Compartmentalizing question????

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-22-2004
Compartmentalizing question????
Sat, 01-21-2006 - 10:37pm

Hello friends, I have another question that I am hoping you can help me with. When I went to see my counselor she had suggested that I read the surviving an affair book. Me and my husband have been feeling so good that I dreaded going to counseling because I didn't want to be reminded of the pain. I find as I read the book that I also don't want to (but I do) because again remembering those feelings are just to painful. What I want to know is my compartmentalizing a good or bad thing?

We still have triggers and I still will have an angry day and my husband is wonderful when dealing with these. But of course I thought I got to a point where I have to put this behind us for the sake of our marriage. The trigger days don't really bother me that much it was more so the day of counseling and now that I "have" to read ANOTHER affair book. I want to put this behind me (the affair)already but NOT at the cost of doing it "un" healthy. We continue to communicate healthly but again this compartmentalizing keeps me concerned because I don't know if it is a bad or good thing. Thanks for your advice, Tea


Avatar for firstglimpse
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2003
Sun, 01-22-2006 - 2:32am

Everyone mourns & heals in their own way. If you are not comfortable reading the book and you do not like what it's doing to you or your marriage then it's probably a good idea not to read it.

I started reading 'Not Just Friends' and I probably got 1/3rd into it and realized it was not helping me heal at all so I returned it to the library so I wouldn't attempt to pick it up again. I think I also had the Surviving an Affair and read the first page or two and couldn't get further into it.

The bigger question is, are you comfortable with just putting it behind you? Is that what you're really doing? Have you felt you've received the info you need from your H regarding the A? Are there any lingering questions? If questions come up, what do you do with them, push them away or ask your H? If you ask your H does he disclose? Do you feel you & H are faking your marriage or do you feel you've genuinely rekindled?

I personally believe if you feel you & your H are healing well then why go backwards? Is it because society tells you to? Well, society probably told you to leave him too and you didn't.

Do what you're comfortable with. If you feel like you're moving forward, not hiding, then I believe you're doing well.


"Only when we are sick of our sickness shall we cease to be sick."

~ Lao-Tzu, from The Tao Te Cheng
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-17-2003
Sun, 01-22-2006 - 8:51am

You're probably farther along in the rebuilding
process than I am (my d-day 9/20/05), but I think I
understand what you're saying. There seems to be this fine line
to walk between addressing issues and not stirring
up resentment. I think I've read of a poster
a lot further along say that he had to step
away even from the support board for awhile sometimes
to prevent stirring up waters for nothing. If you've
already read affair books and gotten the necessary
insight and do talk about things as they come up,
I can see not reading another book about affairs and
not think you're sticking your head in the sand.
The site mentions about sometimes
constantly digging up the past and looking back prevents
couples from moving forward. I know our therapist doesn't
try to bury the subject and helps us figure out reasons and
preventions, but definitely he keeps us looking forward
and moving forward. This isn't a knock at all on your
MC; it's a good book to have couples read. But I can
see where you're coming from and not see it as compartmentalizing.
I try to not to avoid the subject as feelings come up but
try not to look for "insight" into the subject anymore either.


Edited 1/22/2006 8:54 am ET by storygrl
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-19-2005
Mon, 01-23-2006 - 4:04pm

I've experienced this as well. You've hit a new stage in your healing. I think its a sign that you're ready to move on and the reading is dragging you back. It doesn't mean you're completely over it, or that you are shutting it out on purpose. I think you hit another stage and it doesn't require that you rehash your feelings like you did SO MUCH in the past. You might feel differently later on and want to read the book. It doesn't mean you'e stuffing your feelings aside only later to be brought up.


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-09-2000
Mon, 01-23-2006 - 5:40pm

Tea...why did she suggest the book? You have already read books, and of course being a member of this board has given you lots of insight into what it takes to get past that betrayal. Your counselor must know this. Was there something else she was hoping you would gain from the book?

I'm not sure that you are compartmentalizing as much as moving on. At this point you don't need the books and reading them is painful. That's understandable, so why read them? You already have the information. Soon enough, you will open the books again without the pain associated with them. You'll be able to read them all day fact you probably will be able to write one. I think this is all part of the process.


iVillage Member
Registered: 11-22-2004
Tue, 01-24-2006 - 10:22am

Thank you ladies (Bonnie, Mary, Julie and Hannah) you have given me some great insight.

Julie the counselor is a new counselor and it was our first meeting so I am sure she thought it would be insightful but also I remember her mentioning about a questionaire in the book regarding our emotional needs. SO maybe that was her focus?.

She canceled our scheduled appt so I have to reschedule when I get around to it. But I really feel you ladies have made me comfortable in the choice that I am making to move forward. I do feel VERY comfortable discussing the affair with my husband. He doesn't shut me out. In fact yesterday he completely floored me by letting me in "out of the blue" about how he was hurting as we were discussing our future move and how he hates that he screwed up. It was really weird because we were having a very happy moment discussing our future plans and how happy we are and then "bam" he really told me what was on his mind.

Lately I am so worried because things have been great and although I felt and KNEW we were in a honeymoon period after our retrouvaille weekend (lasted for about 2mths). Are we in a honeymoon period AGAIN? Things just seem to good to be true.

Hannah I would really love an emotional update I can't remember exactly how long you have been rebuilding I know it's either same or more than me. I am not comparing but sometimes I am wondering if I am crazy for feeling so good. Thank you everyone, Tea (rebuilding for 7 1/2mths)

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-15-2005
Tue, 01-24-2006 - 11:43am

Hey Tea,

Meant to respond to this post the other day but got sidetracked!

Anyway, if reading that book is not feeling right...don't. I think it's a real testament as to how far past it you've become to not feel the need to read the book.

I think in the early days we devour those books like a starving dog goes after trash on a curbside. We're frightened, hurt, dazed and confused so we're frantically trying to find comfort, answers and hope. As we begin to get our bearings we need those books less. Once we have truly hit our rebuilding stride we don't need them at all and they actually cause us to slide back into those feelings of despair that we felt in the beginning. I don't know any of us who would voluntarily go back "there". A few months ago I tried to finish that same book. I had started it in the very early days but got sidetracked from it as we began our counseling and then working through the Dr. Phil book. I couldn't get into it at all. The book actually made me feel very uncomfortable and even a bit queasy...I think it was just dredging up those old I stuffed it back in my nightstand drawer with the other books of its ilk and someday I'll donate them to the library, maybe even start a bonfire with them *shrug* I just know I'll never read them again. Ever. I've come too far, we've come too far to let anything throw a damper on it. (As an aside if anything like an EA or PA would occur in my marriage again, those books won't be necessary. To me rebuilding is a one shot only deal. If my H were repeat that mistake...there'd be a divorce. Hands down)

Tea, it sounds to me in many ways like you've turned a huge corner. Your mention of needing to reschedule the cancelled appt. "when you get around to it" reminds me of how I finally came to the conclusion that we didn't need our MC sessions anymore. Our MC had to cancel an appt too in December...I never did get around to rescheduling because I honestly couldn't think of a reason to go anymore. I was feeling great, my H was feeling great, our communication was A+, life was good. So we've never gone back. Trust me though, if things were to hit a snag, I'll pick up the phone. I plan to be proactive from here on out when it comes to my marriage.

The place you were a few months ago when you were anxiously awaiting your ins. coverage so you could get back to counseling, doesn't appear to be the place you are in now. I'm not saying you don't need the counseling. Only you can make that decision. But if you do go maybe the sessions don't need to be so affair centric...maybe they need to focus on other issues that are of concern to you? Just a thought.

I noticed your other post about the possible move to WI. I think that's fantastic. Might be a wonderful fresh new beginning for you, your H and your boys. Sounds exciting!

Whatever of luck.

Big hugs,

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-24-2004
Tue, 01-24-2006 - 12:24pm

Tea...I know for myself I was bent on not stuffing anything away or down and was hyper-vigilant about keeping it real with MYSELF. The thing was that keeping it real was sometimes confusing as I tried to establish what I was really feeling and where that was coming from. That emotional roller coaster had an impact on how I perceived things from one day to the next and other stresses certainly didn't help with my own confidence about my perceptions. I basically had difficulty in not revisiting and re-evaluating my previous convictions and decisions.

I think of the recovery in terms of dealing with the huge issues and making decisions about them and then fine tuning the smaller stuff that is impacting on it. Coming to grips with something and then releasing it is not the same as avoiding it at all. I noticed that I would deal with the things I had to deal with, and then return to them and poke at the details of it as I gained new insights. It was a form of compartmentalization I suppose, from the stand point of doing the best I could do in one moment, and then returning to it and making sure I had done what I needed to do with it and then shelving it as done. I don't want to re-open or revisit what I've dealt with now because I'm satisfied that I've answered my own questions and examined it.

You and your H are making steady progress together and individually. There is no hard and fast rule about how that occurs as each marriage is unique as are the people in it. Trust yourself to know what makes you uncomfortable and what doesn't, and question your therapist about her goals as to what she's trying to make you aware of. Be open to her suggestions, and confident about asserting your misgivings in her planned therapy. Her guidance and direction can be adapted to suit your style and comfort levels while achieving the same goals...



iVillage Member
Registered: 09-19-2005
Tue, 01-24-2006 - 1:47pm

Tea, I'm not much further out from you - 8 1/2 months. Dday #1 was Feb 14th, Dday #2 Feb 26th and about 2 more months of fencesitting.

I wonder if we're still in the honeymoon phase too. There's a lot of great things in our M right now. We're close again physically and emotionally, we've communicated on levels that we never were able to before (mostly him - he's opened up to me more than ever before), we spend a lot more time together and make it a point to call eachother during the day. He's been extremely patient about my feelings and gives me the support I need to get through the lows.

But I still hold a lot of hurt. There's not much more I can ask of my H that he isn't already doing so I know the problem lies within me. I still think about his A daily. I have more stuff to work through. I lost a lot faith in M in general and don't feel like ours is special anymore. I have hope that someday I'll get through this. The posts from those much further out give me that hope. It feels good to know others have done it and can testify that it does get better!

The "out of the blue" emotions have happened a few times. I feel elated when he realizes how close he was to lose me, how ashamed he is, but then I feel guilty about feeling so good since he feels so bad! I believe those are his true feelings and he's not saying them bc I need to hear them. In fact, I like those discussions better than the ones I initiate bc he opens up more.


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-13-2005
Tue, 01-24-2006 - 2:49pm

I'm just 4 months from D-day, but I believe my H & I are headed in the right direction as far as rebuilding goes. His attitude has changed for the better and our M seems to be stronger. I love the days that I feel so good, but there's usually a day or two in between that I give into my feelings of hurt & anger. Those days seem to be getting fewer and farther between. I often wonder how I'll live with that hurt feeling, and I'm hoping that will keep diminishing over time. Here's some pearls of wisdom from the book I'm reading by Dr. Gary Chapman (The Five Languages of Love.) This is going to be a little long, but I plan to keep re-reading this passage to help me through the forgiveness and letting go of the anger stage:

"In M we do not always do the best or right thing. We have sometimes done & said hurtful things to our spouses. We cannot erase the past. We can only confess it & agree that it was wrong. We can ask for forgiveness & try to act differently in the future. Having confessed my failure & asked forgiveness, I can do nothing more to mitigate the hurt it may have caused my spouse." He goes on to say that intimacy becomes impossible when we choose not to forgive. "Forgiveness is the way of love."

He also says "The best thing we can do with the failures of the past is to let them be history. Yes, it happened. Certainly it hurt. And it may still hurt, but he has acknowledged his failure and asked your forgiveness. We cannot erase the past, but we can accept it as history. We can choose to live today free from the failures of yesterday. Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a commitment."

The anger part is something I'm trying to learn to deal with. I keep it in most of the time, but sometimes it seems to rear its ugly head. Dr. Chapman's words give me inspiration to try to make this whole ordeal history and to learn from it but not to let the bad feelings consume me. My H is doing all the right things in his efforts to rebuild, so I know I must try to let the anger go and focus on the M. Thank you all for your words of wisdom. I wish everybody only the best in dealing with all these crazy emotions!

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-22-2005
Wed, 01-25-2006 - 9:31am

Tea, I am so happy for you! I feel based on things you have said in this post you have turned a major corner. You have really started to allow yourself to heal! You just like the rest of us have survived all the things that have happened by being able to rely on our own gut feelings. We have learned to listen to this little signs and signals. Your gut is tell you it is finally time to move forward. That you feel ready to feel "normal" again.

By reading these types of books and sometimes by reading a post here or there. All the raw feelings come flooding back in. You go back in time to those horrible days and the pain over powers you. In away I feel unable to read these types of things with out causing resentment to build toward my h. So I now select the posts I read and only read them when I am feeling strong and stable in my M. If you know what I mean???

My h and I decide the other day that we would not be going back to our mc. We felt we gained the tools we need to talk and feel that it is time that we start dealing with our most intimate details together. Now I am not saying that if we hit a hard time again that I would not go back I am just saying the for us we need to step away for her to fully reconnect on a more personal intimate level if that makes sense??

So Tea, I guess what I am saying is follow your gut! If it is tell you that you need to focus more on the positive parts of life with your h. If it is telling it is OK to back down form mc/ic. Listen to yor inner voice it has guided you this far! I honestly believe that none of us here will ever be where we were on d-day again. We have learned so much. We will never stick our heads in the sand and hope it all just goes away. We know better now! So when the time comes if it comes and you feel that book or any other would lend you a little in sight you will pick it up again. If you feel you need someone to talk with you will pick up the phone and call. Trust in yourself! Remember you have survived this! You have become stronger and wiser! You have become your own best friend! Never forget that!

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