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A long overdue update


Yesterday I posted a new bog entry, and it was my first in a long time.  For a while, I was writing weekly.  Some weeks, I was writing daily.  Because writing is a great outlet for me, the degree to which I wrote was a clear indication of how much I was actively ‘processing’.

In the wake of the affair discovery, I was consumed with thoughts, fears, worries, self-deprecating beliefs, and struggling to make sense of my new reality.   In the coming months, as I found greater healing, I was able to turn the blog from a place of pain to a place of encouragement and hope for betrayed spouses.   While the comments section of any given post will often find its share of negative comments from OW’s or supporters of OW’s, the feedback has always been generally positive, so I continue to want to post, both to help others through, but also to keep an ongoing diary for myself.  I am also aware that some day, my children are going to be aware of what happened, and may view the contents of this blog.  I am also aware that as a means to understand affairs that produce OC’s (Other Chlidren), that the OW’s daughter may stumble upon this blog (and won’t she get an eyeful of much of the details of her mother’s behavior that has been creatively edited from the story she will have been told about her father,  and the woman who is responsible for depriving her of a father – me.

I haven’t had any cause to update the blog in a while because things have become strangely quiet.   It has been months since we’ve hurt anything major from the OW.  By months, I may very well mean a year or more.  The fact that I don’t actually remember, and can’t accurately tell you when the last time was I consider a credit to how healed I am.  I don’t feel I need to keep copious notes of her troublesome behavior, and I no longer ruminate on her actions to the point where I simply don’t remember.   It’s nice to not remember.  Not remembering, however, doesn’t mean that I forget.  I am reminded constantly of the infidelity of my husband.  It is just a new reality for me that I am now used to.   It has woven itself into the fabric of my life, but I can honestly say that it no longer causes me pain.

For those reading this, whether a new reader or someone who has read the story cover to cover so far, knowing that I am healed and still reminded of the affair may seem disheartening.  If you are in the active chaos of discovery, or in the midst of the pain and sadness, the hurt, the grief or the hopelessness, this comment likely doesn’t bring feelings of hope.  It is unrealistic to think that you will ever be in a time where you just don’t remember or when you aren’t reminded.  The key in the healing, however, is that the reminders and the sudden back-to-conscious-awareness of your spouse’s infidelity don’t need to continue to cause the same hurt and suffering, the same put in your stomach, the same paralysis that they do now.

So how am I reminded still?

As part of my healing, I attended several workshops hosted by my friends Anne and Brian Bercht.   Our friendship grew slowly out of a place of reliance on them to heal me and navigate the journey with me to a place where I am now actively involved on their coaching team, and as a leader for a local support group for betrayed spouses.  Each time I fly across the country to attend a weekend “Take Your Life Back” seminar. I read the stories submitted by the women who are attending (we coaches like to acquaint ourselves with everyone’s story before the weekend starts), and I am given a view back into the place of pain from which they are coming.  I hear the despair in their words, I read the rocky self-esteem, the self-blame, the desperate desire to want a magic bullet, and the desire to know whether they should stay or go.   Each month at our monthly support group meetings in my city, I discuss infidelity, I listen to the stories of the men and women who attend, and I search for encouraging words to help them navigate the journey that I know so well.  As a Pinterest pinner, I have an entire pin board related to inspirational quotes that deal with pain, betrayal and loss.  Each time a new one pops up, I add it to the collection, and am reminded of the club to which I now and forever belong.

But, simply because I am reminded doesn’t mean that I am sad.  It doesn’t mean that I actively hurt.  It just means that I honor the memories of where we have been, and can speak of those events now without the pain attached to them.   It is wonderfully freeing.

This past month, as the ladies who just attended the Phoenix “Take Your Life Back” weekend have been processing their grief and adding their experiences on our private chat room, I’ve come to see how different each person’s journey is, and how individual.  Not everyone experiences hysterical bonding the way I did.   It makes me wonder why some do, and some don’t.   Some people, upon hearing the news of the affair, immediately position themselves for divorce, and the thought of reconciliation doesn’t cross their minds.  For others, their first thought is how to fight for the marriage and get past the pain.  Same crisis, different approaches.  Some people get the truth given to them, others have to find it.  Some have all of the details given when asked, others have to wait for the trickle-truth which is traumatic over and over again each time new details are revealed.  We all have such different journeys, but they all carry the same burden – it hurts like hell…until it no longer does.

None of that to say that I don’t wish it had turned out differently.  I wish my husband hadn’t made the choices he made.  I wish he had found a more constructive outlet for dealing with the pressures he was under, and for filling the void that came as a result of multiple vulnerabilities.

What I wouldn’t change, however, is what I have learned about myself, my husband, and marriage in general.  I just wish I had the ability to receive the gains without the pains.

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Affair proofing your marriage: Reinforcing the marital fortress


It sounds like “too little, too late” to say how to affair proof your marriage. After all, if you are reading this blog, and are interested in infidelity issues, chances are that it is because you have already suffered it. No one reads about, learns about, or cares much about the issues of infidelity until it smacks them in the face. Then, you start reading about all the things you COULD have, and SHOULD have done to affair proof your marriage. Annoying isn’t it? Why don’t marriages come with a manual? Is this what those “marriage preparation” courses teach young couples before marriage? Somehow, I don’t think so, but it would be nice.

OK, so many of us can’t affair proof our marriage in retrospect and alter time to put us back where we were, so that we could use those lessons to prevent our spouse’s affair, but we can put those lessons into place as we go forward. There will ALWAYS be vulnerabilities that make us more prone to an affair in our marriage, and there will always be opportunities that present themselves to us.  As I have mentioned before, an affair happens when the two collide – when vulnerability meets opportunity.  So how does one affair proof a marriage?

Step 1: Identify and be aware of your personal vulnerabilities and those of your spouse.  Know the things that make you vulnerable.  If you aren’t sure what makes you vulnerable to an affair, check out some of the items I’d posted in an earlier post that I linked to in the hyperlink in the paragraph above this one.  New job? Death of a parent? Recent move? Body image?  Raised in a family/culture where infidelity happened?, Work closely with members of opposite sex?, Travel for work?, etc.  These are just a small sampling of the things to consider.  Talk with your spouse about how many vulnerabilities you have, and be open about them.  Keep a tally on how many you have from a list you compile together, and check them over monthly to keep tabs on how you are doing.  Try to reduce the vulnerabilities where you can.

Step 2:  Work to reduce the vulnerabilities in your life that make you prone.

You might be asking, “OK so how do I reduce my vulnerabilities if they are out of my control, or past issues I can no longer correct for?”.  Good point.  You can’t change the fact that you were raised by a parent who was a serial adulterer.  My husband was too.  You can’t change the fact that you are changing jobs and experiencing stress.  You can, however, be AWARE that this change in your life presents a vulnerability that you need to be mindful of.  If you travel for work, perhaps try and cut down on the amount you travel, or arrange to bring your family/spouse when you can.  If you can’t do that, arrange date-calls while you are away to check in with one another.  If you work closely with members of the opposite sex, and frequently need to have lunch meetings with members of the opposite sex, arrange to someone of your gender also present, when possible.  If you can’t, perhaps arrange to lunch somewhere very public, not conducive to chit-chat, once the work has been completed.  The more you can reduce the vulnerablities and be AWARE that they are there, the better you will fare.

The biggest vulnerability of all?

THE BELIEF THAT YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO FALL INTO AN AFFAIR AND THAT YOUR MARRIAGE IS IMMUNE/SAFE FROM INFIDELITY

If you believe the above statement to be true, then you will not have your guard up appropriately, and be constantly patrolling for holes in your marital defence wall.  Now, you might say, “I don’t want to live my days worrying about safeguarding something that I know is strong.  It’s too much work, and focuses my thoughts on something negative that hasn’t even happened.  I’d rather use my energies for things that ARE happening, instead of constantly worrying about something that won’t”.  True….but false.  You know the saying “Marriage is work?”  This is what they meant.  It is a constant evaluation and reevaluation of where you stand together. It is the awareness that as your lives together move and sway, that you sway with them together.  It isn’t blind faith and hope that things will turn out, or that you feel you know yourself and your spouse well enough that you can guarantee an affair won’t happen.  Trust me, this was OUR biggest vulnerability, and we made the mistake of thinking that this was a strength.  It wasn’t.  Falsely believing ourselves immune, we didn’t look at or focus on things to reinforce our marital wall, and as it crumbled, we weren’t even aware, because instead of doing a 360 degree check, we chose only to look out the rosy side of the fortress we were trying to protect.

Step 3: Reassess regularly where you both score on your vulnerability list.  When you find that one of you has increased vulnerabilities, talk about ways to reduce them together.  Add in extra support for one another when one is going through a change of job, a change of life, a loss. Remember to always show care and compassion for your spouse when they are in a dark place, and remind them that you are on their team.  Work together always.

Step 4: Be the reflection your spouse needs

Over the years, and the many many many conversations I’ve had about infidelity, listening to the countless tales of others who have walked this path, I’ve noticed a trend.  Those who have fallen into affairs, did so unexpectedly, and in most cases, did so when someone of the opposite sex provided for them adoration, admiration, compliments, positive reassurance or confidence-boosting commentary.   When you take the time to ask people what pre-dated the affair starting, they will usually tell you that it was something about the way the other person made them FEEL about themselves.  Pumped up, and admired for their unique talents and gifts, someone noticed…someone took the time to let them know that they noticed…someone took the time to tell them it was a wonderful quality…someone else made them feel GOOD.  Brian Bercht of Passionate Life Seminars, said it best when he said “Men have an ego miles and miles wide…and a quarter of an inch thick”.  It needs to be reinforced for both genders.  At the end of the day, we want to know that we are admired by our spouse, that we have qualities that still light them up.  Be the source of light and positive reflectivity your spouse is looking for, and they won’t need to find it elsewhere.

I think it goes without saying, and I don’t need to add a step that you should take time to be with your spouse, and have quality time.  That is assumed, and doesn’t, in my opinion, require its own step. It’s not a step, it’s a given. 🙂

If you think that the desire to not want to cause pain and suffering to a spouse is enough of a deterrent to prevent an affair, you are wrong.  When in the affair, the cheating spouse isn’t even thinking of you, nor the consequences, and if we compare it to other situations, we see that self-fulfilling situations will trump one’s desire to not want to inflict suffering on others.  Teenagers, aware of the risks of STD’s and pregnancy will STILL engage in the behaviour of unprotected sex because:

1.  It feels good to them in the moment

2. They are thinking of the hear and now and not of the future

3. They believe it will never happen to them.

In my next post, I would like to tackle the thought: “How could my spouse do this to me knowing how much it would hurt me”, and “How can s/he claim s/he still loved me despite the affair”.

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.

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