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My Wife Had an Intense, Highly Deceptive Affair, Part II

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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 3:33 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

I will even take it a step further. You chose to accept a marriage (pre affair) with a terrible sexual dynamic. Sure, you have kids...a home...a life built with her...many other things, so you made a hard choice to do without. But, had she not cheated, you would have likely continued to accept such poor treatment. Only now that she gave herself to another man are you demanding better. Why did it take her fucking someone else to get you to move on that? Foundationally, that is the issue you must deal with on your own. She cannot heal that, and I suspect some part of you expects her to...when it is not her responsibility to do so.

Agreed entirely and that has been a focus of my IC work. It's complicated and I have more digging to do.

She will likely never be 100% on team Dr. S. I feel like a broken record when I say this, but she does not pack the gear. You need to accept that she may only hit 60%...or 80% team Dr. S. You need to think about what you can accept right now, because her ceiling for what you want her to be is lower than your expectations. Can you accept a 60% solution? Or 80%? If not, hang it up. She will NEVER be 100% what you want from her to be safe.

I don't know how to answer that--what does 60-80% look like? I need to see enough that it makes me want to recommit to her for the rest of my life. I don't yet even know how I'll know what I'm looking for. It feels more binary to me--her defensiveness and lack of empathy is what I've been narrowed in on for a long time. I feel very tuned in and appreciative when she's displaying empathy for me now and very alarmed when she's not.

Me: BH, 38 (37 at time of A)
Her: WW, 38 (37 at time of A)
A: 9/21 - 3/22 (3 month EA; 3 month PA)
DDay: March 15, 2022
Status: Limbo

posts: 776   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022
id 8743412
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PrettyLies ( member #56834) posted at 4:46 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

It is great that you are also taking time for yourself.

Other posters have suggested that in some ways your wife is like a child. IF she is, have you considered that she may enjoy all the attention she gets from you, even if sometimes it’s because she has upset you? Her upsetting you doesn’t seem to push you away. Instead it seems to make you focus on her even more.

If she is emotionally immature, what do you think that is teaching her? Good or bad, you are teaching her how to treat you, and I think you should give some thought to the messages you are giving her with YOUR behavior.

I just think it would be better for you to focus on your own issues and your own healing more than you focus on trying to get her to act right. Maybe I just missed it where you’ve said you are doing that.

These are just my thoughts of course, I’m not expert on any of this.

Whatever path you take, I wish you well!

posts: 112   ·   registered: Jan. 11th, 2017
id 8743419
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farsidejunky ( member #49392) posted at 4:52 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

I don't know how to answer that--what does 60-80% look like?

Your initial question sounds rhetorical. Is it? You sort of answer it here, but I wanted to make sure:

I need to see enough that it makes me want to recommit to her for the rest of my life. I don't yet even know how I'll know what I'm looking for. It feels more binary to me--her defensiveness and lack of empathy is what I've been narrowed in on for a long time. I feel very tuned in and appreciative when she's displaying empathy for me now and very alarmed when she's not.

This is a start to what you should reasonably expect. What you need to ascertain is the minimum you will accept in your relationship with her. This is where your boundaries should be both established as well as rigidly enforced.

You asked the question. What does 60-80% look like? Maybe a lot like you are seeing now: empathy at times, but selfishness, entitlement, and passive-aggressive behavior at times as well. Envision yourself two years out from the affair, when everything is no longer as raw. Can you accept what you are beginning to see now for the long term? This aspect of your healing needs to be clearly understood by you. If it isn't, what is acceptable to you? Only you can answer that question. And if you are having difficulty answering that question, think of it this way: would you accept being treated a certain way were you to start a new relationship with someone? If the answer is no, then it should be no for your WW as well. As you are seeing, there is no way this is binary. The only way it becomes binary is either through perfection or the opposite, neither of which occurs in the real world.

I think some part of you is being optimistically opportunistic in this situation in that you now are insisting on trying to make a broken relationship what it should have been from the beginning. That is understandable, and hopeful, but not necessarily realistic. I would encourage you to strive for the relationship you want, but more importantly, clearly lay out the minimum you are willing to accept. Make sure she understands that if she fails to meet those minimums, there will be consequences.

For example, when my wife has PMS, which is a large struggle for her hormonally month-in and month-out, she has a tendency to snap at me over nothing. When that happens, I use a script:

"Would you be okay with me talking to you that way?"

or:

"I am not okay with you talking to me that way."

Or:

"When you talk to me in that manner, it causes me to feel like you don't really care about me."

Those are all boundary and/or feeling statements. I then follow it with consequences:

"I am going to leave the house for a couple of hours and do something for myself. Please do not call or text unless it is an apology."

This does two things. One, she wants me around when she has PMS. But she does not get what she wants when she treats me poorly. Two, it builds self esteem and self love because I am refusing to tolerate the intolerable. The root of codependency is a lack of self love, so every opportunity to enforce a boundary is an opportunity to build self love as well.

One more thing about codependency. Right now, I think you see yourself as a supplement to your WW's IC. YOU ARE NOT ANOTHER THERAPIST FOR HER. In this healing, there is a great saying I learned from a poster on another site: Keep your eyes on your own paper. It is your job to enforce boundaries with your WW. It is her job to respect your boundaries. It is not your job to communicate why it is a boundary, nor why she broke it. This is where codependents run into problems. As soon as the inevitable "why" questions gets asked, it becomes a debate. Then the codependent starts to get their boundaries curtailed. Do not engage in "why" discussions. Tell her she can respect the boundaries or not, but there is no debate. If it is not important enough to be rigidly enforced without debate, then maybe it isn't important enough to be a boundary.

This is where we bring it back around to your initial question. If, six months from now, she still lacks the ability to respect your boundaries, or she herself decides on boundaries that don't work for you...which is what she effectively tried to do with saying no more discussions about affair sex...you have your answer as to whether or not you can remain married to her because what she wants and what you want are simply not compatible. Then you will have to have the courage of your convictions and let her go.

The biggest thing that codependents struggle with are boundaries. Ask me how I know... duh If you figure this out, you will be well on your way out of codependency.

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”

-Maya Angelou

posts: 615   ·   registered: Aug. 30th, 2015   ·   location: Tennessee
id 8743420
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 6:12 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

You asked the question. What does 60-80% look like? Maybe a lot like you are seeing now: empathy at times, but selfishness, entitlement, and passive-aggressive behavior at times as well. Envision yourself two years out from the affair, when everything is no longer as raw. Can you accept what you are beginning to see now for the long term? This aspect of your healing needs to be clearly understood by you. If it isn't, what is acceptable to you? Only you can answer that question. And if you are having difficulty answering that question, think of it this way: would you accept being treated a certain way were you to start a new relationship with someone? If the answer is no, then it should be no for your WW as well.

I think that's very fair. Now when she is acting *poorly*, I'll call it out with something like: "I feel what you just said was very unempathetic." Is that an exchange I'm ok with for the rest of my life? It entirely depends on her response to it--if she gets defensive and angry, then no, I don't want that relationship. If she hears my feedback and then internalizes and examines it before responding more thoughtfully, then sure, that sounds like a great relationship.

The better question might be if I'm willing to be so emotionally raw for the long-term. My WW was almost certainly always unempathetic, I just never noticed because I never felt reliant on her for emotional support. I quite literally can't think of any scenarios where I needed her support--I've always felt like my own rock and I've never felt entitled to more; I've always felt blessed and lucky, so I've never been down on myself before this event.

So as I heal, who will I become? I'm not sure yet.

I think some part of you is being optimistically opportunistic in this situation in that you now are insisting on trying to make a broken relationship what it should have been from the beginning. That is understandable, and hopeful, but not necessarily realistic. I would encourage you to strive for the relationship you want, but more importantly, clearly lay out the minimum you are willing to accept.

A perfect segue. I think you're exactly right. My wife's defensiveness and lack of empathy was never a major issue in our life, and now it is. Truthfully, I never imagined she could be so unempathetic--it's blown me away. And now that I've seen it, I'm concerned. If she really can't put herself in my shoes, how can I ever feel safe that she won't do something else devastating to me down the line? I need to know she feels the damage she's done so I can feel safe again with her. And not jut the damage of the A, also the damage post-DDay.

One more thing about codependency. Right now, I think you see yourself as a supplement to your WW's IC. YOU ARE NOT ANOTHER THERAPIST FOR HER. In this healing, there is a great saying I learned from a poster on another site: Keep your eyes on your own paper. It is your job to enforce boundaries with your WW. It is her job to respect your boundaries. It is not your job to communicate why it is a boundary, nor why she broke it. This is where codependents run into problems. As soon as the inevitable "why" questions gets asked, it becomes a debate. Then the codependent starts to get their boundaries curtailed. Do not engage in "why" discussions. Tell her she can respect the boundaries or not, but there is no debate. If it is not important enough to be rigidly enforced without debate, then maybe it isn't important enough to be a boundary.

This is where we bring it back around to your initial question. If, six months from now, she still lacks the ability to respect your boundaries, or she herself decides on boundaries that don't work for you...which is what she effectively tried to do with saying no more discussions about affair sex...you have your answer as to whether or not you can remain married to her because what she wants and what you want are simply not compatible. Then you will have to have the courage of your convictions and let her go.

The biggest thing that codependents struggle with are boundaries. Ask me how I know... duh If you figure this out, you will be well on your way out of codependency.

We're struggling with boundaries for sure. I've gleaned that my WW's request of "no more affair sex questions" came from her IC--they've been discussing boundaries. So to her, she came to the conclusion that the affair sex is a trigger for her and she wants to heal, therefore she wants to cut it off.

My reaction to her request was interesting. On one-hand, we haven't discussed her affair sex in awhile and I shouldn't have an issue not talking about it further; however, her boundary to me felt unempathetic. It felt like she was telling me that she didn't care what I needed for my healing and only cared about herself. I feel like that shouldn't be her call--she should be willing to discuss whatever I want if it's something I tell her I need. Is that me leaning into being a victim? I don't know.

I also felt like it was an unnecessary declaration--we hadn't discussed affair sex in more than a month--so after a tumultuous night, why did she decide to bring it up then? Everything about it made me angry even though I recognized how stupid it all was. And there are no consequences for it.

I'm also not clear on how we should announce and enforce boundaries if we can't discuss them. Using her boundary example, she suggested we save it for MC, though I'm not sure that helps. Will the MC convince me my feelings are wrong? I'm doubtful.

As for my boundaries, I think I've made them clear--an obvious one is for her to stop badmouthing me to family and friends. I have no way of knowing if she's been successful in that, but as far as I can tell, she has. Is me asking her to stop being defensive a boundary? I call it out when it happens and she ultimately apologizes.

Me: BH, 38 (37 at time of A)
Her: WW, 38 (37 at time of A)
A: 9/21 - 3/22 (3 month EA; 3 month PA)
DDay: March 15, 2022
Status: Limbo

posts: 776   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022
id 8743433
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HellFire ( member #59305) posted at 6:38 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

It felt like she was telling me that she didn't care what I needed for my healing and only cared about herself. I feel like that shouldn't be her call--she should be willing to discuss whatever I want if it's something I tell her I need. Is that me leaning into being a victim?

Thats exactly what she was telling you.

It is not her call. If you tell her it's something you need,then,if she wants reconciliation, and a healed husband,she will talk about it. If it's a trigger for her, then that is something she needs to work on.Imagine if a WW were to tell their BS,at 5 months out, they will no longer discuss the affair at all,because it triggers them. How much healing do you think would occur? That's basically what she is doing. It's a form of rugsweeping. And she doesn't get to tell you what you need to heal.

No,it's not you leaning into being a victim. It is you,as a betrayed spouse,knowing what you need to heal,and voicing those needs. This early after dday, nothing about the affair should be off the table, when it comes to discussing it. Nothing.

Again, if it triggers her,then she needs to work on that. It's part of the work a WS has to do..working through their anger,selfishness,and defensiveness, and openly communicating with their BS to help heal the damage they caused.

It takes 3 to 5 years to heal from infidelity. It's way too soon for her to tell you anything is off the table,and she won't talk about it.

posts: 4495   ·   registered: Jun. 20th, 2017   ·   location: The Midwest
id 8743437
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farsidejunky ( member #49392) posted at 7:09 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

"Hellfire: Thats exactly what she was telling you."

Not exactly; subjectively. What she was objectively telling you is that she is not strong enough to endure more talk about affair details, or that her fear of discussing the details is stronger than the fear of how it might impact you.

That in and of itself should give you pause. One: she doesn't pack the gear. Two: it can be leveraged, which might be the route I would be inclined to take. I will be more than happy to provide methodology on this via PM, where your wife cannot see, because I do not believe for a moment she isn't still reading this thread.

All of that said, this was an attempt for a boundary, albeit a poor one. But that ALSO tells you something very clear: if she needs this as a boundary, and you need her to talk about it, you two ARE NOT compatible. Then she can choose to either soften her stance and keep you, or maintain her stance and lose you. Well, in theory she could lose you. I am not convinced that you have actually envisioned divorce to this point or you would have already left...or at least should have.

DR. S: My reaction to her request was interesting. On one-hand, we haven't discussed her affair sex in awhile and I shouldn't have an issue not talking about it further; however, her boundary to me felt unempathetic. It felt like she was telling me that she didn't care what I needed for my healing and only cared about herself. I feel like that shouldn't be her call--she should be willing to discuss whatever I want if it's something I tell her I need. Is that me leaning into being a victim? I don't know.

I also felt like it was an unnecessary declaration--we hadn't discussed affair sex in more than a month--so after a tumultuous night, why did she decide to bring it up then? Everything about it made me angry even though I recognized how stupid it all was. And there are no consequences for it.

I'm also not clear on how we should announce and enforce boundaries if we can't discuss them. Using her boundary example, she suggested we save it for MC, though I'm not sure that helps. Will the MC convince me my feelings are wrong? I'm doubtful.

Reiterating what I stated above, if she can't give you what you need without compromising a boundary, you two are NOT COMPATIBLE. It really is as simple as that. I would definitely save this conversation for MC.

"MC, my wife stated she is no longer willing to discuss affair details. I am not willing to be married to someone who found the illicit behavior to be more than acceptable in the moment, yet finds discussing said illicit behavior with the person she betrayed to be out of bounds."

Then shut the hell up and let the counselor do her work. Or if it is just you and your wife, then shut the hell up and let her do the talking. Here is a hint: the first person to speak after a boundary statement generally loses.

Lastly, you don't get to determine what your wife's boundaries are or are not. This is the line where some have accused you of being controlling. They are not entirely wrong; you are controlling at times. It is understandable, but it is still controlling. All you can do is accept her boundaries...or not. She gets to choose her own, and then you allow the chips to fall where they may.

Let me guess: the thought of you having no say in the matter probably scares the hell out of you, insofar as the implications towards reconciliation and your marriage. That is your dead giveaway that you are trying to control. When that happens, remind yourself to let go of the wheel.

[This message edited by farsidejunky at 7:09 PM, Tuesday, July 5th]

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”

-Maya Angelou

posts: 615   ·   registered: Aug. 30th, 2015   ·   location: Tennessee
id 8743442
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BluerThanBlue ( member #74855) posted at 7:18 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

I've gleaned that my WW's request of "no more affair sex questions" came from her IC--they've been discussing boundaries.

I wouldn't put money on that. There are some really bad and clueless therapists out there, but it's also pretty common for waywards to lie about or willfully misinterpret their IC's advice because they think the BS will be more likely to accept it.

In my experience, you shouldn't set boundaries that are contingent on her doing or not doing anything because you already know in advance that the chances of her following through consistently are nil. For example, although I agree with the sentiment of "stop badmouthing me to your family," unless you are going to wiretap her phone, you have no way of knowing whether she is abiding by this. You've also said that you're not comfortable with setting consequences for her infractions, which only leaves you the option of filing for divorce.

Therefore, I think your boundaries should be ones that you can enforce and follow through on completely on your own. For example, one of my major issues with my ex-husband was that he allowed my ex-inlaws to disrespect and insult me and the spouses of his siblings. We argued constantly about it and I knew that it was futile to expect him to defend me or expect them to stop. So I resolved that I would no longer tolerate it. If I didn't like how I was being treating in their presence, I would leave whatever event we were at or ask them to leave if they were at my home. I also resolved that I would speak up and defend my brother-in-law and sister-in-law when they were in the firing line. My husband's willingness and participation was not required to set this boundary.

On one occasion, my ex's brother yelled at me at a barbecue: "Get me a damn drink!" I glared at him and said no. He huffed and puffed, didn't apologize, so I left. My ex tried to stop me but since he was unwilling to tie me to a chair, he couldn't stop me from leaving. On another occasion-- this time dinner at our home-- my mother in law complained that I never make lasagna correctly, so I picked up the tray, threw it in the trash, and calmly said, "Dinner's over." They looked at me in stunned silence; they had become used to me apologizing or just keeping my mouth shut. My inlaws ended up seeing themselves out while my husband turned his face blue reprimanding me to no avail.

Boundaries can also present opportunities for you to observe how your wife reacts and adapts to your boundaries, and whether her reactions demonstrate her commitment to improving your relationship. Again, to use myself as an example, how might it have helped my marriage if, during the first incident, my ex had demanded his brother apologize or left the barbecue with me? What if he had stepped up during the second incident and told his mother she can't disrespect me under our roof?

Also, enforcing boundaries helps you get over anxiety over conflict and helps you feel more empowered. I had a knot in my stomach every time I enforced my boundaries, but once I did, I felt so much relief and in control of my circumstances.

Whatever boundaries you set, they should be like mountains: they are there whether or not she likes them. She can work with you to build a road around them, a tunnel beneath them, or find an alternate route, but bulldozing the mountain simply isn't an option.

BW, age 40
Divorced WH in 2015; now happily remarried to a great guy

I edit my comments a lot for spelling, grammar, typos, etc.

posts: 844   ·   registered: Jul. 13th, 2020
id 8743443
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ff4152 ( member #55404) posted at 7:34 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

Dr S

If this has already been asked/answered, I apologize.

I noticed that your WW has a grand total of 3 posts in her only thread, the last one being over 3 weeks ago. It would seem to me that if she were truly committed to getting to the root of her problems, she would be interacting with the folks here a bit more than that.

Just curious if that subject has been discussed between the two of you.

[This message edited by ff4152 at 1:34 AM, Wednesday, July 6th]

Me -FWS

posts: 1957   ·   registered: Sep. 30th, 2016
id 8743446
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 7:44 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

I will be more than happy to provide methodology on this via PM, where your wife cannot see, because I do not believe for a moment she isn't still reading this thread.

Feel free to PM me.

I am not convinced that you have actually envisioned divorce to this point or you would have already left...or at least should have.

What does that mean? Not to revisit a soft spot of mine, but the idea that I *should* have divorced my WW already is entirely unhelpful. I've made the decision to give my WW more than the 3.5 months that has already passed. That may be wrong; we'll see, but I don't feel that I know the answer to that with any degree of confidence right now.

Lastly, you don't get to determine what your wife's boundaries are or are not. This is the line where some have accused you of being controlling. They are not entirely wrong; you are controlling at times. It is understandable, but it is still controlling. All you can do is accept her boundaries...or not. She gets to choose her own, and then you allow the chips to fall where they may.

Let me guess: the thought of you having no say in the matter probably scares the hell out of you, insofar as the implications towards reconciliation and your marriage. That is your dead giveaway that you are trying to control. When that happens, remind yourself to let go of the wheel.

I'm not sure why that is your view. I don't care what her boundaries are. She can establish any boundary she wants and I can react to it. I already reacted to her boundary about sexually explicit A talk--I told her it was unacceptable. That's not me controlling her boundaries, that's me telling her I'm not willing to accept her boundary. Perhaps there's a more nuanced distinction here I'm missing.

Me: BH, 38 (37 at time of A)
Her: WW, 38 (37 at time of A)
A: 9/21 - 3/22 (3 month EA; 3 month PA)
DDay: March 15, 2022
Status: Limbo

posts: 776   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022
id 8743448
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 8:04 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

I've gleaned that my WW's request of "no more affair sex questions" came from her IC--they've been discussing boundaries.

I wouldn't put money on that. There are some really bad and clueless therapists out there, but it's also pretty common for waywards to lie about or willfully misinterpret their IC's advice because they think the BS will be more likely to accept it.

In my experience, you shouldn't set boundaries that are contingent on her doing or not doing anything because you already know in advance that the chances of her following through consistently are nil. For example, although I agree with the sentiment of "stop badmouthing me to your family," unless you are going to wiretap her phone, you have no way of knowing whether she is abiding by this. You've also said that you're not comfortable with setting consequences for her infractions, which only leaves you the option of filing for divorce.

Therefore, I think your boundaries should be ones that you can enforce and follow through on completely on your own. For example, one of my major issues with my ex-husband was that he allowed my ex-inlaws to disrespect and insult me and the spouses of his siblings. We argued constantly about it and I knew that it was futile to expect him to defend me or expect them to stop. So I resolved that I would no longer tolerate it. If I didn't like how I was being treating in their presence, I would leave whatever event we were at or ask them to leave if they were at my home. I also resolved that I would speak up and defend my brother-in-law and sister-in-law when they were in the firing line. My husband's willingness and participation was not required to set this boundary.

On one occasion, my ex's brother yelled at me at a barbecue: "Get me a damn drink!" I glared at him and said no. He huffed and puffed, didn't apologize, so I left. My ex tried to stop me but since he was unwilling to tie me to a chair, he couldn't stop me from leaving. On another occasion-- this time dinner at our home-- my mother in law complained that I never make lasagna correctly, so I picked up the tray, threw it in the trash, and calmly said, "Dinner's over." They looked at me in stunned silence; they had become used to me apologizing or just keeping my mouth shut. My inlaws ended up seeing themselves out while my husband turned his face blue reprimanding me to no avail.

Boundaries can also present opportunities for you to observe how your wife reacts and adapts to your boundaries, and whether her reactions demonstrate her commitment to improving your relationship. Again, to use myself as an example, how might it have helped my marriage if, during the first incident, my ex had demanded his brother apologize or left the barbecue with me? What if he had stepped up during the second incident and told his mother she can't disrespect me under our roof?

Also, enforcing boundaries helps you get over anxiety over conflict and helps you feel more empowered. I had a knot in my stomach every time I enforced my boundaries, but once I did, I felt so much relief and in control of my circumstances.

Whatever boundaries you set, they should be like mountains: they are there whether or not she likes them. She can work with you to build a road around them, a tunnel beneath them, or find an alternate route, but bulldozing the mountain simply isn't an option.

Thank you for that perspective. I will note though that I'm someone that never avoids conflict. So if my MIL made that comment about my food, I'd eagerly force a very awkward conflict for her; same with a BIL treating me poorly. And that goes for anything else.

I'd say the only person that ever pushes my personal boundaries is my father, but it's because I often allow it. He has his flaws--when I push back hard, I can tell I hurt him and I've found that unhelpful. I've tried various strategies and calm disagreement is usually best--he's angered that I won't take his shit or engage with him, but he is seemingly not hurt, so it feels like I'm protecting him.

In terms of my WW, the only boundary she ever broke of mine was our sex life (at least all I can think of). The issue was consequence--I wasn't willing to D over it and I couldn't find a reasonable solution on my own. I'm certainly using the A to resolve that issue. But even that requires her to do something.

I really can't think of any boundary tied to my M that doesn't involve my WW's actions. Everything I want in a new M with her involved her behavior changing. I'm open to other examples of boundaries I could set though.

Me: BH, 38 (37 at time of A)
Her: WW, 38 (37 at time of A)
A: 9/21 - 3/22 (3 month EA; 3 month PA)
DDay: March 15, 2022
Status: Limbo

posts: 776   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022
id 8743451
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Kindern ( new member #78441) posted at 8:05 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

At what point are her "boundaries" nothing more than her all previous selfish behaviour rebranded?

This can’t just become a loophole in her mind, mental gymnastics turning "I want X" into "my therapist says my boundary is you can’t control if I X".

The affair sex talk is an example. She’s dictating that she won’t talk about the affair sex. It’s phrased as a "boundary" and you’re breaking that boundary.

It all comes back to control and a therapist endorsed "boundary" could become nothing more than a palatable way of her accusing you of being controlling again without directly repeating one of the arguments you’ve already had. Same behaviour, repackaged to try and get away with it.

posts: 45   ·   registered: Mar. 4th, 2021   ·   location: Uk
id 8743452
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 8:12 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

At what point are her "boundaries" nothing more than her all previous selfish behaviour rebranded?

This can’t just become a loophole in her mind, mental gymnastics turning "I want X" into "my therapist says my boundary is you can’t control if I X".

The affair sex talk is an example. She’s dictating that she won’t talk about the affair sex. It’s phrased as a "boundary" and you’re breaking that boundary.

It all comes back to control and a therapist endorsed "boundary" could become nothing more than a palatable way of her accusing you of being controlling again without directly repeating one of the arguments you’ve already had. Same behaviour, repackaged to try and get away with it.

I agree with you; that's what she's doing and it's why I'm going to cut off the precedent with this affair sex boundary she's pushing. I'm not willing to accept the boundary, so she's going to have to retract it. I don't anticipate her wanting to S over the boundary, so I'm fairly sure that's what she'll do, but as you point out, she'll likely go back to IC and blame me for being controlling.

If we take this episode to its logical conclusion, she's either going to dig in and fight for it and fail (or succeed, depending on her goal) or she's going to apologize to me for being unempathetic in trying to enforce it.

Me: BH, 38 (37 at time of A)
Her: WW, 38 (37 at time of A)
A: 9/21 - 3/22 (3 month EA; 3 month PA)
DDay: March 15, 2022
Status: Limbo

posts: 776   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022
id 8743453
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PrettyLies ( member #56834) posted at 8:26 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

Dr.S I believed you have described yourself as not having a lot of patience. I understand that, because I don’t have a lot of patience either.

However, I think you have exhibited a lot of patience in your threads here, even when certain comments rubbed you the wrong way. I think you’ve shown your wife an enormous amount of patience and grace also.

Perhaps you have more patience than you give yourself credit for?

This kind of situation is quite maddening, and it’s difficult to not want to do everything we can to try to fix it ourselves and get our wayward to "get it" so they know exactly what they need to do to fix themselves and help fix the relationship. Unfortunately that’s just not how it seems to work most of the time. Your job is to work on you and MrsS’ job is to work on her, while showing you that she is working to be a safe partner for you. She needs to do that for her own sake, so that she becomes comfortable being honest about what she thinks, needs, wants and likes, not just to try to keep you in the marriage. As you and Mrs. S get healthier as individuals, THEN you can start trying to work on the marriage if that’s what you want.

Does it not make sense that the chances of successfully reconciling is better if both of you are coming from healthier places? I ask that not because I think you’re stupid, I don’t think that AT ALL. I ask because sometimes I feel like I don’t articulate things well.

I know you’re probably tired of people harping on the same things.

I will share a little about my story to hopefully help you see why I keep saying the same thing. I fully believe that if I hadn’t detached from my partner, he would have kept doing what he’d been doing. He had never been challenged about his poor behavior, not even by his parents, who knew what kind of person he was. He tried to love bomb me back to him, I couldn’t have cared less about any of that. Show me what you’re doing to learn and grow, and maybe I’ll pay attention. If you can’t show me that, leave me the fuck alone.

He had to decide on his own that being with me was worth him doing the work. He tried to play crazy like he didn’t know this or that, and I wasn’t really interested in trying to teach a grown ass man how to be a decent human being and have integrity. He was genuinely shocked that I no longer considered myself to be in a relationship with him.

It all boiled down to he had to chose me and our relationship over continuing to be a liar and a cheater. I made it clear I wouldn’t accept anything less and I wasn’t going to take his word that he was "different". His word meant nothing to me by then. He had to "show me the money" with his actions.

I think I’ve read around here that in order to save the marriage/relationship, you have to be willing to lose it. In my case, that was true. I had to wrap my mind around life without him, to be able to stand my ground concerning what he had to do to stay in my life. He was the one that wrecked it, so in the aftermath, he could like it or leave it and I was going to be okay either way.

I think for a lot of people that have been betrayed, it’s scary to leave the person that caused them all that pain to decide on their own to choose them and the relationship. Because what if they don’t choose the way we want them to. But the reality is that they’ve already chosen some bullshit over us and the relationship. So I think it’s imperative at that point, to choose OURSELVES. I mean, somebody has to look out for us, and the wayward spouse/partner surely hasn’t been doing it, right? So, choose YOU, and give Mrs.S the space to make her own choices about how willing she is to do the work she needs to do if she wants to choose you and the marriage. If you’ve made it clear to her what it takes to remain married to you, the rest is up to her, and you shouldn’t try to micromanage it. People put their time and energy into what’s important to them.

I will stop beating that dead horse of my opinion now.

posts: 112   ·   registered: Jan. 11th, 2017
id 8743456
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farsidejunky ( member #49392) posted at 8:39 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

What does that mean? Not to revisit a soft spot of mine, but the idea that I *should* have divorced my WW already is entirely unhelpful. I've made the decision to give my WW more than the 3.5 months that has already passed. That may be wrong; we'll see, but I don't feel that I know the answer to that with any degree of confidence right now.

You are right that this was unhelpful. What I was trying (and failing) to communicate is that your wife's post DDay behavior alone has earned her a divorce, let alone her egregious behavior with her AP, the badmouthing of you to her family, etc.

I'm not sure why that is your view. I don't care what her boundaries are.

I am saying this gently, but firmly: bovine excrement. If you didn't care what her boundaries were, you would not have balked at her not wanting to rehash sexual affair details. Stop lying to yourself.

She can establish any boundary she wants and I can react to it. I already reacted to her boundary about sexually explicit A talk--I told her it was unacceptable. That's not me controlling her boundaries, that's me telling her I'm not willing to accept her boundary. Perhaps there's a more nuanced distinction here I'm missing.

Make sure that when you use the term "unacceptable", you add the caveat "to me"; "Unacceptable to me". Or a better way to communicate it is to see my previous post about it, or for better emphasis:

"I am not willing to be married to someone who found the illicit behavior to be more than acceptable in the moment, yet finds discussing said illicit behavior with the person she betrayed to be out of bounds."

Then walk away and go do something you want to do...while she emotionally chews on what you just told her. She will either adjust her boundary based on yours (compatibility), or she will not (incompatibility).

And remember: the first person to speak after a boundary statement generally loses.

I agree with you; that's what she's doing and it's why I'm going to cut off the precedent with this affair sex boundary she's pushing. I'm not willing to accept the boundary, so she's going to have to retract it. I don't anticipate her wanting to S over the boundary, so I'm fairly sure that's what she'll do, but as you point out, she'll likely go back to IC and blame me for being controlling.

IT IS CONTROLLING TO TELL SOMEONE WHAT THEY ARE OR ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE AS A BOUNDARY.

I agree with the poster you responded to that she is using her old, shitty behaviors to rebrand as a boundary. It is a total dick move. But telling her she isn't allowed to have a boundary because it crosses your boundaries IS CONTROLLING. You are telling her how she must behave; controlling.

The non-controlling way to handle it is to point out your own boundary...and I am repeating for emphasis:

"I am not willing to be married to someone who found the illicit behavior to be more than acceptable in the moment, yet finds discussing said illicit behavior with the person she betrayed to be out of bounds."

In this hypothetical exchange, you refused to accept her boundary, and reiterated your own. If she chooses to not accept your boundary, you are not compatible. Period. That you insist you can dictate her boundaries to her is a prime example of controlling behavior, because you are literally telling her what she can and cannot do. And because you are a BS and she a WS, plus the fact that you are both desperate to save the marriage, you are rationalizing this away as necessary...but again, stop lying to yourself. IT IS CONTROLLING.

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”

-Maya Angelou

posts: 615   ·   registered: Aug. 30th, 2015   ·   location: Tennessee
id 8743459
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Kindern ( new member #78441) posted at 8:50 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

Honest question. Has the idea of her being on the spectrum come up? There’s a co-morbidity with ADHD and the like. I don’t know what the board rules or general consensus on bringing up the ideas of medical issues… sorry if this is out of line.

Women often go undiagnosed, it might not be as obvious as you think. Lack of empathy, poor impulse control, black and white thinking… I’m not being an armchair psychologist here. Just raising an idea. I’ve noticed that black and white thinking a lot. Polarised thinking, it comes across like it’s only ever one of two extremes and never "grey" with her. All her bad mouthing about you to her family came across as this. Blowing things out of proportion. Even the dead bedroom is somewhat accounted for.

Women notoriously "camouflage" and go undiagnosed. Even by professionals. Feel free to dismiss this entirely out of hand, you know her best. I’m just confused by how hard she’s finding it to fundamentally empathise with you… and a regular therapist isn’t going to help here if (on the extremely outside chance) this is the case.

posts: 45   ·   registered: Mar. 4th, 2021   ·   location: Uk
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 9:28 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

Dr.S I believed you have described yourself as not having a lot of patience. I understand that, because I don’t have a lot of patience either.

However, I think you have exhibited a lot of patience in your threads here, even when certain comments rubbed you the wrong way. I think you’ve shown your wife an enormous amount of patience and grace also.

Perhaps you have more patience than you give yourself credit for?

Thank you! I'd say I have forced patience now. I'm actively trying to be patient and it's taking a tremendous amount of effort. I'm not naturally patient.

This kind of situation is quite maddening, and it’s difficult to not want to do everything we can to try to fix it ourselves and get our wayward to "get it" so they know exactly what they need to do to fix themselves and help fix the relationship. Unfortunately that’s just not how it seems to work most of the time. Your job is to work on you and MrsS’ job is to work on her, while showing you that she is working to be a safe partner for you. She needs to do that for her own sake, so that she becomes comfortable being honest about what she thinks, needs, wants and likes, not just to try to keep you in the marriage. As you and Mrs. S get healthier as individuals, THEN you can start trying to work on the marriage if that’s what you want.

Does it not make sense that the chances of successfully reconciling is better if both of you are coming from healthier places? I ask that not because I think you’re stupid, I don’t think that AT ALL. I ask because sometimes I feel like I don’t articulate things well.

I know you’re probably tired of people harping on the same things.

I will share a little about my story to hopefully help you see why I keep saying the same thing. I fully believe that if I hadn’t detached from my partner, he would have kept doing what he’d been doing. He had never been challenged about his poor behavior, not even by his parents, who knew what kind of person he was. He tried to love bomb me back to him, I couldn’t have cared less about any of that. Show me what you’re doing to learn and grow, and maybe I’ll pay attention. If you can’t show me that, leave me the fuck alone.

He had to decide on his own that being with me was worth him doing the work. He tried to play crazy like he didn’t know this or that, and I wasn’t really interested in trying to teach a grown ass man how to be a decent human being and have integrity. He was genuinely shocked that I no longer considered myself to be in a relationship with him.

It all boiled down to he had to chose me and our relationship over continuing to be a liar and a cheater. I made it clear I wouldn’t accept anything less and I wasn’t going to take his word that he was "different". His word meant nothing to me by then. He had to "show me the money" with his actions.

I think I’ve read around here that in order to save the marriage/relationship, you have to be willing to lose it. In my case, that was true. I had to wrap my mind around life without him, to be able to stand my ground concerning what he had to do to stay in my life. He was the one that wrecked it, so in the aftermath, he could like it or leave it and I was going to be okay either way.

I think for a lot of people that have been betrayed, it’s scary to leave the person that caused them all that pain to decide on their own to choose them and the relationship. Because what if they don’t choose the way we want them to. But the reality is that they’ve already chosen some bullshit over us and the relationship. So I think it’s imperative at that point, to choose OURSELVES. I mean, somebody has to look out for us, and the wayward spouse/partner surely hasn’t been doing it, right? So, choose YOU, and give Mrs.S the space to make her own choices about how willing she is to do the work she needs to do if she wants to choose you and the marriage. If you’ve made it clear to her what it takes to remain married to you, the rest is up to her, and you shouldn’t try to micromanage it. People put their time and energy into what’s important to them.

I will stop beating that dead horse of my opinion now.

I do feel stupid on this topic. I'm not trying to engineer R; I'm trying to get clarity on if I should attempt to R at all. s I mentioned above, I've tried strings of days where we talk all the time and strings of days where we don't say a thing--I feel as though I learn nothing on the distant days. All the progress I've seen is when we connect and she's forced to address my concerns. Sometimes she does it very well and I have no need to write about it here; other times she's a disaster and I have plenty of pots highlighting those instances. As far as I can tell, she's learning from those interactions; she's just doing it at a horrible pace. As our MC told her back in April: "You're not good at this."

It's stuck with me because she is clearly her worst enemy. I also recognize that she has gradually come to realize that. It might seem from our interactions that she's as bad as she was in March, but I don't think that's true. I'm just not interested in writing out the good stuff as I don't need feedback on it (I just need you all to believe that it's there). I was going to write out a good example from yesterday, but it'll take me 15 paragraphs of context and the end-result will be that she is being more thoughtful in her words and she's making progress at setting up boundaries.

My WW is getting better at this; I am too.

I also have no fear of rug sweeping the A. I know what I expect from her and I won't R until I see signs that she can be that person. I know you're telling me I have no control over that, and I agree, but I'm not sure why it's wrong to keep going through this process with her as she improves and messes up.

Me: BH, 38 (37 at time of A)
Her: WW, 38 (37 at time of A)
A: 9/21 - 3/22 (3 month EA; 3 month PA)
DDay: March 15, 2022
Status: Limbo

posts: 776   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022
id 8743463
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 9:38 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

I am saying this gently, but firmly: bovine excrement. If you didn't care what her boundaries were, you would not have balked at her not wanting to rehash sexual affair details. Stop lying to yourself.

Make sure that when you use the term "unacceptable", you add the caveat "to me"; "Unacceptable to me". Or a better way to communicate it is to see my previous post about it, or for better emphasis:

"I am not willing to be married to someone who found the illicit behavior to be more than acceptable in the moment, yet finds discussing said illicit behavior with the person she betrayed to be out of bounds."

Then walk away and go do something you want to do...while she emotionally chews on what you just told her. She will either adjust her boundary based on yours (compatibility), or she will not (incompatibility).

Perhaps this is semantics. Of course I care about that boundary--it's why I won't stand for it. I'm saying I have nothing to do with establishing her boundaries. She can set a boundary and I can agree to respect it or not. I'm not interested in compromising or discussing it. I'm saying it's a non-starter for me for precisely the reason you quote.

IT IS CONTROLLING TO TELL SOMEONE WHAT THEY ARE OR ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE AS A BOUNDARY.

I agree with the poster you responded to that she is using her old, shitty behaviors to rebrand as a boundary. It is a total dick move. But telling her she isn't allowed to have a boundary because it crosses your boundaries IS CONTROLLING. You are telling her how she must behave; controlling.

The non-controlling way to handle it is to point out your own boundary...and I am repeating for emphasis:

"I am not willing to be married to someone who found the illicit behavior to be more than acceptable in the moment, yet finds discussing said illicit behavior with the person she betrayed to be out of bounds."

In this hypothetical exchange, you refused to accept her boundary, and reiterated your own. If she chooses to not accept your boundary, you are not compatible. Period. That you insist you can dictate her boundaries to her is a prime example of controlling behavior, because you are literally telling her what she can and cannot do. And because you are a BS and she a WS, plus the fact that you are both desperate to save the marriage, you are rationalizing this away as necessary...but again, stop lying to yourself. IT IS CONTROLLING.

I do think this is semantics. I'm not telling her she can't have that boundary, I'm telling her she can't have that boundary in a relationship with me. If she doesn't want to be "controlled" into changing that boundary to appease me, we can separate.

Me: BH, 38 (37 at time of A)
Her: WW, 38 (37 at time of A)
A: 9/21 - 3/22 (3 month EA; 3 month PA)
DDay: March 15, 2022
Status: Limbo

posts: 776   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022
id 8743465
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 9:40 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

Honest question. Has the idea of her being on the spectrum come up? There’s a co-morbidity with ADHD and the like. I don’t know what the board rules or general consensus on bringing up the ideas of medical issues… sorry if this is out of line.

Women often go undiagnosed, it might not be as obvious as you think. Lack of empathy, poor impulse control, black and white thinking… I’m not being an armchair psychologist here. Just raising an idea. I’ve noticed that black and white thinking a lot. Polarised thinking, it comes across like it’s only ever one of two extremes and never "grey" with her. All her bad mouthing about you to her family came across as this. Blowing things out of proportion. Even the dead bedroom is somewhat accounted for.

Women notoriously "camouflage" and go undiagnosed. Even by professionals. Feel free to dismiss this entirely out of hand, you know her best. I’m just confused by how hard she’s finding it to fundamentally empathise with you… and a regular therapist isn’t going to help here if (on the extremely outside chance) this is the case.

I have no idea, but she's seeing a psychologist twice a week. I'm ok with that. And even if she does have some mental disorder (I suppose we all do laugh ), the first step in dealing with it would be IC sessions. As long as she's doing them, I'll stay out of diagnosing her.

Me: BH, 38 (37 at time of A)
Her: WW, 38 (37 at time of A)
A: 9/21 - 3/22 (3 month EA; 3 month PA)
DDay: March 15, 2022
Status: Limbo

posts: 776   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022
id 8743466
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Jameson1977 ( member #54177) posted at 9:56 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

Just my $0.02 on the "boundary" issue.

When in MC, we discussed boundaries with the therapist. The therapist suggested (and that’s all she ever did, she left it to us to agree or disagree) that graphic talks about sex, in her experience, do not help healing, but more general discussion on affair sex is healthy and in most cases, needed, and mostly from the BH perspective (her words, not mine!).

I understand the theory of providing a "safe place" to discuss affair-related stuff, but from what you have described, it does sound like more of the same, control, control, control.

And as others have said, if this is her hard boundary, she has every right to do this, just like you have every right to disagree and make your own decisions and choices based on this.

posts: 787   ·   registered: Jul. 16th, 2016
id 8743468
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BluerThanBlue ( member #74855) posted at 9:59 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

Kindern: People with personality disorders might seem like they're on the spectrum because both involve a certain degree of obliviousness to how their actions and behavior might impact others. But one key difference between the two is that a person on the spectrum will be distressed or at the very least concerned when they improperly read a situation and inadvertently cause someone harm. The person with the personality disorder doesn't really acknowledge or care about the pain they cause, unless there are direct negative consequences to themselves. Obviously, I'm not Mrs Strangelove's therapist, but based on what Dr has described, she seems more like the former than the latter.

DrStrangelove: I think you're absolutely correct in acknowledging that respecting your wife's boundaries doesn't mean you are forced to live with them. If she is committed to your marriage and repairing the relationship, she will attempt to reach a compromise with you. I could list what those compromises might be, but you shouldn't have to suggest them to her and I don't want to give her any ideas she ought to have come up with herself. If she doesn't want to compromise, don't threaten to file for divorce unless you're 100% willing to follow through with it.

BW, age 40
Divorced WH in 2015; now happily remarried to a great guy

I edit my comments a lot for spelling, grammar, typos, etc.

posts: 844   ·   registered: Jul. 13th, 2020
id 8743470
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