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Restoring lost Honor - a question for the Betrayed.

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EvolvingSoul posted 4/19/2014 15:12 PM

Honor. Is it a real thing? What does it mean to you? Do you feel that you lost honor during the affair or by deciding to reconcile? Have you been able to regain your sense of honor and if so, what was that process like?

My BS is really struggling with this right now. He doesn't post on SI but I thought maybe some input from people with similar experiences might help me to better understand what he's going through and to possibly glean some wisdom to help us work through this piece of the puzzle.

Thoughtful responses from WS are also welcome, of course. :)

painfulpast posted 4/19/2014 15:25 PM

Honor - to me, it's a sense of pride, of knowing you have value, and integrity, and stand for what is right. It's a way of living that says 'I do things the right way, and expect the same from others.'

Did I feel I lost honor from the affair? Of course. Someone else was chosen. Chosen to receive attention, loving thoughts, romantic gestures. It's hard to feel that you're worth something when the person you love, that is supposed to be better to you than all others, chooses to focus on another person.

Did I lose honor by deciding to reconcile? Yes again. If I had value, I wouldn't still love someone that hurt me so deeply. I was too weak to just get up and walk out. I hated myself for being that weak (or what I perceived as weakness). Strong people, people that had self worth, left cheaters. They knew they deserved more. Why was I staying with someone that could betray me like that?

I'm sorry - I have a feeling you didn't want those answers. The blow to the self esteem from betrayal is something there are no words for. The best way I can describe it is soul crushing. It's horrible. To want to stay with someone that made you feel like that? Someone that preferred another, and forgot that you even mattered at all? That's rough.

The way out, in my opinion, is acceptance. I realized I wasn't the reason for the affair - my H's issues were. Nothing I did or didn't do caused his breakdown. He was the weak one to turn to another, not me. It still hurt, greatly, but it wasn't because of me.

As for staying, I had to accept that I was staying because I wanted him in my life, not because I couldn't leave. I loved him. I believed he was truly sorry. He had ended the A months before I discovered it, so I knew he didn't want to be with OW. That helped me, a lot. But the real help was working through the fact that I wanted to remain married. I was there because I wanted to be there, not because I was weak or couldn't do better, or didn't deserve better. I did deserve better - and since DDay, he's been better.

Has he been perfect? No, but neither have I. He has been MUCH better than before DDay. Not just how he was during the A, but for years. He was and is much, much more affectionate, genuine, and loving. He is more 'present' in our marriage if that makes sense. If he wasn't, I wouldn't be here.

This is my story. I don't have any idea if this is how your BH feels. Has he said anything other than that he feels he needs to 'regain his honor'?

EDIT: LOL, I wrote "Has he been better? No". I meant, has he been perfect, no.

He has been better, most definitely

[This message edited by painfulpast at 3:28 PM, April 19th (Saturday)]

iamsurviving posted 4/19/2014 15:25 PM

Wow - hard question - honor and respect and truth go hand in hand with me. I've always been one that constantly told our children - 'tell the truth always - no matter what, even is if hurts tell the truth.' When I found out about my H's affairs I couldn't believe I didn't see it coming and how I was so blindsided by it. I guess I was in shock and just numb. 7 years later at times I am still numb - the constant screw ups and constant going backwards drives me crazy. I guess what I'm trying to say is I want the trust to come back but until H realizes and goes through his 12 step program and is honest with himself, I don't think he can be honest with anyone else, especially me. I'm sorry if this didn't answer your question - I struggle with this too. If you do find some answers, please share them - I think a lot of us are going through the same. We are attempting to reconcile but there are times it is just so difficult. Because of our ages I think that's another stumbling block as well and I'm not a quitter - so I'm having a very difficult time dealing with it. I'm very emotional and can't talk about it with anyone without crying. God bless you and I hope you find your answers. Time is a healer they say and God works in mysterious ways. Faith and prayer is my answer.

iamsurviving posted 4/19/2014 15:28 PM

Painful Past - you hit so much of what I was trying to say on the head. Thank you for sharing that - I thought I was the only one out there that felt that way and soul crushing is the word I would certainly describe the way I feel. God bless you.

Merlin posted 4/19/2014 15:44 PM

Honor -
Choosing your standards, values and expectations deliberately and living them.

After you've grown up a bit, these usually become part of you.

And while it's mostly like virginity, you can re-establish honor.

You may never again be a knight in shining armor. But with a few dents, some humbling and a lot of effort and attention, maybe being a knight in dented armor is not so bad.

ItsaClimb posted 4/20/2014 02:49 AM

Is it a real thing?

I think honour is very much a real thing. It is something that was no doubt lost during the A. I feel like my fWH gave his honour away.

What does it mean to you?

For me, honour is very much like respect. In the marriage vows, when they talk about "to love, honour and..." I believe it means "to love, respect and value" basically.

When you honour something, you acknowledge it's value and worth and you treat it as though it has enormous value. When you are an honourable person, you are a person with value and worth, you are intrinsically good.

When he had the A, my husband did not honour our marriage, our vows, or me. And he was not an "honourable man". So he lost his value in my eyes and at the same time, by choosing infidelity, he proved that he did not value our marriage.

Do you feel that you lost honor during the affair

I feel that my husband did not honour me during the affair. He didn't respect or value me as he should have. BUT I personally did not lose my own sense of honour. I did nothing wrong, I was blameless. HE became dishonourable, not me.

Do you feel that you lost honor by deciding to reconcile?

^ This is a tough one. At first I did feel that way, I felt ashamed. Over time I have realised that reconciling does not make me weak. If anything, finding the grace within me to forgive would prove my strength, it would show my true, honourable, strength of character (I haven't got there yet!)

The way I see it, processing all that being a BS involves (as opposed to rug-sweeping) is the toughest thing ever - whether you R or D. To work through all those emotions, deal with FOO issues, make sense of it all, dig deep within... it takes enormous emotional courage. And to come out of this successfully you need to do that whether you R or D. So ANYONE who emerges from all of this with their sanity and sense of self intact is an honourable person!

Edited to add: I never made it clear in my response that I believe that although my husband lost his honour during the A, it is possible for him to reclaim that. I firmly believe that by acknowledging his wrongs, sorting out his issues, making amends and doing the work involved it is possible for him to become an honourable man once more.

[This message edited by ItsaClimb at 2:53 AM, April 20th (Sunday)]

KBeguile posted 4/20/2014 06:26 AM

I have to first say that the other responses have definitely flavored a few of these things for me, but I have been through a very recent example of what I consider my "honor."

"Honor" to me equates to "self-respect"; that feeling of being able to look inside yourself and know, unquestioningly, that you have taken the high road and the strong path to success by denying your damaging thoughts. It is, as many have said before me, about truly loving yourself first. What radiates out from that is all a result of what's going into it: you reap what you sow.


Case-in-point: there's been a fairly recent divorce in my greater family circle, and Heart (my BW) chose to remain in contact with the removed man through Facebook. Apparently, he doesn't mind posting pictures of (at most semi-)naked women on his page, any of which is certainly younger than his oldest child, and possibly younger than his youngest.

The first thoughts that went through my head were, in order:
1. I remember such fantasies from my Wayward days.
2. I engaged in them because I did not love myself enough to engage in behaviors that would reflect well on me, or behaviors with which I wanted to identify myself.
3. This man does not love himself.
4. This man is stupid enough to broadcast his misery and self-loathing because he has probably built a community around himself that supports him.

Furthermore, he's only driving more space into the great divide that exists between him and his former family because he continues to engage in irresponsible behavior for someone who should have taken care of his family first (in my opinion).

Skan posted 4/20/2014 21:13 PM

Frankly, the only person that carries my honor, is myself. I lost no honor because my FWH cheated and broke his wedding vows to me and to God. He doesn't carry my honor. I do. He doesn't have the power to take my honor away from me, just as he doesn't have the power to take my integrity away from me.

The loss of honor I feel, is for my part in allowing our marriage to get to such a horrible state. I deferred, and hid, and ran, and that wasn't honorable on my part. I tried to take the path of least resistance, hoping that things would magically get better. Instead, I mentally left my FWH and became a married single person in my life. Sorta like a roommate with benefits. That will never happen again. I have regained my sense of honor over that marriage failing through IC, MC, and long, hard talks, cries, and changes in our lifestyles.

But again, my FWH has nothing to do with keeping my honor. I, and I alone, do that.

william posted 4/21/2014 04:16 AM

honor is being able to live your life knowing you have upheld to the highest standards of morality and personal integrity. you cant have your honor taken away by another, you can only lose it through your own actions.

my wife cheated. she didnt take my honor away, she lost her own.

still-living posted 4/21/2014 05:00 AM

On D-Day I lost everything. It was like my understanding of life was nothing more than a house of cards. My WW finger flicked just one card, "Divorce your spouse when she is not faithful," and my entire house came tumbling down. Buried in my pile was "Honor" and it laid very near to "revenge" and "holding a grudge", but I was sobbing and begging. I was a complete mess. I had to completely start over.

I agree with william, and for me, what's most important is how I'm perceived by my children.

Nailinmyforehead posted 4/21/2014 05:52 AM

As a BS of my FWW who was in a 3 year LTA, I gave quite a bit of thought to honor, especially early on. To me, honor is an inward impulse to do the right thing, even when no one is around. I thought I would lose honor by R with my wife until I prayed about this issue and it came to me all at once. The easy thing to do would be to end my marriage. To quit. It took way more honor to stay and work it out. I looked at Jesus' example when he said to turn the other cheek. This was not weakness. This was the son of God, who could move mountains and raise the dead. Total power. He could destroy any enemy. He has that kind of power and strength. Instead of running out of my marriage or striking back, the honorable thing to do, is to control that power. Not leave. Not strike back. Be honorable. For me, it was WAY more honorable to almost PROVE to my FWW that I had the power, honor, and inner strength to stay and R and to work it out.

Gman1 posted 4/21/2014 06:53 AM

[This message edited by Gman1 at 9:23 AM, April 21st (Monday)]

TheBestMe posted 4/21/2014 09:35 AM

Honor IS a real thing. Like so many others posted, my H's choice to dishonor the M were his to own. I did not lose my self respect and my character remained in tact throughout the A and the aftermath.

Out of this madness, I have learned to be less judgmental of others. My decision to remain in the M is no reflection of my honor. It is my choice and I do not explain it to anyone.

I was taught that if one is honorable in small things then it is easier to be honorable in the larger things. It is a matter of living your life in a way that reflects that teaching. Doing the right thing when no one is looking.

Shayna71 posted 4/21/2014 11:13 AM

I feel that my husband did not honour me during the affair. He didn't respect or value me as he should have. BUT I personally did not lose my own sense of honour. I did nothing wrong, I was blameless. HE became dishonourable, not me.

He lost his honor. Mine was and is intact. I never lied to him, cheated on him, manipulated or disrespected him. I subscribe to a code of ethics and morals and I KEPT them. I said marriage vows, and I KEPT them. Even from DDay, I have done my best to make sure our teenagers relationships their father are as unaffected as possible. I have been honest. I have been open. I haven't done things just to hurt or humiliate him, or used his world class F' Up as an excuse for behaving badly myself. SO! The one thing I DIDN'T lose in this whole mess was the moral high ground...and my honor.

Yes, there are days that I feel weak because I didn't open the door and usher him out on DDay with a dry eye and a silent wave. I was beyond certain that's what I would do if her ever cheated...then again I was even MORE certain that he never would. Some days my self respect really takes a beating, but I remind myself that good people do bad things, and everyone deserves a chance at redemption and forgiveness. I always believed him to be a wonderful man, and a fantastic husband, so I'll give him a chance to prove it. If he fails, I will be done, honor intact.

EvolvingSoul posted 4/21/2014 15:11 PM

Thanks so much to everyone who has responded thus far. I told my BS that I made this thread and he is pretty interested in what people have to say. More detail about our situation follows. These are informed by discussions I have had with BS so this is, I guess, me trying to talk about things from his perspective as much as my own.

My BS had a lot of direct interaction with AP. I have not much put the details of my story out there but the short(?) version is that I had a 4 year EA/cyber affair followed by a 3.5 year EA/PA with the same AP. During the PA phase of the affair, AP was at our house. A lot. I tried to integrate him into my life thoroughly. I was one of those that thought I was so special I needed a team of men to fulfill all my needs, and that each of them should be okay with me dividing my time and attention. AP was not someone that most people would suspect as a potential AP. He was inappropriate for me in just about every way, even if I had not been married. I wanted for people to see him as "just a friend" out of my eclectic collection of friends. My BS did suspect him of wanting and willing to be my AP. He just did not know that it had already happened.

During the time AP was at our house, he had a lot of interactions with BS where he taunted BS with subtle and not-so-subtle double entendres. BS works with screwed up teens for a living and is very used to dealing with emotionally immature, damaged males in grownup bodies. He pretty much classed AP as one of these. He told me privately that he thought AP was trying to get into my pants and I laughed it off as ludicrous. Because he trusted me, he did not really ever really listen to his gut. His physical revulsion and anger he felt toward AP got held in check and hidden away.

During the affair, I did not have any idea that this taunting was going on. Some of the behaviors were when I was not in the room, some were when my back was turned, and some of the interactions I remember but at the time did not class them as being inappropriate because, well, let's face it my whole sense of what was "appropriate" back then was hella messed up.

How things finally ended was that one day in June 2010 when I had left the house to spend yet another day or two with AP and his family (he lived with his parents) BS called me and told me not to bother to come back unless it was to get all of my stuff out of the house. Or, I could come back as a wife. I think he only offered me the wife choice because he still did not know at that point that it had been a PA.

I'd like to say I had a come to Jesus moment but it took me a very long time to come out of the fog. I spent a week away trying to sort myself out (I had no idea then that true self-sorting was such a long term project!) and when I returned BS and I spent a few days trying to sort ourselves out. He was still in shock of finding out that it had actually been a PA.

The shame of being fooled and of not responding appropriately to AP when his gut was telling him to fuels part of his sense of lost Honor. That all the nasty, mean insinuations and double entendres the AP had been inflicting had a basis in reality, that he did not act because of me actively working to keep him from knowing the truth, that his gut was right and that AP was in fact his enemy.

When my BS started telling me about the personal abuse he had suffered at the hands of AP, I simply could not believe it. Poking at BS seemed like the last thing in the world that an AP should do if they wanted to keep the affair going, and AP by all accounts did want to keep it going indefinitely. I thought for sure that my BS must have been misinterpreting anything AP was saying or doing to him. I had one last meeting with AP in late June 2010 to confront him about these behaviors and of course he denied them completely. And of course I believed him.

That it has taken me such a long time to come to grips with the abuse that BS suffered at AP's hands has been an additional wound to BS. It is likened to being a sexual abuse victim who is not believed, or having what happened minimized by others, when they accuse the perpetrator. As a sexual abuse victim myself I can relate to that feeling on a very deep level. I am just starting to wrap my mind and heart around what my BS went through.

So I guess that's a very long explanation of the conditions under which my BS feels he has lost his Honor. It is not as much about what is between BS and me, but what happened between BS and AP. He just feels that he was so not armed with all of the information and that once, just once he wishes he could have an interaction with AP where he is armed with all the information (and maybe a baseball bat). In a thread on JFO. (I think it is by william) one BS describes the tremendous sense of relief he felt after actually having an interaction like that with one of the APs. No baseball bat but he definitely felt he had the upper hand, finally. I think my BS would do just about anything for a moment like that. That somehow a moment like that would allow him to regain his Honor.

Your thoughts are all welcomed by this sporadically EvolvingSoul.

time2grow posted 4/21/2014 17:41 PM

I don't think it was honor so much. For me it was trust, pride and hope went to hell. I have since realized just how many of her lies I bought; lots of shame there when I see how my denial/rug-sweeping/etc. helped her.

My honor is mine, I've earned it I'm keeping it. I cannot say the same for anything else though.

MediumRare posted 4/21/2014 18:01 PM

I can understand why your BS is struggling with this. It's actually an important thing since it can be confusing.

The problem is we have a tendency to be a product of our society and societal values, but when the shit hits the fan, we then wake up to the harsh reality and discover that what is within ourselves contradicts the societal values completely.

Good example:
>> Do you feel that you lost honor during the affair or by deciding to reconcile?
Socially and societally, of course we did. I mean, especially for a man to take back a woman that has cheated/had sex with another man is just ludicrous, right? Just ask anyone!

Hell, a lot of people say for years "If anyone ever cheats on me, THAT'S IT! OVER!" then when it happens, it's like a glass of cold water splashes you on the face and makes you think about it from a much clearer, level platform.

Hollywood, music, media and such also doesn't help. They portray affairs almost to a numbing degree but also rare portray them in any way that is in the same zipcode of reality.

>>Have you been able to regain your sense of honor and if so, what was that process like?
It think that process is a much healthier one.

In the end, I didn't cheat so how could MY honor possibly be at risk?

It's a much more liberating effort to find what one's self finds to make the most sense then go with it, damn be all and everything else, and take that position.

If something resonates within yourself and in a healthy way.. while also making the most sense, then it's likely the honorable thing to do.

BS's will always struggle with this because the messages are mixed and there really is no "one size fits all" when it comes to R, D, etc. in regards to honor. It's one's OWN sense of honor that needs to be explored, as well as divided from what culture or "practical wisdom" may have paved prior.

Sal1995 posted 4/22/2014 10:57 AM

I don't believe that someone else's actions have any bearing on my honor at all. My marriage was dishonored. My wife acted in a dishonorable manner. All of this was done without my knowledge and consent. I was not personally dishonored. Only my choices and behaviors can do that.

Not that I've lived a perfect life where I've upheld the highest ideals and standards at all times. We're all human and fallen to a certain extent. But for the most part I can hold my head high and feel pretty good about the person I've been though the years. That's the source of my sense of honor.

I was too weak to just get up and walk out.

Weak people do that all the time.

EvolvingSoul posted 4/22/2014 13:19 PM


I don't believe that someone else's actions have any bearing on my honor at all. My marriage was dishonored. My wife acted in a dishonorable manner. All of this was done without my knowledge and consent. I was not personally dishonored. Only my choices and behaviors can do that.
I guess this is what eats at BS. That he did not act honorably when he checked the very natural aversion and aggression he felt toward AP when he was in our home. I was living in a completely different reality about the nature of the relationship between him and AP and kept brushing off any negative comments he made about AP at the time. He feels that he was unfairly fooled into putting up with so much of the crap because I insisted on having AP as a "friend", because he (BS) loved me and because he trusted me. He thought no way in hell would I be having a PA with this guy, even though that's what the AP's double entendres seemed to be pointing to.

So it's all this unresolved crap between him and AP that I don't know if it can ever get resolved short of him having some kind of actual confrontation. I'm so fearful of the outcome of something like that.

tushnurse posted 4/22/2014 13:29 PM

Honor is living by a code of decency, honesty and value. My FWH was a very honorable man who was honest to the point of it being painful, and lived his life with pride, and dignity. Until.....As a BS I saw this proud strong man become sad, and angry, and blaming everyone but himself for his crappy life. It took him a very very long time to forgive himself for the actions of his A, and the lies and pain he caused me.

He is once again a man of honor, and I am very proud of who he is. He has worked his tail off to become the man he is now. He is honorable, and I am proud to call him mine.

As a BS, I never felt my honor was in question. I acted honorably, and was the dutiful good wife. He chose to not behave so. I took the high road in R as well. I never allowed myself to devolve into a name calling, ranting, angry person. I got angry yes, but I never became an angry person. I explained my anger, and demanded the respect I deserved and for that I acted with honor.

Your wife just by giving the possible gift of R is being honorable. It's what you choose to do with said gift that will allow you to regain your honor again.

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