So I'll respond to some posts below, but I thought I'd start with an update from the MC session. I got everything out that I needed to get out, including going far more in-depth on the conversation with my MIL in front of my wife--it was hurtful for her to hear obviously.
Her first reaction was shame and anger (toward her mom), but I explained why I felt her mom was so hurt: my wife apologized to her mom, but she never really explained what she was apologizing for because she never dug into the details of what she actually did. I suggested she should apologize again, but this time, with everything on the table, it will be contrite.
The MC said we need to make one major change, which echoes what she has been saying--and all of you have been saying: I need to *stop*.
I'm doing too much at the expense of healing my own trauma and it's ruining my chance at R (I think one of you may have said that verbatim on the last page...). She said my wife needs to sink or swim on her own right now--if she sinks, the marriage is over, but it has to be on her, not me. My wife needs to bear the full weight of the marriage and show me that she's all in and I need to back off so she can do that.
My concern, all along, is that my wife is not capable of doing that right now--maybe she'll surprise me though. But I recognize that me sprinting full speed into a brick wall every day isn't doing much good either. The MC said all I should do is be honest with me wife, nothing else. I should tell her how I feel all the time and never try to mask it to make her feel better, etc. And she said me doing nothing will be incredibly hard for me and my wife needs to recognize that.
My wife echoed all the points PowerWithin has made--she feels attacked from every direction and has a desire to be able to "win" at something. The MC pressed her as to why she needs to win and my wife immediately realized how stupid it sounded but she didn't know how to stop the cycle. She said she is going to put the marriage before herself moving forward and she recognizes that failure to do so will end the marriage--something she desperately doesn't want to happen.
Again, my wife's words are great and I have no doubt she meant them in the moment, but we'll see how far it gets us.
The MC also echoed what many of you are saying is that we're having too much sex. I suggested to the MC that we stop all together for now, but the MC didn't agree. She thought that sex could be beneficial to us forming the new relationship, but it needs to be under the right situation with both of us feeling positive about doing it. I need to let that marinate a bit I think, but ultimately I relate to her point: when we're both in good mindsets, the sex is helpful--when my wife is offering sex to make me feel better, it can *feel* manipulative and destructive to our relationship.
As for the vacation, we're going to do it. I can put on a brave face for my kids--who are young and needy, so I'll rarely have time for a wandering mind. Nights may be tough, but that's ok--they're tough at home too. I *think* I can do this, but I do appreciate all the support from those of you concerned for me.
Lastly, my wife was finally registered to post on the site today, so she'll likely be creating her own thread in the wayward forum with a stop sign. As I've mentioned, I think negativity will shut her down quickly, so I suggested a stop sign initially for her. We haven't figured out if we'll read each other's threads, but I imagine as long as some of you are reading both, things will get cross-contaminated anyway. My plan is still to post here honestly and transparently regardless.
what we eventually learned is that he was so hardwired to think like a victim
That's a quality in my wife I've been well aware of our entire marriage. She always feels like a victim and she has been constantly painting herself as a victim post-DDay. Dealing with it now is absolutely brutal.
Right now, it sounds like your wife is feeling utterly rejected by the people she is most connected to. Some may think, It is understandable to reject her - look at what she has done! And I agree - what she did is absolute treason, and she must right her wrongs in order to ever be considered a safe partner. At the same time, if she is like my husband, desertion and rejection caused him to be completely and utterly disintegrated, and truly have no idea how to change or what to do. He was in survival mode, either in total freeze - defeated, overwhelmed, stuck, optionless, shut down, or total fight - defensive, complaining, vengeful, cruel, inconceivably immature, attacking. Thinking like a victim means lots of things, but primary is having an external locus of control. If this applies to her, she might rely exclusively on others to meet her emotional needs and to boost her self-worth. When others don’t do that, she self-protects to the nth…. scorched earth, like you said. She is protecting herself because that is what she knows - it was what she was raised to do, and how she survives. This is unconscious - it became part of her attachment system in childhood.
That's all spot on. It's exactly what is happening.
I understand why OBS would like to retaliate against your WW, especially since WW doubly betrayed her by pretending to be her friend. I also understand that you turned the OBS down. Nevertheless, I can see how a marriage counselor would agree with your WW that if you want to stay married, you shouldn't maintain a friendship with a woman who suggested you cheat together.
That was the advice of the MC--if the priority is our marriage, I can't be "intimate" with a third party in talking about the affair or my current feelings. I think that's fair. I challenged myself to ask why I really reached out to OBS. I *think* it was because I felt so alone. I really wanted to know if she felt the same--I was looking to know what her life had been like the last several weeks as I felt like I could relate to her better than anyone.
What I should have done was walked into the other room and told my wife I had an urge to text OBS and then discussed that urge with her. So that's on me and I can do better.
My wife's blow up was still insane though and I need her to figure out less toxic ways of expressing her feelings (quickly). Her IC suggested she count to 12, but it's not enough--if she doesn't express her anger, she bottles it in as a grudge and resentment, so it's a lose-lose. She needs to figure out a way of compartmentalizing her issue so she can talk it through in IC or MC rather than blowing up at me or being passive aggressive with me. It's going to be a major challenge for her.
[This message edited by Drstrangelove at 7:08 PM, Monday, June 6th]