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A good heart.....but still an unhealthy M?

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blakesteele posted 1/27/2014 10:18 AM

18 months out now.

Much of the healing that I have experienced has come as a result of my solo journey.....same can be said about my wife.

I, like many BS's, wrestled with how my wife of 15 years could do something so destructive to our M and our family.

Did the usual route to accepting this.....numb and wanting to rug sweep, RAGE toward her fAP, RAGE towards her, accepting our original M died upon her decisions of the summer of 2012, then moved into pre-A M interactions (not just issues, but what worked well too).

One simple quote that summarizes what I have found within my M to my wife is....

"A good heart with bad priorities makes bad choices."

I settled on this from my own solo journey, but it could be applied to my wife's choices too....and not just the choice to committ adultery. The choice to commit adultery is not a primary mode of operation, it is a result of how one operates in life.

I settled on this by the following, overly-simplified route....

First, I focused on "How could my wife could choose so badly?"

As I worked and wrestled with all the facts I could path took me to my own bad choices.

I considered myself a "good-hearted man". Sure I had FOO issues, we all do, but at the foundation....blakesteele was a good-hearted man.

What I am discovering is that my first thought upon my DD of "Mrs blakesteele is a good hearted woman..." has actually turned out to be correct.

So we have two good-hearted people M to each other....and the result is an unhealthy M......why?

I believe my answer lies in (again, in simplified format) bad or non-existent priorities.

For a while now I believed that an "intentional marriage" and "radical honesty" were going to be a key to our R and healthy nurturing from this point forward.

I think this more than ever today.

This doesn't mean that we do everything together....hardly. In fact, I believe now more than ever that healthy solo activities are to be a part of the mix. Those activities should be shared with each other....but that doesnt mean they have to be shared at the same time. KWIM?

blakesteele posted 1/27/2014 10:28 AM

Along this same line.....there is no such as "private bad choices" (private sins)in a M. Every choice, good or bad, has a ripple affect.

My wifes choices during the summer of 2012 were not apparent to me...but make no mistake, I felt the affect from them. My anxiety was peaking and I sought professional help to handle that.

My decades long choices to use porn were semi-known to my wife, but parts were hidden too (frequency)...she felt the affect from them.

As I process bigger picture items I continue to have a more robust understanding what the "2 becoming 1" statement is within a M.

2 big ones that I want to post now are..

1. 2 people have to be healthy, or at least committed to becoming healthy before 2 can fully be 1.

2. The fact that we are joined make the above statement about "no such thing as private choices, good or bad". We are 1 with each other in terms of consequences of our actions.

I think this theory holds water because through good choices based on healthy, M-friendly priorities, true mature intimacy can from. Through bad choices based on unhealthy, M-unfriendly priorities (or lack of ANY priorities), intimacy falters and is limited....if not all but destroyed.

Yeah.....lots and lots of reading.

Suspect I will get the kind nudge...."blakesteele, put the book down and go enjoy a moment!" soon....

Just a mostly baked thought I wanted to post...will revisit it later.

God be with us all.

JustSoSad42 posted 1/27/2014 11:58 AM

I love what you said about "intentional marriage." This is a HUGE important thing that my husband and I were working on. We have only been married 5.5 years, (only just over 5 when his ONS happened) and were very much still in the honeymoon phase. We both trusted one another so completely, that something like this happening was not even on either of our radars. So imagine my husband's surprise when he finishes fucking some stranger at a post-bar house party, when he didn't even realize that his partying could or would lead to something like that. We were so happy.

Now he ( I hope...he says as much anyway, I don't have any way of knowing what goes through his mind) is working on being more intentional about our marriage. We have discussed at length how he needs to be presently married in his mind always, and that anytime he is in contact with a woman, be it at work, going out, whatever, his marriage needs to remain at the forefront of his mind. And he needs to base his choices on the effects they will have on his marriage.

NikkiD posted 1/27/2014 12:24 PM

I like that you said "intentional marriage."

I love that!

SpotlessMind posted 1/27/2014 13:19 PM

What a great post, BlakeS!

I also think that intentional marriage is key. Until DDay, my husband and I were coasting along on auto-pilot. That is no way to grow a healthy relationship. No surprise that needs weren't bring met--how could they, when we never communicated them?

Also, I was very interested to read your thoughts on solo activities. Right now we are considering an MC who favors differentiation theory for couples therapy, and it is radically different than most theories. I've read a couple of books that talk about it--Mating in Captivity and Passionate Marriage, and I can see the logic.

Then I read about EFT and the marriage builder site, and can also see the Attachment Theory logic.

My brain hurts sometimes. :)

bionicgal posted 1/27/2014 14:33 PM

Us too, SM. We were good friends who liked each other and enjoyed each other's company, but we had stopped feeding the relationship somewhere back before our son was born 10 year ago. It turns out even love and unconditional positive regard won't protect you from an affair.

We are also both oldest children from dysfunctional families, so no -- we didn't express our needs. We didn't know we had them!! Ha!

We actually lean more towards attachment theory. We both had a lot of independent activities pre-A, and developed more the further we grew apart. It wasn't healthy for us. So now, we do a lot more together than we did before -- work out, yoga, etc. I am sure we'll differentiate a bit more once we are out of triage mode, but it works for us right now.

blakesteele posted 1/27/2014 14:36 PM

Until DDay, my husband and I were coasting along on auto-pilot. That is no way to grow a healthy relationship.

Amen SpotlessMind!

The whole "coasting" thing is what got me to investigate how two good hearted people had produced an unhealthy marriage. Neither my wife nor I are "mean by nature" or "deliberately seeking" things outside of our marriage.

I am at a point now where I don't see my wife as "heartless" or "toxic".....and that is relatively new to me. While my wife WAS that towards me and our M during the summer and early fall of 2012, that is NOT how she was within most of our marriage. And I struggled with how to rectify this difference.

I started the journey to find the answers to that riddle by the following statement.

"The biggest problem I can solve in my marriage"

I wanted to understand what happened to my wife, how a person could so "unintentionally" choose actions that so "directly and deeply" hurt me....that hurt and risked our family so completely.

So I looked at the above statement and found some traction on this path....found a rabbit worth chasing. This was an easy path to choose at the time....I was literally worn smooth out by trying to work as a team with my wife. I personally believe God was at work....if my wife had given in early on just to "not fight" and "pretend to be nice" I think my own FOO issues would have kept me from choosing this narrow path.

It was on this path that I am finding answers to the question "How do two people with good hearts have the ability to hurt each other within their marriage to each other?". By looking at my own "untintentional but destructive choices" I see a similar link to how intimacy and our M suffered because of MY actions.

I consider myself a man with a "good heart". And, yet, I choose actions that indirectly hurt my wife, had the potential to risk our family (maybe even DID hurt our family). This is when I had to ask "Why did blakesteele choose the way he did?". The short answer was lack of intention towards my wife and our M.

I believe neither my wife nor I INTENTIONALLY set out to have an unhealthy M or to hurt each other. We had our own perceptions of what a marriage was NOT supposed to be.

We did this not out of complete ignorance, either. Which contributed to us remaining blind for so long....we actually THOUGHT we had this M thing licked! (Just look how much better we are then our parents!!! (such an EASY target to surpass, but that was our gauge)).

We didn't know what a healthy M was to look like...what mature intimacy felt like. Our parents D when we were both about 12.....Dads absolutely not a part of our lives...Moms working hard to provide the needs of her children while simultaneously trying to tend to their OWN healing.

We took more away from our FOO on what NOT TO DO, then what TO DO.

As it turns out for us....we had a M built on that model.

Example: Due to my wifes alcoholic father she knew she didn't want to fight...ever! Fighting was BAD and will kill a M. No fighting = happy M. (NOT)

Due to my spendthrift father I knew I never wanted to be in debt! Debt stress was BAD and will kill a M. No debt stress = happy M (NOT)

THAT list is longer then these two simple examples.

The list that was lacking all together or pretty limited in scope was the list of what we DID WANT out of our M.

Our new MC calls that a "M by deficit planning".

So back to the quote that speaks to "my biggest problem".....I gave up finding faults with my wife and started to see how my unintentional actions hurt her and our M.

It is not very much fun....but it has been and continues to be rewarding work.

It is also helping me heal the pain from my wifes A. It has in that I can at least see NOW how an unintentional series of bad choices can have an unforseen affect on your spouse.

Yes, I know at some point my wife was fully aware and oh so willing to continue making bad choices....but that was not the start of this particular path. The actual summer of 2012 is its own special little part of hell for me.

But the month or so where the ground work (initial bad decisions specifically with how she choose to interact with her fAP) was being laid to enable full on adultery to be an option had opportunities for her to be "intentional towards her M"....that opportunity was before I felt the full affect of her bad choices, before SHE felt the full affect of bad choices.

That time period MIGHT not even be infidelity in nature....but it was strongly inappropriate.

Okay...back to me, as this is MY journey not my wifes.

My journey took me to my actions on what I did to hurt our M. One of those unintentional choices, my bad choices, was to use porn. I had for 30 years, had before my wife and I dated, had continued to once we were married. We used it together, we both used it more than her thouhgh.

To be clear I intentionally used porn. It was an active choice, just like my wifes decision to intentionally interact with her fAP. I just thought it was NOT hurting anyone. My wife didn't honestly think that first month of interacting with this OM was hurting anyone.

My "unintentionallity" comes in the form of I did not intend for porn to hurt me, my wife or our intimacy. I thought it harmless. I was careless and lacked boundaries....totally didn't think I was careless or that I needed boundaries.

Sound familiar? This was what my wife was telling herself in that first month of meeting her fAP. The whole "we are just friends" thought.

Now here we are....18 months past DD....almost 12 months post-porn use. here is what the reality of our unintentional marriage.

1. I am my actions and by my wifes.

2. My wife is her actions and by me.

3. We have very little clue to what true mature intimacy is....specifically, if we ever experienced it or if we have the capacity to attain it.

4. Our children are affected by our bad choices.

5. I have had my eyes opened to much within me that needs attention.

6. A good heart is necessary, but it alone will not result in a good, healthy M....we tried we are.

7. I am confident the good-hearted woman I asked to marry me existed then and exists today.

8. The cost of all of these "healings" is TREMENDOUS!!! Financially and emotionally exhausting!!!!!!

My brain hurts sometimes. :) too.

God help us all.

[This message edited by blakesteele at 2:50 PM, January 27th (Monday)]

SpotlessMind posted 1/27/2014 14:56 PM


Your reasons for leaning toward attachment theory right now are similar to mine. Before and during my husband's A's, I had been devoting more time to independent pursuits (namely, getting a book written and published when before that, I was essentially a full time SAHM.) So having more individual interests and pursuits certainly didn't help.

Also, differentiation theory seems linked with sex therapy...and while sex was a pre-A issue, it certainly is not an issue now. But I like the idea of tucking that type of theory away for the future, if needed.

BlakeS-- beautifully written. Your introspection gives me a lot of food for thought.

blakesteele posted 1/27/2014 15:25 PM

It just occurred to me that this is not an adultery-specific post.

All of it specifically pertains to how our M operated pre-A.

I think it is for sure a vital part of R, thus my decision to post.

My wifes decision post-DD #1 in no way can be attributed to that which I speak of.

Once a person KNOWS better, they then have choices to DO better. My wife knew better....actually new better BEFORE my DD....but chose to continue adultery. She was very very intentional with regards to that action while knowing and witnessing the damage it was doing to me and our M. She was still blind to the damage she was doing to herself and our family...but was crystal clear on the damage it was doing to me and our M. Had to be...she sat in counseling with me as I worked on my anxiety issues....many days spending time with her fAP either before or after these sessions.

It is the ignorance of our choices in our pre-A M that caused our M to fall short of what it could be.

The ultimate demise of our original M is on her shoulders...she feels it more each day.

That is a unique problem she must figure out why she intentionally chose badly while having the wisdom to do better.

What this post is about is our pre-A M issues. Adultery f's with the M so completely that it can not be worked on in the same vein or with the same focus as the pre-A M issues can be...IMHO anyway.

I personally believe the unique stress that adultery brings into the M and family is of such a nature that it is unlike any other stress a M can endure. I say this because it is the only excuse in a M where God makes D an option. (might be a little room if a non-believer marries a believer...but that is not nearly as clear as the case for D based on evidence of adultery.).

So.....if you are reading this and are just a few months out from DD....I don't profess to have the answer to how to get through the initial stress of adultery.

I tried this approach too early....the "we are in this together, lets intentionally find a way out" approach. Early on my wife simply did not want to find a way out. Then she did want out of adultery but didn't really know if she wanted back into a M to me (ushered in by her fAP dumping her). Then I questioned if I wanted back into a M with her. Now we are easing into R.

NOTE: I tend to philosophisze before or after actually "feeling for a bit"....I think I am coming out of a "feeling" phase brought on by our interactions with a new MC. I sometimes think it is a coping mechanism.....then think it is a way of truly processing.....but am not sure on this yet.

Lots of "areas of interest" along this journey, lots of rabbits to judge worth chasing or not.... isn't there?

God be with us all.

[This message edited by blakesteele at 3:44 PM, January 27th (Monday)]

AML04 posted 1/27/2014 16:26 PM

I always get a lot out of your posts. We definitely did not have an intentional marriage and the "M by deficit" was absolutely us. We didn't want to make the same mistakes are parents made so we completely avoided conflict. Unfortunately we paid a very heavy price for that.

I absolutely hurt my M unintentionally with my behavior. It's now time for me to take responsibility for that. There is so much more I could have done to foster healthy communication and to deepen our intimacy.

My road block now is pain. Sometimes it's very hard to act loving when I don't feel loving. I absolutely love my WH, it's just hard to feel it with his A still such a huge part of my thoughts. I need to make more effort. I had never felt as close to him as the few months after dday during HB. I want that back!!

blakesteele posted 1/27/2014 19:29 PM

Glad to hear my posts still resonate with you AML04!

My road block now is pain. Sometimes it's very hard to act loving when I don't feel loving.

Ah, yes AML04....the pain.

I have thought several times over the past 18 months that if it weren't so damn painful this would be an enjoyable experience....

The pain is incredible and what sets the BS apart from the fWS. BS pain is at the traumatic level, the fWS is in serious pain but falls short of the traumatic level.

This is one reason R is a gift from the BS to the WS.....both spouses are in pain, but at very different levels. Add to this the fact that the BS KNOWS that the WS is quite capable and DID actually betray some point a WS most likely INTENTIONALLY hurt their BS and killed their M to them.

The WS might be concerned about a RA, concerned the BS will never want to R, but they have never been betrayed at this level it is just a possibility.

In fact, most fWS should have a renewed sense that their BS took their vows serious enough to honor them even when all facts and pain would support a BS deciding to break them.

Actually.....our spouses had a chance to offer R to us when they started to think about other people as substitutes for us.....they, of course, did NOT offer this and Intentionally choose as they did. No, the affair was not about us....but at some point early on I must expect that my wife KNEW what she was doing was wrong but failed to examine her motives and choose to ignore the fact that she was married to me. I say this because she googled AFFAIRS and reached out to her sister talking about her feelings for another man. My wife sat in anxiety therapy sessions watching me struggle...knowing her affair was a factor affecting our M. She had a choice between an affair and our M....I don't care how good of a compartmentalizer you are.....unless you are psychopathic, you would see the consequences of your actions.

Actually, for my sitch anyway, my wife had several opportunities to calmly and gently bring issues and her affair to a discussion point....but she intentionally chose not to.

So I KNOW my wife can be quite intentional with regards to her relationships. I KNOW I can too, thanks to my solo journey of this past 18 months.

Now......can we turn towards each other and be intentional within our marital union given the pain present? our past history of NOT doing this together?

That's were that dang pain has an opportunity to spoil R......I still remember the pain, the betrayal of my DD. A real part of me wants to protect myself still today......

It is not as bad as it was...for the first 6 months I really expected to come home from work to an empty house......expected my wife to take our girls and be gone. I had to actually look at my work boots and will them to step out the door each morning and go to I am improving...have come a LONG way since my DD.

But fear is still inside me.

I pray for courage often. I don't expect this intentional way of living will be fear-free....but I do expect myself to choose wisely even when fear is present.

God be with us all.

[This message edited by blakesteele at 7:40 PM, January 27th (Monday)]

Nest2007 posted 1/27/2014 22:38 PM

Thanks for a brilliant, thought provoking and as always helpful post BlakeSteele and those who've contributed.

iwillNOT posted 1/28/2014 00:09 AM

Thanks blakesteele, your words are thought provoking. One thing I have said to my husband several times is that, through this process, I was shocked to clearly see how little " attention and intention" we applied to what should have been the most important relationship in our lives. We just kept rolling along on the slow track to the death of our marriage via neglect. Lost in our separate daily lives and automatically living life " around" the issues. We got so used to living around our issues that it became automatic and just part of the context of daily life. Until everything crashed.

Now we are sifting through the wreckage, saving what we can. What can't be saved, we will build better, more solid, more sound. We will pay attention. We will care for our marriage intentionally. This is my hope.

blakesteele posted 1/28/2014 05:31 AM

You are welcome Nest2007....glad you took the time to read it and that it resonated with you.

I was shocked to clearly see how little " attention and intention" we applied to what should have been the most important relationship in our lives.

Wow!!! Great way to put it iwillNOT!!!

I am still working on being more concise in my posts.

"Shocked" is a good word to use to describe some of my solo journey. Sure, most BS's are shocked to find out their spouses cheated on them..... That is probably a given. But I have also been shocked to see and meet parts of ME too!
From 0-8 months out I got glimpses of these "hidden" parts of me....but I was not ready to look at them. Then, after my interactions with my wife failed to produce any real growth...:I did what the books and seasoned SI members advise.......I detached from my fWS and I tended to myself.

I found that, though it is painful, I liked self-discovery. I found that I could "explore" without my wife. It is very liberating. Yeah, I know that is not an original thought or feeling.....but having owned that for myself it feels "original to me".

It is through this feeling that I am finding confidence that I will indeed grow through my FOO issues.

The techniques IC and reading have taught me are producing fruit. My relationship with God is growing because of my solo journeys and desire to see myself more clearly. My wife and I are doing M differently.....still pain is present as is sadness.....but we are both committed to new inputs into our M.....expecting different outputs now.

Clear expectations......not only in what we DONT want, but what we DO want! And that is also new to us.

God be with us all.

[This message edited by blakesteele at 5:33 AM, January 28th (Tuesday)]

JustAShadow posted 1/28/2014 11:20 AM

I'm not in R but I just wanted to say that this:

"A good heart with bad priorities makes bad choices."

is brilliant!

Thanks for another great post BlakeS

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