affair fantasyAs a betrayed spouse I am going to tell you right now our spouses will never again have a fantasy about us the way they did with the OP during their marital affair.  So stop trying to recreate and compete with the affair and the affair fantasy.  It won’t happen.

We are living in the real world in a real marriage and you can only pretend to be the cheater’s fantasy for so long. 

You cannot be the perfect partner.  Believe me. After Doug’s emotional affair I attempted to be all the things he thought was appealing with Tanya, as well as everything he thought was appealing with me – at the same time. It was exhausting and a charade.

I couldn’t keep it up for long because when stress and real life issues hit our lives, the real me came out.  Doug is fully aware that I am not perfect. 

Since Tanya had the “play book,” and seemed to run each “play” to perfection, I felt I needed to compete in order to save our marriage.  I needed to get the “play book” for myself.

What I have since learned though, is that possessing the “play book” is not about competing with the OP at all.  It’s all about communicating, listening and not making assumptions.

Living day to day in a marriage is difficult.  You hurt each other by your words and actions.  Sometimes you feel that you are not treated fairly and don’t know how to communicate these feelings to your spouse. We tend to want to avoid confrontation.

Here is an example from our marriage prior to his emotional affair.  I’m sure everyone could come up with something similar in their marriage as well…

Every night around nine o’clock I would fall asleep on the couch.  My only excuse was exhaustion.  I am a high energy person and I go full speed from six o’clock in the morning until I pass out at night.  Back then I rarely stopped for a break until everything on my list was completed.

This habit almost destroyed my marriage because while I never really thought much about it, Doug was taking my falling asleep personally.  In his mind my habit of falling asleep conveyed to him that he wasn’t as important as everything on my to-do list

He felt that I didn’t care enough to spend the few moments we had alone together with him. He believed I would rather sleep than talk, cuddle or be intimate with him. He began to believe that I didn’t love or care for him.

Obviously this was something that wore on him, but he chose not to communicate it to me in the way that I would have understood. I know he avoided telling me his true feelings because he would have appeared needy or selfish.  So instead he used sarcasm, or anger to relay his discontent.  This made me very defensive.

When he complained about my sleeping, I would fire back at him that I had too much to do and that I was exhausted, hoping for him to offer some kind of assistance.  Instead he would fire back that some of the things I did were unnecessary or maybe I should get the kids to pitch in more, as he worked hard himself.

All I wanted to hear from him though was some acknowledgment that I did work very hard and that he appreciated everything I did. Even a plan from him on how we could solve this problem so that we could spend more time together would have been helpful.

It is difficult to comprehend how something so little as falling asleep could result in such resentment, anger and feelings of being unloved.  It became a negative cycle for us.  I wanted nothing more than to spend more time with Doug, but this issue almost became a war for us as if we were fighting to keep the power in the relationship. Obviously we both lost.

Well this is where the “playbook” has its part. Tanya knew everything about my falling asleep and apparently would often comment that it wasn’t fair or she would never do that, which created the fantasy that she was a caring and loving person.

Doug wasn’t afraid or defensive about telling her his problems, and she wasn’t really any more understanding or a better listener, but the situation didn’t affect her since she wasn’t the one falling asleep.  What it did do though, was present her with an opportunity to make herself appear better.

As a spouse you have to put yourself in the position to really listen to what the cheating spouse is telling you with respect to their needs and how they were being met by the OP.  Try not to take it personally.  Provide a safe communication environment so they are free to tell you what is bothering them.  Really clue into the meaning of their words. Peel the onion, so to speak.

Try to remember that it isn’t always about you and that what they are telling you is something that is hurting them.  For instance, it wasn’t my falling asleep that bothered Doug, it was the fact that he believed I didn’t want to spend time with him.

If I would have known his true feelings, I would have been able to validate the way he was feeling at the time, because I also missed spending time with him, and I wouldn’t have been so defensive about my falling asleep so early every night.

Sometimes in a marriage we get into a habit of wanting to be right, or to win.  We had to learn that it isn’t about winning.  It is about making the relationship better, and figuring out what we both can do to accomplish that.

Possessing the “playbook” is really clueing in on what is happening in your marriage, and taking the time to really step back and analyze what is happening in your lives. 

When you find issues and situations that are causing marital strife, you need to effectively communicate in a way that helps you discover the real reasons why it is occurring. It all revolves around giving your marriage the opportunity and time to communicate with each other.

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    21 replies to "Forget About the Affair Fantasy and Get the Playbook"

    • BreeAnn

      Great post…. Good concrete example of how easy communication can break down over something so simple. Keep up the great work you and Doug are doing!!

    • Donna

      I have found this post to be very interesting. I feel right now that my husband and I are gpong along each day with the motions but not really doing anything to fix our marriage. Then I have to stop and think that maybe we are. Maybe we are learning to appreciate each opther again and spending time together again with out stopping and thinking about the affair. I guess too that my husband is needing to feel safe back at home and know that I am on his side and not against him.

      What I am struggling with though is when we are in the car and there is a silence I stop and wonder if they talked non stop nad that maybe that is what I need to do. I fear the silence as I then think I ma not doing what she probably once did.

      I fear that just sitting on the couch watching the tv, even though my husband is doing the ssame, are we suppose to be sitting together and talking all the time. It is the constant comparisons to the ow that I feel I need to measure up tooo, to be exciting and I just can’t do it while we have 4 children. I have rediscovered who I am and still am and am enjoying that, however I feel that I need to do so much more.

      I worry that if we are not talking that he is thinking about her and that he is making comparisons to how she would be and what she wuld say in comparrison to me. I hate this. I feel I am so boring as he has her all excited in his head.

      I need to let it go, I just don’t know how. Idoes it mean I have a problem because we don’t always talk while driving in the car.. I just have to wonder. Do you all feel the same way?

      • Doug

        Donna, again what you are feeling is normal, often when we were having a great time was when I started worrying and playing the comparison game. For some reason I wanted to do everything that I believed they did, in the same way, the same intensity. For one you are competing with a fantasy yours and his. I am sure my opinion of their relationship was a lot more exciting and romantic that his, I was trying to create the perfect life and driving myself and Doug crazy. I have come to the conclusion that it wasn’t all the fun conversations that were important to Doug he just needed to know that I wanted to be with him, he was my top priority. I had the conversation with Doug concerning my fear that we don’t talk all the time and he said he doesn’t want to talk all the time, he enjoys just sitting with me on the couch watching TV. He just wants to be with me. As your security in you relationship increases so will you need to want to give him everything that the OP did, I believe what he really wants is the person he feel in love with many years ago. I know that life has changed and you can’t always be that person, but try to bring her to the surface as often as you can. Linda

    • Karen

      I probably am posting this in the wrong place, but in reading on the site today, many of the posts were very painful to read as the BS’s stated they had forgiven yet the cheaters had done very little of the necessary things to reinvent their marriages other than claiming to want to stay married. The cheaters were often still in contact with the OP’s, denied wrongdoing, refused to talk about the affairs, etc. It made me wonder about the possible concept of “forgiving too early your spouse” after an affair.

      Read previous posts on forgiving on this site and others, and wonder if forgiving too quickly might be a misstep that signals weakness or condoning what happened or some other signal that allows the cheaters to not “deal with stuff.”

      Just a thought.

      • Doug

        Karen, Thanks for the input. That would make an excellent subject for a future post.

      • Doug

        Karen, I was thinking the same thing, I wonder if they really understand what they are forgiving. As I have said before it is a long process and if you move on too quickly you may think that you are avoiding the pain but I believe it resurface later. I have really been thinking about this topic recently, mainly because of the comments made about my recovery taking so long. To be honest I want nothing more than to have a great marriage, but to get there I really want us to understand and accept everything from the past. I really don’t want any unanswered business, when we arrive at the relationship I know we can have I will then put the past behind us. I just feel we have more work to do. I can honestly say we are moving in a positive direction and everyday I feel more loved and secure as I hope Doug feels the same. I just don’t want to settle for a mediocre marriage I want a great marriage and that takes work and communication. Linda

        • Karen

          Linda:
          The length of your recovery is nothing but comforting to me as I don’t dwell on the day-to-day ups and downs of my own recovery and just take one day at a time – no rush.

          I completely agree about trying to avoid the pain by forgiving too quickly – I think many of the recent posters on this site may be doing that. I hope it works for them, but it seems to me more damaging to the potential healing process than helpful in the long run. I know the pressures on betrayed spouses are so compelling: keep present lifestyle, keep cheater spouses’s reputation intact, keep children’s lives unaffected . . . it can easily seem the “right thing” to do to immediately forgive and move forward. But I think the very painful posts I am reading the last few days show how that the emotional cost to the BS is just too high by burying their own emotional needs and feelings.

          I feel many times the hard work needed to reinvent my marriage is overwhelming and sometimes very not fun. But I cannot continue to exist in my marriage if I don’t do it as I never would know if we could have a healthy marriage again after my H’s EA. Only time will tell.

          Have a great day, Linda!!

      • Yuki

        Oh, I’m so glad to hear you both say that! I was thinking the very same thing, but wasn’t sure how to put it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Jane

      Another great post. My fear of conflict and/or confrontation closed me off and did a lot of damage to my marriage. I didn’t have the same fears with my xap because I spent so little time with him- our relationship wasn’t real- it was insulated by the fantasy bubble, therefore, there was little time for conflict. In the end, when it was riddled with conflict, it quickly came to an end. Through this experience I have tried to overcome my fear of conflict so that I can open up to my husband. I am getting better, but I have a long way to go.

    • life

      I think I gained better perspective of my H and his AP once I accepted their relationship. Rarely, in a relationship are we emotionally unaffected. I understood my H would mourn the loss of his AP , and I was fortunate that he was through the worst of the fog when he moved back home.

      I helped me to meet the AP as it dispelled my concerns about their perfect relationship. I saw them interact, and a light went on in my head. I was a different person after meeting her, and I was always kind and mindful of my behavior towards her.

      This new attitude helped me heal after months of obsessive behavior. I realized she wasn’t perfect, and I also realized that my husbands flaws had not disappeared just because he was with her. I was able to care for my own mental health , and that has proven to be a big part of our marriage.

      • Doug

        Great perspective, Life. Not many get the opportunity to meet the OP. In many cases I bet the result would be a similar realization that you had.

    • life

      A strange friendship developed between the OW and myself. I will forever be grateful for the valuable lessons she provided. I feel lucky in a way to have the chance to reconnect with my H . I was cheated upon but had my part in the destruction .

      She told me that she felt from the beginning that I was the love of my H life and she tried very hard to become me. That was probably the best knowledge she could ever have given me. She knew after meeting me that I was a real person and it helped to break the fantasy in her mind.

      I am empathetic towards her pain as she was very in love with my husband. She was a contributing factor in the healing of my marriage. We no longer have contact at all as I have learned my lessons well and feel strongly that contact would hurt her and myself. Strange where life leads you!

    • There Are Moments

      Thanks for this website! I am learning so much and discovering that no one is alone.

    • Francis

      Yes, yes, yes,. The op my wife was with played up that he was the messiah, a 53 year old over weight diabetic with some physical ailments was the messiah. Why, because I was this anxious overbearing husband who actually wanted to spend time with his wife and was interested in her daily routines. Maybe sometimes I was a little intrusive, but according to him I was the slave master. Me a guy who never cheated, believes his wife is the most gorgeous creature on earth and would jump through fire for her was not as good as a guy who; never found happiness, chases married women, free loads off of others (did this to us once) has no respect for marriage etc etc…yes, he was the perfect man.

    • Strengthrequired

      Francis, these om and ow in our lives know how to work on their target to their advantage, they are masters at manipulation, and if your wife was in a depression or a down moment in her life, then they use it as well to their advantage. They always seem to use their own sob stories to gain information about us that is to help the, in our downfall.

      • Francis

        You are so right. The last time they met and she told him it was over, he sat across from her and kept pressuring her to re- tell him about every argument we had had and every issue we had had, to the point that she told me she wanted to choke him!

    • Francis

      Is this site. Loses. I see no responses no nothing anymore?

      • Strengthrequired

        Francis, I dont receive the emails that say there are replies etc.
        I see what is in the recent comments, or latest topics.

        I think that’s what we all seem to do.

        I would lie, to say, that if have just read your last comment about the om you are dealing with, he sounds like a tool. I do hope your w is coming clear of the fantasy of this om.
        Remember this is a long road to travel, the bs who choose to stay with the cs, can find it very hard and frustrating at times, because of all the triggers, and trying to read your cs, whether they are lying to you or not. Yet when you love someone so much, that’s what you do. Try…

        • francis

          So my saga continues. I am completely hearbroken. I really really thought her EA was over, she told me that the last time they met it was for closure! What a lie. This week i noticed she was not at her normal parking spot at work, but her secretary said she saw her but then she left. Eventually confronted her and we had a small argument and she said, if you dont stop spying we are done. I just knew she was hiding something. So I put our extra iPhone in her car and used check my iPhone. I figured out she was going to a Days Inn a few miles from where she worked, across from where she was having a training on Thursday and Friday. Then she left and went to work but then went back. The mistake I made was that I left her a Voicemail and said “I know where you are, what are you doing!? Are you having Sex, I need to know we need to talk.” Now I realize how dumb this was because she ended up sending me this text: Francis – Things got over the top today! I need some time to think things through. Don’t go crazy tonight! Give me some space so I can think. Our Son will most likely be off tomorrow(Snow storm) so you won’t need to worry about school. I’ll touch base with you when I’m ready.
          She did not come home last night, but she has nothing with her but the clothes she wore to work. All of her makeup etc is still here. I just dont know what the first line means. did she have sex, did she sllep in his bed..What is going on. this was just an EA, with a guy who has done this over and over. He is a Tour guide we met in Israel. I am disgusted that I brought my family on a trip and this is my reward.
          Do you really think this is going to end…I am so afraid she is going to leave to be with him..

    • betrayedchump

      Francis:
      I am sorry that you are having to deal with more hurt & pain from your CS! YOU DO NOT DESERVE ANYMORE PAIN & HURT FROM YOUR CS!!!! I know what I would do RIGHT NOW if I was in your shoes. CHANGE THE DOOR LOCKS!!!! PUT HER CLOTHES IN TRASHBAGS!!!! THROW HER CLOTHES OUTSIDE!!!! DO NOT REWARD her for going back for more from the OM!!!! AFTER she COMMITTS 100% to YOU & ONLY YOU & YOUR MARRIAGE/RELATIONSHIP then & ONLY then can YOU let her back into your life!!!! That is if you feel she is still the person YOU want in your life!!!! BE STRONG!!!! SHOW HER YOU HAVE A BACKBONE!!!! SHOW HER YOU WILL NOT ACCEPT HER BEHAVIOR ANYMORE!!!! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!! GOD IS BY YOUR SIDE, ASK GOD FOR PEACE, COMFORT, STRENGTH AND ANYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO REMAIN STRONG!!!! Peace to you!

    • betrayedchump

      Francis:
      DO NOT LET FEAR CONTROL YOU!!!! ASK GOD FOR HELP WITH YOUR FEAR THAT YOUR WIFE WILL LEAVE TO BE WITH THE OM!!!!

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