Have you ever had to bite your tongue to try to keep from love busting?
Recently, my H and I had a conflict that we overcame in the most unconventional way. The MB program basic concepts were the foundation for how we succeeded.
To recap the basic Marriage Builders
basic concepts, the Love Bank
account balances of each spouse holds the marital keys to happiness. Love Busters
decrease LB balances.
Inherited or learned behavior patterns are instincts and habits
respectively. These determine the level of love felt by spouses because they cause deposits or withdrawals from their Love Banks. Love Busters
are repeated behaviors that cause unhappiness. The most common Love Busters are Selfish Demands (SD), Disrespectful Judgments (DJ), Angry Outbursts (AO), Annoying Habits (AH), Independent Behaviors (IB) and Dishonesty
. Continued love busting behaviors deplete the Love Bank accounts and results in spouses decreasing their love for each other.Love Banks
can be filled and re-filled by spouses knowing and acting to fill emotional needs (ENs). The most popular ENs are Affection, Sexual Fulfillment (SF), Conversation, Recreational Companionship (RC), Openness and Honesty (OH), Attractive Spouse (AS), Financial Support (FS), Domestic Support (DS), Family Commitment (FC) and Admiration.
My top five are in blue
and my H's top five are in red
. Shared top five ENs are in purple
My top EN is Openness and Honesty but O&H is
was last on my H's list, which is one of the reasons his boundaries allowed him to have an A.
I have an additional EN in the form of my H being a Spiritual Leader
in our family. When he takes the lead, I feel care for and protected. When he is weak and I am forced to take the Spiritual Lead, I feel insecure and vulnerable. This could be as simple as saying "Let's pray first" when we have a marital conflict or seemingly insurmountable challenge.
The Marriage Builder program describes the 2 SIDES of PERSONALITY: Giver
There are 3 STATES of MIND in the marriage: Intimacy, Conflict
There are 3 POLICIES of CARE to protect the marriage: Undivided Attention, Radical Honesty, Joint Agreement
There are 4 guidelines for SUCCESSFUL NEGOTIATION: Set Ground Rules
, Identify Problems
Ideas, Choose Solutions
that meet the Policy of Joint Agreement (POJA)
I've taken the above from pages 210 to 210 of the book Fall in Love Stay in Love
written by Marriage Builders founder Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr.
So where does Gut Busting
fit into the MB plans?
For me, however, it spontaneously helped me control my Love Busting inclination during a recent conflict and we were able to successfully resolve it so that we could remain in the marital state of intimacy.
Did it work? Yes
Do I recommend this technique for other couples to use when in conflict? NO!
Now that I've laid the basics, I'll be back to recap what happened yesterday and how "Gut Busting" actually helped me/us overcome a huge marital challenge that led to an emergency MC session. Hopefully, this will be a "one-and-done" experience.
Thanks for reading,
AceI posted the following on MA in 2011:
As mentioned in my previous post, my H and I had a conflict due to misperceptions and misunderstandings. I hesitated to address my personal concerns because I feared that H would become defeated and feel like he would never be able to measure up to my expectations.
From what I've learned, I knew that if I did not share my thoughts, I would develop resentment and inadvertantly sabotage our progress in our recovery.
When my H got home and we sat down to dinner, he dropped a bomb on me and I started to react with anger. But I got control and calmly explained what I was feeling, especially my fears that H would become defensive.
As he began to defend his position, my irritation started to rise.
But instead of biting my lip .....
..... I bit down on a:
.......burger....a turkey burger (or burgerS to be exact).
I tried to stifle my anger but while getting condiments out of their containers, I accidentally squeezed nearly a quarter cup of mayo on my burger. Instead of scraping the excess off, I dug a tablespoon into the relish and slathered that on my turkey burger, too.
H's eyes got wide and he asked me what I was doing. I calmly told him I was fixing my burger.
I reached into the jar and brought out a handful of pickles which I piled on top of the mayo/relish mix. I added lettuce to the melted cheese and even though it was on a thin bun, my turkey burger was the biggest, sloppiest, gooeyist burger I've ever made!
H began saying things that frustrated me, but instead of biting my tongue, I bit into my burger.
I stayed calm on the outside even if I was burning on the inside. But just when I felt like saying something I knew I would regret later, I took another juicy bite out of my burger.
After I finished my first burger, I started the second one (I had made 2 for H but he could only eat one). Every bite took quite a while to chew and even longer time to wipe around my mouth. This bought time for me to try to keep my cool...it's hard to have an angry outburst while chewing a burger.
I think I shocked H....without even saying a word.
Just as I was down to the last bite (of my 2nd burger), H finally realized that what I was sharing made alot of sense. He leaned back and said, "Y'know, last night and this morning things were fuzzy but now that I think about it, you're right in all aspects. I was wrong and I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you and I'm glad you took the time to share what you were feeling. Can you forgive me?"
It's amazing how quickly my animosity dissapates when my efforts are validated. My anger decreased immediately an I accepted his apology and offered one of my own.
Our state of minds went from conflict
back to intimacy
instead of withdrawal
like we had experienced for so many years.
Obviously the one huge drawback to this Gut Bust instead of Love Bust exercise
was that I was so full that I could hardly move. TMI Warning:
I briefly considered ipecac but discarded that idea quickly.
Although I do NOT recommend this method for resolution, I'm glad we were able to overcome our challenge, even if it possibly took my shocking indulgence to jolt my H into clarity from the fuzziness he had been experiencing. Maybe...maybe not.
And the process continues....
Ace I posted the following on MA in 2011:
It's been awhile since I've posted on my own blog.
I've been posting on Marie's Blog and commiserated with her feeling like she was an island and initially proud of it....until...
I shared that I was the same way but it got lonely after awhile. Then I began to hope and pray for a way out of my M because I based my loneliness on the fact that my H was impossible to change and I resented him and all the years I thought I had wasted. I needed a justifiable way out of our M but I didn't think anyone else would want him.
I posted the following on Marie's thread but moved it here now that she posted there.
After I got my wish and my H cheated, I was in a state of exhilaration until our 20-something son begged us to try to fight for our family before we Plan D'd.
I know I've said this before but it was after I gave up what I thought I had that I got what I was seeking.I gave up being an island and an isthmus to intimacy with my husband (mainland) suddenly began to develop, almost on its own.
Does that may any sense to anyone? If so, please explain it to me!
Coincidentally, I just finished reading James Dobson's book Love Must be Tough
and I think I've figured it out.
Makes total sense to me. Love to hear what you've figured out.
Thanks, Fiddler. I may have posted some of this previously but other epiphanies have recently arisen.The Island, the Isthmus and Intimacy
On page 209 of James Dobson's Love Must be Tough
, the author quotes from a previous book entitled What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women
. I'll quote it later but what he said was evident in what happened to us.
For much of the first 30+ years of our marriage I felt trapped with no escape unless my H cheated, but I honestly thought that NO ONE would want him. I disrespected him by emotionally disconnecting and secretly planned to go it alone once I had a justifiable reason.
When he cheated in June 2006, I had my reason.
On D-Day #1, then-WH agreed to a quick D and offered to give me everything except his truck.
I was oddly euphoric.......until DS (20-something) tearfully challenged us to first fight for our family
like we had taught them to do when faced with a challenge. His older sister refused to speak to her father but told me (in then-WH's presence) that she recalled our pastor saying that the best gift a father could ever give his children was to love, honor and cherish their mother
Even if I had what some would call the wrong motivation, I agreed to try to fight to save what I had been trying to escape. By doing so, I inadvertantly gave then-WH the opportunity to give both adult kids the gift about which our pastor spoke decades before.
Then-WH appeared to follow through with my high bar requirements, making MC appointments for both of us, giving me access to his email account and seemingly being transparent.
After 2 false recoveries (uncovered without intentional snooping), I inadvertantly discovered evidence that then-WH was lying about attempting to contact OW just a few hours before we were scheduled to fly out for a 10 day sports vacation. That was November, 2006.
I gave up and agreed that then-WH should leave in his truck. He started to leave but when he reached the door, then-WH begged for strike #5.
I had previously decided to use the 10 days to get the house ready for sale, take the proceeds (while we still had equity) and start over in my early 50's. (I didn't know it at the time but my DD-20-something had decided that if we split, she would move back home to help me with the mortgage payments so we could keep the house in the family.)
So why didn't I follow through?
To understand my reasons, a little history is in order:
During the previous summer, my H had been highly recruited to pitch for a top level senior baseball all-star team (overhand hardball) which was defending its first World championship at a tournament across the country from where we live.
Then-WH really wanted to go but didn't want to go without me. I, however, refused to buy airline tickets until a few days before, not knowing if we would still be together. (By then only single seats were available which created another interesting aspect relevant to our sitch.)
My main motivation for going was to visit an elderly family friend who lived near where the tournament was held and could no longer travel. For years I had wanted to visit this friend but I did not call her to see if she was up to having visitors until the morning of the day we were supposed to leave. She was ecstatic to hear from me and said she'd make lunch reservations for us.
After I agreed that then-WH should leave and he headed for the door, I prepared in my mind to not go on vacation so I could prepare to sell the house and start over like I had previously decided. But a huge burden of guilt overtook me when I realized that I would have to call this elderly friend to cancel the lunch date she was so eager to share. I also realized that if something happened to her before we got to see her again, I would never forgive myself for cancelling our trip.
At that point in my thought process, then-WH turned at the door and asked, begged, groveled for another chance. It was pathetic but because it would lessen my guilt about seeing my family friend, I reluctantly agreed to go. By then, we only had 2 hours until we were to be at the airport.Continued below: