Healing from painful memories of past hurt is necessary for health and wellbeing.

healing from painful memories

By Linda

(This article was originally published on 10/11/2012 and updated on 1/26/2021)

I really love the work of Steven Stosny, PhD and I think that much of what he says can be helpful to people in committed relationships as well as those who have been hurt by infidelity.  This post will address his ideas for emotional healing from painful memories.

While searching for a quote recently, I got sidetracked and started reading a few of his other posts on the Psychology Today site.  I came across the following article that deals with the importance and function of painful memories.  However, we need to be aware that our automatic defense system can create false alarms and ultimately undermine the healing process.

Steven Stosny, PhD

Emotional Healing and the Automatic Defense System

Memories of past hurt are necessary for health and wellbeing. They keep us safe in the present and future, by activating an automatic defense system.

It’s easier to see the function of painful memories and the automatic defense system in physical pain. Having burned your finger on a stove makes you more careful when you feel the heat; stepping on a nail last week makes you look before you leap today.

Though more complicated, the function of emotionally painful memories is the same as the physically painful. Recalling betrayal is likely to make you more cautious about whom you trust; remembering the pain of past failures will usually motivate more learning, effort, and attention in future enterprise.

The mammalian brain is remarkable in its ability to perform risk-benefit analyses. It is able to balance memory of pain with the potential reward of a given behavior in the present, as long as the focus is on the present. Unlike other animals, humans often subvert this process by ruminating about the past as if the function of memory and imagination were independent of the present. This leads to vain attempts to solve the problems of the past instead of those we face in the present and future and paves the way for making the same mistakes over and over.

Repairing Hurtful Relationships

The automatic defense system works most efficiently on infrequent hurts with specific memory triggers. When it comes to emotional pain in ongoing relationships, the memory triggers are vast, general, and imprecise. Intimate relationships carry continual reminders of past hurts with generalized memory triggers like tone of voice, body language, or facial expressions.

For example, bumping your knee on a chair or banging your finger while hanging a picture can produce the same tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions as past outbursts of threatening anger, rejection, punishing withdrawal of affection, or abuse. A sullen look after a hard day at work or a typical response to the home team losing a key game can look like the stonewalling and emotional isolation of the past. A distracted or preoccupied demeanor from a spouse who has strayed can trigger the pain of infidelity. In short, the automatic defense system is prone to false alarms and can easily prevent healing and cause more hurt.

The Pain of Betrayal – Do We Have Adequate Words to Describe What it Feels Like?

Just Leaving Won’t be Enough to Heal

If you continue to be hurt in your relationship and are sure that the automatic defense system is not precipitating the hurt, the clear message of your pain is to remove yourself from its source.

Unfortunately, leaving a hurtful relationship will not be enough to disarm the automatic defense system. As a matter of fact, it is likely to become more sensitive as its activation-cues grow less frequent. The amazing adaptability of the human psyche produces one of the cruel ironies about overcoming past hurt. The more frequent and intense the hurt was, the greater your tolerance of it – that’s how the bad becomes bearable. As hurtful incidents decline in frequency and intensity, you actually become more sensitive to them, meaning that far less stimulus hurts far more. You begin to react to the faintest possibility of hurt as if it were highly probable.

Here’s a typical example. You have no doubt lived through painful experience at some time in your life and coped with it remarkably well. Yet almost as soon as it passed you probably mumbled something like, “I could never go through that again!” You became more vigilant for – and intolerant of – anything that remotely resembled the hurtful experience. A tragic example of this phenomenon occurs in suicide. Clinicians have long known that the most dangerous time in a person’s severe depression is when it begins to lift. The newly energized and hopeful victim feels unable to endure the possibility of relapse and is likely to take drastic action at the first significant, albeit temporary, downturn in mood.

Emotional Healing Means Reconditioning

Whether you choose to stay in an improving relationship or to leave it, your automatic defense system will likely undermine your relationships in the future – including those with children – unless it is reconditioned.

Research shows that imagination and memory are opposite sides of the same coin, almost impossible to distinguish with any certainty and highly dependent on current physical and emotional states. Healing is never tied to the past; it is a matter of willful focus in the present.

Emotional healing occurs when the brain associates painful memories with restorative images. Repeating the association over and over conditions the painful memories to stimulate the restorative images automatically, in lieu of the automatic defense system.

Typical grief over loss of a loved one is an example of how this process occurs naturally for most people. Memories of the deceased are acutely painful in the beginning of the grief process; they keep you focused on loss and inhibit premature reinvestment of value in others. Over time, you begin to focus on positive experiences with the deceased – what you’ve gained rather than what you’ve lost – and it becomes pleasurable to think about the loved one. Restorative images of love, meaning, purpose, and appreciation have reconditioned your focus from loss to value-orientation. At that point you are free to invest value more fully in other people and in other areas of your life. (Dr. Stosny’s Blog on Psychology Today)

What about healing from painful memories of infidelity?

One of the most important takeaways from this article for me was when Stosny says:  “Emotional healing occurs when the brain associates painful memories with restorative images.”

It’s understandable how a person can do this somewhat more easily with respect to a loss of a loved one for instance, as Stosny describes above.  How many of us have  felt the intense pain of losing a loved one, but then several months later the pain has been replaced by loving, happy memories?

It is so much more difficult in my opinion when we’re talking about healing from painful memories associated with infidelity.  Most of us tend to associate these memories with nothing but more pain, emotional turmoil and feelings of betrayal.  It’s really tough to find any restorative images!

I think that it just takes time to be able to produce these helpful images.  As time passes and though still painful, the intensity of the pain and hurt from the affair starts to subside and it becomes easier to go beyond that pain to focus on things that are more positive and therefore more restorative.  It also helps tremendously to have a spouse who has done as much as possible to help you heal along the way.

Opt In Image
Regaining Control:
Dealing With Obsessive Thoughts, Triggers and Memories of the Affair

Arm yourself with a variety of techniques, practical strategies and  knowledge to help you to manage those intrusive thoughts, triggers and memories of your partner’s affair.

In our situation, I’ve been able to look beyond the affair to an extent and see that we now have a relationship that is so much better than before.  That in no way implies that the affair was a good thing and that it isn’t still painful, but it does shine a more positive light on its outcome. 

There’s no way in this world that I could have put such a positive spin on things without a sufficient period of time passing and after putting in the hard work required to recover.  Affair recovery is a long process and it takes a long while for the negative images to dissipate and for new, better memories to take their place.

What do you think?  Have you had any success with healing from painful memories of infidelity by associating them with something more positive and restorative?

Here’s a video with another perspective on letting go of the past. 

A Few of Steven Stosny’s Books: 

Living and Loving after Betrayal: How to Heal from Emotional Abuse, Deceit, Infidelity, and Chronic Resentment

“Love Without Hurt: Turn Your Resentful, Angry, or Emotionally Abusive Relationship into a Compassionate, Loving One”

“How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It”

“You Don’t Have to Take it Anymore”

 

 

 

    31 replies to "Emotional Healing from Painful Memories"

    • Natalia

      Linda: I agree when you say: “It is so much more difficult in my opinion when we’re talking about the painful memories associated with infidelity. Most of us tend to associate these memories with nothing but more pain, emotional turmoil and feelings of betrayal.” And this was me for a long time. Even today I feel it sometimes. But I’ve come a long way and have emerged as a strong woman. However, I will never go through an EA again! My relationship with my H today is 100% better than it was 2 1/2 years ago. I guess something had to give to make it possible. The only good thing that I attribute to his EAs if the fact that I was brave enough to put a stop to his nonsense, fight for our marriage and make him WANT to come back to me. So every time I think or happen to read about someone’s EA I sigh with relief that that period of my life is over and the future looks promising. But there are a few things that bother me. As good as it is today, there is one thing I miss from the “old marriage”: the loss of unconditional trust. I really hope one day to overcome this. It’s not fun to love your husband but not fully trust him. Actually when I think about it, it hurts and feels like trigger. But then, what else can I do? That feeling is always going to be there. In order to get over it, I concentrate on the good things my husband has accomplished and how everything is discussed and nothing is held back. Just thinking about this makes me feel better. Thanks for the post.

    • Amanda

      My healing came from God, and realizing I was a whole
      person, wheather I was married or single. By being psychologically autonomous, I am able to stand on my own two feet. I recognize the importance of relationships however the same time I keep my own identity from being swallowed up or destroyed by another person.
      My world did not end when I divorced, I continue to live without self-destructing.
      Forgiving is so important, and realizing that you can have a life with or without a mate is so important.
      With that being said, how do you heal when someone cheated on you, forgive them, and accept what happened,
      and move forward, its the same as divorce you need time
      healing and forgiveness.
      As long as we continue to be in a relationship with others
      there will come a time when we will also get hurt by that
      person, when we forgive it frees us to move forward.
      Sometime marriages survive infidelity and sometimes
      they don’t, what ever the case maybe, being psychologically autonomous allows you to stand on your own two feet.
      We have to choose to let the past go and not relive it over
      and over, when a past memory comes up deal with that
      memory and tell yourself that was then this is now, and let it go. Overtime with forgiveness the good memories will
      be there, and hold on to those memories and let the bad ones go. Life is to short to live in the past, and its the here and now that counts.

    • ChangedForever

      Amazingly, i spent about an hour with my H last night, what was our 2yr DDay ‘antiversary’ as Doug taught me to refer to it, talking about just this subject. We (really I) talked about how my dealing with the painful memories is still the open wound. I’m trying to get my H to help me vs attending one on one counseling without him (which i tried…) but, after reading this post and comments , realizing life is so precious and i need to be really focused on what i and we need, it really is my H that needs to do some work here…and not just being more attentive and ‘pal-ling around’ together-which he told me he likes…(which is exactly what got him into trouble with his last affair partner,) its trying to find out how HE could’ve done all this damage before and after i found out. How, all those YEARS of EAs and the inevitable EA/PA which brought the house down around us, could have happened while i went about what i thought was, my life, its trials & tribulations with my children…and my H.
      I, unfortunately, have really had no success (that has lasted,) with replacing painful memories…but i have hope to be able to…one day. Or at least to have them (those stabbing memories) lessen. But replacing the pain of what we went thru with positives? VERY hard to imagine that, right now…
      What i long for short term (as well as long term…) Just one day of my life whereby i don’t have to have a trigger cross my path or a thought of the affair…what unfortunately i’ve distanced myself from is the former me, BEFORE discovery. I was so good at seeing the positive, finding it for others and preaching the need for it. Now, doing that for others ? I feel like a hypocrite. I cannot practice what i preach (yet…)

    • Amanda

      ChangedForever,
      You mentioned that you have ” distanced yourself from is the former me, BEFORE the discovery.
      ChangedForever, do not let what he did steal from the person you once were, if you were postive person and helped others by preaching the need for it, continue to
      be that positive person you once were. Do not let his
      affair steal away anything from you. His choice to have an
      affair was his own downfall, his bad choice, his own destrution to himself. As an individual you have no control
      over the choices he makes, but you need to hold on to who you are as a individual. Hold on to your own identity and do not let it get swallowed up or destroyed by another person. Be the person you once were, and hold on to that.
      In his own weakness he allowed himself to fall into an affair, do not let his weakness bring you down.
      Forgive him, but remain strong, and know that God made you perfectly you, don’t throw that away over someone
      elses downfall.

      • Amanda

        ChangedForever,
        Since we have no control over someones elses behavior,
        all we can do is to control our own, and not allow someone elses bad behavior to control you. By being yourself and allowing yourself to be the person God created you to be, you will be content with who you are.
        If your spouse has an affair and blames you, for their own
        lack of self control, you need to stay strong and don’t not let their foolish behavior get to you. If that means they leave so be it, let them go. No one should be in a relationship
        where you fear if you say or do something that the other person will either cheat again or leave because your afraid of being yourself. In order for a relationship to work after
        a betrayel the betrayed spouse needs to be themselves
        and let down their defenses so they can live again, if
        the cheating spouse doesn’t appreciate them, theres
        always the door.
        I know for myself, I had to leave my own marriage when
        I realized I didn’t want to dance to the beat of his drum.
        Instead I could be content walking to the beat of my
        own drum. It was better for me to let him go and find
        my own life, at least I am free from being cheated on ever again from him. I forgave him, so I have full control over
        my life again. I also am happy because the past of this is over and I can continue to be myself and let God change me from Glory to Glory.

    • exercisegrace

      In the early years of our marriage, we lived in Florida. There, we had to learn certain things. How to recognize local poisonous snakes, how to treat a jellyfish sting, and what to do if you got caught in a riptide. That last one was counter-intuitive. The people that got caught up in this strong current and drowned were the ones that struggled against it. They fought, tired and went under. They should have floated with it, even though it meant initially being carried a little further out into the ocean. They needed to wrench their gaze away from the shore, even though that obviously was still the ultimate goal. Float far enough, and you get past the big waves that are causing the riptide. Only then can you summon the strength to make it back to shore.

      And so it is with affair recovery or at least it is for me. I did not deserve what happened to me. I did not cause it. I do not carry the weight of responsibility for it. It was not and is not a good thing, even though my faith tells me that God CAN and WILL bring beauty from the ashes. I have tried to think “happy” thoughts or think about something else or whatever. For me, it simply does not work. I am coming to the conclusion that this pretty much sucks and it always will to some degree. The best I can do is stare it in the face, accept what happened, understand what I can do to keep it from happening again, make sure my husband knows what to do to keep it from happening again (and what the consequences will be if it DOES). Like the riptide, it is useless to fight it. My emotions are like giant waves that wash over me. If I ride it out, the anger ebbs, and calmer emotions return. Each successive wave is just a tiny bit smaller. In time, I think I will be safely back on the shore. But it will take courage and a lot of hard swimming.

    • Amanda

      ChangedForever,
      I had to be defined as a woman, by the way my exhusband treated me, I would be in sad shape, and pathetic. By me not allowing him to control who I was by his actions, I was able to keep my own identity, and not get lost in his irrational behavior, when someone else doesn’t have their own life in order, and we try to mesh with them, we can get
      lost in a tangled mess, when a relationship should be 2 healthy people coming together bringing the best to each other and it becomes a strenght, instead relationship when infidelity is used as a means to as away to control their spouse. Something is very off balance when your spouse brings another person into the marriage, as a way to take control. As a former betrayed spouse myself
      I had to leave that relationship behind because I refused
      let myself remain with a spouse who didn’t repect me, or
      our marriage.

      • Rachel

        Amanda,

        You sound so healthy. I feel like I get to a good place and then I take 10 steps backwards.
        There were good times in our marriage and my mind goes to them often and I miss them. I miss him. Why? He was so mean and disrespectful to me and our marriage. This week his cousin of 61 years old took his own life. Reasons because he was unhappy and stressed. It seems that they all have a chemical imbalance. I just feel if he could get help with medication he wouldn’t feel like he does and none of this would have happened between us. Why am I still hoping? Our marriage is over! He doesn’t want our marriage or me. I’m back to having a hard time accepting this?

        • Amanda

          Rachel,
          The truth is that there are happy times within a marriage, so hold on to those memories. Just because a couple splits up it doesn’t mean that everything in that relationship
          was bad.
          Rachel, for the first few months after my divorce, I sometimes would take a nap because my job was a very
          early morning job, as I would stir myself awake, I would have the thought of what if this was all just a very bad dream and when I open my eyes everthing will be
          as it once was, of course when I opened my eyes,
          the reality of it all kicked in.
          It takes time, the first year is the hardest, however by the
          end of the first year you will begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
          You will experience many emotions during this time, for the first few months I would feel pain for a day or two, then
          anger would set in, I felt good on my anger days, then it would go back to pain, then bargining set in, where I would pray and try to make a deal with God, that if he restored my exhusband and I together again, I promised this and that to God, of course that didn’t happen, but it was part of the grief process. Of course your sad as your going through of this, your grief will get less and less, and one day you will
          be ready to move ahead with your own life, you will actually get sick of greiving, you will know when this happens.
          I also got a couple small books on healing from divorce, and the different stages, it helped me, because I was able to see my own progression in my healing, and I started to look foward to each new stage as I read about them.
          About a year after my divorce, I felt like a whole new person, and my happiness and joy returned. Then I had to work on forgiving that took longer, because as something
          surfaced I had to work through it and forgive it, then a few
          days would go by and something else that I held inside
          would surface and I would repeat this over and over many many times, letting each thing go. Sometimes several
          months would go by and something else would surface again, forgiving was a process for me, and I feel like I have total forgiveness now.
          Rachel, I believe we all grieve in our own time and way, also you may heal a little faster or it could be slower, it depends on the person, and other factors.

          • Rachel

            Amanda,
            Thank you so much for your reply. Can you share the names of the books that were helpful to you?
            I have been in touch with my sons guidance counselor weekly because he is having a very difficult time with the divorce and his father moving out of town. She said the same thing that we grieve in our own time, something that my son doesn’t understand . His father has moved on and never grieved. Of course my son is only 16 and doesn’t understand.
            I had a dream last night that my husband woke up and we were back together. I was calm, happy, and worried. Then I woke up and new it was a dream because even if he was wrong, he would never admit it.
            Thank you again, Amanda. I enjoy reading your posts.

            • Amanda

              Rachel,
              I wish I could remember the names of those books and the authors, I gave those books away a couple of years
              ago to someone else who divorced and that person has relocated to a different area since than. I am sure there
              are local bookstores that would have those same type of books, or even on line.
              I was fortunate my children were older when we divorced, they also were very protective of me, but I told them that
              even though it didn’t work out between their dad and I, that
              they should still remain close to their dad also.
              There still is a bond between my exhusband’s family
              and mine, also my exhusband and I get along. We agreed that for our children and grandchildren we all would benefit
              by everyone getting along, and it works.
              Rachel, the pain of all this will ease with time, and everyone’s life will eventually settle down and when that
              does so will your stress level.

            • Rachel

              Amanda,

              That’s ok, if you should ever remember the names just blog them for I think I’ll be on this site forever.
              I’m not sure if i mentioned that my H’s cousin took his own life this week. Sixty one years of age and every thing to live for. Such a sweet wonderful wife, a great paying job and also retirement just around the corner. It shocks me that another member of the family can think so little of his wife. She found him and he knew that she would . Out of 9 cousins only one is still married. They all range in ages from 40 to late 50’s . I find this so strange. Why are they all so difficult to please?
              My jealousy is the issue that I have for not moving on. I still love this man and the thoughts of him being with other women just kills me. I don’t know what I’ll do when I see him with someone else. If I could let go of him like he’s let go of me , my battle would be over. I could move on and be stress free, but I don’t have an answer how to do this.

            • Amanda

              Rachel,
              What works for some people getting over someone may not work for others. I can only speak my own experience,
              after I signed my divorce papers, I moved to a different state, of course I don’t suggest doing that, I only did it because it gave me better opportunities.
              By me living in a different state, I was never around my exhusband therefore it gave me the chance to heal and get over him.
              I don’t know how long it would take to get over someone
              when you see that person around on a regular bases,
              I assume it would take a little longer then if you weren’t.

    • chiffchaff

      It is very hard to replace painful memories with happy ones but it’s true that you have to do this to heal and recapture a focus on the present and not the past. I don’t want our current life to be dominated by what my then selfish H decided to do to us for a bit of short term physical pleasure.

      It’s important to do different and new stuff together as these form the basis of the new memories. As many couples trying to save their marriages together have mentioned in postings they seem to naturally start doing more fun stuff even while the emotional turmoil is still churning. I know that this was part of my first response to try and address some of the problems that my H’s PA/EA revealed with our marriage.
      Only last night I was driving home from work feeling happy about some aspect of the day and remembering a good time we’d recently had, then the immensity of what my H did fell into those thoughts but only stayed for a few minutes. Seems right that when you’re feeling like you’re getting carried away with happy feelings your brain chips in and reminds you that this is the same man who could do horrible things too. A dose of reality. the problem for us BSs is that following Dday we have far too much reality to deal with all at once.

      • exercisegrace

        I am glad I am not the only one that this happens to on a regular basis. I HATE that. I can be at our kids’ soccer game, talking and laughing with a friend, and then wham. I am drop kicked back into the reality of what happened. I am sure that it is some basic survival instinct, but it is exhausting to live this way.

    • ChangedForever

      Amanda, thanks for all your support and positive comments. And ExerciseGrace, wow, that analogy about fighting or not fighting the riptide…was amazing. I forwarded your post to my H who is a newly (40 years/) retired Beach Patrol Captain…he will relate. Loved that.
      Thx all for your posts, comments and support this week, an 8 day ‘week’ of painful memories…but now, i am no longer fighting the tide. Come to think of it, i haven’t been for quite sometime….the ‘distancing’ results in many things….

    • KelBelly

      I am beginning to think that I will never come out the other side of this. Every day I am over run with all the things my husband said and did for this other woman who he said was just a game to him but sat and watched me struggle and do everything I could to just make him happy and love me.

      How can I get past him telling her that we were only roomates and that he was only here until his son graduated. How do you see beyond your husband telling another woman that he wants to be her night in shining armour and will be there when she needed him while the whole time you would give anything to hear those words. How do you get passed your husband telling another woman that he loved her.

      I am so tired of hearing that it was all just part of a game. I am tired of hearing that I didnt mean any of it. I am tired of hearing I was angry with you! I am tired of getting the look and the tone when I try talking about. I am no closer today to understanding any of it than I was on DDay. How does someone who is suppose to love you with all their heart do something so damaging?

      Is he just staying here until our son graduates? Is he just appeasing me until he can get out? Did he truly love this other woman in some way. What did she say to get him to open up and be happy? How do I ever trust that he is telling the truth? I question everything he tells me! I want to feel it in my heart again when he sais he loves me.

      How do I make him see that what he saw as a game was very real and very hurtful. 7 1/2 months and I am still struggling with trying to hold on to the happiness we once had and praying that we will be again but wanting to run away everyday.

    • kelbelly

      Boy have I come a long way since My last post in this section. I need a little help with a decision I have made. Tomorrow is my H’s birthday and the day that I found the message that led to DDay the next day.

      I have been having issues with wanting to celebrate my H’s birthday so I have chosen to go horse back riding tomorrow. I have given him a present and he went fishing with his friends today so I do not feel guilty about my decision as far as he is concerned but our son is really upset that I am not staying home to celebrate. I have always made a big deal out of my H’s b-day so I can see where this is hard for him.
      How would you all deal with this issue? I am so afraid that if I stay. it will be a bad day and I don’t want that.

      • Linda

        Kelbelly, this is a tough one. I know how difficult Dday anniversaries can be especially when the coincide with a birthday or holiday. Does your son know the situation? Children need normalcy and traditions, it makes them feel safe. He is probably upset because he is afraid that if you don’t celebrate your husband’s birthday that things are not going well and you do not love each other anymore. Maybe for his sake more than your husbands you show some kind gesture or celebration. I know it will be very difficult and there will be triggers all day but it is also a chance to move on and do something new for his birthday. Something that may not produce so many triggers. Just pretend it is a day out or a special dinner not your husband’s birthday or the day he really screwed up. Good luck, Linda

      • forcryin'outloud

        KB, ironically 4th of July is d-day as well as the vacation (2 yrs prior) my h took to see the OW. i H-A-T-E fireworks now so I get where you are coming from. I agree 100% with Linda. What if you make new memories…ask them to come riding with you or do something all of you enjoy. I know for quite some time my child looked relieved when he saw my h and I affectionate to one another. Taking the high road sucks but as we BS know that’s what separates us from the OW. Best of luck!!!

    • KelBelly

      Thank you for writing Linda and forcryin’outloud. I have decided to take my H and son to breakfast and then they are going to go with me to get some things I need for my new saddle. After getting home, I am going to have hubby help me get everything set up for my horse and then I have been told by my son that I can go on my horse ride 🙂

    • Kittypone

      I am almost 4 years of DDay….I no longer feel the boiling rage I did when my moron h would be still talking to the harlot and telling me that they were completely through. Very seldom do I have triggers like I did in the past. Just last night I had to remind him that just because the crisis is 4 years in the past, does NOT mean that any healing I might have done was any of HIS doing, as he hasn’t done much of anything to help me heal….his way of “healing” is just burying everything, turning the page and calling the chapter closed. How do I make him understand that my heart was beyond broken?? That he completely demolished it and his lack of empathy for my pain simply does NOT rebuild the relationship? He keeps talking about saving resources to buy a retirement home, but he doesn’t seem to understand that I don’t TRUST him!!! HOW do I know that he isn’t using me as a “smoke screen” before the world, but that in reality his heart and emotions and soul are being shared with someone else??? He keeps saying that’s not the case, but I can’t believe ANYTHING that comes out of his mouth!!! How many times did he deny his affair while have phone sex with the harlot?? He hasn’t done JACK to bring us closer together; if ever we go out to eat, he expect me to pay for my share of the meal; if we happen to travel (our grown children live about 3 hours from us) he expects me to split all expenses in half; I mean, the man doesn’t do A THING to win me back!!! I don’t want to make it look like I’m having a pity party, I just want to know if I could expect things to keep going down hill from here, should I just throw in the towel or what? Intimacy has slowly trickled down to about maybe once a month, so…..can someone shed some light here? Doug? Linda? Sarah? Anyone??

      • Nearly Normal

        Hi, Kittypone.
        I am like you, except genders reversed. She really did not understand, for the longest time, that trust could not start up again like nothing had happened. Even though years have passed, any time she did something that betrayed my trust (or even merely felt like she was betraying my trust) it opened up the old wounds and the pain started up all over again. Doesn’t even take that much, some days. I just passed the 20th anniversary of D-day. I thought I was past this sort of thing, but I felt it real bad. Threw off my hard-earned equilibrium for a couple weeks. Still getting my act together.
        It’s an ugly and long road. You have already given so much for him when he doesn’t deserve it.
        It might help to think of trust in two different ways. There is a kind of trust that is given, and another kind that is earned. You can chose to trust him, believing that he will not betray you now. That is a gift you give him, not necessarily earned. But he must show trustworthy behavior eventually. How much time you give him is entirely up to you. You are in the driver’s seat.
        It also might help to speak very directly to him on these things. (Maybe you already have, I’m not sure.) Be very clear that you want him to do x and y if trust is to be restored.
        Maybe these few words are helpful. Hang in there, whatever place your road leads you.

    • trevor

      how can we deal with making new memories during a pandemic ? april 16th is day .this valintines is when my wifes affare tirned sexual . A day after valintines . A day after she said she loved me in a real nice card. I was choosing not to do it v day not to get a card. But i also know we have come a long way. So i went out and got a card . As i was reading them i had alot of bad thoughts and good ones . Mostly as i read them i said to my self thats not my wife anymore she is not like that. I found the right card. But we both cant do a thing we have been locked up most of the year . How can i make good memeroies if we are locked ?

    • Regina

      It’s been a bit over two years for me. I still can’t shake it off. I still have bad days. I still think about my H one month affair every single day. The first year we vacationed a few times to get my mind off of it (it didn’t help) now that I’m sitting home all day I can only think of the two of them together. He says it was nothing. For years I was very distant from him. He tried to be close to me but I was stubborn. An old friend reached out to him, he took the chance to feel wanted and started to see her. She always loved him. I’m sure she’s so happy that even tho he was married went with her (but she didn’t know what was happening in our life) she’s also married…He put me down in front of the eyes of a whore (sorry) He says that the day I found out was the last time he talked to her. But who knows. He’s trying so much to make me feel wanted. He thanked me for coming back to him. Whatever I want he gets me. Etc etc… But how can I forget the good time he had with “an old friend” he says he didn’t sleep with her. He only saw her twice. ( I think three) He just hugged and kissed her on the cheek.. ( yeah right)
      The second time he saw her he was with her for six hours…. and he didn’t sleep with her??????😂
      How can I forget? how can I build new memories?when the only memory I have the two of them hugging and kissing and….. How can he say I’m the best in this world. We’ve been married for a very long time. Why didn’t he marry her? She loved and loves him so much….

    • Nat

      Trevor, I am in the same boat as you. I found out April 3 2020 during a pandemic. 5 months pregnant with our first. And to top it off when I found out via his Snapchat they haven’t slept together yet. Just emotional and inappropriate photos. He left our home to live with his parents to have this affair physically. Would check on me, come cut the grass. It was his co worker who knew he was married and pregnant. They had a 4 month affair… our son was born in august and he hasn’t spoken to her since. She has moved jobs. Also they are both nurses. I have become so anti health care professionals right now during this pandemic. He still says he thinks about her time to time. He blocked her, he doesn’t have social media anymore or have her on it. And I randomly ask him to go through his phone. We turned on one another’s locations on our phones. We both are doing individual therapy. The couples route… therapist called him out saying he isn’t ready. He’s still in the shame phase. So it won’t work. We haven’t been intimate since April. I don’t know what to do anymore. All I think about is him dirty gross mistress banging in a car. I have so much hate for her. And just hurt from him. I’m lost. He wants to make us work but he wants to sweep it under the rug but knows we can’t do that. I feel like he’s pro longing the recovery.

    • Lolly

      Today I finally got a breakthrough to my husband. He is actually going to read some of the articles on this site! It’s been 9 months since I found all the naked pics and convos and he has been so so sorry and felt guilty about the things he did. To tell you all the truth, right now I feel more hurt by the way he fought with me and talked about me to our friends and family and the OW than I do about the affair. He was completely verbally abusive and sometimes physically abusive. He was someone I didn’t know after 19 years together. It’s hard to talk to my family now. He left me while he was having the affair and blamed his leaving on how I was treating him. So now his mom thinks I’m an unhinged drunk wife. A complete lie he told her to make him look better. We tried working on our relationship then and seemed to be making progress. But it definitely felt like something was wrong. Then d day hit. So all that work we put into our relationship then went out the window. All that time I thought I was doing something wrong and all that time he was cheating. The betrayal and the hatred for the ow still can be overwhelming like the day I found out. For the last 9 months he kept making excuses about the affair or changing the subject when I brought it up. It has definitely been hindering my healing and trust. Right now at this time of year there is trigger after trigger. So I blew up last night. I handled my anger and hurt so horribly. He slept on the couch (his choice). But this morning he finally realized he needs help to understand how to move us forward. That it can’t just be me doing it. I am so happy about this! Fingers crossed. I hope other cheating spouses can at least get to the point he is at. Abusing someone’s feelings is just not right! Feeling all the pain that comes from an affair is one of the worst things someone can go through besides the death of a loved one. The cheaters need to get a grasp on that.

      • Nat

        That is awesome news! I am so happy he has finally realized. It boggles my mind how long it takes the cheater to come to their senses. Mine still hasn’t. He hasn’t shown my any empathy yet for some reason. I just am living day by day. Dealing with my own pain alone.

    • Lolly

      Nat, Your situation sounds so much like mine. Just know your not alone. I thought I was until I came across this site. The exception is… my husband, I think, was going through a mid life crisis or something. I am so sorry you had to go through that. I had my husband look at the article that is about cheaters being an alien. He read it by himself at home while I was in another room and he ran past me and puked. He thought before that moment that it wasn’t a big deal what he did. Don’t get me wrong, he felt bad about it and knew it was wrong, but he didn’t sleep with her so it wasn’t that bad. But after reading the article he said he didn’t realize what it did to me and our kids. The turmoil it all caused during that time and how it made him a person he never thought in a million years he would be like. He is getting help for himself and us. I’m praying for you. I hope your husband will do the same and take it seriously.

      • Nat

        Lolly! That brought tears to my eyes. I know I’m not alone in this, it’s hard not to feel alone. I hate that I get random thoughts into my head without even putting them there. I’ve showed him a few of these articles but I don’t think he is at a headspace where he gets it truly yet. That ultimate betrayal. I feel like I was robbed of my husband in a way. This excuse for a human being OW robbed me of making me feel comfortable with my husband. He allowed it.. Just can’t understand. I know it was a selfish act. Nothing I did. He has told me that. Just why can’t he be empathetic? 2 years into our marriage this happens, just celebrated 3 year anniversary and then in a month will be 1 year since Dday. How do we survive another 30+ years of marriage when so early on he did this?

    • Rosalyn

      Ok..He cheated on me after 34 years of marriage. I get it he was bored. She was 15 years younger and had totally destroyed her life by having abortion after abortion. She was damaged goods. Was any of that my fault? No! He is 59 he needs to grow the fuck up. Did I go cheat when he developed ED! No I supported him! I just can’t get over how fast he dropped me. Anyway you only get one chance. Once is a mistake. Twice is in purpose and your gone then! I have forgiven but I haven’t forgotten.

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