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Wayward Side :
The process of discovering our true "Why's"


 DaddyDom (original poster member #56960) posted at 10:15 PM on Thursday, January 18th, 2018

There are some posts that I keep finding myself wanting to write, simply because I felt so damn lost and clueless after D-day and couldn't understand the advice people were trying to give me. I was offered advice such as, "Fix your own shit" and "Sit in it for a while", however these statements didn't make much sense to me at the time. How exactly does one "fix their own shit" and what does that even mean? Is there a "fix your shit" support group in my area? :) My hope is that WS's who are asking the same questions that I did can get some sense of what these things mean and how to start approaching them.

One of the first questions that enters every BS's head on D-day (and pretty much every day from there on out) is "Why?" and "How?".

"Why did you do this?"

"How could you have done this?"

A lot hinges on answering these questions, and getting down to the real, core issues behind them. A WS can't really begin to work on themselves (i.e. fix their own shit) until they understand themselves better, and know what truly led to them making the choices and decisions that they did. I would also suggest that reconciliation in the marriage can't really begin either until this process of discovery has at least begun and gotten some traction. In order for the WS to become a safer partner and a better, less dangerous person, they need to first understand how and why they got themselves into this mess in the first place, and that my friends, is going to take determination, courage, humility and a whole lot of effort.

The how/why question is a popular topic on SI and I'm sure it will pop up again, but I'd like to throw my hat into the ring and share with you my experiences and opinions on the subject.

A very common response to this question (from WS's) is "Because I wanted to". This is a popular response because it is hard to deny, seems reasonable, encompasses a sense of ownership and provides an end point to the topic that all roads seem to lead to. But in my personal opinion, it is none of those things. It is step one on a road of a thousand steps, and ultimately removes all responsibility from the WS to dig deeper and figure out what's broken. It is like reading the last page of the book and finding out the answer to the mystery, but leaving out the all important steps needed to figure out how we arrived at that answer, and how we are sure that's the correct answer to begin with. In other words, it's a little like suggesting that taking an aspirin is the correct step to take regardless of the ailment. It's not, and just because it helps make the pain go away temporarily in no way means the cause of the pain has been dealt with.

In order to get to our true "why's", there needs to be process of self-discovery that involves questioning and re-questioning our motives, particularly our coping skills for dealing with grief and stress, and our relationship values and methods. More importantly, an open and inquisitive mindset is needed in order to look beyond the obvious. Every affair starts with a justification, a reason we give ourselves that makes the affair "okay" to have. Initially, we tend to blame our spouses, our relationships, our families, our jobs, a lack of happiness, a lack of sex, whatever... there is always some excuse that precedes an affair. Here's the thing however... and new WS's, you probably aren't going to like this... even if your excuse is completely valid and real (and it usually isn't) it doesn't matter. At all. You could be in the most loveless, sexless, toxic and meaningless relationship ever. If so, that is a very valid and concerning problem that needs to be addressed, however it has NOTHING to do with your choice to have an affair. Period. The sooner you understand this, the sooner progress can be made.

A good example of this is a riot mentality. Take a look at any riot footage you can find on the internet or in publications. The riot always begins in response to some social or political injustice which leads to protest. You'll see a lot of people with signs full of statements and slogans, people shouting and trying to make their voices and opinions heard, people full of emotion, ready to fight for what they believe to be fair and right and true and good in this world. While messy, all of that is a perfectly rational, reasonable and even healthy way to deal with conflict and injustice. BUT... that's not all that is going on. There are also people in the fringes who choose to flip over cars, break into stores and steal merchandise, or beat people up in the streets. What does destroying or stealing property have to do with solving an injustice? The answer is... nothing. Absolutely nothing. The people that do these things allow themselves to go down a path that is completely illogical and self-serving. How does an injustice in any way necessitate stealing a TV? How does flipping a car solve any problem or debate? It doesn't. In that same way, how does having an affair, lying to your spouse and children or risking an STD meant to improve, resolve or repair the problems in your marriage? It doesn't. Yet, it is what you chose to do. The trick now is to figure out what line of thinking and feeling got you there.

An affair is always a symptom of a larger problem. Regardless of the length or type of affair, there is still a core defect in the WS that allowed them to justify and pursue a physical and/or emotional relationship that was wholly inappropriate. How did you get from, "I'm unhappy" to "The best thing for me to do is to lie to everyone and have a tawdry relationship with an outsider"? The answer to that question lies somewhere in the way that you view yourself, your own worth, your own needs, the way you cope with stress and grief and loss, and the ideals and values you carry. Affairs are always about YOU, the WS. They are not about your spouse, or your marriage or the AP's. An affair is a choice. It is an action. Short of someone putting a gun to your head and making you do it, there is no external justification that makes that choice okay. You need to own that.

Which brings us back to the "why". No one has an affair simply because they were bored and nothing was good on TV that day. We become vulnerable to an affair (or any bad decisions and behaviors) when we allow ourselves to compromise our own self worth and dignity. Every affair starts with a need that, for whatever reason, is unfulfilled. Whether is it an EA, a PA, a ONS or an LTA, we each begin with some need that we believe cannot be fulfilled on our own. Maybe we need love or attention? Maybe we need to feel attractive or special? Maybe we hate ourselves and need to self-punish? Maybe we feel entitled to more than we have? Maybe we are just that selfish and uncaring? No matter what the reason however, there is a deeper meaning to search for. That deeper reason is whatever path and circumstances that led you to this point.

The minute you hid your first text or email, the moment you decided to not tell your spouse about that flirty conversation you had, the second you lied about where you were and what you were doing... you knew what you were doing was wrong. Even if you had yourself convinced that your actions were totally justified, you still knew it was wrong. Having an affair isn't like picking up a gallon of milk at the market. It is not something everyone does. It is not okay. Despite the lies you told yourself in order to make yourself feel better about doing it, it still felt wrong, and with every step taken to conceal, hide, lie and betray to cover up your secrets, the "wrongness" compounded exponentially. Why did you allow this? What made you care so little about your own integrity and the welfare of the people in your life that you love, that you still decided to carry all those lies and betrayals?

In order to figure out how we got here and what drove us to this point, there needs to be a reckoning and an understanding of ourselves, our true authentic selves. Looking in the mirror is hard. Owning the fact that we did horrible things is even harder. No one wants to be the bad guy. No one wants to think of themselves as any less than a good and decent person. We tell ourselves that we love ourselves, our kids, our spouse, our neighbors. We tell ourselves that we are good people despite the affair, because we donate to charity, or coach little league, or go to church, or cook dinner for the family. We look for proof of our goodness by pointing out how wonderful we are, how our co-workers think we're great, how our priest says we're a pillar of the community, how our kids hug and kiss us goodnight. So how did such a great, stable, wonderful pillar of the community end up living a double life and doing things that no reasonable person would view as wonderful in any way?

Start by acknowledging the reason that first comes to mind. "Because I wanted to" is fine, but whatever reason you told yourself during the affair is best. Brene Brown (Rising Strong, get it, read it) calls this the SFD (Shitty First Draft). Now, once you have that reason in mind, ask yourself "Why?" you came to that conclusion. There may be more than one answer to that question, and if so, good! Write them all down if you need to. Once you have all your reasons to the original "why", ask "why" again for each of those reasons. Rinse and repeat.

In order to better explain this process, I'll give a simple example using a much more simple question.

Why did I eat a big breakfast this morning?

* I wanted to (why?)

* I was hungry (why?)

* I was bored

* I often confuse thirst with hunger

* I'm used to eating in the morning (why?)

* The people around me were eating - peer pressure - conforming to norms

* My family always ate breakfast in the morning, that's how I was raised (why?)

* I was taught it was important/required to eat in the morning for health and mental awareness

* I convinced myself that if I didn't eat breakfast then I couldn't function all day long

* I was made to feel badly if I didn't eat (e.g. kids are starving in Africa ya know)

* Guilt - my mom worked hard to cook that meal

* Guilt - my dad worked three jobs to make ends meet

* Respect - how does it make your mother feel when you don't eat what she worked hard on?

* I paid for the food and don't want to waste food/money

* I eat my feelings (why?)

* I wake up feeling down (why?) and eating makes me feel happier (why?)

* I feel down all day long (why?) and so I overeat every meal in order to soothe myself

* Why do I feel down all day?

* Does eating all day make me feel better or worse about myself? Why?

* My parents gave me a lot of guilt about food and money and I took that guilt on myself (why?)

* I ended up eating even when I wasn't hungry because of the guilt, and that made me fat

* Being fat made me feel inadequate (why?)

* Feeling inadequate made me feel down about myself

* Feeling down about myself made me eat more, which started a cycle of eating to feel better while making things worse

* I lost confidence in myself because I felt fat (why?)

* I started to feel inadequate in other parts of my life as I retreated into myself

* In order to deal with the feelings of inadequacy I blamed others for my problems (why?)

* Blaming others for my problems turned into a coping skill

* I learned to avoid stress in my life by avoiding guilt and shame and conflict

* Not dealing with my real feelings made me angry and resentful and I started to hate myself

* Hating myself made me want to self-punish (why?)

* A great way to self-punish myself is to keep up, or even increase my overeating, proving to myself and everyone else what a fat loser I am

* Now that I'm an adult and a parent, I see myself teaching my kids to overeat just like I do

(Bonus)(Holy shit, I'm passing down the same guilt and shame my parents laid on me to my own kids, along with my own insecurities and hang-ups. I've literally come full circle and I'm repeating the abuse that I struggled with all my life, on my family)

I think that's far enough for now. The point I'm trying to illustrate here is to KEEP DIGGING. If we were able to get this far just talking about why we ate breakfast (and I assure you that's hardly the end of the things to consider), then I assure you there is more to be had in the effort to figure out why you had an affair. When you were a kid, did you see yourself being married someday? If so, did you see yourself being a cheater, a liar, an abuser? How did that happen? What went wrong? DIG!

This process of self-discovery needs to become a daily habit, a constant pursuit. As you uncover secrets about yourself, look for reactions within yourself, both emotional and physical. Are there issues that immediately make you cry, or cause you physical pain? Strong reactions usually indicate that a pain point has been encountered. Pain points are part of the framework on which our egos are built, and represent the weak links in the chain. Don't run from them, instead, lean into them, for they hold the clues to who you are and how you cope with grief and stress. If you get to a point where you aren't sure about your reasons and motivations, ask for help! Our spouses, friends, family and community often know more about our true selves than we do. Part of the process that turned us into liars in the first place was lying to ourselves in order to make ourselves feel better. It can often be hard to see past those self-lies. That's where other people can help immensely. For example, you tell yourself that you still loved your spouse during your affair. An outsider may help however by pointing out that running off and having a relationship with your co-worker doesn't seem like the actions of someone who loves their spouse as much as they profess to. Make it a habit to consider, really consider, everything proposed to you by others, especially your spouse. Even if you are 100% sure they are wrong, the mere fact that they mentioned it should be a clue to you that you are missing something vital. Assume, even if just for the moment, that what they said is true. Then with that in mind, figure out what "whys" led to that.

I'd like to take a quick moment here to talk about defensiveness. At many points in this process, you may find yourself getting angry and upset, and when that happens, we often get defensive. Please please please pay attention to your own defensiveness! It often means that there is a barrier that you need to breakthrough. Often that barrier is a lie or a justification you told yourself and that hurts too much to acknowledge. Here's the thing to keep in mind... a wayward mindset is a self-centered mindset. In other words, even when we think we are being empathetic (e.g. I want my spouse to be happy again) it is still really about ourselves (e.g. I can't be happy until my spouse is happy, then I'll feel better). By comparison, a remorseful mindset might focus on the spouse alone and your ownership in their well-being (e.g. Whatever my spouse needs to heal from my abuse, I'll do, even if it leads to my own detriment). Defensiveness is always about ourselves, what we want, what we believe. Defensiveness means that we have a new "why" to uncover! If it is important enough to get defensive about, then it's important enough to dig deeper on.

Since this post is already just shy of "War and Peace" in terms of length, I'll stop here, and save the "how to fix it" part for another day. For now, keep working on your self-discovery. When you do find what you feel to be an important "why", talk about it. Share it with your spouse, or on SI, or in IC/MC. Honestly, most of the time, just knowing the "why" is most of the battle. Once you understand your true motives and coping skills, then intercepting and changing them is easier.

Good luck in your search!

[This message edited by DaddyDom at 2:27 PM, January 26th (Tuesday)]

[This message edited by DaddyDom at 8:27 PM, Tuesday, January 26th]

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

posts: 1437   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017
id 8073978

skim4milk ( member #59161) posted at 2:28 AM on Friday, January 19th, 2018


This may very well be the best post I have ever read on this forum. I will be sharing this with my husband if that is okay with you. Thank you for sharing

Me: BS
Him: WS
Married 23 years
Three teenage sons
DDAY: October 26th, 2016
Working on recovery day by day
"The best way out is always through"
Robert Frost

posts: 64   ·   registered: Jun. 11th, 2017   ·   location: Midwest
id 8074117

EvolvingSoul ( member #29972) posted at 2:39 AM on Friday, January 19th, 2018

Great article, DaddyDom.

It took me a really long time to piece together the why. A lot of people talk about peeling the onion but for me it was more like untangling a very tangled up windchime. I could see large sections that were knotted up and I'd work on a section for a while but come to an impasse where I'd have to switch over to another section before being able to make progress on the first one. Some things were so tightly knotted and it was almost impossible to see how they were tangled, I just had to try pulling on different threads and see what was connected to what, going by feel so to speak. Other things were more loosely knotted and I could see what needed to happen to untangle it but it still took the process of patiently working through it. I think the process is actually still ongoing for me.

Thanks so much for writing this. It'll be a bumper I'm pretty sure.

Me: WS (63)Him: Shards (58)D-day: June 6, 2010Last voluntary AP contact: June 23, 2010NC Letter sent: 3/9/11

We’re going to make it.

posts: 2567   ·   registered: Oct. 29th, 2010   ·   location: The far shore.
id 8074124

Atacompleteloss ( new member #60688) posted at 3:45 AM on Friday, January 19th, 2018

Thank you so much DaddyDom for your post. There is so much wisdom in it! I am the BS and the why questions can't seem to be answered. I get "I don't know". "That wasn't me" etc. I appreciate your insight and explanations so much. We are in R - DDay 4 months ago - plugging away one painful day at a time!

posts: 37   ·   registered: Sep. 18th, 2017
id 8074155

2015sucked ( member #61258) posted at 5:08 AM on Friday, January 19th, 2018

DaddyDom, this post is amazing! You seem to "get" it! When I question my husband on the "why", I get, "I just got caught up in something I didn't know how to stop!" When I ask him to consider how I'm feeling I get, "Why can't you ever think about how I'm feeling?" It's still all about him....

Me; 57 on D-Day
FWH-61 on D-Day
D-Day 1; 11/29/15
D-Day 2; 3/31/16
D-Day 3; 5/31/16
Affair with COW

"If it's not alright in the end; it's not the end"

posts: 71   ·   registered: Nov. 1st, 2017
id 8074190

ISurvivedSoFar ( member #56915) posted at 6:03 AM on Friday, January 19th, 2018

Atacompleteloss - I so know what you mean. For some time this is the response I got:

I am the BS and the why questions can't seem to be answered. I get "I don't know". "That wasn't me" etc.

I got the "that wasn't me" so many times that it caused a lot of strife between Mr. ISurvived and me. I kept saying, "It was you." And then I'd get a confused look on his face. We went round and round and then one day someone from SI gave him some sound advice (and maybe a 2 x 4) and boom, he came out of it. Part of his realization also came from me pointing out a pattern of behavior to use addiction to avoid reality. No, he never was unfaithful before (that I know of), but he had a history of addiction prior to our relationship and indulged in things during our 20 year M that allowed him to avoid reality. The fact that he could also admit this was part of a pattern was the beginning of true remorse for him because he saw his unvarnished self probably for the first time.

So hang in there. I see that DaddyDom has evolved to a point where he can admit the depth of self-deception, and therefore come to grips with the reality that he's been living and has shaped his life until now. I hope the journey continues for him (thank you for this post DaddyDom) the same way that it does for EvolvingSoul. And the other little secret is in time we find ourselves as BS's on a similar journey which puts many of us in the co-dependent bucket which leads us down a similar path.

Sorry if this is a T/J.

[This message edited by ISurvivedSoFar at 12:06 AM, January 19th (Friday)]

DDay Nov '16
Me: BS, a.k.a. MommaDom, Him: WS
2 DD's: one adult, one teen,1 DS: adult
Surviving means we promise ourselves we will get to the point where we can receive love and give love again.

posts: 2836   ·   registered: Jan. 15th, 2017
id 8074206

brokensavage ( member #61035) posted at 6:42 AM on Friday, January 19th, 2018

Thank you so much for your unending help to all us wayward souls. Do you have any advice for Whys that don't start with "I wanted to"? Where do you start if you did Not want to? I imagine it's what people talk about when they say don't think about the things you wanted to get out of it, but on what allowed it to happen. Are you going to do a post on that?

posts: 176   ·   registered: Oct. 13th, 2017   ·   location: United States
id 8074214

ProudMimi ( member #61632) posted at 1:37 PM on Friday, January 19th, 2018

This is the key!! The WHYS are the key. I am a BS and I feel that if my WH can look deep and find his WHYS not only will our relationship be able to begin healing but I will hopefully be able to find some small trust in him again. I do feel that if he can figure out his WHYS, why he needs attention to validate himself and why this attention needed to come from someone other than myself, then I feel we stand a much greater chance at really starting to heal. I feel that if he finds out his WHYS it makes me believe that him betraying me will not happen again, this is SO important because for me the hard part is not only dealing with the past and what he has done to me and our family but the threat that if I allow myself to be vulnerable with him that it may happen again and if that it happens again that will be the end of this relationship. I will not do this again. So much rides on this.

posts: 57   ·   registered: Nov. 30th, 2017
id 8074369

shellbean ( member #56536) posted at 6:26 PM on Friday, January 19th, 2018

Great post, DD! Reading this lead me down a digging path myself (albeit, in the mindset of my WH). This is what WH is working on in IC right now. Prior to dday 2, the most WH would come up with is b/c "I'm selfish and a POS". I almost settled for that. However, dday 2 arrived and part of my terms of R attempt #2 included the deep down digging that you talk about in your post.

This discovery process is difficult. It takes a long time. It is painful. What you suggest also works for a lot of different scenarios when trying to come to terms with the "whys" and "hows".


Together 29 years, M 20 years
Dday1 11/3/16 Dday2 11/1/17
PA '96-'98, PA Aug.'15-Nov.'16 Same AP
EA '09-'11
We are reconciled and doing well

posts: 1174   ·   registered: Dec. 24th, 2016   ·   location: Michigan
id 8074575

Zugzwang ( member #39069) posted at 6:44 PM on Friday, January 19th, 2018

Awesome. Like I said the male version of Mia, well written, thought out well, and a Hell of a lot more tactful than I.

"Nothing in this world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty." Teddy Roosevelt
D-day 9-4-12 Me;WS

posts: 4938   ·   registered: Apr. 23rd, 2013
id 8074594

Zugzwang ( member #39069) posted at 6:46 PM on Friday, January 19th, 2018

brokensavageJust a thought. Maybe for you, "why would I allow..."??

"Nothing in this world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty." Teddy Roosevelt
D-day 9-4-12 Me;WS

posts: 4938   ·   registered: Apr. 23rd, 2013
id 8074598

islesguy ( member #38090) posted at 7:47 PM on Friday, January 19th, 2018


This is a really fantastic post.

Me: WH
My BS has given me every opportunity to prove myself to her and I have failed again and again. I lied to her for well over 20 years and did nothing to help her. I made promises to her again and again that I would step up and still have not.

posts: 1748   ·   registered: Jan. 11th, 2013
id 8074645

pigpen64 ( member #52310) posted at 8:50 PM on Friday, January 19th, 2018

Thank you DaddyDom. I will be rereading this many times. Application of this also. Like the example,too also.


posts: 199   ·   registered: Mar. 17th, 2016
id 8074684

waitedwaytoolong ( member #51519) posted at 9:45 PM on Friday, January 19th, 2018

This was a very well thought out post.

I am the cliched husband whose wife had an affair with the electrician


posts: 2171   ·   registered: Jan. 26th, 2016
id 8074719

Lucky77 ( member #61337) posted at 11:26 AM on Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Thank you DD,

I think I need some more skill at Digging. How exactly does one Dig? You sit. You think. You retrace your life since childhood....looking for trauma or damage. It seems like what I hear when people struggle to meditate. Now that I'm sitting here in a quiet place of contemplation what exactly am I supposed to do now.

I can finger a few things that I could name as things going on in my life such as Empty Nest sadness but they feel like excuses.

My A seemed like someone presented me with a bowl of ice cream and I said sure I'll take it because I like ice cream. Our A journey with AP was steady betrayal and violation of boundaries daily. At the time I could hardly name it as an A as we were just quietly leading our double lives with little fear of being caught. I was hard have any concern potential repercussions at the time since you feel paranoid but OK at the time.

Any tips for how to Dig? I'm wanting to own my shit.

1 year PA/ 2 Yr EA
Oh the depths of the betrayal

posts: 331   ·   registered: Nov. 7th, 2017
id 8075028

 DaddyDom (original poster member #56960) posted at 11:27 PM on Saturday, January 20th, 2018


Ask yourself this:

"What actions did I take (or not take) that caused my spouse harm?"

Many BS's, after the initial shock and awe wears off, will tell you that the affair itself is usually less painful than the circumstances surrounding it. What really galls them is the fact that their spouse lied to them, did not discuss or disclose to them what was going on, TT'd on facts, did not give them a chance to know what's going on, to change or to help out.

"I did it because I wanted to" is merely an example of where to start. If that does not apply to you however, then use your own reason which does apply. For example:

"I did not want to be unfaithful. However, it still happened. If I could go back and do things differently, what would I do differently? Why didn't I do those things in the first place?"

"If I saw it coming and yet didn't tell my spouse or take actions to prevent it, why?"

"If it already happened and I failed to disclose it to my spouse, why?"

In my post, I gave an example of a vase breaking. In that example, the person that broke the vase did not do so willingly. "I wanted to" was not a factor. The thing to consider in that situation however is that damage was done. It was not the store's fault the vase broke. It was not the fault of the vase. It was not another customer. So even if the damage was unintentional, ownership of the damage must be taken. What if the person who broke the vase said nothing and walked away? What if the shop owner asked if they broke the vase and they lied? What if they admitted to breaking it, but refused to pay for it? What if they blamed another customer, or tried to blame the store for leaving the vase where it might get broken?

In every case, if a wrong was done, and it was done by us, then there is a culpability that we must own, regardless of whether or not we intended to cause the damage we ultimately caused. Our ultimate goal in this exercise is to identify the reasons that we allowed ourselves to do things in our life, both affair related and not, and figure out why we knowingly allowed them. Once the affair did start, did you care about the damage it would do? Regardless if the answer is yes or no, then figure out why you answered that way. If you did care about the damage it would do, then why did you do it anyway? If you didn't care about the damage it would do, then what made you so cold to the pain you were causing?

Let me share with you my own story. Shortly before I met the AP, I experienced a severe mental breakdown, one that left me with clinical depression, PTSD episodes, and in a state of disassociation wherein I took on an "alternate ego state", similar to a split-personality if you will. By anyone's definition, I was not even remotely in my right mind or thinking straight. My perceptions, my emotions, my reality, all of these things were completely distorted and warped. At the time, I saw everything as horrible, endless and meaningless. I felt unhappy, unloved, misunderstood. I blamed my wife, my family, my job, my life - I felt that no one loved me or cared, that nothing was ever going to change, and that my life was going to be pure, endless misery until the day I died, which couldn't come soon enough. In that state of mind, these weren't just thoughts and feelings - they were what I considered reality.

Given my state of mind, given that I was mentally unstable, wouldn't it be reasonable to say that I wasn't really responsible for my actions, because they were the result of a deranged mind, steeped in depression and based on a false sense of reality? In other words, if a guy went nuts and thought he was a dog, is he responsible for shitting on the living room rug?

My answer is... yes. I'm still responsible. Not for being delusional, but for the choices I made, and the actions I took, in response to my perceived reality. Let's say for a moment that everything I experienced in that state was actually, factually real. I STILL had choices about how to react. I still chose to cheat, rather than confront my wife, or walk out the door. I still chose to lie and sneak around, rather than just be upfront about what I was doing or why. Everything I did still hurt my wife and my kids - was that their fault? No. I lied, I betrayed, I deceived. Even if my wife really had been a horrible spouse, even if I had been unloved, does it in any way justify me lying and betraying? No. That's a personal choice, a character flaw, a broken coping skill... and all of that is on me. The truth is, I was a coward. I didn't have the internal fortitude to confront my wife. I didn't have the dignity to own my behavior. I didn't have the decency to just be honest. I didn't have the compassion to care about anyone but myself. I can't look back at my feelings and actions and be proud of who I was and what I did. Maybe I was doing my best with what I had, but what I had was shit. So now, I can choose to continue to live that way, or I can choose to change, and to become someone that I can be proud of (and in doing so, hopefully my wife and kids can one day be proud of me as well).

That's what this process is about. It isn't about what you did. It's about why, and moreover, it is about making sure that you are someone that you can love, respect and believe in. This all ends the same way it started... by making it all about you. When we reach a point where we love, trust and respect ourselves for who we truly are, then everything else falls into place.

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

posts: 1437   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017
id 8075373

 DaddyDom (original poster member #56960) posted at 12:36 AM on Sunday, January 21st, 2018


Do me a favor. Close your eyes for moment, and I want you to think back to the boy you were in grade school, when you were maybe 8-10 years old. Think about that boy, who he was, and who he wanted to be. Think about the things that were important to him in terms of being a good a decent person. What kind of man did that boy want to be? Did he want to be an honest man, or a liar? What did he think of people who lied? Did he want to be a patient, loyal and concerned friend? Did he want his friends and family to count on him to always do the right thing? Or did he want to be the kind of man who takes what he wants and puts himself first? Who did he admire? Who was his hero? What qualities did that hero have that he wanted to emulate? Go ahead and do that now, then come back...

steady betrayal and violation of boundaries daily

leading our double lives with little fear of being caught.

hard to have any concern for potential repercussions

feel paranoid

Ok, when you were back thinking of those things you wanted to be as a boy, the things you admire in a man, did any of these topics come up? My guess is... probably not.

So what happened? How did that little boy who dreamed of being a wonderful and respectful man, turn into the guy above? How did that happen? Why did the man you are today allow those things to happen?

Ok, let's do another exercise. Get a piece of paper and a pencil. Draw line down the middle of the page creating two columns. At the top of one column, write the title "Who I am", and on the other side title, "Who I am not". Now fill those columns in as best you can, use extra sheets of paper if needed. Be honest, this is for you and you are the only person who will see it (although sharing it with your IC might be a good idea, if desired). These don't have to be one word answers. For example:

Who I am:

Hard working



I exercise daily




Who I am not:

A thief

A wife beater

A liar





This paper is a guide to start with. Look at it. What is missing from the Who I am column that should be there? Is "always honest" there? Do you think it should be? What is in that column that shouldn't be? Is unfaithful there? Should that be in the other column?

When you find a word in a column that doesn't match the vision of that boy, stop. Then ask yourself, "If this is not who I wanted to be, then how did I become this way?"

This is NOT an easy process. Answering those questions might take moments or months, and every time you notice something you don't like or that makes you think, work on that a little bit. For example:

I lied to my wife during the affair. Why?

Am I a liar? Am I sure?

Where else do I lie?

Do I lie and say I'm sick when I want a day off work? Why? Is that okay?

Do I lie and say I was too busy to return an email promptly? Is that really true? If not, why did use that excuse? Did I not want to make the effort? Did I not care enough?

Did I borrow $5 from Bob for lunch and never pay it back? Why? Did I say I would? Why didn't I? Is that okay?

What lies do I tell myself? What did I tell myself during the affair that wasn't true? Why did I do that? What did it get me?

Why was I paranoid during the affair? Was it because of all the secrets and lies? How did that feel to carry that burden? Now that the affair is out in the open, is that burden gone? Was it worth the lying? Does it feel better to be honest?

When did I start to lie? When did it become okay? Did it start small? White lies? The check is in the mail?

Was it a learned behavior? Did other people lie to me? Did people tell me the check was in the mail when it wasn't? Did that hurt me?

Thinking about times in my life, in adulthood, in my youth, that I felt lied to or hurt... what comes to mind? How did I feel about that? Did it hurt? Why am I able to do that to other people now? Why was I okay hurting them?

Did my parents tell me Santa was real? Did they use that lie to manipulate me into doing what they wanted me to? What lesson did I learn from that? How did my perception of them change when I realized it wasn't true? Did I learn that lying to others to manipulate them is okay? Am I repeating what was done to me?



Not everything in this search has to be affair related. This is a journey into yourself. The affair is not who you are, it is a result of who you've become. Who you are now is different than who you were at 10. People can and do change. If you can change from who you were at 10 to who you are now, then you can change from who you are now to who you want to be. Make another list with two columns, titled "Who I want to be" and "Who I don't ever want to be". That is your guide moving forward. The question now changes from "why" (why did I become this way?) to "how" (How do I become who I want to be?)

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

posts: 1437   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017
id 8075404

99problems ( member #59373) posted at 3:39 AM on Sunday, January 21st, 2018


This is one of the most insightful things I have ever read, ever.

Please consider a career change to marriage counseling, specializing in infidelity. You have a gift, sir. Hats off.

Got me a new forum name!<BR />Formerly Idiotmcstupid.<BR />I am divorced, so not as much of an idiot now- 4/15/21,

posts: 1010   ·   registered: Jun. 26th, 2017   ·   location: Somewhere
id 8075494

psychmom ( member #47498) posted at 4:31 AM on Sunday, January 21st, 2018

Read this one aloud to my H. He was listening and nodding to each and every word. He read part of "I Don't Want to Talk About It" (highly recommended book for men) earlier in the day and was primed for your message. Thank you for the wisdom you are willing to share here, DaddyDom.

BS (me); fWH (both 50+; married 20 yr at the time; 2 DD DDay 1- 9/13/2014 (EA)- 3+ yrsDDay 2- 10/24/2014(PA2)-July'14-Sept'14DDay 3- 11/12/2014(PA1)-Oct-Feb '14Reconciled

posts: 4271   ·   registered: Apr. 10th, 2015   ·   location: Land of Renewed Peace of Mind
id 8075509

 DaddyDom (original poster member #56960) posted at 5:37 AM on Sunday, January 21st, 2018

Thank you to everyone make such kind comments. I'm glad I can be of some help or value. Your comments give me hope that I'm at least headed in the right direction. This process truly is more than just an "infidelity thing", I think it is something I needed to do for a long time. SI has taught me so much and helped me break down my walls... that means so much to me, so thank YOU! This is a lifetime process, but I have to admit, I feel so much better about who I am today, compared to who I was a year+ ago, most of my life really. I'm starting to learn my own self worth, and my weaknesses. Unfortunately, others got hurt in that process. That will never be okay. But I can make sure it never happens again.

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

posts: 1437   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017
id 8075537
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