SeekingPeace
We are about 18 months from dday. I found out that my husband of over 30 years was cheating with someone who called her self my best friend. We tried MC and it didn't go well. She made me feel more inadequate. I quit after about 5 months. I realize now that it was probably a bad fit. But my WH doesn't want to return to counselling. He feels he understands his reasons for the affair and we can't really afford it right now. The last year sort of feels like we have been in a limbo. Maybe I needed more time to process. But I want to do something that feels more concrete to healing than letting time take care of it.
I'm not sure what I'm most upset about, that he lied to me or that he had sex with someone. We have agreed to spend an hour a week for questions. I wondering if anyone would be willing to share some the questions that you asked. From all perspectives. The betrayed, the wayward and the OW/OM.

I'm new to this forum thing and am never sure how much info to include. Have patience with me please as I figure it out

Thanks
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surviving
I use the standard who, what, when, where and how for my questions.  We are 20 months out from DDay and I am still asking questions.  Some of his answers prompt more questions.  There were so many lies, it is hard to tell what is the truth now.  They say healing takes as long as the affair lasted (not science, just a suggestion).  If that is true, I have 34 more years to go to get healed!
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TimT
surviving wrote:
I use the standard who, what, when, where and how for my questions.  We are 20 months out from DDay and I am still asking questions.  Some of his answers prompt more questions.  There were so many lies, it is hard to tell what is the truth now.  They say healing takes as long as the affair lasted (not science, just a suggestion).  If that is true, I have 34 more years to go to get healed!

Let me respond in a couple ways to the two posts here and certainly invite responses from other members about this...

Regarding Ongoing Conversations:

As a counselor to couples moving through recovery, I know there are no established rules for how long any specific recovery step should take. Ever situation is different, as are the participants in the process. But here's something I do believe: it is healthy to move intentionally toward ceasing all conversation about the past affair. Getting to this point takes time: months for most betrayed spouses. But if there is a joint commitment to move forward in the marriage, there needs to be a point at which you decide that conversations about the past are no longer necessary.

I don't mean that you should pretend like it never happened or that you can never speak of the affair again. That would be dishonest. The betrayed partner will continue to feel pain for years and needs to be honest about that pain. But those conversations can focus on the present and future without reverting to more questions about the past.

Here's the truth:
  • You'll never have 100% understanding of the affair.
  • Getting answers to questions about the affair are necessary, but the knowledge learned by the betrayed spouse should focus on the information that helps them gain understanding about the meaning of the affair, not all the facts of it. In my experience, 90% of all important information is learned very quickly once the betrayed spouse commits to honesty. The other 10% won't make a difference in the recovery process. (And if the betrayed spouse still isn't committed to honesty after months, you've got a different problem on your hands.)
  • Most betrayed spouses need to let go of questions before they feel ready to do so. I know there are people out there who promote a "ask as much as you want for as long as you want" perspective, and many times they're the same ones who encourage a betrayed spouse to "be as angry as you want for as long as you want." But I disagree on both accounts. Yes, you need to ask questions; lots of them. Yes, you need to honestly express your anger; the whole depth of it. But if you do not move intentionally beyond those two things, you can stay stuck too long... perhaps forever.
  • Here's what I usually recommend to betrayed spouses once we've been through a Truth Session and they express a willingness to move forward in the relationship: (1) For the next few weeks, limit your affair questions to 2-3 times per week, for a limited amount of time that is NOT just before you go to bed. I usually ask the unfaithful spouse to be the one responsible for making sure these conversations happen. This behavior begins to reinforce the ability to be self-regulating rather than compulsive. (2) Between these conversations, write down the questions you have instead of talking about them. When the scheduled talk-time arrives, you'll have your questions ready, even though some of them may not seem as important to you by then. (3) After a few weeks, cut out one of your talk times. This reduction continues over time until conversations are limited to once every few weeks. (4) Eventually, I encourage the declaration of "No more questions about the past; I don't need to know anything else. Let's focus on today and tomorrow." 
By the way, if you haven't seen my Guidelines for a Truth Conversation, you can download them here: http://community.affairhealing.com/post/guidelines-truth-conversation-7375346?pid=1286908882

Regarding the Length of Recovery

The "recovery takes as long as the affair lasted" is a principle that has some general truth, but is different for every couple. The point of the statement is primarily for the unfaithful partner, who often feels like the work is done once confession has been made. They need to understand that they've lived the experience for however many weeks, months, or years the affair went on. The betrayed spouse is only starting to process that reality and it will take the a LONG TIME to finish that work.

Here's the expectation I usually present to couples:
  1. Start measuring from the point of full confession or last contact with the affair partner, whichever was most recent. That's you're zero-mark. (And if new revelations or contacts take place, the clock starts over again.)
  2. Even for short affairs (brief sexual encounters or something lasting a few days or weeks), it will probably be at least 6-12 months before you feel somewhat stable in your marriage. If the affair was longer (or repeated contact, or a history of infidelity), you can expect it to be at least 18-24 months before reaching that same stability... maybe even longer.
  3. This assumes that BOTH PARTNERS ARE INVESTED IN RECOVERY. If not, then the kind of stability that results in renewed trust & intimacy will never be reached.
  4. The affair is never forgotten. Years from now, something will trigger its memory and the pain of it will be felt again. But they do the work, that pain will pull them together for comfort rather than push them apart.
Now, I wonder if I've managed to offend any betrayed spouses with this perspective? Let me know. (I can take it.)
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SeekingPeace
surviving wrote:
I use the standard who, what, when, where and how for my questions.  We are 20 months out from DDay and I am still asking questions.  Some of his answers prompt more questions.  There were so many lies, it is hard to tell what is the truth now.  They say healing takes as long as the affair lasted (not science, just a suggestion).  If that is true, I have 34 more years to go to get healed!
e


Thank you Surviving.

I pretty much have the answers to Who' what, where and how. I guess I'm looking for questions tha t will bring me closer to understanding and reconciliation.
I hope that the suggestions for the length of time for healing is not true. By that standard I should have been healed a couple of months ago. So I hope for you it is way shorter that there is no standard. It would make it seems overwhelming to me. I guess the best we can do is taking those steps forward and one day at a time

Hugs to you {{Surviving}}
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HonestWife
TimT wrote:
Now, I wonder if I've managed to offend any betrayed spouses with this perspective? Let me know. (I can take it.)
Tim, you haven't offended me. I think you make some great points. My ws went to a once a week question time at a "check in" for both of us. Trying to wrap my head around affairs for years and years made me question everything About my life. But I kept taking to my support group for bs and other friends for help. I know the ws does not want to answer questions in a cross examination format. But quick question. Would you restart ground zero for lying about internet? I caught my ws looking up tinder (he says he didn't register but was just curious what it was) and lying to me for 3 months (it's not like he looked it up and admitted it 3 days later---I actually found it in his history , at which point he grabbed his phone and wiped it all out, so who knows what else was in there). Just wondering if you think that's a significant enough lie to restart ground zero.
Trying to make marriage work after my husband's 15 years of affairs. Just found out. Currently in house separation.
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TimT
HonestWife wrote:
...Just wondering if you think that's a significant enough lie to restart ground zero.

That's a great question. I think the betrayed spouse would need to be honest about the long-term emotional impact of a lie. Some may feel like minor setbacks; others may feel like major ones, but not backing up to the starting point; while others may wipe out every bit of earned trust. 

What I wish WS would understand is that if there is ANY slip-up (whether looking up a website or a curious connection with the AP), there will be a cost to pay. But even so, it is better to just come clean with it asap rather than trying to cover it up again. The first is trust-building, even though you're admitting a painful failure. The second, in their attempt to control the truth, is consistent with affair behavior.
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Intuition77
TimT wrote:
surviving wrote:
I use the standard who, what, when, where and how for my questions.  We are 20 months out from DDay and I am still asking questions.  Some of his answers prompt more questions.  There were so many lies, it is hard to tell what is the truth now.  They say healing takes as long as the affair lasted (not science, just a suggestion).  If that is true, I have 34 more years to go to get healed!

Let me respond in a couple ways to the two posts here and certainly invite responses from other members about this...

Regarding Ongoing Conversations:

As a counselor to couples moving through recovery, I know there are no established rules for how long any specific recovery step should take. Ever situation is different, as are the participants in the process. But here's something I do believe: it is healthy to move intentionally toward ceasing all conversation about the past affair. Getting to this point takes time: months for most betrayed spouses. But if there is a joint commitment to move forward in the marriage, there needs to be a point at which you decide that conversations about the past are no longer necessary.

I don't mean that you should pretend like it never happened or that you can never speak of the affair again. That would be dishonest. The betrayed partner will continue to feel pain for years and needs to be honest about that pain. But those conversations can focus on the present and future without reverting to more questions about the past.

Here's the truth:
  • You'll never have 100% understanding of the affair.
  • Getting answers to questions about the affair are necessary, but the knowledge learned by the betrayed spouse should focus on the information that helps them gain understanding about the meaning of the affair, not all the facts of it. In my experience, 90% of all important information is learned very quickly once the betrayed spouse commits to honesty. The other 10% won't make a difference in the recovery process. (And if the betrayed spouse still isn't committed to honesty after months, you've got a different problem on your hands.)
  • Most betrayed spouses need to let go of questions before they feel ready to do so. I know there are people out there who promote a "ask as much as you want for as long as you want" perspective, and many times they're the same ones who encourage a betrayed spouse to "be as angry as you want for as long as you want." But I disagree on both accounts. Yes, you need to ask questions; lots of them. Yes, you need to honestly express your anger; the whole depth of it. But if you do not move intentionally beyond those two things, you can stay stuck too long... perhaps forever.
  • Here's what I usually recommend to betrayed spouses once we've been through a Truth Session and they express a willingness to move forward in the relationship: (1) For the next few weeks, limit your affair questions to 2-3 times per week, for a limited amount of time that is NOT just before you go to bed. I usually ask the unfaithful spouse to be the one responsible for making sure these conversations happen. This behavior begins to reinforce the ability to be self-regulating rather than compulsive. (2) Between these conversations, write down the questions you have instead of talking about them. When the scheduled talk-time arrives, you'll have your questions ready, even though some of them may not seem as important to you by then. (3) After a few weeks, cut out one of your talk times. This reduction continues over time until conversations are limited to once every few weeks. (4) Eventually, I encourage the declaration of "No more questions about the past; I don't need to know anything else. Let's focus on today and tomorrow." 
By the way, if you haven't seen my Guidelines for a Truth Conversation, you can download them here: http://community.affairhealing.com/post/guidelines-truth-conversation-7375346?pid=1286908882

Regarding the Length of Recovery

The "recovery takes as long as the affair lasted" is a principle that has some general truth, but is different for every couple. The point of the statement is primarily for the unfaithful partner, who often feels like the work is done once confession has been made. They need to understand that they've lived the experience for however many weeks, months, or years the affair went on. The betrayed spouse is only starting to process that reality and it will take the a LONG TIME to finish that work.

Here's the expectation I usually present to couples:
  1. Start measuring from the point of full confession or last contact with the affair partner, whichever was most recent. That's you're zero-mark. (And if new revelations or contacts take place, the clock starts over again.)
  2. Even for short affairs (brief sexual encounters or something lasting a few days or weeks), it will probably be at least 6-12 months before you feel somewhat stable in your marriage. If the affair was longer (or repeated contact, or a history of infidelity), you can expect it to be at least 18-24 months before reaching that same stability... maybe even longer.
  3. This assumes that BOTH PARTNERS ARE INVESTED IN RECOVERY. If not, then the kind of stability that results in renewed trust & intimacy will never be reached.
  4. The affair is never forgotten. Years from now, something will trigger its memory and the pain of it will be felt again. But they do the work, that pain will pull them together for comfort rather than push them apart.
Now, I wonder if I've managed to offend any betrayed spouses with this perspective? Let me know. (I can take it.)



Not offended. I love the idea of the WS taking responsibility for those conversations happening. That idea alone would show so much compassion and empathy if a WS did that. I see how that would be immensely helpful at rebuilding trust and showing commitment to the marriage.

I will say I cringe when I see (not your reply Tim but many other resources out there) a lot of emphasis on the betrayed letting go of questions & being willing to move on. It seems to shift responsibility. Which is something many WS have a problem with already. Not because I disagree with this having to happen but because I think many WS latch Onto this in a "see it's on you to get over it" kind of way. And I see in most BS a want & willingness to move on once they've processed everything, they just need a willing WS to answer and most importantly I feel freely offer the truth in order to process. Basically I don't see this as a BS problem, most I've talked to or read are usually the one wanting to honestly move forward and they desperately want to reach that place. More often This comes across as a WS problem where either lack of honesty, shame, defensiveness or unwilling to put the Bs needs above their own keeps the marriage stuck.

And I know for me it took/would have taken months of the same questions/areas of the affair that I needed pieces to in order to trust again & feel able to set those parts aside. Especially the lies. I see similarities in most BS stories where we need the truth over and over where the story doesn't change and it fits from different angles until we're able to accept we are finally being told the truth. Which has more to do with trust and the marriage then the actual affair. Which is natural the lies created this need. The affair questions are really more a gauge of is my spouse committed to honesty from this step forward. As I had said to my own if you won't be honest about the past then you'll never be honest in the present or future. Dishonesty is what allowed the affair in. Full honesty & openness is needed to feel safe going forward.

I think most BS have a more realistic idea of rebuilding then a WS. I do believe if a WS offers full honesty that can be backed up and checked and fits and is open and willing then a BS questions diminish faster. I remember telling my husband that to me a successful reconciliation meant that in 20 years we wouldnt pretend it never happened, it would just become something that happened once and we worked through. And that if something triggered a painful memory for me years from now I expected to be able to talk to him about it and move through that moment together & be supported. To me that was a hope for a more open honest loving future. And in his face I saw a clear "I will never live this down" look. Which isn't how I saw it at all. I just felt it was unrealistic to expect me to just pretend such a horrible event didn't happen. And selfish. I think if a WS is focused on being able to forget their actions and wanting to live it down then their still in a selfish place and not taking responsibility & trying to transfer it to the Bs as their responsibility to just forget. Just my personal Opinion.

As you know my marriage isn't surviving & my husband never attempted any disclosure or truth. So I don't have the experience of going through reconciliation. I will say my opinions based on what I felt & experienced are this, if the WS is not offering freely to answer or make you feel safe by being forthcoming then I think you'll be stuck a long time. You may get answers by pulling pushing or detective work but if theyre not offered out of love & a desire to make you feel safe they will be less then
Enough. Don't take the pain just for the sake of pain. I came to a definite point where I realized if he didn't want to rebuild trust or care about my needs the marriage wasn't savable and if that was the case I didn't need more answers. Answers that build trust and reconciliation have a purpose. Without that it became for me at least just pointless pain.

If the BS is the only one focused on honesty and answers then the BS is the one focused on trying to rebuild the trust and you can't. You didn't destroy it you can't repair it. They have to. That's why Tims recommendation of the WS being responsible for talking about the truth and questions is so spot on.

And if the WS attitude is one of annoyance or begrudgingly answering or any amount of selfish defensiveness then trust me the answers you get are going to hurt much more because they will not be answered with love & care. Also with time your questions change. So my advice is write down any questions & maybe think for a week about why you need that answer and how it applies to your future and it may change the question itself.

For example one of my questions early on was when where did sex occur, how long did they spend together etc. In the beginning this was focused on him & OW & was really just what I now call "taking the pain for the sake of pain". I never got answers. But after a few months I realized had my marriage been savable I did still need the timeline and those answers but in a different way. My focus changed to me and my spouse. My questions would have shifted more to what lies we're told to me during these occasions, what things we're missed, lied about etc that we're important to me-as in did you miss a family outing for OW? What we're you thinking or feeling about that then, how we're you justifying it & how do you think about that now when you look back on it?

I read somewhere once about any really hot button questions (or any questions suddenly launched during a heated moment) that if the WS could lovingly and securely say something like I want to give you answers you need but I'm concerned that question may give more pain with little resolution so id like you to think about it for a few days and if you still want the answers I will give them. I thought that was a really good idea. It's not refusing to answer. It's being willing yet also giving time to decide if it's not just a heat of the moment question. Then of course the WS would have to follow through on that promise.

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Intuition77
If I can also add this about questions. Not just for the OP but anyone especially in the beginning.

Any questions that form a comparison or a competition- was sex better, was she prettier, thinner, smarter,wealthier, did you enjoy talking with her more etc are not necessary in my opinion. I KNOW why they appear. The affair wounds us, our self esteem self worth everything. It takes over like a monster. But I'd like anyone feeling the pain of those questions to try this exercise.

Write down all your spouses positive points, attractions, best qualities. Then really look at them & ask yourself if no one else is as good or better then them in those areas. Chances are there are many people in the world or even people you know who are more attractive, thinner, wealthier, better at sex, smarter more interesting etc then your spouse. Do you think less of your spouse because so many people are better then them at any of those things? Odds are no.

This isnt about putting down your WS. Just that marriage isn't a competition. You didn't marry them because they we're "the best" you chose them because you loved them. They didn't marry you because you we're the best either but because they loved you. They didn't cheat because you got older, softer, too familiar, or because they found something better or because you we're lacking anything. They cheated because of something lacking in themselves.

If marriage to them is just about finding something better trust me they will never find it & real long term love will allude them forever. Because there is always someone better at something. Someone will always be younger, more attractive, built differently, more educated, more whatever. That doesn't make YOU any less. Marriage isn't about trading up for bigger better newer models. The AP is not better then you because you are your own person.

I wondered for a long time if the sex was better with AP. Then one day I realized I could probably have better sex with someone else. I just didn't. There we're many more attractive men then my husband. I just didn't care because I was married. There we're men smarter or more educated then my husband. Does that mean my husband was less then other men? No. He was just him. And I married him. I wasn't faithful because he was the best at everything or perfect. I was faithful because I chose to be and I wasn't lacking things inside me I thought I could fill from outside.


There is no comparison. In many ways the AP is a downgrade. For one thing they we're willing to engage in dishonesty & a relationship with a married person. Would your spouse have found that attractive in a partner if they we're in a healthy place themselves? I doubt it. The AP wasn't filling anything you lacked, but what was lacking inside your spouse themselves.

Fight for your self esteem & self worth and do not allow it to be based on comparisons in your own mind. If you compare yourself to things or people outside you then you will always find yourself lacking something. You don't have to be the best. Just the best you. And the best you is more than worthy of love and honesty and faithfulness. So just don't demean your own worth to comparison questions. Please realize you are worth so much more.

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Bustedsmiles
Intuition77 wrote:
If I can also add this about questions. Not just for the OP but anyone especially in the beginning.

Any questions that form a comparison or a competition- was sex better, was she prettier, thinner, smarter,wealthier, did you enjoy talking with her more etc are not necessary in my opinion. I KNOW why they appear. The affair wounds us, our self esteem self worth everything. It takes over like a monster. But I'd like anyone feeling the pain of those questions to try this exercise.

Write down all your spouses positive points, attractions, best qualities. Then really look at them & ask yourself if no one else is as good or better then them in those areas. Chances are there are many people in the world or even people you know who are more attractive, thinner, wealthier, better at sex, smarter more interesting etc then your spouse. Do you think less of your spouse because so many people are better then them at any of those things? Odds are no.

This isnt about putting down your WS. Just that marriage isn't a competition. You didn't marry them because they we're "the best" you chose them because you loved them. They didn't marry you because you we're the best either but because they loved you. They didn't cheat because you got older, softer, too familiar, or because they found something better or because you we're lacking anything. They cheated because of something lacking in themselves.

If marriage to them is just about finding something better trust me they will never find it & real long term love will allude them forever. Because there is always someone better at something. Someone will always be younger, more attractive, built differently, more educated, more whatever. That doesn't make YOU any less. Marriage isn't about trading up for bigger better newer models. The AP is not better then you because you are your own person.

I wondered for a long time if the sex was better with AP. Then one day I realized I could probably have better sex with someone else. I just didn't. There we're many more attractive men then my husband. I just didn't care because I was married. There we're men smarter or more educated then my husband. Does that mean my husband was less then other men? No. He was just him. And I married him. I wasn't faithful because he was the best at everything or perfect. I was faithful because I chose to be and I wasn't lacking things inside me I thought I could fill from outside.


There is no comparison. In many ways the AP is a downgrade. For one thing they we're willing to engage in dishonesty & a relationship with a married person. Would your spouse have found that attractive in a partner if they we're in a healthy place themselves? I doubt it. The AP wasn't filling anything you lacked, but what was lacking inside your spouse themselves.

Fight for your self esteem & self worth and do not allow it to be based on comparisons in your own mind. If you compare yourself to things or people outside you then you will always find yourself lacking something. You don't have to be the best. Just the best you. And the best you is more than worthy of love and honesty and faithfulness. So just don't demean your own worth to comparison questions. Please realize you are worth so much more.




Thank you. I needed to hear this today. The AP is much younger than me and in every way physically my opposite. It has really magnified what used to be small insecurities. This is one of the biggest struggles I am having. I actually look fairly young for my age and had planned to just try to gracefully accept aging. Now it is a HUGE challenge for me.
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Kalmarjan
Intuition77 wrote:
If I can also add this about questions. Not just for the OP but anyone especially in the beginning.

Any questions that form a comparison or a competition- was sex better, was she prettier, thinner, smarter,wealthier, did you enjoy talking with her more etc are not necessary in my opinion. I KNOW why they appear. The affair wounds us, our self esteem self worth everything. It takes over like a monster. But I'd like anyone feeling the pain of those questions to try this exercise.

Write down all your spouses positive points, attractions, best qualities. Then really look at them & ask yourself if no one else is as good or better then them in those areas. Chances are there are many people in the world or even people you know who are more attractive, thinner, wealthier, better at sex, smarter more interesting etc then your spouse. Do you think less of your spouse because so many people are better then them at any of those things? Odds are no.

This isnt about putting down your WS. Just that marriage isn't a competition. You didn't marry them because they we're "the best" you chose them because you loved them. They didn't marry you because you we're the best either but because they loved you. They didn't cheat because you got older, softer, too familiar, or because they found something better or because you we're lacking anything. They cheated because of something lacking in themselves.

If marriage to them is just about finding something better trust me they will never find it & real long term love will allude them forever. Because there is always someone better at something. Someone will always be younger, more attractive, built differently, more educated, more whatever. That doesn't make YOU any less. Marriage isn't about trading up for bigger better newer models. The AP is not better then you because you are your own person.

I wondered for a long time if the sex was better with AP. Then one day I realized I could probably have better sex with someone else. I just didn't. There we're many more attractive men then my husband. I just didn't care because I was married. There we're men smarter or more educated then my husband. Does that mean my husband was less then other men? No. He was just him. And I married him. I wasn't faithful because he was the best at everything or perfect. I was faithful because I chose to be and I wasn't lacking things inside me I thought I could fill from outside.


There is no comparison. In many ways the AP is a downgrade. For one thing they we're willing to engage in dishonesty & a relationship with a married person. Would your spouse have found that attractive in a partner if they we're in a healthy place themselves? I doubt it. The AP wasn't filling anything you lacked, but what was lacking inside your spouse themselves.

Fight for your self esteem & self worth and do not allow it to be based on comparisons in your own mind. If you compare yourself to things or people outside you then you will always find yourself lacking something. You don't have to be the best. Just the best you. And the best you is more than worthy of love and honesty and faithfulness. So just don't demean your own worth to comparison questions. Please realize you are worth so much more.



Yes.
Yes.
Yes!!!

I can't commend uou enough!

You literally just put it all into perspective for me. What a consise, well put together analogy. I love my wife because I love her.
I chose her because I love her. She didn't "love bomb me. She just loved me from the beginning. I chose her and she chose me.

I can testify to the part missing in yourself as the WS. It took almost losing my best friend to realize there was something missing in me that could not be filled by that younger exciting AP.

It WAS me, and my inability to be vulnerable enough to talk to my wife and tell her how I was feeling for fear of hurting her feelings.

I will say this though. I have over compensated a bit for the truthfulness. I have been upfront and transparent in dealing with my emotion s that my wife and I talked and she feels that I am hurting her processing this and unless it's about contact not to bring her up.

I guess it was too much, but in my eagerness I was trying to show her, prove to her that my actions were a mistake, one that I will never make again.

But, I can see now that this post sums it up better, more succinct. I love my wife. Whatever, there are people better than me, and maybe some Better than her.

So what? I don't care.

I chose my wife because I love her. And I can't believe she loves me, but that just makes me love her more.
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Intuition77
Thanks everyone. Glad it was helpful to people.

Bustedsmiles-In My case AP was actually a good deal older then I but hadn't had a child in over a decade where I was less then 6 months from my last c-section when I think the affair started. So she was thinner & that really hurt my self esteem for awhile. Esp because I had been struggling with losing the weight due to complications from the surgery. So I know how hurtful the comparison can be. I had never been self conscious of my section scars until dday. Suddenly I felt like that damn scar had to be so ugly! That was when I started to look at my spouse without the blinders of love and marriage & realize hey! He doesn't weigh the same as on our wedding day either, he's got less hair, more wrinkles etc. (None of that bothered me
Because he was my husband)

But that's when I stopped my harmful self attacks (it's still hard sometimes we all get down on Ourselves) and realized I'd never been jealous of anyone being younger or prettier or thinner before in our marriage because my trust in my marriage was on my husband loving me because I'm me, as it should be and on his being faithful not because he couldn't find someone else to cheat with or attractive but because his character wouldn't allow him to hurt me or want to cheat. So the flaw truly wasn't in me it was in him. And his to amend if he chose to.

Kal can I offer this perspective, my spouse wasn't able to be honest much but there we're moments here & there where he tried some and in our case he refused counseling so sometimes I would ask certain questions and he would try some honest searching but WITH me. Analyzing, surmising working it out loud to me. I didn't like this either. Here's why. I DID want full honesty but my position was I've been through enough. I'm not your therapist to work this out with. I never wanted him to feel he had to hold things back, I desperately wanted an open truthful even
When it hurts a little kind of marriage. However I think the amount of pain the betrayed spouse has endured is extreme. So to me what I would have preferred was he work through questions, answering his own, whys and how's and why was this appealing, why did I feel that then, process it etc WITH a therapist not me. And then once those feelings thoughts were sorted and dealt, then come and talk to me with the respect and loving care of knowing what you've done to me. Not to say I wanted him to have to walk on eggshells just that a carefully thought out truth taking the other persons feelings into
Consideration and given with honest reassurance & love is much easier to take then just spitting out random "truths". Like from your posts you seem to be completely in understanding of the fog you we're in etc. But do you maybe sometimes forget to say (because to you it's obvious now) to your wife this is how it felt THEN because of xyz issues I was dealing with but when I look back NOW this is how I truly feel about that and even about my own behavior then? If you think anything should be obvious to your wife-it's not. She has no idea and prob felt a lot like she didn't know you or what you really think or feel because this changed everything she thought she knew about you.

There was more then once I told my husband just stop your hurting me. He wasn't thinking through what he was saying or dealing with his issues. I wanted the honesty but I wanted and needed to see my pain and caring for me
As his top priority. When you just gush truth it can be hurtful. It doesn't necessarily mean
She doesn't want truth maybe she just needs more reassurances and care when it's given.
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Kalmarjan
Intuition, 

Thanks for that! I know after having the conversation with my wife that she was hurting when I was talking all the time about the AP. I realize now that I was being insensitive about the whole thing, forgetting about her side of the healing. 

In the end, it really is all about selfishness on my end. I spent so long putting myself and my needs last that when I strayed, it was almost liberating. I am still coming off that round of stupidity, and your post knocked a bit more sense into me. 

I know that I need to work on it for me, and so that in the end, if she finds me attractive then that's all the better. I don't have to wound her while doing it though.

It's weird, for years and years I avoided being open with my wife for fear of losing her. I guess too much of a good thing can be detrimental. In essence, like trying to drink water from a firehose.
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