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Wayward Side :
Empathy and connection in the face of anger and blame - help

question

 lonelypilgrim (original poster new member #79865) posted at 9:55 PM on Saturday, July 30th, 2022

This is my first post. I've sat in front of the computer so many times and started at this blank box not knowing how or where to begin. But I do know that I need some help and support and I see how helpful and honest people are on this site, so here goes...

Background (short version)...I am the WS. Married 25 years to a wonderful woman who did not deserve any of the hurt and pain i've caused her. Had an A three years ago that lasted 21 months. It ended 16 months ago. I confessed to the A but she would have found out from the H of the AP anyway, so I was effectively caught. Immediately after discovery, I went full NC with the AP. Have and will remain that way. Over the first few days/weeks, I gave all details. No trickle truth. Where we met, when, how often. How we communicated, the frequency of communication. I owned up to living a life of lies and deceit. It's hard to even type these words because it fills me with such shame and guilt. But I did those things. I caused this hurt. I ruined our marriage. I openly, willingly and authentically take responsibility for that. I feel tremendous remorse and making a real and sincere apology is a daily activity.

W and I are still together. She is trying. I am trying. But it's the hardest thing imaginable. Her hurt is so deep. The pain is ever-present. She has been here and been doing her part to try to heal and she has had the grace to give me an opportunity to heal myself and become a better person, someone that shows up for her and can actually be a good spouse again.

After d-day I began with a therapist right away. Inside of 2 months we did marriage counseling (big mistake, waste of time and money...was way to soon for that). I switched therapists after a few months (both were psychologists). This next person helped me with some breakthroughs on being able to open up to myself and to my family about my flaws and failures. How I played a lead role in our family dysfunction. My communication style was harmful. I didn't know it or see it at the time. But I look back and see it clear as day now. I would pivot and deflect from issues or problems. I wasn't truly listening and I definitely was not identifying with my W's emotional needs. I was massively deficient when it came to empathy. I still struggle in this area (more on that later). She did not feel heard. I put my own needs first, that being my selfish desire to avoid conflict. I'd avoid it by trying to make it go away. By doing so I minimized the issue or her feelings. That led to her feeling devalued and disrespected in the marriage. Again, back in those moments, I didn't see or understand that. Maybe it was a subconscious choice on my part. Too many things went unsaid and unaddressed. Resentment built up on both our parts, also unsaid and unaddressed. Instead of actually dealing with marital issues, I went out and had an A. Running away from dealing with reality. I was so shallow and i was so scared to deal with the real problems in me and in the marriage.

At about the 8 month mark after d-day, she want to IC for betrayal trauma. That got me connected to a different IC for me in the same practice. We did full therapeutic discovery, including polygraph. It's been 7 months since we did that. We are both still currently seeing these ICs.

I would like to say that after 16 months, we were moving in a positive direction. But things are as difficult as ever. The future of the M is very much in doubt. There our tears and crying daily (i wish i cried, i don't. another example of my lack of emotional depth/maturity). We talk about the A or other marital/relationship issues daily. Often they are conversations that last anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. On days with a big trigger or a day filled with anger, it can be much longer than that. I try very hard to not get defensive (i still do sometimes). I try very hard to respond with empathy. I own my terrible choices and the horrible impact this has had on my W and our M. I take the hits even when she says things that I don't agree with.

So, getting to the topic I put in the subject line...I am having trouble with being truly empathic and finding connection between us in the face of her anger and resentment toward me over what I've done. She labels me with every mental health disorder in the book - i'm a narcissist, i have oppositional defiance disorder, maybe i'm bipolar, i'm on the spectrum. This frustrates me b/c i've seen a few shrinks, even did a PAI test and they don't see these things in their clinical view. In addition to the labeling, she tells me routinely she will never get over this and she will never forgive me. In some of the angrier moments, she says she regrets the day she met me and regrets that i came into her life. Constant disparaging remarks about me, about the type of person i am, how selfish and disrespectful i am, etc. Hearing these types of things over and over does wear me down. I know it comes from a place of pain in her, a pain that i caused. That is not lost on me. But it is still hard for me to hear these awful things about me all the time. Many things she has a valid point on. There are also many things that are not accurate. I can't say anything about that bc if i do i would be seen as being defensive or minimizing.

All this causes me to feel hopeless about R and our potential to find our way through to a revived marriage. I feel like she will never be open to seeing me or experiencing me in a different way. It is only the lense of the past. It makes it hard to try to live in the now. I still love my W. Very very much. I want to be with her and her only. I want her to want to want the same. I know i need to show up in the right ways. All the time and with consistency.

Any advice from your experiences on how you have worked on your connection and empathy with your BS in the face of on-going anger and resentment?

I don't want to feel hopeless and I don't want to give up. But I am struggling.

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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 10:54 PM on Saturday, July 30th, 2022

She labels me with every mental health disorder in the book - i'm a narcissist, i have oppositional defiance disorder, maybe i'm bipolar, i'm on the spectrum. This frustrates me b/c i've seen a few shrinks, even did a PAI test and they don't see these things in their clinical view. In addition to the labeling, she tells me routinely she will never get over this and she will never forgive me. In some of the angrier moments, she says she regrets the day she met me and regrets that i came into her life. Constant disparaging remarks about me, about the type of person i am, how selfish and disrespectful i am, etc. Hearing these types of things over and over does wear me down. I know it comes from a place of pain in her, a pain that i caused. That is not lost on me. But it is still hard for me to hear these awful things about me all the time. Many things she has a valid point on. There are also many things that are not accurate. I can't say anything about that bc if i do i would be seen as being defensive or minimizing.

I'll be honest, I'm a BW and I probably thought every ugly thing you've heard so far. That said, I didn't actually SAY everything I thought because at the time, a lot of what I was thinking was emotionally reactive and on some level, I knew it. People might argue with me, but I think it's okay to do a brief 'true or false' on the FACTS and then make corrections as needed, so that if what she's saying resonates, you can acknowledge it, but if it doesn't you can TALK ABOUT IT.

Your wife was traumatized by your behavior in ways that you might not ever be able to fully understand. It helps to educate yourself on the trauma response. A good book on that would be The Body Keeps Score by Bessel van der Kolk. It's not about infidelity per se, but van der Kolk is arguably the world's best expert on trauma right now and the book is fantastic for explaining what's happening in the brain and body. These outbursts of your BW's are very likely precipitated by a jolt from the amygdala in the brain which will release adrenaline and cortisone into the body in response to a trigger. Of course, this early on, triggers are going to be plentiful. Hell for the first few months, I felt like some invisible monster was screaming "Boo!" in my ear a hundred times a day. By the second year, that had calmed down to more like twenty times a day.

The thing to understand is that even by the second year, we're thinking about what happened almost 24/7. It's actually difficult to think about other things at times. In some ways, the second year is harder than the first because now we're trying to LIVE with R and we're still full of doubt, distrust, anger, and depression. Hell, by the end of the second year, I finally had to give up and go on medication, which barely put a dent in it if I'm honest.

(oops... accidentally posted before I was done)

Anyway, to make a long post shorter... my suggestion would be to TALK ABOUT IT. Tell her the things you've told us. You don't have to be defensive to say how you feel, and you're exercising your empathy muscles when you LISTEN to how she feels. Remember though that FEELINGS AREN'T FACTS. It's okay that she feels like you're a narc when she's triggering and some horrible adrenaline/cortisol cocktail is shooting through her body. That doesn't make it true. It's okay for you to sit with her in the fire of those moments and let her know how awful you feel about having become THAT guy and to talk about it. But it's also okay to remind her, like you did here, that you DID take those questions about possible personality disorders seriously and that you have talked seriously with your doctors and therapists about it.

Here's the thing though, at a certain point a BS's outbursts can become abusive. If it comes to that, you may need to think about a therapeutic separation, and at that point, unless you're both working very hard with a good MC, a separation can become lengthy and finally permanent. Personally, I think it's best to stay together if possible, but abusive interactions can become so damaging that they kill the love. It's a hard call and my hope is that you two can learn to talk through the triggers without defensiveness but WITH caring and an eye toward your goals.

[This message edited by ChamomileTea at 12:28 AM, Sunday, July 31st]

BW: 2004(online EAs), 2014 (multiple PAs)Married 38 years; in R with fWH for 7

No one can make you into a liar but you.

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2timesunfaithful ( member #47670) posted at 11:57 PM on Saturday, July 30th, 2022

Lonelypilgrim (LP),
Welcome to SI. I recommend a few Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass. this book goes into details on motivation and what are the thought processes of A's.
I too struggled with empathy. We are 7.5 years from DD and about to be married 25 years.
I'm an engineer and have little empathy, you can learn this. All these mental disorders, you can recognize mental patterns and begin the teach yourself. Unless you have a learning disability, this is doable.
I picked something relatable to a guy. As a narcissist, it is hard for empathy, but is there something else you are passionate about? Pick that, whether its cars or nice booze, bourbon, watches. This removes the interpersonal aspects, emotion, etc. The Something you value, materially. The pinnacle of something you've always craved. The best car, house boat. That's like a marriage, it a treasure or something to treasure. Anyway, take that item in your possession, appreciate it. Now destroy it, if its a car, wreck and it beyond repair. Set it on fire, cut it up for salvage metal. Throw it away.
that's what a WH does to their marriage when they pick someone else over their wife. This might help bypass the "feelings" aspect that a narcissist struggles with. The empathy might come from realization of something destroyed. Your BW's trust and hopes and sanctity of her marriage are gone. My BW made me apologize for something specific, not just saying I'm sorry over and over. It loses meaning. Pick something you did with AP; you might have taken AP to a restaurant that your wife liked. Apologize for specific action you did, and try to show these actions are a thing of the past.

I had to work VERY hard to regain my BW's trust, but I did. Nothing is more valuable than that to me.

Good luck Lonely pilgrim,

2tu

Me: WH 55 I lied to cover up my deceit.
Her: BW 40's at D-day [BlueIris]
M 22 years | 3 great kids

"A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. - Shakespeare

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 lonelypilgrim (original poster new member #79865) posted at 4:52 AM on Sunday, July 31st, 2022

Thank you both so much for your responses. I read Not Just Friends last year. I should read it again. I'm sure my perspectives and understanding have evolved over the past year and I can read it a second time and get even more out of it.

I've heard The Body Keeps The Score mentioned on a number of infidelity related podcasts that i've listened to. I think the book will give me a deeper understanding from the chemical/biological/physical aspects. Anything to help me understand what she is going through better will help me be more emotionally in tune with her and help me be more empathic.

ChamomileTea - I appreciate the view from the BS side. Thank you for sharing what you went through.

A big issue that comes up with us is how i could choose to hurt her so badly. How i knowingly did this to her. The reality is that i had no clue the damage would be like this. I did not enter into an A in order to hurt my W. I knew it would have that result if she found out, but i didn't do it for the purpose of hurting her. I compartmentalized consequences. Of the many lies i told myself was that it will never be found out. That it would end before that would happen and no one gets hurt. How ridiculous that is to look back and know i lived in such a delusion. Yes, i knew if it were to be found out that it would be severely damaging to the M. I did not think through what that actually meant. How she would actually feel. What she would actually do. What i would actually do.

It is incomprehensible to her that i could be that callous and reckless and that i could do this and not see through to the actual consequences. As a result, she does not feel safe in this relationship (emotionally safe). That is understandable. It is hard for me to try to explain that i didn't try to harm her. It's confusing bc to say that i am also having to try to explain the mental gymnastics a WH goes through to find a way to justify being in an A in the first place. Of course there is no actual justification. It's all built on lies...lies you tell yourself and lies you tell to others to keep it hidden.

I understand your point about the 2nd year in some ways being harder than the first. We are in the second year at this point. All those emotions you mention are present with her. My W is in the difficult situation of having to decide if she wants to or is even capable of staying with someone that had the capacity to do this. And it's not just the A, it's also her coming to terms with my behaviors in the M that long predate the A (selfishness, defensiveness, minimizing her emotional needs).

We need to keep talking. And then talk some more. I need to work on that balance of accepting the hard truths that must be accepted and speaking up to correct the record when her statements or views are not entirely accurate or are based on perceptions of me that don't reflect how i think. I've sat back for a long time and accepted everything that's been said even when it's been wrong or i disagreed. My fear is that if i never pause to correct the record or at least discuss things further to talk it through from both perspectives, then a new narrative is written and that becomes the new reality.

This is so hard. Thank you for listening/reading.

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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 4:50 PM on Sunday, July 31st, 2022

A big issue that comes up with us is how i could choose to hurt her so badly. How i knowingly did this to her. The reality is that i had no clue the damage would be like this. I did not enter into an A in order to hurt my W.

Some of that is just disbelief. It's so hard to think that our WS can look us in the face every day and not SEE us as real people. Think about it, you lied right to her face for nearly two years while you engaged in the worst kind of intimate betrayal, but now she's supposed to believe that she's a priority to you when you have demonstrated without the possibility of doubt that you are capable of looking at her but not SEEING her.

For what it's worth, I believe you. That's why I'm in R and have been for the last seven years. But this kind of disbelief is not suspended overnight. We have to come to the point where we really do allow the cheating to be 100% about the WS and NOT about us, and as you can see, there's good and bad in that necessary truth. On the one hand, nothing we ever said or did can cause another human being to throw away their core values and choose perfidy and lies. On the other, nothing that we ever say or do can stop them from doing it again. shocked

We aren't enough, being with us is not important enough to keep our partner from betrayal. That's one helluva blow to the ego and it sends the self-esteem reeling. Some can't come back from that because it requires us to disconnect our self-worth from our WS's appraisal and then still want to be with them. This can be an acceptable state of being for those of us who can get comfortable with a person whose opinion we an no longer rely upon for emotional validation, but not everyone is wired to accommodate that. Some things never come back after betrayal. That's just the bottom line.

I do think you're on the right track when you keep reminding her that it's not about her. It's about you. It's so important though that you find out WHAT went wrong inside you which allowed you to throw away your integrity the way you did. The flaw in character is typically somewhere in the gap between stated values (vows to be faithful) and actual deeds (breaks that vow). Somewhere inside, you had a "but..." in your values system. ie. "He believes in Fidelity, but... not if his wife will never find out." The "but..." is like some kind of out clause, an excuse, a disclaimer whereby you allow yourself to rationalize an action you've previously claimed was intolerable. It's not at all unusual that we don't really THINK about whether or not we mean the promises we make to people. We certainly mean them AT THE TIME, but it's not until those values are tested that we find out what we actually do believe, and we can tell what we truly do believe because we organically protect what we value by building boundaries around it. For some reason, you had a "but..." in your core value of Fidelity, and when it came time for that core value to be tested, you had no firm boundary encircling it.

It's so important that you identify WHY that happened. Your BW is searching for that answer, hence her occasional declarations that it must be oppositional defiance disorder, or that you're bipolar or autistic. To her mind, there's a reason why you were capable of saying an enthusiastic "yes!" to perfidy, and she's right, there is. Somewhere inside, there's a reason why you had that "but..." in your values system. How can you assure her that you have changed if you can't explain WHAT you have changed?

One great piece of advice you'll see from WS's is to keep going deeper in questioning "why". It's not enough to say, "I was selfish". That much is obvious. WHY were you selfish? Maybe you felt entitled. Maybe you felt like you needed the outside validation. Whatever the reason, there's another "why" to be asked and answered, and then another. You can't fix what's broken without digging that deep, and you're NOT guaranteed to like what you find. It's painfully humbling introspection, but without it, how can you make any REAL or lasting change?

My fear is that if i never pause to correct the record or at least discuss things further to talk it through from both perspectives, then a new narrative is written and that becomes the new reality.

I think it's actually a bit worse that that. A WS who is 'going along to get along' is still essentially dishonest. Yeah, it's bound to be scary to speak your truth when you're already teetering on the brink of marital disaster, but if you're not authentic, you're putting off a detectable whiff. The deer-in-the-headlights thing gets old really fast, and speaking as a BS, we might not like being confronted with argument from the person who stabbed us in the back and now claims they want more than anything to be with us, but even worse is the nothingburger of a person who will look us in the eye and then choose to withhold their truth. Authenticity is a bigger priority than comfort. HONESTY is the biggest priority of all.

Conflict avoiders end up harboring resentments and, as we've seen all too often, giving themselves permission to do horrible things. Conflict, however, is a relational imperative when it comes to resolving problems and it doesn't have to be a bad thing. When you reframe it, it's an opportunity to fix what's been broken.

There's a saying around here.. "you've got to be willing to lose the marriage in order to have a chance at saving it". It's important for you to BOTH be happy with the end result. You can't do that when you're not being 100% authentic. This is how emotional intimacy is built.

[This message edited by ChamomileTea at 4:56 PM, Sunday, July 31st]

BW: 2004(online EAs), 2014 (multiple PAs)Married 38 years; in R with fWH for 7

No one can make you into a liar but you.

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Hippo16 ( member #52440) posted at 6:36 PM on Sunday, July 31st, 2022

Definitely read

I've heard The Body Keeps The Score mentioned on a number of infidelity related podcasts that i've listened to. I think the book will give me a deeper understanding from the chemical/biological/physical aspects. Anything to help me understand what she is going through better will help me be more emotionally in tune with her and help me be more empathic.

Maybe twice. I am a betrayed and reading gave me some rational information on why I was feeling the way I was.

When you had your affair, you gave your wife a memory forever. She has to work on herself to accept that it happened to HER marriage and figure out how to live with it. There is a common quip: "It takes two to five years to heal/recover (or whatever)" - I don't agree - the betrayed figures out a way to continue life and regain some measure of happiness. But there will be triggers, activities, certain days or places or words that will trigger the memory. YOU have to learn to live with that and then also deal emphatically with helping your wife get through the intrusive thought.

Another thing, you gave her "ammo" for a divorce if she cannot find that happiness. You should have a plan should she decide being with you is worse than being without you.

I am wondering how her family has reacted and is treating you. I am wondering about children - you have? - you cheated on them too.

You can become that better person who will never cheat (again) - it is a personal boundary, a mindset, integrity. Convincing your wife you have become that person is your job. What is her opinion regarding that?

Regarding:

I don't want to feel hopeless and I don't want to give up. But I am struggling.


"Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway." Marion Morrison aka John Wayne
and part of a quote from Winston Churchill: Never, never, never give up.

Somewhere in your wife's mind, there is the image of you that enabled her to marry you. Somehow she has to reconcile that image with who you have shown yourself to be. She has a lot of work to do.

Don't give up!

Not Just Friends

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Bulcy ( member #74034) posted at 6:59 PM on Sunday, July 31st, 2022

I've struggled with real empathy for years as well as hiding from my feelings. I still do it to this day. I've spent a lifetime running from difficult situations. Only recently did I start to actually allow myself to feel things. This hurt, accepting myself as not being the "good guy" who made a couple of mistakes to being a serial adulterer who is guilty of so many other areas of infidelity and abuse was hard. I still see our attempts at R as me v BS. This is not true.

You're getting great advice from people on here. Advise I have received and have not truly listened to, until now. Doing this or not doing "it" has delayed R and hurt BS. It's hard to "get it" and then to "accept it". BS has show great anger, understandably so. I have struggled with not taking this personally (Wayward mindset), I hope that I can find the inner strength to be better. Better for BS, for the M and also better for me.

TALK TALK TALK. Let BS know your feelings as well as being there for her. Don't hide or run from yourself. Work on your whats and whys. I'm saying this on the back of not doing it. Keep working. There are people o here who have made it.

Good luck

WH (40's) Me. Emotional affair (2017), Physical affair (2003) and online affairs, Two physical affairs (2000). D-Day's 2003, August '17, multiple discoveries through 2018,19 and 20, Jan 21 and 2022

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 lonelypilgrim (original poster new member #79865) posted at 11:34 PM on Sunday, July 31st, 2022

I have said to my wife many times that healing and R happens on her timeline. That i am committed to her, our marriage and our family. I let her know I am here with her and here for her. And that i'm here with her and for her without regard to the final outcome. She holds the cards, if D or separation is what she ultimately feels is best for her, i have told her that I will accept that. I have to accept the consequences of the damage i have caused. I am not predicating my work on myself and my work to heal our relationship on her staying. I know that is still very much up in the air. I wrote earlier that i sometimes feel hopeless but it is simultaneously true i do not want to give up. My commitment remains strong.

Shortly after discovery, my W said she wanted a post-nup. She needed that to feel safer about staying as we try to figure things out. We worked that out amicably. So if we do D, there is a plan. All the terms are pre-negotiated. We built in fidelity provisions. There are written terms that significantly ramp up the division of assets if i were to be unfaithful again during our M. I readily agreed to those terms. I felt it was reasonable on her part to ask and i had no problem signing up for those steep (read: financially debilitating) terms. To me, agreeing to be faithful is not much to ask of someone. I failed in that once. I will not do it again. I don't want to be that person ever again. I threw away values before. I have reconnected with those values and will live by them. I am putting my money where my mouth is. Words don't matter much these days. It's all about actions. I felt that action was important and backed up my words about fidelity and commitment.

We do have 1 child. A college aged daughter. She is aware of what happened. Without getting into the full Jerry Springer show version of what happened, the AP actually reached out directly to my daughter as things were ending. If there is something worse than betraying your spouse, it would be reaching out to bring someone's kid directly into it. That is beyond deplorable and is categorically unforgivable (imo). I've worked hard to repair my relationship with my daughter. Losing her respect and letting her down through betrayal has been awful. I've opened up to her in so many ways. Authentically apologetic and also very honest about my role in our family issues over the years. We started slowly and have gotten to a good place. I know there is lasting trauma and some of that is probably still below the surface. I won't whitewash what i did. She and i being able to talk about these things now and into the future will be important. It won't be the centerpiece of our relationship, but it is something i will check in with her on from time to time.

In addition to betraying my wife and daughter, yes, i also betrayed her family. Her parents have been very good to me. I disrespected them and betrayed them too. They, along with most everyone else, have been shocked that i had an A. No one expected this of me. I haven't had much direct interaction with them since discovery. I did speak to my W's step father (de facto dad). Made a sincere and detailed apology. They were very hurt. The support their daughter and will respect her decision. If she opts to stay with me, they will accept that and they will welcome me. It won't be easy but they will do that and i believe them. It will be hard for me to face them going forward. It will be awkward at first and i will need to make sure i don't hide behind shame and embarrassment. Need to man up and face things as they are.

Now the real hard part, really digging on the "why". I've done some of this. However i do not believe i have done enough to create a feeling of safety for my W. She needs me to truly understand the "why" to demonstrate i understand myself enough to learn from the past and not repeat behavior in the future. I did a detailed trauma egg process with my IC. That was eye opening. It showed me where some of my vulnerabilities came from and how i developed poor responses and poor coping mechanisms. No big bang of a trauma. Rather it was a long history of situations of embarrassment and/or humiliation in many aspects of life over the course of my life. Both as a young kid through teen years and into college and adult life. I put up barriers to mask my feelings of inadequacy. That led to ego (ie overcompensation). That led to selfishness. That led to having a need to be right. That led to me avoiding conflict bc i didn't want to be wrong or admit fault. From there i can see where i did some gaslighting. These behaviors have had a significant negative impact on my wife. It wore her down over the years. It created distance in our relationship. And during all that time, i didn't see it. If an issue or problem came up, i'd be fine with it being batted away. I wasn't a good listener. I wasn't a good emotional support for my W.

I don't know if that really gets to why i thought it was ok to have an A. Yes, there was a sense of entitlement. I liked the feeling of being wanted. I liked the feeling of having something entirely to myself (by its very nature, the A isn't something you share with anyone else). I liked the escape it provided from daily stresses. None of this sounds good. None of this will make my W happy to hear. None of this makes any rational sense. I did it because i wanted to. I found comfort in those things (at least for a little while). They were masking the real problems that i wanted to avoid. I felt if my W and i went to marriage counseling and had to actual face our issues and talk about things, that it would be bad and probably end up in D. That's a very poor excuse. And it's probably a cognitive distortion...why would i think so little of my W that she would go for D bc i opened up to discussing our issues in MC. I made a choice to be unfaithful bc it soothed me and allowed me to avoid other difficult things.

With the help of some CBT work recently, I have learned to accept my dark shadows. Acknowledge them. Talk about them and the impact they have on me and those close to me. Nothing good comes from hiding. I am working to be more open. I want to be seen as authentic. I feel i am acting that way now. I realize i wasn't in the past. I want my actions and behaviors to demonstrate authenticity and to reflect my sense of values.

To demonstrate lasting change i feel i need to be comfortable in me. In who i am. I'm not the smartest guy. I'm not the best looking guy. I'm not the wealthiest guy. i don't have a big time or fancy job. In the past i let my feelings of inadequacy rule my behavior. My work on myself is to enjoy who i am. To be proud of the things i have accomplished. To relish in the things i have overcome to get to where i am today. I will now always have the stain and shame of infidelity. That makes my story harder and more complicated. But i am working to rise above those negative traits and learn to enjoy me for me.

Then, hopefully, the dominos can start to fall in place. I can be more open, more emotionally atuned, i can be a better husband and father and i can show up for my W in all the best ways and provide her the safety and comfort she deserves.

I am sure i can go even deeper on the "why's" over time, but this is a start.

This forum has been invaluable to me. Your advice and straight talk is so very much appreciated. Thank you, thank you! It has given my a chance to think out load and write some things i've thought but haven't always articulated. Thanks for providing a safe space for this.

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DailyGratitude ( member #79494) posted at 1:05 AM on Monday, August 1st, 2022

LP
I commend you for your efforts
You seem to be doing all the right things
Your heart is in the right place and I sense genuine remorse from you

I hope you and your wife can work things out and have a healthy and happy marriage for many years to come
I also hope your relationship with your daughter will be fully restored
I am rooting for you!

Me: BW mid 50’sHim: WH late 50’sMarrried 25 yearsDday: EA 2002 PA 9/2021Divorce 10/2021 (per wh’s request) WH left to be with AP

posts: 308   ·   registered: Oct. 17th, 2021   ·   location: Connecticut
id 8747853
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humantrampoline ( member #61458) posted at 7:05 PM on Monday, August 1st, 2022

A big issue that comes up with us is how i could choose to hurt her so badly. How i knowingly did this to her. The reality is that i had no clue the damage would be like this. I did not enter into an A in order to hurt my W. I knew it would have that result if she found out, but i didn't do it for the purpose of hurting her.

It is incomprehensible to her that i could be that callous and reckless and that i could do this and not see through to the actual consequences. As a result, she does not feel safe in this relationship (emotionally safe).

As a BS, I definitely felt this way. I don't think it was disbelief. There is a series of logical thoughts that I tried to process. The uncomfortable conclusion for any of the those thoughts was that perhaps my WH was not a suitable or safe (emotionally AND physically) partner or father.

One of the first thoughts is that not purposely hurting a person is not a suitable excuse. Any person who has empathy would understand that. As a child of maybe 13, my brothers and I were playing ball in the house and broke my mother's vase. It was one of the few times I'd seen her cry. It turns out the vase was an important handmade sentimental gift from her college roommate. I didn't mean to break it. My mother was just as hurt. Clearly I didn't respect her possessions and feelings enough to follow her requests about playing ball in the house. I was more careful in the future because I cared about my mother's feelings. So maybe you didn't intentionally harm, but you didn't care enough to avoid harming your wife and daughter. When something is special and precious to us, we tend to treat it that way.

The next thought is wondering if my WH was capable of thinking through his actions and seeing the consequences that they might have on him and on me and his children. Well, that's not a comfortable thought either. I started to think of the many careless and reckless things he'd done. Was he capable of understanding risk? Did he think he was invincible? Really. I asked myself if we were safe staying with a person who was reckless or maybe just not that smart.

the AP actually reached out directly to my daughter as things were ending. If there is something worse than betraying your spouse, it would be reaching out to bring someone's kid directly into it. That is beyond deplorable and is categorically unforgivable (imo).

Honestly, if this had happened to me, this would probably still keep me up nights contemplating my future. I'm not sure I would be able to reconcile. I agree that this is deplorable, but as a BS I would put the blame for this on my WS. The WS chose a person who would do this to their child. Are they such a poor judge of character that my children and I are physically at risk staying with them? Who or what are they going to bring into our lives next? That crazy AP will be out there for who-knows-how-long. If your wife leaves, she might be safer.

It's been nearly 6 years for me, and my WS and I are mostly happy and reconciled. As recently as last year, I was still contemplating whether my WH had changed enough to be a safe partner. These are a few of the changes I needed to see in my WH.

1) He had to show that we mattered to him by being careful with our safety and our feelings.

Maybe it sounds strange, but I expected him to never use, "Sorry. It was an accident." as an excuse for even the smallest things anymore. If he spilled salsa on the sofa, I expected him to get up right away and take care of it. He doesn't care about stains on the upholstery, but I do. I needed him to show accountability and that he cares if I care.

If he takes the children skiing/snowboarding and I don't go, I need to see that they are all wearing helmets. He needed to stop childish behavior like brake checking or not letting someone pass in traffic because our safety means more than his anger or inconvenience.

2) My WH had to show that we were his inner circle in the circle of intimacy. He couldn't inconvenience us so his siblings/parents/friends were accommodated. He needed to also tell them that he didn't want to do x, not that I wouldn't allow him to do x.

3) He needed to show he could evaluate risk and make sound decisions, and that he could judge character and keep people of low character away from his family and out of his life.

All these things took time and practice and consistency. I should also point out that my WH has always been a bigger risk taker than me. We owned businesses together. I have benefitted financially from his tendency to take risk and his drive. He has benefitted from my risk management and thoroughness with details. It made us successful financially. I appreciate that. However, I won't be the gatekeeper and only person looking out for this family anymore. It's exhausting emotionally to feel that you are the only person guarding your family. My WH was also diagnosed with ADHD and now takes medication. It's helped tremendously. That's a controversial topic to some here.

One other thing I think I should add is that I had to acknowledge the real possibility that we were no longer compatible. Maybe WH didn't want to be less risky/careless/selfish or more thoughtful of his family. Maybe he liked living live the way that he did. I just came to the conclusion that I wouldn't ever be comfortable if he didn't change. I don't discount that in the future WH may decide that he wants to live differently. We will divorce. I'll be sad. I won't blame him if he's honest about it. We'll all be ok.

[This message edited by humantrampoline at 9:19 PM, Monday, August 1st]

posts: 554   ·   registered: Nov. 17th, 2017
id 8747919
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Breachoftrust ( member #66252) posted at 5:37 PM on Saturday, August 6th, 2022

I am the BS. We are 4 years out, however, he only admitted the physical affair in April. For 4 years he has looked me in the face and promised he had told me everything. Not really sure we will come back from this. From my point of view he literally watched me falling apart and thought only of himself. I feel as though I am finally seeing the real him. I'm just so very sad.
I'm glad you told your wife everything right away. The trickle truth is deadly. Keep talking, it's the only way you will get answers. I have stopped talking. I don't think he's noticed. sad

Married 19 years, together 24. 3 children. DD1 2/21/18. DD2 6/7/18 EA. BS 49, WH 50.
DD3 3/30/22 PA

Actions prove who someone is; words prove who someone wants to be.

posts: 64   ·   registered: Sep. 21st, 2018
id 8748539
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