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Does it ever feel worth it for the BS

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Never2btrusted posted 8/31/2013 19:01 PM

Im brand new here, but very thankful to have found this site. Being new, I don't know all the abbreviations, so please be patient. My story... I am the cheater. I had an affair with a woman from work 14 years ago. The affair lasted for a year and during that time I lied constantly to my wife. It took a long time, but I came to the realization that I was going against everything I once had stood for, so I ended the affair and have never contacted the woman since. I don't know if it was because she loved me, she needed me, or if she didn't know what else to do, but my wife excepted my apology and we began to work on rebuilding our marriage. I have tried to be everything i could , a provider, a friend, a understanding husband when the intimacy stopped, a supported, since coming back to the relationship. As I said, it has been 14 years and while I knew my wife wasn't happy with me and our life , I had no idea just how much rage she had until our anniversary one year ago. That was the day she told me she hated me that she never would trust me again and that there were times she wished I would have never come back because all I did was destroy the family. She had pleaded with me to come back when I was having the affair. If not for her commitment to our family and preserving it I would have destroyed it, and yet now she says she wishes I would have never come back because she is broken, she can't trust me and she doubts that will ever change.

I have read the posts of people on both sides of the affair. I have read the post of people who stayed, who left, who are trying, and who just found out. I have yet to read from anyone who expresses any joy for staying. I have yet to hear from anyone who expresses that thier life is fuller for staying with the spouse who cheated.

I love my wife. She is my life. The thought of her slowly dying inside over these past 14 years makes my chest burn. The thought that she would stay miserable with me because she was afraid of the unknown kills me.

So here's my question, is there anyone who can say that they picked up all the pieces, put their marriage together, and that their life is so much fuller than before? That the memories they have are cherished and don't seem like frauds. That it was worth it. That the trust is 100 percent there all the time. If your out there, what did your cheating spouse do to help you both get to this point? Any feed back would be appreciated

doesitgetbetter posted 8/31/2013 19:35 PM

A pretty loaded post, but I'll do my best.

First, welcome.

I would ask what kind of work your BW (betrayed wife) and yourself have done to heal from this? Was there any counseling for either of you? Weekend retreats? Libraries full of books that were read and worked through?

I am almost 6 years from DDay (that is the day that an affair is usually found out by the BS or betrayed spouse). Since DDay, my H (husband) has been an open book. He has been honest about every question I have asked him about the details of his A's (affairs), about his whereabouts, about his feelings, etc. etc. He has done MC (marriage counseling), IC (individual counseling), we've read and worked through several books together, we've done weekend retreats, follow up's to the retreats, we've even done some therapy at home with books and workbooks on our own time. We've spent thousands of hours talking about his infidelity and all the feelings and pains and loss that came from it. We've spent lots of time reconnecting, learning each other, becoming better people together, and making our marriage what we've always dreamed it would be.

I am glad I stayed. I am glad I stayed because of how strong and steadfast my H is and how much work he's done on himself to make me feel safe that infidelity will likely never happen again in our marriage. I trust my H, but not 100%. That kind of trust is "blind trust", blind trust is lost on DDay and, IMO (in my opinion) it's foolish to ever blindly trust someone who has proven that they are not trustworthy in the past. So today, the trust that I have for my H is the "trust but verify" trust. This is where I trust what he's saying 99% of the time, and the other 1% I decide to check and make sure his actions are matching his words. And he is happy that he has that much trust.

I feel like my life has not been a fraud, I do not feel like my H's life hasn't been though. I feel like my memories were always real to me, and that was what mattered. Even though they weren't real to my H, that is his cross to bear. But I have also done lots of IC, MC, weekend retreats, etc, to get to this place as well. If we hadn't done any work, I would likely feel the same way your BW does, only I wouldn't have stayed for more than a few months.

So, back to the first question.... what have you two done to heal from this? That's the biggest thing.

StillWhy posted 8/31/2013 20:09 PM


I am the betrayed spouse, and I can identify with a lot of your wife’s emotions. My wife had her affair 10 years ago.

You ask a lot of good questions and I, unfortunately, cannot answer them. How a BS deals with marital infidelity is a deeply personal choice. It’s not one that you or I can understand very easily.

I will answer your questions myself. It may give you some insight on a way to open a dialog with your wife about her feelings in regards to your questions.

“...Is there anyone who can say that they picked up all the pieces, put their marriage together, and that their life is so much fuller than before?”

I know for me there was no picking up the pieces. There was a starting over, if you can even call it that. It’s more accurate to say that my life is split into two parts: pre-affair and post-affair. There are positives and negatives on both sides. I do not consider either to be better, but for certain, I wish the affair had not happened. There were more cases of cheating later that I entirely hid from, and did not even process till recently, so that is also affecting the pre/post analogy I laid out before. I do certainly wish that I had the wife, “I knew” back then. I put that in quotes because let’s face facts; cheaters hide an entire part of themselves from their spouses. It’s that visible part of the old spouse that we hunger for, the one that was true and did not hurt us. That old spouse is dead, however and I think that a lot of us BS’s have a really hard time letting that person go. It would be like if your wife was suddenly killed, the grief is just that much more intense.

As far as being a fuller life than before, that’s a bit of a loaded question. In a flat response, sure it’s fuller. It now includes grief, and sorrow. I’m sure that’s not the meaning that you had in mind. Yes, we go on to make more happy memories, but we also know that there is the shadow of the infidelity there. That kind of leads into your next question:

“That the memories they have are cherished and don't seem like frauds”

The memories are not frauds. They are just as real as any other memory of something that happened. Here’s the catch… Those really nice memories of the day spent at the park with the kids or the romantic evening out are just as real as the memories of the emotional trauma of the affair. It is I think a bit presumptuous of a WS to think that a BS will just “forget” all the bad memories and just remember the good ones. Those bad ones are now just as much a part of your shared story as the good ones.

“That the trust is 100 percent there all the time”

This is very unlikely to happen. Your wife is never going to be comfortable if you are close to another female that is not related. (I don’t mean physically close, like a friend) A lot of married couples have opposite gender friends that they can talk to, but due to the WS’s poor boundaries, BS’s and WS’s generally can’t have those kinds of relationships without the worry. That’s also just part of the deal.

I saved this one for last:

“That it was worth it.”

Again, this goes back to the highly personal choice thing again. To some “it” was worth it and to others it will never be worth “it”. Some BS’s have other reasons besides the WS to stay. These reasons are just as valid as staying for the WS themselves. For a moment, if you put your affair out of your mind and imagine that your wife had strayed, would it be “worth” it to you? Ask yourself that before you ask your wife.

On a more personal note, you mention that your wife had to fight to bring you back. That is probably the single most damaging thing a BS can do to themselves. It leaves a lot of questions about their personal worth and their worth to you. These questions can linger for a long time. When the BS has to “fight” for the WS and the WS comes back, a lot of us are left feeling like a “second” choice. Unfortunately, there is not a lot the WS is going to be able to do years down the road to assuage those feelings in the BS.

Well, I’m sure a lot of people will heavily disagree with me on this, but I thought I would share what I thought.

Good luck.

Never2btrusted posted 8/31/2013 20:48 PM

Doesitgetbetter, to answer your question, we had some couseling 14 years ago but not much. Since I worked with the woman I quit my job, sold our house, and moved to another town. In hindsight, I just wanted my old life back so badly that I did just as many reckless things after the affair as I did during it all in the name of "starting over, starting fresh". What a total lack of reality I had. My wife started seeing a couselor and a physiatrist about two years ago. Her couselor has been great for her. My wife has found a voice she never knew she had. She is standing up for what she wants, she is speaking her mind. She is trying to become healthy and I'm proud of her for that. I started seeing a therapist about nine months ago. He has helped me to see that while I am physically here and while I show my love by "doing" whatever is asked of me, I have never emotionally made myself available. I feel the guilt of my lying and cheating every day, but it was only recently that I have been able to feel the pain that I inflicted. 14 years, and I never once put myself in her shoes. The sad thing is, if she had cheated on me, I'm not sure I'm emotionally invested enough to have felt it. My brain would have calculated the support payments, the rent, the bills verified that she would be taken care of, that I would be taken care of, and I would have moved on. I'm not a cold robot. I'm not a narcissist , but I do rationalize more than feel.

One of the things I'm really struggling with now is learning how to become emotionally available (vulnerable) to my wife. My brain says "why is she here?" "she's all but told you that she's done", "probably will be gone once our 16 year olds are gone", but my heart tells me "the only hope I have to save this marriage is to fully offer myself".

I just want her to be happy. No one should live with the pain she carries. I'm a constant reminder of that pain.
I just can't wrap my brain around it. If being with me makes her so sad and trusting me seems like it will never happen, why stay? I ask her this question and she says that's my way of getting out. Nothing could be further from the truth. I want this marriage, I want her, but I want her to find happiness more.

I guess that's why I first posted. The first 14 years was just an incubating time for all the hurt and pain. Now this past year is the yelling and crying that is 14 years past due, except it also has the added sting for her of realizing she's with me and has no idea why.

I appreciate you sharing your story, I'm happy for you. It just feels like the last 14 years was for nothing. No healing, no progress, no marriage. I don't want my wife or myself to go another 14 years and have it be for nothing as well just because we don't know what else to do.

Never2btrusted posted 8/31/2013 21:04 PM


Thank you for your response. You shared so much of the same things my wife has shared. She does feel like she was the "second choice", I hear that I came back because I had no other options. This is not true. I could have started a new life, it actually would have been easier because then I would not of had to face up to what I had done. My older kids knew, my parents, her family. I wanted her, I wanted my family. She was never second best. I was just lost, I don't know who that person was, but in her eyes the old me died and that lying cheating me took over. Now nothing I say reassures her because if I lied about the affair, I can lie about anything. Even wanting to be with her.

I tell her i would never do anything to hurt her or the family and she responds by telling me that I have in the past, so how can she believe me. I use to say "but that was the past" I've learned that is the wrong response. But I don't understand why. Yes, I have lied, I have cheated, I have run her down to others to justify what I was doing, I have hid financial daa from her to hide what I was doing, I had not treated her as an equal, I made her feel less than. Yeas, I did all of this. I have just this
past year began to "feel" how this hurt her, but I have not done those things for over a decade. How come she can use them in present tense, how come I can't say that they were in the past. If she only refers to them in the present tense because the pain still feels like it just happened, when does it become something from the past for her?

I am by no means suggesting that "she should get over it", I would never say that to anyone who had experienced that kind of pain, but I would like to see it as something of our past instead of it being US.

TxsT posted 8/31/2013 21:32 PM

Wow...another incredible thread....thank you all for bring so open and honest. As a RBS of only a year some of your points have made me stop and think about our journey.

At this point in time, and I am learning that it is still a very early part of this journey, I have to say that in many ways I am accepting of this direction our M has taken only in that it has released us from the bondage of a fallow marriage. You know those kind....all exterior happiness and no substance deep down at its heart. I hated living in that type of marriage we had. I knew it needed to change but I sure wasn't prepared for this type of reason!!!

Recently I have really been trying to understand my RWH pain and shame in this situation. He has destroyed his own belief in himself through his A and is floundering to figure out just what he really wants to be. What he thought he was isn't quite right anymore.

For now my journey into R and my direction feels worth it. I have been mostly happy with my H's progress and his willingness to overcome this adversity and to learn about himself in ways he never wanted to do. He is sincere and shamed and disgusted....but is that really enough for me?

Another post tonight talked about avoidance and I am wondering if my husbands actions are just a way of avoiding the worse consequences he would feel if he wasn't doing them.

I am sure that, over the next year of this odyssey I will have a different feeling about the direction and strength of our R. It seems like year 2 is when reality sets in, the reality that the mountain is so much higher then anyone ever imagined. My hubby has seemed to dig his heels in for the long run. I commend him because if I ever start feeling differently I am going to stop waisting all is valuable energy I have been putting into this R and go on without e extra nasty baggage my H now brings to our table. It is his baggage to bring but it is not mine to keep if I so wish.

Thank you again for posting. It will be interesting what the future will bring.


[This message edited by TxsT at 9:34 PM, August 31st (Saturday)]

doesitgetbetter posted 8/31/2013 22:00 PM

Emotionally unavailable. Get to Retrouvaille asap! It's a weekend retreat, it changed my H's life, literally. Check it out. And start doing the work, now. You know you still have some time, although not much. It's never too late to work on the issues.

ccw82 posted 8/31/2013 22:32 PM

Never2btrusted, I can tell you that one of the best things my WH (Wayward Husband) and I do together is come to this website. The peer-to-peer counseling we've received has been eye opening for both of us, and I can tell you that I had my foot already out the door when I accidentally stumbled upon this site. It has saved our M (marriage) for the moment. So I encourage you to continue posting and reading in the forums.

My WH and I have roller coaster days. Earlier this week we had three great days followed by two horrific days, but the last two days have been good. The closest to "normal" they've been since our D-Day 2 1/2 months ago. He has learned from other WSs on this site on how to cope with my triggers, as well as his own. While I can't say that we are officially in R (reconciliation), we are trying, and it's days like today that make me feel like we're worth it.

TxsT posted 8/31/2013 23:20 PM

Ccw. I have read some of your husbands posts. It is good to see you do this together. My RWH actually read one of my posts for the first time and I felt like it was a huge breakthrough!


alphakitte posted 8/31/2013 23:34 PM

One of the things I'm really struggling with now is learning how to become emotionally available (vulnerable) to my wife. My brain says "why is she here?" "she's all but told you that she's done", "probably will be gone once our 16 year olds are gone", but my heart tells me "the only hope I have to save this marriage is to fully offer myself".

Your brain is wrong, your heart is right. It is your only hope. Time is wasting.

5454real posted 8/31/2013 23:56 PM

It seems that I keep coming back to this. Maybe I'm just at this bridge myself, but *What if it's not enough?*. What if after all is said and done, she does leave when the kids come of age? Who will you be?

I ask that in order to find out what work you have done on yourself. Independent of her or the marriage. Are you proud of yourself and your actions?(Post A) If you met your W today, what would the attraction be? Kids, finances and all the extraneous details aside, why would she want to be with you? What do you offer to her to help her better herself?

No offence meant at all. Just something to ponder.

summerain posted 9/1/2013 01:13 AM

I have read some posts by old members who drop by and say how much better their life is now (as a BS and still married).

These provided me with great hope, but I would caution against taking it completely to heart as you are two unique individuals and have your own relationship.

I know this may not be the response you want but, I think it is crueler to say 'oh yes in a few years it will be all better'. Because although that is entirely possible, everyone has their own individual thresholds etc.

But it is entirely possible

ETA: how long has your wife known? Was this entirely out of the blue, or upon reflection the rage has been their a while? I think there may be a precipitating factor if she has known for a long time.

[This message edited by lauren123 at 1:15 AM, September 1st (Sunday)]

RidingHealingRd posted 9/1/2013 02:04 AM

~I have never emotionally made myself available.
~14 years, and I never once put myself in her shoes
~She does feel like she was the "second choice"
~I have just this past year began to "feel" how this hurt her

I realize that it has been 14 years but reading this ^^^ I can see why your BW is still in so much pain.

It sounds as if you lacked the empathy needed to show your BW the compassion she deserved. Without compassion for her suffering I am not sure you could truly be motivated to help her. However, it seems as things have changed and you now "get it".

My WH often would say that he saw the pain in my eyes. I know for certain that he understood how deeply he hurt me, our M, and our children. He committed to do anything and everything to fix it, and has worked daily to do just that.

It was his actions, not his words, that helped rebuild our M, to help ease the hurt, to lessen the tremendous hate and intense rage I had for him.

I tell her i would never do anything to hurt her or the family

^^^If, after 14 years, she does not believe this it is because your actions have not convinced her.

As a WS you need to work extremely hard, every single day to show your BS that they are your #1 priority. That you are the changed person that he/she deserves.

You must have tremendous dedication, understanding, and patience for R to be successful.

So here's my question, is there anyone who can say that they picked up all the pieces, put their marriage together, and that their life is so much fuller than before?

1) As a BS it was not my job to pick up all the pieces.

2) As a BS it was not my job to put my M together.

Witnessing my WH strong desire, and more importantly his actions to accomplish this....that is what made it worth it for me.

Given the betrayal I could never say that my life post dday is fuller. My M is certainly stronger, and in many ways improved but sadly it is forever tarnished by infidelity.

As for trust: only a fool would trust a WS 100%.

I wish peace for the hurt that resides in your BW heart. I wish you the strength to help her heal.

so_lost posted 9/1/2013 09:21 AM

I don't think the last 14 years have been a waste. I think recovering from an affair can be cyclic and not always an upward climb.

I'm 8 years out from my FWH's affair. We went through a stressful, emotional year and I sunk back into the hurt and pain of his affair. I questioned whether or not I made the right decision in staying. I, too, hated him at times. Now with two kids I'm not going to leave. I decided I needed help. I've started IC and running again. Both have helped me tremendously. It's taken me 6 months to start to get out of my slump so be patient. Give your wife time to process and heal...recovering from an affair lasts a lifetime.

Don't say things like "why stay?" My FWH asks me that when the chips are down and it just makes me feel he can't handle my pain and will flee if it goes on for an extended period of time. You need to make her feel safe.

Another way to make her feel safe is by sharing your emotions with her. I applaud you for working on this!!! Talk about your stressors at work. Share one of your triggers with her. Maybe try to start sharing something daily with her. This has made all the difference in my recovery. For so long I felt like I was doing the work for both of us. I would share my emotions and then I'd basically pull them out of him. I feel like I helped him figure out the why's of the affair. After awhile it made me resentful. Why should I have to put so much hard work into recovering from something I didn't even create!

It's time for you to fight for her just as she fought for you so many years ago. Share yourself with her. (This might not feel natural or pleasant for you but you have to do it and it will get easier with time). Romance her. Love her. And expect nothing in return.

sisoon posted 9/1/2013 17:58 PM

It sounds like you 'rugswept'. 14 years ago, if you asked an expert how to recover from infidelity, I suspect the answer you would have gotten was 'Sweep it all under the rug. Just forgive and move on.'

If you want to R, you have to go through 3 healings: 1) you heal yourself; 2) your W heals herself; 3) together, you heal your M.

Your healing consists of making changes and facing your own pain.

Your W's consists of facing the grief, anger, and fear that goes with being betrayed, figuring out what she wants from her/your M, and working to get what she wants. It sounds like she started her healing with this round of IC. As ugly as it is for you, it's worse for her - but she can get through it and thrive.

A couple of suggestions: 1) invite her to join SI - it's almost guaranteed to help her; 2) familiarize yourself with the '5 love languages' - I suspect you have different primary LLs, which makes your W miss the significance of what you've done to rebuild the M.

It's possible that she still mistrusts you because you haven't changed enough. IMO, it's also possible she mistrusts you because she's so stuck in the pain of being betrayed that she just can't see that you've changed. 5LL work could help that, and could her IC, your IC, MC....

Why in heaven's name do you expect to be trusted 100%? IMO, trusting 100% is a problem - everyone can betray someone else, even your W. Love. Trust a lot, but not 100%.

My W started her A 3 years and 3 weeks ago. Neither of us is completely healed, and our R is not complete, but I believe our M is good again and will continue to get better. Recovery has been horrible but it no longer seems like our whole life.

Your W won't heal unless she chooses to, and I hope she does - it's almost a guaranteed win

BTW, some of the most insightful and encouraging voices on SI are former WSes. I am very grateful to them for the help they given me.

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