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Just Found Out :
My Wife had an Intense, Highly Deceptive Affair

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Cooley2here ( member #62939) posted at 12:35 AM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

Covert narcissism is a fairly new concept. We all think of the grandiose man touting his wonderfulness. Coverts are those sad, pitiful beings who still manage to be on stage in the spotlight. You always feel sorry for them until you are exhausted. Things never get better. If one thing gets fixed five more show up. If this is what you are dealing with, good luck, you’re going to need it.

When things go wrong, don’t go with them. Elvis

posts: 3296   ·   registered: Mar. 5th, 2018   ·   location: US
id 8734939
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 1:03 AM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

So we had a rough conversation tonight. I was feeling down on our odds. I told her I thought I’d always feel betrayed and she’d never be able to forgive herself. I told her that everything she has done also coincidently aligns with her self-interest—she hasn’t done anything since the start of the affair that works against her but is in the best interest of me or the marriage. All the things she has done in the interest of me or the marriage align with her interests.

I noted how she was willing to take the affair to her grave and lie to me the rest of her life. She replied, noting the first two fake versions of the affair—she said she told me those fake stories to protect me because she thought the truth would kill me.

I became angry, but stayed calm and controlled. I told her that is an absolute lie and it would only require seconds of introspection to realize it. I told her she lied in that moment to protect herself and to maintain control because she was fearful I’d divorce her if I knew the truth—a fact she even admitted to when she finally broke down in the days following D-Day, telling me then that she lied because she thought I’d divorce her if I knew the truth.

And now, two months later, she was attempting to pedal the same lie. I told her this is such an obvious example of her lack of introspection and she had the gall to speak those words to me—there must be thousands of examples that I can’t even pick up on; moments of her past that she refuses to examine, instead just blindly accepting her twisted version of reality.

She broke down crying, saying she felt so stupid—that this was all obvious to me, but not to her. She didn’t know what "introspection" even meant.

I told her that is exactly why we can’t have these talks: I become angry at her missing what seems so obvious to me and she becomes resentful for me making her feel small. I told she needs to go off to her own corner of the world; her own corner of her mind, and examine her life. And then bring important revelations to her IC to discuss and unpack.

She suggested we do it at CT—I told her that’s fine, but "it’s not a marriage problem, it’s a you problem."

She understood and said she wanted to begin digging in now, so she went off to take a bath and write. We’ll see what comes of it, but I don’t think I could have been any more direct. I’m rooting for her.

[This message edited by Drstrangelove at 1:06 AM, Friday, May 13th]

Me: BH, 37
Her: WW, 37
DDay: March 15, 2022

posts: 304   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022
id 8734944
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DoinBettr ( member #71209) posted at 1:29 AM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

I do want to ask, what does she say she works with her IC on?
Does she tell you that or is she keeping that secret?
I am curious because introspection is a basic tool that should be built in her IC. It would involve her looking at an event and understanding why she acted the way she did. It is assuming your mind isn't some magic box of thoughts, that it is a muscle you can control. That is why a IC is like a trainer, they help you work on the painful parts until they become your strengths. Is that what your WW is doing? Don't say that or she will parrot it back. Just something I have experienced.

posts: 701   ·   registered: Aug. 7th, 2019   ·   location: Midwest
id 8734949
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DoinBettr ( member #71209) posted at 1:36 AM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

Oh, lastly, you can use these posts like a journal or get an actual journal. Something I did but it didn't really work for me but might for you is write down the answer to these three questions with 1-10 and a single line sentence every day:

How do you feel about your marriage today?

How do you feel about yourself today?

How do you feel about your wife today?

The reason is that you being analytical can use the daily average of the three to make a quick spreadsheet. Chart your average by month for the next couple of months and be honest with yourself. Try to do this consistently at the start or end of the day. Then see where your marriage is numerically on a chart. Don't give 10 ever. 10 would be the day you were married or your kids were born. Not any normal day. If it feels the same, go with a 4-5. Like I said, you seem overly analytical so this might help you to see in numbers over a trend how you feel.
Just an idea because words seem to mean less than results with you and you seem to be grasping at to define how you feel all the time.

posts: 701   ·   registered: Aug. 7th, 2019   ·   location: Midwest
id 8734950
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Jameson1977 ( member #54177) posted at 1:56 AM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

I’ll reiterate my wise mothers advise to me about IC, if they aren’t giving you "homework" after each session to unpack at the next IC session, she has the wrong IC. I trust my mother more than anyone on this earth, I believe this is important. My WW also hesitated when I suggested a different IC. She "liked" her IC, but I felt she wasn’t really getting to the bottom of my WW’s issues. My WW finally got with a good IC that didn’t let her steer the discussion. The IC was tough, but kind and understanding.

It was great to read how you dealt with this latest discussion, firm and to the point. She will either take this as a wake up call or she will continue with the same tactics.

My worst times were the few weeks after dday for about 6 months after. Man, I had wild, wild swings in emotion. I took to booze for a while and it made things much worse.

posts: 760   ·   registered: Jul. 16th, 2016
id 8734955
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Mamabear312 ( member #59811) posted at 2:04 AM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

Doc, for the love of all that’s good, STOP with the talks. She’s been this messed up for her whole life, and you think these things should be obvious to her 8 weeks post d day?!

She cannot change her entire outlook on the world in 8 weeks. She can’t quickly change how she moves in the world or how she intakes what’s happening. It took her 37 years to become this person. Those habits and bad coping mechanisms are super deep. She’s just peeling off the top layer of a huge onion

This is a YEARS long process for someone as
emotionally immature as your wife. I suspect you’re right that she’s not a narcissist, per se, but that she simply stopped emotionally developing around the same time she became sexually promiscuous. She acts like a teenager who thinks only of herself, creates narratives to match her own needs/can’t see outside of herself, and views herself as a victim of the big mean world. So basically, like many teenagers. Teens outgrow this, their prefrontal cortex develops and they see the bigger picture, learn to appreciate the perspectives of others, and understand clearly actions/consequences in adult ways. They also view themselves as having agency over their own lives and paths. Seems like your wife never got there.

But back to my point… it’s like you think you can make her see the light. That if you say it enough times, it’ll click and she’ll get it.

That’s not how this works. She’s gotta get her ass into therapy more frequently and start digging in. It could take her a year before she can reflect and show the insight you’re looking for now. She has a lot of catching up to do. And NO, she cannot work on this stuff in couples therapy. That’s more unhealthy co-dependency.

You going round and round and round over her whys— she doesn’t even know why she constantly complains about her jobs, forget why she obliterated her marriage. There is no why 8 weeks out. There is no "now sex is healthy for me" 8 weeks out.

She does this, but I want more of it. I'm looking for her to be far more introspective about her actions throughout the affair--in doing so, she has the potential to unearth a tremendous amount about her behavior and psychology. I'm not seeing enough of this though.

If you want this—- you have to see if she’ll do the work. Not do it for her, but step BACK and see if she’ll do it.

Lastly, if you’re afraid that not having sex will be the final nail in the coffin of your marriage, then I think you need to find that out. The best advice I EVER got on these boards was "you have to be willing to lose your marriage in order to save it."

So your challenge now is to be willing to lose the marriage. Step back from the sex. Step back from the big talks where you give her the right answers/ your own narrative and try to make her see the light. Just— STEP BACK. Let the chips fall where they may and see if SHE steps up or not.

posts: 83   ·   registered: Jul. 24th, 2017
id 8734957
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Mene ( member #64377) posted at 4:39 AM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

My wife threatened to self harm and suicide. Many times. And it occurred when I pressed for more information. It was a tactic. Very manipulative to stop me talking about the affair because she felt ashamed. She’d rather we don’t talk about so she doesn’t have to confront her issues but left me suffering seeking answers. Selfish. Even her psychologist rang me many times and said she is suicidal. I told her she’s manipulating her too. I assured the psychologist she wasn’t going to do that as she loves our three children but she was using it as a tactic to shut me up. If she wanted to suicide she’d just do it. Without threatening. She said if my wife threatens suicide to call authorities. So, she did again when I raised the affair around the 6th month. I picked up the phone and called police. Guess what? She stopped doing that. Because when you ring authorities they must come and pick her up and assess her to see if she will go ahead and as experts they’ll realise she’s bluffing.
I’m not suggesting your wife will go down this path but keep mindful. If someone wants to do this, they will. If she threatens take this action seriously and report it to police or the authorities immediately in front of her. Notice how she will stop this manipulation should you call her out on it. Plus, BSs have a lot to deal with their own issues let alone a WS threatening suicide.
You sound like a good man but also one who wants to protect his family and is always the one trying to fix things for others. That’s a big burden to carry. You should step back and let your wife know you will not be doing the work for her. Set a time frame of 6 months for her to take responsibility to control the R period. If she refuses and or expects you to do that, you have your answer about your marriage.
And another thing, I know you’re hurting. I know what you’re going through. It will burn in your soul for years. But you will come out of this wiser and hopefully in a healthier relationships with your wife. There is no quick fix. And your pain will not disappear. It will lessen. Betrayal by those closest to us is like a death. It changes you.
I like many here have been a little direct with you because we want you to heal. I don’t want to add to your pain, I want to guide you to get to the point where life becomes easier whether you stay with her or not.
You are not responsible for her mistakes and not responsible for her to fix her problems. The only thing you’re responsible for is your healing.

Life wasn’t meant to be fair...

posts: 846   ·   registered: Jul. 7th, 2018   ·   location: Cyberland
id 8734969
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Mene ( member #64377) posted at 5:10 AM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

She put in plenty of time into the affair.

She should put in the same effort in to fixing the marriage.

Life wasn’t meant to be fair...

posts: 846   ·   registered: Jul. 7th, 2018   ·   location: Cyberland
id 8734973
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 12:07 PM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

Thank you all for the replies last night.

My wife and I talked more after she did some writing. She wrote about how she has been a selfish asshole her entire life and she dug in to how poorly she treated her mother, sister and me. She still didn’t grasp my suggestion of being more introspective about specific things throughout her life, so we walked through a couple of examples where I again did it for her.

She felt lost—I saw her wallowing in self-pity, but it was a bit different. She wasn’t doing it so I could save her this time—it felt like she was in actual fear. She told me she felt like a clock was running out on her, that one day soon I’m just going to tell her she failed and I’m out. It’s exactly how I feel.

We discussed her IC and how she hasn’t attempted any introspection with her (nor received any homework). She has no idea what she should be doing, but my concern made her concerned that she’s wasting a lot of time and money. She said her IC time has largely been dealing with two things: how to support my healing and how to work on her low self-esteem. Both of those seem important, so perhaps I’m wrong go criticize the path her IC is taking. Regardless, she began looking around to potentially swap IC’s—but I can tell it’s pure panic on her part. She just doesn’t want to mess up this moment in time.

It’s weird now looking back on the night. She has been trying to make me pity her pain and grief for weeks and I have responded harshly. Now I look at her and do feel sorry for her a bit. She got herself into this mess and objectively deserves everything she got, but it’s clear she doesn’t have the tools to get herself out of this. She doesn’t even know how to get herself off the starting line. And it’s horrible to see that I can’t help her.

Lastly, we discussed what separation would look like. Renting apts/selling the house and dating again. She’s terrified of all of it, as I already knew, but talking it through with her open and honestly was interesting. I asked her for her perspective on what it was like to be in a new relationship at this point in life; essentially she said it was a weird mix of exciting newness and a constant examination of all her weaknesses (what will he think of my body; what about my poor hearing/hearing aids, etc.). She loved the feeling of the new romantic spark but hated the constant doubt about what he thought of her—which was obviously offset by her feeling she had the safety of me and her home to fall back on.

As depressing as the topic was, it was good to talk freely with her about it—to speak it all into existence finally. As mamabear noted, if it will take her years to even begin introspection, I may bail before her trip is though, so it was good to start having this type of conversation on such good terms with each other.

Me: BH, 37
Her: WW, 37
DDay: March 15, 2022

posts: 304   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022
id 8735018
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Sharkman ( member #56818) posted at 12:33 PM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

I don’t think that your talks are unproductive. You’re a great writer and the feeling comes through. It seems like she isn’t actively trying to deceive you and what you’re seeing is just a person who has trained herself to be this way for years. If you’re intent on fixing this before the clock runs out then reading books or doing a once-a-week with an IC isn’t going to fix the problem before the time runs out.

Mind you, the talks could also make things worse, but at this point that may be a blessing as well. It’s worth the gamble IMHO. It’s not like you’re taking the shit she’s throwing at you. My thoughts wouldn’t be the same if you were.

posts: 1777   ·   registered: Jan. 11th, 2017
id 8735025
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Stevesn ( member #58312) posted at 12:38 PM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

One thing I suggest is that if you want to date other people, you dont do it while separated. I don’t believe that is what separation is for. To me it’s for learning to live each on their own and to give time apart to really work on yourselves without the stress of interacting with your partner about anything but kids and finances.

If you want to date, get divorced. When separated, you are still married.

[This message edited by Stevesn at 12:38 PM, Friday, May 13th]

fBBF. Just before proposing, broke it off after her 2nd confirmed PA in 2 yrs. 9 mo later I met the wonderful woman I have spent the next 30 years with.

posts: 3388   ·   registered: Apr. 17th, 2017
id 8735026
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Stevesn ( member #58312) posted at 12:50 PM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

Also, one thing you might want to discuss with her is that if her goal is to reconcile and build a new relationship with you, there has to be an order of precedence in the work she does on herself and with the IC.

Building self esteem is a good thing. It enables her to come to you with issues instead of burying them, suppressing and acting out by doing things like fucking other men in order to self sooth instead of confronting the issue with her partner.

But at this early moment after DDay, your healing has to take precedence over that. If she had actually shot you in the heart physically, instead of emotionally, she wouldn’t say, "I’ll tend to your wound in a little bit, I’m working on my self esteem, which will really help our marriage down the road".

I think that was what the whole "I want to talk about sex acts that I can do to show you that you mean more to me than the AP but I’m gonna reject each and every one of them" was all about. She was trying to show self esteem. But using that as one of the first places to apply what she and the IC we’re working on was misplaced.

Right now she should be working to give you everything, and I mean everything you need to heal. Sure when discussing the kids or family matters she should be able to find her voice and use it. But I would tell her when it comes to the still open wound that you are spiraling from, she needs to still defer to your needs over her own. She is still very much a cheater and taking stands like the one she tried with masturbation and other things like it is going to work against her goal of staying in a relationship with you and keeping her family together.

She has to hear that, absorb it and understand it.

You have been far more patient than I ever would. But you need to keep clearly state your boundaries and needs and then let her do the work to see them to fruition.

fBBF. Just before proposing, broke it off after her 2nd confirmed PA in 2 yrs. 9 mo later I met the wonderful woman I have spent the next 30 years with.

posts: 3388   ·   registered: Apr. 17th, 2017
id 8735027
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Trdd ( member #65989) posted at 2:22 PM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

It sounds like she is earnestly trying. You have that going for you to face off against the very difficult betrayal.

Here's a subtle trap you might want to think about: with the way you think and process things, I fear that she will never meet your standard for self reflection. So you will either hold her to that standard and D or alternatively, set a different standard for what you actually need from her in that area and maybe R could work.

To say it another way, if you want an incredibly introspective wife that matches your level it's probably time to look for a new wife. But if you want your wife to show remorse, become safe for the marriage and help you heal... you may not need her to be an A+ level ar introspection. A B- at introspection might be enough to get her to a place where her behavior actually gives her what you need for a new relationship you can build that works for both of you.

Goals need to be achievable. They also need to be focused on the right things, what is truly needful.

posts: 573   ·   registered: Aug. 27th, 2018   ·   location: US
id 8735039
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 2:30 PM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

I don’t think that your talks are unproductive. You’re a great writer and the feeling comes through. It seems like she isn’t actively trying to deceive you and what you’re seeing is just a person who has trained herself to be this way for years. If you’re intent on fixing this before the clock runs out then reading books or doing a once-a-week with an IC isn’t going to fix the problem before the time runs out.

Mind you, the talks could also make things worse, but at this point that may be a blessing as well. It’s worth the gamble IMHO. It’s not like you’re taking the shit she’s throwing at you. My thoughts wouldn’t be the same if you were.

That’s how I currently feel. Objectively, I understand I shouldn’t be the one to support her and help her work through this—and I am clear that it may be our downfall.

But the alternative is me backing off, watching her fail, and getting a divorce. That’s it—that’s what will happen.

So if I’m going to give anymore of my life to this relationship—and I’ve decided I have to give it at least six months—I’m going to be active; I’m going to seize my agency and fight. Her hour a week of IC is less than she needs on the timetable we have. So as long as she’s a willing participant and shows me she’s trying, I have to be there for her. I also will manage it better and stop spoon feeding her every answer. It’s a balance and I can be better.

[This message edited by Drstrangelove at 2:37 PM, Friday, May 13th]

Me: BH, 37
Her: WW, 37
DDay: March 15, 2022

posts: 304   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022
id 8735047
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 2:33 PM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

It sounds like she is earnestly trying. You have that going for you to face off against the very difficult betrayal.

Here's a subtle trap you might want to think about: with the way you think and process things, I fear that she will never meet your standard for self reflection. So you will either hold her to that standard and D or alternatively, set a different standard for what you actually need from her in that area and maybe R could work.

To say it another way, if you want an incredibly introspective wife that matches your level it's probably time to look for a new wife. But if you want your wife to show remorse, become safe for the marriage and help you heal... you may not need her to be an A+ level ar introspection. A B- at introspection might be enough to get her to a place where her behavior actually gives her what you need for a new relationship you can build that works for both of you.

Goals need to be achievable. They also need to be focused on the right things, what is truly needful.

Wise and fair. Thank you.

Me: BH, 37
Her: WW, 37
DDay: March 15, 2022

posts: 304   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022
id 8735049
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grubs ( member #77165) posted at 2:52 PM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

Regardless, she began looking around to potentially swap IC’s—but I can tell it’s pure panic on her part. She just doesn’t want to mess up this moment in time.

I wouldn't suggest she swap just yet. Her IC only sees the situation through her words. Up till now those words were likely painting a picture of how her low self esteem led to her hurting you as that was where your discussions have been focused until recently. She should be open and honest with her IC about you latest discusions and see how the IC handles it.

posts: 1104   ·   registered: Jan. 21st, 2021
id 8735061
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 3:32 PM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

Stop. Look at yourself. Look at your wants and needs for healing. You write about your W's introspection. What about yours?

What, exactly, do you want from your W? How will you know if she gives it to you? How will you know if she isn't? If she delivers, how will you use what she delivers?

You say you want to understand her whys. What will that do for you? In fact, you'll never achieve a gut level understanding, but it's common to seek it. How will seeking this info help you? What is the effort doing for you now?

I keep reading that the WS should heal the BS. Exactly how is that going to work for you?

The fact is: if you look to someone else to heal you, you're looking for external validation to fulfill your need - and that never works. Never. External validation is nice to have, but if you can't get to where you want to be without it, you are selling yourself out.

You heal you. To R, your W needs to heal herself, and together you need to heal your M - but you heal you.

*****

Homework in IC? Bah! That doesn't work for many of us. Some therapists think it may work universally - because they drive away the people who won't/can't do the homework. For example, I'm ADD, and I was untreated until I turned 59. Distractions always turned me away from homework ... but my mind did keep feeding me messages from therapy, and that helped me make the changes I want to make.

*****

Always feel 'betrayed'? What is that feeling? Angry? Sad? Scared? Ashamed? Head ache? Sore shoulders? (I'll assume it doesn't feel good.)

The fact is that you've been betrayed. I think you've also related ways in which you've betrayed yourself.

These acts of betrayal are part of your history. How can you deny them? How can you expect to forget them?

I remember a lot of my W's A. I remember a lot of d-day. I remember a lot of healing. Those times were awful, and I have memories of being in pain. I can't help but feel some of the emotions that I felt then - but after 11+ years, the feelings just aren't close to the level that you're probably feeling now; they're several orders of magnitude less.

*****

My point is this:

Stop trying to control your W. It' guaranteed to be watsed effort.

Think about your self, what hurts, what you want, how to heal yourself.

What your W is doing in her therapy isn't anywhere near as important as what you are doing in yours.

Healing from being betrayed occurs on 3 levels, IMO: head, heart, and gut - thoughts, wants, feelings. Put your focus there.

You may feel like you're between Scylla and Charybdis right now. One way to calm the waters is to change your focus to yourself. The sooner you do that, the better for you.

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: 27082   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8735104
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Dude67 ( member #75700) posted at 3:39 PM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

What Trdd said!!!

posts: 401   ·   registered: Oct. 21st, 2020
id 8735109
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HellFire ( member #59305) posted at 3:55 PM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

It's odd to me,that she keeps wanting to have certain conversations in MC.

Somewhere in this thread,you said you will tell her over, and over what you need, and nothing clicks. It only clicks when the mc tells her.

I think that's very interesting.

Again, I will suggest you bring her here. We have a few great waywards who can explain it to her,in great detail,what she needs to be doing. And what work she needs to do on herself.
On one hand,it does seem she truly doesn't know what's necessary. OTOH, she managed to carry out an affair all by herself, so one would think she could figure this out. I mean,she has use of the internet. She could find help here if she tried. If she is full of shit,the waywards here will call her out on it. And it might help you to see how she responds to them.

posts: 4332   ·   registered: Jun. 20th, 2017   ·   location: The Midwest
id 8735120
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Dude67 ( member #75700) posted at 4:03 PM on Friday, May 13th, 2022

Doc. What you also might want to explore, definitely in IC, is how your WWs affair may have changed you as a person at your core, and what you expect from your current wife, or perhaps even a different future partner.

Your standards, which were already high, may have gotten even loftier. And, your requirements for a life partner, may have gotten loftier.

I’m not saying this as a positive or negative thing, just perhaps a new possibility that you might want to explore.

This dovetails into what Trdd said I believe.

posts: 401   ·   registered: Oct. 21st, 2020
id 8735129
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