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Toronto Affair Recovery Seminar


I am often asked “if you could pick one thing that propelled you forward in your healing, what would that one thing be?” Hands down, it was attending the “healing from affairs” weekend with Anne and Brian Bercht.

Anne and Brian are affair recovery specialists. They have helped hundreds and hundreds of couples heal their marriages. They have also helped hundreds and hundreds more who were interested in reconciling come to terms with the affair and forgive, allowing the betrayed spouse to no longer be at the mercy of the affair.

I have been asked by Anne and Brian Bercht to put out feelers to see if there are any readers near Toronto, Canada who would be interested in one of their seminars in April 2014?

In order to commit to offering it, they would require at least ten participants. In order to show your commitment only a $500 deposit would be required instead of full payment.

If you want to find out more about what they do, visit http://www.beyondaffairs.com
and check out “seminars”. It truly is life-changing and I can’t recommend their programs enough.

You need to know that these seminars rarely if ever come to that area, and rarely to Canada. If you live there, or can get there, take advantage of this opportunity. It won’t happen again for many years. Find change now.

Comment below if you would be interested in placing a deposit towards an April 2014 date so that they can make this happen for you!

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Revenge affairs


Anyone whose world has been rocked by the devastation of an affair will understand the desire for a revenge affair.

Some may admit to having had the thought “if he had an affair, then I should have an affair also and show him how it feels” or “here I have been a faithful spouse, and he got to feel that spark with someone new. I wish I could have those feelings sparked in me again by new partner”.

Whatever your circumstance, the desire for a revenge affair is common. More more often, for recovery experts are finding that among the couples they are looking to heal, more and more of them have had affairs on both sides.

I wanted to share an article by Anne Bercht, on the topic of revenge affairs. This topic came up recently in one of my support groups, and I thought it was relevant to share in case others are having these feelings. revenge affairs

http://www.beyondaffairs.com/weekly_surviving_affairs_newsletters.htm

“I never stopped loving you”


This post comes on the heels of an earlier post, where I discussed how a husband can have an affair, and claim to still love his spouse.  It’s crazy making, right?

As I mentioned in the above-linked post, this was something my husband used to say to me all the time when I was hurting.  He knew I felt unloved in his actions, so he reassured me that he had never stopped loving me during his affair.  It made me sick to my stomach, and almost hurt more.  Was this his twisted idea of what LOVE is?  Is showing love to me going out and creating false email addresses designed to sneak around behind my back?  That isn’t love to me.  Is showing me love going out and finding pleasure in the arms of another woman?  That isn’t love to me.  Is showing ME love, buying a hotel room in order to penetrate another woman, while I struggle at home to get the kids home from piano lessons, get dinner made, homework checked and kids washed and ready for bed?  That isn’t love to me.  But for him, it meant something different.  It meant that he had merely compartmentalized her, and kept her and their relationship in a separate box from the one in which the rest of his life resided.  He was able to open that box and visit it, and then when he was done, he could close the lid, and open his usual box.  They were never open at the same time, so when he was in one box, the other was out of mind.  Although, I would wager a guess that while I may not have come to mind while he was with her, she certainly came to mind when he was with me, and that is because she posed  continuous threat on our relationship, something I could never have done to them, as I was in the dark, kept in a box, with the lid on tight.

Nothing would infuriate me more than my husband saying the words “But I never stopped loving you”.  It was like a kick to the midsection.  Left me breathless and confused.

One day, as we drove back from therapy, on the way to picking up our children, he said it again.  I screamed at him in the car, trying to help him understand that those words are empty and hurtful, not helpful as he had hoped they would be.  He wanted me to say “Oh!  I understand you did this, but you still LOVED me throughout, so I should actually be happier about this than I am!”  That wasn’t my reaction.

At the end of my rope, as we drove, I tried to help him see it from my perspective.  I had to find a way for him to see my position on this.  Seeing my position meant standing in my shoes, and since I hadn’t cheated on him, I had to take him on a mental journey through part of my experience.

Now, he was driving at the time, otherwise I would have asked him to close his eyes.  Instead, I asked him to vividly picture the words I was going to convey. It needs to be said that in my line of work, I work alone.  I do not have employees or colleagues, and I work for myself.  And so I began:

“There is a man I work with.  He is tall, muscular, athletic and fit.  He makes me laugh, and has a great sense of humour.  He and I have been working together for about 6 months, just he and I, in my small office space.  He and I, spending so much time together lately, have been sharing more and more details of our lives with one another.  I have learned about his family.  I have learned about his likes and dislikes, and he has learned about mine.   Our friendship has grown stronger over the past few months, and we have taken to grabbing lunch together on most days, instead of splitting up and resuming work at the end of our lunch.  He has opened up to me a great deal, and shared some very personal details of his life.  I too have shared details about mine.  I think he appreciates the reciprocation, and it helps us as colleagues to open up to one another, as it makes us better work partners, not just strangers who have to be there, but want to.  A few weeks ago, while we were having lunch, his hand brushed mine, and I didn’t pull it away.  He turned to me, to gauge my response, and we looked at each other and knew.  The attraction that had been building between us over the past months was unavoidable.  As he looked into my eyes, we both felt it.  Moments later, I felt our lips touch, and we were kissing.  It was the passionate first kiss that everyone remembers.  My head was spinning with the excitement, as it had been years since I’d had that experience…” I looked over at my husband as he drove, and his brow was furrowed in either intense concentration on the words, or he was angry at being put through the exercise, or the content was bothersome.  I couldn’t tell, so I continued.  “Before long, I found myself wishing we were somewhere more private, where I could fully and completely express myself and my affection for him.  I asked him if he wanted to get a hotel, and he agreed.  We agreed to meet there, and take separate cars so that we were less obvious, in case we ran into someone we knew, and I needed to be available at 3:30 to pick up the kids from school.  I wouldn’t have had time to return him to his car back at work, and vice versa.  I fantasized throughout the entire drive about what was about to happen.  Would he find me attractive naked?  What did he look like naked?  Is he a good lover?  ‘Of course, he must be’, I thought, considering his sexual energy.  The traffic could not move fast enough to satisfy my hunger, and soon I had parked the car, and was running into the lobby.  He was already at the desk, making the arrangements.  He had obviously driven faster than me.  He must have been as excited as I was.  We hurried through the check-in process, giving fake names, and a credit card number.  As soon as the plastic key card entered his hand, his eyes met mine and he smiled.  This was really going to happen.  We rushed for the first available elevator. Truthfully, I would have taken the stairs to the 21st floor, it didn’t matter, but thankfully, it only took seconds for the elevator car to open.  Speed walking through the hallway, he held my hand tightly.  His hand was sweating, and I could feel his rushing pulse.  It matched mine.  We fumbled clumsily with the key card in the lock, and finally the door opened.  We crossed the threshold and the door slammed shut behind us.  The next moments are a blur as we peeled off one another’s clothes with an excitement that I had long since forgotten.  Revealing his body to me, and mine to him, we became ever more excited, and he kissed me.  Before I knew it, we were on the bed, his gentle caresses on my neck.  What followed was the most amazing and extraordinary sexual experience I’d ever had…”  I looked over at my husband driving, and his knuckles were white on the steering wheel, his jaw clenched, and I continued. “He gave me the most intense and body-consuming orgasms I’d ever had, over and over again, until we both fell onto the bed together, in a breathless and sweaty pile, our hearts racing, and our bodies satisfied.”

“So, tell me”, I asked of my husband while he drove, “where exactly in that situation was I loving you?”.  My husband’s eyes filled with tears, and he finally understood.  “I wasn’t”, was his reply.  “I was never loving you or showing you love in those moments, if I was doing something so selfish with someone else like that.  I wasn’t loving you at all”.

My husband got it.  He never again told me “I never stopped loving you”, because he realized that while he may have never stopped FEELING love for me, for those moments that he was deceiving me, he wasn’t LIVING his love for me.  For the first time in our recovery, my husband stood in my place, and felt the horror of what I was feeling.  Knowing that the pain and anguish he was feeling as a result of a made-up imaginary exercise had caused him such hurt, he knew that mine must be so much greater, and at that moment, he felt what it felt like to stand in my shoes, and the ugly view I had from where I stood.  From that moment, he invested himself in SHOWING me he loved me, and it has made all the difference.

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I was not built to break


The title of this post sums up my recent feelings perfectly.

I am a fighter and a survivor.  I am not taken down easily, and I will not fall and crumble.  I will give every ounce that I have to protect what is dear from me, and will be damned if someone insignificant is going to take away my Joy.

I had the opportunity to attend the “Take your life back” seminar this past weekend with Anne and Brian Bercht.  I’ve referenced them in other posts, but for those who don’t know, Anne is the author of “My husbands affair became the best thing that ever happened to me”.  Since her husband’s affair 12 years ago, Anne has written her book, an auto-biographical account of her journey through healing from the pain of her husband’s affair.  She also started offering seminars to couples and individuals, certifying her skills and abilities through various programs, courses and certificate programs herself and her husband take.  Together, they formed “Passionate Life Seminars”, and offer three different and distinct weekend workshops aimed at helping those whose lives have been touched by infidelity.

This past weekend wasn’t as much about the affair, as it was about me.  It was a weekend designed for those who feel stuck in their healing, and for those who are healing alone to find ways to heal themselves so that they can move on.  It was about finding and tapping into your own unique gifts and using those gifts to break through the pain of what has happened, and start to put it behind, in the past, where it belongs.

I think it is easy to carry the baggage of an event like this forward.  It can become so defining of who we think we are.  It touches us to the core, and fractures the very things that we believe to be true about our selves, our marriage, and the world around us.  Our sense of justice is forever changed. Our feelings of deservedness and worth are questioned. We move forward with the baggage of being a betrayed spouse.  We carry that new identity around, and it colours everything we see from the moment of discovery onward.  It’s as if we put on betrayed-spouse glasses, and see the world through the hue and shade that they cast upon our eyes, allowing us to see the world slightly differently.  We carry these glasses, or the baggage of the affair around our necks, with us wherever we go.

Can you imagine spending a day with a heavy bag around your neck?  Each day that you wake up, you put it on.  You carry it around.  It needs to be pushed aside when it gets in the immediate way of a task you are undertaking.  It causes you to sometimes be a little off-balance, as you fumble to avoid its bothersome presence around your neck, whilst you reach for other things.  You bend forward, and the bag smacks against your knees.  You curl up to sleep, and you have to wrestle the bag out of the way, carefully tucking it into your abdomen to give your legs room to curl up.   When you turn quickly, the strap tangles slightly, putting pressure around your neck, and reminding you of its presence.  When you greet others for an embrace, you have to move the bag to the side, so that your bag doesn’t impact them, and for a moment, you each pretend that it really isn’t there.  But, it is there, isn’t it?   Moving it out of the way just temporarily shifts it, but you are nonetheless still aware that it exists, and you still perceive it.  It doesn’t leave.  This baggage that we carry from the affair is no different.  We push it aside when we need to, and hope others don’t notice it, but in the end, we feel it every day.  It gets in the way of us truly enjoying ourselves and the joys that our lives do have in them.  Instead of seeing the beauty and the blessings that surround us, we are forever reminded of the bag that hangs around our neck.  Sure, we may look beyond it to see the beauty of a particular moment, like our child’s graduation, or the wedding of a friend, or the birth of another child, but before we were able to look past it, we had to knowingly move it aside, and in that action of moving it, we were made aware of it.  See, it never really leaves us, until we choose to take it off entirely.

I invite you all to consider taking off your bag.  I did.

This weekend invited me to participate in a series of exercises designed to rid me of the baggage that hangs around my neck.

Having done extensive work with my husband on the trauma of his affair, the outstanding troubles I had concerned the OW and her forever presence on the outskirts of our life.  She lives in the shadows on the boundaries of our lives, and while she is not with us every day, we know that she is there, like the bag around our necks.  She was the missing piece I needed to let go of.  She was the thing that remained with me, day in and day out.  I found myself obsessing about how she would attack me next (when I say “me” here, I mean “we” because in truth, she is directed at my husband and his money, but WE both feel the attack), trying to read  her mind and understand her motives.  I would try and stay one step ahead so that perhaps I could anticipate her next move, and not be shaken off of my feet the way I have been when things come out of the blue, as they last did on Halloween day.  I am a planner.  I like to anticipate things.  For me, not being caught off guard is what helps me feel grounded when she comes around.  But, the consequence of all of this ‘preparedness’ is that I found myself worried, anxious, & obsessive.  I plotted schemes in my head about how I could harm her first and not get caught.  I thought of ways I could bring suffering to her life and not be implicated.  I dreamt up ideas, I considered and reconsidered the ideas from every angle, and every time I had the opportunity….I’d chicken out.  I found myself spending so much time in thought about this, that it took away from other things.  It took up so much space in my head that there simply wasn’t room for anything else.  She was taking up precious real estate, and essentially was taking more away from me.  I already feel robbed by this woman, so why am I allowing her to take up MORE time, MORE space, MORE THOUGHT??   It had to stop, and so I registered for the weekend at http://www.beyondaffairs.com .  During the weekend, I focused my energies on two things: 1. Increasing my self worth, my self confidence, my focus on ME.  2. Moving towards a place of compassion for the OW, towards forgiveness.

Now, some of you are reeling in your seats, wondering how on earth I could consider FORGIVING a woman who is so evil, who is so hell-bent on ruining my family.  Well, forgiveness is not condoning or supporting, remember.  Forgiveness is making the choice to no longer dwell and focus angrily on the actions of another.   It is not allowing her binges to throw me.  It  is trying to compassionately see her actions as pitiful reflections of where she sits, and contrast that with mine and see once and for all that I have won.  It isn’t being a doormat, and laying down.  Instead, it is standing up, and seeing more clearly the situation without being bogged down with anger.

In summary of this weekend and its’ realizations:

She is a child of God, and despite how dispicable and mean-spirited she is, and how horrid her actions are, she is a fallible human being who will walk her journey on this earth, and face the consequences of those actions.  It is not for me to judge her, or to condemn her, for that is not up to me.  I need to trust in a higher power that someone, at some time, higher than me, will have her in front of them and she will one day reap what she has sown.  It is not for me to punish her, or to cause her distress, for that will be taken care of by the universe.  All I can do is hope that she will turn her life around, that she will make good choices, and that she will save herself from damnation that will follow if she surely doesn’t.  I don’t need to be the one pointing the finger.  I am not so powerful as to be worthy of judging her.  I can not like what she does, but it doesn’t have to OWN me.  I can look at her compassionately, try my best to understand that she does what she does out of selfishness, and understand that each of us wishes the best for ourselves, and that I too have at some time or another put myself before others, wanting to personally prosper, knowing that others would not as a result.  The situations are, of course, very different, but I try and see her actions as a mother doing what she can for herself and her child, and a human being, being very fallible.  I can see her actions as horrid, but not feel that I need to be the one to exact the revenge, and simply trust that it will be taken care of for me, by someone or something more capable than me.  I can wish the best for her even though she intends the worst for me.  Why?  Because I don’t need her to do anything positive for me to know that I have something worthwhile in my life.  Regardless of what she says and does, it doesn’t change my feelings of being blessed with what I DO have, and she can’t take THAT away from me.  It is an internal feeling of peace and wisdom that is untouchable, and something she cannot have.  I feel sorry for her.  I feel pity.  And, while I may feel anger from time to time, I will try my best to remember that she simply needs compassion, and that she isn’t taking from me….she is just trying to do well for herself, and they can be mutually exclusive.

I am feeling very good these days.  I know I will have days when this perspective is hard to keep, and that these thoughts WILL be tested.  I will slip, I will sometimes fall, but I will remind myself of this place, and do what I can to get there.  I’ve taken off the bag.  I don’t want it back.

This weekend, I wrote down what I am holding onto….and on a little index card, I wrote the words ” I need to release her”, meaning that she takes up too much space.  I flipped the card over, and wrote the words “I RELEASE HER”.  Moments later, I stood and watched as that card curled at the edges, burned, and disappeared into ash blowing in the wind.  The wind had carried my grudge away.  It diminished and then floated away, no traces left.  It was very freeing.  I foresee myself having to repeat that from time to time, but I know it will always be worth it.

So, with that, I start a new chapter.  I no longer wish to vent about her on this blog.  I no longer wish to sully this place of healing with words of anger and resentment.  I want it to be a place of healing and comfort, and as much as reading about the trashy behaviours of another woman feels good to readers, it also just adds to the bag that hangs around YOUR necks, reminding you and triggering your own situations that keep you stuck in a place of pain.  I want to move forward, and I hope you will join me on this continued journey.

And with that, I leave you with my new battle cry.  It is a song I heard this past weekend, and when I heard it, I knew it fit me perfectly.  The words convey EXACTLY how I feel.

“…I was not built to break”

This weekend, Anne Bercht gave me a gift. She too is one who finds meaning in lyrics, as I do. Knowing all that I have faced, and survived, she gave me a song that she relates to my situation and wanted to convey. She wanted to remind me that despite all that I have faced, that I need to focus on what is GOOD now, not on what ONCE was bad. I am alive and well, and I can carry around the bad, and count up all the pain, or I can focus on the beauty of life that surrounds me, and that is what these lyrics mean, and why she chose that for me. Thank you Anne 🙂

Two teleseminars this week – one tonight


As always, I wanted to pass along the information about two upcoming teleseminars with Anne and Brian Bercht.

Here are the details:

How to heal your broken heart

TELESEMINAR #1
Phone: 1-626-677-3000
Access Code: 688685#
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 7 – YES TODAY!!!
Time: 6 PM Pacific / 9 PM Eastern
Hosts: Brian & Anne Bercht

TELESEMINAR #2
Phone: 1-626-677-3000
Access Code: 688685#
Date: Saturday, Nov. 10
Time: 10 AM Pacific / 1 PM Eastern
Hosts: Brian & Anne Bercht

Forgiveness


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Forgiveness…it’s the other almighty F-word. We are always taught as children to “kiss and make up”, to “share”, and to “forgive”. None of those are easy, especially in the face of a trauma inflicted upon you by the person you are supposed to forgive. It is often the last thing that we want to do, or even consider. I mean, really, why would we forgive someone who has done us wrong, and done so INTENTIONALLY…why?

Forgiveness feels like the end of a long road, the final stage in the healing process when we have been wronged. It is what we ultimately strive for, isn’t it? Those of us who choose to stay, and even for those of us who don’t – to be able to put the past where it belongs, and to make a willing and thoughtful CHOICE to forgive. But, what is forgiveness, really? I can tell you without a doubt what forgiveness is not:

Forgiveness is not forgetting, it is not undoing, condoning, justifying, rationalizing, and it is not allowing. It is to make the conscious choice to no longer allow the event to rule over you, or for you to hold it contemptuously over the head of s/he who has wronged you. It is to acknowledge that something horrible happened to you that was not your fault, but to consciously decide to no longer give it power over you, your life, your choices, or your happiness. It is to free the one who has wronged you from the ongoing torment of your vengeful thoughts, your desire to want to exact revenge upon them, or to wish them unhappiness. It is to choose to be better, not bitter, and to move forward with new strategies to protect yourself and your relationship going forward, without the past holding you both back.

Forgiveness is scary, and feels elusive in the beginning. I used to think “if I forgive my husband, am I sending him the message that what he did is OK by me?”, “Am I telling him that he can repeat the same behaviour again and all will be ok?”, “Is it showing weakness to allow him to have harmed in such a deep way, and to “let him off the hook?”. I no longer see forgiveness as a weakness, nor as letting him off the hook, because for me, forgiveness comes at a significant cost. I know that some will not agree with me, but for me, forgiveness requires that my husband acknowledges what he has done, and shows adequate sorrow for his actions. I cannot forgive a man who does not acknowledge his actions, nor a man who cannot apologize properly for those actions.

What is a proper apology?

An apology, in every day life, has three parts:

1. An acknowledgement that you are aware of the particular act that you have committed which has brought pain to another.
2. An ability to view empathically, the situation through their eyes, and to be able to understand the feelings that your actions likely brought about (i.e. I can imagine you felt hurt, ashamed, frustrated with me, unsupported….)
3. A desire to never again bring such harm to the individual, and a desire to put into place certain safeguards, or to perform certain actions which will prevent re-injury.

With affairs, there is simply more to it than that. I could not simply forgive my husband if he said to me: “I understand that my affair was wrong and hurt you. I can imagine my actions made you feel foolish, belittled, uncared for, undervalued and betrayed. I will never do that to you again”. That simply would not be enough. So, what DO we need exactly, as betrayed spouses? Well, I think we will all vary on what we need to feel healed and supported, but for me, I need to re-establish trust in him, and that is accomplished by him:

1. Attending marital therapy, not because I make him, but because he genuinely wants to improve our marriage
2. Allowing me to ask as many questions as needed, as often as I need to ask them, even if I have asked them dozens of times already
3. Answering those questions honestly and without reservation (except for my feelings, in which case gingerly stepping around areas of sensitivity is appreciated, while being honest in the process)
4. Taking an interest in discussing our marriage openly
5. Trying to see the affair through my eyes
6. Being able to vocalize and express how his actions made me feel
7. Learning to see that we are all vulnerable to an affair, and learning what makes HIM vulnerable to an affair.
8. Setting into place safeguards to protect himself in those areas in which he is vulnerable
9. Promising to talk to me openly in the future whenever a sticky situation arises so that we can work on it together
10.Showing true and honest remorse
11. Taking the lead in helping me heal by taking the initiative to ask me if I have questions or needs around the affair, before I have to ask
12. Reassuring me that he loves me often, and treating me with kid gloves when necessary

I am sure there are more, but for now that list feels right.

Forgiveness is something which takes time, and no one can expect to get there quickly. In fact, I would surmise that someone who is trying to forgive too soon is simply trying to “sweep it under the rug” and trying to make it “go away”. True forgiveness comes with putting in the work, and watching your partner do the same. It is a private journey, undertaken on your own, while simultaneously part of a team. It isn’t the team who will get you there, it is YOU, but the team’s support is vital along the way. One day, you can just wake up, and feel like you are ready, maybe not entirely ready, but closer than before. Remember though, that forgiveness is a choice, and isn’t something that falls out of the sky for you. You don’t wake up one morning and say “I have forgiven”. You wake up and decide to start trying to go through the motions of no longer holding contempt for the person, and every day becomes easier, and you become lighter.

For those who are early in the journey, and who may have just found out about your partner’s affair, I give to you this song. I am a big lyric-listener, always trying to see my life in the lyrics of a song, and finding myself identifying with song lyrics. These really need no explanation, so I’ve pasted the lyrics here, and the link to the video for those who just aren’t ready, and to you I say: “take your time”.

I always said that’d be it
That I wouldn’t stick around if it ever came to this
Here I am, so confused
How am I supposed to leave when I can’t even move?

In the time it would have took to say
“Honey I’m home, how was your day?”
You dropped the bomb right where we live
And just expect me to forgive

Well that’s a mighty big word for such a small man
And I’m not sure I can
‘Cause I don’t even know now who I am
It’s too soon for me to say forgive

I should ask but I won’t
Was it love or just her touch?
‘Cause I don’t think I wanna know
So get you some things and get out
Don’t call me for a day or two so I can sort this out
[From: http://www.elyrics.net/read/r/rebecca-lynn-howard-lyrics/forgive-lyrics.html ]

Well you might as well have ripped the life
Right out of me, right here tonight
And through the fallin’ tears you said
“Can you ever just forgive?”

Well that’s a mighty big word for such a small man
And I’m not sure I can
‘Cause I don’t even know now who I am
It’s too soon for me to say, forgive

You know what they say
Forgive and forget
Relive and regret

Well that’s a mighty big word for such a small man
And I’m not sure I can
‘Cause I don’t even know now who I am
It’s too soon for me to say forgive
Oh, it’s too soon for me to say forgive

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Words from a husband


I have asked my husband if he would kindly be a guest blogger on this blog. I think it’s important to see both sides of an affair, in order to truly wrap your head around it. With all of the insight that he’s gained, and all that we have learned together, I think it tubes us to share that on this blog. Therefore, I have asked him to spend some time writing some articles for me. Things like, how the affair started, and what was going through his mind. Explanations of how he was able to compartmentalize, to love me, but to have sex with another woman at the same time. How he felt about revealing the affair to me, where he was stuck, and the fears that he had that our marriage would not survive. Contrary to public opinion, spouses who betray their loved ones, also need to heal after an affair. The guilt, shame, the intense pain for the hurt that they’ve caused. It can sometimes take the cheating spouse longer to heal, and the betrayed spouse, believe it or not. I think his opinion, and his experiences, will be valuable. Stay tuned.

**updated may 24th to say that he is conceptualizing what he will write. There is a lot to say, and we are figuring out that more than one post will be necessary**

Finding my happy place


I love my husband.

There is no hesitation when I write that, or when I think about that.  I’ve loved him for almost 16 years, and a day hasn’t gone by that I’ve doubted that.  Despite the love that I have for him, he cheated on me with another woman for ten months.  Lacking something in his life that he couldn’t explain, he was inexplicably driven to seek out something destructive, and he found it. He tore me apart emotionally, broke my heart unconsolably, and almost shattered our beautiful family and our happy home.  Despite all of that, I love my husband completely.

For those who are reading this for the first time, or for those who have been recently affected by an affair, my words won’t make sense.  In fact, it would be easy to write them off as “just another woman with low self esteem who is ok with letting a man treat her like shit, and she will come back for more, and claim to love him because she doesn’t think enough of herself to leave”.  Easy to say, given the circumstances, but it would also be dead wrong.

We have done an enormous amount of work, he and I.  From the moment that the affair was revealed, my husband and I got to work, mobilized our best resources, and although drowning, fought to come up for air, convinced that we were going to come out of this hell hole alive.  We joined forces against the borderline personality disorder-afflicted other woman, sought out legal counsel, obtained advice from a marital therapist, attended weekly marital therapy every week for 18 months while I attended my own personal therapy every week.  We fought, we cried, we talked, we hugged, we held each other, we hated each other, but through it all, we also loved each other.  I have never stopped loving my husband, and that has been the hardest part sometimes.  I think, with all that we have been through, that it would have been easier to hate him.  It doesn’t hurt as badly when someone you don’t love hurts you, so hating him may have relieved the incongruity that I felt loving a man who had hurt me so badly.

I feel like I have been living in a bubble, surrounded by the affair.  Living inside the affair, you have a different perspective, and it can be easy to have your perspective affected by the constant, in-your-faceness of it all.  This weekend, I stepped outside of the bubble, and had the privilege to see it from all sides, not just the inside that I was living in.  I use the word privilege on purpose, because it was just that.

My husband and I attended the Healing From Affairs Seminar this past weekend with Brian and Anne Bercht.  You may know Anne, or have heard of her book, “My husband’s affair became the best thing that ever happened to me”.  She and her husband Brian travel the continent offering support and seminars to couples devastated by an affair, and I was fortunate to have learned that it was going to be coming to my city this past weekend.  I jumped on the opportunity, told my husband, and had his full participation.  We left the kids with responsible others for the first time in the time that we have had kids, and decided to give ourselves not the gift of time away, or the gift of a romantic weekend.  We decided we were going to save our marriage.  Together.

We spent three complete days immersed in understanding the affair, ourselves, our personality types and how that plays into our recovery as well as our married lives together.  We learned about affair vulnerability, why the affair happened, how it happened, and completely dissected it.  We learned about trust, forgiveness and intimacy in marriage, and how to strengthen our bond, our communication and our marriage.  It is no small thing when I say that my husband and I emerged completely changed by this past weekend.  It was the best investment that we could have made in our marriage, and I am so glad that we went.  I learned things about my husband that I didn’t realize were contributing factors, and he learned about me.  Having a couple like Anne and Brian who have been through an affair, and completely recovered, stronger than before, was inspirational.  I felt privileged to be asked to share my story with her, and to gain her perspective.  My husband, and the other wayward spouses had the same tete-a-tete with Brian.  My husband finally had the chance to speak to another man who had not only “been there”, but who listened to him without judgement, offering only loving support, and a willingness to help us succeed.   My husband later had the chance to speak with Anne, and hear a woman’s perspective on an affair, NOT from me, the woman he had betrayed.  I had the chance to learn about the affair through the lens of a man, thanks to Brian, who helped to solidify for me the knowledge that my husband’s affair had NOTHING to do with me as a person, as a lover, or as a wife.  It’s one thing for your husband to say that to you, but it is completely different and transformational when you learn that he isn’t just saying that to make me feel better, but that this is the case for most affairs.  Men don’t cheat because they aren’t happy at home.  Marital issues do not lead to affairs.  One does not depend on the other, and perfectly happily married men have affairs.  Their wives are devoted, loving, caring, compassionate and sexually available.  They, however, find themselves in a vulnerable place due to a myriad of factors.

I feel closer to my husband than I have in a long time, and I dare say, closer than I may have ever felt before.   We learned such deep things about each other, and ourselves as a couple, that we truly feel privileged to be together, despite all of this.  He is my one and only, and I am his.  That won’t change.

The seminar provided us with such hope for the future, and restored a lot of trust in my husband that I was missing.  It helped us to repair and rebuild.  In some ways, it feels like we are starting over, but with better tools to build a more solid structure than we had the first time.

It’s like my husband said at the end of the seminar: I wish we’d been able to gain these insights and have access to the knowledge that we now do, without having had to make this journey.  But, I have also come to realize that the journey is important.  Our struggle, the difficult days, the painful moments, the agony and despair – it was all necessary.   We need to have gone through that to see how resilient we are, to prove to ourselves how hard we would fight for one another.  If I’d been given the knowledge for free, without the mess, I’d just have the knowledge of how to make a strong marriage going forward.  What I would be missing would be the awareness of just how much I am loved and valued, something I learned this weekend, thanks to Anne and Brian, but mostly thanks to my husband who was willing to show that to me.

If you have the chance to attend, I would strongly recommend that you do.   Whether you want to reconcile, or whether you are still on the fence, your path will become more clear after you experience the seminar.  Hopefully your husband shows remorse for his actions, and shares with you a desire to make things right, to take responsibility, and a desire to be your healer in the journey.  To listen to a teleconference with Anne and Brian about how the spouse who had the affair can become the healer, and how to start on that path, click here:

http://www.beyondaffairs.com/MP3s/TS-2009-June30.mp3

 

I am in a much better place, and I am so thankful to Wendy, for her recommendation on attending this seminar.  She was completely right.

Where I was stuck was in how to forgive?  How to stop feeling contempt?  I was making the mistake of thinking that I would just wake up one day and feel healed.  I was thinking that I would suddenly no longer feel hurt or betrayed. I was thinking that I would wake up and no longer have a need to rub his nose in the affair for sport when I was feeling badly about myself.  I now know that moving forward to a place of forgiveness is a choice.  It is a choice that involves active effort on my part.  It won’t be given to me, and it won’t appear in my lap.  It will be something that I will choose to feel, when the time is right.  Knowing that it is under MY control makes it tangible and more attainable.

And because my husband will be receiving this post in his inbox as soon as I hit “publish”, and will read it, I wanted to say publicly:

I love you with every ounce of me.  You are my heart, you are my soul, and it is a privilege to be your wife.  I will work every day to keep strong what we have, and to foster a healthy, passionate, and fulfilling life with you.  I am so appreciative of your willingness to come with me this weekend, and so touched that the weekend has impacted you in the way that it has.  Seeing how much you enjoyed it reinforces for me that we are touched in the same way, and want the same things.  I am so thankful for your willingness to take responsibility for your actions.  Disclosing your affair to me voluntarily showed me that you have great character.  I am thankful that you have never blamed me for your affair, and for being honest with me in the details when I have asked.  I appreciate your sensitivity and your compassion to my pain, and am thankful that you have been willing to put yourself into my shoes, and see the affair from my side.  I appreciate your patience while I have been healing, and your willingness to act as a healer for me.  You know my heart better than ever, and I am confident that we are closer than we have been before.  I want to remain that way.   I look forward to deepening that connection with you.  Thank you for sharing your life with me.  I love you with all of me.

A ray of sunshine coming my way


I have to say, I am really looking forward to our retreat weekend in a few weeks. Really excited. I feel really hopeful. I haven’t felt that way in a long time.

Not only is the weather improving, I find my spirits lifted recently. I’ve decided I am taking 4 months off of work to focus on me. In the wake of the affair, I was unable to have planned for the chaos, and had weeks of clients and projects booked. I couldn’t cancel them, and had to plug away at work, pretending nothing was wrong. I’ve never, in these 2 years taken any time to focus on me. I’ve gained 15 pounds, and look older than I’ve ever looked. I feel haggard and worn down.

I want to lose the weight. I want to take some classes. I want to do things for me that I enjoy. I think I deserve it.

Frankly it is all a bunch of sunshine coming my way and I am really excited!

“My husband’s affair became the best thing that ever happened to me”


Within days of my husband’s affair being disclosed to me…or perhaps within mere hours, I immediately went into lock down crisis mode.  I am a resourceful person, and I needed  help.  I needed answers.  I needed anything to make me feel as though I was moving things forward.  I went online and turned to google.  I searched for things like “infidelity and co-workers” and “how to get over an affair”, and anything you can imagine to search, I searched it.

I remember looking through the pages that my search turned up, and seeing the words “My husband’s affair became the best thing that ever happened to me”.  I shook my head in disbelief.  What the hell is she thinking?  How dare she take something so painful and traumatic and say that it was the best thing….how dismissive of me, my feelings, this reality?  I peeked at the link once or twice, never taking the time to dig in because it wasn’t what I needed (at the time).  I passed it by many times, but my point is that it kept popping back up.  I’d google, and there would be Anne Brecht’s book, and her website, claiming to have been saved by her husband’s affair.  It sickened me sometimes, but most of the time I would ignore it.  Two years later, I am in a different place, and I “get it” now.  I see where she is coming from.  I couldn’t see where she was because of where *I* was.  My perspective was too fresh, too wounded, to raw.  I wasn’t in a place where I could see there being ANY benefit to an affair.  It was devastating, how could there be positive anything?

Last week, I was contacted through this blog by a woman (Wendy) who has been through an affair.  Not only was her husband unfaithful, but hers also fathered a child with his mistress.  I will tell you, that is a rare thing to find.  In as much as I have received a lot of support and understanding from women and men who have been struck by this, few of them had the additional layer of a child born of the infidelity.   She contacted me, and we’ve been talking through email the last few days.  I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have had this connection made.  Someone to talk to who understands it.  She gets it.  Totally and completely.

I asked her about her therapy and what she found helped.  As it turns out, she attended a marital seminar developed by Anne Brecht, you know, the woman who thought her husband’s affair was the best thing that ever happened to her? – yeah her.  I immediately went to the website, and started to read about their seminars, and their help for couples.  They have survived infidelity and come out the other side.  They now help others to do the same.  Recently, Anne and her husband appeared on Dr. Phil:

So I spent some time on their site today and listened to some of the teleconferences that they have.  They are free to call in for, and they have a schedule of discussion topics and you can sign up for notices of upcoming calls.  If you, or someone you know needs support, please pass along the information. I will share it at the bottom of this post.  I listened today to a woman who, along with her husband, serve as mentors in Anne and her husband’s marital retreat weekend seminars.  For the first time since my husband’s affair, I HEARD the voice of someone who has experienced this.  It was no longer just black words on a white page.  This woman exists, she feels, she has experienced it.  For the first time, I felt as though I am really not alone and that there ARE real people out there who are going through this.  There are people out there who understand.  It sounds cliche, but I really for the first time felt connected.  Now. I’ve not attended a support group, and so perhaps this is why I am coming to this feeling so late, but it was so nice.  I cried at my desk, and then took a long walk.  I felt better though than I have in a long time because it felt hopeful.

So I emailed Wendy to ask her more about the seminars she attended.  She told me that it was unlikely one would be in my city, but I could travel to a nearby one.  In searching today, I looked on the site, and low and behold there IS one coming soon where I live and I was beyond thrilled.  I emailed her right away to tell her about it, and she replied “SIGN UP!” and I did.  I emailed my husband, told him about it, he went to the site, and was 100% game.  Now, it means leaving the kids for a weekend with ongoing childcare.  My husband and I are hard pressed for childcare having no one reliable with whom to leave our children.  Thankfully one of my friends stepped up and has offered to live at my house that weekend with her son, and look after my brood.  I could not be more relived and indebted to her for her sacrifice and help.

I am really looking forward to this weekend. It will mark the first time my husband and I have spent a weekend away from our children, but I think it will be for the very best reason – the saving of our marriage.  I think we’ve come very far so far, but I think we have more ground to cover.  I think this will also help my husband to find the support of other Wayward spouses who can share their stories, understand his struggles and offer him the support he has been lacking.  Let’s face it, I can share the story and get support, he can’t always count on that.  He was the one who strayed, he is the “bad guy”, and not everyone takes too kindly to what he did.   My own mother never forgave him  before she passed a few months ago.  He will always live with that.  So, from his perspective too, I think this weekend will be very healing, and I am looking forward to it.

For those interested in the information, the website is http://www.beyondaffairs.com and for the free tele seminars, go to: http://www.beyondaffairs.com/teleseminars.htm

Needless to say, I can now understand what Anne meant, that I was unable to see because I hadn’t EARNED the perspective.  I say earned because I’ve put in a lot of miles, a lot of tears and a lot of work to get here.  I’ve earned the ability to see for myself what she meant.  Through facing their issues head-on, they both had to grow and turn to one another in order to make their marriage stronger.  Having faced this, they communicate better, are more connected and closer than they have ever been.  While Anne acknowledges that his affair was the most DEVASTATING thing that has ever happened to her, she also wants her reader to know that with the work put in, it has also taken them to this wonderful place that they wouldn’t be in had they not faced the issue at all.  In essence, his affair forced them to make changes.  As she says, “you can either be bitter, or be better”.  I think I will opt for option 2.  I am trying.

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