My husband and I just had another huge fight. He had agreed to talk or read with me once a week. That was the best progress in a long time! I decided that we should read together an ebook that I learned about from a fellow blogger – Robin at http://nowimastatistic.wordpress.com/ It’s called “How to Help Your Spouse Heal from an Affair.” I skimmed a couple pages and thought it looked good so I thought it would be a good way to start a conversation with him. I need for him to validate my feelings and the book gets right into that at the very beginning.
We read a few pages and came to this:
“Another challenge for strayers is their lack of understanding the depth of the injuries they have inflicted on their spouses. They frequently struggle finding empathy for their offended partners for three main reasons: • the ego boost from feeling wanted by the lover • the unfair contrast between the affair partner and the wounded spouse • the tendency to be emotionally self-consumed.”
He said this was not him at all. Not one of them. I said, “But didn’t you say that a big part of it for you was the good feelings you got because she wanted you. I would say that’s an ego boost. And you’ve talked about how selfish it was.”
He said that there was no ego boost. And he was not selfish, although the affair was a selfish act. And he said he never compared me to her. That last one is right there in the emails in black and white.
Then he said that I didn’t understand the paragraph. I raised my eyebrow at him. “I don’t understand what I’m reading?”
He said that he did not struggle with empathy and he did not have those problems. I said that that may be so, and the author did say frequently, not always, but the fact that he doesn’t feel that’s true doesn’t mean I don’t understand the paragraph.
Then he started raging. He said he couldn’t handle this. He said he wasn’t going to do anymore anything concerning the past. And he stomped off. I stomped off to the bedroom and lay in bed for an hour.
Then I went back into the living room where he was lying down on the couch in the dark. I nudged him roughly. He opened his eyes but would not look at me. “Do you want to make this marriage work?” I asked. He would not respond. The entire thing ended up being a monologue.
“After what you did to me, you don’t get to say that you don’t want to read something about recovery with me. You don’t get to call the shots. I call the shots. If you don’t like it, well that’s too damn bad. If our marriage is going to survive, we will have to work on both our needs, not just yours. Otherwise, we will end up as Number four in the book – detain and torture until the marriage slowly dies.”
I waited for some moments for a reaction. He would not, so I continued.
“If we are going to make this work, you are going to have to help me in the ways that I need… that I need. If that’s uncomfortable for you, well, that’s a consequence for your betrayal.”
More waiting. No response.
“The doctor kept saying that you chose me. Well, I chose you, too. I chose to stay with you even though I was humiliated and hurt beyond belief. I could have made you miserable. You think you are miserable now? That’s nothing compared to what I could have done to you. But I chose to stay and love you and work through it all. That means doing hard and agonizing work to resolve the past before we can move forward. You either have to work with me or we need to end it.”
And I went into the dining room to my computer, and here I am writing my blog. He went to bed.
It really does feel like detain and torture sometimes. And I was just drafting a post this evening about how we still manage to have fun together…
I know that I am in the Punishment Box, as our counselor calls it, but I am sick and tired of pussyfooting around him, hiding all my pain and making like everything is fine. He is loving and caring and helpful as long as I never bring up his affair or dare to look sad. Everything is on his terms so he gets to forget and move on, while I’m still stuck back here and in pain. So I’m supposed to suffer in silence from now on, never addressing my pain and misery? I’m having second thoughts about that. And third… and fourth, too.