hurting
I couldn't figure out where to post this. It isn't really to do with rebuilding our marriage at all. It's just something I have on my mind. 

Things haven't been going great lately. I suppose at one point, I was learning to move forward. Trying to control the triggers etc. Somehow, that is happening less. 

My WS is NOT an emotive kind of person. He's like a blank wall. I don't think this is necessarily out of choice... or perhaps part of it is. I think he genuinely doesn't know how to identify whatever it is he is feeling. He's really BASIC. It's always crap like 'sad', 'guilty', 'shame', 'tired', 'scared' and occasionally 'frustration'. When I flood, he sits there looking ahead or looking down. He doesn't walk away or tell me to get over it- he just sits there (I suspect he sits there feeling frustrated about whatever it is I'm screaming or crying about, but he doesn't SAY this. he just SITS). 

This REALLY bothers me. If I'm just sitting there crying, he will reach out to me... but when I'm flooding and full of anger/pain/sadness and it's pouring out, he just... sits. and takes it I suppose- or tries to block it out. I'm not sure which. Eventually when I'm done, the only thing he can come up with is 'thank you for sharing with me'. But there's no other dialogue. No other DISCUSSION about whatever my flooding was with regards to. I feel like we're in some kind of crazy AA meeting and he HAS to reply with 'thank you for sharing your experience'. When I get upset enough, I will in the midst of this, ask him the 'how' or 'why' questions- he either doesn't answer because he thinks it's a rhetorical question, or say the same things again and again: 'Because I was a stupid blind selfish as*hole who loved myself better than anyone else and only cared about my own needs and wants'. It gets to the point where it all feels rehearsed. This makes me MORE angry.

Perhaps there ARE no better answers. But it never feels like enough. 

I need to try to control my flooding better, I know. It's bloody HARD. I don't know whether it's because I feel like I HAVE to let him know about my pain and what's bothering me? I suppose perhaps I feel if I don't tell him, he'll feel it's all getting better and try to move on. I almost feel like I'm doing myself a disservice if I don't let it rip... because I would always suppress anything I was uncomfortable with in the past- I refuse to be that person again. Maybe I'm a terrible person who wants HIM to hurt because of how badly he has hurt me. I want him to SEE my pain that so he can understand what he has truly done! But how is someone who sits there like a rock understanding anything?!

I suspect the shutting down when I start to flood is because he feels shame, guilt, disgust for himself and remorse. That's all he ever says when I ask him what he's feeling during those times. Maybe he's lying to me about that too.

Certainly, I feel that his shame is a wall between us developing more intimacy. This wall is made more insurmountable by my flooding which worsens his shame... it's a vicious cycle. Last night, after the flooding... he couldn't even meet my eyes while lying in bed. I had to ask him repeatedly to look at me. Which he struggled to do... 

Can any WS on here talk to me about shame? remorse? guilt?  I think that is what I'm seeing and worsening. It's hard for me to understand. Just as I suspect it's hard for a WS to truly understand the pain they have inflicted on their BS.  But my WS seems incapable of telling me about it. I admit I have asked him what the heck he might know about pain when he has brought it up in the past... so I know part of this is my fault.

Today, while calm, I have tried to examine what is happening with my meltdowns. I pulled out some of the affair recovery books which I purchased so many months ago and reread the chapters that I felt were relevant to our position now. I need to re-examine my own thought patterns and work consciously to regain control and guard myself to help manage triggers and invasive thoughts. The struggle is real. 

But I need help in understanding where on earth my WS is at. Those of you who have more expressive WS... or better yet, those of you who ARE WS, can you chime in here and give me some perspective on how you may have felt? I am aware that I do not understand his shame- to the point where I can doubt its existence at times, because it isn't being portrayed in a way which is familiar to ME. Thinking about it now, I would have to guess that there must be some there, in order for him to be here 1 year on, to take the anger, pain, tears and demands that have been thrown his way. Or maybe he's a sociopath. More likely, he's just a guy who is feeling significant amounts of shame/guilt/remorse etc and has no idea how to deal with it, feels that he cannot express it because he was the cause of all of this, and his BS goes f'ing nuts at times from the pain he has caused her which makes it all worse. So he shuts down. 

I need help understanding his side of it- which isn't coming from him. Please give me some perspective...
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anthropoidape
I have sometimes tried to imagine what it would be like having to live with what my wife has to live with - the enormous harm she has done to innocent people. Not me, that is an issue on its own... I mean her AP's wife and children. Knowing that his children are damaged. Knowing that his wife may hate her and if so is completely justified in doing so.

I believe I would find it almost unbearable. She tells me - rarely, because she's only marginally more chatty than your WH - that it the guilt is never far from her mind and is painful to live with.

I am glad, frankly, that I don't have the guilt she's got.

Her AP also expressed remorse to me (eventually, when he wanted my help) but it is muddier because it was in the context of his own life blowing up. My wife has, of course, not lost her world like everyone else has in this sorry story. I don't believe he'd have felt remorse if things had panned out as he planned.


Anyway. As you know I have had meltdowns too. I had to put an end to them. It's not that I am not entitled to have them, it's that they were doing no good and some bad. His answers are never going to be good enough. It is lile a house needs to be 600 bricks and he only has 400. He can build the house amy which way but he can never actually build it properly. I do think you have to accept that there is never, ever going to be a sufficient answer. Ever. I have made big shift into the present. It is still really inadequate but I am focused on current inadequacy rather than past inadequacy. Some kind of progress. Good luck. 
Maybe it is okay, maybe it will be okay.

BS, d-day Feb 2017, 16 mth affair.
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hurting
That’s a good analogy and does kind of put into perspective why his answers are never good enough... 

I suppose I just can’t fathom how significant this guilt and shame a WS feels might be. I know he has occasionally told me it makes him feel suicidal. I took that as him looking for yet another way to escape the damage he has caused. Death is nice and easy compared to all of this. I’ve seen plenty of people die. It’s an end (obviously) and the ultimate escape. Every time he brings it up, I feel like it’s his escapism and fear of conflict kicking in again. 

Perhaps I should try to look at it more as his shame is so severe that he feels he could die. It’s absolutely self inflicted... but I guess it doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel it...

focusing on current inadequacies rather than those from the past is a hard one... but probably also a necessary move...

Similarly, he says he is ‘sorry’. ‘Sorry for destroying your world and your life’. Sorry is just SO inadequate for the magnitude of loss and pain that has been dealt. This is the same, isn’t it? No matter what he says, it will never be ENOUGH.

The AP in your case sounds horrible, though they all are really. The AP never expressed an ounce of remorse to me. She knew what she wanted and set out with intent to cause as much pain as possible. I hope one day she experiences what she has wrought. I am trying to keep her filed away as ‘irrelevant’, but it’s a struggle. Just now, I had to fight an mpulse to google her and try to seek some kind of revenge. 
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surviving
I may be out of line here, but saying "sorry" isn't good enough.  That isn't an admission of the wrong they did.  As I teach my children, they have to admit the wrong they did and then ask for forgiveness.  "I was wrong for _____, would you please forgive me?"  If they don't say what they did wrong, they aren't taking responsibility for what they did.  On DDay, my WS kept saying he was sorry.  I knew that meant he was sorry he got caught.  Now he will say he was so wrong for the huge list of things.  He isn't just sorry, he was wrong!
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hurting
Absolutely it’s important to identify WHAT the wrong was. He does do this... but it just never feels ENOUGH. It falls far short. He is sorry every day. For hurting me. Betraying me. Lying. Hiding. Destroying my life. The list goes on... 
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anthropoidape
Yeah, it simply never can be enough. The damage is permanent and nothing can change that. If he'd put your right arm in a mincer, there's no apology that can give you a new right arm. That's the reality.

A healed marriage, assuming there is such a thing, has got to be one that isn't perpetually in the shadow of the affair. One where the BS isn't in regular need of a new apology and the WS isn't in constant fear that (s)he is about to be berated or punished yet again for something that (s)he cannot undo and cannot fully repair. It is not about justice, it is just about a life worth living, for both of you. 

So, there are some people out there who can put things sufficiently behind them to move forward and have a healed marriage and live like a normal couple. There are others who cannot. If you want a healed marriage, you have to be one of those people who can. That might mean changing the kind of person you are. Fair? No. But still necessary.
Maybe it is okay, maybe it will be okay.

BS, d-day Feb 2017, 16 mth affair.
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Keepabuzz
Yeah, it simply never can be enough. The damage is permanent and nothing can change that. If he'd put your right arm in a mincer, there's no apology that can give you a new right arm. That's the reality.

A healed marriage, assuming there is such a thing, has got to be one that isn't perpetually in the shadow of the affair. One where the BS isn't in regular need of a new apology and the WS isn't in constant fear that (s)he is about to be berated or punished yet again for something that (s)he cannot undo and cannot fully repair. It is not about justice, it is just about a life worth living, for both of you. 

So, there are some people out there who can put things sufficiently behind them to move forward and have a healed marriage and live like a normal couple. There are others who cannot. If you want a healed marriage, you have to be one of those people who can. That might mean changing the kind of person you are. Fair? No. But still necessary.


Well put!
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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Keepabuzz
The damage is permanent. I hope to have a healed marriage, but I do think it will always be in the shadow of my wife’s affair. How could it not be? My boundaries will not weaken, or change. I will never fully trust her again, or anyone for that matter.  I honestly don’t see a way around it. What if I had beat her for the same period of time as her affair, and emotionally,  psychologically, and mentally abused her as well. We may have worked to get to where it was in the past, but she would flinch forever if I moved to quick in anger, right?  The damage is F-O-R-E-V-E-R.....
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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anthropoidape
Keepabuzz wrote:
The damage is permanent. I hope to have a healed marriage, but I do think it will always be in the shadow of my wife’s affair. How could it not be? My boundaries will not weaken, or change. I will never fully trust her again, or anyone for that matter.  I honestly don’t see a way around it.



What would need to be different about you for it to be possible? For you to be someone who could leave the shadow behind?

What would need to be different about her?

You have decades of life ahead of you. Maybe it's not possible. Or maybe it is possible but only if you undergo profound change.
Maybe it is okay, maybe it will be okay.

BS, d-day Feb 2017, 16 mth affair.
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Keepabuzz



What would need to be different about you for it to be possible? For you to be someone who could leave the shadow behind?

What would need to be different about her?

You have decades of life ahead of you. Maybe it's not possible. Or maybe it is possible but only if you undergo profound change.


I don’t think there is anything, sadly.  What’s done is done. Like the arm in the mincer, the hand doesn’t grow back. You just learn to live without it.  But it’s not like you forget the hand is gone. 

I mean I think we are doing well. My bad days are only once every couple of weeks. But there is still the shadow of all that is lost. The wife I thought I had, the life I thought I had, etc. All anyone can do is learn to live with it.  Sure I could leave her and find someone new, but that would be disasterous for my kids, and honestly, I wouldn’t trust someone new either. My wife is a good wife now, I do trust her somewhat, I think as much as I ever will.  I guess I should describe that a bit better. I do not believe she has any desire to cheat on me again. But I don’t trust that she won’t change her mind in the future. She certainly had no desire to cheat on me when she married me, but she changed her mind.  So I guess I don’t trust her conviction, and commitment.  I am prepared, mentally, emotionally, and financially (as best as possible with hiding money or assets) to leave her at any time. If she should revert to her old ways, literally ANY of them. Even those far short of betrayal. I would be a fool yet again to not protect myself. “Fool me once” The down side to that is I have these walls up that she (or anyone else) can’t get past. No idea what to do about that. It’s just a consequence of her betrayal.  
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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hurting
I think what would help me, as I’ve told my WS, is to SEE his remorse and shame over what he has done. Because he has serious difficulty with communicating anything that involves feelings in general, that’s where his apologies come in. 

I have told him this before, but him apologising for specific things that he did (the more specific the better), rather that ‘I’m sorry that I betrayed you and hurt you’ helps because it demonstrates to me that he is thinking about the things he did which led to this, rather than a more generic apology. 

I need to ‘see’ his shame and remorse in a way that I can understand, so that I know he ‘gets’ it. But he struggles to do this for me as we experience and process emotions very differently. That’s why I was hoping that a WS could chime in here to help me understand their perspective. I have never done anything that I have experienced serious all consuming guilt for. I’ve done small things WRONG from time to time that i feel guilty or ashamed of, but I have no concept of this magnitude of shame or guilt- nor how a person can just sit there like a rock if feeling it.

Perhaps the other thing that is needed in order to achieve a ‘healed’ marriage is time. 

Like Keepabuzz, I have certain boundaries that will not change. We had a very close one this past weekend- I was working a night shift and he went out to a Christmas party after discussion with me with regards to whether I would be ok with this. My one hesitation was that I didn’t want him to drink too much. He told me he wouldn’t. I unfortunately got triggered badly while he was there, and we had a big blow up during which I admittedly flooded very badly. He told me he would head home ‘soon’ at the end of that conversation. We were both very upset. And he subsequently drank WAY too much... didn’t keep me up to date on where he was at, and didn’t go home soon as he had said. He got home 3h later.

Now he didn’t try to hide this- I suppose he could’ve given I was working and not at home. I knew anyway as it was my brother who picked him up and helped him to our room, but when I returned the next morning, he openly admitted that he had been upset, didn’t recognise he was close to his limit as he has been drinking significantly less since d-day, he had had far too much to drink and it all caught up to him unexpectedly. 

This is is a close reminder to who and what he was pre d-day. He used to drink heavily and irresponsibly when going out, and I know alcohol was involved with the AP. Alcohol is a significant disinhibitor- especially in someone with known poor boundaries. 

I was FURIOUS, exhausted after having worked my butt off overnight, disappointed and felt betrayed all over again. I told him that his behaviour was the same as before, I would not tolerate ANY of it and if he was unwilling to change, then to get the hell out of my life and I would happily file for divorce and leave this mess behind. I was crying, screaming... flooding. Massively. I am honestly not prepared to put up with that kind of behaviour any more. THAT is one of my boundaries. I ended up walking away to take a shower and eventually just fell asleep. 

We had a talk the next day. Divorce was not off the table if he wanted to persist with that kind of lifestyle. The only way I was willing to try was with a newly reinforced boundary- I’m no longer going to accept that ‘he will control how much he drinks’. Clearly he’s incapable of that. He either quits drinking altogether when he’s out or I’m out. This does not include at home or while with family. He agreed to this... but time will tell.

My boundaries over what I will live with and what I won’t live with are forever going to be here. Is that counted as part of the shadow of his affair? These things have been brought up post affair, yes. Because I see them as related. But I’m establishing what are boundaries within a relationship for me, where I failed to do so previously. Surely every relationship has defined boundaries? Mine are stronger and perhaps tougher because of the affair... but is it really a ‘shadow’?

The other thing that I suppose is necessary to achieve a ‘healed’ marriage, is to do as you mentioned earlier, Anthro. To focus on what is in front of us currently, and not the past. I get this from the recent posts made by Kelanie and others who have healed enough to leave this forum behind... to accept the affair happened and we cannot change this, to accept that we have the choice to leave at any point should our WS revert, but to see what they have become or are becoming... I think my main issue is that my WS still has current inadequacies which need to be addressed... and time. 
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Sorry
As a WS the shame is immense and you do truely with you had a restart button.
You have dont something very uncomprehansibly evil and when other people know about it you pretty much are no longer given a chance to chance .or it takes a longer time to belive you could change. 

My husband and I have been seeing a therapist for the last three years and it has been amazing for our communication.
My husband gets very angry and defiant with me when I get upset and actually need to be cared about and heard (yes even WS have needs and if they are not met you dont get a heard marriage no matter how stong your boundaries).

She quite regularly will interupt a melt down to ask how the other person feels and they can be honest. I have often been totally shocked at some of My husband replies and even angry. We have had days of not wanting to talk to eachother over some of the truths heard. 

But our marriage councillor has also coached us into how to work with eachother By asking the upset spouse what they would have liked the other spouse to do in such a circunstance to that We have the tools. We really do love eachother so understanding what the other person is actually looking for opens a door to understanding how best to meet that need.

Perhaps tell your husband what you wanting him to do, he obviously has no idea and while you may want it to be intrinsic to his behaviour it just may need some coaching at first.

It really does get better if you work on communication. Ideally between meltdowns rather that during they.
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hurting
Sorry, thank you for taking the time to give me your perspective.

My WS does ask me what he can do to help or what I would want him to do... the problem is, that will vary with how I’m feeling (angry vs sad) etc. although I feel that it ‘takes away’ from his actions when I coach him on how to behave, I have learnt that I HAVE to. Otherwise he really has no idea at all. 

Like your husband, I too got very angry if my WS got upset. I told him early on that he has no right to be upset or angry or frustrated because HE did all this. He would feel frustrated because I may ask the same thing over and over again and I would be VERY angry. I maintain that he has no right to be angry or frustrated back at me. He can be angry at himself for creating such a situation. His role as far as I was concerned, was to be there and take it all on and OWN it. To be remorseful and regretful and sorry. How does getting upset fit into that?! 

As a BS who had had everything destroyed by their WS, it’s hard to find any kind of sympathy for the WS ‘getting upset’. The WS wasn’t the one who unsuspectingly trusted and loved, only to be tossed aside and had everything they believed in anhiliated. 

Having said that, with the benefit of a some time... I can see right now when calm, that a WS may get upset, not because they have a ‘right’ to be so, but because it’s a crappy situation that they have created, it’s hard, it’s uncomfortable, you may be ‘trying’ but it all just keeps blowing up in your face, you’re trying but your BS just doesn’t believe you etc.

While it’s absolutely not ok to take that out on your BS, the BS is so vulnerable and in so much pain and hurt that ANY expression of pain and upset by the WS seems almost like it’s to ridicule the BS. I may even have said to my WS at some point: ‘oh boo hoo... I feel SO MUCH PAIN! I feel so terrible because I cheated. God that hurts!’ As mockery... as compared to the BS’s pain of actually being cheated upon. I honestly felt it was ridiculous that he DARED to be upset or talk to ME about pain when he hadn’t even been hurt by me like this and it was all his doing!!

These past responses of mine have had the effect of my WS being unwilling to share his pain. I take responsibility for this and I have told him as much. Now that we are 1 year + out, i believe he is starting to feel shame more strongly... or perhaps I am able to see it in him more. I have apologised for not making it safe for him to express how he feels, and though I maintain that frustration towards ME because of this situation really isn’t on, I do wish he would be able to express more.

although he says his levels of shame are unchanged and similar to what they have been, I feel it is increasing. He struggles now more than before to initiate intimacy with me. He actually struggles to even LOOK at me- he does it when I request, but finds it very hard to maintain eye contact and looks down or away. Especially if I have been crying or unhappy. He says he doesn’t need to see it to know it’s there, and that he lives with the shame of knowing how badly he has hurt me every day. Even if he cannot see my tears, he hears it and sees them in other ways. He has mentioned when pushed that the shame of what he has done gives him suicidal thoughts at times. He often thinks that the world would be better off without he who did such horrific things. He does acknowledge that these thoughts are not helpful and are his escapist tendancies kicking in again (he always avoided conflict and preferred to lie and do things underhand rather than have an argument in the past), and tells me he has to try to ‘process the thoughts’ when they come up. I think that means actually identifying that they are unhelpful and not what he wants to be? All of this is rather foreign to me- I see suicidal people often enough and I know MYSELF that this is not a path I would choose to take no matter how tough things are. 

He has been seeing an IC for a year now, who has literally done nothing but talk to him about managing shame and processing it. I honestly don’t know if this is even helpful. My WS says he thinks it is something that he needs time to work on and learn to deal with. 

Did you find that your shame interfered with how well you could interact with your husband? 

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Sunflower_dj
Sorry wrote:
As a WS the shame is immense and you do truely with you had a restart button.
You have dont something very uncomprehansibly evil and when other people know about it you pretty much are no longer given a chance to chance .or it takes a longer time to belive you could change. 

My husband and I have been seeing a therapist for the last three years and it has been amazing for our communication.
My husband gets very angry and defiant with me when I get upset and actually need to be cared about and heard (yes even WS have needs and if they are not met you dont get a heard marriage no matter how stong your boundaries).

She quite regularly will interupt a melt down to ask how the other person feels and they can be honest. I have often been totally shocked at some of My husband replies and even angry. We have had days of not wanting to talk to eachother over some of the truths heard. 

But our marriage councillor has also coached us into how to work with eachother By asking the upset spouse what they would have liked the other spouse to do in such a circunstance to that We have the tools. We really do love eachother so understanding what the other person is actually looking for opens a door to understanding how best to meet that need.

Perhaps tell your husband what you wanting him to do, he obviously has no idea and while you may want it to be intrinsic to his behaviour it just may need some coaching at first.

It really does get better if you work on communication. Ideally between meltdowns rather that during they.


Agree!  Working on communication and understanding each other’s communication styles is key to rebuilding.

  A really big breakthrough my therapist has prompted was that ‘everything is not always about you’. We tend to over analyze others behaviour and make assumptions about what it means, take it personally and negative emotions follow. It’s not always about you, but about them. Understanding that and what the communication style means is a game changer. 

Eventually you can can walk away understanding  that you didn’t do or say anything wrong in that moment, it’s just how you husband processes information. My husband tends to be a brick wall as well and I was always hurt by his lack of communication. I would lash out about it and a fight would follow. Which leaves me walking on eggshells about sharing my feelings with him....and the sense of going nowhere. Now I give him time to process my words and we are able to openly discuss our relationship issues without anger and frustration. Sometimes I have to wait an hour while he thinks things through, but the results are much better. 
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hurting
All good points which I appreciate input on.

The trouble is re: communication which is really quite interesting, I suppose that I am far better at it than my WS. The ACTUAL problem, appears to be that my WS has a LOT of difficulty in identifying and processing his own feelings. So it’s not even about communicating them. 

In MC we do this exercise where we sometimes ‘swap chairs’- he answers our MC as me, and I answer as him. Then we swap back and she goes through what each of us said as the other person with us. 

My WS usually manages to quote me fairly accurately- because I am VERY verbose in telling him what/how I feel. The opposite is true for him though. I answer (as him) based off what I think his responses would be, but he often disagrees with them. Which is fine! That’s great! Tell us what you really think! Here’s the problem though- he gets STUCK. Even to the MC, with her leading and guiding, he really struggles to identify what he actually feels, despite disagreeing with some of my answers. All he can say is ‘that’s not quite how I feel/think.’ Or when she asks a particular question, he might answer ‘it’s ok’. This leaves me feeling like I’m just going ????. Even our MC has been confounded and asked him- ‘what do you mean by ok?’ Which he also struggles to answer. And sits there like a rock. OR says he doesn’t really know.

So he understands or can at least say the words that describe how I think or feel, more than how he can identify how HE himself is thinking or feeling. Our MC asked him whether this was the case at one point, and he said yes... 

I WANT to listen and understand. But how can I do that if he can’t actually say anything that helps with understanding? What the heck does ‘ok’ even mean?! 

Which is is why I wonder whether this has to do with shame. Because I know he feels this. And why I turn to here to try to understand the shame a WS might feel, from others who have been in a similar situation to him and perhaps are a bit better at articulating how they feel. 

From what I understand, (thanks Sorry), the amount of shame and guilt a WS may feel is huge. Just like I don’t think he can understand my pain, I suspect I cannot understand his shame. For my WS, it appears to be enough to give him suicidal thoughts at times when faced with it directly. It takes strength to not run when faced with that kind of shame. It’s not really comparable to the pain a BS feels- they are totally different things. But I wonder whether the strength of that shame/guilt is enough to eclipse most other emotions and make them difficult to identify, particularly for someone who struggles with this kind of thing anyway.

again to the WS on here- how do you view this? Do you feel that your experience of shame affects your ability to express things to your BS?
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