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Men only - Timeline to regain respect for FWW?

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64fleet posted 8/5/2010 09:45 AM

Now, when she tells me she loves me, she expects that to help, but it hardly means a thing, since she claims that she loved me at that time. So what's the point? Her loving me wasn't a deterrent then, so why should that make me feel good now?

I get & got the same shit, the same ILY I heard, then she would call OMM the second I hung up.

just words to make them feel better, IMO.

WhiteCarrera posted 8/5/2010 13:11 PM

Yeah -- it's just hard to know what will make me feel good again. Her saying, "I love you," and also saying "I've always loved you, even then," just creates a contradiction that does no good.

By both of our accounts, things were great for us at the time she started the affair, so I have a hard time figuring out what we're working to regain. Things can return to great, and I'll not be sure if it really means anything or not.

Semaj posted 7/7/2011 07:10 AM

I read through this entire thread over 2 days and it makes me shutter.
I want to

My long time college friend who was a lady killer always said that no matter how fine/beautiful/sexy/whatever, somewhere there is a man tired of screwing her or putting up with her bovine fecal matter.

I never knew how right he was. I also wonder if the true power in the relationship lies with the party that cares the least then where does that leave us as men who suffer through this wretched thing.

foundoutlater posted 9/28/2011 17:11 PM

I can only hope that those moments when I can see the beauty and love can oneday be the norm again.

64fleet posted 9/28/2011 20:28 PM

I also wonder if the true power in the relationship lies with the party that cares the least then where does that leave us as men who suffer through this wretched thing.

The key is to quit caring, IMO.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

nuance posted 9/28/2011 22:29 PM

Wow, didn't know about this thread. First WAL's reply shocked me until I saw the date. WAL 2007 is way different than WAL 2011. We can see the healing.

I wish sometimes I could go back to that now deleted 2000 Yahoo groups and read what I wrote then.

numb&dumb posted 9/28/2011 22:37 PM

Anyone gain the respect of their WW again ? Today I don't see respect except for parenting skills. In all other places I don't see respect. Hell I don't know if I even like her right now.

The weird part is that I can still have sex with her. I don't feel loving, it is more about meeting my needs. I provide for "her" physical needs too, but emotional connection is all but absent. I might as well be using a love doll. I feel a little guilty about this. Is this because I don't respect her ? Does some sick part of me get satisfaction by "using" her ? Anybody else witness this ?

The guilt goes away once the reality of our situation hits me, but I feel the same after a session that I did when I took home the ugly girl from the bar back in my single days. Is this making sense to anyone ? Anyone have similar thoughts/issues ?

Do I have an unhealthy attitude towards sex ? Guys level with me. Is there something messed up there ?

64fleet posted 9/29/2011 17:06 PM

I feel exactly the same, N&D, esp since WW always keeps her eyes closed during sex-like maybe she imagines I'm someone else?

I've had the same feeling towards sex now as you, in fact it's much rougher also.

After a short while the guilt passes-I'm a guy. Wish I had learned this in high school.

foundoutlater posted 9/29/2011 17:20 PM

Well the HB wore off and now it just depends on the day I guess. Two days ago it was like that. No emotion and not all that great physically. Hope that does not happen often. Relected and realize I was really struggling with "how could she be like that and have sex with him" that day so I guess it is a respect issue - not sure. So much BS to sort through. Heard a song by the Pretenders this monring - "I'll Stand by You" released in 1994 - when A resumed but first time while M.

[This message edited by foundoutlater at 6:03 PM, September 29th (Thursday)]

wincing_at_light posted 9/29/2011 18:11 PM

Wow, didn't know about this thread. First WAL's reply shocked me until I saw the date. WAL 2007 is way different than WAL 2011. We can see the healing.

I just got a PM reminding me that this thread existed about a week ago.

One of the things I think it's essential to remember when digging back through time like this is that the fact that things have changed doesn't invalidate the feelings from that time. Everything I wrote in 2007 was authentic and valid for those circumstances. One of the temptations as we heal is to minimize our own suffering and the hard things we went through because we don't feel the blunt emotional trauma of it any longer.

I would caution everyone to remember that healing is not and should not be the same thing as forgetting. It's important to honor the journey as much as the outcome.

(Note: not suggesting that this was your intent, nuance. Just a thought that spanged through my head. I think people need to understand that when I read back through this thread, I don't wince at my own comments. Part of me nods my head, remembering what those feelings were like. Those experiences and truths relevant in the context in which they were spoken will always be a part of me. They may not be useful now, in the present, but that doesn't mean they weren't as true then as my present reality today.)

Mighty posted 9/29/2011 18:56 PM

I get what you are saying WAL. I needed that second breaking of a false R to knock and send me down a different path.

But...Um.. WAL. I need you to write me a book. Every single time I run across your postings, they are part of my story. Seriously, looking back at these early ones, it is where I’m at now. I have been unattracted to my own wife now for months... longing and lusting for her is dead. Porn is sometimes used to ‘get me in the mood’ because she can’t. A month without sex is a cakewalk. And I just can’t keep my eyes off other women and wondering if that stranger would be a better choice. She IS treating her affairs as a bump in the road whereas for me it is a life altering event. She doesn’t want to talk about her A’s anymore and basically runs for cover if I bring it up... OK, she never ‘wanted’ to talk, but now she just sits silently giving me a pity look like “Oh, this again...” never defending herself. Even if I rage, she sits there, takes it, and nothing changes. She looks over my shoulder because I might be having a RA. We have that pattern where we have separate lives to a large degree.

I’m just lost at this point where to go.... This ‘past’ is just so much vapor still I can’t get a hold on. She is working on the marriage in ‘the now’, it isn’t that bad. But ‘the past’ and therefore a part of who she is, she has dubbed as ‘too private’ or whatever. She sounds like the woman you described at the beginning of this thread: Doing only half-assed attempts at what I’ve asked for, never being proactive (with some exceptions) at addressing the damage. It’s almost like she’s grabbed the cliff notes of “how to recover from infidelity” and skipped to the end chapters dealing with rebuilding a marriage... She ignored the ‘confession’, the ‘affair story’, the self-reflection of ‘why’, and the damage to the BS chapters. She hasn’t had to really look in my eyes and tell me everything and dealt with the full brunt of that pain she caused. She just did it in bits and pieces until she decided ‘this isn’t helping you’ and went silent. Ugh!!!

wincing_at_light posted 9/29/2011 21:29 PM


So, your post here in conjunction with the one you've got going in recon (about your fat wife) sparked some conversation in my house that provoked me to revisit some semi-painful realizations I had to accept about myself. I don't know if they apply to you, but I'll throw them out there for what they're worth.

All of this is predicated on what I think is a simple, unalterable truth: there is a vanishingly small window of opportunity for the WS to display heartfelt, authentic and consistent remorse. And when I say that, I measure it in fucking weeks after D-day. Certainly no more than three months.

There are things a BS *must* have from their WS in the way of remorse -- and I mean unprompted, uncoached, un-asked-for things that any thinking human being with the brain of a troglodyte should find immediately obvious -- in this window. Complete commitment to NC. Accepting total responsibility. Absolute resistance to the urge to blameshift, either on the BS or on the "state of the marriage". A willingness to talk, to reveal, to answer questions, to be transparent and supportive.

You know the list.

If those things don't happen, then the BS has to either leave or start making compromises. We have to turn the marriage into a protracted state of trench warfare where we mark out territories over which to do battle and we fight until we win. It becomes reconciliation through attrition and sheer stubborn refusal to lose.

(Truly, my sense is that BS's who get this in the early stages are much more likely and willing to start forgiving and apportioning themselves blame for the affair. They're the ones who say, "If I had been better at x, y, or z, this might not have happened. So I should improve in those areas." They have the freedom and compassion that allows them to be magnanimous in a way that is mutually healing, to accept part of the burden of responsibility solely because their WS did not try to foist it off on them from the start. Accepting blame becomes an act of love, mercy and charity. Not to say that this is better and without it's own set of self-destructive pitfalls for the BS, but it's certainly an improvement over the Trench Warfare Method of Reconciliation (tm), at least in the short term.)

I dare say that your wife has effectively missed that window, much like my wife did.

One of the things I realized at some point about two years in was that if my wife suddenly *started* giving me all of those things, I no longer had the capacity to appreciate them. I had written her off to such an extent that I would have seen them as more manipulation tactics or some desperate attempt to relieve her conscience. To be frank, she had been my enemy for so long, I couldn't countenance the idea that she was worth anything other than my enmity in return. We were living in our very own Cold War, and I was cool with that. It made her easier to dismiss in order to do my own thing, think my own thoughts, blah, blah. I didn't have to account for her at all, because she didn't matter to me in any practical way, except as an obstacle. I realized this right about the time it dawned on me that I was intentionally dredging up the affair in my own mind so I could be pissed off about stuff when I needed to be a focused, grouchy asshole about something. Or when I was just cranky in general, I could foist it off on my wife for being a cheating bitch instead of asking myself why I was cranky today.

Having a cheating wife becomes a pretty good coping mechanism for life stress after awhile. Here's a true story to illustrate: I work on a college campus. We've always got these bright-eyed kids running around trying to get you to give money to starving babies in Africa or to help build schools for underprivileged women in Asia. One day, a particularly pleasant do-gooder didn't just let me wave her off and asked me if it was just that I didn't care about the plight of whatever distressed population she was yammering on about.

And the first thing that popped into my mind to say to her was, "You know what? Fuck them. I've got my own problems with a stupid, cheating, bitch wife."

See, it wasn't that I was even particularly bitter at that point...I'd just realized all of the possible ways that having a cheating wife could be utilized to wall me off from things I didn't want to think about. It became a coping mechanism for avoiding other things.

And that, of course, isn't even the root of it. We'll get to that.

So, what a thread like this illustrates is that men in our position of Ongoing Entrenched Warfare stop liking who our wives are on the inside. Which is okay. I know lots of guys who don't like their wives, but seem to be generally happily married otherwise. Problematically, in my first post in this thread, I've also used the word "repulsive" to describe my wife's outside. Your wife, it appears, has gone to fat, which is close enough to repulsive in horse shoes and hand grenades, at least for the purpose of this discussion.

Which means that guys like us don't like who our wives are on the inside and we don't like who they are on the outside...which is pretty much the whole package. We can say objectively that we don't much like them at all, in any way, shape or form.

And yet...we've stayed. Having been handed a golden ticket to not only get out of the marriage free, but also a magic phrase ("my last wife cheated on me") which will practically guarantee access to the undergarments of women of a certain matronly disposition in every bar, church, supermarket and social gathering in America, we have -- against all logic to the contrary -- decided to stay with someone for whom the hatred is so visceral, it's turning our hair prematurely gray.

What, I came to ask myself, the fuck is going on here? Why am I staying with someone I can't stand physically, emotionally or intellectually, who has actively thwarted every step I've made to come to terms with what she's done to me?

(And, no, the answer is not "for my kids". That's a compelling reason, but not sufficient. Not in the 21st century. I will, however, accept the answer, "I'm staying to win, to punish her at every opportunity I get and ultimately, to make the rest of her life as miserable as she made mine." That answer is both acceptable and honorable in its own protracted-revenge way, and particularly effective, I think, with the sort of WW who is so shame-driven and self-disrespected that she'll accept a level of treatment somewhat less charitable than the way you or I might treat our dogs. Which is to say that I'm very fond of my dogs, but I don't really consider their opinion when I'm deciding what I want to do with myself this weekend. If you can dig it, it's sort of like all the benefits of being single, only with someone else to help with the cooking and laundry who also happens to know that it isn't their place to bother you with the details of their personal life.)

Nevertheless, this does leave the looming issue hanging over our heads of why we've chosen to stay with someone who, after a certain expiration date, couldn't show sufficient remorse or make sufficient amends even if they suddenly felt compelled to...because we couldn't accept it even if they did.

For me, that was ultimately the cusp of this mythical state of Acceptance we hear so much about. I realized that remorse was meaningless to me. What I'd really been hankering for during that first couple of years was the Time Machine. The only amends I would accept, having missed the window of opportunity, was for her to go back in time and make it so that it never happened. I couldn't accept anything short of that.

Except that it's patently impossible. And I know that. Which means I'm intentionally setting an impossible standard for her to meet...because I didn't want to face the fact that this was really my life. These things had really happened.

And I had stayed. Why? If I hated her so much, why did I stay? If I had to watch porn just to get it up enough to fuck her, why wasn't I out there fucking someone I actually wanted to fuck?

Because I was scared. I refused to accept where I was at, but wasn't going to change my circumstances because what I might get in return could be worse than regular access to my kids, my house, my full paycheck and easy sex. My wife was a backup plan for my competing fantasies of a life that I had lost on the one hand, and I life I was afraid to risk all on the chance of obtaining.

Talk about limbo. I was paralyzed by my own inability to take a chance, to let go of my own accept that my life was what it was and I had to respond somehow. Instead, I chose not to respond and to just marinate in my own angries.

I'd love to tell you that it ultimately wasn't very satisfying and I snapped out of it...but the truth is that it was *immensely* satisfying. Everyone should have a nemesis upon whom they can heap scorn and blame for all of the bad things going on in their life. It's amazingly liberating and de-stressing to not have to sweat the small stuff because there's all of this BIG STUFF your spouse is responsible for.

The problem, of course, is that my wife refused to stay in that box as she got healthier and set about to be so doggedly, determinedly cute, supportive and generous of spirit that I couldn't ignore her anymore. And familiarity doesn't just breed also breeds familiarity, and affection, and all of the good things that make marriage so icky-sticky-wonderful.

But somewhere along the way, I had to accept that I had chosen to accept the unacceptable. My wife had stabbed me in the back and I had chosen to stay not as an act of love and forgiveness, but because I was too risk-averse to start over. I had to learn to forgive myself for that. I had to learn to accept that I am by nature risk-averse, and I am completely the sort of guy who will stay with a cheating wife.

Not only stay with her, but be willing to open my heart and love her again. Which, to this day, half of my cro-magnon dude brain says makes me an immedicable pussy.

I would submit to you that this is where you're at right now. You're not really tormenting yourself with the questions: how could my wife do this to me? What does it say about how broken she is or how viable a partner she will be in the future?

But rather: what does it say about me that I am staying with someone who has done this to me?

And, if I answer that question honestly, can I live with the truth of who I am?

And that, my friend, is not a question your wife's remorse (or lack thereof) can answer for you.

The sad part is that I'm still not sure there is an answer -- no matter how it's answered -- that's ever really satisfying. You know that old Nietzsche saying about when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares into you? When we start the process of looking into ourselves for answers about who we really are, I would argue that if you ever walk away completely satisfied with what you have seen, you haven't looked hard enough.

Who we are is a terrible, terrifying mystery. I think the real courage is in trying to understand that, not in wishing we were some other way.

nuance posted 9/29/2011 22:57 PM

Oh no, I think your feelings were valid. We should not minimize them and the WS should not minimize theirs also. But we can tell you're in a better place now.

N&D: don't feel guilty. Sex is the only good thing we get in the early months.

numb&dumb posted 9/30/2011 00:02 AM

WAL- So I guess you went through a period of protracted trench warfare, like two years. Later your wife became healthy enough not to take the-whatever you want to call it- anymore and you eventually you began to love her again ? Or is it more like good friends who parent, share household chores and have sex ? Where are you at with your wife today ?

I am not trying to pick apart your narrative. As a somewhat recent BH, I am looking at potential outcomes and your story has piqued my interest. My wife is displaying similar behaviors and I guess I am interested how yours is today. It may help me come to terms with another approach to this crap.

[This message edited by numb&dumb at 12:03 AM, September 30th (Friday)]

wincing_at_light posted 9/30/2011 06:03 AM

Absolutely a fair question, numb.

I love my wife. Even more, I respect my wife tremendously for the work she's done, the responsibility she's taken and the effort she's put in to working on her A stuff, the childhood sexual abuse and her bipolar disorder.

We had a major turning point right about the 3-3.5 year mark. By that time, I'd healed enough to finally be able to see what she was doing right and accept it for what it was rather than as a way of manipulating me into rugsweeping. Part of that was her ongoing effort, but the other part was the work I'd done to both heal myself, focus on getting what I wanted/needed out of my life and changing some of the expectations of our marital dynamic to allow me to be more independent than I had been previously.

Our marriage looks different today than it did five years ago...and even 7 years ago (i.e., before the A started), because we're different people. My wife will tell you that she's done a lifetime of growing up in that span. I would say that we've both learned a great deal about being supportive without being enmeshed. It's much more an adult relationship with adult expectations of one another.

(That's one of the advantages, I think, of the trench warfare route. You work on yourself and finding your own happiness as a free agent in the world rather than spending all of your energy on "the marriage".)

So I'd definitely consider us a success story, but with the caveat that, as the trench warfare model implies, I wasn't able to come around to the idea of reconciling until I'd extracted my pound of flesh...that is, until I felt like the amount of suffering we'd endured was, while different in nature, roughly equal. I don't think most WW's I've encountered would have put up with it. That was one of the things that earned my respect. My wife put her feet on the path of contrition and didn't waver. She let me be angry without trying to talk me out of it. She let me be who I needed to be without making false demands that I was obligated to be her husband first and foremost.

numb&dumb posted 9/30/2011 09:23 AM

WAL- thank you. I see you having a similar attitude to me in most. That is why I was so interested in your story. Thanks for expanding on it for me.

Mighty posted 9/30/2011 10:53 AM

Wow WAL, thank you!
Some things stood out as similar, others, not so much. I have done a ton of reflecting and soul searching over these last few years. I agree with that window. My WW missed that boat, so the ramification is ‘trench warfare’... It is a familiar battleground. Trenches were dug in ‘98 when she made the choice to put me into a sexless marriage. Forts, walls, and battle plans are the only real thing that’s changed since. She finally picked the nuclear option. I survived and adopted new tactics and defenses. I’m facing an opponent.

But rather: what does it say about me that I am staying with someone who has done this to me?

And, if I answer that question honestly, can I live with the truth of who I am?

And that, my friend, is not a question your wife's remorse (or lack thereof) can answer for you.

This is what I recognized and what I’ve been dealing with since Jan ‘10. It IS about me. This was when I had closure on the marriage. I had just given my family one last happy vacation before I filed and tore this apart. That was the last time my gut aligned with my brain for a consistent amount of time. And this was when my WW did something new; She started talking, showing signs of remorse, and utter panic and fear of what she had done. My gut flipped on me; Hope. I decided to let it play out.

The real crux of the issue that bothers me though is the ‘why do I stay?’ I am a rational person who seldom acts on my emotions. Emotions start the ball rolling down a path, but it’s the rational side that I use to re-assure myself my gut sent me down the right path. So, for the first real time in my life, I face a crossroads and have locked up because I can’t use rational thought to justify a emotional act. My brain doesn’t click like that without rebelling.

So it’s my rational side that looks for reason, asks questions, needs to find problems, and needs to see those problems addressed simply to validate my emotional decision (or change it).

Example: I bought a BMW M3. Poor gas mileage, not a good winter car, god awful expensive, really not the best choice out there. But driving it was like “oh wow!” So, I used my brain to justify this huge purchase. I found enough reason to comfort myself: The commute isn’t long (less gas), 4 doors so the family can fit, clients want me to look successful, I can race it, etc.

Feeding the rational part of my brain with that information is where she’s ultimately failed me. She has fed me the ‘cons’ side of the equation. And like you’ve mentioned (the window), too many times her ‘pro’ actions were a manipulation act, so those get added to ‘the other side’. So now, even the genuine ones are all too easily dismissed or questioned as probably ‘false’. I ruled out back in ‘10 that I needed to look at her to decide whether this was going to work or not and needed to look within.

Everything since, everything I’ve asked for, everything I see, I use to try and convince my rational side that my emotional side is correct (what I really want) or false (what I fear). And I haven’t; I’m fogging myself intentionally latching onto anything I can that might either swing my emotional decision down another path, or let my rational side swing to align with my emotions.

My rational side see’s a significantly damaged human being that is bound to create some new misery for me down the road; It see’s pain ahead (this path) or happiness (but it is conditional on a new path by her.... something she has refused). My emotions still say “oh wow!” around her....

Hence the issue. I have accepted I’m this person who needs ‘reasons’ to do what my emotions want. That’s me. And I’m stuck simply because I have been asked to face a life altering choice where I can’t get ‘reason’ to support my gut. To fully accept this marriage ‘as is’ means changing who I am on a very primal core level of how I think and make decisions. I’m not that guy.

We had a major turning point right about the 3-3.5 year mark. By that time, I'd healed enough to finally be able to see what she was doing right and accept it for what it was rather than as a way of manipulating me into rugsweeping. Part of that was her ongoing effort, but the other part was the work I'd done to both heal myself, focus on getting what I wanted/needed out of my life and changing some of the expectations of our marital dynamic to allow me to be more independent than I had been previously.

And I’m here to a degree. I honestly do see her efforts, big and small at how she deals with things ‘now’. It is a massive difference in how she deals with me.

Yet at that core is this acknowledgment by me that she has deeper core issues. So it’s not just about me. She too needs to look inside; I can’t do that for her. She has, but just as far as the surface. For the core stuff, I do not see change... I see the same old core issue; Avoidance. This doesn’t feed my rational side ‘pro’ items. She is avoiding really looking deep in that mirror. She still simply presents a facade of who she wants to be seen as... Not an integrated person or open book.

What sucks for me and part of the emotional ‘wow’ is that I know enough about her, have seen through those chinks in her armor, that if she’d stop trying to control or care about what others see and just be herself..... Man she’d be an awesome woman. It’s in her and always has been. She just needs to go down that path. I’d accept her, and even find beauty in those flaws. My emotional and rational agree on that. Unfortunately, that isn’t what I have. It is just a possibility and only she can make that turn. Drives me batty.

asurvivor posted 9/30/2011 12:36 PM

Short and simple for a 5.5 year outer

1 year for me to come back down to earth
2 years for me not to have thoughts every 1-2-3 minutes about the affair which were debilitating
3 years for me not to have the know...crazy thoughts 24 times a day. Had them, but not as much.
5 years before I stating to feel almost normal.
5 1/2 years before I stopped thinking about ripping other guys lungs out...thank God that appears gone.

Probably not what you wanted to hear but that's the way it's been

64fleet posted 9/30/2011 13:24 PM

How about respect for WW, asurvivor-is that there yet?

asurvivor posted 9/30/2011 13:52 PM

I don't know if I lost it or gained it back or...I just don't know. I was so F-ed up for so long that it's truly hard for me to process that question. I know I wanted to throw her out a window and win her back at the same time and these conflicting thoughts went through my mind 24-7 for a very very long time. I honestly don't know if I lost total respect for her...I know I hated her and loved her at the same time and I bet a few of the guys out there know exactly what I'm talking about. I can tell you at this point we have found our way back to each other but the elephant is still there somewhere...maybe in the closet but still there. I know that probably doesn't help but it is my experience and we all are different.

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