I understand that thought process fully. I mean, in a simplistic example I haven't been able to eat at Panera for weeks because I got a stomach flu the night of my last visit, and now the thought of it makes me ill.
I've seen many stories on SI where the marriage or relationship was spiraling, and the A was an inevitable stop along the way to rock bottom. From there the relationship was built stronger than before. But if the very act of feeling good is a trigger or fear, how can the M ever recover?
I'm not trying to be glib or blunt... I've pondered this thought many times over, and this is what it boils down to. We are not new to the process, we are entering year three this weekend. I have screwed things up royally over the course of the last two years, but I feel I have done a lot right, too.
Sorry, starting to veer off course there a bit. I just feel so hopeless as we prepare to enter year three and it still feels a an awful lot like early year 1. Thanks as always for your thoughts and insight.
They say recovery takes 2-5 years and you're just now slipping into the 3rd year. Give it time. Keep loving her and proving that she's safe with you and hopefully time really will heal your marriage. But that's if you're truly doing the right things and I'm concerned with your view that for many of the stories on SI "the marriage or relationship was spiraling, and the A was an inevitable stop along the way to rock bottom". Umm...no. If your BS believes you see the A as "an inevitable stop" then it's highly likely your marriage will never heal. The A is NEVER an inevitable stop. Maybe your relationship truly was spiraling and maybe your BS feels that was only your perception (a perception possibly fueled by the A?). Regardless you need to own the A 100% and your BS needs to know you've done the work to fix whatever was inside you that made you believe the A was a viable option.
I still am not sure I'm making my point clearly or accurately...
Is that about right?
Honestly I'm not qualified to give you advice, but I imagine it takes a long, long time for a BS to allow themselves to feel vulnerable again. After we blindsided them so cruelly.
even though there is no excuse for an A, it's easier(?) for the BS to cope with attaching those negative feelings to the A than trying to dissociate the positive feelings from the A.
But I'm glad you're owning the A 100%. Maybe part of the issue is word choice? I know my H gets frustrated when I respond based on what he said rather than what he meant. When you say an A is inevitable, I assume that's what you mean. Word choice is pretty dang important.
I've come to really believe that consistent healing actions matter but time is the catalyst that makes them work. You can be a perfect husband for a year and I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's the year after that and the next year and the next that finally buries the pain deeply enough that it's not leaving landmines lying around to blow holes in my happiness. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it is and there's very little your BS can do to change the laws of physics. This timeline of healing is what you chose when you decided to have an A. Living with the timeline is part of owning the A. Being consistently loving and trustworthy (and choosing your words and actions carefully) is also part of owning the A.
Hang in there, the clock keeps ticking and time will pass.
I know exactly what your saying. My BH felt the same as your BW before we blew their worlds apart.
Because our BS felt safe in their M, they had no guards up. They trusted us 100%. They were comfortable with life - then BOOM! a grenade exploded and destroyed everything they believed in. And now they will always be living on edge; never believing they will reach that comfort level again.
BUT - I think even when a M is in turmoil and an A is discovered; the same work for R needs to be done.
Broken is broken.
Guns don't kill people; Affairs kill people
I think that what I'm trying to say in that sentence is that while there is no excuse for an A, it at least makes more sense to the betrayed if things were bad. If things were good, it leaves the BS feeling like "What the Hell...? If things are good and you cheated, then what could possibly prevent this from happening again?"
But what you don't understand is that the opposite is true as well--if things were bad and he strayed, then what could possibly prevent this from happening again? Your wife cannot control your perception of the marriage or your participation in the marriage. Often the WS stops putting energy into the marriage so of course the relationship suffers---how is your wife going to stop that from happening? There's a temptation for the BS to strive toward perfection in an effort to affair-proof the marriage but that's insane. It's what's in your head that determines whether an A will occur and your wife has no control over that. We BSs have ZERO control over your choice to have an A, and that lack of control scares the crap out of us. Most of us come to the realization the only thing we can control is our response to your actions, which is one big reason why it's so tough to commit 100% to reconciliation as divorce has to remain an option until we're convinced your actions no longer require that response.
My pivotal moment came when I finally, truly grasped that there was absolutely nothing I did or could have done to cause the A, and there was absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent it. It's a double edged sword, because as long as I felt like I could somehow control the outcome and prevent another A from happening, I couldn't move forward in healing because it was based in something not real or supportable. I had to let go of the idea that I could predict it or prevent it. I also had to reach a point of knowing that I could and would heal completely independently of what JM chose to do. I wanted with all my heart for him to share my life, to do the things I needed to feel safe with him. But I also came to believe that even if he didn't, that I would be okay.
What I needed from him was for him to take the lead 100% in guiding our R. He had to make the MC and/or IC appointments. He had to do the reading and discuss it with me. He had to keep telling me and showing me over and over and over that this really was going to be real for us. That he wasn't going to pull the rug out from under me again. I still have moments of terror. I still find myself subconsciously (or consciously at times) testing him, to see if the "Old" JM is going to pop out. And he has been 100% consistent in responding appropriately and safely.
The thing is, triggers and fears are going to exist everywhere. But what I have found is that when we face the triggers and fears together, and ride it out, then the next time it's not so scary.
Keep being safe for her. Keep riding these storms out. It's probably going to take a lot longer for her to feel safe, just because she's had the rug pulled out so many times. Hang in there and keep posting here and following the advice you receive.
HFSSC is right in that your BS will need to come to realize that there is nothing definite anymore and that there will never been that 100% would never happen again feeling. What helped me is to realize that I can't control FWW's actions. I can't make her not have another A. I just have to know, and let her know, where I stand if it happens again. Once I accepted that it has been much easier to want to feel vulnerable.
Plain and simple, she doesn't trust that you won't hurt her again. Hopefully it gets better, she has some work to do just like you do.