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Talking and thinking about the affair

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scream posted 3/11/2013 17:21 PM

It's been a long time since I have been on SI. Things have been up and down as expected. But I believe more ups than downs. Still in IC, still on my meds. A new job I love. And more time with my family that I really love. Almost to the year mark and I know that it will get a lot tougher as it gets closer.

I guess i want to ask this to both WS and BS alike. Do you feel that talking about the affair or even thinking about the affair on a regular basis helps you to heal? I'm not asking because i want my wife to be done talking about it. I'm asking because i don't know how it helps her? Does that make any sense? I just confused. We have been really talking so much more these past few months about us, our future, our children. Just normal family things in general. And some tomes i think when we tlak about the affair it sets us back a bit. So I don't understand how it helps a BS heal? Any thoughts and advice are welcome. If it is something that has helped you to heal or to help you help your BS please tell me how.

jackie89 posted 3/11/2013 17:50 PM

To me as BS, now that the affair is out in the open, there were times, that something wasn't right - but just couldn't put my finger on it - uh bc I trusted.

So, when I ask questions - sometimes it's to ask what happened, or where were you, at that particular time. So that things now make sense.

Does that make sense?

Arais posted 3/11/2013 17:51 PM

BS here. Yes talking about it helps. The more that it is talked about the less sensitivity there is to the horror of it. My WH has been reluctant to talk about it and defensive when we do and we are now in a position where we are heading towards D. He believes we have to look to the future not the past but that is NOT his decision. Talking about it helps in many ways I think. It shows that there is openness. It shows that there are no secrets and that the WS is willing to be as patient as is necessary to assure healing. I take my WH reluctance to talk about the A as a sign that he has not changed from the conflict avoider that allowed him to have the A in the first place. He tells me constantly that he has changed and that the whole thing disgusts him but for me his talk is cheap. It is easy to say you have changed but when it comes to the action of listening to me talk or face my questions he folds. . This is not reassuring for a BS. I know it must be terrible to have to go over it over and over again but doesn't a BS have to live with that internal war all day everyday? By discussing it when the BS wants it proves that the WS is willing to share the pain. I can never predict when I am going to trigger or when I will need to ask a question so the setting time aside each day/ week never worked for me. When I do ask questions or bring it up I see his expression change to impatience at having to talk about it again and that has been more hurtful and damaging then the A. Talking about a trauma does help. I do agree that it may seem that it can set any progress in R back but this isn't true. If the WS is responsive and answer questions completely and sensitively the BS will eventually stop needing to ask them. When the questions are answered reluctantly it only plants seeds of doubt and resentment. So please don't underestimate how important it is for a BS to feel able to discuss the A and ask and have their questions answered.

Jrazz posted 3/11/2013 18:11 PM

I remember the thoughts about the A being like some kind of tornado in my brain during the first year. I also remember asking Crazz the same questions over and over for a long time. The more patient he was with me, the more I learned to let go of the panic and hear what he was saying.

I know you're trying to do the right thing, but I also hear a pleading in your post that someone agree with you that talking about the A needs to slow down or stop. It would be so much easier for Teach8 not to have to think about these things, let alone talk about them, but this is a common side effect of this betrayal.

This needs to happen in her timeframe. With compassion and support, it will slow. Asking her to stop talking about it is going to make her hurt, and THAT will set you back far more than her processing out loud.

forgivingnow posted 3/11/2013 18:28 PM

"Do you feel that talking about the affair or even thinking about the affair on a regular basis helps you to heal?"

Absolutely, yes. i can't help thinking about this on a regular basis, I have suffered a trauma. The pain lessens with time & honesty from the WS.

"If the WS is responsive and answer questions completely and sensitively the BS will eventually stop NEEDING to ask them."

My husband was defensive & lied(TT) for 7 months. Once he stopped being defensive and was honest, I began to heal. I try not to bring it up much now(@23 1/2 Months out) because I want to live in the present & he is very remorseful but if I have a ? or trigger, I ask him for support. Last night I was having a trigger, shaking, asked him again about boundaries. He was honest, loving, not defensive, answered my /'s, made sure I knew I was loved & he wanted us.

We don't bring it up to make you feel bad, we bring it up to help get thru it & heal and be with the one we love.

TXwifemom posted 3/11/2013 18:42 PM

Think of it as immersion therapy. It helps me process it. Eventually I hope my brain will tire of it.....

[This message edited by TXwifemom at 6:43 PM, March 11th (Monday)]

wifeno2 posted 3/11/2013 19:03 PM

As a BS I think about the A every day. Probably every hour. And every time I think about it I think I should probably D. I don't usually talk about it. I just work, save, plan.

The only times I reconsider are if we talk about the A constructively. If he can stop blame shifting and rug sweeping long enough and demonstrate some insight. And most importantly, show that he still thinks about it too. That he is aware of what happened and is actively trying to repair and prevent further damage. That is what gives me hope. That is why I'm still here. He probably thinks it is because he is more helpful around the house, but it isn't. It is those little talks that give me comfort, intimacy, hope. I'm sure he hates them. He will avoid them if possible. But the longer we go in between "talks" the closer I am to leaving.

scream posted 3/11/2013 19:32 PM

Thank you. It's not that we don't talk about it. I have heard somepeople say that it can be like picking at a scab. that if you keep going at it it doesn't heal. I just don't know what to think sometimes. I want her to heal in a way thats best for her. if talking about it does that than that is what we are going to do. I don't have a problem with that. I just hope it's not hurting her to the point that she can't heal. thank you all for your honesty. Any responses to this would be helpfull.

NoraLee posted 3/11/2013 19:45 PM

BS here - every single time we talk about the affair, I come away feeling better...lighter. Of course, the more I hear what a mistake it was - the more I can see his body language and facial expressions...the more affirmed I feel. Also - BS's will never forget the A - we lie in bed awake with the endless mind movies while WS snores up a storm - we think about it A LOT! So talking about the affair ensures there is no rug-sweeping and BS's can share the burden of the agony we go through near-constantly. And what happens when you continually pick at a scab? Eventually a scab stops forming and it's just a scar. Too - the more we talk about it - the easier it is to think of the A rationally - without overwhelming emotion, without anger. That's important - the knowledge of the A will never leave us - so its a goal that I be able to think about it without it crushing me.

VD2012 posted 3/11/2013 19:58 PM

We talk about the affair, what lead up to it (and this includes mental processes and FOO stuff - so a broad subject), the aftermath, and anything tangentially related to it almost every day.

Some days it's just a clarifying question about something she's explained a few dozen times already. Other days it's a conversation about the ramifications of her self-hatred. Other days it's a tear-drenched gut-wrenching discussion about our current feelings. Other days we share our thoughts on something we read here on SI. Then there's some days it's not even brought up at all.

Every question asked and answered, even if a repeat, furthers us to the goal of healing. Every conversation with an open and honest back and forth emotional connection brings us closer together. Every discussion brings us one insight closer to understanding and gives us the tools to build a better relationship and improve ourselves.

The horror of the affair has lessened a great deal. My wife made a concerted choice early on (though hard for her) to do everything she could and answer everything I asked for me to heal and recover from her betrayal. With this openness her shame has dissipated and she bares herself freely to me and has surrendered to the truth. In not avoiding the pain caused to me she's also been healing herself. It's hard I'm sure, but she too has benefited even if at times she didn't understand why I would ask questions repeatedly.

The affair is no longer a boogie man for us. It has been laid bare and dissected, discussed, analyzed and is in the open clear light. It wasn't a scab I picked at, it was a pursuit of the truth until it was fully enmeshed and ingrained into who I am.

It's almost just a casual thing to bring up when relevant now. At nearly 11 months out, that relevance isn't as imperative as it was early on but it's still a part of our lives. And that's the thing, it is a part of our life. Always will be. There is no getting over it, or through it, only absorbing it into what we are and moving forward with it as part of our relationship history.

standinghere posted 3/12/2013 05:17 AM

Yes, talking about it helps! Speaking for myself, it helps me to know that the past, and the lessons of the past, have not been forgotten...who wants to repeat that.

Particularly when the WS brings it up.

My wife almost never does, and she does repeat things (not affairs but things that have to do with her self esteem and those are the things that led to the affair).

Compartmentalizong it all away is a wrong turn in the road, that takes all of us back to the same path we don't want to travel again.

beforeandafter posted 3/12/2013 10:33 AM

Scream, it sounds like you and my WS are comparing notes! Talking about what has happened to us is not what hurts. The actions is what hurt. Part of being an adult is owning your own actions and the consequences thereof. The consequences of an A are dire, but if your BS is willing to crawl through that shit to R (think Shawshank Redemption), you need to be along for that ride--unpleasant though it may be. The same thought process that brought you "TT is protecting her" brings you to "Talking about the A hurts her."

Lovedyoumore posted 3/12/2013 13:19 PM

Yes it helps to talk it out. It helps me place each day, each activity, each action like a transparency over my life. Especially helpful when you are blindsided by the A, we all ask where was I? Getting the answers, the timeline, and any other bits of information help put the pieces in order for us at a time of complete disorder and confusion. It calms the storm in our brains.

As to the scab analogy, it works both ways. After a very brutal asphalt burn from a bike wreck, we had to press gauze into my daughters leg wound and rip it out every morning for weeks. That was agonizing for both of us, but in order for her to heal, it had to be done. It was so worth it because now her leg is perfectly healed and there is no scar at all. Not even a discoloration.

Maybe we do need regular, uncomfortable, controlled discussion for a long time. We are two years out and I still need those discussions. Sometimes I think a true R comes from keeping the discussion going to stay vigilant about our M. After time those discussions should eventually go from info gathering and hurtful to affirming and reassuring for both spouses.

OktoberMest posted 3/12/2013 14:23 PM

Yes it helps. Without a shadow of a doubt. The picking at a scab analogy is a good one....but as you remove the dead crust on the outside you realise it's not that that's stopping the healing. The scab will keep infection inside hidden away. Remove it and you can clean the necrotic dead stuff off and see the gradual healing happening from the inside out. The defect filling in from below with healthy tissue. That's which we put dressings on rather than let scabs form - its a more better way of wound healing.

(Well, what di you expect when there's a medic on the boards!! )

hurting7897 posted 3/12/2013 14:34 PM

Hello Scream,
As a BS, yes, it certainly helps to talk, talk, talk about it! I am a little over a year out from d-day #1 and the triggers are all over the place. For me and most BS, we CAN'T stop thinking about it and spend all our time trying to make sense of what our WS have done to us.

Thinking that my FWH doesn't think about it anymore fills me with rage on occasion. That now that we are working on R he's taking me for granted again and assuming I'm "over it." He shows me he's still remorseful and working on himself and putting himself in my shoes when he brings it up first. By tiptoeing around the topic, it makes me wonder if he's missing his OW's (there were 3).

When I can ask him a question for the 300th time and he can answer non-defensively, it brings us closer.

Hugs to you.

Lovedyoumore posted 3/12/2013 17:44 PM

I am over it, I never think about it, so quit bringing it up.......

.....what no BS has ever said to their WS. Ever.

Maybe you could make an agreement that you, not your spouse, asks every day if there is something they want to talk about. That is what we did early on and it took the pressure off me. Sometimes we talked, sometimes I did not need to and neither did he.

scream posted 3/12/2013 18:30 PM

Great responses. Thank you. Teach and I have been talking about them. I wish I could explain it better, what I am thinking. I only wanna do what is going to help her heal. So sometimes I don't know if that is possible. We haven't stopped and I believe we won't. So I don't know if its a ws position or the fact that I care and want her to hurt. Kind of weird. Does any of this make sense to any of you?

brokensmile322 posted 3/12/2013 22:51 PM

Hi Scream...

An affair is a trauma. Just like surviving a tornado or a bad car accident or any trauma, a trauma victim will relive the incident over and over to try and make sense of it. They will think about the signs that led up to it. Why didn't I see it? If my gut was screaming, why didn't I listen? They will disect it all. Could they have done something different? What were you thinking? What was going on in their life at the time? All of this is a way to process the shear devastation one feels.

Yes. Every discussion helps.

[This message edited by brokensmile322 at 10:52 PM, March 12th (Tuesday)]

Kiwigirl posted 3/13/2013 01:35 AM

As a BS I think about the A every day. Probably every hour. And every time I think about it I think I should probably D. I don't usually talk about it.


An affair is a trauma. Just like surviving a tornado or a bad car accident or any trauma, a trauma victim will relive the incident over and over to try and make sense of it. They will think about the signs that led up to it. Why didn't I see it? If my gut was screaming, why didn't I listen? They will disect it all. Could they have done something different? What were you thinking? What was going on in their life at the time? All of this is a way to process the shear devastation one feels.

Hi Scream

BW here. The above quotes are exactly how I feel. It is there underneath all the time but sometimes on the surface everything seems good so I can understand how as a WS it seems like when you talk about the A it is hurting the BS. But the hurt is there already. The talking is trying to make sense of the hurt, make sense of what has happened. And I think that long term maybe that helps. I don't know, because I haven't got there yet.

Pudding posted 3/13/2013 13:15 PM

BS Here:

I would repeat what all the other BSs have said. We think about it all the time and want to talk about it all the time. When there is a big thing, I will raise it, but usually try to avoid saying anything in case it kicks off an argument.

I would realy really like my Fwh to do is to refer to it it now and then. Not just when he sees I am bothered about something, but maybe once a week a question like: "I have been thinking about the A today. I am so sorry about what I did and how much I have hurt you. I felt really down about it today because of the hurt I caused. I wanted to tell you I hurt too. I know its nothing compared to what you have been going through. How have you been these past few days? Has there been anything that triggered you or anything that I did that re-upset you? I know that you think about it. I am sorry that you have to becuase of what I did. I want you to know that I do too. I love you and want to help you through this."

Something like this maybe once a week would be so nice. It is not reigniting the fire. The fire is always blazing. It is facing the fire together and pouring water on it. Not saying anything makes us feel that you have forgotten it all and that we are facing it on our own.

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