I am a forty-ish man, married, with two exceptional children and a wife who comes from a lineage of fiery, yet saintly, personalities. I am a convert who, unfortunately, has not held fast to the devout fervor characteristic of many converts I have met and experienced.
Prior to meeting my wife, and prior to my conversion, I was sexually promiscuous; my normal state of being was lustful and my carnal appetite could be voracious at times. As a young man in the US armed forces, I felt it was my due to be a on the sexual hunt at all times- it was as much the norm as eating or breathing. When I was on 6-month deployment, I addressed that urge by watching hardcore pornography videos in my workshop with my co-workers. In fact, my exposure to pornography and sexually impure material goes all the way back to my pre-teen days. It would not be inaccurate to say that its influence of sexual perversion is deeply ingrained into me.
When I started going out seriously with my wife-to-be I revealed to her once that I had solicited prostitution while in the armed services overseas. Her reaction was one of shock and drama; her reaction frightened me, and I was falling in love with her deeply and didn’t want to lose her, so I told her I only did it once. Later on that year, she had a problem with me and was unsure if I was telling the truth about EVERYTHING, and I spilled it at that point- I revealed to her every sexual encounter I could remember up to the time I began getting serious about her, and she violently walked out on me. I felt my soul ripping apart and I couldn’t stand being without her. Eventually she began talking to me again, and it almost seemed as if we were being re-acquainted. It was shortly thereafter that I began my RCIA experience and was baptized/confirmed the following spring. But things had changed; she demanded I promise her I wouldn’t watch TV anymore by myself because so much of it seems to sell sex to a male audience, she would get incensed whenever I happened to see an advertisement of an alluring nature; she even got to the point of demanding I promise her I wouldn’t read the sports page of the newspaper anymore because of its strip club ads. I made these promises because I didn’t want to lose her, but I was resentful that she could make such an association with these seemingly conventional, innocuous behaviors I had engaged in most of my life. So I began to live a life in the shadows. There were times that she would discover that I had watched the TV by myself, or had read the sports page, and there would be a big blow-up, but eventually we would reconcile. Yet it just drove me deeper into the shadows.
The shadows became even darker when I began to work in the computer field and discovered that people would post pornographic pictures on dial-up bulletin boards, the predecessor of the internet. I began to slide back into a life that I had abandoned for good after meeting the love of my life, and found that my appetite for porn and masturbation was just as voracious as it had been; but now, I went through stages of guilt and remorse for my misdeeds. I would stop for a while and repent; my tempestuous relationship blossomed into marriage, and soon produced a beautiful baby. Yet my aberrant behavior did not stop; it became even more chronic when the Internet seemed to make porn a staple of its existence. I discovered the anonymity of chat rooms early on, and had virtual trysts with disembodied females in parts unknown. When it was discovered that I was married by one of them, it ended in remorse for my actions and fear that I might be caught. Though I discontinued that practice, I still accessed porn on the internet. At the surface world, my wife continued to have issues with me and what she perceived; that I looked at other women, that I looked at the lurid magazine racks at the grocery store checkout, that I watched too much TV when we were at her parents’ house. I reacted in anger and denial, and we would fight, then reconcile. It was getting really old. Our relationship began to really suffer; I felt that she didn’t try to catch my eye anymore and she felt I acted like just one more of her children when she needed a man. It was becoming depressingly clear to me that she was determined never to ease in her approach to me and what I did on the surface, so I became even more deceptive and deeper in the shadows. I began to entertain the idea of an affair, if ever the opportunity came my way, just so I could have the sex I felt was my due. Yet my spirit, my conscience, and my fear kept me in check. I also had a feeling that the Lord would somehow remove the temptation by causing something to happen.
I am a forty-ish man, married, with two exceptional children and a wife who comes from a lineage of fiery, yet saintly, personalities. I am a convert who, unfortunately, has not held fast to the devout fervor characteristic of many converts I have met and experienced.
Then one day I received an unexpected e-mail from a woman I hadn’t spoken to in many, many years. We had dated in high school; in fact, she was the first girl I dated on a regular basis and I had remembered her with a bittersweet fondness. She found my e-mail address on one of the many ‘re-connect’ websites out there, and decided to try to contact me. When she finally did, she said she had tried to reach me several times. I was flattered, and I was lonely, feeling that no one really knew me, or accepted me. We began to exchange e-mails catching up, and progressed to speaking from the heart on many issues. We started having phone conversations while I was at work, and having instant messenger chats when I was at home. It began to feel like a relationship rekindled, and stronger than before, even though we were never, at any time, closer than half a country apart. I told my wife that I had received an e-mail from her, and when the e-mails continued, my wife warned me that this woman’s intentions were not pure, and I needed to stay away from her. Well, I just added that to the end of the list of things she had ‘forbidden’ me from, and my shadow life was soon at its darkest. My long-distance affair became more torrid; we proclaimed our love, and soon began engaging in explicit sexual IM conversation which climaxed with masturbation. I managed to keep this hidden from my wife, and continued with it even through my wife’s cancer scare. I was a less than attentive father, and even less so a husband. My wife told me how ugly I was to her, and I have no reason now to doubt her perception. I continued to behave in such a depraved fashion until I began to have serious questions and soul checks about what I was doing after agreeing to participate in a Catholic family educational fellowship. I began to slowly extricate myself from what I had been doing with this woman many miles away, but didn’t want to lose her friendship, even if we communicated only occasionally.
Then one evening I was called into the house by my wife after working in the back yard. She led me to the computer where she confronted me about all the e-mails of mine to and from this woman she found, when she went to check her own e-mail. I stammered and felt the cold chill of doom; she removed her wedding band and threw it to the floor, never to put it on again. The entire house had never felt such pain before, nor ever since; my beautiful children were devastated, as their mother told them how I had betrayed all of them. She packed them all up, the children crying inconsolably, and headed off to her sister’s, telling me to have my stuff out of the house the next morning.
Amazingly, it was her mother who extended the hand to me to come stay with her while I was out of the house. A firm and earnest woman, we proceeded to have a long and frank discussion about what had happened and what she had observed of me ever since I came to the family. She knew I came from a dysfunctional home; she did not want me marrying her daughter in the first place but she left it as her daughter’s adult decision to stay with me. She told me that I had a responsibility to my children, which I never thought of shirking for a moment, and told me to end any and all communication with the other woman, which I had already done the night I was caught. After her long conversation with me, she concluded that I was earnest in my contrition, and that she felt her daughter could give me a chance to make good, but only if she agreed. I went to Confession, I was absolved- and felt a most amazing peace I had not had in so long. I was then accepted back home.
I wish that were the happy ending of my story, but things have never been the same, and probably never will be. Before, my wife believed that, no matter what faults I have, that I loved her and could never betray her with another woman; the virtualized nature of my relationship with the other woman has in no way diminished the fact of the infidelity. She demanded I come clean with her, and I told her that I had looked at other women for a long time, some of whom I did with lustful thoughts. She found this totally unacceptable. She has told me repeatedly since then that I crossed a line with her that she swore to herself she would never allow crossed, and that my infidelity is a ‘deal-breaker’.
I have attended diocesan counseling, we have attended Retrouvaille, and I repented of and kicked the habit of masturbation once and for all. I honor the Sacrament of Reconciliation much more frequently than ever before, and say the Rosary regularly. These behaviors I have implemented in my own life since my sin- it’s been over two years since. Yet my wife still doubts she knows who I really am because of all of the years of deception and life in the shadows.
She says I know nothing of love; admittedly I am poor at pursuit after so many years of being with her. She says she feels unfulfilled with our relationship, and not comfortable being intimate with some in whom she has no trust. I have even more reason to fear that she will leave me in the years to come, as she has resumed her college career and is pursuing a Nursing degree, determined to have financial independence.
She says she will never forget, will never get over it.
I love her. Can somebody help?
Talk to your priest, and seek Catholic marriage counseling.
While she says you know nothing of love, to me it seems she doesn’t either.
These are the things that I think indicate your WIFE has issues:
*]requiring you, a grown man, to watch tv and read the sports page with a chaperone
*]being paranoid about you looking at magazine covers in the checkout counter of the grocery store
*]demanding to know details of your past indiscretions-- you “come clean” in confession, your past sins (especially before you met or were even baptized) are not her business
*]telling the children you have betrayed them
ALL of this is manipulative and childish
Yes, you did some things that were wrong. BUT, she has in no way lovingly supported you. She has looked down on you and had a “holier than thou” attitude (at least that is how she and her family are coming across to me).
SO, what I’m saying is that as long as you hold your head down and whip yourself for past mistakes the longer you will be miserable. You can only change YOU… so keep working on the pornography/masterbation issue, join www.dads.org and obtain some books on Catholic fatherhood.
Show her you have changed by your actions, not your words. Yes, it will take time.
But, stop allowing her to have unreasonable control over your life-- read the sports page by yourself for goodness sake!
I’m not looking for fingers pointing in any direction; I can only account for myself. I’m the one looking for help- this may sound morbid, but I don’t want to stand before my Creator one day knowing I could have done more.
I made a promise that Retrouvaille was the last thing I would ask her to do. I happen to believe that if ever we are in front of a priest again together, she will be asking for annulment.
No disrespect intended and I appreciate your reply… but are there any women out there who might be able to help me read the tea leaves of my wife’s psyche? I know she hurts- IMO she’s just a LOT more expressive than the majority of people, and that’s why it comes out the way it does.
What really makes all of this painful is that when she lets her guard down, we are as tender and loving as any married couple can be. It’s just when she feels she’s been ignored or taken for granted that she starts to feel used, and then the intimacy disappears like morning fog.
If any women are out there who have had this happen to you, how long can I expect the wound to be still so raw?
Oh… just to lay it out real good… her father was a Franciscan for 16 years and was the pastor of Corpus Christi parish on the South Side (Chicago) prior to the pangs of wanting his own family proved too great to ignore. AND… her mom was a nun. And NO… they didn’t know each other until after they had each left their respective orders. Maybe now you might know where her very STRONG convictions come from.
I have to say, I can understand your wife completely as I think I am very similar to her.
Wow, sorry to say, if I were her, It would take me years to even think of getting close again.
This is one area that I absolutely cannot deal with. And unfortunately, alot of my reactions are not rational. I can understand her demanding you not do this, not do that. I did similar with my husband.
It goes back a long way with me as to why it bothers me so much. I was always so insecure, having 2 major relationships end in them leaving me for other women. My first husband had many affairs before he left me and our 4 children for a 19yo.
But I think I have softened a bit now, (also because this is one area I feel I can completely trust him)
She will be hurting a huge amount, betrayal is the big one. She feels as if she wasn’t enough for you as you had to look elsewhere. It’s damaged her self esteem.
You need to remind her that it was ‘your’ problem and ‘your’ addiction and had nothing to do with how attractive you found her.
Because THIS is the big thing to us women. It hurts SO much as we think we are not good enough.
If she really loves you and can take the risk, she needs to be there by your side and help you beat this addiction, (as you seem to already have) and all I can say is, give her NO reason to ever doubt you again. Have NOTHING secret from her, in fact, don’t have an email account or even the internet, if that is possible. This will show her you are serious.
If this was me, I would get over it eventually and would be suspicious for a very long time, but time will heal.
This is a hard one, because the pain is all she sees and feels, she cannot get past it at the moment. She needs time on her own to try to work through that. But like I said, if she can see this as an addiction, much like smoking etc, she may be able to try to understand things a little better. But give her time…lots of it.
I will pray for you and I hope things improve…
I’m a woman…
By what you’ve been saying, looks like you’re doing what you can. You’ve repented, you’re doing your best to stay chaste with your wife. All this to keep your marriage.
I’m wondering - what was her feelings like after counseling and Retrouvaille? Did she say that she would do her part in maintaining your marriage? She must’ve at least learned something about forgiveness during those sessions. Maybe, if she shows any type of willingness, she needs to get additional counseling by herself regarding her own trust issues.
A marriage doesn’t work if both the husband and wife are committed to making it work. I pray that your situation gets better for you.
Your story is almost identical to mine & my husband’s, even down to his “resentment” of me (which he fabricated as an excuse to continue his behaviors). He was not faithful throughout almost all of our marriage. He kept it very well hidden and I trusted him completely. Then I found out through an email. . .
That was just over 5 years ago. As I remember it, after 2 years we were still having much trouble and were on the verge of divorce. Things are so much better now. I trust my husband again. You both need time. Your wife’s world has been turned upside down, its going to take alot of time. You will need to regain her trust, but that’s going to take alot of time and effort on your part. You will have to be where you tell her you’re going to be, do what you tell her you’ll be doing (and with whom). You can not have any secrets from her (that includes birthday, anniversary gifts, no more surprises ). That’s how you will rebuild her trust. Its not easy, for either one of you, but it can be done. Yeah, she’s still going to hurt for some time. And that, I’m afraid, is your cross to bear. How you bear it is your choice.
Pray the rosary, go to Eucharistic Adoration, try to get to daily mass and weekly confession. All that helped my husband. He also went to an SLAA group once a week as well as counseling with a therapist that is trained in sexual addictions. He still goes once a month and is on medication for depression (the addiction feeds the depression as well as the depression feeding the addiction).
Your wife will have to work out her feelings. Its very difficult because of the emotion involved. She will go through the classic stages of grief because she has lost something dear to her. Learn what they are so you can help her, show her you love her by being there for her. Keep dialoguing, its important.
I stopped wearing my wedding rings too. Last year we bought new ones, white gold instead of yellow gold to symbolize our marriage “being refined as through fire”.
There is hope. But there is much work and I’m afraid you’re going to feel like you’re doing all of it but you each give 100% to the marriage. Stay strong, get counseling, be accountable and responsible. Pray hard. Trust God, He loves you both. Look up my handle Wisdom 3:5.
I am not sure what else you can do. It seems like you are trying your hardest to change. I can understand your wife being so hurt & devastated, but didn’t you say this happened 2 yrs ago? Has she been able to move on at all & forgive or is she just going through the motions, but not really happy?
I was very insecure & checked up on my husband constantly when we were dating & the first few yrs. He is a computer programmer & knows all the tricks to remove files if he wanted. He has never done anything that I know of for me not to trust him, but I am still suspicious. I am a lot better now after 9 yrs together.
Did you have a real physical affair or just online? I am sure just the fact that you were e-mailing other woman was enough. I would be so devastated if I found out my hubby was chatting online muchless having sexual conversations. Hopefully, yall can work through this. I think if it wasn’t a true physical relationship it would be easier to forgive. It sounds like you had a true sex addiction & I am sure that is very hard to recover from.
Do you still have fun with your wife & is she happy? Do yall laugh & enjoy life or has this completely ruined your marriage?
Does she approve of you being online even it is a Catholic Forum?
Hope it works out!
Well, I had typed up a long response but the internet service in the hotel reset me and I lost my reply (I’m out of town on business but on my way home this morning).
I heard after 5 years one of you was a lot better with your husband, but after two years it was still raw. Would you consider that a good formula or, given what I have revealed of my wife, do you think she still won’t be able to stomach it? Or does it depend on how I manage the issue?
One of you asked how she would feel about my being here looking for help- well, she is a very private person but I am trying to guard her anonymity as best I can. Perhaps it depends on context, seeing as I am talking to other committed (I assume) Catholic members of the Body of Christ, but the short answer is… I don’t know. All I know is I want to save my marriage and I am not particular in where I find the help at this point.
My affair was online in nature- I was never closer to her physically than half a country away. One of you suggested that I disavow myself of computer/internet- well, I’m one of those computer guys who ‘knows all the tricks’- it is my family’s livelihood. Until my wife is done with school (or if one of you has a crop dusting aircraft available real cheap :)) I don’t see that happening.
What can you suggest as good ideas in the realm of romantic pursuit? She’s a ‘less is more’ person, which, oddly enough, makes it really hard to make it really good and make her feel special. I’m a slug when it comes to romantic ideas- my idea of a happy marriage, though it may seem a little strange to some of you, is the absence of fighting. When we get along, we laugh and joke all the time and I love her for that. Any help is appreciated.
Dude, I **am **a woman. And, the way I read the tea leaves of your wife’s psyche is included in my last post. I would never treat **my **husband the way your wife has treated you from the beginning of your relationship.
I’m sure she does hurt. The online relationship was emotional infidelity. Rebuilding trust, as I said, will be a matter of your actions and not your words. Continue to demonstrate your committment to her. Be open and honest. I do suggest you join a group of other Catholic men, such as www.dads.org.
There is no magic bullet. BUT, honestly, you are seem to be walking around like a whipped dog begging for her to heap more insult on top of you. She is holding everything from your past over you-- even the things that came prior to her or your conversion to the Faith.
I think she has some issues, and I think she’s inflicting unnecessary pain on you and your children, that’s all I’m saying.
She’s already stated she’ll never forgive, never forget. So, honestly, I don’t know what she plans to do. She has to be a part of the healing. And, right now it seems she doesn’t want to heal. She’s holding on to it tightly, maybe to punish you.
It may take forever, I really don’t know. She has to want to work on herself too, and forgiving. That’s why I recommended the priest and Catholic marriage counseling.
Strong and strange are not the same thing. To me, her behavior is strange (not her reaction to your online affair, but the totality of her behavior). But that’s just me-- and this is an internet forum, I don’t know you.
The most important thing for you to do is to pray. You and your wife are dealing with spiritual warfare here. The devil had you in his pocket, so to speak and now you want out. He will continue to make things difficult for you both. Pray for St. Michaels’ and Our Lady’s assistance. When you feel the urge to view porn get up from your computer, take a walk and say the rosary. You’re not just fighting for your marriage you’re fighting for your soul.
I am praying for both you and your wife. God Bless!
I would suggest that both of you dedicate your lives to your kids, and commit to staying together for them.
Work on your relationship, but not in the constant “are you better yet”, “are you better yet” kind of way. It’ll take time, so don’t expect it to be measured day by day or even week by week. One day you’ll both notice that things are better.
Work together on your common task of raising the kids, the other stuff can slowly come back.
Yes, but it is a classic response from someone who is insecure in her relationship. When I found out everything it was like having the rug pulled from beneath me. I spent so much energy tacking down that rug because I couldn’t trust my husband. Time and his good behavior helped heal that (as well as maturity on my part).
It seems that you and your wife have developed a pattern (from early on in your relationship) and she still doesn’t feel secure. Maybe she has reason to considering the history you posted.
She will be extremely reluctant to hear your criticisms of her behavior. Afterall, you are the one with moral boundary problems (your sins are very obvious while hers are being overshadowed by yours, and her hurt). She can’t focus on her sins because she’s too busy focusing on yours. Pray for her, work on your recovery, continue to love her, encourage her in her walk with God (Christ suffered, He was innocent and yet He offers us eternal Life!) Once she learns to unite her sufferings to Christ things will get better. You can’t force it though, it is up to her. All you can do is support her, love her, show her you have changed and wait.
You obviously recognize what you did was wrong and are trying to repair the damage but I seriously think there is more. Have you tried talking with a priest or a professional counselor?
I too have to work with computers on a daily basis, but there are no secrets or tricks. I just spend alot of time working with them. For your wife to devote so much time in trying to wait for you to slip so she can pull a “Gotcha!” seems she has been waiting for this moment the whole time you were married. I don’t know if it has to do with your mother-in-law stating how she felt about you from the start. Trust in God and don’t keep secrets like this site from your wife. You will be rekindling something you are trying to put out. Good luck.
Wow. You are a very good writer. I wonder if you had used that talent to write love letters to your wife instead of being online, you wouldn’t be in this mess.
I have some questions… I am not going to slam your wife and act like she has issues. Her issues are valid. But we don’t have some information here. Were you her first or her one and only? That is an important detail here.
I’m writing as someone whose first and one and only betrayed her. And I knew when I married him that he had a “history.” And I completely ignored that and made escuses and said to myself “What he did before he married me is not my business. He can’t help that.” And well… past is prologue in many instances.
So then you kick yourself even harder for having ignored your instincts. And you vow never to be fooled again. Which your wife did. And what did you do? You spent a lot of time and effort sneaking around, completely validating her suspicions of you.
So there you have it. A woman who wanted to trust you because she loved you enough to come back to you even after she found out about your sordid past. She trusted you, and you gave her no reason to trust you and lots of reasons to doubt you. And then you did it again. (Proving another reason why masturbation is so deadly and a cancer to marriage.)
Now you are ready to be good. And she’s supposed to be right on board on your timetable? Well, her trust wasn’t eroded in a day, and it won’t be rebuilt in a day.
Somewhere, before you came along, someone hurt her ability to trust. She expects men to be unfaithful. Maybe her dad was a Franciscan. But if my dad had been a priest and had walked away from that vow made on the altar of God, I’d really believe deep down that every man will walk away from a vow because he wants a woman. It would be hard for me to trust. Not to slam your in-laws, because they may be wonderful people.
You need to understand something about women. Most of us do not function with a limited optic. We’re looking long-term. We are hard-wired to look at behavior and see it’s long-term implications. It’s our intuition and our ability to read into the fine points of behavior. It allows us to anticipate what our children are going to do before they do it. It allows us to keep them out of danger. We are always “on guard.” So from the very beginning of our children’s lives, we recognize small signals and draw conclusions from it that direct our actions. Your wife sounds like a good, careful, watchful mother. She probably operates like this.
Baby in bed is making small faces. Subtle faces. He is kicking his legs. He is grunting softly. You may see nothing in that. She goes over and gets a new diaper. She knows what’s coming.
Small child is heading down stairs and looking at the door. She heads her off at the pass. She knew from the look on the baby’s face that she wanted to go outside unsupervised. Ain’t gonna happen.
It’s called jumping to conclusions. In order to stay one step ahead of disaster, a woman has to be completely watchful. Always scanning the horizon looking for something that doesn’t belong. She can tell by subtle looks on a child’s face that something is wrong. She knows the child better than the child knows itself. She is used to micromanaging the children and limiting their actions until they are ready for the next step.
If she does this job well, with the grace of God, the children grow up safely and leave the nest.
Unfortunately for you, you nailed it on the head. Now she sees you as one of the kids. She wanted a man. But she got a big boy who has to be watched. Who sneaks and lies. And then when he’s caught he’s very very sorry. And like with a child, she will keep working to raise you. (you say you have family issues. Well, she probably knows that and resents she’s having to raise you and do the job your mother should have done. By the way, when we see a man as a child, most of us don’t want to be too romantic with him.)
So she looks at your face and reads subtle messages in it. You probably think you are keeping your ideas to yourself. But she can tell by looking at you. Her desire to keep you from tv and all was because she (rightly) pegged you as the kind that easily backslides. So she tried to head that one off at the pass. I am going to disagree with others who think that she was wrong in this. When you are dealing with children, you make them earn privileges and freedom. Once they show they can handle it, they are given the freedom.
She had a right to know your history, in my opinion. And you confirmed her suspicions that you hadn’t really surrendered that behavior after all.
Now you want to be treated as a husband, not a child. You have your work cut out for you.
I’ll continue this so I don’t go over the dreaded 5000 words…
As a wife who was betrayed, I can’t tell you how deep that wound goes. A woman’s emotional equilibrium when it comes to trust can be a very fragile thing. You break it, you buy it. Because you may be being good, but now she has an image in her head of you online with someone else and she can’t get that out of her head. That’s all she sees. When your eyes search out the scantily clad ho on the cover of Cosmo, a little part of her dies. She wonders if that’s the beginning of you going back and looking and imagining. She probably doubts she lives up to those unrealistic air-brushed, professionally-lit and surgically enhanced women. Whatever healing she may have encountered that day… you’ve just ripped the scab off the wound.
Because sir, you gave her a gut wound. A sucking one. You feel great because you went to confession. You are sure you’re better. She is still in need of a medic. And every time she tried to heal, you ripped out the stitches. And she probably now thinks this is as good as it can get. And for her own emotional safety, she can’t let you ever get close enough to hurt her again. Because she may not survive the next gut blow. And her children need her. So she’s going through life and making a future that she can count on, because you haven’t convinced her she can count on you.
Do you see the thousand-yard stare in her eyes?
You put it there. And only you can remove it.
I’m not going to be harsh with her because she is a woman who obviously takes her faith seriously and family is important, or she would have kicked you to the curb long ago and never let you back in. She didn’t look for this pain. But she has to live with it every day. And right now she’s probably asking herself “How do I know he’s not off doing it again?”
She had trust issues before she married you. And you blew it out of the water. Some women would have retaliated by spending great amounts of money, serving you with papers, having their own affairs, drinking, doing drugs… she has stayed at her post and done her duty. Her mother obviously carries some clout with her, and she’s watching you closely too. Keep those lines of communication open. Your MIL can be your best advocate if you are honest with her and continue to impress on her your desire to make your wife happy.
I thought about what my xh could have done if he had wanted to heal what he hurt.
You have to do three things:
- Make her view you as a husband, not one of the kids.
- Restore her trust in your integrity
- Heal the wound
These all go together. The first thing you have to keep in mind is that you can’t EVER put her on a timetable. It’s been two years. She should get over it. No. It took longer than two years to get here. Hurrying her up is manipulative and shows that you’re thinking about you and not her.
If you want her to see you as a husband, you have to behave like one. Pick up after yourself. Ask her if she needs help. Offer to take the load off. (If she’s running a house, doing child care and going to school, she’s overloaded. Help her.)
Offer to help her study for her degree. Quiz her. Turn it into a fun bonding moment. You are telling her you are her biggest advocate and you are proud of her. You are telling her you are not threatened that she is getting her degree. You are being an adult, not a child.
When you want to watch tv, smile and put your arm around her and say “Let’s watch a movie.” Grab a bag of chips. Watch the movie. When you see a pretty woman, look at your wife and say “She’s not near as pretty as you. No one is.” Mean it.
Tell your wife during the day she’s attractive. Compliment her. Do it without expecting sexual favors.
Behave as someone who doesn’t need to be watched.
…to be continued…
On the second point, about restoring trust…
This is a hard one. Trust is fragile. It’s like a crystal bowl. It can hold anything, but once it’s shattered, even if you glue it back, it will still leak. To make it hold water again, you have to add something else to strengthen it. Same with people. To reinstill trust, you have to add something there that was not there before.
This is a hard one. You’re operating in an information vacuum. You think you are doing things that instill trust. But you don’t know what she is thinking. So you operate in the dark. Then you think your efforts are not working, so you backslide (to reward yourself? To say See? Just what you were proving escapes me here…)
And when you backslide, she is reaffirmed in her decision not to trust you. (Trust is a decision.) You are in a vicious circle.
Get out of the circle.
If it takes a sheet with gold stars for her to let you know… a daily grade, a fit rep, whatever… Print one up and have her let you know where you stand. We know you guys like to have your benchmarks and progress reports. So ask her to have one in the household. So there will be no doubt where you stand.
Have her help you draw it up. The things she requires from you and the grading scale.
This will let you know where you stand. And it will be very useful for her. Because when she has to actually evaluate your performance, she may realize you are progressing. It’s like keeping a diary. You can see things and see the big picture. She may actually start giving you more credit for the things you do when she sees that you are serious about this.
But don’t do this as Mom giving Boy gold stars. Let her be your teacher. Let her know specifically that she has much to teach you about being good. And you want her to teach you as if your soul depended on it.
That might have worked with my xh had he asked. But all I got when he moved back in was “I’m back. And if you can’t trust me, that’s your issue, you crazy b—.”
If he had sat there and cried and said “I failed God. I failed you. I failed our children. I’m sorry. And I want to fix what I broke. And if it takes me 30 years I will heal the hurt I caused. Because when you are hurting, I’m hurting.”
Just maybe that may have touched my own heart.
I’ll continue this for the last point. The sucking chest wound.
You said you want to know what to do that will help this low-key woman know you love her.
You must think like her. She is a mom and a nurse. Same thing. Her language is a language of healing the wound, and nursing back to health. Ironic, since she needs a nurse. (Thanks to you. I’ll keep kicking you just in case you aren’t kicking yourself enough. )
Speak her language. Bind up her wound like we are told to in scripture. Be Christ to her. When you married her, you vowed to love, honor and cherish her. You abandoned your post. Now she isn’t sure anyone has her back anymore. You hurt her mortally.
Now heal her.
Today tell her you have a plan for the evening. So keep the evening open. Take her into a cleaned up living room with a bottle of wine and two glasses after the kids are asleep. Have candles lit. Have an index card and a pen. Sit her down. Tell her what a idiot you are. But you aren’t so much of an idiot you don’t know that you have the best wife going. And you don’t want to lose that.
Apologize for the pain. Pour the wine. Tell her she is beautiful. Then sit knee to knee facing her. Hold her hands and look her straight into her suspicious pained eyes. Tell her you need her help. You need a treatment plan to help her heal the wounds you caused. Give her the card. Have her write out the prescription of ten things you can do that will remove her from intensive care. Specific things. Things she needs from you. Things you will do as if her life depended on it.
Hand her the pen. Let her write. Sit silently. When she has finished, go over the list point by point. Ask for clarification of anything. Tell her you will keep that card in your wallet and reread it every day.
You will know when the patient is healing. You must view her as your patient. And give the same gentle care to her fragile state as you would expect if she were in a hospital.
Because I can tell you that right now the only emotion she feels is that the one man in the world she gave everything to and trusted shot her straight through the heart.
I’m someone that happened to. And he walked away and never cared to look back at his victim. I had to bind my own wounds. Probably did that badly. And it still hurts.
I’ll give you credit for not walking away and leaving her and the kids. I’ll give you credit for reaffirming your faith and taking it seriously. That would have made a huge difference with my xh if he had done that.
So you get credit for trying. But this patient’s wounds are serious and recovery will take a long time. And you are the only one who can rebuild the trust. She really wants you to care enough to try. And only she can tell you how to do that to fit her needs. Good luck.
By the way… when a broken bone heals, often it’s strongest in the broken place. And scar tissue is very strong. If you do things right, your marriage can become strongest at those places where there used to be a break.
I pray that any man who has cheated on his wife and wishes to restore his marriage and family will have the good sense to make copies of Liberanosamalo’s words and read them every day. Then do it.
L.~ YOU are truly gifted and blessed with wisdom. Praise God and thank the Holy Spirit for those words. An awesome read.
Payaso, the only thing I can say is I will pray for you. I hope you and your wife are able to save your marriage.