There may NOT always be a desire for her. Remember, I can only speak from my own experience. I'm certainly not trying to put the worst-case scenario in your head, and just because he still thinks of her occasionally doesn't mean he does still have a desire for her. I do have lots of exes that I still "think" of, and even think about aspects of the relationship, both positive and negative (sex, things we did socially, stuff we talked about, etc.) without having any sort of desire to re-live those experiences. The case of my OP was very different in a lot of ways, and I don't mean it to be representative of how *all* WSs relate to the memory of their affair partner.
Look at it in terms of an alcoholic: yes, an alcoholic is an alcoholic (which means they can never have another drink, IMO, just like a WS should never have contact with their OP) but there are varying degrees. One alcoholic may be able to sit at a bar stool and be perfectly content with their ice water while their friend is right next to them enjoying a rum and coke, and not be tempted in the least to order one of their own. A different alcoholic, on the other hand, might not even be able to sit on the couch in their own home and watch the game if their buddy is next to them drinking a beer. Both alcoholics take the same action---not having a drink---but the atmosphere leading up to that action is different for each person: one can overcome the temptation, while the other wouldn't be able to unless he completely removed himself from the situation (or removed the situation from him).
I fall into that "second alcoholic" category. I was unable to interact with the OP in even an "innocent" way because no matter how businesslike our contact, it always led to more. Other WSs do not look at it that way. They can look at their OP every day and feel nothing. They can even talk with OP (in the context of work, for instance) and keep it professional. Is it always going to be in the back of his mind? Sure. That's just a fact, and it's a shitty consequence of the A. But it's not necessarily going to lead anywhere...I sure don't want to worry you unnecessarily.
I am also a firm, firm believer in "out of sight, out of mind." The longer he is away from her, I think the more his feelings and memories will fade. See, I was never "out of sight" of the OP. If I had been, even if down the road things worked out to where we had to see each other again, I think things might have turned out very differently. I'm not blaming the fact that I saw him at work for having an affair. There was no excuse; I should have worked harder---internally---to put him out of my mind regardless of whether I saw him or not, and if I couldn't do that I should have damn well had some strong boundaries in place to deal with the ACTIONS that resulted from those feelings. That's where I failed.
When it comes right down to it, though, that's where WSs who are doing the right thing will succeed: they will work through their feelings and choose the commitments they made on their wedding day and again on D-day OVER the fleeting inappropriate "feeling" resulting from seeing the OP.
Is your H in IC? I think that might help him really see the thoughts about the OP for what they are and show him some tools for how to work through them.
Married 2.5 years
Reconciling after divorce
I set an IC appointment for myself tomorrow. (I don't know if my H will go to IC.
It took many years for him to be willing to do MC, which we began about 3 months ago, and has been really helpful.) Your example of the alcoholic worked well for me....
True confessions, we have a poo-poo platter of issues. After years of trying to figure out why I couldn't get close to my H , I understand now that he is Passive-Agressive and emotionally unavailable. This was my experience, but now I *know* it - through research and through our counseling. It's been a huge "ah ha" experience......
While I've craved the experience of closeness, emotional intimacy, and companionship with my H, he was craving LOTS of sex -he experiences intimacy almost exclusively through sex. For him, by his own admission, if the sex is good, all's well....no need to go further...done.
So, we have alot of work to do, and while I'm honestly not sure where "we" are going, the thing I know for sure is that "I" am on a crazy, amazing path of discovery, and there's no turning back....
And I am SO grateful for having found SI.
sending my best to you....
I don't know if my H will go to IC
If your H will go to IC, that will help him a lot. Part of therapy is that it demystifies your thoughts. But if he will not go, have him try this thought experiment - if you can handle it.
Ask him what would happen if he finds out how the OW is doing. Really play it out. Suppose he called her, or found out from a mutual friend. So, the OW is single and embarking on a new career. Or maybe she got married and is pregnant. Or maybe she got laid off and is looking for a job. Whatever. So, let's assume he knows how she is doing. Does he want to call her? Suppose he does call her. They talk - it's awkward at first, it's been a long time. She has a new boyfriend or maybe she's been married awhile. Maybe she is happy to hear from your H, or maybe she's not. Play it out. And keep going.
(Make sure you do not break down in tears or pass judgment on anything he says!)
They talk and it's good. They want to meet for coffee to catch up. They set up a time, show up. She's gained a couple of pounds or she has lost a couple of pounds. She looks good or she looks bad. Whatever. They drink their coffee, catch up. The conversation is either good or bad. If it's good, they want to see each other again, just as friends. If it's bad, he's feeling crappy because they've lost that specialness. Either way, maybe they'll see each other again, just to see if the specialness can be recovered.
Do you see where I'm going? Make him play out the scenario to the very end. What happens next? What happens next? And then what happens next?
I did this once in therapy. My T asked, what would I do if I moved out into my own apartment? Would the OM come by to "visit"? I said, sure. Okay, then what happens? And you know... when I played it out to the end, it wasn't so great. I didn't want the OM to stay overnight, I didn't want to cuddle talk with him. It was just the excitement and the fantasy of it.
I wanted to stop the fantasy at the exciting part, but my T wouldn't let me. He (kindly) kept asking, and then what? And then what happens?
When you play it out to the end, it gets demystified and put in its proper place. And when it is in its proper place, he won't think back wistfully about her nor the affair anymore.
I'm still alive but I'm barely breathing
Just praying to a God that I don't believe in
'cause I got time while she got freedom
'cause when a heart breaks no it don't break ev
Mine was when my BH found out and I saw the reality of the devastation and hurt I brought upon him by having my affair. IMHO, a big problem is that it's hard to equate the infliction of emotional suffering as "real pain," because it's not bloody and there are no bones sticking out of the skin. But honestly, after seeing how badly hurt he was on D-day and afterward, I realized I might as well have just snuck up on him while he was sleeping and bashed him in the head with a sledgehammer.
It doesn't matter, though, that I am remorseful. He is divorcing me anyway.
Is she playing a game. Should this be even a tiny factor in my decision making? Or is she just speaking from guilt.
If I were in your shoes, I would be making efforts to block MOW from texting me on my cell phone. Then, I would pay attention to the actions of your SO. Only his actions will reveal if he wants to R, not any words coming from her.
Pay attention to his actions and listen to your heart. Neither will lie to you.
Should I take this as him not being serious about R and just faking the funk or am I being overly sensitive?
It could be that your WS is not making the effort needed, or it could be that the effort is tough and your WS hasn't figured out how to work his way through it.
Have you considered setting a goal for your WH? Maybe to have read Chapters 1 and 2 of "Not Just Friends" by the end of the week and be prepared to talk about his thoughts on the content? For the journal, maybe the goal is for him to list at least two non-kid/non-finance reflections each week to start? Your WH may need structure in order to develop the habit of doing the work needed in R.
Did you have an "Aha Moment" that Brought you out of the fog?
For me, it was about 5 months after D-Day. I was still foggy, though maybe a bit less than early into R. I had made some after hours calls to a work colleague who was having trouble at our company with her boss (she has since been pushed out of the company). She had been a good mentor to me, so I was returning the favor by talking through her situation.
However, she lived in the same city as xMOW. As a result, when my BW saw the cell bill and multiple calls at off hours to that city, she triggered. I had to do some scampering to prove the number was the colleague I said it was (I ultimately got her a company phone directory printout), but the pain in her expression was enough to clear the last of the fog away for me.
Did you BS 180 you?
She didn't have to. She had historically held to her word, so from the moment she told me I was to call a counselor or attorney, I knew what I had to do.
I can only tell you that the xMOW in my case played the martyr all the time. So she would be the type to suggest this, but only so that others would be drawn to her in a supportive way to tell her what a selfless person she was and how she deserved more.
The thought also occurs to me that it may be possible that MOW doesn't want to leave her M. By having your WH still married, she's "safe" from him wanting to ratchet up the intensity and try to push her to D from her BH. If you were to let your WH go, he might want something more from her that she's not prepared to give him.
How do you expect us BS to trust the WS again?
I don't care if my husband trusts me or not. That sounds bad, but really... he can check my phone, mileage, whatever. I know what I am doing and it doesn't matter if he trusts me or not.
And also is that important to the WS for us the BS to Trust you again?
It is not important to me. Of course, it is important because I would like to stay married to my husband (!), but I would never ask him to "trust me" about anything. He should ask me about anyone and anything, everyone and everything, whatever he needs. If he doesn't want to know, that's his prerogative. If he does, he should ask. That is his prerogative, too.
Things have been better between us lately, but I still think about the A constantly - maybe with breaks every 3 hours or so - I guess he doesn't realize this.
I'm thinking maybe he doesn't think it's a big deal for me to watch something like this. (I know in the past he has said he knows I will be thinking about the A anytime it comes up in the news, movies, etc for the rest of my life).
I guess I don't like that anything having to do with the A can be funny or the subject of a joke. (Not that that's exactly what happened,but I hope you know what I mean).
I guess I worry that he might not be taking the whole A thing seriously enough.
Or, maybe it's a sign that he thinks we're ok enough that he can make light of it? Idk.
I was just curious about others' experiences with this kind of thing.
I'm not good at letting out out my anger. I have a VERY bad tempter so over the years I've mentally blocked myself with breaking down and crying before I become physically violent.
So to let out some anger and pain I did an art project. Took copies of wedding photos, wedding invitation, a picture I had commissioned for this last anniversary (over 200$) of our World of Warcraft main characters. In blues I wrote my pains all over it and in reds my angers. The H was not meant to see it but did by accident.
He want's to burn it for obvious reasons. I told him the day I can truly look and him and tell him I forgive him I will give it to him to burn.
Doesn't this sound like a reasonable thing?
I'd never have spent the money on a wedding dress if I knew I was just going to a costume party.
How do you expect us BS to trust the WS again?
In short, I don't. Not in the way she used to trust me. I lost that when I had my A. I hope that she can feel an increasing sense of safety that what I tell her is true and real. And I think over time we've gotten to that. But 100% blind trust? That's gone forever.
For me it's important that Wells can feel safe in sharing her love with me. It's important that we don't have a relationship that dwells on the A, though neither of us will ever forget that it happened. It's important to me that Wells did find a way to forgive me, and it's important that I never forget the gift she gave me in both R and forgiveness.
Full trust? I don't expect it. Enough trust that the doubt doesn't prevent us from continuing to grow and develop as a happy couple delighted in each other's presence? That's what matters in the end.
Is your WH a compartmentalizer? My guess is that he doesn't link the presence of an A in entertainment (such as TV, movies or music lyrics) with HIS A. So he can go about watching the storyline and not trigger - even trying to make light of it - while you are triggering strongly.
It's probably something worth talking to him about. He needs to come to the understanding that just because he compartmentalizes it doesn't mean that you can. For R to succeed, he's going to need to gain greater awareness of how things affect you, not just him.
Is your art something you are keeping visible somewhere? If it's just tucked away he should be able to get past it until the day you feel safe enough to let him burn it.
He had to go in there because our main bathroom sink broke. like toxic fumes for 6 days trying to eat through shit in the drain bad.
I had it facing out so the acrylic paint could dry and not stain the walls.
Normally we never use that room. The toilet is off because it runs and it's LOUD. This apt building sucks for repairing anything. So under normal setting he never would have seen it. He wont go in that room because he hates it because me being in there means it's a bad day.
I think your idea sounds very reasonable.
I don't know if you have made this connection, or if it exists, but that piece of art is an expression of your pain and hurt and your WH wants to destroy it. He wants to destroy a part of you. Sorry if I am off-base, but it just seems like an underlying tone to the situation.
On a side note, when I was still a kid I made a comment about a similar type of piece that a female friend had sitting out. Just a crumpled clay figure she had made sitting on top of a piece of paper with a very painful poem that she had written. I commented that she should get rid of it, that it wasn't healthy to be reminded of that stuff. She got rid of it. I hate that I made that comment, that I suggested she not express herself in the way that was natural to her.
I think it is excellent that you can put your emotion into art, even if it is painful. I hope your WH respects that about you.