Make It About Two Things

Early on in recovery it was ugly. Everything seemed like it was my fault. No matter what happened it would eventually be tied to the fact that I had an affair. It was a painful way to live. Looking back even my wife Samantha would tell you that most things ended up being my fault. It wasn’t accurate but Samantha was in so much pain, and flooding so quickly, it was hard not to put it all on me.

If we were going to heal it was going to have to be that way for a short time. Let’s just be honest: I had a two year affair. The fact that I had to go through some emotional pain and hurt and even some ‘shaming’ from my Samantha, is not that big of a deal when you consider the bigger picture. If we are going to compare which sin is worse, I will win every time. When I talk to spouses who say things like “She just won’t move on….she won’t stop talking about it…..” I wonder how much selfishness and self-deception there is to take the mindset that we’ve hurt our spouse’s so much, and yet, we don’t want to give them time, space or permission to simply FEEL the weight of it all. I was once the chief offender in this mindset and I know how destructive it is.

Privately, I had two individuals I could trust to ask questions to: Rick Reynolds and a new friend I sought out who went through infidelity. Often times I’d ask them, “When do we get to talk about Samantha’s issues…..” Both of them said, “Not until you take responsibility for your own.” Rick even explained to me one day “Samuel, the affair is 100%, YOUR FAULT and responsibility. The marriage is 50% her responsibility. Let’s not get confused here on where we’re going.” It was life changing indeed.

If you’re in recovery right now, make the recovery about two things:

  1. Make it about the betrayed spouse. Ask them things like “What can I do for you right now? What would make you feel safe today? What can I do to help you find peace today, if anything at all? Would you like to ask me anything today?” And then do what they ask. Stay home from work. Listen to them yell. Let them process their feelings and ask you questions.  Do it. Mean it. Commit to it. Give them permission to be angry and bitter and hurt. Give them permission and help them feel OK with the fact that they are a mess emotionally right now. To not allow them to do that, is to not allow them to heal which means the marriage has little hope of ever being restored and you have close to zero chance at making them ever feel safe again.
  1. Make it about your own recovery right now if need be. You can never make another person heal, or make another person forgive you, or make another person move on. You must realize they will do it in their own time when they have received the right kind of help, perspective and healing. So, as an unfaithful spouse, or as a betrayed spouse whose spouse will not get help, take care of your own recovery. Get yourself the right perspective and the right infidelity specific expert care. Take ownership of your own responsibilities and make it about what you can do for your spouse first (if they let you) then your own recovery.

Believe me when I say I get it. I remember the hopelessness and heartache recovery can be at times. But don’t give up friends. Don’t quit on yourself or God’s ability.

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Comments

Thank you for this post.

Thank you for this post. Reading this, I'm more convinced we are moving out of recovery and on to rebuilding. We are getting to my responsibility. I'd like to hear more about this phase in your relationship. It's been difficult for my husband to begin voicing his complaints with me and I'm trying to learn how to hear them and not fall back on the lens of his infidelity when I get frustrated with his point of view.

God Bless You!

I have felt this but been unable to voice it.  I just wish there was a way to get my wife to understand this concept, especially Rick's comment to you.  I have been working on improving myself and our marriage since the day she left and our D-Day which was a month after she left.  She left to heal from her failed affair when her AP returned 100% to his girl friend, and felt she needed time to decide whether to stay with me or leave for good since she felt she couldn't love me and constantly want someone else or to find someone else.  She has not completely accepted the idea that her affair was 100% her fault or that our marriage should be 50/50.

Our marriage has been 80/20 for so long now, she seems to think it can stay that way and she never needs to own up to her share of our recovery.  I wish she could see that and how happy we could be if she simply concentro ated on what would make our marriage better.  I am willing to continue to put in 100% of myself, but it woud be snice if she would do the same.

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