Thank you all for the many comments of concern and support. It has helped me a lot in moving forward to deal with my husband’s unacceptable behavior. It is wonderful to count you all as my friends.
I fear, though, that I have made Daniel seem like a monster. The few of you who know my husband and me and our relationship did not question his behavior or my reaction, but it is a reasonable question. Like Roller Coaster Rider says, it can often be that way in the aftermath of an affair. That post was written in the heat of anger with venom dripping all over my heart. It was all true, but was it just a snapshot of the complicated man who is my husband Daniel. He is very much like an onion, with layer upon layer that needs to be peeled back to understand who he truly is. Let me explain.
He was raised by an emotionally abusive and controlling mother. She wasn’t an evil woman. She just used guilt and emotional blackmail as her means of control and discipline. It warped all of her children. Not one of them has escaped dysfunctional relationships. I thought Daniel was the exception, but he has issues, too – infidelity being the top of the list.
We went through a rough time just before I got pregnant with our first child. I almost left. He was turning into his mother. My decision to leave got his attention. We got help and he got better.
During his affair, he turned into his mother again. I think he subconsciously didn’t know how else to cope and so he resorted to the behaviors he knew as a child. I almost left again. I stayed because I thought he was clinically depressed and needed psychiatric help. I was not going to leave when he needed help. When he decided he needed to end the affair, before I even knew about it, he slowly returned to normal.
Today, Daniel is a wonderful husband as long as there is no mention of his affair. When he left on his current business trip, his parting words were, “Don’t worry, Honey. I will call you every step of the way.” And he has. He texted me from the airport. He texted me after he boarded, just before he turned his phone off. He texted me as soon as he turned it on again when he landed. It has been like that so far. So last night when he called to say good night, I thanked him. I told him that his texts and calls put me at ease and I thought I would be able to sleep well. He almost cried. He got all choked up and he said, “I’m glad. That makes me happy.” Then I got all choked up, too, and we could barely get our I love yous and goodbyes out of our throats.
He cooked up a storm before he left so that I would have good meals while he’s gone. I do about half the cooking when we’re together, but he knows I won’t bother to cook when I’m alone. So he cooked for me. He cleaned my car and filled the gas. He swept the floor and took out the trash and paid the bills. He checked my wallet and put some extra cash in it. Etc etc. Such a sweetie…
Some of those acts of service were an apology for the way he talked to me. He does not usually resort to emotionally abusive behavior anymore – it has only been since Dday when he feels backed into a corner and out of options, and even that does not always happen. I usually back off, but I don’t buy into it. I bring it up again when he is calm, which I did and we hashed it out. He knows he screwed up. I am not a victim here. He knows it’s unacceptable and it happens less and less often as we get farther away from the hell of his affair.
I say that I am not a victim here because I do not walk on eggshells around him. In fact, I purposely provoke him sometimes. My children and even Coach James all cringe when I do that, but I do it anyway. I am not nervous, afraid, or worried about his opinions and his actions. If I don’t like it, I tell him. We fight and he usually realizes that he is using his mother’s tactics again and we make up. It does not happen often. More often, we fight because I bring something up and push the issue. Am I emotionally abusive? Haha. Well, I can be passive-aggressive sometimes, but I am pretty self-aware most of the time.
Here is what Coach James said when I mentioned emotional abuse:
“It is a very strange dynamic [between you and Daniel]. You are so strong it is as if you allow Daniel his notion of power and control — but you know it is only because you allow it. Then he cheated and couldn’t find the humble road home. And now everything is all jacked up. The tension that made things exciting now just makes it hard.”
Why do I even bother to work through his behaviors with him? Why am I here? I was reminded of the answer by Leise, a blogger and writer who commented on my last post. She suffered through her husband’s infidelity and is now working on a book about it. She said she saw her husband as a four-year old boy, who was scared and alone in the face of his brother’s abuse. She saw that he wasn’t bad. He was human. He loved her. He wanted to stay.
Every so often, I see the little boy in my husband, too. A boy who wants to be loved and wants to be accepted, who struggled all through his growing years, and was never allowed to have the assurance that he was loved and accepted by his own mother. It’s not an excuse for his current behaviors, but it gives me understanding. And I do see that he is remorseful and he wants to be a good husband. There are still problems but it is worth it to stay and try. I love him, after all, and I am strong enough to see it through.