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Reconciliation :
Regaining Pride, self-respect after spouse’s affair?

Topic is Sleeping.

 Reece (original poster member #52975) posted at 3:24 PM on Monday, January 16th, 2023

Hi, I wanted to inquire from other SI members who have experienced infidelity on how you regained - not just your pride in your marriage - but in yourself. How did you regain your self-respect?

Im a betrayed spouse who has reconciled with my wife. For the most part we have reconciled successfully. I never stopped loving my wife or sought at any point to end our marriage. She has also been a near model wife and mother since we chose to reconcile. Our relationship (and family) is now very loving and caring. Our communication, which was never terrible is now outstanding and we are able to share virtually everything, even the things that led to her affair. Therefore, I almost feel ‘greedy’ complaining about a single aspect of my marriage/life when so much else, things that I value so much more greatly, are really positive.

My wife’s affair was almost entirely a physical affair (therefore the lack of an emotional connection made our reconciliation much easier) but because I know these explicit details it has also created some issues for me. It was never a secret to me that my wife was less than fully happy with our activity and results in bedroom, but prior to her infidelity I had never had it really thrust in my face. I’m sure that I along with every other betrayed spouse, especially those that are aware of explicit details, know exactly how this feels.

My feelings of a lack of pride or self-respect don’t occur often, but it still happens (especially during moments of intimacy) where I cant help but compare myself to her affair partner and their sex. And although she denies it, or at least downplays it, I believe in my heart that she compares us too (at least subconsciously). I know she cant ‘unknow’ something or ‘unfeel’ the things he did for her. Its at these times that Im filled with shame, embarrassment and humiliation. Ive received lots of support online and professionally but Ive also taken some knocks as well. While I don’t feel this way, I know that there is a large portion of the ‘betrayed community’ who feel I should never have taken my wife back, and certainly not after knowing all that I do. Im sure that at some level this plays into my feelings and insecurities.

Up to now Ive tired to just power through this or reflect on all the great things when these dark thoughts rear their ugly head. Although I worry about the long term impact of this and definitely worry that Ill never again be able to have an intimate moment with my wife again without surrendering my thoughts to explicit details of her affair. Which really sucks.
If any one has successfully dealt with this suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

posts: 173   ·   registered: Apr. 28th, 2016
id 8773529

Oldwounds ( member #54486) posted at 5:47 PM on Monday, January 16th, 2023

I am not my wife’s shitty choices.

I kept my vows.

I helped raise two awesome sons.

I didn’t get a vote on anything my wife chose to do.

None of what she did on her worst days reflect on me at all, in any way.

I chose to give her a chance. Offering grace was my call, and will never regret offering her a final chance.

I didn’t owe it, I don’t owe it. I can take my decision back at any time.

I wake up everyday and choose my path forward.

I feel no shame in offering grace, I feel no shame from HER sins.

As to that comparison stuff that automatically kicks in after discovery, that took more time to heal from.

As I continued, yes, people sure do have fun in the moment, but if anyone ever has any kind conscience kick in after the fact, it’s my wife who is ashamed of her choices. She finds no joy in reflecting on the pain she caused me.

AP was a family friend, our kids played together. He was a long time serial cheater who eventually, supposedly found faith and did the 12-step apology call to my wife, she didn’t accept his apology and she hasn’t forgiven herself either. Her pain doesn’t compare to mine, but it isn’t all rainbows for people who figure out how much damage they caused. I never suspected AP because he was a guy I could snap like a twig, he is a weak, weak willed, gutless person and is a far lesser man than me for betraying his wife and kids.

So, while comparison is the death of joy, he got nothing on me. He also got the lowest, worst days of my wife’s life — neither of them saw each other as anything than an escape. An escape with eventual consequences.

I don’t think my wife looks back fondly on her worst days.

Your complaints are very valid and extremely normal.

I hope you recognize your value and choose to stay knowing you’re the strong one, who processed the some of the worst emotional trauma anyone has to face in life and you’re still standing.

You’re a good man who chose to give his wife another shot. Ain’t no shame in that.

[This message edited by Oldwounds at 5:48 PM, Monday, January 16th]

Married 35+ years, together 41+ years
Two awesome adult sons.
Dday 6/16 4-year LTA Survived. M Restored.
"It is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it." — Seneca

posts: 4699   ·   registered: Aug. 4th, 2016   ·   location: Home.
id 8773543

fareast ( Moderator #61555) posted at 6:20 PM on Monday, January 16th, 2023

Oldwounds said it very well. You live with your integrity and honor in tact. Why should you feel shame at your WW's indiscretions. You offered grace when none was owed. My fWW's infidelity didn't impact my masculinity. No one controls how I feel about myself. I understand the normal reaction to feel rejection,but it is just a feeling, not reality.

Never bother with things in your rearview mirror. Your best days are on the road in front of you.

posts: 3885   ·   registered: Nov. 24th, 2017
id 8773548

TheEnd ( member #72213) posted at 6:30 PM on Monday, January 16th, 2023

Being betrayed batters your self esteem.

It's normal but not incurable.

I believe, in the end, we hold our self worth in our owns hands. f we don't love, cherish and admire ourselves, we hurt and feel less than. We also have trouble believing anyone else loves, cherishes or admires us.

My advice would be to start focusing on ways to improve your own self esteem or self worth. It's taken a beating. It needs some attention.

Daily positive self talk
Focusing on your strengths
New hobbies that make you feel energized
Setting up accomplishments for yourself to boost your self esteem
IC if necessary

Anything really. Anything that reminds you of your strength, your worth. You need to remember you are valuable. You are a prize. When you know that - in your bones - you will have less trouble (or none at all!) believing she thinks you are as well.

posts: 599   ·   registered: Dec. 3rd, 2019
id 8773549

longsadstory1952 ( member #29048) posted at 8:52 PM on Monday, January 16th, 2023

If your wife is less than happy, is this something that can be fixed? Or is something holding you back?

In my case, my reclamation was to engage in things we hadn't before and became very sexual. Nothing out there, but more than what we had been doing. I think you probaby get it.

Is this in the cards for you?

posts: 1206   ·   registered: Jul. 14th, 2010
id 8773562

The1stWife ( Guide #58832) posted at 9:03 PM on Monday, January 16th, 2023

Here’s my two cents.

Your wife had a physical affair that she is most likely ashamed of and deeply regrets.

She may also not look at the sex as something "to remember fondly". She may have deep regrets about that too.

However as the BS we all imagine that the AP was better in bed, better with communicating etc. when in fact oftentimes it is a figment of our (BS) imagination. We believe the AP HAS TO BE BETTER - otherwise why would our spouse cheat?

Cheating is an irrational illogical decision that is based on emotion (in most cases).

The only thing the OW had over me was she was much younger. And she was single (no kids). She wasn’t prettier or smarter etc. In fact, she was new. New to my H. New in that it was interesting finding out about her (and vice versa).

And if these APs are so great, why do so many spouses choose to R? You say your wife ended the affair immediately. Hmmmm…..I guess you are her Mr Wonderful after all.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled. 10 years out from Dday. Reconciliation takes two committed people to be successful.

posts: 13923   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8773564

1345Marine ( member #71646) posted at 12:23 AM on Tuesday, January 17th, 2023

There's some really good responses here. I'm reading with hope because I struggle with some of the same things, Reece. It's different, but similar. My WW and I had an amazing sex life, even during the years she was with the AP unbeknownst to me. I can look back and realize that she was sleeping with him, and her and I still expressed our sincere happiness with our sex life to each other. We had an inside joke that if we ever divorced, we'd have to work it out with our new partners that we have a pass every few months to return to each other for a "conjugal visit". Completely a joke, but you get my point. There were many times in our marriage where sex was really all we were good at together since we couldn't talk and didn't get along really at all.

And yet, even all that history that I know is true, is still not enough to assuage the self esteem and self worth damage that comes from her choosing to give herself to him. She swears it was never even physical, that the physical only stemmed from the connection they had. She's admitted that she definitely enjoyed the sex while it was happening, and she was a willing participant and at times initiator. But her motivation wasn't driven by physical desire as much as just wanting to be close to him. She swears the physical was better with me even when we couldn't get along.

This whole adultery business is enough to destroy even the very best parts of us. Even if you had confidence, it strips that away and makes you feel like garbage. And now that he's out the picture (I hope and believe and she's trying to prove), I'm still left with this wreckage and these images that I can't get out of my mind. 1stwifes words help quite a bit with that. I'm sure I'm imagining things as way better than reality, I mean, they didn't even have a bed except a very few times. But I'm right there with you my brother. That's been one of the hardest things to push out of my mind and not feel like I'm being judged against him during intimate times. She was honest with me that the AP was gigantic down there, and that F's with a man's confidence more than anything. But I'm trying to remember that I really do believe that means more to us as men than it does to a lot of women. I think that's true. She say he just hurt her and that it limited everything they did. But society screams these mantras to men that having a 10 inch phallus is what makes you a better, more dominant, superior man. I think I have to choose just not to believe that messaging. I also try to remember that a day may come where we just can't have sex at all. I'm going to age. She's going age. Sickness may come. Who knows. But ultimately, if that does happen, I'm still the same soul with value and worth and she is as well. Our worth isn't defined by our organs and how we screw. Our true self is our character over a lifetime. That's one of the things I try to cling to and just push all the insecurities and comparisons out of my mind, but damn it's hard brother. Damn it's tough. Best of luck to you. Sending empathy from afar.

posts: 97   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2019   ·   location: Eastern US
id 8773580

Chaos ( member #61031) posted at 1:03 AM on Saturday, January 28th, 2023

Things improved when I realized my self worth was NOT theirs to take.

Concept is pretty easy. Execution is a bitch.

I started living for ME. I started doing for ME. I put myself on the big ass front burner and enjoyed the flame.

And when the mind movies reared their ugly head - I turned it up higher!

I'm many years from DDay1. And have had a few since. And had to get an attorney involved with a Cease and Desist. The Land of Chaos is never boring.

And if those mind movies hit during sex - I amp it up and literally f**k them right Out Of my mind. I'm sure YOu get what I'm trying tO say. I even make that abOut and gOOd for me grin

BS-me/WH-4.5yrLTA Married 2+ decades - Children (1 still at home) Multiple DDays w/same AP until I told OBS 2018 Cease & Desist sent spring 2021"Hello–My name is Chaos–You f***ed my husband-Prepare to Die!"

posts: 3797   ·   registered: Oct. 13th, 2017   ·   location: East coast
id 8775062

WaryOptimist ( member #19911) posted at 4:31 PM on Saturday, January 28th, 2023

I do know better than to blame myself for his actions, but to your point, we BS take a hit in the self esteem department.

As you can see, my Dday was long ago, but to this day it still affects my perceptions of myself, him and our R.

It's a constant work in progress, but in the meantime, fake it till you make it. I once said to my H (with great confidence that I wasn't feeling), "I'm the best thing that ever happened to you." Perhaps because I don't usually swagger like that, or because it's true, his reaction indicated that he really, really heard what I said. And, after sitting with it, I realized I heard it, too.

Me: The faithful one Him: WS 4 incredible, grown kids Married 37 years, together 44 D-Day: April 1, 2006 (yep, April Fool's Day...)Aaaas Yoouuu Wiiiish...

posts: 735   ·   registered: Jun. 16th, 2008   ·   location: Here & There
id 8775129

sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 4:21 PM on Sunday, January 29th, 2023

Things improved when I realized my self worth was NOT theirs to take.
Concept is pretty easy. Execution is a bitch.

No truer words have ever been written.

I used multiple techniques when mind movies hit. Usually I let them play out to their usually banal end - I believe my W, and from what she says, their sex just wasn't all that satisfying.

One thing always worked if a mind movie hit during sex was reminding myself that I'm in control of myself. I could choose to request a service, be of service, or just plain stop. There were times I told my W, 'This feels wrong,' or 'I'm too angry to continue.' That was very weird, but ...IDK how to put it... being myself, going after what I wanted - those things helped.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 29933   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8775239

BreakingBad ( member #75779) posted at 3:06 AM on Monday, January 30th, 2023

OldWounds hits the nail on the head with this:

He also got the lowest, worst days of my wife’s life — neither of them saw each other as anything than an escape. An escape with eventual consequences.

I don’t think my wife looks back fondly on her worst days.

Your self respect and pride are not tied up in her brokenness. Her destructive choices were on her alone; it's no failing in you.

What you have both done is upped your game in communication and that is great progress toward healing the relationship!

You say:

It was never a secret to me that my wife was less than fully happy with our activity and results in bedroom

To a great extent, sex is helped by healthy, robust, clear, and ongoing communication--before, during, and after the act.

For times when you're triggering in the moment, sisoon's advice above is terrific.

If sex is an ongoing issue, when YOU feel ready for it, you might seek marriage counseling specifically around this issue (particularly with someone who specializes in this area of relationships).

Be open about your struggle with this issue with your fWW. Approach the issue when you have time to talk and are not being intimate. Try to approach from a "let's problem solve this together" standpoint.

"...lately it's not hurtin' like it did before. Maybe I am learning how to love me more."[Credit to Sam Smith]

posts: 484   ·   registered: Oct. 31st, 2020
id 8775297

 Reece (original poster member #52975) posted at 4:34 PM on Monday, January 30th, 2023

Im the OP and I want to thank everyone who took the time to comment and provide, what i believe to be, very good guidance.

Truthfully, its very similar to advice that I believe I would give to someone else, if I wasn't emotionally involved. Sadly, I think I knew most or all of this before but Im hopeful that hearing something again and again will allow me to actually use this in my own life.
I know only i can be responsible for my own happiness and self-worth. I'll keep moving forward and thanks again.

posts: 173   ·   registered: Apr. 28th, 2016
id 8775370
Topic is Sleeping.
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