Shayla
Once your affair was out in the open, did you immediately start doing the things your spouse asked you to do to fix the marriage? Or did you need to work on yourself first?

I ask because the main thing I have asked of my husband is for him to pursue me. I've explained to him I don't feel loved or valued and that I need to feel important to him before we can even begin to work on rebuilding trust. Even when I see him doing other things to work on himself and by extension our marriage, it's hard to feel encouraged, because it seems he is resisting doing the most important thing I need right now. I understand that he has a lot to work through himself and I am supportive and encouraging of that. Am I asking too much of him at this point? Should he act lovingly even if he doesn't really feel it? Should his lack of action tell me how he really feels about me and our marriage or do I need to give him the time and space to work on himself. 

I keep alternating between thinking if he really cared about me then he would do something and understanding that he is not in a good place right now and thinking that I can wait until he is but it's hard to remain hopeful when I feel so unloved.
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Kalmarjan
I never even thought about returning until at least 6 months after moving out. I needed a lot of soul searching to understand what was going on.

I think that in my case hearing now what I need to do is important. I do need to still work on me, but I also need to pursue my wife. I do. In fact, harder than before because I almost lost her. I hope that makes sense.

To get there though, was a huge risk to me, because I was wrong. Very very very wrong. Imagine a mix of "I don't deserve it," to "now I have to beg," or "how can I face everyone, including myself?"

It would have been easier to just run away, honestly. Stupid, and I wouldn't have a chance to reconnect with my best friend, but I can see the allure to running away for sure.

I can't even begin to explain the self loathing. I made a stupid monumental mistake, and I hurt my best friend in the world, and my son to boot. Worse it can never be taken back, only healed with a scar.

At first, I found myself feeling sorry for myself and what I had done. I hear this is a normal phase, because of course I would have been self absorbed, otherwise why would I have had the affair?

Then I read somewhere that said that I could feel guilty, but dwelling in it didn't help, and it could be used as an excuse to hide behind it so the real change couldn't happen.

I know it may seem sometimes that I give lipservice to the guilt, but the truth is that I used it to learn from the situation, and I am using my energy in a more productive way - making it up to my wife.

That doesn't mean I am not sorry for what I've done, quite the contrary. But I have been able forgive myself.

Your husband may be in the beginning stages. It is really really really hard to be so wrong about something your ego got you into.

Perhaps more time will help. I wish I could say something different but I hope that it helped a bit.
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TimT
Shayla wrote:
Once your affair was out in the open, did you immediately start doing the things your spouse asked you to do to fix the marriage? Or did you need to work on yourself first?

It's a great question, Shayla. I wish there was one single response that everyone can/should expect, but there simply isn't. Of course, from the betrayed spouse's perspective it would absolutely be better of the unfaithful partner came to a quick resolution of all his/her "stuff" and made a firm emotional shift toward commitment to the marriage and empathy for the pain they caused their spouse.

Sometimes it happens quickly and that is ALWAYS a prefered condition for working toward recovery. But it takes some spouses longer to make that shift. It took Kalmarjan months to get there. It took me years (and by then my marriage was over).

As a counselor, I know one of the best things I can do is help guide the unfaithful partner to a quicker realization of these things so the real emotional repair can begin. 

You have to know what you need from him... you have to be honest with him in that regard... you have to decide if you are willing to live in the disappointment of not getting what you need for a while you offer honesty that isn't demanding (because you will never force a truly empathetic response)... and you will have to know what choices you will make he never gives you what you need. That goes back to the choices I've written about before: sacrifice or separation. 

But hopefully it doesn't come to that. Hopefully he'll wake up before it's too late. When he does, you'll be able to start healing in a new way.
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Shayla
Thank you both for the responses. I think my husband is very much stuck in the guilt phase right now. I keep comparing this time to last time and I guess I really shouldn't but after the last affair, we both decided right away we wanted to work on the marriage. He didn't do everything the way I did but he was actively participating from the beginning. We went though a very intense hysterical bonding phase.

This time is just so different. I try to look at it as a good thing. He decided to come clean about everything. He is showing remorse this time and not just regret. I'm just worried that he is going to let his own negative feelings consume him and he is going to decide he doesn't deserve love from me.

Is there anything I can do while he is in this phase to comfort him or will that just make it worse for him?
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TimT
Shayla wrote:
...He decided to come clean about everything. He is showing remorse this time and not just regret. I'm just worried that he is going to let his own negative feelings consume him and he is going to decide he doesn't deserve love from me.

Is there anything I can do while he is in this phase to comfort him or will that just make it worse for him?

He HAS to find his own way in this, and it will likely involve a personal struggle. I'm sure he longs for comfort/relief, although he may not be capable of the kind of vulnerability necessary to let you see that part of him. Still, you can assure him of your willingness to love and forgive him and offer to help in any way you can... then give him space.

I wish he'd get some help, but many men can be pretty stubborn when it comes to these kinds of things. I've been there. We think we should be able to figure it out on our own.

Is he reading anything to help him?
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Shayla
He is reading an ebook I found on sex addiction, actually we are both reading it once a week and he goes to counseling with me once a week. He is very stubborn and I think he views asking for help as a weakness.
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Kalmarjan
Shayla wrote:
He is reading an ebook I found on sex addiction, actually we are both reading it once a week and he goes to counseling with me once a week. He is very stubborn and I think he views asking for help as a weakness.


It's weird. I used to thing the same way. Turns out asking for help takes more strength than just sweeping things under the carpet.
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Guiltguilt
My wife said it was over. She has been very reasonable, and I have been helping her by making the transition as easy as possible. I'm working on myself because, regardless of if we get back together, I NEVER want this to happen in any relationship again. I never want the patterns played out in previous relationships to happen again.
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Intuition77
Kalmarjan wrote:
Shayla wrote:
He is reading an ebook I found on sex addiction, actually we are both reading it once a week and he goes to counseling with me once a week. He is very stubborn and I think he views asking for help as a weakness.


It's weird. I used to thing the same way. Turns out asking for help takes more strength than just sweeping things under the carpet.



I tried to explain this concept to my husband but I think men truly struggle more with this (not an excuse for them) just that women are raised as helpers and talkers and seeking out advice & opinions and even though many of us struggle with asking for help to take the load off ourselves (I think we tend to view that as we should be capable of doing it all super women) we don't have the same problem with seeing asking for help with problems as this weakness. I think because our relationships are built upon this very thing. Put women together & what do we do? We gravitate towards solving problems together and asking advice of each other.

My own husband repeatedly referred to counseling therapy rehab anything as something that meant there was something "wrong" with him. He would actually lash out with "I don't need therapy I'm normal!" I couldn't wrap my head around that. To me there's something wrong with all of us it's why we spend our lives working at being better so what's the big deal? And it was weird because it wasn't something I saw in him prior to the affair. Sure he was not emotionally open a lot but this obsession with being normal or not having anything wrong with him was never apparent.

It was also for me a sign of needing to let go, when someone is that adamant about refusing help of any kind there's nothing that can be worked on. So for the OP it's a good sign your WS is at least doing counseling and reading books. Mine picked up a few books and immediately stopped reading them when he reported they all pointed out everything he did "wrong".
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Chrissie
Hi Shayla, I can offer nothing in the way of advice, but I can sympathise as I am going through the same thing. My husband has apologised for hurting me and sincerely says he never wanted to hurt me, but does nothing to help me feel loved. He focuses entirely on the causes of his dissatisfaction with our marriage, and is taking time now to decide whether or not the marriage is worth working on in his eyes. It all leaves me feeling so worthless and insignificant. I'm working with my counsellor on internal self worth, and while it is helping there are days I don't feel a lot of it.
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cwo2116
I see her pain and I know I am the one that caused it and it hurts. I know when she lashes out at me and starts with the verbally attacking,it's because she is in pain. Something remind's her of everything and she starts re living it and going thru the emotional pain all over again. When this happens she will verbally attack me and instead of just sitting there and listening I get defensive and then start defending myself, which comes across as justifications. I know there is no justifications for what I have done. I know it's wrong to defend myself and that she is attacking cause she is hurt because of me, yet I still try and defend myself which just leads to a bigger fight. I love her deeply and don't want to lose her, but if I continue defending myself I know I will. I need to learn to just sit there and take it. I even know that when she start's attacking but yet I instinctively defend myself, which comes across to her that I do not feel remorse for what I have done. I hate myself for what I have done to her, how much i have hurt her. Please help. How can I stop defending myself and help her heal.
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TimT
cwo2116 wrote:
...Please help. How can I stop defending myself and help her heal.

It's hard. Even though you accept responsibility for your wrong, it is still difficult to stand up against anger and accusation, especially when you wonder if it will end.

But you need to do it anyway, at least for a while. She probably has very little capacity to react rationally to anything that appears defensive from you right now.

So keep this word in mind: CURIOSITY. You don't need to agree with everything she says to you right now, but don't try to defend it. Just try to stay curious about why she believes it, or why she feels so strongly about these things. The more she experiences an empathetic response from you, even in times when she's having over-the-top reactions, the more she will likely begin to experience more settled reactions.

But this will take a while. Hang on. If your wife has the capacity and willingness to forgive, this will eventually get easier.
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