My Hard questions revisited, expanded


My original post on hard questions is here.

I chose to revisit this topic not because my wife did anything to make me upset or not trust her, but because, during my recent trip, I had a LOT of time to sit and think. The answers are always painful to hear, and they sting every time I play the mind-movie of my interviewing her in my head. Some,people may not want ot need to hear to the levelof detail I required her to tell me. It may actually set some people back and make the reality much worse. So, why did I ask that level of detail and what did I ask?

I needed to hear everything. There is an uncountable list of reasons why, but I will recall as many of them as my fingers can type. In my gut, I knew something wasn’t right, and I had suspicions from the very beginning about AP1. When I found some evidence, I didn’t wait to find more, I just jumped the gun. She was so confident in her explanation, and I WANTED to believe her, so I did. Thus deepening the negative feelings I had about myself, those that were already present because she said that the 20 pounds I had gained made her not turned on by me, and then finding out 3 nights later that she was ok joining another couple for a threesome. Bit by bit it felt like I was losing what I imagined my life and marriage was. Soon after I discovered her attempting to have one-night stands by way of an online dating site. I thoughtwe were doing better, but I coudn’t feel the connection from her, even though she was doing and trying to act like she should. Then in April I accidentally discovered the affairs. I say accidentally because she had written some details down in her therapy ntebook so that she could confess to her therapist what she was doing, and eventually me.Thankfully, she was at work when I found out. She wasn’t at work when I found out about the online profile, she was in the middle of getting the kids to bed. She had literally just gone upstairs when I grabbed her phone, located her hidden email account, and followed the trail. I called up to her and let her know that I knew about the hidden email account, and her hidden online profile, and we would talk when she came back down.  Putting the kids to bed usually takes 3 minutes or less; she didn’t come down for 20.  I don’t blame her, I was fuming, I was animated.  I yelled, and lied to the kids, telling them that mommy and daddy were happy and just playing a game.  Later that night, I calmed down, she went on a late-night Taco Bell run for me, and then we had sex; of all things we had sex within hours of me finding out about her attempts to have one-night stands.

So, back to the point.  After spending so much time thinking that everything was wrong because there were things wrong with me, I just lost complete trust in myself.  I felt what was going on around me, I just chose to ignore it and place my trust in my wife.  After all, she has my best interests in mind, and if I can’t trust anyone else I should be able to trust her, right?  That is why I asked for the most minute details.  I lived in a HUGE vacuum of truth and honesty for months, the whole time thinking I was doing something wrong, or that things about me (like my weight or unwillingness to let her have sex with another woman AND her husband at the same time!) were wrong.  What did the details actually do for me?

They gave me a sense of control, of reality.  What I was torturing myself with in my head was FAR worse than reality, although the reality still stung very badly.  I had her run me through her first sexual encounter with each affair partner.  No stone left un-turned.  What did I ask?

I asked her to give me every action she, the AP, or they together, did from the time she decided that she was going to go to their home and have sex, until she left.  As she began recounting the events, she was very uncomfortable about giving details.  Her initial recollection involved her going over there, kissing on the couch, going down on him, he going down on her, him finishing and her leaving.  Not enough detail for me.  I wanted to know what pushed her over the line, made her want to go over to AP1’s house.  I asked her what she was thinking and what she was feeling when she decided; she was invited by text message after she worked out with him.  I asked what the drive over there was like, how was traffic, how much attention was she paying to driving and what she was thinking, how her body felt (shaky, calm) and all of those things again after she pulled in his driveway.  Following that, I wanted to know about the short amount of kissing; was he good at it, was it enjoyable, how did it make you feel, what did it make you think about.  What made her decide to go down on him, was he already hard, what his size and shape were, were his pants still on, did he wear underwear, how was he positioned, how were you positioned.  Then I asked about him going down on her, did he ask her if he could, was he good at it, how was she positioned, how was he positioned, was it hard, soft or mixture, was it enjoyable, how did it make her feel, what did it make her think about, did she ever feel like any of it was wrong.  Then I asked her for details about the sex: how was she positioned, how was he positioned, was he in it for him or did he want her to get some enjoyment, did he thrust harder or softer, did he go fast or slow, did he make her wet, who put the condom on, what brand was it, did he cum in her, how long did it take, were her eyes open/did she look into his eyes during all of this, how did it make her feel, what did it make her think.  I asked about lighting in the room, what time of day it was, what the house smelled like, if the air was easy to breathe or felt thick, was she sweating, what was the temperature like, what did the texture of the couch cushions feel like, what did the carpet feel like?  What did the drive home feel like, how did she feel when she saw me for the first time after having the affair.  I asked if it ever occurred that the next day was our 6 year wedding anniversary.

I asked the same questions about the second AP, and I asked more questions about subsequent encounters with them.  She actually had sex with him twice in the restaurant, and gave him oral sex separately, once in the restaurant.  I asked if she loved them, if either of them loved her, what did she tell them about me to justify her actions to them (she said she couldn’t remember everything she told them on this subject), if I ever came into her thoughts during her romps with them.

This is actually a very difficult thing to write, I can hear all of her answers in my head, and I can feel everything I felt when I heard them then, now, as I type this.  Right now, we’re sitting at just over 4 months from when I found out.  Back to how it made me feel in control.

It made me feel like I could trust myself again, because I could feel what was going on, I knew I wasn’t crazy, my mind just hadn’t caught up to my body yet on what the truth really was.  It softened the blow of what I imagined in my head had actually happened, and it helped me speed up the process as far as internalizing and torturing myself.  Remember, I was still under the feeling that I was all sorts of fucked up, physically and mentally, and that all of this was my fault-even if she did say that it wasn’t me.

When I talked, I felt like I was in a position of being informed.  There was an added benefit of forcing her to admit to herself everything that she had done and how she felt when she was doing.

There are still some issues that will heal over time.  I recently drafted an agreement for us about how to behave, how to treat each other, and how to communicate.  She wasn’t too happy about it, not at all.  Each item in the agreement applied to both of us equally, and nothing specifically targeted her because of her actions.  I did it at my therapist’s recommendation, reinforced by a few other people who have done things along the same lines.  Almost all of my issues right now stem from a feeling of having no control over my things that happen in my life.  This agreement was my attempt to regain some control and make myself feel safe again, at least at home. I still haven’t really talked to my wife about putting it up here, we may just leave that little as a private thing between us.

Interesting to note, that she had the same kind of behavior with the boyfriend she had for years, just before she left him, and later we got back together and got married.  She was open about what she had done behind her boyfriend’s back.  I wondered before we got married if she would ever do that to me; she had already proven that she could do it to someone.  I knew she loved me, I could feel her love.  Every now and then when I couldn’t, after we were married, I wondered if she was behaving the same way and I just didn’t know it.  It’s hard knowing what happened, it’s almost just as hard knowing that it was because she was in a manic episode; I can hold her responsible, but it isn’t fully her fault.  It is difficult to be mad at her under those circumstances.  I love her so much, I know she loves me.  She’s the best thing that ever happened to me.  We have times now where one or both of us isn’t connected to the other, and that kind of thing is going to happen after having this kind of traumatic stress placed on the marriage.  For 4 months though, I think we’re doing alright.  I can still say that, even though she hurt me more than anything or anyone ever has, she is the best thing that ever happened to me, and I am happy to be married to her.  She is a wonderful person, she just did some bad things.  She’s getting better, I’m getting better, we’re getting better.

Having a bipolar wife means…


That she will have just as hard of a time dealing wth who she is and what she has done as I will.
That at the very minimum, my life will be very interesting;
That she could not have a better husband than me;
That I will have to be vigilant for us, for the rest of our lives;
That there will be many times where I will like this is impossible to do or that I cannot go any further;
That there will be episodes in the future;
That I will feel like sometimes she doesn’t love me anymore;
That I will not know if anymore affairs happen until she has come to terms with the fact that they did;
That I will spend a significant amount of time worrying about whether or not she is having an affair;
That, despite all the destruction her episodes can cause, I can say as a fact she is the most wonderful woman I will ever meet;
That, despite all the pain she can cause me, I am still blessed to love, and be loved by, her;
That eventually I may want to abandon my vows of marriage to her, even as in her episode she,broke hers to me, but I won’t, because I love her and will not abandon her in her time of need.
I am in my marriage to stay, until she no longer wants me, or no longer wants to uphold her vows when she is not in an episode.
I will be strong for you when you can’t bear the weight of your emotions
I will see for you when the world is a blur in your mind
I will hear for you when the word is a roaring tornado of sound;
I will feel for you when you become detached from the world;
I will be here for you, when all of the world has left you.
I love you.

“I am the Master of my fate; I am the Captain of my soul.”

Needs, Communication, and filling gaps in the Information Environment.


In the past few days I’ve seen and responded to a number of posts about blame and infidelity and one in particular about how a spouse could have an affair if they really loved their partner ( http://ourjourneyafterhisaffair.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/that-age-old-question-after-the-discovery-of-an-affair/#comment-312 ).  A subscriber to that blog argued that the betrayed spouse has responsibility in that they failed to meet the wayward spouse’s needs, and that is why the wayward spouse strayed. 

I want to be clear in this: that I am not bashing that poster, or wayward spouses/partners, and I am not bashing my wife.  These are my thoughts on most affairs, needs, and communications.

On why affairs happen:  I believe each situation is unique.  Either way, most times the affair is a selfish act.  If you feel that your needs aren’t being met and you decide to satisfy them somewhere else, you are at fault.  Communication here is key.  Let’s take sexual attention as the example.  If you feel that you need more sexual attention than you are getting, and you ask daily, or every other day, or every three days to have sex, are you really communicating that you have a need?  Do you realize that your need for sexual attention may be a symptom of the true need that you failed to properly acknowledge?  Asking more often to have sex is not the same thing as asking for sex more often.  If on Monday I ask to have sex, and then Wednesday I ask to have sex, and then again on Friday, have I clearly, specifically, said that I need more sexual attention?  No.  If I said “Babe, I need more sexual attention from you.  I would like to have sex once every 3 days when our schedule permits.  If we find our schedules aren’t permitting, I would like to modify our schedules to make this happen” one could extrapolate that I clearly expressed my desire for more sexual attention.  Even better, I expressly described how much more sexual attention I wanted.  What could I have done better?  Described, in better detail, the type of attention that I wanted. If you consider oral sex part of intercourse and arent getting it, say something. If you want to try other things in the bedroom, say it. Before you express your need, however, you need to identify the underlying cause of that need.
Our previous need was to try new things in the bedroom. You need to ask yourself questions. You need to figure out what you’ll gain from it, if it will solve problems, and most importantly, ASSESS HOW CRITICAL THE NEED IS. If you want to try new things in bed, is it because you want to take your sex life to the next level, or is it because sex has become a routine thing and you want to spice it up? If sex has become routine, are there other things that have become routine, and lost their special meaning between you and your spouse? After you’ve answered those questions, it is time to assess the criticality of those needs. How important is the need to you? Is anal sex so important you are willing to cheat on your partner for it? Is having sex more often really going to reignite your marriage, and if your spouse refuses, is it worth the possibility of losing them to get more sex?

So the process is:
1. Identify a shortfall in your life.
2. Determine the difference between a desire (more sex) and a need (reignite passion in a stale marriage)
3. Determine the criticality of the desire, and/or need
4. Have a plan of action to implement what you believe is a solution (more sex, for example)
5. Identify measures of performance (we did or did not have sex) and measures of effectiveness (the sex did, or did not satisfy my desire or need)
6. Communicate the desire or need, your solution, your plan for implementing your solution, and what you hope to accomplish.
7. STATE THE CRITICALITY OF YOUR DESIRE OR NEED TO YOUR SPOUSE.
8. Be prepared for your spouse to provide alternate solutions, alternate implementation, to just say no, or to require you to compensate him/her by satisfying one of their desires/needs.

One last thing on communication:
A common phrase in the Corps is “shoot, move, communicate.” If you are not shooting, you should be moving or communicating. With respect to communication, here are the key items:
1. What do I know? (Your desires and needs)
2. Who needs to know it? (Your spouse, possibly someone in the medical field)
3. How can I communicate with them? (Talking, phone, texting, email, letter)
4. When can I communicate with them? (You have no cell service, they are on a flight, you’re at the shooting range with them)
If you’ve communicated, you should be acting. If you’ve satisfied all if your desires and needs, the time has come to start thinking outside the box and trying new things within the limits you and your spouse set.