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Me thinks thou doth protest too much

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Wonderingwhy11 posted 8/13/2013 18:46 PM

Yesterday I walked into the bedroom and WH quickly closed his laptop. I asked him why he closed his laptop when I entered the room and he said he was done and I happened to walk into the room at the same time. I told him I thought his behavior was odd and asked what was he doing on the laptop? He said reading the news. I told him it reminded me of his behavior during the A when he guarded his phone. He said he wasn’t doing anything and the laptop doesn’t have his email access and I said of course it does if you have internet access. Instead of saying I understand why this bothers you he tries to reassure me with statements like “I can’t being doing anything here because you would find out “ which is upsetting since the OW lived several states away and they met on out of town trips. His other statements are “You have access to everything” which I know he could easily get a disposable phone or create another e-mail account. There are ways to go underground. He says I could tell by his behavior which is true. His behavior is much better – he is calm and seems content at work and at home - than before and during the A.

I feel when I point out a behavior that reminds of the past and the A he chooses to defend instead of stopping and saying I can see why you think that and I am sorry. We have talked about this in MC and the MC says he needs to learn not resort to his instinct to put the armor on and defend. This is a FOO issue and related to his upbringing – most of his family is very defensive or extremely passive.

I am willing to work on R as long as he continues to work on the problems we had before the A. This area in MC has taken a long time to work through. But after all this time why does he still defend? My first reaction is he is hiding something instead of thinking well this is a natural response for him – like I used to think. Then I think defensiveness is something he is aware of and why is he still automatically defending. And so the rollercoaster and pendulum of thoughts continue.

Has anyone else experienced this?

TimeToManUp posted 8/13/2013 21:37 PM

I don't have any advice, but as the WS spouse, I may be able to provide a little insight. I know that it took me a long time... Scratch that. WAY TOO LONG for me to finally drop my defenses. Anytime TCD would start to trigger or vent, my defenses would go up, and more often than not her trigger would devolve into an argument about how I can't do anything right, how everything will always be my fault, etc. what it really came down to is that I have an incredible hypersensitivity to criticism. The thing is, for me anyway, that my defensiveness would increase in intensity the more I stood to lose in the situation. For example, if I am at work and someone tells me that I forgot to perform a test, or I missed a step in a procedure, it will bother me. I mean really, an ability to handle (constructive) criticism is something everyone should develop, but how many people really LIKE to be criticized? In this case, though, it doesn't bother me very much because I know that I am in the union and it's going to take much more than that to cause any serious ramifications in my life.

With TCD, these criticisms carry a much higher stake. These things that are wrong with me, if not fixed, carry the very painful and very real possibility of losing my family as I know it. To compound the problem, my hypersensitivity would lead to things that really were not direct criticisms of me being taken as such. And once the defenses went up, the battle was ready to begin.

I finally seem to have things under control, but I don't have any real tips on how to bring that defensiveness under control. I just do my best to listen to TCD when she is triggering or venting or whatever and remind myself that she is just letting out her feelings. One of my coworkers said to me once "She doesn't hate you, she hates what you did." If I am able to keep this though in mind, it helps me to remember that she does love me and she does want to be here, so takes your lumps when necessary, speak when appropriate, but never get angry.

Sorry for the long-windedness... I get it from my wind-bag of a father.

tigrislilium posted 8/13/2013 22:26 PM


WHOA. What you just said:
"...and more often than not her trigger would devolve into an argument about how I can't do anything right, how everything will always be my fault, etc." EXACTLY the wording my WH uses when I trigger or have ANY criticism (even stupid little things like "please remember to keep the toilet closed so the dogs don't drink from it"). It is SPOOKY to me how you said it verbatim.

The fact that you understand that overreaction and you are trying to compensate for that personality trait gives me hope that maybe one day my own WH will figure out for himself what you figured out: "...what it really came down to is that I have an incredible hypersensitivity to criticism. The thing is, for me anyway, that my defensiveness would increase in intensity the more I stood to lose in the situation."

Thanks for sharing that.


My WH used to be the same way, but he's working on accepting that this new wife he has is the product of HIS making. I NEVER used to be a prying, suspicious woman - and THAT'S how he got away with that shit for 5 years.

I would let every buzz on his phone be what he told me it was - a text about work or from a family member or a client... I would let every client trip away or in the "big city" near us be exactly what he told me it was - just boys gettin' rowdy and bonding.

It's not right that your WH's not accepting that this is the "new, NOT-SO-NAIVE" wife that HE CREATED with his choice to be unfaithful. He should accept and be ready for your now highly-attuned senses, and be ready, WILLING and able to set your mind at ease.

I have pounded into my WH's head for months and months that if he doesn't like the wife his lies and theft created in me, then he can walk away anytime. He hasn't... yet...


Wonderingwhy11 posted 8/14/2013 15:20 PM

TTMU - Thank you for providing from your perspective. It is helpful - especially when WH struggles to explain his reactions. I do see WH is trying and I do realize it is hard to change life long reactions. WH and I both had very critical mothers and I understand the hypersensitivity emotions. I find it interesting how we both react so different to criticism. We had a very good MC session today and talked about his defensiveness to my triggers and talked about what I need to start understanding and he needs to understand where I am at. It is has been hard long work and there is still more work to do. We are trying to rebuild our marriage and not slip back to the old marriage. It takes a lot of work to accomplish this.

[This message edited by Wonderingwhy11 at 3:23 PM, August 14th (Wednesday)]

Wonderingwhy11 posted 8/14/2013 15:45 PM

Tigris - I was the same - it never occurred to me WH would have an A. I never looked through his phone, emails, car or his office. I told him in MC that I am gone to opposite extreme and look for any sign of an A. WH didn't like this "new" behavior and for about a year he pushed my limits until I said I am done. I feel he wanted to go back to how it was before the A and I told him I couldn't do that. I feel he wanted what was comfortable for him and gave him what he wanted. This last year has been better and now he says he understands why I react but I feel he has been fighting changing his behavior for the sake of a "new" marriage. It has been one hell of a dance. I feel in the last few months he has accepted it is going to take longer than he expected to rebuild trust.

It is slowly getting better. I have learned to be true to myself, letting go of the anger and acceptance. But we both still have our moments of slipping back to old patterns.

BeyondBreaking posted 8/14/2013 15:58 PM

I would have demanded that he open the laptop and show me the news story he was reading.

There is no reason that he needs to be defensive about triggers- in my experience, it is the defensiveness about triggers when they are hiding and covering something up. When I trigger, WH used to get moody, tell me I was being ridiculous and that I should trust him, etc... He was usually hiding something that I found out about later. Now? WH is sympathetic and apologetic when I trigger. If I ask, he will show me whatever right away without getting defensive or trying to hide or telling me I am being stupid. It's part of R.

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