Frequently Asked Questions from the Betrayed Spouse for the Former Wayward Spouse
Frequently Asked Questions | Abbreviations | Articles | Books | Links
- What did your affair partner have or offer that your spouse didn't?
- Did you talk down about your spouse/partner to your AP?
- How long were you in the fog and what did it take to snap you out of it?
- How Could You Do This If You Loved Your BS?
- What were you thinking?
- Did you compare us?
- Do you think about OP when you are intimate with me?
- Am I second choice?
- Is it Always the Fog? Do they Always come out of It?
- Did you even think of me or our children while you were with him/her?
- What if my WS is saying all of the right things but my gut is telling me something different?
- Why didn't you trust me enough to share your dissatisfaction before you looked elsewhere?
- What is it you fear most about the future of your relationship with BS after confessing or being caught?
- How do you know you won't cheat again?
- Were you more adventurous (sexually) with the OP? And if you denied your spouse those activities what was it about the A that allowed you to be that way with OP and not your spouse?
- Why would a WS continue an A, and demonstrate more loyalty to an OP than the spouse they've hurt so deeply?
- How do you heal when you are both the WS and BS?
- Why would a WS demonstrate more loyalty to an OP than the spouse they've hurt so deeply?
- What if the OP was your soulmate?
- How could you not think of the consequences, to A spouse, children, family, friends?
- Was it real love???
- What were you like when you were with op? How were you different or were you?
- Why the sudden powerful passion for your wife and marriage once the A has been discovered?
- What are the reasons a WS would confess their affair?
- What are some of the needs you had and wanted from your BS or WS that helped you feel that R was real or a real possibility?
Q:What did your affair partner have or offer that your spouse didn't?
Itís a natural BS response to look at an AP and try to figure out what the AP had that the BS didnít. Surely they must have been more attractive, in better shape, funnier, sexier, richer, better in bed, whatever to have made the wayward spouse have an A.
In my case, AP was nothing special. It was absolutely zero reflection on my H. AP wasn't better than him. AP was 10 years older, in poorer shape, had habits I didnít like, drank to excess, had no ambition, and was a confirmed pessimist. He had never been married and had been in several relationships with married women before. In a side-by-side comparison, my H was a 10 and AP was a 4.
The problem was me. I didnít like myself at all. There was a constant tape running inside of my head telling me how useless, ugly, old, and fat I was. I was desperately looking for everyone around me to make me feel better about myself. My husband. My kids. My parents. My boss. My friends. Even strangers. And like a bucket with a lot of holes in the bottom, all their praise, all their attention, just poured right out of me. It was never enough. I was still desperately needy. I wanted and needed more validation, more kudos, more attention, more, more, more, more. I was an endless sucking emotional abyss and I was desperate to get any and all attention. My H was a good and wonderful man who was getting very, very tired of having to provide an endless supply of validation for me. And I still wanted more. It wasnít that the love and care that my H provided was bad, that he wasnít good looking enough, that he wasnít a good lover. I didnít want to lose the validation my H provided me. I just wanted more.
AP was an opportunist. He saw a great chance to have a "relationship" with a woman with none of the responsibilities. He was a source of easy validation and attention, because it required nothing difficult from him. He could say whatever I wanted and needed to hear, because he knew that he didnít have to back it up with real actions. He could tell me that he "luuuuuuvvvvved" me, because he knew that the only action he had to provide to back it up was a soulful glance into my eyes and a passionate kiss. He didnít have to put up with my bad moods, PMS, my family.
He offered a romantic "fantasy" since real life was never a part of our conversations. Not once did he ask me to put Prep H on the grocery list or whether I had forgotten to pay the utility bill again. And I didnít have to nag him to mow the yard or clean out the garage. After 20 years of marriage, H and I had forgotten a little how to talk about hopes and dreams. We had too much focus on the mundane and too little on the magical. Because AP and I didnít have any "real life" issues to deal with, we could live in fantasy-land and only talk about "feel good" stuff. He said what I wanted to hear, whether it was true or not. And my desperate soul sucked that up. That extra validation became like a terribly addicting drug that I didnít want to give up.
What did the AP have that my H didnít? Nothing. AP could have been anyone. Anyone willing to pour that validation into my ears. I WANTED HIM ONLY FOR HOW HE COULD MAKE ME FEEL ABOUT MYSELF. Truth is, I would have eventually drained him too and moved on.
The only true way for me to have "more" is to fix the holes inside, so that I am not always needing external validation for who I am, my value. No person, no matter how "wonderful", can ever fill you up and give you all you need inside. You have to learn that YOU are the best source of validation for yourself.
Q:Did you talk down about your spouse/partner to your AP?
Neither the OM nor I ever talked down our spouses. Quite the opposite. We both said how wonderful our spouses were. It was easy to compartmentalize the A and our real lives. It was never about my spouse, it was something missing in me. I never said one bad word about my H. In fact I used to score points against the OM by saying to him that my H was better at a lot of things (not sexually related although my H was definitely better sexually) than the OM.
Q:How long were you in the fog and what did it take to snap you out of it?
In order to fully understand the scope of this question, it is important that the BS understands what "The Fog" truly is. There is an article in the healing library called "The Fog" that explains it well and I would suggest reading it. In a nutshell, the WS reprograms their brain into thinking that the BS doesn't care about them or their needs, the marriage was doomed and over anyway, and that the OP is the only one who truly understands them. They do this in order to justify their actions and to alleviate their guilt with the thinking that "why don't I deserve a chance at happiness?". They start to believe this thought process because they keep telling themselves over and over again to justify the A in their own minds. It's a form of brainwashing that the WS does to themselves.
The fog of a LTA effects the WS differently than the opportunistic, philandering ways of the ONS or short term PA. As I have been in both situations, I can tell you from experience that the mindset of the opportunistic philanderer is "what she doesn't know wont hurt her", "everybody does it", "I'm entitled just to keep it interesting", "It's no big deal", and "It's only sex". All simplified justifications that are more of a character flaw than a true fog. These issues can take some serious introspective and IC. Sometimes life altering trauma such as a death in the family or serious health problems can change the philanderer. For me it was the news of a serious heart condition that made me realize that my days were numbered and that I needed to heal myself and be whole before I died. I had been well into my LTA when I found out. It made me look at my philandering ways, but did not snap me out of my LTA fog.
The mindset of the WS involved in an EA or a LTA actually begins long before the AP is even met. Marital problems and poor coping skills allow the WS to start the "brain washing" sometimes years before any thought of infidelity occurs. Internalizing thoughts of dissatisfaction in the marriage instead of talking to their spouse and finding healthy ways to address the dissatisfaction starts to prime the fog machine for A justification. For years before I got involved with my LTAP, I told myself that happiness was overrated, I had responsibilities and obligations to my family. All I was to my wife was a paycheck and a roommate. I told myself this long enough to truly believe it. I never once went to her with my dissatisfaction. I thought that this is just the way marriage was. I was primed for the fog.
In my case, both the OW and myself were philanderers. It took us two weeks to the day from the time we met to recognize that we had both met our match. We met in the parking lot after work, called each others bluff on the flirting, and actually made a verbal "no strings attached" agreement. It makes me sick now to even think about it. We were deep into the fog and proclaimed our "love" for each other after just 3 months. We continued our A for a year and 7 months before the fog got so thick that she bought a house and left her husband. Things stepped up a few notches because now she didn't have to lie and hide anymore (except at work). My fog got thicker and I started staying overnight and gave my wife the most lame ass excuses I could think of. My wife was in the BS fog (again, read "the Fog" in the healing library.
After 5 months of this, the OW realized that I wasn't planning on leaving my wife and kids (she never asked me to do this and I never suggested it). She started ANOTHER relationship with yet another man before divorcing her H or breaking off with me. I now felt that I was the one being betrayed! Now you would think that this would have snapped me out of it, but it didn't. My poor wife never was considered in this equation. In a knee jerk reaction to the jealousy and pain of having the woman I "loved" betray me, I confess everything to my wife and used that as an excuse to leave to work on things with the OW. The OW and I were like the BS (me) and the WS(her). It truly was a sickness. The fog was so thick I couldn't see the pain I was causing my poor wife and kids, let alone the damage I was doing to myself. I would start to wake up a little and come home to be with my wife and kids. Start a false R, then find out that my OW had started seeing her other OM again, and it would start all over. (Nevermind the fact that the OW was STILL MARRIED!)
So to answer the question of how long I was in the fog, I could make an argument that I have been in a selfish fog my whole life. For the sake of this question, I was in the fog of my AP from a few months into the A until about a week before I went NC for real and started true R.
For the second part of the question, what did it take to snap me out of it, I'd have to say that it was tough love on my wife's part. She did a true 180, filed for divorce and was just about to get a restraining order against the OW to keep my kids away from me if I was with her. You would think that my perception of the OW cheating on me would have done it, or when my wife outed the A to my boss, I got fired and they gave the keys to MY store to the OW without her even getting questioned about it. It should have been when the OW went back to the other OM three separate times when I didn't make myself available to her, or when I lost the house my W and I were building for our family because of loosing my job, or when the guilt and shame and indecision and depression were so overwhelming that I tried to commit suicide.
None of these things did it. It was the combination of healing my faith while I was in the mental hospital, loosing my wife and kids, and realizing how I had completely lost myself. Actually, it was the love of my wife, she's tougher that I gave her credit for and her love for me transcended the bullshit.
There is a book by Dr. Willard F. Harley and Dr. Jennifer Harley Chalmers called Surviving an Affair. In this book, the author describes what may be the worst case scenario when it comes to the fog of a WS. Get it, read it, and understand it before you make any life altering decisions.
Q:How Could You Do This If You Loved Your BS?
Love is; patience, kindness, compassion, empathy, tenderness, graciousness, selflessness, sympathetic. Love is; a constellation of emotions, versatile and complex. Love is an intentional act. Love is abstract.
Love translates into loving behaviors and actions. It is not a feeling on its own. So, by definition, it is arguable whether or not the WS ever loved the BS especially during the affair. However; there is no argument that the WS behaved in a non-loving manner towards the BS by having an affair.
An affair is rarely the result of the absence of love felt towards the BS, but more so a reflection of the lack of love felt towards oneís self. The less love we have for ourselves, the less love we can share through behavior and actions with others. Being incapable of sharing love does not mean there is an ineptness of feeling love for someone. There is a distinct difference between feeling love and actions of love.
Many WSís have an inability to identify what true love is even when it is expressed, the inability to allow themselves to feel loved and to be loved, and the inability to show love. These inabilities could be the result of a multitude of different causes but generally there is the notion that a WS feels unworthy or undeserving of their BSís love.
My affair was a venue to fill a void within myself with a superficial happiness, it had nothing to do with my love for RecoveryRoad. It wasnít that I was incapable of feeling love, it was that I didnít feel worthy of being loved so I chose not to allow myself to be loved; and as a result I was unable to show love or to identify RecoveryRoadís love for me. My affair was a direct reflection of self-loathing; by having an affair it allowed me to hate myself and reinforced my perception that I was unworthy of love.
Q:What were you thinking?
What was I thinking? I suspect youíll get almost as many answers to that question as there are WSís on SI. The easy answer would be to say... I wasnít. At all. If I had been thinking, how could I ever have done this to my best friend, my lover, my wife? But to answer like that would be cheating. It would be cheap. So here goes, with one very repentant FWSís thoughts on the matter.
I certainly wasnít thinking clearly. I certainly wasnít thinking ahead. I was living moment to moment, like a drug addict just looking for my next fix, never caring what was around the corner, or down the road, or, quite honestly, about anyone but myself. I was thinking - if not consciously, then certainly unconsciously, or subconsciously - "Iím feeling down on myself. Iím stressed, and full of self-doubt, and all the affirmations my spouse offers me... well, they have to say those things, right? Because weíre married. Thatís what you say to your spouse. You donít necessarily mean them." (Our MC would later point out that a lot of people STOP saying those kind of things once theyíre married, because they feel they donít have to, but weíre getting ahead of ourselves there.) I was feeling unworthy. Inadequate. And wondering if I was staring the rest of my life in the face. And if that was really the life I wanted.
The funny thing is, it was exactly the life I wanted. I had the job I had always dreamed of having. I was living where Iíd always wanted to live. And I had a wonderful wife who loved and supported me. But something had to be wrong. Life canít really be that good, can it? Something had to be wrong. Something was going to go wrong. So why not preempt it. Break out before it all collapsed around me. Dive into failure headfirst before it could sneak up on me from behind. Sounds perverse, doesnít it? Well, it was. So maybe thatís the first lesson... the WSís train of thought is at least half off the rails at any given moment.
So there was the OP. Convenient. Easy. Unchallenging. And, in my mind, inferior. Oh, not grossly so - that would be unappealing. But just enough that I could feel superior... make the pretense of filling that gaping black hole of low self-esteem by holding myself up next to her. And she wanted me. How could she not? I was smarter. Better looking. More accomplished. The individual reasons may vary, and sometimes it might be flipped - the WS finds someone they think is more attractive, smarter, more successful, because if the OP wants them, then they must measure up to that. The end result is the same. The WS goes searching for external validation, because the internal is weak, or deficient, or altogether lacking. And the BS, by this time, has been subsumed into the internal. Itís selfish. The WS gets so wrapped up in their own head that everything and everyone just becomes a part of that. The BS doesnít even exist except as an extension of the WSís self. And if that self is lacking... well, maybe itís the BSís fault. Maybe thatís the problem.
Thereís a severe disconnect at this point. Only a couple weeks before my A, my BS and I celebrated our anniversary. I gave her a card, and wrote inside it how much I loved her, how much she meant to me, how lucky I was to have her, how much I looked forward to the future with her. At that moment, I was able to step back and see her as the amazing individual she was... and is. In that moment, I really and truly meant it. But all too soon I was back into my own headspace. I wasnít good enough. It wasnít good enough. Nothing was good enough.
So I snapped. And when the OP expressed interest, I dove headfirst into an A. The OP wanted me. My BS wanted me. Two people... both... wanted... me. Maybe that would be enough to fill that chasm inside me. Maybe not.
So on D-day, why didnít I come crawling back to my BS the way I should have? Because it would have been hard. Because I was lazy. Because I didnít want to have to work at a relationship. I didnít want to have to work on myself. And the OP... like I said, it was easy. She was easy. If I could just ignore my BS, the pain I was causing her, the torment I was putting her through, I could get that validation without any work.
But how could I just ignore all that? Well, the OP wanted to render my BS a non-entity. And I jumped right on board with that. I raised some kind of mental block. This was someone else. Someone elseís problem. I had to focus on me. My wants. My needs. Like I said... itís selfish. Some say that suicide is the ultimate selfish act. Allow me to put having an affair in the running against it. Suicide is a momentary action. You do it, itís done. Having an affair... is a series of actions, of choices, moment by moment, prolonged over time, each of them horribly painful for the BS, horribly destructive to the M... and to the BS. My BS told me it would have been easier for her if I died. I believe her.
There were times, during the A, that I thought about dying. Stood by a pool and imagined submerging my head underneath, breathing in water until I just stopped breathing altogether. But you know what? It would have been just another escape... just another "easy" way out. No hard work. Well, not more than a moment. But then it would have been over.
The hard work... is R. What was I thinking when I committed myself to that? That I couldnít live without this woman that I loved. That I didnít want to... no, couldnít bear to lose her. Which was still selfish. Still about me and what I wanted. It took finally coming completely clean - some months after starting R, and setting us back to square one in the process - to make me realize that to be in a marriage, I mean to really BE in a marriage, to commit to it, to build or rebuild it, to nourish or repair it... you canít be selfish. So what am I thinking now? Iím thinking about her. About us. And our future. Together.
Q:Did you compare us?
Yes. I think it's impossible not to unless you're completely disconnected from your emotions. Everyone compares things, people, cars, and lifestyles. It's just human nature.
If your asking how the comparison turned out, I can tell you that my BS won almost everytime.
The only thing that I wanted from my XAP was attention. Selfish and self-centered...that was me. All I cared about was how I was feeling about my BS working so much and how I was alone and lonely. Instead of seeing how hard he was working for us, I just saw a man who did not want to spend time with me. Which was, completely untrue and unfair.
Now, in all other comparisons...my BS won hands down. Looks, attitude toward life, goals, sex, and love.
I remember the day that I decided to end the A, it was like a light came on in my head, or if you will "The fog lifted" I was sitting there talking to XAP and he was mentioning something about how he and I would be the perfect couple. I thought, "No we wouldn't. All I would want is my H." Then I said that. Then I ended it. Right there. The comparisson was always in favor of my H...always...even during the A. The only thing that allowed me to have an A was the simple fact that I was incredibly selfish.
Affairs are all about selfish wants. I wanted to feel special and that's all. I wanted someone to tell me how great I was. My H was too busy trying to work and go to school full time to deal with all of my inconsequential wants. They weren't important at that moment in time. What was important was getting through school so he could provide for our family.
When I think about it now, it makes me ill. Comparisons will happen, but think about this...your WS no matter how it ended has to live with the knowledge that they intentionally destroyed the trust that binds marriage together. For the rest of my life I will be comparing me now to me during the A. I will always look back at a me that I regret with my whole heart.
Thinking about a comparison between my H and XAP always leads me back to the one question...WHAT the HELL was I thinking?!?!! If anything good can/did come from my A and D-day it was the fact that I now realize what an amazing person my BS is and how honesty with him is so much happier and safe than hiding in the shadows.
Q:Do you think about OP when you are intimate with me?
During the A, always. I cried (privately) at the end of lovemaking because I missed the OM so much. It felt like being unfaithful to the OM. Now, I only think of my H.
Q:Am I second choice?
I canít speak for a (F)WS who is in the very first days of R... perhaps still in the process of HB, and not yet dealing with all the aftermath of their A. I can speak for myself, and (I think) for any other FWS who is truly investing in R.
No, my BS is not second choice. Not by a long shot. But I know sometimes she - as any BS, Iíd suspect - worries that such might be the case. So how do I - how does any FWS - prove that itís not? Beyond the fact that my BS is an amazing, beautiful, intelligent, sexy, caring, wonderful woman... and the OW was a shallow, vapid, petty, selfish strumpet?
R is hard. Sometimes itís very hard. And painful... especially seeing the pain in my BSís eyes when we talk about the A. Especially feeling the pain and remorse inside myself for what I did to her, how horribly I treated her. And especially when she expresses to me the worry that one day Iíll decide it just isnít worth all that pain and effort. And leave her. Again. But Iím not. And I wonít. Because she is worth it. Our marriage is worth it. And there is no way I would ever invest the time and energy that I have put into R in a second choice.
The A was easy. I could have stayed in it without any struggle, just let my marriage go and dive even more headlong into that unhealthy relationship than I did in the first place. It wouldnít have lasted... but it would have been easy while it did. But the easy way... thatís the second choice. You donít go to your "safety school" when you got into your first choice. You donít eat a hamburger from McDonalds when you have filet mignon. And you donít stay in your A when you have a real chance of R with a BS that you truly and deeply love. However hard, however painful it may be. Because itís worth it.
So no... to any BS out there reading this right now, wondering this very thing. Youíre not second choice. You are a wonderful, special person, made all the more so by the simple fact that youíre giving a poor messed-up WS another chance. Just make sure that theyíre making the most of it.
Q:Is it Always the Fog? Do they Always come out of It?
The term "the fog" can be described as being similar to being brainwashed. The thrill of the affair envelops the wayward partner in good feelings and the excitement can be overwhelming. They feel a new high, a feeling of being "in love." They begin to rationalize with themselves in order to cover up their feelings of guilt.
They may convince themselves that their marriage was already bad, that their partner really doesnít love them, and that the affair partner must truly be their "soul-mate" because he/she is the only one that understands them. [Martha Edwards, http://ezinearticles.com/?Surviving-Infidelity:-Understanding-the-Fog&id=569562]
Above, Martha Edwards describes "the fog" as a sort of brainwashing. That type of thinking leads one to believe that the condition is reversible, and in many cases it is. But what happens if it is not? Is it really inevitable that your wayward partner will undergo a reversal of the brainwashing? What if s/he has become fully convinced that the marriage must end? Even when taking the affair partner (AP) out of the equation entirely, the possibility that the wayward spouse (WS) will never snap out of it must be addressed and acknowledged.
It may not take the form of an exit affair, but the affair itself may be the impetus that gives the WS the occasion to see that compared to "the possibilities", the marriage is not where s/he wants to be. To say this is unfair to the betrayed spouse (BS) would be an understatement of the greatest magnitude. However it does happen.
It is necessary to realize that the AP does not have a magical hold over the WS. Instead, the WS chooses to buy into his or her own brainwashing or not. In cases where the WS leaves the AP, a BS often expects the result to be a simultaneous return to sanity and the marriage. Returning to sanity is for the experts to diagnose, but it does not take an expert to see that occasionally the WS does not return to the marriage.
Wayward spouses do not always awaken from the fog to find they are immediately remorseful, regretful, and ready to atone for their sins. Some of them wake up and find they simply want out of the marriage. Other WS do not wake up from the fog, because they were never in it. Unfortunately many WS were living a foggy existence in the marriage, while pretending to be someone they were not. In these most unfortunate of circumstances, the A and post-A WS is the real deal.
In other instances, and my own unscientific review reveals that it seems to happen more often with female WS than with male, the WS has entered the affair as a means of getting the BSís attention. Perhaps she has tried a variety of ways of communicating her dissatisfaction with one or more areas of the marriage and feels she has been ignored. Or it may be that the changes in the relationship she saw were short-lived or half-hearted, in her opinion. Never mind that none of this is a valid reason to seek an inappropriate relationship, but this sort of WS often sets herself up to be caught. There is rarely anything foggy about her, and it can appear that she is staging a drama in which the BS is finally confronted with the severity of her dissatisfaction. Rarely does she see the AP as anything other than someone who provides the sort of attention she would prefer to have from her BS.
Where this is the case, there is no fog out of which to snap; however, if the BS offers the WS the gift of reconciliation, the WS in question will have a large piece of work to do in order to learn better mechanisms for managing situations in which she does not get her way. When traditional communication methods do not work, and the marriage is dissatisfying beyond the normal rocky spots a couple can expect to encounter, the now former WS needs to have the inner strength to work through the situation in a morally acceptable manner, rather than opting to display the equivalent of a sexual temper tantrum, i.e., an affair.
When the now former WS is finally fortunate enough to receive the love in the way she wanted it from her BS prior to the A, she is now in the ever so awkward position of feeling like she does not deserve it. When you have chosen to participate in behavior that is so unloving, be it an emotional or physical affair, it becomes increasingly difficult to accept love and forgiveness if it is offered to you. This creates an additional obstacle for the couple to overcome.
Q:Did you even think of me or our children while you were with him/her?
I did think about my husband while in the A. My A was never about my M...I was one of the WS that had a good marriage and knew it. My A was all about how broken I was inside.
As for my children, at the time I didn't think that I was hurting them. I justified it by saying that they were too young (they were only 18 months and 3 at the time). I told myself that I wasn't taking time away from them because I only spent time with the OM when they were asleep.
I know now that I was not as emotionally involved with them during the time of the A...I was tied up in knots over the OM and the A. If you had tried to tell me that at the time, though...I would have denied it to the end of time. It wasn't until a few months past DDay did it hit me exactly what I had #1 - missed out on with them, #2 - how I had put their family unit in a DIRE situation that was likely to crumble, and #3 - how I had been emotionally detached from them at a critical time in their development.
I remember feeling in a black hole that I couldn't dig myself out of at the time. I know now that I needed professional help to deal with past abuse issues, but I was terrified of bringing old skeletons out of the closet.
I felt guilty while in the A - terribly guilty, and would decide to end the A. So, I would tell the OM that it was over. He would agree that it was for the best. However, we worked together, and at the time I didn't think NC was necessary, and thought I would be strong enough to keep my job and not fall back into it.
It seemed as if the more guilty I felt about the A and the more I thought about my H, the worse I felt about myself. Pretty soon, I would spiral into that guilt, sadness, and depression and the only time I felt any better when I was around the OM. Obviously then I would feel worse, more guilty and the vicious cycle would repeat.
So, yes...I did think about my husband at the time and feel badly about what I was doing. I just felt powerless at the time to get out of it.
Q:What if my WS is saying all of the right things but my gut is telling me something different?
After being crushed by the discovery of a betrayal like this, it's not surprising that your senses would be on high alert. It's important that you listen to the inner voice when it's screaming, but you also need to look at your WS' actions.
Is your WS transparent? Are they accountable for their time? Are they making an effort to treat you more kindly, and to be vocal about their feelings? Are they working to understand what caused them to cheat and to correct that? Is your WS defensive, or does he/she hear your anger and try to reassure you? Does your WS try to justify what he/she did?
Sometimes your gut will be right, but sometimes it can be wrong. "Trust, but verify" Give your remorseful WS some leeway to do the right thing, and when they do, acknowledge it sometimes. At first it might feel like you're rewarding your WS for doing something they should have been doing all along, but it helps keep a remorseful WS motivated.
There is nothing wrong with checking to make sure that your WS is being truthful. Eventually, by being transparent and accountable, a remorseful WS will show that they are worthy of trust again.
Q:Why didn't you trust me enough to share your dissatisfaction before you looked elsewhere?
That is such a difficult question to answer- and it's different for every WS. By the time I was sliding down that slippery slope, I was past the point of trusting my H to change anything.
At that time, I believed I'd try to tell him I was unhappy. My biggest mistake was not being blunt about how I was feeling. Often my husband would dismiss or invalidate my feelings and tell me "you shouldn't feel that way." He thought because he didn't feel that way, that I shouldn't either. Neither of us really validated each others' feelings.
We were also conflict avoiders. We rarely argued and when we did, we just wanted it over as soon as possible. That led to a great deal of resentment. I felt like he wouldn't listen, and he felt manipulated.
Eventually, I just gave up on trying to draw him out and trying to get him to talk to me. I gave up on trying to get him to notice me. Of course, much of that problem was with my own perception of our marriage. I know that I destroyed his trust in me with the A. I had little trust in him before the A and believed that he didn't love me anymore. I had no hope and no sense of self worth.
I trusted no-one, not even my husband, and I hadn't trusted for a long long time. Also with that mistrust was some fear. It's so simple to look at this situation and assume that you'd tell your spouse if you started feeling that unhappy. Maybe I would have too, if it had happened overnight. The slow withering of our marriage was something neither of us really recognized- until I almost threw it away.
Q:What is it you fear most about the future of your relationship with BS after confessing or being caught?
My worst fears after confessing my A to my BW was that my life as I knew it would be over and there would be nothing I could do to change it. I feared that I would lose my wife (and best friend), children, career, reputation and my lifestyle. I feared that the damage I had caused would be too great to repair. I was so scared that I had destroyed the one relationship I needed and wanted the most. I feared that my children would grow up without their daddy and that I would have to sit on the sidelines and watch some other guy raise them in my place. I feared the thought of my wife finding love and comfort with a person other than me. I feared a future without her. I was scared of what I would become because of all of this.
My other fears concerning my relationship with my BW revolved around my own selfishness at first. I feared that too much of the truth would just cause more damage to our already devastated marriage. I was scared of losing face with her. I was scared that if she knew what I really was and what all I had done, she would just walk away. I was afraid of my past catching up with me. Once I started lying, I was too scared to stop.
Above anything else, I still fear that no matter what I do to change myself and repair my marriage, it won't be enough. Even though we are trying to reconcile, my efforts may not make a difference. I fear that I have already sealed my fate.
Q:How do you know you won't cheat again?
I know in my heart that I could never do this to my BW and my children ever again. I could never live with myself if I caused that kind of hurt to any of them again. After seeing the hurt in her eyes and watching her cry herself to sleep on many occasions, I could not hurt her again. I've held her through the crying and I've talked for hours on end. I've discovered things about myself. I've learned things about my BW.
I understand how I changed over time and I know what to do to make sure that I never get to the point I was at when I had my A. My BW and I have set boundaries together and I understand that flirting and being inappropriate, no matter how innocent it may seem, is disrespectful to my wife and damaging to our marriage. I've learned the meaning of fidelity. I now know what it means to be committed to more than just myself.
I know that I won't cheat again because the thing I've learned most through all of this is how to truly love my wife. That is something I feel I haven't fully given her until now. I've also learned the value in being open, honest and truly intimate. I understand how important it is to share hopes, dreams and feelings with my wife. I understand that it takes effort from both of us to make it work. I can't rely on her to hold it together with no effort on my part.
I could never risk my children's future. I don't want them grow up without me. I want them to have the stability of a good home and a loving and supportive family. I want them to know that their parents love them and each other. I've seen them cry over us and I could not bear it again.
I won't cheat again because I don't want to. I want to be with my wife and children. I am content and happy with them and our life together. I look forward to realizing the hopes and dreams we have together. I love them and need them more than they could ever imagine.
Q:Were you more adventurous (sexually) with the OP? And if you denied your spouse those activities what was it about the A that allowed you to be that way with OP and not your spouse?
Yes. As for me, I was more adventurous with xOP. Because xOP was out of my league (younger, lanky and artistic, someone whom I donít normally associate with), I looked at him as a fantasy lover, or idle. I was becoming his fan or groupie. Whenever we talked on IM, we would turn on each other and then talk about what we would do to each other next time we would meet. By acting out those sexual performance made me feel like we were actor and actress in the fantasy movie, and not reality. xOP made me realize that I had naughty side, therefore I was inhibited.
Literally, we were doing at anywhere in the house and even outside. It made me fell like I was performing in the fantasy world. Acting out with the ideal fantasy lover in the limited time, sex became intense and leaving me the feeling of wanting for more and looking forward to the next meeting. It gave me the high and was getting addictive activities for me. FBS asked why I couldn't be wild like with xOP. As for me, BS is my husband and a father of our children, I couldn't cross the naughty side. I felt more embarrassed acting wild like that with FBS back then.
Q:Why would a WS continue an A, and demonstrate more loyalty to an OP than the spouse they've hurt so deeply?
The reasoning of putting xOP first was rooting from love addiction mind. During A, I was confused individual. Even though I was married, but I was thinking of myself as a wife and I was a royal girlfriend to xOP at the same time and I wanted to be connected with him 24/7. Since he was out of league (younger, lanky and artistic, someone whom I donít normally associate with), I made him up like some celebrity and put xOP on the pedestal.
And because we only had the limited opportunity to get together, whenever xOP wanted to get together, I tried to work around my schedule to meet his needs and not only I put my family lower priority, but I didnít respect myself either. I remember when I was even tired, I drove over to xOMís place so, I could get together. On the way back home, I kept saying why am I doing this to myself, but could not stop the behavior.
My FBH would ask, "I was always be here for you, but why did you always want him?" I would say "because I could not see xOM all the time, so whenever he is available, I need to see him"
ETA - I also want to emphasize hurting FBH here:
[During A, we both were emotionally abusing to each other. H did tell me no more seeing xOM and became snappy to me and to the kids, so I told him that I would stop A, but he told me he knew I would be depressed if I didn't see xOM. It continued for awhile. But eventually, the double life took a toll on me. I lost myself and didn't know who I was anymore. Also I didn't want the kids to suspect my life style either. I then finally told myself that ending A with xOM was the way to go. I encouraged xOM to move away from me.
Letting go of A was a gift to everyone. I found a treasure in H and I am cherishing and appreciating his love everyday. My priority has been changed and I am at peace.
Q:How do you heal when you are both the WS and BS?
Being both a BS/WS in a relationship brings a unique set of circumstances. Though at first look it may appear to cause more challenges for reconciliation, it can be advantageous.
The duality of my relationship has given us an opportunity for intimacy and growth that has changed who we are. There are some things I have learned throughout this process that I hope will be helpful to couples in the same situation.
First and Foremost, STOP the comparisons. Though not an easy feat by any means.. this is essential. Though one spouse may have taken their affairs much further than another, pointing this out repeatedly as an attack is counter productive. Finger pointing and blame shifting is exactly what created the mess in our relationship. It was a long-standing pattern for us long before infidelity.
Creating space and time to discuss each affair separately is critical. We literally had to ban all talk of the others indiscretion and choose who needed the floor. It's is so important to actually *hear* one another and be *heard* to heal. So until we could integrate the two experiences we did not bring up the others affair when one of us was triggering.
The advantage of this situation came to me during a intensely painful time. I was hurting so badly.. "How could he do this?? HOW??" I didn't see our similarities at this point and was still entrenched in how much worse his affair was. And I quietly answered my own question. "How? ...The same way you did Meta."
His affair was longer.. with more details and encounters e.t.c. But really what happened after we decided to step outside of our relationship is all just details. What we needed to attack was what we told ourselves to make that o.k. And it turned out .. we had told ourselves the exact same things. I was given a gift by owning my *stuff*. I was shown how very similar we were despite our divisions... and was able to forgive him and myself at the same time.
I feel I know my partner more intimately than I have ever known anyone. I could not even come close to saying that for the first 5 yrs of our relationship.
Reconciliation is not only possible as a two hat wearing couple.. it is more possible in my opinion. Be sure to own what is yours and when tempted to point a finger.. to turn it back on yourself. Two people who are committed to owning their *stuff* and growing together is a journey that I highly doubt you will regret.
There is hope.
Q:Why would a WS demonstrate more loyalty to an OP than the spouse they've hurt so deeply?
There is a sequence of emotions and delusional thoughts that a WS goes through before reaching the end result of loyalty towards the AP. One of the most common factors is the comparison between obligation and sincerity. With the presence of sincerity, there is movement towards trust, and thus movement towards loyalty.
For many WSís, the insincere display of emotions and sense of proprietary obligation is often a learned survival technique that is instilled in childhood. In most cases it is tied closely with compartmentalization. For example; the phrase "I love you because you are my child", translates into "I am worthless and love is an obligation because I am a possession." It is a commonality in WSís, to have learned that you love your family because they are family, and to know that if you have any other feelings towards them, you compartmentalize. There is an obligation that goes with family, so an appropriate degree of importance isnít always placed on what is heard. This moulds the foundation of obligation and forms insincere displays of emotion and the end result is to mistrust those closest to you.
A WS often feels unlovable and that their spouse is obligated to loved them, so they donít trust what the BS is showing and saying because they donít see their own self worth. Then the AP comes along, with no real basis for evaluation, and tells the WS exactly what was heard from the BS, and it becomes believable because there is no apparent reason for obligation.
Validation from someone who is obligated to care (by virtue of marriage or family) appears to be empty to the receiver (WS). The same validation when presented by someone with no vested interest in the WS, some how carries meaning and value because it is not seen as an obligation. Unfortunately, the WS often doesnít identify that the APís validation is backed by an ulterior motive; the WS begins to trust AP and sees the validation as truth; and trust builds loyalty.
I always believed that RecoveryRoad was obligated to be supportive of me, tell me nice things, to love me and to hold me up when I fell because he was my husband not because he believed or wanted to do these things. It wasnít until I allowed myself to believe what RecoveryRoad was telling me and showing me that I realized he chose to behave in this manner because he loved me, not because he was obligated. But before I could truly believe RecoveryRoad, I had to believe those same words about myself.
At the moment when I could see RecoveryRoadís love for me through his devastation over my decision to have an A; this is when my loyalty for AP crumbled. For me, that moment of clarity was d-day.
Q:What if the OP was your soulmate?
As a FWS, this is an area of "dangerous" thinking. I liken it to a barb on a fish hook. It keeps you reeled in. The term soulmate seems to be a new "pop" idea within the past 10 years or so. Almost as if you label someone as your "soulmate", then it is OK to cross boundaries so that you can be complete with this person.
I personally do not put alot of faith into this term. I think anyone could appear to be your soulmate UNTIL you actually do REAL life with them. In the fantasy world of an affair....you and your AP are projecting your best "image" to each other and back at each other. Similar to a looking glass. You add the drama and excitement and illicitness of this relationship to those nearly "perfect" images and it is going to seem like this person is your soulmate.
I do not believe this is true in every case, but for the times it is true, it is dangerous. If you are the BS and your spouse believes they have found their "soulmate" through an affair, I feel for you. This is not rational or realistic. The chemical rush and adrenaline highs of this affair are definitely causing your spouse to be "thinking impaired". EVERY rose has a thorn or two. Do not lose heart. I had some of this thinking. I now realize it was complete foolishness. My affair has cost me greatly in terms of pain and rebuilding.
Think very carefully before you buy this line of thinking.
Q:How could you not think of the consequences, to A spouse, children, family, friends?
Oh, yes, I did think about them. But I was in such a fantasy land that it was all very convoluted. Though, at the time it made perfect sense in my head.
Like, as if my 14 and my 16 year old would really want to live with my OP, and his 4 children? As if they would ever think he was this great and wonderful guy. I really did think this at one point.
My justification went something like this:
- It won't hurt H. What he doesn't know won't hurt him.
- He doesn't deserve me anyways, my destiny was to be with OP.
- This is the best thing for the kids. They don't want to be brought up in an unhappy home.
Besides...I'd move them to the city. Much better than the lake Oh and the best one....my Parents never really liked H anyways, but they would just love OP!!!
Q:Was it real love???
The quick answer here is No.
But Lets start by defining what love is...
I believe love is an action...M. Scott Peck, author of " The Road Less Traveled" defines it as "the will to extend ones self for the sole purpose of nurturing ones own or another's spiritual growth."
Some WS "think" they loved their AP. I do not believe this is accurate . Falling in love has its genesis in "sexual attraction". "Falling in love" is effortless and requires no thought.
Many people possess a "feeling" of being in love yet act in ways to that feeling that are clearly unloving and destructive. We do not fall in love with our parents, siblings or children. We "chose" to act in love toward them because of the bonds we have built with them.
When WS say they loved their AP, most of the time they are saying I "loved" how you made me feel...I "felt" beautiful. I "felt" desired, I " feltí sexy. You see affairs are entirely self serving....it really is all about "me". Now love on the other hand is an action verb. Its all about giving, in a healthy manner ...giving to another for the purpose of them to grow and become the best possible person they can.
How can that be possible when the entire relationship is built on lies. Lust and Aís are all about "getting" not "giving". And in the end it is not real love but rather a constant ego stroking in an effort to maintain that euphoric high "feeling" of love.
Real love requires effort and thought and work and selflessness. The commitment of a marriage is really what love is...to give , and nurture and extend our selves to our spouses despite our feelings, that ebb and flow like the tide.
Q:What were you like when you were with op? How were you different or were you?
I think that most people will agree that you are different with your OP. You are in fantasy land and so all of the things that you worry about, day to day problems are non existent.
When I was with my XOM, all I cared about was how I looked. How he thought I looked, and sex. That was the extent of my thoughts...my looks and sex. How shallow can a person be? For me, it was never more than that. I wanted attention, and XOM provided it. When I was with XOM I was so shallow. I never thought about anything important, it was an escape, like a cheap vacation. So when I was with him all I thought about was myself...not even HIM! Every A is different, so this is a very subjective question, however fantasy land applies to most all affairs. That being said, the national anthem of fantasy land is "I am a Selfish SOB!" Meaning that most people, like myself are only thinking of their needs.
How I was different with XOM was that I didnít have deep feelings for him. Even during my A I loved my H. I did. He was just so BUSY! He didnít have time for me and I was young and stupid. I thought he was a jerk b/c he was working a night job and going to school full time. I wanted his attention, but he didnít have time to give it to me. Instead of being patient, I decided that I would fulfill my sexual needs else where. So the me that I was with XOM was only interested in one thing. One very basic thing...sex.
I didnít want to hear about his day or fix his problems. I just wanted sex, and once that was fulfilled...I was done. Emotionally, I was totally closed off with XOM. With my H this was never the case. My H has a way of getting under my skin...good or bad he can always evoke strong emotions. XOM didnítí have that power, and never did.
Q:Why the sudden powerful passion for your wife and marriage once the A has been discovered?
After my BS found out about the affair, we talked... talked like we hadn't talked in about 5 years. Communicated on levels that had not been there for so long. I never stopped loving my BS, I know hard to believe for the BS. I was feeling alone, rejected and no longer seen really as a person in his eyes. I was deeply hurt and acted out when the first kind man offered the emotional support I needed.
So when my husband and I began talking, so many hours, about what brought me to this horrible action and we/he discovered so many things that were wrong and began working on them, it made us stronger and appreciate each other like never before. I finally opened my eyes, as did he (and he will agree) that we both almost lost something we cannot do without and that is each other.
The A was an eye opener and I am sorry for such hurt and pain but yes, I do love my husband more passionately than ever because we are now in such a better place. I can't say that of the first few days after discovery. We were both very hurt and confused and not sure what route to take, either of us. I feel we took the right one and our love is so much stronger!
Q:What are the reasons a WS would confess their affair?
I debated for a long time whether or not to confess my affair to my husband. We had pre-affair issues that needed to be addressed, and I was consumed with guilt as well for my actions. I was not sure I still felt love for my husband, nor was I sure I wanted to stay in the marriage. I have NEVER blamed my affair on him in any way. That is mine to own. However, our marriage belongs to us both, and I wanted to make sure things changed for both of us. After much soul searching, I finally confessed for the following reasons:
- I knew I could not leave a marriage I had not tried to save. I had to do that for me.
- I felt it would be unfair to my husband to loose a battle he didnít even know he was fighting.
- I was not sure I wanted to stay in the marriage and I wanted all cards on the table. I felt he needed to know exactly what I had done, so he could make an informed decision for himself as to whether he wanted to be with me or not.
- I wanted him to hear it from me.
- Confessing brought the affair to a final end. I was in love with the other man, and had tried to end it many times before, and confession brought it out in the open.
- I felt my husband had a right to know. I made vows to him and I broke them.
We needed to decide what to do next.
I do not regret my decision. We decided to try counseling and it has been a wonderful thing for both of us. We are continuing to work on our marriage. My husband has been very kind and respectful to me and has never called me names or been verbally abusive. We almost immediately focused on our marriage and have been working very hard to create the marriage we both want. He has told me many times he is glad I told him. It was the right choice for us.
Q:What are some of the needs you had and wanted from your BS or WS that helped you feel that R was real or a real possibility?
Other than: No contact, be open and honest, donít gas light, no fence sitting, and so on. I have taken posts from myself and others to try to cover other things each can do to help the other feel safe to share feelings and move along the long hard road to recovery.
Thanks for their input on this goes to: Inchoate, what_a_mess, click go, Dinky, setecastronomy, Hurt&Crushed, beer love, cjonesjag, and DamagedMan.
These are not in any type of order but are needs that myself and others have expressed.
First of all both need to be clear that they are making a commitment to try. No one has a crystal ball, and while we'd all like guarantees that our efforts and exposure will have the desired outcome, the decision to try to R cannot be predicated on conditions like "as long as you promise you won't divorce me after all." It is reasonable to agree to shelve decisions about D, for example, for some sensible period of time, like 6 months, so that neither party is waiting for the axe to fall.
For example: I as a WS needed my husband to tell me that he was not going to give up or leave while I tried to work on my issues and our marriage. I needed to be told that several different times. I needed him to be there with me while I was doing this. He was my support and I couldnít have gotten to where I am without him. Also, he needed to know that I was going to be there and not give on him either, he wanted to know that I was not going to abandon him and leave him to his pain.
Both BS and WS have a need to feel safe and protected. The need to be held or just laying your head on the others chest and listen to BS/WS heart beat. This is needed for emotional safety as well as to feel physically safe. The need to know that your spouse is going to be there, just be there so that you could be close to them and touch them. When denied your spouses touch it hurts so badly.
Being there to support one another is big. We all need help and support on both sides. When the BS is down the WS should try to 'prop' them up and vice versa with the WS, the BS should be willing to support them when they are down also.
Having my husband there for support was a huge deal to me. He gave much more of himself than I ever thought he could. He was always there to help me through and explain things differently so that I could see something in a different light and that would help. If your spouse is moody, upset, whatever, and you ask "what's wrong?" Try not get upset or angry when you are told the truth.
Realize that *honesty* gives the BS more than just the truth ~ it shows the BS that the WS is WILLING to put *themselves on the line* in order to help the BS. It shows the BS that their feelings are valid and the BSís REAL status *to the WS* REALLY IS "important."
Don't tell your BS to "get over it already." The WS made the choice to betray and the opportunity to think about it before, during, and after. The BS has only had since D-Day to absorb it all, so remember that the answers that a BS has is "new" to the BS where it is "not new" for the WS.
Disclosure and explication. Many marriages with infidelity also have distance and poor communication, plus infidelity calls everything you thought you "knew" about your partner into question. Assume nothing. Ask about everything. Similarly, be very clear in everything you say --no shorthand or "but you know what I mean when I say that!" Now is a good time to renovate your communication style and rebuild a new one.
Radical honesty. "I don't remember" isn't an acceptable answer to questions about the details. If you can't remember, the BS is going to fill in the blanks, and those mind movies are generally far worse than the reality. Save us from that. Give us the truth. If you "truly" do not remember, tell your spouse that you really donít and also tell them that you will find the answer and get back to them.
Communication lines have to go both ways and also the BS has to understand that it is hard to admit to what happened if faced with an angry BS. A WS needs to feel safe being able to say what they feel.
Example: WS: "I am hurting right now." BS: "And you think I care." or "You think you hurt more than I do?"
This makes the WS tend to not tell their true feelings because they cannot express how they feel in a safe environment.
Also a BS needs to feel safe in communicate their feeling to the WS without the WS getting angry or mad. Being able to talk calmly more often makes it easier to be more honest and open. Try to remain calm and listen to your spouse. Also thank them for opening up to you. This will allow your spouse to listen to you and to validate your feelings instead of being defensive. Telling your spouse what you are feeling and asking for reassurance instead of stewing about it will also make you feel better.
One member said, "My FWH said to me "I can see how you've changed and I can see the damage I've done"
This was HUGE for me as many, many times I've tried to get across to him just how much this has affected me and how I have changed right to my core, and that everything about me is different now, how I look at the world has changed now (and unfortunately not for the better) and I didn't think he got it.
That he acknowledged my pain has been a huge help to me.
Both parties need to willing and ready to acknowledge effort by the other. It's pretty hard to keep trying, especially when you're already debilitated, if your spouse appears completely unaware or unimpressed with your efforts. It's a risk in a sense, but that's what R is all about.
Another member said, "I try to acknowledge the effort my FWW puts into R at least once a week. Some weeks are harder to do that than others, but I can see her light up when I recognize that her efforts are not going unnoticed.
That works both ways as well. Here is part of a message my FWW sent me that made my day.
"I love you and I know we can get through this, we just have to work at it. You are an inspiration to me and I will always appreciate that from the bottom of my heart.
YOU have shown me the endless possibilities of what true love is.
P.S. Keep your head held high, you should be proud of yourself for what you have had to endure!!!!" Just recognize each others efforts from time to time. It goes along way towards getting us through our days."
Acknowledgement of effort from one spouse to another is Huge.
One other member said, "I wish my husband would take me by hand and look me in my eyes and tell me, with true love in his voice and no anger or ego - true humility, that "I'm so sorry for betraying your trust, how can I regain I it again."."
We all want to feel safe and have a safe place to express your feelings. Safe places have to be planned and provided. Safe places for honesty, for anger, for self-reflection, and for communication. These can be things like shared journals for the "hard" conversations, special times when it's agreed that you won't talk about the A and will just enjoy each other, opportunities to speak/vent without interruption or criticism, or other agreements that you reach together.
One thing that I really needed to know was that my husband loved me and thought he could forgive me (not the deeds) over time. Knowing that gave me the strength to keep going forward and work toward that forgiveness and my husbands love. (Thanks for this goes to Fallen).
Neither BS or WS has to forgive the affair. Neither BS or WS has to forget the affair. This will take time and work on both parts. The WS has to show their love and commitment and desire to go forward. The BS has to let go of their desire for revenge, to hurt them, to have resentment towards them. A BS can forgive their WS for hurting them if they can believe this will not happen again.
If you donít learn from past mistakes then history will repeat, so learn from bad choices so they will not be a choice again. There are things in which the WS has to understand that the BS needs certain things also to reassure them that they are making the right choice to give the WS the gift of working with the BS to better their marriage and strengthen it so that the foundation is strong and sturdy.
Spending alone time with your spouse, whether it is talking about what happened, talking about whatever, or just being with each other helps to bring the closeness back.
If possible have a 'date', just the two of you doing something. It may be just sitting in the yard watching the stars, or a walk on the beach (I wish I was close enough to do that one). It doesn't have to be expensive but the "quality time" you get together is wonderful.
Always let your BS know where you are, if you are going to be late, if something happened where you took another train/flight or something and when you might be arriving either late or early. Don't make them wonder and worry.
Also don't go anywhere that you wouldn't take your spouse. If your spouse isn't welcome then you shouldn't be there.
Don't hang out with friends that are not friends of the marriage. You can have a friend but your spouse should approve of this friend. If you have a friend that hangs around with the OP they should not be your friend.
Each one of our cases are different yet similar and this is not a one size fits all, you have to do what brings YOU inner peace and the ability to not obsess about the affair and focus on healing and rebuilding your marriage.