My husband and I have been together about 12 years (married two). We began dating at 19 and were each other’s first. For the first two years we were long distance. Sometime at the end of the first year of dating I made the mistake of kissing another guy when I was drunk at a party one night. I told my partner right away and he understood. He was very compassionate and forgiving. He said things happen and to be more careful. A little over a year later we moved in together. Things were pretty amazing for the first two years living together (year 3 and 4 dating). He was generally communicative and, though we had a few arguments here and there, there were no “red flags.” Then at the end of the 4th year of our relationship he started drinking and partying more. He would spend lots of time with friends and very little with me. I felt like I was being taken for granted a lot. We made future plans together that included me going to grad school etc. then we got a dog.
This is where things started feeling pretty rough. He harbors(ed) a lot of resentment for having to care for the dog and blamed me for getting him without consulting him. We talked it out and continue to have different opinions about this situation. (I feel that he passively agreed to the commitment of adopting an animal by sharing in my excitement, helping pay for the adoption fees, visiting the kennel before we adopted him. He says I guilted him into getting the dog.)
Anyway, after this point we started getting into arguments more and eventually he would spend lots of evenings drunk playing video games. The sex kinda fizzled and he stopped making plans. (This is year 5).
Needless to say I thought he would end things but he kept saying how important I was to him and he supported me in the process of applying and getting into grad school. Then in year 6 we began making plans for the move to a new city for grad school. he was really concerned about finances and worried that, because he didn’t have a college degree, he wouldn’t be able to get a job that would pay enough to support his half of bills. In the end he decided to stay behind and helped me find a new apt in the city where my grad school was. Throughout this time we constantly talked about his plans to move up to the city with me but he remained concerned about finances. Then, one day near the middle of my first year of school, he said he had been offered a job in the family business and that it would pay great and help keep his head above water.
I was devastated. I felt like he was prioritizing money over our relationship (this was midway through year 6).
Around the same time I was spending a lot of time out with friends at the bars. I drank wayyy to much and it was causing problems in many areas of my life. I randomly met this guy and became infatuated with him. I told my friends I wanted to hook up with him but I didn’t want to do it behind my boyfriends back especially because of how forgiving he had been and because I still loved my boyfriend deeply. I asked my boyfriend if it was okay to hook up with another guy, we talked it out, he agreed under the assumption it was a one time thing.
In a two week period I hooked up with the guy 3 times. It was pretty underwhelming to be honest but the high I felt from being wanted really made me want more.
It tore my boyfriend up inside. He became severely depressed. At the time I was callous to his feelings because, I think, unconsciously, I thought he didn’t care about me. I realized pretty quickly after hooking up with the other guy the third time that it wasn’t worth it, I was selfishly killing the person I loved, and I was being a ***ing ***. I don’t know why it took me so long to get that out of my system but to this day I regret it terribly and wish I had a better explanation for why I would do something so cruel to my boyfriend.
All along my boyfriend stuck by me and continued to convey his desire for a relationship with me. He agreed to move to the city instead of taking the job with his family. We went to therapy. I went to individual therapy. Couples therapy was a disaster because the therapist got stuck on trying to make him take responsibility for the decision. He was too hurt to see that aspect of it at the time. We ended couples therapy after 2 sessions.
Things started to get a little better. We talked a lot more about our feelings. He had moments when he would get angry or insecure but his desire for the relationship with me was very apparent.
(As an aside, only a few people in his family know all this happened but those who do have been understanding and continue to maintain a relationship with me despite this *** up.)
We moved to the city together and made things work (year 7).
I decided after I graduated graduate school I wanted to get a specialty degree in my field. Again he supported me and helped me through the process of looking at schools. He said that no matter what happened we’d make it work. He would get part time jobs or an office job to help continue paying his half of the bills.
As you can probably tell, we’ve been through a hell of a lot. But even with all that and the uncertainty of our future he asked me to marry him at the end of year 7. I said yes, of course, and we set a date before we moved to another state for my specialty degree.
His family was ecstatic as was mine. So as I was getting my other degree we planned the wedding (years 8-9). We had a two year engagement throughout which he began becoming really successful in his new job. Once he started making 6 figures his attitude and mentality changed for the better. He had way more self esteem. He was eager to make plans. He really tried to impress his family and friends with his success.
Even though things were a lot better between us, he continued to have days and, on one occasion a week, where he would question me and my loyalty. He would say he didn’t trust me, give me all these reasons he’s never get over the incident in graduate school, and would say that he was sure I’d cheat on him again. This broke my heart because I am in in love with this man and I want to be with him with all my heart. I’ve never even had a thought of cheating on him since the incident in grad school. I knew I had ***ed up in graduate school and I wanted him to find a way to forgive me. But he couldn’t come to terms with why someone he loved with *** him over like that. His drinking continued as did mine but his was too the extent that he would black out. I needed to curb my drinking for my school work. So I cut back, when I did I began to noticed how when anxious and worried I was about him.
About 6 months before the wedding we had a major argument one night when we were drunk and he said he couldn’t trust me, that I was a liar, and that I was selfish for hurting him so bad. He said he wanted to leave. He also said he wasn’t sure he wanted to marry me. I said maybe we should take some time apart. The next morning I said we either needed to go to counseling together or figure out what we needed to tell our family about the wedding.
He decided to go to counseling on his own for only 8 sessions, that was his cut off, and then tell me how he was feeling. He had a ***ty therapist who made weird physical advances towards him but he said he realized that he needs to either fully commit to the relationship and begin to forgive or get out. He decided to stay and things were sooo much better. Our communication improved 10 fold. He had a better attitude about himself and our life together. We began making plans again for our future (this was all at the end of year 9).
Got married, we were very happy for a year, then COVID hit and his business plummeted (years 10-11). It’s now been almost 18 months since COVID and he’s more depressed than I’ve ever seen him. Every other week he gets very silent and contemplative. He says everything reminds him of how I “cheated.” He can’t get the image of me screwing someone else out of his head. He also says he feels stuck like he can’t leave. He’s worried how leaving would impact me and doesn’t want to hurt me but he thinks that if there are no reminders of me screwing someone else then maybe he won’t think about it and he’d be happy.
I’m at such a loss. I love this man so much and I don’t want him to hurt. I also feel like he’s beginning to see how much his dark moods impact me but he’s starting not to care as much about this. He will communicate with me but he gets angry and will cast blame instead of having a discussion. Last night he said that he will live with those memories for the rest of his life. That I damaged him beyond repair and that he has to drink to make it go away. He also said that he feels partly responsible for not trying harder to be with me in graduate school and, that if he had, the incident would never had happened. He can’t stop thinking about the past and he thinks things will never change.
He also said that he was able to let it go after therapy, so before and during the year of the wedding. During this time he felt more free and relieved. He also felt closer to me.
He said nothing makes him happy anymore.
He recognizes that part of what’s happening is depression but he refuses to see someone. He also refuses to get meds.
For me this topsy turvy up and down cycle is becoming so overwhelming. One week or two or three, he’ll be great, communicative, loving, compassionate, forgiving. Then the next week he’ll be angry, spiteful, and withdrawn. I’ve done all I can to make things easier. I’ve continued to go to therapy, I got a better job so that I can support us financially, I’ve taken over almost all the cleaning and housework. I try to encourage him to work and get out and do things. I even plan trips to try to boost his mood and cheer him up. These things help for a while then he has a bad day. Sometimes I feel like I tiptoe around him to avoid saying something that might set him off into a bad mood.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to leave. I don’t want him to leave.
I also don’t want to give him ultimatums.
… what should I do.. help?