I appreciate your thoughtful reply. Lots of food for thought here. I keep taking him back for some reason, he is very persuasive. My thoughts too are that once the “repentant honeymoon phase” is over, we’re back to the old ways.
Oddly enough, it’s very rare that we’ve ever argued or fought in front of the kids. For the most part we’ve gotten along well and enjoy our family time together. I do harbor a lot of anxiety about my husband though, which is always just below the surface.
Just pointing out that kids DO NOT automatically pick up their parent’s bad habits. It happens, sure, but one can find just as many examples of people, like Askthepizzaguy, who decided not to follow destructive parental behaviour. Between my wife’s biological parents there are 6 divorces and remarriages, addiction disorders (smoking, drinking, prescription drugs), depression, narcissism, ad infinitum. She is stable, loving, married to me for 25 years, doesn’t smoke, drink or use drugs. Her brother, OTOH, did follow the path of his parents. Same childhood experiences, completely different results. It also works the other way - a kid can have model parents and turn out to be a sociopath.
It’s just not as simple as “leave now or your kids will be ruined”.
Your husband sounds like a very charismatic persuasive personality. Does he admit that he has a problem? Sounds like from above he has. Just like alcoholics need support to maintain sobriety, your husband may need a daily reminder of his faithfulness.
The short term repenting and then assumption that everything has gone back the normal of your lives may be opening the door for him to fall back into old ways.
I’m sure that he would hate this, but how about every morning when you two wake up, you ask him if he’s going to remain faithful that day, and then every night when you go to bed, ask him he did remain faithful that day. If he knows that he has to look you in the eye twice a day and affirmatively make those statements, that may help him throughout the day. Plus if he’s struggling, maybe this will permit him to share more with you those struggles.
He is very tall, attractive and very charming. I see women look at him wherever we go. He is a pro salesperson, given his ability to be persuasive and charismatic. Only child, extremely impulsive, and I’m guessing pretty manipulative. He loves giving gifts to people - he thrives off of the adoration and approval. This is why he does these online affairs - his words and deeds have unsuspecting women oohing and ahhing I suspect. I wonder why he wants to stay with me so bad then, why waste his time speaking this undying love and refusal to part ways? This semi-obsession with me, clinging like I’m some kind of lifeline? I’m so glad he is seeking therapy and being very open and honest about his issues - and he admits to be messed up, he’s been honest and forthright about that at least. Wow, what a mess I’ve gotten in to. I had this gut feeling about him even back when we dated and I decided to ignore it. Now I’m paying the price.
I’ve said it before on these boards, and I’ll say it again here, but THIS THIS THIS!
I will never understand or forgive people who keep a failing/miserable marriage together for the sake of the children.
When my parents finally got divorced when I was in high school, life got A LOT better for me and my sister. I was SO happy that all the screaming and yelling and threatening and blah blah blah was over!
Do NOT keep an unhappy marriage going for the kids. They WILL know how unhappy you are and it may drive them to unhappiness and depression themselves.
Very understandable for a (very?) large proportion of unhappy marriage situations, but there are exceptions. My brother and I were well aware that our parents had an unhappy marriage but there was no screaming, yelling or threatening. What made this situation easier and exceptional is the fact that he was career military and chose tours out of state and overseas. They divorced right after we both graduated High School which worked well for all involved.
He sounds like a sociopath. I’m not using that word colloquially - the symptoms and behaviors he exhibits point to antisocial personality disorder, especially the charisma, salesperson persona, and manipulation. That’s not at all an excuse for him, but I just mention it because it’s an interesting disorder that has newly emerged in the public eye with a book written by the author of this article.
My dad was a piece of shit. It might be a valid reason if I behaved like a piece of shit, but I’d still be a piece of shit. There’s no valid reason for fucking over people other than you’re an asshole.
*At three, I had the feeling of
Ambivalence towards my brothers,
And so it follows naturally
I poisoned all my lovers.
In twenty years of therapy
The lesson this has taught;
That everything I do that’s wrong -
Is someone else’s fault.
Hey, libido, bats in the belfry, hey, libido, bats in the belfry,
Hey, libido, bats in the belfry, jolly Old Sigmund Freud!*
Is there a valid reason to cheat? I can’t think of one. That said, I definitely know men who are in sexless marriages and are married to shrews of wives who nag them notstop, and I think they are saints for NOT cheating.
I don’t buy the fact that because his Dad was a piece of crap that it excuses his bad behavior. He took a chance, found the penalty for getting caught wasn’t severe, and so he is doing it again. In my opinion, he will still keep doing it dispite therapy. I guess my only question would be why he is really doing it, which I have to believe is something he wants that he isn’t getting or getting often enough. I guess I would first try to determine that to see if the marriage can be saved. If it’s simply something kinky that he wants that he’s too embarrassed to talk to you about that you might be into, that’s a fixable problem. If it’s not something you are willing or able to do, or it’s simply that he has wanderlust and wants lots of different women, that’s a bigger problem.
If we’re playing Armchair Internet Psychologist, he doesn’t sound like a sociopath to me. Sociopaths do awful things because they specifically enjoy hurting people (psychologically just as often as physically); they get a buzz from others’ pain, partly because they have very low emotional affect themselves. What RedBloom’s describing is someone who does awful things because he wants to do the things; people getting hurt is just collateral damage. That’s utterly selfish, sure, but that’s a different thing from sociopathic.
In many ways over the years I was an ass of a boyfriend, and cheated on several girlfriends. I was faithful to my wife, but did do a little window shopping that never went anywhere.
That said despite my wanderings, I have have had no desire to look elsewhere with current gf. I think there is value in the “there is something missing from the relationship”. Plenty of folks have fetishes, fantasies, hobbies, emotional damage, etc that they never explore because they feel unable to communicate that situation to their partner who they think will not accept it or may even leave them over it. For example, my ex wife hated camping. On many occasions she said she hated camping, like would rather do anything but camping. So the last thing I would have done was try and get involved in the very camping heavy Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA) a medieval reenactment group. This is now a huge part of my life and I think she would actually enjoy it if she gave it a shot, but I never would have pushed her. I could see where if a woman I liked who was involved in SCA had started hitting on me while I was married that it could have been a serious temptation.
Seconded. He has 100% responsibility for his own actions. If he can’t stand living with you as his wife, he needs to end the relationship and divorce you, not cheat on you repeatedly (but it doesn’t sound like you’re impossible to live with).
Bingo. He doesn’t want to be the bad guy, the guy who lost his wife and kids and marriage of X years because he couldn’t stop fucking around.
I see a big difference between “he suffered trauma and gives in to temptation” and “he suffered trauma and deliberately hurts me for months at a time.” Because he does know he’s hurting you. Even if he wasn’t cheating, ignoring you would hurt you.
I have a lot of sympathy for you, so I don’t want this to be too harsh. But if I look at this objectively you are either married to someone who:
Is lying, and hurts you because he thinks it’s ok to hurt you.
Is broken, and hurts you because he cannot stop hurting you.
I also have concerns because you are staying with him because of the children. I actually support that in a lot of circumstances. However, he’s hurting you. Your children see this. They don’t have to know about the cheating to see how miserable he makes you. Maybe - and I do mean “maybe” because I can’t possibly know - maybe you are setting the wrong example for them.
Here is my humble opinion, take it as it is: only my opinion as a third party who is not in YOUR relationship.
I come from a very broken home. I have dealt with a couple of the issues that you state your husband has gone through. I don’t want to make this “about me”, but I’ve been abandoned by a father who started a new family. I also watched infidelity between my mother and stepfather, had to keep secrets and lie to protect my mom from being caught. I only tell you this to show that I can relate.
I believe the idea of counseling and working on changing his behavior is a positive step forward. He is showing you that he is willing to unearth why he has a problem with staying faithful and lying to you.
However, if it is not a “valid” excuse to betray your trust. I have never cheated on my partner and I’ve watched my mother be unfaithful and lied for her. (Goodness, that doesn’t sound good, but I had an adjoining hotel room so I knew what was going on.) There is no valid excuse for the cheating and lying. You may feel sympathy for a bad raising, but that doesn’t condone hurting an innocent party.
If you are indeed “staying for the kids”, I would rethink that decision. As a product of two divorces, I wish they had done it sooner. It was horrible living in a tension filled home and hearing hushed arguments behind bedroom doors.
The ultimate decision in yours and it will not be easy to make. Keep in mind: You deserve a partner that will respect you. Perhaps this is another hiccup in your relationship, but it does sound like you are getting fed up. Perhaps couples therapy should be considered- so that you can work through your feelings also.
Right here, it might be just a poor choice of wording, but I hope you don’t actually believe the bolded part.
If the love of my life repeatedly cheats on me and ignores me, then offers apologies and does it again, my “mood” is going to be quite unhappy until the day I get a divorce, and even for some time afterward.
Adultery is the marriage equivalent of a capital crime. Being moody is the marriage equivalent of taking pennies from the have a penny leave a penny dish.
In no universe is your unhappy reaction to his cheating something that makes him cheat. That’s sort of like an abusive person blaming the ugliness of the bruises on your arm for wanting to hit you in the arm some more. It’s blaming the victim and it’s absolutely crazy, cuckoo-bananas level crazy.
Couple things here that need attention.
Also citing this post:
And now this post:
RedBloom, I’m sorry to be negative, I wish I had a better impression of things but I don’t.
Honestly, this is starting to sound a lot like the manipulative person in my co-worker’s life that I cited earlier, who kept persuading her to take them back over and over.
Here’s the identifiers:
This behavior is not isolated, it happens over and over again.
It is followed up with an obsessive desire to apologize and “make things right” with you
Which is then followed up with a brief honeymoon period and then it is back to the way it was before, the ignoring, the neglect, the devaluing of you, the cheating.
And because this person is charming and manipulative, and you are particularly susceptible to this person’s charms (of course, or you wouldn’t have married him) then he knows what to do and what to say, what song and dance to use, in order to keep you from running.
And here’s the clincher:
It’s obsessive the way they won’t let you go- even though they otherwise treat you like they don’t care about you.
Then you combine that with the overall personality motive: The desire to be adored by several people.
RedBloom, this person may wish to have control of you, to “possess” you, to have you desire him… to have the complete package.
The doting loving admiring wife, simply to have, as one of the people who adores him.
It may not be the same desire to be together and be happy that you have. This person might have a deeper issue which is the main, fundamental reason why they do this behavior, why they continue to do it, and why it’s so important for this person to try to keep you in their life:
Because they want to have you. Not necessarily to love you, or to have a healthy, balanced marriage with you. Just to possess you.
And why I see the similarities with this other person is because this other person showed the same persistence and obsession with “keeping” the girlfriend, even while STILL SEEKING other relationships or “possessions” to have. Because, the relationship is not what they are ultimately trying to maintain, only the possession itself.
Essentially, one party offers unconditional love to the other, and wants the same kind of pure love in return.
Meanwhile, **the other party will play the role of a warm and nurturing person, who makes subtle demands of the other, apologizes for hurtful behavior without ever really being sincere, or caring about how much they are hurting the other person, and has no real intention to ever stop hurting them or to let them be free of their control and possession.
In the cited example, Gothel constantly insulted the heroine of the story and then laughingly apologized, it was all in good fun,
This behavior sound familiar? A person who does something very hurtful, then apologizes, then makes no effort to stop hurting you? Just make a big show of caring about you and not wanting to let you go? Then, once this person is sure that they have you, the abuse continues?
Gothel doesn’t want a real, loving relationship, she just wants to POSSESS this other person, and keep her prisoner. So she *plays *the charming and maternal role, but will only ever desire to possess this other person.
Selfish desire to possess and control someone is pure manipulation, not love.
The desire to have you is not the same as the desire to love you.
And because of what you bring to the relationship, which IS a desire to have real love, and to forgive, and to try to make things work, you provide the other person the means with which to control you.
And because this other person provides you the bare minimum needed for you to believe they love you, you keep trying to make things work.
If this person was just a sex addict, then why did they ignore you? At the very least you should be getting a lot of affection, and then feeling betrayed when it isn’t exclusive to you. Instead, cold shoulder, disaffection, neglect is what you get. That’s not sex addiction. That’s possession without affection.
That’s way, way worse than cheating.
I cannot say with any level of certainty if this is what’s really happening in your marriage, because no one can REALLY see into the heart of another person. Hell, you’re married to this man and you can’t really tell what’s going on inside his heart.
But these are your warning signs: They have the kind of personality which charms you into being controlled by them, they have a desire to control, they utilize that control, they strongly desire to possess you, they take advantage of your forgiveness and patience, they desire to be adored by all, not just you, and that compulsion drives them not to just be friendly with, but have adulterous affairs with others.
And what’s worse is that you know they have a strong persuasive power over you, which means even if you understand intellectually how they’re controlling you, the powerful forces of your emotions and the manipulation they have over your willpower traps you in the cycle of forgiveness.
That’s why I needed to strongly demonstrate to my friend that their relationship was based on control, not love, by showing her that she would give completely helpful advice to someone in her exact situation, but was powerless to follow her own advice.
She KNEW, in her mind, how messed up the situation was, but couldn’t break free, emotionally, because CONSTANTLY, the text messages, the phone calls, the obsessive controlling nature of this other person weakened her resolve. She couldn’t even trust herself to break off the relationship because every time she tried, the other person kept talking her back into it!
I need you to be able to see the powerful control at work here; you know without a doubt that this person’s behavior is wrong, it’s making you very unhappy, and you also know that this behavior is typical of this other person, and that this person doesn’t care enough about the marriage, or the love they’re supposedly feeling for you, to actually treat you the way you know you deserve to be treated, 24/7.
The only time you get the meager affection and respect and attention they show you is when they need to ACT to bring you back into their control and possession.
When they don’t, they won’t show that affection, respect, or attention.
That’s how you know it’s based upon possession, instead of a true desire to be with you and make you happy.
That is an addictive poison, not a stable and healthy kind of love.
No matter what happens next in your relationship, you have to regain full control of your willpower. You have to realize how their behavior weakens your resolve, and when you can’t even trust yourself to stand up for you, who in this world will? Certainly not him.
You have to break free of that charm. If it’s not genuine, and it doesn’t indicate true desire for your marriage to work, and to show real love, then it is a sweet candy made not out of sugar, but the kind of chemicals that are known to cause cancer, even though they taste sweet.
Some personalities cannot be “fixed”, that’s just the way they are. Some personalities will never, ever see past the desire to focus on selfish obsessions- the desire to possess, to control, to gain admiration and respect, adoration, and attention for the self, and will never do anything but give off a bare minimum facade of attention for others- but they also possess the kind of charm and charisma which allows them to still attract and control others, even though they offer so little.
It’s just the way their brain is. And if it’s like that their whole life, it’s never, ever going to change.
Does this sound like your marriage, or does it sound like something that has only ever happened to others?
If it’s your marriage, the best thing you can do for yourself is realize that what someone wants from you could be something they want very very much, but that does not necessarily mean they love you very, very much.
If this doesn’t sound familiar, then disregard. I could be misreading the signals here, but… I don’t think so.
And if so, it’s worse than sex addiction or adultery, it’s a more troubling desire to possess you and that’s what your entire marriage is based upon- his desire to have you, and doing what he absolutely must do to protect that, but that doesn’t mean he will make your feelings his priority, or truly respect you, or care. It just means putting on a show when he needs to, to maintain control.
That’s a sickness and you have to break free of that if that’s what’s happening.
Sex addiction may be treatable. I don’t know. Adultery, one time, possibly forgivable. But a marriage based on control and desire and possession, not respect or love, is one that cannot ever be salvaged, nor should it. That’s not a real marriage. That’s a very long, very painful lie that you choose to believe.