I have been with my husband for 22 years. We have 4 kids, 3 teenagers living at home still. In the last year I discovered he has cheated….actually cheated seems to not be strong enough a word. He has fucked his way up and down the country for the last 6 years. Prostitutes, dogging, random women, bar staff in the hotels he stays in for work 5 days a week. If it has a pulse he has been humping it.
My 3rd D-day was a couple of months ago, although they don’t feel like D-days because he won’t own up to much, only the stuff that he can’t deny. Although he spent hours attempting to deny the casual sex dating site messages that I managed to hack into — messages containing his dick pics! Apparently wasn’t his dick but someone remarkably similar with the same name, age, underwear, but not him. He is the master of the mindfuck — deny everything and whatever evidence you happen to have will magically disappear.
Anyway, I finally lost it and told him I want a divorce. He stormed out. I felt mighty for approximately 20 minutes until he came back and declared that he was going “to fight for me!” (I did ask him who exactly he was going to fight.)
I was immovable. I told him he can’t fix it, I don’t want to fix it, I dont love him, I won’t ever trust him again, I will never have sex with him again, etc. He cried. He begged…. for about half an hour. Then said, “I’d better go do some grocery shopping.”
One hour later he returns and acts like NOTHING has happened! I mean, WTF? He has since transformed into the perfect husband and father. He COOKS! He is pleasant to be around. I am being civil at best but won’t hug him or sit near him. I can barely look him in the face. Meanwhile he is picking out a new kitchen and family car and asking where I want to go on holiday next year.
I want him gone, but I have run out of energy. I am booked to see a solicitor to start the divorce and am booked on to the Freedom Programme (UK support group for abused women) and seeing a counsellor. But something in my head/heart just won’t click into place. I just can’t see how this limbo will ever end and the longer it goes on the more I doubt myself.
I am reciting “trust that he sucks” like a mantra but when I see him acting so lovely I start to wonder if I imagined it all. My best friend is on speed dial purely so that she can remind me that he is an asswipe. My counsellor constantly tells me her own version of Trust That He Sucks. I don’t believe in unicorns and am trying to be strong, but I feel like he is gradually chipping away at all my strength. It would be soooo easy to just give in and go back to blissful ignorance, but I know I can’t ever forget.
I am not scared of being alone — I am dreaming of that day. I don’t care if he is right now with some slag. I genuinely wish he had had a proper affair and left me for her. Why does he have to hold on so fucking tight?
Christmas is coming up and I feel like I am the one destroying my family, not him. The kids are revelling in having a dad that is finally fun to be around. How the hell do I tell them that as soon as they get the dad they always wanted I am going to send him away?
Sorry this is such a long message, but my head is a mess. It feels like my options are all varying degrees of fucking awful and I am all out of mighty.
Will this limbo ever end?
Yes, this limbo will end the minute you test his sincerity. Remember, the mindfuck has three channels — charm, rage, and self-pity. He’s on a charm offensive now. Otherwise known as the “honeymoon” period in the cycle of abuse. Giving you what you begged for — an engaged, loving, attentive husband and father — keeps you hooked on hopium. He’s testing your resolve. Are you REALLY done? Do you REALLY not care? Is that REALLY a boundary?
Take a big step back. If he truly cared about the enormity of his transgressions, he wouldn’t gaslight you and pretend like nothing happened. He would respect your boundaries, admit fault, and move out. Most important, he would own Bad Guy status with the kids, accept responsibility and absolve you.
He prefers manipulation.
Think about what a mindfuck this is. If I was a boorish dinner guest, and I spilled red wine all over your white sofa — would the proper response be…. charm? What if I shut up about my golf game and became the witty, engaged guest you’ve always wanted at your dinner party? Or flattered you? “That’s a lovely dress you’re wearing, Undiscovered. That color really suits you.”
YEAH, IT MATCHES THE WINE STAIN ON MY WHITE SOFA. You’d be livid. This would be an obvious distraction from my sin — harming your sofa.
The proper response would be to immediately address what I did wrong and take responsibility. Pay the cleaning bill. Buy you a new sofa. Apologize. Not sit on the sofa, continue to enjoy your hospitality, and pretend like nothing happened.
He has since transformed into the perfect husband and father. He COOKS! He is pleasant to be around.
Bitch cookie. This is basic partner stuff. How worn down are you that pleasantries and cooking matter THIS much? Okay, the man can flip an omelette. He has a hooker habit.
I feel like he is gradually chipping away at all my strength. It would be soooo easy to just give in and go back to blissful ignorance, but I know I can’t ever forget.
Don’t doubt yourself. His “transformation” is a form of gaslighting. He’s not trying to make it better, he’s pretending it never happened. It’s the I Fail to Understand Your Hostility mindfuck — how you can you be so unkind to one so wonderful? It’s impression management for the kids, so you’ll be the Mean Mommy who makes daddy go away.
Stay strong. With the help of your counselor and the Freedom Programme, make a safe plan to leave him. Trust the professionals on this. I’m glad you have a team. It can be dangerous leaving one of these freaks.
It may not feel like it now, but the best thing you can do for your kids is not model abuse. I’m sure he will flip the channel to Sad Sausage self-pity for the kids. Again, be all business and as no contact as you can be. Divorce is the natural consequence of abuse. He doesn’t get to risk your health, steal marital resources for sex workers, gaslight you, and conduct a double life. That shit is not NORMAL. It might feel normal now, but that’s because everyone is beaten down to accommodate his entitlement.
He fears CONSEQUENCES. He’s not bothered by his behavior, or he wouldn’t indulge it six. straight. years. of it. Steady on.
Will this limbo ever end?
Yes, it ends when you say it ends. You’re enjoying the intermittent rewards of his “good” behavior. You’re rightfully exhausted. He’s wearing you down. The oasis from drama feels nice. But it’s all a mirage.
Often we don’t want to upset the mirage, because of the crushing grief we know is waiting on the other side. I didn’t matter. He really did this. It really happened. Choose grief over hopium. The pain is finite, but abusers will keep using chumps as long as we let them.
You want to stop the limbo? Challenge his “good” behavior.
“Thanks, Bob. The omelette is nice. But if you really want to demonstrate your apologies, please sign this divorce settlement. That would go a long way to conveying sorry.”
“Bob, please explain to the children why we are divorcing, and what you did to necessitate this sad outcome.”
He won’t do the fair thing, the right thing, the kind thing. He only does the self-serving thing.
Why does he have to hold on so fucking tight?
It’s not love, it’s control.
Break free. He cannot force you to stay married to him. Get OUT. Safely. With the help of those pros. We’re here for you too. You can DO IT.
He thinks he can buy you with the price of a new kitchen? Fuck him. You’re not one of his hourly lays. You’re worth so much more. Time to act like it and end the limbo.