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What am I supposed to do?

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TheFallen posted 7/1/2020 20:38 PM

This is of course a really stupid question. In fact, if I ask my wife this, she would laugh in my face and tell me to figure it out.

Sometimes I feel so lost with what to say or do. Mostly do. I have used my words so much to manipulate that they can't be trusted anymore. I've also KNOW all of the things I'm supposed to do. But I fall back into old habits again and again. Even if I don't relapse, I end up acting like a jerk.

My wife wants me to come up with things, as she should, in order to start getting us back on track. But I just freeze up. It's like everything I know just goes out the window. I mean, just the other day for example, we were hanging our laundry to dry and she made a comment about one of my shirts. It wasn't mean or anything like that, but I immediately got defensive. And I'm not angry with her. I'm not being resentful. I feel mostly upset with myself. I guess I feel like I'm failing her as a husband. And I know that self-pity is only going to make things worse. I try my best to get out of my head when that comes around.

I guess my real question is, when she needs me to do something different or do something to show I care, in the moment, what am I supposed to do? I can't converse with her very much anymore about the relationship, because I've made so many empty promises and told so many lies that she won't even humor my talk for a second. Again, rightfully so. But I want to make this right. I really, really do.

She wants romance. She wants to feel desired. She wants to know I'll always be there. She makes all of her needs very clear. But I just keep dropping the ball. I know I'm not an idiot. I know that I have the mental capacity to understand what is needed and just DO it.

Any advice, comments, or harsh realities are welcome.

jb3199 posted 7/1/2020 23:00 PM

If I was to take a guess, I'd bet that don't.....and never really believed.....that your wife would ever leave you. Even if those beliefs are stuffed way down inside, you still feel it to be true.

You will never get to a place of vulnerability while you continue to believe this.

Timeforhelp posted 7/2/2020 05:22 AM


I don’t know your story, but here’s what I can tell you from my experience as a BS.

When my WS finally pulled his head out of his arse for long enough to ask what I needed I explained it to him in this way.....

I need to feel that you are putting in the same if not more effort into making me feel special, desired, wanted as you did for the numerous OW. (My WS refers to this as 110%). This will be difficult for you though as I have learnt that OW have much lower standards of expectations for what makes them feel ‘special’. I assume some of this is because of the ‘excitement’ an affair provides, the rest because they feel/think they are winning by “getting one over on another woman”.

The 110% does not include anything that can remotely be deemed as ‘normal husband’ behaviour- you should be doing that anyway. (For example washing up or laundry).

If you are like my WS, you took time out of the marriage in order to facilitate your affair, my WS would leave for work early and come home late so he could make up for any and all time he was slacking at work dicking around with the OW.

This time (and effort) needs to be repaid, work can no longer be an excuse for him to be absent from the marriage and certainly cannot be a priority over me due to triggers.

I also expect him to sacrifice things he enjoys to take time either to work on himself, the marriage or spend time with me. I spent 20 years sacrificing so he could be happy and was repaid with disrespect, abuse and his womanising.

I have found that it is the smaller gestures I remember and appreciate more, those little things that remind me he is thinking of me. That he is no longer putting his needs before mine or ours. The curse of WS compartmentalisation seems to be out of sight out of mind. This has to be addressed.

I hope this helps

secondtime posted 7/2/2020 07:53 AM

I didn't look up your history.

But, I think in order to get unfrozen, you need to do the work on yourself. Vulnerability, empathy, giving up the selfishness.

BTW, my husband is the same way. He freezes and can't figure out a way to comfort me on his own. To demonstrate that I'm actually the most important thing to him. I've come to the conclusion that he's just not capable of such things..But, on the flip side, I also have stopped asking my husband to figure it out, because he's just not capable.

We went to the pool last night. I made the reservations over the weekend. Over the weekend, I reminded him."You know, I'm going to be triggering at the pool. You need to be attentive to me."

And then of course, we got to the pool, I triggered..and he asked how I was doing and asked me, "how come you aren't doing well." I had to remind him it was because of his choices I'm triggering, and then he was like "Oh yeah, I'm supposed to be extra attentive."

And, to that end, he was. I'm not sure if his actions were actually sincere or not. But, at least he didn't stare at me, slack-jawed like he did in the past when I was having panic attacks because I was triggering.

[This message edited by secondtime at 7:54 AM, July 2nd (Thursday)]

TheFallen posted 7/2/2020 11:04 AM

Thank you for the responses. It’s great to have some BS points of view. Sometimes I do really well in being there for my wife. But other times...not so much. And this constant cycle of me doing work and then not doing work is just so stressful for her. Sometimes it just takes so much effort for me to just do basic husband things. Then I look at the reality that on top of doing basic relationship tasks, there’s also the issue of the repair work that’s required. I don’t even know where to BEGIN with doing work to repair our relationship. Or I do? I know right now she craves safety. But she can’t trust me, and I don’t blame her for it. I just don’t want to see her cry anymore.

Stinger posted 7/2/2020 11:11 AM

First step: get evaluated for a Personality Disorder. Many cheaters have one and they are fairly intractable.

Chili posted 7/2/2020 11:43 AM


Are you perhaps trapping yourself in the ugly defensive mechanism of "if I do nothing, then I won't risk doing anything 'wrong?'"

Here's some other thoughts that like to go with it:

What if I try a something and it's rejected.
What if I try a something and it doesn't fix things.
What if I try a something and look stupid.
What if I try a something like really being vulnerable and invested and she leaves me anyway.

Maybe you're thinking you can protect yourself by just coasting along and letting your life happen to you. This all is probably really new for you and very uncomfortable. But that's how this real relationship shit goes.

Getting deep into your toolbox and trying out different tools all on your own without a manual can sometimes be messy. Loving someone isn't always pretty - you'll fumble it and look silly and maybe even get it kind of wrong, but it's the you *trying* consistently that matters.

Cake is a big metaphor around here, so let's take that one. It doesn't matter if the cake you decide to make for her turns out to be a wreck. It's that you came up with the idea on your own, spent the time shopping and baking, cleaning up the kitchen, decorating and then presenting it to her. And hopefully you both then laugh together at how ugly it is.

What a blessing that she has expressed her needs so clearly to you. But she doesn't want to do all the heavy lifting. She needs to see something from within you. Imagination, courage, effort.

My guess is not having courage is a better description for your "freeze up."

Think about that title again. It's not so much that it's a stupid question, it's a helpless question. And she probably wouldn't find it attractive. If you really give the best of yourself and it's ultimately rejected (which very well could happen), then isn't that still a better way to part?

MrCleanSlate posted 7/2/2020 12:49 PM


I clearly recall the moment at D-day when I said to my BW that I had cheated and it was like something in me changed and I decided to come clean (My BW also helped by saying if I didn't spill the entire truth she was leaving). Anyway, my point is that I took that moment as a realization that I needed to change and to be honest and to start sharing my thoughts and feelings. I spent too many years bottling stuff up and letting resentment build.

The best thing I ever did was let go of the outcome and just share everything.

Stop holding yourself back.

BTW - the first post a the top of the Wayward Forum may alos be helpful to you.

TheFallen posted 7/2/2020 13:59 PM

Yes. A lot of that makes sense...thank you all for continuing to post. I
I am most definitely a coward. I tend to wait to do things until the last minute. And I’m not showing her that I care. I usually spend more time with my mountain bikes than I do on her. And when I try to turn away from them and towards her, I eventually screw something up and pull away again. I was afraid she was going to leave. But I didn’t step up to keep it from happening. I just sat back and was resigned to my fate. Sometimes I think “what the hell is wrong with me?” But that’s kind of a cop out.

gmc94 posted 7/2/2020 18:07 PM

This may come off harsh, but I'm not sure how else to put it (and as you read, you will see that I may be projecting a bit here).

You MUST get comfortable fucking up. If that's not possible for you, then just file for D.

I suspect you have a lot of ego and perfectionism. You can't STAND it when you fail at something. Most people don't - myself included.

The problem is that now you are a WS. So that shit has GOT to go right out the damn window. Imagine that perfectionism and fear of failure just sailing along in the wind bc you have thrown it away.

My WH's steadfast refusal to figure out how to be comfortable with failure is probably the #1 reason we are not "in R" after 2.5 years. It will be the #1 reason I file for D. Because it seems to me to be at the heart of EVERYTHING, from not doing a complete timeline, to continued lying about stupid and big shit. He cannot tolerate thinking of himself as failing at anything.

And if my WH were the only WS I've seen on SI with this issue, I'd just chalk this post up to projecting. But he's not. Not by a long shot.

This fear problem reminds me of the scene in Dune where Kyle MacLachlan has his finger in the Reverend Mother's box, which she has said contains "pain". She holds a poison needle (gom jabbar) to his throat, saying it kills animals. He must use his human (executive) brain to not flinch or he'll die. He holds his hand in that box and basically chants things like "fear is the mind killer" and "fear is the little death".

I think a WS figuring out how to persevere after day is the exact same thing. Every time you rationalize not moving forward, not finding empathy, not rebuilding trust, telling a lie (of any kind), or just avoiding the shit storm you are in (for what - mountain bikes?), imagine that gom jabbar at your neck, held by someone OTHER than your BW (because your choice to have an A is what put BOTH the box and that gom jabbar in your vicinity. Not your FOO. Not your BW. Not anyone or anything but YOUR choice to live a secret sexual life). And know that if you pull your hand from that box of pain, you are sending a message to your BW that she will likely not be on board with.

And I think that most successfully recovered or reconciled WS would say that it's really hard at first, but as they become mindful, it gets better. Honesty and authenticity and empathy become their own habits. So putting your hand in that box - poison needle at your throat or not - becomes something that is welcome. Putting your hand in the box becomes a minor pain, if at all. Like sore muscles after a new workout, it becomes something that is indicative of growth and good health.

[This message edited by gmc94 at 6:18 PM, July 2nd, 2020 (Thursday)]

TheFallen posted 7/2/2020 19:33 PM

@Stinger: I have been diagnosed with NPD. So I definitely have a personality disorder. I need to learn how to better handle it. I end up falling back into selfish behaviors over and over again, without even realizing I'm being so disgustingly selfish.

I've always needed to be the center of attention. I used to do a lot of plays, and I LOVED the attention. After a great performance, I would feel so enthralled by it all.

TheFallen posted 7/2/2020 19:39 PM

@gmc94 - THANK YOU. That was a really amazing response. You hit a lot of my behaviors right on the head. I know that I KNOW BETTER. I need to really listen to you guys...I have a history of receiving advice but not using it...to the detriment of so many areas in my life.

I tend to ask for advice all the time. And when it's good, it's great. But I still choose not to use it...why? Because I don't think I want to put n effort. But at the same time I will never be happy if I don't. I don't want to find another relationship. I don't want another woman. I just want to be with my wife and make things right.

EllieKMAS posted 7/2/2020 20:28 PM

FBW here. Look it's really good that you are here asking for help. Really good. That's miles further than my xwh ever got, that's for sure.

But.... You managed this double life and sneaking around behind your BWs back with no help. I bet you can manage to research stuff about your bikes all by yourself when you need to as well. So if you want your wife and your life, figure out some things you can do and then make them happen. Whatever it takes. If you are not willing to go all in then file for D and let your BW move on and heal.

While I appreciate you being here, some of your responses read to me like you're still making excuses. You have a diagnosis, you don't follow advice, etc. If you really truly want your M, then taking all these suggestions should be a given for you. As a BW, my x did the same 'what do I do?' thing, but then refused to actually do anything that I suggested and instead just did his vaguely victim-y hand-wringing. It was really frustrating (and frankly kind of insulting) for him to expect me to hold his hand and direct him on how to help me when he managed to break me all on his own. Just my 0.02.

secondtime posted 7/2/2020 23:07 PM

How's your recovery going?

I just noticed your a recovering SA. So is my husband.

He's been sober for 6 years now.

Does your wife understand that progress, particularly with SA's is very, very slow? Do you understand that your progress is very slow?

My husband first started getting high in his early teens. That's where his emotional growth stopped.

Six years of sobriety isn't enough time for my husband to emotionally go from age 13 to age 45.

And, I think that's pretty common, among SAs. At least I've learned it hanging out on the I can relate thread of partners of SAs.

I also think that my husband, because of his addiction, is just really incapable of getting to remorse. Oh, he's got a ton of regret...

But, even something simple like providing me with a real apology that demonstrates he's taken ownership and responsibility for his behaviors and choices. I think after asking for that for a year..he managed to eek a decent apology for about 3 weeks. Then it was back to the "I'm sorry you feel that way" b.s. apology.

TheFallen posted 7/3/2020 19:38 PM

@EllieKMAS - You've really hit the nail on the head with that one. I'm sorry to hear about your x and the way you were treated. But your .02 is very valuable. And you're right...I never need prompting when it comes to my hobbies or the things I like. And I've got a lot of that self-victimization going on still. Really working at just throwing that all away. And the truth is, I know exactly what to do. I guess I posted this topic just because I was feeling like a moron for not comforting my wife.

@secondtime - My recovery is going...decently. My BW is kinda over the 12-Steps since I used my meetings as another way to manipulate her and further lie about my actual progress of recovery. I lied to the men in my group and also threw away a really good sponsor at one point. But I've stopped hiding relapses, which I'm sure my BW appreciates. Obviously she's never happy to hear about them, but it's better than keeping up my lies and the TT. I made it over a year once. Now I'm having trouble making it past a few months. My wife knows about the slow progress. She tries to be patient with me, but sometimes I do the exact thing that sets her off. And that's usually because I'm careless and not thinking about her over myself.

[This message edited by TheFallen at 8:19 AM, July 5th (Sunday)]

Carissima posted 7/4/2020 09:16 AM

Ok, so I read your other thread. You threatened your BW with divorce and you say she is terrified now that the papers are going to come any day. What are you doing to help her get over that fear? You say you recognise she has PTSD through dealing with your issues including your arrest for lewd behaviour or sexual misconduct,(you put the actual details in your other post) and then you slap her in the face with this?
I have to be honest as a BW,at the first hint of divorce from you I'd have walked out and hired my own lawyer.
It sounds to me like your wife may be co-dependent and needs to work with her IC on that.
You definitely need to work on your addiction problems with more than just promises to get serious about it.

secondtime posted 7/4/2020 18:13 PM

So, you are an active addict and aren't doing any regular work to try to maintain some sobriety?

And you are surprised because you are behaving like an addict?

Has your wife dealt with the fall out from your addiction?

If she had, she'd never want to know that you'll always be there. It's a promise you can't make. No addict can.

If you wanted to make this right, you'd start by really working your recovery. If you are relapsing regularly, it's not enough, whatever you are doing currently.

[This message edited by secondtime at 6:17 PM, July 4th (Saturday)]

TheFallen posted 7/4/2020 20:52 PM

@Carissima - Yes. My wife had some trauma from her childhood before we met. I was supposed to be her safety from all that. But I ended up traumatizing her worse than she'd ever been as a child. Yes, she knows she CAN'T leave, she won't allow herself to because she's trauma bonded. As far as addressing her fear, I'm really not sure how I can make something so terrible that I did right. I don't ever plan on divorcing her. I will accept it if she absolutely needs to for her, but it's not what either of us really want.
We really just want to make a functional relationship again. We know it's not going to be perfect. We know it's not even going to be the same. But I don't want to let her go. Not because of something as stupid and disgusting as pornography and my intrusive behaviors.
She's very fragile and delicate by nature, so having to be so tough taking care of herself for so long is definitely taking everything from her. The moment I threatened her with divorce...I knew the words that had come out of my mouth were horrifying. Her responses are burned into my mind. And I had to look at what it was I had just done. Over some stupid bull-crap argument. I took the last thing she was hanging onto and swung it over her head just out of her reach.

@secondtime - You know, I don't think I'm really all that surprised at acting like an addict. I'm essentially throwing temper-tantrums over nothing. I didn't keep up my end of the deal. Plain and simple. And the longer I go without maintaining safety and sobriety, the further away my wife has to be from me. I know this. I don't want this. She definitely doesn't want it. I internally complain about being an addict and being frustrated by my own addict behavior. But the only person who can do anything about it is me. Complaining isn't going to get me anywhere.

I just want her to have a smile on her face again. And I want her to actually feel happy.

foreverlabeled posted 7/14/2020 10:07 AM

me again,

I tend to ask for advice all the time. And when it's good, it's great. But I still choose not to use it...why? Because I don't think I want to put n effort.
You don't want to put in the effort??? Um you realize this takes work right? It doesn't just fall into your lap. No, you will never have it both ways, sick and happy. Not going to happen. You will continue to abuse your wife with no effort on your part, and you will always be an unhealthy individual. So, until you find the personal want to better the quality of your life, you will always be in the state you are now.

What are you doing then if you aren't going to put in the effort it takes to change. White knuckle it until you abuse again, rise and repeat? Dude, if that is your plan, then you should consider different options, like setting your wife up comfortably and letting her move on, so she can learn what happy and healthy really looks like. As I said in my other reply to you, its going to be nearly impossible for her to heal all the damage with an active abuser.

Otherwise, she needs to 180 you like yesterday, until you can prove consistently you are taking actions, but again, that takes effort. So, I just don't know. And it sounds like she's willing to let this go on indefinitely, due to being broken herself. I can relate to her a ton. I was extremely CoD, as far on the spectrum could get. I am still working on this and I suspect I will be for some time to come. It's not easy to heal. Nothing on either side of the coin is easy, under the best of circumstances.

And as hard as this is to say, as I do not wish to ever be hurtful. Healing with a NPD wayward is probably one of the worst circumstances. Especially with your "i don't want to put in the effort" attitude.

I want to believe you want help, but you gotta help yourself.

gmc94 posted 7/14/2020 12:36 PM

I hope I'm not violating any guidelines by reposting this from another thread, but I think it applies. This is what an IC said to a WH about actions v intentions:

"You know, H, intentions and actions are not the same thing, right? You seem to believe you should be judged by your good intentions, but if your behaviors don't match that, then your behaviors are who you ACTUALLY are. Intentions don't matter."
At some point you have to decide that you care about who you actually are.... that you care about the actions.... that the intentions don't mean squat.

Or as Yoda would say: Do. Or do not. There is no try.

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