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Sorry for your struggle in your marriage. I think you said it perfectly "fantasy".
I am glad to hear you are getting your own individual counseling. EMDR is effective treatment for trauma.
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This will take time, for sure. He got a bit over his head with emotions for this girl it sounds like.
Through his own individual therapy he can determine what drove him to this- underlying issues.
Something like this is not only a fantasy but a form of numbing, avoiding other things.
It can become sort of a high, avoidance,
Yes - the hardest thing for me is that he has been in therapy for three months - I"m not sure what he is doing because he says he hasn't told him anything about his mom, siblings (all suffered from his mom's criticism).
Not knowing if he's really dealing with this, mystery what is happening for him in therapy.
Plus he has never had a satisfying career. I ended up working full time our whole lives and I didn't want to - we have three kids - I ended up with a successfull career until about 7 years ago when I lost a well paying job. He stayed home with the kids for 10 years - he is an attorney. He always wanted to work in politics. This girl is a political science major and has organized major campaigns at a large university campus already - at age 19 - and is already a Congressional intern.
It is a good sign that he has been sticking with it. It may take more time for him to feel safe to share the deep, personal stuff, such as family/mom stuff.
He was giving her law school advice - but seriously - emailed daily for almost two months -more than once a day - lengthy letters. He flattered her and she back. I stumbled upon them. This
This has been hard on me.h
This girl you refer to was a diversion for him. Yikes, that must have been upsetting to stumble upon that.
Very hard for sure!
Hits you hard, like getting hit, or worse.
Yes - and she is at our church - a small personal church and a daughter/friend within our circle of friends. All of this is a secret and that is so hard for me.
He served on a church committee with her - that is where he started flirting.
I see why you are getting the emdr- very traumatic for you- I'm sorry for that.
So we still go. But now I have had it - we don't go at holidays where I know she will be there. I ask him to leave the church when she shows up.
I just don't know how long to deal with this. 32 years of marriage. Our three kids live with us - youngest is 18 year old daughter.
He was being very self centered- did not consider the long term of this. It may be necessary to leave that church in order to repair the damage that has been done. Going to that church only re traumatizes you.
Those are difficult things to consider- how long to "deal with this".
He is very affectionate and very sorry - and says he is "working" on his feelings and they ahve changed - but I suspect he still would love to talk with her. The pastor agrees with you. I am getting to that place. But he believes he would lose all his friends and he doesn't want to do that. Because all of those friends think of her as one of the "church daughters" - the teens that everyone is friends with, mature for her age, etc.
How is the couples therapy going? He will need to make sacrafices too- not just you.
Furthermore, he sent her an email saying he had to end all electronic communication with her - because he found he was investing too much time and emotion in their relationship and needed to focus on his marriage - this sent to an 18 year old.
I am stymied as to what sacrifices to ask of himi.
Leave his friends, well, if it means healing for you!! Yikes, slippery slope to be messing with somone so young. She's barely an adult. Sacrifices such as leaving the church, maybe.
I would also lose my church - he has few to no male friends outside of it. And his work is contract work - nobody there is as old as he, and he has been looking for a full time job for seven years - one interview.
what do you think of keeping everything a secret?
If it's too difficult for you to continue there. I see- you are quite connected to your church and friends- you would lose there.
Secrets are rarely good.
Who is it kept secret from?
I would imagine this makes you question a lot, so many years with this man, such a shock, so much hurt.
The secret of the emotional affair. We pretend as though nothing has happened at the church yet my heart aches when I see her. I have protected him a long time. This is part of the problem. Before we were married I became pregnant - after dating 1-1/2 years. He said he would marry me. And then a couple of weeks later said he could not - would not be there for me. I was alone, and scared at age 23. He offered to pay for the abortion - I had it. And then...I went back to hiim. and gave him the deadline of the end of the year to propose. He proposed on December 31st. This is 33 years ago. But I have always felt like I backed him into it although he says he was just uncertain.
The life long struggle without being able to support his family and knowing how sad I was that I had to work full time and not stay home - he felt like a failure all the time.
Do you question his committment to the marriage? It is difficult to pretend- hold on to so much pain.
If you both can work through this your marriage could be stronger- but it is hard work for sure.
He wants to stay married - says that I need to be patient . He is attentive and is affectionate - yet misses making me smile.
You are the one left with the hurt.
I am in pain - I have tried to leave a few times. But the kids who do not know what happened just think I am a nervous wreck.
He simply says he will give her up. It is not easy for you to work through this- in secret- so isolated from loved ones.
You sound like you question if you can forgive, or if he will committ to the marriage and the hard work. He becomes weak when it comes to "her".
Part of me wonders - why doesn't he get it? He thinks I should know that his feelings have changed for the girl but he says he can't just not care about what she does. That is why he kept looking up her activities on the internet. She was doing all the stuff he wanted to do. Living through her still.
That is why I wonder about the "secret" He says I just want to punish and ostracize him by telling friends - that I want to drive his friends away.
Yes I am angry. I just want him to stop fantasizing.
I think you are right on- it is feeling inadequate, low self worth- a young girl can boost that (for a minute)- but than becomes part of the problem- complicates things. He needs to committ to zero contact- an emotional affair can be more damaging than a sexual affair.
You have every right to feel angry, resentful, hurt..sad. There are so many layers of emotions with this.
I have asked for that - he defines zero contact as not talking with her or emailing her. I define it as never seeing her again anywhere - avoiding her on paper, electronically and in person.
Part of me wants to punish him - I can't lie about that. I don't think he has paid any price - he says he paid the price of me being hurt and losing my trust.
She continues to be an escape for him- watching her on the internet- what she is up to. I agree with what you describe as no contact. Time spent thinking about her takes him away from the marriage- escapes.
Allow some time with this- it is okay for you to request the no contact- does not seem like too much to ask considering what has happended. Another option would be to "let go" allow him to make those choices, while you focus on healing and taking care of yourself.
To him the worst possible thing in the world is embarrassment. If he associates pleasure with watching her activities and interests etc. - that is a problem for me. In the meantime he doesn't know where our daughter is at 10PM - but in one of his emails to her he had admonished her for walking on campus along after class at night and was telling her to be careful.
The girl is looking for a father. I'm sure there's a story there too.
How do I take care of myself - I am taking care of everything but I haven't been working very well. I am a remote employee and to me I have been very messed up.
Therapy is a great support, having others you can talk to- is there anyone who you are able to talk to besides the therapist about this?
OMG - you pegged it without meeting her - this is exactly what my therapist said after knowing a lot more detail. I had told that to my husband - and he said, "Well I don't know her issues or anything about her that well." Why would she be looking for a father - I didn't quite get that. Her dad is working a lot - he never came to church. Her mother is a big time executive but close to her and her brother. But I never saw the dad.
I would love to tell my friend - but she is married to one of my husband's few friends (of course my husband hasn't told a soul about any of this - or that we are in therapy - nothing about it). This would be a total shock and she would be furious at him - she knows the girl too!
A "father" she may not of had, someone who accepts her unconditionally, she gets "approval" from your husband- something she may never was able to achieve with her own father.
Seeking somone to tell her she's "good enough"- something a girl strives to achieve with her own father.
She gets approval from everyone she meets - she is one of these people who get scholarships to honors programs, congressional internships, and is driven. I wonder if her dad paid any attention.
Exactly- attention was on what she "did" verses her as a daughter.
Meanwhile my husband doesn't know much about my daughter's interests - and they are not anything like his, so he is less interested. His mother was like that - even if her grandchildren were in sports, since she did'nt like sports she didn't ask about them. Only if they were in music - or if they were getting honors. A piece of work.
The only difference between my husband and this girl - besides 40 years - is that she was achieving - and he did not.
Sad to see he is missing out on a closer relationship with his own daughter- that hurts to consider that in this situation.
Interesting that he is drawn to such a high achiever when he isn't so much. It also can be a good ole fashion mid life crisis!!
I know - I have told him that too. I suggested he take her to lunch on weekends - just doesn't get around to it. He has been focused on his career - or lack thereof - for almost seven years now - actually closer to eight. No success at all. I have tried to change jobs but I would have to move.
You've worked hard to hold the family together- resentment there too, I would imagine.
So does the shock of friends and family finding out something you are ashamed of help knock these fantasies out of their heads? When the cold reality sets in? The only time he got serious is when I got in the car with a suitcase in November.
Yes, reality sets in, when there are more potential consequences- he may have to "feel" a bit more discomfort to "get it".
While he was on the internet writing lengthy letters to her (which I have never received - full of questions, etc.) - I was paying the bills, dealing with school issues and ferrying kids places. He was "looking for a better job" so I had left him alone - knowing he didn't feel very good about himself.
That you are not able to tell others- tells you a lot- he knows this is wrong.
So how does that play out - in your opinion - if a friend or two of his actually found out
He says I want to destroy the marriage by telling people - that he would be forced to move out of town.
Letting the secret out would have a whole set of consequences- friends, family, church- a big bomb.
It sounds like you want him to feel a bit of the hurt you have felt, continue to feel- do not blame you for that one.
I know. To me the big bomb was a year ago January, when during a heated discussion, he said, "Leave it to me to fall in love with someone who didn't love me back," and he was referring to her. He said he was "infatuated" and "smitten" with her. He says those feelings are over now - but he still is interested in their "common interests".
Have you had opportunities to tell him how you really feel about this? A young girl is like a trophy - something a man "accomplishes" sometimes.
I have told exactly four people - and he knows who they are. Two are out of town, two are in town. Neither of them has told anyone else - one has not told her husband, who is a friend of his - and a friend of this girl's because she and their son are good friends - he speaks of her as a daughter.
When I read the notes to my friend she said they sounded like they were out of a Jane Austen novel - on both sides. They were not romantic but they were definitely flirting and flattering. The last one - when I discovered it - included something about "boundaries". He swears that nothing would have happened. But I have two girlfriends who became enmeshed in relationships with professors who were much older in college. It was flattering to them.
I haven't talked with my friends for some time. They were disappointed last fall when they heard I foiund out that he was following her ont he internet. Two of them said I should leave him then and let him figure it out. We aren't made of money - so I did not.
A man gets affirmation of some sort with a young girl. "I am a desirable man that she fell for me" sort of thing. You need support for yourself-and that means talking to some people. It was a slippery slope to something more happening.
In as far as a "trophy" - I don't want to build him up on this issue.
It's all superficial- nothing much deeper than that.
I found the emails four days before a birthday party for an older church member - they emailed back and forth and made sure they were going to be there at the same time. I didn't say anything yet - but observed. They sat across from me and he talked with her for about an hour - never looking away. And at the end he said he would have to come over to campus and meet her for coffee - a date , across from his wife! Yep - so in the car I confronted hiim. That was October 2011.
A fantasy - not reality- reality eventually sets in- such as now- feels the consequences of his actions. Has been going on a long time- yikes- I see what you mean by emotional affair. An emotional affair- he was not available to you or the marriage- so focused on her.
Here is what bothers me. I can't control much - I can't control who he looks up on the internet at work - although he says he isn't. I can't control if she shows up at church - but he can leave. But how long do I continue that? And I can't control how he fantasizes about her - he says he doesn't but I never know when I can believe him. He says nice things to me, is affectionate, etc. But if it has shrunk it has not gone away - it is like a tumor.
If it is a problem it will continue- it will show its self- it does involve waiting, watching, but also he needs to show he is committed.
So either I have to accept that maybe it will go away - -- which I had thought last summer but then I discovered the internet searching had never stopped.
Walking away would feel empowering wouldn't it- so much more complicated than that. He needs to honor your wishes in this- the no contact- to show he is working on this.
I don't know how to feel confident about him. I just feel hurt and in the meantime - quite frankly - it is difficult for me to enjoy sex. I love being close to him and it is not technique - it is not trusting him or what is going on in his mind. I just don't know what to believe - and when you believe you have been supplanted it is hard to relax and feel safe.
So I suppose I could say - we can stay at the church but you will not know who knows about this. Or just not tell him if I do tell my friend.
Sounds like she's still in his head- ongoing contact continues to damage the marriage- hurts you!! Yes- hard to feel safe- that has been uprooted for you. Seems reasonable- stay at the church if you feel safe and supported- that's most important.
Ongoing contact - you mean by seeing her in the college newspaper or news articles?
...and I could just not tell him that I talked to my friend. If she tells her husband that is her business - it is very difficult to tell people to not tell their spouses things.
You need to have people to talk to whoever that may be- support, support for you is vital. Following her on line is sort of being in contact with her- he needs to kick her like a bad habit- it is addictive in nature. With addiction, he will need to decide it is a problem in order to fix a problem.
The pastor has told us - last fall - that she didn't think that I could feel safe at her church. She says she would never tell people to leave her church, but she said that we needed a break. We took one after Christmas - when I knew that the girl was going to be there over college break. But then I keep having to avoid it on major holidays. This is getting messy - we are in a very small choir that performs - so it is very very complicated.
Oh you are right on the point. Our couples therapist called it an addiction and my husband refused to believe it. Found a therapist who just said he seems to have dysthymia - so he liked that fellow.
He literally got high from the EA.
He is on antidepressants - has been for over a year. As am I.
Yes, you need to talk to your friends- what follows is his to "cover up". It's difficult because it sounds like you are left holding the bag and the mess!! Find the counselor who tells us what we want to hear:) You do what you have to- to get through this, to cope, to heal...
But unless I up my dosage to the comatose range this is getting unbearable for me - just to not know. How will I know when he is saying he isn't looking her up - he says he is not but now I don't know. How do you prove a negative?
That's where you are left feeling powerless- similar to the spouse whose husband drinks too much- such a focus on what he is or isn't doing. Somehow have to just focus on taking care of you- he will have to decide it's a problem- but yes- like you said how much can you take- how long to wait...
One more question - originally the pastor was going to talk with the girl to let her know what was going on. Seriously I think she was not "into" my husband to begin with - but I could detect some signs of adoration in there - especially since he impressed her with his vocabulary while they served on a committee. And then she got that email about paying attention to his marriage so having to end this. I asked him what he would say if she came up to him to talk - he said, "I would just tell her that if I talked with her it would negatively impact my marriage so I can't." I was horrified - it is as though he wants to make sure she knows that she was important to him! Am I right
Sometimes a person has to hit "bottom" before they decide there is a problem- again, similar to addiciton. Yes, he puts her on some pedestal- fantasy- wow- does he realize she "goes to the bathroom" like the rest of us lol!!
OMG - Jean - thank you! XXXXX could send you the emails I would. He said things about how much more mature she was than any of her classmates, and how much smarter she was than he to read certain Russian novels in high school, etc. etc. Gag.
I don't dislike her - she is a nice kid - but that is what she is. A kid of 19. A teenager. He doesn't like to acknowledge that.
At the time he was going to break off contact he called her first to say - she said she emailed all her friends of all ages like she was emailing him.
Come back to earth right!! Fantasy is so much prettier than real life- I guess- until your bubble is popped. She is a child! She's just venturing out into the real world. He maybe felt "safe" to her- a daddy!
Yes - I can see that. Even a college freshman in honors who is smart as a whip has to have some fear of failure. Being told how smart and mature you are - and then writing back that you always marched to a different drummer yourself - and commisserating with each other, etc. It was like he was trying to relive his life as a 20 year old and be in college again but she was looking at him for approval like a dad.
I do wish you the best in all of this. There are no easy answers- do take care of you!! This is crazy making stuff. Allow him to do the hard work to win you back vs. you working so hard on keeping track of him.
His dad died when he was 21 - accident. My therapist wonders about emotionally being stunted then. But then that doesn't help - that means he really can't move beyond that.
Right- stuck at 21- maybe sparks that for him- so interesting.
Thank you for your help - I think I will give serious thought to your words about that I need to take care of myself. I keep taking care of him - and I can't do that. I don't protect myself by doing that.
I just can't live the secret anymore.
It often does relate back to some original hurt we are trying to heal- death of his dad- that's tough at that age.
No this should not be more difficult for you- you have done nothing wrong- letting go is hard, but it is key.
I'm glad to help. I hope to hear from you again.
I am trying to let go - to distance myself - that is hard. Thanks - I probably will.
A crisis like this can be an opportunity for you to take care of yourself.
You are due for some self care!!
Thank you - you are most helpful and have wonderful insight - I just really needed to know if I am being cruel by wanting to talk to another friend.
Let me know if I can help again- thanks for chatting- and sharing. Best wishes to you!
You need to be heard and validated.