, 7 years 5 months ago

When recovering from infidelity, emotional flooding will most certainly be a piece to the puzzle. When flooding arises, chaos seems to ensue. If you’ve ever flooded emotionally, you know it’s excruciating. Many describe it as an influx of almost uncontrollable emotions where flight or fight seems to rule the day and our heart rate spikes at least 20%. Attempting to curtail this flooding with a simple “get over it” or “what’s wrong with you” or “lookout, here we go again” ensures certain disaster. It will only intensify heart rates, emotional flooding and instability and the speed in which things like dishes, silverware, books, cell phones or anything else within arm’s reach is thrown by the spouse who is flooding.

Flooding is real. If...

, 7 years 5 months ago

Lately Samantha and I have had several challenges to deal with. Most of them stressful and most of them fear-induced.

One of the most difficult struggles has been the idea of what will happen when this particular event happens, or when this milestone happens. For those struggling with infidelity the idea of being five months down the road, or five years down the road can seem impossible. Many of you are simply trying to get through today and there is not only a spiritual precedent for such thinking but there is a recovery principle of simply living ‘one day at a time.’ I get it, believe me I do.

When we are considering what we’ll have to face and what we’ll have to endure down the road (which we can’t even see sometimes), I’ve...

, 7 years 6 months ago

While doing some recent reading on the parenting of teenagers, I came across an excellent definition for the word compassion. The word compassion comes from the Latin word ‘compati’ which literally means to suffer with or suffer together.

I wonder if we in recovery can’t take a lesson from this etymology and begin to lean in to the pain and hurt we have caused another? I wonder if we are truly suffering with our spouse in their pain and hurt? I can honestly say early on, I wasn’t ‘suffering with’ Samantha at all. I was self-absorbed with my own pain and what my affair had cost me and what my affair had done to my future, my family name, my position, and my destiny. I was also concerned with what I had done to my affair partner and her...

, 7 years 6 months ago

Just the title alone evokes a reaction inside all of us. “How dare anyone accuse me of feeling sorry for myself.”

Early on, I did feel sorry for myself. I felt sorry for my affair partner, my spouse, my kids, the church, you name it. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel sorry for myself. I wallowed in it for a while, but honestly I didn’t have much time to wallow for too long as I had to move our family out of state, find help for us, find a new career and get moving to provide. Believe me, if we had a stockpile of money lying around, I’d have felt sorry for myself and not done anything for a long time. 

I really did want to curl up in the fetal position and cry.

It’s normal that early on when our affair or...

, 7 years 6 months ago

If you’ve been on social media today, you probably know the trailer for the upcoming movie Fifty Shades of Grey has come out in a flurry of illicit excitement. I’m pretty active on social media, and to see and read the comments by so many is a bit humorous, but also frighteningly indicative of a gaping need we have inside our marriages for this sort of eroticism.

For those suffering the effects of infidelity, the idea that this sort of intense sexual excitement can one day be active within the confines of marriage, especially a marriage after infidelity, can seem laughably unrealistic.

I’d like to take today to share with you that it is in fact possible and available.

But it takes work. After all, what’s easy isn’t...

, 7 years 6 months ago

In my own story, the infidelity was almost debilitating to Samantha.  Had our youngest, who was about 5 weeks old, not needed Samantha as much as he did, I’m just not sure she would have gotten out of bed most days.  Yes, my affair was gruesome and altered our lives forever.  The fact that I was intimate both emotionally and physically with my affair partner for over two years was ruthlessly difficult to hear and wrap her mind around. 

I heard this quote from a therapist not too long ago and I’ve found it to be immensely true:   “Most people can forgive the infidelity….it’s the lying they can’t get over.”   What makes recovery impossible is the perpetual drip feeding of new information rather than...

, 7 years 6 months ago

Thank you for your many comments on my previous article “Withdrawing.” I’m glad it helped some of you and always thankful when people go above and beyond and take the time to offer positive, heartfelt feedback.

Continuing with the conversation about communicative dysfunction, I’d like to introduce another form of faulty communication patterns called Finding the Bad Guy. Rick introduced it to us and we both were stunned when he described it, as it painted the exact picture of our communication early on.

We are experts at finding the bad guy. It’s a phrase that describes when couples allow themselves to slip into a pattern of attack-defend, find out who is wrong and at fault and therefore identify the villain. If we can simply find the villain, all will be...

, 7 years 6 months ago

I’m a pretty outspoken individual. I was a communications major in college as well as a pretty ruthless debater at times.  I made my living with my mouth as a pastor and speaker for over 13 years so I can formulate an argument in a heartbeat usually. I would often times speak openly in front of hostile crowds in heated situations, dodging fruit, trash and even spit at times. I’m grateful for all of it.

Samantha would hate to argue with me and hates confrontation. After 19 years of marriage and a ton of help from Rick and other mediums, we’ve learned a thing or two about our communication patterns and styles within our marriage.  Samantha will also attest that she is not the best communicator when it comes to her feelings and...

, 7 years 6 months ago

I was on Twitter today, and read a comment in business which prompted a parallel question. The question is, “What is this situation making of you?” We could substitute the word situation for ‘recovery timeline,’ road to recovery, affair, addiction, or gut wrenching miserable life.. As you and I both know the substitute words are endless, and none of them seem to relieve the pain and trauma.

But we can’t argue with the reality that this ‘situation’ is making something of us. We reserve the right to choose what this will make and is making of us.

Years ago I sat with Rick in his little office and cried like a baby at how difficult and painful my life was. I kept saying how bad this was and how horrible life was and that everything...

, 7 years 6 months ago

The consequences of infidelity often times will back a person into a corner where they feel forced to take matters into their own hands. It’s not uncommon for someone to react in a certain way they never knew they were capable of. The trauma and pain of it all is more than anyone has usually had to encounter in their lives and any other residue of hurt and betrayal is tapped into, forcing even hidden emotions to come to the surface.

The struggle for control permeates both sides of the infidelity and either spouse may feel like they are out of control on any given day. The natural inclination is to take back the power and take back the control by any means necessary. To say it becomes combative is an understatement, and emotions are at an...

, 7 years 7 months ago

At some point, we have to look at the circumstances of our disclosure, exposure, or confession as a rescue. I will tell you, and Samantha will ecstatically echo, that my having to come clean about my affair was in fact one of the greatest rescues in my life. I hope and pray there is not another need to rescue me in that way ever again. I was on a crash course towards hurting more and more people emotionally and wanting more and more control. Samantha was on her own crash course of bitterness and resentment which continued to feed the hopelessness she seemed to be enveloped in.

When I was threatened and had to come clean, I didn’t see it as a rescue. I saw it as a total, colossal failure of incredible proportions. And, sadly, it was that...

, 7 years 7 months ago

If there is one universal emotion associated with infidelity, it has to be sadness to the point of grief. However, second place goes to anger. For some it’s a flooding anger which spills over into inconsolable rage and even hate as we talked about last time. For others, it’s hostility towards their mate, the affair partner and often times themselves for various reasons.  

Anger is a part of life. It can be used as a defense mechanism when danger is close, or it can be a manifestation of love and concern which prompts anger to be part of the defending process of a loved one. A deeper exploration reveals that anger is almost always a secondary emotion and is actually rooted in being hurt, violated or betrayed. In infidelity’s case,...

, 7 years 7 months ago

Webster’s dictionary defines hate as:

intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury

When Samantha and I share at speaking engagements, she almost always shares about how she really found herself hating me early in the recovery process. (I make sure she says that too, since so many betrayed female spouses attest to feeling the same ‘temporary’ hatred towards their mates.) I don’t remember her ever saying that to me, but when she shared her story for the first time on the site, she stated emphatically that she felt that way. I was healthy enough to not have it shake me the way it would have early on if I had heard that, but I really did understand what she was saying.

I had...

, 7 years 7 months ago

Initially, when infidelity is discovered, life is thrown upside down. Jobs and careers are sometimes lost, families are rocked like never before, children are disoriented, the trauma ensues and all you’ve ever known seems a million miles away. It’s in many ways just like death, although there are wilful choices involved which make infidelity worse. It’s like leaving all you’ve ever known or understood and being launched suddenly into the wilderness of insecurity, uncertainty and disillusionment - without a map, no water, no food, and like you’re about to suffocate every step you take.

In this wilderness there are beasts that roam throughout the territory as well. Whether it is beasts of outright rage or hopelessness, or the best of...

, 7 years 7 months ago

“The affair is just a symptom of deeper issues.”

I’ve heard that statement about a thousand times, and I’ve only heard it from the unfaithful spouse, never the betrayed spouse. I’ve heard it so many times that when I’m working with a couple now and I hear the unfaithful say it, I almost laugh out loud at it, as I know what’s coming before they finish the sentence.

The reality is it just may be that: a symptom of deeper issues. The problem is, it’s more times than not, far deeper issues within the unfaithful spouse, not the betrayed spouse or the marriage.

We have affairs because we are unhealthy and do not handle our marital or personal issues the right way, and give ourselves to another person (or one night stands, or...

, 7 years 7 months ago

Early on in recovery, life is simple to describe: chaotic. Emotions are all over the map, wounds are fresh and open, and vulnerability is at an all-time high. The slightest conversation can turn toxic in one-two hundredth of a second. Trying to find any form of stability seems next to impossible. One day things seem hopeful and peaceful and everyone seems amicable. The next day, anger and flooding take hold and the future of the entire marriage and family seems at risk.

It’s enough to push either spouse over the edge. It’s much easier to wallow in despair and hopelessness than it is to believe that somehow things are going to be OK.

Our stability early on was our kids. Yes, I was a pastor, but I couldn’t find God anywhere it...

, 7 years 7 months ago

When Rick told Samantha, “You don’t need trust to move forward, you need safety,” Samantha was stunned. She hadn’t heard that from anyone and it was a bit of a foreign concept to her. After all, I had blown apart any fabric of trust she once had in me. After a two year affair, endless amounts of attempts to cover it up, and a horrid lifestyle to boot, trust was obliterated.

One of the only friends I had left even said to me, “I certainly don’t trust you, but I love you.”

Samantha certainly didn’t trust me, and wasn’t sure she even loved me anymore either.

But Rick had the boldness and brilliance to say “You don’t need trust to move forward, you need safety.”

Safety is the process by which couples can gain ground...

, 7 years 7 months ago

Lately things have been rather challenging to say the least. There’s been far more frustration and far more disappointment than I care to itemize or re-live. Such is life I know, and anyone reading this blog for perspective and insight will attest to life being less than perfect right now.

Last night Samantha and I were lying down just talking through the day and life and all the recent developments. It struck me to remember how much we’ve come through in our marriage and in our recovery. It grieved me with how easily I can forget all that’s transpired and be paralyzed by fear in an instant. Something inside of me is still painfully fragile. After all we’ve been through, all we’ve survived, all that God has allowed us to overcome and...

, 7 years 8 months ago

Upon disclosure of my affair, I was nowhere near healthy enough to own all of my failures, shortcomings and overall selfishness. Samantha was more than patient with me, although I was still practically paralyzed and stuck in blaming mode to justify my two year affair and endless amount of indiscretions.

As I alluded in the previous blog (Stuffing It Down: Avoidance), we stuffed and avoided conflict left and right. I also blamed Samantha for my affair and for what I perceived as perpetually rejecting me.  My blaming mentality was more of a way that I handled the conflict internally, and though I had several discussions with my affair partner...

, 7 years 8 months ago

It’s been 8 years since “D-Day.” (disclosure)  It’s not uncommon that when I’m talking to a couple in crisis or sharing my story, someone will eventually ask me one of the following questions: “Is it really that good, I mean, doesn’t she hold it over your head?” “Aren’t you still a doormat?” “Do you ever really get over it?” “Are you still glad you saved your marriage?” “Was it really worth it?”

Yes.  I’m thrilled we saved our marriage.  She does NOT hold it over my head.  It’s very good, better than I ever thought imaginable.  You’re never really ‘over it’ in some cavalier, ‘pretend it never happened’ kind of way.  Although by the 2nd year we had gained so much momentum in recovery, we knew we were never going back and we were going to...

, 7 years 8 months ago

For years in my marriage, I was a bit of a bully.  I would push Samantha to do things, or use manipulative tactics to get her to do what was part of my agenda.  I’d also bully her into doing what I felt was best for our family, our marriage, or our finances.   

When my affair was exposed much of the bullying stopped, though only temporarily.  I still reverted back to old ways of trying to hurry her (i.e. bully her) into healing faster, getting over it, stop talking about it or fixating on every small detail.  I figured my ability to persuade her would get her to move quickly, but she didn’t.  She wanted to separate and then see what would come of things after she had a chance to clear her head.

For once, Samantha decided it was time to...

, 7 years 8 months ago

Almost 20 years of marriage has taught Samantha and me that we are both stuffers. We both hate conflict for different reasons and are avoiders. I hate conflict because I really just want life to be free flowing and I have enough stress to manage in life with bills, kids and responsibilities. Samantha hates conflict because it isn’t her forte, and stirs within her feelings of insecurity.  

I’m quite sure the beginning stages of my moral failure was directly due to Samantha and I stuffing down our needs, desires and overall feelings in marriage and in life. Samantha and I were each facing our own issues and inadequacies, and we both were busy making a living and raising a family. From hurt feelings, misunderstandings, judgments and...

, 7 years 8 months ago

The interesting thing about blaming your spouse for your affair or addiction is how it is so empowering.  When you blame your spouse, you take any and all pressure off yourself and lay the fault on your spouse and their actions or inactions. It empowers you to believe, “I need to get my needs met.  I mean, shoot, my spouse doesn’t seem to care about my sexual needs,” or “She/He’s never happy anyway. I’m one big failure to them and if they would do their job, I would do my job. So you know what, I might as well get my needs met and be happy.”  

Blaming your spouse for your affair simply empowers the dysfunction and self-deception inside you.  It removes any personal responsibility for your actions and keeps you an...

, 7 years 8 months ago

Part of the “why” of my affair (see earlier blog post) was craving the applause of others. I was surrounded by a crowd of people, most of whom adored me and thought I was the greatest thing since sliced bread. You could say I was addicted to the applause of the congregation and people around me, as well as my affair partner.

At home however, I felt like a 4th kid. Samantha has come to grips with this treatment so this post isn’t about how she failed to do her duty.

It’s more about how we as men, and as women as well, crave applause. I was celebrated everywhere I went. I had worked hard to earn the admonition and the celebration of a sea of people.

The problem was, it was seductive. I had won their devotion,...

, 7 years 8 months ago

So often, a spouse feels forced to make a decision right now on what to do. If you’re a betrayed spouse, it can feel like you need to know what to do right now. If you’re an unfaithful spouse, you can feel overwhelmed and pressured with thoughts of “this is what you need to do, right now.”

As any of you know, once friends, family, and surrounding relationships find out about the situation, there is usually no shortage of people who are willing to give advice and tell you what to do.

Everyone knows what they will do when infidelity happens, until it actually happens and kids are involved, ten or twenty years of marriage involved, futures are at stake and actual lives are in the balance. Then, what was a sure deal breaker is hesitantly reevaluated.

I often tell...

, 7 years 8 months ago

Why did he do it? Why did she do it? What made them risk their lives and their family for such a stupid rush? What could propel them to risk it all, for some tramp or some prostitute? Why did they affair-down? Just how deep does the dysfunction and/or addiction really go?

I’ve talked to many who have spent months and years, several years actually, trying to find the ‘why’ of the affair(s). From numerous visits to therapists, counselors, pastors, and friends, to endless books, seminars, and retreats, the ‘why’ of it all is a quest all betrayed spouses are on.

The good news is: there is a why. There is probably more than one.

The bad news is: it will take the right kind of process to discover what it is.

The worse...

, 7 years 8 months ago

The beginning stages of recovery after what we call “D Day” (discovery day) are touchy at best.  The shock and awe of it all is more than you can fathom unless you’re in the middle of it now, or have passed through its borders. 

When Samantha and I went through it, it was nothing less than a whirlwind where our entire lives were turned upside down.  While not everyone experiences that sort of public upheaval financially or emotionally, it in no way discounts the overwhelming disarray that the first few days, weeks or months carry.   

What are we going to do?  What about the kids?  Is there any hope?   Why don’t they get it?  Is it really over?  Each question carries with...

, 7 years 9 months ago

The flow of recovery outside of any pathway or established curriculum is usually chaos, and even within those proven pathways are significant wind changes. The up’s the down’s, the back and forth, the uncertainty of what is going on behind the scenes is enough to push you to want to quit, only about every other day. It really does produce a chaotic uncertainty about what each day will look like, or each weekend with the kids will or won’t look like. It may also paint a picture of what the impending separation or divorce will one day feel like and look like.

Usually, when someone wants to interrupt the chaos of it all, unless there is a strategy involved, it’s a stubborn move of desperation. It typically is something along the lines of...

, 7 years 9 months ago

Last week we discussed why “They Can’t Hear You,” but this week I’d like to continue the discussion and touch on why they WON’T hear you.

Fact is, your spouse will hear your emotion, but they will not hear your heart or your motives or in some cases even your contrition.

For many unfaithful, they justify their affair by lying to themselves reinforcing the thought that they had an affair because their spouse was disapproving, never happy, unsexual and unable to be pleased. What happens next is a huge pitfall for many, and is avoidable but not without a strategy.

Typically the unfaithful spouse has had to employ some mechanisms to cope with their behavior and justify their affair to themselves, their spouse, and even others...

, 7 years 9 months ago

It’s a daily comment I hear from both spouse’s on both sides of the infidelity:  “They won’t hear anything I say.” “They just don’t get it.”  “They don’t respond to anything I say.”

In reality, your spouse can’t hear what you’re saying. They may not WANT to hear you, but fact is, objectivity is lost, they have tuned you out and you’ve probably become noise to them.

If you’ve been married for any length of time, you have a lens that you see each other through from all the years of marriage prior to the affair.  That lens is thick and when you’re talking, your spouse is seeing you and hearing you through that lens of past behavior, previous actions, hurts, wounds, and resentment. If you’re the unfaithful and you’re trying to get your spouse to hear you,...