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Reconciliation :
What does true R look like for you

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 Luna10 (original poster member #60888) posted at 4:40 PM on Thursday, November 4th, 2021

I was T/Jing like crazy on another thread further down so I thought I’d open a new one. What does true R look like for you? I’m rambling a bit further down with my view of it.


I hope you don’t mind me quoting you here Thumos.

If we are empathetic, I think we should avoid the usual "well maybe it's just a dealbreaker for YOU" or "maybe you just haven't worked hard enough" and try to delve a little deeper. Especially given the recent spate of research suggesting talk therapy has limited efficacy and a limited shelf life or sell-by date.

I find this conversation constructive so I hope you don’t take it as a total disagreement. 🙂

I don’t view the "BS work" as only a series of various therapy sessions to teach them to suck it up or swallow the shit sandwich.

IC for me is a form of self discovery to ensure that the right coping mechanisms are activated and used as a reaction to trauma and to replace my previous shitty coping mechanisms which included suicide ideation post dday (and more).

But beyond that, beyond IC, I had to define what I REALLY wanted from life. Marriages are sometimes miserable without any infidelity attached to them. In fact I can think of two marriages now, at this moment in time, that in comparison with mine, infidelity and all, I’d rather have mine. And theirs has not experienced betrayal (of that I’m sure).

I understood fairly quickly that I will not be able to settle for less or the same as before dday when it comes to our relationship because in the initial stages my WH kept offering the same like all WSes. Naturally for their universal reaction, he wanted things to go back to normal (with a few crumbs on top). But the same marriage, in the context of infidelity, meant less. So for me it had to be better or not at all. That enabled me to define what "healing the marriage" looked like and state my new found boundaries (beyond the "no more cheating" ones).

And then me… healing myself… I can totally own up with spending the first 6 months revenge plotting. How I’d cheat on him too. How I’d lead him to believe that I’m over it and then bam! he’d find proof of my affair. In fact a certain user here to whom I communicated by PMs can testify to all this and my erratic thinking.

But once the mentioned above coping mechanisms did get activated (yes, in talking therapy) I understood what the real work meant. I won’t get into all of it but I’ll repeat this: today I’m with WH not because of the kids, not because I’m financially tied up to him, not because I’m scared to be alone (the moment I remembered that I don’t need a man to be happy for the rest of my life was revolutionary indeed), not because I’m scared to divide our assets, but because I like who he is today due to his own work and I WANT him in my life. And should he turn up to be a disappointment again I have worked bloody hard to be in a better position to cut the cord.

I was listening to a podcast recently on brain patterns and how the human brain actively chooses to return to what is familiar. If self sacrifice, abuse, pain, suffering is a pattern formed as a comfort zone for us, as a familiar environment, we will keep returning there again and again without a chance of really healing our wounds. I’m sure you’ve come across all this information too. Growth shows up only when we deny our brain the desire to return to the same negative familiar place. Therefore, for me at least, there comes a point where I actively had to draw a line and ask myself if I’m willing to accept the A happened and if I’m satisfied with still being married to my WH or, if not, what is my next step in order to be happy.

That’s what the BS work looks like for me.

To mix in some more metaphors, they are like Winston in "1984" - they know exactly how shitty things are and refuse to assent to the propaganda. They've seen the emperor has no clothes. They've seen this fact in all its ugly nakedness. And they will not accept the lie, even if positioned as a "noble lie."

They cannot sustain the cognitive dissonance that is required -- with all of the requisite emojis and exclamation points and happy clappy talk -- and so they "freak out" 10, 20, 40 years later because they are having a moment of true, awful clarity.

I’m gonna say it again, not sure if you omitted it on purpose in my previous post or not: I’m yet to find a thread where the WS did the REAL work, the BS did the REAL work, they rebuilt the marriage they desired to have and the BS returned years later to still state they are in the same place as years before and cannot live a happy life.

The fact that you use present tense in the passage quoted above in fact proves to me that not much work has been done on one side or both sides of the relationship.

[This message edited by Luna10 at 5:59 PM, Thursday, November 4th]

BW - 38 at the time of the A
WH - 45 at the time of the A
Dday - 27/9/2017

posts: 1412   ·   registered: Oct. 2nd, 2017   ·   location: Europe
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Thumos ( member #69668) posted at 6:08 PM on Thursday, November 4th, 2021

I don't mind being quoted, just so the moderators know.

I suppose I was reacting to the notion of talk therapy as a panacea, or that if someone is struggling, they just need to sign up for some more talk therapy or haven't done it enough. I don't want to dismiss it. In fact, I think it is quite helpful. I've done it. However, I have to agree with the recent research that it's utility only goes so far. Then at some point you're paying someone a lot of money to do a lot of things you could do yourself. That's the point I arrived at. I do some self therapy through "writing out loud" here. Through prayer. Though intense reading, exercise, walking. And talking to friends. At some point, I may sign up again for additional talk therapy. But it seemed to run its course for me for now.

I’m yet to find a thread where the WS did the REAL work, the BS did the REAL work, they rebuilt the marriage they desired to have and the BS returned years later to still state they are in the same place as years before and cannot live a happy life.

The present tense is because, in my view, the shit sandwich is a horrifically magical sandwich that keeps filling up the plate. You can choke that shit sandwich down. Sooner or later, it seems to me, you'll vomit it back up again.

I'm glad you started this thread, because frankly this always seems ill-defined to me. "The work" - but I've rarely read someone actually talk about specifics. Or if they do, it seems like a lot of bare minimums that any faithful person would reasonably have expected and should have expected ABSENT infidelity. So if that's what they are getting now, well maybe it feels better than what they had before. But with infidelity larded on to the situation, to it's a "do better, do more, surpass those minimal expectations" kind of thing. Personally. It's the work of a lifetime, and the wayward spouse had better figure out how to go big or go home.

Turn pro, essentially. It had better knock my socks off. There are some "pro" WS's here. They work their A-game. They come with their game face on. We all know the ones. They seem passingly rare. I wish there were more.

I don't read typically "stronger, better" marriages after infidelity that seem to have that. I'm sorry, but the bar is really high for me. I had a good marriage before the infidelity. My wife now agrees, though she spent the first few years perpetrating a false rewriting of our marriage. (as an aside, based on my reading, I'm noticing an emerging consensus among even adultery apologists like Perel now increasingly assenting that infidelity seems to happen in good marriages more often than in "bad marriages."). So the bar should be very high indeed for a post-infidelity marriage. It had better be "more than." Frankly, I don't see a lot of that here or anywhere else.

[This message edited by Thumos at 6:21 PM, Thursday, November 4th]

"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: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

posts: 4387   ·   registered: Feb. 5th, 2019   ·   location: UNITED STATES
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ISurvivedSoFar ( member #56915) posted at 6:31 PM on Thursday, November 4th, 2021

I love this thread - thank you Luna10 for starting it.

I have to say that the real work unfortunately falls both on the BS and WS as Luna indicates. I would not be where I am today had I not taken the time to totally dissect my trauma from infidelity that lead to other lifetime traumas and revelations about my behavior. I believe trauma therapy is much different - it includes a processing and purging of the fear that is underlying and to do that EMDR or EFT work well which is more than just talk although I understand the reference for simplicity sake.

More than that though, it provided me the opportunity to understand my WS better. I had no idea that for the 20 years prior to infidelity his behavior and reactions had much different meaning than mine. I had no idea the thought processes in his head were so divergent from mine. The opposite is true too. Through the work with MC and our respective IC's we learned how to not only heal from the pain caused from infidelity, but we learned what it means to attune to someone else while keeping your own self whole. I can honestly say neither one of us knew how to do that before.

So this is a way better, deeper and honest partnership than before infidelity. It comes at a cost though and I think we all know what that is.

DDay Nov '16
Me: BS, a.k.a. MommaDom, Him: WS
2 DD's: one adult, one teen,1 DS: adult
Surviving means we promise ourselves we will get to the point where we can receive love and give love again.

posts: 2642   ·   registered: Jan. 15th, 2017
id 8696782
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Thumos ( member #69668) posted at 6:59 PM on Thursday, November 4th, 2021

It comes at a cost though and I think we all know what that is.

Well, I'm not on the other side like you, so no, I don't know. What is the cost? Because I think anyone should count the cost before engaging in such a venture.

"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: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

posts: 4387   ·   registered: Feb. 5th, 2019   ·   location: UNITED STATES
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Oldwounds ( member #54486) posted at 7:30 PM on Thursday, November 4th, 2021

True R — a bit of a dangerous phrase to me — as I may not be certain what ‘true’ is for other people.

But I understand the gist, in that R tends to WORK better when both partners are committed to rebuilding the marriage.

I can only ever share what’s true for me and if turns out some people can relate to that, all the better.

I think R starts with the BS offering a gift they don’t owe the WS.

For me, the work, didn’t start in earnest until I felt good enough about my choice to R.

That took more than two years to be okay with my decision.

Our MC suggested I’ll get the relationship I aim for. If I wanted love, I would have to give it, if I wanted my wife to be vulnerable again, I had to be vulnerable again.

Aiming for what I wanted took practice.

A lot of false starts.

I LIKED MY WALLS being up. I built some awesome defenses.

I could have lived there the rest of my days.

I read the advice from another member on SI, who said pretty much the same thing as my MC.

We tend hit what we aim for.

So that aim, that direction, the work, whatever was to take small steps in allowing my wife to earn some trust back, to allow her ‘in’ — to let her reach out to me.

My work was also healing myself. I did that by some IC, a lot of workouts to literally get healthy and I did things I loved to do. Music, movies, stand—comedy shows (live shows slowed with the pandemic stuff), and trips to places that gave me joy (a few beaches and some mountain hikes along the way).

My wife’s work has been to try to balance a wrong that cannot be balanced, but she tries anyway.

My R is focused on kindness and giving, and the more kind and giving each of us have been, we find more love.

Our life now shouldn’t have been born of trauma, and certainly not the pain caused by her shitty choices.

And yet, we chose to rebuild anyway.

I used to use in spite of, or despite the infidelity, but the facts are we got here because our relationship had been burned to the ground and the only way to keep it going was up.

She stepped up.

I let her.

My life is as good as it has ever been now.

That’s our R.

Married 34+ years, together 40+ years
Two awesome adult sons.
Dday 6/16 4-year LTA Survived
Restoration takes time.
"Circumstances don't make the man, they only reveal him to himself." ― Epictetus

posts: 4217   ·   registered: Aug. 4th, 2016   ·   location: PNW. The adventure continues.
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ISurvivedSoFar ( member #56915) posted at 8:16 PM on Thursday, November 4th, 2021

@Thumos,

What is the cost? Because I think anyone should count the cost before engaging in such a venture.

The cost was thrust on us and was done before the healing started - that's all about the ramifications of a betrayal of this magnitude. We cannot turn back time and bring back the blind trust we had prior to infidelity. It's not a bargain we can make. Whether or not I stayed with my WS, that part of my life was lost.

I wouldn't want blind trust now in hindsight. Even if I was not with my WS and with another person, I wouldn't have blind trust. So your choice is a false one I'm afraid.

DDay Nov '16
Me: BS, a.k.a. MommaDom, Him: WS
2 DD's: one adult, one teen,1 DS: adult
Surviving means we promise ourselves we will get to the point where we can receive love and give love again.

posts: 2642   ·   registered: Jan. 15th, 2017
id 8696799
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 Luna10 (original poster member #60888) posted at 8:28 PM on Thursday, November 4th, 2021

It's the work of a lifetime, and the wayward spouse had better figure out how to go big or go home.

Yup, 100%. I don’t think I’ll ever write my story in the successful reconciliation thread although I’m silently (and louder on this thread) acknowledging that it is going better than I expected, however I do believe that it is the work of a lifetime. I don’t consider myself reconciled but rather in the process of reconciliation.

I still assess if I’m happy with where I am regularly. This looks like this: am I happy with who WH is and his continued efforts? Am I happy with who I am individually, away from my WH? Is our marriage a happy one? Currently the answer is yes. Don’t imagine I am constantly walking on cloud nine. I’ve never met a perfect person/marriage therefore there is always room for improvement.

I totally agree with you that sometimes too little is accepted as "the work" and perhaps that’s why I posted on the other thread, because I see R as a moving the mountains process. True, it all starts with transparency and accountability provided by the WS. But what next? A few weeks ago I was wondering myself if
perhaps with all the work that my WS has done it may not be enough. Something triggered me (absolutely nothing to do with WH at this point in time) and my brain wanted to return to the comfortable and well known environment, so familiar to me, of hyper vigilance and put me in investigation mode. I found that stage the most humiliating one, the idea that a man remains faithful to me just because I track his movements is very demeaning, at least to me. So I hope nobody ever settles for "but I have full transparency, a tracker and all their passwords" only. Oh I still have those, but that won’t ever be enough long term.

Hence my research into brain patterns. Not because I want to make my WH’s life easier by not checking up on him ever again but because I understand that this engrained brain pattern would manifest itself regardless of the man next to me.

I had a good marriage before the infidelity. My wife now agrees, though she spent the first few years perpetrating a false rewriting of our marriage. (as an aside, based on my reading, I'm noticing an emerging consensus among even adultery apologists like Perel now increasingly assenting that infidelity seems to happen in good marriages more often than in "bad marriages."). So the bar should be very high indeed for a post-infidelity marriage. It had better be "more than."

Yeah I guess that’s where I feel misunderstood a lot by external parties: I had a good marriage before. Everyone (including an IC and two MC, later dismissed) tried to convince me my marriage had to be shitty before. Nope, not really. We were happy. Post dday yes, of course we discovered a lot to improve, as I said I wasn’t willing to settle for less. But what we had before was pretty good. My WH said so from day 1. I mean he did give me some shitty list about things that now make me laugh and make him want to die in shame if I ever mention it (I didn’t make him a tea after a night shift and we didn’t sleep naked to ensure emotional connection laugh , there you go, if you ever need mind fuck justifications for falling into a vagina you know where to come) but from session one he was like a dear in the headlights when the MC asked him to explain what was missing. (Yes, we did MC first, big mistake, 6 sessions of gaslighting until I ran out of there sobbing and got my own IC). Nothing, we were happy. She even told him to forget I was there because he obviously was scared to tell me. I’m 5’2.

At this point came in the work, his one. Digging deep. Facing those demons. Be challenged in your thinking pattens. Be honest. Hours of IC, hours of talking about his affair. Reading. Arguing. Crying. It wasn’t straight forward. It was hell for both of us. But we are in a good place. I hate "showing off" with the work WH does because I feel it is a form of condoning the affair: "look what a good husband you can get if you catch him fuck another woman". But he did walk through fire to prove himself and it is a change person today. Tomorrow… we’ll see when that comes.

I had no idea that for the 20 years prior to infidelity his behavior and reactions had much different meaning than mine. I had no idea the thought processes in his head were so divergent from mine. The opposite is true too.

This was perhaps one of the most shocking discoveries post dday: the projection phenomenon. Everything I believed true about myself I thought it was also true for my WH too. My values, my feelings regarding certain situations. I was projecting. For example I believe lying is a hugely disloyal, my WH must have believed it too. It turns out he didn’t feel he was disloyal to me whilst cheating as he wasn’t taking away any time of his free time from me and he believed he was still a good father and husband. look . Those "truths" had to be realigned. Recalibrated. Unpacked. Re-packed. Funny how communication is key, I’ve heard it all my life but I had no (real) notion what it actually means. Nope, it doesn’t only mean talking about how your day was in the evenings. It means digging deep.

What is the cost? Because I think anyone should count the cost before engaging in such a venture.

For me is the loss of innocence. And that will not come back no matter what.

BW - 38 at the time of the A
WH - 45 at the time of the A
Dday - 27/9/2017

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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 8:48 PM on Thursday, November 4th, 2021

"Earned forgiveness" from Janis Spring's book "How Can I Forgive You" comes to mind.

Recompense, transference of vigilance, a return to feeling safe and loved.

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

posts: 1479   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8696804
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CaptainRogers ( member #57127) posted at 9:01 PM on Thursday, November 4th, 2021

But I understand the gist, in that R tends to WORK better when both partners are committed to rebuilding the marriage.

And it really takes both partners being "all in" as you have said many times before, my friend.

Two partners. Committed to rebuilding.

It absolutely takes a partner in order for R to work. One of the things to come out of our most recent MC session is my wife's confession that she hasn't had any interest in being a partner - a teammate - for the last 20 years. For the last 20 years, she has not looked at me as anything other than an adversary, someone with whom she was competing against in some imaginary competition.

And since D-Day v1.0, that same mindset has completely been an impediment to "true R".

Partners. Teammates. Together. It doesn't work any other way.

Committed to rebuilding. There are two pieces to that. First and foremost is the commitment. Not "I'll try." Not "For 'X' months". Not "As long as I'm happy."

Committed. Willing to do what is necessary to see it through as long as it takes.

I'm sure many here have thought I have needed to be committed (to the nut house) many times over. You're probably not wrong...

But the commitment must be there by both partners. And not just a "commitment" of convenience, but a commitment to work, to work hard, to work diligently, and to work purposefully.

Because that purpose is to rebuild. Not to make myself better. Not for Mrs. Cap to make herself better. To rebuild.

Several times, Mrs. Cap has SWORN that she is working on us because she's working on her. Two weeks ago, I told her in our MC session that she wasn't working on our relationship by working on herself. That would be like plowing the field and claiming that I was growing crops. No, I'm preparing the soil. Nothing has been planted, watered, weeded, or otherwise tended to. It's been made ready, but the field hasn't been planted.

Commitment. To rebuild.

It all takes TWO.

[This message edited by CaptainRogers at 9:03 PM, Thursday, November 4th]

BS: 42 on D-day
WW: 43 on D-day
Together since '89; still working on what tomorrow will bring.
D-Day v1.0: Jan '17; EA
D-day v2.0: Mar '18; no, it was physical

posts: 3048   ·   registered: Jan. 27th, 2017   ·   location: The Rockies
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ISurvivedSoFar ( member #56915) posted at 12:06 AM on Friday, November 5th, 2021

I have to say that yes it takes two but the very odd thing about recovering from this betrayal and getting to R seems to run counter to R in that each party has a lot of work to do before true R is possible. I had no idea if R was going to work and certainly my WS tested and tested and tested and pushed me away. I was and am ready to live my life with him or live my life without him. That puts me in a great position to feel whole and be ready for R. The same is true for him. Until he could get to the point where he was good with me and good without me, he was ready to come together to reconcile into a new partnership.

Don't get me wrong. So much changed and there was a lot of conditions for R like him realizing he created a lopsided relationship and violated trust. But once we could get past those issues and he could understand the position he put himself in, we could come together under new conditions that made us both comfortable and happy. Things aren't perfect - the scars and wounds are real and they don't go away instantly. Oldwounds says it well,

Aiming for what I wanted took practice.

A lot of false starts.

I LIKED MY WALLS being up. I built some awesome defenses.

I could have lived there the rest of my days.

Yep and when I dug my heals in I had every intention of making them stick right there. But I couldn't because again Oldwounds says it well,

Our MC suggested I’ll get the relationship I aim for. If I wanted love, I would have to give it, if I wanted my wife to be vulnerable again, I had to be vulnerable again.

And this was the hardest for me. Until I let down those walls it wasn't possible to R. Go figure.

DDay Nov '16
Me: BS, a.k.a. MommaDom, Him: WS
2 DD's: one adult, one teen,1 DS: adult
Surviving means we promise ourselves we will get to the point where we can receive love and give love again.

posts: 2642   ·   registered: Jan. 15th, 2017
id 8696837
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CaptainRogers ( member #57127) posted at 3:04 AM on Friday, November 5th, 2021

Until I let down those walls it wasn't possible to R. Go figure.

Our MC put it this way:

We both have a wall for defense & protection. But between those walls is the park where we can play together. But in order for each of us to come out to play, we have to first show up, then we have to show each other that it is safe to be there.

If we come to the park with knives and arrows, the other person may look out from behind that wall, but they will never fully come out from behind it.

We both have to show that it's safe to be there AND respect when our partner doesn't feel like it's safe to show up. If they don't feel safe, we are welcome to ay in the park by ourselves, but if we go pounding on the door demanding that the other one come out...then they will be even more hesitant to show up.

Yep, we have to come out from behind those walls, but it does need to be a safe place to play.

BS: 42 on D-day
WW: 43 on D-day
Together since '89; still working on what tomorrow will bring.
D-Day v1.0: Jan '17; EA
D-day v2.0: Mar '18; no, it was physical

posts: 3048   ·   registered: Jan. 27th, 2017   ·   location: The Rockies
id 8696866
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prissy4lyfe ( member #46938) posted at 4:30 AM on Friday, November 5th, 2021

I think the thing that is most skipped and devalued on SI is the recovery phase.

BS take such little time to recover that the WS is usually able to use that period of time to continue to be hurtful.

It pisses me off...when posters nonchalantly tell a BS to "decide" "be all in". Yes... eventually they will have to but THATS SO FAR AWAY after dday. And I don't think that phase is given enough consideration.

Also...toxic happiness is a thing. When posters come and paint this picture of being all together or this completely wonderful awesome everything is perfect marriage it does a complete disservice to marriage. It's a messy, emotional, Union between two messy, emotional people. Before and after infidelity.

I am not in R. But I also don't consider myself in limbo. I chose...myself. my own joy, peace and growth. I continue to work on myself and encourage WH to do the same because no one deserves to be miserable. But I don't change my stride because he isn't working or hasn't gotten as far as I have in healing.

True R for mean has nothing to do with staying married. If WH comes puts in the work and we still decide to divorce...then we have reconciled. We have both chosen and agreed on the next phase of our relationship. And we have done that from a healthy place.

For me... reconciliation is two healthy people TOGETHER making the choice about the next phase of their relationship.. Divorce, living together, living separate, dating, being fuck buddies, being a married couple... FOR ME...are all viable healthy choices if we have both done the work, are healthy and decide together.

posts: 2017   ·   registered: Feb. 24th, 2015   ·   location: Virginia
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Notaboringwife ( member #74302) posted at 3:49 PM on Friday, November 5th, 2021

This is what is true for myself in my marriage after his infidelity: in no order of importance:

a) accepting that his infidelity is part of our history together.. it just is. We have 40+ years of good/bad memories.
b) relying on myself for happiness, joy and well-being. I decide how I want to react to triggers, to intrusive thoughts etc.etc. It is not my mind that decides for me.
c) asking for help, when I need it. Either here on SI, professionals, or friends or my husband.
d) prepared for any shifts in our relationship, for example: we both know that should he choose to have another affair, there are no third chances.
e) being fully aware of what I want for my well-being as well as my husband's well-being. In addition to our marriage's well-being.
f) our "we", our marriage is more important than the "me".
g) becoming self-aware...how I see stuff is not the same way others see the same stuff.
h) how utterly critical listening is! Listening for the meaning that the other person is trying to convey. Not listening to answer or retort to...which is my weakness.
i) in doing an exercise on losses and gains....thanks to an IC suggestion: whichever way I want to scream "but look at what I've lost" the work was for me to say"Yeah well, look at what you've gained" Ouch. For me that was hard. ... even today...and that's OK.

It's your road & yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you. Though nobody can go back and make a new beginning... you can start over and make a new ending.

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HardKnocks ( member #70957) posted at 4:51 PM on Friday, November 5th, 2021

For me... reconciliation is two healthy people TOGETHER making the choice about the next phase of their relationship.. Divorce, living together, living separate, dating, being fuck buddies, being a married couple... FOR ME...are all viable healthy choices if we have both done the work, are healthy and decide together.

A hearty agreement, here.

My status says "recovering" because that's where I'm at. It's my "true R." It's going well. Through IC (and to some extent MC) I have made significant discoveries, dealt with personal obstacles, and have come to terms with things in a way I hadn't for many years. I'm very pleased with my progress and I'm optimistic that it will continue. And yes I am doing the work and doing it consistently and for the long haul. I see no other way.

I would not choose to remain in a marriage with a FWS who did not work to transform themselves, or someone who refused to deliver on every one of my requests, but I still don't owe reconcilliation in that case, especially after 2 Ddays. I can decide that despite the infidelity (and other issues that *I* have been responsible for) the 30 year relationship is worthy and valuable on its own merit and still stands a chance, but I will be mindful and reflective to make sure my needs are being met, my partner works his demons and continues towards becoming safe, and the relationship stays healthy.

Over the last (nearly) 2 years my FWS and I have worked to create an honest relationship with promise, with continued assistance from talented ICs and an infidelity recovery-based MC worth his weight in gold, but it will take time to see whether real change has taken place within my spouse or if the new elements of the relationship are sustainable. My IC helps me with introspection, clarity, and empowerment which has made all the difference. I'm at a place where I'm truly not dependent on the outcome, and it feels good.

BW 30-year marriage.
DDay2 2/20 5 month EA/PA
Recovering

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humantrampoline ( member #61458) posted at 9:15 PM on Friday, November 5th, 2021

Luna,

Thank you. I appreciate this discussion.

Like others, I agree that it's up to each individual to decide what "true" reconciliation means. I don't reconsider myself reconciled, but I stay in my marriage for now. My thoughts are my opinions and not a judgement at all on others. It doesn't seem right or fair to me to tell others they and their spouse aren't or haven't truly done the real work to heal as I define it or to be reconciled. It doesn't seem fair to evaluate for someone else whether their marriage pre-infidelity was good or not.


I had no idea that for the 20 years prior to infidelity his behavior and reactions had much different meaning than mine. I had no idea the thought processes in his head were so divergent from mine. The opposite is true too.


This was perhaps one of the most shocking discoveries post dday: the projection phenomenon. Everything I believed true about myself I thought it was also true for my WH too. My values, my feelings regarding certain situations. I was projecting.

These things were also realizations for me after dday. Because of that, I will not say that my marriage was good. Even if I was happy, that was based on falsehoods and a lack of reality. I don't consider that a good marriage. I really didn't know my WS well or his values or beliefs on life or marriage. It's not clear to me whether he wasn't emotionally open or mature enough to fully be vulnerable and honest or there was miscommunication. It is clear that prior to his affair and during my WS was not open with me.

I like CaptainRogers' analogy of the two walls. There does have to be a level of trust and safety in order to open yourself to coming to play. I'm not sure I believe I have to be "all in" in marriage any longer.

I believe trauma therapy is much different - it includes a processing and purging of the fear that is underlying

I feel like facing my fears was a huge part of my personal healing. That was about facing my fears of losing my marriage and also confronting how I viewed marriage and family in general. I think I carried some unhealthy belief's from FOO.

today I’m with WH not because of the kids, not because I’m financially tied up to him, not because I’m scared to be alone (the moment I remembered that I don’t need a man to be happy for the rest of my life was revolutionary indeed), not because I’m scared to divide our assets, but because I like who he is today due to his own work and I WANT him in my life.

This is true for me also and it's what I need to stay in my marriage, but I won't ever say everyone needs that to have a successful marriage. That seems condescending. Also I know my own situation allows me privileges that others don't have.

What is the cost? Because I think anyone should count the cost before engaging in such a venture.


For me personally, I belief my view on marriage has changed.

f) our "we", our marriage is more important than the "me".

I think this is the attitude I came into my marriage with initially. I don't believe that anymore. I don't think my WS ever did. He has changed fundamentally to come closer to that belief, but I have now changed in the other direction. I said "for better or worse", and I meant that. I just don't now. I will leave if or when it suits me. I feel more commitment to my children and my siblings and maybe even my best friend then I do to my WH or my marriage. I tell my spouse that. He's shown he was previously capable of betraying the marriage and family without even letting me know to meet his own selfish needs. There's a potential he will do that again. Previously I felt I owed him and my marriage vow an allegiance that I simply no longer feel. Most would probably describe my marriage as not reconciled.

posts: 409   ·   registered: Nov. 17th, 2017
id 8697101
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Underserving ( member #72259) posted at 10:05 PM on Friday, November 5th, 2021

I can’t really say what being reconciled looks like to me, as I haven’t experienced it for myself yet. I consider myself in baby R.

What I wish was discussed more, or normalized, is how freaking hard reconciling is. How utterly shitty it can be, and that doesn’t mean it’s doomed, or neither of you are "R material." A marriage cannot be obliterated, and then immediately rebuilt all shiny and new without some really tough days in the mix. We are talking two flawed human beings trying to rebuild from the ashes. Add in anger, trauma, shame, and all the other shit that comes with infidelity, and it’s going to be messy. The most remorseful wayward is not going to be perfect. The most determined betrayed isn’t going to be perfect. No book, infidelity expert, or therapist can prepare you for how grueling R can be. Even when you have two people willing to do "the work.

Idk I’m just tired of feeling reluctant to share how hard this is sometimes because I don’t want to hear "maybe infidelity has always been a dealbreaker for you." It was! We are working on a new deal, and it’s not always rainbows and sunshine. I just want to hear that it’s fucking normal for this to suck sometimes, because I can’t imagine this is supposed to be easy.

BW (32)Found out 3 years post end of AD-day 12-9-19In R

Infidelity brings out the cuss in me. I’m not as foul mouthed in real life. ;)

posts: 732   ·   registered: Dec. 9th, 2019
id 8697109
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Oldwounds ( member #54486) posted at 10:29 PM on Friday, November 5th, 2021

No book, infidelity expert, or therapist can prepare you for how grueling R can be. Even when you have two people willing to do "the work.

It would be a very depressing book if anyone ever decide to write about how hard R is — or how traumatic infidelity REALLY is, whether one stays married or not.

I do think the difficulty is covered here at SI with every post members generate from the time they enter JFO to the few who make it to posting in the happy recon stories thread atop this forum.

I vented so much over my first three years, I was surprised I didn’t get run out of here with some of my complaints about the difficult road back.

In fact, I’m still surprised I made it whatever this other side is.

It is hard, it is brutal, and yeah, infidelity is ALWAYS a dealbreaker.

R is trying to figure out if a new deal can be good enough and real enough to be worthy of us.

That takes time.

A lot of (insert your favorite expletive here) time!

And regarding some of the ‘all in’ observations, I know none of us even know if we WANT to be all in for a long time too. Eventually, all in for both people. Hell, my wife tried to be all in from the time she confessed, but she had no idea what that meant or what it would take to fully commit to a rebuild I wasn’t ready for.

Ultimately, my only concern is how well people recover, then I worry about whether their R is going as smooth as possible.

If we never regain our swagger, our full on bad ass sense of self, no R in the world will make us ‘feel’ better, until we’re ready. It’s also totally okay if people are never ready — as long as they heal at best possible pace.

So yes, we should clearly add that R, true R or not, is very, very hard.

Married 34+ years, together 40+ years
Two awesome adult sons.
Dday 6/16 4-year LTA Survived
Restoration takes time.
"Circumstances don't make the man, they only reveal him to himself." ― Epictetus

posts: 4217   ·   registered: Aug. 4th, 2016   ·   location: PNW. The adventure continues.
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WalkinOnEggshelz ( Administrator #29447) posted at 10:57 PM on Friday, November 5th, 2021

I don't mind being quoted, just so the moderators know.

Thank you for clarifying this. smile

I think this is a great topic.

I hope you don’t mind me adding that for us having a successful reconciliation meant having a level of vulnerability with each other that had never existed prior to DDay. There were so many things that we were both afraid to talk to each other about. In order to reconcile, we both had to get over those fears and let each other in. We made a lot of assumptions about each other. That doesn’t happen anymore.

Me: WS late 40’s
Him: BH (HoldingTogether)
D Day: 7/24/2010
If you keep asking people to give you the benefit of the doubt, they will eventually start to doubt your benefit.

posts: 14481   ·   registered: Aug. 27th, 2010   ·   location: Texas
id 8697127
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Thumos ( member #69668) posted at 10:59 PM on Friday, November 5th, 2021

It comes at a cost though and I think we all know what that is.

This thread prompted me to get specific with myself about what I feel I've lost the past five years, and what the cost has been.

I like Sisoon's framing of reconciliation to say that rather than claiming to be reconciled with a tidy bow, it's probably more accurate to say most people are in a lifelong process of working on reconciliation. I think that actually describes me. I have worked mightily through the process of forgiveness (different from reconciliation). I've been through marriage rescue programs like Retrouvaille. And I have looked objectively and practically at remaining with my wife for now.

That said, I think for so many of us, it is more accurate to say we are "reconcile-ish" because our WS's really haven't measured up to what it takes for a BS to jump in with both feet. I'm noting all of that to acknowledge that the past five years have been costly for me. I extended a great deal of grace to my WW. I have rarely said unkind things to her about the affair, have remained married to her, have offered her my faithfulness, made tremendous sacrifices to stay, and stuck with her through years of foot dragging. We went to MC, we both went to IC, she finally gave me her timeline, then she failed a polygraph. There's a lot more under the bridge. But here's what I think all of this has cost me:

1. The trust, yes. But let's dive deeper: The trust you repose in your spouse is, ideally, the highest trust you have for anyone. You trust this person the most out of 8 billion other human beings. Now when that trust is violated, it's not like being disillusioned by a friend or even a close relative. It has a more cosmic quality than that. It creates in my view a rift in time and space. It is a violation of the core marital covenant.

2. The innocence, yes. But I need to say more here. My wife was/is my one and only. I had a bunch of old fashioned ideas as a young man and wanted to honor myself and a woman by remaining in a lifelong monogamous commitment unspoiled by previous partners. I no longer think this. I'm much more cynical about sex. I see my WW as a FWB, and I really have no reservations about having plenty of sex with other women if I choose to divorce.

3. My health. My wife's gaslighting during the affair, her foot dragging afterwards, the gamesmanship around the polygraph, and then failing it, took a toll. Before my WW's affair, I was a handsome, fit, muscular man with low body fat and great skin to the point where people often compared me to a certain actor and never could believe I was 46. I'm not saying this to brag. I'm saying it for contrast. I'm not overly attached to my looks, but I always took pride in taking care of myself. I'm still good looking, still muscular and still get plenty of "pings" from women that I used to ignore before my WW's affair. But now I have elevated BP, I'm technically overweight (though I still have a lot of muscle mass and can hide it, and my BMI has always been inaccurate), and I had a heart attack scare right before the pandemic lockdowns began. I have a lot more gray now. I believe I am steadily getting my health back, but there's no doubt this took a toll. I learned recently that betrayal trauma typically has more negative health consequences than other forms of trauma, and I am beginning to understand this at a visceral level for myself.

4. Illusions -- romanticized illusions -- I held about the type of person my WW is/was. She's not that person. She's the person I now know instead.

I'm also dealing with processing several layers to my WW's infidelity. They are:

A. The affair itself -- which involved a double betrayal, a willful violation of the sanctity of our home, and involving our children in it.

B. The gaslighting during the affair -- separating from in the home after I gently asked her about phone records, convincing me I'd falsely accused her, trying to convince me to be prescribed SSRI anti-anxiety medication I DID NOT NEED.

C. The one recording I heard, in which my wife is a knowing and calculating individual enjoying talking to her AP about the sex they had, chuckling about it, running down their respective spouses as "assholes" etc. This contrasts with the person she presents who is "devastated" by what she did, didn't enjoy the sex, can't even be sure if he ejaculated, only had sex with him to keep his attention coming, claims to have been "manipulated" by the AP, and so on.

D. My WW's weird state after D-Day. Trickling out the truth (at least as much as I have it) over several weeks. Blameshifting. Saying things to me like I'm "immature" about sex because I've only been with one woman, her, and because I refuse to accept her description of the sex they had as "meaningless." Saying things like her AP "made me feel like no man, ever" -- as an aside, I'm sure you all can spot the laughable contradictions embedded in someone saying sex with someone you also claim made you feel like no man, ever (like no man, including me) was "meaningless sex" you didn't even enjoy. (And she sure went to great lengths and worked hard on planning to ensure they'd have an uninterrupted day of sex in our home.)

Once said, these things are hard to accept, and can't be written off as throwaway lines in the heat of the moment out of defensiveness. They can't be unheard, and for any thinking individual, you have to examine them in the full light of day and not shirk away from what they represent.

E. My WW's apathy about the basic bare minimums I'd asked for after D-Day. Dragging her feet for three years before writing a timeline. Refusing a polygraph for three years and then failing it. Wiping out the texts. Squirreling away evidence. Convincing me not to talk to the OBS until I finally did a year after D-Day. Not taking an STD test until I finally made it an ultimatum. And so on.

These all represent, for me, someone who is still carrying out unloving actions or has indifference about the impact of her toxic choices. Someone who was quite willing to invest months of time and energy away from the marriage in an affair with another man, but unwilling for more than 1,000 days to simply place her butt in a chair for a few hours to write a timeline. Since we know love is a verb, not a noun, I am left to conclude these unloving actions represent a way in which my WW sees "love" and this is a part of her worldview and life philosophy (you know what they say about a worldview, if you claim not to have one, that's your worldview). When worldviews are diametrically opposed, people can try to live with tolerance, but they can rarely find a way to do much more beyond that.

F. Finally, I am grappling with the basic lack of transparency and truth. While I have no firm proof my WW had more sex with the AP than she admitted (only once) I really don't need any proof. I already know she plowed right through my first soft confrontation, then convinced me I had falsely accused her, then planned a day of sex in our home with the AP while I was out of town. What I have in front of me are all of the actions of someone who was quite cunning and conscious of what she was doing, and is now trying to hide the truth. I don't see her as a supervillain, but rather as a run of the mill infidel. That is to say, a solipsistic, self involved person without a lot of empathy for her faithful husband. Someone who took him for granted, and perhaps still does. Refusing to let me see the texts, and then destroying them. Refusing to write a timeline, and then when it finally came, I learned significant new information about a particular night in question. Refusing a polygraph and then ultimately failing it. This is all important because of the first loss, trust. Trust cannot be restored in any meaningful way without truth. And without trust, any real intimacy becomes well nigh impossible in my view.

I know others have processed similarly complex and thorny issues, and feel they have reconciled. I continue to have a hard time seeing how to do it myself, to see my way clear. I've talked to therapists about this, and really there don't appear to be any good answers. It seems to me that, yes, of course a betrayed spouse must "work" with a WS to reconcile. But before that can even begin, the BS must heal. And then once healed to some degree, the WS has to be willing to step up FIRST to restore trust, offer authenticity and empathy, and own their choices without more lies. If a WS isn't offering this, reconciliation seems impossible. And I guess what I'm saying is, I don't feel I read a lot of stories here on SI in which a WS has been truly authentic and open and truly restored trust. If it's happening years later, well, I guess, fine, okay. But that seems cold comfort for a BS to think about waiting so long. And by then, I'd estimate a very high percentage of those BS's have fallen out of love completely.

[This message edited by Thumos at 11:11 PM, Friday, November 5th]

"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: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

posts: 4387   ·   registered: Feb. 5th, 2019   ·   location: UNITED STATES
id 8697129
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ISurvivedSoFar ( member #56915) posted at 11:21 AM on Saturday, November 6th, 2021

Thumos - I'm sorry this outlook is so bleak for you. It seems that your WS isn't forthcoming still so it is natural that you won't feel R is possible or even worthy.

What I have in front of me are all of the actions of someone who was quite cunning and conscious of what she was doing, and is now trying to hide the truth.

This is the crux of the issue. If she cannot get past this part then you have nothing.

And I guess what I'm saying is, I don't feel I read a lot of stories here on SI in which a WS has been truly authentic and open and truly restored trust. If it's happening years later, well, I guess, fine, okay. But that seems cold comfort for a BS to think about waiting so long. And by then, I'd estimate a very high percentage of those BS's have fallen out of love completely.

I trust my WS in as much as he has maintained his transparency and was forthcoming about the details of the A (eventually) even to the point where he offered and has told me very detailed information that he remembers. But I trust myself the most. That's what infidelity has taught me. That said, to this day the dialog is open between us and he offers anything openly and without provocation from me to be sure I feel secure. It took time to get to this place and during that time my feelings were lost to him. The question is can something new be built? If you don't have the truth at the outset then it will be very difficult to build something new.

How do you get to that place? In my case my WS had to go where he never went before and when that pressure valve was released he could finally stop hustling for this worth and be himself. And you know what? Everything got better - our relationship, his job, managing our finances, you name it. (Note: This was not overnight and yes my WS dragged on for some time with defensiveness, blame shifting and such. It definitely caused and emotional rift between us.)

Be careful though. I may have a more authentic relationship now but the work it took to get here for both of us was astounding. I think you are revealing the lack of that level of work to unpack layers of behavior to get to the root cause leaves relationships wobbly or at best where two individuals are tolerant of each other. And the lack of work isn't because of a lack of effort. It is mostly fear to go deep - I cannot tell you how much therapy it took for each of us to get deep enough to let go of our defenses. And that therapy was in fits and starts and with various therapists until we found the right combo. Even if we don't R this is an important component to get back or build emotional health.

I almost think we have to lose the feelings we once had in order to rebuild. I'm wondering if it is a natural part of the process to emotionally decouple so that we can come back together in a new way or be the final determinant to split.

DDay Nov '16
Me: BS, a.k.a. MommaDom, Him: WS
2 DD's: one adult, one teen,1 DS: adult
Surviving means we promise ourselves we will get to the point where we can receive love and give love again.

posts: 2642   ·   registered: Jan. 15th, 2017
id 8697201
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