In another thread posted in this Community, surviving wrote:

"...I don't want someone to stay just because it is the right thing to do.  I want someone here because they want to be with me.  If his #1 desire isn't you, why stay?..."

When a couple comes in for affair recovery counseling, it is necessary to determine each partner's motive for being there. The unfaithful partner's motive is especially important because it will have a significant impact on the direction of therapy.

Their motive(s) tend to come out of 3 primary areas of desire: DO, GET, BE.

Most of the time, the unfaithful partner is either strongly anchored in DO or GET, or ping-ponging between to the two of them

What drives the desire to DO? Approval and appeasement.
The source of approval may be parents, family, peers, a partner, church, God, among other things. A doing person’s focus is to maximize praise and minimize disapproval. The expectation to think, act, or live in a certain way is defined externally. (This is the motive for making a choice simply because "it is the right thing to do," as quoted in the post above.)

What drives the desire to GET? Gratification and pleasure.
This person believes that true satisfaction will be realized by gaining something outside themselves (a fulfilling relationship, a successful career, wealth or possessions, a good reputation, a particular achievement, etc.). The pursuit is toward external goals or circumstances.

The unfaithful partner gets involved in an affair out of a GET motive. They believe they have the right to experience pleasure, happiness, fulfillment, etc. And when the affair is discovered, it is usually a DO motive (experienced as guilt and duty) that brings them to the counseling office.

Neither of these motives is "bad." It is healthy to be aware of standards that are outside ourselves (DO). Otherwise, we each become little gods who can do whatever we please without the right to be questioned. And desiring happiness and pleasure in life (GET) is almost always prefered over displeasure or pain.

But when either of these becomes the primary motive that drives us in decisions, we are at risk because each is anchored in something that remains outside ourselves. The DOing person can become focussed on pleasing the outside standard even when there is a private rebellion going on inside them. And the GETting person only remains content if they achieve and keep that thing they desire and it lives up to their expectations.

The ping-ponging starts when the unfaithful partner commits to DOing the right thing, but eventually the inward pull toward what they really want to GET leads them back into affair thinking/behavior. For a while. The guilt eventually builds to the point that they come back to the marriage with renewed effort. For a while. Back-and-forth.

What drives a person to BE? Meaning and purpose.
This person has a vision of the kind of person they desire to become (or continue becoming) and finds fulfillment in choices that lead them toward it. The focus is primarily on a desire for inward change.

In my experience, it is the focus on BEing (or BEcoming) that is necessary for insuring a choice that permanently moves in a particular direction. This is true for both partners, but let me focus on the unfaithful...

He/she needs to believe that the affair choices are inconsistent with the true sense of who they are... who they are becoming... and the story they want to tell with their lives. To many outside observers, this seems obvious. Friends and family who knew the unfaithful partner before the affair hardly recognize who they seem to have become.

And the problem is they have self-justified their choices to the point that they believe they are making better choices for themselves; telling a better story (living out their true passions, finally doing what they want, happy for the first time, experiencing the kind of connection everyone deserves and wants, being "my own person", etc.). But they're not. In almost every case, they have come to believe a lie.

There needs to be a process in which the unfaithful partner is encouraged to look more honestly at themselves (their identity, their values, their inward convictions based on life outcomes) and answer clearly: "Who are you becoming?" The answer to that question should not rely on circumstances (who they're with, where they live, what job they do), but on the story they are telling in any circumstance.

The clearer a person's vision of who they are becoming, the more likely they will make healthy choices.

I don't mind someone coming to counseling out of guilt (DO). And I understand the tendency to think through the pros/cons of choices they're making (GET). But the most secure decision, the one that leads to intimacy and trust, should eventually be anchored in the better motive to BE the person who lives & loves in a certain way.

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TimT - so how do I go about discussing this info with WH? Do I encourage him to read your post (he probably will - he's been doing many things I ask. But I have to ask...he's not an initiator. He at least tells himself he will do what I ask, or that he intends to do what I ask...) Or is this something that he really needs to figure out on his own and it will take time?

We both go to IT and we go to CT every week. I am not sure how much WH is getting out of IT...both I don't have much confidence in his therapist to guide him (doesn't specialize in infidelity) AND my WH is not very open with what goes on in his sessions. 

Should I try to help him "get there" or should I really just back off completely and just focus on myself?

I know I ask him these kinds of questions (What caused you to have an affair/to make that decision? Why do you want to work on our marriage?) and he tells me his therapist asks him these kinds of questions but his answer is always "I don't know." It's been two months of "I don't know" - does he just need more time? He says it's like a crowded room in his brain - a room full of a thousand people all shouting at once - and he just can't hear anything clearly. 
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SuzieQ - that sounds just like my WH during his 14-year affair.  He was in the affair fog for so long.  Now that confession has happened, all affairs have ended, and he wants to work on this farce of a marriage, the fog has finally lifted.  So many questions I ask him the answer is "I don't know."  Yes, it does take time to work through this on both sides.  We like to use the phrase, "I feel like I am in a blender."  That explains the brain hooked on porn and sexual addiction.  Things just swim around until they come to a head.  We are just getting to the head of things and it has been 23 months.  I pray your "head" comes faster than ours.  It is so frustrating.
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This was a really helpful explanation. I have to say I immediately saw in myself (a BS) at the beginning the DO person. My gut instinct on dday was anger and nope I'm done kick him out. But I felt like a failure to everyone else if I didn't try. So that immediately gave way to desperation
And I MUST fix this. My kids my family his him everyone else-I didn't want to fail. So I tried and tried and tried and of course it didn't work because he wasn't willing and he wasn't in any healthy frame of mind (neither was I) I went against my gut & didn't trust myself and I look back now and think wow wth we're you thinking! Why did you even want to try to fix that when he wasn't doing anything! It was expectations. My first 24 hours after dday we're filled entirely with you have to stay and save your marriage advice everywhere I turned. I wish I would have immediately located a sitter and went away for a few days alone to just sort out my own head & escape the drama.

When i finally had enough and was trying to focus on me it was so hard to beat off everyone's opinions that I needed to keep trying, help him etc. Especially for betrayed women- we tend to get a lot of all men cheat, they just can't help themselves, the wife has to handle the marriage issues blah blah advice. Which is wrong and doesn't help a woman's sense of self or self worth.

It was hard to stand up and say you know what it's not what I want anymore and what's best for me and my kids, regardless of what expectations we're on me. Even wS expected I should twist and change my beliefs etc to accommodate his selfishness. I think that happens to a lot if BS. We feel immense pressure to DO what's "considered "best" & when the WS isn't doing their part many times others want to put pressure on us to take up the slack and just settle. I think too dday usually comes as such a shock we're almost in a state of just do anything to keep what we know from Changing, not fully realizing then it's already changed drastically beyond our control.
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SuzieQ wrote:
So how do I go about discussing this info with WH?...Should I try to help him "get there" or should I really just back off completely and just focus on myself? I know I ask him these kinds of questions (What caused you to have an affair/to make that decision? Why do you want to work on our marriage?) and he tells me his therapist asks him these kinds of questions but his answer is always "I don't know." It's been two months of "I don't know" - does he just need more time? He says it's like a crowded room in his brain - a room full of a thousand people all shouting at once - and he just can't hear anything clearly. 

Yes, I think too many voices (everyone has an opinion or a favorite approach) can be overwhelming. While wisdom can be found in a variety of counsel, it's probably easiest to zero in on the person with whom he has the most comfort and confidence.

Interestingly, the person who is probably least likely to move the wayward husband to a vulnerable consideration of "BE" (at least at the beginning of the healing process) is the injured spouse if the effort is made out of insistence. Defensiveness will kick in and there will likely be no interest in vulnerable considerations.

However, if a spouse is honest about the pain... honest about a prefered future... honest about the need for change... and then invites the wayward spouse to the change necessary to address all those things, then it can be a powerful force, especially when combined with the message, "I'm willing to move toward forgiveness; I'm willing to try to fix this with you."

But I'll be honest: change is a hard process. None of us really enjoys looking at our stuff. And a person (man or woman) is not likely to change unless the pain of NOT becoming a changed person is greater than the pain required to become him/her. 

This is why I see affairs as a possible catalyst for real change. If the person who had the affair is not beat down into shame and obligation (DO) or enticed with unrealistic promises or expectations of the future (GET), they can maybe for the first time in their life begin to look honestly at themselves and risk considering whether they can BE a man/woman who loves better than they have before. 

Some people balk at this. In their opinion, it's enough to just admit the failure and get back to where they were before. And, to be honest, marriages survive through that strategy. But they don't change. Affairs alter the relationship so significantly that things can never be the same afterwards. If no real shifts happen, then you may keep a marriage intact, but you will likely always struggle with a lack of intimacy and trust.
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TimT wrote:
they can maybe for the first time in their life begin to look honestly at themselves and risk considering whether they can BE a man/woman who loves better than they have before. 

Some people balk at this. In their opinion, it's enough to just admit the failure and get back to where they were before. And, to be honest, marriages survive through that strategy. But they don't change. Affairs alter the relationship so significantly that things can never be the same afterwards. If no real shifts happen, then you may keep a marriage intact, but you will likely always struggle with a lack of intimacy and trust.

^^ hear hear!

If faced with the answer, "I don't know," would the next question be, "how can you say you'll never do it again if you don't know why you did it in the first place?"

Sorry, I'm about to ramble here, but it's a collections of my thoughts here from my experiences in the last year...

In my case, it wasn't the fear of losing everything or anything like that, it was finally realizing that I became all the things in life that I abhor. Like a liar, cheater, passive aggressive person. I couldn't reconcile that and finally began to understand that the failings I had in life (that I subsequently blamed on everyone else) where through my own fault.

Knowing who I wanted to be, and why, was what brought me from this situation. I simply didn't want to be a liar and a cheat. I guess that's why I tried so hard to make my AP into my wife - so in some stupid way I could say that this situation was okay. The only wrench to that is that my AP didn't want to be that person.

TimT, I think that this also goes by a case where you are just treading water... Trying to stay afloat in all of this. What do you think?

In my case I didn't want help from my spouse to realize that what I was doing was not in my character or what I wanted. Why? Then it would be her in the right. I know that sounds stupid today, but don't forget that we had got to the place in our marriage where at least one of us was keeping score. To admit that I messed up largely would have been a major loss of dace and ego, even if my wife was right.

Ironically, I wasn't (and can't say) that I was really happy last year at this time. I was miserable. My AP started putting on the pressure, and this is where things started falling apart for me. The only thing I had going for that relationship was an infrequent supply of sex.

If I were to be completely honest, if I could have just waved a wand and had it all disappear, and be back with my wife, I would have jumped at the chance. But, I don't know if I would have TH ought it possible because again, keeping score. She would have been right, and on something so big that I felt I would never, never live it down.

In fact, last year at this time you would have found me swearing up and down that I would never ever return because in my mind I didn't think it wouldve been possible. I didn't think I would be able to admit I was wrong and grovel my way back..

I guess why before.. when I saw some BS here talking about how the WS should beg and plead for the privilege of being allowed a chance at all - I could see the flaw in that, because in my case that would have been the world's worst case scenario... And one that I would have never took.

What needs to happen is your WS just needs to stop lying. Period. Not even to you, to themselves. Yes, I think we men are capable of compartmentalizing, but nothing can escape logic. Sometimes I wish I could have gone back and slapped myself silly. Problem is, would I have listened to myself?
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Not having a field day with this because it just makes me sad and sick to my stomach as to how callus you seem and the feelings I have are so real I get yours are too , but I don't really know how many more ways you can ask they same question You have been asking for day.
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Cfd I am new to forum, also a husband and a BS. Our marriage was not a good one but I suspected my wife having an affair almost to the day she admitted "it started". So if you were in an A for 2 years, I'm almost positive your husband knows already ( as you suspect he does).
My advice is if you are going stay married tell him so you can start the healing process together. If you are going to leave the marriage,  don't tell him but leave now. Don't wait it's not fair to anyone.
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Cfd, the risk is that if you don't confess, it will leak out anyway. Who would you prefer him to hear it from?
You're married, surely you owe it to him. As somebody who tried to hide it - realised I'd done the wrong thing - I can tell you that when it leaks, it is far worse. Nobody deserves to be told by a stranger.
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Cfd, I hear you even though I am a BS too.  In your position I guess I would be thinking about protecting my betrayed spouse from all the pain and anxiety too, although maybe part of this is that you don't want him to view you as someone totally different from who he thought you were.  Like the others, I'm reckoning he already knows or suspects something, because while the affair was going on it was probably actions rather than words that betrayed you.  He maybe doesn't speak of it because he doesn't want it to turn into reality.
You may think you feel very little in the way of guilt etc now, but in years to come you may think completely differently. Then, it may be to late to ask his forgiveness, even if you are not together.  Then the only option you have is to live with it.  
Have you though about just broaching the subject about how he feels about your marriage and where you are going with it and just go with whatever comes out?  If he knows, he may even bring it up himself. If he says nothing you will just have to do what you feel is right. I personally feel that even if you do go down the road of just wanting out of your marriage because you are not happy, this may cause more angst and problems than you imagine, and a lot of hidden things end up coming out in the wash, so to speak.  No-one can truly guide you with that choice though as there seems to be so many differing opinions.
Sorry if I've confused you even more, my head is in a spin all of it's own right now! 
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Cfd wrote:
But I also don't see a future with my H. The thought depresses me.

Cdf, the above quote jumped out at me. Why does that thought depress you? You seem to be sure you don't want to be married any more, but that makes me wonder how sure you are? 

Also for me personally if my husband decided he wanted a divorce I would want to know the reason why?
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Well put shayla you d be depressed cfd your words maybe it's time for you to search deep inside and see the trees inspire of ghe forest around you were just being truthful with you if you want out then why be depressed ?
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I've wrote, erased, rewrote, erased again,all responses I had to this.

But, let's break that down.

In other words, you haven't loved your husband in a Long time. You could have tried to work it out, tried to counsel, and ultimately could have come to that conclusion that it wasn't working out. Then you could have been honest, and respectful to your spouse and pull the plug.

Instead, you lied. You're a liar. So is that "wonderful" man you have up on that pedestal. Yeah, the one that taught you to "love" while he too lied to you, and his spouse. So, you are both liars.

Better still, you justify not coming clean because it will hurt your spouse and all your guy friends tell you its okay, and under no circumstances tell him, because it will crush him. Wow. So, now you're a saint, right? You've saved him from pain by obfuscation, lies, trickery, gaslighting. Better yet, you stay in the relationship because you don't want to admit that you are over, but you continue to lead your husband on that you even have a relationship.

Now you're caught. You're in your lie.

Look, I'm not gonna say whatever you do is right or wrong. You have your reasons. Just, please, don't try to sell me on your bull, because it won't fly.

At least, be honest with yourself.
I see you've justified your affair. You have many reasons, not the least of which is your needs. There is almost no argument as to why you should come clean, work towards improving your marriage.

All except for one little thing.

I don't see any empathy. None.

Empathy in affair recovery NEEDS to come from both sides. The BS needs to get a place where they can see where the WS came from, and VICE VERSA.

I don't see that in your posts.

Honestly, who gives a flying f%&K what "your male friends" say? Honestly. If you think you are protecting your spouse, think again. Sorry, but you can't bullsh*t a bullsh*tter as they say.

Let me ask you this. If the situation was reversed, of this were done to you, can you honestly say that you would respect where your spouse was coming from?

I'm a WS myself. I was in the same thinking boat as you. I justified, sold to myself the same story.

But let's be brutal for a minute. Like, real, raw, honest.

Bottom line is this. IF what you are saying is true... If you truly didn't love your BS, if you felt NO guilt whatsoever, then why hold out on telling him? You have no guilt, remember? What's the big deal then?

You're saving him? Please. Cut the crap. You're saving yourself. You can try to explain it away, but any WS here will know the truth.

The point I'm trying to make here is, why are you here CFD?

I'm not trying to attack, or be mean. Honestly, I'm just calling out the bull as I see it.

I honestly think, deep down, you know you are full of it. But, it's really hard to admit it. You can justify what you did really nicely with words.

It's just not something we're willing to buy.
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CFD...I would like to second Kal. 

To me it sounds like you do not want to look like the bad guy, but honestly, you are and you have been. 

I'm a BS, and I wish more than anything that my WS would have been the one to tell me about his A..not me receiving a note taped to the door of our home.

I already suspected he was cheating...and I had already questioned him, which he denied, denied, denied.  Heck he even denied it after the note on the door.  But after some time he did finally admit it.

You have asked this same question in several different areas.  I believe you want someone to tell you its ok dont tell him.  Its better not to know.  

And no I will not be doing that.  I believe in honesty and truthfulness. I believe that your H has the right to know why you want out of your marriage. He will ask or he will always wonder.  

Not to be harsh, but to me it sounds like you need to take the blinders off and really read what you have been saying and take a look at yourself and the reasonings why you think you shouldn't tell.  For the most part, they all revolve around you.  

Like many have said your H probably already suspects.  So why not get it out in the open that why you can discuss it.  You will feel a sense of relief once it comes it.  That is what my WS has told me after the fact.  It will help you to work on you and better yourself and to help you become the person you want to be...that is if you want to be a honest, trustworthy person, but if you want to continuing living your life as a person who lies...then do not tell him. Continue down that path.  The choice is ultimately yours.  No one can tell you what to do.  Its your choice.  You are the one that made the choice to have the A.  You are the one that choose to keep it a secret and continue the A.  So it is your choice rather you come clean or not with your spouse.  Sorry if this is a bit harsh, but to me it seems you really do not want to take responsibility for your actions rather than brush them aside and act like everything will be perfectly fine if it never comes out...which from my opinion and my experience...is a lie! 

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im so glad you have your own therapist, i would think than you would stop asking the same question.  best of luck to you and most of all to your BS spouse
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