Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Is Change Really Possible?

is change possible

The following is a repost from our Recovery Library. I penned it in 2011, during one of the most difficult times of my life shortly after some of the most significant losses in my life. I hope it encourages you and provides a healing and redemptive perspective as we walk together through probably one of the biggest crisis of your life.

Can I really change? Can your unfaithful spouse ever really change? Can your betrayed spouse ultimately overcome the remnants of betrayal and trauma and change? Not easy questions to answer by anyone.

I'll be 59 this year and just looking at that number makes me feel older than dirt. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks; but can you? In my soon to be 59 years, I don't believe I've ever set a New Year’s resolution. Lord knows it's not because I'm perfect, nor is it because I'm always happy with my life, for me I think it's not really wanting to.

Understanding Habits, Patterns & Loss 

A few years ago, I read  Charles Duhigg's book "The Power of Habit," and I found the research fascinating. I'm not sure I've ever analyzed my actions from the perspective of habits, but it caused me to take a new look at why I'm living how I'm living. 2011 was a challenging year where I had major life events such as the loss of a parent and major surgery for cancer. Given my profession, one would think I would have anticipated the impact of those trials, but I never imagined the subtle ways those events would change the patterns of my life.

In the book "The Law of Happiness" by Dr. Henry Could, he points out that only 10% of happiness is based on circumstances. 50% of our happiness is due to our genetics and the remaining 40% we control through the way we live. From birth I've been fortunate to be one of those where the glass is naturally have full and I've enjoyed life, but as I reflect on this past year I realize I've changed and I don't like what I'm seeing. My productivity dropped, I've been in a funk, and I've been less motivated; so what changed?

Looking back it seems so obvious, but first of all my routines changed. Major surgery has a way of doing that, but instead of running each evening when I returned home I began turning on the TV as a way of handling the boredom of not being able to do anything. Rather than getting up and writing early in the morning I began sleeping in telling myself I needed the rest. Optimism was replaced by self-pity as I dealt with the losses stemming from surgery and from the loss of my dad, which resulted in a loss of motivation. The loss of motivation only served to reinforce the sitting on the couch and doing nothing. In addition, my new sedentary lifestyle resulted in my spending more time in the kitchen snacking at night since I had nothing to do. It was as if I abandoned many of my healthy habits for ones that made me heart sick. How do I change?

I know I’m not alone. According to Duhigg, major life events have a way of getting us to abandon the healthy routines we’ve adopted for older, more primitive habits. It’s as if we re-adopt our old bad habits as a way of coping rather than continuing the healthy habits we’ve developed through the years. Even worse, those unhealthy habits seem to be etched indelibly in our lives and impossible to erase.

Infidelity certainly has the potential to create habit change. Just like my surgery, the trauma created by infidelity has a way of changing life patterns for both the betrayed and the unfaithful spouse. Healthy activities such as exercise and hobbies often go by the wayside. Mistrust and hurt feelings change our habits of relating to one another and anger does the same. Hurt and disappointment can even change our spiritual disciplines, and I haven’t even begun to talk about how our habits of self-care change. I wonder what percentage of people picked up old habits of smoking or drinking as a result of a betrayal or how many fall back into old patterns of avoidance or escape. How do we get back to a life we love that’s full of meaning and purpose?

It’s Not About Staying Miserable

Those of us at Affair Recovery aren’t just interested in saving marriages; we’re interested in helping those affected by infidelity find extraordinary lives of meaning and purpose. If the best you could do is save the marriage only to continue in a miserable life, would that interest you? We want to let the crisis created by the infidelity serve as a catalyst for positive change, but like me you have to take action. Pain that’s not transformed will be transmitted, and I don’t want the tragedy of what’s happened to rob me of life. I want it to serve as the fertilizer that helps my life grow.

I’m aware there are habits I need to change and I’m more than ready to change. I hope you’ll join me as I work at changing. As I begin my program to change all the miserable habits I’ve picked up this past year, I hope you’ll join me by addressing the habits in your life that are holding you back. Over the next few weeks I’ll explore the steps we need to take to change our habits and hopefully we’ll help one another move forward.

So where do we begin. The problem with habits is that they are unconscious. Our brains are amazingly efficient. In order to keep from having to figure things out each time we do things (such as brushing our teeth or saying hello) our mind creates thousands of routines that we do mindlessly. That’s why we can think about paying bills while backing the car out of the garage. But our habits are fragile and it takes no thought at all to move back into old ways of being or acting. All it takes is a cue and the brain takes over, repeating a programed routine time after time.

For example, this past weekend Stephanie and I were visiting friends. Two times when I went to the bathroom I walked out leaving the water in the sink running full blast. Both times I had to go back and turn it off. The second time I realized their faucet turned counter clockwise to shut off. At home my faucet turns clockwise. My normal routine for turning off the faucet didn’t work at our friend’s home. That’s what I consider to be an insignificant habit, but what about those habits that govern how I relate to Stephanie or those that dictate what I do when I get home from work?

Next week I’ll give the first step to changing a habit, but before taking that step we first have to determine what to change. Here’s what I’m going to do to discover what habit to begin with, and I hope you’ll do the same.

Your Assignment: (I know it can be a bit off putting you to do any exercises right now as you’re in the middle of the worst pain you’ve probably ever felt. But, I believe in this process of transformation and I’m convinced it will help you find healing and peace.) Each day for the next two weeks I’m going to write down ten goals for my life and I’m going to rank those ten goals. The next day I’m going to repeat the assignment, but I can’t look back at what I wrote the previous day. I’m going keep writing and ranking my ten goals for the two weeks and not look back at the previous list. After a few weeks your goals should begin to solidify and be consistent day after day. Once we’ve identified our goals we’ll be ready to address our habits.

If you’re wondering how to change and truly overcome the malaise you’re facing due to infidelity, our EMS Weekend intensive is the place. Our weekend intensive is facilitated by myself as well as other therapists who have been through infidelity themselves and are true experts. After 33 years of treating infidelity and addiction, I’m more confident than ever you’ll find hope, personal restoration and the ability to truly change. Call 888-527-2367 or email info@hope-now.com for any questions you may have.

 

 

 

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10 goals for my life-day one

5. Lose 25lbs 4. Spend more quality time with kids 10. Finish my degree 3. Dress more professionally 8. Always be positive 9. Stop complaining 2. Spend less money 1. Start a retirement fund 7. Find myself 6. Pay it forward

jana, were you the betrayer

jana, were you the betrayer or betrayed?

10 goals for my life

1. To trust God 100'/, with my life, my marriage, & my family. 2. To pray for my husband everyday if not several times daily. 3. To pray for MY needs daily. 4. To read God's word and meditate on it daily in order to closen my relationship with Him. 5. To serve, respect , honor and love my husband by allowing God to show me how to do this. 6. To heal after my husbands major betrayal after 27 yrs of marriage and hopefully have my marriage restored to a state of being better than it was before. 7.To pray for my son & other loved ones each day. 8. To take care of my mom the best that I can. 9. To do the best job at work that I can do. 10. To do some things for myself such as exercising, walking, skating or some other hobby that i have never allowed myself to do because i have been too busy "serving" everyone else in the past 27 years such as serving my husband (8 yrs of coaching for extra money that we really didnt need, supporting his "hobbies" and pastimes), serving my  mother (4 yrs of moving her place to place, multiple health issues, emotional problems, taking care of her personal business and her house-sometimes by myself with no help from family or friends), serving my son (23 years of blood, sweat , tears raising him),  and serving my coworkers/ subordinates (16 yrs in mgmt and putting my needs/family needs behind work needs.

1. Daily Prayer.2.

1. Daily Prayer. 2. Acknowledgement of my brokenness. 3. Surrender Control. 4. Stay in a recovery program. 5. Be honest. 6. Be present for my spouse. 7. Be compassionate. 8. Love first, slow to anger. 9. Forgive myself and others. 10. Give back to those in need, provide hope in a dark time

Ten Goals

Lose my ego Let go of outcome and focus on intention Learn to recognize and respond positively to my fears and pain Be the best wife I can be Be the best mother I can be Be the best daughter I can be Better nutrition for myself and family Better sleep habits Eat healthier, eat less and lose weight Exercise smarter

Ten life goals

1. Change my eating habits, portion sizes. 2. Get to 135lb or less and stay there. 3.concistently get up at 5:00 am. Also get to bed at a time which I can get up by five. 4. Figure out what to do at 5:00 am and do it concistently 5. Create, live out , and care about an abundant relationship with my kids. 6. Make lifelong friendships 7. Get my bachelor degree or else be a house mom/wife. - and enjoy it all either way. 8. Live in truth for the rest of my days. 9. Love my husband and care for him 10. Let god lead me to the places he created me for in order to glorify himself and his purpose through me thus making my life fulfilling and prosperous. Ooo that's a big one. Ha This list actually should read in the reverse - 10 being #1 but in actuality it's in the Order that preoccupies my mind

Life Goals

I read these at Sara Frankl's blog years ago (or a version very close to them) and loved them. They sit on my desk. 1. To not be ashamed to stand before God. 2. To fulfill God's plan by living the best life I can with what I am given. 3. To be aware and present in every moment. 4. To love what I have and not yearn for what I lack. 5. To spread the Joy, not the fear. 6. To be intentional in all things.

10 goals

1. Loose 30lbs 2. Exercise regularly 3. Get off blood pressure medication, if possible 4. Join a Bible study 5. Sell house & buy a new one 6. make a phone call to friends I am loosing touch with 7. Learn to speak with dying and hurting people about God 8. Take steps to not only save my marriage, but to forgive, heal, and allow it to be healed and joyful. I think. 9. Increase savings, decrease spending 10. Pray regularly for my sons

10 daily changes

1. Lose 35 pounds 2.Start riding my bike again 3. drink less I drink way more this year due to double betrayal) 4. work less hours and bring more balance 5. spend more time with my mom and my kids 6. try to cultivate a relationship that is loving and trusting with my husband 7. spend more time with God 8. Spend more time fixing up home 9. prepare to be a godly grandmother 10. Renew some old friendships

1.Spend more time in God's

1.Spend more time in God's word. 2. Get divorce FINAL! 3.$7,000 in debt paid & I'll be debt free. Excluding monthly debt. 4. Buy my house before November 1, 2013. 5. Start working full time. 6. Believing that while doing this I'll lose that 20 lbs that I want gone. 7. Find peace with the fact that my husband is in a "serious" relationship while still married to me. 8. Find joy in knowing I'm a better person now without him. God has so much more room to do His thang with me now. :) 9. Be the BEST mother of two boys that I can be. That means communicating with them & letting them know what is going on without revealing to much for their little minds or dissing their daddy. 10. Continue HEALING & OVERCOMING by sharing my testimony of what God has done for me in my two & a half year separation with everyone God puts on my path!

Anger

I need help figuring out how to get my old life back. It has been a little over a year since discovery. My husband says he is a changed man, but how does someone go from being a lying cheater (for at least the last 5 years of our 25 year marriage) to a faithful husband. I was so oblivious and found out quite by accident on Christmas Day (accidentally seen email). Once I saw that, my investigation revealed at least 5 women over at least 5 years). After discovery, he continued to lie about affairs and I still don't have full picture, nor have I gotten a sincere apology (in my opinion). He had the typical excuses, blamed me, nothing happened, just friends, etc. ). We went to therapy for a while, but I stopped it because he continued to lie and was a real jerk in therapy. It was a waste of time and money. I moved to my daughters to help out with kids about 6 months ago to get a break from the situation. Every time I think about my husband I am angry and every time he speaks I assume is a lie. It is now time to move back home. How do I get my old life back?

Reply

I wish I knew the answer to that question. Your story sounds so much like mine. I have been with my husband for over 27 years married for 22 have 4 kids together. I recently found out that he had a long term affair with an old girlfriend. A relationship that lasted for 5 years behind my back. Says he felt guilty after a year or so and then they were just friends. But I do t believe it. I never suspected him cheating I was busy working full time at a new job while he was on layoff spending time with her and being addicted to porn. Makes me absolutely sick. He swayed he is sorry and it is over so I thought I would give him another chance. But not sure if I did the right thing. The other woman had a great body and is attractive. I do t have a perfect body I have had 4 kids but do feel I am attractive. But in a real woman kind of way. Not a selfie taking self absorbed conceited whore that starves for attention like she is. But yet he has nothing bad to say about her and that makes me sick. I struggle everyday of my life now. Lost my job, and basically myself throughout this whole deal. I don't think I can ever get over what he has done. I don't feel he is truly sorry just wants me to get over it. No empathy whatsoever for me. I just feel that it was god that wanted me to try to work it out. Show forgiveness. Show my kids not to give up on people. But I do t know if I am doing more damage than good. I used to be uplifting happy all the time person and now I have no idea who I even am. I wish I had answers too.

Soul sister

Sounds like we have a similar situation. I'm not sure you ever "get over it". Lack of empathy on husbands part has been a real problem for me. I think if he ever acknowledged to himself what he had done, he wouldn't like the person he was. He has said as much. This is the same man that smokes in hiding, and lies to me, his doctors, and everyone else about it (says he is not a smoker). Also found porn on his computer that he claims he started watching after discovery day. I guess if he couldn't have it in real life, he would watch it. I am going to have to move forward now. The attitude I take is that I am no longer married (vows were broken). I stopped wearing my wedding rings a year ago. He still wears his. My attitude is that I am responsible for my own happiness. I will go back home and try to reclaim my life, be happy, and fulfilled. If he makes one more misstep, it will be over. He has assured me that "he is mine and he learned his lesson", but I told him "that is fine, but what I have to figure out is does he have me". I think he is a bit worried.

What type of affair was it?

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