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How can I, the guilty, help him heal?

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wretched1 posted 1/31/2014 11:26 AM

Hi. I'm very new here and haven't even figured out what all the abbreviations mean yet, or how to properly set up my profile. I guess it would be helpful if I shared some of my story. I've been married for 16 years, with two beautiful kids. 7 months ago, on a trip to visit some old friends that I hadn't seen in years, I got myself into a drunken stupor and had sex with a total stranger, but I was so afraid to tell my husband about it that I only revealed it a month ago when it turned out I had an STD, so months of lying are factored into the equation. It wasn't an ongoing affair, just a senseless ONS. I've never cheated on him before or since in all our years together and I'm certain he never has. We've had some very rocky times in our marriage (hurtful behavior on both sides) and almost split a couple of times. But we'd been trying to work things through and, regardless, nothing warrants this kind of betrayal. He's a wonderful man who says he still loves me and wants to work things out, but his trust is justifiably gone and he's so full of anger. One issue I'd like to ask for help with is how to respond in a positive way to his "moments" as he calls them, with anger. He wants details about that night but it's very fuzzy and unclear. Obviously, this lack of detail makes him trust me even less, but I remember very little. Admittedly, I really don't WANT to remember. I got blisteringly drunk as an escape. I've been struggling with major depression, so I know why I started down that path, but I honestly didn't mean things to end up where they did. I will NEVER do anything like this again and have pledged to permanently stop drinking, never go places (other than work, errands, etc...) without him. Please help me understand how to be what he needs me to be right now. Even though I have no fear of him getting physical, when he gets angry my instinct is either to curl up into a ball and sob or hide myself away. He deserves better, but I don't know what to do. He says he wants me to heal, to "be myself" again and not some submissive slave, but it seems that his anger gets worse when I try to put on a happy face and act normal for him. I just want to get it right any way I can to make reparations. Please help.

[This message edited by wretched1 at 11:31 AM, January 31st (Friday)]

MovingUpward posted 1/31/2014 12:11 PM

Welcome wretched1,

I am glad that you are reaching out here for advice and help. To help you on your way there are resources found in the healing library including a list of most of the common abbreviations that posters use.

Your Husband's world as you can imagine has been turned upside down. As he tries to work through things he will be on a roller coaster of emotions with highs and lows. When there are moments when he gets angry, maybe you could ask him to write it out and promise to read what he writes and then discuss it. This way it will minimize back and forths when things are volatile. It will naturally add in some time to allow things to defuse a bit.

I think the most important thing that you can do is to be as honest as possible. Slowly letting the truth out (AKA trickle truth or TT) really undermines the prior efforts. Please keep posting your questions and journey's progress.

[This message edited by MovingUpward at 12:11 PM, January 31st (Friday)]

Starzjourney posted 1/31/2014 12:12 PM

Didn't see stop so hope it's okay to respond...

I am BS...I wish my STBX was remorseful, he isn't and I only respond to "try" and help...

I lashed out in anger (underlying pain)...I wish STBX would have simply validated that I had a right to be angry and that he understood why I was angry. I also wish that he would have allowed me time to vent when/if I needed to...I would have accepted a "time limit" but just to know I had a safe place would have been so very helpful.

I imagine this is tough on you and I am sorry you find yourself in this situation. Stay strong, it sounds like you have a willing partner...There is lots of helpful tips and advice in the Healing Library found in the yellow box to the left...Good Luck, I wish you the best.

CantBeUndone posted 1/31/2014 12:39 PM

I just want to get it right any way I can to make reparations.

DD was 3 weeks ago today for my BH and I. I don't think there is any way to "make reparation". I can't make it up to him, there is no way, I can just pray that in he wants to stay and R. If he does, it won't be because of anything I've done to deserve it, it will be because he's given me the most amazing gift he could possibly give me, definitely not one I deserve, a second chance.

In the mean time, while he decides (he's told me that he won't make any permanent decisions for the next 6 months), I will do anything I can to start laying a foundation for a new relationship (because let's face it, the old one is dead. There is no going back, just starting over.) What that means for me right now, total transparency. My phone is unlocked and he is welcome to look at it whenever he wants, he has all my passwords. I answer any questions he has truthfully. He asked me to make a timeline of the 6 months leading up to the A through the A, so that's what I'm currently working on. I think all we can do at this point is try to start rebuilding trust, that's all we can do. Building trust is a long process so the sooner you start, the better.

loba1957 posted 1/31/2014 12:47 PM

I'm a BS. My DDay was oct of 2013. I'd say the most important thing you could do at this point is to become an open book. The need that a BS has for the truth is overwhelming and absolutely consumes them. For me it has pretty much been all that I focus on. When my wife confessed in Oct of last year it was the beginning of months of lies, omissions and trickle truth. The lies and TT are what cause the most damage. So many times I would tell her that I know you had an A, that damage has been done and I know you can't go back and undo it. But you can help to repair things by being honest.
I understand that details of that night can be foggy and I also understand how embarrassing it can be for you to try and recount them. But if thats what he needs to hear then talk about them. Try to avoid the I don't knows or I don't remembers. All that serves to do is make a BS think you are hiding something. At this point his mind will become his worst enemy. The answer to every unanswered question will be filled in by his imagination in pain staking detail. So if details are foggy talk about them anyway because really that's what a BS wants. They want a show of honesty.
Being on this site helped me a lot. I read the posts constantly and have found many that I can relate to and they help me understand a lot of the subtle under the surface issues that always seem to be associated with an A.
Both you and your BS are in a painful place right now. I wish you luck. Remember to take care of yourself. Try to give him what he needs to begin healing. And at the same time begin healing yourself.

Brandon808 posted 1/31/2014 13:07 PM

BH here and I think it's good that you're working on understanding how you got there. Just a few insights.

He wants details about that night but it's very fuzzy and unclear.
Here is the thing, whenever a BS discovers their WS has strayed their minds become this storm of thoughts and feelings. We want to calm it down. We want to make sense of it. The mind movies take over for some of us and only knowing the details stops that. Why? Because the explicit details are invariably better than the mind movies driven by our own imagination run amok. Another reason is the idea that knowing the details will somehow explain it in a way that we can wrap our minds around what happened. Because drinking was involved the problems with remembering the specifics will likely not improve. The shame and guilt doesn't help in recalling it either.

Good luck with R and I hope you and your BH can heal together.

SpotlessMind posted 1/31/2014 13:42 PM

BS (betrayed spouse) and WS (wayward spouse) here!

First of all, I'm sorry you find yourself in a situation where you need to be here, but I'm glad you came. It's a very brave thing to confess to your husband, and the first major step in repairing your marriage.

I've been in the role of both betrayed and wayward, so I can relate to both sides. My wayward story is similar in that I made out with a man while drunk, but different in that it took me 11 years to confess. You've put yourself in a much better situation by coming clean sooner.

My husband also wants details, and I don't have many at this point, also do to intoxication. What I can tell you, coming from both sides of this, is that it's very crucial to create a safe environment for those hard, truthful conversations. Your husband has a right to be angry, but he should also know that reacting with anger when you are trying to open up is counterproductive. It wasn't until I started creating that safe environment that my husband felt safe enough to share more details of his affairs.

Also, in my case, while I might not have details, I can share perceptions, thoughts, any peripheral stuff at all. Coming forward with any and everything you can remember without making your husband pry can be really helpful.

And no trickle truth. It's so damaging.

Offer your husband access to all email accounts, phone, etc. Complete transparency is huge. Be prepared for him to ask you to ditch your friends, if they knew about and supported your ONS. Make a timeline of the events of that night, to the best of your ability, and give it to him in writing.

Do not get defensive (so hard, I know.)

I wish you both luck and healing. Consider counseling for you both, individual and marriage.

omgnome posted 2/4/2014 10:49 AM

BS Here. I'm almost two years out from my first DDay. Things aren't going the best with marriage, we are currently separated. Below are my opinions on what has been useful/frustrating for me.

I'd strongly suggest counseling, for you, for him, for both of you together. My wife did not start her counseling until after I moved out and we were separated about a year and a half after DDay 2 (2nd OM). If she had gone to counseling straight away we might not be separated right now.

Full transparency: give him your passwords to everything, communicate where you are/what you are doing when you aren't with him if he wants it. Being a BS brings a lot of insecurities and questions.

Information overload: If he wants information answer honestly and give it all. Try to give answers. I don't knows and I can't remembers are some of the worst things to hear as a BS. Even if you honestly can't remember to me at least it sounds like an "I don't want to tell you that so I'm going to say I don't remember". Try to at least give some information, If he wants information don't make him ask for everything, volunteer up information don't make him draw it all out from you. In my situation my wife hasn't volunteered up any information, even after caught. The only things she admits to is what I found. This creates insecurities in me, I think that because I've had to draw it all out that there is some things she isn't telling me. Also as a warning if you are withholding information and your BS discovers it, it will destroy your trust bank that you have been rebuilding.

Timelines: One of my biggest issues in my situation is combined Timeline and volunteering information. I've asked my wife over and over for a timeline and more information. But to me she wounds like Meatloaf, to paraphrase "I would do anything to help you heal, but I can't give you a timeline" She refuses to even try. To me that makes it seem like she doesn't want to risk contradicting things she has said in the past, or revealing new data to me.

Be patient: Being a BS sucks you never know what your day is going to feel like, what thoughts will run to your head. Be there for him, let him know you want to help him heal. Then help him heal, talk with him, help him.

ShedSomeLight posted 2/5/2014 07:20 AM

BS here. My DD was 7/31. My biggest suggestion is to get into counseling immediately. Also, Please give the full story about the affair. Do no minimize it. The best thing you can do is just tell the truth. Trust will take a long time to build and be prepared to make yourself accountable. Share you cell phone, all email accounts..etc. I unfortunately got the full story over time. My "H" did not want to hurt me further by giving out all information. I wanted every detail and he told me all of it, but I had to dig which got me very angry.

wretched1 posted 2/21/2014 11:25 AM

I want to sincerely thank everyone who responded to this post, especially the BS's. You were all very kind and helpful. IIt struck me that many of you stated that hearing "I can't remember" or "I don't know" was hurtful and damaging. I will try to find a new way to answer his questions, but the truth is that I really DON'T remember much. It seems especially important right now not to fabricate anything, so i want to be truthful about having only vague impressions of that night, even though i realize that isn't helpful. It's a conundrum. Anyway, thank you all so very much for taking the time to answer my questions.

TennisTC posted 2/21/2014 13:17 PM

From my perspective as a BS, Hufi-Pufi nailed the answer to your question in his post "Things That Every WS Needs to Know." I bumped the post for you so it's on the first page of this forum. Read it and then read it again. Print it out and refer to it often. Heck, read it everyday to stay on track - it's that good. To me, it's a homerun in terms of what a WS can do to help their BS deal with the affair fallout.

Best of luck to you and your H!

mrs7 posted 2/21/2014 14:43 PM

I, like so many here, can relate to your comments. Some helpful advice when answering questions and you don't know the answer is to not just say IDK but say IDK but I'm trying hard to figure it out & I will let you know as soon as I have a breakthrough. On DDay I repeatedly lied to my BH and backpedalled trying to minimize the affair, etc. I did end up telling him the whole story and promised to not lie from then on. Understandably, he takes that with a grain of salt. But I amadamant- no more lying- and so that means I have to say IDK at times. This does not make him happy necessarily but it's the truth from here on out. I hope you can find ways to help your H heal. Check out the book How to help your spouse heal from your affair by Linda McDonald.

Sorry to have to meet you here on this site but glad you found it. We all need all the resources and help we can get our hands on.

standinghere posted 2/23/2014 04:14 AM

When I heard "I don't remember" or "I don't want to think about it" it was hard. My wife didn't remember a lot, alcohol was involved, memories are messed up with that.

Yet knowing all that, and believing it, was very hard to deal with. It all just made me feel so very insignificant in her life. Not only did she cheat, and with a dirtbag, but it was all so insignificant and meaningless that she can't remember.

We tend to turn that around, at least subconsciously, and see it as a reflection on us, the BS.

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