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Talking through it without talking about it

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alifeforesaken posted 2/12/2014 08:45 AM

Is that a thing? I think I'm about 90% satisfied with the details of the affair. I say that because I didn't ask for a written timeline, we went through all my questions and I don't yet know if there is something I may want to know later. That being said, I want to try to move forward, but know I'm not past it and trigger often.

Recently, WH for the most part has been much easier to talk to about things, in fact he has divulged without me asking and is trying, making baby steps.

I do not think that WH at this point is capable of being selfless enough to help me heal 100%. I told him he holds the key, but I truly know that even though I am broken and beaten down from this I am still way stronger than he is. I think with help and guidance he could do it, but how do I/we work through it until he gets truly real with himself? I am being realistic, he cannot change over night. I think he needs to put the work in to undo a lifetime of FOO and coping issues.

He has not yet started IC, and I won't get into the details, but he is aware its a deal breaker if he does not, its been delayed and he knows it has to begin soon or I'm done.

I want to know how do you not get stuck in a rut and going back to the same things? I want to be able to talk about something that triggers me or I relate to the A, without having to rehash what we have already discussed. WH says he is ok with talking, but feels that we somehow stray from the topic and start rehashing or I turn most things into a discussion about the A. He is not totally wrong when he says this and I have been trying to focus more on progress rather than the negative, but I'm just not there yet.

He has done a little reading but he much better comprehends from discussion. Hence, why I keep stressing IC. As much as I want to hunker down and work on R'ing, we both have newish fairly demanding jobs and side businesses, a toddler, a baby arriving in March, etc, I feel like either of us could have breakdown, we are exhausted, but I don't know how to make the discussions more constructive. Should or could we ask the MC (he has attended that) for suggestions on getting by day by day and what is the appropriate amount of discussion and work at this point, all things considered?

demonshide posted 2/12/2014 09:02 AM

[This message edited by demonshide at 10:10 AM, February 17th (Monday)]

Hannah25 posted 2/12/2014 09:17 AM

I am having the exact same problem. I bring it up all the time, because it is always at the front of my mind, but there's really no point in re-hashing all of the old details and discussions. It makes us both sad. I want to be able to focus on trying to heal and be happy, but I also don't want to be rug-sweeping.

I'll be very interested to see if any of the more veteran memebers have some advice on this.

Morhurt posted 2/12/2014 09:19 AM

Hmm... I'm not sure there is an answer to your question(s) but I'll share so e thoughts.

It's a process. For me, I've had to come to terms with the fact that I will never be at my destination (perfect happy marriage) but that the process is moving us towards that.

I have questions and I ask them. We talk about the A daily but not exclusively. Sometimes we may be talking about the kids or something and a question will pop into my head and I just ask it. Often the answer makes no difference (for example, did her bra and underwear match?) but I still need to know. Sometimes we side track to A convo, sometimes we go back to what we were previously discussing. The important thing is that I can ask it whenever I want, no matter what, forever.

Also, I read in a Gottman book that thing that are left "open" stay in our minds whereas things that are "resolved" fade away. They did a study on servers in a restaurant, they all remembered every order that still needed to be served but the ones that had been filled they had no more memory of. Hurts are the same way. The "fights" H and I had during his As hurt me and weren't resolved at the time, they still come up (no longer as fights but as conversations) and I need to talk about them until they can fade away.

Sorry if that's all disjointed and unhelpful. I hate when things make sense in my mind but won't go into the written word the way I intend. :/

Morhurt posted 2/12/2014 09:22 AM

Most importantly for me, even if discussing the As makes us sad, it also makes us feel close and connected and that in turn builds my feeling of safety. Knowing I can bring up anything makes me feel safe. Connection is the most important piece.

RippedSoul posted 2/12/2014 09:23 AM

Since he comprehends better from discussions than from reading, what about actually reading from these books TOGETHER, then discussing them TOGETHER? I've no first-hand experience with that, but whenever I read about couples on SI who do that, it resonates with me. It sounds positive. It sounds therapeutic. Most important, it sounds like something that would work in your particular situation. It could be a page or a chapter at a time. Or it could be a set amount of time (half hour, hour)--anything that allows some structure but also flexibility. It'd be part MC (because of the good advice in the books) and it'd give direction to your discussions. You could even give him a choice (from 3 you'd think would be helpful for you) of which book to start with. Something like the 5 Love Languages might be a good way to start. It's not A-related (although there's some good stuff at the back), but it's definitely eye-opening and not too threatening.

Just an idea . . .

sisoon posted 2/12/2014 09:31 AM

1) You have to figure out what you need to heal. If you don't need a timeline, so be it. I can definitely understand not needing one.

2) At less than 3 months out from D-Day, especially with all the demands you have to meet, you're not going to have a lot of clarity. Some BSes - I was one, for sure - need to keep rehashing stuff as a step towards clarity.

The info I received in answer to my many questions was incredibly hard to take in, and I had to hear the answers again and again. Also, I figured the best way to truth was to ask the same question repeatedly, in the same and in different ways, and compare the answers I got to each other.

At 3 months out, my bet is that our conversations were almost 100% A-related - the A infects just about everything.

3) If your H wants you to commit to R, I recommend holding off until you see consistent R work and commitment from him for a significant amount of time.

4) Gently, your H can't heal you. You have to heal yourself, irrespective of what he does. If he's truly committed to R, he will help 'automatically', because R is in part a process of supporting each other.

Right now, though, you can't predict the future, and you don't know if he'll do the work he needs to do to heal himself, so don't make your healing dependent on him. Take charge of your own recovery. If he helps, your path will probably be easier - but if he flakes out, you'll still be on a healing path for you.

mezmer posted 2/12/2014 09:37 AM

You get to ask the same question as many times as you need to until you feel finished with it. You decide. He doesn't.

alifeforesaken posted 2/12/2014 09:52 AM

so much to think about. thanks for the replies.

Also, I read in a Gottman book that thing that are left "open" stay in our minds whereas things that are "resolved" fade away.

I feel this way, but I still feel stuck, maybe I'm being impatient with myself.

RippedSoul - I/we have read some things together. In fact the first thing we read was 5 love languages, I felt it was the least difficult, but unfortunately, even though he did implement my languages, it was during false R. After DDay #2 I read excerpts from "Not Just Friends". I don't think he truly listens. However, things I have said or read, have come up, though not in depth during MC and he responds to it. I think, he can't accept it from me. He needs to hear it from someone else. I'm ok with that, as long as he is talking about it and learning.

sisoon - I know I don't have to decide on R right now, in fact, I'm working on it, but I'm giving myself a little time, time to have our son and be less hormonal and give him time to show me some work is being done. I am not saying he can heal me, but I cannot heal IN our M without his help. Is that not another way of saying successfully R? He has to be in it just as much as me, right? I mean if he wants to move forward and he wants to R, he is the one who has to prove himself. I am willing, and I am trying, and I have already made changes, he has to do that too. He has to work on his issues, his selfishness, his victim mentality, his coping skills. He says he understands things, but I think only understands about 50%. I see glimpses of improvement, but he has had no professional help with this and I know without it, he cannot overcome it, he cannot see it. And this doesn't just apply to our M and the A, he ability to truly understand things to really accept and own up, has surfaced in many facets of his life. I only wish he addressed this sooner, I never realized how big of an issue it was until it truly affected me.

alifeforesaken posted 2/12/2014 10:07 AM

mezmer - but what if I'm exhausted from asking? What if I'm also exhausted from talking? I know I'm not over it, but I need a break (then I feel like I am rug-sweeping and don't want to bring it up again). I need a plan. I just don't know what or how?

It's crazy to think that in some ways I feel the same as he does. Impatient.

stunnedin12 posted 2/12/2014 10:18 AM

but what if I'm exhausted from asking? What if I'm also exhausted from talking? I know I'm not over it, but I need a break (then I feel like I am rug-sweeping and don't want to bring it up again). I need a plan. I just don't know what or how?

Can it be rug-sweeping if you (I) KNOW it will come up again, but that just right now, you (I) don't have the mental/emotional fortitude to deal with it? Is it more rug-sweeping if the wh/ww avoid the topic?

I will bring up random questions / thoughts and it almost seems to work well in that I am not 'in the heat of the moment'. I have started approaching the entire affair in a pretty clinical manner. But I have also made a firm decision in my mind to NOT talk about it some days.

alifeforesaken posted 2/12/2014 10:55 AM

But I have also made a firm decision in my mind to NOT talk about it some days

This is what I need to work on. I say it often and I have yet to stick to it.

karmahappens posted 2/12/2014 11:16 AM


I can only speak from my experience, so take my opinion for what it is.

I want to know how do you not get stuck in a rut and going back to the same things? I want to be able to talk about something that triggers me or I relate to the A, without having to rehash what we have already discussed.

Your last dday was in November. This ^^ is normal. You are hardly 3 months out and if you find yourself re-hashing...well, it's because thats what you need to do.

There will come a time when you don't need to rehash and ask again, but IMO, you aren't there yet.

My husband answered the same questions, heard the same lines from me and answered, sat and listened for a long long time. He understood my irrational need to ask and re-ask and disect.

Sometimes it felt crazy but you have to respect your feelings enough to go with what you need.


sisoon posted 2/12/2014 11:21 AM

I cannot heal IN our M without his help. Is that not another way of saying successfully R? He has to be in it just as much as me, right? I mean if he wants to move forward and he wants to R, he is the one who has to prove himself...I have already made changes, he has to do that too.

Absolutely. I wasn't sure you had gotten that far.

As it happens, one of my major biases is my belief that WSes pretty much can't heal without IC, so I'm with you there, too.

I hate to do this, but I have to play the 'time' card. At the stage you're in, going to work is a big accomplishment, even if nothing else was going on. Working, side business, toddler, pregnancy, dealing with being betrayed - you're doing an amazing amount of work.

When you feel impatient about your progress, keep telling yourself that healing will take 2-5 years. Life ill get better as you process your feelings and as time passes, but it's probably going to take 2-5 years.

If you beat yourself up for being slow, it's especially important to give yourself permission to take all the time you need.

The fastest way through this mess is to take it slow.

IMO, discussions about the A initially (1st year, at least) cannot be totally constructive, because one requirement for R is the destruction of the WS's fantasy world.

I think you may be expecting too much of yourself, alf.

Congratulations on your baby, BTW.

[This message edited by sisoon at 11:24 AM, February 12th (Wednesday)]

rachelc posted 2/12/2014 11:32 AM

The fastest way through this mess is to take it slow.

love this!

FWIW: I am nearly two years out. We haven't talked about "it" in 15 days.

I hate it when people - mainly therapists - say to have a time limit on talking about it, like...I have to put pain inside a little box and get it out when it's appropriate. I get that we need to build new good memories but if I feel like saying something I say it. I haven't felt like saying anything lately. With a remorseful spouse, you'll get there too!

I hadn't read that Gottman said that but that makes sense. That's why I go back to his foggy days and ask for clarification. I really need to know if he still feels that way - a resolution, if you will.

Can IC for him be a requirement for recovery?

alifeforesaken posted 2/12/2014 13:18 PM

Thanks Karma and sisoon.

I think underlying it all, I'm not sure he gets it. I mean he is trying, but I read these posts of remorseful spouses doing everything to fix it and I'm just not sure. On more than one occasion he has said that maybe we can't work through this. Sometimes he says he thinks I can't and other times he says he doesn't know if he can, he always ends up saying he wants to work on it, but its a tiring mental game. I mentioned in my OP that isn't selfless about all this. I can see he is trying, based on previous experience with him in situations of conflict, he has improved.

His entire childhood and life has been based on self preservation and I think that is the root of it all. He can't be selfless, because he had to be selfish to survive.

Is it reasonable to approach it this way - as long as he is taking the steps I feel are necessary for R, and I know it will take time, that I temporarily accept that he at least this soon, may not be capable of putting his demons and feelings totally on the back burner for me? I want him to, I think he should, but maybe he is just so broken he can't. Or am I just in denial and making excuses?

And to answer rachelc - IC is a requirement, I told him it's a deal breaker if he doesn't.

karmahappens posted 2/12/2014 13:25 PM

Hey Alf
I think actions going forward is what you need to see. There are times during IC, IMO, where you take some back steps, because of the hurt your FOO issues bring back, but that should be temporary.

IMO the most important things I saw with my H.

1. Compassion for my pain. Never put it on me, always took responsibility for the A.

2. Transparent. Accounts, money, time, phone, email account etc. No hiding anything.

3. When talking about the A my husband never was angry with or towards me.

A person can't take on IC and blow through years of dysfunction. As long as he gets there and continues to go and you see honest work coming from him I would feel better....

It's the excuse making, lazy, justification seeking, content to rugsweep WS that makes me nervous.

Actions not words

womaninflux posted 2/12/2014 13:43 PM

I understand what you are talking about and have been thinking about it as well much in the same "frame." I don't know about you, but I am EXHAUSTED! I am exhausted about talking about the affair, talking about my childhood and relationships with parents, talking about SAWH's childhood and his relationships with his parents, talking about our marriage, talking about how we are raising our kids. I'm tired of putting forth this mammoth effort to "work on our marriage." I'm not perfect but I am resentful that i even have to do this in the first place. Why couldn't I have just married a grown up? I feel stuck.

I DO still wonder about the AP in some ways. But I find now that the more I think about her the worse I feel about myself. Like why does this have that power over me? Why do I care if my husband still thinks about her - I certainly can't control his mind.

I also wonder a lot about what is really going on in his head. for example: Why does he want to work on the marriage? His concern is our kids…not me. That has become more and more apparent.

I also feel REALLY angry still about all of the lies from the past 3.0 years. 2.5 years of the affair, plus another 1/2 year to get the actual truth about what happened and when.

When do we get to the good part?! When will I stop feeling like while things are better, I am still living with a roommate? I feel like I am still watching every move we both make. I am exhausted doing this. Did I mention that already?

I mentioned before that I feel stuck. I see the struggles my single friends go through. I think I need to get to the place where I feel like I just am better off alone vs. divorced and lonely. At this point, we are getting along fine…I just feel like marriage should be so much more than this. I need someone to help me figure out what constitutes a normal marriage in this day and age.

alifeforesaken posted 2/12/2014 13:53 PM


It is his FOO, not mine, I just want to clarify, unless I misunderstood your response.

As for the 3 things, here is what I feel today:

1. 99% He doesn't blame me for the affair, he says it is his fault, his choice, early on his excuse was the resentment and distance that built in our M the yr the after our daughter was born. He wasn't ready to grow up. He admits that he knows it's deeper, and that's an excuse, but because he doesn't know the why yet, I think he is slightly holding on to it to deal with his shame.

2. Transparency, I think 100%, I have access to whatever I ask for, but I still wonder if there is something underground and that is because I don't trust him.

3. this is where I can't quantify. Sometimes it's fine (better lately), sometimes it's not. He reacts emotionally and it's not always good. Many times it depends on the timing and how I approach him. I can say or ask the same thing at different times and a different way and get 2 separate reactions.

karmahappens posted 2/12/2014 13:58 PM

I meant "your" in a general way...not directed towards you, sorry.

I think #3 is tough. A WS can often be angry with themselves, and IMO they should be sometimes. I would be cautious of anger/venom directed towards you. That is unacceptable to me.

It takes time, and eventually with consistent actions and healing you will progressively work through the issues.

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