My WW has frequently asserted that she didn't do what she did in order to hurt me. I believe her. I don't believe she had the affair because she wanted to traumatize me. After all, if everything had gone according to her plan, I never would have found out. That's why I called it psychopathy, not sadism. A sadist is someone who derives pleasure from someone else's pain. A psychopath is someone who just doesn't care.
From the original post:
So, from my WW's perspective, she had an affair because she was unhappy in our marriage. Would she have had an affair with the same man if she had found our relationship more fulfilling?
My mindset at the time of the affair: I wasn't overjoyed with my marriage, but I certainly wasn't unhappy either. However, after 3+ years of introspection, I know that I would have had an affair with the same man no matter what. No matter if I was over-the-moon happy (does such a state ever exist outside of Disney fairy tales?) and perceived my marriage to be the best in the world; no matter if it were horrible and it was the shittiest marriage in the world. And I would have also cheated with the same man regardless of who I was married to, had the "perfect storm" of circumstances that led to the A still been in effect.
The question in my mind is, what makes the difference between someone who is having that temptation, someone who has the chance to cheat, and doesn't, and someone who does?
As I said in my post on page 2: we all know the right thing to do. Yes, I do believe it's a deliberate choice not to do it---to do what's wrong. I think it's a matter of one's character at the time, along with many other things: level of emotional maturity, one's priorities in life, one's level of basic respect for others and for societal rules, and so forth.
But I agree with Uncertainone in that character can change. Or, at the very least, people can change their crappy behavior...and the desire to change that behavior is in the first place, IMO, an indicator of character evolving into something better.
[This message edited by heartbroken0903 at 8:36 PM, June 20th (Thursday)]
Married 2.5 years
What breaks it? The lies.
That was my experience.
"There would be no grand absolution, only forgiveness meted out in these precious sips. It would well up from his heart in spoonfuls, and he would feed it to me. And it would be enough."
Everyone is tempted but everyone does not act on that temptation.
When I got married, my Dad told me that it will happen,that it happens to everyone, but that " You can look but you can't touch." I am not male, but I have always been under the impression that men can be sexually "turned on" just by looking at an attractive female. My parents were married for a long time, & I know for sure that my Dad never cheated.
WH & I have been married a long time. There were ups & downs, & for sure a lot of stress. During all this time, I have felt physically attracted to 3 other men, & I knew this attraction was mutual. (I don't know, is it wrong that I even felt attracted to them?)
But always the thought came into my mind that I could never do something like that to WH. It was wrong. And so I removed myself from the situation where I would come into contact with them .
I think the difference is, in my case, that WH didn't care what it would do to me. WH did not have any empathy for me. He felt entitled to do it. Also, WH's mother cheated on his father, & told WH his whole life that " she didn't do anything wrong" , so that gave WH permission.
Whereas, I know that my parents would disapprove of my behavior if I did it to WH. So that stopped me.
So, I guess what I am saying is that FOO makes a big difference.
Part of this has to do with the fact that I am always very guarded and conservative with my interactions with the opposite sex. I never even really let myself become friends with other women unless it's in the context of a relationship with both husband and wife.
Maybe I'm a prude, but I have never cheated for two reasons:
(1) as so eloquently stated by debellanon, and
(2) I never wanted to.
Believe or not, sometimes it is that simple. And please don't give me the *never say never*, because infidelity is a choice....and I choose not to cheat.
Again, I sound like and old fart here, but I get confused when I read about BSs saying that they have had several opportunities to cheat, but have opted not to do so. My question is, how do you get in the situation where this happens----yet repeatedly? I don't believe in flirting(bad boundary), so that rules out one angle. I have conversations, particularly with the opposite sex, with respect and courtesy. One more angle removed. I don't talk about sex with any of my male friends, as I believe it to be disrespectful and degrading.
We are not only talking about our lifestyle, but we are also looking at moments in time, when something could go astray. But that is kept in check with good boundaries...not a white knuckle effort to resist temptation.
With the exception of a few, I believe that most people are good. And even good people make bad decisions. It is more than obvious to me that people do change; characters are dynamic, and learn from mistakes. My WW was as good a wife, mother and friend for way more years than not. Her poor coping mechanisms didn't surface until later in life for a multitude of reasons, but she chose to make poor decisions---just as she currently chooses to make wise decisions.
It is entirely up to us.
All work and no play has just cost me my wife--Gary Puckett
D-Day: 9/18/09 D-Day#2: 2/19/10 The Marriage Killer: 6/6/11
Heading for D
Saying that, I do believe behaviors can change. If that's good enough, so be it.
I had to come to the realization that he
"acts" empathetic but isn't truly empathetic. He was utterly selfish, self-absorbed, and invented a world that had nothing to do with the reality of our marriage in order to justify his selfishness. My dilemma as we move through R is to watch his behavior for signs that he has learned from his destructive choices. At almost 30 months since Dday he is walking the walk. If it's a facade, I'm out of here.
They know it's wrong to cheat, but they do it anyway. Why?? Because they are just being selfish people. They want to, therefor they do. It has nothing to do with the state of the marriage because people in happy marriages cheat. They may use it as an excuse in their own minds, but that's all it is, an excuse or justification.
The facts are they want it and they go for it. Most of them think they will never get caught and what the BS doesn't know won't hurt them. They want fun, they want excitement, they want their ego's stroked. Infedelity provides all those things, whereas a marriage doesn't. They don't stop and think, "Oh, I can't do that or it will distroy my spouse/marriage." Most don't think that at all. Why?? They don't want to and/or that would make what they are doing not as much fun.
I've actually compared my WWs current state to temporary psychopathy. In order to do it, she had to be completely disconnected from any capacity for empathy. And I wonder when that happened. Was she always stunted in her capacity for empathy (She certainly has not always been the most sensitive person in the world)? Was this, as someone suggested, a response to pain, that she turned so far inward that she simply wasn't thinking of anyone else? Was it a defense mechanism erected specifically in response to the affair, to prevent her from feeling the full weight of guilt for her actions?
Discussed these very topics in IC yesterday! I've always considered myself "empathy challenged," and insensitive. My C says I'm capable, but I cut myself off from emotions I perceive as weak (e.g. trust & vulnerability) as a defense mechanism. My underlying cause is "easy" to pinpoint because I'm a CSA survivor and (while not inevitable or excusable) my reaction to that trauma is common. Did your WW experience any childhood or adolescent trauma?
What I hear in your posts is that you care deeply for your WW, and you want to make sense of all this, and that's normal. So is wanting to punch OM in the face...or elsewhere.
It has nothing to do with the state of the marriage because people in happy marriages cheat
Right, and that's exactly why simplistic one word single thought answers are so meaningless.
Everyone is different. They have different belief systems, different coping mechanisms, different skill sets, different childhood experiences, different adult experiences, different intelligence levels, different personality traits...you get the idea.
The, well I was unhappy and I never cheated, could be said by many WS's here as well. I never cheated on anything or anyone in my entire life. Over 30 years on this earth is a fairly strong resume.
Hell, I never lied about the affair, either. Volunteered, donated, put myself on the line for others so the whole character lacking, empathy challenged, selfish, weak thing kind of falls apart.
Bottom line affairs are like a twisted Disneyland ride from hell, with out the "you have to be this tall to go on this ride" sign. All kinds of different people climb on and some decide they hated it and never will ride it again and other's are frequent fliers.
I also have never understood the whole, "I've had opportunities and never partook". I doubt most WS's jumped the first time they were hit on either. I know I sure didn't and haven't since. My good friends that share that label also hadn't and haven't.
If "your" WS never did anything like that before or since how do any of the familiar potpouri fit? If they have than that's something else that needs to be looked at, I'd imagine.
'til the roof comes off. 'til the lights go out. 'til my legs give out, can't shut my mouth
Her high school boyfriend was emotionally and psychologically manipulative and pressured her into sex when she didn't want it. She was then scandalized by her family (told her she was damaged goods). There was a lot of religious guilt piled on her for what had happened, all of it amounting to some pretty significant issues that my wife had coming into our marriage. One's that she had kept barely liminal for many years and only just started dealing with openly.
I'm still not sure exactly how that past affected our current situation. It certainly affected our "intimacy" on a physical level, and I do think that she has thrown up emotional barriers. Most of all is the fact that when someone suggested that she was experiencing emotional abuse in her marriage (I've been trying to listen to the reasoning for this, but as of now, I still call bullshit on that), I think that this may have triggered some kind of extreme defensive response. Heck, it might be at the root of the whole thing, though I hesitate to try to identify one root cause for the fantastic clusterfuck of a situation that we're in.
I don't believe character changes.
We're not empty slates at the time of our birth. We're born with specific character traits. Some people are born with character traits so fucked up that not even the child-raising experts can change. God help us not to marry one of them and help us if we do.
I still believe that most people are inherently good despite having gone through infidelity. But I also believe that most inherently good people have nurture-related poor character that interferes with their goodness. Of those people, some will find their way while others will take their poor character to the grave with them.
It's not always easy to spot poor character in an inherently good person. I unknowingly married an inherently good man with very poor character but it took a specific situation to discover it. I only cared about what was behind his poor character to the extent of being able to determine if it was inherent in him or not.
Poor character is the bottom line. Inherent or not inherent is the only question.
FWIW, these two things really helped me make the decision to start therapy:
1) I read "The Sexual Healing Journey" by Wendy Maltz, which made clear the A had zero to do with my M, and everything to do with my own damage.
2) I was scared to start IC. So I went to rainn.org and had a (free, confidential) chat session with a counselor. She said this:
You were hurt during your developing years, repressed those intense feelings and memories so when you were triggered it sounds like they resurfaced with a vengeance. You were not sure how to handle those emotions and feel they consumed you, so it makes sense that you've had a difficult time building relationships and trusting others. When you were hurt he not only violated you but violated the trust you had towards others. Some people live their entire lives never addressing their past and emotions, and instead try to forget about it or continue to use unhealthy coping mechanisms.
It's not always easy to spot poor character in an inherently good person. I unknowingly married an inherently good man with very poor character but it took a specific situation to discover it.
You said that so much better than I could have. Thanks.
I also have never understood the whole, "I've had opportunities and never partook".
That is spoken by those of us who can say it and mean it.
[This message edited by nofool4u at 12:31 PM, July 5th (Friday)]
That's pretty much how he described it.
I asked a question that led her to reveal the A. Morality and the understanding of how much she was hurting me and our M played at best a small part (5%) in her ending the A.
She couldn't eat or sleep out of fear of being outed by ow. I odn;t know if that was related to knowing she was violating promises, vows, etc.
Yup. I'm still angry about her ignoring me during the A - but my anger diminishes as time goes on.
ETA: oops, I didn't realize this was an old thread to which I had already responded.
[This message edited by sisoon at 1:07 PM, July 5th (Friday)]