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What should I do when I'm being externally defined?

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KBeguile posted 11/5/2013 15:19 PM

External Definition, noun: When the BS informs the WS of what the WS is thinking, how the WS is behaving, or what the WS is saying when the BS is not present and/or the BS can provide no proof of his/her claims. In other words, "putting words into your mouth."

More succinctly, I have been dealing with claims of, "I JUST KNOW that you're laughing behind my back," and "What makes you think YOU CAN CONTINUE TO GET AWAY WITH THIS?" which necessarily implies I'm doing something that I'm "getting away with," even if there's no proof.

It is a logical fallacy that the conversation/argument starts from (namely, that I am somehow enjoying this series of events, or that I'm still "getting away with" things that my BS is just unable to prove. It presupposes that I don't feel guilty for what I've done, that I haven't made any changes to my core being, and that nothing has changed in any way and I am (somehow) the same exact person I was before all of these events disrupted my BS's life.

Logically, Heart is well aware I'm not doing anything amiss, that I've suffered and I feel terribly for what I have done, and that I have done everything in my power to keep our family together and functional. The problems arise when her emotions overpower her logic and she begins to hurl accusations at me as though this last year never even happened.

What should I do in these cases? I can't argue logically, and if I just listen, she gets angry that I'm not talking. I feel that not arguing with her on some level justifies everything she says, even though I deserve to be able to defend myself.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

painfulpast posted 11/5/2013 15:57 PM

I deserve to be able to defend myself.

BS here

gently, I disagree with your wording. I think you deserve to be able to help ease your wife's fears. That is what these are - fears, and they are based, I assume, on your past behavior? If so, she is not out of her mind, she is skeptical, and hurt, very very hurt. These accusations are really her hurt spilling out. Please understand that.

So for suggestions? I would very calmly (but not in any way that could be considered condescending) tell her that you understand why she has these fears, and you are very sorry for her ever having to have these thoughts, and you know it is because of your actions. Tell her that you are committed to her and your family, and that you want her to know that you are not continuing an A, or laughing at her. Then ask if there is anything you can do to help ease her fears.

Good luck. I'm sure these situations are very hard. Unfortunately, with deep betrayals come deep insecurities. Just stay strong for her sake.

Unagie posted 11/5/2013 16:06 PM

KBeguile, I am getting the sense lately from your posts that you are coming to a breaking point. While you seem to ultimately be looking for help dealing, it also seems like you have no idea why Heart would be acting this way, and it is constantly a want to defend yourself as if what happened prior to this past year never happened. I dislike quoting time frames but sometimes they help to set a reminder of how long healing can take, 2-5 yrs, are you prepared?

The problems arise when her emotions overpower her logic and she begins to hurl accusations at me as though this last year never even happened.

You realize that logic and emotions have a real hard time coexisting sometimes? Heart is in pain, raw pain, one yr of fidelity, honesty and caring DOES NOT erase all the times you cheated, lied and did not care. It does not erase that she had to go through infidelity to gain a kind caring husband, it does not erase her pain. I am actually pretty surprised, you seemed to be in for the long haul but this post wreaks of me me me me me, what about me in a way that tells me you see Heart's pain but can't she see me logically changed!? No she sees you as the man who ripped out her heart and stomped on it, so there will be anger and hurt and pain to handle whether you see it as rational or logical or not. Suck it up and deal with the fact that YOU caused this and now SHE has to deal with it.

pointofnoreturn posted 11/5/2013 19:01 PM

I don't know if there's much you can do. Anecdotal evidence pinpoints that you have a great chance of actually doing those things.

Calmly explain your side. Apologize that you had a hand in making her feel this way. I don't think you should be a doormat, but I think you can explain your position without having to have it be a debate over whether or not you laughed behind her back or not.

"I'm not laughing behind your back. I'm sorry if I made you feel that way, and I know you have a good reason why. But I'm telling you the truth when I say I'm not laughing at you."

I don't know how she'd respond, but I think it could help in acknowledging her pain and how you caused it rather than just arguing "did not!"

Card posted 11/5/2013 20:00 PM

So for suggestions? I would very calmly (but not in any way that could be considered condescending) tell her that you understand why she has these fears, and you are very sorry for her ever having to have these thoughts, and you know it is because of your actions. Tell her that you are committed to her and your family, and that you want her to know that you are not continuing an A, or laughing at her. Then ask if there is anything you can do to help ease her fears.

Great advice!

What a beautiful picture of love and care!

[This message edited by Card at 8:00 PM, November 5th (Tuesday)]

KBeguile posted 11/5/2013 20:27 PM

painfulpast & Unagie
I didn't mean it as an instigation. I'm certainly not looking to pick a new fight, because I know my actions have already caused this one. I watch her suffer in silence every day, trying to keep a stiff upper lip and survive the punishment I've delivered into her life.

My only objection is when she accuses me of doing things I am not doing and informs me of the things that I am saying and thinking. I'm not allowed to put words into her mouth or tell her what she's allowed to think or pretend to understand what she's going through, so why does she get to do that to me?

I think I am doing this. I do acknowledge her pain when it comes up, and I try to never make light of her suffering. As you say, though, I do feel like a doormat sometimes, because I try to be exceptionally careful of how I choose my words with her (obviously, I'm not as choosy with my words here - guh).

gonnabe2016 posted 11/5/2013 20:37 PM

KB -- she.doesn' You have proven by your past actions that you will be *one way* in front of her and *another* way behind her back. Plain and simple. It is way too soon for you to expect her to just *take your word for it* that you aren't doing/thinking whatever it is she thinks you are. Perhaps, when she's saying that she knows that you are laughing at could ask her *why?* she thinks that instead of telling her that she doesn't know what she's talking about. (and before you tell me that you've never told her that -- you don't have to say the words to give off that attitude....which is glaringly obvious in your posted words)

More empathy, patience and understanding, KB.

GotMyLifeBck2013 posted 11/5/2013 20:40 PM

She is, actually quite logical. 1. She's trying to understand your entire relationship in a totally new context. 2. She's trying to understand what kind of person you are, considering you basically threw a nuclear bomb into her life. 3. She wants to trust, but she got demolished for trusting you, so you cant be defensive or it will reinforce that there is something else happening. 4. You made an emotional and physical connection with someone outside your marriage. She still has questions, concerns, doubts, etc. because you know you discussed your wife/marriage/life with your ap. So she's looking for some hope that the twisted actions that led to the affair are behind you and she can start to reestablish faith in your fidelity.
Give it another year. Then get frustrated.

Unagie posted 11/5/2013 21:08 PM

KBeguile I feel like I need to clarify this. Your post is not about Heart and how you can handle her current emotional state to make it so you're listening to her and providing for her. Your post reads this is unfair to ME, she is not trusting me and it is unfair to ME, she is putting words in my mouth and matching me to actions I did not perform and this is unfair to ME. Yes Heart is angry, yes she accuses you of things that you do not want to be accused of especially because you feel you've done so much work but look at your profile, her last DDay was 2 months ago KB, each DDay sets the clock back, removes the trust built, so stop looking at it as if it's bee a year because to her it's been a couple months since your last lie.

I am not saying this to dishearten you, I am saying this to make you come to a realization that you need to stop needing to be defensive and start listening to her and doing what is necessary to reassure her ALL the time, not only when she's being nice to you but when she's angry and accusatory as well. So she accuses you and your immediate response is to defend yourself instead of figuring out why she is saying this and what you can do to make it so that's not the conclusion she jumps to. KB I am not telling you to become a doormat or to take her accusations with a bowed head and meek acceptance, but rather to actually listen to her and not immediately need to defend but rather diffuse and communicate.

painfulpast posted 11/6/2013 06:02 AM

Hi KBeguile,

I also want to clarify - and apologize if you took offense to my post. I didn't mean to imply you were looking for a fight, and I'm sorry if my words came across that way. I was simply saying that sometimes we can say something and a person can hear something else. Choosing different words can help that.

I don't think she should 'get' to put words in your mouth. As I said in my post, these accusations are her pain and insecurities spilling out. She is hurt, and scared that she'll be hurt again. R can be very scary for a BS. You wonder if the WS means what they say when they say they are sorry. You wonder if they are still seeing the OP. You wonder if they are thinking of them. You wonder if they are staying for reasons other than loving you. There is a lot of fear in R - and I'm sure that is the case for the WS as well, although I would think the reasons are different. R is hard, for everyone.

I am 3 years out. I actually posted just a few days ago about feeling badly for everything I put my fWH through. I didn't do any of it to 'punish' him, although at times he thought I was. I did it because I was terrified. I was terrified of all of the things I wrote. I was terrified I was playing the fool. I was terrified that he was still talking with her. I was terrified that he was with me for reasons other than love - after all, he cheated so he can't really love me, right? These are thoughts and fears a BS has. So today I feel badly looking back and seeing how I acted. If you had said to me then that one day I'd feel bad, I would have either laughed or become enraged, depending on my mood.

I think we are all aware that transparency is needed for R. It would seem then that the BS has far less to worry about, but that isn't the case. False R happens all the time. It takes tremendous trust to try to reconcile, and that is frightening knowing the pain that comes from infidelity.

I know that R is hard for a WS too. Please don't think I'm saying otherwise. I'm only trying to perhaps add some color to your thoughts on what is happening with your wife.

I don't want to upset anyone, and I hope my words don't do that. I'm not attacking anyone. I'm only saying that there is fear in reconciling. These accusations are that fear.

I am speaking as a BS and based on what I have seen other BSs say. I cannot, obviously, say definitively that this is what KBeguile's BS is feeling. I can say that I have read this time and again, and felt it myself.

KBeguile, I really hope for you and HIADP that you make it out of these trying times and move on together to a better place in your marriage. The hurt and raw emotion that is exposed during the earlier parts of R are so hard for everyone.

Again, I sincerely apologize if I've upset anyone. I've tried to say this in a very neutral manner. If I have failed at that, I am truly sorry. I don't want to upset anyone, particularly anyone making an effort to learn and make improvements in themselves and in their marriage.

SlowUptake posted 11/6/2013 06:19 AM

Hey KBeguile

I had a preprepared response for the situations you describe when I felt the anger and defensivness start to rise because 'I was so hard done by' for the first COUPLE OF YEARS after DDay.

"I understand my bad choices and actions have caused you pain and I am sorry"

After a while it becomes automatic and the anger/defensiveness disappears. A hug at the same time also helps.

Although I must admit at times it was very difficult to hug my BS as she was spitting vitriol at me.

eta: spelling mistakes

[This message edited by SlowUptake at 6:27 AM, November 6th (Wednesday)]

fourever posted 11/6/2013 07:17 AM

BS here. Three + years out, I still sometimes go through this with FWH. I can't help it, nor can I stop it when it happens. The hurt was a life sentence from someone I could not in my wildest dreams imagine would do this to our family. Total shock.
That being said, it's usually some kind of trigger that sets it off, and I may not even know it until later. It could be anything, as they are all around us, those days past, that we now know were with a spouse we didn't even recognize. Restaurants, cities, vacations, email, advertising postcards, magazines; It's a very long list. Hearing the name of some hotels gives me an awful physical reaction sometimes.

What I'm trying to say, is please recognize the depth of her hurt. That huge tear in her heart is only just beginning to heal. Just barely.

And yes, you do have to take it. You took away her choice for her own life. You took it. With no regard. You don't get the luxury of just giving it back. Believe me, we BS's would love it too if it worked like that.

So tell her you understand, show her you are so very sorry, and give her the examples, then ask her if you can hold her, even when she's so very hurt, sad, angry and devastated. That you want to work through this together, so that she never will have to worry or be afraid again.

Don't forget that the very person who nearly killed us and crushed our souls, is the very person we turn to, to help ease an unimaginable pain. Be there for her. And deal with your own insecurities, guilt on your own right now.

I hope this doesn't sound sharp. I want nothing more than those couples who choose to R, to make it to the other side with a relationship that they could only dream about before. I hope that for you and Heart.

20WrongsVs1 posted 11/6/2013 08:19 AM

Empathy, noun: the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

A better definition of empathy comes from Marshall Rosenberg in Nonviolent Communication.

Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing. We often have a strong urge to give advice or reassurance and to explain our own position or feeling. Empathy, however, calls upon us to empty our mind and listen to others with our whole being. No matter what words others may use to express themselves, we simply listen for their feelings, needs, and requests.

Logic is not in order here, KB. Empathy is. And based upon this post, you're severely empathy challenged. The good news is, empathy can be in point, me.

My only objection is when she accuses me of doing things I am not doing and informs me of the things that I am saying and thinking. I'm not allowed to put words into her mouth or tell her what she's allowed to think or pretend to understand what she's going through, so why does she get to do that to me?

Why? Because you cheated, and Heart graciously, bravely gave you another chance instead of kicking your sorry ass to the curb. So, boo fucking hoo, dude. You dug a very deep hole in your M, KB, and it's time you manned up and started hauling dirt. All of it. Spurn logic, embrace empathy. Ignore Heart's words and listen only for her feelings and needs. Abandon your defenses. Hard? Fuck yeah. Unfair? In a M where one spouse didn't repeatedly stab the other in the heart...yes. In our lying, cheating shoes...not even.

KBeguile posted 11/6/2013 10:28 AM

Oh, goodness. I honestly didn't expect to see people continue to post advice or offer thoughts here. I do appreciate all of it, though.

I'm a very terrible person, not the least of which is because I panicked last night and let my emotions get the better of me. I started fighting fear with anger, and it wasn't right at all. As Heart pointed out on a different thread, my brain was at the "grasping for straws" point for some reason, even though I have been able to demonstrate to both Heart and myself that I am made of better stuff and have the ability to navigate through those hard times when she's looking for reassurance and understanding more than TRUTH or FACTS.

We are getting close to 1st Anti, and I'm really starting to let myself get impacted by it, which is terrible for me, her, DS, and our M. It is so difficult, as 20Wrongs said, to hug and console the one who is spitting so much venom. It's venom that's only there because of me, though, and I need to remind myself that that's what it takes.

20WrongsVs1 posted 11/6/2013 10:41 AM

I'm a very terrible person

No. Don't look at yourself this way. Terrible people do terrible things, and who can blame them? They're being true to their nature.

See yourself as a good person who was FUBAR and is working to right his wrongs. Hold yourself to the standards of a good person, not a terrible one.

Finally10 posted 11/6/2013 11:47 AM


I know you have a list of books your are slated to read, but I'm going to suggest you put Rosenberg's Non Violent Communication at the top of your list, even if you have to stop what you are reading now.

As others have said, empathy is in order and you need to listen without evaluating or judging. One of the most powerful statements in the book was described as follows:

Presence: Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

“Mrs. Anderson, have you ever had a week when everything you did hurt somebody else, and you never intended to hurt anyone at all?”

“Don’t just do something… .”

“Yes,” the principal replied, “I think I understand,” whereupon Milly proceeded to describe her week. “By now,” the principal related, “I was quite late for a very important meeting—still had my coat on—and anxious not to keep a room full of people waiting, and so I asked, ‘Milly, what can I do for you?’ Milly reached over, took both my shoulders in her hands, looked me straight in the eyes, and said very firmly, ‘Mrs. Anderson, I don’t want you to do anything; I just want you to listen.’

Maybe Heart is just asking you to listen....


I'm full of great advice, I just wish I could follow it myself.

20WrongsVs1 posted 11/6/2013 12:24 PM

F10, a fellow student of NVC! That book changed my life, and by extension my BH's and our childrens'. I recommend it so often here, I'm afraid people will get sick of it.
end t/j

KBeguile posted 11/6/2013 12:38 PM

"Active Listening" (responding to things she says with empathy) versus "Passive Listening" (just hearing what she says), right?

Finally10 posted 11/6/2013 14:02 PM

Apologize in advance I'm typing from my phone in carpool line!

KB. Not exactly active vs passive. It's more active listening for and clarifying the feeling behind the statement. We guys have a strong tendency to hear "problem" that needs a solution so we immediately go into the fix it mode offer advice, explain defend, or other less than desirable answers. For example: if she is accusing you of doing things that you are not, listen to without evaluating what she might mean. Instead clarify with something like "I'm hearing that you think I am not being truthful about my activities", is that right? And when she answers affirmatively, you can say something like " of course you doubt me, I have lied to you and I really feel xxx about doing that. Is there something I can do to help you feel more confident that I am being truthful? Depending on her answer you might offer either a hug and verbal reassurances, or specific conduct like using an app that let's you check in from where you are, again depending on her answer. Like the example above, she may just want you to listen....


Finally10 posted 11/6/2013 15:44 PM


A beginner student at best, but the results are immediate. I had a conversation with the 13 YO this morning where I employed NVC and got her to open up like she never has to me... NVC is very eye opening and I can see how it can be life changing. It was one of your posts somewhere that prompted me to seek it out. Thank You.


[This message edited by Finally10 at 8:29 PM, November 6th (Wednesday)]

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