You asked a thought provoking question for me. "What work have I done?" As a BS we juggle a lot of words - hate, love, accept, reject - just to name a few. Most of these we will apply to ourselves as we work through this nightmare not of our own making. We struggle daily to find understanding of how our lives ended up here - married and living with someone who could and did betray everything that meant anything to us. I will share with you what I accept, my journey to today and what I believe.
I accept that the affair happened and will always be part of my life story. This was very difficult for me. I had not asked for this. Had not anticipated it. I loved my husband; was faithful and supportive. I needed to understand. For a long time I rejected any acceptance of FOO issues playing a part in the man he had become. This was a battle I waged within myself. I felt that looking there for answers would be making an excuse for his choices and I was not about to do that. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that understanding is not excusing, rugsweeping or accepting any type of responsibility for what happened upon myself. Everyone has stuff to deal with in their lives. Some people have wonderful, open, loving families and still have issues. Others have horrible, twisted childhoods and come out relatively sane and happy. We all choose what we are going to do with the crap behind us. Three things were extremely important to me - Understand what had shaped he choice - Learn when at the edge why he went forward and did not turn back - and last, work to accept that neither of us can change the past.
Why am I still in a marriage with a man that cheated on me for over six years? That is the $64000 question. I do have some answers. It has not been a smooth, forward progressing journey. I left in the beginning - only reluctantly coming back. I made him no promises that I would ever be there the next day. I have been at the brink of leaving and putting distance between me and what I thought was the source of my pain. Slowly, and with help and guidance from great therapist I have begun to gain perspective and understanding about both my husband and myself. That has helped, but none of this would have happened had my husband not turned himself inside out to become the man I am living with today. He never in any way blamed me for his choices. He has dissected his life to see how and why he processed feelings and thoughts the way he did. He has faced the demons of his past with a clear and SOBER mind. He made no demands and asked for no promises in exchange for this transformation. He has told me that he cannot be that person anymore. He says he must be the man and husband that I have always deserved. He also works weekly with his therapist to break down and examine old thought processes to make sure they can never take hold again.
Had all of this not happened I would not be here. He made it happen by changing himself. He was the one who had to ACCEPT that he was wrong.
I showed your post to my husband and he was moved to ask if he could add some comments. The following are his thoughts and words:
I am not a regular on this forum, but as my wife said your post moved me to comment. Until your WS begins to grasp the magnitude and impact of her actions there is little hope of redemption. I do not know the nature of your wife's FOO or the trauma she may have faced. We are taught to honor and respect our parents and elders no matter what lessons their behavior teaches. It is these lesson that form the basis of our interactions in marriage with our spouse and others. I am not indicating that parental issues are any type of excuse for the choices we make when look outside of our own marriage. Your wife has to accept that her view was flawed and broken. It is human nature to protect our perception that we are right, and when we realize that we might not be right we justify to protect that perception. Your wife has to understand that she was broken, not you.
For years I refused to accept that I was an alcoholic, that my childhood was not perfect, or that anyone had a better story than me. It was not until I began to analyse and look at my life in the light of what my choices had done to the people that were the most important to me that I started to understand. I was a self centered spoiled human that thought everything centered around what I thought and said.
You asked what could you do. You can not tell her she was broken, she will not accept that. The best you can do it pose questions that lead down the path to self realization that she has to come to grips with the factors that made her believe that you might not want to be with her. Simply asking how it made her feel when this happened or what did she do when she saw her parent do .....