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BS Questions for WS's - Part 13

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mike7 posted 5/11/2019 07:41 AM

Thank you for your responses (BraveSirRobin, hikingout, and godheals), I appreciate it. I think that you're right. I realize that we're all different. I wish you the best in your path of reconciliation. Hopefully no setbacks.

Darkness Falls - Thank you. I'm good. Will be leaving Iraq in September. Looking forward to that. I have followed your posts and I believe you have a couple of little people now. Congratulations!

Lucky77 posted 5/11/2019 08:43 AM

Hi Lorisa,

Here’s big hug for starters. Sorry you have to eat this shit sandwich your adulterer H handed you.

I had an LTA with an office coworker. I actually don’t embrace the term “LTA” much. For me it was like hundreds and hundreds of one day long affairs. There’s no plan. No direction. You don’t consciously know that you’re A will last for years. There’s this underlying understanding that it’s all going to come crashing down someday……just a question of when.

My AP and I were in similar circumstances with very long marriages with kids in varying stages of leaving home. For me that was an issue…..seeing the kids fly away. We were each other’s “side pieces”. That was OK. In this day and age of cell phones carrying on a secret A was easy so we were in regular touch………constantly.

I just mistakenly viewed my A as additive to my life. Of course two is better than one…..two is always better than one I thought. I was a master compartmentalizer…….I could give off affection in any direction anytime. I was so cocky. The fact that I was pulling off having a side piece gave me a big, sick smirk of pride. I was soooooo damned sneaky with my secret phone use and my lies about business trips. Wow what a liar I was. I am lucky on one hand and forever haunted on the other.

My LTA slowly advanced like the death by a thousand cuts……a slow-like-molasses advancing through stages of EA into PA.

My bet is that you fight the power imbalance of him carrying on the secret LTA while you were the unknowing good wife. My tip for you would be to think about getting yourself a little tattoo. Really. Reclaim a little power. Have it be a symbol that speaks to you and that gives you some of that power back.

maise posted 5/11/2019 17:15 PM

hikingout,

Thank you for your very well worded response. It was very clear and insightful. I agree, there's no way wife loved me during. I've actually said that to her before. None of what she did was loving . I see few changes in her now but as you mentioned - it does seem like it's barely starting and slowly progressing.

Darkness Falls posted 5/14/2019 16:19 PM

Yes, Mike, we have two tinys now. Both girls. 💗

I’m glad you’re coming home soon. As always, thanks for your service and God bless all y’all overseas.

NewToHell posted 5/18/2019 14:14 PM

Waywards, what kinds of sexual difficulties did you have after your affair ended ? what kinds of sexual difficulties did your BS have after your affair ended ? Did you ever trigger and flood full of negative emotions during sex ?

[This message edited by NewToHell at 3:08 PM, May 18th (Saturday)]

MoreThanBroken posted 5/25/2019 09:16 AM

I have some questions that I hope some WS would help clarify for me.
I feel like one of areas of my R is that my WW doesn't seem to want to do things that she disagrees with, if she doesn't find it helpful, she either doesn't do it or does it but it's insincere and disingenuous.

How did you tackle actions that you disagreed with?

I know one of my struggles is hearing my wife's opinions, but they come off as defensive and oppositional. I want her to share the same opinions (affair related) that I have, but I feel that she doesn't empathize with me and therefore can't understand how I feel and why my opinions are shaped the way they are. I know she's regretful, she shows remorse, but there seems to be struggle for empathy.

How did/do you show your BS empathy? Examples would be helpful.

Also, did you feel that your opinions didn't matter, or did you feel like your BS listened to you?

Barregirl posted 5/25/2019 10:14 AM

Morethanbroken, two people will rarely share the exact same opinions of things. They may come close, they may be miles apart. Empathy is not about agreeing with everything you say, it is about understanding why you feel the way you do. You are right, she will never experience what you feel, but if she is making the attempt to understand, to put herself where you are (without actually knowing), will that be enough?

My H and I share many opinions, but not all. We are currently disagreeing over his feelings about his job. I truly try to understand how he feels, but his near-constant venting about all aspects of his job leads me to believe that he isn't fond of it. He says he honestly likes what he does, and his venting doesn't mean he doesn't like it. So I listen, try to help him come up with solutions to handle the situations he vents about, and just tey to suppoet him. But deep down I don't get it. So I know that it isn't infidelity-related, but as an example of differences if opinion it seemed to me to fit.
When you say her opinions seem defensive and oppositional, how? And is it because they are in opposition to yours? Is she saying things like "cheating's not wrong" or "you shouldn't care if I cheated"? It's hard to know if her opinions are lacking empathy or just not the same as yours without knowing what they are.

My opinion on if a WS opinions matter is this. If you are in recovery, thry matter less. If you are sincerely attempting to R your M, then they have to matter. If you two are attempting to build a new M, it has to be one you both want. Otherwise you will find resentment taking over. Compromise is an important component, but it can't be all about what the BS wants. If you are still in limbo, then again, I think it's more about the BS deciding what's important to them. But the minute you decide you are all in to R, then why would you not want your spouse's opinions, wants, and needs to matter?

On a side note, you have said in numerous threads that you feel that your WW lacks true empathy. What does true empathy look like to you and have you ever described it to your wife so that she is aware of your expectations?

MoreThanBroken posted 5/25/2019 11:00 AM

Barregirl,
yes we have talked many times at what I expect, then at later times, when I ask if she knows what I expect, the answer is often no. I think she believes she understands and then as time goes on she comes to the conclusion that she doesn't. I've asked her to ask more questions to have clarity, but I can understand that you don't ask for clarity when you think you have it.
I'll give you an example of what I mean by defensive and oppositional. We recently purchased a workbook at the suggestion of an SIer, as I went through the first chapter I had two concerns, 1) the co-authors were both female (I've learned that female authors often struggle to identify with Males, how figure right?) and that the book is not infidelity related (not an issue of sorts, but I made the comment that general self help books aren't always helpful with infidelity and that we should be cautious as we move through it). Her immediate response was that this book has help plenty of people and that the authors obviously understood the subject matter. This turned into an all out argument.
All I wanted was her to say, "I can understand your concerns, I still think it's worth going through, but I want you to feel comfortable."
I suppose more than anything is I want my feelings to be considered. As for listening to hers...I don't know if i can when my are so readily and often pushed to the side. I'm not all in and this is the biggest reason why. I want to be all in, I want to be able to listen to her opinions without getting upset or feeling like I've once again been discarded. I guess I'm just not there.

ff4152 posted 5/25/2019 13:55 PM

MTB

One of the things that helped me empathize with my wife is trying to see things from her perspective. Whether we are in a discussion or not, I often try to imagine how I would feel if I was in my wife’s shoes. As an example, my wife would do the lions share of the laundry. All while I’m sitting on my ass or doing something else when I should be helping. More often than not, my wife would never say anything and just do it. Well that’s pretty unfair to her and I know it. More importantly, I can feel it.

Obviously that’s a very simple example but I think you get my point.

BraveSirRobin posted 5/25/2019 17:03 PM

Wall of text coming, sorry.

I think one of the toughest and yet most necessary efforts of true R is the ability to be vulnerable to each other. It's clear why vulnerability is such a huge thing to ask of a BS. They've been blindsided by an attack from the person they loved and trusted most in the world. Their primal self-preservation instinct kicks in to tell them that their survival depends on not opening themselves back up to that kind of attack. Before you trust again, you need substantial evidence that exposing your soft underbelly will not just result in further evisceration. If you've been the victim of TT, as many (most?) BS on SI have, this is even harder; every instinct screams that you're launching back onto the path that will destroy whatever is left of you. Some BS stop and turn around there, because they know that path holds nothing for them, and D is inevitable. My BH found himself in the other situation, one that is common here on SI: he believed that the path, while dangerous as fuck, was worth the risk and that the marriage he wanted could be at the end of it. He took the massive, post-TT risk of seeing where it would lead.

Here's the other side of the equation, though, and it's a hard one to present in a way that doesn't sound entitled. For R to succeed, a WS has to make themselves vulnerable, too, and that is something that most waywards deeply suck at. If we had any natural ability at it, we wouldn't BE wayward. We'd have confronted our FOO and our insecurities and our marital problems in a mature and healthy way. Instead, our instinct is to protect our underbelly as defensively, and even viciously, as any wounded BS. That's what I mean when I talk about "the work." It's not to find excuses and justifications for what I've done; few WS have to work to find those. We always have a full quiver of those arrows at the ready. It's to face what makes us defensive: to learn why we respond to legitimate fear, anger and criticism from the BS by lying, hiding, running, and yes, turning to fight.

So here you have two people attempting recovery. At the outset, any WS should be able to see that they created this mess, and their needs are not deserving of the same level of concern and care as those of the partner they grievously wounded. Some are better at recognizing this than others. Some, and I am ashamed to say that I was in this group, are so foggy and entitled that they put their needs on par with those of the BS. WS in that state are toxic, and there's a big debate on Wayward right now about how to reach them and help them get their heads out of their asses. My heart goes out to any BS who is dealing with a WS like I was after D-Day 1.

But there is a caveat... I'm not sure my BH would have the truly remorseful partner in R that I am trying to be now if he hadn't recognized that vulnerability was an effort from my side, too. He fostered it when he saw it, and that helped it grow. I get how much that sucks. Both your sense of justice and your sense of self-preservation may be repulsed at the idea. And it's such a hard balance to achieve. Both my BH and I wish he had done the 180 to (metaphorically) slap some sense into me after D-Day. He'd have been far less traumatized. But after that, would I have had what it took to stay vulnerable under ongoing reprisals? I don't know. Self-preservation cuts both ways. If you've resisted vulnerability all your life, you won't give yourself many chances at it before you give up.

I can't pretend to know what Sayuwontletgo is feeling when you argued about those workbooks. You feel that she's dismissing your feelings, and you could be right. I guess my question is what's lying underneath. Is it real hostility, or is it fear in disguise? Is it "I thought this would be a good answer and helpful, and I got my hopes up that this was a way to show remorse, and now yet again, I'm finding I was wrong." From there, it's a short path of wayward restructuring of the message. "This didn't work = I fucked up = I'm a fuckup = Why am I always such a fuckup? = He always makes me feel like a fuckup! = Well, fuck him, too."

Is it fair? Not at all. Is it something that she needs help to overcome? Probably. Is THAT fair? No. But it is, in all likelihood, the best path to success if you can get past the balance sheet and try to believe in each other's good intentions. To find that vulnerability and foster the idea that it was not safe to feel that way before, but you will try to make it safe for each other now.

It is scary as hell, I know. But every time both of you play out the dynamic you describe, the pattern of mistrust and fatalism hardens, and the vulnerability you both need fades farther and farther out of reach.

MoreThanBroken posted 5/25/2019 18:29 PM

FF,
That's how I see empathy as well, I'm going to assume that understanding your wife's burden, you've made the choice to now help out, not because you want to do the chore, but because you want to help your wife.

BSR,
So you believe that the root of understanding, the root of empathy is vulnerability? That's an interesting way to put it. While my WW didn't TT me, she lied to my face every day for 7 years and had no intentions of telling me. It makes it hard to be vulnerable with someone who had no problem lying that often, that much and with that type of malice. I'm sure that her vulnerability (or really the lack there of) has a lot to do with how she's been treated by men in her past, how I treated her as my wife. I can certainly understand the trepidation for someone who doesn't feel like they can be vulnerable because they don't feel like they're being heard or listened to, this makes it hard for someone to be able to empathize in general and perhaps then feels the need to constantly defend.
Your statement about defensiveness being due to fear strikes home for me, I know one of the things I've looked at myself more recently is just why I feel the need to be defensive and it's definitely a fear around the marriage - not being heard, not having a voice, not feeling important. As for my wife, I don't know, we've talked about being defensive for a while now and based on her search history on her phone and her youtube history, I would say she's watched a few podcasts and has written nothing about it, other than admitting to a few people that she is defensive. One of our last conversations is that she doesn't realize or hear herself being defensive. So on that front, not a lot progress has been made. It's sincerely hard to believe in good intentions when you don't see the progress you hope for, when you don't see the change that you want (or need).
I appreciate the feedback, it sounds like for my own things to work on is to give more benefit of the doubt that her intentions are good and try to be vulnerable and cultivate when she's being vulnerable with me (something I can admit I haven't done).

BraveSirRobin posted 5/25/2019 22:09 PM

I also want to clarify that when I talk about fostering vulnerability, she needs to be doing the lion's share of that work. A 7-year A creates an enormous deficit in trust. She should be active in IC to figure out and address her why's, not expecting you to figure it out for her.

And I don't mean that this is a warm and fuzzy process, either. It takes a lot of deep breaths and regrouping. Here's an example from seven months ago, when we were in the heart of my TT after D-Day 2. BH needed to know all the sexual and emotional details that I had lied and minimized after D-Day 1. I had admitted to sex but made it sound like a brief event. He rugswept but knew in his heart that the night I described didn't align with the level of attachment I showed for OM. BH knew that I was struggling to get it all out, and that pain and fear and self-delusion were in my way. He would have absolutely been within his rights to scream at me and call me names and tell me to pack my bags if I didn't come clean RIGHT NOW. He didn't. He recognized that I couldn't undo the past, but I was trying to make amends with truths that he could only get from me. And so he was as restrained as possible, partly to spare me grief and partly to draw out those missing facts before I shut down. He told me that what I confessed aligned with what he had thought, and that we would be okay.

The next morning, when I asked how he was doing, he informed me that we were SO NOT OK. The implications of my confession had sunk in, the shock was wearing off, and pain, anger and bitterness were replacing it. This is where it was my turn to hold myself together. If I had gotten defensive, things would have escalated fast. But because I genuinely remorseful, I fully expected this reaction. I knew that he had been doing his best to hold his temper, that reality hadn't hit yet, and now I had to help him process the fallout. It was my turn to put my emotions on hold.

Seven months in, we really feel the way we were just trying to feel back then. My honesty comes naturally to me. His compassion comes naturally to him. Trust is rebuilding. Emotions flow freely, and nothing gets put on hold anymore.

hikingout posted 5/28/2019 15:40 PM

Morethanbroken,

I think it sounds like you got a lot of what you were looking for from Bravesirrobin.

I will add a few things.

One, I think you (and maybe her, I don't know I can't tell from your post) are catastrophizing when you don't agree on something. Look that up, it's a common form of distorted thinking. You see it as an all or nothing, or a sign that you should not continue. It puts a bigger emphasis on disgreements, and because it has such an emotionally loaded back layer it blocks further connection from occurring not just for that day and time but for days and days after. Most of the time when you point something out, it seems like it's held up as evidence that this is just not working and it's not going to work. I notice this in a lot of the posts.


I used to think that you guys fought to be right. And that might be still a correct assumption. Reminds me of when Dr. Phil used to say "do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?" But, I have watched a pattern form where you have one disappointment and it becomes days long time of you and her feeling terrible.

Now, with all that said, it's easy to understand where it comes from. Obviously, you have been tramatized. She had a 3 year LTA, and then withheld the information for years after. Seemingly during that time, you describe it as the best your marriage had ever been. So, it's not hard to understand that shook you to the core to find out that might have been based off of guilt or trying to rectify her decisions when it could not be rectified by hiding it.


So, I get where it comes from. And, to boot you all have done most of this after healing with no professional help.


I overall concur with Bravesirrobin - what you are doing isn't working, it hasn't worked, and it keeps you in a state of limbo. I think at some point you have to decide that you are reconciling or not reconciling, and if it's reconciling (which to me it always sounds like it more is than isn't) then you do need to figure out if you can try and get more vulnerable. Instead of a fight here, you could have just said what you wanted - which was to be reassured that you could stop any time if you felt uncomfortable. If she was still insensitive then that's another matter. Communication continues to be the biggest barrier between the two of you. You both have to decide to do that better, and I definitely think Bravesirrobin nailed it with the lack of vulnerability explanation.

hikingout posted 5/28/2019 15:40 PM

Oh, and Rising Strong by Brene Brown is a good one to read on vulnerability.

fooled13years posted 6/6/2019 15:52 PM

This last weekend our family was at the park when a dog was running straight for where the children were playing. All of us parents who were close enough or quick enough placed ourselves between the children and the dog. The owner finally caught up to the dog and it turned out to be one of the friendliest dogs I have ever met. Champ, the dog played with the kids until the owner was ready to leave. All the parents, in one form or another, stated that they would have laid down their lives to protect the children. Even those that were not theirs.
There are so many accounts of infidelity that include families with children. My question to WS who have children and WS whose AP have children is this; did you have the parental instinct to protect the children before the A? Were they considered during the A? If you lost the parental instinct during the A was it recaptured after ending the A, being caught or confessing? Being a parent I am trying to wrap my head around this dynamic.

ff4152 posted 6/6/2019 16:26 PM

Fooled

Could you quantify that? I have and always would, take a bullet for my child. I’ve had to put myself in front of a dog that was about to attack my child.

But, like my wife, I didn’t really concern myself with the potential fallout of the A. I understood there would be consequences if the A was uncovered, but I never really felt it would be a big deal. They’ll learn to deal with it; after all, kids are resilient right?

Of course now I know different.

fooled13years posted 6/7/2019 09:32 AM

ff4152 - Thank you for your response.

Of course now I know different

It is the wisdom gained through your experience which helps so many people. In regards to your children, what changes, if any, have you implemented to help keep them safe?

ff4152 posted 6/7/2019 13:29 PM

fooled

From an infidelity perspective, I’m making my child (and wife) more of an emotional priority in my life. I make a good living and my family is well taken care of financially. Before the A, that was enough and they damn well better know that.

Now it’s not enough just to make sure their physical needs are met. I have to be an active participant in their emotional lives as well. That’s something I still have struggles with. My needs cannot always take priority over theirs. I’m seeing now it just doesn’t work that way.

Pippin posted 6/7/2019 16:05 PM

Fooled13Years

Did you have the parental instinct to protect the children before the A?

Before the affair, and even a decade before we had children, my life was wrapped around being a good mother. I made career, education and life choices to be as present and useful as possible for them. I don’t want to say anything specific because it is identifying and my husband and I prefer privacy, but imagine it’s on the order of me studying to become a pediatrician in order to be fully responsible for our future children’s health, becoming one of the best pediatricians around (publishing articles, giving conference presentations), leaving work to be a SAHM in order to care for them when they were little, then becoming the school nurse at their school to keep an eye on them. It was that level of career, education, and life choices (and success!) to support and protect them. My husband and I made children-centered decisions about how we spent our money, time, and attention, making the children the center of our household.

Were they considered during the A?

My level of consideration dropped dramatically and to their detriment. I justified all sorts of behavior to myself. My husband and I recently talked about it and agreed that they are OK because I was coasting on previous good parenting, I had put lots of good things in place for them (great babysitter, strong connections to local family, good teachers for extracurriculars and sports) and my husband was picking up whatever slack he could. But they were being neglected by me and I think if it had gone on much longer they would have suffered much more.

Here's what I wrote on another thread, trying to help a foggy wayward understand that although she didn’t think she was harming her son, she might nonetheless be doing so (she disagrees and that’s fine, maybe she isn’t, or maybe she will come to understand it differently later):

I have a memory of walking my daughter home from school, half-listening to her, ignoring her, reading texts from my AP. She was having a terrible year at school which was one of the (small but significant) reasons I was stressed beyond belief when the affair started. She needed my full attention. I knew, in my rational adult brain, that everything I was doing was harmful, destructive, horrible, not only to my husband and the OBS and her children, but to my own children, to my youngest child, my baby, who needed me so much. I justified it in all sorts of ways and believed those justifications, oh yes I did. My kids were grown up enough to be OK without my full attention and that what they really needed was a little independence from my over attentive mothering. They had each other and didn’t really need me any more, the sibling relationships are the ones that really matter. She was nearly 10 and I thought that the relationship with her father would start to take centrality over the mother relationship. I had done such a wonderful job managing her difficult year and getting everything in order that what she needed now was for me to back off of paying attention to her. And so on. Crazy, right? I believed it. Sort of. Part of me knew how wrong it was but I shoved that away, because I was getting something I thought I needed from the affair.

If you lost the parental instinct during the A was it recaptured after ending the A, being caught or confessing?

It returned slowly as I was able to pull myself together and my husband was able to help me. It returned as quickly as it did because of both of us working so hard on recovery. During the affair, and in the immediate aftermath, I was such a mess that I could hardly help anyone else. I was not able to take good care of myself, let alone others, and whatever energy and attention I had went to my husband’s healing. The basics were there – making meals and getting them to school on time and keeping their schedules in order – but for a while I was emotionally distracted and drained.

The children and my husband are getting the best care of their lives from me now, both out of an outsized sense of responsibility and sheer daily gratitude that I didn’t screw anything up permanently. And the quotidien joys of a good life (though my oldest daughter is able to exasperate me by leaving my bathroom a mess AGAIN, and my youngest two need to stop bickering!)

Our lives are no longer child-centered, although the children are very important. My husband and our marriage are my unquestioned priorities. The children are next. They are best served by us being as emotionally healthy ourselves, and as bonded in a strong marriage, as possible.

fooled13years posted 6/10/2019 12:03 PM

ff4152

I make a good living and my family is well taken care of financially. Before the A, that was enough and they damn well better know that.


Pippin

imagine it’s on the order of me studying to become a pediatrician in order to be fully responsible for our future children’s health, becoming one of the best pediatricians around (publishing articles, giving conference presentations), leaving work to be a SAHM in order to care for them when they were little, then becoming the school nurse at their school to keep an eye on them.

Thank you for your responses. You need to know that you reinforced an epiphany I recently had. I realized that I was guilty of sometimes treating my responsibilities to our marriage and family like they were a job. I was supposed to do x, y and z and do them well and that was my job. We all know that x, y and z are important but there is so much more to a marriage and parenting than just x, y and z.

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