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

A Discussion on Remorse, Trauma and Extreme Suffering

Almost every week, I answer specific questions from members of our Recovery Library in my Expert Q & A.

Here I want to highlight a few of our most dynamic and engaging videos that we’ve filmed recently.

Have you ever wondered why your spouse, who’s recently had an affair, isn’t remorseful?  After all, the affair has finally come out, their double life has been exposed, and yet they are still not showing any true signs of remorse. It might seem like utter craziness and a huge sign that the marriage is over, but before you jump to conclusions, or make any rash decisions, there are reasons for this type of behavior. It’s not as uncommon as you may think. I’d like to share with you a few more thoughts on this subject in the video below. In the video I answer a question from one of our members who is going through this exact scenario:

Trauma can be defined as:  a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury. I find the word trauma to be very fitting to describe the aftermath of an affair in the mind and emotions of a betrayed spouse. Don’t get me wrong, infidelity can be traumatic for everyone, but none more so than in the mind and heart of the betrayed spouse who is just finding out about a double life they most likely knew nothing about.  I’d like to share a video where I answer a member’s question regarding ongoing trauma and their journey to find healing, even in the midst of great uncertainty.

I believe with great suffering comes even greater potential. You may not see it that way, but there are four outcomes to great suffering: especially when we’re dealing with the collateral damage left behind after an extramarital affair or addiction.  Samuel, one of our video bloggers, shares his thoughts on these four outcomes and how his own life and recovery has been shaped by great suffering. Take a few minutes to discover these four potential outcomes for your own suffering and ask yourself if you’re leaning one way or another:

If you’d like to try out our Recovery Library Membership, you can sign up here. There are over 1700 resources you can utilize for you & your spouse’s healing. I’m always amazed at how many members predominantly use just our site for the main thrust of their recovery due to finances, locational challenges, or need for anonymity.

Perhaps you or your spouse, need expert help with finding remorse? Maybe the trauma is overwhelming and you just want to get your life back? Or, you may be caving under the weight of more suffering than you’ve ever experienced? You’re not alone in this journey. We can help. Our site can help. Sign up for one of our EMS Weekend Intensives here. My team and I personally guarantee you’ll be 100% satisfied after attending our weekend intensive or we’ll refund your money.



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What if they are still actively pursuing their affair but lying?

Our situation exposed in the early stages of my wife's affair 3 months into it, but she keeps telling me I don't see any hopes with him, and then telling they are not in good terms. She forced me into signing separation agreement on Oct 2015 and all through the time she was actively trying to convince her friends and family about her affair and trying to get a nod for their relationship, she travelled back home while I paid the tickets for journey thinking it will give her perspective to find the purpose of her life, but she was travelling with him to her home to convince others. But she keeps telling me I am trying to come to you but when find something and ask me about it you are ruining the chances of reconciliation, this whole mess started in June 2014, this guy is married and have another 2 affairs apart from wife going on, my wife feels emotionally and physically connected to him and she says she has no feelings for me. The worst part came just 5 weeks ago where she met with a major accident and she called me, at that time I forgot everything and ran to her and stayed by her bed in the ER, but within a couple of hours still waiting on tests, she is hiding her phone and texting to him, at that time I didn't know whether I should walk out or not, so I stayed till she came home. She secretively rented an apartment near her work place(she works 60 miles away) but said that she is living in a colleagues house as a tenant, but she has setup a life for herself and him. I have two kids 12(boy) and 8(girl) and I love them, I wanted them to have their time with their mother as much as possible, but she comes in stay for a while and keeps running to places. I am compensating as much as a mom could, but my kids definitely miss their mom. I am the stay home parent with them, I am not saying this because to get sympathy or pride, but I feel my kids are cheated as well secretively. I have accepted that she is not gonna come back, but she keeps behaving like my wife saying she wants to change things around the house as she wants, I am enabling her yes, but after all this I am losing my mind and heart, I came out of depression and luckily therapy helps a bit by reinforcing me. May god help me

Needing help getting unstuck!!!!!!!

So it's been 15 months since disclosure of my wife's 2-year emotional affair with the youth pastor at our church and I am still so incredibly stuck in bitterness and unforgiveness. It is so unhealthy for my soul. My wife has stayed disconnected, even though she is seeing an individual counselor and we are both seeing a marital counselor twice a month (both Christian counselors). But her lack of empathy and staying disconnected spiritually, emotionally and physically from me (even though she ended the relationship right away and stayed with me to try and rebuild our marriage of 20-plus years), I still can't get past the hurt and anguish because she keeps her walls up with me.

I listened to your videos about finding another betrayed husband who has walked through the process to the other side victoriously. That is a very hard part for me because when the affair was disclosed, my wife and I left our church of 9-plus years (our youth pastor and his wife got to stay -- there is some bitterness and anger in that situation, too) and we pretty much lost all of our friendships and relationships with the people in that church.

I would love to have another brother in Christ who was also betrayed by his wife to help me to see how to get unstuck and get out of this bitterness and pain that I am still experiencing. I know -- through counselors and what male friendships I have left -- that they keep telling me I need to take the first step and forgive and be the Christ-like loving man my wife needs to see in order to make this marriage survive. But how can I be that man when my wife shows no empathy for the pain she has caused and very little remorse (blaming me for the problems that led to this affair even though she admits she had problems, too).

PLEASE, PLEASE HELP!!!! I beg of you through prayer and reaching out to help me find a way to get through this tunnel of pain, bitterness, unforgiveness and resentment because I still love my wife and want our marriage to be reconciled! I want to become the loving husband of God that I desire so much!

Passivity? Codependency?

Having been the betrayed husband with my wife's 4-month physical affair over 3 yrs ago (d-day was 3 yrs and 2 days ago), I empathize with you greatly. I can only testify to my codependency and passivity that kept me stuck for a while. Luckily my wife confessed, asked for my forgiveness, then faithfully walked out her repentance.

I'd suggest that if your wife isn't doing this, then don't put the burden on yourself to try and fix it. I'm guessing you're the first to say sorry and want to make things better (just a guess, not presuming)?

Thankfully my wife and I are on the good end of healing. And each of our (and jointly) walk/s with Jesus are deliberate and pretty consistent. It takes two to reconcile. And without her intentionally doing her part, I can honestly say we wouldn't have made it.

We went to Austin for the intensive EMS weekend in Feb '14. Game changer. Mind saver. And eventually, marriage saver. Thanks John, Leslie, Rick, and the crew!

Need direction about husband that lies about affair still going

I'm 5 months post discovery. Over that time my husband said he was done contacting his affair partner (he's only worked harder at hiding it) and wanted to work things out but now the last month he said he's hurt me too much and we need to seperate and now he's been talking divorce. I found some of their conversations and she said she wanted to be done cuz he hadn't divorced me yet. When I confronted him he said there's no way he would leave me for her, he's not serious doesn't love her (even though he's told her that).
I need understanding or direction about why he's lying and how to respond to it?
I told him we need to seperate and he can't stay at home since he is still cheating. Was that the right move?
He's been pressuring me to still meet his sexual needs since he said he hasn't slept w her but shouldn't he just be cut off since he's already violated our marriage and doesn't want to stop being in contact with her?
I'm praying non stop for reconciliation, forgive him daily but don't want to enable any part of his selfish entitled mentality and there's so much confusion. And he says we need to separate so we can get back together...... how does this even make sense?


How long is reasonable to wait for your partner to decide if they want to stay with you or return to their affair partner? Limbo is another word for purgatory! Is having an undecided partner what constitutes being 'unsafe' if they have put the affair on hold?

Carnival of Betrayal

by A.B.S.
My home is now a Fun House at a Carnival where terrifying and painful images appear constantly.
Images of you doing things you should not -
not if you cared for my heart.
Nothing is what it seems to be in this Fun House.
I was told what I'm looking at is not what I'm seeing.
Was it always a Fun House and not what I thought it was?
I question now.
The floors shift back and forth, keeping me off balance as I try to find my way in blindness.
My heart screams for you, once my most stable and centered place.
Now the source of both pain and comfort.
You control the lights and won't illuminate this world for me for fear of exposing yourself.
The mirror you hold before me reflects a reality twisted and tormented at your will.
The fun house mirror showing me a distorted image of myself that was perfectly clear yesterday.
My pretty face somehow ugly.
My lovely body now disgusting.
I live in panicked need to escape before it kills me or I take myself.
Why won't you save me!?!
Where is my hero who protected me from all harm?!!
So many terrors and images at once, I find a darkened corner to lie down and wait for the pain to end me.
An image of you actually enjoying my struggle back to where my world made sense.
You must like for me to be here, or surely you would rescue me from this place.
An image of you leaving me here longer so you can continue to do what you want.
I desperately try to believe you wouldn't put me here on purpose.
I need you even more to help me feel my way out, not leave me alone to cry in the dark while panic and fear and pain rule my world. And pain. Pain. P.A.I.N.
The longer it takes the angrier I am, knowing I did not come here of my own accord. I'm here against my will.
Curled up in the dark trying to believe if you really knew how this hurts, you would surely make it stop. Don't you love me anymore? Oh my god what am I going to do?
Imagining, somehow, it's my fault, because that's easier than enduring the cold pain of betrayal.
If I blindly feel my way along the walls of the Fun House in darkness and find my way out, I will emerge from it without you.
You'll get images of your own -
images of me, emerging from the other side while you still stand where you are
An image of me -
being everything that I am,
and becoming what I would have been anyway.
An image of me -
going where people don't take me to Carnivals of Cruelty.
An image of me -
wiser and more valuable.
Too valuable for you.
I might already be.
Just watch.
While I go there.
Or join me in this Fun House and help me find my way out.
Forgiveness is for the remorseful.
Look at my pain!!!
Feel it, measure it, live it, taste it, wear it, suck it up, hurt from it, as I did, or get the f*** out of my Fun House.
I have my own Carnival now.
You gave it to me, and one day I will thank you for it.
By keeping you,
or by leaving you,
but I will thank you one way or another.

Vivid reminder to continue finding my strength

I’m relating to this in my own journey going through this incredibly difficult journey to healing from this horror that I didn’t ask for. Even getting through this horror, will I believe I am really through it?
I’m choosing to see the light at the end of this tunnel. Some days it seems brighter, too often though, it goes back to being farther away and dimmer. I know I am the only one who is responsible to find my way through this tunnel and to find healing for myself.
Do I trust the one who brought me into this uninvited place to help me out?
Or is he staying in his own demented world and enjoying watching me struggle trying to find my way out and into the light?
Hope? Faith? I am still believing that there is a silver lining as long as I continue to move forward in my recovery.
Journey forward.