Whether betrayed or unfaithful, one of the biggest struggles for many to overcome is the cold, hard truth that you cannot control your spouse or their behavior.
No matter how passionate I was, or even how proactive I was with my own recovery, I just wasn’t able to make Samantha heal any faster. Sure by doing what I needed to do, and owning my own failures and indiscretions, I did create space for her to heal and move our recovery along. However, there was no successful strategy to get her to hurry up and heal. The best hope I had was to do all I could do to get healthy and then see what happened next. In fact, even when I did all I could do, saw Rick personally, went to an EMS weekend and worked...
It’s very common during the recovery journey, that there will be moments where things seem to go well. Maybe it’s a good conversation, physical intimacy, a good few days, or just better perspective as a whole. You’re grateful for any semblance of momentum.
Then, before you know it, another bad day. Whether it is a reminder, a trigger, new information, someone sees the affair partner, or what seems like a series of a thousand triggers, things go to crap in a heartbeat and we can be feel a set back again. It can seem as though we take two steps forward and thirty seven steps backward and all in the same week or 48 hour period.
It’s short lived momentum, and to this day I’m grateful for it. Early on Samantha and I had more ups...
It’s very typical for a betrayed spouse to feel as though their spouse is not remorseful at all for what they’ve done. Unfortunately, some just aren’t on the front end. They will justify it and to turn the knife in their spouse, they will only blame their betrayed spouse for their affair.
In fact, some are just sorry they got caught.
Their private life has been exposed, their secret love affair has been put on stage for all to see, and they feel like all they wanted was to be happy. It’s a sad commentary on the selfishness and utter blindness we unfaithful spouses walk in for weeks, months and yes, unfortunately years.
I’d caution any betrayed spouse to have accurate expectations when it comes to remorse, grief or...
Infidelity absolutely rips at the seams of self-reliance. I was in fact, one of those people years ago. I believed the adage “If it was to be, it was up to me.” I was a “make it happen” kind of guy indeed. I believed my destiny and the outcome of anything was up to me and my choices and my ability. My self-will factor was off the charts.
Then my infidelity surfaced and my life was ripped apart. One of the biggest struggles of my recovery was absorbing the reality that I was NOT in control of Samantha’s recovery. I was barely in charge of my own recovery due to the fact that I was such a mess mentally, emotionally and even spiritually.
Success in life seduces us into self-reliance and self-sufficiency. When we hit a crisis...
Upon disclosure, I remember struggling to put words to my feelings or to even be able to apprehend Samantha’s feelings.
Initially I was saddened by what my affair had done to Samantha and I was willing to do whatever it took to stay in the same house as my kids. Notice, I wasn’t willing to do whatever it took to stay married to Samantha. I just was not there yet. From the self-deception and disconnection with what I had done to the jaded view I had of Samantha, I just wasn’t thinking clearly. I was thinking somewhat primitively as I was willing to do whatever I could to protect the kids, but in terms of devotion, reconnection, empathy, humility and safety to Samantha, I was a thousand miles away.
I knew I didn’t want to go back...
One of the greatest needs during marital crisis, and especially marital crisis due to infidelity, is objectivity. The case for objectivity is iron clad, as it provides an irreplaceable ingredient for stabilization and understanding.
It’s a pretty fair assumption that much of what you say to your spouse is going to be seen through the filter of the years of history you all have as a couple. There is a lens they will see you through, and that lens is clouded with blame, justification, childhood issues, anger and several other factors. The fact is they just can’t hear you. You’re not the objective one. In their eyes, you’re the one who’s either made them cheat or you’re the cheater. You’re the one who has forced their hand, or has been led to seek affirmation, love and...
I really don’t know if you should save your marriage. It’s not uncommon I’ll hear from betrayed spouses who feel shamed, manipulated or almost pushed into reconciliation due to some religious belief or traditional thought about forgiveness, reconciliation and ‘obeying God.’
The fact is, I wouldn’t tell you to “Go save your marriage.”
If you talk to the staff of Affair Recovery long enough, as well as me, you’ll hear all of them say it’s about “Seeing if the marriage can be saved.” Right now, you probably just don’t know. At the onset of my exposure, I wanted to save the marriage for sure, but mostly for the kids. Samantha genuinely wasn’t sure at all if she wanted to save the marriage, and she was a pastor’s wife...
At some level, this post will be a bit controversial. For some it will strike a chord of agreement, and for others it may cause some grief. I get both sides, but my intention here is to encourage, while also offering insight from someone who has personally gone through infidelity as well as helps those who are currently trying to break free, heal and gain much needed perspective.
Time after time I see a very well intending counselor, pastor or other clergy member attempting to give insight, advice or counsel to those who are going through this nightmare, yet they themselves have never been through it. It certainly doesn’t mean they shouldn’t give encouragement, perspective and support, or even professional insight; however if they have never been through...
Every time I send someone to the site for hope, insight and perspective, eventually I’ll hear from someone, “But you don’t understand, our story is so different……” Or another one is, “Well in your story, he or she was sorry for what they did, my spouse is not.” Or a classic is, “But our story is so much worse.”
While I understand the pain you may be in, those that have poured their heart out here would argue that their story was excruciating in every sense of the word. They would also tell you that though the stories may have some changes and some twists and turns, the fact is, it was the worst for them.
The fact is, many of you are seeing your story right now as you are living through it. The chapter may not be closed yet. Every great story has at least one...
I was studying for a message the other day and stumbled upon a fantastic sermon. I didn’t catch his name, but I heard an analogy that was spot on for crisis and transition in life.
When in the birthing room, there are typically three key individuals in the room: the mother, the baby, and the midwife. In the process of birth, the baby comes to what they call the “point of transition,” or “the point of no return.” The baby is no longer in the womb, and but is not yet in the world. It’s a transition, but it’s a unique place. It’s this backdrop which creates the image of the three key players, or in this case, three stages we go through as a couple or an individual who is trying to heal.
The mother is consumed by the pain. Of course...
How many betrayed spouses have I heard recite their unfaithful spouse’s new mantra, or as some would call it, their “get out of jail free card.” Known lately as the mantra of ambivalence and indifference, “I love you, I’m just not IN LOVE with you,” is one of the most hurtful yet equally ludicrous statements a person can make.
When you claim that you love someone, but are not in love with them, you reveal your immaturity and your deception about what love is. Real live adult love is when you choose to love someone long after the infatuation and child-like fantasy love fades. It’s when you choose to act in the best interest of another and not just yourself. True love is to remain committed to the choice you made years prior when you were...
If you’re like me, you hate transition or change. Actually, I love change when it benefits me, makes me more money, or brings some sort of blessing. What I hate is the time period where you are in-between where you were and where you want to be. It’s miserable, agonizing and will most certainly stretch you for all your worth. As my father-in-law says so well, “It will most certainly test your metal.” Consider the story from the book of Luke below….
22 Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they launched out. 23 But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of...
It’s a very common occurrence, that when a spouse is trying to heal from either their own infidelity or their spouse’s, they try to make decisions about the future. On the front end, there would appear to be many strikes against them. From the nature of the affair, to the length of the affair, to multiple affair partners, to having to work with the affair partner: the issues can be mind boggling. Many still think Samantha is mentally imbalanced for staying with me.
Many times spouses will utter phrases to me like “There’s so much going against us, how will we ever make it?” Or, “Our situation is so different,” and quite usually it’s not, but they are trying to get an idea of what the future will look like. They’re also pondering whether there is a future at all with their...
Of course they are, is the harsh, straightforward answer.
The cold hard truth is, they are in an affair, and they are in their own mind, happier when they are with their affair partner. Most definitely they are comparing you to their affair partner.
However the fact is, you can’t win in this game. It’s destined for failure.
The reason you can’t win is you are competing with a fantasy, and in our own fantasies we get to play God. Both in life and in fantasies we can’t beat an all sovereign God and in the mind of an unfaithful spouse, they are typically captivated by the emotional or sexual component (or ‘hook’) that the affair partner has in them. They play God and design their own euphoria.
To compare a spouse who has other responsibilities and real life...
As I was responding to a comment on my previous blog, I felt the need to bring more clarity to just what is going on in the mind of the unfaithful and what emotions go through their head when thinking of their AP.
Early on, when things are difficult and you both are wading through the insanity of it all, (the fighting, the anger, the venom, the confusion and the chaos) the unfaithful may be thinking of the AP wondering if this marriage can be saved. Things are so rough and so uncertain they may be thinking about how doing the right thing is harder than doing the wrong thing.
Early on, they may be having trouble breaking free from the romance of it all, but that is early on.
As the process gets harder or tougher, they still may have thoughts about them, but they...
The short answer is yes. The longer answer is, yes, because you cannot have a relationship of that magnitude and simply turn it off. It’s a process to break free. It will take strategy for sure and it will take rock solid commitment to the process. There will be ups and there will be downs, as there is when healing from any life changing event. However, it’s more than possible for your spouse to break free from the hold of their AP.
It’s been 8 years since our own F5 tornado touched down in our lives. We call that D Day. For the first 6 months or so post disclosure, I played with my phone almost every day, all day out of habit. My AP and I texted all day every day and life after the affair was radically different. Samantha was not in a place to talk to me that often...
In recovery, as my previous post indicated, you’ll have some needs that must be present. Alternatively, there are some things you just don’t need. Call them principles, mindsets or approaches if you like, but if they are present, I can assure you they will make things very difficult and probably even exacerbate the already excruciating process.
Continuing our approach, here’s what you DON’T need in recovery:
1. You don’t need pride. As indicated previously, you’ll need courage like never before. But pride likes to say “I shouldn’t have to do this.” Or, “This is your issue….you go fix this. I’m not doing anything.” The problem is, those mindsets assume a betrayed spouse has nothing to take...
Navigating the process of recovery after infidelity is not for the faint of heart. There are some crucial dos and don’ts that need to be applied if there is any chance for success. Success in this cauldron of trauma is not just ‘moving on.’ It’s about finding hope, finding healing, and giving you and your spouse the best chance at restoration. Keep in mind restoration may happen now, one day in the future, or possibly never if they prove to be unsafe. I’ve put some thought into some universal needs that you may want to consider implementing in your recovery plan.
1. You’ll need courage. The future of your marriage and your family is definitely uncertain. Even if your spouse says they will do ‘whatever it takes,’ it’s easier said than done. When...
A couple of days ago, Samantha and I had a major meltdown. It was the wrong day, the wrong moment, I wasn’t feeling well, and the perfect storm arose. I felt like Samantha had just scolded me. I wasn’t having it, and the night went from a peaceful night with a book to all hell breaking loose and me ending up out of the house, in an ice storm, trying to cool down. You’d think after so many years in recovery we’d be above this and that we never even argue any more. Come on. We are healed and healthy in ways we never imagined we could be but we’re still people fighting for our marriage every day. I never promised perfection in this blog, but real life instead.
It wasn’t infidelity related at all. In fact, there was no residue in the fight from...
It’s a common question I hear from spouses: can my spouse really change?
The easy answer is YES.
The harder answer is, if they want to and if you take the right steps.
The most difficult answer is, if they want to, and if you take the right steps, and there are no guarantees even if you do get the right help; but it’s probably worth the journey to find out before you end it.
I’ve seen very tough cases over the years, and I truly have seen change, breakthrough, and yes even miracles you’d have never thought possible.
But it almost never comes by doing the same thing over and over again. It usually requires a different approach and it usually requires the motivated spouse who is trying to see change, to take...
One of the most vivid memories I have of my father is when he took me fishing with one of his clients. It was off the coast of California. It was a smaller fishing boat, but not cheap and it was big enough to have some fun. The weather wasn’t perfect, but they decided it was fine to venture out. I think we were out about an hour when the storm finally hit us. Finally, my dad and his client (both of them decorated Vietnam War Veterans) decided they needed to humble themselves at the impending doom that was coming our way and pull up the anchor.
Here’s where it gets interesting. The anchor was caught, and true to their profile, they were going to get it unstuck. I think we did circles, and all sorts of ridiculous maneuvers in this boat (which I...
Oddly enough, when my affair became public, I had an immense amount of internal anger. I didn’t know it yet, but it was there. However, I didn’t dare express MY anger. After all, I was the unfaithful spouse.
My affair in large part (though of course not completely) was in direct result of anger I had towards Samantha, which had grown over the years. Sadly, my affair partner knew of my anger and it only fueled the affair in more ways than I can count. Unmet needs, physical rejection and disrespect all made a nice recipe for perceived rejection and my anger, though unprocessed, was off the chart.
Like most unfaithful spouses though, when the affair becomes public, we usually don’t address our anger. We are waiting for the...
Some of the biggest trouble I’ve gotten into in life has been due to reacting. Whether it’s been in professional sports, relationships, marriage, or child rearing, when I’ve merely ‘reacted’ rather than responding, I’ve usually blown it big time.
Here are some key differences, then we’ll talk a bit more about it.
To react is usually defensive. When we react it usually means we feel we are at a disadvantage or out of control. We’re mainly operating out of fear, backed against the wall so to speak.
When we’re reacting, we’re typically emotionally driven or, to put it bluntly, a slave to our emotions.
Emotions, without much of a reasoning process at all, are what drive our reactionary behavior. The outcome is...
I was talking to a gentleman the other day and sharing some experiences from the past, and I remembered a time I wanted to share with you all. It’s a bit of a difficult one, and will be controversial to some I’m quite sure, but I never said I wouldn’t be honest here. My hope is that my story and my pain may explain your spouse’s behavior, or give credence to what you may be fighting today.
Years into recovery, WE had relapsed and I was not happy with the way things were going. I felt like Samantha was retreating away from what she had agreed to work on, and I felt as though we were going backwards, fast. It was as though the new found dedication Samantha had to our marriage was nowhere to be found, and I had worked harder and harder to change and let the focus be on me. Add...
“If you’d do your part, then maybe I’d work a tad bit harder at doing mine!”
“Well, if you didn’t DO what YOU did, we wouldn’t be here in the first damn place. It continues to be all about you doesn’t it! You remain such a ……………”
Actual dialogue between Samantha and I while we were in recovery.
It’s not an entirely uncommon thing to be stuck, or feel like only one party is doing more work to try and move forward than the other. The fact is, you don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward. You can move forward, albeit somewhat incrementally, even if your spouse is hesitant or stuck in their own pride, shame, hurt or pain.
“If they won’t then I won’t” is a recipe for...
"If you weren’t so cold and unloving, I wouldn’t have had the affair,” he yelled.
“So now it’s MY fault you cheated and blew up our lives?!” she screamed back at him.
It happens time and time again. Almost all of you at some level could finish the dialogue above. It’s pitiful how many blame their affairs on their spouse, and many won’t take any responsibility for the marriage.
I love what Rick says: “The marriage is 50% your responsibility, 50% your spouse’s responsibility. The affair is 100% the unfaithful spouse’s responsibility.”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there was a litany of things I could have done before I had an affair.
Forever it will be my fault I had the affair,...
When my affair was exposed, Samantha was far more hurt than she was angry. Initially what showed were hurt, shock and overwhelming grief. Our youngest was roughly 4 weeks old, so she was in the process of breast feeding and caring for an infant as well as processing the trauma of it all. Life was absolutely turned upside down. As she regained the ability to function and started to get her wits about her, she became angrier and angrier. As the realization of what happened for two years began to set in, hurt began to surface and be revealed, and then anger became the expression of that hurt.
Anger wasn’t the primary emotion.
It looked like it was, sounded like it was, and felt like it was.
One of my favorite authors, Richard Rohr, uses a 12 step term called being “present.” To be present is “to know what you need to know in the moment. To be present is to allow the moment, the person, the idea or the situation to change you.” It’s the concept of “simple, clear and uncluttered presence.”
Now that my kids are getting older, I’ve been realizing just how much I wasn’t ‘present’ years before. From traveling, busyness and speaking engagements to just being overwhelmed with pressures and life, I wasn’t present often times. I certainly wasn’t present for Samantha in the least bit once life took off. I sincerely tried to be, but we can be sincere, well meaning, and at the same time just plain distracted and self- absorbed.
Lately though, I’ve been remembering the...
If we are on either side of infidelity, I probably don’t need to tell you there will be pain and disorientation. In the heart of the betrayed however, the hurt will be like none other. Alternatively, with incredible respect for the betrayed, I’m not sure that there will be more dysfunctional disorientation and confusion than in the mind of the unfaithful. They have lost their way, lost their compass, and many would say, lost their mind.
It’s in this cauldron of confusion we make the mistake of letting our hurt set the agenda of our lives. When we let raw emotion, pain and rage set the agenda, we will more than likely make decisions and ultimatums we both may live to regret. The unfaithful will possibly continue to pursue the affair...
If there is one thing about the crisis of infidelity, it’s that life as we know it changes. Maintaining a “business as usual” approach to crisis is a mistake. The ‘usual’ of our lives has been shattered and at some level, though life and time refuse to stop, it becomes more surreal than we ever thought possible. It’s the betrayed spouse who is forced to wade through the layers of pain (and B.S. from the unfaithful spouse quite frankly) and seek to find some new ground zero.
It’s not that I didn’t try to operate in a business as usual mentality when our lives were turned upside down. I yearned for some sense of normalcy to our lives, as I’m sure you do too, but it was gone. It was gone for quite a while now that I think of it. I see many couples try to treat it as though...
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Alumnus. Unfaithful. Doing his best with his 2nd chance in his marriage and life.
Alumna. Unfaithful. Striving to become a woman of integrity. Together, we can find light in the darkness of infidelity.
Alumna, Betrayed. Seeking God's grace to find meaning and purpose in the pain. Hoping to share my life raft with others drowning in the despair of infidelity.
Alumna. Member, EMS Weekend Retreat Team. Hope and healing are possible for anyone willing to work through the pain.
Alumna. Betrayed. Striving to recover and thrive after betrayal. I believe gratitude is the antidote to grief. If I can help you in your healing, therein lies my own.
Alumnus. Betrayed. Trying to find his way back.
Alumna. Unfaithful. A broken and undeserving mess who is learning what real love looks like.
Alumna. Betrayed. Determined to be positive as I navigate the quagmire of recovery.
Alumna. Betrayed. A soul restored. Encouraging others to keep walking because there is a way through. Author of Keep Walking: 40 Days to Hope and Freedom After Betrayal
Alumna. Betrayed. Grateful for God's love and grace. Recognizing that with God as my priority, I will be okay no matter what.
Alumnus. Betrayed. No matter how long it takes or how hard it is, my wife is always worth it!
Alumna. Betrayed. Learning to love recklessly while I cross the monkey bars of recovery.
"You have to let go at some point in order to move forward." - C.S. Lewis
Alumna. Betrayed. Walking in obedience to God's direction and experiencing a richer life and Renewed marriage.
Alumnus. Unfaithful. Living life differently, enjoying my wife and family, and grateful for God’s love.
Alumna. Betrayed. Experiencing God's love after divorce. Celebrating the healing of myself and my identity.
Alumna. Betrayed. Continuing to fight for my marriage and my children.
Alumnus. Unfaithful. Living proof that seeking truth offers both incredible pain and amazing freedom.