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

Healing from Infidelity: Going it alone

It’s those positive changes made by the person who is working on their personal recovery that challenge their mate’s perspective and begin to create new hope that things could be different.

Standing Up For Yourself

Several years ago my daughter had to go it alone. It wasn't infidelity, but it was very scary for her nonetheless. A random set of circumstances created the need:

Her class had been left with no adult supervision. Another student decided to take that opportunity to play a form of music that she found offensive.

"Would you please turn that off or use your head set?" She asked nicely.

He ignored her.

"Please turn it off," she asked again.

The boy simply looked at her, ignoring the request.

At that point she got up and started for the door intending to find the teacher.

The boy responded by getting up and blocking the doorway saying,
You're not going anywhere."

"Let me out of here" she demanded.

The boy just stood there, doorway blocked. What happened next shocked everyone.

With one swift move she kicked him in the groin and as he doubled over she walked right by him to the principal's office.

To the other students it looked a bit like David and Goliath with my daughter at 5' weighing in at about 90 pounds while the boy was over 6'.

What disturbed me about the situation wasn't the boy's behavior, it was the lack of support from other students.

Why did she have to go it alone? Why didn't others support her?

Abandonment

Going solo in recovery from infidelity happens all too often, but the difficulties of that journey aren't just caused by one's mate choosing not to cooperate, often what is just as painful is the lack of support from others who they thought would be there for them.

"Did I miss something? Am I to blame? Did I do something wrong?" are often thoughts running through people's minds.

The resulting lack of support makes going it alone in healing from infidelity even more challenging. How does one cope and move forward into health when no one seems to be supportive and is it even possible to create change if you're the only one doing the work?

Infidelity can polarize people like no other life event. Everyone seems to have predetermined opinions as to how he or she would respond and how others should respond when they discover infidelity in marriage. Those predetermined opinions can create difficult circumstances if your decisions don't match their preconceived notions. The ensuing disappointment can leave either the injured or the unfaithful spouses on their own when it comes to working on the relationship and healing from infidelity. Tragically those caught in this dilemma find recovery even more challenging due to isolation and the disapproval from their former support system. As we've discussed in previous articles, the social shame a person deals with after the discovery of infidelity is another paralyzing force to be wrestled with.

Refusing To Get Help

Going solo also occurs when either the hurt or unfaithful spouse is unwilling to get help or address the problems created by the infidelity.

Someone's best choices have brought them to a place they never intended to be. Why would they think that continuing with the same beliefs and behaviors will now somehow get them out of there?

Regardless of the reasons, it's not uncommon for one spouse in the marriage to refuse help, leaving the other mate alone in their attempts to save the marriage.

In that circumstance can one person really make a difference?

The answer is an emphatic yes!

Changing Destructive Patterns:
Someone Has To Be The Healthy Person

In fact in most cases, it's changes made by just one of the partners that brings about marital change. Marriages don't change bilaterally they change unilaterally.

It takes both husband and wife covertly colluding to continue the same relational patterns to keep the marriage the same. If only one person changes the relational dance the other partner has no choice but to adapt in response to that change.

For example: If one partner withdraws and stops engaging their mate, they effectively change the dance of the marriage. If one party chooses to adopt healthier response patterns or to eliminate destructive response patterns the marital dance has to change. The person going solo in recovery from infidelity isn't powerless; rather they're the only one willing to make a difference.

Going it alone isn't about trying to control or manipulate one's mate into change; rather it's about taking responsibility for their own behavior and choosing to alter their own response patterns to ones which promote health. Attempts at changing one's mate have little if any effectiveness in improving marriage. However, the person going it alone can certainly explore how to grow into the person they want to be and how to alter their responses to promote health regardless of their mate's behavior. It's those positive changes made by the person who is working on their personal recovery that challenge their mate's perspective and begin to create new hope that things could be different.

Without the proof of change why would the disengaged party have hope?

At the very least, those who choose health and choose to address their personal issues grow as a result of what's happened.

My mate is never my problem,
but my mate always reveals the problem in me.

If at the very least the person going it alone will use the crisis of the infidelity as a catalyst for change, then personal transformation will occur and they will develop a deeper capacity for love and compassion.

Alone or Together?

If you're one of those who's having to go it alone, I applaud you for even reading this far. The road you're traveling is difficult indeed and yet I believe the personal benefits you'll reap in healing from infidelity will pay dividends for the remainder of your life regardless of what happens to your marriage. There are countless others on our site travelling similar journeys.

If your spouse or partner is still engaged in the recovery process, consider our EMS Online course. Maybe you can't find objectivity? Or perhaps you need third party, expert objectivity? You may have also decided you're no longer going to allow your relationship to stay stuck and you're finally willing to take a chance at something new. I'd like to encourage you to give our EMS Online course a chance to do what maybe nothing else has succeeded at yet. You can read more and sign up under the online courses section.

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Alone

There are days that I feel like I am doing this alone...like I am the one starting the ideas, the ways, even intimacy and I am the one that was betrayed. I sometimes want to know... why am I doing all the work and feel like I am a convenience? I mean I do see little moments that my spouse is trying and I give credit and appreciation. But I feel like my spouse should be the one making sure that I have no doubts we are in this together. I know I have things to work on and I am but I need to know for sure if my spouse is in it 100% or if this is just an easy way. HELP!

I already did take the time

I already did take the time to improve myself, he after cheating on me has made little to no effords to even communicate. He has so far brought me two gifts, so I know he figures throwing money at it makes it better. He also took me out to eat a few times, that would have been productive, had he also talked, but instead he did his usual huff and puff at the employees for not working fast enough thing. Very annoying to me and makes me feel not even to bother going to eat with him.

So my plan is simple, do the things I need to do to get my life in order and hope he realizes that technically I never needed him. It did stop the feeling that I was good enough for cooking, cleaning and laundering, now I do these things but on my terms, what I like eating, not what he likes, cleaning and leaving his messes for him to clean up. Again annoying since I like it neat, but I can overlook wrappers and socks on the floor easier now. He also does his own laundry now, which he already hinted to me that it is too much for him.

Since we still sleeping in seperate rooms, his room has not seen a vacum cleaner for a year now, neither has his bathroom been cleaned, but unless he asks me to do it and sits down for a good heart to heart talk about dreams, fears and goals for the future, this room mate living does not bother me.

He is trying to figure out how to get his old servant back, but so far has no success in it. Maybe someday, when I get the much needed conversations, I will take back over all the house work, but for now I life my life, from volunteering, hanging out with friends to just plain taking care of me and not at all worry about what he might need. I have healed and changed for the better. As for him, he has yet to find a comfortable life, he did however escape becoming a workaholic, figuring just throw money at the problem.

Not sure if he is able to change, but I can handle this for a long time to come. It does get lonely, but the Spring deadline is coming fast and then I will have to divorce him, to give me a chance to effentually find a man that will love and respect me.

Many things I done wrong, I realize this now, but I am done living my life around him and it feels wonderful.

 

 

Alone

I am working on my recovery alone now. My husband did participate in the 911 Marriage course and part of the Married for Life course, too. But he stopped working on recovery due to a new job, which lead me to register for anoyher course. I am very glad that I took the Harboring Hope course this summer. Once I resigned from my job, I could finally focus on my own healing after being betrayed. It was well worth the time and money! I have requested my unfaithful spouse to take the Hope for Healing course so certain behaviors and beliefs could be changed or worked on. He won't register for it and I cannot force him to, so I continue on my own path doubting that he wants us to work out. It has been a struggle, especially when the empathy from him has never been there. I know God is my source for healing and it hasn't been all bad in our marriage since dday, but we have made some recent choices that were highly destructive to our relationship after all the months of working on recovery. M It has been up and down emotionally due to the pain inflicted from my spouse's long term affair. I continue to work on myself, seek God, and get support from friends inside and outside the Affair Recovery programs. They have been beneficial, especially when put into application. I do not know our future, but I know I will be stronger and healthier either way.

Still Alone

I feel alone in my commitment and now I am wondering if I should exit it as well. My spouse has reneged on all her marriage promises, and now would like to stay married, but promises I will not receive any affection, physical or emotional. I feel I am being punished for choosing fidelity, love, and commitment. Two years since D-Day but not a step closer. I thought that her moving back home would help, but with the promise of no affection from her for the remainder of our life or marriage, I feel that maybe being truly alone would not be so bad. Unfulfilled desire is a punishment I am not prepared for- I truly believed that if I loved enough, she would also love me. I pray that I can recognize what God has planned for me as it is the only reason for me to want to live.

Fortunate to have friends

 

I read this article and recognize how lucky I am that I have friends that truly want what is best for me (and my wife). When I learned about my wife’s affair earlier this year (~8 months), I told most of my closer friends and figured that they'd lend an ear for a short time but have been amazed at how a number of them actually continue to ask me about how things are moving along, offering their suggestions and insight, and encouraging me along the way. I guess I was so surprised because I had never been this open to my friends as my wife had been my best friend and person I went to for everything (we've been married our entire adult life - a pretty good while as I just turned 38).

 

Where I struggle with my recovery and reconciliation is the fact that at times I feel like I am the only one that has our marriage as a top priority. If it were up to me, she and I would be reading nothing but self-help books, attending marriage and individual counseling at least once a week, and focusing on re-connecting. But I guess that is where some of our marriage issues came from - expectation-setting. I'm learning that there are other ways of accomplishing a task and that just because it isn't being done the way I think it should be, in the order I believe makes the most sense, and at the pace I'd prefer - doesn't mean she doesn't care or doesn't want to reconcile.

 

We are both growing at our own pace and I'm learning to be patient and I am so thankful for my friends and counselor who remind me of what she has done and is doing when I start to complain about her pushing out a marriage counseling session or reading '50 Shades of...' instead of a self-help book. It is at these moments that I want to give up and just move forward with a divorce but with two small girls and 20 years of history, I keep going at it for one more day. I don't know how much longer I have in me - we haven't had any level of intimacy or true connection in 8 months - but I want to be able to tell myself and my kids that I fought for our marriage and tried everything I could to get past my issues/hang-ups. I don't want to live a life regretting that I didn't give it my all - looking back on what I wish I had done. It is at times like these that I feel the most compassion for others in my situation (or my wife's) who don't have the support group that is so critical.

 

Good luck to everyone

Change is hardest

I wish I had this advice years ago. Even counseling I had received was inadequate to help ms see how I needed to change in response to my husbands acting out and emotional and verbal abuse. I lost years of my own peace of mind and financial security because I thought compassion and forgiveness would have been enough to heal my marriage... My husband did too good a job lying and leading me on with promises to get counseling - he would go half hearted and then stop with no changes. He'd say one thing than do another. I wasn't strong enough to leave... I recommend being mindful of the effects of your spouse's actions on your own peace of mind as a gauge to the actions you need to take to find peace. Be realistic about their degree of remorse and willingness to heal the relationship. Any spouse who does not express compassion or empathy about the pain they have caused is not a spouse worth keeping.... It's only when they are willing to heal is it worth it. I appreciate Ricks encouragement and must point out the need to be realistic about who you're dancing with... They have to be willing to learn new steps... If not, solo is better.

It's like you are sending

It's like you are sending these newsletters in tandem with the stage that I am at in this progress. Thank you so much. I'm hoping for a happy outcome but get stuck so many times waiting.I ask over and over, Why am I not there yet? What does there look like? I have no support except for you and you are truly a positive one. You give me hope when I see just sadness.

ALONE.........

My husband is very supportive and we both are working it out together and going to counseling. But one of the hardest things for me is the friends and family that I have lost because I what I have done. But I have come to realize if they were my true friends they would still be my friends. Which most of them have done the same mistake. But they are not my judge, I have one judge and that is Jesus Christ. We have few friends that are supporting us but that is all we need and of course each other.

You do not know Jana or

You do not know Jana or Molly. It is your choice to talk about your pain and struggles. I appreciate this website allowing a place for us to share. But I do not appreciate you deciding you know these people and telling them how they are wrong. Jana does have a unique situation but her hurts about being the betrayed are real. She is not justifying her affair or blame-shifting. She is trying to be a compassionate person for a hurting person.

Some of what Jana says

OMGOSH Yes yes and yes!! I could not of said it better myself!! You explained it in a way that only states the truth. Thank you, I feel much better now. My husband of 26 yrs cheated on me for 2 yrs. I just found out in June. He now thinks I should be over it. I feel so alone, miserable ect... It seems to me that the injured always gets the #@%& end of the stick and we are the ones that are supposed to make everything better while the cheater just wants everything to be as it was. To forget what they have done well it does not work this way it takes yrs to heal and to expect anything else it just being selfish all over again. So wake up all you cheaters and own up 100% to the bad choice you made that changed lives forever!

Going it solo...

For the last year (now 15 months after discovery), my husband and I tried counseling together and that seemed to help, but only until we slipped back into our old routine.  So I have been going solo since then, trying to repair our marriage by myself by trying to change him.  Two months ago, I found out that my husband had contacted his AP again, just to see how she was doing.  I was so devastated and it just brought me back to 15 months ago and I felt like I was reliving the pain all over again.  I was sad, and alone and close to depression.  I cried daily and my anger towards him grew to all time high. I was so angry that every chance I got that I would throw it in his face, but God knows this wasn't who I was or what I wanted to be.

So I sought Christian counseling and worked through a workbook called Freedom Through Christ with a church counselor.  It wasn't until I gave all of it~my anger, my unforgiveness, my mistrust, my guilt, myself~to God and finally began to heal.   I needed to stop being a victim of his actions.  I needed to stop asking, "Why me?"  I needed to stop putting my life on hold, not knowing whether I was going to stay in our marriage or leave. I wanted and needed to change me, not him.  It wasn't until then that I realized that for my mental health and physical well being, I needed to change me for me. I cannot control what he does or who he is.  I can only be responsible for me.  

God has given me the strength to go solo as Rick suggests and there have been some changes in my husband due to the changes I have made in myself. A more loving me certainly has made a more loving him, and I have failth that God will continue to give me the strength to make it through.  Now don't get me wrong, I still get upset and am triggered from time to time, and I am far from the doormat wife who is willing to just forgive and forget.  But believe me, even if your spouse is not willing to make changes or get the counseling they need, it will make a difference if you do....just for you.

I just thank you Rick for reaffirming what I have learned in the last few weeks.  Your timing is incredible!

Alone is Better than Not at All

I guess alone is better than not at all. But it is still very painful as the betrayed spouse to work on learning, growing, healing, and have the cheater just be content with hoping it all goes away on its own. Going on 3 years since the first DDay of strong suspicion and 1 year since finding concrete proof, with immeasurable lies and deceit, I can say I have benefitted with minimal/marginal help from my CW. What has helped me most is learning about the dynamics of affairs and find ways to improve my own attitude and disposition. Having some understanding of betrayal, the psychology, mind and thoughts of the cheater and how it happens has provided some solace that I'm not alone, it's not my fault and I do have worth despite how I was horribly disrespected. Learning more about myself, how to improve how I handle situations and finding self worth dovetails well with that. In the end you learn to detach from the cheater's despicable behavior and not let their ignorance drag you down.

Help pls...

What will I do if I found out that my husband talked & contacted the the other person again, after discovering his infidelity & made a promised that he will no longer talk nor contact the person aside from work since they work together. Pls help. I just want to really end this marriage. Although, he claimed that he stopped using escorts 6 months ago, after I found out, too. I just want to keep my sanity & worry about myself. Thank you ! & Gid bless!

Friends, church both gone

So when my wife had her 2-year emotional affair with our church youth pastor, it brought about a lot of devastation to our family, friends and church. Even though the youth pastor stepped forward and admitted what he did, the head pastor and church board allowed my wife to remain anonymous and didn't release her name and the youth pastor -- whose wife was also the church worship leader -- did not mention her name, either.

But this led us to leave our church of 9 years even though the youth pastor was fired because he stayed with his wife there for healing while we went our own way. Since this occurred 20 months ago since exposure (I don't call it disclosure because I exposed the affair since my wife never would have had the guts to do so had I not brought the overwhelming evidence to my head pastor) and there is no way in hell I wanted to stay in a church and look at the guy who had emotional affair (and who I once respected but don't any longer) with my wife.

So after we left our church and church family, our friends have all kind of gone by the wayside. My wife still stays in touch with a few ladies whose husbands I used to be friends with, but they have all but quit contacting me and talking to me. So I am doing this journey of healing by myself without any guys alongside me to assist. And yes, the enemy beats the living crap out of me almost daily, but I don't have anyone to talk to (God doesn't even listen to my cries and prayers -- or at least He remains silent), so when I fall I don't have brothers to help me up. It's a hard and difficult walk to be alone during this tragic part of my life and it doesn't help that I was laid off from my job five months ago before Thanksgiving, so I don't even have a place to go to get out of my house and focus my mind on something other than the shit that is life.

My wife and I are still very disconnected (she doesn't touch me, we rarely ever talk anything other than superficial life) and we still can't find a church home to plug in to, either, so it is very hard to connect with other people. Trying hard not to be a victim here or wallow in self-pity, but my value, self-worth and confidence have taken all-time hits and I am reeling without brothers in Christ. It royally sucks, but this is my life now. I will keep praying that I can work on myself and change on my own and without the help of others, but it is a very slow and painful walk and I keep getting the shit kicked out of me daily as I struggle to find employment, which continues to lead to more knocks on my value, self-worth and confidence. I already have a wife who doesn't love, respect, cherish or believe in me and now my career field pretty much reinforces that same thing to me daily and the lack of hearing God in prayer or reading the Word also just allows the enemy to beat me to death.

Actually death seems like more of a peaceful acceptance some days. The only thing keeping me from doing something so stupid and tragic is I am wanting to leave a legacy for my children and I would really like to reconcile with my wife. Just not sure about life anymore and these trials and tribulations are really zapping any joy out of my heart, mind and soul.

I Resemble This

I hear you deeply and loudly. I can completely understand where you are coming from. The isolationist, The Devil, is loving the shame and pity that we are so easily ensared by and the movies he keeps playing in our heads. Perhaps you should return to the place God called you to. It's just like the enemy to try and separate, isolate and remove you from the places you are called to be. Perhaps you should all meet with the Pastor (you, your wife and perhaps the ex youth pastor too) to talk about returning to the Church. You guys are withering spiritually and without that, you will dry up indeed.

Death, while seemingly peaceful, is an illusion because the collateral damage you will leave behind is devastating for your family, and as you stated - the legacy will be a terrible one.

This is so hard and my heart, while also breaking, breaks for you. I pray you found the Prince of Peace - who is LIFE and LIFE more abundantly.

144man

Going It Alone

I very much affirm the content of this article. As the hurt spouse, I dissociated for many years about my wife's adultery, but then found – for whatever reasons – that it was coming up again and that I had to deal with it in the open with her. After an initial collaborative conversation, she resumed resisting further resolution: I should be over it; we'd talked about it enough; it was too painful for her, etc. So I had two seasons of having to work on it alone – through reading, journaling, praying, following podcasts and websites like this one. Over time, I recovered enough self-respect to insist that we work on the issues, and now she is fully cooperative, even collaborative. Working alone was painful and difficult, but, much as described in this article, it was changing the dance of our relationship, and now we're truly dancing together again. Yes, sometimes stepping one each other's toes, but recovering well.

northeasterner....such a great comment

I think the comment "I recovered enough self-respect to insist that we work on the issues, and now she is fully cooperative, even collaborative" is so spot on.  i'm so glad you said that as I think so many betrayed spouses get lost in that conundrum, that they don't know how to break out.  you hit the nail right on the head.  thank you for posting that and commenting.  

Affair

I feel like my life will never be normal again.
Is it worth the work? That is the question I have the most trouble with ----or is it easier to move on.
How do I ever trust again?

it's normal sara....

fact is, one day you'll be in a new normal again. the pain will fade, the heart will be healed and you'll find new life once again.  maybe in the marriage maybe not.  it seems easier to move on, but it's not always easiest.  there is the illusion that 'hey starting over will be so much easier.'  not always and there's no guarantee at all.  here's a great article rick wrote on trusting again and i think you'll find it to be extremely helpful:  https://www.affairrecovery.com/shocking-truth-about-trust  you won't know till you give it a shot.  don't believe the lie that just cutting the line and moving on is ALWAYS easiest.  there are all sorts of people who tried that and hated it.  you have to do what you feel is right, right now and then see how it goes.  the site is a great place to find healing, restored trust and a pathway through.  i would give the ems weekend a shot and see what happens as it will change both of your lives for sure. let me know if i can help at all. 

Forgiveness

My discovery was brutal in that it dripped out over 4 months. I still do not know all the details but probably know as much as he does. What I do know is that he broke it off before I found out and that he told her he was going to try to make it up to me. He also told her that he regretted hurting his wife. However, I know in my heart that I will never trust him or feel safe again. All of a sudden being single seems like such a calmer existance. I pray every day for the courage to do the right thing.

Affair

I am just so exhausted by the emotional toll this has taken on me.

Trust

My problem is now that the emotional dust has settled (14 months and I am not crying every day). I question my choice to stay. My husband's warts are much more noticeable than pre affair.

Hope drifting away daily nearly 3 years post discovery

My wife and I went through marriage counseling twice a month for nearly 2 years following my discovery of her 2-year emotional affair. Nearly 3 years later, I feel like we are still at the very first step. She is still as disconnected as ever and I find myself seeing a future without her because I just can't bear to continue living in such an isolated and painful marriage on a daily basis. My No. 1 love language is physical touch and there has been no kissing, holding hands, cuddling, hugging at all for years now. And she never smiles at me and I even when we talk I can hear her disdain for me in her voice.

I feel I've been a very, very patient man, especially since she hurt me so much from disconnecting in our marriage. At what point do you just call it quits and move on? I have been praying and pondering this for months now. It is troubling since we have two adult children and one more still in high school. So many things to consider. I have been praying for peace and a breakthrough for years now but to no avail.

I am two years out from my

I am two years out from my wife's affair and I find myself in the same boat as you Mr. Wanting Victory. We went through an EMS weekend and things got better about 18 months after Dday discovery. Then she fought the after care with our small group doing the MFL. Now we are just back to where we were before her affair. Same marriage, no growth other than she communicates her whereabouts to me so I know where she is. I didn't go through hell to come out the other side with the same shitty marriage. I like you have started to picture what things would look like if I was on my own. A sad place to be for sure. Not what I want, but she broke it and I refuse to go back. She is on this forum as well, but I have no fear she would ever read this because I highly doubt if she has ever gotten on here.

I'm there too!

I can so relate to you. It has been a little over 2 years since D-day for me of my huband's multiple affairs the year of 2015. I feel like I'm the one who did something wrong. I'm tired of begging him to start over. We have 3 adult children and our youngest just graduated HS this week. As much as I don't want to, I think I'm going to walk away.

Going it alone

This really hit home. I’ve completed EMS weekend and just recently completed Harboring Hope. Just yesterday I discovered my spouse Is back with his AP. I feel I’ve been punched in the gut. This situation has been going on since late 2011. Unfortunately I’ve reached the end of my rope. This man is a hopeless case. I can’t understand how a person can be so selfish and self centered. And like many articles I’ve read by Samuel I know he doesn’t accept any personal responsibility for what he’s done. The affair was according to him because I neglected my marriage. I’m done fighting. My current counselor has met with him and has advised me to move on. I’m so deeply saddened by this. I will going it alone.

I'm with you

I'm so sorry to hear what has happened. My spouse did not go back to his AP, but we are splitting up. So, I'm going it alone too. Be strong!! And know that you are not alone.

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