Restoring dignity and honor

I just read an article on social shame from Affair Recovery about the betrayed spouse’s shame and their need to restore honor. I am not yet sure what I think about the totality of that article, but something did strike a chord.

I was thinking more about being able to forgive Mindless. I posted a comment to my Forgiveness post yesterday regarding how I forgave my dad when I was a teenager. And, it occurred to me, perhaps this “restoring honor” is a crucial element, both then and now on my path to forgiveness.

With my dad, I think I felt that he had trampled upon my honor and dignity by thinking I would always be forgiving, quickly and easily. I think part of why I stopped talking to him, stopped interacting with him was because my pride was hurt and it was my attempt to regain honor and dignity. Perhaps him coming to “rescue” me, knowing that it likely wouldn’t change anything between us, was him putting aside his pride to show me that I was more important. Perhaps, somehow, this allowed me to regain my dignity and honor.

Staying with Mindless has been a blow to my dignity and honor. Maybe I need to find a way to regain my dignity and honor in order to feel like I can forgive.

Interestingly, the AR article showed these results:

So what can a husband or wife who has been unfaithful do to restore their mate’s honor? Here are the top 7 of 13 answers betrayed spouses chose on this multi-select question:

  1. 84% Commit to and participate in long term recovery work

  2. 69% Accept responsibility of their infidelity to others

  3. 61% Defend me to anyone who would be critical of me

  4. 58% Speak highly of me to others in public

  5. 56% Openly acknowledge my sacrifices for staying to others

  6. 53% Clearly communicate to their affair partner that I am the chosen one

  7. 41% Make amends to my family

MC has done most of these, but there are a few that could be stronger.

He has accepted responsibility to me, to our children, to our counselors, to the blogosphere. I shared a very tiny portion of our story with a few family members and friends. I guess there is a part of me that would like him to have a conversation with those people, and others who likely knew, doing the same. Then, I question whether it is even wise to do so? I have told those who know something of what happened that MC has taken and passed polygraphs, has given me a post-nuptial agreement, and had a vasectomy. I now see why I felt the need to do this, I was trying to show that I’m not just sitting idly by. It was a matter of pride, dignity and honor.

He went from never speaking about me at all, or making cutting “jokes” pre d-day, to saying nice things so much that I thought it appeared like over-compensation. I just want real recognition, in a moderate, genuine, consistent, and (one day) instinctual way. I don’t want over-the-top, but I don’t want the opposite either. I know he is trying and working on this.

He definitely let the 3rd AP, his last, know that she meant nothing and that I was the only one he ever truly loved. The first AP was 17 years ago and the second AP is dead. So, I just don’t know what could ever be done to restore my pride, dignity and honor where they are concerned.

But, I do think that restoring honor and dignity maybe crucial to being able to reach forgiveness. Until reading the AR article, I had not realized just how important. Otherwise, I am just going to feel like a schmuck. And/or maybe I need to find a way to not be so prideful. Now how to get there?

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8 thoughts on “Restoring dignity and honor

  1. This may be a strange thing to say but I don’t think your dignity and honour needs to be restored! I totally get where you’re coming from, but I believe you are owning your husband’s shame and disgrace. Drop them, they don’t belong to you by association. You have courtesy, courteousness, politeness, manners, good manners, mannerliness, civility, decorum, decency, propriety, breeding, respect, respectfulness;

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  2. Got cut off mid stream…. In other words you have grace. This cannot be extinguished by what someone else does – only by what you do. I lost my grace (publicly at times) when I had melt downs due to anger, frustration and easperation

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  3. Don’t know what’s happening with my computer tonight… read exasperation! However, this behaviour is understandable given my wretched circumstances. Adultery is neither understandable or excusable, but you experienced it as an outsider. Different.

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  4. MR, You’re right, his shame and disgrace do not belong to me. Too true. Perhaps there is something to that still a bit that I need to explore, I don’t know. And, yes, I certainly have lost my grace at times through this shit storm. G-d knows, that is true.

    Still, somehow, at this point I think it is more about bruised pride than a sense of shame, if that makes sense?

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  5. I just sent that list to my husband and asked him to ponder if he REALLY is FULLY doing all those things. That list touches on virtually all my major struggles right now. Specifically a point of contention has been his friends who covered for him, high fived him for his infidelity and embraced his “girlfriend”. I feel I, and our marriage, should be defended against those who do not wish us well. I too find myself bearing the burden of the shame and disgrace associated with HIS actions and HIS choices. And I wish I didn’t. Thank you for posting this. I agree with MR that we have to unload the burden of this shame. I am now reminded of this. xoxo

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  6. Right, babe. You should not feel shame. The nazi should feel shame, but the Holocaust victim should not. Still, the Holocaust victim was robbed of her dignity. She was dehumanized.

    Unlike the nazis, I am repentant. But, I know that’s not enough.

    I do wish to restore your dignity. I’ve tried everything I think might work. I’ll keep trying. I welcome advice from you, from counselors, and from readers on what else, specifically, I can do to help.

    As I learn more about the origins of my self-pity and unloving behavior, it seems to me I was the one who lost my humanity, not you. You were a victim, but you conducted yourself with honor, then and now. I, on the other hand, look to you as an example as I try to learn to be honorable.

    TL, I love you and I’m sorry I treated you so inhumanly. I know you feel like a fool for staying with me after all I’ve done to you.

    I’m damned lucky you’re still with me. And, that decision on your part makes you a courageous angel, not a fool.

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  7. The “shame” continues even now. At first it was societies belief that i must have done something wrong to make him go looking elsewhere (all these so-called experts on the Ashley Madison scandal who say this Site is just a symptom of something wrong in the marriage in the first place have me screaming at the radio and TV saying “OR your H can be an SA and it has nothing to do with you!”). After D Day it was facing the onslaught of friends and relatives who have said “I don’t know how you stay, I could never” (read “you’re an idiot for doing so.”). Even now, as he works his recovery, but does little to help me heal, there are friends who have faced infidelity, who see the work he is doing on himself (which their partners never did) and can’t understand why it’s not enough for me. They don’t see him getting angry at me for asking questions, continuing with his “little white lies,” or ignoring the pain I am in. The common denominator with all of these scenarios is that somehow I am to blame. I’m to blame for him straying, I’m to blame for being an idiot and staying with a cheater, and I’m to blame for not being “happy” and content with the fact that “at least he’s working on himself.” (point in fact it’s that he’s still self-centred that is the problem). I’m so tired of always having to explain myself. Why does no one seem to blame HIM?

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    1. Rad, I am sorry for your pain. No matter the details of our situations, it is a painful road to drive down.

      You are NOT to blame. He is responsible for his choices and for the pain it has brought to you, to your family, to your marriage and even to him. We need support around us to get through all this trauma, including from our husbands. Unfaithful spouses certainly need a lot of professional help. Still, I firmly believe that an unfaithful spouse absolutely cannot be allowed to use their own fear and/or shame as a shield from their betrayed spouse’s pain.

      I know MC and I are going about this all a little differently than some programs out there would advocate, but there is just no way I could have made it through trying to reconcile (finding out everything while overseas, away from family) had he not worked on developing his empathy, understanding the pain he caused to all of us, stepping up to help me through, while at the same time digging deep to figure out his own shit. I don’t think these things have to occur consecutively. In fact, they can occur concurrently.

      You’ve been through horrific trauma. And to be left flapping in the wind adds insult to injury. You deserve love, understanding and support. I hope your husband will give that to you. Regardless of your husband, I hope you are able to find that with friends, family and, at the least, within yourself.

      TL xx

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