get in touch with your own power

It’s imperative that you get in touch with your own power after infidelity strikes.

By Linda & Doug

We wanted to address a common struggle that many – if not most – of our betrayed readers and members experience at some point in their recovery and healing process. 

A loss of control or power of the situation. 

Now typically there are 2 general scenarios that we commonly encounter:

  1. The unfaithful person refuses to end their affair and/or make a choice as to who they are going to choose to be with.
  2. The unfaithful spouse isn’t participating in the recovery and healing process.

For the purposes of this post, we’d like to concentrate on the second scenario.

Here’s an excerpt from an email we received a while back that demonstrates this particular situation.  (And we get these types of emails on a daily basis.)

I’ve been going to group sessions and have gotten support and learned many coping mechanisms to help with my despair. I’ve tried to work with my spouse, but four months after D day, he was done. Over it. “Get over it or don’t. Move on.” How I hate those hurtful words. He says he’s been good. He’s made changes. I have nothing to worry about. How do I know? Because he tells me so.

Here’s the thing: he still works at that company; he still has contact with his affair partner; he won’t prove it by showing texts and emails after promising to do just that. On and on. One broken promise after another. He doesn’t care to rebuild trust. He doesn’t care about forgiveness. He says to just be happy! No resolution. No more discussion or clarification.

Trying to get him to read articles is futile. He doesn’t believe in any therapy, refuses to talk to anyone besides himself and believes what his brain tells him. I’m the victim in this, yet I must treat him as the victim giving in to avoid his emotional and verbal punishment for hurting his feelings!! That’s insane!

Recently, I (Doug) shared the email with David Feder during an interview for the Affair Recovery Movement.  

David is a psychotherapist who specializes in helping people recover from infidelity, a forgiveness trainer and a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist.  He is also the founder of the website My Life After an Affair and is passionate about helping people recover from infidelity.

I asked him several questions on how a person should address such a situation in a way that they can empower themselves to somehow affect the recovery and healing process. (among other things as well)

You can listen to the full interview below:


David also shares some DO’s and DON’T’s that the Hurt Partner May Want to Consider (David goes over these in the audio as well):


  1. Accept that the affair happened
  2. Discover your “best self” & be that person
  3. Know your VISION & keep focused
  4. Draft healthy boundaries/ Consequences/accountability
  5. Be in control of your emotions/reactions
  6. Maintain authentic connection/honesty
  7. Create a good support network
  8. Give the wayward partner space to figure them self out within boundaries 


  1. Insist on holding onto the past, trying to re-create the past; your old relationship is DEAD
  2. Define yourself based on what the WS does and doesn’t do
  3. Remain dependent
  4. Be reactive; wishy washy
  5. Offend from the victim position (guilt/shame)
  6. Be passive-aggressive
  7. Do it alone
  8. Threaten the wayward partner to do something you aren’t sure of

Empowering Affirmations

In an earlier post Sarah P shared some empowering affirmations that one might consider

She created a list of affirmations that she sincerely hoped you will read often.  Sarah goes on to say…

“I invite you to take it a step further and to say these affirmations aloud to yourself. Our brains are wired in such a way that repetition is required to develop new thought patterns and habits. If these affirmations do not sound like your inner voice as of yet, I invite you to say them out loud many times until you feel them. Of course, if any of these affirmations do not suit your needs or fit your situation, there is no need to use them.

See also  Bad News For Relationships?

It is simply a suggested list that I have put together for you. All of these affirmations are written for anyone to use. If you believe in the one God, then I invite you to pray with these. As always, my advice is only a suggestion and never something that you should do just because I suggested it.”  (If you’d like to download and print off a PDF version of this list, click here)


I always have a choice.

I can always say no to people or situations that do not align with my life’s highest good and purpose.

I can positively shape my personal experiences by seeking out the things that I need and by letting go of the people or ideas that no longer serve me.

I do not have to stay in a marriage for economic reasons or for children. I stay in a marriage because I wish to stay there.

I can say no and walk away from situations that cause me emotional pain or turmoil.

I do not have to do anything that I do not wish to do.

I do not have to do something because someone tells me I should do it.

If my wayward spouse is still having an affair, I do not owe my wayward spouse anything. I will not allow my wayward spouse to use me emotionally or physically because I am a valuable person who deserves respectful and faithful relationships.

I choose not to use codependent thinking or codependent reasons to stay in a relationship that no longer serves me.

I choose not to lie to myself or others by making excuses for an emotionally abusive or adulterous spouse.

If I choose to stay in a dysfunctional marriage where I am being harmed in some way, I choose not to present myself as the victim of the situation. Staying is my choice.

If I choose to stay in a harmful situation, then I still have the right to draw boundaries with a harmful spouse and stand up for my own dignity.

There is always a solution to every situation and I am never stuck. However there may be times when none of the available solutions are ones that I consider viable.

I choose to hold my wayward spouse accountable to his or her actions and choices.

I will not make excuses for my wayward spouse’s behavior, although I will continue to seek insight into why they have made the choices that they have made.

I refuse to listen to any reasoning that would cause me to shoulder the blame for my spouse’s affair. (For example, my age, my bodyweight, my physical appearance, my hobbies, my availability or not, and anything else along these lines cannot me used against me as a reason for my spouse’s affair.)

I choose not to enable my spouse’s current affair.

I choose to let go of self blame, I choose to let go of low self-esteem, and I choose to assert my individual rights in my marriage.

I choose to take steps to protect myself financially, emotionally, and physically.

I choose to take a walk, do mild exercise, or commune in nature each day.

I choose to take downtime for myself and engage in self-care activities.

I choose to outlive negative labels that have been created by myself or others.

I realize that I am inherently worthy of being cherished, being loved, experiencing loyalty, and experiencing emotional safety in my marriage and in other close relationships.

I acknowledge that sometimes I can make mistakes and make choices based on the wrong reasons. Sometimes I may make fear-based or anxiety-based choices, but I realize that I can always turn away from a bad choice and get on a path that serves my needs in positive ways.

I will be aware of the times when my wayward spouse or other family members are trying to draw me into a needless fight. I choose to quietly walk away from these situations.

See also  My Top 3 Goals for 2011

I will not engage my spouse with demeaning words, yelling, or game playing. I will find other ways to make myself heard that are not based on negative or low-energy dynamics.

I will be aware of gaslighting and I will call it out and then walk away. I will no longer be fooled by a gaslighting spouse.

I will behave in ways that quietly command respect and refuse to engage in situations that harm me.

I will develop a space where I can go for solitary quiet time when things are going poorly.

I refuse to allow others to dishonor me with their words or their actions.

I choose to honor myself by setting boundaries around situations where my spouse or others dishonor me by their actions.

I am worthy of love, understanding, patience, fidelity, and respect.


4 Empowering Thoughts from Linda for Affair Recovery

Finally, Linda shared some of her thoughts on this back in 2012 – when we were going through this mess:

“After a momentary period of desperation, I suddenly felt empowered and riled up.  I am not a counselor or a therapist, but I am someone who has been through the turmoil of an emotional affair and I have learned from my triumphs and mistakes.  I hope that maybe you can benefit from some things that I have learned from our experience.

Don’t be pulled into the fantasy of the affair. Right now your spouse is living in an illusion.  The person that he is “in love” with is an image that he created in his head.  The person may be real, but the OW is not the perfect person he believes she is.  She cannot meet his needs any better than you can.  The OW is simply provided with the perfect opportunity to project her best self onto your spouse.

Doug only experienced the OW in a work situation, and on their special lunches.  From what he experienced during that time he believed that was her whole and true personality.  He created in his head that she was the perfect person for him.  He might as well have had an emotional affair with Angelina Jolie since he probably knew just as much about her as he really knew about the OW.

The affair is not your fault. Do not take responsibility for the actions of your spouse – even if your spouse is telling you that the affair is not your fault.  If he continues to tell you that what he found in his affair partner was that which was missing in your marriage, he is still blaming you. If he is telling you that you should have done things differently, or that his affair partner fulfills a need, he is still blaming you.

Until he takes full responsibility for the affair, admits that he too was part of the problem in your marriage, and is willing to do whatever he can to make the marriage work (no contact with other OP, see a therapist, read books, etc.) then he is still blaming you for the affair.

Your spouse may be telling you that he is unhappy in your marriage because you are negative, bitchy, boring etc.  Please do not allow your spouse to compare you to the OP and hurt your self-esteem. Please listen to what he is telling you, then take the time to think about what is really true and accurate.

Doug told me that I was always so negative and the OW was always positive.  I took this very personally thinking that I could never be like her, but then I really thought about it and agreed I had become negative over the past years.  I then thought about why. I realized that I had been working too hard, taking  too much responsibility around the house, and I became tired, boring and resentful.

See also  Q&A with Psychotherapist David Feder

I also realized there was a very easy solution to the problem, so I stopped working so hard and started spending time doing things for myself (exercise, long bubble baths, happy hours).  You know what?  The negativity magically went away.

I learned that I wasn’t doing it to save my marriage. I was saving myself and I was much happier as a result.  I took some of the load off of me and put it on Doug.  Much later I realized that I was making it very easy for him to conduct his affair.  When I thought he was putting in so much time at work, I tried to be a good wife and pick up some of his slack, but little did I know that I was making it much easier for him to maintain his emotional affair.

Don’t be drawn into the fantasy that your spouse is perfect.  Before I found out about Doug’s emotional affair, I was very unhappy because there were many things missing in our marriage.  Our communication needed improvement, we both had become too involved with our children’s activities and we both became boring.  Doug would often stonewall me when I tried to confront him with my discontent.

As soon as Doug told me he didn’t know if he loved me anymore I forgot everything I was unhappy about, and blamed our problems on me.  He became as perfect to me the OW believed he was.  I felt that if someone else overlooked his faults, then I must be too sensitive.  If he was so attentive to her then I must not be worth the effort.  I began to believe that he was as perfect as her fantasy believed he was.

Don’t go there.  Make a list of his faults and look at the list realistically.  Discuss this list with your spouse .  Do not allow him to treat you in a way that is not appropriate just because he claims that the OW agrees with everything (that they communicate well etc.).  Again, he is living in a fantasy world.  Their communication is not that of real life.

Educate yourself as much as you can about affairs. You need to have the knowledge and power and realize that your spouse has lost his/her mind. You are the one who needs to keep your head on straight.

I know you are in severe pain, and you are not eating, sleeping, your pulse is moving at a rapid rate, you are not thinking clearly, but you have to pull yourself together and pull yourself away from the fantasy world that your spouse is experiencing.

Treat him/her like you understand what he/she is going through but you will not allow him/her to hurt you in the process. Pretend you know what the future will be like, and that down the road he will be unhappy when he/she finally understands that the relationship was just an illusion.  Let him/her know that he/she is risking everything for someone who he/she barely knows.

Do not lecture him/her, or constantly tell him/her these things, but behave in a way that demonstrates that you know that he/she would be better off with you.  Have the confidence that the affair will not work out and that he/she will regret his/her actions.”


We’d love to read some examples of how others were able to empower themselves during the affair recovery process.  If you would, please share your experiences in the comment section below.  Thanks!

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    35 replies to "Get in Touch with Your Own Power"

    • TheFirstWife

      Excellent article. Really enjoyed it.

      How did I empower myself? By finally realizing I was allowing myself to be a doormat. And in some cases I was a doormat our entire M.

      He decided (after years of begging and pleading and explaining myself) that he did not believe it was “necessary “ to tell me if he was going to be late or change of plans etc. He wasn’t going to pick up the phone at all. I finally stopped asking b/c nothing was going to change.

      Just one example of how I was disrespected and my simple request of a courtesy phone call would not be granted. As an example if he had a work event and would say “home at 11pm” he would show up st 2 am – no call. Thought nothing was wrong with that.

      At DDay2 it changed when I told him I could no longer live with his cheating lying ways, continued A and disrespect. I told him I’m sorry – I am now divorcing you.

      With a very quick outline of what was to come and I am staying here with our children and you are paying for it. Not negotiable.

      I also told him at DDay2 he was free to be with the OW too.

      And I demanded and received a post nup one month later. Financially I (and children) are protected.

      I restored my self esteem (slowly) by taking back control of my life and destiny. I learned some things along the way (thanks to my fabulous therapist) and I no longer am controlled by doubt and lack of courage.

      I started a business I always wanted to do but did not have the courage to undertake. Fear of failure. Now I realize that the only regret I have is that I did not start it sooner.

      I had my best year last year and while it is small I continue to exceed my goals. I force myself to make new contacts. I put myself out there and am exploring opportunities.

      I am enjoying my life the best I can.

      And my outlook is either you are with me or not. And if not please get out of my way. Because I will move forward without you.

      Again excellent article. I like the “list” – it helps to see it in writing so you can focus on it???? and have it become ingrained in your mind.

      • Doug

        Those are some great examples TFW. Thank you for sharing those as I think many can learn from your experiences.

    • Shifting Impressions

      I think that this is a really valuable article. The first affirmation that I always have a choice is something that I told myself over and over again. It is something, that over four years after d-day, that I still remind myself of often.

      I can choose to stay or not to stay
      I can choose my response

      The other thing that I told myself was that I didn’t have to decide things until I was ready. It was okay to not know the answer of whether to go or stay.

      I gave myself permission to ask the hard questions. I gave myself permission to grieve. I gave myself time to grieve.

      I honestly think these affirmations and finding one’s own power is just as important much later in the recovery process as they are in the beginning. To keep working towards a full recovery rather than stopping when things are just are okay. I think one needs a tremdous amount of strength to keep on going…..

      And getting in touch with one’s own power is definitely part of the process. When choosing when to back off and choosing when to push for more…..I remind my constantly that I always have a choice and that in and of itself empowers me.

      • Doug

        Excellent points, SI. I’m wondering…How far along were you after D-day before you were able to realize/accept that you had a choice? And how did it effect your situation with your husband (and his responses to you) during your recovery process? (TRW and others, feel free to chime in as well)

        • Shifting Impressions

          Doug, I actually recognized that I had choices before d-day. During the EA my husband had become so distant and withdrawn that I told him that I only wanted to be with someone that wanted to be with me. I told him I was not the same naive twenty year old girl that I was when we first married. I told him it would break my heart for us to split up but that I would survive.

          The result of that conversation was that he would work on our marriage… on being more connected etc. Of course that never happened as he was involved with the OW, unbeknownst to me at the time.

          It was only a few months after d-day that we had a very similar conversation. He did end the EA immediately after d-day but did have his head up his ass for at least a year after d-day. I again told him we should only stay together if that was what we truly wanted. Once again I told him it would break my heart to part ways but I would survive. I will never forget the look on his face when he said he wasn’t sure if he would survive, should we part ways.

          After that it became almost like a personal mantra……I would whisper it to myself over and over again. I have choices and I don’t have to make that decision until I am ready, I don’t have to have all the answers.

          As a result I showed him my pain but didn’t beg that he stay with me. I wanted to keep my self-respect. I think I gained his respect. We worked hard to not do more damage with the way we treated each other….to treat each other with care during this very painful recovery. We weren’t always successful but many times we were.

          I was fifty-nine during the EA and sixty at d-day. The children were raised and financially we would have been able to support going our separate ways. In all fairness I need to say this made the idea of having a choice much easier.

          Not sure if that answers your question.

          • Sarah P.

            Hi Shifting Impressions,

            You actually said the holy grail of all things someone can say to a cheater when they actually mean it: I will survive without you.

            What many don’t realize is that the cheater cheats because he or she is so weak as a person. He or she needs all these external things to meet his or her needs. They don’t often want to discard the spouse. They just want the spouse to pretend like nothing out of the ordinary is going on so that they can continue getting additional needs met elsewhere. And the spouse and the other person need to stay in their separate boxes in their pre-defined roles.

            In the cheater’s mind, the spouse is in one box and is supposed to create a stable home and a place of refuge. It is supposed to be a predictable space. The other person is a in a separate box and that is where all the excitement happens.

            And the other person and the spouse need to stay in their separate boxes, be happy with their lot in light, and not disrupt the proceedings of the cake-eating feast.

            Shifting, I am not saying your H did this. I am saying it is a common thing cheaters do. So when the spouse decides to step out of the box and declare the marriage is not working and they will be okay with or without the cheater, that generally strikes fear into the heart of the cheater.

            The cheater cheats because the cheater has deficits in life. The last thing he wants to do is to give up a source of feed or stability. If a spouse leaves, bye bye money, bye bye children, bye bye stable life. A betrayed spouse asserts his or her power by looking the cheater dead in the face and saying, “I will be okay without you” and then actually meaning it. When the cheater knows the betrayed spouse is dead serious, the cheater’s world starts to crumble.

            Most cheaters don’t want the marriage to end. They just want to have their cake and eat it too and cheaters expect the betrayed spouse and other person to stay in their own little separate boxes and the cheaters expects them both to meet the needs of the wayward spouse.

            When one person says “no thanks” and leaves, it causes a real crisis in the cheater. The cheater did not cheat because they are a strong and emotionally self-sufficient person, they cheated because they are mostly scared little children who need affirmation from others besides their spouse. If the betrayed spouse leaves, that strikes fear into the heart of the cheater (child) because the cheater was never a strong person in the first place.

            Cheaters cheat due to a weakness and not from strength. Leaving them, meaning it, and then doing it is generally the only thing that breaks through the fog.

            Luckily you did not have to do that. All you had to do was tell your H you would be okay with out him and you meant it. He knew that and admitted he was the weak one.

            I am glad you guys are working it out.


            • Shifting Impressions

              I agree with what you are saying. I am quite sure the words I spoke struck fear in his heart. We are at the stage in our lives where “just putting up with each other” is not good enough. We both deserve better.

              He broke my heart with his EA and should he have decided that the marriage was not worth fighting for I would have been completely devasted but I know I would survive. But, had my children been young and money scarce it would have been a lot more difficult to take that stance.

              I also agree that affairs are often born out of weakness. And yes, I’m glad we are working out as well, but It’s a journey I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

              This post was timely for me, as it reminded me that there is still work to be done in this process and I still have choices regarding the issues that we still need to address and what I ask of him in regard to moving forward.

          • Doug

            Good stuff, SI! Yes, that answers my question. Thanks!

        • Patsy50

          Just chiming in Doug

          It did not take me very long to accept I had a choice. In fact the night my husband told me of his EA affair (though he didn’t think it was an EA) I told him I was divorcing him. He said he would get himself a lawyer also. I left for three days to get my head together and when I returned we sat down, had a conversation and asked him if he was willing to work on our marriage and so the journey began.It’s been 7 years and we are still together. We must always remember, we always have a choice!

          • Doug

            So true. Thanks Patsy!

    • TheFirstWife

      SI. Good point. Knowing you always have a choice is empowering.

    • TheFirstWife

      The sad part is I never once thought about divorce until his last A.

      My choices never included that option.

      If we had an issue we always worked it out. In 25 years of M the divorce word was never spoken.

      • Shifting Impressions

        I know what you mean, divorce was not something we threatened each with either. We usually worked out issues as well.

        Part of the problem was that my husband was often out of touch with his own emotions and would not communicate when something bothered him. He would bury it deep. He had this problem with all of his relationships not just marriage. He was the nice guy that would do everything for everyone and never speak up if something bothered him…..he would just go along. He does have a tendency toward passive aggressive behavior though.

        • Sarah P.

          This sounds a lot like my husband. He is the nice guy, people pleaser, frightened of confrontation or hurting anyones feelings. That is at work and how he acts towards acquaintances and strangers.

          But, at home, he will let his anger out when me and the kids do something he doesn’t like.

          And I have warned him that if he doesn’t learn how to say “no” to people who DO NOT matter, such as coworkers, he will one day find himself in a mess that he will not know how to deal with.

          It is frustrating as heck.

          So, I know the type you are married to and I have my eyes WIDE OPEN. I ain’t stupid.

          By the way, is your H a “momma’s boy”? Mine is what I call a reluctant momma’s boy. His mom forced herself into literally every corner of his life from the time he was a baby. She treated him as if he were supposed to be her parent while at the same time yelling at him if he made a mistake as a child. He always rebelled against that. On the other hand, his younger brother (the golden child) lay down at let her take control. He noticed that the fighting my husband would do to stand his ground was not worth it. But, now the gold child is no longer the golden child. Golden child married a young version of his own mom and now that they have a child, golden child’s wife has asked for no contact from my in-laws. And golden child has moved far away and gone no contact. That shocked me. I did not think he had it in him. Golden child BIL also told my husband that if we allow my MIL to visit our kids ever again we are being abusive. I agree and have always agreed. I have never met a malignant narcissist as extreme as my MIL.

          One of the reasons I love this blog is because I have either gone through or I am currently going through what others are going through on one level or another. It is not just textbook learning me for me. I was schooled in real life well before I got a Master’s in Psych. I have been through an affair, I have had postpartum depression (so I know what depression is like), I have had anxiety over my ex, panic attacks, I know what the abyss of abandonment is, I know what it’s like to have malignant in-laws, I have experienced PTSD, I know what it is like to be suicidal over an affair. I know or have encountered many people with personality disorders. I know all about how hard marriage can be even without an affair and the different issues regular couples go through.

          By the time I was enrolled in my program, I had so much schooling in life that the work was second nature. I finished the program with a 4.0 and that was higher than my GPA from my first Master’s degree, which was a 3.5. I personally believe that no one under 30 should be allowed into a graduate psych program. I was 40 when I did mine. People must be schooled in life before they can actually ‘get it.’ Otherwise, everything they encounter will be abstract and based on what a book said. That is hardly helpful to anyone.

          My son has been having big problems and has been out of school for a while now. My husband wanted to send him to any random adolescent psychologist. I did not agree, but I let me husband do it his way. We were assigned to a woman in her 20’s right out of a Master’s program. My son REFUSED to talk to her. His nickname for her was “lizard woman” because he said she looked like a snake and gave off an untrustworthy vibe. She gave us rote responses and had no real interest in her job. I DID NOT like her, but did not tell my son that until he told me about his strong reaction (dislike) of this woman. I could tell she was untrustworthy and the last thing I wanted was an inexperienced, 20-something woman delving into the most private aspects of our personal life. I did not trust her either. But, I let my son make the decision and he plainly just refused to speak with her, no matter how much my husband prodded. That was that.

          Then I took over.

          I searched high and low for a male adolescent specialist who had at least 20 years of experience and found one. (My son wanted to talk to a man, well duh!) My son loves the PhD adolescent specialist I found and actually talks to him. My son hates strangers and he is shy around strangers, so it is a big step that I found someone he is willing to share feelings with. This fellow had been pivotal in helping my son. He has children himself and has been doing his job for a very long time and also owns his own large clinic with staff.

          Marriages, family dynamics, life is already so complex, even without affairs. Then, you add in an affair and everything just IMPLODES. I have been through it all or I know someone who has been through it all. Affair recovery is not just about affairs. It is about marital dynamics, children, personality tendencies, life choices, finances, well-being (or not), health (or not), the future, impact on others, and it’s about whether or not we can stay sane enough to not end our own lives.

          Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. And I must say, having an affair club T-shirt is the worst T-shirt one can ever get. “My husband/Wife had an affair and all I got was this lousy T-shirt!”

          Many blessings, Shifting. I am glad your husband came to his senses and that you are aware of your rights and your wellbeing.


          • Shifting Impressions

            No, he wasn’t a Mama’s boy…..he comes from a family of six kids and had a warm loving relationship with his Mom. He gets along with all of them….he is a favorite amongst all of them. He was the kid that never caused a fuss. He is one of those people that you want on your team in an emergency. He just sees what needs to be done and does it.

            He rarely showed anger with our kids or myself but would withdraw rather than talk about things that were bothering him. His father was extremely introverted. My husband has an extremely non-abrasive personality and is well liked. He has good friends…people love him. Our grandchildren absolutely adore him.

            But yet he struggles with a low self-image…..he admits that to me. But he hides that struggle so well.

            Now, he is more in touch with his feelings and is working hard to live in the present.

            You are right, family dynamics are so complex.

            I am so sorry you had to experience so much first hand…but yes those painful experiences, without a doubt would add compassion and understanding to your work with people.

            My daughter has a masters in counseling and is working towards being a licensed psychologist. She told me that her upbringing made her want to give back because there are so many people that didn’t have what she had growing up. She is very close to both my husband and I. Her husband had a much more difficult upbringing and battles depression. Living with him and her work in group homes has made her a much more compassionate counselor. Her compassion and love during these last years have been amazing. I know it wasn’t easy watching my husband and I struggle. But I have no doubt it will make her a more understanding counselor.

            You had wonderful parents, though, didn’t you. You have gone through so much. I imagine your upbringing helped you survive so much of what you through.

            • Sarah P.

              Hi Shifting Impressions,
              That is wonderful that you daughter is joining the profession. Will she have a specialty? She is experiencing the pain of her H first hand and it will make her a great counselor. Her husband was probably drawn to her because she is most likely a balm to his soul.

              My H had a bad childhood in emotional ways. There were always material things for him after they arrived in America. But, his mom’s treatment of him has caused issues. It has also caused issues for my FIL and my BIL I believe my MIL is profoundly ill, but no one has the courage to force an evaluation. My husband has told me on and off that the only time he doesn’t feel anxious is when he is around me. I am guessing your daughter has the same effect on her husband. (And of course, I hope that I continue to wield that anti-anxiety effect over my H because it will make him think twice before he does something stupid.)

              Wow, your husband had a good childhood. I wonder why he struggles with low self esteem. I wonder why he was a people pleaser.

              Yes, my parents are good to me and were good to me. They are both very nice people and my friends love them. I came from a calm household. No yelling. We talked things out. No touching in anger. (I was not even spanked). Lots of hugs and snuggles when I was a kid. I am great friends with my parents even if we have our disagreements on minor things, we talk it out. They are 10 minutes away and involved each day in the kid’s lives. That is a blessing for me since I struggle with a genetic disease and I never know when it will flare up. I give gratitude for my parents each day. We moved a lot when I was a kid — I attended 12 different schools before I graduated high school. That was unsettling but my parents were always the stable core and they still are. If I did not have them, I would not have been able to go through life’s challenges so easily. I am grateful for every day with them and also grateful for my dad’s parents who were a tremendously positive influence on me. When I was a child and my parents met any kind of disaster, my dad’s parents stepped in with money and with time. They were retired when I was born and helped raise me from birth to 4 years old. Then we moved away and they would spend winters or summers with us. It’s probably the best gift anyone can have– a stable center, a stable home. Money only matters in so much as being able to buy life’s necessities without stress. But, it is really the love, stability, and time put into a child that matters.

              My youngest has autism and his today his teacher told me he doesn’t have friends. He will play next to other kids but doesn’t know how to join in. It broke my heart. The one thing I do everyday and have done since I found out is to fight autism with love, affection and attention. I tell him several times I day I am his very best friend and always will be, no matter what. It’s really sad because when adults meet him, he makes their hearts melt. He is so polite and sweet and thoughtful. He is always trying to give presents to people he doesn’t even know. He is like a little angel sent from heaven and is too pure and innocent to know how to be in this world where there is exclusion, pettiness, hatred, lying, and all the other stuff. He does not understand why it exists even when I explain it. And I am with him, it should not exist. But it does. I am grateful to have such a pure little soul in my life. I tell him every day that God sent him to me special delivery and that I know God loves me because he gave him to me. I don’t want him to ever feel alone or awkward and I will always fight to keep his symptoms at bay. I am trying to gently level with my husband that he is going to be our responsibility for the rest of our lives– he may not be able to live on his own even if he has a career. He is such a pure and trusting soul that he will not know how to navigate the world. Isn’t it sad the world has come to this?

              I know my writing on this site is skewed because of the subject matter. But, I have published 50 different “feel good” articles in various magazines– stories about people overcoming adversity and doing inspirational things. I have written several children’s books– a couple are online and the others have yet to be illustrated. Three of the books are inspired by how I feel about my children. I just need to take the time to illustrate them correctly and that takes A LOT of time. (Painting and drawing has been a life-long hobby.)

              I think in the next few months, it might be time to write some affair-related articles that are on the inspirational side. We can only take so much doom and gloom.

              Many blessings,

            • Shifting Impressions

              I’m not sure about a specialty but she spent several years working in group homes with teens before getting her Masters in counseling. She works for a family counseling agency, but part time so she can be home with her young children. Becoming a licensed psychologist will open more doors for her. Next year the children will be in school full-time. I’m so proud of her.

              I feel for your struggle with your son’s autism. The world isn’t a very understanding place.

              Children’s books….how wonderful. Creativity has been one of my saving graces over the last years. A place of solace and a place to pour out my grief. I don’t think one should ever underestimate the power of creativity in one’s life. Also, what a wonderful way to make a difference.

              Back to my husband…..we are immigrant children. As a child that does have an effect. Having parents that struggle with the language and don’t understand the school system has a child feeling different…like you don’t quite fit.

              Also having an emotionally withdrawn father and a mother who could not handle any type of controversy, left some definite marks. Always sweeping difficult topics under the rug was a way of life for him. He always says he grew up in a “father absent home”, even though his father was physically there. He determined early on NOT to be that type of father. He was very involved with our kids but left the emotional work to me. All the difficult conversations were left to me…sigh.

              Yet….he has many psychology courses under the belt. Headed up a volunteer distress line for many years. People trust him and are able to open up to him. But come to his own issues….he would stuff them down.

              I think some inspirational articles would be wonderful!!!

            • Sarah P.

              Hello Shifting,
              May I ask what culture your and his immigrant parents came from? (My husband is the son of immigrants and it has shaped his outlook.)

              I know what he means by a ‘father absent home.’ A person can be in the room and still absent. It is such a tragedy.

              I am glad your daughter is going towards licensure. It will open opportunities, but I have one word of caution. Working as a licensed therapist requires many hours of paperwork that have nothing to do with clients. It is the paperwork required to jump through the incredible hoops insurance companies create. Then there is the conundrum all licensed therapists face: that is most people are vastly under-insured. Just as a therapist could be making the breakthrough of a lifetime with a client, the insurance will cut funds completely.

              It’s one of the many reasons I do not work in a clinical setting. But the other three reasons are my on-and-off physical struggles with a genetic disease, helping my children, and then of course the idea that writing can reach people anywhere in the world and people who need help can read my posts for free. That way, more people can be helped and on a grand scale.

              On the other hand, there is nothing like sitting face-to-face with someone in the same room and we are developing programs where that will be a new option for readers. I have already done that with one reader (a long and intensive in person multi-day session) but I need to ask her I am allowed to use the thank you letter she wrote me and her website name (not real name) as a testimonial. It was a powerful experience and there is no doubt about that.

              I hope your daughter can find a way to work in a clinic or setting where insurance does not hold people back from being helped. There is nothing more heartbreaking than knowing someone needs more help but the insurance won’t pay for it. To me it seems unethical for insurance companies to do this and yet they do it every day.

              Hopefully I will be writing some more inspiring posts in the future. Life is wonderful and there are so many things to be grateful for, even amidst tragedy.

              Many blessings,

            • Shifting Impressions

              We are Dutch immigrants….so not a super big culture shock. But still it did have an effect on us.

              I am sure my daughter will face some of those challenges, but we are Canadian so our health care and insurance is quite different here.

              I agree about the wonderful things in life and if we can possibly find some inspiration and gratitude amidst the tragedy we are better for it. Although some of these life lessons often come at an extremely high cost. In some ways I feel stronger as a result of the last few years and yet more fragile. I don’t wish this journey on anyone but if we are thrown here, through no fault of our own….perhaps we can gain something from it.

              I’m looking forward to some of those inspirational posts in the future. Thanks for all that you do for us.

            • Sarah P.

              Hello Shifting,

              Thank you for saying thank you. I always appreciate that.

              I did not realize the Dutch were still immigrating out of the Netherlands. Are you bi-lingual or tri-lingual The Netherlands is a terrific place with great people.

              But, Canada is also a great country and to tell you the truth, I like Canada better than the U.S. (Sorry, Americans. I am American too, but our country has taken too many wrong turns in the past several years.) We go over to Vancouver Island a lot for weekend jaunts. I am sure everyone In Canada has better insurance than we do here in the U.S. That will allow your daughter to truly help people and not leave then hanging because the insurance has refused to pay. I wish we had such a system here.

              So, what are your hobbies in terms of specific creative outlets, Shifting? (You have mentioned your creativity getting a boost and unfortunately I think most artists and writers work thrive on pain. Mine does, as evidenced by this blog.)

              Tell me more about that stronger but more fragile feeling. That’s the ultimate paradox, isn’t it?

              Many blessings,

            • Shifting Impressions

              We immigrated many years ago….I was only four years old. I’m 65 now. Things were so different then.

              Sarah….I would love to answer some of your questions but there is always that fear someone will recognize me. I hate the secrecy that surrounds infidelity. Feel free to get my email address from Doug…..would love to chat more.

            • Hopeful

              I too admire Canada and struggle with issues we face here in the US. I totally respect your path Sarah but I will say from being with someone who has followed the path of being licensed and APA member etc. that there are benefits.And yes dealing with insurance companies are less than positive and ideal. However I would say that is not what my husband spends the majority of time. Even to be licensed once he took the exam that was it. He has minimal continuing education but he finds it highly beneficial and is able to choose what he attends based on his practice. And since dday and going through this recovery process he has told me that he feels it has helped his practice. I think similar to before and after having kids. Of course he was trained and knew the information and how to work with kids but once having his own it made a huge difference both in working with kids and their parents. And I think going through having affairs and then the recovery process has made a huge impact. Of course I want our marriage to be high quality and last if we are both committed and working. But beyond that to know that he is helping others who are struggling with affairs, betrayal or potential for these is positive. I feel there is a greater benefit beyond our marriage and family. I also know he has taken to heart what I have shared with him while practicing. Issues related to this are so common and especially those seeking mental health support so he is faced with these issues daily in his practice.

              And I think for people seeking help it is critical to find someone that you have a positive connection and aligns with your beliefs and goals. I chose to only seek out those who are licensed. But I come at this with my husband’s professional background.

    • Sarah P.

      I do realize that the last comment was basically a “tell all” update of the recent happenings in my life. Just a reminder that I am a real person with the same challenges as everyone else.

      Anyone else married to a “momma’s boy” or a “reluctant momma’s boy” and has it caused issues?

      I know I am not the only one out there and I would NEVER leave my marriage. I am in it for life.

      Just wondering if any of you have stories about general challenges with a momma’s boy.

      I have noticed that when men have narcissistic moms, they generally choose an affair partner like mom.

      This is in the case where the son of a narcissistic mom marries a NON-narcissistic wife. When and if they have an affair, they choose someone like their narc mom. I truly believe sons of narc moms have no framework for healthy relationships.

      So, if they marry someone “normal,” they don’t have a relationship template to follow. This is because a non-narcissist thinks and acts differently than a narcissist. Even if they are in a healthy marriage, it may not feel “comfortable” because they have no relationship framework. This is my opinion.

      I have always found that curious and that definitely applies to my ex. I did not realize the extent to which my ex was a momma’s boy until the end and I did not realize his mom was a narcissist because I had not heard the term at that point. I knew his mom was “off the wall” and had marriages before his father, but I did not know what to call it.

      But, my ex married the OW who (I have been told) is an extreme narcissist and a sociopath. As they say, people go towards the familiar. “There is no place like home” both in a good sense and a bad sense. These sons of narcissistic moms feel “at home” with narcissistic OW’s unless they have been through therapy.

      Anyone else have an experience like that?


    • TryingHard

      Sarah— I’ve found that the affair is just another part of many dysfunctional relationships my h has had during the course of our life together. One can’t help but connect the dots when something as big as betrayal and infidelity is added to the mix. Yes life itself is hard enough and how someone deduces that an affair is a good idea to alleviate those life stresses is beyond me to understand.

      Me too. My final breakthrough is when i blew and said I’ll be just fine without you. I quit doing the “pick me dance” . I had become empowered and emboldened with the help of a therapist and my bad ass lawyer and the changes i was making in my attitude toward him and our relationship. He must have believed me because that next day he returned home although he was still very much in contact with the OW. Second DDay and found the burner phone. This time i was angry but calm. By this point it was ALL out. Everything. Only then could we begin the real process of reconciliation.

      I agree if one is looking for a therapist make sure they understand and are trained in helping with the problems you are dealing with. My second therapist understood infidelity but had little experience with NPD that i deal with. Not all therapists are created equal. Just like most medical docs. It’s up to the patient to find the right fit.

    • TryingHard

      Sarah— yes. Matter of fact it was my last therapist that pointed just that out. She correlated that my MIL is a NPD and the OW was a sociopath. I’ve asked no less than 3 therapists to evaluate me for narcissm. They laughed and said if i asked to be evaluated i def wasn’t one. So my h, who was raised by an NPD but was heavily influenced by his grandmother who was a saint, marries a non-Narc of course. We were young and he hated his mother. But soon that hate turned not into love but a patronizing responsibility toward her. And she turned him into the golden child to hurt her daughter with whom she is very jealous and competitive. It’s all so sick what Narcs do to people.

      So when he decided to have an affair he went with what was familiar in a negative way. He had his cake and eat it too. The non Narc wife and the crazy sociopath AP that he could easily turn away from like he did his mother.

      So that’s it in a nutshell. Like i said. It’s sick

      • Sarah P.

        Hi TryingHard,

        That’s funny that you went to several therapists and asked if you had NPD. And yes it is so true that if someone has the ability to self-reflect and wonder if they had something to do with a situation, they are not a narcissist.

        When I read psychology articles, I am one of those people where I ask myself, “Do I do that?” And then I have to think about it long and hard.

        I am glad you told your H you would be fine without him even though he had a back and forth time. Some OW’s are extremely skilled manipulators and sociopaths. They know how to get under a person’s skin.

        The joke I have with my best friend is that OW have super powers that chumps like us don’t have. Because my friend and I have both been victims of cheaters and the OW’s were at the very bottom of the gutter. My best friend has a graduate degree, a successful business, and she is beautiful. Someone she was crazy about went back and forth between her and a woman who was in and out of jail. The woman was in jail for stealing doctor’s pads and writing Vicodin prescriptions, selling other kids of drugs, robbery, and several other crazy things. My friend figured out the only time he was really “hers” was when the OW was behind bars. But, it took forever to figure out. And this jail rat had so much power over this guy– a power my friend did not. My friend was more attractive– more everything. But the second the OW got out of jail, he was breaking dates and going incommunicado for days on end.

        So, what superpower do these OW’s have that we the moral of the world don’t have?

        Does anyone care to take a crack at that one? Tryinghard, do you have any idea…? Because I have exhausted every corner of psychology books to figure it out. The only thing I can think of is the “people go toward what is familiar to them” theory. But there has to be more to it than that…


    • TheFirstWife

      Hi Sarah P

      Here is my attempt to explain the emotional hold that influences a person’s choice to continue a relationship with a less than desirable person (a/k/a a train wreck).

      In the example that you described about your friend, who is dating a guy who seem to be hooked on the “Trainwreck“, I believe that there is a pay off in the relationship. To me it is the “knight in shining armor (KISA) syndrome “.

      The rescuer is addicted to the person they are trying to “save“. The rescuer appears to emotionally benefit. It doesn’t make any sense to a logical thinking person as to why someone would waste time investing in a relationship that is clearly one sided, but we see this pattern repeated fairly often, especially when it comes to cheating spouses.

      The cheater feels “needed“ in the relationship. The cheater gets some emotional satisfaction out of helping the train wreck of an affair partner.

      That is why the affair is somewhat like an addiction. The cheating spouse suddenly feels emotions that they may not have felt in a long time.

      Again, logically it makes no sense that A spouse would turn their back on a loving stable marriage to have an affair with a train wreck of a person.

      However it seems to happen fairly often.

      The Emotional tie to the affair partner is more or less a drama filled addiction.

      Again, this is just my analysis of the situation. But I’ve seen it happen with my husband and recognize the pattern of behavior.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi TFW,

        Yes, you are onto something there. Affairs can be addictive and the knight in shining armor syndrome is very real. And to those men I say: “If you want to save someone, save your wife. If you want to be chivalrous, then be chivalrous to your wife. If you want to display honor, honor your wedding vows, your wife and your children.” A real Knight in Shining Armor does not go and drop his Princess (aka his wife) to save someone else.

        My friend found out this guy had been on and off with ‘jail girlfriend’ long before she came along. When she found out about his cheating and out about his on and off pattern, she dumped him. (Thank God.)

        It may have been one of those situations where ‘water finds its level’ and the guy and the OW were at the same level. Once my friend found out, she was outta there!

    • TryingHard

      Most “knights in shining armor” are really fools wearing a tin foil hat!!

      • Sarah P.


        LOLZZZZ!!!! Someone needs to draw that one. Additionally, they probably made it out of generic, flimsy tinfoil because they were too miserly to spend money on the stuff that lasts.

    • TryingHard

      Sarah— i need to clear up. I didn’t go to three different therapists simply looking to be evaluated for NPD. I’ve gone to three different therapists for treatment. During the treatments i asked about NPD and if they thought I might be a Narc. All three explained that all people have narcissistic traits but that most do not have them to the extreme as those with personality disorders.

      If anything I’m too much of an empath. I’m working on that too ????

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Trying Hard,

        I am so sorry that I mis-phrased my sentence. I should have been more clear and that is my failing. Please accept my apologies. I realized you went to different therapists to be treated due to being betrayed and the fall out of the being betrayed, not to be evaluated OR treated for NPD. I failed to communicate that clearly and I am VERY SORRY.

        ***You are the last person in the world to have a personality disorder.****

        I should have explained that I have talked to so many betrayed people (including in my own experience) where somewhere in the process of therapy we ask if we have a personality disorder OR if there is something fundamentally wrong with us. Anyone who asks in the midst of therapy about NPD means they absolutely don’t have it.

        People with NPD will never ask the question.

        If you asked about NPD (in relation to yourself) during the course of treatment with several different therapists, it speaks to how you were put into a position to question yourself deeply and perhaps doubt yourself because of what happened to you. (I am basing this on my own experience…)

        Just speaking from my own experience, since I never got a clear answer from my ex about “the why.” I went through a phase where if I read an article about any psychological disorder whatsoever (especially a personality disorder) then I would wonder if I had it. I too saw a therapist to try to get over what my ex did and I asked that therapist if I had a personality disorder in the midst of treatment. The answer was “no” but self-doubt about every aspect of myself still lingers.

        By the way, it’s easy to see you are an empath and that is a GIFT. But, it can also be a burden sometimes. Do you ever walk into a room where a group is gathered and you can take the “emotional temperature” of the room? If so, does it bother you if you can sense trauma, tension, grief, anger, or any other negative emotions?

        Again, I did not in any way mean to imply you have NPD.

        This is another lesson in how careful and thoughtful I must be while writing. Something can be clear in my mind, but if I don’t take the time to explain it, things come out differently than I intended.

        Hope we are good, TryingHard.

        Many blessings,

    • TryingHard

      Sarah— no no. Please make no mistake. It wasn’t you who mis spoke but me in my statement. You did or said nothing wrong. Lol i type on my phone or tablet most times and am prone to not making myself clear. I didn’t mean to imply anything wrong with your statement.

      Yes during my time of therapy i was reading and learning a lot about the disorder. I almost became obsessed over my newfound information. So of course while in therapy i asked a lot about narcissism. That is when i asked about myself and narcissism. I was reading about how Narcs don’t know they’re Narcs and so of course being in a state of total paranoia anyway i thought “crap i might be a Narc and don’t even know it!!!” Because of course i believed i was every other shitty thing that was thrown at me during that time. I had a psychiatrist at the time mainly for my much needed prescriptions and she literally laughed when i asked her to assess me for NPD. I’m telling you it was literally crazy making time.

      It was also a great time of education and self examination like never before. I learned so much and am still learning.

      Oh yes. I am very uncomfortable around large crowds. I am very sensitive to the “temperature” of all people. I can literally feel the hair stand up in my neck around certain people. I’m learning an interesting concept to use around such people. Grey Rock. It really works. But I’m telling you my heart starts beating and most times i quietly move away from them.

      Being an empath may be a gift but damn it’s a burden too. Sometimes i want to call them out but that is utterly useless. As the saying goes “don’t fight in the mud with a pig. All you will get is dirty and the pig likes it.” Truer words never spoken.

      No worries dear Sarah. You did nothing wrong. Hugs ????

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