So I feel trapped. I feel like I can’t get out. I am being told that the feeling is not permanent. It will go away after a while. I have a hard time believing it, but I don’t have anything else to hold onto so I hold on to that.
What do I feel trapped by? My Marriage? My commitments to my wife and family? My wife? Actually none of these. I am not sure I could have said that 1 year ago. Those thing now as I write them actually seem liberating and full of promise. They are there for us to make them what we want. No, I am feeling trapped by my mistakes. I feel like they are forever going to haunt me. Some are old, really old. Others are more recent, but they all surround me like a low lying fog. Everything that I touch has a small residue of those mistakes.
This time last year I was having a really hard time. I did not know who I was, what I wanted or really if I even wanted to keep going. I believed my wife did not love me. I believed that she only tolerated me. I felt trapped. I wanted her to be happy. I wanted to be happy. I was tired of us both feeling shitty. We hardly interacted with each other. She was either sleeping or working or volunteering in the schools. I was working and took on more to avoid going home. It was a nasty cycle. I think we were both so lost that we did not know what else to do. I dreamed and dreamed of just disappearing. I did not believe that anyone would actually miss me. I think my kids would have recognized the fact that I was gone, but I really did not think anyone else would notice or care.
I had already started on Tinder and was texting people who seemed interested in me. What did they see that my wife didn’t? This question never went away. I could not get it out of my head. It would not go away. I was the same person wasn’t I? I looked the same, had the same personality, then why?
It is a funny question to me now. What did they see that my wife didn’t? I can answer it without a problem. They saw someone who had an interest in them. Who made them feel attractive and interesting. So they never saw me, they saw what I was giving them. So the real question I should have been asking myself was not “What did they see that my wife didn’t?” but “What I am giving them that I am not giving my wife?”.
How different may things be if I had taken that approach? I would probably not be here on this blog. However, I also am not sure my marriage would be good either. We were talking in counseling yesterday and she mentioned something to our counselor that she said I told her late one night. It must have been a night I was highly medicated because I don’t remember saying it. She told her that I said “While I wished it could have been done another way, this may have been the slap in the face our marriage really needed. I really wish we could have taken another route to get here, but we didn’t so now we have to work with what we have and make the best out of it.” She said she believed that our marriage is in a much better place than a year ago or even two years ago. We both recognize that we have a long way to go but we are both working hard to make it work.
Our counselor is always so surprised when we come in. We go through where we think we are at and then she asks us questions and so far we have not been asked something that we have not already sat down and seriously talked about. She is just amazed that we do it without issues. We have always been able to sit and discuss anything. Well, our counselor wanted to talk about our sex life.
She asked us how things were since the affair. Frankly our sex life has been much better. My wife agreed. She said she never understood how much my self-esteem was tied to our sex life. She just kept pushing it down her list of things she needed to get down. Not because she didn’t enjoy it or like it but because she had so many things she thought needed to be done. I said that we got into a vicious cycle where she would not want to do it because it got too late but I would not come to bed because I did not want to be turned down. When we did do it I felt like an item on her list. Get it done and over with so she could move onto the next item. My wife agreed that was almost how she was thinking. She did not see the same value in it that I did. Now however, we are both attune to each other in different ways. She is more of an aggressor and I try and provide more opportunities that fit more into her schedule. Things are much better.
So then the counselor asked what I wanted differently from my wife that I am not getting. Ummmmm….. I did not have anything. I said that it has never been about the variety for me. My wife has always been willing to try new things and then we would decide if we liked it. I do feel comfortable being able to say lets try this.. and I know she would be okay with it. And the same would go for me. If she wanted something I would gladly try it. My issues has been her being present in the moment and our connection. So we talked about how we can get more of that. It was funny because it was the same thing my wife wanted. She wanted the connection that came from the whole experience. The activity or how we did it was almost irrelevant to both of us. It was more about the prelude and how was stayed connected when we were done.
Again our counselor was surprised by our answers. She went through the common things that are issues. I have actually had the most issues with our sex life since the affair. For a long time, okay, the whole time since, it makes me sick to have sex. To the point I want to throw up. My wife knows about it. It is not as bad now, but I never turned her down. I never will. I know what it is like to be rejected and that won’t happen here.
So we left counseling feeling good about ourselves and where we are a in our relationship. We will see if we can keep it up. I am not thinking about the panic that still occurs when we are not together or the feeling that I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. I am living one day at a time and trying to make it the best I can for both of us. Because we are important and she is important to me. And right now that is all that matters.
You’re in pretty good shape for the shape you are in
We all make mistakes– some bigger than others. We learn from them as painful or shameful as they can be. I think your issue of feeling stuck is because you haven’t forgiven yourself for those mistakes. Once you learn to deal with the guilt or whatever it is that is keeping you from moving forward, once you are able to look in the mirror and forgive your self then and only then the burden will feel lighter and you’ll feel unstuck.
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I agree with Kc.. You need to forgive yourself. I seem to remember that your wife has.
I read something on the arraignment recovery Bootcamp using the analogy of the affair as a scar rather than a wound. A wound is open, raw, painful.. Infected sometimes. Appears to heal but opens again. Doesn’t ever really heal. A scar, well a scar is healed. You can look and see it, touch it, maybe feel it on a stormy day, but for analogy purposes, a scar is healed.
I don’t think any party in an affair can forget it. But we all can heal from its trauma.
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You make a great observation when you say the question should have been “What I am giving them that I am not giving my wife?”.
From everything I know about affairs, that’s actually one of the biggest things that happens. People stop putting the little things into their relationship, then are surprised/disappointed when their relationship struggles. They meet someone else, and see all the little things that are missing – but the reality is that they are equally responsible for what their relationship has become.
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I agree. You have to forgive yourself. Focus on all the progress and strides you both have made TOGETHER. It’s inspiring.
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I nominated you for a Liebster Award http://wp.me/p4EEoX-4e
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Love this post as it will be something to strive for in terms of getting my husband to recognize what went wrong.
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I don’t disagree with alots of this. I’m sure my wife would rather I didn’t do what I did, but even she agrees that my affair, and its disclosure, was the jolt our marriage needed, which had become fairly disconnected, even if harmonious on the surface. It got our attention and focused us on what was important. As much as Betrayed Spouses hate to hear this and refuse to grasp it — affairs don’t occur in a vacuum. There is no excuse for an affair, but there are almost always “reasons” why we did it, and mostly it IS a commentary on our marriages. And even she recognized that, even if it was a terrible, horrible way for me to “comment” on our marriage. But at least the whole sorry episode got our attention and put us on a better track.
Totally agree with you needing to forgive YOU to move forward. I wrote about it. Hope it helps.
Our purpose is to make beautiful babies. Nature’s trick to make it enticing. We are wired to find the best partner for such occasion. We are actually attracted to those that are in better health than ourselves. (can’t remember if it applies to both sexes or just one) as we become familiar with one another the chemistry drops (there is a technical name for it!.. I promise!) the libido drops. Attraction to another can naturally become higher. That’s where fantasy comes into play to trick the brain. It is natural to stray and reconnect with one another. It helps you both refresh and time to miss each other. If you listen intently your bodies talk to each other and when the mood strikes they sing. We panic too much about how often we connect but if you listen closely you both should have a knowing when you are Both ready to reconnect. Just take the time frame out of the equation. It will happen when it happens and both parties should appreciate it more.. I think I just had the ‘sex talk’… Ekk apologies.
*Drift not stray as life gets busy