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

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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 5:08 PM on Saturday, July 9th, 2022

 If your wife showed no concern for your mother, I'd think that would affect you.


Well, yeah ... but I'd be the one to decide how it would affect me.
 

That struck me. I care bout her, so I'm disappointed in her seeming lack of care for me. Do I expect her to care for me? Yea, I sure do--that's the whole love and marriage thing. I find it more interesting that you don't expect your wife to care about you--I don't think that's a scenario I envy.

Gently, I think this is the difference between co-dependence and inter-dependence.

The facts that I fell in love with my W and that I came to love her is about me and my responses to the person my W was/is. My feelings for her place no obligations on her.

We agreed to marry - that did place obligations on her and on me. M gave us each a right to have expectations of each other.

If strings are attached, it's not a gift, and it's not love. Good Ms are characterized, in part, by partners giving to and receiving from each other gift after gift.

Certainly a shared history of giving and receiving gifts conditions one to expect to give and receive even more gifts. Certainly, good Ms are also characterized, in part, by transactional/contractual aspects.

I love(d) my W even after she cheated. I loved her unconditionally. That didn't mean our M would continue, though. Unconditional love (lust?) may cause a desire to be in a relationship, but building and maintaining a relationship is conditional, based on the work the partners do.

But love in itself is a gift.

I want empathy from her. I have asked for it.

You say you want your W to understand your feelings. How do you know if she does or does not understand your feelings?

Your healing ultimately depends on your changing yourself.

As mentioned previously by me and by others, you show a lot of co-dependent characteristics. You show evidence of trying to control your W. You show evidence of trying to control the outcome for your M. You reject feedback that doesn't fit your view of yourself. You look to your W to cure you. You see none of that.

You're stuck. You're the only one who can get you unstuck. But ...

You're what? 5 months from d-day? I forget that it takes a lot more time than anyone thinks it should take to deal with the trauma of being betrayed. Recovery at its smoothest is pretty rough. Being stuck is likely to be transitory, especially so soon after d-day.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 5:11 PM, Saturday, July 9th]

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 8744025
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truthsetmefree ( member #7168) posted at 5:09 PM on Saturday, July 9th, 2022

Here’s a personal (and hopefully less emotionally charged) example to model what I am trying to say…and if you have gotten my point above, you can just disregard it. smile

A friend became really "testy" with me last night. We can look at (potential/assumed) contributing factors. Deep down he’s a little angry because he thinks we should have a FWB relationship. He also thinks with time and patience it will develop into that…despite the fact that I have been direct and honest with him (authentic)...while also recognizing that such may end the friendship (vulnerable). He was also drinking last night.

None of that above is the issue. And can you imagine if I had just posted about the situation itself, the responses I would have received? Lots of people would be telling me what to DO (my behavior). Lots of people would be "diagnosing" him (his behavior).

But that’s not the issue either.

The issue is the anxiety I felt based on his behavior. And this was where I needed to focus. I needed to first evaluate whether my behavior/choices/communication has been authentic. (It has.). And then I needed to address the internal vulnerability I felt with the anxiety. Why was I feeling that? What was it about? What other past experience(s) was this triggering? It was through those questions that I was able to genuinely resolve that his behavior had nothing to do with me. And by truly understanding that on a deeper level, my vulnerability was subsequently resolved. His behavior wasn’t about me…and if my authenticity is what will dissolve the friendship, then so be it because I ultimately value that above the relationship. I can show up, be authentic, not need to self-protect (because it ain’t about me)…and let go of what he wants/needs.

All of this happened simply because of where I chose to direct my focus. I didn’t get there through evaluating his behavior or my behavior. I got there by following my own internal landscape.

Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are. ~ Augustine of Hippo

posts: 8870   ·   registered: May. 18th, 2005
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 6:02 PM on Saturday, July 9th, 2022

Truthsetmefree, thank you for your recent posts. I'll respond to them (or at least try to respond to what I understand), but first I want to go back to your post from yesterday. You wrote this:

I totally get that you can detach and spend your energy elsewhere - whether that means physically (ie, going out/on trips, taking time away) or emotionally (withdrawing talks, sex, etc). I’ve got no issue if that’s what you feel you need to do to actually protect yourself. But I’m not entirely sure that your intrinsic motive is pure there either. Whether we like to admit it or not, there is often a power imbalance in a relationship after infidelity - especially if the WS is really not wanting to D.

It struck a chord with me when I read it and I did my best to respond to it yesterday, but I hadn't really resolved it in my mind when I did. I spent about an hour yesterday thinking about it, specifically, what was behind my choice to stop having sex with my WW.

I gave some justifications for doing so:

Sexually, I'm less clear. Am I punishing her by physically detaching? Am I protecting her by not putting her in a position to feel compelled to be sexually available for me (after all, it's one of my requirements for R)? Or am I hurt by knowing she has forced herself to have sex with me on occasion when she hasn't wanted to do it and I don't like how that makes me feel? Am I preventing her from gaining control by pleasing/soothing me through sex?

While there is some truth to all of that, at its core, I think the real reason I made the decision was to punish my wife. By not being sexually available to her, I knew it would hurt her--she has enjoyed having sex because it lets her feel physically connected to me; she also likes being about to soothe me when I'm upset--she can make me forget some of my pain and hurt for a few moments and that comforts her.

So then I went deeper: why did I want to punish my WW? Sure I was disappointed in her, but I've been disappointed in her for nearly four months. What was the specific trigger here? I *think* it was my failure to communicate with her. Just how I've noted how I hate giving ultimatums because they're an indication of a failure to resolve a conflict productively, that's precisely what I was doing here. I spent a month angry with my wife for not showing me any empathy; spending countless hours trying to explain to her why I felt that way and specifically pointing out why her responses were hurtful to me. I accomplished nothing.

My frustration perhaps wasn't with my WW, but with me for failing to explain something that seemed so simple--it's like I was trying to teach a child "2+2" for a month and the child kept thinking the answer was "elephant." It made me so angry that my wife couldn't understand it; but that anger was at me for not being smart enough to teach her. And I mean smart in a very literal sense--whatever I was doing wasn't working and I couldn't figure out why.

**

So a few things happened last night. We talked more--my WW had more notes from HikingOut's posts and other journaling she wanted to discuss with me. I also talked a good deal about her issues of feeling like a bourdon at various points in her life, trying to give her productive things *she* could do to change that narrative rather than hoping others would just treat her differently without her making an effort.

My WW then asked if I wanted to have sex and I gently declined initially, citing that I didn't trust she was being authentic. But that was a lie--she was being authentic, I was declining to hurt her.

I reversed course and we had a really fun, emotionally connecting session. We both felt better.

And then I stumbled into something. She mentioned after we had sex how great it was and how the last few times it's been hard for her because we had just had such emotional/negative conversations and they make her feel so asexual. I told her I understood and that was entirely reasonable to not feel sexual after those hard talks. I then joked: "See, empathy."

She responded: "Wait, that's not empathy, that's just you understanding what I'm saying."

So I said, "Sure, I understand the words, but I'm also understanding what you're feeling."

She responded: "But can't you disagree with it?"

Me: "No, I can't disagree that you're feeling that way, though I could disagree with how you choose to handle it."

She then looked up "empathy" and started reading about it more. I saw lightbulbs going off in her head as she understood what it meant now. She realized she wasn't listening to me at all when I was telling her how I felt; she was just looking to disagree with it. She was reading about tools to use to be more empathetic, citing how much she has to learn about communication.

I know it probably seems like a silly story, but there was an authenticity to her in those moments that I loved to see. She wasn't ashamed for not understanding it and fighting with me for a month; she was excited to finally start to understand it now.

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
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 6:26 PM on Saturday, July 9th, 2022

You have so much input here to respond to, Dr S, that I literally do not know how you are managing to keep up; it’s impressive.

The last couple of days have been a lot of writing, but writing helps me more than anything. I could journal instead, but I feel like you all responding to my posts compels me to keep writing, which has been a big benefit.

But let’s talk about vulnerability. What is at the heart of feeling vulnerable? What causes us to feel it? Is it really vulnerability…or is it some response we are hoping to get/avoid? And if it’s the latter, who determines the meaning, the value, of that response? More importantly (and most likely more internally) what is the meaning behind the meaning of that determination? As an example, what is the meaning behind your wife’s lack of empathy toward your feelings? You seem to have that answer…but have you dug deeper within you to determine the meaning behind the meaning that you are assigning? What is it that makes you feel your authenticity was wasted time?

I certainly feel vulnerable now. I never imagined my wife was capable of having a PA--it was an impossibility to me. I've thought about why that is a great deal and I suspect I may have just been projecting my moral value structure onto her--it's not something *I* could have done. I have no idea why I applied my morality onto her though.

So now what I seem to be doing is imagining how I would feel about her if I was the one who had a PA. And truthfully, I wouldn't think very highly of my wife if I did that, so I'm projecting that potential feeling of mine onto her now. Her indifference and lack of respect for me is like an alarm blaring in my head throughout the day. I don't want to have a relationship with someone who doesn't care about me or respect me.

My conversations about her lack of empathy are me searching for her to show me she does care about me--and they had been going so poorly that it felt like I'd have been better off divorcing her on DDay--walking away from all the drama rather than digging into it deeper.

Authenticity - To get in touch with who you truly are through self-honesty, reflection. Seems simple on the surface and most of us think we have a good grasp on that. We usually don’t…and admitting that is usually the first step toward that awareness. Our own internal landscape has to become the primary focus…and that’s really hard to do when we are constantly looking at what someone else is doing.

I suppose I may struggle with that then. I honestly don't understand how I can disregard her behavior right now. I believe she is being authentic when she tells me she desperately wants to R. I do not feel desperate to R with her right now because I feel so vulnerable in the M. I don't know how to find comfort in the M through my actions--I feel like I need her to show me she's safe.

Vulnerability - We have to become willing to be uncomfortable. We have to become willing to not know outcomes. We have to give up the many ways we have tried to control others so as not to feel vulnerable ourselves. Ultimately, this is not resignation - though that’s how many of us first come into this. It’s going deep into our many wounds and actually cleaning them out. It’s a process of coming to genuinely love and value ourselves - beyond how others think, feel, act. Our sense of vulnerability is tempered by our own relationship with ourselves - not by limiting our authenticity with others.

I think the no sex example I gave in my last response to you was an example of me being inauthentic. I will note that I'm trying to be authentic all the time and I'm doing a hell of a lot of introspection if ever I'm suspicious that I'm not.

Look at your motives, look at her behavior…but then take all those thoughts and feelings about it inward. What are you doing? What are you hoping to achieve by doing that? Why do you need that? And then…why do you need that? Follow that "why do I need that?" question deeper and deeper.

My motive now is primarily to determine if she can be both a safe future partner to me *and* a person I want to spend the rest of my life with. They're two different things--me feeling she is safe gets me back to where I was pre-A; but now I'm also using the A as an opportunity to review the relationship we had and determine if I want to go forward. I'm more cautious of the latter though--I have a strong pull to do what is in the best interest of my children. That's why me feeling safe is my #1 priority because I need that at a minimum to try to R.

**

Here’s a personal (and hopefully less emotionally charged) example to model what I am trying to say…and if you have gotten my point above, you can just disregard it. smile

A friend became really "testy" with me last night. We can look at (potential/assumed) contributing factors. Deep down he’s a little angry because he thinks we should have a FWB relationship. He also thinks with time and patience it will develop into that…despite the fact that I have been direct and honest with him (authentic)...while also recognizing that such may end the friendship (vulnerable). He was also drinking last night.

None of that above is the issue. And can you imagine if I had just posted about the situation itself, the responses I would have received? Lots of people would be telling me what to DO (my behavior). Lots of people would be "diagnosing" him (his behavior).

But that’s not the issue either.

The issue is the anxiety I felt based on his behavior. And this was where I needed to focus. I needed to first evaluate whether my behavior/choices/communication has been authentic. (It has.). And then I needed to address the internal vulnerability I felt with the anxiety. Why was I feeling that? What was it about? What other past experience(s) was this triggering? It was through those questions that I was able to genuinely resolve that his behavior had nothing to do with me. And by truly understanding that on a deeper level, my vulnerability was subsequently resolved. His behavior wasn’t about me…and if my authenticity is what will dissolve the friendship, then so be it because I ultimately value that above the relationship. I can show up, be authentic, not need to self-protect (because it ain’t about me)…and let go of what he wants/needs.

All of this happened simply because of where I chose to direct my focus. I didn’t get there through evaluating his behavior or my behavior. I got there by following my own internal landscape.

I'm not sure I'm clear--were you anxious because you felt compelled to be inauthentic to save the relationship?

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 8744039
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 6:45 PM on Saturday, July 9th, 2022

Well, yeah ... but I'd be the one to decide how it would affect me.

What does that mean? How do you choose an emotional response? So if your wife showed no concern for your mom, you can think about it and choose an action, but how would you choose how you feel? You might get really angry at her--you could choose not to yell. You might get really sad--you can choose not to cry; etc.

Gently, I think this is the difference between co-dependence and inter-dependence.

The facts that I fell in love with my W and that I came to love her is about me and my responses to the person my W was/is. My feelings for her place no obligations on her.

We agreed to marry - that did place obligations on her and on me. M gave us each a right to have expectations of each other.

If strings are attached, it's not a gift, and it's not love. Good Ms are characterized, in part, by partners giving to and receiving from each other gift after gift.

Certainly a shared history of giving and receiving gifts conditions one to expect to give and receive even more gifts. Certainly, good Ms are also characterized, in part, by transactional/contractual aspects.

I love(d) my W even after she cheated. I loved her unconditionally. That didn't mean our M would continue, though. Unconditional love (lust?) may cause a desire to be in a relationship, but building and maintaining a relationship is conditional, based on the work the partners do.

But love in itself is a gift.

I *think* I agree, but I'll let it marinate more.

You say you want your W to understand your feelings. How do you know if she does or does not understand your feelings?

Because she spent a month telling me my feelings were "wrong" lol.

Your healing ultimately depends on your changing yourself.

As mentioned previously by me and by others, you show a lot of co-dependent characteristics. You show evidence of trying to control your W. You show evidence of trying to control the outcome for your M.

I feel there's a conflation here between my healing and what I do. I agree that it's on me to heal (though my WW can help or hinder it at times) and I feel like my healing is going along just fine.

What I do with my life to me feels entirely separate from my healing. My WW wants to try to R; I am not prepared to do that. For 90 pages you've told me that I don't control the outcome of my M, but I feel we're writing passed each other. In a very literal sense I can file for D or tell my WW I want to try to R. Now, you can argue that my M may fail if I R, etc., but you can't argue that I'm not in control of what happens next.

You reject feedback that doesn't fit your view of yourself.

We can agree and disagree on plenty, but that's not me rejecting feedback. I reject virtually nothing I read here (perhaps to my detriment). I process it all and respond to it. If your view is that me not taking all the advice here is me rejecting it, I'd counter by telling you that taking all the advice is not possible as much of it can contradict.

You look to your W to cure you.

I am not looking for my WW to cure me.

You're stuck. You're the only one who can get you unstuck.

I'm not stuck either lol. I'm choosing to be in limbo. Every second I'm here is a choice I'm making.

You're what? 5 months from d-day? I forget that it takes a lot more time than anyone thinks it should take to deal with the trauma of being betrayed. Recovery at its smoothest is pretty rough. Being stuck is likely to be transitory, especially so soon after d-day.

It will be four months next week.

[This message edited by Drstrangelove at 6:45 PM, Saturday, July 9th]

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
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truthsetmefree ( member #7168) posted at 7:17 PM on Saturday, July 9th, 2022

I'm not sure I'm clear--were you anxious because you felt compelled to be inauthentic to save the relationship?

Because this is always a work in progress, I will answer this from my current understanding.

The anxiety was an internal emotional response to the situation that could have been caused by all sorts of reasons. Being where I am, I would likely say that it was a subconscious response to learning early in life that so long as people were pleased with me they wouldn’t abandon me. Being that pleasing others became a learned coping skill, someone’s displeasure is a default trigger. Someone’s not happy with me = I will be left. It never involved a lot of rational feeling or evaluation (ie, how much does it matter if this particular person leaves me?)…it was simply a baseline survival response. (You can also see how a baseline survival response looks in your wife.)

So it wasn’t so much that keeping this particular relationship was requiring inauthenticity. It was that salving my vulnerability - without really looking at it - would require me to surrender my authenticity. That use to never be a problem because I had no clue what my own authenticity was…I was simply behaving out of survival skills.

This is why authenticity is so important to really know. We can’t lead with vulnerability. Few of us are strong enough to do that. We must first shore up our authenticity (ie, really knowing and valuing ourselves). When we can shift to that, then vulnerability is not about really BEING vulnerable. (Ie, We’re not going to die, we don’t have to self-protect because things outside of us no longer have the power we once attributed to them.)

This is what seems to have happened with your recent experience with your wife…and it’s a perfect overlay with my recent post if you want to try to make the correlation between what I was saying, what you recognized and subsequently did, to the then response you had from your wife. You were initially behaving in a way to salve your vulnerability. My earlier question to you resulted in you exploring your motive/authenticity. You prioritized your authenticity over your sense of vulnerability (which is a result not of your wife’s behavior but your willingness to look at what was driving your own behavior). When you understood why you were doing what you were doing, you didn’t feel as vulnerable. And because you understood your drivers AND then still honored your authenticity, you actually were able to connect on a more vulnerable level (no need to simultaneously try to self-protect).

I think this is one of the misnomers with vulnerability. When we feel it, we initially feel like we need to shore up our external fences - when in reality it’s a sign that we need to build more internal connections/foundations. We instead just think others need to behave differently/better to make us feel better - and in that we lose both our own internal locus of control as well as only ultimately end up just feeling more vulnerable and behaving more from self-protection methods than genuine authenticity. (And ironically, those self-protecting behaviors are frequently self-defeating behaviors - as you can readily see in your wife).

Now, for the next challenge…you’ve seen how this understanding and response can result in a different response from your wife. Does this give you a genuine understanding how this works (and hopefully motivation to keep focusing on you)…or will it be another method that you try to master and use to just get another desired end result? (Ie, control and manipulation). This is always the challenge as we learn new skills.

Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are. ~ Augustine of Hippo

posts: 8870   ·   registered: May. 18th, 2005
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 4:56 PM on Sunday, July 10th, 2022

You say you want your W to understand your feelings. How do you know if she does or does not understand your feelings?

Because she spent a month telling me my feelings were "wrong" lol.

That looks like empathy to me, by your definition. She understood your feelings but didn't like them.

That's one of the reasons, I don't place a lot of value on empathy. Sympathy, yes. Compassion, yes. Changing behavior, yes. Empathy ... that and $5 buys some good ice cream, and good ice cream is worth a lot more than empathy to me. smile

Understanding the feelings others does not imply changing to suit the other. I think 'empathy' is used mostly on SI as if it means 'the person from whom empathy is demanded will do what what the person who demands it wants'. I think many of us use 'empathy' when we mean 'sympathy' and 'compassion' and 'changes behavior'.

How do you choose an emotional response?

So if your wife showed no concern for your mom, you can think about it and choose an action, but how would you choose how you feel? You might get really angry at her--you could choose not to yell. You might get really sad--you can choose not to cry; etc.

Again: well, yeah. Exactly.

I used to be an angry, pessimistic man who was sometimes sad, glad, scared, ashamed, etc. Then, after a lot of work on myself, I changed into a happy, optimistic man who sometimes was sad, scared, ashamed, etc. That was a result of choices I made. I remember exactly when I made the choices.

I don't know if I have control over my chemistry. I do know that I used to get angry in sitches in which I now am sad, scared, focused on problem-solving, etc. That may mean I changed my chemistry. IDK ... I'm not a life scientist.

I feel there's a conflation here between my healing and what I do.

Could be - how do you describe what your healing is?

It will be four months next week.

I may be forgetting about perspective. The 4th month is adds 1/3 to your post-d-day experience (not exactly but close enough). It's less than 1% of mine, no matter how you figure it. No one is at their best in the 4th month. Hell, very few of us are at our best in the 24th or 60th month....

I'm impatient. Still, the sooner you comprehend what truthsetmefree says (quoted below), the better off you'll be.

*****

truth,

I have to laugh about your classifying connecting sexually as 'less emotionally charged'. I can't describe how emotional I was during the period between wanting sex with W2b and actually having sex. I just never knew if she was rejecting me or not. Did 'no' mean 'not now', or did it mean 'never'? smile

Despite our different experience with regard to the emotional charge associated with a sexual offer and rejection, I really appreciate the way way you expressed this:

All of this happened simply because of where I chose to direct my focus. I didn’t get there through evaluating his behavior or my behavior. I got there by following my own internal landscape.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 5:08 PM, Sunday, July 10th]

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 8744102
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WalkinOnEggshelz ( Administrator #29447) posted at 7:10 PM on Sunday, July 10th, 2022

The last couple of days have been a lot of writing, but writing helps me more than anything. I could journal instead, but I feel like you all responding to my posts compels me to keep writing, which has been a big benefit.

I feel like you are using SI as a journal. This thread is a great example of how you have been processing your thoughts both good and bad and working through them.

I’m not sure if this has been mentioned already, but as you two start exploring what it means to be vulnerable and authentic, I recommend Brene Brown. Her TED talks are not just informative but also very entertaining. She has a knack for public speaking. She could be a great resource for your wife. I was also thinking about another book that helped me quite a bit called "Healing the Shame That Binds Me".

Me: WS late 40’s
Him: BH (HoldingTogether)
D Day: 7/24/2010
If you keep asking people to give you the benefit of the doubt, they will eventually start to doubt your benefit.

posts: 15349   ·   registered: Aug. 27th, 2010   ·   location: Texas
id 8744110
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 11:16 PM on Sunday, July 10th, 2022

The anxiety was an internal emotional response to the situation that could have been caused by all sorts of reasons. Being where I am, I would likely say that it was a subconscious response to learning early in life that so long as people were pleased with me they wouldn’t abandon me. Being that pleasing others became a learned coping skill, someone’s displeasure is a default trigger. Someone’s not happy with me = I will be left. It never involved a lot of rational feeling or evaluation (ie, how much does it matter if this particular person leaves me?)…it was simply a baseline survival response. (You can also see how a baseline survival response looks in your wife.)

It's interesting: I probably have the opposite issue. I almost never behave in ways that will make me more likable and I'd look at it as a vice of mine. I think it's so important to be likable and my principle goal with my children is for them to be likable--I just never had that trait.

This is why authenticity is so important to really know. We can’t lead with vulnerability. Few of us are strong enough to do that. We must first shore up our authenticity (ie, really knowing and valuing ourselves). When we can shift to that, then vulnerability is not about really BEING vulnerable. (Ie, We’re not going to die, we don’t have to self-protect because things outside of us no longer have the power we once attributed to them.)

I feel like I've historically been unafraid to be vulnerable with my WW. I always felt safe in that she would never leave me or have an A--so I always acted exactly as I wanted around her. It's interesting because I never *felt* that vulnerable, but I often was being authentic and vulnerable with her. Now, I feel vulnerable because I have no trust for her.

Also interesting, and as I've mentioned before, I never felt my WW was capable of really hurting me. So now that she has, it's increased my vulnerability as well.

Last night she picked a really stupid, unprepared fight with me at like 10 p.m.--I'm not going to bother going into it, but it was more of the same: launch an ill-advised attack and then apologize for it shortly after. I responded as I always would: with logic and reason, explaining why her position was flawed and poorly thought out.

The difference now vs. before DDay is that it hurt me. I feel vulnerable to her opinion even when I know it's unfounded, irrational and empty. Feeling this way is new for me--it takes a lot to get under my skin and now my wife can do it so easily with all her same bull shit. And it's specific to her really--I don't find myself getting upset in other situations with other people, just her.

I'm unsure of how to protect myself from her now--I feel exposed.

This is what seems to have happened with your recent experience with your wife…and it’s a perfect overlay with my recent post if you want to try to make the correlation between what I was saying, what you recognized and subsequently did, to the then response you had from your wife. You were initially behaving in a way to salve your vulnerability. My earlier question to you resulted in you exploring your motive/authenticity. You prioritized your authenticity over your sense of vulnerability (which is a result not of your wife’s behavior but your willingness to look at what was driving your own behavior). When you understood why you were doing what you were doing, you didn’t feel as vulnerable. And because you understood your drivers AND then still honored your authenticity, you actually were able to connect on a more vulnerable level (no need to simultaneously try to self-protect).

I think this is one of the misnomers with vulnerability. When we feel it, we initially feel like we need to shore up our external fences - when in reality it’s a sign that we need to build more internal connections/foundations. We instead just think others need to behave differently/better to make us feel better - and in that we lose both our own internal locus of control as well as only ultimately end up just feeling more vulnerable and behaving more from self-protection methods than genuine authenticity. (And ironically, those self-protecting behaviors are frequently self-defeating behaviors - as you can readily see in your wife).

I think you're spot on.

Now, for the next challenge…you’ve seen how this understanding and response can result in a different response from your wife. Does this give you a genuine understanding how this works (and hopefully motivation to keep focusing on you)…or will it be another method that you try to master and use to just get another desired end result? (Ie, control and manipulation). This is always the challenge as we learn new skills.

I think I lost you--how did my response on the no-sex thing generate a different response from my WW?

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 8744129
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 11:31 PM on Sunday, July 10th, 2022

That looks like empathy to me, by your definition. She understood your feelings but didn't like them.

That's one of the reasons, I don't place a lot of value on empathy. Sympathy, yes. Compassion, yes. Changing behavior, yes. Empathy ... that and $5 buys some good ice cream, and good ice cream is worth a lot more than empathy to me. smile

Understanding the feelings others does not imply changing to suit the other. I think 'empathy' is used mostly on SI as if it means 'the person from whom empathy is demanded will do what what the person who demands it wants'. I think many of us use 'empathy' when we mean 'sympathy' and 'compassion' and 'changes behavior'.

My wife at no point understood my feelings during the conversation. It wasn't that she understood my feelings and didn't like them, it was that she disagreed with the thought process I was using that led me to feel how I felt.

Using my sexual jealousy fight as an example--I was sad that my wife gave easy, boundary pushing sex to AP and withheld such sex from me our entire relationship. It made me feel pathetic, unloved and disrespected. She did not understand that.

Instead, she told me I shouldn't think of the affair as sex-based because to her it was emotionally-based. Her logic, which had nothing to do with the facts or my feelings, was that because for her she was having her emotional needs met, the sex shouldn't bother me as much; she was telling me that I was wasting my time being upset over the sex when I should really be upset over how connected she felt to him.

She was entirely ignoring how I *felt* because it's not how she felt during the A. She wanted me to feel like she did; she had no interest in understanding how I felt.

I'm not interested in her compassion or sympathy in that moment--I'd rather the ice cream laugh -- but I was interested in her showing me that she understood why I was suffering.

Again: well, yeah. Exactly.

I used to be an angry, pessimistic man who was sometimes sad, glad, scared, ashamed, etc. Then, after a lot of work on myself, I changed into a happy, optimistic man who sometimes was sad, scared, ashamed, etc. That was a result of choices I made. I remember exactly when I made the choices.

I don't know if I have control over my chemistry. I do know that I used to get angry in sitches in which I now am sad, scared, focused on problem-solving, etc. That may mean I changed my chemistry. IDK ... I'm not a life scientist.

I'm not sure that's how it works. Times when I'm able to *control* my feelings like that it's because the feelings aren't that powerful. With this A or a death of a family member, those are extreme grief and trauma I'm not able to choose to handle differently. The salve for that is largely time, not will power. Though if you're point is that at some point you have to choose to get passed it, then sure, I agree. I just don't feel like I'm there yet with this A.

Could be - how do you describe what your healing is?

Right now I'm vulnerable to my wife's argumentative, entitled, childish tantrums. They hurt me. I can only assume they hurt because I have an exposed wound--because in the past I'd have been entirely unaffected by her irrational behavior. I need to heal that wound so I be less affected by her bad behavior. I certainly feel less affected now than three months ago.

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 8744130
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 11:32 PM on Sunday, July 10th, 2022

I feel like you are using SI as a journal. This thread is a great example of how you have been processing your thoughts both good and bad and working through them.

100%.

I’m not sure if this has been mentioned already, but as you two start exploring what it means to be vulnerable and authentic, I recommend Brene Brown. Her TED talks are not just informative but also very entertaining. She has a knack for public speaking. She could be a great resource for your wife. I was also thinking about another book that helped me quite a bit called "Healing the Shame That Binds Me".

I think I've listened to her before, but I'll go back and listen to more. Thank you.

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 8744131
default

WalkinOnEggshelz ( Administrator #29447) posted at 1:02 AM on Monday, July 11th, 2022

Right now I'm vulnerable to my wife's argumentative, entitled, childish tantrums. They hurt me. I can only assume they hurt because I have an exposed wound--because in the past I'd have been entirely unaffected by her irrational behavior.

This is a different kind of vulnerability that I was referring to with the recommended reading.

When I think of vulnerability, I think of being able to expose my soft underbelly or Achilles heel. It’s the ability to share with someone the things you try to hide. It’s the parts of you that make you hurt. It’s the ability to share with someone your inner most thoughts and insecurities.

For a BS being vulnerable with your WW means baring your soul and sharing why the wound is so painful. It’s describing how the actions of your WW may have shone a light on insecurities that already existed. It’s describing how her words can cut those wounds and how exactly it hurst you on a deep and personal level. It’s allowing her in so that she can understand and build the empathy that you are seeking.

For a WW vulnerability is the ability to open up and tear down the walls to expose the insecurities and lies that have ruling the inner dialogue. It’s allowing the BS in to see the ugly and dark intrusive thoughts that have culminated to form a reality where infidelity seemed like the best solution. It’s talking about personal attributes and characteristics that we are ashamed of.
It’s exposing our jugular.

Brene Brown says that people who allow themselves to be emotionally vulnerable are typically the happiest.

Not everyone will agree. What I can tell you is that after being able to participate in that level of vulnerability is what helped my husband and I have a successful R. We have maintained that vulnerability with each other. At 12 years out, we have a healthy and happy marriage, but both partners will need to be authentic in that vulnerability for that to work.

JMHO

Me: WS late 40’s
Him: BH (HoldingTogether)
D Day: 7/24/2010
If you keep asking people to give you the benefit of the doubt, they will eventually start to doubt your benefit.

posts: 15349   ·   registered: Aug. 27th, 2010   ·   location: Texas
id 8744138
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 3:33 AM on Monday, July 11th, 2022

I can only assume they hurt because I have an exposed wound

the hypothesis is good ...

because in the past I'd have been entirely unaffected by her irrational behavior.

The conclusion is very likely to be only partially accurate. You've posted about more wounds than that.

*****

As for journaling, SI has a journal feature - it's useful for capturing posts and your thinking. It can be public or private.

It's accessible by going into your profile and clicking 'My Journal', which is a few links to the right of 'Recent Posts'.

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 8744147
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truthsetmefree ( member #7168) posted at 3:48 AM on Monday, July 11th, 2022

I'm unsure of how to protect myself from her now--I feel exposed.

I understand it completely. You also speak to how you felt different/more secure/more vulnerable pre dday. I get that too. One of the things that I found interesting in my own healing was the contrast between those two places (pre vs post)…particularly given that I could still feel secure while he was actively in an affair (unbeknownst to me) - but then not feel secure after dday when he was not actively in an affair. IOW, was the security I felt just illusionary? How much was it actually grounded in reality and truth? Had it always just been my own construct? And if that was the case - that it was all based on my own sense of truth - was that then actually…dare I say it, controllable?

I also realized after dday that there were situations in which I couldn’t possibly know the truth - whether that was him cheating again or if it would be with someone in my next relationship.

It rocked the very foundation of the world and how I knew to function in it to my very core. And that was when I realized that if I were to ever feel secure - in the most genuine sense - that it would have to come entirely from within myself. Because that was were it had initially resided anyway. I just hadn’t realized that because I thought I had created an external situation that would give me that. That was what I had always been doing - trying to create and control external situations.

Is this making sense?

We can discuss the things you wife is or isn’t doing to make you feel secure. We can try to analyze whether your best course of action for a desirable intimate relationship is to D or R. But ultimately, what you are truly looking for can only be found in its purest form from the internal relationship you have with yourself. Anything/everything beyond that is just gravy.

You are trying to determine if your wife can grow into the person that you want to share your life with. That’s entirely fair and an appropriate evaluation to be making. The things that were "tolerable" before are now no longer. (And that alone is worth some deeper exploration. Why were they tolerable before? And don’t just stop at the "I thought she’d never hurt me like this". It goes much deeper with why you would have chosen/stayed with a life partner that was "tolerable". What authenticity did you sacrifice for a sense of security/lack of real vulnerability? How did that pay out? Maybe this is what was wasted?)

The bigger point and long goal is that when you focus on and resolve these things internally…when you learn how to find that sense of security from within yourself then the vulnerability you feel in an intimate relationship is…limited (for lack of a better term). It’s not as threatening…or foundation-destroying when it’s not met. You are actually able to show up in your authenticity - to be genuinely true to who you are and what you value - without having to negotiate…internally or externally. Conflict even resolves much faster, more neatly, because your guiding light (your own authenticity) is much stronger. In short and unlike your current experience, you’re not blown about by every changing wind.

Detaching can be an important piece as you work through this process. It’s hard to resolve the source of a headache when it feels like someone is always hitting you in the head with a hammer. But it can also be like that old story of the guy that visits his doctor and says, it hurts when I touch here - to which the doctor responds, then just don’t touch there. Such a resolution obviously doesn’t get at the root of the core problem. You seem to get this perspective when it comes to MC - and that’s a great example. I don’t think you are going to a MC so much as to save your marriage as you are to keep the interactions authentic…to not just have your wife’s counseling based on only her truth. In that same way and given that you want to give the relationship more time, you can use these interactions with your wife to find your own places that "hurt when touched here". But the perspective that has to change in that approach is in not just asking your wife to quit touching there. You have to be willing to stop viewing her as either the cause or the solution…and instead view her, her behavior, your interactions as the catalyst. And not the catalyst that just blew up your life…but rather the catalyst that instead just showed you where you have been working out of your own insecurities and sacrificing your own authenticity in the process.

This is the shift that changes everything. If you’re willing to step into this experience and let go of what you thought it was suppose to be, what your wife did to destroy it, and what your wife needs to do to now fix it - IOW, the marriage that was suppose to be safe - then the marriage (and your wife) can quit being the patient that needs healing to make your world right again. The gift in the end is not just surviving infidelity, be it D or R. The gift is in finding your true self. Authenticity and vulnerability (the kind that doesn’t threaten your whole world) are the FRUITS of this work.

All of this I am talking about is predicated on simply changing your intent. Again, what do you most want from this experience - and why? Go deeper than just a "solid relationship" until you get only to the things that are internal to you. They’re the only things you can really know or control anyway.

****

I think I lost you--how did my response on the no-sex thing generate a different response from my WW?

Because you led with authenticity. When we do that and do that consistently, then we free up space for others to do the same by not needing one certain response from them. In short, we have no goal or attachment (an expectation or a hope) for a particular outcome.

[This message edited by truthsetmefree at 3:55 AM, Monday, July 11th]

Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are. ~ Augustine of Hippo

posts: 8870   ·   registered: May. 18th, 2005
id 8744148
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truthsetmefree ( member #7168) posted at 4:16 AM on Monday, July 11th, 2022

Another angle, DrS…but I’d like for us to put it on the backer burner until you have an opportunity to digest my last post. I’m afraid if I don’t post it, I’ll forget it…so just let it marinate in the meantime.

How much do you want for your wife to be authentic?

How much do you want for your wife to change?

Give some thought to how holding both of those things is challenging for both of you.

(And before you beat me to the punch, I already know you would like for your wife to authentically change. tongue Just let it all marinate. smile )

Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are. ~ Augustine of Hippo

posts: 8870   ·   registered: May. 18th, 2005
id 8744152
default

 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 3:41 PM on Monday, July 11th, 2022

When I think of vulnerability, I think of being able to expose my soft underbelly or Achilles heel. It’s the ability to share with someone the things you try to hide. It’s the parts of you that make you hurt. It’s the ability to share with someone your inner most thoughts and insecurities.

For a BS being vulnerable with your WW means baring your soul and sharing why the wound is so painful. It’s describing how the actions of your WW may have shone a light on insecurities that already existed. It’s describing how her words can cut those wounds and how exactly it hurst you on a deep and personal level. It’s allowing her in so that she can understand and build the empathy that you are seeking.

For a WW vulnerability is the ability to open up and tear down the walls to expose the insecurities and lies that have ruling the inner dialogue. It’s allowing the BS in to see the ugly and dark intrusive thoughts that have culminated to form a reality where infidelity seemed like the best solution. It’s talking about personal attributes and characteristics that we are ashamed of.
It’s exposing our jugular.

Thank you for that--it's a very direct, concise explanation.

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 8744193
default

 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 6:14 PM on Monday, July 11th, 2022

The conclusion is very likely to be only partially accurate. You've posted about more wounds than that.

I'm referring to pre-DDay when her irrational behavior did not hurt me. It frustrated me at times, but it never hurt me. The difference now is that it does both.

It goes back to my expectations for her. I'm expecting her to want to do everything she can to protect me precisely because she feels so horrible for the pain she has inflicted on me. So when she's causing additional pain instead, it hurts even more as she's the source.

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 8744228
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grubs ( member #77165) posted at 7:04 PM on Monday, July 11th, 2022

I'm referring to pre-DDay when her irrational behavior did not hurt me. It frustrated me at times, but it never hurt me. The difference now is that it does both

The point is it should have all along. One of the things for you to determine is why you tolerated that pre-DDay. It was unhealthy to you and the relationship. The why is important as whatever disfunction caused the missplaced tolerance, or acceptance, is still inside of you. It would be foolish to believe that her having an A healed that.

posts: 1264   ·   registered: Jan. 21st, 2021
id 8744238
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 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 8:17 PM on Monday, July 11th, 2022

I understand it completely. You also speak to how you felt different/more secure/more vulnerable pre dday. I get that too. One of the things that I found interesting in my own healing was the contrast between those two places (pre vs post)…particularly given that I could still feel secure while he was actively in an affair (unbeknownst to me) - but then not feel secure after dday when he was not actively in an affair. IOW, was the security I felt just illusionary? How much was it actually grounded in reality and truth? Had it always just been my own construct? And if that was the case - that it was all based on my own sense of truth - was that then actually…dare I say it, controllable?

The belief that she loved and respected me gave me comfort. It's my interpretation of her words and actions to arrive at a conclusion that gave me comfort. Now that her words and actions have made such a belief impossible, I've lost the comfort. I'd think it's controllable up to a point as it was not entirely my doing--it required input from her to arrive at the conclusion.

So if I told you I weighed 500 pounds, you might believe it because you'd surmise I had no reason to lie to you about something as irrelevant to our relationship as my weight. But then if I sent you a photograph of me, you'd have opposing evidence. Could you still believe I weighed 500 pounds? Was my perceived weight in your mind a construct?

I find it hard to imagine being in a relationship with someone who I'm unaffected by their love and respect for me. It will have a direct influence on the relationship. If my WW told me today that she currently has no love and respect for me, are you suggesting that *shouldn't* affect my security in the relationship?

I also realized after dday that there were situations in which I couldn’t possibly know the truth - whether that was him cheating again or if it would be with someone in my next relationship.

It rocked the very foundation of the world and how I knew to function in it to my very core. And that was when I realized that if I were to ever feel secure - in the most genuine sense - that it would have to come entirely from within myself. Because that was were it had initially resided anyway. I just hadn’t realized that because I thought I had created an external situation that would give me that. That was what I had always been doing - trying to create and control external situations.

Sure you may not know minute-to-minute whether your partner is cheating, but on the whole, it's information you need to feel secure. You're entering into an agreement with the partner to be exclusive to one another, so you'd need to know if the person is breaking the agreement--and if you don't care if he/she is breaking it, you'd be better served not entering it.

So if my WW was still having sex with AP now and I didn't know it, I obviously wouldn't be able to feel bad about it--but it's still an incredibly important reality. And once I found out about it, my life would be affected. My WW's perceived fidelity now is critical. If I just thought she may or may not be faithful right now, that wouldn't be good enough for me to work on our relationship. I need to believe her--and that's seemingly on her words and actions, not my mindset.

I suppose my point is that her actions (external situation) are hyper critical for me. It could be small things (strange phone use, etc.) or big things (smelled like cologne, etc.), but those factors would lead me to doubt my security in the relationship. It's not as simple as me deciding to trust her or not trust her. I need indications to whether or not she is deserving of my trust.

We can discuss the things you wife is or isn’t doing to make you feel secure. We can try to analyze whether your best course of action for a desirable intimate relationship is to D or R. But ultimately, what you are truly looking for can only be found in its purest form from the internal relationship you have with yourself. Anything/everything beyond that is just gravy.

I don't understand how that can be true. If my WW was actively cheating on me, I would not feel secure. If she can demonstrate through her actions and words that she is not cheating on me, I would potentially feel secure. Cheating is obviously the biggest extreme, but it goes for any of the bad behaviors my WW exhibited. If she lies to me or I catch her badmouthing me, it would present a crack in my feeling of security.

The things that were "tolerable" before are now no longer. (And that alone is worth some deeper exploration. Why were they tolerable before? And don’t just stop at the "I thought she’d never hurt me like this". It goes much deeper with why you would have chosen/stayed with a life partner that was "tolerable". What authenticity did you sacrifice for a sense of security/lack of real vulnerability? How did that pay out? Maybe this is what was wasted?)

I think the umbrella answer for all of that is that the things I tolerated I largely did because they weren't significant enough to warrant a D--meaning the overall happiness of my life and the lives of my children were of significantly more value than the intolerable behaviors of my wife. Presumably, she felt the same about any of my intolerable behaviors. Essentially, with D being such an extreme option, nothing my wife did was intolerable.

Now, the list of unfavorable things my WW does has more consequence. Her lying, for example, is no longer not a big deal because she has displayed that she's capable of lying about something critical to our relationship.

Ultimately though, there's a difference between the bear minimum I need from my WW to get me back to the table and agree to R vs. my wishlist of all the things she could work on. Just because she had an affair, it doesn't mean I feel she now has to be perfect to warrant marriage--but she certainly has to be better than she was. What "better" means will be up to my judgement I suppose.

The bigger point and long goal is that when you focus on and resolve these things internally…when you learn how to find that sense of security from within yourself then the vulnerability you feel in an intimate relationship is…limited (for lack of a better term). It’s not as threatening…or foundation-destroying when it’s not met. You are actually able to show up in your authenticity - to be genuinely true to who you are and what you value - without having to negotiate…internally or externally. Conflict even resolves much faster, more neatly, because your guiding light (your own authenticity) is much stronger. In short and unlike your current experience, you’re not blown about by every changing wind.

I'm interpreting that as if I can care less about my WW, I won't care when she has anal sex with other dudes. And to that, I agree! But that's also a big fear: being in a relationship with someone who's infidelity wouldn't upset me very much. I grew up as a fairly cold person--I was never emotional about anything. I recall once my father, very upset, yelled at me that I was "cold, callous and heartless," to which I said "thank you." And I meant it--I prided myself on being emotionally distant and never letting myself feel compromised by emotion. Having children I think changed that--I became much softer in all of my relationships, including with my wife. I opened up and was ok being vulnerable.

I know what the other side of the coin looks like and I know I could go back to that person--it's familiar territory--but I've enjoyed being emotionally vulnerable all these years now. I want my wife to be capable of hurting me--so I'd rather D than enter into a relationship where I'm focused on protecting myself.

Truthfully, as horrific as this has been, I'm going to be just fine. I'm going to get over all of this I expect. And as bad as it was, I'd rather not change the core of who I am to protect myself from it ever happening again. If I D my wife, go off and marry someone else in 10 years and then that person cheats on me--I want it to crush me. Because if it didn't, it probably means the relationship I had wasn't very special.

Detaching can be an important piece as you work through this process. It’s hard to resolve the source of a headache when it feels like someone is always hitting you in the head with a hammer. But it can also be like that old story of the guy that visits his doctor and says, it hurts when I touch here - to which the doctor responds, then just don’t touch there. Such a resolution obviously doesn’t get at the root of the core problem. You seem to get this perspective when it comes to MC - and that’s a great example. I don’t think you are going to a MC so much as to save your marriage as you are to keep the interactions authentic…to not just have your wife’s counseling based on only her truth. In that same way and given that you want to give the relationship more time, you can use these interactions with your wife to find your own places that "hurt when touched here". But the perspective that has to change in that approach is in not just asking your wife to quit touching there. You have to be willing to stop viewing her as either the cause or the solution…and instead view her, her behavior, your interactions as the catalyst. And not the catalyst that just blew up your life…but rather the catalyst that instead just showed you where you have been working out of your own insecurities and sacrificing your own authenticity in the process.

That's fair and it's something that occurred to me yesterday--the other day when she picked the irrational fight with me, I fended it off rationally as I always would have, but I left the conversation feeling hurt that she had the nerve to launch such an absurd fight with me. I can't stop her from doing it, but I could have stopped myself from engaging in it--perhaps it wouldn't have led me to feeling hurt. I need to be better at detaching in the moments without grand proclamations to detach across the board.

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 8744253
default

 Drstrangelove (original poster member #80134) posted at 8:25 PM on Monday, July 11th, 2022

The point is it should have all along. One of the things for you to determine is why you tolerated that pre-DDay. It was unhealthy to you and the relationship. The why is important as whatever disfunction caused the missplaced tolerance, or acceptance, is still inside of you. It would be foolish to believe that her having an A healed that.

I may be misunderstanding you.

My wife has often expressed uninformed, thoughtless things. She says things without any examination often. It could be anything, even factually absurd things. Pre-DDay, I was used to dealing with them: either offering a different perspective, correcting a mistake, or just letting it go because it wasn't worth addressing. None of it ever hurt me, even if it was a personal attack on me. I'd talk it through with her and seemingly resolve it (for her, she'd often resolve it on the surface and carry it as resentment).

Now however, her thoughtless remarks innately hurt me. She'll launch an attack on me and it's not a matter of defending it--which is still easy enough to do--it's the fact that she thought it wise and appropriate to launch the attack in the first place. If I say she's being defensive and she replies by telling me I'm being defensive, it's now problematic. I can still work through it and sort out if I'm being defensive and address it with her, but her accusing me of being defensive now angers and hurts me and I feel like: *she just fucked another guy, so what if I am defensive!*

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 8744255
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