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

A Betrayed Spouse Chimes In - How I Recovered After My Husband's Infidelity

What follows is the personal story of a betrayed spouse. We hope that her story provides hope and insight to your own personal journey, regardless if you share the same worldview and faith.

As my husband walked through the door, I immediately knew something was wrong. He was supposed to be on a plane to speak at a conference, but instead was home, looking at me when he said,

"We need to talk."

I had never seen that look in his eye, and I knew something was wrong.

As we stood looking at each other uncomfortably, I heard the Lord say to me,

"You love this man and you will forgive him."

What did that mean??
What was going on??
What was I going to have to forgive?

I felt like my heart and mind froze in that moment.

You may not be a Christian or even believe in God, but for me, this moment was both comforting and paralyzing all at the same time.

For years, I had prayed desperately and agonized for our situation to change. My husband was never home. He was constantly traveling and serving the pastor's family and the church, all while we were growing more and more distant. I knew something was wrong, both with our marriage and with the amount of time he was spending away from home. The more he did for the "ministry" the louder he was applauded. His ego was no longer just inflated -- it was completely out of control.

When I brought up grievances or suspicions, he and church leadership led me to believe I was the crazy one.

I eventually began to believe that I was the problem; the never happy, overbearing and controlling wife. I even received counseling for my controlling tendencies and I was told to be submissive, supportive and to have more sex. I got tired of being the black sheep, so I figured if I kept my mouth shut and died a slow death inside, life would flow smoothly. It did, but I was a shell of a person and very bitter inside.

So, on that fateful day, my husband sat me down in our living room and proceeded to tell me that he had been in a two year affair with his assistant.

I KNEW IT!!! I was RIGHT!!!! All of my suspicions were true; the lies, the deception, the cover up. His audacity to continue this affair for two whole years, right under my nose is beyond me.

The realization that I was not crazy, but had actually been picking up on the truth was a relief that is hard to convey in words. It's hard to explain because it was relief coupled with the most excruciating pain and shock I have ever felt. I could hardly breathe, swallow or think. He offered to tell me anything I wanted to know. But I wasn't sure I wanted to know. I began to ask him questions and details until I couldn't handle it anymore. He apologized in tears, confessed his love, and said he would do whatever it took to make it right. It didn't matter.

It was already done.

He had an affair and had betrayed, hurt, and humiliated me. I didn't want him to say he loved me or to make things right. I hated him and wanted him away from me. The only reason he told me the truth was because other staff members were coming to my house the next day to verify he told me everything.

He was finally caught. The lies now had to stop.

As the truth of the situation slowly began to penetrate, I found myself overwhelmed with emotions I had never felt so strongly: shock, disbelief, horror, despair, anger, pain, and sadness.

With a newborn and two small children, I didn't know how I was going to make it. I switched to autopilot in order to provide the essentials for my children. I sifted through the options on an hourly basis: separate, divorce, or stay? All the while, the theater in my mind continued to play the details of the infidelity over and over again. I didn't sleep, barely ate, and cried constantly. Every time I looked at my husband, hate would well up in my heart, and I couldn't stand to be around him. The man I once loved and cherished now became the object of hate, disappointment and overwhelming grief.

I got on a plane with all three children and fled to a friend's house.

The stress and emotional chaos were overwhelming. My now 6 week old would not nurse and cried constantly, almost refusing to sleep. My other two children sensed the weight of the situation and cried for their daddy continuously. While at my friend's house, I continued to weigh the options: separation, divorce, or restoration? I tried desperately to hear God's voice, as even my friends (who hadn't been through infidelity before) were encouraging me to divorce.

I just wanted to figure out the right thing to do.

I was so confused. I felt like every negative emotion known to man ran through me on a daily basis. Because my husband was extremely broken, repentant and began pursuing recovery work, I had a glimmer of hope. However, I didn't know if I could ever forgive and move on with someone who had completely betrayed me, lied to me on a daily basis, and offered himself to another woman for over two years. It felt like I didn't even know who this man was. However, I was often reminded me of the words God first spoke to me that day, "You love this man and you will forgive him."

I eventually realized I was mad at God because he had allowed this to happen and now, He expected me to forgive this man.

I investigated and researched all my options and decided to just wait a while to make a final decision. When I returned home, I allowed him to stay in the house, but I distanced myself from him emotionally.

In the days that followed, I lost my job, my financial security, my friends, my church, and any security I had in my relationship with my husband. Believe it or not, my church family was "advised" to leave me alone. To ‘give me space' so I could heal.

We couldn't tell our family members. I only had two friends who lived in different states that were there to support me.

I felt totally alone and isolated.

Because we had been so visible in our community and our situation was so public, I decided we needed to leave the situation by moving out of state to be with one of my friends. It was a tough move because it meant leaving my family and my husband's family behind. However, I saw no choice. During this time, I was trying to find all the help I could: reading books, calling counselors, and researching online. One day I would be OK and could function reasonably well and the next was a roller coaster of emotional outbursts.

I physically attacked my husband.

I took an ax and destroyed a playhouse in the backyard. I "let myself" into the AP's home while she was gone and destroyed her belongings. I spray painted "whore" on her bed, stole her journal and took back all my family pictures on her walls! I threw things. I broke things. I slammed and broke doors. I wasn't sleeping and constantly got sick. I knew we both needed help to get through this but I had no idea where to turn.

Once we settled into our new home, we saw several different counselors which provided little relief and only more confusion and frustration. We finally ended up at Affair Recovery roughly six months after D-day. This is where, almost unbelievably, the tide began to turn. When we started counseling, I still was not 100% convinced that we could restore our marriage. I still had a back door open. But slowly, as we proceeded through the EMS Online course, that back door started to quietly close. As we worked through some gut wrenching and painful exercises, I began to feel that my husband was "getting it."

He was finally, finally beginning to understand how much he had hurt me. This was a big part in my healing.

Once I felt that he "got it," I was slowly able to own up to the issues that I had and how I had contributed to the downward spiral of our marriage.

Through the marriage course I was able to forgive the infidelity, express my pain, hurt, and anger in a healthy way, and focus on building a new foundation for our marriage. My husband changed dramatically as well, and was able to deal with things that had been issues for years. After the 13 week program, we continued with counseling and sought other resources.

Today, we are a little over 10 years out from discovery. I am so, so, so, so glad I decided to stay married. We have an incredible, loving, intimate marriage that is better than it ever has been. I see how close we came to losing that, and I am so grateful for all that we have today.

Of course, it did not come easy. Recovery is a PROCESS and it can be a LONG process; it is not instantaneous. The road can be long and hard, but it is so worth it. I wanted to communicate some of the details of my story, not for sympathy or pity, but to prove that even in dire circumstances there is still hope for restoration. Even when you're presumably forsaken by almost everyone close to you, you're not forsaken by God. God always has a way out and through.

Throughout the past ten years there have been endless miracles and bright spots straight from heaven that have brought me hope and confidence.

I am eternally thankful to Rick Reynolds and his team at Affair Recovery for saving our marriage. They are INCREDIBLE at what they do! They have helped to restore multitudes of marriages after infidelity. I am so happy and grateful that such an excellent resource exists for couples that unfortunately find themselves facing this crisis.

If you are stuck and don't know where to turn, please don't stay there. Get help. EMS Online was incredible for my marriage. I highly recommend at least giving your marriage a chance before you make a decision. Learn more about EMS Online here.

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Comments

Thank you

Thank you for this reminder that recovery is a journey. I am two years post d day, and still grateful for our reconciliation, but some days my mind still drifts backwards. AR saved our marriage, helped me save myself, and demonstrated with recovered men that there is another way to be a husband.

How I long for the reconnection you describe

It has been three and a half years since I discovered my wife's 2-year emotional affair with the married youth pastor at our church. The head pastor and church board kept my wife's name from going public and the youth pastor was fired, but everyone could connect the dots easy enough as our family left our church of nine-plus years. We were heavily involved in this church and, all these years later, I have yet to hear from our head pastor or his wife or barely anyone from that church outside of three married couples who stood alongside us. Broke my heart and I still have bitterness about how I felt we were silently "excommunicated" from our church family.

Back to our current state of affairs. My wife and I went through 2-plus years of individual and marital Christian counseling, but our marriage counselor really had no background in infidelity. Felt like we kept throwing jello at the wall each session trying to figure out how to reconnect.

We finally ended up doing something my wife had begged since nearly Day One and that was to move far way. We moved from all of our family and friends 2500 miles cross country to a new place we knew absolutely no one with our youngest child,a sophomore in high school.

So here we are and we basically just moved our baggage and history and the same disconnect 2500 miles. As each day passes, I basically tell myself I will gut it the final 2-plus years of my son's high school and then call this marriage of nearly 25 years quits. My oldest two kids are seniors in college and have their own lives. I am just fed up and frustrated, resentful, bitter and angry with my wife's lack of empathy, remorse and continued spiritual, emotional and physical disconnect when she is the one who was unfaithful.

I have been fervently praying, reading, listening to podcasts and watching videos on healing from affairs and have been doing this by myself. All it does is crush my spirit and make me question God's goodness and ability to make things right when I have been the one who has tried - by myself- to keep my marriage covenant intact.

Yes, I admit I have had issues and trials I have suffered through and needed help for as I haven't been the husband I have wanted to be. Three job losses over seven years will do that to a man who wants nothing more than to be the provider for his family. I did become angry at God and myself, but I have always pursued God throughout our marriage and be a Godly man. This has made everything so difficult and makes me question both God and my wife, who actually says she pursues God herself while remaining so disconnected. She says "I love you " to our kids, her family and friends, but hasn't said it to me in 6 years.

My heart breaks daily from the pain that I try to give to God. Just don't want to continue to show our kids what an unloving marriage lo9oks like. Unless God can work a miracle in my wife's heart and in our marriage, I am done!

Forgive or move on

I am anxiously waiting for a reply to your situation . I discovered my wife's 10 year affair about 4.5 years ago .
I am riding a rollercoaster . Hate and attempts at forgiveness and moving on or out. We are still " together " but I question my self everyday. My life has changed so dramatically over those years . I was so distraught and confused I lost my position and demoted. How can I forgive and forget the emotional hell I've been through .when will I allow myself to get out of it .
In short , you are far from alone .

Responsibility

I hear your pain and suffering and have all said it before myself. I don't know if you can hear your thoughts which are what is holding you back from your recovery. I prayed for God to change my husband's cheating heart, for him to take responsibility for the hurt and destruction HE caused. I prayed for him to get "help" and to "get it". I will tell you what I finally had to understand myself. He is not responsible for my happiness, I am. Who do I want to be in this life right now? Do I want to be bitter and resentful for the rest of my life? With him or not I will carry around that feeling. I don't want that, I don't need to do anything about him to work on me. What he does says about the feelings and thoughts he has, and I have no control over them. I have control over me and my thoughts, feelings and actions. I thought if he changed I would change, but that is just a lie the enemy likes to whisper. If he loved me I could be kind to him, honor him , love him. The truth is I get to choose all of it no matter how he shows up. You say " I am just fed up and frustrated, resentful, bitter and angry ...." when you are all of these things how do you show up in your marriage? How do you behave, act or your inaction? Honest I thought those things as well, and I showed up and acted unloving ,unforgiving , judgemental. I left no opening for my husband to be vulnerable, honest, remorseful or physical with me.
So what I learned was God didn't need to do a miricale in my husband's heart, but mine. God didn't need to change my husband but I needed God to change me, to change me to love unconditionally, forgive and take responsibility for only what I could, and that was me my actions, my thoughts, and feelings. Once I gave up my husband truly to God and stopped trying to control what he "should" be doing and controlled what I should be doing, changes started happening. I became the spouse my husband could come to and be vulnerable with, and in doing that, he was able to begin to feel love from me he desperately wanted, because all he had been feeling was my resentment, judgment and criticism. He had and still beats himself up, God tells us to love one another, not condemn. In our hurt and pain we do more of it than we realize and move further away from love. Love is a choice we get to choose in every moment, we can choose to love the other person no matter what they do.
This wasn't all that I learned, but what I learned that made the biggest shift in our relationship. Praying for you and your marriage, my God heal the broken pieces in you.

Thank you!!!!!!

Thank you for sharing your grac with us!!!!! Pray my husband does the same.

Responsibility

Tabitha, are you saying that once you started acting differently, more open, forgiving, loving unconditionally, that your husband did the same? Are you saying he completely gets it? Are you saying he started going to get help for himself once you started to not be bitter and angry? I just want to make sure I'm hearing you correctly. Please let me know if my description is not accurate.
Thank you for sharing your story

Betrayed spouse

Thank you for sharing your story! We are four years this week since DDay and I’m still struggling! We need to come to see Rick and team! Was reminded of where we were and where we’ve come! Encouraged by your story ❤️

Not sure I want restoration anymore

I found out about my husband’s affair over 4 years ago. I did everything possible to try to restore my marriage but I learned there is so much you can do on one side. In the meantime, my children, who are young adults and teens, and I live a miserable life with my husband at home. He is so selfish because everything is about him. I believe he is still in this overseas relationship. He thinks everything is fine and shuts us down when we try to voice our opinion on how everything is not alright. He won’t leave because he cannot afford to. My eldest and I are in counseling. The other two don’t want to go. He does not want to go. What type of help can we get? Do we need to wait until the affair is over?

Thank you

Thank you for sharing your story. We are coming up on 11 months from the first D-Day. We went to the EMS weekend, and have been seeing a great counselor (separately for now). There are good days and bad ones. Bad ones seem more prevalent as the 1 yr "anniversary" looms. I am committed to healing, and my wife is too. Thank you again for sharing your story. God bless.

The process...

We are 5 1/2 years post D-day (1st D-ay) and 5 years past D-day’s 2 & 3! We have made progress, especially me through AR, but my husband just wants to forget anything has happen and move on with out him really “getting it” and not to discuss what he’s done and the hurt and pain he has caused me and our adult children. We kind of are sleepwalking through the marriage without the proper resolution and restoration. Is it just up to me to just let it go without him understanding what his multiple affairs has has cost me?? I’m at the point that I think I need to suck it up and forget the past, it may be the only way for me to feel sane because I don’t think he’ll ever “get” what it has cost us. My health is suffering because this continues to weigh heavy on me - too much stress and feelings of resentment because of his insensitivity and lack of ability to understand my feelings.

I am right there with you

I am right there with you Debbie, we are 2 years out from the first Dday and my husband does not get it. He says he gets it, I just need to forgive and forget, never bring up his multiple affairs. If I can just "Get The -- Over It" we can be great. Due to his entitlement I have a lot of resentment.

happier now

Almost 2 years ago I found out my husband of 22 years had been having a very long time affair. I m still not sure how long as he cant remember when it started but it was about 7-9 years long. So almost half of our marriage. Yes, I knew something was not right but he kept professing that he was depressed/ stressed etc.
At first I thought I d work it out but at counseling he wouldn't take ownership and still today doesn't. The counselors we tried all brushed the affair aside. I decided to pursue a divorce.
Almost 1 year later after discovery, my husband found out he has stage 4 colon cancer. He is on borrowed time, may not see our youngest graduate high school. I offered to put the divorce aside and help him thru it. Ironically, he wanted to speed up the divorce as he doesn't want me to get "his money".
We are at a standstill now. He has decided to set aside his counter divorce( he accused me of having an affair) I think he s tired and lonely. The kids stood by me. Extremely disappointed in their father. While a good provider never really there. Raised our children in the church , they are concerned for his soul. I know the kids would like me to drop the divorce but as my youngest has said - " you re really happy now Mom I can tell"

Always knew something was wrong in our marriage but he lied so much. He travelled for work and therefor was able to hide the affair easier.

It s a sad situation all around. But I cant go back to him. Just too many lies.

Not feeling so alone today

From being a regular on this site, I know who the betrayed wife is. And reading her story makes me feel just a little less alone in this hell storm I was dragged into 19 months ago. I want to silently cheer you on for your bravado towards the other woman ... and I can only wish I could have had even a miniscule amount that you did.

Instead, I'm entrenched in the hatred that is talked about in this article. Hatred for what he did. Hatred for her. Hatred for society that blames the betrayed. Hatred for feeling like a coward instead of a lady for not avenging their actions and staying silent instead.

The ebbs and flows of this recovery work is for the birds. If not for the desire to protect the family unit ... that's what I keep repeating to myself over and over.

One of these days I'd love to have the inner peace that you do betrayed spouse ... I'm just not certain I have the patience to wait it out.

5 months out

I am amazed at the similarity in my story to the one told here. I had been hurting and suspicious of the closeness I saw between my husband and my "best friend" for years. Anytime I would ask him or even her about it, I was made into a villain for even bringing it up and also began to decide that I must be the problem. A very painful D day and a resulting loss of job, home, friends, and a move to a new state. I hope that we are able to take advantage of EMS soon. Thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to being able to say, "10 years ago".

Encouraging article/story

Thanks for sharing how you turned the worst pain possible(other than being nailed to a cross) into a great story of redemption

Thank You

Thankyou for sharing the detail of your story and your feeling with such honesty. I totally relate to it and am touched by how much your post and other shares resonate with my story and strong feelings as a betrayed spouce.

Helpful to know it’s likely to be a long process and that marriages can be saved. I am 2 years into the process of trying to heal and am still not there.

As I live in Europe, I hope to be able to connect with others in this space on the online courses in the near future.