She accuses herself, can't handle the fact she did such a thing and hurt so many people. She's really hard on herself to the point of self loathing.
She has to do this on her own. I don't think it's your job to help her. If you "poo-poo" her guilt and try to comfort her too much...it negates your pain. It is OK for her to know how badly she hurt you.
Guilt is the stage (hopefully) before remorse. Can't force it. Stay strong to. Your beliefs and truth. That's how you help her.
She has to move herself out of it. Also, understand that people use that guilt to shield themselves from going any deeper. I see it IRL and here on SI, "Oh I am sooo horrible, OMG, dirty, filthy, I wear a scarlet A, lordy have mercy". That is a wayward setting off a bomb before you can drop it on them. Or it is so they can get external validation. "Oh no honey, its ok, you is smart, you is kind, you is important."
Whether it is lingering in guilt or either of these last two ways its not healthy or helpful.
Someone who said it better...
[This message edited by hardlessons at 9:00 PM, May 16th (Thursday)]
I not only think that the guilt stage is good I think it is needed. They screwed up and should wallow for a while is what a piece of crap they behaved like. Different from shame in that they are not actually a piece of crap, but they certainly behaved like one and should feel bad about it for a while. That is the motivation to learn from it and not do it again. Guilt is good (I did something bad) shame is bad (I am bad because of what I did.)
Then they need to move the hell on. They hosed everything up and now they need to stop feeling sorry for themselves and take action. That is truly where AD's helped my W. Something you may consider.
IMO your role in this is get yourself healthy, if you really are 2married2quit tell her that, but tell her that she needs to open the hell up, find out who she is and what she stands for and then tell you about it and live it. It's on her.
She's really hard on herself to the point of self loathing.
If that is really true than she and her IC need to figure that out not you. Her life, her crazy ass brain and her pathology. Not yours. You can't love her back to health, her self talk and demons are her own. Let her fight them out.
Take care of yourself...
This was my situation and I am not saying this will happen to you. I am just saying that feeling guilty doesn't really resolve the problem and she needs to work through it with the help of an IC if necessary. Otherwise she hasn't truly done anything but feel guilty while remaining in limbo. Begin stagnant, even in guilt, is not the same as moving forward towards fixing things. Just my 2 cents.
It's absolutely right that they do feel guilt and shame, which leads to the remorse and the desire to do everything to make us stop hurting, but there comes a point when our marriage has to be about more than that one stupid night. I don't want him to take all the blame. I want him to see that OW was part of it too. Want him to move on, define what his boundaries are, explain them to me to me and stick to them. Wallowing in grief for what happened does not help establish behaviours so it doesn't ever happen again.
Do think that the have to go through the guilt stage though.
With my FWH, I think he has/ had a low sense of self esteem. He was the BS in his first marriage and felt rejected. I was B in m first marriage as well and we got together and helped each other through our really bad times. We both used to say we couldn't believe that we had found someone who truly loved them after the hurts we had been through. When OW threw herself at him, he was flattered and responded, which led after a bit of an EA to the ONS.. He says that he was filled with remorse and built almost immediately. My reasoning at the moment ( and we are in a good patch jus now) is that if a sense of low esteem led to the ONS, then I need to build p his sense of self esteem again, but appreciating him and recognising the good bits and qualities. He has been through all the guilt and shame and ow needs to move on. He can't do that until he respects himself again. He can't respect himself unless I do and that means forgiving him. That is not to say its all OK, but that we have to move on together and not let what he did (for me, once 6 years ago) wreck the rest of our lives.
I know that man here will think I am gullible and letting him off lightly, but he is truly remorseful and wracked with guilt and this is not getting us anywhere.
If you are strong enough, can you show that you love her and appreciate some good things about her, show her you want to R and explain why you love her in spite of what she did.
Can you encourage her to think about ways of making you feel safe and better rather than focusing on her guilt. If she does begin to do things to make you feel better and shows some commitment to R that is something you can praise and appreciate her for, which might help her esteem. She needs to think she is not a bad person, but just did a bad thing, which is now over and she will commit not to do again. One thing I have thanked my FWH for is putting ip with my ranting and raging, calling him names, swearing, souring, screaming. I am not proud about how I have behaved in my extreme grief, but he has stuck in there held me and insisted on sticking by me to get us through. If your WS has done any of that, thank her.
Some will say that I am wet and wimpy, but there doesn't seem much point screaming for ever.if we are to R, we have to work through this together and that might include building up their self esteem just at the point we don't want to. This might not help a all, as your situation may be completely different. I am only trying this out myself, so it might not work for me either, but its just a thought. I guess it depends on the really "why"
Can you guys work on her doing things for you and you letting her? That has really been such a positive change in our marriage. FWH has discovered the happiness in GIVING, and I have learned how to ask for what I need. We still work on this--example:
I had a migraine last week and FWH offered to rub my head. It is hard for me to accept something like from him (which is crazy, 'cause I'd let a homeless guy give me a backrub I love them so much. ) But he sat on the couch and he rubbed my head and it was wonderful. I said thank you that was wonderful and he said--"it is embarrassing that we've been married for 20 years and I've never done that before. I am happy to help."
IMO your wife needs to focus on you rather than her feelings (at least some of the time) which is a HEALING thing, not a punitive thing.