My 30 year R Story.,,,,,and Opportunity Costs
It's all about opportunity costs. If you're not sure what that is, every choice we make in life, from the most simple and mundane to the most significant, all choices involve some option vs another. Sometimes the cost of choosing one thing is at the expense of losing whatever opportunities the other option would provided. But every opportunity cost comes with some level of gamble, trust, and hope. In any event all things we choose in life come with some level of lost opportunity by not choosing the "something else".
There are almost always multiple options when we make the R decision, and as we weigh the risks and costs of each of those options we here in this forum land on "I'll give R a try", knowing that there will be some cost, in money, pain, angst, disappointment in this choice.....but assuming the opportunists we get from successful R exceed the opportunities from leaving.
While it has been 28 years since my fWW cheated, I see the "cheating" element of infidelity as only small part of the broader "infidelity" healing. I see cheating as a set of actions and choices and I see infidelity as a core broken mindset. I came to learn the real issue, the most pain, the hardest work came from the work she had to do to and for herself, before I could ever be vulnerable. I consider infidelity somewhat akin to alcoholism. The drinking may have stopped years ago, and there is trust that the alcoholic is committed to never drinking again and has proven over a long enough period that the risk us low that they would drink. But, it is understood that the broken parts of what makes an alcoholic a risk are lifelong. This is why many attend AA all their life or why they celebrate each year of sobriety. It is a thing that is so unsafe, that it takes a constant level of awareness about that brokenness to make sure they stay on that path to happiness and healing.
Those than can rationalize the despicable, horribly selfish acts of cheating betrayal are pretty deeply broken and it is likely a lifetime journey to figure that out and to fight the demons that fed the thinking that allowed them to act and think in such ways.
So, how does this relate to me and my R story. I am 30 years into R, 28 years since cheating. Very little concern that the cheating part of infidelity would ever show up again. But the underlying challenges and ways that my wife deals with some things in life in general, still can display those thinking patterns. For example. she can still be defensive over insignificance things and often still sees the bad in the world and in others, without first taking into account her contributions to "is wrong in the world". She will never be, for lack of better or more appropriate terms, 100% "healed" internally, and as such not ever as safe as I thought she was pre-A.
This comes back to the concept of opportunity costs. I long ago did my calculations over what I would lose or gain, what each option would cost me in losing out on what some other decision would get me, and I chose/choose a lifetime of managing what infidelity created, vs the opportunities lost from making a different option, such as ending the M and leaving.
We D'd as one of my conditions of R way back 28 or so years ago, started the R phase, then remarried a couple of years later. I have no fear of living alone or without her. I do think the decision to jump out during the rough times of R would have cost me more vs the potential opportunities in staying.
I have someone I consider my "person", and I look at that in a positive and contented way. We are married. We have children and grandchildren. She has shown no cheating tendencies' for 28 years and has appeared contrite and remorseful to the degree her brain is able to connect the appropriate words and actions to those concepts. There ae a few times I though seriously of leaving over these long years, but always landed on deciding the opportunities from staying outweighed the opportunities I may have gotten by leaving.
For me, successful R has not been cluttered or conflated by a need to twist or reinvent what I think love means. I am satisfied in being comfortable with her as my person and in the deference and respect that she shows relative to how I need to traverse this whole journey.
I suppose this is, in part cathartic, but also a message to some in the early stages of the trauma and trying to figure out what R is or should be. For me, of course I needed a complete physical and mental/emotional end to the core cheating activities. But she came to learn, after the passage of some time, how much more critical was her staying in fixing herself mode, than was the specific cheating activities. It took her some time to "get it" on the mode...."we will always be in some state of infidelity for as long as some of the ways you think about many things in life, big or small, are still present".
So, yes R is very possible and can indeed lead to feeling content. It may not end up in the exact way you thought that you needed or wanted, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't still be a good opportunity cost choice. Of course a lot depends on your WS.
If you are in R and your WS is serious about working on "getting it" and doing all of their part, you can get past the deep early pain and can find a place to settle into comfort, contentment, and a satisfaction over making that choice.
[This message edited by DIFM at 8:57 AM, March 3rd, 2021 (Wednesday)]
15 comments posted: Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021