Craving Applause

Part of the “why” of my affair (see earlier blog post) was craving the applause of others. I was surrounded by a crowd of people, most of whom adored me and thought I was the greatest thing since sliced bread. You could say I was addicted to the applause of the congregation and people around me, as well as my affair partner.

At home however, I felt like a 4th kid. Samantha has come to grips with this treatment so this post isn’t about how she failed to do her duty.

It’s more about how we as men, and as women as well, crave applause. I was celebrated everywhere I went. I had worked hard to earn the admonition and the celebration of a sea of people.

The problem was, it was seductive. I had won their devotion, their applause and their affirmation. I was loved and I had worked hard to win that celebratory affection. I had also worked hard at home to win Samantha’s devotion. Though I was a selfish and self-absorbed wrecking ball, I was a wonderful father who worked incredibly hard to love my kids and care for them and provide for them.

The truth, though, was somewhere in the middle. I had worked hard to earn Samantha’s devotion, but when I felt rejected or un-affirmed, I would easily quit. When it came to other situations in life or church leadership I would probably press in to the situation and see how I could truly care and love the person who was disconnected or resistant to being cared for. With Samantha, I eventually came to a point that I often times came to with people which was, OK I’ve tried time and time again, now I’m pulling back, “I’m done. “

There is a huge difference between pulling back and having an affair.

However, I cannot underscore enough the desire of every spouse to feel applauded for their efforts and their hard work on themselves, the marriage and the family. Though they may have blown their lives up and your lives up, I bet you at some level they crave your applause.  They may deny it. They may marginalize it or trivialize it, but one of the most enticing things about an affair partner is the way(s) they make us feel about ourselves. It’s enticing, it’s riveting, and it’s engulfing. It’s also part of what marriage is supposed to entail, but so desperately comes short to time and time again. Sure, some would say it’s never ending and I get that, but it’s not that simple to just marginalize the need to applaud your spouse, even post affair when recovery methods are in place.

It wasn’t long before I finally realized if I had praised Samantha more and not talked so much about her disapproval, we would have enjoyed more life together.  

Now, before you send an email saying that your lying, cheating, good for nothing spouse got all the applause they needed, or that they don’t deserve any applause now, I get it. Don’t hit send. What I’d like to suggest is, is there a way you can be more applauding of your spouse, and does the current state of your recovery call for more applause?

I guarantee it will HELP prevent relapse and I guarantee it will help he or she to reciprocate with you as well. We are still working hard to implement this in our marriage, at 18 years married and 8 years post affair.

I hope it helps you and gives you some insight into another chapter in the unfolding process of recovery for you that are 8 days in, or 8 years plus in. 

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Oh Samuel, I wish you could talk to my husband.

We are desperately trying to recover from him blowing up our life. Or at least I am the one that feels desperate. I don't know how much longer we can keep going like this. He needs so much affirmation and I cannot give it to him right now when I absolutely abhor what he has done with his E&PAP. He was the last man I ever expected to do this and I can't believe how much he has blamed me for this affair. I wasn't appreciative or grateful enough,But neither was he!!! HE NEEDED SO MUCH APPLAUSE FROM ME. He got plenty of it at work, but I really didn't being a SAHM. Now he expects me to treat him as if none of this ever happened. After he was with her for 7 months and only just started waking up about 6 months ago from this fantasy phase, I still don't feel like we have made much progress. We were separated for 4 months and he has been back home for nearly 5 months. He has ended it with the AP as of January, officially last month since he met her through work, she was a vendor. He has given me transparency and I am trying not to direct so much anger towards him. Sometimes I find it impossible to even look at him or want to engage or try to work at it. I hate what he became and I hate the angry hurt person I've become. I don't know how to applaud his behavior right now when I know that's exactly what he probably needs. I feel so insincere and inauthentic. I hate him right now and want him to be truly remorseful. I wonder why we stay in it sometimes when it seems so unnatural and so hard.
I wonder if I can ever really move forward in a healthy way with him.
I'm in HH, but he has nothing, no accountability group or mentor, he may not even read anything that I send him from your website. He's navigating in the dark even though we do have a counselor, but It needs to happen daily not once a week.

perhaps....

ACEmom, perhaps now is not the time for applause, but tough love? applause alone won't bring healing, conviction or empathy towards you. dont get me wrong, applause in the right timing is excellent and much needed, but from what you're describing, i'd say applause is not what is the missing ingredient. maybe tough love, and some outside help that's an expert. i only found empathy and i only found true grief for what I had done to Samantha, by getting help from an expert. not books, not pastors, not friends, not even counselors, until we found Rick and he was the impetus which helped me find humility. also the emsweekend helped create a safe place for Samantha and i to have discussions which promoted honesty, openness and a climate which would start to rebuild trust over time. it sounds like there is not much you can applaud right now, and maybe you shouldn't. maybe you need to push the issue to get help from the right expert and then get into a systematic approach. hh is awesome, but what about for him, what about for you as a couple? how can i help?
thanks for posting and if no one has said it yet, though corny, I applaud you for being willing to try. i applaud you for willingness to get help and at the very least, attempt to rebuild.

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