Monday, February 8, 2016

What are boundaries and why do I need them?

Any regular visitor to this site knows that I (and some other BWCers) tend to bang on about "boundaries". As in, "you need to set clear boundaries", "this is a chance to make some boundaries", "he's not respecting your boundaries" and so on. And yet, before I found myself spilling my life story to a therapist and learning from her about boundaries, I wouldn't have had a clue what boundaries were. And Lord knows, they weren't part of my life tool kit.
Here's what Oxford has to say about boundaries: 


A limit of something abstract, especially a subject or sphere of activity:a community without class or political boundaries

Here's what Brené Brown says about setting boundaries:
Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. 

From our first definition, we're told that boundaries are abstract. They're the metaphorical line we draw around ourselves to keep ourselves safe. Or rather, they're the metaphorical line we need to draw around ourselves to keep ourselves safe. Most of us don't have that line, or we've been socialized to let people cross it all the time. And rather than enforce it, we swallow our resentment or chastise ourselves for being selfish. Sometimes, we don't even realize it's happening because it's been so long since we had boundaries. But hold on...I'm getting ahead of myself.

What do I mean by "safe"? Boundaries are those lines we create, often subconsciously or by modelling those around us when we're growing up, that allow us to feel safe in this world. They're the lines that, when crossed, make us feel uneasy or threatened. A friend asks to "borrow" our doll but we don't trust her to return it (or we simply don't feel like loaning our doll) so we tell her 'no'. That's a boundary. A parent breaks a promise to take us for ice cream and then tells us to stop being so selfish with our whining because he/she was busy making money to put food on the table. Instead of swallowing our disappointment, we express it in straightforward words. 'I feel disappointed when you don't keep your promises.' That's a boundary. A boyfriend tells us he'd like to take our best friend to a dance because we're out of town. We say 'no, that makes me uncomfortable.' That's a boundary.
Thing is, most of us violate our own boundaries. And, over time, we forget we ever had any.
And so we're still up at midnight baking cookies for a child's class party. We're rescheduling an important meeting because our husband won't stay home with a sick child. We're getting our car back from our teen and the gas tank is empty.
Or...We find out our husband has cheated on us and begging for a second chance. But...he doesn't want to share the details of the affair or the phone passwords because it's a violation of his privacy.
Boundaries.
Our boundaries need to be in place in order to keep us safe.
Our boundaries make it clear that we respect and love ourselves enough to draw clear lines about what we will and will not tolerate in our lives.
Our boundaries make the conditions for reconciliation unequivocal. There's no room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation.
Our boundaries generally include the following:
•There is to be absolutely no contact with affair partner going forward. A letter/text/whatever to that effect is to be sent with the wife copied on it. It needs to state, in no uncertain terms, that the relationship is over, there is regret for having had one in the first place, and that there will be no contact in the future. Full stop.
•If the affair partner tries to re-establish contact, the betraying spouse will immediately tell the betrayed spouse. He will not respond. He will not keep any secrets for the affair partner.
•The betraying partner will provide any/all passwords so that the betrayed partner can check and verify when desired that there is no contact. We know this is hardly perfect (we're not idiots; we know about disposable cell phones, secret e-mails, etc.) but it helps in re-establishing any sort of trust.
•We expect that our questions (asked as respectfully as possible given that we're fighting the urge to bash our husbands over the heads with a shovel) will be answered with full honesty. We have the right to know the full contents of our partner's hearts in order to determine what we're dealing with and how we might respond.
•The betraying partner will be tested to ensure he doesn't have any STDs.
That's the initial list. You can certainly add your own, which might include "no more out-of-town meetings until trust is re-established." Once you get in touch with what you need to feel safe (or safer, as safety will feel relative in the early days post D-Day), you'll be able to establish your own.
As time goes on and we begin to heal from this betrayal, boundaries continue to keep us safe. They allow us to keep that toxic "friend" at arm's length even though she urges more contact. They allow us to say 'no' to commitments that drain us, physically and emotionally. They allow us to reconnect with a basic self-respect that far too many of us have lost. Boundaries are about self-care, not selfishness, and don't let anyone convince you otherwise.
Brown's caveat is crucial to remember: We need to enforce our boundaries even when doing so might disappoint (or frustrate) others. Remember this because if you're not a longtime boundary setter, you are absolutely going to get pushback. You'll get pleading (oh c'mon, we really need you right now. It won't take long...), you'll get anger or aggression (I thought you were my friend but clearly you're not), you'll get sulking (whatever. Do what you want. I don't care). Recognize this as simply the actions of people invested in keeping your boundaries fuzzy, or non-existent. Stick to your boundaries anyway. It will feel sooooooo uncomfortable. You'll feel sweaty. And anxious. Do it anyway. Your head will pound with the sound of your unfamiliar words. Do it anyway. You'll feel terrified that you're going to be left. Do it anyway. People who only stay with you because you make it easy aren't worthy enough for you.
Boundaries aren't about manipulation. They're not about control or getting even or hurting others. They're about NOT hurting yourself. They're about ensuring that all your relationships are free of resentment because you're not doing anything or putting up with anything that makes you resentful.
And if they're not in your toolbox, you need to add them. They're critical to your future happiness.

122 comments:

  1. I'm sure I had the normal married boundaries in place most of our marriage! I think I took them for granted and now that he chose to cross the most important one, we have recommitted to our marriage and clear boundaries are in place but as each day passes, I can and will set new boundaries as that was what we agreed to in the first months! This has been a learning experience to say the least! In the past, my h never gave me a reason for jealous feelings because he was a good man who allowed his lonely sad self to indulge in a fantasy that quickly became his worst nightmare! Boundaries, he's been the one to list most of them! I'm the one watching as he treads within those boundaries! Learning more everyday from you Elle!

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    1. Thanks Theresa. Seems l have to learn things the hard way...

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  2. Such a timely post for what I am dealing with right now. There have never been clear boundaries in my marriage of 20 years. After the affair, my H did give me all of his PW's and such, but then out of the blue he changed the phone code, stating it didn't make matters better. I still didn't trust him. I am 6 mos DDay. He's right. I don't trust him, why should I? I told him that I want to discuss this at our next therapy session. I forwarded this article to him to read so he can understand why we both need boundaries. Our main fights start because of his phone use and it ultimately is because I can't trust him. I can't trust who he says he is texting and he doesn't understand the need to share it with me. It may come down to separating if he can't abide to the boundaries I so desperately need. I am terrified of separating. Honestly. But I have to take care of me.

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    1. Anonymous, People with nothing to hide, hide nothing. I get that it's humiliating to share passwords, etc. But if it's looked at as the cost of rebuilding trust THAT HE VIOLATED, then it should be easier to do. Rebuilding a marriage after betrayal requires two committed partners -- two people who are willing to do what's right for the marriage as more important than what's "right" for them at the moment. Without that understanding, it becomes a power struggle and that's what your situation sounds like.

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    2. I agree Elle. He says giving me his passwords before didn't help, I still didn't trust him. But what he doesn't understand is that I don't think I can move forward because he is so resistant. I think he is hiding something. Even if he isn't, I'll never know. I gave him an ultimatum and he said he'd move out if I really wanted him to. I really want to speak about this with our therapist but we had to postpone our session for another week. I just don't think he gets it. And the real problem is that I can't convince myself to stick up for me and stay true to my values and needs. I would say that I am a pretty strong woman; successful and one that doesn't take shit from people. Why do I allow this in the most important relationship in my life? Should I seek personal counseling outside of marriage counseling? I've never not had the answers to an issue in my life, and now I find myself second guessing everything.

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  3. Great info and so much to think about. I know every day was not perfect and every situation was not handled perfect by either of us over our 20 year marriage. Yet I struggle to think how could I have ever seen this when someone so easily lies to you and can hide it all so easily. He would go years without seeing one of the ap and only email or text and that would go for over a year without contact. I mean how can anyone catch on to that, and the other one was sporadic also. Yet he was detached but when it is blamed on an emotionally draining job etc. I am quick to ask questions now. I still wonder if his word is to be trusted. I asked him to his face about other women. We talked about other couples having affairs and getting divorced. And he denied everything every time. He tells me it meant nothing and lacked any depth and there was no substance. But how can there be two 10 year relationships and nothing. I am not buying it and he is either holding back from me or not being honest with himself. He says I know as much as he can remember and sticks to that and all his lines. It is a real struggle for me. I just have this gut feeling he is glossing over what this all meant or does not know himself. I know he is happier and feels way better and says all he wants is for us to be together for the rest of our lives... Yet I am not sure this is enough for me. I feel like we are building our new future on a house of cards or a fake reality.

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    1. Hopeful ... me too. Come to find out my h knew ow for 10+ years their first encounter happened when we were dating before we were married. Supposedly theyd see each other only once or twice a year theyd talk sometimes then go months sometimes years wo any contact. The affair was sporadic fast fwd to final 4 years the contact started to be more frequent life was busy jobs bills kids stress etc the final 1.5 years it was weekly visits daily communications and the final 6 to 8 months he was in so deep in bullshit it seems the more he wanted out the deeper he fell in multiple times per week money lies etc is breathtaking. My struggle ... he has much more details and shared soul searching for the more recent him feeling lonely and his words pure stupidity his ability to compartmentalize skilled and he admits he told himself lies about us me to numb the guilt then he wanted out the more he tried to end it the more the ow demanded threatened and still he wss terrified to tell me. I feel less obsessive now that i have more knowhow but he cannot really explain the why from so long ago and its bothering as i cant put it together either life didnt have so much stress then the understanding to say oh ... i can see that isnt there chalked up to something i guess lacking in him or pure curiosity as he was about to ask me to marry him? I in someways may never learn this piece of the puzzle so i try to say i know alot some details too much but ultimately i will never know it all i try to focus on i hopefully know enough to get thru. But the time efforts lies money makes it seem like more then it really meaned to him i wonder if it was just sex wo all the bullshit would it be easier to process and swallow i imagine not any betrayl big some short time ling term sucks and we are all in the same boat rowing forward trying not to drown. My new coping i really try to stay in the moment and let ho some excuritaing some days for this control freak. Im black and white but need to sit with sometimes gray is all you have to work with. Wounded not broken. Xo hang in there

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    2. Wounded,

      Thanks for your reply. It is all confusing to me. I think in a way my therapist is making me more confused or maybe rightfully so questioning him more. My therapist is very firm that this is very different from a fling. He said this is not something you just get over. He said it is like an alcoholic swearing to his wife I will never have another drink again, I promise, you matter most to me. He said based on his behavior there is something that he needed to seek other opportunities vs focusing on his primary relationships mainly me but even his kids. Yet he does not want me to give my husband an ultimatum. I feel a little lost based on my therapists opinions but not knowing what to do with his information and thoughts. I feel kind of sick about it all. I am almost to 11 months since dday one and I feel like I am less numb and now reality is setting in. I feel almost sick every day. I thought I would feel better. I know at the heart is dday two which really set me back. We will see if we get a chance to talk this week. I just keep rehearsing what to say to my husband all while I feel like I am going to throw up. Ugh

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    3. Hopeful I am really not too far behind you I'm on my 9th month since the day in about 6 months out from DD to I hope this voice to talk turns out okay so what I wanted to tell you is my husband actually told on himself and this surely his other womans few details lies some truth to add to all that instill something just didn't turn out correctly it didn't make sense to me and until the day to when everything came fully to the table or at least a lot more I found myself before then to be drowned in an obsession suffocating myself to almost a zombie like state where I was barely functioning through the day today when I gained a lot more puzzle pieces that I could actually make a picture of that made sense my obsession became a lot less manageable the days became a lot less manageable sure the hurt still was there it hurt like hell that didn't fix anything maybe even some instances more because I could then process of timeline I feel like your husband's unwillingness to give you more of the pieces is really holding you back and making you stuck in their minds not telling us is saving us from hurt when really it's holding us back I still don't feel like I have all the pieces but I think I have enough to look at it and see something that makes sense and to me that's priceless he can't expect you to bake a cake without giving you some ingredients to go off of I still have my days and we're still doing a few steps forward to take a few steps back but I feel like it's more authentic and a reason for him holding back might not be simply because he doesn't want to talk about it but because he's so ashamed that it's hard to face but elle told me once once you hit rock bottom there's nowhere to go but up and honestly when my husband really did come clean about a lot of missing details he himself even had to take a look in the mirror because when it was going on he had really no clue to the amount of money and time that was really going into this I guess they just don't take the time to process of the fogs too thick I hope this helps you and the info you shared with me from your therapist also helps me hell yeah I know this was more than a fling it went on way too long but on the other side looking in I can see how the fairy tale b******* and all of the illusion also made it more than what it really was. It also took to just recently my h actually starting to bring it up somwtimes tell me what hes trying to fix and work on ... as long as i see action of some sort im in ... but if not then u really have some hard thinking to do or sit idle till u figure it out.

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    4. My favorite thought from Cinderella. ... in time pain turns into memory .... if only time didnt tick so slow and in other happy instances we wish time to slow down ... next right step right look for marginal improvements the sparkles alot easier to spot then

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    5. Addl we go thru ups and my h has some lows i need to work hard to remain in my boundaries as i did not always prior to dday and while i am his wife and friend i cant fix him ... thats on him and he needs to be happy with himself to be full engaged and happy with us ... we are working on ourselves and each other ... everyday

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    6. Hopeful and Wounded,
      Boundaries aren't about being able to predict cheating and they're not about ultimatums. They are about respecting yourself and your needs and making it clear what you will do to keep yourself emotionally and physically safe.
      Re. your concerns that the affair meant more than your husbands are owning up to: Often the affairs are truly meaningless in the sense that at no point were they ever considering leaving you for this other person. But that's NOT the point. And by dismissing the affairs as "meaningless", your husbands are essentially minimizing your pain. Your husband lied to you. He went outside the marriage for something that you had both agreed was to remain inside the marriage. He arbitrarily made choices that impacted you and your family. Those are not "meaningless" actions.
      Anyone who cheats needs to be fully accountable for the devastation they're created whether or not they ever intended to cause such pain. That's being an adult. That's being a compassionate and loving partner to the person who was cheated on.

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    7. Two things on this. I think when my husband says they were meaningless it makes him feel better about himself. And also I think sitting here today he feels they were meaningless and as you and others have said a fantasy and not realistic. But I like how you state it that does not make it any less painful. And that is where I am at. He is very patient and says the right things. But he says all he can do is change things going forward and nothing he can say can change these past decisions. So in a way I get it all and understand why he is acting the way he is. But at this point I did tell him I really don't care. I am more than understanding and not into throwing it in his face. But at this point I don't care about all of that. I care about me and what I need to get past all of this. I told him I need to matter and that I am the priority. He agrees with all of it so now I need to see if his actions and words match what he has told me.

      And boundaries I agree need to be for us. Since as we have all said we have no control over their actions in the end. Granted we have talked a lot about what we both think is acceptable. And some of it has led to some really good discussions, habits form so easily and we both want the dynamic to change. So I feel good about that and it is going in the right direction.

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  4. Hopeful 30 I'm so sorry what your experiencing right now. The fact is we can't move on when we know our h are holding something back. Like you said it's building a 'bee future of cards on a fake reality'. What these men don't understand is the damage is already done, all we need to decide where we go from here is the truth. I'm where you are now, I'm 100% husband holding something back and each day i feel I am getting closer to knowing exactly what has happened. I want to speak to the ow because I know she will tell me the truth, she told me the first time around so I know she won't hold back. I've given him time and space to work out his next right step and he's just taking the piss so it looks like I'll have to take things in my hands. I'm so pissed of right now, this isn't how I expectedy life to be. I want better I deserve better.

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    1. Sam A,

      Sorry you are dealing with all of this too and have frustrations too. It is hard to process. I think what bothers me a lot is he kind of wants to use what I would call broad brush strokes to deal with this. We both agree that he created this mess and then that led to him letting me, our marriage and our kids down. He does not want to address specifics. He will say I was a horrible husband and I am so sorry. Then he says judge me on my current actions that is all I can control. And yes there is truth in all of that. But it does not help me move forward. I do think he is so past all of it and so for him it is old news. He knows it will take me time but he thinks me going off to therapy will work. We are finally trying to have weekly talks. We will see where this takes us. As I said before I keep rehearsing what to say to him. Time will tell...

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    2. Sam, my heart is with you, girl. We often know when something isn't right and it's incredibly demoralizing to continue to be treated as though it's all in our heads.

      Do you believe that there is something currently going on with the same OW? If I remember correctly, there was a dinner out with an old female friend that you discovered? Do you think the 2 women are the same person? And please forgive me if I'm confusing you with someone else.

      Aside from going to her, do you have other options? Could you tell him that you plan to speak to her if he continues to withhold information? Would that give him the kick in the pants he needs to come clean? To let you hear it from him first?

      Until you know what your dealing with (and I hope, for your sake, that there is no more truth to uncover), the limbo you're desperately trying to escape is going to suffocate you.

      Please take care of youself.

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    3. Hi Dana, yes you are right, he did go to dinner with what he said was a friend now I'm thinking it was the ow from the 1st affair but he tells me not. I can find out from her whether what he is telling me is the truth but I want it to come from him. He's scared of telling me something but I keep reminding him that once he opens up he will feel better and so will I but nothing. I threw his clothes in his car last night asked him to leave that jolted him into at least having some conversation but nothing came out of it. Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree and like hopeful says time will tell. Thank you Dana for all your support this really is a shitty time for many of us here and your kind words are always apreciated. I'll keep you posted. Hope your ok xxx

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    4. Sam A,
      There's something called a "full disclosure" session and it's essentially when a cheater tells his wife everything -- he agrees to be totally honest -- in front of a counsellor who's able to keep things from getting out of control and to support both partners, if necessary. It can be liberating for everyone but, of course, incredibly painful. I've written before on the importance and value of telling us what we need to know. It's insulting and compounds the humiliation we feel when our husbands divvy out the details as if we're children. Of course, they're protecting themselves from our righteous fury. But they should be protecting US. And those that say they ARE protecting us from further pain are a day late and a dollar short. They should have thought of that before they cheated.
      Hopeful, the more your write, the more convinced I am that there's a considerable power imbalance in your marriage. Your husband seems to be the one calling the shots. What's more, any therapist should KNOW that anyone who has experienced trauma (like betrayal!!) needs to talk about it over and over and over in order to heal from it. Perhaps your husband doesn't deal with betrayal but there's plenty of literature to support what I'm saying.

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    5. Elle,

      Thanks for this reply. I have not heard of the "full disclosure" session. I am going to bring this up.

      And I am also going to as about he trauma issue. To be honest I do not know what his position is related to that. I mean I know he practices cognitive behavioral therapy but that is pretty broad. I am going to ask him specifically about this. He says the right thin almost 100% of the time. Really exactly what I want to hear, and I do get nervous about that. I have talked with my therapist about it. And he agrees with my husband. My husband says he could not fake it or say the right virtually every day for 11 months. That it is not possible. But since he is not in any form of treatment my therapist said to be very cautious. But I am excited to sit down with him and approach these topics with him. In the past as i have said in another post he does not like me to question him and weigh in with his professional background but I think that is a defense mechanism. Since I think it would almost if not always fall in my favor. So self protection going on for sure.

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    6. Dear Hopeful: I attend a group for the partners of sex addicts and/or unfaithful spouses. Our therapist is a CSAT specialist and he conducted full disclosures with all who attend (in couple sessions). The therapist will actually go through the entire disclosure with the cheating/addicted individual and assist in getting out the truth and managing some details that although I asked about them (in one particularly dark moment I was reduced to asking about whether or not the beastie waxed, what positions--I believed this was disclosure, but it was me putting my mind in an acid bath). The therapist is an advocate for healthy honesty and the man in my life remaarked that it wasn't a judgement, but an objective professional instructing him on how to speak the truth and how to respectfully support me if my questions entered the realm of simply causing me more trauma. It included his ENTIRE sexual history and the therapist brought to light patterns. What started to emerge was the portrait of a person with an attachment disorder, no skills at intimacy or communication and no boundaries. I won't lie to you it was the most difficult thing I've ever experienced outside of being told I had been betrayed but I had an advocate present--someone to ask questions when my sobbing made it too hard to talk. The man in my life had someone there to press, direct and challenge his belief system and in the end when we stood in the ashes of our old relationship we had a guide to help us walk in a different direction. It is worth it. I will tell you that when your spidey senses are tingling it's most often because there is something lurking in the shadows. Your h may not buy into the idea that telling the truth will make him feel better because that challenges what he has experienced thus far. The TRUTH must be told because it is one of the implements you need to rebuild your life. You are owed that regardless of what outcome it might drive. This isn't about having a pile of shit to throw in someone's face it is about acknowledging the shit and moving forward in whatever capacity that the shit can inspire. For me I see the ugly and use it to strengthen my resolve to redefine myself, to teach myself I am capable enough to walk away or stay and that in the past I did not set boundaries. Trust your gut and your ability to navigate these waters--I promise you can do it.

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    7. One armed,

      Thank you for all of this information. It is helpful. We are scheduled to talk tomorrow night so I will be bringing this type of discussion up.

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  5. Elle, this was marvelous! So much here, particularly for the newly betrayed. I had always assumed we set our boundaries on our wedding day when we promised to forsake all others. You are SO RIGHT when you say we lose our boundaries over time. That statement alone deserves it's own post! But we trust our husbands, as wives should. We believe in them as we should.

    Having been married nearly thirty years now, we have experienced most of the typical highs and lows of life as a couple (birth of children, death of parents and all in between). After d-day, I can see that I drew boundaries for my husband and called them mine. And in a way they were, but they were all designed to control HIS behavior. Example: he is not to have meals out or trips alone with any other woman. I also included all of your examples above. While they have helped us rebuild trust, and he has been completely on board with it all, I am finding myself at a stage where I need to set my own boundaries. The hard reality I have landed in reminds me that I/We can set whatever boundaries I wish. And he can blow past them with breathtaking speed if he CHOOSES to ever cheat again. When we talk about boundaries these days, I am more inclined to discuss ones that detail MY actions. The conditions under which "I" can trust or distrust. The decisions "I" will make if circumstances point me in that direction.

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    1. Exercisegrace,
      Amen to every word you wrote. I'm learning as I go, too.

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  6. I guess what we really need to do is reinforce those boundaries. Now that the cow has gotten out of the proverbial barn, it is imperative that we make sure the door is shut! Maybe I'm all wrong and there are no boundaries until someone cheats?

    Who amongst us would have ever thought we had to re-instate the obvious prior to the affair. Who thought, HHMMM we made those vows 20 years ago with all that pesky forsaking all others promise and all, but maybe I need to talk about it again?? I think most of us assumed our boundaries were in place. It's only until DDay smacks us square in the face that we learn the boundaries were crossed. And they didn't mean crap to the cheater.

    Great points Elle. Yes after infidelity the very basic of boundaries need to be in place, FIRMLY because obviously they didn't get the message the first time. It's ridiculous that we have to actually verbally state the obvious. It's ridiculous the lengths we go to to make sure our boundaries are NOT being ignored or crossed. LOL I have a friend who's husband is having an affair, (he contends they are "just friends") and she has found FOUR throw away phones. She finds one, confronts him, she keeps the phone, he goes out and buys another. He keeps denying the affair. Feigns innocence. She made herself nuts constantly checking his vehicle for phones. But she was right to. She followed her gut. There was always one there to find. He's an idiot. Anyway, it took finding 4 throw away phones and reading the incriminating messages for her to finally leave him. He cried and begged like a child for her not to. Yeah, he wasn't given enough chances!! So maybe she was remiss in stating her boundaries emphatically when she found the first phone? I don't think so. I think he's just a self serving entitled asshole. Ironically he's the brother of my husband's affair partner!!!

    Personally I did NOT state any boundaries during reconciliation. I let HIM decide how badly he wanted reconciliation. He was very aware of my expectations with regards to total transparency and NC. There was no room for doubt or argument in this regard.

    More importantly I demand respect in all areas of our relationship. I call him on the disrespect and this is probably where I fell short prior to the affair. I didn't want to cause and waves and ignored his disrespect. Cheaters know what the boundaries are. It is up to them to keep THEMSELVES in check. Anything less you are playing marriage police or worse his Mommy!

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    1. You're right, TH. Boundaries aren't about becoming a police man. It can get blurry, I know. But we need to revisit boundaries in every relationship, I think. Over time, we start to let things go, we overlook things, we make excuses for others because, too often, it's easier than rocking the boat.

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  7. I think whether he is willing to respect your boundaries is one of the best indicators of whether your marriage can heal from this or not. Mine has never once said, "You should trust me by now." He has done everything I asked without complaint. When I had a panicky moment a few months ago, even though it's been over a year, when I asked for him to confirm his whereabouts for the night before, he did it, offering that I could call the friend he was attending the class with to confirm he was there, even though doing so would embarrass him. The consistent way he has respected my boundaries has gone a long way into re-establishing trust. He says he understands this is the price he has to pay for screwing everything up.

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    1. It does go a long way. By simply understanding that they need to PROVE that they can be trusted after making it clear they CAN'T goes a long way, doesn't it?

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  8. So speaking of boundaries... I was out of town this weekend. We talked before I left and we agreed my husband would not go out and would spend time with our kids. It was a good discussion. On Saturday I got a text saying his mom wanted to have the kids over night. Well then got text saying he was going to go out with a friend. He told me three times the place he went with his friend. Then I checked his phone out of curiosity. Well him and his friend talked about meeting elsewhere. While I am not sure anything major happened it just hits me. It feels like he just stabbed me in the back. Even if it was an innocent oversight we have talked about being very specific about where he goes and who he is with. It makes me sad and wonders if this will ever work. Is this a one time thing or will it get worse and will he push these boundaries over time. Lots to think about.

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  9. My husband is a sex addict. We spent our savings sending him to rehab. 3 years later he has an affair! I am so hurt. He says he's sorry and in some ways I can see that he is trying really hard! but other times when I remind him of an established boundary he says - no you never said that!! It drives me insane. I now feel like everything needs to be documented to prove to him- yes, we dis establish this boundary. This is such a sad version of a marriage. I just hate it and him at times!!

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    1. K,
      I'm so sorry for the pain you're in. How many chances are you willing to give this guy? He's been treated for sex addiction and then he cheats? Is he following a 12-step program? Did he have some sort of plan in place in case he was tempted to relapse? What accountability does he have? He doesn't get to hide behind the "but you never said that" stuff.

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  10. Boundaries is one of those words that we see and hear often as betrayed spouses, but it's not as easy to quantify as it seems. I'm sure that we all thought we had boundaries in place, and understood, prior to learning of our spouse's betrayal. Then all hell breaks loose, our lives implode, and we have to figure out why those previous boundaries failed and what new ones we need to put in place.

    For me, I was very clear that H could not continue any kind of "friendship" with the OW (they had been partners at work for 2 years at that point, with a 3 week sexual affair that he ended about 5 months prior to d-day). He was fine with that, as he started to suspect, and then had it confirmed by her brother, that she is a bipolar sociopath...and a sex addict. She'd manipulated him for months after he told her that what they'd done was a mistake and he just wanted to go back to being friends by pretending that she was being abused...so he was very angry with her and wanted nothing to do with her. They no longer worked in the same building, so it wasn't difficult to avoid her once he made it clear that he was done being used by her.

    So, that boundary seemed like a done deal. Fast forward to 2 months ago, when I found out that she had come to him for help because her life was a train wreck and everyone else pretty much hates her...and HE WENT BEHIND MY BACK AND BEFRIENDED HER AGAIN!!

    We've been seeing an amazing new therapist both together and individually and he has helped my H see that he had unresolved issues concerning the OW...not romantic or sexual feelings, but not being able to deal with the fact that this person he had considered a true friend who cared about him, someone he had once "loved", was just gone from his life and wasn't the person he thought she was. For the year and a half before the affair, my H had been in a depression that had gotten progressively worse, and she was a ray of sunshine in a dark world at the time. Once the affair ended and she started the manipulation, she was the opposite, but at that point, he was so terrified that she was going to be killed, that it didn't matter that he was completely miserable everytime he had any contact with her. Once I found out, I think he was partially relieved that he could walk away from the crazy. The end of the "friendship" wasn't pretty. He laid it all out for her, all of the lies he had discovered, all of the manipulation, and she cried and screamed and begged him not to hate her. He literally and figuratively walked away from her.

    BUT, for a man with no self-esteem and a history of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, this was one more reason why he was "pathetic", why he really was the piece of shit his father told him he was. He hated himself for being duped by a master manipulator, by a sex addicted seductress. So, he held on to the possibility that it wasn't all an act on her part, that, despite her illnesses, she had been a good friend at one time and she had truly loved him in her own way. So, when she came begging for him to be her friend and help her, he chose to do it because of that piece of nostalgia. She was supposed to be moving across the country and he thought he could help her get her shit together for a few weeks and be able to say goodbye on friendly terms. He sees now that, in addition to him wanting to believe that she wasn't just a monster, he saw her as someone who needed saving and his ego wanted that boost, and he allowed himself to pretend that they really were two friends who'd made a horrible mistake at one time, but who genuinely cared about one another. He realizes now that she was manipulating him again. She knows what buttons to push to get him where she wants him, except when she started asking him to be with her, to leave his family, to have sex with her, he told her that he was just trying to be her friend and nothing more.

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  11. I found out pretty much the day after she made her intentions more clear and the fallout has been catastrophic. She flipped out and started sending him texts about how he was just using her, pretending he didn't want sex when she knew he really did (because he acted "so nice", it must have been a ruse) and then running away when she asked for a commitment. Forget that she offered herself to him sexually WITHOUT the commitment and he declined. She honestly, according to H, doesn't believe that any man wouldn't want to have sex with her...that if they say they don't, they're lying.

    It's been a rough couple of months and I've been on the fence about where my boundary was on this and what that means for my marriage. No contact was a deal breaker and lying was no longer going to be tolerated, but our therapist has encouraged both of us to look at the deeper meaning behind why he made the choices that he did. He believes that they stem from his need to feel important, to be a hero and to believe he is truly loved for who he is. H knows that everything with her was an illusion that she created and he allowed himself to believe, but it's hard for him to come to terms with that without it damaging his self esteem further. THANK GOD FOR THERAPY!

    I had initially told my H that we were done. Therapy was to help ME work through what he'd done and why and he owed me that much so I could move on with my life. But one thing our therapist told us after 2 sessions together and one individually for each of us, is that he's never seen two people who are so completely entwined the way we are. And that's a double-edged sword. He says that we have more of a foundation to rebuild our marriage than many couples he sees, but we are also extremely dependent on each other for our happiness, which is a very dangerous thing. For example, my H, when I couldn't save him from his depression and could only beg him to get help and, finally, tell him that I couldn't handle his moods anymore , convinced himself that I'd never truly loved him...and that is part of how he allowed himself to engage in the affair to begin with. He realizes now that he's relied on me too much for his happiness. And I, in turn, am learning that he and I are not ONE being. That my thoughts are not his and that our experiences, even in the same situation, are unique and I need to embrace that. I can no longer try to make MY opinions, plans, needs HIS.

    So...BOUNDARIES. This is what our therapist wants us working on. We need to have boundaries BETWEEN us so we each can figure out who we are as individuals. And after 26 years together, that's not easy.

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    1. Dana, I'm so pleased your working your way through some difficult times together. It sounds like you have both gotten to the root cause of his actions and the therapy is helping you both build or rebuild your marriage. I needed to hear a success story today. Well done to you both. Lots of love xxx

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    2. Sam, thank you for your support :)

      We're a work in progress, but I think we stand a good chance of making it. I have my doubts and fears, and rebuilding the trust seems even more daunting after this second betrayal, but exploring the underlying causes has been incredibly helpful to me in coming to terms with what he's done.

      Also, while his choices weren't my fault, his personal issues existed long before we met, and the onus is on HIM to work out ways to reorganize his thinking and reactions, I'm learning what he needs from me in order to help him to be successful. Unfortunately, while we're very compatible in many ways, our traumatic childhoods have given us each some negative traits that hurt the other, and specific needs that can sometimes be in direct competition.

      I can't say enough about finding the right therapist. Our last one was a nice guy, but he really didn't challenge us and he definitely didn't engage my H nearly enough to really dig deep. We finally just stopped going because we never felt like we were getting anywhere in the sessions and we'd both leave feeling deflated and at odds.

      I'm pulling for you, Sam, and I'm hoping your H removes his head from his behind and realizes that whatever it is that he's hiding, the possible emotional fallout for you once you know what's really happening couldn't be worse than the anxiety you're living with while you wait for a bomb to drop.

      Much luck and love to you. Please keep us posted.

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    3. Dana,
      It's almost a guarantee, if we haven't healed our own wounds, that we'll seek out a partner (subconsciously) whose wounds match ours in a way that can lead to severe dysfunction or healing...or both.

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  12. Thank you Elle. In fact, I wanted to hear from you and the other ladies on this topic many times. I actually did some research at one point, not knowing exactly what was meant by boundaries. We have had boundaries in our relationship prior to the affair. Yet, I believe that I looked at them as controlling on my or his part, and therefore, they were loose boundaries. Actually, they still are loose boundaries. Yet now I look at them in a totally different way. I see that it is not about me controlling him or him controlling me, rather, it is about our safety zones. After D day this became especially apparent during our separation. He was truly struggling with whether or not he wanted to be married. We had agreed upon a six-week separation, and then he decided he wanted longer. I knew that he was in touch with the OW. I told him he needed to come home if we were going to work on our marriage. I made it clear to him… I am not controlling you; I am simply stating what I need.
    I have learned something interesting through all of this. I recognize that my boundaries are more liberal than some women's. I used to ask all of my friends… if your husband did such and such would it bother you? I came to realize, it does not matter what their opinion is in the situation. What matters, as my therapist pointed out to me, is am I comfortable with the situation? I will give you an example. My husband is a man of adventure. He has always loved just taking off on his own, or with the boys, often times on the motorcycles, Most often, these trips are planned and I am aware of them. There are times, however, when it is a sudden decision on his part. At that point he will call and talk to me about the fact that he is perhaps, not coming home that evening. Now I know some women would absolutely not tolerate this. My feeling is… As long as I know where he is, and who he is with, and that he is safe… I am fine with it. Now, was I alright with this after DDay? Absolutely not.
    What he has done to calm my fears in those areas is send me what he calls "Proof of Life." - A picture of him, or his surroundings, or the buddies he is with. And if I reach out to call, or text him he responds nearly right away and we communicate.
    Also, last night, during our weekly meeting, which is in fact one of my current boundaries… New, since we ended our therapy. During that meeting I brought up the discussion of how do we both prevent an affair from happening again in our marriage, whether he has the affair, or I have the affair. This too has to do with boundaries. Honestly, I am not certain of the answer. As I told my husband last night, a colleague in my business profession has expressed interest in me. As I told my husband, my eyes are wide open to this and I did inform my husband… However, I do want to, for the sake of my business, see this person again. I would like to hear some thoughts on that from the ladies? As I told my husband, I met this man while my husband was still questioning whether he wanted to be in the marriage. With that, I was certainly vulnerable. Nothing happened, and we only had a few meetings… And we have one more meeting with others, a marketing event, planned. My feeling is, since I am completely aware of the situation and since I have informed my husband, I feel safe. It is apparent, that my husband is a bit concerned about the situation. I will continue to tell him of any communication I have with this person and of course if I'm going to meet with him. Any thoughts on this, or what I consider to be more liberal boundaries, please chime in. I always appreciate the insight of the ladies here. Hugs!

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    1. Melissa, I'm very much like you around boundaries. I like you would think nothing of letting my h go out with the boys on planned or last minute events before d day, now it's a different matter now I need the ins and out which is probably what I should have had in the first place but were learning from this.

      The fact that you've told your husband about this guy shows exactly the kind of person you are considerate and loyal, I'm glad your husband is concerned I think they sometimes need some of their own medicine. I think it's flattering that this guy is showing you some interest and their is nothing wrong with that, your aware of it and so is your husband. You have control over the situation and unlike our h we know where to draw the line. Good luck with moving forward and setting much needed boundaries lots of love x

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    2. Melissa,
      I was always pretty easy-going re. my husband/marriage. I thought our commitment to each other was clear and airtight. Not so much, as it turns out. And I certainly got fuzzy in my own boundaries as time went on because it seemed easier than getting into a battle (though the fact that it would have been a battle to enforce my own boundaries should have tipped me off that things were going off the rails).
      As for your colleague, I think honesty is the way to go. I imagine you're getting some benefit from knowing he's attracted to you -- ego boost or whatever, and that's where I think it gets dangerous. Given your posts on here, I know how self-aware you are so I'm sure you've considered this. It's when we're not aware of what we get from these relationships that we're often in danger of going deeper to keep the benefits coming.

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    3. Melissa you have done great work--explored feelings and tough realities that in the beginning feel like they will break us into pieces. That being said--the man who has expressed interest in you--does he know you are married (regardless of the challenges you're currently facing?). One boundary I have created for myself is that despite being in desperate need of the reassurance of an "outsider" I wouldn't take even one step in the same direction the man in my life once did. For me ANYONE expressing interest or sniffing around is a threat to the very thing I have crawled out of hell to try and rebuild. I shared with a longtime male friend (since childhood) that I was in a crisis in my marriage and when he said things like "I've always regretted not asking you out/making a move". I immediately explained to him that I would have to take a timeout from our friendship and observe a self imposed no contact with this friend. I did it with a lot of agony and some resentment because if the man in my life had pushed pause we wouldn't be here right now, but I cannot stomach the idea that me needing an ego stroking somehow trumps the potential of the man in my life needing one. Two written boundaries I have: I will keep no secret that I wouldn't want to discover being kept from me and I will take no action that would be a deal breaker in my attempt at reconcilliation. We don't know each other, but I have infinite respect for everything you have done. The interested man, however, is causing my heart to cry out and my stomach to churn. It feels dangerous. It feels like it creates a dynamic that could lead to you being hurt more. Please know I would never claim to have greater insight than any betrayed partner on this site, but I reacted so intuitively to your post that I had to respond. Wishing you the very best--Shawn.

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  13. My sister and I both read this post and talked about it on the phone. She is not a betrayed wife but we both can relate to boundaries. She nor I were allowed to have personal boundaries growing up. You do whatever to please, anticipate and make the other person feel good. Of course there are cultural boundaries like being an Adulter which are incorporated into our personal boundaries. In therapy, we both learned about setting boundaries for us, personal boundaries. I had no boundaries with my H. I should have called him out more, I should have used my voice to express my needs. I do now. Elle is right I do get push back. It is not always pleasant. I get push back from my kids, clients and H. It is uncomfortable to be un-liked. It is uncomfortable to hold my ground without feeling guilty or selfish. My problem is I don't know what a reasonable boundary is. Sure all the no Adulter rules are pretty straight forward. How about the other boundaries in daily life? That is very hard for me. I struggle all the time. But I found if I'm honest and tell someone how I feel, then I process what is said to me, I can make a decision on a reasonable boundary. All the post above are basically asking is this a reasonable boundary? Am I too lenient or too tough? But really it shouldn't make any difference. If some loves you they will follow your rules good or bad. Lousy H should not be allowed to pick and choose our boundaries or which ones to follow or not. They certainly had no problem following THEIR bad boundary rules did they? Just because their boundary rules were different doesn't make them wrong for them. They justified it all the time. Boundaries are mine not his. My H can follow MY unreasonable boundary rules until I process the circumstances then I can change my mind later. Yes it is ok to change my mind. Believe it or not it took me a year to learn I can change my mind. He better follow my boundaries good or bad as he followed his own. How dare he even try to dismiss me by ignoring my boundaries. Who does he think he is? Who does he think I am? I don't let anything slide, slip or fall anymore. If is not reasonable I will eventually figure it out. I'm worth it and so are you. Unreasonable boundaries are not for him to define, look at his boundaries!

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    1. Lynn,
      You're so right in that enforcing our own boundaries can be really uncomfortable for those of us accustomed to pleasing others and desperately wanting to be "liked". What I've learned, however, is that the better I take care of myself, the more people I have in my life who respect me and, by extension, respect my boundaries. My relationships are, quite simply, healthier. A lot of the people who gave me pushback are not in my life anymore -- either because I didn't want them or they didn't want someone they couldn't guilt/push/manipulate into doing what they wanted. Taking the time, as you note, to just get clear on what we need for ourselves is a good approach...and to prep us for the pushback so we recognize it for what it is instead of being hooked back into the unhealthy dynamic.

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  14. I guess we all have our own and varied boundaries. I think the important thing is not to view them as rules for my h but rather rules for myself. What I will and will not put up with. It's never bothered me my h had interests outside of our relationship. Never minded his golf trips with the boys. I knew the other guys. Lol now maybe the other wives are threatened that my h is going on golf trips with their husbands knowing he's a cheater!!! I always believed it was healthy to have outside interests. Restriction of those interests is not what boundaries are about. One can still have their interests but may have to work harder to make us feel safe when doing so. And that's different for everyone.

    For me boundary setting is not you can't do this or that. My boundary is he can decide and I decide my own comfort level with his decision. I no longer grin and bear it. My h became very comfortable only doing what interested him. Now he is very open to participating in my interests. So far so good

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    1. "rules for myself". That's EXACTLY what it is. Some people will try and push against you, citing your "rules" as controlling. But they're deliberately misinterpreting in order to keep abusing your boundaries. Healthy people respect them because they have similar "rules" in place for themselves.

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  15. Wow. Just reading this post and the comments. I have no boundaries! I have been so scared to rock the boat that I have suppressed myself to the point that I feel like I cannot speak out at all.

    His infidelity has changed this. I've found my voice and I've been using it bit by bit. I've also realised he is a master gaslighter. Even yesterday he claims I knew he'd been using Skype to communicate with his AP. I know he didn't tell me this...it's a minor detail and when I insisted he hadn't told me this, he got angry and said he couldn't deal with this for much longer, he was sick of it. So I told him that was fine. He could just go. He hasn't gone anywhere yet...

    I think he was surprised that I didn't back down, didn't say that I must have made a mistake.

    I've been journaling like mad and have found this a great way to process my thoughts and feelings. Taking time for myself to do this without guilt is another boundary I've put in place and it feels so good.

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    1. Piper,
      That's HUGE. You calling him out on his threat to leave is completely respecting your own boundaries. By making it clear that he is free to make his own choices, you're also making it clear that you will also respect yourself enough to not listen to his bullshit. He can take his show somewhere else...though, as you note, he didn't follow through.
      It's a learning process. When we've danced a certain dance for so long, it takes time for both partners to learn new steps.
      And keep journalling. It's an incredibly powerful tool to help you sort out what's happening and strengthen yourself. Taking care of yourself is healthy -- and it's something you want to model to children. It's self-care, not selfish.

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  16. Amen to that this loving blind trusting wife prettt much gave him the key to the city trust is not a fault his actions are his own im hard though when he calls it a mistake one that last that long is not a mistake i say a choice a very bad choices. I am much more vocal then b4 he did as he pleased and i pretty much was ok with it now ... he mostly includes me when i tell him go ahead by urself sometimes so far he doesnt weather thats becuz hes trying to bond is solid or scared of what he might do i dont know it might be more of he doesnt want me to feel a certian way or leave roo. For doubt since we are fragile i stick and say this i cant keep him in bubble or control him ... he has to do that all on his own ...make good choice

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  17. Candid conversation tonight ... boundaries feelings thoughts ... highs and low lows tonight ... definitely not one the same page as i thought .
    . Are we really swimming to the same place ... i thought so ... hoped so ... now im not sure and the fears anxiety hurt frustration and loneliness crash back in. Ive been here before its becoming all too a familiar place. I cant hide from it ... go around it or change it ... i can continue to the next step and see how it pans out ... sit idle ... but i cant do this on my own ... either ... maybe just a bad night or maybe the shits finally floating to the surface ... it was buried numb sad angry disbelief to now processing absorbing tryinf to reinvert create and get thru ... i hope we can get thru together ... my vision now tainted my heart scarred but my hope still alive if the swirling negativity fears and ability to not hear one another sometimes doesnt suffocate it first then we might still prevail. Perhaps counseling might work so hard to find good ones. Maybe more time ... maybe maybe maybe just needed to vent ... feeling very alone. And struck over when i think good is coming some comfort even normalcy. .... some lows roll in again. Sighhhh i know it wont be like this forever but thats what it is in the right now.

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    1. Wounded, I don't know if it's hard to find a good therapist. Maybe I've been lucky. I sometimes wonder if people use it as an excuse to not go. Even the not-so-good therapists might have something to teach us. You don't have to stick with the same one forever...but it's worth starting somewhere.

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    2. I had a great one individually ive since moved and honestly havent felt need to go .... i may now more then ever ...if i thought this was a down down time i now have the familiar punch in the gut as my H has voiced he may no longer be on board to fix this and i cant fix it as an army of one ... a bad day perhaps but today i think hes changing his path off the one i thought we were walking together ... blindsided again or so it feels.

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  18. Sad thing is we expect our h to make the right decisions, no one wants to have to tell them what to do. I know whats best for me and my family and I base my decision on that why the f@k doesn't he?? I know we have to remain calm be the better person, in the long run it's the best for everyone. But I feel like doing something stupid, immature, selfish but what would it achieve, more fuking hurt for me. Aaaarrrrgggghhh wanna fucking scream out loud and then curl up and hide :(

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    1. SamA
      When I get that urge to scream, I turn music up loud and let it rip right out of me! Usually when I get a trigger, I use this tactic. Sometimes it helps just to scream it all out! When I drive and no one can hear it, I get as loud and use ugly language and it just makes my anger disappear. Then I use my stop sign and band to keep it from bouncing back in my head. This is the only way I could move through the anger. I had to really feel it all the way to my core before I could let it go! Find an outlet for your anger and if it's venting here, just know we feel your pain! Hugs!

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    2. Thank you Theresa, I'll try that. I know you guys understand and that means so much. The pain just hurts so bloody much.

      Love to you all xx

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    3. Sam A,
      As Piper noted above, journalling can be a really effective tool to help you deal with that mounting frustration. Just write it all out -- the profanity, the wishes that you could cut his dick off, whatever you need to say. Nobody else need ever read it but there it is -- on the page -- in all its glory.
      And I know it's tempting to do something crazy ourselves but you're right in that, ultimately, we'll just feel worse.

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    4. Lol thankyou for making me giggle Elle, I'm going to try the 'full disclosure' session and the journaling. I'm not sure how much he will spill in the session but we can only try. Got some counselling tomorrow so I'll let you guys know. Journaling sounds great too gonna give it a whirl. I'm open to anything at present just feel irratable and distant from myself and everyone around me and I hate that. Sometimes i just want to escape so I did tonight went to the gym and burned the rubber of the treadmill lol think I've done myself an injury too.

      I'm so glad you guys are here for me, life's not all bad with you guys behind me. Lots of love xxx

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  19. Sam A,
    I completely understand your feelings. I remember having so much bottled up rage and feeling like I was going to explode. And so many times, I wondered how it would feel to be utterly selfish and just act on impulse with no regard to how it would affect other. But for me, like you, I realized it would only cause more damage and I probably wouldn't feel so great about myself afterward.
    For the anger, our therapist suggested a physical outlet like smashing plates (cheap ones, of course) or throwing clay at a board. I opted for a punching bag but I know that's not the sort of thing that works for everyone. I would exhaust myself punching that bag and saying out loud whatever thoughts were going through my head. And it was mostly a lot of what I would like to say to the OW because my H had already gotten most of it face to face. Keeping it inside was just toxic for me. Not being able to release that anger felt like one more insult in this already shitty situation. Journaling helped me too, but I have never been consistent with it. I started a blog just for myself and just having those thoughts in print helped. I keep telling myself I'll go back to it because there was benefit to it for me.
    I'm so sorry for the pain you are feeling. Hugs!

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    1. Hugs dandelion, thank you for your kind words it means so much to me. I actually love boxing so a punching bag sounds like a great idea : )xxx

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    2. Yes, anything that helps you expend that physical energy is a good choice. I ran -- pounding the pavement until I was exhausted. I would think horrible thoughts and mutter horrible things but by the time I was home, the rage was spent. And, incidentally, I looked awesome. Now that I'm happy, I'm in far worse shape. ;)

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  20. I wrote an earlier reply to this but looks like it got lost.
    Learning how to have and state boundaries has been a great lesson of infidelity. HIs infidelity highlighted how didn't really trust myself and my feelings. I can finally say that I can now honor my own needs and make them clear to myself and to others thus ending the crazymaking powerhold of his gaslighting. My therapist has really helped with this. The Marshall Rosenberg book "Non-Violent Communication" has also helped me to recognize my feelings and needs and helped my H and I to be able to respectfully and thoughtfully have boundaries (our H's are likely people with poor internal boundaries) as well as empathy for each other. For the longest time, my H justfied his hiding and self absorption as him creating "boundaries" and protecting his needs. Thankfully Rosenberg has helped him to identify what real needs are vs. selfish wants, as well as how to show up with empathy, understanding, and respect for my boundaries. And it has given me the language to standup for myself in a respectful and authentic way.

    MBS

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    1. MBS,
      Wow. That sounds like a huge shift in your relationship. I haven't heard of that book. Sounds like a good one.

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  21. Quick question does anyone have a h that keeps quiet when having a difficult conversation. It's like my h has muted speech syndrome seriously. Last night I would have been better speaking to the wall I spoke for at least an hour whilst he listened and have me very little back. I've told him that I need him to speak to defend himself, whatever just fucking speak. I seriously could have jabbed him in the head. So annoying and frustrating. Why does he do this??? I'm getting trickle truth this week which I'm ok with if rather be getting something than nothing but there's more I know there is. They are such stupid thick twats. So incompetent can't explain why they do what they do but do it. Yes very fuking intelligent (not) stupid stupid man

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    1. Sam A ,
      My H went through the same thing which lasted about 8-12 months. I had to learn not to react in an accusatory manner to whatever he was trying to explain something. I had to learn to listen without judgement. I had to learn how to believe the story he was telling. I had to learn to be criticized without defending my actions all the time. I'm not talking about gas lighting. It didn't come natural or easy. I had to work extremely hard in order to have any two way conversation. I had to practice this and believe me this was in year 2. No way could I have done this year one. I still have to work at this. Over time when he is going to begin say something there are key words he uses so I can brace myself. Like he says, your not going to like this but I was irritated when you....... This is a criticism he is communicating. I was constantly criticized growing up so I get really defensive. I brace myself and in my mind to say just listen and don't react. I also had to listen to his actions so to speak that helped me believe what he was saying. I also learned I grew up learning everything negative so I Had to learn how to see the positive of what he was saying. Instead of thinking that is not enough or should have said ....I had to learn what little he was saying was enough at the time knowing more info would be communicated as I got better at listening. The OW listened to him. This is the hardest thing being a listener in this journey of healing. Like I said it took me 2 years to undo my non-listening behaviors but now it was worth it. He pretty much speaks his mind all the time and it is still hard for me not to react. I still can go from zero to raving in about 30 seconds if I let myself.

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    2. Yes, my husband used to just go silent. It was only sifting through the wreckage post D-Day that I discovered just how disturbing he found ANY conflict. I would be talking, trying to sort out a problem (could have been as simple as asking him to help me more with the kids) and all he could hear was a rushing in his ears and a feeling of total panic. He immediately went into fear mode and would freeze. We're better...but that might just always be a problem for him because his fear is so great.

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  22. I would never thought of the term boundaries in our marriage before the A but now I know how neccessary they are. And how neccessary it is that my husband respects all these new boundaries if he really wants to prove himself to me. Thus far he is doing everything he can to respect my new boundaries. Even offering to cut ties with a friend of his as I said seeing the 2 of them together made me want to throw up as his friend has done the same to his wife as he has. We are still living seperately (6 months) and I have been wrestling with whether to give our marriage a 2nd chance. My counsellor keeps reminding me whichever path I may choose I don't have to commit to either, I am allowed to change my mind! I am starting to spend more time alone with H (without our son), dating as such and because he is so respectful of my boundaries I have started to relax more & enjoy being with him. Physically though some days I won't allow him to even kiss me (he asks permission as he knows the physical side is such a huge deal) and I think it's because sex is still such a huge issue for me. We haven't had sex and the thought of it scares me as all I can think about is him having sex with OW and the fact he has been elsewhere. And then this rolls into part of the biggest conundrum, however much I try to start over with him (I know I do want to give it a go so that if I decide it's over for good, I know we gave it our best shot) can I really truly live with what he's done and the boundaries that he crossed? I am guessing only time will tell (I am 6 months out from DDay).

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    1. Coping,
      I think that time is a huge element. I have had moments of doubt where I have wondered if this is something I can live with forever. I've never doubted that I love my husband but questioned whether or not I can overcome the pain he caused and forgive him for being the person he was during the affair. I just try to stay in the moment, focus on the person he is now and the work he's doing to try to never be the "affair person" again. We're 10 months out. I see continued improvement. Unfortunately, he can't go back and undo what he did. I know if he could, he would. I know he struggles still with the weight of what he's done, but instead of trying to bury it, he's tackling it head on. Just last week, he initiated getting additional therapy for us through my employer's Employee Assistance Program. He said even if I choose not to go with him, he has plenty to work through. For me, that is enough right now. Perhaps as you continue to see what he's doing and to enjoy the time with your husband emotionally, the physical part will return. It's a huge struggle because it's such a breach of trust and, for me, a violation of things that should have been sacred to our marriage. As Elle always says, all you have to do right now is take your "next right step".
      Hugs!

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    2. I agree. Take your time. Sex can be so hard at first because it feels as if there's someone else in bed with you. Be gentle with yourself. Allow both of you to feel awkward and uncomfortable at first. Allow it to feel icky at first. And your therapist is right. If the marriage doesn't feel "right", you're allowed to back out.

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    3. Thank you Dandelion. If only they could go back & undo what they did. I dream about us starting counselling back then rather than him having the affair and having counselling now! Your message really helps - thank you. I so often just need some reassurance - so thank you too Elle.

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  23. To the wonderfully supportive women here: have any of you battled with feelings of depression and apathy post dday and how did you deal with it? I am 2 months post dday and go through periods of feeling absolutely dead inside.

    How did you all manage running your daily life? I work in a pretty high powered job with sixty- seventy hour work weeks and post dday I am finding it hard to stay on top and keep it together. I'm scared it will all implode and I will lose the job I love and my marriage in one sweep.

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    1. Anony 11:36 pm,
      What you feel is normal so don't fight or worry about it. I also worked 60 hours per week for a law firm in a high powered job. It is normal, I couldn't focus on my work. I would be easily distracted into a task which had nothing to do with work. I would search the Internet day and night looking for an infidelity cure, something to make me feel better. I was late in responding to calls. I worked hard and look where it got me. I worked hard and I was rewarded alright. The sense of injustice was screaming at me. Here I was working at something I loved but destroyed me at the same time. Luckily, my boss understood what I was going through and picked up my slack for about a year. Find someone who can carry some of your responsibility. I had to learn to say no at work. My self-esteem was tied to my work so I overcompensated at being perfect and super consultant. Everyone at work expected super woman to show up and I had to learn to have work boundaries. I did get push back. I found that people would wait for me when I was ready not when they were ready. You have already been imploded with the adultery bomb. Get someone to pick up your slack. Yes just look they are there willing to help you until you can decide what you want and who you want to be. It is very early for you to expect yourself to be fully professionally functional. After 20 months I decided to leave my professional life behind. I do a few jobs as people call me only if it fits in my schedule. I was offered a high powered position last week with a national company. I'm known in my industry for working my ass off. I turned down a quarter of million dollar salary. I thought wow here is my chance to leave his dumb ass. He was scared. But I learned to do what I want to do and I said no thank you. I said, I can help you out for a year but no more. I still wonder about my choices and time will tell if I made the right one. For me right now money doesn't mean much. When I stopped working our income went down 75 percent. I can say I haven't missed the money. I gained my self-esteem which you can't buy, get it from working hard or be truly appreciated by your co-workers. I both won and lost. You have much to think about. There is no life which is under control for you right now. You are in shock. If a hurricane hit your home, you wouldn't expect to be back at work the next day. If a bomb exploded near you, you would be in shock, you wouldn't be expected to be back at work. You wouldn't expect that from people who work for you. Don't keep these high expectations for yourself, it is not going to help you and it is not realistic for yourself.

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    2. Anon
      Oh yes! Especially early in. I was seriously scared to drive anywhere!

      It's almost impossible to stay focused on things you need to stay focused on. Thank God I didn't have children at home. I cannot imagine.

      I read somewhere about emotional fatigue. And that is what has struck me and maybe you as well. November 2014 we had to put down our 16 year old rescue dog. I stayed and held him until he was gone. This was by far the best dog we've ever had. After my h left me that dog never left my side. He was nothing but love. I cried while I held him and until he passed but after that never another tear. I miss him like crazy but no tears. Point is I don't think I have anymore tears left. I am emotionally fatigued. I feel numb to so much. It's even hard for me to muster anger. I just don't seem to care about much anymore.

      So I know what you're saying with regards to your job. I'm sure it is difficult to stay up and focused in such an environment. And we all hear those little voices that say "so what? What difference does it make?"

      Well when it comes to your career it DOES make a difference. I think this is the epitome of taking care of YOU. This is YOUR career. You've worked hard for it and YOU deserve all the successes that come with your hard work. Don't jeopardize that in the name of your husband's poor choices.

      What I do when I have intrusive thoughts and I realllly need to focus is I give myself a time limit or I say literally say to myself "NO you don't have time to think about that right now. You can do it later". Also I make sure I get lots of sleep. Seriously 8 hours a night. I can do anything with the proper amount of sleep. Early on I had to take melatonin to get to sleep but gave it up after a few months. I don't know about you but I'm an idiot without enough rest!!!

      I hope I've helped and I truly hope you can get a hold of the situation that you don't jeopardize your career. Your husband will sort himself out, jobs not so much :/ You take care of you. I was a SAHM, I wish now I would have pursued a career. Biggest regret!

      I hope you can figure out how to heal your relationship but mostly I hope you don't put your job in peril in doing so. Good luck to you and hugs sister.

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    3. Thank you so much, Lynn. You've given me a lot to think about. Sometimes its hard when this image of myself as a perfect career woman with the perfect family life with loving husband all comes crashing down in one shot.

      Thanks Trying too hard. I'm trying to block intrusive thoughts at work too. Hugs back to you

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    4. Lynn and TH have both made really good suggestions. It's often called "the plain of lethal flatness" and many of us find ourselves there. It's a survival mode. After the crazy ups and downs of first finding out, we often have nothing left. We're exhausted. WE need to function and it's easier to just shut down. But I suspect it's also a signal that, perhaps, you need to devote some attention to you and your healing from this. Maybe it's time to back down a bit from some of the work. See if you can reduce your workload temporarily until you feel back on solid ground. Even without betrayal, it sounds as if you're heading for burnout.

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  24. Sam A,

    I think it is probably the most cruel irony that WE have to behave sensibly and with maturity when our stupid ass husbands have been behaving as they please. And sometimes it is awfully tempting to behave every bit as badly.

    I had a girls night out at the weekend, and one of the ladies has recently reconciled with her husband after his affair. I was shocked when she danced and flirted like mad with another man, but she admitted that she feels entitled to after her husband's actions. I don't have that desire. Not because I am better than her, but more because I have boundaries I do not want to violate.

    One of my regrets is contacting the OW, as the most recent one (yes, there have been a few) was toxic in the worst way, and by contacting her I feel as though I handed her some of my power. Now (thanks in a huge way to Elle and this site) I don't think about her any where near as much. She displays her life on social media with a bit too much enthusiasm. I realise now she is trying to project an image of being happy, when in reality she can't be...because any one who did what she did cannot love or value themselves.

    And I really love myself now. I've surrounded myself with some inspiring and wonderful ladies - present company included - that have helped me see the light.

    I cannot control my husband. I can tell him that if he ever acts out again, there will be no reconciliation, that there will be only one course of action. Because he has seen me come good on other things I have promised, like not focussing on the OW but instead focussing on myself, he can see I mean business in all areas.

    He has a new found respect for me. When he finally came clean and confessed everything to me I was unhappy but he had told me the truth which is what I had asked for. He didn't need to, there was no way I would have uncovered some of his shenanigans. So I kept my end of the deal and didn't respond to his revelations by screaming and shouting.

    Although I can get sad and I do mourn what I thought we had, I am also glad that I know the truth. It is freeing and has given me an opportunity to rebuild my life how I want to. And that is pretty awesome!

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    1. Onwards and upwards piper!!!
      Xxx

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    2. Amen Piper. You've come a long way...

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  25. Hi anon feb13

    I am still in the early days myself, but I'm finding being kind to myself helps.

    Don't expect to function as you did pre-dday. Allow yourself to feel nothing, and go to that dark place but when you do, have a list of good stuff to help you out.

    For me, my good stuff is as small as a really good coffee, or a long child free walk.

    Can you take some time off of work? If you've been there a while would they be understanding?

    Hugs to you, the early days are crappy x

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    1. Hugs to you, Piper. I'm learning slowly how to be a little kinder and accept that its OK to be less than perfect. Wish you all strength too

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  26. I have boundaries as in NO porn: He's violated that four times in the last year and we are separated IN the home again. We were separated in the home and my son gave up his room and I let him back in my bedroom but he's out again.

    I'm not going to be the porn police anymore.

    He's got Cov. Eyes on there, but he found a phone that my kids use for internet only and it didn't have a password on it and no CE and what do you think I found on it last week?

    Financially, I'm stuck right now. But I'm working on myself. My 18 yo old has issues too, but my job is done and she has to work on her own probs.

    I'm learning boundaries.

    Now I have to set one that my husband does NOT trigger my kids by telling them what do to anymore. He uses this authoritarian voice that makes everyone mad and hurt.

    So...I've got to right out more boundaries to keep my kids healthy.

    Fun fun fun.

    Elle, if you ever wanted to do a forum, I would pledge 10 to 15 dollars a month to help out. I wish there was a porn section on here. I realize both are adultery, it's just that my issues are not the OW, but millions of fantasies that he prefers over me.

    Thank you so much tho for letting me vent here. This is my favorite blog. I don't get to post much b/c my daughter has a severe eating disorder and is at death's door.

    I'm just exhausted. My therapist is helping me to crawl out of this hole and tells me to stay centered on myself and those two have to keep their boundaries and leave me alone, dammit.

    Anne of VA

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    1. Anne, please continue to 'vent' we love hearing from you and I'm so sorry for all your going through. Sending you much love xxxx

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    2. Anne of VA,
      Sweetheart, you've got a LOT to deal with right now. I'm so sorry about your daughter. I have a good friend whose daughter struggled too and it's so hard to watch.
      As for your husband's "authoritarian" voice, I call my husband's the "wait til your father gets home" voice. It's ridiculous. It's like some throwback to the 1950s. But...while I can't stop him from using it, I have helped the kids learn to find their own voices and tell him, respectfully, that he needs to speak to them respectfully and that he scares them.
      Ironically, it's when my husband feels small (ie. that nobody is listening to him, or respecting his wishes, or whatever), is when he acts "big". He has no idea that, at 6'2" and 185 pounds and yelling, he's scary as hell because, inside, he feels like a child that's being ignored. However, that's HIS problem.
      The best you can do for your kids is give them permission to have their feelings and to voice them. Don't take their side, necessarily, just remain a bystander who's ensuring that nobody gets hurt.
      As for your daughter, I'm sure you've got her the help she needs to become healthy again but, of course, you can't control her. Eating disorders are so insidious and deceptive.
      Please know we're here for you, Anne of VA. We're rooting for you and sending you all the strength we can.

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    3. Elle TY for your kind reply. Yeah, it's a throwback to what his father sounds like.

      Good advice on telling the children to air their hurts. My son doesn't want to and I understand.

      I found out yesterday that my ED daughter will lose her health insurance next month and I freaked. I found out we can add her to ours and that might open up getting her into an 30 IP ED clinic which she has been talking about. One day she wants to go and one day she doesn't. I think she's coming to the end of herself. She can't work right now b/c her mind is so broken, but I'm a positive thinker and tell her one day, God will give her victory and just take the time to heal minute and minute, day by day.

      She wants to apply for dis. but I'd rather her go to a clinic b/c SSDI won't pay for shit. So I'm just giving it all to God, the best I can, but did I have the mother of all panic attacks on Sat. We were coming out of the movies after watching SW the Force Awakens *which sucked BTW, I like the ones I grew up on in the 70s and 80s* and my son and hubby had to help me to the car.

      Luckily, my psychiatrist fit me in the same time as my ED daughter. I feel better this morning.

      I now have a better understanding of what a parent goes through with a very very sick child. She's got one foot in the grave and tired to commit suicide around Thanksgiving time.

      My hubby is 6 ft 1 and 180 pounds and I'm 5 ft 4. Of course, if he tried that tone of voice with me I say STFU, you sound like your dad.

      Anne of VA

      Oh Sam A, thanks for taking the time to read my post.

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  27. Ladies, I need you. I am afraid. Afraid that I may need to end my marriage. It's been just over a year since DDay #1. I have thought to myself throughout this - is my husband doing everything within his power to make our marriage work? I wanted more, yet our therapist would point out that my h may not be inclined to ... for example during one of our first sessions she asked each of us what we needed from the other ... and one of them for me was for him to read: "How to help my spouse get over my affair" ... I ordered it and gave it to him. He cracked the cover once and made some kind of joke - his method to reduce tension. When I brought it up later in a session the therapist basically asked my husband how many self help books he read before - with his answer as 0 - that's it, he never read it. All of the actions I wrote off - many times the therapist did as well. She did however push him to make a decision regarding whether he was dedicated to saving the marriage. With such pressure we had a rather explosive session and he stated he wasn't going back - again the therapist was "fine" with this. At my next, solo session I spoke to her about voicing boundaries with my h and her suggestion was to do such only if or when a situation would arrive that made me feel uncomfortable. So, honestly things had been going well. It was apparent we were working toward the future. With reluctance, my h agreed to weekly meetings and we've been doing so. Why now am I upset? It may start out sounding trivial - yet the upshot is disturbing. My birthday was in January. On my birthday my h announced he was going out to get my card (my language of love, words of affirmation.) He knows how much I love cards and over the years he has put in so much effort to get the perfect card. I ended up riding with him as he was running errands - we got home and I said the card could wait. The next few days came and went and no card. I told him I was upset because I didn't get a card. It eventually became a sore subject and I didn't even want a card. Valentine's Day about a month later - I found the perfect card - about weathering storms and looking to the future. The night before Valentine's one of his buddys and sons wanted to stay at our house. He checked with me and I said it was fine as long as we had some special time together the next day, Valentine's Day. So, the next day, they left early and we went out to breakfast. Afterward I had placed my card for him on the table and he said he was going to run errands later and get my card. Sure enough he went out later - yet came back quickly. I was notably upset and he was attentive and caring - "Why are you upset?" I said you were back to soon to get my card. He had forgot. At this point it was late in the day and he was getting the truck ready to drive about three hours north to pick up my mother. Getting the truck ready meant washing it - yes, my husband suffers from OCD. As well, typically male behavior - I can't deal with this emotion, yet I can accomplish this.
    Continued

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  28. So while driving he asked it I was feeling better. I said, "no, nothing had changed." He didn't get it - I asked if he had gotten my card and he said, "not yet." And then with his insistence, I noted that I would think he would do anything within his power to make up for his bad behavior and I asked, "does that make sense?" and he said, rather curtly, "I hear you, but I don't agree that that makes sense." He went on to explain that our marriage was good most of the time, great sometimes and not good sometimes- especially when talking about "it".
    With more conversation he said something very hurtful, yet it took a moment to sink in. Basically he compared the affair to a girl pushing and hurting another girl on the playground - you don't need to keep bringing it up - he started to say, "get over it" yet I didn't let the words leave his lips. I said don't you ever, EVER tell me to get over it. Then later, as I am driving I just start crying ... He: "What is wrong?" He really wants to know and he really is that fucking clueless. I say, "Sometimes I think you get it and then you compare it to a girl pushing a girl .?!?!.. I said, "it is huge. HUGE! don't you get that? Again he assured me that he did. Then we didn't talk more about it, but he was more attentive, kind, asking how I was.
    I am at his folks house now with my mom. We will be returning home today and I've been laying here awake for hours. He had said to me through all this discussion on the way here - "why can't we just be? Can't you just be with me?"
    Again, he doesn't get it. And sadly, I don't know that he ever will. I love him - yet as has been so aptly pointed out here - you cannot reconcile alone. I am going to go back and see the therapist. I honestly don't know how to approach this with my husband. It's like I told him in the car, "I cannot control you or make you feel a way you do not." He said he can't either - I know he loves me, yet he is broken. I can't fix him and he is not attempting to fix himself. And his idea of fixing the marriage is to just pretend nothing happened and just "be."
    Wow. So very tough. If I did muster the strength to say, "it's over'l. OMG, I can't even imagine. Yet I can't heal and thrive without effort on his part ... I used to believe in his ability to grow emotionally, now I see he can only do that if he really wants to. And as our therapist said, that will only happen, if ever, if he is in so much pain he doesn't know what to do. I fear he won't know that pain unless I am gone from his life.
    Thank you ladies. Truly.

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    1. Melissa
      I'm there with you with expecting him to do his part every day! On our good days he shows me his sensitive side with out trying it just comes naturally to him as it did in the earlier part of our marriage when life was simple and easy to get to know each other's needs and meet them! With the trauma of betrayal it seems like we loose all the knowledge we had of our partner. My h sometimes states this is who I am and I'm still the same man I was before! The snit doesn't realize how much both of us have been changed by his choices of how to deal with mid life crisis! Him probably somewhat better change has occurred but for me not sure my change has been for the better but I'm still a work in progress! It seems to me you are doing the best you can but you can't see the difference he's making because he has lost sight of the little things that matter so much for you! I told my h the day after one of my more brutal cussing out nights to file for divorce I was tired of trying when he wasn't working as hard as I was to move forward. I'm the one that has more education in psychology due in part to my child development degree and my experience as a social worker. I'm also the one out here trying to become more educated in the area I'm not so sure about...his ability to lie and compartmentalize us as well as carry on a separate life with her! So confusing for me! I'm not sure what direction you need to get you to the best place in your life but I do know you will figure that out based on his continued effort or lack there of! God, I admire your strength of character! Even in your weakest moments you continue to be the strongest person in the relationship you describe! I'm pulling for you to remain strong and focused on finding your path! I'm still finding my path and still having to teach my h what I need and expect not just once in awhile but each and every day! Hugs!

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    2. Oh goodness Melissa, this sounds so much like us! I just responded to another comment of yours and now seeing this..I feel like someone gets what I'm going through. My husband has said the same things 'why can't we just be us again', 'why are you thinking about it again/ now', 'it will just take time'. And I am the one seeking counseling for us, planning time together, etc. He does not at all see the severity of what he has caused.
      Hugs, CM

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    3. Melissa
      Your breaking point isn't a "small" one at all. You've been doing pretty much all the heavy lifting in this relationship. You've been giving him every opportunity to step up. He just keeps falling short. And now it sounds as if he's content to let that be your relationship... Why can't we just "be"? Well...that would be lovely except that he dropped a nuclear bomb on your relationship. Just "being" is no longer an option.
      As for his description of your marriage?? Well, it's pretty much the description of every healthy relationship everywhere. Sometimes great, often good and occasionally bad. He should count himself lucky and yet he insists on always doing less than the bare minimum and counting on you to make up the difference.
      Melissa, you have so much heart and so much spirit that you bring to your marriage...and to this site. So MUCH to offer the world. And you're with someone who just doesn't seem to value you the way that any sane person would. I suspect you're right. The pain and emptiness will hit when it's far too late for him.

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    4. Elle you nailed a visual there. If a bomb literally fall on us, we we just "be"? With dirt floors and rubble and fires all around? No! We'd pour a new foundation, put out the fires and rebuild! Honestly. A great visual. (and great advice Melissa)

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  29. I wrote so much on my continued post and think I lost it :(. Will try again later if so.
    Copy before attempting to send with limited coverage!

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    1. Melissa, it sounds like you are truly at a point in this journey where your needs have to become a priority. We all have to learn to "settle", as much as we are taught to hate that word. We are never going to find our perfect and we make concessions in life often without even noticing. But, we all also have our "must haves", things we absolutely need in order to be happy. Many of those things have to come from within, but there are definitely those things that we need from the people we love. We have to make those needs clear, and, unless our needs are diametrically opposed to those of our loved ones, it's reasonable to expect a true effort on their part to meets those needs.

      Your H has historically understood how much words mean to you and had done his best to meet your need for them. That the first birthday and Valentines Day after he's supposed to be recommitting to you and your marriage came and went without him acknowledging this need seems almost cruel. And his assertion that he doesn't understand why you're upset, particularly considering the bomb he dropped in the middle of your marriage, would appear to be disingenuous.

      You are clearly an amazing, extremely intelligent woman, and my guess is that the partner you chose shares that level of intelligence. But it sounds like he's so afraid to dig deep into his psyche, so afraid to truly face himself and the consequences of his actions, that he's willing to sacrifice YOUR happiness in order to remain as deliberately obtuse as possible.

      You have done everything you can to let him know what you're going through and what you need from him in order to heal. This isn't a matter of what he "owes" you or a punishment for his poor behavior, it's about how a loving partner should acknowledge your needs and act accordingly when appropriate.

      It may well be that you will need to walk away from him in order to find your own happiness. But that decision doesn't have to be made one way or the other until you are good and ready. It's only been a year since d-day #1, with stops and starts afterward that had you both reeling. You're still in crisis mode in many ways...which is easy to forget when one of you is handling things with as much grace and compassion as you are. But his unwillingness to crack open his own hard shell and see what truly lurks inside will keep you there. I think he's actually regressing because of this refusal to examine himself...he knows he's completely messed up and without figuring out why, what truly brought him to that place, and how to help you move forward in your healing, he's forced to try to pretend that things will just work out on their own, all the while, knowing deep down inside, that they truly can't.

      I'm also wondering if those mass produced cards gave him one hell of a guilt trip, and so he's avoiding them altogether. I went to choose a V Day card for my husband last week and nearly had to exit the store because of the beautiful words that no longer felt appropriate to my marriage. Seriously, that was a brutal few minutes before I shoved the last one back into its slot and motored away from that aisle as quickly as possible. I went home and told my husband that we would be making our own cards this year. (I wrote a heartfelt bit of prose and found a great vintage card to attach to the front and he made an adorable power point of pics of us over the years...I was hoping for some flowery words as well, but he honestly thought the pp would make me happy so I had to let that slide a little...Mars vs Venus at its worst)

      I wish i had something to offer you that would bring you clarity and comfort...but just please give yourself time to be ready for whatever decision you need to make.

      Could you tell him that you're leaning in this direction? Not to force his hand, but to give him the opportunity to make better choices?

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    2. Good point re. the cards. And excellent points re. everything else!!!

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  30. Melissa - I read your posts every one. It is like you are on a roller coaster from week to week. When he is trying or sweet you are happy and post heart filled encouragement. When he is acting immature and Irresponsible about your feelings then you think about leaving. It is obvious you love this guy with all his faults. My mom told me "If you have to chase a man, then you will always end up chasing him the rest of your life." I avoided men in my dating years I had to chase. My mom was a narristic bitch but at times she was a real mom and I found her words ring true. You need to realize how you have a tender heart and you are and the depth of goodness that is constant. I hear it n every post. He doesn't seem to see your worth. I have said this before then you post something defending him every time. Just stating what I read and I don't know all the facts so I may have it wrong and he is worth defending.

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    1. Lynn less pain
      I read your posts as well as Melissa's and have to say I admire the both of you so much! You both share wisdom and bring clarity to our own story as you each share your own! I agree with you in regard to the immaturity of our men! My h tried desperately in Valentine's Day to be the man of my dreams! In his own sweet way he did but something set a trigger off and I was off on a rant that lasted until midnight leaving both of us exhausted and him leaving on a business trip the next morning. I'm dealing with the aftermath this week and just want you and Melissa to know how your posts are helping me cope with my shortcomings! I'm not the one that pursues ordinarily in our relationship but yeah this experience has made me be a different kind of woman! I find myself constantly pursuing my h in some kind of way the entire day again due to my own insecurities caused by his previous choices! I think you are also correct about the tender heart and I have one but every now and then I rage with a very cold heart! Like you my mother was a very bitter cruel women and still is and very narcissistic! Thanks for both of you bringing me back from a very scary place! Hugs!

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  31. OMG Dana, Theresa and Lynn - I just wrote a fairly long response and accidentally hit "sign out." Argh!!!
    It is after 2 am and I have a client early am - I will write again another time.
    I will say thank you, thank you, thank you!! Love you ladies.

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  32. Some words of encouragement about Valentines Day. I ask my H did he ever do anything for the the OW on Valentine's Day. He said you ask me that before, no. I said why? He said because some other guy sent her flowers.

    I'm 26 months out, he is still doing everything he can to help me. Although I'm still in anti-versary mode, here is what the card he gave me said. This is for encouragement not comparisons. You are the only one who can figure this out, your clarity will come. "it's an uncertain world that we live in where so much keeps changing so fast. And things that we thought we could count on too soon become things of the past. So with all my heart I feel grateful for the one precious part of my life that is there for me, always, no question- my wonderful, beautiful wife. What better day than today to tell you how much I appreciate the understanding and support you always give, the way you put up with my faults and still love me in spite of them. I'm a very lucky man to be your husband." Stay long enough until what YOU want is crystal clear. Either he is going to "get with it" and get it done up to YOUR expectations or he is not. I love Dana's thought about must haves. Must haves are expectations. This is real communication. I'm going to write down my must haves. I'm going to ask my husband to write down his and share it at our weekly check in meeting. Beautiful Dana. Just in case your wondering, yes. I still want to burn the OW at the stake. I'm looking for wood now.

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    1. Looking for wood! Perhaps we should use our husband's skulls!!

      Delete
  33. My husband and I had a conversation last week with regards to the affair/OW. LOL yes he went into the old defensive mode. I laughed and said "look, don't take it so personally!!" I explained I was just asking a question and that it was NOT life or death or a deal breaker if I didn't hear the "right" answer from him. I just wanted him to know I still had some questions. I also told him he was lucky I didn't have more questions of the very base kind. He laughed and told me he was grateful for that and for my information the sex WASN'T great at all. Actually was pretty forgettable and that sex with me was and is much more gratifying. That he volunteered.

    So keep forging ahead with the questions regardless of anything he says or the guards he puts up. I do think it helps if you ask those questions with a little compassion and if you are at that point yet with a little sense of humor. I think I put him at ease when I asked him not to take my questions so personally. I don't know it worked for me, maybe it will work for you. What do you have to lose by letting your guard down a little?

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    1. TH,
      That's interesting. I'm glad he was able to let his defences down and just answer candidly. The only way any marriage can be rebuilt is for each partner to let their guard down. Not easy...but necessary.

      Delete
  34. "the plain of lethal flatness" I've never heard of that term before now. I figured I've taken on the attitude of President Obama. I do not have one more fuck to give!

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  35. Boundaries ... a daily decision to try and remain realistic in tact not fearful or anxious in control but in fully understanding control is not once what we thought it to be but something very different where we set expectation for ourselves and others but allow reasonable leniency for swaying as needed at times and to know wholeheartedly that boundaries are not for others to uphold or surpass or break for us but for us to learn to maintain within ourself where then hopfully the outer will prevail and fall into place. I wonder if im even making sense on paper but something is certianly washing over me these days many hills valley and rollercoaster emotional status at times .. i recently came across a quote one i shared with my husband that said sometimes two people have to fall apart just to realize how much they need to fall back together. Weve been at rick bottom. .. nowhere to go but up right ladies.

    My h out of blue was approached with a job offer ... he would have taken in a heatbeat prior to dday ... pondering and in this i see that hed be willing to not take it if it meant id be worried all the time or doing more again as mothers often do or perhaps its a little on him feeling so lucky to not have lost us and being full engaged again ... just to be gone mire again but productively and with due cause not for ow fantasyland bullshit. Sure apart of me wants to have him stay put closer to home where he is but the other part thinks a change maybe good for him and just the fact hes considering my input that effects his life speaks volumes. Weather hes 5 miles away or 50 ... i dont think that really makes a different to cheat or not or am i being naive. ... 2016 i see as our year of transformation change different so ... im considering to sit with the uneasiness of him taking this new venture and in time hope that eases some as he continues to show me and us work to our new normal ... not in stone just yet but considering saying im ok with this new position and not only mean it but support it without letting fear creep in ....TGIF warriors as always so much going on ... whirlwind status crazy still but better than shitstorm status of initial dday a work in progress. Attitude in ourselves can definitely make some difference i was in a funk last couple weeks but in trying to be cup half full marginally it is improving again each day.

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    1. Wounded
      You are so right that it doesn't matter if he works right down the road or 50 miles away! My h managed his affair with both of those distances! I'm with you the boundaries I'm placing on myself are more important than the boundaries I gave him! My biggest trial at the moment is my boundary for me not to fall back to that crazy woman who screamed hateful words just because my feelings get hurt! I'm learning I'm still very vulnerable to his insensitive behavior at times and usually he hasn't a clue what sets it in motion. I'm trying so hard to be the kind me that was before the affair created the monster that hides inside my hurt! Just like you I'm making progress but God it's such a slow process! I'm very grateful for what I've learned here! My h and I have two quotes we use daily!
      A perfect marriage is two imperfect person who refuse to give up on each other!
      The best is yet to come!
      We're getting stronger but inches on some days! Hugs!

      Delete
    2. Wounded and Theresa,
      That's so key with this -- realizing that, ultimately, your husband is going to have to continue to make positive choices for the family. And that we can never control those choices, only our own. And that will be enough.

      Delete
  36. Tyler knott gregson
    I would rather wear honest tears than the most beautiful and elaborately faked smile.

    ELLE and Warriors i might be in a different phase now though i know how one can slip back .... not as numb as before not healed but starting to do more rhan just function .... feeling. Processing and trying each day ... one day at a time. Lifes not perfect is it ever but its mine and niw i see the difference ill take authentic over perfection any day.

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    1. Yep. The older I get, the clearer it becomes that "perfection" doesn't exist. I don't know a soul, no matter how "perfect" their life seems, that isn't waging some battle on some front at some point in time.

      Delete
  37. I'm hurting tonight so bad. I cannot pretend to be his affair partner, his everything his god damn nothing that is what I am,. This is never going to end is it? Let's fool ourselves. Yes let's talk about boundaries, yes, let's talk about the OW, yes let's talk about PTSD, yes let's talk about triggers what else is on our plates? Low self esteem not being good enough. Don't forget I'm terrible in bed. Throw in a little strength like like a salt and pepper that makes very thing taste better. Let's see he gave her all his private thoughts so what does that make me, stupid pretty much describes it well. I hate this situation. Is there no peace? Is there no justice? There is absolutely nothing that can make this better unless he drops over dead. That's it. Am I pretending? Acting? Am I in the land of make believe? I want out of this well. I wanted to god damn breath fresh air not stale air that smells like an infected pussy. I want to look up at the blue sky and not see rain. I want peace in my heart not this constant turmoil of enough, too much, pretty enough, said too much, press too hard, don't ask too much, wonder. What happen to my dreams? What happened to what I want? What happened to good old fashion only fuck your wife? Where will it end? This is torture like bending back your finger nails. Now that hurts. I'm at a loss. The train has left the station. It just ran over me first. I hate this life. I'm so low, I wouldn't wish this life on the OW.

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    1. Oh Lynn, I'm so sorry for the pain you're in. I remember that horrible feeling of just believing that there was absolutely no way out of it. I'm not sure what the answer is but I'll tell you what worked for me. Time. A lot of time. And...distracting myself. When I would go down that deep dark rabbit hole of doubt and anger and fear, I would (after sobbing and screaming and wondering if I should check myself into the psych ward) try and find something to focus on. A book. Some music. A recipe. Anything to pull myself out of my own head and back into the world of the living. Even just focussing on breathing -- in and out, in and out -- until the wave of agony began to recede. This is NOT the rest of your life. It's right now. And yes, it's hell right now. But it won't stay that way.

      Delete
    2. Lynn, it is so painful, so incredibly painful. I went around for months feeling like there was s ball of fire in my stomach. Pain in every situation, pain everywhere I turned, and always having to hide it. Screaming, crying hysterically in the bathroom floor. I've also spent a great part of my life, as I dealt with depression, putting myself down. Stupid, ugly, lazy, worthless - I had the negative self-talk down to a science. DON'T, Lynn. Just don't. You are your own worst enemy if you aren't careful. Don't rip yourself to shreds with words. Be dark, be sad, be furious, be full of grief for what you've lost - but don't turn that knife inward on yourself. Don't give the bastards the satisfaction. You are worth more. You are better than they are, even if they're too stupid to figure it out.
      Elle is right. Time will dull the pain. Ride it out. Music, journals, crying, someone to talk to, and distracting myself did help. Sleep. I slept a lot. I worked my way through a book series and watched way too much of my favorite crime tv show.
      Ride it out, honey. I hurt for you.

      Delete
    3. Lynn pain
      I so feel the pain you feel! The hurt I felt sometimes I just wanted my h to feel the same pain! I came to understand he had pain as well but he felt it differently and is able to get through his pain faster than I am ever able to! I had to feel it over and over again until I finally let go of it and believe me I'm still finding somethings that cause me pain that don't have anything to do with the affair but rather finding things about my h that before the affair I was aware of but they didn't cause me pain! I'm still fragile at times and my h says he has been walking on eggshells to keep from causing triggers! We make forward progress but slip back into the old way of dealing with the everyday stress. Which for us includes avoidance of any confrontation! Not healthy way to communicate but we are aware of what that can cause for my healing! I'm thinking of you and what I know is you will get past the pain even though it feels like forever getting to the place past the heart crushing stage! Hugs!

      Delete
  38. Lynn pain I feel and hear your pain. It sounds like your in a difficult exhausting place right now. Has something triggered the way your feeling. Is your husband helping you heal in every way he can? Are you in counselling? It sounds like you need some help some support. You have come to the right place but is there a close friend/ family member you can talk to. A problem shared is a problem halved. Getting things out of your head and putting it down on paper can help but that can be an effort too. Lynn how long have you been feeling like this? I know this will pass believe me it does you will get to the next stage of emotion in time and that's all it is time. Give yourself the space to feel, hate, vent. Rage whatever you need to do get it all out. Please keep in touch and let us know how you get on. My heart is hurting for you right now my love xx

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  39. Lynn
    I hear what you're saying. I know it seems as though we are spinning around the real issues. And maybe we are. But truly doing what Elle suggests i.e. Setting boundaries for ourselves is what empowers us when we feel we have lost control. But I hear you

    I'm sorry you're suffering so. Yes sometimes the pain is more than we can bear. I hope you aren't doing it alone. I hope you have a therapist you can rely on.

    I don't feel 100% comfortable even broad get this but here goes. If you are so miserable have you thought about leaving and divorcing him. It almost sounds as if your husband is your trigger? Maybe you've given your marriage the best shot you can give? Maybe it's time to move on without him? Divorce is ok. If you feel you've tried, he's tried and you are miserable maybe you will find peace and happiness without him? Only you know the answer. But you can't go on in such misery. People say life is short. Life is not short, it's long and being miserable the whole long life is insanity. I think you should start considering going on your own away from your h. Maybe just start making plans. Look at apartments/house that would be your home. Consider employment. Just saying, make plans for your life that revolves around you, not your husband.

    Hugs to you Lynn. I hope you find peace

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  40. Thank you all so much for caring. I'm 27 months out. My H has changed tremendously. This is so embarrassing but I had an outbreak of Herpes. Talk about a trigger! I was in therapy for 2 years but going back this week. My H feels terrible and guilty. He has been super wonderful. I can't stand it. Everytime I take the anti I virus pill I think of them in bed. When my vagina oozes I think of her oozing down my leg. It is the most awful thing. I'm a nurse to beat it all. I'm not stressed he has been great it just comes on you. I'm under a docs care. The first day I didn't get out of the chair, it hurts. Day 2 I planted 5 fruit trees, 4 grape vines and 3 bushes. Day 3 I numbed my self all day with Meds. Day 4 I'm fertilizing the lawn with a spreader out in the rain. Ok it is raining and I'm out there like a crazy person. This makes me sick. I feel dirty, infected and shamed. I would work outside to get away from my mom so I put it into high gear. I can't quit crying. I'm journaling foul violent stuff. It doesn't do any good to beat him up. How many hurtles do we have to jump to get it right? I feel like I'm have taken twenty paces backward. We are not having sex until I complete this round of drugs. I think I'm losing my mind.

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    1. Lynn less pain
      I can't imagine the pain you are feeling with this outbreak of a very serious painful infection! I feel your emotional pain and understand your need to find wood to burn the ow! I'm not sure if your h has had his own outbreak or if he just passed it on to you! I'm so sorry this has happened to you! Being a nurse could not have prevented year exposure as you thought you were in a clean marriage! I'm hoping your meds work fast and the pain subsides! I'm outside looking for you some wood! Hugs for your new pain!

      Delete
    2. Oh Lynn... I'm in exactly the same situation. As soon as I found out about the sex I insisted we went to the std clinic to be tested... All was well, then a few weeks later, the sores, the pain, the total embarassment of having my Dr tell me he thought it looked like herpes. Then off to the nurse for a swab. The medication kicked in eventually but it has been the very hardest thing for me... And one of the worst things is that I feel like he's removed any options for me...i can't go merrily off into a single future because now I'm tainted, can't fall into bed with a new partner without full disclosure. Ironically I have only had three sexual partners my whole life, was married to two of them and cheated on by both husbands!!! By the way we are still together and in a lot of ways our marriage is better than it ever has been and I'm confident (ish) about our future together. Just to let you know you're not the only one... Sending out some love from England xxx p.s. Here we aren't given the daily antivirals, just told to ring in for a prescription if we have a flair up, haven't had another attack since the first about 6 months ago. Xxxxx

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    3. Dear Lynn--I am sitting in my barn right now, just having completed chores which to me is a great metaphor for life after betrayal--the shit just keeps piling up. I have thought about your words almost constantly since reading your post. I hate that this is your experience, I hate that you are in distress and I'm sorry for your pain. Recently my therapist tried to "remind" me about the powerful parts of me that this has apparently awakened (I chuckle darkly on the inside thinking ya right--I've started smoking, spent thousands of dollars on new clothes trying desperately to out do the phantom one night stand I have never laid eyes on...if powerful is the equivalent of an insanity tornado then yes I'm powerful). I understand how difficult it can be to discuss all of the consequences of betrayal and how we must grow and adapt. One of my responses to being completely disprespected is that the man in my life will never be referred to as h, H or husband in past or present tense unless I agree to a vow renewal. He traded my dignity, self worth and his wedding vows for a drunk night of "fun" Their choices put us on examining room tables, meds, destructive paths and all because they needed to fill holes (lots of metaphors in betrayal land). The man in my life fucked a stranger on my birthday--the message seems pretty clear right ? Yet here I am--here you are trying to be bigger and brighter. Trying to ride out a thing that feels like hell. On occasion the only place I feel safe is to disappear (netflix, dvds, shit mystery novels) and if I need it, I do it. 11 months out and I lie in bed next to him thinking about my journal--well actually just the pen and how if I stabbed him with it I could dispose of him and the mattress by morning, but shit then I realize the good sheets are on the bed...maybe poison...I want to punch the OW in the face and tell her she messed with the wrong chick. Most of all I want to un-know this terrible truth that, when given a choice, he didn't choose me. It hurts more than any of us probably ever imagined (and I being a nastier person would wish the pain on the OW). I will happily lend you any strength I have--we all will. In darkness imagine your psychic army of BWC surrounding you like a shield or emotional buoy--whatever you need in the moment. I know "it will pass" but sometimes that feels empty. Sometimes I simply needed to know I was right--this is bullshit, cruel and unfair. I truly do pray for each one of us that positive things will come to light after betrayal. For those of us who were charred in childhood by ill equipped parents (or simply cruel asshole parents), I hope we can begin to see ourselves in a new light IN SPITE of the darkness we were drenched in. I don't want you to be victimized by your life Lynn I want you to connect with your deepest truth--you have value. Miraculous, real, disturbing, magical, beautiful value and it won't be found in contrasting yourself with the OW or by measuring yourself with the yardstick of his choices...it will come as you fertilize in the rain, plant bushes or while sitting completely idle. You aren't losing your mind you are finding your inner hero. Much respect Shawn

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    4. Oh Lynn,
      That's a HUGE trigger, for sure. No wonder you're turning to all your old survival strategies. There's just no way out of such a shitty consequence because of HIS choice. But maybe there's where you achieve some sort of radical acceptance. This is now part of your life. It's not fair, it absolutely sucks and it reflects such an incredibly messed up sense of right and wrong...but there's no changing it. And I suspect, for your own sanity and peace of mind, you're going to have to come to grips with that. Like a death. Grieve it. Give yourself lots to time. But, ultimately Lynn, there's no unringing that bell. I hope I don't sound unempathetic. I'm outraged that you have to deal with this. But none of our outrage changes anything except our ability to get to some future point where this no longer controls how your day goes. Shawn is right. "It will pass" can feel like yet another empty platitude. But there's truth in it. You've been handed too much pain in your life...but from what you write on this site, it is leaving beautiful writing on the walls of your own heart. You are dipping into your own incredibly deep well of compassion for others. Be compassionate with yourself as you work through this most recent heartbreak.

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    5. Well, Lynn, as you can see, you have a lot of people on your side!
      No wonder, no fucking wonder you are feeling dark. We all carry emotional and mental scars, but yours are physical as well. And in addition to invading your life and your mind, it must feel as if this OW has invaded your body. Damn.
      You are NOT dirty or unclean. You are sick. It feels shameful, but it is not your shame. You are a good and beautiful person, bearing the consequences of someone else's sin. It is outrageous and ridiculously unfair, but it doesn't change who you are. You are fine lovely and clean.
      I am in awe that you use your frustration and anger to create beautiful new things. What an amazing person you are.

      Delete
  41. Hi all, this is Melissa - Lynn, I wrote to you and lost it as I've lost my Google account-
    :-(. Please know that I am thinking of you and will write again - hugs to you Love.

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  42. Lynn....we are all riding the wild donkey of betrayal.

    It sucks, but if you're feeling pain. Well, you're feeling something at least.

    Hang in there. I'm still in the early stages where I can count in weeks from dday...so what do I know?

    I know that I will survive, that I have to because I have babies and people and things that depend on me. So I will play disco music loudly and I will work so hard to get out of the pit.

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  43. I get a newsletter from a psychiatrist. This article talks about why our loved ones don't go to therapy. Here's a link if anyone is interested. therapy.https://drgeraldstein.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/why-loved-ones-refuse-therapy-and-what-to-do-about-it/

    However, and most importantly was the last paragraph in the article. I think this is so important for we betrayed spouses to hold onto. I know it is for me. Hope you enjoy.

    "The most important opportunities in life sometimes have been there all along. We wait for the other to wake up while what is changeable in ourselves awaits its own awakening. Imagine standing at a crossroads: one path leads to a darkling state of perpetual hope or desperate preoccupation with a person you can’t control. You pass the time alternately gnashing your teeth or imagining what life might be like if only he changes. The other road directs you to a house of natural light and mirrors revealing all sides of the one human you do control. This workshop evokes the hard work of the master sculptor in everyone, the painstaking job of reshaping our basic stuff."

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  44. Lynn

    And everyone here I'm sending big hugs and whispering prayers for some peace...some rest from all this seemingly endless..... pain. We are branded - marked by a tattoo - forever - by our partners actions but can still stand proudly, and fiercely in the rubble.

    Love to all
    v

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  45. Lynn
    Gee Whiz!! I had no idea you had contracted Herpes as a result of his affair. I am so sorry. Yeah that would def be a huge trigger. I don't know that had I contracted, and by the Grace of GOD I didn't, an STD I too would smash his face. Heck, I want to smash his face for you!!!

    This has to be one of the worst blows. I can't even imagine holding it together with this constant reminder. So yes you have every right to feel what you are feeling. I would too.

    I am so so sorry you are going through this misery. I get to experience a little of this as every other year when I go to my yearly female visit I get to get retested for STD's. It's freaking humiliating just doing that. Such creeps and yet here we are :/

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  46. Lynn, this is Melissa. I have genital herpes. I contracted it from my affair partner whom I left my first husband for. This was back in 1991 when I was 30 years old. So, when I met and started dating my current husband, I had to tell him of my condition. We have been having sex for 22 years and my current husband has never contracted genital herpes. He has oral herpes and has had it since he was a boy. And I have never had oral herpes. As you probably know, the herpes virus follows your dermatomes. I have it in two locations. As is typical, the outbreaks are less severe and less often as time goes on. My outbreaks are certainly brought on by increased stress in my life. If your doctor has not yet told you. at the slightest feeling start taking the medication, or, sometimes, I would take the medication prophylactically. I recognize that you contracted herpes through your husband's affair. For that I am sincerely sorry. For the herpes… I will tell you, truly, it has become a non-issue in my life. If you have any questions at all regarding your herpes, I am more than happy to offer any insight and support that I may. Hugs my Dear!

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  47. Hi all - it's Melissa. I wrote a response to Lynn last night and it didn't post ... again. I lost my sign in and can't seem to fix :-(
    Hugs all!

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