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

Stuck? Three Methods to Get Moving

3 steps to get unstuck

One of our core beliefs here at Affairrecovery.com is  “It’s not just time that heals the wounds; it’s how you spend the time.” But today during lunch, a friend shared another saying I find to be true: 

“You never know how strong you are until strong is the only choice you have.”

Infidelity is devastating, but it also serves as an exposé, revealing personal qualities you have never before tapped into, utilized or possibly even knew you had. At the very least, infidelity, like all crises re-introduces us to ourselves.

It’s a common occasion that I hear about or see couples who are just plain ‘stuck.’ The good news is, you don’t have to be.

 Here are three tips for maintaining forward movement in your own personal recovery:

1)   Let Go of Discovery (once you understand what’s happened):

In Cindy Beall’s book, Healing Your Marriage When Trust is Broken, she points out that questions can actually hinder healing:

Sometime during the first year after Chris’ confession, I finally made a decision. Chris and I were discussing the past, and I don’t remember exactly what I asked him, but it had something to do with an encounter he had with a woman. He very gently took my hand and said, “Babe, I’ll answer any question you ask for the rest of my life. But will my answer make you feel any better?” I looked into his eyes and knew he was right. The answer wouldn’t make me feel better. The only thing it would do is tell me the date and time that he made a fool of me. I know that when I ask questions, it comes from a place of fear in me. My heart starts beating faster, and I literally don’t have the physical or mental strength to stop moving forward in my quest for answers. So I stopped asking questions. And maybe you should too. Some details—what your spouse did with whom or where they did it or how often it happened—aren’t going to make your heart feel any better or your mind any clearer. I understand asking some questions in the beginning because you are just simply trying to grasp the entire situation. But after a while, it’s just time to let it go and move on. It’s easy for me to just say, “Let it go,” isn’t it? But don’t forget, I’ve been down the road you are now on. Heck, I took up residence on it for a while and had my own little piece of real estate on that street. I know how hard it is to let it go and stop asking questions. So here’s what I did to walk myself through that. When my curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to ask Chris something, I first asked myself two questions: Why do I need to know this? and will this help me heal? More times than not, asking the question would only hurt me more, which would not bring healing. Other times, the point of my question was just to find out when I’d been fooled, thus fueling a pride issue I was battling. Ultimately, we must stop asking questions of our spouses because we trust our heavenly Father to make all things new again. Regardless of whether your marriage has survived, you must free yourself from the false need to gain more information because it will not help your journey to freedom. Beall, Cindy (2011-08-01). Healing Your Marriage When Trust is Broken (p. 26). Harvest House Publishers.

2) Have “good enough” recovery:

We typically think of recovery in all or nothing terms, and I know to some of you, this may be a controversial way of approaching recovery. Our fear of relapse produces a desperate need to get it right and we want our mate to get it right even more. Who would want to take the chance of ever going through this again? But fear clouds our judgment, keeping us stuck in a hopeless loop of trying to get it right. Perfectionism keeps us stuck when we not only want our mate to get it, but to get it perfectly. There comes a point where you have to decide they understand well enough. They are not you and may not ever be able to fully understand, but if they are trying then accept what is as good enough. Hopefully over time the two of you will continue to grow in understanding. Keep in mind; I’m not in any way saying “Get over it” or “Just deal with it.” In no way do I think betrayed spouses need to just accept being blamed for their mate’s affair, or being treated in any sort of unloving way. I’m also not suggesting you continue to live with someone who is unsafe and refuses to get help. Alternatively though, there is a point where you accept a heartfelt desire to get healthy, even though it may not look exactly like you want it to look like.

3) Take personal responsibility for your own life:

If you’re the hurt spouse, you didn’t ask for this and the temptation to make your mate “fix this mess which is your mess and your fault” and help you feel secure looms large. However, that decision puts your recovery in the hands of another whose actions have already proven hurtful. Why would you want to be dependent on them for your healing and the future quality of your life? You may need to read that statement again to grasp my true heart’s intent. If your happiness is dependent on your mate always saying things the right way or having the right response then your success is dependent on someone whose performance is already suspect. I am in no way saying you should leave your marriage, but I am saying your happiness and the quality of your life is in your hands.

Not to minimize the difficulty of your current situation, but some day the feelings you’re currently experiencing will pass just like every feeling you’ve ever had before has passed. Ultimately you get to choose the principles you’ll live by as you go forward. You get to choose whether you’ll be open to learning new ways of being. You get to choose the story you tell yourself about what’s happening. You will either see yourself as a powerless victim forever trapped in circumstances beyond your control or you’ll take responsibility for your life and intentionally make choices that bring life to others and to yourself. Regrettably, we cannot choose what happens to us, as every hurt spouse in this situation understands. We do, though, have a choice in if we let it define us and how we respond.

If you’re stuck, ask yourself if you’re ready to move forward. If you’re not ready yet that’s okay, but please understand, it’s not hopeless. You can move forward if you so choose. You don’t have to get it right you just have to take a step. Remember any job worth doing is worth doing well. If you’re stuck, consider our EMS Weekend where my team of expert therapists and myself, who have personal experience with infidelity, are equipped to help you both not only get ‘unstuck’ but find a new pathway to personal healing. I promise you won’t be sorry you’ve invested in your own personal restoration.

 

 

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Comments

STUCK

Thank you so much for this information its very liberating, its ten years and yet I still feel like it happened yesterday and I havent let go of wanting to know the nitty grities of the affairs that were conducted. So here is to moving forward I am not going to be stuck and continue licking my wounds.My husband didnt want to disclose information and he concealed a lot even though in some cases I had hard evidence of text msgs and emails and yet he would deny some of the affairs which is the reason I have been stuck in wanting to find out. May God help me to let go and let Him do a perfect job of restoring my marriage which is getting better each year.

your comment makes me sooooo

your comment makes me sooooo sad
10 years and it feels like it happened yesterday for you

i am thankful/relieved i divorced my wife for her affairs
i tried for one year to hold my marriage together and keep my family from being destroyed

i wanted to give it one year - No more
if i could do it over.... i would Not have tried for one year; i would have packed and left immediately

Stuck

I found I was "stuck" because my spouse wasn't doing the work he needed to do. Leaving him unstuck me.

Excellent Post

Very helpful and well done. I think this is probably more for those a couple years out IMHO. I'm going to print this off and re-read it. Think I will buy Cindy Beall's book too. Thanks, very well done.

this seems an awful lot like

this seems an awful lot like settling to me. I guess it's good enough, I guess I should be ok with him sharing parts of his life with another woman, romantically, while he was still married to me. I'm not good with that. Will asking more questions help? Only if they clear things in my head if this was a dealbreaker or not.

asking more questions

I have learned that the main purpose of asking the questions is to find a why to the things that happened. When each spouse can come to a common ground on why things occurred then I believe they can continue to seek the appropriate help they need. For instance if it is an addiction or a behavior that has been in place a long time or a one night stand and so on and so forth. Each scenario will require a different type of recovery. Our counselor made it very clear that I will ask my husband a million questions over and over again in an attempt to piece my life back together. It can also help the betrayed feel safe while walking through the storm so they know the appropriate steps to recovery are being taken. What I didn't realize is that after 1 year I had many more answers than I probably really wanted to know. My husband and I had a common understanding of why and how things occurred and what type of help my husband needed. what I didn't realize until recently is that the compulsion to ask questions that wouldn't really perpetuate my recovery was keeping me stuck and hindering my ability to heal. I asked the questions and he gave me the answers and I was not left feeling very good at all. I had always wanted to know EVERYTHING and not until now do I understand that I need to really evaluate my need for asking the questions and if it will help me or not. I do recommend asking all the questions you need over and over as many times as you need until you feel that you have some sort of understanding of the events that happened and if at some point the questioning doesn't stop or isn't letting you heal your wounds then I would consider moving in to asking yourself what purpose the question and answer really serve you. one key aspect to this for me was our therapist. one more thing I would like to quickly add is it was very crucial to me to gain rational understandings of affairs in general and come to terms that what my husband has done and all the things we discussed will never make complete sense to me becuase they are not of a rational nature. It is all very irrational and doesn't make sense to a person thinking logically. Not even to him now that he has gained true perspective and truth. Gaining a general understanding of affairs helps with this. hope this helps a bit.

Thank you for this reply,

Thank you for this reply, even though it's been a couple years since you posted it, it's something I needed to read.

thank you

Hi Rick,
Ive been on this site for almost 8 years now, and Ive struggled with myself to accept that my partner will not change. Its sad but it left me with the choice you mentioned about either remaining immobilised by the situation, or taking small steps to be happy. At first I didnt know what to do! Then I went for a walk and without knowing it I was smiling and people smiled back at me! I realised that I can be happy in doing many things outside of the home, and that is empowering to me. Sadly in the home, Im exposed all types of abuse, only when theres company does he show his nice side.....This cycle has gone on for years. I just pray that I find the strength to leave soon. Thank you for your understanding. Kind regards, Heidi

Wow!

Thank you! Just what I needed to hear. I'm exactly there, a long way into healing but stuck in feelings of loneliness, separation anxiety and 'will I be ever really able to trust him again'
I told my teenage son almost exactly what us written here about being responsible for your own happiness, but I guess I had missed the point myself ;-)

taking responsibility

I have been stuck for a while now. I can't seem to move forward and I am tired of looking back. All of my questions have been answered and I am fairly certain that there is nothing left to tell, and frankly, asking questions just makes me feel worse - like the article says. I have given my husband the responsibility of "fixing this mess" that he has created. Maybe it is time that I start taking responsibility for myself and not relying on someone who cheated, lied, and broke my heart to "fix" things. I need to stop waiting for him to do the right things and say the right things when I am always on the look out for him to mess up again. I need to do the things that make me happy.

Thanks for the insight.

Unsafe Partner

I agree with this article. I do believe that we are responsible for our own happiness. However, marriage is a partnership and how well the partnership works depends on how safe you feel about your partner. If you are always concerned that your partner will betray you, then you will never have peace or be able to plan for the future, and thus not be able to recover. Thus, once again, a key to recovery is up to betrayer to do everything in their power to make the betrayed feel safe. If this is not the done, then you are left with two choices:
1) Get a divorce and eliminate the uncertainty and tension caused by the safe partner/marriage and hope that after several years the hardship caused by divorce subsides.
2) Or, bare your cross and live hell on earth.

Are you doing everything in your power to make your spouse feel safe?

STUCK--just in time

18 months into recovery, and I really needed this. Much of the information available addresses the immediate fall-out of the affair. There is not much for those of us farther down the line. The shock is over, healing has begun, but still there are bumps on the road,

My husband is really trying, but when he inevitably has a bad day or falls short of our goals, my heart plummets. I have been struggling with how to measure our progress- sometimes a bad day is just a bad day. It is no reflection of his love or the healing of our relationship. This article really helped me put some perspective on this issue. Thanks.

Trying to make happiness

It has been a year since I found out about my husbands 2.5 year affair with a girl half his age. That woman black mailed him, then when she was not paid, she released all the pictures to the internet and emailed them to me. I suffer from PTSD and worry for our preteen children. In an attempt to escape my life, I have moved myself and my children to another town far from the situation to get my head clear and find myself. My husband swears he will never do it again and he wants his family but the shame and humiliation are just so deep. I'm trying to see if I can find happiness and hope without relying on my husband for it. I know I will have to make a decision at the end of the school year but for right now avoiding my life seems to be the only way I can smile each day.

Thanks

I really needed to hear this today. This week I felt like I was being sucked back into a big black hole which I have already climbed out of before. Every time feels like d- day all over again. We've come a long way from that day, thanks a million!

You're right

It has been almost a month since I found out about my husband's online affairs, and it's been driving me crazy - literally! I've been obsessed at finding out more and more about his multiple online affairs, and wondering whether he consummated any of them physically. I have been creating a timeline to figure out what he was doing, when, and what I was doing, and what we were doing together, and what he was saying to me (that he loved me - I was totally fooled by him!), and this has been going on for 10 years!!! I just found out last month. I need to move on, but I can't, but this article is another reminder that by remaining stuck on obsessing about the details of the affairs, he still has power and control over me. I'm determined not to let him control me, and I need to get past this. This will take a lot of effort on my part, however, because I have been hurt so much, and he betrayed me for 10 years, and he still refuses to admit to the affairs. First, he isn't aware that I know, and second, he believes that it's not an affair if it's not physical. Why am I staying with this man? I often wonder why, why am I trying so hard to save my marriage? And the answer is always because of our kids. So I need to get past all this and be a strong mother for them.

Take responsibility

As the "Betrayer", 'Lettng Go of Discovery' and 'Take Responsibility...' really hit home. I can't tell you how many times my spouse, the Betrayed, has told me, "I didn't create this mess," or has asked explicit details of my affairs. It has been a difficult journey, especially for him, to try to let go and move forward. I understand now why his attempts of making me "fix this" always fails or falls way short of his expectations... because he needs to take responsibility for creating his happiness.
This is a wonderful and insightful article. Thank you for everything that you do.

You're right but...

I agree, but we still want to take responsibility for what we've done and do everything within our power to help them heal so they can move forward.
Rick

So...

Is answering the questions continuing to help them heal and move forward, or asking, like the example, will the answer actually help them heal?

Healing

I find the people generally ask questions because they want to stay, but they still can't understand. Patience in answering the questions generally helps them feel safe and eventually heal. Rick

I love Rick's response.

I love Rick's response.

I think he's right....I ask questions because I cannot put 2 and 2 together. Her affair was/is illogical, completely out of character and just doesn't make any sense. There's no justifiable or rational answer, so my mind and heart probe for one. I can't find one. She can't give one. Asking questions is how we cope until we begin to accept...accept that there is no great answer and accept that "it is what it is".

Once we accept, I believe that is when a real, rational and informed choice can be made to save the marriage or to move on. Before that, it's just emotion and love holding on for dear life.

Thanks Rick.

I waited for this

After reading the article, I was just waiting for a reply like this one: "Get over it already, it's your own responsibilty to create your own happyness, not my fault you're hurt by my actions".

And it's absolutely true, with a WS attitude like this, recovery of the marriage has very bad odds. If my fWW told me this, I would take responsibility for my own happyness and divorce her today. I do seek happyness by myself, within myself, in small everyday things - and don't rely on her to keep me happy, but if she doesn't care about creating safety in the relationship, making herself safe to be with, I'd rather be on my own.

You're right

If the unfaithful spouse doesn't take responsibility for creating safety in the relationship, making themselves safe to be then I agree it would be better to be on your own. To heal broken bonds requires the a willingness on the part of the wayward spouse to change the ways and show by their actions that you matter. Without that how can you feel safe? Rick

seperation and divorce

A lot of the help on here is about recovery when the couple's stay together, how do you cope when there is just no way back and you know the marriage is over? My husband cheated on me for 10 years of our 44 year marriage, there is no going back but I'm hurting so much and finding it so hard to move on.

Greiving

You're right there's resentment not enough material about those needing to move on. I think you might find help and support in the Harboring Hope course. That program isn't just for those wanting to save their marriage but also for those how are grieving over the loss. There's nothing like being with others who truly understand how you feel, but are committed to finding life rather than being trapped in bitterness and resentment. When you can find an internal piece, being content in what ever circumstance as the Apostle Paul wrote then you will transcended the evil he's perpetrated and move on. Find others who have been able to accomplish that end. Rick

Still Stuck

It has been 20 months since my husband's affair. I am still stuck I admit it. He left as soon as the affair was discovered stating that it had gone too far and he had strong feelings for her. He is still with her and appears happy. He is blaming me for the end of our marriage and that the adult kids don't understand why is was okay for him to leave marriage. He continues to take me to court because he didn't agree with the settlement costing me money that I don't have.
It is difficult to move on...

I can't imagine

I feel so bad about what you're going through. I'm glad that your kids see the truth, but grieved that he can't take responsibility for what he's done. I do hope you can find the grace to move forward even though he keeps trying to drag you back into his miserable life. It's time to move forward and find a better life. Don't let him be an anchor holding you back. With him it's not about letting go it's about moving on. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help. Rick

helpful to take stock

Rick,
Your articles are full of wisdom and help me to take stock of my situation. For me this article and many of your articles have helped me queue myself to when to guard and when to possibly let go and let God. After Harboring Hope course I lean more on God.

Specifically from this article its rare I ask questions about husbands fantasy relationship. I say fantasy because my husband had a weird way to betray me. He'd become infatuated w/a woman at a gym program. I know they flirted a bit and emailed in a friendly manner. He withdrew from me and did not act himself and turned on me. I'd been seriously ill. My husband is a very hard worker and a good provider but has fallen short in terms of emotional support. (Could have a degree of Aspergers) While I was sick I was really scared and lonely.

My husband says he gave up on us because he'd worked hard while I was sick to help around the house and I did not appreciate him enough. Still, after he revealed his infatuation and that he 'loved me but was not in love" anymore he clung to the infatuation. He invented all kinds of other excuses for this continued fantasy betrayal.

I've believe I have read every marital book now and have gone to the moon in terms of investing time and attention into the relationship. So I'd been doing the work, present the concerns, pull out the issues, come up with new things to try etc and my husband tells me and himself he is working hard on the marriage because he is going along.

Now we are seeing a new therapist. So far she is not requiring him to do anything outside the
room we meet. He gets to show up. I guess she is trying to establish trust so he'll perhaps stop being mute. So I talk and the meetings are oriented around stuff I bring up. He does seem to learn a bit from the comments and interactions and there is some improvements outside.

Its difficult to be patient. I would say I have been pretty traumatized over a three year period. I can't say I'm at a 'good enough' point because my husband has just now comprehended the affects on me from his ambiguious state.

Its been difficult to pull out of a role that has made it difficult to nurture myself as well as I'd like to. But everyday I see God's hand in my life.

Only Five Days in, and...

I learned of my wife' affair only 5 days ago. Between then and now, a LOT has happened. Regardless of her resolve and insistence that she would not end the affair, she has done three things that give me hope.

1) she agreed to see a marriage counselor and we did, the day after I learned of the affair. That counselor then referred us to Rick and the EMS Program. My betraying spouse was at least open to the idea.

2) She actually did agree to go to EMS and we go a week from tomorrow. (THANK GOD I do not have to harbor these feelings for months before help arrives!!!)

3) Last night I called her to discuss Halloween with the kids (note, she moved into an apartment three weeks ago). She did not answer the phone. I texted, asking her to please call me. She did about 10 minutes later. I curiously stated, "I really hope you were in the shower and did not hear the phone." She said, I wasn't in the shower. I asked if she was with him and she said, "Yes. I am so sorry to tell you that, but the Affair Recovery program insists that I be 100% completely honest with you." I told her good night and that I wished her dozens of multiple orgasms she has been missing for so many years and I hung up. But that wasn't enough. I had to text her my feelings...

"You are a complete POS whore and home-wrecker. You can both go straight to hell. Further, the only thing that could make this all worse was if you became pregnant. I implore you to make him wear a condom and pull out." I shared this with my best friend and my ROCK right now. My buddy was patient and understanding. He was very calm and posed the questions, (1) Did you really call her about Halloween or to check where she was? (2) Did you help or hinder your chance of recovery with your wife?" This was a pretty good gut check. On his advice, I texted to her later, "My apologies for the outburst."

4) to that, she replied, "It's warranted. From what I have read, I need to expect it and take it." But she also said, "You may not believe me but just b/c I've seen him doesn't mean that "that" happened."

Those few words gave me both peace but also anger. She is willing to take some responsibility for her actions, but yet she leaves this door open of, "maybe I am but many I'm not." I then fired off 10 questions. She replied with the 24 hour rule.

I wish I would have seen this Blog yesterday before I intentionally kicked the hornets nest. But late is better than never. Thank you, Rick, for sharing this right now. I have to get through 8 days of gut-wrenching torment before there is relief in the 3 day seminar. I have only slept two out of the last six nights.

For right now, I feel like I need every single nitty-gritty detail.

I feel you

It's been 4 months of this for me. We are six weeks into the online EMSO class and it has been a God send although things are still very difficult for us as but the only thing that even brought her back to trying was God talking to her through the course material. The one thing I can say that may help you avoid some of my mistakes/pitfalls is to find a better outlet for the anger when it rises. Resist the urge in the moment. Take a walk, leave the room, just exit the situation until you are more calm even if that takes a day or so. In my experience, it is better to have a calm discussion than let anger control you and wreck any progress. If she is truly willing to explore saving the marriage, the time will come for the answers you seek but lashing out will only delay or ambush that. Doesn't mean you aren't right to be angry and doesn't mean you shouldn't vent it, just try to find ways that do that without doing further damage.

Realistic progress isn't good enough for my betrayer

Considering that we're just under four months from discovery, that I've lost so many things over his affair, the constant reminders, triggers even within my own house, I thought we were doing phenomenally... We've resumed friendship with each other, we pray together at least twice a day, he seems happy with us, wants to include me in his activities, shares in mine, has expressed hope and plans for our future, he even replaced or lost wedding rings and bought me a renewal ring as a promise to celebrate our upcoming 20th anniversary with a special mass and reception.

I thought all this was extremely hopeful. He's had a rough and steep learning curve as far as becoming safe for me. I've even stopped, for the most part, asking questions. I still have daily reminders, moments of binding rage and fury at what I've had to endure, but I manage to contain myself, I'm usually able to calm down alone, but once in a while, there is just one particularly vicious memory, or a suspicious event that will send me careening of the deep end. Mostly, I want to know why... why he could go literally, within a couple of weeks from loving andcrushing or life and marriage, to viscerally hating me, our relationship, and being so convinced that this vulgar, vile deviant he cheated with was the ultimate sample of womanhood. I know I will never have an answer... he can't even explain it to himself. But when I'm caught in that riptide, being drowned in that anger and confusion, he just wants to quit! He thinks nothing has changed, that his efforts are fruitless, that his only option is to leave me. His words were, " If I don't belong to you anymore, you can't be angry...You wouldn't have any reason to be sad, upset, suffering. I'd remove the source of your distress."

It's discouraging to me, that I now feel like I can't express myself. I can't be open with him about my distressful moments, because they just snd him running when all I need is reassurance and comfort from him. I know it's bordering on depending on him for my happiness, but that is what I need from him. At the beginning of discovery, I felt very rejected, hated, insulted, and every negative emotion from him. I'm still carrying a lot of the wounds his words inflicted, fresh and open in my heart... I've tried to change my perspective on why he said and did such things to me, but it doesn't take the pain away... logic is a lousy pain killer, I'm afraid.

I'm at a loss... I know what I need, I know what I feel, but it seems even the amazing progress so shortly after discovery isn't good enough for him...

When do the lies stop?

I know I am stuck, but during the first year of recovery my husband continued to lie about the details of the affair. How long it lasted, when it ended, what happened, etc. now he says everything is out, that I know the full truth, but I just don't know that I can believe it. He said he was too afraid that I would run if I knew the truth. He didn't understand that he made things so much worse by continuing to lie to me. I just don't know if I feel safe. How do you move on if you feel like something else will drop on you. I want so much to believe everything he is saying, and is actions show that he wants to stay in the marriage and continue to work on it, but I am having the hardest time trusting and believing.

How do you trust?

His continuing to lie made things far worse. I don't blame you for having problems believing him. When someone has made the mistake of dribbling out information over time I often suggest the use of a polygraph. That may now be the only way you can ever believe you have the truth. I hope he's willing to help you. Rick

STUCK

Great article. It has been 15 months since EMS WEEKEND and there are times when I still want to ask questions. I do agree the need to "know" lessens over time. My wife and I have been able to restore our marriage after her 10 month affair with a co worker. I can honestly say our marriage has never been better. EMS weekend gave us the tools to see this through. Thanks Rick and the whole team at affair recovery. You guys gave us hope when everyone else encouraged divorce.

Stuck and losing faith

I am stuck not believing her. It has been 17 months since I caught my wife coming out of a hotel with her paramour. She tells me that it was their first visit to a hotel and that they did not have intercourse. Frankly, I have never believed her because you just don't go to a hotel, under the circumstances, for any other purpose. She is doing everything she should be doing to try and make things work, but I don't know if I am capable of just letting that lie go. As this point, I don't know what is fact or fiction. I feel like my whole marriage of 16 years, the majority of my adult life, could have been one big sham. I love her but I don't know if I can live with not knowing the truth. I am a shell of the human being I once was.

On The Fence

I can empathize with not believing and being stuck--on the fence. I discovered the infidelity over a year ago, but not a day has gone by that I haven't cried, railed at my husband and been sick to my stomach. We have a 21-year marriage and have known each other since high school. At first all I got was, "There was someone, but it's over." He lied all through counseling about the encounter, so I feel it was a waste. Subsequently, he has done everything asked of the betrayer (accountability, transparency, etc.) except give me the truth. He said he met this woman at a garage sale, and she came onto him when he followed her into a cab camper. He said he only talked to her four times on the phone. Online phone records showed texting and phone calls over a three-month period that kicked up our bill to $150 beyond the usual charges. I had to investigate everything. On the offensive, I found an old wallet with 3 women's phone numbers. Then he admits he was feeling sorry for himself (I spent 3 years ill from uterine fibroids) and for 2 years went to the bar once or twice a month but never called any of the numbers. Then I found "his woman" on an escort site! She is a 29 yr old prostitute; he says he didn't know and wasn't a client. Then I found one of her old numbers and realized he had called months earlier--over a 9-month period, not the three months he admitted to. I had asked if he met her at the bar since I found an online news article from 2010 showing she'd been picked up for soliciting on the road the bar was on! He said no, but eventually said he had met her there (when I found the earlier phone #), but didn't go out to the garage sale until months later. He says all the texting was just his venting about his job, though he says she would respond by trying to get him to go to a club. Really??? I still don't know if I have the full picture. I want to make an informed decision about my future; layers of lies leaves the betrayed confused and drained.

Stuck/rumination

Thank you, Rick, for you very helpful article. It has been 2.5 years since our DDay. My husband did break it off with the AP although they continued to work together for a short period of time. He did lock the door and did not respond to her subtle overtures. Fast forward 2 years- our marriage is doing great. He is the man I married- not the delusional stranger he morphed into for a short period of time. My issue now is exactly what you addressed- when do you stop discovery? He has answered my questions, albeit initially very slowly and grudgingly- protecting the AP. our counselor got him to open up and his answers helped me wrap my brain around the whole sordid affair. Lately, however, little questions that were never answered have started plaguing me- along with my rumination about the AP's lack of remorse or apology towards me. I realize that the answers will no longer matter, or change our life together so when those nagging thoughts enter my mind I need to learn to shut them down. It is counterproductive to keep asking my husband the questions because he he done the work and is here- all they do is make him feel guilty and sad all over again. Thank you for the tips to not be stuck in this discovery mode- at this point I do realize it dies not benefit my marriage at all.

How Long?

It has been 11 months since I discovered my wife had been having an affair with a co-worker. The affair ended, I am pretty sure upon discovery, however, she continued to work with him for 5 months after my discovery of the relationship. I initially asked for ALL the details, which my wife offered up somewhat willingly. Times, places and details of what exactly was done. She divulged things that she had done with this other man she had for 30 years told me she did not want to do. Now, she will offer to participate in these actions with me saying she likes it now. This leaves me with mental images of she and the affair partner in these acts and it immediately kills any feelings of passion I have for her. Is there any hope that after any amount of time that this will cease? I feel like I am becoming indifferent towards her now and just ready to move forward without her. I have held for the past 11 months that I wanted our marriage to work, and I don't have bitter feelings about the affair anymore - just these mental images that are stealing my closeness. Has anyone else gone through this and made it out on the other side? Is there hope here?

How long?

Dear how long,
My husband refused to give me details however the AP's husband was given all the dirty details and while we commiserated he shared them all with me - initially I thought I needed to hear these and now, 2.5 years later I wish I did not know them because they do still cause pain. However- this far out, my husband has shown me that he is truly remorseful, wants to stay in the marriage, and with the test of time he has shown me he means it. Time is the ultimate healer - and your spouse being a completely open book, ie being precisely where they say they are, calling/texting to check in, allowing phone records to be checked, realizing the opening he gave to the AP in the first place and completely affair proofing our future life together.
It's so hard to get the pictures out of your mind but they do fade with time. When these images surfaced in my brain I would play some very upbeat/happy music and take my dogs walking alone and it also helped keep the demons at bay. I wish you luck and hope you find peace.
Connie

Stuck

I really appreciated this message in my inbox this morning.
I wonder if I'm "stuck"........I know I feel a need to question, and re question, to settle myself. My husband is doing everything humanly possible to support me, and has also promised to answer any and every question from now to eternity, but the truth is that some of the answers really don't help....they only settle me in the moment.
Such a hard journey......praying for acceptance and the ability to leave the past where it belongs, and forgiveness - so that we can live the best of the life that still waits to be lived.

Answer to "Stuck"

By getting YOURSELF unstuck you may help her be able to move forward. My husband thinks I am "stuck" right now and is starting to get impatient and frustrated. The truth is that I am not really stuck, I have just decided not to move forward until he meets my bottom-line needs. He is still defensive and too proud to do the other things he promised to do. He also has no ability to show empathy or compassion. The good changes have made a positive impact on me, so don't think that your positive changes are wasted, just realize that you are not in a position to bargain, "Well, I'll give you this instead of that, isn't that enough"? No. It. Is. Not. Enough. That's what you were doing when you cheated, justifying in your little weasel mind, "I pay for the house, I work hard, I went to her family's for Christmas, so I get to screw another woman". My husband really looks good to many of those on the outside looking in (and himself), but not as much to the one who was shattered - me. The truth is, I will not even consider us at ground zero, ready to build and move forward, until he builds the base. I have suffered 35 years of unfaithfulness and i require everything I have asked for.
I was betrayed a little over 3 years ago (at year 32, now 35). From about 2 years on the pain started to get less intense. At three years it is still here, but manageable. The pain is a soul wound that can also be a physical, very real pain in the chest. It cuts you at the place where you are the most vulnerable, your core being, your self-esteem, your identity as a mother, wife, desirable woman, chosen, loved person. Adultery destroys families, children, society, and the one person who loved you and depended upon you and trusted you and was faithful to you. It takes a long time to heal from that and redevelop trust. Get over your resentment and impatience. You did this, you give her the time she needs. And you accept her decision (whatever it is) with humility and acceptance. Cant do that? Then you're not really remorseful. Not many cheaters have what it takes.
You say you have done everything she has asked, but have you really? And what have you offered? Offering things that you actually think of yourself is often key to the betrayed feeling that you are truly sorry and reinvested in your relationship. When women are asked what made them decide to be all-in, they usually say it's because they saw their husband throw himself into fixing himself with a passion. If she has to ask, you are not doing all it takes. I am attending a spouse recovery group and most of the husband's attend a sex addiction/adultery recovery group that helps each person to grow emotionally (they believe that the root of adultery is emotional and spiritual immaturity) and learn communication skills. Here are some suggestions of things you can offer:
•Amends: Offer disclosure that is done with the help of a professional (see the "faithful and true" website). this is where you disclose all sexual history, money spent on acting out and a timeline as to when it occurred. Then she gets to ask you her questions AND have you take a polygraph (which you also need to offer); offer financial reimbursement for money spent on acting out, public apology/confession to family members (she should not have to deal with her feelings without support), getting rid of all things associated with the affair, including moving away from the adultery partner (essential in my book), an emergency savings account in her name only - just in case - enough to live on for 3 months at least, etc. You get the idea.
•Safety: You get in specialized counseling. A sex addiction therapist is probably the only type able to truly address your issues and be able to tell you what kind of amends and reassurance your wife needs. All affairs are an addiction, even if you only had one "mini-addiction" affair. Unless you get the help you need you will do it again. Take the Patrick Carnes Sex Addiction test with your therapist. Share the results with her. Accept the results. Offer to take an STD test. If you haven't done this yet, shame on you. Share all passwords, credit cards, accounts with her. Give her access to all tech devices, social accounts, computers. Set up a tracking program on your phones so she can check on your whereabouts at any time. Find a couple's therapist you like and just let her know you have one ready when she's ready. These are just a few things you can offer.
•Emotional Needs: Set aside time every evening to check in with each other. A simple one is to share your feelings of the day first; then share affirmations/things you have noticed she has done that you appreciate; share your immediate needs (help with the kids, etc., patience, input on a work problem, etc.); own something that you have fallen down on or done wrong (a good time to apologize, share your changed thought processes, etc.); then share your state of sobriety - whether you have seen the adultery person, been tempted, feel weak, feel strong, etc. Be honest. Also, romance her. Have you cried and showed genuine pain at the pain you caused her? Do you actually feel any? Feeling "shame" is usually an excuse to get out of really looking at what you did and prevents you from feeling her pain. Rewrite her bad memories with good ones. Flowers, special dinners out, romance, meaningful gifts (jewelry?) weekend getaways, vacations with just the two of you - all that YOU initiate.
There is so much you can do. Remember that when you broke the marriage vows, you freed her to decide if she still wants you or not. Accept that with humility and grovel if you need to. You didn't ask her permission to cheat, and she doesn't need to ask your permission to do anything now. She has a need and a right to focus on herself. She NEEDS to in order to heal and decide what she wants to do. Instead of putting pressure on her to make a decision, sincerely tell her that you love her and will do anything to prove it to her, then ASK her what she needs. Then do that. Even if it is more time and more patience. Sound hard and humbling? It truly is, and that is the point that she will appreciate. All you can do is change yourself and become a decent human being instead of a weasel. Eventually she should notice if you are truly genuine. Best wishes, weasel man.

Very nicely put emscarolyn,

Very nicely put emscarolyn, absolutely spot on advice.

"Stuck" Reply is actually for "Great Article"

Sorry, this reply was actually meant for "Great
Article".

Great Article

Boy did this article resonate with me... I cheated on my wife just about two years ago. We've had ups and downs but always tracking upward. For the last few months now things have gotten backwards and I literally feel "stuck". This change has coincided with some changes at work which require more of her time and more travel. Her focus, which she fully admits to, is work and she will not commit to our relationship in any way. She will not say that the relationship is over either. She is going day-by-day and if I can't handle that then I can get out. She also claims to want to focus on being a mother, we have two beautiful girls (2-6) but that is not the case. Quite opposite, she has never been more disconnected with our girls which definitely wasn't the case before. I'm not talking about not being around because of her travel, i'm talking about being disengaged when they're together. In the meantime, I have done everything she has asked me, willingly. Still today, I feel guilty and ashamed of what I did and I am willing do anything. What I am noticing now is that she is no longer on the same page. In the past we would have ups and downs but we always ultimately had a moment where we would get together and agree on stuff. That isn't the case anymore. I find myself tired and I'm starting to feel resentment that this now seems like a one person effort. Why put in all this time and effort if she is now disengaged and focused on work. Recently, I put pressure on her to make a decision. Its only been two years but that is a fair amount of time to at least have an idea of how to move forward, together or not. She will not go to any sort of therapy. I don't know how to get unstuck!!!!

Unstuck

This article resonated with me as well, as a betrayed wife. I can't speak for your wife, but I can encourage you to be patient. At some point I imagine you were disengaged from you wife while you were having an affair. I am also a mother of girls and I have chosen to stay with my spouse because of my daughters. Some times I wonder if I am teaching them to settle by staying with their father/my husband. Regrettably I inwardly blame my children for me continuing on in this marriage and think if I never had them I would have divorced my husband the moment I learned of his infidelity. This outwardly manifest as me being frustrated with my children and isolating myself from them. Infidelity to the betrayed spouse introduces a multitude of emotions, actions and behaviors. At some point we will all decide to stay or go, but each day brings new challenges and old hurt. Please be patient, she didn't put pressure on you to stay. Allow her time to heal, you may think two years is a long time. No one can determine how long it takes to heal a broken heart. If you chose to leave, ask yourself if you have done everything you can on your part and be sure you are at peace with your decision. You chose your wife twice now, there's something beautiful you see in her that's worth the work and the wait.

Oh Raul *shakes head*, what

Oh Raul *shakes head*, what have you done. Was she holding down a full-time job and doing the majority of housework as well as taking care of your children? Did you expect her to do that while you just get on with your work as well as take time out for yourself, and be with someone else? She has an opportunity to rebuild her self-esteem through her work. Why don't you try being supportive? The disconnect with the girls, perhaps a silent plea for you to step up. Try talking to her. I applaud her for being able to focus on her work, I know I find it really rough - similar situation, long hours, travel etc. I feel I need to make sure I can look after myself financially since my marriage is no longer stable due to my husbands choice to have an affair - two years is just getting beyond intense pain for some people, easing into a pattern of the rollercoaster of normality and intense discomfort but beginning to see the blue sky again. I hope someone else has better advice for you but all I have is - Get over yourself!

I don't think you get to feel

I don't think you get to feel stuck until you have done everything in your power to help heal the wounds that you have caused. Sorry mate, but you just don't.

I am definitely stuck. After

I am definitely stuck. After almost 4 years, EMS twice, he took HOpe for Healing and I took Harboring Hope ( but I took it before Dday 2 when I found out his "emotional" Affair was a physical affair as well and that it had been on and off for 20 years of our 38 year marriage) --after all that, he still shows no remorse, acts as if nothing has ever happened, could care less how i feel and never even asks if I need to talk about it, gets raging mad when I DO ask affair questions and screams and belittles me and my family.....and all he can say is that "he wasn't raised to show emotion and if I could look into his heart I would be able to see that he is sorry". My reply to THAT bit of BS was that I wasn't Superman
with x-Ray eyes and all I could see in his heart was a black hole"....He has drip fed me info for 3 and a half years... The last bit of info was three months ago and the health implications of it at are frightening! I cannot find forgiveness and peace....I keep waiting for the next bomb to go off around the corner. I have been unable to let any of it go because if I do, I KNOW that I am going to get hurt again. I'm taking the safe way and just keeping my distance. I will never be all-in this marriage again. However, I WONT break my marriage vows just because he did. I have more integrity than that. I won't divorce. i also won't be able to trust or let him get too close again either. We are both in our 60's. It's too late for me to start over , plus I will never be able to trust another man again so another relationship is out of the realm of possibility for me. He is the only man I have ever been with and we have been together since our junior year of high school ..so yes, I am WAY stuck, even after trying all I learned in EMS and the suggestions from this article. My situation is not the norm, obviously. I wish there was more info on infidelity for senior citizens.....

Getting unstuck

I'm grateful for this post, they often come at just the right times. I too find myslef feeling stuck and in all these places. I'm eight months from D-day number 2. That is part of what keeps me stuck, that we took good, proper steps to recovery once and it still happened again. The affairs were all physical (but I suppose emotional too) but with strangers from the internet. It took longer to find out the second time around and I am resentful that the time and money spent cheating could have been spent being honest and working toward a better recovery. I had to search out the truth both times, lose time and self-respect being made to feel crazy for knowing something was up. I knew in my heart something was off and even came close to the truth but instead of telling the truth, I had to find the proof before there was any admission months later. I am stuck still in the fear that it will happen yet again, that he'll stop being honest about recovery and his intentions and cheat again. I'm trying to get to a place that I don't feel like trust is an invitation to being taken advantage of again. I'm trying to understand that trust is not my flaw, that taking advantage of trust has been his flaw. It doesn't feel that way when you're trying to explain what happened to teenagers who are too old to not see the truth about why dad moved out or when you're having to go to the doctor to get STD tested yet again. But my trusting isn't a flaw or weakness, it's the right way to be. It's his flaw to take advantage of it or break it. I think these three tools may help my ability to move forward. It's really hard though. Fear is the hardest obstacle I've ever stood toe-to-toe with.

Wayward spouse with cheaters amnesia

I ask my husband for answers about the affair to give him a chance to show remorse and prove he is willing to be transparent and honest from here on out. But he always says he does not remember the details of his 8 month affair. So we are stuck. We want to do EMS, but he says his answers will never change because he simply just does not remember much at all.

How to move forward

So I know I am still stuck a year after D-Day. My wife and I go to marital counseling weekly with a Christian counselor and I have been told by many that I need to offer forgiveness because people can still see that I have not totally forgiven, yet. I want to, but it seems like whenever we are in counseling and the counselor asks her why she isn't being more empathetic or kind to me -- and he challenges her to do so -- she always says she knows the affair was wrong and then she always drops the big BUT after it and points to me and our issues that we were having in our marriage that helped lead her down this path.

While I totally admit we had issues and I was going through the worst time of my life (two bouts with unemployment coupled with a bankruptcy and problems with our oldest child during his high school years), it drives me INSANE!!!! I know I am working on my own stuff that led me down a very dark path during this time where I was full of anger toward God for the circumstances of life, I always thought my wife had my back and was someone I could count on.

Now here we are a year later. She is still going to individual counseling and we are going to marital counseling, but it is so hard to still hear her give those big BUT statements in the middle of letting herself off the hook -- to an extent -- over the affair. She knows it was wrong (it got the youth pastor fired and did a job on his marriage, too, which they are now thriving and leading small groups in our FORMER church we had to leave because of the affair -- gotta love how some marriages just survive and get over things faster -- lots of bitterness in that statement on my side)!!!!

Not sure what to do. Just listened to a sermon this past Sunday saying that if you are stuck that you are basically in neutral and just reliving the pain of the past and you can never move on to write new chapters in your life until you can forgive and turn the page. I am so desperate to forgive and turn the page. My wife is working on herself, I am working on myself and she is still with me, so I should be further along that I am. In some ways I am, but I just wish her heart was soft to me again, that she showed more signs of love toward me again (she never hugs, kisses, cuddles, holds hands) or offers words of affirmation or encouragement (which she has rarely done throughout our entire 22-plus years of marriage anyway), so what to do, what to do.

I NEED to forgive since my heavenly Father has forgiven me. What scares me is a sermon I just heard said that unless you forgive someone, then God will not forgive you since that point you were offended and did not offer forgiveness in you heart. So for the past year, my sins have not been forgiven me because I have not forgiven my wife. Makes me feel really special, warm and fuzzy inside. Just holding onto what is left of my heart and my mind and my soul here.

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