I still want to know who I'm married to. His answer to "why" might not be accurate, might not be a clinical answer to the questions I have, and definitely won't change the outcome of our marriage. But it's necessary for me to move forward in my life. It's necessary FOR ME, and I need to be important in some part of this equation.
You WILL find that you don’t NEED this eventually (but that you do indeed really WANT it) – I think what people are telling you is that this is another disappointment you will likely have to swallow – that you may never get any clarity on this issue. Like zero.
Respectfully, why are you telling me that what I need isn't important that I should judge my needs based on whether my cheating husband "deserves it"? Where am I in this equation? Why is it all about him?
This is the part of the controlling the outcome paradigm that was soooooo hard for me to come to terms with. Again, I don’t think anyone is telling you what you need isn’t important.
The problem is that you can't rely on him to give it to you.
I think the general consensus is trying to gently tell you that you likely aren’t going to get this – in any way that is even remotely acceptable to you – so unless you adjust your reality from need to want, waiting for this to happen is likely going to dampen and slow down YOUR recovery. This is WAY easier said than done. But this really is all about you now – the comments are about you accepting (again that whole acceptance thing) that your WS, if he is like most of them that perpetrate these long term betrayals (as opposed to the got drunk one night stand guy), is NOT going to give you anything but tiny scraps of information about the real him and the real "you" as a couple.
Someone said to me years ago on this site that I was waiting for my WH to open the door into his soul to let me walk inside so I can understand what the hell happened to my life - but that is never going to happen – at best the window will open for a second and he may say something that reveals the true him for a moment, but you likely won’t be sure and you sure as hell won’t be satisfied. You cannot ever understand the level of dysfunction that allows a human being to do this to another because it is not you.
It took awhile, but I had to get to the place where I could accept that I will never know so much about a person that I spent 34 years with.
I think this is why I can never find the love again with my WH – because even though he has made huge strides (for him) and really has tried to figure out his shit, there are oodles of issues he just hasn’t addressed and he cannot answer to my liking, likely ever, and at this point I don’t care to wait and see. His upbringing was abusive and uncaring IMO and sold to him like it was normal (he and his brother were treated like employees from the day they were in school, beaten when they disobeyed, and paid a "salary" for working on the family farm to which they paid back to their parents for "room and board" and I didn’t know this until recently - love wasn't really happening that house - they were employees) – and he believes some of it was actually normal and will even defend it to this day because he is protecting his f-ed up parents. He still gets defensive about things and admits that he still doesn’t understand why he did what he did to me, to us, on a certain level. His answers are pathetic to me in some ways and very saddening to me in others as I think for all his trying he just doesn’t get it – doesn’t get himself – and doesn’t get what real empathy feels like, and he knows it – he knows he’s broken in some way – that he’s not "normal" and it’s difficult for him to grasp.
But what all that means for me, and what I think others are trying to tell you, is that you do not NEED this information from him – you may want it, but you are strong enough that you will find you don’t need it in order to move on.
As to this:
This is where things stand right now. I dug myself into a hole by telling WH that I only wanted to know 'why' on the first day I confronted him. He's latched onto that and throws it in my face every single time we talk.
My response would be: I’m sorry that you don’t grasp how much emotional turmoil I am experiencing, and if you want to hold me to something I said on DAY 1 then go ahead. I have decided I need more/different/____ from you. That is just how it is. If you can’t understand that I have now decided in the face of 20+ years of lies that I need more from you then it is clear you don’t understand how what you have done would affect me and have no interest in helping me or us. I have changed my mind, and I likely will again. If you are interested in trying to salvage anything here then I suggest you get used to that fact and act accordingly instead of trying to continually control the narrative.
As to this:
But in the process of making this confession he said he felt like he was born non monogamous and even used the phrase "coming out" as if being non monogamous were a sexuality or identity.
My response would be "Thank you for telling me that. I am monogamous and you know that. That means we have no where to go from here but on different paths. The fact that you withheld this from me will be something I have process. The fact that you withheld this from me is something you should address with yourself. We have nothing else to discuss but separation now."
Truer words have never been spoken:
Please know that if he is like this, you are now his adversary—an adversary that he firmly believes he is superior to and can outmaneuver, manipulate and ultimately beat at this game.
I have no doubt your WS sees you this way - and his posts on those message boards solidifies it - but it too is a common theme. My WH fully admitted this sometime last year – that during the A, and even after I caught him and d-day 1 he thought he was smarter than me and that I got lucky in catching him the first time – and that he saw me as a problem/an annoyance/and that I was so easy to fool that there was no point in hurting my feelings as he would never be caught. I was, in his words, "a relationship cop" that he had to avoid dealing with. Wonderful to know someone you have been in an intimate relationship with for close to 20 years sees you as akin to the police, but there you have it. My WH doesn’t see it this way anymore – but I think that is because his whole world crashed with the disclosure of this A (to everyone aside from his parents – as they are so dysfunctional I don’t think them knowing would make a lick of difference) and he was forced to deal with his issues or be a pariah. There was not a single person in his life aside from the AP and his unwitting parents who were willing to deal with him after the reveal - no one. He had to change for him - he certainly was not going to do it for me. IDK what, if anything, will click in your WH's brain to want to address his issues - maybe nothing.
Interesting you say this:
When WH said that I probe too deeply into his psyche it's an issue we've come up against before. When he has my attention he has my full attention. I focus on him, I listen, I remember small things he says and bring them up later 'hey how did those new tires work out on your bike?' and things like that. I also notice changes in his energy and can tell when he's about 20 minutes from being hungry because his body language slows down and I can just feel in the air between us that his energy has flagged and I'll hand him something to eat or drink or suggest getting food if we're out. WH loves all of this. He says it's like I can read his mind, but really it's just that I pay attention to him.
My WH HATED that – but I know why – because it’s harder to lie to someone who is paying attention to everything. Your WH now knows it would be 1000 times harder to lie to you going forward if you remained married (but trust me, he’s thinking about how to manipulate that already as he I’m sure truly believes you will stay).
That's very interesting about him withdrawing into himself. From your husband's ability to so callously deceive you and then his blase attitude about how you must feel about it, I suspect he doesn't feel normal human empathy. Do you think those moments when he was withdrawing into himself, he was play-acting a person showing normal concern?
I agree re the lack of empathy - that seems to also be part and parcel of the long term cheaters handbook. My WH has admitted he has difficult with empathy and if I were to ask him the questions above today I think he would agree. The withdrawal is also something my WH did. He would also add that the withdrawing into himself was also his way of ignoring things and protecting himself - dissociating is something he has been doing since he was a kid apparently – sometimes he would withdraw and then would not even remember what was said. At one point about 2 weeks after d-day1 I was screaming and yelling and freaking out and he FELL ASLEEP. Not kidding – the ultimate "I don’t give a shit about you" slap in the face if there ever was one. He now admits that when things were bad at home as a kid he would retreat in his own head, and tune out what was being said, and the beatings, and he would just "drift off" – as a defense mechanism - falling asleep was his version of "flight." All of these behaviors are combinations of things - strategies of defense and offense... with the desired outcome of manipulation and control - withdraw and stonewall is defense and control - hyper-focusing on one thing and ignoring everything else is offense and manipulation. None of it is real.
I can tell you this - when real happens, if it ever does - you will know it just like you know everything you are getting now is not real - it's just strategy for controlling the outcome. Strategy for controlling you. As little focus on him as possible - just enough crumbs (e.g. I'm not really monogamous...like really? Do you think that is not obvious at this point?!?!) to keep you hooked - to keep you thinking you will get more. And then one day (and if he follows the "handbook" it won't be long) you will get nothing, and be told you need to "get over it" or you are the problem because you can't "let it go" and want to keep "punishing him" instead of "getting on with your lives" or you seem to want to be "stuck in misery" and "never want to be happy again because you can't stop focusing on the past." Again, I would point to my response re monogamy above - you aren't into sharing so this isn't going to work. Period.
He’s an adrenaline junkie. It’s the highs that he gets. That’s why all the secrecy because every time he’s lied to you and pulled something over on you he gets high as a kite. It’s the phone calls, and the texts and the prostitutes and whoever else he’s had sex with all these years is just adrenaline flooding his system. I’m being sarcastic here but he might do just as well going on roller coasters every weekend. I don’t think you need to go deep you just need to understand that he has controlled you completely the entire time you’ve been with him.
I would bet this is also part of it for your WH - I mean he's basically bragging about it to his online cheating buddies. ***(As an aside, I wonder if he has admitted he was caught to any of them? It would ruin his uncatchable persona***) My WH also said the adrenaline was a huge part of the A for him – his A was with a co-worker and her husband (who was one of my WH’s best friends) also worked with them and the A went on largely in the workplace often right under the nose of her husband/the OBS and that it was such a huge game – the mouthing "I love you" as they passed each other in a hallway, to the quick make out in some unused room, to the sexting each other while sitting in a break room with other co-workers and sometimes the OBS – all of it was for the high.
I could go on and on - you are on the right track but to me/for me the "getting to why" was the biggest stumbling block, in a veritable minefield of stumbling blocks, for me. Accepting that I would never know - and that my WH likely didn't even really KNOW himself to be able to even answer my questions in a way that was acceptable to me took awhile. The reality was when at some point in response to my asking how he could do this to me, my WH blurted out "because I'm a numb, fucked up asshole" he was probably being honest. He didn't know why aside from that is just how he is, and until that point it had pretty much worked out for him.
You will get there - it won't always be pretty or graceful - you will make decisions you later regret and you will do and say things you which you hadn't, and you will likely not take the perfect course of action - but you will get beyond this. I can tell.
[This message edited by ThisIsSoLonely at 9:35 PM, Wednesday, September 21st]