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Looking for that Silver Lining

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Smedley posted 7/22/2013 12:36 PM

I am two years out, and thought I would feel much better by now! Two years ago, my world flipped when I learned of two affairs my wife had with the same person. They were "in love", etc.

Today, my wife is doing everything she can to be patient and caring. I don't believe she has ever felt the pain that I've felt or at least she has never been able to show it.

The first affair was early, and I believe my wife was unhappy / overwhelmed with new kids and all the challenges a young family brings. The second affair was selfish, immature and pathetic. The guy and her spoke daily as he was prepping to be married. He called my wife the day before his wedding and when he returned from the honeymoon.

There have been a couple of times in heated moments where my wife could helped me, but it never happened. Even while in counseling, she told the counselor that her an AP "had a connection". My sister in law advised me that "he wanted my wife" a year ago when it is clear to me that he used my wife. It feels like she wants to keep what she has (me) and wants to believe that she an AP had a special moment(s).

Each morning, I feel like I have to walk away. The mind movies will never stop. We have been through many counselors. Most of which are a poor reflection on the "profession" IMO.

My wife feels I can't forgive and I need to think about the future. I always thought about the future before, but it hard now.

Can a person really ever understand "why"? Am I asking too much to expect my wife to feel the pain that I've felt? When were you aware that reconciliation was possible?

mepe27 posted 7/22/2013 13:40 PM

I have discovered that time alone does not heal wounds, time and a TON of personal work.
To answer your specific question. I think they feel pain, a ton of pain, it's just different than ours. Yes I believe a BS can understand why, enough to make peace with the situation, which is not to say I agree and it's fine, not at all! But I get it. I'll tell you the moment I "got it"

it was about a year after d-day, we had started R but it was still shakey. A high school guy messaged me on facebook and was flirting with me in a kind of subtle way, I got it but he didn't overtly ask to meet. I exchanged hello's etc but was super careful not to encourage or participate in any flirting but in side, I liked it. It felt good to be flirted with after feeling like the scum of the earth for a year. I just wanted to feel liked a little. and at that moment I saw the slippery slope every single WS faces. I turned off my chat after that, I knew that flirting with that guy would not help fix my marriage or me and the second part I learned on that day is flirting and A's are like a drug. So the guy who has a tough day and gets drunk or the girl who is having a hard time and buys $300 shoes she can't afford, all the same. When we are feeling sad/stressed/fat, etc and we want a break many of us have that coping mechanism in our lives, for some people it's external validation/affair. So I got it. My h's affair had nothing to do with me, he was having a hard time like every other person in the world does sometimes and a "friend" told him how great he was and he liked it, there it is. So he made bad choices and it almost ruined our marriage and me.

So that being said, it sounds like your W is trying to repair the damage her A caused. I assume she is transparent and accountable, thats the foundation that needs to be in place in order to start R but it's only the beginning. I had to do a ton of work on my own. And I can tell you the exact day I figured that out. It was at the 2 year d-day mark and my H had told me at least 20 times how much he loved me and how great I was, etc but in my mind it was pissing me off. I didn't believe him, I was thinking about how he lied, how I can't trust anything heartfelt and I was mad. At that moment I realized that my feelings were mine to fix, he could not fix me. He was doing what he could to fix our marriage but we were at a dead end. I found a good IC, which I agree is hard to do, just keep looking, and started a year of working on my issues, some that my H had caused and some that contributed to our marriage having issues all along. The thing my good IC said that was different from all the others was, when I told her that my H had an A and I was struggling, she said she would help me work through it. All the others said they'd help me "put it behind me" which is different. The good IC made me look at it and talk about how it made me feel and face the anger, the others kept trying to minimize it or reminded me it was "in the past" so i recommend that. You're going to need to face all these feelings head on and plow thru them, not bypass them.
By year three things were amazing. I felt great, I felt strong and whole again, which I didn't think was ever possible. My H was totally supportive and I could tell he wanted a little of what I had. At that point, thats when I realized how sad he was.

We have talked about it since ( it's been almost 6 years ) and he struggles with feeling like he's forever a bad person, he can never undo what he's done, he hurts and he's full of regret. I have found peace and he hasn't. I don't know if he will and that makes me sad for him.

So I think now is the time for you to work on you on your own. Face all the pain, hurt, sadness and go thru it to the other side. I believe your wife wants to support you and wants you to heal but she can't heal you and time won't heal you by itself.

bionicgal posted 7/22/2013 15:15 PM

Mepe - what an inspirational post.

OP- one thing our counselor said that helped WH a lot was to tell himself when he felt like he was missing the AP that what he was missing was how he felt when he was involved with her. Has your wife read much about affairs?

Of course, they did have a connection, but you and she get to decide how meaningful that is. Women can romaticize things in a way that men don't always (although some do.) I know my WH would not have had an affair if he hadn't felt a connection - he just isn't that kind of guy. But, he is learning (and we aren't far along in the process) that what that connection actually means is different than he thought.

(i.e. not "meant to be" but more an avalanche of brain chemistry that was hard to control.)

1985 posted 7/22/2013 17:41 PM

I want to offer my thoughts on the questions you pose. I have had a lot of years to ponder those same questions.
Background: My W,for a variety of reasons, dropped out of a professional school graducate program even though she was at the top of her class. That made her feel depressed and lost. OM, who had been her classmate and hot for her, contacted her to "see how she was doing" and to "cheer her up". You know how that turned out.
So she has told me that in addition to being depressed and lost, she was bored with life; looking to have an adventure; wanting to have some excitement. And OM came along and said all the right things and she chose to make an A with him her adventure and her excitement.
So to your question of can we ever really understand "why". I don't think you will ever be able to understand "why" in the way you want to understand it. You want to understand it in a way that makes sense to your brain; in a way that makes you not feel so demeaned and worthless and allows some dignity and self respect; that causes you to feel it really wasn't such a big deal to her and that she really means it when she says he doesn't match up to you.
The truth is, he didn't match up to you. He was a pointless diversion to her - nothing more. But the problem with our brains is that they keep going back to the thought process that: she did it; she wasn't drunk; it was a deliberate, planned out action, perhaps many times over many months; and so it must have been special, he must have been better and yada yada yada.
You are human. Your brain cannot make sense of the A in any way other than thinking it/he must have been special.
I get that. So what you have to work on is two things. First, understand that her "why" was not rational. It may have seemed rational to her at the time, but only because she was thinking irrationally. And you see, if you could somehow put your brain into "irrational mode" and, while in that mode, analyze her actions and her thoughts -- you would then understand her "why". But I suspect you can't do that. I have never been able to. I can try to step back, outside myself, and look at it and intellectually I can see what she is saying. But then the rational comes rushing back in and says "but I would have been happy to be the focus of your adventure, etc".
So I suggest that you listen to what she can tell you but don't expect that it will make sense to you as a rational, reasonable "why".
Secondly, don't let the fact that you can't understand "why" derail your healing or your work at Reconciliation. Accept that you will never understand her why and instead focus on whether she is now back to being the woman that you married and wanted to be your Wife. If she is; if she is doing the right things, saying the right things -- let the "why" go. Begin building the future. The future can be awesome.
You also ask if it is too much to expect your W to feel the same pain you have felt.
Yes, it is. You can never understand her why. She can never really understand your pain. She hasn't BEEN there. How could she feel it. Only a betrayed spouse can know the depth and breadth and agony of pain caused by such a betrayal. So your W will never fully understand your pain. And frankly, I wouldn't want my W to ever feel the pain I have been through. I still love her. Deeply. So there is no way I would wish that kind of pain on her.
When did I know reconciliation was possible? Well I lived for many years still loving her and finding times of happiness and joy amongst the times of pain. But we never talked about the A because she refused to. Just refused -- and I quite unwisely failed to insist and force conversation. A reconcilliation of sorts, but not true, meaningful R.
True R, for me, began to occur when we finally started talking. When I could ask questions and get answers. When I began to learn which of my assumptions about the A
were accurate and which weren't. And that is when I came to know, and understand, what true R is and that it was occurring.
I hope you and she can and do talk freely and often. And that she is open and honest in her answers. That, and continued efforts by her to help you heal and regain your sense of worth, will get you where you need to be.
Peace to you.

Smedley posted 7/23/2013 09:52 AM

Mepe, thank you! Your comments are really sincere and helpful. What is most interesting is that these are things my wife has told me as well.

1985, really appreciate the reality check. Sometimes I feel like I am the one in the "fog".

Bionicgal, appreciate the validation and perspective.

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