Why Not Commit to the Marriage? Part 3

Samuel wraps up this series by discussing more barriers that couples face after the discovery of infidelity and how to overcome those barriers and choose to get healthy.

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mjw4308,

mjw4308,

This is my first post. I found Affair Recovery last month and have read many of the articles and watched many of the videos, which have been very insightful. After reading your message, I decided to finally post. It's surreal that I am actually writing from the perspective of a betrayed spouse.....where was I when that became my reality?? Anyway, I had a long message all ready to post (it took me over an hour to write) and then it just suddenly disappeared. It is getting late here, so instead of trying to rewrite my message tonight, I will keep it short for now.

I can relate to what you said about the marriage being average, with it's ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses. That's marriage, right?? I can also relate to extending forgiveness and grace to my husband after learning he had been unfaithful.

Long story short, we have been married almost 23 years, have two children, we homeschool, I'm in my 40's. My husband had a sexual affair with a person he met in an online chat room. It started at the beginning of 2009 and last for about a year. I found out about it in November, 2013. In his words "it was a long time ago and it didn't mean anything."

He says he is willing to help me heal (he doesn't think he himself has anything to heal from) but his willingness to help me seems "conditional" and only if it's something he's "comfortable" doing. He recently considered doing one of the courses offered here at Affair Recovery.....until he found out he would have to actually talk to other people with the weekly conference calls. It has been 23 months since I found out about the affair and I have not told one single family member (my family or his) and not any friends, either. I feel like I have "protected" him, meanwhile, he has done very little to feel my pain or help me or help "us."

I forgave him immediately, which is what I thought was the right thing to do and also what I wanted to do, though he has showed little to no remorse, as far as I can observe. I feared losing him, which prevented me from proceeding in a healthy way by insisting on getting help. Instead, I have basically waited for him to initiate getting us help, which has yet to happen, though I have broached the conversation many times, nothing ever gets done. I know, dysfunctional to say the least. I think, in the beginning, I so wanted it not to be true, that I just continued on with "business, as usual".....perhaps as a way to cope with the devastation?? I don't know. However, as long as I act fine, put on a smile, laugh and joke around and act like everything is just fine.....then everything "appears" cool with my husband.....as long as he's getting what he wants and I don't "rock the boat" by wanting to work through what obviously needs to be worked through.

He has talked regularly about our future together throughout the past 23 months .....however, as soon as I approach him to talk about the marriage and the affair and suggest we seek the proper help and that he just doesn't "get it", suddenly he's "you're never gonna get over it, the marriage has had problems for a long time, let's just go our separate ways." He defaults to this very quickly, within minutes of the conversations we have about all of this. I don't think he knows what he wants. He says he wants to help me heal, as long as it has nothing to do with the marriage. What?? He wants to help me heal but he doesn't think the marriage can be saved and not sure if he wants to even see if that's even a possibility. Yet, here we are nearly 2 years after D-day. Any help we would get is for me, he says, not the marriage. Really?? How does that work?? So, why have you continued to remain in this marriage until now?? He says I'm the one who needs to heal, not him. His opinion is that he has nothing to heal from. Yet he's the one who had an affair. Am I missing something?? It's all so unhealthy.

I don't usually post things online, so I'm not sure if I'm using proper protocol by responding to your message with my experience or if I should have started a new message. I just wanted to finally post and, for some reason, related to where you are coming from. This is the first time since D-day that I have actually written down that my husband had an affair.....that I am a betrayed spouse. It's surreal. I just wanted you to know you're not alone and it's nice to know that I'm not either. I hope you don't mind that I didn't keep this message short, after all.

Thank you Twister and Kim0202 for your insight and kindness. Your words of encouragement, though not addressed directly to me, are an encouragement to me. Any additional thoughts?? Thank you.

hopeful for healing...

thank you so much for posting. i'm incredibly sorry to hear of the pain you are in. that is real and that is painful and that sounds very alone. i'm sorry you're in that position. it's so much harder to heal when you have little to no one to process with and talk with as you walk down this road. i'm really glad you reached out. for starters, i think you're in a situation where he feels he has all the power and the control. kinda like 'whatya gunna do? where you gonna go ya know?" he feels like he holds all the power so it's on his terms and that's problematic. unless he feels like there are any consequences for his actions, he will keep doing what he's doing, saying what he's doing, as he's not afraid of the consequences. you may want to read these two articles as well which will explain more: https://www.affairrecovery.com/dealing-infidelity-how-get-your-mate-cooperate-without-being-controlling https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/is-your-marriage-pleasing-versus-loving keep in mind, you do have power and you do have control here. you are not a prisoner and if you feel like you want to begin to turn the ship, you can. but, it will take strategy for sure. additionally though, you may think about getting to take action 'for you' but ultimately getting to a situation where he can receive help as well. for example, if he will come to the ems weekend with you, for you, then i'd do it in a heart beat. he will not be able to go to the weekend and NOT receive help, insight and clarity on what's going on. so if you can get him to do the weekend, do it. asap. he needs that level of help and your situation ( if you'll indulge me) absolutely needs that level of help and insight. id call it a mini-intervention. if you don't then from both experience and helping a ton of couples myself, things will not change. they will only get worse most likely and will start to erode around you. at some level, he seems a bit bully-ish if you ask me and is bullying you into not talking about it. he also probably doesn't want to talk about it as it brings up his own shame and his own discomfort for what he's done. these articles may help a bit: https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/infidelity-recovery-understanding-the-paralysis-of-shame https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/survive-an-affair-how-much-to-tell i'm here for you. let me know what you think and we'll go from there. thank you again for posting and watching this little blog.

Thank you for giving me some direction.

Thank you so much, Samuel, for responding. I have to say, it's such a relief to feel like I'm might be getting some real, concrete help. It's so helpful to get your perspective on things, as many of your observations have literally put into words what I have been feeling and thinking for the past 2 years (in terms of feeling like my spouse "has all the power and control".) You have definitely given me some things to think about and I feel like you have pointed me in the right direction, as scary and uncertain as that direction may seem. After nearly 2 years of very little help, I know a shift in how things have been going needs to be made but it can feel "paralyzing" to move forward and make this shift happen. I have read many of the articles here at AR but not sure if I read the ones you have suggested, I will be sure to read them.

My approach of being very patient and accommodating to his needs and comfort has obviously not been very productive. During our last discussion 2 nights ago, after he said he didn't think an online program would work (he stated we need to find a counselor to see in person, stall tactic??) I finally said "ok, in person? then we will do the EMS weekend, I didn't suggest that because I never thought you would agree to travel for help but the EMS is "in person", so we'll do that, because I want infidelity-specific help...I'll make the arrangements." His response? "where's that?" So, I told him somewhere near Austin, I think. His response "I'm not going there! we'll find something around here." That was 2 days ago and he has basically ignored me since that conversation and is sleeping in the living room. So......don't know if he will agree to the EMS. I told him, I want to do the programs through Affair Recovery, just any old counselor or regular marriage counseling will not cut it. To be honest, I can't believe I was actually assertive enough to say that, rather than "accommodating" what he wants.

Question 1: when he says "the marriage hasn't been that great for a long time, long before the affair" - is that justifying the affair? From what I've read here, that's what it sounds like to me but I wanted to know if I am understanding "justifying" correctly. How do I respond to his claim that the marriage wasn't that great for a long time?? It hasn't been perfect, but it hasn't been terrible, either. Is he just using that as an excuse to not get help, rather than seeing it as "yes, maybe the marriage needed/needs some help on both ends but that's a separate issue from the affair". Please tell me if I'm understanding all of this correctly because I really don't know how to respond when he uses the "marriage was already bad" card. HELP!!

Question 2: since he's already stated that he won't do the EMS, am I barking up the wrong tree? or do you suggest I do whatever it talk to make that happen, even if it's in the form of an ultimatum? When we talked 2 nights ago and I told him that's what Affair Recovery does, they specifically help people affected by infidelity, he said "of course they're gonna tell you their programs are helpful, they're trying to sell you on buying their programs".....I honestly think he believes it would be easier/better to separate/divorce than to have to actually take responsibility for the consequences of his choices.

I am very hesitant to make this shift happen but knows it necessary for real change to begin to happen. I really think he wants everything to "just happen" without a lot of effort and, if it doesn't, then in his words "it's not meant to be." I am considering traveling back to our home state where my family ifs (about a 7 hour drive) this weekend. I have been thinking long and hard about confiding all of this to my Mom and sister. Do you think that's wise? I feel like everything is coming to a head and my family has NO IDEA I have been going through any of this for 2 years. Thank you, so much, for all of your advice and support. I really, truly do appreciate your help. I definitely need a strategy. Thanks, again.

Do not be afraid

Hello Hopeful for Healing,
I am sorry you are in the situation you are in. Unfortunately i have been in your situation. We are coming up on 3 years since D-day. From my experience . . IF he has not gotten the ball started with some type of help chance are he is not going to, he sees you are waiting for him.

here's what I learned and what I did....

You have the power. . stop waiting for him to take the initiative! If you are like me you are afraid and deeply hoping he will take the initiative. Chances are he's not going to. Some ideas for you . . Start going to counseling yourself and stop waiting for him. whether you do the counseling on here or find a local counselor, do not be afraid to let him know you are going to counseling. Invite him along to counseling. If you are not sure what you want right now as far as the marriage that is ok just start making some changes now. In my experience the longer you accept the status quo position you are in the longer you are essentially allowing him to procrastinate in dealing with it. It is ok for you to be afraid. (i was too!)

Sounds like you are afraid to rock the boat and so is he. Just think . . IF you don't rock the boat no one will and if the boat isn't rocked then you may never get unstuck from bank of the shore. Do you really want your marriage to continue at the uncertainty state it is in? I didn't! Enough is enough!

I saw this quote and it helped me trememdously when it came to making choices for my marriage . . 3 options: Love them, Leave them or Lead them. Perhaps you can lead him to counseling and if he decides not to join you then that is his choice in the meantime you can get help that you do need and perhaps get some education, strenghth and courage to make this right and if it doesn't work out then at least you have helped yourself.

Best of luck

Thanks for your suggestions...

Been there, thank you so much for your suggestions. I really appreciate your encouragement and for sharing what has worked for you. I really like the "love them, leave them or lead them" saying. I don't know if I have heard that before but reading it had an impact on me. The boat needs to be rocked and waiting for my husband to take the initiative isn't working, so I may need to "lead" him. I need to begin to move from the shore toward greater healing. Thanks, again :)

hopeful for healing...

thanks for your response. so glad you're reading: #1 Question 1: when he says "the marriage hasn't been that great for a long time, long before the affair" - is that justifying the affair? From what I've read here, that's what it sounds like to me but I wanted to know if I am understanding "justifying" correctly. How do I respond to his claim that the marriage wasn't that great for a long time?? It hasn't been perfect, but it hasn't been terrible, either. Is he just using that as an excuse to not get help, rather than seeing it as "yes, maybe the marriage needed/needs some help on both ends but that's a separate issue from the affair". Please tell me if I'm understanding all of this correctly because I really don't know how to respond when he uses the "marriage was already bad" card. HELP!! ******often times the unfaithful spouse 'rewrites history' or you may hear is 'rewriting history' to justify their actions and their indifference. they have to. they must in order to make THEMSELVES feel better about THEMSELVES and they are incredibly self centered. try these articles as they are incredibly helpful to understand the mind of the unfaithful: https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/why-we-commit-betrayal-with-infidelity https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/thought-processes-that-lead-to-affair-and-betrayal-how-could-you-part-two https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/moral-justifications-unfaithful-spouse-uses-to-have-affair https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/infidelity-doublespeak-and-distorted-comparisons https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/betrayal-the-secrecy-factor https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/affair-dehumanization-and-blame #2 since he's already stated that he won't do the EMS, am I barking up the wrong tree? or do you suggest I do whatever it talk to make that happen, even if it's in the form of an ultimatum? When we talked 2 nights ago and I told him that's what Affair Recovery does, they specifically help people affected by infidelity, he said "of course they're gonna tell you their programs are helpful, they're trying to sell you on buying their programs".....I honestly think he believes it would be easier/better to separate/divorce than to have to actually take responsibility for the consequences of his choices. i would commit to the weekend. you seem to be at a point of extreme crisis and I wouldn't mess around with anything else. quite frankly, i would push for the weekend and see what happens. if he won't, then i'd enact some consequences his way and see how that goes. it's just too difficult to 'craigslist' this or do some herky jerky half solution that will only make things worse in the long run and leave you unhealed. careful with telling family. those you tell need to be 1. safe 2. supportive 3. wont be giving you advice as they've never been through it and they don't know the way out of the crisis. if they will 4. love you and support you no matter what you do about the situation, then great. but you don't want them pressuring you or telling you do this or that, when you have to make this decision. the keys for you right now, if i may be so bold is: 1. safe environement 2. expert help 3. support either way 4. no more extra pressure.

Thank you for giving me direction...

Thanks, Samuel, for responding. I have actually been out of state, visiting my family since Friday, and will be gone for another few days. But I wanted to at least respond to your advice and say thank you. I am going to read all of the articles you recommended but haven't had much free time while on my trip. I wasn't planning on sharing with anyone in my family that my husband had an affair, unless I was presented with a good opportunity to do so. I did have the opportunity, so I cautiously told my sister everything. She was supportive and comforting. However, she told me of an odd event that happened about 16-17 years ago and never mentioned it before because she wasn't 100% certain exactly what it was. During a phone conversation with my husband, she said she felt very uncomfortable because she thought my husband was making an inappropriate suggestion/proposition towards her. She was very surprised and did not expect it and, somehow, dismissed it. She hung up and thought "what was that??" She never mentioned it because if she had misinterpreted what he said, she didn't want to have it be awkward or cause any unnecessary problems for us. But in light of what I shared with her this weekend, she felt an obligation to tell me, in the event that it may be relevant. I finally decide (after 2 years of keeping this to myself), to share of my husband's affair with someone in my "inner circle" and that person has this bit of "questionable" information. Just not sure to do with that. Do I talk to my husband about this??

As far as the EMS weekend, if my husband won't agree to that but agrees to the online version, at least that's a step in the right direction. In your opinion, is the EMS weekend suggested over the online EMS for our particular situation? It seems as if some consequences will need to be determined, as he is resisting help for himself.

When I get back home from my trip, I plan on telling him that I shared the affair information with my sister. I'm not sure how this new bit of information my sister shared with me fits into that. Any advice about that??

I am taking all of your advice into consideration and do appreciate your help. Thanks, again.

After the Affair

Hello Samuel, just wondering if you can give me your opinion on something. I just got back Sunday evening from being out of state for 9 days, with little communication with my husband during that time. This evening, he told me he ordered 2 books while I was out of town and read through both of them all the way through. Initially, I thought "well, that seems like a good step" but then I read some of the content of the books. One of them is called "After the Affair" by Janis Abrahms Spring and I am quite appalled by some things in the book. Example, author recommends to the unfaithful that if you feel your spouse will be hurt too deeply, then that would be a good reason to keep your infidelity a secret. What?? Another topic discusses pornography online and suggests that should be "allowed" as it can actually make your hurt spouse want the unfaithful spouse more. What?? The author seems to suggest that the betrayed spouse has to take responsibility for "allowing" the affair to happen (not in those exact words, I don't think, but something along those lines.) My question is, are you familiar with this book? I am so bothered that my husband finally took the initiative, after 2 years of doing very little, to try to understand what I have been going through by ordering these books and this is what he reads?? I am beside myself.

My husband has said that he wants to help me heal but still isn't sure about wanting to work on the marriage. We are going to talk more about it tomorrow morning but I think he is going to agree to do the EMS online course and, hopefully, Hope For Healing, although he not comfortable with the conference calls. Not sure, however, that I can get him to travel to Austin for the EMS weekend.

Thanks for your guidance.

interesting...

hopeful for healing....i do know the book and many read it, but i have not read it myself personally. do you know who suggested the books or did he just find them on his own? many would say take the best, leave the rest and i do believe that about many books out there. many books you have to take that approach as there is some great stuff in it, but some junk too. reality is, it's great that he is at the very least, taking action and reading. so i would say that's great. sucks he's putting some junk in him, but at this point, id be grateful for any good action ya know? any forward progress has to be appreciated to a certain extent as you are at such an elementary point with him and with forward progress. i would suggest to reconsider the ems weekend though, as for where he may be, that's the best option. i would give it all i had to give to get him to a point of getting help from rick at the ems weekend as that will shave off months of other activity which could be accomplished at the weekend. just my .0002 cents. i would also encourage him to know that you are glad he is reading, but will never come to a point where you tolerate pornography in the marriage or that you caused his affair(s). that that is not a pillar of recovery for you. if he will do the hope for healing it will help significantly that i do know and if the only thing he will do is the ems online, well, i think that's great and it will be very beneficial. it's tough. unfortunatley many inexperienced therapists also believe those things that we addressed above in the book. it's knowing enough to be dangerous but not be an expert. . sure hope that helps my friend?!

Ambivilent Spouse

Hello Samuel,

I have read many of the articles and watched many of the videos here at Affair Recovery in the past month or so. The information has been very insightful and helpful to me in understanding infidelity. I am learning so much, as much as I wish I didn't need to. I copy and pasted a message I posted on the general forum here at AR, rather than rewriting the details of our particular situation. I hope that was ok to do, as today I finally decided to post a message and don't know all rules here about posting. Also, the message I copy and pasted got posted twice, sorry for that. Would you mind reading the message below and responding with any advice? I'm just not sure what direction to go at this point. I showed my husband the 3 videos you did about "Why Not Commit to the Marriage." He sat and watched all 3 parts. That was last yesterday evening and then later last night he stated he wants to help me heal but feels he has nothing to heal from, though he is the one who had a year long sexual affair. He says he doesn't know what he wants but he doesn't think our marriage is worth saving, he doesn't have any hope for change in our marriage. He says he wants to help me heal, as long as it has nothing to do with trying to save the marriage. I said what you have said, we don't have to commit to saving the marriage but would he at least commit to getting the right help to try to get healthy. He doesn't think he has anything to recover from, therefor, he doesn't need to commit to getting healthy. When I try to explain to him the things I am learning through Affair Recovery, he says "I'm reading too much", although we've spent the past 23 months trying to deal with this on our own, I finally find the courage, just last month, to cautiously look online for some information to make sense of this whole thing, and he says "I'm reading too much." I decided to make an attempt to begin moving forward in a healthy way, unlike the past almost 2 years, where very little has been done to address this whole mess. We are still living together, have 2 children (ages 13 and 11) and sold our house last year, moved out of state away from my family to live in my husband's Dad's house, who passed away one year ago. I don't recognize my husband or my life. Again, a little more about our situation is explained in the message below.

Any help, advice, guidance you could offer would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.

see above my friend as i answered the first post. thanks again.

see above...

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