BorealJ
Tonight, my WW and I had a truth talk. She committed to honesty, and seemingly has given it to me. Previous attempts at this were a failure because she was not ready for it. She has, in some ways, made progress.  We are approaching 6 months from D-day, and have both made commitments to work towards repairing and renewing our marriage.  Shame has handcuffed her a lot, and in earlier months it led to many painful behaviours.  Trickle truth, triggering behaviours, and the avoidance that makes you feel so lonely were common.  Somehow, despite the pain her behaviours were causing me, I was able to stay patient (to the extent a constantly triggered BS can be) with the understanding that she was not doing these things with malicious intent to hurt me, rather, because she was struggling with being able to find herself.  When I thought of myself as a chump, I would say I was shifting the goal posts for her.  Continually lowering my expectations.  Now, she has moved herself to understanding some of this and offering me some more bravery in way of actions and honesty. 
From this point forward, I think my boundaries need to be a little more concrete; however, I'm struggling with how to define them.  The one I'm struggling with most is one I made clear right after I found out.  I won't stay and be the other man. If my wife loves her AP but is choosing me but will always be miserable and pine for him, I won't stay. Lately, my wife has been moving towards connection and finally offered me some of the discussion around clarity that I have been needing.  When I asked if she still loves him, her response was "the logical side of my brain understands it can't be love". She has an awareness that it's not love of him; that it isn't mature love or even based in reality as she fell in love with him by making him the singular object of her fantasy despite not having interacted with him in any meaningful way in over 20 years. Her fantasy relationship with him led her to profess that she loved him the first time she saw him in her adult life. Of course that did blossom into a real relationship. She saw him once on a business trip. Discussed the inappropriateness of the comments and connection and stopped contact for a month. Then after a month, got back in touch through FB and quickly they professed love for each other. She saw him one more time in person while on holiday with our kids.  It ended when he started planning their life together, and she put a stop to that thought process because she wouldn't do that to her kids.  He ended it because he didn't want to be an affair. So one meeting, a month of nothing, then a 3 month emotional affair over the internet with one physical encounter in there.  We're now approaching 7 months since the end of this 3 month fling, and she still experiences the emotion of love for him.  She says her brain tells her it's not love but she experiences it as the emotion of love.  She says she misses the feeling of being in love.  I asked her if her love for him prevents her from moving towards me.  She said she didn't know but she doesn't want it to. She doesn't want that to be the reason we don't make it, then corrected herself to say she doesn't want us not to make it.
So, absolutely I will not stay and be the other man.  I will not be settled for because the better man is somehow unattainable or not real enough for her. However, how do I define the boundary when she says she wants it to work with me, and is processing and convincing herself that what she feels for him isn't love. She still feels a connection, whether love of not, that seems to be hindering her efforts towards us. She is practicing things like thought stopping to send him on his way when he enters her mind, but I don't think she has mastered this yet.  It helps to send him away momentarily, but the love lingers. How do I know if she is going to be capable of shifting her emotional love connection away from him and back towards me.  She has made it clear that her logical side wants our family in tact and working towards a fulfilling life together.  But if that seems like a sacrifice to her because the emotional side of her will always love him and there will be a void in her life, I can't see us forming the kind of relationship that I am willing to be a part of.  She seems so defeated. Like the work of repairing our relationship is overwhelmingly hard. It also seems the love emotions she feels for her AP are making her feel discouraged.  Like she can't purge him from her heart and that makes her a bad person and failure at the recovery process. I don't want to make her feel like she's failing because I'm sure she will just give up, but I need a boundary in place for myself. It's been over for twice as long as it was going on for.  What kind of timeline is reasonable to expect a shift?  What markers am I looking for that tell me there is progress being made on her part?  Can someone be single minded in their decision to work on the marriage while still experiencing love for the AP?
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anthropoidape
In answer to your last question, I believe the answer is yes, or close enough to it.

As to the rest... man that is hard stuff to hear, but it is better than being lied to. Stay strong. All I can say is what my IC said right away about affair "love" - "oh, that can take years to pass." When it does pass, however, there is in no sense a void. If you think back on fantasies you have had - say, once you thought you'd get a particular job or whatever, and were devastated when you didn't get it - you let it go, you don't actually keep thinking damn that was the one that got away.

Bear in mind that the fantasy aspect of this applies in your favour as well. Yes she is caught on a delusional version of love. This sucks. It also means however that you are not "the other man". There is not actually any man you are up against. There is a delusion, and a man, and you are the man. She is not working on letting go of loving a man, she is working on bringing herself back into the real world and letting go of a delusion. 

I understand the difficulty now is that you are basically going to live every minute of your life feeling like you are being compared to some fantasy figure and falling short. That's pretty hard going. You could bail. I think I might in that situation, but I can't say that definitely. 
Maybe it is okay, maybe it will be okay.

BS, d-day Feb 2017, 16 mth affair.
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anthropoidape
Also... six months after d-day my wife was still far from back on earth. I would say it was more like 11 months before she was more than just very patchy. 

So I think six months could easily be too early to take her words seriously. Fro my experience,  six months on from now you might say, "remember when you said that" and have her reply, "what? Did I really say that?"

Weirdest thing.
Maybe it is okay, maybe it will be okay.

BS, d-day Feb 2017, 16 mth affair.
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Keepabuzz
I think many of you here are much stronger than me. If my wife had said she felt love for her AP, and wasn’t in love with me, I would have been gone. I still would be gone.  I guess she is lucky she was out of the fog for the most part before she confessed.  She did say “he isn’t a bad person” once. I quickly informed her that they both were pieces of sh!t!  While she never loved him, he was more of a distraction from her depression and perceived misery of her life, she considered him a friend.

I saw the change when he “followed” one of her boards on Pinterest. This was probably 2-3 months after d-day, I was away on a business trip. When I came home, within an hour she told me.  She was extremely scared that I would view this as her breaking NC.  As soon as she saw it, she contacted a mutual former coworker and asked her to tell him to unfollow it immediately.  This coworker did this, he unfollowed it, and that is that last we ever heard of him. I was full of rage, I had to leave and get away from her, and call a safe person to have them help to talk me off the edge of going after him. The change was that she was very angry at him for trying to screw up her life, she knew I was hanging by the the smallest possible thread anyway. She actually referred to him as “dumba$$”.   The switch had been flipped in her head. 
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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BorealJ
So Keepabuzz, you believe that the boundary I am trying to set has already been crossed?  My wife is being honest with me.  Something she was too afraid to do earlier in the process.  While acknowledging the lingering feelings of love that she is processing and making sense of, even acknowledging that it's not real love.  She has said that she loves me.  She has communicated a commitment to me and our relationship.  She has completely shut the door to him as a possibility for her.  She knows it is not good for her or her kids and other people in her orbit, including her AP.  From a switch flipping point of view, she has made a clear decision that she wants him gone from her mind and emotions, and is actively trying to make that happen.  Though she is still grieving.  This was a real relationship and she is still grieving the loss of it. As hard as that can be for a BS, it does mean it is over.  She can flip a switch in her decision making, but what kind of person can flip a switch in their emotions?  That takes work as most of us BS's are well aware.  I don't choose the emotions I deal with daily because of the affair, though, at times the draw to pessimism and sadness seem like a drug that I can't help but move to.  Moving away from those emotions or at least how they affect me is work. 
So I think we are in agreement that there ought to be a boundary about love.  There is not room in our marriage for romantic love outside of each other.  But it happened and there is a process to go through to bring us back inside that boundary.  Can I demand this process have a timeline?  Would that not short change the proper processing and growth required of this challenge?  Moreover, would an expiry date on this grace period make her feel like a failure and stop her from trying because it is too overwhelming. Or worse, force her into lying because she doesn't want to lose me.  That would be a force too destructive to her personal growth. 
But if it's not a time boundary, is there an expectation of progression that can be defined?
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Keepabuzz
BorealJ wrote:
So Keepabuzz, you believe that the boundary I am trying to set has already been crossed?  My wife is being honest with me.  Something she was too afraid to do earlier in the process.  While acknowledging the lingering feelings of love that she is processing and making sense of, even acknowledging that it's not real love.  She has said that she loves me.  She has communicated a commitment to me and our relationship.  She has completely shut the door to him as a possibility for her.  She knows it is not good for her or her kids and other people in her orbit, including her AP.  From a switch flipping point of view, she has made a clear decision that she wants him gone from her mind and emotions, and is actively trying to make that happen.  Though she is still grieving.  This was a real relationship and she is still grieving the loss of it. As hard as that can be for a BS, it does mean it is over.  She can flip a switch in her decision making, but what kind of person can flip a switch in their emotions?  That takes work as most of us BS's are well aware.  I don't choose the emotions I deal with daily because of the affair, though, at times the draw to pessimism and sadness seem like a drug that I can't help but move to.  Moving away from those emotions or at least how they affect me is work. 
So I think we are in agreement that there ought to be a boundary about love.  There is not room in our marriage for romantic love outside of each other.  But it happened and there is a process to go through to bring us back inside that boundary.  Can I demand this process have a timeline?  Would that not short change the proper processing and growth required of this challenge?  Moreover, would an expiry date on this grace period make her feel like a failure and stop her from trying because it is too overwhelming. Or worse, force her into lying because she doesn't want to lose me.  That would be a force too destructive to her personal growth. 
But if it's not a time boundary, is there an expectation of progression that can be defined?


If I came across as judging, I apologize. I don’t think a boundary that you have set has been crossed. She is being honest with you, and that is good. I certainly shifted the boundaries for my wife. I had her tracked via GPS. I had her tell where she was going, when she left the house, when she arrived at her destination. When she left for home, when she arrived home. All of those things lessened with time. I shifted the boundaries. 

I was simply saying that for me personally, not anyone else, if my wife had said she still had feelings for her AP, I would have left. This is not a judgement of anyone here or anywhere. Just my own personal line. I was simply (although clearly not well enough) trying to say that I think those that can stay through that are stronger than me. Like yourself, I think you are stronger than me. I would not have been able to stay if my wife had told me she still loved, or honestly if she ever had loved her AP. That would have been the nail in the coffin for me. 

It is pretty strange to me, my story, there are probably 100 things about all of it, that if they were just a tiny bit different, I would have been gone without a doubt.

If I had caught her, gone.
If she loved him, gone.
If she had lingering feelings for him, gone. 
If we didnt have kids, gone. 
If our kids were a bit older, gone. 
If she had violated any of my boundaries, gone. 
If she didn’t fully own it from the second she confessed, gone. 
If she rushed my healing, gone. 
If she had not agreed to every boundary, gone. 

I could go on for pages here. 



Many people here have been put through much more torment than I have, and yet they stayed. I would not have, I just wouldn’t have been strong enough to. It’s almost like this destruction of me was perfectly designed to take me to the very most I could possibly bear, but just not let me fall over the edge. 
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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GingerHoneyBunny
"Can someone be single minded in their decision to work on the marriage while still experiencing love for the AP?" 

I knew my wife grieved for the loss of her AP. She was even mad at me initially for stopping it. Now she says she don't feel a thing for him with mental boundaries . I have some difficulty in buying that. She too wants to work on the marriage. But i feel we only have a marriage on paper. And the whole injustice of it is starting to allow me to see myself able to leave her and make it on my own. I'm even now able to feel that other women are attractive to me. I cannot differentiate whether my wife and your wife now wants to work for the marriage because we are all they have left or because they really love us. Because, when they had the AP, they were behaving pretty callously towards us the betrayed husband's. 
Male BS, D-Day 22th September 2017.
Probably a 10 to 12 month affair (I think, cause no one seems to remember anything!) 
Bleeding heart...
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BorealJ
Keepabuzz wrote:


If I came across as judging, I apologize.

It is pretty strange to me, my story, there are probably 100 things about all of it, that if they were just a tiny bit different, I would have been gone without a doubt.

If I had caught her, gone.
If she loved him, gone.
If she had lingering feelings for him, gone. 
If we didnt have kids, gone. 
If our kids were a bit older, gone. 
If she had violated any of my boundaries, gone. 
If she didn’t fully own it from the second she confessed, gone. 
If she rushed my healing, gone. 
If she had not agreed to every boundary, gone. 

I could go on for pages here. 



Many people here have been put through much more torment than I have, and yet they stayed. I would not have, I just wouldn’t have been strong enough to. It’s almost like this destruction of me was perfectly designed to take me to the very most I could possibly bear, but just not let me fall over the edge. 

Sorry to sound defensive. I guess that's kind of a thing we go through when we have a heightened sense of insecurity.  I was trying to get a sense for how to define these boundaries though. The boundary was crossed at some point and I guess when people suggest that that is unforgivable, I feel like I'm screwing something up. The point I am making is that there are signs of movement back to us (finally communicated as highly desired), but that it's difficult to hear that the emotional connection to her AP still lingers this long after.  Especially if it interferes with our ability to move towards our ultimate desired goal.  I guess I wonder how to define that progress or even assess if there is progress.  I am wondering honestly if based on the clear outline of my situation how others, especially those who have experienced personal or relationship healing, would assess my boundaries and situation.
I'm not sure that I am being stronger than you by staying in my situation.  I may be enduring more pain than you believe you were able to, but that might not equate to strength.  You knew what circumstances you needed for healing to happen and set the parameters for that. You were willing to leave for your own healing if your boundaries were crossed. Perhaps I'm the one not strong enough to change my situation and do what's best for my healing.  Early on, I would say I definitely was. I was disappointed in her behaviour at every turn, but took a deep breath and endured it while moving those boundaries for her so that it would be easier for her.  She'd still disappoint, and I still stayed.  Now, however, I'm in a spot where I do feel like the momentum has shifted our way, but now think we are in a stage where we are able to more accurately assess whether we are a safe place for each other to be vulnerable.  That's going to require some sort of assessment tool. I'm not sure I have those tools as evidenced by my past failure to really set healthy boundaries.
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Trinity
Keepabuzz wrote:

It’s almost like this destruction of me was perfectly designed to take me to the very most I could possibly bear, but just not let me fall over the edge. 


Me too.  But we are still here.  

"T"
BS - DDay July 2017

O GOD, take me, break me, make me. 
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anthropoidape
BorealJ wrote:

Sorry to sound defensive. I guess that's kind of a thing we go through when we have a heightened sense of insecurity.  I was trying to get a sense for how to define these boundaries though. The boundary was crossed at some point and I guess when people suggest that that is unforgivable, I feel like I'm screwing something up. The point I am making is that there are signs of movement back to us (finally communicated as highly desired), but that it's difficult to hear that the emotional connection to her AP still lingers this long after.  Especially if it interferes with our ability to move towards our ultimate desired goal.  I guess I wonder how to define that progress or even assess if there is progress.  I am wondering honestly if based on the clear outline of my situation how others, especially those who have experienced personal or relationship healing, would assess my boundaries and situation.
I'm not sure that I am being stronger than you by staying in my situation.  I may be enduring more pain than you believe you were able to, but that might not equate to strength.  You knew what circumstances you needed for healing to happen and set the parameters for that. You were willing to leave for your own healing if your boundaries were crossed. Perhaps I'm the one not strong enough to change my situation and do what's best for my healing.  Early on, I would say I definitely was. I was disappointed in her behaviour at every turn, but took a deep breath and endured it while moving those boundaries for her so that it would be easier for her.  She'd still disappoint, and I still stayed.  Now, however, I'm in a spot where I do feel like the momentum has shifted our way, but now think we are in a stage where we are able to more accurately assess whether we are a safe place for each other to be vulnerable.  That's going to require some sort of assessment tool. I'm not sure I have those tools as evidenced by my past failure to really set healthy boundaries.


None of us knows what we would do. It's easy to ssy "if she'd said this I'd have left." We all once thought, "if she ever cheated I'd leave" only to learn it is more complicated than that. 

I spent a while thinking NC was a critical boundary (actually, it is) and that if I didn't control that then we were through. In the end NC happened when I said fine, you know what damage it can do so you decide what you want to do. I thought I might leave because of it, but I wasn't ready to make that call either way. Then she went NC. (The contact was not maintaining the affair, it was trying to convince the AP to fix his marriage. Still not okay.) Some things just need to run their course. 

I do believe there are real boundaries but I don't think you can fixate on them when things are still out of control. From what I have read, your wife is still out of control. Out of her own control, not herself, not thinking clearly, half mad, whatever. She will not be defending, in six months, the stuff she is saying now. She will think it is stupid. This sucks but it is just how it goes. 

You have to waitand see how it goes. One challenge when you are someone who wants equality in a relationship is that you have to think somewhat patronisingly for now. Like you might think of a child, "she is just going through a phase." It is hard to embrace that view of your partner but it is probably the right view for now. Her behaviour is a lot like that of someone who has regressed. 

(My IC once said that at around late 30s/40 a lot of people suddenly relive a lot of the issues they didn't deal properly with at 15-17). You are in a sense waiting for her to grow out of it. I know it is hard to think of yourself as being in a more advanced role and being more aware and in tune with reality than she is, but for now you almost certainly are. 
Maybe it is okay, maybe it will be okay.

BS, d-day Feb 2017, 16 mth affair.
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UrbanExplorer
She is on the right track in understanding that what she perceives as love is not really about the AP's uniqueness, but about how she felt about herself during the high of the affair. That might be what she's clinging to and why it looks like pining for him or for a different life. She should definitely be sorting herself out in therapy and having no contact with him. Ultimately, she can lose those feelings for him and totally move on, but not if she chooses to cling. That is where therapy and making some healthier life changes can help .
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