Is Your Spouse Merely 'Checking Boxes' in Recovery Work?

Samuel discusses the effect of going through the motions in recovery for both spouses.

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he choose not to change

What's sad for me is my unfaithful husband is just pretending to be checking boxes, but in reality he just chooses to fool and lie to me and does not want to change or recover.

sorry to hear that.

Wendy76, very sorry my friend.  what types of consequences are you administering since he's continuing to do that?  

are you doing anything to take some of the power back for you?

Another great vlog. What

Another great vlog. What kind of consequences do you recommend? We have done in home and out of home separation already.


hi there terms of consequences, it depends on what's he unwilling to do work, or is he still acting out or?  if you'll provide more background i'll see what i can speak to. 


Yes, he is still acting out.

Yes, he is still acting out. He refuses to do EMSO, drags his feet on MC, attend IC 2x a month with a therapist who has reportedly told him that I act like his parent and this has become his justification for his affair. I have expressed my concern about the his IC but he refuses to see anyone else. He claims he has read two books on recovering from affairs - I don't believe it. He read two articles on AR about ambivalence. He tried to sign up for H4H and it was full (verified this) but he did not try to sign up again or talk about it. We separated for 3 months - I moved out. I have kicked him two times - he returns without asking. Basically, he is in the mindset of no one is going to tell me what to do. No he is not safe. I am attending counseling weekly and meeting with my lay minister weekly. I completed HH. I know I have done everything I can at this point except completely let go.

sounds like...

perhaps it does sound like you need to let go.  i bet, if you pull back and no longer attempted to get him to do this kind of work, he woud end up doing it.  he wants to be able to do it himself and use his pride and his self sufficiency as a basis for doing it.  typically, in these situations, when the betrayed spouse pulls back and no longer chases him or pursues them, they then will start to do work.  if they don't, then it's pure confirmation that it may be time to walk away and be done as you've tried everything.  this is a high stakes poker game.  if i were you, i'd completely pull back and no longer pursue him, chase him, mom him (joking but you get what i mean) and leave him to himself.  i would also consider separating again under the intent to divorce soon as you can't keep doing what you're doing and expect a different result.  i would communicate to him that you need space and that obviously something isn't working and you don't want to keep spinning your wheels .  then put some space between you two, but do not reach out.  don't keep initiating contact him or talking to him.  start to see what life will be like without him and without the relationship.  it may convince you, that you still have some fight in you for him and the marriage, or it may help you to see that your heart is done and it's time to officially move on. 


Thank you so much Samuel. I

Thank you so much Samuel. I deeply appreciate your response and wisdom. Maybe it is my pride or something else, but I am unwilling to be the one that leaves again. I am on the verge of not being able to work (I work as a counselor) b/c of my own pain seeping in. So financially not sure I could leave again. In home separation, yes. I have asked to talk about it - he said yes, then nothing. So for the time being, I am being cordial but I am not initiating any conversations, etc. It is just too draining to continue to initiate and get nothing back. I am trying to prepare myself for the end - I am watching videos on here about separation and divorce, work in my co-dependency book, etc. Any other resources on preparing for the end, I welcome.

Yes, I had to ask him to

Yes, I had to ask him to leave the house so he can focus on his own recovery. In a way, it made me free from torturing my mind with what he might be doing when I'm not at home. By doing this I have realized that my priority should have been focused on God, instead of my husband. I truly appreciate what you do. I thank God for you and Samantha, both of you have been a such blessing to me.

that's some great insight right there Wendy76

thank you so much for such great feedback and kind words.  it's so encouraging to hear that.  it's great you're seeing clearly now what your priorities should be and how to walk it out.  thanks for being here and watching.  take care and take it slow and steady, one day at a time.  



I can’t find help if I don’t ask

Samuel, thank you for your videos. I thank your wife even more. You may not be doing these videos or her if she didn’t have the courage to stand. I am a betrayed husband. Long story as short as possible. we started young but have been married 17 years now. she has been cheating for 16 of those years. I have lost count of how many d-days I have had and how many different versions of each story I have heard. That I know of there has been 10 other men involved. 6 of which I would have taken a bullet for and considered my close circle. I have lost count of how many counselors we have seen. I have been in individual counseling for 18 months on my own now. I have gotten some healing. AKA I don’t want to hunt these men down as badly as I use to anymore. Lol. Either way I am stuck. I am a successful business owner and thrive away from home but at home this is something I can’t fix and it’s tearing me apart. We have 3 boys and due to the environment in the home it is affecting them a lot more than I want to believe. They are 17,13 and 10. They are not fools and read between the lines. I’ve been watching your stuff for about three weeks now, am working through Bootcamp and am on the list for harboring hope. Please help. The daily question of am I crazy for staying and the follow up question of if I go how will deal with the punishment she will throw at me haunts me. Thanks Samuel.

hey brother....

man, you've been through it.  so glad you're on the site, are watching and reached out.  so how can i help?  I didn't understand the exact question(s) i can answer for you but will certainly answer it.  you can also email me if easier at


Confused by seemingly repent behavior

Hi Samuel, I have appreciated so much your insight. If my husband had an ‘unfaithful twin’ it would be you. I hope that isn’t offensive. I say that because as I listen to all parts of your testimony, (and it’s so helpful when you do each of your videos, that you insert how you were & your tendencies-it’s an ongoing testimony with each video.) I can identify with the behaviors & excuses you say you used to have because they are the same as my husbands. I’ve read all the comments to this video (I appreciate that you respond to them) but I still feel my ongoing question is not being answered. This is it: What advice do you give to wives who’s husband has never initiated any sort of recovery work from the beginning...even tho I’ve recommended throughout the last 18 months (d-day). He didn’t think he needed couples counseling (or even counseling for himself) didn’t think he needs accountability from other men, has never had any transparency with me & has completely disconnected from me (since the beginning) He just wants things to get back to normal without doing any sort of rebuilding. Here’s the kicker tho-he is NOT still acting out. He shut down his relationship with the AP immediately & got a different phone number. He’s been truthful about all aspects of his affair. He’s always open to answer questions. He never minds me looking at his phone & I never feel he is hiding anything. I think he thinks that with Gods help he’s got this. I’ve been so confused by this behavior. He hasn’t acted out by having another affair but I’ve watched him struggle with lust issues from the beginning and he’s confessed to watching a few inappropriate movies when I’ve been out of town (twice in the last 18 months.) This whole time I’ve tried working on myself- thinking it was me just not forgiving, but I’m starting to notice a pattern. Something is missing and I’m not sure what to do. I’ve been open & honest with him the whole 18 months about how he’s hurting me by disconnecting & that I need him to be present with me but it goes in one ear and out the other. I’m on the verge of leaving him unless I get some more understanding of whats going on & what to do. We have lots of little kids and I really really do not want this to be part of their journey (they love their daddy & he is an amazing father) but I’m so broken & hurting and want to do what’s best for the future of our marriage-not just the kids protection being the only reason I stay in this situation. Thank you again for your openness & support-I can’t tell you how helpful you’ve been in helping me get inside my husbands head.

hi there...thank you for posting....

so a few observations for you.  and, most of all thank you for watching and posting.  

1. if he has not done enough that you can overlook it and move on, then i think you have to decide that what he's done is not sufficient and that things will need to change, or else x, y and z.  this article will explain more:  you never want to make a bluff, or draw a line that you're not wiling to enforce or it never works and only reinforces there is nothing to fear if he does not cooperate with you.  you're probably going to have to tell him that you need more recovery work and healing and if NOT then this will be the outcome. 

2. if he is not going to do that work, I would continue to focus on your own work and your own side of the street and make sure you're seeing things with absolute clarity on leaving him.  that may be the piece that wakes him up unfortunately...leaving him or a legal separation.  threats with no consequences never work. they only reinforce that he doesn't need to do anything as you're in a mood, not a conviction.  

some would say, maybe he's done enough and you need to ask yourself, if he's done enough that you can heal and still have a decent marriage, of if he has not?  if you don't feel he's done enough and you can't get past it and move on and be content at the level of work he's done, then i fear, perhaps you do need to take action.  

i hope those help and work well for you. just my .002 cents.  i know you're frustrated. it makes total sense to me.  

So I'm not the only one that feels he's just checking boxes

Thank you for this! My husband has been doing some recovery and is so quick to say he doesn't have time for more. No time for SA books, no time for weekly couples therapy (we go every other week and it took a year to get him to do that much), therapy homework is done the day it's due during a lunch break, no time to watch videos like these or do any individual therapy to get to root issues. Although the acting out has stopped (as far as he's told me), he is missing a heart piece. I've described it this exact way - it's like he's just checking boxes and I don't want to give him any more boxes to check if his heart won't connect with it. Defensiveness is common. Even though I try so hard to come gently, he turns any dissatisfaction or request for more back on me and is very offended that I'm being so insensitive. I have worked very hard to focus on my own healing and not meddle in his journey because I think a resentful yes (because he knows that's what he's supposed to say) is worse than a no. But this is a marriage! At some point I need the temperature of our relationship to change. I've been in limbo for two and a half years, waiting. He tries to convince me I'm just impossible to please, he's doing enough, and I need to just trust him and we'd be fine. I know he's operating from shame so it makes sense, but I need him to wake up. I think I'm finally strong enough to say clearly what I need and separate until he's ready to get serious. It's so hard, though, because he's in denial and will see my actions as a gross over reaction. Do you think an intensive could work if he just goes because I want him to? Is there a chance separation wouldn't even wake him up?


honeybee, yes, an intensive would be excellent.  in many ways, something needs to change in him.  he seems too busy to make you a priority as he doesn't understand that doing recovery work is making you a priority in his life.  the simple truth is, he's too busy.  something's wrong.  it's not about being impossible to please as much as it's about him being a safe person for you and your healing.  i would definitely suggest the ems weekend, as he needs someone who is a safe, objective third party who can say things to him he won't hear from you and won't get from you.  he CAN be unlocked, but it won't be from you.  if you do an intensive, and he then later still won't do these things, then yes a separation would probably be key.  but for now, i think there is a huge disconnect in his ability to 'get it' and get 'these truths' from you as he's diminishing them as they are coming from you and not an expert third party who can get through to him. 


Saw/heard my own situation;my heart sank and lifted at same time

I found this site a few days ago and started poking around yesterday and listening to the videos. I am EXTREMELY fortunate in that my situation isn't one where it got to the point of a physical affair, I stumbled across messages and explicit/intimate photos on my husband's phone in his messages and an "Ashley Madison" profile he claimed he doesn't remember setting up..From very early in my relationship with my husband I expressed to him how important honesty is to me (as a result of having a lying/cheating father who destroyed my mother's heart). What I didn't know (and he hadn't yet recognized for himself) was that his own childhood issues created a situation where he had learned to lie about EVERYTHING as a self-protective mechanism.
In this video, I was struck by/could relate to what Samuel said about ; there's not much pain that's worse than having been betrayed by your spouse and the idea of appreciating the information, but not applying it because...well, that's not my situation and I can't believe they're so angry because I only did _____ and if my spouse wasn't the way they were.... This is ALL so much us. No, he didn't get to the point of the physical affair and says he never would...although he also said he'd never do anything like this either so that's not much comfort...When he opens his mind he recognizes how (to me) this is still cheating, even if not as damaging as a physical affair. I don't know how long he has been lying and hiding things from me, but I started finding evidence of things almost 5 years ago and have been trying everything I could think of to get it to stop and between his continued behavior of lies and deception, our fights, lack of empathy, my not feeling a priority and then this most recent issue of "sexting" (for lack of a better word) with a college heart is pretty crushed and my mind has finally told me it's time to move on.
Yesterday, I sent him an email after listening to two of the other videos on this site (I hadn't come to this one, yet) and told him that I love him and I want to support him in dealing with his issues and work with him on ours so we can have a future together, but it's now up to him. That I am stepping aside and doing what I need for myself. That is EXTREMELY difficult for me as I know it is for many people who use this site. I want to do whatever I can to get it, to make him see and work. I want to threaten and manipulate..., but none of that has ever worked and even though I knew it on my own before listening to these videos, it was hearing Samuel talk about things like control, healing ourselves, etc and how important it is that like for an addict, the decision and effort needs to come from the individual.
So....I am hopeful something clicks. That he peruses this website and listens to THIS video in particular as I feel he too will see/hear us and our situation here. No, he didn't get to the physical affair part and is probably lying to himself that he wouldn't have, but to me this is still the most painful and difficult thing I've ever had to deal with and maybe, just maybe hearing someone else talk about this things will help him to wake up....and if not? I am working on resources to heal myself one way or another and will be able to move on...without him.
Thank you for this resource.

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