To put it bluntly, I feel like a woman. Not in that way. I just haven't been feeling very manly lately. STBXWW cheated and walked out on me. She left me with DD and our custody agreement is shaping up to the seemingly traditional every other weekend and one weeknight. Only she is taking the "Father's special" and I have the lions share ie. the mother's court mandated "right" just for being female. (OK, a little exaggeration there, but there's no doubt that's how it typically shakes out.)
I suspect STBXWW has engaged in casual sex with at least 1 more partner since OM, and has also continued with OM. She has simply walked out on her family and tossed all commitments she made to the wind. And here I sat trying to hold on to our M. Crying and pleading and being just a mess in general. I've cried more in the past 8 months than I ever thought myself capable of. I read all the BW's posts here and I find myself relating to them so much.
I really feel like I have no balls anymore. Maybe I never did. How do you break out of this shit?
Dont get me wrong, its still pretty new in my situation, but I started coming out of it a bit a couple of weeks ago. I started working out and even went and bought some long overdue new clothes (wife and kids stuff has always come first, always me last)....I've finally transcended the 80's!
I still have the stuff in my head, but when it starts creeping in I focus on another round of curls, extensions, crunches, sit ups, flutter kicks, regular / wide / diamond pushups, ANOTHER damn mile on the treadmill from hell. I may kill my fat ass before its done, but it wont be from thinking of her or her shit...
Moral is, nothing but time and your efforts on you are going to grow your balls back....she has little if any control on that...
My question for you wincing... Did her self-awareness and deep remorse evolve slowly, or was there a turning point? Has she told you what really made her aware and how she finally ďgot itĒ?
Sloooooooowly. So slowly that I gave up on it completely. I wrote off her changes as due to medication, fear of losing me, needing me to get through school, etc.
Truth is, by the time the changes were real, true and consistent, I'd stopped paying attention. I posted on SI when she did/said something that was extraordinarily stupid (in my opinion), but mostly I just abandoned her to her own devices. I decided that she wasn't ever really going to get it, was likely going to cheat again when she thought she could get away with it, blah, blah, blah, but since I had a clock on the relationship, I didn't care. I just had to try to make it to the finish line.
Understand this also: After that first rush of D-day bullshit/hostility/gaslightling/justification that we all remember so well, my wife was apologetic for her affair and related behaviors. She swore she'd never do it again (then broke NC at 18 months, so those promises went out the window)...but my point here is that she did not have an intention to ever cheat again. She had realized that cheating is a bad, painful, destructive behavior and definitely not worth the fallout.
If there'd been any doubt in my mind that she was now 100% intellectually opposed to the concept of infidelity, I wouldn't have been able to stay.
I just didn't think she had it in her to actually not cheat. You can work with good intentions, even if you don't trust them.
What you need to realize is that after the 18 month mark, when I busted her with the broken NC thing, I *stopped* talking to her about the A. The A, her therapy, her process, her guilt, my triggers, my feelings...all of it.
As part of the broken NC thing, she laid into me at one point about being sick and tired of knowing the A was on my mind so much. Understand, we'd literally had maybe a dozen conversations/fights directly about the A, the events of the A and the timeline in the preceding 18 months.
(I determined early on that I wasn't ever going to beg for info. She'd either volunteer it willingly or I'd dig it out by my own methods, but I'd never beg her to tell me things she should be giving up, toxic shame or not. Her not bringing it up and even making me drag it out of her during arguments spoke volumes about how little of a shit she gave about my healing.)
Anyway, back to our story, when she told me she was tired of hearing about it, she said to me: "I don't ever want to hear about this again. I'm sick of living with it. Just lie to me and tell me everything is okay."
We had one of *those* moments. I looked her in the eye and I said, "Think very hard about what you're saying. If that's what you want, you will never hear another word from me about this subject. I'll never speak to you about what I'm feeling, how I'm processing, what's going on inside me about this again. Is that what you want? Because the instant you say it, make no mistake: I'm going to get support somewhere. I'm going to talk about it. I'm not going to not heal because you can't handle it."
She said, "Lie to me."
So that was it. I went completely dark after that. She had stated and affirmed that she didn't want to know what was up with me or my process.
So I handled it.
(This clearly isn't the same thing as her not knowing when I was hurting. When I hurt, I was grouchy. We just didn't have to talk about it.)
I found other venues, other people to talk with, connect to, help me process, help me heal and recover.
The side effect was that I stopped caring about her process, too. That conversation right after broken NC was a seminal moment for me. It cast everything into sharp relief. I knew exactly where I stood.
And as far as I was concerned, that was it until she literally stumbled across one of my posts while doing a search for medication stuff in January of this year. She didn't even know I was on SI anymore. (She knew at about the 12 month mark and absolutely hated SI, thought it triggered me and pissed me off when otherwise I'd have been doing great. She had outright forbade me to surf SI in her presence. I had to do it at work or get up in the middle of the night to read. She said SI was hurting our family.)
Over the span of about 2 weeks, she literally read everything I'd ever posted on SI -- at least what was available on the server. She retroactively caught up on my entire process, all the hurt, the pain, the slow healing, etc. and realized that she was going to lose me. Realized that if she didn't reconnect with me, that I was already gone. I had completely cut her off.
So she opened up. For the first time since D-day, really. She told me her truth. She showed me all the work she'd been doing after I walked away and left her to her own devices. She showed me her remorse.
And it was beautiful.
Here's the thing: I don't know if this plan could work for anyone else. I'm a grudge guy. I can carry a grudge for years. I will, in fact, cut off my nose to spite my face. That's the reason we didn't ever do MC. At the height of her A, I suggested to her that we ought to see someone, that I felt like we were drifting and could use a check-up.
She said, "We're fine. We don't need marriage counseling. Our marriage is great. Whatever is making you feel distant is your shit and you can work it out if you think you need it, but I don't have time for or interest in it."
I would never, ever, for a single moment contemplate MC after that. When she suggested we go at 6 months after D-day and the rage stage hit, I would have beaten myself to death with a baseball bat before agreeing to it. We didn't need it. She'd said so. We're fine and our own shit is our own problem. (I'd probably feel differently about MC if she hadn't been cheating when we had that conversation...but not going to solve the infidelity-related issues became a point of stubborn honor for me. You told me to go fuck myself when there really was something going on, so don't think I'm letting you pussy out on it now that the shit really has hit the fan. You can nut up and get ass-fucked like the rest of us.)
I will tell you this: I treated my wife well. We kissed, we loved, we were fun, playful and affectionate. We had sex. There were even scads of topics on which we were intellectually and emotionally intimate. Externally, our relationship was good. In many ways, I gave her every reason to believe that 95% of the time, I didn't ever even think about the A. Because it was a non-topic, you remember. She felt our distance and sometimes my angries, but I wasn't talking and she assumed I'd get through it.
But that other 5%? I'm vicious when hurt. I'm sarcastic. I'm cutting. I'd rather destroy someone in an argument than just win it. If we start fighting, if you disrespect me, take a jab at me when you're still corner-slut-with-her-boobs-out in my estimation, it is absolutely on. I have an internal index of grievances whose scope and query speed puts most database software on the market to shame.
And if I'm pissed enough, it's all fair game. Your dead rabbit in second grade? Yeah, you probably fed it about as regularly as you make dinner for our fucking kids. No wonder it died.
Are you feelin' me?
When we were younger, I used to tell anyone who started to argue with me that if they wanted to argue, I was cool with that, but before we started, they needed to understand that once I got going, I wasn't stopping until they were crying.
You know that little voice in your head that says, "No matter how mad I am right now, I can't say that even though I believe it's completely true, because once you say some things, you can never take them back."
Yeah, that little voice in my head says, "Fuck it. Go ahead, man."
So I want you to understand this: I can probably count on one hand the number of WW's I've seen on SI who could have reconciled with me. I would have eaten most of them alive. They just wouldn't have the fortitude for it. Too weak.
My wife is probably the single strongest woman I have ever met in my life. The tragedies she has endured would boggle your mind.
When my wife read my SI stuff and bore the brunt of that fury and responded with absolute vulnerability, remorse and love, there wasn't any other appropriate response than reciprocation.
She'd earned it, just like I'd earned it.
I'll also tell you this: after January, when we connected again after our long, winding paths apart wrestling with our own healing, when I saw her remorse, I was done with pain and all the anger I carried around toward her. It was literally like a light switch.
It was there, and then it was gone. It was like the next best thing to a fucking religious experience. Just *poof*.
That's why I say true remorse will change your world. True remorse (with all the work and change and paradigm shifting that implies) is like the sweet honey dripping straight off the lips of God, man. When you see it and know it to be true, it is transformative. It changes everything.
It resets the rules, rewinds the clock, unfucks the donkey and unrings the bell.
I'm not saying you forget, but man, you do forgive. It's like you reach out soul and soul and say, I recognize you and you're one of my own. I never want to be apart from you, because you *get* me.
And all that "forgiveness is hard!!!" stuff we wrestle with just flies out the window.
I'm making a botch of it trying to describe the process, but I'm hoping you grok me here. Let me know if you don't and I'll write another 5k words about it.
I think you've just convinced me that I didn't get true remorse.
I exposed the A to her family and friends and she off and on was after me to appologize for the "rumors" I spread about her. To her the A is a rumor it doesn't really exist. Very scary if you ask me. There is no hope for someone that whacked.
[This message edited by BrokenHead at 9:19 PM, September 7th (Tuesday)]
DDay 4/6/10 Filed DDay, smelled it coming, again
She moved to her happy place 5/2/10
D final 11/18/10
Thank God I got the dog.
I wasn't doing that. I was running out the clock until I could punt with the least financial cost (i.e., my wife as a SAHM would have a few years of paid work experience under her belt, thus dissipating our extreme income imbalance).
Vegas doesn't even give odds on WW's finding a clue because it's a sucker's bet that even the greenest of newbie gamblers wouldn't take.
It's an unfair analogy to say the I won the lottery, because my wife rigged the lottery. Where she found the courage to do that from the broken mess she was at D-day, I'll never know. Even when she explains it to me, I don't understand it.
I've come to believe that she's an aberration. Everyone can change, most people don't, not when it's easier to blame someone else for your own unhappiness.
Even given our outcome, I'd probably still advise most JFO's that divorce is their surest bet for long term happiness.
But in her mind it is all my fault and I need to do the talking to the kids since this is MY doing... Really, I can't make this shit up. She screws my son's best friend's dad and I'm the one at fault.
Anyway she went out tonight with a girlfriend and looked very good (if I didn't know what was on the inside). Honestly, just passing by, most guys would at least take a second look. But I look at her and I have.... nothing. No emotion, no attraction, no love, nothing. She has destroyed my heart like I never thought possible.
The other thing is that she still doesn't get it. Still getting her hair bleached, fake tanning, wearing the tight pants and low top... It's all about appearance with her... I guess that's because it is all that she has... because the inside is REALLY ugly...
I know all this about her,
and yet I'm still sad... Not so much from the loss of her, but a lifestyle, a family, someone to confide in, to hold, dance, make love to... (does that make sense?) I can't imagine being single again at 40 and trying to find someone to share these things with. And what if I do take a second look at a woman passing by... And she turns out to be just like my wife? Pretty on the outside, but ugly on the inside...
What WAL said about remorse in earlier posts really strikes a chord with me. " When she felt remorse becuase of the act itself, and not the consequences..". Brother you are truly blessed with your wife. She may have strayed at one point but it sounds like she really gets it and your marriage is back on track.
Mine doesnt get it. I go back and forth in my head quite a bit over this. Since answering questions about the affair, she no longer wishes to discuss it, as she states that "we are working on things, and talking about the affair is going backwards, not forwards..."
My response has been steadfast for weeks; until she and I understand the hows and why's, there is no moving forward. I fully understand that these are her issues, her insecurities, etc. But in her mind the reasons are that she's always thought that I somehow cheated over the years, I didnt love her, etc, etc, etc....
I tell her that those arent reasons and she gets defensive and states that just becuase they're not the reasons I want to hear doesnt mean that those arent the reasons....
On the flip side, she has been more compassionate than I thought possible for her; she's begun asking me what SHE can do to help ME get through this. She has even agreed, without coersion for once, to MC (from which I will wholeheartedly push for IC). For years she has made her insecurities this entire families downfall, and until she can address them and look within, there is no hope for a real future.
no complaints so far, in fact her attitude is far better than ever.
And many of us on here and I was a fucking weakling.
To me all of us who are in bad situations have two choices. What we are doing now Bitching like little wuss boy to mommy does not work.
Fight for what you need. You cannot stay cool without resentment exploding at points. I would rather fight everyday than have blwups liek I dd.
180 and cut them OUT of your life.
Really in the end it is up to them to bridge the gap NOT YOU.
You are never going to fix them or make them care about you or the family.
You can however demand your needs be met and make life not so easy for them. I am huge on this step. You do not get the benefits of me being a husband without you being a wife. Og I will do my fatherlyt duties but if I am unhappy you will know and if you are the cause you will not like your day.
or leave. Take care of yoruself and the kids. Cut them out. I have no ill will ever excluding wife from a family outing.
She left and is not back in ... she never earned it.
In the end until you stop caring about the BS blameshifting bitching or whatever other tool they use on you you will get nowhere.
Women will see any tolerating of their A behavior as weakness. You can either assume the role of the alpha male of the house by taking back your marriage with immediate consequences in place or removing the WW all together.
Once an affair begins, the woman has lost respect for her mate. That loss of respect is EXTREMELY difficult to get back. The other man becomes the alpha in the triangle that is created. You become the insurance plan, source of income and stability for the children, while the OM becomes the fantasy by which she can play out near infinite scenarios with.
The husband is relegated to inferior status. You become someone that is only tolerated.
She seeks all of the things she now sees you as incapable of giving. You and the other man can do the exact same things in every detail but it is meaningless when you do it because you are unimportant and have no status in the relationship.
The key to R in my mind is respect. That is the first key to rebuilding. I told my X she could never hurt me as as my resolve is stronger than hers will ever be. Kicking her out and removing her from my life created the respect I was missing. She has since tried many times to come crawling back.
I have moved on and now dating someone who wants to be with me every day. I don't have to walk on eggshells less she goes to the club and fucks some stranger.
Time to check out of Hotel Hell guys.
I'm checking out of Hotel Hell.
For fucks sake there hasnt been a man alive in the last 10.000 years that truely understands em....
At best were just guessing and slapping each others back, at worst, were yanking each others chain.
Prior to all this crap happening i would have said that a Real man has the balls to put his wife and kids first, too put up with long hours at work for their benifit, to help out around the house. To be understanding and accepting of his partners needs. To me that was the definition of a real man, and i was pretty darn close to it. I thought i was doing a Fucking good job of it.
In working through this i continue to modify these beliefs, the observable end result does not have to be wildly different, but the core drivers are. Now i think a real man is someone who knows where his personal boundaries are, what he will and will not accept from people, and he has the balls to let them know straight away when their behaviour is unacceptable. He is also strong enough to respect the boundaries of those around him, He will try to provide for his partners and kids needs in such a way as to not violate his own boundaries.
I think both can result in a guy actually behaving in the same way in many situations. However now i see that my old old one stems from subjugating myself for the others benifit, my newer one requires me to know myself and only accept what Im willing. essentially placing my core beliefs, my what makes me me, first.
Placing yourself first doesnt mean doing it to the detriment of those around you, for instance one of my personal boundaries is that knowlingly inflicting unnecessary harm or hurt is unacceptable. I will hold myself and those i chose to surrond myself with to this.... I will not do it and will not tolerate it in silence from others.
There is nothing in there about crying, about seeking support, about doing all the child care ... those things are for each of us to decide. If my personal boundaries allow them then thats my business. No-one can tell us where our boundaries should be, thats for each to decide, you chose yours ill choose mine, if their compatible then we can be friends, if not meh, i hope we can agree to disagree.
As for WAL's sitch.... the fundamental driver there was (unless im mistaken) the will to change came from sparkle... WAL didnt make her change, she wanted too. Big ups to sparkle, and Im pretty sure WAL counts himself as one of the lucky ones atm.
If your WW dont want to change.... its up to each man to decide how long he's willing to wait to see if she will. But for gods sake dont hold your breath. This world needs every decent man it can get. Dont let waiting for her to change destroy you. If you can handle it, or let it wash overyou great, if its tearing you appart, save yourself.
ps im lookin out my window and its pissing down..... Im going to go for a run anyway.
Once an affair begins, the woman has lost respect for her mate. That loss of respect is EXTREMELY difficult to get back.
The husband is relegated to inferior status. You become someone that is only tolerated.
Time to check out of Hotel Hell guys.
Always thought of it as the Hotel California--you can check out any time you want but you can never leave. That type of thinking has kept me in limboland for a long, long time.
Anyway, I have also bottled up at this point. The A is seldom brought up or discussed except when she does something petty and pisses me off. I have told her I tell lies now and hide how Iím feeling; sometimes I say I love her when I really am not feeling it for instance. I kick myself, but itís hard sometimes to stay silent when you know itís the proper response they want to hear. At this stage in my R, to continue to repeat conversations and tell her what I need yet again I just donít have in me anymore. So Iím silent, and she damn well senses this. Part of me does enjoy seeing her flounder around trying to figure out whatís bothering me and taking actions to correct her perceived idea of what the problem may be. Unfortunately she doesnít get it; being a better housewife/mother isnít what I want, and if sheíd listen, itís not what Iíve asked for time and time again. In case she reads this: I was abandoned and cast aside... I want to feel like Iím desired, wanted, and needed again. She is/was registered here, but as far as I know hasnít been here since Feb. I will mention that I do say just enough so she knows Iím far from over it and continue to leave reminders around (like that book)....
I have toyed with the idea of letting her discover my postings here. I think it would help her understand and see the pain still. On the other hand, any of my writings she found in the past, sheís used as a blunt instrument to inflict more pain by using those words against me... I donít know if sheís beyond that yet; she gets destructive when sheís angry. She could learn from my posting about who I am, but prefers to still see it from her selfish point of view (why should she try when Iím slowly giving up and hurt so bad?) I do know she suspects and spies on me and has found another forum I frequent.. I donít know... itíd be easy enough to accidentally let something surface in my emails she checks.
Sheís changing, so thereís hope. Thereís very little vindictiveness, demonizing, and petty behavior still. We can even have discussions. Like you, 95% of the time by all outward appearances weíre a happy couple. But quite often my mind looks at her and screams ďwhore, slut, !@#@!, etc.Ē over and over and over. I still plaster on my fake smile and play nice while riding it out... She still hasnít figured out when I go out to ďclean the poolĒ, I often just do it because I canít stand being in the same room as she... Itís hard, but as long as I keep seeing some change, I hold onto that hope that one day Iíll see true remorse. I wish there was a faster path, but this is really up to the WW to figure themselves out. Itís just so damn frustrating......
Is that like some froofy European version of a monkey wrench?
Kidding - I love the word spanner. It's up there with windscreen and bonnet on the list of words I wish I could use but can't because I'm an American.
Damn you Europeans and your cool words!
ETA: That's a great post, SCD. I think a great many of us got sucked into society's argument that we should be nice guys and doormats (so we wouldn't be accused of some form of psychological abuse for acting like men). We thought we were helping. We thought we had to learn to get in touch with this or that inside ourselves, commiserate, be a girlfriend.
I think it is essential to for men to recover their masculinity. I think it's essential for us to detach from our wives so that we can renegotiate the marriage from a position of strength. Negotiating from weakness will just make us resentful and feed the dynamic of disrespect so many WW's seem to feel.
I think the best path to a position of strength is being willing to throw her away and forcing her to earn her way back in. Why? Because the side effect of earning her way back in is that she earns our respect in the process.
As men, we don't lose respect for a guy because he fails. We disrespect him because he fails and is a pussy about it. He stops fighting. He makes himself a coward because he won't even try to redeem himself: instead he blameshifts, makes excuses, etc.
Give us the same guy who decides that he's going to win back his integrity, claim the prize, whatever, and that's someone we'll have in the trenches with us any time.
We don't require him to succeed, just to try, to never give up, to prove that his spirit is stronger than the test he's facing.
I don't think that most WW's get that men feel enormously disrespected by infidelity, and we respond naturally by withdrawing our respect from those who hurt us. They try to tell us how much they respect us instead, like Wormtongue in the halls of Theoden, keeping us sick and weak with lying words that mean shit.
They'd rather try to manipulate or placate than winning back the respect. (Or they'll whinge about how they were never respected in the first place...the #1 excuse I hear for not trying.) Or they demand respect as some fundamental human right.
Respect isn't a right. A right is me not killing you and taking your shit because I'm bigger and stronger than you are. Respect is earned. It's earned through action and conduct and refusing to give up, even when all the odds are against you.
I think that was a key part of my wife's recovery. When she gave up on trying to talk me into respecting her and started fighting to heal herself whether or not I'd ever acknowledge it -- or in spite of the fact that wouldn't acknowledge it -- that earned my respect. She got to the point where she didn't give a fuck if I was going to respect her or not. She was doing the work for herself.
[This message edited by wincing_at_light at 1:11 PM, September 8th (Wednesday)]