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cake eating cheaters

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Zugzwang posted 5/22/2020 10:29 AM

I just realized this in response to several cake eating cheaters...it seems we have had a number of male cake eaters that have dug deep know their whys...shared them....know how and why they are fucked up...yet stop there. I am not going to name any of them. All of them have had their wives leave them. You have to follow this insight up with real change. ACTIONS. The only thing I can say is that you don't want this for yourself. I would also say they don't love their BS enough to even want the real change. I would bet the BS is still a feeder of object love. I still believe you have to be at that point that you are so disgusted with yourself that you can't stand sitting in the same room with yourself in your own skin. Some seem to get there, but for some reason just stop. Say, they will change. Yet keep coming back saying how they are still trying. Where do you stop. Why aren't you getting over the hill? What is stopping you from committing to real change? The only thing I can really think of that got me over is that I wanted so desperately to love myself. It is frustrating to see the few we have had or still do and know that life can be so fulfilling if they just start actually doing the change. Yet not knowing where the hang up is. I guess I am just posting this to say...I am still rooting for you. Push through it and commit. Even if your BS has left. You can still have a future.

Stinger posted 5/22/2020 11:57 AM

By definition, a cheater does not love his or her spouse, regardless of changing. Consequences force the change in some. Itis sort of like a spouse who physically abused his or her spouse to an incredible extent claiming change due to love vs incarceration.

pinkpggy posted 5/22/2020 13:16 PM

If the BS left them...then they are no longer WS technically. Most likely see that is a reason to stop trying. At that point it's not about not loving their spouse it's about not loving themselves. They have to get there first. Just like the rest of us.

Zugzwang posted 5/22/2020 14:12 PM

Stinger, IMO everyone changes in response to something that isn't working prior to that, even in the process of growing up. So, on that point I absolutely disagree with your statement. Case in point even some people who were very self absorbed and selfish people change and become selfless when they have children. If what you say is true, then those people never truly love their children because the changed was spurred by having one that was theirs. As long as they want the change for themselves deep down, then it really isn't about the consequences anyhow. It really becomes more about the stimuli that spurred change. Doesn't make it any less real or meaningful and it certainly doesn't mean that people who change are incapable of every really loving someone beyond a selfish object love. Then again, they really aren't cheating. Yes, they were a cheater and they will forever carry that bumper sticker. We can become someone more and still have the bumper sticker and rise above that. Not sure if you are W or B. If you are B have you ever done anything wrong in your past? Wronged anyone? Hurt anyone?

Zugzwang posted 5/22/2020 14:13 PM

Pinkpiggy so right. That is the obvious one too. They don't love themselves so of course they would be incapable of loving their BS even enough to want to change for them alone.

pinkpggy posted 5/22/2020 14:38 PM

Pinkpiggy so right. That is the obvious one too. They don't love themselves so of course they would be incapable of loving their BS even enough to want to change for them alone.

So they will continue to look for outside validation in order to feel good about themseleves, and the cycle will continue. You can't be a good and safe partner if you don't love and respect yourself, and that goes for any partner, not just WS. I've found so many areas of my life when I don't love myself. My own self talk, self worth, self loathing. All play a part in my need for external kudos to make me feel good. Still working on not punishing myself.

JBWD posted 5/22/2020 19:27 PM

If the BS left them...then they are no longer WS technically. Most likely see that is a reason to stop trying.

I struggle with this. I sometimes worry that my motivation for change isn't sufficiently intrinsic. I know I'm better for understanding myself regardless of my future re: R or not- But I often catch myself wishing for change between us.

I know myself to be far better for having come here and dug deep. But I can't help feel selfish for hoping someday it makes R more likely.

ETA: My problem is distinct. I havenít given up but I feel thatís potentially selfish. BW may or may not think I have- Itís simply too soon to try and re-engage as it appears to me.

[This message edited by JBWD at 9:15 PM, May 22nd (Friday)]

pinkpggy posted 5/22/2020 20:42 PM

JBWB- I'm in the same boat. I'm still figuring it out. Who I portray at home and for my WS is not necessarily who I feel like inside. It's a struggle.

Stinger posted 5/23/2020 05:17 AM

I am sure I have hurt people. But not to the incredible extent over a long period of time as my XW did our family. I feel that in order to do that, be capable of that amount of abuse, she has to be wired fundamentally differently than a decent, normal person. I doubt very much she can change. But, she does put on one helluva front now.

Zugzwang posted 5/23/2020 09:13 AM

^^^ I agree, there may be something really really wrong with some cheaters. On level with being sociopathic or narcissistic. This just doesn't hold true for all of them. This place existing proves it. I am sorry your wife didn't put in the effort.

forgettableDad posted 5/24/2020 03:31 AM

I know myself to be far better for having come here and dug deep. But I can't help feel selfish for hoping someday it makes R more likely.

ETA: My problem is distinct. I havenít given up but I feel thatís potentially selfish. BW may or may not think I have- Itís simply too soon to try and re-engage as it appears to me.

There's nothing wrong with hoping for a better future. Hope is a strong human emotion and it can drive us to great lengths. As long as it doesn't become your sole point of contact with healing (ie. R is the only reason you're faking change - and then when R happens or fails your process dies with it) then I hope you and your wife can find each other again.

Zugzwang posted 5/24/2020 09:58 AM

So true, and we are entitled to that. Even if we did wrong and cheated. We are entitled to having a better life. We aren't entitled to the ones we betrayed, we aren't entitled to do it in a way that means we step on others backs....we are entitled to learn, change, and live.

BraveSirRobin posted 5/24/2020 11:49 AM

I'm crossing my fingers that you and your BW will reconcile, JBWD. I see so much compassion and authenticity in your posts. If your remorse is temporary or just a means to an end, you have me thoroughly fooled.

I'm not sure it's a bad thing to tell her that you're still working and hoping. It would be very sad if she moves on because she doesn't know that. Unless she's been clear that she doesn't want to hear about R, she should be able to make her own choices with all of the information in front of her.

marriageredux959 posted 5/24/2020 17:52 PM

I've given this particular issue way too many CPUs. It's a Gordian knot for sure.

Infidelity is a symptom, but it's a symptom kind of like the Acme anvil falling on one's head is a symptom of gravity. Often the symptom is as devastating as the disease.

I think the reason why waywards get stuck in the process, and betrayeds get stuck as well, is because we get stuck initially staring at the train wreck that is the infidelity itself. And for sure, it needs to be stared at, studied, dissected, fully disclosed, understood, integrated into the previous and often incomplete (due to withheld information) narrative of the marriage/relationship.

But if the discovery process stops there, especially if it simply stops with "I'm sorry, I'll never do it again," or "I was sorry and I never did it again" (our particular case) it's not enough.

It took my husband and, by default me as well, *forever* to get 'unstuck' from that point. My husband got stuck there initially, and stayed there for quite a while, because in his mind, he'd already 'fixed' it. He didn't see the need to drag me through the mud of the actual details when rug sweeping had worked so well for both of us for years. I was relatively innocent about the dirty details of the incident itself, and as a result, I was minimally damaged. He was genuinely remorseful at the time and never did it or anything like it again. Problem solved, right? and according to many old school 'experts' this was the best possible outcome.

The problem is, the infidelity is a symptom and we all know it. The actual problem lies deeper. It lies within the wayward, and I will even go so far as to say that it lies at least partly in the relationship dynamic itself- although please do not mistake me, I am not 'blaming the betrayed.'

I do know that as a betrayed, I allowed the rug sweeping to stand. I knew in my gut that I'd not gotten the full story at the first disclosure. Even though I was as innocent as my husband presumed, his obvious guilt did not match up with the sanitized version of the story he told. I let it go, with a promise to myself that I'd be vigilant and not let any future questionable situations slide.

And of course I did the Pick Me Dance without even realizing what I was doing. The reverberations continue to this day. You would not believe the nuanced fall out from it, I don't. As far as being more vigilant- I was, and it didn't mean a damned hill of beans, because our relationship dynamic was established.

I honestly do not believe that my husband cheated on me emotionally or physically with any other woman, but he did not put the marriage first, and he did not make any concessions to demonstrate respect for me or for the marriage, or to create more security and peace of mind for me. He said he never again touched another woman and I could choose to believe that, or not. And for various reasons that range from the logical to the practical to the rational to the intuitive, I do believe it.

It's infuriating because it's smug. And it's overwhelmingly likely to be true. And thus there's really not a damned thing I can do about that, as it is framed in that context.

He has continued to be A Cake Eater of Other Denominations.


My point is, infidelity is the tip of the personality and relationship iceberg.

Until the wayward gets into the personal and deeper whys- likely having little to nothing to do with the affair, the affair partner, the affair partner's physical attributes, the sex, etc. the actual issues in the marriage will not be solved.

I think many, many, if not most, betrayeds and waywards get stuck at this particular, superficial, likely not even truly relevant level of the whys- hence we have 299 page threads about whether the sex was better, or the AP's dick was bigger, or the AP's hoo hoo was tighter, or her boobs perkier, or her body younger or more desirable, or if the AP had some sort of magic supernatural sexual technique.

My favorite thing in the whole wide world is to assure betrayed men that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MAGIC PENIS. However, hypocrite that I am, how long did it take me to believe that there is no such thing as magic boobs or magic booty?

At any rate, *I* and then *we* finally got 'unstuck' when I stumbled into writings on narcissism.

Neither of us would have ever pegged Husband as a narcissist. He's competent, in many areas of his life he's confident, but he's extremely private and introverted. He is the literal opposite of braggadocio. But some characteristics of narcissism- obsession with self, extreme self-absorption, rang true to me.

The sides blew off the box when I found writings on covert/introverted narcissism. There it was, my husband and my marriage in print. Husband was resistant to the idea that he is a narcissist until he did some reading himself. Now he freely admits that much of it rings true.

The real eye opener for me was beyond even the descriptions of narcissism. The revelations of attachment disorders was like being given the decoder ring that I've needed for the last 42 years of my life. Reading about attachment styles, namely dismissive avoidant attachment and preoccupied attachment, explains *everything.*

Obvs, he's dismissive avoidant and I'm preoccupied- and it dovetails nicely with each of our FOO issues as well. Even explains many of the dynamics in the FOO.

Interestingly, I'm firmly in the very center of the preoccupied attachment spectrum within my marriage, but actually much more in the safe attachment zone in my relationship with the rest of the world.

So what came first, the chicken or the egg? Am I insecure with him because he makes me feel insecure? Haven't figured that part out yet. Maybe it's completely sane that I feel more insecure with him.

See how far away we are from the actual infidelity? These are our whys, and the act of infidelity itself is becoming a nit in comparison.

I think what's completely haunting about all of this is that my husband has been describing the roots of his dismissive avoidant attachment style for *years,* and neither of us understood what he was describing. He describes his mother as 'an enigma' and says that he knows next to nothing about her. He doesn't know what she's thinking or feeling, he has no sense of who she really is, he just knows that she's rigid and dogmatic about certain demands in family relationship areas where she believes she is 'owed.' Most recently Husband has revealed that he has no early childhood memories, good bad or otherwise, of interacting with his mother. No memories of happy or affectionate exchanges, or loving rituals, or displays of affection or bonding. Nothing nada zilch zero.

This is even more odd in that she was a stay at home mother. ???

I, on the other hand, am a classic preoccupied attachment person because I am the product of a spectacularly broken home, with a spectacularly colorful daytime t.v. divorce. I was estranged from my mother at age 5 or 6 and was gifted with The Stepmother From Hell at age 7. In between was a jumble of inconsistent and sketchy duct taped child care solutions that amounted to a revolving door of inconsistent care givers. Cue preoccupied attachment style for me.

Even though I never saw my mother again after age 7, and she went on to have a supremely dysfunctional life, and died early of alcoholism, and I have *no* memory *at all* of an intact household with my mother and father and sibling, even I have a handful of memories that involve affectionate interactions with my biological mother. ???

It's so odd to me that my husband remembers none of that with his own mother. I'm sure she'd find that crushing (I'm not going to share this with her) but there's definitely something there that's contributed to Husband's attachment style.

So again- see how our whys ended up being light years beyond the act of infidelity itself?

If we stay stuck at who had the bigger dick or the prettier boobs or the most superhuman sexual technique or the most fascinating erotic style or a 299 page long thread about whether the sex was better with the AP (and I'm a big believer that *every* betrayed spends some time in Comparison Hell) then we never get to the real whys.

You'll know you have arrived at 'the real whys' when the actual infidelity itself begins to shrink in comparison to addressing the other, much bigger issues in your relationship. You'll know you have arrived at your real whys when the AP fades to very nearly insignificant for *both* of you.

Also frustrating to me is that Husband and I *have* availed ourselves of therapy, both IC and MC, a handful of times over almost 38 years of marriage, due to some of these same intractable issues, but up until recently, having nothing to do with infidelity. (Even though the act was years ago, the true DDay, DDay2, was almost two years ago.)

I went to IC for a while after leaving home as a young adult, because I realized I was a set up for dysfunction.

Despite describing all of this, including most recently the infidelity and relationship issues before and after it, not one therapist (and they were imminently qualified) ever uttered a word about narcissism or attachment styles. We had to fall backwards into on our own.

I don't think we're wrong, though, these attributes explain too much and are too easy to see arising from the FOO for both of us.

I believe it takes at least 2 to 5 years to recover from infidelity, because *this* is the mountain of shit through which we must sort, to get to some level of understanding about what happened, and to get to the real whys.

[This message edited by marriageredux959 at 6:02 PM, May 24th (Sunday)]

JBWD posted 5/25/2020 18:05 PM

Thanks BSR and FD. I know Iíve come a long way but thereís an overwhelming sense of ďtoo little too lateĒ as I think about how I arrived here. Weíre coming up on antiversaries and lots of dynamic times- Moving out of the house we lived in for years, new job. I just donít know if there is a time where it wonít be triggering to hear. Thatís timid of me, but my approach right now is to give it another couple months.
*** End T/J***

MarriageRedux- You HAVE given this some thought! I think itís especially challenging for WSs because I certainly took advantage of opportunities to confirm that ďmy problemsĒ werenít as bad as they appeared. BWís IC, two days after DDay, sat with us sobbing in her office and proposed I look into 12 Step program for sex/love addiction. The thought of that terrified me (some FOO at play there, Iím beginning to examine my fatherís very visceral disdain for alcoholics)
and so when the MC said ďNo, youíre not an addictĒ I immediately let myself off the hook.

Hubris is a big killer on this side of the street, IMO.

marriageredux959 posted 5/26/2020 17:29 PM

MarriageRedux- You HAVE given this some thought! I think itís especially challenging for WSs because I certainly took advantage of opportunities to confirm that ďmy problemsĒ werenít as bad as they appeared. BWís IC, two days after DDay, sat with us sobbing in her office and proposed I look into 12 Step program for sex/love addiction. The thought of that terrified me (some FOO at play there, Iím beginning to examine my fatherís very visceral disdain for alcoholics)
and so when the MC said ďNo, youíre not an addictĒ I immediately let myself off the hook.

Hubris is a big killer on this side of the street, IMO.

Thank you, I think. :) I don't post daily. I come along once every couple or few weeks and drop an epistle. Or a chapter book. :)

I am very, very fortunate in that I believe in my heart that my husband is a decent man who learned flawed coping techniques and flawed compensation methods from a very young age. I also have the dubious fortune, LOL, of being able to trace it and see it in the FOO.

The FOO is also a decent people who, unfortunately, learned flawed coping and compensatory techniques and learned to apply them well enough that, superficially at least, it looks like 'success.' 'Righteous living.' 'Responsibility.' Etc. It works well enough for them and it feeds all the right validation/ego needs such that it is never, ever questioned.

It's easy to see what happened to Husband and me as a product of unintentional damage and poor coping techniques rather than abjectly pathological character flaws and evil intent.

And, Husband has laid himself wide open. He *is* trying.

LOL, I've come close to starting a couple of threads recently, roughly along the lines of:



'When a Partner with Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Disorder Dismisses The Thought of It'


Actually, it's gone pretty darned well. Kudos to Husband for that. He spent approximately 36 to 48 hours at the beginning of this chapter of our unpacking exclaiming a la Richard Nixon: "I AM NOT A NARCISSIST!"

and then somewhere around two days in, with copious reading,

"MOTHER OF GOD, I AM A NARCISSIST! I wonder how many times that's screwed things up???" LOL.

I think it's most helpful, for us, to view this particular dynamic through attachment styles/issues. In this way, I believe, it's more balanced. The total focus and emphasis is therefore *not* on Husband and his erstwhile narcissism, but on both of us and on our attachment styles.

Honestly, I think I'm a weird amalgam of avoidant attachment (and detachment) and preoccupied attachment. I don't bother/don't allow myself to be vulnerable to persons who are poor risks for relationships. I've had quite enough of other people's drama, thank you. I'd poke myself in the eye before I'd give a grandiose narcissist the time of day- which is yet another reason why the concept of narcissism was such a novelty for both of us.

Introverted narcissism fits our pattern so much better, as does dismissive avoidant paired with preoccupied attachment styles.

It's, subtle. We don't appear codependent. We're probably the furtherest thing from codependent on superficial examination.

I guaran-damn-tee you that anyone who knows us would characterize Husband as absolutely devoted to me (and in his own way, he is) and would also characterize me as an independent, self-sufficient, confident, competent woman who doesn't need a man, a fish or a bicycle to make her life complete. And in many ways I'm all that plus pie a la mode.

But Husband has huge needs for quiet, deep validation in specific areas- not necessarily related to romantic relationships or sex, but having to do with overall competence and skill sets and the ability to be a provider and a valued asset.

Again, I think I'm very, very fortunate in that Husband was *not* specifically looking for romantic or sexual validation. The whole sex thing, that one incident, just sort of happened as collateral damage in a situation where he was seeking peer to peer validation and inclusion. I can easily dismiss it as collateral damage, except- it was sex (or a type of sex. Not intercourse.)

My own programming and imprinting set me and us up in this area: sex is sacred territory for me.

Not sanctimonious territory, mind you- I'm no prude.

But it is either something that I share (or shared, to be accurate) with dear friends, while looking out for each others' health and welfare, both physical and emotional, and otherwise without strings attached, or

It was/is part of a vow that I took that included sexual exclusivity, yours mine and ours, unless otherwise stated, by mutual and fully informed consent.

I can be, and I enjoy being, especially giving and accepting and sharing and tolerant of individual sexuality and expression. I've said it many times over: I do not own my husband's arousal. I don't own the space between his ears. I don't own the flesh between his legs. He doesn't own mine, either. What we do own? The mutual vow. All that you see, and all that you don't see, all of the things that are 'us' are resting on that mutual vow.

Honest to god, Husband and I have done racier stuff, MORE EVEN, than he did on his own, but that incident? It was behind my back, without my consent, I was not consulted nor considered, *when it was happening, I was essentially disappeared,* and afterwards he minimized, deflected, obfuscated and rug swept.

I felt ripped off. I was ripped off. BY MY HUSBAND.


And it happened at such a time, in such a context, in which I was particularly vulnerable and trusting.

And it happened at such a time, in such a context, where Husband was exercising access to some particular ego kibbles, such that I got thrown under the bus in service to the same.

That's been an issue for us: me being thrown under the bus for ego kibbles, me being thrown under the bus for something (anything, whatever) that Husband could in any way characterize or identify as 'the greater good,' when most often it was A Thing That Was Contributing to His Self Esteem.

Per above, I'm damned lucky that it *wasn't* a parade of other women.

I can honestly see, and say, that the fact that this one incident happened to include sexual contact with another woman was pretty much circumstantial. Did he enjoy it? Sure. He still had/has blood flow to the penis. But I can honestly see how he didn't go out *specifically looking for that.* (Problem being, he *was* looking for validation, acceptance, ego kibbles, punch my parking ticket, etc. and the guys he was with? They were *absolutely* looking for that particular sexual stimulus, for whatever their own reasons were.) (Worlds Collided: Husband's, mine, theirs.)

If it helps anyone out there-

Actually, right now we are slogging through some of the relationships that he had in the years when he *wasn't* having a complete, fulfilling (to either of us) healthy relationship with me.

I was consigned to the role of Wife Appliance (trust me, NO ONE DATES THE REFRIGERATOR, no matter how attractive nor how many blingy features!) and he sought his validation elsewhere, in other mirrors, in other relationships, from other people- even though he may not have especially nor particularly nor in any way 'liked' those people, much less 'loved' them.

Those people had what he needed- validation kibbles, or competitive kibbles, or recongition, or Zero Sum Game Results.

The FOO is big into Zero Sum Games. Honestly, that's something we both recognized waaaay before either of us, or both of us together, were mature enough or evolved enough to deal with it effectively.

I suspect that a HUGE component of the neglect I feel in our marriage is comprised of me sitting over here like a Good Dog, like a Wife Appliance, *waiting, waiting, interminably waiting, THE ENDLESS SLOG* while Husband engaged with Other People in some sort of psychological game of chess, in which he might finally *win,* or at least understand and master, the zero sum game set up from/with the FOO.

Dismissive Avoidant Attachment: go sit over there, Wife, and wait. I have some other shit to work out here.

Preoccupied Attachment: oh, OK. I know you have some Important Work to do. I won't bother you nor get in the way. Could you possibly pay some attention to me, at some point in the future? Pick me, please?


whoops! sex happened someplace else! with a stranger!





Anyway, I hope this helps *somebody out there.* <3

[This message edited by marriageredux959 at 6:39 PM, May 26th (Tuesday)]

JBWD posted 5/26/2020 23:36 PM

Thank you, I think.

Meant as such- Thereís a lot worth absorbing. Are there single sources on attachment styles? Interesting as a possible future read... Your insights appreciated!

marriageredux959 posted 5/27/2020 08:35 AM

Are there single sources on attachment styles? Interesting as a possible future read... Your insights appreciated!

It's a little confusing to search on the topic because different sources use slightly different terms for the same concepts and traits.

Right now both of us are reading a book entitled,

"Avoidant: How to Love (or leave) a Dismissive Partner" by Jeb Kinnison. This book is the sequel to his book, "Bad Boyfriends" in which he describes how to identify and avoid (heh, punny!) men/people with attachment disorders.

I've downloaded "Bad Boyfriends" but I haven't even peeked at it yet.

Kinnison says he wrote "Avoidant" after overwhelming questions and requests from readers who, too late, realized that they'd bonded, built a life, created infrastructure and legal contracts (such as marriage) with people who have attachment disorders. There may still even be love and value in the relationship. For various and sundry reasons, leaving is not their first choice and it's a bit too late to avoid that avoidant.

Heh. I think I'm a charter member of that club. I'm in.

Kinnison uses his own terms to identify and describe attachment styles. I find his descriptions to be the most concise, identifiable, and simple to understand and use. He does a good job of differentiating and also of describing overlapping characteristics between attachment styles. He absolutely nails who ends up with who and why.

His description of long term, stable but not necessarily fun or healthy relationships between dismissive avoidants and preoccupieds is spot on for our marriage, with one exception: I stopped 'chasing' Husband years ago. It was exhausting and it was hell on my self esteem. And it was wearing us both out. And it really wasn't helping or solving anything. And I got tired of fighting ( dismissive avoidants can be quite unpleasant when cornered) and I got tired of feeling neurotic.

So I simply, largely, gave up. Which in too many unspoken ways, suited Husband just fine. It allowed him to detach to a degree that we both now see as bizarre, looking back on it. It allowed him to sink to such a depth of workaholism that his relationship with his job supplanted every other relationship in his life, including our marriage.

I was living on fumes and memories and my lowest standard for staying in a relationship, stability, when the truth about that long ago infidelity came randomly tumbling out. Shittiest of luck. I wish we had been in a healthier, more stable place with each other from which to deal with it, but then again. I honestly can't see how that might have been possible.

So the knowledge of that one incident broke me and damned near broke us.

On the other hand, it's been an excellent catalyst for change, for addressing issues that have long needed to be addressed, not only between the two of us, but all of this reading has given us both insights into the FOO. And that alone is proving invaluable.

Not only do we now have a clue about why the FOO does what it does, we now see it and them all much more clearly. It's going to be more difficult to sandbag, gaslight, blindside us now. And it's helped us identify the more subtle passive aggressive tendencies and behaviors that almost fly under the radar but can easily and continually trap one in dysfunction.

"Avoidant" can be, IMHO, repetitive and wordy (that's ironic, coming out of me!) but it's well worth the read.

The author links to an online diagnostic quiz to identify one's attachment style which I found to be excellent and informative.

I am stalled at about halfway through "Avoidant" at the moment because I needed a break. It was banging too close to the bone here and I found myself emotionally and psychologically exhausted.

Husband says it's pretty much spot on for him as well.

Hope this helps!

WithGrace posted 5/30/2020 14:07 PM

So true, and we are entitled to that. Even if we did wrong and cheated. We are entitled to having a better life. We aren't entitled to the ones we betrayed, we aren't entitled to do it in a way that means we step on others backs....we are entitled to learn, change, and live.

I think entitlement is irrelevant. No one can stop you from doing the work, increasing self-awareness and moving toward a more authentic life. Whether or not your marriage survives, you will still have yourself to contend with either on your own, in your marriage or in future relationships. You may as well put in the work with the hope of being a better person and the possible added bonus of being a safe spouse or a safe partner in future relationships.

Figure out your underlying reasons for choosing to have an affair. If you needed external validation, learn how to shift to an internal locus of control and self-validate. If you wanted a distraction from a mundane or stressful life, learn how to add excitement or manage stress in a healthy way. If you have FOO and/or attachment issues explore these areas and come up with a plan to address them. Continue with individual counselling until you and the therapist have a shared understanding of how you got to the place of choosing to have an affair and figure out how to do things differently the next time.

Infidelity was a dealbreaker for me so I chose to divorce. I did the work to heal and now have an amazing life. I went no contact with XWH after divorce negotiations were final (thankfully we did not have children) but I hope he was able to heal and move on to a happy life as well.

kairos posted 5/30/2020 17:27 PM

Male cake eater here (er, former cake eater? If thatís fair to say). Thanks for introducing this topic, as I see relevance for this forum and a certain type of experience. I see some relevance for me too, but for maybe different reasons. I explored (and continue) the Ďwhysí ad nauseum. This particular stage allowed me to finally understand, process and start putting to bed traumatic experiences in my life. In unraveling that past and better understanding my thinking even at the very moment I pulled the infidelity trigger, I uncovered a very bad problem: no self-love. In fact, it was the opposite. When I was unfaithful, I was acting out, trying to destroy myself, and not just through infidelity. There was a whole slew of reasons for this. I stayed active and fit primarily through negative motivation. Can you imagine an entire lifestyle motivated by pain because I could not look myself in the mirror (this pain came from childhood)?
Fast forward to too many therapy sessions to count, hundreds of pages of journaling, meditation, reading, etc. and nowÖ there is finally a calm. Now, all that remains, is me looking at me in the mirror. I remain faced with that self. Iíve made plenty of mistakes last year. I literally threw away my marriage, even when I had a chance to step up. She didnít leave me (maybe in words, but not in action). I left her. You canít do what I did and see it any other way.
Iím rambling. So what Iím getting to is this. Once you figure out the why. Once you figure out how to start loving self. Once you can finally sit silent and comfortably in an empty room with only your own thoughts, the real work starts to happen. And by real work I mean, evolving to be the man I should have been for my ex-BW. (side note: Iíve never met, nor will I ever, such a strong, deserving woman, and I know that now.) But now I have to become that man for me, and for no one else. Iím not sure that makes it any easier or harder.
So, in a way, that puts me over Ďoneí hill. But I perceive many hills to climb and then descend, and this will take years. Itís not always going to relate to the infidelity patch I wear, although that was one of the catalysts. I say Ďoneí of the catalysts because I was also on the path to other types of destruction. But when I think about that again, maybe it will always relate to infidelity. Isnít it the cheating way of thinking that is the root of degeneration in many of us. The dishonesty with the self, the lack of courage to face hard problems, the easy lies, lack of integrity, all the root problems.
I still visit this forum almost daily, although I donít post much. TBH, most of my experiences donít seem relevant to those who remained married. It seems a majority of waywards on this site remain married or attached to their BS. I could be wrong; thatís just a guess.
So, what am I doing to continue my recovery at this moment? I continue to read many books, including most recently ďAttachedĒ and ďthe All-or-Nothing MarriageĒ (btw, great read!). You might ask, why would a divorced former WS read a book about successful marriages? After all of the steps I took to personally recover over the past nearly two years since Dday, I now want to explore what went wrong in my marriage. I focused my therapy on my own personal flaws, coping mechanisms, trauma, issues, etc. Now Iím interested in understanding how to make marriage work for no reason other than to understand what went wrong in mind. I never got that chance to understand what happened in the marriage. My mind was blown after reading the book. And I continue to learn so much.
Anyway, Zug, great post. My thoughts ramble. Youíre right. A lot of cake eaters whose spouses left them probably have disappeared. And thatís kind of sad, because in my own experience, despite having made the worst possible choice for myself and my amazing former BW, it also became the single biggest opportunity Iíve ever had to rewrite the present and the future. And Iím not looking back. For my own part, I know Iíll be on this site for quite a while. However, my recovery is dependent only on myself.

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