Journey Through Adultery - 6-08-11

We went to our MC session Monday. Discussed some things. She had us fill out the needs assessment forms. Doing so brought a couple of realizations to me that I'd not considered before. So I'll share them here.
Before I launch on those points, however, let me say this to belay any thoughts that by focusing on where I've fallen short in our relationship, that I'm saying it gave her an excuse to cheat on me, or sin as she did. What I'm recognizing here is what I failed to do that created the environment which made what happened possible. It had created, so to speak, a ticking time bomb that was just waiting for the right spark to come along and ignite it. And one man did come along and take advantage of my wife when she was in a vulnerable position emotionally.
None of that excuses her responsibility for what she did. While she felt sucked into something she was ill prepared to fight, and she did hold off and fight it for a long time, she did have a way of escape from these temptations. She could have said "No," meant it, and walked away, making no further contact with any of the men she ended up getting involved in either physically or emotionally. She sinned. She was responsible for that.
That said, I cannot ignore my own failures for two reasons. One, while identifying where she failed is needed for her own growth and learning how to avoid this happening again, I am not her ultimate judge. However, I am to look at my own short comings and failings in our relationship which fostered a mental state that made her vulnerable to such temptations. If I had done everything "right" would all this have been avoided. Possibly. Hard to really say in the end what might have been.
That said, I've discovered two main areas that I have failed my wife, even if she had never cheated on me, these are areas I should have been meeting her emotional needs and I didn't. I asked her forgiveness for this tonight, and she graciously forgave me.
One of the needs listed on the evaluation sheets was attractiveness. It dawned on me Monday before going to the meeting that I had failed her in this area. For me, she's always been attractive. I don't require a "hot model-like body" to be satisfied in this area. I don't require a lot of makeup and snazzy clothes to tell her she's the most beautiful woman in the world.
Yes, she does look more attractive to me at 185 pounds than she did at 260, but even at 260 I was fully satisfied with how attractive she was to me, because for me looks has less to do with it than personality. And I've always been attracted to her primarily because of her personality. The thing that first caught my eye about her was I said to myself, "You know? This girl is fun to be with."
So when she went from 260 to 185 over a years time in 2008, I did recall commenting on how good she looked, but I didn't really react like, "Wow, you look hot!" I guess in part because how she looked, as long as it wasn't repulsive, wasn't all that important to me. I'd love her the same at 260 as at 185.
But what I failed to take into account is that it had become important to her. When we were first married, she was skinner than she is now, but she didn't think of herself as skinny. I would tell her she wasn't fat, but she wouldn't believe me. She saw herself as fat when she weighed around 165 to 175. But when she lost weight in 2008, she began to see herself as skinny, and sexy.
When I failed to respond to that reality, it was as if I didn't notice, that I wasn't enraptured with her new sex appeal. But she started getting the attention from others. For the first time in her life, guys started flirting with her and she found it very flattering. Meanwhile, I acted like I hardly noticed the "new her" and only indicated that I was happy she was skinnier for her health.
So I failed her in the need to be recognized in how good she looked, how much improvement she had made in her physical appearance, because it wasn't important to me, I erroneously assumed it wasn't important to her. Actually, I felt if I had gone bonkers over her skinnier body, she would have felt all my kind words of how good she looked to me when she was at 260 to be fake and a joke. And they weren't. I truly was attracted to her just as much at 260. But I should have seen that need to affirm her in her progress not only "academically" but also with passion and attention.
That was one, but it isn't the key. When we first started to go through the needs in the book, "His Needs, Her Needs," one jumped out at me as the primary need I'd failed to fulfill in her: Intimate Conversation.
We tried to chat before she went to bed every night. But the scenario often went something like this. I would be working away on something on my computer, often composing an email reply, writing/editing one of my works of fiction, writing/editing a blog post, or any other number of task that I did each night to further my writing career. I craved every minute I could get to spend on writing. And when i had to do something else, like taxes, finances for the church, family commitments, going to football games because my son is in the band, and any other number of various functions one could come up with, I lamented the fact that I was losing writing time to these things, and to some extent, resented it.
So I would be working away. She would come into the room and start preparing for bed. I would keep working away. Sometimes she would start talking about something. I might nod, or go, "Uh hu" but keep working away. I wasn't giving her my undivided time, especially since I'm horrible at doing two things at once. I tend to devote my focus to one thing and to be switching constantly means I can't do either very well. If I'm going to watch a movie, I can't be reading a book or browsing the web. I'm sitting in a chair with a drink or whatever, focused on the screen.
Or on occasion I'll be in the middle of writing a sentence, and she would say something along the lines that she really needed to talk to me. Since I can't do both at the same time very well, I would extract myself from my writing with a grunt, because it felt like I was having to extract myself like a tooth from what I was doing. She interpreted that as I was highly annoyed at having to stop doing what I was doing so she could talk to her. It wasn't so much that I was annoyed, but simply that it isn't easy for me to do that. When I'm focused on something, I'm really deeply focused into it, often to the exclusion of everything going on around me. And if I can't have that deep focus, it is hard for me to get much done.
But that didn't matter. She interpreted it as I really didn't want to talk to her, and it would hurt her feelings. I would then attempt to tell her that it wasn't her, but simply how difficult it was for me to pull away. But that rarely helped. And so we would end up talking about that instead of whatever it was she had wanted to talk about, and she'd be all cold to me.
The real issue was we didn't communicate a whole lot. Sometimes more than others. But the other track this evening ritual did was she wouldn't say anything, and I generally wouldn't stop what was doing until she turned out the light and hopped in bed. But the problem then is I was jumping in too late. She falls asleep fast once her head hits the pillow, especially if she's tired (and she was always tired by the time she came to bed). So trying to talk to her then, if we got in anything, was fairly short lived.
That evening ritual in its various forms was the bulk of our daily communication. I rarely called her while I was at work, and she rarely called me. When I came home, we might say hi, she might have something to tell me, but often when I arrived she was busy getting dinner together, watching one of her favorite TV shows, or doing something on the computer.
And her other attempt to rectify this was to try to get me to do things with her. For years she would go to the grocery store, and occasionally ask if I wanted to come with her. I always said no. Either I had writing stuff I needed to work on, or on Sunday afternoon I was dead and ready to take a nap. Having her out of the house provided some more guaranteed uninterrupted time to get some stuff done. Besides, like many men, shopping at the grocery store was not my idea of how to have a good time. She didn't need me there to shop, so I saw no reason to go and considered it would be a waste of my time.
And when she started going to the gym, she wanted me to go with her. While I knew I needed the exercise, going to the gym on a regular basis would take an hour or two out of every evening, and that much less time I had to write. I didn't feel I had time to exercise, and while I wasn't in the best shape, I wasn't unhealthy either.
What I didn't realize, but should have, is these were cries to spend time with me, to have a chance to interact, to have conversation. To do something together as a couple. She had been pleading with me for years to do this, but I didn't see it as important because it wasn't important to me.
I had thought on this some a few days ago. But the reality of what was happening to her hit me in a new way today as I contemplated the needs assessment we'd filled out.
Though I haven't looked to see what she put as her #1 need, I'm sure this is there: she needed intimate conversation, and to spend more time with me for that to take place. Without that need being met, she knew in her head that I loved her, but she didn't feel it in her heart.
I know that feeling oh, so well. For as I mentioned in an earlier post, in the early part of our marriage, I expected to get sex nearly every day, but i didn't. And five years into our marriage, that hit a crisis point for me. I sat in my car one night having come home from work (I worked at a bank's transit dept. and we got off around 1 in the morning), and was praying about this. I was crying, because I knew in my mind that my wife loved me, but I couldn't understand why she abhorred, it seemed, to have sex with me. I felt she rejected me, and everything inside of me said she really didn't love me.
But the kicker is this. I'd expressed how much it was important for me to feel connected to her, how critical it was for me to feel her love to me for this to happen on a regular basis. But instead I had to plead, beg, and I felt drag her kicking and screaming to have sex with me. And I recall saying that night, and I'm sure I said it to her more than once, "You know how important I'm saying this is for me, even if you don't want to do it, even if you have no motivation to do it, why can't you do it simply because you know it is so important to me? If you love me, and you know I need this, you would fulfill it."
It dawned on me today that what she had done to me back then, I had done to her. For her to feel I loved her, she needed that regular interaction. That time spent together just talking, doesn't matter about what, but it was highly important to her even if for myself, I didn't need a lot of conversation with her to feel I loved her or to feel love from her. It wasn't a need I had high on my list though I knew it was a need that I needed to have met on some level.
But for her, it made her feel just as unloved and not important to me as I felt back then due to the lack of sex in our marriage. She'd been crying out for me to fill this need for years, and I had failed to realize that if it was that important to her, it should be important to me even if I didn't need it. She did. And I had failed her all these years because I never put it on a high enough priority to make it happen. Other things I felt were important took first place because I saw them as important, more important than talking to my wife about general chit-chat that mattered little to anything. But it was never about what we were talking about so much as that we talked, that she mattered enough to me that I would devote time to talking with her, spending time with her.
That hit me today in full force, and I asked her forgiveness for failing her on that point. I can see if I had made her most important, if I had forced myself to carve out time to be with her, go to the store with her, to the gym with her, that man could have come along and flirted with her and tried to entice her and she wouldn't have cared about him. But because she didn't feel I loved her, when someone came along and gave her that kind of attention, who felt she was sexy enough to flirt with and actually want to go to bed with, who was willing to spend some time and conversation with her, it is obvious why that was such a temptation.
While I considered cheating when I felt she didn't love me because she would rarely have sex with me, I never seriously entertained it. And I had opportunity, but was never seriously tempted. If I had been seriously tempted, if a woman had come in at that point and swept me off my feet, fired off my hormones into overdrive, would I have cheated? I don't know the answer to that. It is a possibility. But my wife did end up facing such serious temptation. The desires that erupted in her when that first man acted like she was sexy and he wanted her created a craving for such attention from first that man, and when he moved away, other men, until it ultimately lead to her finding a man who spent time with her, listened to her, talked with her, and in the end, had sex with her.
While I don't know if I had done what I should have, if it would have prevented that series of events from transpiring as they did, I can say it would have made it much less likely she would have been tempted by that if she felt in her heart that I loved her and spent all the time I could to be with her and talk with her.
Since DDay, I've done practically no writing. I only the other day for the first time edited a story I was working on before all this started. All my time has been spent focused on her. I've been going to the gym with her. I'm going shopping with her. We go to counseling, to church, and otherwise sit in our room and spend time talking. We're reading a book together. It's like when we were dating, we want to spend all our free time together.
And guess what? I realized this today as well. Today, for the first time since DDay, which was four weeks ago, I truly feel happy and blessed. All the critical needs I had circled as my five most important to me are being met 100% by her. For the first time in our marriage, I feel like we are at a perfect point, where we are both meeting each others primary needs.
And I'm going to say something I thought in the last four weeks going through the pain I have, that I would never say. But if it took her cheating on me to get me to wake up and take action, to get us to this point where I've pledged to her to make sure she doesn't fall second place to other things, including writing, and to spend time with her and talk with her, even once all this adultery focus dies away, then I'm glad she cheated on me and forced me to get out of my selfish shell and pay attention to what is important to her, and fill that need purely because if it is importance to her, and if I love her as I claim and know I do, then it will be important to me as well.
If going shopping with her and chit chatting about whatever will make her feel I love her as I do, then I will gladly do that. Or whatever it takes to make sure she not only knows I love her, but feels it deep inside of her so that she has no doubts, hesitation, and no one can tempt her to look outside of me for that fulfillment ever again.
For the first time since DDay, I'm actually full of hope and joy for our future. And actually, for the first time in our marriage, I feel I'm totally filled with her love for me on all counts. I want to keep it that way, forever. And the good things is, now I think I know how to make that so, whereas before it was either a mystery or I simply didn't realize that it was so important.
I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful woman to share my life with.
 

Replies

deleted_user
deleted_user

Cole, I love this journal post, especially the last sentence.

For me, it was a bit other way around.

On how my wife looked, she is always beautiful. Some times she would complain about gaining wait. I tried to make her feel better, by constantly flirting with her (this was when she was having the emotional affair as well). It helped her some times. But for women, gaining wait is rocket science for me. I was never able to understand how to react to when my wife asks me, \"do I look fat?\". I know saying, \"honey, you are not fat and even if you are, I love you anyway\" doesn\'t quite help. But they will take that matter into their own hands, mostly by cutting meals. But like I said, constant flirting with her helped a little.

Hope things will go in the direction it is going now for both of us and sends you both hugs and support.
Gabrielle48
Gabrielle48

Wow honey, you said some amazing things here. I love you so much. Thank you! I actually feel peace sometimes now and so much hope. I am also excited about where our relationship is going. Our future could be amazing. I am expecting that.
deleted_user
deleted_user

Well, for sure, the emotional component does seem to have been missing! For women, most of us, love to have a lively conversation, be heard, laugh a little, feel respected for our positive traits, and feel important.

For men, not so much! lol I know this is a very broad generalization, but my H says that he feels closer to me during sex!!! duh???
But if that\'s his love language, I get it, but then I need to remind him, that he is quite capable of being the initiator, as well!

Ummm, I noticed Gabrielle\'s comment.
I take it that this is your wife.
Hmm, so now she is not only privy to your journals, but also other\'s responses! Several people have tried this here, and of course, it is your own decision. But many times, it backfires because, in a few cases, where I know the woman cheated, she signed up here, to read the responses her H got! Many times DS members were very concerned over the H, and got quite tough regarding some of the CHeating Wife\'s actions, and inactions (specifically stating she broke it off with OM, but never did. She also met him privately for lunch, and other social work functions. She was depressed when OM lost his job as they worked together. And she still continued to call, and text him, after swearing off. Not to mention, she had a child, whose paternity was never proved.(

So needless to say, I may just refrain from commenting. I\'m not comfortable with being honest, knowing that the cheating wife, could be spying (as was with the other DS member), and don\'t want to be vulnerable to any responses from her!

Generally, not the best idea, to allow the cheater, to be able to read your innermost thoughts, and be privy to other\'s responses, which may be very favorable. Even though, you have said nothing negative about her, others may desire to state things to you, different perspectives, and may shy away due to Wife\'s involvement! Sorry, but very possibly true!
Cole50
Cole50

She\'s not spying. I knew she was here from the moment she signed up. She is fully accepting of her wrongness in what has happened, and recognizes by this point that she couldn\'t cut off the OM they way she wanted. And I haven\'t refrained from saying what she did to me, and how much it hurt me. She knows.

And we have committed to transparency, for both of us. I\'ve made sure any \"secrets\" I had were revealed even as she did the same. I have nothing to hide from her. Including what I say here. We don\'t hide things from each other, including me. But it is okay if you are honest with your feelings on things. She understands that those who are cheated on are going to have some strong feelings about what the cheating spouse has done. But you\'ll likely not say anything she hasn\'t already beat herself up for already.