How to Avoid Disconnection after an Affair

Samuel discusses how to build bridges with both unfaithful and betrayed spouses.

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Bridge building

This is spot on for where we are , 2 plus years from d day. But, despite my taking ownership, getting over defensiveness, doing the work you outline, the bridges don't seem to hold. We really haven't had any talks since COVID hit because if things escalated, neither of us had an option of leaving, separating, etc. During this time, we've been cordial, but I've absolutely lost any motivation to attempt another bridge building effort. How do I get it back? That's assuming that I want it back.
Signed ,
Dazed and Confused(good Austin reference)

Hi Samuel

Hi Samuel
How can we build a bridge if there is no empathy, remorse, or accountability? I recognize that I have poor boundaries and have been working with a therapist on that and that because of my poor boundary skills I have enabled my husband to remain status quo. For me I no longer have any questions. All questions have been answered with "I don't know." "I never learned empathy." "I learned to suck up and put up." "No one ever showed me any empathy. If I got physically hurt I just had to deal with it. No one ever believed be." "I can see someone is in pain but I can't feel it especially if I'm the one who caused the pain." I have shown empathy for all that happened to him as a child and have cried with him and for him. He asks me "How can I show you comfort or empathy if I did this to you?" He has also physically disconnected from me. In the past 4 years we have had sexual intimacy maybe 10 times. His affair was with his former fiancé and it was both physical and emotional. The relationship had ended prior to us getting together but she continued to contact him to ty and work things out. He continued this for the 1st 10 mos of our relationship (I had stopped all contact with him for around 1.5 mos before he finally or so I thought cut all communication with her) We got back together and 2 mrs later she contacted him again. It wasn't until last yr that she contacted him again and he told her we got married. It's only been 1 yr since that last contact and 4 yrs of no expression of remorse or empathy just a total shut down, blame towards me because of my anger and complete disconnect emotionally and physically. Our marriage therapist says it looks like he has suffered from CEN (Childhood Emotional Neglect) she has recommended we read 3 books Running on Empty, Running on Empty No More and Hold Me Tight; plus individual therapy plus the ESMO which we will begin on July 20th, 2020. This has eased my anger somewhat but now I'm totally freaked out because if he says he "can see the pain but can't feel it" how in the world can we have a relationship? Both my parents passed away this year within 3 mos of each other----I got nothing except "I'm sorry." There was no visual/physical expression of empathy. I've only seen him cry 4 times and it's been tears for himself and his anger about the way he grew up. He can show anger but no other emotion...no belly laugh, so sadness only anger. He has seen me at my worst sobbing from being so disoriented by this and I get nothing. No one gets anything from him. I asked our therapist if he had narcissistic personality or sociopathic personality and she said no. I also coe from a history of childhood sexual abuse and most recently was sexually assaulted while at work so now I'm out of work and doing therapy for that as well. I believe that this last incident at work coupled with the disconnection physically and emotionally from my husband has really thrown me over the edge. I am doing all I can to stay afloat (CBT, Accelerated Resolution Therapy, a yoga teacher training course which includes mediation and mindfulness) and yet the realization that he cannot "feel the pain of others" has me again totally freaked out about what am I going to do.