I'm looking for some advice about setting my mind-up for success. Should I distance myself from the answers? Should I try to listen from someone else's perspective?
Any advice would be appreciated.
This is hard to remember at the time, but recognize that this is probably very hard and shameful for him as well.
Know that there is growth in pain. It is better to know the things you really want to, than to speculate.
If you find yourself at a 7 headed towards 8 on a scale from 1-10 in terms of anger, maybe postpone to a later date.
Our MC said for me to ask for 25% of what I thought I wanted to know, and then see how I felt before I went further. You don't have to do it all at once.
No alcohol! ; )
Best of luck - there are lots of us out there pulling for you.
Breathe. Breathe. I will say that to myself tonight.
If it becomes and argument, shot it down, revisit it.
I tended to write his answers down (after the conversation) so if I needed to later, I could clarify things.
Breathe. Try to keep calm, not be accusatory, and ask him to NOT get defensive.
Former 80s Icon wishful thinking
If I learned anything from this experience it's this: You can not un-do what you discover. You can not un-learn what you're told. Getting the answers to your questions will not alter or diminish the fact that your spouse betrayed you. Whatever answers you get will not change the past. We think we want those details when actually what we really want is for our spouse to refute that any of it happened in the first place. I kept thinking, "He's going to eventually say something that's going to eradicate my pain and fears -- he's going to say the thing that will make all this not true." Or I'd think this, "My questions are going to make him realize he really doesn't want me and he'll see attempting reconciliation is all wrong. I mean, if he's going to eventually separate from me (because that's what he was doing with his affair,) then let's just do that and be done with all this. Surely, he's still in the fog and just doesn't know it! My questions will uncover the truth!" In reality, the answers to my questions, all the details simply confirmed the betrayal happened and I found myself reliving DDay all over again. Our Q&A sessions just sent me into deeper despair.
Do I regret asking the questions? Not at all. Do I regret the answers? Absolutely. Was it bad? Yes, it perpetuated the devastation. Did the questions stop? Nope - if anything, I came up with more questions. But hindsight shows me that there was something more important happening in those moments than disclosure and honesty. It was in the telling of the details that I was finally allowed to enter this other world that he intentionally kept from me. His willingness to let me in, to finally allow me to see all that he had kept from me, well, that was critical to altering my perspective on the whole situation. Getting answers wasn't what I really wanted. What I wanted was to reconnect to him, to matter to him, to be valued by him. The key, however, was remaining calm, attentive and compassionate. For a long while there, it seemed that whenever he attempted to answer my questions, I would either flip out, sink further into despair or retreat from him. And that just reiterated for him that answering questions was a huge mistake. He would then be more reluctant to open up to me in an attempt to stave off another shit storm. I guess I don't blame him. So I'd say that the process was indeed critical, but not nearly as critical as my response.
I suppose what I really wanted from him was not a play by play so much, but a true indication that he got how totally wrong the whole thing was on every level. If I sensed for a second that he had any ounce of positive feeling from the affair, I was ready to bolt - and most of the time, I did. For me, there was something about his candor, his level of disgust and shame, his ownership of it all, his disappointment in himself, his self-understanding, all of it, that helped me move from hurt to compassion. At some point this second year of R, when we were in an intense Q&A session, he said, "There is nothing good about any of it. I try not to think about the affair, that time in our lives, the way I thought and behaved, because it's so disappointing, it's so counter to who I want to be. I don't want to be the person I was then. I was so disconnected from everything. I was lost and fucked up. And I didn't just betray you and my family, I betrayed myself. My actions have left a permanent dark spot on my soul. And that's not even the worst of it. My actions destroyed the one thing that mattered to me and deeply hurt and forever altered the one person who matters the most to me. And there's absolutely nothing I can do to change any of it. And I would if I could, but I can't." I cannot tell you how critical this was for me to hear. Way more important than what hotel they stayed in. It was huge.
But I would add that my response was just as critical. As he said this to me (and he's been saying pieces of this all along,) I was moved. I was moved away from fear and hurt. I was moved toward him with overwhelming love. With great care and feeling, I held him as tenderly, compassionately, and lovingly as I could and didn't say a word. I think it was in that moment that I accepted that this had happened. There was nothing else to say and no more questions to ask.
You'll read a lot of posts on SI about how the Wayward has to do the lion's share of work. Answer questions, show remorse, figure out why and how they chose to cross the line. And that's very true. I feel extremely fortunate that my fWH is doing all these things. But the BS response to all of that is just as critical. There's been a massive disconnect and it takes both people, with great courage, to reach out and start reconnecting. Hardest thing I've ever done. But I can't imagine it happening any other way and being at this point in recovery.
Kyrie thank you so much for your insight. This is deep and I wonder if it demonstrates an understanding and self-awareness not many people achieve. I'm really struggling with how much detail I need. I have bits and pieces only and am thinking only a detailed timeline will help me move on - your post scares and reassures at the same time.
eachdayisvictory I hope it goes OK for you tonight.
[This message edited by Crushed15Feb13 at 11:04 AM, January 8th (Wednesday)]
I think the "how much detail" question is one that there is no absolute answer for. Some people find the information only leads to further questions. Some people (like me) have such vivid imaginations that knowing the facts helps keep the disgusting fantasies at bay. But Kyrie's point about the importance of the BS's response is so true, even after the conversation: I've caught myself using the details that I dragged out of my WW against her, both in anger and anxiety. (For example, there's an after-work "celebration" today that I just found out about. I know her coworkers and I'm not worried about them; but her A consisted of quickies with OM while she was out running errands or taking care of other things and could go "off the grid" for half an hour or so. As she was trying to reassure me about this work event, I couldn't help but point out that she could easily squeeze in a quick rendezvous and I'd never know.) That's not fair, and certainly not going to make her want to share any more details.
Me: WH, 50+
Her: BW, 50+
D-day: 12/27/2013 (about A that happened over 15 years ago w/coworker)
But it's also been almost 2 years since I found out that my husband had an affair in 2005. So maybe I'm further along in healing than folks who are reeling from an affair that just ended. Like you, I struggled with the whole details of the affair issue. That desire to know exactly what took place is very powerful. And to complicate my situation even more, it's next to impossible to gather details about a time and place that happened 8 years ago. My husband ended things with his co-worker, quit his job, took another job and moved our family 4 hours away -- and I never knew. For all these years, he has purposefully tried to forget everything. He saw it as a huge mistake and was determined to reclaim his life and marriage. Of course, since DDay, with a lot of IC, books, and conversations, he now realizes how ridiculous and shortsighted that thinking was. So obviously, getting details has been a challenge. I thought getting those details would help me move on. But what actually helped was being allowed access to my husband's secret - his inner world. I don't know how you get there without some details, though. You have to be allowed "in" while at the same time given the sense that a huge distance now exists between your husband and the OW. I suppose 6 years and 4 hours and a motivated spouse help.
Ultimately, I wanted details that could shine a light on why this happened and how my husband rationalized that an affair was OK. I kept digging with an attitude that at some point, all will make sense. And you have to make sense of it all in some way. But we both have learned that he can figure that out and share his insights with me without having to examine every last detail about his time with her.
And one more thing: quizzing him over the details simply keeps the affair alive in his life. Bringing it all right back up to look at it is important for a time. But at some point, the whole thing has to be put back in the past. I'll never be able to forget the look on his face as he shuffled through his memory of it all when I'd ask for details. Seeing him thinking about her and talking about her and asking him to do that - that's brutal. I want his focus on me, our marriage, his own self discovery, not some lost woman who helped destroy our marriage.
OK, I've rambled! But this was a huge issue for me these last two years. And I am so so glad I'm no longer carrying around my list of questions.
My basic belief is that if I know what reality is, I have some control over it. My desire to get answers was based on that belief.
Let me tell you, after questioning my W for hours a day for weeks after D-Day and getting honest answers, I still couldn't understand why she did it or how she talked herself into doing it, and I certainly had no control over her or whatever it is that I think I can control.
I also thought if we both understood how she did 'it' (cheated), we'd be able to prevent it in the future. That was a pipe dream. I can't prevent her from doing much at all, even though she still gives me more power than is best for either of us. She won't cheat again, but that's because she's making basic changes in her worldview and her view of herself, not because of anything that my questions uncovered.
But the Q&A was a giant leap forward for our R. Here are some of the ways:
Every honest answer made me think I could trust her again, at least if she kept up being honest.
Every honest answer helped her take responsibility.
Every honest answer drew us closer to each other, put us more on the same page WRT knowing what really happened.
Every honest answer was my W exercising and strengthening her weak autonomy.
Every honest answer showed she'd take risks to win me back.
Every honest answer showed and strengthened her commitment to doing the work of R.
The answers did nothing they were supposed to do - they did something way more important.
Oh, yeah - you'll probably hear stuff that doesn't compute at first. Be prepared to want to ask the same questions multiple times from multiple POVs, not just in this session but in the future. You might not be like me, still asking Qs at 3 years out, but one night won't be enough.
I guess my advice includes:
1) prepare yourself to listen and to hear horrible stuff without losing focus on your goal
2) prepare yourself to make this an experience that gets your H to agree to many more sessions
3) prepare yourself to make answering questions a requirement for R. If your H won't answer, he's not a good candidate for R.
I read Sisoon's entire post. Does this guy ever give a bad answer?
I believe I am done asking every question that matteres to me. The first one: did she ever meet our boys? No. There will never be a line drawn from the question to the answer "why" but like sisoon, my H's answers helped me see that he was earnest in R and overtime, it helped rebuild trust. My reaction was not always steady. I have learned not to ask when I am not in Sawyer-mode.
Like some other folks here have said, I continue asking questions. I like you sat with them before asking after the initial frenzy. Also, I had him tell me the story of the A in MC. It helped me, but was hell for him.
Take notes during the conversations- helps provide distance which I needed to keep from losing it. Or write it out after you are done. You need an account of what you heard. Because it sounds like there are too many questions and as we all know it is too hard of a subject to get it all. And you want to be able to compare answers and your understanding over time.
Thinking of you. Be gentle with yourself.
Married for over 15 years
2 beautiful sons
You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Maya Angelou
I was braced for the worst, but at 11 months out, I think I've heard and (sadly) gotten adjusted to what I have learned about the A. There were no gigantic surprises, a few pangs in my heart, but I felt like myself at the end of it, and I felt strong instead of weak. It was empowering.
While I read through his answers, my H read through this thread, so he would know where I was coming from and just how much thought I have put into this. It was very helpful for our conversation.
My H was overwhelmed with emotion. Surprisingly, it was more like a delight. He was so worried that the details presented would mean the end of us. That concern did not go unnoticed by me, and I thought it was indicitive of his hopes for us. Don't know if it's right or wrong, but it made me feel loved. And when he referenced his growing and intense love for me in his writing and in our words, he was so sad that nothing he could say would be considered 100% true.
I felt it though. I have to process this new sensation. I don't want to take a perceived 'power shift' and do anything to hurt our R. I feel like I am ready for acceptance. Perhaps not forgiveness, but acceptance.
Some of the answers made me feel almost like laughing. At the stupidity of it all. Their most common rendevous spot for sex in a car was a church parking lot. Some of the things they argued about were absolutely ridiculous, and so detached from ANY real world (not just mine and H's). I guess I felt kind of, um, pity for my H? I know he is not the man he was during the A now or before, so to do what he did really is absolutely shameful. I find myself appreciating today (I know it sounds a little twisted) that I was not the one to make the mistake of an A. I think the time coming up in our M is going to be healthy; that is, happiness and struggles. I think that my H will have the harder job from here on out in managing his shame, and I do not envy him at all.
So, I'm me again. I'm strong. I will not let this trauma ruin me for the rest of my life. No matter what happens, I will be ok, and I will make sure that my boys are as safe and happy as they can be. I know I will do these things, and that feels great.
Their most common rendevous spot for sex in a car was a church parking lot.
Some of the answers made me feel almost like laughing.
eachdayisvictory, I wasn't about yesterday but seeing this here now and witnessing how far you have come makes me very happy to see. Everything he told you may hurt a little more as it settles and the days pass, but try to remember that it is also all less secrets he shares with OW now. The roles have been reversed and it is you who have been given a window into their affair of the past, and she is the one with a wall blocking her knowledge of your present and future.
I asked my wife to read through this thread last night and I think it gave her some new found determination to finish the detailed timeline she has been working on for me. I think she dreads admitting things in the same way your husband did.
Boy, some of the things my W told me about her A are ridiculous, and a lot of things made me think, 'If I were cheating, I'd do it in a lot better style!' Go figure. Yikes!
The freeing part? Sometimes we can laugh at the absurdity of it all. We can laugh about the sexual kinks of the OW. We can laugh about her great orgasmic acting. We can laugh about the absurd amount of time they spent texting like teenagers. If I could not laugh, the sadness would be all consuming instead of a passing wave.
We can talk about the now obvious issues the OW has as well as the issues my H has that lead him down the A path. Our talks, my questions and his answers serve to get all the crap out so we can flush it away. I convinced him that if I found out anything about the A from any other source,our R would be compromised.
I was blindsided by the A and I think that caused me to need to know everything because I knew nothing while it was going on.
I tell people I am tired but really my heart is broken and I am sad.
This is still a huge struggle for me... Our old MC was not very helpful. She advocated "not asking questions to which the answers will hurt you" (okay, so that's basically ALL OF THEM?), so I was at a loss.... and feel we've done way too much rugsweeping. Trying to navigate my way out from under the rug at 10 months is really dicey.
This thread was REALLY helpful... Thank you!
Best wishes for continued success on your journey!