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Wayward Side :
An e-mail

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 Bulcy (original poster member #74034) posted at 10:24 PM on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022

Hi guys,

I wanted to share my last few days. I have taken steps backwards and acted defensively and with anger. On Monday I contacted the agency who I worked with to get my new job. My contact was female. She had previously spoken to me about working from home while looking after children. I have been expecting some paperwork from the new company which has yet to come through. I thought I would send an e-mail to chase up on it and find out the cause for the delay. My e-mail was:

Hi XXXX,

Hope you had a great weekend. Planning anything for Halloween tonight?

Still nothing from XYX Ltd?

Thanks

My BS has access to my e-mail and she saw this and was very upset. When she messaged me and told me that this was a no no, I immediately got defensive. "This was an entirely innocent e-mail" "I was asking because she had spoken about her kids before" "She is friendly to me, why can't I ask her about Halloween?" I defended the mail when I got home. I had accepted it looked bad, but not that it was in any way wayward behaviour. We argued about this and I called BS insane and stormed out (having packed clothes) I gave up, I thought that if I'm going to be picked up on something that small then we've got no chance of moving forwards in any capacity. I was so angry. I did return home but was still not getting it. BS questioned if I would have asked the same question to a male. I said maybe... The BIG difference is that I've never spoken to any of the male employees of the agency about anything else other than jobs. I've been talking with this woman on a friendly basis. She talks nicely to me and I do the same to her... WOW what a red flag I chose to ignore. This is how my online affairs and my emotional affair started.

I've worked on keeping my work e-mails professional, but totally ignored my personal mails. I seem to have this deep rooted need to be liked. Why do I need to know anything about this persons personal life? I don't!

I've been in a bit of a daze these last few days. How could I choose to do this? How could I not link this to my previous activity? How could I justify this in the way I did? Why get angry and give up? It seems I'm still in a wayward mindset, a lot deeper than I had appreciated.

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

posts: 245   ·   registered: Mar. 12th, 2020   ·   location: UK
id 8763322
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ff4152 ( member #55404) posted at 11:19 PM on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022

Quite simple really. Look at the email from your wife’s perspective. Suppose she was the one who had an affair and then sent that kind of email. You can’t honestly say that you wouldn’t have had a problem with it.

This is worth repeating and I hope it sinks in. Start putting yourself in your wife’s shoes. Think about how you would get if the roles are reversed. Until you start developing real empathy for her, these kinds of things will keep on happening.

Me -FWS

posts: 1984   ·   registered: Sep. 30th, 2016
id 8763328
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WontBeFooledAgai ( member #72671) posted at 11:31 PM on Thursday, November 3rd, 2022

No Stop-Sign.

I'm sorry to say this so bluntly Bulcy, but YES you messed up. Big time. In BOTH your email and your reaction to your wife. It probably would be an overstepping of a boundary even if there were no affairs in your past, but given your history, the email itself was an egregious screw-up on your part.

You say you make (at least) small talk with female contacts, but not with male contacts. Hmmm. Why is that you chat with your female contacts but not your male contacts.

Anyways YES you owe your wife an apology. Bow low and deep.

ETA: I now see you are **already** beating yourself up. From now on, use the fact that your mind will follow your actions, just as much as the other way around. And so meanwhile to this end, moving forward in your (professional) communications with women, stick JUST to work. Simply discuss ONLY the matter at hand. No asking about Halloween costumes or plans for Thanksgiving or Christmas or anything of that sort. If you are asked give no more than a brief answer and then get right back to business. You may not be able to quickly get to the bottom as to why you've craved validation so much, but you CAN proofread your emails before hitting "send", for example. You can also make it a point to keep the conversation on work and away from any "friendly" topics, and to keep them as brief as possible. Eventually these will become ingrained habits.

If you were able to go back and time and you had to write again your email knowing what you know now, what would you say.

[This message edited by WontBeFooledAgai at 12:36 AM, Friday, November 4th]

posts: 428   ·   registered: Jan. 26th, 2020
id 8763496
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 Bulcy (original poster member #74034) posted at 1:56 PM on Friday, November 4th, 2022

Quite simple really. Look at the email from your wife’s perspective. Suppose she was the one who had an affair and then sent that kind of email. You can’t honestly say that you wouldn’t have had a problem with it.

You're right. Interestingly, it is something I try and do with work e-mails. I will now being doing the same with every personal one.

Start putting yourself in your wife’s shoes.

Something I was told in IC was to "Live your wifes reality" I need to both think before I do anything and if called out, see it from her angle, don't get defensive.

I'm sorry to say this so bluntly Bulcy, but YES you messed up. Big time. In BOTH your email and your reaction to your wife. It probably would be an overstepping of a boundary even if there were no affairs in your past, but given your history, the email itself was an egregious screw-up on your part.

You say you make (at least) small talk with female contacts, but not with male contacts. Hmmm. Why is that you chat with your female contacts but not your male contacts.

Anyways YES you owe your wife an apology. Bow low and deep.

Agreed. I'm upset with myself that it took nearly 48 hours to see this.

If you were able to go back and time and you had to write again your email knowing what you know now, what would you say.



Hi XXXXX,

Could you please update me on the latest from XYZ Ltd on the contract they were supposed to be forwarding?

Thanks in advance

Bulcy

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

posts: 245   ·   registered: Mar. 12th, 2020   ·   location: UK
id 8763572
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Bor9455 ( member #72628) posted at 8:08 PM on Friday, November 4th, 2022

I find myself a touch conflicted on this one, because it is important that there are boundaries, but asking someone about their holiday plans, especially in this context, I feel that this is overblown.

Last week, I took off from work early and as a family we took our son for his 12th birthday over to Tampa for the Thursday Night Football game, as we are Baltimore Ravens fans and they were playing the Buccaneers that night. My finance colleague needed to talk with me as a follow up to a meeting we had earlier in the day. In the commotion of my wife and son showing up to the office, changing from my dress clothes to my game clothes and getting in the car, I forgot to give her a call. So here I am driving down the road and she calls me up on MS Teams. I answer the call over the car speakers. Part of where I've gotten in my career is due to my high Emotional Intelligence and ability to connect and read people. I know that my colleague has two younger kids, as the oldest just started kindergarten this fall. We talked a bit about our kids and in fact she even mentioned how excited the daughter was to be going as XYZ for Halloween and I mentioned us going to the game, etc. It was and is harmless. We transitioned over to the work topic of the budget and we closed the call. We exchanged emails after the call. When I replied on Friday afternoon while my wife was driving, she asked me how the game went and if we had a good time. It was a nothing interaction, a somewhat normal occurrence, but not memorable in any way. In fact until I read this I had forgotten about it. I suppose one of the key differences is that this is pretty normal for me in that one of the things I do in my job is connect with all my colleagues because that is what successful executive leaders do to move large organizations forward. So while I can understand that this caused a ripple in your life, I think the answer about whether you really screwed up is far more complicated and nuanced than it may seem at first blush. Certainly one of the contextual pieces that matters is how recent the trauma is for your BS and I could see that tipping the scales in one direction there.

Myself - BH & WH - 35 years (05/24/1985)Her - BW & WW - 34 years (05/25/1986)<P>D-Day for WW's EA - October 2017D-Day no it turned PA - February 01, 2020

posts: 268   ·   registered: Jan. 21st, 2020   ·   location: Miami
id 8763685
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WontBeFooledAgai ( member #72671) posted at 9:08 PM on Friday, November 4th, 2022

Well, yes, married coworkers of the opposite gender safely make small-talk and even safely become friendly with each other all the time. But here, events unfortunately demonstrate that the OP doing ANY of this, is NOT safe for his family. (This would be true for anyone who cheated and needs to do the work, I'm not trying to single out or bash the OP or anyone personally.) Especially since OP acknowledged himself that he does not talk to his male colleagues about anything besides work. So OP's wife is entirely justified in being angry with OP's email. In light of what has happened before, he carelessly put his family at risk.

Another way of putting this....Bars are safe places for many people. I'm sure there are a lot of deals that were hammered out over a good beer. Even for a lot of people who had decided alcohol is not for them--if someone decided not to imbibe anything alcoholic for say, health reasons, there are NA brews and other options. If someone is a recovering alcoholic though, then they probably need to stay the hell away from those places. It is just not safe for them to be in there. It may never end up being safe for them. That is what we have here....

[This message edited by WontBeFooledAgai at 4:56 PM, Sunday, November 6th]

posts: 428   ·   registered: Jan. 26th, 2020
id 8763697
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 Bulcy (original poster member #74034) posted at 6:04 PM on Saturday, November 5th, 2022

I am unsafe when it comes to communication with women, both in the workplace and outside. BS and have agreed several boundaries including when it comes to e-mails, given the large number exchanged with a former AP. I broke this boundary by sending that mail. As wontbefooled says, a bar is a safe place for most people, just like e-mailing a female would be safe for most men…I’m not most men and stepping back into my past behaviour as I did on Monday, is unacceptable and unsafe.

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

posts: 245   ·   registered: Mar. 12th, 2020   ·   location: UK
id 8763812
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Bor9455 ( member #72628) posted at 3:32 PM on Monday, November 7th, 2022

I am unsafe when it comes to communication with women, both in the workplace and outside. BS and have agreed several boundaries including when it comes to e-mails, given the large number exchanged with a former AP. I broke this boundary by sending that mail. As wontbefooled says, a bar is a safe place for most people, just like e-mailing a female would be safe for most men…I’m not most men and stepping back into my past behaviour as I did on Monday, is unacceptable and unsafe.

I hear you and I understand. Just a different perspective on it is all. If you've ever read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" one of the key takeaways, which seems like such common sense to me now, it that we all depend on one another and we need to be able to get something from another person, whether it be business or personal. I focus mostly on the business, because that is there I use these techniques a lot. If you are trying to get someone to help you, it is a lot easier to get them to accept a framing of they are helping you because they are good at what they do and they are helping you is altruistic and good natured. That is all well and good, but first, sometimes you have to get past people's defenses before you can even get to that getting their help section. Here is a reality, not good or bad, but just reality, humans over all are self-centered and somewhat selfish creatures. Again, not a value judgment more than a statement of fact. Arguably, the cheater is more selfish than others and one could argue selfishness is on a spectrum. Different discussion for a different day, but most often, a good technique or strategy to get someone to loosen up a bit is to get them talking about themselves. For parents, get them talking about their kids and sometimes the most quiet, reserved people, don't stop blabbing. My boss, who has been my mentor for the last 5 years and I were talking about a colleague who just had a terrible fall in their house and is in a wheelchair doing rehab and they live all alone now their their daughter is in graduate school. It came up in the conversation because this colleague was unable to complete something, understandably because the deadline came during one of the days that she was in the hospital post accident. What he said to me was, "I've worked with that woman for 6 years and I didn't know she had any children let alone one old enough to be in graduate school." I swear that I've known this woman had a college aged daughter since I first met her. It is one of those small talk things that came up at some point. It is entirely useless information in a work context in the sense that it has no relevance to our business, but it helps me to understand my colleague and what drives her, motivates her and how the message with use when we try to get her help on something is different than say her boss, who went to school at one my school's university rivals and so this time a year, every call with him usually starts with a chat about the recent college football games.


It is important that you have boundaries and enforce them for yourself and for your BW to see that you are doing so. My point is that small talk or even some surface level personal discussions are themselves not harmful, but rather the boundaries or intentions. I don't speak to my work colleagues about their personal lives at times to pry, in fact, the trick is that most times, they are the ones who blab about their personal lives because we like to hear ourselves talk (oh the irony of me posting this on a message board). I suppose this sounds a little manipulative and gross to a degree, as I'm talking about how we can get people to do what we want/need, but it comes back to our human desire to be connected and included in the "in group" so that can be leveraged to a degree to get things done in the workplace or personal life.

Myself - BH & WH - 35 years (05/24/1985)Her - BW & WW - 34 years (05/25/1986)<P>D-Day for WW's EA - October 2017D-Day no it turned PA - February 01, 2020

posts: 268   ·   registered: Jan. 21st, 2020   ·   location: Miami
id 8764085
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DaddyDom ( member #56960) posted at 7:14 PM on Monday, November 7th, 2022

These are my thoughts on what you've said.

Regarding the email itself, it seems like a matter of perspective. In a relationship that has never been touched by infidelity, I see no problem with this email. Things such as job interviews have social elements. Employers hire people both in terms of skills/experience and also by how much they are seen as "a good fit" for the company and the team. Small talk and conversation are part of this process. It being Halloween, there were similar conversations between co-workers at my workplace. (Do you typically get a lot of trick-or-treators? What did your kids dress as? Do you have a curfew in your area?) I've actually learned to "lead" conversations with a quick comment about my wife or kids when speaking to new people, especially women, because I feel like it sends a message and sets a soft boundary from the get-go.

That having been said however, the "real answer" in my mind is simply that your email is not the issue here. The issue is the effect it had on your wife. This was by far one of the more difficult things for me to get through my thick, wayward skull. Once I got it however, it stuck. Look, if an apple falls out of a tree and bonks you in the head, it is useless to blame the tree. The tree had no ill intentions. But in reality, that doesn't matter. Your head still hurts. The apple still came from the tree. If the apple cracked your skull, then you may still have a lifetime of healing or a TBI. Regardless of blame or intentions, the damage was still done. That's what happened with your email as well. Intentions be damned, damage was done.

Your wife has been hurt, lied to, and betrayed... so many times. For so many years. I imagine at this point it would be triggery for her to see you interact with another woman in any way at all. There could be a shampoo commercial on TV, and she might wonder why you chose to look at the TV at the exact moment? Why did you tip the waitress so well? Why did the lady walking her dog wave on the way past you? I've read many, many posts by BS's who say that this type of "constant vigilance" is what drives them crazy. What WS's don't realize is that this is typically "all day, every day" especially for BS's in their first few years after discovery. It's why they say their WS's "don't get it", because the WS has no idea how tortured the BS is, regardless if they voice those thoughts or not.

You can't really avoid triggers 100%, no one can. But what tends to help the most is to see the WS make the effort, and when effort fails, to see understanding and empathy. What she needed to hear from you was that you understand why she was upset and that she has every reason to think that way, and that you are also upset, not only about what you wrote, but moreover, for not accurately anticipating how it would make her feel, and the fact that she has to feel that way at all in the first place. She needed to hear that you were sorry for putting her into this position in the first place (owning it) and showing some understanding of how deeply unfair and painful this is to her. Not just now, but in the past as well.

This incident is part of the learning process. Rather than beat yourself up over it, use it to learn from. Go over how you think you "should have" handled it, and do your best to make plans or create tools to prevent it in the future.

One last thing. "Fair" is fuzzy word. A lot of WS's think about what's "fair" to them, and to their spouses. Is it fair that you have to watch every little word when speaking to a female co-worker? No, it's not. Was it fair that you cheated on your wife? No, it wasn't. She's stuck dealing her unfair experience, and the best way you can help support her is to also share the burden and accept that some things in your life will be less fair than for someone in a stable marriage. It's the price we must pay. The good news is, two people dealing with that sense of unfairness together, can help bring them together sometimes. It becomes less of "my story and your story" and is instead "Our story, this is what WE survived".

If you have empathy, then you never need to get defensive.

Me: WS
BS: ISurvivedSoFar
D-Day Nov '16
Status: Reconciling
"I am floored by the amount of grace and love she has shown me in choosing to stay and fight for our marriage. I took everything from her, and yet she chose to forgive me."

posts: 1321   ·   registered: Jan. 18th, 2017
id 8764125
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 Bulcy (original poster member #74034) posted at 4:39 PM on Tuesday, November 8th, 2022

Thanks DD, wise words as always. What I'm going to do this evening is a technique I learnt called "sweep to keep". In this, you analyse any situation and think about your thoughts, feelings, actions and reaction and then think how this could have been avoided or handled better. Hopefully, doing this exercise will reinforce what you are all telling me.

Bor9455,

I get what you're saying, but I don't feel I'm yet in a place where I can use that logic. For me, right now, I think I would or could use this as a justification or a way to minimise my actions. While I continue to be a Wayward, working on my personal recovery I need to follow boundaries to the letter so that I am always aware of risk.

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

posts: 245   ·   registered: Mar. 12th, 2020   ·   location: UK
id 8764206
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TheRedQueen ( new member #57851) posted at 11:08 PM on Tuesday, November 8th, 2022

I’m glad you got it eventually Bulcy, so many great replies here that explain it clearly from both perspectives I think! Especially DaddyDom who paints the exact picture from the other side.

My WH has the same issues, he does not just chat to women, it becomes an invitation to more, he simply cannot be trusted to speak or communicate the bare minimum ever, I wish he understood that was what he must do.

Except Bors, to you I say yes it can be an effective tool to use however the question whether to use it or not then becomes which is more important - your work or your wife? Clearly if you’re here for the right reasons the choice is more than obvious.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning how to dance in the rain."

Me - BW (40) Him - WH (42) 2 Teenagers, 1 Younger Child

D-Day Feb 2016 + .. Most recent D-Day Nov 2021

Still married, not feeling it.....

posts: 17   ·   registered: Mar. 15th, 2017   ·   location: Australia
id 8764241
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