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Wh's compartmentalizing theory doesn't sit well with me...

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OldCow18 posted 7/10/2013 10:38 AM

We've had a few conversations where I've told him that everything we shared since March (when his PA started with MOW coworker)was not real and it was all a lie. He insists that his amazing ability to compartmentalize what he did means that what we shared was real and the fact that I was happy during that time (before I found out) means the marriage was still good. This makes me insane on so many levels.

What kind of disgusting individual can have a "real" marriage with his wife while having a PA with someone else, so much of his time at home was spent sexting her while I sat beside him clueless. I suppose he feels that what I didn't know (at the time) didn't hurt me and he still loved me during his PA so what we shared wasn't a farce.

Seriously? Am I crazy for thinking he has to be some kind of psychopath for believing this? I'm trying to come up with some analogy to make the point of why his thought process is so wrong, but I'm having trouble putting it into words. Thoughts?

HurtButHopeful? posted 7/10/2013 11:08 AM

I suppose he feels that what I didn't know (at the time) didn't hurt me compartementalization at its finest.

You, however, are in reality. A real M takes two people. If one partner is stepping outside M for sex, attention, escapism, whatever, then the entire M is not what it seems.

You are not crazy...he is deluded.

daledge posted 7/10/2013 11:23 AM

I can totally identify! My dirt bag husband had an affair with a Married Older Co-worker.
He did the very same things as your CS has done.

This does make me feel like
our marriage was negated by
his affair, his deceit, and his betrayal.

I suppose their affair would still be going on if I hadn't caught on. I don't know how this dirt bag was able to sleep. They clearly do tell themselves something to justify their actions. I would love to understand this.

LearningToFly posted 7/10/2013 11:29 AM

The feeling of betrayal following finding out that while you will sitting together feeling quietly connected, sharing moments without words, your spouse was really sharing emotions with someone else and cheating on you right before your eyes is very disconnecting. It makes you question everything you believe about your world, your spouse, and about how you can be so blind to what is happening in your life.

My husband is the master of compartmentalization. I hate that way of thinking. When your spouse is able to think that way, they can justify everything they do. How can you feel safe with someone like that? I am asking that question myself everyday.

Getting to Happy posted 7/10/2013 12:02 PM

What kind of disgusting individual can have a "real" marriage with his wife while having a PA with someone else, so much of his time at home was spent sexting her while I sat beside him clueless.
Sorry but I hate that shit! Like he is some 'mean girl'!

That is just wrong on so many counts. Shows you the depths that he can stoop to and what a cold blooded douche' he can be. Not to mention the stupid skank he was texting because I bet he told her you were sitting right next to him! UGH!!

Tell him that he is suffering from 'Cognitive dissonance'. Before he can have any convo regarding your well being, start with his delusional premise that he could have sexual congress with a slut unknown to you, His WIFE.

The theory of cognitive dissonance in social psychology proposes that people have a motivational drive(he wanted to be a cake-eater) to reduce dissonance by altering existing cognitions (It's okay to have a girlfriend while being married), adding new ones to create a consistent belief system(What my wife doesn't know wont hurt her), or alternatively by reducing the importance of any one of the dissonant elements(that would be you Old Cow and your feelings regarding his girlfriend).

You have been reduced to chattel. A possession to be used however he saw fit. As long as the bills were paid, there was a roof over your head and he was servicing you with ABC sex all was right with the world, his world. Thanks Mr. Old Cow!

Your not crazy! A good book for him to read is "How to help your spouse heal from your Affair". It is a small tome. He needs to read this like yesterday.

And perhaps a bit of IC to examine where he misplace his empathy and simpatico towards you?!

Take care and please guard your heart.

OldCow18 posted 7/10/2013 12:33 PM

Thank you for the responses, they help immensely. Getting to Happy, he has that book and has read it at least twice and even had a ton of sections highlighted for review. He is in IC (as am I). He is just adamant that he never stopped loving me during the affair, which only tells me that he has no idea what real love is. This is a biggie and I can't wait for my counselor to get back from vaca next week to discuss, I'm feeling this could be a deal breaker.

Nature_Girl posted 7/10/2013 12:43 PM

Seriously? Am I crazy for thinking he has to be some kind of psychopath for believing this? I'm trying to come up with some analogy to make the point of why his thought process is so wrong, but I'm having trouble putting it into words. Thoughts?

I dunno about the psychopath label, but I sure understand why you'd go there in your attempt to understand WTF is going on in his mind. I fully agree with you, this is world-class bullshit he's trying to get you to swallow. I wouldn't. It's like those sick serial killers who talk about their victims being freed or liberated to a better spiritual life, so the murderer isn't really a murderer, they were doing God's work or whatever sick thing comes up. That's bullshit, too.

Tesa posted 7/10/2013 13:31 PM

Example you could use:

If you took your wedding ring off everytime you are not around your WS but put it back on when you were together, would he be "happy?" Would he feel like your marriage was happy knowing that when you are not with him, you don't consider yourself married anymore?

ungracie posted 7/10/2013 15:15 PM

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

this is one definition of love.
During an affair the wayward shows such disrespect towards their spouse, how can they ever view that as love?

A wayward shows such disrespect to their own character, how can they even say they loved themselves?

Reality posted 7/10/2013 15:38 PM

Learning to Fly nailed it:

I hate that way of thinking. When your spouse is able to think that way, they can justify everything they do. How can you feel safe with someone like that? I am asking that question myself everyday.

(Thank you for that, LTF!)

See, the thing about compartmentalization that doesn't hold up is they still thought to HIDE or LIE about the affair. That means on some level THEY STILL KNEW.

I think for a lot of the WH/WW, they've spent a lot of their lives being one person, then during the affair(s), they choose things that they never would have said were moral or human or okay. Having to face the gravity of their choices, what that shows about them, is too much ugliness to take responsibility for, especially all at once.

So they do things like TT, and use phrases like "compartmentalization" and rewrite everyone's lives so that they don't have to look at themselves.

Self deception and avoidance at it's finest (i.e. ugliest).

Totally agreed, OC. I don't accept it as a valid rational either.

P.S. The psychopath thing? Nope. Psychopaths don't care about maintaining face once their cover's blown. Once they realize the prey can see them in the grass, they get up, yawn, and find other prey. They don't hang out trying to convince the wary herd animals that they're a nice lion.
(Signed, They Psychopath Whisperer, as my kids call me. Married to clinically diagnosed NPD psychopath for 12 years.)

P.P.S! NPD WILL hang around and argue. Psychopaths kill or walk - wince. Mine walked, with help.

[This message edited by Reality at 3:47 PM, July 10th (Wednesday)]

Blobette posted 7/10/2013 19:59 PM

Compartmentalizing is a genuine phenomenon. There's a lot of psychological research that discusses how people use it to cope with traumatic or difficult circumstances - like being a sniper AND a good family man, or being abused as a child. The key, I think is that it's not an explanation for anything. It's a "how". Some people are genuinely able to push all thought of X away. Does the mean your WH "loved" you while having his A? It means he was able to fool himself that A had nothing to do with B. And it's kind of the definition of this insanity we're all in that people develop all kinds of ways of justifying their behavior to themselves.

My WH also thinks that he still loved me throughout the A (all 7 years of it), and that A had nothing to do with B. Mind you, in our case the A was confined to meetings - no texting while sitting next to me, as in your case. Whatever. Your WH still wants to think he's a good person. He will need to dig deeper and see that big changes are needed. My WH has finally gotten there, but it takes a lot of time for them to pull their heads out of their asses.

After all of this, I'm not sure what love is, anymore.

[This message edited by Blobette at 8:13 PM, July 10th (Wednesday)]

Celticlass posted 7/11/2013 11:20 AM

Hugs, OC. My ex husband and current WBF would do the same thing with the texting while I'm sitting right there beside them. What you don't know won't hurt you is what my WBF told me when I caught him the first time.

What is it with these men? Mine is always trying to hook up with girls from the online dating sites rather than have a real relationship with a pretty darn fantastic (if I do say so myself) real live flesh and blood woman! Fucktard......

1Faith posted 7/11/2013 16:33 PM

From the Healing Library

Compartmentalizing the Affair by the Wayward Spouse

The ability to compartmentalize is a double-edged sword...

Others of us - those of us FWS's with a more frightening past - got so good at compartmentalizing that it became a way of life.

I found that my ability to compartmentalize carried over from my cheating on my wife to other things...bills, work ethic, the needs of others...

I got behind on bills and didn't worry much - I slacked off of things at work and didn't care - I was sometimes boorish and insensitive and didn't realize it or care.

The only difference between me and a clinically diagnosed "narcissist" is that my behavior was learned and reversable, where with a true Narcissist it's hard-wired permanently.

Why did I shove away the guilt and pain of what I was doing? How could I go be with an OW and then come home to my W and snuggle with her in the bed without screaming "MY GOD WHAT AM I DOING TO THIS BEAUTIFUL WOMAN???!!!"

The A's were more important. The high that I got from the attention of OW...the "rockstar" life, the cool attitude, the charm and character... I "loved" those more than I loved my wife.

Why? How?

Something was empty inside of me...something dark and needy, something that couldn't be satisfied, a part of me that hated myself and didn't trust that I was good enough...and that black hole needed to be fed. The light from the shining star of my BW wasn't enough, it needed more. And frankly, 1000 OW wouldn't have done the trick. Becoming a mega-celebrity rockstar wouldn't have done the trick. NOTHING would do the trick, except one thing:

Loving me.

And I couldn't do that, didn't know HOW to do that, didn't want to face the demons and acknowledge that I didn't love myself.

So instead of doing that, I tried to find validation in love in everything and anything else - externalizing my self-worth in the words/eyes/arms of others.

And in order to get that "fix" and not deal with the horror of what I was doing to my BW and my M, I had to compartmentalize. And I had to be DAMN good at it, too.

And I didn't get it, for years...until I finally was faced with the undeniable proof of what I had done and what it had caused and where it all came from...

A story revealed by the facts of my A's coming to light after D-Day, advice from forums such as SI, help from my IC, family, friends...and the pain and devastation in my BW's eyes and voice...and finally, through self-examination and introspection.

I finally faced my ability to compartmentalize, and faced the demons holding the boxes open, waiting for the next sin to be whisked away. And more importantly, I faced the demons of WHY CHEATING WAS SO IMPORTANT TO ME.

And I had to fix things one at a time... First, get rid of OW, change my lifestyle to shelter myself, start to tell the story to people who cared (BW, IC, family) and who had been there fellow SI'ers, etc.)

Second, fix the ability to shove things away...every time something happens, I stop myself and analyze "what? why? where? who?" to determine where it came from and what it means. Even something as simple as telling a funny story to co-workers is scrutinized - "why am I telling this? To appear cool, to make people think I'm witty and charming??"

And last...and the part that will take the longest and the most work...the part I'm diligently working on now...
Fix me. Fix my emptiness. Fix the thing in me that didn't love myself enough to respect my own morals, nor the bonds of my marriage, nor the love and respect of my beautiful, loving wife.

Once I've fixed that - then I'll be safe again. It's not enough to say "I'll never cheat," because that's external and the compartmentalization mechanism will kick in, and I'll be back at square one.
It's not enough to say "I just won't compartmentalize" because the beauty AND horror of the ability is - you don't really realize it's happening until it's over! have to fix the thing in you that subconsciously said "I need to learn to compartmentalize because I'm about to do really bad things."

Whether it's unhappiness in your marriage...self-esteem issues...abuse issues...sexual addiction...the ability to compartmentalize is not the disease, it's the symptom of the disease.

This was long but it helped me with the very question you asked. And while it explains it I still don't fully understand HOW they can do this. I hope it helped.

SisterMilkshake posted 7/11/2013 17:04 PM

Compartmentalizing is a genuine phenomenon.
Thanks Blobette and 1Faith with your great posts on this subject.

I know many BS's have a hard time accepting, understanding and believing that there is such a thing as compartmentalization. It is hard to wrap your head around if you have never done this. It is a defensive coping skill and many people use it to different degrees and not just for infidelity purposes.

I know I was able to compartmentalize the abuse I suffered during my teen years at the hand of my father. When I realized that I, too, can compartmentalize, I understood how my FWH was able to do this.

eta: However, even though I understand my FWH's extreme ability to compartmentalize, that doesn't mean that my marriage isn't tainted by the years that he was involved in infidelity.

[This message edited by SisterMilkshake at 5:07 PM, July 11th (Thursday)]

DriveMeCrazy posted 7/11/2013 22:20 PM

I discovered the A about 5 months ago. My h also said he compartmentalized during his lta with ow.

I have done alot of research since dday, and this is quite common in lta. In order to keep it going they have to separate it.

My h was also drinking ALOT. And i blamed any suspicious activity on the drinking. ugh. It is ugly, but I do believe the heavy drinking was a way to numb his guilt.

I hate A's.

back on topic...yes, I believe that compartmentlizing is very real.

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