I was reading a post today on another blog, The Affair Diary, and it was her six month anniversary of devastation. You can read it here. In this blog she asked herself some questions about where she is now. I did not really find her answers too surprising but I wondered how I would answer the same set of questions from my perspective. So I decided to do just that.
Do you still cry over the infidelity? No. But I think this is more to do with my personality. I still have an overwhelming sense of grief and pain associated with what I did and the effects it had on my wife and family. I know that by crying and being in that state does not help my wife, so I avoid it. However, it is not as consuming as it once was.
Do you forgive yourself? Nope. I am still really looking for answers from myself to really understand how I changed into that person who did all of this. It is hard to forgive what you don’t understand. I also know that I made a choice. I made a choice to hurt my wife, put her in danger, put my relationship in the trash, and make my kids miss a year with their parents because we were so consumed with this we really could not focus on anything else. Because this was a choice, it is really hard to say “Oops! My bad, but its okay because it will be fine in the end. So all is forgiven.” Nothing will ever be the same especially the two of us which makes it nearly impossible to forgive myself.
Do you trust your wife/self? No and no. Many of you many not understand this but my marriage was in a bad place before this all started and one of the areas that was eroded was the trust I had in my wife with my feelings, wishes, desires, and needs. I am sure it could not have been much better on her end, but I know I am still closed up. I am still not capable of opening those things back up right now. We are working on it in counseling but this has been years in the making so it will be a long process of recovery. As for myself, that is easy. If I really cannot understand how I let it get that far, it is hard to trust that I can recognize it and fix it before it gets that bad again and take the easy road out. However, the lack of trust in myself makes me very perceptive of what her needs are and how I can meet them. Then I keep the focus on what I am giving her instead of what I am not getting. I don’t need to trust myself to focus on her.
Does it hurt as bad now as it did then? Yes and no. I could answer the same as she did in that the pain is no longer all encompassing but part of me. I also have taught myself better ways to cope with the pain and keep it from affecting my daily life too much. The worst the pain gets is when I see it in her. Seeing her hurting over what I did is the worst thing I go through because I cannot really do anything to “fix” it. Instead I just have to help her get through that moment and let her know I am there for her.
Is your marriage better now? Yes and no. Our marriage is different. We are very conscious of what the needs of the other person are and how we can meet them. We still have communication issues. I think more on my end because I still struggle expressing what I want and thinking that I deserve anything after all of this is difficult. The reason it is not better is there is no longer the carefree almost stress free points in our marriage. I also know we used to be the model family/couple compared to most of the people we know and it seemed effortless to do. Now everything seems stressful and very draining to complete. And we are far from the model couple anymore. Some would say more real, but we both miss those stress free days.
Have you changed? Your wife? Yes. I am a shell of the person I used to be both in some good and bad ways. I used to be able to be the life of a party in a good way. Now I dread even being with people, not that I really enjoyed it before, but at least before I could fake it if I needed to. Now it doesn’t seem worth the effort. I also am very conscious of what I am doing for my wife on a daily basis. Am I saying anything that may make her feel guilty? Am I making her stress out over things? Am I helping her so she can be relaxed at home? All things I constantly think about. As for my wife, she is really trying to help mend some of the relational issues we had prior to all this, we both are, but I can really see her putting in the effort. This does make me feel more valued than the last few years in our marriage.
Do you regret your decision to fix your marriage? Yes and no. Surprised? Me too, but probably not the way you think. I am happy to still be with my wife. More than I can adequately describe. But I still wonder if she would be better off without me. I wonder if she would heal faster, find happiness faster, learn how strong of a person she really is, and show herself that she does not need me. I want to be here and I want to be with her, but I also want her to be happy and if I cannot provide that and all I am is a constant reminder of the pain that I caused, then I want her to be able to move on and be happy. Maybe regret is not the right word, as much as questioning whether this was the “right” choice for her.
What is your advice to new members of the “Club”? For the BS’s – Be open to what it is you need to heal. Tell your partner, make them understand because we are often so clueless in this area. our mind reading skill are absolute crap. Also remember that your healing is done on your terms and on your timeline. Only you know what you need, what you want, and how long you need those things. The trick is sharing this with the one person you no longer trust, but that is what it takes to heal. Also recognize that there were problems with your marriage before the affair. Get help to find and work on those problems with your partner. Only then can you be able to heal as a couple.
For the AS’s – WTF were you thinking? At least you need to know that is the thought that is going through your partners head 100’s of times a day. You need to be able to show that you are truly sorry for your actions and that you are committed to it never happening again. Be an open book, even though it feels intrusive but it helps build trust, both ways. Show your are sorry for your actions constantly. Don’t be a whiny mopey person about it. It could be as simple as reminding the other person that you are glad they are still with you or it could be the 100th full blown apology. You just need to recognize what your partner needs and give it to them. Look for set backs and be patient. Your partner will be doing well one week and then a wreck the next, all because she saw something that brought everything back to the surface. Be patient, understanding, and empathetic and know that this is a long process. You may wish it was over in months but in reality it takes years and years and you will never have what you had again. But you do have the chance to mold your new relationship with your partner into something you both want.
When you step back and take a larger perspective of everything you should see that the journey the two of you are now on will be nothing like you have ever experienced before, but that does not mean it cannot be something you both will love. And yes, depending on where your marriage was before, it can bring the two of you closer. Just don’t expect the person you married to come back because that person is dead and gone, as is your past relationship. So forge ahead, making the most out of all your experiences with your partner while building a new closer relationship.