Who is more responsible for the affair: you or your spouse?
I know that I should say me. I know that now, yes, I am the one directly responsible. This is after much soul searching.
Let me. Unpack a truth bomb for you out there. If I hadn't have made it my wife's fault, I don't think I could ever have gone through with the affair. Allow me to explain.
I was number one in my wife's life, that is until my son came along. Then I got to meet the number one thing when it came to me in my wife's eyes. The resentment. Resentment because I "got to go" to work while she stayed home with my son. Resentment because I had to leave her in the hospital on the third day because I could not refuse to go to work three days in a row or I could lose my job.
Resentment for working so much, as my field is a low paying field, and to get big money you need to be on the top, which mean you work a lot. So, catch 22...work a lot don't get to see family... And pay for it in Resentment.
So, I am also a "nice guy" and I need validation. I start losing it from my wife, so I dig deeper into work. Which then fuels the Resentment.
As a result, I'm sleeping on the couch 9 times out of 10,and I'm not getting any affection from my wife. In fact, she may not even show any respect for me as a person or a man. Like, when it comes to parenting, she would overrule me. In front of family, or even my son.
These are small things, but they add up. I of course, can't confront her and let my feelings be known because I might lose her.
Then even better... I get sick. And my wife one time left me on the couch with full blown pneumonia... To take a trip with the rest of the family, pissed off because I "ruined the weekend" for her.
I'm not using this as an excuse now... But believe me... I was in a bad place and my wife basically took me for granted. She never, ever, ever, in a million years, thought that I woukd ever leave. She thought it would be her that left.
This is what I mean above.
Here's the thing, it brought me to this place... The blame. But I also made the choice to do what I did, but at the time I had convinced myself that I deserved to be happy. I deserved to have that happiness, so I thought I'd find it in a marginally hot 22 year old.
R - I'd say it was BOTH of our fault. To place blame on one partner is putting your head in the sand. Like it or not, you BOTH have a role to play in this affair. Sure, my wife didn't choose for me, but like I said in other posts... You starve and beat a dog, deprive it of water... Why are you shocked that he would bite the burger out of your hand?
What does your spouse do to make you aware of their pain?
I pick up on body language, and I ask the questions. But, she will now calmly tell me, or it will come out in a fight that I know is not really what we are fighting about.
When confronted with their pain, what do you do (retreat from it, get angry, try to understand, attempt to comfort, etc.)?
I try to understand. In the past I "fixed" the pain. I took it on myself. But, that didn't work.
Now I listen. I understand. I ask what I can do.
What helps you or hinders you from being able to open to empathizing with your spouse's pain?
Judgement. I get it. I did wrong. I hurt my wife.
What will a pile of judgement do for that? If you think for one second that my wife has judged me more harshly than I have to myself? Not even close.
What helped me immensely was my wife trying to understand me and what I was going through. I know I've read some BS on here talking about how that shouldn't be their problem, or that boo hoo..
Well, if it works for you great.
In my case... while it hurts the other of us to examine this stuff, in the end I believe it helps to understand where and how we got to here.
Bottom line is this... I do not have any desire to go back to the way things were before... That led me to cheating.
Yes, some. May chalk me up to being dishonest, a liar, a cheat, scumbag. Hey. Label me. I'm cool with it.
I do know that I am making the effort to find myself.
You know the number one thing that attracted me back to my wife? Listen up to you BS out there, this may be relevant, or it may not be.
My wife can get along without me. She proved it. She showed me beyond a shadow of a doubt that she could be independent of me, and that she didn't really need me in the end.
She looked inside herself and made the necessary changes. She took a HARD look at her actions and how they contributed. She got professional help to change herself FOR HERSELF, not to "win" me back.
What that showed me was she WANTED to be with me. She was willing to meet me HALFWAY and we can get this done.
See, in the end, I don't agree with some of the material up in this forum. I don't agree with the subservient "I gotta do this for you" plan.
I am a reforming "nice guy" who for YEARS went through covert contracts and did all sorts of stuff for my wife because... I thought that everything would then work out. Well, it didn't.
So, in this case, we BOTH identified that there was something broken on the marriage and yes, I did sleep with someone else. But that doesn't change nor hide that fact, just obscures it.
Instead of the "I'll do anything to get back" plan, (which in all honesty will drive away any NG because they gave years of covert contracts) what I had to do was start to get real with WHO I am, define my boundaries, and stick to them.
My wife did the same. We are meeting each other half way. Marriage counselling, talking, dating, and taking a chance.