That understanding is SO essential for reconciliation. Without being able to move past some of these demons that can NEVER be quelled it’s simply impossible to move forward. I read posts here about people who simply cannot put the demons in their place – they are stuck on details of the affair that preclude reconciliation, let alone forgiveness. I feel awful for them and often want to scream at my computer screen, “If you can’t let go, move on!”
That ability doesn’t come quickly – or easily, btw. In the first months I was paralyzed with shame, anger, hurt. I couldn’t contain the rage that dragged out question after question, insult after insult.
But, you know what? With time I came to realize that this person who sat beside me on the couch, taking it all on the chin, tears streaming down her face due to her own personal shame and humiliation, was truly sorry for what she had done. I realized that her guilt was as overwhelming as my loss. I realized that continuing the interrogation no longer mattered. It no longer brought me peace. It just hurt… both of us.
It takes two to reconcile. It takes a spouse who is truly remorseful, who understands the depth of the pain he/she has caused and is willing to take any steps necessary to remedy their choices.
You need me to stop seeing certain friends? Ok. You need me to answer questions? Here are the answers. You need me to stop drinking? I’m signing up for AA. You need me to learn to communicate better? I’ll make the IC appointment. You need me to change jobs? I’m already looking.
There are so many posters here, desperate to be truly reconciling, with a WS who is, what I call, RB – “reconciling but…” The husband who wants to hold onto his marriage BUT he won’t leave his job where the OW works. The wife who wants to stay together for the kids BUT won’t follow through with IC to address her self-esteem issues. Reconciliation means putting your betrayed spouse before EVERYTHING else so that they, and you, can heal.
Reconciliation requires two people to truly be able to recognize the depth of the betrayal but also be willing to look past it toward a better future. To be, as my wife eloquently wrote me, “on the other side of awful.”
I firmly believe that while the logistics surrounding reconciliation require some time to work out, it’s pretty clear early on who is a candidate and who is not. As I’ve said in the past, it’s not all that difficult to look into the eyes of a husband or wife (someone who, after all, you know better than anyone) and see if they’re “all in” or not.
Is your spouse “all in?” Or are they still “reconciling but…?” If they’re all in – help them. Give them the opportunity to make amends and recreate your marriage. Make the choice to move past the hurt and give yourself a chance to live again.
As for us? We’re at a place where we’ve never been before. It’s a wonderful spot – with the type of love, passion and support that I’ve looked for my entire life. Difficulties remain. Sadness can still overcome me. I have occasional bouts of anger. But they’re controlled, by myself and within reason. The affair doesn’t run my life anymore. I do.
I hope it no longer runs yours.
We are at 11 months and currently in a similar place, with a relationship that I did not dream my H was capable of. He has asked me to hold him to a higher standard, and I do. In turn, I rarely feel the need to bring up the LTA anymore. I still think of it every day, in fact many times, but the thoughts are more fleeting and do not bring me down. Sometimes I follow the thought for a few minutes, more often I try to let it go. This morning I had a minor epiphany (that I will likely share later) but short of those kinds of things it is no longer a topic of conversation.
My H told me today that he is so much happier than he has every been and he has me to thank for it.
So, yes, at least for now, it is possible!
[This message edited by rachelc at 2:30 PM, August 22nd (Thursday)]
me (WW/BS): 48
4 kiddos in mid 20's
It takes as long as it takes for the BS to become comfortable with the answers that they have to recognize that the questions are just going to cause more hurt and the answers don't matter anyway. I remember the very question that I realized this. I was going to ask my H if the OW's had "freshened" up before he showed up to visit them. Why did I want to know that? It would only disgust me if they didn't, and make me angry if they did (for whatever reason). So I decided at that moment, with that question, to let it go. But it took a long time, and countless questions and answers to get to that point.
And you are absolutely correct, if the WS isn't all in, don't waste your time. There is not much in life that is more difficult than dragging a dead horse around behind you trying to get it to stand up and let you ride again. We can't MAKE our WS's want to R, they have to want to on their own. The successful ones not only want to R, they also want to heal themselves. That's the important part.
He could be right. He'll never know. But I am me and he is who he is. I will handle this the best way I can. He did this to a woman who handles like I do.
My WH is doing just about everything he can to show his remorse, try to make me feel better, and keep our family together. That still doesn't stop me from wondering if he is operating out of fear right now, and once the fear is gone he'll slip back into his old habits?...
"One is not tempted by that he does not want."
For me I have noticed a telltale sign of my wife's dedication to reconciliation. In speaking with her, being with her, sharing with her... there is truly a level of self-disgust in her own behavior. It is clear that she is embarrassed about what she did and she actively tries to distance herself, mentally, from the person she used to be.
Part of it, I believe, is a sense of shame as it pertains to her children (who know). I think that she can't believe that she set such a poor example and has taken steps to ensure that she is a better role model for them.
Whenever I "wonder" about whether she might ever do it again I stop for a moment and think, "Would this person risk the lifetime brand from her kids in order to pursue another affair? Would she stamp her own conscious with the knowledge of being a repeat offender?" In the deepest recess of my heart I recognize that the answer is no.
And you know what? If I'm just blind and it were to happen I'm so much more secure in myself and confident in my ability to move on that I'm perfectly ok with it. She no longer holds the capacity to crush me emotionally. I hold that spade.
The deep down sense of remorse, the guilt and shame that is so evident in my wife's eyes, is the glue that holds together our recovery. In combination with her own personal work, our improved communications skills, a new zest for the future together, AND MY ABILITY TO MOVE PAST THE AFFAIR, makes me confident for our future.
I hope the same becomes true for you.