Monday, April 18, 2016

"The wisdom, the roadmap, the hope"

A while back, Snowbird shared her story on the Feeling Stuck Part 14 forum (so many incredible women on this site). And she also shared this:

To those dealing with repeat offenders, I told H this: If you can't control your behavior, we might be friends but we won't be married. Therapy, medication and meetings were game-changers for him. 16 months and counting.
Hang in there, warriors. Before this site, I thought it was kick him to the curb or be a doormat. You’ve taught me that I can stay if the conditions are right. Thank you for the wisdom, the roadmap, the hope. 

When I read about healing on this site, there's often one common thread. Those who've managed to rebuild their marriages haven't done it through wishful thinking. They've drawn clear lines, they've made demands, they've insisted upon accountability. They've understood that giving someone a second chance is a gift. And that they get to decide whether their partners deserve that second chance. They've looked with critical eyes at what, exactly, their partner is doing to create the conditions for reconciliation. 

It looks almost easy from the outside, doesn't it? It looks like some people simply know the rules better than the rest of us. That they have access to a post-betrayal roadmap that the rest of us don't have. 

And maybe they do. Maybe that post-betrayal roadmap is something they've had all along. I suspect it is. Not something they can hold onto but something they just know: That they are worthy of respect and dignity and honesty. And it's from that place of knowingness, that place of valuing themselves that they are able to respond to their partner's betrayal. 

They may have moments of doubt. They might wonder fleetingly what's wrong with them that their partner cheated. They may slip into self-blame. But they manage to pull themselves away from that and remember: They are worthy. They are and have always been enough and if their partners can't remember that too then there's the door.

Try and imagine yourself responding from that place. Pretend you're that person. How would you respond differently? Would you be able to calmly make demands? Would you be able to make it clear that you have rules for reconciliation that he can either follow or leave? Would you be able to better feel the pain and the fear without losing yourself in it?

What I'm suggesting is so incredibly difficult for so many of us. But that difficulty comes from who we believe ourselves to be in the world. It comes from valuing the love of someone else over the love of ourselves...and that will always create a power imbalance in a marriage. It comes from fear that, if we don't make it "easy" to love us, then we won't be loved.

Snowbird refers to "repeat" offenders but I think her advice holds for all offenders. If you are asking me for a second chance, then here's the deal... And then lay it out. It's not about punishment. The idea isn't to create all sorts of conditions to punish him. It's to create a safe space in which you can rebuild trust, rebuild a marriage based on honesty. It's about loving yourself at least as much as you love the other person. 

It's about healing yourself through dignity and self-respect. No matter the outcome of your marriage, you will be loved if you're able to love yourself. 


43 comments:

  1. Elle, you write so beautifully ... in truth.
    When my husband told me of his affair, as you all know too well, the devastation is indescribable. With that, I screamed at him to leave the house and within perhaps 2 minutes I was crying hysterically, covering my naked body with a pillow (after 20 years together I felt so bare and vulnerable- surely he could not see me naked) and asking him, "what now?" He responded, "that's up to you." I knew nothing about affairs. Nothing except I would kick him out if he ever did that to me. That was an absolute, right? Right?
    Apparently not. You all get this: I. Could. Not. Think. I didn't know who he was. I didn't know who I was. The world I knew more than didn't exist, it felt as if it never existed. I knew nothing of boundaries, or all the other words and knowledge I would come to learn: affair fog, trickle truth, OW, WS, DDay, hysterical bonding, transparency, gas lighting (thank God I did not have that), all the websites, the books, the authors, the experts, this blog for God's sake - I knew NOTHING. Nothing except I was going to kick him out - and I didn't. And in my utter loss I asked him, "what do we do now?"
    The only two "ultimatums" I somehow mustered was "no contact" and "marriage counseling." He agreed to both immediately. And so our journey began. Down the road, he stumbled, he contacted her; he told me, albeit after the fact ... the marriage counseling, yes, from one to another over the course of about 9 months ... and then none - I didn't say how long did I? What then? The point I'm trying to get at - in the beginning we do not know what our boundaries are. Hell, we do not know who we are. We don't even know what the word "boundaries"means. Or should I say, some of us don't know. It is an ongoing process of exploration and love. As you have so eloquently pointed out here, Elle, it is most important that you love yourself. From that love you will determine what you need to move forward in life as a betrayed spouse. I know that I still struggle with deciding exactly what it is that I need from him to heal. And yes, I recognize that I try to balance what he can give me with what I want. It is rather like this… I cannot ask someone with a lower IQ to perform an intellectual task which is beyond them. Just as I struggle with asking my husband who has a lower EQ to perform emotional tasks which are beyond him. So as my IC told me years ago, even before the knowledge of the affair, I must determine if I am willing to be the emotionally stronger person in my marriage. And what that means. It is an ongoing struggle for me. Yet, at this point in time, I choose to be understanding and accepting, as long as I always have the freedom to enjoy life as I wish. Once again Elle, thank you for this lovely post. It certainly will be one that I reread. Love and light ladies.

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    1. Melissa, regarding "lower EQ" and willingness "to be the emotionally stronger person" -- very interesting angle for me to view our marriage as we still, five years on, struggle. Thanks for providing this viewpoint.

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  2. I enjoyed this post. One thing I have repeated to my husband especially in the beginning is that I need to work through this with him whether we stay together or not. I needed answers and to heal. I had no idea what it looked like. I was lost and confused and foolishly trusted him since his career is in the mental health field. I realized after about 5-6 months that it was a mistake. But I also think maybe I was just surviving. Like they say the one that hurts you has to help heal you with an affair. I agree with this completely. Now just past a year I feel stronger than ever. I still have weak moments but I know who I am and that these were not my choices. Now I see with clarity that it is now his work to be done regarding himself. A lot of it comes with me pointing this out to him. It can get rough. He comes into this with a lot of professional knowledge but not much self awareness. But I am sticking with it. Things are evolving. And what hit me yesterday is it will always evolve. No relationship is static, perfect, never changing. I feel like it is when my kids were babies. Right when we would get in a grove with sleeping, eating whatever they would mix it up. All good but ever changing. I feel like this is how my marriage is. Not sure if this is good but how I am feeling now. We are closer than we have ever been and have talked about our deepest thoughts and emotions. Here is to ever changing life. Maybe I am finally growing up and realizing I cannot control every situation. All very interesting.

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  3. Fragments of HopeApril 19, 2016 at 4:36 AM

    Melissa and Hopeful, your comments have really highlighted that the task of setting boundaries and healing can be sometimes muddier and not as clearcut as we'd like. I liked your comment Melissa about what you can ask of someone with a challenged EQ, I know my husband struggles with self-awareness, self-expression and freezes when emotional support is required (he shows his care more practically and physically, hugs etc.) One thing I've really struggled with and has brought be to the edge of wanting to walk away is where I've set rules around keeping in touch when he's at work (he recently moved to a job further away) or at least letting me know when he will return and also surrounding nights out. It was something we agreed on and on the couple of occasions where he went on a long works night out he completely slipped up, lost track of the time and in one case, could not get a taxi so was out till 3am without any contact. His apologies the next day were not at all adequate. We have a (touchy) history of him having to work long hours or having a sudden work crisis or having to work from home or not getting home in a timely way for work events so it's a trigger area. However he feels he's really making an effort. He tells me how he feels he is always 'running' to get the train, to make sure he gets back. He feels hopeless that I'm seeing only where he falls down and not what he's doing. (although sometimes he doesn't communicate what he's doing and wants me to know by magic). Family stresses and depression (BUT also going through the trigger months and him failing to give emotional support) mean that I've been quite detached and cold to him these last months. What I'm saying (very longwindedly) is that it becomes confusing as to what I can legitimately make a sticking point and hold onto and whether I'm damaging our relationship by giving him a hard time. I'm not going to walk away from family life with him and four children over him failing to ring before before his phone died on a night out but I need to feel considered, important and remembered (esp since there was a D-day two (emotional affair). When am I being unreasonable and stuck in the old mode, when do I have a legitimate point. And if I don't let him see that I'm willing to appreciate his efforts and if we talk about nothing but bad stuff then our relationship can't repair. Endless dilemma.

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    1. Fragments,

      This is one of our biggest issues and has been since dday 1 which was March 13, 2015. I have thought a lot about this and we are still working through this. We have been married 20+ years and the affairs started at 10 years. Both affairs were sporadic so in a way I can see why it was easy to not notice, which makes me nervous. Can it happen again and I do not notice? He says no but that is another post.

      So for going out this had been a sticking point. I would say pre dday he would go out 1-2 times a month maybe more during golf season or big sports times march madness. So when this all went down we were trying to work out how can this work for both of us. I know we cannot be together 24/7. But I have some concerns about friends and how they live their lives and decisions. No ideas about affairs but drinking, caring about their families, etc. and he says they have no idea about his affairs but I don't agree. If my friend was flirting enough and giving their number to guys enough to end up in a hotel room with them I would have red flags and be dragging them away.

      So my main requirement when going out is I need to know who, where and when. Also I need to know his intentions like if he plans to come home at 9 whatever just really to have him think and give me an idea. If anything changes he needs to ideally call me. Texting can so easily be misread and misunderstood. If they change bars, who they are with etc, I need to know. Well this proved to be a challenge. He says because he is doing nothing wrong he will forget to let me know about the decided reasons he needs to call. He has said from the beginning he will always act as if I am with him. Well I had a huge issue with this. For me I say how can I trust you at all when you cannot follow through on what I feel is the most simple task. My kids can do this without issue all the time. My therapist is still trying to figure out why he feels he can cut corners. He said many men avoid contact since they feel their wives are controlling, and that is not our case. I have been thinking about it a lot and honestly I think he has been doing it one way for so long and it is like breaking a bad habit. I feel like it is so simple but it is not for him. It is not an excuse but I continue to tell him how important this is for building trust. I also question if in the moment this is a reflection on his judgement, does he escape, get caught up in the fun. All of which seem like ways that make affairs possible.

      So we have been dealing with this for a year now. Just this past weekend he got it. We talked about what he wanted to do and his plans. He contacted me afterwards and was totally upfront. It is a big deal for us. So I have hope but I am not going to back down on this. I have said no matter how "good" he thinks he is behaving I have no idea when I am not with him. And yes I have no ultimate control over his decisions and actions but if he wants to have a shot at this marriage then I need these things from him. These are not over the top, too controlling or unreasonable.

      One other thing that is hitting me is that I think he is in some ways struggling with his life changing. He is happier than ever and we are in an amazing place. Yet everything else as he knew it has changed. Things are different with his friends, he turns them down all the time by his own choice. When he does go out he comes home early. And how he sees his friends is different too. No more boys will be boys attitude. I see this starting to affect him. What does he do when he has been friends with these people for 30+ years? I think this at least for my husband affects his going out attitude. And he says it is not fun anymore. He wants to be with me and us having fun where during the affair years he only had fun when he was away and escaped since I recreated guilt and everything bad to him.

      Good luck with working it out. It is simple in some ways and complicated and ever changing. But for me I have decided which items are non negotiable.

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    2. Fragments of HopeApril 20, 2016 at 2:38 AM

      Hopeful thanks for talking this through. As some of the other ladies on this and the stuck section have said, at first we are so confused we don't know enough about boundaries etc to set out clear guidelines, we are in shock. My husband too is upset when he, in his own mind is being 'good' but i can't see it. But if he doesn't communicate it, then that falls on his shoulders. We have a stressful home life with an Asperger teenager (out of school over a year & quite volatile/hostile)(and 3 younger kids, just busy). I can see why my husband wants to go out once in a while and just switch off but he had a lot of leeway before, was poor at letting me know even pre affair about delays etc. Now I see it that the circumstances require he keeps me in the loop. He doesn't go out much, he has refused invitations in the past, he says in order to support me and be there (but he also had a self-destructive element of playing the martyr, sabotaging his own birthday plans etc.) However on the few occasions he's been out he got carried away (he blamed drinking and said he should not do it) and did not let me know what was happening, even when it got past 2am. So I set down a guideline, he breaks it and then what? No definitive consequence, just me getting annoyed (and internally saying to myself if this kind of thing continues I'll leave when the kids are grown.)But then he's great in so many other ways. As you'll all know, you just feel do you really know the person after an affair and you see their actions in a different light. My husband has a mixture of low self-esteem with egotism (mellowed now, but he would always argue over me and assume he was right, youthful arrogance? I've known him since he was 20). He still is highly defensive as a default position. I think I will have to just chill a bit and watch how things pan out in the next year. If he engages with me on important parameters we can be in this together, if he stays defensive and making excuses I will keep roaming the perimeter walls like a sentry instead of a romantic partner.

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    3. I think it's important to realize that boundaries are to keep YOU safe, not punish your husband. So it's important to acknowledge that you can never ever control another person. You can state your boundaries...and then it's up to him to either respect them or violate them. If he consistently violates them, then he's telling you very clearly (and somewhat passive-aggressively) that he doesn't respect them. That's where you figure out what the consequences are. At this point, the consequences might simply be acknowledging your feelings about the violation. Not in a screamy way but in a "when you're late coming home, it makes me feel disrespected/unvalued/dismissed/invisible/etc. I wanted you to know that." And then...not another word. Until next time. "When you didn't call me to tell me you would be late for dinner, I felt unvalued blah blah blah. I just wanted you to know that." And then...not another word. If he comes back with a hundred excuses and defences and blaming and all the usual counter-moves, you just shrug and say, again, "I just wanted you to know how it makes me feel." Then you don't get locked into the usual struggle whereby he makes you seem controlling and unreasonable and you feel angry and dismissed and round and round you go. At some point, he'll either change his behaviour because he KNOWS he's going to hear how hurtful his actions are...or he'll continue. But YOU have made your boundaries clear and YOU get to decide where you go from there. It's when we're using boundaries to try and control another that we get into trouble. We're not their sentry, we're their partner. And we're asking them to treat us with the respect of a partner.

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    4. Fragments of hope
      I know exactly how you feel about the lack of communication and working late without notifying it's a possibility! In the early months, I would trigger without knowing that was the trigger but then I finally made it clear to my h that because I knew he had met her at lunches and after work on several occasions, my mind would just jump to he's back to lies and contact with her again. It wasn't true but that's how my mind would just jump to conclusions based on the lies and half truths shared by his ow. My h has had to really work hard because I was finally able to get him to understand how unnerving it was for me when I didn't know what time to expect him and I just think it's being considerate to let me know when he's leaving work. He's forgotten a few times but not very many. He also has had to give up his favorite pastime of volleyball as he met her playing that and I'm just now getting to the point of typing the word without a trigger happening. That's been a big trigger from the first day she texted me the truth in her opinion of their affair. So for me, seeing my h put that much effort into what I need was a good beginning for our healing to really get going. I'm like you in that I don't want our only conversation to revolve around only the bad depressing stuff unless it's something that is really bothering me and then I find myself saying the good the bad and the ugly! I just have to get it out of my brain that way!

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    5. Fragments of HopeApril 21, 2016 at 1:43 AM

      Yes Theresa, I have to get it out of my brain but my h can't deal with the onslaught (well, who could?) Where or not it has any logical basis, it's really important (and it was in a book by Steven Stosney (Living and Loving After Betrayal) that what really helps heal is if the CS makes reparations that link specifically with what triggers us. So your rules around work delays make sense when he was meeting her around work. My h met the OW for coffee at lunchtimes many times and once arranged a special early dinner after work and then came home. I didn't even notice. I would have had his dinner waiting, perhaps he said he had a big lunch and was late out from work. Lies drip off the tongue so easily. Now my husband has started a new job with longer commute in an area with many restaurants etc. I needed him to let me know his comings and goings to help me feel relaxed about this new situation. He has not done a brilliant job of changing his poor communication habits. Elle, thanks for your terrific feedback. I really like that short and clear sentence that can be used to state my stance. I suppose I've being panicking about his thoughtlessness and lack of self-awareness and what this means for the future. I've said to my husband that I'm asking for these communications for both of us, to give our relationship the best chance, to take the worry out of it, so that I can focus on our good times together. He wants to do it the other way around and have the good times cancel out the past, I can see where he is coming from but I told him I need a stable foundation to stand on before I can relax into things.

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    6. In response to Elle's response- we recently had a challenge to the boundaries that were set early on after discovery. I periodically check my husband's search history and hadn't done so in many months, but one night while I was retrieving a tax document from his laptop, I decided to check and since I didn't want to check all the months I picked one from a few months ago. Found the usual stuff, and then....there it was. He had clicked on a shared folder and two documents in that folder. I froze. When he got home, I asked him to explain why he went to this shared folder. Long story short, when he finally came clean (took him a day), I restated the no contact boundary and asked him why he did this. "Stupid curiosity." For whatever reason, he wanted to see if she had changed her password..wth??? I was more upset about the day-long lie (I don't remember doing that- yeah, right.) I get a slip-up, but I suppose I expected it earlier than 2 years out. But the lie....I finally said, how is this supposed to work, ___? You want me to trust you, you say you're working at this, and then when you have a slip up, you don't tell me, you don't tell your counselor, and then you lie when I find this and ask you about it. How is this supposed to work?
      So we worked out another boundary- in a civil way (yay!) that 1) no contact includes anything she's associated with and 2) if he has a slip, he needs to tell me about it so that I don't get triggered, and I don't have to discover something yet again I don't want to discover, and I don't go into search mode.
      Then I asked him if there was anything else I should know about. And I told him to erase his history so I would not get the search bug and we'd start over again.
      So while I can't claim any kind of knowledge about how to work through infidelity, I've learned as I've gone along and it's gotten easier to navigate the farther out we go. I never , ever thought about boundaries before this happened, and now, I think about them a lot and with all my relationships. It's a very important tool I wish they'd teach us before we get married!
      C.

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  4. I can say (with a shudder) that I believed the man in my life would never be unfaithful...over 20 years I failed to deal with (no real consequences/proper boundaries) persistant secret porn use and even the discovery of a fleshlite. He admitted to a porn addiction 2 days after my BROTHER was arrested for accessing child pornography(as a VERY important sidebar if you are dealing with someone with a porn addiction women portrayed as under 16 or "sexting" with minors has huge legal implications and you will need extra support--please don't hesitate to access everything available). I was reeling from the news and the man in my life says "I am addicted to porn". Two days later I say well there's gotta be more so let's have it and on March 10 2015...have it I did. I still don't know what force kept me going or what magic inside of me made food for 4 children, cared for horses and vacuumed floors. Regardless of where the road takes us there is something so amazing about JUST GETTING BY. I would seek out every image and story or women operating with grace in devastating conditions and I would pray for just a shred of their strength. For the first 12 days I wore the same shirt telling myself I didn't have enough reserve strength to pull it over my head. Now on a bad day I put that shirt back on hoping a little of its mojo will lift my heart. YOU ARE ALL BRAVE AND STRONG. Eventually the path will present itself and little by little the way becomes clear.

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    1. Fragments of HopeApril 20, 2016 at 2:45 AM

      One armed pie maker, how I love that idea of taking inspiration from women with grace in devastating circumstances. 2 + years from D-day and 1 + years from D-day 2 I am so tired of feeling weak and pathetic. For two days after D-Day 1 I was strong, focussed, articulate, danced, saw friends, was confident and friendly with the children (I have 4 too) but I've found negotiating with him and merely having the trigger of him and his actions have made me disappear these last few years. I need to take a stand and be heard. So when he doesn't follow through on the rules for nights out, it really matters to me, even though I know he just 'lost track of time etc'. I need to walk an awkward path being not being the paranoid hysterical wife but also knowing what is fair and necessary to ask for. I'm not a very self-assured person anyway so that's always a challenge.

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    2. OAPM, That's such a great post. Thank-you for that. Glad your shirt gives you mojo! But I suspect the mojo comes from deep inside you.

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  5. Lynn Piddeling Pain ( it is getting less)April 19, 2016 at 6:36 AM

    Boundaries with my H for me equals fear, anger and guilt. It wasn't easy to set boundaries and when I did and got push back. Then I second guess my boundaries. The resistance is they have not learned to respect my freedom and right to say NO. Sometimes they get angry, call me selfish.

    One of the first boundaries I set was "I don't do anything I really don't want to do." I was notorious for caving, giving in. If I feel uncomfortable or resentment is there then I know I have let my boundaries slip. Someone wants to impose on me, react a certain way, or expects me to be a "good" whatever. It is hard not to feel guilty because I want to be a better wife. Guilt and fear will bring my boundary fence down quickly. I have a fear of the others persons negative response. My engine light goes on when I tell myself go ahead do what they want, I can cope and say yes because I want to be good enough. Afterwards I feel angry with myself for caving in.

    It is hard to keep boundaries without self respect, which betrayal takes this down to a sub zero level. If my H gets upset/angry I figure he needs to learn self control instead of some other form of control. When he sees he has no control over me regarding a boundary then he no longer has control and has figure out a different way to relate to me. If I hold steady - He can choose to leave, this is risky. If I hold steady - His controlling ways can increase. If I hold steady - I think if he can control me with his anger he is not going to change. This is so hard to keep my ground. I was raised to be a care taker for my narcissistic mother and father then I just transferred my care taking to my H. Ignoring what I wanted was normal for 50 years.

    Boundaries to me is having respect for myself. This is tough when you had the ultimate rejection thrown in your face of you weren't good enough. I can’t set good boundaries if I'm unsure of where I stand.

    You change for two reasons: Either you learn enough that you want to, or you’ve been hurt enough that you have to.” ~Unknown

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    1. Lynnpiiddleinggpain
      I'm so thankful to see your pain going down! I know just what you mean about self esteem and it being busted to zero...especially for those of us who already had low self esteem! I tried the boundaries in the beginning but just like you I kept caving in to what ever made life easier to get through. Slowly but surely I'm getting my strength back to a new normal. Some days easier said than done! Thanks for sharing your insight on how you are able to continue to move forward!

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    2. Fragments of HopeApril 20, 2016 at 2:59 AM

      Dear Lynn, I really identify with you, anger, defensiveness and frustration from my husband and me wanting to me a nice and openminded/understanding person makes setting boundaries very difficult. Like you, I have low self-esteem and have not believed in myself. We don't have that dogmatism and arrogance to believe in our rules. I also know that I suffer from anxiety and can get overwhelmed so sometimes I might be making too much of things. Leads to second guessing yes. It's a very difficult cycle to get out of, a very difficult dynamic in the relationship to really see clearly from the inside. Sometimes our husbands don't mean to be so narcissistic or singleminded but the consequences on us are terrible. I debate this with myself all the time. I guess we have to become clear on what we can live with and accept ultimately. As we start to feel better we can see what is part of our hurt and what is legitimate. This is only starting to happen for me 2 years on and it's still so tricky when my husband is not in a great place/stressed etc. I think if it could have been done, it would have been great to get out of the situation for a while. I think some of us need to regroup and find ourselves (hate that phrase but we need to regain our identity)before we can really deal with setting clear parameters in a confident manner. It wasn't feasible for me to do this with kids, so I think it's made the recovery time of myself and the marriage much much longer. I feel for you when you say you want to be nice and sometimes cave in then feel bad later. Perhaps we just need to pause or ask for time to make a decision and come back later when we don't feel so pressured. Complicated, but I hope we can both can start to feel more sure of ourselves.

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    3. Lynn,
      I love watching your evolution. You have such wisdom (and such a way with words -- I love the engine light analogy!). Boundaries are TERRIFYING. So many of us have been raised (or socialized) to believe that setting boundaries is selfish, that it makes us unloveable and that if we aren't constantly giving, then those around us will leave us. And abandonment is the biggest fear of all. Sadly, too many of us abandon ourselves in a misguided effort to keep others from leaving.
      But if we stick with it, it gets easier (not easy...but easier). We begin to realize that people might not like our boundaries but they can respect them. And that people who are only with us because we're too afraid to stick up for ourselves are people we shouldn't have in our lives anyway.

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    4. Lynne, I just have to say, love the new screen name.

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  6. "It's about healing yourself through dignity and self-respect. No matter the outcome of your marriage, you will be loved if you're able to love yourself."

    Elle your writing daily, inspires healing.

    If all of us were being filmed what would we see? In The movies of our lives. I believe that despite trauma, outrage,from this intimate-devastation we not only see survival but warrior archetypes. If we watched a movie of the characters of deceit, secrecy, lies of our very own cheaters next to our behavior who would we rather be? And how have we focused our days? What path did we walk, seeds plant, How have we spent our lives compared to theirs?

    When I look back on how I've conducted myself for the past 6 years, it's remarkable I didn't land in jail. (upon D-Day and the"Discovery" of long-term betrayal from the very beginning of a long-loved, marriage). When I reflect backwards to my own integrity how I managed to live with such quiet dignity and focus on raising three daughters to be thoughtful and compassionate 'citizens.'

    I had the dignity - got no respect, or protection.

    My husband today is a better human-Be-ing. No longer running off fumes of male entitlement living in 'silos' private world viewing and regarding women as 'objects' resources to be used and discarded. And that has everything to do with me.

    Yet, "No matter the outcome," just imagine that a Movie film was rolling who would you want to be?

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    1. Much to consider, Val. It surprises me that I would choose to be...me.

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    2. What an overview to think about. A much better mind movie to watch. This really validated why Is mutated. Thank you

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    3. Valkyrie
      I typed a reply that disappeared in cyberspace but just want you to know your words ring so true for my h! He is a better man for the lessons he learned from this experience! I couldn't understand how he could love me and still enter into an affair with another woman. He was finally able to explain how he has to compartmentalize each aspect of his life and I truly didn't understand until I read the link posted by Dandilion in a different post but when I asked him to read it and was that what he meant on how he could do both that helped me understand him better. Then I was stuck with how do you know you won't do this again and he was finally able to share how this has changed how he looks at all women now...not as objects for self gratification...does he still look at other beautiful women yes because he's still a man but he no longer undresses women with his eyes. Looking at our lives as if it was a movie...you are so right that I'm so glad to be me! I can't imagine having to live with the guilt of causing this much pain to the man I love with my heart and soul...Thanks for your thought provoking post!

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  7. Yes. Lynn and Fragments, I too struggle with - is this a fair boundary? or is it simply a desire of mine? I will give a specific example. When we first saw our second therapist she asked what we both wanted from the other - one thing I named was, I wanted my husband to read the book, "How to help my spouse heal from my affair" - after, I ordered the book and gave it to my husband - he didn't object; he just didn't read it. Later in therapy when I brought it up the therapist asked my husband how often he read those types of books - his answer, "never" - which is true - so, that was it. And honestly I didn't push it. I was disappointed, but not devastated. My request that he read it was not an ultimatum, I guess it wasn't even a boundary - in hindsight, I guess it was a request. I seem to feel that my husband should acquiesce to my requests- I even felt such before the affair. And God knows I have felt that even more after the affair. Why? Because I acquiesce to his requests. Our therapist has pointed out that he has stood by me in ways that other husbands may not - and I would get upset when he no longer would. For example, I am claustrophobic, I will only fly in the aisle seat and I want him next to me - in the middle seat - he did this for many years and then - no more. Upsetting to me at the time, yet the therapist pointed out that it was big of him to do that all those years. So, yes, it gets muddy in my brain. I will write ... journal .... specifically, what are my boundaries? As Lynn and Elle have recently asked me, "what do I need to feel safe? And all those other great questions - I will revisit. Thank you so ladies! Love & light.

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    1. Melissa
      I find myself wondering if my boundaries were fair but then I had to have a few of mine in order for me to feel safe and even if it is unfair for now it's what I need. We're still a work in progress trying, both of us not to take anything for granted. I also had to reassure myself because he had a muddy view of lying and didn't consider it lying by omission of the fact that he had a secret life with another woman. Now he understands the importance of true honesty even when the truth hurts! We march forward together. We're still learning what boundaries we need and I am grateful my h is willing to listen and make adjustments when necessary! Keep looking for your boundaries!

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    2. I think there's a lot of confusion around boundaries and wishes, and the waters get a whole lot muddier post D-Day. Essentially, boundaries are about us taking responsibility for our own needs and actions and NOT taking responsibility for other people's needs and actions. A quick example is: I need a room cleared out to create an office space at home. It's full of my husband's stuff. I express my need (taking responsibility for my own need). My husband drags his feet, which creates resentment in me. Instead of demanding that he clear out the room (which disempowers me), I figure out how I can be responsible for my own need. I might say, "I really need that room cleared out so I can set up my office. I've hired someone to come and clear out the stuff on Friday. Where shall I have him put your belongings?"
      Immediately, I'm holding the power to have my boundaries taken care of by me. I can request or wish that my husband respond...but by demanding/nagging/begging etc., I'm disempowering myself.
      In the wake of betrayal, we need to get really clear on our boundaries. What do we NEED to heal. And then we set about respecting those. We can ask our partners for what we want...and it's a good sign, of course, when our partners respond that they will support us in what we need...but that's where it ends. If our partners won't give us what we need, then they're telling us that our needs aren't important to them.
      I'm going to revisit this in a post because it's confusing and, as noted, betrayal confuses things further because we're so reliant on the person who hurt us to help us heal.
      But we start by getting clear on our own boundaries and then seeing how we can address our needs without disempowering ourselves.

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  8. Melissa I too bought my h that book and asked him to read it, 2 yrs on its still in the same place gathering dust. Like you I wasn't too upset he's not a reader of books in general never mind self help books : ) . Your not on your own with that one. Hugs and a lot of patience with our h going forward ��

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  9. I have has a similar situation with the books. My husband suggested he select some books to read. Again I know I have said this before but he is a mental health professional. What I found interesting after 10 years of college education 9 in the classroom they never take a marriage class. He had classes that covered it and more general relationship classes but crazy they never take a class regarding marriage. So anyways we had a major discussion that I feel frustrated I am going to individual counseling and really it is like marriage counseling for one. Not that I am perfect but really all we talk about is him. I go once a month and develop talking points based off of questions my therapist asks me and I feel like I come home and am doing therapy with my husband. And my therapist does not want me giving him an ultimatum of going. Due to the level of his training and practice even if he goes he questions if it would be worth it. He feels like we are making good progress this way.

    Well he ordered his books and has read two nights in over two weeks that is it. And he could read this stuff at work. I mean if he had these books out then no big deal. So I have gone back and forth. I am giving his some space on it. After a week or two more and am going to ask to set up a schedule, my therapist said this is normal. A therapist might assign a chapter and ask not just to read it but process it. Only one chapter a month. And 70% of the time should be time to talk about what is read and both of us reading it. And he said usually the wife would want to go home and read it in a day or two the entire book but not what he wants. So for now I am giving some freedom around this but in time I am going to suggest advocating a more structured plan to "process" the books. We will see how it goes.

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  10. Fragments of HopeApril 21, 2016 at 2:00 AM

    Melissa & all, I guess I feel that if they are sorry they would try to meet any reasonable and not overly demanding requests. I think if I'd hurt someone and they told me what would help, I'd do it. My h either forgets or hasn't the time or perhaps isn't sure that what I suggest will help at all (yes books or whatever.)I suppose many of the requests involve circling round or analysing the affair whereas I know many men, incl my h want to just 'fix' things and move on. I guess my h has to get on with things and keep his head down (he's been in a couple of startups) so books and talks and analysing don't feel helpful to him. (Though he's done plenty of that.) Melissa I don't really get the therapist saying it was big of him to sit in the middle seat all those years. It was something you needed and no big deal for him.(?) I guess as a mother of a child with high functioning autism (needs forewarning of change, avoid crowds, strong smells etc) I am so used to making accommodations due to his needs, I would not think I'm good for doing it, just that my son requires consideration and particular care. Elle said it beautifully (in Stuck?) that women are socially conditioned to be aware of others and accommodate them. If women these days are meant to 'Lean in', I don't see why men can't learn some of those other skills.

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    1. I think Fragments has hit on a really important point and I'm going to expand on it in a post. Whether or not your husbands are reading these books is besides the point. You're making a request (a small request) based on what you believe you need to help you heal -- which is, essentially, some empathy from them assuming they read the books and begin to understand what you're going through. It's the fact that, even with the fact that they're asking YOU to give them a second chance, they're not willing to make an effort to do something that you've said is important to you. THAT's the real problem.

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  11. Happy surprise to see this, road map and all. I'm another BW with a full bookshelf. If I ask nicely (more than once) h reads parts of books, watches parts of videos. I hate asking -- I feel like such a b*. I have to accept that I work harder at marriage than he does, always have and always will. I'm not sorry we're trying to rebuild, and if he truly can't keep up (and keep his pants on) then at least I'll never have to wonder what would have happened if we tried. I love when Elle says sleeves rolled up, eyes wide open. I am doing my share. That is enough for now. Thank you all for being here.

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  12. Hi ladies, so we started our 18 week counselling following a a couple of stupid decisions my husband made over the Christmas period. We're 26 months from d day.

    So The 1st session was to gauge how we are feeling bearing in mind we have waited 4 months for a counselling slot. Now if you'd have asked me how I was feeling 4 months ago I was a complete mess much like I was post d day. However I have been high on self care and looking after me so I'm in a much better place now. So anyway there was a tick sheet to establish our moods and low and behold my h scored high like he was the one who'd been cheated on lol. He also mentioned that at times he didn't want to be here ( I.e not wanting to harm himself but just not be on the planet). The counsellor asked if I had known this I replied 'no'. So part of me is thinking is he just saying this to get the sympathy vote as he's well aware we are here yet again because of him and his behaviour/decisions or is he really unhappy???? Still not worked that one out as yet. I'm thinking a bit of both.

    So in the session I tried to speak as positive about my h as possible as I wanted him to go back for the second session lol so didn't want to come down all negative. And tbh there are things I like about him, probably more now than ever before. So the counsellor asks my h what he likes about me and he found it difficult to answer I actually laughed then I gave him more time to answer and still nothing!! So I answered the question myself : ) there are lots of things, I pointed out the first one being that I'm a 'bloody good mother' he agreed to that one. Why is it after all he's done I can still find positive things to say about him but he can't to me. I've put it down to the fact that I see life different to him, I live life differently and am better at dealing with things that come my way than him. I've always had a feeling my husband resents me at times, not sure why, maybe it's because I am confident, I can say no and I don't let people walk all over me, which sadly my husband can't. He's very much a ' people pleaser' he loves the attention. So for example he's just bought a new car and it gets attention every where we go and he actually loves it. Where as I don't actually get the whole hype. I think he's very immature for 36 years old. Got allot of growing up to do and I see how far he has come the last few years but emotionally he needs help dealing with his issues.
    he is not a happy man in general and I hope the counsellor can get to the root of that. He will be having some sessions on his own which I hope he will benefit from.

    Just wanted to get it out there to see if anyone can relate to me, it really does surprise me how much our stories are alike. Love reading your thoughts and appreciate your support. Have a good day ladies and keep smiling : ) xxxx

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    1. Sam A,
      I think an often overlooked aspect of cheating is that, generally, emotionally healthy people don't cheat. It's people looking for escape, for something to make them feel good/alive/excited. It's like a drug. So when the affair blows open and suddenly they've got destruction, the focus tends to be on the betrayed partner, which it should be. But that doesn't address the reasons one cheats in the first place.
      What I'm suggesting is that your husband might be struggling with depression or another mood disorder. The cheating wasn't the problem necessarily but his mood disorder. (Of course, it could be a character disorder, as in he's just a jerk. That's for you to decide.)
      Given some of his comments though, it sounds as though he really does need some individual therapy to sort through his own issues. Has he ever been a "happy man"?

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  13. Does anybody really know why most of us stay as opposed to separating and then maybe reconciling after intense counseling??? I did leave for 15 months and then went home... quite possibly a mistake, as I am contemplating leaving again... My husband's affair was emotional (I can't prove otherwise) and went on for about 10 years that I know of.
    Elle, I agree with you that cheating is like a drug for some, and yes, emotionally, secure, confident in themselves people don't cheat... WHY can't they get that same "high" from us, their devoted spouses??? My husband will NOT let any counselor get too close and break down the barriers, and I know they are there (so did the counselors). If they are that unhappy, what's wrong with them just telling us the truth so we can go on with our lives, too... I feel so robbed of mine... 10+ years is a lot of time stolen from me, and yes, I resent that. I'm in my mid 50s, and I can't get those years back, and now it seems that my trust for him, as well as my safety in the marriage, is down the toilet. What kills me is the fact that these men make a conscious CHOICE to do this, and they know how destroyed we will be when we find out, because let's face it, no matter how long it takes, the cream always rises to the top, and we ALL find out!! Thanks all for the vent session. <3

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    1. Somewhere,
      Those barriers can be incredibly high -- the barriers that keep anyone from really wanting to dig deep into why they engage in destructive behaviour. I'm always surprised at the resistance. But I know far too many people willing to lose a marriage, a relationship with a child, a friendship rather than face their own demons. It's always someone else's fault.
      And though I agree that cheating is a choice, I'm not convinced it's a "conscious" one if by "conscious" we mean a choice made with a full accounting of the cost. My husband honestly thought that what he was doing wasn't "hurting" anyone. There was, literally, no understanding of the cost of the affairs even if I had never found out because he had no real understanding of what true intimacy is, what true loyalty is. It's like, sometimes, we're expecting these guys to build a house with building materials they've never seen before.
      I think it's time for you to get completely clear on what you want going forward. If he can't give you that, then it's time to walk. If he won't give you that, it's time to walk. You've given him the chance to prove to you that he's worth a second chance. If he hasn't managed to do that yet, he likely never will.

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  14. That's a difficult question Elle lol I'm sure he has or at least I hope he has : ). Tbh at the moment he has everything he could wish for and should be the happiest he has ever been but I know that isnt the case and I'm not really sure why. He said he loves me and wants to be with me snd adores his children he's just very different to me. People describe me as mad, crazy, jolly always smiling kinda person. My husband rarely laughs bless him he's quite serious reminds me alot of my own dad.


    He was able to tell the counsellor some of the things that irratared him about me which were very insignificant so much so I had to laugh out loud. He mentioned things like I didn't peel his eggs in the morning and that I didn't clean the cobwebs of the ceilings, I see you laughing too right lol. I was quite shocked but I get that these things could be as significant To him as betrayal is to me. I'm learning things about him now I never knew, some things I like others I don't but nothing makes me want to run for the hills but does make me more determined to get through this counselling. I'm not an easy person to live with I have certain expectations and can be hurtful at times but very understanding and fair at other times.

    I'd love to spend more time on our own together it's difficult with the kids but we do try to have s meal out together every other week and are experimenting more in the bedroom something my husband wanted to explore. I'm trying he's trying we are moving forward little by little and the good times def outweigh the bad. So to answer your question Elle yes he does have happy spurts : ) p.s his father is a miserable old fart that spends most of his time spent in a room on his own away from the rest of the family. So maybe that's a reason for my h behaviour plus he was physically abused by his father well into his 20's, however he would never speak bad of his father.

    Thank you Elle xxxxx

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  15. I am a little late to the comment party, because I am a full time employee and a full time student so personal email often gets pushed to the back, so IDK if anyone will ever read this.
    We just pasted our 2 year mark. Been with our current councilor for a year. We have monthly meetings now. I have asked my husband for certain things. Each month we have a check up. Each month he has failed to do most of the things he has promised. The man that promised to do "WHATEVER" it takes to save our marriage has done very very little to repair the damage. Our marriage councilor even told my darling husband...BUD you are burning the bridge and I think you wife has shown the patients of Job, but even he had limits.
    It has taken me a while and I have used every excuse in the book for him, but the reality of it is I have discovered I am worth it. I am worth someone doing "WHATEVER" it takes. I am worth someone never putting me in the risks that he did. I am worth being loved and respected. And when I said all this the councilor said, Yes ma'am you are. I just hate that it took you this long to figure that out. Now it is just seeing if your husband is the man that is willing to put actions to his words. What time line are you giving him? I said I am done with time lines, all the things I asked for should have already been done.
    I have not kicked him out yet because we have a vacation planned and I don't want to disappoint the kids, but when we get home unless he has made some REAL forward motion he is gone.

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    1. SLM
      I saw your post this morning and I feel the pain burning in your heart! We have a post titled Feeling stuck where most of us share similar feelings of my h isn't following through with his promise to do anything it takes! It's usually more current than the monthly post. We don't have all the answers but we can share our story as to how we feel and get advice on how to get our h to step up as we expect. My h disappoints me from time to time when I trigger from his insensitive treatment of my feelings. I'm not sure what you are asking from your post other than yes I was as patient as you have been but two years past for us and it's still one step forward and two steps back but we keep trying! I'm not sure what you are asking from your h but I have found that I have to be very specific when telling my h the changes I've needed to see in our relationship! I'm so sorry for your pain but I also see you becoming stronger and more sure of yourself which took me a long time to get to. Hopefully Elle will also see my post and she always has the best advice for this part that we all tend to get stuck in while waiting for our h to finally get it! My heart aches for you and I know how you feel so I send hugs for your pain and prayers that your h will finally get it!

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    2. SLM,
      You go, girl! Sounds like your husband is being self-destructive. I sincerely hope he wakes up to what he stands to lose before it's too late.

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  16. YES SLM!!! You ARE worth moving the mountain for, and don't you ever forget it!!! Actions speak volumes, and I hope your husband realizes your worth and does a 180. Good luck to you. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. Keep us posted.

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  17. Slm I totally understand where you are coming from I feel exactly the same about my situation. When is enough , enough? Well that's down to us to decide. I'm in exactly the same place you are at present and like you I put everyone else's feelings before mine. I don't want to hurt my kids, I don't want my sister being homeless as she rents a house from my h and if things get nasty he could turf her out so I feel stuck in what to do. I suppose there is never a right time!

    I think you have made the right decision to have your vacation then decide, I really hope he realises what he stands to lose, sad thing is alot of these guys don't know what they do have until it's gone.

    Let us know how you get on, stay strong. Big hugs xxx

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  18. Hello SLM - I agree with the ladies in that I would like to know what it is, specifically, you have been asking of your husband. Not at all that I am questioning your decision, I am just curious as it will most likely apply to some of my situation.
    For me, I had certain boundaries that my husband agreed to and others that he did not. But then again, I found that I did not really know how to state my boundary and how to feel empowered. Elle's post on boundaries is excellent and I actually employed it recently, and felt empowered. I stated my need and my feeling and then I walked away. I felt strong and I moved forward in my own care of myself. In that I mean I had plans for what I was going to do for the day, plans which cared for me and did not rely on or include my husband, that is actually big for me. What happened then? My husband, who had been holding out on this boundary, came around. It was as if he saw my strength and in a strange way, I think it might have frightened him. I was asking him to read a particular book with me. The funny thing is, we then read the introduction and could barely get through it. I read later more on my own, into the first chapter and skimmed much of the book and decided that book is not for us, certainly not at this time. Since then, I have noticed that if I am feeling sensitive or "bad" my husband has been very attentive - this is a trait I have always loved about him. I don't know that I making any sense… It is simply something that I have noticed has worked for us. It is rather a combination of boundaries and a 180. Having said all this, I know this much ...
    You know. You know what is right for you and what is right for your children. And, it is obvious that you are not hastily making a decision… When the time is right, you will do the next right thing, and no doubt you have been all along.
    Peace and light to you my friend.

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  19. My husband texted me and phoned me every night when he was away working. I always knew when he was out and where..what I didn't know was he was lying the whole time. Yes he was out having supper...but with her. He texted and emailed the ow when he was home right in front of me...he even added her to his contacts under a man's name. So when and if my H goes out....we don't really know where or who he is with do we? My H would be in the hot tub at his hotel...he just forgot to mention the ow was with him...

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    1. Some of these guys are absolute masters of deception. It's chilling isn't it?

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