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Wayward behaviour

timetogrowupat46 posted 2/18/2020 16:27 PM

There have been several posts of late relating to selfish vs selfless, lack of self love, need for external validation, transactional relationships, lack of gratitude, entitlement and I think that a lot of these traits, if not all, are related to each other in some way and are at the root of lot of WS behavior, myself included.

I can relate to all of these, going back to my childhood and carried into adulthood. Throughout my life I have seen things as transactional. One thing that helps for me is not only recognizing these behaviors in myself, but applying them to situations in my marriage, or in my childhood or during my affair. These posts help in guiding, but to then take those away and to talk through these with my BS, and apply them to actual situations, examples in our life, to help break it down in real terms and to see how screwed up I was in my thinking and behavior, to help see things from my BS side and how I would feel if the reverse were true.

For example:

When it was motherís day, I would get my BS flowers, get the kids to do nice drawings, maybe a gift, make a nice meal, BUT, I did it expecting the same for Fatherís day. I did this for my BS, so I expected my BS to do the same for me. And when it was not, I would be resentful, upset, leading to me making snide comments to my BS. For my BS, it is not her thing. She is not into these holidays, motherís day, fatherís day, valentines. It is more, I have come to understand and feel the same way, about expressing love, appreciation, gratitude throughout the year, all the time and which my BS does. I am not saying it is wrong in any way to not celebrate those days, it can be nice, but where it was an issue for me was that it was transactional. I did it, so I expected my BS to do it and resented her if she didnít. The other day my kids surprised me when I came home from work with some balloons, a cake and a thankyou for being their dad and doing things for them. Just a normal day, no holiday, but that meant more to me than any fatherís day, because it was spontaneous, unexpected and just because.

I would do the vacuuming, expecting thanks, not just because I want to do my part, have a clean house, external validation. Or I donít need to do the washing up because I made dinner or I am going to mow the lawn, I was at work all day. Transactional.

I grew up in a narcissistic parent household, where I was the golden child. If I did well in something, say playing rugby, then my parents would praise me, validate me, but if I didnít play well, my dad especially would sulk the rest of the day, be in a bad mood, or if I did something that my mother didnít approve of or made her feel bad, she would cry, use emotion as a tool to put me down. This led to me always wanting to please my parents, to not upset them, always looking for external validation, that I am better than my brother, or even better than my dad as I grew older (my mum would say ďyour dad has no patience, he canít fix anything, but you do, can you fix this when you come visit?Ē for example). I always felt that I should be good at everything.

This followed into my marriage, where I would need to control, to do everything, at the detriment to my BS. I made her feel like a spare part. Not being grateful that she was better at finances than me for example. Such screwed up thinking. Instead of being grateful that she is good at that, and how, together, as a family, as a team we benefit. I am more comfortable than my BS at dealing with renting out our house, so I do that. At the same time, my BS is better and good at dealing with finances, making the most of the money we earn. Together we all win. But because I was treating our marriage as more of a transaction, because I was wanting external validation, because I felt less than because I wasnít as good as, because I lacked gratitude, my BS was the one that paid the price for that. She was unappreciated, she felt like a spare part, her goals were being undermined by me. And then the mamma jamma, the shitty icing on an already shitty cake for her, I had an affair. I went and sought validation from the AP, I went and carried on my transactional crap with the AP, I went seeking praise, compliments and attention from the AP.

I can apply these same things to my parents as well. We live in the US, they live in the UK (my father has since passed away). So when we would invite them over or when we invited my mum over after my father died, she would say things like, it is so far to travel, takes ages. She saw it as a transaction also. I come over there, make this big sacrifice in time and money, but I am not going to do anything when I am there. No helping with the kids, cleaning the house, making dinner. She would just sit there waiting to be entertained, expected it. Even though she would always bemoan how far away we were, not being able to spoil her grandkids. But when she did come over and we wanted to do some work on the rental house, she took it badly, cried even, instead of being grateful to be there, to have the time to spend with her grandkids, to help us out. Not that we werenít appreciative of her being there so we could spend time with her, but it was not reciprocated.

My mum devalued my BS as well. She would be ok us coming to their house, and her being all praise for me, doing the cooking, fixing things in the house, but it was ok for my BS to sit down, not get involved, be a spare part. And I didnít say anything, I didnít ask my BS to come help and be with us, I was fine getting all the praise. So, understandably, my BS felt like what was the point in her being there. What was the point in being married if all she was, was to be treated like a spare part, a roommate. So I turn it around, I would have felt the same way if when going to her parents house, I had been ignored, not included in what they were doing, helping my father-in-law with things. They always made me feel welcome, at home, and included.

My mum also said to me that my BS was sitting on the couch, whilst I came home and was running around looking after the kids. Well, yeah, it is the only time I got to spend with them, and my BS was worn out having to look after them during the day on top of having to look after my mum.

I could go on, but these are just some of the examples, and there are many more, but they all come from the same dysfunctional behavior and way of thinking.

So instead of a transactional marriage, where it was all take, and what do I get out of it, tit for tat, selfish, expectations, full or blame, lies and manipulation, resentment. I start to look at it from my BS perspective, putting myself in her shoes. Become a more relational marriage, where we as a family, as a couple win together ( or we lose together), what can I give, being more focused on my BS and her needs and values. And ultimately being grateful for my BS, what she brings to our marriage and to our family, be more giving, being ok with who I am (self love), get rid of those toxic behaviours that ultimately led to me hurting my BS in the worst possible way and letting her down, the kids down and myself down.

A bit of a brain dump, but wanted to get these thoughts out there and I appreciate others views on this on how you turned things around.

EvolvingSoul posted 2/19/2020 18:32 PM

Hi there timetogrowupat46,

This is the kind of reflection that can underpin real change. I had a lot the same problem, that the way I viewed relationships and love was skewed (either transactional or tragic/romantic/drama centered). It was the infidelity and trying to heal from it that led me to see that but once I did, I saw how the thought processes that made my infidelity possible were woven all throughout my life, not just in my marriage but in every relationship I had had going back to high school, to my friendships, my relationship to work, everything. And at first I didn't really know there was another way to think about things, I thought everyone operated under those same thought processes, but maybe some were just better at hiding it. I think I was a cynic, although at the time I would not have admitted to that. Waking up from it was like being a fish that had only known about the water and suddenly needing to learn to breath air and learning to walk on land.

Keep working to untangle things, when you find a thread that when you pull it it makes the whole knot seem to move, that's one you should follow relentlessly until you have it sorted.

Proceed with conviction, valor, and compassion.

hikingout posted 2/20/2020 08:13 AM

I have been down the road of exploring those thoughts and have dug around in them in therapy and here talking to others.

I think for me I always had an underlying sense of shame. That I was "bad", and I spent a lot of time comparing myself to others rather than appreciating my own unique attributes. I think that created kind of an underlying pit inside of myself that I did not know how to fill. (And, while I keep striving, I have to say sometimes I doubt myself as to whether I have truly learned to exist without it or not, but I do think there is true progress on that front even if I am still in a trial and error mode about some of it)

I don't think I needed the thanks as much as I felt I needed to earn love and was always hustling for it. When you do that, you ignore a lot of what you need because you were always concerned about what people were going to need next, always preparing. When everyone seemed fine then I didn't know what to do with my time and I would just make up more to do. I saw them as their expectations and needs, but they weren't. It was me, making up for what I wasn't.

So, I created that, and then ended up holding resentments towards others for not being seen, appreciated, them having high expectations of me. This was all self-constructed. I had to go back and learn a new way of being. Except, I had little idea of who I was, what I wanted, what I enjoyed, etc. It was really a very difficult thing to figure out, and to be figuring it out in the shadow of DDAY and the shitstorm I brought to our household, I felt hopeless a lot of the time.

But, I agree with Evolving Soul that realizing these things, recognizing them, that will be some very important foundation for change. Knowing you have toxic behaviors, and probably some FOO issues to go back and heal, those are things that can help you grow and change and see things differently. They always say you can't change what you don't acknowledge - and I truly believe that acknowledging can be the hardest step but the one that shines the light on all the others.

MIgander posted 2/20/2020 09:22 AM

So what do you do when you figure out some of the baseline problems that led you to the affair and then have to change everything (habit wise) you've formed in your head when thinking of other people and your relationship to them?

I mean, having to reconstruct yourself at the same time as having to heal your partner. And on top of that all the shame and guilt for the hurt you've caused and then the questions of, "well, obviously who I was was no good, who am I and is that going to be any good? Will my spouse even want who I am when I do figure it out?"

That and hearing a big clock ticking in the background as you watch their patience, desire and even regard for you slip away.

Them wanting you to give of yourself, and me sitting there saying, "I'm not sure what I have to give you, and if you'd even want it once I did know."

Lots of fun lately...

timetogrowupat46 posted 2/20/2020 18:50 PM

Thanks EvolvingSoul and Hikingout

I think that is the key, acknowledging these things about myself and the toxic behaviours, getting to the whyís and also looking at examples of those behaviours in my past, to help see them for what they were. To see them for how damaging they were to my wife, my kids and to myself. I like the analogy of undoing the ball of tangled up knots and untangling the mess of the past, one thread at a time.


I think that reconstructing myself is just one part of the healing for both my wife and myself, but first to be under no impression that it will ever make anything right, it is not going to make up for what I did to my wife, but it helps in recognizing the brokenness inside and what contributed to choosing to have an affair. It may also help the BS to see that it wasnít them. I know, after DDay, my wife was questioning all of that. What did she do wrong, that she was so bad that I had an affair. It also helps to realise that I cannot go on being that way, because the alternative is that I will keep on hurting my wife, still end up in toxic patterns and have toxic people in my life, and not be proud of myself. I think by looking at myself, getting to my whyís and then working on becoming a better person can go some way to healing and becoming safe for my wife. By acknowledging how I was and putting in the effort to change that, goes someway, I think, to helping my wife. The thing I keep in mind though is that none of what I uncover, FOO, toxic behaviours, is an excuse for having an affair or for all the shitty things I did during our marriage.

I cannot but hope it helps my wife heal, if I donít fix myself first. I didnít do the work, the reflection, the digging after DDay for a long time, which only compounded the hurt and trauma for my wife. Those wayward behaviours continued and created even more hurt and damage to my wife and our marriage, to the point where I gave my wife no option but to divorce, to have to protect herself. I needed to fix me. I am not saying I am there yet by any means, it is a step to becoming a better person, to becoming a safe partner for my wife and there is a lot of work to do to unravel that tangled ball of threads.

To me though, this is just a part of recovering from the shit show I created, I still need to help my wife to heal, being honest, rebuilding trust, helping her to make sense of things, be there for her. That is what I can do, but do it knowing that it may not save anything, that it may have been too much for my wife, that at the end of the day, it may have been a deal breaker and that it doesnít take away the pain of what I did.

Really, anything I can do to become a better person will benefit not only myself, but my wife and our family, but first I need to acknowledge the person I was, figure out what was broken in me and my toxic behaviours and, like EvolvingSoul and Hikingout pointed out, only then can I have a foundation to change.

Zugzwang posted 2/27/2020 18:30 PM

and then the questions of, "well, obviously who I was was no good, who am I and is that going to be any good? Will my spouse even want who I am when I do figure it out?"

It is called letting go of the outcome and choosing to become a good person because you want to be that person. Not because you want to win them. You are still choosing to not be vulnerable because you are afraid of the outcome. Losing him as that validation. Losing him wanting you. You just have to let that go. It might even help if you see from his perspective. If he views people in black and white, he isn't wrong from his perspective. You either are a good person or you are bad. Personally I see it as black and white now when before I had plenty of shades of gray to enable behaviors by saying...we are all just human. Most people don't view that. What will you do with that if he is still like that? Let go of your pride? Rest assured in the self confidence you said you gained and just accept that he saw who you were when you were cheating as a bad person? Then move on and focus on becoming good? It is all about perspective. In some areas you just have to meet and see it through your spouses eyes and learn how to deal with how they see you.

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