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Unanswerable questions

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Iamtrash posted 9/23/2019 19:21 PM

What is the best way to help your BS deal with unanswerable questions?

(Ex. How could you do this? Why did you do this? Why did you continue to go through with x, y, z? Why wasnít I good enough?)

There are always the standard (but true) answers. I was stupid. I was selfish. It felt good to be desired. You were good enough, I was the problem. You werenít able to meet my unrealistic expectations for my life.

All of these answers are true. Yet they never seem like enough. These questions have been asked over and over since d-day. I donít mind answering them on repeat; however, I donít feel like my answers are enough or like they give him the information he needs. Yet, I donít know how else to answer.

I feel like I am letting him down by not having a better answer.

Chaos posted 9/23/2019 20:02 PM

No stop sign.

All these questions are also punctuated with the silent ďhow could you do this to meĒ There are more but you get it.

You can do a few things.

Tell the truth. You may need to say it 10 thousand times/week. But tell it as often as we need to hear it. It must be the truth. It mustnít waiver

Work with an IC to find the whys behind the whys. Why did you allow yourself to do something stupid? Why did you choose to handle your problem this way? Why are/were your life expectations unrealistic and why did you think an affair would help? Donít stop digging when it becomes tougher.

Understand these questions haunt our every moment. We are afraid they will always haunt us to some degree. We hope it lessens in time. But that haunting is most likely not going to go away.

Hippo16 posted 9/23/2019 20:02 PM


The truth will be complex except for the unfaithful ones that "did it because they wanted to." There are some that have it all, money, wonderful spouse, sex, companionship, family, health - yet they get a hair sideways and toss sanity to the wind for "the feelings."

Google Jeremy Brown for a lot of reading.

Google "Women's Infidelity" and "Michelle Langley"

I think the books are worth the read.

Why people cheat is a bit like reading a history book. What one author says is often different from other authors and also as time passes more facts bubble into the public eye. And a lot of opinion is wrapped into interpretation.

So it is with infidelity and I think that is why there is a consensus to avail yourself of "IC" - individual counseling - with an experienced counselor - in dealing with infidelity.

People who will comment will be so doing from their perspective and innate bias. So get all the information you can and distill to that which fits your situation.

None of us here and give you answers that fit your situation. We can ask what thought processes allowed you to do what you did?

Take one item at a time and work on why you make the choices. Deciding to take a trip. OK, but why the trip to see an old flame and family?

Once you start analyzing each action you took you will have lots of self reflection and will realize you have to answer for yourself why you made a hundred "little" choices that culminated in a MAJOR choice.

EvolvingSoul posted 9/23/2019 20:13 PM

There are always the standard (but true) answers. I was stupid. I was selfish. It felt good to be desired. You were good enough, I was the problem. You werenít able to meet my unrealistic expectations for my life.
Yeah you're going to have to dig deeper.

I was stupid.
Not helpful, and really very likely untrue. "Stupid" here implies that you weren't mentally up to the challenge of knowing right from wrong. Was that the case? If not, axe that one from your "standard" list.

I was selfish.
General, but worth exploring. How were you selfish? Was this selfishness out of character for you? If so, when did it start? What is the first moment you can remember thinking "fuck it, I deserve this"? If it wasn't our of character, start looking back over other times in your life when you were selfish, particularly when you made the decision to get the thing or feelings you wanted even though it turned out to be at other people's expense. Follow that thread back as far as it goes.

It felt good to be desired.
Yes, sure. That is a normal human thing. The question you need to answer is, why was I able to accept hurting and harming my BS and my family and my own integrity as an acceptable price for having this good feeling?

You were good enough, I was the problem.
Was he? Do you need to dig deeper on the filters/lenses through which you were viewing your BS and your marriage? If your thinking was distorted, how was it distorted? How do you think now that is different from how you thought during the affair?

You werenít able to meet my unrealistic expectations for my life.
What were those expectations? In what way were they unrealistic? How have your expectations changed? When and why did they change?

Keep drilling down, sister. There's a lot more digging to be done here.

Unhinged posted 9/23/2019 21:54 PM

I feel like I am letting him down by not having a better answer.
I think so, too.

sickofsurviving posted 9/24/2019 07:58 AM

Same answers my cheater gives me. Non answers. And if all you're doing is repeating those same pat answers over and over, I guarentee your betrayed will come to resent you as much as I resent mine.

Followtheriver posted 9/24/2019 08:31 AM


What is the best way to help your BS deal with unanswerable questions?

By first admitting that there are real answers to his questions and realizing that he deserves to know what they are.
Then hopefully, you are willing to bust your ass working on finding them, because what those answers are, should be as important to you as they are to him.

Yet they never seem like enough.

That is because they are not.

There are always the standard (but true) answers. I was stupid. I was selfish. It felt good to be desired. You were good enough, I was the problem. You werenít able to meet my unrealistic expectations for my life.

These answers are a cop out. They are easy and they are lazy. A wise man once said "Stupid is as stupid does." So to keep believing that these answers are all there is, well is just plain stupid. And you don't want to be stupid anymore, do you?

I feel like I am letting him down by not having a better answer.

That is because you are and you are letting yourself down, if you are satisfied with these answers. Feel free to read about my Whys thread over on page 2 or 3. Then come back and tell me that you were just being stupid and selfish and I will believe you.

hikingout posted 9/24/2019 08:36 AM

The answers will come in time if you work on yourself in earnest. They will evolve and he will see that evolution of thought.

To be honest, I don't think there is ever an answer that will satisfy these questions. In the betrayed's mind there is no answer that would be worth the pain they feel. Also cheating is often an illogical action that is usually an unequal response to whatever would have precipitated doing it. But, the work you do to get them and on yourself does start to change the picture significantly.

If you do the work, you will have a number of realizations that you will be able to share with him as you go down the journey together. In the mean time, try and empathize with all the ways you hurt him and keep making specific apologies towards what you did to him. Not "I am sorry I hurt you so badly" - yes that is one that we should say but when we say more specific things to the pieces of pain it helps reinforce for you what you have done and why the work is so important, and it reinforces to him that you know what you did.

I agree, getting to the whys behind your whys will help you answer these questions as well, but until you get very introspective you are only going to be able to tell him the parts you know. One of the things that really helped us was when the problems I pointed at prior to the affair - I could own my part of it and it was significant. And, moving forward changing that about myself gave him some assurance that I was committed to changing who I am, and to him and to our marriage.

In the meantime, when someone is traumatized, they need to go over things many times. Having zero resistance to that and staying calm is another assurance within itself.

[This message edited by hikingout at 8:37 AM, September 24th (Tuesday)]

Iamtrash posted 9/24/2019 15:57 PM

Where I struggle is that I donít have all the answers for him.

Ultimately, I could answer every question the same way. It felt good to be desired and wanted, it felt good to hear him beg me to be with him. He and I had a history where he hurt me. It felt good having the upper hand, it felt good having him beg and plead while knowing I had no desire to give him what he wanted most. I took what I wanted out of it and left the rest. When heíd start to question my motives, it was so easy to lure him back into trusting me. The more I dig, the more horrible I realize I was.

Ultimately, it has only been about 2 months. I have been in IC. I feel like to understand why I thought my behavior was acceptable, itís going to take a lot of deep digging. Lots of facing and resolving past issues. I want to do that. I am willing to do that. I am just afraid that he wants all the answers and wants them now. I feel like I canít provide them because I canít pinpoint the events that got me to this point. Itís for sure something I am addressing in IC.

hikingout posted 9/24/2019 16:33 PM

Yes I remember that feeling. The urgency. Some of that can be mitigated in knowing you can only control your actions- you can not control the outcome of how he feels or what he decides. Being calm, loving, and willing to discuss is the best you can offer in those times. Just by what you just shared I can tell the digging is starting. Itís a process that takes time.

But he will continue to ask these things for a long time. There isnít an answer that will take away his pain. Be honest and keep reaching and be there for him.

foreverlabeled posted 9/24/2019 16:46 PM

I am just afraid that he wants all the answers and wants them now
Well, I'm afraid that is just how his traumatized mind is working right now. It wants to piece it all together so that his brain can start to function again and make sense of it all. Unfortunately, even when you do come up with some answers it's just not good enough.

I think about survivors of natural disasters, when it's over they ask the same, why did this happen and how?! How am I going to rebuild? But they do in time. This trauma works the same with no real answers that are suitable to make them feel better and it takes hard work to recover and heal. I know it's not exactly the same but I think comparable in ways. Completely unexpected and often blindsided, didn't know what hit them, didn't deserve it and now there is work to put it all together again.

How it's different is obvious but the trauma remains the same in the way it works. You are in an unique position here to be a helper in the recovery of your own disaster. To help piece together the why and how. I think it's okay to say I don't have a good answer for you right now but I'm working hard on it and in time I will. I know you aren't far out from dday and time fucking sucks for everyone involved. But it's what it takes.

Time was something I struggled with greatly. I was so ready for this, I wanted to just push through and grow as fast as the information I was taking in. I remember someone said to me, one day FL you are going to be ready when your BH catches up and you will rock it, you'll bring your A game.

Even when you have your answers it still may not be time. Keep the pace he sets, don't leave him behind. Two months is so so early, OMG I'm putting myself back at this time and well.... big hugs IAT. I know this is difficult time, girl buckle up. Just one foot in front of the other. Seriously it's okay not to have all the answers right now, you just can't do nothing about it. And when your BH shows frustration and pain and rage because of it, show him the opposite.

BraveSirRobin posted 9/24/2019 19:29 PM

When heíd start to question my motives, it was so easy to lure him back into trusting me. The more I dig, the more horrible I realize I was.
I'm asking this with honestly constructive intent, not as a "gotcha" moment. It seems like your perspective on the A is evolving. IIRC, you had said that you were always very clear about your motives with OM, that he was a side piece and knew it. This last post sounds like you could have been intentionally leaving things vague, implying that he might have a chance at a future with you. Otherwise, why would there be a question of luring or trust?

This is important. If you're realizing that you were lying about how you presented your intentions, to OM, BH, and/or yourself, you need to update Hallmack. Be proactive. It's ok to admit that as you look at yourself with more authenticity, you see that you were a lot more screwed up than you realized at the time. We see BS here often who say, "My God, what I wouldn't give for my WS to come to me and voluntarily tell me something damning of their own free will." They want the truth, and the truth can be raw ore. As long as it's authentic, it's something you shouldn't wait to share.

ChanceAtLife35 posted 9/24/2019 21:35 PM

This post literally has my heart racing as i am also struggling with this one. My BW has asked me the same questions over and over since d-day and unfortunately i have the issue of trailing off the question asked, going in circles, minimizing or clipping her off because in my mind i am think oh this truth is going to hurt her more(my abandonment issues and being avoidant takes me here). Like the hell it won't because i have already trampled her heart and obliterated everything we had already wasn't enough. However, i truly believe the concept of digging deep to the root of the how's and why's of how we were purposely capable of risking ourselves, our relationships, and BS' thinking it was "okay" and there would be no consequences at all. I have found it very effective to sit in whatever feelings you may have and relive the memories that come with it which will eventually help you answer some of this questions. Journaling, even drawing things out on paper have helped me to in sort of a problem, cause, and solution method. Good luck to you and i hope what others have said helps you too.

Beachwalker posted 9/24/2019 23:32 PM

IAM: I am glad you are putting in the effort to help your BH. I wish my WW would have the same concern for me and for doing what it takes to save our M. I applaud your efforts and encourage you to keep it up!

Like most (if not all) BSís, I have and have had the same questions. I am not sure my WW could provide me with a sufficient answer, especially in the beginning. Everything was raw inside of me, and everything was in pain. I asked the questions, but the answers were irrelevant. Not because I didnít want the answers, but for 2 other reasons. First, I was just crying out in pain at that point. I needed help and I needed answers, but I really didnít know what help I needed and what questions I needed answers to.

Second, it was irrelevant what my WW responded because I did not trust her. She had been lying to me and gaslighting me (along with all the other abuse) for 20+ years. I would not have believed anything she said to me at that point, even if it was the Gospel, because she was a liar and my pain kept me from seeing and thinking straight.

Believe it or not, your confessing that what you did was stupid and selfish does help a tiny bit. You are taking the blame off his shoulders one tiny pebble at a time. Think of it this way: his dump truck is full of these really small rocks. Your job is to empty that hopper, but all you have is a kitty litter scoop right now. You can imagine how long this job is going to take, but even though with each scoop the pebbles keep slipping through and you only toss out 2 or 3 pebbles each time, he can feel the weight difference. I really think that right now this is all you can do. Soon, youíll get a scoop without holes in it, then later a shovel. Eventually, heíll start emptying his own hopper, but this will take time and for you to listen to the advice of those whoíve already posted here.

Keep doing what youíre doing. You may not see it, but it is effecting his heart Ė one tiny pebble at a time.

Lieswearmedown posted 9/25/2019 00:36 AM

There are always the standard (but true) answers. I was stupid. I was selfish. It felt good to be desired. You were good enough, I was the problem. You werenít able to meet my unrealistic expectations for my life.

Hi -

BW here.

All those answers are true, but they are superficial in the context of the deeper problem. In other words, there are WHYs underneath the WHYs.

ďI was selfish.Ē WHY?
ďIt felt good to be desired <by someone other than you>.Ē WHY?

One of the reasons reconciliation takes so long (when itís the type of reconciliation that is built in a firm foundation) is the layers and layers of WHYs.

Lots of times the breakdown in the process comes when you stop asking why.

Why did you choose to be selfish? Note that there are numerous questions that need to be answered to get a true, honest, laid-bare response to that single question. Questions like:

What made you think your desires were inherently more important than your integrity and commitments and his feelings?
Why didnít you go to your husband and say ďI need something, Iím feeling something, something is bothering me, something is missing?
Were you always selfish?
If so, why do you think that is the case?

None of those questions are easy to answer. They are actually gut wrenching. They suck. You are going to feel like a bad person. You are going to sound like a bad person. That said, you are also going to be an honest person. A person worth loving and staying with. Itís how you become a genuinely safe partner.

This process from both sides is ugly (no one ever wants to eat the sausage after theyíve taken a tour of a sausage factory because the process through which the sausage is made is horrible). You have to face some gritty ugly truths about your personality and your betrayed spouse will too. Affairs donít happen in a vacuum. The affair is 100 percent on you, but if your husband is giving you the gift of reconciliation, he has to be able to get to know the genuine you and accept the genuine you. That takes work also. He will have to reframe how he communicates with you knowing that you both have this difficult history. He will need to be able to understand this new deeply examined IAT (I fucking hate your username).

Itís hard. What did I learn about myself and my FW in all this?
I hold grudges.
He can be petty.
I have to make him a priority.
He has to make me a priority.
I do things to annoy him and he bottles up that stuff instead of telling me Iím annoying.
I have to make him tell me when shit bothers him.
Mr. Conflict avoidant has to grab himself by the pants and communicate calmly.
Heís annoying and I tell him so.
Neither one of us are good drivers, so we both get in the car and declare a moratorium on criticizing each otherís skillz.
I am the absolute center of his world and I know it. He is dead center of my world.
We are very different from each other.
We both wish we were more like each other.
We talk past each other sometimes and one of us has to stop and say time out.
Nobody ever died from crying.
We learned that perfection is boring and unattainable.
He thinks he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for feeding the dogs once a week.
I think he deserves a middle finger for only feeding the dogs once a week.
The hardest parts of all this for him were the deep and profound shame, knowing he was a capable liar, understanding that he nearly broke me, and that he cheapened us.

There are so many things I love about that man. Even knowing the real answers to the WHYs underneath they WHYs. It made him more human to me and real. I like that he shows me all the ugly parts too. Itís because he decided to be honest. Ugly honestly. Some of his deeper WHYs had to do with his parents and he felt deeply disloyal even telling me some of that, but he did so I could know him. None of it changes the fact that he did something shitty to me. It did allow us to both understand his horrible choices and how they can never be the choice he makes again. Iím safe with him as long as we keep talking and he continues to be honest even when itís scary.

I could write volumes on how this could all turn out for you, but Iím sure youíre overwhelmed by all the advice givers, so.... some more.

I wish you well and I tried very hard to not project my experience with cheating onto you. My goal was to help.

[This message edited by Lieswearmedown at 12:39 AM, September 25th (Wednesday)]

Iamtrash posted 9/25/2019 04:33 AM

Thank you for all the great responses. Will respond more later.

BSR, do want to address yours quickly. In the course of my long distance affair, I saw my AP on 3 occasions for several days at a time. He always knew I was married and always knew I wasnít getting divorced. He would call me out on it all the time and weíd bicker over it. Ultimately, he was hoping heíd win me over on the trips and Iíd be willing to get divorced. Now, did he fail because he didnít meet my standards or did he fail because I wasnít interested in divorce? Maybe a combination of the two? I donít really know. I do know when weíd bicker and heíd emphasize that I wasnít leaving my husband, it didnít take much effort to convince him that I ďcared.Ē Sometimes it was as simple as, ďIím not trying to hurt you. You just know my life is established here.Ē ďHey, Iím still talking to you though. Donít be upset.Ē ďIf youíre going to keep arguing over the same things, we donít have to talk.Ē ďItís ok if you move on, I fully support that.Ē (Even though I said that, he wasnít willing to move on. Once things went sour between us but before Dday, he probably told me 8 different times he was going to block me/had blocked me. He never did. It took me blocking him to get him to vanish. BH talked to him a few days after dday, thatís when we found out he hadnít really blocked me.) More than anything, he was pacified. Even though he knew that I wasnít divorcing, he still wanted to try. And I let him. Completely. I let him make a fool of himself.

Chaos posted 9/25/2019 06:39 AM

Your response to BSR sounded eerily familiar.

BUT - I heard this a lot from WH post DDay [pick one]. His LTAP was married and lived many hours away. They still managed to get together several times a year.

[Allegedly] she tried her darnedest to get WH to leave me. And he [allegedly] remained steadfast. He loved his wife. He wasn't going to leave his wife and family. AP couldn't do anything to change that. The more he professed his love for me - the harder AP tried. It became a viscous cycle of toxicity and frankly [from my BS persepctive] just another game they played. The harder she tried to convince him - the more he professed his love. The more he professed his love - the more she tried to convince him. Post DDay I have come to realize from conversations with OBS that likely she really wouldn't have left - OBS is quite wealthy - in reality getting WH to leave me would have just been a toxic conquest to AP.

Both AP and WH spent so much time blocking and unblocking each other. They'd block and then see who would somehow try to get the other to unblock. They'd unblock just to see if the other was looking. It was sick and twisted and juvenile. Yet a toxic dance they both did.

Toxicity that WH says he is/was ashamed by, don't understand why but at the same time was addicted to. He hated it. He loathed it. He couldn't live without it.

You did let him make a fool of himself. I question if you realize he was letting you do the same. And if you realize you each took enjoyment in watching the other doing that dance.

hikingout posted 9/25/2019 08:38 AM

You did let him make a fool of himself. I question if you realize he was letting you do the same. And if you realize you each took enjoyment in watching the other doing that dance.

IAT - what Chaos is saying here is the next revelation that you will likely have, or have soon if you haven't already.

It took me a while, but to understand that the AP is never a healthy person either - you can start to understand that it is a two sided manipulation. That was tough for me because secretly I think I wanted to harbor the feeling that I was special to him. That was what I was after in the affair the whole time, that validation...and to realize that he was lying about all of it made me temporarily feel really shitty.

You may be past that part of it where realizing it makes you feel shitty....but I am just wondering if you know the likelihood of what he really wanted wasn't you, but to win? I think often times the AP who keeps trying, keeps hoping that you will leave...often they really just want to feel special enough that you would give up your whole life to be with them. I don't even know if it's conscious or a subconscious thought they are having. But, once they "win" then they don't feel as passionate about everything. I suspect that is what would have happened in my situation played out. It's why there is such big statistics out there that most affair relationships that move on to an exclusive phase fails. I think I saw something like 97% of the time.

Seeing the falseness and manipulation of the relationship is hard. Realizing what you gambled was based on a situation built on a mutual ego-stroking extravaganza is horrifying sometimes. I don't get the sense you really pine for or miss the AP, but seeing them as a villain in the story is easier to do once you see you were a villain too. I get the feeling that you are just getting a sense of that. The AP can mean nothing to us, but the basis that we meant nothing to them is eye-opening too.

GeoV posted 9/25/2019 08:42 AM

[This message edited by GeoV at 11:43 PM, September 25th (Wednesday)]

KingRat posted 9/25/2019 11:18 AM

Originally you wrote:

Someone I never stopped thinking about and had never stopped loving. We didnít end in bad terms, no ill wishes towards each other...I accepted his apology and told him that nothing could come of it as I was married.

Over time, that changed. He sensed some of my marital issues. I never had to tell him. I found myself riding on old feelings. Remembering the good times. The life I wanted was the life he and I were supposed to have all those years ago. I trusted he was the same person he was back then. This was a long distance affair. On 3 occasions I went to see him...Sex happened, but it wasnít about sex to me. Never was. That part wasnít lacking in my marriage. It was the emotional connection, wanting the same things. But even after being with him, I still didnít want to leave my husband... My answer never changed. I wouldnít leave my husband.

AP tried hard to win me over, show me he was the better option. But with each visit, I realized more and more what a mistake it was.

Now you write:

it felt good to be desired and wanted, it felt good to hear him beg me to be with him. He and I had a history where he hurt me. It felt good having the upper hand, it felt good having him beg and plead while knowing I had no desire to give him what he wanted most. I took what I wanted out of it and left the rest. When heíd start to question my motives, it was so easy to lure him back into trusting me.

Which is it? Having a false belief in an emotional connection or having no interest in him and getting off on the flattery of this guy trying to "win you over?"

I get that you say you've always been clear with him that you would never leave your marriage, but we all know that actions speak louder than words. You drove 8 hours just to see this guy and spent multiple days with him. You talked to him for months. It's hard to believe that this was a premeditated ego trip as some sort of revenge from years prior.

If I were your husband, I'd be questioning it too because it doesn't pass the sniff test.

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