Feelings stuffing…

The last couple of weeks of have been weeks of THOSE days.  You know the days I am talking about.  The days where you just go through the motions trying to minimize the hurt feelings and keep your smile.  I realized I have been stuffing my feelings down to the point I have no where left to stuff them.  I feel like a ticking bomb waiting to go off.

I have so much going on, the biggest of which is a custody battle over my children.

I have had my children on my own for over six years.  My ex saw them infrequently as he moved over 400 miles away from us. This last year my ex and I have lived in the same town and he has taken more of an interest in them. Back in the spring he filed for sole custody and requested child support from me.  He had been in my home the night before as I had just gotten back from chaperoning a weekend school trip with my oldest daughter.  He brought the younger one home and came in while I was telling him about things that happened during the school trip.  The next day a court officer delivered the papers.  It was like a kick in the teeth. For those of you following my story, the day I was served papers was the same day I ended the no contact with W.  It was just too much at one time.

Now, my ex is a man who has never paid child support to me, I never asked for it.  This isn’t about whether he thinks I am a good mother, in fact he has told me that he believes I am an excellent mother, a little over protective, but an excellent mother nonetheless.  I have two beautiful, well adjusted daughters who are doing well in school.  I am at every school function, know their teachers well, volunteer at their schools to the point that everyone knows me.  For the last ten years I have gotten them to and from school, packed lunches, did homework, chaperoned trips, worked school parties, did fundraisers…I am an active mother.  A month before the papers were filed I moved into a new place and he got scared I would come after him for child support.  So he decided to he didn’t want to pay (not that I had filed or even mentioned child support to him) so he filed for custody and child support.  Needless to say, things between he and I have been tense at best since that.  Before that we were amicable.  Very amicable.

Things with W are at a stalemate.  Nothing has changed there.  I am miserable with how the relationship is, and he isn’t.  So nothing changes.  He likes it this way.  He wants it this way.  So…no motivation=no change. I am so frustrated. Between feeling powerless with the custody case (unless you agree to hand over your kids and pay child support to an absent father I am forced to pay thousands of dollars to the legal system to keep my childre…no power in that) and feeling powerless to make changes in my relationship with W…I feel powerless.  I realize that I have two choices with W…either continue you on playing by his rules or end it.  The ending it scares me.  The what if questions…

Will I be strong enough to get through it?

What if I hold out just a bit longer?

What if I never feel the way I do in W’s arms in another man’s arms?

However, my self esteem, confidence, feelings or worthiness have all taken such a hit.  I almost don’t care anymore.  I just want the hurt to end.  I wonder if the hurt will be worse after than it is now.  There is no joy in being the OW for me.  The little bits of time I get with him are huge price to pay for the damage it does to my wellbeing.  I don’t know what I am going to do, but I know something has to change.  Somehow, some way I have to find a way to take control over my life again.  I know what I want…for myself, my children, my love life…this is not it.

 

Change only happens when a person is highly motivated…

Change only happens when a person is highly motived to change, not when you want them to change ~ Dr. Wexler on TrueTori

Truer words have never been spoken.

Think about for just a moment….

 

OK, have you ever forced somebody to change by simply asking them without giving them some sort of motivation? Take children for example…motivation can come in the form of a reward. Money for good grades.  Or they get to do something special if they complete these chores.  Motivation can also come in the form of punishment.  If you get bad grades you will lose your phone for two weeks. Or, if you hit your sister again you will sit in time out.  Change does not happen without motivation.

This is basic B.F Skinner, Operant Conditioning.  However, it took me watching a silly reality show…

Well, it isn’t silly.  I do believe that Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott are dealing with the aftermath of his affair.  I have been cheated on and she is not that good of an actress to pull off those very real, raw emotions.  I can’t stop watching this stupid show.  I relate and I’m hooked. i digress…

Motivation=change

motivation-weight loss

motivation=good grades

motivation=quit smoking

motivation=college degree

motivation=clean house

motivation=a new job.

Many things motivate, but what is the biggest motivator of all time?  Fear.  Fear of not having enough money.  Fear of being alone.  Fear of going without food, water or shelter.  Fear of being a failure.  Fear of losing your loved ones.  Fear of dying early.  Fear of commitment.  Fear of divorce.  Fear…is the single most movitator for human behavior.  The flip side of the desire to have something is the fear of not having it.  For example.  I desire to live a long life = fear of dying early.  I desire to make my parents proud = fear of disppointing parents.

What reinforces human behavior…primary needs like…food, water, sex, affection, human acceptance, etc…what is on the flip side of  that??? That’s right folks…fear.

So, if you are struggling to figure out why someone has done or is doing a behavior that is destructive, you can find the motivating cause most likely in reinforced behaviors or fear and desire.  What will make them change their behavior?  Their desire to, which is driven by what? Fear or Desire! That’s right.  And what is the best way to change someone else’s behavior?  That’s right… change your own behavior! After all insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

Just a little food for thought!

 

Lady in waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting…

I read an article today in Psychology Today titled “7  Reasons Most People are Afraid of Love.” I found the beginning of the article interesting.  They said the time between Jan 1st and Feb 13th is the highest break-up time and also the highest for divorce filings.  I suppose that seems right.  People get through the holidays and thus into a guilt-free time to break up before Valentine’s Day.

As I sit and play the waiting game like so many OW I am trying to keep myself occupied in other areas, but I can’t help but to wonder what are the catalysts that finally push people to leave unhappy relationships?  In every divorce I have ever known there seems to be a third person involved.  This is almost always true for couples who are serious, but haven’t taken marriage vows yet as well.

W seems so content to keep doing what we have been doing.  He doesn’t seem to me that he feels any urgency or pressure at all to end his marriage, or to commit to his marriage.  I feel the need to do something or I will be stuck in the situation indefinitely. He needs a catalyst, and even if that isn’t enough at least I will be in position to move on.  As I see it here are my options…

contact his wife – This I absolutely will not do.  I don’t think that would benefit anyone- her, him, their children, or me. Having been on the receiving end of having the OW call me, I think this is unnecessarily cruel for everybody involved. So scratch that one. I know that a lot of women in my shoes have negative feelings towards the wife or feel jealous.  I am jealous, because she has the life position with W I want, but I do respect her and care about her feelings.  This is why I want some resolution.  I think keeping her in a marriage like this is not right to her, whether she is aware or not.  I have said many times to W, if he wants to stay married to her, he needs to stop messing around on her and put the effort in and make his marriage healthy and happy.  If not, then leave so she can find a man that will give her that.  I know she is a good person, in spite of what some might think I do feel guilt and remorse for my part in any pain I am causing or could cause her, and I do wish her well.  I also don’t want to get his children involved in this, which I think would be a strong possibility if she found out.

Give him an ultimatum – Do I really want to be in a relationship where I end up with him only because he felt he didn’t have a choice?  Do ultimatums ever really work in the end? Would I be ready to deal with the rejection if he didn’t choose me?  I don’t see this option as a win for me.  So scratch this one.

Have an assertive talk – Have a conversation where I let him know my needs aren’t being met, his family’s needs aren’t being met, his wife’s needs aren’t being met.  Explain how he needs to make some tough decisions and quickly.  I have done this already.  He bought the book I recommended to help him make these decisions and he got half way through it, and then he put it down.  I think he is just content with the life he has right now.  For him, he doesn’t see a need to do anything. So, we scratch this one too.

Pick a leave date and then stick with it – Have one more conversation explaining that I just can’t continue in this relationship the way that it is now.  Then pick a date where I am out if he hasn’t done anything to move forward with me, I will assume he wants to still be in his marriage.  Right now I am tossing around the date of February 1st.  I have had that date in my head for a couple of months now.  Probably because of the reasons the article gave.  We are past the holidays and I feel like if there is going to be a time of year to do something, now is as good as any.  I don’t see any benefit in dragging this relationship out if it isn’t going anywhere, and our risk of being caught only increases.

I’m still thinking on it, but I know I need a resolution and my options are limited.  This one will pull me out of this never-ending-revolving door and allow me to move on and be with somebody who is available, if he is not willing to leave his marriage to pursue a relationship with me. But, how do I do it?  Do I just leave without saying anything?  Do I give an explanation?  Do I keep it short and simple?  Do I do it in person? No, not in person. I don’t think I would be strong enough to leave him if I did it in person.  Any advice from anyone who has done this would be greatly appreciated.

Oh, here is the link to the article I mentioned earlier in Psychology Today 7 Reasons Most People are Afraid of Love

This is not the end of our story…

I blogged recently about a certain day a month ago where my relationship with W seemed to change.

One part I left out was as he was exiting my car he said…” This is not the end of our story.  This is not the end.”

As I sat in my car trying to pull it together so I could make the long drive back to my house.  I heard those words over and over and tried to comprehend them.  Tried to understand what they meant.

How is it not the end of the story? Did he not request that we no longer see each other when I asked him to do something to change my current position in the relationship?  Wasn’t his solution for us not to see each other when I told him I couldn’t play the mistress anymore?  He had clearly said we should stop seeing each other, I barely heard it, but it was said.  He could have spent the 4 hours we spent together after his statement clarifying if he hadn’t meant it.  He could have collected his thoughts and offered an explanation for why he said we shouldn’t see each other.  But no.  He sat and held me, touched me and tried to help me come to the realization that this was our destiny.

His final words to me were…This is not the end of our story… and then he was gone.

With those words, there is that word again…Hope.

The two days after that meeting my phone was mostly silent.  The first time since we had met almost a year ago.  It was a strange feeling to see my phone so quiet.  He was always the first one I told when something funny happened, or I had a thought I wanted to share, or when an event would occur that I felt was worthy of sharing.  He used to reach out to me, telling me mundane things, funny things, anything to keep us connected. I reached for my phone several times to text him, only to put it back down.  I would check it frequently, but it was never him.  It was surreal.  Was this really happening?

I finally reached out to him on the second day.  Within minutes I had a lengthy response explaining that he thinks I misunderstood him when he said we shouldn’t see each other.  What?! How do you misunderstand that? Well, let me tell you…

According to him, he meant that we should stop physically seeing each other, but still communicate and be a part of each other’s lives.  He claimed that he needed to feel the pain of not having my touch to help him gather the courage to leave his marriage, to change his life.  He claimed the pain of not being able to see me, touch me, love on me would be enough motivation to push him into action. We exchanged many lengthy texts, because I needed explanation, because his word weren’t making sense within my head.  While his words were saying one thing, my mind was thinking…

…the holidays were coming up.  I knew that it would be even more difficult for him to get away to see me during this time (we live 3 hours apart, so meeting up requires a full day at minimum to see each other). I saw it as he wanted me, wanted me all to himself, but now he didn’t want to do what was required of him so we could see each other. He didn’t want to create waves or arise suspicions for being absent during the holiest of times for families.  I saw it like he was trying to have his cake and eat it too. I was hurt and angry. I felt small and pushed aside.

We ended up meeting half way between our homes exactly one week after the day he said he didn’t want to see each other anymore. I will never forget how good that first hug felt.  His hands were so tendered and gentle with me.  He couldn’t stop touching me.  Touching my arm. Touching my cheek. Rubbing my shoulders. We had lunch together, shopped together, caught a movie together,  ate dinner and then sat on a park bench and discussed our future. The reasons he gave for not being able to leave (you know the usual…my wife won’t be able to survive it, finances and kids), all seemed manageable to me, but to him they weren’t. Our parting was nothing spectacular, not our usual rip-my-heart-out because parting is so hard.  It was more like the parting of friends.

That was the last time I saw him.  It has been 4 weeks, and it is the longest we have ever gone without seeing each in over 8 months. There have been a handful of phone calls during that time. There have been texts everyday but some days it feels forced and I can tell his heart is in a different place.  The many, many texts that used to fly between us have become a trickle. There might be several hours between texts, and waking up to good morning texts have become a thing of the past.  Our nightly texting routine was to text up until bedtime.  Now, we say good night way earlier and some nights we don’t exchange any good nights.   Texts are short and sweet, with an occasional I love you or I miss you thrown in.  These new texts  have replaced the many before it that were filled with his love for me, desire to be with me, and talks of marriage.  Marriage to each other is something that is not discussed anymore, except with the occasional implied comment about a future together. It is like he is doing the bare minimum to hang on, because he is fearful of letting me go fully.

There was a time I felt he would have dug a canal, dammed a river or crawled over quick sand to get to me.  There was at least one occasion in the past 4 weeks he passed on an opportunity to see me.  We were supposed  get together in the near future for a few days, but it is looking more and more like that won’t happen.  He just doesn’t feel as vested in the relationship as he once did.  With each day hope for a future fades a little more.  With each day I feel him slipping away.  I dare not cling to him, because he is not mine to cling to.  He is not mine to fight for.  This is his journey.  It is his marriage that holds him back.  It is his choice to stay.  Marriage is a choice, not a prison.  He knows where my heart lies and he chooses to not fight for us.  He knows that I would support him, and he chooses to stay married.  He is not mine to fight for.  I am his to fight for.

The other woman is the one who is powerless.  She has two choices:  Stay and accept it the way it is, or leave. Those are the two choices we have.  Even sometimes those choices are taken from us.  Sometimes we are forced to say good-bye.  Sometimes we don’t even get a good-bye.  But one thing is certain, in love triangles the affair partner is the one without the power.

With each passing day hope fades a little more.

It may not be the end of our story, but it feels like the final chapter.

When Good People Have Affairs…

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Are you involved in a love triangle?  Have you been looking for someone who gets it and can offer clear advice? I have a book for you!

I have read two book recently –

When Good People Have affairs: Inside the Hearts and Minds of People in Two Relationships by Mira Kirshenbaum

Will He Really Leave Her For Me?: Understanding Your Situation and Making Decisions for Your Happiness by Rona Subotnik (I’ll review this one at a later date)

I think they are both very good and enlightening books with a lot of information.  I said I would write a blog on both books, I’m going to start with When Good People Have Affairs (WGPHA) because I think it is the book that can help the most people.

This book is written for the married person having an affair, male or female.  It is not written for the betrayed spouse, or the affair partner. While I highly, highly recommend that the married person balancing two relationships read this book, I would also recommend that the AP or BS read this book as well.  Although, I found some parts of the book difficult to read from the AP perspective, I found it insightful and it answered many questions.  I would imagine the BS would find some parts difficult too, but again will also allow them to have answers to many of the questions they might have as to why their spouse strayed, how to help fix their marriage or accept why it is over.

Mira Kirshenbaum is a licensed marriage counselor who has worked with families and married couples for over 30 years.  She says in the introduction that she believes that affairs are not a good thing and she does not condone them, but she often gets people after the affair has begun and she counsels them with where they are.  She also says she is on the side of love and happiness and her goal is to help these people to make decisions based on what will make them happiest in the long run, and then giving them the tools to help everyone navigate whatever decision they make.  She does not ever say in the book that continuing the affair is an option.  In fact, she says that they have three choices: stay in their marriage and mend it, leave their marriage to be with their AP, or leave both BS and AP and be single. Whether the affair has been discovered or not, or the affair is on going – her goal is to get the person to make a decision and begin to mend all involved.

How hungry are you? – She begins the book with saying that most people who enter into affairs are good people.  She compares them to very hungry people.  Kirshenbaum says that even in the most moral of people willpower will only hold out for so long.  She says that if a person is starving they will eat a hamburger if it is presented them or begin to look for a hamburger.  The need for human love and affection is a primal need, just like hunger. Thus, this is how many affairs begin. She acknowledges that not all are like this, but the vast majority are.

She identifies 17 types of affairs.  She tries to get the reader to break down their affair into one, or a combination of these affairs.  By doing this it will help them understand what was missing and why they entered into the affair.  After figuring out what affair(s) they are engaged in, she breaks the 17 affairs down into two categories: Stay in your marriage or Make a decision as to whether to leave or stay. Thus if the reader finds that they have identified a type, or types of affairs that are in the “Stay in your marriage” category the decision has already been made. If they find they land in the “Make a decision category” they have some more work to do to make a decision.

In the middle part of the book, she has the reader compare their spouse with their lover. If you are like me, I cringed, but she is trying to get them to be objective.  She does this through a variety of exercises and examples.  One way she does this is by having them examine 5 components of chemistry.

– Easy connections – Do you feel good with the person?  Is it easy and comfortable to be with the other person? Do you feel comfortable in your own skin and being who you are with the person? Can you talk freely?

– Fun – Can you two have fun even when there aren’t others around? If just the two of you were in room, could you have find fun together when there aren’t any distractions?

-Safety – Do you feel emotionally and physically safe with this person?  Do you trust them?

– Mutual respect – Do you respect them?  Do you value them and their judgement? Do they respect you and value you?

– physical chemistry – Do you feel good with them?  Does it feel good to kiss them?  Do you enjoy being physically close to them? Does it feel natural and not forced?

She also has them evaluate six characteristics which she says are deal breakers.  If the person doesn’t pass one they don’t pass any of them.  These characteristics are:

– not stupid – Do they make good decisions? little and small? Do they always seem to be making good decisions more often than not?

– not crazy – This goes along with not stupid.

– not creepy – Does this person feel comfortable in their own skin? Do they mix well with others? Do they make others comfortable in their presence? Are they goofy?

– not mean – Not just mean in an obvious way, but do they make cutting comments that leave you feeling beaten up? Are they generous of spirit and offer things freely?

– not ugly – She recognizes this can seem cruel, but says that when people don’t find their partners physically attractive and try to rise above it, it doesn’t last.  She says physical attraction is essential in relationships.

– not smelly – She isn’t talking about hygiene (she says that would fall under not stupid, not crazy and not creepy).  She is talking about pheromones.

She recognizes that many people having affairs may be looking at their spouses through a cloudy lens and may be looking at their AP through a rose colored lens.  So she tells them to remember the times when things were great with their spouses.  If they had all these things with them at one point they can have it again (she gives them tools in the end to get back there).  However, she says if these were issues in the beginning, it will be hard to achieve that if they weren’t there in the beginning of the relationship when everything is rose colored. In her experience in marriage counseling, she says the happiest couples have these components in their relationships and this is what sustains them when things get tough in marriage. This part of the book is much more in depth and examines more closely other factors of each relationship, this is a very, very broad overview.

She also encourages her reader to look at what is closest to their heart.  Being with someone I really love? Having a family? Being with someone who really gets me? Being with someone I can have fun with? – whatever they feel is most important to them it can be anything.

She then has them eliminate it down to one, and then has them focus on that.

There is also a section on children. Should you stay married because of the children? How to help children navigate a divorce, if they decide to divorce.   How to help children heal if they should stay in the marriage.  To tell the children of the affair or not.

Once the reader reaches a decision she gives them the tools to achieve this at the end of the book to help them achieve the decision.  She gives the reader a crash course in how to break up with someone. Remember, her goal is to get the reader to break it off with either the spouse, AP or both, so a break up is inevitable. However, she gives them the tools on how to deliver that news in the least hurtful manner and how they can help them to accept the breakup and heal.  If they have chosen to stay with their spouse she gives them advice on how to help their spouse heal and to get their marriage to a healthy place (she gives advice for both situations – if the spouse knows of the affair and if they don’t).  If they choose to be with their AP, she tells them they still have work to do there too, and gives advice on how to heal that relationship.  She talks about how to reestablish trust.

All in all I found the book enlightening and insightful.  I think this is a must read for married people who are involved in an affair.  For BSs and APs I think this book can help them to understand their role in the affair, and why it has happened. Here are some limitations I found with the book.  She doesn’t address people who have serial affairs.  These are people who have multiple affairs over the years.  Nor does she address the people who purposefully look to engage in an affair.  She does acknowledge that that happens, but she minimizes it by saying it is not the norm.  However, I believe it is a bigger issue than she acknowledges.  This book is really written for people who find themselves caught up in an affair and are very torn between what to do.  These people want to be happy and are concerned with everyone’s welfare: their spouse, children, AP, families, themselves.  This book is not for the person who is trying to stay married and have their cake too. For $7.99 for the kindle edition on Amazon, this book could be life changing.  I give it a thumb’s up!

Hope…

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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

Vince Gill and Amy Grant

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles

Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood

Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott

Johnny Cash and June Carter

My uncle and my new aunt

No one is immune to infidelity. These are examples of people who left their marriages for a person they fell in love with.  Is it any wonder we think when it happens to us there is hope for a happy ending? Hope… is probably the single most thing that keeps love triangles alive and flourishing.  Hope can be what keeps the other women attached to their married men.  Hope that one day they will leave their “unhappy” marriages, and be with us.  Or, hope that they will commit to their marriages and let us grieve them and move on.

However, statistics tell us that the reality is that it is highly unlikely that men will leave their wives for their lovers.  These people above are the exception, not the norm. Most men don’t leave, and many never plan to.  It may be a possibility that they daydream about, but the reality is few rarely use divorce as an escape clause.  Many want the security and comfort that marriage provides them, with the excitement that the affair gives them.

I have spent the last 5 days or so reading the blogs of several women in my shoes, as well as the blogs of betrayed wives.  I have yet to read one where the husband left his marriage for his other woman.  Many of these women are left feeling betrayed and with tremendous grief.  I have a read a few blogs of men who have strayed and they too are battling their own demons. What starts out as hope often ends in despair with relationships broken, but still we cling to hope.

Hope for happiness.  Hope that one day the grief will be behind us.  Hope that we will find forgiveness.  Hope that nobody else gets hurt.  Hope that tomorrow will be a better day. Hope that we will have the strength to stay no (if you are the OW) or hope that you have the strength to stay and endure (if you are the betrayed wife), or hope that you have the strength of character to do what is right (if you are the married man).

Hope is a powerful thing.  It is what drives us.  It is what pushes us.  In the end we are all still clinging to hope.

I mentioned to W that I was blogging about our experiences and what I had read in other blogs.  I mentioned that I hadn’t found a blog yet where the married man and his affair partner ended up together in the end.  He said my blog would be the first. And there you have it….Hope.