Misplaced guilt, or honest self-examination?

Photo via Flickr.com; some rights reserved.
Photo via Flickr.com; some rights reserved.

I wonder if other people go through this: When I feel triggered or just angry or sad about my marriage, or when I think of something related to his affair, an odd exchange of energy occurs if I talk about it with my husband. I feel relief — like I’ve cleaned a wound and applied fresh new medicine and a bandage. But he gets silent, withdrawn and very sad. I’ve told him before, “Thank you for listening. Wow, I feel better already.” And he has accepted doing this for me, but he says, “I sure don’t!”

It’s like I transfer it to him.

Photo via Flickr.com; some rights reserved.
Photo via Flickr.com; some rights reserved.

I don’t mean that I sit and harangue the man. I try to talk calmly and with minimal blame, just to let him know I feel bad and either need a little space or a little comfort. He still looks sick to his stomach when we have such conversations, even in the most neutral of tones. (In the old days, that wounded look would have spurred me to avoid whatever put the look on his face. When I’m in the moment and aware that I’m breaking old habits, I don’t let myself avoid the awkward and painful conversations anymore. I’m learning.)

To all appearances, he feels deep shame and has strong resolve to never betray our marriage vows again. If I didn’t know that he carried on an intimate relationship with another woman for years of our marriage, I would say he’s totally sincere.

He may be. I think he is. But I hate that I have that doubt. And I also doubt because he has not made some of the critical changes I’ve asked for (better communication, etc.).

But I’m digressing from the phenomenon that I intended to talk about — how I feel lightened by putting my bare feelings on the table, and how — when I do so — he feels tied up with chains, cement and cinder blocks and rolled off the boat into the ocean.

Here’s a minor example: I hear a song that mentions infidelity and I switch the channel and say something like, “I didn’t want to think about that again today. I hate that it’s so common, too.” Just saying it lets me release it. It seems to be a brick that lands in his lap, though.

I guess I must be truly, deeply codependent if I feel GUILTY about the pain and guilt my unfaithful husband feels when I let him see how he emotionally wounded and scarred me with his actions.

I don’t want to hurt him. But it’s kind of reassuring that it does hurt him, if that makes any sense. This doesn’t happen often anymore. He may not understand why I mention it when we both know how the affair and its discovery affected us. Am I mean to think, “No, I’m not going to suffer in silence. I’m going to share it and try to let go.”

Am I just punishing him, though, and justifying it to myself?

Am I crazy? Mean? Co-dependent? Confused? I’m trying not to be. I’m trying to be honest, in the moment, and authentic. It’s hard not to overanalyze myself sometimes.

Photo via Flickr.com; some rights reserved.
Photo via Flickr.com; some rights reserved.

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