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

Surviving Infidelity: 6 Things I Wish I'd Known

Not knowing there was hope left me skeptical and hesitant to give my marriage a chance.

This week's article explores the question:

"What did you not know that you needed to know, after the affair came to light?"

Answering from the perspective of the unfaithful person. Most any unfaithful spouse can tell you what they wish they'd known and it would carry some merit. Today however, I'd like to tell you what I wish I had known coupled with observations I have noticed over the past 30 years.

First, I needed to know that it wasn't about me.

I perpetrated the infidelity, but the devastation and loss belonged to my wife. Helping her heal from the wound I created needed to be the focus, not my guilt and shame. It was far too easy to make it about me and my reasons, rather than listening to her pain and taking responsibility. I must admit early on this is one of the toughest things for the unfaithful spouse to accomplish in recovery.

Second, I wish someone had given me a realistic understanding of the timeline of surviving infidelity.

I had no idea how long my wife would be haunted and tortured by my infidelity and the things I did. For months she was tormented by intrusive thoughts that caused her to re-experience the same painful emotions she felt at the discovery of my failure. Forgiveness couldn't even stop her nightmare. It took months for her to feel safe enough to reconcile with me, but that didn't stop the ongoing consequences she continued experiencing. I mistakenly believed that we would soon put this behind us and move on, but there was no way for me to protect her from the consequences of what I'd done.. I think if I had understood the timeline of surviving infidelity, I would not have been so impatient and probably not as frustrated at times.

Third, I wish I had known the necessity of telling the truth after the affair.

Because I foolishly thought about me and wanted to avoid consequences, I failed to give my mate what she needed. I tried to control the situation by the flow of information, robbing her of her choice. Not only that, but if it didn't make sense to me, (and after my infidelity and failures why did I think I knew anything?) then I assumed it was wrong. My self-centeredness prohibited my acting in my mate's best interest and fueled my own self-protection at her expense (as if I hadn't already cost her enough). I refused to accept that we couldn't move forward until she could at least understand what happened. Coming clean at the beginning of the process would've saved my mate months of suffering and shortened our time of rehabilitation after my betrayal.

Fourth, I wish I'd known what my actions would cost.

When I betrayed my wife I was so short sighted that I never considered what it might cost her as well as my family. My only thought was "I'll never get caught". I wish I had known what my self-centeredness and carelessness would cost those most important to me. I believe, had I allowed myself to be aware of the cost, it would've served as an inhibitor.

Fifth, I wish I'd known there was hope for surviving infidelity.

Not knowing there was hope left me skeptical and hesitant to give my marriage a chance. If I had known it was possible, I would've more quickly sought help, and I certainly would've had a better attitude. It wasn't until we met others, who had not only succeeded in saving their marriages but were now better off, that I began to realize what could be.

Sixth, I wish I'd known what love was.

I craved feelings I labeled as love. Feelings that came from having someone I valued value me in return. It made me feel I was all that. In fact, the more I esteemed the other person, the stronger the effect. But, what I really loved was how they made me feel about myself. The reflection of my image in their eyes made me feel amazing. But love isn't that feeling, rather it's the grace my wife extended, not when I deserved it, but rather when I least deserved it.

If you and I were playing ball and broke a window, then went to the owner and he in turn charged us $20 for the damage, it would be justice. If we were playing ball and broke a window, went to the owner and he informed us it was $20, but then said, "Don't worry about it; I'll take care of it", that would be mercy because we didn't have to pay for what we had done. However, if we were playing ball and broke a window and the owner said the cost was $20, but then said not to worry about it, he'd take care of it and then he said, "Would you guys like some ice cream?" That is grace because I get ice cream for breaking the window. Grace is getting what you don't deserve.

My wife gave me ice cream for breaking the window. She continued to love me after I broke her heart. The difference between the two loves is amazing. The first type of love made me feel good about myself, the second left me feeling cared for, not because of who I was, rather in spite of who I was. That love transformed me.

If I'd only known the meaning of love, perhaps I would not have been so self-centered. Rather, just maybe I could've cared for others.

I would love to hear the lessons learned from others of you who have been unfaithful. I hope you'll take a moment to leave a comment about:

"What did you not know that you needed to know, after the affair came to light?"

Hopefully, the lessons we learned could save others some of the heartbreak we experienced.

We want to invite you to Hope Rising, a one day conference for betrayed spouses, Saturday, October 6th from 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM in Austin, TX. Registration is open and space is limited. We expect the Austin event to sell out soon and are offering a live-streaming option. Make plans now to join us as we hear from several guest speakers, authors, and our Affair Recovery team of experts and other survivors who are thriving.

If you're in need of direction or an initial roadmap to recovery, I'd like to encourage you to consider starting your healing with our free First Steps Bootcamp Program. It's free, it's engaging and it's a great way to begin a process to recovery which will help you both find new life after the affair.

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6 things I wish I had known

I wish I had known that going to my spouse about my problems (that eventually led to my affair) could have stopped my affair from happening. Keeping them bottled up inside and not confronting my spouse that my needs weren't being met was all I needed to do to keep our marriage on the right track. It would have forced us to take a look at our marriage and ourselves and work to fix the problem together. Instead we both chose to ignore the problem and go for years without having our needs met. Shutting down communication, throwing our lives into our children, putting ourselves last was the wrong way to go about it. It didn't fix the problems we had, it made it worse. Three words was all I had to say "I am lonely" and all of this could have been avoided.

Same here but alittle diff

I feel the same..my husband had multiple affairs and seeked them on dating sites etc..I felt do dirty and alone..How dare he! if he would of only talked to me!! I NEVER thought there was a problem.. I actually thought he was going thru mid life crisis then thought he had some medical issues and felt compasion for him!! and here he was having affairs... I kick myself for letting him back in ...it was broken..and to boot he told me he did not love me any more any way...how can someone do that to some one after being married for 14 years and 6 or 7 years dating BEFORE that... I just dont understand ..prob never will..Divorce is final.. He hates me now and I still love him..How can that even be.

deception

I do not like deceptive people. I always thought my husband was a good man. He was an Eagle Scout and always prided himself in being a good person. The type that helps little old ladies with canes across the street.

He was that type too. At least the part of him I knew about.

Because of his good guy persona, I gave him lots of freedom......boy's night's out, men's trips, etc. I was proud to let him go on these outing, despite warning from other more possessive wives. I knew him, or so I thought, and I never thought he would want to destroy his good guy image.

When his affair was discovered, I realized the good guy thing was just an act.

My husband continued to lie. He lied about not talking to the ex affair partner. He had, several times. Of course I found out. I had found a hidden credit card and a hidden bank account. He swore he had closed them. He had not.

Those discoveries...deceptions were far worse than the affair because he already saw the devastation his affair had caused to our relationship.

He claimed that he was planning to close the account but had not gotten around to it, the same with the credit card. Okay so why lie. Just say that.

The same with talking to the affair partner. He said he just wanted to find out who outed the affair. Still, he promised me he would never talk to her ever again. Yet he lied.

My husband is remorseful, although he still sometimes plays the victim, and he has been now doing a lot of good things, but our marriage will never be the marriage I thought I had. I will never ever look at him the same way.

To me, he is mostly a good guy and somewhat trustworthy, but I will never trust him 100 percent again.

Sure we had some problems. Who doesn't? He said he was unhappy with some things. Well did he think I was thrilled with life, too. There were things that made me unhappy, but I did not cheat. I found other ways to cope.

As a counselor pointed out, too. Most of the things that made my husband unhappy was not being successful as he wanted and quitting good jobs to start three different businesses that failed and caused him to start over as an employee.

The thing that makes me the saddest, is although we are still together and our marriage is not the same, the really awful thing is I am not the same. I am very distrustful of him and as a byproduct other people.

I also became a bit more selfish in the relationship. I do not like this, but I also do not want to change. It is a way to protect my hard.

The selfishness manifests in small ways, but it has changed me to the core.

For example, even when he was out with his friends or at a dinner meeting, If there was a pint of ice cream in the refrigerator, I would always only eat half and always always save the rest for him.

He loved when I did that. He would sometimes already have had dessert, when out, but he told me he loved that I always thought of him and save him some.

After finding out about the money he spent on his affair partner, I can no longer bring myself to save half the ice cream for him, when he is late at work or at a meeting where refreshments will be served, I eat as much ice cream as I want to.

I really do not like this change in me. I do not hide the fact that I eat most of the ice cream, or maybe all of it, now. And, when he notices it, I can see a wistful look on his face, although he says nothing, or maybe mentions that he already had dessert.

Still, I do not feel he deserves the grace of ice cream, literally. He is getting plenty of mercy and grace in other ways.

I am hoping this will change in the future, but for now, it will not.

One thing I wish I knew now

My situation mirrors this exactly only I'm the hurt partner. In one fell swoop I found my spouse had reconnected with a High School sweetheart (thanks Facebook), helped them move across the country to be nearby, find a place to live, find a job, even file their G...D.... taxes. Introduced them to me along the way as "an old friend". Had them over to the house for dinner. Watched our kids. My teeth grind just thinking about it.

I learned what a "lifeboat relationship" is, and they they were just waiting for the right tide to sail. Found out by accident.

We're trying to recover, but how is it possible to go from "til death do us part" to "I don't want you in my life any more" and then BACK?

Your marital problems didn't

Your marital problems didn't cause the adultery. Take some responsibility for what you did instead of laying the blame for your failures at the feet of your marriage.

What I wish I'd of known

First of all I have to tell you that your articles have been an absolute God-send for me! Therapy is not in our budget, so I feel you have indirectly been my therapist and I sincerely thank you! Words cannot express my gratitude!

What I wish I'd of known concerning the affair was the incredible toll it would have on my self-esteem. Realizing that the AP was truly only interested in meeting HIS needs, left me feeling even more empty than before the affair.

What "led" me to seek out another man was a lack of what I felt I wasn't getting emotionally from my husband. Ironically, I seemed to attract - and be attracted to - the very same emotionally, detached man who had the same personality as my husband. After the affair ended, this led me to a dark place that told me there wasn't anyone who truly wanted to "know" me. That I was only a vessel for gratifying sexual needs. The rest of me didn't matter. If I could of realized this early on before I let myself develop feelings, I think I would of tried to communicate more to my husband what I was actually feeling and needed. But when you're in the middle of such a high, it's almost impossible to see the writing on the wall!

I am still a LONG way from healing; but by God's grace and mercy- and continued, invaluable resources such as you offer, I feel there is a glimmer of light beginning to show.
Thank you again!!

Awareness

Thank you for this post. Sadly my former husband still can't or chooses not to accept the horror of what he did to me and to our family. He has no consciousness of God so no conscience. I offered grace but he refused it. He resented my own admission of my failings and my offer to forgive and reconcile. I see the destruction of a man who could have courageously chosen what you did. I pray every day for Gid to bless him with a deep, true awareness of God and of his own sin so he could come to a place to receive grace.

Broken hearted

I could have written these exact words. Even after two years my husband has not taken responsibility but claims to be the victim in all this. The divorce he demanded will be final next week and he's moving in with his AP. I continue to love him but am accepting that he just cannot grasp what unconditional love is.

6 Things I Wish I'd Known

Your article could not be more on point. If my husband had extended this courtesy to me, we would be in a completely different place right now. His lack of transparency and respect for the journey that I am now faced to overcome has been beyond harsh. He "wanted to move on" and not deal with the aftermath of a situation that he created. While I understand that there were medical "reasons" for his behavior, this does not erase the pure pain of the affair and the fact that he should have and still should take on the responsibility of assiting me with healing. My wish is that anyone who has betrayed their spouse reads this article. It will save much heartache and certainly help with the healing process.

grace

Well said Rick! I will add another layer of grace. Titus 2:11-12 discusses the power of grace to change. So not only did we get a relationship with God and heaven versus hell (justice) we are completely forgiven but then get the power to change!

So loved the article!

Awesome article!

Rick, once again another amazing article that just puts things in to the right perspective!

As far as me, you hit the nail on the head! The biggest thing I would have to say is be honest about the details. Don't keep things because you think that telling that stuff isn't important. Being completely open and honest with your mate from the very beginning will be much more appreciated by the betrayed than the lies. Aside from the actual affair, it is the lies I told that keeps haunting my husband. He wonders whether what I say now is truth or a lie. And I don't blame him!

Secondly, don't consider divorce as an option to overcoming infidelity. I did that! I believed that that was the only way. I figured that I didn't deserve my husband and that forgiveness was not a possibility. So I considerec divorce. In my mind, it was the only way to keep him from hurting but that inadvertently hurt him more. Luckily, he fought for us when I didn't deserve it!

And lastly, don't give up! Stubbornness finally pays off when it comes to recovering from infidelity! If you want to make it work it will!

Blessings! Here's to healing!

Thank you. I leaned grace & I

Thank you. I leaned grace & I hope my husband reads your information.

Had I known then what I know now...

Many post affair people say to themselves if I had known then what I know now I would've never done it. They also wish they could turn back the clock. Unfortunately, that is not something that post affair people can do. All we can do is deal with our spouse in a loving, caring, godly way which is very difficult at times when we just want our spouse to move past it quickly. I know there were many times that I wasn't graceful with my husband when he would share with me his anger, jealousy, fear, discouragement, rejection or anything that reminded him of my past infidelity. Thank God it's been over two years since the affair happened. I'm in a precarious situation because the AP, as far as I know, still lives across the next major intersection; basically across the street. I can't verify that for sure but I think he may be living there. It used to vex both of us as we thought about the affair every time we made a turn at that intersection. Now it still is in the back of our minds every time we pass the AP's apartment, but we just don't talk about it as much. My husband used to bring it up every day, then it turned to every other day, then he would bring it up once a week, and then once a month. Now he brings it up every so often to let me know that he's still recovering from the pain. Just like a broken leg, it heals but it never functions the same way that it did before the accident. I take full responsibility for the affair, whereas at the beginning of the affair I blamed my husband because he can be generally critical, nitpicky, faultfinding, and spoke to me like a little girl or a little sister if I accidentally did something wrong. When I brought this up to my husband at the discovery of the affair; that it was his fault because he can be retentive at times with me, he would question me, asking why I just didn't bring it up to his attention instead of having an affair. I look back and I realize that it was a justification or excuse for the affair, in my mind. I think most things in life that are done at the heat of the moment that results in long-term pain and suffering emotionally, financially, physically, maritally, etc. could be prevented and avoided if we had forethought and a long-term vision instead of focusing on self gratification for the moment.

mercy & grace

I really appreciate this article. The window story is priceless! God Bless you and your ministry!

6 Things I learned

rather when I least deserved it.
If you and I were playing ball and broke a window, then went to the owner and he in turn charged us $20 for the damage, it would be justice. If we were playing ball and broke a window, went to the owner and he informed us it was $20, but then said, “Don’t worry about it; I’ll take care of it”, that would be mercy because we didn’t have to pay for what we had done. However, if we were playing ball and broke a window and the owner said the cost was $20, but then said not to worry about it, he’d take care of it and then he said, “Would you guys like some ice cream?” That is grace because I get ice cream for breaking the window. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

Rick, that was a great illustration...I intend to share your article with my "unfaithful" men in hopes they can see the difference between, justice, mercy and grace.

God bless,
Jerry

Broken window

Great article. Just a comment from the hurt spouse side. It would also be prudent to put up a window protector so the window doesn't get broken again. Fine line between grace and door mat. If the window is repeatedly broken it would be crazy to not protect it in some way. This perhaps also touches on the concept of repeated infidelities. Once a window is broken it has to be replaced.....not just fixed. As Einstein said, Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. Unless you want to continue to get your window broken, something has to change.

agree

Wow that really is true... good point!!

Kim said it best. Some

Kim said it best. Some unfaithful people don't change and are therefore not safe to reconcile with.

Broken things can never be

Broken things can never be the same again no matter how much or what kind of glue you use to try and repair it. Here's what put some things into perspective for my spouse. It's not about a window, but still about breaking ---sort of similar:

Grab a plate and throw it on the ground.

-- Okay, done.

Did it break?

--Yes.

Now say sorry to it.

-- Sorry.

Did it go back to the way it was before?

---No.

Do you understand?

You are right. You can't fix the window (or plate). You have to replace it and put in protectors to keep it from being shattered again. I have a cement wall around the window to my heart right now. I hope with time, transparency, lots of work by the both of us, and God's help, I can tear down that wall and let him in again. Hard to do after 20 years of lies and infidelity.

Nailed It

Kim you did nail it. Grace is a beautiful thing, but the person offering it gives up a piece of themselves. Protection should be put in place to not need it again. Protect the window, put guards on it. Heck, how about stop playing baseball there anymore. Take it somewhere else, where it's supposed to be. Leave the yard if you must. Too many unfaithful just don't get it.

I'm sitting here with my unfaithful wife and two grown boys on an Easter weekend getaway. Even though it's been a year since the last DDay and 3 since the peak of the affair, I get sick in my stomach when I look at them and think about how our marriage has been soiled and their legacy damaged. I pause to take a deep breath and let it pass. The boys may never know the whole truth, what I've endured to keep it together. I wish some day they know how hard I worked to save that window, repair it, to keep their family house intact.

Wish I'd known...

I cannot for the life of me understand how I could have felt that my actions would not cause such grief, I let the physical distance I kept from my infidelity, the lack of physical liaisons quantify or in my mind belittle my affair. We justified the action by fooling ourselves into thinking what we were doing was not "an affair", it was two people "friends" texting about how their lives were "so miserable" (imagine the gall of that belief), how our spouses could not provide the love that we deserved, how misunderstood but so much alike we were. Flirting, building a relationship, supporting each other, and supposedly "loving" each other...
Sixth, I wish I’d known what love was. I craved feelings I labeled as love. Feelings that came from having someone I valued value me in return. It made me feel I was all that. In fact, the more I esteemed the other person, the stronger the effect. But, what I really loved was how they made me feel about myself. The reflection of my image in their eyes made me feel amazing. But love isn’t that feeling, rather it’s the grace my wife extended, not when I deserved it, but rather when I least deserved it.
I wish I'd known how much damage my words to my wife could do, how much pain I caused her as I tried to defend myself, how much she was , and still is hurting because of the lies I told to myself. I even went so far as to proclaim that she should have an affair of her own so that she could feel how wonderful it was to have someone so freshly in love, how great it was to have someone "love you"...
I now know how ridiculous and egotistical that declaration was, how foolish...Just like his number 6, I loved the attention, attention I surely did not deserve.
I cannot take back those words, and the damage I did when I spit them out in righteous indignation will take years to heal...Frustration and impatience are not feelings I deserve, Compassion for a wonderful woman full of grace should be my only sentiment if I truly think we can save our relationship. In hindsight, no matter how you tell another person that is not your spouse that you "love them", whether it be in a physical embrace or over the airwaves...the damage is the same, and yes, the knowledge and scope of the damage I caused would have been the inhibitor I shouldn't have needed in the first place.
Had I put a tenth of the effort I put towards impressing my "cyber fling" back into my own marriage, this never would have happened. That I know for sure.

infidelity

i had been married 42 years when I finally told my wife that I had cheated on her our first 9 years and lusted for an additional 33 years and managed to keep it all a secret. Then my confession stretched out over a one year period. Every time I told her something new, it would take her back to square one. Pain went deeper each time. I didn't get any council or advice, just blurted it all out. If I had it all to do over, first of all I wouldn't cheat, and secondly, get council!. I literally destroyed her. I am trying to restore us now. Knowing all the damage I've caused , I wouldn't cheat!

What You Wish...

Thank You, Rick for allowing both sides to gather here in a mature fashion about such a devastating topic. ADULTERY.

I think that the LAST THING is more desert. It's time for some serious HOUSEKEEPING. Forgiveness I will grant eventually with the Savior's help, but The Ice Cream of Restoration IS GOING TO TAKE blood, sweat, and tears of HONESTY, TRANSPARENCY, AND ACCOUNTABILITY BEFORE either of us have a chance for dessert.
People ARE NOT REWARDED for a BAD BEHAVIOR.
My DH knows that, and is finally willing to give love to SOMEONE who is worth it instead looking for "love" in many faces and places.
It's amazing how we as people don't see what's before us. I'm glad to hear that Everyone here sees this now. May your stories as FORMER UNFAITHFUL bless us.
Especially those whom have yet to see brokenness in their own spouses for the uncalled for Hurt of a Lifetime.

I wish I Knew

All of the things in this article resonate with me in a powerful way. That literally could have been written by me (except I can't write like that). But the two things that resonate the loudest that I wish I knew was the cost, and the meaning of love. I wish I had known the steep price my wife was going to pay for my choices. Even if that wouldn't have motivated me to stay faithful, it would have been so helpful in the healing to make it about her and not me. Second, I really didn't know the meaning of love. Now that my wife has demonstrated the grace needed for recovery and has blessed me with this amazing, joyful marriage, I know the meaning of love. Love is a choice, not a feeling. I love choosing my wife every day and I'm humbled beyond words that she chooses me after what I did. God is good and He wants joyful marriages for all of us.

6 things I wish I knew

AMAZING. I have read alot but this by far was the most profound.

What I wish I'd known...

that my kids would have nothing to do with me for being unfaithful to their father
and that in turn, they would slight him because he chose to forgive me and work on our marriage.
Clinging to the promise that God works all things for the good of those who love Him, who are called
according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Not an excuse for an affair, but things weren't right for many years.
I'm hoping with the programs and Christian counseling that we come out stronger and have a greater
marriage and that our children will benefit from it.

Things I wish I'd known

Great article!! I wish I'd known how devastated my husband would be due to my infidelity. Love the "broken window" analogy. I have known God's love & grace because of my husband's commitment to helping me heal. I wish that I had focused more on his healing at the beginning of our recovery. I hurt for him. I think, finally, that I am heading in the right direction. May the peace of God be with all of us day-by-day.

6 Things I wish I'd known

How do I get past losing my wife. She was drunk for years and we struggled with her being a functional drunk for so long. The last few years her alcohol took over and our girls and I tried to cope. Her affairs I thought were going to destroy me and I fought to bury them in my mind. The lies and false promises were killing me and I just couldn't get her to go to one of your retreats. My children hate her and I feel lost. I put on a happy face and raise my girls but I cry everytime I'm alone. I've lost my ability to trust and love. Is this what my life is to become till I die? What happens when my girls are grown? How can she destroy our family and smile and be happy like its no big deal?

What I needed to know

Well that's a loaded question... First because if I had known what I needed to know, I probably wouldn't have done what I did BUT I never would've been low enough in my life to truly repent and cry out for mercy from The Lord. The Lord has taken my broken road and used it to restore my marriage and recreate a new husband for me! I'm not saying whatsoever that what I did was right by no means. It was a selfish, foolish act on my part and has caused a lot of pain for my spouse and myself included. And to think now that my Lord has used it all to show me what true love is?! Praying for my husband, my kids and all my enemies. It's amazing to really see love develop for my husband simply by praying for him. And so IF I had known the future pain I created on myself and spouse, I probably would've not taken action BUT then my husband and I would've never allowed our Savior to reshape our hearts and ultimately grant us a 2nd chance at this marriage thing.

deception is the worst part.

I do not like deceptive people. I always thought my husband was a good man. He was an Eagle Scout and always prided himself in being a good person. The type that helps little old ladies with canes across the street.

He was that type too. At least the part of him I knew about.

Because of his good guy persona, I gave him lots of freedom......boy's night's out, men's trips, etc. I was proud to let him go on these outing, despite warning from other more possessive wives. I knew him, or so I thought, and I never thought he would want to destroy his good guy image.

When his affair was discovered, I realized the good guy thing was just an act.

My husband continued to lie. He lied about not talking to the ex affair partner. He had, several times. Of course I found out. I had found a hidden credit card and a hidden bank account. He swore he had closed them. He had not.

Those discoveries...deceptions were far worse than the affair because he already saw the devastation his affair had caused to our relationship.

He claimed that he was planning to close the account but had not gotten around to it, the same with the credit card. Okay so why lie. Just say that.

The same with talking to the affair partner. He said he just wanted to find out who outed the affair. Still, he promised me he would never talk to her ever again. Yet he lied.

My husband is remorseful, although he still sometimes plays the victim, and he has been now doing a lot of good things, but our marriage will never be the marriage I thought I had. I will never ever look at him the same way.

To me, he is mostly a good guy and somewhat trustworthy, but I will never trust him 100 percent again.

Sure we had some problems. Who doesn't? He said he was unhappy with some things. Well did he think I was thrilled with life, too. There were things that made me unhappy, but I did not cheat. I found other ways to cope.

As a counselor pointed out, too. Most of the things that made my husband unhappy was not being successful as he wanted and quitting good jobs to start three different businesses that failed and caused him to start over as an employee.

The thing that makes me the saddest, is although we are still together and our marriage is not the same, the really awful thing is I am not the same. I am very distrustful of him and as a byproduct other people.

I also became a bit more selfish in the relationship. I do not like this, but I also do not want to change. It is a way to protect my hard.

The selfishness manifests in small ways, but it has changed me to the core.

For example, even when he was out with his friends or at a dinner meeting, If there was a pint of ice cream in the refrigerator, I would always only eat half and always always save the rest for him.

He loved when I did that. He would sometimes already have had dessert, when out, but he told me he loved that I always thought of him and save him some.

After finding out about the money he spent on his affair partner, I can no longer bring myself to save half the ice cream for him, when he is late at work or at a meeting where refreshments will be served, I eat as much ice cream as I want to.

I really do not like this change in me. I do not hide the fact that I eat most of the ice cream, or maybe all of it, now. And, when he notices it, I can see a wistful look on his face, although he says nothing, or maybe mentions that he already had dessert.

Still, I do not feel he deserves the grace of ice cream, literally. He is getting plenty of mercy and grace in other ways.

I am hoping this will change in the future, but for now, it will not.

Not Really Sure How This Will All End Up

Our marriage was in a very bad place for about four years due to do a promotion my husband accepted that entailed me giving up my entire happy life of many years. I agreed to move as my husband was taking the job either way and we have had lengthy work separations in the past and my husband has always found a woman to comfort him emotionally during these separations, maybe more who knows. Stupidly, I never questioned my husbands physical fidelity in the past. I figured if I did not go this time, our marriage would be over. The job turned out to be very very stressful, then coupled that with our bad marriage, well my husband began an emotional affair with an office subordinate (10+ years his junior). It started off "innocently enough" but quickly escalated to the point that my husband seriously thought about leaving his family to start over with this woman. I knew I had a situation on my hands early on; at first I would make comments about the "friendship" and my husband would never deny anything, as a matter of fact he would taunt me about her by saying things along the lines of "Why wouldn't I want to be with her, she is smart, funny, pretty, fit, etc. etc." implying that I was none of those things. Long story short, the bloom started to come off the rose when my husband started to realize that his feeling for her were not matched. He was making plans to finalize the relationship on a business trip that just the two of them were going, but I found some information on his computer and confronted him with it. Talk about a disaster waiting to happen; he would have had a sexual harassment claim filed against him. He "ended" the relationship best as he could, the woman still works for him, they see each other for social work functions and will travel together. My husband does not understand my need for the truth, his therapist says that I need to allow him to tell me his truth on his timeline. I do not have that luxury. For nine month, I was in a constant state of panic and experienced anxiety attacks almost daily. The worst thing was he was sooo brazen about the whole thing, constantly challenging me over the legitimacy of his emotional affair, arranging events for us to go to together so that he could see her, etc. etc.. So, end of day, no idea how this will go. I thought we were going to be ok, then I accidently stumbled on some additional information that my husband was never going to tell me. He just refuses to be completely honest with me. I gave him what he needed to get back on track in our marriage, but he is not extending the same to me. Taking it day by day, would not be wrecked if the marriage ended. I just don't know if my husband is capable of understanding what he did to me and our family. He has always been a very selfish, me first guy, maybe someday with therapy he can better understand himself and want to change. Final words, if you suspect something is wrong, go with your gut, the gut doesn't lie. The head and heart will find work abounds, but not the gut.

6 Things I Wish I'd Known Comment

WOW!! This is by far one of the best post I have read. Thanks for sharing it. It really hit home for me!!!

6 things I wish I had known

The biggest for me just came to light after 10 years in dealing with this and just a few months from full disclosure, of the extent of my sexual addiction. That is that my control of information and thinking I could continue to tell only what I thought she needed to know would somehow be better. I realize now how much damage that did and how I was not allowing my wife to heal or have a choice in healing because i wasnt giving her the full picture of all i had done, i was protecting myself and in the process dragging both of us further into the pit of despair. Looking back, I see how much that crushed her.

The other is grace, just like you said grace is getting what you dont deserve. I just recently had some revelation about grace through a book called Grace is Greater and it finally allowed me to see how much grace I had been shown and how I didn't even see it. It also helped me empathize with what I had put my wife through and fully start to appreciate the magnitude of exactly what Jesus did on the cross for us and what that should look like in a marriage.

Lying

I wish I had known he continued to value and stay in contact with the person he was cheating with. Knowing he could deceive me for so long, then lie after it came to light, is crippling.

I get it

It has been two years since I believe my wife ended her affair. She told me it was over with her lover, we went to counseling but I discovered she was still in the relationship. This cycle carried on for another year before, she really ended it. At least that is what I'm trying to believe. Now I just don't trust her and just don't know how to move past it. I'm trying. I'm committed.

Thank you

As a betrayed spouse, I can’t thank you enough for this email to the unfaithful spouses. I especially appreciate the last paragraph about what love really is. This email has brought me comfort.

The grace I am offering to my unfaithful spouse each day I choose to show up and ride this daily roller coaster of pain and hurt to see if a miracle is possible is real love for the real him, all parts of him not some facade or fantasy image of him.

His AP didn’t know him and he didn’t know her. They just fed each other’s egos and lived in fantasy land. They didn’t do life together. Feeding egos isn’t love. It’s done purely with selfish intent and greed. True love doesn’t show up this way. It’s not about self, it’s about serving others and wanting what is best for them.

I’m sickened, repulsed and saddened that my spouse could allow himself to become so unclear and needy of something so empty, selfish and shallow, forgetting the good man he was when we married and shared sacred vows over 20 years ago in front of God, our priest and our friends and family.

I am deeply grateful to God for directing us through a friend to AR. Before AR, I couldn’t see but one option and that was to end the marriage although that was never something I wanted. I felt pushed into a corner by my spouse’s horrible decisions. This was unfair and unjust.
AR showed us there can be hope and not only presented the path and tools on how to recover from the infidelities but also how to create a new, more mature, loving, covenant marriage.

Thank you AR for your continued support on this difficult yet hopeful journey to love, healing, clarity, maturity,growth and peace.

Thank you for this...

Reading this makes me feel like I’m not alone on this horrible roller coaster ride of recovery. Although I chose to stay on this ride, there are times I just want it to end. To get off and never get on again.

I too from early on stated that it was not “real life” and my husband and AP were living in a fantasy world.

Sometimes I feel so alone on this journey then I read things like this that make me feel like I’m not alone. It’s normal to have the feelings that I have even after a lot of time has passed. I feel it’s hard for my husband to understand what I’m going through with the triggers and thoughts.

Thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone.

I so relate

Thank you for responding
Your broken heart sounds a lot like mine !
I relate with everything you said
Thanks for sharing - I’m not alone in this gut wrenching pain !!!

so honest

Thank you for writing this article! As betrayed, this was so insightful for me. I see parts of these lights sparkling up in my spouse's eyes too. I believe he will arrive here too where you have arrived.
Kind of bad that 'all these' had to happen for such realizations (on what true love is, on what true care is, on what responsibility is), but, when there is such an outcome (like yours), than I believe that the most was brought out from a very bad situation.

Kind greetings (and congrats!)
Bunny

The betrayed wife

Rick, you really nailed it! My husband’s affair was discovered by our 25 yr. old daughter 7 mos. ago. His behavior caused her to go through his cellphone & she showed me that my husband of 30 yrs. was having an affair with an out of town colleague! For the last 7 months I’ve been trying to get more details out of him. He still swears nothing more than flattery, handholding & kissing was involved! Even though I saw plenty of sexual memes sent to her on his cellphone. He’s admitted to his emotional infidelity & is wallowing in shame. He’s read some articles, a book on how to help your spouse heal & several of Samuel’s Affair Recovery videos. We even went to a Christian Infidelity counselor once but couldn’t afford his program. What I’m having the most trouble with is even though he says he’s so sorry & loves me, he can’t seem to show me he loves me or connect on an emotional level with me. I feel so rejected & even though I’ve told him in many ways that I need to see some urgency from him that he doesn’t want to lose me or the marriage, he’s too wrapped up in his own guilt & shame to give me anything to heal. I haven’t gained much ground in my own recovery after reading your articles & hundreds of Samuel’s videos & other infidelity experts videos. So, I go back to him again & ask for details of his affair. He only gives me generalities. No specifics. I’m a detail oriented person so, this drives me nuts! He swears he’s told me everything.

So, then I say, “You want me to believe that you abandoned & discarded me, your wife & best friend for a few flattering words & kisses? Is that what your telling me? That’s all it takes for you to destroy our lives, me & our daughter’s? That’s how little you value me? You tell me that you haven’t been attracted to me for several years but you cheated on me with an ugly woman who flattered you? And now I’m supposed to believe you love me & you’ll never do this again? If flattery is all it takes for you to throw away your moral code & the people who love you, you will cheat again!”

So now, Rick, I’m remembering the article you wrote about pleasers. Maybe, my whole marriage was wasted on a pleaser who doesn’t know what love is. Maybe there’s nothing to save here. He’s always had trouble showing love. I’m 65 yrs. old now. How do I pick up the pieces & move on?

The other thing I thought you might need to add to your great article is how a spouse can have emotional affairs & not even know it. My husband had also been seeing an old girlfriend on secret lunch dates when he was supposed to be seeing clients! If he never had sex with her, he thinks he wasn’t having an affair. But the experts say, if it’s a secret, you lie about it, you’ve had “chemistry “, it’s an affair! It can even happen on line without even meeting them! So now, how many Affairs has he really had?

Wish i had known

Your article hit the nail on the head. This should be required reading for every couple in recovery! The only comment I would add is that in many cases, recovery extends to years, not months. My H wasn't even done telling me all the truth and acting out even several years into recovery. I'm glad we stayed together, but it took 8 years due to the length and frequency of his indiscretions. His entire brain had to be rewired, as infidelity, secrets, and lies had been his lifestyle, with his father as a role model. I'm finally getting over my PTSD type symptoms, but just to caution- recovery time can stretch to years depending on the length and severity of the betrayed's infidelities. Only you can decide if it's worth hanging in there. If I had it to do over again, I would have insisted on a polygraph.

Jesus be the center

Thank you for this article...my husband had an affair that lasted 7 months and his AP also had a fiance and young daughter. When the affair came to light I found out that that the other woman was also pregnant and it could possibly be my husbands baby. Its been only 2 months since Ive found out and its still going to be a long process... My huaband has made every effort to reconcile and do what he can to help in my recovery and also in saving our marriage.

There are good days when everything feels like there is hope for us to move forward and then there are days when its like i take 5 steps backwards. We have two young children and the thought of this other woman havinf his child kills me.

God has been our only source of hope. Although im still angry and hurt inside...Gods love and mercy upon my life have been the promises in which i cling to everyday. It saddens me how weak my husband was and how intense his affair was, but Im standing on Gods word and His promises that even He can turn around any bad situation. What the devil planned for evil, God can turn it into good.

We are seeking counseling and ive reached out to so many other women who either have been in my shoes or who are currently in my shoes. Its not easy but it does help keep my mind focused on what I am capable of doing.

One day at a time and positive thinking. Gods word has been my counter attack to all the negative thoughts and images that haunt me daily.

1. Keep God center of your life.
2. Keep God center of your marriage.
3. Keep praying through everything.

My biggest mistake was neglecting my relationship with God. No matter the outcome of my marriage, as long as I have God in my life, I can do ALL things.

Affair

Thank you for being transparent, All your articles have been helpful but this one really hit home.

Thanks Again,
Susan

Wish I’d Known

Even more proud of my wife after reading this great message. Top for me was Wish I’d known what love is. The grace she’s shown me the last few months and especially the last two days when I didn’t at all deserve it is hard to put into words. She understands I could never fully repay her and continues to love me.

After finding my spouse was

After finding my spouse was unfaithful. I did know what to do

This post shows me keep loving him.

i wish i'd have known

as the betrayer, first let me say i make no excuses. Also- i place absolutely no blame on anyone but myself. I am responsible for my feelings, what i thought and what lead me to what i did. Having said that- let me try to add..
What do i wish i'd have known?..... I wish i'd have know that i could find safety in my wife and marriage. As a boy i suffered a great trauma- as a result, i learned very early that i must be careful of everything - everyone and take care of myself. I ran to my cave and never looked back. If you have not ever heard of T D Jakes- you should, he explained it very well. Men run to their caves in times of trouble and they take their "toys" with them. This is what i did. As a result we look for what we need in the wrong places- we are not willing to risk loosing who we love- so we look elsewhere. This only makes things worse. It is selfish, but it is all we know, it is self preservation and self destruction at the same time. My wife and i have been on this road of recovery for a long while- although it is not an easy road, especially for my wife- it is worth every step.

So insightful!

Thank you for your well thought-out post. As a betrayed spouse just hearing your insightful words brings me peace and the hope that any and all unfaithful can one day understand the impact of their affair and infidelities as well as you have. I especially liked the part about understanding what love is...and also the broken window story about justice, mercy and grace. Grace is truly an incredible thing and the grace Jesus showed on the cross is the basis for our Christian faith. We did not deserve Him suffering on the cross yet he freely gave himself. Oh to be more like him. I am staying because I believe God can create new things from ashes yet I still struggle between volumes of emotions ;thoughts of justice and grace. The roller coaster I am on every day is so draining yet each day I wake up and choose grace only because it was offered to me through Christ. Thank you Rick for recognizing and validating all of the betrayed spouses feelings so well. We will continue to walk through this fire as God leads our direction and with the help of you and your program.

Excellent insight. Thank you.

Excellent insight. Thank you.

True Love

Thank you Rick for your insight. My wife defines true love while I so blindly and foolishly turned to someone else just to boost my ego. Like many others that commented, your insight on love is spot on and I would like to encourage others to also read your “The True Definition of Love and Its Role In Surviving An Affair” article.
My wife and I would not be where we are in our healing journey without you and your team. May God bless all of you immensely for how you help so many hurting couples.

I gave him ice cream

He read this and that was what he said. He knows. This article is the best one I have read so far for us. His love HAS transformed. Completely. I will forever hate what happened, as will he. But I have to be honest. Without having gone through this terrible time, I wouldn’t have the benefit of the transformed love he has. It is explained so perfectly in #6. I always thought he just was emotionally limited but loved me in his own way. I now have from him the complete and vulnerable love that I gave for 20 years. The kind of love that puts you in a position that you can be completely broken by its betrayal. I wish I never had to be so broken but the only thing that makes it worth it is that we are better than we were before. It’s completely ironic that I, the innocent one, had to suffer pain the that he caused and be completely broken for him to break through the barrier that was keeping him self centered and feeding off receiving. I can feel the joy he has now in giving. Seeing how he finds joy in giving me real love has helped me in my healing process but even better it has helped me find my love for him again.

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