I met my wife almost ten years ago, married her almost five years ago, and spent two of those years engaged in a physical and emotional affair with a co-worker. I was selfish, I was disconnected, I was terrible to my wife. Through it all she never did anything other than commit herself in every way she knew how to making our life and our marriage better. I lied to her throughout, I blame shifted to her in order to get her to stop asking hard questions, I lied to myself about problems in our marriage that did not exist in order to avoid examining the damage I was inflicting. I lied to my family and to my friends, I took time away from my children to engage in the affair. I have alienated so many people who mean so much to me. The problem now is that these are the feelings that are starting to take over....the breadth of what I have done to my wife, to our life together, to our family are settling firmly down on my shoulders and I find that I get stuck hating myself. I recognize this does nothing to help the situation, but at times it feels like I can't help it. Particularly when she is struggling as well.
We are working, and she has put in so much more effort than I could possibly have asked for in this process, given me every opportunity to make things better and I have tried so hard to take advantage of them....my fear (realization?) is that it will not be enough. That I have done too much, that it is too hard, that the effort it would require of her to move through this is not there.
I have taken all the steps I hope will help: left my job, no contact, in individual counseling, marriage counseling, sex therapy. But days like yesterday make it seem like a drop of water into a bucket of shit. I know this is very general, I hope in the future I can be more specific, but any insights or advice from those who have worked through their own feelings of a long-term betrayal would be welcome. I thank you for any responses, I thank you for your posts that I have been lurking and reading as a part of this process.
2 Year Physical & Emotional Affair (Co-Worker)
Those feelings you have, the hating yourself, the fear that you've done too much damage, thereby implying maybe it would be better to just give up, those are all normal feelings. I think they need to be acknowledged, but I also think you need to have an answer about what you are going to do with them. Are you going to let yourself sink further down into the bucket of shit? Or are you going to do some work to climb out?
It sounds like you have made some good starts. So keep up with those. Work on yourself, for yourself, so that you will become the strong person who can weather whatever storm your BW may be going through. Ask yourself why you did it. Dig deep.
There is a lot of good insight in the Healing Library. Just click the button in the yellow box at the top left-hand side of the screen.
Stick around. The more you share the easier it gets.
given me every opportunity to make things better and I have tried so hard to take advantage of them
You either take advantage of an opportunity or you don't. There is no try (someone once said).
my fear (realization?) is that it will not be enough. That I have done too much, that it is too hard, that the effort it would require of her to move through this is not there.
That isn't your call to make. Both of you, indivually, decide if the effort is worth it and possible. I have a suspicion that YOU think the task is too great for YOU. Don't put your doubts and weakness on her. She said she's in--she's in.
At some point, she may decide it isn't working or she can't overcome your A. That is her decision to make. She wasn't a part of your decision to have an A.
And "the effort it would require of her to move through this is not there" is pretty condescending. Never say something like that to her.
Take an active role, take control of your actions and emotions. You will have breakdowns (I just had my 5 year antiversary--I still have breakdowns), but you have them away from her. You focus on caring for her and helping her heal. When you feel the darkness coming, fight it. Then when alone or in counselling, let it out, have your breakdown.
This is a rough time, I don't envy you.
[This message edited by darkbeast at 11:55 AM, March 22nd (Friday)]
The line you quote is a poor expression of what I meant to say and it comes across wrong. I think it's more that the desire to put in that effort may not be there. Believe me, I know it's her decision to make, that's what scares me so much. I can only do so much to influence it.
I think a lot of what I'm struggling with at the moment is that she's not so sure that she is in. We set the July date, but she has on more than one occasion said she doesn't want to wait that long: she's tired, the future I'm offering is good enough, she doesn't want to put in effort to be with the person who would do these things to her.
For the most part I have kept my breakdowns to myself, but she's also said that it can be helpful to see the emotion actually affect me. That when I don't show that deep sadness it can make her feel like I'm just saying what I need to say to get through this but don't actually care that much. Fine line, I guess.
The line you quote is a poor expression of what I meant to say and it comes across wrong.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but from here on out everything that you say and do will be closely examined. There is no more benefit if the doubt. She will dissect and put literal meaning on everything that is said. So the point is, say what is truly coming from the heart and say what you mean. For example,
I can only do so much to influence it.
It is a fine line between caring about the outcome and doing what is for the best despite it. You say you fear how successful your efforts will be. How does that change what you are doing? Are you afraid to let her inside to see all the ugly until you can get a commitment from her? Or are you holding back for fear the truth will send her packing? She is hyper sensitive to everything that you say and do. She will notice any walls you put up in the name of your own safety. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Let her in, all the way. Share with her your discoveries and progress. Show her empathy. You are going to have bad days. There will be days that no matter what you do it will seem wrong. But you talk, sometimes yell, and you work through it together.
We have all been afraid that it will not be enough. It may not be. At least to save the M. But do enough to save you.