My question is this: this would be applicable for... majority if not all of affairs, right? That their partner/spouse has become a different person to the one we originally knew and got attached or married to.
Is R, generally, an ill-advised fool's errand then? Why would there be any reason to consider R in any relationship after an affair? Sighs.
I didn’t R in my circumstance. My wayward left me for her AP. It happened quite suddenly and cathartically and I was crushed. So I don’t have personal experience to draw on. But my observation here on SI is that R – true R, not a BS who rug-sweeps and white knuckles in – depends on several things:
(a) Complete, transparent honesty by the WW. The BH must be absolutely 100% certain that his WW is not just honest, but willing to sit down and answer questions about the details openly, honestly, over and over. One of the reasons for this is trust, but another is that, to heal, most betrayeds actually find a need to discuss the details a lot, to grasp them, look at them from all sides, completely grok them. It seems to be the case for many people that you can’t heal unless you know what you’re healing from.
(b) Empathy by a WW who throws herself completely into the task of healing her BH without regard to whether the marriage is going to end. That is, both spouses must essentially start walking away from the marriage, but the WW must let the marriage go while making the healing of her BH her top priority. This certainly starts with the 180 by the BH, but frankly those marriages where I’ve seen R work the best are the ones where the BH was actually committed to and taking steps to D. He wants out of the marriage.
(c) That ephemeral matter of the heart. This is the most difficult part to describe. In some way, the heart of the BH must be able to believe, with a beginner’s mind, in the true desire of the WW for him. The sexual humiliation and emasculation aspects of each individual A come into play in this. Every man is different, every A is different. My observation is that the details matter when it comes to successful R. If the hole is too deep, there is no digging out of it no matter what. That is individual to you. Only you can know. Your WW’s A involves a couple of details that are “extra” in terms of sexual humiliation: the fact that you were both one-and-onlies, and now she is not; and the fact that her AP was so sexually attractive. There is no “right answer” to this. If you find and read Walloped’s thread, you’ll find that he and his WW were both one-and-onlies before her A. However, that thread did not involve an AP who was highly sexually attractive, and although Mrs. Walloped’s A was highly sexual, it did not seem to involve a degree of sexuality by her toward her AP that exceeded her sexuality with her BH. Further, Mrs. Walloped, more than any WW I’ve seen on SI, threw herself into the task of helping her BH heal, even though she was certain he was going to divorce her. She actually cared for him, as a man, unconditioned on whether they were married.
But WILL she? CAN she?
That is one of those “ephemeral” matters that you can judge. How strong is her character. You’ve known her a long time. She was incredibly dishonest to you, for quite a while, about this A. I think she is still withholding from you. R is a marathon, not a sprint. You will be looking yourself in the mirror in 5 years and that will be somewhere near the end of a successful R process, if she remains 100% laser-focused on R during that whole time. Does she have that in her? It’s like betting on a horse, except the bet is “all in” once you make it.
As you noted elsewhere, one thing you do know about her is that, in this case, you have remained committed to the contract of marriage, while she did not. She was not a long-distance runner with and for you, in this case. Will she be able to be a long-distance runner from this point forward?
My question is, what does "letting go" look like in practice? Doing the proverbial "180"? A separation? A divorce?
Letting go means walking away from the marriage. It means reaching a place in your heart where you don’t care if the marriage continues. All you want is to be out of infidelity. Right now, in your present state, R is not happening nor even possible with the high degree of dishonesty. Therefore, right now, your path out of infidelity is D. D is itself a long process, like a year or more, and you can change your mind at any time if you believe R is a reality. Even if you take D to completion, your two lives will remain entangled. It is possible, for example, that you might have another relationship, or several, and then re-engage with your WW.
So, establishing and communicating to her, as clearly as possible, my boundaries now, my wants, my needs... basically my terms? And see if she is willing/able to step up and meet all of them?
She should be asking you this question. She should be reading and learning and figuring out what your boundaries and wants/needs are, anticipating them, and meeting them. There is very little magic to this. The MacDonald book spells it out. Almost every BH wants and needs the same things. You should not have to spell this out. If you do feel a need to spell it out, then by definition she hasn’t gotten it.
Why do people not believe the testimony of WSes about the quality of sex, especially here on SI, where's there's little apparent payoff for lying?
My take on this is, that it is inherent for someone who has had an affair or is having an affair to be a liar. We might not understand their true reason(s) for lying. Perhaps they feel too ashamed to admit the truth? Maybe they think that it would mitigate the "pain" inflicted? Shrugs.
I disagree with the premise of the question. The one thing we know from a thousand threads here is that waywards minimize the nature and extent and enjoyment of the sexual aspect of the A. They minimize because they do perceive an apparent payoff for lying. The payoff comes because of the reality that there are, in the hearts of most betrayeds, "degrees" of sexual humiliation and hurt from an A. When they are caught, the first thing a wayward worries about is the degree and harshness of the consequences they will received. They worry about themselves. In general, the worse the crime, the worse the punishment. This basic math is embedded in almost every criminal justice system of every human society in history.
As to infidelity, every WS knows that at some point, the sexual humiliation aspect will be simply too much to overcome, no matter what. There is a poster here, Waitedwaytoolong, whose threads speak exactly to that.
For most men, if it was "just" an EA, with no sex, then the injury is less severe. If it was just a ONS with missionary position sex, still a PA, but less severe than her going full porn star over and over with the AP while denying that to her BH. Most men could not overcome the latter. See the thread of Beyondrage, and contrast it to Waitedwaytoolong.
In addition to the sex part, there is the sneaking and lying part. The more energy she put into that part, over the longer time, the more the BH is going to feel she has taken from him. These feelings of "degree" of hurt from an A are extremely common and normal.
This is why Waywards minimize. They know instinctively that the consequences they will face are proportional to the degree of their "crimes". This knowledge is useful to a betrayed. So long as a wayward continues to minimize, the betrayed knows that the wayward is concerned primarily with herself and her own comfort. The wayward who is truly concerned with her BH's healing will look him in the eye and talk to him like a man, with blunt honesty, no matter how awful the details are. If your WW isn't doing that, then she is still worried about herself, not about you.
[This message edited by Butforthegrace at 6:35 AM, April 3rd (Friday)]