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Moving from Ambivalence

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Wayward2019 posted 8/22/2019 15:38 PM

I'm looking for advice on how to best proceed given my ambivalence to my marriage. Background:

I had a 6 month affair the ended in February. The affair was exposed after my wife found some emails. It was a physical and emotional affair. My AP and I were in love, were soul mates, best friends and all of the things that people say in these relationships. I say it that way because I know it sounds like a cliche.

Upon discovery I went into counseling and my wife and I separated. I moved into condo in town while my wife and kids went through the trauma and grief associated with my selfish actions.

My initial reaction was to win back my wife, kids and stabilize my life. I went no contact with the AP and did everything I could (counseling, joined a "wayward" support group, etc.) I look back and know that I did everything to regain control over my life since I was totally lost and self-traumatized.

After my wife and I decided to give reconciliation a try, we started counseling (I am in IC too), I moved back home.

Since DDay, my actions have reflected a desire to reconcile. However, I'm not sure if my heart has ever been in it. I have been asking myself for months if I really love her. I still don't know if I do.

I know that relationships go through seasons, and I'm trying to figure out if we're in a drought or if we're at the end.

I've been thinking a lot about leaving. I don't know if I can leave my kids (one son left in HS...other two are adults), our couple friends, our "lifestyle", our home, etc. I sometimes think I stay because of those things, as opposed to her.

The bottom line is that I'm ambivalent right now.

I don't know if I should wait it out and see if I regain a love and passion for her? Should I tell her that I don't feel a strong love for her? I mean I love her in the sense that she's a good person, the mother of my kids, etc., but do I want to spend another 25 years with her? I don't know.

I'm questioning if I should continue to work on our marriage via counseling and at home and see if feelings come back. Or let her know that I'm struggling with my feelings for her and that I've thought about leaving?

She sees it in me. She feels that I'm not giving 100%. She knows I'm not doing everything I can to win her back. I don't want to pretend then pull the rug from under her.

At the end of the day I know only I can decide. But seeing that I've fallen into some familiar traps and behaviors, I'm wondering if anyone has gone through similar and has any advice.

*To add to this, I'm not deciding between my wife and my AP. I am not interested in pursuing a future with AP.

[This message edited by Wayward2019 at 4:03 PM, August 22nd (Thursday)]

ThisIsSoLonely posted 8/22/2019 15:49 PM

I hope some WS chime in but there is no stop-sign here, so just for disclosure I'm a BS and I swear my WH could have written the same story I'm pretty sure (although his A was longer, with a married Co-worker, and we have no children together). They did the I love yous and the soul mate and all of it. Granted, having read what he wrote to her, he could have written all of that to me when we first met and more - every single word.

That being said, while you are waiting for responses I suggest doing a search on post-affair ambivalence on yahoo or google or whatever you use. I was surprised to find that this is incredibly common, especially when the affair was one of escape or fantasy or whatever (as opposed to a ONS).

My HW is smack in the middle of where you are, and he knows I too am no longer enamored with him. It's limbo and I think it's hard. February isn't that long ago, and you don't mention if you are still "pining" for your AP. If you are, it is my understanding from reading on here that those feelings make it very difficult to focus on your spouse. But that's all hearsay as I've not been in that position...but I have read/seen a lot of post-affair ambivalence articles so you might start there (or of course talk to your IC about it if you haven't already).

Darkness Falls posted 8/22/2019 15:58 PM

Iím in the same boat except not because of AP (affair was over 9 1/2 years ago). I just donít love him like a spouse anymore and we have very young kids so I feel unable to leave.

FoenixRising posted 8/22/2019 16:14 PM

You sound depressed...

Have you considered depression? I donít know... Iím just getting vibesthat youíre just not really into anything, not particularly your W.

What healthy habits are you exploring to help you enjoy life? I took up painting, went back for my masters, got a new job, started meditating, keeping a journal, reading...

Stop focusing on forever. Focus on now. Today. The moment. Make the most of what you have In the second youre In it. You will appreciate life so much more, eventually.

Be kind to yourself. You donít need to figure everything out in the moment. 6 months feels long but itís not. I wasnít even out of the fog at that stage... Iím not sure you are either.

Until you know for certain what you want or where you want to go, minding the moment and staying where you are is best. Do not lie to your BS. But be mindful of how you say things. Likely she is still unsure too... thatís ok. My H and I had a huge hiccup last week and I was contemplating leaving. I had been back all in since February. We arenít even 2 years out yet. Some days the wound feels more open than others. Regardless, each day, I chose my H bc I love him wholey. I chose him everyday, even when there is haze and I feel uncertain. That is fidelity. That is commitment. I am not perfect, nor is he but I try to be as healthy and well intended as possible for our family. They are my priority. At some point, shoukd I decide certainly leaving is best, I will do that but not til Iím 100%. Iím trusting that my gut will tell me when or if itís time. I plan on exhausting every option though before I make another unhealthy and wrong decision that I cannot take back.

Again, time. Patience. But at any point that youíre certain itís time to leave, you must. You owe that to your BS who is being patient and so compassionate to you by even considering giving you another chance. Godspeed.

ThisIsSoLonely posted 8/22/2019 17:24 PM

I will second what foenix said re depression. My WH suffers from depression that is sometimes severe and heís facing the realization that not much interests him anymore and he creates fantasy wherever he can in life. I and our problems are real and is/was something to be escaped from. I have a hard time relating to that but again it seems to be reality for many.

You loved your wife before. Think about what you loved about her and if those things still exist (Iím guessing most of them still do). I think it's easy to forget those things the longer times goes by.

I know from my own life, once, years before my WH I had a long term boyfriend who proposed to me. I ended the relationship because I felt I didnít love him in that way anymore and that there was a part of me that wanted to ďkeep looking.Ē I did a fantastic job of convincing myself (without even realizing it) that I wasn't satisfied anymore. But the older more mature me realizes that the "more" I was looking for was just a fantasy. There was nothing inherently wrong with our relationship and certainly nothing wrong with him. He was (and is) a good man.

I think I was foolish for thinking that love died when I simply took it for granted as it had lost its newness to me (we were together for 8 years). The possibility of other things seemed more exciting to me and it made our relationship pale in comparison. I ended it not because I had anyone else in mind (or in my life) but because I felt there was something missing. It is now crystal clear to me that was ďmissingĒ was a bunch of ďexcitementĒ and ďfantasyĒ that never lasts.

I think thatís part of the danger of an affair. The return to "real" with all the added pain and misery the affair created makes it seem so unappealing. My WH has said this more than once - that he's considered giving up because it would be easier, and he admits that he devalued me and our relationship throughout his affair (partially to justify it happening) and he unfairly compared me to the fantasy-excitement of his affair (he too thought his A was special or more special than the average affair I'm sure). The affair makes you think that there is something more exciting out there and you want it, but you could end up like me 20 years later realizing you gave up on something really wonderful to chase a fantasy that you thought existed somewhere else. The danger is that either you associate those feelings with the AP as potentially permanent or if not with your AP that they are ďout thereĒ somewhere else.

I will also say this, he and I are not reconciling, so I'm not coming from a place of "I wish he would think this" or "I'm hoping" or something. All of this information has been gathered from him and his year of IC and talking to me and looking at his life and so on. He still feels the same way you do about your wife but about me - granted he has gone back to his AP countless times so I don't think he ever has time to get away from the fantasy long enough to think anything seriously through. He just can't divorce himself from the fantasy.

Iím not advocating staying when you feel you arenít as happy as you should be, but speaking from a place of regret and experience, be careful that you are not assigning unrealistic expectations on your marriage. Or worse yet, a fantasy that no one can live up to no matter how hard they look. I know I passed up a lifetime with a really wonderful guy because I thought the fireworks were gone. I guess I bought into the Hollywood ideal of the ďperfectĒ marriage where the good ones always are happy after a fight and always seem to get along even when annoyed with each other AND give the long passionate smooch at the end of the day.

I guess what Iím saying is give yourself some time to figure things out and actually try focusing on the good things that you had and stop focusing on what you perceive to be missing out on. Commit to your commitment for awhile unless youíre 100% sure.

EDITED to add clarity - answering via phone is not a good idea for me

[This message edited by ThisIsSoLonely at 7:02 PM, August 22nd (Thursday)]

Striver posted 8/22/2019 17:26 PM

BS here, but no stop sign. You are being honest, and I appreciate that.

I sense that you are looking at your wife right now as to what can she do for you. How she can make you happy by being her. How can she add value. I think this is a way of loving that leads to disappointment.

You can certainly think about who you want to spend the next 25 years with. But your thoughts are yours only. If you leave your wife, and you seek out another partner, they are going to be looking at you in the same manner as you look at them. The women are going to look at you as some guy with a past. A past where his wife of many years could not satisfy him. They will wonder if, as they get older, you will find them wanting in the same way as you find your wife wanting and your AP wanting. What do you bring to the table, what value do you add, that could help a prospective new partner overcome that?

Chaos posted 8/22/2019 18:55 PM

I wonder outloud if your Post Affair Ambivilance is you missing the ďbest of both worldsĒ scenario you had?

One one hand your wife and family You love them. But they are predictable and routine and comfortable and warm and ...well...boring.

On the other hand you had AP. New and shiney and exciting and daring and fun but...well ...unsustainable.

Combined, however, they were the best of both worlds. You could have them both. You could have the hot flame of AP (but you know what they say about standing too close to the fire) and the dull glow of your wife/family (but they arenít quite hot enough once youíve felt the burn).

Now - you were discovered and forced to choose. And you are missing something. You love your wife and family. You want the next 25 years. But...you want that ďsomething moreĒ you had. And arenít sure your wife and family could ever fill that void.

News flash. Nothing can fill that void. Not AP, not another AP. Not multiple APs. Not your wife. Not your family. Not a million dollars. Because that void is within you. And YOU have to fill it YOURSELF. Seeking that fulfillment from external validation is smoke and mirrors. You havenít filled your void. Youíve just distracted yourself from your own emptiness.

Lucky77 posted 8/22/2019 20:27 PM

Why did you marry your W and choose to procreate in the first place?

Has something changed since then?

Dragonfly123 posted 8/23/2019 01:51 AM

BS here I share PRís view that you may be suffering from depression. This seems to be very common after these types of limerance affairs, in my WH case it was one of the catalysts for his affair.

If this is right then you are looking to your wife to make you happy and that thinking is what led you into destroying your family in the first place. If our innner happiness comes directly from another person we are hugely at risk.

I believe that if a WS doesnít address their own happiness and just ups and leaves to find someone else to fill their Ďvoidí, theyíll be jumping ship again and again never facing their problems. And that would be a terrible outcome for your family.

Zugzwang posted 8/23/2019 08:54 AM

When you say counseling, you mean marriage counseling? When was Dday?

Wayward2019 posted 8/23/2019 09:04 AM

Thanks to all who have responded. I have a lot of internal issues to figure out, but you've given me a lot of meaningful and thought provoking feedback.

[This message edited by Wayward2019 at 9:04 AM, August 23rd (Friday)]

Thumos posted 8/23/2019 09:13 AM

Does anyone here really believe in soul mates? I just find the concept completely un-useful and misaligned with reality. There are dozens of women I could be very happy with, very compatible with, very passionate with, and very faithful to. Probably even hundreds of women given the brute statistics of the size of the human population now. Will I encounter all of those women? Decidedly not.

But even within a smaller circle of possible women, there are dozens. This is true of my wife as well - as she has already proven with her affair.

Looking at it from the BH side, Iím often doing a cold cost-benefits analysis now that runs through my head something like this: ďYou gave away your body willingly to another man, youíre pretty but not special and have now revealed a reptilian selfishness, your beauty is waning rapidly as you approach your invisible menopause years, and any unique quality I felt in our relationship has been shattered into a thousand shards by your actions.Ē

Just wanted to offer my perspective.

FoenixRising posted 8/23/2019 23:29 PM

Previous ouster asking about anyone believing in soul mates...

I believe itís possible to meet someone and they can become a soul companion. Yes, coukd I find a soul companion in many people that I surround myself... and sometimes I do! My girlfriends (core set since High school) are more like soul sisters to me. Iíve known them almost as long as I can remember.

My first love was a fierce love that I never experienced, nor will I again. He is not my soul mate, as we broke up years ago, but heís still a part of my soul. He always will be even though Iíll likeky never see him or speak to him again. He was an integral part of my youth and adolescence.

One can Certainly view a person who has harmed another a as selfish reptile with waning beauty entering menopause. In fact I feel this is a natural and appropriate response soon after DDay. Is still appropriate and natural to say 3+ years? Maybe Iím reading it wrong. Just seems passive aggressive... or aggressive... just food for thought.

SerJR posted 8/24/2019 07:40 AM


Some questions that I want you to think about and answer honestly...

- How much effort were you putting into your affair?
- What were you getting out of the affair?
- How much effort were you putting into your marriage?
- What were you getting out of your marriage?

Think very deeply about this.

Thumos posted 8/24/2019 09:32 AM

Just seems passive aggressive... or aggressive... just food for thought.

Perhaps, I donít know. It seems a bit rich to read a wayward bringing up the topic of aggression or passive-aggression. It seems to me I canít quite hold a candle to the off-the-charts aggressive behavior an affair represents, or the passive-aggressive masterís degree seminar that gaslighting demonstrates.

Anyway, You can read my thread in Reconciliation about being stuck in anger and plain of lethal flatness. Iím beginning to realize itís because she has not done the necessary things to help us move forward, so I may need to move forward without her. I just thought it might be interesting for waywards to hear about ambivalence from the other side. It runs both ways and waywards should realize that.

Three years for a betrayed spouse is not all that long to still be feeling ambivalent. It seems rather common for feelings of ambivalence to resurface strongly years later, in fact, when the adultery is 10, 20, or even 30 years in the rear view mirror. Is that aggressive, passive aggressive, or just a normal human reaction to the deepest betrayal a person can experience? I donít know.

In any case, Iím still just gobsmacked that a woman approaching her invisible years would gut the loyal husband who would have stayed by her side and would have loved her in her post-menopause life.

Men like me who have stayed physically fit and are successful wonder why we would stay with such a woman when we could simply trade her in for a younger model. She has certainly maneuvered herself into a bit of a pickle, and I donít see an eat-pray-love fantasy happy ending for her on the horizon. I donít know if those thoughts are aggressive, passive aggressive or just pragmatic.

[This message edited by Thumos at 9:35 AM, August 24th (Saturday)]

Zugzwang posted 8/24/2019 09:37 AM

I think soulmates is some bullshit Nicholas Sparks shit that my sister-in-law likes to watch. Thank God my wife isn't like that. She hated that shit before I ever even had my affair. Nothing like feeding pathetic unrealistic stuff to women to make them think what relationships and love are like. Most from what I am told revolve around having affairs and being with some lost love. No different than porn for men. Life isn't like either and it shouldn't be. Both are unhealthy and unrealistic. Compatibility? Yes, based on character. Soulmates? Hell no. Then, I also don't believe in God or Karma either. Cause and Effect. Stimulus and Stimuli. Not soul.

FoenixRising posted 8/24/2019 11:12 AM

Thatís very interesting thumos. Iím glad to see you self reflecting.

I am not saying that you should let it go by any means.

But, you are over here on the wAyward side commenting so perhaps you should think on that. I believe general is the correct place to post with aggressive tones for the betrayed.

Further, I do not think pointing out your aggression is rich by any means. Again, youíre on the wayward side street here so listening and reading over here minus aggressive undertones is best. :). Otherwise we sicko, damaged cheating souls can be pretty defensive... and sometimes we need to be... sometimes we need to be told hard truths but if you want us to listen, best leave the aggression on your own side of the street. None of us here are your menopauseís invisible yeared wife. Itís not healthy to project youíre anger in Waywards by grouping us all together. I did not hurt you. I did not cheat on you. Please donít treat us (me or other Waywards not specifically your W) as if we have done this wrong to you. Gently, Iím not the one gaslighting you with my masters degree.

And last, I do not know you stay either... I certainly would have left me if I was my husband. Thank god he didnít bc his love and worth fighting for and I am determined to do better bc thatís what he deserves.

I wish you strength for your journey. I know you are tired. Rest. Itís ok to be ambivalent. Itís ok to leave. Itís ok to be angry. Embrace those feelings and no go make healthy choices FOR YOURSELF to ensure better living. YOU deserve to be happy.

strugglebus posted 8/24/2019 14:29 PM

T/J The fact that you hold to the idea that women have "invisible years" is troubling Thumos. That phrasing sounds a whole lot like you value women based on their appearance rather than what's on the inside.

Your wife's actions are 1000000% condemnable, why should her age or looks even play into it? If she was young and pretty odds are you'd still feel ambivalent because of the way she treated you.

Women aren't "models" we are humans.

It's shocking that ANYONE of ANY age, caliber of looks, fitness, success or gender would ever knowingly and willfully choose to harm their spouse who they respect as a person.

I wouldn't even willfully harm my postal carrier. I don't have to love someone not to do something selfish that I could easily see would harm someone else.


Wayward2019 I'm sure it's hard to feel head over heels in love with a person who looks at you like a stranger when you've just spent 6 months getting fairy dust blown up your butt by your AP.

Best friends hold you accountable for destructive behaviors
Soulmates encourage you to be your best self
People who love you want what is BEST for you, outside of their own interests.
You built a toxic fantasy world with the AP.

You are likely in a drought because you quit watering the flowers at home and took your can over to the AP.

You can either go all in and truly put your effort forth in watering the grass at home and take the leap, going all in, or the flowers and grass will die and she will likely ask you to move on if you don't do it first.

FoenixRising posted 8/24/2019 14:47 PM

As always, well said Strugglebus. Well said. Especially the part about soul mates.

Thumos posted 8/24/2019 14:52 PM

T/J The fact that you hold to the idea that women have "invisible years" is troubling Thumos. That phrasing sounds a whole lot like you value women based on their appearance rather than what's on the inside.

I donít believe my wife is invisible. I was talking about the fact that women themselves openly talk about the phenomenon of feeling ďinvisibleĒ to men after they reach a certain point of their lives, typically during and after menopause. They donít get appreciative glances or flirting attention from men like they used to. Itís a well-known issue, not something I came up with in my own head.

At one point over the past couple of years, my wife said during an argument after she asserted that men approach her all the time ďWell, look at me!Ē I thought these were very telling words. I didnít respond, but in my mind I thought, ďWow, youíre about to hit a very difficult wall if thatís the way you think, because this attention is fleeting and wonít be coming your way for much longer.Ē

So thatís what I was talking about. Itís something women talk about all the time. I donít view women as ďmodels,Ē but I did make a wisecrack about ďtrading inĒ my vow breaker wife for younger woman. That was a wisecrack.

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