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Repeated Unavoidable Triggers

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islesguy posted 8/19/2018 08:25 AM

What do you do to help your BS with repeated triggers that simply can not be avoided. In my situation an entire race of women is a trigger and that trigger occurs every time we are out anywhere and every time I feel horrible knowing that my BS is suffering. I want her to know that I am with her through every trigger. What has been most helpful for you?

feelingthenoose posted 8/19/2018 09:12 AM

You keep apologizing. You keep asking her what you need to do to help her. Then you follow through. With time, the triggers die down.

DesertLily posted 8/19/2018 11:28 AM

BW here...

I can't speak for all BWs, but what helps me is when my WH acknowledges the trigger and attempts to comfort me.


If you're in public, reach out and take her hand. Rub her shoulder. Soothe her with your touch. Whisper in her ear. Tell her how sorry you are for causing her pain. Tell her you admire her strength, that you understand how difficult it is for her. Tell her thank you for the gift of R.

Comfort her through the pain, but for heaven's sake, do it honestly. And never minimize or show impatience.

Wishing you well on your healing process.

Goldie78 posted 8/19/2018 13:45 PM

Have you asked Mrs islesguy what would help her?

For me a quick are you ok helps. Donít go into too much detail, because if I wasnít being triggered it just reminds me of the difficult time we are going through.

islesguy posted 8/20/2018 06:24 AM

Thank you for your thoughts, I want to acknowledge everything I see but it feels so awkward to do in public because there are so many and I worry about making her more upset by constantly drawing attention to them. As a BS is it better to know that your WS is aware and concerned in the moment or does that hurt you trying to keep it all together?

EvolvingSoul posted 8/20/2018 08:18 AM

it feels so awkward to do in public because there are so many and I worry about making her more upset by constantly drawing attention to them.
It feels like you spend a lot of energy/attention focused on not feeling awkward and not making her upset. However it is likely that you not acknowledging her triggers is an ongoing source of pain. It probably makes her feel pretty alone in it all.

Get out of your comfort zone. Get okay with feeling awkward. Be willing to risk her showing her upset outwardly even though it makes you feel crummy/uncomfortable/awkward. Stop trying to manage your feelings by managing her feelings by choosing to remain silent in the event of these triggers.

Get in the game.

Butforthegrace posted 8/20/2018 08:47 AM

I've not seen any easy or "one-size-fits-all" answer to the issue of triggers, either here on SI or anywhere else. I think it is because triggers are so highly subjective and personal to the BS.

If a trigger is something that is unique, singular, isolated, people often deal with it quite directly, for example by disposing of or destroying a horcrux in the home, or avoiding a specific hotel or such.

However, if a trigger is common and ubiquitous, this is not possible. There is a thread where the BH's WW had most of her A trysts in her AP's car, which is one of the most common makes/models of car. The BH sees this make/model of car many times every day, no matter where he goes.

We often see in threads started by BS's that they would like their WS to initiate conversations about the A. This might be a case where your R might benefit if you try to initiate discussions with your BW about this specific trigger. In these conversations, you can comfort her, remind her of your attraction to her, and reassure her that you do not pine for an entire race of women.

The race issue you describe can be difficult. As I mention above, triggers are highly personal and subjective to the individual BS. From you poster name, I'm guessing your roots are from the Caribbean, and I'll also guess that your BW is also the same race as you. Since most of your A encounters occurred in college, I'll further guess that some or all of the AP's were Caucasian.

At the risk of TMI, I am married to an AA woman and therefore I am very aware of the unique sensitivity AA women can sometimes harbor about comparisons of their attractiveness and desirability vis-ŗ-vis white women. It can be a highly sensitive trigger even where the man is not in a relationship with them. A WH's A, or multiple A's, with white women can be "efemulating" for many AA women.

I got into detail on that point because part of helping her heal is helping her restore her sense of herself as an attractive, desirable woman - in your eyes.

This may not be easy to do, because she already mistrusts you. Certainly, controlling any possible wandering eyes when out in public is a basic first step. Also, discuss the "married person behavior standard" often discussed here: If you wouldn't do it in front of your BW, then you wouldn't do it outside of her presence. Remind her that you were young and stupid and drinking too much back in those early party days, and that for young drunken guys A's are almost always a matter of convenience, proximity, and opportunity. They are typically not a matter of true attraction.

Good luck.

islesguy posted 8/20/2018 09:43 AM

I spoke to my BS this morning and she said that there is nothing that would be helpful but ignoring something is hurtful. So, it is definitely better to recognize the trigger assuming she has already seen it because at least she won't feel like she is dealing with it alone even though there is nothing that I can experience that is anything compared to what she has to deal with.

islesguy posted 8/20/2018 09:52 AM

Butforthegrace,

BS's that they would like their WS to initiate conversations about the A. This might be a case where your R might benefit if you try to initiate discussions with your BW about this specific trigger. In these conversations, you can comfort her, remind her of your attraction to her, and reassure her that you do not pine for an entire race of women.

Thank you for this, I agree that this may be an opportunity to be helpful to my BS by engaging with her in a conversation.


From you poster name, I'm guessing your roots are from the Caribbean, and I'll also guess that your BW is also the same race as you. Since most of your A encounters occurred in college, I'll further guess that some or all of the AP's were Caucasian

Just to clarify. I am a white male, the username was in reference to a pro hockey team I used to follow because at the time I couldn't think of anything else to use. As for my betrayals, they have been through out my relationship with my BS from cheating on her in college, the strip clubs after we were married and the AP who I mentioned when I was married who was Asian.

TarheelNurse posted 8/20/2018 10:57 AM

When we are in public I make sure to hold his hand and constantly be right with him so he sees I am proud to be with him and be his wife and I want the world to know it. That may help her.

Good luck!

Butforthegrace posted 8/20/2018 11:58 AM

Well, I took a chance and guessed and got that one totally wrong. Sometimes the bear eats you.

Aftershockgoldfish posted 8/20/2018 19:57 PM

Hey IslesGuy,

BW here. My WW also made an entire race a trigger. She has recently started to acknowledge related trigger moments and it has meant the world to me. I had no idea before that she noticed.

islesguy posted 8/20/2018 23:38 PM

Aftershockgoldfish,

Thanks for your response. It must feel like you are suffocating with so many triggers around. I know I can see constant tension in my BS when we are out and the triggers are around.

Aftershockgoldfish posted 8/21/2018 09:54 AM

Thank you! Very accurate description of the feeling. It is good that you can recognize the tension in your BW. Verbal acknowledgement, hand or knee squeezes, or an arm around help with the suffocating feeling, at least for me, especially when I sense remorse rather than shame. Best of luck. I hope you can find reliable ways to show your wife you are there IN IT with her.

islesguy posted 8/21/2018 12:33 PM

Aftershockgoldfish,

sense remorse rather than shame

How would you describe the difference?

Root posted 8/21/2018 13:43 PM

My BH sought help from a therapist. She taught him to ask for what he needed from me. She also told him he could always divorce me tomorrow. Knowing he has options helps him feel better.

Aftershockgoldfish posted 8/21/2018 14:13 PM

Islesguy, I'm not sure what that looks like on you. On my WW, her shame is like a kid who got in trouble, minimal words, low mumbly voice, shifty eyes, like she is emotionally backing away from the mess she made almost. When there is remorse, she is willing to be brave and make lots of eye contact, there is conviction and empathy in her voice, and she isn't afraid to touch me or share her feelings even though it hurts for her.

islesguy posted 8/22/2018 07:50 AM

Aftershockgoldfish,

When I feel shame I know my head is hanging low and I don't speak much. I can totally see how this would be sending the wrong message as there isn't an interaction going on where she would be able to know how I feel for her pain.

Aftershockgoldfish posted 8/22/2018 19:00 PM

there isn't an interaction going on where she would be able to know how I feel for her pain.

You hit the nail on the head! I hope in time you can learn to show more of that. The low-headed shame dance communicates far more about your pain. And I am sure you have much of it, and it is valid. It just can't be the loudest thing in the room when she has a trigger. You've got this! Be brave, it will mean a lot.

STBXH posted 8/23/2018 01:11 AM

Isleguy, as a BS I can say I'm really proud of you for seeking help on this. As a BS, this is the #1 most painful part of my day. Triggers include a popular store, a particular truck, and my family van...which are EVERYWHERE.

So, the first thing I notice with my WW is that she DOESN'T notice my triggers. She either doesn't recognize or notice the cars (or the passing of the aforementioned store) or, she sees them and keeps her mouth shut as to not upset me.

I suggest that you become hypervigilant like you W is now and see that race of woman a mile away. Also, please remind her that that race of woman is not a fetish but just an opportunity. Could your AP of been another race? Seems that you were opportunistic rather than preying on a particular type of woman.

If you notice before she does, you could save her from a few triggers during your time together. You can't get rid of them but you can burn some calories in helping her avoid them when together.

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