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Finding out the reasons why or just making excuses?

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CantBeUndone posted 2/7/2014 12:40 PM

I was talking to BH last night about our pre-A marriage, he asks sometimes what I was thinking about feeling. But I don't think he's really ready to talk about that yet. I feel like this paragraph from Not Just Friends sums it up:

"Sometimes betrayed spouses are interested in the details of the affair but don't want to hear about individual motives or vulnerabilities because they're afraid to get sidetracked from their sense of having been wronged. They don't want to make the effort to understand what happened in case understanding becomes confused with condoning or excusing. But understanding is not the same as excusing. Gaining insight into what happened and why benefits both partners."

He said it seems to make me happy when I read things that help me make sense of it (and he's right, it does.) But he doesn't want to read any books or go to MC because he feels like it's just about finding out why and making excuses to make myself feel better. I disagree, I want to find out the why, not to make excuses or make it "less wrong." I want to find out how things got the way they did so that I can recognize my feelings in the future and stop them immediately. So that we can talk right away when I feel like he's shutting me out emotionally. We had issues in the marriage before the A but that definitely doesn't make the A less bad or okay. But isn't it important to know what was going on so we don't repeat history?

I don't know. I just know that exploring the why's is important to me. Not to make excuses or to feel better about myself, so that I can move forward with better boundaries and a better understanding of what I'm feeling and why so that I can articulate it before it turns into anger and resentment. I don't know how to explain this to him though. He still sees it as excuse making. Did any other BS feel this way?

Neveragain1221 posted 2/7/2014 13:13 PM

Mine sometimes says that too. He'll ask me why I did certain things, and when I try to tell him he says I'm just making excuses for what I did. It can sometimes be hard for a BS, in their hurt and emotional state, to separate reasons from excuses.

There are lots of reasons I engaged in my stupid A, and none of them are excuses for it. There is no excuse. But my BS doesn't see it like that all the time. He says, when I talk about the problems in our pre-A relationship that lead me to look elsewhere, that I'm trying to excuse it or blame it on him. I'm not. I need to be able to vocalize what I was feeling back then that caused me to be unsatisfied. It helps me get a better understanding of why I did what I did, and how to avoid it in the future.

[This message edited by Neveragain1221 at 1:16 PM, February 7th (Friday)]

smez posted 2/7/2014 13:36 PM

I can give you my perspective. Before the A, my BH and I had issues with our marriage.

About a year before the A, our marriage hit a really rough spot. We discussed divorce. I got him to agree to see a MC. We were in MC and he just wasn't getting it. He thought the MC was on "my side." I had some issues that I need to work on as well, and I did work on those issues.

I got fed up and started the A. Some would say that I should have gotten a divorce but our situation at the time made that not an available option.

I intentionally reached out to the OP and frankly was surprised when he responded back. It was all downhill after that.

The EA came out while we were in MC. That ended up being a good thing because it forced my BH to "shit" or get off the pot. He finally addressed one of his issues which was medical. The BIG thing for me was that he go to IC even after the diagnoses because there were other issues.

He said "Nope"...our issues are because you had an A. I said fine and went to IC myself. I have very specific issues that pertain to me and why I had an A that have nothing to do with my marriage.

HOWEVER, my IC doesn't fix the pre-A issues that we had in our marriage. While our marriage is not in crisis, it will be if my BH doesn't get honest with himself and also do some work. It's a two way street.

Just as BH have dealbreakers, I have mine as well and if he continues to bury his head in the sand about his issues, our marriage will not work.

numb&dumb posted 2/7/2014 14:27 PM

Did any other BS feel this way?


Earlier on because there was no trust, my pride was not going to let me hear anything that was even close to a Why. Espcially anything that had anything to do with me. I spent so much much mental energy just trying to hate her and think of her as this evil person who ruined my life. Personal issues seemed to be OK. It was a round about way of seeing that she took 100% responsibility of her choices. Anything that came back to me or the M as the why, it got closer to 50% owning her choices. I was not going to accept less than 100%. When it comes to the A, neither of us do anymore.

You have to be careful to communicate that you are not trying to find a justification. This is especially hard if blame shifting or TT occurred. You may have to work at untying that knot first. Apologies are best, but showing how much it hurts to see him in shambles and know you did that to him helps too.

What made that choice acceptable to you and ensuring you will not make that choice ever again is one of many things you feel you owe him (say it exactly like that).

Transparency, 100% mental and physical NC for the rest of your lives, and an agreement to immediately stop or at a minimum drasticially curb any behaviors that created this environment where the infidelity started or occured. ( Workplace change, hanging out with members of the opposite sex, drinking, gym, facebook, etc.)

For some reason a lot of BS don't feel comfortable being vulnerable or even considering working on anything until they feel an effort to compensate them for their pain. Without this M issues discussion comes across as " My M sucked and I had a right to be happy, even if that was elsewhere."

If you guys had a history of score keeping in your M and bringing up the past often, any discussion isn't going to end well. Somebody has to lay down their sword first. A key action to demonstrate humility for the first one who does (hint, hint).

You see at this point, he needs something. He isn't going to move from this place until he sees something he can hang onto that shows him he can believe it will work, for him. He would be made to look the fool if it happened again and that first time was very devastating. "Fool me once . . .," is a popular saying amongst BHs.

Marriage issues are hard. It took me a long time to be OK with discussing M issues. Part of it was anger that I felt like I was rewarding my W for hurting me soo badly. Another part was that I really did not know if I wanted to continue in the M. It led me to a horrible place and I didn't see how it would be better for me. A Better M becomes another form of compensation to the BS later on. Obvisouly you would benefit that as well. He sees the power in the M as imbalanced, the only way he knows how is what he is doing right now.

Until my W owned up to a majority of her side of the M issues first was I willing to look at any of mine. Part of that was making sure she really wanted to make this better (again, words aren't going to work here). Both WS and BS have ownership of issues in the M, but after infidelity the leap of faith required to launch into M rebuilding isn't there anymore or probably ever existed. Lead in this area and ask him to follow. He doesn't see any motivation right now, at best he sees a life of being hurt and lied to.

FWIW- discussing M issues this early on after Dday isn't going to end well. He isn't past the trauma yet and is in no place to spend energy on personal growth. Or worse yet, he will feel that any M issues he had or hurts he did to you have been paid off in full many times over on Dday. He doesn't need to fix it because he feels he already paid dearly for it. I would point out to him if he feels this way, does he feel he has to pay for this forever ? You want to make sure he is happy and you want more than anything to be the one that makes him happy (stress only him, please, he is thinking that all the time).

Right, wrong or indifferent a lot of BH feel this way after Dday. If he really feels that, it isn't wrong, KWIM ? Don't argue with him about what he feels. You dig ? Unfortunately you are the last person he will take M advice from right now. Invalidating his feelings or pushing him to work on the M isn't going to get you what you want. Patience to let the powerful and painful emotions subside some.

Be strong enough to be loving to him while you work on yourself and be who you want to be in the M. Ik now it won't always be easy, especially when he lashes out. You are ahead of him in this (i.e- you have had more time to think things through). He isn't thinking long term, he is trying to get through each day and as a result he isn't the funnest person to be around. Ask him what he needs often. Remind him you can't help if you don't know.

Anyway just some things to ponder in your thought process today and hopefully help explain some of his behavior so you can empathize.

CantBeUndone posted 2/7/2014 15:20 PM

numb&dumb -Thank you for the great advice!

I do feel incredibly lucky that there was no lying or tt after DD. Not because I'm a great and wonderful person by any means. But the affair ended in April 2013 with NC starting in July. I got into IC in May. After a lot of hard work in IC, I decided to tell BH everything on 1/10/14. By that point, I'd already had a long time to think about it and work through a lot. I was already out of the A fog and ready to take responsibility. I'm grateful it happened this way because I'm not sure we'd still be married if I'd been confronted while I was still in contact with the AP. I was a mess at that point. It would've been ugly.

I know he's not ready to talk about our marriage yet but then I'm not sure how to answer questions about it. I'm not going to lie and sugar coat things, we were miserable. Pretending that it was a fairy tale that I ruined with the affair isn't helpufl. He asked me to write a timeline of the affair. It was easy for me to do the months I was involved with AP, the times and places with met, it was objective, this happened then. But he asked that I start the timeline 3 months prior to the affair and write about where my head was and how I was feeling. The problem is, I can't do this without him thinking I'm just making excuses. You see what I'm saying? If I say, I asked you to go to MC many time in the years (yes years, not months) leading up to the affair and he refused. He would never talk about our marriage and get angry when I wouldn't have sex with him because I felt like a hooker, like I could be any random woman on the street, that he just wanted to have sex and it didn't matter who with. I told him I needed to have some sort of emotional connection to him to want to do that and him watching tv all night and then rolling over and saying hey baby wasn't going to cut it. I got to the point where I thought our marriage was over and we just weren't compatible.

Now that I've been in IC and read some books, it's so classic distancer/pursuer. Like to a tee. And that doesn't mean we're incompatible at all. We just needed to work on changing the pattern. And I had a lot of choices I could've made before the affair. I could've filed for divorce. I could've drawn a line in the sand and said counseling or separation. I could've decided that staying in an unhappy marriage was worth it for the kids. I made the horrible selfish choice to have an affair. Nothing going on in our marriage makes that okay. I know that. But I'm not sure how to talk about our marriage pre-A. Maybe we just avoid the subject all together right now?

AML04 posted 2/7/2014 16:27 PM

When you talk about your feelings pre-A do you tell him this as well?

And I had a lot of choices I could've made before the affair. I could've filed for divorce. I could've drawn a line in the sand and said counseling or separation. I could've decided that staying in an unhappy marriage was worth it for the kids. I made the horrible selfish choice to have an affair. Nothing going on in our marriage makes that okay. I know that.

I have absolutely owned my part in the state of our M pre-A and I feel I have started working on those issues but I really need to feel that my WS doesn't blame his A on his unhappiness with our M. There were something in him that allowed him to make those choices. That's what I want him to figure out.

If your WH is rewriting the history of your M he might not be ready to look at it. There's a lot of processing of pain the BS has to go through before we feel safe enough to move the focus off the A.

Not sure if this helps but I wish you luck!!

numb&dumb posted 2/7/2014 16:33 PM

Yeah it is hard. Trust me when I say that your H will be ready to accept his role in your M some day, but initially he is going to feel like a doormat for working on a M. He has to be in a much more secure place before he can handle any of that. You have about a year head start, so it makes sense you are ready to move forward. He isn't and nothing you do or say will help him catch up. Use your stronger position in this to help him find his mojo again.

His self esteem is way to fragile to do any introspection right now. That has to be rebuilt and he has to do that himself. You can help jump start it. Compliments, love notes, a a partcular type of attention that most men adore, praising him for the things he has always done well (yard work, taxes, good paying job/supporting the family, is the best trivia player in the world, etc.)

He asked from the three month timeline and chances are it is going to hurt for him to read it. Any timeline in this space is going to hurt.

BUT he asked for it, right ? He wants to understand what lead up to the affair.

Maybe you could preface it before he reads it by telling him (in a letter if he has trouble listening) everything you have said here. Qualifying that it does not excuse what you did and you don't think about it that way. He should either. For some reason words written down are easier to believe.

Explain that your understand it is important for him to gain some insight into your thought process and you are using it as tool for both of you. Expressing some remorse would not hurt either.

Use I was feeling and keep it about you. There are many ways to word the same statement.

I felt lonely (ok, but not very deep)

I felt lonely because you never talked to me (putting blame on him)

I felt so alone most days. It was very hard on me. One of my happiest memories was the time (in said 3 month period) we took a walk in the park and talked about . . .(fill in the blank). I felt so respected, loved and happy.

You express the feeling, point out there were times he got it right (confidence builder), but keep most of it positive. After all he needs to see that there were times you were happy pre-A.

If you haven't I would read the 5 love languages by Chapman. There is an online test too. I can't tell you how much easier this gets once you speak each others love language. Even if you ask him to just take the quiz and start trying to approach him in that way. Somebody has to take the first step and unfortunately he is probably looking for you to do that. has a really good E-book on it. I know it is somewhere on the wayward book list. Just reading a booking is good way to show your dedication to the M. Maybe he just needs some inspiration or a way to start or doesn't know where to start.

If your husband is a guy-guy (like me) remind him that working ourselves to be the best that we can be is the manliest thing on the planet. Being in touch with who you are and who you want to be makes him a stud. Worse case it makes him happy in a way no person outside of himself can. No matter what comes into his life all the tools he needs are always with him. No one can ever take that away, it is something he can always count on . . .himself.

Look, I have lived the other side of this. The M issues will have to be addressed, but it isn't going to work if you ignore the trauma your husband is feeling. He might be angry, but underneath anger lies a whole lot of pain. Anger is a secondary emotion, there is always something underneath it.

He feels that much anger and underneath it the pain because he loves you so much. If he did not have any reaction I would be worried.

The emotional versus physical connection thing is very common amongst M couples. Both need their version first before they can do the other.

Just like you didn't feel comfortable being intimate without an emotional connection, he probably didn't feel all that close to you without a physical one (there are many ways to establish this BTW, not only the one you think I mean). Biologist refer to it as "natures birth control." Funny, but cruel joke of nature.

You took a little license ascribing feelings to him that he may not have had. Be fair to him, doesn't he deserve a little credit. He is still with you trying to work this out, right ? If you do anything today, just thank him for still being there.

BrokenButTrying posted 2/8/2014 04:07 AM

CBU - Once again I can totally relate to your situation. My BH is not at all ready to talk about our pre-A M issues, in fact he is so not ready that when they came up in our MC he said he wanted to separate.

I had an individual session with our MC last Tuesday, she basically said the same as numb&dumb. She advised me to back right off, not to initiate any conversation and let him feel the anger, the pain, the betrayal etc and just be there for him. He needs to think of me as a bad person at the moment, The only thing I can do at the moment is prove, through my actions is that I'm not.

Like you, I've had a head start on finding out my why and processing all the pre-A M issues. My BH hasn't caught up yet and while I'm looking forward to the day he does, I'm just going to wait patiently and work on myself.

I don't know about the time line before the A. It has the potential to be another Dday for him, it will hurt him a lot. I agree with numb&dumb's advice, I find it much easier to write things down. Most of my communication to my BH about the A is through letters, we both find it much easier.

Sending love and strength (((((CBU)))))

WalkinOnEggshelz posted 2/8/2014 08:55 AM

Numb&dumb has really given you some words of wisdom. Just to add to that, our social standards unfortunately don't help in R'ing when the BS is a male. Social media seems to portray that men who cheat are dogs or facing some sort of pivotal crisis. It's ok for a woman to be forgiving and it's ok to throw him to the curb depending on the situation. When a woman cheats, however it's because the man has failed at something in the marriage. He is the one that needs to fix the problem. Or worse yet, the AP was the "one that got away" or the true "soul mate". So it's no wonder that our husbands have a difficult time reconciling that they re somehow not doormats or somehow at fault for our behavior. It's an internal struggle and any hint or suggestion that our husbands are at fault will (and should) be fought.

My husband is a recovering alcoholic. He drank right up to the day after DDay. It was a pretty serious pre-A issue. An issue that I had every right to have problems with and strong feelings about. Early on, I strongly felt that if he just quit drinking, everything would be fine. That his drinking was the root of our problems and that my insecurities were very much tied into his behaviors. While his drinking and behaviors may have exacerbated my own insecurities, they were certainly not the root of them. Just as my A has shined a big beacon onto his. The insecurities were there all along. So when we sat down and started figuring out how to begin our R, my BH set a very firm rule that my A would be treated entirely separate from his alcoholism. Otherwise, things would get much too blame shifty. It was a great rule and now, 3 1/2 years later, we can discuss both of them together. But it took a very long time to do that, years.

So my point is, that whatever it was within you to decide that your A was the path you would take is still entirely on you. The problems in the M may have brought those issues to light, but those issues were there all along and your coping mechanisms for them were inadequate. You said were lonely, but it goes further than than that. Did you feel entitled? Did you feel you wanted validation? What was the feeling beyond the loneliness? The one that said "yes! This is the route I'm going to take!"

For me, I started with the need for validation. Then it was why I needed validation. Once I was able to get to the root of it, I could begin to change it. I found that one thing might branch to another and then another like entitlement or perfection or the the feeling of not being good enough. These might be the things he is interested in hearing about. Not how he failed you as a husband, KWIM?

Good luck on your journey. It's not an easy one.

[This message edited by WalkinOnEggshelz at 9:00 AM, February 8th (Saturday)]

mezmer posted 2/8/2014 15:39 PM

My WH and I have talked about many of the issues we had in the M before the affair. Frankly, I'm afraid not to because if we don't fix what led to our problems, we are not going to build a stronger M, thus we will eventually not be able to sustain it. We really can't survive another hit like this. No way, so we have to get down to the issues we both have had.

Am I letting him off the hook? No. He was in the wrong when he chose to talk about our problems not with me, but with a predatory, manipulative con artist who thought she was getting a lifestyle enhancement. But, and this is huge, he had done everything right in his efforts to mend the damage. There has been no more contact. He moved her sorry ass out of town. He told her, while I listened that he never wanted to hear from her again. He got rid of her before he even asked me if I would attempt to reconcile. He has not tried to make any excuse for what happened. He initiated MC before I even moved back in. She pretty much hates him now and he has shown me all of the emails she has sent expressing that and he's fine with that. He can't stand her at this point either.

So much of what happened went way beyond having an affair. He really did some vile crap. But he's doing everything he can to make it right.

There is a part of it that is a little unusual, though. He had just had his seizure medication doubled. One of the side effects can be extreme out-of-character behavioral changes. Believe it or not, his AP knew this. We both believe at this point that medication had a role. It didn't do the whole thing. He made some shitty choices. But there were some mitigating circumstances and one of the things he's now looking into is getting brain surgery so he can possibly get off of, and stay off of seizure meds. Right now he can't quit taking it without having the very real possibility of dying.

But did we have some marital problems before? You bet. He has *still* taken 100% responsibility for the affair. When you have problems in your marriage the right thing to do is go to your spouse about them and seek MC. WS's have mostly failed to do that. Instead they took it to someone else. Often someone who had ulterior motives, as our AP did. That's entirely on you.

CantBeUndone posted 2/8/2014 17:13 PM

But did we have some marital problems before? You bet. He has *still* taken 100% responsibility for the affair. When you have problems in your marriage the right thing to do is go to your spouse about them and seek MC. WS's have mostly failed to do that. Instead they took it to someone else. Often someone who had ulterior motives, as our AP did. That's entirely on you.

This is interesting. This and a couple other responses have gotten me thinking. I am taking responsibility for the affair to the best of my ability. Like I said before, I was NC with AP for 6 months prior to confessing to my BH. And have told him everything. I think maybe where I'm falling very short is recognizing my contribution to the pre-A marriage. I don't blame him at all for the affair, I know that's on me and I'm disgusted by it. But I guess when I think about it, I did and still do blame him for the state of our marriage pre-A. I feel like I tried to get us to go to counseling and tried to talk about it and he wasn't willing (again with the distancer/purser relationship.) But obviously, there are 2 sides to every story. And maybe what I should ask him is where he was prior to the affair. I know neither of us was happy. What resentments he had towards me. What I was doing or not doing to make our marriage into what it was. Things to think about. Good stuff. Thank you for the replies!

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