A Letter of Encouragement for Healing After an Affair

Hello,

I wish we weren't meeting this way. I am sorry and I want to (spiritually) meet you right where you are.

I want to encourage you today. I want to tell you who I was before my affair and I want to tell you who I am now. The person I am today, the one writing you this letter, was revealed to me during the darkest time of my life, through lots of prayer, daily trials and deep healing through healthy relationships.

I am writing this at the request of one of the amazing women in my AR group, who shaped many of my prayers and thoughts and routines during our course. Those elements helped heal my heart one day at a time. I couldn't see it then, and you may be feeling the same, but you will.

Before my affair, I was a believer in God, but I did not know God nor did I understand the impact He could (and would) have in my life. I also didn't know what I didn't know. I could only focus on the flaws of others. I couldn't see my own flaws, and certainly couldn't acknowledge them if someone else brought them to my attention. I was loving, but only if my "conditions" were met. I treated people well who treated me well. I justified how I treated others based on their behavior toward me. Over time, I could justify just about anything coming from my mouth or in my decisions. If someone hurt me, I would harden my heart and hurt them back. I judged others and was prideful. I was vain, oh so vain. When I wasn't getting the attention I so needed from others, I was miserable, and I made people around me miserable. I looked for things to fill the emptiness in me and blamed others when I didn't get my selfish (and regular) needs met. Did I know any of this at the time? No. I also didn't know at the time, when I was where you might be now, that there was a bigger plan. A rescue plan. God rescued me (from my old self) and has provided great healing and love in my heart through this journey. He has enabled me to reach out to others who might be right where I was a while ago.

I won't tell you just yet the length of time "a while ago" was, because when I used to read others' testimonies, my heart would sink when I read how long their journey was from D-Day to healing. I wasn't in a place where I could even see past another day, so reading and hearing of others' "hope" stories and their how many years it took, made me sick and even more hopeless. The reality is, that life in the aftermath of an affair IS unknown day-to-day. It's chaotic and fragile and sickening and you don't know what the next day will bring. You can't even prepare, because each day brings new triggers and craziness, and new turns on the rollercoaster ride. I have been there, my friend. I feel your heart right now, I do. Keep reading.

With much regret this is now part of my story. I needed saving from myself.

I don't want to go into lengthy detail about my affair because you know that this letter will be 10 pages longer and I want to focus on what happened after my affair. From what you read above; I was bound to get caught up in a terrible choice. I was bound to justify it so I couldn't in any way be found at fault, and so I could avoid looking at myself in the mirror, at all costs.

I betrayed my husband of (then) 9 years and hurt him very badly. My choices changed everything about our family (I have two boys who were 2 and 5), and life as we knew it would be different forever. Even worse than my betrayal, I blamed my husband for my actions and was living in a fantasy (a place outside of reality) for about 4 months after D-Day. I did and said EVERYTHING on the list of things "not to do" after an affair.

That's when God found me and where He started to heal all the broken places in me and in my heart. Only God knew what this process would look like, but I had to put my trust in Him every day and trust He would sustain me during this season. It does get better, and HE CAN redeem this. Please read on.

A while after my affair, I had so much shame and guilt over what I had done (and had justified doing). I knew I had lost a part of myself, but it was a part of someone I didn't even know anymore. To this day, I don't know how, but I started watching online sermons (by Matt Chandler in Flower Mound, TX) about forgiveness. I knew I needed some hopeful messages in my misery. I felt shameful and sorry for what I had done, yet I still couldn't fully grasp the gravity of my actions. It would hurt to go there and I would retreat inside. I felt emptiness and wanted all of the mess to go away.

Life was awful for us. My husband raged and threatened; no one slept or ate well. I was barely functional at work. I can't believe I wasn't fired actually. Nothing worked. My affair affected every aspect of my/our life. I got off of Facebook and all social media, and was banned by my husband to ever set foot inside a gym or fitness facility ever again. And with a change in my husband's career, we sold our house and moved cities. I had no comforts and no counterfeit joy to dose me with the much-needed affirmation or escape I craved and had gotten so used to. I had no one, except the husband who hated me and two kids whose life he had convinced me I had ruined. In my darkest time, only God was there.

Shortly after our move, I found a church in our new city, started attending regularly, and joined a women's small group. Filled with shame, I kept my rottenness to myself. I just tried to enjoy the connection to loving women, which God knew I needed at this time. God revealed areas of brokenness in me and big wounds (gaping, oozing wounds) in those conversations and prayers. Around this time, I found the AR Hope for Healing course and that gave me a little bit of hope. I was desperately in need of hope.

Up to this point, my husband did not seek any help and things were worse than ever between us. I saw a Christian counselor (still do) who, despite my sin and shame, gave me hope and reminders of God's love. So much was revealed of the things I kept hidden in dark corners. I was so angry. Let me say it again. I was SO ANGRY. I could write another letter just on the destruction caused by my anger. It ruled everything. Every decision I made, everything in my heart, the words I used. I had so much pain from my past and so much resentment for the neglect and wounds in my marriage. I later would realize that I had to heal from those things, whether they would be acknowledged by the wounding parties or not.

So, when I started AR, it was about one-year post D-Day. I was still angry, resentful, and carried so much discontentment and brokenness. I needed hope and I needed healing. I was living in a toxic home, with no love, no forgiveness; only anger, shaming, blaming, threats and chaos. I was always on the chopping block and living under a microscope. I could do nothing right in the eyes of my betrayed husband. I had no right to express feelings and no leg to stand on when I would ask for space, or lower volume conversations or peace in our home. My husband would find me in the house at any hour of the day (I work from home) or night and yell and rage and whittle me down until he felt relief. If there was any evidence of healing and growth, he would dismantle it, discredit it and disable any platform I was using for hope. He forbade my parents from our home. He said horrible things about God and reminded me often that the punishment for my sin is death. He would say things like "Those women in church would never hug your neck if they knew what you did." It was HARD TO HEAL, though I wanted to, so badly.

The above scenario is real life for an unfaithful wife after an affair. At least real life when the betrayed spouse is a hurting, angry husband. Nothing prepared me for the reality that THIS is what I would have to overcome. But IT IS. This is what the broken pieces look like after an affair. But I can also tell you what healing looks like. And you can have a testimony one day, too.

When I started the AR course, I did the homework and participated in the calls, but I could not relate to the message in the videos about being empathetic to the betrayed spouse. Spoken from a man's perspective, and hearing Rick's empathy in his wife's pain and owning the burden he caused her was just not relatable to me. Again, nothing equipped me for what my reality was. Luckily, others in my group had similar circumstances to mine and we could talk it through. Others had better situations where they could describe their empathy and compassion for their hurting husband. Those conversations allowed for healing to begin.

I saw that I was holding on to my pride and still needing my husband to admit his wrongs and do the work to forgive me. Yes, he treated me badly and refused to get any outside help for his trauma and pain (that I caused); but I started realizing that healing was only going to come when I would surrender my husband and my marriage and let God work on my heart.

What that looked like for me...

I stopped ping-ponging in response to my husband's actions. I stopped needing to defend myself when I felt like my husband was rewriting history. God knew my heart and knew what really happened, that's what mattered. When the subject matter and blame kept repeating, I was able to keep my mouth shut and not respond nor let his words get to me. The anger faded. The pain of things in our marriage was there, but the need to hurt back or defend myself was gone. I know my husband needed to be heard. He was telling the same story over and over again. I had apologized for two years and done A LOT of changing, but I could never hear him or meet him in his pain.

Over time, I started listening without shame. I had given that shame to God because I didn't want to carry it anymore. I was healing because of that. I started putting healthy boundaries in place. We started to have better conversations, where two people could be heard.

Even after our course ended, I kept in touch daily with my AR group. We prayed for each other and still shared in a safe space. I read Susie Larson's Daily Blessings every day for a year.

I started my mornings stating what I was grateful for, before getting out of bed.

I started praying for my husband and his healing (apart from me).

I joined one, then two, ministries at my church to serve others and keep the focus off of myself. I no longer focused on the hole I dug for myself and I chose to move forward and heal with God's help. One of my ministries is set up to walk with people through their time of grief (in any crisis). I can listen and love them where they are. The old version of me was fading and the new one was forming.

I started asking God to reveal ways for me to love my husband again. After my betrayal and his behavior in response to my betrayal, we had nothing left. We were together only because neither of us wanted to sacrifice and split time with our boys. I was healing and wanted to move forward; he wasn't there. God started providing ways for me to see my husband's pain. I could see not only the pain that I caused, but pain from the past that he was carrying. God gave me compassion for him in ways I didn't think were possible. Something neither of us ever gave to each other in our marriage, was sympathy and compassion for one another. And yet, here it was, in the midst of the mess.

Every time I would see something in my husband that I wanted him to change, I would pray for God to help me accept him the way he was and to change my heart. The old version of me could never pray this, so I know that is real change only God can bring.

God sustained me in the dark season after my affair. He also revealed many areas where I needed to change. He healed parts of my heart that were broken before my marriage, and allowed me to acknowledge what I had brought into the marriage and ask for forgiveness for those things.

After 3 years, I asked my husband to move out of our home. I needed a solid boundary where healing could occur and where I could have peace to heal and have any hope left for reconciliation. It was not going to happen with us stuck in the same cycle. I was healing; he was not.

That was 5 months ago. We are 3.5 years post D-Day. God equipped me during that time to stand strong and seek ONLY Him. I have learned to lean on Him when things are difficult, and when I realize things about myself that still need work, I ask for His help. The process is still going on, but I look back now and see how far God has carried me. My husband and I have had more healing and productive conversations in the last 5 months than we have had in 5 years. We have conversations about the future. We have joyful conversations about our early years and the kids when they were babies, without reeling from the pain of my affair. I can freely pray for him and I am living peacefully in healing and wholeness and can testify to God's love for me each day. I still do not know the outcome or the future of my marriage. I am okay with that. God has healed my heart and led me to trust Him for each day that comes. I pray this same peace over you, my friend.

Please trust the process. Please ask God to sustain you while you are painfully reaping the consequences of bad choices. Please ask Him to heal you and your spouse and acknowledge that the healing process looks different for both partners. Trust Him to carry you through this darkness. I promise there is light and healing and wholeness. One day at a time.

In Hope for Healing,
Nicole

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

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Comments

I have no words

I have never heard a story so eerily similar to mine. It isn’t EXACTLY the same, I’m the one that was forced to move out 1.5 years after D-Day and we are currently in the middle of an ugly divorce, but is similar enough. I became so consumed in my self-righteousness that he caused me to stray and that he needed to fix himself too. I wasn’t doing the work on myself. While I’ve been busy for the past six months since our separation feeling sorry for myself and losing my sense of self, physical and mental, he has started seeing a woman half his age. It was agony to find that out. My kids are so angry with me. Just recently, little by slowly, I have finally started to pick myself up off the floor. It truly is one day at a time.
From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU Nicole for sharing this!! For an entire year I was on the AR site daily trying to force feed recovery to my husband. Since our separation 6 months ago I have not once opened an email, never mind watch a video or read a blog post from AR. I truly believe that my Higher Power, knowing that I NEEDED to read this tonight, leant a strong hand in having me open the email that sent me to your blog post.
By being brave enough to share your story you have helped me. Helped me want to begin the process of opening up my blinders. I think and strongly hope that they have opened just enough for me to clearly see what I have been so unwilling to come to terms with. All the pain and misery I have caused. All the collateral damage. I have been so self-righteous, so resistant to truly understand what I have done to everyone I love.

Hi, I am glad to hear this

Hi, I am glad to hear this was helpful for you to read. I have spent a lot of the last 5 years feeling shameful of my choices and not being able to see any good from this. I spent a lot of time resenting and avoiding looking in the mirror too. I made it about me. However, I eventually was able to get help and begin to forgive myself and receive God's forgiveness, and then truly ask my husband for forgiveness (not just desire that he forgive me). The truth is, I did need a lot of work on ME. It took a long time, but I did receive encouragement along the way. I hope you can keep looking to God for help where you know you cannot move forward alone. You have been on my mind since I read your comment this morning. I know that feeling of desperation and regret. And thinking it will never end, and the sickness of what others feel about you (especially the kids, in-laws) and fearing it will never be okay again. But change in your heart and healing can happen, I pray you will feel encouraged to trust in God and to keep surrendering your pride and fear.
I have a lot more to share of my story, so I hope you will keep checking when you feel God's nudge. Bless you.

Your comment is beautiful! Do

Your comment is beautiful! Do you think it is too late to save the marriage? Would you want to? I always thought to myself as a BS that if the marriage doesn't make it, it truly isn't over until one of us is either remarried or dead.

Struggling still

It’s been now 3yrs since finding out about my UW, I struggle a lot with the sexual part of it all , how does/did your husband overcome it?, I know she wishes I that I can see her like God does and I don’t I see her stained and dirtied by the AP and have yet to forgive her , maybe be you give me some new insight to this mess, she hates talking about it and tries avoid it, thank you Dennis

Dennis, my sincere apologies

Dennis, my sincere apologies for only just now responding.
I wanted to honor my husband and the pain he went through, and take care in my response to you, with respect to your individual situation.
My husband is someone who is acutely aware of his emotions and can express his feelings very well. He has always been able to translate what his pain feels like in grave detail, but even so, I have come to realize I CAN'T truly know his pain. But I was/am always aware when he is IN pain.

We have gone through different stages in our ability to communicate. At first, his feelings and pain came out in rage and anger (as it should) and I didn't have the ability to sit and hear it. My own shame and despair, was louder than his pain. THAT in itself was also very painful for him, because he had nowhere for his pain to land. I couldn't sit with him in it.
It took a long time, as you read in my post, and work for me to actually hear him, and begin to genuinely BE sorry, not just feel like a sorry person. Does that make sense? So when I would shove his pain away, it was because I hadn't dealt with my own, and had a lot of work to do (self-awareness and repentance). I regret that I wasn't able to meet my husband in his pain, but I was a very unhealthy person (rotten heart and selfish intentions, spiritually lost). I know that it takes an openly repentant unfaithful spouse, for reconciliation and healing to occur. I pray that will be/is the case for you and your wife, and sooner rather than later. However, I also know that in our situation, me as the unfaithful, could not be the person to counsel or be therapy for my husband. He did get relief early on by making it known when he was in pain, but that was not the ultimate solution for his healing. In fact, it hurt me really bad, so I withdrew as much as possible.
I think (especially living on his own) that he did start praying and I know he tried to "think" his way through what I did. He kept coming back to the same theory -- that the person who did that to him, was NOT the wife he married, was NOT the wife he loved and trusted. He did have to come to a point where he could see me (consistently [keyword]) being a contrite and repentant person. He watched my habits, watched how I overcame stressful situations (differently), watched how I responded to his pain, watched what I said, who I said it to. That was part of it.

He told me that when I could meet him in his pain (where we'd both cry) and he would feel heard, he would be attracted to me. We fought through being intimate for a few years. It was difficult and felt empty, and we always had the cloud of my betrayal over us. He described it as we always had someone else with us, or he didn't feel like himself. I had stripped him of his confidence, of his masculinity, in that realm.

Honestly, I will tell you, the thoughts that remain about the affair I had were not about sex, at all. It was about attention and escape for me. Fantasy, but not sex. He never could believe that, but I have nothing to hide now. That's the truth. But the thoughts of sex are THE thing that haunts my husband. I would give ANYTHING to undo this, and choose to NOT be unfaithful. ANYTHING. I would give anything to take those thoughts, triggers, memories, trauma and pain and (wasted) years and destruction away from my husband. Over time, he began to believe I was truly sorry and saw me trying to be a better person after all this. He has seen me love God, he has seen me minister to others, he has seen me put my needs last. But it took time.

Another big issue for my husband is that he did not want this to pass on to our two kids. He was adamant that this generational sin (this happened in my parents' marriage) would not ruin another family. He truly held it together longer than anyone would ever expect someone to. I was awful. And I as I mentioned before, it wasn't just the pain of my affair (+refusing to reveal), but all the horrible things AFTER. Blaming him, not taking responsibility, not listening, not apologizing, then pushing him away. He had a lot of opportunities to get out, to escape the hell I put us in, but he stayed.

We eventually began to see each other with new eyes and show up for each other in new ways, which allowed for new/different intimacy.
It's been 5.5 years (more blogs and pieces of our story to come) and we have a better physical relationship now then we ever did together. I know my husband always has that in his mind that what we had was no longer that same, but we have healed in ways we never thought possible.
At about the 3 year mark, where you are now, I remember him saying that all that remains is a shell of what we used to be. That what I saw, the empty, unloving, man was "what I got", and that's all I was ever going to get from him. He told me it made him a worse person, and angry, unforgiving person. Someone he never wanted to be. He said we would remain together as partners for the kids, but I would never be loved by him again the way I wanted.
Slowly, his forgiveness began, his anger faded, his hope returned and his heart began to heal. I know he still thinks about it, and has hard days and triggers, but we DO talk about it, and he feels heard now. In the last 1.5 years, the Lord has given us so many opportunities to become closer and to restore our marriage.

Thank you for your honest,

Thank you for your honest, heartfelt post, I know others will find healing in your words.
I realize and acknowledge how God gave me abundant grace in our hour of need. I marvel at it at times.
Early on I was able to see my unfaithful spouse as a damaged and hurting man. His self-centered and unwise actions almost blew up our lives. And although at first glance it might seem the betrayal was aimed at me, it was really aimed inward. He had been destroying himself, and all that he loved most, from the inside out. It wasn’t about me, it was never about me. It was about a lost and lonely man, who felt abandoned and neglected, left out; but that was all a lie. He had lost hope and he clutched like a dying man to things that only led to further death.
Praise God for brokenness!
My husband was a broken man so in need of grace. I credit God for allowing me to look past the ugly exterior to the true heart of my husband. I forgave him starting on D-day, when I heard his deep man voice plead much like a little boy’s, “And now you’re going to leave me.”
In my mind I whispered “No. No I’m not. I’m hurt, but I’m loyal. I’m brave. I’m a warrior. I’m not leaving.”

That was a little over two years ago and we have a marvelous and healed marriage. There are moments of pain that we still work through, hard memories that hang on, but we know that in Christ we’re victorious. He will continue to work in our lives and bring healing and growth. We feel He is equipping us for some greater service.
Again, your story will help others who find themselves detoured on the journey, thank you for sharing it.

This is amazing! Thank you

This is amazing! Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your story and the redemption that has come for you and in your marriage.
Glory be to God who can restore what is broken, and blesses us so.

Finally

I've searched this site for years to find a story like my own and you just described it. The only difference is, my husband still is not able to communicate his pain after 3 years. I know this takes time. I'm just hoping that day comes.

This gives me hope. I hope you'll continue to share your story or experiences for those of us that have no one in their lives to relate to. I feel very isolated at times. Thank you for sharing.

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