I am currently in limbo while I get the finances in order and fully decide what I will do. He wants to reconcile but I am leaning toward breaking up because after what he’s done I don’t think I will ever trust and love him the way I want to be able to trust and love a husband.
In the meantime he is being the great guy he used to be and I have my boundaries firmly in place. I keep wondering though if he is genuinely changed (all of his actions are in line with unicorn status) or if he is hoovering. He seems genuine, but I am reminded that he was also every bit as convincing when he was being an asshole for several drunken years.
My question is, how long can the average cheater get by without dropping ANY red flags? I am so picky now I analyze everything he does to make sure I’m not being conned, while healing myself. Suddenly sounds like double work for me, again. What a fucking surprise that is. At least I’m not harboring resentment and besides he does mow the lawn and help with the childcare and housework. Wait, did someone just shout “Hopium!” at me? Anyway, his behavior checks out fine right now but at what point would I really know for sure? Can they fake actual nice for years? I’m already nervous enough about the alcoholism coming back up later on.
I read online that it’s recommended to give the behavior a year to see if it is hoovering. It has been four months so far. It will be about a year from now before I can truly afford to break it off if I decide to. So far I am keeping my emotional connection at friend level because I don’t want to get hurt again. Limbo sucks like we all know.
I am leaning toward getting out because all of his alcoholism and cheating and lying bullshit wasn’t and isn’t my problem and it’s all dealbreakers in my original book anyhow. But then I will sometimes feel like I am better off giving this a try for the children because he was great for many years like he is now and besides who’s to say I won’t pick another seemingly nice guy who will turn into a jerk later. As I am writing this, however, I am angrily wondering if that is my con right there — a shit sandwich for me and another try at this relationship for Sparkles the Magnificent Personality-Changing Dry-Drunk Unicorn. I think part of me would rather risk becoming a bitter old lady who gardens and whose company consists of her children and possible grandchildren, a few friends, a dog, and her principle of eat no shit.
Obviously, I am confused. Any clarity you can impart will be much appreciated.
Well personally, I aspire to grow old (and bitter) gardening. So that’s hardly a terrible fate in my book. Compared with nursing Sparkles the Magnificent Personality-Changing Dry-Drunk Unicorn through sobriety and monogamy 12-step, I’ll take the hollyhocks any day.
You didn’t give me much to go on with Sparkle’s miraculous 4-month transformation other than he mows the lawn and notices his children. Is he in AA? Therapy? Has he pressured you for reconciliation?
I would think if Sparkles was serious about getting his shit together, he would not pressure you to reconcile with him. His sobriety should be his first focus, not ensuring that you hold his hand through this lest he fail. And it sounds like he has two impulse control problems — booze and fucking around. So he needs 12-step on at least a couple fronts.
Here is what I know about addiction — it’s often a life-long struggle, relapse is common (if not expected), and support is essential. Recovery is a lifestyle for many — weekly meetings, the support of sponsors, avoiding triggers and temptations. It’s not a poof! I’m suddenly a guy who does housework kind of transformation — it’s a slog. A struggle. Replacing shitty coping mechanisms with healthy, not-so-fun ones.
Frankly, I’d expect a guy who is truly in AA recovery, or sex addict recovery (or whatever stop whoring around looks like) to be rather a sullen, self-involved grump, if he’s doing it right. If he’s sparkly and magnificent? Yeah, that shit would give me pause. I would suspect he’s hoovering.
I am always suspicious of cheaters whose self improvement is contingent upon you staying with them. I mean, shouldn’t their lust for self-improvement go beyond you? An indication of a cheater getting it, IMO, is losing the entitlement thinking. Ergo, they’d lose the notion that they’re entitled to a reconciliation, or your continued support. They would accept the consequences of their actions and make amends in tangible ways that are not housework.
What do I mean by tangible ways? A fair, uncontested divorce settlement. A commitment to addiction recovery regardless of your presence in their life. A moral inventory where they own what they’ve done and don’t blameshift any of it to you.
If you really want to stay married to this person, I’d want to see accountability in the form of a generous post-nup so you’d have a ready-to-go divorce in case they fall off the wagon.
Sorry to me does NOT look like you assume all the risk and they’ll try harder at this sobriety, fidelity thing…. maybe.
What’s wrong with just getting on with your life, divorcing the man, and he gets better (or not) on his own time? He can always decide to date you sober again later. But I suspect after some time away from the chaos of living with him, you wouldn’t take him up on it.
Because Hawk, twitchy is no way to live. I am so picky now I analyze everything he does to make sure I’m not being conned, while healing myself.
You cannot heal yourself at the same time you’re being hypervigilant that he’s not a screw up. Analyzing everything he does is NOT soothing. It’s trying to control the uncontrollable. It’s a sign that you feel very unsafe in this relationship.
So listen to yourself — you don’t know if he’s genuine, because he’s seemed genuine before at you got played. You spend a lot of time untangling his skein and playing marriage police to assure yourself that you’re NOT being played. In other words, you just don’t trust the guy. And with good reason.
When that trust is gone, IMO, your relationship is dead. Can trust be regained? Theoretically, yes, but it’s that unicorn I write about. It’s a slog. It’s not months, it’s years. It requires you investing heavily in his potential. And he’s already proven himself to be a bad risk.
People aren’t roulette wheels. Ooh! We hit on a good spell! He’s not drinking! Wheel turns. Uh oh, he’s cheating. Wheel turns. Shit, he’s drinking again. Wheel turns. Oh hey, he mowed the lawn!
You don’t want to lay all your money down that you’re going to hit red 7. You get up from the table and go find a more stable source of income than gambling. You surround yourself with reliable, consistent people who demonstrate good character over time. You invest in yourself and put the focus back on your own life. THAT is what healing looks like. You have some agency here. Not everything depends on him and his fragile state of monogamy and sobriety. You have “original deal breakers”? Enforce them. Start controlling you and walk away from what you don’t control — him.
This column ran previously.