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

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farsidejunky ( member #49392) posted at 9:59 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

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.

Perfect. This is the exact head space you need to be in to truly evaluate.

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

-Maya Angelou

posts: 615   ·   registered: Aug. 30th, 2015   ·   location: Tennessee
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PrettyLies ( member #56834) posted at 10:40 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

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.

I don’t remember how to quote on this site, so please forgive me for this post looking crazy.

You are not stupid regarding any of this. You’ve just been thrust into uncharted territory and you’re confused about how to move forward. Most of us betrayed and wayward alike, were confused at the point you’re at too. You’re not stupid, you are human.

Even though I said I wouldn’t, I’m going to beat the dead horse some more and say again that right now, I still believe you should be more focused on YOU, and not so much what your wife is and isn’t doing. You can take note of things she’s doing right, but when she messes up, it’s okay to tell her she crossed a boundary or whatever, but then, leave it at that, for her to figure out what she needs to do to correct herself in the future. If it’s important to her, she WILL figure it out, especially if she has a good counselor that she is honest with.

I think one of the reasons it might be a bit scary for the betrayed person to work on themselves, is because they might realize that their wayward spouse/partner is not a good fit for them after all, even if they are doing an awesome job of working on themselves.

I know it’s impossible to tell us every single thing that happens between you 2. It doesn’t really matter what we think anyway, it’s your life, you have to do what you feel is best for you.

I’d just like for you to think about something. Are you afraid to stop concerning yourself so much with what your wife needs to do and about fixing the marriage, and whether reconciliation is even an option……. and make your priority YOU and what you need to get to a better place mentally and emotionally, REGARDLESS of what your wife does or doesn’t do?

If you can honestly say that that you are doing that, I sincerely apologize for being mistaken about what I’m reading. But if not, I urge you to ask yourself why you aren’t. You don’t have to tell us, just think about it.

posts: 112   ·   registered: Jan. 11th, 2017
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 11:15 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.

I can give my firsthand feedback on this. I have found graphic sex details very helpful to my healing. The best way I can explain it is that the mystery of not knowing is consuming, so by defining the act specifically, it inflicts specific pain on me—it hurts. However, after X amount of time (depending on the detail), I heal from that pain. It no longer hurts me; it’s something I can own and move passed. Some of the details took weeks, others hours.

I will grab you though that I have no desire to discuss those details further at the moment, which is what made her declaration extra frustrating. I don’t want to die on a hill over something I don’t care about, but I do find her perspective unempathetic.

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

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PrettyLies ( member #56834) posted at 11:29 PM on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

"…I'm going to IC in the hopes that I heal from the trauma, but I'm also still living with my wife, the source of my trauma…"

This reminded me of a song I use to listen to a lot. I’m embarrassed to admit it’s a song by Beyoncé, because I’m not a big fan of hers. But her Lemonade album was kind of about her husband’s betrayals and some of the songs spoke to me when I was going through it with my SO.

Anyway, what I quoted you saying reminded me of a line from her song "All Night" when she sings

"…my torturer became my remedy…"

That is part of how fucked up this is, imo. The person that hurt you so badly is the same person that can help you heal from what they did to you if they choose to and they’re willing to get their shit together. How the hell is that fair?! How is it fair that holding you close when you are troubled, with genuine empathy, can help you in that moment, when they are the source of your damn troubles. So much about this is unfair and that use to really make me mad.

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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 6:27 PM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

I still believe you should be more focused on YOU, and not so much what your wife is and isn’t doing. You can take note of things she’s doing right, but when she messes up, it’s okay to tell her she crossed a boundary or whatever, but then, leave it at that, for her to figure out what she needs to do to correct herself in the future. If it’s important to her, she WILL figure it out, especially if she has a good counselor that she is honest with.

I feel like I'm doing that. I'm often disengaging and suggesting she dig in on her issues in IC.

I had an interesting exchange with my WW last night. She had been anxious the day before (July 4) being around my family--she said she felt incredibly uncomfortable in her own skin. Then then following day (yesterday) it led her down a bad spiral of negativity. She said she was able to get herself out of it on her own, so I said that was good and she would have to get used to being uncomfortable for the time being.

She said it was really a struggle for her because of her anxiousness, so I told her it seems like for someone with extreme anxiety, minimal friends outside the marriage, family in another country, and reliance on your spouses' family for day-to-day childcare needs, an affair was a particularly stupid thing to do. She agreed. I left it there and suggested she follow up in IC.

I did ask her though to grade her behavior since DDay. She told me she'd give herself a C- or a D+. I asked her why she gave that grade and she said it was because she started out as a hard F, but has gotten slightly better over the last 3.5 months.

So then I asked he why that was. Why would someone supposedly dedicated to winning me back--who understands what is expected of her--do such a piss poor job in the aftermath of DDay?

She struggled to find an answer. She had a variety of justifications, but even she recognized they were flimsy. She couldn't really explain it. Observing her try to answer the question was like looking at someone who felt she was an irredeemable fuck-up. It hurt to see, but it still baffles me as to why it is.

In my mind, she just needs to stop being an asshole when I'm telling her that I feel hurt and she'd probably jump a full letter grade! But she hasn't been able to do that thus far.

According to her, the conversation with me on Sunday morning helped her a lot in understanding where she has gone wrong in most of our talks--she now feels confident she can be more empathetic. To her credit, she's been great since Saturday night, so maybe she's onto something.

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

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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 6:34 PM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

I still believe you should be more focused on YOU, and not so much what your wife is and isn’t doing.

I feel like I'm doing that. I'm often disengaging and suggesting she dig in on her issues in IC.

Disengaging and suggesting your W dig into her issues in IC is very, very different from focusing on yourself and your own issues.

No matter what, you won't heal unless you actively work to heal 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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grubs ( member #77165) posted at 6:53 PM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

I did ask her though to grade her behavior since DDay. She told me she'd give herself a C- or a D+. I asked her why she gave that grade and she said it was because she started out as a hard F, but has gotten slightly better over the last 3.5 months.
So then I asked he why that was. Why would someone supposedly dedicated to winning me back--who understands what is expected of her--do such a piss poor job in the aftermath of DDay?


You don't go from F's to A's or even B's. Much of learning is addititive. You have to learn the alphabet before you can learn words. You have to learn words before you can read and write sentances. You have to learn how to read and write sentances before you can write paragraphs.

In my mind, she just needs to stop being an asshole when I'm telling her that I feel hurt and she'd probably jump a full letter grade! But she hasn't been able to do that thus far.


Your wayward is like a dyslexic who managed to fake it through graduation. Her relationship skills were and are pretty broken. You have known that for months. It takes time to unwind a lifetime of thought processes and habits. As others have pointed out she may never get to where you want her to be.

Do you find her grading of herself fair? Is she continuing in fits and starts to do better? That's what you have to look at. I hate to tell you but this is what it is going to look like for a while. They'll be times where one of both of you will take a step back before trudging forward again. It's not a easy road for either of you, but that's the road on which you find yourself.

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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 8:07 PM on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

No matter what, you won't heal unless you actively work to heal yourself.

Is there something specific that you don't perceive I'm doing that you think I should be doing?

FWIW, as I've noted, I feel fairly good about my personal healing at this point. Perhaps that's naïve of me, but we'll see.

Do you find her grading of herself fair?

Yea, I'd have gone with a C probably, so her grade is fair.

The issue is that I find her missteps unreasonably silly. But I understand your larger point--the issues were there all along and they were never an issue before--and now she's trying to do a whole hell of a lot at once.

I also think about that: why were they never an issue for me before? I suspect it's because she never really hurt me before--I'd go as far as to say I never thought her capable of hurting me before.

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 8743581
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StableLife ( new member #79236) posted at 1:51 AM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

Doc (sorry for the tome)–

I’ve followed your thread(s) from the beginning in JFO and have reread it to refresh my memories. I don’t post often – I’m not a betrayed or a wayward. I read for the insights into human behavior and it’s amazing how it has enabled me to help folks I know personally. My comments will likely be very different from the generally excellent advice you get at SI. I’m not a counselor, but I did spend more than a decade studying behavior and personality in work environments. So, I’ll start with this statement: I think you have an incredibly high bar for expectations for you and Mrs Doc for so soon after D-Day. Now, please let me explain.

You have described yourself as analytic and detail driven. Your questions and inquires generally are to garner more details and specifics so you can connect the dots and make sense of the decisions your wife made that resulted in your trauma and breaking of your vows to each other. Your wife clearly isn’t made that way – she’s impulsive, she’s probably lives more in the moment. You’ve asked her to change behaviors and are frustrated with her inconsistency in that regard. She can’t help it. I’ll give an example – if your family was mountain biking down a wooded trail and your wife was leading, she would make a hundred decisions (left or right, root on that path, uphill that direction, rocky, etc.) right up until she hit the edge of a ravine and she and those following her wound up injured at the bottom. I’m certain that you would more likely slow and make more deliberate decisions as you moved down the trail. But under her lead, you’re now at the bottom asking her why she made each decision and she probably didn’t even realize them to be decisions. She only knows now that she can’t answer your questions in a way that makes sense and helps you understand why you’re hurt at the bottom of a ravine.

For whatever words one would use to describe your wife’s personality (I think the thread has used impulsive, narcissistic, selfish, and more), you need to realize that true changes to personality take years, not months. But personality can change. Your wife has had four decades of surviving and living while seeing those traits get her through life – pushing back on an unhealthy homelife, dealing with teenage sex, getting validation through looking her best – are just small pieces of her personality that have been positively reenforced time and again (with limited negative consequences). But most people are generally not conscious of their personality traits, especially negative ones. They may even acknowledge a negative trait but they’ve probably never internalized what that means and how it causes them to see the world differently. True change in personality occurs over extended periods where the person experiences positive feedback from new behaviors and negative feedback from poor behaviors. Even when you tell someone or train someone, they only learn the boundaries of acceptable behaviors (called the channeling model). That is where you and Mrs Doc are right now. She’s trying to learn better behavior but in reactions, personality comes before expressed behavior. So, her underlying personality still reacts which explains her tendency to fight back, to victimize herself, to get angry first. But if I read your thread correctly, she’s getting better. She’s learning to suppress that first reaction. It puts her in a funk trying to understand. She knows she shouldn’t react and even when she does, she sees the error later and admits it. In the world of behavior and personality, that is steps forward. Could she regress: easily. Should you feel safe yet: no.

Your biggest ally right now is patience. I suspect that’s why so many advocate for separation. It reduces the daily opportunities for her to miss a behavior clue or to not understand why her reaction impacts you negatively. It’s why so many people advise that you pull the string less. Maybe set the expectation that you’re not going to have those long, hard discussions every night at your instigation. Go through the day, take her behaviors at face value, and let her come to you to discuss where she messed up. That’s when you explain to her how/why it felt a certain way to you. Again, back to my studies, that’s why when there’s workplace conflict, a boss will most often separate the two persons and schedule time to discuss with them later or another day. Cooler heads can prevail, it won’t be about a particular slight or comment, and can be addressed in the contest of workplace environment and professionalism. Maybe that’s a formula that can work for you going forward. Keep a journal instead and discuss the mistakes and slights less frequently.

The biggest thing for your wife is that she has to learn that good behavior makes her feel better (notice I didn’t say gets rewarded). She will learn over time that she likes sex with you because you are vulnerable and make her warm and comfortable and safe. She will be able to say no and not be panicked that it’s the wrong time/response. Right now, she isn’t feeling safe because she feels on eggshells. Yesterday’s good cuddle is tomorrow’s trigger. She’s still learning to read someone else’s (your) emotions and vulnerabilities and have empathy for them. Likewise, you will get the reactions and openness and honesty you crave as you are supporting her as well. I don’t think that either of you is there after just three months. Sooner or later, though, you’ll get to the point that your done trying or that one of you takes a risk and drops your guard. Maybe it comes after she has a couple bad reactions or facial responses but quickly apologizes. And you accept instead of analyzing. That will be more progress but it’s down the road.

I should note that I wrote most of this a couple weeks ago and promptly misplaced my login information. So, it may seem I’m referring back to old issues (like disengaging) for which you’ve chosen a new approach. But I think this goes to the heart of a question that keeps bothering you – why is it so hard for her to respond right after D-Day in an appropriate manner (an F) but she’s getting better over time (a C?).

I started this tome by saying your own expectations were making the journey harder. I don’t mean that to be critical of you. I just hope that some insights into personality and behavior change will help you understand the daily roller coaster and why these experienced posters say R takes years. I’m actually pulling for you and Mrs Doc. Best to both of you and your family.

[This message edited by StableLife at 1:52 AM, Thursday, July 7th]

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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 3:50 AM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

Is there something specific that you don't perceive I'm doing that you think I should be doing?

Gently, several of us have written that, in our opinions, you're focused on your W, not on you. A few of us have mentioned co-dependence' and 'control'). One or 2 of us have written about 'authenticity'.

You take pride in not being emotional in response to one of life's most emotional events. That doesn't help you heal. It helps maintain a self-image, but it doesn't help a person heal from being betrayed.

Try this out: post about yourself without mentioning your W. What do you want? What do you feel - feel, not think? What have you asked for? I mean 'asked', not what you've told your W you want from her. What have you done to process the anger, grief, fear, and shame out of your body? What have you done that hasn't had a manipulative element in it (because again and again you talk about your actions in relation to evoking one response or another, and that's manipulative)?

Those things would be a good start at working on yourself. I hope others will chime in with their own ways of describing 'working on yourself'.

Take truthsetmefree's posts to your next IC session. Work with your IC to understand them. IIRC, her posts are especially good on the topic of 'working on oneself'.

R requires tearing one's M down to the foundation and rebuilding the M. Similarly, healing requires getting deep into one's own nitty-gritty and discarding a lot of shit one carries along in one's life and rebuilding one's self, often from the foundation up. The work seems scary and hard to do at first - until you've done it. Then you'll wonder what kept you from doing it in the first place.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 5:36 AM, Thursday, July 7th]

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: 27424   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8743613
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Dkt3 ( member #75072) posted at 6:40 AM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

I think he has paved and lit the path and his wife won't pull off the blindfold, she continues to bump into objects.

Doc, your wife appears to be simply modifying her behavior because you are teaching her how. The problem is you haven't taught her everything so she continues to fail, epically. She learns to modify for the next time.

I've seen this dynamic many times and it most often goes down in flames.

Why? Because you have a wife who is not empathetic and continues to justify bad behavior. Modifying her behavior isn't the same as deep introspection and genuine change, if she was doing that her growth would be more lineal. She is learning to pacify you on this topic.

Eventually you will grow tired of her running into objects or it will all come back to sting you again.

Thats why people consistently tell you to focus on yourself, stop giving her the information to manipulate and pacify you.

posts: 82   ·   registered: Aug. 3rd, 2020
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hikingout ( member #59504) posted at 12:30 PM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

I don't find her bringing up that she doesn't want to discuss sexual details to be out of the blue when it's the basis of the questions you want to ask on the lie detector test. I also do not find it strange when you post that this is something that also turns you on, there have been a few BH's and maybe even a BW or two to admit it here on this site, and it's something our MC brought up to us to explore because it's commonly seen by therapists. That's all I will say about that, maybe you can read into that a little deeper and figure out if it's contributing to any of the dynamic. The emphasis of pain is in the details and I understand why you need them, but she needs to figure out what is contributing to her shut down, I think she should explore if it's because of her shame, because she is still hiding something, or if it's your natural reaction mix of horror and finding it erotic that makes the conversation harder to navigate. It may be a combo of all I mentioned or something I have no idea to mention because this online stuff is tricky to see the whole picture.

I agree with Sundance on one thing in particular - You give many mixed signals to your wife, and you do that in your posts regularly. I can understand how and why that is, but I do think it's helpful for you to notice it for yourself. That doesn't mean she shouldn't choose the right thing, but at this point I think it's unrealistic to expect she will get all of these little tests right and you are going to continue to torture yourself in the process. Sometimes I think you aren't sure how important something is to you (and why would you? your world just exploded and it takes a while to know up from down) but other times it's passive-aggressive in nature. (If she does X then it means Y, but if she doesn't do X than it means Z, while at the same time she doesn't realize there is an equation being made) It's better to be clear for yourself so you can get out of the reaction mode.

The things you spend a lot of time talking about can go between seeming super-important to unimportant. For example, the last time it was about reading your posts and drinking, and that went round and round with the audience until we firmly established that you didn't even care about these things. It was creating another struggle between you that could be removed, and many of these things are hurting you more than it's hurting her at this juncture. Not because she doesn't care necessarily, though I don't rule that out completely. I think it's more she has no clarity of what the right thing is or why for herself yet and she spends more time trying to guess what something means to you. Instead, by detaching from what she is doing she can figure it out for herself what is right without your guidance, and you can come to realize that all she is doing is reacting rather than it having a deeper meaning.

With each of these trials, she ends up feeling frustrated because she isn't doing anything right, but that's not nearly as bad for her as what you are doing to yourself as you search for and create a catalog of missteps that pile on to your pain as if they are proof of something. The only prove what you already know - she is deeply unwell, unreliable at this point. Relying on her and her actions is part of the codependence that posters keep pointing out.

Like Walkingoneggshelz said very well, this is pretty normal on both sides. You want to find the lines in the sand and use them kind of as a guide measure her progress or intentions. Which is understandable, you feel like have to measure with something. And, your wife tends to draw just as many arbitrary lines in the sand. She wants to know she is going to have the room to be her own person, which is likely a big piece of what she is being pushed towards in IC.

I told you that I picked smoking as my rebellion, so stupid in hindsight. I subconsciously wanted to see that I could make a decision he didn't agree with and have him accept it because there wasn't a lot of evidence of it in our marriage to that point. I clearly see now and have for a long time that was especially cruel to do to a man who was trying to stay with me after I went out and cheated on him. I write that because if she is reading this may give her some perspective.

You want to know she is being empathetic and is fully going to be in this with you so of course you are looking at whatever evidence is before you at any given time. This is normal for two people trying to renegotiate a life that has exploded and are now wondering how or even if it can ever go back together. Striving for clarity, and being proactive rather than reactive are tall orders for where you are right now, but think in those terms and reach for them.

As Redrocks pointed out, you are for sure falling back and forth between old patterns and fighting them. That too is very normal and why everyone keeps advocating for you to stay in your own lane and work on yourself. I haven't been on in a while, but I can see by your comments about not making a boundary about what she can do, but what she can do in a relationship for you shows you are growing your understanding on this topic, so I think this may eventually work itself out with more knowledge, practice, and honesty - not just with each other - but also internal honesty about your own actions and expectations.

The push for you to work on yourselves is difficult to stay focused on with the codependency and poor boundaries that existed in this relationship. You will either get better at figuring out what the boundaries should be and place a shared vision around the importance of each one or you will continue to struggle and hurt each other until this thing is dead. And, make no mistake we are as destructive to ourselves on that front, expectations are nothing but premeditated disappointment in the early days.

I wanted to comment on the poster who suggested you should at least have a vision for a divorce. I am not recommending one, I am echoing them in saying go ahead and plan it. It takes the fear out of it. Envision each scenario before you and how it can work. She needs to do the same. It oddly helps you detach from an outcome. When we can become comfortable with all possibilities, then we can come from a different place than fear. By not fearing any of the outcomes or becoming attached to one over the other, then both of you can operate from a place of authenticity and put away some of the NATURAL manipulation that is causing these moving lines in the sand that you both are creating. I don't think all manipulation comes from ill intent, a lot of it in early days after DDAY is almost unavoidable when one or both are insistent on saving the marriage.

I found myself doing all sorts of things to keep the marriage, all of which were a manipulation. None of them would have stuck long-term, I had already proven to myself and to my husband that I had come to a place that I was okay putting myself above the marriage. That's something that's hard to put back in the box once you callously have stopped considering your spouse and children in your decisions. Had we just continued on in the status quo, I would not have learned how to take space for myself in the relationship, we would have continued the same patterns until it was untenable for one of us. Given my propensity for people pleasing, my prediction is that I would have people pleased him back into the marriage but found myself still miserable because I would continue to push down the idea that I was worthy of having my needs met too. In fact, I had pushed them down for so long I didn't even know what they were anymore, it took a long time for me to figure that out to even start putting something in place that wasn't arbitrary.

We drew up divorce papers, we just used the local courthouse provided ones as we didn't want to spend on a lawyer yet - we both had stated we would like to see if we could save the marriage so we didn't want to take it to that point where we were financially investing in something neither of us thought we even wanted. Oddly, I ripped them up when I found out about his affair, but only because I had agreed to things that I was no longer going to agree to. But at the time they were very effective. For us, it proved we would both be fine financially, and by imagining what that looked like we both also realized that if we did divorce it would hurt for a while but not forever. I know you have the added complication of having children at home, but I do think that if that had been the case for us it would have prepared us better to prepare them in the case it actually happened. Kids do best when both parents are on the same page, that their well being is above all else, and I am certain that exists for both of you as it's probably a big piece of the pie chart on why you are trying to make this work.

Even with all that said, I too think that marriages can be saved, and I probably am pro-R when there is movement on both sides showing it's important. The reasons it was important to me evolved as well, and I think they will for you guys too.

Anyway, once I had truly let go of a set outcome (definitely with a lean towards saving the marriage if we could, just not an attachment to it) I began trying to show up up to the relationship authentically, he didn't especially like it. Like you, he found some of those efforts to be selfish, or not empathetic. He wasn't wrong. I didn't know the difference between people pleasing, where I should put my foot down, or how to be there for me and for him at the same time. It required a lot of reframing and doing things that were so uncomfortable and unnatural to me, and him having to slowly learn to give me the space to do that and not judge everything individually. Once I had done some work on me, I was then capable to show up to the relationship differently. I had different skills, I was able to put away my feelings and truly listen to him, become curious about his experience, start drawing from it ways to create win-wins. I think this change was most evident towards the end of year one into the second year. Year one was a lot of discovering what skills I lacked and figuring out how to strengthen them, which is a long time but without that step nothing will be a lasting change in the relationship.

I don't know if my timeline was normal nor am I telling you what to expect for yours, but expect change takes longer than either of you will want it to, and to reiterate why detachment is your friend until that time. For one, you have already shown many times you will fight something to the death, this is not creating the space she will need in order to show up in your conflict. And, in all honesty it's not healthy for you either. By you staying with that argument or point you are distracting yourself from things that can actually bring you some peace and healing.

You will know it's time to work on the marriage in earnest. She will lose her defensiveness and rebellion and realize that you are both trying to navigate to the best possible relationship that you can have together (whether that ends as husband and wife, or only as coparenting) She does haveto be able to make decisions eventually that you are not happy with, but that's a work-towards goal. For now, her goal needs to be healing herself and providing an environment in which you can heal, which limits some of those decisions that are going to be sticking points. Asking her to find friendships that are not interlinked to her affair is absolutely reasonable. Her trying to have friendships is actually a positive thing for her growth, as I can see you already understand so I won't go into that. I had to do the same, the absences of outside friendships meant all my needs fell to my husband's doorstep, which was unrealistic.

As long as she is trying to control the outcome her focus is going to be on image with you, which is also why she reacts so much to what people say here. That's part of needing to control the image in hopes of controlling an outcome. Again, this is manipulation, but without ill intent. When she can accept how destructive her behavior was and where it came from, then you will know because she will no longer be focused on image control. It will be easier for her to put away her shame and condemn her own behaviors without condemning herself. She will have enough space and perspective that she will be better able to focus more on your needs, and she will be more naturally aligned with why you have them.

And for you, as long as you are attached to the specific outcome of the relationship, you will continue to be passive aggressive around some of your needs. I agree with hellfire that it's natural as a betrayed person to look for them to do the right things on their own. It would mean a lot more if you didn't have to spell it out and start to prove they understand what they did to you. It's the only way you can start to feel trust, that you can relax a little bit because she is doing more of what you perceive she should do. But, as long as you are sending mixed signals hoping she will make the right choice, that's not a set up for success for either of you.

Instead of all this back and forth, what this period of time should look like is two people saying, you know this is a terrible situation we are now in. The only way we are going to recover any sort of relationship is if we can individually learn what we need to in order to come together, and you have to start focusing on the forest instead of the trees. In the big picture over a long period of time a WS will either show effort in the beginning and stop, or they will absolutely hate what they have done and see all the damage and continue the work regardless of any outcome with you. If you have known anyone who has made a big change - someone who lost weight, an addict who got sober, or any kind of big change - they were only successful when they were tired of their own bullshit. When they reach a point where they have landed is something they can not continue because they hate it so much. Only a lot of time will show you consistently. So, in the meantime if you are committed to seeing this through further, which you obviously are, then the only way is to let go of the outcome and know that she will sink or swim and that will become clear enough in time.

Right now, she is flailing. It's normal, but she does keep redirecting in a way that makes it believable to me she is trying and with the right reasons in mind. Try and accept all outcomes are possible and some of your best days yet haven't even happened yet. That is true regardless of the outcome of your relationship because life goes on. Your longest relationship is with yourself. Fix that first. I think both of you are working on that, but you are both clouding it by making the goal to fix the marriage and making that the biggest priority. The goal is for you to heal, and for her to fix the parts of her that led to allowing her to make such a devastating decision. THEN, when both of you have those parts in a reasonable working order, it will be much easier and clearer to decide what to do with the relationship. Either she will get to the place of true remorse and empathy, or she won't. If she does, you can choose to keep the marriage or not based on other factors, if she does not then the decision is made for you because you can't rebuild trust with someone who doesn't understand the damage they did and truly try and correct the course moving forward.

If both of you come to a healthy point and want to, then there is no reason you can't negotiate yourself to a healthy outcome no matter what it looks like. And, as you have been told many times, that's months, into years, not days. Some of these things that matter/don't matter to each of you is muddying the water greatly and causing more issues and hurt feelings and that is a great cost to an already sinking vessel. I don't think either of you are capable of completely disengaging right now,so maybe talk with your IC or MC about clear rules of engagement to minimize the damage you continue to do to one another so each person has enough peace and space to gain clarity over your own behaviors, wants, needs, goals, etc. You may not want a physical separation, but you mustn't lose focus on creating enough detachment that there is room to navigate the individual issues that have to be dealt with. If your marriage is a road, the debris of your own personal issues will keep it from being passable. You need to clear it so you can get to your ultimate destination.

[This message edited by hikingout at 12:48 PM, Thursday, July 7th]

5 years of hard work
Reconciled
WS & BS

posts: 6136   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2017   ·   location: Arizona
id 8743632
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 2:52 PM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

So there are several posts I'd like to respond to, but first I'll give a brief update on last night--reading through most of the advice from overnight feels very appropriate right now.

Yesterday, during work, my WW texted me asking to set another boundary, this time limiting our talks so that they won't be before bed--she is struggling with anxiety right before sleep and also struggling to be sexually available if we just had an emotional conversation. I found her request reasonable and suggested we could discuss limiting the frequency (by days) or just doing a cutoff at around 9 p.m. on any emotional/affair talk. She liked the 9 p.m. idea more--I said we can discuss it more at night.

I'd like to explore my mindset on the boundary discussion more here. Her other "boundary" was not discussing her illicit affair sex ever again--I rejected accepting that one on principle and it wasn't resolved. I'm viewing both of these in the same vein: not things I particularly disagree with, but seeing them as a window into her ugly mindset.

My WW has horrible boundaries, as displayed by the A, but it's more than that--she has horrible boundaries in every area of her life. And as far as I can tell, her focus on creating new boundaries is on discussions of the A--why?

It seems to me it's because it's easy for her. She doesn't want to have deep, emotional conversations with me; they make her uncomfortable and she constantly *feels* judged and criticized by them--and she certainly doesn't want to ever talk about fucking AP again. So her response is to do the work of "creating boundaries" by limiting something that ostensibly helps me and she dislikes. As far as I can tell, it's an entirely selfish act by her even though I have minimal issue with the request itself.

I tried to explain to her the nuanced feeling I had on this, just so she was clear on my feelings: I feel hurt and I feel like she's unempathetic, so I wanted to express that. She cut me off immediately, before I had even explained it, to tell me I was likely just parroting something I read from this forum.

That made me angry. For one, I wasn't; but even more importantly, if I was, why should that matter if it was something I agreed with enough to raise to her?

I walked away.

She followed a minute later to apologize profusely. I asked her to explain to me what she did wrong and she recognized it (she still has significant, unresolved issues with me posting here and she's angry with me that I don't care about her concerns). She asked me to please continue with what I was saying, so I agreed to do that.

She got very defensive immediately. She said the 9 p.m. rule is something she plans on doing (it was her trying to stand up for herself, as best I can tell)--she said she can't deal with the anxiety as it's messing with her sleep and her anxiety is worsening from lack of sleep and the conversations are making me sexually unattractive to her, making my request for her to be more sexually available too difficult for her.

Again, I had no issue with not talking passed 9 p.m., so I tried to calm the conversation down a bit and just tell her that we can agree to parameters around our conversations without them being unilateral boundaries she's imposing. It felt to me like it was important that this decision not be an agreement, but instead something she established without my input (even though I was the one who proposed the boundary lol).

Was she looking for a win? It confused me; and honestly, angered me because it felt like she was picking a fight--and I suppose she assumed I was picking a fight. It was semantical anyway as we had already agreed to the 9 p.m. thing.

She then blurted out that this would all be "easier" if we were living separately. (And to pause, I *think* she was telling the truth, but her fear of physically separating and then me moving on from her is too much of an issue for her to push for that.)

I told her that I agreed it would be "easier" and that she should strongly consider moving out for a time. She back-tracked quickly telling me she didn't mean to say that.

Anyway, to keep this shorter, I'll say we went round-and-round and accomplished nothing--she had zero understanding of what I was trying to convey, largely because she kept interrupting and being defensive.

My feeling this morning, and I'll explain further in my responses to various posts, is that I'm expecting way too much from her. She can't be genuinely empathetic and stop saying stupid stuff. I leave for Italy in a week and I just want to try to get some distance from her now--it's all too exhausting. We can stop talking entirely; stop having sex; stop doing anything together really and it'll give us a two week break--we're supposed to do a family beach trip on Saturday that I may just cancel. Then maybe we return from our trips and see how we feel--if we want to reconnect again or perhaps temporarily 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 8743647
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 2:56 PM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

So, I’ll start with this statement: I think you have an incredibly high bar for expectations for you and Mrs Doc for so soon after D-Day...

...I started this tome by saying your own expectations were making the journey harder. I don’t mean that to be critical of you. I just hope that some insights into personality and behavior change will help you understand the daily roller coaster and why these experienced posters say R takes years. I’m actually pulling for you and Mrs Doc. Best to both of you and your family.

StableLife, thank you for the post. I came to the same conclusion last night and noted it in my above post. We're spending too much time with me disappointed in her and her feeling like a failure. I need to figure out how to lower my expectations without allowing her to rugsweep the A. It's difficult for me because I feel it's important for her to know I don't buy her bull shit, but I recognize pointing it out all the time isn't helping either.

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 8743648
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 2:58 PM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

I think he has paved and lit the path and his wife won't pull off the blindfold, she continues to bump into objects.

Doc, your wife appears to be simply modifying her behavior because you are teaching her how. The problem is you haven't taught her everything so she continues to fail, epically. She learns to modify for the next time.

I've seen this dynamic many times and it most often goes down in flames.

Why? Because you have a wife who is not empathetic and continues to justify bad behavior. Modifying her behavior isn't the same as deep introspection and genuine change, if she was doing that her growth would be more lineal. She is learning to pacify you on this topic.

Eventually you will grow tired of her running into objects or it will all come back to sting you again.

Thats why people consistently tell you to focus on yourself, stop giving her the information to manipulate and pacify you.

I agree with you entirely. The issue then is obvious--can I still post here if I don't trust her not to read it? I'm giving her so much to manipulate me with and it's to her detriment, even though she can't see 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 8743649
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 3:13 PM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

What do you want? What do you feel - feel, not think?

I feel gutted by the betrayal of the A. While I feel myself healing from the sex acts and the badmouthing, the deception and act of betrayal itself feels as hurtful as it first did nearly four months ago. My WW put no value on our M and had no respect for me. I feel like what she did deserves a response of divorce and that my attempt to allow time to let the situation breathe is perhaps less evolved that I'm framing it and just weakness from me. And even worse, how she is making me feel since DDay makes me decision to not D feel even more foolish.

What have you asked for? I mean 'asked', not what you've told your W you want from her.

I've asked for my WW to be empathetic in her actions and words while I heal from the trauma she caused me. She fails almost daily. I don't know how to process what that means.

What have you done to process the anger, grief, fear, and shame out of your body? What have you done that hasn't had a manipulative element in it (because again and again you talk about your actions in relation to evoking one response or another, and that's manipulative)?

I'm taking time to focus on myself. Working out (well, largely rehabbing a shoulder injury I cause about two months ago...), going to dinners, concerts, traveling, etc., without my WW. I'm doing a tremendous amount of introspection--analyzing how I feel constantly--bringing those feelings here, to IC and to my WW.

I'm struggling to get a good grasp on the manipulation aspect of my behavior you've mentioned. I'm telling her how I feel and *expecting* her to be empathetic. She's often not, which makes me disappointed. Is my expectation of empathy manipulative?

My instinct is to just stop telling her how I feel--that would eliminate my expectation, in turn eliminating my disappointment. However, I also recognize that telling her how I feel is the *only* thing my MC wants me to do. So that means I need to tell her how I feel without expectations of her response. That is hard for me. For me not to care about her response, I think I'd need to not care about her entirely.

R requires tearing one's M down to the foundation and rebuilding the M. Similarly, healing requires getting deep into one's own nitty-gritty and discarding a lot of shit one carries along in one's life and rebuilding one's self, often from the foundation up. The work seems scary and hard to do at first - until you've done it. Then you'll wonder what kept you from doing it in the first place.

I don't *feel* like I'm scared of that--in fact, I feel the opposite, like I'm eager to do it. I recognize I'm not doing it well based on feedback from you and others and do feel a bit lost on how I should be doing it differently.

[This message edited by Drstrangelove at 3:14 PM, Thursday, July 7th]

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 8743650
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HellFire ( member #59305) posted at 3:42 PM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

I've asked for my WW to be empathetic in her actions and words while I heal from the trauma she caused me. She fails almost daily. I don't know how to process what that means.

It means she isn't sorry. She is incapable of empathy.

This isn't something you can force her to feel. This isn't something she can work on. She either feels it,or she doesn't.

Your situation is a classic case of a cheater who is regretful, not remorseful. She is sorry she got caught. She hasn't treated you as a wife should treat her husband, for years. And now,you are expecting her to do something that doesn't come naturally for her. Your pain is annoying. She wants you to stop talking about it,so she can stop feeling bad about herself. Notice she has plenty of empathy for herself,but not you? You are the classic BS, desperately trying to force their WS to get it. To just love them in the way they deserve to be loved. And she can't. She has shown you she can't. She says it. Then she applogizes once she realizes it won't bring her desired outcome.

She said she isn't sexually attracted to you during those talks. That was a shitty way of trying to manipulate you into shutting up. She knows how important the sex is to you. She was hoping you would realize the sex will dry up,if you don't just get over it already,and let it go.

She said it would be easier to separate. Easier for her. She meant that.

You want her to be on the coaster. You tell her, over and over. She says she wants to be,and will be,and is. But,as you said, every single day, she shows you she isn't.

I know she hates the BS here,lol. But what has she said about the incredible,non-judgemental, advice and support she personally received on her own thread? She is clearly still reading your thread. So what's the harm in returning to her own thread?

You need to detach. You need to stop trying to make her get it. She needs to work on that on her own. 180. Work on you.

[This message edited by HellFire at 3:45 PM, Thursday, July 7th]

posts: 4495   ·   registered: Jun. 20th, 2017   ·   location: The Midwest
id 8743655
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grubs ( member #77165) posted at 3:43 PM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

Her other "boundary" was not discussing her illicit affair sex ever again--I rejected accepting that one on principle and it wasn't resolved. I'm viewing both of these in the same vein: not things I particularly disagree with, but seeing them as a window into her ugly mindset.


Is there really anything here that you don't already know? From my understanding you already know more details than most. What do these discussions entail at this point? Is her desire really never ever to mention the sex at all (hard no from most of SI) or is it a desire to avoid ways that it it is being brought up currently. There is a point where dwelling on it is counterproductive to R. You need to accept that it happened and decide to move on.

Was there any alternatives to yes or no on this discussed? Like keeping these discusions limited to MC, or only prescheduled, or only in writing? You need to find common ground on this or move to D.


I think her suggested 9pm boundary can be good for both of you. it's good that she realizes that she needs to work on managing her anxiety levels. I think that and her impulsiveness drives most of her poor behaviour.

posts: 1264   ·   registered: Jan. 21st, 2021
id 8743657
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HellFire ( member #59305) posted at 3:50 PM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

I also don't see an issue with not talking about it after 9:00.

How well do you sleep?

posts: 4495   ·   registered: Jun. 20th, 2017   ·   location: The Midwest
id 8743659
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clouds777 ( member #72442) posted at 3:53 PM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

Your pain is annoying. She wants you to stop talking about it,so she cam stop feeling bad about herself. Notice she has plenty of empathy for herself,but not you? You are the classic BS, desperately trying to force their WS to get it. To just love them in the way they deserve to be loved. And she can't. She has shown you she can't. She says it. Then she aplogizes once she realizes it won't bring her desired outcome.

She said she isn't sexually attracted to you during those talks. That was a shitty way of trying to manipulate you into shutting up. She knows how important the sex is to you. She was hoping you would realize the sex will dry up,if you don't just get over it already,and let it go.

She has made this so painfully obvious I can understand why you don't want to see it.

posts: 283   ·   registered: Jan. 1st, 2020
id 8743660
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