We’re both tortured

My husband told our counselor that I am torturing him.  He says that I remind him of his affair every day and throw it in his face.  He says I am not in pain anymore.  I just torture him with the thought of it.   The counselor did not ask for examples or for confirmation from me.  He looked at me and said, “When you do these things, you are not building up the relationship.  You are in the Punishment Box.”

Let me start by saying that I do not believe this.  I do not bring up the affair every day.  I try very hard not to.  If I made him aware of every time I thought about his affair, we’d be talking about it many times every hour of every day.

He will not accept this, but he has triggers just like me and I think those triggers are what make him think I am reminding him of it every day.  In actuality, all I need to do is get a faraway look in my eyes and he thinks I am thinking about his affair and that is a reminder to him.  A couple weeks ago, I was talking to my daughter about a book that my online coach ecommended to me.  He got mad and said I was throwing it in his face again. What?  The only thing I can think of is that he knows that my coach told me about that book.  So the book reminds him of my coach.  Thinking about my coach reminds him that I need someone to help me put my life back together.  Thinking about that reminds him of his affair.  So that’s how I remind him all the time about his affair.  Did I really do something purposeful to throw it in his face?  I don’t think so.

The only other time I was aware that I was reminding him of it recently was this past weekend. I was sitting on the love seat after lunch.  Sitting there is an accomplishment for me.  That was where I was sitting when I found all those emails.  That’s where I see myself when I have a flashback.  But I can sit there again — pat myself on the back for that one.   I was spazzing and looking out the window. I was trying to remember what it felt like to be me before his affair. I’ve forgotten. It was so long ago. Seven years is a long time to hurt. The hurt was different before D-day. It wasn’t all-consuming and devastating, but it was still pain. Pain that we were not connecting, that something was amiss. Then later thinking that something was wrong with him and I didn’t seem to be able to get through to him. I thought he needed help but he wouldn’t let me help him.

So what did it feel like to be me before 2004? What did it feel like to be connected and wrapped up in the secure love of a man I cherished? What does it feel like to be unscathed by heartache and betrayal? I don’t remember anymore.

I was thinking these things and staring out the window when my husband came into the room. I turned my head to look at him and did not try to hide the pain. He saw it. His face darkened in anger and he went outside. We did not talk again until bed time.

I wasn’t sticking it to him or torturing him. More like torturing myself, I think. I’m sorry if my pain is a reminder to him, but it’s there. What do I do with that? Cover it all up and make like nothing happened?   Put on a happy face and make like I have no pain and that I want to rebuild our relationship even if that means disregarding any issues I have?  That seems to be what our counselor wants me to do.

What about the reminders for me? What about the callous remarks and staying out late and going to the office without telling me on weekends – things he knows damned well are triggers for me.  What about the fact that those emails are still on his computer? For over a year, he has promised to get rid of them, but they are still there.  What about him telling his friend, in my presence, all about this certain company and how it operates.  It’s where his OW works so naturally he knows all about it. All the reminders… I am tortured, too.  Is he not also in the Punishment Box?

BUT I have also tried to see it from his perspective.   I don’t think he is lying when he says he feels tortured. He is really feeling that.  And if I talk about needing my feelings validated, should I not also be concerned about validating his feelings? How do I do that without accepting his unrealistic perceptions of my actions?

So we are both tortured and both in pain.  But is his pain because he had to give up the love of his life or because he hurt me?  Or maybe both?  I don’t trust what he says about it.  I cannot be married to him if I am not the one he loves above all others, the one he wants at his side when he takes his last breath.  I don’t know how to move beyond that.

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4 thoughts on “We’re both tortured

  1. Caroline says:

    Doesn’t he see that when you show your hurt he should be wrapping you in his arms and holding you tight. That’s what I’d want.

    Letting you pour out your grief and your hurt. Stand there and let it all wash over him so you can voice all your feelings. Not defend himself but take it on the chin and then hold you close.

    I wish you close enough to see my Relationship Coach. I’m sure he could help you both.

    Sadly I didn’t find him in time to save my marriage. But he’s helped me no end to come to terms with all my angst

    This is his blog

    http://www.stephenhedger.com/relationships/blog/

  2. Not Over It says:

    Thank you so much, Caroline. I will look him up asap. Interesting, what you say is exactly what I told him I needed. Once in a while, he does it. But most of the time, he says he can’t and he says I am torturing him by reminding him of his transgressions. He says I stick in his face. Sigh…

  3. aaron says:

    Dear Not Over It:

    I have read all of your entries to date and am blown away by the uncanny resemblance of your situation and mine. The main difference is that it was my wife who got involved with an old love who first contacted her in 2005. That EA went undetected by me until July of this year. I have read hundreds of emails and Facebook posts from that period and after reading some of the things she said to him I don’t know if I will ever be able to trust her love for me again. I have experienced many of the emotions as you describe them, though I am only 4 months post D-day and am sure my journey has a long way yet to go.

    Right now I am struggling in part because I don’t think she fully appreciates the hurt she has caused me and the betrayal I felt. She expressed remorse early on but now wants us to “focus on the future” instead of “dwelling on the past.”

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi Aaron,

      Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that you are going through this hell, too. I would not wish this upon my worst enemy. No wait, I take that back. I would wish it upon his OW. Ha!

      At four months out, you are probably still in shock. Heck, my therapist says I am still in shock after 13 months. Be kind to yourself. Find things that will bring you some relief from the pain. For me, it was exercise. I do workouts, I take dance classes, I walk, I swim – I do some form of exercise every day. For me, it’s the best medicine. I’m going to post about that soon.

      I have learned that it is of the utmost importance that the cheating spouse validate the feelings of the betrayed spouse. That is the biggest thing I am struggling with, too. My husband doesn’t get it, either. In order to move forward, we need to resolve the past. I have an online therapist for my own issues, and as couple we are seeing a psychologist who specializes in couples counseling. My therapist has urged me to make this clear to our counselor with these exact words: I need to have my feelings validated in order to resolve the past before I can move forward in rebuilding the relationship.

      I would never have thought I would ever need a personal therapist and a marriage counselor, but here I am. Sounds kinda funny – I need my therapist to help me with my counselor.

      I hope you can find a way to move forward with your wife. Keep in touch so we can learn from each other’s experiences!

      DJ

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