To tell or not?
Heads up, this is a WW looking for advice about an acquaintance who was recently revealed to be a WW as well. I am over 2yrs out from my affair and doing work. She is only 4 weeks out and in denial like I was at the beginning. I dont want the pain I inflicted with the mistakes I made in the affair discovery to be the same ones she makes. What is the good of any of this if I cant at least help someone to NOT do as I have done? Thats the framing of this question.
Also, I am asking this community because googling this kind of thing leads to a lot of ignorant and hateful answers.
A good acquaintance recently revealed to me last month (while drunk) that she was just 2 weeks out from having an affair on her husband.
This acquaintance (T) asked a good friend of mine (R) almost 2yrs ago (6mos out of my affair ending) if my husband was cheating on me. T had picked up some weird vibes from us that were all too familiar to her... R said no HE was not. T then said, "oh no! It wasnt her?!" Which R said neither yes nor no to. I have already had a discussion about this with R... this thread is not about her. Sigh. Wish I knew this info before that party. Could have saved me from scraping my jaw off the floor (hah). This is how T became comfortable approaching me, I am not going to cast stones.
Anyhow, T met her AP at the gym, he was her friend's husband and ran the place at the time. She justified not telling her friend because her friend had already known about one of his prior affairs and is "still working on the marriage." Which, how can she really work on a marriage only she is in??
When drunk, she asked me not to tell my husband. I was ... not entirely sober... and frankly shocked. I said I wouldnt. Woke up the next morning, thought about it for about 2min and, well that kind of hiding was part of who I was during my affair. So, I told him. Not going to hide shit like that from him.
There are other things going on in the background with my disclosure to my BH- his pain and vulnerability and her flirtatiousness and touchiness... it's not a good situation for either of them. BH can decide what he likes about interacting with her. I wanted him to know she is not a healthy person right now and to be careful. Better to know there may be a mine under your foot than to wander through the field blindly. Yes, I am concerned that he could be vulnerable to an affair, he has told me this repeatedly in recent months. Namely that he understands the temptation and that he can see how he would be vulnerable to one. BH does not judge T for hers.
Anyway, after the party where T revealed her affair to me, we took a very long walk together. We shared stories and I kept bringing her back to how devastated my BH was to find out through my phone what was going on. That the finding out without me telling was like dumping a tanker truck of gas on a fire. I tried to tell her that her BH deserved to know, that he would find out some other way and it would be even worse for their marriage than if she told him right now. I also asked her to think about her friend whose husband was her AP. How if T wasnt the first, she wouldnt be the last. How even if he didnt give T an STD, how could she be sure he wouldnt pick one up in his next fling and pass it to her friend?
Basically tried to tell her the things I wish I had been able to learn before my BH discovered my affair.
At the end of the walk, I also told T that I told my husband about the situation. She was upset, I aplogized for saying I wouldnt at the party and then telling him anyway. I tried to reassure her that neither of us judge her for it. I also (defensively, not proud of it) told T that I had lued so much to my BH during the affair that I was not going to hide something major like this from him. Her affair id not an innocent thing like a surprise bday celebration that could be kept in confidence. So, now she is hurt and reluctant to talk to me.
Its sad, T is justifying not telling her BH because things are improving between the 2 of them and she doesnt htink there is any possibility of him finding out. I dont have to tell anyone here how that will play out. Years from now, their interactions may have improved, but when he hears about it, orshe has another affair because of not addressing her core problems (childhood sexual abuse), it will make all the years between lies to him.
So, aside from the sudden growth in empathy I have gleaned for my BH in this, the whole situation is shit.
I would like to have another discussion with her, maybe point her to this forum for help, but I cant make her tell her BH about the affair. My BH would support me either way, tell her BH or not, but I am confused about what is best (morally) and how (tactically) to approach this.
The thing that would most honor the truth (I am working on this- honesty even when the consequences are ugly) is to let her BH know. I am really not confident that it is my place to tell him if she won't. I dont want to do this out of a way to intentionally cause them pain (even though it will). It really is a desire to do what is really right for once. Right now, I am torn between the horror her BH is facing when it does get discovered later on and the thought of, "Who am I to determine what is best for their marriage? I am the cheater who f'ed up my marriage." Who am I to be the one to cast this stone?
I dont know. Never been here before. Has anyone else? Could really use a clue.
Thanks in advance.
12 comments posted: Saturday, September 25th, 2021
2021-already fun (vent)
-boss has stage 4 cancer- went in for gallbladder surgery and found WAY more than he bargained for...
-friend's mom may need another leg amputation from injuries from a bad fall
-HR investigation into my reporting of hostile interactions with AP post affair stirred up a lot of shit and didn't yield any guarantees on us not being on the same campus ever in the future. basically said (as lawyers told me last year) that there's nothing they can do, work w/ boss to not have to go on my old campus and report any further misbehavior on his end. so much for easing BH's anxiety when I do have to go into work.
-inability to focus on anything and it's affecting my work life
-kids are unhappy with my lack of attention to them and depression
-IC and meds not doing it for me anymore- stepping up exercise, prayer, reading, sharing w/ friends and sisters, still not enough as this pandemic drags on
-BH entering lethal plane of flatness. multiple "tennis serves" over net in form of positive interactions are not returned. Stirring up insecurities in me on our marriage healing and thriving.
-Added to insecurities and anxiety over my job situation now I've reported my affair (and bad judgement and all the fun that comes from being a female and the subconscious judgement that comes with it- really does put my job in jeopardy next round of layoffs).
-Need job if BH decided to D me, which would be just as I deserve after my actions. Don't think he will though, he's been really supportive in the best way he can be lately.
Basically, my basket is empty, my well is dry and it's very hard.
*world's smallest violin playing*
But I'm still alive, healthy and the sun is out in MI in the winter- got a walk with the dog to look forward to today.
In the words of Caddy Shack, "so at least I've got that going for me."
Anyway, how's y'all's 2021 shaping up?
27 comments posted: Thursday, January 21st, 2021
See you in a while
BH and I had a discussion tonight. Looks like I've been bitching about him on an online forum instead of to my friends. It's so blindingly obvious and I wish I had seen it before.
A lot of you will say, DUH .
So, anyway, I'm off.
1 comment posted: Tuesday, November 10th, 2020
adhd and hopelessness
Did it again. Screwed up again. BH got my new credit card in the mail, handed it to me and said, "Activate it and let's put the new one back in the vault with the old one." I don't have the combination to it, so it's out of my reach for spending anything on it.
Anyway, my knee jerk emotional overdrive reaction said, "No, I'm not going to do that, I don't agree with this."
He was upset because, yet again, I showed that it was more about me and my paranoia over his controlling behaviors than about his hurt and paranoia over my using the credit card on something we didn't discuss (like paying a lawyer). We are also working hard to get out of debt and in the past I would use the credit card for unexpected expenses between paychecks like extra food or gas. We're trying to pay that all off and he's frustrated that there's no real ground being covered on the credit cards I have. He wants me to obey him in this unquestioningly and gracefully after all I have done to him. He doesn't trust me. I asked him how he expects to build trust in our relationship if he doesn't extend the opportunity for building it. That was selfish of me again- telling him how to run his recovery.
As a lot of you know, I have baggage with the way money was handled in our relationship and have ADHD. The baggage came up and my ADHD sped it out of my mouth before my brakes could be applied and I could say to myself, "Gee, shouldn't you honor his wishes over your own? After all, you fucked another man and need to be making BH a priority."
Anyway, just another case of emotional reflexes ruining what was turning out to be a good evening.
I'm so sick of this. My overreactions from my ADHD brain made it difficult for me to control my responses to my BH and my kids, made it difficult to filter my responses to impulsive buying (I'd go to Meijer and buy stuff we didn't need like ice cream or chips or extra ingredients for meals I wanted to try to make. I'd even come home with jeans for the kids which were on sale or extra cleaning supplies that were on sale). This put my husband through no end of pain (from my emotional over reactions) and frustration with my lack of discipline. And now, instead of seeing that he wanted my cooperation and respect, I flinched and went back to my own pain and problems with being made to feel like a child for buying extra groceries. And made to feel like spending any money purely on myself in an impulsive manner was selfish and dangerous.
So, yeah, putting the credit card in the vault now, but missed completely on the opportunity to build good will.
I'm so sick of ADHD. The more I find out about it, the more I'm convinced it's going to be a life-long struggle. My BH is already overburdened with pain from my affair and now he's staring down the barrel of a 30-40 years worth of dealing with my ADHD shit on top of all that (even when medicated and compensated for, ADHD is hard shit to live with). It's not going away, it can only be managed and now he's got extra dose of PTSD on top of trying to keep me from being suicidal all last fall and then having to put up with this.
I just want to give up. He tells me there's no real reason for him to stay, that he's a chump for staying this long when there's been so little reason (aside from the kids). He's looking for me to give him reasons to keep going and I can't provide any. I'm stuck with my brain the way it is, I'm working with my psych to get my meds in a good balance, I'm working with my IC to stop the self defeating internalizing I do, but it's going to be a life long struggle. Sometimes I think it would be easier to walk away and not have to live with the disappointment, frustration and internalized shame I build up with each fuck up.
Further evidence I'm not built to be in a family or be loved or cherished or cared for- I just take whatever is good in my life and turn it to shit. Either with my shitty time management, my shitty impulse buying, my shitty emotional overreactions, my shitty driving (just ask me how many accidents and speeding tickets I've had in my life- I'm lucky to have a license still!). I just shit in everything I touch and don't even have the old, "well, I'm smart and make money and am physically attractive" to fall back on. I'm stupid for having an affair, money doesn't fix the fact you're an impulsive shrewish bitch and how can I be attractive to any one after they learn I've spread my legs for so many guys?
I'm very discouraged right now and exhausted and ashamed of myself and still somehow able to be angry at the injustice of all this shit I've had to live through and am likely going to continue dealing with the rest of my life. If I am being selfish in hanging on here, then I should let him go and divorce. My heart says we can break the shit past of our families' way of doing things and that if I just try hard enough, I can be the woman he wants and deserves to be. It says that giving up now would be another cop out and another failure to add to my pile and a further confirmation that I am not worthy of love, that I am toxic and a burden to those around me.
He has no reasons to stay, is disgusted with me and my actions, feels used and a fool for putting up with what he has. I only look for the wrong and have knee jerk self-protection reactions that only further damage him. If I keep trying to protect myself or live up to my own standards or try to have any sense of self autonomy, I'm just going to hurt him and fall on my face again. It's not about me. My feelings and wants don't matter. I am not worth the fight he's put into this. If I don't straighten up now, I'm not going to be able to have anyone who wants me in their life, unless, as my husband pointed out, "they're trailer trash like my AP." Maybe we deserved each other? I'm a piece of shit and he was attracted to that because he was one too.
0 comment posted: Wednesday, November 4th, 2020
guilt and more shame
BH shared his pain, disgust and visions of me with AP again last night. Something finally clicked with me and now I'm feeling the shame and guilt I should have felt from the beginning. Maybe finally I'm in a place where I can deal with it.
Anyway, it's a hard day and he's still being nice to me and I don't understand why. Don't deserve him and don't know if I can ever make it up to him or ever be good enough for him after what I've done.
I don't understand someone who's felt so much hurt and disgust (visceral disgust with me during sex and yet still persevering in holding me at night while we sleep) can be nice to someone who's done that to him. He's a better person than I am.
So yeah, finally starting to get it.
7 comments posted: Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020
letting go of past hurts
How many of you are having trouble as you're dealing with your own affair and actions letting go of past hurts from the marriage before the affair?
I have trouble at times with the words that stick in my head (negative) from both my family and my husband. We had an argument the other day and he called me a terrible parent. His anxiety has always been for the best interests/outcomes of our family. My daughter was upset coming home from cross country practice learning she was expected to shower for the 3rd time this week . She's 8 and more interested in horses and dragons than making herself "pretty" although she is- very beautiful. My sunshine and daisies girl. Anyhow, she was in a right fit because I didn't back down from the requirement of a shower. My husband was upset about her being upset, and also stressed out about the grades situation with our kids. They have ADD and getting higher in grades gets more HW responsibility. The in-class work is increasing. Overall they're having trouble tracking and keeping up with it. We are cracking down and working directly with the teachers on this. Kids aren't happy with the new lack of screen time during the week...
Anyhow, we had an argument about my daughter being unhappy and the grades. I said he was controlling and too anxious about these things- there's no shame in getting the extra help from the support teacher and counselor for our kids. It's what we pay the school for and they obviously love and care for our kids. He was upset about being called controlling, and said while looking in my eyes that I am a terrible parent with a great deal of anger in his voice. I know this to be objectively untrue as I have been sacrificing much of my time for their homework, getting ready in the morning, putting them to bed, insuring they're provided with all the food, hygiene and attention that I can provide them with. I've actually been able to become a better parent this past year to them than I have been in prior times.
Anyhow, argument aside, the "terrible mother" is stuck in my head. Along with all the times he's said he doesn't care about all the cleaning, cooking and care-taking of the house that I do (he didn't want to see me get stressed about it on his account, just had a terrible way of going about it ). He would also get frustrated with my own ADD and inconsistency with it and the clutter... His recent comments sharing what his friend said about his wife being so hot (training for a marathon, not eating carbs or sugar) and the past negative comparisons he's had of me physically to my friend brought up all my physical insecurity and emotional insecurity with him. Now when I shower, all I see are my flat boobs, the small amount of spare tire I've gained this year, the fact that I had to dye my hair and damage it (as I'm using my hair mask to keep it from breaking off) to please him because he didn't like it brown, going from deep wavy brown to blonde to show him I care and am trying to please him. I see when I shave all the hideous hair he is disgusted with and wants me to laser off. Just hearing that I had horrible hair (on my head) that had to be "fixed" in the first place, not hearing how beautiful he thinks I look with blonde hair. I know objectively that I am an attractive woman. Size 4-6, athletic and objectively in good shape (plastic surgeon was very positive- said women approaching 40 like I am are typically in MUCH worse shape when they come to her). I can only hear the negative, the critical and rejecting comments he has made to me over the years.
I tend to cling to criticism and negative statements. Even when they're said in the spirit of honesty or correction or are in his mind just to make me feel better (the saying that he doesn't care about my house work so I don't stress about it). He says he isn't interested in my gardening and is often critical of how I put the gardens together. His interests are objectively not in gardening. My gardens in the past have been untidy and poorly weeded. Even with all the positive things he's said about me physically now (nice hair, like the clothes, proud of how good a hostess I am) and all the non-sexual physical affection he's given me and the apologies for his past criticism, it's so hard to trust the positive that he does send my way. The negative- past and present- just overwhelm the positive that does come my way.
I just keep hearing as I go about my day all the negative things that he's told me over the years. All the pain just keeps coming back, even on good days. I live inside my head with all the negativity, criticism, abuse and downright meanness I've lived with over the years both with my family and with my BH.
Anyone had to deal with this? It's interfering with my efforts to reconcile and he is hurt sometimes because it seems like the positive efforts he's making are not enough either.
I forgive him for the past hurts and understand where they come from on his side. I just want them to stop hurting me. I'm trying to use the cognitive techniques my therapist is working on with me (countering the negative voice in my head with the truth and daily prayer, self care, self acceptance, etc).
When does this stuff stop hurting? This is what drove me to seek the outer validation and positivity from my affair. Praise and validation given externally will never be enough- that is a well that will run dry and make me eternally thirst again and again. How do I internalize it so I don't require it from others? How do I love myself enough to not need it from others, especially my BH?
6 comments posted: Friday, October 9th, 2020
need some help
2 comments posted: Thursday, October 1st, 2020
actions vs intentions - organizing thoughts. Long post.
So... looking further into the way I interpreted my marriage pre-affair... I have trouble with my BH in reading intentions into his actions that he says are not there.
BH had emotional responses that closely mirrored those of my father (who was a serial cheater it turns out...), especially in regards to how he coped with my mental illnesses and rage/anger/insecurity resulting from them.
My father was emotionally and physically distant from us kids and my mother. Rarely showed her affection, put his arms around her voluntarily or gave any of us unearned/unasked for praise or positivity. He was distant with us at home. That is, unless lecturing us kids on how, if we were just more "normal" we wouldn't get bullied so much by classmates or abused by our sister . As though it was MY FAULT I was abused and bullied from the time I was 6 until HIGHSCHOOL. Still have some anger to work out on that one . Basically he tried his best, but mainly taught us that the reactions of others to ourselves was our fault and it was our responsibility to manage the emotions and reactions others had to us by better molding our behavior to please them. Sigh.
My BH's refusal to touch me/ hold me/ sleep with me for 1.5 years after the birth of my (3mos too early from his planning) daughter, was to prevent another unplanned (by 3 months) pregnancy when I was clearly overwhelmed with PPD. Once he had his vasectomy (so he wouldn't worry about it and I wouldn't continue to shrivel up and die inside from lack of touch), he could sleep with me again. He also had difficulty being physically intimate with me when emotionally I was an angry overwhelmed wreck of a person during my postpartum depression. His intentions weren't to hurt me, but protect himself from having to be physically intimate with a wife who he couldn't be emotionally intimate with, and protect me from becoming pregnant again and sent into a deep PPD hole again and trying to cope with 3 young children, when, with my lack of mothering skills, I couldn't mother the 2 I had already sufficiently.
So, his response was rational and my reaction to it came from the deeper well of my childhood watching my father ignore and detach from my mother who was likewise depressed and crazy.
BH also refused to do counseling with me through my PPD because he saw the problem as primarily mine (it was) and that he didn't want to be made out to be the problem when it really was mine to work on. This mirrored all the times my mother tried unsuccessfully to drag my father into counseling to work on their marriage. We even went on a few family sessions together as kids. My dad mostly sat back and smirked because he thought my mother was the crazy one and he was fine. My mother was crazy, but she was made crazier by my father's lack of willing participation in her healing and his active affairs throughout the marriage. Oh, and the sister who abused me developed anorexia from being my mother's whipping post and the emotional neglect from my father. I happened to be her convenient target for venting her rage at my parents. Childhood was fun. It's a miracle we survived and are still talking as sisters.
So, when BH refused counseling and marriage retreats (for years and years and years of me asking) it was a logical response of his to me not fixing my stuff first with the PPD and his desire to not be painted by me as the bad guy, when clearly he wasn't- he was sane, rational and healthy and trying to cope with a wife who was none of those. His response mirrored that of my father's, but the reasons were rational and justified? He also did not want to go on vacations together alone or spend time at retreats alone when he didn't enjoy his time with me since I was so angry all the time.
Then, when he became emotionally attached to my good friend at our prayer group, that too mirrored my father's years-long affair with our close family friend. My mother got to watch my father carrying on, putting his arm around, leaning over into, gazing longingly at, laughing at jokes only they understood and generally thinking she was brilliant (he even praised her cooking over my mothers!). I got to watch as my husband slowly started seeking my friend's company, attention, and approval. Slowly watched as he would stare longingly at, lean over to and make laugh my friend. Got to live through negative comparisons in appearance (you should grow your hair as long as hers, get highlights like hers, go shopping with her so you can get clothes like hers, go shopping for house decor like hers, get her recipes because she's such a better cook than you, her kids are so well behaved, you should learn how to parent like her, she is so spiritual, we should pray like her family does). All this so I could more closely model the woman who would be the most pleasing wife to him.
Didn't matter at that point who I was as his wife or what I was going through that made me so hard to be around, I was expected to model my reactions and responses to better control his emotional responses to me so I wouldn't get put down constantly and abused... just like my dad used to tell me when I was having problems with my sister or the kids at school (they used to put dog food in my lunches, bark when I tried to talk in class, throw rulers at me, when I was older, I was told I was ugly, stupid and disgusting). Yeah, my marriage mirrored the situation I had growing up. The negative responses, hurt feelings and reactions of others were again, in response to my failure to be pleasing.
I watched this happening and panicked- I did NOT want to live through an affair shoved in my face like my mother did. It was when my husband said that the only reason I switched jobs so much (the one point I really valued myself is on the level of work I am capable of), was because I would jump positions before they would fire me. That I was incapable of maintaining a job and that I left because I was incompetent. That, combined with his behavior with my good friend, snapped something inside. That is when I should have asked for a divorce, but at that point, I felt so worthless (bad mother, unattractive, bad cook, bad homemaker, bad Christian), that I wondered if anyone would ever want me again and I did not want to be lonely.
So, my husband's attachment mirrored that of my father's to my mom's good friend. Only his was borne out of great respect for her (she is a good mom, cook, homemaker, Christian and is beautiful). That it "NEVER would have turned physical" . He's insulted that I thought it would even go in that direction. He became so attached to her because I was so angry all the time, so insecure, and always so tired at the end of the day that I would go to sleep around 10 (so I could get up at 5 for work...). He was lonely without my companionship and was depressed at what our marriage had become and wanted me to be more like her so he could be happier in our marriage. So, unlike my father (who may actually have had similar reasons for pursuing his LTA), he was seeking companionship with a woman he greatly respected and admired.
Flash forward to this year. He's had a rough year, watching me struggle through my depression, anxiety, self hatred, FOO issues, suicidality and still somehow hold down a job, keep the kids fed and cared for, keep the house somewhat sanitary and manage to somehow keep living. 2020 SUCKS!!!!!!!!! Anyway, with all of this, there's a 3-4 day cycle of us having 2 good days, followed by a crap one or 2 days. Either my anxiety spikes, or I'll have a day of depression where I can't get out of the hole. Usually this is in response to him reminding me (after a good day or two) that the small things experienced (good dinner, good day out, good sex, good companionship, good hair/makeup/clothes) were not enough to ever pay him back and make right the hurt he's experienced. He's wondering when it is going to be about him.
This most recent one was a horrible one. I had panic attacks all day, hyperventilation, crying, fetal position for an hour on the floor, shaking hand the rest of the day and non-stop crying. It came after I had to be in office for 2 days to present at an industry conference (virtually- couldn't have background noise/distraction from kids and dog or unreliable internet). This was at my new campus, no one by myself, my boss and a handful of colleagues were there. I understood the keen anxiety he would be feeling that day and made it a point to be in near constant contact via skype or text, letting him know when I left to come home and when I got there. It wasn't enough (of course it wasn't!!!) to help him through his anxiety and stress having to deal with the kids for 2 days straight, his job, the dog and the TRAUMA I INFLICTED ON HIM.
The following day was ok, we got a beautiful lunch, walked around and enjoyed companionship with each other. We hung out as a family that night and had a good day. I visited the plastic surgeon for a lipo/breast procedure I was open to having for his benefit (and my own- not implants, just, um... rearranging the deck chairs?? ). It was a stressful experience for me, having my body handled by the surgeon (female) like it was well, what she actually deals with it as, meat. Her staff and herself were kind and warm in manner, seemed genuinely interested in my health and mental condition and weren't pressure selling the procedure. Still, having a stranger lift the things that are sagged and pointing out the bulge acquired, it's rough. I came home though and gave my family positive companionship and enjoyed the evening. I thought we had moved through the difficulty and were on our way to actually making traction on our relationship.
The day after that was when he asked for a divorce. He has had a long hard year, has worked too hard and too long to make this work, has done counseling, lived through my retaining a divorce attorney, feels like a chump for staying when so many others would have left, is terrified of having another year like last one and hasn't seen progress on me showing gratitude for his support and all the hardship he has lived through being married to me all these years. He said the only thing that was keeping him in the marriage over the years was the security he had in me and that it was gone. That what I was doing for him (saving for a watch just for him, applying and seeking new jobs, going before the plastic surgeon, cancelling divorce paperwork, constant contact and accountability, new clothes, hair, makeup, improving my mothering skills, seeking help and medicine and spiritual support to be a better wife, mother and person, owning my shit and taking responsibility for my actions, reducing defensiveness- work in progress there still- increasing calm while having emotional discussions, decreasing my anger and showing my pain instead) all of that was not enough to heal him from my affair. That the work I've shown has come too little too late. He said he wanted to start the paperwork so he would have the security of not having to endure another year such as he's had. That we could stop the divorce if things were going better and I was doing more to heal him.
Of course I don't get a chance to poor me for this as I had spoken to a divorce lawyer behind his back and done this exact same thing to him. In his panic he went to his father, called the counselor I found for him and became responsible financially (both to his dad and to me) to pay bills on time and stop his spending.
Right now, I'm processing this as best I can and not angry at him, am hurting for him as he's hurting and understanding where he's coming from as he's in a place of great pain. The deep physical reaction I had was to to abandonment I had as a child, the self blaming/loathing I was programmed with between my father (blame) and sister (loathing). During my panic attacks, he tried to comfort me with hugs and touch and I would flinch and curl up in a ball and hyperventilate. It was purely a physical reaction. That night, I asked him not to sleep with me, to not touch me and to leave me alone. He was worried I would be suicidal and followed me upstairs. I shrieked and cried for him to go away and he wouldn't leave. This mirrored the times when my sister would not respect my cries to stop, to leave me alone to go away and she wouldn't. She would keep on torturing me, calling me a piece of shit, telling me I was ugly, worthless, stupid, no common sense, no wonder I had no friends, that no one would ever want me because I was so stupid and ugly and awkward.
My husband's actions came from concern, my reaction came from my PTSD from my childhood. Not because he was trying to continue to control me, or abuse me with his talk of all the things I wasn't good enough at and therefore too painful to be with in a marriage.
That night I slept on the couch in the open with no door to give me assurance of him leaving me alone. He wanted the bed, needed to be assured he would not be locked out of our room. He left me alone after he was assured I was not going to harm myself. The next day I was calmer and we were better able to talk about it. He wants to pursue divorce paperwork now as it takes a year to process in my state, to go to a mediator to work on it together (as opposed to my unilateral retainer). I said to him the reality of the situation, we need a counselor to work on our communication. Either way, divorce or not, we needed to learn to work together for the sake of our children going forward. That I refused to be in a contentious divorce that would further harm the kids. He at one point said we could divorce now with the idea of getting together again in the future once we were healthier. I said that would not work- that if we divorced we would divorce. I would not put my kids through the back and forth hell my closest friend grew up in with her parents' married/divorced/married/divorced roller coaster. He balked at the joint counseling- that if we got divorced it would be unnecessary for him to work on a relationship that was dead, that he's done enough already. He said if we worked out that he didn't want to be made out as the bad guy and be blamed for anything after the affair. I said that I would not cooperate with the divorce paperwork without it. He said, fine, then we're going to have a divorce right now, right away. I kept my calm during the whole thing at great cost to me and said, it is a reality that if we are at this point that we need counseling, the accountability and professional perspective that it provides to sort through this in the least destructive manner possible. After we paused the conversation (I was overwhelmed and asked to stop before I became worse), I went into the basement, fetal position, crying and hyperventilating for over an hour. I had 4 panic attacks that day as he pursued the conversation over and over.
The next day, he wanted to hold me, comfort me physically with touch and hugs. He wanted to see me doing better and being better with his help- physically calming me with his touch. I told him it was very difficult for me to accept his touch and comfort as he was the one who had hurt me. That I doubted the reasons he wanted to comfort me. I asked him if he wanted to comfort me because he genuinely was concerned, or if he wanted to get rid of his own guilt over seeing me in the state I was in. He said it was because he was a caring person who wants to care for people when they're suffering.
That mirrored his dad's response to finding out about the affair, calling me disgusting (no wonder...) and saying the only reason he was being cordial and polite to me was because he is a cordial and polite person. None of my BH's response nor my FIL's response had anything to do with care for me as a person. My BH's response had nothing to do with him experiencing concern in particular that the anxiety and pain I was experiencing was because he was causing it.
Kind of like my lack of empathy and remorse the first 6months after the affair as I was reorganizing my thoughts, getting out of my mental illness and working on seeing BH from a new perspective.
So, I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact that, though my husband reacts and acts in similar manners to the way my father did and treated my mother, that he in fact is a good person, with right intentions, normal reactions to my mental illnesses and traumas and foolish pride. That my efforts are appreciated, but they're not enough. That he needs to see the desperation in my eyes and voice and action to fix this (after I had been desperate for his warmth, touch, support and approval all those years).
How do I reconcile the fact that he has hurt me so much over the years only through good intentions and natural reactions and that it is in fact my mental illness and insecurity and trauma from childhood that are to blame for his reactions, choices and it is up to me to adjust my behavior to suit him better in order for him to stay in the marriage. That he has made enough adjustments (becoming less critical of the children, more gentle in his corrections of me and no longer seeking out the company of other women he finds more appealing).
What do I do? I feel like I've been gaslighted my entire marriage and am experiencing a breakdown in my reality again. What do I cling to in this? My emotions and perceptions are so clouded my trauma from my family that I can't see my husband for what he says he is and that his actions are only for his best, the kids best and my best interests. I am having trouble trusting my instincts which tell me I'm being manipulated again and that he is causing this pain and trauma in me again only to so he can see him self as the healer again, the good person, the one who does the right thing always for the right reasons, regardless the cost to himself. How do I reconcile that with the real pain and trauma I am going through? How do I turn that into more empathy for him and the unmitigated gratitude that he wants from me (I do have gratitude- he has kept me from committing suicide several times over the past year).
How do I live in security and trust knowing that although I react adversely to his actions, that his intent is only my love and care?
9 comments posted: Monday, September 28th, 2020
why can't i just accept my failures and cherish myself in spite of them? why can't i just love myself in spite of all my weaknesses? why am i so dependent on my husband's good opinion of me for my own mental well being? why do i have to earn every bit of affection and care i get? why am i married to someone i know i'm just going to keep disappointing and keep needing to satisfy before i can be satisfied in myself.
anyway, just a vent after a rough day.
8 comments posted: Thursday, September 24th, 2020
growing, but apart?
Anyone find this happening? As you heal and they heal that you're growing apart and it's really not a fault on your (BS) part, nor is the differences really the WS fault, just you're finding yourselves to be different people?
What do you do as a WS to help your BS heal after everything when it's looking like you're not the right people for each other after all and that you likely shouldn't have been married in the 1st place? How do you make up for wasting their time and all the pain they've been through?
Not sure we should separate or if any of this is really without hope, just been having a rough month and wondering what to do to make it better for him.
23 comments posted: Thursday, July 16th, 2020
divorce?? building trust??
This might be a long one, I'm good at those . Tune it out if you don't want to be bored. BS, please, your input is needed.
Husband and I discussed divorce after I contacted a lawyer yesterday. Things are not moving forward, and I am at the limit of what I can work on in the marriage by myself without the outside help of MC for us and IC for him. Husband his wounded by my anger (after all the help and support he has given me recovering from my anxiety and depression), still doesn't trust me and does not want to be vulnerable with me in MC, and is having trouble opening up to a stranger in IC. It looked like we were going no where, so I called a lawyer and made an appointment to discuss D proceedings.
I gut punched him with this action, he was blindsided again as he was in the affair and again I had dropped a bomb on my husband.
I have been contemplating this move for a while. For the last 3 months I have been coming to my husband for MC for us and IC for him and clearly and calmly saying that I cannot any longer live in this financial distress. My requests went unheard, my husband is not satisfied my anger has gone away, has not acknowledged progress I have made and efforts I have put in to make myself safe for him. He does not see the anger and defensiveness eliminated and now with this move on my part, has lost trust in me again.
I need professional MC help to move us forward. He needs counseling to help him move forward. We need financial counseling from a dispassionate source to move us forward. This is the reality we were in, and he was not ready/willing to move on it because of my anger. We've been drifting apart, I've been shame spiraling, anxiety attacking and in general getting more depressed about the situation. He is depressed, hurting and feeling unheard and unloved and un-cared for.
We are both so unhappy. BH doesn't deserve to be unhappy anymore. I need help to move past all this, to learn how to be vulnerable to him without using anger as a shield. He needs the anger gone and trust rebuilt.
I found an IC for him and he has an appointment. I am looking for a MC for us. I'm calling the lawyer and cancelling my appointment. We are scheduling a financial planner.
What can I do in the mean time to drop the anger and build his trust in me?
31 comments posted: Friday, June 26th, 2020
Embarrasing s*** WS deal with
Just a vent. Had to deal with some anxiety inducing and shame inducing OBGYN stuff. Guilt over something potentially being transmitted to BH, only to find out I was clean and he had the cold sore version. I've had cold sores since I was 9. Looks like that form was lurking and waiting for a prolonged period of stress to come out.
Either way, all that emotional exhaustion, shame and embarrassment I went through on Monday/Tuesday is worth it if it gives him peace of mind.
It's the least I can do.
4 comments posted: Thursday, June 25th, 2020
Five stages of grief
Anyone here read up on 5 stages of grief and have any insight on how it applies to your own grief over:
-Loss of personal integrity in affair
-Loss of innocence in marriage
-Loss of esteem/respect of spouse
-Loss of spouses sense of safety and self worth
The 5 stages were:
I seem to be cycling between the anger, depression and bargaining stages. Much like an item can circle the drain...
4 comments posted: Thursday, June 18th, 2020
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 that…) 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 there…) 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 wasn’t 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.
16 comments posted: Saturday, June 13th, 2020
Boundaries and Reconciliation
Question for those trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild the relationship. I'm feeling anxious about things and need to sift out my reasoning- I need to find out if I'm making decisions based on entitlement or out of legitimate self preservation. Please help me clean up my head .
What do you do when your own poor boundaries- with husband in marriage and AP in affair- were one of the direct causes of the breakdown?
I had poor boundaries in the marriage because it was easier for me to not stand up for myself (enable) since disagreement was terrifying to me- I was afraid of his rejection if I stated a real need and remained firm in it. Then I would use that boundary being ignored (I would bring it up and not enforce it) as an excuse to either get mad or complain (and play victim). This lead to me resenting my hubby and then feeling entitled to an affair. Now that I'm moving away from the enabling behavior that I used to permit me to have an affair, I'm anxious over my choices. Now that I'm examining my "whys" and what allowed me to justify an affair, I'm finding it difficult to place appropriate boundaries within my marriage without my spouse feeling like I'm being selfish or "not playing as a team."
The boundaries currently center around finances and the level of anxiety I had from the horrible state they were in- he has more resources than I in that department, and belittled me frequently when I brought my anxiety to him over utility shut offs and foreclosure notices. While I am giving my all into the financial well being of the marriage (I make 6 figures), I have begun to set aside a small allowance for my own use. Really it's for my own reassurance that I won't be without gas money or money for food or money to pay our utilities if they get shut off again. It keeps my anxiety at bay to have a small pool of cash I can rely upon in extremity.
I am not pursuing this as a form of entitlement, it really is to keep me free of the anxiety and depression (from feeling helpless about the finances), and also free of the resentment I had allowed to build in our early marriage over these issues. I'm doing this to preserve my sanity and for the benefit of our relationship.
Unfortunately, he sees it as me drawing a hard line and not accommodating him and pulling away, when I'm really trying to make sure I am calm enough and feel safe enough to give myself to him. We have had numerous discussions about this where I have made it clear this is about me eliminating my anxiety and resentment towards him, not about me not caring for him. He reacts as though I am not all in for the marriage and is hurting through this all because of the affair I chose to have.
He wants me to "do whatever it takes" when that looks like me having no say in finances (and he's shown irresponsibility there, and I've definitely ENABLED IT). My reality sense is that I am contributing my all (within my limitations for mental health) and that any further going into debt on my part (to pay him back for further output from family money to keep foreclosure at bay) will create resentment from me and endanger myself should we end up divorcing. I do not have the resources he has and I am keeping very little ($50 every 2 weeks) for my self. If I continue to enable this behavior I will continue to resent him and continue to be anxious and continue to not be the woman that I know I need to be for the sake of my recovery and the sake of us having a R at all.
In the past too, I have cashed out my retirement savings with each job move in order to finance real estate projects, so no savings there. I've also given over inheritance monies of my own to pay bills, so have no money there. I am in credit card debt up to my limits since I use them for things like groceries, kids dr visits and the occasional present I want to surprise hubby with. In all, I have one 401k with which to pay him back, while he has considerable family money on his side to keep us afloat in these times.
What do boundaries look like for those in R? Especially when it comes to remedying the background issues within the marriage? How is it best for a WS to handle the changes they need to make for their own integrity (I don't want to be back in that desperate place I allowed myself to fall into that lead me to accept and encourage advances of AP), sanity or just plain well being? What do you do in general when you're a people pleaser at heart and terrified of rejection from stating real needs? I am posting this here as I am quite anxious over standing my ground about my personal allowance and other financial issues as I know how hurt my spouse is and how this would continue to hurt him. I know what I am doing is right for me, even though my husband is struggling. It is just hard for me to watch him struggle with it without doing something to appease his discomfort.
17 comments posted: Wednesday, June 10th, 2020
Anyone got tips for getting out of the shame spiral?
Or does anyone remember where that thread went?
Could use some help on that lately.
5 comments posted: Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
More for wayward wives than wayward husbands, unless the guys can relate too?
Has anyone here been dealing with body issues? If so, how did you combat negative self talk? What worked for you when confronting a negative/ critical partner over the issue of your physical appearance? How much should we reasonably change in our appearance to please our partners anyways (besides basic hygiene/health concerns)??
I'm going to vent here a bit, feel free to skip it if you've got something to say about the above questions. Been cooped up with only my own thoughts for company!!
One of the problems I tried to "solve" with the affair was a negative image I held of my body. It's been tough lately, I've had some health issues that make it hard for me to exercise, and I'm definitely feeling the effects of eating away the day with the corona virus confinement (was hospitalized over the weekend for the health problem, don't think I have the illness, but who knows- son has asthma, so I'm quarantining in my room)! In reality, I'm in good shape for my age and am a reasonably attractive woman with a tidy figure and pleasant features. Not Karadashian, but not homely either.
I have trouble in my own mind with constant internal criticism for the "flaws" I do have (gotta love the negative self talk and FOO issues!) and the lovely culture we live in with media bombardment of "flawless" women we are supposed to be like (because if we're not, we're unworthy...). We also live in a wealthy area where cosmetic surgery is rampant and image is VERY important (even within our own parish!!!). This was bearable up to a point in my marriage, as my spouse was usually enthusiastic with our lovemaking, which I took for his acceptance of my body as "attractive" or "worthy" of him. He was never verbal with his praise though, which for me made it VERY difficult to process. It usually ended up looking like he wanted sex (any one would do?) and not ME.
The year our marriage hit the rocks before the affair though, he began comparing me to other, more slender/highlighted/larger chested/better dressed (w/ better budgets to maintain said look) women, making comments on the size of my calves (I run, and in general get pretty jacked for a woman when I work out- my body doesn't lose weight- just turns fat into muscle!) and was encouraging me to get a boob job (I nursed our 2 kids- you know how that goes!). On top of that, he was asking me to get blonde highlights to the point where my hair wouldn't be brown, but blonde (I like my hair color! Why do I have to "fix" that for him to like me??) I felt rejected, unsexy and unloved and looked to fill the hole with attention from the affair partner.
Looking back now, I could have instead got counseling to fix my inner negative dialogue and called my husband out for being an insensitive prick about nitpicking his otherwise attractive, healthy size 4 wife! The affair fixed nothing- just added more gasoline to the dumpster fire of my mind. Things are coming around now, he's starting to realize that it's not enough for him to just stop comparing me to other women, "stop nitpicking" and criticizing my appearance, but to actually make some positive comments on it. He's realizing (I think) that it's not enough to stop hacking away at the self image of your loved one with a razor (that's what it felt like when he'd try to "correct my appearance"). You have to help heal the wound with positive reinforcement. (Something I'm just beginning to do for him on my end w/ the affair!)
On my end, I've worked to dress in more attractive ways and gotten my hair highlighted. We've also reworked our budget to the point where I can maintain all that as well (nice clothes are hard to find in the bargain bin at Target, and blonde highlights on dark brown hair take hours in a salon chair and hundreds of dollars to maintain). I've also taken to wearing more makeup he likes (again, budget was adjusted to accommodate costs). He's since been better and more attentive in giving me positive feedback about my appearance. It's starting to heal the resentment I had toward him and his views on my body.
I'm still struggling though- there's been so much damage growing up from abuse handed down from my sister (who got it from my mom- I mean, where does an 8 year old get the idea to torment a 6 year old over being "fat"????), from the damage to my own self esteem in middle school when I got to listen to other boys my age talk endlessly about how hot my sisters were (and not me?? what about me?? you're talking to ME!). I learned in high school, once the braces were off, the hair somewhat tamed and the figure less scrawny, that I was attractive to boys. It was the first time I felt seen by anybody, and from then on always had to date someone to make up for the voices in my head telling me I'm ugly fat and stupid (how could I be ugly fat and stupid when X wants me around?).
Looking back, this body negativity and insecurity in my own self worth was definitely a vulnerability of mine. It didn't help too that my coping mechanism was getting the attention of men so I could justify my worth by being "attractive" to them.
One of the lies told in the affair by my affair partner was that I was just fine the way I was (with cheap ill fitting clothes, limited make up and no highlights and flat chest and muscular body). I needed to hear that so badly at that point, had given up on my husband ever appreciating me as I was, that I thought I had to secure the line of compliments by getting physical with AP. All lies. He only told me what I needed to hear so he could sleep with me .
Did any other waywards out there get deeper into the affair to "fix" their own feelings about themselves?
8 comments posted: Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
Family of origin reminders/triggers in marriage
So, if you've figured out that your issues in your marriage stemmed mainly from your reactions to your husband's reactions (I would lose my temper and he would retreat, withhold and list things for me to work on), where do you go from there?
I grew up in an emotionally abusive home. My father was largely absent and usually lectured me on all the things I was doing wrong socially that would put me in the situations I was in (I was heavily bullied in middle school). That taught me that it was my fault they were bullying me (I guess I fed into it by reacting to it at all?? I mean, WTF? I was 12!). Since it was my fault I was being bullied, I should just learn to accept being treated like garbage, or learn to defend myself (with anger and defensiveness). Especially since he never stepped in to do it for me.
My mother would play favorites to the extent that I was the golden child and my one sister was "evil". That told me that if I didn't do JUST as she said, I would be considered "evil" too. People to her are pretty binary, either good or bad. I've spent some time on her "bad" list for marrying my husband and becoming Catholic at all, so I know first hand now how it feels to be the "evil" daughter. Watching her fawn over me and reject my sister taught me that I had to be perfect or else I would be deprived of love, affection and all the other things I wanted in life (attention, not being grounded...). Talk about anxiety inducing. I was also her emotional comforting blanket for when my dad cheated on her too.
My one sister would take the abuse she received at the hands of my mother and turn it on me. Calling me fat, ugly, worthless piece of shit. I was fed on a steady diet of this as a middle schooler, along with the occasional physical abuse from her too (cigarettes stubbing out on arms). That taught me that women can't be trusted to be friends and that you can't rely on anyone (especially family) to treat you well or support you. Also taught me to think of my self as she described me... worthless.
Fast forward to our marriage, and I come into it sensitive to criticism, anxious with perfectionism, and with low self esteem. How does husband respond when I lose my temper or act unreasonably? With criticism, withdrawal and withholding. Criticism, because he wants me to know better how to be a loving wife to him and pleasing to him. Withdrawal because of my underlying anger hurting him all the time and with holding of affection because I exhausted him with my arguing and demands for affection that never seemed enough.
Which all fed into my emotional reflexes of anxiety over being perfect (who can be???), abandonment from my father (who never stuck up for me- I mean really, be a dad and call the other kids' parents! Show up at school! Talk to the principal for crying out loud!), and the terror of losing any affection and support from him for not pleasing him (ala my mother's modus operandi- she takes away her affection until she sees you are fit to receive it). That all just confirmed to me that I was the piece of shit my sister always said I was.
Sigh. So, hubby really only wanted me to get better as a spouse for him, did the withholding and withdrawal as a coping mechanism to deal with my anger. Never did it because he despised me or thought I was a piece of shit.
Only, his with holding and withdrawal mirrored those of my mother's and implied he thought I was unworthy of him. His criticisms just piled up and told me that the problems in our family were all my fault (like my dad would tell me) because I just did things wrong all the time. Meanwhile he would withhold his affection and withdraw his kindness from me (depriving me of any positivity to counter the criticisms).
No wonder I was vulnerable to an affair- I was so angry at him for being like them.
Only I didn't have to choose an affair- I could have chosen to divorce instead.
So, knowing all that, how do you work through your reactions to your husband's reactions without expecting him to change for you? How do you make it ok to be in a relationship with someone who doesn't intend to emotionally abuse you like your family did growing up, but whose behavior patterns put you right back in that situation every time something goes south? I've tried detaching my sense of worth from his validations and have been going to God to get more support from Him, but that's only going so far- in Catholic marriages, we're supposed to be living examples of God's love for us. So does God want us to be emotionally abused, even unintentionally? I don't think so, which is where all my anger and rage came from.
How do you make peace with a marriage to a well intentioned but emotionally clumsy person with limited resilience in the face of strong emotion?
4 comments posted: Monday, February 24th, 2020
Digging for Whys
So, been a while since I've posted. Been through the mill with major depressive episode, anxiety attacks, suicidal ideation, flu, sinus infections... you name it, the mask finally came off the shit storm of worries I was holding inside. Got a good IC therapist, finally on some good meds and just now able to look around and see where we really are.
And that's on the verge of divorcing... get to that later.
As for my why's, I've come to find out that due to FOO I've felt insecure about my own value and worth and used various things (academic, job and worldly success and later "spiritual understanding") as ways to win approval of various other people in my life (mother, father, finally husband and his family). Turns out my father had affairs on my mother, belittled her enormously and enabled her crazy behavior (her temper tantrums and screaming and name calling). So, I turn out to fall for a man who I allow to belittle me and enable via making financially unsound decisions. Sometimes I think my dad would provoke my mom into her tempers so he could sit back and say to himself, "see honey, you're just overly emotional and therefore anything you have to say is worthless." Which was exactly what my husband does to me...
Sooooo... felt devalued and worthless in his eyes, anxious over finances and felt powerless to change anything, NEEDED validation and someone to pursue me. Along comes AP with his sweet talking ways, understanding kindness and LOTS of compliments. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but at that point in the marriage, I no longer cared. And that's the thing I've got to work on- feeling so powerless to change anything and so hopeless of ever being good enough for my husband that I would be willing to go behind his back to get what I need instead of challenging him up front and making changes for myself.
It's really eye opening lately, reading the covert narcissism and codependent pages here... it looks like he's covertly narcissistic (nothing I do is ever good enough, not allowed to "feel" a certain way about something, constantly invalidated in my opinions and worth) as well as my own level of abuse to him- jealousy of his carefree spending, jealous of the women he gave his respect to and jealous of those women he compared me to. We have both been abusive to each other to a certain extent.
Only now, after being in IC, I'm learning I don't have to rage like my mother or enable like my father, that I can assert myself in the relationship. This makes my husband upset and insecure. He wants me to do everything for him to make him feel better- dye my hair, wear heavy makeup, plan date nights, show more interest in building the basement. All of these are good things. I've done the date nights, makeup, etc, but each time it's not enough for him. Each time he says that they are selfish in the way I do them. I suppose I am trying to reconnect with who I am and see if he can connect with me as I am, so I plan an outing with a concert I like, a dinner he likes and wear the hair/makeup/dress he likes. Because I put the concert in there, I'm selfish and doing the whole thing for me. I also find it hard, after long days at work and cleaning and cooking and homework with the kids to be interested in building in the basement when the work I do is not to his standard, or there is little for me to actually do. So, I don't go down there and help him. That is selfish. Can't get around that.
He wants to feel a sincere apology for what I've done. I've begged him on my knees not to go, cried, ended friendships, gone NC with other ex-male-coworkers, started pursuing friendships with female co-workers instead and in general examined why I do things and why I talk to the people I talk to. I've stopped complaining to my female friends about him (although I do still share difficulties with my sisters who love him and my best friend who likewise loves him). I've worked very hard to get where I am. Now I'm at the point where, when he says I don't make him feel loved or feel appreciated or feel like I'm sorry, I stop the conversation, remind him of the apologies and or changes I've made, and remind him that "I can't MAKE you feel something." And refuse to get baited into the dynamic where he PUSHes and PUSHES and PUSHES me until I snap and go crazy yelling like my mom did. I remind him of this too when he claims I'm too unemotional- I say to him that I'm trying to change the way we interact, that I'm feeling a lot on the inside, but I don't like becoming a crazy yelling monster and am keeping a tight reign on my temper. I do remind him that, if he likes, I can yell again if that makes him feel better... but in the end, all it does is make me feel disappointed with myself and put me further in the hole.
My husband says my actions are shit and my words are shit (and he has good reason to), but then wants me to make him feel loved and appreciated and to heal him. I tell him I feel like I'm at the bottom of a well holding a spoon and he's asking me to dig myself out. He wants me to things for him selflessly and unconditionally, but I don't think I have it in me to give like that. I've told him that I can only give to him out of what I have as a person (ie: share the interests I have, listen and share in on his and generally encourage each other to be better people).
I feel like for so much of our relationship, I've put my interests (ie: concerts) as a backseat to his interests (ie: clay shooting, which I do enjoy) and put his "needs" (fanciest house in family, impractical and unaffordable sport car) over my needs (paying bills on time and not getting said car repoed and or having foreclosure notices in the mail and shut off utilities). I think that's where the resentment came from- all the anxiety I swallowed over the unsafe financial situation (the kids' school wasn't going to let us re-enroll until we paid our bills- my kids were going to be kicked out of school!!). It lead to resentment. I resented my husband so much (and still do since the situation has not changed financially, nor will in the near future) and felt so enmeshed and helpless to get out that I decided it was ok for me to have an affair (since he got the car...)
Sigh. All this to say, the finances, the belittling, the discounting have all not changed. I'm coming into an understanding of the holes in my soul and doing what I can do and need to do to patch them. I can definitely do more to make myself a safe partner. I'm going to read the "how to help your spouse heal from an affair" and "not just friends" to better understand what I can do for him. It's been about 6 months since DDay and definitely not been a straight line since then. Finally feel well enough to tackle my end of the business in regards to what is owing to him.
At the end though, will it be enough? We are seriously contemplating divorce right now because of my lack of "selfless giving" and submission to him, my remaining distrust and anger toward him (how can you submit your will to someone who puts you down and neglects to make you feel safe??). He feels the relationship is very one sided (he gives and gives... what I see as appropriate levels of care for children and spouse are taxing to him) and doesn't feel the same from me. Whenever I try to give to him of myself, it's not what he wants. If he doesn't want what I have to give, then what are we really doing together??
I don't need validation so much from outside sources, God made me who I am and is pleased with His work, I'm trying to make my life more of a gift to Him as a way of being thankful to Him for making me. At the same time, if my husband ultimately doesn't want what God's put in me, should I stay?
Stay or go... Any thoughts?
5 comments posted: Sunday, February 2nd, 2020