Two Years Later

Two years since d-day. I can’t believe it! When my husband’s affairs were discovered I didn’t think I would survive that first day. The minutes were agonizing. Time slowed to a crawl. I was reduced to pure, raw emotion. There was no existence without pain. I wished I would die. I knew I would die. My heart was shattered and it would kill me.

Over the next few days I was in a fog. I took one day off work but that was all I could afford. When I wasn’t crying I would sit and stare. I worked by rote. Zombie. Barely functioning. My emotions were all over the place. I was furious, full of hatred, incredulous, scared and so much more. I walked around numb, in shock, hardly thinking beyond doing what was absolutely necessary. I couldn’t imagine how I would get through the week. Decisions had to be made but all I wanted to do was crawl into myself and never come out.

After eleven excruciating days my husband came home and together we committed to working on our marriage, ourselves, our relationship. I had already discovered the AR website and started reading the articles. That’s where I learned that there’s a timeline for recovery.  I didn’t really pay attention to anything on the timeline except that it’s a minimum of eighteen months, which seemed like an eternity on D-day.

I could hardly get through the next hour. How was I going to survive eighteen months?

Rick has a short article outlining the "Timeline for Recovery" and I decided to see, now that I’m at the two year mark, how my own marriage recovery matches the timeline.

 

 

Step I. The discovery stage: zero to six weeks.

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, about WHAT happened should completely be exposed to the light of day by the end of this step. It is not possible to move forward without complete disclosure.

May 31, 2014 was my D-day. Fortunately, my discovery was over within three weeks. My husband told me the entire, sordid, story, answered every question I could come up with, and gave me more honesty than he has our entire marriage. I didn’t have trickle truth like so many betrayed spouses. Sure, little details have come out over time but I knew the major details practically from the start.

Good start to the recovery timeline.

Step II. The reaction stage: six months.

The hurt spouse needs to feel their mate cares and the unfaithful spouse must do whatever it takes to assure that it’s safe for the relationship to continue.

This stage should take us to November 30, 2016. Because we didn’t start EMS Online until the first part of November this step wasn’t complete within the six month time frame. We knew about EMS Online for months but because of financial difficulties, in part caused by the second affair, we didn’t feel that we had the money for the course. But I was not in a good place emotionally. The triggers were constant. I was still crying almost daily. I finally told my husband we would either put the course on a credit card and deal with payments or I would have to leave. We shouldn’t have waited so long. EMS Online taught us both so much. I finally realized that my husband had true remorse, regret, shame and guilt over his actions. He was forced to look deep into his character to find the flaw that allowed him to cheat. He acknowledged, probably for the first time in his life, that he is able to justify his actions in order to get what he wants. By the end of EMS Online there was hope that our marriage not only would be saved but be better, more intimate, and more honest.

We were behind on the recovery timeline by a couple of months but still on track.

Step III. The release stage: Month 9 to 12.

This is where the betrayed spouse is able to forgive what seems unforgivable. Both spouses understand the “why” better. The unfaithful spouse pursues healing that assures the hurt spouse they are truly committed to the marriage.

This step for us was February 28, to May 31, 2015. My husband assumed that I had forgiven him already because I let him come home and start recovery. But it took most of our EMS Online class for me to finally let go of enough of the pain and anger to truly forgive. I struggled with the why, especially “why her” which I wrote about in a previous blog article. I was stuck for a long time on the “who” of his second affair. This delayed Step III for me. Because I couldn’t wrap my mind around the “who” I couldn’t believe that he wouldn’t betray me again. It took me a long time to understand that the “who” didn’t matter, it’s the “why” that does.

This step probably took us until this spring. Now we’re way behind.

Step IV. Recommitment and moving on: 12 to 18 months.

This is where the couple decides to move on with their lives together. The affair will not define them but actually can provide the opportunity for growth in the marriage.

Step IV would have taken us from May 31, to November 30, 2015. Honestly, I don’t know how we’re doing with this step. When we started EMS Online I promised myself, and my husband, that I would work on recovery for two years from D-day. Then I would decide if I would stay or go. So in a way I “recommitted” early but probably not the way this step meant. That doesn’t mean that we haven’t grown in our marriage. My husband has been fully committed from the start. In some ways he’s been more committed than I have to this process. I can honestly say that our marriage is more honest than it has been in our 26 plus years together. We have an intimacy that feels real, not forced. My husband has made changes that I never dreamed he was capable of doing.

We are still in the final stage. When D-day changed my life I couldn’t imagine getting to the two year mark. Now that it’s arrived, I’m amazed that it’s really been that long. I rarely cry. We laugh more together. Joy is coming back.

It’s not all roses. Just the other day I had a minor panic attack because my husband wasn’t home when he said he would be. I still have triggers but luckily not as often and, more importantly, I get past them quicker and easier. There are days when I’m just sick and tired of recovery and wish for peace.

For the past two years I’ve told myself that I would get to May 31, 2016, and then make a decision on staying in my marriage. Now that the time has come I find that somewhere along the way I already made the decision to stay.

We’ve worked hard in recovery. We will continue.

As you can see my recovery didn’t perfectly match Rick’s timeline. Neither will yours. Every marriage, every person brings a unique set of circumstances to recovery. If both spouses aren’t completely committed, true recovery may fail. If the unfaithful spouse doesn’t give full disclosure within the first few weeks, give up the AP, and pursue whatever it takes to change, recovery may fail. If the betrayed spouse holds on to anger and refuses to forgive, recovery may fail.

Rick is adamant, if you’re way off the timeline or stuck on a step, get help. Recovery is a long process but you should be moving forward. I’m amazed at where I’m at. I can’t wait to see what the next two years will bring.

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Our 2 year mark is in 4 days JUNE 15

So interesting to read your blog since we are so close in the timing. My heart aches as I realize today is June 11. Our 29th wedding anniversary will be June 13, my birthday is June 16th... but it is June 15th that strikes a painful chord in my heart. Our reveal was on a celebration weekend get away for the 2 events, but for some reason he "released the bomb" right between them. There was no tension, we were having lots of sex and so much fun - he just got somber all of the sudden and said he needed to tell me something. I can relive every moment - and it is still so hard to believe what came out of his mouth. I absolutely had NO CLUE. I had such trust in his faithfulness to me that I even gave him a plane ticket for his birthday to a place he said he would love to go by himself to. I didn't have a single thought that he could be meeting someone there. Our 24 yr old son challenged me saying it bothered him, but I justified it and assured him it didn't hurt my feelings. TRICKLE truth is a gross understatement ! The STORIES changed, morphed, developed slowly to the extent that I am still finding out about so called "friendships" and his dating life. He is not fully convicted that "his double life" was all bad. He wants me to focus on what "he didn't do - or what he could have done" so that I will feel better about what all went on (that part is totally whack, and I am not having it). I am purposing to forgive... but the greatest damage has been the years of deception and LAYERS of deception. He has worked hard on recovery, but there is a revelation he has not reached, or perhaps "a root" that we have not gotten to yet. I am committed to forgiveness and rebuilding our marriage. I believe that we can be stronger than before, and that this tragedy can become a testimony that will help others... but our timeline is slowwwww. I have gone stronger in my faith, in my confidence that relationships are worth fighting for (especially marriage). I am also confident that I am not defined by this betrayal all of his poor choices were his, not mine. I know "faithfulness" is possible - because I HAVE BEEN faithful. I also believe that significant tragedy brings a lot of things in to a much more realistic light. Good marriages don't just happen - they are created by two people willing to make the marriage a priority. Transparency is a priceless treasure seldom spoken of until the damage of secrets are revealed!! Healing and redemption is possible... but the process and the timeline can take much longer than you think it should. To HEALING!

Robyn, I agree, good

Robyn, I agree, good marriages just don't happen. It takes work. It takes commitment. It takes sacrifice. It takes both people making marriage a priority and putting the other first. I'm sorry you've had trickle truth. I was "lucky" that my husband told me the whole sordid story right from the beginning. Nothing changed. Nothing morphed. A few minor details came out later but overall I knew it all the first couple of weeks. If your husband is still trickling out "truth" after two years then in my opinion he's not committed to your healing. He's not making sure he's "safe" in the marriage. He appears to be trying to minimize his actions. He is not taking full responsibility. I can't imagine having that kind of recovery. You have a lot more patience than I do! Good luck. Thanks for sharing.

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