Cutting the Anchor

One of the most vivid memories I have of my father is when he took me fishing with one of his clients. It was off the coast of California. It was a smaller fishing boat, but not cheap and it was big enough to have some fun. The weather wasn’t perfect, but they decided it was fine to venture out. I think we were out about an hour when the storm finally hit us. Finally, my dad and his client (both of them decorated Vietnam War Veterans) decided they needed to humble themselves at the impending doom that was coming our way and pull up the anchor.

Here’s where it gets interesting. The anchor was caught, and true to their profile, they were going to get it unstuck. I think we did circles, and all sorts of ridiculous maneuvers in this boat (which I had grown to hate) to free the anchor for about 30 minutes. Once I vomited off the side of the boat, and once we almost capsized the 2nd time, I think they finally realized we were in trouble.

They were forced to cut the anchor. My dad’s client was fuming as I’m sure it wasn’t cheap, and my dad felt bad, but the vomit on my shirt, the fear in my eyes, lightening, thunder and big waves, told him it was time. Once the anchor was cut, we were free, soaked, and heading back in.

I wonder if some of you don’t need to cut the anchor right now. Before you assume the worst, I’m not meaning cut the spouse loose. I mean, perhaps it’s time to cut a method loose? When something isn’t working, it’s just not working. When dealing with infidelity or compulsive behaviors, if something isn’t working, I don’t want to keep doing it with little hope. Yes, it takes time for a method to work, but just how long? 

“We cannot solve a problem by the same consciousness which created the problem in the first place.”  –Albert Einstein

I talk to individuals every day who have been doing the same thing and there hasn’t been a change. Often times it gets worse. Frequently it’s seeing a counselor who has never been through infidelity, or they’re participating in a form of couples counseling, and it’s just not hitting home (usually with the unfaithful spouse). With great respect for the counselor, perhaps they have never been through this nightmare and their approach isn’t the best for you? Maybe your spouse needs an expert? Maybe there is a need to draw some lines in the sand and get expert insight on how to get things moving in the right direction. It may be time to stand up for your own health and well-being and put some expectations upon your spouse?

It was that way with Samantha and I for a short time early on in our recovery. We were doing circles, fuming at each other. I was angry at her, she was angry at me, I felt justified and wanted to move forward, she was stuck and didn’t think I was safe.

We had to cut a few anchors along the way. Old methodologies, old viewpoints, resentment, justifications, you name it.  We had to cut them loose, and I think we were angry about every single anchor we cut loose, but it saved our lives.

What do you need to cut loose today? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to post it here and I’ll do my best to answer as soon as I’m able.

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Thank you for this post. We are currently in the Married for Life phase, we are a lot better than when we began EMSO. I just feel we are stuck. Yes we are talking about every day things and we do a couple of activities each week, but our emotions are stuck. I believe we both are committed, but being the hurt spouse, is it up to me to plan things to bring us closer emotionally? He does the classes, but that's about it. Any suggestions as to what anchor to cut, and where do we go from there?

is it up to me

this is a bit of a tough one, but i'll take a stab at some suggestions and thank you for posting. first of all, there is usually one spouse who is driving the healing bus as we say. usually someone, oddly enough, the betrayed spouse many times, is the one who is pushing for recovery, finding resources, making appointments etc. not a universal always, but very very frequently. usually the betrayer is just in a fog, and is scared to make the betrayed any angrier so they pull back from doing any form of trying to lead or make decisions. we usually are content to just say 'tell us what to do and we'll do it. i just dont want to make you any angrier.' or, they feel like such a mess, they don't know where to start. or finally, it's very common BEFORE a class like emso, etc, that they do not know how to manage their recovery....but if you have already taken the emso course, and he still is not doing anything more or taking charge of his own recovery or making any plans to save the marriage it is concerning. if he is just doing classes, how is his participation level? just barely getting by and doing the minimum? then i'd consider approaching him and saying something to the effect of 'listen, this is a two way street. we both need to take part in managing recovery and managing our healing....this isn't over and we're not fine and good now. there is still more work to do.' he will need help for sure and he'll need patience as well with it, but there are limits where if he is still not leading, or not taking charge after an emso course, perhaps he is stuck in his own struggle right now? has he said anything more about his emotions? has he communicated anything else about what he is feeling? also, when did the affair end and when did all contact cease? do you think he may be grieving the loss of the affair partner? a timeline will help if you can share that with me. i hope this perspective helps a bit and gives you some thoughts. the anchor to cut is the anchor of 'lets go back to regular life and just move on.' that's over. new life is new life and going back to what you had and the way life was, is over and done. this is new life, new marriage and new approaches to the future.....

cut that anchor!

The sentence about seeing a counselor who's had experience in this really resonated with me. My husband's counselor is a very nice, very Christian counselor, but I don't feel he's really discovering much about what it was within himself that set him up for this- his background, his family, etc. All they seem to discuss is the spiritual aspects of why he fell in this affair.His counselor advised against a 12 step program because he feels it centers around failure and doesn't center around Christ. (!!) How do I encourage him to cut that anchor and seek out counsel that will help him discover himself and address this five year addiction to his AP without beng controlling?

12 step concerns et al

thanks so much for your comment 'anonymous.' I'm so glad the blog resonated with you. I'm so sorry they are against a 12 step program. It's highly unfortunate as a 12 step program is wonderful, and in many ways very Christlike when you disected. Nevertheless, I would first read this article by Rick called How To Get Your Mate to Cooperate:
additionally, I'd see the article can be implemented into your situation and see if that gets through to him in your approach...
Additionally, in terms of not being controlling, the article will help immensely, but I'd also suggest to talk to him about expert care helping to bring about clarity and insight into the situation. if he truly has a 5 year addiction/struggle with his affair partner, that's pretty significant and it really requires this type of expert care. anything less will only perpetuate the frustration. can you tell me more about the 5 year struggle? perhaps that will help me give you some better insight into the situation. Thanks again for the post.

That helps!

Samuel, it helps to know that I am not the only one trying to drive the recovery bus. We have been dealing with this for a very long time. I am positive that communication with the affair partner was severed long ago, but he could still be holding on to the memories He has done the work for class, but doesn't apply what he's learned. For example, he hears my wounds/offenses but doesn't try to change or improve them. I don't think that he realizes that we can't go back to the way things were. I think he can't forgive himself, or fathom that he was so far removed from our marriage that he did what did. He is quiet and passive anyway, but I feel like he is afraid to put himself out there.

Is Truth an anchor?

My unfaithful husband has a track record of lying to cover up the extent of his betrayals. When we have conflicts, they revolve around my gut feeling that I have not been told everything about his latest affair (and for that matter, every other illicit liaison he has had in our 22 year relationship). Whenever this comes up, he becomes belligerent, cold, and basically stonewalls my concerns. He then accuses me of hanging on to things that don't matter, and hates being asked questions he feels he had already answered. The problem is that his answers are inconsistent at best... I never got a timeline for his affair from last year. I didn't know when exactly all contact ended, because he refused to allow me to witness anything around it. He lied about the affair partner's identity for four months after D-day, and he refused to give me access to the means of communication they used to get in touch with each other. To this day, he claims he doesn't remember the user ID of the email heused to sex chat with her.

He claims my need for the truth is an anchor stalling our progress... I agree, only, not in the way he means it. I believe we can't move forward while towing all those secrets of his behind us. I feel like one day, one of those secrets will come to light, and we all be back to ground zero again. Case in point: when I asked how much money he'd spent on his affair partner, he claimed he only took her to lunch once and that he bought a birthday card for her daughter once, nothing more. That child's birthday is in January... The problem is that he claims their affair only started in late March, early April of last year and only lasted through mid-June when I discovered the thousands of text messages between them in our phone bill. So, either he is lying about how long the affair lasted and when it started, or it wasn't a child's card he bought at all, but probably something he feels guilty admitting to buying for the affair partner's own birthday or for mother's day, which both would have taken place in his alleged timeframe. I'm inclined to the latter as it'd be especially insulting that he bought nothing for me for either my birthday or mother's day, and instead was always telling me we needed to tighten the belt because we were close to the red during those months. I have no way of checking into the finances because he always withdrew cash as he paid for groceries in order to cover his tracks.

I just discovered this a few minutes ago and I am feeling quite lost as to how to handle it. I've called our MC to schedule a solo session for myself, but I haven't heard back from her. I'm about to lose my cool and demand answers from him, which I know will only backfire on me. Am I wrong? Is my need to know the truth truly toxic? I feel it's more detrimental to have things like this pop up and destroy my trust in him yet again.

tough one...

nmg, thank you for your post. you have asked a series of very good, but challenging questions....for starters, truth and knowing what your husband did or didn't do is not an anchor. its normal and you need to know what you're choosing to forgive and choosing to live with the consequences of....however, i do believe in some cases, unfaithful spouses can in fact, forget information. there is a big difference between forgetting, blocking it out, and purposely choosing not to remember it or confess it. it's tough, and every situation, though it has some parallels is different. i don't know that i would say he's lying so dont trust him, or that he can remember it all either. it's a tough tightrope to walk, but i do believe you have every right to know all the truth as best you can, without using it to torment him either. meaning, Rick has a principle he uses called 'putting a gun to your spouse's head for truth.' it basically speaks to the fact that if you are asking your spouse to come clean with it all, then when he or she does you blast him and blow his head off, he/she will never want to give up all the details and come completely clean with it all. does that make sense? you have a right to be angry, but to blast him or use it to wield the sword upon him, will be problematic and make him never want to come clean. again, balance. what help have you gotten from the site or the programs? there is a good amount of articles talking about why we want to know the details of it all, and understanding why we want to know and what knowing will give us, before we ask the question? have you read any of those articles at all? have you considered getting help through some of the programs? I can tell you, from your post, what you both need is an infidelity specific you can get to the core issues. also, have you asked him to take a lie detector? what would he say you think? here for you and praying for you. thank you for reaching out.

Thank you

For replying, Samuel. I understand all that you are saying, and believe me, I've worked very hard to curb the anger some of his confessions have stoked in me. A lot of it was very humiliating to hear, especially because much of it was untrue... all of it was disappointing, to see the man I admired so much for his set of principles, discipline, and faith, be so unlike any of it. To hear him say it, I was the worst being in the planet. I often felt unworthy of him, felt guilty for suspecting him through the years, and felt I deserved some of the things he used to say to me. And then this came out, and much of the rest of it followed. Nothing was as I believed it. I felt very much like the world was ending, my reality had imploded, and all those years of emotional and mental abuse and rejection crushed me to a tiny, tiny speck. Then I reacted a lot like you describe your wife did. I'm a trained martial artist, and believe me, he'd have gotten seriously hurt if he hadn't been able to block my kicks and punches, or if someone hadn't come to intervene. I was lost for weeks... I almost ended up involuntarily committed for suicide prevention. As a medical student, that would have ended my career before it even started. So I understand the concept of not weaponizing the truth... it got me nowhere good and instead, I suffered more verbal lashings from him. It was actually the articles on the free resources section of this site that turned the light back on for me. I read about the dehumanization process he put me through in his mind, turning me into an object, instead of the woman he swore he'd love for his entire life. How that helped him compartmentalize his life. How he used unsound logic, sophistry, and outright lies she fed him to turn off his guilt. I then understood, when he confessed she wasn't the first time he betrayed me that she was merely the worst kind of relapse, that his conscience was so hardened by years of his selfish behavior that it was so easy for her to talk her way into an affair with him.

I have been trying to convince him to sign us up for EMSO since June, but he is suspicious of anything he doesn't choose himself. I've shared articles with him that you and Jack and Rick have written, but I doubt he gives them more than a cursory glance. I even brought up a polygraph test. He scoffed, said it was a waste of time, money, and progress... he said it'd be useless thanks to his bad memory and that he'd rather never think of her out the other women ever again and concentrate on us instead.

It makes me incredibly sad, because there is a lot of trauma for me in the years leading up to this revelation, I feel a lot of the issues we have began years ago, but neither he nor our MC wish to go there. Our youngest son ran away from home last night. Thanks to the Lord, a police officer heading home spotted him walking in the dark with his bags and immediately detained him and brought him back to us. I know it has been bad, neither of us has handled this properly, and seeing it affect our children is breaking both our hearts. I believe he is sincere when he says he loves me, but I am afraid he is still too arrogant in his ability to control his weaknesses, he doesn't handle my triggers or sad moments very well, and resents the fact that I need him to hold me when I am upset. I am starting to feel alone and unable to trust him enough to share my feelings openly with him... I've long since stopped yelling or blaming him. Sometimes I just feel sad or insecure because of a memory or because I've run into his ex AP... he doesn't seem to get it, though.

not getting it continued...

NMG.....I see. makes a good amount of sense now. what power you do have to leverage to get him to acquiesce in this situation do you think? have you read Rick's article on how to get your mate to cooperate? here it is again if you need it: it may give you some pointers on what to say or do to get him to agree to some things. if you've read it and it's not working, then maybe a session with rick might help? though he books out a week or so in advance, you may try that..this whole process requires an experts help to be honest. perhaps Rick can zero in on some things that can help facilitate some movement and i'm sure you'll agree some movement in the right direction is better than no movement....that may work. it's just an idea..and Rick may be able to get through to him...
i think you're doing an awesome job of working to get things healed and headed in the right direction. there's always one leading the healing efforts and from what i've seen 80% of the time it's the betrayed spouse which is leading the charge to heal. its unfortunate but its usually the case......this is a streetfight my friend, and from what you've said you can fight. hahaha, but its not a fight with your spouse, as much as it's a fight with the process and remaining true to the process. it's a fight against quitting and giving up, and as you are faithful to stay committed to principle and not be led by mere feelings, you give yourself every chance at winning. winning is not winning over your spouse, but winning in the fight at restoration for you and for your family. it's hard. it hurts. but you doing all you can is paving a way for the potential for restoration.

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