He (or she) says you’re over-reacting and nuts for worrying but you still can’t seem to relax and trust.Even if your partner isn’t actually “doing” anything, you just can’t seem to shake the fear that it will happen again.Here’s a question from a woman whose situation may seem very familiar to you…
***QUESTION FROM A READER:
“Two years ago my husband had an affair. We’ve worked through it and the healing was happening. I found it hard to trust him again and I have been dealing with it. My biggest question is…Why does he still keep so close to his ex girlfriends, even in compromising situations? He keeps saying he loves me etc, which I am trying to believe, yet he refuses to let go of them.”I always had my doubts about his closeness with his girlfriends because they were of a ‘wanting him’ nature but he always denies any such thing. I believed to a point, but when I recently discovered he was sending a particular one email articles suggesting both of them experience sexual intimacy, and she inviting him to, I nearly died all over.
“When I asked him about it, he said it was nothing really. After acknowledging it was wrong, he emailed her and apologized for sending her such an article, and copied me into it. I responded, quite sanely, expressing my appreciation for his stand and honoring our love and union for 21 years. She has not responded but both have kept up correspondence via instant messenger, in case I see the email.
“All the feelings of the past kept tumbling down on me and he thinks I am overacting. What do I do?”
Thanks so much for your question and for sharing your story with us. Unfortunately, we hear something like this from many people who are in similar situations.
First of all, you say that you’ve worked through the fact that your husband had an affair and the healing was happening.
We would invite you to look honestly at your situation. While you may have felt more ease and healing around this topic, the fact that he’s still in contact with his previous partners has to keep the possibility that it can happen again foremost in your mind.
So you HAVEN’T worked through it.
And we certainly can’t say we blame you at all–and we’re certainly NOT faulting you in saying this.
It’s just important to call is as we see it–and this is a wound that keeps being opened again and again every time new “evidence” like the suggestive email to his ex pops up. While he may have stopped the affair from two years ago, his conduct would certainly suggest to most people that he’s looking elsewhere for something–sex, attention, friendship–other that your relationship.
And building trust isn’t possible while this sort of thing is going on.
Even though he might say you are over-reacting to this latest situation, we’re guessing that he isn’t being completely honest with himself as to his motivations for doing what he does.
With that being said, we invite you to be honest with yourself.
While you certainly handled the suggestive email situation with him quite “sanely” as you said, you were probably pretty angry and hurt. You’re also probably now extremely frustrated and upset that he’s just choosing another way to connect with her since he got “caught” using email.
So for the moment, forget being “sane” and give yourself permission to write down what you are feeling.
Give yourself permission to be very honest with yourself.
You asked–“Why does he still keep so close to his ex girlfriends, even in compromising situations?”
While we can’t really be sure what’s really going on in your particular situation, here’s a take on it that might hold some element of truth for you…
In his book Never Satisfied: How & Why Men Cheat, Michael Baisden says that most men keep love and sex separate–and if a man can’t get both, he’ll get both somewhere.
While we certainly know many, many men who do not fit this profile, we can say that from our own research, some men definitely go through their lives living in this way–to the frustration of their loved ones.
If you doubt what we’re saying, just look at the high profile men like John Edwards who have been caught cheating in the last few months. They wanted to keep their marriages but still have another relationship on the side for sex–and maybe for other reasons as well.
So when the guy who cheats or has cheated says he loves you, he may be able to really believe that because he has segmented his life in such a way that it’s true for him.
So where does that leave the partner who is trying to learn to trust him again?
It leaves her frustrated because she may want to believe him and open to him but she keeps getting hurt–so she opens to him less and less–and he may seek the attentions of other women more and more.
How do you get out of this vicious cycle?
Unfortunately there’s no real graceful way to do it but there is a way that requires some courage…
You can look at your situation as it is and be honest with yourself–as we said before. You can accept that he may truly love you in his mind but you have to feel within yourself if that’s the way that you want to be loved–or not.
We certainly realize that you’ve been with your husband for many years and you don’t want to end your marriage. You probably fear that if you set a boundary– if you tell him that he has to choose–you or his ex’s–that he’ll leave the marriage and choose them.
And you may be right…
But if you want things to change, you may need to tell him what love means to you and what you want for your relationship. If you haven’t done that, write down your ideas right now–and make sure that you keep with what you want rather than what you don’t want.
Also, write down how you are willing to love him if the two of you truly commit to each other.
Chances are when you were dealing with his affair two years ago, you didn’t go this route in learning how to regain trust with each other and you didn’t agree on what would make him trustable again.
If you want proven steps in rebuilding trust after an affair, go to http://www.relationshipgold.com/relationships-trust-turnaround