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Manly?

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Buck posted 5/28/2020 09:06 AM

I should clarify the sex initiation thing. He has to believe it's coming from true desire. Otherwise, he's going to feel manipulated and it will be a setback and not helpful at all.

You also repeatedly mention he's exhausted. Can you take some things off of his plate? Yard work, anything that frees up some time for him? I remember thinking, my wife had time and energy to cheat, she has time and energy to do some extra stuff around home.

DIFM posted 5/28/2020 09:26 AM

I wonder of these concepts or feelings associated with "manly" are really issues he has over the feelings of being emasculated. The two are not inherently or entirely the same. For may years, I insisted that my fWW was responsible for resolving the feelings of emasculation that her A caused me to feel.

Have you has a conversation or asked specifically about his feelings as it related to emasculation vs whatever "manly" means to you and him?

thatbpguy posted 5/28/2020 10:05 AM

wonder of these concepts or feelings associated with "manly" are really issues he has over the feelings of being emasculated.

A good point. I felt like this as well and never got over it. I felt "manly", but around her I also felt emasculated. Never went away. Just knowing I was replaced sexually by someone else and became the kewpie doll second place prize for life was something I really never overcame. It made me do things for me and not for her and that also feels less manly.

[This message edited by thatbpguy at 10:06 AM, May 28th (Thursday)]

Brew3x posted 5/28/2020 10:18 AM

I would push him into the weight lifting and getting fit. Go somewhere and have him get a few great things for a wardrobe. I got in great shape after her affair. I bought new fitted clothes. I even bought the classic mid life crisis car. (better than her mid life crisis choice of our electrician) It did wonders for me to have both men and women comment on how good I looked. If you can get him to feel better about himself totally, the manly aspect will hopefully get carried along.


I agree with waited, I was already in shape but on the thin side. I used the A as motivation to get in incredible shape, I put on 10# and got absolutely shredded. I also resumed martial arts until covid19 hit. I started caring for my general appearance more. All these things help build my confidence and self esteem.
I also believe that these feelings of emasculation and lack of manliness are in the BHís head. Are you any less of man than you were before DDay? No, you canít let someone elseís actions define you. I find comfort in knowing that Iím successful, good looking, in shape, and kind. If My WW canít see that plenty of women will. Iím turning myself into the biggest baddest beast in the jungle thatís how I make it through everyday.
I will add that I question weather or not my WW sees these changes and it hurts a little but like I said I know Iíll be fine either way.

Westway posted 5/28/2020 10:58 AM

Westway,
I absolutely find him attractive. He is gorgeous in my eyes, and that attraction grows daily. I personally see him as very manly. He is incredibly smart, very handy around the house. He can fix almost anything ( computers, electronics, wiring, plumbing, building projects, mechanical etc.) He's a fantastic gardener, strong, caring, and resourceful. He does a fantastic job handling our finances, and business, all while continuing to work a full time job, while the business grows and stabilizes. He genuinely cares about my health and wellbeing, and protects me from myself (and others) as needed. Ie he makes sure I eat well, rest, and allow my body to heal, and that no one injures me further, or exposes me to any infections. (I have a physical injury that flairs up when I over work, and immune compromised health issues.) I'm incredibly grateful for his diligence. I do the same for him, making sure he has a warm meal to come home to (essential worker), making sure he has clean clothes to wear, and that the kids (teens and young adults) are taken care of, as well as being accountable, and being a safe partner to him.
Due to stress, and health issues, sexual drive has been down for a few months. (Not to the point of ed, just due to being overwhelmed, exhaustion, physical soreness, and depression.) However when we Do engage it is really good, and satisfying.
In MY eyes he IS very manly, but he doesn't seem to Feel that way about himself.

My best advice is that you speak these very same words to him every chance you get. And mean it. Tell him you understand how he feels cheated after all the hard work he did showing you every day how much he loves you.

I dunno, you have to somehow come up with a way to make him feel more desirable than the OM. When you speak of the OM, if you guys ever do, you need to do it with utter disdain and contempt... as if that man's name is a gross taste in your mouth. Whenever you are in public around other people, always build him up and tell everyone in earshot how great a man he is, how smart and resourceful he is, how he is the best man you have ever known.

If he hears these things enough, and you do it with consistency, he may start to believe it.

Westway posted 5/28/2020 11:04 AM

I also believe that these feelings of emasculation and lack of manliness are in the BHís head. Are you any less of man than you were before DDay? No, you canít let someone elseís actions define you. I find comfort in knowing that Iím successful, good looking, in shape, and kind. If My WW canít see that plenty of women will. Iím turning myself into the biggest baddest beast in the jungle thatís how I make it through everyday.
I will add that I question weather or not my WW sees these changes and it hurts a little but like I said I know Iíll be fine either way.

All true. The one thing I discovered after separating from my STBXWW is that there were far more women interested in me than I had ever been aware of. It was an ego boost to have several gals I have known from work and social circles tell me they would date me in a heartbeat if I was on the market, but at the same time it is weird.

And my STBXWW mentioned to me around the time that I moved out that she knew I would be getting a lot of interest from women we know, so even she was acknowledging that I am a desired commodity.

I think the biggest fallacy that SOME wayward wives buy into is the thought that they are the only ones who could ever love or desire their husbands, and they take false security in that notion.

Jameson1977 posted 5/28/2020 11:28 AM

Hi Investednhealing,

Iím a BH. My dday way 2 months after yours, we are reconciling (unfortunately, I wouldnít say reconciled at this point).

I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy, low self esteem and lack of ďmanlinessĒ ever since dday.

I have also experienced ED, basically from dday to present. It sounds as though your BH isnít suffering from this problem, which is good. For me, my WW and I were HS sweethearts and were each otherís firsts for pretty much everything. I was both proud and embarrassed by my lack of ďexperienceĒ.

Dday crushed me, as did the dday 2 and 3. Took my WW 3 years to fully open up and be honest with me. I felt like I wasnít enough, the AP must have been so much better than me since my WW was willing to throw away our relationship for some compliments and sex. Her AP was a Dr., rich, charismatic, good looking, etc.

What has helped me is to learn to not rely on others for affirmation. Itís really strange, prior to dday, I didnít get anything out of words of affirmation. I always prided myself on the fact I didnít rely on anyone for anything. I was proud of this and allowed me the freedom to walk away from any toxic relationships because I owed no one nothing.

After dday, I really needed affirmation, but since Iím quite private, I didnít tell anyone except for a very close friend of mine that was going through a D (no confirmed infidelity), and we leaned on each other, a lot. This helped me. Having someone I could trust to talk frankly with. Normally, this would have been my WW, but that was destroyed on July 28, 2015.

I did do IC for a period but I never got much out of it. Felt like all I did was talk, let it out, which felt good at the time, but didnít have any lasting effects.

I guess what Iím trying to say (sorry for the rambling!) is that this has to come from within himself. You can support him, encourage him, but you canít do it for him. Iíve come to realize this, probably only the last year or so.

Iíve taken stock of myself. I have a great career (quit my job as this pandemic hit, got another job with a significant raise), am good at what I do, Iím a good father, Iím a good husband, a good friend to people that deserve it, Iím in decent health and shape, etc. I know these things are true, but convincing oneself is very difficult, especially since Iím an eternal pessimist!

Dealing with my WWís infidelities has been the single most difficult thing Iíve had to deal with in my life, so far. I had all these preconceived notions like, I would leave at the drop of a hat, it wouldnít affect me very much, etc. These were so, so wrong.

I wish you two all the best.

survrus posted 5/28/2020 11:40 AM

Invested,

You are rare in that many WWs do not want to try and understand their BHs perspective, but try to make their BHs understand theirs.

Did you give your BH the complete and detailed truth so there is no possibility of more trickle truth? Does he have the physical details of the affair.

The physical details can be important, perhaps the most important, thing to some men myself included. However at the same time they are terrified of them and remain in limbo where they need to know, but cannot ask. Did you offer to be open and honest with him anytime he asks?

So he cannot recover his manhood because he does not know the extent of his loss.

straha20 posted 5/28/2020 11:50 AM

For me, nothing. Manliness comes from inside. I am the only one that can make me feel manly. The way I regained my manliness was to divorce her.

KingofNothing posted 5/28/2020 12:53 PM

It's there, the plain, cold, hard truth: your wife thinks more of the other guy, prefers him and the only reason she is with you is because of consequences and family and societal pressure.
I think it would be a constant struggle employing mental gymnastics of the highest order for a lot of guys to feel confident that their cheater chose them post discovery for the right reasons,and that they are first choice.

Apropos of nothing, this is a great statement.

To get to the point of the OP, though, I'm not sure that there's anything an individual person can do that helps that much. Since you make the distinction about an abstract quality of manliness versus sexual manliness, I'm thinking that you mean more of a sense of confidence in ones self, the ability to do things, be decisive, be good in your own skin, kind of feeling. That's really a self image issue that a man must address himself. I believe I understand what you are getting at with this-- as a BS my confidence not just in my own attraction, but my sense of self-worth was destroyed for a long time by betrayal. I'm not sure how recovered I am, as her affairs have altered my viewpoint on life drastically, and only after 3 years do I feel like I'm "coming back" to the old me.

tushnurse posted 5/28/2020 12:59 PM

Then he went on to say that he feels like I took his manhood away from him, and he wants it back

NO matter what you did. He allowed himself to feel this way, and at the end of the day no amount of love, support, cheering, positive reinforcement will change that. The only real way to fix that is he has to do it for himself. Additionally if he isn't exercising and is around middle aged (guessing since you have teen sons) he needs to have his testosterone level checked. If it is low it can lead to all sorts of depression, and sense of loss of who he once was.

Stinger posted 5/28/2020 13:16 PM

I disagree that he " let himself feel this way". I think that analysis fails to consider that the things one does to another can cause trauma, PTSD, and scarring.

It is tantamount tonsaying suck it up, deal with it, get over it.

It is just wrong, IMO, to believe he has complete control over what he feels. If that were the case, I doubt any of the betrayed would suffer the emotional trauma they feel. They would simply not allow themselves to feel things that are hurtful to them and would choose to feel just fine.

Investednhealing posted 5/28/2020 14:22 PM

I have been at pt with my daughter all morning, bare with me as I and reply, as I have gotten loads of great suggestions and replies this morning. (This post IS LONG.)

Buck,
That is a tricky minefield, as we have had that discussion before, about chores. It has become a balancing act, learning to do enough of the chores that he can rest, but at the same time not taking away from his need to be needed. This became am issue when I was taking on much of the yard work,(as well as house work) and it left him feeling like I didn't need him, or trust him, to do the chores that he felt were more his responsibility to handle. While my intentions were good, it was poorly received.
As to the sex initiation side of things, we had that discussion last night. He was able to further elaborate on his feelings of this matter, and it is being addressed. There WAS some miscommunication, and concepts that we had to talk out and work through. As I mentioned before I was getting conflicting advice on this subject. I believe I now have a more thorough understanding. Thank you.

DIFM,
We had a long discussion again last night. He continues to struggle to pinpoint that feeling, other than to state that it feels like something was taken from him, and he wants it back. We will continue to work on, and discuss, this. One thing that I realized that I was doing wrong, was crying in private. Growing up, it was "stop crying before I give you something to cry about". Then I read that "this isn't your time to cry. Stop making it about you, it's about the bs" I took that as I had to be strong, or even semi emotionless, while we were having our later discussions. I felt I had to hold it in, stay calm, focus on what he was saying, and just listen. This meant to him that I was hiding my emotions from him, an not suffering with him. I felt bad/guilty expressing my real hurt, pain, and feelings, through really breaking down (once we got past the initial of course, where I was a mess during almost every conversation.) I had been taught to be strong, be hard, emotions are for the weak. (Yes my parents wanted a boy, and I was raised very tomboy, but that is besides the point.) I saw through discussion that doing that, and feeling that way, made it even more about me, because I was not allowing him to SEE that I was hurting, and he didn't feel like I was sharing in his pain.


thatbpguy,
I am sorry to hear that you are continuing to struggle with this. It is my hope that this feed is able to give you some ways to help yourself, or if your ww reads here, gives her some further insight as to how to address these issues as well.


Brew3x,
We discussed the weight lifting, and exercising again last night. He is in full agreement on this one. He has worked out a few months here and there, and stated that he did feel better, and felt better about HIMSELF, when he was working out more regularly. I was told today (at pt) that the local gym here has reopened, and that it is not that expensive, and as I pointed out yesterday, we DO have a good bit of equipment here as well. I spoke with one of our sons (who is very fit, ad exercises regularly), and he is going to help us both motivate to get ourselves back in shape. There is a true science behind working out, especially weight lifting. It raises, and releases, a lot of the good hormones, and reduces things like stress and depression.
I am pleased to hear that you have found inner strength in working out, as well as the physical strength. I hope that she DOES see the changes, and gives you the affirmation and motivation to continue to allow yourself to heal and get stronger. No one should have to face this depth of trauma alone, but sadly many I see find themselves doing just that. I applaud you for getting stronger for YOU, regardless of her part in the process. That takes great strength and determination.


Westway,
Building him up, is something I do constantly. When we worked together (I am not essential, but he is, so he is still working, and my position got cut.), I talk him up to pretty much anyone that will listen, and sometimes to those that could give flying flip. LOL (Yea yea he is great, good for you, I don't have that *rolls eyes* and walks away.) Thank you, and I will continue to build him up, not only in private, but to the kids, and when we are around others. Sometimes it feels like he can not see how amazing, and gorgeous that he really is, but perhaps one day, with enough reinforcement he will begin to feel them.

I know for a fact that am not the only person that sees these things in him. I have had several people (men and women alike) give him compliments on his abilities and looks. He really IS an all around great guy, and very gifted in many ways. I am most certainly NOT under any false impression that I am the only one that finds him attractive, or can see his amazing qualities. I hope that with time HE will be able to see them himself.


Jameson1977,
I can feel your continued pain through your post. We were married when I was 17 and he was 26. So I can identify with your pain to a point. I was very young, manipulatable, inexperienced, nieve about life, I had little grasp what true love was, or what it meant. (Through therapy I discovered that much of this was due to the environment I was raised in, and the rejection I felt throughout childhood, that continued into and through my adult life.) I was NOT raised to be open, either communicatively or emotionally. There were many areas of neglect and emotional/mental abuse, that, if I am truly honest, I still struggle with even now. Though through therapy and many many nights of discussion, I AM getting better about. Expressing myself and my feelings is something that remains very difficult, but I am working diligently to overcome those things. Thank you for your insight. I dearly hope that the window of communication is opened in your own relationship, and the two of you are able to continue your healing.


survrus,
I have given him all of the details, to the best of my ability. Before you knee jerk, allow me to explain that one. While dday was 5 years ago, my actions against the marriage (ONS, EA's, kisses, etc.) range from nearly 8 to 23 years ago. I WISH I had disclosed everything from the beginning. (Meaning 23 years ago, at first action *ONS*) HAD I done so, IDK what would have happened. Perhaps we would have separated and gone our separate ways, but more than likely we would have worked through it in the beginning, and the other things would not have even been given the chance to happen. God what I would give to go back to the beginning, take our marriage certificate, and tell my mother to fly a short kite in heavy winds, while standing on a bridge. It took me MANY MANY years to remove that toxicity (my mother and her influencers) from my life. He tried to tell me, and open my eyes for YEARS. I was simply NOT strong enough to see through the manipulation, and in turn I became very toxic and manipulative myself. I say that to say this, with many many years having passed, some of the exact details, especially any emotional "what were you thinking/feeling" details are either completely lost, foggy, or simply not clear at this point. I allowed WAY WAY WAY toooooo much time to pass, and that caused much more upheaval that would have been caused, if I had been truly open, up front, honest, and confided in him from the very very beginning of our relationship. I was completely blinded and damaged beyond what even I recognized. I HAVE given him all of the details, to the best that my memory has allowed. I searched and searched within my own heart and mind, until I was able to pull every last piece that there was to pull. Again, that could have been completely avoided, had I just fessed up at the very first offence. I have caused us more pain, lost time, the ability to bare and raise children in a HEALHY and loving relationship, trust, open communication, honest connection, years of true unwavering commitment, and many other things than will ever be able to be replaced. This pains me on a level that I can not even begin to express, and I know it is something that impacts my bh very very deeply. While many things I know are truly lost to the past, I DO hold out hope for a truly happy, open, loving, committed, passionate, truthful, caring, bright, and truly connected future together. I am committed and invested in continuing to gain understanding of his feelings, his pain, and his emotions, and taking the steps that I can take to help him continue to heal, and encouraging him to heal the things that have to come from within himself.

Thank you for your insight, advice, and allowing me the chance to express openly.


sraha20,
I am truly sorry for the loss of your marriage. I do hope that you find your own inner peace, healing, self worth, manliness, and strength along your journey.


Thank you everyone for your replies, advice, insight, and for helping me to further open the lines of communication and healing. I will use your suggestions, and I look forward to reading more thoughts. Thank you for your time.

Jameson1977 posted 5/28/2020 15:13 PM

Investednhealing, thanks for your comment. My WW and I are reconciling and I hope, one day, we will be fully reconciled.

Your story and my WWís are very similar. You can read my summary. Mine had a ONS about 4 years into dating. That came out on dday 1. I say it was 2 for 1 day, as she used dday as an opportunity to free her guilt, to a certain extent.

She also carried on multiple EAís, and at the time of her last PA, she was in 2 EAís and the PA was also emotional on her part anyway. Her PA just wanted to sleep with her, she was more into the emotional stuff, sex was just currency. She also did the same ďsmallerĒ stuff. She kissed other women and men, would flash basically anyone that would ask, the list goes on.

The last PA was after her father and grandmother had dies within a month of each other. I had started a new job that I was working hard at proving myself, and lots of other life struggles.

So, she has a very long history of making poor decisions, relationship wise. Otherwise, she makes excellent choices. She has always gravitated towards friendships with men. She has struggled to maintain friendships with women, likely due to her (cough, cough) strong personality. She also has daddy issues (abandonment).

We went through false R until I finally had enough. I have her an ultimatum. Intensive IC, or we are done. She woke up. She was deathly afraid of telling a stranger all the horrible details of her Aís. I met her IC, I really like her. She is kind but stern and doesnít let my WW off the hook.

This was the single most important part of our R. She had and has a lot of FOO issues to work through. It wasnít the FOO issues that made her cheat, rather, her lack of good coping mechanisms, lack of appropriate boundaries, years of hiding and trying not to be noticed, burying her feelings, etc., coupled with tragedy and low self esteem. They all had a role to play. However, she made these choices and now has to live with them.

We have been through a lot. She attempted suicide about a week after dday. I was drunk, belligerent, just awful. She felt our (my son and I) would be better off without her. I stoped her from taking her life. To this day, I donít think I have come to grips with this.

Keep doing the work!

Investednhealing posted 5/28/2020 15:26 PM

KingofNothing,
Yes, I am speaking more of his self worth, self identification of manliness, self confidence and feeling more manly and comfortable in his own skin. This is something I very much destroyed in him, many many years ago, and sadly continued to do for many years. I have been trying to gain a deeper understanding as to what that means to him, as well as others, and to get a clearer picture as to what I CAN do to help him regain that piece of himself, that I so selfishly robbed him of by my actions. Thank you for your insight.

tushnurse,
He is 50 years young. Our "kids" are between mid-teen- early 20's in age. I brought this up to him last night. He said that it might be a good idea to have his Testosterone checked, but he does not think it is out of wack. He thinks it is more a mental and emotional block, than a hormonal imbalance. I do agree that it is time for a full physical and check up though, for general health, if nothing else.


Stinger,
I absolutely agree. While one can control their emotions to a point, or surpress them rather, emotions are fluid, and as such can be handled, worked through, and understood, but not completely controlled. This goes back to what I was saying earlier about being told as a child to deal with my emotions, be strong, don't cry. Yea that's all well and good for appearances. The issue there is that it in turn causes even more damage in the long run.


Thank you again for your continued replies and insight. Please keep them coming.

fooled13years posted 5/28/2020 15:41 PM

Investednhealing,
Perhaps you have already completed this exercise but I would recommend it if you havenít.

Imagine your husband cheated on you and took from you everything that makes you feel like a woman, a wife and a mother.

What could your husband do to help you get those feelings back?

How could he continue to help you maintain those feelings?

How could he constantly reassure you that you are, and forevermore be, his first priority?

How could he constantly reassure you that you are, and forevermore will be, the only woman for him?

There had to be times in your marriage that you could see his pride in something he did for you or your family, something that gave him a spring in his step, a smile on his face, made him walk a little taller or throw his shoulders back and throw out his chest because of the feeling something gave him.

You know your husband much better than any of us ever will so tell us what these things were.

These are the things you need to help foster in him again.

waitedwaytoolong posted 5/28/2020 15:52 PM

Reading your profile I think I can understand how he feels this way. If you had had a ONS, or LTA, it could be explained that there was an attraction to this one person and you made a really bad choice.

Your story reminds me of when my golf swing goes bad and Iím unhappy with it. I try to swing faster, then slower, then more inside, then more outside. You get the picture. If my golf swing had feelings they would be crushed that I was trying anything and everything to make things better and I was rejecting it

Aside from the rape which other than your frame of mind after has no business in being lumped in with the others as it was not your choice, it feels like you were searching for almost anyone other than him to be sexually active with. You can explain it as your problem, but itís natural that he internalized this as a rejection of him.

Have you stopped searching for other person rather than him to be close with. Iím not talking about sex, but also things like male friends, flirting, checking out some guys ass as he walks by in front of him? It can even be a close relationship with another woman. Anyone where he is put into the b slot

Why do you think you had so many of these experiences and is he confident that they ended or will never happen again?

How did he find out about all the activities?

Investednhealing posted 5/28/2020 16:05 PM

Jameson1977,
Yes it does seem like some aspects of her and my stories line up, and can be identified with. It is difficult, but I have to believe that childhood trauma, as well as relational and affair trauma, can be worked though, and healed. It is most certainly not easy, or for the faint of heart. It is a grueling process, and takes a very very long time, and an exceptional amount of work.
I am glad to hear that you are working on R, and are pushing for full R. That is good to hear. It takes a LOT of strength, especially on the bs side, and on the ws side as well. It takes much therapy, talking, talking (much coffee after only a few hours sleep and early mornings), more talking, being open, and allowing yourselves to BOTH be vulnerable again. (My hubby, last night, compared allowing yourself to be vulnerable again to being stabbed in the chest with a knife, pulling the knife out, handing it back to the person and saying, "here I think you misplaced this".) It takes a lot of work, true diligence, understanding, clarifying, forgiving, and trying to see not only your point of view, but allowing yourself to see things from their point of view. There is not a single aspect about the entire process that I would classify as easy. It is the single most traumatic and difficult thing you will ever face, because it affects and effects so many different aspects of your life, both inward and outward life. It damages you to the core of your being. It takes this idealistic view of what you thought your life was, or would become, and completely tosses it out the window. Picking up those pieces, and rebuilding your life, your safe haven, your security, your sanity, your sense of self, self worth, your trust, your comfort, your strength, these things are more difficult than can simply be put into words. This is what I am trying to do for my bh. I shattered his entire world, and then I did it again, and then I did it again.... Now the pieces are shattered to the point that some are fragments of dust, it seems. I will continue to lift him up. I will continue to work at tearing down his walls. I will listen with understanding. I will work on allowing him to see my hurt, and sharing that pain together. I will pray for him, as he has lost what little faith he had left. (Mine is holding on by a thread, but it is something.) I will praise him in things big and small. I will give him space when he needs it. I will be accountable for my actions. I will be honest, truthful, and more communicative. It is my hope that in doing these things, and more, that he will get that spark of life, self love, self worth, manly security, self joy, united joy, peace and happiness back, and that together we can fan that spark, fuel the fire, and blaze through to true peace, joy, comfort, happiness, love, and oneness.

JBWD posted 5/28/2020 16:51 PM

It is just wrong, IMO, to believe he has complete control over what he feels.

True. Our feelings are instinctive things, often conditioned to stimuli that no longer present the threat they did thousands of years ago when they took hold in more rudimentary segments of the brain.

What we CAN do is know that our feelings can mislead and build in ourselves the time and understanding to recognize. This is happening in two distinct timelines post- A. BPs are reaching drastically different emotions based on the shock of betrayal. WPs are facing emotional distortions that may have an entire lifetime of momentum behind them. When I compare the intensity of new emotion in the betrayed side to the longstanding momentum on the betrayer side, I come to the conclusion that both sides of this equation do have a hard road ahead of them.

Slight departure but wanted to reiterate that blindly trusting feelings is what gets a lot of people to the wayward side of town.

Investednhealing posted 5/29/2020 20:51 PM

Fooled13years,

"Imagine your husband cheated on you and took from you everything that makes you feel like a woman, a wife and a mother."
These are hard to answer, without telling his side of he story, that we really have not included on here. We are semi mad-hatters, in a way. He developed an affinity for porn for a good while. He played a game called redlight district, which is basically a roll playing game, where the characters can have sex. He would play sometimes with me in the room, and sometimes well into the night, while I was sleeping. So in a way, I do have a slight grasp on how I would feel. This is NOT to say that I can grasp the true depth of what HE is feeling, because for him, betrayal started before he and I ever met. Both of his ltr's prior to me also cheated on him. So he was already shattered, struggling to put the pieces back together from his past, and I shattered him even more.

"What could your husband do to help you get those feelings back?"

For the longest time he would not call me "mom" to the kids. He would use my given first name (not the name I actually now go by, but my given name) That name was used more as a curse word growing up, and I have a lot of negativity associated with that name. What he has done to help me, is start calling me by the name I actually go by, and he started referring to me as "mom" to them. It has also helped that we have started tackling parenting together, and I can now defer the decision making to him, or we can make them together. For many years, that was left up to me.

As to wife, we have began claiming, and protecting one another in public and at work. New people start "Hi I am... Hi, I am... and that is my ___" It stops any thought of advancement on their part dead in it's tracks.

To help me feel like a woman, that is a tough one, because unlike the struggle to identify manly, I struggle to identify what it means to me to feel womanly. I have very fem features, but I have very tomboy tedancies. So I guess the answer is something we do for one another. I like to have my hair colored different colors, and he likes coloring my hair. That is one of our alone time things, and I am the one that cuts his hair. (Can we afford to go to a professional, well sure, but we both know how to do it, and we enjoy spending that time, focusing on eachother.)

We have gotten away from it a bit, but another thing we use to do, was take the weekend, and get a hotel, and just focus on eachother.

Today he mowed the yard for me, and I stayed out there with him, and handed him ice water every little bit, so he stayed hydrated. Then we watered the gardens together. We also went out and bought him some new shoes. then he bought me a candy bar, and a bodyarmor drink. It sounds simple, but those are the little things we do for eachother, to make each feel special, loved, wanted, and to restore our self confidence levels a bit. (wearing dying shoes is just humiliating)

How could he continue to help you maintain those feelings?
By continuing to do those things listed above. We are starting to learn how to make one another feel more secure in our roles as man and woman of the house. Those lines are ever so slowly being written, and figured out. Now I am not going to say that we do not get frustrated at eachother, because that would be a lie. We absolutely do, but we have been learning to communicate those things, right down to speech patterns.

How could he constantly reassure you that you are, and forevermore be, his first priority?

We do this for eachother, by making eachother the priority. Recently we have had to shift focus to our youngest, because she has a pretty serious surgery coming up in the fall. He got a lil frustrated, and brought it to my attention, that with all of the dozens of calls and appointments etc, he was feeling a bit neglected, and felt that I was spending more time on that, than I was on my/our healing. I was honestly so overwhelmed with everything, that I did not even really realize. So I got back into watching the AR videos, and lurking here. Then through discussion, decided to make this post/thread.

How could he constantly reassure you that you are, and forevermore will be, the only woman for him?"

By simply doing just that. verbal reassurance, being accountable. Seeing how he (and I) react to people when we are out, or are at work. (when we worked together) Talking to eachother, reassuring eachother, and really being present when we are together. By that I mean focusing more on eachother, than those around us. I use to focus so much on those around me. Now, my only focus is him, and maybe not letting anyone get too close, because, you know, covid ahhh!!

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