I talked about this with my husband today and he said that the thing he thinks we both could’ve worked on was reinforcing our boundaries. We had the right idea on some level I think, we just both sucked at holding our lines. I know I struggled with guilt and shame, “I destroyed him, what right do I have to say anything about what helps me communicate effectively? Or about what I feel?” We tried to implement things like nonviolent communication, announcing breaks, owning our own feelings, “I feel,” etc. We did MC. We definitely benefited from the communication aspect.
We got stuck in drama triangles a lot. We struggled with defensiveness. We grappled with naming and owning feelings instead of just exploding or retreating into resentment. Trying to “fix” each other’s feelings. Same old habits except we were both getting stronger in expressing ourselves and being okay with who we are.
We each made some boundaries:
I will not stay in a marriage that doesn’t include active ownership and healing (IC and MC, individual work, anger management for both of us).
I will not stay in a marriage where there is not transparency and communication (keeping each other updated, running things by each other, collaborating, compromise, speaking LL).
I will not stay in a marriage without active recovery (12 step work, sponsorship).
Things like that. I don’t know, LD. Reading your story is tough sometimes because it reminds me of us - I’m a lot like your husband. I was seriously fucked up, personally, and I wish I had done more to fix myself. I’m sure I’m projecting quite a bit. I do know I used my discovery of my husband’s behavior to justify a bunch of toxic crap. I blamed him for my emotions and the pedestal I had him on before. I blamed him for a lot. My identity was completely tied up in him and our relationship which was unhealthy AF, which was the real issue. All his behavior did was bring all of my issues into the crisis zone, as if they
weren’t before. He had blamed me before discovery. All my behavior did was bring all his issues to the fore. Perpetual victims. Pain breeds entitlement. And then after the blame party settled down, the real bullseye came out: that we both blamed ourselves. Then came the, “we’ll just focus completely on each other positively and everything will be fine” phase.
But I think we both finally have figured out that our pain is our responsibility. We can ask for help as we work through it and own it. And we can leave if we don’t get what we want.
It may take time for your husband to hear that. He may never. I feel like he’s got a lot of demons and pain and you’re the lightning rod. I hope it changes or I’m wrong because yes, eventually, if he doesn’t put in work, I believe you will need to draw boundaries. His actions were unhealthy before you cheated. He’s not working recovery, unless that’s changed.
I don’t know. I’m really happy you’re home. I’m just so thrilled you get to see and interact with your daughter more now. I don’t mean to encourage borrowing trouble either, with so much going on and a bunch of changes. I’m sure it’s a major adjustment for your husband and he probably won’t know what way to jump for quite awhile. I’m sorry for the pain you’ve all experienced. I don’t agree with the advice encouraging madhatters to just go all Stepford, like that somehow resolves existing boundary issues. Or that setting boundaries in marriages is somehow lacking in empathy/compassion. Enabling was the real beast, IME.
You have been through a lot and so has he. I hope that space is made for both sides, because your voice matters too and I hope you know that.
I copied this in light of the most recent update as I think this deserves emphasis.
I will be honest with you, I fear that this lack of structure, guidance, and flat-out desire to rebuild your relationship is very concerning. Without deliberate attempts to create boundaries and actively work on building a new relationship, these situations often result in couples experiencing limbo, or codependent hell. Neither party is receiving any value, and in fact, the relationship is actually a source stress and anxiety. However, due to individual issues of emotional enmeshment and an unhealthy attachment style, the individuals cannot quit the relationship in order to save themselves thereby sentencing themselves to a life of misery. And as leavingorbit stated, one party puts his/her individual issues and shortcomings on the other party, which creates a positive feedback loop that plays itself out over and over in the Drama Triangle.
The most concerning statement is this:
I asked if he thinks that's something he can get used to (me being there and sharing space). He said yes but doesn't know if he wants it to be with me.
Normally, you hear, "I hope I can but I am not sure I will be able to." There is a desire but uncertainty as to ability. Here, it is the opposite: I probably can but not sure if I even want to. That is alarming because without a desire, it is never going to be mutually fulfilling relationship.
He may move out in a week or 6 months or who knows. It is extremely awkward for the both of us, but our daughter is beyond excited. She followed me around everywhere last night. I had to keep telling her that I'm not going anywhere and that she doesn't have to follow me or look for me
Respectfully, I think this approach does your daughter and both of you a disservice. IMHO, I feel your fear of being apart allowed you to make decisions that neither you were capable of following through with at the time the decision to move back in was made. Now, you are in a tough spot because the external pressure of your child's joy is going make it even harder to make decisions that is best for your mental health and well being.
I don't mean to be critical, but I fear that there is a avoidance responsibility that is the foundation of reconciliation. R is not penance. It is active process that involves both parties working toward a mutual goal. The work is different, but the goal is the same. I'm not trying to beat you up, but I don't see that here. I think you desperately need to communicate and make some hard decisions. I wish you well on your journey and hope each person becomes happier and healthy even if it means that you both discover you cannot do it together.