They get to Say no, but Life is going to Change

Often times in recovery, betrayed spouses are frustrated as their unfaithful spouse won't take action. Today, I offer ways to deal with this refusal to get help.

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Wow just the most amazing blog post
The problem I have is that I really don't ever feel I had that negotiation option - maybe I did but my self esteem was too low to execute it
But his parents did the same thing and he "invited" me to divorce him for adultery (???) so I have done so
And since I have tried to introduce "consequences" but because he "knows how it goes" having watched his parents do it; it feels like he is telling me that divorce is the norm and I am an idiot not to know how these things work
So I feel crushed by this alternate reality which is never what I anticipated when we got married
But somehow i feel that the unhealthiness of his approach means that divorce has to be right even tho I am mortified that this is the path i am led down and that is what my 5 year old boy and 6 yr old girl are witnessing
thank you so much for your blog and honesty


thanks so much for posting. i'm so sorry for your pain but i'm really proud of you for standing up for yourself and not letting the dysfunction continue to keep going and keep violating you as a person. it's a tough road to walk Joanna. it's not for the faint of heart, but it takes guts and boldness and a will to get healthy to actually take action. thank you for sharing and for posting. i hope you can find strength each day to keep going, day by day. love those kids as they'll always remember the way mom loved them through their pain.



After 3 months of living with his affair I took matters in my own hands, retained a lawyer and served him with papers. It came to a point where I was so consumed with despair, I had no other choice. Living with the affair was no longer an option. It certainly was a shock to him! The life we built together for our children was sadly coming to an end because of his behaviour and I was ready to end it, after 28 years together, it felt surreal that I had the courage to do it. He suddenly stopped the affair, begged me to reconsider and go to counselling. It's been 3 months since I served him papers and we're still in weekly counselling. Our therapist says we need to mourn the loss of our old marriage, it's dead. But we now have the ability to rebuild. I'm still grieving and everyday is a struggle. My husband has become a different person since that dreadful night and is willing to help me along with my difficult journey. We are moving forward at a snail's pace. Thanks for your blog.

so great Anna Lisa...

AL, you'd be amazed at how many stories there are like this that you just don't read about. the betrayed decides to take action and will no longer sit and wait and allow things to just 'waffle' and before they know it, things change. it's not overnight, but the decision to get help comes quickly when consequences are established and brought to their attention. i'm proud of you that you did that. i bet it was liberating and freeing for you, though it probably scared the heck out of you. NOW, don't let up. keep going and keep the pedal down as they say and continue to push through this process. if i can help further at all please let me know. proud of your efforts my friend. thanks for reading and sharing.


Thanks for your support!
Today was particularly dark for me, not sure what triggered the flooding and anger. He doesn't know how to help me because he says he doesn't know my pain. This phase is extremely frustrating, painful and exhausting. Is this normal behaviour after 3 months for the betrayed? It feels like it just happened yesterday. Thanks for your help!

Hi Anna Lisa. I'm in that

Hi Anna Lisa. I'm in that same exact situation now.. 28 years together, 3 months of betrayal.. Did your marriage survive? If so, is it stronger than before? Everyone tells me I need to take action. I agree that I can't allow him to come and go as he pleases.. As you know, it's a struggle..

Now what?

Thank you for your insight. I asked my husband to invest more in this process by reading a book and doing the activities in the book or going to an EMS weekend. He seems to think that he is the exception to the process and that he could "go through the motions" and it would not work. So, he is gone. He says he intends to be back in 2 weeks. He says he needs to be broken and that he is too comfortable in our home. Can you offer some guidance for me? He has broken ties with the AP, but still sees her at work. I told him if he confides in her or turns to her for comfort, it is over. I cannot go through that again, although I am only going on his word that he won't do that - whatever that is worth.

What boundaries can I set for me and my 7 and 9 year old? What can I do to protect us from what is sure to be a roller coaster of emotions? What if he is not broken in 2 weeks? What on earth do I do now? I love him still.

sorry for the delay MCB...

it's been a long hard week and i missed your post and i apologize for it being three days. it's a tough call. for starters, i don't get nor believe the whole "i am too comfortable in our home..." to be that seems like bull. i'm sorry to be so frank, but I have a hard time believing that. it's always a nightmare when a spouse works with the ap as most ap's are not going to pull away. they will take that opportunity to still keep him close as they're together during the day. each situation is different, but it's a huge concern. for starters, i'd use this article on how to get him to cooperate, ie if you won't get help, then we need to do this______. He shouldn't be in control of what happens to you and your life. if he wants to go away, well at some level, he can go away and maybe he needs to find another place to live? i mean, if he isn't healthy, then perhaps he needs to get some separation between you and your home and your kids. like they say, he doesn't get to have his cake and eat it too. this is marriage. this is life. real life. with consequences. and if he can just go out and do what he wants and come home, he will most likely just do that. i think it's great you said if you turn to her it's over, but will you know if he does. i'd give him an ultimatum that either he comes with you to the ems weekend, or you all separate as it's not fair to the kids to do that. if he won't get expert help, there's a problem and he may not be wanting to give up his affair partner? does all this make sense? i'm happy to speak to it more for you if you like, but that's what I would do. though you love him, you need to give him tough love. dobson has a wonderful book on that, but also this article may help: let me know what you think..

Thank you

I have read the "tough love" book and between that and the AR website that is really why he left. I opened the door, so to speak. We have been living in this "pretend normal" for several months now and he continues to see a therapist weekly. He did cut off the relationship with the AP, but sees her at work which wrecks me every Monday. I am grateful for him seeing the therapist and I do believe he stopped the relationship. I have been so very patient, but I basically said that I need to be a part of the recovery. My pain and healing needs to be addressed as well, or you have to go. I asked for him to be uncomfortable in the process or uncomfortable in a hotel somewhere. He chose the latter. I cannot force him to love me or be considerate of my pain. I cannot force him to stay. Although God is not responding to some very specific prayers I have been screaming up to heaven lately, at least He has not let my heart become hard. I know He is still with me. My God loves me and I will be OK. I just want to know what to do if my husband does ask to come back. Obviously, there are no guarantees here, but what sort of "rules" need to be established for him to come back. One minute I feel like a fool for putting myself in this position, the next I feel bold and scrappy for making him make a choice (not the one I wanted, but still a choice). What do I do if he calls and wants to come home?


Thank you Samuel for all of your blogs and efforts! They are truly a God send.
Without going too in depth at the moment I would like to know what your advice is when dealing with physical intimidation. Within the last six months our life has fallen to shambles...after discovery of my husband's online chatting and sexting with other women plus viewing of porn (that is all I know about right at the moment) plus a long history of deception over many other things in life, things have spiraled out of control. During that discovery my husband became very angry and aggressive and put his hands on me. shoving, pushing and putting his hands around my neck. He left bruises. He has also had a history of being very temperamental but not ever getting to the above point. He left the house and wanted to return but I would not let him hoping it would encourage him to seek help like I have asked him to do. I wasn't in the beginning interested in going to an expert together until he took care of himself. This uprooted our teenage children's lives and caused them much confusion and pain. after several months without him receiving any help I was backed into a corner and had to let him back in. The children were suffering and we were going to lose our home because he had began to use money to control me. He would no longer pay for the children or the bills and it was a constant struggle. No he is in the home and we are in separate bedrooms with him still controlling the money but now paying for the kids again. I have requested that he start seeing a therapist and he has been to maybe two appointments but believes he already knows how to solve his problems. I also requested that we go see an expert together and he refuses. He is pushing me to say I want to stay married and to get back to being "normal" without real change or expert help. If I do not comply he becomes very angry and aggressive and at times with words or actions tries to intimidate me. I believe I have implemented change but to no avail. It is so hard on the children and I am not exactly sure what to do at this point. The less i comply the more angry he becomes. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for all of your help.

Two and a half years

When I found out about the five year long affair with a co-worker as well as multiple 'pseudonym forays' into Ashely Madison, Zoosk and a few porn 'dating' sites (he says he 'curious' and would never take action on those.Sure, I believe that- NOT), one of the stipulations I had in staying was that he go to counseling, I go to counseling, then WE go to counseling and that he find someone to be transparent with and accountable to, other than ME. It was his idea to attend the EMS weekend 5 months after discovery. He went to counseling for about 9 months. His counselor was out of network, and didn't take insurance so the cost was a hardship and he kind of hit a wall with him in that it wasn't really doing anything. So he quit. That was about a year and a half ago. I continued going to my counselor and she helped me not only in the throes of despair but in also dealing with MY issues, apart from the affair. When I bring up couples counseling, the fact that he agreed to get counseling to figure out the WHY of the affair and that he agreed to find someone to be accountable to, and he balks. He's fine with how things are. He's moved on. He lost his job where the AP works (lay offs...a Godsend, really), we've moved to a new home in a new town, he has a new job...he says he will never hurt me like that again, hurt US like that again. And he feels thats all that needs to happen. When we went to EMS, I stated that we were all on our best behavior because of the newness of the pain and the guilt, and my fear was that if he didn't get to the bottom of what happened, if we didn't get some kind of help to rewire our relationship, things would slowly slowly morph back into 'the comfortable'...which it has. He doesn't want counseling for us. I do. I feel I just haven't been able to move forward. I know he's not looking to have an affair. I know the pain he's caused is preventing him from going online again. Things are "ok" with us. But I am constantly unsettled and although the pain has lessened, knowing just how awful he felt for hurting me, thoughts still pervade, images still pop up especially while being intimate, with no resolution and I just wondering if I should give an ulimatum that we go to couples counseling with someone well versed in affairs, and to get an accountability person- or insist he hold up his end of the bargain, or do I accept things as they are, remember that I chose forgiveness and work harder at "moving on"?

diana0905....blunt but kind thoughts for you...

diana 0905, thank you for your comment and your question. i'll be graciously blunt. take this with a grain of salt, as i'm not rick obviously, but the fact is, he said he's never cheat on you in the first place when he took his vows. his will power wasn't enough the first time, why will it be enough this time???? he has proven that his own power is not strong enough to prevent himself from acting out. just because you've had a few months of sobriety (not that he's an addict) but a few months or weeks of not acting out, it doesn't mean that all is well now and we just go back to auto pilot. auto pilot, just doing life without accountability and without boundaries in place and a new lifestyle is unfortunately, a recipe for disaster. if i do that now, it allows me to go backwards in my thoughts, feelings, actions, approach to life and recovery and samantha for sure. let alone the pressures of life we feel as men everyday. i would definitely deliver an ultimatum that says, we're never going back and i'm not staking our marriage or our future together on YOUR WILL POWER which has proven to not be strong enough to prevent these types of issues in our life. he has to have some kind of intimate accountability with another man or two continually, and/or counseling of some sorts periodically. the relapse rate is too high, life is too difficult, he's proven he can cheat once, and there's just too much against him and against the unfaithful spouse to go back to life as it was and not continue with therapy and some sort of accountability. self sufficiency will not cut it when it comes to this level of vulnerability. relapse, is always about pride. i can do it. i'm strong enough. i'm tough enough. i can do it. i will take care of it. i will prevent it. i would insist he hold up his end to the bargain, and if not, i'd apply some consequences for sure so he understands you're not going back, and you'r not just slipping back into auto pilot. if you talk to couples whose spouse has relapsed, i'd say conservatively 80% just went back to life as it was and didn't allow true change to lifestyles, patterns, habits, and the like to change. they simply tried to just go back to the way things were, when the way things were is what created the vulnerability in the first place, ya know? i sure hope that helps. i hope it wasn't too blunt or unkind but it's truth my friend. thanks for posting and reach out anytime.


Oh gosh, blunt? Heavens no. Blunt is good. Blunt is just what we need because when something like this happens, blunt brings us back to reality. And I have to say, after I wrote this, I decided to get blunt with him. I was a mess all day long because I am usually so worried about 'making waves' and somehow I feel I'm over reacting or that by saying something I will make him uncomfortable all over again. But my soul tells me that I am right. There is a reason my heart is still dealing with this, that I'm still having issues with flooding and betrayal, and that's because we haven't really dealt wtih it or learned what happened, exactly. No, correction- other than saying "I was selfish" HE hasn't learned what happened, exactly. He hasn't looked deeper than that at all. And once 'the coast was clear' changes needed to be made-other than keeping his nose clean- and we can move on and coast back into the old way of doing things.
So, he came home from work...took one look at me and asked what was wrong. And I took a deep breath and let him have it. Not in a yelling way, but a firm way. He didn't keep his end of the bargain. It's time he did. I've been patient. I don't want to be like we were. I don't want to have that old way of relating. We're in a new house, in a new town, he's in a new job. I want a new way of relating to each other. I don't want what we had. I want better. We are not like everyone else. We can never go back and undo what's happened. It will always be part of our history. There is always going to be a part of me that feels pain.Besides, I don't want to be the same. I'm tired. Very tired.
So, after trying to pull a bit of guilt trip ("Sometimes I wonder if we're even going to be together in 5 years"..."Why are you bringing this up again? I thought we were past this"..."I thought you finally trusted me again") he agreed to start going to a mens group called "Battleground" at a church we've been visiting. I'm praying for God to put someone in his path that can show him HOW to be transparent with this. He also agreed to move toward counseling...I told him he has 4 weeks to find someone. I am searching for a counselor nearby who has experience in affair recovery. And I'm going to hold him to it. I can't live like this. I want better for me- for us. He's been distant since then, but I'm holding my ground. Its not my job to make him feel better about any of this. Thanks for being an encouragement. Keep on doing this very good work that you do.


wow, i'm proud of you. thanks for your kind words and i'm glad you're standing up for yourself and for the marriage. if he knows he can get away with it, he will. if he knows that you're not playing games, I'm confident he will do what he needs to do and then take action. most of the time people don't take action as they don't have the revelation to and they don't have the consequences if they don't. so i'm glad you're taking a stand. now follow through with it and take it one day at a time my friend. it's still a process. i'll be praying.

This is something I'll have

This is something I'll have to do but really don't know how. Five years after having an affair with her high school sweetheart and having to deal with that, she's in yet another affair; this time with a guy who's 15 years older. I fully believe that she thinks she holds all of the cards because of me not wanting our two kids to go through what I did growing up (my parents divorcing at a young age). On top of that, her name's on the house and with me not making all that much $$$, I really cannot afford to pay rent, child support, car note on a vehicle she drives, student loans, etc. on my current salary. She knows deep down that I'll be the one getting killed in family court while she has me subsidizing her mortgage in the form of child support and paying for any vacations she and her new boyfriend may want to take. What to do in this kind of situation???

I don't want to be in a

I don't want to be in a senario of a parent talking to a child, which is what this sounds like. " If you don't do xyz, this will be the consequence." I also know that some will consider this "controlling.". Is that ok??? I feel like I've had to mother my husband for 29 years and he has accused me of being controlling for 29 years. I wouldn't have needed to act like a mother to him if he had behaved like an adult and I wouldn't have needed to come off as controlling if he had learned to make proper choices in our marriage.

here are some resources for you...


hope those help you understand what may be needed right now.


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