Newest Member: Daughterofthemosthigh


It is done.

As of June 5, I am no longer married. The last weekend in June, I helped my XWW move out and into her new home. I then spent 6 days doing absolutely nothing, unless you count sitting by/in a pool and hot tub as actually doing something. This was a long awaited and desperately needed vacation.

I just wanted to update everyone here and thank you for the support I have received and continue to receive. My WW warned me about this site saying she read reviews which reported it was full of toxic people and bad advice. I have found the opposite to be true. Thank you all for your wisdom, your kindness, your patience, and your friendship.

Regarding looking forward, I have had some ladies already reach out and say they want to meet me. I know I'm not ready for another wedding, but I do intend to enjoy their friendship for a while and get to know them. I will not be secretive about me wanting to take time to adjust to my new life before getting serious with anyone, and I look at this as an opportunity to get to know some of them, and if things progress, we'll see where those paths lead. blink

3 comments posted: Tuesday, July 9th, 2024

2 Things You Must Understand About the Disclosure Process

I found this article by Laurie Bryson, M.A., LPC very interesting. I hope it helps you in your recovery process and becomes something you can refer to from time to time.

The disclosure process is usually the most painful and confusing aspect of recovering from infidelity. It can also be the biggest barrier for couples trying to get unstuck.

As a concept, it doesn't seem that difficult. Painful, yes, but can't it be easier? Well, yes to both. It is painful, and it can be simpler than most people make it.

Today, we're going to discuss two important aspects of disclosure that can bring clarity and speed to the healing process for both partners. In short, disclosure is about uncovering what happened – the when, the how, and the who. Revealing the secrets that have been kept in the relationship is crucial for healing and moving forward.

Ultimately, we want everyone to find healing and freedom. In order for that to happen, the disclosure process must be complete. We want you to be able to move on to the next stage of healing.

Let's start with what happens to the betrayed mate when they do not have full disclosure: Choice is taken away. A fundamental aspect of adulthood is the ability to make choices about our daily life and about our future. When choice is taken away, in essence, we are held captive to the event or circumstance, making us feel trapped, dehumanized, and very much like a victim. The betrayed partner desperately needs to have a choice in how they respond, but they do not have that unless they have all the information.

Wayward partners, if this is hard for you to think about, consider the fact that the marriage proposal itself was a choice. Will you marry me? Yes, yes, I will. The affair, the pornography, the acting out, whatever it was, those actions have taken choice away from your mate.

The discovery process starts with recognizing that the most important part for the betrayed is knowing what happened and giving them a choice in how to respond. Without it, they are robbed of dignity and respect that everyone should have. Nothing will keep the betrayed mate in a state of feeling crazy, helpless, and stuck more than robbing them of the choice to know what happened.

Notice I did not say the discovery process will necessarily cover the "why." That is an important question for both the wayward and betrayed to ultimately understand. Answers to that question tend to come in layers and over time.

It's important to realize that full disclosure takes longer than we would like. It's not easy. While this isn't justifying infidelity, it's common for couples to initially improve but then find there is more information and take what feels like a step back.

For the wayward, you've been in a pattern of deception, and you're now making the choice to live differently, to become an honest person. The longer that pattern of deception has been going on, the more painful it is to work through. This pattern of deception has served a purpose in many dysfunctional ways.

Let's use the analogy of restoring floors—it's like finding original hardwood floors beneath old, stained carpeting. The carpet has to be ripped up. It's heavy and messy. The tack board and staples have to be pulled out of the floor, and that's very tedious work. You think you are done with that stage of the project until you step on a nail and realize you hadn't gotten them all.

Many times, the shame that accompanies lying and deception can serve as an awful barrier – like that old carpet you've got to get rid of.

I'm here to tell you that hope can be found.

Share and share some more. Get out the ugly stuff so the renovation can begin. It may restart the clock, but it's worth it because the betrayed deserves the choice to know.

One of the most practical and helpful concepts we hope to give you today is to think about choice and the need for empowerment in your relationship.

Wayward, if your betrayed mate is questioning you over and over and asking for information, they are most likely begging for a choice.

Betrayed, if your wayward spouse seems to be struggling with disclosing all of the information, are they at all able to see through the shame or layers of dysfunction and deception? Maybe they aren't there yet. Remember, the restoration process for the wayward doesn't happen quickly either.

Sometimes, all we can see is what's in front of us, and we have no vision for how to change it. But if we change our viewpoint ever so slightly, that can make all the difference. We can go from feeling helpless and frustrated to patiently walking through the process.

4 comments posted: Thursday, June 6th, 2024

Gaslighting and Infidelity

Here at S.I. we talk a lot about gaslighting. In this article, Wayne Baker, M.A., LPC talks about it coupled with infidelity. He also defines it, which has given me a new perspective on just what gaslighting is.

Please let me know if this article helps you in any way.

Gaslighting coupled with infidelity is extremely toxic.

When talking about gaslighting or infidelity, each on its own can devastate the safety and trust of any relationship. But together, they form an especially dangerous mix. Understanding their dynamics and learning how to navigate the impact can be the first step in healing and preventing even further harm.

The term gaslighting originated from a 1944 film called Gaslight, where a husband manipulates his wife into believing and thinking that she's actually losing her mind. Gaslighting is a form of intentional, psychological manipulation, where the gaslighter seeks to sow seeds of doubt or trigger moments of insanity in their targeted individual, making them question their own memory, discernment, sanity, and stability. This is usually accomplished by belittling, denying, or altering the truth. This behavior is a twisted way for the gaslighter to maintain their faltering sense of self-esteem and hold onto the relationship.

It's a maladaptive form of protection, and honestly, as an Internal Family Systems Therapist, I see the need to get in there and help understand what this protector's goals are, where the gaslighting is coming from, and what the person might be trying to protect.

That doesn't mean their behavior is not hurtful. The gaslighting doesn't help the gaslighter, and it's harmful to the one being gaslit. Unpacking this requires a lot of work. It is not easy for a couple to overcome because there are a lot of layers to it.

The person that's using the gaslighting needs a target. Whether they fully realize it or not, their goal in gaslighting is typically to keep the others from seeing their faults and insecurities in order to keep them in the relationship.

It's important to remember that gaslighting is an intentional behavior that belittles someone's sense of themselves or their reality or their experience. The intention of the gaslighting is to cause confusion. Contrary to many people's belief, memory is fallible. That means that remembering things differently, disagreeing on what you remember, or having a different perspective, is not always gaslighting. It's not a behavior that you see in your romantic partner that you simply don't like. Gaslighting is far more intentional and extreme than that.

If there's no intent to harm, I don't believe it's gaslighting. When an unfaithful partner lies because they're feeling a lot of shame, I don't think that's gaslighting either. The question that I ask about the person that I suspect is gaslighting, is what does this person stand to gain by this behavior? Do they stand to gain the upper hand, or are they trying to avoid losing something? That's a really important question. What is the gain here? And sometimes there's a lot of work that goes into fleshing that out. It's not always apparent. It's not always easy to find.

Let's go back to infidelity for a minute. Infidelity refers to any act of unfaithfulness in a committed relationship. You know, at Affair Recovery, we simply define infidelity as the keeping of secrets. This breach of safety and trust takes many forms, from one-night stands to emotional affairs to physical affairs to long-term, emotionally and physically entangled relationships. The common thread across all the types of infidelity is secrecy and the energy spent at keeping the secrets. So, let's talk for a minute about where these two things overlap.

When someone is committing infidelity, or they're being unfaithful in any way, they often employ gaslighting tactics to keep their partner in the dark. Remember, gaslighting includes the intention to question your sanity. Infidelity, in any of its forms, requires a level of deception. Gaslighting can often be a useful tool in maintaining that deception.

Here's how it typically unfolds. Here are some of the most common examples that I see in my therapy practice. The first thing I see is denial. The wayward partner will deny any wrongdoing, even when confronted, even in the face of evidence.

The next thing I see is trivialization or minimizing. The wayward partner may admit to the act, but they'll downplay its significance. "We were just friends." "It was a harmless flirt." "It only happened once."

Another thing I observe is blame shifting. This is where they might turn the tables and blame their partner. "If you had only paid more attention to me." "If you weren't so busy." "If you weren't always gone."

Sometimes, I see the wayward partner outright questioning the state of their partner's sanity. They imply that their partner has a case of paranoia, are delusional or emotionally unstable, or are unnecessarily suspicious.

Any of these can lead to the betrayed partner feeling lost, confused, or doubting their intuition or sense of reality. And the prolonged experience can have severe emotional and psychological effects, including anxiety and depression, diminished self-worth, and all kinds of things like that.

When you combine all that, the impact of gaslighting while dealing with the fallout of infidelity can be deep and long lasting. And gaslighting, if it's there, has got to be dealt with quickly because the long-term effects are going to be very damaging for the relationship.

You know, I believe that safety is foundational to any relationship. If we're not creating or fostering safety inside the relationship, and there's clearly not more safety inside the relationship than there is outside the relationship, then I ask the question: What are we doing here?

Infidelity on its own can leave the betrayed spouse struggling deeply with anguishing feelings of inadequacy and fear, hurt, rage, and grief. This continual state of despair coupled with gaslighting can be mentally exhausting and very damaging. That's why safety has to be job #1 in the aftermath of infidelity.

One of the worst things I see after infidelity and with the presence of gaslighting, is betrayed partners being isolated from their family and friends. I would also encourage you to watch Rick's video on Psychological Abuse, which also speaks to gaslighting. People tell me, and I've witnessed it, that people who have experienced gaslighting become embarrassed about their own perceived flaws. The gaslighter has convinced them that others see their flaws and can't be trusted. The betrayed spouse starts to question themselves at a deeper and deeper level if this persists for any length of time.

There are physical effects that happen to the stress and anxiety from living with somebody that's repeatedly gaslighting you. The infidelity can manifest itself in a host of physical ways, such as insomnia, nightmares, weight changes, and all other stress-related illnesses.

There's this dance. My good friend and infidelity therapist colleague, Job Lopez, suggested that couples frequently are convinced that the other one is gaslighting them. They both feel like they've been gaslit, and I have to say that I see that in my practice too. In these extremely emotional and stressful situations, gaslighting can be a coping mechanism.

Again, I go back to the "parts" language. This part of them has a deep sense of insecurity, and they may be using these kinds of tactics to stay in the relationship. That requires work with a good IFS therapist or somebody that knows how to work in this type of crisis. In any of these situations, though, what I believe is that good, healthy boundaries are important.

If you perceive that your partner is gaslighting you, the best thing to do is take a break from that conversation, get apart from each other for at least half an hour or maybe longer, and be curious about all the parts of you that are involved. Analyze the parts of you that are hurt, or sad, or furious. It's the part of you that wants your partner to hurt too. No judgment - I'm not here to judge you about any of this. I'm just inviting you to just observe and be curious at the very beginning about it right now.

If you suspect that you're being gaslit and suspect that you might be guilty of that too, I want you to consider all of these following steps.

Trust your logic (head).
Trust your instincts (heart).
Trust your gut.

I do this head, heart, gut exercise with clients a lot, where our head represents our intellect, our heart represents our emotions, and our gut represents our core identity. And they all have a belief, these three minds, if you will. So, you can start with your head. What's going on here? What do you believe about this issue? What's happening? And let your head answer your intellect. Then do the same thing with your heart and the same thing with your gut. Always go back to your head, your heart, and your gut.

When in doubt, always go back to the heart because the heart is central and you'll find an answer there. I know it sounds kind of crazy, but it really does work. And sometimes it works pretty quickly! Sometimes it takes several days or even longer to find out. But I really want people to get "back in their body" because we think a lot, and sometimes the things we think are not true. Get back in the body, go back to your heart, and learn to trust yourself again.

If you're a betrayed spouse, I know, I know, I know, that is really hard to do sometimes. The thing I want you to remember is that this is not your fault. It's not your responsibility to take responsibility for their actions. Also, seek external perspectives. Talk to trusted friends or family or pastors or a therapist who can provide an objective viewpoint and validate your feelings in a healthy way. They might help you see things in a way you maybe haven't before.

Speaking of therapists, please find a good therapist. A professional who is trained in these matters of infidelity recovery will be able to help you through any kind of gaslighting or other offensive or personality disorder behaviors that might be going on. They can help you understand and help you heal from the trauma, then help you decide on the best course of action going forward.

I said earlier, and I'm going to say it again: Boundaries. Set boundaries about what's acceptable in the relationship. Don't engage in lengthy conversations, because sometimes, oftentimes actually, the gaslighter will use your words against you. Prioritize self-care, engage in activities that lift you up. From exercise to meditation to spending time with loved ones, getting out and doing something new is so helpful.

Gaslighting combined with infidelity, can create deeply traumatic experiences. Awareness and understanding are crucial for healing and prevention. No one – no one – deserves to be in a relationship where their impression of reality is constantly being questioned or where trust is repeatedly broken. Everyone has the right to love, connect, respect, and be free from manipulation and betrayal.

8 comments posted: Thursday, May 16th, 2024

Creating Healing Spaces

Though a little lengthy, I found this article to be very helpful. I hope you do, as well.

by Wayne Baker, M.A., LPC

In my private practice as a psychotherapist of almost 20 years, I've seen firsthand the devastation, pain, and havoc infidelity causes. But I've also been able to witness the strength and resilience of couples who choose to work through this crisis, and sometimes other wounds from their relationship or childhood years, and then go on to rebuild a relationship that they had only previously dreamed about.

If it weren't for the transformation that I get to witness firsthand, I'd probably be still teaching middle school math or even before that, selling computers. For the wayward spouse, understanding how to create a safe environment for the betrayed spouse is crucial for healing and moving forward.

And this week, I just want to explore a few strategies to foster a safe space to support the healing process for both of you. Understanding the depth of hurt caused by infidelity and the steps required for healing is super important.

As a therapist for individuals and couples dealing with infidelity, I've learned that getting to the whole truth as quickly as possible is crucial. That means no trickle truth and no dragging it out. Betrayal trauma can lead to a whirlwind of emotions for both of you, and you don't want to make it worse by leaking bits of truth out over time nor do you want to tell half-truths in order to soften reality.

I'm very much aware that sometimes getting to the whole truth does take time, but you've got to make it a concerted effort. If you have been in an affair or any kind of secret sexual or emotionally intimate relationship, and you've been lying about it for years, we know that it's going to take time for you to learn how to tell the whole truth.

I'm not giving anybody a get-out-of-jail-free card, but you've got to do the work and effort required to get that story out as quickly as you can. Usually, in my opinion, within two or three months should be the limit for getting it all out. For some – most betrayed spouses — even that amount of time is going to feel like an eternity. The betrayed partner experiences so much anguish that leaking it out over time just makes it worse.

Brené Brown talks about anguish in her book, Atlas of the Heart. She says, "The shock and incredulity can take our breath away, and grief and powerlessness often come for our hearts and our minds. But anguish, the combination of these experiences, not only takes away our ability to breathe, to feel, and to think - it comes for our bones. Anguish often causes us to physically crumple in on ourselves, literally bringing us to our knees or forcing us all the way to the ground. The element of powerlessness is what makes anguish traumatic. We are unable to change, reverse, or negotiate what has happened. Anguish always finds its way back to us. After going through such things; your bones are slightly different than they were before."1

I think this describes a lot of the betrayed partners I have seen in my office over the years. Along with anguish, the betrayed spouse will experience hopelessness, despair, sadness, anger, rage, grief, and a slew of other painful emotions – many times, all at the same time.

These feelings are intense, and they are valid. The wayward partner must recognize and validate these emotions. The betrayed spouse needs their pain to be acknowledged. This is key.

These intense feelings must be validated not just once, but many, many times, and possibly for years to come. Understanding that the healing process is neither neat nor predictable is important. I still see a couple occasionally that I've been seeing off and on since their D-Day, about five years ago. They are doing well, but periodically, she (the betrayed spouse) will encounter a trigger. She had one just a couple of weeks ago. It was a phone call from an unknown number, and it was a reminder of the unknown numbers that played a role during her husband's affair. It turned out the call was from some political campaign. But when she triggered, he quickly reverted to the belief that "she has not forgiven me." She had forgiven him, but they were suddenly both triggered – for her, intense angst and bewilderment and for him, intense shame.

This couple has done enough work that they were able to talk about it and repair it pretty quickly, but I tell you the story as a real-life example of the long-lasting impact of betrayal trauma. It should be expected that even years later, people will have reminders they will need to work through.

Both partners will have reminders which need to be met with empathy, compassion, and a commitment to make a quick and genuine repair.

So, let's talk about HOW to create an emotionally safe environment for now and for years to come. The first thing is no big surprise – you need to establish open communication. Healing begins with honest and open communication, where the wayward spouse is willing to answer questions and discuss the affair with transparency and honesty.

The conversation is incredibly painful, but it's also necessary for rebuilding trust and safety. Empathy and patience are very important for communicating without defensiveness or attempts at justification.

The second aspect to creating a safe environment is that the wayward spouse must be able to express remorse and take responsibility. Remorse without blaming your partner for all the external circumstances is crucial for your own learning and growth. This means expressing sincere regret and understanding (and feeling) the pain you've caused. You have to do that consistently and with patience for as long as it takes – really.

And then there's this commitment to change, the third aspect of creating a safe environment. The betrayed partner must see and believe in the wayward spouse's commitment to make these changes. That might involve ending an affair completely, cutting off all contact with the AP, and taking concrete steps to rebuild safety and trust, like sharing passwords, location, and all finances. It also means honoring and abiding by the agreements that the two of you have made and will continue to make over the recovery process.

Something that I don't think is talked about often enough in the healing process is patience. Healing is gradual, and in this world of immediate gratification and a get-it-done-now mindset, this is a totally different animal.

It's going to take time to heal.

The wayward spouse must be patient, giving the betrayed partner time to grieve and process the emotions – all of them. It's not about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to navigate it together and getting on the same side of this together, however long it takes.

One thing that tends to happen with couples who are successful with this process is that the wayward partner is able to put their arms around the relationship and be the leader in creating this safe connection. I think it's the quality of the connection that becomes the biggest healing agent.

Yes, there's the whole truth and all the other things we've discussed, but if you look at the quality of your connection, is it what you want it to be? Is it what you dreamed of? If not, take a look at what's missing. It's that connection that comes from getting on the same side of this and working on it together.

A fourth element of creating a safe space is creating, establishing, and reestablishing boundaries. You know, infidelity often blurs boundary lines, and reestablishing clear boundaries is crucial. It might involve setting new rules around privacy, communication, and interaction with other people outside of the relationship. Those rules might need to be extremely strict and detailed at first.

Another thing that can be really helpful is finding some professional help. The guidance of a therapist who knows the complexities of healing from infidelity can provide a neutral space to explore feelings and communicate effectively. With that person, you can develop strategies to rebuild the relationship you have always dreamed of.

Another element that a lot of couples don't talk about at the very beginning of recovery, but it starts anywhere from 6 to 9 months into the healing process, is this recovery of sexual intimacy. It stands to reason that this part of your life is likely severely damaged following infidelity. Rebuilding intimacy takes time. And it may start with very simple acts of connection, non-sexual touch, spending quality time together, and expressing appreciation and affection. One of the things that's super important is to respect each other's space in rekindling the physical intimacy. Both partners need to feel safe and comfortable. Very rarely is that pace going to be the same for both of you, but you've got to respect each other's space and pace.

It's important to remember that forgiveness is a process. Forgiveness, self-forgiveness included, is a personal journey, and you can't rush it. The unfaithful spouse has to understand that forgiveness, if it comes, will be on the betrayed partner's terms and on their timeline. It's all about eventually letting go of anger and resentments.

But just like what I said about sexual intimacy, everybody has their own pace and their own process. If the unfaithful spouse does the work, tells the truth, expresses empathy, and is patient, respectful, and kind, most of the time, forgiveness comes over time. Even though triggers are always possible for either spouse, this process doesn't take years and years and years.

Lastly, let's talk about the co-creation of a new relationship. Neither spouse should expect the relationship to be the same as it was before. It is an opportunity to build a new foundation – one that's based on mutual understanding, transparency, and a renewed commitment, understanding and agreeing on core values for the relationship. It involves redefining relationship goals and expectations and creating new, meaningful routines and traditions.

Healing from infidelity is one of the most challenging things any therapist has seen in their practice. It is filled with a ton of pain and an opportunity to create a safe space for their partner. This will allow the betrayed partner the space and the time they need to do their own healing work.

Through open communication, professional support, a commitment to rebuilding the relationship, and co-creating something new, couples can navigate this difficult path together. Like I've said, I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't see this process play out all the time in my practice as a psychotherapist.

It's possible to emerge stronger and more connected with a renewed sense of trust and commitment! Remember that every couple's journey is unique. A safe, supportive, and compassionate environment is the cornerstone of any healing process.

As a psychotherapist, I encourage couples to view this challenging time as an opportunity to create a renewed and stronger relationship.

3 comments posted: Thursday, May 2nd, 2024

How to Survive Infidelity - Tips for the BS and WS

Another article from the same source which I found very helpful for those new to infidelity. I wish I had this one a few years ago. I want to emphasize the Bonus Tip - A LOT!! I realize this article is mainly focused on those attempting R, but the advice is sound for anyone working through infidelity, IMO. Plus, I believe some of this advice should be implemented in the next relationship to make it as strong as possible and help prevent infidelity in the future.

The discovery of infidelity severely disrupts your life. It is a violation unlike any other. Most experts who deal with infidelity say that the betrayed spouse deals with anywhere from 50 to 100 reminders and triggers per day about their spouse's infidelity. But we have a God who is far bigger than our circumstances.

Those of us who have traveled this road and have experienced true restoration can attest, the marriage we now experience is far better than what we once had or even thought we could have. What I heard Rick Reynolds say some time ago is absolutely true: you can never predict the end of the story by the beginning. I encourage you to stay the course and see what is possible with the right kind of help and support.

Over the years, I have found that hearing a story that is similar to your own is both reassuring and instrumental for both healing and perspective. When Rick asked me to share my story, I wondered what I could offer those living the nightmare. As I began to go deeper into my personal experience, I felt the need to share some very practical yet life-changing suggestions. I hope and pray they help you as much as they helped me.

5 Tips for the Unfaithful Spouse

1. You must stop the affair. You will need help to stop it. Find an experienced professional, spiritual leader, or someone who has lived through this type of situation. Getting the right kind of help from those who have gone through it before is critical to finding momentum in your recovery. If you're reading this, you've probably realized that your own efforts were not sufficient to prevent the affair, and doing more of the same won't be sufficient as you attempt to be an infidelity survivor.

2. Commit to creating an atmosphere of safety. Commit to openness and honesty on a daily basis. Be available by cell phone. Be willing to share your location on your smart phone. Hand over all passwords, e-mail addresses, bills, and any secret phones or credit cards and give your mate full access to all in order to give him/her assurance. Make a decision to have no unaccounted-for time in your day. If you're going to give this marriage a shot at being restored, be willing to do whatever it takes to restore trust. The way to reestablish trust is to first trust your mate with the truth about what's going on in your life.

3. Take responsibility. As bad as your marriage may have been, and as rejected as you may have felt, it still doesn't justify breaking a vow. Have the courage to say "I messed up." Take responsibility for your own recovery.

4. Develop empathy for your spouse. Daily express to your mate that you're sorry for the pain that you have caused and that you have deep appreciation for that fact that they are still there. Being able to express grief over what your actions have cost your mate is one of the first and most important steps to moving beyond the betrayal.

5. Be patient and ask your mate how he/she is doing. If you see your mate is down, simply ask how he/she is feeling. Our first tendency when we see those storm clouds brewing over our mate is to run for the shelter, but in recovery, it's best to be a tornado chaser by creating space to share about the pain.

Bonus Tip!

Don't be defensive. Usually, defensiveness sounds something like, "Well, if you hadn't. . . " Unfaithful mates often blame their mate and try to justify why they messed up. This defensiveness (and attempts at justifying infidelity) only add to the frustration, hurt, and anger.

5 Tips for the Betrayed Spouse

1. Express your feelings and thoughts without the destructiveness of rage. This one can be tricky and is especially difficult if discovery was recent. It will be somewhat easier if you are able to maintain the perspective that anger (even the rage you may currently be experiencing) is a secondary emotion. Instead of expressing your anger, talk more about the underlying feelings that evoked the anger such as hurt or fear.

2. Avoid rapid-fire questioning. Ask questions slowly, always asking yourself if the answer will be information you want to live with (and be triggered by) for the rest of your life. I would encourage you to avoid questions that would paint a picture in your head. Those are especially hard to These questions create the intrusive thoughts you'll later have to deal with. Ask yourself if the questions you're asking are helping you move forward or if you are asking them for some other reason.

3. Commit to forgiveness. This doesn't have to happen fast but, for your sake, you want it to occur. Don't fall into the trap of believing you can control your mate's behavior by not forgiving. Remember, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Forgiving isn't the same as reconciliation but, if your mate is safe enough, forgiveness paves the way for the possibility of reconciliation. Forgiveness is also not a one-time act. There will be layers to your pain which will necessitate a commitment, in advance, to forgive as you move forward.

4. Allow yourself time and space to grieve and process what has happened. To attempt to heal the marriage too quickly is one of the leading factors of relapse for the unfaithful spouse. As social worker and infidelity expert, Leslie Hardie says, "It's not about the amount of time you give it; rather, it's about how you utilize the time you give it."

5. Recognize your vulnerabilities. Don't let your hurt, pain, and anger drive you to behaviors and choices you will later regret. Avoid putting yourself in vulnerable situations.

5 Tasks for the Couple

1. Find support. Try to find at least two or three people you can both agree would be safe individuals to share with. Having a safe place, apart from your spouse, to process feelings can be beneficial. It's helpful for you to have someone of the same sex you can vent to and grieve with, someone who is safe, is open to the marriage being saved, and has your best interests at heart. Your mate absolutely needs a trusted friend where they can do the same. If you don't have this outlet outside the marriage, chances are painful emotions will build up and come out in destructive ways.

2. Separate the marriage from the train wreck of the infidelity. Remember, there is more to your relationship than the infidelity. It does not rewrite your whole history although, sometimes, it may feel like it does. While you can never go back to what you had, you do have the opportunity, in time, to create something better.

3. Make time to talk about the marriage and the effects of the infidelity. One of the worst mistakes you can make is to stop the dialogue about what has happened. If you cannot process through the effects of the infidelity, it will most assuredly stall your efforts to heal as a couple and create underlying dissention in your heart towards your spouse. Allow time for both of you to process what you are learning about yourselves and each other along the way.

4. Arrange a problem-free time during which you can have fun and enjoy each other. This is a must. If you don't have this time, you will begin to feel like your identity and your relationship are just byproducts of the infidelity. Remember, there is more to life. So, try to find times where you agree not to discuss the infidelity.

5. Remind each other that your relationship can be better. You are building both honesty and empathy that were probably not there before the infidelity. Your relationship will emerge from this so much better if you let it. It will never be the same, but who wants to go back to the life you were living before anyway? This is an opportunity to build a new foundation with new patterns of behavior.

Affair-Proofing Your Marriage

While you cannot affair-proof your marriage, you can and must affair-proof your own life. This goes for the betrayed spouse too, who in many ways, is ripe for an affair if healing does not take place. The unfaithful spouse must take charge of this vital step if they are going to prevent relapse and eventually reestablish trust with their mate.

1. Assume that an affair could happen again and take precautions rather than assuming it will never happen again. Actively avoid putting yourself in harm's way. Together, with your mate, design "our rules" for keeping your relationship safe.

2. Both parties need to understand that temptations don't define us, and behavior does not equal motive. We have to be willing to be honest about dangerous situations around us. Understand that if your mate is willing to share something he/she is struggling with, then your mate is choosing to keep the marriage safe rather than to endanger it by hiding the struggle or weakness.

3. Marriages take work. Commit to working hard at your marriage. Be willing to put as much time into the marriage as you do into other activities you love. The grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence; it's greener where you water it.

4. Be willing to talk about this issue as a couple. Be willing to honestly discuss any areas where the relationship is at risk, rather than just going through the emotions of it all. Autopilot seldom works in recovery.

5. Give back. If you've already recovered from a betrayal, be willing to give back to others who are still dealing with infidelity. There is no better preventive medicine than working with others who are coming along behind you. Their journey will be a constant reminder of the cost you incurred and experienced in your own journey.

There is truly nothing that the nearness of God cannot heal. The tasks on this list are just a few suggestions that will help you find and protect hope and safety in your marriage.

2 comments posted: Thursday, March 7th, 2024

Dealing with Reminders

Here is another article I found to be helpful. It didn't really speak to me very deeply, but it may help someone else here.

Back in the mid-eighties, I had a business fail. I guess that's not unusual in the world of business, but it was new to me. In fact, when I went down, I went down big. I lost just about everything as I desperately tried to save the business. I spent our savings, our retirement, even borrowed money, all in an attempt to hold out until the market turned.

The only problem was the market never turned, so we ran smack dab into financial ruin.

Thankfully, God was faithful. He met our needs and took us in a new direction. As usual, he was able to take the worst thing that ever happened to us and make it the best.

Now, you may be wondering why I'm sharing this story, or what this has to do with surviving an affair, but I have discovered that almost every crisis has stinging parallels. How we respond has little to do with the type of crisis but, rather, it has to do with the impact of the crisis and the process we go through to heal. The pain of infidelity is unmatched in its long-term effects and reoccurring hurt, pain, and trauma. I assure you, there are few things that impact life quite like infidelity, but even so, the impact of financial ruin has a few similarities.

Emotional Flooding
From my financial crisis, I began to notice some interesting responses. Hopefully, you can relate to them as you are dealing with betrayal. Every time I encountered a reminder of my business, I experienced an emotional firestorm. Each time I drove by a location where I had worked, I would emotionally flood. If I ran into someone with whom I had previously worked with or known, I became overwhelmed with palpable feelings of dread, insecurity, and paralyzing anxiety (and I'm normally a person who is emotionally constipated).

There seemed to be reminders everywhere, and I continually had to battle my emotions just to barely be able to function in life's regular responsibilities.

Itemizing the Losses
The trauma experienced by a couple upon the revelation of a betrayal is no small matter, and it creates an emotional firestorm that has to be dealt with by both parties in order to eventually recover. To be sure, the initial stage of recovery is about grieving. For the hurt spouse, the pain of the many losses is, in no uncertain terms, overwhelming. Oddly enough, identifying the losses can be a tool to actually work through them and diffuse their impact on both the betrayed spouse as well as the unfaithful spouse.

Take, for example, the list of practical losses below that a betrayed spouse feels:

* The loss of self-confidence.
* The loss of the life they thought they had.
* The loss of their dreams.
* The loss of security.
* The loss of their belief about who their mate was.
* The loss of the future which seemed so certain.
* The loss of innocence.
* The loss of reputation.
And. . . the list goes on and on and on.
It's crucial for losses to be identified and grieved. These stages of both loss and grief, simply stated, cannot be avoided. There will be anger, bargaining, and depression, but ultimately, if the right help is utilized and acquired, there comes a point where we find meaning and acceptance in what has occurred.

But the act of grieving does not resolve the issue of reminders.

So How Do You Resolve It?
How does one move beyond the trauma and position themselves for the potential healing of the relationship?

Long after affairs have ceased, if the betrayer is an addict and has pursued and (hopefully) achieved sobriety from sexual addiction, the battle of the thought life and the impact of raw trauma sets in. In many ways, how they deal with their own recovery will determine how quickly, or if at all, a couple will be able to recover from an affair. At some point, each party has to make a conscious decision to either live in a past hurtful event or recommit to the marriage and focus on the life they can have in the future.

That decision is even more difficult than it sounds because it's not just a matter of a choice, but rather, a battle that must be fought by the will, sometimes over months or even years. It takes a great deal of motivation to be willing to engage in this daily battle of survival, recovery, and transformation after an affair.

Tangible Occurrences

For each partner, there can be multiple daily reminders of the catastrophic events. For the betrayed, it can be a name, the arrival of a cell phone or visa bill, ads for a topless club, certain songs, crass TV show or movie remarks, or news of someone else's betrayal in the news or on a TV show. Even seeing a couple who seems to be out having a wonderful date can be enough to send the hurt spouse down memory lane, which can easily lead to a painful and emotional remembrance.

For the unfaithful spouse, though, life is also filled with these reminders. Each time their mate says they want to talk, coming home from work not knowing what type of mood their mate will be in, using the home computer, or attending recovery groups and counseling can all serve as reminders that might cause the betrayer to flood mentally and emotionally. This is hard for them too. It is at this point that the battle in the theater of the mind begins. The greatest distance known to mankind is the eighteen inches between the head and the heart. In fact, it takes up to seven years for truth to move from our head to our heart, but for some strange reason it only takes a lie about three seconds to travel the same distance! At some point, as you're dealing with betrayal, each party has to come to the point where they choose to focus on something other than the betrayal itself. They must decide that it is not this event that will define or control the rest of their life. There has to be a conscious choice to move beyond the carnage and truly recover from the affair. The couple must break free from that in order to see what is possible in the future.

Leaving the Old, Pursuing the New
What "was" is now, sadly, gone. True restoration is about the possibility of something new. Though seemingly incomprehensible right now, the fact is that a saved marriage is absolutely possible. I can introduce you to many couples who will testify that their post-affair marriage is actually better than their pre-affair marriage. Our invitation to you and your spouse is to work toward the glory of a restored marriage. It will take effort, struggle, expertise, and tangible grace. However, it will prove more than worth it should both parties remain committed to the process; and trust me, recovery is a process. More than likely, your situation didn't develop overnight, and it will not be fixed overnight either. There is a hope that transcends the very heartache and hopelessness you are feeling right now. I hope and pray that you will soon be able to feel this hope.

If you are the unfaithful spouse, you might find it useful to ask your spouse to make a long list of reminders that they could have on any given day which send them to their personal house of torment. Your understanding of their struggle might go a long way in helping your spouse to heal. If you are the hurt spouse and you believe your mate is becoming a safe person and has moved into recovery, then choosing to no longer be a victim of painful reminders would be an excellent step toward health. You'll know when the time is right. When possible, be willing to fight the battle by attempting to focus on what is good and pure and noble instead of focusing on the failure. Counterintuitive to what we may feel about life, as we work through our own recovery, we can find meaning in the suffering. We can allow the suffering to provide a richness to life that we never knew existed. It's my hope that you can turn the worst thing that has ever happened to you into the best.

5 comments posted: Wednesday, March 6th, 2024

Why Did My Spouse Cheat? Vol. 3

This paragraph of the article went a little contrary to what I believe. Then again, if we don't open our hearts and minds to another's input, we may never get to the real truth of a matter.

Did they ever really love me?

This one is hard to answer. It all depends on how you define love. One thing is for certain, if someone betrays their mate, what they've done is not loving. However, I believe every human being is capable of loving someone, while at the same time, acting in ways that are selfish and contrary to love.

On the other hand, I believe many people have a shallow understanding of love. They get married thinking they love their mate, but in reality, they love how their mate makes them feel about themselves. If that's the case, they will continue in the relationship as long as the marriage continues to make them feel happy. But if, for whatever reason, the marriage ceases to make them feel happy, or if they find someone or something that makes them feel even happier, then it won't be long until the allure draws them elsewhere.

If that occurs, does it mean they never loved you? It's hard to know another's heart, but it is possible that their journey into the forbidden caused them to realize that their mate the life they've built together is what they really cherish. At the very least, if they are choosing to work on the relationship, I believe their betrayal and your response to it may be the very thing that begins to teach them the true meaning of love. Many times, healing after an affair involves discovering what real love looks like and feels like.

What do you think about this?

10 comments posted: Tuesday, February 27th, 2024

Why Did My Spouse Cheat? Vol. 2

The author I mentioned in the original post wrote more than just that one paragraph, so I thought I would share more. I do hope everyone who reads the posts will benefit from what people say and will find healing in our conversations.

Here is the next portion of that article:

Why would they risk our happy life?

In all honesty, there is a good chance the person who's acting out isn't even thinking about risking a life of calm and serenity for trouble with a misfit partner. That's because they feel excitement over the idea of being with someone else. The compartmentalization that most addicts utilize separates the two realities in their mind. The risk is part of what brings the excitement, but the reality of losing everything they hold dear doesn't really hold any weight in the moment. At one level, they may be aware that they could lose everything, but the reality of that possibility doesn't fully register in their mind.

It's a difficult concept to explain to someone who's not an addict. It's like trying to describe light or color to a blind person. You can tell them what it's like, but unless they experience it, it's hard to believe someone could actually think this way. The person who lives like this still knows that what they're doing is wrong, but they have to make the choice to own up to it and stop doing it. What happens after the affair is an afterthought.

5 comments posted: Wednesday, February 21st, 2024

Why Did My Spouse Cheat?

Like many BS's, I wrestled with "why" my spouse cheated on me. There are many good articles out there that address this issue. I found one and it helped me understand a little more clearly. I thought I would share part of it here hoping it would provide a little understanding for those who need it.

What does the other person have that I don't?

The other person has many things that you don't, just as you have many things that they don't. You're not all that, but neither is the affair partner. Typically, people enjoy how the affair partner makes them feel. Think of it this way. Affair partners tend to serve as a vanity mirror and the mate as a magnifying mirror. This is why the affair partner seems to be the preferred commodity, even though, in the long run, it's just an illusion. The reality is that you possess 80 percent of the characteristics your mate wants while the affair partner only has 20 percent of what they want. Leaving the 80 for the 20 isn't very smart.

33 comments posted: Sunday, February 18th, 2024

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