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 thoughts before, during and after her affairs. I hope it brings hope and courage to those of you on both sides of the infidelity or addiction, and helps to explain more about what goes through the mind of the unfaithful spouse.

My husband and I were an old married couple before ever exchanging vows. We lived together, had a dog, and sat around in sweats doing nothing and making no effort. We loved each other, I am certain, but sort of forgot that we needed to show it.

About a year into our marriage, maybe a little less, I started to get restless. While studying and working, I was also caring for our home, shopping, cooking, and cleaning  with little to no help from my husband. He would come home and get on the internet or watch TV. On top of that, we did not really spend time talking together. The routine we settled in to lead me to believe he did not care about me or our marriage.

It sounds like I am blaming him, but I wasn’t any better. I couldn’t rationally discuss anything. He got tired of my rants, and thought that because I exaggerate about most things, I was exaggerating about the problems in our marriage. Of course nothing could justify my actions.

I met a man at a wedding who, looking back, was a real sleaze. But to me, he was someone who paid attention to a woman craving just that. We spoke a few times on the phone and then, when my husband was out of town, I stayed with him. I had an affair. Something I had always, ALWAYS said I would never, ever do. (Although I’m pretty sure 99.5% 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 part. It was just the affirmation from another that I was desirable and beautiful and cared about. My affair partner laid it on thick. I didn’t have any real feelings for this man, but I desperately wanted to feel like someone was choosing me and pursuing me.

My husband suspected everything because the night of the affair he tried over and over to contact me. When asked why I was not home and not answering calls, I made up a ridiculous lie. I didn’t want him to know, but that did not stop me from emailing, calling and meeting the affair partner.

Soon, I couldn’t take it anymore. I told John the truth. The hardest thing I had ever done. Of course, he reacted with emotions I had never seen in him; crying, ranting, and yelling. I will never forget when he flung his wedding ring at me. I have never felt so low. I imagine he would say the same. At least, up until then.

I left my husband that day and went to stay with a friend. For a week, I drank, cheated, (with my original affair partner and another man), and wasted away until I realized how much I wanted my husband back and how much I missed him. Amazingly, he still wanted me. So after agreeing to get counseling, I came home.

We saw a counselor about 5 times. Let’s just say he left much to be desired. He did not mention God. He did mention cliché psychological phrases and bored me to tears. But at least my husband and I were talking, living together, trying. But this did not last.

We soon decided that our counselor was a quack, and that we were fine. We carried on with business as usual. Exactly as usual. I mean, we did try a little more at first to be loving, sexual, etc. But soon we were back to the same old routine. I think what really happened is that I never really came back and we did not really try.

Then, I truly hit the lowest point of my entire life. At a friend’s wedding, I had an encounter with yet another man. I did not love him. I barely knew him. But again, he was someone that made me feel accepted. He was like a trophy, almost, because he led this exciting lifestyle and yet chose to be with me. What a joke.

Well, to sum it up, my husband found out through an email I had sent to this man about another meeting. This time, I had an emotional breakdown. I mean, literally - I was not coherent. I was a lunatic. And my husband just stepped directly past me and calmly sauntered out the door. He had had enough.

I spent the next 3 nights out of town at my parent’s house, balling my eyes out, screaming in agony in the middle of the night, sleeping what could not have been more than a couple of hours. I could not think or function. I took days off of work. My husband would not even talk to me and I realized the cold, hard truth - he was gone and I had lost him.

I am not sure what losing a child feels like, or a parent. But I relate that type of death to this feeling. And the worse part of it was that I did it to myself. All I could do at that point is pray. And pray and pray and pray.

I told my husband that I was going to go to a counselor who knew what he was doing. While still at my parents’ house, I looked up about 4 or 5 places. I told myself that the first one to respond, I would go to. I emailed and left messages. And within no more than an hour, I had an answer to my prayer.

A woman from Affair Recovery called back. She told me they had an opening for me and my husband, as soon as we got back in town. We saw Rick for private counseling and he immediately recommended Harboring Hope and Hope for Healing. These classes offered so much hope. My leader told me that I was going to get help. That I was going to be ok. That I was loved and would get through this. The women in my Hope for Healing class had been there, in my skin, living my horrible choices, seeing my husband deteriorate under the pain we had each individually and uniquely caused.

Soon, John agreed to meet with me. When I saw him in the restaurant where we met, I knew that 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 incredibly challenging. My husband was wounded beyond anything I had ever seen in him or anyone else. I had guilt in massive proportions. Each day a little more was revealed and each time was like a dagger into our hearts.

But you know what? Each day we healed a little more too. Affair Recovery and Hope for Healing led us towards truth. My group leader helped us understand that love is both the question and the answer, and that love can solve any problem. Including fixing something that was broken.

So we continued with our groups, learning more and more about this love. We found a new church and new friends. And a new hope. We spent more time learning about each other, talking to each other, and growing in respect for each other. I came to realize that my husband was a gift and that I am truly blessed to have him in my life. To have him there to listen to me and love me is more than I deserve.

We are almost a year removed from our start with Affair Recovery. As painful as it was to relive everything, we have come to realize that we are not bound by our mistakes. We all have faults but we are not slaves to those faults. It is hard sometimes and I forget when the guilt and pain rises again and brings me down. But I know that with God, with prayer, with love, we are going to be ok. We have a new affection for each other that springs from a new understanding of what it even means to love.

Days are going to be hard. You will feel frustrated, confused. You will think that you cannot escape the guilt. But you can. You will. We had the lowest of lows and yet our marriage has been beautifully restored, and it just keeps getting better. Anything is possible if you are willing to try. You will see.

The thing I want to leave with is that, through this whole process of falling in love with my husband again, and being able to communicate with him again, it was the worst year, but it was also the best year of our marriage so far. Not that we’re perfect, but being able to love each other in a way we hadn’t in a long time really meant 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 too are struggling with what to do next, we’d love to help. 95% of those who take our programs say they’d highly recommend us to others in crisis.

To find out more information about Hope for Healing, please click here - http://affairrecovery.com/programs-and-courses/online-courses/hope-for-healing

If you’d like a personal consultation, please feel free to call 512-879-6326 or email us at support@hope-now.com.

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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.

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