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Feelings, and lack of feelings.

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Branca posted 4/28/2014 02:06 AM

I discovered WH cheating in August 2013.

He and I both want to R, for our own sakes, for religious reasons and, very importantly, for our 2 young children's sake.

I am having trouble feeling positive about him.

He has many admirable qualities, and he is trying in his own way to support me in the healing process (could do better and I need to talk with him about this). I believe he is sincere and that it is unlikely he will cheat again, and yet I still don't trust him. There's no MC available where we live.

I'm just not feeling the love. I often feel numb towards him, and feel like I have to pretend to be affectionate. Sometimes I feel he is a stranger - not the man I thought I knew so well, since his behaviour totally blindsided me.

Sometimes I feel irritated by him, or resentful towards him. Sometimes I feel almost physically repulsed when he tries to show physical affection. Or I just feel neutral - no response, other than a kind of rational acknowledgement that he's making an effort. When I think rationally about him, I can say that I admire him and love him as a person. He's a good dad who loves his kids, and a committed provider, generally a very supportive husband. Many people would consider him attractive. But when I try to recall or summon up those feelings of attraction, romance, love and passion, it's just not there.

How can I ever love him again? Am I doomed to a marriage without attraction and intimacy? I feel like a fraud and a liar when I try to pretend there's affection and love when really I feel numb.

Is it because the trust is gone? I think our marriage needed work before the A, it lacked sufficient emotional intimacy and contact... but still there was an underlying trust, a deep trust based on our shared commitment. Which his behaviour has caused to be shattered. We still have commitment, but not the trust.

I don't want a marriage without genuine love and affection. And a bit of sexual attraction would be nice too. Right now I'm terribly afraid that I won't be able to get these things back. What can I do to water those plants so that they might grow back?

I feel like I'm failing in my half of the bargain to save our marriage.

I'm aware that if I allow sarcasm, coldness and resentment to permeate our interactions (on my part), I could contribute to the marriage not surviving. But those are the feelings I'm having.

Is all of this a psychological guard that my mind/heart has put up? No intimacy; no further risk of betrayal and pain? Is my psyche refusing to be vulnerable with him and just locking off all feelings?

Have I fallen out of love? Is there such a thing as falling into/out of love? I might be depressed. Could that be affecting my ability to feel things? I know I'm still very hurt. How to move past this?

I know I sound confused... I am. Help! How, when, can I ever.... feel real love and attraction for him again?

betrayedscholar posted 4/28/2014 02:12 AM

I can't be of help. I'm too new to this. I can say that you summed up what I am feeling exactly. You are not alone in feeling these things. He touches me and I feel repulsed. He doesn't touch me and I wonder if I'm not good enough. I think from my side some of it is a psychological guard and some of it is just pain. Raw emotion. He hurt me, and there is nothing that I can do.

blakesteele posted 4/28/2014 04:13 AM


You are perfectly normal.

I'm aware that if I allow sarcasm, coldness and resentment to permeate our interactions (on my part), I could contribute to the marriage not surviving. But those are the feelings I'm having.

This shows remarkable insight so early into your journey and will serve you well. I read the book "Love Busters" opened my eyes to my actions pre-A. Sarcasm was a big buster used in our M by both of us.....thought it playful and harmless. Sadly, I was wrong.

You are recognizing and honoring your feelings WITHOUT acting on them. Feelings are mere indicators, they are not dictators. Right now your feelings are not inline with what you want to chose, what you vowed to choose with regards to your husband.

It is far easier to act your way into feeling then it is to feel your way into action.

Love is an action.

Choosing to love in healthy ways (ie: not in codependent ways) people that you don't feel like loving is admirable and honors marital vows. This is agape love.

Choosing to love simply when we feel like it is, at best, romantic love (Eros). It is the easiest love to express. We did it with our spouses as we dated and early times in our M. Our spouses did it with their fAP's.

Your husband has given you factual evidence that he is a threat to you and your family. He is also a threat to himself....adultery, like all sin, is self-destructive. You are wise to have boundaries in place. Agape love does NOT mean you become a doormat. Hopefully your husband is clean from his affair.

Falling in and out of love possible? Good question.

As I learn about mature love, mature intimacy....I think I could "fall in love" with a great number of women. RA was a real temptation for me. As I change and grow I realize I need even more boundaries with other women.

I vowed to love and cherish my wife above all others. And I intend to keep those vows. If our M would end, I would chose to love another. I would be very discerning I have become more educated on how deeply another person can hurt me. I also understand love better then ever.

How to help get some attraction back right now?

What helps me is to live strictly in the present moments. This was hard for me as I spent lots of time in the past as I prepared for our future.......examining stumbles, figuring out new ways to make for a better future.

Aside from the "habit changing" difficulties, this has been a challenge for me for another reason. My wife did nothing but live in the moment while in her it seems counterintuitive to me to live like this. But it does work.

Concentrate on a freckle on his arm, the smell of your perfume, the sounds of your home......focus on a specific detail when you choose to be intimate with your husband.

Mind movies suck.....but with work I have gotten to the point of "oh......yeah......I've seen this one already". They pass most if the time easily. And when they dont, we stop.

No great wisdom here......nothing that is a quick fix.

RL friends are critical. Have at least one girl friend who is relationship friendly?

Post often on SI.

This is traumatic level pain....simply ill equipped to handle on our own.

Your commitment you your husband is admirable. Your ability to examine yourself as you redefine what commitment is to you will do nothing but good things for you as you grow and mature.

I pray your husband recognizes the gift you are offering him.

God is with us all.

[This message edited by blakesteele at 4:19 AM, April 28th (Monday)]

devasted30 posted 4/28/2014 06:59 AM

(((Branca))) you are describing me. I understand everything you are saying because I have the same feelings as well. At times, I just look at my WS and think, "who are you." I have lived with this man for over 30 years and cheating was not part of his make-up. His Dad cheated on his Mom. He was disgusted. He would never do that. I knew it. As certainly as I knew my own name. But, he did. For over 7 years and he lied so well. I even received an anonymous letter. But, I knew it was a hoax because my husband would NEVER do that. So now I wonder, where do I go from here. Do I love him? That's a good question. I don't even know him. I do not have a clue how to put this person together. The person who I thought he was - was sure he was and the person that he was during those 7 years. I care about him. After 30 years of course there is affection and caring. But, do I love him? Sometimes. Do I hate him. Yes, there is definitely hate there. Not all the time, but it does rear it's ugly head. Am I angry at him? Hell, yes. Do I want to hurt him like he's hurt me. Hell, yes. Will I? No. Do I want to stay married? I think so. I am so much older than you and have I invested so much time into this relationship. I honestly do not know what to do. I am taking the advise that everyone else says on here. Give it time and eventually you will know what you need to do for you. Being in a loveless marriage is not fair to your children. If you need to leave, leave. But I think it's still way too early in your journey to make such a monumental decision. Work on fixing you and I think things will unfold and you will know what you want to do. If there is genuine love there, it will return. First you need to get through the shock and horror of the betrayal. Are you comfortable that you know the real truth? If you are still not sure, that can be a real hinderance to your situation and it's hard to move forward if you don't know the truth. There will always be doubts and it's impossible to trust without it.
I wish I could be as eloquent as blakesteel. Listen to him. He is a very wise person and I have never disagreed with his advise. We all add our 2 cents as we see it. Sometimes it will not apply to your situation because every situation is different. But the same truth lies within them all. It hurts!!!

sisoon posted 4/28/2014 08:04 AM

I hate to say this, but you sound normal to me, too. It just takes a long time to trust enough to let the good stuff in again, and being betrayed is so painful that it takes a loooooong time to process it out of your body. And in any case, betrayal taints love and respect forever.

But if R is right for you, and if you do the work, love, respect, and trust come back.

What work are you (both) doing to R?

IC for you, IC for him, MC, NC, asking your questions, date nights, etc.?

The work you do is the key to successful R.

[This message edited by sisoon at 8:06 AM, April 28th (Monday)]

Althea posted 4/28/2014 08:56 AM

I would echo sisoon's question

What work are you (both) doing to R?

I could have written your post a year ago, and a week ago. For me, these feelings come about because a relational need of mine isn't being met. A healthy relationship requires a number of things tenderness (the way you are describing love) is one of them. Trust is another. They go hand in hand. As your WH rebuilds trust, you will feel safer expressing and allowing yourself to feel intimacy. I say, don't rush it. Don't force things because you think you "should." I have found that only causes pain.

What are the ways your WH could be doing better to support you in the healing process? I know for me, there was a good deal of blame shifting going on early on that I didn't even see. Vets here pointed it out me. Other times, there were ways I felt like WH wasn't doing enough, and upon closer examination, the underlying issue was something I needed to heal myself (e.g. self esteem erosion). If we know what you feel you aren't getting, we can be of more help.

Keep posting. The great thing about SI is that you will get different feedback and different approaches, and you can choose what works for you.

Branca posted 4/28/2014 11:49 AM

Thank you all, for the expressions of caring, and also for the good sense. I feel a sense of relief for having been able to blurt all of that out to someone. And gratitude for the wonderful quality of your responses.

Blakesteele - thank you for validating my efforts to 'act' my way into feeling. I'm feeling the fear but I'm willing to give it a try. Thank you for putting it into words. Choosing to love is an interesting concept; and that's essentially what I'm choosing to do, but what is coming out of me is huge fear that there's a stubborn part of me that could sabotage all of it!

I agree with you about mature intimacy and being able to fall in love with any number of people... but choosing to stick with one and keep one's vows. At a spiritual level I have a special deep love for a few people who I've been close to at various times in my life - and some of those are male - but I choose sexual and marital loyalty to my husband, and I expect the same from him. This is where those boundaries come in. While it is conceivably possible for my love and caring for another person to develop into/be expressed in sexual or romantically intimate ways (eros, as you said), I just choose not to go there with anyone other than my husband as a consequence of my marriage vows. This was a given for me, obviously not for my husband. Ironic that it's now so difficult to foster that intimacy with the one person I want to have it with.

Thanks for the advice of living in the moment. I know this is a weakness of mine and I can definitely make a conscious effort in this direction.

In terms of work we are doing... this is tricky. Initially I had told him that it was going to be a long road of recovery of working together (had read online about 18 months plus) and that I might initially need a bit of space to deal with my own feelings. He somehow misinterpreted something I'd said, and thought he was expected to 'give me space' for at least 18 months. So he kind of withdrew from me, giving me so much space that it seemed he wasn't interested in engaging with me at all. He would take the kids out and not invite me, go do his own thing without consulting me, be helpful by doing laundry etc, and never even ask me how I was doing. He was making an effort but in the wrong direction.

This only served to mess my feelings up more.

I told him we need to work together on our relationship, and this means prioritising spending time together, both for fun as well as for the hard work part of talking things through. He has agreed, but is not good at taking the lead in these matters, so it's pretty much left to me to initiate anything. I kind of feel like, while he's willing to participate and not actively obstructive, that he's not totally enthusiastic and giving due priority to the mission we need to accomplish together.

He realises his behaviour has caused a big deal for me, and he's sorry about that, but in his honest opinion he doesn't feel what he did was as big a deal for him as what it is to me. It was not a PA, it was mainly flirting which he says 'meant nothing' to him, it was just a bit of fun and a diversion. Giving him a bit of excitement since he wasn't getting enough from me.

We will be moving countries next year and should be able to access counselling then. I think we need it.

In the name of truthfulness and honesty, should I tell him of my struggles? Or just continue to go through the motions in the hope things will come right? It seems to run counter to real intimacy not to be honest about my struggles.

We really need to foster our underlying friendship, at least that's what I can identify is needed in our marriage. That will assist with other aspects. But in his view, the main thing lacking for him is lots of sex. It's common, isn't it, for men to view sex as intimacy? Or to experience it as that? But he's shown he can be interested in sex without intimacy (with someone else), all the while masquerading his flirting as love and emotional intimacy. Aargh.

Devastated, you're right it's too early to decide to leave. I need to give this thing every chance of making it through this ordeal.

Perhaps I could think more about what we are doing to heal our relationship, and really see who's willing to do what. It seems like I've been putting in more effort (by myself) lately. He needs to put his money where his mouth is, and if there's something holding him back, such as fear, or priorities, we need to identify it.

I'm doing lots of reading and trying to get my head around things. I want us to tackle our sh*t. Seems like he's more willing to allow other things to divert him - getting busy and overcommitted in other areas of his life when right now we have a crisis to deal with.

I feel like I've forgiven him, or at least accepted what has happened and that we need to move on from it, and yet I'm still angry with him. I don't begrudge him the right to make a mistake. And yet I'm furious about the mistake he made. Something not quite right there!

That's all for now. I will have to process all of this a bit more and see if I can inch forward. Bless you all.

devasted30 posted 4/28/2014 19:27 PM

Branca-yes, tell your WS of your struggles. I tell my WS when I'm not "feeling the love" not that I always have to because sometimes he gets the message on his own without me telling him. I told him just this morning why I am having such a difficult time. Have you read the book, the 5 Love Languages? Sounds to me like you need to read that book. What works for you might not work for your WS and visa versa. But, above all, keep communication open. Talk about everything and anything. Talk, talk,talk. Let him know you need to know it all. You need to rehash it all over and over until it becomes old hat. That's the way you will eventually heal. When it becomes old hat, it won't hurt as much.

blakesteele posted 4/28/2014 21:59 PM

I'm doing lots of reading and trying to get my head around things. I want us to tackle our sh*t. Seems like he's more willing to allow other things to divert him - getting busy and overcommitted in other areas of his life when right now we have a crisis to deal with.

This is my experience as well. I think it has a tie to a WS's ability (desire, natural turn, foo programming, other???). Not fully intentional, just more willing to avoid tough work????

Still figuring this out. I still sometimes foolishly put myself in the waywards just messes things up.

Just wanted to encourage you to stay the course.

Marriage is not's 100-100. Keep doing all you healthy ways.....and you will be blessed with a plentiful harvest.


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