Why Can My Spouse Be so Vulnerable with Their Affair Partner but Not with Me

Samuel provides framework to one of the most sensitive questions a betrayed spouse can ask their unfaithful spouse.

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Stuck

I think this has been the hardest thing to overcome. There can be no "newness" in our marriage when we've been together for the majority of our lives. It's really hard to worship the ground he walks on when he's so destroyed my heart. The OW was NO competition for me in any other avenue of life except this one. So as a betrayed ... how do we "compete" with this fantasy? How do we "compete" with a facade?

worship....

hi there.  the 'worship the ground he walks on' seems as though maybe you think that's what I'm implying?  i've also stated several times in previous vlogs that you really can't compete with a fantasy.  the way out if you will, for both of you, is going to be him receiving expert care for his own healing and insight.  he will need expert care to see why he cheated, and what led him to do what he did and it's NOT that you were a bad spouse or anything like that.  it's that something inside of him was lacking and he was able to justify what he did to himself first.  trying to compete with a fantasy will only make things worse, frustrate you and make the process even more painful.

it's about helping you heal on your own while he also does his own work.  then, as you both are doing your own work, you can start to build the new.  it will take forgiveness on your part, but it will take gut wrenching self confrontation on his part as well.  not sure where worshipping the ground he walks on will help or come in.  

 

hope that helps in some way. 

 

confused

What if the AP was his ex wife? Someone who wasn't new someone who cheated on him to the man she is still married to.It has been 1yr 8mo sense D day. He refuses to talk about it to me. She is a very miserable person so I guess misery loves company. we have been married 20yrs.This EA,has been going on 10yrs that I have proof of half my marriage!!! Wont sweep this under the rug so I havebeen working on me. Still feel so lost!

Clarity

Thank you for this video. It helps so much to understand his thinking and make sense of things he says that are still hurtful and confusing to me. It brings so much clarity that does help so much in the healing.
I understand the chemical things and fantasy land and everything that happened in his brain. Are there changes that happen in the betrayed spouses brain as well? Or is it just the process of recovery and the timeline we are in?
We are coming up on the year anniversary of D-Day
And 7 months of him being back home. I am very proud of him and for the most part I believe our recovery work is going well. Even through his affair, before I found out and even after he left home, I trusted him. I trusted him when he was lying and now that hes not and he hasn't done anything to make me think otherwise, all of the sudden I am struggling with trust. Is this normal for this timeline and why does that happen? Is it also normal to look back on all our years of marriage before the affair and feel like it wasnt real? I feel like I'm standing on the outside looking in on a life that wasnt really mine. Is that normal and will I ever be able to see our life before this the same again?
I would like to know more about the process of the mind for the betrayed to help make sense of it to me and be able to explain better what is happening in my head and heart to him. I dont always know how to explain myself and the pain to him well.
Thank you for the resources you provide.

Someone please tell me this get easier

The last couple of days have been so hard for me. We’re 9 months into recovery and it feels like we are doing really well most days... but for some reason lately I just can’t shake the thoughts and images of him with someone else. Not just the sex, but the whole relationship. And weirdly enough, the one that’s more on my mind is an emotional affair from years ago, not the physical affair from just last year. He won’t tell me anything about it, so I went looking. Now I know things I wish I didn’t know.

I don’t understand why it takes an act of Congress to get him to share anything at all with me, and yet he was sending hundreds of texts, talking for hours on the phone, and telling each these 2 women that he loved them every day for months. I get the Why of it. But how do I get over it? How can I NOT compare the way he is with me to the way he was with them? He says he wants our marriage to work and that he truly loves me. But he doesn’t show it like he did with them. And that kills me.

He sent one of them flowers. To her work. In a whole other state. I don’t think he’s ever given me flowers in the 28 years we’ve been together. How am I supposed to believe that he wants to be with me, when I’m apparently not worth the effort it takes to buy flowers. Or text all day long. Or to even just open up to. How do I get over reading a message of him telling her “I want you to feel loved”... when I feel like a consultation prize?

This is the only site I’ve seen that says over and over again that it’s possible to get through betrayal and have a stronger marriage. So please. Tell me this gets easier.

it does get easier.....

there are several layers to what you're expressing.  we behave differently with our affair partners as it's an illusion, a mirage, and we're caught in this infatuatory malaise of just wanting to spoil them and gush over them as we think, they are the answer to all our problems.  it's not real.  it's a fantasy and we find ourselves doing things as it's fresh, new, and simply a chemical overload of dopamine and we're acting out in that fantasy.  it does get better, and you can heal, but what are you doing to heal?  what is he doing?  what work are you both involved in?  it takes effort, discipline and humility my friend.  what work is being done between you two?

 

Thank you for your quick response

Wow. I didn’t expect a response. It was more a rhetorical rant after a really painful couple of days. We’re working through the bootcamp now. Actually I worked through it months ago and he’s just now started it, but we finally went through the first day together and it was really good. We’re seeing a counselor that we both like and we’ve had some really good conversations over the last few months. I’d say 75% of the time things are better than they have been in years.

But I’ve seen messages he sent and I know that he was 1000% more open with both of them than he has been with me for years. When we talk about this affairs, he’ll only share exactly as much as he thinks I already know. He’ll “omit” the rest, evade the difficult questions, and deflect as much as possible. Then he say something like “Well you know it’s always been hard for me to share my feelings.” (Really?!? Because you shared the heck out of them with HER!)

Sorry. Still a little residual anger there. Honestly there’s been progress and there’s a lot of love between us. I’m just so exhausted with the 2-steps-forward-1-step-back dance.

I get the whole “new, exciting, fun” thing. But seriously, Samuel. Why am I... his wife, the woman he SWEARS that he has ALWAYS loved... not worth the same effort he put into that fantasy life? I get it back then. I hate it, but I get it. But this is now. And I deserve better.

some thoughts for you.....

for starters, he was probably dealing with limerance towards the other woman(women) and that's infatuatory like behavior explained by this article here:  https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/limerence-infatuation-how-works  not excusing his behavior or justifying it, but explaining it and what we typically see. also, he was in a situation that was much like a fantasy. no bills, no bad moods, no unmet expectations, no bitterness.  just fun, fantasty and escapism.   it's a normal pattern.  it sounds like you want him to choose you and he's not and that's sad, but that's just now.  if hes not getting  infidelity specific help, then i'm not sure if he knows what he should be doing and how he should be doing it.  choosing you is a big deal and he needs to know what that means and looks like, but he also may not be there yet.  it's understandable you'd be frustrated, but 9 months into it, it's still early and it doesn't sound like he's had infidelity specific help and that's a game changer my friend. it just is.  

 

Thank you

I think you are right about a lot of that. I appreciate your help. But I just found out today that he’s really just going through the motions on Bootcamp and “this Affair Recovery thing” because I think the affair was the problem... but actually he feels our problems all started with me. So, I don’t guess infidelity specific help is what he thinks he needs.

It felt like the exercises we went through were really good. It felt like we were having good, honest conversations. But as usual, they were only honest on my end.

I appreciate your help Samuel. I feel like this site has been a huge help to me personally, so I’ll still follow the blog and all of that. But I don’t think I have the energy to save my marriage all by myself.

it's pretty normal....

hi there.  it's pretty normal to be honest.  this struggle happens all the time.  more than i could ever minimize.  the fact is, i think infidelity specific help will be able to help him see the truth.  would he see a therapist who is an expert?  the bootcamp won't be strong enough to curtail his reasoning if he's feeling that way.  would he see someone or what do you think would be the next step as you'll need more than the bootcamp.....i don't think, truly, that you're as far apart as it may feel but you'll need an expert to help him see things differently than he sees it now.  i know it's discouraging as all get out.  

Roller coaster

You’d think after months on this site, reading articles and watching videos and working through Bootcamp that I would have a better understanding of the roller coaster of emotions I would still be going through at this point in my marriage, but I wasn’t ready for the last few weeks.

We’ve had a couple of really tough conversations this week and I think we are back on the same page. There have been a lot of hurtful things we had to work through in the last couple of weeks, but there has been a lot of progress too and I know I tend to lose track of that when I’m upset. For the record, I had every right to be upset and now I know where to set some of my boundaries, so it was a learning curve that we needed to get through, I guess.

But it looks like now that he really is putting in the work and he does feel like what we’ve been doing is beneficial. I was afraid that he was just checking boxes and going through the motions, but he told me he feels like he’s gotten a lot out of the exercises (and he quoted something you said in a video, so he’s actually watching them) and I’m a lot more hopeful today than I was even 2 weeks ago.

We’ve both changed in some really good ways so far. We communicate better and we’re addressing miscommunications much sooner instead of letting anger or resentment build up. (Although I was guilty of that this week.) I want to be further along by now and I want the constant insecurity and fear to fade. But you’re right. It’s a process and we just have to work through it. As hard as this is, he and I both understand that the alternative path would have been just as difficult in it’s own way, would have hurt even more, and wouldn’t offer the same potential rewards as this one does. So it’s a start. We will need more specific help eventually and I think we’ll do that as we can afford it.

Thanks for everything you (and the team!) do. It’s a relief to be able to come here and feel like you aren’t crazy or broken when everything inside feels like you are.

you're so welcome...

i get it....thank you for sharing that.  it's a process and it has some heavy and very specific layers.  you'll get through it my friend.  don't be too hard on yourself, as it takes time and commitment to the process.  but, you're worth it and worth the effort.  i'm so glad the site helps you and creates safety and normalcy for you.