I realize that it’s very cliché to compare the affair recovery struggles to climbing a mountain, but after our experience on our vacation we discovered that the comparison to be even more appropriate.

affair recovery strugglesBy Linda

While in the White Mountains in New Hampshire we set off on a day-hike called the Franconia Ridge Loop trail.  The hike was recommended to us by one of the local outdoor outfitters as being one that was relatively short (8.5 miles), traveled along some pretty waterfalls and had beautiful vistas of the surrounding mountains.  A hike that sounded just what we were looking for.

Little did we know that this would be the toughest hike that we’d ever do!

Just as recovering from the affair was the toughest thing we’ve ever done.

Doug and I are avid hikers and typically hike several times a week.  Sometimes it’s just for two to three miles or so, but oftentimes we will go seven to eight miles.   So we’re not exactly couch potatoes and are in what we thought was pretty good shape physically.  However, we aren’t really used to hiking up mountains since we live in a relatively flat area.  As a result, this particular hike (climb) really kicked our butts.


I’m going to describe the hike for you not for the purpose of providing you with some sort of nature documentary, but more so to make the analogy and fill you in on some observations I had on our little adventure.

falling watersThe Climb

The hike started out at the trailhead parking lot on a cool morning with a slight rainy mist.  All of us collected our gear and supplies for the day in our backpacks, hoisted them on our shoulders and started the trek. 

Just as we began we ran into two older women who were on their way down from an overnighter on the trail.  They didn’t appear to be in great physical shape yet they seemed somewhat fresh and still had some pep in their step.  I thought to myself that if they are looking as good as they are, then this must be a pretty easy hike.  Wrong!

As we got going, the trail started easily enough as we meandered through some forest area on a relatively level surface, but soon enough the uphill portion began.  At first it was a gentle slope that was still quite easy but then it turned into more of a climb where we were battling rocks and large boulders at quite a steep angle. 

At this point it was helpful (and convenient) that we were ascending along a beautiful mountain stream that had numerous waterfalls which provided us with several viewing and picture taking opportunities.  We milked these stops as much as possible to regain our wind and the strength in our increasingly wobbly legs.

This went on for what seemed like forever.  Just when we thought we had climbed to a place that would seem to indicate the summit was near, we’d veer back into the woods only to encounter more step-like scrambles over rocks and boulders.  It was exhausting.

franconian ridgeAfter about 3 miles we finally got above the tree line and could see our first of three peaks.  We traveled along a ridge line up to the summit and took some time to rest on some large boulders.  It was a bright sunny day by now and the view from the top was amazing.  We were above the clouds which were to the west so we couldn’t see much in that direction, but in all other directions you could see for miles and miles.

See also  Midlife Crisis and Infidelity

After a while we got up and started off for the next summit. It was only about seven tenths of a mile away and most of it was an easy hike along the ridge, but there was some steep scrambling towards the end that was required to get to its summit. 

Again we took a break to soak in the sights and take some photos.  One thing we noticed at this point was towards the final summit there was some sort of a front coming in that caused the clouds to virtually hide it completely.  We didn’t think too much of it though as we started to head in that direction.

As we got going, all of a sudden the wind started to really pick up.  Now I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that there had to be gusts of about 25-30 mph.  That’s not too strong, but it still can be a little scary when you’re hiking along a ridge of a mountain.  But we pressed on.

This distance to the last summit was about a mile but this time it wasn’t so easy.  In addition to the wind, the terrain was much steeper.  It was a very tough mile.  As we approached the summit the weather really started to worsen.  The wind was now blowing much harder and the temperatures were dropping fast.  I’d say it probably dropped into the 40’s with the wind making it feel much, much colder. 

Luckily, all of us had jackets and long pants in our backpacks. So we quickly put them on and forged ahead.  (Doug of course didn’t think he needed a jacket or long pants and was still in shorts and a t-shirt.) At the summit the wind must have been whipping around at 50 mph or more and gave us the sense that it would blow us right off the mountain.  We hunkered down around some rocks for a few minutes but it was so bad we didn’t take any time to take pictures.  Besides, there was nothing to see but clouds and rain.

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The Descent

Fortunately, with this summit also came the connector trail to head back down the mountain.  So we quickly got going and started the descent.  We were on the windward side of the mountain though and we were totally exposed to the wind and cold. 

Now, many think that climbing a mountain is the hard part and descending is a piece of cake.  Wrong again!  In fact, we both agreed that it was much harder to go down than to go up!

Imagine going down 3.5 miles of nothing but rocks and boulder steps, all at a steep angle.  Your feet pounding on rocks, your toes about to burst through your boots and your knees, ankles and thighs taking a huge beating from the pounding and the downward slope.  It was pure hell.

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greenleaf hutAfter a mile or so, the weather improved just as we came upon the Greenleaf Hut that is part of the Appalachian Mountain Club hut system.  It was like heaven.  We stopped and warmed up and had some awesome cinnamon rolls that were freshly baked, grabbed some water, went to the bathroom and basically rested for about a half hour.

We had about 2.5 miles to go to get back to our vehicle, so this little rest was much needed.  The only thing was that once we started again our legs were like jelly and we still had a long ways to go downhill.

To make a long painful story a little shorter, the next 2 miles were even more hellish.  Nothing but rocks and boulders over a steep downward slope.  At times it felt as though we were walking like we were drunk.  We were losing much of our coordination and felt as though we were one false step from tripping and cascading down hundreds of feet.

Anyways, after a 2 mile stretch things started to level off a bit.  The rocks turned into hard dirt and eventually into softer dirt.  We staggered back to the area where we were parked.

We can typically hike 8.5 miles on the trails around our home in about three hours or so.  This 8.5 miles took us nine hours!

Some Observations on Affair Recovery Struggles and Climbing a Mountain…

OK, so that’s the story of our hike.  Based on this little adventure I’d like to make a few observations and throw out some thoughts that popped into my head about how this compared to affair recovery. 

couple climbing a mountainWe were not prepared for the journey.  Just as we are not taught how to overcome infidelity by our parents or through any other formal training, we weren’t really prepared for the physicality of this mountain climb.  We also didn’t research the trail enough beforehand to know how difficult it would be.

With every mountain climb there is some degree of pain – both mental and physical.  The pain of infidelity is excruciating, as is the pain of climbing and descending a mountain.  I’d be lying if I said that there weren’t times that I wanted to quit.  That goes for both the affair journey and the mountain climb. It is these times when the pain can be so great that your mental strength has to carry you through. 

Just when you think you’ve made progress you find out there is much more work yet to do.  When you are in the forested areas of a mountain, it has a way of tricking you into thinking that there is a clearing ahead, and that clearing is the short stretch to the summit.  However, it often is just a switchback leading to another painful climb.  Affair recovery tends to be the same way.  At times you feel as though you’re taking a small step forward only to take a step or two backwards.  Progress seems painfully slow, but if you are making some progress – any progress – then that’s what’s important.

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Everyone’s summit on ‘Mount Infidelity’ is different.  Now this might not make any sense, but my summit may be different than yours.  To me, my summit was when I finally knew I had the entire truth from Doug.  Your summit might be your D-day.  It might be when reconciliation seems for certain.  Perhaps it’s when you feel that you have healed.  It could be when the divorce is finalized. A mountain range has many peaks and with infidelity recovery we all climb different mountains (though they may be similar). 

Things can change in a hurry.  Just as the weather quickly turned on us, so too can the conditions and elements of the affair and your recovery. One minute you can be happy and laughing and the next you can be triggered and tossed into a state of sadness and depression.  You might feel that you’re on the right track only to be slung backwards due to a new discovery or some harsh words spoken by your spouse.

Sometimes it’s harder to come down off the summit than it is to climb it.  Depending on the route you take, descending the mountain can be harder and full of more obstacles than climbing it ever was.  This was my main learning point.  Sure, we’ve climbed mountains before, but we’ve never climbed one as steep or that gained as much elevation in such a short distance. There’s no doubt we could have taken a different route that would have made the descent a little easier, but we chose a different path. 

As with infidelity, sometimes after you’ve reached your summit, things get more difficult.  There can be triggers.  You can experience backsliding.  There can be multiple D-days.  It’s possible there can be false reconciliations and renewed contact with the affair partner.  Your hard work isn’t done yet.

When you’ve finally completed your journey there is a feeling of strength and accomplishment.  This mountain tore us up. We had blisters, our knees ached for two days and our feet ached for two days more.  But we actually felt like we had accomplished something.  I’m not going to say that I necessarily had a sense of accomplishment after getting over the affair, but I sure did realize that I had much more strength than I ever knew I had before.

You can learn a great deal from others who have climbed the mountain before you.  The one mistake we made while trying to figure out what mountain trail to take was not asking enough questions.  We just asked what some good trails to take were and stopped there.  We didn’t bother to learn more about it from those who were more familiar with the area.  The information was readily available, but we chose not to research it any further.

Likewise, it can be most beneficial to learn from the affair recovery struggles and experiences of others.  They can help to guide you and make you aware of potential obstacles and hardships along the way. We created our mentoring program as a way to help you on your journey.  You can learn more about it here:  Individual Mentoring with Linda and Doug

Well, that’s it.  I hope this lengthy trail story made some sense to you.  If you feel so inclined, let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.


    17 replies to "Mount Infidelity – The Toughest Climb You’ll Ever Do"

    • Eyeswideopen

      Wow, I’m tired just from reading this! Lol. I do and can see the connection you were trying to convey. Infidelity is just like that! I agree everyone’s story and where and how they ended up is different, but they all follow somewhat of a similar pattern, trail. Ty for sharing, not only because of the similar connections between hiking a rough terrain and infidelity and how we all have faced the ups & downs through such terrible times, but for showing us, though our stories might be different, we aren’t all that different and certainly aren’t alone as we ‘TRAVEL’ through our own rough terrain! On a lighter note…. Looks like you guys had a great time on your trip. Thank you for sharing!

    • SHAPE

      This is a wonderful analogy, Linda. I especially like the headings: Things Can Change in a Hurry, Coming Down is Harder, and Feelings of Strength and Accomplishment.

      I am 4 1/2 years out from the original D-Day but have definitely had new “discoveries” that have tossed me into despair and depression along the way. The last one (more a discovery of “omission’ rather than “commission”) was only a month ago. This totally brought things to a new peak, one which has resulted in my realizing I have much much more strength than I thought I had. Because of that strength, I was able to react in a different way than usual, which has resulted in a commitment from my H to seek the help we need and are now getting.

    • Strengthrequired

      I think I’m still climbing down the mountain… What a awesome trip you all had.
      For me I’m getting sick of the triggers. A funny one that hasn’t even happened yet is, my husband wanting to buy himself a new wardrobe, yet he wants the brand names he bought himself at the beginning of his affair. brands no doubt she helped him purchase.
      I don’t get why this triggers me, but it does, in a way causes me anxiety, and he hasn’t even bought them yet. Crazy… I hate that he has made me feel this way, I hate that he did this to us. I would love to have no triggers, no reminders. Maybe I need to find a mountain with a cave….
      Welcome back doug and Linda

      • Strengthrequired

        Sometimes you can’t help but wonder, is it all worth it? If at the beginning of my husbands affair, someone had said to me, this is how you are going to feel for years after the affair, whether you stay with your Cs or not, I wonder if I would have bothered trying. Yet like my Cs, maybe I would not have listened, when he would get told by people that what he is doing is wrong. Maybe I too would have put my head in the sand, and not truly listened, because after all, I wanted my marriage, I wanted my h, I didn’t want my family broken.
        Yet, the family did break, but is on the mend, if only it didn’t seem so hard and tiresome at times. Hopefully my Cs is worth it, because at times when little things come up, that remind you, and you start feeling down, you start wondering, will I ever feel like normal again, where I have no more triggers? Will I ever get past this or is this what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life? That is when, you just want to run and not look back, because who wants to feel like that for the rest of your life.
        That is when that inner strength or stupidity stops you, from running….. So I hope my Cs is worth it…

        • Tabs


          I know exactly what you’re going through. I have asked myself the same questions. Is it worth staying married? Will I ever be normal again? These were the questions that I needed answered before I could start to heal. And well, it’s looking like this is is my new normal. I like how you phrased it “inner strength” or “stupidity” stops us from running … only time will tell whether our CS is worth it.

        • CBb

          I agree with you. Is it stupidity or inner strength at work? I sometimes wonder.

          My H and I had a huge blow out last week. 2 yrs from D day 1 and he still does not communicate things he should. Nothing is going on and he is not cheating but does not understand how details are critical.

          I found out that when he eats out for lunches/dinners (work related), that most of the restaurants are in hotel lobbies. I did not know this. Critical detail never came to light. He did not seem to think this was an issue.

          His level of communication about details is not what I need. He has always been this way, but now that he promised to change, it creates issues for us b/c he does not view things the same way.

          In the past 25 years he basically came and went as he pleased. He would tell me he would be home at 11 pm and show up at 1 a.m. No call, no notice, just show up. I tried everything to get him to change and be more open, but it was a failure. After years of begging, pleading, crying, talking, explaining, I just gave up. Nothing worked.

          So when the OW came along, he told me he was disconnected from me and we did not communicate. I just stood there floored. I have always communicated with him, he did not talk much to me.

          Anyway, we still have the same issues though he is trying. Some days I just want to walk out and close the door b/c it is hard, painful, frustrating and difficult. But I have hope one day we will be past this stage and things will be better.

          I pray for forgiveness and strength to move past this.

          Sometimes when I have triggers I pull up my pants and tell him about the behavior, why it bothers me and what I would like to see happen. FYI he no longer talks on his cell phone in the car in the driveway. He did that w/ the OW. I don’t care who is on the phone – either come in the house or hang up.

          Anyway I think we are all on the same journey and the same path. Some days are better than others, as we all know. I just hope we can all weather the storm and end up in the right place for us.

          • Strengthrequired

            Tabs, it would be nice to know how much time has to pass before we know how worth it they are. Don’t you think? Lol.

            cbb, I was told the same thing that he could communicate with the ow easier than he could me, that we never could. He did the same as your husband, he didn’t want to talk, No matter how hard I tried.
            The ow comes along, they had a lot of catching up to do, so of course he is going to find it easier to strike up a conversation with her, than his wife. After all, what does he have to talk about with me, when he knows all he wants to know.
            Funny though, how his tune has changed since he said that he couldn’t talk to me, how she is now the love of his life. I get now, the grass was definately not greener on the other side.
            He tries a bit more now with his talking, talks a bit more about his day. Yet there are still things he won’t do for me and that is share his passwords. He thinks because he never used to, then why should he now? Yet he forgets, he wasn’t always so protective of these things. I want to be a complete part of his life, not just for what he allows me into. After all he is a complete part of mine, I hold no secrets, I am an open book to him.
            I don’t think he will ever get it….

            • Tabs

              SR- An expiration date would be helpful! :\

            • Strengthrequired

              Lol tab.

    • Christina

      Linda, you said something interesting to me in this article. “my summit was when I finally knew I had the entire truth from Doug.” How do you know this?? I think Im on the downward journey. I feel it. But there’s something that is still bothering me. Im not sure I can articulate it well. Our marriage of 22 yrs at that time had just deteriorated into business of raising kids. We were really good friends but not “in love”. I felt it and I know he did too, but we just didn’t know how to get out of it. Our sex life sucked and a lot of that was my fault. So, my point is that things weren’t good b/w us. He has an affair on deployment. He tells her he loves her and its mutual. At some point he realizes it was all so stupid-probably when his depression and anxiety started. But even after he left deployment abruptly (b/c of the affair), he was still emotionally connected with her. I just want to hear him tell me how he felt about her during this time and where I fit in. I know for sure he did not have any feelings of being in love with me after he returned. So I guess Id like to know from him when that changed. How do I know he is “in love” with me again and not just here for the family. I don’t want a husband who feels sorry for me. Its been 8 months since he told me, but it ended 16 months ago! He didn’t tell me until 8 months after it was over. Things are so much better now b/w us, and I know that’s a great indicator. I just want to know when he stopped having feelings for her and if he ever really did have feelings for me again, or if that was just a process of marriage. Thanks!!

    • TheFirstWife

      Christina. He may be too ashamed to admit his misguided feelings now. The same thing happened to us. I saw he wrote to her that he loved her and told me he wanted a divorce twice in 7 days. Now? He is so ashamed of his behavior he can barely face it (yet does).

      He could not admit to me that he did love her at any time, though I saw it in writing.

      It could be your H has the same issues. Remorseful and embarrassed and all that.

      I know it is hard for you. Trust me. Been there.

    • Antiskank

      Christina, TFW,
      I have the same questions….I don’t know how, if, when you can truly believe that he loves you again. I am absolutely sure that he did not love me during his affair based on his behaviour, the way he treated me, and the cruel things he said to me. He was also kind enough to tell me he did not love me and never had during our 40 years together.

      Then by about 6 months after DDay #1, he swore he loved only me, fantasized about only me. He insisted his skank was terrible, he never wanted to see her again. He started doing a few little things for me. He told me often that he loved me. I tried doing everything that I could for the betterment of our relationship. I started to believe him and trust him a little more. Problem was he still wouldn’t talk about any of it – the affair, our relationship, etc. As much as I wanted it to be good, I guess I was missing something.

      After 2 and a half years, he finally admitted that he still wanted her, had lusted and fantasized about her the whole time. He had no feelings for me. Needled to say, I was devastated beyond belief. I felt betrayed all over again, disrespected, humiliated, angry….

      He begged for another chance, saying that he was finally over her and his feelings for me were returning. I allowed him another chance, mostly because our son was going through some really serious marriage problems at the time and needed us both to support him through it.

      Now he insists he loves me. I just don’t feel it. I can’t fully trust or believe him. He lied too many times, betrayed me too many times, hurt me too much, said too many terrible things about me. How can I believe him? How can I ever really know if he is being truthful? How can I know his real feelings about me? Why do I still care? Do I just need to accept it? That seems wrong.

    • TheFirstWife

      AS, Christina & others.

      I will tell you what my therapist told me & based on my experience. As I previously stated my H told me about his EA/PA at first. It was July. Twice in that month I knew he was dumping me. He stayed in the marriage but it was terrible and he was cruel.

      We ALL have that experience. Their affair = being cruel to wife/Spouse as a way to justify the affair. They feel themselves w/ the crap “they deserve to be happy”. Mine H had a typical mid life crisis.

      My H ended his affair for 6 weeks and then went running back to her. All the while he was telling me how great we were. I had a surprise 50th b’day party for him b/c I wanted to show him how much I still loved him. We celebrated our 25th anniversary (totally romantic overnight at a lavish hotel planned by him) and he was still with her.

      In any event a month later he tells me he wants a divorce. Twice. I said fine as I was done being in this roller coaster. He then begs for a second chance, please, please he still loves me. Wants to be with me.

      I asked him to leave. Found out he was still w/ OW.

      My therapist explained this to me. A mid life crisis takes hold and it is like dealing with a teenager. The behavior is “I want what I want”. Some guys buy cars, some go to extreme sports, others have affairs. When the fog lifts and they come to their senses, they realize what they have done.

      Sometimes too late. Sometimes the damage is done. Therapist told me many times acceptance is important, and to make the marriage work you have to totally commit, even knowing you could get hurt again.

      That part was hard for me.

      But now I feel like I have the upper hand. My H told me during his affair that I never really loved him and only married him to spite my parents. I should have slapped him tight then and there. What a stupid thing to say after 25 yrs.
      It is very hard to separate the person you married you before the affair and the person you are with during & after the affair.
      You now have to view your spouse as a liar and a cheater. B/c that is what they are.
      Once I got my power back I could see things changing for me. My self esteem was restored, I became happier (in my marriage).
      Separate yourself from the affair. They try to blame us, the loving spouse. That is just crap to justify their choice.
      We have a good marriage again and in ways better. Lucky us. But I have had to suck it up and not willingly or easily.
      He lied and buried his head in sand about details and whether he loved her. It made me crazy he was still in lying/denial mode for a year after affair. That almost caused me to leave.
      Therapist key – you are responsible for your own happiness and no one else. That is how I look at it. I stopped laughing owing at him to try to heal me or help me. With therapy I did it for myself.
      Which is why so many marriages do not survive infidelity. Cheating spouse does little to help and the issues become insurmountable.
      I trust my H but I am not stupid. He can come home tomorrow and tell me he is leaving me. I would be hurt but not shocked. BTW I can come home one day and tell him I am leaving him. It’s a 2 way street. I am prepared for whatever life brings. For all I know he could be staying in this marriage until our children graduate HS.
      Whatever it is, it is. I cannot twist myself trying to figure it all out. I take each day as it comes and I make sure I am happy, with him or without him. He is in my life but does not make my life. Only I do that.

    • TheFirstWife

      AS. I inderstand the pain of what your H said to you. Been there.

      I think sometimes we become their security blanket. When I told my H to leave our house after his affair part 2, he refused.

      I then called a friend and made arrangements for him to go live there until we sorted this out. I think that was his true wake up call. I kicked him out.

      He still continued to lie about the affair BUT I was now calling the shots. In order for me to stay with him I made him sign a post nup. My $ is my $ and if we divorce, he gave up all rights to it.

      He never saw that coming and was willing to sign it or else I walked out on him. Taste of his own medicine. Eye opening.

      I think once you get your power back in the relationship they look at you differently.i also think they realize they will have to fend for themselves and support 2 households and what will people think when they hear they cheated blah blah blah. I think fear is a motivating factor.

      I told my H when we were preparing to separate that my kids & I were staying in our house. That is the deal. Pay for it.

      He agreed to it.

      We are still together and happy. But not stupid.

    • Angela

      I’ve been convinced my CH had no intention of ever meeting or seeing the OW in person, as it was all an online thing, but I am not sure at all that he’s told me the truth about what it was really all about for him? How will I know when I have the truth? He’s one of those who dribbles out the truth a little at a time and tortured me for near a year now. How do I know he’s finally told all?

    • Angela

      My H & I like to hike together too. We find it amazingly healing as it takes us both working together to prepare packs and gear the night before, plan for which trails, or if to camp, and head to the hills. Once there, we have to have each other’s back for safety and watch ahead and behind for one another and help each other up and down when we hit a scramble, and it induces a sense of togetherness, teamwork and safety as we are out there alone, disconnected from the rest of the world and social media (except GPS on the phone if needed, lol) and it’s especially nice when we decide to do an overnight and camp on the trails for a day or three. You must depend on each other to survive and it is an incredibly good activity to get you both present and connected in a 2ay that’s more difficult to achieve on a day to day basis at home.

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