strength1
So, H broke up with his AP 3 days ago. I trust him because I have no other choice, and because I know that that was his decision. I just hope he resists the temptation to contact her again, or to take her messages.  

My question is:  I had told him that unless he breaks up with her I didn't want to go to couples' therapy. Now he has broken up with her, but I feel it's too soon because he must be grieving the relationship.  What do people who have been in this position think? Or should we hit the ground running before he has time to ruminate any further?  
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anthro
I think you are right that it is too soon for couples' therapy.  We did it too soon after d-day and it was completely pointless.
Formerly known as Anthropoidape... male bs, long affair, d-day Feb 2017.
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BlindCheetah
strength1 wrote:
So, H broke up with his AP 3 days ago. I trust him because I have no other choice, and because I know that that was his decision. I just hope he resists the temptation to contact her again, or to take her messages.  
 


You do have a choice, you don’t not have to trust him just because you can’t verify it’s over. If you feel like something isn’t right trust your gut, don’t dismiss it. Trust needs to be earned. 
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strength1


You do have a choice, you don’t not have to trust him just because you can’t verify it’s over. If you feel like something isn’t right trust your gut, don’t dismiss it. Trust needs to be earned. 



Well,  he’s very introspective at the moment, and he’s very remorseful about his weaknesses.   So sometimes I’m not sure if his quietness and short answers is a sign of hiding and lying or if they are a manifestation of the growth process he is in.   If I push too much for information it tends to make him clam up even more because he feels that he needs to climb out of the deep hole he is in by himself.  
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Keepabuzz
strength1 wrote:



Well,  he’s very introspective at the moment, and he’s very remorseful about his weaknesses.   So sometimes I’m not sure if his quietness and short answers is a sign of hiding and lying or if they are a manifestation of the growth process he is in.   If I push too much for information it tends to make him clam up even more because he feels that he needs to climb out of the deep hole he is in by himself.  



After what he has done, you owe him absolutely nothing. You set the rules, you set the boundaries. Not him. My wife would clam up too when I would rage. The therapist said I needed to be calmer if i expected her to open up. I looked at both of them and said “I’m sure this is very difficult for her, and I could literally not care a bit less how hard it is on her. She will do what I need her to do, when I need or want her to, or she can get out. I will no longer live my life around what she wants or what’s easier for her. She did this, not me, and I’ll be d*mned if I am going to sacrifice one single ounce of myself anymore. She needs to figure it the heII out, the clock is ticking.” That ended that conversation.   I was not in marriage counseling to negotiate a d*mn thing.  
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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strength1
Keepabuzz wrote:



After what he has done, you owe him absolutely nothing. You set the rules, you set the boundaries. Not him. My wife would clam up too when I would rage. The therapist said I needed to be calmer if i expected her to open up. I looked at both of them and said “I’m sure this is very difficult for her, and I could literally not care a bit less how hard it is on her. She will do what I need her to do, when I need or want her to, or she can get out. I will no longer live my life around what she wants or what’s easier for her. She did this, not me, and I’ll be d*mned if I am going to sacrifice one single ounce of myself anymore. She needs to figure it the heII out, the clock is ticking.” That ended that conversation.   I was not in marriage counseling to negotiate a d*mn thing.  


Well, i this is really not my style. I recognize my H has a midlife crisis and it’s useless yelling at him or threatening him.
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Keepabuzz

strength1 wrote:


Well, i this is really not my style. I recognize my H has a midlife crisis and it’s useless yelling at him or threatening him.


I am a firm believer in “to each their own”. I understand that everyone is different, and all of our stories are different, and thats ok. We all have to do what feels right for each of us. I would caution you to not let “mid life crisis” be used as an excuse for what he has done   


To be clear, I wasn’t threatening my wife. I was stating what would happen. 

Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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Keepabuzz
I think I would look at it this way, if I were back in the early days. Marriage counseling is like coaching a team. A team of 2. It can’t work if there are three people involved. It also can’t work if the two people being coached don’t want to be on the same team. That is where I was. My wife had betrayed me, and we were no longer a team, no matter how bad she wished we were. We were not. I don’t think marriage counseling is a good idea until both are at least fairly sure they both want to be on the same team.  
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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Vanessa
It sounds like WAY too soon for couples councelling - maybe WS can do a BUNCH of IC then look at the couples thing - because it was NEVER about you so it wasn't about the "couple" it was about WS using poor life coping skills
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Sadie
I agree that couples counseling is too soon, but I would recommend individual counseling for both of you.    
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JKoloseik
Keepabuzz wrote:



After what he has done, you owe him absolutely nothing. You set the rules, you set the boundaries. Not him. My wife would clam up too when I would rage. The therapist said I needed to be calmer if i expected her to open up. I looked at both of them and said “I’m sure this is very difficult for her, and I could literally not care a bit less how hard it is on her. She will do what I need her to do, when I need or want her to, or she can get out. I will no longer live my life around what she wants or what’s easier for her. She did this, not me, and I’ll be d*mned if I am going to sacrifice one single ounce of myself anymore. She needs to figure it the heII out, the clock is ticking.” That ended that conversation.   I was not in marriage counseling to negotiate a d*mn thing.  


I (we) haven't been to a counselor yet where I didn't feel like I was negotiating my own safety. It is so very important to find the right one, a counselor who specializes in affairs and understands the hundreds of layers and aspects that comes along with it. My last session--and I haven't been back--she suggested that maybe my WH is acting out (three years after dday of continued affair behavior) because I am not acting like a friend to him. Only people in this forum would understand how horrible that was to hear. I could give you a hundred point list of all the WRONG I did after dd. 

strength1 wrote:
Or should we hit the ground running before he has time to ruminate any further?  


As for you, Strength1, I commend your fortitude to get things "fixed" quickly, but let him ruminate! It's not your job to keep him from going back to her, and counseling won't stop it either. I agree with everyone here. Counseling is way too soon. I suggest going through the resources this website has, as well as watching youtube videos about affair recovery. There are hundreds of them. But focus only on those things that will help you understand your next steps.

Right now, you gotta look at you. It sounds selfish, I understand, but I get it. "He messed up bad, he must feel so ashamed, I gotta help him through this, I am his partner and best friend." Yeah, yeah. Let go of that as quickly as you can, or you will lose yourself in his affair fog. Take a moment when you are alone and stand in front of a mirror and really look at you. What do you feel?

He has an issue that he created himself, and he must face it himself (for now), or he will never heal appropriately and could someday have a relapse. My hardest lesson was that I had to stop trying to understand him but do everything I could to understand ME and let myself FEEL the feelings I was suppressing. I thought I was doing the right thing trying to help him. My anger, rage, lashing out, grief, shame, hyper-focusing, denial, depression, forms of PTSD, so many feelings I hid, because I thought I needed to "save" my marriage. Well, I didn't ruin it. It wasn't my fault. So it was never once my burden to fix. Tim T (AH Coach) told me that once. He had to repeat it numerous times before I really understood what he meant. The burden is not mine. He was referring to the "burden of proof" but he was really trying to get me to understand I had enough of my own burdens. And yes, I had to ask him, if I can't prove it, if the "burden" is not mine, and if my WH doesn't prove it, then does that mean I have to just trust his words? No! He broke your trust. Period. You are not obligated to believe or prove anything. I may have contributed to a declining marital relationship, but I did nothing to contribute to the absolute destruction and ruination of our sacred union. It took many years to realize that not only am I ALLOWED to feel those feelings, I was OBLIGATED to feel those feelings for my own sanity and healing. 

Another initial mistake I made was crazy-hours of research. I dedicated all my time to understanding, rather than feeling. Sure, I had many moments of lashing out, but they usually only occurred after another relapse (although I am beginning to think there never were repeated relapses, only one long lifestyle that he was trying to hide). I felt incredibly guilty after every lash out (especially spurred by him), so I never realized, I wasn't telling myself I am allowed to feel and react. Give yourself some time, some rest, go to a hotel or something similar if you can, just to get away and think and especially feel. Give yourself time. Let him mull out his own feelings on his own. For now. The more you quiet yourself and let yourself feel (and leave him be to hopefully think and feel), the quicker the fog will lift and decisions can be made. But in all my research, hasty decisions about anything is detrimental.
Female BS 
DD 10/16/16
WS multiple relapses
Physical affair, emotional affairs, online affairs
In-house separation 06/11/18
Complete separation 01/04/20
Last relapse 01/07/20
Don't be afraid. Don't be dismayed. The battle belongs to the Lord.
2 Ch. 20:15
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ABCOneTwoThree

I’m a big believer in not doing couples therapy until the WS is at a point where they have come completely clean, and have spent some time working on themselves first

There’s no point in paying someone else to hear your WSs lies. I never did couples counseling with my exWH, it just was never going to work. He never told me the complete truth, why would he tell a stranger the complete truth? 

On the opposite end of that, when I was the OW, I had long conversations with the man I was involved with about his couples counseling sessions with his partner. Yes, that’s as awful as it sounds. I even drove him to his IC sessions quite often. So they were paying this person to help them, but instead of just lying to his partner, he was now also lying to this therapist. What a winner (and hey, I was a party to that sh*tshow). Even if your WS isn’t physically seeing the OW, even just talking to her while trying to “make things work” with you is a sign that things will never work. A relationship with someone who is also invested in someone else behind your back is a train wreck happening in slow motion  

I think you’ll need to be very sure, and very certain that things have actually, and really truly ended between them before you even try. Couples therapy will not work if he’s still mentally coupled with someone else. I know you want to trust him and believe him, and I’m not suggesting you don’t, but I would trust, while verifying, at this point. 

Formerly EasyAsABC 
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ThrivenotSurvive
I agree with pretty much everything everyone has said.  I would advise it is too early.  If him having too much time to ruminate caused him to return to her, then that would say couples therapy is inappropriate on multiple levels.  Do not compete for his love.  I don't mean this cruelly though I fear it sounds that way in written form.  What I am trying to say is that if you live in the fear that if you do this too much, or that too little, or this not quick enough - you will tie yourself in knots and create an unhealthy dynamic that will not lead to the restored marriage you want. He stays because he loves you and wants your life together and is willing to do the work involved.  Or he doesn't.  You need to find in yourself that ability and willingness to lose him if he isn't a healthy choice for you.  If you have already done so, and I misunderstood - please forgive me.  

Read ABC's reply - she had some very valid points.  

There is one other thing I'd like to share with you from my own experience.  I have no idea if this will apply to your situation, so take it for what you will.  But the single biggest GAIN my husband and I received from this sh!te experience was that it changed a long-standing dynamic between us in which I was his emotional interpreter.  He had extremely low emotional IQ and often didn't seem to understand his own feelings much less those of others until I helped him (reluctantly) sort them out.  This worked for a lot of our marriage because I was good at it, and we were in close proximity.  But then he began traveling long periods for work - and then his Dad died.  Not long after, an unusually long (and lucrative) contract came up that kept him in another city for almost two years.  He was still grieving and alone in a new city (I stayed home to take care of other personal matters even though he wanted me to live with him.) And he crumbled.  YEARS and YEARS of relying on me to help him figure out what he felt, what he needed and usually doing it before he asked, had crippled him emotionally.  He was totally unprepared to deal with his depression, anger and feelings of rejection that I had stayed home to help other family members rather than be with him.

After DD, I put my foot down.  I told him that I loved him and would try to save our marriage on three conditions: no contact whatsoever with the AP, absolute transparency about EVERYTHING in our lives (no omissions, half-truths or lies of any kind - not even little stuff like you ate the last brownie) and the hardest one - learning some emotional IQ.  I told him that I felt I had done both of us both a huge disservice by allowing him to outsource his emotional well-being and understanding. 

So I resigned that position.  I was willing to be his wife, partner, lover and friend.  But not the center of his universe, his emotional well-being monitor or problem-solver.  He needed to learn how to read his own emotions, dig under them to find out what they really meant, learn to feel things without acting on them, deal with confrontation, asking for what you need, etc. etc. etc.   I stopped being the go-between to help soothe issues with his family or our daughter.  I stopped trying to "sense" what he needed before he could articulate it.  And guess what?  We both are 10000% better for it.  

It took 18 months before he was even a LITTLE good at it, but he kept working, listening, asking, trying and WITHOUT me stepping in to fix stuff, he started to learn.  Oh it was bumpy at first and it took all my willpower not to step in and smooth things over when he was struggling, but God am I glad I did.  ALL of his relationships have improved and DEEPENED - with his mom, his siblings, our daughter - and me.  He's learned to be truly empathetic and compassionate.  He's a good listener, takes responsibility for figuring out his emotions - and is willing to ask for what he needs.  

I think your love and compassion may at times make you a problem-solver too.  You can't stand to see him in pain, confused and mired in his shame, so you want to "fix it" and him.  DON'T.  The most loving, kind and courageous thing you can do right now is to hold space for him in your heart, but take a HUGE step back and let HIM take full responsibility for himself right now.  He needs to go to therapy for HIM.  He needs to figure out the faulty ways of thinking and reacting that got him to this place.  It WASN'T your marriage.  No matter what he says now, I can guarantee you that in a year after he's had time to sort himself out his reasons for the affair will be a lot different - and they will have very little to do with your or problems in your marriage.  It will be about his unhealthy coping mechanisms in DEALING with those normal marital/long term relationship issues.  In your rush to save your marriage, don't deprive him of the opportunity and duty of taking responsibility for his own emotional well-being. 

And don't deprive yourself of the time, attention and effort that should going to heal YOUR wounds.  I think that one of the best things my husband and I ever did was focus on OURSELVES first (put your oxygen mask on first), while trying just to be kind to each other and then after each of us had some time to sort of our feelings, thoughts and lower our emotional reactivity, the we started to work on rebuilding the marriage.  Actually, if I honestly appraise the last 3.75 years since DD I would say that 80% of MY efforts were on healing ME, and the other 20% were on improving the marriage.  The marriage rather organically improved via the work we were each doing on ourselves and sharing with one another.

Again - if I am off the mark or this came across as harsh, I apologize.  It is meant with the best of intentions. 
BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child
DD May 2016

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl
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curlyquinn
Thrivenotsurvive how did your H work on his emotional IQ? My H is really struggling with this.
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ThrivenotSurvive
curlyquinn wrote:
Thrivenotsurvive how did your H work on his emotional IQ? My H is really struggling with this.


Gosh - I really, really wish I could easily give an easy, step by step answer to this.  But it has been a long. slow, all-over-the-map path.  Here are some of the things that I believe HELPED, but a lot of it was his own internal commitment to fixing whatever was broken in him that allowed him to be that person.  He has said repeatedly that he really, really disliked himself during that time.  He hated being dishonest and it tied him in knots - but once he'd done it and was afraid of it coming out, he felt boxed in and grew more and more confused on how to extricate himself from the mess he'd made. 

1.  He read the book "How to help your spouse heal from your affair" by Linda MacDonald within the first two months after DD.  He's not a big reader, but this is a short, compact book and helped him first begin the process of seeing things through MY eyes (a first step in learning empathy.) 
2.  He took full responsibility for what he'd done and removed any defensiveness from his reactions to my mood swings/triggers.  He began inviting me to talk about what was going on inside of me.  This was REALLY hard because it made me feel very, very vulnerable.  But his concern and desire to understand seemed genuine, so I took the chance and gave him a blow-by-blow of my internal dialogue.  This wasn't easy on either of us.  He heard about how much I struggled with the desire to have my own "experiences" outside the marriage now because the less evolved part of me wanted to even the score and enjoy all that male attention that would feel pretty nice on my newly burned self-confidence.  He got to hear about how sometimes I feared that I'd sold myself a dream of who he was that didn't really exist.  That maybe the love I felt for him was a symptom of MY dysfunction and not the beautiful, sweet gift from God I'd always considered it.   He got to hear how ANGRY I was that I'd always played by the rules - and he got to "ask for forgiveness", how I felt humiliated and made less than to someone that I didn't even consider in my league - and that I would never have done that to him, ON AND ON AND ON.   I didn't share it every single time I struggled - but I did a LOT.  And over months and years, the thoughts changed.  New things/questions and thoughts came up - and we talked those through.  So much talking.  For my husband this was a HUGE change.  He's always been a man of few words.  Now he was being required to not only listen a lot - but to share a lot too.  The more I shared, the more he learned about MY experience and how his actions had affected me.  The more he was willing to really THINK about my questions and when he was ready, answer them thoughtfully and truthfully (some of them took some soul-searching) the more he began to gain clarity about how his PERSPECTIVE of what was happening between us during that time combined with faulty communication and coping mechanisms on his part had led him to act out in ways that caused hurt to everyone involved.  It helped me understand (not condone) how he'd done what he did.  And it helped him see what he needed to change. 
3. I started asking him to listen to audio books like Brene Brown's "The Power of Vulnerability" and we'd discuss the concepts, how it related to both of us and our childhoods.  This wasn't just an exercise to make him consider what was "wrong" with him - but a genuine desire on both our parts to explore the things we might be missing that could give us both a better quality of life - together and individually.  
4.  He saw me focus on healing ME first - and knew that I expected him to do the same.  I think this helped both in the "leading by example" way and in the "I better figure my sh#$ out or she's going to leave me in the dust once when she's healed" sort of way. I was VERY, VERY clear in the first 18 -24 months that I was "trying" - I made no promises that I would or could get past it.  Only that I would do my best to heal myself - and assist HIS efforts to heal our marriage.  But I made it very clear that I absolutely considered his first order of business was to figure out how and why he'd chosen a dishonest and unethical way of dealing with his dissatisfaction in his life, himself and to a lesser degree, in our marriage.  Until THAT was addressed and he had proven to me that I had a good reason to believe that he had developed the skills and courage to be transparent, open and honest - and deal with confrontation and issues in our marriage in an upfront and healthy way - I would be focused exclusively on me - not the marriage.  I wouldn't take steps to kill it (divorce or acting out) but I wouldn't "work" on making it better.  Instead, I would work on stabilizing me and if at some point in the future he did convince me he had made those changes - then and ONLY then - would I consider staying permanently and working on other issues within the marriage.  Interestingly, once he addressed his faulty coping mechanisms and some other issues from childhood, we didn't really HAVE any other issues in the marriage.  He discovered that once he could talk about his needs openly and honestly - they got met with little trouble.  It wasn't me not wanting to meet them - it was his not allowing himself to "have" them or discuss them (but resenting me when they weren't met) that was the "problem". The key here is that I believe he was quite certain of two things - 1) I really WAS focused on me and he could see me getting stronger ever day.  He knew that I had the self-worth to leave him EVEN if I still loved him and create a better life for myself if I didn't think he could/would become the partner I wanted and needed 2) He firmly believed that I would ACT on that strength and self-care at some point if he didn't get his crap together and he was going to lose me.  
5.  I think he really genuinely hit what my mom like to call "your own personal windshield" (like a bug hitting a windshield.  He didn't like who he'd become and he started paying attention to all the people around him that had gone through things and used it as a catalyst for improving themselves rather than staying on a path of self-destruction.  He started thinking about the legacy he wanted to leave and how sorry he was that this was a part of it.  But he realized he still had time to write a different story.  One of change and redemption.  Of service to others and restitution.  I noticed that he started watching documentaries (of his own choice) about people who'd turned their life around.  And listening to podcasts and  watching movies about themes of redemption, living your values, etc.  Things I'd done for YEARS and he'd never really noticed or taken much from, but now he was interested, invested.  Wanting to talk about it, how it applied to our life and others.  This was a LONG internal process that seemed to just happen of its own accord.  I didn't FORCE it - but I did stay very, very clear about my boundaries and the the changes I would have to SEE and FEEL in order to stay long term.  How he achieved them, I left up to him more or less. (this was HARD).  Just offered suggestions or shared with him things I felt were helping me - in case they would also help him.  But I let go of the NEED for him to do it the way that made sense to me - and focused on my own healing - until my next 6 month alarm went off in my phone.  Then I'd assess how well he was doing in making me feel safe, valued, in being transparent, etc. And if I thought he was still progressing (which I obviously did since we are still together), I'd commit to another 6 months - until, as I said, so much change had taken place that I thought - I can live with this person for the rest of my life and be happy.  
6. Lastly - I think really wanting to heal his relationship with our young adult daughter  (22 on DD) forced him to change a lot too.  She did not make it easy for him.  Seeing himself through her eyes I think was a very, very painful experience.  And this was one of the places I'd always "smoothed" things over.  Their relationship had been bumpy since puberty - they are both hard headed and often struggled to understand one another  I often played "go between" because he seemed to always say or do the wrong thing.   After DD I was DONE with that.  I did NOTHING to hurt his relationship with her (other than be honest about what happened, but I won't be dishonest for anyone.)  I did this out of love for her, not because he deserved it in the moment.  But,  I also STOPPED being the go between.  If he was going to fix his relationship with her - it was on him.  I wasn't going to stir the pot against him - but I was done "fixing".  I am so glad I did.  In having to extend himself to learn about her experience and pain (along with mine) he grew in ways I could never have imagined.  It took a LONG time and a LOT of effort on his part.  He did a lot of stuff wrong. He cried many times in the first couple years, worrying their relationship would never recover.  But he stuck with it and even in his bumbling efforts, she saw how contrite he really was, how much he was trying.  And SLOWLY he regained her trust.  They actually have a stronger, more honest and healthier relationship now than they have since her middle school years.  And he learned just how valuable the trust we give those we love is - and how hard it is to regain when mistreated.  

Okay, I have no idea of whether you can make heads or tails of this, but I hope there is something useful in there!
BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child
DD May 2016

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl
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