Hi all,

Thinking a lot and I do think that emotionally detaching is the way to go.

Originally Posted by LH19
Your H is detached right now either because he can take or leave the marriage or because he has zero fear of you ending it.

He has no fear of me ending it. That has been an issue all along. Before I found DB I made it crystal clear that breaking up the family was my bright white line, something I would never forgive him for and something I would obviously never do myself. I remember thinking once I started implementing DB strategies that this was going to be a pretty major challenge for me. Also, because I believe it-- it wasn't a strategy to keep him reeled in or anything. I was raised to think that divorce was not an option. FWIW, my H as well. Marriage is one thing but raising children is another, and to me, I made an unbreakable, sacred vow to my children when I had them, and giving them a two parent household has always been a part of that.

Over the last year, I've come to believe a few things about D that I didn't ever think I would -- one, that if that choice is taken away from me by my H leaving, I would handle and the kids would handle. We would all be okay. (Furious, maybe, but okay.) Two, that there are circumstances under which I could conceivably be the one to pull the trigger on S/D, if I believed it was in the best interests of my children to do so. This is why I've been monitoring their mental health and the family environment so heavily, because the moment I believe it to be toxic for them, I will pull that trigger. The anger I felt during this last cycle when my H finally said he wanted out and looked for an apartment was nearly overwhelming to me, and I wanted him OUT because I knew it wasn't good for the children for us to be under one roof. Anyway, I hear your concerns about the children. I'm very conscious of this and you guys are going to have to trust me on this one.

LH, not that it matters, but I do believe he wants the M. He has been very consistent on saying this since we started this last R attempt (unlike before), and points to his actions-- he's here, he never left, he is choosing this. I'm not worried that I've trapped him or the cage door is closed or anything like that, anymore. He can get up and go tomorrow, if that is what he wants. In a whole lot of ways that would make things easier for me.

Originally Posted by Alison
But in some ways, I think your H, May is wanting you to feel all kinds of things you aren't feeling, and is unable to love you as you are - angry, untrusting, hurt, needing space for those feelings. He can't do it. And you can't love him as he is - selfish, arrogant, flawed, too fragile of ego to be able to countenance, truly, the hurt he's done, and still missing the times when he had someone in his life who admired him and didn't seem to see all those flaws. And instead of acceptance, he's working on you to get you to be in a state where he can feel like he can love you, and you're doing just the same to him, and it's still not a marriage - it's really no different to the ways you were working on each other over this trip away - you holding it over his head for good behaviour, and him working and working at working at you, always with the unspoken threat there was another woman in his life who'd behave nicely and tell him how constantly flawless he was if you couldn't or wouldn't.

Truth.

Originally Posted by Alison
Can you emotionally separate, if you are unwilling to physically separate? Can you just decide - in your head - he is not your husband any more? That he stopped being your husband the second he was unfaithful to you, and as yet, you have not reconciled or begun a new marriage?

I think I can do this. I did this already in my head when we came back from the trip. When he went through that box of notes and mementos and threw them all away in front of me, I had this total eye-opening realization that our M *was* over and had been over since the A started. I just didn't know it. I looked at him and he was no longer my H but someone I'd been married to and someone who had had a full-fledged R with another person. In that moment I just felt acceptance and empathy, even, for both of them. (Maybe this is why that exercise stuck with me so much.)

In the months since then, I have gotten pretty angry (as you all know) about the fact that he did this thing and broke our M without even having the courtesy to tell me about it. But that feeling of our M being over does remain, the feeling that we are in the in-between. Me taking my ring off was a part of that, though I ended up putting it back on a month ago because of the workmen in our house. I do think back to that ritual idea of closure to our M is a good one, something though that is just between H and me, without AP in the picture. (I don't know that he needs to know about it necessarily-- it was just that the ritual we had was all about their R, making it real and then throwing it away, and I think I need something to exorcise her ghost from my brain, and to put our first M away.)

Originally Posted by Alison
Can you accept that if he is not your husband he owes you no more fidelity or care taking or contrition than a civil stranger?

Well, this one is harder. Not sure why. Think it must be part of still living under the same roof and no-one knowing about the situation. I'm not sure I can do this. No matter how much I try to pretend, he's not a civil stranger or a roommate. He's the father of my children and someone I've lived with for 16 years. This one might be outside my ability. Do you think this is a necessary part of emotional separation? Or are there degrees and still OK if I get three stars instead of four?

Originally Posted by Ginger
After reading alisons post, if you dont physically separate, separating mentally as husband and wife might be your best option. You both have expectations of each other that none of you are even close to meeting. Neither are in a place to meet them. What he needs from you, you are not in a place to give and what you need from him, he is not in a place to give.

This expectations part is very helpful. I have had this hesitancy around really embracing the anger, I think because it makes me look at him and not even like him. And then I feel like I have this window right now where my heart is bare and if only he would do XYZ, I could love him again and forgive him. But as time wears on and I work on processing these feelings alone, without him truly remorseful and supportive of my process, I will turn that off. I'll start walling off my heart again and stop caring that we have no emotional or physical intimacy. I was fine with that for seven years and I'm scared I'll be fine with that again.

How do I differentiate between dropping expectations and detaching and letting myself slide back into M1.0? Because as I think I've said before, if I was still M1.0 May, I'd have been delighted with my MR in the spring and probably now-- H doing all kinds of acts of service and not expecting anything of me physically, no PT, no uncomfortable displays of affection. I don't want to be satisfied with that any more, but I feel like that is what I'm signing up for if I detach completely.

And then my head goes to well, I can do this till D8 is 18 and then go live my life.... but I think the real solution is to stop having any expectations one way or the other, stop planning out all the future possible paths, and just be in the moment. Right?

The truth is, this is basically what H has asked for-- just being a family for awhile and letting things happen naturally between us. I've been very hesitant to do this, because I am gun shy about what happened in the spring, and I don't want to relax and let my guard down only to be burnt again. As long as I can hold onto my anger, I have the threads of my escape chute still ready to go. But something these posts has made me realize is that in the spring, I *did* have expectations. If I can manage to drop my expectations and detach my emotional state from whatever may or may not be happening inside his head, then I'll be fine no matter what.

Sage, writing it all out like you suggest will be very helpful for me and I appreciate the extra explanations.

Originally Posted by Sage
Hmm. This feels more of the same May to me. That you have to somehow subjugate your feelings or actions for him. What if you were to allow yourself to feel everything? Do whatever you GD please? Feel sh*tty one day and super happy the next? Practice being really authentic to yourself? Just while doing all this, take notice of what you can control and what you can't, and make sure your expectations stay in the correct column of the spreadsheet.

Yes, you're right, and even in typing it I felt defeated. I have spent some weeks throughout all this rigamarole in the doing and feeling whatever I GD please, and it felt good. That has somehow drifted away as I got more and more focused on my anger and how to channel it appropriately. I think anger is such a difficult emotion for me to handle it has kind of taken over all my bandwidth such that I'm now seeing it as a binary state, angry/not angry, even when the not angry feelings are positive and varied, they're all being lumped into the 'not angry' bucket (and somehow also make me feel like I'm not doing the work I need to do since I need to be angry, GD it, to process this baby and get through to the next step!!)

Originally Posted by Sage
Take stock of how you label emotions. Like zen is good and depression is bad. That you are not further along in your process = bad and reconciling under certain conditions = good. What if you just took a huge deep breath and said to yourself 'bring it on' and let everything little thought and emotion come to you authentically.

Hmmm. you're absolutely right that I do this. Dang, girl, you're breaking me down to the bare-bones framework of how I see and interact with the world. (And maybe my H has a point that I do see the world in black-and-white terms, at least in this arena-- I've never had trouble with all the shades of behavior in a work environment, never taken it personally, just dealt with what came at me and how to best manage various personalities up or down-- but somehow none of that applies in this realm.) Will need to spend some more time here.

I'm feeling much more comfortable that I have a direction to go, and work to do. Easier said than done, to be sure, but I've been able to make progress in the past around slippery boundaries and tiny control behaviors of my own towards my H simply by recognizing they exist and looking for them, so maybe I can now do the same thing around expectations and no longer expending emotional energy on that which I cannot control.

Mumin-- thanks for popping in! My kids are 8 and 10 and that would never work (plus D10 is completely freaked out by COVID and if either of us said we were traveling for anything she would have a total fit).

Thanks, everyone. xx


Me (45) H (41)
M:13 T:17, D8 & D11
4/19 BD #1 ILYB
8/19 BD #2 Long-distance EA
12/19 BD #3 Actually 2 year PA
2-5/20 R attempt #1
6/20 limbo again, back in contact with AP
9/20-present R attempt #2