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

Using the Time Well: Try the First Steps Bootcamp

Have you ever had a torn rotator cuff?  I have, and I mistakenly believed that if I carefully protected my injured shoulder it would heal on its own. After four months of self-directed therapy, I finally came to the distinct conclusion that this injury would require surgery to repair.  

The old saying “time heals all wounds” isn’t really true, especially when we’re talking about healing after an affair. Time alone can often times make things worse, and time alone will never create change. What you do with the time is what really matters. Infidelity is one of those situations where choosing to do nothing only makes things worse for all parties.

Yesterday while talking to one of our mentor couples, I asked, “In retrospect, what did you not know that you needed to know after the affair was discovered?” The betrayed spouse first said that she wished she’d realized the affair was not about her and that she wasn’t powerless to heal. She said had she known this, it would’ve allowed her to focus on real issues rather than trying to control her husband’s choices. If she didn’t cause it, then she had very little leverage to control the outcome. She could, however, control her response and her own progress. I then asked, “What was the least productive thing you did after discovery?” She said her rage was her most problematic reaction. She told me her first response was to try to make him hurt as badly as she was hurting. She said, “I gave myself permission to begin hitting him to make him hurt like me. I wanted to punish him rather than exploring what I needed to do to move forward.” She added, “Not only did it not make me feel better, but it kept me from moving forward because I was trapped playing the role of executioner.” Anger and revenge are common roadblocks for healing after an affair.

The one thing her husband could see in retrospect was that getting the truth out was necessary before they could begin to heal. He said that the least productive thing he did was beating himself up with guilt and shame rather than beginning to explore answers as to why he did it and what they could do now. He said, “All I could think about was me and how bad I’d screwed up rather trying to discover how I’d gotten here in the first place and what I needed to do to keep from repeating my mistakes.” He said that he now sees how beating himself up was only effective as long as he felt the pain, but if he’d begun to explore what was driving him he could have cut months off their recovery time. Again, it’s not simply the passage of days into weeks that will heal. You must use the time well and always press towards change.

Next week we’re releasing a new program that is not only free, but revolutionary. The First Steps Bootcamp is a free 7 day program to help you get on the right path for recovery. One may wonder “Rick, seriously, 7 days? What can happen in 7 days? Don’t you get how messed up and stuck we are?” Of course I do. This First Steps Bootcamp contains all the tools I use to help stabilize couples who come to my office after the discovery of infidelity. I’m not saying you’ll be healed in 7 days, but you will at least understand what healing looks like and the necessary steps it takes to get there. While you and your spouse may be apprehensive, I would encourage you to give your marriage and yourself 7 days. After all you’ve already been through, what’s the worst that could happen? The last thing anyone wants to do is make things worse, and we want to help you spend your time well. We hope you see significant change and finally find a glimmer of hope for your situation. We will be releasing the First Steps Bootcamp next Wednesday, September 24 and I sincerely hope you’ll give it a chance to work in your life and in your recovery. Make sure to watch for the newsletter next week! The First Steps Bootcamp can change the course of your recovery. 

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Good idea

Coming up on three years of my wife's affair. I could definitely use the 7 days bootcamp just for a check up on where we are.
I'm not sure if I'm in a good spot..I don't think I am. I still think daily of her affair. I still dream of leaving her. I fake my happiness every day. Almost all because I cannot release the pain or the shame or my disgust with her. I don't want to feel these things, but I just do.
The 4-6 weeks leading up to discovery were the times she was physically cheating. It is the hardest time for me all year. Again, I find myself in the midst of it..angry, not sleeping, not eating, and worst of all not feeling compassionate love.
I want out of this cycle, but worry that this will be the rest of my life.
I'm still angry and unforgiving, but I love her and don't want to hurt her anymore that she's already hurt herself.

These words could be mine. I

These words could be mine. I don't know how to escape the cycle of anger and resentment I feel about my husband's affair.

forgiving

I relate to what you are saying so much. It will be 3 yrs Thanksgiving day I learned about the emotional affair or what he called his "dirty little secret" , just before our 20th anniversary. It is just as painful as if it were physical and just as painful as it ever was. I still wonder if he still thinks about her and if he still calls her. I wonder what would have happened if I had left, I was packed up to go but didn't. I had no clue, it was all a shock. How will I ever trust him again, how can I know if maybe he should be with her. She was an old girlfriend from way back,does he still secretly want to be with her instead? If that's the case why does he stay? Is it just because of him not wanting to lose money? Some days now he seems more loving than he did, other days not. He won't talk about it with me, if I say anything he just hollers at me to GET OVER IT! and you know what, there's nothing more I'd love to do than to GET OVER IT! Maybe boot camp will help, all I know is nothing else has helped.

Sadness

i'm so sorry for what you are going through. My fiancee did this to me. It's been 2 years and I don't think he really gets it.

Thanks.

I know she gets it. She's as apologetic, repentant and regretful as one can be. She's made every effort to support and heal me.
Take out the affair and the lies/actions that surround it...and we have a perfect marriage.
The problem is...those things cannot be taken out.

Thank you

Maybe doing this 7 day bootcamp will get me unstuck. In the midst of Dday 2 after 20 months of my husband's lying to me about not being with the AP and just going through the motions of recovery, I have pretty much gone back to square one in my healing. Every day brings a new detail out that he did not tell me initially, and I feel like I have been "bombed" for the past 7-8 weeks, almost daily. I want out of this cycle of hurt, anger, feelings of doom around the corner, and trying not to let bitterness and resentment set in. I want out of this feeling of being made to look like a fool. It's hard to move forward, though, when new details keep emerging day after day. I will be the first to sign up. As you said, what's the worst that could happen? The worst has already happened and I'm still standing...barely. And that's because of God. Even when my husband didn't think I was lovable and worth the truth, God remained faithful and continued to love me. I am so grateful for that. Looking forward to this boot camp. Thanks for offering it.

Need something

Rick,
D day has been 27 months and my husband refuses to believe he has had and continues to have an emotional affair. He very clearly says he is in love with her and me. He still trys to contact her and follows her Facebook page 3 to 4 times a week. He knows that he perpetuates this longing for her and creates a distance from me. He says that his obsession over her has been 12 years and even though he has not seen her in 4 years, he still misses her everyday. It is hard for me to always been second to a fantasy and I need professional help. He won't go because it always ends badly. Even though this emotional affair has debilitated him and us, he doesn't think he has done anything wrong. I get resented because he can't be friends with the best friend he has. I get resented because he has to make changes. I don't know how I could get him to do a 7 day program when he has not one ounce of empathy. 26 years and I am sick of being the bad guy who won't let him do whatever he wants.

still needing much help

I can so relate to these comments. I feel like I am just faking my way through this. I pretend to be happy but there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of his affairs. Even in sleep there is no peace for me as they haunt my dreams every night.
It has been 1 &1/2 years since the first DD, but then another affair discovery was made about 6 months ago that he hid from me as to not hurt me. It was just before this second discovery that I felt I was making some real progress, I felt some hope for myself to heal, but all that was shattered when I found out about the second affair. It hit me just a hard as the first DD even worse because he was supposedly healing, working on himself, and being honest. He kept telling me all the secrets were out and there was nothing more to discover. He stood before me and lied to my face, justifying it by saying he didn't want to hurt me further. And since the beginning of all of this he has never once come to me and volunteered any information about the affairs. I have had to drag every piece of information out of him.
He has been working on being a much better person, but the talking about the affairs has stopped, both our personal councillors have left and the one we see together is very difficult to get into.
I have found that talking about it helps but I feel that my husband has moved on and doesn't feel the need to do this. He has never once brought up the affair or how we are doing.
The talking about it has stopped, the counselling has dwindled to almost nothing, and it is my impression that he feels we have healed and are done with it.
Some days I feel like I am drowning. I am depressed and have little love or energy for life.
In truth I am a mess. I am still deeply hurt and angry beyond words. I try to keep it in but I am finding I am lashing out at everyone at times.
I truly love him, but most days the thought of sex with him repulses me, and I have to make a serious effort to talk myself into it when it does happen.
I can't release the "feeling of doom that might be around the corner" Well put by the way, Karen. After years of lies, that you believed were the truth, I silently doubt and question everything, and at times have stopped caring.
I keep this all to myself, because he doesn't seem to want to talk about it.
We seem to do well with guidance so I am soooooooooo grateful that you are offering this to us.
Thank you Rick for this and all you do.
I pray a lot, and I do love him, but we still need a lot of help.

I hear you, Pat

Pat, you expressed much of what I feel. It's been over 3 years since d-day 1, about 1.5 since d-day 2 -- it was, as for you, information I had to drag out and dig for on my own because although he's been willing to talk (not always truthfully), I've always had to ask; he's never once said to me, "What can I do to help?" I still need to talk, but I'm tired of being the one to always initiate the conversations, so I find myself feeling like giving up. I started this process shattered but at least full of optimism and hope that we could be one of those couples who end up stronger than before. In some ways I think we're worse off than we were a year ago. I am, however, willing to try this boot camp. I'm sending hopeful thoughts to everyone on this site who has found themselves where they never wanted to be.

Thank you

For my own sanity I think it may help. I confronted my husband 12 days ago, we sat up all night talking, he agreed to end it and record the conversation. 4 hours later everything was now suddenly my fault and the recorded conversation was merely a well rehearsed blame of me for the accusation. We spent 4 days pretending nothing was wrong and looking at houses. kept quiet and waited for him to come forward with a resolution, and nothing. confronted him politely on Monday night and asked him how long I am supposed to be kept in limbo. He will not discuss anything with except to say its not about the girl he's been seeing, and continues to see every day, she is his secretary. The pain is unbearable and the lack of communication is torturous. He says he is seeing a psychologist about his problems and will let me know when he is ready to talk.

Boot camp

Is this for individual healing?or couples?we've been separated for 3 months,since I couldn't bare to live in that house one more minute while he was still seeing his coworker for 4yrs mostly on since I figured it out the first time.but he lied said it was someone from a bar originally.but can't give up on him;I remember the good guy he really is before a series of tragic events caused this PTSD in him.i just want to stop thinking of him constantly and move out of the way so God can work.

7 day boot camp

I am in- might be working on it alone as always but I will participate. 4 years out and still unable to say we have dealt fully with his affairs or his sexual acting out. I feel like I am living proof that time does not heal all wounds. I would say no one could keep up the terrible high intensity of feelings that you experience immediately after disclosure but, lessening of those frightening emotions shouldn't be mistaken with true healing.

Hopeful

I am 2 months out from Dday. 4 years ago, he revealed the affair and said it was over. It took a long time, but I got over it and was happier than I ever was. Little did I know that the affair was on and off for 5 years. I am devastated. He is still in love with her. This is just so overwhelming. I find it hard to function some days. She has contacted him twice since this last revelation and he has shared it with me. Each time, it tears us further and further down. I am hopeful that this bootcamp could help us. Thank you

bootcamp

One year since d-day and im tired of pretending. That we are ok , he is ok, im ok because we are not. I am going to ask him tonight to join mecat bootcamp. If will not then I think we are done. I wont live like this anymore- its just not healthy - ill never get better this way - I know that. And I dont think he is willing to change his ways. Sad to throw it all away for what?

Don't give up!

As the betrayed spouse I relate to so much everyone is saying. My husband's affair began during the late summer of 2008 and D day was in February, 2009. These months were horrible for me until last year. I don't know why, but I got through 2013 without the dread and what ifs and whys. It has been the same this year. I even got through the UGA - South Carolina game this year without an upset stomach. I met the affair partner at that game in 2008. A friend of mine who had also been through an affair and healing of her marriage told me from the start that it would take 3 to 5 years to fully recovery and she hit the nail on the head with me. If both of you are committed to your marriage, hang in there. Respect and trust will be restored.

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