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not sure what to do

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ZoeS posted 11/8/2018 22:31 PM

Hey islesguy, I've been reading your posts for a while and I have a feeling that communication can be difficult for you. Do you feel misunderstood a lot? I'm not sure, you are actually quite hard to read.

I have a couple of observations... firstly from the outside it often seems like you are "performing". You have been told things you're supposed to do... so you try to do them, but it seems really unnatural, forced, and like you're just not able to "get it". This performance is never going to convince your BS because it's not genuine. It's not who you are. You have to get real. Whatever your real self, abilities, limits, and everything else are - you have to be extremely honest about them. If your real self isn't what she needs, be honest, ask for her help to change what you can (via intensive counselling and radical honesty) and if you can't do it, then let her find a partner who can be what she needs.

From a BS point of view, an attitude of "I'm always a failure" is unacceptable. The continuous focus on your own failure is a way to keep everything focused on you. Stop. Asking for help if you don't understand is important. If your wife needs space and time... give that to her. Babysit the kids, take them somewhere. Or hire a babysitter and take her somewhere. But probably time to herself is what she craves. Get the kids out of the house. Get it cleaned by a professional cleaner. If your wife is trying to be healthier ask her what you can do to support her - does she want to go to fitness classes? Have more time to prepare healthier meals? Have time to meditate? Ask her how you can make her day better. Don't burden her with your self pity.

It seems like most of your posts are about how you let your BW down, continuously. What can you do to change this? Mostly your posts seem vague about how this is happening. Do you even understand it? Can you explain it in explicit detail to us? If you can't, you need to understand so ask her or take the time to evaluate it for yourself. If you do already, then sit down and make a plan, in writing, about what you can do to address the issues. Give yourself daily and weekly goals and tasks. And do them. It's your responsibility. Not hers. Not ours. A very important part of relationships is managing expectations. Don't over promise and under deliver. Tell her honestly what you can do, today, tomorrow, this week, this month, this year. Growing takes a lot of time and effort, and you can only do it step by step. But if you want to do it, it's all in your hands. Your wife would not be talking to you if she didn't care about you. If you want to save your life, then DO IT. If you only want to talk about it and pretend you want to fix it, then stop wasting her time. I sincerely wish you all the best and hope you can figure this out.

islesguy posted 11/8/2018 22:33 PM


How old are your kids? If I remember correctly, you have like 3 or 4 and one is on the spectrum, so I don't know how much you can deviate from your normal routine, but can you order pizza or takeout for the kids on Saturday nights? Can you do bath and bedtime for them all? Can you take care of everything your wife normally does, without asking for advice or instructions for the evening so she can just sit in her bedroom and do whatever she wants? Just pretend she's not there and give her some alone time?

My son on the spectrum is 3 and I have 3 daughters from 9-14. I already do all of the things you mentioned everyday so that isn't the issue, those are just being a father which is something that I have only been for the last 5 years.

If she's not a fan of spas, what IS she a fan of?
I can't think of anything, all of this has really sucked the life out of her.

islesguy posted 11/8/2018 22:57 PM


Are you happy? Is she happy? Do you foresee happiness together, ever?

I didn't purposely ignore your questions. They just got lost in the thread. No, I am not happy because I feel like a complete failure all the time. No, she isn't happy at all because of one let down after another. I don't know if there can be happiness together. There are plenty of times when we have fun moments together but there is just so much damage that I have caused.

islesguy posted 11/8/2018 23:44 PM


Do you feel misunderstood a lot?
Yes, constantly.

I have a couple of observations... firstly from the outside it often seems like you are "performing"
I can understand why you would feel this way as I have always felt like I am trying to guess what I am supposed to do. What is real, I don't know, I have been a chameleon all my life just trying to be what I believe the audience in front of me is expecting. The difference is that my wife understands this about me and calls me out on it now. The real me is a mess that I am embarrassed by.

Mostly your posts seem vague about how this is happening. Do you even understand it? Can you explain it in explicit detail to us?
I understand it but always after it has already happened. I know I don't understand it because if I was to write out a lost of goals, it would have included the things that I know now weren't helpful things. Also, I did provide a description of what happened with the Saturday night failures in this thread.

My BS has time for whatever she needs so that isn't whats it is about. She wants to be left alone because she doesn't want to be around me.

OrdinaryMuse posted 11/8/2018 23:48 PM

islesguy, I want to echo what ZoeS said in response to your post.

Your comments are a confusing mix of self-deprecation and defensiveness. On the one hand, you are saying that you messed up, but then on the other, you keep talking about your BS's expectations and also being surprised by her disappointment as though it was totally unwarranted.

When you tout what you have done and then express being a failure it is often a sign of needing validation. This is not genuine and I imagine your BS senses this. When you then go on to express that you will never be good enough/ live up to her expectations, it is blaming.

It seems that you are being very self-focused. Your actions of engagement are about you, you want validation (Rescuer: See below). The fallout becomes about you, you are miserable with "being a failure" (Victim). and then the reasons are about you, as you can never live up to her expectations (Persecutor).

That is a lot to put on your BS. And means that you have some patterns of belief and thinking that are erroneous. So, focus on where this faulty belief system comes from and how to shift it.

I recommend you look up the karpman drama triangle. There are three roles that people often play out in cycles like this. Victim, rescuer, and persecutor. Often rotating through all three. My WH and I have found it very helpful in understanding what is happening in our own relationship. In reality, all three are a form of acting like a victim/martyr and are a sign that something needs to disrupt the cycle. Your BS is trying to do that by cutting off contact. Dig in and help by doing your own work and disrupting your cycle.

OrdinaryMuse posted 11/8/2018 23:55 PM

She wants to be left alone because she doesn't want to be around me.

Would she give this as the main reason for space? She just doesn't want to be around you? Or is it a reflection of how you feel?

free2016 posted 11/9/2018 03:04 AM

My advice would be to learn handling your wife's anger and, more importantly, what hides behind the anger, her pain. It is inevitable that it would come out every time you communicate and get closer emotionally, for a very long time, given the length of your infidelity.

I've noticed that you get completely overwhelmed by her emotions and that impede her healing. You are basically falling apart and drown in shame when she lashes at you, while she expects that you will comfort her. She does not want you to hide from her pain behind the shame or learned helplessness.
In these moments, woman is like a river that is about to flood. She cant stop the flow, the energy behind it is huge but she needs strong and reliable banks to hold her, that would not let her to flow over and flood everything around, which is the last thing she wants herself.

Let her release her pain and anger, take it as a man, do not complain, do not look miserable or depressed. Drop expectations that one or ten special events would fix it.
She got an emotional trauma and the healing comes through the release of the bottled emotions. By reacting with shame and depression to her outbursts, you force her to suppress her emotions back and no healing happening, and this cycle could go on forever until one of you get completely exhausted.

free2016 posted 11/9/2018 03:04 AM


[This message edited by free2016 at 5:51 PM, December 15th (Saturday)]

islesguy posted 11/9/2018 09:16 AM


you keep talking about your BS's expectations and also being surprised by her disappointment as though it was totally unwarranted.

I am not surprised by her disappointment, I am just often surprised that I didn't see it coming.

When you tout what you have done and then express being a failure it is often a sign of needing validation.

It kills me that I never get a reaction from her with anything because I am someone who needs validation or even an immediate negative reaction. But, not getting any reaction leaves me feeling confused and assuming no news is good news. But then when they come out later that something was hurtful or just didn't mean anything it is very disheartening and I just feel stupid for not seeing it beforehand.

I also agree with you that I strive to be the rescuer in so many areas of my life but never have been for my BS. I know that I fall into the victim role and get depressed because of not being the rescuer. I am not sure how to change these feelings but I will look up the karpman drama triangle.

islesguy posted 11/9/2018 09:22 AM


She just doesn't want to be around you?

I have shown her no reason for her to give me her time and any time she spends with me just winds up with her getting upset, frustrated, and angry. She specifically asked me not to bother her through email or in person.

islesguy posted 11/9/2018 09:27 AM


I don't understand how to react to her anger. I have in two different ways and both have been hurtful. Either I get defensive which I know is the worst thing I could do or I say nothing because I am feeling shameful which also angers her. I have tried reflecting back to her how I would be feeling if roles were reversed but that didn't see to help either. When you say take it like a man, what would you expect to see?

Morph posted 11/9/2018 10:33 AM

Hi Isleguy,
I agree with people that you and your BS appear to be stuck. It seems like you try but itís never enough or you fail. It may just be a deal breaker for her. I donít know. I know it is not your place to tell her to get help, but it sounds like she could really use it. Still, thatís something she will need to come to without you.

I think your situation was similar to mine and my WH, and I feel like we are further along the R path. Iím trying to think what is different in the approaches. I donít know how much it will help because our changes are driven by me as the BS, so I donít know if it will work if driven by the WH.

My suggestion is that you think about the type of life your BH wanted. I know she wanted a faithful H, but what else? For example, we live near my WHís parents. I was good with this before the A, but now I see so many problems with them. So, weíve made some changes, big and small. We do not spend every holiday with them anymore. But we also decided to spend the summer near my family across the country. I have LOVED being where I grew up, sharing it with my kids, and seeing my parents (and my parents with their grandkids). Honestly, if I could have had a faithful H, I would have given it all up, but it has been truly wonderful.

So, what did your wife give up (probably willingly) to marry you? Have you been listening? If you could show her you see/saw her and paid attention it might matter. Did she want to live somewhere? Pursue a career or a hobby? It may not be something you can do tomorrow, but someday? What can you do today to make it happen? It may mean you give up something, and probably should. Life is choices. With almost every choice there is good and bad. Maybe you move and miss friends, but you also gain experience and new friends. I think it should be something fundamental, not just a trip or purchase. Something that changes your daily lives. Maybe she pursues a hobby/job. Works out everyday or takes a class. Maybe she has a room dedicated to painting, sewing, scrapbooking. Maybe you move. Maybe you travel for a year. Maybe you take annual trips. It should be something that she gave up or assumed she did when she married you. Everyone gives up something.

Morph posted 11/9/2018 10:53 AM

I wanted to add a little more. You said you made an ornament for each day of December. My reaction to that as a BW is, you cheated and I got 25 damn ornaments?!? My dad actually did donething similar when I was a kid. He wrote a poem to my mom for each Xmas gift. My brother and I thought it was sweet, if a bit misguided if you know my mom. My mom hated it. We thought my mom was a jerk and hard on my dad who was ďtryingĒ, but I now know my dad had an EA (donít know the timing, but Iíd bet it lined up with that Xmas). I truly canít believe how life repeats itself.

Anyway, I think you (and your BW) need to focus on what would make her life better. I gave on example in my previous post, but another is that I love cats and pets generally, but my WH grew up with none and said he doesnít like pets, so I assumed that my 2 cats would be my last, and i was okay with that. Well, not anymore! Each of my kids has a cat now! Our home is awesome with them, and even WH loves our ďtherapyĒ cats.. I just feel like Iím going to do what will make me happy and healthy, and WH can come along for the ride.

islesguy posted 11/9/2018 11:56 AM


It seems like you try but itís never enough or you fail. It may just be a deal breaker for her.

Whatever I have tried to do has been reactionary to her and I have been very sporadic, lazy, and complacent so I wouldn't use the term try. It was a deal breaker, I know it was, II was just hoping she would change her mind, but I have done nothing to help and only solidified it over the past 7 years.

So, what did your wife give up (probably willingly) to marry you? Have you been listening?

The only thing she wanted was a faithful husband and a stable family for our children and that is gone. She gave up the opportunity for a man who would have been that man and she has said this to me many times. She hasn't told me anything she wants materialistically (that is not her thing), except for me to be different than how I have been and show her that she matters and be helpful to her.

islesguy posted 11/9/2018 12:00 PM


My reaction to that as a BW is, you cheated and I got 25 damn ornaments?!?

I totally get this and would probably feel the same way. I know what she needs from me is a complete life change showing her that she is always first with everything and that nothing matters more to me than her, which is absolutely true. I just don't understand how to demonstrate this to her which is why I brought up the ornament thing. I get that it is pathetic in the big picture but at the time that was my best idea.

Morph posted 11/9/2018 13:28 PM

You sound very defeatist. I get that as much as anyone who is not that way because my WH is the same way. Honestly, itís so tiring. Canít cant canít....blah blah blah....

I get that the only thing your wife really wanted from life was a faithful husband. I am/was that way. This is where your wife needs help that you cannot give. She needs to accept and live the best life she can. I too find the most joy in my family and a faithful WH is an important ingredient to that. I could give up so much as long as I have my family. I see horrible things in this world and my response is to appreciate what I have more. I donít know how some people bear the horrors in their lives, and for the life of me I canít understand why anyone would invite that in.

Anyway, while I get all of that, your wife surely had dreams or things sheíd have liked to do if she had a different life or married a different man. Did she have any interests that you didnít share that maybe she eventually dropped? Maybe things she tried to share with you but you werenít interested? Is there something she says sheíll do when she retires. Why not now? Are there things she would do (or do more of) for the kids if she could? Iím not talking material things. Material things are not real change. You need to fundamentally change you, starting with the defeatist attitude, but think about fundamentally changing your lives. Show her that you know her and have been paying attention by finding room (likely at your cost) for something that MAKES HER LIFE BETTER/RICHER/FULLER/MORE REWARDING. You canít change what youíve done, but maybe you can help to make her life better. Are there things she wants to do that you say that canít happen because blah blah blah. Stop with the canít. Maybe youíll fail, but you wonít succeed if you donít even try.

HTD2015 posted 11/9/2018 14:51 PM

You sound like you are depressed. Have you spoken to your therapist about depression? If so, are you doing anything about it?

islesguy posted 11/9/2018 23:48 PM


I am sure that I am depressed but I am not in therapy at this time.

islesguy posted 11/9/2018 23:50 PM



I want this very badly, but I am not sure what would accomplish this. It isn't that I am defeatist, I just don't understand what I could do to make her life more rewarding. Perhaps it is that I haven't been listening or it could be that nothing else really matters to her anymore.

[This message edited by islesguy at 11:52 PM, November 9th (Friday)]

hopeandhealing posted 11/10/2018 01:33 AM


I am not convinced you and your BW are working towards the same goals which is never going to result in success. You can do everything right and if she is not going to be receptive/open herself up to R/be vulnerable, then your efforts are futile and are going to fall flat time and time again.

As a BS, I have not doubt it is difficult for a WS to "read" what it is we "need" at any given moment...even living in it, I barely knew what I wanted and sometimes it changed like the wind. I would be looking forward to an evening with my WH and then poof, I didn't want anything to do with him. It truly was a roller coaster.

That said, the roller coaster does even out with time and if the r/s is going to have any chance of improving, you both need to come to the table, you with your efforts to help her heal and her with an openness to healing and moving forward, so she can be whole again whether that is with or without you.

I can't recall what therapy you have both been in, but it sounds like communication or lack thereof, remains fundamental. You say, you don't know what she wants...ask her! What I hear her saying (based on your comments), is she wants to be left alone. I too said this sometimes, but I really didn't want to be left alone....which is where it obviously gets tricky, as my WH is not a mind reader and I would get mad at him when he didn't get it right. Our MC told me, "it is not fair of you to expect him to read your mind, if you want something, ask for it". I have and it has made things much less frustrating for both of us.

Ask your BW to be honest with you about what she wants, saying you need some guidance from her to help you understand what it is she needs. if she says, to be left alone, then do it; however, if that continues to be the answer, then I think you have to ask yourselves why you're both still in the M. If it's only for the kids, then have some dialogue about that, decide if that is good enough for both of you.

I remember my WH saying to me once that he too could ultimately decide the M is not for him and decide to go. I was furious after all he had put me through and my efforts to heal and stay in the M that he dare even have that thought cross his mind. It made me less vulnerable for awhile, as I felt afraid of getting hurt again...but of course it's true. Either of you can decide this isn't good enough and pull the plug. If you are doing all you are saying you are doing and your BW is not responding, it may just be that this is a deal breaker for her and she just doesn't have the strength to call the code or she has her reasons for staying, but they don't really include nurturing any sort of relationship with you.

Unfortunately, life doesn't come with a crystal ball to know what the future holds, but we can certainly see our past misdeeds clearly. I know you have hurt your wife well beyond your realm of comprehension, as I don't believe any WS, even the most remorseful ones, truly understands the palpable pain we as BS feel. All you can do is become the best human being you can be, not for her, but to fix your own brokenness that allowed you to make the choices you did. You can't actually heal your BW, that unfortunately is in her hands, though it can be supported and buoyed up by your actions. I hope she gets there and finds happiness again, for her own being.

Good luck to you.

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