Questions.

Curiosity is something I often simultaneously value and disdain at once. When each of my children began to talk, I embraced their newfound voices and was excited by their questions. And then they hit the “why” stage…I found myself gritting my teeth as I searched for a response to satisfy their curiosity and then they would ask that profound question that I was elated to be able to address.

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It’s like that in much of my life. I am thrilled when we bring a new strategy to my company, and excited to train staff…embracing their questions through training and even early stage implementation. But it becomes tedious after a time, and the questions become a source of low-level irritation as I find myself hoping employees will stop asking and start doing and if they need support then? Welcomed.

So when sexual betrayal was revealed in my marriage, I was surprised to find myself overwhelmed with the need to ask questions. Questions. Questions. And even more questions. For the first two months of initial denial, leading to one small revelation and the next small revelation and eventually some enormous revelations that dramatically altered everything I understood about the whole of my married life, HUSBAND was avoidant – answering questions with minimal responses – at best and lying – at worst. But once he broke and quit hiding bits and pieces, he became transparent as my myriad questions continued. Questions as I tried to make sense out of all that was senseless and the revelations that had created a new was that didn’t look like what was before.

I asked questions that made sense: when, where, who, how? I asked questions that were important: protection, pregnancy? I asked questions that were driven by my pain: how could you? Do you know you have destroyed me/us/your children? I asked questions that revealed my confusion: why didn’t I know? How did you hide it? I asked questions that showed my anger: you spent our money on her? You talked to her for 2 hours and me for 2 minutes? I threw out questions that were traps:  who did you love more at that time? Did you ever really love me? I craved answers for questions with no answers: what caused you to fuck other women? How did you come home and look me in the eye?

And HUSBAND answered them. And answered them and again, he answered them. Once he moved into remorse, and the progressive realization of the depth of devastation he had wrought, he never faltered in his resolve to answer any question at any moment at any time. No defensiveness, no frustration. Nothing out of bounds, and no resistance even if I’d asked the same question many times before. At some desperate moments, I asked outrageous questions – and he answered them. Sometimes, the answers felt hurtful, but the beauty was that this willingness, this transparency resulted in a couple of huge strides: I began to believe his answers. Since he was no longer lying, his answers didn’t change. Over and over I could ask the same question and get the same answer. So before we both knew it, I began to realize I had a baby-amount of trust beginning to form for him – something I never thought would EVER be restored. Another result was that the more open he was and the more willing to bare all – even if the answer did hurt me – the more I felt like we were on the same team, and his past affair partners were off the team. As I learned of the secrets they’d shared with him, words they’d spoken, places they’d gone…I now was on the inside and they weren’t.

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I know questions are hard from the betrayed to the cheater. Especially a cheater who has turned from his behavior, and is really committed to moving forward in honesty and newness…but if there is one thing that seems to really be beneficial for helping a spouse heal it is the willingness to be transparent. To meet her where she is, with whatever level of needing to know that she has (and we are all different – no “normal” or “regular” here….) If HUSBAND had been unwilling to take my drilling, or acted exasperated or looked at me and said STOP! Enough!…I’m not sure I would have been willing to move forward with him at all, and it definitely would have been a more rocky path.

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19 thoughts on “Questions.

  1. Sigh. Those questions. The ones asked and the ones never asked. The ones answered and the ones that have no answers. The time when the questions hurt and the time when you feel asking is in vain because all you’ll get is lies. The time when you don’t even want to ask questions because you find yourself not caring anymore.

    Your husband is so so so very lucky to have you, to have you asked your questions and to have a small amount of decency to answer your questions honestly, to realize that the truth always hurts much less (even when that much less is actually so much that it rips your heart and soul into shreds) than lying. I hope that he knows this and is grateful for this every single moment of every day. You are not to be taken for granted, lovely SS.

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  2. Again I am impressed by the therapeutic value of this blog. Obviously for you but also for others trying to either put together the pieces or resolving to heal without reconciliation. Your words and insights are a true gift. Let’s get together in real life. 😉

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  3. If there are any cheaters reading this, and want to save their marriage, giving the truth when asked is the only way. Anything else is agonising death for the betrayed. I would find things out and ask my husband about it and he would lie. Over and over again. But I already knew the truth. And every time he lied I could feel my heart closing bit by bit to him. And I knew the day would come when my heart would be shut completely to him.

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  4. I think the biggest question for cheaters is why they would chance unprotected sex. They are lying cheating men having sex with lying cheating women….HELLO….Do they really think they can believe each other when it comes to disease or pregnancy? I have a hell of a lot more respect for a cheater who practices safe sex than one who is happy to share his/her nastiness with an innocent wife. A man makes a choice when he has unprotected sex with a whore…..the wife has sex with the same whore without benefit of choice……Your H won the lottery when he got you SS.

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    1. Oh Anna…not so much – me/lottery. You really make me feel good, but I’m full of warts and crap too. In terms of the unprotected sex…I completely agree. That was one of the most shocking things to find out. Now I think it just shows how deep they are in the fantasy of the whole thing – like an affair won’t impact their marriages. Like what wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her. Like unprotected sex with this slut has no risk…

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      1. Like teenagers (only worse due to their advanced age), they think they are invincible.
        Teenagers have an excuse; underdeveloped frontal lobes. The prefrontal cortex matures at around age 20.
        But it is the same behaviour…risk taking behaviour…not wanting to think about consequences.
        Impulsive behaviours and avoiding boring adult life.
        It is good to hear that a number of them grow up, take responsibility and are making changes. S, you have one of those :)!
        Just one comment…most infidelity happens between ages 40 and 60…it would have stopped one time anyway….

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  5. “Another result was that the more open he was and the more willing to bare all – even if the answer did hurt me – the more I felt like we were on the same team, and his past affair partners were off the team. As I learned of the secrets they’d shared with him, words they’d spoken, places they’d gone…I now was on the inside and they weren’t.”

    This is the part that I’m still having trouble with. H has been so honest over the past 3 months and it has hurt so much to hear the truth. But I’m still not feeling like I’m on the inside. I’m feeling jealous, competitive, and anxious.

    Last week H told me that one of the OW “was always thrilled” with whatever he came up with for their dates. H then said “but then, she was just happy to have someone around”. Now I’m thinking – do I act “thrilled”, like, ever? Is that what I have to do to make him think I’m enjoying the time we’re spending together? What does “thrilled” look like? And on and on… I can’t just be happy that he shared something personal with me, and that he feels comfortable enough to have these conversations with me. I guess this takes time, like everything else.

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    1. I just read your comment here. Jealous, competitive and anxious? Check. Check. Check. Why her and not me? Why do I feel like she is laughing at me and I am the butt of a joke that I don’t know yet?

      I was thinking something so similar yesterday about my reactions in our marriage now. Do you ever feel like you have to “act” thrilled? I find myself putting on a front and smiling for the sake of maintaining peace when in reality I want to scream something like “You brought home Chinese food for dinner tonight as a surprise? WTF! I know you used to bring her dinner at her house when you left me home alone unaware that you were fucking your coworker!!” But I don’t. I choke back the food and think about how tired I am. Maybe it is a lot easier to act thrilled all the time when you have a fantasy relationship not a real marriage. Maybe being thrilled and really feeling it will come in time.It’s so difficult trying to reconnect and at the same time be suffering from all of the truths that are now being told in place of the lies. I understand what you are saying and I am sorry that you are feeling this way. Maybe we shouldn’t be thrilled just be present ? Although that is difficult in itself.

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      1. I try to be painfully honest with my feelings too-just like I am asking H to be. So if the food triggered me, I would let him know. Allow myself to feel and grieve. We don’t have to act. We don’t have to prove. That’s their job.

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    2. Ahhhh….time….it isn’t the be-all, but it does help. Did you ask him what thrilled looks like? And you absolutely should not act anyway but the way you are. It is so hard but for me I just kept drilling into the questions and sometimes-often-it resulted in HUSBAND realizing his own idiocy…

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  6. I just had a discussion with our therapist expressing clearly that if I have a question, any question, I expect an answer from my husband. I HATE when you hear that some questions should not be answered (in fear of more hurt). I call bullshit on this. I say if I want to know then you damn better well tell me because not knowing is worse. Oh what I can imagine in my mind… images of romantic nights, lively conversation, great sex, etc… I can make myself sick thinking about it. But what I have found is that when my husband answers my questions some of this gets put to rest. Is he still lying? Who the hell knows. I think I catch him off guard sometimes. But usually my questions lead to a discussion that ends well even if the answers are devastating. In the end I am so sick of it all.
    Trying to work on rebuilding a relationship while trying to rebuild myself, not so easy as you all know. I don’t seem to have room for all of the anger, hurt, loss, humiliation, mistrust, disappointment, and just all of it in general. I fell like I am juggling too many balls in the air. I want life to return to some normalcy but when it does it puts the fear of God in me. Normal? We had that and looked what happened. So I go on dancing on the head of a pin and juggling too many balls!
    Thank you for another insightful post. I hope one day to be as level headed as you 🙂

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