Shayla
My husband and I haven't been making any progress in rebuilding recently, in fact it seems like we have taken several steps backward. He has withdrawn and seems to have just given up. About a month ago, I took off my rings and told him I wanted him to give them back to me, when he is ready to be my husband again. Since then I've had to withdraw to protect myself. We have been in limbo and I hate it. 

Yesterday, we finally had a conversation about where we are and where we are going and why the change in our progress. My husband said he can't answer my question (about why he cheats) So since he can't figure that out he is afraid he will cheat again. He fears hurting me again, he fears making promises and not being able to keep them, even though he says he wants to. Five years ago when we went through this he promised he would never cheat again and he meant it when he said it but here we are again. So he feels like that is proof that he will fail again. So basically he has given up trying because he doesn't want to fail again.

I feel partially at fault, because I've been pushing since his confession for him to figure out why he does this and I've told him that if he doesn't figure it out then he is much more likely to cheat again. He has already owned that he was selfish and cheating because he could and he wanted to. 

Is that enough? Is getting to the why absolutely necessary for success? I feel like you can't break a pattern if you don't see where it starts. Am I wrong?
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Anna26
Shayla wrote:
My husband and I haven't been making any progress in rebuilding recently, in fact it seems like we have taken several steps backward. He has withdrawn and seems to have just given up. About a month ago, I took off my rings and told him I wanted him to give them back to me, when he is ready to be my husband again. Since then I've had to withdraw to protect myself. We have been in limbo and I hate it. 

Yesterday, we finally had a conversation about where we are and where we are going and why the change in our progress. My husband said he can't answer my question (about why he cheats) So since he can't figure that out he is afraid he will cheat again. He fears hurting me again, he fears making promises and not being able to keep them, even though he says he wants to. Five years ago when we went through this he promised he would never cheat again and he meant it when he said it but here we are again. So he feels like that is proof that he will fail again. So basically he has given up trying because he doesn't want to fail again.

I feel partially at fault, because I've been pushing since his confession for him to figure out why he does this and I've told him that if he doesn't figure it out then he is much more likely to cheat again. He has already owned that he was selfish and cheating because he could and he wanted to. 

Is that enough? Is getting to the why absolutely necessary for success? I feel like you can't break a pattern if you don't see where it starts. Am I wrong?



Shayla: 

This is my husband exactly at the moment.  He's cheated before, swore never to do it again, shocked and surprised himself because he did, and can't figure out where he is going wrong.  He wouldn't know 'why' either, and beats himself up all the time that he will repeat his mistakes, and that he doesn't deserve another chance.  He won't talk to anyone about it and always tries to solve any emotional problems he has himself without involving anyone else.  Says it just isn't him, to talk about things.   I believe this contributes to him 'straying' because he just overloads himself when he is having a stressful time with work and life in general.  I don't push what I believe on him because then it's like I'm trying to make excuses for his behaviour and anyway he needs to figure out for himself 'why'.  LIke you, most of the time the affair isn't discussed and we are in limbo, waiting round for someone to make the next move.
As for the 'why' question itself, I think it's the BS who needs to know the answer to that, and the WS that needs to break out of the pattern for themselves.  I know that whatever I said to my husband would make absolutely no difference to any future behaviour, he has to take responsibility for that all on his own.  And I think the longer the stalemate goes on the less inclined I am to know the reason why anyway.  It almost seems that it happened so long ago now that it's not really important anymore.  Of course, that could be a bit of , 'oh, what the h**l, why should I care anyway (being in limbo has that effect). I don't think knowing is essential to healing and moving on.  I think it all depends how much peace of mind you would get from knowing 'why' if it were possible, or whether you could come to terms with not knowing and find peace within yourself regardless.
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Shayla
I'm to the point now where I don't really care about why. I want know what he is going to do to stop being so selfish and I want him to commit to rebuilding or moving on ( I would prefer rebuilding but anything is better than limbo) 

Usually we hear that the WS is pushing the BS to let go and move forward before they are ready, I feel like my H and I are reversed right now. I'm ready for him to forgive himself, let go of the fear, do the work and us get back to some kind of normal.
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Kalmarjan
It's almost like we need a WS boot camp.

It is very hard to look inward. Finding out you are the villain, and you have a propensity to solve the problems in a hedonistic way, is tough to accept, acknowledge, and overcome. There is a lot of uncomfortable questions you need to face in order to understand. It's not a weekend thing, it's am ongoing thing.

I'm still working on myself. I am together with my wife, and it's a process that is, quite frankly, draining at times. But to me it's worth it because I need to make sure I never do this again. Not just for my wife, but I don't want to be that guy again.

I find its almost like people pay lipservice in order to alleviate the question. Sure, I'll never cheat again. It's almost like we need to follow it up with the question, okay, demonstrate to me your resolve.

Like, if the situation arises again, what will you do? What steps to take?

Red flags would be things like, "I will never find myself. In that situation. I will. Avoid being alone with the opposite sex, or someone at work."

To me, this isn't enough. It's avoidance. It's not dealing with the root problem.

In the end, no matter what, the relationship will evolve how it has to. Whether that is with you both together, that's the question.
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TimT
You know, the whole WHY issue is certainly an important part of the process, but I sometimes thing too much focus gets place on it, as if there is an answer that will settle fears and provide assurance that another affair will not happen. I say that after all these years of counseling because it seems that even after an unfaithful spouse gains insight into the influences at play when the affair choice was made, their explanation is rarely comforting to the betrayed spouse.

The value of WHY answers is that they help establish what future boundaries should be. They may even give insight into past wounds that can be addressed in individual counseling. But even the best efforts won't yield a perfect explanation. I've spent over 20 years studying affairs, including my own, and I still think there are gaps in my understanding regarding all my WHY answers.

I'm not trying to discourage the pursuit of answers. That certainly IS a part of the recovery process. But sometimes that answer is little more than "I was feeling empty or lonely and wanted to do something that made me feel good." Trying to move someone to get to a deeper understanding (especially men who lack interest or ability to be vulnerable) may be putting the cart before the horse. They can become so frustrated with feeling like they cannot give a clear enough explanation that they become discouraged and shut down when faced with a betrayed spouse who wants more.

It is more important to have confidence that an unfaithful partner is committed to honesty and creating a safe place in the marriage. If they are committed to those things, I would encourage moving forward and encourage ongoing insight as you learn to love each other better than you did before.

I understand his fear of not being able to trust himself. I wrestled with the same. We learn what we are capable of and despite having once made a promise we fully intended to keep, we broke it. How can we ever be sure we could keep a promise again?

In a way, if your husband isn't just giving an excuse (because he wants to leave), this insecurity is actually a good sign... evidence that he sees his betrayal as something serious. But his assurance (and yours) of ongoing faithfulness has less to do with promises and more do to with new ways he learns to move toward you lovingly and honestly.
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Courage
It is all just so hard. The why's are so haunting. My marriage was so broken. I felt alone, lonely and so desperate for love. I in fact had opportunities, but I thought themthrough and had the insight to know that someone else wasn't the answer. Why did he not see that too? Instead he fell hook line and sinker into the arms of another woman!!! I feel bitter for his weakness against my strength. But now I'm the one who pays the consequences of his weaknesses. So not fair! Hard to show grace and be loving to someone who chose another person when I too could have but knew nothing good would come of it. I'm sorry, but I have to ask, are women the superior race. Are men so insecure that they can fall into the arms of another woman who strokes their ego when they aren't quite getting it at home. Perhaps this speaks to how boys are reared. Perhaps there is too much pressure for them to be more than they are capable of. Men need the same things women do.. Love, security, affirmation that what they are doing is enough and appreciated. Do we as women expect men to live up to a standard that we could never attain?? I'm only saying this, because since my husbands affair, I have been so acutely aware of how easy it is for men to cheat. I noticed this before I knew my husband cheated, but I see it now even more. I have been out with friends, struck up conversations with men and have known that if I pursued things further, these 'happily'married men could betray their wives in a heartbeat. Sorry if this is harsh... But I believe it to be true.
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Shayla
TimT wrote:
You know, the whole WHY issue is certainly an important part of the process, but I sometimes thing too much focus gets place on it, as if there is an answer that will settle fears and provide assurance that another affair will not happen. I say that after all these years of counseling because it seems that even after an unfaithful spouse gains insight into the influences at play when the affair choice was made, their explanation is rarely comforting to the betrayed spouse.

The value of WHY answers is that they help establish what future boundaries should be. They may even give insight into past wounds that can be addressed in individual counseling. But even the best efforts won't yield a perfect explanation. I've spent over 20 years studying affairs, including my own, and I still think there are gaps in my understanding regarding all my WHY answers.

I'm not trying to discourage the pursuit of answers. That certainly IS a part of the recovery process. But sometimes that answer is little more than "I was feeling empty or lonely and wanted to do something that made me feel good." Trying to move someone to get to a deeper understanding (especially men who lack interest or ability to be vulnerable) may be putting the cart before the horse. They can become so frustrated with feeling like they cannot give a clear enough explanation that they become discouraged and shut down when faced with a betrayed spouse who wants more.

It is more important to have confidence that an unfaithful partner is committed to honesty and creating a safe place in the marriage. If they are committed to those things, I would encourage moving forward and encourage ongoing insight as you learn to love each other better than you did before.

I understand his fear of not being able to trust himself. I wrestled with the same. We learn what we are capable of and despite having once made a promise we fully intended to keep, we broke it. How can we ever be sure we could keep a promise again?

In a way, if your husband isn't just giving an excuse (because he wants to leave), this insecurity is actually a good sign... evidence that he sees his betrayal as something serious. But his assurance (and yours) of ongoing faithfulness has less to do with promises and more do to with new ways he learns to move toward you lovingly and honestly.



I want him to explore why for the the boundaries, so he can do the work in the right areas. I know he will never give me a why answer that will magically make everything better. I don't want that. I just want to know that he is putting his efforts in the right area.  

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 But sometimes that answer is little more than "I was feeling empty or lonely and wanted to do something that made me feel good."


This would be perfectly acceptable to me, then he could figure out different more constructive things to do when he is feeling that way.

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In a way, if your husband isn't just giving an excuse (because he wants to leave), this insecurity is actually a good sign... evidence that he sees his betrayal as something serious. But his assurance (and yours) of ongoing faithfulness has less to do with promises and more do to with new ways he learns to move toward you lovingly and honestly


I do see this as a good sign, however it seems any time I think he is opening up and willing to be honest and vulnerable with me, then he puts his walls back up and shuts back down. 
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