I have come to hate the infidelity dance. Over the past fourteen days, I spent ten of them feeling great, happy, positive, no tears/sadness over the affair, just forward progression. Then Tuesday night–SLAM! There’s that wall again. Right in my f-ing way. I didn’t even see the wall, in fact, I drove myself right into it all on my own. My husband and I settled into our bed on Tuesday night and I had some ideas and thoughts I wanted to share with him. After reading the posts about the Hoffman Institute program on the blog Fulfilled Entrepreneur, I felt like a light bulb went off in my head. The process of healing at the Hoffman Institute begins with determining where your negative behavior patterns originate (most likely from your parents–just like you positive attributes/behaviors are learned from your parents). Here was my A-HA! moment:
My in-laws are excellent parents and it’s difficult to be critical of them. They value family as the number one priority and are close with not just their children, but their children’s spouses too. I have a special bond with my mother-in-law and most people have heard me comment that I am very lucky to have them as a second set of parents. But, if I try to be critical of behavior patterns, I find that they have criticized my husband’s jobs and career for his entire adult life. They rarely brag about him or his business(es). His successes are met with criticism and almost a disdain for his career choice. What is even more disturbing is that my husband’s career is also his passion. He is one of the fortunate people in the world that gets paid for doing a craft he enjoys and loves. So how must it feel for your parents to criticize your passion? How must it feel for them to tell you on a regular basis that you should do something else with your life? I always thought my husband ignored these comments. I expressed to him on multiple occasions that it bothered me because I love the way my husband approaches his career and business(es). I love that his business doesn’t shut me out and I can be as involved as he needs or wants me to be.
But maybe he doesn’t ignore these comments and disapproval as much as I thought? What if this disapproval was magnified when my husband was unemployed for the period before his affair? What if my husband couldn’t see reality because the perceived disappointment was overwhelming?
A few scenerios may be the result of this perceived and presumed disappointment. One, the advances and attention from his affair partner was appealing and felt good for his ego. Interestingly, he never revealed to his affair partner that he was unemployed for an extended period of time before they met. Since she did not know the truth there was no question to his success and talent. Had she known his length of unemployment and the difficulty it imposed on his family, she may have found him less attractive. All she knew is that we live in a wealthy suburb and he drove a luxary car. He didn’t want her to know what could be considered “failures” in his career. In fact, he even hid them on his LinkedIn resume. Two, he wanted to revel in the feeling of disappointment. As his wife, I never faulted him for not finding a job. I actually expressed on multiple occasions that he should hold out for a position suiting his level of experience–don’t settle for a miserable job. We weren’t broke (although we went through quite a bit of our life savings). Disappointment has been a part of his life and nothing he was doing managed to deter my confidence in him. Nothing. He was still the best at everything in my mind. But it’s possible he wanted to disappoint himself and punish himself for not meeting his own expectations. Three, another part of this equation is that I began working again and I gained a sense of independence. There was a thought in his head that I no longer needed him to save me. I could save myself. I could even decide that I wanted someone else to save me. Fear sets in and he may have realized he was comfortable in the feeling of disappointment he evoked from his parents. Afterall, even in disappointment he gained their attention. Growing up in a big family with a bunch of siblings you have to steal your parents attention somehow and if disappointment is the solution–then you found what works. Maybe his wife [me ]might respond to real disappointment. Maybe I might give him the attention I was neglecting to give him if he actually disappointed me. I know he felt neglected. He felt like he had to fight for my affection and attention and he was at the bottom of my list.
And the truth is, he was last.
The kids came first. My best friend was a huge focus in my life. The dog was competition. I was trying to impress people at work so I could earn more money, get a promotion, and feel needed. I loved my husband but I didn’t make our marriage my number one priority. Everyone and thing else seemed to come first because I was certain that our marriage was a rock and nothing could shake it. I was content and happy. I felt our lives needed to be centered upon the children because they are only living in our home for eighteen years and after that we had the rest of our lives together. I thought about how small of a fraction those eighteen years really are in the grand scheme of things… and I wanted to focus all my energy on loving and developing amazing kids. And they are amazing–so I must be doing it right. Right?
I was so certain my marriage was indestructable, unbreakable, solid. Our love is admitedly like nonother and unique. The love we share with each other was perfect, fulfilling, inspiring and true. The love we share is like a fairytale romance and in many ways his affair hasn’t changed that feeling.
So the question begs: How did I hit a wall? Why did I feel like I was moving backwards in our progress on Tuesday night?
Because my husband sees his childhood as it was–good, happy and fun-filled. He sees his parents as the amazingly wonderful people they are and he does not want to blame his mistakes and failures on them. They did not fail–he did. I am not sure if he was offended at my suggestion that his choice to enter into an affair may be rooted in the lessons he learned from his parents, but he was going to defend them and continue to blame himself for being a “bad” person.
I couldn’t communicate with him that he’s not a bad person, he did a hurtful and wrong thing. But while we were talking Tuesday night he shut down. He wallowed in his shame and guilt. He got stuck in the hatred he has for his actions but he directs it at himself. He defines himself by this one mistake–cheating on me–instead of all the amazing things he’s done for me.
He had an affair and he didn’t want or go looking for one. He slept with another woman for a year and he didn’t even want to be with her. How do you continue to have sex with a woman that you don’t want to sleep with? Most men that have affairs admit to being caught up in a false reality where there were no consequences or responsibiliites. But I am struggling to find a man that relinquished his own desires and needs for the lustings of the affair partner. If you are out there–explain to me how you can’t end the affair when you don’t want to be there in the first place? Why even pretend to be interested in the other woman when you really feel nothing more than a mild friendship, if that. Why allow her to even continue to contact you? My husband’s most famous comment post D-Day is:
My relationship with her [the AP] was built to end.
That statement drives me f-ing crazy. Why would you build and invest time in something that you wanted or expected to end? Why would you spend one speck of time with something that was dead from the start?
So my wall was hit. I spent almost all of Wednesday pissed off and angry. I recovered by Thursday and now I am feeling good again.
The only thing that makes sense to me is that he is comfortable feeling like a disappointment and as long as he was with her that is exactly what he was–a disappointment.