When do we have to stop the pain shopping and start focusing on the present and healing from the traumatic hurt.
In the beginning, asking questions is a way of processing the pain. We lean into it. We feel better afterwards. But as time goes on, I agree it turns into pain shopping. I reached a point after two years where asking detailed questions and mulling through it wasn't productive anymore. I reached a point where I stopped focusing on the affair and my wife so much and spent more time working on myself. Blake, not saying you have reach this point, but some day you might. If asking questions makes you feel better, go for it.
Recovery is building a pyramid of inference from which to climb and see clearer, and heavy usage of the reflexive loop.
Has my mind been warped by viewing porn? Something I had done for decades (wife knew). Enjoyed it, but now hate it's affects on intimacy. Is my mind so damaged that I will not grow through this seemingly "growth less" pattern I appear to be developing with this line of questioning? Am I subconsciously sabotaging intimacy with my wife?
Are you questioning your own purpose? As in how much of this is a BS's do that as a normal part of the process, vs. using the imagery in the same way one uses porn to avoid intimacy? Are you worried about old patterns resurfacing in a new format? Our old habits do die hard, but resurface in more complex and insidious ways, so I think it's a very legitimate question you ask yourself.
I would think the fact that you were able to question this, along with the complexities that surround your personal battles, are a sign of tremendous growth, and self awareness. I'm not so sure you are in a pattern of non growth.
I can see how at a certain point, a continual cycle of revisiting any destructive habit (no matter what it is) can become a mechanism of avoidance, but to recognize it, is the largest part of the battle.
If I have misinterpreted, I have still gained something quite profound from your post. Some new and useful insights.
I do agree that you are normal and should treat yourself compassionately, and also ask yourself the hard questions.
But....if this line of questioning only hurts, you can stop. When you want to go there substitute something else in your mind. For me, I think, "he's not that man now". And then I change the channel. Like any habit, if you do this over and over it gets easier. I feel like I went over this terrain enough and was no longer gaining any insight, so I have basically stopped. When I catch myself I refocus. I am happier, we are happier.
The other day I asked my H a deep, but nonaffair related question. He got a bit triggery and assumed I was going there and said that he knew that I was angry and resentful. I could truthfully say that I was not, and we moved to the other matter successfully. I can focus on now and the future and rarely on the past, except to learn lessons for moving forward.
I wish you the best.
[This message edited by catlover50 at 8:07 AM, November 10th (Sunday)]
We were standing on the sidewalk, just going about our day, when the A truck jumped the curb and hit us. Now we are recovering from Major Trauma. Months of healing and even years of rehab. Even with accident reconstruction we may never get all the answers, but we still keep asking.
There is nothing wrong with us, we will just keep asking until we are satisfied with the answers we get. However long that will take.
Helpfulmother....thanks for the inclusion of the letter.
We had a very good weekend. Sure there were tears and some saddness....but our 5 mile nature hike was awesome and had a nice fancy dinner....even ran together! This was cool because running is part of my wife's A. I had a little bit if a rough spot while running....thinking about how her A "felt"....but I chose to switch my train of thought to the smells in the air (advice you have offered me several times catliver50....thanks!). So I walked for a few minutes while my wife continued her run. I did tell her about my thought later on....she offered a specific apology...we rolled back into enjoying the moment.
I love my wife. I am healing. I get stronger after each set back. Much thanks to all that responded. I really liked the posts that had a bit if a story or comparison in them....but all were thoughtful and appreciated.
God be with us all.
[This message edited by blakesteele at 8:46 PM, November 10th (Sunday)]
Fear is payments on debts you have not yet incurred...may never incur.
^^ jumped right out at me! Needed to read that today, thanks
That quote resonates strongly with me....I "get" budgeting and money handling. This quote makes me stop and say "Fool....you don't own "that" yet, quit making payments on it!".
It keeps my anxiety at a manageable level.
I look back on the things i USE to worry about and think.....silly boy, look at how wasteful worrying was.
Again.....thank you all for your continued thoughtful support.
But if you have not believed her, or think she has not told everything, then the letter that was posted makes a lot of sense.
I do catch myself teetering between letting go and going back to uncover every stone. Sometimes we do need to just let go.
I haven't learned how, but I know it would be better for me.
I hope you will be able to know when you have focused on the infidelity enough, and it is time to forge forward. Seems like you are doing that now - with an occasional set back. As long as those setbacks become fewer and farther between, you know you are moving in the right direction!
I will not be vanquished. Rose Kennedy
responding back quickly here...I have not had the chance to read up on the other responses yet...
yes it is normal...i have done it too...
I think it has to do with:
1. wanting to be 'in the room' claiming an experience that was denied you but should have been only for you
2. getting an adrenaline rush - I think I am coming off all the adrenaline that dealing with the A brings out
I really do feel that I know pretty much everything I need to know about his A. Why re-visit it? I thought about it for a long time and then *light-bulb* I realised that what I am hoping for when I re-visit the A and engage him in conversation about specific details is this:
I want to see him feeling as horrified and disgusted as I am! That is it! That's why I do it.
When I ask my WH specific details about the A he is always willing to answer my questions but I never feel satisfied with his answers. I come away feeling intensely frustrated. He generally answers in a very "matter-of-fact" voice, pretty much monotone, as though he is describing the lunch he ate today or the traffic on the way to work. Of course, he looks uncomfortable too, in a "kid-with-his-hand-caught-in-the-cookie-jar" kind of way, he can't quite meet my eyes, he gets a bit fidgety and flushed, but there's no huge physical reaction or outpouring of emotion.
This morning I realised that THAT is the problem. What I am hoping for every time I re-hash the same old story is a moment when the penny drops, a moment when I can see that it hits him how DISGUSTING what he did is. I want to see him describe some act they committed and I want to see him GUTTED, DESTROYED, WRITHING in pain over it - I want to see him feeling exactly what I am feeling as I listen to it. That is what I am looking for when I ask him these questions again and again... and again.
Every time he sits there and relates the answers to me and looks nothing more than uncomfortable and "blank" it eats away at me. He SAYS he is disgusted. He SAYS he is deeply ashamed. He SAYS he hates what he did... but until I SEE it, until I see with my own eyes that disgust and shame on his face and in his body language, until I SEE it graphically played out on his features, I don't think I will ever feel satisfied. And I'll keep right on asking those questions until my hope finally dies.
I was thinking along a similar vein this morning. . .wondering if I am not 'seeing' H's true emotions, or he just doesn't show them. He tells me he feels my pain, but I don't necessarily see or feel it. He says he feels all kinds of things, but it all kind of looks flat. Am I a bad receiver, or is he a bad transmitter, or both? I honestly do not think he is lying. So, where is the disconnect?
I think it is an interesting question, and probably largely a M/F dynamic. I have seen lots of shame/remorse I think, but that is about it.
I edit, therefore I am.
wondering if I am not 'seeing' H's true emotions, or he just doesn't show them. He tells me he feels my pain, but I don't necessarily see or feel it. He says he feels all kinds of things, but it all kind of looks flat. Am I a bad receiver, or is he a bad transmitter, or both? I honestly do not think he is lying. So, where is the disconnect?
^^^I am having a hard time with this!
I know she harbors some anger towards her AP NOW, I know she harbors some anger towards herself.
But the honest answer for my wife is that she knew exactly what she was doing, was a very willing partner, and was very conscious of her choices.
In my case I think it simply not reality to see my wife react as you describe you would like to see your husband react.
At this point in time....14 months from DD, 8-9 months from the A really ending....I desire my wife to be truthful to a fault.
I would hesitate to tell your husband how he should react.
As a BS we wrestle with all kinds of decisions....weighing options way more then our fWS ever did. It is unfair to be sure....but it is REALITY. Our M, our family unit, is not a fantasy. Their affairs were fantasy and thus they avoided doing what we are tasked with doing now.
I most certainly want the radically honest response to my questions. I want my wife to be the most radically honest person she is capable of. I want this because decisions are being made that affect the rest of our lives. One of the key differences I see between choices within affairs vs choices within a marriage is....in affairs choices are made within a fantasy realm (created by a whirl-wind of lies and deception) while choices in marriages are made in reality.
I am not suggesting our marriage pre-A was radically honest....it certainly was not and led to intimacy issues and disconnections happening. But our M environment was not INTENTIONALLY deceitful. We both felt like we were being honest. My wife felt like she was being honest at the onset of her affair...but it was quickly revealed to her that she was indeed guilty of infidelity that quickly led to full on adultery. At that point she KNEW she was spinning lies and creating a fantasy world....and she continued to do so. Thus the "luxury" of "affair-land".....both parties involved very very willing to let this fantasy roll on. Conversely, in a healthy M, once an assumed fact changes....our reality changes and we work on adjusting to that new reality. People in affairs choose NOT to work on reality....afterall, they very much want AWAY from reality.
We can now see plainly how the assumptions within our pre-A M were unhealthy and hurtful. Both my wife and I are committed to adjusting our reality to a more truthful one. (I dont personally believe it is possible for a human to be 100% honest all the time about everything until they get to heaven.....but we are to strive for this).
If her honest reaction is what you are witnessing in your husband (and it is what I am witnessing in my wife)....I want that to be the truth, because it does play into my decisions. I would like to assume she was disgusted by her acts, wrinkled her nose in discuss as she took him in her mouth, closed her eyes in disgust as he entered her....but that is not reality. I believed they told each other they loved each other before, during and after sex. I believed she felt safe and whole laying on his chest after her orgasms. I don't like that reality, but I really don't want to alter reality to make it more palitable to my taste....only to find it to be a lie, from which I must heal from.
Look, our spouses made a horrible mistake. Neither of our spouses say it was an "exit affair". None of the happenings since DD speak to an "exit affair". So our spouses are not leaving our M anymore.
We must take our spouses at face value and proceed accordingly.
I am very guarded with how I respond to my wife right now. I am also trying to just listen and not react. I want to see who I am really married to. I want to witness the true character of my wife.
I don't try and lead her anymore...something I did that was inneffective immediately following my DD.
She has the book How To Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair. She has put some of the advice to work, others she has left dormant. But if she has questions on how to help me and feels uncomfortable asking me (conflict avoidance) that book is easily accessible to her.
I was played by her during her A. I was an easy read and an easier target for her to take advantage of me. I am committed to changing that.
I do hope someday to be in a loving trusting M again....that time is not today. I love my wife, but my M is no longer what it was. I am still sorting out what this all means. Part of that is really seeing who I am married to. To do this effectively I don't think it is my role to spell out for my wife how she is to respond to my questions...other then to isist on the truth from here forward.
I am almost to the point of giving up all hope of a better past. The facts are my wife had an affair, she really enjoyed the sex within her A, nothing in her life was deterrent enough to keep her from getting what she wanted, she is not currently in an A, and is showing signs of growing past this "coping mechanism".
I honestly don't think she will ever respond in a overly distraught manner when recalling her actions while in the affair to me.
My wife was an equal partner in her affair....she was not a rape victim. It is painful for her but it was not traumatic....she was in control and making choices.
God help us all.
[This message edited by blakesteele at 1:20 PM, November 13th (Wednesday)]
I was just wondering if you were 'satisfied' with her answers inthe past? Do you think you have the whole story? If you have believed her answers, you might be hoping (with each time you ask) that the answers might change into something that doesn't hurt as badly.
Maybe. I read lots of erotic exchanges. I suspect there were more orgasms involved then the one generated by her giving him head and the two they both had while having intercourse. But that is kind of a moot point. So my "maybe" comes from me inferring your question of "Do you think you have the full details of all sexual acts?"
If the question is "Has my wife expressed the real feelings around having sex with him?" Yes. I absolutely feel I have the full answer to that. The answer is yes....she fully enjoyed herself....no quick shower afterwards, no rushing to leave the love shack, a willingness to return to sex after the initial blow job....all speak to the full answer that my wife had no reservations about sex with another man.
I will say that the "monotone" nature of his answers CAN be a mask for other hidden emotions....namely RAGE.
I am no expert but have read a lot about secondary and primary emotions.....one thing that I read that stuck out at me is that people who avoid conflict can engage a very monotone mode of expression when rage is very close to the surface. It scares them and so they mask it by almost becoming emotionless....almost like they shut down to avoid an emotion they are not yet ready to deal with.
That COULD be at play here.
This is tough shit for sure....very dynamic system.
Peace to us all.
Now, this is speaking as a woman who does not have an interest in porn. My H had a porn addiction, and he has found it sexually stimulating sometimes when we have talked about temptations I have had, men who have hit on me, etc. Not really what I was expecting. His questions tend to be more along the visual lines, even if asking questions about past relationships I've had. It's like he wants to feel like he was there. He wants to SEE it. He wants to see my face. He imagines it like a porn.
This is something that has helped me a lot with my own mind movies, just realizing that my H did not suddenly become some super monster porno lover or casanova in bed. He did not suddenly discover the secrets to mind-blasting sexuality with OW. I know how he is with me. That's how he was with her, only probably with a lot less sensitivity and a lot more selfishness. He didn't bring home any new 'tricks', although we are absolutely more uninhibited with each other now.
Just to put it out there, in my own experience and in the experience of every woman I have ever talked to... we do not sit around thinking about penis. We just don't. We don't sit around thinking about what we thought the first time we saw it. We were thinking, 'It's a penis', that's what we were thinking at the time. We were maybe thinking, 'I hope I can blow his mind because I feel really insecure about myself right now. I hope I don't smell funny. I hope I don't drool. Maybe he likes drool. I don't know what he likes. How do other women do this?' Maybe.
Maybe you are just trying to regain power, by seeing everything and having some kind of control that way over the 'story' - like a voyeuristic thing? I don't know. That's how it has been for my H in the past, whenever these things have come up.
We have to accept that our spouses had sex with our people, and that they experienced sexual pleasure with another person. They did, it hurts like hell, it is soooooooo not fair. But do not give the sex more weight than it deserves. Some of my best orgasms have been all by myself. Seriously. It's sex. It is NOT more important, more satisfying, more desirable, more memorable, more exciting, more ANYTHING, than being fully known and fully loved. You know her - you know the very worst of her - and you still want her, are willing to fight for her, are willing to look at her and love her still. Trust me. She is not thinking about his penis - she is thinking about how very much she wants to be accepted and loved. If she's with you, it's because she wants the person who accepts and loves her to be you.
I am comforted by your post. I am really starting to get just how very different men and women view sex.
I do love my wife.
This is painful....your post enabled fresh air to enter my lungs.
Bless you for your kindness.
printing this one off..
me (WW/BS): 48
4 kiddos in mid 20's
Me: I didn't sign up for this.
Him: you're already in this. All you can do is resign...
I really don't want to alter reality to make it more palatable to my taste....
^^^ I think this is exactly what I am trying to do... I am trying to alter reality.... So much to think about here!
The fact is I know my WH enjoyed sex with other woman... he went back 39 more times after all! I know he felt he loved her. I know he enjoyed sleeping over at her house. I accept that. What I want is for him to look back and hate it NOW. I want him to feel disgusted now, in retrospect, when he sees the devastation the A caused. In reality I don't think he does though. He says he does, but I don't sense that.
I am still sorting out what this all means. Part of that is really seeing who I am married to. To do this effectively I don't think it is my role to spell out for my wife how she is to respond to my questions...other then to insist on the truth from here forward.
I think your message ^^ is an important one Blake - I need to spend some time thinking on that. Thanks.
I fear I actually discouraged you.
I don't pretend to have answers....sometimes I state things rather firmly and it comes across as "wisdom" or "truth", but it really is just "thinking out loud".
My expectations of my wife, of my marriage have led me to the worst pain I have ever felt. My own actions set myself up for this pain. What I am attempting to do is reduce my expectations.
This is not the same as reducing my standards or give up hope of being happily married sometime again .
Part of my FOO thing is to look to others for love and validation....some forms of this is good and nurtures intimacy (I think ) but am concerned I was expecting to much of it from my wife and M . So when I read the part on this thread that encouraged us to tell our spouses how to react it just didn't sit well with me . KWIM.
It's 1 a.m, here.....another bad dream....so I hope this conveys what I wanted to .
Anyway....this is painfully tough shit. I don't like the thought that I just added to someone else's already full "pain load". I feel bad reading your response to my thoughts itsaclimb....sorry that I discouraged you.