A bit of relevant background/context: 27 years old, married for 3, two kids under 3, had an affair 1 1/2 ago.
A friend of mine bar tends every Friday night, and I finally got around to making plans to visit the place last Friday. Thursday evening I'm texting the bros to make the plans, and my wife starts freaking out that I'm going to a bar where there's going to be GIRLS. It went from shouting anger to "uh uh, no you di'in't", to begging me not to go. The more she fought, the colder I became. She kept stating that she just wanted her fears to be acknowledged and heard (fears about me cheating again), but I quickly saw that the only way to "hear her feelings" were to not go to the bar. I remained stoic, very calm, and quite unaffected by her rollercoaster. I didn't leave as soon as I should have though.
Quick disclaimer about the bar: this is a country bar where there's line dancing, so no grinding or couples dances; I would be around my friends the entire time; my friends are very supportive of my marriage and wouldn't turn a blind eye to any shenanigans, much less encourage me to flirt. So really NO reason for her to be afraid.
Friday at work she BLEW UP MY PHONE. Texts, calls, calls to my office phone, you name it. And it was mostly begging me to reply and listen to her feeeeellllinnnnngggzzzzz (which, again, wasn't what she really wanted).
I'm ashamed to say, I caved:
Me, text to her: "FUCK IT! I WON'T GO! WHAT THE FUCK EVER! It's not worth this misery you're putting us through! You have allowed your fear to rule you and convince you that I am still cheating on you. You believe that if only I don't go the bar, I won't cheat on you. Fact is, babe, I could cheat whenever I the hell I feel like it because I have that choice to make. I choose not to because I value our marriage and I still think you're worthy of my fidelity. Plain and simple. But you getting your way in this situation does not lead to a happier marriage. Happier YOU, maybe, but not happier marriage. Actions always, ALWAYS, have consequences. This is not going to resolve peacefully. This is the beginning of a division that will truly be painful. Your fear has caused you to disrespect me, made an issue out of nothing, and created resentment. This is not building trust, but destroying it on both sides."
I added later that I was staying because she was neglecting the kids in her distress.
I know, it was big time fail. Please rip this apart, because I know it deserves it.
I talked to the bar tending friend who is pretty RP already, and he agreed that she lost control and I shouldn't shoulder the entire blame. Great guy, really value his support. However, last minute I changed my mind and went anyway (her parents showed up unexpectedly, so we had childcare in case she needed a moment). I know this wasn't anywhere close to a "save". I botched it. But I went to the bar and had a great time.
Over the weekend I added back in some light flirting, which she ignored and instead spewed more feelings a few times, mostly late at night as I'm struggling to stay awake. She knows not to try to talk to me about serious stuff past 11pm, yet she does it anyway and gets angry at me when I don't fully engage. That's an area I need to work on drawing a firmer boundary.
However, I connected some important dots through these conversations. She is not your typical Western woman, i.e., she wasn't raised believing the world revolved around her. Her father was verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive, and she resented him for it. He was too much asshole alpha. So when I draw a boundary, the feminist in her fights to the death, and when the feminist dies, the scared little girl comes out, takes responsibility for the entire thing to earn appeasement, and retreats into broken submission. I don't know how to handle that. Is it good that she submits like that? I'm disinclined to think so...
We had a decent phone conversation right now, where she spewed more feelz. Said she had an epiphany, where she wasn't actually afraid I was going to cheat again, but she just wanted her feelings that I was to be heard. WTF. Listen to her actions, not her words, gentlemen.
In an effort to bring her up to speed, I recommended that she read NMMNG. Its clinical and therapeutic enough that she won't be alerted to any hardcore RP tenants, and she'll get a better idea of where my newfound boundaries are coming from.
I call this our Main Event because along the way she threatened that our marriage wasn't going to work (to which I responded, "you know where the door is"), she stated that she sees me differently now, and it's by far the biggest throw-down since I've swallowed the pill.
TL;DR: Wife fights me to the death in my decision to go to a bar with friends, a year and a half after an affair, citing her fear that I will cheat again. Later she admits she wasn't really afraid, but wanted me to acknowledge her feelz anyway.
TL;DR2: In reflection, I'm aware that I need to focus more on my own self-improvement than on her shit tests. I'm out of balance. Handling her shit tests will likely become easier once I am a more respectable man, rather than demanding respect after years of BP behavior.
Help me process.