I am really tired of getting cheated on. It’s exhausting. It is emotionally draining, so damaging and destroys everything you might think you have in a marriage. It exposes the illusion that you both love each other deeply enough to be faithful.
Infidelity is by far the WORST thing that I have ever gone through. When Allie had her first affair six years ago, it took me nearly five years to get over the pain, betrayal and deception. I forgave her pretty quickly, but then spent years cycling back through the story in my head. It took a LONG time to shake those thoughts and get it outta my head.
But why did I forgive her the first time? Great question! When I caught Allie in 2012, she was almost instantly remorseful. She told me what a mistake she’d made and how she would never do that again. Here are just a few of the lines she said back then.
- I made a huge mistake
- I wanted you all along
- I was confused
- I didn’t see it coming
- I wasn’t looking for it
- I will never do that again, it hurts too much
- I am a different person
- This has changed me
- God has redeemed me
- I would tell you if I was ever tempted like that again
- I really wanted your attention
- You’re the love of my life
- I am so madly in love with you
So the love of my life was saying all the right things. She was doing all the right things. She was remorseful and so apologetic. I remember one night when she washed my feet as a symbolic way to say that as my wife she was serving me and would never stray again.
You can imagine that as a hurt spouse all of this sounds pretty good. “I don’t have to lose my marriage. My five- and six-year old sons wouldn’t have to experience divorced parents. And our life could move on as normal.” (nope)
What I didn’t realize (and she may not either) is that she was Hoovering me. (read more about Hoovering here) Hoovering is named after the Hoover vacuum cleaner and is a technique used by a narcissist to suck you back in. Like a vacuum, the person aims and the method sucks the betrayed spouse back. It is often used with pushing methods like “gaslighting” to make sure the narcissistic supply stays in compliance. Compliance is literally the only thing the narc wants out of relationship.
Narcs have a pathological fear of being insignificant, alone or worthless. Allie has literally said those words to me. Sentences like these:
- “I am worth fighting for”
- “I don’t want you to be alone” She projects this on me but what she’s saying is that she is scared to be alone
- “God says I am worthy.”
While all of that may be true, it is so damn hard for the betrayed spouse to believe anymore. You see a person can screw up so badly that another person really has to evaluate truth in their own lives.
That’s where I am. Allie went on to have two more affairs starting about August 2017. One was with her boss Derek. He owns the company she works for and Allie claims that they only made out 10 times or so and didn’t have sex or oral. I am not so sure. But what does it matter anyway? The other affair was from about January 2018 – March 2018. (our anniversary was March 4th and we celebrated 18 years right in the middle of her affair. Of course I didn’t know about it.) That second affair was with a married man named Mark who has four children. Mark is now officially divorced.
We are now about six months past the discovery of affair #3 (Mark) and a few weeks past Allie’s confession of Affair # 2 (Derek). Hard to keep up with ’em all isn’t it?
Allie is back at the Hoovering with me. She says stuff like this now:
She also calls me her “person” all the time. Constantly. She says that she is madly in love with me. And, as you read in her text above, she is deeply in love with me and very broken over the damage she’s done. Maybe I have an incorrect definition of “in love.” I don’t know.
To the outside eye, counselors, friends, church leaders, etc, this would be a sign that she’s changed and wants to work on the marriage. Many will tell me that I should stay and fight and heal from the wounds. Many even subtly make me feel guilty for “giving up.”
Here’s a great place for a meme:
This picture says it all. A broken heart is broken like this plate. And no matter how sorry someone is, how apologetic they are, how deeply they love, or how they’ve changed they still are the ones who broke it through infidelity.
It’s easy to be the cheater in this. They get to cheat and then work hard to convince the spouse to stay. It’s almost like a conquest game for them. But to us on the other side, we pick up the fucking pieces of ourselves and try to function as a plate again. We try to mend the cracks, glue ourselves back together. All while being made to feel guilty that we might not be making the right choice by leaving.
Cheating, infidelity, betrayal, deception, Hooving, and gaslighting are all abuse. Period. They don’t leave physical bruises that I can take pictures of and post all over Facebook, but they damage the shit out of people on the inside.
If you’re being abused like this, get angry and stop taking it. Move out. Get free. Get healed. You are the one who was faithful and you are the one worth fighting for. Remember, they gave up on you (and your kids) and now they’re trying to convince you that you’re crazy? How fucked up is that?