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Feeling Stuck in Anger/Plain of Lethal Flatness Phase

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Thumos posted 8/19/2019 07:24 AM

Still, what possible "understanding" could she reach concerning the kids?

Exactly. It was extremely hurtful and among many things she said that just left me gobsmacked. I honestly didn’t know what to say. It just deepened my anger and hurt, and it’s one of the many reasons I’m popping up here almost three years later.

She’s said before that in year 1 it was like a door slammed shut and she’s never been able to get me to open that door again. And we’ve had repeated conversations where I’ve catalogued for her all the reasons why that door remains hermetically sealed.

Butforthegrace posted 8/19/2019 08:21 AM

She’s said before that in year 1 it was like a door slammed shut and she’s never been able to get me to open that door again. And we’ve had repeated conversations where I’ve catalogued for her all the reasons why that door remains hermetically sealed.

What does she mean by that? Is she talking about a door inside of you, as in you have closed off a portion of yourself from her and she's trying to open the door to reconnect with you?

Or is she talking about communication with the AP?

Thumos posted 8/19/2019 08:51 AM

Sorry I wasn’t more clear. A door of communication with me. A door in my mind. She believes I’ve closed myself off, and she’s not wrong. I think the modern term is “emotionally unavailable.”

I have certainly been that way and still am. She gets a little bit of me, but not the old me. And that goes right back to the beginning of this thread - it’s because I don’t feel I am getting the essentials I need to truly consider reconciliation or to even make an informed decision either way.

She’s told me what I know (which she insists is the absolute truth) is bad enough on its own, and that if there were “something else” this already rises to the level of divorce. You can see how this twists my head around, though. It makes me feel she’s holding out some vital piece of information because she’s worried that will be the final nail.

[This message edited by Thumos at 8:52 AM, August 19th (Monday)]

Butforthegrace posted 8/19/2019 09:04 AM

She’s told me what I know (which she insists is the absolute truth) is bad enough on its own, and that if there were “something else” this already rises to the level of divorce. You can see how this twists my head around, though. It makes me feel she’s holding out some vital piece of information because she’s worried that will be the final nail.

We see that position taken a lot by waywards, and I believe that it occurs at a sub rosa level more often than we see here because waywards, on the threshhold of being caught, go on deleting sprees and the poor betrayed, in the throes of trauma, doesn't consider that until much later.

It puts you in a difficult position. Sort of a soft ultimatum by her: "Reconcile with me, based on what I chose to tell you, or not."

You have to find your heart's truth. In the balance, you may decide that you'd rather spend your life with her, accepting that she has withheld this from you. It may be a gnawing doubt/source of angst, but balanced against the good parts of your marriage, maybe not enough to end things. I do think it's clear by now that you've gotten as much disclosure from her as you are going to get so long as you are not willing to pull the trigger on the marriage.

On the other hand, maybe the gnawing doubt/constant angst is more than you think you want to live with for the next 30 years or so of your life. If that is your heart's truth, then you tell her that you are going to D for this specific reason (and also because of its role in the overall shit sandwich you'll have to taste for the rest of your life by staying married). That if she wants to have a chance to save the marriage, she will fully disclose. Make it clear that you aren't promising that full disclosure will in fact save the marriage -- as she notes, the facts may be so bad it will hasten the D -- but it's her only chance because D is the decision at present.

Nobody can make that call for you. Neither path is risk-free.

As you know, doing nothing, or not deciding, is tantamount to living with the doubt. You've done that now for 3 years. As I asked before, do you want to look yourself in the mirror at age 60 and still be feeling these feelings: and by "these feelings" I mean the whole package of your family, including the joys and the good times, plus the anger and doubt.

D means starting over, sort of. Your WW and your son will still be a very large part of your life as you navigate structures to effectively co-parent. But you will be on your own in terms of romantic or sexual relationships, which, like everything, has good and bad points. You'll likely meet somebody new, or maybe date casually for a while. You'll have sex with new woman/women, with no baggage nor strings attached. You won't have your family intact, together, under one roof when you return home from work, but if you re-marry or cohabit, you will have somebody at home, and it might be somebody you truly enjoy seeing when you walk in the door.

Is that reality better for you? Only you know the answer.

[This message edited by Butforthegrace at 9:40 AM, August 19th (Monday)]

Trdd posted 8/19/2019 09:49 AM

Thumos... sorry for your pain.

Here is my take after reading your story here.

You are in reconciliation and it is actually going pretty well in a number of areas. It has been several years but these things often take longer than that. Your description of your daily life is actually more positive than some other people who attempt reconciliation. I know it may not feel this way but that is actually a positive thing. The fact that you can laugh and enjoy yourself with her day-to-day most of the time is a good place to be at this point.

But it is also very clear that the poor steps taken after D-Day, particularly with the marital counseling advice, have left a number of unresolved issues for you. Unresolved issues aren't unusual. However, to have a full and rewarding reconciliation it makes sense to address them and not continue to rug sweep.

You know this is true. The question is, how do you move forward a bit differently to try to get some resolution?

You have described your wife as loving you and that she would be devastated if you left. Although she has rejected some of the tenants kept here on this site she has also demonstrated many of the behaviors of a wife who is really trying to heal her marriage. But early interactions shaped her thinking and blunted your action so you are left with an unhealthy Dynamic around some of these issues. Are you willing to try to open this dialog again?

I think you have leverage if she feels like you may still leave her and that is the last thing she wants to happen. You have to figure out how to use that Leverage to get her to see your perspective differently than she has up to now. You two have actually made a lot of progress in reconciliation even if it doesn't feel that way. I can't think of a reason why you wouldn't attempt to influence her with a different strategy to help yourself heal over these remaining stumbling blocks.

What do you think that you could do that would be different in approaching her at this time?

I really think you should answer the question above because we're not sure exactly how and when you last attempted to get these things resolved. But I could throw out a couple of possibilities to get your reaction.

First, I would set the stage that you need to have a serious conversation with her about the progress the two of you have made since D-Day. Don't jump right into the conversation but tell her you want to have that dialogue and it is very important to you. Ask her when would be a good time to have it. This way she will be prepared for the dialogue mentally and emotionally and of course so will you to the extent that that is possible.

I think it is important that when you ask for this interaction you make sure she understands the gravity of the conversation. Put it in an appropriately serious context. I wouldn't want her quite being so nervous that you're going to actually tell her you want a divorce yet I don't want her going into this conversation casually, thinking that she can say and do the same old things that have got you stuck on these issues. You might consider saying something like I think we have made great progress in our reconciliation. But as I think you understand, sometimes consciously or sometimes unconsciously, I am still struggling with several issues regarding your affair. These issues don't affect me constantly but they come up frequently enough and with enough intensity that they sometimes make me doubt I can continue to move forward. I am not saying I am unwilling to move forward, I actually want to. But these nagging issues have to be healed and are going to require some additional work even if it is uncomfortable for the two of us. All this gets said in advance of the time you're actually going to have the conversation so she is prepared to enter that conversation knowing your expectations. Does that make sense to you?

Another piece of preparation you might consider is defining some of the issues you are struggling with in writing ahead of time for her to read. Whatever those key issues are, you could write them out and get them in her hands so she has time to consider them and think about them deeply. Springing things onto her again in a dialogue will likely get her defense mechanisms up or she will revert back to her old tropes learned from the marital counselor and give you the same old line.

To offer up this time for her to prepare you also have to set expectations for the dialogue. How do you want her to interact with you? This is something you should Define very specifically for her. Tell her what behaviors you want to see when you discuss this and what behaviors you do not want to see. As an example, you might say that I really want you to consider my point of view deeply so that I feel really heard and you can challenge some of your preconceived notions about how we are interacting after the affair. What I don't want you to do is to go back to the same old arguments that have put me emotionally in a difficult place at times in the past several years. I need you to be open to taking some different actions because I have some unresolved issues and if you keep doing the exact same thing, they may never go away. And if I can't heal from them, it puts our reconciliation at some degree of risk. I think you can help me, if you are willing to think a bit differently.

The short version of what I wrote above is that you have to carefully prepare her to have a new dialogue and ask her to challenge what she's done in the past to help heal you more completely so the two of you can deepen your reconciliation and love for each other.

I actually think the way you have articulated your feelings here in this thread is excellent. And I know you've covered a lot of this ground in the past with her but sharing the most important priorities from what you've shared with us... again and a bit differently... is kind of a must-do, isn't it?

And you do want to prioritize your needs carefully. You might generate a list of five things she needs to address from either a behavior standpoint or a knowledge standpoint. And rank ordering them to know what are non-negotiables that you need to move forward verse is nice to have if she can do it would be important.

I have some other thoughts about how to actually have this dialogue with her. If you found the above comments helpful, ask me and I will write some more about how to have a good two-way exchange with her. You have probably already gotten a lot of great advice on this but the thread is rather long and I must admit I have read mostly just your posts and only a few of the other recommendations people have made. Setting the stage will help get her attention. But the actual conversation will probably require creating some real impact for her so she sees your perspective differently than she has up until this point. I think with some effort you can do this while you are leaning on The Leverage that she doesn't want to lose you or the marriage. It often takes a little bit of creativity and how you position things so someone can see it from your point of view. There have been a ton of good ideas written in these forums that you can take advantage of and if you are ready to have the dialogue we can write down some thinking about how to do it.

Thumos posted 8/19/2019 12:46 PM

Trdd, this was a really excellent and thoughtful contribution to this thread.

I cant believe how long this thread has grown, either, but man I feel very refreshed by the advice I’ve received here.

I think your recommendation is a good one. (The fact that waywards have to be coaxed and treated like hothouse flowers is more than a little galling, but it is what it is). I may PM you for some additional thoughts on the dialogue with her.

64fleet posted 8/19/2019 19:32 PM

Been there years, Thumos, same reasons.

[This message edited by 64fleet at 5:26 PM, August 21st (Wednesday)]

ISurvivedSoFar posted 8/19/2019 20:24 PM

Thumos, this has been my struggle for years:

The fact that waywards have to be coaxed and treated like hothouse flowers is more than a little galling, but it is what it is).
This is where I've been stuck for quite some time. I just didn't see why I had to console him or treat him delicately after what he did to me.

So I stopped my compassion for him sometime after year one. And we reached an impasse. And maybe, finally this week we have hit a breakthrough. You know what worked? Everything folks are suggesting to you here.

* BS paying attention to themself and their needs
* BS/WS letting go of the outcome
* BS going to IC/WS going to IC
* BS being clear about boundaries
* BS/WS recognizing this is a new and different relationship than before
* BS learning how to relate to WS differently (this was way hard for me)
* WS stopping the blameshifting, TT, and owning their stuff

Whatever baggage we had before infidelity is amplified after and then the new trauma is added. It is a lot to get through. The important part is not to be too hard on yourself. It includes a combination of deliberate actions and organic change/growth that happens after the deliberate actions seed and grow. It is iterative and it is tough. But our personal growth through all of this is amazing.

Great advice on this thread indeed.

Thumos posted 8/19/2019 23:42 PM

Been there years, Thanos, same reasons.

How long 64fleet? Can you elaborate and provide insight on how you are doing?

[This message edited by Thumos at 1:04 PM, August 21st (Wednesday)]

Thumos posted 8/19/2019 23:49 PM

BS/WS letting go of the outcome
m

Maybe my biggest struggle?

Also relating differently - she was my friend and my lover. I don’t know exactly how to categorize her now, which makes it difficult to figure out how to relate to her.

I can’t say I consider her a friend or a lover now. A friend who betrayed me would be out of the picture. A sexual lover would also be gone for being promiscuous with others.

But she’s also the mother of my children, so we have something different, meaning those other compartmentalized categories aren’t as useful.

Thumos posted 8/19/2019 23:50 PM

BS/WS letting go of the outcome

Maybe my biggest struggle?

Also relating differently - she was my friend and my lover. I don’t know exactly how to categorize her now, which makes it difficult to figure out how to relate to her.

I can’t say I consider her a friend or a lover now. A friend who betrayed me would be out of the picture. A sexual lover would also be gone for being promiscuous with others.

But she’s also the mother of my children, so we have something different, meaning those other compartmentalized categories aren’t as useful.

Butforthegrace posted 8/20/2019 05:27 AM

But she’s also the mother of my children, so we have something different,

She will never stop being the mother of your children, whether you stay married or not, or whether you separate, or not.

I would remind you that, by virtue of the choices she made in deciding to have an A with the father of one of your children's close friends, she impacted your child's life in a strongly negative way, solely so that she could enjoy some extramarital sex. It was incredibly selfish. Not a fine example of motherhood. I had a friend years ago who would cluck at people who were caught having sex with co-workers, or others in their child's social community: "Even a dog doesn't shit where it eats."

ISurvivedSoFar posted 8/20/2019 08:21 AM

Thumos - Many folks mention letting go of the outcome. It is a huge ask but a worthwhile one. Letting go means living in the moment. Having expectations for today rather than the future. Understanding that you'll be fine alone as well as being fine working through the issues associated with this betrayal.

I reasoned it this way. No matter how my relationship ends with my WS, he is still the father of my child. She benefits from a healthy parent, in fact from two healthy parents, much more than she benefits from animus and brokenness that inevitably bleeds onto her. So I vowed to work hard to help her have a great set of parents, to model ways you overcome strife, to demonstrate healthy ways of relating (because for goodness sake we unfortunately showed her the opposite) and to demonstrate our unending love for her above all else.

While it wasn't my fault she got caught in this, and I certainly condemned myself for not keeping her safe as my number one job as her mother, I can change things for her, for us moving forward. She's worth it and by proxy so are we.

Ultimately this helped me get to the point where the outcome didn't matter with regard to me and my WS. What mattered was managing ourselves in the best way possible each and every day. I know I cannot control him...nor can I be guaranteed he will be okay forever since he's shown me he can do horrific things under stress. I can however be sure that today we are working towards being the best we can be for ourselves and our children. And I can be sure to be clear about my boundaries and about keeping myself and him accountable. That is ultimately what makes room for love to enter again. It may be different, it may be as a couple or co-parents. But it has to be of benefit to our lives.

Thumos posted 8/20/2019 09:29 AM

I would remind you that, by virtue of the choices she made in deciding to have an A with the father of one of your children's close friends, she impacted your child's life in a strongly negative way, solely so that she could enjoy some extramarital sex. It was incredibly selfish.

Yes, and she has owned this — but not completely, as evidenced by some of the comments she made (the rationalizing about the ludicrous idea of coming with some sort of arrangement with the other family).

On the other hand, she has talked about this very aspect you have pointed a number of times. I’ve reassured her I see her as a good mother, and she’s replied that the very actions she took during the affair undermine that.

sisoon posted 8/20/2019 13:01 PM

Who in their right mind would put up with this?!”

And you follow that up with, “Oh yeah, I would.”

I never asked that question.

IMO, you need to reframe. You have been forced to deal with being betrayed. That was dumped on you. You had and have no real choice but to deal with it.

Since then, you've made choices. The metaphor that makes most sense to me is that we choose which internal and external voices to act upon, but that may not make sense to you. Whatever metaphor you use, you've made your choices. Remember, you can choose D any day.

Have you read anything about the 'Drama Triangle' or 'co-dependence'? If you have, did anything resonate?

If you haven't seen the literature, Steve Karpman identified the DT, and he's got some free stuff available on the web (along with paid stuff).

My understanding is that Melody Beattie is one of the most prolific and best writers on co-dependence.

My sense is that you've taken on the Victim role where infidelity is concerned. You're a victim, but not necessarily a Victim - That's a description, not a criticism. Reading something about the DT may help you find and use your power.

[This message edited by sisoon at 1:30 PM, August 20th (Tuesday)]

Thumos posted 8/20/2019 14:44 PM

My sense is that you've taken on the Victim role where infidelity is concerned. You're a victim, but not necessarily a Victim

I don’t disagree, and that’s one of the reasons I finally decided to post here - to get off high center and shake my own habitual thinking around this. It has felt empowering to read all of the candid, solid advice I’ve been given.

And thanks for mentioning the resources.

Unhinged posted 8/20/2019 15:55 PM

Trdd's suggestion to talk all of this through with your wife is a good idea! You don't have to lay it all out at once. Slowly but surely works. To hold it all inside, however, seems to be eating you up.

Also relating differently - she was my friend and my lover. I don’t know exactly how to categorize her now, which makes it difficult to figure out how to relate to her.
Why bother trying to define or categorize your relationship? You're married. She's your wife. Infidelity profoundly and permanently changes the nature or a relationship. It takes time, as in many years, to establish a new, healthier, more fulfilling dynamic. It takes work.

It always takes work and honesty, being open and vulnerable. It's scary shit, but the journey can be it's own reward.

Thumos posted 8/21/2019 13:02 PM

Earlier this summer my WW’s AP approached her in our neighborhood park and asked her how she was doing. She told him fine and walked away (according to her).

I do know for a fact that she told me about the incident immediately and did not wait, because it was right after she got back from the park. I feel fairly certain her version is at least somewhat truthful, because our younger child was with her, and is now older and more observant than during the affair three years ago. I don’t believe she would have risked a friendly or lengthy conversation with the AP in light of this, but I can’t be certain of course.

There was another incident of contact the year before she did not tell me about right away. She says this was also initiated by him and she cut him off. .

I have thought about this incident a lot the past two months and it made me start snooping around, do drivebys, etc. again. Am I overreacting or does anyone else see red flags with this?

nekonamida posted 8/21/2019 14:14 PM

Thumos, did your WW ever write a NC letter to the AP? I just don't see how he would think it was ever okay to try and initiate contact with her again after all this time.

ramius posted 8/21/2019 16:48 PM

There was another incident of contact the year before she did not tell me about right away. She says this was also initiated by him and she cut him off. .

I have thought about this incident a lot the past two months and it made me start snooping around, do drivebys, etc. again. Am I overreacting or does anyone else see red flags with this?

Any secret or delayed confession type of behavior from a known cheater is a Red Flag IMO.

Perhaps the reason he approached her at the park with your kid was because it had worked for him before ?

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