Q&A What Is Hindering My Mate from Showing Empathy?

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We are 4 months past discovery and my husband is making great strides to show me how much he loves me, to tell me how much he loves me and to shower me with affection. I don't want to focus on the negative - progress not perfection, right? But this week he could not do the empathy letter assignment. He said he tried but just couldn't do it. I find this odd as the events leading up to his emotional affair and inappropriate friendships with other women were spurred from my own confession of financial infidelity and credit card spending he didn't know about. He took my confession extremely hard and spiraled into what culminated to an affair with another woman. I wonder if he still has underlying resentment toward me, shame, or simply not wanting to face his own demons. He has repeatedly said that his affair was not a big deal because he didn't sleep with her. He says he accepts that I was hurt but that it wasn't the same as a physical affair and shouldn't produce the same hurt. I am more disappointed than I thought I would be at his inability to write the letter. What is causing him to not be able to do it? Why could he not do the exercise and display empathy? Does he still just not get it?



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Follow-up of question

We did discuss his inability to write the empathy and hurt letters. He admitted that he simply doesn't want to focus on the past and just wants to move on. He lashed out at me recently with minimizing words to defend and justify the affair.
This tells me that he's still trying to defend, justify, minimize which indicates that he's not willing to face the reality of his choices... That there's probably still some shame attached.
He doesn't understand why this makes me want to pull away. He says he misses me and wants to be intimate with me again. I can't help but feel that he's still not safe. He's adamant that he is safe because he's choosing to be.
What am I supposed to do?
I don't want to punish him - that's not my heart or intent. But it seems like he just wants me to give him a pass and I just cannot do that. I feel I have to protect my heart

more damage is done with emotional affairs

I'm so sorry for your pain. Your question struck a chord with me and I wanted to share an excerpt from "Out of the Doghouse" by Dr. Weiss: "...more damage is done to your primary relationship through an emotional affair than a purely sexual affair, because the more deeply you connect with the other woman, the more you move away from your mate, both emotionally and physically, no matter how much you may deny this... Over time you find yourself turning to the other woman to work through your fears, asking her to meet your needs and help you resolve your confusing moments. As you continually turn to her instead of your spouse for emotional intimacy, that connection feels increasingly meaningful, more so than your marriage at times."
You have every right to ask for what you need to feel safe. And I do hope your husband will come around to doing whatever is necessary to help you feel safe.

Now what?

He did finally do the empathy letter and the hurt letter. It really meant a lot to me. However, since his recent minimizing comments, I feel like the reset button has been pushed despite my efforts to not let it set me back.
Now, I'm confused because while I'm grateful he confronted himself and did the work, they didn't have the "magical" impact I expected them to. I still feel like I want to pull away and I'm just hurt all over again. We had another conversation about what happened and details were shared that had previously been downplayed. While I knew the details and the whole truth about the situation, hearing him openly admit them helped in the sense that he was finally being honest with me and himself but it also opened up the wound. I don't know what to do. I want to be close with him but I just feel hurt all over again.
How do I move past this and start moving closer to my husband again?
It just feels impossible at times.

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