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Have the Rules Really Changed For Ever?

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AFrayedKnot posted 10/23/2013 06:43 AM

My head has been a jumble for the last couple days. I have been looking at the consequences of infidelity and what is reasonable and what is not. Here is the story:

Monday morning my fWS accepted a gift from a guy we barely know. She runs into him much more than I do. We have only interacted with him once together. He would not be considered a FOTM, or even a friend for that matter. I believe the gift was a 100% innocent gesture. There are no gut feelings what so ever. But I still questioned it. Not in a specific way but in a general way of accepting gifts from people of the opposite sex. Do innocent interactions open the door to not so innocent interaction?

After an infidelity is there such thing as innocence? Are there grey areas? Are judgement calls allowed?

Every action, every reaction, every interaction is weighed and tainted by infidelity. Three of her four A's started in an innocent way. One of the PA's started specifically by accepting a gift from a casual acquaintance. I under reacted to so many red flags over the years due to trying to see the innocence in the situations. But at the same time I don't want to live in a state of hyper-vigilance and fear. I don't want to over react to everything.

devasted30 posted 10/23/2013 07:03 AM

I agree. No Gifts. End of story.

LivinginLimbo posted 10/23/2013 07:10 AM

My feelings are that if it makes you uncomfortable, it's off limits.

Blobette posted 10/23/2013 07:16 AM

Who are all of these men offering gifts to married women? I want to meet them!

Point being, I have never been offered a "gift" by a new acquaintance. (Although it's really hard to think about this without knowing what kind of gift it is.) It just seems odd to me that this is a routine occurance for her, and suggests that she is somehow making herself open to this. It's kind of like the thing where I don't get hit on -- not because I'm unattractive (I'm fairly confident that I am), but because I don't give off that "available" vibe. So I guess I'd be less worried about the gift than I am about why she's being offered them.

AFrayedKnot posted 10/23/2013 07:24 AM

Blobette- That is why there are no gut feelings. He makes jewelry and gives it away. I could name a dozen people men and women that he has given them to. There is nothing personal about him giving the gifts and in a normal situation there should be nothing wrong with accepting them.

But after an infidelity normal no longer exists. Or can it?

rachelc posted 10/23/2013 07:36 AM

We had this discussion at MC. He said we were bound to have screw ups going forward. I said there is no room for screw ups. He said there has to be... people are people, they make mistakes....

that said, what are the values you and your spouse are living. Instead of enforcing rules, could you ask yourself, "what does commitment look like?" And would that include accepting a gift from a person of the opposite sex?

Last year hubby and I were in Hawaii for our 25th. People kiss each other in greeting out there. A man kissed my cheek in greeting. I didn't do enough to stop it, according to hubby. I should anticipate things like this. It did give us something to talk about.... good luck!

lostworld posted 10/23/2013 07:47 AM

I understand and agree that hyper-vigilance is not a place that you want to live in permanently, and that your gut is not sending an alert that this guy is a current danger to your M. But, it simultaneously seems to me that your gut is telling you that this situation is not entirely healthy for your peace of mind, which to me says it's ultimately not healthy for your relationship, particularly since one of her A's began in a similar fashion.

I don't think it's an over-reaction to expect that behaviors that fall into a gray area, or unsettle the peace of mind of either partner should be eliminated, particularly when the events are so reminiscent of the painful past. Maybe this is an ideal time to redefine, clarify, or to simply remind one another of boundaries, and to fortify your M even beyond what you've already worked so hard to do.

And just my two cents, but I also don't know if innocence can be "re-captured" in a relationship once infidelity has made an appearance...I personally doubt it. That's not to say that love, honor, trust, etc. can't be restored and a wonderful M rebuilt, but innocence seems to me like an "all or nothing" concept. Hmm, as I further think about it, I wouldn't like my H receiving a gift from a female acquaintance who was not a friend of the M whether infidelity was a part of our history or not. So Chico, in my rambling way, I'd say the "rules" are now somewhat different, and I wouldn't like or feel at ease about the whole concept of this gift.

AFrayedKnot posted 10/23/2013 07:47 AM

Thanks Rachel-
We had a similar discussion months ago about hugs as a greeting. Through trial and error and categorizing different people as acceptable or unacceptable to hug, my fWS decided it needed to be a clear cut No Hugs rule. Grey areas got broader and broader over time until there was no distinction anymore. In that case at that time judgement calls failed.

ETA: Thank you for your perspective Lostworld, we cross posted.

[This message edited by Chicho at 7:51 AM, October 23rd (Wednesday)]

catlover50 posted 10/23/2013 07:50 AM

My H works in a profession where female clients treat him like God on a daily basis. They flatter him, give him gifts, make themselves available. I really didn't understand how much this was happening until after Dday. And he managed to resist all of the clients (it was a point of honor for him--I know, the irony!).

HE has to be the one enforcing the boundaries. I can't police him. Right now I am confident that he is. We have talked about boundaries with employees, which is where the problem started. Double entendre, joking, etc. He now keeps it completely professional. HE has to be affair proof. If he turns out not to be then I am gone, and I'll be okay.

So I don't obsess over it anymore. It's on him. He knows the consequences.

Chicho I think the gift was appropriate, but understand your concern. I think that even post-affair there are grey zones.

Raven96 posted 10/23/2013 08:05 AM

If this man gives jewelry away to both men and women, I can see why you didn't have a gut instinct about it. It was probably just that -- a gift.

That being said, it bothered you enough to ask a really good question. I don't think the rules have changed forever, I think it is more about trust between you and your fWS that is being built on a more solid foundation.

I think "normalcy" will return once you are far enough out from the A, but only you and your fWS can determine when that is. Unfortunately I don't think there is any given time frame, but time is what will heal things and help you (us) move on.

That being said, that's why boundaries are so important. She needs to know what you are and are not comfortable with and respect that. This gift of jewelry, albeit a unique circumstance, made you question things a little bit, so maybe gifts from members of the opposite sex are off limits. Do you have boundaries in place -- for both of you?

I think we will always question things due to the fact that we are in "self protection" mode. I think that those questions will become fewer and further between as time goes on. At least, that is my hope for all of us!!

AFrayedKnot posted 10/23/2013 09:15 AM

HE has to be affair proof. If he turns out not to be then I am gone, and I'll be okay.

So I don't obsess over it anymore. It's on him. He knows the consequences


I agree with not obsessing about it. But I don't agree with relinquishing all responsibility for each other. The person we lie to the most is ourselves. The beautiful thing about an intimate relationship is that we become each others eyes and ears. We can catch and point out each others justifications and rationalizations. Show each other areas that need work. That us what being a team is all about.

sisoon posted 10/23/2013 10:41 AM

Of course there are judgment calls, even after infidelity. You probably make them every day. For this guy, giving gifts is normal. For you, Broevil's accepting a gift is a trigger - and triggers are different.

Triggers are gut-level responses that are beyond one's control. There's no need to apologize for them, even though there's no really polite way to deal with them.

You solved the hug issue together. It sounds like this is another opportunity for team problem-solving.

ow gave my W lots of little gifts, and I ignored that. I have some understanding of what you're experiencing, and I don't think you're overreacting. I have to admit, though, that I think I'd respond* in a similar way.

* obsess a little, wonder if I were effed up over this, either post or decide it's OK to raise the issue, discuss with W....

[This message edited by sisoon at 10:42 AM, October 23rd (Wednesday)]

ionlytalkedtoher posted 10/23/2013 10:59 AM

well for me personally I wouldn't like any gifts from the opposite sex. It doesn't seem right to me--maybe to others its Ok but not me.

I also HATE the fake hugs and kisses of strangers and "friends". That has always been an issue for me since I met H. All his family and his friends and associates and everyone and his uncle and dog and whoever whatever They Hug and Kiss and its just too familiar for me. Like old girlfriends and ppl he dated once--they do the "ohhh its so nice to see you again!!!" KISS KISS, extra long kisssssss--on the lips, long hugs and cuddles. It makes me sick. And I hate when others in his friends world do it to me..I don't even know you! Get your lips away from me! LOL.

Seriously ewww.

and this why he has no understanding of boundaries.

karmahappens posted 10/23/2013 11:51 AM

Such an innocent gesture and so many hmmm's brought about by it.

I am not comfortable accepting gifts from anyone. I have a thing about "freebies" that make me uncomfortable.I don't like to "owe" anyone.

I agree with others though, I think right now you may want to adopt a no gift accepting boundary. Because one of her A's began this way whether or not he has ill intent isn't the issue. It's what dwells inside of your wife that matters.

IMO she/you are too soon out and too new into healing to just throw caution to the wind in an " I got this" kind of way.

Because it spurred questions I would come to a comfortable agreement between the two of you should it happen going forward.

I don't believe having boundaries equals hyper-vigilance. Creating new standards to live by can seem strange at first because it's new and you have to be aware of your actions,all the time it seems, but as you move along these new boundaries become second nature and are ingrained in who you both become. When becoming aware of yourself and your actions (herself/actions) it only makes you see the places where a mistep could cause a problem. Eventually the misteps are few and far between because you have become the you who lives within the boundaries you have created.

Damn...this makes no sense. lol Hopefully someone will understand what I meant.


Sorry to answer this question:

After an infidelity is there such thing as innocence? Are there grey areas? Are judgement calls allowed?

I say yes. Because you now have communication these areas are talked about and not hidden...pre dday I bet your wife wouldn't have told you about the gift. Now, going forward you share your experiences and make decisions as a team. It allows the two of you to talk about the greys rather than making them a secret. So, yeah, there are always grey areas and room for judgement calls.

Innocence? I don't know if I would say that, but trust comes back. You won't be living under microscopes forever, you won't have to.

[This message edited by karmahappens at 11:59 AM, October 23rd (Wednesday)]

catlover50 posted 10/23/2013 14:09 PM


I agree with you over watching each other. My H now tends to invite me to work events and I have pointed some things out to him. In the past he would have bristled, but now he thanks me and readjusts. (An example--they are playing a party game with balls and one young woman starts in with the "ball" references and he reciprocates. I say boundaries and he agrees. That helps him become more selfaware). And you are right that before I wouldn't have said anything, but I would have felt uncomfortable.

I just no longer worry what's going on when I'm not there. Too crazy making.

Bikingguy posted 10/23/2013 16:09 PM

I think a result/consequence of an A is a different set of rules.

Case in point a male coworker asked WW out to lunch. They do not work i the same group and have no work reason for this. It was also clear even prior to D day that he was hitting on her. We discussed this in MC and the counselor said matter of fact "this is something you no longer get to do" I really like our MC
WW response was "He is Med" I almost feel out of my chair laughing, and I think WW realized how stupid that comment sounded.

Even if I feel comfortable with her being around other men alone, just to make it easier (OK and maybe a little as punishment) she does not do that anymore.

I never had a problem with WW wanted to spend time with OM as I thought he was "just a friend" and also considered him a friend of the M. Clearly I am a horrible judge of character, both about OM and WW. So to make it easier, YES the rules have changed, and WW has zero problems with that.

I have even offered to apply the same rules to me, but she doesn't think I should be punished.

sri624 posted 10/23/2013 18:12 PM

no gifts, period. those days are over. and after being cheated on, who wants to play that game...wondering if it was innocent or not.

nobody does.

no gifts, no friends of the opposite sex...its over. none of way.

i am a married woman, and i wouldnt feel comfortable giving another married man a present. would you? if i were the wife, i would be thinking...why did she give my h a gift?

just keep all the crap out of the m....NOTHING is innocent anymore after yoru spouse has sex with other people.

if he wants to accept gifts from other women, get another m.
those are the "rules" in my m.

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