Early on in recovery, life seemed like a wasteland. We had lost practically everything and had to start over. Samantha was flooding and some days completely unreachable emotionally. It would seem like the entirety of my life was dark. Our youngest was 5 weeks old at the time and had trouble nursing, and was just one of those high maintenance children. The other two were somewhat bewildered at us moving so quickly to another state, and asked several times about our old friends and even the affair partner from time to time as she practically helped raise my youngest two. We were stuck paying a mortgage back in California, and had a new apartment we were living in here in Texas which wasn’t cheap, wasn’t large and had what seemed like zero privacy.
Yet, there were a few...
Rescue: to free from confinement, danger, or evil.
I’m convinced, as is Samantha, my meltdown and the complete disintegration of our lives was a rescue. If you subscribe to Christ and a Christian worldview, it’s easy to believe it was God rescuing us. Should you subscribe to a different approach to life and an alternative worldview, you too would see the hand of fate reaching out to rescue us from where we were heading. Looking back, with each year that went by, we were picking up speed in the wrong direction and I had my foot on the gas.
Just yesterday I was taken by the fact that it really was our lives, and our marriage and our future being apprehended from where we could have ended up. More than likely another divorce and another broken family in the string of...
Often times, bible stories give us a picture of what is going on in our own lives right now. I’ve borrowed some of Luke chapter 5 (see below) from the new testament for some context. Though a good amount of you who read these blogs are not Christians, I truly hope in this moment, you’ll take the story as mere context for what I’ll share after. Most importantly I hope you’ll not stop reading and push through.
17One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to...
The writer of Ecclesiastes 3 makes some startling observations:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time...
If you’re anything like me, you get fixated on things easily. I know, I know, what man doesn’t?
For the unfaithful spouse, fixating on desire or passion can be overwhelming. If you’re a betrayed spouse however, how can you not fixate on the overwhelming amount of trauma you’re in, not to mention the daily reminders of hurt, pain, betrayal and heartbreak?
At EMS Weekend, Rick shares that we have to “shift our focus and intentionally focus on something different. If I focus on desire, whatever captures my attention will ultimately capture me. I can’t think (fixate) on this stuff and expect to overcome it. I’ve got to begin to think about something very different.”
It’s true for both sides of the equation. We have to shift our...
Continuing our discussion on the gap between where we start recovery and where we want to end up, many have commented the last couple days about the gap they are in. Some have said it’s stretching them and even more have said it’s ripping them apart and some would even say it’s “serving its purpose.”
It’s one of those things which isn't fun, but very necessary. Well, it’s only necessary if you want to heal and if you want a more enriched life and marriage. It is possible to not have much of a gap at all, but after what I've been through, and helping the amount of others I've been fortunate enough to help, I’m convinced there has to be some amount of ‘gap’ in order to provide space for the process to work.
Here are a few more lessons Samantha and I learned in the Gap:...
Anytime we decide to do something, there is a period of time between making that decision and achieving the desired result. Many call this the ‘gap.’ It’s the excruciating process where motives are tried, tested, developed, pruned, purified and shaped to form the end result. In this quotient of gap, it’s many times our marriage and our own attitude and perspective which are refined and, honestly, it’s less than thrilling. If it’s our marriage which is being ‘processed’, it means both my mate and myself are going through this sifting. This in turn makes the future uncertain and unpredictable, as I can’t control whether or not my spouse remains dedicated and committed to the entire process.
But in the gap is where the marriage is either saved and redeemed or...
Lately I’ve felt the waters of my life being stirred pretty significantly. How can I tell, you may ask?
Well, the surest way is I’ve been a pretty big mess lately. From disillusionment with my career, to frustration with a few things maritally (unrelated to infidelity), to financial struggles, to a few health scares with Samantha as well as my daughter; there’s been challenge after challenge to wade through.
If you’re reading this blog, on this site, it’s pretty apparent the waters of your life have been stirred as well. Probably stirred in a way you’d like to never have them stirred again.
Many make the mistake of only thinking this is the waters of their marriage being stirred, and not their life. It’s revealed more apparently when couples come to Rick and he...
At the EMS Weekend we attended, Rick talked about the unfaithful spouse being “selfish with their shame.” It’s an interesting concept, which essentially refers the unfaithful spouse continually making it about them instead of the ones they’ve hurt or betrayed. It’s continuing to wallow in their shame, or continuing to focus on what their choices have cost themselves, and not their spouse. It’s being more concerned with how much of a failure they may appear to themselves and to you, than how concerned they truly are with how hard of a time you, the betrayed spouse, is having due to their choices.
To say it’s dysfunctional is an understatement.
I grew up in a very rough part of the inner city. Being raised by a single mom with no dad around, I was forced to become pretty tough for a variety of reasons. It wasn’t uncommon to have shootings by our house and surrounding areas, and we had our house broken into several times growing up. My success in sports in high school, college and professionally was in many ways due to my refusal to quit and raw aggression which was evident in the way I approached the game. I’ve quit very few things in my life.
There is however, a huge difference between giving up and surrendering.
One of the biggest challenges in our recovery was me learning to surrender. Realizing I just couldn’t control how fast Samantha forgave me or got over her...
I know this question reverberates through the minds of many who are trying to heal, and I must say I too asked myself that same question early on in recovery.
To give you an idea of the furnace Samantha and I were stuck in (and I know yours may be worse), we had lost everything but our kids, our cars, and one friend who decided to stick around though it seemed like hundreds left us. We were in a new city, and shortly after moving to the new city, my best friend (and only true friend, yep, the one who stuck around in the previous line) decided to move to another state to plant a church. The only other friends we knew here in Austin were Samantha’s friends, and they hated me and wanted nothing to do with me. I was in a new career in sales, which only flourishes with relationships...
Webster’s dictionary defines frustration as a deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs.
I have to tell you, as impatient as I am, and as wired as I am to control, I have experienced incredible frustration; not only in recovery, but in life in general. Even when I was young, I can remember extreme times of frustration and the sense of paralysis I felt at not being able to get the outcome I perceived to be best for me. Anyone else see the glaring pride there? Quite frankly, I’m easily frustrated in life even now and I have to be careful for this particular season I’m in right now.
One thing that helps me is perspective. When I see things in a long term perspective, or from God’s perspective, it...
More times than I care to admit, I see couples falter and squabble over whether or not to save the marriage, and I think that is putting the cart way before the horse.
Early on, the fight shouldn’t be whether or not to save the marriage. The fight should be over whether or not we are going to commit to the process. Through the process you will eventually decide on whether or not to save the marriage or go separate ways. Trying to grind it out on your own is guaranteed disaster. Or getting help from someone who has never gone through it before who can’t understand either side with any significance, professionalism or expertise is also going to guarantee frustration.
If there was one hang up Samantha and I had when we first started out in our recovery, it was that we didn...
Often times, when confronted with discovery or the early beginnings of recovery, many think they will be dealing with this infidelity the rest of their lives.
The unfaithful believes and fears they will be a doormat and reminded of their failings and shortcomings the rest of the marriage, and sees little hope to stay dedicated. The betrayed wonders if they can ever trust their mate again, and fears they will have to resort to all sorts of tracking devices, accountability measures and the like. They also wonder if it’s really worth it to make someone want to be with them in the first place.
On the front end of recovery, the darkness is far more prevalent than light. It’s almost impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We create a tunnel that is so long, so...
If you don’t believe in God or any sort of divine plan, you may not grab hold of this post too tightly. That’s OK, and I hope you keep reading. You still may see some things in a new light. At the very least, I hope you can see there just may be available grace to your recovery that you’re not truly aware of yet.
I lived in a secret for over two years. A public personality, alleged to be of superb moral character, only to be exposed literally overnight, disappointing a large sea of people. Relationships Samantha and I had built for over 12 years were seemingly gone and dissolved in an instant. To this day, I’m still somewhat amazed by how rapidly we were isolated.
When I was about 27 years old, I began to pastor and speak at several churches across the...
My wife, Samantha, was not going to sit and wait to see if I pursued recovery. I guess it’s better said that she’d wait and see how I handled myself early on in discovery and the beginning stages of recovery, and see if I was really serious about saving our marriage. If I wasn’t, she would end things.
She really wasn’t sure if I still wanted to be with my affair partner, regardless of what I said to her. She actually wasn’t even able to believe that I truly wanted to be with her, considering the last two years of my behavior. After over two years of serious emotional and physical contact and living a double life, there was no reason to believe me at all.
Unfortunately, many times a betrayed spouse will wait and see how the unfaithful responds, then take action...
My recent posts on the detox process have stirred many who have reached out privately. Having said that, I think we’ll continue on this topic and see where it goes. Though complicated, I hope there is some insight which comes from my own experiences and observations. Someone asked me why I write. Besides Rick asking me to, I simply said, “To give voice to the hurt and pain I caused by my terrible decisions and hope that somehow God can use my mess to help heal others and make sense out of what they may be going through right now.”
It’s very common for a betrayed spouse, when walking through their spouse’s detoxing phase, to place expectations upon them. I think it’s a critical mistake to put unreasonable expectations upon someone who is unhealthy, self-...
I’ll never forget talking to a friend of mine early on in recovery, and I said to him candidly, “I’m still thinking about my affair partner all the time.” Having gone through it before, he very pointedly, but graciously said to me “Samuel, if you said you weren’t thinking about her, I’d call you a liar.” It’s part of the ripping away. He went on to say “It takes time and it takes consistency, and doing exactly what you’re doing: being open with another man about what you’re dealing with.”
Fact is my friends, and I know a ton of you are betrayed spouses, that if your spouse says they are not thinking about their affair partner (when it was a long affair, over a consistent period of time and they have broken it off fairly recently) then they probably are...
When launching out into recovery, one must have an anchor. The chaos and the confusion of it all can be overwhelming and exasperating. Not all days are tumultuous, but early on I’m willing to bet you’ll have more chaotic and depressing days, than comforting and reassuring days. Even now, several years later, I have a few rock solid anchors in my life to help keep me attached, grounded and safe for all the important relationships in my life.
What anchors do you have in your life? Are there any right now?
If you're early on in recovery, unfortunately your affair partner or addiction may have been your anchor. It's what kept you sane, and kept you from imploding on your spouse, family or difficulty in life.
My affair partner in...
To borrow from both AA and the Twelve Steps, as well as Richard Rohr’s take on it, here is a fabulous quote which resonates with me and my own life:
“Our troubles are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves; and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he or she does not think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must or it kills us!”
Several years ago, mid-affair, my life was about me; how everyone was to relate to me, how Samantha was to please me, and how my own little world had me at the center of it. Even while serving others, somehow it very easily became about me. I was sick. Sick and unable to see how lost I was.
I’m truly in awe at how easy it is to...
am·biv·a·lence--the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone
Ambivalence can also be defined as ‘being of two minds.’ Or in a general sense, “I want to, but I don’t want to.”
In recovery, ambivalence can be a very common denominator for the unfaithful. It’s not always there, but when it is it’s altogether excruciating for the betrayed. An unfaithful spouse may not want to talk about their deep-seated ambivalence, for fear of being hammered upon or ‘shamed’ if they were to disclose it. But it’s there. Deep in the inner resources of their heart and mind, it’s there, trying to eat away at their resolve and their hope.
I certainly didn’t...
Triggers can be excruciating. They can steal away your quality of life. Triggers position unresolved emotions and unforgiveness to annihilate any situation which should be enjoyable or at the very least organic.
Without taking anything away from the pain of triggers experienced by betrayed spouses, I want to make it known that unfaithful spouses suffer from triggers as well, albeit at our own hands.
Just last week, Samantha did something that triggered me in a way that was both alarming and infuriating. I had to remove myself from the situation to get my feelings in check for fear that I would lash out.
In the blink of an eye I was transported back to long forgotten feelings of rejection, insecurity and a deep desire to feel affirmed. My anger at my perceived...
Triggers are typically associated with the betrayed spouse.
Research shows that early in recovery, the betrayed spouse encounters between 75 and 110 different reminders of the affair every day. They can be incapacitating and overpowering, making it almost impossible for hurt spouses to reclaim any stable ground.
Samantha encountered thousands of reminders, and the courage and perseverance it took to press through them was monumental. The good news is they do dissipate over time and they can be diffused when you get the right kind of help. (Harboring Hope was a great asset for Samantha.)
Unfaithful spouse, when you are aware of your mate encountering a reminder, choose humility and own the moment as an immediate first step. Something that worked for me was to...
Deciphering what was real and what was fantasy is incredibly clear….now.
Back then however, in the middle of the mess, things were foggy, confusing and about as fantastical as they could be. This is a normal point of crisis and confusion for any unfaithful spouse as they face duplicity and double lives.
Real life was hard. From the fights with Samantha, to constant miscommunication to the rejection I felt from her romantically and sexually. She was just never happy with me and I could never do enough.
The affair however, was filled with incredible happiness, understanding and sexual fulfillment. My affair partner never rejected me, always wanted me, and almost always understood my feelings and concerns. I understood her and always seemed to have...
I hate to fail. At anything. It ruins me, one could say. Being a performance driven individual, and growing up under a reward-driven system of affection, I’ve always been a very driven, performance based individual.
An odd disconnect though, is that I had never been consumed with succeeding at marriage, but only succeeding at my traveling schedule, financial stability, investing and personal accolades.
When I failed at my marriage I failed big. I’m not sure I could have failed in a bigger way than I did.
When really began to grasp what I had done to my wife Samantha and so many others, it was almost incapacitating. Getting healthy meant walking through my pain at first.
They say the truth will set you free, but first it will make you incredibly...
“You cannot heal what you do not first acknowledge.” Richard Rohr
The truth of this quote still strikes me even after years of recovery.
Just today I’ve had to name my struggles. Pride for one. It’s not ‘feeling insecure’ or left out or disrespected. It’s pride. When I honestly name what I’m feeling or experiencing, I can step into a personal recovery plan. This means isolating what’s really going on. It helps me see what I’m truly feeling and that my pride is just a reaction to what I am feeling. I realize I’m trying to medicate my true, inner feelings. I am feeling insecure, left out and disrespected. Those are facts. But for each of them, I can take steps of self-care once I realize the root: pride....
Rick’s recent article, found here: http://affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/infidelity-and-transition-stages-the-mystery-of-change, is brilliant, but poignant for both sides of the affair. It’s relatively easy to understand why a betrayed spouse would need to grieve. After all, life will never be the same again, and life has been changed forever. It’s not un-repairable, but the fact remains, understanding why the betrayed spouse would grieve is rather easily comprehensible.
Grieving for the unfaithful is paramount as well. For me, I had to grieve for what my affair did to Samantha and also what it had done to so many other...
I’ve written on relapse before, but today I’d like to ask the question, which so many ask which is, whether or not relapse is inevitable? I will tell you there are varying, differing opinions on it for sure and I’m not sure that I think anyone is per se the expert on relapse besides maybe Rick Reynolds.
Some say it’s absolutely inevitable. If they cheated, they will eventually cheat again, but in what degree or what stage is what is undeterminable, and the best you can do is shore up their recovery plan, and the betrayed spouse’s recovery plan, and hope for the best.
Some say, no, not necessarily. That a good, strong, recovery process is what will prevent them from falling again and there is hope of it never happening again.
Many times during our discussions early on in the recovery process, even after we met Rick by the way, anger was a normal part of our lives. We were smart to never let it fully unleash in front of the kids who were pretty young at the time, but it was there: simmering….waiting for a chance to manifest.
It wasn’t uncommon for me to get angry when Samantha wanted to talk about it. I didn’t always show it, but internally, I was about to burst. I don’t know if anger was the most definitive term, but perhaps better, more descriptive words would be short, trite and borderline uncooperative.
I genuinely felt terrible about what I did. I felt like I was a complete failure and had let down so many, including myself. Let’s face it; I did...
During the very first few weeks after disclosure, Samantha and I were dealing with a hellish situation. I can’t go much into it, but there came a time that Samantha was convinced I was lying about a few key details. I had lived a lie for about two years now, and for the first time, I was in fact coming clean with all the details.
Somewhere along the way though, it came to critical mass and she was convinced I was not being honest about the truth regarding some pretty far off allegations and rumors. She devised a bit of a plan to trick me into telling the truth and she set me up. Yes she was grasping, and yes she was desperate, so looking back I don’t fault her at all. Back then, that was a different story as I was far from healthy...
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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.