change-architect-sign1In this post from December of 2010, Linda discusses  how things in our relationship turned around after a period when our marriage was not very good. 

During this period we both played the blame game, believing the other person was responsible for our discontent. We never really openly discussed our unhappiness, as we masked it by our behaviors.

We displayed some horrible habits that caused resentment and anger, but it all started to turn around due to one very long conversation. 

The emotional affair was not why we initiated change in our relationship. It was the honest conversations we had about our marriage that was the catalyst. Please read on.

The Emotional Affair Wasn’t the Catalyst for Change

I was asked by one of our readers how I was able to get back all those loving feelings — primarily my sex drive and level of intimacy with Doug – and whether the only way I was able to do so was by being “shocked” after finding out about the emotional affair.

To be honest, my wake-up call didn’t have anything to do with the emotional affair. I didn’t truly find out about the affair until much later. My wake-up, or should I say…our wake-up call, came the night that we finally had an honest conversation about our relationship.

Yes I did pull him out of bed to confront him about the numerous phone calls that I saw on his cell, but he quickly dismissed them. Being naïve and trusting at the time, I believed him. The rest of that night and our conversation was what really changed our relationship.

Our marriage had been deteriorating for several years prior to this conversation. Several factors were to blame; our stupidity, stress, being very busy with work and kids, financial obligations, resentment, etc.

During this downward spiral we both began the blame game, believing the other person was responsible for our discontent. We never really openly discussed our unhappiness, as we masked it by our behaviors.

We used many of the behaviors that are described in the book “Real Love.” Doug became angry, sarcastic, critical and overly busy with other obligations. I withdrew affection and love (ran away), or became clingy (needy), or acted like the victim.

Being completely uneducated about relationships at the time, we both believed that these behaviors indicated that we didn’t love or care for each other anymore. We felt as if love had died and we were trapped in this unfulfilled relationship.

The night that I used to call “the awakening,” Doug didn’t use any of those behaviors of anger and sarcasm. He had an honest conversation about his feelings. He told me how lonely he had been and how he missed the time we used to spend together. He missed the closeness we used to have and how we were always each other’s best friend. He told me how he missed being intimate with me and how he would lie in bed each night and want to be with me. It wasn’t the phone calls that blew me away it was the honesty and vulnerability that Doug displayed during our conversation.

At that time I truly understood what he was saying because I felt the same way. I realized that both of us had been acting that way not because we were angry at each other or that our love and feelings had disappeared. We acted that way because we really missed being together. We missed our closeness. We were just covering up our sadness and emptiness with behaviors that hurt the other person.

It all began to make sense to me, and the most important message I received from our conversation was that Doug missed me. He wanted to be with me. He cared for me and he loved me.

From that realization everything changed, as all my resentment went away and I started to educate myself about relationships and marriage. The more I learned the more I understood how we got to that place. The more we discussed, the closer we became. The closer we became the more time we spent together, which in turn created everything that we both had missed – including great sex and increased intimacy.

Unfortunately, all the good we were creating was temporarily taken away by the revelation of Doug’s emotional affair.

It wasn’t the emotional affair that was the wake up call. In fact, having the affair in our lives made trying to save our marriage that much more difficult. It was the honest conversations and revelations of how we really felt about each other that jump-started things.

Doug once told me that Tanya was just a replacement for me, and that he was just waiting for me to come back to him. It doesn’t take an emotional affair to be the catalyst for change in a marriage, whether it has to do with sex, intimacy or other issues. It all starts with open and honest communication.

It is very sad to think that two people could live day to day with each other but because of our obligations we really lost contact and a connection. Every conversation or activity involved logistics or our children.

We started to become friends again instead of enemies, spent time alone doing the things we used to enjoy and it just took off from there.

If you’ve had success in turning your relationship around, what was the catalyst for you?

LINESPACE

    4 replies to "Change in Our Relationship Started With a Conversation"

    • exercisegrace

      I almost envy people that can say things like…. our marriage was fading for years before the affair or we had been drifting for a long time, or we hadn’t been getting along and had been fighting before the affair ever came along, or I knew things weren’t headed in a good direction…. You get the picture.

      Prior to his affair, I would have said things were good. We were very stressed, and in fact if you look at the lists of top life stressors, we had most of them hit us one on top of another in a very short space of time. His father died, nearly lost our business, financial stress, new baby, a move, he was hospitalized with a serious but treatable illness and the list goes on. I knew he was stressed and depressed, who wouldn’t be? But while I went into duck, cover and ride out the storm mode, he pulled the parachute and bailed. I view his affair completely as him being overwhelmed and needing an escape from reality. As it began to gather steam, he would say things like…..I wish we could go back to the early years of our marriage. Things were so good then. I know now what he was trying to say. I know the stress was tearing him apart and he missed the carefree time of our life when we only had to focus on each other. But to be honest, I resented his words at the time. I had both arms locked hard on the steering wheel trying to keep the plane in the air.

      During the year after he ended the affair, but before I found out about it, things were calmer in our lives and we relaxed more. We became more like our old selves as the external pressures lifted. “It” was still in his life, so I still had fear, but as the disasters faded away we had some breathing space and started doing things for us again. There were fewer and fewer fires to put out, so to speak. Yet through it all, I never cheated even though i had the opportunity. I hate that he chose to escape rather than stand and battle through with me.

      We are turning our relationship around now with counseling and faith. That he is learning the tools he will need for the future and we can always be strong and stand together.

    • CBB

      Same here. I tought we were there for each other, complementory. But whe things got rough my H bailed out. saying : I’m goinig to take care off myself now and not having people telling me what to do. I saw a change in his attitude, he wasn’t the H I married, his best friends suddely didn’t count anymore…. Al the focus was on belonging to this OW’s “harem”. Although he has changed back to his old self, I mis that conversation. I would like to hear he missed me, but his words aren’t convincing. Is he affraid of the truth or is it not wat I would like to hear…

    • Recovering

      We just weren’t really close before he started cheating, which of course got WAY worse when the affair actually began because then he started being a jerk to me, making me feel crazy, and guilty for suspecting, and flat out lying to me. I seriously thought I was going to lose my mind for a while, especially since it took me over a year to get “proof” of the cheating!! Like everyone else, we were BUSY! He was in school 3-4 nights a week after work, I was in school and doing all of the parenting and housekeeping during the week, and the weekends we spent split up for the most part, one with each kid for soccer games.. It is amazing we even knew each other’s names at this point!! Regardless, it is NO EXCUSE or “reason” to cheat. I was lonely too!! I did try several times to try to reconnect with my husband, but I guess by the time I was desperate to reconnect, he was already cheating, so wasn’t interested. He wouldn’t help figure out how to get us some time together… I couldn’t do it all on my own… and then I started working full-time too and the house cleaning started to slip and the guilt just filled me… I was slacking at something I had been perfect at for 11 years while I stayed at home! I swear he thought that there was a laundry fairy because he never did ANY part of his laundry! He would wear it and it would just magically appear clean and folded back in its correct place..

      My catalyst for change didn’t actually hit with the discovery of the affair. I wasn’t ready to deal with change then… and hadn’t been for a LONG time!! Like 2.5 years!! I was staying in the marriage because HE started to change and do the right things to keep me there, but honestly, I haven’t been there in it – at least not fully, until this past weekend.

      We had a company awards dinner that we attended for his job, and we ended up staying overnight in the hotel (was a good excuse to get away, drink too much, and sleep late the next day), and we ended up having a conversation about how the other person doesn’t seem to support the other, but in reality, we are both trying so hard to be supportive, yet are supporting the other in the way WE need to be supported, and not the way THEY need to be supported. I don’t know why, but this conversation led me to the epiphany that I had never REALLY NEEDED my husband before the affair. I had never been needy (my independence was something he loved and loathed at the same time), but I had become needy, and I realized that it wasn’t really ME that was the needy one in the relationship – that HE is! That him cheating was because HE was needy and I wasn’t there, and the whore was… My husband said the same things… that it wasn’t HER that mattered, because she could’ve been anyone… that she was just an attempt at a replacement for me.. that nobody makes him as happy as I do- that he has more fun with me than anyone… I heard these things when he said them, but at the time I guess I was not prepared to listen, especially since right before all of that stuff I had gotten the cliché “I love you but am not IN LOVE with you”… I didn’t know what to believe, but looking back on it, I think he was really telling me the truth, but I wasn’t REALLY listening. I am listening now!!

      All of that said, and my heart being more open than ever, as were my ears, I was finally able to REALLY GET that his affair wasn’t MY fault!! I know that we say that it isn’t the victims fault, but I had put so much guilt on myself, like I should have been able to stop it somehow… I had the “better wife, better life” syndrome SOOOOO bad!!! And I had it for a LONG time!! I guess I also didn’t want to accept that it had nothing to do with me because that meant letting go the anger that I have been holding on to so tightly.. meant letting go of the fear that has kept me ‘safe’ from the man that I love. But him cheating WASN’T my fault! Yes, our marriage was a whirlwind that never stopped, but that was the circumstances… I didn’t make them. I didn’t intentionally do anything to push my husband away… He could’ve chose ME and US, but he took the easy way out, in more than one way. She was a cheap slut, no work, now worries, nothing worth a damn, so was an escape in all the ways I never wanted to admit. He felt like, and acted like, a dumb teenager, as did she – not the grown-up parents that we are. Yes, we should be able to feel young, but we are not the dumb young anymore… I DIDN’T CAUSE HIM TO CHEAT! IT ISN’T MY FAULT MY HUSBAND CHEATED! The realization has changed how I look at EVERYTHING! It is amazing the difference I feel – I don’t feel so insecure, or so dumb, or so SAD! I don’t even feel ashamed of still being with him anymore (which I really kinda did, secretly). I feel empowered to be myself again. If he cheats again, god forbid, I will be fine because it will be HIS inability to be a grown-up and face life as it is, not mine. I will no longer own something that I had nothing to do with! No more! And I feel AWESOME about that! I will love my husband the best way I know how, and I won’t let the relationship get away from us this time (I did learn something from all this mess), but I also am holding HIM accountable for the same, and HIM accountable for his own actions. I will no longer have guilt for how I feel! I am worth love and fidelity! I FINALLY have REALLY forgiven myself!! I highly recommend it!

    • CBb

      Recovering. You said it well. I like your spirit.

      I just texted my husband, after a wonderful Valentine’s Day together, what are the 3 things you want from us?

      As in, what will make you feel happy and fulfilled and want to stay and be a part of this family?

      I will let you all know his answer as maybe it could help all of us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.