Because of my abuse My wife is understandably having trouble with self-esteem. When you cheat on someone you are telling them that they aren't enough, that you choose some broken person over them and your family. It does not matter if this is your intended message, or what you believe to be the truth, it is the message.
Since d-day I believe my wife and I have grown a lot and in many ways made significant progress.
but I haven't been able to help with the low self-esteem that I caused.
I would appreciate any insight on this. If there is anyone who has successfully helped a spouse in this way, or have themselves been help by a spouse I would appreciate the help.
[This message edited by Apple3point14 at 1:45 PM, July 8th (Tuesday)]
Shortly after dday, my IC had me give her a list of all the ways in which I was lacking which caused my spouse to cheat. And a list of all the message it meant about me. That I wasn't good enough, that I wasn't pretty enough, I wasn't smart enough, I wasn't good enough in bed, that I wasn't funny enough, that I couldn't trust myself, that I simply wasn't enough. And then we slowly and systematically unraveled why each of those statements were bullshit. I hope your wife has an IC to guide her through this process. It probably took me 3 years to really, really believe it was bullshit.
All that said, there are things you can do to assist her journey. You can never lie to her again. You can validate all her feelings. If she says negative statements about herself or about how you view her, don't tell her she is wrong. Tell her you are sorry that your actions make her have those feelings, but you do not believe them to be true. That she is beautiful. That she is strong. That she is valuable. That the person lacking those things was you, not her.
Keep growing and find your whys. Become an authentic person for her. As she sees you doing your own work, it will free her to do this work on herself.
You still need to say it, often and out loud, that you love her, that she is beautiful, etc. More than that, focus on the inside of her. Notice how strong she is. Let her know that you see her putting one foot in front of the other every morning, and tell her how she amazes you.
Actions speak louder than words. Support her in what she loves to do. SEE her, who she is as a person, as a woman, and encourage her in those things. As long as her self worth is attached to you and your actions, she will never regain her self-esteem.
Rebreather and PP have some great advice above.
Don't let your compassion or affection towards her waver because of her mood or reaction. Be a rock, and in time it will help her see that you are there for her unconditionally. I think that will help remind her that she is worthy of love no matter what.
[This message edited by Apple3point14 at 1:44 PM, July 8th (Tuesday)]
You can be: transparent, patient, honest and supportive. Loving kindness in abundance should be your answer to her sense of insecurity.
When you cheat on someone you are telling them that they aren't enough, that you choose some broken person over them and your family. It does not matter if this is your intended message, or what you believe to be the truth, it is the message
Everything that has been mentioned MUST be done with consistency and over an extended period of time. This is not your agenda, but should be viewed with an eye to healing this deep hurt.
All that best
Both feet pointed forward; positive
That being said you can support her in her healing, and road to building herself back up.
Make sure she has time for herself, and doesn't feel guilty for coming home 30 minutes later because she stopped to tan, or an hour later because she stopped to work out. Make sure she has time to get her nails done if she wants.
Make sure you encourage her to explore new things, hobbies, interests, and even looks. Being a BS and healing from it is kinda like a rebirth, to making a new and stronger you. For me I had lost me, between work, kids, and being a wife, I had no idea who I was and what I enjoyed anymore. So I did a few things on my own. I chopped off all my hair and colored it, something I had never done. I started wearing fake nails and going every week to get them done, I like the way they looked on me, make me feel sexy.
I allowed myself to buy some new undies that made me feel pretty for everyday use. If I felt pretty and sexy at work it was like my little secret, and made me feel good. I started looking into a hobby that I was interested in, and H joined me in it, beekeeping, and it is now a small family business.
Encourage her, support her. But the real building of self esteem comes from within when the BS gets in there and gets some elbow grease into it.
For some BS, the compliments after D-Day feel like, well, BS. Because . . . if you thought I was so beautiful, etc. - WHY did you cheat on me? I completely get that, too.
I like tushnurse's advice about supporting her in her efforts to care for herself.
Just ask her - what can I do to help? Hopefully she'll have some thoughts.
[This message edited by Rebreather at 4:44 PM, July 8th (Tuesday)]
You don't have to take our advice, but you are asking for help and we are trying to give it. Acknowledging the words we have written is a nice way to keep the flow going.
It is unfair, there you are right!
What does your wife say she wants? Are you hearing her when she talks? Have you all read The Five Love Languages? It is a GREAT resource that many of us have found helpful. Sometimes when it feels like maybe our efforts are falling short, it's because we aren't using the right methods. I'd maybe give that a whirl, if you haven't yet.
[This message edited by Apple3point14 at 6:01 PM, July 8th (Tuesday)]