Richard Name: RichardLocation: TexasOccupation: SalesSpouse Testimonial: Read Grace's Story HereChildren: 3Discovery Date: Winter, 2010Story: I didn’t stumble upon an affair, I went looking for one. To explain how I got to this place,allow me to provide some background information. After all, I didn’t get into this affair overnight. As a boy I was exposed to being around men that worked for my father who were a bad influence when it came to purity and sexuality. Coming from a Latin background men often make remarks and jokes of women and it became very apparent through their comments and jokes that the goal, obsession even, was to get women into bed. This distorted the meaning of what a man is and impacted my identity as a man. My father worked very long hours and I believe that this is one of the reasons that I drew my identity as a man from my career. As a teenager I was exposed to pornography and the Internet. My problems with porn continued through my adolescent years and into marriage. I chose not to share with my wife my struggles in this area believing this issue would magically vanish, but they didn't, and Grace discovered this dark secret. I remember a sense of knowing there was something wrong within me that I couldn't fix. I had an addiction that I needed to be restored from however there was very little help available those days that dealt with this issue. So little by little I went down a path again but this time it was even more destructive behavior. It led me to having an affair. The downward spiral began one very early morning as I heard my wife say the word "Honestly…" which is how conflicts would typically begin. At that moment I stopped her and said, “I know, I know. I am not a good husband and I am not a good father.” I was fed up. I was taught by my parents to avoid conflict and not to fight, so anytime Grace had an issue with something I would just suck it up. For 10 years this behavior drove me to become extremely resentful. I often felt rejected by my wife’s comments and would usually just admit fault so we wouldn’t keep fighting. After all, the goal in life (or so I thought) was to be “happy” and make my wife “happy”. This I discovered later was co-dependency. I wanted my wife to be happy so that I could be happy. As you can imagine the effect of feeling fed up left me with anything but happy feelings. I had also perfected the art of managing expectations; all the while not understanding that setting up expectations only set me and my family up for failure or ingratitude. Ten years of marriage went by and I was so hurt by constantly feeling like I was not living up to my wife's expectations. So it was at that point I decided I didn’t want to be part of this marriage anymore. It hurt too much to admit I was an absent father and husband and I felt like a failure. I didn’t know how to be either nor did I realize what my wife really was trying to communicate with her words. I was in denial and didn't want to admit my faults. It was always everyone else's fault, not mine. My problems with my wife were her problems not mine...or so I thought. She was the one who put me through this; she is the one who’s pushing me, rejecting me. I felt like no one could understand me or my situation so I isolated and kept an image, a pretend normal image, but deep inside I was hurting and didn’t have real friends that could understand me or stand by me in my decision to leave my wife and family. After a while I did find other folks who had been or were going through a divorce, it seemed like this was the answer to true happiness...although I realized later that many of the ones that had gone through a divorce deeply regretted their decision. It was at this point I emotionally withdrew from the relationship. I secretly started to look outside my marriage for another person who could satisfy me. I traveled for work and often used this as a vehicle to escape from home. Since I now was on the hunt, I traveled to Asia for work and there met a girl at a karaoke bar, but that relationship didn’t lead to anything. Upon coming back I had another trip to Puerto Rico for work, my family came along for the ride, and there I met the person who later would become my AP. I told my wife in that trip that I didn't want to be with her anymore. I kept in touch with this person and in October we started corresponding at a deeper level sharing personal issues. I know this wasn't right specially because she was married as well and had a family of her own, but I did it anyway with the justification that I was done with my marriage anyway. I was fed up with all the nagging and feelings of inadequacy that my spouse made me feel. During the next several months I was an ass. I really decided that I was leaving but I couldn't bring myself to ask my wife for a divorce. Grace ended up in the hospital with depression and had lost over 25 pounds and I was so hurt that I acted very distant and was very insensitive towards her. I later learned that hurt people, hurt people. At that point in time I had scheduled another trip to Puerto Rico and in that trip became even more involved with my AP to the point that we became intimate. I was emotionally very involved with this person, which in turn caused me to become even more detached from what was happening to my wife. It started by having this person working as a representative of the products I sold, then the relationship grew into an inappropriate relationship that became a full blown affair. I hid this from my wife. I lied and made up every type of excuse. I even used friends to enable me to visit my affair partner. One big detail that I must mention is that I didn’t realize that my wife was going through depression and had been depressed for a while. I do believe my absence from home contributed to her depression. The depression aggravated our relationship big time. Understanding depression and getting professional help has been a key for us also in our recovery. Back to the story, the lies and justification grew and grew as the relationship continued to progress. At some point in time I lost the ability to distinguish between truth and lies. I felt confused about my emotions. I would justify my behavior although I knew deep inside it was wrong. I wanted to keep this relationship with the AP a secret because after all it was everyone else's fault but mine, and my image was more important than the truth of what I was doing. But D Day came... December 31st 2010. That has been the most miserable New Years I’ve had up to this day. In spite of being faced with this reality, I just couldn't find hope for my marriage because I figured it was already too late; I couldn't fix it. I told my wife and everybody there that I hadn't been intimate with the AP, that it was just an emotional relationship. I still kept trying to hide and, lie by lie, kept digging myself into a deeper hole and kept denying my faults and justifying my behavior. Although we were going through counseling we were not progressing. At some point I asked the counselor not to disclose to my wife that my relationship with my AP had also been physical. I remember a few Sunday’s after, we went to church and Grace had an anxiety attack and couldn't even breathe. I opened up to the pastor and Grace's family came to be with her. I just wasn't being a husband anymore at this point. I was distant and justifying my actions; pointing my finger at my wife. After all, my issues with my wife couldn't possibly be my issues...Struggle: However December 31st 2010, D Day, came. Grace had discovered some emails and had realized that I had been emailing with two different women. I blew it off, telling her that I wanted out of the marriage and I didn’t know if our relationship could repair and that the affair had been emotional, not physical. The truth came out that January when Grace found a receipt from the hotel I stayed at and called and found the truth: the AP had been there. Grace was furious and she became enraged and said, “I will give him the divorce because that's what he wants!” That night the pastor gathered my children and told them that we were getting separated, and that was the AHA moment for me. When I heard my oldest son say, “I don't want another daddy I want you.” I thought to myself, what the hell am I doing to my family? I ended up in the hospital that night. I was an emotional wreck and also had had a well-deserved beating from my wife. I had reached rock bottom at this point. The fact that I had to leave home because my wife didn't feel safe and didn't want me anymore triggered a whole slew of emotions. I felt so very hopeless because I didn't know how to fix my life. It was at that moment that I started to look for a way out of the mess I had created. To think I was willing to destroy my own family to get the happiness I wanted, or the illusion of happiness.Course of Action: So I started to go to church more, knowing that I needed miracle to get out of this. I learned that God didn't want me to fix anything; all He wanted me to do was to trust Him. I learned that the first step in my recovery was Surrender, and realizing that I am not God and that my life had become unmanageable. This may seem pretty obvious that I am not God, but to me I acted and made the decisions I made because I thought I know what I want and what’s best for me. I was committed to keeping the covenant that I had made when I got married, so if my wife chose to divorce me that would be her decision. As far as I was concerned I would keep doing what I had vowed to do. In my search for answers to the mess I had created, I learned that I couldn’t fix me; I needed a higher power to restore me back to sanity. I learned about EMS Weekend through a pastor of my church and then through counseling at Cross Roads. I invited Grace but she didn’t accept my invitation at first. At EMS I found a safe environment where I could share and if it weren’t for Rick we probably wouldn’t be here today. I remember Grace and I got into a huge argument on Saturday night she didn’t want to come to EMS on Sunday but it was Rick that encouraged her to come back and got us back on track. It was after EMS that Grace and I started talking again and a few weeks after we decided to work on our marriage.Lessons Learned: No matter how hard you try the truth always comes out, so I decided to stop hiding. There’s a passage that you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. I would rather to live a life of freedom than in darkness. The enemy is not my spouse. As Rick always says, my spouse is nto my problem. My spouse only reveals the problem in me. It took time to learn that life is about progression, not perfection. I had to re-learn what it means to be a man and where my identity lies. One big lesson we learned along the way is that divorce is a trap. Talk to those who have been through divorce and you’ll see, 9 times out of 10, they didn’t get what they were looking for. Some really helpful concepts we learned about that really helped our recovery include expectations, co-dependency, and accountability.Encouragement: My wife and I renewed our vows on May 11, 2011 and have enjoyed a sweetness in our marriage we had never even thought possible. We discovered we hardly knew each other since we were so busy managing one another. With renewed honesty and intimacy our marriage is better than ever. You can recover from an affair and restore what was broken. More than restore, improve! Don’t give up. Find people to fight for you and celebrate the small victories.