The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Monday, July 9, 2007

On Saturday Husband and I had an amazing session with our joint therapist. Husband talked about realizing how much he missed his mother after she moved out when he was in 4th grade - something he's just consciously realized over the past week. And also his sadness around not getting any support for his pain and loss at the time. Having our son really brought this home for him - thinking of our little boy crying with nobody there to comfort him.

The other thing was that she helped me realize the role I play in my husband's life. He has the primary place of importance in my life. He is the focus of my attention, along with my son. I am the focus of his attention in the same way. I am or have been also the centeral focus of the attentions of many other significant people in my life. As an only child with loving parents, I am/was the focus for my mom and dad. And I was an only grandchild to my mother's parents for 8 years, and on my father's side until I was in highschool. Not to mention I have two close friends who are basically my sisters, and several other close friends with whom I share intimate emotional relationships. My husband does not have this experience. Truth aside, his experience is that I am the only person in his life for whom he is the main focus of love, attention, need, etc. Which makes some of the things I do or say to him much more significant than either of us realized.

As we talked about this, it helped both of us understand some of the dynamics between us - why I may not listen to/hear something that's important to him, why he might react very strongly to something that I didn't anticipate as being so significant (and then not tell me about it, because his experience has also been that nobody will be there to help him with his feelings and he'll have to handle that alone.) I also began to accept in some deeper, more fundamental way how much my husband really does love me. My own issues have kept me from accepting that fully, despite our years together. Probably because some of my formative experiences with my dad left me feeling that people who say they love you will leave/hurt/betray you anyway - or in other words that I will never be enough to hold on to someone's love/support/presence in my life. That is one of my primary experiences with men.

Right before we left, she gave us a Mad Lib which we're to use to communicate our feelings: When you (action) I feel (emotion: sad, glad, mad, afraid, ashamed) and what I make up about that is (catastrophe.)

So that whole session was an amazing opening for both of us.

We went to grab a bite to eat together, and had great conversation about the things we'd learned.

Last night, we were watching TV together with my mom. The actress Lisa Rinna appeared in a bikini, and my husband said something along the lines of "Look at Lisa Rinna's ass. She's 46 years old and she looks like that. Isn't that unbelieveable." My heart began to pound. I didn't know what to say, so I just said "I don't know." What I did know is that at 43, I don't look like that, and never have. And that all the 20-30 women he's had sex or sexual activity with over the past 5 or more years have all probably looked something like that. I couldn't speak, and was feeling sick. I had to get out of there so I got up as unobtrusively as I could (although I think I jumped up) and went to brush my teeth and get ready for bed. Husband followed, and asked if everything was okay. He said that he realized he might have hurt my feelings, and was very sorry. We ended up talking about it in bed. I was pissed off at his callousness, and scared at being compared to these women because I don't reach that level of physical perfection. As we talked, I realized that he'd said "Look at Lisa Rinna's abs" and not "ass." That helped me feel calmer, although it was still painful to be reminded about how my body is not like that and how all the prostitutes probably did look like that. With Husband's encouragement, I tried to use the Mad Lib our therapist gave us: When you admire other women's bodies, I feel scared, angry, and ashamed. What I make up about that is that I'll never be able to compete with the physical perfection of the other women you've been with (and sought out after being with me,) that you don't understand the depth of pain I feel if you can talk like that to/in front of me. And that I'm not good enough.

Husband was deeply sorry that he'd hurt me, and said he didn't mean anything sexual by his comment. I think he said something about thinking about how in shape she is compared to how in/out of shape he himself is. Anyway, the jist of the conversation was that he apologized, and expressed how much he loves and appreciates me, and how attractive he finds me, and how sorry he was to have said something that hurt me. We ended up making love, and even had some comic relief at the end. It was another amazing experience - one of being able to be vulnerable and not reactive with each other. Of listening and sharing feelings. We are making progress in using the new tools we're learning. It's still very scary, because I'm so afraid of the part of him that keeps his real feelings secret. But trust will build over time - for both of us.

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