(A few years out from DDay now, just for clarification).
This is a FOO issues success story, but it comes with the pain before the success.
For St. Valentine's day, I did get flowers, I did get gifts, I did get a lot of heavenly chocolate to eat the day after, (we are Catholic, and Ash Wednesday fell on St. Valentine's Day. And, no, I didn't give up Chocolate for Lent...I gave up listening to people who bring me down. Sooo nice to take a break from them.)
THE PAIN: But, a few weeks ago, I had expressed how much I felt a cumulative deficit of things that I felt the xOW received, and his family frowned on if he expressed affection, so it wasn't lovingly snd freely given to me over the years.
In the affair year, he took time to compliment the xOW, encourage her, tell her how amazing she was. In his family, a husband doesn't say those things to his wife. And definitely doesn't say anything about her looks or sensuality. That is shallow to need or want. That is focus on women as feminine and men as having power by complimenting them. (Yeah...they actually think those things). Men are only to compliment the women on their service to community and their advancements in career.
Equally, a husband should not expect any compliments from his wife. He is not to be commended for his accomplishments or status. Only if he supports causes the women in the family are involved in.
THE TRUTH! I want my husband's mind, eyes and heart. Turns out he wants that in return too. We want to hear it and see the desire expressed with reminders.
But I grew up seeing that in my family, and he did not.
So, you can imagine what I felt when I saw the texts saying all the things he was raised and taught to never say to me. But I had spent years of trying to give to him.
And, he has been trying since we started counseling, to change that habit. To say nice things. But it seems prompted, only to the point of "the effort has been made".
I do notice the effort, but my mind replays how he exchanged compliments and encouragement easily with the xOW. How, for two decades, with his ever present family, he couldn't kiss me, put an arm around me or tell me that I looked nice if they were anywhere in earshot
(which was pretty often). How, until the affair, the only compliments I would get were before we made love - and they were not the ones I was craving and what the xOW heard. Sexy compliments are nice, but a wife needs the romantic and admiring ones too.
A few weeks ago, cleaning out a closet, I came a cross some items I had bought to try to be attractive and beautiful in his eyes - during the affair year. It was so painful!
I decided to throw them out, and he came across the bag I was putting them into. He asked why - that he liked these on me. (That was as close as he came to the compliment. "liked")
I lost it. I told him how much it hurt that I had gone to such effort to wear things and be attractive to him all these years. To be the "ultra" wife and mom in every way I could....and the xOW got the feedback that had been mine as a wife!
That in the years prior to the affair, if I had said I needed to hear those things, he had said that he wasn't made that way. That if I commended him too much, he resented it because it made him ashamed that he couldn't say it back, and his family didn't agree with my complimentary style.
So....then....Why? Because in secret at his work, with a pretend work wife - it was easy, private and fun....because marriage is public, and his family was so invasive, he was ashamed to be that way.
His family made him ashamed to be and act like a husband should...and I took the emotional beating for it. It was why every angle the IC and MC looked for on what I did to push him away didn't work. His source of pain and loneliness was created by his own family. Not me.
That I gave to him what he needs in my compliments, attention and admiration, also made him ashamed.
I fulfilled the role of the wife, he was shamed for the role of the husband. And the "secret wife" became his balm for the pain.
Why would I keep that memory? Why should I want him to see me in that memory on me?
Yes - I threw the clothing away and explained in painful detail why.
No further conversations happened.
THE GOOD STUFF: But, for St. Valentines day, he wrote out description after description of how beautiful, sexy and attractive I am. He also wrote what an amazing wife and mother of intellect, faith and creativity I am. And he wrote about how sweet and loving I am. He wrote about how others admire me.
AND he wrote about how my acts of forgiveness - even for little things - were something he never knew existed in other people.
He wrote the words....That I am "the love of his life".
He wrote it so I would always have that proof in my hands. Like she had. Only he wrote and described so much more.
It made the few affair texts he sent to her look like old rotten apples that fell from the giant tree of his emotions, that turned to mold and worms in the shade. All the other apples are sweet, ripening and mine to eat any time I want.
THE TAKE WITH TRUTH:
In reconciliation, you may not ever be able to forget. Forgiveness may be an act to choose to not harm because of your pain, but to want what is healthy and good for you and your spouse. It can be so painful and difficult to choose healing roads.
But if you keep communicating and working together on what marriage should be, you may get more back than the xAP ever was given.
It is very vulnerable to tell your wayward why you hurt and what was taken from you. It can leave me shaking. They may not give it back.
It also (falsely) feels selfish to want what the xAP had and more - but in reality, IT IS NOT SELFISH, it was yours to have all along. And your spouse may not even know how badly you want it, especially if they were never taught to be that way in married life.
They can't try if they do not know what you feel deprived of.
(I will confess the deep desire to show that letter to my in-laws, and to tell them this is what real marriage looks like. I won't though - pointless and would sap me of my joy as they scoffed at it and shamed him. But I will show the appropriate parts to our kids and their spouses when they marry....I can't change my in-laws, but I can try to stop the cycles with our own kids.)
Hope, prayers and hugs to all of you reconcilers.
[This message edited by uxorpatricius at 11:21 AM, February 23rd (Friday)]