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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