staying empowered

Note:  Infidelity is a traumatizing event that often makes the betrayed feel powerless and unable to cope or take action. Often though, a victim mentality becomes the coping mechanism used to survive fear, pain, and to recover basic psychological needs such as safety, love, affection, and self-esteem.

This week Sarah P. has crafted a very helpful article that should motivate many of you to reflect on how you are thinking and acting to the betrayal. Then, hopefully realize that you indeed possess the power within to confidently move forward with your life in the direction of your choosing with your self-esteem and dignity intact.

Linda & Doug


The holidays are tricky because something about them can bring out the best and the worst in people. For some, it can heighten feelings of togetherness and for others it can heighten feelings of loneliness, even when in the company of loved ones.

When an affair has occurred, sometimes the feeling of loneliness can creep in without a betrayed spouse even realizing it’s there. Loneliness while surrounded by loved ones is somewhat generated by an individual’s internal script or self-talk.

Once the proverbial script is flipped around, there can be understanding and perhaps deeper intimacy due to newfound understanding. In this post I will be exploring the impact of thought and how thought can be one’s best friend or one’s worst enemy.

For this post, I have decided to do something different. I would like for everyone to watch this TED talk by affair expert Esther Perel before we get started. Esther discusses the results of conversations about infidelity that she has had with people from different cultures and continents. As you will discover, there is a common thread in all affairs that transcends culture or conditioning.  The perspective Esther provides is a valuable one and it is a slightly different perspective than what you generally hear from Americans.

 

httpv://youtu.be/P2AUat93a8Q

 

I think Esther provides betrayed spouses with hope because she discusses the root causes of affairs. Esther stated that affairs are often triggered by loss, either internally or externally. Affairs are not triggered by something the betrayed spouse did or did not do. They are often a wayward spouse’s reaction to uncomfortable events or perceptions in his or her life. Affairs are not based on reality, but on fantasy and the ability for the wayward spouse to see himself or herself in a new light. (Selfish, as we know, and she also reconfirms the fantasy element.) Affairs are not based on the other person being better in some way than the betrayed spouse. They are based on whatever the wayward spouse has going on inside of himself or herself and because of this can often coexist with the wayward spouse’s continued love for the betrayed spouse.

This may not sound that hopeful, but it is hopeful considering that affairs have little to do with the wayward spouse’s feelings for the betrayed spouse (even if the wayward spouse claims that he or she feels a temporary loss of love due to the affair fog.)

But, the most important part of Esther Perel’s message is that an affair does not necessarily spell the end of a marriage. Esther discussed the idea that every couple has the opportunity to create a new marriage that is more understanding and closer than ever.

What did you think of Esther’s message?

 

Creating Who You Are

I believe that at the core of creating a new marriage, you must first recreate who you are. Redefining your marriage ultimately requires an act of co-creation, but you, the betrayed spouse, must be an active part of it. Oftentimes, as a betrayed spouse, you must take the lead in co-creating this new marriage and modeling the type of behavior that you want to see in your spouse. The author of the classic text, the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu once said:

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.”

At the core of it all, is the letting go of the old-self and any destructive coping patterns that no longer serve you. But, how do you let go of the old self?

You must identify unhealthy coping mechanisms or dynamics. There are many unhealthy coping mechanisms that we learned in childhood. Other unhealthy mechanisms have been learned due to experiences out in the world. These mechanisms could be a result of how we were parented or they could be a result of other formative moments that occurred as a child.

There is a very important reason that both parties need to let go of the old self and create something new. It all comes down to a reason that Esther Perel considers the most important part of her view on affairs. Esther says:

Very often we don’t go elsewhere because we are looking for another person. We go elsewhere because we are looking for another self. It isn’t so much that we want to leave the person we are with as we want to leave the person we have become… It’s not about sex, it’s about desire, about attention, about reconnecting with parts of oneself you lost or you never knew existed. It’s about longing and loss.” (1)

I believe this is the best explanation of what causes a wayward spouse to stray. I also believe that within American culture this is compounded by the culture of finding self-definition externally.

Most advertisements contain messages that seem to say something to the effect of: if you want to be wealthy, you must first drive this car; or, if you want to be beautiful, you must first wear this brand of designer clothing. The message is that being wealthy and beautiful are both concepts that begin externally, not internally. I would contend that wealth and beauty are concepts that first must begin within before an individual can truly experience them.

For example, do you know people who are financially secure but who always feel poor? I sure do. Do you know people who possess natural beauty but who always chase the version of beauty the media presents? I know those people too. A financially secure person could have all the money in the world and still feel poor because financial security starts from within. A beautiful or handsome person could appear to be stunning to the outside world but still feel ugly on the inside because beauty begins from within.  Everything must first begin from within.

Does this concept make you angry? Does it seem incorrect? If so, ask yourself why. On the other hand, does it resonate with you? If so, expand upon that.

This concept holds the key to why wayward spouses stray from their marriages. They have not learned to find something within and instead seek everything without. Finding satisfaction solely outside oneself is the path of sorrow.

The Enemy Within

Why do people persist in a dissatisfying relationship, unwilling either to work toward solutions or end it and move on? It’s because they know changing will lead to the unknown, and most people believe that the unknown will be much more painful than what they’re already experiencing.”  – Anthony Robbins

Many of us do not realize that we live with ‘an enemy within’ that prevents us from ever having the lives of our dreams. Many people wrongly believe that when they do not get the things that they want, the marriages they want, and that they are victims of some circumstance. Often, these are the thoughts that seed the beginnings of infidelity.

Unfortunately, the innocent spouse who has always been happy in the marriage is thrown for a loop on and after D-day. The infectious self-doubt or feelings of being wronged transfer like a flea to the betrayed spouse. Now, these feelings are not the fault of the betrayed spouse; they are the ones who get to inherit these bad feelings as a result of the actions of a wayward spouse.

Thus when an affair occurs, two of the common beliefs that betrayed spouses allow themselves to be held hostage to are: the belief that they can never feel good again and the belief that they can never trust again.

Of course, these may not be the beliefs that hold you hostage—any set of negative beliefs can hold someone hostage and these beliefs can occur in any domain of life. The two examples I provide are common ones but these may not be the beliefs that bind you personally.

When people believe self-defeating things, they can unconsciously set up  internal roadblocks that prevent them for trusting again or feeling good again. Not only do these thought-roadblocks prevent success in what they desire, these thought roadblocks send out an intention that can have the power to make it so. When we send out these intentions, whether they are conscious or not, we tend to experience things that reinforce negative beliefs.

Soon we unconsciously create situations that reinforce these ideas we hold about ourselves or our relationships. When we live through these reinforcing experiences, our perception of ourselves and our relationship is also reinforced negatively. Now, we have even more proof that we will never be able to trust again or feel good again. This is how a self-fulfilling prophecy is created. People have the ability to create experiences through their thoughts.

If you have read any of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s books, these ideas will be familiar to you. If you have not read them, then these ideas probably sound strange and unrealistic. One of Dr. Dyer’s most famous ideas is: “The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of the state of your mind.” 

That is a bold assertion indeed and can sound very cold-hearted unless you look deeper. It sounds cold-hearted because it implies that whatever is in our lives is our creation. But, does it really say that?

I do not believe that Dr. Dyer meant it literally. That is, I do not believe that he would have told a victim of a hit and run driver that they created the accident through their thoughts. I do not believe that betrayed spouses created the affair. Instead, I believe that Dr. Dyer meant that whenever something happens to us, we then get to choose how we move forward. We can create our lives through our state of mind. We can wallow in despair and spiral into depression, or we can be courageous and take courageous steps. Either state of mind will create a life that looks very different. You do not have to go far to make the change since the change must only occur within your thinking.

I have several friends who believe themselves to be victims of things that are outside of their control. They believe these uncontrollable factors in their lives are the things that conspire to keep them from reaching their goals or heart’s desire. But, in reality, the only thing that keeps them stuck is their belief that these uncontrollable factors actually have the power to keep them stuck. They give power to an entity outside themselves that in reality has no power, unless it is given power.  The bottom line is, you must realize that you are already possess the power to change circumstances. You already have all that you need.

 

A Practical Example

I wanted to provide a practical example of how this all works. I will start by using fear as an example. A researcher named Matthew Adler noted, “the effects of fear are harmful to health, no less than the physical harm from some toxic agent or pollutant.” Though most of us consider that most threats are found externally, the truth of the matter is, just as many threats to our health and wellbeing can be found internally. 

For example, one of the ways worry and anxiety influences the health of our body occurs on the biochemical level. When we are overwhelmed with fear or anxiety, our body releases cortisol. This hormone damages both our endocrine systems as well as our organ systems if it is not kept under control. While cortisol is helpful if we are mobilizing ourselves to quickly get away from a real physical threat, it is not useful when we are simply mired in daily worry. Yet, our body does not know the difference between a tiger that is chasing us or garden-variety anxiety. Here is a thorough explanation about the recent findings about the mind/body connection:

“Thanks to new imaging technologies, research scientists have now been able to demonstrate how thoughts and emotions cause distinct neuron-firing patterns within various parts of the brain. They can also observe how these patterns coincide with chemical releases and reactions throughout the body. The science behind all this is fascinating, and the conclusions are staggering. It turns out that biochemical reactions to mental and emotional stimuli – your everyday thoughts and feelings – occur not just in the brain but also, often simultaneously, in virtually every system of your body. We also now know that the brain and nerves, and the immune, endocrine and digestive systems (historically treated as totally distinct areas of medical specialty) are in fact capable of releasing and receiving many of the same peptides. Thus, all these systems are inextricably linked in a sort of secondary, chemically based nervous system, one that is intimately connected with (but not exclusively controlled by) the electrically based central nervous system with which most people are more familiar. Such understandings are radically changing perceptions of just how intimately connected our bodily systems are, how they should be medically treated, and how responsive they can be to mental and emotional stimuli.” (2)

Affairs can also create an abundance of cortisol in the body because of the stress they cause. This stress does unseen damage that can build up over a period of years. This is not your fault—I am simply exposing something that can occur under stress so that you are aware of it and can make changes internally. How does this work?

Let’s say you have an emotionally charged experience or memory. That experience activates the brain’s limbic system, where it gets filtered and associated with other information and catalyzes a chain-reaction release of ligands (peptides, hormones, etc.). In cases of bodily sensation or touch, the body’s neuronal circuits can also be directly activated, with a peptide reaction proceeding from the body’s surface to the spine and then traveling to the brain and becoming part of conscious awareness. So we know that our experience, physical or emotional, releases peptides. Peptides fan out toward hundreds or thousands of receptor cells.

In her book Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Body-Mind Medicine,celebrated molecular biologist and psychoneuroimmunologist Candace Pert, Ph.D., notes that while explanations of the way ligands and receptors unite typically employ the image of a key fitting into a lock, “a more dynamic description of this process might be two voices – ligand and receptor – striking the same note and producing a vibration that rings a doorbell to open the doorway to the cell.”

What happens next, she says, “is quite amazing.” The receptor, having received a message, transmits it from the surface of the cell deep into the cell’s interior, where the message can change the state of the cell dramatically. A chain reaction of biochemical events is initiated as tiny machines roar into action and, directed by the message of the ligand, begin any number of activities – manufacturing new proteins, making decisions about cell division, opening or closing ion channels, adding or subtracting energetic chemical groups such as the phosphates – to name just a few.

In short, the life of the cell, what it is up to at any moment, is determined by which receptors are on its surface, and whether those receptors are occupied by ligands or not. On a more global scale, these minute physiological phenomena at the cellular level can translate to large changes in behavior, physical activity, even mood. This is serious business. How much of a particular peptide you have in your system and whether or not it is filling the receptors on various cells can impact everything from how efficiently your metabolism runs, to how you digest your lunch, to whether or not you are vulnerable to a cold or virus.” (2)

 

And Now a Personal Example

Allow me to provide a highly personal example of the mind-body connection. Up until my early 30’s, I never had any physical problems. Suddenly, after my first child was born, I developed a mysterious illness. When I had flare-ups of this illness, I would always end up in the emergency room with severe vomiting, excruciating stomach pain, and mini-seizures. All kinds of tests were run: endoscopies, colonoscopies, blood work, chest x-rays, and MRI’s. Nothing was found.

One night, I went to a different ER and the on-call physician happened to be an expert in a rare genetic condition. He ordered some specialized (non-standard) tests to see if I had it. Unfortunately, the tests showed that I had this rare disease that no other doctor had thought of until then.

The disease that the doctor found can stay latent in the body for years. But, if someone with the latent disease has an extremely stressful experience or has a strong hormonal shift (or both), the disease can activate.  The doctor told me that the disease had activated due to the shift of hormones during pregnancy and also because of some stressful life events.

This particular disease can be deadly if a flare-up is able to advance since the disease attacks the central nervous system. I now have a treatment protocol to prevent flare-ups and different medications that can be given to stop flare-ups in the emergency room. But, the only way to prevent flare-ups is to manage stress. I have to constantly monitor stress levels and take care of my body.

The only good part about this situation is the fact that it forces me to take care of myself and be aware of my mental state. Once upon a time, I was not an assertive person and never spoke up for myself. Now, if a situation is too stressful, I must speak up for myself. Now, I ask for what I need in order to stay healthy. I am aware of stressful triggers and talk things through rather than keep them inside.

Broken Heart Syndrome

Aside from my condition, there are other stress conditions that have the potential to harm everyone. To bring the point home about how completely emotions affect our body, I would like to discuss a phenomenon that the Japanese discovered termed Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. In the United States, this is known as broken heart syndrome.

Broken heart syndrome is a temporary heart condition brought on by stress such as the loss of a loved one to death or because of the heartbreak of an affair. People with broken heart syndrome experience the same symptoms as people having a heart attack. These broken heart syndrome symptoms are often caused by the heart’s physical reaction to a surge of stress hormones such as cortisol. In broken heart syndrome, a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump well, and forceful contractions are caused within the heart.

In fact, the symptoms of broken heart syndrome exactly mimic those of a heart attack since they include shortness of breath, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, and extreme bodily weakness. Sometimes, broken heart syndrome mimics a heart attack so closely that it actually induces a heart attack in an otherwise physically healthy person. That is scary and demonstrates how the mind is directly linked to the body.

I would like to tell you a true story about this phenomenon. Through an acquaintance, I have witnessed the mystery of this syndrome. 

One day a friend who works in the emergency room recounted something that she felt was rather mysterious. She mentioned that an otherwise healthy patient in his late 20’s, came into the emergency room with all the symptoms of a heart attack. After different treatments, his symptoms did not subside. Though this physician’s shift had ended for the day, she remained worried even after she returned home.  She could not let go of her own worry and so that is when she called me to see if this could be psychosomatic.

Out loud, my acquaintance listed off all the tests that had been run and all the things that had been done for this patient. Then, almost absentmindedly, she started recounting how she felt sorry for the fellow. This particular patient was in the middle of a traumatizing divorce because his wife had left him after he discovered his wife’s affair with another man. The man had recounted over and over that he was extremely fearful of the future and did not know how to go on without his wife. He was both broken hearted and had been flooded with a debilitating anxiety.

Before I could event filter my own thoughts, I said, “He has a broken heart and I believe he has broken heart syndrome.” My acquaintance had not heard of it, but, nonetheless, it piqued her interest.  She looked it up in her medical library as I recounted all that I knew of this syndrome. She found it in her reference library and promptly called her colleagues treating this patient to ask them to evaluate for this syndrome. 

Surprisingly, her colleagues, who knew of the syndrome, had also overlooked it as a cause. They had erroneously assumed that this syndrome was more myth than medicine. But, after they did further evaluations, they found that this man was indeed suffering from broken heart syndrome. But, even more than that, the syndrome had been directly induced by the man’s tremendous fear of his pending divorce and life without his wife.

But, it didn’t end there for the patient; things got worse. The patient had an actual heart attack and had to be revived. After he was treated for the heart attack, the physicians in the emergency room immediately sent the patient to a skilled on-call therapist. Sending a patient to a therapist might sound counterintuitive, but this patient’s experience and tests had demonstrated his heart attack was broken heart syndrome gone too far. Miraculously, the doctor found out that the patient recovered under the care of a therapist and his broken heart syndrome and heart attacks did not return.

Does it still sound too strange? Consider this remark on the Power of Positivity blog:

“The most prolific electromagnetic forces in the human body occur in and around the heart. Using spectral analysis, researchers discovered encoded emotional information embedded in the electromagnetic field surrounding the heart. When emotions shift, this encoded information changes. As a result, scientists continue to study the ramifications of such a profound discovery – including how this powerful force is felt and interpreted by those around us; specifically, how emotions such as compassionempathy, love and understanding can be used to make positive changes in us and others.” (3)

To sum it up, fear and overwhelming anxiety, fearful thoughts, stressful thoughts, are truly “toxic” toward our body, our mind, and even to our spiritual wellbeing. Toxic fear and anxiety hinders spiritual growth and acts as an emotional paralytic. While some might be tempted to find the act of worrying or going over the same things repeatedly a soothing experience, think again. Constant negative thoughts never soothe, they only destroy your peace of mind and a healthy body. Negativity alters relationships because it causes us to act is ways that are not authentic. But, most of all, thoughts can largely create our reality. You are what you eat and you are what you think.

Staying in the Moment

The greatest loss of time is delay and expectation, which depend upon the future. We let go the present, which we have in our power, and look forward to that which depends upon chance, and so relinquish a certainty for an uncertainty.” – Seneca

So how does one get rid of negative thoughts or obsession over an affair? One way to do it is to live in the now.

Psychologists have found that most people are either oriented toward the past or oriented toward the future. Neither of these orientations is healthy because they rob us of the present. The present and our actions in the present actually lay the foundation for the future.

People who live in the past are trapped in an endless loop, replaying the same events over and over again, and getting no resolution. The fact is, replaying events from the past cannot and will not change these events. Being past-oriented robs us of the good that is present and destroys joy.

People who live for the future sometimes cannot appreciate the good that is here in the now. They do not realize that actions in the now are the mechanism that creates the future. 

How does this apply to infidelity?

When you are a betrayed spouse, finding ways to stay in the now is even more important.

Staying in the now is one way to stop the incessant din of hurt that an affair has caused. Often, betrayed spouses are mired in negative thoughts and this is not by any fault of their own. There is a time for negative thoughts, but it is not helpful if they take over your life and impact the day-to-day. Here is why: if you are constantly forced to dwell on hurtful or negative thoughts, you are victimized twice; once by the infidelity and once by the ongoing emotional negativity that infidelity creates.

One of the solutions is to stay in the now and to create positive situations in the now. This can be done by picking up a new skill, reading piece of fiction that intrigues you, volunteering, going out with friends of the same gender, exercising, and thought monitoring.

Some people actually put rubber bands around their wrist and snap it each time negativity creeps in. It serves to cultivate awareness of negativity and to provide negative reinforcement each time you think a negative thought. Personally, I don’t like the rubber band technique, but many find it helpful.

Instead, I like the approach of cognitive behavioral therapy self-talk when negativity creeps in. In CBT, the negative thoughts are reversed and then replaced with a more helpful thought. For example, “I am a victim of infidelity” becomes “I am not a victim of infidelity. I am empowered and cannot be victimized unless I give my consent. I do not consent to being a victim. No one can dictate my emotional wellbeing except for me.”

If you think about it, each of us is only as victimized as we consent to being victimized. While it is necessary to go through the five stages of grief after an affair, it is also necessary to realize that you cannot be a victim unless you choose to be in that space within your mind. People can hurt us emotionally, but we hurt ourselves more when we constantly dwell on the betrayal. The weakness of a wayward spouse does not need to dictate your emotional wellbeing.

In fact, when infidelity occurs, I believe that the marriage contract you once had is null and void from an emotional standpoint. If you used to be the type that allowed your spouse to dictate your beliefs or demean you, it is within your power to refuse to consent to such treatment. You no longer owe the wayward spouse anything. In fact, it you owe anyone anything, it is yourself. You owe yourself unconditional self-regard and empowerment. You do not have to engage in the game of the wayward spouse at all. You can simply ignore his or her chaos and set boundaries as to what you will and will not accept.

 

A New Relationship

Now I wanted to circle back around to Esther Perel and talk about her solution to an affair. She recommends a solution that is controversial, but I think that she has a very good point and indeed a workable solution. It really involves reframing and co-creating a new relationship. She says:

“Most people today, for the sheer length we live together, have two or three marriages in their adult life, and some of us do it with the same person. For me, this is my fourth marriage with my husband and we have completely reorganized the structure of the relationship, the flavor, the complementarity. It became clear that we could either go into crisis mode and end it or go into crisis mode and renew. And that is one of the most hopeful sentences a betrayed partner can hear when they come into my office the day after they find out and they are in a state of utter shock and collapse: I say, your first marriage may be over, and in fact I believe that affairs are often a powerful alarm system for a structure that needs change. And then people say: But did it have to happen like that? And I say: I have rarely seen anything as powerful lead to a regenerative experience. This is a controversial idea, but betrayal is sometimes a regenerative act. It’s a way of saying no to a rotten system in need of change.” (1)

Now, let me qualify the points that I agree with and the points I may not agree with so much. I am, after all, an American and so I have slightly different views. Firstly, I agree that Esther is correct in re-framing the whole concept of marriage. The most powerful idea she has is the idea that a first marriage may be dead, but a second marriage can be created anew. This is a wonderful thing because it allows people to eventually put the first marriage behind them and create the second marriage on their terms with the very same person. This concept literally allows someone to enter into a new marriage without having to get a divorce and remarry someone else to do so. I love this concept because it is truly a game changer.

Now, I take issue with the idea that betrayal is a regenerative act and a symptom of a rotten system. I believe that infidelity can eventually lead to a stronger marriage, but infidelity is not a regenerative act and it is not the thing that leads to a stronger marriage. Two people working together, communicating, looking into their own personal motives, and a genuine remorse for errors, and an honest change in behavior regenerate marriage. This very same regeneration could take place without an affair. This is why I do not believe betrayal is a regenerative act.

I believe that saying betrayal is a regenerative act takes the burden off the wayward spouse and almost suggests to a betrayed spouse that he or she must see the affair as a positive thing. An affair will never be a positive thing for a marriage, but a couple can come back from the brink of splitting up and create something new. A couple can genuinely thrive after adultery, but this is not because of the affair. It is because both parties in the couple are willing to change and work on a marriage. Once again, it is all about the couple and their communication, not the affair.

I do not believe we should ever give infidelity credit for something good. It can perhaps serve as a catalyst, but it is an unnecessary one.

I like what Eleanor Roosevelt once said about difficult times: “It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.” In other words, we must be the change when difficult situations come into our lives.

I believe that Eleanor knew exactly what she was talking about as well. After all, this lovely woman was married to a very famous adulterer who also happened to be a U.S. president. Likewise, it is sometimes only through the painful labor of a couple that a marriage can be improved. But, adultery does not have to be the catalyst for such change.

The most important takeaway from Esther is that we can enter into a new marriage without having to divorce the wayward spouse. This begins with the empowerment of the betrayed spouse and his or her refusal to accept the way things were. The way things were could have allowed a wayward spouse to cheat more easily or take the relationship for granted. The old marriage is over and the betrayed spouse can begin by redefining himself or herself and personal boundaries. A betrayed spouse no longer has to accept anything at all from a wayward spouse. All of the cards have been laid on the table and it’s a new game. The betrayed spouse must put his or her wellbeing and psychological health above all else.

In every situation, you must ask yourself what you can do about the situation that empowers you. There are many empowering things you can do that do not depend upon the wayward spouse. You can decide what you want out of life and go for it. You don’t need permission to have your needs met or to take up precious oxygen on this earth. No, you have a right to stand in your own space and have your needs fully met.

Alternatively, you do not have to meet the needs of the person who betrayed you. Start defining your new marriage on your terms and see if your spouse is willing to come along. If not, keep doing what you need to do for you. You are the master of your own destiny. There is no law that says you must tolerate the bad behavior from others. No one will respect you unless you teach them how to treat you. The ultimate paradox here is that you are only stuck if you choose to be stuck. Someone can only keep you stuck if you allow them to.

Affirmations for Refocusing and Staying Empowered

I like affirmations, however, affirmations need to be specific and have a goal in mind that redirects thinking toward something positive or helpful. I am not a fan of general affirmations such as, “I am okay.”  While that affirmation can serve its purpose, it is very general and does convey a lot of power. A good affirmation is empowering and redirects thought toward ideas that are truthful, empowering, helpful, or positive in someway.

A better version of that affirmation could look like: “I am OK at this moment and always. I have all that I need inside of me and I can never let myself down.”

If you are a Christian, Catholic, or Jew, then the affirmation could turn into: “I am OK because God is always with me, was always with me, and will always be with me. God loves me infinitely and unconditionally. God knows even the number of hairs on my head, will always be there, and God will never let me down. God gives me all of the strength and the love that I need, now and always.” Any affirmation can be altered to include God if you believe in the one God like I do.

I have written a list of brand-new affirmations that I sincerely hope you will read often. 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. 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)

Affirmations

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.

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.

 

In Summary

In summary, no matter where you are in your marriage and life, no matter what the external circumstances, you always have to power to choose your thoughts and your actions. Everyone is at a different point in the recovery process and so take the bits and pieces provided in the article that are helpful to you. There is hope because an affair does not have to spell the end of your marriage and an affair can serve as a beginning into a new marriage.

When rebuilding your marriage, it is always a good idea to weed out communication patterns and dynamics that never served the marriage. All marriages have certain dynamics that could be better, regardless of an affair. This is turn can help you do your part in creating a new marriage. You can take action, even if your spouse is still stuck. Use infidelity to throw out the bad and bring in what you want, instead of throwing out a spouse. It may take time, even a couple of years, but it is worth a try.

Many couples can recover, still, never lose sight that it is a two-way street and the wayward spouse is required to do his or her part. There always need to be a timeline and you must never fall under the perception that you are trapped in a situation without options. There are always options and freedom often comes first in thinking.

Sometimes it is difficult to choose empowering thoughts because the outward situation is so full of despair. Ultimately, if you do not develop new ways of thinking and behaving, this negativity will take root.

You did not deserve to be betrayed, you did not cause the betrayal, and yet the betrayal can take over your life. Certainly, this is not fair and would not happen in a fair-minded and moral world. But, we do not live in a just or a moral world and ultimately we have to suffer the consequences of the selfishness of others. As difficult as it is, there are still tools to move forward. But, the tools are in thinking and in action.

I would never claim that the work is easy. Growth is never easy and growth is always a process. Still, a thousand small steps will ultimately help you get farther than standing still and staying mired in thinking and action that no longer serves you. There is no wrong way to grow or move forward as long as the growth is in a direction that makes you a stronger and more grounded person. The goal is always to end up in a better place and you can define what a better place looks like.

Finally, knowing that thoughts can create our reality and knowing that thoughts are powerful is vital knowledge. Even though you did not cause an affair, it is to your benefit to start thinking and behaving in different ways. At the core, the battle is in thinking and in action.

I do not ever claim to have all of the answers, but I do believe this is a beginning. We can only control ourselves and therefore need to get a handle on ourselves, our thinking, and our boundaries. To some extent, we train people how to treat us based on what we will or will not accept.

Of course, when dealing with a narcissist or other personality disorder, these people will automatically treat you and everyone poorly no matter the boundaries. Thus, it is best to keep strong boundaries and assert your individual rights, no matter who you are dealing with. Do not get caught up in the ‘disease to please’ when it comes to a wayward spouse.

Do you have any affirmations or revelations that were a game changer for you? What wisdom do you have to share with others? But, most importantly, what insights or changes have you made this week?

 

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Sources

  1. Rosin, Hanna. Why We Cheat. From http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2014/03/esther_perel_on_affairs_spouses_in_happy_marriages_cheat_and_americans_don.html
  2. Gerasimo, Pilar. Emotional Biochemistry. From https://experiencelife.com/article/emotional-biochemistry/
  3. Power of Positivity. Eight Studies that Show How Consciousness Creates Reality. https://www.powerofpositivity.com/8-studies-show-consciousness-affects-reality/

 

    64 replies to "You Have the Power – Staying Empowered Through the Holidays and Beyond"

    • Shifting Impressions

      I found the Ted Talk really interesting. I think it gave me a little more understanding of what went so very wrong.

      The Holidays are making me somewhat more emotional…..it doesn’t help that there were two D-day anniversaries in November and our Wedding anniversary is in December as well.

      The thing that is really helping me along at the moment is a that statement from the book In Sheep’s Clothing. It says that our greatest power is from own actions. (The last blog post about manipulation}. All that reading about manipulation put me in rather a low mood but that statement is just so empowering.

      There is just so much great information in this post Sarah. I just have a suggestion……I think it would be great if a post such as this one was divided into three of four separate posts. Just for discussion and commenting purposes. You are a wealth of information and with this much info in one post it’s easy to miss something. Not sure if that makes sense.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Shifting,
        I am sorry that the holidays include two different D-days. That makes things extra rough. How many years ago did you find out and do you have support systems around?

        Thanks for the suggestion on breaking up the post. This certainly is a long one and I will take that into account next time.

        • Shifting Impressions

          Sarah P.
          The first D-day was three years ago and the second was two years ago. The second was regarding a very short emotional affair that happened over 15 years ago. But at the time it was going on, deep inside I knew something was very wrong.

          I do have wonderful support……thanks for asking.

          • Sarah P.

            Hi Shifting,

            That certainly is rough. I am sorry that you had to go through two different d-days. I do not think I will ever understand why a wayward spouse who loves their spouse can have an affair. It does not go along with this whole ‘love is a verb’ thing, does it? I think too many people believe love is a feeling and not an action. We know that feelings are fickle and can fluctuate so they are not reliable. Hope your holidays go okay this year.

            • Shifting Impressions

              Sarah P.
              I don’t think I will ever understand that either. He just sort of lost himself….as Esther Perel talks about. He is a caring person that gives a lot.

              But as Hopeful said this time of year can bring up a lot of memories etc.

              Two of our six-year old granddaughters had Christmas Concerts yesterday and both my Husband and myself found ourselves wiping a few tears from our eyes.

              We have an incredible family…….grownup children that have been able to support both of us without casting blame and taking sides. That is a pretty incredible feat in and of itself.

              The battle is inside of me…..so this article about our “thoughts” is very helpful.

              thanks for your caring

            • Sarah P.

              Hi Shifting,
              I am glad to hear that you had such a meaningful experience with your husband at the Christmas concert. I am sure that it must have hit him what he could have given up. I am sure that he is grateful that you stood by him and that your children were so supportive. What a great family. 🙂

              Hope the holidays continue to go well!

              Many blessings,
              Sarah

    • Rachel

      Great post!!
      Thank you 😊

      • Sarah P.

        Thank you, Rachel! Hope all is well!

    • Alice

      I’m surprised at the number of times Ester Perel is used on this site. This particular video make not show it – but she is someone who is pro-affair. There are many many articles (and other videos) where she states that outside sex can be healthy for a marriage. I’ve also seen her quoted blaming the betrayed spouse for the affair.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Alice,

        Thanks for the information on Esther Perel. I was not aware that she was pro-affair and would never knowingly use advice from an individual who was pro-affair. I had assumed that Esther’s stance was that she would not wish an affair on anyone the same way she wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone. But that both events can either force a person to sink or swim. That is sad that Esther has blamed betrayed spouses. Betrayed spouses are not to blame.

    • Hopeful

      I watched this Tedtalks within the first two months. The one thing I did take from it and found helpful was that as you said we can create new marriages within our marriage without divorce. Everything else at least for me I totally disagree. My husband lied to my face for 10 years, I worked to communicate with him regarding any issues in our marriage and myself. I felt I did everything possible except ask for a divorce. He totally agrees with me. And as far as changing I really have not. I am the same person I have always been since I have led my life in a genuine and authentic manner. I have become more vigilant and assertive and less trusting. For our entire marriage I lived my life and treated him the way I expected to be treated but he does not hold the same values as I do. But I am not going to change who I am because of his bad decisions. Any marriage has a dynamic and ours has shifted because of his behavior change.

      I never thought of myself as a victim, but I do not feel like I was an active participant. I challengeed him over the years and he would lie right to my face. I never sat and studied phone records and maybe if I did I would have figured out sooner but I am not going to do that. I have made it very clear I am the same person who he met 25+ years ago and I am not going to change in order to keep him from cheating. He is the one who was not authentic and transparent. And he is lucky I did not leave him. And the main reason I stayed was for our kids. He acknowledges all of this and is eternally grateful I have been willing to work on our marriage. He said he thought I would leave him on dday based on what he did.

      In the end I think every case is different but in a way we are victims. And I do not mean in a pity or woe is me. But I know I feel violated and hurt by what he did.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Hopeful,
        I agree that betrayed spouses are victims of the wayward spouses actions. I guess this post was speaking to people who still might be in the thick of a WS’s affair or in the thick of recovery from one so that they can see they have choices. Of course the post was for everyone who still feels stuck. I hope that I didn’t convey the message that people were not allowed the insight that they were victimized by a WS’s terrible behavior which included so much more than even the affair itself. It included the affair, and the lying, and the game playing, and the gaslighting etc etc. Of course they were victimized, but then they can flip the script by setting boundaries and by not further blaming themselves. You certainly don’t blame yourself and you should never blame yourself. Some folks have that nagging voice that they did something to cause it. Or sometimes a wayward spouse will say to the betrayed spouse: if you wouldn’t have done x, y, z, then I wouldn’t have had to have an affair. It’s that kind of thinking I am trying to address. You realize (rightly) that you have always been the same person and that your H wasn’t doing his thing because of something you did. Some folks out there still have that nagging voice that would tell them otherwise. As always, this post is one that doesn’t fit everyone or only parts of it fit some and other parts fit others.

        How have things been this week?

        • Hopeful

          For me i find this time of year to be lonely. We are extra busy, kids and family come first it seems and I feel reminded of all the years I was alone so much. All with seemingly valid exucuses at the time work, parents… and it is hard to look back and see how genuine he was towards me but then knowing he would flip and devote time to someone else. He has changed and I agree it is good to not focus on the past or future but I find the holidays to be a time of reflection naturally. And a lot is brought up by others not me or him. Luckily he is supportive and understands these feelings and knows it will take time and is working to create corrective emotional experiences. He is doing a good job and the best part is he feels the same way and validates my feelings. Thanks for asking.

          I have had trouble seeing the new posts and comments. On my desktop and phone I have erased the history but still will take a day or two. It might say 8 comments but I only see 3.

          • Doug

            Hi Hopeful, Sorry to jump in the middle of your conversation but in regards to your trouble seeing new posts and comments, try refreshing your browser and/or deleting your browser cache.

            • Hopeful

              I deleted all history on my computer, phone and iPad. Is cache different? I cannot find that anywhere. And do we need to do this daily to see the site? I do not have issue on other sites. Sorry I just have never had this happen before and am not a technology person. Thanks

            • Doug

              You shouldn’t have to do it daily at all. Sometimes it needs to be done if you see weird things happening. We recently changed servers and that might have caused some sort of issue and your browser might be showing an older version (cached) of the site. What browser do you use? (BTW…I’m not really a technology person either, so this might not do the trick)

          • Sarah P.

            Hi Hopeful,
            I am so glad your husband is working to create corrective emotional experiences. But, I understand why you still have feelings about the past. Honestly, I don’t think anyone can ever forget an affair. I do not believe that is possible. I think the hope is that with time and corrective experiences, the pain starts to lessen and trust starts to build. But, I would never expect anyone to forget. I do not think it is possible because of the way brain processes trauma. Unfortunately, trauma leaves its mark on the brain. It is kind of like a vinyl record. In the past, deep grooves were created on the vinyl to play music. Trauma creates those similar deep grooves in the brain — not literally — but figuratively. So, there has to be new stuff written over the trauma and it takes time. This evening I have been in my own head and really bothered by something. I am really bothered by the idea that there are many truly moral people out there who live their lives not hurting people– but these same people are often the ones who are hurt the most by the selfishness and carelessness of others. It just does not seem just to me. I have heard more about that affair couple at my husband’s work and the story is so terrible that it has kind of gotten me down. Yet, these two adulterers will be married soon and the male adulterer will likely be promoted into a management role. I have heard to what degree he threw his (ex) wife and kids under the bus and it has left lasting damage. (The OW also threw her husband and kids under the bus.) People like this just never seem to get theirs. It seems so unfair to me. I get really angry when I hear these stories and have a hard time letting it go. Empathy in overdrive is probably part of the problem, but I think the biggest issue is that I want to believe that if someone is a good person and doesn’t harm others that a good person will be rewarded by people treating the good person well. But I realize more and more this isn’t the case and it all seems very unjust. It seems that good people are merely taken advantage of.

            • TheFirstWife

              I think that people do get their just desserts. But sometimes we don’t see or witness it.

              Do you think in times of trouble a married couple that started as an affair has a Rock solid foundation to weather a storm? You think living your life like that is a picnic?

              I think they hide behind a facade. It is fake. They want everyone to believe their life and marriage is great. They believe it is wonderful. But there is no trust in the relationship.

              They both know what they are capable of.

              Sooo while it may seem they sail off into the sunset and live happily ever after, wait until she/he gets a gray hair or wrinkle or gains weight or gets ill and is no longer fun and exciting. Will either of them stick around through illness or dementia or family problems or mid life cross etc. I wouldn’t count on that ever.

              And then there is always the option where she/he is traded in for a younger model.

              So I say they may appear to be one way in the public eye but you never know what goes on behind closed doors. And the marriage could be awful after some time but neither one may want to admit they “made a mistake”.

            • Sarah P.

              Hi TFW,

              I do believe that you are correct about everything and they have no foundation to build upon. I think the thing that irks me is that for the moment they are flaunting what they have done and seem to be very self-satisfied and smug. They are showing off and trying to convey that the grass is green on the other side of the fence and so everyone should just go for it, like they did. These two both work together side by side where my husband works. They often work on the same days as each other and on the same shift. I told my husband that since they know neither one is trustworthy then of course they are going to work together. The thing that gets under my skin is the fact that they are flaunting what they have done and they are completely callous to the harm they have done. It is really hard to watch. They have not gotten theirs yet and so it’s really difficult to see. A friend told me that my ex fiance and the OW did that right after we broke up. They went to her company party and a lot of consultants I knew were there. She ‘came out’ with him on her arm and told everyone they were engaged. This was a week after I had physically moved out. Anyhow, they went to all of these parties and flaunted what they had done. The OW was so proud of herself for breaking up our relationship. Anyhow, these two at my husband’s work are a trigger for me. Even though it was several years ago, it is something I will never forget. I think that is because of the mind games that came along with the whole thing. He (my ex) had to be really cruel about everything. I will never understand that part. That’s why I am triggered– I see these two at my husband’s work doing the same thing.

            • Hopeful

              Sarah, I hear what you are saying. I always saw the best in people and believed in karma. I grew up in a very moralistic yet non religious house. My parents both have the highest of ethics in all aspects of their lives. Well no i see where my husband was raised in a more entitled and home where cutting corners for your own benefit was accceptable and encouraged. Him and his family always presented as the model family. Yet now all I see is dysfunction. And not anything crazy bad but just normal stuff.

              When I look around I am sad and jaded since I question the authenticity of others. I think in this day and age with technology and social media people present a very different exterior and also have access to people and things that in the past they did not. People do not persevere like in the past. I feel like people look at life as “what is in it for me” and a disposable perspective. It really is sad and hard in so many ways. I find comfort that I have not compromised and have been true to myself. And now more than ever I know that is all I can control.

            • Sarah P.

              Hi Hopeful,

              You sound so much like me and how I have come to feel about life in general. It is uncanny.

              Also, I was raised in a Christian household with the highest ethical values. (But, of course people can live ethical and moral lives without religion, just as so-called religious people can be wolves in sheep’s clothing.) My parents did not let me get away with anything. There was no gray area; everything was either right or wrong. My husband grew up in the opposite kind of family. To them, their external appearance is the truth (they have told me so) and so it doesn’t matter what they do behind the scenes. Their ‘moral values’ change from situation to situation. There is a lot more than that. I have so many crazy stories and have been telling my husband I will write a book one day about how NOT to treat those who marry into your family.

              Once upon a time I was extremely naïve. My parents have and had sterling characters and so I assumed everyone did. I considered others needs before my own. I did not know people lied. If someone did something terrible to me, I would always look at myself to find fault and never the other person.

              Waking up to what most of society is has not been a happy experience. My best friend and I were talking about this the other day. She owns a business and was telling me about how many people try to take advantage. We were talking about how back in high school we believed everyone had good intentions but we had to learn from the school of hard knocks over and over that this was not the case.

              I think that one of the root causes of affairs is this idea that people are disposable. Our culture is so product and upgrade centric and this mindset is transferring to people. Too many people see others as objects for their use.

              Of course, not everyone is this way, but I believe this attitude is growing. I read the most recent statistics on personality disorders. There has been a tremendous uptick in personality disorders in millennials. Gen X is not perfect, but millennials have more than doubled the amount of personality disorders that are in Gen X. The personal experiences I have had with millennials have certainly confirmed this. So there is certainly an upward trend toward narcissism and selfishness. This perspective begets the disposable mindset. This is something I am trying to come to terms with.

              How about you? How do you deal with these (seeming) realities?

              I need to write an affirmation list about how to deal with selfish/narcissistic people.

          • Shifting Impressions

            Hopeful
            I know what you mean about the holidays……so many memories and emotions. I too am surrounded by love and support but it’s still hard.

            Thinking of you

    • Rachel

      I have to refresh often to see most recent posts.

      • Doug

        Hmmm. Have you had to during the last 2 weeks or so? Since we changed to a dedicated server, we no longer use a caching software to help speed up load times, so I wouldn’t think there would be a need to do that. That said, if you clear your browser cache you might not need to do that any longer.

        • Rachel

          Yes!

      • Butterball

        Me too

    • bor

      Good post, the Esther Perel comment i get though she tends to engage in the belief that separation and fantasy is good for a relationship. Both which have been refuted by John Gottman and evidence he has collected over the years. It may work for people who are anxious avoidant but not secure or anxious intimate. I wish the unfaithful would read stuff like this and be able to go deeper. I agree it is betrayed that has to model the marriage they want and are really the only ones that seem to able to grasp the unhealthy ways the WS copes Illogically. A insight that it is the person they become in the marriage is not the one they want to be or was before seems to make me think this was true for My WW. He didn’t see her as a she saw herself. He would affirm her to be a very successful woman and mother, friend and energy healer. illogically she had taken all her success and failure as external validation. Work , being a mother, how we didn’t parent the same way, all she said she was a failure. I think she put lots of energy and time to have her affair because it made her feel like the person she wanted to be and that made her feel wanted and good about herself. . Now she is going back to the same behaviors that led to our disconnection. Doing her own thing separate from me and not engaging to intentionally make a commitment to spend time connecting. Every thing is more important. Work, kids, exercise, friends,facebook, tv,hobbies. I get what is left at the end of the day. Its the lack of putting the marriage first that led to much of her own self fulfilling disconnection. Its also her lack of wanting to do any work that has me putting boundary up that she need to have a plan since with a IC and her own supervision has led her back to the AP 4 times after D day. I think she may finally be coming out of it but she is still very much blaming me for her affair because of the lack of me connecting to her. She really doesn’t see that it was her effort that also if she put it forward she would have felt more connection. It is how she connected to him, lots of time and effort.

      • TheFirstWife

        BOR. Sounds like your wife has regressed.

        I wonder why.

        Can you request a date nite with her and remove her from the electronics so you have time alone?

      • Hopeful

        Bor, I am so sorry you are having this experience. It sounds like there are some major issues if she is living her life this way. It is hard to change especially after living your life a certain way. My husband had two sporadic affairs for 10 years. He broke up with them before dday and was upfront about contact after dday and and we decided what to do together. But for him it was not even the women but how he lived his life for so long. He did look at things in a twisted and distorted way. He saw me almost as the enemy or problem. However I was the same person as always and still have not really changed. But he has changed. It took him about 6 months to work through the changes. He is in the mental health field and he said this is a good time frame to work with no matter what the issue. And it was not over after 6 months but he has worked through changing his life and was happier than ever. Then he started to fight for us, me and him. It was interesting to see when I look back on it.

        I know he is the man so might be different than your wife, but he felt so guilty and wanted to fix everything for me. But we had to work through it together. In the end they made these bad choices and if they want the marriage to work they need to take steps to start to repair it. For us it was going through all the painful stuff but then setting boundaries was really where it got better. One article that was really good that my husband brought to my attention in the early weeks was Masters of Love in the Atlantic. It is good since it is a magazine article so no reading a book. And it has some great tips and info. John gottman is someone that spoke to him and made him realize how he was letting down and giving up on our marriage. Check it out and maybe it could be a starting point for you and her to talk.

        • Butterball

          Hopeful, what were the boundaries you set and how did you set them?

      • Butterball

        So what are you doing to model the marriage you want?

    • bor

      reason, my counselor says she has no reason to change she has all the power. This means I may have to let go. To see if she will then make the effort to change. she recontacted the AP unknown to me Aug 31. I found out by dumb luck. October 15th. Lets just say the letter explained why she took me to a mediator and she was looking for a way out. the Ap, she has told me, has told her there will be no more affair he would not stand with her physically as she divorced me. Her father is strongly self absorbed and happy to be that way. For the 20 years we have been married, she always was mad at her dad for not treating her mother better and even had plans at one time to have her mom come and live with us to be rid of her father. That changed in 2015 while in the affair before i found out about the affair. She said well at least my dad is happy and she blamed her mom for not having the guts to be free of him. Her mother is very self effacing. I was shocked to say the least but in hind sight i see how she came to that shift with her having an affair and being quite happy to be in it. So she has said she now will stand up for what she feels she needs to do. I am not sure if her fog is completely gone. I don’t think it is . I think she has self delusions still, or something along that line. The other night she alluded to the disconnection and how it was my fault that it happened and if she feels connected it wont happen again. I did not take the bait. I just said even if she wanted more connection then she could have said that she needed more effort from me. or even taken responsibility and scheduled the time for us if it was so important. Its not up to me to make her feel connected. I see now though it is extremely important to spend time together to build connection now that so much has been destroyed. Yes I failed to do those things such as date nights but I did not feel disconnected until 2013 but i still didn’t cheat. I was unhappy and kept telling her I was from time to time about our sex life or lack there of. But still didn’t cheat. I have tried so many times to get her to change her schedule or just limit the tv & face book time to get some talking time. Now her work is infringing on our home life. I can respect that portion as an interruption. I am wanting her to show she is willing to change and invest in the building of the friendship by taking time to talk and listen. To be open and transparent and to let me know what she is feeling. Still waiting. I will try to google the article Funny that her counselor when she was in the EA actually gave her a John gottman CD. She didn’t follow any of the advice in it to connect to me but to connect to the AP. She also never mentioned she was having this extramarital relationship either to the counselor. When we went back to the counselor after d day the counselor almost fell off her chair when i dropped the bomb that i had just discovered my wifes affair. I think the counselor couldn’t believe how badly she did to not recognize all the signs my wife was having relationship problems with her husband. DUH. We did the gottman seven habits? of successful marriages workshop in March two weeks before she went back into the EA contacting and telling me she was going to divorce me. She did so poorly on the exercises that were made to not communicate with the 4 horseman. I really thought at that time wow finally something i can do better than her.

      • TheFirstWife

        That is just awful but I hope you realize this;

        1. You are not the cause of the affair
        2. Your wife CHOSE the affair.
        3. You voiced your opinion of your situation and nothing changed
        4. You have tried to make/take positive steps and she still does not engage
        5. She is following what I call the “Cheater’s Guide”. Step by step. Play by play.

        We have all suffered through it. It’s the BS’ fault. The marriage was not good. The CS was unhappy. Blah blah blah.

        Yes it is standard for the cheater. My H was never mean or cruel to me until the affair. He brought up things from 20 years prior. Anger and resentment ftom him. As if his career is my fault. As if his anger over an incident 30 years ago is a reason to cheat.

        In any case I hurt when I read your words “she has all the power”. Do something to get your power back. Start feeling good about yourself in some small way.

        When I finally decided I had enough of my H’s behavior over the past 6 months I told him to leave. Get out. He said no he loved me and wanted to stay and work on us, except it was too late (for me).

        You see when he first admitted the affair and I realized he was in love with the OW and he was planning on leaving (the 1st time) I had no $ to my name. I had no idea if he was going to pay the mortgage or support me/children.

        I prayed for 90 days to just get through so I could get some $ in my name.

        I managed to get a sizable smount in 6 months (on my own) through saving and no spending and desperate measures.

        He then asked for a divorce in the winter but at least financially I had a plan. And my sense of self and some self esteem restored and confidence.

        My power was restored.

        PS 3 years later and we are still together and powering through the fall out. Not so much of the affair issues but his issues that I am facing b/c I will no longer sweep it under the rug or allow the patterns to continue.

        I hope this helps you b/c if you feel powerless than you are defeated. If you turn it around with or w/out her, then you will start to see a change in yourself.

        Frankly when I started living my own life and NOT including my CH in my social activities, he took notice real fast. When I started talking about separating from him he would look at me like “why?” Because you are cheating that is why!!!!

        The affair fog can make the BS nuts as well!!

        • bor

          The problem I see is I have four kids and it is my worst fear to be abandoning them so i can have a better life.Then it is myself being selfish. But I really can’t put up with her self absorbed behavior by just being a doormat and letting her take our money and keep doing these personal retreats. It would be different if I saw her putting in work such as reading articles or agreeing to do EMS weekend or BAN seminar. Even online stuff would be ok but due to the lack of commitment to do any sustained work over the last year and 4 months i think weekend retreats are the way to get as much information in to get her to shift or at least wake up. I have my power to the degree i have no responsibility for her affair. Even though i have asked her what she could have done differently to cope and she has said “nothing!” Implying that it was the only choice or else she would not have survived. I said I think you can start in therapy with your IC by asking her to help you see a different way to cope. When in stressful situations i used anger. From my FOO issues, my mother and father both used this all the time. i controlled by getting angry and shaming and belittling anyone who wasn’t meeting my expectations. That I said I loved her definitely made her think that what i was saying when i was trying to control was that i did not love her. I do understand how she could have got to that conclusion. It was her not addressing this issue stronger that allowed me to use this behavior when the house was in chaos. I have not done that to her since March. I am pretty sure I now have so much awareness of this that the habit is gone. I like your suggestion of just being into my stuff and just not giving her the time she is wasting. That was how it was before the affair. I was volunteering as a hockey coach for my son’s hockey teams since 2006. I found a lot of friends and community that made me feel wanted and appreciated. In August after the D day I went to the head coach of the team I was helping and had to with draw my time as a full time volunteer. I told him I had to try to save my marriage. After the season in March I with drew from the spring and summer programs. Mostly because i was now in crisis as keeping the family intact. This fall I did not get a spot as a volunteer as my son is now 16 and the Hockey director was essentially looking for full time dedicated people to help and establish our 16 and under team. So here i sit for the first time in 10 years devoting a whole year to her and only finding that she wanted to divorce and have a basically FWB relationship with the OM. He is leaving in a year to travel abroad. doesn’t like the US government and big business forcing us to do what ever he doesn’t like. So she knows he has never said he loved her, never was committed to her for a long term relationship. But he was more than willing to have sex with her. It is that fantasy of a different future she imagined she could change his mind, him to love her and throw away his dreams and become a dotting daddy to my kids and a stud and life partner to her. Never in his plans. You would think that all the signs of this would be obvious to her, it was to her best friend. Who kept telling her while we were trying to reconcile that OM is not changing his plans for you he is gone in a two years. I think She had to finally let go of the fantasy and is now starting to maybe shift but she still is not really putting forth the effort to change in earnest. When we are together we hold hands and are intentional to look at each other and really listen. but the time is usually only a few minutes a day. There is no effort to engage me while she is working and perhaps I need to be more intentional of that my self. I am exhausted after 14 months and four relapses. She was complaining to our CC about how she was waiting for me to be that way after her affair. I was that way for six weeks when i was texted by OM that he wanted to ask me if her contacting him should be stopped. That really set me back that all my efforts over that time were for nothing and she never stopped the EA. At that point I had so much anger, PTSD and was 25# lighter than the six weeks before i was just trying to hang on to my life. I had nothing to give her. I told our CC its hard to give anything when your head is underwater dealing with everything. My CC totally agreed with me and tried to explain that to her. I do still remember your words TFW I can still be a good dad even if we are not married. I just am not sure that I can be a good dad if I don’t have full custody.

          • Sarah P.

            Bor,

            I am really sorry about everything you are going through. I have a very special frustration with women (with children in the house) who have affairs. For me, the wellbeing of my children is a huge priority. I wonder how this is affecting your children. Do they know? This is one of those situations where I would not necessarily want to leave either for the kids. But, time will tell.

            Did you say your wife is an energy healer? If so, tell me more about that.

          • Butterball

            This jumped out at me:

            “It would be different if I saw her putting in work such as reading articles or agreeing to do EMS weekend or BAN seminar. Even online stuff would be ok but due to the lack of commitment to do any sustained work over the last year and 4 months i think weekend retreats are the way to get as much information in to get her to shift or at least wake up. ”

            It sounds to me as if you want to turn your marriage into one big homework assignment. It doesn’t surprise me that she is pulling away from you. I think you were on to something when you said you should model the marriage you want, but that means living it, not schooling her in it. I’m no wayward spouse but if I was, I would run away from you too.

            My husband and I at one point a couple of months ago started arguing about our relationship. I finally said, let’s stop this, let’s not discuss our relationship anymore, let’s just live our lives, that is all I want. If one of us starts to discuss the relationship, I told him, we should just stop the other person from doing it. Because we get nowhere but fighting at this point.

      • Hopeful

        I am so sorry! It sounds like you are doing the best you can with the situation. Do you see an individual counselor? That really helped me. I too was like you and no matter how bad things were I never considered cheating. Ever! I was lucky my husband right away owned up to it. Not in full detail so there was a dday 2 but I had no going back. But it was an evolution for him to figure out what he wanted and how to be happy again. At least for him he was not happy in the affair. My husband says it a lot but love is a verb. And if she puts no effort or little effort into your relationship even on a basic level she will not feel it is strong, and you can do all you want if she is not a partner with you then it is all lost. Hang in there and take care of yourself!

    • Butterball

      Here’s a scenario for you: You’ve got a spouse who is a doctor. He cares about your health and takes special care to make sure you are healthy and constantly professes that your health is the most important thing. Yet he is cheating on you. So you’ve got these health problems as a result of his cheating. How do you reconcile this? How do you make him see the effect he is having on your health is a contradiction to his care for your health without making him angry?

      • Hopeful

        I do not think someone who cheats kooks at it that way. My husband is a mental health professional. He has told me he knew before he ever cheated it was wrong and hated himself every day he was cheating. But he still did it. It was basically an intitled, selfish, taker mentality. He says there is no good reason he did it except that it presented itself. He was not happy with himself. And he said once he cheated he felt like he could never go back and change that and it was a lot cause. He knows from his work the damage this causes individuals, couples, marriages, children, families and he still did it. He has very high level training and is very successful in his profession. However he used none of that in his daily life.

        He has changed a lot at 20 months and regrets his actions every day. He takes 100% responsibility for what he did. He never wants to go back too that lifestyle and is working really hard in himself and our marriage.

        One thing that happened after dday is I did not care if I made him angry. I was never mean or insulting to him but he had to hear it. And if he got mad he needed to learn how to deal with it as a consequence for his actions and poor decisions.

        • Butterball

          This is a very useful post to me. I’ve never seen my husband looking more unhappy as he has since he got involved with the OW. In fact at one point the other day when we were doing some home improvement together, I smiled at him and said, “Smile!” and he just looked at me with a blank look and said, “Why should I smile?” It was as if it was a foreign concept to him. Before he might have rejected the idea of smiling because he was angry about something at the moment but this felt different. At the same time, he is concerned that I be happy now. He wants me to be happy at this moment, as if I am not happy, it will make him feel guilty. I try to dodge it because I don’t want to lie and pretend I am happy because he might hold it against me later, but I also don’t want him to think everything is ok.

          And yes, he has even admitted he is being selfish and entitled in a most explicit way especially regarding the OW. If she knew how he has described her function in his life vis-a-vis me, she would be so humiliated. And I think she is very aware that while he is giving her more attention these days (partially due to what he wants out of the relationship, partially out of guilt toward her as he knows he is just using her, and partially due to limerance which will wear off and I am in a unique position where I can already see where things will go wrong with her even though he is blind to it himself at the moment), I’m the one who is truly valuable to him in a unique and codependent way and I’m the one he would jump to do anything for. She has her role but it isn’t something unique that another woman couldn’t fulfill. Even one of his relatives and I agreed that while someone like her is a dime a dozen, he will never find a replacement for me. She’s the kind of person who can’t even figure out how to use a simple household appliance herself, and I’m the one who works with him to figure out how to fix a broken household appliance. That’s just one example of the difference between us.

          I think though the unique thing about our situation is it wasn’t an opportunity as much as a specific goal he set out to achieve. And although he thinks he (and we) will benefit from what he has done, it will take a lot longer (yeeaaars) to realize the benefits if ever, than it will to realize the burdens he has put on his head. And he is already seeing the burdens and has admitted that multiple times. In fact, he could go to his death bed and at that time realize it was all for nothing but more headaches. That he put me and him through hell for something that never was needed. I’ve told him that but he doesn’t want to see it that way, at least not yet. Unfortunately, if he realizes his goals and sees the grass isn’t greener, he is truly stuck with the consequences. There’s no getting out for him.

      • TheFirstWife

        That is a good question. How do you make someone see their actions and choices are causing you to suffer either physically or emotionally.

        I doubt there was very much you can do to have the cheating spouse understand the ramifications of their affair.

        Again, they will turn it around and point the finger at the betrayed spouse. After all I have read on this blog, It appears that the justification for the cheating spouse is to blame their spouse for the choices they have made.

        In almost every scenario that I have come across The cheating spouse clearly justified the affair by blaming the husband/wife.

        I’m not sure what you could say or do to get your husband to listen and understand that his choices are having a negative effect on you. Does he really think that you are OK with this? Does he not see the stress it is causing?

        He sees it but just turns a blind eye to it because IT WORKS FOR HIM!! He doesn’t have to deal or acknowledge that his actions are the cause of anything.

        I am sorry I wish I had a better answer. It is like talking to a brick wall in some cases this being one of them. Believe me I tried. I thought I coujd get my H to see that what hecwas doing was wrong. Waste of time.

        • Butterball

          About blame, my husband did try to blame me before I came home, but now that I am, he isn’t doing that. I think it is a lot harder to say that to someone’s face when they are in a position to prove you wrong through actions than just talking hypothetically on the phone.

      • Hopeful

        Hmmm, I wrote a long response to you over the weekend and it is not showing up. Let’s see if this one does.

        I can only speak from my experience but anyone who has an affair is selfish and self centered and they do not use logic or think about others. My husband is in th mental health field, is highly trained, successful and deals with these issues daily. He will say he knew this was wrong and damage and harm this would inflict on him, me, our marriage, our family and our kids before he ever did anything. But he still had two affairs over 10 years. He then in dday minimized everything since he says he did not want to hurt me and did not know if he could be the husband he should be for me and us. He had ended his affairs but had so much guilt and really had pulled back at that point. So in the end he had all the issues and was the one with the problems. He knew and still did it, any excuses he gives/gave were that just excuses. So at least for us my husband knew better and knew how bad the fallout would be yet still did it anyways. He was selfish, insecure and a taker who did not consider anyone else even really himself. He was miserable for 10 years and still lives with the guilt today but works hard every day to prove himself,

    • Butterball

      You are completely correct. But someday he will HAVE TO face what he has done. That’s what is so scary. I keep thinking about a conversation we had about 3 years ago. We were talking about other people who did things he didn’t respect, the sort of thing he is doing now. I keep thinking if the man he was 3 years ago met the man of today, he would say, “How did I do this? How did I become like this? How could I do this to you?’

      I think inside himself he knows this but there was one unmet need that was out of our control that pushed him to do all the other things that he would hate in himself. Me chose one action that itself was not actually a bad intention but the consequences are that he wound up doing things that are against his nature.

      It’s his problem to face but our circumstances are such that it won’t be something he can undo so easily. I feel so much of this is like an irresistible force and an immovable object. One of us has to bend to the other. It’s me right now and the time is not right yet to make him be the one to bend. But that day will come. I am sure of it. Because what I have seen since I have been home the past week or so is that our relationship is unbreakable. But we need to make a new life together in the future. It can’t be the same. But he isn’t ready to face that either.

      I have been very good about not reacting though to things he says and that has really helped to keep things under control. At one point we were doing something together and he got annoyed and said “I’m leaving” and I just didn’t react. He went out for a minute as if he was leaving but still was within earshot and after a minute I just asked him a question about what we were working on as if he had never said he was leaving and he came back and we completed what we were doing. Last night he could tell I was upset and he told me to leave the room or it would become a big problem and I ignored him and said there is nothing and didn’t leave. There was no big problem. I am able to see he is bluffing and trying to get a reaction out of me and I am not giving it to him. This is a good change that will serve our relationship in the future.

      • TheFirstWife

        Butterball. My H has deep deep regrets about his actions and choices both relative to the affair and other things.

        He once said he wished someone would have told him what he was doing was wrong and Hiw hurtful it was. And I looked him dead in the eye and asked him point blank “do you think any of your friends would have made you change your mind or chouces?” And he answered “Honestly no”.

        So there you have it. No one or nothing could have made a difference. He went to counseling early on in his affair but I honestly think he wasn’t trying to save our marriage but find the guts to leave it and end it.

        I think you atw handling your H like an adult. not giving in to his threats or his minor explosions is very helpful. As you stated he cannot hold something over you or make it “your fault”.

        Not sure what his intentions are – is he waiting for you to divorce him?

    • Butterball

      No, as I said, our situation is a bit different. The advice on this site is pertinent to us although the situation is not like everyone else’s here. But for that reason I know he doesn’t want a divorce. In fact, he would go crazy if I asked for a divorce. This is part of the reason I am so patient. OW needs to lose her luster and bit and then I will be in a stronger position to place demands on him. I know what I need to do but I can’t play my cards too early as it would backfire now.

      And I can understand exactly about people not telling him he is wrong. I had a discussion with some of his relatives. They are astute and understand how he is doing things is wrong, but they know he won’t listen to them. In fact, there are a lot of people enabling him in a passive way and several years ago he said he wouldn’t fall to their pressure in such a situation. The thing is he is doing something that he said would never ever happen and he said it from his own free mind. And he wrote it in a letter. I didn’t ask for the promises he made at all. And everything he said in that letter would never happen, happened. He compared himself as better than other people in the past and he has become like them. This is someone who explicitly said he would never put me in the exact situation we are in, yet he has done so.

      That’s what is so hard about this. We made choices together based on those promises and if I hadn’t had those promises from him I might have insisted on different choices that would have 100% prevented the situation we are in now from ever happening. I don’t want to live in the past as it isn’t going to solve anything about the present but there may come a time when I can and should remind him of those promises. Or that day may never come and I may need to leave it buried forever.

      • Sarah P.

        Butterball,

        I have a question from a few comments ago. Is your husband a doctor? If so, I think this brings special challenges. I think there are special things to consider for anyone who is married to someone in a helping profession such as medicine or therapy.

        I am sorry that this is so frustrating for you. It sounds like your husband is currently a walking contradiction.

    • Butterball

      What kind of special challenges?

      I think the special challenges are related to our specific situation vis-a-vis his profession as opposed to his profession alone. Additionally, a big part of the reason I am so understanding of him when some people think I am crazy to be so is because the ultimate cause of all this is actually something I wrote my own PhD dissertation on. My life has become what my research was about. It’s ironic in a depressing way, but also it gives me much more empathy for him that I probably wouldn’t otherwise have. If you spend 10 years of your life researching something and then it happens to you, you are more prepared than the average person to deal with it. That’s why I defend him even if he is acting crazy. And that is why I have confidence he has no intention of getting rid of me. The ultimate cause of this was something I totally understand, but it’s just the way it has played out that has caused me so much stress and upset.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Butterball,

        May I ask what your topic was for your doctoral dissertation? Was it on infidelity or something else?

        I would be interested to know how your dissertation topic ended up becoming something that is happening to you in the here and now.

        Also, I am trying to piece together what has happened, but I am operating on a lot of assumptions. Currently, I am assuming that there is another woman in the picture and that your husband has set out certain expectations that you need to follow if he is to stay in the marriage. You have chosen to stay in the marriage until he has come to his senses. But, this is still causing you pain because even if you know what is happening, the way it is happening is causing you to be stressed and upset. Please let me know if this is what is happening or if there is something else. I do not judge your decision to stay. You know your situation best and have to do what is right for you.

        Thanks,
        Sarah

    • Butterball

      No, infidelity was not the topic of my thesis, but the ultimate cause of his relationship was. That’s why I understand what he is doing, the pressure he felt that pushed him to it. He has piled other justifications on top of that but I can see already many of those other justifications will not hold up, that the grass is no greener on the other side although he may be blind to it now, but the ultimate cause probably will hold up, although there is a chance that won’t be successful either. That’s as much as I feel comfortable saying publicly.

      He hasn’t set any expectations from me so that he will stay with me other than bluffing. He’s with me as long as I want to be with him. That is something that has been stated explicitly on his part. I am not afraid in the slightest that he has plans or even wants to leave me. That’s something different about our situation. But there is an expectation on his part that I act happy with the current so as to not burst his bubble or otherwise it will burst his fantasy/perceived needs. Most likely the situation I am in that I am not happy with and stressed about is temporary, but that doesn’t make it any easier. He’s told me it is temporary. I believe him, but it shouldn’t be like this in the first place. And there is no reason it has to be whatsoever. He’s convinced himself he “can’t” do the right thing now. He’s doing damage that may last beyond the temporary.

      I’ve been reading a lot about how it is important to detach. I don’t think total detachment would work in our case but I have identified one thing that my husband decided he would do to maintain his fantasy that he is doing the right thing with me that I can withdraw from that will either push him to feel more guilty about his actions or push him to correct them. It’s something he actually explicitly said he would do several months ago as a sort of substitute when I complained about what he was planning to do. Basically, he is substituting low quality time with me for the high quality I need. I will simply not accept the low quality time and just withdraw by myself. I plan to start that from today. I know this an area he has deluded himself into believing is “good” behavior toward me on his part ,so I know it will hit him where it will hurt when I simply walk away from it.

      There’s probably more that I can do after that. There’s something else he is threatening to withdraw from me and if necessary, I will say go ahead and do it. Just to not let him feel he can rattle my cage. One power I have is to deny him the ability to interact with me under circumstances that are less than ideal for me and if he was honest with himself, for him too. He can interact with me as much or as little as he wants for now, but under the circumstances of my choosing. This is a man who used to be so proud to say to me he was doing the right thing. Now he seems proud to say he is in control of the situation with the OW and me. I’m not going to cede control to him or her but I won’t do it in a confrontational way.

      My husband is very much a clinging boomerang as described on another site. He’s constantly sniffing around to see what I am doing too. I was sitting with one of his relatives last night and we had been talking about him, but by the time my husband came in we were talking about something else. He asked us what we were talking about but by that time the relative was able to honestly say we were talking about something other than him. But in the past he would never have asked such a question. There’s a level of self-awareness bubbling under the surface with him that he is not doing the right thing and he is constantly testing me to see how I am reacting to that.

      Oddly enough, my husband is going out of his way to do stuff for me, around the house, bringing me the things I ask for, etc. Tiring himself in fact. More so that he ever did in the past actually. He even sat here and told me I should appreciate him for that. But I think he has put in his mind that is a substitute for what I really want and need. Yesterday I actually did something myself that I planned to ask him to do but I figured I could do on my own. He got angry because he didn’t like the way I did it and he asked why I had done it. I told him because I didn’t want to bother him and waste his time. He didn’t like that. He said that he does everything around the house. This might be another area where I can take the wind out of his sails, by not relying on him for things that he wants me to rely on him for. I’d be happy if he stays this way in the long run because he is actually a better man in this way but I am not going to allow it to be a substitute for the relationship I want.

      Basically, my strategy is to identify the things he is doing to make himself feel good (maybe good is too strong a word because I don’t think he actually feels good) about what he is doing and without pointing these things out to him directly, but rather through actions, take his ability to do those things away from him.

      It’s like playing a game but there’s really no other way around this.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Butterball,

        I don’t blame you for wanting to wait out your husband’s behavior and weather the storm. In the end, I would rather have couples stay together and build a more solid marriage after an affair. I personally don’t believe in divorce unless it is necessary. And there are some cases where it is necessary when there is on-going physical abuse etc. But, physical abuse would have been an issue long before the affair and physical abuse would have been a much bigger issue than an affair. However, you are not in such a situation to my knowledge.

        I get this picture of your husband in my mind treading on really thin ice. He has to make sure everything is in its place so that he doesn’t fall through the ice. He needs you there holding a proverbial life line and smiling while you do it. All the while, he is skirting dangerously over a frozen pond and he needs to be in control. You have your role, the OW has her role, and everyone has to follow his specific directions in order for it to work. If you stop smiling and drop his proverbial life line that would be a big deal.

        I find it very interesting that he requires you to have a good attitude about all of this. What would happen if you started talking truth to him about his situation while not leaving? What if you were to say something to the effect of: “I am not giving up my marriage to you, but I am not going to pretend like your behavior is okay. It will never be okay and even you know that. Otherwise you wouldn’t ask me to put on a show for you as if I am happy. I will never be happy with such a situation and will no longer pretend that everything is ok.”

        I wonder what he would say to such a thing.

        You see, you can stay in your marriage and still be empowered. Empowered behavior comes in the way you think and the boundaries you set.

        I also wonder what he would say if you told him that you have decided to see other men. I would NEVER recommend you actually do such a thing. It would be a comment to shed light on his behavior. Most likely he would have a problem with you seeing other men. Then you can tell him that since he is only meeting a small trickle of your needs, you are going to start seeing someone who will (while still staying married.) What do you suppose he would say?

        May I ask if he is having physical relations with the OW? If so, do you two still have physical relations? If so, please be careful. I will not judge you if you do. Most people experience hysterical bonding as a by-product of infidelity. It’s normal, but be careful. (You do not have to answer that if you don’t want to.)

        ***trigger warning***

        There are some very virulent strains of HPV that do not cause actual lesions. Most women don’t even know they have it until the OB/GYN tells them that they have cervical cancer. No woman deserves to go through that. That is a warning to every woman who is reading this. If your H has had physical relations at one time or another, you need to have normal pap results for the next 7-8 years from the time he stopped having relations with someone else. I don’t see this point brought up on most blogs because it is not a pretty topic and it is very personal. But, it happens and it has happened a lot. Many women have had to deal with it and some have passed away because of it. I think it is the ultimate slap in the face to women– not only has their H gone off with someone else, they now have to be worried about their health for the next several years.

        **end of triggering conversation**

        I do not blame you for staying and wanting to ride it out. It sounds like you are married to someone very successful and I think you should fight for your marriage. But because you are married to someone very successful, the OW may be plotting and planning. My most recent disgust in my own life has to do with one of my H’s coworkers. A nurse was able to plot and eventually take away a very experienced specialist (doctor.) The nurse was also married. Lots of people got hurt, especially all of the kids involved. Anyhow, the nurse is the most smug, self-satisfied person because she got to pull this man away from his wife. His ex-wife is a very beautiful, accomplished, and well-liked MD, but that did not matter. The nurse looks very different and has a different ‘look’ that men go for. But, she is also what most would refer to as slutty looking. The ex-wife was full of class and grace. The nurse shows up for work looking as if she is heading to a bar. She doesn’t even wear scrubs. I have started to wonder what would have happened if the man’s wife actually fought for her marriage and sent the trampy nurse packing. But, the nurse had a lot to gain and it would have been the fight of a lifetime. The nurse is very uneducated and comes from a lower-class background. This doctor was her ticket to a new kind of life that she felt she deserved. I am not saying people from a lower economic background normally do this. I am just saying that this nurse is materialistic and wanted a certain lifestyle, but she didn’t want to work to attain it; she wanted to take a short cut. She did not care that she destroyed her own husband and children in the process or that she destroyed the doctor’s wife and children in the process. She is just thrilled with herself and acts as if she has won the Miss Universe pageant or something. She makes no attempt to hide what she has done and since she and her lover work together, she behaves however she wants and allows him to clean up her messes. And he does. Well, he got what he deserved. But, all of the other innocent people involved did not deserve any of it. Whenever I think of it, I feel sick to my stomach. But, I am sure their relationship is a time bomb– both have proved themselves to be cheaters and I wonder who will find someone else first. I will bet the doctor finds someone else first because the nurse is going to be entering middle age soon and there will be plenty of women 10-20 years younger than her who like the doctor.

        This makes me wonder how much the OW thinks that she needs your husband and at what length she will go to in order to pry him away from you. That is, would she get pregnant on the sly? Would she blackmail him at work? What is she capable of?

        I don’t mean to be cynical– it is just best to know exactly what you are up against. It is better to be informed than to be taken by surprise. You may know who your husband is and what your husband’s limits are, but he is only half of the equation. You must know what the OW is about. Do you know anything about her?

        How long have they been together and is this someone you knew previously?

        Again, I don’t blame you for sticking it out. It sounds like everything was OK until he hit his MLC.

        • Strengthrequired

          Butterball, I am just curiousy on how you are going to react, if or when you find out that your ch slept with the ow?
          The reason I ask is I felt exactly like you, right or wrong I was going to stand by my ch, help him through his midlife crisis. Let me tell you he put me through hell and back. He promised that he would never sleep with the ow, yet his affair dragged on for over a year, she was very determined to break up my marriage, and deep down I knew, he slept with her. I wanted to believe he didn’t, I wanted to believe that she wouldn’t get that part of him. He finally admitted to sleeping with her, and I have to say, once it was admitted, something inside of me changed towards him. I felt disgust, as well as betrayed all over again.
          I don’t see him the same way, although we are still together, and the ow isn’t in the picture anymore, but it doesn’t change the fact, he went from an emotional affair into a physical one, lied about it, and forever changed the way I see him.
          I love him still, but he gave her a part of him that he wasn’t supposed to and we can’t take that back, it’s hard not to feel I have lost some love towards him, because I truly loved him, yet I have a hole in my heart, that was caused by him and the ow, and a piece of him, that is longer just mine. That is a huge reality hit.

        • Butterball

          I think you hit the nail on the head about my husband in the first part of this comment.

          I’m not worried about the OW taking my husband away. The situation as I said is a bit different.

          We had a bad day yesterday though. I went a bit crazy at him and did something (unintentionally) that could have harmed someone. It wasn’t my intention at all to cause anyone harm but what I did wound up being something dangerous. My husband said if I had he would have had me prosecuted for a crime. I felt terrible about what i did and he was ready to divorce me this morning for it but I told him I took full responsibility for what I did and that it was wrong and that I had no excuses and he let it go. He even mentioned to me that he never had any intention of divorcing me before this, but that what I did was unforgivable and this was something that made him think to divorce me. But one of his relatives and the potential victim also told him he should forgive me and let it go. But our connection is so strong he gave me another chance. He told me though if it happened again I would have to ask for a divorce. He also mentioned he would never let the OW get away with the same thing.

          • Shifting Impressions

            Butterball
            That is rich…..sounds like he turned the situation into quite a power play.

            The comment about him not letting the OW get away with this…..wow.

            Were you upset about your situation when this unintentional act happened? If so where is his responsibility in all of this?

            You say he is “giving you another chance” because the connection is “so strong”

            He threatens to prosecute you, he threatens you with divorce and even lets you believe he would never let the OW get away with this and then he “lets it go” and has you thanking him for it.

            Do you really not see the manipulation??? I am sorry I just had to comment. My heart hurts for you.

            • Butterball

              No it’s not manipulation. Seriously, I did something that could have caused serious permanent physical harm to someone, including myself actually with the recklessness. He said my intentions didn’t matter, it was the action. And he was right. It could have been argued in court that it was my intention though and it would have stood up because anyone could see that I would have possible motivation to do so, even though there was no intention of harm on my part. My intention had nothing to do with harming anyone actually. It was a side effect of what I did without thinking first.

              There is definitely no manipulation on his part as much as you want to infer it. The moment I did what I did I immediately realized I was wrong. And my husband knows he can’t control me and has admitted that even though he wants to believe he is in control of everything.

              He came to me ready to end it, or take an action that would have led me to ending it. I told him I understood if he wanted to divorce me or couldn’t trust me after what happened. I basically gave him an out and said if you want to end it you can. That’s not something I have ever done before. Always I would try to stop him in a situation like this, ALWAYS. I told him my intentions about our future and that I had no bad will toward anyone as he thought, but I also told him he could end it if he wanted. I wasn’t calling his bluff, I was serious. But HE caved and said he wouldn’t divorce me. In a way, this marked a turning point in the dynamics of our relationship. As much as we are going through shit now, in thinking about it, this was a much more mature way of handling it than we ever did before. I basically let him go and he chose to stay.

              As he said, it didn’t matter what my intentions or feelings were, the important thing is the action itself because it could have had an effect that destroys lives. And that is true I think no matter what happens. We can’t control our feelings about the situation we are in but we should control how we react carefully. That is what I failed to do. I told him I would not make any excuses for what I did and that was what I felt. Yes, I had a good reason to FEEL the way I did at the moment but not how I ACTED. I could have acted differently vis-a-vis the situation.

              Just because my husband is acting badly himself doesn’t mean he isn’t wise about things.

              And definitely the OW would not get away with it. There’s more I understand about the situation than you know and I am absolutely certain of that.

          • Butterball

            I told him point blank how upset I would be if he does what I don’t want him to do and that all this was unacceptable and his response was “I can’t” over and over I really felt in his voice that there is something truly blocking him mentally putting him in that state. So I told him if he went ahead and did it there was no way of avoiding the hurt and humiliation he didn’t want me to feel, but that I would be patient because I had promised him that. I really pushed him on it but I truly feel there are unresolved issues inside him making him this way and it just needs time. It’s very obvious every day that he does love me and is trying so hard in a different way to make me happy but it isn’t what I am used to or what is most important to me. His relatives keep telling me he loves me so much and to just be patient and that everything will be alright. They can see it in the way he talks about me and to me and defends me how important I am to him even if he doesn’t verbalize it directly. I know the OW is getting some things I am not getting but when it comes to actual real love, there’s no comparison. I know I am in the superior position. If I were to sum it up, he’s a completely devoted husband but not a complete one at the moment. I’m not fighting against possible divorce, just trying to get through a difficult period and keep my sanity and the respect between us.

            • Shifting Impressions

              Butterball
              Your comments are so perplexing to me. He threatened divorce, he threatened to prosecute you, he has another woman and he expects you to make nice and be patient.

              Is that really devotion? For someone who is breaking his marriage vows to you, he has high expectations.

              Sounds like the family is enabling him….just be patient and all will be fine.

              If and when he leaves the OW you will be left with an aftermath of emotions that he could betray you in this way.

              Lest you think I don’t believe in the sanctity of marriage you would be wrong.

              I know you probably don’t want to hear this…….but as I said my heart aches for you.

            • Butterball

              There’s more to the situation that I don’t want to write about here that makes the situation very different from everyone else’s here. If I were to take everything at face value as I write here, I could understand where you are coming from, but there are differences underlying the whole situation that truly make it different.But I don’t want to write about those differences as I know people here would not accept them.

              It may seem like I am in denial, but actually I know the score far more clearly than you ever could with your husband and therefore I actually have a firm basis for my confidence rather than just wishful thinking. Anything he tells me I can confirm with my own eyes and ears. I don’t need to rely on him to be truthful or not. There’s no hiding for him.

    • Sara

      Sara, Thank you for the article!!!! It was so timely with the Holidays coming. I am working very hard on staying in the present and finding power in my life. I have a situation coming at Christmas and I wanted to tell you what I decided to do with the help of my family. My husband told me he will be going to his church on Christmas eve for the service. Of course he will be seeing the OW, he doesnt think I know this. So I have decided on Christmas morning to travel to my home town and have a Christmas brunch with my family alone for a few hours without him. My sister in law does not want him to come and told me in no uncertain terms that I can do this and be ok. I need to do this to feel better about myself and find some respect. I havent presented this to him yet so I am unsure when I should tell him. I know it will be hard but I am going to do it. Thank you for the great article.

      • Sarah P.

        Hello Sara,

        I am happy that you are having brunch without your husband. I think your best strategy is to just do things independently that make you happy and don’t ever worry about what your H thinks. Often when a wayward spouse sees that their spouse is going on outings independent of them, it causes them to take pause. You can stay in your marriage if you want and still act independently and do the things that make you feel good. I wouldn’t be surprised if that generated renewed interest from your husband. Just remember that you deserve to be cherished and it’s always okay to draw lines in the sand and refuse to be treated a certain way. You don’t even have to leave a marriage to refuse to be treated a certain way. Just make sure that you take care of yourself. I am happy that the article is helpful to you, Sara.

        Merry Christmas!
        Sarah

    • Rachel

      Butterball,
      Does your husband have a low self esteem? For a spouse to tell you that you need to appreciate him for helping you seems rather odd. Marriage is about helping each other without constantly praising. My ex needed praise constantly. Even for unloading the dishwasher. Really, he used the dishes too.
      What was his childhood like?

      • Butterball

        I wouldn’t say he has low self-esteem, but for someone who has achieved so much and overcome obstacles that would turn most people into losers, I would say he definitely has low self-confidence. I posted elsewhere about his childhood but the short version is that his father was a drug addict when he was a child who beat him and his mother, and my husband actually sort of justified this by saying he was a troublemaker as a child but he doesn’t seem to have many stories about actually being a troublemaker, which makes me doubt that is actually true. On the other hand, his father was very attentive toward making sure my husband got educated and made sure he was doing his homework every night and that is something that my husband praises his father for.

      • Butterball

        I would say that my husband is being actually a lot more attentive and proactive about doing things for me than he ever was before in our entire marriage. He is going out of his way really for me in this regard and I can’t fault him at all in that and it definitely is not a bad thing.

        • Hopeful

          My husband was achieving record success when he started his affairs. He has been super successful his entire career. I am given a large amount of credit since I supported him through his education and training and getting his business started. It was with my personal and monetary support. I paid for his education, supported us and paid for him to start up his business. And my husband had what looked like a model childhood. I think he was entitled and spoiled but nothing ‘bad’ happened. But he was never held accountable. He was always a high achiever in all aspects of his life so it was not an issue. But as my therapist says he cuts corners in his personal life where he does not elsewhere. But obviously he was not happy with himself to do what he did. I think some is related to his upbringing and personality but based on the boundaries and expectations I have put in place he has responded well. He knows he gets one chance. And he knows if he hides or breaks my trust at all it will be unacceptable. we have made it clear and come to an agreement as to what we want from our marriage. So everything is crystal clear. He has never been happier. What I like is he is happy with me and us but even more I love that he personally is truly happy.

          For someone to cheat there had to be some issue. I know you day your situation is different but unless it is in the workplace, sexual harassment where he would get sued or bribed I am not sure why it is okay. My husband knew before, during and after he was wrong and it would damage our marriage. He was selfish and only thought of himself. What is crazy is my pre teen kids would know better. They would have told you in kindergarten this is wrong. If this an agreement in the marriage that cheating will go on that is different but if there are negative effects then I see no place for it. But again it depends how you define marriage and what you want and how you feel.

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