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How did you stop arguing, minimizing, defending and justifying?

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wantstorepair posted 2/6/2020 09:28 AM

Failing miserably at stoping my defensiveness, my justifications, my minimizations, and my arguing. It is absurd that I have not grasped this, and cannot figure out why I am not stepping off this very obvious destructive path.

Can the WSs there please share how you conquered these terrible habits and overcame your selfishness? Knowing I need to stop acting this way in order to be a better, kind person and to stop hurting my BW more, and before any possible progress can be made.

Asking please for your stories of what worked for you.

Thank you!

Change4thebetter posted 2/6/2020 09:46 AM

Iím only a year out and itís been a rough year but what works for me is to shut up and listen. Not just hear his words but listen. Not cut him off by saying ďno!Ē by default which Iíve learned is another avoidant strategy I use that he hates. I try to be aware and careful not to give a reason, excuse, justification or minimize what heís saying. I have to focus not to retreat into my mind and tune him out when I feel uncomfortable and actively NOT dissociate. Now I stop and I LISTEN. Nothing else matters. He doesnít want excuses, justifications, stories etc. He wants me to see him and the pain that I caused.

I know some of my I natural defenses and honestly, Iím still learning many of them that I didnít realize earlier but knowing what my defenses are and working on stopping before I start has been a lot of my work this year. I am not always successful but even when I resort to a defense, I am no quick to acknowledge and admit thatís what it was. This has been progress.

You need to stop and listen to what your wife is saying. You need to not open your mouth and just take in her words and where they are coming from- even if they hurt you. Let them hurt. Let her express herself and her hurt that you caused.

I know Iím not a bad person. I know I did a terrible thing. I know I caused the person I love the most to hurt immeasurably. I know there are consequences to my actions- even if that means facing truths about myself Iíd rather ignore. Even if that means getting down and dirty and going to a place I worked so hard to hide away.

Why are your arguing, justifying, minimizing and defending yourself? Do you not believe that? Do you think the reason matters? Do you think she cares? Where is it coming from? Learning the reason for my defensiveness, learning what my defenses are has been paramount to my work on myself. What encourages me is seeing how much this has also benefitted my BH. You need to do the hard introspective work on YOU. Thatís how you will uncover the core for your defensiveness. Good luck!

[This message edited by Change4thebetter at 10:40 AM, February 6th, 2020 (Thursday)]

hikingout posted 2/6/2020 10:37 AM

Listening as change4thebetter said was an important aspect. And when I didn't understand, asking questions out of curiosity and genuinely wanting to be compliant in meeting the need.

Empathy and remorse which is gained through communication and listening. You have been very unreliable in your marriage. Every single time you don't follow through or exhibit more unreliability is going to make it worse.

Dr. Gottman has some good stuff on conflict resolution that you might be able to pick up some pointers on in terms of communicating.

Arguing, defending, minimizing and justifying all have one thing in common: They make the situation all about you. What you want, you trying to control the narrative, and the outcome.

Really internalizing that it's not up to you to try and control things. The only thing you can control is yourself.

If we love, truly love someone, then we want to make them happy. We want to make their world a better place. By genuinely wanting these things, we want to learn to be a better partner, how to help our spouse heal, how to fix what is broken inside of ourselves.

I suspect that the last thing: what is broken inside of you, is really what is in your way. It will always be in your way, in every relationship moving forward until you figure out what those things are. These are the barriers you have against truly loving someone. What are you afraid of in being vulnerable with her? What are you afraid of that makes you rebel? What are the things that you need to change and how will you do it? Those are all things I had to answer for myself, and unfortunately there are no real instructions for it. We have to learn the origins of where that stuff comes from (family of origin) and the way those things that we learned effect out we conduct our lives.

There is no quick fix, no story. It's about surrendering to the process, and every day doing your best to be reliable, for her and yourself.

I would also spend some time reading about trauma. If you understand the symptoms of trauma (and I am sure your wife exhibits many, many of these based on the way she has been treated in your marriage) this may help you empathize with why she is reacting in the moment the way she is. You will find that if you can sit with that and be there for her that the overall outcome can slowly change. You are on limited time from the sounds of what your wife says. I would use as much time as possible to research some of the different aspects of what I have just shared with you.

Have you read how to help your spouse heal from infidelity? That would be a step if you really sat down and read it with eyes wide open.

foreverlabeled posted 2/6/2020 11:16 AM

What worked for me was dropping my need for self preservation. There was an underlying fear of being exposed. Minimizing and deflecting kept the exposure at bay. I didn't want it to be revealed that it really was that ugly, that I really am that person.

Stepping into his pain helped too. I was able to face what my actions did as they were surely reflected back to me. It was humbling and allowed room for compassion rather than defensiveness.

Can you share some of the ways you are still practicing this? I feel you would get far more out of it if you did, because we can help you figure out the root of YOUR issues.

MrCleanSlate posted 2/6/2020 11:34 AM


I actually wanted to change. God did I ever welcome fixing my M. I love my wife. I always did. I was too stubborn, proud, male tarzan stupid to actually do that earlier.

No different than finally deciding to quit smoking, or quit drinking. Which I did cold turkey in the last year. I learnt something about myself. Commitment. No waffling.

I didn't do it for my wife. I did it for me.

When you are ready you will change if that is what you really want.

Maybe, just maybe, you don't want to change yourself. you need to be honest to yourself first.

You aren't saving a marriage, you are avoiding dealing with your shit.

wantstorepair posted 2/6/2020 12:59 PM

Self-preservation. Selfish, protecting me and my ego and psyche at all costs, even at the expense of the woman whom is wonderful and I promised to care for and love. I have not loved and cared for her, and made my need for validation and self preservation paramount. My arguing and defending and justifying and minimizing does all that, and even shifts the blame back to her. She is the victim, not me, and foreverlabled yes I have to stop protecting myself. If I win, she looses...and I keep insisting on winning to protect myself and not face who I am and what I have done. How did you stop protecting yourself? How did you drop it?

foreverlabeled posted 2/6/2020 14:12 PM

Everyone has already lost if that is how you want to view this situation.

I don't understand what you are trying to win, it's not a game. Everyone already knows what kind of person you've shown yourself to be, nothing you can say or do to change that fact.

So, you start to own those actions and that person. Say yep, that's me. I did that. You look for that person in your wife's pain and own that you are the cause. That it really is that bad. You really did cause her this trauma. Severe trauma. She's not making this shit up. Its happening and it's real. Humble yourself to that.

I guess I was able to drop the self preservation because I understood that if I wanted to survive this with my H that it wasn't going to serve me. Not in this situation. There wasn't a need for it, and though I was scared of the amount of vulnerability I was going to have to bring to the table, there were things that I feared more. Like losing him.

It takes courage to achieve the things we need to.

MrCleanSlate posted 2/6/2020 14:28 PM

It takes courage to achieve the things we need to.

Yeah. That right there.

foreverlabeled posted 2/6/2020 17:20 PM

I was at work when replying to this thread and I wasn't able to invest in this as much as wanted as I felt rushed.

Let me say this, the best piece of advice I have ever received is this; you must be able to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.

I feel like this is what it comes down to for you. Your ego/psyche is too fragile to be challenged and no one could disagree that it would be uncomfortable if it were to collapse on itself and bring you down to reality. That to confront the lies you feed it and throw yourself into complete upheaval, is all but comfort.

We like being comfortable, we like easy. It's like the law of the path of least resistance. It applies to humans as well. We are hardwired to follow just the same as flowing water. To interrupt this can trigger our brains to send a message that isn't conducive to change. Change is hard after all. We don't like hard. The tendency to avoid effort is strong.

Surviving infidelity takes a lot of effort, more than we ever thought to be so. Here you are what a decade later? and what effort have you put forth? How uncomfortable have you allowed yourself to get? What have you been doing this entire time? Are you even living in the same world as your BW?

Now, I agree with Mr. that you have to want it. But it goes beyond that, you have to live it, breathe it, seek it. Like, you have to actually do something about it. If you aren't there at this point, what are you doing then? What is your end game? Where you hoping for some rug sweeping? The ol forgive and forget? It's not working is it? So, what now?

Zugzwang posted 2/6/2020 17:24 PM

How did you stop protecting yourself? How did you drop it?

By realizing that what I was trying to protect wasn't worth it. Like foreverlabled said. Why do you want to protect what isn't working and clearly is making you both miserable. Doing this is easy after you really want to do it. Besides there is nothing left to protect from anyone, they all know who you really are. They all have their thoughts about who you became to begin with anyways. By not owning it and becoming vulnerable, you just choose to become someone worse.

DaddyDom posted 2/6/2020 19:43 PM

Lots of good advice here. It's hard to hear others when our own voices are louder, especially when it's the voice in our head.

For me, I had to realize that all that defensiveness was really my own sense of shame, and moreover, my own sense of worth (which was non-existent). I was angry at my wife. I blamed her. I was angry at her because I was still a pentulant child inside, one who saw her as a "mother" of sorts, and emotionally, I felt abandoned, because she was no longer loving towards me, no longer made me feel special. I wanted her to love me again. So I did everything I could to try and "nice her" into loving me again. Of course she saw through that, and stood her ground, and that would only make me feel more empty and lost, and in my fear, and anger, and overwhelming desperation for attention, I would rage against her, like a child throwing a tantrum. That was the heart of the defensiveness. On the outside, I could admit that I had done terrible things to her, that I was the one who betrayed her and deserved her ire. But inside, the only voice I could hear was my own, and it was pitiful.

You need to stop and listen to what your wife is saying. You need to not open your mouth and just take in her words and where they are coming from- even if they hurt you. Let them hurt. Let her express herself and her hurt that you caused.

This advice from @changeforthebetter is spot on. Sometimes it is not about what words our spouses are saying, it is the "why" of what they are saying. Once we have discovered our own "why's" of why we had the affair, I think the next step is understanding the "whys" of our spouses. When your spouse says something that makes you feel hurt or angry, why do you think they said that? If you find that you say mean/defensive things to your spouse when you feel scared and hurt and unsure inside, then what does that mean? Could it be that she says things because of how she feels inside? Think of all this pain and hurt and emptiness you feel inside, and how desperate it can feel, how endless, and note how it makes us lash out when all we really want to do is cry. We just want to be heard, and to be loved, and understood.

Our spouses need to know that we understand what we did to them. I mean really understand, on a deeper level. It isn't about what you did, or who you did it with, or any of the associated details. It is about how those things made them feel inside. Nothing about sharing our passwords, or writing timelines, or throwing away things from the affair makes the hurt and emptiness inside of them go away. In fact, just last night, my wife was telling me that every time I couldn't see or hear her, that it was 100 times more painful than the affair itself. It was worse.

The next time you feel defensive, I suggest this. Just be quiet and listen. Then go take some time to reflect on not only what was said, but why. For example, if she says, "You forgot to do <some task>...", is she really saying, "You forgot about me. Again. I don't matter to you." And if she says more directly, "I don't matter to you. You don't love me.", does telling her that you do love her really what she needs to hear? Maybe she needs to hear what she already knows. That there was simply no way you could have loved her and done that to her. She just needs to hear that you understand what she feels and knows inside. I know it might feel ass-backwards right now, but I think honesty and vulnerability are much more loving than any words we say.

I think you will find that, the more you listen to and "feel" her emotions, and the more honest you are with yourself within, the defensiveness will take care of itself. This is why I preach about self-love so much. Once we don't require others to make us feel better, we can instead be there for them, and see and hear their pain over our own.

Need2Do posted 2/6/2020 20:43 PM

Thank you for starting this thread....

MrCleanSlate posted 2/7/2020 06:41 AM

How did you stop protecting yourself? How did you drop it?

To add to what Zugzwang said I stopped the protecting and deflecting and defensiveness by one day early after D-Day realizing that what I did for years before was not working. I took a chance and laid myself bare in front of my wife. I let go of everything and she responded with compassion and kindness to me and encouraged me.

Do you love your Wife? If you do then you need to trust her with everything you are. Telling the truth was a first step. Just the truth, no justification, no reasons why.

For example - "I am late because I was at the bar and I wanted to have a second beer" See, no embellishing or trying to excuse. Just the facts. Your spouse may ask why, or she may be angry that you did not call. That is fine. That is how things work.

Zugzwang posted 2/7/2020 09:18 AM

^^^^My wife did the same thing. I never would have thought she would go that far. I have seen her cut people out of her life that hurt her. Her mother, abusive stepfathers, and her brother. Yet, I realized these people never bothered to earn her. We never expect all that simply because we aren't personally capable of it ourselves at the time. We are so conditional and way too self serving to even comprehend acceptance and Grace from selfless people.

****This is about me and her acceptance and being vulnerable. Her choosing to be a partner to me when I owned it. It isn't the same as me choosing to cheat on her and banking on her compassion, character, and unconditional love to keep her from leaving.

Hurtmyheart posted 2/7/2020 18:18 PM

I've read your posts and your wives also, wantstorepair. You say you love your wife and children and want to become the best husband and father you possibly can be.

Your wife says you rage and have fits when things don't go your way. You say I'm so sorry you feel that way to your wife on SI. She says that you say these things for show because you want others (the outside world) to perceive you differently. It's kind of like you have two sides to your personality, one you show to the outside world and your family gets your anger, resentment, rage and everything bad. Your family are not here for you to abuse. That is very wrong. Even if this is how you were treated when you were young. Just because this is what you grew up knowing doesn't make it right.

Your job is to love, protect, be kind to them, have understanding, supportive when they need to lean on you, friendship, compassion and anything else you may think of, wantstorepair.

I think you have things backwards. Your family is supposed to be your safe place. Maybe see and treat them as such?

nekonamida posted 2/7/2020 18:43 PM

Hurtmyheart is right and I'd like to add that, "I'm sorry you feel that way," is a terrible way to apologize to your BW. That's an apology reserved for Karen at the office who is pissed that you got your kids a pure bred dog for Christmas but has a hoard of pomeranians at home. It's meant for people who are upset over something that doesn't affect them in the slightest. It is NOT an apology for people you've hurt and continue hurting with your actions.

Practice saying you're sorry. No ifs, and, or buts. No additional clarification needed. Really own it and sincerely mean it which includes throwing everything you have in to never ever hurting your BS again with your tantrums. And if you can't say you will never do it again, let her go. Give her the easiest and kindest D possible. Let her heal instead of being retraumatized by you every time you JADE (justify, argue, defend, explain).

Iamtrash posted 2/7/2020 19:13 PM

Talk less and listen more. Answer questions without making it a debate. Cut, dry. True and to the point. Not everything needs a response. In particular, when a BS is expressing their feelings. Nothing you say in return can change how they feel in that moment. Acknowledgement is more important than debate. Instead of ďI wasnít tying to make you feel (x) by doing thisĒ try ďIím sorry my actions caused you to feel (x).Ē Take ownership for what youíve done to them without making it a fight.

Itís not always easy. I struggled because I found myself picking apart what was being said. While debating the things that werenít true, I was completely missing the point and hearing the things that were true. Stop focusing on what you donít agree with and take the statement as a whole. You made your spouse feel certain ways with your actions. You canít change that.

My IC helped me with some ways to check myself and think before I responded. Almost like a mind pause. A way to acknowledge his feelings in the moment and realize that ultimately, he is hurting. And he is hurting because of me. It wasnít easy for me to stop being defensive. I know I still slip up. However, I also saw how much it was limiting my ability to help him. What do I want more, to defend myself or to become a safe partner for my spouse?

3greatkids posted 2/7/2020 19:43 PM

As long as your attitude is this:

Because I donít know what else to do. Iím responsible for fucking everything yet nobody wants to give me any constructive fucking help or guidance decide just to tell me how fucked up I am. Everybodyís got all the fucking problems and none of the solutions itís vague isms like donít argue donít minimize donít justify donít defend. How does that pay the fucking taxes with the bills or do everything I need to get done on a day-to-day basis

Iím guessing you canít.

Hurtmyheart posted 2/7/2020 20:25 PM

3greatkids, what are you wanting from wantstorepair? Do you still want this marriage? Or is it dead to you now? Are you wanting to repair? He's admiting that he has serious issues. It seems he is looking for solutions but you say that there is no change, at all and it's just a hoax.

So what is the truth? Are you done and just want to divorce and be done for good? What is it that you want, 3greatkids. Be honest.

I can tell that you are fed up and beside yourself, 3greatkids. I know where you are at, the hurt, anger, the resentment. Your anger is over the top. So was mine. Stand firm because you deserve the best treatment. No one needs to be hurt the way you (others) and myself have been treated.

I don't know if there is any hope for your marriage but it is obvious that you've given wantstorepair many opportunities to change.

So what's it going to be, wantstorepair? Are you going to make your family into your best friends and treat them like they want and need to be treated? They so desperately need you to wake up and become that man you are meant to be. Your lifestyle has been a dead end road for a very long time. Time to step your game up and become that good person you are meant to become. All it is is a decision to get started.

Just a side note, my WH got on his knee's multiple times and cried and begged me to forgive him and not leave him. He allowed me to scream and cry for hours and at times said nothing. And was there for me all hours of the night while I cried. You know why? Because he realized that I was his best friend and he didn't want to lose me because of his poor choices in life. He was scared though. Very scared.

I want to know what is it that you want, wantstorepair? Do you still love and want your wife and family desperately? Or is the problem you're not sure how you feel about her? Do you truly love her and need her? What is your truth? Your story leads me to these thoughts.

Hurtmyheart posted 2/7/2020 21:01 PM

Wantstorepair, my WH and I've been discussing your situation and what has come to mind is do you love your wife? I mean really truly love your wife? And if you say yes then what is it that you love about her? You've said you are failing miserably with everything advised, so my next question is just that.

I assume your BW is going to respond to your response and that is okay. I completely expect it because she is deeply hurt and angry by your behaviors. More hurt than you'll ever know.

WH told me that he feels you have not claimed ownership of your past behaviors, haven't humbled yourself and obviously not listening to anyone. Calling yourself an asshole is not claiming ownership. Think about it.

Another thought has come to mind is how deeply sorry are, if you are and why?

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