TimT
As I've been working on the Affair Healing Manuals, I've been considering the changes in the way an unfaithful spouse views their husband/wife. 

Think about you're spouse's view of you when you first met, and consider the LEVEL OF ATTENTION they gave to your features (the strengths/assets of personality, skill, appearance, behavior, etc.) and the attention they gave to your flaws (the weaknesses/liabilities of personality, skill, appearance, behavior, etc.). Chances are, their attention to your FEATURES was very high and their attention to your FLAWS was very low (if they even noticed them).
Perspective Shifts.png      

Additionally, they made EMOTIONAL INVESTMENTS in their consideration of your favorable features. They didn't just notice them, they were ATTRACTED to them which, quickly or eventually, turned into a LONGING for you. If we rate the emotional investments on a scale of 0 to 5 (0 being no emotional investment and 5 being maximum emotional investment), it is likely their attraction to you and longing for you were both experienced at maximum, or near maximum, levels.

The third type of emotional investment in "features" is DEVOTION. Devotion typically builds over time as longing somewhat diminishes. This is a natural and healthy progressions, as a relationship encounters situations that require vulnerability and commitment. When properly experienced, the relationship deepens and becomes more secure.

In the same manner, a person can be aware of a partner's flaws without focussing attention on them or making emotional investments into them. Emotional investments in this area progress from IRRITATION to CRITICISM to REJECTION. Each of these can also be measured on a scale of 0 to 5.

As we spend more time with someone we love, be become more aware of their flaws. Nobody is perfect. In a healthy relationship, however, there is no focus of attention on the flaws and any emotional investment is limited to low levels of irritation and criticism.

If you had an accurate view of your spouse's perspective of you just prior to the start of the affair, what do you think it would look like? Chances are, attention to your features was low to medium with diminished emotional investment, although devotion may have still been 4 or 5. On the other hand, it is likely that more attention (privately or openly) was given to flaws and emotional investment increased in this area.

However, even if the pattern of your marriage was "not so bad" prior to the start of the affair, I can almost guarantee that patterns switched drastically soon after the affair began. Once your spouse broke their promise to you and crossed boundaries into another relationship, they began to experience the affair partner in a pattern that was probably very much like the beginning of their relationship with you.

This idealistic pattern (high attention to features, low awareness of flaws, emotional investments of attraction and longing) offers an immediate experience that is in sharp contrast to their view of you. In fact, your spouse will likely stop all emotional investment into your features (no attraction, no longing, diminishing devotion) and, instead, focus on your flaws (with increased irritation, criticism, rejection). 

WHO HAS CHANGED IN THIS SCENARIO? Probably not you. It is the perspective of your spouse that has shifted. The truth is, you are still essentially the same person you were at the start of your marriage. Maybe both of your became less attentive to the needs of your marriage, but you have the ability to fix those things.

Your spouse's ability to appreciate you and emotionally invest in you is still an option, but they are enticed to the affair. From their current perspective, there simply is no comparison. In fact, the only thing that may be holding them to you may be devotion that has morphed into plain duty.

I'm still working all this out in order to provide a clearer explanation, but thought I'd share...
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johnbluedog69
I can tell you from my experience even the duty of devotion fades and soon becomes a liability to the ws. my ww has gotten to a point where she knows she has an obligation to finish our marriage before starting another relationship with someone else she is too emotionally invested in her ap to finish what she started with me. I am dying of stomach cancer and even that is not enough for her to come back to be by my side as I fade away.I am afraid of what will happen to our two sons when I get to a point where I can't care for them properly, will she come back to assume her role as mother to my boys or not I just don't know.
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TimT
johnbluedog69 wrote:
I can tell you from my experience even the duty of devotion fades and soon becomes a liability to the ws...

Yes, that's true. I was thinking in terms of couples who come to me for counseling on the other side of infidelity. Sometimes, the only tie keeping the unfaithful spouse in the marriage is an unstable sense of duty. As a counselor, that's a starting place for me. The challenge is to move them from duty back to devotion. That is seldom a quick process.
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Damot

I can agree with the initial part when the affair came about however I feel that my wife is gone. I could see a dramatic shift in the criticism toward me upon exposure however looking back to the preceeding months there was a lot of passive aggressive behaviour and other things that when pieced together painted the picture. Prior to separation she felt that she said she had a duty to to things for the marriage (although wasn't really interested in it).

Would have been good to see a counselor that is on your wavelength Tim and not one that suggested separation.

Since separation is continuing her negative speach. Along the way and even recently she says that she is emotionally exhausted and doesn't want to be on the roller coaster ride anymore. I find that a difficult to understand why she says she is emotionally exhausted yet continues to expend emotional energy pursuing the AP. Might be like johnbluedog69's situation where she is just too emotionally invested with the AP and exhaustion is an excuse or she wants to see if the grass is greener.

Will fill in on the other side, if that ever arrives, however the actions at the moment appear to be looking at a clean break.

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Guiltguilt
I think that's what lead into the fog for me.

The sly turning of focussing on the negatives, rather than the positives, and for me, a loss of gratitude.

My wife is getting on with her life successfully. I can see why I married her.
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StayingStrong
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The challenge is to move them from duty back to devotion. That is seldom a quick process.


How likely is this to happen? How often are you able to help? And how long does it take?

My husband has been acting more caring and doing more thoughtful things for me over the past few weeks. From what I know, it's been a bit over a month since last contact with his AP (he could be lying of course). Things do feel different. I'm not sure if I should reciprocate more and be a little hopeful things are starting to turn around. I'm being cautious. I am focused on my own well-being and that of my children rather than getting caught up in his sadness and indecision to recommit.
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TimT
StayingStrong wrote:
TimT wrote:
The challenge is to move them from duty back to devotion. That is seldom a quick process.
How likely is this to happen? How often are you able to help? And how long does it take?


How likely is it to happen? It depends on whether there was previous devotion in the marriage, how long ago devotion diminished or ended, what is currently motivating the unfaithful spouse, and whether there is still divided devotion with someone else.

How often are you able to help? With those who have had a history of healthy intimacy and trust that came out of internal values, quite often. If those were never established in an unfaithful partner, they will not likely appear after an affair... although it is even possible then if the crisis brings the WS to a sincere examination of their life.

How long does it take? It varies. Sometimes very quickly, but it is often a process that takes months, even years. Of course, the betrayed spouse has no obligation to wait around to see if it finally happens!
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flight
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I became viewed by my husband as the desperate, controlling, emotionally unstable wife.  He told me I needed psychological help.  He told me he pitied me.  Instead of valuing my unwavering loyalty, love, and devotion for him, he saw me as weak and pathetic and expressed his wish that I would find a boyfriend of my own and move on from him.  


Just FYI, this is pretty much word for word what my WW told me. We should help each other see them running their script on us. "You are just desperate and trying to win me back", "It is all about winning for you", You don't love me, you just need to win", "you are just trying to control me. If you loved me you would set me free/let me go/allow me to find out for myself if this is really love", "You googled me???? You are SICK flight, truly SICK!", "Are you accusing me of lying?? I feel pity for you!", "You had no right to look in our closet and find those letters, they are MY personal property! You need psychological help, you really do", "I kept hoping you would find a girlfriend and move on".

The only thing I would add, is that I believe we should be aware of how they can perceive what we see as devotion as weakness. At some level, I think they see themselves for who they are and see us as weak for loving someone who is doing what they are doing. If "devotion" turns to "doormat", they have no respect for us. And who would love someone they don't respect?
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SuzieQ
TimT wrote:
How often are you able to help? With those who have had a history of healthy intimacy and trust that came out of internal values, quite often. If those were never established in an unfaithful partner, they will not likely appear after an affair... although it is even possible then if the crisis brings the WS to a sincere examination of their life.


Sooooo what do you think healthy intimacy and trust look like?

What I'm finding out now is that my WH had quite a traumatic childhood - some of which I knew. He repressed a lot of it and made light of what he did aknowledge. So from a very young age he built internal protections against everyone and everything - without ever really thinking about them or stopping to aknowledge them. I'm learning now that, although I thought we shared a healthy infancy and trust, he wasn't showing his true self all this time. He says he didn't really realize it. It just had always been his experience. He's so afraid of being judged or ridiculed or put down that he projected an image of who he THOUGHT he SHOULD be, but stifled a lot of his true feelings, and thoughts. Now he's trying to figure out what his real core values even are. Of course none of this is my fault, but I'm still involved. Along for the ride. Totally duped all these years. It's frightening for me.

It's like he valued our relationship so much that he couldn't chance me judging the "real" him so he went and found someone else to be "real" with.

So all these years or intimacy and trust I shared with him/towards him...it's sounding like he didn't share those with me. Does that make any sense?

Can that be fixed?
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Scarlett
Through my own examination as a WS I discovered many of my issues are carry overs from my childhood. I also believe it was the same for my AP since we had similar backgrounds. These were things I didn't understand until I went to IC, so I'm not sure I would hold that against him for not sharing it with you.

All of this is helpful to a WS to understand why the affair happened. It's probably not helpful to you, but it's important to us to understand why we did what we did, what we were seeking in the affair, to forgive ourselves, and in my own case learn how to love, learn what a real relationship is like, and learn what proper boundaries are. These seem like no brainers for people who grew up in loving homes, but for those of us who did not, we have to learn as adults what a proper loving relationship is. 

I know I will always struggle with these issues and will have to work at this the rest of my life. Yes it would be so much easier for me to go seek it in others then to do the hard work, but I'm trying to do what's right for the commitment I made in my marriage. 

So my point is, I wouldn't be upset he did not share these things with you. Try to use it as a tool to understand your WS. I think suppressing pain from childhood is normal, and probably more so in men who are raised to not express feelings. If he is doing the hard work and you love him, your support and understanding as he deals with these painful things from his childhood can go a long way in healing your marriage. 


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SuzieQ
Thanks for the response Scarlett.

I'm really trying NOT to hold I against him. I know his childhood traumas are not his fault and how can you know that you're "broken" if it's all you've ever known?...until something helps you see. So that's one of the main reasons I'm still here. I LOVE that boy...probably more than anyone has ever loved him. A real, true, healthy love. He's made a mess of things for sure, but I want to give him time to see if he'll hunker down and do the work - fight for us. I'm not holding it against him, BUT I also know those are his own issues and his to fix. I can't do it for him.

TimT said, "With those who have had a history of healthy intimacy and trust that came out of internal values, quite often. If those were never established in an unfaithful partner, they will not likely appear after an affair... although it is even possible then if the crisis brings the WS to a sincere examination of their life." ...and I guess that made me wonder how this fits us. What are the chances for us?

It's hard for me to say whether we truly had a history of healthy intimacy and trust. I definitely had it for him, but have his childhood traumas prevented him from truly sharing in those experiences with me?...and if so, what will that mean for us?

Not that anyone has a crystal ball...
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VoodooChild
"[

Chances are, attention to your features was low to medium with diminished emotional investment, although devotion may have still been 4 or 5. On the other hand, it is likely that more attention (privately or openly) was given to flaws and emotional investment increased in this area.



However, even if the pattern of your marriage was "not so bad" prior to the start of the affair, I can almost guarantee that patterns switched drastically soon after the affair began. Once your spouse broke their promise to you and crossed boundaries into another relationship, they began to experience the affair partner in a pattern that was probably very much like the beginning of their relationship with you." (End quote)


Prior to my spouses affair, attention to features was fair, devotion high but emotional involvement sporadic at best. He had the potential to be emotional at times, to some degree but most of that dissipated after we married. He struggled with PTSD related to his career choice and rarely, if ever, spoke of his thoughts or feelings. There was very high tension in the house. He spent more and more time "in his head" and I compensated with the children, making excuses for his irritability and taking care of the household. He was still interested in me physically, but because I was so overwhelmed, exhausted and lacking true emotional connection I was much less interested. I tried talking to him about things but he had very little insight and even if he had would have been unable to change as this emotional disconnection is what enabled him to do his job. The lack of physical intimacy bothered him the most and he didn't see the connection in physical and emotional intimacy. Despite this, I think we saw mostly positive things in the marriage and one another. He became more satisfied with the way things were at work but still sought some comfort in me. He's always been very comfortable talking with woman, which I never had issue with because he was so devoted to me. However, when he lost his job suddenly, and wrongfully, everything changed. His depression and anger for the situation increased and no matter what things I did to support him he seemed to find increasing flaw in me and our marriage. I remember being surprised when he started a conversation with me about, "what we were going to do about our marriage." I had no clue what he was talking about. The marriage wasn't perfect but it was way more good then bad. It was this conversation and a few others like it that I had to listen with an open mind and remind him that things weren't so bad. I didn't know that he began talking with another woman soon after he was terminated and within three weeks began emotional connection with her. He said that we never talked, but he was always on the phone or Facebook. Now I know he was talking to her. I gave him space because I knew he was struggling and wanted him to be happy again. he continued to drift away and after about 7-8 months of the affair he found the excuse he needed to go all in. I grew tired of having to convince him that our marriage wasn't as flawed as he was seeing it. The things he saw and said were completely irrational and completely based in any negative he could find at this point. I thought it was the negativity from his depression. I never suspected an affair. Even when I learned about the affair I couldn't believe it until I saw proof. After one argument I said that I didn't know that I wanted to work on things anymore and that if something didn't change we wouldn't see our 4th anniversary. This combined with the irrational belief that I'd had an affair with an ex coworker was all he needed. He dove in telling her how much he loved her and having sex with her. He doesn't admit to this but I think he was waiting for me to do him a favor and end the relationship so that he didn't have to be the bad guy. He was telling her that I was leaving him, any day I'd leave him. Why he thought that, there is no real reason except that he needed to believe that to justify the relationship with her. Hearing myself say these things I wonder why I'm still even here...Anyway, the devotion was bankrupt at this point. So now April 2015, he was completely gone. I still have no idea why he didn't just leave. Thinking that this was still depression and unresolved anger from the wrongful termination and loss of identity I didn't want to leave the man I vowed to support in good times and bad I couldn't imagine disregarding my commitment to him.

WHO HAS CHANGED IN THIS SCENARIO? Probably not you. It is the perspective of your spouse that has shifted. The truth is, you are still essentially the same person you were at the start of your marriage. Maybe both of your became less attentive to the needs of your marriage, but you have the ability to fix those things.

Your spouse's ability to appreciate you and emotionally invest in you is still an option, but they are enticed to the affair. From their current perspective, there simply is no comparison. In fact, the only thing that may be holding them to you may be devotion that has morphed into plain duty.

I'm still working all this out in order to provide a clearer explanation, but thought I'd share...

This touches on one of the things I've struggled to deal with as a BS. I'm still the woman he married. I didn't change. However, he will never be the same man I married. He will never again be safe. I can't imagine that I'll ever trust him. I can't reconcile that the man I married confessed his love and devotion for/to someone else. He talked about marriage with someone else. Part of me still hates him for that. When I remember those details, I know that my marriage is truly over. There's nothing left that was ever special to me about us. Staying is to literally start over, while learning to deal with the pain of and forgive him for inflicting the most horrendous pain that I've ever experienced in a relationship.

What is it about loss and pain that pushes someone into an affair? Why look for that instead of something else? The high of a new relationship? I know I couldn't give him that. All I had was boring old love, devotion and commitment. What comes first the woman or the fog? Does the fog Coke only to justify involvement with the AP or is the fog present before they meet the AP?
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Deb
I feel the same way. My husband had an affair "because he was lonely"... So he says. I was caring for my niece who lost both parents and a mother that's on oxygen and my own home and (wifely duties). It's now 2 yrs 4 mos and 2 marriage counselors later, (that did not help, but make things work.) every time I ask a question he leaves the room or starts yelling and slmming things. I get no answers, no resolutions, and no closure. He thinks buying me things and taking me on vacation is going to make it all better. I look at myself in the mirror and compare myself to her..(yes I met with her, got their emails, match.com mail and text messages) which he claims she tampered with. She is everything he always wanted me to be... She has a great job and I'd in perfect shap (owns her own Zumba studio) and implants I could only wish for. She has a lot of my same interest but she has what he wants. He says he's done but I keep finding things..recently a private message from a woman that said (she still loves her ex and is not into married men) what am I suppose to think about that? How do I compare to these perfect women after almost dying from a complicated hystertomy that left my stomach looking like a double stomach even though I'm 5 ft 3 and 105 lbs... Why can't he look at me like he looked at her and say the things to me that he said to her? What makes her better than me and why am I still trying to make this work?
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Kalmarjan
Deb wrote:
I feel the same way. My husband had an affair "because he was lonely"... So he says. I was caring for my niece who lost both parents and a mother that's on oxygen and my own home and (wifely duties). It's now 2 yrs 4 mos and 2 marriage counselors later, (that did not help, but make things work.) every time I ask a question he leaves the room or starts yelling and slmming things. I get no answers, no resolutions, and no closure. He thinks buying me things and taking me on vacation is going to make it all better. I look at myself in the mirror and compare myself to her..(yes I met with her, got their emails, match.com mail and text messages) which he claims she tampered with. She is everything he always wanted me to be... She has a great job and I'd in perfect shap (owns her own Zumba studio) and implants I could only wish for. She has a lot of my same interest but she has what he wants. He says he's done but I keep finding things..recently a private message from a woman that said (she still loves her ex and is not into married men) what am I suppose to think about that? How do I compare to these perfect women after almost dying from a complicated hystertomy that left my stomach looking like a double stomach even though I'm 5 ft 3 and 105 lbs... Why can't he look at me like he looked at her and say the things to me that he said to her? What makes her better than me and why am I still trying to make this work?


Deb, sorry to see that you are going through this. Welcome to these boards, if I haven't already welcomed you before.

Your husband is an assh*le, simple as that. At least, he's acting like one. Everything right now is all about him. It has nothing to do with you or anything you've done. I believe This is why he is acting this way.

For example, he says he was lonely. Okay, but why look outside to fill that gap? Truth is, he probably thought he could understand handle it and get away with it.

He's mad and slamming things because this is something he can't control.
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Lotus_Flower

I like to view this perspective thing like trying on his glasses before the affair (obviously by his reactions I could see what he thought of me) In his words " I thought you were controlling, I didn't think you loved me, I was jealous of your success, I didn't think you needed me because you made twice as much money as me....... After the storm.  "He views me through a different lens."  So interesting because I have not changed in any of those ways... which I questioned him about.  "Why do you see me like this now?"  He told me that he was so wrapped up in feeling sorry for himself and making everything about him that he never really truly saw me for who I am!  You see his perspective changed when he changed!!!!  He now knows that it had nothing to do with AP, only how he viewed himself when he was with her.. I had grown so much in so many ways and my husband refused to go on a growth journey until after the affair was brought to light.  He blamed me for everything and what really started his justifications of the affair was when I REFUSED to take responsibility for his happiness, his feelings, his life!!!!  I told him exactly that, of course at the time he was clueless as to what that really meant!  I now feel like a queen, his prize possession.  He refers to me as a treasure, not a second goes by for the past 18 months that he doesn't express his love, gratitude and appreciation for me.  It was very similar to when my daughter got glasses and would respond with such enthusiasm to things that she never noticed before, "wow mom, I never knew screens had little squares in them!!"  My husband never knew what a sensitive, kind and tender heart I had, Now he refers to me as "tender".... His perspective of me was in alignment of how he felt about himself... It is also true about my healing.  How I view his efforts are defined by how I feel about myself.... and I thought I knew a lot about emotional boundaries.  Well, I certainly have gained much more insight[smile]

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