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I crushed her self-esteem, how can I help

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Apple3point14 posted 7/8/2014 11:27 AM

I want to start out this post by saying that in the last 22 months(d-day) I have come to absolutely understand that adultery is a form of spousal abuse. It is a conscious betrayal That attacks a persons sense of worth and self esteem.

Because of my abuse My wife is understandably having trouble with self-esteem. When you cheat on someone you are telling them that they aren't enough, that you choose some broken person over them and your family. It does not matter if this is your intended message, or what you believe to be the truth, it is the message.

Since d-day I believe my wife and I have grown a lot and in many ways made significant progress.

but I haven't been able to help with the low self-esteem that I caused.
I would appreciate any insight on this. If there is anyone who has successfully helped a spouse in this way, or have themselves been help by a spouse I would appreciate the help.

[This message edited by Apple3point14 at 1:45 PM, July 8th (Tuesday)]

Rebreather posted 7/8/2014 11:37 AM

I think your questions are good, Apple3 and I appreciate how much you want to help your wife. But self esteem is just that, from the self. This is work she has to do on herself. Easy to say, not so eay to do.

Shortly after dday, my IC had me give her a list of all the ways in which I was lacking which caused my spouse to cheat. And a list of all the message it meant about me. That I wasn't good enough, that I wasn't pretty enough, I wasn't smart enough, I wasn't good enough in bed, that I wasn't funny enough, that I couldn't trust myself, that I simply wasn't enough. And then we slowly and systematically unraveled why each of those statements were bullshit. I hope your wife has an IC to guide her through this process. It probably took me 3 years to really, really believe it was bullshit.

All that said, there are things you can do to assist her journey. You can never lie to her again. You can validate all her feelings. If she says negative statements about herself or about how you view her, don't tell her she is wrong. Tell her you are sorry that your actions make her have those feelings, but you do not believe them to be true. That she is beautiful. That she is strong. That she is valuable. That the person lacking those things was you, not her.

Keep growing and find your whys. Become an authentic person for her. As she sees you doing your own work, it will free her to do this work on herself.

plainpain posted 7/8/2014 11:45 AM

My self-esteem went into the garbage after my WHs infidelities. But honestly, for me, my greatest healing didn't come until I stopped attaching my own self-worth to what he thought of me. I had to stop looking to him to validate me. Who gives a rat's behind if he thinks I am amazing or not? His judgement is WHACK. I know I am amazing. I am stronger and braver and kinder than I ever imagined. I respect myself. I have SELF-esteem. That didn't happen over night.

You still need to say it, often and out loud, that you love her, that she is beautiful, etc. More than that, focus on the inside of her. Notice how strong she is. Let her know that you see her putting one foot in front of the other every morning, and tell her how she amazes you.

Actions speak louder than words. Support her in what she loves to do. SEE her, who she is as a person, as a woman, and encourage her in those things. As long as her self worth is attached to you and your actions, she will never regain her self-esteem.

JanaGreen posted 7/8/2014 11:51 AM

This was a hard one for me to get. For a long time after D-Day 1 I blamed my H for my low self-esteem and was angry at him for not fixing it. It took another D-Day and some good advice from folks here before I realized that I am responsible for my self-esteem - not him. Like plainpain says, attaching my self-worth to how he is or isn't treating me is not healthy. That's not to say that I don't still struggle; I just understand that it's my issue.

Rebreather and PP have some great advice above.

Jrazz posted 7/8/2014 11:53 AM

Agreeing with what everyone has said - I wanted to emphasize the word CONSISTENCY.

Don't let your compassion or affection towards her waver because of her mood or reaction. Be a rock, and in time it will help her see that you are there for her unconditionally. I think that will help remind her that she is worthy of love no matter what.

Apple3point14 posted 7/8/2014 13:21 PM

I truly understand that self-esteem has to come from one's self. I am hoping to get information on things that have helped other people find their self-esteem. If there is any thing that helped you or your spouse.I Really want to help fix what I broke

[This message edited by Apple3point14 at 1:44 PM, July 8th (Tuesday)]

TheBestMe posted 7/8/2014 14:51 PM

Hi Apple3- Fixing her??? It is not up to you to FIX her. "IF" she is broken. it is up to her to heal herself.

You can be: transparent, patient, honest and supportive. Loving kindness in abundance should be your answer to her sense of insecurity.

When you cheat on someone you are telling them that they aren't enough, that you choose some broken person over them and your family. It does not matter if this is your intended message, or what you believe to be the truth, it is the message

Everything that has been mentioned MUST be done with consistency and over an extended period of time. This is not your agenda, but should be viewed with an eye to healing this deep hurt.

All that best

tushnurse posted 7/8/2014 15:38 PM

Ok so I see the prior posters have hit on what I was going to say as well. Even though you broke her you can't fix her. She has to do that on her own.

That being said you can support her in her healing, and road to building herself back up.

Make sure she has time for herself, and doesn't feel guilty for coming home 30 minutes later because she stopped to tan, or an hour later because she stopped to work out. Make sure she has time to get her nails done if she wants.

Make sure you encourage her to explore new things, hobbies, interests, and even looks. Being a BS and healing from it is kinda like a rebirth, to making a new and stronger you. For me I had lost me, between work, kids, and being a wife, I had no idea who I was and what I enjoyed anymore. So I did a few things on my own. I chopped off all my hair and colored it, something I had never done. I started wearing fake nails and going every week to get them done, I like the way they looked on me, make me feel sexy.

I allowed myself to buy some new undies that made me feel pretty for everyday use. If I felt pretty and sexy at work it was like my little secret, and made me feel good. I started looking into a hobby that I was interested in, and H joined me in it, beekeeping, and it is now a small family business.

Encourage her, support her. But the real building of self esteem comes from within when the BS gets in there and gets some elbow grease into it.

Apple3point14 posted 7/8/2014 15:58 PM

I didn't mean to imply that I need to fix my wife. My wife is an awesome woman and she definitely is not broken. I would love to help her damaged self-esteem. That is what I meant by fix what I broke.

JanaGreen posted 7/8/2014 16:05 PM

It's kind of hard, Apple. For instance, my love language is words of affirmation so I love getting compliments. My H has gotten a LOT better at that, and it really helps.

For some BS, the compliments after D-Day feel like, well, BS. Because . . . if you thought I was so beautiful, etc. - WHY did you cheat on me? I completely get that, too.

I like tushnurse's advice about supporting her in her efforts to care for herself.

Just ask her - what can I do to help? Hopefully she'll have some thoughts.

sunvalley posted 7/8/2014 16:08 PM

My H wants to help mine as well and in MC we discussed how this is simply not possible. Self esteem comes from within when it's healthy. People with low self esteem feed themselves from validation from the outside world and that is not a healthy place to be...that's the place where my H got involved in As, because he didnt' feel good on the inside or give himself self worth. What helps me is the natural compliments. Not because they help my self esteem, but because they're what a loving H should do. If you want her to get her self esteem back, reassuring her will help her feel safe but it shouldn't help her feel whole...she has to do that from within. Encouraging her to stay on the right path to self esteem will help, but there's a fine line between encouragement and pushing (eg reminding her to work out today could be taken as criticism). She has to find her self worth again and it will come. All you can do is love and support her through it. For me personally self esteem comes from doing things for others, taking care of myself and finally for the first time in my life taking some 'me time'. Make sure she has access to all of those things, by not getting in the way of them but don't push her to do them. Tell her how sad you are that your actions hurt her and made her feel low, tell her how she is really seen in your eyes, but know that her self esteem is down because of something within her. You can't build it back up and in all honesty while your actions were the trigger to push her self esteem down it was still something within her that allowed herself to continue to believe she is lesser and she will be the oen who has to work through that. I do believe As can hurt the esteem of even the most confident person, but even then it's up to the BS to rebuild that esteem from within and not seek approval from the WS to guide them.

Rebreather posted 7/8/2014 16:44 PM

Apple3, what is it about this advice you are receiving, but don't like? Either we aren't getting you or you aren't hearing us. Where is the disconnect?

[This message edited by Rebreather at 4:44 PM, July 8th (Tuesday)]

Apple3point14 posted 7/8/2014 17:12 PM

Rebreather, I actually am getting quite a bit out of the advice I'm receiving. I thank all of you for it. I am not sure what you mean by a disconnect.

Jrazz posted 7/8/2014 17:16 PM

I think rebreather is commenting on the fact that you haven't responded directly to our advice. Usually the lack of addressing advice in responses implies that it is being ignored or that the original poster is side-tracked. I can certainly get side tracked and forget to respond to people, but I see two responses from you, one directly below my last one, in which nothing of what we posted was addressed.

You don't have to take our advice, but you are asking for help and we are trying to give it. Acknowledging the words we have written is a nice way to keep the flow going.

Apple3point14 posted 7/8/2014 17:22 PM

I'm sorry:) I was actually making dinner for my two munchkins. And helping my daughter read.
I think encouraging my wife to have more time to do what she would like, pedicures, hobbies whatever she wants to be a very good start. I support her in these endeavors, but I'm not sure I encourage her to take the first step. I think that is part of my problem.

Apple3point14 posted 7/8/2014 17:27 PM

Thank you plane pain and Jana. I think sometimes saying what I think, and what I believe ii am doing is important.. I believe that actions speak louder than words, but I think I want her to hear it sometimes to.

Apple3point14 posted 7/8/2014 17:29 PM

Sun valley. You're right. All I can do is love and support her. But that's somehow doesn't feel enough. I have recently been thinking a lot about the inherent unfairness of all of this. I was Godzilla and destroy Tokyo, but ultimately she has to fix it.

Rebreather posted 7/8/2014 17:35 PM

Jrazz explained me well, thanks!

It is unfair, there you are right!

What does your wife say she wants? Are you hearing her when she talks? Have you all read The Five Love Languages? It is a GREAT resource that many of us have found helpful. Sometimes when it feels like maybe our efforts are falling short, it's because we aren't using the right methods. I'd maybe give that a whirl, if you haven't yet.

Apple3point14 posted 7/8/2014 17:38 PM

Tushnurse. I think you hit the nail right on the head when you said let her have some time for her. And I believe the trick is to find a way for her not to feel guilty about taking this time. She really is busy, she's a physician, a professor, and a very involved mother. She is a born giver and taking for herself is not easy for her. I truly need to on this.

[This message edited by Apple3point14 at 6:01 PM, July 8th (Tuesday)]

Apple3point14 posted 7/8/2014 17:57 PM

Rebreather, We have read languages of love. I think we are both coming to the conclusion that she has to fix this. I believe she is angry with the inherent unfairness of it all.

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