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Rebuilding Trust after an Affair: A guide for the Wayward Spouse


Trust is nothing more than ‘proven behavior over time’.  When an affair devastates a marriage, trust is completely broken.  How do you go about restoring trust in the aftermath of one of the greatest devastations a person can inflict?

First and foremost, if you are going to confess an affair to your spouse, you might as well tell him/her the ENTIRE truth.  I told my husband in the wake of the discovery of his affair that I wanted all of the information on the table.  I wanted to know who, when, where, how often, what, and most of all, WHY.  That last one was the one that took the longest time to unravel, and truth be told, it isn’t often one that the wayward spouse even knows the answer to….until they do the work involved in uncovering what made them seek a relationship outside of their marriage, and that takes time, introspection, and therapy.

The most important thing for me, in the initial days, was the reassurance that I wasn’t going to be knocked off of my feet again.  I lost all footing when he confessed his affair.  I hated the feeling of helplessness that brought, and I reasoned that I would rather know the truth, no matter how devastating, in one fell swoop than receive the truth in small doses, each time being knocked to the floor.  I reasoned I was already on the floor, you might as well throw it all at me, because once I get up, I don’t want to be knocked over again.  So, you may as well give your spouse what they need to know, if you are even going to admit to your wrongdoings.  There is no point in half-way.   Either you tell them, or you don’t.  Obviously, it is better if you do, but my point is simply that trickle-truth (truth that trickles in slowly, one drip at a time) only results in a reduction of trust when you slowly confess to things you earlier denied.  Laying your cards on the table face up, and doing so early will win you major points.

A betrayed spouse is going to have tons of questions.  How many questions s/he has depends on the person.  Some people crave to know every last detail, while others are satisfied with less.  I, for one, wanted ALL of the details.  I didn’t like knowing that my husband had a little window of life that I didn’t have access to, or know about, and I wanted as much information and knowledge of his affair as he had….as she had.  Whether you ask for the gory details earlier in the process or later, remember that you are responsible for the information that you receive.  Do not ask a question that you are not prepared to hear an answer for.  If you can imagine hearing the worst case scenario and you feel incapable of handling that truth, perhaps it is best to wait on that particular question, but table it for another time.  Answering all of the questions that a betrayed spouse has shows honesty and a commitment to the process of healing. Showing patience for his/her constant re-hashing of details, and perhaps even asking the same question again and again is necessary.  We repeat the questions because our brains are trying to synthesize all of the information.  Repetition allows the information to penetrate to an area where we can then understand and deal with its content.  Just like children, it helps us learn to repeat.  It also helps us to test answers against prior responses to gauge truthfulness, but it isn’t USUALLY done on purpose as a test…that is just a side bonus 🙂

Owning your mistake, amidst such shame is not an easy task.  I don’t think I would have the ability to do it.  I am not strong enough of character to manage that, I don’t think.  Having your mistake brought up again and again is hurtful to the one who has betrayed.  Not only because the wayward spouse needs to re-examine his/her flaws under a microscope again and again, but because s/he needs to see his/her spouse struggling with the information, hurting, and trying to piece themselves back together again.  You cannot rush a healing process. It is a process…and it isn’t a straight line.  In fact, some days you won’t remember the last time you took a step forward as it seems each time you do, you take three backwards.  It is frustrating, but stick with it.  Invite the betrayed spouse to ask questions, and be patient with him/her.  For me, asking a lot of questions made me feel needy and burdensome.  I worried that if I asked too many questions, my husband would find me unappealing, and leave me.  Of course, that was when I still believed that the reason he’d had the affair was because I was unappealing in some way and that it had something to do with me. It wasn’t until much later that I learned (through repetition and re-exposure to the idea) that it had NOTHING to do with me.  Be patient.

Actions speak louder than words.  Show your spouse that you are committed to their healing.  Attend marital counselling and DO THE HOMEWORK.  Attend individual counselling also.  Give your spouse password access to your phone, your emails, your text messages and your voicemails.  Give your spouse complete access to check these as they need.  You need to be an open book now, at least for a while.  Don’t be surprised or angry when you feel s/he has looked through your personal communications.  After all, it was your actions that landed you here in the first place, and you haven’t been a stellar example of honesty.  Regain trust by removing all doubts by providing complete and unrestricted access.  Tell your spouse when you will be late, and provide your whereabouts.  Take pictures to prove your plans, if needed.  Your spouse is going to be on hyper alert for a while.  Offer these things before they are requested, it goes a long way towards showing you can be trustworthy.

What you say and what you do are two different things. They should both be the same, but one weighs more than the other.  Words are simply words.  Actions speak. In fact showing us through behaviour will carry more weight than telling us the same thing ten times.  Maybe more.

That brings me to the reason I made this post in the first place.  While standing in the Chinese Theatre in Epcot Centre at Walt Disney World a while back, I came upon this plaque on the wall:

 

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Facebook


I wanted to let all of my readers know that I have just started a page on Facebook devoted to this blog, and this journey. If you are on Facebook, I would like to invite you to like my page which is entitled “Rescuing My Marriage”.

You will notice when you search for that page, that two pages of the same name come up. That’s because I had started one, and then realized that I hadn’t used appropriate capital letters in my title, and attempted to start over, not realizing it would have created the first one if I hadn’t completed before step process. Nonetheless, one of them has followers, the other one has none, and you will obviously want to Like the page that has existing followers.

The page is currently blank, Avitts I have not added any content yet, but will be using the page to advertise new blog posts, to share quotes and words of comfort, to share cartoons which appropriately mock women who choose to engage in this horrid lifestyle.

Please join me on this page, and I look forward to interacting with you there also.

Being the bigger person, and thinking like a man


OK I will be the first to admit it…my fight isn’t with my husband.  My fight is with his whore.  What a lying, conniving, self-centered, entitled piece of shit slutbag.

I feel better.  Thanks.

Over the last few days, 3-4 ladies have popped up on my comments in various posts sharing their stories.  Some have just found out this week, others a few months back, but we all share the same story.  Some dirty ass whore skunk walked into their marriage and tried to get involved with their husbands.  In some cases, the slutbag got herself pregnant (and I use that phraseology on purpose because although it takes two to make a baby, I am quite convinced that many of these woman plan the pregnancy in order to capture the man or at the very least his money in the form of child support).   Now, this post is not about faulty marriages, how these marriages had problems before she came along, etc.   Those posts have their place, and I will be the first to admit that my marriage was not, and is not perfect.  But this post is simply to shed light on, and illuminate the ever-growing trend I am seeing of women PURPOSEFULLY becoming involved with a married man and getting pregnant ON PURPOSE.

What the fuck is wrong with these people?  I don’t even want to call them women, because I think it does all classy women a disservice by sharing title with these trailer trash whores.  These women are sub-human garbage.

I read a note today from a woman who just received a book in the mail from her husband’s mistress.  SEVEN YEARS after the fact, this whore is STILL bent out of shape, and took it upon herself to mail a book to the couple on how to be a good father.  The inscribed note said something to the tune of “the first step in being a good dad is to love your child’s mother”.  Ummm hello??  First of all, sex created that child, not love.  There was no love there.  There was vulnerability + opportunity.  And while you could take the letters in those two words, scramble them, and find the word love in there somewhere, you can also find “loopy”, and “tart”, so there you have it.  This CRAZY psycho, this many years later, has the balls to further infringe on this marriage?  Of course not.  She just wanted the husband to be reminded of her (like the monthly support cheque isn’t enough?), and for the wife to feel her nose being rubbed in the dirt one more time.  These little bitch motives, designed by the mentally deranged are intended solely to cause harm and hurt because the mistress is angry and feels defeated.  Good.   She has been.

I just can’t wrap my brain around it I guess.  I would just as soon walk away from a man I discover is married than to make a complete ass of myself, throwing myself at him, making up stories about myself to make myself appear more appealing than I know myself to be, and resorting to bitch tactics like putting down his wife in order to secure a higher pecking order.  Personally I love knowing that I am enough just as I am.  I don’t have to pretend. I don’t have to keep track of my lies.  I just have to be myself and I am lovable.  How liberating. Personally, I’ve never liked being second best, so I can’t imagine putting myself in a position of being second to anyone.  The weird thing is that these skank whores actually think they are the princess and the prize, and that the wives are the sorry, pitiful, unhappy and miserable creatures that their husband’s are just tolerating.  What are they smoking?   They are so convinced that our lives are unhappy, but as I’ve said before, this framework is probably necessary in order for the female brain to understand why a married man is sleeping with them.  I will recap for those who haven’t read that entry:

Men have an uncanny ability to separate sex and emotion.  One does not require the other and they don’t hinge on each other.  He can be emotional and have it not lead to sex, and he can have sex with no emotion whatsoever.  Sex is merely mechanics and feeling good.  It isn’t about being emotionally connected, soft and fuzzy and warm, accepted, loved or cherished.  It’s about getting your sexual needs met with someone of the opposite sex who has the right plumbing.  She doesn’t have to be pretty even, but if she is – bonus.  Studies show, however, that most men don’t have affairs with women prettier than their wives.  Why, I am not sure, because if you are trading, why not trade up?  Who knows…

So here we have men with their sex island not connected to anything emotional, and then we have a woman whose sex island floats in a sea of emotion.  In fact, she likely can’t have sex unless she feels emotionally connected to the person.  Feeling emotional connection heightens her degree of sexual willingness.  So when a married man is willing to engage in sex with another woman, the other woman automatically assesses the situation with her woman brain: “He wants to have sex with me. He must feel emotionally connected to me.  He must love me”, and upon learning that he is married and trying to understand why he is interested in her if married, she reasons that he must be unhappy at home.  He must not love his wife.  If his attention is turned away from the wife to the mistress, it must mean that his love has also shifted, right?  Wrong.  He still loves his wife.  She is his world.  She is the reason he wakes up in the morning feeling secure and comfortable…but he just wanted a piece of trailer ass because it was available and he was vulnerable.

vulnerability+opportunity = affair

So, why is my fight with the mistress?  My fight was originally with them both.  I immediately came to the aid of my husband in the aftermath of the discovery because she went ape-shit-berzerk.  He needed a rational mind, and she’d had his twisted for months.  Mine at the time wasn’t much better, reeling from the news and subject to the hurricane of emotions in my mind, but I guess I was able to put some of it aside in order to remember that underneath the anger and intense disappointment, someone who mere hours ago I loved more than life itself was hurting, and it was my oath to protect that.  For months she waged a war against me, accusing me of horrible things I had not done, calling the police, emailing my friends and family to reveal the affair and embarrass me.  It wasn’t enough to have an affair with my husband.  It wasn’t enough to get pregnant by him.  She needed to see me weeping and broken on the floor.  I wasn’t going to give her that. Months of torture, me turning a blind eye and forcing my mouth shut, sitting on my hands. She, getting away with it, and even getting a court supported pay check for her whoring.  Wow.  To this day, she has never expressed ANY remorse.  She is too busy defending herself and seeking out more support and money for herself.  Pigs will fly before she ever utters anything close to a remorseful statement and the funny thing is that I would be completely open to hearing it.  It would be healing for me, and i wouldn’t even make it hard for her.  But, I know I won’t get it, and I know she still laughs at me in her mind.  For that reason, she is enemy number one.  My husband continues to try and make amends and do the right thing.  Years of counselling, support, tears, breakdowns, yelling, crying, threatening to leave…and he stands by willing to take ALL of it. He is stronger than I would be if it were reversed, and for me, looking at the two of them, he no longer gets my anger.  She does. She hasn’t stepped up.  She hasn’t made amends.  She won’t even try.  She’s too much of a low life to respect herself enough to do the right thing and admit to having made a grave mistake. Oh no….her ego is too fragile.  It won’t happen.  Instead she will fuel her own fire by creating in her own mind stories about me which are false, and which allow her to feel justified in her continued actions.

For me, I think the hardest thing is watching a woman who has exacted so much pain and suffering on another cash a cheque that we write to her every month.  It is like paying your abuser, rewarding your rapist….its ass backwards!  I watch our account drop on the first of each month, knowing that she is reaping the rewards of OUR hard earned money. For what?  A kid she never wanted?  getting her hair done?  Nails? Lord knows she doesn’t use it for her kid cause she buys second-hand shit for that kid despite getting over 8 times more than the average child support recipient.  Heck, in the two years that she was unemployed following D-day she managed to pay rent, groceries. clothes, gas, insurance, car lease, entertainment, and school tuition for a 2-year undergrad program at a local university….WITH NO JOB TO PAY FOR ANY OF IT AND NO SAVINGS.  Who paid for all that shit?  We did.  Thanks to us, she has a university degree, and was able to go to school because WE were court ordered to pay daycare while mommy got her education.  We paid for her books, for her transit pass, for her gym membership.

Whoring should be a class…it has a high reward in the end if you can snag the right guy.

I am still waiting for my apology.

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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Blogging


I had a chance to tell our marital therapist a few weeks ago about this blog.  He was less than enthusiastic.  His big fear, I suppose, is that by communicating through this blog, I am hiding behind a screen, and not facing my husband to discuss the issues firsthand.  Instead of simply saying “I need to talk to you. I am having a lot of fears and flashbacks this week”, I blog about it, he reads it, and we discuss.  I think as long as the discussion follows, there is no issue. I actually find blogging to be relaxing, and I think it helps me to unclutter my thoughts and feelings.  I also like the support gained from readers, so I hope you will continue to read, share it, pass it on, and link to me.  I will do the same with your blogs if you let me know the URL.

You plant beans…you get beans


This is an expression that has been used in my home for as long as I can remember.  When a child exhibits a behaviour pattern that is just like that of a relative, my parents would exclaim, “you plant beans….you get beans”.   The implication, of course, being that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Now, what I am about to talk about actually isn’t genetics…it is learned behaviours picked up through associating and learning from other people.  It is the argument that scientists call “Nature vs Nurture”.  Do you behave the way that you do because of genetic imprinting, or because of learning it from your environment?

In my childhood home, feelings were not often discussed.  It was almost as if it were a crime to have them.  My mother, despite claiming to be the most understanding, caring, warm and compassionate person in the world, coils away from feelings especially when they are possibly the result of something she may have done.  Her defensiveness was a roadblock to her taking the time to attend to the feelings of others.  Now I should mention that I think she CAN be caring, warm, compassionate, and understanding….to friends and acquaintances – when her ego isn’t at stake.  My father is allergic to emotion.  The emotions he conveys are happiness and anger.  He is pretty good at those two. But, he is very poor at identifying the emotions of others, and certainly doesn’t want to talk about them.

I learned at an early age that it was futile to approach my parents with any emotionally laden information.  Hard to do when you are a highly emotive person.  I also learned that if anyone was going to solve my problems, or attend to my emotional needs, it was going to be me.  I became a highly effective person, capable of solving my own issues, resourceful, efficient, capable.   What this has created, in me, is a person who isn’t used to asking for help, who isn’t comfortable admitting that I can’t fix it myself, and who relies solely on themselves.  I feel like a failure if I need to ask for help.  It feels like a defeat.  Now, I should mention that I don’t apply those same rules to others, and welcome them to come to me when they need help…I am efficient and effective, remember?

In a marriage, when two people come together to mutually support one another, a certain reliance on the other is to be expected.  An attachment forms between you and your spouse, and you come to rely on their for emotional support.  I had never learned to do that very well, I guess, and neither had my husband.  He was raised in a very chaotic environment as an only child.  His father was more consumed with himself – a narcissist.  His mother was unable to attend to emotions, and is one of those “Sweep it under the rug” folks who downplays everything with a smile, and “It will be OK” attitude.  Not very helpful when you have a real problem and require real guidance.  So, we both learned to rely on ourselves.  It was a very functional way to be during childhood and adolescence, but not terribly functional within a marriage.  We would soon realize that.   Our ability to communicate our problems was very limited, and there is no question that if my husband felt as though he could come to me for help, he would have turned towards me, and not away from me.   This was one of those things that shouldn’t have been tackled alone.  He wasn’t prepared, he didn’t see the forest for the trees, and became entangled in something he didn’t even see coming.   It was, in essence, a recipe for disaster.

With parents who didn’t meet my basic emotional needs, and seemed disinterested in general, I grew up feeling unloved.  The attachment I had to my parents was unstable, and I could never be certain that they would come through for me.  As a child, I remember being sent to an overnight camp for a month at the age of 8.  I was homesick, and didn’t want to go.  But, my older brother was going, seemed to love it, and they thought it was a good opportunity.  I was shipped away. I was there for three years before I hit my breaking point, and asked to come home mid-session.  My parents were disappointed, and I suspected that my grandmother, the financier, was upset at the loss she incurred as a result.  A few years later, it was determined that I should attend a private school for higher education.  My grandmother was big on that.  At the age of 13, I started writing entrance exams for the school she had selected for me. and I was accepted.  Once again, I was being sent away.  I never did attend, after putting my foot down and refusing.  I can be pretty stubborn…it’s a self protective thing.

Through therapy, I’ve come to realize that my childhood experiences have created in me a deep fear of abandonment.  I don’t want to be sent away to camp.  I don’t want to be sent away to private school.  I don’t want to be sent away.  I desperately craved an attachment to something permanent and reliable, and I felt unwanted.  That fear has followed me into adulthood, and creeps up from time to time, when I feel vulnerable, when my husband is angry at me, when I think he is going to “send me away” – or leave me.  Obviously, you can see the deep nerve the learning of his affair caused.  He’d abandoned me.  He’d walked away from me.  He’d separated from me.  Our attachment was unstable.  It was like my childhood fears all coming to the surface again.  The one person I’d managed to make a solid attachment to, felt completely loved by, completely secure with – had abandoned me too.  It hurt deeper than I could ever have imagined.  I wanted to recoil into a little ball, and I think I probably did.  Until my self-reliance, effective, reliant self kicked in – and I started researching infidelity online, desperately searching for information on how to cope, what it meant, and if I’d ever be ‘normal’ again.

Your past plays a huge role in your present, and your future.  Who you are today is directly the result of experiences that helped shape and mold you.  Hopefully, those experiences have resulted in positive adaptations and coping strategies, and hopefully you feel loved and supported.  For all of those positive experiences, unfortunately, we all have something that has damaged us inside and that we’ve had to adapt to, work around, grow in spite of.  Some of us have more of those than others.  It’s a matter of taking what you have, learning the most about yourself from the inside out, so that you can work with it, and create the best life for yourself.

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