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My reliable support system. June 20, 2008

Posted by phledge in black bile, family, fat, feminism.
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I’m in a tailspin, y’all.

I just confirmed on Wednesday that my husband has been cheating on me, in a manner of speaking.  I now know that he has at least engaged in phone sex with a coworker, kissed her, fondled her, and expressed the sense that she understands him in a way I cannot because they are both survivors of sexual abuse.  I had my suspicions beginning a few months ago that something was amiss between us, and then a few weeks ago it amplified.  Last week I had no doubt that there was a huge problem, and this week I did the footwork to get a clear picture of what has happened.  I’ve done some snuffling around the ‘toob for support for infidelity, but I need to tell my story and hopefully someone here can assure me that I’m not crazy.

Long time ago, say, within a few months of us having become a couple, I ask him if he’d ever cheated on anyone.  He says, “No, but if I did I wouldn’t admit to it.  I’d rather bear the burden of guilt than hurt someone intentionally with information that they didn’t need to hear.  Nope, I’d keep it completely secret.”  Strangely, I find this comforting.  How thoughtful, protecting me from his dalliances, sucking it up and letting the guilt gnaw at his insides rather than mine.  He actually doesn’t seem like he has the impetus to look elsewhere, and I take that at face value.

Fast forward to the weekend before our wedding ceremony, and his pals have planned a bachelor extravaganza.  He says, “I don’t know what they’re planning or where they’re taking me.”  I reply, “Welp, I don’t care what you do, because we aren’t married yet, but under no circumstances are you to a) tell me and b) bring anything home.  I don’t want to have to bathe you in Clorox.”  We laugh heartily.  He later confesses that he was taken to a brothel (yeah, we live in Nevada), but keeps his story to the description of the place and the people there; no evidence in demeanor or tone that he actually took me up on my generosity of spirit.  We laugh heartily.

I am now in school, finding myself in a crush over a female classmate.  Mr Phledge and I have titillating conversations about it, joke about a threesome, discuss the ways in which men and women are different in so many, many ways.  I warn him that I would not want him to share my bed with a woman, and he admits that he would feel threatened because he could not give me what this amorphous She could.  “No worries,” I say.  “I’ve been bisexual for almost fifteen years and I still haven’t drummed up the courage to do anything about it.”  He stops, considers, then says, “Well, if you did do something, I wouldn’t want to know about it.  Y’know, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.'”  I am confused.  He explains, slightly exasperated:  “You know, remember that cheating only hurts the person who does it if they don’t tell anyone about it.  And the spouse doesn’t ask about it.  We’ve talked about this, right?  Don’t you agree?”  I do not want to be the clingy dependent wife.  I do not want to admit that this would potentially tear me in two, that my ego is that fragile, that my self-esteem is in the shitter because I’ve gained 15 pounds in ten months since starting classes.  I want to be open, loving, European, cosmopolitan.  I want to accept that men just cheat and how did we come up with the foolish idea of monogamy anyway?  Fuck, do I really want to be faced with only my husband’s awkward, ineffective sexual skills for the rest of my life?  (Yes, she says, yes yes yes I love him we can do better)  So I grin nonchalantly and say, “Right, of course, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ that’s how we roll.  I’m cool with that.”

He confirms that this is, indeed, the rules, about six months later.  I confirm, flippantly, that this is, indeed, the rules.  He loves me, right?  Why would he need the protection of these rules?  How fucking stupid am I?

We have discussions about how he is “concerned for my health,” that he is afraid he will not be attracted to me if I “get up to 500 pounds,” that maybe I am deluding myself by embracing this new “fat acceptance” idea, these radical online friends telling me I can weigh whatever and still be a worthwhile human being.  We argue about his loss of sex drive, how I am worried that it is my appearance and how he insists it is his antidepressant.  I am going to be a doctor and I think he is right.  He begs me to, ahem, take a Brazilian vacation—laser, wax, shave, Nair, whatever—and I consider how people make compromises in sexual relationships so that everyone has a good time.  I also consider the rise of the porn star standard, the objectification of my genitalia, the discomfort of growing that shit back.  I verbally acquiesce, but inside a feminist momentum is building.  Fuck you and your pretend pussies, your raunchy talk during sex, your persistence in doing things to my body that don’t make me feel good.  Fuck you and your Zoloft excuses, your fucking concern about my health.  Fuck your—it hits me.  I am so angry with this man, and I don’t know how to express it.  We are going to Reno for the weekend, and then he will return home while I stay with my family, because I worked hard for this vacation and I need some time away from him and he doesn’t have any paid time off left so he has to come back to Vegas, to the heat, the crowded streets, the entitlement.  He hates it here.  I do too, but I manipulate my reality so that I may spend time in Northern Nevada.

When I come home, I am surprised that I am not surprised that he is not excited to see me.  He is happy I am home, but there is no fanfare, no rushing to kisses at the door, no reunion sex.  I have only been away without him for five days, I rationalize.  But I still tell him that I would have liked to see him be a little more demonstrative.  He apologizes and we watch Mythbusters.  The next day he has an appointment with his psychiatrist and she tells him to increase his Wellbutrin.  That should perk up the ol’ libido.  We fuck like wild rabbits over the weekend, two out of three nights, a rate heretofore forgotten since long before we married.  I am both suspicious and delighted.  Maybe it was just the drugs.  What if it’s not?  Shut up and enjoy the ride, you idiot.

Monday evening he asks, yet again, if DADT is still the rule.  I am driving home, and he tells me that he is telling his best friend about the DADT policy.  I say, “Oh.”  It wasn’t just the drugs, I muse silently.  When I get home, I say, “You know, I’m actually starting to think that it might not be such a good idea.”  He balks.  “What if you wanted to sleep with a woman?  Don’t you worry that you wouldn’t, I dunno, live out your life fully if you felt like you couldn’t take that opportunity?” We are in bed, and during this conversation I have stopped reading the Penguin compilation of the Dalai Lama’s works, watching my out-breath, like my life, pass from me in short wisps, scraping the bottom of my panicking heart looking for loving-kindness, swallowing slowly so I don’t throw up.  “No,” I answer, “I’m really not interested right now.  I don’t think ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is so much a good idea anymore.”  He is crestfallen.  We turn off lights and go to sleep; I roll away from him but my eyes are wide open and I am nearly panting, like a small mammal that has found refuge from the cat, but knows that the feline can be patient and its claws can be very sharp, knows that at any second it will feel weight and agony and will only hope that this cat is not a playful one.

The next day I have a small epiphany:  I don’t want the freedom he is offering!  No no!  I like the sense of distance generated by my wedding band (which I don’t wear because I have now gained an additional 10 pounds, making that a grand total of 25 since we moved here and 45 since we met, and now the band is nearly impossible to take off, and I have horrible visions of being that woman who had to have her rings cut off of her sausage fingers because she didn’t take them off as she gained and gained and gained).  I like having male friends, knowing that if I decline or if they don’t offer it’s not because there is no attraction, but because I’m off-limits!  Takes all the guesswork out of wondering if I’m hot, wondering if someone would fuck me.  Takes most of the pain out of the possibility that I’m not, that they wouldn’t.  I take solace in my fidelity; it is a shield from these things.  No no, I do not want to be “on the market.”  Are you fucking kidding me?  After how hard I worked to get off the damn thing?  I tell my husband these things; well, most of it.  He regards me, incredulous, as I tell him that this is why we do not need DADT.  “Okay,” he mumbles.  There is something driving me, some outrageous panic, and I think, ‘this is what OCD folks must endure—this vigilance, this terror, all for something that is harmless, right?’

That night we go out to dinner and she calls him.  He calls her “baby” and a tremor, must have been visible, felt like an eight on the Richter scale, whips through every cell in my body.  When he hangs up I feign lightheartedness and whine, “Heyyyyy, I thought I was your baby,” and he shrugs and says, “Eh, everybody’s ‘baby’ to me—but you are my only lovemonkey.”  We eat and the food sits like a sleeping anaconda in my panicking bowels.

Wednesday he goes to work.  I am left to my own devices and sit down at his computer.  I am disgusted with myself for rationalizing this breach of his confidence, his privacy, and I savor my self-hatred for a moment, feeling my heart pound in my chest.  Then I dive into his IM archive with his very closest friend, knowing that he would probably confess, or should I say brag about, something to him; I head straight for the Monday night transcript.  Ta da.  It’s not even particularly juicy, but it redefines the way I have been feeling for a few months now.  It validates me, fuels my fury, tears my fucking heart in a million tiny pieces and I suspect that the empty heavy feeling in my chest is actually my wise body descending on this ruptured organ with macrophages and cytokines, the janitors and Pine-Sol of the viscera, and I can imagine the looks on those little janitors’ faces, like “Whoa, holy SHIT, will you look at that!  What the hell was that?” and then, “Welp, gotta clean it up anyway.”  I can hear the creaking of the mop bucket wheels as my heart is devoured because it has exploded inside me.  I read that she has sent him topless photos and my husband has forwarded them to his friend, so I try to find them.  I need to see this, that it’s real, that it’s not some t-shirt with bare breasts painted on it, not out of my own puerile curiosity but maybe it is.  I click on the wrong IM button—or maybe it was the right one, I don’t know—and alert Walter, the friend, to my presence.  Fuck fuck fuck “Oh, HI, sorry, I didn’t mean to do that.  How are you?”  We exchange the usual pleasantries, as we are actually mutual friends, he and his wife are good people, sort of, might be part of the problem, but I’m not ready to think about that yet, and then I lean in.  “Look, man, I know that you’re his wingman and that you’re loyal to him first, but has he been cheating on me?”  A briefer pause than I expected, then, “I’m gonna take the high road here:  if you suspect, then you should ask.  You’re not going to get anywhere by stewing with assumptions.”  Nicely done, I say, and thank you.

When Mr Phledge calls that night, an hour after he was due to get off work (this happens a lot, it doesn’t mean anything, right?), he asks me what’s wrong and I say a lot is wrong, and he begs me not to hang shit over his head like that, so I tell him it’s about DADT.  And I hear the fear in his voice and he says he’ll be home soon, but that he hasn’t done anything.  I make a horrible, horrible face.  When he comes in, I ask him to tell me everything that he has done with her, everything, don’t skimp, I want bloody fucking details, I have to know because I know something’s up, and in midstream have a brilliant flash of inspiration not to tell him HOW I know these things because I will be following up on him and what kind of stupid fuck leaves written evidence of his infidelity?  His cell buzzes and he picks it up from the table, then puts it back down.  “That was Carla,” he states, “and she knows we’re having this conversation.”  I lose all composure knowing that this person has a window into my intimate life, and while I’m crying I realize that they text frequently and I make a mental note to go digging through their text messages as soon as I can conveniently manage it, and he confesses to most of what I know already, with a little prompting from me.  I apologize profusely for this anger and wildness that I should be controlling because he was only following the rules and now look at me breaking them by asking.  Bad wife.  He convinces me to come to bed with him, begs quietly to touch me, and he sidles up for a few minutes then retreats because he is uncomfortably hot.  I am wearing a nightshirt and I am not used to clothing constricting my limbs while I sleep but that’s the price I’ll pay for not having to deal with my sexuality right now.

Maybe I should try to sell this book.

The next day I am hungover, raw, in no better shape than I was the night before.  He is quiet but upbeat, pecks me on the lips like a child would kiss his mother; the “I love yous” are piling up pretty deep and high but they simply add to the detritus on the floor, something over which I would trip instead of settle into and feel comforted.  I evidently give him a horrible, horrible look, and he says, “What’s with the look?” and I say, “It might be there for a long time.”  Later in the afternoon he accuses me of making him feel awful for something he did within the construct upon which we had agreed.  I grovel on the inside because he’s right, so right.  I say that what really hurts is that he took action on permission, that he wanted permission to begin with, that there is very clearly something wrong in our marriage that led to these events.  “Do you want to stay married?” I ask, and he without hesitation says yes.  I cannot say that I am without hesitation.  Later I try to fall asleep but cannot.  I get out of bed and continue reading on the couch, naked in so many ways, reading the Dalai Lama’s soothing words of wisdom, of escaping suffering by knowing life’s true nature, and at the same time my heart skips a beat every couple of paragraphs because ha! his cell phone is sitting on the side table and I cannot help my masochism, this profound and disgusting curiosity to know exactly what has happened, to gain enough knowledge that should I challenge him again to tell me the whole truth I will know how much he is withholding, his filthy sins of omission.  I am reading and plotting, reading and plotting, when he emerges from the room, and while my brand new heart is doing its best not to explode itself this time out of fear of getting caught—is this what his life has been like?  My god, he’ll die before forty at this rate—he blandly mutters, “Too hot.  Leg cramps.  Where’s the Benadryl?”  I medicate him, and he goes back to bed, and I pounce on the phone promptly thirty minutes after the drug has been swallowed.  I feel like God overhearing Adam and Eve’s conversations post-Eden, the stark disconnect between this perfect creature I thought I knew and the real one moaning through text messages about someone else’s tongues and nipples and smooth pussies.  I kick myself mentally for not having given in to the Brazilian.  I find the pictures, a pleasantly plump woman in a bikini bottom and sunglasses, one hand holding the phone camera, the other holding her left breast.  I read her messages, to see who started what, how resistant she is to the concept of his advances, since she knows he is married, and yet she also knows about the DADT policy that if I had my life to live over I would run screaming from fingers in ears yelling no no no no.  She is no angel, either, but I feel sorry for her that one of the last messages is, “dont ruin your marriage for me im a big girl.”  Of course, she also writes, “we havent fucking DONE anything” and I laugh a wry, silent laugh for this person who actually has told my husband she wants to meet me.  And I am surprised by my fury upon considering this, that if I were to meet her now I would tear her throat out with my bare hands and stomp on her perfect breasts, something I’m fairly certain the Dalai Lama would not approve of.  I look at my own breasts, marred and dysfunctional after reduction surgery, a process through which my husband accompanied me because he was as concerned about my back problems as I was.  I look at my fat belly, sweaty against my arm where it is resting, hating my body again; like an old heroin-addicted friend, is that hatred.  Pity, disgust, inertia.  I make sure all the phone’s settings are back to their previous status and set it down where I found it, then play my piano for about an hour (headphones on), then sit at his desk because my laptop’s in the bedroom and start writing my feelings.  It takes me an hour, and I print it out, put it in an envelope, seal it, and write, in impeccable angled cursive, “Please read this before you come home from work tonight –me.”  It is now four in the morning and I settle in on the couch, with my intellect telling me I should be exhausted and my body saying we just fucking got started.  He emerges from the bedroom at 6:15 and sadly notes that I have slept on the couch.  I shrug and say it seemed the thing to do.  He asks me if I’m going to continue to stew.  I say, “I wish I could stop.”

I emailed my family physician to see if she had recommendations for marriage counselors, and upon her reply put in a call.  I’ll make an appointment, and if we can’t make it we won’t make it.  I don’t often say things like this, but if you’ve read this far I take it that you care and I’ll ask that you pray for us, and for me.

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Comments»

1. Mercy - June 20, 2008

1) You’re not crazy

2) We care.

2. fashionablenerd - June 20, 2008

I don’t often say things like this, but if you’ve read this far I take it that you care and I’ll ask that you pray for us, and for me.

I will do just that.

3. Mary - June 20, 2008

I’m really sorry you’re going through this. You’re definitely in my thoughts and prayers.

4. Lindsay - June 20, 2008

Oh honey, i am so sorry. I will definitely be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. I’ve been cheated on in a previous long-term relationship (not a marriage), and i don’t think i’ve ever felt anything worse when i had to deal with those problems. It’s just about one of the most miserable places in the world – don’t beat yourself up for being hurt about it; you’ve got enough on your plate without adding to it.

5. Meowser - June 20, 2008

I don’t often say things like this, but if you’ve read this far I take it that you care and I’ll ask that you pray for us, and for me.

You got it. I’m so sorry you had to experience this.

6. fatgirlonadate - June 20, 2008

Phledge, I am so sorry, and your writing here is so powerful. We do care and we are your support and will be whatever happens.

7. boobsihazdem - June 20, 2008

You don’t know me, but this…my heart was in my mouth reading this, I hope things improve for you. As Mercy says, we care.

8. em - June 20, 2008

O boy.

*hugs*

He’s not cheating on you because of the way you look. He’s cheating because that’s the kind of guy he is.

9. phledge - June 20, 2008

I knew I put this in the right place. Thanks, everyone, for your support and love. And thanks, fatgirlonadate, for the compliment on the writing. Sometimes I still gots skillz.

10. Marste - June 20, 2008

Oh God, I’m so sorry. I will absolutely pray for you. Hang in there (as though there were another option, right?). *hugs*

11. Becky - June 20, 2008

I am so sorry, and I will be thinking of you and praying for you. You are absolutely not crazy.

I don’t know if it would mean anything at all to say this right now – but you are a brilliant writer.

12. Aurora - June 20, 2008

Not crazy.
Caring.
Sorry for the pain.

13. vesta44 - June 20, 2008

You are not crazy, and I feel for you. You’ll be in my thoughts. I am so sorry you’re going through this.

14. DawnD - June 20, 2008

phledge, we haven’t met, but I’m here to say I support you. I’ve been through my own finding-out-my-husband-is-cheating nightmare, so I have some clue of what sort of emotional roller-coaster you’re on at the moment. In our case, we chose a path of counseling, and then to formally and intentionally open our marriage when we were BOTH ready for it. It’s not a path we recommend for very many people. We now do our own coaching for polyamorous people, and we strongly STRONGLY advise AGAINST Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell arrangements. It’s just way too close to cheating (as you have found), and in our opinion (and that of many other polyamorous folks), HONESTY and clear communication are the foundations of any successful relationship.

I am truly sorry that you are going through this. It *is* possible for you and your husband to make it through to the other side (whether you renew monogamous vows, or consciously choose another path), but IMO and IME it requires BOTH of you to be completely committed to your primary relationship, i.e., each other, to the exclusion of all other relationships (whether permanently, or for a time). For me, healing required that my husband WILLINGLY joined me in couples counseling, and gave up all sexual contact (and most other contact) with his lover/my friend. It was hard, it was painful, and there were many times (back then, and some more recently) that I wondered if it was worth it. For me, the good parts and the growth of our relationship have always outweighed the pain, but only you can know what is right for you.

No matter what you decide, you are a worthwhile human being, a marvelous writer (I have been consistently impressed, in this entry and many others), and are pursuing a path that is so, SO needed in the world (an FA doctor is something so many of us dream of having that even one more out there gives us hope). You are worthwhile and amazing in your own right, irrespective of anything your husband might think, or any stupid choices he has made. This situation is not your fault in any way. If you did anything “wrong,” it was to be too loving and trusting. As a fault, it’s one I prefer to most. *wry smile*

I will keep you in my thoughts, and I will pray for the best outcome for you and your marriage, whatever that might be.

15. TropicalChrome - June 20, 2008

I can only say what others have said: you’re not crazy and you’ve got a lot of people pulling for you.

And breathe. Don’t forget to breathe.

16. kateharding - June 20, 2008

Lots of ditto. I’m so sorry, and this is beautifully written.

17. AnnieMcPhee - June 20, 2008

That really hurts to read. 😦 And the “what’s with the face” and “are you going to continue to stew” (the next fucking day????) make me want to rip someone’s throat out as well. So does the “friend”s answer – high road my ass. Pain, fury – what else would any human being feel? There’s nothing at all crazy in that; nothing. I do pray for you.

18. mustelid - June 20, 2008

It’s not your fault he’s a cheater. My ex went a very similar route. So, here it is: you are not crazy, and you have every right to your thoughts and feelings. Tell yourself this as often as you have to. And tell him, too. Where does he get off telling you how to feel? I’m sorry you’re hurting.

19. nuckingfutz - June 20, 2008

Phledge… honey, I just want to hug you right now.

I know how you feel. I went through this 4 years ago with my own husband. It’s hell. You literally feel like you’re dying. It’s something I literally wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

You are definitely NOT crazy. And I will be hoping/praying/thinking good thoughts for you.

If you want to talk, please feel free to email me. (I have my email on my contact page on my blog.) I’ll understand if you don’t, but I just had to offer.

20. Piffle - June 20, 2008

I’m so sorry, you aren’t crazy, and he’s not cheating because of anything about you; but because that’s what he does. The DADT policy was clearly because he was covering his behind, so he could hold it over you.

You are in my thoughts, and I hope things work with the counselling.

21. phledge - June 20, 2008

One of the things I’m trying to avoid—and I wonder how well I’m doing it—is to place all the blame on him. Yes, it was his decision to engage in a physical and emotional affair, but our relationship has had some issues lately, or, well, forever, and we both should be held accountable for not addressing them properly. I do want to reconcile with him. I know this post sounds like he’s a total asshole and right now that’s kind of where we are, but overall it’s good. That’s why I rarely write about him: I only use this blog to complain! 😉

22. Liz - June 20, 2008

But even before you had issues, he was planning his escape route. You are entitled to your anger.

In any case, through his actions, he let you know what he was doing. HE TOLD and THEN you asked. You might have had DADT in place but he was being fucking blatent about it. You didn’t have a See No Evil Hear No Evil pact for fucks sake.

23. Meowser - June 20, 2008

Oh, and this?

I now know that he has at least engaged in phone sex with a coworker, kissed her, fondled her, and expressed the sense that she understands him in a way I cannot because they are both survivors of sexual abuse.

This is NOT the “European” model of “open” marriage. Even in Europe, it’s still considered a breach to be more attached to your lover than you are to your spouse. Casual relationships “on the side” are considered okay, but only if they’re “just sex” and nothing more. Not being interested in your spouse because you’ve spent all your sexual energy on your lover is very bad form there, from what I understand; they’ve got just as many “dos and don’ts” as Americans do, just different ones.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that model always works so hot either, because people often DO get strongly attached to their extramarital lovers. There probably is not one single relationship model that works equally well for everyone.

And I second, third, etc. everyone else here on the excellence of the writing here.

24. Dolly - June 20, 2008

;( I’m so sorry. I hope everything works out for you.

25. Mara Celes - June 20, 2008

I’m so sorry. I’ll be praying for you.

By the way, you’re definitely not crazy–you’re entitled to your fury.

Don’t let him con you into thinking that this isn’t his fault. Don’t take any responsibility for his cheating. Relationships have problems, sure, but it was his choice, and his choice alone, to react to the problems in this inexcusable way.

He’s been manipulating you with DADT. He must have known that you were uncomfortable with it, as he kept confirming and pushing it and checking with you on the subject over and over again. He used your love for him and your fear of losing him to make you feel like you had to agree with him. That’s just emotional blackmail.

I don’t even know you, really, but I’m so angry on your behalf. I hope everything works out to your advantage.

26. wellroundedtype2 - June 20, 2008

Oh, I am so sorry.
Your reactions are very, very normal.
Gotta go to screaming child.

27. AnnieMcPhee - June 20, 2008

And that’s what really hurts the most – where often times men and women differ, IMO. Men often can not stand the idea that their spouse has been physically intimate, whereas women often can’t bear that their spouse has been emotionally intimate. I could understand and forgive a drunken one-night-stand with no prior or after contact, but a whole relationship, complete with intimacy? Oh hell no. My husband on the other hand could probably never get over the drunken one-night-stand but might be able to get over my having a crush and some dirty talk (er, though obviously there’s been more than that here.)

Phledge, of course you have to work through this all, and it’s hard, and infuriating and painful. But at least you know for sure people do care and will listen and root for you. Even if it doesn’t help much now, hopefully it will help in the long run knowing that.

28. wellroundedtype2 - June 20, 2008

And I say that your reactions are normal because they sound like my reactions.
Very not fun.
Very much not about your weight (what do the women whose husbands act like yours does — supremely common story — who are and have always been a size 2 — what do they blame)?

29. Itxaro - June 20, 2008

Hey, you know what?
All of his “Are you still going to stew”, etc. is just his way of trying to invalidate your feelings. Don’t let him do that. Your emotions are perfectly valid, you’re not crazy, and you have to do what you have to do.

And that’s whatever you NEED to do to take care of yourself. Whatever that is.

30. genevieve - June 20, 2008

God, my tummy hurts after reading about your pain. I’ve had this type of person in my life, so I know there is absolutely nothing you’ve done to make him feel this way about your relationship or abuse it like he has…

And thank you so much for letting us see your raw feelings through your beautiful writing. You blow me away.

31. Elizabeth - June 20, 2008

Wow. Just another voice to say I’m sorry–and I have to stifle the urge to give advice and opinions, because only you can know what’s right for you. And I guess that is advice, of a sort: to really listen to yourself and believe your own feelings and reactions.
You’re writing is amazing, of course. Reading this moved me profoundly and brought me to tears, but I was still able to think, “How beautiful!”
My best to you.

32. Ruth Hoffmann - June 20, 2008

I just found your blog, and am so sorry to read that you are going through such a horrible experience.

If I may presume to offer you a little advice, it pricks up my ears a little, the way that you blame yourself so much in this. I worry that you are trying too hard to make space to forgive him, and doing so at your own expense. Yes, it takes two, but instead of asking you over and over about the DADT, your husband should have been saying “I think we need to find ways to reconnect because I am feeling XYZ about someone else.” The fact that he was asking you so many times is a great big sign that he knew it was not OK and that he was crossing lines.

After all, the great big primo rule about any kind of lasting open marriage/relationship is that if there’s any hint that the marriage/relationship is not rock-solid, then the energy should all be directed in to focus on and foster the marriage/relationship.

I am not saying “don’t forgive him”– that is up to the both of you and time, and the heart and spirit are capable of amazing things. All I am trying to say is, “try not to forgive him at your own expense.”

If nothing else, I hope that one thing that you can take from this is that, far from being crazy, you have very good, very smart, very reliable instincts, and that you can trust them.

And also, to add to what everyone else has said– you had me on the edge of my seat with my heart in my throat reading this. Powerful, vivid, and harrowing. What writing!

33. Elizabeth - June 20, 2008

sorry about the your/you’re thing. I started out saying one thing and changed to another, but crying on my keyboard didn’t help.

34. Joy Nash - June 20, 2008

Thinking of you…

35. Vish - June 20, 2008

😦

Had a sort of fling that I’ve given up on recently with the same policy. Really, it just hurts. Damn. Thinking of you (even if I only found your blog.)

36. Don't care - June 21, 2008

This has nothing to do with fat or with feminism. It has to do with you completely betraying your husband as a bad revenge against perceived injustices against you. Sure, he probably did cheat, and you probably will have to have a divorce; he did betray your trust (even when your guidelines were less than clear). You, however, treat his name and privacy like shit. Two wrongs don’t equal a right.

Honestly, he’d be better off without a harpy such as yourself. You’re just going to go through all his things forever whether he’s changed his ways or not. You have decided he does not deserve privacy. So, I’m thinking there is absolutely no way this is going to work out with him staying with you.

37. Bee - June 21, 2008

Oh shit.

I’m so sorry, phledge *hugs*

Besides, there’s nothing ‘European’ about cheating, be it ‘just’ sex or a relationship on the side. DADT sounds cool in theory but rarely works in reality, someone always gets hurt.

Hang in there, girl. You matter and we care.

38. nuckingfutz - June 21, 2008

Phledge, this:
One of the things I’m trying to avoid—and I wonder how well I’m doing it—is to place all the blame on him. Yes, it was his decision to engage in a physical and emotional affair, but our relationship has had some issues lately, or, well, forever, and we both should be held accountable for not addressing them properly.
is almost verbatim what I said when I was going through it. But just remember that HE made the choice to have the affair. Regardless of your marital problems, he had a choice. By all means, take some responsibility for the marital problems themselves, but DO NOT take on any of the blame for HIS choices.

There is a website that helped me when I was going through it:
http://survivinginfidelity.com/welcome.asp
It’s up to you whether or not you choose to go that route, but I thought I’d throw it out there for you. The people there helped me immensely (and it’s run by a couple that survived an affair themselves, which helped a lot in making me feel 1. that I wasn’t alone; and 2. like I had some hope).

Again, I send you virtual hugs. I wish it was more, though.

39. deeleigh - June 21, 2008

I’m so sorry this is happening to you. It sounds terrible, but you’ll get through it.

40. phledge - June 21, 2008

Don’t care:

Demonstrate to me where his name is. Cause it sure as shit ain’t “Mr Phledge.” And part of the agony of what I’m going through is that I violated that privacy. I recognize that this is an action for which I will reap unsavory rewards, but a) it beats sitting around speculating and b) it confirmed something that will hopefully lead to us finding greater happiness together. I do not absolve myself for it.

Is this the fruits of having some SASS fuckery slithering over here?

41. AnnieMcPhee - June 21, 2008

I might be the only one who doesn’t think you violated any “privacy.” Then again I really do think Every Breath You Take is a love song (my kind of love.)

As to airing his sins in public – fuck that, “don’t care.” We don’t know who she really is and who he is, and he was going about sharing the intimate details of his *married life* with some &%^$ on the side, which is a hell of a lot worse than spilling your guts anonymously online to people you don’t know and who don’t know the person you’re spilling it about. It’s sassholery in reverse – this is the NET, remember? It’s not REAL. ANYTHING GOES. Including airing his dirty laundry. What he did, in REAL life, spilling their secrets, was the real crime.

42. Fleurdenoir - June 21, 2008

phledge – as another member of the club no one wants to be in (the my husband cheated on me club – I will pray for you. Finding out about that was absolutely stomach turning sickening pain. Due to our circumstances (He was unwilling to stop, continued to lie to me, was putting my health in danger by not taking precautions.) I ended the marriage after trying couples counseling and beating myself up and crying every day for months.

This is NOT your fault. It’s just not. It’s not because of your body, please don’t think that for a second. When my ex cheated on me I was 5’4″ and weighed 105 pounds, for what that’s worth. He decided to do it, he decided to lie, it took me a long time to stop blaming myself and I really really hope that you don’t hurt yourself doing that. I really think he knew that what he was doing would hurt you and he chose it anyway. That’s not on you, it’s on him.

I wish you all the best, take care of yourself and if you have close friends or family that you trust let them take care of you too. Scream, cry, do whatever you need to do to cope, give yourself permission to be sad.

Please feel absolutely free to e-mail me if talking to a random person on the internet who has been there would help you in any way.

{{{phledge}}}

43. MayDarling - June 21, 2008

I’ve been a lurker for a while. De-lurking to comment.

Phledgy, it’s not your body.

It’s not your phenomenal spirit.

It is him.

When the subject of DADT was continually brought up, that was him letting you know in his own chickenshit way that yeah, he was cheating or was seriously thinking of it. Some men (my ex-fiance included) are just cheaters.

It wasn’t the Zoloft. It wasn’t the Wellbutrin.

It’s just him.

The flip comment about the face and stewing are really what tears it. I’ve heard that one before.

Stay strong. Thinking of you.

44. Becky - June 21, 2008

This has been said before but I think it bears repeating – no, you can’t place all the blame on him for your marital problems (and I don’t see you doing that), but you can and should blame him for the affair. He didn’t cheat because of your marital problems – he’d been pushing DADT since the start. He wanted to have his cake and eat it too.

You didn’t ask for advice so I sincerely apologize if this is out of line – but if you do decide to reconcile with him, make sure it’s on your own terms. If you decide you need monogamy to feel happy and secure, don’t settle for anything less. You deserve to be happy.

45. Katy - June 21, 2008

There is nothing clingy or dependent or unreasonable about wanting your husband to be faithful to you. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to have an open marriage if that’s what you want, I’m just saying that a just-for-two marriage isn’t wrong either.

Also, to paraphrase Bill Hicks: thin people get cheated on every day.

46. Stephanie - June 21, 2008

Like other commenters, I don’t know you except from comments on blogs, but I am thinking of you.

47. buffpuff - June 21, 2008

I’m sorry to hear this Phledge and I wish you all the very best.

48. peoplefrommypast - June 21, 2008

I know you don’t know me from Adam, but I’ve been lurking on and off and I felt I should comment here. This entry was so well-written and I feel for what you’re going through. I am sending all kinds of positive vibes your way.

49. Bekbek - June 21, 2008

You are not crazy. I would dump his butt like a leaky vial of anthrax. I don’t know you, I don’t comment here much (if ever) and I want to climb through the computer and kick him. I can see you trying to present him in a balanced light, but he sounds manipulative and self-serving. I hope you can find the best possible path for yourself out of this damaging situation.

50. criss - June 21, 2008

I think you’d be justified in blaming it all on him, seeing as how he’s the one who did it. I mean, sure, you could have possibly caught on the first time he tried to push DADT on you and settled the issue right then and there, one way or the other, but other than that, I fail to see how you could have prevented this by doing anything differently. HE is the one who cheated, and HE is the one who needs to be held accountable. Period.

Oh, and “still stewing” after ONE DAY? He’s lucky you’re a nicer person than I am–I would have strangled the fucker right then and there.

Good luck. Do what’s best for YOU.

51. bookwyrm - June 21, 2008

Funny, Phledge, you say you violated the agreement, but wasn’t part of what he agreed to that he feel some remorse? “Don’t ask, don’t tell” doesn’t cover “I’m going to do everything I can to torture you with this without actually admitting it.” All relationships are negotiable, simply because no one can guarantee that they will stay in stasis from the time they are married until the time they keel over. You were entirely right to tell him when you didn’t think you could take the rule, and you should have told him the first time you started questioning it. Telling you that he had told her about a conversation that you both should have had to agree to go public with as it happened within the confines of your marriage relationship and was about that marriage relationship, was an act of disrespect. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is not permission for him to make sure that the lady is simply the only one who doesn’t know and only because she’s too proud to ask any of the other people who do know. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” puts the burden of discretion completely on him. It becomes his responsibility to make sure you aren’t burdened with the information. He chose to be sloppy enough for you to figure it out all on your own, and blame you for his own stupidity.

I have no objection to the “open marriage.” Just, in my little world (where I guess you could say I have one) open means talking and communicating. My husband and I specifically agreed that married didn’t equal buried and it was nearly impossible that we’d manage to go through life completely unattracted to anyone else ever again. We agreed to talk about it, we agreed that sex with someone else wasn’t necessarily off limits, and we agreed that lying about it still counted as cheating. Repeat that last part: lying is still cheating. If you’re going to have sex with someone else, I damn well deserve to know that another person and another potential for disease and pregnancy has entered our relationship. And all involved deserve to know that HERE is where the marriage is, and NO you don’t have a chance to break that up. That said, we’ve never actually had to test the theory as you have, so it may not hold up under pressure.

52. em - June 21, 2008

maydarling – It’s possible (to devil’s advocate) that he honestly thought he was asking for and receiving permission to screw around. Supposedly there are couples who have a DADT setup and are content with that. I don’t think it’s a good idea, even for openly non-monogamous people, but some people do it.

This guy knew from the beginning he could not be monogamous. It had nothing to do with what you look like, he’s just a cheating sort of guy.

The ‘best’ thing to do might have been to recognise that he wasn’t just kidding around and not to have ‘agreed’ to it, but nobody wants to overreact and start a huge fight over something their spouse may only have been joking about….

53. phledge - June 21, 2008

em, great points. I had a great talk with someone who knows Mr Phledge very well, and we figured out that my interpretation of what was covered under this policy (snort, it sounds like insurance) was very different from what he thought was covered. So chalk one up to our horrible communications—one more reason to hit the counsellor’s couch.

54. fatgirlonadate - June 21, 2008

Phledge, I’ve been thinking about you all day. I have some more thoughts. Please feel free to ignore!

– The line of yours that I keep coming back to is this: “I lose all composure knowing that this person has a window into my intimate life…” I know how this feels. It was, for me, absolutely the worst part. My situation was a little different – he didn’t cheat on me, he decided to get back together with an ex – but this feeling was the same. He called me. She was at his house. She’d convinced him to give them another try. He said something like “She knows I’m calling you, and she knows that I’m really torn up about it.” He was trying to make me feel better – feel like it was hard for him to leave me. It had the opposite effect. I didn’t want to know about him and her talking about him and me. That’s what’s unforgivable, to me, the tucking her in between you and him.

– In another disastrous breakup – this one with a friend, not a partner, and it was by far the most painful and important b reakup I’ve ever had – I worked hard to remember the blame I carried. I told myself, and others, over and over again that although she did the things that ended the friendship, I too was culpable. I did terrible things to her. I deserved some of what she did to me. But the thing is? Even relationships that work have those bits of blame tucked into them. We all do bad things all the time. But some things are shameful, not just irritating or thoughtless or foolish.

– I’ve always believed in the idea that I wouldn’t want to know if a partner cheated; that telling me would transfer the pain from him to me. But that’s different from Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. It sounds like you started with what I’m talking about: ““No, but if I did I wouldn’t admit to it. I’d rather bear the burden of guilt than hurt someone intentionally with information that they didn’t need to hear.” but somewhere along the way it turned into “I can do it as long as I don’t tell you about it.” That’s not fair. That’s changing the rules without renegotiating with you. No wonder you found yourself less and less comfortable with it.

Enough already. Love and prayers.

55. fatgirlonadate - June 21, 2008

err… by “enough already” I mean “I’ve said enough”

56. littlem - June 22, 2008

“He was unwilling to stop, continued to lie to me, was putting my health in danger by not taking precautions.”

I didn’t go through it, but someone very very close to me did.

IMO DADT s*cks.

You are not crazy.

Clearly we care and will pray.

(P.S. I would vet the marriage counselor really well. When I first started going to counseling I thought that by virtue of their training and integrity counselors had no biases and wanted the best for their clients. Mmmm hmmm. If they’re good, they still want whatever they think the best thing is for their clients. You want to make sure you know what that is, and that you – as a person, and as a couple if you decide to stay one – agree.)

((((phledge))))

57. mccn - June 23, 2008

Me, too, in terms of support – and, in addition to the “don’t feel guilty – he has responsibility for his actions” above, which I heartily endorse, I also say – don’t feel guilty either, if you can help it, because of the previous DADT policy. It’s not required of human beings that we don’t change our minds, that we stay perfectly consistent – and if something becomes not OK, then it is right and good to say so. So, even if this situation arose in part because you needed to say “no” when before you said “yes” – THAT IS OKAY AND GOOD AND RIGHT too, and nothing to feel guilty about. What is right for you now, that is the key. My best best wishes.

58. spacedcowgirl - June 28, 2008

I am so, so sorry that he did this to you. You are in my thoughts.

59. Bri - July 18, 2008

Oh this makes me heart ache and brings the memories back with glaring clarity. I wish you didn’t have to go through this honey. And even in your pain, you write so beautifully, so exquisitely. Much with the hugs.

60. Princess - August 19, 2008

(((((HUGS))))) You’re husbands not cheating because of how you look. He’s cheating because he’s an asshole.
My husband cheated on me for almost our entire 7year marriage. I blamed myself the whole time and even now that my brain fully realizes it’s not my fault, but heart can’t always see it.
Honestly though, when that biotch called during dinner I think I would have hit him with the phone.


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