Advertisements

Some words from my husband about LOVE


The day after I had posted about Valentine’s Day, and how the meaning for me has greatly shifted since his affair, but moreso since my view on relationships has become more….realistic, he sent me these words, and permitted me to post them here.  I thought I would share.

Last night after midnight, as I was leaving the work, tired, wasted, and with aching feet, I received your post about Valentine’s day.  What a painful way to feel – for you and all those partners of betraying spouses!  How sad it makes me feel that I did this to you, and how deflating it is to the spirit of love, on a day hallmarked by society to celebrate love!  It is further deflating that the feeling the betrayed spouse feels is even lower than that experienced by those without a partner to love on Valentine’s day.  That last point wasn’t explicitly stated, but inferred, at least to me, from the post.  And salvation from these feelings comes from gratitude for the small things, a manicure, not getting an STD, or visiting the salon……

On my lonely drive home, ridden with guilt and remorse for destroying your festive feelings of Valentine’s day, I started to ponder love.  Love for a spouse, a child, a parent, a cause, a nation…. Love for another person.  I realized in my thoughts that Love is gigantic!  It encompasses all that we do, all that we feel, all that we are.  It brings us joy, despair, and anger.  Love leads us to celebrate, to mourn, to laugh, and to cry.

Love is powerful!  It lifts us up when we are down, it fills our hearts when there is emptiness, and carries us when we have nothing left to give.  It drives us to win wars, perform superhuman acts, or reach farther than we ever thought that we could.  Love inspires us to create, build, and to strive.  Love unites us, divides us, and conquers us.

Love is simple.  It doesn’t require a contract, a building, or a permit.  It can be experienced by anyone,  animals, children, and friends.  It can happen anywhere, through any medium, and without special planning.

Love is deep!  No wonder love is symbolized by the heart.  It’s at the core of one’s soul.  It resides in the deepest and most sensitive part of one’s body.

So how does all this impact the couples who have lived through infidelity?  Those who were hurt by a spouse that strayed, became involved with another, and betrayed.  How can one celebrate their love of that person?

In our relationship, where I was the betraying spouse, it was my love for my wife that led me to spend day after day trying to win back her heart.  It was my love for her that led me to overcome my shame and announce my biggest mistake to strangers so that she could receive their support, even if it was at my expense.  It was my love for my wife that gave me hope during my darkest hours that maybe she will forgive me.  It was my love for my children, my wife, and my family that kept me from killing myself when I felt there was no reason for living.

In committing infidelity, our vows were broken and cannot be repaired, but the strength of our love transcended those vows.  Our love was the cement that held us together during the roughest challenge in our lives, and when all else failed, conversations, counselors, books, and friends, our love was there for us guiding a path for us to follow through this hurricane that we endured.

I never understood Valentine’s day the way that I understand it now, because I never experienced love the way that I experience it now.  I believe that Love is deserving of more than a single day.  Without feeling love I would not be here today.  I would not have had the fortitude to survive the ordeal that I survived, and I would not have had the perseverance stay on this course.  It was by far the most difficult experience of my life.

Now that I am through most of the storm of infidelity that I brought into our lives,  I am grateful for the existence of Valentine’s day.  It is a day that is devoted to thinking about Love, which is at the core of everything that we do.  I am grateful that it exists, because I have come to understand the meaning of love a little bit better than I did in the past.  I have come to appreciate the clichés about love:

  •  Love conquers all
  • All we need is love
  • At least we have our love
  • Without love there is nothing
  • ETC….

Those clichés have a new and deeper meaning to me.

I love you very much!  Sometimes I feel anger, and sometimes you do too.   That’s okay, because if there was no love, there would be nothing to get angry about.  Our love has moved mountains as it guided us through this most difficult time in our marriage.  I feel that should be celebrated.  So I got you a gift for valentine’s day.  If you don’t want to open it, and you don’t want to celebrate this day – I’ll understand.  I can take it back.  I don’t want to impose my beliefs upon you.  Every day that we experience love is a reminder of the power of love.

So I take this moment to wish you happy love day, happy every day!

Husband

Advertisements

Getting through Valentine’s day


Remember that Valentines day when you were the only one without a girlfriend/boyfriend, and it seemed everyone else was happy in a relationship? Yeah…this feels worse doesn’t it? Trying to get through a holiday hell bent on celebrating the saccharin syrupy sweetness of love, when you’ve just been stabbed in the heart. It hardly seems fair. It isn’t.

For many people who have experienced the pain of infidelity, Valentine’s Day represents a significant trigger. For some, even, it represents a major setback, causing them to lose ground on what they felt was a forward momentum in their healing journey. Hallmark cards lining the aisles, beckoning you to read stories of love, compassion, and caring, all the while knowing that the person to purported to love you decided to break your heart instead of buying you a chocolate one.

I’ve grown to dislike valentines day. I used to like it. That was also when I was naive and thought that my wedding vows meant something and that my husband was committed to me. For me, I am not sad because of what i went through. I am sad thinking of all the people who experience love shallowly, albeit blissfully unaware. Now, I watch as naive couples get wooed into the magical and love struck world of valentines day, as men rush out to buy roses, as couples scurry off to their dinner date…and I wonder if they are aware of the dangers that lurk. Gosh, they look so happy…I wouldn’t want to burst their bubble, but c’mon people…get a grip on reality. Love isn’t about one day of showing someone you care. It’s an ongoing commitment to doing the right thing. It can’t be encapsulated in one day, and a box of chocolates won’t right the wrong.

Instead of allowing Valentine’s Day to bring you down in the dumps, and giving you permission to dwell on how horrible your situation is, perhaps take this time to be your own Valentine, to show yourself some self-care. Treat yourself to something luxurious tomorrow, whether it’s a manicure, a massage, a walk in the woods, a coffee with a friend…a trip to the bookstore. Whatever your guilty pleasure is, gift it to yourself.

Then, as much as I hate to compare stories of infidelity and to consider any one person’s situation as more “traumatic” than another’s, I think there a value in adding perspective. There is always a way that your situation could have been worse. There is always one part of your story where you can say: “well at least ___________ didn’t happen. For me, that something is an STD or the my husband didn’t leave me to be with his affair partner. If he had, my story would feel so much worse, at least I think it would. Valentine’s day is approximately the day my husband would have found out that the OW was pregnant. He screwed her on her birthday, Feb 1, and ta-da she would have tested and found out….about now.

For some, you might read my story and say “oh my goodness, at least my husband didn’t father a child”, or if a man, “at least my wife didn’t get pregnant”. For some, my story is their ultimate blow. For others, their story went far beyond.

There is always one step beyond how bad your situation is to a place that you would have felt worse. Perhaps taking some time to be thankful that it wasn’t as bad as ____________ can be your gift to yourself.

These sappy romantic holidays make me feel sad now. Not for me, but for all of these love struck girls who are tickled to have a date this valentines day, who just don’t know the signs. She doesn’t know what to look for. She doesn’t know how to affair proof her relationship. The problem is, she doesn’t yet know that she has to. Therein lies the irony….no one ever takes the time to do this work, until it has happened to them.

Teleseminar recording is now available – Come listen!


Betrayed spouses…if you missed the opportunity to hear the teleseminar that took place this past week, on Tuesday night, February 5th, you can now hear it online.

Anne Bercht invited me to join her on the call this past week and share my story.  Those who have been following my blog know it well, but if you would want to listen in to the discussion that was had, click on this link to be taken to the recording, and think of attending future ones live, or just enjoy listening to past calls on the beyond affairs tele seminars page. 

 

 

You can’t thwart crazy


Those who know my story know that I will have the ow in our lives for the next 20 years while child support is payable. It’s quite a life sentence, no? I’m doing the best I can.

I read an email tonight which serves as a reminder that although I can change my perspective on the ow and her particular brand of crazy, I’ll never stop it. I can only change my reaction.

Her most recent email to our lawyer reads:

dear lawyer,

Below is a copy of an email received from __________ Daycare indicating man’s January cheque was returned NSF. Lawyer, not only only are his payments to both myself and the daycare consistently late they are now being returned insufficient funds. It appears your client wishes to have these matters handled by a collection agency or through additional court enforcement as he is blatantly disrespecting the Courts Orders. Further the February support payment to myself AND February payment to __________ Daycare has not been received.

Further I understand he continues his ongoing abusive and neglectful behavior towards his children. Kindly remind your client all documentation he provided to me prior to Jan 2012 was not confidential as was all information he has publicly provided since then. This includes but is not limited to documentation whereby he stated his wife’s negligent parenting was the cause of his eldest sons seizure at a theme park. allowing his youngest son to consume alcohol, intentionally neglecting his children’s needs to satisfy his sexual needs, documenting a very recent incident and more. He is aware of all of the information he has documented for at least four years now regarding his abusive and neglectful behavior toward his children. As you are aware the courts have already removed all of his rights to his youngest child, based on his abuse and violence.

Your cooperation in addressing these matters in a timely matter is appreciated.

Many thanks,

Ummm ok. Each year she is given monthly post dated cheques. She has them all in advance. How can they be late?

The courts removed his rights to the child he fathered with her? Ummm I think the technical term there that she is missing is that he “revoked” his rights and gave her full custody.

In the spirit of me embracing a new outlook on her, it is obvious she is suffering. She feels sad that her child doesn’t have a father and so she paints a picture that shows he was denied rights because the truth that he revoked them and hasn’t shown interest hurts too much. She still feels the need to lash out at me, referencing an once sent from 2005, four years before they met when my son suffered from heat stroke while at a theme park with my husband. Yup, I wasn’t even there. I was looking after his little 6 week old brother at the time. Interesting and creative spin, although quite inaccurate. Interesting to me how she always paints my husband as “abusive” in her emails. Claims that he abuses his children are completely false and out of character. I have to wonder if she needs to paint him this way to reduce her own pain about his being absent from her daughter’s life? It’s amazing what the mind can do. Don’t get me started on the comment that we let our baby drink. She’s living in a reality show crazier than Jersey Shore.

I can only offer her peace and healing, and the hope that she finds happiness. Maybe then, she won’t feel the need to spew these lies to protect herself from her pain. God help her.

Drip…drip…drip…The danger of the “trickle-truth”


Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 9.34.18 PM

Trickle-truth: A phenomenon whereby an individual who has betrayed their partner reveals the complete truth s little at a time, as opposed to all at once.

You either have a denier, a gusher or a trickler. A denier will deny the affair is happening, and make you feel like you are going crazy, filling you with self-doubt. A gusher will explode with all of the truth right away, whether they were caught or whether they willingly disclosed. A trickler, on the other hand, reveals information slowly, over time, possibly telling lies to conceal certain aspects of the truth until they are ready to let them out in a slow and controlled way, thereby delaying the betrayed partner from having the “complete truth” for some time.

Do you have a denier, a gusher or a trickler?

I had a gusher, and I am thankful.

First of all, I should back up one step. Before the truth can come out or be received, the betrayed partner needs to decide at what pace they wish to receive the truth, and how much detail they want/need. Not everyone needs or wants the details. I am NOT one of those people. I wanted to know as much about the affair as my husband did. I didn’t like knowing that another woman knew more into that window of his life than I did, and so I set out to see the affair through his eyes, to share in the details and not feel as though I was left out. So, for me, having a gusher was a good thing.

Aside from complete denial of the events, trickle-truths have to be the most damaging thing to the healing process, second only to finding out that your affair never ended, after being told it had (but that is another blog post for another day). And so I write this blog post for the spouse who betrayed. Yes, you…I am talking to YOU this time.

Being betrayed hurts. It hurts like hell. There is no greater hurt imaginable. Whether you were discovered accidentally, or whether you came clean and told your partner you had an affair, the simple fact is that you committed a crime against your marriage, and have changed your spouse forever. The hurt that comes from the betrayal of the most intimate part of your life is intense. But what carries more weight than the details of your behaviour during your affair are the details of the behaviours you exhibit AFTER disclosure. Whether you are aiming to reconcile or whether you are headed towards separation or divorce, your partner is going to want to know what happened. BEing cut out of someone else’s life, and having a secret life outside of them is hard to wrap your head around. When your whole world comes crashing down, and you are given the devastating news, you really do start to question what was ever “real” in your life. In order to make sense of the information, many betrayed spouses find themselves asking a ton of questions designed to pieve together the puzzle, create a timeline of events, and make sense of what happened. It isn’t enough to know that you cheated. We want to know where, when, how often, with whom, in what way, what you did, and most of all WHY you did it. We want to know if she was prettier than us, if she was smarter, if she was better in bed, if she was thinner, if she made you laugh more, if she was….better. Whether you are uncovered or disclosed, your opportunity for some sort of redemption is NOW. You are already found-out, you really have nothing else to lose. So, why do the trickle-truth way of concealing certain details, only to reveal them later? Don’t you know that is more hurtful to us? All you are doing when you do that is protecting yourself, and once she realizes you aren’t being forthcoming, she will see that you are once again thinking only of NUMERO UNO, and not putting her needs first.

I know that you feel ashamed. Maybe you feel angry because your secret has been uncovered, and you feel like you can no longer partake in your extra-marital activity. Regardless, all you want is for it all to go away. If you could snap your fingers and make her “reset”, whereby she is aware of the affair, but never raises it, doesn’t cry, doesn’t ask questions, doesn’t hold it over you, and doesn’t threaten to leave…I bet you’d snap those fingers. I know that anytime I’ve felt shame, I’ve just wanted to hide and come out when it is safe, has blown over, and people have forgotten about it. I get it. But, let’s face it, you did something pretty vile, and you need to take responsibility for your actions and the hurt they have caused. Telling the truth is only part of what is necessary, so I start there.

When your hurt partner asks you for the truth, they want it. They NEED it. You hold the key to their healing, and if you deny them the truth, you deny them healing, or at best, you delay their healing. Neither are good options. I firmly believe that people ask questions at the time when they are ready to receive them. In the case of infidelity, I think this is an exception to that rule. Sometimes a partner asks for the truth, demanding it immediately, only to discover that they aren’t emotionally ready to process what has been offered. The betrayed spouse has a responsibility in asking ONLY THOSE QUESTIONS THAT THEY ARE PREPARED TO HEAR THE ANSWERS TO. You will need to talk together about how fast and how much, but just knowing that you are giving it ALL to her/him at the speed at which S/HE needs to hear it is so comforting.

I look at it this way: The affair was a wall between you and your spouse. Your activities were completely hidden behind the wall. When the affair was blown open, it threw open a window between you and your spouse. She can see you, and you can see her. She might even be able to climb through the window to meet you on the other side. But, each time you tell the truth in a way that shows her that you concealed it previously, the window closes by an inch. With each concealed lie slowly making its way to truth, the window openings gets smaller and smaller until you find yourselves on two opposite sides of the window, unable to cross through to the other person. Your window, right after the affair is the widest it will ever be. Keep it that way by telling the truth as you are asked. Each time you do, the truth helps prop the window open, making it more likely that you can 1. See each other better, and 2. One of you will make the overture to join the other on their side.

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 9.43.59 PM

It sounds silly, but in the wake of my husband’s affair, while I was reeling in pain, the one thing I could feel comforted by was knowing that although it felt I had momentarily lost him to the other team, knowing that the truth was given freely each time I asked felt like he was coming back to mine. Knowing that I could access the information that I needed whenever I needed it, allowed me to feel as though I was strangely in control of something. When you learn of your partner’s affair, suddenly you are strapped into a roller coaster ride that you never intended to board, and you feel as though your life has run away with you, and you aren’t in control of anything. Your partner cheated, perhaps the other party is making demands or acting like a nuisance…either way, you feel out of control. Having the information as I needed it allowed me to feel some small semblance of being in control of my self.

For me, I wanted the information right away. I told my husband to give it all to me at once. When he disclosed, I felt as though my world was pulled out from under my feet. I had fallen down, and getting up felt like an insurmountable task. The last thing I wanted was to stand up, knowing the truth I had, bearing weight on my legs again, only to have them swept out from under me again with some new unexpected information. I wanted it all at once – quick – like a bandaid. I figured: “knock me down, beat me up, kick me while I am down here. But, so help me God, if I have to get up and be knocked down again….I don’t think I will get up the next time”.

My husband was forthcoming with the information I needed. It was one of the factors that allowed him to restore my trust in him. Had he withheld, told me slowly, or concealed further, it would have added insult to injury. It would have left me feeling as though he didn’t respect me enough to tell me the truth. It is one thing to conceal an affair when it is a secret. It is entirely another to be given a chance to come clean by someone who is begging you for the truth, and then deny it knowing how much it means to them. When you are in the affair, you can rationalize why s/he doesn’t need to know. You can justify your actions and secrecy by saying that she wouldn’t want to know. But when s/he stands in front of you, a broken person, and begs you to tell the truth, and you don’t….on purpose…you are simply someone holding onto a large cold glass of water, and depriving the parched and dehydrated person in front of you from taking a sip.

Now, if you are the betrayed spouse, there is a way to minimize trickle-truth. Remember, that trickle-truth tends to happen because the unfaithful partner feels scared and ashamed. They are less apt to tell you the complete truth if they think it will harm them (you will walk out, you will threaten to take the kids, you will divorce them), or if they think you will use whatever information they provide as ammunition against them later. Remember that you too have a role here, and that is that if you are going to ask for the information, you have to promise to use it internally only, for your own knowledge, and that you won’t turn it around and use it as poison. No one will offer you a vial of poison if they think you are going to turn around and pour it down their throat. Reassure your partner of why you want to know, and that you won’t hurt them with the information. Reassure them that although it might hurt YOU like hell, that you will do your best to process the information that comes in a way that is healthy and helpful to both of you.

Being betrayed hurts. Being deceived after the betrayal is uncovered is just further disrespect. You don’t have to spill it all in one episode, but the simple act of reassuring the betrayed spouse that you will do your best to give her the information as you remember it, when asked, is a huge step forward and earns big points.

Betrayed spouses: Be prepared for some of the answers that you do get to be “I don’t remember”. This is especially true if the unfaithful spouse is male. Men simply don’t remember the details the way us women do. We remember what he was wearing, what cologne he had on, whether it was breezy out…he simply doesn’t look for, appreciate, or need that detail in order to live his life, so he may not have made that mental note. But, don’t fret, those memories can come back, if they are given time to percolate. The important thing is that the unfaithful spouse doesn’t start creating details that weren’t accurate simply for the purpose of ‘having an answer’. That helps no one, and can do more harm than good. If you don’t know – say so. If you spontaneously remember in a few days, gently remind your partner that you’ve had a breakthrough memory of the events s/he was asking about, and ask when it would be a good time to share it.

Healing can only begin once the truth is known. Finding out weeks or months later that the “truth” you thought you had wasn’t the truth at all can cause significant setbacks in healing. If you want to move forward to a place where forgiveness is possible, a place where she doesn’t “bring it up anymore”, where she doesn’t “ask anymore questions”, and where the affair no longer dominates discussion, remember that truth now brings healing later. Truth later, brings healing even later. In a nutshell: You need to sit in the shit before you can get out and towel off. Be willing to jump in.

20130206-223223.jpg

Seek out like others


Being betrayed by an affair has to be the most devastating thing a person can go through.  It has been said that the pain that comes from someone betraying the most intimate part of your life is far worse than going through the loss and death of a loved one.   Seeking appropriate support is necessary.

What is appropriate support?

Well, that definition will be different for many, but for me, it was in finding people who would support me without judgement and equally importantly, would support me without putting my husband down.

I had made the decision to work on my marriage and to heal it after his betrayal.  I knew I needed people to talk to, but I didn’t think bad-mouthing my husband was enough.  That was surface shit, and I needed deeper.  I wanted people to hear ME, listen to ME, heal ME….tearing up my husband was just anger-management, not healing. It feels good in the moment, but long term…it’s crap.  Besides, I’d made the decision that he was worth fighting for…and if they didn’t stand by that choice, they weren’t good enough to let into the “circle of trust”.

Shirley Glass calls these friends, “friends of the marriage”.  They are friends who will stand by you and your partner, helping you navigate the journey without suggesting separation, bad-mouthing the other, or sabotaging your efforts at regaining intimacy.  They can play devil’s advocate – sure – but in the end you need to feel like they do so only to help you clarify, not to dissuade or influence you.

I lost friends as a result of my husband’s affair.  Now, I may have lost these friends anyway, but it was the beginning of the end.  In one friend, she was unable to see my husband positively, and I felt the tension every time we were together.  I knew it would never be the same.   In another friend, my husband’s affair and the resultant conversation from it took up too much space in our friendship.  I was in the heat of the pain and needed to talk, and I am sure I talked about it a lot.  The main problem here?  She is an unmarried friend who doesn’t have the same insights into marriage and commitment that I have.  That statement would no doubt be perceived as condescending by her if she read it, but the simple fact of the matter is that until I was married, I too thought I knew what it takes to make a marriage work.  I had no idea.

Finding “LIKE” others means finding those who are like you.  Find those who have gone through it, or who are going through it.  They will listen.  They will tolerate your rehashing of the same sticky point over and over, and help you move past it.  They will offer invaluable insights.  They will be patient.  They will not judge.  They will care.  Have more than one.

Attending support groups, like the ones offered through Beyond Affairs Network (BAN) are a great resource to find local people who are willing to meet and share their stories.  The support feels great.  You aren’t alone, and there are those living within your city going through the same stuff who want to hear you.

Attending seminars and talks, reading books about infidelity, or seeing a therapist TRAINED IN AFFAIR RECOVERY are crucial too.   I mention the latter in capital letters because a therapist isn’t enough.  You don’t want someone who just sits and nods their heads. You want someone who understands the devastation after an affair, and how to navigate your feelings with you.  The same goes for marital therapists….they need to be AFFAIR RECOVERY TRAINED.  Otherwise, you are getting marital therapy, and that isn’t what you need right now….right now you need crisis management around an affair. The marital work comes later.

No one can understand your pain who hasn’t been there.  Many times, often our spouses – the ones closest to us – don’t even understand it, so how can we expect a friend to?

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 10.10.22 AM

 

 

Finding “Like” others is helpful….I’d be so bold as to say it is crucial.  Surviving an affair is hard.  It is even harder alone.  Please reach out.

Join me in tonight’s teleseminar!


If you have been betrayed and want to join a teleseminar with Anne Bercht, I will be on the call tonight!

Join us 🙂

Date: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Time: 6 pm Pacific / 9 pm Eastern
Topic: For Betrayed Wives Only
Hosts: Brian & Anne Bercht
Dial: 1-626-677-3000
Access Code: 299301#

Date: Monday, February 11, 2013
Time: 6 pm Pacific / 9 pm Eastern
Hosts: Passionate Life Coaches Guy & Tammie
Topic: Guy & Tammie share their personal story of healing, and
what they did right to make it happen, so you can make it happen
too! There will be opportunity to ask questions.
Dial: 1-626-677-3000
Access Code: 759632#

Remaining true to myself and my journey


Screen Shot 2013-02-04 at 3.49.36 PM

 

This weekend, I had the opportunity to be exposed to an individual who really pushed my buttons.  He had requested to be a part of the support group that I head up in my city.  It is for betrayed spouses only, and our only pre-requisite to join is that you are a betrayed spouse seeking support who has never, in turn, betrayed someone else. I will call this member, “memberX”

We meet in the same place every month, and we take turns sharing an issue which is coming to a head for us at that moment, that we need support on, or share something that has helped us in the hopes that it helps someone else. Over the months since I started the group, we have developed quite a strong and supportive network, and we look forward to our monthly meetings.

As we sat together this week, we had a couple of new faces.  As is usually the case, I take some time before the meeting to talk quietly with the new members to reassure them that there is no need for them to feel pressured to speak, and that they can share the details of their story at their own pace, if at all.  I hadn’t shared any of my story, or the details that my husband and I had fully restored our marriage.  I simply started the meeting, and allowed it to take its course.  Within a little while, as a member was sharing something about her pain and grief and the process she had undertaken and some choices she had made, he piped up and mentioned how he had done things totally differently, and how he saw no value in how she had handled it.  It was in respect to telling friends about your spouse’s affair.  This woman had opted to not share the details of her husband’s affair with anyone.  She felt shame and embarrassment, and didn’t want to burden others with her pain.  Instead, she was suffering silently.  I see value in sharing the details with friends, but being very selective in WHO you tell, as I had told some now who I wish did not know.  I feel regret. The support I got wasn’t worth the regret I now feel.  I chimed in that she need not suffer alone, and that she may want to tell one close person who she feels would be able to help her.  The other members piped in and suggested she might have family, friends, or people overseas that would allow her to share her feelings, but not burden them with the immediate compassionate response one would feel compelled to give when sitting face to face.  MemberX interrupted with the comment that he couldn’t understand why she hadn’t told anyone, after all, he had told EVERYONE. Completely discounting her feelings and showing no compassion for her process, he undermined her completely, offering instead his advice based on what he himself had chosen.  The ‘rulebook and healing wisdom’, as compiled by memberX.

Later in the meeting, I was asked how a wayward spouse can ever be certain that they won’t betray their spouse again.  My comment was a fairly straightforward one. ” If a wayward spouse has done the internal work on themselves and thoroughly made an effort to understand HOW and WHY their affair happened, to see what decisions led them to the path that they found themselves on, then when in the future, they come to that same fork in the road, it will arise in them a feeling of discomfort and familiarity.  They will know that they are sitting at a fork in the road, and be able to make decisions backed by a knowledge of where they are at, and why they don’t want to go that way.  The first time they were on that path, they were blind, led only by unconscious feelings.  Bringing those to consciousness and having a desire to understand is what will prevent them from going down that same road”.  “Bullshit”, memberX yelled from across the table.  With suggestions that he and I might have to “agree to disagree”, he told the members of the group that all wayward spouses will reoffend, that it will only be easier the second time.  The horror and pain in the eyes of those at the table who had been working to reconstruct their trust was palpable, and the discomfort around the room was thick.  “So you think that each of our spouses will do this again?” I asked.  “Absolutely” he replied.  I found it almost comical that someone who showed absolutely no insight into affair recovery, and who had done very little self-work or marital work, and wasn’t given a chance to heal his marriage, could do so with such certainty and faith in their position. I think opinions are great, and I welcome debate when it is done with intelligence and knowledge, but this was simply blind opinion, fed only by his own jaded and bitter perspective, and I felt sorry for those around the room that were hurt.

Later into the meeting, as we sat and talked about ways to maintain and restore trust, I talked about the ways in which partners could openly and together reinforce the boundaries of their relationship by constantly patrolling the integrity of their marital fortress, and patching any holes in its foundation.  Sometimes one partner can see what another can’t, and just like the umpire in a baseball game giving the pitcher direction about which way to throw to avert the other team, a spouse can offer insight and vision to his spouse about threats to their marriage that the other partner is blind to.  I told a story about another couple who have it as an unspoken rule that if one partner suspects someone else is interested in their spouse, they tell the other, and no-questions-asked, the exposure to that individual is limited.  They, as they say, “have each other’s backs”.   MemberX laughed loudly, tossing his head back with a non-chalance.  Once again, my story and perspective was called out as “bullshit”, and we were going to have to agree to disagree.  According to memberX, his wife was a grown woman who made her bed, made her decisions and should have known better.  While I agree wholeheartedly with that, I also know that there are a myriad of other factors, and that it isn’t as simple as that.  He commented that if an individual needs their spouse to externally govern their behaviour because they don’t have the internal fortitude to govern themselves, than the fault lies with the one who can’t be governed.  He also went on to say that he himself would never find himself in that situation, would never hurt and betray his spouse, and wouldn’t need someone else to be his eyes and ears.  I think that is wonderful, if he believes that, but I also know that no person and no marriage is immune.  I also know that to think that one is completely impermeable to an affair, that it is the biggest vulnerability that he can have, and is what makes him the most vulnerable of all to it.  His comment that he could have a woman naked in his lap and not be tempted simply showed the simplicity of his thoughts on the matter.  It isn’t about sex, it isn’t about being tempted.  It is very black and white thinking to think that every affair is borne from someone being tempted and then succumbing to the temptation and making a choice to have an affair. Yes, some affairs are pre-planned.  I would wager a bet that this is the minority of them though.  Most affairs aren’t intentional, and until you take the time to actually read up on, and understand the anatomy of an affair, and how they happen to otherwise GOOD PEOPLE, you will simply just go on being bitter.

I think the thing that perturbed me most about the exposure to this person was that his comments were made in an attempt to invalidate my experience. What I felt important were scoffed at.  What I felt had helped me (and countless others) to heal and find peace, was laughed at, and given no credibility, no weight, no acknowledgement.  I have just fought the war of my life for the one that I love, and I have been through hell and back a few times.  I’ve been bitter.  I’ve been jaded.  I’ve wanted to kill myself. I’ve wanted to not wake up.  I’ve gotten up, tried again, fallen down, and kept rising.  I’ve found resources to help me understand what has happened to me.  I have attended seminars and teachings about how to heal.  I have listened to countless stories from betrayed spouses, wayward spouses and couples trying to heal to see the pattern we all share, what works, and what doesn’t.  I’ve used this information to forge tools to help in my healing.  Not only did they help us to survive, they helped us to thrive.  When you have been through the devastation of an affair, and have put in the work to REBUILD your marriage, which means dropping the bitterness, dropping the sense of entitlement to your pain in order to hear out your spouse, dropping the feeling of superiority in order to get a true and honest appreciation of the COMPLETE picture, not just your side of it, and taking the time to LEARN things you perhaps DIDN’T KNOW, you learn to appreciate the tools you used to rebuild.   They have deep meaning for me, those tools., and I will be damned if someone is going to come in and ridicule them. These beliefs and tools continue to help me along this path, and have also helped countless others who forged the same tools.  Some things just WORK.  But to sit in a room and listen to a person discredit what I have found to work, to undermine the power in the techniques that I *KNOW* work, and to undermine my healing by telling me that I am full of shit, well that really impacted me.

You see, memberX, I don’t need people to agree with me or my methods, or my perspective.  All I ask for is to show COMPASSION for another person’s journey and what they have found has eased their pain.  Agree with it or don’t, it isn’t your place to ridicule it.  I won’t ridicule how you go about your healing and I certainly won’t tell you that you are full of shit because you choose to see those who cheat as eternally flawed and not worth being redeemed, even though I do disagree.  And when I do disagree with you, I will keep it to myself and simply allow you your time to speak because I am there to support you, in whatever way YOU need that to look like.  If that means stomping my feet and standing beside you while you scream out that the world isn’t fair, and that cheaters suck ass, then I will do that.  What I won’t do is ridicule you when I don’t agree.  Instead, I will simply remain quiet and give you the chance to process your feelings.  I simply ask you to do the same for me, and for all of us around that table because it is, after all, a support group.

And with that, I will say that I remain true to my feelings, and my process.  I have done amazing work and am proud of what we have accomplished.  I am not a naturally forgiving person, so to have the biggest hurt possible thrown at me, and to come out the other side able to forgive…I think I will pat myself on the back thank you very much, and I don’t need or ask for anyone’s agreement or recognition.  I was given the choice to be bitter or be better, and I choose to be better.  Choose whatever path makes you happy, and brings you peace and comfort.

At the end of the meeting, as we were saying goodbye, he smirked and said ” I hope I wasn’t too hard on you”, to which I replied “absolutely not, because I will always be tougher”.  He scoffed as I turned to leave.  After going through what I have, I firmly believe that I am tough.  I won’t cower to anyone, and if you choose to ridicule my process, and undermine what has been truly inspiring and helpful to me, you WILL see a strength you don’t expect.  Trust me, I didn’t know it was in there either, until I had to rely on it to survive.

 

Happy Birthday to my husband’s mistress


Yes, today is the birthday of my husband’s mistress.  “Why on earth”, you ask, “would you remember THAT??”

First and foremost, I don’t try to.  I have a tendency to remember dates and numbers.  Call it a curse.

But, before you get all annoyed at the fact that this date is emblazoned into my memory, it does bring about a funny story, so I will tell it.

I became aware of her birthday, likely because my husband was employing her at the time, and likely asked my opinion on what to buy her as a gift.  Or perhaps she had asked for the day off, and I became aware of it that way.  Whatever the reason, I can no longer remember the circumstances around HOW I became aware of her birthday, I just know that it is February 1, 1976.  Today she turns a ripe old 37.

A few months after D-day, probably 3-4 months, my husband drove me to the local market so I could pick up some items for dinner. With the kids in the car, I went into the store alone, leaving him to entertain the little ones.  I figured it was easier to get in and get what I needed unencumbered, without children in tow.  I stood at the checkout, my husband’s wallet in hand. I hadn’t brought my purse for whatever reason, so I was using his credit card.  It wasn’t the first time we’d done that, and I was well aware of his PIN.  I entered the PIN when I was instructed, and it told me the PIN was incorrect. “How could that be?”, I thought to myself.  I tried again, this time being very careful, as I assumed I had pressed an incorrect key.  Failing again, and the clerk staring at me like I had two heads, I quickly called my husband on his cell while he sat in the car.  “What is the PIN number on your credit card?”, I asked.  And firstly, I should mention, that his PIN number has always been known to me, and is the same as many of his passwords, so it was quite shocking to think that it had even been changed. “2176” he said.  “OK thanks”, I said quickly and hung up, so that I could be rung through and get out.  As I am waiting for the transaction to approve, I am thinking to myself “2176….what does that even represent?  Why would he select that set of numbers.  It isn’t our ages, it isn’t a child’s birthday….oh my GOD it is HERS!!” and I freaked out.  2-1-76….February 1 1976….her birthday.  Had he really changed his PIN number to her birth date?  Why would he go to such effort to change a PIN on an existing card if not to give himself a little reminder of her during the day when he would have to key it in.  Sickened and disgusted would be an understatement.  It was before I had started this blog, and that would mean that we were 3-5 months out – nowhere near healed but on the right path.  To say that I was re-triggered was an understatement.

I wanted to raise it, but I was afraid.  I wanted to confront him, but I felt stupid.  Why did I feel afraid and stupid?   I didn’t want to sit there across from him and have to watch him tell me that he had changed it on purpose, that the most memorable date that he could think of to program his PIN was her birthday…not mine.

I stuffed it down for as long as I could but as we drove home, I asked: “Why did you change your PIN?”.  He explained that he hadn’t changed the pin. The bank had issued him a new card, and that was the default pin he was given.  He simply hadn’t changed it.  I didn’t buy it for a second.  Me, the betrayed spouse, on hyperalert wasn’t having the woool pulled over my eyes again.  “Bullshit”.  I called him out on it because there was just no way.  We talked once the kids were no longer in the car, safely out of earshot.  He simply couldn’t understand why I was so upset about a new PIN.  He chalked it up to my pain…I am sure I was doing a lot of things out of character at the time, but he really wanted to know why this was such an issue.  I drew it out for him clearly:  2-1-76…..February 1, 1976 – “HER BIRTHDAY!!??!?!?!!”, and my husband’s face went quickly from a look of confusion, to a look of shock, to a look of confusion….he was dumbfounded.  He went rifling through some bank envelopes to show me the one where they created his default PIN….but alas he had thrown it out.  He wanted me to see he wasn’t lying.  He wanted to prove it to me, but couldn’t – the evidence was gone.  The look on his face, however, was enough.  He was as shocked as I was.  In fact, he didn’t even remember that her birthday was February 1st…only *I* had remembered that, and I remembered it because it had recently been included in the old emails he had given me access to.  He hadn’t changed the PIN, and he hadn’t selected the numbers.  It was sheer coincidence, but it was far from funny.

Now, of course, the nay-sayers who sometimes pop up on this blog in comments will say that he was lying.  That is OK.  You can think anything you like.   What matters is what I saw, and what we did with that information.  My husband was remorseful that such a random event had triggered me, and he understood the reason.  He promptly went to the bank and changed it.

This morning, as I drove to work, I was reminded of the date, and because I don’t forget details like these, I remembered it was her birthday.  For some reason, dates and numbers stick in my head.  I can tell you the birthdate of every past boyfriend, the date we got together, the date we broke up….I can’t NOT remember it, as much as I try. I think that having a negative association to a date just makes it stick around, and not wanting to have a negative association to her birthday, I offered her this birthday wish as I drove:

“I sincerely wish _______ a very happy birthday today.  I hope her day is filled with happiness and love, and that those who choose to celebrate with her remind her that she is loved, and that she has every reason to focus on the good things in her life.  I hope that she has a good day with her daughter, and that being surrounded by those who care about her raises her self esteem, fulfills her, and lets her know that she is loved, today and always”.

I smiled as a drove after that, partly because I had buried the negative association but mostly because I knew she would never do the same for me, and let’s face it, I enjoy being the bigger person 😉

**If this posting date confused you, yes I did back-date the post.  I started writing it on her birthday, and stopped writing halfway through as family matters took precedence, so I finished and posted it today**

%d bloggers like this: