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

Understanding Infidelity: Helping the Unfaithful Start Recovery

As a young man of 5, I made a choice that proved to be quite painful. It happened while visiting my Grandmom in Snyder, Texas. It all began when I noticed a wasp nest hanging from Grandmom’s plumb tree. As best as I can recall I’d never seen a wasp’s nest before. Being naturally curious, I had hoped to dislodge it and examine the contents. Being vertically challenged, however, made the task at hand somewhat difficult. I finally happened upon what seemed like a promising solution when I found a hammer in one of the kitchen drawers. In hindsight, I now realize that after my first few misses it would have been wise to abandon my quest, but never one to be discouraged I continued hurling the hammer in hopes of fulfilling my dream.

Eventually, as luck would have it, (or maybe as bad luck would have it) I succeeded in hitting the nest and knocking it down. You can imagine what happened next. A wave of angry wasps came straight at me. I ran as fast as my short little legs could carry me, but it wasn’t nearly fast enough. I must have had twenty stings before I managed to get back into the house.

Last week’s newsletter reminded me a little of that experience. Obviously, I wrote something that stirred up a hornet’s nest. I grieve over the pain I caused many of you who are dealing with betrayal and hope you can move beyond the pain created by the article. As one of our mentor’s told me after she read the article, “If I had read that early on in my recovery I would have been really pissed and know I wouldn’t have reacted well.”

That article received more comments than any before and for that reason I thought it might be good to clarify. I promise, I’m not trying to knock the nest down. I only want to help with the hurt and confusion that comes from recovering from an affair.

In the article I was not saying that self-deception ever justifies an affair. Becoming so self-centered that you fail to consider both your mate and the devastation of your choices reveals a total absence of love. It’s frightening when someone becomes so self-centered that they deceive themselves into thinking they are somehow justified in their self-exaltation while despising others. The person in that state of mind is dangerous and as long as they possess that mindset they are incapable of meaningful relationships or recovering from an affair. Self-centeredness is void of love and can only act in self-interest not in the interest of another. It lacks courage because it can’t think of anything but self-protection.

There is a huge difference between loving someone and being committed to stay. Love always acts in the best interest of another and choosing to stay but not to invest in your mate by dealing with betrayal is far from love. Love compels us to consider the best interest of others, not just what we want.

I do believe people can see the error of their ways and change or I wouldn’t be in this business. But until they can see their problem (not their mate’s problem) and have a desire to change nothing will happen. Continuing to justify the affair by blaming one’s mate brings no progress and offers little hope.

In the comments someone asked “How do we keep it from happening again?” It begins by taking personal responsibility for what you’ve done. If you feel your mate is to blame for what you did then you’ll never change. To change, you have to be willing to do the work. Half measures will avail you nothing in the process of dealing with betrayal. You have to actually believe change can happen. That’s why community becomes so important. Most of us don’t really believe we can change, we only wish we could change. Until we find others who are like us and who have what we want, it will be difficult to believe it could actually happen. That’s why having a community of individuals to work with becomes imperative when recovering from an affair. Personally, I never believed I could change until I met someone who had. I never believed I could be happy until I met someone in similar circumstances who loved their new life. Knowing it was doable made it possible. Finally, you have to take the steps necessary to replace old destructive patterns and with new patterns of health.

Again, I’m sorry for the pain I caused. I pray for your healing. Please let us know if there’s any way we can help you in recovering from an affair. If you’re ready to begin moving forward please go and check out our online courses. There is hope and change really is possible .



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thank you

I am not sorry you wrote what you did last week. It really helped me open my eyes to the person I was at the time of my affair. I now realize it wasn't all my husbands faults that drove me to my crazy decisions, it was all me I made that choice. I kept finding every little fault of his to justify what I was doing and that was so wrong of me. My affair wasn't long ago, we are just now trying to put the past in the past. I have learned alot from your articles even know at times I didn't want to hear what you had to say.  So although you may have stirred up a hornets nest, you helped me out alot, along with my husband. So I thank you for that.

Trying to understand

Last weeks newsletter was controversial for sure and I had a little trouble with that one myself.  These are always good articles however, and I forward them to my unfaithful husband each week.  I cry so much.  D day for me was almost 8 months ago, and there are some days I feel as devastated as in the very beginning.  We have been married for 36 years and I never saw this coming.  My husband is a private investigator and travels quite a bit.  He is retired from the military and from the sheriff's office in my home town.  So in 2004 he helped a female investigator get going in the business and they traveled together quite often.  He developed an emotional attachment to this woman - - a woman whom I knew and thought was a friend of our family.  He also started looking at porn.  In the fall of 2005 his conscience got the best of him and he came to me and confessed.  I was very hurt of course.... but we dealt with it ourselves and didn't get counseling.  Then I had several years of bad luck with my health.  Sickness, surgeries, lots of pain with head and neck issues and bad disc's... Lots of cortisone shots - with one in particular that has permanetly damaged nerves in the occipitals in the back of my head.  To this day I cannot even lay down on a pillow without pain and I deal with headaches 24/7 literally.  I thought my husband loved me enough to help me through all of that.  On the outside he did, but just this last March I found out about an affair he had in 2009, and another affair just this past January, and when I found out he was trying to solicit sex with some woman he knew back in high school - - - 50 years ago.  This womans husband sent me their facebook messages.  That is how I found out.  And the affair he had this year in January was because HE went on Craigs List to solicit sex - and of course some slut answered his dispicable ad.  It is true we didn't have much of a sex life - - I was too sick and in pain most of the time.  We talked about that fact...and I even ask him how he was doing with not having sex.... he said he was okay with it and didn't want to ask me for sex becasue he didn't want to hurt me any more than I was.....I told him he would not hurt me.  And he had erectyle function difficultities and I truly thought he was not interested, so I did not press the issue so I would not embarrass him.  I DID think of him.....and he DID NOT think of me.  He became that self-centered man and justified sex outside our marriage because I was sick and he wasn't getting it at home it would be okay for him to get it elsewhere.  He didn't think of me or the consequences...he didn't think he would get caught and I would never find out.  He was one of those people who could go to church and cry during the worship songs and raise his hands in worship.  It was all a lie.  And I've had to scratch and fight for every scrap of information I've gotten.  Talk about dissapointed.  My life is forever changed because he was so selfish.  We are in counseling and trying to reconcile.  I am the one having trouble getting my mind wrapped around what he did and how he chose to walk out of our marriage.  It overwhelmes me at times and I cry for 2-3 days in a row.  I don't know what to think about a man who would do this.  I've been angry, grief stricken, sick at heart, and all of the other things.  He says he has always loved me and says he wants only me....  then WHY did he do it??? And KEEP doing it??  I don't understand, and I hurt so much.  These newsletters do help though.  I am sadly not alone in the emotional turmoil of infidelity.  It is unbearable.  We have 3 grown kids.  Our 2 boys are married with their own families....and they know - - because of circumstances of life we had to tell them.  Our daughter is unmarried and also lives in the same city as us and one of our boys.  She does not know and she cannot ever know....she would not handle it well at all.  Somehow by the grace of God, she knows we are in counseling, but does not know the reason - - she thinks it's just because we were not getting along and are trying to fix things up that way.  What a nightmare.

Dear Rick,Your message was

Dear Rick, Your message was justified, despite stirring up a wide range of emotions (if I am any barometer to this) and what I suspect were strong responses. I have repeatedly told my wife since discovering her series of inappropriate behavior and shortly thereafter, her affair- that I can deal with the truth- even if it is heart-wrenching and angers me for a period afterwards upon learning of any particular details. What I found COMPLETELY unacceptable was to have the truth hidden- to be 'shielded' from the truth- like I had been for so long. I can deal with the truth- as difficult as it might be to hear- it is better than being kept ignorant from the reality- unknown details lead to far too many suppositions on what went on regarding the details of the affair- whether they be accurate or not. In my case, the real challenge has been to deal with the difficulty of the timing of her affair. She met with her AP 2 weeks after the death of my mother- a true force of nature for her siblings, an incredible mother for her children, and a grandmother taken far too soon... The effects of the timing of my wife's affair will linger so much longer than will the impact of what she did. How can someone really be so crass and unfeeling? It is hard to imagine and to ever be able to understand how one could get over this: when I was experiencing the most horrible emotional turmoil; in my life, my 'beloved's' thoughts were with someone else- and likely for months afterwards. So Mr Renyolds, when I read about your suggestions regarding forgiveness- while I can understand the need to go there, let's just say that I have great difficulty getting to this point. I hope that I will, but it still seems like a bit of a stretch at this point. And I do have hope- why? Because I see the efforts that my wife is making- to try to understand what led her down the road she chose to follow, despite what I thought was a fulfilling marriage. I see the extreme remorse, the guilt and shame that she feels I believe is real, and it is difficult to see her struggle- despite what she did to us. I have put my faith in our psychologist to help guide us through this nightmare, but groups like this do help as well. They help me understand that I am not alone in my struggle to deal with her affair, and also help me realize that things could be so much worse. Thank you for your dedication to helping others.

Confused about "the work"

Hi there. I really need some help understanding what "work" I need to see my unfaithful husband do? He had an 18 month emotionally bonded affair with another married woman. He considered leaving me and our 3 teenage boys. He actually moved out and tried to leave. He found that he was miserable and asked me to work on our marriage. He has done some counseling both individually and together. He suffers from extreme anxiety and truly hates talk therapy. In all he's probably had about 30 sessions. He is also talking to our Pastor. I have read extensively about adultery/mid-life crisis (which I believe my husband had). I share with him by sending articles and talking on a regular basis. My husband does not want to to more therapy. When do I let that go and rest in the process? I do believe he sees that the adultery was 100% his. I get frightened that he will never be able to do enough "work".


Dear Rick~

Your words & articles are very inspirational & have helped me a great deal.  Please don't apologize for laying it all out there.  Sometimes we all just need to hear the truth.  Thanks for sharing your truths so we can all heal & have hope that there is a life after this devastation.  I know for many people it's too soon & they too will discover that it takes a strong person to look outside of yourself.  I know that in order to heal we have to forge ahead & forgive.  I agree that this is a huge task---I still have reminders 3 years later but God willing, I love my husband.  I hope & pray this makes us more courageous & loving & more aware.  3 years of counseling too.  God bless you and your wife for giving us hope that we can go on.




baby steps in Jesus

Praying to keep walking in faith and trusting Jesus,

Pain and Honesty

One of the things deceived spouses ask for is honesty and as the deceiver this is so hard to give up front because we know the continued pain this delivers and we just want it to go away and get back to life as we know it which to heal is not possible. Rick this article may have hurt feelings but it was honest and that is what people need. I understand the tiptoe approach we want to take and not stir that nest but the pain is nothing compared to when the nest was knocked down and our spouses received the ultimate sting of D-day. To get through this it will hurt for both parties and sometimes just seems like too much but after each obstacle something brighter seems to emerge. Please continue with your honest approach as your not justifying anything just trying to bring some understanding even if it is painful.

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-D, Texas