Buddy, listen: If you called her a c***, or a bitch or a whore you might be out of line… but an honest and accurate assessment of the facts of the situation and your feelings about it? That’s not out of line..
That’s fucking necessary.
I know you really want to try and salvage this marriage, but please, please, please understand that you trying to protect her from facing the reality of her actions (as well as the repercussions of them) isn’t going to accomplish that.
If anything it’s going to have the exact opposite effect in the long term.
And this is coming from someone that is over ten years out and successfully reconciled.
If you are going to have a hope in hell of salvaging anything even remotely resembling a functional relationship out of this shit storm, you are going to need to be able to express your fucking feelings (yes even sometimes the mean negative ones that make her feel all bad) to her as honestly as you can and as frequently as you feel the need.
She is going to need to be able to put on her big girl pants and take it. And not just because you need to be able to express it, but more importantly because she needs to fucking hear it. Her getting upset about it means that she has not yet full allowed herself to own and accept her own shitty behavior.
Protecting her from having to own and accept her behavior isn’t doing her any fucking favors. It’s enabling her to take that ugly piece of herself that she doesn’t like to look at and lock it away in the dark so she never has to think about it or look at it again.
But the thing is, those ugly pieces of ourselves we don’t like to look at? They don’t ever stay locked up. They sit festering in the dark getting more toxic until they find some new and even more destructive way to manifest themselves.
You don’t get rid of your demons by hiding them away in the dark. You get rid of them by exposing them to the light. Dragging them out into the open where they can be examined, warts and all, and then exorcised.
You wanna know when I really knew that my FWW and I were making real fucking progress? It was when she could, matter-of-factly, without defensiveness without crippling shame, without hysterical crying, admit and openly discuss with me how truly and absolutely abhorrent her behavior had been.
That ability to openly talk about it, without defensiveness or crippling shame, demonstrated ownership, accountability and empathy. It also demonstrated that she realized that her past behavior did not have to dictate the kind of person she was going to be in the future. That she could change, that she was in the process of becoming a better person. She didn’t have to feel overpowering shame or defensiveness because the person whose actions we were discussing was a person that she used to be.. Not the person that she was becoming.
Of course, that shit took time. We didn’t get there overnight.
And we sure as shit did not get there by me giving her any free passes on this stuff.
You want to make this marriage work? You want it to survive? Then next time shit gets heavy and real like that do not fucking back away from the awkwardness.
Lean the fuck into it. Push forward into it. Explore it, discuss it. And for fucks sake do not try to sugar coat it or softball it. That doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole, you don’t necessarily need to be mean…
But you absolutely need to be real you need to be honest.
And that’s what happen there. She asked you a question and you answered it honestly. You were real with her. She expected you to lie and tell her everything was ok. That’s what she wanted to hear… because that’s nice and easy and she doesn’t have to feel bad. She didn’t have to do any difficult introspection or self examination. Most importantly she doesn’t have to do any of the hard fucking work of changing.
Instead you told her the truth, which is harder to look at and hurts because it casts her in a bad light. The truth is fucking scary because it means that she might actually have to face some ugly shit about herself. Worse still, it means she might have to do some of the difficult and frightening work of actually trying to change some of that ugly shit about herself.
But nevertheless the truth is what needs to be said if the two of you are going to have a hope in hell of fixing this stuff.
So yeah, you screwed up! Not because of what you said but because you let her stop the conversation just when it was starting to get somewhere productive.
But that’s ok, you are sure to get a bunch more opportunities to get it right. This shit takes years to work through.
Ask me how I know.