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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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How brazen of her


***This post is being misunderstood and so it behoves me to put this disclaimer at the top so that the same misunderstanding doesn’t continue.

This post and the analogies it outlines have nothing to do with the wayward spouse’s choice, their decision making,
or explaining their behavior. This post, is instead about YOU the betrayed wife and how society and often the OW and her posse of supporters ridicule you for standing by and fighting for a your marriage instead of us just handing them our husbands. The analogy isn’t meant to describe his actions or the why…it’s about YOUR choices and the why. Please read from that point of view. And for what it’s worth, no, I don’t believe wayward spouses are victims…****

Imagine if you will a mother, any mother.  Her hair can be any colour.  Her body type can be thin or not.  Her hair can be curly or straight.  It doesn’t matter really, what she looks like, all you need to know is that the only thing she has ever wanted to do was to be a mom.

I am going to call this mom Cara.

Cara struggled for many years to have a child.  After many failed attempts, she finally hears the news her heart has been waiting for.  She has been blessed with a child.  She pours everything into being a mother.

At first, parenthood is a struggle.  The learning curve is steep and there are bumps along the way.   Cara makes her share of mistakes, but she is doing the best she can, and learning as she goes.  After all, parenting doesn’t come with a manual.

Like any mother, Cara is invested in her child, often at the expense of herself.  She sacrifices a lot for her child, and her life has certainly changed.  She puts so much into this child, and would give anything to see her grow up healthy and strong.  Certainly Cara is also human, and sometimes isn’t always the best mother, and doesn’t always make the best choices, but she wakes up every morning, still dedicated, still trying, and ever hopeful that this creation of hers will succeed.

One day, shortly after her 10th birthday, Cara’s daughter fails to come home from school.  A search ensues and no one can find her anywhere.  She has essentially disappeared.  Her mother is frantic, and sick with worry.  All of the years flash before her eyes.  All of her firsts, all of their struggles, all of their successes and good times – Gone.

After several weeks, her daughter is located.  It is discovered that Cara’s daughter had been kidnapped and held by a childless woman who wanted to have a child, and tried to claim Cara’s daughter as her own.   For many years, this woman too had tried to have a child and was not successful.   Desperate, she soon gave up the dream of having her own child in favour of simply stealing someone else’s.  She made a plan, and decided that she would seek out a child of her liking, and then when the timing was right, would abduct her, claim her as her own, and raise the child.  She gave little or no thought to Cara’s heartache.  She completely disregarded the pain and torment she was putting Cara and her family through because her needs came first.  Social conventions of right and wrong were cast aside, and morals thrown out the window.  “She” was the only person who mattered here, and her happiness was paramount to all others.

Once the identity of the abductor is known, Cara fights tirelessly to get her daughter back.  She cries herself to sleep at night, worried that she has lost the precious creation she has cared for and nurtured all these years.  She starts each day in the darkest place imaginable, but with the desire to fight and find her child once more.  The abductor ups the ante and starts sending Cara messages, taunting her, telling her how much happier her daughter is with her, how much she resents her mother, and how she should just move on and let her daughter go.  Cara can’t imagine her daughter ever feeling that way, and the words simply don’t fit with the experience and the relationship Cara knows to be true.  Confused and paralyzed with fear, anger, resentment and worry, she gets up each day trying to get one step closer to her child.   All the while struggling, Cara maintains a brave face for those around her.  She has been told by the abductor that if she says anything to anyone that her daughter will be harmed, so she puts on a brave face every day, and no one knows the inner struggle she faces each day.   While colleagues and family are busy making demands of her, disrespecting her time and overloading her, she cries out on the inside that none of them would do this, if they “really knew what was going on”.  They wouldn’t dare pile this on her.  But they don’t know….so they do, and so it continues, until one day Cara’s daughter escapes and comes home.   Tearful and full of regret, she confesses to her mother that she made some poor choices, against her better judgment, and that due to her actions, she put herself in harm’s way, and in a situation where she was vulnerable, and then the unthinkable happened, and she was taken.  Cara is just relieved to have her back.

Within a few days, threatening letters and emails start coming her way.   Letters from the abductor threatening to repeat the abduction.  Threads of doubt and uncertainty are planted within Cara’s mind that her daughter will leave willingly, having favoured perhaps the other woman’s lifestyle, her home, the material and shallow possessions.  Cara is blasted as a sad and pathetic woman, a horrible mother, a selfish person who doesn’t deserve to have a child.  No matter all of the time and work invested in her child, she is told that she wasn’t good enough, that she has failed as a mother, and that her daughter, in time, will once again disappear.  Cara lives every day in fear that this may come true.

The letters become more personal, more vindictive, more hateful.  Cara can barely hold it together while her self esteem is being ripped apart by this woman, and the one thing she most preciously loves is being threatened to be ripped from her once more.  Cara is told to give up. Cara is told to let go.  Cara is mocked and laughed at for still trying to hold on to her daughter.  She is called ‘selfish’ for wanting her back. She is mocked for fighting for her, all while being told she deserves this horrible pain because she wasn’t a good enough mother, that her years of sacrifice weren’t enough…she is ridiculed for continuing to fight.  She is threatened with being outed in her community as a “bad mother” who lost her child due to negligent parenting and poor standards.

Reading the above story, do you agree that she should give up?   Should she fight?  Should she let go?  Should she watch years of her life and the legacy she has worked hard to create disappear?  What would you do if something you have created and nurtured was suddenly ripped from you?

Would we, as compassionate human beings ever mock her for fighting for her child?  Would ever condemn her for her daughter’s disappearance, saying that it was due to sub-standard qualities within her?  Would you tell her she deserved it?   I highly doubt anyone, seeing a woman fight for her child, would ever give her anything but sympathy and understanding.   After all, entire communities rally around and support parents when their children are stolen.  So the question becomes…

Why don’t we do this for marriage when an OW tries to take our husband for their own?

Why are people quick to condemn the wives for the their husband’s “disappearance”?  Why do we place the blame for the situation that occurred on something inherently faulty with the wife?  Why do we, as wives, get sucked into the emotional trap laid out by the OW to make us feel fragile, threatening us with him leaving again, or repeating the same behaviour (once a cheater always a cheater, take him back and you’ll regret it).

Why are wives told to “give up” and “let go” and “move on” and then made to feel ridiculed when they fight for the thing they have passionately cared for and nurtured:  their marriage.    A marriage, like the raising of a child is painstaking work that involves care, commitment, sacrifice, and mistakes.  No parent is perfect, and no marriage is perfect.  After years of devotion, sacrifice and time, why would anyone expect a mother to hand over her child?   Why do OW’s expect us to give up, let go, and move on and then mock us when we fight for what IS OURS, what we’ve worked for, what we’ve sacrificed for, what we created?   Is it different?

Doesn’t it seem sick and twisted that a woman, incapable of having a child of her own by conventional means should opt to create a situation whereby she could weasel herself into a family and walk out with one stolen?  Wouldn’t we call that criminal?  Why then, do we see OW’s walk into marriages, identify weak and vulnerable spots and coyly take advantage of them for their personal gain such that they steal a husband from his wife?   Is that not criminal also?   Instead it is labeled as “human nature”, or made the fault of a wife who wasn’t enough.

Obviously, the above story is designed to set up a parallel yet distinct story.  Parenthood and her desire for a child is paralleled with marriage and one’s desire for a marriage and partner.  The learning curve of parenting, the lack of a manual and the fact that we aren’t always the best, but do our best as parents, is paralleled with doing our best as a spouse when we are learning as we go.  As a woman who sacrifices everything for her child, so too does a woman for her marriage.  This story and its presentation was designed to present a scenario whereby a character gains empathy for being put into a devastating circumstance in order to see how an outside observer might react to  her situation.   Empathically or judgmentally?  With compassion or with hatred?

So why is it expected and understood that a woman would fight for her child, and not expect her to do the same for her marriage?

***This blog post is NOT making the kidnapped child analagous to the cheating husband.  No one’s husband was kidnapped, and this post isn’t intended to equate a betraying husband with someone captured against their will.   This was a choice HE made, sometimes with her help, sometimes without.  What this post IS designed to do, is to show the parallel between the reactions women have for salvaging what they love deeply***

What do you think?  Discuss.

Victim blaming or blog stalking?


I find in interesting to read the comments that are left on the blog. Some are meant for me, some are in response to other readers and their comments. Regardless, I’ve always taken an interest in how people relate to one another, how they respond, and how they perceive events.

It’s always been amazing to me how two people can witness the same event and walk away with very different interpretations of the events. How two people can witness a woman attacked, and one will see her as a helpless victim and try to help her up, while others will see her as having deserved it, and contribute to keeping her down. Interesting indeed.

I received this comment on the blog last weekend from a reader named “Kate” who says, in response to my “sermons from Facebook” post:

You are kidding yourself. No, you’re not responsible for the chivld coming into this world. But your husband is. Period. End of story. And it’s obvious you’re relishing the fact that he chose your kids over this poor little girl. Congratulations! You won. And the man you won is a miserable coward. You are responsible for depriving this innocent child of her father because you are selfish and insecure and won’t let go of his balls. Grow up! The fact that the OW is unstable does not justify your husband’s shirking histories parental duty. Rather, his involvement is all the more important. Your blog is a disgusting manifestation of ego and rage. I hope I never run across it again. Take it down. Get over yourself. Get a life. And encourage your husband to man up and be a father to this poor child You repulse me!

Wow. Amazing how her interpretation is that I somehow have ANY influence over my husband’s decision to see or know the child they created. Does she actually think that I prohibit him? Does she think that he wants a relationship and the only thing preventing it is me? Really? Where on this entire blog does it read that I wish for him to remain outside of her life and that I will steadfastly refuse him to have a relationship with his “daughter”? How did she come to THAT twisted interpretation?

Am I “relishing the fact that my husband chose my children over hers”? I’d be lying to say I am not pleased that he is honoring his commitment to the children he created in matrimony. Of course I am pleased he didn’t leave thm and chose to remain the same loyal and devoted dad to them. Of course I am pleased that I didn’t lose my family. Of course I am pleased that he chose to honor his family over a life with a whore. But I am pleased that my children have the father that their father at the expense of her loss? No. I don’t think a child should be fatherless. But, I also don’t think that women should target and sleep with married men and then stop their pill and suggest unsafe sex in order to get pregnant in the hope that it will win her the prize either. I don’t think a child should grow up without her father in her life, but I also don’t think that a grown, mature woman should stalk the wife of the man she is looking to steal, make snide comments about her, make up lies and false lawsuits to gain money and extort funds from an innocent family and call the police on a wife whose only “crime” is trusting her husband.

See, there are a lot of things that I think shouldn’t happen…but they do, and I have no more influence over HIS decision to not see this child than I do over world poverty.

My husband told his whore long ago, before I was even made aware, that he had no intentions of being present in the child’s life. He didn’t want the whore to have a delusional fantasy that they would start a new life together. He wanted it to be quite clear to her what the picture would look like if she chose to have his child out of spite. He made this decision independent of me, and voiced it to her long before I even knew.
So how exactly did I influence it if he told her himself that this was his intention?

“The man you won is a miserable coward”. This is a three parter, so lets tackle it that way:

Firstly, he isn’t something I won. I already had him. I wasn’t in a contest to win a prize. I am MARRIED to him and “won” his heart a long time ago. He wasn’t up for auction, or something I had to sway to be with me. He always was. You can’t win what is already yours to begin with.

Secondly, he isn’t miserable. He was in the beginning when the news first broke to me because he feared losing our family. Our family is the world to him, and we are his home. He has fought to reclaim us entirely and to prove himself worthy of us. He is far from miserable today. We are thriving, our children are growing and healthy, our marriage is strong and we are back to trust again. I’ve forgiven him, which was a long process, but he hasn’t forgiven himself. It is a scar he will always bear, but sweetheart, he isn’t miserable.

Thirdly, he is the furthest thing from a coward. He chose to tell me. That took strength and honesty. That took risk and integrity. He attended therapy, told my parents, apologized to my family, took it on the chin in shame for years, never once blaming me. He was my hero through the pain I felt. Coward? Hardly. The coward is the woman who continues to try and extort money from our family, who sends ridiculous and uninsightful emails to our lawyer using terms she scarcely understands, about concepts she is too stupid to wrap her feeble mind around. Cowardly is the woman who has to stalk and lurk in shadows. Cowardly is the woman who needs to try and steal another woman’s husband. Cowardly is creating false lawsuits and police claims to cause harm to someone out of jealousy. Cowardly is not having the strength to do the honorable thing and apologize to the woman whose life you turned upside down and ask for forgiveness. THAT is the coward.

“You are selfish, insecure, and won’t let go of his balls”

I’m selfish how? Because I want my family? Because I want my husband? Fighting for my family makes me selfish? How am I insecure? I’ve stood up and fought the fight of my life. I’ve defended my marriage. I’ve risked everything and claimed it back. I’ve seen the deepest and darkest places of pain and come out the other side. I am confident, self assured and deserving of every happiness that comes to me because I have fought for it and earned it. Insecure? Hardly. Insecure is the woman who steals a man because she doesn’t think she can be loved honestly or have the confidence to obtain a partner in an way free of lies, deceit and manipulation.

How is my blog a manifestation of ego and rage? If by ego, you mean that it’s “all about me”, you’re right…it is. It’s my blog and it tells my story. As for the rage…have someone come and do to you what has been done to me, and see how rage-filled you become. Thankfully my angry days are behind me. Instead I choose to forgive and wish happiness on those who wrong me. Their behavior speaks to a desperate need for more due to emptiness. Anger won’t solve their issues. All I can do is focus on me and wish her well. Rage? Once, yes. Rage no longer serves me. In fact, it never did…it just held me back.

As for “encouraging my husband to man up and be a father to his child”, I play no role in his choice. There are men who avoid child support. They refuse to pay or underpay. They disregard the children as their own and watch their kids fed with food stamps and dressed in secondhand clothes and do nothing about it. They watch their children deprived of food, clothes, a decent living, knowing that they could contribute. THEY need to man-up. My husband pays $4k PER MONTH for a child who doesn’t cost 1/4 of that. With his payment, that child can wear the best clothes, live in the best area and home, and have access to resources these deadbeat dads deprive their children of. Aside from meeting her, my husband makes sure she has more than enough. He’s meeting his obligation and beyond. He just hasn’t met her. It’s ok…the OW only wants his money, she doesn’t want him in her life and demanded sole custody.

I “repulse” this reader. Like telling a rape victim that she “deserved it”, or a mother whose child died of cancer that “she had it coming to her, this reader reads my story of victimization, betrayal, strength, perseverance, hope, work, support and strength and somehow feels repulsed by me? Interesting indeed….something tells me her name isn’t “Kate” if you know what I mean 😉

Anyone who says that has to be personally angry with me. I can only wonder why….nah, don’t care.

So, what are your thoughts on this laughable comment?

In his own words…


As many long-time readers and subscribers of this blog know, I have wanted my husband to document his journey in his words.  It’s hard to put the entire journey into one piece, because it spans many years, has many aspects (as you know from reading my side) and many turns, valleys and victories too.  To try and capture it all in one piece is impossible.  I hope he will write more, or compartmentalize the task into smaller sections and talk only about those things (i.e. his vulnerabilities at the time, his true feelings for the OW, why her, the struggle to free himself from the affair, the decision to tell me, the story of how he told me, the fallout, the healing, forgiveness etc.)

Four years ago I took the first step of a journey that would alter the course of my life.  I didn’t know it at the time, but by accepting an invitation from a co-worker to engage in an affair, my life would never be the same again.  It seemed relatively benign at the time.  A holiday from the “everyday” life of a busy professional.   A break from the stress that comes with entering middle age where one has to balance a busy career, a budding family, and ailing parents.  There was no balance, there was stress, hard work, and vulnerability.  In fact, the affair partner wasn’t even good looking!  My wife was and is a beautiful woman, she turns heads and commands a presence when she enters the room.  A woman that any man would be proud to marry.  When we started to date, I was surprised that she would even be interested in me – I felt that she was out of my league (as the saying goes).  By contrast my affair partner was short and stout, had a big butt and uneven breasts.  She used to make funny faces during intercourse that would freak me out, and sometimes turn me off.  Her breasts were fake, uneven, a no frills plastics deal.  She would walk into a room and typically pass judgement on people, make enemies, and develop a delusional condescending story about people.  I never knew if she was telling the truth or fabricating a lie.  I grew to question her words, her honesty, and her integrity.  So why did I engage in an affair with such a person??????  Why did I risk it all, destroy my life, and destroy the lives of those around me?

The question of why did I have an affair has been the focal point of self exploration for the past 4 years.  It is that question that has inspired me to depart from the safety of my “planned” life on a journey of exploration that will likely never end with an answer – only raise more questions.

My affair partner tricked me.  She told me that she was in love with a long term boyfriend.  They were living together.  Their relationship was as long as my marriage had been.  I discovered later that she lied about everything, there was no boyfriend.  Either way, I was made to believe that we were on equal footing and both taking an equal risk to be together.  She told me that it was just for fun, a holiday, and that at the drop of a hat, either one of us just had to say the word and it would end.  No questions asked!  No hard feelings!  No consequences!  This was safe.  What could be safer for a stressed out middle age professional who needed some kind of reprieve?  Life was hard for me at the time.  Some people turn to drugs and alcohol, I turned to sex.  Neither one a good solution.  I later discovered that people dig themselves deeper into a hole when they use a maladaptive response to a difficult situation because not only is one left with the difficult situation left unresolved, but they also have to contend with the consequence of their poor choices.   Instead of sitting down with my wife and sharing the burden of finding a solution to some of the challenges I was facing, a healthy choice that would have eventually brought us closer together, I sought out ways of resolving the situation on my own, and got caught up in an affair.

I like to believe that I am a powerful man.  A man who is in control of the situation around him, independent, successful, a go getter, a bread winner, a person above average.  I like to believe that I rise where all others fail.  I like to believe that I don’t need help.  However, over the years I have learned a very painful lesson.  I can’t do it myself.  Unlike my romantic notion of a hero who stands alone and wins the day, I have developed a wisdom – I cannot do it alone.  I require the help of others, and work best with others assisting me.  Unfortunately, my delusion of grandeur had led me into a trap.  I wasn’t able to do it alone, and as a result, I was failing.  As I was failing, I was vulnerable.  My affair partner identified my vulnerability and exploited it.  As I reflect on the affair, I believe that she did her homework.  She knew where I lived, the car my wife drove, my wife’s hairstyle.  She knew about things that I told her, and things that I did not tell her.  After all, what kind of strait guy discusses his wife’s hairstyle with anyone?  That should have been my first clue.  She was stalking me.  I was her project.

After my vulnerabilities were mapped out by this person, the rest must have been easy.  Just slip in and begin with intercourse, and the rest is driven by blackmail – and that’s exactly what happened:  My interests magically became her interests.  I was complimented, validated, and made to feel like the hero that I believed I should be.  But when I wanted to stop the affair, when I said we’re done the affair, the blackmail began.  She threatened to disclose it to my wife, my friends, my work colleagues, and my professional circles.  So I complied with her requests and continued our relationship.  I was trapped!  As long as I complied with her wishes, I would be okay, my world wouldn’t be torn apart, but if I didn’t comply, then she would rip me apart socially , personally, and professionally.  I stayed with her, I needed time to find a way out.

Stockholm Syndrome develops when the prisoner becomes close to their kidnapper.  This woman was tearing me away from everything that I held dear, against my desire to be with her, and yet I would engage with her in intercourse.  Stockholm Syndrome is the only way that I can understand and explain my actions.  My days were dark, I was in a prison, but walking amongst others.  I was beaten down, feeling powerless and did not know what to do.  Every day I hoped I would think of some kind of solution, but as her and I spent more time together, she trapped me even further.   I was sinking!

It all stopped when I took away her power over me.  I told my wife about the affair and braced myself for the storm that was to come.

The darkest days of my life had come upon me.  Attacked by my affair partner, and on loose footing in my marriage – my life had crumbled apart.  In order to put it back together I spent the next three years of my life seeking out wisdom to help me understand myself and the new world around me.  I have engaged in many conversations with my wife, counselors, friends, and advisors.  I have read books, scoured websites, and travelled to marriage enhancement retreats.  I have begun to understand the complexity of marriage, the fragility of marriage, and the reasons why over 50% of North Americans divorce.  I have understood my vulnerabilities, my strengths, and my shortcomings.  I have become wiser, more humble, and scarred.  I am no longer the man I was 4 years ago, and sadly my journey has taken me away from that man, the man I was before the affair, and I will not know him again.

So what have I learned?

Love.  I have learned about love.  I have learned that love is a conscious choice that we make every day.  It is not a romantic notion that sweeps us off of our feet, draws us in, and commands our lives.  I have finally understood what happens after the prince rides off with the princess into the sunset.  I have understood that loving another person is distinctly different than falling in love with that person.  The difference is that the act of falling in love is selfish, and short lived, while loving someone is selfless and infinite.  It’s confusing because the word “love” is used in both situations.

When one falls in love, they are overwhelmed with emotion for the person that they desire to have.  Their need to be with that individual is only satisfied by being with that individual. It is selfish.  I hate to sound unromantic but two people who have “fallen in love” are coexisting in a selfish state.  They are mutually fulfilling a desire to be with the other person.  In being together they are satisfying their own selfish need, and coincidentally satisfying their partner’s selfish need.  The “in love” phenomenon ends as the newness, or as some term it the “ Honeymoon” phase of the relationship comes to a close.  At the two year mark, the work of choosing to love another person begins.  This is selfless work to satisfy an altruistic desire to foster a partner’s growth, wellbeing and happiness.

I fell in love with my wife when we met, and I continue to love her.  Over the years, since the affair, I find myself seeking out to experience her pain.  I enter a frame of mind that I believe she may be in, and I experience her pain.  The feeling is chaotic and indescribable.  I can’t make sense of it, explain it, or relay it to anyone.  I can’t think of an analogous way to describe it.  It’s horrible.  It is pure pain and agony.  Sometimes it brings me to tears, but mostly it brings me beyond tears.  It’s hard to believe that the mind has the ability to transcend into such darkness, but it is how I would imagine feeling as death descends upon me.

I often engage in the act of empathizing with my wife.  She has struggles, as any person, and she is more feeling than I am.  As I experience that which I believe she experiences, I strive to understand her needs and desires, and I yearn to fulfill them.  When I make the choice to love her, I make the choice to let go of myself, my needs  and wants and to step into her world.  Only from there can I be the man who I want to be for her in order to create a world around her that will foster her personal needs and growth.

In addition to love, I have learned about the power of vulnerability.  We are all vulnerable.  Stress, hard knocks in life, our own insecurities make us vulnerable.  Anyone who can identify another’s vulnerabilities can exploit them for personal gain.  As I have learned about the notion of manipulation of others through their vulnerabilities, I have discovered the value and importance of privacy and intimacy.  Before the affair I lived an open life.  I knew that there were people who were extremely secretive, and I condemned them for their secrecy.  It seemed like they had a poker hand that they were slyly going to play at any given time.  I was proud to be open, transparent, and non secretive (with some socially appropriate exceptions).  In retrospect, it was a naive way to be.  My affair partner identified my needs, my weaknesses, and my insecurities.  Then she simply gave me what she believed would satisfy me.  She reeled me in close enough that she got her meat hooks into me.  Once I was trapped, her true colours came out.  I have learned that one must be aware of their vulnerabilities, whether it be work stress, a fight with the spouse, a sick parent, or conflict with their children.  By exposing this to others, one may place themselves at risk.  It’s not hard for a prospective affair partner to play the role of a perfect “friend” in order to draw a vulnerable person into an affair and to draw them away from a more constructive approach of solving their problems.

Lastly, I have learned about the fallibility of humanity.  Humans are imperfect!  I raise this point not as an acceptable excuse for my adulterous behaviour.  I raise it to emphasize the importance of a salad of human instinctive behaviours.  Firstly, tolerance, understanding, and acceptance:  I have been with my wife for nearly 16 years if we count the years we were dating.  Never had I cheated on her except in this affair.  In fact, I had never cheated on anyone who I had ever been with.  However, I have been labeled a philanderer.  Although not by my wife, I have been tried and sentence as a guy who will probably do it again – my historic track record of fidelity has been deemed unimportant.  I believe that it is a human quality to protect oneself from further pain by making such accusations.  In order to not rise up in battle against the unfounded notion that I would cheat again, I find comfort in accepting and understanding the source of the belief.  Second, there is a belief that knowledge and insight brings one illumination and growth.  Specifically, when I look back at my journey, am I a better man for taking it? Have I learned, have I changed?  I think we as humans have learned to believe that personal growth, knowledge, and insight are positive.  Ignorance, although blissful, is considered negative.  However, I have lived through the darkest days of my life over these years.  I almost lost everything that I had worked to build; money, career, and family.  I still have pangs of anxiety when my lawyer’s office contacts me with regards to requests from the affair partner (yes it went to the lawyers and to the courts).  I have no more benefit in my life from this experience than a concentration camp survivor has from their experience.  I just recognize that there can exist a very dark reality, and regretfully I partook in it.  Although maybe I need to have some further maturity around this point – all I can believe is that I wish I had never had the affair, I wish it never happened.    Thirdly, I feel aged.  This affair and the aftermath took the wind out from under my sails.  I don’t know if perhaps it’s just aging in general, but I find myself feeling older, looking older, and generally less ambitious than I have been in the past.  In recent years, I have become very aware of my humanity, fallibility, and mortality.

Over the years, I have made many attempts to write about my experience and my insights. I’ve had a lot of difficulty expressing my thoughts on this with clarity.  I hope to share my experience, the lessons learned, and the wisdom gained.  I hope to impart this wisdom to others who may walk down the same path.  It is my sincerest hope that no one ever does what I did as it will ruin their life, the life of their spouse and the lives of their children.

 

Feel free to ask any questions or make comments.  I will pass them along to him, and get him to reply to the specific comments directed at him.

 

Thanks for reading and for your continued support of our story.

Securing your own life mask before assisting other passengers


We have all heard that in-flight message as we are preparing to take off on an airplane.  At first it sounds quite counter-intuitive and selfish to suggest that before we help another passenger, even our own child, that we take care of ourselves first.  After all, society always praises those that help others without consideration of their own safety or circumstances, and here they are asking us to do the opposite.   The fact is, however, that you are much more effective to others when you yourself are taken care of.  You are a better help to more people, and can save more lives if you take a moment to help yourself, and strengthen yourself.  That is what my blog post today is about, in part, as it connects to a big bold move my husband made this week.

I blogged last week about my feelings around my husband’s parents having no idea what happened in our marriage, and the fact that he had fathered a child with another woman.  

The truth is, I have ALWAYS felt a great deal of guilt about them not knowing.  I too, am a parent, and I would want to know if my son was going through a hard time, if his family was in peril, and if I had a secret grandchild.  Keeping this information from them seemed so selfish, but in the early phase of my recovery (the first year at least), I couldn’t invest the emotional energy in worrying about them, their needs, their feelings, or even what was “right”.   My marriage was faltering, and I needed to put on my own oxygen mask and take care of myself before I could consider helping others, or doing the right thing by them.  I had to come first.

As my healing journey has progressed, and I no longer need the spotlight focused on my own needs, I have started to give a lot of thought to those around us.  As my husband’s shame has also subsided over time, and as he has been forced to reveal the truth to others due to the OW’s vengeful behaviours, he has come to realize that his actions won’t necessarily be criticized, and that people do support him, and us.

I sat with my in-laws this week, as we were celebrating my husband’s birthday.  I watched them play with the grandkids, marvelling at the littlest thing that they do, asking questions, trying to be involved.  I saw how the small pleasures of just watching my youngest son in the bathtub brought great joy to my mother-in-law, and made her feel a part of something.  Watching this woman enjoying her only three grandkids, I also felt exceptionally guilty that she has a grandchild she doesn’t know about.  Now, I am not advocating that she needs a relationship with the child – far from it – but I was simply guilt-ridden that we were controlling a knowledge of her life that we have no right to control.  She has every right to know that she has kin.  Keeping that from her felt like I was playing G-d, and I felt guilty.

I have three sons.  I have never had, nor will I ever have a daughter.  My husband is an only child, and had no sisters.  His father often talked about how much he had wanted to have a girl, especially when were were growing our family, and I kept birthing boys 🙂  I think that being a male, and having a male son, he longed for the feminine, the delicate, that something sweet.  The OW had once emailed me antagonizing me over email about how unfortunate it was that I wasn’t able to give my husband the daughter that she was.   It’s funny now, in retrospect, that her tone implied something broken in me that wasn’t broken in her because she bore him a daughter.  Does she not know that the male sperm actually determine the gender of a baby, not the woman?  Anyway, since this isn’t a biology lesson, I digress… Knowing how much my FIL wanted a girl, it felt even more inappropriate for me to hold back the information that he actually HAD ONE in his lineage.  Once again, we were playing G-d with the information we withheld.

After my blog post about secrecy last week, my husband became upset.  He thought my post was ill-timed, as it was the day before his birthday, and for whatever reason, the post upset him, as if the material was new to him and came out of left field.  Rather, it was information we have discussed many times, and spending time with his mother the day prior had unearthed the feelings of guilt again.  I posted because the guilt was fresh and the topic relevant to what I was feeling at the time.  It wasn’t a way to lash out at my husband the day before his birthday…in fact I don’t think I lashed out at all.

When he read my blog, he angrily said that he would tell his father this week, and his mother the next.  I knew it was his anger talking, but I said “good”, because whether he was angry or not, it was the right thing to do.

He had a belated-birthday dinner with his father two days later, and I reminded him before he left the house of his intention to tell his father.  I wasn’t sure if he actually would, and truthfully, I assumed deep down that he would return home later that night with an excuse for why tonight wasn’t the right night, and a plan to delay this talk to a “better time”.  To my surprise, when I asked him about it the next morning, it turns out he had told him.  The two of them sat at dinner, and my husband revealed to his father that he had had an affair with a crazy woman, and that it has produced a child.  I was completely surprised that he had told him, and simultaneously completely proud of him.

I think it is always hard to own a mistake.  I think it is even harder when the mistake is of this magnitude, and harder still when you are telling someone whose relationship you value, and whose approval you bask in.  My husband is an only child of two divorced parents.  He is the golden child to both, and they hold him in very high esteem.  Now, it must be reiterated that my FIL was a serial adulterer.  He had several mistresses over the years of his marriage, and while his marriage ultimately disintegrated, he will tell  you to this day that his affairs were caused by his wife.  It was her lack of respect for him.  It was her lack of spontaneity.  It was her lack of sexual attention.  It was her lack of trust in him.  It was her lack of ___________.  Regardless of what it was, it was HER FAULT.  She was likely fed this information as well, when the affairs became known to her, and it likely stunted her healing.  In fact, she has never healed, and it has helped shape her.

My husband didn’t want to tell his father.  Perhaps he was afraid of falling from grace with his dad.   Perhaps, as he told me, he was worried about his father blaming me, as he had blamed his own wife over the years.  Perhaps he was worried that his father would now want a relationship with the child and the OW, and that it would open the door to a connection between our family and the OW.  Whatever his worry, he took the step in telling his dad, and from what little I know of what transpired and was said, it was positive.  Being a cheater himself, I don’t think he could ever find fault with his son, or see him as faulty.  If anything, he may blame me, or make assumptions that I am not a good wife, or that I don’t meet his son’s needs.  Truthfully, it doesn’t at all matter what he thinks.  His father hasn’t liked me since we were married almost 13 years ago, and I haven’t seen him in almost three years.  I could not care less what interpretation he holds, or what he thinks.  It doesn’t at all change what I know to be true.

I am proud of my husband for taking that step.  At first, I thought that the unburdening by telling his family was a step in the path of MY healing. I now think that it really is a step in the path of HIS.  He attended the “Man of Honour” weekend in May, and they talked about integrity and character.  How can you be a man of character and integrity while holding information from others that is their right to know, just to save yourself?  After all, on March 19th, 2010, he confessed his affair to me with the preface that he could no longer allow me to live my life not having the accurate truth about my own life.  He felt it was wrong to hold back information of this significance from me, and that he felt guilty watching me live my life blind to the information.  How was this different from his parents then?  Was he not holding a secret from these others who also had a right to know that they have a grandchild?  Was that not considered important information that they have a right to know?   It felt the same to me.

For now, he hasn’t told his mother, and I am still hopeful that he will be able to find a way to tell her that won’t compromise her health or cause her to suffer a mental decline.  It is one step at a time, but I think they are steps in the right direction, and for that I am proud of him.

 

Support from one's father

Support from one’s father

Man of honor: words from a husband


My husband wrote me the following last night, after reading the previous blog entry. It speaks to his experience of the “man of honor” weekend, what he pulled from it, and how he sees his future.

I am sharing it in the hopes that it can help give some insights into his thinking on his affair.

With respect to the blog post that I prepared for you…I was disappointed that it did not speak to you in the way that I had developed it in my mind. I can see how you would receive it to be a disturbing, insensitive, and emotionless post. I was surprised that it came out to be that way – but I understand how it came to be, and I would like to share with you my thoughts.

I had spent a year developing various ways of expressing myself with regards to this very important post. One night, when I couldn’t sleep, I decided to sit down and spend a few hours writing. All I achieved was a chronology of the events of the year, and the recovery following. It was very unfulfilling, and added nothing new to the situation at hand. When I learned about the Man of Honour weekend, it gave me the hope that I would spend a weekend with men focussing on the affair, dissecting it, and rising to a revelation about the situation. In the end, I think that I did that. I regret that it’s not palatable to you. If there’s one thing that I learned from the weekend, it’s that men and women approach the affair situation in very different ways. It leaves me to wonder if the critical elements that are required for men to understand, digest, and recover from the affair are not, and perhaps never could be, the same kind of elements that are necessary for women to recovery irrespective of the gender of the perpetrator of the infidelity.

As the weekend progressed, I became acutely aware of a need to develop a vision of myself as the man who I want to be in the future. Clearly the man who I was in the past was not suitable. This vision is important not only because it of the way I want to see myself, but because it will engulf the man who I intend to be as a husband to you, a father for our children, and the career man who I want to be remembered as. People often use the idea of writing one’s own eulogy as a way of identifying the key means of direction for their moral compass. Bryan Bercht and the Man of Honour weekend helped me transcend that overused eulogy creating exercise. It was from that weekend that came my blog contribution.

There are three key elements that came out of the Man of Honour weekend that changed my vision of who I aim to be. The first is the notion of the Man of Honour, the second comes from the words of Victor Frankl, and the third is just me putting it all together into a vision of the future.

On Friday night, our group of approximately 20 men ate our dinner, we were engaging in polite conversation, and cautious of broaching the delicate issues of infidelity. We then assembled in a meeting room and upon the request of our leader, we assembled a list of qualities that we unanimously agreed would reflect a man of honour. I find it ironic that a group of men, disgraced by their infidelity, would have any right to develop a definition of the man of honour – it’s like asking a group of criminals to re-write the criminal code (with the anticipation that it would be a better document than the original). However, from the broken rubble of our lives, we developed the following list of characteristics that would represent a Man of Honour:

The qualities of a man of honour are:

· Honesty
· Integrity
· Trustworthiness
· Accountability
· Reliability
· Loyalty
· Courage
· Loving
· Committed
· Friendly
· Humble
· Compassionate
· Empathic
· Sincere
· Role model
· Patient
· A good listener
· Willing
· Transparent
· Victorious
· Enthusiastic
· Understanding
· Dependable
· Hard working
· Genuine
· Resilient
· Consistent
· A leader
· Forgiving
· Generous
· Strong sense of conviction (spiritual, hope, core values)
· Optimistic
· Perseverance
· Unselfish
· Cooperative
· Servant
· Team player
· Looking out for others

On the Saturday, our group hiked through the mountains of Colorado, 9000 feet above sea level with stones in our nap sacks, short of breath and tired. While we did that, we reflected on our lives, the damage that we caused, and tried to find ways to support one another in our journey (both to face the physical demands of the hike, and to help repair the emotional damage that we brought into our lives). Our course leader reminded brought our attention to Victor Frankl. Dr. Frankl was a Psychiatrist who was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. All members of his family, including his wife and brother were killed. Dr. Frankl survived and during his ordeal, he developed a philosophy and treatment methods that helped many people. The one point that struck me as most relevant to my situation was the Dr. Frankl stated “One cannot always control the circumstances that lead up to events that happen to them, but one always has control over their response to those circumstances.”.

Out of the rubble of my mistakes, I am actively building a vision of the person that I want to become. I want to be a man of honour. In fact, it’s sometimes a trigger for me that guides my values. It can be as simple as paying for street parking. It’s no longer about a desire to avoid a ticket, paying for a ticket to park on the street becomes a brick in the foundation that I am building to be a man of honour. It guides everything that I do. I sometimes fall short, but I continue to work at it regularly. The second part of that vision involves the words of Victor Frankl – I may not be able to always choose my circumstance, but I can always choose my response to those circumstances.

When I think back to my acts of adultery right now, I am in disbelief about my actions. Regret is an understatement. I have an incredible wife, wonderful children, and an enviable life, how could I have done what I did???? The act destroyed the lives of so many people-it’s truly unbelievable. To truly be a man of honour, I have to take accountability for MY actions. Naturally there were circumstances that were very difficult, but in the end, I chose the wrong actions! Dishonorable actions. Yes there were extreme circumstances, yes I was cornered, and yes I was isolated from anyone who could help me, but my personal recovery, my first step towards a more honourable life requires me to accept accountability for my actions –fully! Why? Am I being too hard on myself? No, because a man of honour must act with honour, dignity, and fortitude. The price for being a man of honour may be a high one, but the price for being a man of dishonour is even greater.

As I move into my mid forty’s I begin to see my mortality on the horizon. I don’t mean to evoke feelings of sadness or pity. In order to live a fulfilling life, one must be aware of their mortality. Recognizing that there is an ultimate finality, one’s actions are guided differently than that of a person who has no appreciation of the short time that we have on this planet. The way we experience the world, the decisions that we make, and the way we spend our days changes when the days become numbered. To that end, I bring the first part of my life to an end – I close that book altogether. It was formative, and I will never forget it, but I feel that it no longer represents the person who I am today. With the many lessons that I have learned, the experiences that I have had, the mistakes that I have made, and the triumphs that I have achieved, I begin to develop a map for the way I intend to live the second part of my life. Most importantly, I intend to live my life with honour.

I am sorry that I hurt your feelings with the blog post that I wrote for you. Perhaps I was too brash, bold, analytical. Too much time spent looking at the situation from above rather than experiencing the importance of the moment from within. I love you deeply and I find it hard to live with myself every day that I think about what I had done to you, to our family, and frankly to this world (albeit, very small part of the world). I am hopeful that by becoming a better man, a better person, a better husband I can make an impact and make it right.

Becoming a man of honor


I know I talk a lot about the seminars led by Anne and Brian Bercht, author of “My husband’s affair became the best thing that ever happened to me”.

Anne Bercht Book on Infidelity

I do so because I believe strongly in what they do, both theoretically, but also practically, as I have participated in two of their weekends, and was asked to coach at upcoming seminars for betrayed wives.  They are the most compassionate couple, who sincerely want you to thrive, and find your way through this horrible experience.

There is a weekend designed exclusively for men, called “Man of Honor”.  This weekend, which takes place in a beautiful outdoor retreat in Colorado, allows men to come together and learn what it takes to be a man of honor, to build character worthy of respect, and to leave a legacy.  It welcomes unfaithful men, as well as men who have been betrayed.  This is the only seminar, other than the healing from affairs weekend for couples, where the betrayed and the unfaithful come together to learn, to share, and to grow.

I am pleased to say that my husband will be attending the upcoming weekend for men on May 3-5th, 2013.  Although he has come so far, and made great strides in repairing what he did through his affair, he still sees value in learning more, protecting more, and growing more.  I respect and admire that about him, and am pleased that he doesn’t ever consider himself “done”.  It is a lifelong growth curve that he feels he will always be on, and this issue and its ramifications will forever be in the wings of his mind, acting as a guiding force as he navigates boundaries with other women, co-workers, and friends.  This experience has shown him that this can happen to ANYONE, and that unless you are taking active steps to prevent an affair, thinking that you are immune is the greatest vulnerability your marriage will ever experience.

For anyone whose husband is struggling with how to support their betrayed spouse, for men who have healed but want to take it to the next level, for betrayed men who want answers to how to heal, and for any man who just wants to be BETTER, this seminar will get you there.  I respect and advocate for their work so much, I wanted to blog about it 🙂

It can be costly to attend these weekends…it’s true.  But, you also need to ask yourself how much it will cost emotionally and financially to lose your marriage?   It’s worth it.  Go.

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

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.

Dealbreakers


When something traumatic happens to us, our world shatters.  What we knew before is now changed, and we question what we ever saw as “truth”.  Many of us struggle with the idea of what we could have possibly “done” to have “deserved” what happened to us.  The simple truth is that none of us brought upon ourselves the circumstances that led to our suffering, and we aren’t karmic collateral damage.  We are victims of the unfortunate and stupid, careless and hurtful actions of someone who vowed to protect us.

Today, while at the support group that I lead for betrayed spouses, we talked about our respective “deal-breakers”.  Each of us took our turn sharing what, for us, would be the ultimate deal breaker in our recovery.  For some, it was that their wayward spouse seek and attend therapy.  For others, it was that the wayward spouse grant the hurting spouse the opportunity to seek and receive support from others outside of the marriage.  For me, it was an interesting question to ponder, as I don’t think I ever had one dealbreaker.  For me, having the affair was supposed to be the dealbreaker.  I was “supposed” to walk away from my marriage, kick my husband out on his ass, and get on with my life.  Wasn’t that, after all, how I said it would be when he and I would talk about infidelity?  Isn’t that what I had vowed I would do?  Why then, did I not do it?  What was my dealbreaker???

In the wake of my husband’s affair, the deal breaker became whether he was going to support me or not.  Would he blame me?  Dealbreaker.  Would he find ways that I led him to, and threw him into an affair through my actions, our marriage, or my lack of je-ne-sais-quoi?  Dealbreaker.  Would he refuse to listen to me when I cried, or deny me the compassionate ear, the receptive shoulder?  Dealbreaker.  Would he tell me that I raise the affair too often?  Fail to look inside himself at what he was lacking and how his own issues led him down that path?  Restrict me from seeking support, prevent me from telling those I needed to, deny me the right to be angry, pick on him when I needed to, or just cry spontaneously in every-day moments becoming embarrassed by my reaction?  All dealbreakers.   I came to realize, as I drove home from the support group, that I have no ONE dealbreaker.  They were ALL dealbreakers.  For me, the dealbreaker was in preventing me the opportunity to be a victim, and to play that out in whatever way I needed to at the time.  I needed my husband to give me complete permission to say, do, seek anything that I needed at any time in the name of supporting me as a victim of his crime (an affair is not a mistake, after all, it is a CRIME against the marriage – thank you Anne Bercht).  If my husband had not allowed me to complete immerse myself in whatever I needed at whatever time, in order to allow me to wallow in my victim role, it would have been a dealbreaker for me.   I needed to be a victim, and I needed  him to honour that need, and to allow me to play that role.  It played out differently from day to day, but I needed it, and he gave me that.

The truth is, my husband completely owned what he did, and never made an issue of me seeking what I needed.  The only “restriction” he ever placed on me was the decision to talk together about who I was going to tell, and to be mutually comfortable with the idea of doing so.  I came to realize that by announcing my husband’s infidelity to anyone who would listen, I was bringing embarrassment to him, and I needed to be careful of who I told.  I had told a few friends, but I haven’t told all of my friends.  There are some couples that we hang out with who have no idea, and would likely be shocked.  I didn’t want to cause my husband pain and suffering, and so I chose to respect his privacy, and we would decide together who “needed to know”.  His parents don’t know.  Our neighbours don’t know.  Many of his colleagues who are close friends don’t know. The good news is that I no longer NEED to tell them, the way I once thought I did.  I don’t need the support anymore.  I do feel, sometimes as though I am living an unauthentic relationship with them, with them not knowing this significant story in our lives, but there are many things we don’t know about one another’s pasts, and we can still be friends.  Maybe some day we will feel the need to tell them, and we will decide that together.

Going forward in my healing, I had to make the choice to continue wallowing in my victim role, feeling sad, helpless, pathetic, sorrowful and pitied, or whether I wanted to stand up, shake off the past, and learn from it with my eyes on the future.  Was I going to be defined by this?  Would this become the headline of my life?  I didn’t want this to be the most defining thing that had ever happened to me.  I didn’t want it to be the most significant (albeit in a bad way) thing that had ever crossed my path.  I wanted to be a victor in my life, not a victim.  I have influence over how my life will turn out, and although I can’t, and could not at the time, control my husband’s behaviour and choices, I do control mine.  I chose to be a victor in my life, and to no longer be defined by this horrible trauma that had been dumped in my lap.

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Was does being a victor look like?  Well, for some of us, it will mean having the courage to leave a spouse who isn’t supportive, and who isn’t remorseful, and who refuses to face his actions.  It will mean harnessing the courage to be on our own for the first time in a long time.  It will mean standing up and starting over. For others, it will mean facing the task of rebuilding our marriage, despite the obstacles that lie ahead, living with the constant reminder in your face, and choosing to fight for something we feel has value left.  For all of us, regardless of whether we keep our marriage or let it go, it will mean finding a new “us”.  Many of us get so caught up in who we are as a spouse, that we forget who we were as a person before we became a couple.  It will mean having two feet solidly on ground, and no longer being lulled into the false sense of security that comes with the belief that “this will never happen to me”.  We now know that that is a lie, and it does not serve us.  Perhaps being a victor is choosing to live our lives to the best we can, with or without the one we married, in the hopes of finding true happiness within ourselves, through activities we enjoy, friendships we cherish, and new skills we want to learn.  Perhaps being a victor just means standing up, after being kicked down by this trauma, or waking up every morning with a willingness to give this day our best shot.  Sometimes we will win at the day, and other days we won’t, but we will have tried.  Maybe that is being a victor.

And so the question:  What is YOUR dealbreaker?

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