Recovering From an Affair is a Process

heartbrokenThis weekend we received a comment suggesting that instead of me memorializing the day Doug told me he didn’t love me anymore, I should celebrate the day he told me I was the best thing that ever happened to him. 

I teased Doug and asked him when exactly that day was – today or yesterday – and he teased back said it was “Just this morning.”

Teasing aside, I think we were both being pretty honest and the reason for this post is to allow other people who are recovering from an affair to realize that there really isn’t a day or a time when everything is the way it should be or you finally realize the love is back.

I want others to understand that recovering is a process and that I couldn’t pick a particular day to celebrate.  I guess any day when you are moving forward would be a day to count your blessings.

I believe the hardest misconception about affairs is that they end at the time the spouse finds out, and after that the cheating spouse falls down on their knees begging for forgiveness and eternal love.

Well if you are one of the lucky few who have experienced this you probably don’t need this site.

I believe we all have learned that everything is a process.  The process began before the affair. I am sure that none of us can pick a particular day or event that made our marriages deteriorate. In our case it was a series events that started with us taking each other for granted, which turned into resentment  and not spending enough alone time together, etc.

Beginning the emotional affair was also a process. There was the flirting and crossing of boundaries, and before they knew it they were in a full blown betrayal.

Ending the affair also took time because of the addiction, guilt, and the confusing infatuation with real love.

Recovering from an affair has been a process for both of us

We both had a lot to deal with and figure out individually, which involved a lot of trial and error.  We each had our issues.  Mine were the insecurity, the betrayal, lack of trust , guilt and trying to get Doug to love me again.

I know Doug had many issues to deal with as well.  Guilt, shame, how he felt about Tanya and me, and how he got himself into this mess.

There were so many times that our actions said one thing but the words just weren’t there.  Or we would say things but our actions weren’t consistent with our words. I believe that dealing with all of these issues made the focusing on our relationship an impossibility.

Honestly, I don’t believe until recently did we arrive at the place in our marriage and recovering from the affair where I feel totally good and secure.

I guess what I want everyone to know is you shouldn’t feel bad if you can’t honestly think of a time when you knew that everything would be OK and that you are totally in love with each other and the affair is something of the past.

What you need to do is look at where you began in this journey and where you are now.

Aside from the emotions and pain, is your relationship better than it was before? Is your spouse moving in the right direction to help you heal? Are you communicating better, being more affectionate and appreciative of each other? Are you making an effort to spend time together and dealing with life as a team?  All of these things are processes that take time.

It takes a long time for your marriage to fall apart, just as it will take a long time to put it back together. I was always looking for the quick fix, being impatient and wanting everything to be OK immediately.  That’s not reality.

What I have learned is that there is a lot of crap to deal with when recovering from an affair, and until you have dealt with the affair head on, and are ready to let it go, you can’t work on being a couple.  You can’t totally be there on common ground with each other.

 

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12 Responses to Recovering From an Affair is a Process

  1. Karen November 8, 2010 at 11:33 am #

    Linda: Do you feel like you’ve forgiven Tanya now? And Doug? I just reread the forgiveness post from this site, since I have been struggling with forgiving and rebuilding trust, and I was wondering if you feel like you’ve completed that part of the process/journey of recovering from the EA. I think I might be close to the forgiveness part (trust is a whole different thing) but wanted your insight.

  2. Jeffrey Murrah November 8, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

    Linda,

    Realizing that recovery is a process is a big step. In our microwave age, people often want instant recovery and instant relationship and instant.. They forget that the instant mindset is part of the problem. To want and seek an ‘instant’ solution only continues the problem that existed before the affair occurred.

    Forgiveness takes time, as does learning how to love , learning how to talk and learning how to be ‘in relationship’ again as well. It sounds like you had some wonderful realizations with coming to grips with the processes involved.

  3. Alice November 9, 2010 at 8:45 pm #

    Just to clarify, in no way did I intend for my earlier comment to mean that all of a sudden life was all sunshine and lollipops again. I meant it as a shift of focus – from negative to positive.
    I believe the betrayed spouse at somepoint along the line has to make a conscience decision to stop letting the trama shape their thoughts and define who they are. Which certainly ISN’T easy – but I think we all need to try.

    • Doug November 10, 2010 at 6:49 am #

      Alice, I agree with your comment, I finally got to the point where I had to make a decision as to whether I was going to continue to allow the affair to interfere with my happiness and life or was I going to begin living again. I just didn’t want to stay in that place anymore, staying there allowed the affair to continue at least in our minds. I couldn’t understand why I was allowing something that I wanted to end so desperately to continue to be a presence in our home. It has been very difficult, and I have to constantly think about why I am doing this, what is it that I am afraid of, what is missing in my life. If someone could look into my brain they would realize that I think way too much. Linda

      • Alice November 10, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

        “If someone could look into my brain they would realize that I think way too much”

        Lol, Linda, you are not alone!

  4. Andrea November 14, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    My husband and I are separated, I asked him to leave, and now he says he doesn’t know if we can give each other what we need so he is unsure of coming back. We have been married 18 yrs and he had the affair for 5 yrs. I feel like he is still trying to have his cake and eat it too and I have to wait for him to decide my future. I love him but don’t feel he wants to focus on how the affair has destroyed me, just on what I did to give him reason to have the affair.

  5. Jane November 18, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    Spot on. It is a process and with each day we discover something new. We hit painful growth spurts and we emerge stronger, happier, more in tune. I’ve learned patience through this process. I wanted the pain of separation from my affair partner to go away immediately. I wanted to feel madly in love with my husband immediately. I wanted everything to be perfect immediately. I’ve had to come to terms with this process and rejoice in each step.

  6. TwiceBetryedJohn (TBJ) March 15, 2011 at 7:00 am #

    I agree, Forgiveness is for the benefit of the self not for the other person. It allows one to heal. My wife of 20 years had her first affair 36 months ago, it was a EA on phones and internet with an office colleague, where she worked remotely. My work and travel for 12 months prior to that had made her really resentful towards me without me knowing about its gravity. The first affair lasted 2 months before I confronted her, and she agreed to stop. I forgave her quickly and started to forget as well. After forgiving her, I had a good 12 months of passionate relationship with her after that D-Day. I thought she also felt the same way, untill I found out otherwise recently.

    A full 24 months after that D-Day, I discovered that she was sleeping with her best friend’ husband and our neighbour for 12 months. In the second affair which was highly physical and emotional, she says she was in love and extremely happy, and never felt that way with me. He was off course so much more handsome and good looking. Her best friend had no clue either. Our Two families were so entangled with 2 kids each, that a lot of time was spent together and lot of memories were created before and during the affair. Talk about triggers, here is the treasure trove, that I can not walk away from easily. They (my wife and him) would spend more than 20 hours a week either in presence of family members or alone. Since she was working from home and three other adults (from the two families) worked in offices, he could come and visit her in weekdays during lunch or other such times and continue this for a long time, 12 months. Rest of the conversations would continue over laptop or phone.

    After the first affair, I was such a fool to have blind trust and love for a women I spent 20 years with. She treated me with contempt for the last 6 months of the affair, lied to her parents and friends, and betrayed her best friend who thought my wife as the bestest friend. Both affair partners (AP) cooked up all the lies to continue the affair. Affair fog was real thick and perhaps even now (6 months after D-Day).

    She was upfront with me about this after confrontation. She did tell me that she stopped the first affair AFTER she started on the real one, the second one. She did not love me ever since affairs began and it was all just physical with me as a spousal duty. That part also went away in the second affair. I accepted that as my fate and decided to uproot, leave the city & state with my middleschool children thinking of leaving her to her own fate. Her parents intervened, and sincerely requested to give one more chance to which I acceded with preconditions: move city, leave job, move far away, no computer, no smartphones, no internet, no work outside for 2 years, focus only on children and me, no romantic movies or love songs indefinately, follow spiritual path and serve the others.

    Six months later, she has stopped communicating her thought about the affair completely. I do not know what she thinks anymore. We spend good 15 hours a week on Yoga and spiritual practices of Art of Living. We just have normal conversations, carefully avoiding triggers. She tries to keep busy at home, while I alone work. She does not tell me that she loves me on her own, but when I take the intiative during the day or in bedroom she reciprocates. I expect her to love me and never stop telling me that she loves me, but I know that her primary reason to come with me was kids in middle school. But our spiritual journey together is beginning to awaken her as she looks inside her for answers and to realize that her uphappyness was in her own mind, and she wanted to blame it on me. Her parents know and tell her constantly that I am the best husband material she can even find and the only thing that will save her from her misery and pain. That puts me to endure for some more time my own pain of betrayal by love of my life, her refusal to shower me with love and positive things to overcome my pain.

    I think the forgiveness will be automatic in my case. As she finds a way to love me back, she will find that she is automatically forgiven. My teacher asked me forgive atleast in my heart, which I will, but I do not plan to verbalize it like when I did after the first affair. My easy forgiveness and not imposing the conditions strictly to change the mindset led to the second and much bigger and painful betrayal.

    At this time, I do not know if we will survive together, because there are too many triggers, repeated mistakes and not enough patience in me, and perhaps too big an ego & pride in her without enough love for me. God bless me and our family.

    -TBJ

  7. Broken May 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Linda…..I needed help today with this very issue and your post helped me. We have done everything you posted. Why then do I have days like today like I just want to run away and leave this whole mess. I am so depressed today and angry at my h even though he is doing everything he can to make it better. We had a great talk Friday..I summarized my perception of what happened…where we are headed. He was receptive and open to conversation…yet today I just want to give up. I have spent the day thinking about leaving. It will be one year in August…I cant go through another year like this. When did this pain stop for you? Do you still have bad days when you want to give up? Do you think its a good idea for someone to take some time away from the situation? Will it really make any difference?

    • Doug May 16, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

      Broken, it has been over two years and up until recently I also had those thoughts. There were days that I was in so much pain that I felt the only way to feel better was to leave. Then I would beat myself up for feeling that way. As silly as it sounds I felt I was going back on my commitment to save our marriage by bailing out two years later. I began to question if Doug was correct when he said I only wanted to save our marriage because he had found someone else. . I had a difficult time understanding how I could still have feelings for Doug but at the same time wanting to leave our marriage. It was very confusing to me.

      Then I began to realize that my feeling were natural, that I had experienced a loss of trust and betrayal and it would take me along time to get over it. It was OK for me to have those feelings, it was my way of trying to cope with all the fear and anxiety. It was also a way for me to portray to Doug how much pain I was experiencing and that I needed more from him to help me get through this. In many ways I needed to begin to have good feelings for him, so he had to really step it up and show me how much he loved me. I don’t think that taking time away would have accomplished this, I believe what helped was more communication, more “real” time together, not walking on eggshells anymore, and just expressing how you are really feeling. Linda

  8. AC August 15, 2011 at 7:40 pm #

    I appreciate your post. Falling into love completely with each other after an emotional affair may be a stretch. I don’t know that this is possible. However, a level of trust that is acceptable can be reached.

    What is critical for complete healing is the physical and emotional boundaries. They must be in place immediately, so that the affair will end permanently. The vagaries of day-to-day living will be tough enough to navigate without the temptation to go back.

    Thanks for this post.

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