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Reconciliation :
Trying to move forward but WW is torn

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hikingout ( Member #59504) posted at 12:25 AM on Friday, April 30th, 2021

Ridiculous jab, thumos.

WW/BW BH/WH Turnthepage My Affair DDAY 9/1/2017- 2 month EA/PAHis Affair DDAY 10/10/2020 - 18 month A - EA?/PA

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Butforthegrace ( Member #63264) posted at 1:10 AM on Friday, April 30th, 2021

The marriage counselor thinks my WW is still in a bit of a fog and has said I need to make things as pleasureable at home for her as possible and practice trying to understand her better

That might be the most bullshit counselor advice of all the bullshit counselor advice I've seen discussed here on SI. It almost takes bullshit to a level of artistry. "Your wife is actively engaged in adultery and lying to you about it, so you should reward her by making things more pleasant at home."

You are not in R. Not even close. A spouse actively engaged in adultery cannot, by definition, be in R. Here is what you say:

"Wife, I love you and want you to be happy. It is clear to me that you desire to be with AP, and that this makes you happy. I want you to know that you're free to spend as much time with AP as you desire, and I wish you happiness. But it will not happen while you are my wife. I will not share you with another man. Therefore, I am taking steps to end our marriage so that you are free to pursue the happiness you desire."

"The wicked man flees when no one chases."

posts: 3771   ·   registered: Mar. 31st, 2018   ·   location: Midwest
id 8655213
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RocketRaccoon ( Member #54620) posted at 6:21 AM on Friday, April 30th, 2021

The marriage counselor thinks my WW is still in a bit of a fog and has said I need to make things as pleasureable at home for her as possible and practice trying to understand her better (WW says the AP really understood her

Aw, hell no! This behaviour is rewarding bad behaviour! This a HUGE no-no.

- other than work meetings I don't think they have any contact right now...I hope)

Sigh.... as long as they are in contact for whatever reason, they will stare googly eyed at each other across the table (or screen if it is a video conference)and make kissy faces quietly.

She is keeping a third party in your M, and as long as you have a third party in your M, you effectively have no M.

she feels like I've put her on a train moving forward and she isn't sure she wants to be on it.

This is your critical sentence. She is still choosing. She still wants her cake and eat it.

You cannot cure stupid

posts: 888   ·   registered: Aug. 12th, 2016   ·   location: South East Asia
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hikingout ( Member #59504) posted at 2:24 PM on Friday, April 30th, 2021

I think that even during the affair, there is some part of you that *knows* that you don't want to leave, you don't want to be faithful (even though you think it is wrong), because you want the good feels. The cognitive dissonance is that the feel goods of the A are bad. You know this too be true. You want it to not be. So you make stuff up. Spouse bad, rationalizations etc.

Ultimately though, you had no intention of leaving your husband, and you just wanted the good feels to not stop. There was not a planned exit. There was not some master objective other than "keep feel goods going".

"What do you want?" often implies a "them or me" or something grander. Like there is some goal to be reached in having the A. The A is it's own hedonistic reward though and addictive, as you have pointed out. Allowing you to override your better judgment.

And so that means, for most people, they don't want to leave their partner, and they don't want the A to end. If you could cut through the cognitive dissonance and self rationalizations at the time, I think you would find this to be true.

Thisisfine,

I do appreciate what you are saying here, and the respectful way that you laid out your case. There have been many, many moments on SI when someone has pointed at something they didn't feel I was seeing, and they were right. I do not think I would have found every nook and cranny that I have been able to uncover without that mirror being held up to me. At times, I bristled only to figure out what they were saying was true.

However, I do stand by my feeling that I was having an exit affair. If you read about exit affairs, you will find that pretty much what I am saying is textbook.

First, cake eaters are compartmentalizers. They can separate their two lives during their affairs. The biggest clues are they are better at regulating their behavior. They can truly feel feelings for both people. They tend not to act quite as erradically.

If you look at some of the waywards here - you could almost evenly divide them into two categories in this way. (no theory is a catch all or perfect so I say ALMOST). The ones who had no problems at all (or very little) dropping the AP - they are the compartmentalizers. Generally speaking, men are better compartmentalizers than women. That doesn't mean we can sort it by gender by any means. But, more men have cake-eating affairs than women do. Both sexes have both kinds, but there is a divide.

The second category are people like me - you can tell they are not great compartmentalizers because of the highly limerant/addictive nature of the affair. A good compartmentalizer could fall prey to that, but they are usually in better control of their faculties.

I am answering from the second category, and I would categorize this man's wife in mine.

I had mismanaged my life in such a way I saw no way out of the corner I had backed myself into in this marriage. I did not believe I could effect change in the relationship at all. I believe I subconciously wanted to blow up my marriage. And, there was a period of time after the affair ended and before I confessed that I was talking to my husband about separating.

I was utterly convinced that marriage was making me miserable.

The reality of what was happening is that I was having a really big major crisis, I wasn't acknowledging it, and it was getting bigger and bigger. I was avoiding that. Avoiding looking internally on how I was creating this dynamic. I was telling myself stories about why I should leave, how incompatible I was with my husband, and I actually was blaming him in my head for not going out and having new experiences. Not cheating experiences, but time to do things. I was an overgiver, and I felt it was blocking me from really finding things that made my heart happy. That part was pretty true, but it wasn't his fault or the fact I was married. It was my own fault for the role I thought I needed to play in the marriage and the way I hide in being overly busy.

In the end, I think there is a part of this that coincides with what you are saying. The problem was me - not my husband. And, you are right it was not in my best interest to leave the marriage. In the end, I had to bust my ass to the point I could manage myself better and see the falseness of the blame I had put on being married or on my husband. And, to be clear, it was more the first than the latter.

As a compartmentalizer, you can have feelings for two people at once. As a non-compartmentalizer you can not do that as well. So, in my affair, I put all those fond feelings on the other man. But love isn't just fond feelings, that is actually the most superficial aspect.

I was wrong. And, with work, I realized I did not want to leave the marriage. But, we were several months past DDAY before I could see that. So, in some ways you are right, but not in the way you are describing.

And as for Thumos's gigantic eyeroll at the mere mention of a midlife is dismissive and insulting. I think I do understand the catastrophic way I effected my husband, and I know it even more now that I have been cheated on with someone I was trying so hard to rebuild with. I don't need to be reminded of how damaging it was, I am quite aware. I am not some new lost WS.

The reason I even brought up the crisis is because people who are limerant and can't give up their AP have additional mental health issues that need to be addressed above a normal adulterer. And there are levels of that too. You know the bunny boilers out there? Just one level difference between my level and them.

I had avoided my crisis until I had a nervous breakdown of sorts, so dismissive eyerolls about something maybe that person doesn't know anything about is really infuriating.

Anyway - to the OP - it's going to take more than counseling. You are going to need to be very firm with your boundaries, and give her no room in which she feels she can have both.

[This message edited by hikingout at 8:33 AM, April 30th (Friday)]

WW/BW BH/WH Turnthepage My Affair DDAY 9/1/2017- 2 month EA/PAHis Affair DDAY 10/10/2020 - 18 month A - EA?/PA

posts: 5914   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
id 8655358
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Thumos ( Member #69668) posted at 2:24 PM on Friday, April 30th, 2021

Ridiculous jab, thumos.

I just reviewed the thread bc I was puzzled by this hikingout, but I think I know what you're referring to and I'm very sorry. That was absolutely not my intention. I was agreeing with you and also trying to be light about a midlife crisis in an "oy ve ain't that the truth" sense - I am very sorry it came across as a jab at you. Not what I meant.

For the record, yes I agree with you about midlife crises and I absolutely think they can drive infidelity. I don't think they are made up. A midlife crisis is an existential crisis. It's completely real because it's in our nature as what CS Lewis called "amphibians" (both body and spirit) to ask fundamental questions repeatedly about our lives and the world we live in.

I was also saying in a ham handed and in-artful way that BS's essentially get a midlife crisis thrust upon them. I'm in the midst of a very deep existential crisis these past four years that has made me question everything. Everything.

[This message edited by Thumos at 8:29 AM, April 30th (Friday)]

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH (me): 50, WW: 49
Married: Feb. 1996
DDAY: Dec. 20

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hikingout ( Member #59504) posted at 2:28 PM on Friday, April 30th, 2021

Thank you thumos. I did take what you said very personally, and in the last post you will read why. I am so used to people poking at that crisis thing, I may have projected. It came across as dripping sarcasm and it bothered me a lot. But, I apologize too for misinterpretation. I am protective of myself in more ways now and I see I didn't protect myself back then so I can be a little caustic when that comes up. I apologize to you for accusing you of something that wasn't there.

[This message edited by hikingout at 8:31 AM, April 30th (Friday)]

WW/BW BH/WH Turnthepage My Affair DDAY 9/1/2017- 2 month EA/PAHis Affair DDAY 10/10/2020 - 18 month A - EA?/PA

posts: 5914   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
id 8655366
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Thumos ( Member #69668) posted at 2:33 PM on Friday, April 30th, 2021

It came across as dripping sarcasm and it bothered me a lot. But, I apologize too for misinterpretation.

I realize that now. I was being dry but meant it in a poignant sense not in a pokey way.

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH (me): 50, WW: 49
Married: Feb. 1996
DDAY: Dec. 20

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id 8655372
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Butforthegrace ( Member #63264) posted at 2:59 PM on Friday, April 30th, 2021

At the risk of a T/J, I view the mid-life crisis as a species of the POLF. "Is this all there is?" I'm reminded of that popular song in the 1980's whose chorus was a chant: "Birth. School. Work. Death." The four phases of a lifetime in modern human culture.

"The wicked man flees when no one chases."

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The1stWife ( Member #58832) posted at 6:57 PM on Friday, April 30th, 2021

Cut to the chase. You are living in limbo waiting for your wife to make a decision.

Just know that living in limbo is like living in hell.

I suggest you find yourself a good counselor to support you. And then move towards making a decision for what you want.

Sitting around and watching an affair occurring in front of you is disrespectful. You deserve better.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

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sisoon ( Guide #31240) posted at 7:32 PM on Friday, April 30th, 2021

she feels like I've put her on a train moving forward and she isn't sure she wants to be on it.

R starts with 2 things: total honesty with oneself and others and taking responsibility for oneself and one's actions.

Your W seems to want to dodge responsibility. Unless she was threatened with violence, you didn'tput er on any train. She chose to get onboard ... and now she is blaming you.

*****

I think your W is in a fog, too. She's not in touch with reality. That's her problem, though, not yours.

I think your MC is in a fog. The advic to make home life pleasurable for your W is one of the few things in life that are flat out wrong, IMO.

The question now is whether or not you and your W are a good match for a lifelong relationship. One of the corollaries is that you need to be yourself at home. If your W doesn't like the real you, great - she should walk.

But you need to be real. You need to be clear with yourself about what you want and what you require in a lifelong partner. You need to communicate that to your W.

A corollary is that you need to think straight, talk straight, act straight. Don't bring up D unless you mean it. Do not attempt to manipulate your W (unless you do choose D and use manipulation to improve the settlement in your favor). In fact, don't bring up anything unles you mean it.

And even if she's in a fog, she needs to deal with your requirements and desires. If she won't she owes it to you to tell you so that you can split.

*****

'Moving forward' after infidelity is healing from infidelity. That can mean R, but it can also mean D or gathering more info before making a decision.

IOW, stop thinking that R is the only solution for you. You may still love your W, but love is not enough, especially if your W doesn't/won't take your love in.

And love is not enough if your W won;t commit to you and your M.

*****

Here's some reading I suggest. I know it's a lot, but you're making decisions that will affect many decades of your life, so it's worth looking at these materials to see if they will help you:

http://www.survivinginfidelity.com/healing_library/reconciliation/what-every-wayward-spouse-needs-to-know.asp - if this resonates with you, I suggest printing it off and giving the printout to your H as 'something you found on the web.' My reco: DO NOT tell your H about SI until you're sure he's on board for R.

http://www.survivinginfidelity.com/forums.asp?tid=361740&HL=14993 - serjr threads for newbies

Tactical Primer:

http://www.survivinginfidelity.com/forums.asp?tid=235051

Boundaries and Consequences 101:

http://www.survivinginfidelity.com/forums.asp?tid=385631

Setting Healthy Boundaries:

http://www.survivinginfidelity.com/forums.asp?tid=231851

Before You Say Reconcile:

http://www.survivinginfidelity.com/forums.asp?tid=406548

The Simplified 180:

https://www.survivinginfidelity.com/forums.asp?tid=598080

20/20 Hindsight: What I Wish I'd Done:

http://www.survivinginfidelity.com/forums.asp?tid=161389

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 26008   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8655588
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josiep ( Member #58593) posted at 7:55 PM on Friday, April 30th, 2021

Your topic title isn't quite accurate. YOU are trying to move forward with the marriage but to me it appears that WW isn't torn but rather that she doesn't want to move forward with the marriage. At least not with a traditional marriage and not with the traditional marriage you had before she cheated.

Some facts you may have forgotten during this shit show.

1. You are a human being with the same feelings, fears, etc. as any other human being.

2. Because you are a human being, you have the same rights as any other human being.

3. You are enough all by yourself. You do not need another person in your life to make your life full and meaningful.

4. You deserve to be happy.

5. You deserve to be treated with respect.

6. You are entitled to enforce boundaries in your life and not tolerate betrayal and disrespect.

7. It is not your job to protect anyone else's reputation.

Sometimes when we just get down to the basics, it all becomes clear.

And, one last comment: Our children learn how to be adults by watching their parents. Your behavior is teaching your children how to deal with loss, betrayal, trauma, etc. Make sure you're modelling behavior you'd be proud of them for.

Well, I lied cuz I have one more thing: Sticking up for yourself as a human and as a husband doesn't have to be done in a mean-spirited way.

Good luck to you. This is the pits, I know. I'd give anything for it not to happen to anyone ever.

BW, 70 YO; M 45 yrs., T 49 yrs.
DDay#1, 1982; DDay#2, May, 2017. Divorced.

posts: 3062   ·   registered: May. 5th, 2017
id 8655603
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WontBeFooledAgai ( Member #72671) posted at 8:01 PM on Friday, April 30th, 2021

@hikingout, this is my take.

On threads such as these, we rend to feel empathy for the BH to the point where many of us are angry for the BH. So any sort of understanding for the WW is going to be in extremely short order in the posts. Whatever she may have been going through before the A tends to be dealt with quite dismissively. There is a tendency to only see WW's extremely hurtful and selfish behavior and conclude that she is just a witch. Whether or not we are really being fair and accurate in our assessment of things.

There is a way of being blunt and telling the BH that he needs to be MUCH harder than he is being, without unfairly vilifying the WW or anyone else. I have to remind myself to be mindful of this whenever I post, to be careful what I say about WW. And going off topic, to remember that this is BH's life and not mine. We are only here to advise him, if he cannot stop being Mr Nice Guy then that is ultimately his path and his prerogative. He doesn't owe it to the board or anyone to come down hard on his WW at the end of the day.

[This message edited by WontBeFooledAgai at 3:05 PM, April 30th (Friday)]

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id 8655608
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HappilyMarried1 ( Member #77296) posted at 1:54 AM on Saturday, May 1st, 2021

So sorry @sleeplessinSTL

You have to do two things if you wish to have any chance at R. 1) She must go NC now on all levels nothing work related or anything else. She refuses you file for D and are gone. 2) No more begging or pick me dance. You must be firm with what you except and what she must do to meet your needs. If she can't let her know that you will file for D and be gone.

Some things you should demand she do is give you total access to all her communication, her whereabouts at all times and full truth about everything with the affair (no trickle truth's). Best of luck! If you choose to R I'm afraid you have a long road ahead.

[This message edited by HappilyMarried1 at 7:55 PM, April 30th (Friday)]

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 sleeplessinSTL (original poster New Member #78728) posted at 3:41 AM on Saturday, May 1st, 2021

Thank you all for the comments, they are all spot on.

@hikingout both of your posts, sound exactly like what my WW is doing, especially the issue of a larger problem that she needs to sort out. I even thought she could be having a mid life crisis.

At this point we've been "trying R" since September 2020. Its felt like I'm pulling all of the weight and she has these talks or interactions through work with the AP.

A few weeks ago she told me the "I love you but no in love with you" and she said she thought she should feel it by now. She also said the AP really "understood" her and feels like I just don't. She also keeps bringing up things I did (like not eating a dinner she cooked) from years ago.

She told me yesterday she consulted with an attorney to understand what the process could be - she didn't say where she left it.

Does it sounds like I need to just cut my losses here?

I had lunch with a friend who had a similar situation and he suggested proposing mediation (instead of lawyers to save on $ and heartache), and starting to withdraw from her to see how she responds.

posts: 19   ·   registered: Apr. 28th, 2021
id 8655765
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fareast ( Member #61555) posted at 4:07 AM on Saturday, May 1st, 2021

Sorry you are going through this. Your WW’s actions are very common for a cheater: blameshifting and rewriting your marital history to justify her cheating in her own mind. There is no justification. You have received great advice so far. Please reread the posts by josiep and sisoon. There is a lot of concise wisdom to take in.

Remember you are the prize. You deserve to be treated with respect and to be happy as josiep said. Always value yourself. Your WW has not given you much to work with. If she refuses to go no contact with the AP and refuses to address her brokenness that allowed her to rationalize being unfaithful you have no other options. Be true to yourself. Good luck.

Never bother with things in your rearview mirror. Your best days are on the road in front of you.

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OwningItNow ( Member #52288) posted at 4:18 AM on Saturday, May 1st, 2021

Do you understand the 180? I think it is time to detach from this M for your own sanity and dignity. It will allow you to see things more clearly.

This does not mean being cold or cruel to your WW, but it does mean removing her as your focus. Time to focus on you, not your M. This will also end the "nicing her back into the M" that is not helping.

Nobody is able to appreciate and value what they take for granted. Instead, because what they have is so normal, it's almost impossible to even see it clearly. It's this invisible part of daily life.

A WS almost always feels this way, maybe because the BS has been too accommodating, or maybe because the WS is so selfish, or maybe both. There are multiple reasons that might contribute--recent trauma, a midlife crisis, low self-esteem, a feeling of powerlessness in the M, whatever. But a WS almost always has this mindset that the marriage is a constant, a given, routine, dependable, and just there.

Your MC figures that offering more of this will snap your WW out of the excitement of new romance? Nothing could be further from the truth. You are invisible to your WW. She cannot remember your good qualities, see what a catch you are, or recall what life without the comfort of M is like. And with the AP, she is equally blind because she is IMAGINING what things will be like--but she has no clue.

She cannot see anything clearly or honestly right now.

It's time to let her start living what she imagines she wants--no dinners with you, no family time, no chit chat, no extended family visits, no tv shows or laughter, no shared chores or friendship. You need to start dressing up and going out with some friends. She needs to "see" you again, see who you really are and what you mean in her life. She may not care, but then you know. But she may care. She may have just forgotten.

me: BS/WS
h: WS/BS

Reject the rejector.
Do not reject yourself.

posts: 5263   ·   registered: Mar. 16th, 2016   ·   location: Midwest
id 8655773
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ChamomileTea ( Member #53574) posted at 5:01 AM on Saturday, May 1st, 2021

I had lunch with a friend who had a similar situation and he suggested proposing mediation (instead of lawyers to save on $ and heartache), and starting to withdraw from her to see how she responds.

She's a doctor who plans on hooking up with another doctor. There are no Honorable Mention awards for being a good sport while you're dumped out of your marriage, right? So... if you're going to lawyer up, do it like you mean it. Make appointments with 3 or 4 of the best in town, then pick one who's willing to work toward getting you the best possible settlement. You'll be married 10 years in October, so if she's making more than you are, make sure you stretch until you've met the 10-year mark. That can get you a longer period of alimony in some states and will make you eligible for social security benefits too if I'm not mistaken.

Divorce is business. Treat it that way. A person who can cheat on you and then give you the ILYBNILWY speech can't be trusted to be generous at the discard. If she was honorable, you wouldn't be in the position you're in, would you?

[This message edited by ChamomileTea at 11:39 PM, April 30th (Friday)]

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id 8655783
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Organic2003 ( Member #69811) posted at 8:02 AM on Saturday, May 1st, 2021

Divorce is business. Treat it that way. A person who can cheat on you and then give you the ILYBNILWY speech can't be trusted to be generous at the discard. If she was honorable, you wouldn't be in the position you're in, would you?

READ and reread CT's post, I know you are in tremendous pain but do not be a doormat, hire a great attorney and make sure you have ALL your rights understood.

I made the mistake of trusting a WW and got my clock cleaned by using my attorney friend who had no business dealing in what turned into a contagious D. She hired a great attorney and spent real money on the divorce she WON big. I trusted my WW to be honorable???!!!

No mediation get yourself an attorney that represents YOU.

[This message edited by Organic2003 at 2:03 AM, May 1st, 2021 (Saturday)]

There is opportunity in EVERYTHING

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id 8655802
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redbaron007 ( Member #50144) posted at 8:49 AM on Saturday, May 1st, 2021

sleeplessinSTL,

With a young kid, I feel for you man...but here's the thing. When your cheating wife throws pseudo-scientific stuff at you like "fog", "limerence" and other nonsense, serve them divorce papers...proven remedy and works like a charm.

It also demonstrates:

<1>You have a backbone and are not co-dependent.

<2>You have mentally geared up for a future without her.

<3> You are not ready to play the pick me dance

<4> Clearly demonstrate that the ball is in HER court, that YOU are the prize that SHE needs to work for, not the other way around.

So stand up for yourself brother.

Me: BS (44)
She: WS (41)
One son (6)
DDay: May 2015 (OBS told me)
Divorced, Zero regrets, sound sleep, son doing great!
A FOG is just a weather phenomenon. An Affair Fog is a clever excuse invented by WS's to explain their continued bad behavior.

posts: 220   ·   registered: Oct. 30th, 2015   ·   location: West Coast
id 8655803
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nekonamida ( Member #42956) posted at 2:38 PM on Saturday, May 1st, 2021

Does it sounds like I need to just cut my losses here?

Unfortunately, yes. If she's talking to lawyers, she's already got one foot out the door and the other starting to move out too. You can offer mediation but also see your own lawyer to get an idea of what you would be entitled to and what a fair offer would look like from your side. If she's angry about things as little as a dinner from years ago, she's probably not going to play fair in the distribution.

posts: 4961   ·   registered: Mar. 31st, 2014   ·   location: United States
id 8655842
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