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

Is There Hope After Infidelity?

The only question we hear more often than, "Why?" is, "Now what?" The journey following infidelity can feel unbearable. We know how difficult it is to find a safe place where you can get help with your delicate emotions. The following is a letter I received from a recent EMS Weekend participant. I encourage you to read it all the way through. This letter was written by a betrayed man and shares his journey from disclosure to attending EMS Weekend to what life is like now. I receive letters like this from time to time and I consider them special gifts. I hope you'll draw the same hope and encouragement from the words of this betrayed spouse.
- Rick

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A Participant's EMS Weekend Experience:

On January 6th I suspected my wife, Jenn*, was having an affair, and I had a hunch who the affair partner was too. I questioned both of them about my suspicion.

They both flatly denied.

I trusted Jenn so completely that I did not question what she told me. It was not until January 20th that the bomb exploded, shattering both my life and my heart into tiny, unrecognizable pieces. This is the night she began to "trickle truth" about the affair. Growing up, I remember looking up at that huge Montana night sky and being completely dumbfounded by the volume of stars. There were so many, they seemed countless. The night of the initial disclosure (there were many more disclosures to come over the next several months), my heart shattered into as many pieces as the stars—and then some.

From that moment on, up to the writing of this account, the events of the preceding months aren't very clear to me. I feel as if I am in this horrible nightmare of which there is no escape. I have simply been existing, trying to take my next breath, not entirely sure how I'll make it to the next moment. I have been unable to find words to accurately describe the sheer magnitude of devastation, betrayal, lies, deceit, disgust, hurt, anger, and rage. It's a devastation that not only affects us but also our immediate family and friends as well. Frankly, I'm not sure how I've made it to the point of writing this letter. The only things I can credit are the saving grace of God and the hope we found at EMS Weekend. Without these two things, I wouldn't have been able to survive the events and disclosure of the affair. I solely, by myself, am certain that I would never have survived.

From D-Day #1 (discovery day) until we arrived at EMS Weekend, I was terrified, afraid, and confused. I wanted to run to my home state of Montana and disappear into the wilderness, never to be seen or heard from again. I wanted all the thoughts and images to be erased from my memory. I didn't want to talk about the affair, the lies, or the horrific feelings. I was tired and worn out from the grieving and the seemingly unending discussions, fights, arguments, anger, rage, name calling, confusion, AHHHHHHHH!!!!

I saw no possible way how you, your EMS program or any psycho-babble bull crap would ever help me, my wife, or our relationship. I was certain that the light at the end of the tunnel was the headlamp on a train engine.

From a human perspective, I knew that IF I was going to give anyone a chance to help me, it was going to be Hope-Now and your staff. In our research for seminar weekends that could possibly help us, two things were vital to me:

  1. It had to be a program that was staffed by experts who had treated infidelity for at least 15 to 20 years. Without that experience and expertise, I wasn't willing to trust anyone. I needed someone who had seen almost everything, not someone who was going to use a one-size-fits-all approach. We had been hurt enough and didn't want any further hurt or confusion in our lives.
  2. I needed to listen to someone who had "been there and done that," not just a counselor who helped couples go through it and could relay stories about how their clients had somehow survived the wreck. I needed to hear from someone who had caused the wreck or been a victim in the wreck and had survived the devastation. To me, there is a huge difference in perspective from someone who was an eyewitness vs. someone who was actually involved.

Upon arrival at EMS Weekend, I had no idea what to expect. Part of me felt like doing everything possible to sabotage our chances of success there. But an amazing thing happened: as I listened to you, Leslie, John, the other therapists, and the other couples present, my heart began to find a new sense of peace and calmness. I was able to not just observe from the cynical perspective I arrived with, but to really hear, learn, and be changed by what was being taught. I saw the hurt and devastation not only in the betrayed spouses, but the unfaithful as well. I saw the genuine love, care, and compassion that all of you had for Jenn and me as we sat there in our biggest time of need. It was the most devastating time in all of our lives. You wanted to help us get realigned with ourselves and with our spouses.

I came to your EMS Weekend secretly hoping to find a way to run from my marriage, the pain, the hurt, and the agony, despite the fact that I had committed to myself and to Jenn to stay in the relationship and rebuild it.

I left the weekend with hope and the ability to communicate with my wife about the affair.

I realized that in order to truly heal, I was going to have to walk that road; any detours would result in a dead end. I left knowing that it was okay and normal for me to have the feelings I was having, and that the timeline I was operating in was okay and not to be rushed. When I arrived, I was so confused as to why I was still experiencing so much pain. I felt it should have been over within a day or two of disclosure. Man was I naïve. I learned that it was okay to grieve and that I actually needed to. I left knowing that I wasn't crazy. I left knowing that we finally had a chance - that we could be even better than where we were before the affair.

Your weekend saved my marriage and my future with my wife.

You see, Rick, I truly believe that Jenn and I are meant to be together. It's not the way I would choose to see our marriage grow stronger, but it's working nonetheless. For the first time since D-Day, I feel like we finally have compassion for each other in ways that would have never been if we didn't sacrifice and attend EMS Weekend.

If I had a choice to continue to live my life with Jenn the way we were prior to the affair or to live the pain we have been through and are going to go through in order to enjoy a better relationship with God, my wife, and my life after the affair, then I choose the post-affair life—every time, without fail, no exceptions.

Experiencing life the way I do now, to know my wife the way I do now, to be known the way Jenn knows me now, to be able to be there to help her realize the woman I see, to have her at my side to realize the man I want to be, to see her amazing strength, courage, and character, and to see her grow in recovery daily—I'll take that any day over what we had before.

I wish there was no need for EMS Weekends. I wish this world and the people in it didn't wreak the havoc, hurt, and devastation they do on one another, but the reality is that people like you and your staff are needed. I hope that I never have to recommend anyone to you, but statistics and life say I probably will. Should that occasion ever arise, I can share with absolute confidence that I would recommend you and your program at the highest level. You saved my marriage, but more than that, you saved my life.

Miracles can and do happen. If your marriage is in crisis, and you can't see a way out, please take action by coming to an EMS Weekend or registering for EMS Online.

*name has been changed

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I would highly recommend giving this a try.
 
-D, Texas