I am having a difficult time leaving my husband after dealing with his nonstop cheating

My husband and me have been together for about seven years and married for almost four. Our sex life has always been great. He is very kinky and likes dirty sex and since I am the pleasing type he gets what he wants. Rewind all the way back to the beginning. I just turned 19 and he was 26 we were so in love and had the most amazing chemistry/connection. He was prince charming so I moved out of state to be with him. We moved in together and within nine months of living together I became pregnant with our 1st child. We fought like any regular couple but he always seemed so controlling of me. I have always struggled with trusting my partners due to previous cheating and also because my father left my mother for another woman (but never admits to cheating).

I remember always believing someone’s innocent until proven guilty. I knew about his past relationships and previous cheating/lying. His explanation was because he didn’t care about them enough and that he cares about me too much to ever do that to me. Being young and naive I believed him. Things were great before we had children manly because we did everything together. But after the kids came I am always home taking care of them and he is working, going to school or going out with friends. We have never really had regular date nights just occasional times we could afford a babysitter and a night out. Back when I was pregnant I stumbled across text messages from a number I didn’t recognize (his phone was out in the open, it buzzed and the message appeared on the screen while I was passing by) some girl from his school was talking to him about meeting up. So naturally I look to see and read other messages. They had been talking about meeting and hooking up. I was immediately enraged and confronted him.

He of course said they were joking and that all his friends in his class (men and women) discuss sex openly and joke about those types of things. Told me to relax and that I’m reading too much into the conversations. I had our 1st child a few days later (early partly due to stress and medical issues). Fast forward a year and I never fully trusted him after that first issue. I found out he is constantly on CraigsList looking at personal adds as well as I saw in his email that he replies to the ones that interest him. Anything from "just want to have some fun" all the way to "looking for a honest man interested in a deep committed relationship". He would say things like "married and happy but looking for fun nsa sex" to " I would love to show you a good time, take you out on a date, get to know you etc.".

When I confronted him the first few times he would say he was sorry, wrong but that he has not done anything and physical or even met anyone. To him it was just exciting to see how easy it was to get women interested in him. But as the years have gone on I have caught him cheating.

I was pregnant with our second child when I found a text from some women saying she missed him and a picture of her half naked. This has been the only time he has ever fully confessed to cheating on me. Says he got really drunk one night and she led him on and he couldn’t turn away. I tried to forgive him but I think I never fully have. He has never admitted to anything else even when I have some proof. He will tell me sorry and that no other women means anything to him and he just tells them what they want to hear. But swears he has not done anything physical with them and that he also doesn’t have any feelings for anyone but me. He admitted to needing more than one sexual partner and that sex is just sex. I have left him several times due to this behavior and each time he first turns things around on me and that I am the bad guy but then eventually gets on his knees begging to be taken back, tells me how much he loves me, can’t imagine his life with out me he will do anything and be faithful to me. And each time I take him back—mostly because we have 2 children together and also because deep down I really do love him and he seems to have a hold on me that I cannot shake even if I wanted to.

This past summer I even moved out with my 2 children and stayed with family. I started the paperwork to file for divorce yet he somehow changed my mind promising to be what I needed in a husband. Every time this happens I always say this is his last chance, but clearly he has been given way more than that. The past few months I finally thought things were going well he appeared to be behaving himself (by now I am constantly looking into his emails, phone records I can’t seem to control myself). We have always been struggling with money off and on our entire relationship. He got a job offer out of state and we decided it was best for our family that he take it. He had to go alone and the kids and me have to stay behind for a while until we can afford to move our household. This weekend he left to go start the new job. I know he will not be able to stay faithful to me when we are living in separate states and it is killing me inside. I just found out he has been talking to some other women for a few months and after talking with her she had no idea he was married with kids.

She is naturally upset with him because he lied to her (after doing a lot of digging they had never met until 2 nights ago (the night before he moved) and he lied to me saying he was going to hang out with a guy friend. He drove for over an hour to see her that night and did not come home until 6am. I told him I knew what he did and that I am done putting up with this (I’ve said this before). He lies and said she is just a friend and nothing happened between them even thought she reacted to me so upset that he lied about being married. I told her he is a liar and tells her what she wants to hear just for sex.

I am at a loss for what to do. I never can seem to follow through with my actions and he never can be trusted. I feel like he has lead a double life for years because every woman that I have found out about has always had no clue he was a family man. He never says anything about our children or me to these women. I think I am terrified to leave him but I cannot stand the pain any longer. If I do leave him he will fight me tooth and nail for custody of our children and even if we get joint custody I can’t stand the idea of having them with him every other weekend. He tells me he loves our family and me but then goes to this women saying he should have been honest with her and tells her he isn’t happy in his marriage and that his kids are the reason he won’t leave me.

But I leave him and he won’t allow it. He is so controlling and feels because he is a man he should be able to do what he wants while I sit quietly not asking questions. HELP I feel like I’m drowning and I don’t know what to do. I feel like either choice I make I am making the wrong one.

Response:

In situations like this, it may be helpful to consider the following. Some individuals are prone to cheating (see once a cheater, always a cheater), but never have any intention of leaving their spouses because while they enjoy having sex outside of their relationships, they derive security and comfort from being married (see will he leave his wife).

And it is common for individuals who frequently cheat to deny the truth, even when confronted with evidence of their cheating (see cheater’s paradox).

Based on the information you have provided, it is fairly clear that your husband has repeatedly cheated on you and will probably continue to do so in the future.

It is also clear that his behavior is causing you distress; yet you cannot seem to leave him. Individuals with an anxious style of attachment (see anxious attachment), often stay in toxic relationships because they feel compelled to stay – “I love him, he wants me back, he might change.” If this description fits you, it is probably in your best interest to seek out counseling. Talk to a therapist who is trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy. Once you realize that you have better alternatives than your husband (which you undoubtedly do, but fail to recognize – another common belief anxiously attached individuals hold), it will be easier for you to make decisions that are in you and your children’s’ best interest.

Although this will not be easy to do, taking the first step and talking to someone about these patterns and how to change them will most likely have a dramatic improvement on your life in the long run. Short-term emotional thinking traps many people, but sometimes it is important to think about the big picture and start acting as if you are playing the long game.

 anxious attachment | cheating husband | denies infidelity | troubled relationship

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