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Kalmarjan
It sounds like it's not an issue with communication, more about his identifying and sticking to boundaries.

You wrote that you would tell him a boundary and he would disregard it. To me, that's a lack of respect for your relationship, not a lack of communication.

So, all that aside, he's figured out why he did what he did. That's only the first step.

Now the question becomes, what is he doing to ensure that he understands what the boundary is, and more import - what is he going to do to ensure that he doesn't cross it.

The absolute first step is understanding what his actions have done to you. Really, really understanding their impact.

In my case, I can unequivocally tell you that I will NEVER cheat on my wife again, because I understand that what I did to my wife in my time of selfishness brought her great anguish. I understand that it's not about me, it's about US. If I ever get to a point where I'm unhappy, then I talk. We go to counselling, even if we don't need it (I view it as an investment in our marriage) If I were to fall for someone else it will be OUTSIDE the confines of marriage.

In other words, I'll have ended my marriage before I would look anywhere else.

As for boundaries? I am up front and clear with what I do with the opposite sex. My wife knows where I am, what I am doing, who I am with. If she is uncomfortable with any scenario, we talk about it and we DO something about it. (As a team!)

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Brandi
Kal-what questions did you ask yourself to 'get it' (or any other WS that wants to chime in please do) He said that months of soul searching lead him to understand that his reason for his affair was communication issues. Not his lack of boundaries/respect for me but the fact that we didnt communicate. He said that to think about it any other way means that he is 100% at fault and I am 0% at fault. I accept my responsibility for our marriage and the issues it had but I feel he is 100% to blame for his choice to sleep with another woman. I was not consulted about it. My opinion was not taken into account. He is a selfish man and that was what he wanted. He doesnt see why I need him to do this work. I dont know how to rephrase my questions to get him to think about it. Or get it. I told him this is what I need and I get 'we had communication issues'
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Guiltguilt
In my case, communication had died. Sitting across from each other in the same room buried in our phones. Very sad. I think we were both culpable for that. I was the one who, however, instead of taking the risk and speaking up, went outside the marriage. That is mine entirely. Something I will bear forever.
Combine poor communication with poor boundaries, you get a pretty poor result.

My wife is going on very well without me. She's lost a considerable amount of weight, did her first personal training session today in 5 years and is doing things she couldn't do with me. That's the way to get the point through. No amount of talking or reasoning can crack it if he can't see it.
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Kalmarjan
Brandi wrote:
Kal-what questions did you ask yourself to 'get it' (or any other WS that wants to chime in please do) He said that months of soul searching lead him to understand that his reason for his affair was communication issues. Not his lack of boundaries/respect for me but the fact that we didnt communicate. He said that to think about it any other way means that he is 100% at fault and I am 0% at fault. I accept my responsibility for our marriage and the issues it had but I feel he is 100% to blame for his choice to sleep with another woman. I was not consulted about it. My opinion was not taken into account. He is a selfish man and that was what he wanted. He doesnt see why I need him to do this work. I dont know how to rephrase my questions to get him to think about it. Or get it. I told him this is what I need and I get 'we had communication issues'


So, filter out all the bullsh*t and he is saying it's not his fault, it's "ours". Blame shifting, pure and simple. He doesn't want to accept that he alone made the decision to sleep with someone else, and has a problem accepting 100% blame for his actions.

Here's the deal. When it comes down to the decision to stick his penis into someone else, it IS 1000% HIS DECISION. Don't let him think any other explanation is acceptable to you.

He doesn't have to agree, but he does have to respect what your feelings and stance on this is.

As for what questions I asked myself? One thing I had that perhaps your husband didn't was some clarity in my mess up. What happened to me was all the things I laid blame to my wife (for why I was having the affair) started happening in my "new" relationship, only worse. This was a clear signal to me that I was the problem, not my wife.

So I faced the possibility of being entirely alone, and if I were to go forward with any relationship I would need to fix that underlying problem.

Hey, I went through the whole blame shifting thing too, just like your WS. (And make no mistake, it's blame shifting no matter how it's rephrased.) it wasn't working out for me.

First I read through a lot of affair boards, with an eye to see what I could do. I got myself fired from my job so I had plenty of time on my hands. I read a lot of books, and one of them that really resonated with me is called "No More Mr Nice Guy." That book was an eye opener. That lead me to "Taming the Inner Child" and "Codependent No More."

One book your WS could do with reading is called "Extreme Ownership" a great book on takimg responsibility for your actions and the situation you're in. Something your WS seems to be shirking right now.

So, if I were in your room listening to what your WS has to say, the one and only question I have to ask is...

"So let me get this straight. You're saying that because we didn't communicate, you feel like you logically jumped to the part where you went and found someone that was willing to let you put your penis inside them, and that filled what you were missing in this marriage? "

Put that way, there's no excuse.

He says he didn't do it out of a lack of respect for you or the boundaries in the marriage, yet I don't think he's qualified to make that distinction since you wrote before that he has always skirted close to that boundary throughout your marriage. There is a point where MAYBE it wasn't clearly laid out what that boundary was (hence the "lack of communication") but I am sure the BOTH of you can agree that him having sex with another woman is a clear violation of a general boundary set out when he took his wedding vows.

So, frankly, he didn't respect you, his marriage to you, his relationship to you, nor any boundaries when it came to this situation. He can try to frame it as a "lack of communication" as a way to shirk responsibilities. Let me put it to you like my wife did...

You're right, the communication wasnt there for the boundaries of the relationship because IT IS ASSUMED YOU'LL BE FAITHFUL and won't cheat. Why would we need to discuss that in advance?

Honestly, if the guy can't see that, well... He is a bit too immature to accept his responsibililty, and the chances are high he will reoffend.

Getting clear on WHY and HOW you continue this relationship is key to your recovery. How can he ensure to you that he won't cheat again? Words don't mean sh*t, something he proved to you when he broke his vows and slept with someone else. Actual CHANGE is the only thing that will make you feel safe. He may say he'll never do it again. Great. I'd want to know what has changed in his outlook, what he is doing differently in regards to his relationship with anyone else of the opposite sex, and I'd above all else want to hear that he understands what his actions did to you, and that he could NEVER ever put you in that situation again. NOT FOR him, but because he cares about the impact of his actions on YOU.

Oh, and one last thing about the ownership thing... A mature MAN humbly accepts responsibility for what his actions brought about and accepts the consequences of those actions. An insecure and immature man will look for anything else to blame for his actions. The reason why is he doesn't have the strength to examine himself and admit that what he did was wrong, and even worse, doesn't have the inner strength to make things better. He'd rather shirk the responsibility and let someone else clean up the mess.
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TimT
Brandi wrote:
...So how do I help him/encourage him to get in touch with those emotions?...

Trying to push someone into empathy is a frustrating endeavor. It rarely works. Empathy will increase as the offending partner (1) gains more honest insight into their own behavior and the part they played in hurting others and (2) risks being open to the pain of the wounded partner.

This is a difficult process, especially for partners (often men) who were never very good at emotional connection before an affair. That isn't going to change suddenly during recovery. In fact, the vulnerability required to respond to such strong emotions from a wounded partner makes the struggle even worse.

You long for a deeper understanding, for a truly empathetic response. The more you experience it, the easier it becomes to let go of your anger. But you will likely experience it in steps, not huge strides. And the more you can be open & honest about your pain without it turning into anger/attacks, the more likely he will be able to step in to offer relief & comfort.

I'm not saying this is fair. Since he hurt you deeply you have a reasonable longing for him to be 100% emotionally invested in your healing. But recovery doesn't happen that way. You each will need to begin trusting in the efforts of each other... to believe you both are invested in your marriage... to focus on the hope in the steps of progress you are making rather than frustration that the journey has not been completed yet.

I often talk about the "Move Toward with Love & Truth" principle. Deep pain and hurt HAVE to be expressed. And in such an emotional storm, it's nearly impossible not keep emotions from exploding sometimes. When that happens, his defenses go up. Healing is for both of you, and the more you can express everything in you (the Truth: including your fear and pain) within the context of desiring connection with him, the more likely you will be to experience the response you long for.

Neither of you is going to do this perfectly, but you can begin to trust the shifts you see in each other over time.
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VoodooChild
So, along this topic of seeking connection with WS expression of truth, pain and fear, I sent this message to my WS today:
"I just feel really lonely today. Kind of hopeless really. Empty. I'm risking telling you these things. You can't change them. There is no fixing them. I need you to carry the hope. I need to know that it was all a huge mistake that you wish had never happened and that you want to take it all back. That she was a mistake...every second. I wish you could tell me these things without me having to ask. I wish I could see the remorse instead of frustration and anger. "
What I got was no reply at all. A few hours later I asks if he got my message and he said yes. Sounded frustrated and said, "I thought I was already doing that." Granted, just yesterday we had a conversation, not unlike others in which I explain that I need repeated reassurance sometimes because 1.) my thoughts get crazy and confuse things, 2.) I'm insecure (fun result of the affair) and am unable to hold on to any feelings of comfort/security long term, especially when physically seperatrd from one another. Rather than hearing that I'm asking for what I need, he takes it as a sign that he's a failure and screwing things up which makes him unable help me at all and is completely unrealistic. The more he responds like this, the more hurt I feel and it eventually turns to anger. I'm risking so much and trying to trust him again yet this is somehow too much to ask?
Is there something wrong with the message? Am I missing something? It feels like I should just stop talking. He gets angry when I ask this, but if it's too frustrating to dea with now, 9 weeks past DDAY, what will it be like in 6 months or 1 year?
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flight
1. The "my marriage made me do it" defense. Look it up. He isn't to the point of accountability yet. Yes, the marriage may have been unhappy in some way, but there were many paths to take that did not involve infidelity. I too have heard, "A woman in an happy marriage doesn't cheat. If I was happy in our relationship, there would have been no room to cheat". BS.

2. Understanding your pain. I was able to verbalize it one day. I have good skills in that area and painted a very emotional word picture. I picked the right day when she was willing to listen and found an analogy that would register with pain she had and built on that. I told her how horrible and worthless it made me feel in very vivid and emotional terms, yet without blame. It was more a gentle plea.

While giving people things to read and trying to fix them is a bad idea, this *could* make him ponder; There are so many stories out there, you can cut and paste other people's words into a document. I almost did this. There are several great articles out there that describe how a WS feels and how they react in the first few weeks and months. Many of the people selling books and courses nail it in their advertising, "your world has been turned upside down. You feel your self worth has been taken from you. You can't breathe...". And there are posts in this forum and several others that might take time and reading to find, where people in a few sentences eloquently describe their feelings of pain. I don't know if your spouse is the type who would respond to that, but if you had about 20 or so short paragraphs from people one after the other describing the intense trauma, loss of trust, shaken world view, etc. a lot of people would be in tears by the time they finished it. I know I did just seeing the extent of the damage and how many people are affected by infidelity.

And how you presented something like this would make all the difference too. First, make a request, "I am really feeling a lot of pain and I am having trouble conveying that with you. Would it be ok to share something with you that expresses it better than I think I can?" And if your spouse says yes, then you explain you have no expectations or judgement in sharing the letter, "I read a lot of stories of other people who really capture the feelings I am struggling with and the depth of pain that I feel. There are so many people going through this. I am not giving you this to make you feel guilt or to extract anything from you, I just hope it can help you understand me and what I am going through and maybe be a starting point for the discussion of how we can move forward, how I can begin to heal from this. I need your help."

A professional counselor or coach may disagree with this approach, so think it through to see if it has any value to you, your style and his personality. But this is the "starving children in africa" or "abused, sad eyed puppies abandoned and needing adopting" word commercial [wink] I am continually moved when I read yet ANOTHER story with someone coming to the forums, frightened, broken, devastated, and lost. I have read too many stories. Too many.
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TimT
VoodooChild wrote:
...I'm risking so much and trying to trust him again yet this is somehow too much to ask? Is there something wrong with the message? Am I missing something? It feels like I should just stop talking. He gets angry when I ask this, but if it's too frustrating to deal with now, 9 weeks past DDAY, what will it be like in 6 months or 1 year?

In a perfect world, the unfaithful spouse would be fully tuned into the fear and pain of the betrayed spouse and be consistently attentive to providing comfort and relief. You long for that kind of attention & relief, but you don't always get it. Even in the best of circumstances, an unfaithful spouse is often distracted by what is going on in themselves, even when they WANT the marriage to heal. Both partners will need to give some grace (even though justice might demand otherwise).

But this is especially a problem when the past relationship pattern has been one in which the partner who became unfaithful was never very good at engaging in emotionally vulnerable interactions. That tendency doesn't go away after they have behaved badly. In fact, all the things that trigger disconnection are likely very active during the recovery process. It takes a LOT of focus and emotional energy for that kind of person (usually men) to give what they know they should be giving.

I'm not trying to let them off the hook. That spouse needs to recognize their deficiency and be committed to learning how to engage their hurting spouse more effectively. But it will take time and require patience. Sometimes, the kind of attention/connection that is longed for is beyond the current capacity of the partner to give, even if they want to. An ongoing focus on inadequacy will likely only build resentment (in the betrayed partner) and shame (in the unfaithful partner).

There is a book that does a good job of discussing this difference in the communication dynamic between men & women. I don't agree with everything in the book, but I do believe it has some valuable insights that many wives have told me have been helpful to them.

How To Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Patricia Love.
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Valntine66

VoodooChild wrote:
So, along this topic of seeking connection with WS expression of truth, pain and fear, I sent this message to my WS today: "I just feel really lonely today. Kind of hopeless really. Empty. I'm risking telling you these things. You can't change them. There is no fixing them. I need you to carry the hope. I need to know that it was all a huge mistake that you wish had never happened and that you want to take it all back. That she was a mistake...every second. I wish you could tell me these things without me having to ask. I wish I could see the remorse instead of frustration and anger. " What I got was no reply at all. A few hours later I asks if he got my message and he said yes. Sounded frustrated and said, "I thought I was already doing that."  


VoodooChild,
I know that your post is 4 months old and may have changed since you placed this post.  I am 4 months from D-Day.  I am the WS, and I want the marriage back and I am doing everything in my power to restore the marriage.  My WS does the same thing: test me.  But that is not my point but the background.

I have lived all my life of either DO or DO NOT, no such thing as try.  If you are a Star Wars fan, you will recognize this statement from Yoda in episode 5.  That is where i developed that life style of mine and has worked until now.  I am TRYING to make this marriage work.  I am doing everything to make this work.  But many times, I don't see the HOPE and am begging her to tell me the words, "I want to work on the marriage."

Maybe I am blind, an idiot, stupid, or Captain Obvious, because my kids tell me that Mom is not filing for divorce, she helps out in the church, she comes over on the weekends, and talks with you, although it is not for restoration.  If hear the hope from her, that would me it easier for me knowing that she wants to work the marriage, but I know the responsibility falls on my shoulders.  HOW CAN I GIVE HER HOPE?  Be consistent with what I do and say.  But it is my job to provide HOPE to her and my kids.

Again, I know this is old, but when you talked about hope, it caught my eye.  How is your situation, BTW?

Val
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Valntine66

I think that most wayward spouses learn the affair was their choice. Nobody took the gun or knife or any kind of a weapon forced us to have an affair with the OW/OM.  However, the affair is simply a result of something that has been taking place in an individual’s life pre-marriage, post-marriage, or mid marriage.  Every situation is different, every couple is different, and every individual is different but the one thing that I see consistent in the affair is that it was brought on by a person’s personal, cognitive, individual choice.

I was a pastor but I stepped down just after my fair came to light. My affair was not even two months before I broke it off. I knew what I did was wrong, I knew I had to tell my wife because I was feeling so bad that I’ve violated our wedding vows. Unfortunately, the day I broke it off on February 11, 2016 the other woman beat me to the punch.

As a wayward spouse, if you ask me why the affair, it was a multiplicity of reasons the end result was I made the decision to go out have sexual affair knowing in my own mind and heart it was wrong.

Val
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