Glad to hear NC is rock solid. You're doing great! Keep it up! Yes, holidays can suck. With each month that passes it will get easier and easier. I promise.
I'd like to play along and answer your original question by delving into my situation. Thanks for your patience - this will be a long post. I'm still trying to figure out "why" to my satisfaction - none of H's explanations worked for me. 'Cuz I'm not wired that way. A truthful person operates with a lopsided view of the world. I'm honest, therefore I give folks the benefit of the doubt until proved otherwise. Infidelity shook my world view. I no longer trust openly. Trust but verify is what works for me now. Which is a more realistic approach to handling the world.
I agree that for a standard EA/PA the AP enters the picture first, and then the devalue kicks in to justify the affair in the WS mind. Compartmentalization helps the WS keep the pieces in play. My H seriously thought he'd never get caught. That he could keep his family in one box and the betrayal in another box and it was okay because by golly, he deserved it. "There must be happiness somewhere!" "I've worked hard for years for you and D, now I'm going to do something for me" blah, blah, blah.
The sex wasn't the worst of it for me. AP was never a threat to me or our marriage.
It was the brutal devalue phase, and yes, the post D-day lying that cemented my diagnosed PTSD. And brought our decades long marriage to the brink. The hardest thing about how things went down is this - my husband never voluntarily shared ANY of the details or told me the truth about ANYTHING until I peeled back each lie, layer by layer. The betrayal was bad enough; the repeated lying made it even worse. Until the lightbulb went on over his head and he realized lies of omission are still lies so FINALLY came forward on his own with what I now understand was his version of a "timeline."
That late winter/spring before the EA went physical he stopped talking to me unless I confronted him. He’d shrug off my hand when I touched him. He was busy devaluing me, looking for excuses to cheat on me. He was also busy devaluing our Daughter, our town, and our home. He spent HOURS sitting on the couch surfing through online realty listings. Chumpy me thought he was looking for a second vacation or retirement home for us! In his mind he had one foot out the door. Ready to discard us. Not to be with AP, but to be fancy free. One last hurrah before old age. And, he did a great job fabricating all kinds of justifications to rationalize his behavior by pushing my buttons to get me angry, to get me to withdraw from him. D and I were tiptoeing around him, giving him space to get through whatever was obviously bugging him. Which further isolated us from each other. He was busy judging me with his finger on the scale; provoking me and rejecting me at the same time. He was behaving like a huge jerk! Which of course got a reaction from me, and not always "is everything okay?" Sometimes I’d call him out on his shoddy treatment of me. Which served his goal to devalue me "see what a b**** she is, she doesn’t care about me, blah blah blah" – manufacturing justification to escalate the EA to a PA. Which they did. Eventually. After he spent those months placing the blame for his unhappiness squarely on my shoulders. Her tenacious kibble dispensing/texting and astute tactic of offering no strings sex in her no reservations (no $$) required bed finally did the trick.
So, to me the most important task for our reconciliation was for my H to recognize that it wasn't me, it was HIM. All that BS he fabricated in his mind about how awful I was so he was JUSTIFIED to betray had to be walked back and acknowledged as false. Was our marriage perfect before D-day? No, it wasn’t. We were profoundly disconnected for a couple of years before his affair. Our disconnection wasn’t all his fault. The poor state of our marriage was 50% on me, 50% on him. I owned my 50% during reconciliation. But I never gave up on our marriage, I was invested in making things work. Which involved making my needs very small, and stuffing down conflict to keep the peace. I was unhappy during that time as well, yet I didn’t have an affair. He had to own that 100%.
He didn't love me during the devalue phase. Or immediately post D-day. He did value me as his friend and partner, but he didn't care about me, he was number one. Nor did he care about AP. Because it was his time to really live. According to him. My main concern (besides whether or not I could ever trust him again) was that devalue phase - can it ever be undone in the WS mind? It took a few months of introspection, turmoil and affair bubble bursting for him to start unraveling the lies about our marriage he fabricated to relieve his guilt. Or in SI lingo "come out of the fog." I especially enjoyed ripping off the rose colored glasses he wore to purposefully obscure the true nature of AP. He gets it now. I really believe this. But it's different now. My trust but verify approach to life includes him. Which saddens me (sometimes), but is a more realistic foundation for R. And yes, marriage in general.
[This message edited by BoundaryBuilder at 10:41 PM, Saturday, January 15th]