Are You Safe Enough for Your Marriage? Part 2: Denial

Samuel continues his discussion on how to create safety in recovery and address denial.

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Thanks, Samuel. Another

Thanks, Samuel. Another great blog. Your are always filled with sincerity, understanding, empathy, and compassion. I really appreciate everything you do.

I’m pretty sure my wife is the poster child for denial because we have been pretending normal for so long and no matter what I do there is never any momentum in recovery. If she were to watch this video I suspect she would say she’s not in denial because she has said the affair was her fault and she “owns” it. The problem is those are just words. She has “done” very little to take responsibility or make any kind of amends. If a conversation about her infidelity or our relationship goes on long enough it inevitably winds up with some form of blame shifting on her part. I feel that this is one of the major roadblocks preventing our reconnection and reconciliation. As a BS with your life and your family hanging in the balance, it’s extremely frustrating to be so sure that you’re the one who sees things clearly, but be gaslighted to the point where you question if you’re actually the one in denial.

As a BS, how can I be sure that I’m not the one in denial?

What are some other halllmarks of denial that could be recognized by an unfaithful who is in denial and, by definition, cannot see the truth that everyone else sees?

best suggestion is to get expert help...

jmh78, getting the best help possible, ie ems weekend ems online etc, will help vet out any areas of denial and or blind spots.  if you're getting expert help from someone who has been through it before and has treated more than just 'a few' cases, they will help you be able to find out where the blindness is and where the denial is. you won't be able to figure things out on your own my friend, especially when dealing with denial.  it's where the quality of help becomes so vital.

here are a few links and resources:

Thank you for the response.

Thank you for the response. I’ll add that we’ve been through EMSO (now about 8 months removed from finishing it and, at her insistence, that was the end of any formal couples work), I’ve been through HH, I see a good therapist semi-regularly. Everything I’ve learned from AR and others, my therapist’s speculation, and my own intuition tell me that my wife is in denial about something (probably many things) related to her affair, our relationship, our history, and/or the prospects of our future together.

Because she will not agree to additional recovery work at this time, I’m left to my own devices to try to discern if things will eventually get better. Occasionally, her ambivalence is convincing enough that I think maybe I’m delusional in thinking that things will eventually get better and that she is . I don’t want to live like this forever, but I also do not want to pull the plug on my marriage and break apart my family if there is still a chance for full reconciliation.

Are there other ways denial might present itself? Things that I can be aware of to help guide my decision making in lieu of directly working with an expert?

Accepting responsibility while hoping for change

I am the Unfaithful...I have accepted responsibility for what I did, am seeing a therapist, reading books, joining a support group, etc. We are about seven months removed from D-Day. I still struggle with feelings for my AP. Meanwhile, my wife, who is still hurting of course, asks what she can do. There are things I want her to improve upon, such as her health/weight, but I don't feel like I can make any suggestions/requests. How can I? I'm the bastard that cheated on her. So what should I say to her? Lie? Keep it to myself? I don't want to come across like I'm pointing a finger at her, but I clearly wasn't satisfied with the marriage, and then chose to seek out that satisfaction outside of the marriage, which was my fault. There are areas she needs to improve in whether we stay together or just doesn't seem like my place to point them out.

It seems like a lot of what I read and see around this is that the Unfaithful just needs to be grateful their spouse still wants to be with them, and focus on fixing their own problems. The Betrayed seems to bear little responsibility in improving themselves, since the problem was clearly with the Unfaithful. Is that accurate? I know I sound like a jerk here, but I don't know how else to ask this. Thank you for all the videos...they are so helpful.

tough call i know...

so it's a tough question.....and it's tough to ask so i'm glad you did.  if you stuff down your true answers, your only perpetuating the problem and dysfunction.  i would see someone who is an expert who can help you both mediate conversations so that you can share your heart, frustrations, concerns etc in a way that doesn't seem like you're blaming her for your affair.  but, that you do have concerns and needs and would like to talk them through . what i did that seemed to work well was say 'rick, help me with this.  is this valid, or is this a crock of crap? like, this is a concern for me....can you speak to it and either validate it so samantha and i can talk about it, or help me see that it's just not something to talk about right now or something that's just really not true.'  he would do just that.  so having a third party mediator whose trained and an expert will help you have those conversations in a controlled, objective way. the betrayed bears no responsibility for your cheating.  they do bear responsibility for their part in the marriage, as do you.  their problems didn't cause you to cheat, as you cheated on your own accord.  but, the goal of recovery is not recapturing, but rebuilding and so you're not trying to get what you had.  you're looking for the new marriage that is there for you both, should you choose to pursue restoration and i be she doesn't want the old you and i bet you don't want the old new.  so finding and building the new you is key.  it's normal to ask these things.  i'm glad you did.  don't stuff them down or else it will blow up in your face and hugely increase your chance at relapse.  

Makes sense

Thanks, Samuel. My wife was going with me to see the therapist but stopped going when I wasn't getting over my AP fast enough for her taste. It's been a couple of months, so she might be willing to go back. In the meantime, I'll run my concerns by my therapist in my own session to validate or invalidate them. I appreciate the feedback!

Great Point

I am the Unfaithful, too. I have accepted responsibility for what I've done. There is no excuse, no justification. It's been 9 months since the D-Day (after lying about the entire truth for 9 months prior.) I know he's still hurting immensely and I want to help him. When I do things for him he accuses me of doing it because I feel so guilty and it only makes him mad. I do things for him because I WANT to and because I should've been doing those things BEFORE the affair. But I've quit doing extra things for him now. I feel like, as the Unfaithful, I have to sit back and shut up. I have to accept all of his insults and jabs because I did what I did. He hasn't made many (if any) attempts to fix anything that he needs to fix... and has even said he will never get over it, never forgive, never accept. We lived like roommates before the affair and it is pretty much like that still. So why do I want to stay married? I think I'm in love with a fantasy of what my marriage could be... and it will never be that if he won't commit. He refuses to go to counseling or read anything. I'm almost ready to quit.

Thanks Samuel for all the

Thanks Samuel for all the videos and helpful stuff you share. It has been so helpful in my healing
I am liking this series. I am the BS. We are 2.5 years from d day. We have done a lot of recovery, emso, ems weekend, HH me and h4h him and continue to lead calls. I became suspicious 9 months ago that he was hiding something, lying. Finally a couple things came out, not infidelity related. He has only admitted enough when he is caught. Finally in Feb when I went to talk to him about it he said he didn't feel safe with me to talk about it. I felt shut out. He has blamed me, avoided and accused me of not being perfect myself and judging him. He now says yes, I did blank, yes I lied. Problem is I think he's still hiding something, maybe not infidelity. Just a week ago he said he didn't feel safe with me because I judged him while doing the same. When confronted in counseling he agreed that was not true, that one as not doing same. I feel back at the place of not trusting at all. I question, check up, wonder what he's doing. So much of his behavior and talking in circles seems suspicious, just like during the affair and after before d day, it took 9 months and a polygraph to get the truth. I even followed him 1 time. I feel crazy again. He says he's admitted and apologized, can we just move forward. I keep asking myself is it me? Am I being over sensitive or is he gaslighting, denying, deflecting? All the stuff someone thats hiding something does. I truly don't know. Our conversations are confusing and seem to get way off track. I am so confused and not sure.

i'm sorry for the confusion...

lizzy, i'm so sorry.  i know it hurts and all the alarms go off in your head and heart at his behavior.  the feeling is, that he's maybe relapsed i know it scares you big time.  that may or may not be true.  he may have relapsed with something very minimal as well, or he just may have lied and now he has no idea on how to come clean and get out of it.  it's a tough call for sure.   are you seeing anyone consistently?  i know you mention the therapist but how often are you seeing them and what recovery work are you doing right now?   even something like seeing a therapist and then reading a book together and going through it may help.  perhaps it's nothing and right now, it's just about reconnecting and getting on the same page again?  

What type of affair was it?

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-D, Texas