A former unfaithful husband gave us permission to share a portion of his affair recovery efforts in the hopes of helping others.

affair recovery efforts

By Doug

I’m currently mentoring a former unfaithful person, “Tom” who is struggling – along with his wife “Nancy” – to heal their marriage after he had a few affairs over fifteen plus years. 

As part of their recovery process, Tom has written an extensive timeline of his affairs for his wife and has completed a good portion of the Finding Meaning in the Affair exercise, in an attempt to understand more of why he has had his affairs over the years.

Tom has given us permission to post some of his affair recovery efforts so that it might shed some light on things for others.  

This week, we’re going to start with a very small portion of his timeline.  The original document is over 17,000 words and details how each of his affairs occurred along with other pertinent details.  Basically, it’s the where, what when and who part of the discovery process. We didn’t feel it was important to include that information in this post, but thought that you guys might have some interest in his affair recovery efforts after their D-day(s).

In a future follow-up post we will include his answers to the Finding Meaning in the Affair questions.  We felt that if we included that with this post, it would just be too long.

So here we go…

Affair Recovery Efforts of an Unfaithful Husband

By “Tom”

After D-Day #2,  I was in denial about the affair. I had accepted the existence of emotional affairs but refused to accept that I was involved in one. It took me several months after I had left my job before I acknowledged that I was fully in this affair.

I was resentful of any attempt by Nancy to understand the affair and would get defensive whenever challenged. This was of course because I was both lying and trickle-truthing her (once again protecting myself).  She would get upset at my lack of attention to her or me trying to understand why. We would argue and I would get angry at her. I engaged in rug sweeping, denials and lies.

The Affair Recovery Timeline – Shorten It With This One Shift by the Unfaithful Spouse

On multiple occasions I have left the home and the relationship rather than deal with my shortcomings. I had given up, thinking that the situation cannot be fixed, again rather than face my failure as a husband and a wayward in recovery. I wanted things to be forgotten about and we should just “move on.” I was firmly in the fog for at least 12-months post D-Day #2 and in denial and protecting myself for another 12 months.  I attempted to self-reflect, but in the most half-assed way imaginable.

I have recently looked at my first timeline (maybe 500 words) compared to my most recent, which is well over 17,000. I constantly screwed up. I did things I said I would not do and did not do things I said I would. I’m ashamed to say that it took me so long to even attempt to “get it.” Reading the forum and some great books that are out there really hit home how much time I’ve wasted and how I’ve damaged further any chance at reconciliation.

I sometimes shout at the screen when reading the Wayward forum or the Just Found Out. It is so sad to read that people are making some of the same mistakes I have.

During the period after D-day we were making some progress. This was shattered once again when Nancy found my online affairs via Twitter (D-day 3). Initially I opened the Twitter account because I wanted to know what it was all about and why so many people were on it. (I did not, and still don’t quite get it.) I did set up a short profile and friended a few others. I friended a woman who was posting on another sports forum I was a member of.

I used Twitter to flirt with her and a few of her friends. We would be highly sexual, and they would post photos at my request. I would get some sexual satisfaction from this but did sign off and use porn after. This was relatively short lived as I was worried about any fallout from flirting with these women as they were in relationships too.

I initially felt relaxed about pushing the boundaries as it was all online and therefore “not real.”  It did become real though, as they all lived locally, and I was considering trying to meet up with them. Things had got serious and I stopped. I did not delete the account or the messages, but rarely did I go on Twitter again after this.  By the time of d-day #2 I had completely pushed this from my mind and dare I say it…I had forgotten that this even happened. It was only when confronted again did I remember.

I did also communicate with women on Facebook, these were also inappropriate as they were both hidden from Nancy, and on reflection inappropriate in content (some mentioned they used to like me at school.  Others I would try to invite out for drinks with other schools friends. These other friends were “unsafe” and have since been de-friended).

During the time after D-Day #2 I have thought about other women I have acted badly around. I flirted with a woman I worked with while at university, I made it clear I liked her. She fortunately told me to “Go away” in no uncertain terms. I acted as a guarantor on a loan for a friend (£5,000), at no point did I mention this to Nancy. I put us at a level of financial risk. This loan came before a period of transition in my career. I could not afford the repayments should my friend have missed a payment. I put both Nancy and me in financial risk. This friend has also been removed from my life.

I have since deleted most social media accounts. I have Facebook and LinkedIn. I work in a professional environment and use LinkedIn to keep in contact with job agencies and fellow professionals in my industry. I have recently had a break of no contact from AP #2. Subsequently Nancy and I tightened up security and made sure she cannot contact me. Nancy has full access to this account, and we review together who my contacts are and who I can and can’t link to.

The Financial Consequences of Infidelity

Facebook is for family and “safe friends” only. Post D-Day #3, I/we deleted over 100 people from Facebook. As with LinkedIn, Nancy has access to this account too. I have given over access to my e-mail, mobile phone and bank account. At any time, my wife can see whatever she likes. This can happen either on her own or when we’re together.

We have been through hysterical bonding immediately after D-Day #2 and this lasted for quite some time. Since then our sex life had not reduced much but is now art of our normal life. We are now physically and emotionally bonding on an amazing level.

I have removed any “unsafe” friends from my life, these being people who knew about the affairs (and were complicit) or friends who have engaged in similar activities. I have no contact with people I previously worked with. The only exceptions to this being a close colleague who retired and a “safe” friend who no longer works for the business. This to remove any chance of breaking no contact through a third party and to avoid triggers.

I have removed most female friends from Facebook and the contact list on my phone. The only ones I have are either professional (vetted by Nancy) or close “safe” friends. I’m attempting to give my wife everything I failed to give her in the past. I’m always trying to give 110% and focus my attention on her.

We are both regularly reading and contributing to online forums. We are working together through various books and talk about what happened in the affairs and why. As stated above, I have written a detailed timeline and we are working through this together generating several “why” questions.

We went to marriage counseling but found this to be of little use. The councilor seemed to blame Nancy for the affair. Before we got a chance to address this issue, it was cut short due to Covid. We will not return but are considering options for another councilor. We have not tried individual counseling as there are very few specialists in our area. Maybe this is a UK thing?!? It seems the US is more geared up for this.

Why Triggers Are So Hard and Why They Should Never be Minimized

I have been making mental notes of the triggers Nancy suffers and try to either avoid them or be there as support when they happen. I no longer get angry when she is triggered and understand that they are my fault. We have put in boundaries to ensure safety and to retrain my mindset.

I am not having one-on-one meetings with female work colleagues unless this is in an open plan office. I invite at least one other to the meeting should we be discussing confidential matters. Any contact via personal e-mail or text message is shown Nancy and all passwords have been handed over.  My old mobile phone has been handed over too.

I have such deep regret for all my actions and the extreme damage I have caused Nancy. She is an amazing person who is sticking by me despite the huge mount of damage I have done to her and our marriage. I am extremely lucky to still be in a position to work on recovery.

I hope this does not come across as me being a victim or that I was tricked into any of the above. I know I made the choice to have the affairs and I take responsibility for them. I need help in dealing with my issues and understanding the whys.

**Feel free to discuss your (or your spouse’s) affair recovery efforts in the comment section below.



    4 replies to "The Affair Recovery Efforts of an Unfaithful Husband – A Case Study (Part 1)"

    • Always questioning

      Thank you for sharing this. I am 14 mo post DDay. My husband had an affair with a Ho-worker and during the time he was with her, there was a tight knit group of friends/coworkers that they hung out with often. He insists no one knew what was going on between them, but come on. For the two of them to believe they could carry on an affair for two years and no one at work knew or suspected is completely ridiculous. Anyway, since he has cut off the affair, he has had zero social contact with any of this group. He does still work for the same company, but now works from home and only goes into the office when absolutely necessary, for a couple hours at a time. Considering he’s been in the office a total of 6 times in 14 months, and when he does go in, it’s with a recorder running in his pocket the entire time, I feel like this works for us. He never complains about the total loss of freedom/privacy and has done pretty much every single thing he can do to make me feel as secure and comfortable as possible. We have our issues and major bumps, obviously. But he has done all the work right along with me to save our marriage. My issue is that recently one of these other male friends that is a part of that group (that she’s still a part of) has started reaching out wanting to go have a drink because they never hang out anymore. Although my husband doesn’t push it too much, he does mention it and is hopeful that I will “soften my stance” on this guy as they were “friends before she was in the picture”. I honestly feel so disappointed that he has a desire to even be around him. He says he wants to forget she even exists, but seeing this guy is a sure fire way to, at the very least, hear about her. I can’t help but question why he would want any connection. Is he lying about feeling disgusted by thought of her and wishing she’d disappear forever? If he’s lying abt that, what else is he lying abt? How does he not associate this man with her!? They were all out at every event together. To me, I can’t think this man’s name without thinking hers. Honestly, even though I know he won’t go now because of my reaction, I’m feeling bothered that he even brings it up in the first place. I worry about contact or info filtering through this third party and quite frankly, I’m extremely pissed that he doesn’t. And I either have to ACT like a self confident person who doesn’t try to control her husband (like I USED to actually be) and say “it’s fine, go ahead”, or be the wife that dictates who he can and can’t hang out with. (I mean why not, I suppose. I’m already the wife that makes her husband wear a recorder so how much worse can it be?) I’m feeling very resentful of the fact that he doesn’t WANT to stay as far away from that entire situation as possible. Am I crazy for being worried about him being interested in hanging out with this guy every once in a blue moon? After reading this article, I don’t feel like I’m way off base, but any advice or perspective is appreciated.

      • Cynthia

        Always questioning,
        I am so sorry you’re going through this. It is such a nerve-wracking, crazy making experience.
        I am going through it myself now too, having recently found out about my husband’s emotional affair with a coworker.
        I’m learning that my husband, and perhaps guys in general, have a less fine-tuned understanding of slippery slopes and safety boundaries (sorry, guys!). Women are immensely in tune with their bodies, their feelings, and their safety. Your husband’s safety boundaries for *himself* should place interaction with that particular set of friends into his Danger Circle. Quite apart from *you* needing to feel safe in his behaviors (which is 100% required), he needs to ensure that his behaviors are safe for him too.

        I wish you much luck in your journey. Know that you’re not alone.

    • Andrew

      Hi, I am a wayward who had an emotional affair similar to the situation above. I have since manage to secure a new job and have ZERO contact with anyone associated with the company, especially the former AP. I do not think you’re asking too much for your WS to break all contact with anyone associated with the group, even if this is a one to one with a male colleague. You need to create and keep those boundaries in place. It seems from what you have written you are in this position of setting them up, but keep at it. You need that security and so does your husband. It is easy to agree to boundaries. The difficulty I found was changing my mindset immediately after d-day. It took a while for me to fully learn the new ways of living (not helped by rug sweeping, denials, lies, still being in the fog etc). Leaving the company was the best thing I did. After this time ALL the previously agreed boundaries (and more as I was starting the process of self improvement) were left in place. I still have to think about these when at work and have to remind myself of the pain I have caused. They are now second nature, but I need to keep myself in a safe environment until I am fully fixed and fully know that I will never be that person again. I think I’m there, but am so scared that the former me will return.

      Keep that safe environment for you both. Having done the hard work, it would be a real blow to the relationship should this slip backwards. Temptations is a problem I keep a big distance from. Additionally you need to think about the triggers you will both suffer from this meeting should it happen. Obviously these will be strong for you, but he will trigger too. The article mentions “safe” friends. This guy does not seem to be safe, so probably best to steer clear!

      • Cynthia

        Thanks so much for sharing this Andrew!

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