Your Actions Determine the Future

Today’s post is directed towards the unfaithful. I’m certainly hopeful the betrayed will shout a big ‘Amen’ to my thoughts today, or even show this to their unfaithful spouses. Having been an unfaithful myself, believe me when I say there are no stones being thrown at you today. I’d only be throwing them at myself as well, and to go a step further, it would be completely self-righteous to lay judgment on someone who is just like me, an unfaithful.

A concept that’s hard to really grasp for some is the reality that our actions (the unfaithful) at some level will determine what the future looks like.  Quite often I’ll ask a betrayed spouse this question: “Are you open to the restoration of the marriage?” The answers are all over the board, but one thing is pretty sure: most, if not all, are watching to see the actions of the unfaithful to then determine if they want to save the marriage or are even at the very least ‘open’ to the possibility of it.

Yes, it’s a bit of a ‘wait and see’ approach, but who wants to open themselves up to the worst kind of violation all over again? Who wants to subject themselves to repeat cheating over the next decade?  Who wants to reengage emotionally mentally and even physically with someone who is unsafe and offers nothing more than “it’s over, move on” to base the future on?

My wife Samantha was emphatic that she wanted to see how things went and then make a decision. She couldn’t give me an answer as to whether or not she wanted to save the marriage. Internally she did, but she wasn’t saying that to me for fear that I would bully her into recovery. At the onset of it all, she was merely open to it, but it was going to be the way I lived my life now, in front of her and the kids, which would help her be won over towards restoration or be led towards divorce.

Now I know what you may be thinking. This isn’t about being a doormat and if you’ll simply kiss up to your hurt spouse and be a bit of a droid of some sorts, then sure, why wouldn’t they want to save the marriage. Free slavery, right? After all, they’ll just abuse me and make me pay the rest of my life for this mistake. Seldom do I find betrayed spouses that genuinely feel that vengeful for long, and even fewer in number are the spouses who want to punish their unfaithful mate after they’ve received expert help to piece through their emotions, feelings and comprehension of it all. Overall, your betrayed spouse hasn’t made it their life’s work to punish you; they just want their life back.

What they’re desperately wanting to see here (and feel free to help me out and chime in below, betrayed spouses) is to see that you’re safe to give redemption and restoration a shot. How you begin to live now will give credence and indication to safety or lack thereof. How you handle therapy and discussions and how you show empathy and humility in light of the entire discovery process will pay dividends for you or against you and your potential restoration bank account. How can you expect your spouse to decide on the marriage when they don’t even know who their spouse is anymore? It’s the simple truth: how you live now and in the coming days, weeks, and months will either make your spouse feel safe and open to moving towards you or will make them pack their bags. While it’s no simple fix, and while it’s not a two-step formula in the least, it is true that as you display empathy and safety as a new-found revelation and lifestyle instead just a momentary time of clarity, will create space in your partner‘s heart to pursue restoration. 

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From your mouth to my husband's ears...

I feel like a broken record when I tell my Unfaithful husband "to embrace me in my pain even if it's painful for you to hear!" So many times I keep it bottled up until the children fall asleep only to have it explode onto him and he is cowering and cringing pushing me away and all i want from him is to embrace me and say I'm so sorry I did this to you. He only wants more space which is how he ended up taking it with his AP in the first place. We are at a year out from D-day and about 9 months in reconciliation after being separated for 4 months. I've done harboring hope, but he hasn't done everything I feel like he needs to do to move forward in this healing process. I will send him this article and hope he hears it. I feel like we need a referee in order to even hear each other's hearts right now. So hard to not live in fear! Thanks for your insight and for addressing the unfaithful who need to stop cowering and have the integrity to be accountable for the damage you have created.

This is true

My spouse's actions were to lie for 20 months after confrontation--to me, therapists, family. He was a coward when it came to coming clean and he deceived so many people into believing him -- except me. Then when I received a "package" in the mail with evidence that left no doubt as to how truly deep and long the scope of both his affairs actually were, I had to start all over in my recovery. It has been 6 weeks since DDay 2. He is being the husband I had always hoped for, showing remorse, trying to break contact with the AP (which is difficult because he works with her), trying to understand my bouts of depression, insecurity, anger, etc.....at least, I THINK he is. I have to be honest and say that because of his actions for the past 20 months, any trust that had been started to build has been totally nuked. I have given him six months to quit just telling me and SHOW ME that he is sincere; however, anyone can "act" repentant for that long and then go back to the AP. Since this last affair is the second time with the AP, I know that he has an emotional connection that cannot and will not be broken. I think a small part of his heart loves her and I can't do anything about that. It will always hurt me. I no longer know the man I married 36 years ago and I fear that I will never be able to know him completely again. He lost a piece of my heart with his lies and his cowardice at telling the truth from the first confrontation and his watching me in pain for 20 months without doing anything to help. I am trying to do what God is telling me, which is to still keep trying to reconcile, but truthfully, my heart just is too weary and I am so tired of trying.

I did not use the wait and

I did not use the wait and see approach. I went all in at the start, I knew the risk I was taking the potential for more pain. I knew the struggles going on in my own mind. But I just felt that it was worth the risk. We were just a month and a half shy of our 25 wedding anniversary I had already invested so much of my life in the marriage I had to do my best to try all I could to save it. I never once thought about revenge or to lash out I wanted to rebuild not tear down and throw away. A very good friend of mine has a saying that he brings up tome every time he is looking to make some big purchase. Risk vs. Reward it did play a part in my decision. I risked the potential pain for what I saw as a potential reward of a better marriage. It was not even close in my mind I never hesitated when she had said that she did not want a divorce that was all I needed to risk the pain I would or could have to go through.
I wish in some ways my wife would have taken a more active role in our and my healing but then again because there was no help from her I did not depend or look to her for my healing and in that way I feel I healedmmuch faster, especially listening to the struggles the others were going through in our EMSO calls. I would share that what I have heard from others is that for the most part revenge is not the desire of the faithful restoration is. I do not know why so many of the unfaithful act as if that were the case. Is it the things they maybe still hiding that creates a real fear? Is it the fact that they still struggle with the feelings for the other that they try to hide that gives them fear. Is it their own thoughts of how they would react if the rolls were switched that have them fearful. As for this one I can nust say that for me before disclosure when I had suspicions I thought I would dump her and move on no questions asked but when it happened that was just the opposite of what I wanted to do. It is amazing how things change when it is real and just not a thought. We do need to find better ways to honestly be able to share what is truly going on in our hearts.
David

Words and actions don't match...

I too went all in at the beginning. I had told myself I'd never stay with a man who betrayed me. I saw how infidelity tore my mother's life apart, both my aunts' lives; and when I grew up, I sat in a chair next to my best friend in front of her computer as she found evidence to prove her husband had cheated, and I was the one who held her hair back when the shock launched her into the bathroom to vomit and cry. I told myself I would leave and not look back if I ever found proof of my husband's affairs. And yet, when my turn came, I was swallowed whole by a vortex of pain, confusion, and fear. I had so many emotions, so many thoughts at once, but not once did I seriously think of starting the divorce procedures and even less going through with any of it.

I fought my husband when he refused to even admit the truth, even when we had to go be tested, after my doctor have me a tentative diagnosis of a common STI. He spent months lying to protect his AP, blaming me for every negative feeling he could remember, and even concocted a few dozen false accusations to throw my way to justify himself. I forgot that I'd sworn to protect my dignity through it all and basically humiliated myself, surrendered much of my anger from the first few weeks to get him to see the truth. I may have done the wrong thing, giving him so much of myself over the past 15 months since D-Day. It cost me my health, my self esteem, two years of my career, my family, my self respect, and it almost cost me my life.

Currently, he likes to boast that he's a changed man, that he cares about me and my well-being, that he's there for me to listen and comfort me, but the reality is that his promises fall very short of what I experience on a regular basis. I have ptsd and I get regular panic attacks and some days triggers are so bad that I stop functioning for hours. Like someone else said above, all I want is an embrace, reassurance, understanding, acknowledgement of the pain I feel, and sorrow on his part. Often, that sorrow I wish he'd feel is just sorrow that he feels together with me. I don't want him to live in guilt about his betrayal, but I really hope he's as brokenhearted about the price I've had to pay for his lies and disloyalty as I am. I want to feel like I matter to him, like it matters that I'm in pain. Instead I get defensive, annoyed, curt reminders that it's over, it's been over a year, I'm doing this to myself, and lots of unfriendly, cold posture and distance from him. We've had the same discussion over this maybe 50 times since d day, and at some point he even wrote himself a memo with a list of things I wish he would do. He did so while angry and ranting about me not helping him"act the way I want him to".

Am I expecting something excessive or unreasonable? It is actually his lack of empathy and lack of sorrow that have started to wear away my desire to even stay in the marriage, let alone give him the benefit of the doubt. I feel as if I may as well be alone and go through my recovery without him for all the support I receive from him.

ptsd and moving forward

NoveNotturna I'm so glad you posted. you've been through hell and still are going through it, it would seem. it's only been a year if i have it right. the first year for us was bloody to say the least. what sort of help have you been able to receive? has an expert gotten involved at any level? it's far fetched to think he will ever get it and make the deep profound connection you'd like him to have with empathy, humility and safety without that. in fact without that sort of expert's help to connect the dots emotionally for him, I don't know that he'll be able to get there. if he's had an expert's help and still is not there yet, take heart, he can still get there. it's a process indeed. at a year, i think i was much like him, still not altogether there yet. yes i was sorry and yes i was broken and yes i was making changes, but i wasn't there yet. i really wasn't. i think at about two years or so i was really gaining momentum for sure, but at a year i was much like what you're husband is sounding like. i think more outside help will help keep him heading in the right direction. without the right kind of help though it's highly likely he will fade towards the 'get over it it's been over a year' mentality.
now, in terms of the ptsd what have you done to get treatment? it's a real assessment and it needs to be cared for or else you'll remain stuck, and continue to flood in an instant. i've seen varying degrees of it. Samantha had a form of early onset of ptsd for sure. it got better with time, treatment and help from Rick. but she was in a tough spot and there is no reasoning with ptsd. there is no making ptsd go away by white knuckling it or sucking it up as they say. it is paralyzing and it also makes things harder than it needs to be. are you familiar with what they call 'emdr treatment?' i can put you in touch with a therapist that can assist you with it, but i'd highly recommend it. i'd also recommend considering a light form of medication if you're not already trying it. ptsd is something that I do not mess around with as it's highly toxic to you, the marriage, your spouse and your recovery.
your turn. i'd love to hear your thoughts to this....and again, thanks for the comment. i'm glad you reached out. you haven't humiliated yourself. it takes FAR MORE COURAGE to give the marriage and your spouse the chance at restoration than it does to say 'forget it, we're done and cut ties and move on. ' the fact that you've given it a chance is not humiliating...it's brave, courageous and to be applauded.

what we've done...

Thank you, Samuel, for your reply. It has been a hellish year and three months since d-day, and a year and a week since he made the actual confession (initially, he lied about who it was when he couldn't deny being unfaithful once I found out he'd given me an STI). He insisted my accusations against his real AP were unjust and arbitrary, that she was a kind and sweet innocent I was targeting out of spite and unfounded suspicion. So for the next three months, I had constant discovery about more and more shameful things he'd done. I felt like I was constantly having the ground disintegrate beneath me and I'd hit a new low almost every day. And then the harassment from the AP started and didn't end until he wrote her an email threatening to go to her employer (she works for a religious organization that has strict moral contracts) and to her husband to expose her behavior if she didn't stop all contact with our family.

Since, we've had two marriage counselors, three, if you count our priest. I had to take part in intensive out patient group therapy during the first few weeks, then I've been following up with two separate therapists and one psychiatrist because of the severe depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, and come to find now, it's ptsd. So I've been placed on medication to stabilize me and allow me to sleep a bit.

I also took part in Harboring Hope this summer which greatly helped me to regain enough confidence to return to school after having to bail last year in the wake of this mess.

I have heard of emdr, I know our counselor is licensed for it, and I'm in touch with many health professionals in my area due to school. I asked my psychiatrist about it, but he said he wanted us to give the meds a chance to work first.

I've tried to get him interested in either EMSO, or Hope for Healing, but he says it's not necessary, that he knows what went wrong before and that he won't allow it again. I also tried to persuade him to go for personal counseling to get to the bottom of his issue, because although he claims he has only had extramarital sex with two different women in the 20 years of our marriage, he has been involved in countless episodes of flirting or sneaking around with female friends and strangers alike, and emotional affairs with some of his female co-workers. All this while at the same time verbally and emotionally abusing me and subjecting me to almost complete neglect, unless he couldn't get what he wanted elsewhere.

To me, there is something completely wrong with his ability to commit emotionally and physically to our marriage, and I fear that it will just rear its ugly face again if he continues to deny the problem. Our current counselor isn't too keen on touching any subject that relates to the past, my trauma related to it, or anything that remotely offends his (my husband's) sensibility, because I shouldn't make him feel guilty by rubbing things in his face. The only topics she encourages are what's happening today, or what good things he has done that I'm somehow failing to see, which is actually a fallacy since I do make it a point to give him credit when he does something kind or loving. Meanwhile, I'm still emotionally abandoned during my difficulties and I'm losing steam for this fight...

Each time I'm rejected in the middle of a flood episode, I feel exactly as I did at the beginning, when he'd told me that my crying face only made him want to leave me because it reminded him of how much he hated me for trying to control him and come between him and his friends. He may not say that words now, and may sometimes allow me to hug him and cry on his shoulder, but he's extremely stiff, huffs, rolls his eyes or groans with distaste. The look in his eyes is still the same, though... And for that reason, I've begun to hide my breakdowns from him, just so I don't have to see that look in his eyes, because it hurts worse than whatever trigger had just set me off.

I feel your pain NoveNotturna

I too have been diagnosed with PTSD from the trauma of the discovery of my Husband's infidelity a little over a year ago. We had separated at which time he pursued his AP further until he woke up to the realization that he didn't want to scar his sons, we have 3 and the youngest is 5 oldest 12. I tell you it's been harder during this reconciliation and recovery period than anything I've ever endured. The insecurity, the lack of trust, the lack of love, the lack of respect on both sides. It's as if he blames me for his bad choices and i don't understand how guilt can make someone act so hatefully towards the one they've hurt the most.
Ive had to rely on antidepressants, prayer and meditation and lots of support from my girlfriends. I wonder sometimes if it would be better to start over new with someone completely new and fresh, but I know because of the children I will always have to deal with him. I know that i will never be apart from this person whom I need to let go and forgive completely if we are to continue iinto a new kind of marriage. I've had to stop being sad and angry and just accept. It's the hardest thing i've had to do... to harness these overwhelming emotions and pain and transform them into something that will help me and my family more in the end.
I hope that you can fid that space where you can feel the healing and separate yourself from his reactions. I've had to learn to stop relying on his reactions for validation. That's the co-dependence that i realize had kept us shackled to the unhealthy behaviors. Love thy Self and he will learn how to love you.
I pray you are having a better day and will continue to have more better days than bad ones. I think we need to stop being reminders of their failures and start being the embodiment of hope and future joy and happiness. I know so HARD to do when you are in so much pain.

all very tough indeed

nove, i'm sorry. that's painful to read and even more painful to go through I'm quite sure. i'm so sorry he's that disengaged from what you're feeling. harboring hope is a wonderful program so i'm glad that helped at least some and was able to provide some insight for you into moving forward. its unfortunate he's acting like that. have you read this article called how to get your mate to cooperate? i would read it and see what you think in terms of using it to get him to cooperate and take action in a healing protocol: https://www.affairrecovery.com/dealing-infidelity-how-get-your-mate-coop... the fact is, people usually only come up for air and want to change at the threat of loss or consequences. do you think you have any leverage to get him to take action? maybe the ems weekend so you both can get help. it's very common for a betrayed spouse to deal with ptsd and i know the therapists at the ems weekend are trained in emdr and ptsd as well. that may be what you need to crack open the vault so to speak and see if you can get some forward movement? without that sort of an intervention, and doing what your doing now with the counselors you seem to be seeing, i would have to say i think you're in for more of what you're already experiencing which i know is not good for you or for him. im sorry it's so painful for you. i do believe there is hope for sure and I do believe there is the potential for change, but not without taking action like what i'm recommending....what do you think?

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