How to restore your dignity and give you the experiences I denied you?

Dear betrayed spouses, can you help me out here? Can you help me see the way forward through your eyes? Perhaps there are no good answers to my questions. Perhaps there are several competing, or complementary, good answers.

Your husband (or wife) humiliated you, ignored your feelings, and disregarded your love, beauty, intelligence, caring, loyalty, and hard work. They were so caught up in a shameful life of adultery and betrayal that they did a piss-poor job of hiding their behavior from neighbors, community members, co-workers, and people who know you. Now you cringe whenever you wonder how much those people know.  

What do they know that you don’t know? When did they know it? Why did they not tell you? Do they think less of you now for not divorcing your cheating spouse? Do they think less of you for not discovering the truth sooner?  

And, what of your disloyal spouse’s affair partners? Do they think they are better than you or that they shared more with your mate than you do? Do they continue to think that?  

Did your cheating spouse have a friend who knew the full story and then helped deceive you? Why don’t you get an apology, or any acknowledgement, from that person too?

With all these doubts that your spouse created in you — nagging doubts, like an itch you can never scratch, or like someone spitting on you in public while the whole world just ignores the situation — can your spouse do anything to help you?  

Is there anything he or she could do to alleviate some of your pain or restore some of your dignity? I’ve tried a few things, with limited success. But, before I say more, I’d like to hear your perspectives.

In addition to the loss of your dignity, your spouse also unjustly gave things to an affair partner that should have been saved for you. Maybe your husband took the other woman to some romantic retreat in a way he never had for you. You had always told yourself that just wasn’t his style. But, then you learned it could be his style, but he had just never bothered to do it for you. Maybe your cheating wife gave the other man oral sex, after years of telling you that she just wasn’t into that sort of thing. And these examples are just two of many, just the tip of the iceberg.

Is there anything your cheating spouse can do to rectify such injustice? How can he turn back the clock and give irreplaceable moments to you now that those moments have passed? How can he un-break your heart? I think I know the answer, but I hope I’m wrong.

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13 thoughts on “How to restore your dignity and give you the experiences I denied you?

  1. Dear MLC,

    First of all I want to thank you and TL for your writings as you both have helped me and countless other couples who are trying to make it work.

    In turn, I have helped couples who were referred to me, with the knowledge the Bloggers “who get it” have given to me. You suggested the booklet by Linda J. McDonald and I have been distributing it to those who just experienced D-day and they are taking the right path to healing from the get go…and not years after. They read it and they come to see me and we work through their plan and the pain. I told my couples that the booklet was suggested by a couple who went through the same, and hereby a thanks from them.

    All the suffering is not for nothing. I one time wrote about memory (Elizabeth Loftus) and about the most famous little book by Victor Frankl, and although not many read this post, I still believe that it has something crucial in it as we all have to accept what has happened and take from it what we have gained to carry on. We cannot let the past keep on intruding in our present and ruin our future. We owe it to ourselves and our children.

    The above can only be decided by those who are betrayed and only when they are ready. Some are moving faster than others but all have in common that they experience off days with bad thoughts and a feeling that all is lost (and then it is time to seek support).

    What helps me is that my husband asks me “what do you need right now?”
    I will tell him and he will give it to me. It are simple things. I hate it that I had to teach him what to say to me. I absolutely hate it that I had to do most of the work and that he became a follower, while I needed a pro-active partner. But he does ask me now “what do you need?”

    The feelings you describe in your post, I have those. Deep inside I know that it makes no sense to feel humiliated and all those other feelings …as I did nothing wrong, and cannot take responsibility for his actions. He was another person,when he did the worst of the worst, or more accurately, it was a side of him I do not like. He despises that side too. I am grateful for that.

    I know that some people knew, and that they kept it for themselves, and some even loved the gossip. I will never be one of those and that makes me a better person. My husband was delusional and really thought that he had kept it secret as he was “discrete”. That memory of him being delusional and ridiculous I have to push away as it gets me furious and it was not even that long ago that he still believed this.

    [deep sigh]

    I think what I need from my husband is to focus on me and the kids. It means a different mindset for him. It was work and colleagues first and it was so sacred that I had to accept and could not question anything. That needs to be all gone. He can not assume anything and has to ask me questions and listen to what I say. He can no longer use passive aggressive behaviours and he can not avoid issues.
    He can not use any form of deception, also when he uses it to protect me, as that is insulting.
    I need him to acknowledge and validate all as long as I need it. I need his support when I have a panic attack in public. I need his full understanding how that feels and what I need at those times.
    I want him to share his stuff with me. I want WE and not a soloist for a husband. I want to heal together and I need him to acknowledge that he is in pain too.
    Last but not least, as he was a coward, I want him to shed that insincere layer and be brave.
    …and maybe I am asking too much…but that is what I need.

    Elisabeth

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This phrase speaks to me: “He was another person, when he did the worst of the worst, or more accurately, it was a side of him I do not like. He despises that side too. I am grateful for that.”

      I think we are all both good and evil, with some of us less balanced than others. I was way out of balance, and that’s what I trying to correct.

      I’ll read on, but I just wanted to mention that.

      Thanks for your reply. I was hoping to hear from you on this topic.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. This also describes me perfectly: “My husband was delusional and really thought that he had kept it secret as he was “discrete”. That memory of him being delusional and ridiculous I have to push away as it gets me furious and it was not even that long ago that he still believed this.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. …an afterthought. We tried, or more honestly, he tried to create new memories and we went on trips. Unfortunately, the timing was not right, as he had not done the basics (see above), and therefore those new experiences are clouded and I even have forgotten a lot. I was in too much pain to enjoy these experiences.

    So, I believe, and I truly do, that we can heal, but that the creation of new memories needs to be carefully paced.

    I do not want you both to lose hope. There are scars, but I want to use these to become stronger and I am not letting the APs: The bitches and arseholes win !

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Can he un-break my heart? No, I don’t think that is possible. If I were injured and lost a limb, it would be gone forever. My only hope would be to learn to adapt to this new limitation or to possibly get a prosthetic limb, but it would never be exactly the same as before. This is how I feel about my heart. The scars are there forever, even if I am eventually able to heal.

    I think you are asking about making restitution, and I do think this is possible. My husband is working at becoming a better man – the man I married and thought to be my soulmate. It is way too soon for me to believe that this is going to last – it never has when he has tried before – but I am seeing effort and am encouraged. He is focusing on doing the little things that make me feel special to him such as getting up early with me every day and having my coffee ready when I come out of the shower. It is not a grand gesture but it’s the small things that create intimacy and trust in my view. I see this as a step towards restitution. But there is a very long way to go; there is much more to do and it must be consistent for a very long time before I feel I can exhale.

    Regarding his AP’s, I believe that at least one of them was led to believe that I was a terrible wife who didn’t understand him and didn’t allow him to be himself. It nearly killed me to learn that he portrayed me in this way. This idea is almost laughable to me now, as she was getting just as false a version of him as I was. He didn’t even know who he was back then, so I’m sure neither did she. But I am sure that she felt she had a leg up on me because of their secret affair. I don’t know her, so I don’t care much about her opinion of me. She is gone now, and that’s that.

    As far as any other women he has been involved with, I don’t think they gave me any more thought than my husband did, but probably they all thought they had something on me by being sexual with him. That still hurts a lot, and I try not to think about it.

    Regaining my dignity is my own work, and I need to detach my own self-worth from my husband’s behavior. That is hard to do. When the one person I have loved with all my heart chooses to lie, cheat and betray me in the worst way imaginable, it is difficult to tell myself that I’m ok. But I am getting there. I must remind myself that his choices were his own, and I was not the cause of them. You can help your wife with this by treating her with dignity and respect consistently. Make this a daily habit. And remind her that she did not cause you to act out. You alone own that.

    The bottom line is that there is nothing my husband can SAY that will change anything. His words have been nothing but BS in the past, so what he says has zero meaning to me. Actions speak much louder than words, and I need his respect, consideration, thoughtfulness, commitment, honesty, and comfort. I need to see it and to feel it.

    I’ve heard that in recovery we will have a better marriage than we have ever had. I am hopeful that over time, we will be able to have the kind of marriage that I signed up for when we took our vows 32 years ago.

    I appreciate you and TL and your willingness to share your journey on this blog. I also applaud you for posting this question and giving a voice to all of us betrayed spouses. We need to be seen and heard. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This line is familiar to me personally: “He didn’t even know who he was back then, so I’m sure neither did she.”

      At age forty-six, I’ve only rather recently learned some things about the world, other people, and myself that I should have learned back in (chronological) adolescence. I wouldn’t want people to think they know me based on how I behaved five years ago, any more than I would want them to think they know me based on how I behaved at age 13.

      Wow. It’s sort of shocking to think of what I just wrote, as I sit here and look at my 13-year old son. I hope I won’t push so hard on him that I drive him away from any potential to learn from wisdom I gained only after decades of wrong thinking.

      It sounds like your husband and I are trying some of the same things. Good luck to all four of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think sometimes I still experience a state of total shock. Who is this person? Who was this person? Is my reality ever going to be truly real, knowing that such reality can and will be influenced by the actions and choices of others. I want to believe what I see, but can I ever really do that again?

    Of course, when I really think about what I saw prior to d-day in MC, he was not a loving, kind, empathetic person. He never enjoyed thinking about or talking about our life together, our memories together, our future together. In fact, he seemed irritated at such topics.

    I think of injustice, humiliation, of being cast aside and I realize these feelings predate MC, but what he did added a shit ton more of straws to this camel’s back. And, I am really just so tired of always picking myself up and being knocked back down. I know it is up to me. But, G-d has given me more than I can handle and I live in anticipation of the next straw to be laid on this camel’s back. I just want someone to remove some of the damn straws.

    Wonderful, he is no longer adding to those straws. Wonderful, he is dedicated to never adding to those straws again. But, it doesn’t take away the straws that he already put there. It doesn’t take away the straws that were there prior and it doesn’t prevent other straws from being added by other circumstances. I just don’t know how to carry that burden.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. TL,
      I could have written this. The shock “he really did this, how could he”, I still have that…
      When we are trying to be good together, I have this sudden thought of “he did this”, as it is never really gone…as if the thoughts are dormant ready to surface. The realisation and the shock has left this after affect somewhere in my brain. It might be there to caution me to be careful and not to trust too easily.
      I feel that his validation and patient understanding can help me. Set backs are his expression of frustration and the times he becomes defensive.
      We are learning to talk through these.

      He just said that the scale is not in balance, and that is true. He however, needs to do these things (the work) to show me that I can trust him. He needs to do more than me. Seeing it out of context, seems like I am “controlling” and we are out of balance, but seeing it through the lens of our entire marriage, provides a more honest picture. We were out of balance and he is the one that needs to restore it.

      Thank you!

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I’ve listened to a Podcast the other day where the statement was made: “In the past, people got divorced because they were unhappy. These days people get divorced because they believe they can be happier.”

    The truth is that there is no reset button on what has been done, but the change has to happen in your heart. Looking at your spouse and thinking :”I can’t be happier. This is my person. I want to spend the rest of my life with this person.” Choose to make your person feel that he/she is the only one that matters to you.

    And then, be cautious of the little foxes that destroy a marriage. It starts with an innocent whatsapp message and then before you know it, it becomes something more. One has to realize that people who cheat aren’t evil. They aren’t bad people. They’ve just allowed little foxes in that changed their views of their partners. GET RID OF THE LITTLE FOXES.

    I hope this helps…

    Liked by 1 person

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