My question is on forgiveness and learning to trust again. When I found out my husband was having online chats with a woman because of issues we were having (and I own my part!) and was able to see ALL messages, it really did destroy me and the person I thought he was. This was a man I never doubted in our 24 years together, people always told us how well we seemed suited, etc. They never sexted or even had video calls , just emotional. He was getting ready (he says) to tell me he wanted out. Here comes the funny, not really, part; she was a catfish and with tech help I uncovered all her alts, like 6-7. When I proved what she was, he said he figured it out half way through.? So, to not make this a book, he deleted and blocked her, closed his secret email acct, and gave me access to cell and all passwords. He is trying so , but I go from sad to pissed constantly, I keep seeing the words he said to her. Now I have to learn to trust him again. It sucks.
Trust is ambiguous. Forgiveness is just accepting we all fail the ones we love more often than not. I was thrown into turmoil through infidelity because I believed my wife was a better person than I. I too, accept my part. I stayed with her, suffered for it but her death six years later gave back my freedom. I would repeat my actions because that is who we are. Deniers. Liars. Make believers. Refuse to see what logic tells us. I didn't choose to forgive her I chose to love her. To forgive/trust again is not possible. Decide to love or hate and follow that path. Both paths are painful.
Glad to know you’ll be entering counseling. I hope you’ll mention to the therapist that your daughter helped you with the detective work. It made her your ally against her father, and that’s unhealthy boundary crossing, IMHO. There will be healing to address there, also. Best wishes to you and your family.
Backing up the wagon and looking at from HIS viewpoint -- and the experience of being "there" myself.
this happened apparently at around his mid 40's more or less -- other than puberty - welcome to a mans most vulnerable point in life -- an old self help book "Passages" (Gale Sheedy, or Sheeney ?) describes 7 or so clearly predictable crisis points in our lives -- thankfully I read this book before I turned 40, so I knew that when in my 40's, I was going to change. It's not a joke - a guy turns 40, leaves his wife and buys a motorcycle... (I just bought the bike!).. This is nearing his peak stress, at work, at home (you are changing from that sweet young thing he married too!) -- and don't forget the impact of the kids, concerns w/ money, status, doubts about "making it", lowering of libido etc. -- I'm surprised any marriage lasts pasts age 40. Yeah, it will never be the same as before - but why should it be? - our bodies and situations change, our marriages have to adapt to this too.
so, he chatted w/ someone and confessed his fears, doubts, worries - good for him, he's human. It sure beats swallowing the barrel of a shotgun like far too many have done.
you are hurt because it wasn't w/ you -- and worse, it was w/ a troll. Would it have mattered if it were w/ a licensed therapist? or a sex worker at the local bordello, a priest, a buddy at a local pub, or a childhood friend? He just needed to get his mental act together at a vulnerable time - and frankly ones spouse often isn't the most available, understanding and open minded, empathetic person around. Yes, that dig is for both parties in a marriage.
Let's get real here - he didn't bone an intern, gamble away the family fortune, get a sex change, quit his job and become a preacher -- he just confided w/ an anonymous person who knew how to respond to a person in pain.
I was married to the same woman for nearly 50 years - basically 3 women in one - I wonder now whether both of us would have been better off had we bailed at 40 and found new spouses who fit our new outlooks better. People change, we have to accept that, adapt to the changes - or move on to another. It would seem his crisis is over and he's willing to accept you as you are - be thankful and let it go if you wish to stay w/ him.
"He was getting ready to tell me he wanted out." This seems to be a key clue to his situation. Communication is so important. That you (both of you) had not been engaged in "communication" is, I believe, one of the primary indicators of where your relationship was. The next question is - can the situation be reversed (which depends on each of you wanting it to, or, at least, wanting to try)? So, why did he want out? Seems that one of the necessities is that he wanted someone to listen to his perceived problems - and he went to her because he didn't seem to be able to go to you. So, have you guys stopped having fun in your everyday life with each other? I'm sorry that I don't have any suggestions to make any of your problems right - just questions - but important questions to ponder.
I second the vote for counseling. There are also a couple of books which might be helpful: The State of Affairs by Esther Perel (about extramarital affairs), and Love Sense by Susan Johnson (a book about love and how it works).
Since trust is a huge part of a relationship and of love, betrayal cuts to the core. Yet it is sometimes possible to understand what happened as less of a betrayal than it seemed at first, if you can expand your understanding and compassion for your partner. That's not absolving him. He screwed up for sure. But then again, nobody is perfect.
I also affirm what others have said about having compassion for yourself, if it turns out that forgiveness is a burden that's too hard to bear. Everyone has limitations, and that is OK also.
If you choose to stay, you have to put it behind you and move forward. A relationship will not thrive with distrust and/or bitterness. There is nothing wrong with being honest and admitting you are not able to move past it. If this is the case, own it and let go. But if you stay, you have to let it go. You cannot harp on it to him or even to yourself. It will eat you both alive.
You have to make a conscious decision to forgive.Otherwise you will grind him down and eventually you will despise him,not for cheating but for being a shadow of who he once was.It would be more humane to dump him than to use him for a punching bag.This is strictly my opinion but it is based on a 48 year relationship.
That sounds horrible, man. I can't imagine the pain you're feeling, but he is trying, right? There's no guaruntee that he won't go back to the internet when you're having problems, and to me, he sounds like he maybe doesn't care as much as you. Just know that after you've been together for 24yrs, you will always be apart of each other, and that it's okay to let this relationship go if you guys aren't working together anymore. <3 Sending you lots of love and hoping that things work out between you.
A couple of things to think about maybe, and I am not judging or even really commenting.
When you found the messages, did you read them?
When he could easily have deleted all the conversations, did he leave them where you could find them?
Did he want to get caught?
Did you feel his privacy was not worth respecting?
do you think he needed to vent to a third party, even knowing it was a catfish?
did you feel the need to prove this person a catfish, for you? For Him? or for some other reason?
And finally is trust something to be learned? Trust is like love you either do or you don't?
Perhaps you both need to seek professional counseling.