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

Lessons Learned

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This week, we hear from a betrayed spouse who also attended one of our EMS Weekends. While experiencing her own personal transformation, she penned a series of journal entries as she started to gain momentum in her own healing. Make no mistake about it, the devastation of infidelity is awful. Life seems to be stolen from the betrayed spouse and darkness feels like the only friend you may have. However, we're honored to share with you that life does in fact, get better. Life does return to the dark, cavernous hole in your hearts.

Take her insight as this weeks' survival guide for those in crisis due to the choices of another.

What I Learned About Healing After My Husband's Infidelity

I've certainly not arrived yet, but I've gained more healing than I ever thought possible. I hope my own personal story and survival guide helps you like it helped me during some of the darkest hours of my life:

  • As Viktor Frankl beautifully articulates in his book "Man's Search for Meaning," *

    "Suffering, in and of itself, is meaningless; we give our suffering meaning by the way we respond to it. Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing - your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you".

  • Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can't eat it away, starve it away, sleep it away, cry it away, exercise it away, or punch it away. It's just there, and you must survive it. You must endure it. You must live through it. Counselors and friends can help you along the way, but the genuine healing is entirely up to you.

  • Nobody's going to do your life for you. You must do it yourself, whether you are rich or poor, out of money or raking it in, the beneficiary of ridiculous fortune or terrible injustice. And you must do it no matter what is true. No matter what is hard. No matter what unjust, sad, sucky things have befallen you. Self-pity is a dead-end road. You make the choice to drive down it. It's up to you to decide to stay parked there or to turn around and drive out.

  • It's likely you may not be able to make total sense out of the horrible and agonizing things that happen to you. However, with determination and mindfulness, you will begin to make sense of YOU, and that matters more than anything right now.

  • Getting over heartbreak is a fight. There is no explanation that will feel satisfying enough to make it all make sense. More information will not equal transformation. We cannot trust what our minds are telling us as heartbreak is a master manipulator. It will talk us into doing the opposite of what we need to do in order to recover, like prompting us to take trips down memory lane or stalk the AP on social media, which tends to deepen the emotional pain and complicate the recovery process. Like I was, you're likely looking for the explanation, the loophole, the bright twist in the dark tale that reverses your story's course. But it won't reverse - for me or for you or for anyone who has ever been wronged, which is everyone. Please accept your current reality and forgive reality for being what it is. Accept that their actions hurt you deeply. Accept that this experience taught you something you'd rather not know. Accept that sorrow and joy can be experienced at the same time. Accept that it is going to take a long time for you to get that monster out of your chest. Accept that what pains you greatly today will hurt less tomorrow. Getting over heartbreak is hard, but if you refuse to be misled by your mind and you take the necessary steps to heal, you can significantly reduce your suffering. You will be more engaged with your family, more productive at work, and more aware of the hundreds of gifts surrounding you every day.

  • Richard Rohr often says that "Pain that is not transformed is transmitted." I remember, in the darkest of days, wanting to be transformed but not sure how that was even possible after experiencing something so traumatic. Here's what I have learned about transformation:

    • First, you must discover your soul. Now, I don't ask you to believe in God or not believe in God, but I do ask you to believe that there's a piece of you that has no shape, size, color or weight but that gives you infinite dignity and value. Rich and successful people don't have more of this than less successful people. Infidelity is wrong because it's an obliteration of another soul.

    • And that led to my second realization, which I borrowed from Einstein:

      "The problem you have is not going to be solved at the level of consciousness on which you created it. You have to expand to a different level of consciousness."

    I'd like to read to you an excerpt from Jennifer Garvey Berger's journal:

    "I will not be who I was. I will not return to normal. I will not move on and forget about this time. And if I could do all of those things, wouldn't it be sort of tragic? Because boy has there been pain and misery on this path, just as there are on the paths of all of us who face changes they did not choose (which is all of us, right?). Wouldn't it be a shame if this path of pain was a kind of loop track, dumping me off at the beginning of the journey, undisrupted and pretending I had never left home as I waited for the scars to fade? This path is taking me to a new place, and each loss is a sign of a me that I cannot carry into the future world. And I believe - I really believe - that each of us will be better next that we used to be. This is not in a believing 'everything happens for the best' sort of way, but in a deep belief in the human spirit to take pain and loss and metabolize them into development and compassion and love. Right now, my body is working overtime to be new; it is nearly a full-time job. I will try to be present in the unfolding of it, holding the amazing delights of the moment when the pain stops and the world feels peaceful again, the joy of laughing over a cup of tea with a friend. I am becoming something new and unexpected."

    I can relate to everything Jennifer describes as she is clearly suffering. But she is not suffering from betrayal; she wrote this one week into chemo treatment for breast cancer. While we suffer uniquely, we survive the same way.

  • Most importantly, you must forgive in order to heal. F. Remy Diederich has an excellent illustration of forgiveness in the book "Stuck: How to Overcome Your Anger and Reclaim Your Life." I wrote this out on an index card and read it numerous times a day for the first year of my healing process:

    "Forgiveness is only for the brave. It is for those people who are willing to confront their pain, accept themselves as permanently changed, and make difficult choices. Countless individuals are satisfied to go on resenting and hating people who wrong them. They stew in their own inner poisons and even contaminate those around them. Forgivers, on the other hand are not content to be stuck in a quagmire. They reject the possibility that the rest of their lives will be determined by the unjust and injurious act of another person. Instead, people who forgive take risks to reshape their lives into something freed from past pain."

  • Suffering's great power is that it's an interruption of life. You are in the Waiting-the ultimate liminal space, the Sabbath of Sabbaths, the time of ultimate rest and waiting: the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I promise you that many fruitful possibilities and entryways are offered here if you choose to see them. This is not how your story ends. It's simply where it takes a turn you didn't expect. We have the capacity to redraw the lines between our powerlessness and our power. We're altered by what hurts us, but with love and consciousness, with intention and forgiveness, we can heal and become whole again.

If you're a betrayed spouse, I'd like to ask you to consider the possibility that there is hope and there is healing for you, personally. I know it can seem like healing and wholeness is a million miles away, but that's just not true. Harboring Hope is a safe place where you'll find expert insight on how to deal with triggers, anger, rage, and even compassion for yourself. You can read more and sign up today at 12:00pm CT by going here: https://www.affairrecovery.com/product/harboring-hope

Harboring Hope registration opens monthly. Subscribe to be notified.

Harboring Hope is our online course for betrayed spouses to heal after infidelity. It often sells out within a few short hours. Don't miss it!

"I just completed the Harboring Hope program. My husband was unfaithful to me emotionally, physically and sexually with a co-worker. What I wished I would've known is that forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things. People who refuse to forgive can never live their own lives, they are too busy obsessing about the life of the one who hurt them. They are stuck. They are unable to enjoy friends, family or even their children. They imprison themselves in a bondage of their own making. I definitely recommend the Harboring Hope program as a support for healing. To be in a safe community with other women who know what you're going through and how you're feeling is comforting. Whether you're able to reconcile or not, there is hope." - M., Michigan | HH Participant, April 2021.

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WOW, so much truth so fast and just in time!

Are there tools to help heal from being married to a Narcissist?

Today is a real bad day for me. Perhaps investing to heal myself for the next relationship I hope to have. To see the red flags and walk away before becoming invested. I hate him- I think of all the ways to make him hurt the way he hurt me and her to. I have the power to strip them both of their jobs. But that will only hurt me financially. I am sooo angry and I want them to suffer. Such selfish asses. I am stupid to forgive him. Stupid for allowing myself to live with such a monster. To me he is the monster and he destroyed my family and I want them to suffer just as much if not more

Your not alone

Dear TimeToLetGo,
I am so sorry for your deep pain. You are not alone. I too have felt the same way. I was consume with deep anger against my husband and his ap. I wanted them to feel my pain as well. Your not stupid as you stated....you took compassion for him and that makes you beautiful. Keep searching and reading and listing to clips from affair recovery. Samuel’s blogs have been a Tremendous help for me....his and Samantha story gives me sanity. Wayne is brilliant and Rick is insightful. Theirs so many free video clips that will help you to realize you’re not crazy and you’re not alone. I wish you the very best. Keep your head up. Your worth it!♥️

Your feelings are normal

Dear Time to Let Go:
I felt so much hatred for my husband and the AP. I am normally a calm, forgiving person; but this was the absolute worse thing that has ever happened to me. (I'm sure my husband is a narcissist too.) I am still with him. I am taking everything day by day. It's hard when you have lost trust. He says it is over and he loves me. We'll see. Still not sure what is going to happen for us. You have to do what is right for you. I don't know if you are still with him or not, but don't make any quick decisions. Get a good lawyer whether you are going to divorce or not. (You don't have to tell him or anyone else.) This really helped me to know what my options are. I needed a plan. The best way to make your husband and his affair partner suffer is to live the best, happiest life ever. Karma has a way of rearing it's ugly head. It's always better to "take the high road". (I'm sorry to say I didn't always do that. ) If he is a monster, you are better off without him. Websites like this are helpful. Don't ever take the blame for his affair. Blessings to you. I know it's hard, but time does help.

I feel your pain. My spouse

I feel your pain. My spouse did the same and continues with the help of his AP she doesn't affect me at all anymore it's them trying to ruin my life with false accusations. I've moved past that as well his lies and accusations re slowing becoming exposed. His family see his ways and doesn't speak to him. He has taken money from me where I am struggling but I have to hold onto "I will be ok" I pray all his sinfulness will be exposed soon.


This was beautifully written! And gives me so much hope!
Thanks so much ❤

So much truth and wisdom here

So much truth and wisdom here. I am the unfaithful in my relationship and this article powerfully impacted me. Taking notes so I, too, can carry these reminders with me. So good.. thank you.

How do you get a full disclosure what are the steps

I’ve been begging for 20 years for a full disclosure and or even a letter of apology in detail. Part of my being stuck. All i geti is brief answers when I have done all the questioning. I do all the crying and grieving and there’s nothing or very little from her. HELP.


I heard in this week's video Wayne say "if you can't hold your head up high then I encourage you to go see a therapist" what if my spouse won't see a therapist or can't be helped by anyone? My husband GREATLY compares himself to the ap and insists the ENTIRE reason WHY I wanted a new relationship was because this guy was young and good looking etc. He won't listen to a word I say about the why as he's convinced himself of all kinds of lies. After 20 months of much all night and all day marathoning (he won't do the 20 minutes/day thing) he's fiber into a depression and we hardly interact at all. He hardly ever touches me, wants nothing to do with me days he doesn't feel love for me anymore and often sleeps in another room. We completed EMSO but it didn't seem to help him at all. What can I do besides continue to work on me and do my best to show him love and look over the offense of all his verbal abuse?

It has to start there….

There really is no complicated why. That all sounds like an excuse and it places blame on the betrayed spouse. It happened because you chose to break your vows. End of story. It has to start there. No more I did it but….. Betrayal of this sort leaves PTSD in its wake and anything you say that minimizes that reality does further damage to your already injured spouse.. Time alone will never heal this, especially when he senses aggravation from you about his difficulty moving on from this. That makes him feel like you just want to move past his shattered being and pretend all is well for your sake. All is not well for him. Look up the trauma that betrayal causes and realize that you are the architect of this mountain of pain. When you speak to him, say nothing that resembles an excuse. Humble yourself and imagine how you would feel. It may or may not change things but it has to start there. I speak from experience. Betrayers are anxious to move on from their behavior while the betrayed wants the betrayed to get the “ugh” of what they have done. He is probably out of tears and no longer hears any excuse. Work on the whys yourself and acknowledge that this goes on your ticket alone.

Great article! Unfortunately

Great article! Unfortunately with all that great advice it really depends on the betrayed to want to stay with their spouse. I’m 5.5 months in and there has been no change in my feelings. He’s doing all he can to fix it, therapy, talking, answering questions. I feel the only way to get peace of mind is to separate. He’s the cause of my misery and I can’t imagine it ever being different.
It was an emotional affair and we had a bad marriage. I understand why it happened but I don’t have to accept it.

What type of affair was it?

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-D, Texas