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

It Seems I've Missed the Mark

Given some of the comments over the past few months I felt I needed to clarify Affair Recovery’s core beliefs. I also want to respond to those of you who were troubled by the analogies used in the newsletters. Up front let me say thank you to those of you who’ve given permission for me to publically respond to your comments. You’re willingness to help is appreciated more than you’ll ever know.

I’ll begin with responding to a few of the negative comments:

  1. This comment is from my post titled “Is My Mate Safe?”

This post gives the unfaithful spouse a free ticket to infidelity. I've read this type of sentiment over and over. My own spouse went through so many lies in trying to justify his actions and then finally came up with this very explanation…. blaming me for not meeting HIS needs. And in trying to recover, his response to me is "Well, if you would change, then we can get back to the way we once were.” This is so upsetting.

Stop blaming the faithful spouse! Take FULL responsibility for being unfaithful. It starts with the unfaithful spouse taking the reigns on this one, otherwise how can the betrayed spouse even start to feel safe and trust again.

I agree 100%. In fact I began that article pointing out the reactions you needed to look for to determine whether or not they’re safe. If they are not taking responsibility and if they are justifying what they did they are most likely not safe!

In hindsight it’s clear I did not do enough to clarify my point in this article and I can assure you as long as I’m around, Affair Recovery will never take the position that the marriage or the betrayed spouse is responsible for another person’s betrayal. Bad marriages do not cause affairs, they may increase vulnerability, but that in no way is an excuse for betrayal nor does it cause betrayal. Bad choices are at the root of infidelity, not bad marriages.

At the same time, if the hurt spouse isn’t responsible for the choices made by the unfaithful spouse, we also believe the unfaithful spouse isn’t ultimately responsible for the choices made by the hurt spouse. I’m responsible for me and my reactions. At AR it’s understood that the extreme pain, trauma and disorientation generated by infidelity trigger behaviors and responses that are completely out of character for many of our participants, but you can no more take responsibility for your mate’s recovery than they can for yours. If there is to be reconciliation each party has to take responsibility for themselves and has to choose to be safe enough for the relationship.

Someone else may have caused the wound, but each of us has to take personal responsibility for our healing and how we choose to respond. It’s not fair that the person who hurt you is not the person who can heal you, and it’s not fair that another person’s bad choices have created a lot of hard work for you in recovery, but I do hope you won’t let that stop you from taking control of your own recovery. It is about progress not perfection, and hopefully caring is communicated as each party takes responsibility for ways they wound one another. For there to be recovery, each person has to work at keeping the relationship safe to give each party and the relationship a chance to heal.

  1. These comments are from my post “How Wise Are You?”

I'm offended at your comparison of an infant to an affair! There is no comparison. The infant knows of no other way but to become frustrated and scream for help. The betrayer made a free willing choice to have an affair. The betrayed spouse has lots of choices once the affair comes to light. Please do not compare an infant to such a hurtful event. I find this article useless and not helpful to either spouse. Comparing and infant to an affair is insulting. Please follow up with a better comparison. Thank you

As I get older I think my communication skills are getting weaker. I pray you’ll be patient with me. Actually I was thinking more of the hurt spouse than the unfaithful spouse when I wrote this. At Affair Recovery we believe that “healed individuals are vital guides.” Basically, that only those who’ve traveled this path and have found a new and meaningful life understand what it takes to recover. To find an extraordinary life of meaning and purpose after an affair requires a beginners mind. If we knew the path we would have taken it, but like the infant we only know what we know. Hopefully we find others who, through their experience, have learned something we don’t know and they can provide us direction to find new life.

I apologize if it seemed I was minimizing the seriousness of those who’ve been betrayed by using the analogy of an infant. I want to convey the need for surrender in recovery; that we can’t solve a problem by the same consciousness that created it, and an infant is about as humble as one can get. Maybe it is a bad analogy, but when we can accept maybe we don’t know what to do and let go of our old ways of being then new alternatives come into view and we can find freedom.

I turned to this site as a tool to help me get through one of the darkest points in my life. I have no one to talk to about my husband's infidelity........not because of pride but for his protection from the negative out lash he would be subjected to by those closest to us. In addition, a big part of me is not up for the opinions of everyone (expressed or unexpressed) about how I should handle the situation.

My husband agreed to counseling but became defensive. I found this site and was hopeful to receive practical advice, find comfort in knowing that I was not alone.

For as many good articles, the articles that lay condemnation on both parties, betrayer and BETRAYED, have reached a level of grotesqueness. I will not be victimized again and again and again by a resource that claims to be a tool for restoring a marriage affected by infidelity. Why am I surprised by articles that always look to shared blame.........knowing the background of Rick as a betrayer. Talk about self-deception.

Admittedly this one is painful to read. At Affair Recovery another of our core beliefs is that unconditional dignity and respect are essential. At AR we don’t believe in blame, we believe each person is responsible for themselves. If it’s any other way then we do become victims. As a betrayer I understand I’m responsible for me and I choose not to blame anyone for my failure. I own it. I also understand the extreme pain and disorientation generated by infidelity and do not place blame in anyway on the hurt spouse for their responses. I seriously doubt I would respond as well as most of the people I’ve worked with were I to be in their circumstance. You may not agree, but I’m concerned when people view themselves as victims and surrender their ability to protect themselves.

We never fall over the what, we always fall over the why. At times I think I fail miserably, but the “why” I do this is to empower people; the last thing I want is to add to people’s pain or to blame them for their situation. If I came across as blaming them I beg your forgiveness and only hope you can see my heart.

At Affair Recovery we believe:

  • Unconditional dignity and respect are essential.
  • Community serves as a catalyst for healing.
  • Healed individuals are vital guides.
  • Every life can be restored.
  • Severe crisis leads to radical transformation.
  • Failure teaches what success cannot.
  • The pain of infidelity can be healed.

Over the past few weeks I fear I’ve wounded some of you. I pray for patience. I hope that some day you’ll be able to see the passion those of us at Affair Recovery possess for those of you in the midst of the journey. Thank you for your feedback. It’s invaluable as we go forward. Those of you who’ve left the constructive feedback are an invaluable part of our process. Please don’t stop. It’s your feedback that helps us stay the course and provide what’s needed for recovery.

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Comments

I am sad to hear that some

I am sad to hear that some hurt spouses feel attacked by your articles. I would like you to know your articles have been very helpful to my recovery as a hurt spouse. Although probably a little easier for me as my husband realized the magnitude of what he had done and has been willing to do anything to help me heal and restore our relationship. We are a year and 7 months out. There were so many days I just wanted God to take me. Reading your articles and the articles of the other bloggers have provided some hope when days were dark. I agree with the above spouses in saying that the infidel makes his own choices, and it us not the hurt spouses fault. At the beginning i felt a little like this, that i was being blamed, especially because it was my husbands initial reaction on revelation day and the next few days following. But through the healing I have realized with Gods direction where I have fallen short as a wife, friend, and lover to this man I promised to cherish for the rest of my life. Thankfully through this pain something glorious has come, my husband "the agnostic" has given his heart to Jesus. There is no other explaination except a miracle from God for this to have happened. Though we may not see or know it now I truly believe God has a reason for allowing this to have happened......something better was waiting!!!

Your comment

I was very thankful to read your words. My journey with recovery is still in progress being 10 months from when I found out. I agree with you when you say that God has a reason for it. I also believe that sometimes God lets go of our hand for a moment to let us plow into where we have headed ourselves. If nothing more than to show us our way is not the right way. God should do the directing, not us. The more we strayed away from our duties as a wife the harder we will be hit when infidelity happens because the more correction is needed to get back to where we need to be. I don't excuse my husband, but we would probably be divorced if God wouldn't have intervened. If you ever want to exchange stories, I can always use a clear-headed, God-centered opinion such as yours. God Bless

Insight

Rick, I applaud your humility and willingness to evaluate the unintentional hurt that may have been communicated in past posts. I have experienced the pain and destruction of betrayal personally and can totally relate to some of the comments represented in your article. Of course a major problem in today's society is the need to place blame or find a reason why something happened. I liken my experience of betrayal as to being run over by a Mac truck. I was walking on the sidewalk and the truck left the road and completely flattened me. The severity of the attack put me in the hospital for months, and for a little while, as I fought for my life in the emergency room, I didn't know if I would even make it. To say that I was to blame for the truck running me over and putting me in the hospital feels obscene and demonic for lack of a better term. However, I also know that while I didn't run myself over, I had to participate in my recovery if I ever hoped to walk again. I had to go to physical therapy, take drugs and do whatever the doctor said to be able to function normally again. This decision to heal is not easy, especially when no one is out looking for the driver of the truck to bring them to justice, and in fact are insinuating that you somehow inflicted the injury on yourself. As a Christian community, we must stress the importance of personal responsibility, in fact this is the heart of courageous living. The betrayer must fully and completley accept all responsibility as the Mac truck driver, the betrayed must decide if they will live a life of victimization forever, and the helpers (doctors, nurses etc in this picture) must resist the need to blame the victim. Thanks so much for what your do to bring healing and insight; you are doing a great job; keep it up.

My husband had an affair so I

My husband had an affair so I know all of the feelings that come with the aftermath. Without having to go there, since we all know that part of it very well, I will say that none of the articles I've read have offended me. I've always sought out my responsibility in every situation that I've been involved in; good ones and bad ones. It's actually harder for me to take responsibility for something that turns out well! (I feel like I'm bragging if I do...) However, in situations where things go wrong, I can point out exactly what I did to contribute to it being that way. Where I draw the line is when my husband made the choice to cheat. Did I withhold? Yes. Was I closed off and withdrawn? Yes. Unloving at times? Yes. All of those things that I own up to contributed to the vulnerability of my marriage. It was my husband's decision to take those things that I did and use them against me in the form of an affair. He owns that one; not me.

Amen to that!!! Reading your

Amen to that!!! Reading your post was like looking at myself in a mirror. I recognize and accept my failures and the ways I contributed to the breakup of my marriage, but I absolutely do not accept the lie that I "caused" him to cheat. I can no more do that than I can cause him to over eat or physically abuse me.

A response to Rick's "It seems I've missed the mark....."

Sometimes it think it is hard to hear/read the things we need to hear/read. My discovery of my husband's multiple affairs was nothing short of complete devastation for me, our family and our friends. I would never ever have made it through without the hard honesty and insightfulness that Rick and his team at AR and my Harboring Hope group. I agree that as the betrayed spouse it is hard to self-reflect given the "but for your cheating....I wouldn't have ....." argument - trust me, those words came out of my mouth almost 100 times a day. But I can only control "me", I am only responsible for "me". I can choose to be a victim and let the actions of my now ex-husband define who I am OR I can disempower him and become fully responsible and accountable for myself, my actions and my destiny now given this new set of facts. Sometimes it is really really hard to hear that we, the betrayed spouses, need to forgive the betraying spouse - but as the 3rd affair partner of my ex-husband told me AFTER she found out he cheated on her .... You HAVE to forgive because if you don't, it's like taking poison every day while waiting for the other person to die. No truer words could have been spoken to me at that time from one of the people who was complicit in the destruction of my marriage. It takes only one to destroy the marriage but it takes not just two but a village to save one. Give Rick a break.... Maybe some self-reflection as to why you are reacting in such a way is the real question to ask, rather than blaming Rick for "failing to find the right words".... It is a process but it is our own process. I'm 2 years out, still battling in the court BUT I am finally "mostly" happy but most importantly, I am free of the victimhood, the anger and the placing of blame. I hope you each find your path. Thank you Rick for all that you and your people do every day.

I do not feel as if you

I do not feel as if you missed the mark. I think that when we are wounded we often interpret things in a less than objective fashion. Take the baby analogy. I know that upon discovery of my husbands affairs and for many months afterward I was helpless like an infant and my ability to think of new ways to respond and problem solve were stifled. I have been reading your articles for over a year and have always felt them to be supportive of recovery for both spouses. However, true recovery requires both parties to take a hard look at themselves, their responses and behaviors, and thinking patterns that might adversely impact their ability to be in relationship with God, others, and themselves. That by no means absolves the betrayer for the responsibility of their choices and I have never taken your writings to indicate that betrayed spouses are responsible for the affairs of their mates. However, my grandmother told us as children that " if we keep doing what we're doing we will keep getting what we've got" and that definitely rings true with recovering from the devastation of an affair for both spouses. You wrote an article about grief a couple of weeks ago that I felt was very poignant and spot on to where I am right now. Unfortunately, it appears that some of the feedback that you received made you change course. I ask that you please keep course with what is on your heart to write about. There are many of us who read the articles very quietly and are in need of the information and insight that you are providing.

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Rick and friends, I read

Rick and friends, I read these comments and think to myself that a few of these thoughts have crossed my mind in a fleeting fashion. I believe the core of this site is RECOVERY and everyone needs to remember if we are on this site reading articles written from a perspective that we have probably not considered. Some of us are also not ready to begin a recovery process. I, personally, think of the time following the affair being brought to light, as an ACUTE injury...meaning bloody mess, stitches for survival, bandages for wounds to just survive until we get stabilized. Some of us take a really, really long time to stabilize and are even touch and go, as individuals. Repairing or recovery is not even in site during this time, nor the repair of the relationship, necessarily. There are many assessments we make along the way to begin healing. There are few resources that even support the healing of a marriage after an affair- it is not exactly a socially acceptable route. Self preservation is first. Unfortunately, repair did not happen in my case, but I remain on this site because I believe it offers personal hope and also some very good information for learning to trust again in future relationships, even if that is not with my former spouse. It also gives me strength to deal with my X in my interactions over our 5 children. I still have to take a Xanax with every interaction, but I am slowly learning to stop allowing so much power in my new life. That is all I wanted to say. I use a lot of analogies in my communicating with kids, adults, friends and strangers and sometimes I think later about whether they really understood my point and maybe my comparison was not the best one...always 20/20 perspective after, but it is good to speak up when we do not understand or if we are the party that needs to re-explain:) Thanks, Kelly

Sometimes I read the comments

Sometimes I read the comments posted on your articles and wonder how people can completely misunderstand what you are saying. I am a hurt spouse and I have never once felt like your articles blame the hurt spouse--much to the contrary. It is the betrayer who is always blamed for their own actions. As the hurt spouse you do have to accept that your marriage was not affair proof and that there must be something that can be improved about your marriage--usually communication. You also have to get past playing the blame game. You can only control you and your spouse can only control your spouse--that makes each of you 50% responsible for your relationship--it's not about blame, it's about understanding that you both have to work together to get the relationship you want. If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten. It's tough and it's not fair and it's easy to fall into blaming the betrayer. But out of something to absolutely terrible, something more amazing can be born. I can see it being born in the strengthening of my relationship with my husband. And although what he did hurt me more than I ever imagined I could even be hurt, there are so many positive things that have come from it. I have been working on shifting my focus from the negative to the positive, which is what has helped me get past the blame and move on to building something new and better than what we had before.

The whole scope of infidelity

The whole scope of infidelity is bitter, ugly, painful and life changing. God bless you as imperfect humans for attempting in any form to help other imperfect humans. Thank you sincerely.

Missing the Mark

I don't think anyone ever intended to add insult to injury in any of these articles. Majority of the articles have been helpful to both me and my spouse. I found out in Dec 2011 about an affair my husband had had 6 years prior. A month later, in Jan 2012, I found out about an affair he had in 2011 with a woman he was currently working with. Then 2 months after that I found out that he was still texting the woman he had just had the affair with. The truth came out...gradually, and it was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through. I continue to wrestle with the pain of the betrayal, but I have forgiven him. Forgiveness is the hardest thing to do, but I had to do it for me. It took him a few months, but he has come to take FULL responsibility for EVERYTHING, and he blames me for NOTHING. He realizes his selfishness and is repentant. I've watched as he has cried for what he's done to me and to our marriage of 15 years. Only because of the change I have seen in him has it been possible for me to take responsibility for the problems I contributed to our marriage. As I told him, I will never take responsibility for his choices. The affairs are 100% his fault. But I will take responsibility for my contribution to the problems we had PRIOR to his infidelity. Never will I accept what he did or think that our troubled marriage was a reason for his stupidity. He can never fix what he broke; only God can heal me, and He's doing just that. But in order to reconcile the marriage, both parties have to come together humbly to work on what was wrong before the betrayal began. That, of course, cannot happen until the healing from the affair begins.

Can't please everyone.

As my husband and I deal with infidelity, we appreciate the analogies and straight forward articles. I think some people are still so hypersensitive and angry that anything they read going offend them. Keep up the good work Rick, et al...

sensitivity

Notice that these 'negative' comments are only given by the betrayed spouse? After my husband's betrayals (one affair seven years ago and one revealed in March with the same coworker) I have felt like a crazy person... not always rational, and hypersensitive. I second guess myself and have to concentrate very hard to handle the everyday stresses of being a full time middle school teacher, mom to three teenagers and on top of that, the stresses of being a military spouse, etc. I would love to hear a discussion or article about affairs in the military and the blatant permissive climate for extramarital affairs amongst its members that seems to have infiltrated its ranks. Peace to all...

military

Debbie, I too feel there is not enough information or support of the military and affairs. Nor have I been able to find good valued info on long term affair with NO ...yes they say NO love or real intimate feelings for the affair partner. The counselor we see just looked at me and said military persons have immature emotional development. I do not fully agree with that as I think you must not judge as all or nothing. I believe rank, responsibility, and life situations contribute to a falling in the relationship. Certain jobs within the military and community helper genre call for people to have a God like mindset in order to do their job. Just my 2 cents worth. I pray that there is more to offer the military...Wounded Warrior families, and Veterans so they can make it as intact and full of grace and mercy as God calls us to bestow on those who sin and ask for redemption. Blessings and Love

Follow-up to Is your mate safe?

Dear Rick: I, like many of your readers, appreciate your articles, but in most cases don't comment. I am a hurt spouse and my husband of 37 years has been involved in an affair for 5 years. My discovery was 2.5 years ago and it has been a roller-coaster of emotional strife that all of you have experienced in varying degrees. My "mate" wasn't safe. but I never felt your comments gave him a free ticket to infidelity. He doesn't like your comments about whether or not he's safe and I'm sure that is his guilt talking. He's currently in a 5 week in-house treatment program that I trust God has led him to, where he has voluntarily admitted he needs help for his sexual addiction to her. So Rick, maybe he has finally internalized that "he's not safe." Keeping writing Rick - Your message hits home and yes, sometimes we don't want to hear what you're saying but you are God's messenger. Debbie

I'm proud of You!

Rick, I appreciate so much your willingness to dig deep and not just look for the affirmation of those who are pleased by your work and go and make amends to the hurt few...affirming them and not yourself. That is true leadership and true love for the people you tirelessly labor for....

Missing the Mark article

I think a lot of hurt spouses see comments about "working on/repairing the marriage" and the infidelity as a cause and effect. If the infidelity hadn't taken place, there wouldn't be discussion on repairing the marriage regarding preexisting conditions. My marriage is a perfect example. We were in a happy, healthy, loving and respectful marital environment, full of trust. My spouse betrayed me for 2 years with 2 different women on 8 separate occasions. I found out almost 2 years ago this month and we have been married for 21 years.. It still hurts like hell but there is nothing more to talk about so we don't. I will not change who I am or how I approach my marriage. He made poor choices when offered to him by 2 desperate pathetic women, he never cared for them and never stopped loving me. A man that gave 100% to a marriage now gives 200%, sometimes it's sad because it is a reminder of the past. I will never forget what he did, or forgive what he did, I guess I have forgiven him because he is a good man. Unfortunately, I don't feel the same deep love for him anymore. I hope someday I get it back. What annoys me the most is after someone betrays someone all of a sudden the marriage is put under a microscope. If the hurt spouse wasn't to blame then why is this approach taken? Shouldn't the betrayer be put under a microscope? I think this is how some folks take some of the articles on here and the analogies given. I have never been hurt by them but certainly understand how it could during this unbelievably sensitive time. To be quite honest, I usually skip over the analogy part and read Rick's actual message which I always find helpful.

I have only mildly disagreed

I have only mildly disagreed with, but have not yet been offended by anything here. Overall the advice expressed here have been candid, sensible, and helpful. But sometimes they are also difficult to hear or interpret. For example, my husband has been cheating on me with his ex wife in varying and escalating degrees. She is the one person he supposedly hates because she cheated on him, even as early as 6 months into our relationship. We were still in our honeymoon phase when he started texting her, then escalated over the years. Over time, being lied to and manipulated has definitely changed me for the worse in an insidious way -- then on various D-Days all the facts started falling into place and it started to make sense as to why I developed these "faults" that put stress on the relationship and marriage. Not knowing the truth at the time, and years of double faced manipulation from day one since we met has almost made me feel like I was going insane, like I was the one who was acting up for no reason. I was lead to believe that I was the perfect partner, hearing loving "words" every second of the day yet at the same time he acted in a way that made me feel inexplicably insignificant. None of it made any sense at the time. But now it does. I honestly can't say that I would want to take any "blame" or "responsibility" for any part of of what has happened. Other than I should have opened my eyes and been smarter. This is where I have difficulty accepting equal or even partial blame for things that have gone wrong. However, I do get the message that I can only change myself as a person so that I can take control of my life and not be influenced by the poison this 6 year long affair, spanning the entirety of our relationship, has injected into my life. It might make advice easier to hear if there were harsh words for the wayward spouse. But often, therapists and counselors do not offer any reprimands for fear of alienating the WS, reigniting anger, or turning the session into an unproductive one. For me, it would have actually helped to hear fury unleashed onto my spouse (by somebody other than myself), before the work of recovery begun in earnest. After marriage counseling and individual therapy sessions, I felt very alone. He on the other hand, felt empowered and righteous, and demanded "equality" in blame and reparations right away. Because of this, it took him months before he started to realize that it was him - and not me - who was the problem. Sure, I can change for the better so that the marriage could be better. Everyone can change for the better even if their spouse did not have an affair. Just because my husband has a ton of stuff he needed to improve in himself does not mean that I should volunteer to put myself on the chopping block along with him - at least not initially. Just another perspective. I still appreciate and look forward to all the insightful newsletters.

I Understand

I, too, wish someone had yelled at my wife about her indiscretions. It is so frustrating to hear people placate an adulterer, and pretend that person is not doing something wrong. We even went to a counselor at one point, and were both frustrated. My wife was frustrated because the counselor kept calmly telling her she should not continue to treat me as a nobody and even told my wife that she had never heard a wife treat a husband so badly, but my wife never heard the message. I kept hearing my wife say how it had to be OK because she was so in love with her AP, even though he had finally rejected her and proposed to his other girl friend and house-mate. I wanted to but could not for future sake just shake my wife until she woke up. I kept hoping someone would just shout at her and get her attention that what she had done and was continuing to do was WRONG! I know it would have been bad but I wanted to tell our children and their mates to try to get their help in changing my wife's attitude. It has been a long three years, and I have very little hope remaining.

Keep up your God-given calling

I have been blessed by your words many times. My husband confessed to a 9 month affair 5 years ago. After several psychiatric hospitalizations and several years of counseling, I have been able to heal from this devastation. Your articles have given me hope that others have recovered and so could I. You have helped me see that even good marriages can experience this and survive. Praise God that God continues to use you in this ministry!

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