Three Components of Recovery

When dealing with recovery, there are three main components which must be healed and addressed. We mistakenly think it’s just about the marriage and if we can heal the marriage, we can return to safety and security and the trauma will magically disappear.

I’ve heard it a thousand times, “we need to save our marriage, it’s all about the marriage.” The problem is, there are two other primary components which must be addressed as well, or the marriage will never truly be saved or even really safe.

The three facets are you, your spouse and then your marriage.

So often we jump to trying to restore the marriage that each spouse does not get the recovery they need personally, thus putting the whole marriage ecosystem in jeopardy. If it’s just about saving the marriage, the darkness in me will never be addressed, confronted or healed.  If it’s just about saving the marriage, then the darkness and the trauma and the pain in my betrayed spouse will never be addressed.  

How can the marriage ever be saved if one or both spouses remain in pain and trauma? It just doesn’t work.

As many of you have realized, if one spouse is stuck the marriage in many ways remains stuck. It doesn’t have to be, but many times it does. My suggestion would be to get the help YOU need to gain ground in your own recovery.  While you can feel powerless to change the situation, I would encourage you to take aggressive steps towards getting yourself healthy. Notice the word aggressive. If you feel stuck, and like the marriage is stuck and your spouse won’t take action, minor adjustments may not be enough. I’m not sure what aggressive means to you, but what I do know is that if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting.

Our tendency is to just calm things down and get into counseling and address the marriage. Here is where we often experience colossal failure. We are trying to save the marriage, but we haven’t addressed the root cause of the affair, or the residue in our spouse from the wrecking ball that showed up one day and devastated their entire life. This approach is destined for failure, and I know it personally. I hated addressing my own darkness. I wanted regularity. I wanted the old life back. I wanted to find some sort of consistency. Without getting the right kind of help, we never gained any ground. My hunch is it’s the same way with many of you.

I would highly suggest you look for the First Steps Bootcamp launching this week. The launch day is Wednesday (tomorrow) to be exact. It’s a wonderful program for both of you, or even just one spouse to take for their own necessary healing. I hope and pray you’ll give it some thought.  

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I am really looking forward

I am really looking forward to see what this boot camp will be. My biggest criticism of most affairs recovory programs are that they are so marriage recovery centered, now I say that not to condemn but to comment on I kind of know why that is. First when affairs happen the first thought people have is to find was to save the marriage. I understand this it makes complete sence if you offered a program "heal after your spouse had an affair" although there are some who would sign up most are not thinking clear enough to know that their healing has to come first it there is any hope of saving the marriage so I understand that to get the people the help they need you have to kind of start at were they are at and the try to get them to understand their need of healing in order to be able to heal the marriage. It is a shame though ecause if people understood that realign healing has to start with themselves they would really be able to heal much faster and probably stand a better chance of saving the marriage. At the begining I understood that I needed to heal and that I could not rely on an unfaithfull confused and hurting wife to bring about healing in me. I knew from the start that I needed the healing of Christ and him alone. I look back and see what he did for me there is no dout he was with me every step of the way. From the sermons to the worship songs they were all at the right time the right place for me to see his love for me was all I ever needed. I was then able to then focuse on our marriage. I remember finely starting to get to the point that I was not pretending normal. He gave me a love for my wife even more then I can ever remember. I am at a point were the most inportant thing is my wife's healing and her trust in Christ. The marriage is better but knowing my wife is healed is more inportant to me than our marriage, we can not have the marriage we should if one of us is not healed. Yes Samuel there are three healings that have to take place for a meaningful marriage to happen but the personal healing is most inportant do not forget that. If one is not healed you can never find true intimacy.

I wish my unfaithful husband

I wish my unfaithful husband would read this and see how true it is. Oh the day words like this come from his own mouth, how wonderful that would be.

Feeling stuck myself

Great article, just had this heated discussion with my wife. I need to work on me too, not just for the sake of the marriage.

boot camp

I went through the 7 days - some didn't pertain to me as we are well past discovery and our children are grown. However, there was not a lot mentioned about HOW to heal for the BS. Sure, BS should forgive but how? Is some of this simply a decision? How does the BS get past insecurity and the trauma that comes with being betrayed..
There was talk about honesty and it happening again. It did happen again. Both times caught. So, how do I forgive that?

I don't know if this helps,

I don't know if this helps, but I am currently going through beyond ems and harboring hope. I am learning a lot about forgiveness and the two different types. We are 3 months post discovery, and I am still not at the point of initial forgiveness yet. I know one day I will get there, but not yet. Part of my grieving process is to count my losses and count the costs, so I know what I am actually forgiving. A blanket "I forgive you" can sometimes be cheap forgiveness. I am still untangling myself from all this ugliness and still realizing the costs I am paying for my husband's unfaithfulness. I think once I really understand what the costs are for me, then can I really forgive. That is just my interpretation and what I am going by, but I hope that is helpful to you. I don't think it's a quick one and done type of forgiveness...

how do i forgive that...

bigsix, thanks for the comment. i'm not sure what you mean you went through the you did all 7 days today or? I'm not following. in terms of forgiveness, forgiveness is always a decision. You'll most likely NEVER feel like forgiving your spouse. but as we get older, love is a decision and forgiveness is a decision. it's giving up all hope of having a better past. it's all about helping YOU heal, not your spouse. the trauma associated with it though, takes expert care. the harboring hope course is a great course to consider and there is one for men. it's a go at your own pace course not a group. forgiveness doesn't excuse their behavior or condone it either, but it means you'll not remain a prisoner to it. how long ago was the 2nd time of the affair? have you read the article 'the truth about trust?' it's a great article on how to regain trust, over time, through honesty, vulnerability and commitment. the trauma really does require some expert help. the haboring hope course will help, but if you're dealing with a trauma that's affecting you physically, you may think about seeing if you have ptsd? i hope this helps, and i'm happy to continue the dialogue if you'd like.

What is Forgiveness?

We're three plus months past our horrific Dday and working hard on rebuilding not only our marriage but ourselves. My husband has done more work on himself these past months than I thought possible. He really wants to make amends. He believes I've forgiven him because I let him come back home. But really, what is forgiveness? My pain is still deep, my emotional flooding daily. We started the boot camp and it is helping but it has made us both realize we need someone to talk to who has been where we are. Have I really forgiven him? He never asked...just said he was sorry. Do I need him to ask before I feel I've forgiven him? Really...what is forgiveness.

I am in a Harboring Hope

I am in a Harboring Hope group and we just went over forgiveness in detail. There's also access to some audio clips from Leslie and John. Our Dday was mid-June, ad we did EMS weekend too. For me personally, I am not at true forgiveness yet. Part of what we went over was that it may be helpful to know the cost of what you are actually forgiving. At EMSW we learned that forgiveness is the acceptance by the hurt spouse of accepting the consequences of the affair sin. For me, there is a difference between knowing in my head the consequences I must suffer v. actually experiencing and living through them. So I am still in the process of realizing the costs of forgiveness and the losses I must grieve. I'm hoping by the end of year 1 or 2 I will be able to truly forgive, but I'm allowing myself the grace to take time to process and do that, so I can forgive completely and absolutely... just my personal experience.


Forgiveness is not cheap or easy. Trying to forgive too soon after dday is DENIAL. God never said when. He said to forgive, but for humans, it's a long process. Can you imagine what we would miss with instantaneous forgiveness?

The betrayer might not look at themselves enough to see that NOONE made them have an affair or series of affairs, NOONE can make them feel good ALL the time, etc. The betrayed might not get to fully grieve, to truly see their life was a lie, they may have gave up themselves for the children, work, or the other spouse...the list goes on.

I don't believe in instant forgiveness. Its freedom from having to hate the spouse or affair partner, it's freedom from suicidal/homicidal ideations, it's freedom from having to continue to remind oneself/spouse of the affairs in a demeaning way.

I believe freedom means no longer being held back by the consequences of your spouse’s choices upon you. We get to put the hurt done to us on God’s scale of justice...and He balances them out.

I am not there yet. But, I keep moving, I don’t condemn myself, and refuse to allow ANYONE to condemn me for working through forgiveness as a process.

Shame and shutdown

We are 16 months in and he has so much shame that I can't get him to help me heal. I need words to help me wrap my head around the affair that was so out of character for him to have. He will answer most questions with a yes or no but the shame is overwhelming and he cannot follow through with any reassurance. I need the words that help me to know I am special and loved. The words that lead me to believe once again that I am his one true love and his forever. How do I get him to stop shutting down? How do I help him heal when he withdraws?
We are signed up for an ems weekend and when we discuss our goals mine is for the two of us to find healing while his goal is to save the marriage. I don't want to save this marriage, this one is full of pain. Pain we have both inflicted on each other. I want healing and then explore the possibility of recommitting to each other. I went through the bootcamp material (I did more than one day on a few days), it was helpful but I still feel stuck.

Gail I do not think anyone

Gail I do not think anyone can give you the words to say thar will wash away his shame and help him say the things you want to hear so you can feel safe enough to commit you heart fully to him again. I am 13 months out from finding out about my wife's last affair and 11 months from finding out about her online affair. That said I found healing not from her but Christ. Like your husband in a away my wife shuts down and will not talk. Will not even answer questions about what happened. From the start she has only said one thing that she did not want a divorce. We did do EMSO I guess you can say but she put so little effort into it seemed to have been of so little help almost seemed pointless, even started doing married for life but again she has put in so little efforf we have stopped until that time that she is willing to put the time in. I do feel she has fallen in love with me again I never did stop loving her I was not real good at showing that before but have made big changes in that changes that have been a long time in coming. I say this because I feel that it comes down to us the betrayed to have to make the decision take a chance on weather or not to risk getting hurt again or not. I decided very early on that I was going to lover her the way I should have weather or not she responded or not. I was good for me to do this in a way it helped me heal. I was not depending on her actions they could not be trusted. I my case she may hace been willing to try because I would have kicked her out of the house and kept the kids she would have then had to go out find a job a place to live and support herself. So if I did not decide to go all in very early on I could have fixated on things like that and not spent the time instead doing the things I needed to do to heal me and work on becoming a better husband. All of which also helped me heal because I had a task to do and not spend to much time on what if's.I found healing in about 5 months and our marriage is batter then it has been for a long time we still have things to work on. An she needs healing and that is one of my main goals right now even more the our marriage we can not have an intimate meaning marriage if one of us is not healed.

David, thank you

Thank you for sharing your experience I truly appreciate it. I think I am having a hard time going "all in" right now. We both have so much healing to do. I guess if we focus on healing the rest might follow.

God bless,

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