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

How To Handle Pain: Healing After An Affair

I went to an end of the year bash with a bunch of friends during my junior year in high school. We had a great time grilling burgers and listening to music. But two of my friends wanted a bit more excitement and decided to put a cup of ice down my pants. I, on the other hand, wasn’t interested in this type of fun…and the chase began. I was for sure faster, but being lazy, I didn’t want to expend too much energy. Therefore, I made the brilliant decision to climb a tree as a way of escap…
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You are absolutely correct; the pain is equivalent to crashing through a window.  I was bruised and cut so severely, recovery didn't seem possible.  The pain also felt like the entire building came down on me as well; it just weighed so heavily. It was exhausting. And to have my spouse say to me, "Just move on, let it go", was just plain ignorant and hurtful.  The grieving process is necessary, I had to feel those feelings of hurt and sadness and I had to be the one who decided when I was strong enough to continue on the path of recovery.  By controlling the process; grieving, acceptance, acknowledging this new path my life had taken, and finally recovering enough to let go of the pain, I had control - no one else!  By controlling my recovery, I controlled my life.  I am still in control, just in a better place.

I feel like I live in a soap opera

Talking about pain, first he cheated on me and basically called the marriage off. Then his girlfriend died and now he expects me to move on like nothing ever happened. He still does not think he done anything wrong to start with and then we still have to live in the same house due to financial problems. And to top things off he still expects me to do the lions share of the work in the house. He can't cook, he refuses to go shopping and he is never home to even pick up a broom or a vaccum cleaner, so I get stuck with the work unless I like living in a mess, which I don't. At least he now does his own laundry, more out of nessesety, because I just refuse to do it. As long as I live here or he lives here, I will always be reminded how much he takes me for granted doing what he convieniently over looks.

I have applied for a job, but so far no luck. I guess he figures since he makes the money I can do all the owrk at home. Right so he can find a new girlfriend I guess. The distrust will never go away. All I need is enough money to board my horse and find a small cheap appartment for me. After that I think divorce is coming.

I am not dating until the divorce is thru, it is just not fair to the new man in my life to have to deal with issues not caused by him. Effentually I will take over the house, but in the mean time I am so disgusted by his lack of guilt that I just have to find a way to get out temporary until this situation is settled.


I appreciate your articles very much. Sometimes I think no one really understands how I feel. I've had loss in my life before, but none like the pain of betrayal. I feel so alone and I am struggling with my pain. I hope I can learn to make a positive choice towards recovery. Yet there is so much devastation. I feel like I am in a war zone and I am completely numb. That is how I know my process must continue, I want to heal.

Commitment can help make you better.

Pain is now an every day part of my life.  It has been just over 6 months since D-Day and while I feel like we are far down the road to recovery, every day contains moments of hurt, pain or even anger.  Flashbacks and details are becoming clearer and I am starting to put together some of the signs and deception that happened. 

But I can honestly say that right now, I am still faking that I'm okay.  I do not want my wife to hurt, so I cover it up as often as possible.  Occasionally something slips out or I give it away by a look on my face.  I know that hurt is painful for her, in knowing she is the cause of my pain and anxiety.  So, I just keep trying to act like I'm okay.  I am getting better, but not to the degree that she wants.  I do not trust her yet, I do not completely believe her yet, I am so hurt by her past lies and deception....I can only pray and hope that she is being totally honest with me.

Though, my therapist did say something that struck home.  He said that I will never heal (or even really get better) until I make the commitment to stay with her.  He doubted my intention and called me out for being uncommitted to staying in the marriage. 

At first, he was absolutely correct.  Every day swung back and forth on whether I wanted to keep her or let her go.  Once I made that firm decision that I was going to stay with her, I have now started progressing.  The pain is less.  The heartbreak is there, but so is the first glimpse of forgiveness.  I still have moments of anger that cause to the quickly flash on the idea of divorce.  Then I remember my commitment and I quickly steer myself back on course. 

If you are in a relationship where the betrayer is truly and honestly regretful and repentant, willing to do anything to make it up to you, you owe him/her an honest decision if you are staying or leaving.  If you decide to stay (hopefully for all the right reasons), use that promise to reaffirm your actions and let it help you banish the intrusive or painful thoughts.  If he/she loves you, keep working at it. 

I am not healed.  I have not forgiven.  But I am better and with time will keep progressing.

My heart, love and prayers to all those who have been unrighteously betrayed.


Commitment can Make you Better

Amen to this. Living in limbo is life limiting. Either choice, to say or to leave, will be work. Hard work. Minimizing it won't help. However, once the direction is chosen, unless the unfaithful give signs or evidence that they are not going to be safe, stay the course. Limbo is not a good place to live life.

Continual Pain when AP has your spouse's child

Pain for little of a year now is a daily thing. Even more gut wrenching is that the AP has had my husband's child. This pain and ANGER, oooh it is deep in my bones ANGER is almost too much to handle.  I don't know if I want to stay or go. MY child deserves for his mom to give it her best to make it work, but I am crippled when it comes to feeling anything. except for those two emotions listed above.  I have checked out, detached my self from anything to do with my husband.  How can I even imagine a future, when I know this AP and child will be apart of it for the rest of my life.  Do not get me wrong. I know it is not the babe's fault. I have no ill will towards this youngling. I am just trying to make it through the day, plastering a big fake smile on my face. Yes, I am one of those who pretend that everything is alright for the sake of everyone else. 

Continual Pain

All I can offer at this time is God's peace to you. I truly pray for peace for you.

I don't think she gets it

I am plagued by pain. It is always one of my first waking thoughts. Sometime I can go an hour without thinking about what she did, but usually I can't go five minutes without flashing on it. Sometimes, like this morning, I think about it non stop for hours. It can be most anything that sets it off. knowing all the lies she told me and the depth of the deception is so hurtful. But I am haunted the the words she said to him and pictures that I saw she sent to him. It is so sad to know that I may never see her as the same girl I married. Never that sweet and Beautiful woman I loved. I love her and want to get over this for both of us. I just don't think she truly understands what this has done to me. I has destroyed me and I will never be the same man.

I don’t think my H truly gets

I don’t think my H truly gets what this has done to me either. Partly I think it’s out of his survival cuz then the guilt would kill him. I know how much he hates that he hurts me with his surface understanding of my hurt.
He keeps saying he died when he had the affair and it forever changed him. But I get angry that he forgets that he killed me at the same time. I feel like it’s the pain of the actual affair again, keeps forgetting about me and selfishly only seeing his pain or his needs.

Intrusive thoughts are killing my marriage

Despite all the books I've read and things I've done, I cannot stop intrusive and abhorrent thoughts from coming...at the worst of times. I feel better, then they just hit me out of the blue. Every time we are intimate, awful thoughts come. Sometimes I pause and just hold her or i'll just kiss her instead and hope they dissapate. But se thoughts make me stop dead and it is over. Most of the thoughts are just of her in that slimy place with her AP. Many are thoughts of her kissing or touching him. Are her actions/reactions with me the same or fake? The comparisons are awful to have. I have been avoiding lovemaking, as I don't want these to come up. I don't want to see her in that light...but I do. Are there any techniques that you've found today really help? I want and need that intimacy, but I can't be there physically if I can't first be there mentally. I'd love to see an article on dealing with those images. So many people seem to suffer from the same issue.

Agreed! The thoughts of him

Agreed! The thoughts of him receiving pleasure or giving someone else pleasure kills me. I wonder is he thinking abt her when we’re intimate, when he’s alone in the shower. Does he miss that type of sex cuz it was very different with her.
Then there’s all the crap he said when he was in the fog. My skin crawls whenever I hear the word phenomenal as that’s how he described sex with her during one of our early arguments about it.

So yes an article that deals with this topic would be great.

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-D, Texas