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It's Complicated. Is He Trying?

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RippedSoul posted 7/26/2013 15:34 PM

For 20+ years, I've been married to a man I love dearly despite his issues. Everyone has them, but most people--if they knew the whole story--would conclude his are far deeper and more complex than most.

About 8 years ago, I urged him to go to counseling because he had such unreasonably low self-esteem. He had a beautiful wife, four brilliant children, a fabulous job he loved, was nice-looking, yet he hated himself and took it out on us.

The diagnosis? Sex and anger addiction. It made complete sense but was quite devastating. He was placed on anti-depressants for the rest of his life. Recovery went well for a few years, then he seemed to change. To withdraw.

A year ago, he told me that he (a life-long religiously devout man) was now an atheist. When I tried to talk about us and get him to go to counseling, he'd always say "after the holidays." Which meant only one thing, right?

Well, before the holidays ended, he'd paid for one prostitute and two escorts. I confronted him with proof (the condom receipt, the e-mails, the bank withdrawals), told him I forgave him (like he was an alcoholic falling off the wagon), and asked for the truth. I didn't get it.

A month later, though, he decided to come clean, to recommit to our marriage, and to confess to what I'd known (the illicit sex) and had not even suspected (an affair). It was the OW dumping him that caused the extreme acting out. His sex addiction, previously, had been limited to paid-for phone sex in college and porn use in our marriage.

Somehow, the A was more devastating--and less forgiveable--than all the rest. I was determined to save our M, though. For me AND our COM. He wasn't horribly committed at first; he felt like he'd started our M based on lies (his) and we both needed a fresh start. That's what he thought he was getting with the OW. True transparency. Ha!

Problem is, even though we've been to MC and we're both going to IC, I don't feel like he's all there or that he's really remorseful. He seems like Type One--has decided to stay married, divorce would be financially devastating, has said sorry (but only once), would like to pretend nothing every happened although will answer my questions, enjoys the changes I've made.

But he's not changing as much as I'd like. His meds are being adjusted, so I've tried to not rock the boat. The fact that he's nice while going through w/drawal seems a big step. Overall, he's pretty "meh" about everything in his life. The meds flatten all emotion--highs and lows. But am I just making excuses?

Six months ago, we both talked about wanting our M to be better than ever, but that's not happening . . . He's nicer and he's more affectionate. But he's not more helpful at home. He will watch movies but won't go for a walk or to the gym. We don't have $ for more. He hasn't given me passwords to his iPad/iPhone (both from classified work environment, so no bills/history). He's given me no gifts (not V-day, M-day, Anniversary). I'd initially asked for my b-day to be celebrated 6 months later (since he was intimate with the OW on my last b-day)--that date passed with no acknowledgement.

Suggestions? Am I just being impatient with someone who already has a lot of his own dragons to slay? How can I persuade him--without nagging--that I have needs, too, that aren't being met?

[This message edited by RippedSoul at 3:36 PM, July 26th (Friday)]

kiki1 posted 7/26/2013 15:52 PM

Hello Ripped

I'm sorry you find yourself here, but if it has to be, its a good place.

I'm not sure if your h is trying or not.

Did he forget those important dates prior to his a? If so, it probably isnt too far out of the ordinary, though it would be an effort on his part to do so.

Could you leave little reminder notes for him to do so?

The passwords-what is the nature of his work? Is it possible for him to share them? If so and he doesnt, i would be concerned.

Its positive that he gives you answers when you ask. I struggle with that myself in my situation. Terribly painful.

Have you discussed this with your IC?

Did you ask anything more of him?

I'm sorry if i havent really answered your questions, just wanted you to know you've been heard.


heartache101 posted 7/26/2013 16:32 PM


Wonder if he just doesn't care for anyone but himself right now?? The reason he forgets your bday and ani dates etc....

Self centered? JMO??

Sometimes we have to put our needs first and let them find themselves. I hope you have seen a lawyer and have things in order for the just in case situation???

Sometimes we love what we thought we had not what we really have?? If that makes sense?

RippedSoul posted 7/26/2013 17:15 PM

It's truthfully not a place I ever expected to be. But after reading a lot on the site before joining, I decided it was a good, private place to vent and to heal. Thanks for responding first. Thanks for your virtual hug. :) Thanks, too, heartache. What a telling username. :(

My WS is a flirtatious man and has had FB relationships I've considered borderline EA, but an actual A? Never. Really. Especially with his one-time religious convictions.

He's never "forgotten" the dates; he just doesn't put a lot of effort into them. V-day was just a couple weeks after the big reveal. Two days before, on the way to our MC, he said, "I've not thought at all about V-day." I sweetly but firmly said, "You should start thinking." Nothing. Still, I gave him a basket with some choco kisses, some coupons, some red lingerie (not new)--put in on his side of the bed when I went up to bed that night, despairing. He came up soon after, saw the basket, and seemed truly delighted. That weekend, on a tournament trip out of town with one of our children, he actually told me that he was feeling very much in love with me again. So, although it felt humiliating at the time to give and to not receive, it feels like his heart was softened.

But I thought he'd then be more prepared for the next big day. Know what I mean? The day before M-day, he said he'd gotten me nothing. Crestfallen, but to keep things light, I said that the garden flowers I purchased could be from him.

And for our anniversary? While eating out with our children, he told me "I'd" purchased him two new shirts.

Yes, it's somewhat of a pattern, since we have little money, that we don't splurge on holidays. In pre-A days, I'd accepted that that's how it worked for him. I started our marriage by buying gifts for him, but it didn't seem important to fight against nature, so I let it drop, too, for the most part.

Again, it is what it is except . . . he spent lots of money (again, we didn't have it) on the OW. To me, that says that if he loved me like he thought he loved her, he'd buy me gifts. Nothing extravagant--just tokens. And that's what I want. That's what would be a believable sign that he loved me. That's why I don't really want to point it out (as you and my IC have suggested). I don't think SHE had to request them. But that may be asking too much. It's hurting me; it's damaging my recovery. I just don't know how to bring it up without sounding pathetic. :(

As for the passwords, he has a security clearance. Technically, no, I shouldn't touch his devices. Of course, technically, he shouldn't break the law by hiring a prostitute, right? And a couple times, he's handed me his electronics gear to hold for a second or to snap a photo. So to give me his passwords for a while, to re-establish trust, seems do-able.

I've really not talked too much about the A to him. It comes up sometimes, but I think we both want to pretend it didn't happen. Him, because losing her was painful; me, because losing him was painful. Yet I'm still obsessing over it in private, so . . . Just don't know what/how to broach the subject. Want it to be organic, but when opportunities come up to discuss it, I chicken out. Not sure I can handle anything more--even though I don't feel like there's been enough disclosure. It's a paradox.

What, more, should I ask of him? One thing at a time? The MC (my IC) and I tried to bring up household responsibilities and got nowhere. He's not ready to contribute here at home (a reflection of his meds or his selfishness?).

While I don't think my WS has NPD, I do think he may be a narcissist. I lived with that, though, somewhat successfully for the first couple decades of our marriage. It's not a deal breaker. The combo of that, the meds that leave him so flat, the affair . . . I feel like I'm walking on eggshells--not that he's going to hit me (he never has) but that he'll walk out. I feel like I want him to fall back in love with me more before making more demands.

That's probably not healthy, but it's true. I sometimes feel like I'm a Stepford wife. He's not demanding it in words, but the situation seems to be creating it. I don't fawn over him, but I do try to show him why he'd be a fool to break up our marriage. Problem is, it leaves me wondering if it's worth saving.

All that said, I have glimpses of good and I feel hopeful. Last night, he "stole" me to go to the grocery and buy Ben & Jerry's. Not a big deal, perhaps, but for us it is. He's making more of an effort (slow but perceptible) to be an engaged dad, too. And he initiates saying that he loves me. It's not enough; it's not. But it's all I've got right now.

As for a lawyer, no. Not yet. I think a D would destroy us both financially. He makes about 8 times more than I do, and after 20+ years of marriage, alimony alone would kill him. But I'd "get" half the debt. And if I declared bankruptcy, he'd have to. Then he'd probably lose his job. So . . .

[This message edited by RippedSoul at 5:20 PM, July 26th (Friday)]

atsenaotie posted 7/27/2013 12:48 PM

Am I just being impatient with someone who already has a lot of his own dragons to slay?

Hi RippedSoul,

Something we get a real belief in around here is that actions speak louder and truer than words. If you H is delaying on IC, trying to rugweep, 'meh' about his life, not helping around the house, not sharing passwords I would interpret these as the actions of a man who does not believe that he has a problem in his life, that he is a problem in anyone's life, and he is happy with the status quo.

He has to actually see or at least believe in the dragons before he can take steps to armor up and slay them.

How can I persuade him--without nagging--that I have needs, too, that aren't being met?

You cannot, all you can do is communicate your needs clearly to him, and them watch his actions.

What are you willing to accept? Where does your path of least regret lead?

sisoon posted 7/27/2013 13:12 PM

...or he fears his problems are too big to be solved, or that the problems are solvable but not by him. (BTDT)

On household chores, he's probably recalcitrant because he's always been able to dodge them. (BTDT - strangely, since acts of service are my W's primary love language, I do more now than I did before the A, and I enjoy it. Shocks the hell out of me....)

WRT celebrating special days, it sounds like you need to spell out exactly what you want from him ahead of time. I know that may sound strange, and I know it sounds like the results will be unsatisfying, but try it - he can't read your mind.

I suggest also looking at for the self-test for both you and your H. It can be a real help, if you don't match. The payoff for talking in each other's LL can be fantastic - I once got a seemingly ever-lasting massage just because I washed 6 or 8 dishes....

A very key question is: how important are the things you mention to you?

Change is difficult. It doesn't happen without some stimulus. Unless you are willing to implement negative consequences if your H doesn't change, he won't change. If he doesn't change, what will you do? Would that be a deal killer?

I'm not suggesting that you become a manipulator just to get your way. Rather, I'm saying: figure out what you need and want, and go for it directly.

Ordinarily, SIers recommend the following as requirements: 1) NC with ap; 2) Transparency (which may be impossible if security classifications are involved; 3) Honesty - answering questions truthfully when they're asked; 4) IC for WS - to change the thoughts and feelings that enables the A; 5) MC, when the BS wants it; and 6) 'special requests' - like, in your case for example, arrange celebrations for birthday, anniversary, V-day, etc.

Have you checked the Healing Library? Start with the FAQs, and be sure to look at info on the 180, because some of the tactics may be relevant to you.

Welcome to SI - you're among friends.

[This message edited by sisoon at 1:14 PM, July 27th (Saturday)]

mainlyinpain posted 7/27/2013 13:46 PM

RS, I identify so much with you on the lack of gifts issue. My last DD way 4/30/2013. My Anniv and Bday were end of May and...I got a card. I want to feel special on my special day and he knows it. But makes it out that it is just too store on every corner...or don't you know me at all? What my interest are? I mean come on...some effort esp after your devastation to me. How can we believe in your dedication to healing our soul? Also for me was the fact that he gave so much to OW...I saw on secret credit every two weeks for a year...gave her a vacation...mixed much more. So we know they know how to romance a woman...why are they choosing not to romance us?
I asked my IC this last week and she did have a revealing answer. She says it may be because they already have us. They gave so much to AP because it was a pursuit but for us they are not trying to get us...we are already there and have proven that we will still be there in the aftermath of they don't have to put themselves out and make the effort. But what consequence to you put in force for someone being neglectful of making you feel special on your special day? Damned if I know...sort of would defeat the purpose if you are only shown this if you somehow force it out of some bad consequence you enforce. The real question is why they don't just want to show you how they feel you are special, why they don't want to see your happiness and delight when they present you a token of their feelings for you. As you do for them? Don't understand this. Just plain self-centeredness.

Also RS, my BH's OW also dumped him...and he stated this as the reason he started with her again seven years later...because her dumping him made him feel like a kicked puppy and now she was pursuing him and that made the kicked puppy feel so much better. This seems like the same dynamic could happen in your marriage as you say he is in such pain because she dumped him. This could be her manipulating him and she could resurface. You need to talk out this affair and figure out if you are still at risk for this future hurt. He hasn't resolved his feelings of pain at being dumped. No safety there.

Hugs to you

RippedSoul posted 7/27/2013 15:46 PM

Thanks, all, for the wonderful responses and suggestions. It wounds me that so many people are in a position to have empathy for me. What are we, as a society, doing to each other? To me, divorce would have been unlikely but an affair would simply never happen. Maybe that's why the devastation was so extreme? I still don't understand why he simply didn't divorce me first. :(

Atsenaotie, I understand what you're saying and agree with you. My heart wants to be content with every small step forward that he takes; my brain wants to make sure I'm not being taken advantage of. Guess I'm trying to straddle that fence.

Although I don't want to martyr myself, I do care more about my children than myself. I want them to see that marriage, while not easy, can survive with hard work and therapy and unselfishness. Of course, I'd like it to not be one-sided. I could live the rest of my life in my marriage--for the sake of my kids--as it is today. I hope it will be better, but I could be happy. I'm certainly happier now than the year before the affair. So we ARE both making progress.

My teenage sons see the difference in our relationship (although aren't verbal about it--just comments here and there); my teenage daughter has noticed and is pleased. She didn't want to leave for college because she was so worried about me. I feel like she can leave with a light heart now. The eldest daughter is oblivious--has her own issues (because she and her dad are so alike).

Sisoon, I read the FAQ yesterday, but there was a lot to process in one sitting. I'll have to re-read the 180 section. It seemed like sound advice, but perhaps not in our case. In MC, one thing my WS mentioned to the counselor is that he would have never reconciled or confessed had I not made the changes I did when I first knew something was wrong--when he made his "after the holidays" comment. I asked him, then, to go to MC, but our insurance was switching in Jan to another company, so MC with one counselor for 6 weeks seemed counter-productive to us both. I asked for us to both pick one thing for the other to work on. He declined; wanted only to work with a trained therapist. But I picked something I felt would be important and worked on it. That progress I made in two months made all the difference in the world to him. Since he's the SA, he felt like I was always waiting for him to change before our marriage would improve. I don't feel like I was doing that, but that doesn't really matter, does it? It's perception. So, in our case, I don't think 180 would work, as I understand it.

I think, WRT household chores, that he's happy with the status quo. So I've been trying to treat him like one of my children. My IC says that I can't expect them to notice things and do them w/o asking. To me, as he's part of my team, I shouldn't have to ask him, either. But I do. And if he does what I ask, then I'm appreciative. Don't know if he'll ever just do it spontaneously, but . . .

I haven't read the love languages book, but I'm familiar with the concepts. It's definitely one I should read, though. I believe my LL is service. That's why gifts before the A weren't so important. But since he spent so much money on her, I do feel it's telling when he doesn't spend it on me. But you're absolutely right. I have to get up the courage to ASK for what I need. My IC says mind-reading has no place in a marriage.

Luckily, my IC is our MC, so she understands how prickly he can be and how difficult it is to find the right time to bring up touchy issues. It's nice to actually have men on here in my situation; nice to have your perspective because sometimes I really don't understand your gender. Maybe it's just my WS I don't understand.

"Ordinarily, SIers recommend the following as requirements: 1) NC with ap; 2) Transparency (which may be impossible if security classifications are involved; 3) Honesty - answering questions truthfully when they're asked; 4) IC for WS - to change the thoughts and feelings that enables the A; 5) MC, when the BS wants it; and 6) 'special requests' - like, in your case for example, arrange celebrations for birthday, anniversary, V-day, etc."

I think #s 1 and 3 are covered. Of course, I'm afraid of being duped because there's no trust. It's hard to re-create trust because of #2. He's not doing things that worry me, though, but maybe he learned (he's brilliant) from making mistakes I caught the first time around? That's what I worry about most. I've been clear that another EA or PA will not be tolerated and that he will be asked to leave. #4 has not happened yet (he goes to a psych for meds but they want him to drive 45 minutes for a SA therapist--I think any therapist, locally, is better than nothing). #5 happens. #6 is up to me. I need to be more forceful and clear. Y'all have helped me to see that. Thanks.

Mainlyinpain, it's bittersweet to know you get what I'm talking about. I'm sorry, though, that you're on this journey with me, and I wish you all the luck and strength in the world. I'll definitely chat with him, again, about the OW. When he first re-committed to me, end of Jan, I actually asked him what he'd do if she contacted him the next day to start again. He said he just didn't know. It was honest, but it killed me. Since then, I've brought it up one other time, and he seems to realize that it was all a fantasy. They lived in separate states, texted/e-mailed, and were together only 4 times. It was not real. No way I could compete with that sort of unrealistic relationship. They never disciplined children together; she never sent him to the grocery store; she was always ready (4 times) to be intimate. Know what I mean?

Thanks! The advice and encouragement are SO wonderful. I've been going practically solo on this. No one but my two bffs and my IC knows. My ecclesiastical leader knows enough to have paid for our MC, but not everything. Family--neither side--knows anything. My sister knows he's now an atheist. They all have known he's a SA. Think more is damaging. If we don't make it, more will assuredly come out, but I don't want my boys to know about the SA and to think it's "inherited." Make sense? Keeping it secret has been an incredibly huge burden. Thanks for lightening it.

[This message edited by RippedSoul at 3:51 PM, July 27th (Saturday)]

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