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Discussion Starter #1
I don't know if this is the right place to post this, but I need help.

I had an affair that lasted a couple months and ended about 6 months ago. My wife and I reconciled, and by all appearances our marriage is ok.

My problem is that I can't get the other woman out of my head. I have had no contact with her, but I think about her every day. Before we broke off contact, I know she had found another man and I burn with jealousy and a desire to smash his face.

I want to have my mind back. I would delete all knowledge of her existence if I could; completely delete her from memory. Instead she pops up in my mind every single day. If I think about going out, I'll think about how much more fun it would be with her. She even comes up often in conversation with my wife, even though I never bring her up. The truth is that I miss her and I hate that I do.

Everything about these thoughts is irrational. I've completely lost myself.

How do I make it stop!? Help me!
 

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I'm a BS, so I'm not the best person to be answering this, but I did read a bunch of psychology books on infidelity and it sounds like what you're experiencing could be pretty normal. I'm not sure about six months out, though. Have you tried IC?
 

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So, seeking out counseling is important. You're experiencing what is known as affair fog. The attachment to the OW is like an addiction. It's hard to break off but you must.

Every time the OW comes to mind, picture your wife's pain. After a while, the thought of OW will be associated with pain.

Spend lots and lots of one one one time with your wife. Talk about how you met and fell in love. Do things together that you enjoy, take walks, have dinner. As much time as you can devote to your wife, do it. Make love to her as much as possible, cuddle and hold her.
 
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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I'm a BS, so I'm not the best person to be answering this, but I did read a bunch of psychology books on infidelity and it sounds like what you're experiencing could be pretty normal. I'm not sure about six months out, though. Have you tried IC?
IC? Counseling? I was seeing a therapist at the recommendation of a close friend who was aware of my situation near the end of the affair. The therapist didn't seem to help at all. I discovered I had a lot of underlying issues from childhood that she says adversely affected how I handle emotion and relationships. She never seemed to point me to anything that would help though. It just seemed like I was going in there every week and just telling the week's soap opera and all my inner conflicts... with no light at the end of the tunnel or suggestions as to what to do. If I was hard on myself she'd compliment me, if I was passing blame she'd attack me. I understand more about myself, but she never gave me a solution! The books she asked me to read basically categorize me as Asocial and/or NPD and am conditioned to instability... so normal calm life and love seems like a problem to me. She had me buy this love book that's filled with ideas to rekindle relationships and I've been following it with my wife, but I'm still stuck with thoughts of the OW.

The therapist did give me an analogy that rings pretty true: I am a cup with a hole it it. The water in the cup is my sense of worth and happiness, and I use people to fill the cup because I can't fill it myself. I maintain relationships as long as they're giving me this narcisstic supply... filling my cup. When the cup is full I think I'm awesome. When the cup is empty I think I'm worthless and seek out new sources to fill it. No matter what, the cup drains. She said I needed to learn to fill my own cup. But she never seemed to get back to the real world and tell me how to do that.

Eventually I became fed up with therapy being useless metaphoric babbling, and constantly talking about it making myself even more insane. So I quit going and I just went and killed the affair through sheer force of will, staying with my wife because it was the more logical thing to do (it had the least risk).

I'm trying hard to be a good husband, but I feel betrayed by my own thoughts. I'm in hell.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Every time the OW comes to mind, picture your wife's pain. After a while, the thought of OW will be associated with pain.
The big reason I went to counseling was that I didn't really feel the guilt people talk about and I didn't know what I wanted. I rationalized everything away and apparently I suck at proper empathy. I rationally don't like my wife feeling hurt, but I think there's something wrong with the way I process it as an emotion. Hard to explain. Despite all this, I love my wife... if I even know what love is. I know it doesn't make sense and I'm explaining the best I can. Its like I'm a vampire and I've sucked her dry. Nothing she does feeds me the way it used to. I know that I'm the problem.

Spend lots and lots of one one one time with your wife. Talk about how you met and fell in love. Do things together that you enjoy, take walks, have dinner. As much time as you can devote to your wife, do it. Make love to her as much as possible, cuddle and hold her.
I've been trying to - I've taken over most of the household chores, we go out just us every other week, but like I said, when I take her out my stupid brain thinks "this would be more fun w OW". When I think about she was when we met and fell in love, I think "you used to be like this".

On the sexual side, we have a communication problem. She prefers me to be the initiator... to just come and touch and put her to be in the mood. I get tired of feeling like I need to convince her, I want to be lured... I want some indication that she actually desires me (and yes, I'm a good looking guy, I take very good care of myself; she is still hot too). Because of this and kids and general life, we don't have much sex. She even tells me that she doesn't feel confident enough to lure me. The other day she was sitting on the couch in a way I thought was provacative and I went after her. Turned out it was that time of the month, and she wasn't trying to get my attention. ::: frustrating ::: I've asked her if there are things I can do to make her more sexually interested in coming at me since she doesn't feel comfortable giving me signals (she used to come at me all the time years ago). She says she always thinks I'm hot, she likes seeing me in the shower or whatever, but she doesn't want to initiate. Its like chicken and egg.

I'll deal with all our common problems, but being able to keep my mind off the OW is entirely on me, and I can't seem to do it and its driving me crazy. I hate it. I don't know what to do.
 

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I would try MC.

As for thinking of the OW I would suggest that you stop your self from thinking about her the moment you start to think of her. If you are thinking "this would be more fun with her" stop your self and say to your self "this is going to be a great time with my wife" You have complete control over what you are thinking. Eventually these unwanted thoughts will stop but you have to take control of what you are letting your mind do.
 

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You had a crappy therapist - find one who does less 'touchy feely' sessions and more assignment based sessions where you have a specific homework assignment for the week.

IF, and I mean IF, you are truly remorseful for what you have done, then you will bend over backwards to do the things I talked about above and stop making excuses about why you can't, or won't, etc.

YOU are the one who destroyed the trust in the marriage and YOU are the one who needs to do the heavy lifting to fix it - including bringing back sex and intimacy. Start with light seducing, via text during the day talk about what you are going to do to her later. Ask her to email you telling you what she wants you do to - detailed. It will begin that process.

Since you can't or won't feel empathy for your wife, then every time the OW comes to mind, shut it down. Don't allow yourself to dwell or continue the thought. Period. If you can't commit to that, then do your wife a favor and file for divorce because you don't really love her.
 

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IC? Counseling? I was seeing a therapist at the recommendation of a close friend who was aware of my situation near the end of the affair. The therapist didn't seem to help at all. I discovered I had a lot of underlying issues from childhood that she says adversely affected how I handle emotion and relationships. She never seemed to point me to anything that would help though. It just seemed like I was going in there every week and just telling the week's soap opera and all my inner conflicts... with no light at the end of the tunnel or suggestions as to what to do. If I was hard on myself she'd compliment me, if I was passing blame she'd attack me. I understand more about myself, but she never gave me a solution! The books she asked me to read basically categorize me as Asocial and/or NPD and am conditioned to instability... so normal calm life and love seems like a problem to me. She had me buy this love book that's filled with ideas to rekindle relationships and I've been following it with my wife, but I'm still stuck with thoughts of the OW.

The therapist did give me an analogy that rings pretty true: I am a cup with a hole it it. The water in the cup is my sense of worth and happiness, and I use people to fill the cup because I can't fill it myself. I maintain relationships as long as they're giving me this narcisstic supply... filling my cup. When the cup is full I think I'm awesome. When the cup is empty I think I'm worthless and seek out new sources to fill it. No matter what, the cup drains. She said I needed to learn to fill my own cup. But she never seemed to get back to the real world and tell me how to do that.

Eventually I became fed up with therapy being useless metaphoric babbling, and constantly talking about it making myself even more insane. So I quit going and I just went and killed the affair through sheer force of will, staying with my wife because it was the more logical thing to do (it had the least risk).

I'm trying hard to be a good husband, but I feel betrayed by my own thoughts. I'm in hell.
Your therapist may be hitting the nail on the head. It may be hard to accept that information, but it may be true.

If you are still thinking about this affair women then you are not into your marriage and truly focused on your wife. This is not fair to her or to you.

If you truly think the therapist information does not fit you, then maybe hypnosis will help break the addictive focus on your ex affair partner. It's worth a try. You need to have reinforcement sessions periodically until the addiction is broken.
 

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It is upto you to resolve to ignore your affair partner. Although it takes time. Ignore and ignore and ignore every thought about her.

The more you ignore, the more you win.

You must also realize your own deficiencies in being loyal to your wife. If you have OW in your mind, you are becoming disloyal to your wife.
 

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every time the OW comes to mind, shut it down. Don't allow yourself to dwell or continue the thought. Period. If you can't commit to that, then do your wife a favor and file for divorce because you don't really love her.
This. Don't relive, don't fantasize, don't daydream, don't feed it. You can't avoid poping thoughts, you can decide to reject them and refocus.
Was the OW a persuer, did she chase you or was it the opposite way? What happened when you and your wife got together, did he chase you?

Brad new toys always draw attention even when the old one is still very enjoyable.
Unless you reframe your need of external valitation by filling your soul with healthy things the emptiness will be there forever.
Don't you think your wife would enjoy a new toy too?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
You had a crappy therapist - find one who does less 'touchy feely' sessions and more assignment based sessions where you have a specific homework assignment for the week.
She did give me a couple assignments... things like listing what I needed, and things I loved about my wife, reading assignments etc.

YOU are the one who destroyed the trust in the marriage and YOU are the one who needs to do the heavy lifting to fix it - including bringing back sex and intimacy. Start with light seducing, via text during the day talk about what you are going to do to her later. Ask her to email you telling you what she wants you do to - detailed. It will begin that process.
I have been doing that. We still fizzle out. By the time we get from texting at work, to picking up kids and afterschool activities, dinner, baths and bedtime... what's built up is long gone. I feel strange coming on to her for sex if she's not giving me any sort of signals... and she can't tell me what I should do to send a signal to her. She says she always thinks I'm just playing around and dismisses it. This is all okay though, its something we're aware of, talking about and are working on.

Since you can't or won't feel empathy for your wife, then every time the OW comes to mind, shut it down. Don't allow yourself to dwell or continue the thought. Period. If you can't commit to that, then do your wife a favor and file for divorce because you don't really love her.
Its not that I can't or won't... its that I just don't have this feeling of pain/guilt over what I did even though I know it was wrong and a mistake. I feel worse that the OW keeps popping into my mind when I don't want to think about her than I do over the affair itself... and I know that's terrible, but there it is. My therapist said it was an asocial thing or something... that I've put my wife in a sort of emotional box and shut her out. Maybe a defense from things I was unhappy about in our marriage... or maybe from feeling I did wrong? I dont know. Like I shut off from her emotionally, and that I probably wouldn't feel guilty until I was emotionally connected again.

I DEFINITELY don't dwell on the OW... these are passing thoughts, but they keep coming regularly. It was really hard to go back, cutting off the affair felt like cutting off my arm. I almost didn't out of simply not wanting to face the music so to speak. I thought long and hard about just running away. I feel like I have no credibility/authority at home anymore... like I have no right to counter anything my wife has to say, I'm inclined to just defer to whatever she wants since she has this eternal thing to hold over my head. Then the OW pops in my head and I feel like I have control of nothing.

Does life ever get back to normal or good again or is the well poisoned?
 

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It's a choice - choose to put the OW out of your mind and put ALL your attention and efforts on your wife (which you seem to be unwilling to do) OR

Do your wife a favor and file for divorce because you don't really love her.

No man or woman wants to be Plan B in their own marriage.
 

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I am a pretty hurt BS so here are my thoughts: I do not think you are ready to be with your wife and pushing it won't make it better. The only way you will be able to be with her and your family is when you realize that yo DO love her and the only thing you want in your life is to be with her.

Sorry but if this is not what you are thinking or feeling you are not going to be able to have a succesful R and will only hurt her again. Do IC and/or MC but I do not think you guys should be together.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
This. Don't relive, don't fantasize, don't daydream, don't feed it. You can't avoid poping thoughts, you can decide to reject them and refocus.
Was the OW a persuer, did she chase you or was it the opposite way? What happened when you and your wife got together, did he chase you?

Brad new toys always draw attention even when the old one is still very enjoyable.
Unless you reframe your need of external valitation by filling your soul with healthy things the emptiness will be there forever.
Don't you think your wife would enjoy a new toy too?
I don't relive or fantasize at all. Its the pop-in thoughts that are driving me crazy. Its like several times a day. Some are triggered by events I might expect, like a boring night sitting with my wife watching tv, or struggling with the kids... others come in the form of comparison when my wife is telling me some story or whatever in the car and it dawns on me how disinterested in the story I am even though I'm trying to listen... and I end up thinking about how much I enjoyed talking to the OW. The instant comparisons in my head come over and over. Then I feel like crap for not being able to control where my mind goes... I get angry at myself. I'm in a very bad place. I feel like a terrible person. I feel like I have no value and have no right to speak... anything I say just gets viewed as an excuse or defense of my actions or a rationalization. I'm in no-man's land.

As far as who pursued who, its somewhat complicated. I basically had an emotional affair with one woman first, and a full-blown affair with another. The first woman pursued me hard. I had blown off aggressive pursuits by other women during my marriage before... but this one came during a time I was already discontent at home... that's the only reason I can think as to why I didn't shut her down as I had done others in the past. It felt so amazing that this woman was so in to me, and I really missed having that feeling. Before anything happened though, she did a 180 and got with another guy. I felt rejected... and wanted the feeling back.

So then I actively pursued someone else and got the feeling back. I can only describe it as an addiction. I'd have done almost anything to feel that way again and stop feeling rejected or ignored (home). So the affair began... and the OW was another of the types that fill you up with praise and thinks you're the greatest thing since sliced bread. I can't even describe the feeling.

I was in a deep depression when I met my future wife at the start of college. I had basically turned emotional life off and was just putting one foot in front of the other until I could get somewhere I wanted to be. I had extremely low self esteen and was in and out of relationships with whomever came along showing interest (boy did I have some ugly gfs... I shudder now at how low my standards were). My wife spotted me days before I spotted her. The day I finally did see her, she waved at me and I chased. We went out a few times, she literally showed me off to her friends... I thought it was a joke at my expense at first. I thought she was soo far out of my league. I never would have bothered to try to pick her up if not for her clear signs of interest. Even after we started dating, I probably would have sabotaged it with my insecurity if not for how crazy about me she seemed to be.

I've come to understand via therapy that this is textbook narcisism (yeah, I tend to think I'm great when it comes to certain things... I'm not as bad as what I've read of narcisists though) and low self esteem. Knowing doesn't seem to help.

I don't know that my wife would enjoy a new toy. She still tells me regularly that if we had divorced she would probably just be alone for a long long time because she's not attracted to and generally doesn't like other men, and has few opportunities to meet someone. Even so, for about two months after cutting off the affair, I was sure she would cheat on me to get even... its what I would probably do. I'm not sure I didn't welcome the idea in the twisted sense that at least she would have nothing to hold over my head. No ace in the hole she could pull out whenever we're butting heads... not that she ever has. At the least it would have restored some balance of power in the relationship rather than my feeling like a beaten dog. Would I have been angry or jealous? Probably, but that would have been buried under a deep layer of "I deserved it".

It wasn't even the physical part that bothered her most. It was that I was having my emotional needs met by someone else. That I was sharing intimate knowledge and companionship with someone else. I valued someone else above her, to make me feel better about myself.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
It's a choice - choose to put the OW out of your mind and put ALL your attention and efforts on your wife (which you seem to be unwilling to do)
Why do you think I'm unwilling? This is what I've been trying to do with everything I have. I'm here because thoughts of the OW keep coming up involuntarily.

If there were a way to erase it all from my mind I would. It just won't stop. I have put pictures of my family on my phone lock screen, my desktops, laptop, frames in my office... I schedule family activities and date nights, I've taken on most of the household chores, I've stopped doing things I traditionally do that she dislikes (staying up later than her for example).

Still these thoughts come. I'd have thought after so many months this would have gone away by now.
 

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Feedbackloop,

When your wife found out about your affair; what was the aftermath? Was it rug swept to any degree by her? Did you have to suffer through not knowing whether she would stay with you? Did you fully understand the pain she must have endured?

When CS's suffer significant emotional consequences of their betrayal, this can help them snap out of the affair fog. I'm wondering if your wife helped you suffer them. If not, she could have used this forum.

I'll leave it up to someone more knowledgeable about narcissism than me, to suggest that could be part of your problem.
 
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