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Reconciliation :
You Can't Make Them Change

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 CaptainRogers (original poster member #57127) posted at 1:42 PM on Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

Not that this is a surprise to anyone, but you really can't. You can hope. You can lay down expectations. You can set boundaries. But the only one who can make the change is them.

I have waited 5+ years to see any TRUE changes in Mrs. Cap. The MC we are still with, that we started seeing 18 months ago, has helped considerably. She has held Mrs. Cap's feet to the fire, has dug deeper to find issues pre-A, has not let Mrs. Cap off the hook when it comes to empathy. In short...she's good...REALLY good.

The last few sessions, we have covered my stuff, my low "connection" numbers (higher than the 0-1 from a few months back, but still not generally above a 5), and have been getting to the heart of the issues.

Yesterday, we talked about the times across the last 28 years where I have been scrutinized at the molecular level, nitpicked to the extreme, held to impossible standards with the "bare minimum" being absolute perfection. I talked about the feelings of unfairness, of feeling unloved & unwanted.

And for the first time in the MANY years of off and on MC, Mrs. Cap cried. She cried and she actually said "The reason you feel like the villain is because that's what I did. I did do all those things."

(FYI, she had NEVER admitted to doing any of that before, always saying that it was my misperception).

Then she did some things that even further shocked me. She said "I was a terrible person then. I am so sorry that I did that to you for so many years. I can't believe that I allowed myself to do that to you. To go through all of that, capped off by my A and then how I continued to treat you afterwards...that is more than anyone should have to bear. I can't imagine the burden that must have been to carry. I don't ever want to do that to you again. Will you forgive me?"

And I thought...who are you and what did you do with Mrs. Cap?

She didn't deny anything. She went on to talk about what she was feeling through those years (not defending anything, just saying things about her bitterness and anger and, on some level, hatred of me...that was hard to hear) how she did everything she could to tear me down.

And unlike times past, she did it with remorse, with what looked like true sorrow, not driven by shame, but driven by actual care about what she had done, who she had been, and what she wants to show up like now.

It was a peek into the cha ges she has been working on in herself.

And it felt good.

BS: 42 on D-day
WW: 43 on D-day
Together since '89; still working on what tomorrow will bring.
D-Day v1.0: Jan '17; EA
D-day v2.0: Mar '18; no, it was physical

posts: 3268   ·   registered: Jan. 27th, 2017   ·   location: The Rockies
id 8744506
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Want2BHappyAgain ( member #45088) posted at 1:53 PM on Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

And it felt good.

THIS made my heart smile smile .

A "perfect marriage" is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other.

With God ALL things are possible (Matthew 19:26)

I AM happy again...It CAN happen!!!

From respect comes great love...sassylee

posts: 6170   ·   registered: Oct. 2nd, 2014   ·   location: Southeastern United States
id 8744507
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devotedman ( member #45441) posted at 2:04 PM on Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

Simply, "Wow."

That seems to be a marked and remarkable turnaround from the way that she used to act. Color me impressed.

I'm sure that you're cautiously ecstatic. :)

Me: 2xBS b 1962 xWW after 2 decades, xWGF after almost 1.
Amelia Pond: Who are you?
The Doctor: I don't know yet. I'm still cooking.
ENFP-A. Huh.

posts: 5138   ·   registered: Oct. 30th, 2014   ·   location: Central USA
id 8744509
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grubs ( member #77165) posted at 2:59 PM on Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

I opened the post worried that Mrs CaptianRogers had a major backslide and found quite the opposite. Congrats on the step forward. I hope she continues to follow the path she's on and you are able to move past what she did during those dark years. You deserved better and I hope she's able to fully get there.

posts: 1264   ·   registered: Jan. 21st, 2021
id 8744517
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MIgander ( member #71285) posted at 3:02 PM on Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

That's beautiful news. And a massive credit to you for hanging in there so long. Hats off to you guys Cap'n.

WW/BW Dday July 2019. BH/WH- multiple EA's. Back at it again- bantering w the younger woman. Lied about blocking phone calls and deleted texts. Carried on with her.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

posts: 773   ·   registered: Aug. 15th, 2019   ·   location: Michigan
id 8744518
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 CaptainRogers (original poster member #57127) posted at 5:41 PM on Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

That seems to be a marked and remarkable turnaround from the way that she used to act. Color me impressed.

I'm sure that you're cautiously ecstatic. :)

At the end of that discussion, the MC asked "What does Mrs. Cap's responses mean to you?"

To which, I replied "That maybe I can trust the changes as being real and that she is truly different than she has been for the entirety of our marriage."

BS: 42 on D-day
WW: 43 on D-day
Together since '89; still working on what tomorrow will bring.
D-Day v1.0: Jan '17; EA
D-day v2.0: Mar '18; no, it was physical

posts: 3268   ·   registered: Jan. 27th, 2017   ·   location: The Rockies
id 8744533
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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 6:11 PM on Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

Glad to see the positive post.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 12308   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8744538
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Tanner ( member #72235) posted at 6:11 PM on Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

That’s great news!!! Thank you for sharing.

Dday Sept 7 2019 doing well in R
BH 55 WW 48 M 31 years, 4 kids 2 grown 2 grandkids

posts: 1637   ·   registered: Dec. 5th, 2019   ·   location: Texas DFW
id 8744540
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BreakingBad ( member #75779) posted at 2:05 PM on Thursday, July 14th, 2022

Hi Cap,

I have followed your journey since I joined, and this is truly hopeful progress! Such a great update.

You can hope. You can lay down expectations. You can set boundaries. But the only one who can make the change is them.


Such truth in those words. I/we are in the weeds right now in recovery, and your update provides an excellent reality check for me. It recenters me and reassures me to hold to my expectations and boundaries. Reconciliation can only happen with true change on the part of the WS.

So glad to read your update!

"Don't you love it, don't you love it?
No, I ain't happy yet.
But I'm way less sad."[Credit to group AJR]

Me=BW; fWH=online affairs with 3 APs over 2.5-3 yrs
Both in IC & MC
Married 31 yrs now
2 kids-both in HS
Attempting R

posts: 179   ·   registered: Oct. 31st, 2020
id 8744619
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Squish ( member #79546) posted at 2:19 PM on Thursday, July 14th, 2022

That is so wonderful to hear.

posts: 77   ·   registered: Nov. 1st, 2021
id 8744622
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SadieMae ( member #42986) posted at 6:41 PM on Thursday, July 14th, 2022

Thanks for sharing this update. I hope things continue in this trend. It's wonderful to read.

Me: BW 40 on DDAY
Him: WH 40 on DDAY (FlawedBroken)
Together over half our lives.
D-day 3/9/2014
TT until 6/2016
TT again Fall 2020

posts: 1250   ·   registered: Apr. 3rd, 2014   ·   location: Sweet Tea in the Shade
id 8744664
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Notaboringwife ( member #74302) posted at 7:31 PM on Thursday, July 14th, 2022

Uplifting!

Me: fBS late 60’s
Him: fWH late 60’s
DDay : March 2019
Separation: March 2019
R: June 2019

Shift your internal stance from "I’m right and you’re wrong" to "help me understand." Everything else follows from it...

posts: 318   ·   registered: Apr. 24th, 2020
id 8744667
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emergent8 ( member #58189) posted at 10:18 PM on Thursday, July 14th, 2022

Happy for you both, Captain.

Me: BS, Him: WS. Mid-late 30s.
Together 15 years, married 6 (11 m at D-Day).
D-Day: Feb 2017 (8 m PA with married COW).
5 years (and two toddlers) into R. Happy.

posts: 960   ·   registered: Apr. 7th, 2017
id 8744691
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 CaptainRogers (original poster member #57127) posted at 2:39 AM on Friday, July 15th, 2022

I/we are in the weeds right now in recovery, and your update provides an excellent reality check for me. It recenters me and reassures me to hold to my expectations and boundaries. Reconciliation can only happen with true change on the part of the WS.

And those weeds can be thick and thorny! Keep those boundaries & expectations. You will not regret keeping them. You WILL regret allowing them to be trampled.

Pulling for you, BB!

BS: 42 on D-day
WW: 43 on D-day
Together since '89; still working on what tomorrow will bring.
D-Day v1.0: Jan '17; EA
D-day v2.0: Mar '18; no, it was physical

posts: 3268   ·   registered: Jan. 27th, 2017   ·   location: The Rockies
id 8744730
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morningglory ( member #80236) posted at 10:30 AM on Friday, July 15th, 2022

Yesterday, we talked about the times across the last 28 years where I have been scrutinized at the molecular level, nitpicked to the extreme, held to impossible standards with the "bare minimum" being absolute perfection. I talked about the feelings of unfairness, of feeling unloved & unwanted.

And for the first time in the MANY years of off and on MC, Mrs. Cap cried. She cried and she actually said "The reason you feel like the villain is because that's what I did. I did do all those things."

(FYI, she had NEVER admitted to doing any of that before, always saying that it was my misperception).

Then she did some things that even further shocked me. She said "I was a terrible person then. I am so sorry that I did that to you for so many years. I can't believe that I allowed myself to do that to you. To go through all of that, capped off by my A and then how I continued to treat you afterwards...that is more than anyone should have to bear. I can't imagine the burden that must have been to carry. I don't ever want to do that to you again. Will you forgive me?"

It was almost therapeutic just reading this, even though it wasn't my cheater saying it and he will never say it, though it's all true. This is the hard reality of how they turn on us and devalue us while they're cheating. It's so nice to hear an admission of it. Glad she told the truth and is remorseful.

[This message edited by morningglory at 10:33 AM, Friday, July 15th]

posts: 454   ·   registered: Apr. 15th, 2022
id 8744748
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Unhinged ( member #47977) posted at 6:29 AM on Saturday, July 16th, 2022

What do you think has changed for her? What untruth has she unlearned about herself?

Married 2005
D-Day April, 2015
Divorced May, 2022

"The Universe is not short on wake-up calls. We're just quick to hit the snooze button." -Brene Brown

posts: 6536   ·   registered: May. 21st, 2015   ·   location: Colorado
id 8745009
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 CaptainRogers (original poster member #57127) posted at 4:18 PM on Saturday, July 16th, 2022

What do you think has changed for her? What untruth has she unlearned about herself?

Somewhere along the line, she has learned that she ISN'T perfect, that she has to stop seeing people as a means to an end, that she cannot operate independently and actually have a relationship, and that her actions and attitudes over the past 20+ years have been the MAJOR issue (not the only, but the biggest & most present) in our relationship.

Somewhere in the past 6 months (really), she got some sort of a wake-up call that said something to the effect that she isn't the victim, but is actually the abuser (for lack of a better analogy).

Or, more succinctly, her head has been removed from the "poor me" rectal area.

BS: 42 on D-day
WW: 43 on D-day
Together since '89; still working on what tomorrow will bring.
D-Day v1.0: Jan '17; EA
D-day v2.0: Mar '18; no, it was physical

posts: 3268   ·   registered: Jan. 27th, 2017   ·   location: The Rockies
id 8745027
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ShockedAndShattered ( member #79685) posted at 11:17 PM on Monday, July 18th, 2022

So great to hear, CaptainRogers! Wishing you all the best!

BS(me):42 WH:43
DDay 1- 9/11/21 EA 5+ yrs & lies TT
DDay 2- 9/23/21 EA 2+ years & lies TT
DDay 3- 10/17/21 EAs 1.5 yrs/5+ yrs TT
DDay 4- 4/11/22 Conf PA w/1 EA
DDay 5- 8/2/22 Failed Poly
DDay 6- 8/7/22 Whatever...

posts: 51   ·   registered: Dec. 17th, 2021
id 8745321
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Unhinged ( member #47977) posted at 4:33 PM on Tuesday, July 19th, 2022

...she has learned that she ISN'T perfect...

One of the things that I learned here on SI is that "phrasing" things in a different way can help us to understand ourselves and each other a little better. For instance, I used to write that "I am conflict avoidant and a wall-builder." Today I rephrase it as: "I have a tendency to avoid conflict and build walls." It's much easier to change who we are by recognizing and adjusting our tendencies (aka: FOO shit).

I can't imagine your wife every truly believed she was perfect. I mean seriously, she married a Cubs fan. It is clear, however, at least from what you've written, that this tendency towards perfection, this desperate "need" to be perfect, has been tripping her up for most of her life.

This is what I mean when I say that sometimes people have to unlearn an untruth about themselves in order to heal and move forward. I know I did. I know my Ex did, too. And it's always a work in progress, you know. It's not like we can just flip a light switch and low and behold we're fixed. It's a conscious effort.

Does your wife still feel and think that she has to be perfect in order to be loved? Can she love her imperfect self?

Married 2005
D-Day April, 2015
Divorced May, 2022

"The Universe is not short on wake-up calls. We're just quick to hit the snooze button." -Brene Brown

posts: 6536   ·   registered: May. 21st, 2015   ·   location: Colorado
id 8745389
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 CaptainRogers (original poster member #57127) posted at 5:10 PM on Tuesday, July 19th, 2022

I can't imagine your wife every truly believed she was perfect. I mean seriously, she married a Cubs fan.

That would have been the "perfect" act of mercy and kindness. 🤣

There are two aspects to that perfection mindset.

A. Growing up, she received praise for her perfect grades (4.0, valedictorian, Summa Cum Laude in college), her perfect attendance (never had a non-school related absence K-12), and her "perfect" behavior. Plenty of FOO stuff that said "you are perfect, everyone else has to conform to what you want".

2. When her mom got sick back in the late 80s, her teenage mind said "if I just do XYZ perfectly, my mom will get better". That fed the need for perfection.

How do I know she believed herself to be perfect? In one conversation shortly after D-Day v1.0, she made the statement that there was nothing wrong with what she had been doing because she had already decided that it was OK, she knew she wasn't capable of doing anything wrong, so her phone calls & texts with the AP couldn't have been wrong (she was still lying about going on dates at that time).

So, somewhere along the line, she has accepted the fact that she is, in fact, not perfect, that she is capable of inflicting heinous emotional damage on others, that she is responsible for her choices (rather than being a victim of someone else's decisions) and that she has a great deal to atone for in the marriage relationship.

It's not like we can just flip a light switch and low and behold we're fixed. It's a conscious effort.

I know that to be true. You RiverChicken fans just won't make that conscious effort to amend your ways...

Though it was nice seeing Pujols make it to round 2 in the Derby last night.

BS: 42 on D-day
WW: 43 on D-day
Together since '89; still working on what tomorrow will bring.
D-Day v1.0: Jan '17; EA
D-day v2.0: Mar '18; no, it was physical

posts: 3268   ·   registered: Jan. 27th, 2017   ·   location: The Rockies
id 8745395
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