Fionarob
I am a betrayed spouse trying to recover from my husband's two year affair and rebuild our marriage.  We are only two months in from the most recent DDay (there were several relapses) and I think my husband is still half in/half out of the affair fog!!  Some days he seems more willing to do what he needs to help me, other days he is still quite self-obsessed and complaining that I don't give him enough compliments/affection/cuddles etc etc. 

I think if I asked him what would help our marriage he would say for me to be more affectionate, give him more praise, make him feel equal in the marriage, give him compliments, make him feel loved etc etc.  Obviously I understand he needs those things, he is dealing with a large amount of shame and guilt and is desperate for approval and compliments from me to make him feel good about himself.

My question is will those things really help him to heal?  Is that all he needs or is that only part of the problem?  Before he had his affair he was getting those things and it wasn't enough to stop him then. It also didn't work in preventing him from having several relapses back into his affair.  I definitely went through a period of "hysterical bonding" early after the first DDay, and was showering my husband with love and affection.  It didn't help my situation at all as he just continued his affair - he was most certainly getting the best of both worlds at that point! 

If there are any wayward spouses out there who have come out of the fog and have remained in their marriage I would love to know what things their spouse did that truly helped them in their journey to a better place.
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UrbanExplorer
One thing that might help is seeing the BS appearing strong and doing positive things for him/herself. It is easy to admire and respect someone who is being firm with whatever boundaries are set and working toward their own future.
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TimT
Fionarob wrote:
...I think if I asked him what would help our marriage he would say for me to be more affectionate, give him more praise, make him feel equal in the marriage, give him compliments, make him feel loved etc etc.  Obviously I understand he needs those things, he is dealing with a large amount of shame and guilt and is desperate for approval and compliments from me to make him feel good about himself.

My question is will those things really help him to heal?  Is that all he needs or is that only part of the problem?...

I think there are two questions that need to be considered. The first (and most important at this point) is what is needed for HIM to heal? The second is what is needed for the marriage to heal? 

All those things you mentioned are definitely worth attending to in regard to building a healthy marriage. But, as you mentioned in your post, doing all those things do not address the need for him to understand what IN HIM needs to be addressed. The lack of those things did not cause him to have an affair (despite what he may claim) so starting to do them now will not address what allowed him to justify an affair as a solution to his discomfort or displeasure. He had other choices; and both you and he need to know how/why you can trust that DIFFERENT choices will be made in the future.

He needs some more insight into that, but I know a lot of people (esp men) do not care to do that kind of work. It's too vulnerable. It's easier to focus on the changes they want their spouse's to make so they won't feel discomfort or displeasure in the future. (News Flash: You WILL experience those things in the future. Every marriage does at one time or another.)

You will likely only begin to feel trust returning when you experience him accepting his responsibility and working at gaining more insight into his affair choices as well as understanding what changes are necessary to guard against it happening again.
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