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I destroyed my husband

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Flawed posted 8/20/2019 08:26 AM

Since he doesn't believe anything I say, he may keep blaming himself partly for my affair. How do I stop that???????

LD - You shattered his entire world. I know because I shattered by BS's entire world. Your H is in a state of trauma. He doesn't trust you and he doesn't trust himself. His emotions have him questioning everything, feeling completely out of control. He will need to come to a place where he internalizes the fact that your shitty choices had nothing to do with anything he did or didn't do, and everything to do with you. Your consistent actions will help him get there.

But he is still in a state of shock, and I think blaming himself gives him both a sense of control over the narrative he is telling himself about why you cheated (if I had done X, if I was X, you wouldn't have cheated), and it gives him a place to direct his anger - at himself rather than at you. Even as he lies bleeding out from the hole you shot in his heart, he is protecting you from his rage.

Keep owning your shitty choices. Don't minimize, don't justify, don't blameshift. And if he argues with you and blames himself, empathize with him. Tell him you understand why he feels that way because of how you chose another man over him, and gently speak your truth - that you made the worst choices of your life because you were selfish and whatever else you've learned about yourself.

You will have this conversation a million times because he is desperately trying to make sense of how the person he loved and trusted most could have hurt him in the worst possible way. Do not get discouraged when he doesn't believe you today, tomorrow, in a year from now - remind yourself that you have not earned the right to be trusted.

Your H loves you and is deeply, deeply wounded by what you have done. I read something recently about how the extent of someone's anger is a reflection of how much they love you. Remind yourself that when he is angry it's because he loves you and you ripped his heart out of his chest and tore it to shreds. That anger is a gift - it means he is working through his pain and trying to heal and I believe he does want to R but if he's anything like my BS, he might not know if he can. Keep fighting for him and showing him how much you love him.

Sending you and your H strength and hope.

Zugzwang posted 8/20/2019 08:59 AM

You stop it by telling him that it had nothing to do with him. Nothing to do with the marriage or the attention or anything. You be vulnerable and talk about you. Your lack of self esteem or confidence which was your job to fill for yourself. Your coping issues with anything. Your lack of self respect and love. Your high expectations that might have been unhealthy and unrealistic to rely on others to make you happy and feel validated. All the ways you failed yourself. The more you talk about your own failures to yourself, the more he will realize it had to do with you and your own choices to self destruct and he was just a bystander that got hurt because you let it happen to him. That is owning it.

Zugzwang posted 8/20/2019 09:07 AM

Another thing to understand. Your husband isn't lacking where you are. He has self love, value, and respect. By choosing to stay with someone that hurt him, he is going against all moral and ethical values of his own self worth that tell him how to be treated. For a healthy person, they are basically telling themselves to demand less. That really contradicts who they are to the core. Instead of him seeing it as such, you might be better off pointing out how much grace he has. Grace doesn't mean accepting a lack of self love and respect. This was a huge stumbling block for my wife. I was extremely humbled when she shared this with me. Her own journey in all this and what she had to sacrifice and grow with. I absolutely understand how humbling, scary, and profound it is to be with someone that can do what a BS does. Accept the gift and don't take it for granted and never take advantage of it. Learn from him. If you admire something in him. Ask him to help you learn it. Be humble. Be vulnerable.

LifeDestroyer posted 8/23/2019 07:19 AM

I had a post written, but then wanted to take it back. I will rewrite it later.

[This message edited by LifeDestroyer at 9:09 AM, August 23rd (Friday)]

Bigger posted 8/23/2019 09:29 AM

Too bad… I read your post…

You two are making progress but does sound like you are both making it harder than it needs to be. And believe me – even when done the “easiest” way it’s still darn hard!

On page 14 I shared to both of you what I think needs to be done. Frankly there is not a single original thought in that post. It’s nothing I “discovered”, but something I have noticed repeatedly here on SI. Look at my registration date! I have spent a LOT of time reading and posting here. A LOT!

The basis of what I shared is (a) working from a base of honesty (b) communicating and (c) both being clear on where you are heading.

There are other basics like the one about there not being any excuse for infidelity, but the a-b-c I mention are the most important.

It seems like you started writing an outline, yet you added explanations to why you cheated. I think those excuses bummed your husband. That’s what I warned against when I wrote:

Nothing justifies infidelity. Nothing at all. Neither of you can ever start a sentence with “I/she cheated, but…” followed by some reasoning to explain or minimize the decision to have an affair.
The WS needs to own the decision to have cheated. And yes – it is a decision. If you allow any minimization or try to avoid the total responsibility for deciding to have an affair… well… then there isn’t really any way to prevent it from happening again.

Justifying is human nature. I’m a former cop and I witnessed people justify their reasons for everything from simple speeding issues to the most heinous crimes. “I know I was speeding, but I have a really important meeting” or “With my underprivileged background selling drugs is my only option” or – the worst I heard – “I didn’t harm him [9-year-old boy]. He enjoyed it when I gave him oral”.
When we justify we give our actions validity. We give them a positive twist. If you write something like “I had the affair because I felt our marriage was loveless” you are justifying your decision. Once you admit to yourself that no matter where you were, where your husband was and where your marriage was – YOUR DECISSION to cheat was the wrong decision with NO excuse… That’s when you start healing.

It sounds like your husband is trying to be 100% honest in sharing all his past discretions. That’s great, but that doesn’t have anything to do with your decision to cheat. It’s GREAT that he shares, and it definitely could be factors in why your marriage was where it was.
But there is no scale where you can put one of your faults to counter one of his.
Your pain for his faults are just as real, and your actions don’t counter that. OK – so there might be a vast difference in pain due to him going to a strip-club and your affair, but there is still pain.

I think (and this is purely speculation on my behalf) that your husband has realized the importance of honesty and the need to build a future on total honesty and transparency. However it would be better for both of you to both be clear that was the plan and for both to be aboard.

I think you two need to work better on communications.
As is it sounds like you chose random times to address the infidelity. I already questioned you on leaving a letter on the bench and then following it with a text when you didn’t get your instant reply.
Add to it your latest point on how he might have noticed you didn’t look up when you handed the remote…
If you have issues you want addressed don’t send smoke-signals! Don’t expect him to understand that cold coffee is an indication you want to talk or that a sigh when handing the remote is a call for help. If you wanted to discuss something all you do is ask him if you can do so. Don’t send sublime hidden messages!

The sooner you two can communicate directly rather than through messages left under the coffee-pot or with sighs and shrugs the sooner you will start the snowball of healing.

BraveSirRobin posted 8/23/2019 11:11 AM

I think it's helpful to understand that when we say that nothing he did contributed to your decision to have an affair, that doesn't mean he gets a pass for the things he did. It doesn't make them ok, or forgotten, or rewrite history so that they weren't damaging to you. I can't remember whose thread had the specifics of how he violated the rules you both set out for sexual fidelity in your earlier marriage. Suffice it to say, they were unconventional rules, but you both agree that he understood them and he broke them. If you had appeared here on SI back then, I think you would have been welcomed into the BS fold and gotten support to understand that none of his poor choices were your fault. That's still true, and I'm not claiming you didn't have a right to feel confused, angry and hurt, or even to leave your marriage. He can own that.

If you both acknowledge that, it may help you both to accept Phase 2: that none of it is relevant to the choice you made to cheat. I speak from experience here. I felt justifiably confused and insecure about my relationship at the time of the A. We were in a committed LDR, but my BF had already broken up with me once because he thought the distance would drive us apart eventually. I convinced him to take me back, but within six months, he was talking about seeing other people. It was not irrational of me to be worried. There were red flags everywhere.

So what both you and your H need to understand is that it's ok for him to feel remorse for hurting you, and responsibility for undermining your marriage. It's just not ok for either of you to see it as any justification or mitigation of your choice to cheat. I could have told my BF that I wanted a solid, exclusive commitment or nothing at all. I could have asked him why he thought he might want someone else. It never occurred to me that what he was actually feeling was terror that I would find someone else. He was trying to insulate himself from being blindsided when I eventually left him. I didn't have nearly enough self esteem to see that as a possibility. I was afraid that if I told him to fix his shit or leave, he'd leave. So I self-soothed with OM. That's 100% on me.

Now, if I had broken up with my BF and taken up with OM honestly, I'd have had nothing to apologize for, and my BF would have had to cope with the stupidity of not committing to me fully, and letting me get away. My cheating is not his fault. Not even 1%. If I had given him any agency, said "I plan to sleep with OM, do you want to agree to that and stay together, or does this mean a breakup," he might have shared responsibility for bringing our relationship to a point where I felt he had to make that choice. My cheating was a lying, cake eating move. Not his fault at all.

I don't think there's anything wrong with him feeling some compassion for you and wishing he hadn't hurt you and weakened your marriage. If that makes him more inclined to try and extend you some grace, I would accept that gratefully. But neither of you should see that impulse as you being entitled to grace or forgiveness from him.

I struggled for a long time with arguing that I would never have cheated if BF hadn't opened the door. I was happy in our committed, exclusive relationship. I didn't think about anyone else or want anyone else until after things got shaky. Eventually I understood that he can own a lot of that shakiness, but that doesn't mean I suddenly couldn't distinguish right from wrong. I had many other options I could have exercised, and I knew it. I deliberately chose the only one that sacrificed my own integrity. No one can own any part of that but me.

LifeDestroyer posted 8/23/2019 11:30 AM

I told him that the mistakes he made in the past are no excuse for my affair. I also told him that I don't expect forgiveness or to be excused.

BraveSirRobin posted 8/23/2019 16:57 PM

I did get that, LD, thank you. I thought your H might need some reinforcing comments from other WS to help him internalize that your A not his fault. It sounded like you were in the market for ways to help him process and let go of self-blame. I don't mean to imply that you are dodging responsibility for your A.

Zugzwang posted 8/24/2019 09:43 AM

I told him that the mistakes he made in the past are no excuse for my affair.

That just doesn't work still. There are never any excuses. Ever. There are reasons. Perhaps you should clear it up and go even further. His choices/mistakes are not your reasons. Your reasons had to do with who you are.

Thumos posted 8/24/2019 10:43 AM

I told him that the mistakes he made in the past are no excuse for my affair

“Here are all the reasons why you’re a bad husband. But that has NOTHING to do with why I had the affair. Seriously, get it? Now let’s talk some more about why you’re a bad husband.”

LifeDestroyer posted 8/24/2019 10:56 AM

I NEVER told him any reasons for being a bad husband. I NEVER said he was a bad husband. I NEVER blamed him. Not sure where you're seeing that.

skerzoid posted 8/24/2019 14:22 PM

LD:

When posting, remember, you know what the truth is, what is happening, and where you two stand.

Many posters here can give advice that may not fit your exact situation or they may misunderstand your post. Take it with a grain of salt.

Take what you need from us and discard that which doesn't apply.

NotSureAboutIt posted 8/24/2019 14:31 PM

LD - You sound like a good candidate for R, but I think that you need to show your BS how much pain you feel for hurting him. He needs to see that you are truly remorseful. Good luck!

Zugzwang posted 8/24/2019 15:58 PM

I wouldn't discount what Thumos wrote. He is a betrayed husband who might be seeing what a betrayed sees between the lines. Sure, he is hurting and you shouldn't discard his POV or experience just because you see his pain. Personally, I don't get bothered by the BS venting because I really believe that there was a large possibility my betrayed felt the same at one point and didn't feel safe enough to share it because of the pick me dance. I am a wayward husband. We both came to the same conclusion about how you wrote it. None of his mistakes, why mention his mistakes at all? It doesn't take much for a human mind to jump from one attack word (mistake) to tying it in for another. We both focused in on the word mistake. What are the chances your husband heard just that too? You mentioning his mistakes and your affair in the same sentence. It is like you accused him of something bad and then tried to compare your own bad choice. A tit for tat thing. A see, you have done some bad things and I have done some bad things. Why did you mention his mistakes?

[This message edited by Zugzwang at 3:58 PM, August 24th (Saturday)]

LifeDestroyer posted 8/26/2019 06:39 AM

Yesterday morning I asked him if I could lay down with him for a little bit. As soon as I put my head on his shoulders, I started to cry. My heart felt at that moment that I was going to lose him because of me. I told him that I knew he was going to end up asking for a divorce. He didn't say anything. I laid there a little longer and then asked him if I was I right. He said he didn't know. After a little while I went to get up, he hadn't said anything or moved so I felt like me being there may have been bothering him. When I was about to get up, he put his hand on my back. I laid back down snuggling right up against him.

We ended up laying together for two hours. I felt him start to fall asleep. Lol, I always knew when he was falling asleep because his body would do this little twitches. It was nice to feel that again. It was nice to feel that he was comfortable enough to fall asleep with me again. He told me not to give up on him yet. I said that I won't. He then asked me what I felt at that moment. I said "calm, happy, and worried." I asked him the same, and he said "safe!" I must have let out the deepest breath ever. In that moment, he felt safe with me. He asked me not to keep how he makes me feel from him anymore. He asked me to work on dealing with my fear of rejection from him. He asked me to do things when I wanted to or at least try (touch him, tell him how I feel, go for a kiss, etc). I should still ask him if it's ok to do those things sometimes, but to not be afraid to ask. I took his cues and started kissing him.

After I asked him he wanted me to get him lunch and that I would take our daughter to a store because I needed to buy some new work clothes. I then asked if he wanted to join us. He actually said sure. We all went shopping and then grabbed some lunch to bring home. It was a very nice Sunday 😊.

For those minutes, he felt safe. I will take that as a big win for the day. I hope he can feel safe again and more often. Baby steps!

BraveSirRobin posted 8/26/2019 07:46 AM

It is tough but so, so necessary to be vulnerable and willing to fail. It's counterintuitive for a wayward, because the A is a symptom of our deep avoidance for conflict and criticism. If we had developed that core self-esteem earlier in our lives, we would never have been waywards to begin with. The lack of it is what made us think that cheap validation was an easier substitute.

The A utterly destroys that inner strength in our BS (assuming they had much to begin with, and your history suggests that you both needed a lot of work in that area). So it's on you to take that deep breath and forge ahead, knowing that sometimes it will be rejected or just fall apart. Hold on to this lovely moment and keep it warm and close to you, so that it gives you the courage to keep taking the risk.

Thanks for sharing. We read a lot of pain here, so good news is really welcome.

gmc94 posted 8/26/2019 08:59 AM

LD- thanks for sharing the nice Sunday. Sounds like some lovely moments

BS here with gentle suggestion/ reminder to share your feelings w/o being asked (assuming your BH wants this). IMO,it’s part of transparency AND vulnerability. It’s a seed for rebuilding trust. So if it’s something your BH wants, being the first person to share their feelings can go a long way. It’s something I want, and my WH cannot or will not do, so every time I have to ask him what he is thinking or feeling, I feel resentment. Just a point to check in with him about this and if he wants you to share (or share w/o him having to ask), to follow thru.

Also, may want to pay attention to this:

he hadn't said anything or moved so I felt like me being there may have been bothering him
. I honestly can’t remember how I felt about this in the early weeks/months, but it bugs the heck out of me today that my WH tells himself what I’M thinking or feeling and then acts on it w/o asking me. If you felt your presence was bothering him, why? Why not ask him if it bothered him? It’s an opportunity to learn better communication.

Same thing with the you “know” he’s gonna D. You don’t “know” this, but it sounds like you may be very “afraid” of it.

I thought some of this was in how to help your spouse heal, but I could be wrong. It’s something you may want to bring up to your BH - to be clear about how he does (and maybe does not) want to hear from you. I think most BS will want the lines of communication FROM the WS to be wide open. A BS may not do so great in the other direction, given they have no reason to trust the WS. Which is why that WS showing vulnerability is important.

Just my nitpicking $0.002

LightningCrashes posted 8/26/2019 17:55 PM

Dear LifeDestroyer,

I posted the following comment about a month ago for another wayward. My intention was for her to be encouraged by it. I feel it also applies to you. I hope it might help you a little bit to take heart and find some comfort in the fact that you are doing your best to be a safe partner and to reconcile. I will edit slightly.

Fwd:

I don't know why I am even posting this but I feel it might need to be said. Maybe it's the lateness of the hour. Maybe I've had a bit to drink. Maybe it's because I am sitting here all alone after relationships with women I loved who both left me to be with other men.

I wish my wife would be as willing to subject herself to hearing these comments and to devote herself to the reconciliation process as much as (LifeDestroyer) has. I want to give credit where credit is due.

Yes I can pick out some statements and actions that would trigger me as a betrayed husband. It is easy to focus on the negative. But every once in a while I believe commendation is in order. And I do think you are making the effort.

I don't want you to get to the point where you throw in the towel and give up because you feel so bad that you don't believe you will ever be worth the trouble. Because you are worth the trouble. Your husband is worth it. But you are worth it too. Your husband would not be hanging in there if you weren't worth fighting for. And his opinion is the only one that matters. We are just trying to help you along the way.

In both of my long-term relationships (24 year marriage and 18 month live-in girlfriend who proposed to me) there was no effort made by either of them to save our relationship or to make amends for lying and cheating. They both left after lies and denial and trickle truth.

I wish my wife was willing and humble enough to come on this site and benefit from hearing the straight talk and tough comments that you receive. I wish she was in therapy to figure herself out. I wish she was still here with me trying to show me that she loves me and wants to be a safe partner and that she is sorry. I wish she was willing to do even half of what you are doing. I didn't even get the choice to be mad at her for anything. I was denied the opportunity to even be mad about something that she might say or do that would trigger me or upset me in a reconciliation process. I never got the chance to show love or compassion or forgiveness. Because she left.

I would give anything to have a remorseful wife who was coming home to tell me she was sorry and that she still loves me.

Instead I have an empty house and silence and rejection and abandonment. Instead I have to wonder why I was not worth it. Why was I not worth fighting for? Why was I not good enough for the only two women I have ever loved to not lie and cheat and throw me away like I mean nothing to them?

And neither one of them even gave me the dignity or the respect or the opportunity to demonstrate that I was willing to forgive them so that we could recover and so that our relationship could survive. I was deprived of even extending the gift of reconciliation. I was deprived of even showing them that I loved them enough to forgive them.

They don't see me hurting. They don't see me crying. They don't hear me scream at the top of my lungs in the living room because the pain is overwhelming me. They were selfish. They left. They didn't stay. They didn't even try.

At least you are staying. At least you are trying. I give you a lot of credit for that. We have heard about wayward spouses who are vindictive and spiteful and arrogant and who just move on with their life and leave the carnage behind them. I am living proof of that and have experienced it twice now myself. But you are demonstrating humility to come on here and ask for help. And you are doing it in the face of your own emotions, your husband's emotions, and even other people's emotions. I applaud you for it.

Besides, not only am I a betrayed spouse, but at one time I was a wayward spouse too. I am a madhatter. I know what it feels like to be cheated on and have your heart broken. And I know what it feels like to cheat and break the heart of someone else. I know how true remorse feels on the inside, not just what it should look like on the outside.

I would give anything to take back the pain and agony I caused my wife. I think I cry as much over that as what my wife did to me. I have to live with myself. Believe me, no one is ever going to be harder on me for what I have done than me.

There are times when I feel like I can't take this pain anymore. Like it is all my fault. Like I am not worthy of forgiveness or love. Like maybe my wife is better off without me. And I have to live with what I have done. But at some point you have to forgive yourself. I still haven't done that yet. I think everyone has forgiven me, but me.

I am glad to know that you are hanging in there and doing what you can to improve yourself and your marriage despite how you may feel or what others may say. Lest we forget that you could have said no to any reconciliation efforts. You could have simply just left.

I asked my wife if she was sorry for what she did. She said no. I asked my wife if she wanted my forgiveness. She said no. I asked my wife if she wanted God's forgiveness. She said no. And then she left.

I might be completely wrong about you in all of this. But I don't think I am. You express loving concern for your husband. It has the ring of being genuine and authentic. And it gives me hope.

I know that people are going to say I am smoking the hopium pipe. But I hope that someday my wayward wife will come to her senses and think like you do. I hope she will feel about me as deeply as you so eloquently express in your posts about your husband. I hope she will show me the same concern that you have shown for your husband. And if she never does, at least I have hope that there are women out there like you who are capable of facing themselves and subjecting themselves to whatever is necessary in order to become a better person and a safe partner and to save their marriage. You have given me hope that there are women out there who will actually choose to stay. Thank you for that. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Remember, it is not our past or our mistakes that define who we are. It is how we recover from those mistakes and make amends. I am definitely rooting for you.

LifeDestroyer posted 8/26/2019 18:32 PM

Lightning

Thank you for that post. I'm sorry the those women chose themselves over their relationship with you. It's definitely not easy coming here and getting all types of criticism. I was never one who liked to be criticized, probably because I always thought I was doing stuff correctly. Well, not this that's for sure. I effed in the biggest way possible. I need the criticism. I need to pay attention to what everyone is saying. I went against who I always thought I was during my affair, and I'm now going against every way I used to act in the face of conflict. I can't be defensive when I absolutely would have been before. I need to be criticized because I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. I need to accept rejection from my husband when is not in the mood.

I changed myself for the worst during my affair, and now I have to change myself for the better for my future with my husband and a better me.

LifeDestroyer posted 8/26/2019 18:34 PM

GMC

You can keep giving me your two cents. I won't turn any advice down.

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