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Has anyone else had this experience?

Pippin posted 10/15/2020 10:44 AM

I am still slightly shaken and my IC is not around for a while so perhaps some of you have had the same experience and have some insight.

My husband has a trigger a few days ago. It doesn't happen that often - he's not triggered by dates or locations and the few things that have bothered him have been easy to remove. It was one of the unexpected out of the blue kinds - I told our pandemic puppy she was "so wonderful!" and something in the tone or the word really bothered him. I knew there was something wrong but not what it was, and did all of the stuff that helps him. I pointed out that he seemed withdrawn and that I was happy to talk when he was ready, but also gave him some space. He said (and I believe him) that it was everything I could have done. But of course sometimes it takes him time to figure out what is bothering him and for the next couple of days he was withdrawn.

Then he figured out the problem and shared the trigger with me and we talked it out, and again he said I handled that well - I know what helps him when he is upset.

He was still a bit withdrawn for a day or so after that. I knew he was still processing - so I focused on what seemed to help but not pressuring, paying attention to the kids and getting stuff done around the house (it was a crazy week logistically and he likes it when things run smoothly so he doesn't have to worry about that), etc. We had a few pleasant and superficial conversations walking the dog and at dinner and so on - I asked how he was doing and he said better but I could tell he was still a little off. I was a little shaky but I kept reminding myself that all would be well in short order and did what I needed to take care of myself. One foot in front of the other.

Then on the third morning he seemed back to normal. After all this endless amount of IC and introspection and conversation, he has a much better sense of how to be close, how to be intimate (much better than before the affair), and he went back to doing all of those things that I love so much - physical contact, stopping to touch me even when he is just walking past, concrete and specific things that he notices and likes, when he sees the effort that I make for him (like wearing all black or whatever), whispering little things, making little jokes. So he went back full speed ahead to those kinds of interactions. He was completely better. But somehow coming back to that was overwhelmingly painful. There was a moment in the kitchen that morning when he paused and gave me a kind of attention that is now normal and everyday (now, not before the affair). All I could do was keep still and quiet and let him pet me and whisper a few nice things, and when he went back to work I had to go out into the garden and blubber for a long long time. Which is just odd because it was normal interaction for us and exactly what I want, but at that moment I almost would rather have never had it than have it and have it taken away. There was a huge pull inside of me that thought - nevermind, let's just live side by side and have our adventures, but no more of that please, I really don't want to need you in that way.

Anyone else have that? I'm still resisting the urge to stay aloof. I'm not staying aloof but the urge is very strong.

MrCleanSlate posted 10/15/2020 11:09 AM


Maybe it's a guy thing. I have times where I kind of shutdown and process. My BW naturally gets all nervous when I get like that and she calls me out. In my case it has a lot to do with slipping back into depression thinking, and ruminating, and bottling up.

I do know what you mean in a slightly different manner though. My BW tapered off on sex and intimacy about 6 months ago. She just kind of shut down. Threw me for a loop. I didn't say much at first as I fell back into my old role of pretend everything is OK (my mistake there) and later after getting all frustrated I asked what was up. Well, it was menopause stuff happening and anxiety over pandemic, etc.

It is so hard to not fall back into old patterns. It does take effort on all parties involved to work through that.

Buck posted 10/15/2020 15:46 PM

Pippin, it's scary as hell to make yourself vulnerable to someone after you've hurt them. Doing so opens one up to being hurt. It's double tricky when you're the person that betrayed them in the first place. You are the reason they are in pain and you are the reason for your own pain. It sucks to realize this little piece.

Another thing that sucks is you never know when the triggers or setbacks are going to happen. They can come completely out of the blue and the relationship vibe can change in an instant. It's unnerving and, truthfully, far more so for the BS. It's particularly difficult when there's been a lengthy period of good times. That's when the sledgehammer hit to the chest packs an extra wallop. I know this is coming, I just don't know when\where\how\what. It's like that hammer is hanging over me and just waiting to drop at any moment. The M feels a bit bipolar, flip flopping between "highs" and "lows". Also, there's this little part of me that wonders if this is the final blow for my wife, you know, the straw that finally breaks the M's back and she files for D.

I think this is part of my issue with reconnecting with my wife. I'm really not sure what to do about it; I'm starting to think it's just the new normal. And I'm not bitching or whining, I know why this happens. I know my role in causing the situation, it's just hard sometimes.

Pippin posted 10/16/2020 17:09 PM

MCS, I'm sorry you are having that difficulty with your wife. I hope you two figure it out. I think sexuality is very complicated for some women. And I think you are right, I hadn't recognized it as an old pattern but of course it was. I think my IQ drops by 90% when I'm in the middle of an emotional burst. The new thing was how painful it was! I think I used to skirt right past painful to nevermind, that doesn't hurt. So it seemed like a new thing but it wasn't, just the same old if I don't really need you, you can't hurt me.

Buck, I'm sorry you're having trouble reconnecting with your wife. I hope you two are able to find ways to connect. I hadn't attached the word "vulnerable" to the situation but when I read what you wrote of course it's that. I've always been pretty radically independent so being dependent in any way is terrifying and I seem to notice it not when I'm emotionally on my own, which I'm used to, but when the connection comes back. Something to keep in mind for the next round.

MyAndI posted 10/17/2020 12:04 PM

Pippin, He's processing things still and will for a long time. He is going to withdraw at times and then bounce back. So it will be given and taken away at times. He's not giving and taking away on purpose. He's giving what he can, when he can. Sounds like you two are going to be ok.

JBWD posted 10/17/2020 12:39 PM

...but at that moment I almost would rather have never had it than have it and have it taken away.

Pippin, Iím so sorry that fear surfaced!!! This quote is truly tearing me up right now! Even if we were to lose that, it would have made us better for knowing it. But that fear is perhaps the most primal that exists for hyper-social beings like us, tying back to a time when to lose human contact meant dying alone in the wilderness. Your fear is reasonable, but is transitory, and your recognition of what it threatens is great.

Just letting you know youíre heard

MrCleanSlate posted 10/19/2020 15:38 PM


So how did you do over this weekend with all of this? Were you able to make some progress?

Pippin posted 10/20/2020 10:33 AM

MyAndI, yes, we are going to OK. The issue is more what is the quality of life. There's a great book I read a while ago, Can Love Last? The Fate of Romance Over Time by Stephen Mitchell. it's a bit complex but what I took out of it is that the romance is getting to know one another, the disclosure, being seen by someone else, both the good and the ugly, and being accepted and loved. He puts forth that people want to be know but only up to a point, where the walls go up, because past that is too scary, too vulnerable. People's walls are in different places but he thinks we all have them. That's where the romance begins to wither. So the trick is to notice where the walls exist and pull them down, even at the risk of rejection.

JBWD, thanks for your kindness. It is not fun to be in pain. But it's where the learning happens, no? And I have a LOT of tools I keep sharp in my toolbelt, it would be a shame to let them get rusty.

MCS, thanks for checking in, once I had figured out what happened I am back to being all in. It's good that my husband is safe and secure enough to feel like he can withdraw when he needs to and things won't fall apart. He held himself together for a really long time and now it's his turn to be cared for as he works through his big issues.

Now you are going to be scolded.

I have a very common name which never gets misspelled or mispronounced and I never understood how jarring it is to see one's name spelled wrong. P-I-P-P-I-N!!! three Ps, two Is. one N. NO E!

MrCleanSlate posted 10/20/2020 12:21 PM


Apologies for mis-spelling....

Pippin posted 10/25/2020 13:11 PM

No problem MrClean!

[This message edited by Pippin at 1:14 PM, October 25th (Sunday)]

BraveSirRobin posted 10/26/2020 17:13 PM

MrCleanSlate posted 10/27/2020 00:20 AM

Ha - I actually had to look up 'Bulls 33' to figure out who that was. Being Canadian, had he been a hockey player I would have got it right away

[This message edited by MrCleanSlate at 12:21 AM, October 27th (Tuesday)]

BraveSirRobin posted 10/27/2020 00:31 AM

And now the picture is gone! I swear I have never successfully loaded an image on SI. At least this time, someone saw it before the link broke.

Pippin posted 10/28/2020 11:21 AM

Holy here we go again Batman, that big sweaty man has an E on the back of his jersey!

[This message edited by Pippin at 11:34 AM, October 28th (Wednesday)]

Maia posted 11/9/2020 15:29 PM

no insight. just praying for you. You know what my first go to advice is though. ...


Maia posted 11/9/2020 15:34 PM

oh wait. I guess I have had this issue before sorta. Not the same exactly.

About 10 years ago my friend's husband died. And all of a sudden the reality of "till death do us part" HIT ME like a ton of bricks.

Actually, the idea of death in ALL its reality hit me. I think I cried a lot though when my friends husband died not because of him, I didnt know him. But because of me. I think even when my dog died last year, the fear of losing my H hit me.

But its a fear of loss. the fear of loss, that drives that fear of needing. You dont want to need anyone that much.

I really don't want to need you in that way

Yes. Exactly.

So that's where you dig.

MIgander posted 11/9/2020 15:47 PM

...but at that moment I almost would rather have never had it than have it and have it taken away.

Oh my goodness this is me! It's hard for me to pull down walls right now and reconnect- or even want to- as this is exactly the pattern of my marriage- only now it's on steroids after what I did to him w/ the affair.

I can't bear to think that I can be loved again by anyone, let alone my BH, as trying to rely and be comfortable in a love that is always there seems so foreign to me. Both in my childhood and in my early marriage to him. I do something (something even minor) and it's big enough to him that he is disappointed or frustrated and then turns away from me. Shuts off all the affection, communication, like a tap. It's gone. It's even more so now, for understandable reasons.

It hurts so much to have the lights shut off like that and be left in what feels like a dark basement by yourself. And then to have that done repeatedly over the years, sometimes left there for over a year and a half. Most of it for things that you struggle to fix (gotta love ADHD) and will likely keep having to fix no matter the amount of medication and interventions and compensatory strategies you put in place.

I'm learning to find a few light bulbs in my own basement and try to keep them lit when this happens. I'm just so afraid to open up to him and let him love me or even to let myself WANT to be loved again by him. I'm so afraid he's going to open up, turn on the lights (and loving behavior) and then I'll inevitably mess up again and find him shutting down. I don't want to have the darkness to myself again.

Still working on myself to get that level of "light" in my own soul. Just too burned by our history and the pain we're going through right now to want to even allow myself to want him again.

Pippin posted 11/13/2020 13:03 PM

You know what my first go to advice is though. ..

I did pray about it! That's why I asked on SI! I thought it was a weird thing to hear but shrugged and said OK, I guess that's what I need to do. And behold!, I found some good and helpful people and writing it out and listening to them did help. And you are right, it was about misplaced needs (thanks for bumping your thread). I'm still working on it. I think it's going to be one of those Eldredge process things, not a zap. Which is fine.

MIGander, I do think that you and I are similar here. When I rely on my husband for happiness or to fill my needs, I feel victimized when he is not perfectly attentive or understanding, when he doesn't automatically know what I want and give it to me. Which my adult brain understands is silly at best and destructive at worst. The feelings are still very real and my brain is very clouded when I'm in that place of feeling needy. It's hard to sort out because because he fills my wants so well, and often when I'm feeling needy or hurt or troubled he is right there to help. But not always, and I need to be sturdy when he is not. I'm getting there. At a minimum I'm able to not hurt him when I'm sorting myself out and give him reassurance if he is worried. You seem to be making steps too! Keep it up.

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