Friday, April 22, 2016

Your Ultimate Guide to Boundaries: What they are and why you need them. Especially after his affair

Setting boundaries means getting clear on what behaviours are okay and what's not okay. Integrity is key to this commitment because it's how we set those boundaries and ultimately hold ourselves and others accountable for respecting them.... Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them."
~Brené Brown, from Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution.

Ooooh boy. Boundaries. What a confusing concept for so many of us trying to figure out what the hell happened in our marriage and just how we can begin to feel safe again. If there's anything that will bring our boundaries (or lack of) into sharp focus, it's being betrayed.
Pre-betrayal, my boundaries, if I'd known enough to pay attention to them, were telling me in a hundred different ways that my marriage felt unfair. My anger and resentment were clear cues that my feelings and my actions did not match up. What did I do? I tried to talk myself out of my feelings: I was probably expecting too much. Why couldn't I ever just be happy? After all, he was better than a lot of husbands I knew.
Big mistake. By ignoring my own boundaries, I was disrespecting myself, which gave everyone else permission to do the same. Good old Elle! She won't mind! 
But when my husband cheated on me and didn't walk out but rather begged me to try and rebuild our marriage, I realized that the old marriage was not an option. If I was going to stay and work through this shitstorm that he'd created, I was going to darn well get something good out of it. Not just him but a new improved him and a new improved me and a new improved marriage in which I was not doing everything for everyone and hiding behind a bitter smile.
So...boundaries.
I hadn't a clue what they were and why I needed them. I had considered myself something of a badass independent woman. I ran marathons. I ran my own business. I had friends, men and women, of my own. I travelled solo all over the world. Plus...I was nice. Nice is good, right?
Turns out, not so much. Nice is good when you have clear boundaries and the ability to state your needs unequivocally. Nice is good when it doesn't stop you from being not-nice when your boundaries are getting trampled on.
For me, nice was a way of paying for others' positive attention with my self-worth. 
The baby's crying at 3 a.m. and I'm exhausted? Oh well, honey, you sleep. I'm awake anyway. 
You need to work late again and I'm on deadline? That's okay. I'll just work when the kids are asleep. 
This wasn't about compromise. This was about me playing the martyr. This was about acquiescence and total disrespect for myself. I was so invested in being a good sport, in being that great supportive wife who never really asks for anything because, well, whatever you want to give me is probably swell.
Being nice (which is a "nice" way of saying "pleasing people) often gets in the way of having and enforcing boundaries.
Post betrayal? Screw nice. I want to be heard. And respected. And so...boundaries.
(What's especially interesting for me is that I'm able to be far nicer now that I respect my own boundaries. It's impossible to be kind when resentment is seeping out of your pores. Your words might sound "nice" but your actions will be passive-aggressive.)

So, let's outline what boundaries are...and are not. Boundaries are basically your rules for your life. Brené Brown calls them an act of compassion for yourself. They're about respecting what you need to be able to be your best self. To feel safe. To feel valued. To feel heard.
Boundaries are not about controlling others. It's not a boundary to say, "I think eating meat is cruel so everybody around me must eat vegetarian." It IS a boundary to say "I think eating meat is cruel so when I prepare a meal, I will only prepare vegetarian." In the first, you're trying to control what others do. In the second, you're simply controlling what you do.
But boundaries in the wake of betrayal get a bit blurry because we're asking for our partners to really respect what we need...and it might look a lot different than what we need in a healthy relationship that hasn't been marked by infidelity. A healthy post-betrayal boundary is: Your dishonesty has made me feel unsafe in this relationship. I need to know that you are where you say you are and you are with whom you say you are in order to begin rebuilding trust. This is why many of us implement a system of checks in order to confirm our partner's whereabouts or contacts.
In a faithful relationship, I think monitoring each others' whereabouts is controlling and creepy. Post-betrayal, however, it's a way to rebuild trust. As time goes on, the vigilance should decrease. Again, it's about respecting your need for safety and assurance, not controlling your partner.
But this aspect of control can become problematic. And I hear often on this site about partners who've cheated becoming angry at being "controlled" by these post-betrayal boundaries. I get it. It must suck to be monitored. It must feel humiliating to have to come home right after work instead of stopping for a beer with friends. But the way I see it, a partner who's cheated has a lot to make up for. This isn't about paying penance, it's about supporting a loyal partner who's been deeply hurt and whose boundaries take priority right now. Not always...but right now. Compromise and negotiation can come later. Right now, it's about healing.
Here's the thing: I believe that those of us who've been betrayed should get to set the rules for reconciliation. My heartbreak, my rules. That's boundaries. But while we're still getting our feet wet regarding boundaries, many of us aren't so likely to enforce those rules. So it's important to establish boundaries early on that set us up for success, not failure.
What I mean by this is, establish boundaries that empower you. And give a lot of careful thought to what the consequences are if those boundaries are violated.
There's been some talk on another thread of this site around wanting partners to read certain books. And the partners haven't done it. Rather than feeling empowered by stating boundaries, the betrayed wives are feeling resentful. They stated their boundary (I need you to build empathy for my experience by reading this book) and their partners are being wishy-washy or outright refusing to.
If boundaries are new to you, you're going to get pushback. So you might need to practice a few times in the mirror. When you won't _______, I feel _______. And then...nothing.
Boundaries aren't about controlling him, they're about taking care of yourself. If he won't support you in your healing, then find support anywhere else you can. Therapy. Web sites. Books. Trusted friends.
No matter how anyone else in the world responds to your suffering right now, you can respect your own feelings. You can tell yourself  that you matter. You can orchestrate your healing.
If he wants to join you and support you, that's wonderful. He can start by respecting your boundaries.
But – and this is important – if he's refusing or reluctant to support you in your healing, then perhaps he's telling you loud and clear that you don't matter. You can't make someone respect you. But you can show him what respect and compassion looks like by giving it to yourself.

36 comments:

  1. Before finding out about my husband's infidelities I didn't have "boundaries" because I thought there were just unspoken rules about how relationships worked...be honest, respect each other, don't cheat...that's all the ingredients for a happy relationship right? Boy was I clueless. As I would come to find out in therapy, my husband learned from his parents/friends that those rules were different. When we don't clearly define what honesty, respect, cheating, etc. mean for us and what we will or won't tolerate, we are setting ourselves up to be hurt. I had the hardest time setting boundaries because they are unique to each relationship. Most of the books I read said you "have to set boundaries", but they didn't provide a "one size fits all" solution, so it took me a while to grasp. Your post does an excellent job at explaining how know if a boundary is needed.

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  2. I have been trying for almost 2 years since d-day to get my husband to live within certain boundaries and just today I had to just give up. He always says he will but the minute he has to make a choice regarding the boundaries set he chooses to not follow them. It has reached the point where the things I needed to feel safe became the very things that were tearing me apart. I can't even tell you how destroyed I feel and powerless. I just don't know what else to do, I guess I am just tired of fighting a battle I will never win. Your words I hope will help others because they are so true in every way. I just started reading Brene Brown and she is amazing!!

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    1. Melissa,
      That's the things with boundaries. They should be empowering you, not disempowering you. They're about drawing clear lines about what you will and will not tolerate. As long as you're tolerating someone else violating your boundaries, then they're not really boundaries...they're suggestions.
      It's really really hard. I grew up with very few boundaries (thanks to alcoholic parents) so it felt more comfortable to me to let people walk all over me than it did to actually stand up for myself. It's a skill that we can learn, though. And once we do, we can hardly imagine the way it used to be.
      You need to stop fighting a battle you'll "never win" and start fighting one that you will win -- and that's the battle for your self-respect. Stop tolerating behaviour that hurts you. Decide what you'll do if he refuses to respect your boundaries. Does he sleep on the couch? Does he move out? Do you file for separation? YOU get to decide what the consequences are. It will feel really awful at first. And you'll get all sorts of pushback (more on that in an upcoming post) -- he'll be angry, he'll accuse you of being selfish, self-centred, blah blah blah. He'll sulk. None of that matters. What matters is that you are teaching people how to treat you. If you want to be treated with respect, then you don't tolerate disrespect. Brené Brown is amazing. Keep reading!

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  3. Elle, would you please write a book? It would be so cool if you took all the post and made them into a daily devotional type book. Everyday read a post to keep grounded. You really have a healing gift through your writing. I worked in NYC for 3 years, there are still woman or families who can't afford a computer. But they had paperbacks on their desk. I would buy it in a minute. I do this now on your site. Everyday you anchor me with your insights. It is uplifting and your my addiction. I don't care if my therapist says "it might not be good" or if my husband says "why don't you ask those woman on that site?" or "are you reading that again". Sorry world this boundary is this site that feeds my heart with good stuff so just back off. Think about it, really. Thank you.

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    1. Ha! I've thought often of writing a book (I have written quite a few in my "real" life) but never seem to have the time. I love the idea of a "daily" book. H'mmm....thanks for the idea.
      And I'm always curious about people resistant to reading this site. I understand that it can feel threatening to some husbands because so much of what we all talk about here is empowering ourselves to make choices that align with our values and our self-respect. And I suppose it can become unhealthy if it's keeping people in a state of hyper-focus on the affair. But, I would think, most people drift away when it's no longer useful to them or when much of what they're reading, they're already using in their lives. As long as it makes you feel empowered (even if you disagree with what I'm saying!!) to move into the world, then I think that's a good thing.

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    2. My husband worried for a while that my coming to this site would keep me stuck, until I began to share with him all the great insight I received from all of you. You don't know how many times I've struggled with an issue and someone here has said something that just made sense and helped me move past a hurdle. And I hope that somewhere along the way I've been able to offer some insight that has helped someone else. He gets it now and he's asked me a few times if we're talking about an unresolved feeling, "What do the ladies on the blog say?"

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    3. I think any resistance to this site is from fear and not knowing what it is about. And so many out there are more into bashing the cheater all the time or not the greatest info. I checked out everything ever posted on the internet. This is my favorite and it is because it is positive. You and others are honest but I always walk away feeling better about time spent on here. I might need to think more and make decisions but those are mine to make. And I think people who cheat are defensive and affraid of the unknown. Or at least that was my husband. That is why he stopped his affairs but did not tell me. He was affraid he had done permanent damage. And I think they see a site like this on the surface only as something they cannot control. It is the best site hands down!

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    4. My own husband told me (and our therapist) years ago that this site was keeping me "stuck in the past". Didn't matter how many times I told him that it was actually helping me move forward, he wouldn't believe it. But that was HIS fear talking, not mine. He was afraid that, as long as I was writing/reading about infidelity, it was keeping me in an unhealthy place with the focus on his cheating. But the focus here isn't necessarily on our partners' cheating but on our response to it...and our healing. Big difference.
      My take on it is that this is now part of my story. And a huge part of my healing has been taking this really horrible part of my life and using it to create the community I wished I had when I was first going through this. I LOVE you women who come here. With very very rare exceptions, you don't bash each other, you don't judge each other, you are so full of compassion and kindness and wisdom. I honestly don't see that on so many other sites where I get a knot in my stomach just reading the comments. Not sure why I get all the most amazing women but I'm grateful for it!

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  4. I always put myself last ... thats what wives and mama do right? Wrong ... taking care of me feels so much better and makes me a better person for them too ... boundaries are hard and taking care of me uncomfortable sometimes because i havent down it in so long but im doing it now. Trying to and making choices everyday.

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    1. Wounded,
      Women, especially, get socialized to always put themselves last. The oxygen mask metaphor has become something of a cliché but it's so true. We're no good to anyone if we're not operating from a place of health and strength.

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    2. Dandilion
      You have given me insight on more than one occasion and yes in the beginning my h thought the blog was making it worse until I shared the post and he understands now that this journey was not going to be a fast jog but a very long slow walk until I could get to a better place inside my heart and mind! I'm forever grateful to have found this blog!

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  5. I am at a place right now where I don't really care. And I do not say that with negativity at all. In fact, I say it with positivity. I need a break from all this. Yet I seem obsessed with coming to the site. Do I feel safe? Yes, absolutely. And that is what matters. Do I necessarily feel safe in my marriage? As safe as I now know I ever was, I just didn't realize that it is rather an illusion. What I mean by that is, it could be an affair, it could be a divorce, or it could be death. In any case, I feel the only one I can truly feel safe with is, myself. And with that, I am safe. And I love that. My favorite mantra to meditate to is, "I am." Would I be devastated if our marriage ended in divorce? Or death? Absolutely. Would I survive? Absolutely. So for now, I am going to live. I am going to simply enjoy every moment to its fullest. What happens, happens. So, with that… I am going to go outside into the sunlight of this beautiful day and mow the lawn. And enjoy every minute of it.
    Love and light ladies.

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    1. Sunlight and fresh air is the perfect balm. And I think it's a good sign when we start getting tired of all the ruminating on what to do, what does it mean, etc. I knew that when I started to get sick of my own drama that I was ready to move into the next stage.
      And I would urge you, if this site is feeling obsessive, to step away from it. We'll miss you...and I hope you'll return. But I would hope this site is something positive, that it gives you food for thought. If it feels as though you have to come to it, whether you really want to or no, then it's become a bad thing.

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  6. So I am one of the book couples. I hear what you are saying but I am trying to listen to my therapist on this one. He says he wants us to take reading slow. He says not to push. He said with all couples he wants to have them read one chapter a month and take 70% of the time to talk and only 30% to read actually. He said it is less about reading than processing. He said the biggest issue he sees in almost every couple is the woman would go home and read the book in less than 24 hours and be done with it. The husband on he other hand does not want to read at all and drags his feet. So that is why he suggests/assigns it the way he does. And in my case he said do not give ultimatums since my husband has the mental health background. He said it is not worth it and he does have a different perspective.

    So it has been less than a month. He does not read every night like I would. But he has gotten through two chapters. He did not want to talk about them at first. But he started the other night. He opened up completely and was very genuine and really did process what he read. He looked at things from my perspective and his. He marked parts of the book. So I really felt progress. I back and forth on this. If I had held my husband to what I felt was the right way or my way of doing it I do not think he would have gotten the same from the reading. So I feel like for us giving some space and room as my therapist suggested was good. In general he says this has been good for us. I have set initial boundaries but then told him I was giving my husband time and space to almost prove himself. For example, I let him work though talking with me about going out with friends and follow up while out. Rather than track him down it was up to him to follow through. And he missed the mark several times but now we have worked through that. I totally agree in being upfront and firm on boundaries but for me they have taken shape for me and our marriage. Thanks for this!

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    1. H30,
      I must have missed the bit where you said it was your therapist assigning the reading. I think that's a big difference.
      It's when the betrayed partner is put into a position (or puts herself in a position) of having to monitor the other partner for whether or not he's following a request that, I think, it sets the betrayed partner up for more heartache. When we've been so deeply hurt by the betrayal, we think (rightfully!!) that our partner should do whatever we damn well ask. And, while he should, it doesn't necessarily come right away and when they drag their feet, it compounds our feelings of hurt, of feeling unvalued, etc.
      However, like I said, when it's a therapist asking, the dynamic is different.
      I'm glad your husband is doing the assigned reading. And I'm glad he's doing it in a way that isn't resentful...and that he's absorbing what's in the book. Thanks for clarifying that for me.

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    2. Well not 100% assigned by my therapist. What happened is my therapist said his ideal would be for my husband to do some work of his own whether that be reading or with a therapist. He did not want me to give him an ultimatum for either individual or marital therapy. But he felt he had a lot more to work on. He gets what he did in general terms and says the right things. But my therapist feels like there is more to deal with granted they have never met. But based on my knowledge and repeating what my husband says and his training and background.

      The reading came about because my husband and I were having a talk. I said I felt frustrated that I did not feel like he was doing "work" with me or himself that was deeper and beyond the day to day improvements. I felt like I was in marital therapy alone with my invisible husband. And all my therapist and I talk about each month is my husband or us. Granted it is helpful and it gives me the right way to state things to my husband. Which is good but starting to get unproductive. And after a year I do not have anything much to work on personally and am realizing he has a lot to work on.

      So my husband during this conversation said I made a lot of sense and he felt that he has done a lot of work and really thinking about it all but he would like to order some books and read through those. He felt like he could benefit and in turn us and me too. So that day he got on Amazon and ordered his books. Well exactly what you said I never saw him read them. I got some lame reason of he has no time to read books even for fun. Well this is not about fun. And he can read these at work if he has time keep in mind being a therapist. So I gave it a full week. I brought it up to him that I understand we might read things on a different time table but zero effort was not cutting it. So it is is either read these books or him or we find a therapist.

      So he started up the next night. I then met with my therapist and explained it all to him. So he gave me those suggestions and was happy that he came up with the reading on his own and went on to explain how he assigns it. And emphasized to give if time and my method of devouring a book is not what he would assign us if we were both seeing him. And he was happy with the first book he was reading.

      So sorry for the long explanation but not totally straight forward. It started out as a boundary issue. My goal was for him to do deeper work. We have gotten there. He has read two chapters in three weeks and like I said the discussion was very honest and insightful. The trick is will he continue forward progress. I am giving the space and focusing on me. All his other behaviors are great. I know reading the book he chose is hard for him. It should be he is facing who he is and what he did. For the one chapter he cried through it. Not sobbing or anything but wipping his eyes and same during our talk. I can see it is getting more to the core of all of this. It is hard and scary for both of us but needs to be done.

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  7. Has anyone else read the ESPN piece on Tiger Woods? My husband brought it up to me when we were discussing his most recent reading from the book he chose to read regarding affairs. I did not know it had even come out. It dives into many aspects of his life but a lot about his personality, upbringing, infidelities and unraveling of his career and marriage. Well my husband was explaining parts to me. Then he tells me that after reading it he feels there are similarities between them. He said of course on a different t level but enough that he felt he could relate in many ways. I was not sure how I felt about that. I read it today and I can see some similarities for sure. I am curious if anyone else read this and has discussed it with their husbands. What is interesting is my therapist never meeting my husband feels like growing up as a star athlete through college is a major reason why this happened. And boundary issues with others especially his dad. And wow this is a lot of what this article is about. I would love to hear anyone else's insights. We are going to be talking about this more together in the weeks to come.

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    1. H30,
      I think the article, unlike to many, really addresses the idea that the affairs weren't about sex. They were about a longing for...something. They were about repeating the past. They were about unresolved grief, fear, loneliness...an inability or unwillingness to get beneath those feelings and address them.
      I obviously don't know your husband's specifics but maybe he's just telling you that he felt similar feelings.

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  8. My husband is not a book reader (unless it's a Tom Clancy) nor is he a conversation starter regarding the affairs. In fact I've asked him to read books with me and then discuss....we have yet to do that and we are 4 years out. We have probably 5 we have started on over the years...something happens and we get off track....he will NOT take the initiative to say...."hey, we need to get back to this book" or whatever. If we have a conversation....I have to bring it up. We have gone months without speaking about his affairs, my feelings, how I am doing, how he is doing, what he struggles with, ...you name it. He was in a good recovery group; now that has disbanded. He has tried to get another group going with one of the other guys closer to where we live...but that is very hit and miss. Something or someone can't make it (including him) for whatever reason. My husband still works (he is 69) but the others are retired. He still works because his affairs pushed us almost over the edge financially, when everything was discovered. Big mess. He works hard and comes home and starts doing stuff around here...and then we have dinner...and then he will veg in front of the TV or FB. I don't push it...I just wait and wait and wait to see if he will be the initiator on a conversation other than what happens at work and what he did that day. (He is retired military, retired cop, retired PI and now works as a maintenance man for vacation properties). So....I will finally ask if we can talk...and he always says 'oh sure, absolutely'. We are not intimate anymore, and his excuse is my health... (I've had some serious issues) but there have been times in this 4 years that I've been healthy and ok...he's too tired or whatever....and frankly I don't push for intimacy because I'm at the point where I really don't care. Or maybe I DO care because it still hurts my feelings and makes me feel abandoned and uncared for, even tho....I still almost get nauseated knowing the sexual things he did with (a lot) of other women. I made the choice to forgive, and I have worked through that on a lot of levels. I don't erupt like a volcano, I don't cry myself to sleep very often at all anymore. I have forgiven him. I love him. I don't bring things up to shove in his face. I am not angry. I have grieved over my losses. But I am still sad. I wish he did not have to work so hard so we could go a few places and see our kids and grandkids, and do things we both enjoy. But we have this mountain of debt. The carnage of affairs can be strung out for years...and I hate that part. We have our 40th wedding anniversary in about a week. Nothing is planned...we can't afford anything... BUT, I have purposed to hold out hope, because God isn't finished with either of us, and God is faithful.

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    1. Barb
      I feel your pain from the affair may have lessened but the rawest pain is from his inability to be sexual with you regardless of your health. The cause of this may be due to his health. My h has used viagra for a number of years due to enlarge prostrate. I'm not sure of your health issues nor your h but suggest he have a check up. I get the actual cost of his affair left you in debt but if it is something you need for you I hope you can find a way to talk to him about it. My h has never been the one to bring up the affair for discussion as he is an extremely avoidant personality. He has returned to asking me how I feel and about my day. Pushing your feelings away just builds new resentment and l know how that feels as well. My h thought once it was out there that there was nothing more to say but he did have to realize what it was going to take to get back our happy. I'm praying for you for your health and your mental health! Hugs for the pain you continue to endure!

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    2. Barb, you sound like such a strong brave lady!! It sounds like you have worked really hard these last 4 years and don't forget that. Yes there are some issues that need addressing and maybe some joint therapy might be helpful ( if they provide free therapy in your area). It would be good to discuss the intimacy, do you cuddle, kiss or foreplay??.

      Im sorry for the financial hardship your in barb, please make sure you do something for your 40th anniversary that's a huge milestone for any couple let alone a couple who have had to fight betrayal. Spend the day/evening together go for a walk, watch the sun set, do something you both like together. You deserve it!!!

      Please keep in touch barb it's great to hear from you, Big hugs xxxx

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    3. Barb,
      It sounds like your husband is really depressed. Just from your post (my husband is retired military) your H is digging his way out of a hole he created. I learned in therapy how military guys are trained and that training does not work in the marriage. Although they take that training and try to apply it in a marriage. I had to learn how to give him orders, so to speak, be very specific. He responded. Military guys are very sensitive about talking about non-performance. So we have a military type briefing so to speak every Sunday. I have to initiate this every week. He recently said, it's your meeting you run the show. I thought yes, I'm the general this is important to me so let's talk. Here is what I learned. You have to ask for what you need - the orders be specific even down to the completion date. He is trained to hide his emotions because they can't do their job or make decisions if they are worried about feelings. My husband reminded me of a turtle just poking his head out a little bit at a time so he doesn't get it shot off. They tell the troops just what they need to know nothing more. The minimized. If troops knew the entire story then they might not reach their mission. I hope this is ringing a bell. You tolerate the adultery but you still sound sad. Not being intimate is the elephant in the room. Just come out ask him and don't let him blow you off with some excuse about somebody else. My husband had to learn how to show affection. Therapist said he probably never had sex with love. With him and me even it was just sex. He admitted this was correct. Start small. Could you give a bear hug and not let go until I say so? I would like you to open my car door all the time. Could you kiss me unexpected 2 times today? Can you pick some flowers and give them to me this week? It just doesn't come natural. Can you take a vacation at the vacation property for a night? I rented a hotel room one time at a sleazy hotel for two hours. It was clean just not very updated. Cost $30. Put his change in a jar until you get enough. I hate to sound like you need to initiate it all but it maybe the only way to get out of a circle of despair. One time I put white sheets on the couch. I gave him a pedicure and put a playboy under the cushions for him to read while he had his pedi. I lit candles, played spa music and put a red light bulb in the lamp. Cost was the magazine. My therapist made us plan date nights and not tell each other. His were not so sophisticated but still he had to plan something. Now I say can you plan a date night? Unfortunately I have to spell it out. Do I wish I didn't have to yes but that isn't the way it is. If that doesn't work nothing ever will. During these dates no cell or TV. My therapist used to give me questions to ask him while we were in the car, restaurant just to get him to start talking. For date night all I said was I want to eat dinner outside tonight. He did the rest, cooked, served and he did the dishes in the morning. One time we took a shower together and I lathered him up in strawberry woman scent. None of this cost extra. I'm so sorry you have to live in his mess. The dates nights were just for communication starters. It does get easier. we don't do anti-versary anymore. If someone says how long have you been married, I say I don't have a clue.

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    4. Barb I just want to add it took me minimum a year to understand this military stuff with lots of pain and anger. Thinking of you.

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    5. LynnPP
      Your reply to Barb touched my heart for you also described some of my h characteristics. He's never been military his dad was but he's an engineer and his brain is wired to complete projects and his affair started by his trying to rescue his dumsell in distress. I have to be very specific for my h to know what I expect and I suppose looking back I just always did that with out thinking! You may have given Barb as much insight as you have me! Thanks! And hugs to each of us still trudging forward!

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    6. Great advice Llp : ) your so right in that sometimes we just have to state the obvious out to them. Xx

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    7. Barb,
      What Lynn Less Pain wrote really resonated for me too. I'm sure military/police-type guys are the extreme end but I think for men in general, they struggle with the abstract stuff that a lot of self-help books address. I think Lynn's idea about approaching your husband on his comfort level (ie. "orders") makes a lot of sense.
      I think, too, that Theresa's point that there's still a lot of hurt there around the lack of intimacy is important too. There are many ways to be intimate that do no involve intercourse. Is there affection in your marriage? Can he just hold you? Look in your eyes? Perhaps, as Lynn suggests, you need to be specific and pointed when you talk with him about this stuff.
      It sounds as if there's some good that has come out the past four years. But just because you're not as devastated as you were doesn't mean you have to put up with where you are now. Sometimes we need to just stop and take a breather and no work on improving anything. I get that. But sometimes we just don't work on our marriages because we feel defeated. And that's not where you need to stay.

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  9. My H agreed to my boundaries and then blew right through them - agreed to them, and blew through then....repeat ad nauseum. His word was as worthless as my boundaries.
    I don't know what it's like to have a partner who respects your boundaries, but if you've got one, then yeah, that's worth fighting for. If not, then don't let it slide, folks. It's nothing but untold heartache for you.

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    1. You are so right. Boundaries were really hard for a long time. And it was cutting corners for me. Not totally ingnoring them. I was relentless and stood my ground. Each time I found a new way to explain them to him. His behavior was so different and improved so much he thought that was enough. But I held strong on what I needed. It took a year past dday for some of the simpilist boundaries to be followed. Finally he got it. I do feel like I cannot rest easy or back down. I know this will all evolve. I have found for me I need to say exactly what I need and expect from him in exact detail. Then I am not let down and he is not confused. It is hard especially after 25 years of doing things one way.

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    2. Phoenix it's good to hear from you, how's things? Xx

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  10. Im h starts a new job soon ... further away im requesting check ins making my boundries know and also mentioning my fears ... he has voiced some of his own too ... i hope this is good for him .. us ... me and doesnt put me on edge or give me anxiety or worry ... i hope he follows thru it will take effort from us both. Exciting for a new chapter ... but reserved too ... i know no guarantees and i cant lock him away or keep him under my thumb forever .. i have hope .. the rest is what it is part by fate part by choices he and i make ... i can only control me ... approaching 1 year mark ... making strides for connection .. commitment and remembering to also take care of me along the way.

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  11. This is me 12 weeks in to finding out my husband of 30 years cheated on me with two OW. I was that nice person never stopped him doing anything ever, only ever being nice to him of course you can do that I don't mind but deep down I did. I resented his freedom the freedom of working away and not having the responsibility of a true family life. I moved across the world for his job and this is how he repaid me. I'm broken and damaged by his actions and need boundaries to even begin my healing process. I'm trying to work on this but it's still so painful.

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  12. Anonymous,

    I can relate with you in many ways. My husband of over 20 years and 25 years of being together had two affairs over 10 years. Also there were women via im'ing and maybe some pornograohy issues. Still working it out.

    I am over a year out from the first dday. This has been the best place for me to come for many reasons. Lots of good info here and also a great place to feel like you are not all alone.

    A major struggle for me has been that I was the one to sacrifice for his career and I had those same feelings of I did all that for you. And this is what you did. It has been a lot of work over the past year. But I can say so far it is worth it. Every day is not great or perfect but things are so much better. My marriage is better than I could imagine, we still have lots to work on. And everything is not perfect. But our level of connection and openness is something I never knew was possible. We talk about everything and I finally feel like we are here for each other.

    Take care of yourself and be patient.

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  13. It's wonderful to know that I'm not crazy. The information I received from all of you has confirmed that I am really not alone in my feelings. My husband of currently 20 years cheated on me 3 years ago with a co-worker. He lied to me for 9 months about working late, it wasnt all the time, but it was often enough. I finally caught on and asked him if he was cheating on me? After a good night rest he eventually responded "What do you want to know?" Then proceeded to say nothing for days until I began yelling and had to pull everything out of him. Then began my investigation, I even went to the office where she works. He drove to another building when I told him I was around the corner, leaving her alone to deal
    with me alone. I didn't do anything I just wanted her to know that I knew who she was. I have always felt disgusted by his actions that day, what a coward! I feel like he has shown me his true stripes. I am not in love but still love him, we are still raising one & one in college. Since then we've decided to reconcile, we have gone to couples counseling, me to a private therapist, and he nothing. It was one of the boundaries that he still ignores. I like the phrase you wrote Elle, "you never get over it, you get through it. Every now and again I read something here I hadn't read before and I feel stronger, not angry, just supported.

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  14. I am so glad to bump into this place. I am 32 and I found out that my husband of 5 years has been cheating on me on and off for 4 freaking years! We got married at 27 and that was when he started on having one night stands with random women over the internet. I was dumbstruck and totally disgusted. He is my first ever man and I cant believe he is a total dickhead.
    I chose to forgive but I never forget. I got really suspicious and anxious whenever he is not around with me at home. I hate myself for being a total psychotic woman. He thinks I am such a bully by monitoring him but I am dying inside! I hate living a life like this.

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    1. Morga,
      We don't heal by "forgiving" and then moving on. In order to truly heal from betrayal (which means we don't feel like "psychotic women"), you need to rebuild a marriage from the ruins of the first one. Your husband needs to understand just how profoundly he hurt you and how HE is the one who created an environment of mistrust by, well, being untrustworthy. He violated your marriage vows. He showed you that he can't be trusted. I'm curious what he's doing to figure out why he cheated on you and how to ensure he never does it again. Nobody behaves like that without having some sort of issue driving them to it -- he needs to understand what that is. Does he use sex as a distraction? Does he have sexual proclivities that he's ashamed to share with you? Whatever it is, he needs to deal with it in order to be able to assure you, honestly, that he's doing everything he can to ensure he doesn't go down that path again.
      Your healing is your responsibility, assuming he's at least supporting you in your pain and extending compassion to you and total remorse. What are you doing to help yourself heal. Do you have a therapist? Could you find someone to talk to? Do you have supportive friends? Of course, you can share on this site too -- there are so many women who know exactly what you're going through.
      You won't ever "forget" but you can get to a place where it no longer causes you pain. You can get to a place where your marriage feels more solid, where you're both stronger for the storm you weathered. It takes time and it takes hard work. But you can get there.

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