Crushed
I have asked many times why.  I have been told, it was just sex, it was dumb, it didnt mean anything.   Why does it matter to me?  All of these reasons seem to minimize and make it sound so trivial.  It has totally destroyed my life, took away my dreams, my Hope's, and my image of who I was.  And it really hurts to know that I was thought so little of.  I explained how I felt about my WS saying these things to me and was told well its true.    There will never be any true remorse from him, there will never be any empathy or compassion.  I just need to accept these things and continue on with the divorce.
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Vanessa
My personal opinion is the "why?" is because he (or she) COULD.  The WS cheated because they could.  Because your married life had value to them (hence not going for a divorce before engaging in the affair) but they also wanted "something" else.  And the WS used poor life coping skills to look for that "something." 

"Feeling" good was more important than "being" good.  Who among us has never had another piece of cake, glass of wine, etc when we had already had "enough"?  When I reached for that extra chocolate brownie, I knew that NOT having another brownie was better for my health than having one.  But my desire for immediate gratification won the moment.  I think the difference between me and my WS (now X) is that if I knew that by having another brownie I would cause HIM pain or suffering I would have thrown those brownies away.   So in my example, my WS did not just eat an extra brownie, it is as if he took ALL the grocery money and bought only brownies and then ate them ALL.  Big difference, right?  It did not bother him that by only buying brownies, and eating them all himself, that I would have nothing left to eat.  Because he only thought about himself. 

It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that the man I loved so very much was capable of such a cold, calculating and cruel thing.  The fact that he was CAPABLE of lying to my face (for months), stealing from our family finances, risking my health, denying me agency in my own life choices, etc was enough to crack my rose colored glasses.  I have come to accept that I will never know WHY.  Perhaps he won't either.  But for me knowing the WHY doesn't change anything - I decided all that mattered was the FUTURE.  In my case my WS was NOT genuinely remorseful and did not go "all in" to repair the damage he had created.  And that was what mattered to MY future - not if it was some "mid life crisis" or whatever. 

Hugs on this difficult path -
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surviving
I felt the "why" question was important to have answered.  It took my husband a long time to give me an answer, and it was only a little satisfactory.  His main excuse for going outside our marriage is because porn taught him since he was 11 years old, that women were for him to get his release.  He wanted illicit sex, taught to him by porn, and he would only get that from someone other than me.  The second question I needed an answer to was "how."  How could you do that to me and our six children?  How can you walk out the door, knowing what you were going to do during your lunch hour?  How could you give away what didn't belong to her (or them in our case)?  I will never have an answer that satisfies my question of "why" and "how."  It just doesn't make sense.  Even though he knew it was wrong, he did it anyway.  He calls it sexual slavery and he felt he had to feed that desire.  It just blows my mind that he could be so smart (PhD with straight A's) and have no common sense.  
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ThrivenotSurvive

For me the Why? was important because we were attempting reconciliation.   

It was necessary tor me before even beginning to rebuild any measure of trust to know that HE understood the WHY.  That he could figure our why, after 25 years of being faithful and loving with many, many opportunities to cheat that were not seized (which for me, defies the "just because they could" philosophy) that at this particular time and place he felt compelled and entitled to blow up our marriage and hide things that affected my health and well-being from me.  

I needed HIM to understand it even more than I needed to, because the only one that could truly police (and change) his behavior was him. And if he didn't understand why he did the things he did, he was doomed to repeat them.  But if he did - then he could look out for the kind of thinking and feeling that got him into trouble and deal with them early (similar to how successful recovered addicts deal with their addiction.)

Sometimes even when we understand the why (for any behavior - drugs, sex, lying, overeating, manipulating, controlling, etc.) we still choose to repeat bad choices. And at that point it becomes a conscious choice rather than an unconscious emotional reaction. But if we are motivated by a desire to change, grow, do better and be better, that self knowledge is the critical first step in a series that allows you to  take control of who you are and who you become.  It isn't the only step so the WHY alone won't get you there, but it is all-important in the kind of "emotional growing-up" these people need to do.

On the other hand, if you are getting a divorce I am not sure if the WHY is necessary.  I do think understanding helps in the healing, but isn't necessary.  

Crushed - I think it is likely best that you are getting a divorce.  It seems to me your husband's answers are one of two things: 1) a lie because he doesn't want to delve into the deeper reasons for why he behaves as he does so he just throws out an answer to "placate" you or 2) the truth, which means he's been a liar since the day you met him.  He knew as he was taking his vows he didn't believe that he needed to forsake all others and that sex wasn't a big deal.  Neither makes him sound like a good bet for the future.

Crushed - I know it feels like all his reasons/excuses say something about your worth or value.  If I was lovable enough how could he treat me this way?  If I am valuable, why would he take the chance of losing me?   But our value has NOTHING to do with their actions.  Men married to successful, rich, breathtakingly beautiful women still cheat - and many who are married to remarkably average underachievers don't.  Because how you act and what you do is about who YOU are deep inside.  Whether you believe this world is an “eat or be eaten” world where only suckers play by the rules.  Whether you derive satisfaction from being a person of your word or prefer to get your every need met the second you have it regardless of consequences.  Whether you believe that there is value in investing your energy and time into other people, even when it is hard and asking/expecting them to do the same. 

Your husband is the one that should be questioning his worth - not you.  The only questions you need to be asking yourself is what signs did you not see or pay attention to along that way that should have warned you that he was not a man of integrity?  And how can you see people more clearly going forward so you know who to invest time/care in - and who to stay the heck away from.  

His inability to value you and your marriage properly says NOTHING about you and everything about him.  

Vanessa - I agree with a lot of what you have said, with the exception of the why being because they "could."  I could have had so many affairs by this point in my life, we'd be able to play "7 degrees of Thrive" by now.  My husband could have as well.  We are both attractive people who worked long hours at jobs we were passionate about with large groups of other attractive, interesting people.  Opportunities were plentiful. 

Neither of us are particularly jealous, so we each had a lot of freedom of movement and time that would have easily allowed for an affair to bloom and be hidden.  But neither of us did for 25 years (and I was tempted at times when I felt disconnected to him emotionally, but never acted on it).  Then, when a very specific set of experiences and situations took place over 3-5 years that built up of well of resentment, hurt and anger followed by an opportunity similar to many that had been rejected in the past arose - he took it.  Around the same time, I had a similar opportunity, and while tempted, choose not to.  Opportunity does not equal an affair.  Lack of willingness to deal with your feelings and needs in an open and honest way leads to affairs (in my opinion.)

If I misinterpreted your meaning and in saying that they "could" you meant because there was something missing in them, something that made them choose to not consider the harm to those they love, their own self-image, etc. than I would agree.  But then, in my mind, that is still part of the WHY?  Why is that part missing?  What has prevented them from learning the kind of empathy and compassion that would provide the consideration of the consequences to yourself and others?  

For me one of the biggest indicators of whether there is any chance for successful reconciliation is the WS's HONEST exploration of the WHYs - followed by a plan of action to address them and change their learned responses.  And the Why's have to be about them - not their partner. 

If a why is "I felt rejected when you worked so much" - the exploration needs to be about why they interpreted it to mean they didn't matter, and why they didn't use more appropriate avenues to address it (talking, counseling, compromise, etc.)  If the Why's are a laundry list of their partner's faults - it isn't an honest exploration, it's just blame shifting.

Anyway, after wayyyyyy too much time thinking abotu this, it is where I ended up.  Might not make sense to anyone else, but it made sense to me.

BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child
DD May 2016

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl
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Keepabuzz
I think the why is important, but I also believe that there is never going to be a why that makes sense to a BS, at least not to me. That’s because I would never cheat. I would never betray my wife. I’m just not wired that way. 
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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BlindCheetah
I told my husband I didn’t except to ever find a why that I get but, he needs to find and fully understand his why. I can’t imagine ever getting an explanation that makes sense to me. 

Female BS
Married 19 years 
2 tween girls

DDay 10/2019 
Affair 1, 11/2010 to 2/2011
Affair 2, 6/2019 to 12/2019 - Persistent One is still trying to contact him. 

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SoUnUsual

I’m also still searching for the why. My husband is too. He said it was because he needed connection he wasn’t getting from me. He said it was because she made him feel so good by pumping him up with compliments, etc. and I didn’t do that.

I think why is more important for some people and less important for others. For myself, I have struggled with low self esteem and low confidence for most of my life. Having a real why feels important to me because of that. I need him to acknowledge that this was his own selfishness and not some failing on my part. 

 I still haven’t decided if I will stay in the marriage or not but either way the real, true why feels important for me to know. 

Female BS - Together 21 years - 2 kids -  DDay February 16, 2020
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Keepabuzz
I think there are different levels of why. For example the why of all affairs in my opinion is a lack of integrity, and selfishness. It really IS that simple.  Now the then next layer or layers are to answer not the question of why they had an affair, but why they lack integrity and why are they selfish. 
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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ThrivenotSurvive
Agreed.
BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child
DD May 2016

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl
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ThrivenotSurvive
SoUnUsual wrote:

I’m also still searching for the why. My husband is too. He said it was because he needed connection he wasn’t getting from me. He said it was because she made him feel so good by pumping him up with compliments, etc. and I didn’t do that.

I think why is more important for some people and less important for others. For myself, I have struggled with low self esteem and low confidence for most of my life. Having a real why feels important to me because of that. I need him to acknowledge that this was his own selfishness and not some failing on my part. 

 I still haven’t decided if I will stay in the marriage or not but either way the real, true why feels important for me to know. 



He needs to dig under that to figure why he didn't:
1) Talk to you about those needs not being met.  If he noticed that he was becoming attracted to someone else and seeking out their company, a person with integrity would typically try to simultaneously do two things - distance themselves from the person who is becoming a temptation and ask themselves - what is going on with me that is making me feel this way?  If it is that they are not having those needs met at home, they'd talk to their partner about it.

2) Address his needs differently - Did he not REALIZE that was what was making her seem so enticing? (which means he needs to get much better at self-reflection and labeling/understanding his own emotions. It would indicate that he didn't even realize what was "missing" until someone else was providing it.  And even then, he didn't recognize that it was the attention and validation he needed - rather than the person.   Or did he realize that the attention was what he needed - but for some reason did not choose to talk to you about the perceived lack so you could work on rebuilding/fortifying your connection at home.  (this would indicate he has conflict avoidance that needs to be overcome)

3) And the one I think is most important... learn how to meet his OWN needs.  It is a weakness to NEED other people to validate you.  A common and wholly understandable one - but it isn't particularly healthy and leads you to be dependent on others for your sense of worth.  I preach this all the times to BS.  That you need to learn to love yourself, value yourself and not place your "worth" in someone else's hands.  Other people's validation becomes a bonus - not the breath of life. 

THE SAME GOES FOR WS.  Generally, from what I've seen they are typically worse about this than any BS. (For BS this issue often doesn't develop until after DD when their self-image has been shot to hell) Most WS need that exterior validation so much they will have affairs to get it even when it goes against everything they believe in when they aren't receiving copious amounts of it at home.  And frankly, who among us hasn't been so tired, frustrated and stretched thin by life that we haven't neglected our spouse for some period of time? If there is anyone that can say that than they are a saint.  God knows I can't. 

So my point is - he needs to dig deep and find out what part of him isn't healed or didn't develop fully that makes him like a 10 year old kid who will do ANYTHING to get attention - even if they know the consequences may well hurt them.  99% of the time it stems from childhood and never being comfortable in their own skin.  And he needs to learn address THAT or he will always be at risk.  

As counter-intuitive as it sounds, people who act out and are selfish and cruel typically have VERY, VERY low self-value.  They need to love and respect themselves MORE so that they will stop seeking "balms" to tell them they are enough (drugs, food, sex/attention, etc.) They may have high self-esteem (how they see themselves, their accomplishments and project themselves to others) but the only way they can maintain that is to not self-reflect and to receive constant adulation/praise that they perceive as due them.  Those with high self-value (I have value for just being me.) tend to need less exterior validation and often have slightly lower self-esteem because they actually DO self-reflect and are as aware of their flaws as they are their strengths.  They don't necessarily see themselves as above or better than others, nor do they need to in order to feel good about themselves. 

He needs to have LESS self-esteem (I am deserve XXX because I am XXX and it is my due.) and more self-value (I have value for just being me.)

The interesting thing that has been tested and proven in MANY studies is that people who feel they have value just for being them tend to be kinder, more compassionate and more honest/transparent.  There is nothing to prove.  They don't need to put other people down and get constant approval from others to feel good about themselves.  They don't need to hide parts of themselves and they feel that it is acceptable to have emotional needs/wants that they can articulate.

Those who have high self-esteem and low self-value (almost all domestic abusers fit this profile) are often very cruel and selfish.  Many feel a need to dominate and demean.  Others need to have constant adulation and act out when they don't receive it.  Others use alcohol and drugs to diminish the feelings of not being enough.  For these people, life is a constant struggle to feed that self-esteem - and it usually results in hurting others whether through dominating them or lying to and disrespecting them to get "theirs".

He needs to heal the part of him that felt like he was SOOO in need of outside validation that it was worth sacrificing his integrity to get it.  He needs to educate the part of him that believes his pain, or hurt, or discomfort somehow gives him permission to be selfish.  

*** VERY IMPORTANT *** Some may read this and think that I mean YOU need to show him unwavering love and support or reassure him of his value.  THAT IS NOT WHAT I AM SAYING.  Not at all. That is still outside validation.  You only need to feel and express your honest emotions which are likely anger, recrimination and hurt.  YOU aren't responsible for his feelings

I am saying HE needs to come to terms with HIMSELF.  He got into this mess by not facing himself - his neediness, his selfishness, etc.  Now he has even more reasons to feel crappy about himself.  He can just accept that and throw his hands up in despair (I am a bad/selfish/weak person.)  That's the path of the complacent victim.  "I have no control over who I am so I won't try"  If he takes this path, I'd leave. 

Clearly not facing his painful emotions was a losing strategy.  All it led him to do was put on a short term band-aid that had poison on it and made the sore worse. 

NOW he needs to face all of those sores - the sad, angry, resentful places in himself.  He needs to explore them, understand them and accept them.  He has to fully understand what he has done - the pain he has caused and the faulty/selfish thinking that allowed him to do so.  Once he can see and accept who he has been - with all the warts and with no justifications - he can start to change.  To choose a new path, one that can allow him to have self-VALUE and allows him some day to like himself again (this takes a while if they REALLY face what they've done, but it is possible after they do the work to become someone of integrity.)  He can learn to feel good about himself - not because someone is validating him - but because HE knows that he has become a man of integrity.  One who's thoughts and actions are in full alignment, that can be emotionally available and transparent to those he loves because he has nothing to hide.  Of course, he has to put in the work - but it is possible.  

This may take prayer, meditation, educating himself on emotional IQ, counseling, etc.  But until he can face the parts of himself he doesn't like and integrate them into his self-identity he will always be at risk of needing approval and praise from others to make him think he's okay.  The upside is that once you face your faults and demons, you can actually start working on improving/changing.  But as long as you spend all your energy trying to avoid them you are doomed to live at their emotional beck and call.  

I don't know which route your husband will choose.  And even if he takes the latter approach there is NOTHING that says you can or should stay with him.  He should do it for himself - to be a person of value.  Not to win you back.  BUT if he isn't on that path - I'd leave in a hurry.  The other one is just a path to more pain.
BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child
DD May 2016

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl
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SoUnUsual

Thrive - He has always had a low level of insight into his emotions, in my opinion.

He has experienced some difficult things in his life but would refuse to admit those events had a negative impact on him. He was always a sensitive kid who was taught to stuff his feelings. He has always had a need for validation and I think feels better about himself when he can criticize and demean others. 

 I’m reading your post, I’m nodding, and nodding, and nodding some more. I think your spot on, and I honestly believe he will get to a place where he sees and acknowledges these things. He is in therapy and has been extremely committed to healing our marriage. I’m proud of him for the work he’s been doing, but he’s not to his “why” yet. 

 

 

Female BS - Together 21 years - 2 kids -  DDay February 16, 2020
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