Surviving Infidelity series: The shock of stumbling upon infidelity
I discovered my husband’s affair by complete accident. I had not a clue nor a reason to suspect anything. He was running late leaving for work one morning early last July (just a few days past our 28th wedding anniversary) and left our home computer open to his sign-on. I didn’t realize it was on his sign-on – because it is ALWAYS left on mine – so after he left, I opened e-mail to find a document I had e-mailed to myself from the office the previous afternoon. What I found brought me to my knees. In just a small amount of time my world went from quite happy and optimistic to broken, dark and pessimistic. My ENTIRE life was a lie. I learned that my husband had a secret second life with a woman I had never heard of before, the relationship was 5 years in the making, and she knew as much about our life and our children’s lives as I did. She had photos of every significant event in our lives (graduations, vacations, etc.). What I also learned shortly after this discovery was that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, when not completely resolved, can come back at you 200%. Two years prior, (2006) I was threatened and assaulted by a business partner. I thought I had gotten beyond that experience but I was wrong. I experienced such grief and anxiety that I could not breathe. I could not eat, sleep, think or focus. I could not stop trembling. I was so afraid, so hurt and so alone. I was alone because I did not dare confide in anyone. I was internally trying to work out how to best confront my husband and knew I was in too much out of control emotional pain to do the right job of it. So I made an appointment with a counselor. She helped me to learn that PTSD can reoccur with an emotional event such as this. She also gave me permission to reach out to a small network of people close to me but cautioned that I should seek out only those who I felt were “friends of the marriage”. Meaning that they would not counsel me to kick his butt out of the house and change the locks. She also gave me the courage and mental “tools” (no RX!) to confront my husband. Within the two months we were in the process of recovery / reconciliation and things were going fairly well. My husband had broken the relationship and all contact with the other person. I had my network of support in my sister and a niece close to my age. I was exercising and walking every day for mental health more than anything else but I did transform from average to pretty darned hot – so I changed my hair style and color and bought some new clothes and “fu-fu” underthings so I felt outwardly pretty. We were going to counseling together on a weekly basis. All in all, everything seemed to be going in the right direction but I was still experiencing some nagging doubts. Something just didn’t feel right. I thought maybe I was stuck on the fence about staying or leaving. At 90 days past discovery I was awakened by a dream / nightmare that was so real, I was immediately hyperventilating, shaking and crying so completely out of control. In my dream my husband was beginning a new relationship and this time he was using the computer. My husband was out of town on business. I called him and demanded his computer password and laptop password. I did not give him an option. I told him if he did not give them to me I would take the computers to a computer guru that very day but I would have access to them. If he had nothing to hide – great, it would put my mind at ease. He gave me the passwords and within minutes I was searching everything – files, history, email, etc. I found he had Yahoo, Hotmail, and GMail mail accounts, each with IM chat capability, a MySpace (showing he was single) and a Match.Com account (indicating he was separated). Oh My God, he was actively searching for another “friend” and cheating on the internet– someone 35-50 years old within a 25 mile radius of our home . And based upon the ones he was interested in, made contact with, he wasn’t particularly picky – some of these “ladies” had been married/divorced 3 or more times and looked like they had! We went back to square one immediately. This time I was to learn that my husband also had an addiction to porn/lust and his purpose for finding another person was to satisfy things he did not want from me. As the mother to his three children, I had become his “Virgin Mary” – someone he did not see as the solution for his lust and desires because I was the “good girl, the mom, the lady”. It has now been 6 months since my initial discovery and and I just wrote the previous paragraphs without tears and tissues. We are still committed to reconciling, my husband has entered into a program for lust/porn addiction and we are still seeing a counselor. We have also been able to bring the intimacy back into our relationship and (for me) it has been very liberating. For 28 years my husband shaped who I was in our marriage bed. My knowing him finally for who he really is has taken a lot of his self-imposed shame away so that he is able to accept from me things he thought he never could, and I like it! God bless you as you go through the initial days of paralyzing grief. Trust yourself – you ARE smarter and stronger than you can believe right now. Please allow yourself the time to internalize and think through your actions and decisions. A more rational you will step out of the fog. As bad as it feels today, I will share with you something my counselor told me at our first meeting – it had no effect on me until much later – and then it had profound effect….”If this discovery completely floored you – it came 100% unexpected – than your husband loves you and does not want to lose you. If he did not love you he would have been careless in his coverup and careless in his treatment of you while he was in the relationship with the other person. There is something he needs but is not getting from you either because #1 you can’t give it to him or #2 he can’t ask you for it. In my case, spot on, it was door #2.
More Surviving Infidelity Stories and Comments
It Gets Better…It Really Does
Enjoying Life After Infidelity
Understanding is Key
Turning to God to Solve Your Infidelity Crisis
Staying Strong for the Kids