Wife's emotional shutdown after her EA
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Coping with Infidelity Relationship recovery from the destructiveness of infidelity.

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Old 01-13-2010, 09:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Wife's emotional shutdown after her EA

My wife and I are both in a good place about working to reconcile our relationship. I trust that she is in this 100%. The issue I am seeing is that she isn't talking about what she's feeling inside.

The summary of our situation is that I took her for granted for many years and didn't show her how I felt inside. I truly love her and have a lot to work on to begin to show her how I feel inside. Well, she had to live with this for a long time and then found an old friend/boyfriend on Face book. Started off innocently, then escalated into talking about the issues in both their relationships and then they ended up meeting few times. Luckily it was caught prior PA.

After hearing this, I was crushed and spent weeks trying to get over the horrible thoughts in my head. I feel now that I am able to come to grips with what happened because I understand that I was the major contributor to her seeking out something outside the marriage. phew...long story short, we both love each other and our goal is to rebuild a better relationship.

Now I am coming to her regularly with what I have been thinking each day. this includes thoughts about how we can work on things and sadness, fear I have about what happened. I was not usually a person to speak about these types of feelings. I truly took this situation to heart and I have changed knowing what is at stake.

My question to the board is what are some of the thoughts that may be going through my wife's head? I wonder how she is feeling about being the person who had an EA. I know she has guilt and I understand she feels sorry for what she did, but I am not getting any more details other than this 1000 foot level overview of her feelings. Any insight into the thoughts and feelings of someone who has had an EA, but still loves their spouse and wants to make their marriage work?

I am taking this emotional shut down as a possibly having second thoughts about making it work.......
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Old 01-13-2010, 09:42 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wife's emotional shutdown after her EA

Good for you both on giving your all to work it out!

I'm not claiming to see into her heart, but here's my thoughts. She could be just protecting herself. By not getting down and completely dirty about her hurt and feelings about the EA, she is keeping her distance and thus, lessening the chance of being hurt again (by you). I know, I know, she's the one who strayed, but you've admitted to being neglectful. She could be trying to protect herself from that again.

Guilt has a lot to do with it as well. And your expectations too. Maybe she doesn't know how you EXPECT her to act, feel, etc. She doesn't want to disappoint you again by thinking, saying or feeling the wrong thing. It's better just to be 1000 feet up and not risk hurting you. Get it?

Her emotional shutdown is likely temporary (albeit frustrating for you). Don't give up on your united effort to save the marriage!
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Last edited by Alexandra; 01-23-2010 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 01-13-2010, 10:08 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wife's emotional shutdown after her EA

I could be your wife in a couple of years if things don't improve with me and my husband. What you described about not sharing your feelings with her sounds exactly like my husband.

If I had an EA affair that never came to fruition, I think I would feel like my husband is only making changes because of my desperate act and not because he really wants to do it. I would question is sincerity and I'd be waiting to see if his behavior was going to have any longevity. I'd also question whether or not he really wanted to be with me or if he just didn't want to "lose" to the other guy, be alone, or have to pay alimony/child support should we divorce.

Let me ask you a question - what could your wife have done before having the EA that would have prompted you to change your behaviors in the way you are doing now?
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Old 01-13-2010, 10:16 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wife's emotional shutdown after her EA

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I could be your wife in a couple of years if things don't improve with me and my husband. What you described about not sharing your feelings with her sounds exactly like my husband.

If I had an EA affair that never came to fruition, I think I would feel like my husband is only making changes because of my desperate act and not because he really wants to do it. I would question is sincerity and I'd be waiting to see if his behavior was going to have any longevity. I'd also question whether or not he really wanted to be with me or if he just didn't want to "lose" to the other guy, be alone, or have to pay alimony/child support should we divorce.

Let me ask you a question - what could your wife have done before having the EA that would have prompted you to change your behaviors in the way you are doing now?
themrs - I appreciate the feedback and it opened my eyes a bit. As for your question, We did have a talk in June where she said she wasn't "in it" anymore. We had many conversations and my realization was that I needed to change as a person. I needed to leave work and work and focus on her and the kids when I am at home. I also need to learn the skills that will show her how much I love her each day. So, to answer the question, I changed my behaviors when I heard exactly how my actions were destroying the person I love.

You points about her questioning my true intentions are very valid. I have Left a legacy of not being the perfect husband and I need to rebuild the trust. The waiting and the thoughts of how much she can accept the change is the hard part.
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Old 01-13-2010, 10:26 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wife's emotional shutdown after her EA

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themrs - I appreciate the feedback and it opened my eyes a bit. As for your question, We did have a talk in June where she said she wasn't "in it" anymore. We had many conversations and my realization was that I needed to change as a person. I needed to leave work and work and focus on her and the kids when I am at home. I also need to learn the skills that will show her how much I love her each day. So, to answer the question, I changed my behaviors when I heard exactly how my actions were destroying the person I love.

You points about her questioning my true intentions are very valid. I have Left a legacy of not being the perfect husband and I need to rebuild the trust. The waiting and the thoughts of how much she can accept the change is the hard part.

Patience means having a good attitude while you wait. That's what I tell my children.

It's a very hard thing to do, especially when you are sincere. I wish you all the best and I hope your wife starts appreciating the fact that you have changed.
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Old 01-13-2010, 11:42 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wife's emotional shutdown after her EA

noona, your situation sounds like a near carbon-copy of my own, right down to my wife meeting an ex-boyfriend via Facebook. Like you, we're doing really well with reconciling and spending all due effort to getting past this, and I'm ultra-sensitive to how my wife is acting these days (especially when she's a little depressed or distant with me).

I know she's not sharing everything about her feelings towards the ex, but I am learning to just accept that she needs to reconcile some of these feelings on her own and I just need to make sure she knows I'm there for her when she does need to talk through them. I think 'backing off' a little bit with her has had a positive impact, while I'm being more open than ever with my own feelings I'm letting her come to me with hers which (I think) shows her I can trust her again. I hope that helps a little, and best of luck to you both.
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Old 01-13-2010, 12:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wife's emotional shutdown after her EA

Thanks Cowboyfan. It's nice to hear that this approach has worked for you. I'm not sure how long you have been going through this process (6 weeks for me), but I would appreciate any advice or lessons learned as you have gone through your journey. For example, how do you talk about the EA going forward? Does she feel comfortable talking about what happened, is she receptive to you bringing up the subject? How about sex life? How has that been affected? I find myself more attracted and in the mood more, but I fear that escalating our sex patterns will make her suspicious that I am doing this for a calculated reason rather than just acting on emotions.

I appreciate your response!

BTW - I'm from MN. Go Vikes!
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Old 01-13-2010, 06:53 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I'm afraid I'm not much more advanced in this than yourself, I found out about my wife's EA a little over two months ago. The first few weeks were an insane roller coaster, but we've both put everything on the table for the most part and seem to be communicating better than ever.

I'm with you on the increased libido, and honestly I've just been very straightforward with her in what I want and need in this area to which she's responded very well. I've made the mistake of getting a little too hung up on trying to read her reactions, feelings, etc, and although I'm trying my best to keep HER happy I'm learning that just giving her more attention and showing her how she makes ME happy is what's worked best here.

As for talking about the EA, I've pounded her with a pretty heavy barrage of questions, and she's answered them very honestly which has helped me bigtime when it comes to rebuilding that trust. She has asked me to just get any questions I have off my chest instead of holding them in, which helps both of us. The only issue she seems a little guarded with is her residual feelings towards the ex, in my opinion because she's trying not to rock the boat with US right now. I'm comfortable enough to let this go for now, but in time if I don't see the changes in her I need there may be a need to address more directly (couples counseling, etc).

Sorry for the long post, just trying to give you some hope that it WILL get better because you both seem vested in this. Oh, and I'm a WYOMING Cowboys fan, and hope Favre sends the Cowboys home this weekend too
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Old 01-14-2010, 09:02 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Cowboy Fan - I appreciate the response and it helps to know that someone is going through the same thing and they are having success.

Take care.
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Old 01-16-2010, 05:15 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I was going to say more on this, but seeing what is said in post #8 I will not instead, since this is stating also NOT to chase the woman to make her happy, especially when there is an affair man in the picture.

Also, to your question as to what your woman "is thinking" about being the one having the EA, this is important to understand. She is of course, thinking the things you can imagine, guilt, shame, etc.

But this is most important, and that is she is probably just as confused as you are as to what has happened that led her to pursue this emotional attraction to another man, and what has happened to breakdown in her own relationship with you.

So it is important, as the good man trying to reestablish the emotional connection with your woman, to not assume she is just "holding out" on you deliberately, as if she has it all figured out in her head already. She doesn't, so to avoid resentment in this area will be most helpful to both of you.

But this is most likely these things she is not necessary THINKING, but instead she is FEELING, that she used to FEEL on fire for you, but now she is not. She used to FEEL you were on fire for her, and now are not, and she used to FEEL respect for you, but not does not, and she used to FEEL secure with you, but now does not.

Understand these things are FEELINGS, and a woman that has had these feelings for her man once in the past, and then discovers over time they are gone, is CONFUSED and often EMBARRASSED as if something is wrong with her.

Know she is not going to be quick to say these things, so not to crush her man and hurt him, and also to make her man think something is wrong with her, that she has changed so drastically toward him.

And yes, this happens sometimes slowly over time, and life goes on. If a woman was to say what she is feeling in this scenario, this is the "I love you but not IN LOVE with you" feeling.

But then along comes some affair man, that shows the woman interest, and guess what, all these feelings she is missing come FLOODING back, very strong, very vivid, all in her coming from this affair man, and this is also very powerful motivation for her to even leave the marriage and pursue this affair man.

So now, this is a "wake up call" for her husband, and guess what, now he is showing interest in her again, showing her again in his behavior how he feels for her. In these times the woman will say she is "confused", or "need space" or other such things.

The reality is, in these times she is instead waiting to see which man will make her feel most desired, loved, and that is the man that will win her emotional connection.

So here are some facts that may help to make the way forward clear in these situations:

A woman will be emotionally connected to the man she is sexually attracted to.

A woman will not be emotionally connected to a man she is not sexually attracted to, and ESPECIALLY who is not making it clear that also she is sexually attractive to him.

A woman in a relationship will be emotionally connected to one man at a time.

To understand this fact is important when there is an affair man in the picture, as it will often guage a woman's emotional connection to see how she is responding to his jealousy.

A woman will love the jealousy of the man she is emotionally connected to, even if this is the affair man, and resent the jealousy of another man she is not connected to, even if this man is her husband.

So to continue forward is just what you are now saying, for example to communicate to your woman what makes YOU happy, and other things that you show your woman IN ACTION, not just words, how you desire to be with her.

This is reestablishing the sexual attraction and emotional connection between you and her, and will wither and die any emotional connection to this other affair man.

I wish you well.

Last edited by BigBadWolf; 01-16-2010 at 05:32 AM.
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Old 01-25-2010, 07:55 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Noona, You need to listen to Bigbadwolf!!! I AM the woman you are all talking about.... i just posted the other day because I am so confused & feel just like badwolf says. Badwolf, I'm glad you posted - it has helped me too a little. Noona, he is right in EVERYTHING he has stated IMO. The only thing I would like to add, is that if your W says or even SUGGESTS that she can't/doesn't want to discuss it, DON"T PUSH IT! My H couldn't drop it even for a day or two, (it has been 2 1/2 Mo. since I told him) & he pushed me further towards the OM & now he currently is living elsewhere because it deteriorated to the point I was snapping at EVERYTHING he said - even simple things like "Did I get the mail", & he doesn't deserve it I know, but....
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Old 01-25-2010, 08:12 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wife's emotional shutdown after her EA

There are some questionnaires you can get at marriagebuilders.com called Love Buster and Emotional Needs. Print them out and ask her to fill them out. They will tell you how to stop Love Busting her (doing things that make her unhappy) and how to meet her top Emotional Needs (what does make her happy). If you can focus on those two things, and be consistent in your changes, she will start to warm up to you again. Right now, she is mourning the loss of her 'soulmate' and 'settling' for you - a person who has let her down. Be consistent, stop LBs and meet ENs, and she'll open up eventually. It takes a long time for a woman to trust a man.
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Old 01-27-2010, 11:24 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Thanks for the feedback. I am giving her her space and trying to only discuss any issues I might have when I feel they are absolutely necessary to discuss in order to improve our marriage. I am trying to not desensitize her to me expressing my feelings. I know that this is hard on her to hear how much she hurt me.

At the same time though, I feel like her lack of sharing her feelings on this topic are due to her still having feelings (when she says she doesn't have those feelings for the other man now). It's hard to decipher what she's really feeling. I do ask her and she says that she is just trying to block it out and work on our situation, but I don't think that she would share with me if she was still contemplating this other person.

I am trying to get my confidence back with her. I want to be in a place where I can say anything to her and request anything of her without feeling that I may be pushing her away. I need to act how I feel inside and let the rest sort itself out. If who I am is not who she wants, then we need to figure that out now versus later.

Getting confidence back with your wife after she has told another man that she thinks she loves him is not an easy task. I have a lot of confidence in myself, but the confidence that my wife still finds me attractive and has a fire for me will take a lot of time to rebuild.
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Old 01-27-2010, 05:01 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Wife's emotional shutdown after her EA

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Originally Posted by noona View Post
Thanks for the feedback. I am giving her her space and trying to only discuss any issues I might have when I feel they are absolutely necessary to discuss in order to improve our marriage. I am trying to not desensitize her to me expressing my feelings. I know that this is hard on her to hear how much she hurt me.
Noona, I would like to offer one word of advice from some experience. It is very likely that your wife is experiencing some withdrawal symptoms from her EA. When a spouse has an EA they have serotonin in their brain similar to a person who is high on drugs, so ending the EA is like going cold turkey on drugs. Just getting THROUGH the cold turkey is hard enough--but add to that the fact that you periodically prod her to "share her feelings" and it's likely to make it harder on her. Furthermore, she is most likely missing the other person very much (less each day but it's still there) and it would be counter-productive and hurt you MORE for her to tell you to your face, "Oh I've been thinking of him all day and all day long I resisted the temptation to just see how he is."

Thus may I make a suggestion? Rather than prodding her for what she's thinking about or feeling, may I suggest that you ask her what was one good thing today and one thing that wasn't so good? Maybe make it specific like "What was one thing I did today that was loving that you wish I'd do more?" and "What was one thing I did today that was not so loving and maybe hurt you--something you wish I would do less of?" This makes it so that she only has to share one thing (so it's not an endless interrogation but has a limit) and it lets her tell you the good stuff about you! Further, if she does tell you one thing you did that hurt or bothered her, give her a safe place to do that. Even if it does hurt you to hear it, do not tell her than right away because she won't want to tell you anymore then. Tell her, "Thank you for being honest. I'll think about what you've said" and that's it.

Quote:
At the same time though, I feel like her lack of sharing her feelings on this topic are due to her still having feelings (when she says she doesn't have those feelings for the other man now). It's hard to decipher what she's really feeling. I do ask her and she says that she is just trying to block it out and work on our situation, but I don't think that she would share with me if she was still contemplating this other person.
Permission to speak freely? From my experience she will have thoughts of the other man from time to time even years from now. If she is anything like me and the hundreds of spouses I know who were disloyal, she may not have romantic feelings anymore but more like a somewhat fond remembrance--and trust me, it would do NO GOOD to share that feeling with you. One thing that might be good for her would be a journal that she writes by hand. Another option might be to have her share with you one thing you did that she felt was loving and appreciated. That encourages you and helps her to look at the good things you're doing--to rekindle the love with you. Make sense?

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I am trying to get my confidence back with her. I want to be in a place where I can say anything to her and request anything of her without feeling that I may be pushing her away. I need to act how I feel inside and let the rest sort itself out. If who I am is not who she wants, then we need to figure that out now versus later.
Well I'd like you to bear in mind that she had a fantasy fix on another person and came to her senses and chose you. I bring this up because you are acting like her lack of willingness to share with you her every withdrawal thought is somehow disrespectful to you. Actually it would just stab the knife in over and over again to go over and over how much she misses the other man--especially when she is trying to remove him from her mind and move forward with you. If she did it your way, she would rehash and rehash and rehash, and there is already a fairly large hole inside her missing the feeling, the attention, etc. It is helpful to get over the withdrawal to just "get over it" and try to look to the future.

So again, I would make the suggestions I made above and possibly one more. Ask her about THE FUTURE. What would she like to do for herself? What would she like to do with you? What would she like to see you do? Would she like to renew vows? In other words, I realize that you may need to go over the past some in order to process it all, but for her sake it can be better to try to leave it behind and move on with you. So ask her about you and how you did today, and ask her about a happy future with you. See what I mean?

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Getting confidence back with your wife after she has told another man that she thinks she loves him is not an easy task. I have a lot of confidence in myself, but the confidence that my wife still finds me attractive and has a fire for me will take a lot of time to rebuild.
I'll be honest with you. She may not have a fire for you right now, and in a way that's okay. She may have just a small bit of warm ember. The way to build that back into a fire is twofold. First--stop doing the things that put on the fire! Find out the things you've done that have hurt her and built resentment, and it sounds to me like you two are doing a very good job admitting personal responsibility and working on this. It doesn't happen overnight but keep at it. Second--start doing the things that rekindle love for her. As you know, men and women are different and we all have different love languages. Try to find out together what your love language is and what her love language is. Then do things for her that mean "I love you" to her.

A really practical example of this--my Dear Hubby has the love language "Acts of Service" and I have "Words of Affirmation." What TYPICALLY happens is that he tries to tell me he loves me by doing household chores or fixing something around the house. That isn't how I hear "I love you." I hear it in being told out loud how he loves, adores, cherishes, respects and admires me. If he wrote a love poem, I'd be on cloud-nine for a day! So what happens is I tell him (in words) and he tells me (in chores) and neither one of us feels loved! Instead, when I want to show him I care, I do a chore for him--something that would be hard for him to do or just long and tedious that he hates. Now I have NO IDEA why that means "I love you" to him but it just does!

In summary, stop doing the things that extinguish the love, and start doing the things that kindle love in her way!
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Old 01-27-2010, 05:10 PM   #15 (permalink)
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"In summary, stop doing the things that extinguish the love, and start doing the things that kindle love in her way!"

Yep.

In the terms of what I've been describing, stop Love Busting, and start meeting Emotional Needs.
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