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