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Helping what you canít prove

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Iamtrash posted 10/19/2019 06:28 AM

What do you do when your spouse is questioning things that you have absolutely no way to prove?

Rightfully, BH is questioning our entire relationship and how I felt throughout it. He is wondering if I ever truly loved him or if he was always disposable. Heís questioning if AP came along sooner, would we have been toast.

I hate that heís suffering with these thoughts. I hate that my actions have forced him to think like this and question everything about us. What he is feeling simply isnít true. I have accepted that it was impossible to love him while having an affair. I know I loved him before the affair. I know there is a point where I was strong and confident in my marriage and feelings for him and us. Iím also certain I feel all these things now.

I canít prove any of this. So what can I do to help him?

[This message edited by Iamtrash at 7:27 AM, October 19th (Saturday)]

Iamtrash posted 10/19/2019 06:29 AM

Meant to remove stop sign. I feel like I need BS opinions.

I donít want to see him hurting with these thoughts. I just donít know what to do for him.

Zugzwang posted 10/19/2019 08:10 AM

What he is feeling simply isnít true

There is a big difference in his feelings being true to him and your POV being true for you. Why don't you ask him why he may feel or think you didn't always love him? It might surprise you if he brings up some selfish or self serving behaviors you may not of have been aware of that weren't loving to him. You both might benefit from doing some research on the stages of a committed relationship and figuring out where you were on it. Be honest and truthful. Don't focus where you are now. Focus on where you were.

I know there is a point where I was strong and confident in my marriage and feelings for him and us.
Break that apart. When did you stop? Was it really you or the marriage? Was it you not being confident in yourself to begin with so you weren't confident in the marriage because he didn't feed you the validation you didn't feed yourself? Were the feelings for him as a person or what he could give you? What happened when he stopped feeding you if he did?

Sadwife53 posted 10/19/2019 08:31 AM

It may help you to try to understand the excruciating chaos the BS is thrown into. If you aren't who they thought you were and their marriage isn't what they thought it was, then what is real?

I described it as watching a "This Is Us" type show where none of the earlier scenes make any sense because Jack didn't really love his wife like he pretended to. It is the most destabilizing horrible feeling.

IMO in order to have an affair, you must be a pathologically selfish person. I had to question what my WH really meant by "love". Did he love me for his sake only? Did he love me for only what I provided for him? Companionship, kids, respectability...?
Or did he love me for my sake? Did he cherish me and love me for what he could do for me? This was the way that I loved him. Was it because of FOO issues and sense of entitlement that he never REALLY loved me for my sake, even after 30 years?

Work on yourself. Work on becoming a less selfish person. Prove it to him through consistent unselfish and loving actions over time.

Lifeitself posted 10/19/2019 11:24 AM

Have you offered him polygraph? He can form the questions to include these concerns. If you pass poly, it may give him an additional level if comfort.

You guys been through a lot and iamtrash, its clear that you guys love each other. Also you are patiently going in the rollercoaster with him. I believe you guys will do it.

landclark posted 10/19/2019 12:55 PM

Hopefully itís ok for me to post here since you said you wanted to remove the stop sign.

I can understand where your husband is coming from. I also question whether or not my WH ever truly loved me, if I was just good enough for now until something better came along, and I go over the what ifís and have trouble believing his answers to my theoretical (or is it hypothetical??) questions.

I just had this conversation with him this morning. I asked him if the first EAP had come along earlier, if she was available, if she was in our state, if she was actually as hot as high school instead of severely overweight, would he have considered starting a real relationship with her? He answered that yes, he would have been tempted to pursue a 32 year old high school crush fantasy to see where it went. He was honest, and I appreciate that, but it did make me a little sad. Two weeks ago though, he would have just told me what I wanted to hear which is absolutely not, no way, so I see this as progress. Now if she were to show up on our doorstep today, I have zero doubt that he would say no thanks and turn her away.

The thing is though, none of that did happen. He wasnít presented with that choice. I could spend so much time with the what ifís. What if I had found out before getting pregnant. What if I found out during pregnancy and miscarried as a result. What if I found out before buying a house. Sooo very many what ifís. Though I think itís important in some ways to understand the answers to the what ifís to determine if we truly were plan B all along and still are, or if they truly could have been way, way worse and werenít out of lack of opportunity vs lack of wanting, I also think itís important to not get stuck there. To not let it keep you balled up in knots. Not just in infidelity, but in life. I can dwell on the what ifís, or I can focus on the what now. I think thatís part of my personal journey of healing. I see people say a lot ďif you knew then what you know now, would you consider a relationship with them?Ē. I think most peopleís answer would be of course not. However, it doesnít matter because you didnít know then, you did pursue a relationship, and now you need to deal with what now.

I think itís important for my WH to understand he didnít love me like he should have during the affairs. Whatís also important, and possibly more important, is how he loves me now and going forward. What he does to make amends and become a safe partner. Eventually, with enough consistency and honesty, I think my what ifís will start to become less and less. It just takes time and good behavior on his part.

Now obviously everybodyís situation is so different and how we process things is so different, but this is how Iím starting to process my what ifís and my way of thinking.

Anyway, not sure if that made sense. I guess a long way of saying to continue to do the work, continue to be honest even if itís not the warm and fuzzy answer, and continue to support and encourage his healing.

I think the fact that you want to make things better for him is awesome, but as BSs, we also need to work on healing ourselves. Iím just now starting to understand that.

Thanksgiving2016 posted 10/19/2019 14:04 PM

Sorry but Iím not sure you can do anything to convince him otherwise. Itís the betrayal itself that tells the BS they were never first priority. Most days at this point I can push the thoughts aside and can even believe Iím first now but before DDay Iím convinced I was never first. Ever. Just convenient.

DaddyDom posted 10/19/2019 14:13 PM

I will share with you what my wife has shared with me since day 1. You prove your love for him in the very same way that you proved your non-love for him. By showing him. When you had your affair, it sent a very clear message to your spouse. You didn't have to tell him how you felt, and you didn't have to explain it to him. Your message came through loud and clear. Proving you love him is the same, it will come through your actions, your choices, your decisions. Words are meaningless at this point, and anything you say about the past or present, as you said, cannot be proven, so all he can do is assume it is a lie or at least have cause to doubt it.

How you prove it to him now is in being open, honest and non-defensive in all things. By putting his needs first, and sacrificing some of your own for him when possible. He saw you put effort into getting what you needed during the affair. Now he needs to see you put effort into getting what you need again, but this time, what you need, needs to be him.

The other thing that needs to happen is that he needs to see real change in you. You are the person that cheated on him. As long as you remain the same person, then you are still a danger. How can he trust you if nothing has changed? So he needs to see that you can see in yourself what went wrong, how you allowed yourself to have an affair and to devastate him, and what effort and changes you are making to not be that person anymore. That doesn't happen overnight, and he knows that, but still, he needs to see effort and progress and determination.

So what can I do to help him?

One last comment. You can't help him. He needs to deal with his pain in his own time and in his own way. The only way you can "help" him is by not hindering him (TT, lying, being selfish or defensive) and by giving him reasons to feel safe(r). He needs your love and support, and sometimes that just means giving him space and time.

Go to IC if you can, read books and articles, go to support groups, and more than anything, learn to love yourself and be happy in your own skin. He knows that when you stepped out on him that you were looking for something that didn't exist within yourself, it wasn't about him. So in order to give him a reason to trust you won't do this again, he needs to know that the reasons you cheated have been removed. Learning to love yourself and "be enough" for yourself means that you won't need to step-out and find extra attention again. And let's be honest, that's what is best for you as well. So work on yourself, hard, and share your progress with him.

I can't promise you much, and no one, not even your BH, can promise you how things are going to end. But what I can promise you is that if you learn to love yourself and become someone that you are proud of, you will be happier and more content in your life, regardless of the outcome.

BluesPower posted 10/19/2019 17:00 PM

I know that you say all of these things now. I get it.

But you have to realize that your affair, is kind of way worse than most. I am sorry to say, but it is.

You need to take a poly, it MAY change his mind.

But more than that, Listen, you really, really, really need to make sure that the things you are saying really are true.

Because if you really don't love him or don't love him that much, please don't torture him anymore and put yourself through trying R with him. Just don't.

Some of the stuff you have done is way beyond the pale, and you need to recognize that.

Be sure what you want, don't torture him anymore.

Then if that is true, SHOW HIM. Literally do what ever you have to do to SHOW Him that you love him and always did, except when you were having an affair and lying about it.

See what I mean...

[This message edited by BluesPower at 5:01 PM, October 19th (Saturday)]

66charger posted 10/19/2019 20:40 PM

It is not just your actions, but the very words you wrote on this forum that lead him to think this way. How do you prove something that requires him to disregard what you said and what you wrote?

This is a question that may not have an answer that will help you. Prove that you love him today and will always do so tomorrow.

[This message edited by 66charger at 8:33 AM, October 20th (Sunday)]

Iamtrash posted 10/20/2019 05:47 AM

Zug, breaking it apart is a very good place to start.

Thank you to everyone for the feedback. You have all left valid points and given solid advice, especially in regards to the BS perspective. I appreciate all the feedback and have a place to start working. This is going to be like climbing a mountain. I am committed to reaching the top.

Rideitout posted 10/20/2019 06:56 AM

I would suggest to pointing to evidence from before the A that shows your love for him. However, make sure you point at things that are actually expressions of love TO HIM, not the expressions of love that you'd like to see yourself.

My W pointed to lots of loving things she did before the A when we had discussions like this. But she totally missed the fact that those loving things are the way that she felt loved, not the ways that I felt loved. So we had to go round and round on this, yes, you cooked dinner most nights, I appreciate that, but that in no way makes me feel loved, it just makes me feel like your thoughtful and conscientious. When we looked into the things that made me feel loved, it was pretty obvious that she wasn't doing that, or, more correctly, was doing it, but 1/10th as much as she did for the AP.

So I'd work through this by example. Do you know your BS's love language? If so, look for the places in your relationship where you went out of the way to speak that language to him and point to those places as proof.

waitedwaytoolong posted 10/20/2019 11:34 AM

When the BS goes down this path it is a rough road. Very hard to prove, or unprove a hypothetical.

We spent hours on this. I maintained that had I not caught it, her affair would have continued for years. He had a job as an electrician that was very flexible. She was a SAHM with no kids at home. I worked in the city and was hours away They screwed in my house with no one around

I donít think it would have continued at the almost every day pace, but him stopping by a couple of times a month would be a piece of cake for them. She said she had a hard stop when the renovation of our house was done. I never bought it.

I asked her if she had a hard stop that it would never happen in the first place. Yes. I asked her if she had a hard stop that it wouldnít happen after the first time. Yes. I asked her if she had a hard stop after he humiliated her in front of his friends. Yes

So her telling me that she had a hard stop meant nothing. Yet in her mind she was convinced that she would end it.

It was a question that never got resolved. If I would have been able to reconcile, I would have had to tuck the doubt away.

He is going to have to just focus on the facts at hand. He wonít divorce or reconcile on the hypothetical. It should just come down to how much he wants the marriage. You have to swallow a lot of crap to reconcile. This will just have to be part of that.

[This message edited by waitedwaytoolong at 11:35 AM, October 20th (Sunday)]

hikingout posted 10/21/2019 09:36 AM

I think early on I wanted to prove a lot of things to my H. At some point, I realized we just had to start over again altogether. He needed time to decide what he believed of our Pre-A marriage. the affair was disorienting to him and he didn't know what to believe, and he sure as heck wasn't just going to take what I had to say at face value.

I think the best thing to focus on is just continuing to dig. The more introspective and honest I got with myself, the more I was able to understand the ways I was a good spouse and a bad spouse prior to the affair. And, I just kept sharing back and making those changes. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon. At some point, H decided that he saw I wanted to change, I was consistently working on it, that my narrative and view point was evolving. It became less important to him what was true before, and he was able to focus more on what was true now. He saw a woman who authentically wanted to be a better person, someone who wanted nothing more than to be with him and show him love, and someone who was very remorseful over the affair, and some of the other ways she had been throughout our marriage. And, from that we had something to build on. The further along you get the more the present is going to make a big difference. It's best that you focus on proving yourself now.

I would often apologize that I put him in a situation where he can't believe anything that I say, rather than to argue points that in the end is just trying to persuade him into seeing things from your point of view. To me, this is continuing to try and control the outcome or feeling you have power over it. It's an illusion that isn't going to help you get to where you need to go.

I know that this question comes from wanting to comfort him and make him feel better, but for the longer term it will help him more to be able to believe in you moving forward. Focus as much energy on that as you possibly can. Keep digging, acknowledging the things you did that weren't healthy, keep apologizing for specific things. In the end, we can't change the past and we can't control the future...and any energy to put to that is energy that can be best focused on working on who you are right this moment and being there for him. You are still operating in fear, try and let the fears for yourself go. (Oh and by the way, I am still trying to practice what I preach here. We are human and a lot of us operate out of fear, that's not a condemnation, but more of a direction of what will help you the most)

[This message edited by hikingout at 9:39 AM, October 21st (Monday)]

layla1234 posted 10/21/2019 10:23 AM

I'm also a BS struggling with this but for a different reason. My WH TTed the hell out of me. He had many opportunities to gain back trust by offering to tell me about at least 3 times NC was broken and he didn't. He gave me just enough info about the affair before it was discovered (we're just friends, but I've developed a crush on her. She doesn't know anything about it and I'm never going to act on it-all lies).

He knew this COW our whole marriage so of course, I don't believe his timeline at all. Nothing he can do can make me feel any different about this and my gut won't drop it so we are just stagnant in R. He has also maintained there was never any contact since the last time he lied, so there has literally never been any instance where he could build trust back. (If she had attempted to contact him in some way after he left his job and he told me about it I feel like that would be a giant leap for us, but she apparently hasn't). I also don't believe he left a job with her for 7 years without her saying some sort of goodbye to each other.

After reading hundreds of stories on here about how affairs ended, I'm not sure I believe any of it.

RedHeadTemper posted 10/21/2019 12:31 PM

BS here. There's a lot of things I hear from my wife that she can't prove. Like during the affair she told me she loved me. But reading her text messages told me a different story. I don't know if I can ever trust what she says ever again. I can tell you that she has told me a couple of issues that she has and is working on fixing them. I've seen consistency and change even when she thinks I'm not paying attention I notice. It helps to gain trust. But my image of things she's told me is shattered. I'll never be able to prove her story. But I can prove changes she makes now.
You're BS needs to see consistency of honesty, even in really tough situations. I'd try being 100% honest on everything from here on out. No white lies or anything. If you can suprise him with honesty, even better. He probably is hung up on the trust, not so much as proving what you day. You need to show him that he can trust you. And don't ever ever ever betray that trust again.

Chaos posted 10/21/2019 13:00 PM

Iamtrash - BS here. And I struggle with the same. And there is not one thing that my WH could say or do to change that unless it involved a time machine.

But...what you CAN do is focus on what you can prove. And that takes consistency. Proven behavior over time.

You can also show empathy, patience, understanding and love. You can answer all of his questions. Over and over and over and over. With patience. And understanding.

You can be open, honest and transparent.

You can act like his grace is the greatest gift bestowed upon you.

You can dig deep into your whys. Not the surface whys. But the ones that reside in that deep dark place you don't want to delve into.

You can go to IC and not act like you resent it. While confidential, you can share any profound revelation with him.

You can share with him any insights or revelations you have. Sometimes sharing something simple like how much you enjoy sitting around a firepit sipping cider on a chilly evening with him.

You can learn what he needs and when. When to give the hug if you notice him having a rough patch vs when to give him space.

You can bite your tongue. The snide remarks that may slip out are barbs he needs to expel. Eventually he will only think them. And even those thoughts diminish. When one slips, you can look him in the eye and say "I'm sorry" and sincerely repeat often.

You can try to put yourself in his shoes. Ask yourself [and be honest] if roles were reversed - what would you be doing?

Best of luck Iamrecycling. I remember you used that analogy before. It resonated with me. And it showed me you may be getting it. It is a good analogy. So that's what I'll call you.

emergent8 posted 10/21/2019 13:27 PM

Hi iamtrash,

Let me start by saying that I've followed your story and I am impressed with the progress you've made in a few short months. You still have a loooong road ahead of you, but I think you're taking steps on the right track. I think it's important to acknowledge things like that.

BH is questioning our entire relationship and how I felt throughout it.

This is really normal for your H. One of the hardest things I experienced as a BS in the aftermath of D-Day is trying to reconcile what I previously knew or thought about my life and my relationship with the truth. It is incredibly disorienting to not be able to trust your own memory/beliefs. I spent a lot of time doing what your husband is doing and trying to cobble together my own history.

What do you do when your spouse is questioning things that you have absolutely no way to prove?

There is absolutely nothing you can say right now that will: (a) satisfy him (b) provide him with much comfort or (c) stop him from questioning his life. That doesn't mean you should not reassure him and answer his questions as patiently and as truthfully as you can. Do not just say what you think he wants to hear. Be thoughtful in your responses, honesty (even if it hurts) is an opportunity to build trust. For me, those small, uncomfortable admissions, the things that my H was ashamed to admit because they would hurt me or because they were shameful, were all tiny little trust-builders that allowed me to start to rebuild.

As others have said, it is your actions that matter now. As you know, you have demonstrated to your husband that you can lie, repeatedly, in a way and about things specifically painful and life-altering to him, so please be patient when he does not believe your words. Comfort him when you can and when he needs it. Try your best not be defensive - even if you have to repeat the same thing 100 times a week. The repetition is normal because he is trying to reconstruct his own reality. Rather than be frustrated, see it as an opportunity to demonstrate your consistency.

Remember, just as you are struggling with your inability to prove, he is struggling with the fact that it cannot be proven.

I would often apologize that I put him in a situation where he can't believe anything that I say, rather than to argue points that in the end is just trying to persuade him into seeing things from your point of view. To me, this is continuing to try and control the outcome or feeling you have power over it. It's an illusion that isn't going to help you get to where you need to go.

^^^ This. Over and over, this.

I would suggest to pointing to evidence from before the A that shows your love for him. However, make sure you point at things that are actually expressions of love TO HIM, not the expressions of love that you'd like to see yourself.

I would be careful about this. It goes without saying that RIO and I are different people and maybe your H is more like RIO than me, but this would absolutely piss me off. It would come off to me as defensive or argumentative or diminishing of my feelings in the moment. It would not "prove" anything to me.

That is not to say, that think there is a time and a place to remind your H about happy moments and things about your pre-A relationship that remind him that your relationship is worth saving. Sometimes in moments where I was feeling particularly low and like R was insurmountable, being reminded of these things were helpful.

Good luck to you both.

emergent8 posted 10/21/2019 13:30 PM

Great post, Chaos. A good read for any WS.

DoinBettr posted 10/21/2019 13:33 PM

Oh yes, the BS questioning the whole marriage phase. That is harder on the WS than the BS. The BS will look at you with contempt, but what feeling are you worried about.
Are you worried he looks at you differently?

What your BS is really asking, "What was the 1 thing that triggered you to choose the AP over him?"

He wants to know this because he feels betrayed, but also tricked. He wants to know why "HE" didn't see that switch flip in you.

So lets talk about fixing it. You have a lot of homework, why not go this route, You don't know when you stopped loving him. Try that. Being honest with yourself and him. Then start to write down each time you were really worried about his feelings before you cheated. What was the action and what triggered that feeling?
Provide him those. They might help him. Those will be small bread crumbs about times you did love him before you cheated.
Look at him and realize again that him staying while believing you were screwing him over the whole time is another sign of him putting his heart over his head. Giving for you something you would never do for him. Why don't you love him like that? If you think you do, how are you showing it?
Just some spurs to keep you moving. I think your heart is still a little hard. You know you are really good at hardening your heart to people and especially for your BH.

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