Urban, I agree with you. If the goal is to get back to what the marriage was like before I initiated the affair - then there is no way I could justify climbing this mountain. In the case of my affair, we were on a long downward spiral, we were basically roommates trying to raise our kids. For OVER A YEAR (almost two) there were no deep discussions, no sex, we barely kissed and only for a show for the kids. You want misery - that was it. We were like stubborn two-year olds - neither willing to give an inch. So - do we want to get back to where we were before affair... no no never.
My poor wife, who was also feeling all of these same frustrations, was even more isolated at home with the kids. Her frustrations bubbled over into anger/rage at me - which further drove me away (because I didn't have the adult capability to discuss these). You can see how this spiral went.
I took the easy way out and found fulfillment with someone else that was in my same situation.
DDAY and the fallout did make us address many of these things. My wife repeatedly makes me aware that we could have worked all of these things out even if I didn't have an affair... and she is so, so right. But alas, the affair happened. I would take it back in a second if I could. But out of this extreme pain, there is hope.
Already, I see we are much more open with each other in expressing our frustration, anger, and also (importantly) happiness and optimism for our baby steps.
Now that we have the affair elephant in the room, our recovery takes on a different nature. We don't get the luxury of continuous progress. We get days where we will make some progress followed by days where all she can do is cry followed by days where I am an absolute punching bag. I hate those last two types of days, but that is the post affair reality - that is what I did. All I can be is strong for both of us on those days (not even close to the # of days I chose to be a coward). And that end result of being strong... man... if I can ever get there - it brings tears to my eyes to think about it.
So, as much as I need to get my BS to trust me again, I also feel like I am going into this recovery effort with a certain degree of trust as well. The big question - are we capable of coming out on the other end of this with a deeper connection? I have to think YES, my heart tells me yes. But if this marriage thing was easy, there wouldn't be so many that fall apart.
So urban, I understand your hesitation. Here are questions I have asked myself (after experiencing the extreme types of feelings present in an affair): 1) why is it so easy w AP and so difficult w BS? 2) were me and BS ever even compatible? 3) am I still the same person I was when I was married 16 years ago - do I want the same things- the same person? 4) what if we get right back into the same horrible marriage patterns we had before?
You might have a lot of these questions yourself. For me:
1) a lot of the postings on this site have helped me realize what an affair is. I was able to build exactly the person I wanted to be by controlling the information I gave to my AP. I saw that reflected in her eyes when she looked at me. That was intoxicating - but not real.
2 & 3) whew... tough questions. I am obviously not the same person I was 16 years ago - nobody is. Neither is my spouse. Are we best friends? I can tell you honestly, in the last two years of our marriage before dday, I doubted if we were even friends -- ouch, I know. But I can also tell you this, if I treated her with respect, vulnerability, half the affection she deserves - she will pay me back in spades. If she doesn't, all I can do is let her know about it - her choice... But at least this go around, she is aware of it - I will give her the courtesy of making the choice. I was such a fool for not understanding this the first time.
4) yep - that is always a distinct possibility and one that troubles me more than I would like. All I can say here, is I will try, given these new tools that I have. I will not be a coward, I will voice my frustrations and also voice my happiness and learn how to support instead of tear down. I will consciously work on and be these things - I will expect the same from my BS and we will hold each other to this explicit contract. It is all we can do - and certainly what spouses owe one another. If it doesn't work after that - well, at least we can say we tried.