Has anything really changed since his affair?

Image via Flickr.com; some rights reserved.
Image via Flickr.com; some rights reserved.

I was listening to another YouTube video this morning about “emotional affairs” and how to actively work toward recovering trust. The most interesting part to me was the observation that it’s extremely difficult to pull off if BOTH people aren’t working toward it.

My husband isn’t doing anything really to restore trust, although he is being generally very nice. And he’s expecting me to return to how I normally feel and act around him.

So some questions I am going to ask him (or pay attention to see if I can discern the answers on my own) are listed below. I am going to try to understand exactly what has changed. If nothing has changed, we are just as vulnerable to infidelity as we were when he eased into his affair.

  • What do you know about me now that you didn’t know about or appreciate before your affair?
  • What do you think/feel about me now that you didn’t think about during your affair?
  • What do you think/feel about yourself that you didn’t think about or feel during your affair?
  • What *specific* things do you do now to nurture our marriage and me as an individual that you didn’t do before and during your affair?
  • What differences do you see in me (1) since I’ve gotten treatment for my depression and (2) since you stopped your affair?

The point of all these questions is to find out this: In what ways have you changed your thoughts, habits and actions to make yourself less likely to be unfaithful again?

All I’ve seen are:

  • He told her it was over and they would no longer be in contact, and that this step is permanent.
  • He deleted all social media accounts.
  • He changed his cell phone number.
  • He changed his work number.
  • He seems to actually listen to me when I talk. It’s like he lets the words hit his brain and he pays attention to them, instead of busily trying to deflect negative attention or build a defense against *perceived* criticisms. (Anything that was not droolingly positive was criticism.) This is new, and I like it.
  • We have discussed exactly what we would and would not do if he/I/we encounter his girlfriend in the flesh in the future (unlikely).
  • He will sit — visibly uncomfortable, but present — when we need to talk on a difficult topic that makes him anxious. He does not blow me off. (However, he mostly just listens. He rarely responds other than to nod or say, “I’m sad/sorry/etc.” or “What do you want for me to do?” I want to say to him, “I’m not married to myself; I want to hear YOUR opinions, ideas and feelings. You need to step up, take a risk, be vulnerable and fucking PARTICIPATE.”)

Why don’t I feel safe/secure?

  • He carried on an affair under my nose for four years.
  • He could easily start a different social media account (Facebook was how they hooked up in the first place) without my knowledge.
  • He could easily have a burner cell phone that he only keeps at work or otherwise hidden from me for conversations with her or another woman.
  • He is no more forthcoming about the affair or about any difficult topic than he has ever been. He just clams up. Very early after finding out about the affair, I got tired of him stonewalling me, and I told him he had until 5 p.m. that day to answer my questions or move his ass out, and I meant it. About 4:45 p.m., after I’d reminded him I was serious, he called me to answer a question he had refused to answer before: “It went on for about four years. It was only texts, emails and phone calls. I didn’t fuck her.” He actually sounded truthful. But that’s just about all he’s ever told me — and only THAT after pressure from me.
  • The night I found out about the affair, literally 1-2 minutes after reading his and her texts with horror, I was yelling at him and he physically overpowered me, held me down on the bed, pried my hands apart, wrestled the phone away from me and started deleting texts, like an idiot. I asked him bitterly if he was such an idiot that he actually thought that made me UNSEE THEM. I asked him if he was proud of himself for manhandling me like that for the first time ever. I asked if he still had any balls left and could actually face the consequences of his actions and give me the fucking phone back. He looked ashamed and gave me the phone back. I didn’t see anything else on it. I hate how powerless he made me feel at that moment, and I’ve talked with him about this since. But I’ve never forgotten it. Nor forgiven it, apparently. (Later, when I asked why he did such a thing, he said, “I was embarrassed.”)
  • Not knowing. I’ve mentioned before that I was a typical wife and wanted to know what they said in those thousands of texts over the years. I no longer search for it. But I did at the time. When he thought he had deleted everything incriminating from his laptop and I took about two minutes to find a crotch shot she had emailed him (classy), I picked up his laptop, said, “Mother fucker!” and smashed it back down on the table. Well, technically, onto his iPhone, which was on the table. Broke both the laptop AND his phone beyond repair. He took the laptop in to see if the hard drive could be recovered — maybe just the screen was busted — since I asked. He *says* they told him nope, and when I said, fine, I’ll ask a friend to look at it, he quickly said he threw it in a dumpster. I’m mad at myself for destroying the only way I will ever know anything about the affair. I kind of doubt he ever took it to the shop at all. One of the things I’ve read about in the several “affairs” self-help books I’ve read is that the offending spouse has to be willing to answer whatever the innocent spouse asks, even if the information would be painful for the innocent spouse, because total transparency builds trust. He hems and haws and speaks in generalities. I want to look at all those texts NOT to see their lovey-dovey crap — I want to see how often and how badly he talked about me. Since he won’t give me a window into his mind before and during the affair, I have no idea of his mindset toward me and our marriage other than that I was an angry, unappreciative couch-potato drag.

I think sometimes I just want to divorce him so I don’t have to THINK about this anymore.

Other days, I appreciate being with someone who’s (currently) very nice to me and who I have a shared history with. Someone who I remember loving. Someone I care about.

Today? Somewhere inbetween.

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