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

Advice for Holly Petraeus

Recently I asked our betrayed spouse bloggers if they had any advice to offer Holly Petraeus. As evidenced by our “bad advice” blog post, there’s often a shortage of good advice. Most people believe they know what they'd do after the affair, but when confronted with that reality they discover how complicated the situation is and realize that simplistic responses don't always apply. If any of you know how to reach Holly Petraeus, I hope you’ll pass this along.

Our blog located at http://www.affairrecovery.com/our-blog serves as continuous encouragement and insight for both betrayed and unfaithful spouses who need an empathetic and educated community to support them in their recovery. As Dana, one of our bloggers wrote the other day “Good advisers help to heal. All others should be avoided.” Our hope is to provide redemptive support for those who are looking for new life for themselves and their families. This week I’d like to give some examples of caring and sincere support from our betrayed spouse bloggers who’ve actually been there before and would be more than willing to give all the support possible to Holly (and to you) in your recovery.

Dear Holly,

I'm so sorry for the pain you must be feeling. As you look forward, I would encourage you to focus on your own healing right now. The time for decisions, especially about divorce, will come, but the decisions you make will be better if you give yourself time to grieve and process first. Also, ignore all of the well-wishers who think they know what you need to do. You are an intelligent woman and capable of sorting through this yourself. Consider writing the decisions that press you on a piece of paper. I suspect one of them will be "Should I divorce him?" Put it in an envelope and seal it up. On the outside write, "Do not open until ____________." Write a date in the blank that makes sense to you, maybe a month from now or maybe six months from now. In either case, once you've sealed the envelope let it go. Whenever you wonder what you should do, stop and remind yourself that you promised that you would not open it until that date. In the meantime, let yourself be sad, open yourself to comfort from others, and journal it all. When that day comes, I'm certain you will be much better prepared to make good decisions about how to move forward with your life.

Blessings,

Dana

 

Dear Holly,

I am so sorry you’re in this situation. I know the utter devastation I felt and my situation wasn’t nearly as public as yours. I can hardly imagine what this must be like for you.

If at all possible, I would stay away from the media and avoid giving interviews. My experience taught me that you never have to take back or clarify what you don't say. Also, I'd suggest you not watch or read the news for the time being. In my case, dealing with my husband's betrayal was almost more than I could bear. The last thing I needed was the additional pain created by opinions and misinformation.

Beyond that I wouldn’t know what to suggest other than a cooling off period. Give yourself time to recover from the initial shock and to assess the state of your husband's heart. Is his heart soft, or is he indifferent to your feelings? Is he willing to take steps to recover his own heart as well as that of the marriage? Finding the answers to these questions may help you discover your best course of action.

Sincerely

Abbie

Dear Holly,

This is Stephanie, Rick’s wife. My heart goes out to you; this is an indescribable pain, as I well remember. Nothing prepares you for this in your marriage. The media is cruel beyond description. I reiterate the suggestion not to read/listen to any of it. They definitely do not have your best interest in mind. A word of caution: I was tempted to share Rick’s fallen nature with friends and family who had no reason to be involved. I needed to hear that I was the better person. Resist any temptation along these lines, if at all possible. Whatever you uncover in your husband will be something that possibly will be thrown in your face, should you make a decision to reconcile. Be the one who takes the high road, even when justified to defame. You will never regret this decision, nor have to defend it to your children.

Sincerely

Stephanie Reynolds

If you want to help Holly or anyone else in the midst of this pain, show them how much you care about them. Keep them close to you, and tell them how much you need them and appreciate them. Love and take care of them. Don’t look down on them unless you’re helping them to get up. Remember, if the support isn’t redemptive, perhaps it’s not being offered in the right mindset or spirit and shouldn’t be given at all.

Whatever side of the affair you may find yourself on, there is a community of support available for you. Regardless of the shame and the pain associated with the details of the situation, you’ll be safe in any one of our online communities. If you’re a hurt spouse who needs a community to stand by you in your recovery, you may consider Harboring Hope for an excellent source of direction, insight and comfort. Perhaps, if you’re an unfaithful spouse and need help understanding how to heal yourself and how to help your spouse heal, you should consider the Hope for Healing course as it will provide both a framework for recovery as well as other men or women to stand with you as your pursue personal and marital restoration.

See more blog posts by Dana

 

See more blog posts by Abbie

 

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Re: Advice

 A word of caution: I was tempted to share Rick’s fallen nature with friends and family who had no reason to be involved. I needed to hear that I was the better person. Resist any temptation along these lines, if at all possible. Whatever you uncover in your husband will be something that possibly will be thrown in your face, should you make a decision to reconcile. Be the one who takes the high road, even when justified to defame. You will never regret this decision, nor have to defend it to your children.

 

I am glad I resisted this temptation.  I kept telling myself, it is his story to tell.  No good could have come from telling others.   

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