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

Healing from Infidelity: Going it alone

infidelity healing aloneDavid vs. Goliath—A Personal Reflection

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 rap 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. My daughter is about 5’ weighing in at about 90 pounds while the boy was over 6’, but 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 one 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. If 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?

Changing Destructive Patterns: Someone Has To Be The Healthy Person

The answer is an emphatic yes! 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.

Your Own Personal Transformation

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. If you’re looking for resources and you’ve been betrayed, consider joining Harboring Hope. You’ll find others who understand and will support you on your journey. If you’ve been unfaithful consider joining Hope for Healing. You’ll find others who will offer support as you move forward in your journey. Last of all please don’t be discouraged. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through the years, you can never tell the end of the story by the beginning. Learn to accept what you can’t change and have the courage to change the things you can.

 

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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!

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