An Update After 3 Years of Recovering From an Affair

recovering from an affairThe following post was written by one of our readers, Duane.  In this post Duane briefly summarizes where he and his wife are at currently and gives those recovering from an affair encouragement to fight on for a better future.

Some of you may remember Duane (I notice that he has recently changed his username to “D”) as he wrote a wonderful post a little over a year ago entitled,  “Affair Recovery and the 7 Stages of Grief.”

“When my wife confessed her 18 month affair to me I immediately ran to Google to search for success stories, the one’s where all was forgiven because the cheating spouse did everything in his/her power to right the wrongs. I never found a one. The most promising stories were the ones where the couple redefined their marriage, accepting the weave of the affair into the fabric of their marriage story (their metaphor, not mine) and those weren’t good enough.

However, three years later and that metaphor is not only apropos, it’s welcome (even warm and cuddly.) It is exactly how I feel. We’ve been through hell and back and proudly bear the scars of our journey.

The first two years were really bad, but we wanted the marriage to work so, while being true to ourselves, we both made the necessary compromises and found the patience to allow our marriage to mend in its own time. It’s not like it was, but in hindsight it wasn’t that great. We buried too many emotions, hid too many secrets, and chose harmony too many times over truth.

This past year has been about creating a new normal, one where we speak our minds and allow that our feelings may hurt the other, but that it’s just part of the process, part of being a grown-up (even though we’re both in our forties). We laugh more and talk openly about a great many things. We look forward to sharing our time together. We make love passionately. We are good friends once again. This coming year will be our twentieth wedding anniversary and the trials and tribulations we’ve survived have given us a sense of accomplishment, of deserved accolades.

There is still work to do. I’m emotionally guarded and still distant from her at times. I can’t help it. Like an abused child I instinctively flinch under a raised hand. It’s not that I’m afraid she’ll do it again. It’s more that I don’t want to care if she does, so it’s hard to invest. But I’m relying on patience and time. Overall, I’d say there is hope for a positive outcome.

I like to write once in a while to provide some hope to seemingly overwhelming situations. This website has been a lifesaver to me on many a dark day. Marriages can and do survive. I believe in most cases cheaters cheat because there are deeper personal issues being avoided that have nothing to do with the betrayed. The betrayed cannot take it personally. It isn’t personal. And, in my case, though I’d venture to guess in many or even in most cases, as time passes the affair not only lessens in severity but also becomes a bump in the marriage, or to use another metaphor, a hitch in the stitching.

Three years after D-day and we are still here. I wish everyone on this site happiness and security in themselves, and to go forward in their healing with courage and love.”

 

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8 Responses to An Update After 3 Years of Recovering From an Affair

  1. Natalia February 4, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    What an interesting post. I can totally relate to this paragraph: “This past year has been about creating a new normal, one where we speak our minds and allow that our feelings may hurt the other, but that it’s just part of the process, part of being a grown-up (even though we’re both in our forties). We laugh more and talk openly about a great many things. We look forward to sharing our time together. We make love passionately. We are good friends once again.”
    March 3, 2013 will mark 3 years since D-day for me. I can certainly say that I am in a much better place now. My H has made a total change in his behavior, our marriage is back to when we first got married and the furture looks bright. I hope soon to completely eliminate all triggers and return to trusting my H. I know I’ll never trust blindly again, you only do that once. But I feel I can trust that he will not break my heart again. We’ve both learned a lot from all the books we’ve read and I always read him the posts from this blog that I think reinforce our healing process.

  2. Paula February 4, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    Duane, well done, and thank you for sharing some hope here. Much needed on these forums!

    We have come a long way, too. it will be four years this year for us. We are coming up to 25 years of living together, with my best mate in all the world. I am not quite as good as you and Natalia, there is much healing, in that I was lucky to have a man who knew the damage, did the work, and wanted change for the better. He had ended his affair with my former friend before I ever had a clue. (She told me, very bravely via text after she realised he really meant it was over!) I have some underlying issues that I have not been able to overcome, as yet, even with a lot of help and research. I was raped at uni by someone I knew, I needed medical attention, and some surgery, and thought I had dealt with it all, really neatly, never really gave it too much thought over the years, I knew it happened, I didn’t blame myself, never mind, but it has only surfaced later in this healing journey. My partner knew about the rape – I told him about it after a few years together. He was my first, and to date, only, lover. I have completely lost my sex life. Completely, in just my mid 40s. It was fine for two years, and the past 20 months it has been gone, I cannot be present, and there is absolutely NO enjoyment, only leaving my body to avoid the pain of the mind movies, etc. I, and we, have seen a sex therapist, to no avail. We have stopped engaging altogether for periods of time – at the advice of the therapist (we were doing other exercises at the time, on her instruction.) We WERE the couple who still had a fabulous sex life after more than two decades and three children together, most days, even during his fifteen month affair, probably part of the reason I never saw what was literally right under my nose! My problem started when I asked him to leave two years after D-day, and he went back to her, after all we had been through, and all the work we did, all the really great sex(!) and all of her bunny boiling interference, that made him see her for what she was – a distraction from what we needed from each other. And he went back, after more than two years, for one more sex session. I know we were separated, I don’t consider what he did cheating, we were done. I logically understand his motives (he wanted to see what he had chucked away nearly 25 years for, and to see if it had been worth it.) He met with her the morning after I kicked him out, and he drove the several hours to her house two days later to have sex with her again. We remained separated for some months, and when we felt we were ready (and it was supposed to be a permanent separation, we changed our minds!) he moved back home, full disclosure all along the way, and perfect honesty, the whole time. I didn’t think it would affect me, but I have NO sexual trust – they gave me diseases that made me feel filthy and disgusted in their selfishness, and there are also issues about that, although, thankfully he did use a condom the last time they had sex, after we had been “cleaned up” :-). I don’t know where to from here anymore. I have finally reached a place of true acceptance, and to be fair, I think I avoided that mentally for so long, because I knew I wouldn’t like it, lol! I don’t. It is like, this is it, this is my life now, no matter what I try, I cannot recover fully. This isn’t even about recovery of the relationship anymore, this is about reclaiming my sexuality – and my sanity? – for me, together, or alone, as it is not about the man I am with, I don’t want sex with ANYONE! Who the heck is this girl??? This is full recovery. We love each other, we have done so much work, and yet we still have this loss that I cannot overcome. Bloody frustrating!

  3. Carol February 4, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    This post gives me some hope that maybe things will get better in time. I too feel like someone who’s been hit and now flinches at the slightest movement, as it were, and I think I too keep emotional distance because I just don’t want to be hurt again. As Duane says: it’s not so much the fear that my CS will do it again — sadly, I never would have thought he’d do it in the first place, so now that I know for a fact that he has lied to me about his interactions with several women and had a 6-month EA with one of them that trust is permanently gone — but the fear that I’ll be hurt again if/when he does. It’s always eerie to me how similar our experiences are.

  4. Duane February 4, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    I’m happy to hear others are entering a good place. I suspect most move on from the affair one way or another and are never heard from again, understandably.

    Paula, ire beer your story from a while back. I’m really sorry you’ve lost your sex drive. I wish there was some advice to give, but every situation is unique. I can tell you that acceptance, patience and courage go a long way. I’m fond of this saying from, I believe, Winston Churchill, “Sometimes the wrong decision is the best one.” You can Ingerpret that however it suits you, but whether your marriage remains or not, it’s important to keep in mind that this is your one and only life and if you feel the battles you fight are worth it, then throw yourself into it whole-hearted lay, courageously. What is the worst that can happen? Face that fear and I can guarantee it won’t be so frightening.

    Carol, in the same vein (and I’ve found this approach to be helpful), what if he does do it again? It’s not worth living your life worrying about infidelity because there’s no control over it. If it happens, it happens. Easier said than done, I know. But I think my attitude has helped us both in our marriage. It’s allowed me to release the anger, and her the burden of guilt, which in turn allowed us Bo to relax and find that magic we first saw in one another int he first place. good luck to you.

    • Paula February 5, 2013 at 4:03 am #

      Thanks Duane. Love the Churchill quote, as with so many others of his (and those of others that have helped me on this journey :-) ) I accept, I think I have mostly been very patient, and I hope I have shown courage. I agree with you entirely, there is only this one life, and I have been very mindful not to waste it on the stuff you can’t change. However, I do feel like I have wasted almost four years, in some respects, on this sadness, trying REALLY hard to find a way to improve my outlook. I am not afraid. Not afraid to be on my own, if necessary, not afraid of future cheating. If I am afraid of anything it is that I will never get “better” in the way I want. I have attempted to throw caution to the wind on SO many occasions, to enjoy lovemaking,to face it all head on – I do that daily with the mind movies that I can’t seem to erase, approaching them, shrinking them, re-interpreting them, but I just can’t seem to get there. I never saw this dysfunction coming, it was not any part of my past, of the way I have approached life – or sex, lol! I am at a loss about what to do for me about this, I have sought help, and not got the results I hoped for. I have an incredible man, so patient, so remorseful, so gentle, so willing to do whatever it takes, and I can’t seem to get there! Sexual frustration much hahaha! Sorry, just venting, nowhere to put all of this invisible frustration in my “real life!” Once again, it is SO good to hear your progress, Duane. I am supposed to be in the self imposed process of leaving this blog, but three posts in one day, good grief! Just know, that I am better, in so many ways, but this is a big one that I/we have struggled with for quite some time!

  5. tryingtoowife February 5, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    Mr D. I was wondering what happened to you, and since your attitude here was always so positive, I had expected this good news. I am glad I was not wrong. You have always faced this situation with such a positive attitude that I was hugely helped by your insightful posts. We were hurt so much but we survived and that is a lesson in itself! I am close to 3 years and I am working towards moving on as well. Should I say that I had enough? Yes, I do. I am tired of many things, but especially tired of trying so hard. I want a life where it makes sense just to be. I was asked by my counselor what else can my husband do to help me to move on? If I leave all my pride aside, I can honestly say that there is nothing else HE can do. He has done all he can humanly do, to show he is sorry, repented and help us. So, it is up to me and me only to help us now, and together we move forward, and hopefully for better. I have to be brave and let myself be loved again, I have to start accepting that our lives is good and in some aspects even better than before. I have to accept that, that is it, this is the life we have, and be happy again. OK, I will be guarded as most of us will, so what? I am not afraid anymore, apart from being afraid of getting stuck, and I will not. Thank you Duane, for showing that it is possible to achieve what I found impossible 3 years ago, in fact if wasn’t for this blog, I would have given up very early on, thanks God I found it! I am a work in progress and really hope to get there soon.

  6. tryinghard February 5, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    Trytowife and Duane
    As usual with so many of these posts, you took the words out of my mouth. However in my case there are a few more things my H can do to help me recover. I am working on those. But he has changed so much since DDay and I really see the difference and I tell him that I notice and appreciate it. I have all the same feelings you have. We do need to stay positive and it is when I get negative that my fears and anxiety start to rear its ugly head. I don’t want these feelings anymore and am working very hard to overcome them. I am sick of them intruding on my wonderful life. Yes Duane we do only have one life and we must live it. I love love your point about worrying and fretting over whether the affair will start up again. You are right I have NO control over it. It is NOT in my hands. This is a very healing message for me. I am going to concentrate on that message.
    I too love this blog and I relate to so much that is posted. It is comforting to know that we share so much and express it here without any judgement (well except when we judged Jody but that doesn’t count. She lost us when she attacked the wife :). I think it is so important to be able to write this stuff down and get it out.

    Thanks also to Doug and Linda for starting this and keeping it going.. It was brave.

  7. forcryin'outloud February 5, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    Duane thanks for the inspiring post. It’s been 2.5 yrs since the big D-day and about a year since the last. I feel we are just getting our sea legs into this “new” marriage. As much as I wish this never happened it changed our relationship for the better. Maybe I should say it changed my H for the better. Like Duane said “in most cases cheaters cheat because there are deeper personal issues being avoided that have nothing to do with the betrayed.” That has been the big takeaway from this entire ordeal for both me and my H. Like he told me the other night it wasn’t a “relationship” it was selfishness.

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