Not happy, mommy issues, what the fuck ever... use any "reason" you want, people cheat because it's easier than working on a real relationship. When you make the commitment to marriage it's just that, a commitment, it's not a relationship where everything is handed to you.
WSs get a lot of flak here on SI because there are lots of other, better, more productive and honorable ways of addressing marital unhappiness than getting involved with someone else--for instance, talking about problems, seeking counseling, or getting a divorce. I sure as shooting did the first and at the time couldn't even begin to afford either of the latter two options. It's a bitter irony to me that this very book was one that came highly recommended. I saw us all over the pages of the book and tried repeatedly to get my husband to engage about it. He read the book too in fact and would even cop to identifying with quite a few of the issues... But in his characteristically passive and conflict-avoidant way, did absolutely nothing to take the messages to heart or put the principles into practice, despite the fact that I explicitly asked, begged, him to. This was one of the final nails in the coffin, that showed me quite clearly that "friendship, support, understanding, respect, attention, caring, and concern - the kind of things that marriage is supposed to offer" were totally vanished from my marriage and I was completely heartbroken.
I never had any illusions that what went on between me and my AP was love or "lurve" or that we were reasonable partners at all--but the attention, affection, and pleasure from his company only served to make clear that my love bank was not only dead empty but was gathering cobwebs in the corners from disuse. It was the wake up call about how bad things had truly gotten in my M. I broke it off with my AP, came clean to my H, and demanded that things change. It was only by "going nuclear" and demanding change that my marriage started to change--through some long hard years and a separation--but it never would have changed without the perspective I got from my A on exactly those points.
This history has been less than welcome on SI, but that's my story and I'm telling it truly. Both my husband and I learned tons about ourselves and each other along the way and we are still learning. One of the major things we have taken to heart is that good marriages happen due to the active, intentional efforts of both parties. Ironically the Gottman book is now one of our main touchstones as we go forward--both as a reference about the past, as an example of what things were like when I was trying my hardest to improve our marriage and he was completely checked out, and now as a resource to be taken seriously and to be a model of how we can build our best possible life together.
It was only by "going nuclear" and demanding change that my marriage started to change--through some long hard years and a separation-
Seems like "going nuclear", having long hard years and a separation could have been done without an affair and all the pain and damage that comes with it.
-but it never would have changed without the perspective I got from my A on exactly those points.
I haven't lived your life or been inside your head so I can only say that I really don't understand how it would take the euphoria of an affair to make someone realize that their marriage was lacking. The first part of your post clearly states you were unhappy in your marriage and were unable to get your H to listen.
I was not in your relationship but I can say in my relationship, when I discovered my WS's affairs he said that he tried to talk to me about his unhappiness but I can't remember one single conversation we ever had about his unhappiness.
I do agree with your statement "good marriages happen due to the active, intentional efforts of both parties" but can't accept or really fathom how infidelity is a beneficial catalyst to drive those changes, in my relationship.
WSs get a lot of flak here on SI because there are lots of other, better, more productive and honorable ways of addressing marital unhappiness than getting involved with someone else--for instance, talking about problems, seeking counseling, or getting a divorce. I sure as shooting did the first and at the time couldn't even begin to afford either of the latter two options
So because you did the first but couldn't afford the latter it justifies the A?
WS get flack on SI for not owning their shit, surprisingly enough, so do BS's.
None of us are perfect, but you can NEVER justify having an A.
eta: Books are wonderful to help us learn, but to use them to justify bad behavior is not a good reason to read.
[This message edited by Skye at 12:49 PM, July 22nd (Monday)]
Also, the statement says nothing about As in good Ms. Our M was fine ('very good,' said my W). She cheated because of her personal issues and poor boundaries, which she's now dealing with. You know what? It would have been a lot easier on her, me, ow, and ow's family if she had just gone directly to dealing with her issues.
To me, the irrefutable proof that M problems don't cause As is that the overwhelming majority of SI members are either BSes or WSes; there are few Madhatters here. If M problems cause As, I'd expect to see many more Madhatters.
WSes cheat because the vast majority of them are unwilling to deal with their M and/or personal issues directly (and unwillingness to deal with an M issue is probably due to unresolved personal issues, so IMO it all come down to personal issues). Cheating allows them to avoid these issues.
I admit I'm angry as I write this, but my statement stands on its own even when all emotion is removed:
WSes cheat to avoid recognizing and/or dealing with their own or M issues.
If your H's IC doesn't believe that, your H needs a new IC, and the IC needs to do some rethinking of her beliefs about M and fidelity.
[This message edited by sisoon at 1:25 PM, July 22nd (Monday)]
Long story short, we are and have always been excellent teammates, in the sense of coworkers--there have always been areas of important responsibilities (money, kids) where we trust each other completely and work as a great team. That's not true in every marriage and I always valued it in mine, not least for my kids sake. It was only the part about love, warmth, intimacy of all kinds (we didn't have sex for a few years because he was totally uninterested) that had gone completely to hell. He was pleasant and dutiful but otherwise completely checked out. It was very confusing and painful, incredibly hard to understand what was going on and why my attempts to solve problems like a responsible grown up (by talking about my concerns peaceably, not angrily, and trying to acknowledge how I might be contributing to any weird dynamics) wasn't working.
In hindsight my husband now totally admits that with his extreme conflict aversion (stemming from major FOO stuff he had never recognized), there was no way in hell that we could have solved this stuff by talking like reasonable grown-ups. The way he learned that you deal with interpersonal conflict was to just pretend it isn't happening and it will eventually go away. Somehow he understood that you don't treat other problems that way (leaky roof, weird car noises)--those he would address head-on--but with his wife... Avoid, pacify, deny, sluff off. It had to get to the point where he realized "ignore it and it will go away" translated to "ignore your wife and she will divorce you" before he started to wake up.
Believe me, I would have preferred it all to have gone down another way and I tried like hell to do that. Failing that I tried to live with the absence for the sake of my kids and that was awful too. Took a brief reminder of being involved with someone else to remind me emotionally that it wasn't always that way with my H and to demand that things change, one way or another.
Took a brief reminder of being involved with someone else to remind me emotionally that it wasn't always that way with my H and to demand that things change, one way or another.
Are you fucking serious with this shit? Reminder? Please explain to me how cheating reminds you of an emotional connection you lost with your husband.
Boston Girl, I've read quite a few of your posts. You've conflated your choices with a kind of aversion therapy for your husband and actually push that as some sort of good idea.
"Well, sure, I'd have rather had a nice chat but failing that release the hounds!!!!"
When your BS found out was your response, "so, what have we learned?"
Look, emotional abandonment is no joke. It's a cruel and sterile way to live. I would imagine the anger at that unilateral choice would be monumental. How does cheating solve that? How did you breaking your moral code (maybe I'm assuming far too much here) in any way address his choices?
Did he magically go, "holy shit, she fucked someone else, NOW I get it", or was it more, I don't want to lose her so I need to shape up and fly right for a bit here?
Understanding, respect, caring, concern isn't just something a partner needs to demonstrate in a marriage. It's also something we need to have for ourselves. Affairs are the absolute antithesis of that.
'til the roof comes off. 'til the lights go out. 'til my legs give out, can't shut my mouth
Yes, there were marriage problems. Problem is, when he and I talk about the past we remember things differently.
This has been driving me crazy! Why do I remember moments of love and support, and yet he feels like I've never been there for him! I feel like he takes everything I say and do, and twists is just right so that I could out looking like a huge asshole. Just the other day (before I confronted him with what I knew about his affair), I was getting ready to leave the house to run to the store. I kissed him (even though I don't even want to touch him lately), and made my way for the door. He stopped what he was doing, and said to our daughter (21m old), "I guess I'll get you a washcloth in a minute. I need to go kiss Mommy good bye because she obviously isn't going to." WTF dude? I just kissed you and said "I'll be back" like, 30 seconds ago! No wonder he has such a hard time remembering past events - what happened less than a minute ago has already left his mind.
We're fighting a losing battle here. They're only going to remember the truths they've formulated in their heads.
married 2y, together 2.5y
1 beautiful daughter, 23m
"Someday soon, I'm going to put my life together; Win or lose, I'm starting over again."
I'm reading two of Gottman's books right now after reading the Glass book NOT "Just Friends." I think all of what he says is pretty much right on. I also agree that he in no way is trying to blameshift cheating to the failings of a marriage. He's merely saying that the majority of betrayals take place after a marriage becomes dysfunctional due to the behaviours of one or both partners. He's not discussing causation, just correlation.
How would you respond to this?
Blaming his affairs on an empty love tank that you did not fill is a bit like blaming a gas station for running out of gas. Sure the gas station can provide what you need to keep going, but there is some personal responsibility to monitor the systems and take appropriate actions.
1. You have to stop in to visit the gas station from time to time and actually pump the fuel into your tank to fill it, it does not magically appear. You have to watch your tank's gauge and anticipate problems. You are a fool if you just drive until you are out of gas. You have to plan for these periodic stops and accounts for the fact gas stations are not always open.
2. You have to exchange something for the gas. You give the gas station money; gas station fills your tank. You give your spouse strokes, respect and attention and ideally your spouse fills your tank. If the gas station kept taking your money without filling your tank you would take action.
I kinda’ liked WAL’s suggested response. I would tell him that is a load of crap.
There is also literature out there that purports that the partner feeling the least loved in a M relationship is often the partner putting the least effort into the relationship.
Gottman says that "problems in the marriage that send the couple on a trajectory to divorce also send one (or both) of them looking…]
I think the real question for your WH is “Why was he the one who looked for attention outside the M and not you? What is he going to do differently than the last time he had an A so that he is not that person again? If it were a quid pro quo that lack of spousal attention lead to an A, there would be many more M with both partners having A at the same time. The real question is why does your WH respond to a perceived lack of attention from his spouse by looking for attention elsewhere rather than dealing with his spouse?
It had to get to the point where he realized "ignore it and it will go away" translated to "ignore your wife and she will divorce you" before he started to wake up.
BostonGirl--why didn't you divorce him before turning to another man? What was it that made you choose deceit and betrayal over the honesty of filing for divorce?
Gottman says that "problems in the marriage that send the couple on a trajectory to divorce also send one (or both) of them looking for intimate connection outside the marriage. Most marital therapists who write about extramarital affairs find that these trysts are usually not about sex but about seeking friendship, support, understanding, respect, attention, caring, and concern - the kind of things that marriage is supposed to offer."
I have no doubt what Gottman says is true. Makes sense to me. My wife had sex with the OM 2-3 times a week for 10 months, but I know her well enough to know that she's hardly a sex addict. There was definitely more than sex at play here.
The problem is that I craved all of those things as well and never once considered cheating on my wife. Not for a second.
And objectively, my wife was very resistant to increased attention, caring and concern from me. If she wanted those things, she sure as hell went about trying to get them the wrong way practically our entire marriage.
Now less than 6 months removed from D Day, she has become very skilled at getting them now that she's desperate to keep the marriage. Go figure.
An affair is a selfish series of bad behaviors committed by someone who has chosen to put their own desires and needs over the person they are supposed to be committed to for life. There's no excuse for it, but the only way there might be an excuse is if the WS spent years trying to improve the marriage and to make themselves a better spouse, before finally giving up. And even then divorce is the better and more honest option. But how often does that attempt at self and marital improvement occur? Less than 5% of cases. Certainly not in my case. My wife only became concerned about saving our marriage after she got caught trying to destroy it.
BG - If living with someone that is conflict avoidant and refused to face problems in the relationship was justification for having an affair, I and many other BSs would have done it! It is not justification for having an affair. Affairs are about selfishness and brokenness. Don't lay that at the BS's feet.
[This message edited by Missymomma at 1:35 PM, July 29th (Monday)]
Sorry to sound flip, but the things WS' say to justify horrible behavior makes my head want to explode.
The real question is why does your WH respond to a perceived lack of attention from his spouse by looking for attention elsewhere rather than dealing with his spouse?
That's the core question for pretty much every betrayed spouse here, astenaotie, thank you for distilling it.
For my wife, I think the answer is pretty clear. She wanted to find the emotional support and understanding she needed from a friend who was a father figure, who resembled her late father in ways she most admired and missed. It was easier to do that and engage in cheating behaviours that distracted her from the real world than it was for her to face me with the problems that were eating at her and risk a huge argument and a divorce.
The tragic irony in my case is that by the time her cheating started, I had opened up and was more like myself than I had been in years.
It was only by "going nuclear" and demanding change that my marriage started to change--through some long hard years and a separation--but it never would have changed without the perspective I got from my A on exactly those points.
If your H was such a lousy husband you could have just left him. Period. You did not have to subject him to the pain of an A on the way out.
You had an A because you wanted to eat cake. You didn't like your M, but it was too inconvenient financially and otherwise for you to leave, so you chose to get emotional fulfillment elsewhere.
Your H was in that same M. I bet his love tank was pretty empty too. So while you were off having cake, he was...what? Sitting there stewing with his empty tank.
All BS's are not perfect, angelic spouses. Some deserve the nuclear option - divorce. None deserve their WS licking cake crumbs off their lips in the BS's face. That never works out too well for anyone involved.
XWH told me that he "wasn't getting his needs met." When that happens, you talk about it with your partner. If that doesn't change anything, you go get counseling. If that still doesn't help, then you could either try a trial separation or get a divorce.
There are many steps that one can take to have his/her "needs met" or to have his/her "empty love tank" filled. Being deceptive and bringing a third party into the relationship is not one of them.
I'm angry for you. That is terrible advice.