letter to AP

Mrs B posted earlier today (see http://bubsyd.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/a-letter-to-his-lover-2/) about a letter I sent to my affair partner.

As Mrs B said, I was quite resistant to sending this – this woman had proven herself to being quite unstable and there was no telling what she’d do.   Also, our counsellor had previously said that this just serves to put us mentally back to that day – ie it doesn’t help to move forwards.

But 2/3 weeks ago, Mrs B gave me a different perspective on this – the AP had been very spiteful to Mrs B and I needed to stand up for Mrs B and tell the AP how wrong she’d been.     I hadn’t really seen this point of view until she said it to me.

Anyway, the letter was sent – but there was no reply.    I think the AP wants nothing more to do with us – which i can’t say I’m unhappy about.    But it would have been good to see some sign of remorse for her part in our affair – alas there seems to be none.

Mrs B commented that I was “doing as much as I could to help her and fix this whole mess”.    That’s true – I want more than anything to fix things.    I am looking inside myself more than any member of my family ever has – initially it was incredibly uncomfortable but it’s starting to feel more natural.   I will keep working in any way I can to fix the mess and try to repair the damage I’ve done.

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It’s not just a game

I’ve always liked playing games – board games, card games and electronic games.   Initially electronic games were big things that hooked up to TVs and they had very little functionality – but with the miniaturisation of electronics, there came a point where games could go onto phones.   For me this came when I got my first iPhone about 4 years ago.

Initially I did download quite a few games – things like Angry Birds, Peggle, Doodle Jump and Flight Control.    All little games that you could play in a few minutes whilst on a train or wherever.

But maybe 18 months ago, I downloaded a few different games – they were largely still the same small games but with a big difference – they had a chat facility.     You didn’t have to use this facility – but it was there.    Also, these games were played against someone – you had to choose an opponent.   

I’ve always enjoyed games where you play against someone over those where you play against your PC (/XBox / phone etc) It’s more satisfying when you beat a “real person”.

So not only was I playing against a real person but there was also a chat facility. Initially I never used this but after a while, someone made a comment like “good move” or something similar and I replied.

I love talking (some of the pre-Hoffman feedback I got said that I was always happiest when talking) so this kind of communication was great. You could reply whenever you wanted, and if someone didn’t seem very interesting, you could just ignore them without it being a tough confrontation (which my personality type wasn’t able to do). So it became quite habit forming and I enjoyed the attention.

As for whether it became addictive, I’m not an expert so can’t comment – I know I spent quite a bit of time playing these games so arguably was addicted to a degree. But after D-day, I found it easy to stop and I don’t miss it at all – which suggests it wasn’t an addiction. What I do know is that I spent quite a bit of time playing.

The conversations always followed the same pattern – swapping names, countries and jobs. In most cases they fizzled out after that but with a few, they carried on. You’d chat a bit more and learn a little more about the other person and develop a pseudo friendship. I say pseudo because I realise now just how shallow these things are – but I didn’t realise at the time.

After a while I got to a point where I was actually excited when I saw replies on the games, knowing that there was some chat awaiting my response. This was almost entirely inane babble but I still got excited by it. I wonder now if that was because Mrs B and I had grown apart – thus other attention seemed more valuable. Or was it because I was working from home (so had far less social interaction in the daytime). I guess it was a bit of both – but I realise now how superficial this chat was – and how it didn’t go any way to filling the void that Mrs B and I had.

All of these conversations were secret from Mrs B so were completely wrong. One lead to my having an inappropriate conversation so was even more wrong.

I am trying to understand this aspect of my character. I know I am someone who needs social interaction and this was lacking through my working at home. And Mrs B and I had grown quite far apart – but was that it ? Why didn’t I try to fix that lack of socialising through fixing things with Mrs B or from talking more to my real friends ?

Online games were not a factor in my having my affair – but they did take up a lot of my time and to an extent I was addicted. Also, receiving this attention meant I was even less likely to try to fix the emotional issues between Mrs B and I. So this is something I definitely need to understand.

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It’s hard to look inside yourself

I’m going on the Hoffman process in 2 months and there is a stack of pre-course work that I have started to do. The first thing is to list negative personality characteristics about myself and about my parents. I’m happy to be as open and honest as I can – and the whole process is about dealing with the negatives – so honesty is the key. But I thought it’d be helpful to get feedback from family and friends – so I sent the list of traits out with a request for them to be brutally honest. The first reply soon followed – and my colleague was indeed brutally honest. His covering mail said it was “quite horrible to write – but I imagine tougher to read”. He’s right. Whilst there is nothing in here that’s really news to me, it’s tough to read through a list of negatives from a colleague (or anyone else). It makes you realise that some of these traits are really quite apparent – as I only see this guy maybe every 3 weeks. Mrs B and I discussed it over lunch in a local restaurant and I was quite teary.

I am dreading getting Mrs B’s feedback so much. But it’s vital for the work that I get it.

Anyway, he had a list of maybe 200 traits to chose from. Here’s what he chose :

Non-demonstrative
——————
Unenthusiastic
there are occasions where you’ve sounded cheesed off on conference calls

Addictions:
——————
Food – not sure about an addiction, but certainly a slight obsession with food

TV – not the watching of it, more an addiction to the latest technological items

Dependent:
——————
Needs permission – often felt you can’t agree to anything until you’ve obtained the relevant permission (over the entire 3 years I’ve known you)

Martyr:
———
Doesn’t seek or accept help – some of your pieces of work could be more inclusive rather than you just working in isolation and delivering an end result. You do, however, sometimes ask for help.

Compulsive:
——————
Verbal overkill/”broken record?” – on occasion when explaining
something you’ll speak very quickly (almost like verbal diarrhoea) as if
you’re trying to beat the listener into submission.

Image Seeker
——————
Show Off/Notice me – You always appear most comfortable when
you’re speaking and people are listening to you.

Extravagant – extravagant holidays, purchases, etc.

Has to have the best – thinking of having the best TV, best sound system, etc.

Needs to impress others – not sure if it’s a need to impress, but sometimes you come across as if you’re bragging.

Over-pleasing
——————
Difficult to say ‘no’- on numerous occasions I’ve heard you say “I 100% agree with you”, but you then go on to totally disagree but without having said no.

Controlling
——————
Dominating – there’s a danger that you can dominate a conversation. Sometimes you’ll state something as if it’s fact, when it’s really opinion. Could be difficult for more junior members to challenge you.

I know best – As above

Domineering/arrogant – As above. More the domineering than
arrogant.

Rationaliser/Defensive
—————————
Has to have last word / Know-it-all – Danger than you come across as a
know-it-all. I can recall you being referred to as the ‘guru’

Potentially people may be more reluctant to challenge you.

Antagonistic
——————
Stubborn – I recall conversation between you and others where you’ve been rather stubborn about your position.

Money
———
Materialist – Have the impression you’re quite materialistic

Excessive gift giver/’Love buyer’ – Examples of extravagant purchases to please others.

Work
———
Trapped in a job – What I mean by this is it’s unclear where your career is going with your current role at our company.

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Retrouvaille

Mrs B and i spent the weekend in a local hotel – not for a romantic weekend but instead on a couple’s communication course called Retrouvaille (see retrouvaille.Org if you want to find out more)

The organisation was set up by the catholic church in an effort to get couples communicating more, recognising that communication is a key factor in many marital problems.

There were 16 couples in all plus 3 couples who were running it. These 3 couples had all had marital difficulties themselves and had attended the course a few years ago.

The course started at 7pm Friday and went on through the weekend. We are also going to 4 saturday sessions in the future. The future sessions cover things like conflict management, but the weekend was solely about communication. They focus on communicating how we feel – i guess because talking about superficial stuff isnt complicated whereas discussing emotions can be.

They covered a number of topics – but it was all around a central technique which they call Dialogue. The idea is quite simple :
– You each consider a question
– you write a letter to your spouse explaining your feelings on the question
– you write for 10 minutes each (they suggest doing this in quiet and separately so you’re not tempted to see what the other is doing
– you swap letters
– you read your spouse’s letter twice in quiet – once to pick up facts and once to pick up emotions
– you take turns to comment on your spouse’s letter, ensuring you understand what they are feeling and the strength of those feelings

The ideas of this is that it gives you a framework for discussion / stops you interupting / allows you to focus on emotions, etc

Its early days in using the technique but it does definitely have benefits. We are given homework to do each night through the course and we’re going to stick at it until at least the end – then we’ll decide if it’s working for us. The couples who ran the course gave detailed accounts of the problems they’d had and how this had helped. Granted they still had occassional issues as most couples do – but they had got over the key crises in their marriages.

I hope it works as well for us. Communication was a big issue for us – so we certainly needed help !

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Positives and negatives

Our holiday was definitely a rollercoaster and I’m not talking about the rides at Disney.   From a marital perspective, there were some highs and lows.

The main low was the huge argument we had about my not supporting her enough – and I totally see her point of view.    I am not proactive enough in seeing how she is doing, and in reassuring her.   And I know that falling asleep when she was upset was very frustrating for her leaving her with the feeling that I don’t care.   

There were other lows too – seeing Mrs B incredibly upset over what I’ve done to her, having our son ask us if we were going to get divorced, and having to sit with both kids and explain a bit more about what we’re going through.

But there were some highs too.   Ok, “high” is a relative term – as whatever good times we do have, they are tinged with the ever present knowledge of my affair and what it has done to our relationship.

The day before the holiday, she blogged that maybe I am finally putting us ahead of me.   I feel like I am changing – but it’s good to see that she is seeing it too.    Again, I know these are small steps and I know I have a long way to go – but it’s progress.

A few days into the holiday, my wife said that she felt happy for the first time in ages – I know it was short lived but it is a small sign of an improvement to her feelings.   Small, yes, but I’ll take any positives that I can find.

Mrs B clearly does not know how things are going to end up.  But she told me that she doesn’t feel it will end up in divorce.   I know it’s an unknown but I hope she’s proven to be correct

We had some very close times over the holiday.   We had the kids with us so weren’t able to have any date nights etc – but I feel that we are growing closer as time goes on – and this can only be a good thing.

We are communicating more too.   Last night we stayed up talking until 3am which was great.    It was punctuated by cuddles and kissing and was lovely.

So yes, there are some downs for sure.   But there are some signs of improvements too.   And I definitely feel like we are closer which ultimately is what Mrs B wanted when she talked to me a few years ago.    Throughout these recent months, I’ve regretted a lot how I didn’t deal with that at the time – I think the reason being simply that I wasn’t able to deal with admitting that I had failed on our marriage, so followed my upbringing and buried my head in the sand.    But my regret is now bigger – as I’m realising how much I like opening up to Mrs B and how much I enjoy our conversations & increasing intimacy.

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Tattoo

I blogged about this a while ago – but we finally did it.    Today was our last day in Orlando so we got tattoos of each other’s names in Chinese script.     

For me, this has 3 purposes :

– it tells Mrs B that I’m committed to her.    I love her and want to spend the rest of my life with her – so a permanent sign seems like a way to show that.    

– it tells me I can be a rebel – ie this is something my mum wouldn’t approve of !

– when my mum sees It, it’ll tell her that she no longer rules my life

Sorry – I don’t know how to use my kindle camera very well.  The top of the pic is on the left !

image

Ps – Mrs B has posted on her tattoo also and is FAR FAR more eloquent than me – so read her post 🙂

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Forgiveness

My wife blogged on Forgiveness a few days ago – but I have a different angle.     My question is simply “is forgiveness essential, eventually”     But before I get to that, some background might help.

We’ve had a rollercoaster holiday – and I don’t mean the ones in the theme parks.    We’ve had some better days and some really bad days.    6 months after D-day, I guess that’s to be expected.      

2 nights ago, I told Mrs B how bad I was feeling about stuff – and she tried to reassure me saying “I don’t think things will end in divorce”       But then last night, after an argument, she basically said we were over.    

Tonight we talked for some time – the upshot being that Mrs B doesn’t feel she’ll ever be able to forgive me.

I’d love to think that this is just about the rawness of everything – and that, in time, she’ll be able to.     But I don’t feel that.  What I’ve done to her is so huge that I don’t see how she can ever forgive me.     I can’t imagine being in her position, but if I was, I know I would find it very hard, perhaps impossible, to forgive.

To make things,worse, Mrs B was very upset in bed a couple of nights ago and I gave her a cuddle and then fell asleep.     I really do care about her and I hate seeing the pain she is suffering (caused by my actions), but then I fall asleep which sends a message to her that I don’t give a crap.   That’s not the case but I know I am not giving her the support she needs sometimes.

The old arguments came out again tonight – how can I say I love her given what I did / why should she shed an ounce of effort given how selfish I’ve been, etc – and I have no answer for any of them as they are all valid questions,with no good answers.     Mostly I sat in silence – apart from when Mrs B said “how come my pain isn’t enough to keep you awake” and stupidly I said that she knew I’d always been a good sleeper so it didn’t imply I didn’t care.      I never know when to keep my mouth shut, I say the most insensitive things and Mrs B is rightly very angry with me.

Anyway, I was trying to get to a question.      If the shorter term (I hope it’s shorter term anyway as she doesn’t deserve to suffer like this) pain can be got over, can a relationship have a future is the BS won’t ever forgive the WS ?   Fyi, I am NOT discussing when forgiveness should come or indeed if it ever should, and I respect the replies that people sent Mrs,B a few days ago, I am simply asking what happens if it can never come.

I hope we can get back on track.    Mrs B is rightly very upset with me tonight – things have been “almost over” before and,we have worked through them.   But I have a very bad feeling about how things are going to turn out.  

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