Originally Posted by EllaSuaveterre View Post
I agree that my advice for waywards is pretty much 100% focused on the WS/DS and I don't say much- if anything- about the BS/LS at all. This is because:
1. Everyone ELSE on marriage forums everywhere is mostly focused on the Betrayed Spouse so the WS doesn't need my help or advice on how to help their BS when they have so many other great resources to which to turn for that. (Like yours!)
2. Wayward spouses are broken people, generally. I actually agree with @sokillme
to a degree on that. They're usually not actually happy that they blew up their marriage.
Sorry it's kind of late in the day but Mondays always seem to sneak up on me! LOL Anyway, I do want to respond to you and try to speak together because I think our viewpoints and opinions are very different. Now, on one hand we are in very different stages in our lives (I'm in my mid-50's, kids are grown and gone, second marriage) and I think where one is on the journey can really change their perspective. When I was your age, I didn't have much self-worth yet either, nor did I have ANY CLUE what real marriage was nor how to survive a tidal wave of emotions...and now that I'm older I have and know all those things, so it changes how I view things on a foundational level.
Still sometimes I feel like you and I are almost polar opposites. I think partially it's because I'm a peace-loving introverted intuitive with strong Thinker tendencies that filter my feelings; whereas I would guess you might be an extroverted senses-oriented person with VERY strong Feeler abilities. FYI this is neither good nor bad--just ways that we are...and ways that we differ.
I do understand why you wrote "to" or "for" waywards (for now let's just agree to use the terms wayward and betrayed), because the majority of help "out there" is for the betrayed spouses. There are forums, and blogs, and websites, and articles...all aimed at betrayed spouses...and very little offered specifically for waywards. Trust me, as a wayward I understand that!
But there's a big reason why!
In order for a wayward person to want and receive help to become faithful, they would have to fundamentally change what they think and how they act! Let me phrase it another way. I could publish articles that are "supportive" of wayward people, but then that would not necessarily encourage them to a life of fidelity, would it? If I was "supporting" someone actively involved in an affair, I'd be in some way or other making them feel better ABOUT the affair! And quite frankly that's not reality.
See, in my view this is like someone who has had a bad, BAD car accident and they are bleeding out under the wreckage and pinned. I could come along and encourage them that the damage to their face isn't all that bad and they look okay--but they would still DIE because I wasn't dealing with reality! In reality what I desperately need to do first is stop the bleeding and get them out from under the wreckage. I say this as someone who is a recovered wayward: if someone is so self-centered and self-focused that they seek outside their marriage and don't see that they are dropping a bomb on their spouse and their children, then they do not need more belly-button gazing. They are bleeding out and pinned! The need is to stop the blood first, then get them un-pinned.
So first, I would teach waywards how to see outside themselves on a consistent basis. I think sometimes that "seeing others" is a skill that some have intuitively, and sometimes it has to be taught...some never "get it" very well. But it is definitely different to shift the focus from your own self to your spouse and THEIR NEEDS. Again, I'm not being mean, but I think it's human nature to think of ourselves to some degree and to think we do all the chores and to think our side is right and theirs is wrong, etc. So there's a real skill to learn to put your own defenses and inaccurate and unhealthy thinking down...and learn to pick up healthier habits.
Then I would teach waywards how to act in the best interest of others on a consistent basis. During the affair, the wayward thought and ACTED in their own best interest period. The first thing I said above I'd teach is how to think of others...how to see others...how to stop assuming about your spouse... In other words it would essentially be re-learning all about their spouse (in a way)!! Next I'd say now that you've learned new ways of thinking, and the thinking is outward or external...now you need to stop talking and ACT. How do you ACT in a way that is in someone ELSE'S best interest? How do you sacrifice without becoming resentful? How do you balance openness and honesty with setting boundaries? All of that! Okay you're seeing your spouse in a different light now because you learned how to see them and how to change the way you think...but how do you put all that into ACTION? Because frankly, thinking is still all internal, and actions speak 1000 times louder than words. If you actually love someone you may or may not "have feelings" for them at the moment, but you can and should ACT IN A LOVING WAY TOWARD THEM.
In my experience working with unfaithful people, what I've seen happen over and over again is that waywards are so focused on themselves and what they "deserve" and how other people's spouses get them this or that...that continuing on in the vein of "Yes, and you do deserve XXX" does not stop the blood or pull them out of the wreckage. In order to move from an unfaithful person to a FAITHFUL person, there has to be ... HAS TO BE ... a hard stop, a hard 180 degree turn away from what has been happening before, and a complete and serious change in the person. They have to both "put off" the unfaithful habits and "put on" the new, faithful habits, or else all that happens is that once the hoopla from this affair dies down a bit, they have no faithful foundation on which to build, and they just do it all over again!
I don't think I've ever seen a WS who honestly delights in their BS's misery and anguish. Usually, on D-day and after, the WS feels lousy. They're probably not feeling bad for the "right" reasons. They're probably feeling regret rather than remorse. But they're still, usually, not very happy.
, I'm laughing because clearly you just haven't been around long enough yet. LOL
I'm not a pessimist, but I have definitely seen some WS's who take delight in hurting their BS more and more; however, this is also usually an individual who feels better about themselves when they belittle someone else. So there are mental health syndromes involved.
However, overall I would say that from what I've experienced over the years, most waywards feel very lonely and miserable before the affair, for a variety of reasons. Very often things are not right before the affair--and often they are on a paddle boat down the DeNial River. But after D-Day to say "well the WS feels lousy too"--Ella, we did it to ourselves! I mean, I wouldn't feel lousy if I was flagrantly faithful! Any pain I feel as a result of being discovered is SELF-INFLICTED and thus honestly is not on the same playing field as the betrayed who was shot in the head from behind!
In real life, part of me thinks "If you would like to stop hurting from losing your AP, don't have an affair, duh!" like that joke about "Doc, it only hurts when I do this!" And I'm honestly not trying to be mean or angry or grouchy other than to say that I think it is shocking, in my opinion, to try to address someone's pain over ending their affair by saying 'Awww...you deserve to be happy too' or 'You are allowed to feel sad over not having a lover' when REAL HELP would be to say as a true friend, "PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS!!! DO NOT HAVE A LOVER, IT WILL HARM YOU ENORMOUSLY
IN WAYS YOU CAN'T IMAGINE!!!"
These are people that have such low self-esteem and such miserable psyches that they are willing to ruin every aspect of their lives for a dopamine hit and an ego boost. Therefore, teaching them how to meet their own needs, how to practice healthy, nondestructive self-care, and how to forgive themselves and not hate themselves so much, is vital. If they can meet the needs that led them to cheat in the first place before they get desperate and put their morals aside, they'll be less likely to need an ego boost- another affair- in the future. That's why I like that abandonment self-help workbook so much. The premise thereof is that you don't need another person (like an affair partner) to make you happy/safe/loved/important/whatever.
Who is all this focused on? Where's the focus? On the SELF again!! SELF-esteem and SELF-care... see that? I think waywards usually have "self" down pat, but have little or no idea how to think of and care for OTHERS. Thus to teach them what they are already doing (taking care of Self) won't "fix" what the problem is! Now, I understand the idea of knowing how to self-soothe, and how to make healthier relationship choices, but really I think the thing that most have not considered is not "How do I take care of ME ME ME!!?" but more like "When I married, I voluntarily agreed to always include and consider my spouse in all things!" That means "How do I take care of THEM?" How do I include THEM in my life? How do I let them see the real me (even when I'm afraid)? What are my weaknesses and what have I put in place TO PROTECT MY SPOUSE FROM ME?
I'm not very good at self-care yet, and I'm a complete novice at not hating myself. I'm hardly qualified to be any kind of counselor to anyone. But it seems like wayward self-care and self-forgiveness (and thereby filling one's own bottomless emotional bucket so one is no longer so tempted to commit adultery) has been abandoned and laughed at by infidelity experts, and it just baffles me utterly. So I feel the need to step in where no one else has or will.
I think it is abandoned by infidelity experts because that is a topic for personal counseling or IC, not for marriage counseling or infidelity counseling. By far, the vast majority of waywards I've met are a deep sorrow to me, because they refuse to look at the flaws within themselves. They refuse to do the work to change. They refuse personal responsibility. They refuse to even admit they were wrong! By far, the vast majority of waywards are so "set in their ways" if you will, they would NEVER admit they did something wrong, stop doing it, and do the work to repair the damage they did. And thus, the vast majority of waywards go along reinforcing "the wrong thing" and end up destroying their lives and their families lives. Now do people recover afterward? Sure of course--people are resilient and often bounce back even after tragedies--but they are forever DIFFERENT and harmed but what happened, all for pride.
You've been in this particular rodeo a long time. Surely I can't be the first one to think of this. It's not that I don't care about the betrayed spouses of the world; that's not it at all. It's just that the whole infidelity-recovery community remains focused on the BS. With me being the lone voice saying "Love yourself!" in a crowd of people saying "Forget yourself and help your spouse!" it's not like WSes are going to somehow miss the memo that their BS is hurting badly and that they need to try to give them security, comfort, and answers. With so many great people reminding them of it, they can't miss it, surely.
Here's the thing: having been through it myself, I know that immediately after D-Day and in the first days-weeks-month of reconciliation, that a wayward does hurt. Yes indeed. I will share with you and in my instance I had an online affair with a man I met through a game, but through the game I also met many other people whom I considered friends...people I cared about who cared about me to some degree...like a friend would. After D-day I gave up the OM and all the friends from the game. I deleted the game, deleted all their contacts, and never ever went back EVER. But in my heart of hearts I felt lonely and sad and isolated. As I've told you in this reply, that emotion was SELF-INFLICTED. I brought people into my heart and life who filled a role that should have been my husband's alone! So the cure to feeling lonely and sad and isolated was not to be told "Oh @Affaircare
, you deserve to feel loved and happy and included. You deserve to have your needs of friendship met." Yes, I do deserve to feel loved but what I needed to learn at the time was HOW TO LET MY HUSBAND FILL THE LONELY HOLE.... and how to find happiness with my husband...and how to feel included with my family and spouse, not outsiders.
I realize and recognize that no one "makes me feel <insert emotion here>" and thus my husband would not actually fill the lonely hole..I actually have to see myself as worthy enough to fill my own lonely hole. LOL But the point is that everyone "out there"--in movies, books, blogs, articles, etc.--talks about "how to love YOU" or how to love yourself. Very, very few talk about "Here's how to be MARRIED." "Here's what it's like to be so intimate with another human being that you include them in everything." "Here's how you and your spouse turn to each other and fill the other's needs." Yes, it is ideal if both spouses commit to filling the other's needs (he fulfills hers/she fulfills his) because then both needs are being met! But nowhere does the wedding vow say "I will meet your need IF YOU..." It says 'I promise to forsake all others through all the circumstances of life." So here's how you do that.
Hope this gives some food for thought. I'd be happy to talk more if you'd like.