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Why should anyone stay?

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humantrampoline posted 6/22/2020 15:33 PM


Your initial discussion seemed to about the inherent injustice and unfairness of an A for the BS.

To me that injustice is a fact that can't be changed. It will always remain no matter what the WS does or if the BS decides to D or R.

I cringe when I see WS or BS discuss R, trust, or forgiveness and use the following terms in regard to the WS' actions:
earned, show or prove that, worthy of, worked for, deserved.

It implies that there is some fairness in any of this (or really anywhere in life). It implies that an act will produce a result Ė that you earn or you deserve another person's actions. A logical conclusion is that an act by the BS would have produced a different outcome (no cheating) by the WS. I don't buy it. Life isn't always fair.

By your posts, Snowyjune, I think you are struggling with this too. It's healthy to consider. Some WS try to justify their behavior instead.

The idea of a WS making atonement or amends for betraying their spouse seems insulting.

To further an example used above, say a drunk driver killed your spouse and child and crippled you for life. They went to rehab, served time in jail for manslaughter, dedicated their life to charities against drunk driving. If they came to you in 5 yrs (or 10 or 20 yrs) and told you they made amends and earned your forgiveness and trust, would you say that you owed it to them?

I agree with hikingout that this thought process is probably about a WS tendency to people please and look to others for their happiness or maybe believing in transactional love and relationships. It's not healthy. WS also often think their BS is punishing them when they ask for changes after an affair, but that's often not how a BS sees that either.

The other part of your discussion is why a BS would try. People have a remarkable ability for grace and forgiveness and also growth and change. A BS may have experienced those things themselves and appreciate it. They can see the good in their WS. Snowyjune, your husband clearly sees some of those qualities in you and wants to try. I know you've said you're in a bad place, but you have shown remarkable insight and compassion. Hikingout gives good advice.

Personally, I like my husband. I wanted to see him amend, as in change, himself and his life in a positive way. I wanted the opportunity to be with him on his growth path. I was willing to take that chance. I want that for our children too.

To some other WW here:

Yikes! I'm sorry you were triggered by Stinger. Maybe it's not your reality, but I think some of you might want to read on the BS posts to get the other perspective. There are many BS here who are in fact sadly dealing with lifetime liars. Not me, but it hurts to read it. I wonder if addition to telling him to think it over, you might also consider why the post made you so angry and hurt.

sisoon posted 6/22/2020 15:51 PM

Some people come to SI to vent, thinking that's all that's needed to heal. It isn't.

Healing requires facing, accepting, and resolving one's pain. The origin of one's pain doesn't matter at all. Not at all. What matters is accepting and resolving one's pain.

There are some terrible people out there. Some are obviously inhuman from the way they present themselves to others. Some are inhuman in secret. Having to live with evil people is soul-crushing. I am very sorry for all who experience that, especially Onlyjan and Stinger.

There are a lot of voices here who seem to have no hope. That's as bad as - and maybe worse than - too much hope. (But, then, I would say that, since I'm an optimist, having given up pessimism as a lie.)

I certainly understand that being betrayed is a nasty shock. I understand that it takes a lot of time to recover.

But not every WS is irredeemable. Within 6-12 mos, most of us can probably tell the difference between a WS who is likely to do the work and a WS who won't - not with 100% accuracy, but probably 90% and maybe more.

One aspect of facing your pain is realizing that some WSes will redeem themselves, even if yours won't. If you keep rejecting what you read here from WSes and BSes who are in R, or if you only believe the struggle that are shared, you will be doing yourself a big disservice.


But, I do believe the " stronger, better marriage" deal oft cited, is much rarer than reported.
Depends on who's making the claim. If it's a BS or WS whose been on SI a while and reports doing the necessary work, it's probably better to believe than to disbelieve.

If it's someone who's trying to sell a book or, worse, an infidelity recovery program, well, yeah, I'd call 'bullshit,' too.

Stinger posted 6/22/2020 17:26 PM

I believe the betrayed has faced his or her pain. Accepting it? You really have no choice. It exists and the BS knows it.
Resolving it? Well, what exactly does that mean? Not thinking about what happened? Pretending you still have as much access to your kids? Pretending your ffg finances were not impacted or your standard of living diminished? Pretending th hat ignorant folks do not blame you, question your abilities as a husband such that you caused or contributed to the cheating?

MrsWalloped posted 6/22/2020 19:18 PM

Well, no. Not at all. Iím not a therapist and Iím not equipped to answer all your questions or address what youíre going through. I was trying to be helpful by suggesting you refocus your energy but perhaps it came across poorly. If so, Iím sorry. And if it helps you to vent at a WS, thatís cool too.

snowyjune - apologies for hijacking your thread.

numb&dumb posted 6/23/2020 10:14 AM

Start t/j

Stinger - If I may why don't you start a thread with just those question in general and leave it open to both BS and WS ?

I really do think you might get more responses from people that have first hand experiences with the healing that a BS does.

End t/j

cactusflower posted 6/23/2020 10:53 AM

Every relationship is different so there is no cookie-cutter answer to whether anyone will stay or leave.

Ultimately, for me, it comes down to why my WH decided to find excitement with another woman and treat me with indifference. After learning a lot about personalities and attachment styles, I learned that he never really allowed himself to get close to me (or anyone for that matter). That's pretty tough to realize and accept. Your husband was never able to experience deep emotion. He did fake it (sometimes) when it suited him. I also discovered he was an accomplished liar (mostly lies of omission) which creates this black hole of what else I don't know.

So after I find evidence of an A and was devastated, this was his chance to become someone who realizes he's going to lose the best thing that every happened to him and make some changes in how he perceives his marriage. But he couldn't do it because he didn't really care - he actually couldn't feel any empathy other than for himself getting caught and called out on dismissive behavior. He denied he had done anything wrong and continued to lie to me and treat me with indifference. He say it's an EA (the go-to term here for nothing physical happened) but he's not capable of an EA. He had the hots for her. I was still disrespected and treated like my feelings didn't matter. Rugsweeping and denial was the go-to for him. Trying to recover from all of this truly showed me the man I married. It was very sad when I finally came to terms with it, try as I might to not want to.

I feel like a walking zombie half the time. There are a million reasons that I should stay married but the bottom line is I'm not happy. I'm miserable because my husband doesn't love me and I know it in my gut. If he did, he wouldn't have dragged me along with hope for years and years only to dash them time and again by letting me know I wasn't that important.

So ultimately my point is who is the WS? Was their affair just a weak stupid moment and they snapped out of it or is it more about who they are as a person and how they view/value you and your marriage? The latter part should dictate whether you stay or not. I just feel I deserve so much more and being around him just makes me feel sad all the time.

Onlyjan posted 6/23/2020 15:00 PM

Stinger ó I hear and relate to your pain. I share so many of your questions. I do feel like the people on this particular forum have evolved and are working on their whys and the reason they are here is because they are remorseful and trying to be better people. But there are many,ímany more people who would never seek out a forum like this and who wonít take responsibility. Which is why there is a 97 percent likelihood someone who cheated once will cheat again. inherently, it is almost impossible for me to understand the utter lack of integrity that would allow someone to cheat. I just canít comprehend it. Like you, Iím successful and attractive. Iíve made my career based on my appearance. At the time of the affair there was a billboard with my image just blocks from he and the APís office. Beyond my face, Iím a size 0 and in excellent physical shape. Iím on tv every working day. I have honestly almost never been out in public and NOT had at least a couple men tell me Iím beautiful. I know it sounds like Iím bragging but you donít even know me and Iím trying to be truthful here to give context. Like you, I also make a healthy six-figure salary. I work hard. Iím a good mother. I went to graduate school and am well-educated. I used to be full of light and laughter. I literally have endless opportunities to cheat. While Iíve been suffering through this pain (and Iíve been so humiliated very few know about his cheating, although they can see he has been emotionally abusing me, since I cry and cry often) Iíve had no less than TWO men show up with keys to their homes for me (in just the last four months) because they worry about my emotional well-being and want to take care of me. Iím also dealing with a work stalker, but I digress. The point is, like you, I could have had so many affairs. But I didnít. Havenít. I have a healthy libido and a healthy attraction to men. Do I find other men attractive sometimes? Of course. Iím human. But if I have found myself having those kinds of thoughts I have been quick. to put out the fire. I have thought of my kids and my love for my husband and I think of the harm it would do us all. How anyone could EVER not think of their children when they cheat I just will never understand. The prospect of decimating their family? I will never be able to comprehend that level of selfishness or carelessness. How do you not consider the cascading generational consequences? It is mind-boggling. So I share a lot of your sentiments. Iím trying hard not to paint everyone with the same brush, though. And I come here to read what waywards have to say because I am striving so hard to have insight and compassion instead of the intense hatred I feel so often for my UH. And if you ask why Iíve stayed? It is 100 percent for my kids at this point. Three small children and I will not do 50/50 custody. That will never happen. And my husband knows this and holds this over my head like the ultimate trump card. As he has said ó I gave no cards to play. He taunts me with it ďDamned if you do (leave), damned if you donít.Ē It is abhorrent. In any case, I endure the unendurable and struggle daily with rage and hatred, which were once so foreign to me. I have friends that hope he will die so I will be free (which is so awful I even feel sick writing that down). I donít know. I believe the cheaters here when they say they have losses. My husband has lost the respect of his (very religious) patents, colleagues who know (I contacted 3 because I only knew her kidsí names the first day when he was still lying), my familyís love and respect (my father told him he used to hold him in high regard but he now has no use for him, and that he wasnít good enough for me or any woman), heís lost nearly all of our mutual friends (those who know despise him) etc. Wven one of his only (and closest), oldest friends cut him off because he remembered the devastation his own fatherís cheating caused him. He told me it is painful that he has lost ďthe way you used to look at me. It was something. God, was it something.Ē He has lost my respect and adoration and he has lost his own self-respect. He has lost the happy, contented home, and has a wife who dreads coming home and goes on drives for hours at least a few times a week once the kids are in bed just so I can breathe. The US do have losses. They still, sadly, do not compare to ours. And the part of me that thirsts does justice resents that so much.

Snowyjune posted 6/24/2020 11:07 AM

no worries to the t/j all. These are all highly personal choices and traumatic events.


The idea of a WS making atonement or amends for betraying their spouse seems insulting.

To further an example used above, say a drunk driver killed your spouse and child and crippled you for life. They went to rehab, served time in jail for manslaughter, dedicated their life to charities against drunk driving. If they came to you in 5 yrs (or 10 or 20 yrs) and told you they made amends and earned your forgiveness and trust, would you say that you owed it to them?

This is the exact question my husband posts to me.
That it really doesn't matter how much amends were made, the damage is done.
I have felt love and connection with someone ELSE. I have willingly taken all my cards and went all in, with my BH's chips.
Doesn't matter how I feel now, because the betrayal stems from what I did.

I feel like he wants to forgive me, but the gulf of injustice is just too much.

I don't know how to remedy that.

I do apologise that this discussion is being circular. At the end of the day, there is no real right or wrong reasons to leave or stay, as it is very dependent on circumstance and threshold of tolerance.

Zugzwang posted 6/24/2020 11:51 AM

How does one get good at lying and living the lie?
Acceptance. Choice. Greed. Selfishness. Truth is you just don't care at the time. You want what you want and you can either outright make excuses to make you feel better...which BTW...you always know are excuses...or you just accept you are doing something wrong and you simply don't care. Personally, I banked on my wife's character. Cruel as it was. That is the simple honest to goodness truth. Disgusting as it was.

Nope. Not one fond memory. Just disgust and acceptance. Why would anyone have a fond memory of the worst time in their lives when they were the worst possible version of themselves?

gmc94 posted 6/24/2020 13:39 PM

I feel like he wants to forgive me, but the gulf of injustice is just too much.....I don't know how to remedy that.
IMO, you can't really"remedy" that - no one but the BS can do that work. You do what you can and hope that your BH can get to a place of forgiveness - and you hope that forgiveness comes with our w/o you (ie R or D) bc of the healing that comes to your BH from doing that work. IOW, the forgiveness is for HIM.

This reminds me of what we say about the A - ie that the BS is 'collateral damage' to the WS choices. I view this as the same concept but with a positive spin, ie that the WS reaps collateral rewards from the BS doing the healing work to get to forgiveness. It's still unjust AF. But there's not a damn thing any BS can do about that - our choices are to put in some serious work and try to heal, or to live a life of anger and resentment or disassociation, etc -none of which is healthy. I once did a post about this using the analogy of being shoved off a cliff into churning water. We are standing with our WS thinking we are safe, and the next thing we know we realize that our WS has pushed us off the cliff into a pond of dangerous water. We can either figure out how to swim to safety, or stay stuck in the hell of that water. On the other hand, the WS has the choice - to either stand up on that cliff and worry about how bad it looks down there, or jump the F in an figure out how to swim too. Also unjust AF, which is why I think it's sooooooooooo important for a BS to see/sense/believe that the WS is working their ass off and finding the courage to jump and deal with the hell that is that effing water. The hell the BS was put in by the WS choice to have an A.

I'm not a fan of Janis Spring's "After the Affair". But I LOVED her "How Can I Ever Forgive You" and recommend it to everyone - whether or not they have been impacted by infidelity. She distinguishes between "earned forgiveness", "acceptance" (done w/o the assistance/support of the offending party), and "cheap forgiveness" (what we'd call rugsweeping). Doesn't matter what labels we use, the concepts are fairly straitghtforward.

We can rugsweep and say someone is "forgiven" but the benefits are usually nil ("cheap" forgiveness). We can work hard on ourselves w/o the support of the offender (here, the WS) to process the hurt and come to accept it and let it go (which does provide the benefits of "forgiveness" ), or the offending party can actually atone, make amends, etc and "earn forgiveness" . How any particular BS goes about any of this is personal. They may - or may not - get to acceptance/forgiveness (using Spring's definitions), but I think that's the goal for many/most BS. It's not "for" the WS, but for the BS' own mental health.

And let's not forget that one can "forgive" someone for a harm, but that has nothing to do with forgetting that harm (which I really don't think is even possible - at least not in any healthy way - any more than one can forget being raped, or the death of their child, or any other significant and painful life event). And it does not mean the BS will choose to stay with the WS or even attempt R. One can forgive, reap those personal benefits, and still choose to permanently detach.

If they [former drunk driver] came to you in 5 yrs (or 10 or 20 yrs) and told you they made amends and earned your forgiveness and trust, would you say that you owed it to them?
Of course not. No one OWES forgiveness to anyone else. It's a purely personal decision. Very quickly after dday (if not on dday) I told my WH that I believed I would ultimately forgive him - not for him, but for ME. 2.5 years out, and using the Spring book as a guide, I realize that it's pretty unlikely he will ever "earn" my forgiveness - for the As AND for the pure hell he's put me through since dday. He has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of ambition and bandwidth to do that work. So, I work on Spring's "acceptance" to process and do what I can to lessen resentment, find empathy for him, etc.

[This message edited by gmc94 at 1:51 PM, June 24th, 2020 (Wednesday)]

crazyblindsided posted 6/24/2020 14:00 PM

So ultimately my point is who is the WS? Was their affair just a weak stupid moment and they snapped out of it or is it more about who they are as a person and how they view/value you and your marriage? The latter part should dictate whether you stay or not. I just feel I deserve so much more and being around him just makes me feel sad all the time.

This was my experience as well. My STBXWS still feels sorry for himself and paints himself as the victim. I had no idea the man he was until his A's and the aftermath. The aftermath is what truly gave me clarity of the situation I am in and who I married.

Stinger posted 6/24/2020 14:51 PM

A long term affair- seems to me they are showing you who they really are. Pulling this off for any decent amount of time with all the deception, gaslighting, lack of empathy- no non- disordered person can do this, IMO.

As a BS, think about it. Could you do this and live with yourself?

gmc94 posted 6/24/2020 15:25 PM

Have to admit I'm with Stinger on the LTA thing. It takes a special kind of broken to live a secret life for a long time. I can never view any of my WH's LTA as a 'weak/broken moment'. For me, it really IS about "who they are as a person and how they view/value you and your marriage". It's quite the mind fuck to realize that your spouse did not value honesty or his vows for decades.

However, I do believe it's possible to heal and even R after a LTA, IF (and there is no question that is a giant mother of an "if" ) the WS is ambitious and committed to fixing themselves - even tho they likely have additional layers or dimensions of shit to fix vs a shorter term (eg "weak/broken period" ) A.

[This message edited by gmc94 at 3:26 PM, June 24th, 2020 (Wednesday)]

humantrampoline posted 6/24/2020 16:36 PM


I feel like he wants to forgive me, but the gulf of injustice is just too much.

I don't know how to remedy that.

I do apologise that this discussion is being circular. At the end of the day, there is no real right or wrong reasons to leave or stay, as it is very dependent on circumstance and threshold of tolerance.

It's not circular. I'm sorry for what you're going through. I can't say I feel your pain because I'm not the WW or the drunk driver. I do have empathy though. Your empathy and pain comes across clear and sincere, and I'm sorry for what you're going through.

All I can say is that I felt broken (or maybe just fundamentally changed) whether I stayed or I left. And like gmc94 said, it was eventually up to me what I did with that. Still is, right? This has changed me. It has changed my view of my marriage and my view of my husband. It has changed my view of marriage in general.

If I'm honest, my marriage has benefitted from the collateral damage of this. Ugh. I don't like that, but it's true. It could have easily gone the other way though, regardless of my husband's change and growth.

There's a remarkable amount of self-reflection and empathy and other positive qualities on your post. I don't come on the boards here much because I'm not healed enough where it's healthy for me or anyone else here. I wish you the best and my PM is open.

Stinger posted 6/24/2020 20:14 PM

Why do you want to stay, Snowy? My impression is you do not care much for your husband. Not just the cheating, but all the resentment.

Snowyjune posted 6/25/2020 08:25 AM

I suppose that is the one of the many million dollar questions. Why do I want to stay..

As mentioned briefly in my other posts, I have lived a large part of my life being really selfish, because that was the only way I knew how to.

My parents' marriage broke apart in my adolescent years, and I witnessed shouting/ fighting matches, neighbors calling the cops thinking there were domestic disturbances, my mother coming back drunk, puking and wailing, my dad nowhere in sight, my siblings were away, so I really had to care of my mom when I was 14 and beyond. I acted out in school, stealing, got ostracized, bullied, and spent a large part of my time in school hiding in the toilet or being by myself. Had relatives who would call me up and scold me for ruining holidays and blame my mom etc.

I've never really thought of the repercussions of parental abandonment so I didn't take any time to heal from these issues. I just lived day to day, and just tried to be ok.

I moved in with my then bf (now BH) early, and his parents took me in. So that meant I didn't need to learn adulthood responsibilities, and I became an extension of my BH. He has always been a rock, taking care of me, and so I took it all for granted. He love me hard and unconditionally, and gave up many things to love me and be with me. He tolerated my shortcomings and I took more and I honestly didn't know how bad i was becoming.

I lived in my own brain and could never be vulnerable, did what I wanted to "live" as "life too short to be unhappy", I avoid conflict like a plague as I have seen the destruction first hand, but never learnt to have a proper discussion.
I craved to be accepted by everyone, became a people pleaser, afraid to stir the pot, and relied on being charming and pretty to get by, and believed that that was all I was.

The further I fell into this A-hole of entitlement, the more my BH got upset, and the more resentful I got for him trying to change me, to be more like himself.

My A was about me showing my BH that I could be happy with someone who was f-up like me, that all our issues could not be resolved so why bother (nor did I want to), I wanted to leave because I didn't want to prolong the pain like my parents did, that I should leave because I know my BH will be happier without me messing up his life even more. A whole lot of self justifications.

I was truly completely blind to everything and was literally just trying to love myself in all the wrong superficial ways.

However, early this year, there was a seismic shift in my views and thoughts, and the resentment and anger I felt dissipated when I saw my BH stand strong and brave amidst all that I have thrown at him. Despite being broken, he was still trying. I saw him try again and again, and it broke me. I finally understood what love meant and saw that I needed to change. I did love my BH, but I stopped loving him when I had my A, and now I am falling in love with him all over again.

I want to stay because I love his scent, his touch, his (fleeting) smiles, his integrity, his kindness even in anger. I want to heal my BH, make him smile and love him well. Unbelievably, I went from 100% resentment to none, and all those resentful thoughts have never once surfaced, because I know I deserve every single insult and angry hurtful comment thrown my way. I am actually glad to hear my BH tell me things (even in his rage), because that's also how I learn to be better, especially when I am quite inept in life.

I was truly broken in all ways, and now I want to be better for my BH, to give him all the honor and respect that I took away from him and more.

Hence I asked this initial question in despair, because I needed to see some light at the end of the tunnel, and I know in the back of my mind, my BH will make any other women happy. But it doesn't mean I will give up or stop trying to be better for my BH.

As many of the BS here have seen my journey here from Feb till now, I was classified as an un-R-able. I started wanting to love my BH but did it in all the wrong, I-still-want-to-control-the-narrative-ways, because I didn't dare to confront the big ugly truth, so it was pretty pointless. Conflict avoiding and rug sweeping were my ultimate skills.

But I have since learnt many things and many new ways to be better from the people here and through thinking about my BH's issues, and have clarity on how life and love is supposed to look and feel like.
I am finally seeing how fking awesome my BH is, but also living with the shame and guilt that I had to burn the estate down to be better, that it is too little too late.

But, every day is an chance to move the needle positively and I will not stop trying to show my BH that I can be better and take away some despair.

Stinger posted 6/25/2020 14:30 PM

Quite the epiphany. But, regardless, your BS calls the shots, and, I presume he is smart enough to know words mean nothing. He, also, has to deal with the aforementioned realization that he was Plan B, and that consequences and fear may be the basis of your new found motivation and alleged change of heart.
That is going to be challenging, to say the least.

hikingout posted 6/25/2020 14:49 PM

Snowy June- I feel you have shown a tremendous amount of growth since you have gotten here. We canít shame you for only having words here in a forum where thatís all there is. Your husband knows you well, and he will know what you are trying to show him with time and consistency.

These epiphanies are things you canít unsee. And you canít have them without having given it a great amount of dedication. If he decides not to R at some point down the line learning what you have will have a tremendous impact on your life and relationships moving forward.

Keep going, I see your progress.

Oldwounds posted 6/25/2020 15:36 PM

I feel like he wants to forgive me, but the gulf of injustice is just too much.

I don't know how to remedy that.

Snowyjune -- However life turns out, even if R gets to happen, the injustice is too much. It just is.

But it doesn't mean you can't rebuild the relationship.

I think my wife and I recognizing that there is no way to right this wrong -- was our first real step forward.

I was where your husband is. I wasn't sure love and care would be enough to repair the damage. Even if a BS wants R, we have to get to a point where we can separate the prior acts from who the person in front of us is trying to be right now.

It ain't easy.

You already have the key -- for a chance, a chance at success:

But it doesn't mean I will give up or stop trying to be better for my BH.

I don't know where you're at on your timeline, but even a year after my wife confessed her LTA, I still wasn't sure the the marriage could make another run, a healthier, stronger run.

That's when my wife doubled down on her efforts.

She read here at SI, read some books, and also found a webpage other than SI that gave her some advice that she uses to this day (over four years later) -- apology, affection and appreciation. It sounds weird because it should be automatic, but some of those elements can be held back if a WS is trapped in a shame spiral.

It isn't a formula, it's more of an attitude. It doesn't mean she apologizes everyday, just in those moments she finds I'm in pain. And sometimes affection is the last thing I want, but when I need it, I need it (not on demand either, but she checked in me on those times I withdrew) and the same with being truly appreciated.

It takes time for both partners to find their vulnerable self again.

A WS may not feel worthy of being vulnerable and a BS may never want to be vulnerable with anyone ever again. We see those examples here at SI everyday.

However difficult, if you're going to rebuild something worth both of you, it has to be the aim. No need to pretend about anything anymore.

Infidelity burns it all to the ground.

I just love what my wife and I have built from that wreckage.

It would have been easier to walk away, yet, well worth the work we've done to finally have something far more authentic that either of us imagined.

Stinger posted 6/25/2020 17:10 PM

I doubt walking away is "easier". There is tremendous loss and pain. Those that think staying is harder because they did it are in no position to make that assessment.

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