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Revenge affairs


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

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

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

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

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

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Words of comfort:18


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The key to my heart: A tale of forgiveness


It is a New Year, a new beginning, a fresh start. How will you write this chapter of your life? You have 365 pages, and today is day 1. What have you done to move your story forward, to propel yourself toward happiness? Are you stuck? Do you feel lost? Or are you in a place of contentment? Do you feel you are settling for what you have, and if so, do you have the courage to reach out and grab that thing that eludes you? Is this your year? Is this the year it finally comes together? Are you ready for the wonderful things that are coming your way? I hope so 🙂

As 2012 drew to a close, and with the golden rays of 2013 on the horizon, I offered my husband a gift. Not only was it a gift I had never given him, it was a gift I have never given anyone. I forgave him. I’d made the choice to forgive him some time ago, but wanted to tell him in a way that was meaningful to me. At first I thought I wanted fanfare and streamers, fireworks and hoopla. But as it drew closer, I just wanted something quiet, something personal, something warm.

I sat down to write my husband a letter this week. I wanted the letter to represent the emotional journey that I have been on over these past 2 years and 9 months (and let’s not forget the extra 15 days tacked on there either, it has been a long road). I wanted to take him on the journey with me, or at least the Coles Notes version, transport him briefly through the experiences that I have had in healing, and the ways in which he has helped me to heal. I wanted to thank him for all that he has done, for being a good man and for always putting my need for support above his need for shelter, for listening, for answering, for sitting in the shit with me (and this blog documents that there has been a lot of shit). I wanted to share my appreciation for all that he has done in this journey, and to convey to him that he has been my hero. I sat down, and slowly started to write, and when I was done, I had the following letter, which I am publishing for you all to read, which was presented to him last night.

One thousand and twenty days ago, you held my heart in your hands and crushed it, slowly suffocating the life out of me. As I sat there across from you on the sofa, trying to comfort you because you were crying, you pushed me away, and told me that you needed to tell me something. You told me that I deserve to live my life with full knowledge and awareness, and that I hadn’t been doing that. You then proceeded to tell me that my deepest fears were true, and that you were in a relationship with another woman, and had been for some time. As my stomach hit the floor and the room started to spin, you told me that she was pregnant with your baby. The floor fell from beneath my feet, and I stood paralyzed on what was left of the small bit of earth that I was perched upon.

The man I thought I knew stood before me, but he was gone. His familiar gaze now gave way to empty eyes that stood emotionless in front of me. I allowed the words to penetrate, but I could not respond. I felt completely paralyzed. I just sat there and listened to you, and for the first time in my life, I wasn’t sure whether I was real or not, whether I was in a dream, or whether I had just died. The truth is, a huge part of me died that day, and that part was the part I call “us”. “We” were no more. We were just “you” and “me”, because the safety and sanctuary that was “us” had just been violated and torn apart. It lay there, broken, hardly recognizable, and the only thing I wanted was to put it back together again. The only thing I wanted was for you to tell me that you were kidding, that it was some prank, to shake me awake. I wasn’t asleep, and you weren’t kidding, and this was to become my new reality.

When I awoke the next morning, for a fraction of a moment, I was certain I had dreamt it, and felt a lightness I can’t explain. It was like nirvana, but then I remembered that you were not with me in bed, and it had not been a dream, and that moment of serenity imploded. I woke up to the broken reality that would become my new “normal”. “My husband cheated on me with another woman, and she is having his baby”. The words tasted bitter in my mouth, but they would become my new mantra, repeated daily in my head for months and months and months, and years. I heard it in songs, I saw it on TV, reminders were everywhere. It was a new reality I had not invited, but which I was now forced to contend with. The phrase “life isn’t fair” suddenly had a personal meaning. I wasn’t sure what I had done in my life to deserve it. Was it karma paying me back for some horrible misdeed? Was I simply a cosmic collateral damage in the universe? Was I a bad wife? Had I gained to much weight? Was I no longer attractive? Had I “lost it”, and by “it”, I mean everything you used to find of value in me? Why was she chosen? Why was she better than me? Why did you pick her? Why had you done this to me? Why was I now having to pay the price for your bad decisions? Was I unlovable? Was I unworthy of being loved the way I needed to be?

As I spent my days dragging along the floor behind me a drawstring bag, carrying what was left of my self-esteem, I was inundated with hurtful emails from the woman who claimed to be so caring and understanding, so warm and personable. She took what remained of my self esteem, and held it tightly in a vice grip, dipping each piece of what remained into the acid that came through her words. Her words confirming my deepest fears: “I am ugly to him, I am fat to him, he laughs at me, he chose her, he is only staying for the kids, he never loved me…” She hand-plucked each one with deft precision. It’s as if she had lived inside my head, and knew exactly which buttons to push, and she pushed them with a satisfying and demonic enjoyment, her every move designed to wedge the knife deeper into the still bleeding wound. And when it would seem that she hadn’t done enough, she went in for the kill: She told me that due to words that I had spoken, due to action I had taken, that she had made the decision to keep the baby. She took the worst possible outcome (having the baby), and made it the result of something *I* had done, as if it was decided by me. No, instead it was to be my punishment for having fought for my marriage. I either lose my husband to her, or I keep my husband, whose love I don’t even trust anymore, he gains a daughter, and I gain a 22-year child support sentence. It was the ultimate lose-lose, and I felt like she held all the cards. I was broken, and death seemed more palatable.

Although I had my suspicions that something was wrong, I trusted you, and felt you would tell me if anything was really wrong. When you assured me everything was fine, I allowed your words to quench the fears I had, and the slate was wiped clean each time. The trust I had in you far overcame any fears, and I knew I could just trust, and I did just that.

I never snooped in your emails, and I never checked on your phone calls. I didn’t monitor your texts, and I didn’t have you followed. I had no reason to doubt what you were telling me. I didn’t have to investigate anything on my own, because you summoned the courage to tell me, and for that I am thankful. Although you do say that you were pressured to tell me, and had no intention of ever telling me, and were only doing so out of duress, I can tell you that I would have fared far worse had I learned it from her, so I thank you for telling me quietly, in the privacy of our own home, far away from her evil. Thank you for not letting me find out any other way. Thank you for being a man, and telling me to my face, despite the shame that such a moment brought to you. It is a shame that I can’t even imagine, and something that I would not have had the strength to do, had the situation been reversed. Thank you for being strong enough to do the right thing.

In the weeks that followed, you attended marital counseling with me. You attended regular weekly sessions, and faced head-on the shameful situation of having your mistakes placed on the table for open commentary and evaluation. You watched me cry and break down, witnessing firsthand the carnage that you created in the one you professed to love and protect. But you kept coming, and didn’t complain. You didn’t back down, you didn’t refuse, and you didn’t stop.

You took the time to look deep inside of yourself and your situation at the time, with the guidance of our counselor with a desire to learn what had led you there. Thank you for seeing the possibility of there having been a lack of something within you, something broken, something that needed mending. Although I do own my share of any marital breakdown that resulted in your inability to feel that you could come to me with your feelings, I also understand that your decision to have an affair was yours alone, and wasn’t something you did as a result of me, or our marriage. You had plenty of healthier alternatives to deal with your situation, but made a bad choice. I don’t think it makes you a bad person, and I don’t define you by it. Thank you for trying to find what it was within you that enabled this situation, no matter how painful, and for having the strength to examine it. Thank you for being strong enough.

You listened to me gripe and complain incessantly. You watched me hurt, and you listened to me ask the same questions over and over again. You answered them honestly, whenever there was an answer, and struggled to give me comfort, even in times when there wasn’t an answer to give. You placed all of your cards face up on the table, and gave me the truth at the speed at which I needed to hear it, not at the speed at which you were willing to face it. You followed my lead and proceeded at my pace, even when it was uncomfortable. Thank you.

You allowed me to start writing a blog to express my feelings, in the hopes that publically sharing it, that I might gain support from objective others, and also possibly help others in the process. You didn’t stop me from making public our struggle, and I agreed to protect our anonymity. Writing the blog has been a great triumph for me, is something that I enjoy, and which has brought me a great deal of support. It has also helped others. Thank you for giving it your support, and for being a faithful reader, and my first subscriber.

You never made it my fault. You didn’t blame me, or equate any of my inadequacies with your choice. You didn’t deprive me of support, and never denied me the opportunity to talk about it when I needed to. The door was always open, and you always made room for me, and you didn’t shut the door on me, or tell me I was raising “the affair” too often, was asking too many questions, or was being “unreasonable”. You tolerated my teasing and rubbing your nose in it, when I felt I needed some “payback”, and you took it without anger or disdain. Thank you for not retaliating and allowing me this momentary feeling of satisfaction. I sometimes needed it.

You allowed me to tell certain friends about the affair, and gain support from them, even though them knowing was embarrassing to you, and shone a light on your shame. You put my need for support above your need for secrecy, and I thank you.

You willingly attended the “Healing from Affairs” weekend with Anne and Brian, and never once questioned the purpose or need, nor the cost. You made the arrangements, attended, were a full and willing participant, and enjoyed a weekend that brought us closer together and for which I will be forever grateful.

You allowed me to attend the “Take your life back” seminar with Anne and Brian last month in November, taking charge of the kids to allow me to experience a weekend with other betrayed spouses, and the healing that comes from that. You didn’t stop me, you didn’t suggest against it, and you made it easy for me to attend without guilt. Thank you for that support, and for that gift. It, combined with the previous seminar, the learning and the introspection has helped to bring me to the place I am today in my healing, coupled with your support and care. Thank you.

Thank you for helping me to heal, and for acting as my healer in this journey, taking on the weight of my load when I didn’t think I could do it anymore, despite also having your own load to carry. Thank your for your patience, and for never asking me to “move on”, or “get over it already”. You accepted the repercussions of your actions as a burden you were willing to bear as a result of your actions, and you allowed me to do, say, or feel whatever was necessary, as a result, without making me feel stifled, or stupid, or judged. Thank you.

Throughout this journey, you have proven to be my hero. You have tackled situations that I don’t feel that I would have had the opportunity to tackle if I had been the one who had the affair. You have graciously stepped into the shameful places you needed to go. I know that I would not have had the ability to tolerate the constant nose-rubbing, the shame, the embarrassment and the constant exposure of my errors. You did, and for that, I recognize you as the pivotal reason for my healing, and the biggest force, outside of myself, that allowed me to heal in the way that I have.

I now have greater insight into how your affair came to be, and I no longer wish to hold it over your head, or to make you feel remorseful, or guilty. I know that you are remorseful, and I know that this has been your life’s biggest tragedy. It has been mine as well. Instead, I want to help heal you also, and move forward from this tragedy together.

When we first sat with our marital therapist, at our first marital therapy appointment, he told me that the end goal of affair recovery was to seek and grant forgiveness, and that forgiveness could only ever be considered once I felt as though you had stood in my shoes. I remember feeling such torment at the idea that I was to be expected to forgive you. “Forgiveness” was not the F-word that I had in mind, and wasn’t something I was prepared to consider. Last spring, at the end of the seminar with Anne and Brian, you were asked to write a letter, asking for forgiveness. I appreciated the letter, its heartfelt contents, and your genuine request for forgiveness, but I simply couldn’t grant it. I felt badly, like I was expected to. I wanted to, but simply couldn’t. I loved that weekend, and the feeling of togetherness that it helped to reinforce, and I did not want to forgive you simply because you had asked me to, or to comply with the programming of a seminar.

In the weeks that followed, I didn’t want to forgive you simply because I was running on a “post-seminar high” or trapped within the memories of that weekend. Instead, I hoped that the moment that I offered you forgiveness would be more genuine, and coming more from inside of me, not because you were asking, and not because you were programmed to request it. It needed to be real, and it needed to be heartfelt and pure, and it needed to come from me.

I was never ready to forgive you because of what I thought “forgiveness” meant. I always thought that forgiveness was the act of ‘excusing’ someone for what they had done. I thought that it meant ‘condoning’ someone’s actions, and finding something ‘acceptable’ in those actions. I thought that it meant ‘pardoning’ them from their responsibility, and telling them that what they had done was “alright”. I could never come to a place where I believed any of that to be true, and I felt that to ask me to forgive was to deny me my right to be angry, to feel betrayed and to claim that someone had wronged me. I thought that forgiving meant that I could no longer claim to have been betrayed, or own that, and that it took the value of what I was feeling away. I owned those feelings and I didn’t want to lose them. They were the expression of my broken heart, and they weren’t ‘wrong”, they weren’t ‘pardonable’, and they certainly weren’t ‘acceptable’. In speaking with other betrayed spouses, and those who have been hurt in other ways, I learned to define my own meaning of forgiveness, and this one felt better. It was to be the definition that I would then strive towards.

Forgiveness, as I now see it, is the act of letting go of the “better than” attitude that I was able to hold over your head because you had had the affair, and I had not. It was the decision to not see myself as a “better spouse” and to let go of the comparison. Being a spouse isn’t a contest to be won, and we aren’t on opposing teams. Forgiveness is the conscious choice to no longer hold your actions over your head, and to no longer engage in behavior that accentuates your shame, or which holds your actions under a microscope with the intention of helping me to feel better at your expense. Forgiveness is the choice to let go of the victim mentality, and to no longer be defined by it. Forgiveness is making the choice to see that you were a man who made a series of bad decisions, but not to see you as a “bad man”.

1020 days ago you broke my heart when you disclosed that you’d been having an affair. 2 years and 9 months, and 14 days ago, my life changed completely, and my reality was irreparably altered. These 145 weeks, these 24,480 hours, these 1,468,000 minutes, these 88,128,000 seconds have been the most painful, but also the most transformative of my life.

I do not condone what you did. I do not accept what you did. I do not pardon what you did. We both know that if you should find yourself on this path in the future, that the outcome will look very different from this. But, I trust with every fiber in my being that we won’t find ourselves in this place again. I trust that you will talk with me about issues which render us vulnerable, and that we will work towards fortifying our relationship and making the necessary steps towards keeping our union safe from any outside threats. I trust that we will actively work at strengthening our marriage, and no longer fall to the path of least resistance, the easy-way, the “comfortable way”, and I agree to work outside of my comfort zone and work at the ways that I can be a better spouse to you, going forward.

And so this New Years, 1020 days after you broke my heart, I find it mended. It will always hold the scars, but you have helped me heal in a way I didn’t think would be possible 1020 days ago. I thank you for being my hero in this, and I would like to offer you my forgiveness.

To honour this step, I wanted to offer you something as a symbol of forgiveness, so that you could carry something with you as a reminder of our story, and where we are. I tried for weeks to determine what that would be, but then realized that it was too personal a choice, and you needed to be the one to make it. I will let you decide what you would like that to be, if anything at all. For me, I purchased a Pandora charm for my bracelet: a heart shaped lock with a small golden key. This is highly personal for me, and symbolic of where we stand because 1020 days after our tragedy began, you once again hold the key to my heart. I love you.

Welcome to my new beginning.

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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.

A wife’s double standard


Comments left recently on the blog, in response to some blog posts that I have made, have shown me that a double standard exists between wives and a husband’s other woman.

Many comments made recently have alluded to the fact that me, as a betrayed spouse, have no reason to be angry with the other woman. I am told that my anger is displaced and misdirected. I am told that instead of being angry with the other woman, I should be directing my anger towards my husband, as if I have not already done so.

So, what I want to understand is why is it okay, in so many situations, for the other woman to be so angry at the betrayed wife? Why, for example, is the other woman in my situation so bitter and angry towards me? Most of her anger throughout this 2 1/2 year ordeal has been directed at me. She has written things in emails, designed especially for me to read. She has hidden false details of their relationship in legal documents, designed for me to find, intended to cause me harm. For example, my husband never told his affair partner that he loved her. However, in court documents, she would find ways of cloaking these comments between existing lines of text, saying things like, “and when he told me that he loved me so often,…” She knows they are false, and she also knows that my husband will see them as false. What she is banking on, however, is that I will read them and feel hurt, question myself, question my self-worth, and ultimately do more damage to me. That is her plan. She isn’t trying to persuade my husband to see a reality that never was, Because she knows that he too was present, and he will remember the details as they were also. What she’s banking on is that I, someone he wasn’t there, will not know the real truth, and will start to question my husband’s integrity further, creating more uneasiness in our marriage.

When the other woman decided to call the police, to claim harassment and stalking, she didn’t do so against my husband, she did so against me. When the other woman had to disclose the location of her daughter’s daycare, in court documents, so that my husband could pay 95% of the costs to the appropriate location, she made sure to add in bold letters, that she did not want the location of the daycare revealed to me, as she feared for her personal safety, alluding to the fact that I mentally unstable, a stalker, and threat. Further actions to cause other people, including lawyers, to believe that I, the betrayed spouse, am the crazy one. Another attack, not against my husband, but against me.

When the other woman was asked to provide proof of school attendance for herself, in order to justify the day care expenses that my husband was required to incur, She sent copies of her school schedule, purposely blackening out her student number, indicating that she didn’t feel comfortable with me having access to this information, because she felt I was psychotic, and would cause her harm or distress through use of her student number. Funny, never once expressed concern about my has been having this information, nor the address of the daycare where his child is looked after, only me.

Prior to ever wanting a restraining order against my husband, she first want a restraining order placed against me. Prior to entering the hospital to give birth to her child, she mentioned feeling uncomfortable with me, afraid for her child’s safety, and her own.

All of this causes me to ask the question “why is she so angry with me, instead of my husband?”

The answer to that, I think, would be quite simple. She didn’t get what she wanted. She wanted my husband. She lost. In her mind, the only thing standing between her and my husband having a lifetime together, with me. In her mind, it’s as if I walked into their union, and tore them apart, when in reality, that’s exactly what she attempted to do to me. Nice double standard.

I try very hard to see everyone’s perspective in this mess. Inasmuch as I do not want to enter the mind of the other woman, sometimes I feel it is necessary in order to gain perspective. As I mentioned in my last post a couple of days ago, I recently went through some of the communications between my husband and his affair partner, having the opportunity to see the way they spoke, the things they said, the way they felt. In reading this material, I discovered that my husband’s affair was not merely sexual, but it was an emotional affair as well. He mentioned to her several times how she was his vacation, his calamity, his source of peace during a chaotic time in his life. Funny, that should have been me. Apparently it wasn’t. He worried when she was upset, he claims, in his emails, to have gotten tears in his eyes, when she expressed sadness or worry, he was excited and elated for her when she had successes. He came to bat for her at work, when her job was in trouble. He expressed deep gratitude when she supported him, and it reads like he wasn’t getting that support anywhere else. When he complemented her sexually, it sounded like all that they had done was novel, him never having experienced it like that before. He made it sound like he was deprived emotionally and sexually. Is it any wonder she later called me “emotionally unavailable and frigid”?This is not simply someone who is having sex with another person, this is someone who cares about the other person. Perhaps a few weeks into their sexual relationship, when the novelty was gone, my husband no longer wished to be in the relationship, and started to feel the stranglehold. However, as his emails and text messages indicate, there was a time when he was very interested, was seeking her out, was complementing her, and was making her feel loved, approved, attractive, valued, and comforted. It is really no wonder she felt they had a future together. I don’t think she concocted this in her own mind, out of psychotic stupidity, but rather, she felt this way because it reflected what she was told. It’s right there on paper.

So, once the relationship was revealed, and my husband decided to stay with me, she saw me as the reason they were no longer together. She didn’t see my husband as having had a change of heart, nor as a liar, or a cheater, or a man who would’ve said anything to have his cake and eat it too. Instead, she saw a man who had professed to care about her deeply, and his actions show the same, until I was in the loop. To be fair, my husband’s email communications did change, prior to my finding out about the affair. He told her he wasn’t interested anymore, he told her he wanted out, he told her that if she chose to have his child, she needed to make her decisions knowing that he would not be involved. It isn’t as though my husband’s intentions, actions, and words were suddenly changed, but that is how she will see it.

So, the double standard that I see here is, “why is it not okay for me to be angry with the other woman, and asked to direct my anger towards my husband, but the same isn’t being asked of the other woman?” Shouldn’t her anger be directed at my husband? Shouldn’t she be angry for having been misled? Shouldn’t she be hurt and furious that the man who professed to care about her, love her, comfort her, value her, has suddenly run back to his wife and children, when it appeared as though he was, at times, prepared to leave them? Wouldn’t anyone in that situation feel confused, betrayed, letdown, angry? So then, once her world came crashing down around her, why not direct her anger at the appropriate source? Why not direct her vitriol towards the person who has truly caused this for her? After all, I didn’t promise her my husband, I didn’t promise to share, I didn’t go back on my word. As I am so often told by these other women, “I owed you nothing”, but in my case, that includes my husband. I didn’t owe her anything. I didn’t come in the middle of her relationship. I didn’t enter on to sacred territory and try to tear them apart. I didn’t do anything. I was completely in the dark. Exactly how I responsible for her unhappiness?

If we ask the betrayed wives to redirect their anger towards their husbands, why don’t we ask the same of these other women who are spending so much time, energy, and resources, trying to tear down the innocent women whose lives they’ve already destroyed?

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Marriage is easy…it just takes love. Right?


I never understood what people meant when they said “marriage takes work”.  What were they talking about?

“If their marriage needs ‘work’, I would think to myself, “then clearly they shouldn’t be together”. 

Marriage doesn’t take work, it takes love.  Or so I USED to think.

My husband and I had the perfect marriage.  We were in love, we adored one another, we were physically and sexually attracted to one another, we enjoyed each other’s company, and more than that, we admired one another.  We each saw in the other, things that we admired and appreciated.  We saw each other as capable and recognized each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  We had perfected the dance of marriage, with each of us compensating for the other, stepping up in the areas where the other was weak, and hanging back, when necessary to let the other shine.   It was a dance perfected over time.  If you had asked either of us, in a candid moment, whether we were happily married, we would have said YES unquestionably.  My husband and I would often comment to each other about how lucky we felt to be together.  While friends and acquaintances appeared to be struggling with their partner, we really weren’t.  We would sit and listen to friends complain, “My wife is so controlling”, or “My husband puts me down”, or “My husband never tells me that he listens to me”.  We would remark how unhappy they seemed, and basked in the thought that we were above them, that our marriage was better.  We were, in essence, impermeable to problems.

Sure, our marriage had its problems like all marriages.  We would fight, and I will admit, I am NOT a good fighter.  Fights send me into “Fight or Flight” mode, and I am a expert at the latter.  I flee.  I run.  I hide.  I then pretend like it’s all better, and plead that we not talk about it anymore.  It passes, and we get back on track. Until next time…

Despite the occasional dispute, we really had no complaints.  We didn’t have money problems, he has always been a good provider, a wonderful father, and an exceptional example in his career.  We would sometimes hear of affairs, and it would further reinforce for us our impermeability.  “Well of course he had an affair”, we would think, “they fight all the time and she is all over him like a wet shirt…he needed his breathing room”, or “I just knew she would find someone else to give her the attention he never gave her”.  We would then make the natural comparison to ourselves, and feel reaffirmed that we were better, stronger, impermeable.   My husband has always told me that he loves me.  He tells me often that I am beautiful, sexy, or ‘hot’.  He complements me on my abilities.  He takes me out for nice dinners, and buys me thoughtful gifts without me having to drop hints.  He knows me very well.   How could a marriage like that suffer an affair?  We were, after all, impermeable.

It was that very belief, that very statement that brought us comfort and security that would later to prove to be our greatest downfall.  We thought we were perfect.  We thought our marriage was better than others.  While we may have been right on that last one, it didn’t mean it was perfect, and that it didn’t require work.  But, what does WORK mean in a marriage?  Counselling?  Learning to fight fair?

The very fact that we thought that we were in a great place and impermeable to this problem is the very reason I never looked for the signs.  It was the very reason I had never educated myself on infidelity, even though both my father, and my husband’s father had both cheated in their respective marriages.  It was the reason that when my husband found himself becoming “friends” with his work colleague, that he didn’t put boundaries in place, talk to me, communicate about his feelings, or even second-guess them,  because we were both living under the assumption that it would NEVER HAPPEN TO US.

It was the mistake of our lives.

25 months into my journey to healing from my husband’s affair, I now know many things:

  • Talking does not mean that ‘communication’ took place
  • I have to learn to be a better listener
  • Men and women need to be aware of what makes them vulnerable to an affair, and to put into place safeguards, the largest of which is to communicate with your spouse
  • Couples need to share complete honesty about their past hurts, their childhood scars, and learn more about each other and what has happened to form them the way that they are
  • No matter how long you have been married, and how many times you have said it in the past, every partner needs to know that they are valued and loved, attractive and invigorating, captivating and irresistible.
  • Couples need to schedule time specifically for the purpose of discussing their marriage.
  • Couples need to use this above mentioned time to discuss the ways in which they will continually try and improve it
  • Couples need to build trust with one another, by meeting and sometimes exceeding the needs of their partner.
  • They need to learn to anticipate these needs, and fulfill them before ever being asked, simply because they know one another well enough.
  • Couples need to be  honest with one another about their feelings INSIDE and OUTSIDE the marriage, including their physical attractions to others
  • Couples need to learn to communicate in a way that ensures that their partner feels 500% convinced that they have been heard, and in a way that validates their feelings.
  • Couples need to learn that sometimes, communication is a one way street, and all you need to do on this particular episode is listen and make your partner feel heard.
  • Couples need to have fun together, and to remember that their partner is a fun person, not just the father/mother of their children, and their spouse, but a person with value as well.

Doing the above takes a lot of work.  It takes time, dedication and a willingness to put it together.  It requires scheduling the time together, setting aside other plans, having uncomfortable discussions, facing their own hangups from childhood which impede them from being the spouse that they need to be in order to create a fully functional ‘whole’.

Marriage is HARD.  It isn’t enough to just love one another.  It takes WORK, and I now know what that work is.  It is a constant checking in, a constant re-evaluation of where you stand, and where you wish to be.  It is a work in progress, with each day offering you a new opportunity to overwrite and re-write the formula for your marriage.  That kind of thing doesn’t just happen, and it won’t just magically fall into your lap.  Couples who have great marriages have them because they put the work in, and they recognize when work is needed.  They didn’t just happen.  They aren’t just “the lucky ones”, because luck has little to do with it. They don’t blindly assume that they are impermeable and they take the steps to protect themselves.  They recognize their faults, and that they aren’t perfect spouses.  But they also take the time to try and grow for one another in ways that help their relationship.

In a sense, I guess for me, the word “partner” has taken on a whole new level of meaning.

The anatomy of an affair


Happy marriages experience affairs. It’s true. Hard to wrap one’s head around, I know. I’ve been there, and shook my head in disbelief too.

Being betrayed by your spouse, someone who is supposed to love, honour and cherish you, is the most significant betrayal of all, and cuts so deeply. Trying to understand an affair with a rational mind is not an easy task, partially because affairs aren’t usually a rational thing.

I would like to recount an experience of mine, if I can, in the aftermath of my affair, something that made me vulnerable to having an affair of my own (No, don’t worry, I didn’t, but the vulnerability was there).

A few weeks after I discovered my husband’s affair, a male friend of mine who was also working as my real estate agent, spent some time with me over coffee. I told him about the affair, and about the child. I guess, in retrospect, I wanted a man’s opinion on why it happened, not from the mouth of my husband, who, at the time, I felt would tell me anything just to clear his name. I wanted someone OBJECTIVE. My admission of something so personal, caused him to also open up to me. He told me that he always found me attractive, and that the first time we’d met, he’d felt something for me. I was flattered. When I didn’t rebuff him for that comment, he took a step further, and told me that he sometimes thinks of me in sexual ways. Again, feeling awkward, I didn’t rebuff him, but I expressed gratitude for him having shared that with me. So he took it another step further…

He ended up sending me a picture of himself naked. He also shared with me the fantasies that he had been having about me. They were pretty graphic. I will admit, it felt very awkward, but also felt so good at the same time. My husband had just cheated on me, so I assumed, as many wives do, that he must not find me attractive, and here is this man, professing his attraction for me, and going out on a limb to send me such a personal communication. I was so flattered, and wanted to spend more time with him, so that I could hear more about how he felt I was attractive. I was drawn in at a time when I needed that kind of attention.

Eventually, he asked me to send a picture of myself as well. I am pretty body-conscious, so I wasn’t prepared to provide a naked image of myself, nor did I think it was appropriate. I knew that I was married, and that my husband wouldn’t approve. But I was also angry with him, and wanted to get him back for what he has done. I ended up sending this gentleman a picture of my self in my bra and underwear. His reaction was intense. He affirmed once again that I was absolutely stunning, and I was on cloud nine. It felt so good to be appreciated by someone.

I started to feel incredibly guilty, and this had only gone on for a couple of weeks. I have not had sex with him, touched him, or kissed him. I simply basked in the glow if his loving comments. I ended up telling my husband about it, and he was incensed. He ended up calling the man, and asking him to never speak with me again. Suffice it to say, he is no longer our real estate agent 🙂

I say this because, in that moment, I was incredibly vulnerable. I was vulnerable to his advances, the attention, and the affection. I had just been told my husband had slept with another woman, and I desperately needed attention. I sought it in a very destructive way. Looking back, I loved my husband. I was head over heels for my husband. I would never want to do anything to hurt him. And yet, I found myself quickly involved in something that I couldn’t get myself out of, without telling him about it. I needed to tell him, so that he could help me get out.

All of this to say, it’s very easy to slip down a slippery slope, when you’re not feeling good about yourself. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with your spouse. Maybe you are passed up for promotion at work, maybe you feel like you’re in a dead-end job. Maybe you just experienced the death of a parent. Perhaps a new baby has come into your life, and the stress seems insurmountable. You’re looking for an escape, anything to get your mind off of your struggles. You need something new, something fresh, something different, or something completely destructive. This is how affairs happen. It isn’t because you worked pretty enough. It isn’t because you’re not thin enough. It isn’t because you don’t satisfy him. It’s because of something deep within him, that only he knows, that he needs to explore. Individual therapy around this is incredibly helpful.

Learning what the vulnerabilities are, and how to look out for them, is crucial. Learning how to really talk to your spouse, to communicate, to admit when you have an attraction to someone. That last one is a biggie. Most of us think that is a no-no. We’re attracted to someone on the street, and heaven forbid we actually tell our spouse!! I now understand that I was naïve in thinking before that my husband would only ever find me attractive. I have features that my husband finds attractive, and I share some of those features with other women. He’s naturally going to find them attractive as well. But it’s being able to admit that one find it attractive and someone else, and talking to your spouse about it. If that person works with you, putting up safeguards to prevent yourself from taking it a step further. Having knowledge of your vulnerabilities, allows you to protect yourself from yourself.

We are ALL vulnerable to an affair. Affairs happen in good marriages, and to good people. You don’t see them coming, the slope is slippery and gradual, and before you know it, the moral compass that has kept you on track, suddenly slides a little to one side. You don’t even know that it’s moved. You see what you are doing as OK because ________ (add your own justification here). The change is so gradual you don’t see it, like someone losing weight slowly over time. Before you know it, you are in an affair, and feeling badly about yourself, stuck, and unsure of how to make it stop without destroying your spouse.

According to Anne & Brian Bercht, there are many factors which render an individual vulnerable to an affair. They fall into several categories: Personal (work, family, self esteem, sex life), Marital (bad communication, money, childrearing, equality), Environmental (friends, the effects of others, pornography, work situations), and Opportunity factors (opportunities which make an affair more possible).

Although the list has more than 200 of them, and it is growing daily, some of the vulnerabilities include:

Personal:

  • Financial setbacks at work
  • Demotion
  • Workaholism
  • Boredom at work/feeling like this is all you will ever have
  • Feeling small, impotent, or unimportant
  • Loss of parent
  • Recent move to a new neighbourhood
  • Self-conscious about changing body (receding hairline, bulging mid-section)
  • Menopause
  • Medications
  • Boring sex life
  • Flirty personality
  • Change of career
  • Depression
  • Lack of same sex friends
  • Unresolved childhood issues
  • Naive thinking “this will never happen to me, I am not that kind of person, I would see the signs, my co-workers aren’t attractive…”
Marital
  • LAck of openness and communication
  • Feel unheard
  • Unresolved conflicts
  • Unloved
  • Lack of spousal support
  • Unrealistic domestic responsibilities
  • Feel “put down by spouse”
  • Lack of admiration/attention/affection
  • Lack of time together
  • Pornography usage interfering with marital sex
  • Lack of sex
Environmental
  • Interference from others/family into your marriage
  • In-laws or family moving in with you
  • Aging parents and the stress of caregiving
  • Are affairs condoned in the workplace?
  • Married friends who complain about their marriages/sex lives
  • Having friends who are single
  • Working shift work
Opportunity
  • Work closely with opposite sex team members
  • Out of town travel
  • 1 on 1 dinners with opposite sex
  • Work promoting non-spousal events
  • Flirting with others at social events
  • Coaching kids sports teams
  • Holding a position of authority
  • Wearing a uniform to work
  • Having outward signs of financial success
  • Being pursued by the affair partner
Although the above points are far from complete, there are simply too many to list, and I don’t want to reproduce the hard work that has gone into compiling this resource for couples who attend the retreat seminars.
What I didn’t realize was how many vulnerabilities there are to an affair. It is never as simple on the inside as it seems on the outside. Men/women don’t wake up one morning and decide that they are going to risk their marriages for a cheap fling with an easy lay. Instead, they are vulnerable for many of the reasons above, and then an opportunity exists for them. Without talking to their spouse openly about their feelings, their self-esteem, their risky behaviours, etc., they are at high risk of slipping down the slope.
Affairs aren’t always about sex. As women, we equate sex and love and assume he must love her. Not true. Men have sex for sex. Women have sex for love and connection. We can’t judge our husband’s decision to engage in sex by looking through the female lens – that will only lead to hurt when we think that we are the same. We aren’t. We need to look at it the way that THEY did, so that we can understand the intentions, because intentions matter. Affairs may have nothing to do with wanting sex or the quality of the sex they are getting from the OW. In my husband’s case, sex with her wasn’t better, in fact it was meaningless and that felt bad emotionally for him. It was mechanical. She would make strange faces which he found creepy, and his genitals burned when they were done (she is acid….are we surprised? No, there was no STD). Was her vagina tighter than mine? Yes. She’d never had children, so in that way, we were different, but the tight sensations didn’t make up for the intimacy that he was missing. Some men want to feel valued, some want to feel sexy, others want to feel young, others want to feel important to someone, others want to feel dangerous and adventurous in what they have deemed to be a boring life, and some just want reaffirmation that they still “have it”. Many times, it speaks to men lacking something emotionally, and that brings me to a whole new paragraph….
Men are not in touch with their feelings the way that women are. Men are conditioned to not talk about their feelings, and to deny them. They grow up emotionally starved and then we ask them to thrive emotionally. We wouldn’t ask a handicapped person to walk when they can’t. We wouldn’t ask a child to do something that they don’t know HOW to do, and mock them when they fail. We would understand that they are limited, and try to optimize their potential by exercising that muscle. When men aren’t in touch with their feelings, and are suddenly demoted at work, their potency, their impact, their influence are considered null and void. They are nothing. Men are also trained to be good providers, to always move forward, and to climb the ladder of success. To fail, to be fired, to be turned down for a promotion…it makes them feel shameful and embarrassed. Their self esteem is gone. Now, as women, we would say “losing your job says nothing about who you are, or how much you are loved and valued”, but men won’t come to us to gain that insight because they don’t talk about their feelings. The result is a man who feels badly about himself, and has no one to help alter this disastrous thinking for him, so it is absorbed and becomes part of his self-evaluation. All he needs now is an opportunity to meet a woman who is interested, single (or married but looking), who will shower him with compliments about his abilities (something his wife may not be doing because she doesn’t feel she needs to – we take for granted that he knows this, but rarely do we continue to reinforce this for them when life gets in the way). Now the woman who is interested is making him feel good, and he likes feeling good, so he wants to spend more time with her. She flatters him some more, strokes his fractured ego, and before he knows it, he is going out of his way to see her, and not telling you about it. He justifies it by saying that he hasn’t done anything WRONG, so you don’t need to know. He sees no need to mention something so insignificant. Slowly, his moral boundary which used to be firmly planted, with clear demarcations for proper and improper behaviour is shifted two degrees to the left. What was once close to improper is now seen as “ok” because it is justified away. Slowly, it moves further and further away, the slope becoming steeper and steeper, until he does something physically or emotionally that would devastate his wife. He is on the WRONG SIDE of his moral compass, and now can’t get back. What he needed to do was talk to his wife, when he first started feeling an attraction to spending time with her, and ask his wife to help him figure out what he is missing. If he feels supported and they can have these open conversations without her going mental, he can feel safe to tell her, and vice versa. She will help pull his moral compass back, and he won’t cross the line. It is the crucial ability to be able to COMMUNICATE that makes the difference.
My husband is a good man. He is an upstanding gentleman in a position of authority who works closely with members of the opposite sex. While his work schedule does not require travel, he does do shift work. At the time of my husband’s affair, his father had been arrested for having committed an act that he didn’t realize was wrong. As an only child of divorced parents, his same sex parent, with whom he felt most connected, was suddenly at risk of going away to jail. We had a 15 month old child at home, leaving me tired, and likely not as interested in sex. We had two other older children whose programs and schooling took up a great deal of our parental attention. At the time of his affair, he’d come to the realization that this was as good as it was going to get at work. He was bored, unstimulated and unfulfilled. Our children, who are young, prevented us from having a lot of alone time, and by the time we were alone, we were tired. It didn’t bode well for constructive conversation, patience, or understanding. In fact, we spent a lot of time competing over whose life was harder. And then he met HER. She was young, in the same line of work so they were able to have conversations about shared knowledge that I don’t possess, seemingly fun, energetic, and representational of a time in his life that was long gone (university days and all that comes with it, and she was still living that life, and he missed it). She represented fun and freedom (she is single). She praised him. She told him he was smart. She sought his advice in their field and now he was feeling important, and that he was useful (was bored before). She told him he was attractive and praised his physique. In essence, she fed his ego at a time when he needed it. He slipped, and then he justified his actions. Then he felt bad about it, and about himself, so he did it more (it’s like self soothing, I guess, but with a destructive soothing mechanism). When it got to be more than he could bear, guilt-wise, he told me, and asked for my help.
His affair happened, not because he was looking for an affair. Not because of any lack of anything on my part, not because he is a bad man. It happened because the stage was set, and we didn’t even know there was a play 😉

Finding my happy place


I love my husband.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


When I first made the decision that I would stay in our marriage, I felt like a coward.  It seemed as though everyone else was leaving, and why wasn’t I?  Tiger Woods had just been accused of cheating and his wife was leaving him.  Sandra Bullock suggested that Jesse James ‘not let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya’ (she didn’t actually ever say that, for the record).  Acquaintances whom I knew had gone through something similar were all jumping ship, separating, divorcing, making schedules for who would have the kids and when. And there I sat, choosing to stay with the man who had brought me so much heartache.  What was wrong with me?  Why was I so weak of character that I didn’t want to leave despite all signs pointing to the obvious?  Was I flawed?  Marred?  Scarred?  Abusable?

Over time, I’ve come to realize a few things:

1. Good people can make mistakes and still be good people
2. It takes a lot more work to stay and work on a marriage than it does to simply abandon it  and walk away
3. We live in a society where marriage is disposable and people are often too quick to throw it out
4. My responsibility in this lies not only to myself and my well-being, but also to my children and theirs
5.  You can’t change anyone but yourself, but if you find someone willing to change with you, embrace it and travel the road together

My husband isn’t perfect, but he is pretty close -for me, anyway. I saw this today, and thought I would post it for all of those people who have been hurt, deceived, and cheated on, and yet who have chosen to stay.  Many others won’t understand it, and you may get a lot of flack for your choice.  I applaud your courage and strength to face this every day, and do what you can to create something beautiful from the mess that has been dumped upon you.

Since we live in a society where marriage is disposable, I think sometimes, just sometimes, under the right conditions, we can take the crap we’ve been dealt, and work with it to create something better.  Instead of throwing away your marriage, employ the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Reduce: Take steps to reduce the negative forces on your marriage.  In many cases, that force is other people who aren’t, as Shirley Glass calls them, “friends of the marriage”.  If friends, family, or others aren’t supporting your union, and taking steps to cause you to question it, they need to be voted off the island.  Surround yourself only by those who support and cherish your union.  If a co-worker is making inappropriate comments or flirting a little too heavily, she isn’t supporting your union.  She needs to go.  As flattering as it is, she needs to be cut out like a tumour.

Reuse:  Remember the things that brought you together, the things you enjoy and the things you value most about each other.  Focus on those things and try to reintroduce them into your lives as you rebuild it.  Visit the place you fell in love, your first date, where he proposed.  Revisit and reuse those places again, and keep the memories and the feelings of those places alive.  It is sometimes easy to forget, but it is a gift if you can bring yourself to remember and value what you had before the shit hit the fan.

Recycle: Don’t be so quick to throw your marriage out.  Although divorce is at an all-time staggering high, you don’t need to be a lemming and throw yourself off the cliffside just because your friends are doing/have done it.  Reinvent your marriage with what you envision it to be, and take the steps to help your marriage become what you see.  Invest in marital therapy, and do your best to spend quality time together working on your marriage.  Make it a priority, not a side-thought.  Instead of throwing it out, recycle it into something new.  It will look different.  It will feel different.  Nothing recycled ever resembles what it did before.  But you may end up finding out that what you’ve created is a gem.

I love you sweetheart.

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