Monthly Archives: November 2010

Post your questions here!

We have a new service here at Affaircare–think of it as a benefit we offer freely for any of our loyal readers/friends/clients!  Post your questions here or on our Affaircare Facebook page or email us at either affaircare@gmail.com and if you give us your email address, we’ll send you a personal answer on Fridays!


So if you have any of these questions…let us know!


“How do we survive an affair?”
“How do I end the affair I’m in?”
“What can I do to end my spouse’s affair?”
“How do you get over an emotional affair?”
“What are some signs of an affair?”
“He/She does this or that?  Could that be an affair?”
“How do I forgive him/her after having an affair?”
“Can pastors have affairs?”
“What is an emotional affair?  Is THIS an emotional affair?”
“Why do women/men cheat?”


So leave a comment with your email address and your question–and on Fridays we’ll email you with your personal response.



Advertisements

A warrior for godly marriages

It is an exhausting position to be on the front lines of the battle for marriages, especially as a pro-marriage coach this day-and-age.  Unfortunately we live in an era that has not taught people how to be married or how to honor their promises.  Doing what “makes you feel good” is considered noble, and the pursuit of happiness is put ahead of doing the right thing.  To me, it sometimes feels as if we are swimming upstream, trying to teach couples one thing while Hollywood, the news, and the media are telling them that infidelity is in our DNA or that marriage is becoming obsolete!  


Being a marriage coach is not a popular career.  There are lots of people out there committing adultery, having emotional affairs, or being financially unfaithful…and our job as coaches is to identify where they are today (no matter how ugly the truth may be), help them identify where they want to be, develop steps to get to where they want to be, and then hold them accountable for actually doing the work!  People feel good when they are unfaithful so they don’t want it pointed out to them that it’s wrong and they should stop.  Other people don’t like the idea that we’re not licensed by the state (like a PhD or a LCSW), but as life coaches and nouthetic counselors, our credentiasl are in biblical marriage and reconciliation!  What we suggest usually is personal responsibility and some people would rather “blame someone else” than to have to look at themselves.  Doing the work to repair the damage is hard work, and most people would rather have the easy way out or have a microwave mentality.  The list goes on and on!  Everywhere we turn there is some resistance, some stumbling block, some temptation in our path to take us off course and off the focus of helping people reconcile their marriages. 


When I first began helping people back in 1999-2000 when my ex-husband left me and I was just learning myself, I knew then that it was absolutely my lifelong passion to work in this field.  I have been learning all I can ever since then, and knowing my personality type, I knew that it would be hard to hear of broken marriages and not “bring it home with me”–I actually care!  I am so grateful that my Dear Hubby joins me in this passion, and together we have gone through training and studied together.  We knew that there would be professional disagreement in methodology or differences of opinion–especially since the biblical view is being more and more watered down even in our churches!  But we did not know there would be daily skirmishes trying to get us off the straight and narrow track of showing people what the Bible says about marriage, encouraging them to obey God and do what He wants them to do, and teaching people “marriage basics” like husbands love your wives and wives respect your husbands.   


For that battle–the battle to keep our focus and keep coming back to helping the couples and speaking the Word of God plainly–we covet your prayers.  We need to keep reminding ourselves of the whole armor of God (Eph. 6) which will protect us from this onslaught–and we need to keep sharp “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” (Eph. 6:17b)  And with the psalmist we pray: “Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.”(Psalms:5:8)

The pastor who said quit FB or resign was involved in affairs himself. Should our past stop us from ministering?

The pastor who told his church leaders to either quit Facebook or resign their leadership posts has created a buzz again when it was discovered that the good reverend had an affair himself–with his wife and a male church assistant!  As I understand it, the threesome was ten years ago, so it predated Facebook, and even though they participated together, it would be considered sexual impurity.  Then in 2003 there was a criminal case against the male church assistant, and that is when the facts of unfaithfulness came to light.

In my article as Portland Infidelity Examiner, The Pastor, Facebook, and Threesomes,  I did examine two relevant topics that have been intertwined: Is Facebook really the CAUSE of infidelity?  Should the pastor’s past unfaithfulness make any difference today?  In summary, my conclusions are no and no!  No–Facebook does not cause infidelity and we would serve married couples MUCH more effectively by teaching them how to be faithful, how to honor their commitment, and how to affair-proof their marriages by restarting Love Kindlers and ending Love Extinguishers!  Facebook is not the CAUSE of infidelity–infidelity is a symptom of a much greater illness in the marriage.  And No–what he did in the past and repented of has been forgiven if he confessed his sin.  If it’s forgiven, it is gone and irrelevant to the topic at hand.

BUT that the concept of forgiveness brings up a really tender topic for me that I’d like to address right out loud.  One of my good friends, The Holy Handmaiden, recently wrote a post about being Inadequate, and the two of us have been going back and forth a bit about how we both feel less that suitable to do what we’ve been called to do!  Like Moses, we sort of tell God, “But…but…but  I stutter!  You can’t want ME to go talk to pharaoh!”  Of course our heads realize He is the Almighty God and He’s arranged our lives precisely so we are the vessel He can use, but when it comes time to actually do it…well it can be intimidating.  Especially in my line of work, so many times people say to me, in a somewhat ‘holier-than-thou’ tone: “How can YOU teach people about infidelity and marriage.  You were divorced!  You haven’t had a marriage that lasted for decades” and you know what?  They’re right!

Here’s the truth.  I’m no more perfect than any of you.  In fact, I can say that I’ve had times in my life when I messed up BADLY!  One of the reasons my ex and I did divorce is that I married a man who was not a Christian–mainly because he was cute and because I liked him and didn’t want God to tell me what to do!  And the price I paid for that outright disobedience was a divorce and losing my family.  I could go on and on, but I’m sure you can all identify with looking back on your life when you were ‘young and dumb’ and realizing “Oh yeah–that was wrong.” Ideally God wants us to grow up in godly households where our parents stay married,  where we learn to obey God, where we marry other Christians, and live our entire lives to His glory.  But in the USA in 2010, pretty few of us come from homes that aren’t broken; we weren’t ‘young and dumb’; we have happy, stable, committed, loving marriages; and we have served God our whole lives.  (Just a note–even MOSES didn’t meet that criteria, and I’m telling ya, God used that man!)

So I have not lived a life that pleased God.  I’ve also paid the consequences for my choices.  And you know why I am still absolutely 100% convinced that this is what God calls me to do?  Because as Christians, part of our central doctrines is Forgiveness.  Our faith recognizes that “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23) and that would include Pastor Miller’s past…and mine.  Our faith also recognizes that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just  to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)  We ALL sin!  So if we sincerely repent, ask God for forgiveness, and demonstrate a change toward godly behavior…then guess what?  It’s in the past, forgiven, and irrelevant to the matter at hand!   Yes, I suspect a person who has been happily married for decades, who understands the concepts of Love Kindlers and Love Extinguishers, and who teaches what covenant really is by their life may have a better life witness of those concepts.  After all–they’ve lived them!  But lots of people who persevere in their marriage, do so without husbands loving their wives, wives respecting their husbands, or using their marriage as a mirror of the kind of relationship the Church has with Christ too.  Living together for decades without divorcing is also no guarantee either, I’ve discovered.  Sadly, many of the people we talk to have been married 20 or 30 years or more, and if they neglect their marriage, it can still end up in divorce!

Noah got drunk and laid naked in front of everyone. Jacob got his daughter-in-law pregnant because he thought she was a hooker.  Moses, murdered a man for hitting a Hebrew.  Ruth spent the night with a man who wasn’t her husband at the place that was known for sexual immorality.  King David killed a man so he could commit adultery with his wife.  Even the apostle Paul murdered Christians before he became a Christian.  And God USED THEM because His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  2 Cor. 12:9 says “But he said to me,’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me .”  I join with the Apostle Paul in stating right out loud that I’m inadequate so that Christ’s power can rest on me..  Thankfully I serve the Lord God Almighty and He is more than adequate!

>The Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Facebook

>

Last Sunday, Reverend Cedric Miller, senior pastor of the Living Word Christian Fellowship Church in Neptune, N.J., told the leaders in his church that anyone in a leadership position and who is married and is on Facebook has to resign their church position if they do not give up Facebook.  Apparently a larger and larger portion of the counseling in the church over the past 18 months has dealt with marital problems, including infidelity, stemming from Facebook.  According to The Guardian, in the past six months, 40 of the 1,100 members of the Living Word Christian Fellowship Church has such problems, so Reverend Miller has had enough.

On YourTango, I wrote an article about this case : Does Facebook Cause Infidelity?  It’s been picked up by the AP and is even on MSNBC–so it’s national news now–but one of the things this case really pointed out to me was not one that this pastor was missing the mark and blaming the tool, but just how far the Christian Church in the USA is willing to go in order to place blame and pretend that “Infidelity doesn’t happen to us–we’re Christians.  If he/she had an affair it must be  fault nor ours.”  Just as we, as mature adults, need to be personally responsible for the choices we make–and for gaining the benefits as well as experiencing the consequences of our choices–so the Church (that is to say, the body of Christian believers) also needs to demonstrate maturity by accepting personal responsibility for NOT teaching couples how to affair-proof their marriages and what to do if your spouse *does* succumb to that temptation.   When divorce became “popular” in the 1970’s the Church had a chance to stand for godly values and say “NO!  God says that adultery is wrong and He does not tell you to end your current marriage so you can be with your lover and ‘minister together.  If you’re thinking that, it is a lie.”  In the following decades the Church had the chance to stand up and say “NO!  We will not pretend that we are immune to temptation, and when couples do try to divorce so they can continue an affair, we will apply church discipline.”  But the church (lowercase c) has become a social gathering place rather than offering right worship to God, and in an effort to get more “members” into the pews, slowly but surely we’ve allowed feminism, quickie divorces and worldly thinking about marriage to be spoken from the pulpits!   We had the chance to stand and obey, and instead we chose to worship “more members” and now we are facing the consequences of that choice.  


Church–WAKE UP!  The truth is that divorce rates among conservative Christians were significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists or Agnostics experience.   The truth is that Christianity is wearing blinders to the adultery being conducted often literally inside the church building.  Almost universally those who have a spouse commit adultery–who want to save their marriage and don’t want a divorce–turn to their church for support, encouragement and help, and are told that the Church “won’t interfere.”  Then to add insult to injury, once it’s know that your spouse is having an affair, often the loyal spouse continues to attend church in an effort to get some biblical support, and they become a pariah.  Time and again, I’ve heard horror stories of churches keeping the two adulterers because the two of them run the music ministry…or the loyal ‘stay at home’ is excommunicated and the cheating spouse is not because they are the doctor and they contribute more…or even worse, it’s not even addressed AT ALL!  There is a Single Adults ministry but nowhere for the husband to turn when he discovers his wife’s affair…and he desperately wants to learn how to save his marriage and rebuild a new, godly, loving marriage!  Marriage Basics are not taught.  Marriage Crisis is not taught.  MARRIAGE IS NOT TAUGHT. 


The time has come to stop pointing fingers at Facebook, cell phones, and lined paper and admit that WE are the sinners.  We are the ones who need to come before God, repent with a godly sorrow, change so that we live to please Him…  It’s not Facebook’s fault.  

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Truth about Sex and Infidelity

 

I’ve been studying lately about the properly place of sex in a healthy marriage and the more I study, the more I realize that our culture has SO many myths about sex that are just plain untrue, and nowhere is this more obvious than in the field of infidelilty!  There is tons of … well BALONEY… portrayed in the movies, on TV, in our advertising and even in our legal system that is just not true!  So today I wanted to write about “What is the truth about sex and infidelity?”

The first myth I want to tackle is the place of sex.  These days almost everyone, Christian and non-christian alike, views sex as a physical experience only.  Yes, it can release tension.  Yes it is a physical response our bodies have to certain stimulation.  Yes, it is involves our senses and extreme pleasure.  But Christian men are being bombarded from the youngest ages with images of “the Barbi doll” woman and told that they should control their lusts, and Christian woman are being taught that sex is siinful and nasty, and that if they were really “good Christians” they would tolerate it for the sake of having children.  It’s sad to say that I have personally witnessed young ladies being taught to use their femininity and sexuality to catch a young man, and once they are married, to use it to control him and make him jump through hoops!  Meanwhile she lets herself go and says, “How shallow is he to want to be attracted to me!  If he were a good Christian, he would love me for who I am!”  

Sex was instituted by God.  He created Adam and Eve, and He said, “This is GOOD!” so He specifically gave us this gift to enjoy.  But like many of His gifts, He told us that there is a proper time and place for sex, and that is within the confines of a committed, covenant marriage between a husband and a wife.  Any other use of the gift taints it and introduces an element of sin into the gift.  For example, God created grapes and they are good.  Grapes can be made into wine and even that is good.  He has told us when to drink wine (Ecclesiastes 10:19 says “A feast is made for laughter,wine makes life merry…”) and when not to (there are several examples of even a patriarch getting so drunk that he acted immorally).  So it’s not the grapes or the wine that’s the sin–it’s using the gift outside of proper usage and to excess. That’s also how we come up with a lot of the sexual wrongdoing today–using a gift God created for marriage outside of it’s proper usage (by HIS definition) and/or to excess.  

So myth #1–Godly Sex is not sinful.  God has given us the gift of sexual pleasure to enjoy within the boundary of a committed, covenant marriage between a man and a woman.  

From that one myth, let’s cover two or three that are related: 

Myth #2–Godly Sex is not between several partners.  Your sexuality is reserved for the ONE spouse you will be marrying.  All other variants–bigamy, polygamy or polyamory, infidelity/adultery, swinging or open marriages, lusting after others, being controlled by lust, viewing pornography for lust–are outside of the gift God gave us to enjoy, and that’s why it gets so messed up! 

Myth #3–Godly Sex is not outside of marriage.  Your sexuality is reserved for the ONE person with whom you will be entering into a lifelong covenant.  The covenant is between you and your spouse and God is the third party to the covenant.  And when two people are in a relationship that is THAT committed, then they have the gift of knowing each other intimately in every way: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  Knowing and being known–physically–is pleasurable to our senses, but that is reserved for marriage.  If you can not control yourself before marriage–what security does your spouse have that you’ll now miraculously be able to control yourself after marriage? 

Myth #3–Godly Sex is not between two men or two women.  I am not saying this to debate the whole concept of homosexuality or gay marriage or any of that.  I personally wish that they’d take heterosexual marriage away from government and the IRS too!  But that’s just me.  Anyway I look at it like this: “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” ~Romans 3:23.  Godly Sex is reserved for the ONE person with whom you will be entering into a lifelong covenant marriage, and a godly covenant marriage is between a man and a woman.  Now before we became believing Christians, maybe we were alcoholics, or doing drugs, or greedy, or vain, or had no idea how to manager our anger.  Maybe we lived a life of lust, or we were jealous, or lazy.  When we become believers I John 1:9 tells us “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  But that doesn’t change the fact that God made sexuality with limits: it’s within the confines of a committed, covenant marriage between a husband and a wife.

Now let’s address some specific myths about infidelity.

HUGE INFIDELITY MYTH #1–Adultery is NOT a Love Story! 

I could go on and on about this myth, but let’s first look at just a few of the lies we’ve been told by Hollywood.  In movies like “Bridges of Madison County” or “The English Patient” — or TV shows like “Sex in the City” and “Desperate Housewives” unfaithfulness is depicted as glamorous, exciting, passionate and fulfilling.  From these kinds of shows, many of the myths about infidelity are perpetuated.  Let’s go over a few!

Infidelity Myth #2–Adultery is about hot, passionate sex (or not getting enough sex).  Infidelity experts across the spectrum (myself included) all agree that this is not the case.  Experts Agree: Cheating is not About Sex.  What happens is that both spouses stop doing the things that make the flame of love blaze, and simultaneously they start doing things that douse the flame (or extinguish it).  When this happens, they are vulnerable and along comes someone who’s looking…  Because we have it so ingrained that Love=Sex, most affair partners do gradually go from having feelings for each other to having sex, but it is EXTREMELY rare for a man or woman to sit down and say “You know, I just am not getting the kind of sex I like.  I think I’ll cheat.”  It’s usually the culmination of several things–yelling, blaming, disrespect and finally rejection–and then finding someone else who doesn’t yell, blame, or reject and who treats them with respect.

Myth #3–Being unfaithful makes you happy.  Have you ever had a friend either involved in an affair or a friend whose spouse was having an affair?  The loyal spouse cries, hurts, is miserable and the very person who is supposed to love them is the one doing the hurting!  The children are abandoned, angry, and act out! The disloyal spouse cries, is confused, often loses their job because they can’t concentrate at work, and ends up living with another person in a small apartment barely above the poverty level.  Does that sound like “happiness” to you?  That’s because happiness does not come from some other person (like your spouse or the Other Person) making you happy; happiness is a choice YOU make and it comes from the Lord!  Deuteronomy 5:33 says “Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess” and John 13:17 says “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

Myth #4–The affair partners are “in love.”  Nope.  An easy read of I Corinthians 13 tells us many of the attributes of Godly love: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveresLove never fails.”  Now think of the two people committing adultery.  Are they patient?  Or do they want to RUSH a divorce so their relationship looks more legitimate?  Are they kind?  Or are they tearing up *two* families–tearing about two sets of grandparents from their grandkids–hurting others and not caring?  Are they content with what they have or do they envy “other couples who look so happy” and say stuff like “Don’t I deserve to be happy too”?  Do they build up others (like their spouse) or do they boast about *this* or *that* showing off how they are “meant to be”?  Are they humble and able to admit they made a mistake, or are they too proud to admit it even when it’s staring them in the face and it’s obvious to everyone?  Do they honor those to whom it is due (their spouse, their pastor, their parents), or do they tear people down and rebel against everyone?  Are they seeking what’s best for their spouse or even for their affair partner, or are they selfishly seeking what’s best for THEM and what THEY WANT…despite who it hurts?  I think we could go on with this but I bet you get the picture!

 

 

An Example of a Consequences/No Contact Letter

You know how people often ask me, “Can you show me an example of a Consequence/No Contact letter…or a post with a sample Consequence/No Contact letter?” Well…here ya go!


To go into an effect Consequences/No Contact stage, you need to:
1) Do a good Carrot & Stick step first!–for between 3-6 months usually.
2) Find your intermediaries (in this letter, the friends Jane and Paul).  I sometimes recommend The Parenting Notebook as an option but intermediaries are much better!
3) Determine in your heart how long you will stay in Consequences/No Contact stage–usually something like 6 months or 1 year.  I know many Loyal Spouses who work on Carrot & Stick until 6 month’s after D-Day and then live in peace in  No Contact until the 1 year anniversary…then file.
4) Give a copy of this letter to your Disloyal Spouse.
5) Give a copy of this letter to the Other Person with at note at the bottom saying: “I love with all my heart and am willing to do whatever it takes to make him/her happy. I will wait for him/her to give me that chance.”

Enhanced by Zemanta

>Coming Out of an Affair–Personal Talk to Disloyals

>

When a Disloyal Spouse (DS) comes to the Affaircare website usually part of their head knows that the affair was wrong and that returning to their spouse and the marriage would be the right thing to do, but they feel so confused and conflicted, paralyzed with indecision.  How can they never, EVER speak to the person who made the effort to show interest and made them feel AMAZINGLY LOVED and return to the person who ignored them, clammed up, wouldn’t make the effort, wasn’t interested, and made them feel worthless?  Who would want to do that just because it’s “the right thing to do”?  Surely they deserve some happiness and love in their life too…right?

One of the first things we do is tell DS’s to look at our article “How Do Affairs Start” and start getting honest with themselves.  Take a look at the article and see if some part of you doesn’t say, “Yeah that’s exactly what it was like!  Seriously we were just friends and then it blossomed into more.”  See if some part of you doesn’t understand the concept that love is like a fire and that there are some actions that kindle the love (like spending time together, talking all night long, being romantic, wanting to touch each other, actually CARING) and some actions that extinguish the love (like yelling, blaming, being apart all the time, ignoring each other, only touching for sex, and acting like you don’t care).  One of the reasons you fell for the OP is that they took the time to do things that kindled love while your spouse was extinguishing it!

Sure their spouse stopped doing the Love Kindlers and started doing more and more Love Extinguishers…but to be honest you did too!  And you know what ?  “YOU contributed to this!”  If you cheated, you made the choice so YOU are responsible for it, not them–but they did contribute to creating an environment so that the marriage was vulnerable and it just as easily could have been them if circumstances had been a little different.  It’s not as if you were as pure as the driven snow in your marriage and your spouse was an evil monster.  I will bet you money that when you met your spouse, both of you did kindler stuff like spending time together all the time, writing each other little love notes, getting surprises for each other, doing kind things for each other, trying to look good and smell good for each other, wanting to hug and touch and kiss, having fun together.  Then you got married and you realized he/she hung the TP backwards or squeezed the toothpaste in the middle…and you did a few little extinguishers.  A little time went by and along came the kids and you would wear sweats and gained a bunch of weight, you were too tired for sex or made excuses, you yelled about not helping out with chores, and nagged him/her to spend less time at work but also nagged about money. Right?  This degenerated into screaming matches every night.

I point this out to you, because you are an ADULT.  When you married someone, you voluntarily promised to always consider another person (your spouse) and how it would affect them.  You voluntarily promised to forsake all others and share yourself intimately with them only (and by intimately I don’t mean just sex–I mean confidential, deep, transparent sharing of yourself, your thoughts, feelings, and ideas). And as an adult who made these promises, you are responsible for the choices you made.  It’s not them; it’s not something they did to “make you” choose it–YOU.  Bear in mind I’m not being judgmental here (although it probably sounds and feels pretty harsh).  I hold everyone to this exact same thing–you are responsible for yourself and the choices you make.  It’s conceivable that others may influence the decision or how you reach the choice–but in the end YOU choose. And in the end, the choices you made were to break your promise. In order to really start recovering from the foggy thinking of an affair, one of the first things you need to do is accept personal responsibility for the choices you made.  If you can stop blaming others and take responsibility for your choices, then there is a very good chance for the fog to clear and for you to recover from the affair thinking.

Another thing you need to do in order to really start recovering is to stop minimizing what it is, your part in it, and the damage it’s done. You didn’t have a “love affair” and love didn’t blossom out of friendship–you committed adultery, you chose to do it, and you have destroyed your spouse, your children, your parents, the aunts and uncles, the people you work with, and the people in your life such as lifelong friends or neighbors or folks in your church…AND all those folks in your Other Person’s life too!  So this isn’t some glamorous secret rendezvous but a nuclear bomb of destruction that not only affects four individuals (you, your spouse, Other Person ‘OP’, OP’s spuse) but also causes life long damage to an ever expanding circle of people…not the least of which would be forever deteriorating, destroying, harming and wounding your children.  Doesn’t sound nearly as romantic and alluring when it’s put like that, does it?

So now that we have a good start on how affairs start and who is responsible for the choices you’ve made and the consequences of your choices, here are the steps you need to take in order to end your adultery and come out of the fog.

1. No contact with OP.  This step may sound pretty obvious–after all, you can’t build your marriage if your time and attention are on another person–but this step means that you take deliberate actions to make sure all contact is ended and you never, ever contact the OP again.  This includes writing, emailing, IM-ing, being with them, seeing them, working with them, or hearing about them from the friends you two used to hang out with!  This may very well require some fairly drastic changes to your life too.  The very first thing that is non-negotiable is that you MUST end all contact with the OP and put up barriers and guards so that you never speak to them again FOREVER.  We often suggest that you write your OP a “No Contact Letter” and then give that letter to your spouse so your spouse can do two things: mail the letter and contact the OP’s spouse to let them know about the affair.  Your OP’s spouse deserves to know that they are with a person who is willing to betray them, hurt the children, and possibly bring home a life-ending disease.  Believe me, nothing assists with ending contact like having your lover’s spouse know about what they’ve been doing!

2. Transparency.  This is hard, isn’t it?  The second step in recovering from the fog is being personally transparent with your spouse.  I use that word “transparency” because it means “see through”–let your spouse see the REAL YOU!  Let them in.  Let them see the Real You and what you think and feel.  Let them know what you struggle with.  Be see through.  Right now they will not trust your honesty, and for good reason!  You’ve been lying and covering up who you are, what you’re doing, what you’re saying, and who you’re with!  It is reasonable for them to not trust your honesty if you’ve been dishonest, isn’t it?  So allow your spouse to verify your whereabouts and check up on you…so they can start to trust your honesty again.  Offer each other your passwords, access to each others’ emails, let him/her see your cell phones and texts, and open your PC to your spouse.  All the ways that you used to contact your OP–open those up to your spouse so that a) they can see what you’re doing and verify you are acting in an honest way, and b) it helps you to stay out of contact knowing that they are or may be checking!

Here’s the real kind of person I am.

3. Commit to actually doing the work on YOU and the work on the marriage.  Boy this doesn’t get any easier, does it?  Part of the problem up to this point is that both you and your spouse made mistakes in your marriage and the way you treated each other.  I suspect this might be something that you can understand and even agree with!  But even beyond those mistakes, there may also be issues that are your personal issues, that have nothing to do with your spouse, that you NEED to admit and work on.  For example, maybe you were sexually abused as a kid and now you confuse sexual interest with love, or don’t feel loveable at all so you go everywhere looking for infatuation thinking it’s love.  Maybe you were physically abused by your parents and don’t understand about boundaries, or don’t have any self-worth because you were just used by them.  Maybe you were brought up with everything given to you by your parents and now you need to learn to work for things and realize you’re not entitled to “things” because you’re alive.  Does that make sense?  In a way you may be able to point out your spouse’s personal issues a whole lot easier than your own (like “he/she has anger issues or he/she has no self-esteem”) but the point of this step is to stop running away from yourself and your issues, look yourself honestly in the eye, admit to yourself “I need to work on this” or that you might need counseling for it, and then COMMIT TO ACTUALLY DOING THE WORK!!  Lots of people say they’ll go to counseling, go five or six times, and right about the time it starts to be about *them* doing some work, they “forget” to do the homework and then stop coming (or say “This counselor is no good!”).  So make the commitment–deliberately dedicate yourself–to being responsible to do the work on your own self, and on your marriage.  Not “Oh I’ll try but it’s just so hard…..”  NO!!  Work!!  HARD!!!!  “There is no try only do.”

4. Gather Evidence of Love to get through withdrawal.  When you end all contact with the OP, part of what will happen is that so much of your time and day was spent with them, thinking of them, writing to them, etc. that you won’t know what to do with yourself.  Also you’ll hurt and miss them and wonder if they’re okay.  I liken this feeling to the withdrawal that an addict goes through when they first stop their addiction, and this is one time that you are very, very vulnerable to re-connecting and starting up the affair again.  So gather evidence around you of your spouse’s love.  Keep old photos handy that show you and your spouse “in the good old days” when you were happy and in love.  Keep old love letters from your spouse at hand so when you feel lonely or think of your OP, you can pull out a love letter from your spouse and remember THAT love.  You don’t want to just “put off” the affair behavior here–you want to also “put on” new behavior so print out your wedding vows and frame them, when you would have sent a poem to the OP, send one to your spouse instead, and purposely train your mind to think of your spouse instead of OP.

5. Go to your spouse directly–spend time together.  This is very important!  For the longest time now, being with your spouse has had a negative association.  After all, when you are with your spouse, they yell at you, find fault, argue, criticize, keep score, make demands, ignore you, treat you with disrespect–it’s awful!  On the other hand, being with the OP has had a positive association–it felt good, they liked you, and they showered you with love.  But “back in the day” you and your spouse used to share everything, stayed up all night talking, admired each other, and were best friends.  In order to really come out of your affair, you need to not only “put off” the old behavior of talking to your OP all the time, and “put on” the new behavior of thinking of your spouse instead–but you need to also start to associate some positive with time spent with your spouse.  So we usually suggest to DS’s that you give your spouse the chance to be your friend again and treat them like you would a best friend.  Do fun things together that you both enjoy.  Start a new hobby.  As an example, Dear Hubby and I enjoy MMORP gaming together, traveling, car shows, reading, and certain sci fi shows.  It’s not always deep, emotional talk but we can talk about the new talent builds, remember a trip we made together, drool over a muscle car, read stories to each other, and talk about the “tweest” in the storyline of our favorite show….and those are positive associations!  So stop trying to be spouses and parents and just try to have some fun together.

6. Find one accountability mentor, make amends.  This step is all about taking responsibility for your actions NOW and your actions during the affair.  Again this may not be a welcome topic but it is vital in coming out of an affair and rebuilding a happy, loving marriage.  Part of the reason this got out of hand and became unfaithfulness is that you kept it a secret, and if you did tell someone it was people who would be supportive of infidelity.  Thus if you went to come OUT of infidelity, it is helpful to have a support network that would be support of FIDELITY!  Find one mentor with whom you can be honest, who’s wise and will help you with suggestions if you’re hurting, and who can help you find your footing and stay on track.  Obviously we think Affaircare coaches are an excellent choice!  But some other ideas would be a parent, a pastor or person in your church whom you respect who’s your same sex, a boss or professor, or maybe just someone who you consider your “wise council.”  Be honest with that person and let them encourage you in your pursuit of staying married and rebuilding a loving marriage.  The second part of this step is related to taking personal responsibility, and that’s making amends for the damage made by your choices during the affair.  You may feel very guilty for what you’ve done and how you behaved, but nothing will soothe guilt and reknit broken relationships with family like going to them directly and apologizing for what you did–then asking for their forgiveness.  It may not be “fun” to hear, but your children, your parents and siblings and coworkers and friends may have been hurt as well as your spouse’s parents and siblings and coworkers and friends.  Remember how lame it was when President Clinton denied his affair with Monica L. and we all thought, “Dude if you’d just admit it and say you’re sorry we could get past it”?  Yeah–same here.  Covering it up and pretending it didn’t happen rarely “fixes” the problem; whereas, when you admit you made a mistake, people are very often able to forgive and move forward.

7. Re-start Love Kindlers/End Love Extinguishers.  We talked before about how the Love Kindlers ended on both sides of the marriage, and how Love Extinguishers became more and more frequent.  Both of you have dwindled down on the kindlers and piled on the extinguishers, but you can not control your spouse–you can only control yourself.  So is that the kind of person you want to be?  If not, we recommend that you begin laying the groundwork to falling in love with your spouse, by being who you WANT to be.  Very often as you go to couples’ counseling or marriage therapy you’ll hear some advice to restart the things that kindled love, like “start dating again” or “be romantic” but rather than concentrating on those concepts, which I bet you understand, let me be practical.  If you have done step five and started to have some fun with your spouse again, but just don’t yet feel that “magic” for them–if you want to feel love but just don’t quite feel romantic and you find yourself stuck for ideas–we recommend the Romance Calendar at LovingYou.com.  It’s not that I’m not romantic but some days I just can’t think of what to do!  After all, it can be hard to be creative and unique year after year.  So use the Romance Calendar as a tool to give you one good “kindler” idea every day that spans every love language.

But even more important that the Love Kindlers, it is VITAL that you end all your own Love Extinguishers.  Yes, I do realize it’s unfair that you have to work on ending your Love Extinguishers when maybe your spouse isn’t stopping, but life is unfair sometimes.  If you do not stop your Love Extinguishers, it will be a lot like adding wood to a fire that has a colander over it that someone is pouring water into. What happens?  You pour and pour and pour and the water just leaks all over, putting the fire out!  It never, EVER blazes because it keeps being put out!  It feels like you’re spinning your wheels getting nowhere–enough is never enough!  But if you end the extinguishers first you plug the holes in the colander and the water never hits the fire.  Then what happens?  Gradually it can build up and get hotter.  Likewise if you end your Love Extinguishers first, then when you do the Love Kindlers your spouse will be able to see them and gradually their love for you will grow.  The hope is that they would also be working with you to build a happy, loving marriage, and when THEY end their extinguishers … then they’ll be able to add kindlers and the flame of love will grow.

Finding Out: What It Feels Like to Hear that Your Spouse is Having an Affair

As someone who works every day trying to save marriages that are rocked by an affair, I’ve often thought that somehow there is a disconnect between the Disloyal Spouse thinking “Yes I understand that it hurt you but I was hurt too” and the true understanding of what it is like for the Loyal Spouse when they first find out.  Speaking as someone who understands both sides, I can also say that no matter what adjectives a Loyal Spouse may choose to describe it (like “devastating” or “heartbreaking”) there just are not words to explain the bomb that’s been dropped and all the harm that’s been done.  Language is insufficient to convey the full depth of it and it certainly feels as if the Disloyal doesn’t “get it.”  I’ve often wished there was some way to communicate to a Disloyal what it’s like to hear your spouse is having an affair, and yet every different method or wording I’ve tried has fallen short…

…until today.

Dear Hubby and I are taking classes to become certified nouthetic counselors in addition to our marriage coaching.  If you’re wondering, the term “Nouthetic” comes from the Greek verb “noutheteo” (or the noun “nouthesis”) and means “to admonish, to warn, to teach or to counsel.”  The word is found in numerous passages of Scripture and describes the manner in which we are to counsel and help other Christians.  Biblical (nouthetic) Counseling seeks to change the heart, not just alter behavior (Mk. 7:21-23; Prov. 4:23).  One of our classes was given by a man who is a law enforcement chaplain and his class was basically how to tell if it is an urgent situation, an emergency, or a crisis…and what to expect in a crisis situation.  For example, often the person appears disoriented, becomes hypersensitive or confused, has poor concentration, may shake or shiver, and might go into shock.  It was during this class that I heard an example that hit so close to home that I realized it was very similar to the shock one experiences when you hear about the affair for the first time.

Your 17 year old gets his driver’s license and asks you for the car keys to go to the football game.  He’s going to meet his friends there, but he will not be driving any of them in the car and they don’t plan to go out afterward, so you trust him and give him the keys.  He’s responsible and returns home in a timely manner, and pretty soon you have faith in his maturity.  One day he calls and says there’s been a minor fender bender, but no one is injured and information has been exchanged.  There’s a small ding in the trust and it’s urgent but still–he handled it well and these things do happen.  A year goes by with no incident and this time the hospital calls.  There has been an accident and your son was in a car accident; but he just broke his leg and the other driver was at fault.  This is an emergency and is serious, but again all things considered, car accidents do occur…injuries do occur…

Then comes the day you give your son the keys and he says he’ll be home at 11pm, but midnight,1am, 2am, roll around and he doesn’t answer his cell phone.  You’re worried sick and wonder what happened.  At 3am you get a knock on the door and see two uniformed men, one with a chaplains badge on your porch and you know….

…and that moment right there is what it’s like to find out your spouse is having an affair.  That immediate “NOOOOOOO!” and the world dropping out from under your feet.  Everything you loved and lived for is dead, and the initial numbness and disbelief are quickly overshadowed with an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and loss.  The pain of hearing your spouse is having an affair has been reported as being greater than a spouse or child dying, and having been there, I’d agree that’s a true statement.  So next time you’re thinking “…I know I hurt you but I hurt too…” just remember the two uniformed officers at the door.

Enhanced by Zemanta

A *NEW* more personal style!

Today the AffairCare blog is changing.  Our very first post was way back in June 2007 when we first got the domain and the idea for AffairCare, but for a couple years the blog sat quiet.  We became re-inspired just last year in December 2009, and we’ve been posting regularly every since (so yes–next month is our one year anniversary).  So far, we’ve posted mostly article-type posts on infidelity, marriage, and how to recover if your marriage experiences an affair.  But today, we are growing once again.  We are changing our format a little to make this blog more personal–talk about the day-to-day struggle of staying faithful in today’s world. We’ll talk about our own story, ask others to contribute, and especially discuss thoughts on Christianity and infidelity.  So let me tell you about the new style and a few terms we use regularly.

In our new style, rather than having “yet another place to post articles” (not that articles aren’t nice), we thought it might help other couples to know they weren’t alone if we posted some of our normal, daily thoughts.  Obviously Dear Hubby and I are not perfect, and anyone who knows us at all can testify to that!  But if we hope to teach you how to navigate this, we thought it might be reassuring to read real couples, really struggling, really addressing it head on: What does a loyal spouse REALLY think and feel?  How about the Disloyal Spouse?  How does all this relate to God? Is it SUPPOSED to be like this–or is it at least normal?  So we’ll be sharing some of our observations or thoughts, sharing some of our own story, and asking other folks we know who are “in the trenches” with us to write honestly and openly about what’s on their mind.  Some will be educators like us–some will be loyal spouses who recovered their marriage–some will be a person who’s marriage did not survive but THEY recovered as a person.

Now for our commonly used terminology, here are the most frequently used terms:
The Fire of Love–The love in your marriage is like a campfire. There are actions that people do to stoke the fire of love and make it hotter, and there are actions that people do that are like putting water on a fire.
Love Kindlers–Actions that people do to stoke the fire of love and make it hotter–those are Love Kindlers. Much as adding fuel to a fire keeps it burning, makes it brighter and warmer, so concentrating on Kindlers, making them part of your daily interaction, builds the flame of love into a blaze in your marriage.
Love Extinguishers–Actions that people do that are like putting water on a fire; some are like dribbles out of a holey bucket, and some are like dumping a big bucket of water on the fire. Smothering a fire will eventually put it out. Actions that kill the fires of your love are Love Extinguishers.
Loyal Spouse–Abbreviated LS, this is the spouse that did not cheat.
Disloyal Spouse–Abbreviated DS, this is the spouse that did cheat.
Other Person–Abbreviated OP (or OW for Other Woman, OM or TOM for The Other Man), this is the affair partner with whom the DS cheated.
Physical Affair–This concept is a little easier to define: this is infidelity that involves a physical component, usually having sex.  Kissing, hugging, touching, holding hands, “making out” or necking also would all count.
Emotional Affair–We define it as any time your spouse does not give you 100% of their affection and loyalty.  This category *can* include such things as cyber-sex, internet flirting, or financial infidelity.
The 7 Steps–On our website, we have two articles that this might refer to (depending on the context):”The 7 Steps to Ending an Affair” or “The 7 Steps to Returning to Your Marriage
Our website–This refers to our doman in the internet!  www.affaircare.com
Our Book–This refers to the book David and I wrote together: “Affaircare: Caring for Your Marriage After an Affair”
Personality Test–The Myers-Briggs Personality type test.  We have a link on our site and you can find it on http://www.personalitypage.com
Love Language–Dr. Gary Chapman’s five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, Physical Touch.  People hear “I love you” in different ways!
Commitment/Covenant–Beyond just the dictionary definitions of these words, these two concepts are the linchpin of our work.  Marriage is more than a fancy party and then living together.  It is a covenant between the spouses and God in which both volunteer to give their spouse 100% of their affection and loyalty.  Most “vows” include “…forsaking all others…” and “…for better, for worse; richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live” so this is a lifetime promise.  Infidelity is breaking that promise.
Marriage–When a man and a woman make a committed covenant before God and in public in front of witnesses. The ideas here might be helpful for relationships in other configurations, but we just would not call those “marriages.”
Christian–A believer who has been saved by the grace of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ‘s death…and nothing else.  It’s not a “denomination” or by “being a good person” but 100% by the gift of God and not through works or attending a certain “church.”
christian–In the USA people are sort of “christian by default” in that we are not Hindu or Jewish by default.  If a person is born here and never goes to church or believes…they may consider themselves a christian.
Disloyal Dizziness/Fog–This describes the mindset an LS will see when the DS is actively involved in the affair, and  what comes out of the DS’s mouth is just so “not them” it’s shocking.  The LS might wonder, “Do you even *hear* what just came out of your mouth?”  This kind of unclear thinking tends to occur when faults in the marriage or spouse are magnified and positives are minimized–while positives in the affair or OP are magnified and their faults are minimized or unnoticed.  This is so the DS can justify their behavior and continue doing what they know is wrong. Very typically, the DS claims abuse of some kind.  This term is not to say that it’s “not real” or “isn’t happening” but rather is a way to identify this phenomena.
Evil Twin–This term is a description only and does not imply that “all DS are evil.”  This term is when the LS knows their spouse (the DS) for 10, 15, 20 years or more and the DS’s behavior while in the affair is “not like them.”  It looks like the DS and sounds like the DS, but it is as if another person is in their body.  Again, this term is a way to identify the phenomena.
MUU–An abbreviation for Mutual United Understanding.  When a couple is working on rebuilding after an affair, one of the first agreements they need to make is to always reach a MUU before making any decision. This means that they will consider their spouse, ask for input and requests, and they will negotiate until they reach an understanding about which they are both enthusiastic.  This ensures that you are not controlling your spouse, you are considering your spouse, and you are working together as a team!
W-T-F-S–An abbreviation for “When you…I Think…I Feel…So I’d like to ask…”  This is a skill we suggest to our couples when they need to respectfully bring up a somewhat difficult topic.  You identify the behavior that is an issue (When you…); you express your thoughts (in case your spouse is a Thinker) and your feelings (in case your spouse is a Feeler) so your spouse can relate and so you are showing your spouse the Real You; and you make a request for what would fix the problem or help you feel better (So I’d like to ask…).
Dear Hubby–That would be my special nickname for my eternally patient, gentle, INTJ spouse, David.  I usually call him “Dear Hubby” when I write.