Things have been going really well for us, until a conversation last night that makes me more and more disheartened the more I think about it.
We had planned in advance to spend time talking about what a great marriage looks like for each of us. I was looking forward to the conversation as I'm eager to build our new marriage post-A. We got off to a good start last night, but fWH quickly shared that my insecurity about his love for me - when expressed in emotional and upset ways - is a huge barrier for him in supporting me. It just causes him to shut down.
He went on to say that he's been trying hard to speak my love language, but that I seem to expect perfection and that I want our marriage to be all better, now. He shared that this makes him feel like it's hopeless - that no matter what he does, he's failing, and that he'll never live up to my expectations. He just wants us to get back to a place where our love and our life together is easy.
My surface reaction was that this isn't easy - it's hard, it takes work, and that he needs to put in the effort. Great marriages look easy but require lots of continued nurturing and investment. I also felt that he didn't respect my needs or convey much willingness to support me. The irony is that he's been feeling really great about the path we're on and how we are rebuilding.
If I put the above aside, however, I suspect that he's feeling a ton of shame for all that has happened, a sense of failure for having the affair and the pain he's cause me, and bewilderment and anxiety about knowing how to help me and help us. He's expressed all of those things at various times, so I am pretty confident that all of these frustrations and emotions he's directing at me are really about his own sense of failure and shame. That's reassuring in a lot of ways - if he didn't feel those negative emotions about what he's done, I'd wonder if he was a decent human being - but I don't know to help him get past this.
Things have been really good for the past few weeks, and overall he's been working on R in all the right ways. So it was hard to hear what sounded like a lot of backsliding last night. Chalk it up to a bad night? What can I do to acknowledge his sense of failure and reassure him, without ignoring my own needs or letting him off the hook in the work he needs to do?