I need a sucker punch reality check. I am 65 years old husband is 66 and we have been together since we were 18. Five months ago (October 2016), I found out through a semi friend tip that “your husband is a pervert.”
This caused me to search his computer (never had done that before) when he was out of town one weekend. I found enough to know something was up. Confronted him when he returned and of course he tried to deny, but when I continued to back up my statements with what I had found, he let me know that he had affairs almost our entire marriage.
He assured me it was all his issues, that I had done nothing wrong, and still to this day he knows it is all “him.” He has been to a sex addict therapist (we both realize he is not a sex addict) — only went one time, read the recommended book “Sex Addiction 101” by R. Weiss and then went to a psychiatrist twice who had been recommended by my psychiatrist.
His last visit with a professional was December 2016. I retired in November from a highly successful career. (Great retirement gift to find this out at the exact same time). I immediately moved to a small town in Colorado where my mom lives (she is a fireball and still living) and leased a condo. It has given me time to breathe and figure out what has happened.
My husband did finally tell me more details this past March. I kept telling him that it will be impossible to forgive if I do not even know what I am forgiving. I feel what he told me is just the tip of the iceberg. Three one-year affairs (all married women — one I knew!) with the affairs separated by several years, “happy endings at massage parlors,” and watching minimal porn on the internet. He denies internet match ups even though after D-day I found Tinder on his phone. I had found match.com profile info when I had checked his computer, but the site had not been touched for over two years. I called the informant semi-friend about three months after D-day to find out what exactly she meant by “pervert”. She said that everyone knows he ran around on me and has for decades. At parties he would flirt and make passes when I was not around him, according to her. She may be one of the affair partners for all I know. She never said that, but only God knows.
He is extremely remorseful and does not want to throw away all our years. He used to drink alcohol (both of us would have a full bottle of wine or champagne every night together), but he stopped cold turkey over two years ago. He has willpower when he wants to, so I know he can stop anything if he sets his mind to it. He lost weight and has kept it off when he stopped the alcohol. Both of us are in much better health than we have ever been. My question is — have you ever seen a truly remorseful cheater do a 180 and become the honest, trusting spouse they should have always been?
Sometimes I think I do not want to throw away all those years either if he has truly changed, but then I stop and think he threw our marriage away every time he cheated on me. We have always had a great sex life and still do when he visits here. (We were both tested for STDs and all’s okay). This is probably from my side what they call “hysterical bonding.”
When his computer was checked at D-Day, I found info that he was about to rent a Airbnb in our city. When he was confronted, he said he was going to try to have another affair with a woman from yoga class who is married. He immediately called it all off (I assume) when I confronted him. I know that a cheater can get really good at hiding things when they know your eyes are more wide open. All these years I had no idea he was cheating on me and of course he has taken be this long to even talk about it with anyone other than my sister and a psychiatrist.
How long do you wait and see if his good behavior is really real? I also realize I had to catch him not him confiding in me so how real is his remorse? My psychiatrist said to wait at least six months after D-day because I was retiring at the same time and one life crisis at a time would be advised so I am coming up on six months. What are your thoughts?
Dear Colorado Fox,
So often chumps ask the wrong question. Your wrong question is — do I think a truly remorseful cheater can change? (Theoretically yes. Wouldn’t matter if he did, however, because you’d never trust him again. If he can lie to you for 40+ years straight, how the hell would you know if he reformed? Are you going to tether his dick to a post? Make him wear an ankle monitor? Implant a chip in his head?)
The RIGHT question is — how can I protect myself this instant from this fraudulent douchebag? My thoughts are about your successful career and your retirement savings. You mentioned YOUR successful career. You neglected to mention his. Gee, no wonder he’d like to salvage what you have together. How convenient of you to be out of town (cake!), yet available for the occasional hysterical bonding session, and far, far away from his computer nexus of dating sites and affair partners. #winning
Let’s weigh what he’s done, versus what you report as “remorse.”
On the cheating sociopathic fuckwit side we have: Three long-term affairs, Tinder profiles, Match profiles, sex workers, years of coming on to women behind your back, and an airbnb reservation. That you know of...
On the reform side we have: one trip to a sex therapist, two trips to a shrink, and a single purportedly read book. And he very kindly does not blame you for his cheating. #bitchcookie
Oh hang on, we also have sobriety. Which you interpret as “he can change when he wants to.” But what was his impetus to change? His extra weight and dissolving liver was probably not helping his game with the ladies. Good for him for kicking booze, but an absence of alcohol is not a change of character. Any AA sponsor can tell you about dry drunks — all the entitlement and acting out, just none of the drinking.
Your husband has no impetus to change his cheating — you’re there providing cake and a nice retirement fund. Why would he give that up? Because it pains him so to hurt you? Examine his sheer indifference on that front for 40 years. But you know now and he said he was sorry! So 40-plus years of staggering entitlement just disappears into the unicorn fairy forest?
Colorado Fox — you miss the lie. We all get it. Every single chump who ever chumped gets it. You want what you thought you had — a great connection, great sex, security, an intact family. You want your investment to not have been a total waste.
So you’re grieving, and right now you’re firmly stuck in the bargaining stage of grief. Maybe it’s not over. We can still enjoy sex! (I call “hysterical bonding” the pick me dance performed naked.) Maybe he can change! (Oh hey, I see a unicorn!) Maybe if I keep waltzing with this corpse we can appear on Dancing With the Stars!
You need to change your focus, Colorado. Back to YOU. Is this man who abused your trust, risked your health, and spent your marital resources on affairs for 40+ years worthy of YOU? Is this relationship as it stands now, knowing what you know acceptable? Don’t predicate that answer on who you think he potentially could be — but who he IS. Is what he’s done OKAY with you? Do you really think he can walk that back?
Let’s test his remorse. I want you to start protecting yourself today. See a lawyer. Get a forensic accountant or certified financial divorce planner and examine the money trail. Run a credit check on him. Look for hidden debts, credit cards, PO boxes. Financial abuse goes hand-in-hand with infidelity, especially at 66 years old. You don’t have the extra years to rebuild your savings. Get a good settlement and divorce him. You protect that nest egg. And as you’re doing that, report back to me on the depth of his sorry.
Next, I want you to go no contact with him. The sex and contact is fogging your reason. And don’t think he doesn’t know that.
Finally, I want you to fire that shrink who told you to wait 6 months. That’s the worst of the RIC advice there is — and it benefits two sets of people — cheaters and therapists on weekly billing cycles. I’d tell your shrink you’re going to wait 6 months to pay her bill. Oh, she doesn’t like that? Is she harmed by a reduction in cash flow? Did you make a promise to pay your bill that you’re reneging on? Isn’t it awful when people break their promises?
Now tell her to multiply her unhappiness times 40 years and a fistful of sex workers and get back to you. And if she complains tell her you said you were sorry and you did read the book she recommended. If she thinks that remorse should be good enough for you, it should be good enough for her.