Tag Archives: recovery

Ask Affaircare: I Don’t Know How to Move Forward! Help!

AskAffaircare

The Ask Affaircare Series started because our readers have questions. About Affairs. Reconciling. Marriage. Divorce. Christianity. The Bible. And God.  Initially, we tried to answer each question through e-mail, but we quickly realized that there were many people asking many similar questions, so we started this weekly series!

It’s not our goal to make you agree with us, but rather to explore what the Bible says in thoughtful, and clear manner. Additionally, we try to write our answers in a loving but truthful manner (Ephesians 4:15) because we know there is a real person – with real struggles and dreams – behind every single question. Thank for you visiting Affaircare. Keep those questions coming!


Our question today comes from a Loyal Spouse just 9 weeks past D-Day.  He writes:

I am 9 weeks out from finding out about my wife’s 9 month affair. After individual and couples counseling, including a week-long, 20-hour session with our church, I find myself still struggling greatly. I do not know how to move forward. I need help!

Dear Don’t Know How to Move Forward,

Your email is very short and there are many facts we don’t know that would be extremely helpful, such as “Was it a physical affair or an emotional affair?” and “Is your wife showing true remorse and making the necessary changes…or is she rugsweeping and trying to get you to rugsweep too?”  If we knew the answers to some of those questions, it would really help a lot!  But since we don’t know, we’re going to reply just assuming that it was “generic” infidelity (as if there is such a thing) and, since you didn’t bring it up as an issue, assuming that she is doing the work to face herself and take full personal responsibility for her choice to commit adultery.

If either of those assumptions is NOT TRUE, then be aware that it might change the trajectory of our response.  But for now, let’s “move forward” since that it our topic.

When we received your email, three things jumped out at us:

  1. It has only 9 weeks since you discovered proof of the adultery.
  2. You and your wife are drowning in therapy: individual counseling, couples counseling, and CHURCH counseling!  And…
  3. To move forward you need to let go.

So let’s go over each one of these three topics, shall we?

First, it’s only been 9 weeks since you discovered proof of your wife’s affair.  Now, normally people suspect for a while before D-Day proves it to them, so although you may have had a gut feeling earlier, it has only been 9 weeks ago that the proof was irrefutable and/or your wife confessed.  Traditionally, those in the infidelity industry agree that  it can take YEARS sometimes for the Loyal Spouse to recover from the betrayal of adultery.  Here at Affaircare, our guideline is not blogs or pop psychology though–it’s the Bible.  We don’t know of any place in the Bible that we are told that we have to recover from a painful, life-changing event “quickly.”  God does tell us to forgive (more on that later), but He doesn’t say we have to “not feel the pain” or “be okay with it” or even to “get over the grief fast. ”

In fact, the Bible has a LOT to say about grief, and make no mistake, after discovering adultery, a Loyal Spouse goes through a GRIEF process.  That’s because there has been a death: the marriage died the moment the Disloyal Spouse was unfaithful!  Before the affair, you two were exclusive and you probably thought “Oh affairs happen to OTHER people–that will never happen to us.  We have something special.”  Now that innocent trust is dead.  The image you had of “your marriage” is dead.  And you (the Loyal Spouse) need to mourn just as surely as someone who lost their spouse–only your spouse isn’t dead!  They are right there in front of you.

Here are several verses ABOUT mourning and grief–let’s see what we can learn from them:

Psalm 31:9-10  “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.”  Wow, doesn’t the psalmist do a good job describing grief?  His eyes are SPENT from crying!  His soul is tortured and even his body is ill from the sorrow.  This verse clearly indicates that sorrow takes a while, and it wears on the psalmist!

Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  Well this one is a promise on which we can depend!  When someone is brokenhearted…when someone’s spirit is crushed… the Lord is NEAR!  We may not “feel” Him because the truth of His nearness isn’t based on our emotions.  He promised it and so HE IS!

Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Here we learn that our hearts do fail us, and I don’t think the psalmist means cardiac disease here, do you?  I think he’s talking about feeling so deeply sorrowful that your heart HURTS.  Again, note that nowhere does it say that your flesh shouldn’t fail or that our hearts shouldn’t hurt.  In fact, we could surmise that they will! But when they do… God is our strength.

Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Again, note that it doesn’t say we shouldn’t have a broken heart or that being wounded is a sin.  It says that when that does happen, GOD HEALS.  And since He promised, we can depend on that even if it doesn’t “feel like it.”

Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”  We threw this one in, even though it doesn’t specifically speak about grief, because it implies that something has occurred that would create LACK of peace.  There is agitation, distress and conflict!  And this verse talks to use about how we can regain peace: by having our mind, our thoughts, our reflection, our concentration FIXED on HIM.

Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” See how it doesn’t say “Thou shalt not mourn”?  Nope, it says that mourning is going to occur, and we have a promise.  We aren’t alone in our mourning and grief–He is there to comfort us.

Here are three more verses about mourning and grieving and affliction, and you go ahead and write in the comments what you learn from these three verses:

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

1 Peter 5:7  “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Don’t Know–this is going to take some time.  It will never be “the way it was” and you are going to have to go through a period that is very similar to the grief process for “your marriage of the past.”  Just based on our experience, we’d estimate the quickest possible timeframe would be  a time equal to her affair (9 months) and if you deal with grief slower,  it may be up to two years (roughly).  Now that doesn’t mean that for the next two years there won’t be good times or you’ll hold your wife’s affair against her, but rather it will be like someone who is mourning.  They are GRIEVING but life goes on.  They just “go through the motions” at first.  Then they learn to do a little better but feel guilty for doing a little better.  Then they deal with it and time heals a little more and even more good days sneak in.  And then one day maybe a year later they realize they are okay–they survived.  It will be very much like that.  You won’t “get better” all at once.

Second, you and your wife are drowning in therapy.  What we mean by that, is that clearly you are going to a counselor to address how you are feeling and what you’re thinking and how to deal with all this and to address your own issues.  And clearly your wife is going to a counselor to address why she cheated and to face her demons so she can identify her issues and change.  And clearly you are going to couples counseling to address THE MARRIAGE’S issues and how to do better as a team/couple and how to gain the tools to be better at this whole “marriage” thing.  We totally get that!  And you are off to your church’s 20-hour intensive to try to make a grand gesture at facing and addressing your marriage problems from a Biblical point of view.  Kuddos for that!

But, Don’t Know–you are doing so much therapy that it’s all you think about!  Every second of every day is filled with either the day-to-day things like work and school and chores…or THERAPY.   A person can only do so much deep, intense, emotion-charged, vehement analysis before they start to burn out, and our guess is that a portion of your feeling like you don’t know how to move forward is because you are so overwhelmed by all this analysis that there is no real time off.  YOU are a human and so is your wife.  She can only feel as low as the dirt on the bottom of a bug’s shoe for so long and she’ll get tired just because it’s too much to handle.  Same for you–it’s just too much!  So we would make a suggestion: balance the deep, intense emotional relationship talks with an equal amount of lighter, gentler, more agreeable time together.  For example, if you have one hour of therapy every day in one way or another and then spend another hour talking about whatever went on in therapy–balance that with an equal amount of time doing pleasant, enjoyable things together.

Here’s why, Don’t Know.  When you agreed to reconcile, what you were really saying is that you agreed to build a WHOLE NEW MARRIAGE.  During her affair, your wife equated you (and thoughts of you) with unpleasant feelings and thoughts.  “Well, he was abusive so I deserved someone who treated me better”…that kind of thing.  Anyway, now that her affair is over, your wife equates you with long, painful conversations that feel like the Spanish Inquisition, and tears, and hours and hours of therapy.  Likewise you equate her with destroying your trust, destroying your world, and destroying the very foundation of everything you believed in.  And part of the challenge now is not only facing the issues that brought you to this place, but also rebuilding something loving!  Well, when people love each other, they association POSITIVE thoughts and feelings with the one they love!  They LIKE being together and ENJOY each others’ company and think their spouse makes them feel GOOD.  So right now, you need to add some of that to your new marriage.

Now, you know how many/most couple’s counselors will tell you to “date each other”. UGH, that’s silly!  You’re MARRIED why should you have to try to re-win someone who made promises to you?  So that’s not what we’re saying here.  What we ARE saying is that one piece of this puzzle that is missing is the “remembering the things I love about my spouse” piece.  It is imperative that you two sometimes put all the counseling down, and put all the affair-talk and crying down… and just agree to be each other’s friends and do something fun.  It can be something easy like just renting a video and sitting on the couch holding hands–it can be something complicated like a weekend away riding the nearest rollercoasters.  But balance–for every hour of therapy, have an hour of enjoying each other.

Third (and finally), you say that you don’t know how to move forward and you need help. We partially addressed that when we said that it’s going to take some time–like 9 months to 2 years–in order to go through the grieving process and rebuild a new marriage.  So part of “moving forward” really is just time and giving yourself time to recover.  It won’t be instantaneous and it won’t be “the way it was.”  But that doesn’t mean it can’t be REALLY GOOD!!!  You could even build an even better marriage than you had because now you’ve grown and matured and so has she!

But you know how the final step of the grieving process is “acceptance”?  In the infidelity process, the key step to moving forward is forgiveness.  At some point, if you truly commit to reconciling with your spouse, you are going to have to volunteer to lay down your claim for recompense for the hurt and damage she caused you.  Please note that forgiveness is not condoning (failing to see it was wrong), excusing (not holding her personally responsible for her choices), pardoning (removing the consequence of her debt–it’s God’s job to judge or not) or forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from your consciousness).  Forgiveness means that you KNOW you have the ace up your sleeve that you could always win an argument, you have the sword over her head that you could hold against her, and you have the weapon with which you could punish her forever…and you make a decision to lay that weapon down and let go of your legitimate claim.

Right now it may sound utterly FOOLISH to even think about forgiving.  After all, most of the blogs and psychological “wisdom” will tell you things like “you deserve better” and “once a cheater always a cheater”.  But we are not suggesting that you be a fool.  God has a lot to say about forgiveness, so let’s just look:

God tells us s that we should be willing to forgive because we are sinners too and God forgave us (Matthew 6:14-15 and Colossians 3:13).  He says when someone sins against us and is truly remorseful we should be willing to forgive over and over (Matthew 18: 21-22 and Luke 17:3-4 ).  He says we should forgive people so they don’t feel overwhelmed (2 Corinthians 2:5-8).  He tells us that forgiving is a priority–we should make things right even ahead of worshipping Him (Matthew 5:23-24).  But nowhere is there any mention of forgiveness not hurting or of forgiveness being easy and making all the struggling go away.  We are just told to DO it.

The good news is that  He even tells us HOW to forgive in Luke 17:3-4: “So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.  Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” 

Step 1–Watch YOURSELF.  Haven’t you ever been in a position of doing something REALLY WRONG and wishing that people would be kind and forgive you?  Then just like the hypocrite in Matthew 7 and Luke 6, we need to watch ourselves and treat others the way we would have liked to be treated when we sinned!

Step 2–A brother or sister (someone close to us–a fellow believer, disciple, spouse, neighbor, or family member) does something against us.  Maybe they gossip or spread a lie or offend us or actively hurt us. Whatever it is, they do wrong by us.

Step 3–Holy smoke look at that.  We are supposed to rebuke them!  Of course, the Greek word there is epitimaó, which means to admonish, or warn by instructing.  Oddly enough that word is a verb (an action) and it has a whole bunch behind it.  It means “have so much value due, that you respond in a way suitable to the situation.”  In other words, we VALUE the brother or sister.  We place due honor upon them because they mean so much to us, and thus, out of love, we go up to them directly and tell them they did wrong and encourage them to DO THE RIGHT THING.

Step 4–“if they repent….”  Note that it doesn’t say “if they are remorseless and continue to sin, you go ahead and forgive them anyway.”  it says that the next step has to be remorse or changing of the inner man.  We like to define repentance as a complete 180 degree change from what they’ve been doing!  A full U-Turn!  In other words, they have to be acting and thinking 100% different from the way they WERE acting and thinking.  They have to “come to themselves” and return to doing the right thing.  And if they do repent and do change… then on to the next step.

Step 5–“…forgive them.” Even if they do wrong by you 7 times in one day and come back to you with a changed inner man 7 times, you must forgive them.   The word for “forgive” here is aphiémi, which means “send away” or “release”–“wipe the slate clean”.  See how that fits with our definition above about putting down your legitimate claim to restitution? You make a decision in your mind to let go of that claim and you commit to never, ever picking it up again!  That’s forgiveness.  And note the word MUST!!  This isn’t a suggestion or something we do if we feel like it–we MUST.  That’s imperative, which means it is required.

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Recovering After an Affair: Recovery Tools [Podcast]

You’ve found evidence that proves there is an affair. You’ve done all the steps to end the affair, and now you and your disloyal spouse have made the decision to try to reconcile. WHAT DO YOU DO!!!???

In this week’s episode we finish our Basic Concepts series: Recovering After an Affair, and we tell you about the Recovery Tools we recommend for couples — Myers-Briggs Personality Type, 5 Love Languages, and REBT.

If you’d like to learn about the three modes in more detail, our new program, “90 Days to Save Your Marriage and Save You” will teach you and how your spouse how to recover after infidelity.

[audio: https://s3.amazonaws.com/affaircare-podcast/Recovery+Tools.mp3]

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Recovering After an Affair: Forgiveness [Podcast]

You’ve found evidence that proves there is an affair. You’ve done all the steps to end the affair, and now you and your disloyal spouse have made the decision to try to reconcile. WHAT DO YOU DO!!!???


In this week’s episode we continue our Basic Concepts series: Recovering After an Affair, and we discuss one of the hardest parts about reconciling–forgiveness. We also go over the most common myths about forgiveness and offer concrete steps to help you forgive each other.

Our new program, “90 Days to Save Your Marriage and Save You” will teach you and how your spouse how to recover after infidelity. We will be discussing what forgiveness is and is not, and how to forgive. To introduce our new program, we are reviewing our Basic Concepts

[audio: https://s3.amazonaws.com/affaircare-podcast/Forgiveness.mp3]

Recovering After an Affair: Commitment [Podcast]

You’ve found evidence that proves there is an affair. You’ve done all the steps to end the affair, and now you and your disloyal spouse have made the decision to try to reconcile. WHAT DO YOU DO!!!???

Today we continue the final week of our Basic Concepts series: Recovering After an Affair. In today’s episode we discuss the first thing you truly need to understand to begin recovering–commitment.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPOg-Mj44og&feature=youtu.be]

The verse that Affaircare is built upon is all about commitment: “…Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth…” – Deuteronomy 23:23

We believe that commitment is an intellectual exercise and not a feeling–just like love. It starts with a conscious decision you make. You decide to take a particular course of action over and against some other course of action because you are obligated. For example in the marriage commitment, you make a vow to choose a loving course of action toward your spouse for life.

Now usually you choose to marry someone because they make you happy. You are pursuing happiness and being with him or her makes you happy. The two paths of “happiness” and “being with them” seem to run parallel or are merged into one path! But what happens when the paths diverge and go in different directions?

Troubles occur when the commitment to happiness is prioritized above the commitment to the marriage. This is exactly the thing that often leads couples down the path to infidelity: when one partner is looking and looking for “what makes them happy” and their marriage is in a rut so it doesn’t “make them feel happy.” They allow their emotions to guide their decisions… “it FEELS good so I’m doing this…” rather than choosing to create happiness in their marriage or choosing to look for the happy things they do have within their marriage.

Our new program, “90 Days to Save Your Marriage and Save You” will teach you and how your spouse how to recover after infidelity. We will be focusing on Commitment and discussing what TRUE commitment is (we have it almost exactly backward), how to get the two paths of commitment to marriage and happiness to come back together again, and how to make PRO-active choices rather than RE-active decisions. To introduce our new program, we are reviewing our Basic Concepts all month!  Request more info about our new program HERE!!

[audio: https://s3.amazonaws.com/affaircare-podcast/Commitment.mp3]

Recovering After an Affair: Pre-Reconcilliation [Podcast]

You’ve found evidence that proves there is an affair. You’ve done all the steps to end the affair, and now you and your disloyal spouse have made the decision to try to reconcile.  WHAT DO YOU DO!!!???

Today we begin the final week of our Basic Concepts series: Recovering After an Affair.  There are specific steps you can take to slowly, one-step upon the previous, build a whole new, healthy marriage.  There is no guarantee your marriage will recover, but these steps will give you the best opportunity to recover after the affair ends.

In today’s episode we discuss the things that need to be in place BEFORE you can even begin reconciling:

1) No Contact with the Affair Partner
2) Transparent Honesty
3) Agreement by BOTH spouses to work on yourself and the marriage.

Use the Sample No-Contact Letters that you can find here: https://affaircare.com/articles/sample-consequences-letters/

Our new program, “90 Days to Save Your Marriage and Save You” will teach you and how your spouse how to recover after infidelity. To introduce our new program, I’m reviewing our Basic Concepts all month!

 

[audio: https://s3.amazonaws.com/affaircare-podcast/PreReconcilliation.mp3]

What NOT to do if your spouse is cheating

 

When you first find out that your spouse is cheating, it can be very devastating.  Usually in those first few days or weeks, the Loyal Spouse is tempted to do things that are not necessarily in their character, such as scream, fight with the Other Person, or take revenge.  But if you want to save your marriage, here are several things you should NOT do when you find out your spouse has been unfaithful:

 

1. Don’t pretend it isn’t happening.   Yes you’ve known in your gut for a long time that something was wrong,  and now you have a small bit of evidence or you’ve seen it with your own eyes.  Don’t go into denial.  Don’t pretend that spending hours on the cell phone is “normal” or that co-workers need to send each other thousands of emails every week.  Face the truth: your spouse is being unfaithful.

2. Don’t confront without proof.  So you got a small piece of evidence that certainly looks suspicious but doesn’t really conclusively prove anything.  If you confront with that one little piece of evidence, your spouse will try to “explain that away” or blame you, and then will be tipped off that you know about their affair and take it deeper into hiding.  Instead, wait.  Gather not just one suspicious piece but several confirming pieces from several different sources.  Get emails, IM chat logs, phone itemization and credit card statements that ALL confirm there is a lie.

3. Don’t drink or do drugs.   You’ve got all the proof.  You’re spouse is cheating.  The pain is horrific and unending, and the temptation to go numb by getting drunk or getting high is all too intense.  The only problem is that easing the pain with alcohol or drugs does not address the issue of infidelity, and it doesn’t make it go away.  When the effects of the alcohol or the drugs go away, the adultery will still be there.  Not only that, but you are bound to make poor decisions because you’re not thinking clearly!  Your mind is altered.  So I completely understand….it’s tempting…but don’t  go there.  Face it–stone cold sober.

4. Don’t beg.  When you first have the proof that your spouse is unfaithful, there is a temptation to beg them to stay, to bet them to love you, and to beg them to not divorce.  After all, you are clear-headed enough to understand the amount of pain they are inflicting on you and the amount of damage they are about to do to the family; whereas their thinking seems completely unaware of anyone but themselves!  Although begging seems to make sense at first, it’s actually counter-productive because by the time infidelity has reared its ugly head, the Disloyal Spouse is no longer caring about the hurt to the Loyal Spouse or even the hurt to their children.  Begging will come across as weak and unattractive, and if anything it will have the opposite from the desired effect.

5. Don’t promise you’ll change.  This is very similar to #4 above, “Don’t beg.”  At first,it may seem to make sense that if you promise your Disloyal Spouse that you’ll change, they’ll want to stay and “go back to the way it was.”  But in real life, to the Disloyal Spouse it will come across like too little, too late.  They’ll think “I  asked you for change before and you didn’t back then, so you probably won’t now either.”  So if you have things about yourself that you know you should work on, work on them but don’t promise you’ll change.  Just BE different and let them see the changes in your actions.

6. Don’t rage.  No one wants to be screamed at for hours, even if they have committed adultery.  No one wants a partner in their life who will become violent.  Punching out the Other Person doesn’t suddenly make you look desirable and make them look unattractive.  So if you are angry–and it’s natural to feel angry–find a healthy way to express the anger–maybe with a friend or family member.  Raging will just lead to domestic violence or assault charges, police involvement, and consequences like being forced out of your own home -AND- the adultery will not be stopped.

7. Don’t have a revenge affair.  Finding out that your spouse was unfaithful can send your self-esteem plunging, and in an angry state of mind you may want to rebuild your self-worth by going out and having a one-night-stand to prove your desirability.  Trust me on this one…don’t.  Adding another affair to a marriage that is already in dire trouble does NOT make the situation better.  Going against your own moral code will just make things worse, and you will not feel better about yourself.  Instead, focus on doing what you know is right, and that will build your self-worth.

Now that you know the seven things to NOT do if your spouse is cheating, what DO YOU DO?  I recommend you take a look around on our site,  read our articles such as “ Seven Steps You Can Take to End an Affair,”  or contact us via or Contact Page to set up email, mentoring or an appointment!