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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?

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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.

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Comments

  1. Very true. I am convinced the people around my wife at the moment are people who are simply bad mouthing me and that is not helping her to heal at all, only making her more angry.

    • It’s a shame if her friends are running you down. That’s not helpful. Fortunately my friends who i have confided in are friends of both of us. They are as confused and upset at my husbands infidelity as I am. They have been tripping over themselves to help in some cases. If your wife’s friends are seeing only her pain then I can see why this might be happening. Our mutual friends are listening to both of us so they are seeing the full picture. They can see the pain my husband is experiencing too and i think that’s really important for our future. It would be easy for me to demonise my husband (and I have sometimes through anger) but as Rescuingmymarriage says it’s feels good in the moment but in the long term it’s crap.

    • I think it is easier to support someone angrily when you are hurting FOR them. Your wife needs to reiterate to her friends what their support needs to look like and husband-bashing isn’t what she is seeking. If they know that, they may refrain, but Bubsy is right that without your side, it is easy to become skewed in one’s support, and it is easier to slam someone than to seek to understand them.

  2. Such a great point. And you could be surprised who ends up supporting you…I am surprised at the people who let me give them hope for their marriage.

    • Its funny, we have a couple who are becoming rather close friends. Our kids go to school together and the mom and I have been friends for three years through the school. They live nearby. Their son is best friends with my son, so they play a lot. My husband and the dad are becoming quite close too and have a lot in common. I’ve wondered what it would be like to tell them, only because it feels deceptive to keep it from them, but at the same time, I don’t feel I need the support and don’t want to risk the relationship if it were to make them uncomfortable.

      • I’ve heard many people say, “you can’t un-tell them”…so until you are SURE…I would keep it a secret. I have three friends who know but they were all safe people to tell because they had already been through it. People who haven’t experienced infidelity are usually understandably judgmental.

      • Judgmental. Absolutely. I hope I was never that way. In fact, I know that I was…and feel badly. I judged a friend who confessed an affair after it was over. I judged her. Not for the affair, mind you, but for how she handled the affair aftermath. She never told get husband, she just left him. She went into the house to reclaim her “half” of the stuff and I believed she lost her rights to the little things when she walked out. She bounced her kids back and forth to satisfy her need to see them and I judged her for that, feeling that she made the choice to leave, and not seeing your kids is a consequence of that. I was judgmental not for the affair as much for the behaviors that followed and we aren’t friends anymore. Sadly my d-day happened 6 months later and both of our lives were turned upside down. We could have used the support.

      • I got goosebumps from head to toe reading this. I KNOW. I soooo know. One month before I started my affair, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about how easily it happens, how we have to be on our guard, and I was pretty certain there was NO WAY I was ever going to be like that. ONE FLIPPING MONTH.

        Sometimes I think that the Wayward Spouse needs just as much support as the Betrayed Spouse. But for totally other reasons. It seems selfish to say that, but obviously our hearts are broken or else we wouldn’t have unintentionally yet deliberately made a BIG MESS.

  3. healing through knitting says:

    Oh my gosh! I wish I would have found all of these resources right when the discovery happened. I have become much more selective of who I talk to about what I am going through. We have decided to work things out and I am LOVING the friends who are standing behind us. It is amazing to see those who truly are your friends….

  4. Still Loving Him says:

    I broke up with my best friend of 10 years because she was so negative about my husband. She screamed and yelled at me to leave him. I found out a few months after I dumped her that she’d had a very in appropriate conversation with him on a car ride and made it apparent to him that sex between them was an option. I distanced myself from some other friends as well. I’ve found that if they’ve not experienced the pain of infidelity they can’t begin to understand the depths of despair it brings. I’ve had a very hard time making new friends in my area and there are no infidelity support groups to speak of around here. Maybe I’ll start one!

  5. Collette O'Meara-Roberts says:

    Hello, I stumbled across your blog about a month ago whilst doing a google search. I would like to say what an inspiration you have been to me and a MASSIVE support. I have finally read all your blogs and you are a true fighter! How you have managed to get through what you’ve encountered over the last 2 1/2yrs and come out intact and sane at the end I am in ore of. I am nearly 5 months to the day, since discovery of my husband’s affair and still a complete mess. I can’t see the light at the end of this tunnel of doom, the only thing keeping me going is the support I have from my husband (said through gritted teeth) and my children (we have 4 and my husband’s 2 boys, 6 in total). I think some of the hardest parts for me was, my eldest daughter (14yrs) discovered the affair and told my mother, who then told me (she took a photo of some messages on facebook because she thought something wasn’t right and showed them to my mum), the fact that he (like your husband) was also utterly destroyed at what he’d done (he left his job and found a new one within 2 weeks of the discovery) but still can’t give me reasons why and finally the fact that my mother has not spoken to me or given me any support what so ever in the last 5 months because she feels I shouldn’t try and work on my marriage (always wanted to get out of her own but never had the balls to do it). My story is a lot more complex than that but I won’t bore you with the details! So I have come to the point where I’m trying to get help. I have never been in so much pain in all my life, it is indescribable. I am now a borderline alcoholic and feel I am slowly going mental. How I get my 4 children out of bed and to school every morning I really don’t know. I have looked into some therapy (it’s not as easily available in the UK as it is in the US and costs a fortune, money we don’t have). I have also been emotionally invalidated my whole life and really struggle to ask for help. Having said that, reading your story has inspired me to get it and try, really try and sort myself out. Thank you xx

  6. phoenixrisingk says:

    This is a huge issue for me. I’ve isolated myself in so many ways, and I feel like the only people I can talk about the A to are my therapist (I pay her, after all), my husband and online people. Some of the people I thought were true friends got tired of hearing about it or would try to “solve” it instead of just listening, which is what I needed. I had stopped interacting with so many people even before D-day due to my depressive episode just due to feeling that I had nothing to contribute. Right now, I’m feeling almost as bad as I did right around D-day. I feel like I’m stuck in a job and a marriage that are not what I expected, but I’m stuck for a variety of reasons. I wish there was a BAN group in my town.

  7. I didn’t have the option of privacy when my husband’s affair came out. He was a pastor and went before our whole church and confessed. When I left to stay with a friend and family for three weeks I would say 85 percent of the church called, texted and emailed. When i came home it dropped to about 5% . I gained two close friends and lost my closest ones. The people he served were totally devastated and I understand their pain but the people we as a couple were close to just wrote us off. A few people contacted him but he was so filled with shame he couldn’t’ respond. There are a few others that contact us occasionally but for the most part I felt like we’ve have to go through this alone. We moved and it’s been so easy to isolate as we are in the country. I tried never to bash my husband. I made the choice to forgive him and although we still have struggles I believe deep down there is a good man in him who just never dealt with his own issues cause he was so busy dealing with everyone else’s. There is a dear woman on the church board who kept in contact with me in the beginning but I had to deal with her anger and pain too. it was soooo difficult and I have found myself not initiating any more contact with her. People treat me kindly when they see me but once out of sight I’ve been out of mind. When you have served people for so long in a ministry capacity it’s hard to reach out because you feel shame and guilt even though you’ve done nothing wrong. I am a constant reminder of the pain he caused. You don’t reach out because you don’t know who’s going to receive you or reject you. The one friend that I have now showed up on my doorstep the day after I got home cause she wanted to see me and she has truly stuck by me and walked through this with me. She calls me once a week. Ironically my husbands AP sponsor is also a good friend but our conversations are limited because she cannot talk about her or her recovery (She’s a sex addict)

    I tried to get involved in BAN group but there was none in my area. I may start one here in the future once I get settled and find a place that would let me hold meetings. We do have a great counselor and I’ve read some awesome books, not all affair related that have helped me on my journey. I love finding people who are making their marriages work and who have forgiven their husbands. That encourages me. Blessings as you continue in your journey!!!

  8. My discovery and aftermath of my fiance’ affair has been the loneliest experience of my life. My mental status went to a full bottom-out. I wanted to talk to my closest friends, but, they are friends with my fiance’ and I didn’t want them to be included. I had nobody to talk to. He says he is there for me, but I could not depend on his answers. They were vague – filled with “I don’t knows”. The OW had others to talk to – their mutual old high school friends. He was even contacted by some of them after D-Day (OW let the cat out of the bag). Me? No one.

    It’s somewhat better now. He’s been answering my questions about the affair and why. He still doesn’t understand why I need this information. I don’t need the sordid details (not interested). Just, “why” so we can avoid this again.

    • The “why” is always the biggest question and makes us feel most safe and secure and protected from future betrayal. The truth is, though, that its always the last to come. It’s often the most elusive as well as most unfaithful spouses don’t know why. It takes a lot of self work and therapy to uncover the why. Most will say “but I wasn’t unhappy!” and be as confused as we are. Most will have either had some stressor like a new job, new responsibility, death of a parent, major move, new baby, or other big stress that overwhelmed. Men don’t ask for help, they just “buck up” and tough it out. They don’t see themselves slipping and they don’t often seek out an affair. All they know is that it either brings them escape from their lives (not you, but what is stressful), or satisfies a low self esteem and ego that needs stroking. The ow will offer this because she too needs the stroking and is a hurting low self esteem case. She has all that “new relationship” effort we all used to give when it was new. Unfaithful spouses get drunk on the attention and seek it out at all costs. Most of the time they aren’t doing it to hurt you…they are doing it to benefit themselves in a deep way, hoping you won’t find out and be hurt. By the time they are too wrapped up and regretting it, and coming to their senses, it’s gone too far. They now have to hide it and hope it goes away. Some will hope to get caught because they need help ending it. Others will continue thinking they can manage it on their own and will taper it off. Usually the ow will start exerting pressure for a relationship and will threaten to tell. She has become emotionally attached. The only thing you can hope for is someone who shows deep remorse. Not remorse for getting caught, but remorse for causing you harm, and will do whatever it takes to make it right at the sacrifice of themselves. Where they were once willing to do anything to satisfy their needs at your expense, they now need to flip that and do anything they can to heal you, even at their personal expense. I remember my husband used to say that he wanted me whole again, and would help me get there, even if in the end I left him, because he didn’t want to have ruined me. He wanted to repair me and then give me the choice as a whole and healed person whether to stay. I did.

  9. I remember reading this last Febuary and thinking..”she’s gets it…she understands” I still after rereading this today feel the same way. It’s like belonging to a awful club but one that you are grateful has other members so you aren’t sitting there alone. You inspire me to heal. I gave you a shout out on my blog…Happiness used to live here..surviving an affair. I hope you get to read it “Shot through the heart”…thanks for saving me

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