I'm not settling for less and you shouldn't either

Less than a year after DDay (will be 9 months in a few days), my life is full of triggers. I suppose for all spouses who have been betrayed and have undertaken the challenge to work on the healing from the affair and rebuilding of trust with their (ex) unfaithful partner, the triggers are quite similar.

The home

We stay in the home we shared while we built our life together including the time we suspected the infidelity until DDay confirmed it. In this home, we discussed the discovery or disclosure with our cheating spouse and now we are pretending normal most of the time. We pretend to be ok for the sake of our children and for the possibility of having a happy marriage with the person we have decided to forgive. Who wants to rebuild a life with a wreck, right? Double irony: we are wrecked by our spouse's poor choices and we remain in the house where anything can take us down memory lane.

The jargon

Forgiveness, trust, healing, shame, triggers, emotional flooding, hysterical bonding, OW, AP, CW (love this one, Living through infidelity) and other terms and initials used once you've entered the "tribe" become part of your everyday jargon. Who had to talk about forgiveness when we were busy changing diapers or feeding the babies or getting together with other friends who were doing the same? When did we get to the day when our friends started to divorce, our children left home and infidelity touched us too?

Well, shit happens. It's happened to me and most probably to you or someone you know, since you're reading this blog. The commitment to our marriage and to the new family we created together needed renewal. We were sure about our part and we were counting on our spouse's reciprocation. But they decided to stray and now we are dealing with it.

Pretend normal sucks

One of the most challenging triggers is "pretend normal". It could be driven by shame, as Rick Reynolds from AffairRecovery.com puts it in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4JT10BGzEg


Rick talks about the person who cheated wanting to protect his/her image. I know this is my husband's case. He prefers to leave what he did in the past and not to bring it up. I wish I could just forget it happened and live with his decision to be a "good boy" again. Yet, I know this would be sweeping it under the carpet. It will come out again.

We talked about it last night. I know he doesn't have to be punished for "making one mistake" -over and over again for over a year- and being exposed to people who would just gossip or humiliate him. It would not take away my pain either. It would just create more awkwardness. I have experienced it first hand by disclosing the affair to a few key people at his work. There is no point in jeopardising our family's finances. So, I have to live with some degree of "pretend normal".

Acknowledging the positives

To his credit, he started the conversation. This is a BIG step in the right direction. He knew the work dinner from the previous night upset me (I hate being this insecure person infidelity has made me). He sent me an early morning message to cheer me up, ask me how I was, let me know he was thinking of me. That was really nice. I had wept over a song that took me to the time I believed in true love that would last a lifetime. I shared that with him and I informed my tribe:



He replied that we would talk about it when he came home after work that afternoon.

Starting the conversation face to face

Once he came home, I was waiting for his reply to my note. He couldn't start the conversation face to face. We had dinner with the kids, pretended normal while I was distant and unresponsive to his signs of affection. He suggested we watched some Netflix. I remained silent.

I took my handwritten notes because I knew I would need them to have an efficient exchange of views with him. There were open-ended questions to help keep the conversation going. One was "What did you learn from the affair re: emotional and sexual connectedness?", "What is love for you?". He cannot articulate anything too different from "I made a mistake because I was stupid, I live in fear of upsetting you, I am avoiding all socialising at work except for the unavoidable cases, I cannot quit my job, we cannot live on thin air".

In conclusion

Pretend normal is not enough to rebuild trust. I am looking inwards and working on my childhood insecurities, nurturing my inner child and loving myself. He understood that he has to "fight his demons". I will show him Rick's video. I am also waiting for Dr Marshall's book on rebuilding trust. We must work on that together. 

I asked him, once again, to up his game in regaining my trust and making me feel loved. All the energy he is now not using in pleasing the lover and hiding the affair from me, he can use in winning me back. He nodded. 

We shall see. 

Thanks for reading, 
H.

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