WE have relapsed?

Not too long ago, I was talking with a therapist who explained to me what it means for a couple to relapse. I was immediately thrown for a bit of a loop when I heard him say that even the betrayed spouse can relapse. It basically boils down to not doing what both spouses did early on in their recovery. If you're a betrayed spouse reading this, I can hear your blood boiling, but please let me finish before you get too angry with me.

Now, does it mean the betrayed spouse has an affair of their own? NO, absolutely not. Nor does it mean that the unfaithful spouse has another affair. It also is not meant to suggest that the affair was the betrayed spouse's fault in the first place.

What it does apply to though is allowing old behaviors and old mannerisms and old ways of engaging our spouse and our life to resurface. It's when we get away from what we did early on in our recovery which initially made restoration so joyful and exciting and sweet. It's going back to behaviors, reactions, and dysfunctions which helped make the affair and private life possible in the first place. Not only by the unfaithful spouse, but by the betrayed spouse as well. After all, we both have decided to save the marriage and pursue transformation. I did what I did and I'm responsible for that ridiculously self-absorbed behavior; but moving forward, we are in this together.

For example, just recently Samantha and I had a terrible couple of weeks. She then had a difficult discussion with me where she said she felt like the old Samuel was back. I was hurt deeply by her comments as I felt like I had made so much progress in my recovery. But, alas, after leaving my anger on the treadmill, I took some time to think it through and really pray and make sure I didn't overreact. As I took this time, I also noticed that she had slipped back into some of the same behaviors which were active before the affair happened years ago. We just couldn't gain any traction, even after I had apologized several times.

It prompted me to play the archaeologist and dig down to extract what was going on in me emotionally and mentally. Finally, it began to resonate with me: we both relapsed and we both were going backwards rather than forwards. We were both on a crash course to find ourselves back where all this trauma occurred in the first place.

This is the part that really sucks. As the head and leader of our home, it was up to me to get us going in the right direction. I was dreading the need to share with Samantha my impression that we had BOTH relapsed. Nevertheless, I believed it to be true and asked for the strength of Samson to have the discussion. I was not going to slip back into the old behavior of not being able to express myself or share my concerns, which helped lead to such a private, double life for me in the first place.

As a testament to the grace and health of Samantha, she absolutely agreed that we BOTH had relapsed and that we BOTH needed to get back to the early basics of recovery and restoration. It was a wonderful picture of moving forward as a couple, not two disjointed individuals living in separate worlds.

This may be controversial for some, but I would suggest you heartfully look at your recovery right now. Perhaps one spouse has indeed relapsed or maybe both of you are going backwards rather than forwards and it’s time to admit that you both are exhibiting old behaviors. Maybe it’s not about who started the relapse behavior, but about deciding neither of you want to go back to that life ever again.

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Relapse/regression

Good topic. 

My situation is somewhat similar.  My H initially acknowledged, was apologetic, realized how badly he hurt me, wanted to go to counseling to work on the marriage.  That didn't last b/c he wouldn't address the EA.  He wanted to focus only on his issues  dating back to his childhood and on being able to move into a healthy marriage without addressing the EA. 

He started saying, "I didn't do anything wrong. It was a mistake, but I didn't do anything wrong. It is over, she is out of the picture, long gone."  He seems to have taken a big step backwards in accepting responsibilty.  I've read a lot that being truly remorseful is necessary in order to repair the damage.  In response to his current denial of wrongdoing, I respond by pulling even further away from him.

Any feedback on this?

you are very correct, where

you are very correct, where there is not remorse and/or empathy for what they have done, it's very hard to start to win back trust or ultimately reconcile and create a long term recovery process. in that case you still should and can forgive, and need to forgive as a gift to yourself to set and keep you free. however, reconciliation is only possible when the other person is 'safe.' if they are not taking responsibility for their choices and failure and being willing to show empathy and brokenness for what they have done, it makes it very hard to reconcile ultimately. there are a few good articles on the site in the free resources page that you may try reading as well as showing to him, or if you're a member of the recovery library, you may try looking at some of them as well. id start to help him see that you can only pursue reconciliation with him long term if you feel safe, and right now, you are not feeling safe at all. does that make sense? i sure hope that helps you somehow.

He WAS wrong!

Your husband WAS wrong, and if he won't admit it, you have a long road ahead. Maybe you did something that did not satisfy his selfish needs, but that is still not an excuse for HIS actions, and if it were, it is still an excuse and still wrong. I encourage you to do everything you can to show him you can still love him despite his mistake, but until he admits he was wrong, he is not going to be motivated to change his behavior and you and your marriage are in danger. My wife did this for a while, but I would not allow her to see it as anything but wrong no matter what excuse she gave me. We are better now only because she finally understood it to be wrong. As Rick would say, until he is truly sorry, and not just sorry for being caught, he is not on the path to maturity.

it's like you read my mind...

I swear, everytime I start to get low or feel like I'm pedaling backwards, an email from this site pops up and fits my situation like it was made for me! I am in such a low place lately....recovering from my husband's affairs and betrayals, I'm 5 months in but some days, it's like it started today. I do see us both revert to old habits. I am an abuse, rape and incest survivor and have always had intimacy issues with my husband who I married and started a family with young (both of us). He brought his baggage and I mine and together we packed a trunkload of sexual issues. After 13 years of bumpy marriage, I thought we were in the best place we'd ever been. I'd been in steady therapy for just over two years, making what I felt was really strong and positive progress, our children were at an age that they were less dependant on me to be with them 24/7 and I had just completed schooling and certification and was begining my career. Within three weeks of our wedding anniversary, he started agressively trying to find someone online to cheat with though, he'd been making attempts for nearly a year prior to that. He created fake email profiles and never lied about the fact that he was married, unhappy and looking for sex. He only lied to me about how unhappy he was. He only came clean when I caught him. He tried to lie, desperately and continued to lie as more and more details leaked out, even when I went to get tested for STD's, he lied about how many women he'd been with and that he hadn't used a condom with one for oral sex. He told his own doctor the truth but didn't give me all the information when it could have meant my life! For several months, he held so much resentment against me for his mistakes and his flaws of character, he blamed me for so many things I had no control over, I am still finding it SO hard to find forgiveness. A day doesn't go by that I don't think about what he did, worry he'll find some way to convince himself, again. that his mistakes are alright or make more mistakes that he'll only lie about. I know that by catching him, one of the consequences is that I may have made him smarter  about hiding anything he might do now or in the future. I can't bear never trusting him again, it took me so long to really grow trust in the first place, given my past history. Often, he bottles his feelings, won't tell me what is going on or what he's thinking and it always takes him so long to recognize I'm struggling. Typically I have to spell it all out to him and hope my anger, saddness and pain doesn't take over and cause us both more damage. When everything first fell apart with my husband, I left therapy, I couldn't bear facing the pain. I'm working on finding a new therapist (my appointment is next month, such a long wait for help in that field) and my husband and I were in with a marriage counselor for nearly three months though, the experience was not a good fit for me. I really need help getting by and trying to not sink the liferaft we're both working to keep us afloat. Does forgiveness help the regression to old habits or make it easier to rebound? How can I recognize forgiveness when I'm so overwhelmed with fear and pain?

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