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Humiliation and emasculation of a BH

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Jameson1977 posted 4/17/2020 12:15 PM

DoinBettr, that is great advice.

I wanted to add, talk is cheap and easy, actions are what matter. I really wanted my WW to be the one to bring up discussions regarding her A's. This would show me that even though it was the most difficult thing in our marriage to discuss, she was going to make the effort even though it was extremely hard for her to discuss.

She rarely did this and it made me feel like my desires for affair-related discussions was not as important as her not feeling terrible about herself, her actions and who she was.

In 5+ years from dday, she has brought up the affairs maybe 3-4 times, all the rest were from me bringing it up.

Also, be proactive. If you have thoughts and feelings that come to mind, or you remember small details from the A that you haven't discussed, be proactive, but ask him if you can share some details before just discussin it.

Also, remember he may ask the same thing, over and over again. Answer honestly. He is likely trying to make sense of it all. I know I asked the same thing, in different ways, numerous times. DON'T say, we already discussed this. This may be his way of working through his feelings.

BraveSirRobin posted 4/17/2020 12:40 PM

I understand that I might have pissed many people off here. I am trying to learn to be better. I apologise for any anger I have caused.
Infidelity itself is a trigger, so as a wayward here, you have to expect that the default is that people are going to be pissed at you. If you're new, and especially if you've been trickle truthing, you are a target for a lot of anger that is still being processed. Some of that may be pointed at you specifically, and some is more generalized, but there's always plenty to go around.

The key is what you do with that. If your goal in hitting the right note here is to figure out the One True Path to help your BS, that's admirable, but problematic, because there are some basic rules but no surefire path to success. If your goal is to establish credentials as "one of the good waywards" and avoid taking the gut punches, that's even more problematic, because an unexamined thirst for external validation is what landed most of us in an affair in the first place.

Here is some of the conflicting advice that will confuse you.

Stop thinking about yourself so much, and focus on your BH.
Stop thinking about your BH so much, and focus on you.

You fucked your marriage up, and it's on you to fix it.
You can't fix your marriage, and trying proves that you don't understand the magnitude of what you did.

You need to prove to your BH that you love him.
You don't love your BH, or you couldn't have cheated, and it's insulting to tell him so.

Affair feelings between two broken cheaters don't qualify as love.
"The fog" is just an excuse, a way to lie about having loved the AP.

Tell your BH the absolute truth about the sex, including size and technique comparisons if asked.
You can't possibly love your husband or hope to reconcile if you say things like that.

Don't give up on your BH. Make sure he knows you're in it for the long haul, no matter what he says or does.
Let go of the outcome. Accept that the marriage is over, and hope that after you heal yourselves, you can build a new one.

So what of this conflicting advice is accurate? All of it.

All of it is someone's personal truth, gained through trial by fire. You cannot come up with a plan that will be accepted here by universal acclaim and protect you from censure. And if you try, you will just keep fucking things up with your BH, the only person in this whose opinion means anything in the end.

So read here. Read recommended resources for the general advice that always applies, but also read posts, as much as you can. Read back the 25 pages of older posts that are still easily available on the forums. Watch how perspectives evolve. Buy a premium membership and search for posts by members whose specific experience and personality reminds you of you and/or your BH. Develop a thick skin for posters who are so hurt and angry that they'll shoot at anything that moves. You aren't here for target practice -- though if something cuts particularly deep, that's your signal to ask yourself why it's so hard to hear.

There is no guarantee of success here, but the best potential for your own work is in these pages, and success is impossible without that.

Jorge posted 4/17/2020 13:10 PM

There's no magical answer or recipe. You'll have to try many things and see what works, or helps. There will be lots of trial and error, so that means you just have to keep trying to see if something sticks. Your patience and determination is what probably means the most at this point.

HellFire posted 4/17/2020 13:33 PM

FTR, you didn't make me mad. And I am not triggered. I am several years out, reconciled. The thought of his betrayal are fleeting,and no longer sting.

My only issue,was, as I explained, the often said, "he has to heal himself, you can't help him." And it annoys me, for the reasons I already explained.

I tend to be very blunt. I don't sugarcoat. You may not appreciate my delivery, but that doesn't mean it has no value.

scrambledbrain posted 4/17/2020 13:41 PM


This is my first comment, and I haven't shared my story yet.

Let's just say I'm an old sinner.

I truly feel for you, as I do for virtually all WWs in your position. I think that your struggle, as they say, is real.

While you took away agency from your BH and you deeply regret having done so, in. the process, you have forfeited your own agency -- at least insofar as it applies to your own marriage -- maybe forever.

And to make matters worse: a) it's your fault (as you know); and b) it may be gone forever.

I don't have much wisdom to share; certainly not a visible path. But having read here a great deal, I think there is a destination towards which you can and should aim.

Specifically, you need to point actions towards a goal involving your BH actively and joyfully choosing YOU. As others have pointed out, this needs to go way beyond such factors as your deep remorse, your love for him, your commitment to never placing him in a position where he has to endure what he just experienced, etc.

He needs to want you because he WANTs you. Because he chooses you among a range of alternatives at his disposal (finding someone else, being alone, being present but little else in your marriage).

In order to accomplish this, he must get to a place where he fully accepts that he doesn't NEED you. It comes from a conviction that every bit of your soul you wish to contribute to restore your loving partnership notwithstanding, it is his fully empowered decision to recommit that drives this.

I've read this dynamic in successful R stories from both BHs and WWs. It only worked because the BH understood that he had the power and agency to continue authentically.

Another way of stating this is that if you guys had never met or weren't together, he would want you NOW. If that happens, you're golden.

But I don't think there's much you can do -- other than being authentically your best self -- to reach that objective.

So I really feel for you. The mountain is high, your stride is finite, and yet you must climb to the top.

Best of fortune, again, from an old sinner.


emergent8 posted 4/17/2020 13:41 PM

You've received good advice. The only thing I would add is to learn to be patient and consistent. That is what matters the most right now.

There is absolutely you can say or do right now can make your husband's hurt go away - there is no quick fix (which is what you're looking for). You can do everything 'right' (and remember, there is no one way to be right at the moment) and he will still feel awful at the best of times, and far worse than this at the worst of times. Enjoy them, but do not read too much into his momentary good moments. Definitely do not pout when they are short-lived and he reverts to a downwards spiral. This is common and to be expected. Definitely do not avoid talking about the affair because you fear putting him back on a downwards spiral. He needs you to show that you are committed to him through the bad and the good. Your pouting only demonstrates that you're putting your own comfort above his feelings.

Snowyjune posted 4/17/2020 15:35 PM

Thank you everyone for taking the time to reply.

Another issue my BH has is that he feels he's always driving the conversations, he's putting in the effort to figure things out and I'm just waiting for him to tell me to jump.

No, no, no! Your BS needs to be in the driver's seat. You've been manipulating him long enough

So hence I'm asking for proactive ways that BS feel are helpful, with regards to something quite specific and sensitive to BHs.
Especially when my BH is feeling helpless on the same issue.

You are pushing him too hard. Stop focusing on him and focus on yourself. IMO what I see in your posts...you are using him as a scapegoat to ignore your own self introspection.

New WS need to be told that while their BSs healing is ultimately up to them, there is SO MUCH they can do to aid in that healing.

All I like to know is how to help my BH. I'm not telling him what to think or feel or control him. I would like to know what helps. To put in effort to find out and ask for help. To put plasters on him to stop him from bleeding out, while I figure out how to do cpr.

I don't believe I have the upper hand at all, nor attributed any of the reasons of my affair to my BH. It is wholly my fault and I know he is a breath away from walking away.

BraveSirRobin, absolutely appreciate your clarity. All the conflicting advice are based on journeys of everyone, but is what I've struggled to understand since I've joined. I will have to go through my own trial by fire to find the best way forward.

I had posted this question as I have read the humiliation a BH is quite seperate from the loss of love.
Showing commitment and patience and a willingness to be different is seemingly related to showing my BH I'm safe to love, but yet does nothing to reduce the humiliation caused (which is what I've been told as well).

fooled13years posted 4/17/2020 15:52 PM

Please know that while your BH may not be talking with you (at that moment) about his pain, humiliation or emasculation this topics are always on his mind at some level.

Start the conversation, even though it may be uncomfortable for you, but don't badger him.

Zugzwang posted 4/17/2020 16:25 PM

I would be careful about offering to move out...that could very easily be taken the wrong way or be super triggery. Use your best judgment there.

Good point. To be honest, I did the same and it really had nothing to do with her feelings. I was fishing for her to want me. It was just a passive aggressive way for me to get her attention and to be fought for. This is all wrong and absolutely nothing but selfish depending on where you are in the regret/remorse journey. When I did it, it came from regret entirely.

WalkinOnEggshelz posted 4/18/2020 09:16 AM

You have specifically asked for advice on how to work through the pain and humiliation so I’ll give you my POV.

We all have preconceived notions regarding the opposite sex, infidelity, and how people perceive us. Many of those preconceived notions are how we as WS have justified our journey. In order to get to through to the other side, you have to be willing to take off your particular pair of lenses and try on other pairs to feel what will give the most clarity.

If you want to help your husband recover from the humiliation of your affair, you need to understand what exactly that means to him. You have to be willing to initiate painful conversations and listen to what he says without having an ounce of defensiveness or attempts at controlling his feelings.

I can tell you that true remorse does not come all at once. Infidelity is to big to deal with as a broad subject. One wise member described it beautifully as a pile of boulders and rocks on her chest and each one had to be lifted and processed individually. Your husband’s feelings of humiliation is just one of those boulders. It’s definitely a boulder and not a rock.

If you want to help him with it, you need to understand it. Right now you have preconceived notions of what that is. If you go to him and tell you want to understand it, you want to be able to try to feel it through him that can go a long way. Don’t ask “would you like to talk about your feelings of humiliation?” That puts the onus on him to become vulnerable with you, which only makes things worse. Offer him the olive branch first. Tell him “I have been thinking about ______ and how that must make you feel. I want to make sure I understand that more because I never want this to happen again through infidelity or any other avenue.” Listen to what he says carefully. Soak it in. Apologize very specifically for those actions and how they made him feel.

This isn’t easy. You have to put yourself out there and be willing to be rejected by him. Keep trying.

Newlifeisgreat posted 4/18/2020 09:44 AM

Is your continued presence in the home helping with his healing or hindering it????

In addition to the expected hardship related to the person who should have been protecting him at all times cheating on him, and the obvious manipulation and selfishness on your part, I’m thinking you are hindering his healing.

Zugzwang posted 4/18/2020 09:46 AM

it's the same message as above.

There is a reason for that. There is no fix. There is simply surviving.

Immediate and current:
The best you can do is be the spouse you should have been. If you don't know what that is. Try googling how to be a partner in marriage. Have his coffee ready for him. Show him empathy. Show him compassion. Show him respect. Try reading Love and Respect in the Marriage. It has some good introspection. It gets annoying at times because don't we all want both, still has some things that you might not realize is at play.

If you are doing this; Stop talking about how you feel bad about yourself. Tell him how horrible it was for you to hurt him. Take responsibility. Without telling him how you feel. There is fine line with that. Practice it. New WS will overstep and start talking about their guilt and shame making it all about how they feel and how this has hurt them too. Don't assume how he feels either.

Stop hurting him for one. No defensiveness. Be vulnerable. Be transparent. No more lies. Change. I hope you don't go on any shame spiral looking for him to reassure you that you aren't a bad person either.

Learn how to be uncomfortable.
This takes a long time and you need to learn how to be uncomfortable and learn patience. You are going to have to suck it up and deal with that.

You are not making anyone mad or angry. You just aren't seeing the advice that works.

Stop thinking about yourself so much, and focus on your BH.
Stop thinking about your BH so much, and focus on you.

From my POV. It means focus on fixing you. Digging deep. Focus on your BS, and not you...means when talking and communicating...don't tell him how hard this is and how much you lost and whine about shit that requires him to soothe you. You soothe him. He should not be fixing you. He should not have to listen about what you miss and all the self absorbed things about how horrible this is for you right now. How this all feels out of your control. It should be about how horrible it was for you to choose to hurt him to get an ego fix. Focus on the BS means being mindful. Do your best to realize there are triggers. Stay away from them till he is ready to go there. Like places you went with the AP. Songs. Things you abandoned your BS for in order to spend time with the AP. Food. Think about what you did and what you shared with the AP and be mindful they will trigger your BS. If you texted your AP 100 times a day and get pissed at your BS for bothering you at work. Don't. Trigger. You had plenty of time to give to the AP.

You said your BS feels like he is driving the conversation. So, what is he is saying? Are you listening? Are you instantly formulating a defensive response? Are you instantly going to how it makes you feel? What do you hear?

gmc94 posted 4/18/2020 10:01 AM

Walking on Eggshelz and Zug have really good advice IMHO. Personally, I want my WH to communicate to me what he observes, rather than the old "what can I do to help" (or any number of other non vulnerable entres into a dialogue, esp when done in a manner/language that give the impression that it's a dialogue he doesn't at all want to have, but feels he can then check off his internal box "good husband who asks about his BW", which is a common problem in WSs). IOW - WHAT, exactly, are you trying to help? The fact that I'm shaking? crying? raging? What do you SEE or observe/sense that you think needs to be "helped"?

Empathy requires validation and vulnerability. There are several tooks/tricks to work on it. First, is to be cognizant of your internal motivations. Are you asking to help (or how your BH feels) bc you REALLY want to know? Or bc it makes YOU feel better to be the person asking? Not saying that the latter basis is wrong or bad, but it's important to be mindful of what is driving the conversation. E.g., "checking the boxes" to tell yourself you are a "good" WS that is "doing the work" or bc you are uncomfortable with your BS' feelings and want that to stop. Or bc you really want to do what you can to support your BS' healing. Or something else. Its one of many ways to become emotionally mindful, which I believe is crucial to healing for both WS and BS - whether R is on the table or not.

An empathetic response will VALIDATE the BS feeling and respond from that lens, using tools like reflective listening (you can look it up). The response is that the primary (or better yet sole, but that takes time) purpose is to understand and hear what the BS is saying/feeling, and not to make yourself feel better. There's something called the "AVR formula" that can also help (Acknowledging the issue, Validating the BS feelings [anger, sadness, loneliness, happiness or fear], and Reassurance that the WS will help the BS heal)

For instance: your BS says something like "I can never trust anyone ever again". May sound dramatic to you. But trust me, we all feel that in some way at some point. On response using the AVR is to say: "I'm so sorry that my betrayal cuts so deep it feels like no one can be trusted (acknowledgment), I can understand why you would fear trusting others after being blindsided by my affair in which I abused the trust you placed in me (validating). I am committed to living in honesty and to respect your gift of staying together to allow me to work to regain trust in our relationship (reassurance).

Note: whether a WS likes it or not, the actual words matter to most/all? BS. It's a tough balance to be concerned about using the wrong words, and still being brave enough to show vulnerability. I think most BS "get" that. And I suspect it varies depending on the individual's right/left brain strengths. IMO, the WS needs to recognize there will be times it backfires. Could be bc the WS used language that didn't jibe with the BS. Could be the BS isn't in a headspace to really absorb or react w/o their lizard brain taking control for a bit. Could be anything. The point is the WS needs to find a way to continue despite those setbacks (my WH still goes to "I'm a failure" which is still making it all about him and his feelings and his "trying" and his discomfort, etc. It is one of the most damaging things for me today - in year three).

So, when it comes to the humiliation, I start with the definition itself. Merriam Webster defines as: "to reduce (someone) to a lower position in one's own eyes or others' eyes : to make (someone) ashamed or embarrassed : MORTIFY" (and sidenote: It's an oft discussed thing on SI about the BH's humiliation being somehow worse than a BW. I don't really buy into that line of thought, as the humiliation I experienced was quite overwhelming for quite some time. Just bc there is no female equivalent to "emasculation" doesn't mean we don't feel that same deprivation of strength, vigor, or spirit : WEAKEN, as defined by MW).

The thing about that workbook I mentioned (help her heal by Carol Sheets) is she has WS (again, it's aimed at WH who are SA, but I think the empathy exercises would benefit ANY WS) is she has exercises to actually WRITE DOWN ways to be more empathetic. I think it's a skill many WS significantly lack (a WS must become devoid of empathy at some level in order to maintain that secret sexual life and all the machinations involved in living with such deception to a person they supposedly love).

Read what you can about empathy and empathetic responses. Brene Brown has some simple videos about it.

If there is one "tip" to remember is to not be defensive or minimize or invalidate what the BS is feeling, esp early on. If your BH says the sky is gray and dark and you look outside and the sun is shining bright as a lighthouse with not a cloud in the sky, do not say: it' looks sunny to me'. This issue isn't whether it is or is not sunny or cloudy. The issue is that the BS feels it's cloudy and why and how a WS can support the BS through those feelings (whether or not the WS feels they are accurate or reasonable feelings).

[This message edited by gmc94 at 10:05 AM, April 18th, 2020 (Saturday)]

WalkinOnEggshelz posted 4/18/2020 13:39 PM

I just want to point out that gmc94 is that member I was referring to in my post. Please read her post multiple times.

Serpico posted 4/18/2020 17:54 PM

Hi Snowy:

Have you yourself shed any tears in front of your husband over your betrayal?

Please do not misunderstand. The actions you are taking now are very necessary, however, sometimes for those actions to be meaningful, the betrayed spouse may want to see that the wayward is in some similar amount of pain that they are in. This would be an indication that you are truly remorseful which would give your current words and actions more weight.

If you have not yet shown any sincere outward expression of sorrow, then those words and actions, no matter what good intentions you may have behind them, are only that.

I hope this helps.

The best of luck to you.

gmc94 posted 4/18/2020 18:51 PM

Disagree with Serpico here. So judge your own BS.
My WH has cried more than once since dday. Maybe early on it meant something. After a few months, did nothing more for me than indicate that everything was still all about him and his feelings and his butt hurt over being caught doing something he knew was a dealbreaker.

It's not about the words (or the tears). It's the ACTIONS that matter.
finding and SHOWING empathy
making commitments and keeping to them
being proactive in healing - reading, finding books, finding IC, DOING the homework, etc.
bringing up the A.

Basically, all the stuff in how to help your spouse heal. THAT's what's really important. We see WS after WS cry a river here on SI. Does not mean they are R material.

Not saying to NOT cry - it's a natural thing.

WilliamM posted 4/18/2020 19:06 PM

BH here. Just wanted to share a couple of things that helped me.

My WW made a point to tell me how much she loved me and, most importantly, why she loved me. She worked hard to make me know that she was attracted to me. She gave compliments that were genuine. At first, I did not want to hear it, she was consistent. Lastly, seeing her putting me first. Something she never really did.

Eventually I believed her. What did not work was her trying to tell me how I was better. It just sounded disingenuous. Just some thoughts.

Zugzwang posted 4/19/2020 11:07 AM

For instance: your BS says something like "I can never trust anyone ever again". May sound dramatic to you. But trust me, we all feel that in some way at some point. On response using the AVR is to say: "I'm so sorry that my betrayal cuts so deep it feels like no one can be trusted (acknowledgment), I can understand why you would fear trusting others after being blindsided by my affair in which I abused the trust you placed in me (validating). I am committed to living in honesty and to respect your gift of staying together to allow me to work to regain trust in our relationship (reassurance).

YES, and see how not once GMC mentions how the WS feels. It is all about how the BS feels and what they did to make the BS feel the way they did. Be mindful of your conversations. Here it is much about how you are feeling. What you want because you feel this way. Which is fine when sharing and needing to vent. Though for NWS it is often the same dialogue with their BS. They often don't know it.

Zugzwang posted 4/19/2020 11:12 AM

most importantly, why she loved me.

Good point. Why do you love your BS? What is love to you?

When you explain why you love him, does it often involve what they do for you? I had that issue at first and my wife was quick to point that out. What I loved was often tied to what she did or could give me. It wasn't always like that. It became like that. As I began to take her for granted and to take advantage of her. I began to see her more as an object. Not just as a person. What can you say to your BH that has to do with who they are as a person and not just what they do for you? That was very important to my wife. I love the way she gets excited over her garden when it begins to grow in the spring. I love that she worries over the babies of animals from roadkill. I love that she goes out of her way to make sure our friends know they aren't alone and makes up care packages and leaves them on the doorstep during this pandemic. Things about who he is as person outside of you and your relationship. Let him know you see him and how wonderful he is.

gmc94 posted 4/19/2020 11:34 AM

Let him know you see him
This is another important point.

A BS is - literally - unseen during an A. Often, we are not even considered as part of the equation of the A (my WH NEVER thought about me.... his sole concern was whether he'd get caught, so he never even considered what getting caught would mean - for either of us).
We are invisible during the A. It's horrifying. Can you even imagine what it is like to be invisible to the person you trust and believe will actually have your back?

Early on I, like WilliamM wanted my WH to tell me how much he loved me, valued me, etc.
And although much was half-assed, it did help. For awhile. And then it didn't. I don't know if other BS had this, but there came a point when I did not give a damn what my WH thought about me. Kind of the old Groucho Marx "don't want to be a member of a club that would have me" thing. IOW, what difference did it make to me that my cheater spouse likes me? Is that the best I can do? Am I not worthy of being admired, appreciated and loved by someone who is not so broken they'd cheat and lie?

I am NOT saying to avoid giving those kudos and appreciation to your BS. I still think it's an important step in it all. What I AM saying is be prepared for a potential backlash as your BS works through his process. Throughout this journey, and especially early on, things may work great...and then suddenly fall flat. That's OK. It doesn't necessarily mean you are today doing something wrong. It means that becoming a BS is a really difficult thing to process. And we all process in different ways and at different times. We are grieving a LOT and that takes time. BS may cycle through all the stages of grief, and it's usually not linear. We bargain, then anger, then depress, and then go back to bargaining. Sometimes in the wink of an eye.

And the what does love mean to you would be a worthwhile exploration. BS are across the board on this front - some believe their WS loved them during the A. Others (myself in this camp) do not feel this way and believe that having an A is the antithesis of "love" or loving actions or whatever it's defined. The best I could say about my WH is that he loves me the best he is able - but that "love" is actually HARMFUL to me. It's toxic. It has created the worst pain I've ever experienced. We realize that our WS would say 'i love you' even when in the presence of their AP, or during the call before seeing the AP to make sure their time/alibi is covered (my WH's would be something like: I'll be in a meeting for a couple of hours, love you, bye. That shit still causes me a fair amount of heartbreak and anger. How do I trust that "love" today? What's different, other than he got caught with his pants down?

Again, I am NOT saying to avoid saying "I love you" to your BS. I AM saying to be prepared for this potential of your BS wondering how could you do this to someone you profess to LOVE? It's a reasonable question, wherever on the "love" spectrum a particular BS may fall.

I don't bring this up to scare you or beat you up. It's about being prepared for these kinds of things so that when they do come up, you are able to find ways to manage your own emotional response.... to be there for the BS and not succumb to your own shame and self victimization.

ETA: The bringing up the A, to me, works in conjunction with the invisibility thing. If you see or sense that your BH is having difficulty, talk about it ... cuz he is likely thinking about it EVERY waking minute in some form or another. I'm in year three and I doubt I've gone an hour w/o it invading my thoughts in some way. So, when you see/sense something, open by communicating what you see and then use that a point of communicating. Of apologizing (use the how to help your spouse heal or the AVR formula or something that comes from empathy). for instance, saying "I see you feel sad and I feel shitty" is NOT empathetic. It turns his pain into being about you. Saying "I can see you are heartbroken this morning [acknowledging what's going on]. I am so sorry that my foolish choice to have an affair has meant that you wake up sad every day [validating his feelings and your role]. I will work as hard as I can to create an environment to support your finding joy in life every day you wake up [reassurance].

In year three, the best my WH can do is say: "is there anything I can do to help". Doesn't do jack for me. Doesn't acknowledge what he is seeing, or validate my pain. Missing the "A" and the "V" from the AVR already show me there is no "R" for reassuring. From a communication standpoint, I'm still invisible and left to wonder what he sees/senses that brings that on (ie what - exactly- is he trying to "help"? Crying? Shaking? Anger? general crabbiness? The fact that there's a pandemic? You get the idea).

[This message edited by gmc94 at 11:49 AM, April 19th, 2020 (Sunday)]

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