Hello all. First post after lurking for a while.
I found out about 6 months ago my wife of almost 30 years had (what she swears is) a one time physical encounter with co-worker. I am mostly sure she is telling the truth and we have worked hard to get past what happened. We are both committed to saving our marriage. We are working the through the reasons why she did it and those sorts of things but I am having a tough time with a few things.
, I'm going to make these assumptions based on what you've written: 1) That your D-Day was 6 months ago, but the affair itself was years ago (in other words, not relatively recent). 2) That from the time of the affair in the past to the present, your wife was faithful in action and heart. 3) That the two of you have mutually chosen to save your marriage. 4) That both of you--her and you--have done work to actually rebuild a new marriage. 5) That you are not asking us if there's more to it or if you should divorce--you've already worked through that to your satisfaction; you just want to address these three problems:
1. I am having a really tough time forgiving her fully. What she did seems so selfish to me and I just can't quite bring myself to FULLY forgive. I am not sure how to get over that hump. I feel like I am angry all of the time and mostly manage to keep it in check but if I can't figure out a way to forgive her I won't be able get past this.
This is actually pretty typical--forgiving an affair is a pretty tall order! But my thought is that if you want to forgive there are two things that might help you. A) Study forgiveness. What is it? How do you do it? What does it mean? What is actually involved? I would recommend reading books about forgiveness, Googling "forgiveness" and just in general finding out all you can about the process of forgiving.
B) Forgiveness is a choice. Most people I know think they have not forgiven because they don't "FEEL LIKE" they've forgiven...or they don't "FEEL" forgiveness. But in real life, much like love, forgiveness is not a 'feeling' but an action--a CHOICE. Up to this point, you have been the one to whom recompense was due and she has been the one who owed the recompense to you. Forgiveness means making the DECISION to release your claim for requital.
Now I can't tell how YOU will forgive, but for me I made the decision to lay down my right to reprisal, but I did not really feel it much at all. I just released the right and then when the thought or feeling or temptation came to pick it back up, I reminded myself that I had chosen to put it down and would NOT pick it back up. At first, the temptation to pick it back up as my "ace in the hole" for an argument was enormous...and frequent! But as time passed, I felt that temptation less and less. As I controlled my mind and told myself "STOP IT" every time it popped in my head, I began to feel it.
Another thing I did to help visualize it and solidify it, for me, was that I wrote on a piece of paper everything I felt I was due because of the affair. I can honestly say I REALLY let it rip and was not kind or gentle on that page! I wrote every vengeful, hateful retribution I could think of on that paper to get it out of my system. Then I did a ceremony. I took the paper outside to my garden and burned the paper, to symbolize that it was gone forever by choice. And as the paper burned I set it in the garden to be fertilizer for flowers...so that beauty grew from my symbolic forgiveness. See what I mean? All that revenge was released and purposefully let go by burning, and by "letting it go" I made flowers grow...a great symbol.
So when I was tempted to pick up the right to recompense, I just talked back to myself: "STOP IT! You burned that right, remember? Remember the flames and the smoke rising up? Letting it go caused the flowers to be beautiful. You can not pick up and put the ashes back together. Let it go."
2. I can't get the images of her with the OM out of my head. We have never discussed the act itself in any detail so my imagination runs wild. She has said she thought it would be easier to get past if we don't discuss the details. I am not so sure. Is it better to know the gory details or not?
You know what? No one can tell you this, because for some the gory details are damaging and hurtful--for others the gory details are like rooting out every inch of cancer. So for this one, I'm afraid you are going to have to decide for yourself and then live with the choice you made. We can't do your thinking for you, and I suspect if you did a "poll" it would be about 50-50! So this is pretty much the same as forgiveness--make a choice and then enjoy the benefit of the choice you made, and accept the cost of the choice you made. Whatever you decide is between YOU and your wife, and I'd say just decide and then stick with that decision.
3. The last issue is that we live in a small town so there is no one for me to really talk to about this without word getting out and affecting our daily lives and hence our ability to possibly work through this. We move in the same basic circles and telling one person would be like telling a lot of people. So I am trying to deal with it on my own and that is really tough. I sometimes feel if I could just vent to someone I would be able to move forward. I need some way to release all of the pent up stuff I am carrying around. I guess that is why I came to TAM.
Well, I'm not sure it's "good news" but the good news is that here at TAM you'll find a group of folks who understand how you feel and where you're coming from because we've been there/done that. Some even got the t-shirt! (giggle) This may be a great place for you to just be able to say what you need to say and then move forward.