The 7 Words That Scare the Crap Out of Me

bad newsLinda and I have come a long way over the last two and a half years in our emotional affair recovery process.  We seem to be doing all the right things.  We get along great.  We communicate well.  She has forgiven herself and me.  She trusts herself and she trusts me.  But yet every now and then something triggers feelings in Linda that take her back as if my emotional affair happened just yesterday.

When this happens she often will utter a phrase that quite frankly scares me to death…”I don’t think I can do this.”

It makes me afraid that she would want to give up and leave. Thankfully, this rarely occurs anymore, but when it does I can’t help but be concerned.  Thankfully too, is that this emotional state rarely lasts for more than a day.  Linda is a strong woman, but some days are just bad.

Take this past weekend for example.  On all accounts we had a great weekend together.  Our daughters were involved in a weekend soccer tournament and spent some time hanging with their friends as well.  When not watching our girls play soccer, Linda and I had some alone time which we spent a portion of in the bedroom.  We also spent a few hours alone together talking while downing several of our favorite beverages at a local pub.  Finally, since it was such a nice day on Sunday, we spent some much needed time together working out in the yard for several hours.

All in all, we were doing many of the things we want to do as parents – and as a couple.  Yet after it was all said and done, Sunday evening something triggered a reaction in Linda where she became depressed and discouraged. Out of nowhere she started asking me questions about Tanya.

Linda at times still feels that my perceptions of Tanya are those of how they were when my emotional affair first began.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  As a result, Linda feels that she has to do everything she can to live up to those perceptions.  It’s the old comparing herself to the other woman, thing. 

She knows she does it. She also doesn’t know why she does it.  In my opinion it is probably the last remaining hurdle that she must overcome.

It’s hard for her at times, and I understand that.  There will be setbacks in her affair recovery from time to time.  That’s OK.  They are becoming less and less as time goes on. 

I’m sure at some point in the future, though she will remember the emotional affair and the profound effect it has had on her (and us), these triggered relapses will happen less and less. When they do occur, their effect on her will diminish as well.

I know that many of you experienced your affair discovery not all that long ago, and the pain and trauma are immense right now.   With help from your spouse, you can recover.  Stay strong.  Keep the faith.  Arm yourself with knowledge.  Have a strategy to effectively use that knowledge. 

Know that with time the pain can lessen and your marriage can evolve into something much better than it ever was. Try to convince yourself that you CAN do this.

 

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46 Responses to The 7 Words That Scare the Crap Out of Me

  1. anaffairtoremember April 5, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    Doug,
    I think we all have those words in us, mine are usually “I’m done” and they tend to surface when something, out of nowhere, triggers something inside us and the sadness and anger just surface and I just feel like I cannot even try anymore. I think that’s pretty normal. One thing you said really struck me though and that is that Linda compares herself to the other woman. I think maybe we all at one time compare ourselves to what we think attracted you to that person and that is completely normal. But there is nothing about my “other woman” that I want to be like. When I think about the other woman, the only thoughts I have is what a manipulator she was. My “other woman” has passed away and I remember reading all these posts from people she knew saying what a great person she was, and all I could think was “what a FRAUD”! She was nothing like what these people thought. It made me realize that nobody really knew the real person, she just put all these perceptions and manipulations out there so that she might be seen as this or that, when in reality I wonder if she even knew who she really was. Like she was constantly trying to be an image – maybe the real dark person inside needed it to be that way. Anyway, my point is that I think the betrayed will continue to wonder if after time, especially after long periods of no longer talking about her, we wonder if your perceptions of the woman are the same or not. Have you gone back to thinking fond memories of your time together or do you still see this person for the fantasy they created for you. Personally I think we still need to periodically hear and be re-assured that you realize that the person you thought you knew, never existed.
    Just my thoughts!

    • Doug April 5, 2011 at 10:53 am #

      Anaffairtoremember, Thanks for the comment. I agree with what you say, and trust me, I remind Linda all the time that Tanya wasn’t the person I thought I knew.

  2. Norwegian woman April 5, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    I have had a though day, and driving home from work my thoughts was about how hard it is. Why bother? It`s going to hell anyways…… He is just putting up a play, he probably really doesn`t love me at all, how could he, the way he treated me and so on. I get so sick and tired of these days……. It feels like I am griefing over what I have lost. My innocense, my trust, my security, my self-esteem….. and it feels like those feelings will never come around anymore. And I too just want to say to him : I can`t do it anymore. Let`s just move on and leave each other in peace.
    But I will probably feel different tomorrow…..
    It`s hard being in a roller coaster… I want it to stop.

  3. Melvin April 5, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    Doug,

    First off, thanks for running this blog and keeping it fresh for all these years. I have gained a lot of insight, advice and just plain old identifying with the same feelings that others have experienced.

    Our marriage of 23 years was rocked when my wife had an EA with her ex-fiancé from college. Thank you very little Facebook for reconnecting them. We are 2 months beyond the exposure. He broke up with her on Valentine’s day in college, 5 months before their wedding. A Facebook connection a year ago, an e-mail here, texts and phone calls there and two face-to-face meetings where they kissed after the 2nd. I only knew upfront of the first meeting and I reluctantly approved (what a mistake). She pushed the EA, chased him, initiated most of the relationship, doing it to feel better about herself. Why she didn’t turn to her other girl friends for a warm shoulder is beyond me. They are no longer contacting each other and with her agreement, her phone is blocked from him. I am still struggling to accept this. We are both seeing separate counseling with mixed results. My biggest problem is trusting her again. I have gotten conflicting answers to my questions. I have had to push her to get her to admit to certain behaviors and feelings. She hid so much during and also at the beginning of the exposure – I believe she is still hiding more. I still can’t get her to tell me how she feels about this man during and now.

    How do start to rebuild my trust in her ?

    I should mention not all is bad. We are well on our way of restoring our marriage for the better. On Linda’s “16 Ways to Reinvent Your Marriage, June 10, 2010”, my wife on her own checked all 16 as being accomplished already.

    Thank you again – this forum has been a godsend.

    • Doug April 5, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

      Melvin, Thank you for the kind words. At times it seems this blog can do more harm then good to our relationship, but for the most part it has been extremely therapeutic for Linda and I. We’re happy that it can help others as well.

      You are not alone in struggling with trust. In a recent poll we conducted http://www.emotionalaffair.org/affair-recovery-survey-results/ , trust was by far the element that most readers are still struggling with. We are in the process of putting our book together on this very important topic.

      First you need to open yourself up to allowing yourself to trust again without skepticism. Tell her what she must do. Give her a road map. She must prove she’s committed to you, she must change her behaviors and she needs to be patient, as trust comes with time.

  4. mil April 5, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    Doug, what on earth has Linda got to forgive herself for and trust herself again for???
    Also you said Linda has feelings as if your EA happened just yesterday. You, like my H seem to think that time will make the EA less significant and he finds it hard to understand why most of the time it is still as raw as ever (after about 2 years).
    Whether it happened yesterday or years ago makes no difference, the only thing that maybe does is that the CS has had more time to try and convince the BS that they made a terrible mistake and do everything they can to try and put things right. Truth is, it can never be put right.
    I can’t see myself or Linda or any other BS ever being able to get over the devastation caused.

    • Doug April 5, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

      Mil, Maybe this will answer your questions… and I’m going to warn you, I’m going to get pissy with you.

      In Linda’s own words in her post: http://www.emotionalaffair.org/my-process-for-forgiving-the-emotional-affair/
      Forgive yourself. This is almost an entire process by itself. For me it was about forgiving myself for what went on in our marriage before the affair, and then for how I handled things after the affair. I took a lot of the blame for the affair and beat myself up about it as a result. Becoming educated about affairs and practicing honest communication is essential.”

      In Linda’s own words from our book on trust that we’re working on: “I lost trust in myself because the implications of the betrayal and the affair caused me to lose balance in my life and everything that I had believed that I was. It affected me because I was afraid to make any decisions of any kind because I felt that it wouldn’t be right.
      I used to feel very confident as a mother, a wife, a teacher, a person. After the affair, I started questioning everything that I was doing, as simple as cleaning the house every week.”

      I never said that time will make the affair less significant. But time should help to ease the effect of the pain the affair caused. Every book I’ve read on affairs will tell you this.

      And though the affair can never be put right, a CS sure as hell can make amends, be forgiven, be trusted and go on to work at making his marriage better than it was previously. You can’t tell me that this isn’t true, because that’s what we have done. You just don’t want to believe it.

      • karen April 5, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

        I second your comments, Doug, as a BS. You absolutely must forgive and trust yourself again as a BS – still working on the trust part going forward. And my CS and I are a second example of your statement: “And though the affair can never be put right, a CS sure as hell can make amends, be forgiven, be trusted and go on to work at making his marriage better than it was previously.”

        Mil, I read your posts and agree with the pain and anger behind them, but you’re only hurting yourself by staying “stuck” in your anger and pain and “flaming” Doug. Can’t remember if your CS is doing the things Doug and my CS are doing to work on our marriages – if so, then be thankful and move forward. I agree it’s never enough, but then I and Linda and you are not perfect either. My best to you.

        • Doug April 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

          Thanks Karen and Morrigan for chiming in. I think many are under the misconception that trust and forgiveness are only for the BS to dish out to the CS, when in fact it is imperative for healing that the BS forgives and trusts herself/himself as well –probably BEFORE they work on trusting and forgiving the CS.

      • Morrigan April 5, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

        I also second your comments Doug. Truth is, I love my spouse, I think we all do, I would not have stayed with him 14 years if not, I would not be willing to work on this if not, or else, why are we here. Although this happened, its imperative to not get stuck, one must learn, make changes, learn some more, no matter what the outcome. Therefore, I must forgive him, to help us, to help myself. I hate not trusting him fully, but I must give him time to prove. I said it a week ago but my issues right now are trusting myself, and they are in forgiving myself too. I truly regret the way I acted when he told me, HE TOLD ME, he tried to have open communication and I scared him with the way I acted, now he’s too afraid to talk. For this reason and others I understand why I need to forgive myself.

  5. Melvin April 5, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    Thank you again. Your openness in your experiences and knowledge has been a big help to me.

    I truly want to trust her again. My hope is that I get there someday. I do know it takes time, being patient is tough for me. She has made strides to meet me halfway on my needs and in making behavior changes. She is committed to me, that is clear. The real problem is, she considers this issue done and over with. He called her at her office days after the phone block and she basically told him goodbye. The book has been closed in her mind. It has been a real struggle getting her to open up and talk about it, to provide consistent answers that I need. Not so much details anymore but truly how she felt, then and now. I believe some of it is she is hiding stuff to not hurt/embarrass herself.

    Can you explain what you mean by “BS forgives and trusts herself/himself as well –probably BEFORE they work on trusting and forgiving the CS” ????

    • Doug April 5, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

      Melvin, I too was hesitant to open up, and when I did, it was in bits and pieces. Eventually I got past that, mainly because Linda provided a safe environment for discussions. Safe from judgment and confrontation. If one feels safe, they will open up more.

      That statement means that before a betrayed spouse can progress to the point where they can trust and forgive their cheating spouse, they need to first forgive and trust themselves. Trust that it’s OK to make mistakes in their relationship, that they can make good decisions, to become consciously competent, have self-confidence, etc. And then forgive themselves for any contribution they may have had to the deterioration of the marriage in the first place. And in Linda’s case, to forgive herself for how she felt she handled the aftermath of the affair.

  6. Melvin April 5, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    Thank you Doug, your explanation makes perfect sense.

    I need to be aware of keeping our communication paths safe. She knows she needs to be more open with me (a reason for her cheating from the start). And she is trying. However, it is always me initiating the conversation. I wish she would just pull me aside sometime and start a dialogue on the topic.

  7. mil April 5, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    Sorry, I know you are only trying to help Doug but as the CS how can you really??

    • Doug April 5, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

      Mil, I can help a lot. Open your mind. I’ve lived it. I talk to Linda daily about this stuff and she tells me her feelings and perspectives constantly. We participate weekly in the Affair Recovery Group. I read. I’ve researched all kinds of stuff. I’ve talked to countless infidelity and marriage experts. I interact with other people on this blog on an almost daily basis. I can give a CS’s point of view. Do you need anymore? The question should be…what are you doing to help yourself? Take Karen’s words to heart and maybe you will see some progress.

  8. Jenn April 5, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    Mil, it sounds to me like you would benefit by working on forgiving your CS. I am now 9 months past the end of my husband’s EA, and things are really good now. NOT perfect, and I still have triggres, but time has truly begun to heal what was severed. Even as soon as 4 weeks ago, I was thinking about leaving when I stopped top think of all he put me and our family through.
    But he’s trying.
    He’s showing me that he is devoted to me and my happiness, he has become so much more attentive and caring, and it seems like he puts my needs above his own now, which is something he never did before the EA. I had to work on things myself, the main one being forgiveness. This is a debt your husband can never repay, yet it seems like you have already given him a life sentence. Please forgive me if this is wrong, but I hope that after 2 years have passed, I will not be anywhere close to the same raw feelings I had when I first found out. Forgiveness is the key, but only after the CS has truly given up their affair partner, become an open book, and shown the betrayed spouse where their devotion lies.
    Best wishes to everyone, it can get better. It’s not easy, but it is possible.

  9. Vanessa April 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    How do you not get stuck and move on? That is something I am struggling wih. My husband and I have been making many efforts in our marriage to move on and make it better but there are many days I get stuck and I am done. I just have so many unanswered questions and doubts that they eat away at me. My mind wonders and I think the worse. I truly want to move on and feel good about myself and my marriage but it is just so hard some days.

  10. Emotionalwreck April 5, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    I’ve been reading this blog for several weeks now, seeing I’m not alone is helping tremendously. My H had an EA two years ago. It was before I ever heard the phrase. She was his coworker, they were put together on a project and just hit it off. He was honest with me about the time they were spending together on breaks, rides home, talking on the phone; I had a bad feeling in my gut that I should have trusted. One day she told him she loved him. He was “freaked out” came home and told me all about it. He let me say I told you so. He promised to avoid her and cutoff all contact. Now I find out no contact lasted two months. They’ve been dating for two years now. He says he loves her, that she’s the woman for him. The OW is married too. She has kids, we have kids, it seems to me they don’t care about anybody but themselves. I went to his work outings while everyone he worked with knew. I feel like such a fool! What must be said behind my back. How could I not know? Late nights at work, early mornings, hiding his phone, browser history deleted. He would come home smelling like smoke. She smokes and he HATES smoking. Why is ok for her to smoke? I found out by catching them together. Her H doesn’t know and my H won’t tell me where she lives. I’m going to tell her H-she’s not ruining my life without going down with me. I just want to know, do you think I’m doing the right thing? I want to stay with my H, keep my family together, and get her out of our lives. I want him to find a new job and cut her out forever. Plus if her H is told, that should keep her busy with her own life. So, any thoughts and input would be appreciated. I know I’m reacting very emotionally right now and don’t want to push my H further away than he already is.

    • Jenn April 6, 2011 at 7:31 am #

      Emotionalwreck, the one thing that started the beginning of the end of my husband’s affair was when I told the OW’s husband. Be sure you have proof–phone records, emails, etc… that you can hand over. Also, prepare for things to get worse. Because I told her husband, my husband got more angry with me “trying to ruin his happiness” and I was called by the OW on many occasions–she was trying to continue to fool me.

      Once her husband was involved, it snapped them both (my husband and the OW) back into reality. I have no idea if they made it or got divorced, nor do I care, but I want you to know that my husband & I are making it. It is NOT easy and it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to go through in my life, but there is light at the end of the tunnel–I can see it, and I can feel it. My husband is back, and it was because of my efforts to not give up on us.
      Put on some armor, and brace yourself for a fight, but know that it’s not an impossible fight. My husband can look back now and see what he did to me and our children, and he breaks down sometimes knowing he almost ruined the life we had built together.
      Best wishes to you, and try to be strong for yourself. It’s not a hopeless situation, although it may feel that way. This blog is a wonderful resource, but I’m happy to say I don’t have to visit it as often as I used to.

    • Jenn April 6, 2011 at 7:34 am #

      One more thing–I didn’t tell my husband or the OW that I was going to tell her husband. They probably wouldn’t have believed it anyway. I was able to find his information on Facebook, and I sent him a message that I had some information he needed to know about his wife and my husband. He called me an hour later, I got his email, and forwarded everything I had.

      • Diana April 6, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

        Jenn,

        I wish I had had the courage to do what you are doing. My husband told me if I caused problems for her (the OW), it would cause problems for us. Like we didn’t already have a big problem! His loyalty to and protection of her instead of to me and our marriage is still so painful.

        I hope everything works out for you and your husband comes to his senses.

  11. J April 6, 2011 at 12:33 am #

    It’s been six months and some days things seem so much better but I pretty much spent the whole day crying because my fiance was telling me this morning that because his infidelity was carrying on relationships that were already going on when we got together, it’s not as bad as someone who is faithful then cheats. He doesn’t understand at all how minimizing his infidelity makes me feel. Days like this make me feel like I can’t do it anymore, but there is nowhere to go to get away from this pain and hurt. I feel like I can’t do it anymore if he can’t understand how much this hurt me, and that none of the details justify it or make it less hurtful.

    • Doug April 6, 2011 at 9:33 am #

      J., I’m sorry you’re going though this. You’re right though…until he recognizes what he has done, and doesn’t minimize his affair, it will be tough to forgive and to trust.

  12. mil April 6, 2011 at 5:56 am #

    Thanks Doug, but do you agree that the BS will never have complete peace of mind whereas the CS knows the whole truth and so hasn’t got to spend the rest of their life wondering and questioning?
    Also, do you think it’s possible that the guilt the CS feels might be more painful than the feeling of betrayal of the BS? I think that if I’d cheated on my H I couldn’t look myself in the mirror, I couldn’t bear to see him in the pain I’ve suffered.
    One last thing, do you regret your EA or do you just regret being caught because if Linda had never found out all this pain would never have happened. Would you have confessed of your own accord?

    • Doug April 6, 2011 at 9:31 am #

      Mil, Sure, I suppose that it’s possible that a BS will never have peace of mind. Anything is possible. At the same time the opposite is also true and they can move on and have a super strong marriage, with peace of mind.

      I also think it is possible for the CS to experience guilt that is more painful than the feeling of betrayal of the BS. However, in our case, I know that not to be the case. I do feel a tremendous amount of guilt, but I don’t feel that it compares to the pain that Linda has gone through. And for that, I feel more guilt. I venture to guess with most affair situations, the BS’s pain far outweighs the guilt that the CS feels, but then I hate to generalize.

      Your final question is a tough one since it didn’t happen that way. Looking back at it now, and based on what I know now – about affairs, about commitment and about Tanya – I’d have to say that if I was never caught, that I would indeed still regret the affair, and I believe the guilt would have been enough for me that I would have told Linda.

      That being said, if I was the same person I was then- selfish, ignorant to affairs, etc. I doubt I would have confessed. I wouldn’t want to see Linda in pain, nor would I have wanted to deal with the fallout it would have caused.

      • mil April 6, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

        Thank you Doug for your very succinct reply.

  13. Melvin April 6, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    Vanessa,
    I have the same issue – too many unanswered questions and doubts. My wife “closed the book” on her EA after she had a final phone conversation with him a week after I confronted her. She is done discussing it. My book is still open with unfinished chapters. We are just 2 months beyond the EA. I’ve tried many different forms of communication (text, face-to-face, even a written letter). She gets defensive when I bring up the subject or ask questions.
    All I can say is that I feel your pain.

  14. Morrigan April 6, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    Doug, I think this statement you contributed is so very important;

    “Trust that it’s OK to make mistakes in their relationship,”

    Part of getting past this is accepting and understanding that my spouse is not perfect. And although I had accepted some other character flaws, this one was one that I completely, utterly, believed he could not fall to. But he admitted he was weak. He is not perfect. I had already been dealing with Port Dramatic Stress when it all happened. He and I had lost everything in an explosion, we were rebuilding our lives, and that takes a long time, I had also lost a dear friend and had 2 surgeries. So I believe I responded to what happened very badly and made an unsafe place to discuss the affair.

    He confessed to me, I had no idea, and I know he has a great deal of guilt, i believe that both the guilt and my past reactions prevent him from discussing it and he just wants to move on. Also, he made NC and shut that door, therefore its done and he feels we should move forward.

    I can say this, everyone goes through different things in life. For me, I have lost loved ones close to me, I have lived through fierce disasters where I have lost everything, I have had a total of 3 surgeries in 3 years. I cared for a loved one with a chronic illness for 2 years. Nothing in my life has compared to the pain I experienced during his 2 month affair, nothing. I find that strange to me…I do believe he feels terrible, I saw how tormented he was after he told me up until he made NC, but I don’t think he will ever understand the pain he caused me. And right now I am not sure that he needs to, in some ways I feel like its my problem because he made a choice, he chose us. i have to learn from that pain like I did other experiences in life and realize, I am still here, and there is still a lot to love, be grateful and happy for and enjoy in life.

    Sorry for that rant, but it was a bit therapeutic. And thank you Doug, I find it incredibly helpful to know your point of view.

    • Doug April 6, 2011 at 9:58 am #

      Morrigan and Melvin, This may be repetitive, and if so, I apologize…but I cannot express how important it is to create a safe environment for communication if you want your spouses to discuss the affair, but at the same time, you need to be firm in that you will not just let it go until your questions are answered. That’s exactly what Linda did. And to this day, 2 and a half years later, she still has questions. But since she has created a safe environment – no arguing, no judging, no disrespect or ridicule, etc – I have no problem answering them (though at times I get frustrated). It’s a discussion, not an interrogation.

      The CS doesn’t want to talk about the affair for various reasons – mostly for their own pain avoidance. If you make the whole experience less painful for them, they will start to talk. If not, then you can always try booze! 😉

      You may want to read this post: http://www.emotionalaffair.org/8-communication-don%E2%80%99ts-after-the-affair/ I wrote it after a bad communication experience, but it might help.

  15. Morrigan April 6, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Doug and Linda,

    Do you think it is possible to move forward in our relationship without him talking more about it? I pretty much now most everything i need to know about their relationship, but find I have more questions. He is unwilling to talk about it. I struggle with letting it go at this point as I don’t want to dwell either and feel like its not living in the now. So, can progress be made, can we work toward a stronger relationship without having him be an open book about what happened? Linda, did you need Doug to be so open to conversations concerning the EA and Doug, could you have come tot he same place now if you had buried it and dealt with your issues alone?

    • Doug April 6, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

      Morrigan, I’ll let Linda tackle the question about moving forward without talking about it. Just curious though, what kinds of questions do you still have? Feeling and emotion type questions? I think that you can move on without knowing every dirty detail about the affair, but I think it’s important for the future of your marriage that you understand the underlying reasons for his actions. Mainly so you both can work to improve upon the weaknesses that exist – both personally and with your relationship. (Geesh, I went ahead and answered it anyways)

      I don’t think I could have got to where I am now without discussing things. Like you said, if you don’t talk about it, it gets buried and forgotten, and no improvements or personal growth can take place. I’ve learned a lot about myself and our relationship (both then and now) as a result.

      • Morrigan April 6, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

        Doug,

        I think I understand the underlying reasons it all happened, for the most part. But, I want to know he recognizes what those reasons were. He hasn’t said anything about it or his feelings since last July. He has rarely, in 14 years, talked about his emotions. He had a very horrible upbringing and has struggled to let anyone get close to him throughout life. In July, a month after he told me of it all, he was struggling with everything and said that he needed to get his life in order, that I was the only person he trusts, the only person he cares about losing in his life, and the only positive person in his life, and I believe him. Even though in the fog, I know his past and how hard it is for him to let anyone “in”, and I am “in”, and sadly, I am really the only person “in”. I believe he is shutting down partially because he needs to protect himself, as he has had to do his entire life both physically and emotionally, I believe he is ashamed because he was weak among many other feelings he is having.

        So, yes I wish he would go to and IC. He has tried in the past and this snowballed and he is unwilling now. What I want is to live in the now, today, and work in a positive way for my future. But I too walk on eggshells when trying to talk about feelings with him. I am always willing, but he can be quite defensive and will shut right down or cause an arguement. So I’m not sure if he needs more time to mull within himself? The longer I wait I feel I am missing opportunities to have quality discussions about what he was feeling, is feeling etc, so we can move forward. Not sure any of this makes a lot of sense, but thank you for listening!!

        • Doug April 6, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

          Morrigan, What you say makes sense. I was going to suggest counseling, but I assume that is what you mean by IC. It seems that getting most men to open up can be a challenge under normal circumstances, so I can see based on his history, where he would have a problem. His shutting down or starting an argument is a defense/avoidance mechanism. At least it sounds as though this whole thing has made him recommit to you.

          I’m struggling with ideas here to help you with, but one thing that Linda did was to first recite her understanding of the reasons why I did what I did, and then ask me for confirmation of that understanding. If it was inaccurate, I would expand on it and end up talking about it more. Kind of tricky, and I don’t know if Linda intended it that way, but it worked. Be careful too of the way you initiate these discussions. In other words, don’t just start firing off questions in the middle of dinner or when he gets home from work. Start off with something like…”I need help with something I’m having a hard time understanding…? Make it safe, make it short (unless he wants to continue), and approach it as if he’s helping you.

          With all this being said, if he’s doing all the right things, and you guys are making progress day by day, then perhaps he does know the reasons why it happened, and he is just internalizing them. That is something we men tend to do.

  16. Melvin April 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    Thanks again Doug, booze it is (just kidding). Another great post for future reference (8 Don’t’s….). This one I’m saving. I am guilty of two of the 8 don’t’s, that I know. Certainly need to be cognizant of these. I must say it becomes very frustrating when I ask a pointed question and get an answer to different question. Or I get an answer that conflicts with other facts she provided. To get her to open up and give me her feelings is very difficult for her. It’s like I’m walking on egg shells sometimes when we talk about her feelings. She is very protective to hide them. Some facts she admits she can’t remember.
    Another question ? Do you think it would be beneficial if I gave her a list of questions to answer on her own time ? Or is face-to-face still the best way to discuss the affair ? I do believe if I gave her a list, it would collect dust somewhere.

    • Doug April 6, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

      Melvin, Yes I imagine that her avoiding answering your questions can be frustrating. Has she always been so protective of her feelings, or just since the affair? I too can’t remember many facts of the affair. In fact I wrote a post about it. If you haven’t already read it, perhaps this might shed some light: http://www.emotionalaffair.org/why-cant-i-remember-things-after-the-affair/

      Giving her a list could work. Maybe one question once or twice a week would be better. Some people feel better expressing themselves in writing as opposed to verbally. I think if you try that though, you should make it a point to discuss her answers after the fact. This way you can better understand and clarify anything you feel needs to be clarified.

  17. Robin April 6, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    Melvin – My husband was doing many of the same things as your wife – and he had always been very open about his feelings in the past. Some of it was because he was still hiding information from me and some of it was just because he was so ashamed and hurt that he had done such a thing – and talking about it made him face it. One of the turning points for us was when he read Linda J. MacDonald’s “How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair: A Compact Manual for the Unfaithful”. He said that he realized that he had been making every mistake outlined in the book and he recommitted to caring more about helping me feel normal again than about protecting his own feelings.

    I do think that you have to learn to trust yourself in order to redevelop trust in your spouse. I was so blindsided when I found out about the affair that it almost felt like I didn’t know truth from reality. We went through that phase where I believed that the affair was my fault because I wasn’t meeting his needs – and then when it seemed like I had been mistaken about our entire relationship. When I stopped reacting and starting looking at our actual relationship – the when and where and why of OUR relationship, I started to feel more grounded and was able to ask questions that got my husband thinking about the truth of our relationship. I feel lucky that he told me about the affair and initiated no contact at the same time, but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t still justifying it and holding on to a version of our relationship and of his relationship with the OP that made it easier for him to look in the mirror! Really answering specific questions – were you unhappy on this vacation, what about this holiday, what about when we did this…really seemed to help him remember our actual relationship, instead of the one he had constructed in his head to justify the affair. For me, because he initially discounted all of the things I thought I knew about our marriage, it took me 9 or ten months to trust my own instincts and sense of reality. Anne Bercht tells a story in her book about her first conversation with her pastor, in which he gently tried to prepare for the possibility that her husband had conceived a child with the OP – and that it took her a week to remember that her husband had had a vasectomy and could not have conceived a child!

    • Melvin April 11, 2011 at 9:07 am #

      Hi Robin,
      I think I am getting what you mean about trusting yourself. It does sometimes feel like I am picking myself off the floor from a knockout in a title fight. What is up is down and vice versa.

      Hey, I did receive that Compact Manual Friday and read it cover-to-cover twice. I gave it to DW yesterday, she was reading it while on our treadmill. I’m starting to see signs that she is “getting it”, as the manual calls out. Thanks again for the help and best to you on your journey.

  18. Melvin April 6, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    Hi Robin, Doug,
    Thanks both for your insight and reply. To answer your question, she has always been protective of negative feelings and thoughts. A trait of hers that I like is that she doesn’t dwell on the negative very much. I wish she didn’t have that trait now. Any problems or negative thoughts bury them, don’t face them. When I try to get her to tell me her feelings about him, the affair, why she did this or that, I can’t get a straight answer (if at all). Is she really over with him or is she just taking a time-out ? I did read the post on “Why I can’t remember….”. I do believe she has forgotten some details. When she tells me about a sexual comment he made, I ask her what was her reply and I get “I don’t remember”. Does she really not know or are is she hiding ?

    On a whim, I just ordered the book Robin recommended, should be in my hands Friday. I’ll take a look at it this weekend before I give it to her.

    What do you mean by trusting yourself ? I do know that I’ve made fundamental changes in my behavior and my free-time commitments since the EA. I’ve re-committed that spare time to her and us. She is super happy about us – I know because I ask daily how she is doing. And she tells me when she is feeling good, which tends to coincide with a long gap between EA discussions. Then again, her book is closed.

    • Doug April 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

      Melvin, Interesting. I have those same traits as your wife.

      Trusting yourself: Trust that it’s OK to make mistakes in your relationship, that you can make good decisions, to become consciously competent, have self-confidence, etc. When Linda lost trust, she also lost it in herself. ie; Was she capable of making good decisions? Did she do this right or wrong? Has our whole marriage been a sham? etc. The affair rocked her to the core and she lost all trust (in me, herself and others) and self-confidence.

    • Robin April 6, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

      Melvin, I mean that I had to actually learn to trust my own instincts and perceptions. A part of my husband’s “affair fog” was the belief that our relationship had become so disconnected and unhappy that he wasn’t sure we could fix it. I was totally floored and lost all faith in myself to recognize truth in relationships – even with friends and my daughter. Even though the facts did not add up and I could not seem to find my balance ( and neither could he), I spent six months working on issues in our marriage that had caused an emotional affair, when the affair actually started as a one-time lust driven fantasy affair that turned into an emotional affair. Until I stopped doubting myself and my perceptions and insisted on the truth, I didn’t find out about the sexual liaison – and even then it took another three months for all of the details to come out – for us to both realize that the affair was not a result of our marriage, but of his own mid-life crisis triggered by dissatisfaction at work, serious family illnesses, and the impending death of his father.

      We realized that we could not fix our problems if we did not really know what they were. Yes – there had been a lot less sex in our lives, but I had been ill and he (actually we) had been suffering from Irritable Male Syndrome for about a year before the affair – and it is hard to “want” someone when they are grouchy, distant, critical and not affectionate 🙂

  19. Melvin April 11, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    Robin,

    Just a followup on the book you recommended: Linda J. MacDonald’s “How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair: A Compact Manual for the Unfaithful”.

    FIrst off, I just love the Manual you recommended. Short but concise, easy read, easier to understand.

    The book came in the mail on Friday, I read it cover to cover Saturday, then re-read it highlighting a few sentences that I felt were important to me. I gave it to her on Sunday. Last night, she jumped on our treadmill and did a power walk while reading the book. I heard the machine stop several times. All told, she maybe did an hour on the machine with the book. Time will tell if anything good comes from it – fingers crossed.

    • Robin April 11, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

      Melvin – I bought the book for me – trying to get insight to his perspective and was surprised because seemed to be saying what I had been feeling, so I gave it to my husband and it really has made a difference. He really has been more open to answering questions even if they make him uncomfortable, so it is much more of ask a question, get an answer, move on, instead of ask a question, get an I don’t know, I don’t remember, followed by more questions, followed by no answers, followed by anger (him) and hurt & fear (me). We seem to be in a much happier and more open place – I hope the same holds true for you.

  20. Saddenned April 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    Thanks for the post Doug! 5 weeks ago my husband admitted to an EA. I was devastated. We have been married 9 years and I never thought it could happen. They started talking on FB and then they exchanged phone numbers. I sensed something was wrong, but wasn’t sure what. They spoke a total of 12 days on the phone before he told me the truth. He has cut all contact with her, but it still hurts. I am constantly comparing myself to her. I take blame for contributing to a stagnant marriage, but I know now more than ever that I love him so much. When will the pain and wondering stop?

    • Doug April 11, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

      Saddenned, I’m sorry to hear that this has happened to you. I think I speak for most on this site that you will go through a roller coaster of emotions, and that you will have some good days and some bad days, but if you and your husband work at your marriage and fix the things that were wrong in your relationship, you can make your marriage stronger than it ever was. It takes time, but over time, the pain will subside. Use this site and the resources within to gain knowledge and learn from what we’ve done right and what we’ve done wrong and put forth the effort, and hopefully you will see some real progress.

  21. Kristine July 3, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    I’m almost a year into our reconciliation. Dday was March 2010 but he moved out in May 2010, we reconciled in July and all contact was cut off with the OP in August. He’s had no contact with her since other than the one time she reached out to him by email March 2011. My H’s affair was physical and emotional and lasted 8m.

    I too almost a year into reconciliation still have bad days. It’s like a downward spiral. Many times I’m able to stop the emotions. I can say to myself “hello! we already knew this information (whatever it is I’m thinking about) nothing is new here, I know how the thought/feeling was triggered so move on!” and I can because really all it is, is, rehashing of the same thoughts and feelings again and again. It’s a vortex of pain. One thought leads to another then 10 more then next thing you know you’re thinking of something you haven’t thought of in months. I try to stop myself immediately. I acknowledge the thought, feeling, trigger. I recognize WHY I’m having it and then I release it because really, what can i possibly gain from going down that same thought pattern AGAIN? I can’t but my mind wants me to stay there and get stuck there too. I can control my thoughts, they’re MINE after all 🙂

    Sometimes though, every blue moon, I almost find myself wallowing in the pain, the feelings the thoughts. Sometimes I absolutely CANNOT stop them. I’m so annoyed by them, too. So tired of where it takes me when I do have those times. I just want to be FREE!

    I was thinking of having some kind of “ceremony” on the day my husband moved back home. Even if it’s just by myself. It will have been two years of HELL when that day comes and I want to make a conscious effort to leave the past in the past.

    I would not have made it this far if it wasn’t for God who led me to stand for my marriage. My husband was in sin and God led me to learn all about being a Godly wife for my husband. In turn, God promised me he would restore my marriage and family and he did. I remember even praying on my knees one afternoon when my H had the kids and I was all alone and hearing God say “your children will not be out their father in their daily lives for long” and it’s true, he was gone 10 weeks. God did a mighty thing in the both of us and through us.

    I keep seeing this scripture and have been for the past 4 months:

    “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

    I’m so thankful for this second chance with my husband. There is a new love, a new appreciation for each other, for our family, a new connection, a new intimacy. My husband never stops telling me how glad he’s out of sin and unrighteousness, that he’s thankful I didn’t give up on him and allowed him home. He just told me the best thing the other day that melted my heart he said, “I somehow lost sight of what a great woman you were, that you are the only woman for me. It took me leaving to wake up and realize what I thought I was getting elsewhere I already had only a million times better. I can’t imagine a single day without you.”

    Yes, there is pain in the past but glory in the present and future. Where we were this time last year is NOT where we are today. I refuse to give up too many precious present moments by living in what was and not what IS.

    Yes there is more healing to be done, yes I have triggers still, yes I still have the memories but if my memory was wiped clean then I wouldn’t be able to speak to others that God can heal hurting marriages and restore what was lost and give back more than there was before.

    I’m in the process of making a blog to share my testimony. I will email you doug and linda when finished so you can read it 🙂

    Praying for all of you, all of us.

  22. Kristine July 3, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    Oh and you know what? I have had those thoughts too, the “I can’t do this” esp in the beginning when he came home. I really wanted to LEAVE. I wanted to RUN. The pain was so bad. I’ve never told him I’ve thought that though.

    I journal all the time, I have been since I found out about the affair and it’s amazing how therapeutic that is for me. Writing is like breathing for me, it’s an extension of expressing my true inner self, my true feelings and I can write it out as detailed as I want and as colorful as I like. I know one day I will read him some of my journals and he will know one day but for now, I keep it to myself when I have those times (although I haven’t had them in a long while) because I know that’s part of the process. I know wanting to leave IS an emotion, a fleeting one but one nevertheless. I have no plans to run though.

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