But Why Are They Thinking About Their AP?

As I was responding to a comment on my previous blog, I felt the need to bring more clarity to just what is going on in the mind of the unfaithful and what emotions go through their head when thinking of their AP.

Early on, when things are difficult and you both are wading through the insanity of it all, (the fighting, the anger, the venom, the confusion and the chaos) the unfaithful may be thinking of the AP wondering if this marriage can be saved. Things are so rough and so uncertain they may be thinking about how doing the right thing is harder than doing the wrong thing.

Early on, they may be having trouble breaking free from the romance of it all, but that is early on.

As the process gets harder or tougher, they still may have thoughts about them, but they are consciously trying to press forward and undo what they’ve done. It’s harder to un-tie themselves from the bond they’ve established, emotionally or sexually, and they’ll most certainly need help. Hope for Healing is a wonderful program to help untie them as well as teach them how to untie themselves from the bondage they have created to the affair partner.

The further away they get from the affair, the tide turns immensely. As I was sharing with an anonymous friend who left a comment, the fact is, when I think of my AP now, it’s not a romantic X rated porn movie in any sense. It’s a sea of sobriety, remembering the destruction and pain I created which then reiterates why I never want to have another affair again. Somewhere around the one and half year point past D Day, Samantha was thinking of my AP more than I was. She was comparing herself, wondering if I was thinking about my AP when we had sex or even when we were just having fun together. I really wasn’t but she was convinced I was. It took time and strategy and some tough conversations to get through it.

When I reflect today upon my choices and my affair, I can tell you I hate the fact that I screwed up so bad. I’m sure your post-unfaithful spouse does too. I’m sure they hate what they’ve done, and how they’ve hurt you. (Note: if they are still in the middle of the affair or still in the stage of justifying the affair they are nowhere near this reality yet. Be patient. Clarity will come but not in an instant.)

Those that have some distance from the affair partner may not be able to express their sorrow for what they’ve done, but more than likely the further they get from the illusion of the affair the more they will be able to articulate. I think if you ask anyone who has a few years under their belt, they’ll tell you they hate what they did for what it did to their spouse, and what it did to themselves. I will attest to that for sure.

One day Samantha and I were ‘jabbing’ at each other and being sarcastic. It soon turned heated and serious and she said “Well maybe I want to have an affair.”  I had no idea she would say such a statement. It was on the tip of my tongue as if I had thought about it a 1,000 times at least. Without even a mere pause I remember saying “Sure, go ahead. Try living with yourself afterwards and hating yourself every single day of your life and wanting to kill yourself. Let me know how that works for you, because I can tell you it supremely sucks.”

The silence was deafening and to this day, I’d like to never, ever, feel that quiet again.

It was the same quiet I felt when my wife and kids had moved to Texas, and I sat in our California home, after everyone had left and moved out, and I wept in my house for the nightmare I was living, but couldn’t wake up from.

The holier a man becomes, the more he mourns over the unholiness which remains in him – Charles Spurgeon

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deafening silence

I am the betrayed spouse who who discovered her husbands affair just over a year ago.This is my first marriage and my husbands second. His first wife cheated on him 4 years after they were married and yet they managed to stay married for 11 years. Going into the marriage with me he would always tell me" if you ever want to cheat, then leave the marriage". Knowing what it feels like to be the betrayed spouse i cannot understand why he would in turn inflict such pain on me and our children and begin his affair one year into our marriage. Like your wife i had also mentioned to him about wanting to have an affair and feeling that same excitment. However, i have never been attracted to any other man and cannot ever imagine being with anyone else.I was sexually violated as a child and i can honestly say from the bottom of my heart that the pain, the hurt and trauma of betrayl by my spouse exceeds that of my childhood incident. I have been bottling up many harsh words and name calling towards my husband. From your experience as the unfaithful spouse, did your wife verbalize unkind words towards you and how did you handle them? i need advice , i am ready to expolde.

great q's....

such good content here to speak to. i hope this encourages you, but i'll try to be brief. for starters, she raged at me. samantha hit me a few times, relatively hard, but not in the face. it was painful for sure. she had a special cuss word for me that she used and to this day we joke how she called me that so many times and i had a word for her too. we had massive blowouts, that were not loud, but highly emotional as our kids were so young and fragile. we had it out in front of Rick before too. it was excruciating at times. i even carry a holiday inn express card in my wallet to remind me of the pain i caused by my choices and i never want to go there again.
for him to be a betrayed spouse, then to have his own affair, reveals that he may not have ever been healed adequately from the pain he experienced in his first marriage. many betrayed spouses who do not get the right kind of healing from their spouse's affair, end up having affairs of their own down the road. happens quite frequently unfortunately. it makes total sense that it would happen.
why would he let it? well, i'm sure he was blinded to it, as our pain blinds us. we think we should be happy and think we deserve to be happy and our expectations, and our pain blind us to reality. then, the right woman/man comes along, and we're hooked.
it was hard to take her anger as it would push me away, but i had to realize that she deserved to be angry and I had made her angry. i had to get over it at some level and had to have rick and a friend say "give her the right to be angry. remember what you've done here stupid. shes hurt and angry and scarred by what you've done. " your husband wont be able to take it or get it for very long without someone like that to help him see his own choices has brought this upon him and part of being a mature, responsible man,is taking responsibility for our choices. i had to learn that. he wont get that from you and you can't be the one to tell him, it will take a third party who is safe. her anger was hard to take, but as i took it, and as i allowed her to verbalize and share and grieve, it gave her safety that i wasn't leaving. she says to this day that by my continuing to pursue her and continuing to take it, i was showing her i was safe. i was worth a second chance. i was willing to do whatever it took to save my marriage. i gained her trust and willingness to take anothe chance by absorbing her anger and still pressing in. it was hard as all hell. but worth it.
but if all he gets is anger, he will eventually burn out and resent you for it. he will eventually tire out and give up hope and start to despair. you'll need to journal to help get it out of you for sure. and working out, walking, and sometimes samantha would go yell into her pillow. she really would. she would scream and id just let her. it helped. though painful, it needed to be done to help her get it out. she was mad at god, mad at me, mad at the ap, mad at everyone but our kids.
she got through it, but she had to take steps to get relief. you dont want to take the opinion of 'you cheated now you get the anger...' as that will exasperate him and ruin the chances at healing. plus that's a very self righteous mentality. but, you do deserve to get angry and have to have freedom to show anger. id get help so you can control the anger and yet still be able to show him how deeply he has hurt you.
i sure hope this helped. happy to dialogue more.

Great q's

I greatly appreciate your feed back. It's difficult for me to say what is really in my heart and head to my spouse. In the twelve years of marriage we have never ever fought or raised our voices to one another. We always spoke to one another about our concerns and gave one another positive feedback. We had agreed that many couples argued over petty situations and we had never taken our beautiful kids, family, friends , our home or health for granted so whAt is there to fight about? Even he could not give me a reason as to why he betrayed me and what I had possibly done to make him stray. He started this affair during the first year of our marriage so it's not like he gave it a chance to sour! I'm more angry at myself for loving what I thought was an honorable and loyal man when I had been sleeping with the devil all these years. My kids are young and I will hang in there and sacrifice my happiness for their sake until they are old enough to understand this whole nightmare. As I stated in my previous post I would rather be molested all over again as a six year old child than to have to go through the ultimate betrayal.

Anger

You are very right about the betrayer creating the environment for the betrayed to vent their anger. I surely thought my husband wouldn't stay around after the fury I would unleash. When he allowed me to express my anger or rage it did create safety. He showed me he would do anything including taking some abuse from me. It was not the way I wanted to act at all but I suppose it was natural and necessary. With the help from a professional therapist who specializes in affairs and with this site I have learned to harness some of the anger a little better and more constructively express it. However, I am at a point where I still feel pretty angry with the continued consequences that I endure. Like Rick said "the consequences from infidelity are like ripples in a pond" they go on and on, but this is terribly hard to accept. We are nearly two years into recovery which is a ways but I realize there is much more to go. For example, today my husband came home and said he saw one of his affair partners. He gave me the details and of course there was no interaction, but her presence was there. On the primary level I felt obviously very sad and upset then it wanted to surface as anger as it naturally does. This time I took some time and we more than constructively worked through our conversation and emotions. It really surprised me how well I did. It is still tough and saddening and uncomfortable for me. It still makes me feel very angry. I know you have said you and Samantha are about 8 years past your affair. How long did she deal with her anger and how long did the ripples of infidelity continue to intrude upon your life? I know you have also mentioned that you and your family moved after your affair. I wish we could move and I would be guranteed to never go past the places that cause triggers or run into the people that I never wish to see but that would also take me away from my home and all the people I love. What would you recommend if you can't leave the place where the affairs occurred? Thank you for taking time to share your story and insight into this devastaing situation for all us in need.

how long did she deal with anger

thanks so much for your kind words and reading the blog. samantha was angry for a while....it would ebb and flow. usually when she was triggered, she would tap into some deep anger, or sadness which would flow into anger.....she was angry for a good 6 months. up and down, ebb and flow, but at about 8 months or so we had hit some good momentum. she would still have some struggles, but for the most part, normal life had ensued and we were off and running. at a year mark, we had some tough times but we went to mentor at an ems weekend and though she was triggered by it, she was actually helped immensely by re hearing rick and the other therapists talk at the ems weekend, though we were helping mentor other couples. keep in mind we had excellen thelp though by rick so at a year, we were doing very well. most don't, unless they get expert help to minimize the collateral damage and the feeling of being stuck as their spouse, or themselves don't how how to navigate the pain and the hurt of it all. they just kinda grind it out and it hurts everyone immensely. let me ask why you can't leave the city you'r in? maybe you need to? if you can I would consider it, but if not, then i get it. for starters, Id really read as much as you can about triggers on the site. there are some good ones. here are a couple:
https://www.affairrecovery.com/node/12568

https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founders/2007-12
those may help you.
when we go back to california, we drive by our old house and what not every time, and samantha does really well with it. the triggers will ease up when you do a few things. 1. properly grieve. 2. shift your focus, meaning you shift what you're focusing on to another thing, issue, etc, 3. continue to educate yourself on how to deal with them 4. allow time to help in the process. its' not the only variable, but when you are proactive, along with time, it helps to get some momentum for your own healing and care. does this make sense?

anger

At this very moment moving to another city is not likely for us for several different reasons. Mainly for the family and support we have here. I like where I live minus the things my husband has done here. We have a young son that loves to be with his extended family. It really brings us a lot of joy. It would not seem right to take him away from the many people who love and nourish him. Even if we did move I would constantly be back. With that being said unfortunately on the flip side I hate going around to events, functions, parks, or public places fearing I will run into an affair partner. It just seems like a dark cloud is hovering over a lot of the time. But yet again there is another side to this as well. My husband and I have confronted many of the places that are triggers. I am forced to be near certain areas for many different reasons so it gave me a chance to face my fears and deal with it. I do try to be very proactive and I see that the time is also helping. I actually spoke with a few of the APs. I am not afraid to talk to them I just fear the emotion that it stirs up inside of me. I also think it could be that when my husband or I see one of them I have a hard time accepting that I have to potentially deal with this for a long time. Then I go into the kind of thinking of "wow I should never have to deal with any of this. no one in any marriage should." so you see it is just kind of easy to spiral into a negative cycle and I guess I get frustrated that it potentially disrupts a perfect day and then I have to put forth great effort to push through. Maybe in the future it will be different. Yes your advice does make sense. I read your blog about shifting focus and it was just what I needed. I deliberately had to shift my focus and it has been a huge help. I believe that is something Peggy Vaughan also addressed on her website. What you feed does really grow. I will read the articles you have sent. Thank you again for all of the help you are providing to so many people.

absorbing anger

Samuel - how did you manage to absorb the anger. This is something I am really bad at. I know my spouse deserves answers to the questions they have - but the way in which the questions are asked or the reaction to the answers is really hard to take. It's filled with anger and almost goading at times. I then react emotionally and that is when things go downhill. I know I need to be patient and just provide a safe place for anger and hurt ... but I don't know HOW to do that because my emotions get in the way

absorbing the anger....

for me, what worked was quite frankly having Rick and an old friend remind me why she was angry. they flat out had to tell me, 'do you realize what you've done?' 'why do you think she's angry?' remember what YOU did and why SHE is angry due to what YOU did.
i had shame for sure, which causes our own anger at ourselves, and then our spouse, as our spouse asking us questions, makes us get angry as it reminds us of our shame for what we've done and our guilt for what we've done. make sense? i had anger at myself for sure, and i had anger at my wife samantha, as early on, i felt somewhat justified in my affair as she rejected me so much and she pushed me away.
i also had a sense of failure which spawned more of my own anger but i realized i was angry at myself more than anyone really.
when samantha got angry, i had to remember, that I was the one who hurt her and keep things in proper perspective or else, i'd then get angry, then blow it and things would blow up.
i rode motocross bikes to get my own anger out. but samantha had it tough and i knew (from getting help from Rick) that eventually her anger would run out as she got healthier and healthier as I got healthier. if she hasn't gotten any really good help at all, then i fear her anger may last a while and carry on. but if she's gone to ems (i'm sorry as I don't remember all the details of any prior posts so I'm not sure) or if she hasn't taken harboring hope (for betrayed spouses) i'm afraid her anger will seem like adrenaline and at some level, she may rely upon it as it gets her going and provides energy and a sense of strength to her. it's deceptive, but getting you both help is the best remedy to help minimize it.
also, i remember in emmerson eggerich's book love and respect, he says 'lean into the anger/venom' and show your spouse you are safe and you can take it and you are wanting to help. when your spouse wants to know details, remember she is more than likely, (not always but more than likely) wanting to heal, wanting to connect, wanting to move forward, even if it comes out in anger or hostility or muddy.
hope that gives some insight for you on it. please let me know what else i need or should reiterate.

Thanks

Thanks Samuel. I'm a female cheating spouse actually :-) so it's about his anger. We can't (for various logistics reasons) attend the EMS weekends but we are getting some help and counselling which is to some degree helpful.
I think what you said which is pretty thought provoking is that about being angry with yourself. I think I am feeling angry, disappointed and frustrated with myself just as much as he is with me. So absolutely those questions just trigger the anger, shame and guilt in me.
I think also that point you said that when he wants to know the details then it's about him wanting to connect and move forward - even if it's done in a hostile way.

I need to just find ways of reminding myself of this in the heat of the moment. That's the problem. I can think about it reasonably clearly afterwards/beforehand but in the moment it's really tough. Did you find that?

how did Samantha get over this?

Samuel -
you say in this post that " Somewhere around the one and half year point past D Day, Samantha was thinking of my AP more than I was. She was comparing herself, wondering if I was thinking about my AP when we had sex or even when we were just having fun together. I really wasn’t but she was convinced I was. It took time and strategy and some tough conversations to get through it.". it is 5 months since d day for us. we are in counseling and my husband is doing everything possible to help me recover from his 2 1/2 yr affair. I have difficulty with comparison too. he says he doesn't compare but I guess I really don't believe it. he was with her for so long and saw her 2-3 times a week, talked multiple times a day , etc. How can he not think of her? I imagine to myself that if I had sex with someone else and my spouse in the same day that it would be very difficult not to compare one to the other. I fight thoughts that I am not like her, not fun enough, pretty enough, don't play golf like she did, etc. Please share the conversations you had about this and the strategy you mention.

how did Samantha get over this?

Samuel -
you say in this post that " Somewhere around the one and half year point past D Day, Samantha was thinking of my AP more than I was. She was comparing herself, wondering if I was thinking about my AP when we had sex or even when we were just having fun together. I really wasn’t but she was convinced I was. It took time and strategy and some tough conversations to get through it.". it is 5 months since d day for us. we are in counseling and my husband is doing everything possible to help me recover from his 2 1/2 yr affair. I have difficulty with comparison too. he says he doesn't compare but I guess I really don't believe it. he was with her for so long and saw her 2-3 times a week, talked multiple times a day , etc. How can he not think of her? I imagine to myself that if I had sex with someone else and my spouse in the same day that it would be very difficult not to compare one to the other. I fight thoughts that I am not like her, not fun enough, pretty enough, don't play golf like she did, etc. Please share the conversations you had about this and the strategy you mention.

sorry for the delay forever changed

very sorry for the delay.. with cmas and with new year and holidays, it's been busy and i'm sorry for the delay. for starters, i did think of my ap for a while but it did dissipate. the problem was, it didn't dissipate in Samantha's mind. and that's to be expected. i think the fact is, comparison is toxic yet it's hard not to compare to the affair partner in these situations. for starters, samantha could ask me anything she wanted and i would answer. i would be honest, but once i answered our agreement was that she would receive it and not continually ask me the same question. i had to be patient but she had to be wise and keep the agreement. many times, it's not about comparison, but realizing that affair partners make us feel great about ourselves. we love the way they make us feel about ourselves and inherently affairs are selfish. if the affair was very emotional and sexual, i'm sure he's still thinking about her from time to time, but the fact is he's there with you wanting to be with you. many spouses get hung up on the fact that they may have reminders or triggers about their affair partner, yet they are still there with you focusng on recovery and restoring the relationship. have you taken the harboring hope course at all? that would be a great help for your own recovery and healing for sure. i don't think he's comparing you to her in that way that you may be imagining. affairs are fantasy and once we wise up and once we sober up from the deception, we start to realize how stupid we were and how we were chasing an illusion not reality. it's good to be able to ask questions, but there is a difference between asking questions and then continuing to remind him about the affair partner, almost seemingly punishing him for the affair. does that make sense? i hope that helps.

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