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Happily Married

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This0is0Fine posted 4/13/2021 18:27 PM

Here's one out there for those of you further into R than me. Right now I am happy, and I am married. I wouldn't say I'm "happily married".

I bring this up because we were out with some old friends that don't know my wife had an EA and that we almost got D. They said, "We don't know anyone else that met at a bar and stayed happily married like you guys".

I didn't say anything at all at the time. I doubt my face even betrayed me. At the time I was happy, drinking beer, eating pizza, enjoying company of my family and friends. But I did have a tinge of a thought, "Am I 'happily' married?"

I am safe. I am content. I love my fWW. I am happy. But "happily married". I just don't know. My marriage used to be one that I would hold up to others with pride an say, "Do it like me". Now? Hard to say that, yeah?

This is something I want but don't need. Being happy and contentedly married is enough. But I do wonder, does anyone get back to a place where they are well and truly open with the entirety of their M, A included, and say, "I am happy with how my marriage has gone"? Is that just off the table? It's ok if it is.

Just some thoughts.

Wiseoldfool posted 4/13/2021 19:21 PM

Good question.

I am mostly “happy.” I am healthy, my kids are doing well, my career is very good, my parents are aging but comfortable. My sister lives a good life, with some complications like any other family. I am respected in my career and my community. My wife is healthy.

I am married. My wife adores me. She makes amends all the time, is grateful every day I don’t bail out on this marriage. We work well together. We have very satisfying sex quite often, mostly at her initiative. She is remorseful. She is in IC to address the flaws that permitted her to do what she did. I see progress there. I see effort.

Is that “happily married?” Hard to say, I guess. It is certainly not the “from the prom to the grave” happily ever after story we could have had. Is it better than many marriages? For sure it is. Is it good enough to not end it? Yes.

Is that “happily married?”

I guess it is “happy and married and happily enough married.”

GTeamReboot posted 4/13/2021 22:45 PM

Good topic. Depressing. Sucks to consider. But good topic.

We were always viewed with envy by others. In fact this very thing is part of what he mourned out loud as he cried when he confessed everything. I think he took a lot of pride in that and hates that he’s the one who blew it.

I find I don’t gloat publicly about him as an amazing husband as much as I did in the past, even though many of the things that made him amazing then are “back” or in many cases never really left anyway. But I can’t bring myself to brag again yet. Hopefully someday.

Wiseoldfool I love your last line there! I feel like that’s where I’m at. And I know myself there’s a special kind of pain that goes along with double betrayal. Multiple losses involved. It really sucks extra! I’m glad to hear she’s doing the work and you are doing well overall.

Apparition posted 4/14/2021 08:30 AM

Hi TIF, I think we entered R about the same time frame.

I'm sort of weary. Weary of days being sad. Weary of days that go okay, but wondering if I'll love her like I once loved her. Weary of days thinking about complex R issues. The other day, I was breaking down trust into component parts: like you have acts of trust where you behave in a trusting way, not asking questions, not mentally looking for that piano to fall on your head, not checking locations, etc. Then you have the feeling of trust, just mentally, naturally "resting" and safe. The first part I can will myself to do, push out questions, not double check anything, the 2nd part seems out of my control - like a heartbeat. I think this is what makes me weary.

Happy? Some days, some hours, some moments, I could say I'm happy. Happily Married? As you say, that implies so much more. A history of happiness, a history of safety, a history of fidelity, etc. Being happily married is more than the now, its also the foundation of the past. Right now I'm hoping time and healing allows for a new foundation to be built where I can say, yes, I'm happily married. I can't say I'm happily married until my mind can rest in the marriage.

This0is0Fine posted 4/14/2021 09:41 AM

Apparition,

I only have my experience and what I've read here to go on. My mind is at rest most of the time. I sometimes spiral but usually catch myself. The thoughts that made me start this thread probably would have spiralled to a darker place just a few months ago. Probably would have had a bad night's sleep.

The feelings you describe are very much how I felt when I started my M without R thread. Maybe your fWW isn't disappointing you on a two month schedule like mine was, but the feelings were very much the same. Just unbelievably tired and worn out from thinking about and dealing with the A and the aftermath.

hikingout posted 4/14/2021 10:26 AM

I think what you are saying is completely normal for this stage you are in.

Noone has a crystal ball as to how R will go. I tend to believe that things are what we decide they are. I don't mean be an ostrich with your head in the sand. I am not saying anyone should be avoidant or ignore anything. That does not work well at all.

I tend to believe (or I would not be doing this shit any more!) is that at some point if he does his work, he will evolve. The situation will evolve. We'll see what we have then. And at that time, I believe I will try and focus more on the positive aspects, and I will hold my needs and boundaries and work with him that we are both getting what we want.

I think one of the most infiltrating things with infidelity is the uncertainty. It really is noticeable in so many aspects. But, I feel I have to remember that uncertainty lived there all along, I just chose to believe something else.

I also tend to believe that if both people do the work, that R is a tremendous investment you are both making that can bring the relationship to a higher level of understanding, functioning, and therefore satisfaction.

It's not going to go that way for all of us, and we do not know who will make it and who will not. But, those who do I see enough that makes me believe it's not unsurmountable with the right work and dedication.

I think the best thing to do is keep working on yourself. Figure out what you want in your life (that alone is a journey) and don't settle for less than that. Know your worth, and that any option is viable and worth exploring.

But, the stories we tell ourselves on the other side will dictate whether or not we are married or happily married. The happily married story has to include awareness of what it is you want and whether or not you are getting it. In other words, the stories still have to be based in reality. But, if you find that you get through the rigors of R with new self awareness and decide to recommit long term to the marriage, then you may as well strive for the happily part.

Underserving posted 4/14/2021 11:22 AM

I am only as far out as you are, so I’m not exactly who you are looking to hear from, but thought I’d share where I currently am.

I am just now finding happiness within myself on a daily basis. I experience more good days than bad ones. I’m finally fucking healing. Thank God.

As far as the marriage, we are still in the process of pouring the cement for the foundation of the new marriage we are hoping to build. We have blueprints and plans, and they seem really great when talking about them, but when it comes time implement anything, I put it hold. I’m still mourning what was, while covered in the ashes of all that was left. It is still extremely painful to know my WH willingly set fire to something I was so proud of, and loved so much. Even though this “new build” is supposed to be 100X better, stronger, safer, and even more beautiful, I am not ready to put in the hard work that is required to build it. The lingering doubt of “will he set this one on fire too?” is still there. Which is ok. When I’m ready, when the trust has been built back up enough, I will throw on my hard hat and get to work. I just think it takes a long ass time to even get to that point.

I have hope that one day I can say I’m “happily married” to my husband. I really do. I don’t think I’d be willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears if I didn’t believe it was possible.

sisoon posted 4/14/2021 12:57 PM

I'm happy I'm married to my (fW)W. That's been so for probably 5-6 years.

Tanner posted 4/14/2021 14:29 PM

Not happily married, I am happily working toward R. As long as I have the triggers and mind movies I won’t claim to be “happily married”

Using the house analogy, it is still under construction, the walls are up and the roof is on, it’s dusty and it has no utilities so it’s not livable.

While we work on this nicer better house we are crammed into a small apartment, it’s not comfortable and we get on each other’s nerves.

StrugglingCJ posted 4/15/2021 08:04 AM

I am 2+ years out from Dday2, married.. Yes.. Happily married.. At times.. But we are still working towards proper R..

And i think that just takes time.. Do I see us being happily married once again.. Yes otherwise what am i staying for?

The end goal is of course to be happy.. Happy with your life.. Your partner.. Etc.. And you have to do what you need to to achieve this.

BetterNowReally posted 4/15/2021 19:17 PM

I feel like we are on the road to happily married and hope we complete the journey some day. I know she now feels happily married. I am not all the way there yet.

We moved in together when I was barely 18 and my wife was still 17. We were married less than a year later when we were both 18. Our 39th wedding anniversary is later this month.

In the early years, I thought we were happily married.

Evidently, my wife did not feel the same as we was serially cheating on me.

Until about a year and a half ago, I do not think she was very happy at all, and she certainly did not care about how I was feeling.

Now, she is very happy to be married to me and wants me to be happy to be married to her as well.

Over the years of dealing with some pretty horrible treatment from her and now amazing treatment, my feelings have varied.

Through some of the worst of it, I felt desperate, angry, sad, resentful, bitter, and other negative feelings, in no particular order and in cycles.

Then I felt miserable and trapped.

At one point, I wished I had never met her. That "improved" to feeling like marrying my wife was the worst mistake I ever made in my entire life. That "improved" to feeling like staying with her was my least bad choice.

But now, I enjoy being with her. We have a great time together and spend a lot of time together. She could not possibly treat me any better than she does now. She is like a dream wife to me in the way she treats me now.

However, a lot of damage was done. I have a lot of pain and emotional scars. I have healed a great deal because of how she has changed and how she is now and with the help of an outstanding therapist I have seen. I feel better about myself, better about her, and better about us.

But I have a lot of sadness over what could have been, all the lost years.

I guess I feel like I am mostly sorta kinda happily married now, but I could have been totally happily married or so much more happily married if she had not put me through what she put me through.

I hope I can some day get over the proverbial hump. She desperately wants that for me. I have my doubts about getting all the way there, but who knows. We are definitely trending in the right direction.

Best wishes to you all.

jb3199 posted 4/20/2021 16:35 PM

My marriage used to be one that I would hold up to others with pride an say, "Do it like me".

Same here. It was the ONE THING that I was so confident in....to the point of possible arrogance. I'm going to assume that several others here thought the same way prior to infidelity.

Now? It's a good marriage, but I'm far more realistic. How can you ever compare to blind trust, at least in the false security of that feeling? Soulmates, unconditional love, and other fuzzy-feeling emotions have been replaced with a more sensible, grounded feeling.

Innocence lost is the best description I can give of my situation. It may not have been the safest, but it surely felt good.

Notaboringwife posted 4/20/2021 19:26 PM

I am grateful today for our 'second chance marriage." Tomorrow, I will say the same thing, and keep saying it every day unless there happens an event which destroys our second chance.

I think being grateful leads me into happiness.

Apparition posted 4/21/2021 12:06 PM

I only have my experience and what I've read here to go on. My mind is at rest most of the time. I sometimes spiral but usually catch myself. The thoughts that made me start this thread probably would have spiralled to a darker place just a few months ago. Probably would have had a bad night's sleep.

The feelings you describe are very much how I felt when I started my M without R thread. Maybe your fWW isn't disappointing you on a two month schedule like mine was, but the feelings were very much the same. Just unbelievably tired and worn out from thinking about and dealing with the A and the aftermath.

Thanks TIF, I appreciate hearing you relate to the tired/worn out feeling.

I also feel a pervasive pointlessness. It's not depression, it's when I think about having a happy marriage, I'm immediately faced with some realities: My spouse has cheated. My spouse can cheat again. If she cheats again I can handle it, but I will never be secure again.

My WW can't change the past. My WW can't offer any verbal guarantees or any actions that make it a guaranty that she can't cheat - we know it's possible, it's occurred before. And I know I can handle it, but what about security? I suppose I'm just getting comfortable with being happy, but not having security. As others described it - innocence lost. There is a certain joy in innocence and I'm realizing it can't be reclaimed. It's making me resentful that she took something that is now impossible to reclaim. With or without her, it's gone forever. D or R, doesn't matter, I now know about affairs and you can't take that knowledge away. The toothpaste is out of the tube.

Anyhow, a very interesting thread as its been in my thoughts before you posted. What happiness looks like now, what its going to look like in the future, it's really a deep personal topic that is rattling around my head.

This0is0Fine posted 4/21/2021 14:23 PM

Great post Apparition.

I think I'll speak to a few of the things you brought up just from my perspective. For a long time I've had the view that everything is pointless and we create our own value. I had made peace with failure, and trying again in almost every facet of my life. That's the nature of life. Learn and do better next time. I had somehow figured M and raising a family was something that had failures and improvements but within agreed confines that were supposed to never fail. They did fail. And so it loses a specialness that was there before. I suppose we never should have believed the confines of marriage to be infallible.

That said, having the experience of failure, of rebuilding, of trying to do better, I do *finally* feel safe and secure. As a result of all the work done to just get to R, the fallible confines have been made more robust through a more thorough examination and understanding of appropriate boundaries. I think that faced with similar pressures my fWW will not cheat again.

I think in reading all the books and doing therapy I am even less likely to cheat than I was before. It's not that I thought I would before, but without the critical examination and establishment of boundaries, I perhaps could have been a WS that "Never thought I would cheat", "Just have a friendship that I thought I could keep appropriate and at bay", and "didn't mean to hurt anyone". I mean, I certainly can and have promised to be faithful. I believe I will be and that my boundaries are strong.

It's one of those things where it is easy to think that everyone else (or a certain subset?) is irrational, stupid, selfish, fallible being, but that we are not part of that group. Some faithful spouses could say differently than me with more certainty than me. I think that I was simply never tested hard enough to have my ad hoc, likely somewhat porous, boundaries tested to the point where they failed. I have had a handful of interaction through my life that were right on the cusp of crossing the line. Honestly maybe even past the line if you say, "would you want your SO to see what you did on video?" the answer would be "no, but it's easy enough to explain..." I would look over the cliff and not jump. But it called to me and it took restraint not to answer. If experience with cookies can tell me anything, eventually, presented with cookies often enough on a diet, I would perhaps eat "just one". I could have been capable of that initial deceit. I am not a MH, but I think during one of my threads it was suggested I had to much empathy for cheating. IDK. Maybe I do.

A bit of a rant there, but I think critically examining my own fallibility and improvement, knowing that I'm now safer for my wife has some reciprocity.

As for innocence lost, I can definitely identify with that. Some of them, like unconditional trust are dead and gone forever. R or D, everything has a consciously applied uncertainty, and trust is fractional.

I suppose I am struggling in this thread to think about whether or not "happily married" is something that this M has lost permanently. I don't think it is, but I'm open to that idea. It wouldn't destroy me to think this is something as dead as unconditional trust. However, I think that like the negative uncertainties I have presented above, there are unforeseeable possible positive uncertainties. That through continued personal growth and having a good M, that it will once again think to myself, "Yes, I am happily married".

That's why I was really asking those that were further out. If others have found their way back, I don't see why I couldn't as well. Perhaps it's just enough to keep trying to get there.

hikingout posted 4/21/2021 14:44 PM

I tend to agree with what you are saying.

I will only add that happiness is elusive. When I am looking to be happy, searching for happy, I am being critical in some ways. We often say things like I will be happy when ___ or if___, etc. We do not know if those things will ever come to pass, so why are we always so flippant to pin our happiness on future things?

Generally, happiness lands on our shoulders when we are busy living and doing our best. Some of my happiest moments have been during quiet times that noone would really be able to pinpoint where that emotion was even coming from.

I tend to think that's the same thing when people say happily single, or happily married, or happily employed or whatever it is they are happily doing. When we are able to fully "be" there again, it will land. At least that's what I think.

Thumos posted 4/21/2021 16:22 PM

I feel much happier inside my own skin than I did a year ago. I can't say the same about my marriage. I don't consider marriage the way I did before. And while I'm taking a "break" from thoughts of a "you have to decide" dichotomy about R/D, I still think about the possibility of D all the time. But this is a healthier contemplation, doesn't feel rushed and isn't frenetic like it was this last fall.

I don't resent my WW like I used to, and that's been a noticeable change for me. I cycle somewhere between a feeling of indifference, bemusement, some level of affection, and some level of amusement about her. To put it in more precise terms I probably have a more "xenia" love for her, mixed with a bit of purely lustful "eros" and not much else. She wants it to be more. I'm skeptical it will be.

I'm much more intent on being a good father to my kids and developing myself, reviving old dreams for myself. I'm very focused on what my core mission as a man should be as opposed to propping up a "marriage" such as it is, after the ruinous actions of infidelity. I think this scares my WW, but I've told her it's all I have for her during this time.

This0is0Fine posted 4/21/2021 18:12 PM

@hikingout

Before the affair, I was basically always happy. I'm a baseline happy person. I've been pretty content my whole life. I have no material concerns (haven't had any in a long time). I joked in highschool after learning of Maslow's hierarchy of needs asking my teacher, "I'm already self-actualized, what's next?"

I guess I should be happy that I get to ask if I'm happily married at this point.

@Thumos

Limbo can be comfortable enough for however long you can hack it. If you stretch your mind enough limbo is almost like R for now, unless I decide to D later. That all depends on if you feel safe and your emotional needs are being met.

siracha posted 4/23/2021 16:56 PM

Hmm ... well what are your top ten values for a hypothetical spouse? if being a never cheater ever is value number one then realistically speaking alot of damage has been done that is permanent .
While noone wants to be cheated upon its possible that the top ten things in an ideal mate for you are not all that fidelity related for eg having red hair , surfing skills , being able to speak in Swahili - and being kind to animals. Maybe she has all your top ten things . In which case , you will probably get back to your baseline happiness with her in time.... unless ofcourseYOU have changed.

[This message edited by siracha at 5:32 PM, April 24th (Saturday)]

folio44 posted 4/24/2021 10:59 AM

Such an interesting topic, and very timely for me as I have been spiralling lately and can't shake negative thoughts about my WH
and what he did. 6 years in July since initial discovery.

that's all I have to say for now but I wanted to let you all know how I appreciate reading your thoughts, as I sort through mine.

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