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More whys

MIgander posted 6/13/2020 12:34 PM

Anyone here deal with personal issues relating to self esteem/validation/jealousy of BS and their inner peace?

When I married my husband, I really married up. His family, while they have their own issues (distant/cold/relatively joyless MIL, enabling FIL), are by and large WAY more decent people than my family. (You can read my other posts about thatÖ) They, when my husband's grandma was dying of cancer, showed more love, compassion and support for one another, prayed together and really co-operated to make her death as loving and joyful and peaceful a send off as one could wish for in life. Afterward they rallied around their dad (who had alcoholism-WWII vet w/ PTSD- during their childhood- there are some FOO issues for my MIL to deal with thereÖ) to ensure he was not lonely or depressed, but loved and cared for.

Contrasting that with my family, as my dad died of cancer (around the same time), my mom's family did visit more, as did my Dad's, but there was nowhere near the peace, love and prayerfulness shown at his death. My mother laid upon my father's chest sobbing that he wasnít to leave her and she didn't want him to die, the very night he was dying. This was after a good 6/7 months of his decline. I resented her not being able to hold it together enough for us daughters (24/21yrs old at the time) to be able to grieve. Instead, she made it completely about herself and spiraled into gambling addiction and adolescent behavior (getting a tattoo while drunk with a co-worker) and jumping into a new relationship less than 1 year later(and sharing w/ her 22 yr old daughter about her 1st time w/ another man ). I was at home at the time and got to watch her and try and comfort her and try and help her hold it together while finishing my senior year at college (commuted to university in a challenging engineering program) and trying to launch my adult life without my dad for a mentor (he was an engineer too) or even a mother to console me. She really was like raising a teenager/ basket case in her grief. I suppressed my grief, swallowed my anger at her behavior and continued to play the role of emotional safety blanket to her through that time.

With that contrast in mind and the relatively unhappy childhood I had, I wanted to have something better for my family. My husband's family has a great sense of faith, strong extended family bonds with extended family all pretty much w/in 30min drive from each other. They do have the usual bickering- but everyone still talks and still helps each other out. My extended family is all out of state, aunts have cut each other out and talked for the first time in years only at my dad's funeral and haven't talked since -far as I know. I really am all alone aside from my sisters, who live near me. However, one is busy with 2 boys with special needs and the other has her own rocky marriage right now.

Take the lack of family resources, the lack of faith background and the glaring lack of marital relational modeling, coupled with the abuse from childhood and lack of "dowry," the only thing I really brought to the marriage was myself and my earning potential.

Only thing is, I really have no sense of my internal self worth- beyond the fact that I'm a human and thus can only expect general politeness from strangers as a fellow air-breather. The list of things I can genuinely say that I have as personal assets is relatively short. Let's see, I'm intelligent, energetic, attractive, hard working, not afraid of physical pain or doing work that is dirty and difficult and I guess I can understand others who are likewise flawed? Doesn't seem like much when you compare that to the list of qualities my husband possesses: hard working, dedicated, generous with his time- gives it to things benefiting the family, parish and school, good father, good cook, faithful to God and family, funny, attractive and sexy.

With these objective deficits (lack of family, moral training, money), I am clearly of lower value than my husband. I wasn't a good parent or a good partner. I didn't (and still don't to some extent) trust God's plan for my life (although that's getting better).

It's so hard being married to someone you know is in the important ways (faith and family) better than you. I thought if I just worked hard enough, or gave enough, that I could one day be worthy and approved and feel like I'm finally good enough to deserve his love for me. Then I would get resentful when he would cut me out. Why did he marry me, knowing my flaws and the huge burden of work it would take for me to meet his expectations? Why was I so rarely (and usually only when financing something) deserving of his affection? Why was I always the problem that needed fixing in our relationship? When was he ever going to look at himself and see a lack, a place that was in need of growth? When was he ever going to come to me for help in working through it? Why was I always the one who was wrong, who was broken and of less importance and value in the marriage.

I got angry, and I'm still angry. I'm angry that my family abused me, angry that God put me in a family who then abused me, angry I idolized my dad so many years after his death when he was a cheater too, angry my mother is a selfish narc, angry that I am patterning myself after them, angry that my husband can be and has been so cold and distant, angry that God has placed in me my ADD, depression and anxiety, angry that He has given me so many gifts yet so many challenges that I can't overcome. I'm just SO ANGRY.

I wanted a better life, I wanted to be a better (different) person than I am, I wanted to be loved for who I am and cherished by a man who chose me. I wanted to be cared for for once and not have to be the damaged one who was always having to work SO HARD to gain so little in terms of the validation, warmth and affection I was craving. I wanted to be able to rest in the arms of someone who liked me as I was and who I could be enough for. To be able to give what I had to give and have it be appreciated as enough to satisfy the other.

THIS is what I chose to have an affair for. So I could take a break from the utter up hill, back breaking climb I had turned my marriage into so I could gain validation from my husband and finally "make it" and be the good Catholic wife I thought I had to be to finally escape my FOO and to be a woman my husband could love and cherish. I was too wrapped up in my poor me and my sense of entitlement to affection and love I didn't deserve and was too prideful to admit to needing to do the work to receive it.

At the end of the day, my husband is human, but a far better human than I and I was jealous of his comfort with himself and who he is, his sense of integrity and value and worth in his family and to his God. I envied that and thought that if I could earn it from him, then I could feel it for myself. That if I was good enough for him, I would be good enough for God and good enough for me. I wrapped my whole sense of identity around his opinion of me and allowed it to rule my life. No wonder I have resentment issues. I made his affection and approval for me my golden calf. When that dried up after the post-partum depression and complete lack of parenting skills I had and my arguing and fighting him on the improvements he wanted me to make for the sake of our kids, I began looking for it elsewhere. By gaining more and more responsibilities and $$ at work, by making inappropriate emotionally bonded friendships with male co-workers and finally culminating in my affair.

So there's my whys and my anger. Thanks for reading.

hikingout posted 6/15/2020 09:19 AM

Hi Migander,

Very good introspection here.

I think understanding and tracing FOO can be very powerful because you can begin to dissect where some of your deepest shame originated from, and where you learned to survive brought forth how you learned to cope with life. As we look at those things and heal them, we release our need to keep those patterns, we can see that our reasons for them were not healthy. The more we invalidate what we learned the more space we have for new ways of handling.

I will commiserate in that I for certain married up. I don't think I would have had nearly the success or skills I do have if it weren't for him. His family is phenomenal. I still have to parent my mother, she doesn't have coping skills for the smallest things. I compensated for her anger, abuse, and ignorance in my childhood for not wanting to be anything like her. But, unfortunately, that meant I avoid conflict like the plague, I have an inability to really stay with any kind of anger, and I will excuse other peoples behaviors easily. My boundaries are skewed in that I only tend to naturally want to invoke them if I am defending someone else. Shame comes from growing up relatively poor, in a home that smelled of cigarette smoke, having been sexually abused, my moms emotional abuse and over controlling, over bearing nature. My mom went just to the ninth grade, my father the 12th though he did not graduate. My only sibling had severe anxiety and what I now believe is a personality disorder and she was violent as we were teenagers.

The only thing that saved me was the ability to assimilate, to mimic what other people did outside the home. I had some good friends and I stayed away from the house as often as I could. I moved out as soon as I could when I turned 18 but was underwhelmingly underprepared to deal with the responsibilities that came with it. I had a short lived marriage. And then dated and lived alone for some time. When I met my husband, he was older than me, more established, more confident, I can see that there was part of me that latched onto him to save me in some ways.

I am not saying I financially needed him, I had begun a career, and was finding my way in that regard. Just that he was a lot of what I was aspiring to be. I think for a long time I deferred to him on just about everything because I believed he knew best what we should do about things. I just set out to do everything to take care of him, and his children, and eventually our children together. I saw him as something shiny I needed to earn. That's not to say I didn't love him, I always did. But, to answer your question I always was trying to run as hard as I could to be his equal, to be deserving.

Eventually, I reached career heights that matched his, and even today we make similar money. Truth be told, I make slightly more. But I can plainly see that has nothing to do with my worth as a person or even as a spouse. I was surprised to learn that actually. And, I think it was why I was able to do it. If I didn't have him to chase I don't know if my motivation would have been the same.

When I had my affair it was the cumulation of all the shame that created perfectionism. I could never quite be vulnerable, I was always self protective. I could never really find myself speaking up against something because I wanted to be pleasing. I buried myself in job, taking care of him and the kids. When the kids were gone and we were supposed to slow down, we were speeding up as he started a new business. I was working around the clock the last year of our daughters high school. And, it was taking a toll. I really mean 15-18 hour days 7 days a week. I was not doing a great job at any of it. I was hearing my daughter tell me "I can't believe you forgot to do this", I was hearing my husband saying "Why can't you take care of that? I have asked you several times. I can't imagine what is more important than that". And, when I said I couldn't keep up the pace and was failing everyone, he said "If we can just get over this hump, we can hire someone and remember this is so we can do X,Y, Z". My own work was suffering as well.

But, you can only neglect yourself so much and it makes you start numbing everything. I didn't feel anger or rage, or happiness or joy. I felt flat, old, and exhausted. I wanted off the merry go round.

If I had that underlying self worth thing, I wouldn't have needed to be perfect. If I had self love I would have been able to stop and protect myself and my boundaries. I know I had a lot of resentment, but I was so numb that wasn't even facing the fact that underneath I was ready to get the fuck out of there. If I had acknowledged it, said it, I might could have just stopped it all and taken a breath. Instead I went for pure distraction. And, I do think in my lack of self awareness, it was a lot of what you are saying...I wanted to be seen, I wanted to be loved, not for what I could do or offer but just for me.

That's a depraved place to be to be looking for that in an affair. You aren't ever going to find that in an affair.

I don't have anger today towards my husband in any form. I didn't know I was boiling over, how would I expect him to know? I had expectations I wasn't stating, how would he know to meet them? He had our best interests towards goals we stated together we wanted. Even my smaller protests were never consistent enough to paint any sort of picture for him. He had no idea of my inner world, and anything that might have bubbled up probably seemed abrupt or like I was in a mood.

We never really fought. We honestly do have a lot of the same sensibilities and we are both easy going. But just beneath the surface I was letting myself rot because I didn't take responsibility for my own happiness. I didn't practice good boundaries, and I was always just hustling for love. I was blaming him for the hustle, which was all self created.

Getting to a place of self worth/self love is a journey. It does help make some of the boundaries less hard to maintain without weaponizing them. It does help you to understand self love is every bit of the verb that it is to love someone else. Recognizing the barriers to that, recognizing your own beliefs of inequality in the marriage - you can see a bit of how you acquiesce to him. I was always trying to be the "cool" wife and easy to love.

It's really hard too - when you have to stop those tendencies in a time where you also have to carry a bigger part of the load in helping them to heal, helping the marriage to heal. It really flies in the face of enforcing the not people pleasing, while in fact you really have a lot of amends to make. You just have to find the authentic way to make both balance at once. And, I am no authority on that, my legs are not all that less shaky than yours yet. But, I can recognize the patterns, and when things crop up make a conscious decision about them rather than just going with the automatic people pleasing mode. But there are always places that it still confusing to me.

I don't know if that helps, but I totally understand where you are coming from and getting honest about those things are very hard. Taking accountability looks like this, so I do congratulate you on that.

[This message edited by hikingout at 9:25 AM, June 15th (Monday)]

MIgander posted 6/15/2020 09:31 AM

Thanks HO, your understanding is more helpful than you can know.

Lucky77 posted 6/15/2020 09:51 AM

Hi Migander,

Just thought I send a big hug your way. There's so much to your story. Many levels, many layers. Just thought I'd take a second and send you a bit of positivity. Maybe go outside and feel a ray of sunshine on your face. Be thankful that you are alive and there's always opportunities for change and improvement.

As to:

When I married my husband, I really married up.

I call BS. He makes bad financial decisions, is not respectful of you, makes unfair demands on your attention, speaks poorly of your appearance, has the balls to drive a hot sports car when you struggle to pay kids tuition.

I don't know you. But as I read your threads what comes to me is a person who is keenly aware of their world around them and has some sense of fairness and judgement. You didn't pick your parents......you were dealt a tough hand. I wasn't able to get to the part about your A. Know that having a dad role model who was a rampant adulterer and a mom who extinguished cigarettes on your arm is rough. I'm not condoning your behavior, as who am I .......certainly no pillar of virtue.

As I look around, this first half of 2020 is so stressful in many ways. Having a shit storm brewing all around your personal life makes me want to both cut you some slack and throw a little life line.

survrus posted 6/15/2020 20:25 PM

Migander,

Thanks for posting in honesty like you have.

It's important for betrayed spouses to understand their wayward spouses perspectives.

I think to a degree my W and her sisters looked upon my family like that, they would even invite my Mom and Aunt to parties without getting my Ok.

Perhaps it wasn't that my family was ideal, but they keenly felt the flaws in their own family.

I think OM1 was more flawed, in my Ws view, and more like her family, so perhaps she felt it was a more natural relationship. One in which she didn't have to cover up as he was on her level.

I don't think this way about my W or her family but she does and it's important to understand this to understand her.

MrCleanSlate posted 6/16/2020 13:45 PM

MIganger,

I have sat on the fence on this topic for a few days.

I gave up on the Church back when my special needs son was not treated well (Long story, but it involves not getting Communion with the rest of his grade). Anyway, I see way too many people claim all sorts of pious and catholic virtues and do whatever. No, the church does not make you. You make the church. Your spouse does not define you either.

You brought yourself into the M. That is all that matters. Dowry and beliefs and family whatever - none of that matters.

Stand tall.

Your BH does not sound like a real upstanding H to me. He sounds kind of selfish. He sounds no different than any number of other people.

My sister is always on about how wonderful and great her life is. I doubt it. No, I know it isn't. The ones that talk a good game are usually covering up the most.

You are digging into your Whys. One thing I see is a realization that you are not less than.

Also, don't throw your hands up and think God dealt you a bad hand. That is a woe is me attitude. My family went through WW2. I have a list of 10 relatives that were killed at Auschwitz (Poles fighting against Nazis), My dad was forced labour. They carried on. Our issues are peanuts.

You have achieved everything you set out to do. YOU.

Self love is a hard thing to achieve. HO is right there.


MIgander posted 6/16/2020 14:28 PM

Thanks for the support Lucky and survurus. It's been a rough few days. I've been withdrawing and hubby has noticed and is panicking. I withdraw whenever I am upset and he can pick up on it.

I'm writing this to again, sort out the priority of our needs, what to address first and what to put up with for now for the sake of healing.

His hurt stems from not being listened to over the past year and having it be the "WW show" with my mental health problems and then my TT (I am ashamed to say the TT lasted a good 2 months, along with me being resistant to any of the changes- job and friendship related- that he needed to triage his immediate panic) and my anger and defensiveness. He has stood by and comforted me in my suicidal days, pushed me into IC and medication for my anxiety and depression, pushed for me to get the help I need, made sure I had support of a really good friend and my sisters, sheltered me by not outing me to our entire social group. I am incredibly grateful for these things, I really owe my life to him. He deserves a wife who is non-arguementative, grateful and compassionate. Currently, that is NOT me. Sigh.

We had a real expressive argument about the finances in the past and how unsafe they made me feel. Raised voices, but no name calling and no outright disrespect, but heated. He's made strides to take care of my needs to make the 3rd house a home, but "at the expense of his happiness" and still downplays the role he played in my anxiety- the "2nd house was never foreclosed on and we got the car back" being evidence I should trust him again with finances. Threw the affair back at me after I brought up that the finances should never have got to that point.

His point- that he didn't know about my past (and FOO issues) and that he wasn't doing anything like gambling or buying drugs (isn't a risky investment a gamble?), he shouldn't have the level of mistrust that I have given him. My complaining about everything and then not wanting to save when first married confused him- the goal posts were moving too often. I couldn't focus on what the deep down core of the problem was-

I didn't trust him to put the safety and well being of our family ahead of his own selfishness.

I told him I needed to hear not that "It was not a big deal since the investment worked out and we made money." And not, "We just have different tolerance of risks," but: "I'm so sorry for all the anxiety I caused you in my financial choices, it was selfish and I will stop."

He has started consulting me and respecting my wishes in regards to spending and finances, which is helping tremendously. The acknowledgement and acceptance from his side about the trauma from these issues is what I want resolved. But again, that's the "WW show." Sigh.

With my affair, I have said repeatedly, "I am sorry for the pain I caused you with my selfish choices, I'm sorry for the hole I have put you in with my affair, I'm sorry I thought it was ok to step out of the marriage to get my needs met." Those, coupled with my grudging action taken on the inappropriate (but platonic) male friendships and my job change (out of AP's circle completely, but not out of the company), make for a sorry case when compared with the amends I need to make to help him over this.

He claims he doesn't care about money, I said I do as a means and an end of caring for and protecting the ones I love. I pointed out that he has a much larger cushion to protect himself with when he makes financial mistakes and that I don't. He agreed, and stated that it likely contributed to my perspective on finances and the anxiety I had. He then apologized for the anxiety he caused with the finances, and then did what I do that drives HIM crazy- "I'm sorry, but..." Pointing out that they were done out of what he saw as our best interests. That the move to 2nd un-affordable house was because he was unhappy and had no friends in the neighborhood, but it was a good investment in the end. How he was happy in the 2nd house because of friends in the neighborhood, while I was miserable for lack of friends (SAHM in a working mom neighborhood) and all the financial stress and the fact that the yard was NOT nice and the house was not really anymore convenient to live in than the previous one (had a nicer master bath though?).

He wants his needs taken care of now, he wants it to be about him now. He is angry and rightfully so. The things he wants (expensive presents, me to change companies - already made an internal move off the AP's campus and now have no cross functionality with him, am in another department and another city while he is tied to his location for his work- plastic surgery for me, post nuptial agreement) tie into the same financial risk taking that he's demonstrated before and the same selfishness that put our family in financial danger before. I'm not against getting him a watch, one of the procedures he suggested, I think would actually be nice. It's just that we dont have the $$ to make it happen any time soon! My hands are tied- he has the trust fund to go and do it if he pleases, but for me, it's going to take a good 2.5 years to save for the watch at my current rate of savings.

I want to help my husband heal. I want to ease his pain. I want to show him the gratitude that I KNOW is there for him (as a partner in helping me get mentally healthy, helping me find God, helping me out of my FOO and into his much more loving one, for his excellent parenting, for his hard work and dedication to us in most everything he does). I WANT TO DO BETTER BY HIM. It's SO HARD when what he's asking me to do for him puts me right back where we were when I dissociated from him and pursued the affair. I don't want to go back there again, I don't want to despise him and despise myself for lying and going along with things that in my heart I know are not good for me or for us.

How do I stand firm, but show him love and compassion at the same time?? How do I come to terms with his needs for reconciliation and not feel threatened by them? Is what he's asking for even healthy? Not just from my perspective, but from his- are the things he's asking for (expensive gifts, surgery, me quitting my job right now when I've already moved campuses and changed positions to be completely out of AP's sphere of work), are they even what a BS in general needs to heal?

He wants a post nup now. I've said I will get one, but he needs to attend MC with me for 10 sessions first. He says I don't get to make demands, that the "WW show is over" and that it needs to be about him now.

Each time I demonstrate reality to him that his decision making was flawed,(God did provide for us in our extremity- by providing me with better and better paying WORK!, but He did give us LOTS of warning signs in the form of foreclosure notices, notices of tax auctions, shut offs of utilities and vehicle REPO!), he flips our discussions back to my affair. I apologize for my affair and the pain it caused him and take responsibility for my decisions. I've also taken responsibility for my enabling of his spending.

When I'm not feeling threatened or intimidated by his needs for reconciliation, I am grateful and loving. It's just so HARD getting to and staying in that place when I'm frequently reminded of his lack of remorse over his lack of care from our early marriage.

I DON'T want it to be this way. I WANT to be grateful and loving. HOW do I do this?????? I'm asking for MC before the prenup because he's going back to his pattern of needing expensive things (and the emotional feeling in his heart that he got something "just for him" at the sacrifice of something that I wanted instead- that's how he feels appreciation). I'm going back to my pattern of defensiveness and lack of trust and feeling rejected. He threw that back at me as "WW show" and I countered with, well, reality says that when someone is pursuing a post-nup that the marriage is unhappy and MC is called for too.

I tend to write novels... thanks for your patience!

hikingout posted 6/16/2020 16:10 PM

Wow, that's a lot.

First, let me address this:

He wants a post nup now. I've said I will get one, but he needs to attend MC with me for 10 sessions first

Have you ask him what terms he wants in the postnup? The only reason I ask is how do you even know if you would agree to it, and what does having to go to MC 10 times represent? I agree it needs done, but the terms on both sides seem a bit arbitrary. Ultimatums are not cooperation. They are not compromise, they are not creating win-win scenarios.

and the emotional feeling in his heart that he got something "just for him" at the sacrifice of something that I wanted instead- that's how he feels appreciation)

That's fucked up too though. I don't understand that way of thinking at all.

His point- that he didn't know about my past (and FOO issues) and that he wasn't doing anything like gambling or buying drugs (isn't a risky investment a gamble

Not necessarily. You mention later in the post that it did pay off.

I would say that to have it to do over again in life I probably would take every opportunity to make investments and not spend on frivolous things or a bigger home. But, it's easy for me to say when I am at the other end of seeing what that can do now. We did make some poor investments - actually he did at the beginning - and they were devastating- and I never felt angry with him because I did feel his intentions were always on taking care of me and the kids. But, when we approached it differently as a team we became very financially secure.

With that said, how do you feel about his intentions? And, how much accountability do you take that not speaking up was agreeing?

It seems like you want his compassion, but to get it I think you are going to have to give him yours. You are in an impasse because you can't trust him moving forward financially, and he can't trust you moving forward with his heart.

What have you done towards helping him heal? Have you read "How to help my spouse heal from infidelity" - It's a very quick read and very enlightening. I did see that you are starting to read BS stories to understand the damage you have done. I don't think you have gotten to remorse yet. How much have you asked him about how he feels? Are you crowding out those conversations with all these things from the past? Could you be avoiding facing his trauma by making your problems seem bigger or more important than his?

Have you suggested that it would be helpful if you could get the same vision towards the future, and work out a plan financially? I honestly do not think that you will be able to move forward unless this happens and that the two of you stay on the same page.

Here is the problem - those things existed throughout the marriage. You enabled them, you stayed despite them, you made no stand on them. They are valid, yes. But, you had a choice in most of it. He did not have any choice in your infidelity. Financial security is only one type of security. Infidelity touches on most all the types of security. It's a trauma.

Do you feel there is any part of you that keeps deflecting away from taking your accountability in the state of your marriage pre-A, and then your accountability now? Like this statement, really takes things in the weeds:

That the move to 2nd un-affordable house was because he was unhappy and had no friends in the neighborhood, but it was a good investment in the end. How he was happy in the 2nd house because of friends in the neighborhood, while I was miserable for lack of friends (SAHM in a working mom neighborhood) and all the financial stress and the fact that the yard was NOT nice and the house was not really anymore convenient to live in than the previous one (had a nicer master bath though?).

How on earth is that important? Your life is in a dumpster fire and you are going back to fight about why you guys bought the last house you lived in and why one of you guys liked it and the other didn't and how the bathroom was nicer? This sort of fighting over the woulda, coulda, shoulda is only going to put you guys at further odds with each other. Either you are going to unify your approach and come at this as a team or you are going to go down punching and kicking at who had what worse. Drop some of the past and start talking about the future - how you guys are going to make decisions moving forward, what the plan looks like, how you can keep each other accountable. Honestly, I do hope that you guys do get marriage counseling, we can give you some insight, but you guys need some coaching and communication skills that can help you cope with this.

I understand the pertinent subject matter - you want to feel financial security, he would like to feel marital security, love, and happiness. You both want what you want. That's been the problem all along, no?

It sounds like you could benefit to do some research on managing conflict. Dr. Gottman has some really good things out there on how to resolve conflict while communicating effectively. Remember, you are trying to create win-win scenarios, not go down with the ship trying to figure out who was more wrong.

The things he wants (expensive presents, me to change companies - already made an internal move off the AP's campus and now have no cross functionality with him, am in another department and another city while he is tied to his location for his work- plastic surgery for me, post nuptial agreement)

Okay, here is the thing, how is a watch going to make him feel better about the infidelity? It's not. You guys owe thousands of dollars to the IRS, you can't even get rid of that with bankruptcy. In the end, I can understand him saying he doesn't care about money - because this is your marriage going under for the last time. But, I can see how he is not really being realistic and how that could be maddening. I

The fact he is making one of the stipulations that you have plastic surgery, kind of makes me throw my hands in the air. Are you saying he is saying to stay you have to surgically alter yourself? Like this is one of the few stipulations he is coming up with? This and a watch is not going to make him feel better about you, or make you feel better about him.

I would sit and discuss the postnup in terms of what he is thinking it would contain, if you do not know what that is. That is a standard thing a lot of people consider post infidelity. I have read here most of them are not applicable in all states, and hard to hold up in the courts systems so he might have gotten the suggestion and it may not even be feasible (or advisable) due to the amount of money it's going to take to even get one to only settle who gets what debt. My understanding (though limited to what I have read on this site) is they are expensive to create.

It might be better to say, if we were going to get divorced tomorrow, what would that look like? We actually almost divorced at one point and we went through that. It sounds like to me there is nothing for either of you to walk away with other than a heaping pile of debt. That's why I wouldn't just have a flash reaction to that part. I would sit down and say who gets what, what would custody look like, etc. The reality of it is, if there is only a pile of debt to split up, then what on earth is he getting from a postnup?

It's hard to prioritize, because your finances and your marriage are both on fire. The finances really only take a plan and some subsequent communication. The marriage part, I think that's going to take much, much more effort. If you want the marriage, you are going to have to push for you guys to have a budget and have more constructive conversations about how you can stick to it and let the blaming, raging die so you can triage the bigger, worse wounds. You are going to need to get to the softer parts.

You can't find your gratitude or compassion because you are ANGRY. This has to be dissolved and moved to logic. You are in this together because you decided most of this together. Even if you did so to make him happy, you decided it too. You aren't taking accountability for that and you are blaming him only.

You are going to really need to get clear about whether you want this marriage or not. Are you staying because the financial picture is then going to be even worse? Is it the kids? I don't even get the sense you like your husband, much less love him...but that you are trying to force those feelings for some other reason.

I have to say, joy is something that can exist in all circumstances. There is a lot that Pema Chadron teaches about this when things are really hard. (She has several great books to choose from) We really need very little to make us happy. It sounds like both of you need to really assess ways that you can be responsible for your own happiness that do not include needing to spend a lot of money or having affairs with other people. You can't make him happy. He can't make you happy. But, if you learn to make yourselves happy and work on the relationship together, you might have a chance. But, neither of you have a clear view of what makes you happy and are throwing out demands on each other that are not likely going to make you any happier.

I get the sense you are in a huge power struggle, that you both have selfish tendencies in some form or another, both lack accountability for their actions, and both lack a vision of what a healthy relationship would look like to you both. That's a huge struggle uphill, a huge undertaking that you are going to have to find a way to get on the same team about. But, there are patterns here that could be combatted, even if it's only your next partners and your coparenting relationship that will benefit from them.


[This message edited by hikingout at 4:24 PM, June 16th (Tuesday)]

MIgander posted 6/17/2020 11:22 AM

Thanks HO for your perspective. I really have been complaining about "wallpaper colors while the house is burning down" as I told my husband.

We're both selfish, me more than him in some ways.

What have you done towards helping him heal? Have you read "How to help my spouse heal from infidelity" - It's a very quick read and very enlightening. I did see that you are starting to read BS stories to understand the damage you have done. I don't think you have gotten to remorse yet. How much have you asked him about how he feels? Are you crowding out those conversations with all these things from the past? Could you be avoiding facing his trauma by making your problems seem bigger or more important than his?

This is the crux of it. I was avoiding the harder conversations on my infidelity by turning the conversation back to poor choices made earlier in the marriage by both of us (him explicitly, me implicitly- by not doing more than saying, "I'd rather not" to him on the riskier decisions we made).

I have control issues (as you rightly pointed out), and coupled with my own sense of inferiority compared to him, made me think I had to agree to everything he wanted. Right now, I'm scared of going along with whatever he asks, since, doing that in our early marriage lead to a lot of mental anguish on my part that I'm not willing to go back to on my end.

He's stated that he needs to hear from me, "I'll do WHATEVER it takes to fix this marriage" for him to feel remorse from my end. I have difficulty in saying that when me doing whatever it took to make him happy (or for me to feel that he was pleased with me) meant doing things that were unhealthy to me (lying to family members, endangering the safety and well-being of those in our home w/ foreclosure and shutoffs). I cannot say that I will do what ever he wants to fix the marriage, as doing that lead me to so much resentment on my end. I don't want to lie to him about that anymore or give him a false and sunny, "whatever you want babe" that I used to do. I don't want to start the dynamic of me feeling unsafe again and then going on and complaining and complaining and complaining. Instead, I'm trying to nip it in the bud by saying, "That's not going to work for me."

Thing is, he feels out of control and needs to feel a sense of agency in order for him to feel safe in our marriage again. I REALLY don't know what that looks like in a healthy relationship.

I have read "How to Help Your Spouse Heal" and am working through "Not Just Friends" right now. We're starting work on our timeline of our marriage, actually. I've been in IC, been in psychiatry to figure out medications for my anxiety, depression and ADD (maybe need to up my focus med??), so have started getting the mental health aspect under control. Cut off relationships with male friends that were more close emotionally than my husband and I were, have given him open access to all my accounts and have been getting his input on all other areas of our life (not buying things w/o his consent, discussing purchases of any sort, okaying any social interactions outside the house, that sort of thing).

While all of that was well and good, I didn't do it right away. It took me a good 2-3 months to get my head out of my ass and start doing anything willingly for him. He had to push me into everything. Doesn't help that I wasn't fully honest about the affair until about 2.5 months in- to the extent of the physical involvement. I also didn't get the two main books recommended here until this past February. He pushed me into IC and pushed me to get on medication and pushed me through my suicidal attempts/thoughts. He has done so much for me and I'm still holding back out of fear of him.

Even now I'm scared of what he will ask of me. If I'm not able to give it, then I worry that on his end we're done. He's already asked for some difficult and destructive stuff (me to make an HR complaint, possibly file a lawsuit against my company, quit my job, surgery, expensive gifts...). He's also made comments in his anger about "consequences" of the affair in conjunction with those requests. So yeah, anger comes from the fear of it and lack of trust I have towards him.

How do you take accountability for your own actions beyond acknowledging the mistakes you made and doing your best not to repeat them in the future?

hikingout posted 6/17/2020 13:07 PM

Thank you for taking me in. I thought I might have been a bit rough on you, even though I do identify with a lot that you are saying.

I have difficulty in saying that when me doing whatever it took to make him happy (or for me to feel that he was pleased with me) meant doing things that were unhealthy to me (lying to family members, endangering the safety and well-being of those in our home w/ foreclosure and shutoffs). I cannot say that I will do what ever he wants to fix the marriage, as doing that lead me to so much resentment on my end. I don't want to lie to him about that anymore or give him a false and sunny, "whatever you want babe" that I used to do. I don't want to start the dynamic of me feeling unsafe again and then going on and complaining and complaining and complaining. Instead, I'm trying to nip it in the bud by saying, "That's not going to work for me."


This is fair. And, honestly, the predicament you guys are in shows that doesn't work well for either of you. I think what I keep harping on with a plan makes you not have to keep going back to that - because you have sat down and agreed together to get out of the precarious financial situation you are in. You will then not be placed in saying no over every single thing.

The reason I know that works is that is something I had to implement. I had the same issues with feeling inferior as I shared on the other thread. Add in there he is 10 years older than me there was always this feeling of him being "and adultier adult" ;-) But, once we set goals together, I will say "Our goal is X, if we make this purchase, this will cause Y" I don't shut down the discussion with it, I actually encourage the discussion so that we can debate if the purchase is worth putting off one of the goals we had together. Now, I can trust my husband to have that conversation, and he does not feel like I am telling him no or putting my foot down. He will sometimes say "Okay, I am not going to do that right now but I may come back and want to have this discussion again later". I used to get frustrated when he said that, but I know if we have that discussion later we still will have the same goals to point at and we can tamper some of his emotional/instant gratification spending with the long term goal that I know he is equally attached to. There is no power struggle when it's approached that way, which is good because power struggle equals one of us having to parent the other and I think that always goes down hill fast.

Thing is, he feels out of control and needs to feel a sense of agency in order for him to feel safe in our marriage again. I REALLY don't know what that looks like in a healthy relationship.

Yes, and I think if you could find ways to mitigate the power struggle that might help. I honestly don't get the sense HE knows what that means either. I think until you get to the point you are addressing his needs as a Betrayed Spouse he is likely to keep grasping at straws and making arbritary demands about watches and plastic surgery and all sorts of things that isn't going to help him to feel better. HE doesn't know what will make his pain go away.

I read something I wish I had saved by a Betrayed man here named Holdingtogether. He said that as long as his wife kept looking to "fix him" from what she broke, it infuriated him more. Someone broken can't fix someone else that's broken. He quoted something BraveSirRobin said "I learned my husband didn't want me to help him get off the floor. He needed me to get in the floor with him". And that was very powerful to me. We don't have to have the answers, we have to develop them together with our spouse. One of us is not above the other.

To create a new marriage, we have an opportunity to decide what we want that to look like, then you can figure out how to get there. And just like the financial goals, you can sit down and describe what you want the marriage to look like. That can include love languages: your sex life, roles you play in the household, quality time, things you can dream that you could do together, etc.

H and I learned what we like to do together again by trying new things together. You can't spend all your time fighting, you do need to have couple bonding where you can just be the two of you for the day as well. Get to know each other again. Work on your picture, both of you color that together.

While all of that was well and good, I didn't do it right away. It took me a good 2-3 months to get my head out of my ass and start doing anything willingly for him. He had to push me into everything. Doesn't help that I wasn't fully honest about the affair until about 2.5 months in- to the extent of the physical involvement. I also didn't get the two main books recommended here until this past February. He pushed me into IC and pushed me to get on medication and pushed me through my suicidal attempts/thoughts. He has done so much for me and I'm still holding back out of fear of him.
Even now I'm scared of what he will ask of me. If I'm not able to give it, then I worry that on his end we're done. He's already asked for some difficult and destructive stuff (me to make an HR complaint, possibly file a lawsuit against my company, quit my job, surgery, expensive gifts...). He's also made comments in his anger about "consequences" of the affair in conjunction with those requests. So yeah, anger comes from the fear of it and lack of trust I have towards him.

Try and take him in when he is talking to you about these things. Don't be afraid, just wallow around with him in it. Honestly, you don't have anything else to lose. Listen to him, ask him questions, don't be defensive, put yourself in his shoes.

He may suggest a lot of things out of emotion, anger, and not knowing what he wants. When he's talking about things it's a way to bring it into the light. He is bound up in his head so far by not being stifled from that that he needs to be able to sort things through.

Bring it up to him too. The more you are there for him and the more you care about how you made him feel rather than fearing it, the more he will be able to heal. But stifling it is making it worse, and making some of the things he is saying sound irrational. In the end, you can still choose, but don't start each request with your decision about it. Just listen, ask questions, try and understand. Then, you can express some things you are thinking. "I want you to have that watch, and I don't mind sacficing something I want for it. But, I feel like if we don't get a good plan together so we can be rid of our financial problems we are both going to have a hard time being happy. How about I write you a book of coupons. These coupons will be other acts of service where I plan dates, (insert other ideas here) and the last one will be for that watch. As soon as we hit some milestones on our financial goals, we will get you that watch before we do anything else. I won't have the same option at the end".

Compromise means that you have to listen to him and hear him out and find some creative ways to show him you are all in and want to help these things happen, but it still allows you to maintain your boundaries.

How do you take accountability for your own actions beyond acknowledging the mistakes you made and doing your best not to repeat them in the future?

Accountability to me is what goes past an apology. It means changing your behavior, and being responsible for your part of anything you are part of. I do believe you want that, and have taken some steps to get there. But, you have to stop "right" fighting. Meaning who is right, or who has been wronged more. When your husband is talking to you about the infidelity, stay with him. Choose to talk about your financial issues at different time. Ask him if he would be willing to do the same.

I do think if you can get marriage counseling they will give you great tools on how to stay with one another as you are working on things. And, I can't reccomend Dr. Gottman enough on the conflict stuff. I think you could really benefit from it.

You are only once piece of this though, you can not control how he responds, but I think when he is calm it sounds like he gets reasonable. Just expect any BS will not be feeling reasonable when things are not calm or when they are fighting to be heard.

MIgander posted 6/17/2020 13:40 PM

Thanks HO, it's good to have someone further along in life and process help me sort out my head.

I remember that quote about "fixing" the BS and BSR's one about getting on the floor and holding them in their pain.

Hubby wants me to "fix" and to "heal" him, and was hurt when I didn't know how. Sigh. Looks like you're right in stating I need to stop fighting the "who's right about what" fight and just be non-defensive and openly ask him what he wants, why he wants it and what he hopes to have from it.

I think we can figure it out. That's why I made my useless ultimatum over MC. We neither of us know what to do or how to go about it. I was hoping to find someone who can really give us some homework and be a "personal trainer" on these kinds of things- make us accountable for the work. He's still too hurt to know whether there's an M worth doing counseling for.

I really do like and love my BH, we've been cooped up here in the house too much with too little fun to remember why we enjoy each other's company. I'm working on fixing that.

hikingout posted 6/17/2020 13:52 PM

I really do like and love my BH, we've been cooped up here in the house too much with too little fun to remember why we enjoy each other's company. I'm working on fixing that.

((HUGS))

I am sorry if me saying that was hurtful. I was trying to hold a mirror up to help you realize how it was sounding. I am hopeful for you Migander. Keep talking.

Stinger posted 6/17/2020 15:05 PM

This is why when I hear that the affair had nothing to do with the BS, I balk. This seems like a classic scenario where the cheating spouse is angry and resentful toward the BS and decides to give some payback.

I know for me, and many other BS, there were FOO issues at least as challenging as yours, if not more so.

My dad was an abusive alcoholic. I was sexually abused repeatedly by an older teenager when I was 11. My Xw is a narcissist if ever there was one.

You had myriad option other than to cheat to deal with your issues. It seems to me that if you are honest, a big reason you cheated( other than the ubiquitous it felt good, sex is pleasurable etc.) was to send your husband a nice,big FU.

Seems pretty simple. Affair is fun and pleasurable; you are pissed as hell at your husband( and yourself for your role in the financial issues. But, projecting is more palatable. ) Adds up to cheating to exact a measure of punishment.

There is a reason you cheated when others who have had it as bad or worse did not. It has to do with character and morality. You need to change if you can and you should accept th hat you were every bit as responsible for the financial issues.

Thissucks5678 posted 6/17/2020 16:37 PM

I just want to say that Iím a BS who is 4 years from dday and I am very much at peace at this point in my life and I have a tendency to ramble so just try to bear with me.

If I were in your shoes, I would re-read How to Help Your Spouse. My WH had to read it at least 3 times. He would get defensive and just couldnít understand how I was triggered by anything and everything. Everytime he read the book, we were further and further from dday and he would understand things more. It was really helpful.

Also, I was a bit like your husband. I didnít know what I wanted - but I wanted something damn it to make the pain stop. I wanted grand gestures, I wanted a divorce that no one knew about, I wanted him to get a tattoo of my name, a vasectomy, so many different things. He had broken me - the least he could do was feel some pain on my behalf. I wanted him to hate the COW, then I wanted indifference, I wanted to tell the world, then I was embarrassed. I loved him but I despised him. I felt stuck in the worst situation and I hated him more than anything for putting me in that situation. It was horrific. The flashes of seeing him with the COW, I would go try and sleep and thatís all I could see. Iím not telling you this to make you feel bad, I just want you to get an idea of what he could be going through. My WH barely blamed for his affair either. He mentioned a few things, like I didnít greet him at the door when he got home from work, and he had to pick up toys, but thatís really it.

Now, in your case, by repeatedly bringing up the finances, it seems you are essentially blaming him for your affair. It does sound that you are very resentful and I understand that completely. However, you had other options. You could have said no to his choices. You could have sought out a financial planner, marriage counselor or even a divorce. Instead, by choosing the route you took, you made things a lot worse. Once you have truly owned that, I believe things may change.

The more remorseful my WH got, the less angry I became and the more focused I became on healing myself and stopped worrying so much on punishing my WH. It takes a lot of time though to get to that point.

Right now, just try and be there for him. You are allowed to draw boundaries for yourself (surgery, watches you canít afford, etc), it is so important that a WS, learn to do that if that was a problem in the past. I personally am thrilled now when my WH brings up a potential conflict because it shows he is growing. You would just need to be as empathetic and compassionate about it as you can. Iíve rambled on a bit too much, but good luck to you.

Carissima posted 6/17/2020 19:40 PM

Ok this is my point of view as a BW.
The more you post the less remorseful you sound, hell the less you regretful you sound. In fact I'm kinda with Stinger in that the amount of anger and resentment you have towards your BH makes it seem like the affair was a big FU, something to get back at him, but it didn't work completely because those feelings are obviously still there.
Your husband's right, you have to deal with the affair before you deal with any pre-existing marital problems. It's standard advice on here. If you were in danger of being evicted or starving or any other life threatening occurrence then obviously you would deal with that but other than that you deal with the affair first.
You seen to think telling your BH you're sorry for a few weeks is enough and now it's time to concentrate on your insecurities. That's not the way it works but I thought your BH had already agreed to see a financial advisor with you. Quite frankly I'm sure they'll be able to work out a doable sustainable budget for you given what you've told us about both your incomes.
I don't think either of you are ready for MC yet, more IC definitely.
As for the conditions, prenups are something that are often recommended for BS, I would see what he's asking for and take it from there. The surgery would be a hard no, I would not have plastic surgery because someone else wanted me to, unless it was something I actually wanted for myself. I would never do it if I couldn't afford it.
BTW, you've just posted about not being able to keep any of your pay cheque so how is you BH expecting you to pay for the surgeries and watch?

Thanksgiving2016 posted 6/17/2020 22:35 PM

Sounds like a bit of a pity party. When your father died your mother lost her life partner. Yeah maybe she went a little crazy. It wasnít about you. You were an adult. You also could have reached out to her in that moment. You werenít a child. Yeah it sucks she didnít handle it better but we donít choose how we handle grief.

MIgander posted 6/18/2020 20:37 PM

Really busy day catching up with work, but now kids are sleeping and have a chance to take in what you guys said.

Hi ThisSucks, thanks for the input:

If I were in your shoes, I would re-read How to Help Your Spouse. My WH had to read it at least 3 times. He would get defensive

I will take your advice and re-read it. Maybe go slower this time and journal on it bit by bit too. I've been WAY too defensive to help my husband.

As for your other points about owning up my responsibility in our situation, I agree, that's been the hardest part for me to piece together. Between the vulnerability of not having income (when I was SAHM and we were broke on the 2nd home), my post partum depression and lack of skills in stating boundaries and sticking to them, I did nothing productive with my disagreement and anger. I'm working in IC to see that back then, I really did (and do) have agency in the marriage. That if I really laid it on the line in a non-nagging/complaining/raging way and calmly stated, "we are going to x or I am getting a D (or whatever it was that the consequence was)" I could have also believed in myself more and understood more that if I had a "deal breaker" that I would have been fine without hubby. I could have seen that he would have come along in time if in reality what was needed to be done would have had positive consequences. (IE: I'm calling a financial planner before we build house #3 so we can really understand what we can afford before talking to the over-indulgent mortgage bankers...) That's what my counselor is trying to get me to see, that catastrophic thinking and fear of abandonment and rejection are what's holding me back from the changes that need to be made in my life to make it livable by me, NOT my husbands own inclinations and actions. To base decisions and limitations that take into account the reality of the situation (circumstances) and my own emotional and mental limitations (ie: it's ok to have limits and it's very important to know what those are and to respect them. Otherwise, consequences from ignoring them are anger, depression and anxiety.)

I thought that I had to put down my own limitations of the level of stress I was willing to put up with, put down my own personal preferences and be a doormat to him, disappear myself in the relationship in order to make him happy in the marriage. He never requested me to do this. I did it of my own accord out of my own fears.

In the end, I can't control him any more than he can control me. I can't force him to take care of things any more than I can force him to take the blame. I'm learning to "fill up my own cup" as others have posted here about self-love and trying to not make him into this omnipotent parental figure with all the responsibility.

So, what does that look like in reality? In concrete examples? I'm still trying to figure that out...

Stinger, your line,

You had myriad option other than to cheat to deal with your issues. It seems to me that if you are honest, a big reason you cheated( other than the ubiquitous it felt good, sex is pleasurable etc.) was to send your husband a nice,big FU.

-hit the nail on the head.

I was so down that path of making everything about husband (from my worth depending on his approval to all the decisions made as a couple hinging on him), I completely forgot my own agency and ability to enact change myself. I forgot the MLK line of "being the change you want to see in the world" (or is that Ghandi??? I really can't remember off hand ). It was easier for me to take the cowards way out of stabbing him in the back when he was least expecting it, instead of being up front and forthright with what needed to change in our marriage. I'm working to change that by calmly and firmly stating things when it comes time to decide instead of raging or lying and pretending, "whatever you want honey."

Carissima, you're right- a few weeks of "I'm sorry" doesn't look so sorry. As far as financial consultant, hubby agreed early on and then backed out as he wants to feel that there's a mutual financial relationship to work on (in a marital context) before he's willing to fix anything from the financial point of view. To that point about the finances, I've changed my attitude from one of needing to control everything (to stave off the dire consequences) to understanding that I can only give what I have to give. My 100% is maybe about 20% of what he can do(when you include his family money), but I'm learning to let go of having to be his equal in $$ to have an equal say in what's going on. This is the crux of my early lack of empowerment and the root of my resentment towards H from our early marriage. I'm trying to root myself in the reality that if husband really loved me, if what I was doing was rooted in reality, he would either come along with it (positive consequence), leave me (and who is going to want to stay with an incompatible spouse anyhow?) or I would do nothing and have to learn to live with the consequences of that (which is what I did- nothing after the first lame attempt at saying no). The biggest problem with the 3rd option (the cowardly one) is that I didn't have the integrity to live peacefully with the decision I made (by making no decision).

I can only do everything I can (and spend all my check on the bills I can pay). The rest is up to him. At the end of the day, I can only do what I can do and he can either accept that and dig deeper into his own pockets to make ends meet, or not. Then if we do lose everything (MATERIALLY) I will at least know I've done all I can do in that area. Hopefully I will turn this into emotional reality too- that I am doing all that I truly can to help him through this (which I really am NOT doing with my anger).

Some days I have the emotional bandwidth to repeat that mantra, of doing all I can do and letting go of the rest. Other days I forget about my own capacity for change in our relationship and go into a place of rage and PANIC instead. It's a skill I'm still working on- letting go and not panicking. And then raging to husband for the state of fear, vulnerability and panic I allowed myself to be in in the first place.

I'm really fun at parties. Sigh.


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