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Husband's affair: moving forwards in the right direction

(1000 Posts)
tomatoplantproject Tue 19-May-15 07:16:06

Previous thread here

Story so far:
Dh had a 7 month affair which I discovered 1 month ago just after he ended it.
We had been having problems in our marriage since the start of the affair which I took the blame for hmm
He has moved out, my toddler dd and I are in the family home.
We had started having couples counselling before I discovered the affair which we are now using to deal with the aftermath
So far he wants reconciliation but doesn't seem to be going about it the right way. I am in 2 minds and hope the right course of action emerges over the next few weeks dependant on his behaviour/way he speaks about me.
Unfortunately the counselling tonight, when I had planned to spill out all of my feelings, has been cancelled. We are still meeting though.
With the support of my amazing parents, a handful of close friends, my adorable dd and of course the wonderful wise ladies of mumsnet I am ok.

DrMorbius Tue 19-May-15 07:33:18

Tomato - I think giving him a book such as the one suggested by MaMaof04 is a good idea. I know you said previously he hasn't read any books you have given him, but tell him he needs to read this one, as one of your conditions.

You are fortunate to have MN and all the great advice on here to help guide your journey. Unfortunately there is no DadsNet and I dread to think where your DH will be getting his advice (and support) from. If indeed he has anyone at all to help him.

FantasticButtocks Tue 19-May-15 07:57:39

Hi tomtom smile wishing you all the best for your talk this evening. I hope he is able to see and understand what he has done to you. And I hope he is very sad and sorry to have hurt you. If he says anything critical or disparaging, can you have a phrase or two up your sleeve to stop him in his tracks? Like... if this is the best you can do I'm wasting my time. Or... if you think criticising me is the way to show how sorry you are...

I really hope you get to say what you want to say, but more than that I hope you hear some of the stuff you are wanting to hear thanks

tomatoplantproject Tue 19-May-15 08:01:54

I have to say I'm struggling with that. If he changes without reading that particular book that's enough for me. If he reads the book but doesn't change he can say he has fulfilled my conditions but I still wouldn't take him back.

The most I can do is lead him to wanting to read some literature. But even that comes under the realm of me telling him what to do. It will work best if he thinks it's his idea.

I agree about him being at a disadvantage not having mumsnet!

tomatoplantproject Tue 19-May-15 08:03:35

Thank you fantastic smile

Yes I think a few phrases would be useful. I can mull it over.

FantasticButtocks Tue 19-May-15 08:16:05

I suppose you could always start by asking him what he thinks will be the best way to repair things? What he proposes to do to. How he intends to re-connect with you after the pain he has caused. What he was thinking when he gave himself permission to cheat. Whether he has understood how much he has hurt you with his behaviour and what he thinks about that. He sounds like Mr walking ego, so perhaps if the focus is on him and his thoughts etc you may eventually get to whether you and yours matter to him or not. Best of luck.

Joysmum Tue 19-May-15 08:16:23

Just wanted to wish you the best of luck for tonight. I have to admit that your more recent posts about his attitudes towards others is another big concern too. I am so glad you are seeing him through fresh eyes and picking up on this.

He needs to understand what did did was disgusting and:-

Understand why he did it, rather than the right thing.

Change the selfish streak in him so it is less likely to happen again in future.

Acknowledge the hurt he caused to and be devastated that he did that to you.

Allow you to be devastated and never expect you to bury that hurt or 'move on' before you're ready.

Expect that once trust is broken, it can never be the same and that there will always be doubts about his trustworthiness in future.

tomatoplantproject Tue 19-May-15 08:21:12

Fantastic - yes that's exactly how I'm planning on starting. In a way I'd rather get an insight into his head. I can always set him right.

BloodontheTracks Tue 19-May-15 08:21:34

Sure, it's up to you what you actually want from him, book or not. But similarly to the whole moving out thing, it is more about you getting what you need and want here and seeing how he accepts that. it is entirely appropriate and reasonable for you to make demands in your consideration of going forward. Reading a book is NOTHING! It should be a pleasure. I'm not entirely sure how one measures 'change' in anything other than the efforts and attitudes to understanding, hearing and repairing the massive pain that has been inflicted. It is only actions that illustrate this. Words are worse than meaningless (anyone who has an affair is adept and riddled with verbal deception as a tactic, even towards themselves).

Demands don't have to be phrased aggressively. It's normal in every other area of life to state what you need and what is appropriate. In fact it is almost desirable that you reconfigure the power relations, reasonably and clearly. Bending back into a situation of being with a man with the old cliche of 'trying to make things seem like their his idea' is all part of the manipulative entitlement. The idea being that there is an invisible mutual understanding he does (only and always) what he wants to do. And everyone else contorts themselves around that.

tomatoplantproject Tue 19-May-15 08:25:55

Blood - can you come and sit next to us please?

You're helping me see this in an entirely different way.

DrMorbius Tue 19-May-15 08:26:33

I do not know your DH's situation. But the way I see it is that he is in totally unchartered territory. The expectation that he will make it through to end point, successfully without some guidance, I see as somewhat problematic. Especially as it is your vision of the end point (the end point being he does all you expect him to do and more)

It's like expecting him to make a brand new journey without a map. You have your TomTom (Mumsnet), he will need one. So it's not a case of making him read the book as a condition for you. it's more a suggestion to him that he will need the book to help him through his journey. then if he chooses not to read it, that's not your problem.

tomatoplantproject Tue 19-May-15 08:39:59

That makes more sense. I think it's having read the book as a condition of us getting back together that didn't work.

Having it as a roadmap to help him through this - yes - I can see that.

notquitegrownup2 Tue 19-May-15 08:51:21

Tomato, you were going to use this evening to tell your h about how you have felt over the last 7 months or so and to see whether he can take that on board, and respond at all appropriately.

You are now planning to start by asking him about how he feels and about he sees the situation. I am a bit concerned that in doing that you are putting him at the centre of this again, and that you will come away feeling that you haven't been heard again.

It's not wrong to ask him about him - you must have things that you want to find out and clarify in your own mind - but please do ensure that having done that, you also leave time for you. Something like "Right, we've heard about you. Now I want you to listen to me and to hear what I have been through . . . " ?

JohnFarleysRuskin Tue 19-May-15 09:09:09

DH has been having counselling throughout this, hasn't he? So he's not entirely adrift.

I agree with PP. Just state your case, your feelings, your shock, your disappointment, etc, etc. Good luck

tomatoplantproject Tue 19-May-15 12:14:25

I've been thinking again about what I want to say. And actually the stuff I am livid about is:
1) The total and utter betrayal of my trust and our future together
2) The way he behaved towards me whilst he was having the affair and the anger/lack of respect since

The rest - the speculation about how he did it and his weaknesses is noise for now. I think that can wait longer.

I don't think I can have an apology for just the affair and the betrayal of my trust. He needs to listen to my story of what happened to me during that time too.

I think I can let him start off and tell his story but then I need to tell him mine. And then he can go away and think about what steps he needs to take to start putting things right - be that counselling, reading matter, apologies, etc. We can then come together in a couple of weeks with the counsellor present.

Justusemyname Tue 19-May-15 12:16:38

Just for the record, DrM is wrong, there is a Dadsnet but I would not tell him about it so you can use this as your place.

tomatoplantproject Tue 19-May-15 12:19:21

I don't intend to share anything about mumsnet with him!

JohnFarleysRuskin Tue 19-May-15 12:52:26

He needs to listen to my story of what happened to me during that time too.

Yes, I think that's enough of a plan for one night. You must feel v. nervous.

If he's unable to react/give answers/make suggestions on the spot, that's probably fair enough. He needs to hear this.
If he's unable/unwilling to listen, on the other hand, that will tell you a lot. sad

ELIANASGRANNY Tue 19-May-15 12:54:11

This is for the future, but worth considering perhaps. Will you put a time limit on things TomTom, if /when you decide to reconcile. As in say six months, then re-assess. Would that leave you feeling a little more in control?

laurierf Tue 19-May-15 12:57:21

Agree with JohnFR - he has had a LOT of counselling and one thing that really stood out for me from your previous thread was this: I think he thought because he's gone through counselling he would be able to hold my hand while I came to terms with what he has done and patiently explain to me how I should be feeling.

I think you're right to let him go first and then you get to tell him your story without him adding to his own story in response, or interrupting or rebutting, and then he needs to think about what steps he needs to take to rectify things and, as you say, it cannot simply be an apology for the affair because that just won't be enough. The second of the points in your above post is extremely important and he really needs to get that I think, without the need for dadsnet to get the message through, even if he takes a short time to process it. Good luck.

tomatoplantproject Tue 19-May-15 13:09:27

I'm feeling a bit sick to be honest.

He has the ability to put a support team in place. He has his counsellor plus anyone else he reaches out to.

I actually do have a bit of a time limit. Dd's birthday is in November so I have just under 6 months before then, and it's my unofficial deadline for sorting out where I am headed with this. So plenty of time to think and talk and make some decisions with some distance from the affair.

MaMaof04 Tue 19-May-15 13:12:43

Funnily enough it is what the author of the book calls it: a road map, as DrM suggested, to successful rebuilding the marriage. She also says that the book is like an auto repair manual with practical advice; it is based on her extensive experience and numerous clinical observations marriage repairs.
The author states that the betrayer must be willing to be the healer of the betrayed and just the healer without any personal reward to start with.
But she also says that many adulterous partners do not successfully rebuild their marriage despite their willingness because they go about it in the wrong way and because they fail to understand the extent of the devastation his/her affair had on the betrayed spouse. So Tom IMO your number one priority now is to bring him to understand how much he hurt/s you. Maybe you can this evening discuss with him the means both of you are going to use to help you rebuild the marriage e.g. reading the same books, specific books, and discussing them in addition to counseling. (Do you think you should change the counselor because you started with her when his affair was unknown to you- the dynamics might BE slightly biased/misdirected in her sessions- but it is only who can feel whether she is OK for you or not.) Good Luck Tom!

tomatoplantproject Tue 19-May-15 13:53:39

Yes that might be a good idea - to agree how to rebuild. I don't know if that is too much to expect from today.

In the meantime dd is letting loose her creativity making something to go on the wall grin

MaMaof04 Tue 19-May-15 14:36:50

cool grin
who will be with the little artist when you meet him?

JohnFarleysRuskin Tue 19-May-15 14:44:39

I wouldn't discuss re-building tonight (although obviously play it by ear) ... I think this is your chance to spell out coolly what happened to you- I think it will help you a lot. Then over the next few days/weeks both he and you can work out if you're actually up for the hard task of rebuilding a marriage and if so, then you can start mutually addressing how.

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