Tales of the Ex @ RomanceClass -
The Green Hat

Or, “You’re not the only man ever cuckolded”
March 2009

According to a Chinese saying, a green cap on a man indicates his wife or girlfriend is having an affair with another man. In ancient China, the cuckolded husband was required to wear a green hat! It means that his wife is disloyal. To this day, ''to wear a green hat'' is the Chinese symbol of a cuckold and to give one as a gift is the ultimate insult!
Sadly, many of us discover that a green cap just might be appropriate. I did. Possibly the most painful experience in my life --worse even than a kidney stone!
It wasn’t so much the sexual adultery (although it's not a favorite) but, rather her brief romantic infidelity. I had thought that our affections -- kissing, holding, caressing -- intimacy, were all reserved for the one we love the most. I thought those things were exclusive. A simple hug even is an open, accepting, close, vulnerable expression of something very special. She gave them all away cheaply, and at my emotional expense.
Please know that I'm not going anywhere. I love my wife unconditionally. I promise that, if she will only talk to me honestly and openly, I can and will meet her emotional needs. I repeat, we both need to communicate openly and honestly -- or I simply won't know.


So, if you’re reading these words, you are not the only one to go through the pain. And, please believe me you will eventually pass “through” this emotional black hole.
I have learned that I have always been somewhat jealous, protective, even controlling out of my own insecurities. I became honestly, albeit subconsciously certain that something was actually going on when my spouse began needing – demanding time to herself and lots of privacy. Looking back, I should have brought these issues to the front of my mind, trying to determine what was lacking in her life that made these changes “necessary.” What I did instead was to feel exceedingly guilty for being distrustful, skeptical, and apprehensive. As the saying goes, “you’re not paranoid if they’re really out to get you.” My apprehensions were reality! I do not want to be controlling and suspicious, but I don’t want to be a fool. Her behavior changes signaled real issues with fidelity. It now seems to me that a strong need for the opportunity to go outside the marriage probably signals some real problems.
She asked for my trust, saying she feels violated by my jealousies – my “hovering”. I do not want to be her parent. I would like to trust – trust in her fidelity based on unconditional and exclusive love. I think she didn’t intend to replace me, but emotional intimacy must, invariably lead to physical intimacy – frequently to love.
I “caught her” quite by accident. It took me even longer to “catch on.” There’s an old Texas saying: “for every rat you see, there are hundreds you don’t see.” I know I was not a 100% effective detective. Even so, the portion confirmed was more than I could handle.
Unhappily, I suspect that there may have been more than the one “other man.” And getting my wife to tell me about the current affair went through several stages. I was mostly hurt by the dishonesty and continual untruths following my discovery (layer after layer)
1. Bill? He's just my friend.
2. Bill? Eewwwe!
3. We flirted on the internet and via text messaging.
4. He kissed me one time in the parking lot.
5. We went out one time for a drink.
6. We planned to have sex but just talked instead.
7. Dah-Dahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh the full Monty!
8. Twice the same night.
Better she should have told me everything all at once so I didn’t have to revisit the pain at each step. I also still believe the relationship got interrupted. This doesn’t give me the confidence I need to feel safe in our marriage, in our family and within myself. I am now confident in neither the exclusivity of our relationship nor in myself.
I understand "why" – well, I almost understand. Yet, the pattern of dishonesty -- secret email address, guarded (phone always off while I'm around) text messaging, etc. and putting the blame on me as hovering and a stalker kills me! I was devastated! I felt like such a jerk!
But, hold it! Why didn't she come to me with her (really our) problems so we could work on "fixing" what was wrong? I've been hard to live with for two years, at least a large part of which was due to medical issues. I didn't even know anything was wrong!
To some degree I still feel like I let her down. The issue came following two or more years of significant medical issues which brought out the worst in me. Still, I can't find a path to future trust. She doesn't want to get the guy in trouble with his wife, saying it was her fault. She claims she was FRAGILE and made a decision she professes to regret. I give the guy much of the blame; I think he took advantage of her fragility -- you know the "hunter" – “my-wife-doesn't-meet-my-needs” type.
I love my wife beyond imagination. She has a special gift; she is my special gift. I am so deeply in love with her and I think she needs to know how I feel. At least, I need for her to know.


“Shoulda, coulda, woulda”

I need to speak to what I should have known, what I could have done, and what would have likely happened had I not “discovered” my wife’s infidelity. Again, I need to point out that it is more the emotional than the sexual betrayal. It is from this context that most of my thoughts and feelings begin -- and end. We’re advised to “write what we know.” Everyone’s experience will differ, perhaps markedly, but I can only share my experience, filtered through my own prejudices and assumptions, in the sincere hope that the reader (that would be you) can at least benefit by knowing you’re not alone.
I don’t know how much it impacts my story, but my spouse is seventeen years younger than I. Further, this is my third (!) marriage; her second. We are married going on ten years, “fooled around” a year or so before that, and worked together closely for a year or two prior to our relationship developing beyond friendship. I am becoming a strong believer in “Karma” – what goes around comes around. I “got” her the same way I nearly “lost” her. We both were married and our friendship developed into an emotional bond which, in turn became intimate (read here please “adulterous”).
As I confessed previously I am, by nature obsessive, jealous, distrustful. I have, again by nature low self confidence/esteem, easily subject to depression and anxiety. I suspect I am not the only person with these personality flaws. I don’t know if this is an excuse or if in fact I am “guilty.” In any case, I have been treated for borderline mood disorder since some time in 2003 – never fully realizing until that time, in spite of my considerable skills, strengths and essential “goodness,” that my behaviors were maladaptive.

I have screwed up nearly every job I ever held due, in part at least to my mood disorder. The only long-term relationships I maintained were with other dysfunctional (yet wonderful) people. Treatment worked! From 2003 through 2006 I was a good guy – positive, supportive, loving. Reoccurring back pain led me in 2001, again to seek treatment. Acupuncture, massage therapy, several series’ of injections, was followed upon our return from living in Asia by visits to an orthopedic specialist. Nothing seemed to work. There were long periods of time during which I couldn’t walk.
About 2004, my orthopedic guy gave up. I could not afford another operation (no medical insurance) so I was sent to a pain management clinic. I don’t mean to bore you with the details, but you need to know the context as it causally relates to the green hat issue.
Predictably (for everyone else in the world except me apparently) the pain specialist prescribed an ever-increasing “prescription therapy,” ending in very strong daily doses of “hillbilly heroine.” I should have known better; I went through the narcotic pain medications trap in the 1980’s. Miracle cure! I was pain free for better than two years!
What I did not recall from prior experience, or know (?) was what a total and complete critical, condescending, angry person these meds made me – or brought out the worst in me. I should have known that there would be a negative impact on my friends and family; I should have expected consequences to my “bad” behavior. I should have, but I didn’t have a clue! I was pain free! I knew things were not great, yet I assumed the fault was with those “frustrating people” around me. Sadly, I could not see how my behaviors impacted others or that my behaviors were inappropriate so often. The effects of the mood disorder treatments were counteracted by the prescribed pain medication. In short, I didn’t meet the needs of those around me, yet I remained unaware. Dulled and oblivious.

I should have known and, accordingly I expect I would have made the changes necessary to meet the emotional needs of those around me. I suspect so strongly that I would have made the adjustments because, the very minute that I had my epiphany (February 19, 2009), I “kicked the narcotics, cold turkey.”
More problems than expected cropped up when I awakened from my slumber. I saw clearly that I had impacted others brutally plus I began to put together the cues and clues that my mistrustful nature had been working on in the back of my mind.
Until my second epiphany – of infidelity – I had really and truly believed that my distrustful suspicions were unfounded, without basis. I felt so incredibly guilty for my lack belief of in my wife’s faithfulness. I suffered terribly from being in the wrong.
I awoke and saw the signs, especially the excessive expressions of her need for “privacy” and time to herself. Having carefully reviewed “the writing on the wall,” I did the unforgivable. I checked. I snooped. I read her recently sent emails, her text messages, heck I admit it, I even checked her underwear! Now, this was difficult for a person whose normal nature is to be wary but who has been “taught” that snooping amounts to abuse.
The evidence was easy to find (aside: is it possible, do you think, that subconsciously she needed to be caught?) – I had had it pegged! I knew who and when. It took me longer to realize why. My baseless worries were validated. I was torn apart! I should have known; but for the narcotic pain meds I would have known earlier; I could have probably headed off her betrayal by eliminating her need to look elsewhere.
I think I understand the pieces, but where do I go from here?

Love ‘em? …or leave ‘em?
If age and experience has taught me anything, it is that there are always two people at fault in a relationship hic-up. I would love to understand my own fault in this – I totally understand my role, simply not my fault. Prescribed pain medications exacerbated my mood disorder which, otherwise was under control. I have to take quite a lot of medications daily for several medical issues and many of which work at cross purposes with libido. The pain meds pushed me over the edge, making me more interested in a root canal than with sex with Jamie Lee Curtis. Again, my contribution to our troubles, but my fault?
She should have beaten me over the head with a two-by-four. I knew no sex for two years was not good but I never thought it through. Wake up, fool!
Once again, the very moment I woke up, I did what was needed to begin to put things right. Oh, had I only awoken earlier! I know -- excuses, excuses.
So, do I blame? If not, how do I come to terms with the unfaithfulness? If so, do I stick around or bail out from the pain?
I am guessing that my answer to the former (i.e., blame) is “no.” I am angry with her for what feels like being let down, but I really get why it happened. I think she loves me…


Rebuilding trust, I would guess depends on some basic behaviors on the part of the person who had an affair:
• being willing to answer questions.
• hanging in there while I deal with the (understandable) emotions.
• demonstrating a commitment to the relationship by severing all contact with the other person totally/completely.
All this is aimed at strengthening the bond that has been broken. It demonstrates a willingness to handle problems in a responsible way instead of trying to bury them, avoid them, or hope they go away. There are no shortcuts; the only way through this situation is to face it head on and deal with it. Even then, it will be difficult for everyone.
Certainly, no one (either the one who had an affair or their partner) wants to drag this out; it's so painful and uncomfortable that everybody wants it to be over quickly, but it can't be rushed. So, unless both people are willing to commit to honesty and to investing the time and energy necessary to deal with all this, they're unlikely to make it together; or if they do, the emotional distance from the lack of commitment to doing what's necessary leads to a deadened, meaningless marriage. Time to bail!

“cues & clues”
There are signs that you can look for where infidelity is suspected. Unless you’re mentally unstable, trust your feelings! If you “feel strange” about your relationship, something is probably amiss. From there, you just need to know what signs to look for and where to draw the line.
One of the first signs that your partner may be cheating on you is that they suddenly become distant. You went from spending every day together, doing things after work together to her slowly pulling away not having the time in the evening to spend with you anymore. .You’ll hear such excuses as he or she is tired from work and just wants to go home and get some rest. Your partner wants to spend time with his or her friends and that is something that they haven’t done in a long time. You’ll notice things that they’re doing that are completely out of the ordinary for them in your relationship.
If, all of a sudden your spouse is coming home late from work with the excuse: “I just stopped to have a drink with some friends.” That might be a clue that something may be going on or something is starting to happen. You will notice your spouse gets agitated very quickly when you ask questions about where they were or what they were doing, after all if they were doing nothing wrong there is no reason for them to be upset. Some partners or spouses will even go as far as starting an argument, accusing you of being “abusive.” You’re left standing there totally confused as to what just happened. Meanwhile your partner is out on a date with someone else.
If you think that your partner or spouse is guilty of infidelity, believe in your instincts, and then watch for the telltale signs. She’ll display changes in her daily behavior, changes in her daily work routine, changes in her daily appearance and changes in the way she does daily things with you. It may be subtle -- things such as your spouse listening to different music. Some early warning signs, or cues and clues follow:
• Usually comes home early then suddenly comes home late.
• Suddenly shows any drastic change in behavior.
• Normally looked the same way for the past couple of years then suddenly becomes very conscious on how she looks and suddenly shows interest in weight loss, buying new clothes, personal hygiene products and perfumes.
• Spends more time with activities that require spending time away from home, such as “going out with the girls, attending meetings, working late, etc.
• Goes out on evenings together with friends but does not ask you along, using one excuse or another.
• Acts suspiciously, like turning off the computer or cell phone when you enter the room or gets near her.
• Protects the computer with secret email accounts, passwords and changes the password of emails and other accounts that require the use of passwords.
• Smells differently when she comes home, especially if the smell is from the opposite sex.
• Shows sudden lack of intimacy, passion, or interest in sex.
• Gets more frequent phone calls or text messages than usual.
• Has unexplained mobile numbers or home phone numbers on her cell phone or phone book.


• Claims to be “just friends.”
• Has long phone calls to the same number.
• Becomes defensive, suspicious, and accusatory on you. (A biggie!)
• Frequently lies about money matters with lots of excuses as to where the money was spent.
• Brings home small but suspicious gifts or strange personal items from the opposite sex.
• Becomes uneasy and uncomfortable when you open a topic about infidelity or about your relationship.
• Has sweet/erotic text messages in her mobile phone or in her email. (Don’t forget the “sent” box!)
• Becomes super protective over personal belongings such as computers, cell phones, bag, wallet, etc.
• No longer enjoys kissing, cuddling and holding your hand.
• Is no longer attentive and focuses on you when you are together.
• No longer likes talking with you to share even the slightest thoughts, jokes, and experiences.
If you suspect infidelity, don’t hesitate to open up with your partner, because (the internet claims) 50% of men who are thinking that their partner is cheating are correct and 85% of women who noticed the infidelity warning signs are rarely wrong.



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