The first thing you need to do is build a support network of friends and strong women who can help you. I know it’s not easy, but you need to reach out and connect with other women. Pay attention to your kids’ friends’ parents, your neighbors, the women in your exercise class or at the park. Take a deep breath, screw up your courage, and talk to them. Invite them for coffee or a play date.
I agree with Cathy, Aly. You struck a deep nerve for something. I am so sorry. I have just realized my husband of almost 30 years was not the man he pretended to be either. And he pretended the entire marriage, while rejecting me to the point I have been in what is considered a sexless marriage. I was a beautiful, happy, intelligent girl once but now that I am ill and old he told me he is a sex addict, that he has fantasies about every women I’ve ever been close to, that he took my (soon to become) best friend for sex the day before our wedding and the reason his suit was not ready was because he wasn’t planning on going through with it, that he wanted to leave me for her for the first 3-1/2 years of marriage… when his ‘first’ disclosure got past 6 women and he mentioned how full of life and energy my granddaugther was I exploded. She is/was 6 years old at the time. He goes after anything with a pulse and is one of the guys that masturbate in public hoping to get caught — even in areas with children. However, I thought he was a shy, sweet, creative and gentle man who would never harm a soul and didn’t have a dishonest bone is his body. He has enjoyed letting me know what a fool I was… then he retreats and becomes the person I thought he was, but this is only because he hasn’t gotten his next victim lined up. After I realized something didn’t feel right (illness can bring incredible clarity) then he took his mask off, and he was an insect wearing an Edgar suit. Truly evil, manipulative and cunning — not one bit like who I believe for my entire adult life. My shock just can’t settle down.
Our instincts can often tell us first when a relationship just isn't working — but we don't always trust that voice, says couples therapist Susan Pease Gadoua, co-author of The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels. "We often ignore our gut instincts because that voice is very quiet and calm, unlike the internal voice in our heads that thrives on high drama." We're trained to trust logic in many areas of life, so when a niggling feeling ("Am I really still in love with this person?") presents itself, it's hard to pay attention to it because there aren't any hard facts or rational reasoning. Drill down on that initial instinct and ask yourself more specific questions. If you find your responses are things like, "I don't feel safe to express myself, I don't feel respected and haven't felt happy in a long time," that's a sign that things have gone awry — and you shouldn't ignore it. "The truth doesn't go away simply because we don't want it to be there; that voice stays in the background and weighs on you," says Gadoua. "Getting quiet within is key to being able to hear instincts. And like a muscle, the more you trust your gut, the easier it becomes to decipher that voice — which comes from your heart — from the voice in your head."