When does a relationship become exclusive?

For the discussion of relationship issues between engaged couples.
Mr Tom
Newbie
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2015 4:26 pm
Date of your marriage (past or future): January 8th, 1991
Gender: Male

When does a relationship become exclusive?

Postby Mr Tom » Wed Apr 13, 2016 8:32 am

I've always thought that when a couple says "ok, now it's just us two, we're not going to see anyone else." then that puts you into the exclusive category. I've always had the feeling that my wife (25yrs of marriage) had cheated on me at some point but had just never pinned it down. This is just based on things she has said, her reactions to situations, just general observations. I just found out a married couple friends of ours, that she had been stepping out on him. This really did a number on me and I began re-evaluating my wife's and Mine old conversations on the cheating topic ( years ago I had discussed this prior but suspected I had been lied to). This time knowing what to look for and having rehearsed what I was going to say, I asked her while we were making supper last week if she had had sex with anyone else besides me back in college. She just ups and says yes - once - an old boyfriend had come for a campus visit, swung past her room and they just had a quick romp. I then covered all the time frame we've been together. Not letting anything slip through the cracks this time.

The wife and I had been exclusive for nearly a year at that point but not engaged for another year. When I asked why b/c we were a couple, her defense was that we weren't married. She later acknowledged cheating on me and that she knew we were exclusive. I went in a downward spiral of emotions. Ripped my heart out - I've never hurt so bad. I didn't care about her old boyfriends from before we were an item but once we said it was just us two, well, that mattered to me. I googled how to overcome being cheated on and went through the steps. It seems like I'll bounce around the steps daily though. We've talked about it many times and I'm getting better about it slowly. If you ask why you knucklehead even bring this up. Well, I have a good memory and it was always there lurking. It was just our friends wife stepping out that brought it back to the forefront ( meaning if she could cheat late in the marriage then maybe my wife would cheat again). I had to have closure, did not want it in my brain for another 25yrs. Frankly, I was greatly relieved as that I had much worse scenarios running rampant through my mind. I felt like such a chump though.

Looking back at it now the real hurt comes from the betrayal of my trust. The images in my brain when we are intimate doesn't help the situation either. It feels like 5% of my soul died that day when she confirmed my question. That extra special spark of attraction that I've always had for her is long gone too. Maybe it'll come back given time.

The question is: Is there some dating etiquette that I was just unaware of going on here? I'm not looking to step out, just understand better. Again, if you ask why after 25yrs even bring this up, well, I needed to know, or confirm/discredit what's been in the back of my mind for that long. Now I can move on for another 25yrs. I'm not angry, just hurt. Well, the anger comes and goes.

From a guys view point on being cheated on. ( at least my opinion is that I was cheated on, we'll see what the responses are). I have never been emotionally hurt like that. Never even thought that something could hurt this much. I cried, not sobbing, but tears and I never cry. I can't imagine what being cheated on while being married would do to you.

Thanks for listening. This was good therapy for me. Hopefully in some weird way I was able to help someone out in coping or NOT cheating in the first place - just go take a shower.
Last edited by Mr Tom on Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:23 am, edited 9 times in total.

User avatar
txtwindad
Under the stars
Posts: 4078
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:29 am
Date of your marriage (past or future): August 13th, 1983
Gender: Male

Re: When does a relationship become exclusive?

Postby txtwindad » Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:06 am

So, this was more than 25 years ago. You think she cheated on you, she does not. Do you want to be right or do you want to be married? Why dwell on this. Whatever happened 25+ years ago is water under the bridge, replaced by 25 years of married life and relationship.

I understand why this hurts. But no good can come of holding onto this. You've got to let it go. What is your goal? You already feel bad. Is your goal to make her feel bad too? Don't let your friend's marital problems drag your marriage down with it.
 "Baby, Baby go and fetch some water,
Pour it on me so's I don't melt.
Can't you see you've got me burnin' hotter
Than a black vinyl car seat in ..." Two Tons of Steel

User avatar
SeekingChange
Under the stars
Posts: 5209
Joined: Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:41 pm
Date of your marriage (past or future): August 17th, 1994
Gender: Female

Re: When does a relationship become exclusive?

Postby SeekingChange » Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:07 am

To answer your question, with my opinion, I agree with you. Once there is an agreement that it's the two of us, it should just be the two of you. Is one forever bound by that agreement? Not until marriage, at any point before that, even during engagement, one can choose to break things off and move on and to others. But, if one steps out during that time, while still under the agreement, it is a betrayal of the agreement.
God can change what people do, behavioral patterns that have been in play for decades. He can change what we do to cope, find comfort, survive conflict, to count. Rahab had done a same old thing for years...then she did something new.

My Story

doug-h
Fell out of ...
Posts: 1299
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2015 5:11 pm
Date of your marriage (past or future): November 20th, 1982
Gender: Male

Re: When does a relationship become exclusive?

Postby doug-h » Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:12 am

I think you are digging up trouble that neither you nor your marriage needs.
You have your answer. Does it give you any satisfaction or peace. Just accept that in that time in your relationship, you may have been in different places, and may well have had different beliefs in exactly what the status was.

You say you were exclusive, but unless there was some spoken agreement, I don't really know how that is determined. You say yourself that you weren't promised to each other for another year after that event. To me, the engagement speaks of a promise. What you had prior, I don't know, but obviously in your wifes eyes, it wasn't on the same level as what you believed. I think it is enough to know that.

The idea that another couples difficulties was enough to.create this crisis in your heart, tells me that maybe your concern should be more in the present, and maybe you have some things that need to be discussed.

It's past. Leave it there. If forgiveness is needed, then that should be the focus.

User avatar
SeekingChange
Under the stars
Posts: 5209
Joined: Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:41 pm
Date of your marriage (past or future): August 17th, 1994
Gender: Female

Re: When does a relationship become exclusive?

Postby SeekingChange » Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:32 am

I personally believe there's absolutely nothing wrong with someone trying to find closure, even if that means facing the past, and that's what it sounds like Mr. Tom has done. I have found my own healing from things in the past, and the only way for that to happen was to bring it back up, face it and work through it, whether my husband remembered it or not. He now has found the answers to a nagging question and doubts he has had for 25 years and I see him saying that now he can find complete healing and move forward in a new way. I have no doubt that it was the Lord bringing it back to the surface to be dealt with.... I give kudos to Mr. Tom! Nowhere in his message do I see that he's planning on using this against his wife, I see that it will be a healing thing, not a damaging thing. It will probably bring a new freedom and healing to his wife as well because she is now free from her "secret".

May God bless all your married years to come in a way beyond all you can ask or imagine!
God can change what people do, behavioral patterns that have been in play for decades. He can change what we do to cope, find comfort, survive conflict, to count. Rahab had done a same old thing for years...then she did something new.

My Story

User avatar
Vanna
King bed
Posts: 746
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 4:40 am
Date of your marriage (past or future): May 20th, 1994
Gender: Female
Location: Texas

Re: When does a relationship become exclusive?

Postby Vanna » Wed Apr 13, 2016 4:58 pm

Dating is a mixed scenario. It's like test driving, parking it in front of your house, but never signing a lease. Each of my relationship partners had a different idea of what our dating commitment meant, but it was easily tossed out the window if they changed their mind. There's not much permanency.

Would I call it cheating on my boyfriend? Sure, I had my share if being cheated on and cheating.

It's good you've both come to terms with that part of your past. It's not always easy to dredge up the past.

I'd be more concerned with your concern that she might step out on you now? Is that based on problems currently in your marriage, are you sensing she may be unhappy? If all is well, be thankful for that, so many are fraught with problems.
After 28 years and six kids, through the good and bad, by the grace of God, things keep getting better and better. ::wed

User avatar
poetess
Under the stars
Posts: 3109
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:47 am
Date of your marriage (past or future): October 8th, 2011
Gender: Female

Re: When does a relationship become exclusive?

Postby poetess » Wed Apr 13, 2016 5:21 pm

I don't like the concept of "cheating on my boyfriend" simply because it implies doing something with someone else instead of him . . . and the reality is that fornication is sin, whether it's with a boyfriend or a total stranger.

Dating without engagement may have an implied promise, but a year before engagement seems quite a long way from any serious exclusivity. At any rate, yes, having sex with someone other than you was sin, and if she had sex with you, that was sin as well.

But all of it is sin that is far in the past. So you can confess your sins to each other, and accept and forgive and move on.
Marriage--what a wonderful image of Christ's love for His bride!

User avatar
FoxluvsBunny
King bed
Posts: 566
Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2015 3:36 am
Date of your marriage (past or future): May 23rd, 2015
Gender: Female
Location: Northeast USA

Re: When does a relationship become exclusive?

Postby FoxluvsBunny » Wed Apr 13, 2016 7:37 pm

I had something a bit similar in my life... except we weren't exclusive. My hubby and I met almost exactly 5 years ago on a dating site. We did not decide to be exclusive yet, but I really really liked him. I looked forward to every letter and every call. I considered him my pre boyfriend. In the months between when we met and went on a few dates, to when we became exclusive close to a year later, he went to an internship on the other side of the country (big part of why we decided not to be exclusive even tho we liked each other; we only went on a few dates and didn't know each other well. While he was there, he apparently had a short lived girl friend who he didn't tell me about while he was there (we didn't talk that frequently tho). Apparently it was a very dark time in his life. He briefly told me he had OS w/ her when we started dating. It hurt me alot. But I forgave him as i was so happy to be falling in love with him and to be his girlfriend. He was honest and told me up front even tho some details were left out. I didn't know until later that he was very physical (everything but IC) with other girls while there too :( :( :( :( :(. When I learned the details (this was around the time I also learned of extensive involvement in porn he was really coming clean to me about things he had hid) it was very very very hard. I was so very hurt as well and sobbed and sobbed. I am not hurt any more. I am glad that he came clean. He is in a different place now, and I know that that internship was one of the darkest seasons in his life. I agree w/ others. it's hard. You can and should grieve if you feel hurt. But I pray you can leave it in the past, and focus on the 25 wonderful years you had with your wife.
<3, Bunny
Just a Bunny learning everyday what it means to Love and Live Harmoniously with a Fox

But if you tame me then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world.~TLP

Mr Tom
Newbie
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2015 4:26 pm
Date of your marriage (past or future): January 8th, 1991
Gender: Male

Re: When does a relationship become exclusive?

Postby Mr Tom » Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:06 am

Thanks for the replies and various viewpoints. It's certainly been enlightening. Reading back over my post I'm somewhat embarrassed from the way I laid it all out there, but it was good to get it out. I truly appreciate the kind words. Things look brighter one day and then the next not so much. I thought that I'd have peace of mind but it's much more muddy now. I'm currently an emotional wreck. I didn't see that one coming. I still have moments where I'll go backwards several steps but overall the progress is positive. I'd like to really thank C_Brown for the suggestion of composing a letter. That helped more than anything, both for me and for her to understand what I'm feeling. I also read a book for guys explaining why I was feeling the way I do.
The cheater suppresses and the cheated on obsesses - Boy, that is the truest statement ever.

Doug_H, you were right on the nose about us not being at the same spot in our relationship. I've discovered that I was on the "discard pile" in case someone better came along for the first couple of years. I was just so naive and thought I had the fairy tale relationship. If I'd had known any of this, there is no way I would have proposed. Not changing the current status, we're still married but that spark is sure gone for me. Maybe it'll come back given time.

As our children navigate through the dating world, I believe I now have a better basis to relay on advice. My summary of the above posts is comparable to a handshake business deal. When two people agree to see only each other then there's the handshake. Either one can leave that relationship but I will impress upon our children the need to be considerate of the others feelings when parting ways. I feel that integrity is key here and will do my best to pass that along to our kids.

Thanks again for the feedback and prayers.
Last edited by Mr Tom on Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:28 am, edited 5 times in total.

User avatar
C_Brown
Fell out of ...
Posts: 1329
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:08 am
Date of your marriage (past or future): August 17th, 1984
Gender: Male

Re: When does a relationship become exclusive?

Postby C_Brown » Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:01 pm

Mr Tom,

Your feelings are real and they are valid. She was disloyal to the relationship she had with you, and is unrepentant about it. Not being engaged is not a justification for having a romp with some other guy when the two of you are exclusive, it's her way of going into denial about doing something wrong. The fact that it bothers you is evidence of the love and devotion you feel for her. While you can forgive her for it (and may already have), without her acknowledging that what she did was wrong, regretting it and trying to make amends you are left in a state where the trust is damaged and can't be sure of her devotion, and it still stings. If you didn't mean enough to her back then to have her loyalty, do you really have her loyalty now when she doesn't even feel bad about what she did?

After 25 years I think you can be fairly sure time alone will not heal this wound. If you just try and bury this and ignore it, over time it will eat you up from the inside and poison the good things you share with her. You need a reconciliation with her over this, but it is not in your control to make that happen on your own. You need to tell her what is going on inside you because of this.

Tell her how you feel betrayed, deceived, lied to, tricked, etc. Take what you posted here and go in far more detail. You may need to explain why you see her actions that falling into those categories. Do this in a letter so you can take your time, get it all said right and not get interrupted. Do not to beat her up and try and make her feel guilty, but to give her a window into your soul so she can understand what is going on inside you. Let her read it and think about it for a day or so before having a discussion about it, and don't let it get heated. Be prepared to deal with her still being in denial about having done something wrong, blame shifting and other defensive tactics. Don't go on the offense, no name calling, no accusation, just share how you feel about things and why you feel that way about it, and your desire to remove this thorn from the side of your marriage. If it starts going south, end it fast and go back to it later.

I can't promise that her eyes will open and she'll throw herself at your feel and beg your forgiveness, but hopefully it can start moving things toward a resolution or at least understanding each other better. Things may need to get messy before they be cleaned up, just don't let them get contentious.

Good luck, I'll pray for you.
So yes, I know that love is unconditional. But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable and strangely easy to mistake for loathing -- Yvaine (in the movie Stardust)


Return to “Relationship Issues”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users