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How to help BS

buckeyegirl13 posted 4/21/2021 09:46 AM

how do I help my BS get out of a dark place?

DaddyDom posted 4/21/2021 09:56 AM

Be a light.

Honestly, while you cannot really help him get out of a dark place (only he can do that) you can not make things worse, such as by being needy. For example, you might seem hurt by the fact that he is hurting. But from his point of view, that only throws the focus back on you and your pain. So just be supportive. Also, he may just need time and space. Again, only he knows, so you'll need to ask how best to help him.

gmc94 posted 4/21/2021 10:29 AM

I agree with DD. You can't control how he responds to HIS trauma.

Have you read "How to help your spouse heal from your affair" by Linda MacDonald? I'm told you can find a free PDF online. It's relatively short (like 100 pages - read in a couple of hours) and chock-full of advice.

You can read the post pinned at the top of the wayward side (something like what every WS needs to know).
You can learn about trauma
You can learn about empathy
You can work on the borderline with DBT to help you cope with the emotional overwhelm
You can work on your shame
you can learn how to make solid apologies to those you've harmed (validating, apologizing for the specific hurts, etc - google apology after affair and you'll find some good stuff there - but be VERY wary of anything that doesn't focus COMPLETELY on the harm to your BS... no excuses, no "i feel so bad for what I did", which is, as DD implies, about YOU and not about HIM).
If you still haven't given him the full truth of your infidelity(ies), you can read "Joseph's Letter" to try and understand why honesty is crucial to his healing AND TO YOURS.
You can ASK HIM what he wants from you in those moments
You can be PROACTIVE in your own healing and change

DoinBettr posted 4/26/2021 17:37 PM

I will say, 12 APs in 2 years.
Your BH feels sexually like you were running a deli and he just got called back up to eat what everyone left behind.
He feels like scraps.
So let's focus on his self esteem.
Everyone wants to feel special. Compliment in a genuine way, everything he does for you. Even just staying or when he seems less sad.
Discuss the future in a gentle hopeful way. Don't always include yourself in that future picture. Make it more about where you want to see him. Confident, proud, happy, smiling, ...
Don't pile it on. Just give it periodically.
Lastly, write out a letter about why you want him over all the others. You need to write this out because then he can reread it when he feels especially down.
Give him space. I know one person on here talked about not wanting to be told how sexy they were, but that helped me.

15yrsinthemaking posted 4/26/2021 19:57 PM

For my BH he has expressed that when I ask about specific things I've done and talk specifics it helps. Asking how are you doing... Did nothing for him. When I said, how did you feel when you saw the same type of car my PA drove. My BH seems to be able to speak more openly when I'm more open about my actions.

And LISTEN LISTEN do not do all the talking. Answer all questions honestly.

numb&dumb posted 5/4/2021 10:32 AM


I am a fully reconciled BH. My W had an EA/PA and lied to me about it for three years. Finally she confessed after much prodding from me. One of the details of my Ws A is her mental health issues.

Let me be clear (and I know you understand this already). The mental health issues explain your A, but do not excuse it. This is a key distinction you need to make clear to your H. Likely the alcohol consumption was a means to self medicate and likely made the situation worse. The difference between the two is that both are treatable.

That being said...

Mental health is the greatest taboo in our society. No one likes the labels that come with mental illness. No one. People fear what they don't understand. I can't fully empathize with my W because I've never had issues.

Buckeyegirl13 lets drop the labels for a minute. I am very concerned about you and your mental state. This is a neuropathological disorder that requires medical treatment in most cases. You need to see a Pdoc immediately. Not a therapist of a GP. A Pdoc is trained in these areas and likely can design a treatment plan, with your husband as part of it, that will help you with this mental illness.

I would ask for a referral from your family doc or from your MC. Any amount of talk therapy will not work unless the underlying physiological causes are addressed first. I know this because I have lived it with my W and it is part of our R story.

If you really want to help your H you need to seek this kind of help immediately. He might not be strong enough and likely any explanations you give related to mental illness and it's role in your As will sound like excuses. Depending on your perspective, they can be unless you seek help.

It is very hard for us as BH, who don't have the same frame of reference, to see that very important point. Your H can support, but likely it is something you will need to do on your own. He has too much on his plate right now. You cannot have the conversations that you need to without the mental health issues addressed first. Any form of therapy will fail without doing this first.

As you get a treatment plan stick to it. If it isn't work call the Pdoc again. Keep your H involved as much as he would like and certainly tell him what you are doing.

Please, if nothing else I've said here, please listen to me about getting serious about a treatment plan. My W and I even worked some boundaries for me into it so that I could feel somewhat more safe in my day to day life.

My W had several attempts at a plan before one that worked well. Everyone around her saw the difference and it made me empathize with her more. It allowed us to begin the hard work of figuring ourselves out and each other.

While the illness played a part it only explains it. It does not absolve one of their actions. While you might not of known at the time you do now. Show you are taking responsibility by engaging the right tools to help your situation.

Does everyone with mental illness cheat on their spouse ? Of course not. Therein lies the responsibility on your shoulders. You can't change the past, but you can take full ownership of your mental health and do what you can.

Anything you want is possible, but you have to keep working at it. Communicate to your H without making this his responsibility. Keep showing him remorse and how badly this has made you feel, etc. As your treatment plan begins to work then you are able to support your H in his healing. You can play a role in that, but it will be on him to heal.

Scary ? Yes. Worth it ? Very much so.

hikingout posted 5/4/2021 10:55 AM

I am glad dumb&numb said what he just did. Listen to him.

Right before I engaged in my affair, I was diagnosed with emotional exhaustion. This is today's version of "nervous breakdown".

I can't blame the affair on that, I was able to make decisions, I wasn't insane. But, there was treatment needed in order to get stable enough to do the rest of what needed to be done. I also got treated for OCD right after that. There are often mental health issues surrounding cheating - clinical depression, personality disorders, etc.

I don't see it as the reason for the cheating but proper treatment must be in place for you to operate more fully and engage in the other aspects of the process. I self diagnosed myself as a psychopath and then after that a narcissist because I couldn't feel. I was very numb. I thought this made me this evil person who would never find empathy again. I am not a psychopath, and I am not a narcissist, I am actually not even that callous of a person in general.

I am also glad you changed your name. Keep posting and working.

There is some great advice in the healing library, how to help your spouse heal from an affair is a good book to start with. Go get what you need to become stable too. You will make far more progress.

BluerThanBlue posted 5/4/2021 11:22 AM

What have you tried already?

gmc94 posted 5/4/2021 11:45 AM

Asking how are you doing... Did nothing for him. When I said, how did you feel when you saw the same type of car my PA drove. My BH seems to be able to speak more openly when I'm more open about my actions.
Kind of a t/j, but this is EXACTLY how I feel as well. I know it's super hard for a WS to approach from this angle, but "how are you" did not, does not, and I doubt ever will, work for me.

I see it as a lazy way to test the waters of a BS's mood. To me, it's not trying to connect - it's trying to gauge what kind of shitstorm the WS may be walking into at any particular moment. Just another way to self protect, but under the guise of being supportive. WS can "check the box" of asking how BS is doing, w/o really doing anything hard or uncomfortable.

Thumos posted 5/4/2021 12:40 PM

Read "How to help your spouse heal from your affair."

Do not be defensive about it. Do not complain it is heavy handed. Take it as among the best advice offered in any book written on infidelity ever.

Read it and write out a detailed plan for how you will implement the book's recommendations.

Then implement this plan without delay.

HappilyMarried1 posted 5/4/2021 12:43 PM


With what you said that you have done to your husband and your marriage for two years with PA's with 12 different guys I'm sorry but he is going to be in a dark place for a very long time. I agree with what the others above has said. I would just add the following:

If you truly want to stay in the marriage and help your husband you need to sit down and first again let him know how sorry you are or what you have done. Then tell him you come completely clean and answer all questions and let him know everything with no more lies or TT. I personally don't see how you all can come out of this but that is what you need to do. Best of luck!

[This message edited by HappilyMarried1 at 1:15 PM, May 4th (Tuesday)]

sisoon posted 5/4/2021 14:57 PM

I agree with numb&dumb. You have to take care if yourself. Put your oxygen mask on first. It's hard to be available to your BS if you're reeling yourself.

Having said that, there are 2 things my W did that made big differences.

First, she learned to ask me what I wanted. She learned that she can't read my mind, and if I couldn't say what I wanted, I probably wouldn't be able to take in much of what she offered anyway.

Second, she 'approached' when she was unsure. That is, if she thought I needed something or was angry, she asked me what I was feeling. If she wanted to give me a hug, or something else, she asked me if I wanted whatever she was offering. If she wanted something from me, she asked for it.

We're all unique in various ways, so your H may want something different from what I wanted, but the best way to find out is to ask him what he wants.

src9043 posted 5/4/2021 20:07 PM

I honestly have no idea how you help your husband at this point. I am a BS and when I discovered my ex-wife's second affair, I couldn't wait to get away from her. Sounds like you are doing everything in your power to help him. But 12 men? If he won't reconcile, do everything in your power to make the transition out of the marriage as painless as possible. You certainly owe him that minimal amount of consideration. I am sorry, but not too many people could swallow what you have done and go on and want to continue with the marriage. I have no idea what such a marriage would look like. I assume you are still young. You must work hard to fix yourself so that you don't do something like that again to your next partner if it comes to that point. I do feel empathy for you even if I don't sound that way. This is a painful story and I do hope you and your husband find peace one day.

Chaos posted 5/6/2021 07:33 AM

I've been following and hesitated a while before commenting. I'll be blunt but not cruel.

Oversimplified - you can't. Because you are the reason for the darkness - he knows that and that is what hurts him the most.

BUT (hopefully you are still reading)

What you CAN do is a bunch of the following:

* get tested for STDs and do all the follow ups the Dr recommends
* Read from the Healing Library [top left]
* Read all the recommended books from those who commented on your other threads. There is wisdom in them. [also podcasts, etc.]
* Be authentic. Come clean about EVERYTHING [trickle truth kills any healing that may have been done]. Not berating you and if you have no other secrets good for you - but since many still do hold a few things back, please don't be one of them.
* Accept that he is on a Roller Coaster ride from HELL. He is angry, sad, numb, rage filled, sobbing, hysterical, doesn't even know his own name, barely functioning, hyper functioning, mindless, hyper focused, etc. all at the same freaking time!
* Stay calm. He will hurl some zingers at you. Stay calm. Do not reply in anger, blame him, make excuses etc. In other words - stay calm and own your shit.
* Don't love bomb him. Please. We BS can see through this and it really is an insult to injury.
* Gently, imagine your life without him. What would that look like and entail? Sadly - since it may come to that - you should be prepared.
* Keep a diary, journal, etc. Your feelings need to be expressed also. He, however, shouldn't be your sounding board for many things.
* Get an IC - keeping with the "he's not your sounding board theme" you may need to purge things from your system too. An IC is a good place to start
* Ground yourself - be it spiritually or physically. Attend services if that is your thing. Attend yoga if that is your thing. Go on walks and nature hikes if that is your thing. Don't know what your thing is - find out.
* Don't neglect yourself. You still need to stay hydrated, nourished, rested, hygienic.
* Be there for him
* Give him space when he needs it
* Talk when he wants to
* Talk when he wants you to
* keep posting. SI has gotten me through my darkest days. And I have gotten sage words of wisdom from both BS and WS alike [even if I wasn't ready to hear what was being said, later on it was remembered and appreciated]

You have a long uphill battle. I don't know the outcome. I do know you have the potential to become a better person on the other side - whatever it looks like.

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