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

Wanting to Be Wanted

This week we hear from Marie, an unfaithful spouse who shares her personal experience of infidelity before, during and after her affairs. I hope her story brings hope, courage, and understanding to those of you on both sides of infidelity.

A Personal Story from an Affair Recovery Survivor:


My husband and I were an old married couple before we ever exchanged vows. We lived together, had a dog, and sat around in sweats doing nothing. We loved each other, I'm certain, but it seemed as though we forgot we needed to show it.

About a year into our marriage I started feeling restless. My daily routine consisted of studying, working, caring for our home, shopping, cooking, and cleaning. I received little to no help from my husband. Most days when he got home he would immediately get on the internet or turn on the TV. We really didn't spend time talking with one another.

The routine we settled into lead me to believe he did not care about me or our marriage.

It sounds like I'm blaming him, but I wasn't any better. I had a hard time rationally discussing anything. He got tired of my rants, and thought because I exaggerate about most things, I was exaggerating about the problems in our marriage.

Although we had issues, nothing justified the course of action I was about to take.

I met a man at a wedding who, now looking back, was a real sleaze. But to the person I was at that time he was someone who paid attention to a woman craving to be noticed. We spoke by phone a few times here and there but when my husband went out of town, I ended up staying with him. I had an affair. Something I had always, ALWAYS said I would never, ever do. But like me, I'm pretty sure 99.9% of those who have betrayed their spouses didn't start out by vowing to do so on their wedding day...

I didn't care for the physical aspect of the affair nor did I have any real feelings for this man. The thing that drew me was the affirmation that I was desirable and beautiful. And boy, my affair partner laid it on thick.

I desperately wanted to feel like someone was choosing me and pursuing me.

My husband was suspicious the night of the affair because he tried to contact me unsuccessfully many times. When he asked why I was not home and did not answer his calls, I made up a ridiculous lie. I didn't want him to find out or hurt him, but that did not stop me from continuing to email, call and meet with my affair partner.

Not too long after the affair began, I couldn't take it anymore. I did the hardest thing I have ever done and finally told John the truth.

He reacted with emotions I had never seen from him.

I will never forget the moment John, with eyes full of tears, threw his wedding ring at me. I had never felt so low. I imagine he would have said the same. At least, up until that point.

I left my husband that day and went to stay with a friend. Over the next week, I drank, cheated with my original affair partner and another man, and wasted away until I realized how much I missed my husband and wanted him back. Amazingly, he still wanted me. After agreeing to seek counseling I came home.

We saw a counselor about five times. He left much to be desired. While he mentioned enough cliché psychological phrases to bore me to tears, he never once mentioned God. But hey, at least my husband and I were talking, living together, and trying. Unfortunately, this did not last.

We agreed our counselor was a quack and thought we were doing well on our own. We carried on with business as usual. I mean, at first we put forth some effort to be more loving, sexual, etc... But soon we were back to the same old routine. Upon reflection, I don't think I ever fully came back and therefore did not wholly try.

Cue the lowest point in my entire life.

At another friend's wedding, I had an encounter with a different man. I didn't love him. In fact, I barely knew him. But again he was someone that made me feel accepted. He was almost like a trophy because he led this exciting lifestyle and yet chose to be with me. What a joke.

My husband found out about this affair through an email I sent the AP about getting together to meet. This discovery caused me to have an emotional breakdown. I mean literally - I was an incoherent lunatic. Having had enough, my husband stepped past me and calmly walked out the door.

I spent the next 3 nights at my parent's house bawling my eyes out, screaming in agony, and sleeping no more than a couple of hours. I took several days off work. I could not think or function. I realized the cold, hard truth when my husband refused to talk to me: he was gone.

I had lost him.

I'm not sure what losing a child or a parent feels like, but I imagine this type of loss is similar to how I felt about my marriage. The worst part of it was that I did it to myself! The only thing I could do was pray, pray, and pray.

I told my husband I was going to go to a counselor who actually knew what he was doing. While at my parents' house, I found 4 or 5 places and emailed each one. I told myself that the first one to respond would be the one I'm supposed to go with. Within the hour I had an answer to my prayer.

A woman from Affair Recovery called back. She told me they had an opening for my husband and I in Harboring Hope (for the betrayed) and Hope for Healing (for the unfaithful). There's a reason these two courses have one word in common - they both offered so much hope. My group leader reassured me that I was going to get help, that I was loved and that I would get through this. The women in my Hope for Healing class had been in my shoes, made horrible choices, and saw their husbands deteriorate under the pain we had each individually and uniquely caused.

Not long after starting the course, John agreed to meet at a local restaurant. As soon as I saw him I knew I would throw my heart and soul into our marriage and turn everything over to God. Three days later he moved home.

From that point on things were so different. Don't get me wrong - it was still incredibly challenging. My husband's wounds ran DEEP; I was dealing with guilt in massive proportions and each day felt like another dagger to the heart as a little more was revealed.

But you know what? Each day we healed a little more too.

Affair Recovery's Harboring Hope and Hope for Healing led us towards truth. Our group leaders helped us understand that love is both the question and the answer. Love can solve any problem including fixing something that was so painfully broken.

We continued with our groups, learning more and more about this love. We found a new church and new friends. We found a new hope. We spent more time learning about each other, talking to each other, and growing in respect for one another. I realized my husband is a gift and I am truly blessed to have him in my life. Having him there to listen to me and love me is more than I deserve.

We are almost a year out from our start with Affair Recovery. As painful as it was to relive everything, we have come to realize that we are not bound to our mistakes. We all have faults, but we are not slaves to those faults. There are still times when the guilt and pain arise that I lose sight of this truth. But I know that with God, with prayer, and with love we are going to be ok.

Our renewed affection for one another stems from a new understanding of what it actually means to love.

Days are going to be hard. You will feel frustrated and confused. There will be times you'll think the guilt is inescapable. But hear me: you can and you will. We experienced the lowest of lows but our marriage has been beautifully restored. In fact, our marriage just keeps getting better. You will see that anything is possible if you are willing to try.

This past year has been the hardest year of my life – learning how to fall in love with my husband again as well as how to communicate with him has not been easy. But, this has also been the BEST year of our marriage yet. We're not perfect, but being able to love each other in a way we hadn't in a long time really means a lot to me. I would never want to go through that pain again.

But I wouldn't trade the marriage we have now for anything.

If you are struggling with what to do next, we'd love to help. Ninety-five percent of our course participants say they'd highly recommend our programs to others in crisis.

To find out more information about Harboring Hope or Hope for Healing, check out our Online Courses page.

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Comments

Thank you for your article.

Thank you for your article. Your articles help me in dealing with one of the most challenging experiences in my life. My story is remarkably similar to your article. Nine months ago my wife and I hit D day when she and her AP were caught by her AP’s spouse. The path that the couple in your article took to get into their situation and the affair itself is almost exactly the same. I can accept that I have some responsibility in this situation, I took her for granted, was very comfortable in our relationship, and felt that our relationship was so strong that neither of us would have an affair. I have forgiven her for the affair because I truly love her and accept her in my heart even during bad times, I was deeply in love before the affair and one mistake, although hurtful, has not emptied me of love. There has been no reconciliation and with that we are nowhere near healing. Forgiveness can come from me but reconciliation has to come from both of us, she is not ready (or unwilling) to reconcile. My spouse’s affair was an emotional affair, it only lasted about two months but was extremely intense. It was an affair that began on the internet and communication between the two was unlimited. As the relationship grew they begin to have regular personal meetings that included inappropriate contact. My spouse’s affair was not physical and I believe that if it had reached that point, she would have not cared about that part either, she was searching for an emotional connection but would have done anything to keep that connection. From what I have found out, the AP was searching for a physical connection and used her emotions to advance the relationship. They were both playing each other but with different needs. They did not know how to control what was happening, and to be truthful I would not have either. Eventually she would have crossed that line to keep the emotional connection alive. Since D day we have been trying to put the pieces back but without reconciliation we are in limbo. In your article the wife returned to the AP and actually added another AP. I feel that my wife continues keep her heart open for the AP and may be searching for another partner. I try to be understanding and patient but in dealing with my pain and with facing reality of our relationship my energy for understanding can get low.

wow

This one really hit home. I've got tears in my eyes after reading this. The pain that this woman describes, I remember. Vividly! It's amazing looking back on how far my wife and I have come after both of us having cheated. When that darkness and pain was all that surrounded us, it seemed that there was no hope, no way over or around it. Healing takes time, patience and willingness. But all things are indeed possible!

Being the faithful one of a

Being the faithful one of a 15 year relationship, I can relate to the stuggle that ensued. I am exactly a year into this process. My husband had a "three night stand" with a "forwardly sexual" bar acquaintance during a time when he lost his job and our relationship was strained after failed infertility attempts. A couple things I can clearly attest to is...nothing could consoul me that first 8 months of finding out, except my faith. I was like an infant, a wonderer, lost. EVERYTHING HURT. All I thought about all day was wanting to just disappear. BREATHING HURT. Getting dressed was a chore. My partner was my life. He was a part of me and I a part of him. We were soul mates. The betrayal hurt me worse than if he would have shot me between the eyes. I read all the articles at AR and thought, like many, that I was different from everybody else and that I would not heal like they did. I thought I would stay forever stuck and in agony. However the hope I give to everyone going through this is that everyday I am healing a little more. It just happens to you. You won't stay stuck. You have to choice in it...healing just happens. It is due to a combination of Jesus, the tincture of time and my husband's deep remorse for what he did. I always said I believed in God, but I had never had a real relationship with him. Instead my husband was "my God." I put my whole life and energy into loving my husband. So when he did something to disappoint me, it would crush me. I had so many expectations. I wanted my husband to "fit" into the role I thought he accepted upon marrying me. He had big shoes to fill. I put alot on his shoulders looking back. Like everyone says, wrong is wrong and nothing makes what he did acceptable. I do see however how I added to my husband's pain and contributed to our marraige being vulnerable. What I would say to those in my shoes is to remember that we have to repeat "for better or for worse" for a reason. It is just not "for the better." We are all human and capable of mistakes. One thing I can say is that I have never walked in my husband's shoes. I cannot speak intelligently about just how he felt the moment he let go of our fidelity for a stranger. I can't say that I understand the level of confusion and pain he must have been in to make those bad choices. But I do know, and he has told me that he was in pain and at a low point his life. I use to get angry and jealous thinking back upon his affair because I would imagine when he was having sex with his AP he was like "yippee this is fun." But with some healing behind me I don't think anyone truly wants or enjoys being unfaithful. I think it takes a very confused, lost, mislead person to involve themselves in such a thing. In order to heal you must have empathy for the unfaithful person and you must see your role in making your marriage vulnerable to an affair. Grace and humility are the keys to success for me.

Thank you for your comments.

Thank you for your comments. I am 4 months into the healing after catching my husband with the other woman. I kept telling myself, "How could he do this? I have times of unhappiness too, but I didn't break my vows." But now I am finally coming to realize that he was not healthy during the time of his affair. He had lost his faith, and he was in pain from other choices he'd made. He was beating himself up, and his pride and selfishness all contributed to him acting out and having an affair. He was confused, lost, and misled, trying to find validation from a stranger. It makes my heart heavy as I realize how hurt and lost he was, and that I couldn't help him due to my own struggles in life. Your words of hope are encouraging. I see progress, but not fast enough for my impatient self. Sometimes the pain is overwhelming. So thank you for sharing your story of hope.

Thank you

Thank you for sharing your story. It was encouraging to hear that you were both able to heal, and continue to heal.

Thanks

Thanks for sharing your story.
Your husband must be a very good and courageous man. I hope your marriage thrives.

Thank you!

Thank you for finding an Unfaithful Woman to share her story!!!!! Please follow up with a Betrayed MAN.

3 years out and still in pain

My wife also betrayed me with a 2 year emotional affair with our married church youth pastor and proceeded to blame me. Her priorities were to patch up her relationships with her friends and we went to individual and marital counseling for 2 years.
All I can say is as much as I liked our marriage counselor, he had no background in cheating and affairs, so I felt like we wasted 2 years.
Now we have moved across country away from all of our family and friends and are trying to start over. She transferred to a new job and I am still trying to find employment after 3 months here.
I am trying to prayerfully hope God has a plan of reconciliation. It has been years since my wife said she loved me, there is disconnect and coldness, but I just carry my unloving and joyless marital cross daily trying to work through and deal with the pain. So is life of being devoted and committed to my covenant vows.

Betrayed husband carrying his cross

First of all, I'd like to say how utterly sorry I am to know of your situation. I was the betrayer in my marriage. I've learned so much about myself. There is hope and real healing. Seek out Affair Recovery. God will heal both of you. Many times emotional affairs reveal a deeper chasm of needs and hurts. Forgive her but please forgive yourself. You're not alone in this battle. My prayers are with both of you. Remember Hosea the prophet...God WILL NEVER FAIL YOU BOTH. Amen