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Wayward Side :
Shame and empathy

stop

 Bulcy (original poster member #74034) posted at 2:45 PM on Friday, April 8th, 2022

I was talking recently with a friend who is a fWH. He mentioned empathy for his wife and that in the early days he had empathy as long as the subject was not infidelity. In that if she were sick, he would go and get medication at 4am or would help her with sick relatives. This I see in my behaviour. He told me that he was capable of empathy for her, just not when buried in shame. This is an ongoing discussion.

Have any of you noticed this and if so how did you manage to get past it (open to BSs too, did you notice this behaviour in you WS?)

WH (40's) Me. Emotional affair (2017), Physical affair (2003) and online affairs, Two physical affairs (2000). D-Day's 2003, August '17, multiple discoveries through 2018,19 and 20, and Jan 21

posts: 175   ·   registered: Mar. 12th, 2020   ·   location: UK
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 Bulcy (original poster member #74034) posted at 4:15 PM on Friday, April 8th, 2022

Yeah, just asked. Thanks

WH (40's) Me. Emotional affair (2017), Physical affair (2003) and online affairs, Two physical affairs (2000). D-Day's 2003, August '17, multiple discoveries through 2018,19 and 20, and Jan 21

posts: 175   ·   registered: Mar. 12th, 2020   ·   location: UK
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DaddyDom ( member #56960) posted at 5:13 PM on Friday, April 8th, 2022

Just a quick note, in your post you asked for BS responses, but the stop sign is up, so remove the stop sign if you want BS responses :)

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

posts: 1269   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017
id 8728773
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wifehad5 ( Administrator #15162) posted at 6:26 PM on Friday, April 8th, 2022

Stop sign removed at your request.

FBH - 50 FWW - 51 (BrokenRoad)2 kids 15 & 20
The people you do your life with shape the life you live

posts: 55314   ·   registered: Jun. 28th, 2007   ·   location: Michigan
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TheWorldYouWant ( member #78447) posted at 7:09 PM on Friday, April 8th, 2022

My STBXWH has recently, again, seemed to lose all of his ability to have empathy for me. Earlier in our recovery attempt (the first 18 months, maybe?) he was better at expressing support and empathy when I had a trigger, when I needed to talk about something, when I was broken down with grief.

But I think he's been acting out again (not the first time during "reconciliation"), and his shame over that plus his past misdeeds plus his immense fear of abandonment have transformed him into an unempathetic robot again. We were away together over the weekend--I had told him we were gonna get divorced but hadn't filed yet. On Saturday morning I had a realization about something he would have needed to do in order to have sex with prostitutes (remove his shoes and then put them back on again, an act that he finds so disgusting and distasteful that he uses it as an excuse to get out of household tasks), and I just felt devastated. For context, he has told me ZERO about what he actually did, how many times, etc. even though he knows full disclosure is a requirement for R. I told him what was bothering me and he made absolutely no comment, and never checked in with me the rest of the day or the next about how I was feeling, although I know he felt that I was distant and upset. NEVER ONCE CHECKED IN.

Then on Sunday he tried to tell me how he was feeling about my distance ("my stomach hurts because you are being distant from me") and I exploded, I just couldn't take it anymore. How dare he try to use me as his therapist and get reassurance from me when he didn't even have the decency to find out how I was doing after being triggered???

No empathy at all from him. According to him, this fight was my fault. And he just kept doubling and tripling down on that. (He says I am "not correct" about his interactions with prostitutes...which he could remedy by being willing to become 100% transparent and open and honest. But he will not do that and just wants to control the information flow so that I remain "not correct." Being right is more important to him than being happy.)

Anyway, shame and fear, shame and fear, shame and fear. Well, shame and fear and CONTROL. He can't control me if he's feeling empathy.

I came home and filed two days later.

And thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat's exactly why we're gonna get divorced--because the way he feels is "the truth" and he will not budge from that to fix himself. Only his feelings matter and I am completely fucking done.

Me, BW: 50s. WH: 50s. Kids: 3 great young adults.

1998-2021: DDays without end. Porn, cam girls, online EA, dating and cheating websites, actual dating, online sex games, prostitutes, more cam girls. And that's only the stuff I know.

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Breachoftrust ( member #66252) posted at 8:42 PM on Friday, April 8th, 2022

My WH has said I knew tonight was going to be a talk night. He also said that his affair has devastated him as well. He said I was making jabs at him when explaining how I feel. All this tells me that it is still all about him. Can't I see just how badly he feels about it and just get over it. Soooooo not helping.

[This message edited by Breachoftrust at 8:43 PM, Friday, April 8th]

Married 19 years, together 24. 3 children. DD1 2/21/18. DD2 6/7/18 EA. BS 49, WH 50.
DD3 3/30/22 PA

Actions prove who someone is; words prove who someone wants to be.

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gmc94 ( Guide #62810) posted at 9:29 AM on Saturday, April 9th, 2022

A year or two I’d have agreed- that my WH has same problem of empathy for non-infidelity things, but not for things he’s ashamed about. However, I dunno it it’s that simple.

For instance, I wonder if I confuse/mistake (or mistook) empathy for ‘acts of service’ or run of the mill external validation. I before dday I’d think something like a 4am trip trip to the pharmacy was empathy.
But today? I have a different view and suspect a chunk (& sometimes maybe the whole enchilada) came from needing to make HIMSELF feel better, rather than coming from a place of empathy FOR me.

Going to the store at 4am IS a pain. I think it does say to someone "you matter" (and Lord knows most/all BS need that after infidelity). But it can also be a way for someone to "fix" things FOR the person in need, rather than empathize WITH them.

If I consider that many WS have worked pretty effing hard (sometimes - as in my WH’s case- their entire lives) trying to avoid most feelings generally, and for sure ALL negative feelings, it kind of makes sense that empathy would be a really hard thing to learn/relearn. And exponentially more so WRT consequences of their own choices, as I’d guess those acts of service do not give the same "I’m worthy" or "I can fix it" kind of brain messages if felt/perceived as acts of atonement.

M >25yrs/grown kids
DD1 1994 ONS prostitute
DD2 2018 exGF1 10+yrEA & 10yrPA... + exGF2 EA forever & "made out" 2017
9/18 WH hung himself- died but revived

It's rude to say "I love you" with a mouthful of lies

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MIgander ( member #71285) posted at 2:21 PM on Saturday, April 9th, 2022

I am in a strange position where my BH wouldnt accept empathy or things like listening, holding hands or affirmation from me since the only thing that really mattered for him was a large demostrative act of sacrifice to prove I was sorry. Since I was the one doing repetitive hurting and disappointing and not changing enough in the ways he wanted me to change and be a worthy wife to him, these were required to prove I loved him and he mattered.

Since yes, I wasnt changing or improving and felt much of where he wanted me to change was impossible to change, I would do painful, sometimes dangerous (financially and emotionally and at one time sexually) sacrificial things for him. I would do them in the hope that he could understand my love for him amd be satisfied. Until I screwed up again, and suddenly whatever it was wasnt enough for him to remain happy with me.

So I would do these things not just to hopefully see some sort of appreciation, approval, warmth, intimacy and positivity from him, but to prove to him that I was good enough to be his wife.

Never was enough. Always right back to being critical amd cold.

Sorry, at a certain point I call bullshit on actions being enough to demonstrate and or being self centered ego kibble ploys. I was starving for the basics a wife should enjoy from her husband. I am at the point of saying enough and fuckit if he needs any more grand demosntrations. I have done enough. I am enough and I deserve someone who can agree with that statement.

WW Dday July 2019

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 Bulcy (original poster member #74034) posted at 8:56 PM on Saturday, April 9th, 2022

Thanks for the replies. Hope this can become an interesting discussion.

TheWorldYouWant

My STBXWH has recently, again, seemed to lose all of his ability to have empathy for me. Earlier in our recovery attempt (the first 18 months, maybe?) he was better at expressing support and empathy when I had a trigger, when I needed to talk about something, when I was broken down with grief.

It seems you have done everything in your power to let WS know what you needed. I have been there too, my BS has told me countless time what she needs and when she needs it. I have either done a half arsed job or focussed my attention on something else as a distraction. There have been times when BS is upstairs crying and I am downstairs feeling sorry for myself. I have been and often still am a self centred, cold ass, piece of shit. Knowing that BS is hugely upset by my action/inaction. I have shame spiralled in a big way. I've done this and I hear BS run to the toilet and be physically sick...Then and only then did I pull my head out of my ass and show some form of empathy. I would make sure she was OK, get her a drink of water, put her to bed and sit with her holding her hand until she fell asleep... You know, normal human behaviour. Then I slip silently into shame spiral again.

I've wanted sympathy from BS when I'm in these shame spirals and have been vocal when I was accused of withdrawing to avoid. All of this true. We are at a point where BS can tell me I'm acting like a tw@t or have my head up my ass and then she will stop interacting with me. It is up to me to either withdraw the head or sulk. I would love to say I always do get back in the zone, but that would be untrue.

No empathy at all from him. According to him, this fight was my fault.

Crikey, I have no idea how long it took me to even consider that any argument was not triggered by BS being unreasonable. Honestly, I would mutter away to myself, shake my head and pay no attention to her "crazy talk". Even with counselling and reading SI I struggled with the concept that dealing with the trauma of infidelity, lies, TT etc would hit her as hard as it did AND this was normal.

Only his feelings matter

Again, I've been there and struggle with this one a lot. Sulking and shame spirals happen almost daily. Importantly I keep missing the "easy wins" as well. Opportunities to show I'm thinking of BS when making the smallest decision. It could be accepting a dinner invitation from her parents on a day when we were supposed to be talking. In my wayward head, I had done a good thing by going to see the in laws. In reality, this is avoidance.

Anyway, shame and fear, shame and fear, shame and fear. Well, shame and fear and CONTROL. He can't control me if he's feeling empathy.

That's an interesting point. I agree that any wayward behaviour after d-day is likely to be control, manipulation or avoidance. Yes of course, if there were true empathy then a wayward would not act in a controlling way. I do this also. fWS I have spoken to have told me that empathy comes when you let go of the outcome and accept what you've done. This way, the need to control goes too.

WH (40's) Me. Emotional affair (2017), Physical affair (2003) and online affairs, Two physical affairs (2000). D-Day's 2003, August '17, multiple discoveries through 2018,19 and 20, and Jan 21

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TheWorldYouWant ( member #78447) posted at 9:03 PM on Saturday, April 9th, 2022

I've had another thought, because I am re-reading "Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men." And my thought, basically, is that not having empathy for what one has done to one's spouse (cheating) is part of the abuse. Having empathy would require that the abuser admit the wrong and work to make amends. But the abuser can't do that.

It's possible that not all infidelity is abuse, but serial cheating is absolutely abusive. But abusers are not empathetic toward their victims about the abuse they do. They can't be.

So yeah I'm gonna go with the conclusion that it's not about shame, it's about abuse. I know for me personally when I have felt shame over something I've done wrong, I haven't lacked empathy for the person I've wronged or the pain they have over what I've done. Hell I've had shame for things my abuser has decided I've done wrong, and then felt empathy for HIM over it.

Me, BW: 50s. WH: 50s. Kids: 3 great young adults.

1998-2021: DDays without end. Porn, cam girls, online EA, dating and cheating websites, actual dating, online sex games, prostitutes, more cam girls. And that's only the stuff I know.

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 Bulcy (original poster member #74034) posted at 9:09 PM on Saturday, April 9th, 2022

Breachoftrust

My WH has said I knew tonight was going to be a talk night. He also said that his affair has devastated him as well. He said I was making jabs at him when explaining how I feel. All this tells me that it is still all about him. Can't I see just how badly he feels about it and just get over it. Soooooo not helping.

Everything you say suggests you WS is still very much in the "me, me, me" mentality. "The affair devastated him as well" - Really? No, getting caught and ending the affair maybe, but the actual affair? I find that hard to believe. Dealing with the fallout of my wayward actions and accepting everything I have done and the damage to my BS (the innocent party) has been hard and this is still work in progress.

Does he express how badly he feels about the affair? I have been VERY reluctant to discuss feelings, both pre and post affairs. Does his guilt/shame come from a selfish "I'm hurt" or from a slightly more empathetic "It hurts me to have hurt you"? Still all about his feelings, but getting there.

"Just get over it" - Maybe a wild assumption, but saying this suggests he still has a long way to go. Four years out from my last affair and supposedly four years into R, it took me three of those years to not suggest BS "gets over it".

WH (40's) Me. Emotional affair (2017), Physical affair (2003) and online affairs, Two physical affairs (2000). D-Day's 2003, August '17, multiple discoveries through 2018,19 and 20, and Jan 21

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 Bulcy (original poster member #74034) posted at 9:20 PM on Saturday, April 9th, 2022

gmc94

I completely understand using acts of service as a replacement to doing "the work". It is a difficult subject, I would do acts of service and feel good about doing them. BS, correctly, thought otherwise and saw this as avoidance of the important work. Also, doing the dishes, driving to the shop, or looking after the children are things that should be happening in a marriage/relationship anyway and are NOT in any way an act of gracious kindness. They may be out of the ordinary, but that's another issue.

Going to the store at 4am IS a pain. I think it does say to someone "you matter" (and Lord knows most/all BS need that after infidelity). But it can also be a way for someone to "fix" things FOR the person in need, rather than empathize WITH them.

I agree. For me it depends on how the 4am trip to the store is treated. IS it done as "I'm so sorry you're not feeling well, let me pop to the store and get some X and hopefully you'll feel better" or "I went to the fucking store for you, what more do you want?" The former being preferable smile

If I consider that many WS have worked pretty effing hard (sometimes - as in my WH’s case- their entire lives) trying to avoid most feelings generally, and for sure ALL negative feelings, it kind of makes sense that empathy would be a really hard thing to learn/relearn. And exponentially more so WRT consequences of their own choices, as I’d guess those acts of service do not give the same "I’m worthy" or "I can fix it" kind of brain messages if felt/perceived as acts of atonement.

^^^^^^ THIS ^^^^^^^ nail on the proverbial head.

WH (40's) Me. Emotional affair (2017), Physical affair (2003) and online affairs, Two physical affairs (2000). D-Day's 2003, August '17, multiple discoveries through 2018,19 and 20, and Jan 21

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 Bulcy (original poster member #74034) posted at 9:39 PM on Saturday, April 9th, 2022

MIgander

This is interesting for me and rings true for my behaviour. I have done what I considered to be grand gestures in the past and these have been utterly the wrong thing to do or the wrong time to do it. I did not do these in good faith. I was still telling lies and doing these things to placate my BS rather than prove to her how much I loved her. I thought I was, but given I was still hiding affairs, telling lies, TTing are still very much being in a wayward mentality, these grand gestures now have no meaning.

I would ask, not for details, but more from a context point of view. Your grand gestures, were they what BW wanted or were they what you perceived your BS wanted? I ask because I have done things in the past (usually gifts or weekends away) that have been so far from my BS actual needs, they have actually caused an argument rather than bring us closer together.

Making changes is hard, especially considering I'm pushing 50 and some of my behaviours have been with me since childhood. I resisted change and resisted acceptance of my abusive wayward was for decades. I like to think I am making these changes, it is a slow process. Agonisingly slow for BS. I have latched onto some of the changes and used these to throw in BSs face when she says I'm not doing anything. Utterly unproductive and often I'm completely wrong in my assumption of "change" anyway.

Actions are so difficult. As I've mentioned above they can be considered as only doing what I should have been doing in the first place. Also some of them are triggering to BS. Knowing these and dealing with the trigger is hard. Then there is the problem of doing the simple things...Lets say... At the end of every e-mail I say "I love you" and add a heart emoji. When this becomes the norm and for whatever reason this is missed from a mail then this too is a trigger. My BS does appreciate the "normal" I do around the house and does see it as showing she is important to me. However when this is done at the expense of the "work" or it is perceived as me scoring bonus points then the benefit of doing the action is negated. I have to remember that for years I did not do these things or did the under duress, then it is going to be extremely difficult for BS to believe my efforts are genuine. Especially when I get/got angry if these acts were not acknowledged.

All of this is still work in progress for me.

WH (40's) Me. Emotional affair (2017), Physical affair (2003) and online affairs, Two physical affairs (2000). D-Day's 2003, August '17, multiple discoveries through 2018,19 and 20, and Jan 21

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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 10:06 PM on Saturday, April 9th, 2022

I think you're on the right track in your realization that you can't engage your own shame -and- be truly empathetic with your BW at the same time. Shame is a double-edged sword. It can move you to make real changes in your life. But it can also leave you wallowing. I think the key to making the most of shame is to learn the difference between self-compassion and self-pity. This is something which helped me as a BS too. It's very easy when we feel like life has treated us unfairly to just give in to negative self-talk, our inner critic. Why did this have to happen? Why did God make us this way? Why aren't we enough? Why can't we be good?...etc. etc.
This is self-pity. We're engaged in a negative, whiny monologue and feeling sorry for ourselves. Self-compassion is just the opposite. The voice is positive and optimistic regarding our prospects. Instead of the inner critic, we're hearing the inner cheerleader. Self-compassion acknowledges our transgressions, but then moves on to encourage us to do better.. and BELIEVE we can.

I know it seems counter-intuitive, but try to have some compassion for yourself. You're getting in there and fighting for real change, and you've got a good shot at making it if you don't give into self-pity and give up.

In terms of empathy... Empathy is easy. It's just walking a mile in the other guy's shoes. But you have to walk that WHOLE mile. You can't just give it a cursory glance, or be taken up by other things (like your shame spiral), and then expect to really be able to identify with that other person. You have to STOP and imagine what it is to BE them, what they might be feeling, how your words sounded to their ear in that moment. It's not a hard thing to do, but you do have to give yourself over to it and use ALL your imagination in order to get it done.

You're gonna mess up. When you do, find your error, correct it, and then move on. Self-compassion means you treat yourself with the same courtesy as you would a dear friend. It does NOT mean you gloss over wrong-doings, only that you tackle them head-on with civility toward yourself.

BW: 2004(online EAs),
2014 (multiple PAs)
Married 38 years;
in R with fWH for 7

No one can make you into a liar but you.

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MIgander ( member #71285) posted at 11:56 PM on Saturday, April 9th, 2022

Thanks CT for the reminder about self compassion. That is so important to have. It is one of the biggest things I am having to learn. It does keep me from falling into the hole when consequences of my actions come around again. Or pull me out is the more honest thing. I fall into the hole a lot still. I am getting better at climbing back out by myself though.

Bulcy, the large demonstrations were things directly asked for. I would resist because the ask was either not realistic w our financial situation, against what I thought to be right, and in the case of the one sexual thing, something that I directly said I was not comfortable with.

BH in these cases would wear me down with continued requests, justifications for what he wanted and continued criticisms of me for how miserable he was in having to put up with me being his wife.

Direct quote: "I figured if I had to be married to a bitch too that at least she could look hot." In response to me refusing breast augmentation.

So yeah, I have lived with a lot of abuse over the years. So, when BH is asking me to quit my job, I have empathy for his anxiety. However, my bucket of "give a shit enough to do much about it" is empty.

Yeah, R is on hold until I can find a way to have a job without being in contact with AP who now is on my campus barf

Maybe I am one of the few WSs who has empathy for their BS, but enough empathy for themselves to know theyve given enough. Sometimes too much.

Sorry Bulcy, I am derailing your thread.

In the end, compassion amd empathy is a 2 way street. Give a shit for me right now looks like not throwing in the towel on the whole thing because of another demand for a huge demonstration from BH. Which, once given, wont be enough. Never is.

At the end of the day, I am asking him to trust me and the changes I have made. THAT is me asking a huge demonstration of his love from him, and since he has stayed this long after my A, perhaps it is a bridge too far for him. So, I have compassion and empathy for him as I ha e been on the other end of that situation many times. And I now have compassion for him aa I know what it is like to be pushed so far to your limit as to have to throw up a boundary to save your sense of self.

Difference here is I refuse to perpetually criticise or wear him down with repeated requests.

Problem with our situation, we both have empathy for the other, but we are at a boundary and an impasse for the time being. I can sit it out, but if he cant, I understand. D isnt what I want, but I al wondering if ultimately that is where we are headed.

WW Dday July 2019

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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 4:34 PM on Sunday, April 10th, 2022

"The affair devastated him as well" - Really? No, getting caught and ending the affair maybe, but the actual affair? I find that hard to believe. Dealing with the fallout of my wayward actions and accepting everything I have done and the damage to my BS (the innocent party) has been hard and this is still work in progress.

Bulcy, Are you saying you think of your A with pleasure? Do you think of your A as a Good Thing for you?

If so, that might be part of your difficulty healing. After all, if it was a Good Thing, there's no reason to heal. If your pain comes from being caught, why R? Why not D? Why not D before cheating?

To heal, IMO, you need to comprehend that the thoughts and feelings that enabled your A also enabled you to betray yourself, and you need to see self-betrayal as a crime against yourself. To heal, you need to deal with that. To R, you need to heal and rebuild your M simultaneously.

It's not just a matter of empathy, and it's definitely not a matter of grand gestures. The primary method of rebuilding connection and trust, the primary method for earning forgiveness (if it ever comes), is to do thousands of trust-building actions consecutively over time.

Some people do like to be on the receiving end of grand gestures - but it's the 1000s of small actions that make R possible, and it's wanting to do and actually doing the 1000s of small gestures that will help you heal.

If getting caught is the real problem for you, I don't understand why you haven't D'ed. (Of course, you don't owe me an explanation - but you do owe it to yourself.)

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.

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 Bulcy (original poster member #74034) posted at 5:19 PM on Sunday, April 10th, 2022

Bulcy, Are you saying you think of your A with pleasure? Do you think of your A as a Good Thing for you?

No, not at all. My point is that my affair devastated my wife, my marriage and the fallout from the affair devastated me. I look back on the affair with no fondness. Only on getting caught and seeing the damage I've caused did I retrieve my head out of my ass enough for the devastation to fully kick in. I read Breach's point that her husband was claiming the affair itself was the cause of his devastation. Not the fallout from either being caught or having a rare thing in the wayward world, an epiphany! Yes, there are some out there who felt so awful they confessed all. If that is the case then I will withdraw my comment. However most, from what I read, are caught. In which case the denials and TT, the lies and omissions make me think the devastation to the WS only happens once they have full realisation of their actions.

If getting caught is the real problem for you, I don't understand why you haven't D'ed. (Of course, you don't owe me an explanation - but you do owe it to yourself.)

Getting caught is not the real problem. Hey, it was in the early days. In those early days, after being caught in my emotional affair, I was so far in denial that I refused to believe there was an affair. As I slowly comprehended my actions and the damage caused, then and only then did this cause me to feel anything towards BS other than feeling a little empathy because she was upset and angry. I did not want to believe the level of this pain and especially my part in causing all of this pain. After being caught in my physical affair in 2003, I saw the devastation I caused, but I did not own it. Brushing this aside when I thought BS had "got over it" I did not change my wayward mentality.

Does that make sense? I'm not saying affairs are not devastation to the WS, they are, But in my opinion the devastation only REALLY hits home once you've accepted what you did and how EVERYTHNG was a choice you made. Until that time then the feelings are more selfish... I've been caught, I'm in trouble, I've got to end the affair, I've got to try and make things right with my wife. All me, me, me statements. For me this is the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is feeling for the person you have hurt shame is feeling that you are a bad person and you are a failure.

[This message edited by Bulcy at 6:01 PM, Sunday, April 10th]

WH (40's) Me. Emotional affair (2017), Physical affair (2003) and online affairs, Two physical affairs (2000). D-Day's 2003, August '17, multiple discoveries through 2018,19 and 20, and Jan 21

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MIgander ( member #71285) posted at 2:05 PM on Monday, April 11th, 2022

It's possible that not all infidelity is abuse

TWYW, All infidelity is abuse. It is stealing energy (emotional, physical, financial) that should rightfully belong to the spouse. Financial and emotional infidelity often get swept under the rug- even when it's small things like buying an expensive object without consulting your spouse or gaslighting them about the extent of their pining for another woman.

Maybe not all infidelity is intended as abuse. My was a survival mechanism (a shitty one FOR SURE). BH and I talked last night about the A a bit and I think he was able to hear for the first time that my A wasn't about hurting him- I legitimately thought he was completely indifferent to me and didn't care anymore. I think he's getting to the point in his healing where he can hear that and accept it.

Another thought on empathy, BH would try to tell me that I shouldn't feel upset about him asking for something (me to quit) because it's a natural thing to want. That common knowledge around here is NC means NC and working together means we're carrying on an affair. Thing is, I despise AP and despise what I did with him. I can find ways to never step in his area of the building and get my job done. I do have to be on campus occasionally to perform lab responsibilities, and group meetings are becoming required every other Monday now. BH also expressed upset that I was feeling all the PTSD from the unreasonable requests, the conditioning from his constant criticisms over our marriage and the pressure (learned from FOO and from our M) to perform and justify my existence in the M. He said I need to stop seeing him as abusive in his requests. I told him, it's something I'm struggling with and it is a legitimate feeling as it has been triggered from all our past together. He said he can understand I'm struggling. And respect the why behind it- both from FOO and from our M.

And suddenly, after that bit of empathy from him, I was able to stop fighting him and work with him as a team on the problem. He didn't understand the sudden change in attitude- felt it was manipulative. NO. It was a dam breaking in my heart as I heard him giving unasked for empathy for the pain his request was causing. He respected my feelings, understood and empathized with them. Suddenly, I felt seen, respected and like I mattered to him beyond what I could do for him or give for him or perform for him.

It's amazing what a little empathy for each other can do. It goes both ways. Maybe my case was different than others, in that my BH was incapable of showing empathy and respect for the struggles I had. Really, until this whole thing blew up, he couldn't. He was raised to see himself as the beloved wonderful son by his mom and the child his distant dad rewarded for good performance with luxury indulgences. He grew up entitled and with no need to internally reflect. I really believe that unless I drew a boundary with, "Get in IC or I will file the D papers I have written," he would not have done the work he has to learn empathy and start his journey of self reflection.

And I have empathy for that- being faced for the first time in your life with a person who is drawing a hard boundary is bewildering. He is just beginning to see that my boundary wasn't me being manipulative or cruel. It was self defense.

WW Dday July 2019

posts: 656   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2019   ·   location: Michigan
id 8729145
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 8:03 PM on Monday, April 11th, 2022

Thanks for the clarification.

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: 27110   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8729214
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Buck ( member #72012) posted at 10:22 PM on Monday, April 11th, 2022

Bulcy, what is it that you really want out of life? From your signature, it appears you cheated off and on for 17 years or so. From 2000 to 2017. Then you've trickle truthed, minimized and lied for at least 3 more years giving your wife multiple d days and disregarding just how difficult those actions will make R. How can your wife believe anything you say? You seem to want to stay in a marriage that you seem to have little or no regard for.

It seems like you're putting yourself and your BW through perpetual hell. I can't imagine what she's thinking either.

What are you hoping to achieve with your actions?

posts: 362   ·   registered: Nov. 4th, 2019   ·   location: Texas
id 8729252
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