healing from an affairI received an email from a reader, Jill, who I have corresponded with previously and who recommended a great post from another site about healing after an affair.  Her email details some of the issues that most of us betrayed spouses face during our affair recovery – both good and bad.

I must warn you that this is a very long post, but packed with good stuff.  Thanks Jill!

First a little background from the reader.  Here are some excerpts from her email to me:

“…I found something in my research the other day that I thought you might want to bring to the attention of your readers.  I am a survivor of my husband’s infidelity.  We have been working extremely hard to make up for all of the mistakes we both made over our (almost) 48 years now.

The affair took place almost exactly 2 years ago and I thought I would be over it by now, but am discovering that it’s not as easy as just willing myself to do just that.  There is healing that I still have to experience, and also healing my husband has to experience.  Not only my psyche was hurt by all of this, but his was also.

I will try not to make this a book, so I’ll get to the point.  I had been doing pretty well, at least we both thought that was the case, then recently, I started to regress.  I was getting lost in a maze of feelings and mistrust…things I thought I had conquered were now, again, rearing their ugly heads. I was so confused wondering, why now?  I was becoming so much more angry.  I just didn’t understand.

My husband tried to tell me that it was the natural progression of things, that we were calming down both sexually and emotionally.  Well, I didn’t want our sex life to calm down.  I didn’t want to get used to him and him used to me.  I didn’t want the sex to slow down.  I became very frightened and angry.  I wanted the excitement, love and lust that we felt when he came home to me when we reconciled, to last forever.  We were like a couple of teenagers, and my libido has hardly lessened at all since that time.

I had been afraid that what he had told me might happen and hoped that it wouldn’t.  I loved wanting him every moment of the day and night.  I wore him out.  I began to wonder if maybe I was using sex as a crutch because it made me feel safe when were making love.  I knew that it was me and only me that he wanted and loved at those special times and I felt completely safe.

Then I found a website written by a someone named Maria Eva. I have read much of her writing, and one thing that really hit home with me was about the stages of affair recovery.  

First Stage:  Initial shock after finding out about cheating.

Second Stage:  Attempt to stabilize your life after cheating or an affair.  

Third Stage:  Second wave of anger after cheating. 

Fourth Stage:  Final adjustment after cheating or an affair.

I have identified that I am currently in Stage 3 and I have to admit that lately things have gotten a little more difficult, troubling and confusing but just learning that this is what is probably happening to me has helped.

I am now working on some of the suggestions and having some success already.  I have a long way to go.  Gosh, after 2 years and I still have to admit that I have a long way to go!  That is scary, but I am determined and so is my husband to save our marriage.  We are very much in love, much more so than before the affair and in a much more intelligent and mature manner.

However, I would like to add that as in so many other comments I have read, our sex life has also matured…or maybe I should say become younger and more exciting…all I know is that it is better than ever…better than I had ever hoped for and we both believe that it will never become dull or unexciting ever again, as long as we live.

We talk about our sexual needs as we never did before and we give ourselves to each other like we never did before, so completely both emotionally and physically.  All I can attribute this to is that we have learned to trust each other…to make ourselves vulnerable to each other.  This is a very frightening thing to do, especially since there was infidelity in our marriage.  We both believe that we have made the choice to trust.  That’s what it’s all about – making choices…and we are going forward and building on our trust every day we are together.

I know you’re not a licensed psychologist, but honestly, I feel like you are a friend, and I had never seen “the four stages of recovery” addressed in any of my research before and it truly helped me to read about it.  Maybe it is something you can use on your blog, and maybe you will decide not to, but I wanted to share it with you and let you decide.  Thank you and Doug for being so brave.  You are both far braver than I could be to share your problems with everyone hoping to help them.  I am so proud of you both.  Thank you so much for being there for me and my husband and so many others who need your counsel.”

The website that this reader refers to is Cheating and Narcissism Support.  The site has some great information, and as you can tell, deals a lot with narcissism along with the mental aspect of affair recovery and healing after an affair.

I’m not sure where she gets all of her information, but it seems as though she has done some research and she states that she has a background in neuroscience and behavioral sciences. Please read on!

Here is the post:

The Healing Process After Cheating

There are certain phases you must go through after cheating or an affair has occurred. These phases vary depending on whether both you and your spouse have agreed to try to continue the relationship or if you have ended the relationship after cheating took place and you are now simply trying to heal yourself, forget and recover.

Phase 1: Initial shock after finding out about cheating

This is the stage when you feel completely lost, disoriented and crushed after learning about cheating or an affair. You feel strong anger towards both your cheating spouse and the Lover with whom the cheating took place. You may even become violent towards one or both of them. Your mind is full of horrible thoughts related to the event of cheating or an affair, most of them being a mixture of pain, anger, jealousy, frustration, depression, anxiety and mistrust towards your cheating spouse.

Phase 2: Attempt to stabilize your life after cheating or an affair

If your cheating spouse has left you after you found out about cheating or if you have left your spouse

You are slowly starting to accept the new course your life is now taking. The feelings related to cheating or an affair such as anger, pain, anxiety and depression are still in you, but since nothing concrete is constantly reminding you of your cheating spouse (he or she is not around on daily basis), recovery will be much faster than if your cheating spouse was constantly around and you would try to make the relationship work again.

If your cheating spouse has stayed with you after cheating took place and you are trying to heal your relationship

You may feel as a winner for a while and may even feel happy that your cheating spouse has “chosen” you and not the Lover with whom the cheating took place. You feel you have gotten over the pain, anxiety, depression and anger since your cheating spouse has (most likely) apologized the betrayal and has promised to be faithful to you and never to cheat again. Deep in your mind you have only wished that you could somehow brush away the memory of cheating or an affair and that your life could be the way it used to be.

It is natural for a human being to wish that things would stay unchanged. The change can be a frightening thing, since it is always a jump to the unknown. You have gotten used to the life with your spouse before cheating took place, part of your identity is to be his or her partner. If you separate your life will change fundamentally. That is a very unpleasant thought. That is why you wish that you could somehow make things work again after cheating took place. For a while you are enjoying the “second honeymoon”, a wonderful feeling you get when you think your spouse is not going to go away as a result of cheating or an affair, that your husband or wife CHOSE you, that your life with your spouse will continue despite the cheating and as a consequence there will be no great changes in your life.

What you are not aware of yet is that your life has already changed fundamentally due to cheating or an affair. Your relationship to your cheating spouse will never be the same again. This does not necessarily mean your relationship will be worse, but it will be different. This is something you must accept before you can truly move on with your life, forgive, forget and get over cheating, lying and betrayal.

During this phase your self-confidence slowly starts to return and you start to feel more secure. It helps you to improve your self-esteem if you are taking good care of yourself, both mentally and physically. If you see a healthy person when you look into a mirror, it boosts your self-esteem and reduces the intensity of your painful emotions. Even if you feel you have been neglecting yourself in the past, this is a good time to start to take care of yourself.

Phase 3: Second wave of anger after cheating

You only go through this phase if you have decided to stay with your spouse after cheating or an affair and you are trying to make your relationship work again.

After some time has passed and the routine has again stepped in to your relationship, the memories of cheating, lying and betrayal performed by your husband or wife start to come back to you. The memories of cheating or an affair might make you feel an extreme anger towards your cheating spouse at unexpected moments, in the middle of making love, during a romantic dinner etc.

The memories of the betrayal, lying and cheating will flatten your feelings towards your husband or wife and create anger, frustration, anxiety and strong mental pain. You are furious because your spouse cheated on you and lied to you. You thought your husband or wife (or girlfriend or boyfriend) is your base rock in this life, the one person you can always trust and who truly cares for you, and now all this has changed forever as a result of cheating. You start to realize you can never go back to the time when you felt unconditional trust towards your spouse. The images of your cheating spouse and the Lover keep coming back to you and are causing you great mental and sometimes even physical pain.

During the third phase of recovery after cheating or an affair you feel sometimes very happy and sometimes very sad. You are wondering if you can ever fully trust your cheating spouse again. This is the phase during which you are finally starting to realize and accept that your relationship with your spouse will be permanently different from now on. You are starting to accept that you can never return back to the way things were before cheating took place.

Phase three of the recovery process is often the hardest one of all four phases. It is important not to get stuck in this phase. People who cannot move past the third phase of the recovery process often end up becoming bitter and depressed later in their lives. If you are unable to move past this phase you are endangering your current relationship as well as all the other romantic relationships you might develop later in life. Do not allow the actions of your spouse to affect your life in a negative way any more than they already have.

Phase 4: Final adjustment after cheating or an affair

If your relationship has survived until this point after cheating took place, it has good changes of continuing even after the trauma created by the betrayal. During this phase of the recovery, the memory of cheating or an affair is finally starting to sink into the past. If you are still together with your spouse, you are starting to adjust to the way your relationship now is, without longing for the past which can never return.

If you and your husband or wife survived up to this point without separating, your relationship has good chances of becoming even stronger than it was before cheating took place. But your relationship has also become very fragile and vulnerable should any kind of dishonesty occur. If cheating, lying and betrayal occur again, the process of the recovery takes much longer than it took the first time and in a worst case the recovery, healing and regaining the trust towards your spouse may not be complete. And that is the way it should be: This is the way of the nature to warn you that you should not invest all your trust and love into an individual who is repeatedly letting you down, lying to you and betraying you.

 

I probably should have broken this down into a couple of different posts since there is so much information here, so take your time to digest it and let us know your thoughts about this in the comment section.  Good luck in your own process for healing after an affair!

 

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    63 replies to "The Four Stages of Healing After an Affair"

    • Holding On

      I am a fairly new BS. It is 2.5 months since D-Day. But I have had a new found hope, acceptance, and deep feelings of forgiveness that frankly was unable to feel just a few weeks ago. It seemed impossible to wrap my mind around forgiveness.

      I feel like I might be in Phase 4? I feel like I hit the second anger because it surprised me that I was SO MAD at him again. It was like I was back at the beginning again. It was frustrating. I was so sick of feeling like that, so ready to move on and forgive this man, but had no idea how I could get there.

      I’m not sure if I’m really out of the woods, because I am only a few months out. And frankly, my feelings have been quite the roller coaster. I think I read somewhere that the anger starts 6 months out?? So that is a terrifying thought. I know I have lots of feelings to still work on, but just feeling those forgiving thoughts, accepting thoughts, and patience and understanding for my husband brings me a lot of hope for the future and for my marriage.

      I know this has forever changed us, and forever changed the marriage. I still have major trust issues. There are still triggers and sadness, but it’s like I see a light at the end of the tunnel and that is a wonderful feeling. I am so happy to see the light.

      Hang in there! And I would suggest jumping to the “Related Post” at the end of this one. The 8 Stages of Recovery. It was helpful to hear all the stages and see where I am in all of this. It is comforting to know I am headed in a good direction.

      Thanks again, Doug and Linda for this site and your help for all of us. It is such a great place to seek guidance to try to move forward.

    • JS

      I think this is great information. I think I am in Stage 3 and I fear I am stuck. My husband told me in January of 2010 that he was unhappy in our marriage and needed things to change. I was so sad but I tried to make the changes he was looking for. I found out about his EA in July of 2010, and he assured me it had only started in April of 2010 (because at the time, that was the oldest email evidence i could find, so he fessed up only to that.) I was, of course, stunned and devastated. It was with a co-worker 17 years younger than me, and they continued to work together, which was very troubling to me, but I did my best to move our marriage forward. I assumed the EA was a result of being so unhappy with me, so I really tried to be the wife he wanted. He assured me he had cut all ties with her and had no need to have work correspondence with her, and he promised me he would tell me if there was ever a need for them to speak about work. I believed him. We took a family vacation together, we had our anniversary at a romantic restaurant, he sent me flowers, etc. I believed we were making so much progress. Then in early September 2010, I stumbled across an email from him to her showing the EA was going on in January of 2010 – right when he said our marriage was the problem, he was already in the EA. It started in December. I felt betrayed again. I felt like I was just stumbling out of that, when in late September 2010, I found out the scope of their EA was much greater than I ever knew. Hundreds and hundreds of texts on a weekly basis, nightly phone calls to her, constant lunches together, holding her hand at restaurants and in the car on the way there, sending her pictures from our family vacation and from campouts with our daughters, etc etc. I no longer believed this was only an EA, I no longer believed anything he was telling me. He was so clear in promising me no contact with her, yet it was evident from his communication patterns that he was the initiator in the later stages rather than the early stages where she was the pursuer. I was so full of rage I could barely function. The pure rage has subsided. I didn’t leave him because I loved him and I loved the family we had built together and I didn’t want to let it go. I wanted to fight for it. But now I feel sad more days than not, and I worry I’m stuck. I worry I’m with a man who will never be faithful and honest (he did this in the beginning of our realtionship, too, and tried to make me think I was crazy when I confronted him with the evidence. It was only years later, after we were married and our children were born, that he out of nowhere admitted what he had done and that I was right all along. He let me believe I was crazy for all those years.) I am worried I’ll never be able to trust him again, even though he says he hit rock bottom and really understands what he did wrong and how much he hurt me. Yes, I am starting to accept that things will never be the way they were before the cheating took place. Considering there was cheating even before we got married, I feel stuck in the thought that our 9 years together has been a lie all along. I have seen a counselor who said do you really think a person who has such patterns will ever stop? I know the answer is no, they don’t stop and they don’t change, but I can’t seem to give up on this and I feel like such a fool and a doormat for that. My first marriage ended as a result of repeated PAs that I just couldn’t forgive and move beyond. I can’ t believe how much infidelity has impacted my life. Thanks for listening.

      • Kristine

        I’m on a roll today lol – sorry everyone, not trying to take up all the comments but I’m working on a blog post and I’m on my laptop as opposed to my iPhone so I’m able to comment a bunch 😉

        JS I think stage 3 was very long for me. It wasn’t really a set amount of 6 weeks and then it was over or 2 months and done. In other words, it wasn’t CONTINUAL before I came out of it. It was kind of an in and out stage. I’d come to an “end” and think I’d be done only to find myself BACK in it. It was very frustrating and I was getting fed up with it because at that point (as Linda has said on another post) you get to this place where you just are so tired of the pain the hurt the anger and you start to think that you should be further and then you start to wonder if the marriage can really survive. I had to really fight to come out of those times before it overwhelmed me again. I look back at those 6m and I realize a lot of GROWTH took place during that time. A lot of discovering were made. It was through that stage and fighting through it and keeping an open mind when I’d come up for air that I learned. That we learned. That some things were shed and I slowly let go. I kept thinking that it was a horrible time, and it was, but I can look back and see how it was part of the process to get to here, stage 4 and I’m free of so much of that stage 3 stuff now.

        I know this is a hard time and you are really having to go through it HARD without a husband who is HELPING you through it which certainly is helpful in so many ways along with the fact you’ve had several D-days not really having all the answers to everything. I don’t know what your faith is but I do know that if you are a believer in Christ, God can change all things and you can put your trust and faith in Him to honor your covenant. The Power of the Praying Wife is a great book to check out as well. God is able. I’m praying for you 🙂

        • JS

          Thank you for your prayers, Kristine. I definitely need them, and I pray for healing for myself, as well.

      • Norwegian woman

        Our stories are very similar. Only that I caught my husband having an EA in december 2009. He cut her out and told me he never ever would lie to me again. Last september(2010) I recieved a e-mail from a husband who told me that he had an PA with his wife PRIOR to the EA. The worst was that they were still in contact up to september…… I even found a mail in april and confronted him, and he would have me to believe that I was crazy and paranoid. And then he conspired with this woman how to fool me to believe it.

        Is there any other way to make sure to crush a human being in the most possible demeaning way? This is what my husband is capable of. This is what he can do to his wife and mother of his children.
        I am probably in stage 3. I am unsure if I will ever get to stage 4 because of the fact that it has finally started to sink in that there is no boundries for what evil he is able to do to me. I can never expect to EVER be protected and treated with dignity by him. I allways have in the back of my mind, the thought that when it comes to his needs or wants, there is nothing that is sacred for him. Not even his wife of 24 years. Even though he has changed radically, I still don`t believe in it.
        Its hard.

    • Kristine

      Holding On,

      I don’t wish pain or sadness on anyone but I’d be surprised if you were in stage 3 this soon out. I think I went through stage 3 off an on for 6m to be honest. Our D-Day happened and then a month later my husband moved out. He continued in his adultery and 10 weeks later we started making steps to reconcile with him moving back home 2 weeks later. From the time he made steps to come home until 3m later, we were in this lovely honeymoon phase. I felt like I had forgiven and had moved past everything. It was about 3m AFTER that when it all kept hitting me in the face again, all the pain. I’d shake it off and then it would come back again, it would leave for a while and then pop up. This kept on for about 6m until I reached this place where I started thinking “I can’t do this!” I was tired of the pain. I wanted it to stop, I was feeling angry and sick of that, I was feeling like pointing the fingers and wanted that to leave… I was just sick of the whole process. I thought because I stood for our marriage and God intervened and answered my prayers I was going to get to skip the pain part or at the very least my pain would be short. Reality was, I still had to go through my own process.

      Now we’re at a yr and 2m since we’ve reconciled and I believe I am in stage 4. I only arrived there a couple months back. I think I had to get past the anniversaries of D-Day, the day he moved out, all the other painful dates to really MOVE forward into the new. I’m not saying your recovery will match mine and that you’ll have the same process but I too was very surprised by how much more pain I had to move past and then the anger and then the whole just wrapping my head around all that had been said and done. It really is a series of steps forward, backwards, sideways and some weird shuffles in between. I do know this. No matter how long it takes to come through this (for the Betrayed Spouse and the Betrayer) it can be done.

      PS I hate it when articles or when anyone refers to the OP as the LOVER. To this day it makes me SICK! Adulterer/Adulteress works. Infidel… Lover? No, I am my husband’s lover.

      • Holding On

        I honestly would be surprised also, because I know on my good days, I feel like I am so on top of this, then I quickly swing to my lowest, where I am back in the thick dark again. But I have hit a new place where I am feeling real light. I am hopeful. I am not stuck on reliving the pain or trying to make my husband understand my pain anymore. We’ve done a lot of that. Just a much more positive place. It is hard to describe.

        Just this week I feel the seeds of forgiveness. I can actually let that weight go. I didn’t even want to tell my husband, because of the roller coaster of emotions. I didn’t want to say I forgive him, then bash him with what he did and hold it over him again in a few days. That isn’t forgiving. So I thought I would keep this feeling to myself and see if it stays a week or so. Haha. But on our way to counseling he was so distraught on what he has done and my pain that I had to tell him about my new found, freeing feelings. I also mentioned my tentativeness, but that I wanted him to know I’m in a really good place (for the moment) because we need some positive. The past few weeks have been me getting a LOT of anger out. On all types of daily things…but not really about the daily stuff, it was all EA related. Trust issues, him not taking my feelings into considerations, etc. And I did not handle my anger in a good way. Perhaps productive in the long run for me, but very hurtful for him. So even when I shared my “new place”, he is very tentative to accept that this the end of my blaming and anger and rage.

        I do like that I am feeling forgiveness feelings, which I hadn’t before. I do like that my H has been so willing to talk and share, though difficult. He is realizing that we need to go through all the muck to get to the other side. He has been willing to do whatever it takes. I think that has been so helpful. Anything I suggest that will help me heal, he has done it, even if he doesn’t quite agree or see how it will help.

        I think I hope it won’t take as long for me because I don’t want to feel like I have for the past 2.5 months for a year or more! That is scary. Also, I hope since the EA was short lived (2 mos.) and fully online, phone, chats long distance. He never said he loved her or took it farther with photos or sex texts, etc. He was planning to end it himself before I found out, he says he hasn’t looked back. Plus all the stuff he has been willing to do – answer all my questions, share his Messages with her when I demanded them, talk about it a LOT, go through each of my individual hurts and talk about each summarizing and reflecting and apologizing for those individual things, etc. I guess I hope that with us both doing so much to move us forward and the positive I feel, I hope we are coming to a good place?!?

        Plus, my husband had a lot of hurts that he had given up sharing with me. He says for the past 12 of the 16 years he hasn’t felt loved in the marriage. This has been shared in the past, but just last week it came out the actual years he has felt unloved. So we both have work to do. I think seeing we are both not perfect really got my mind off what he all did and see we both did a lot of stuff. His was an explosive bullet wound (with shrapnel all stuck in me), but his hurts are like he was starving in the marriage for years.

        Wow, that was a long response. Yes, I’d love to be in the final stage, but I agree that I’m probably still in 3 waiting for the waves of anger and hurt and sadness to wash over me again. But I’m good again today, and that is a very good thing! 🙂

        • Holding On

          Yes, I need to clarify. I am in Stage 3. After 5 great days, then down I went. And you know what started it? FANTASY! I had a bad dream where I was played the fool and it was horrible. A trigger dream??? Uggh. I kept telling myself it was a dream, but it sure put me in a bad mood. The whole day I was fighting off this sinking feeling and then other disagreements about Facebook and Email and BAM. The anger exploded again. Or I should say, I felt very angry and then acted on it with ANGRY ACTIONS. I need to control the feeling and not let it be actions (yelling, refusing to talk about it calmly, silence, leaving.) I end up with a lot of regret and remorse over acting out with my anger. It was a long, bad, hard day.

          • Kristine

            Hi Holding On, yep sounds like a trigger dream to me. I had many of those in the beginning when I first found out about the adultery and then some later down the road when I kept going in and out of stage 3. It’s not pretty.

            Stage 3 was almost as bad as Stage 1 because I would never know when it was really going to end, seemed like it was never ending and when I got my head above water and would be feeling secure in being past things it would pop up and nail me to the ground again.

            I had extreme pain and anger and often times wasn’t in control of myself and I’d lash out at my husband. sometimes I’d lash out at him over the fact he never expressed his feelings before all this more than the adultery. It was being in the dark and not knowing what was going on with him and reeling from the fact that he never gave me a chance to help him with anything and chose to look elsewhere because he let everything amp up in his head to ridiculous proportions that he rewrote history and bailed on us and our family.

            He admits now “you were a wonderful wife and what I did by not sharing my feelings wasn’t fair to you. I lost sight of all that we did have and almost lost my family because of it.”

            The downward spiral is so easy to get sucked into. One thought turns to 1000 and pain turns to so many other emotions. It was a long bad day and there might be more *BUT* there is light at the end of the tunnel, one day it will end! I promise! I don’t know what your faith is but me leaning on God for comfort and strength is a huge source of me making it through this in one piece and with my mind still in tact (and my husband’s life saved, truth be told) 😉

    • Veronica

      I’m struggling to get past the first stage. It has been 7wks since DD (3days after our daughter was born). He left the house when I started to find clues about the affair in June. He denied the affair until I made the phone call to OW and she was surprised to know I was not aware of it. Apparently he made her believe we were both going our separate ways after our daughter was born.
      Fast forward- he comes over everyday to help me with the kids. Sometimes he makes plans for us to go run errands together when he can do these things alone or I do them alone while one of us watches our 3yo and 7wk old at home. Last week I had suspicions that he was still seeing OW. I confronted him and he denied it. When I confronted her, she was no longer willing to talk to me. The following day, Friday, he confessed that he had very strong feelings for her and tried not to talk to her anymore but something always made him want to call her. He also confessed that he liked it that she was an emotional mess and it made him feel needed. He also believed she supported him and I didn’t. I simple said, in a very soft tone, “oh sweetie but I always supported you. You just don’t see it because if you do then you’ll know our relationship wasn’t all that bad.”
      I must’ve done something right because on Monday he said he had been thinking about what I said and realized that “no, our relationship wasn’t all that bad”
      He still hasn’t agreed to coming home but spends most of his time at home and has agreed to spend the night twice a week to help me with the kids. Saturday nights, he watches the kids til late so I can go out. Monday nights my son spends the night with him. All in all, he has no free time to see OW except when he’s at the gym. I just hope he makes more discoveries on his own. I don’t beg him to come back nor do I try to force him to leave her. And I don’t say things to make him feel guilty. I’m very hopeful for his recovery. He was a great husband and father before all of this.

      • Kristine

        Veronica your “story” reminds me of mine to some degree. My husband also moved out. I started standing for our marriage very soon after. He too spent a lot of time with us, with the kids, he was definitely on the fence about his decisions. You’re doing the right thing, pulling back, not crowding, not begging. I showed unconditional love and did a lot of praying and letting God work on my spouse as well. I knew this was not the actions of my husband. We had a great marriage and family and I believe he somehow fell prey to believing otherwise because of hurt feelings he had that I was unaware of which allowed him to rewrite history like your spouse did. He did come out of it. He was making moves to reconcile 10 weeks after he moved out. He didn’t approach me as if he was but you could clearly see he was. The first “date” when I finally saw the inside of his apartment he asked me “where would you put all of this stuff?” meaning all the stuff he bought for the apartment. He cut things off with the OP and moved home 2 weeks later. I’m sorry you’re in this rough place, stage 1 is not pretty but you can get through this. If you want to read about standing, go to rejoiceministries.org

    • Kristine

      Oops I meantto say I’d be surprised it you’re in stage 4 already… I said 3 in my first reply.

    • Paula

      Absolutely wonderful post, and a great reminder of how LONG this can take. Many of you know, I am two years and four months out, and what Jill said is so true of my experience. We had a little love honeymoon after D-Day, I was in shock, in terrible pain, but “I’d won” even though I didn’t even know I was in a competition, I still “beat” her – when she had every opportunity to be on her best behaviour, and I had no knowledge of any of this, and I still won, yay, me!! Sex and intimacy in general were AWESOME, my OH couldn’t believe how lucky he was, I was fabulous, and forgiving, and loving, (also, sad and hurt, and he did see that, too) but, weeha! He was in awe of my strength and love. About 5 months later, plummet, this is it, forever, bugger! Suicide attempt, meds, etc, absolute hell. I’ve ridden the roller coaster constantly since, but this post explains it so well. I have been told that staying is the hardest thing to do, it is a long, slow recovery, much harder than if you leave, as that draws a line in the sand, it’s over. I regularly get “stuck” – I’m pretty sick of that and have decided to try one new counselling phase, with a new counsellor, an advocate of the “Crucible Approach, more commonly known as “Passionate Marriage.” I am like Jill (attempted to do a high five, and say, you go girl, here!!) and LOVE feeling sexy and desirable, and LOVE the great sex we had, and I’m really struggling sexually now, all this time later, we get halfway through, and BAM, a really vivid picture of him doing that to her just freezes me solid.

      JS, stay strong, it will work out, even if it is on your own, it just takes so much time, time to try to heal, time to make sensible decisions through all the emotion.

    • Broken

      Jill…EXACTLY THE STAGES I FOLLOWED>
      First the discovery…that awful day that I remember minute to minute. The unbearable, unstoppable, excruiating pain of discovery that the one person in this world that I loved and trusted completely was lying to me and cheating on me for 18 months. The months of living life like I wasn’t even there. My mind protecting my body from the pain. Then the honeymoon phase…trying to have fun while dying inside. The many talks and the painful grief and longing for what i had lost and wanted desperately back again. The realization that it wasn’t coming back. The nights we talked in the garage and I cried and hurt and asked question after question. My mind crazy with images and why did you do this to me? Then when I thought I had it all together the regression. The anger and the neediness. The repulsiveness of my husband. Me faking how I felt to keep the piece when inside I hated him. Then the acceptance that my life will never be the same, that he willingly gave away the sanctity of our marriage to a stupid screwed up bitch that I can never get back. She has disappeared (thank goodness) and probably doesn’t even know or care that she destroyed my marriage. Today 13 months later I am in stage 4. Our relationship is definately different…in a way better but with a sense of loss for the innocense that once was. We rarely talk about the affair anymore…I dont feel the need. He continues to try very hard and hasn’t reverted back to his old behavior. Our marriage is more open and kind and we talk alot more. It is peaceful and at a place that it should have been before. Sometimes I even think it all happened for a reason. The part about even the slightest dishonesty being worse then before is true. Our marriage must be an open book. He is so much more aware of my needs and I his. I am slowly giving him back his own time and space allthough it isn’t easy because the trust still isn’t there. What lies ahead none of us know. I hope years of love and time. I do know one thing for sure…I will never go through this again. There will be no second chances. This whole thing almost killed me inside and out and I still am suffering physically. I love my husband….I realize we all make mistakes. We have memories and family and friends together that no one will ever replace. Good luck to all of you…be patient it takes along time and you need to experience every phase.

    • hotnmadinAZ

      i’m only 3 days post EA and i feel like i’m in stage 3 already!! i kicked him out the day i f found evidence and i immediately found resources to start healing. i still haven’t decided what to do about our marriage but i know i have to move on regardless. if we do work things out, i will demand he treats me better than ever before but i also want to help him achieve this.
      i think the stages and the time needed will vary for each person.

    • Paula

      hotnmadinAZ, you are so right, it does vary for each person, and not to put a dampener on your comment about being in stage 3, but that is probably unlikely. I found that in the beginning, probably about 6 months, I thought we were coping pretty damn well, considering. I think I kept racing through the “stages”, rationalizing, feeling better, then slumping again, and ended up caught in a cycle of good feelings followed by devastating bad. On the outside, I was doing well, my OH was in awe of my strength and love. The first counsellor I saw explained that I would feel better, then fall in a pit even deeper than the initial one, then get even better again, for a bit longer, then fall deeper again, even better, etc, for a while, and I thought he was completely mad, that there was no way I could feel worse than I did at the start, unfortunately, he was right. The human mind is a weird (and wonderful!) thing, and we have patterns of thought that are designed to protect us, but sometimes these same patterns can cause us great distress. That said, I know that it is easier and faster to recover from this betrayal when you separate. We separated three times, for a total period of nearly eight months, and the separation periods (we still had plenty of contact during these times, three kids still at home) were the periods of calm, and progress for me, but also of great sadness, and I decided that I was happier with him in my life than without him, and he has made huge, genuine efforts to help me, I could never have considered staying with him if he wasn’t willing to do the work, I’m worth it! I understand that if the “perpetrator” is around all the time, that triggers and ill-feelings are way more prolonged than if he is out of sight. The short answer to your question about throwing it in his face, is, you can’t really stop it to begin with, and you hate it, but he actually needs to fully feel your pain if the relationship is to survive. It does subside. I was pretty careful not to go too overboard, as much as I was able, but there were a few times where the emotions completely boiled over, thankfully this doesn’t happen anymore, but it took me a particularly long time to “get a handle” on myself. You are doing really well, keep researching, it helps. One thing I have learned is that in order to heal, we have to go through this ordeal carefully and thoroughly to ensure we don’t carry the baggage of the pain into our future too heavily, and if your H is unable to help you,and do the necessary work on himself, as you are on yourself, he will continue to make the same mistakes in his future, with you or without you.

    • Kristine

      I just read this again. Yep I’m in stage 4. Feels lovely 🙂

    • Notoverit

      I think, and hope, I am in the third stage of healing. I have those ups and downs a lot. Some days I think I am doing great, we are doing great, maybe this is going to work. Then wham here comes the anger, hurt and utter despair. The funny thing about it though is that those feelings don’t last as long as they did in the beginning. Right after D-day I could sit and obsess all day long and never grow tired of my anger. My psychologist made me sit every day for one hour (at the beginning – gradually decreasing by five minutes every week) and write down all my hurt and anger – whatever came to mind but I couldn’t do it the rest of the day. I had to tell myself that I had to wait until my “obsessing time.” I did this with enthusiasm for about three weeks then it began to wear on me. I didn’t want to sit and do this because it drained me. Now, I doubt I could go for 10 minutes without saying “okay, this is doing nothing for ME.” I am only saying this for those who think they are further along than they actually are. Maybe they should try this and see how long they can obsess. Of course I am not over this, hence the name, but I can’t spend as much time obsessing on this mess as I did before. Oh yeah, the hurt is still there but I seem to want to move passed it now. I don’t think I am in the fourth stage yet because the anger still surfaces, just not as intensely.

      As an aside, I had s REALLY big trigger for me this last week. I had lunch with an old friend whom I had not seen since before D-day. I hadn’t told her about the EA so she knew nothing about it. The first words out of her mouth were “I am talking and texting this great guy who really understands me!” Now, my friend is married to a nice man (34 years) and the OM is also married. I nearly fell out of my chair at the restaurant. I let her go on for a few minutes about how much better she feels when she’s “talking” to this guy then I hit her with what she was doing. I explained that this was an affair and that she was cheating on her husband. She utterly refused to believe it. I tried to explain how hurtful both their behaviors were and she shrugged me off. I left her sitting at the restaurant because I couldn’t stand it any more. Honestly, Doug, I witnessed the affair fog first hand and it was just as you have described it. Nothing I said would make her see what she was doing. I honestly don’t think she understood a word I said to her or for that matter she didn’t want to understand – she’s having too much fun. Just wanted to share. I went home completely demoralized and told my H. It threw me back a few steps. I wish someone could make the general pubic aware that this IS AN AFFAIR and that you are destroying lives in the process.

      • Holding On

        Notoverit,

        I like the idea of the obsessive writing and having a specific time for that. That would have been helpful to me in the beginning. So did you make yourself keep writing till it got down to a specific time, or did you decide when you didn’t want to do that anymore?

        I don’t think I could write like that anymore…but on my bad days, it probably would be a good idea. Give myself an hour to write all those feelings out and then tell myself I was done for the day? Maybe that could have derailed my horrible day yesterday!

        Thanks for sharing. Sorry about the trigger with the old friend. That would have been very painful to hear her excitement from the other side of it. Did you end up telling her about your H’s EA also?

    • Upsanddowns

      Feeling down tonight. Can’t exactly put my finger on it but I think I experienced a trigger and now I’m feeling a bit sad.

    • InTrouble

      Moral of the story: Never confuse make-up sex with an intact marriage.

      As a (reformed) CS I will warn you all that it is VERY VERY hard to let that other person go. Even if you don’t really love them, and you know you risk Everything, and you understand what you are doing is totally and completely wrong, etc. Doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but these affairs don’t happen easily and they don’t end easily either.

      Quite honestly if my husband had a physical affair I would leave him and that would be the end of it. An emotional affair would be trickier for me to figure out. I am just seeing it from the other side.

    • Alone

      I agree with InTrouble, I am also a cheating spouse. Honestly, all the tears and sadness that I showed at first, and a lot since then, this is wrong I know, but they weren’t all for what I had done… I was also crying because I lost this other relationship… it is VERY hard to let the other person go. Even though it is a wrong relationship and you know it is wrong and want to do the right thing, you can’t help but feel a loss. I will probably get ripped up for this post but it is totally 100% honest. It’s not that I don’t feel remorse, I do, and want to to do the right thing. It’s just my heart is somewhere else, with someone else. I think the only way we can heal is for the cheaters to get past this other person first. Then you can start healing and perhaps your spouse can genuinely forgive you.

      • Healing Mark

        Alone. No reason for anyone to rip you. My wife felt very similar. We would not still be together if she was still acting like she did during her EA. We were only able to correct some newly created problems in our marriage (exacerbated by the EA) once my wife and her AP ended the EA and my wife worked with me and briefly with a marriage counsellor to get back to our “happy place”. But I will say that it is hard (at least for me) to feel sorry for a CS who is mourning the loss of a relationship that has no doubt been damaging to the marital relationship. Also, had a CS not allowed their relationship with the person other than their partner to blossom into an EA, and most certainly if the CS had not chosen to sleep with their AP if that is the case, then there would not have been anything to “lose”. At least for me, my heart does not travel by itself. I must give it to someone, and I choose not to give it to any female other than my wife!

        • Holding On

          Healing Mark, those last two sentences make me want to cheer.

          “At least for me, my heart does not travel by itself. I must give it to someone, and I choose not to give it to any female other than my wife!”

          I hope we all have better realizations of what the boundaries MUST be in a committed marriage relationship.

          • Healing Mark

            I’m glad. I thought about what I had posted after I posted and was a little worried that Alone might take what I was saying the wrong way. Alone said that her heart was somewhere else, with someone else. I guess what I was trying to say is that, while you probably cannot control who you may become attracted to, you should be able to control whether you choose to act on that attraction, pursue a relationship with that person, and ultimately “give your heart” to them. I think we can all see the hurt and damage that typically results when one person in a committed relationship chooses to “give their heart” to a person of the opposite sex.

            To me, it’s all about boundaries. If my wife and I decided at some point in time that it will be ok if either of us during our marriage become emotionally invested with a person of the opposite sex, and perhaps also decide that it will be ok if either of us becomes sexually intimate with another person, then, of course, it will not be “cheating” if thereafter either me or my wife has an EA or a PA. What’s f _ _ ck’ed up is that most people who marry do so with an expectation that they will be the only person of the opposite sex that their spouse will be emotionally and physically intimate with and, notwithstanding this expectation, their spouse later becomes physically and/or emotionally intimate with a person of the opposite sex. We trust our spouse to act in such a way that this expectation is not shattered. And when the do not act this way and instead establish what is an inappropriate relationship given the established boundaries of the marital relationship, and no doubt then try to hide it and likely have to lie about it to their betrayed spouse, the resulting breach of trust hurts and potentially damages the marital relationship irreparably. Nevertheless, so may married men and woman chose to breach this marital trust notwithstanding the consequences. And for what?

            Vent over.

            Healing Mark

    • Lynne

      Alone-

      First, thanks for your honesty about this–it is refreshing to see that SOME CS’s do have this capacity. Secondly, take everything you are feeling and experiencing in the area of loss, and then multiply it times “100 times +” for your H. In other words, you got far more out of the deal than he did!

      Lastly, I am curious as to whether you have been this honest with your husband. Does he know why the tears and sorrow….that it’s the loss of the OM that’s causing your pain and distress? If not, it sounds like you have a lot more to be honest about!

    • Limbo

      Is anyone in a marriage ,post EA ,where their spouse is still confused and doesn’t know what he/she wants, but knows they don’t want to leave?? I am 6 mo post EA and it’s been a roller coster ride…Stage 1 over..now in limbo. I asked him to leave beginning of July, 2 days later, he said he wanted to work on us. That only lasted a good 2-3 weeks….never wants to talk about it (EA), but doesn’t know what he wants…I’m trying to hold on…there’s no initiatin on his part, but he is responsive to what I offer. Is anyone in this limbo mess as well??

    • InTrouble

      Alone — I can not describe to you what a chord you strike. Maybe it’s something you just can’t even fathom until you’re in it. I don’t think I’ll ever be completely free of the whole thing. 🙁

    • InTrouble

      Lynne – I know you didn’t ask me that question, but is it ok for me to comment on it? I have never told my H that I still think about OM frequently, or that I miss him quite a bit. (Let me make clear all that my obsessing is not about how in love I am with OM, because I’m not. It’s about a lot of stuff.) My husband has also never asked. I don’t see what good it does to talk about it with him. (My therapist is on board with this too., if that matters.) But I think in a general way people need to recognize that real emotions are involved in these affairs, and emotions can’t always be neatly tucked away just because you know they are wrong.

      • Healing Mark

        I think the more correct statement is that you can’t EASILY tuck away emotions and feelings because they are wrong. It seems to me that the problem is that a person allows themself to become so emotionally invested/close to this other person that to give up the wonderful feelings you have as a result of the affair will result in pain and sorrow and grief. It’s difficult for someone to do something they believe will cause the pain and sorrow and grief.

        On the other hand (and I have done this twice during my marriage and it wasn’t hard at all, but it also wasn’t any fun either), if once you begin to feel attracted to another person and feel the desire to get to know them better you simply STOPPED interacting with this person in any sort of inappropriate ways. No sharing stories of problems with your marriage. No flirting. No excessive emailing, texting or calling (really, do you need to talk with this person assuming that your conversations are not work related?). No behaviours other than those that you are very confident that you and your spouse would be comfortable with if your spouse was there at your side at the time. As I alluded to above, I did not enjoy breaking off any sort of relationship with the two women who pursued me and who I found myself attracted to (yes, I felt at least once each time that the woman might be my “soulmate”; barf!). But it was the right thing to do, and it prevented me from establishing a relationship that was going to damage my relationship with my wife and mother of my children.

    • Alone

      Healing Mark – thanks for your reply. I couldn’t agree more, had I not let this friendship grow into an EA, I could have saved everyone a lot of heart ache, myself included. I did not set the proper boundaries. Also, I am so happy for you that your marriage is back on track. You have a lot of good advice, thanks for sharing with me. It has been very helpful.

      Lynne – absolutely right my H has this much hurt + 100 times, maybe more. I can’t imagine what he must be going through. I’m not sure myself if I could handle him being unfaithful. It would hurt like hell. I want to do right by him, that is my goal. To make him happy again. Thank God he is still willing to work at this with me. I want us to get back on track and I don’t want to hurt him like this again. Honestly, I’m lucky he hasn’t kicked me to the curb (I was kicked out early on, but have been back for several months now). I don’t deserve him.

      Limbo – Honestly, what you describe with your husband, that is my situation right now. As the cheater, I want to move on with my H, but I’m having a hard time letting go of this other relationship. Actually, a very hard time. Why, I don’t know. I don’t want to hold on to it, it’s a dead end, not real… and I’m tired of the distance in my marriage. I am also responsive to my spouse, but not really taking the initiative. I need to do that so we can move forward. Problem is I am still working through the loss of this other relationship, as stupid and ridiculous as that sounds so I can’t commit fully to my marriage. I hope and pray I am not still “on the fence” 6 months out… but I might be, because this process is taking a lot longer than anticipated. And if I am still on the fence in a couple more months, I will probably be served divorce papers. I need a swift kick in the rear, and so does your husband. I am curious: do you feel distant from your husband, like he is withdrawn emotionally? You said he still doesn’t know what he wants, but doesn’t want to leave? That’s kind of me… I don’t want to leave and destroy my family, yet can’t let go of this other relationship. So when you get down to it, I want to be married but also have this EA. BUT I CAN’T HAVE THEM BOTH! I know that probably doesn’t make any sense…

      Quick note here: I know I am the cheater, the infidel, etc. But I just want to share what is going on in my head in order to help others. I know some of you might think I am a mean and/or selfish person. I want you to know, I know what I did was wrong. And I wouldn’t cheat again. I just can’t seem to let go of this “other” relationship, and want to share what I am thinking so maybe others can understand what’s going on in their marriages as well. I honestly never thought I would be writing a post like this, and certainly never thought I would have an EA. Thank goodness mine was not full blown PA. So please know that I am fully aware my actions are WRONG. But I am really working to get them RIGHT.

      • Healing Mark

        Alone, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. My wife also had a hard time limiting her contact with her AP after they chose to end their EA. The thought of no contact at all was quite painful and ultimately one that my wife agreed to until such time as I was comfortable with them interacting within our agreed upon boundaries with respect to relationships with persons of the opposite sex. It still drives me a bit crazy that my wife just can’t drop this person out of our lives. It’s not like we don’t have plenty of other friends. But she really cares for this man and his family now that the two of them grew so close in such a short amount of time.

        My wife found individual and joint marriage counselling to be very helpful in getting her to let go of the EA (I didn’t know for a fact that she was having one then but had some pretty strong suspicions) and commit to me and our marriage. Some of the things that she was having met in the EA but not then in our marriage are now things that I meet. I don’t know much of what my wife and our counsellor discussed during their individual sessions, but ultimately my wife let go of her “I want my cake and to eat it too” desire and by “choosing” me, it was amazing how many “problems” we were experiencing during the EA simply went away. Also, once I accidentally discovered the existence of the then ended EA and insisted on no contact, my wife and I began to re-experience some of those “problems”. I don’t know if it would work for you or your husband, but perhaps if you could explain to him that you are choosing him but need to continue a relationship with your AP that does not cross any boundaries that you and your husband have or will agree to. You will be completely transparent and you will let him know the extent to which you communicate with this person. You will limit your contacts if in the future your husband feels that this is necessary for him or both of you to get past the affair. Finally, you can tell him that you believe that at some point in the future you will get over this admittedly crazy need to maintain a relationship with your AP, at which time no further contact (and certainly no very meaningful contact) will likely become the norm, but for right now you need to essentially ween yourself off of this person, much like you might be weened off of a drug that you had become addicted to.

        Just some thoughts. Good luck and God bless!

    • Limbo

      Alone, thanks for the post.. I do feel he is emotionally distant! He has been so brutally honest with me, it hurts! He still doesn’t kn if he sees us in the future.. It’s so hard to hear this!
      It’s good to hear your side & to hear that emotions just can’t be turned off like a faucet, my H has said this same thing to me. I think I can understand a little better.. However, it needs to be a conscious choice to let the (OP) go. It’s not real, but ur addicted to the way it makes u feel.. It’s like a drug. My H needs to come out of his fog & realize what he has in front of him..we may have lost each other in the chaos of raising our 2 boys, 10& 12, but we had a solid marriage or so I thought.I wish I can get to the point where he is willing to do more to work on this than just existing in the house! Not sure if that will ever happen.. I feel that if/when that should ever happen, that will be the tome for me to see if I can forgive & move on…

    • Alone

      Lynne –

      One more thing. I didn’t answer your question about my husband. My husband knows I am still hung up on this other relationship/person. In fact, he knows that I am struggling with it. We don’t talk about any thoughts or how I am feeling, but he can sense it, the distance. What a terrible, awful thing for your spouse to know. My husband is waiting for me to get past this and back to him. And that’s what I REALLY, REALLY want to do. I agree with InTrouble, you can’t just neatly tuck away emotions and feelings because they are wrong. Believe me, I wish I could. And maybe that is something that men who cheat are better at doing after the affair. Just my two cents worth. I’ll let someone else talk now!

    • InTrouble

      Alone – Again, what you describe is so familiar to me. What a mess. I too was (am?) involved with someone with whom I clearly have no future with. He is substantially younger than me, and his life is simply in a completely different place than mine. On top of that I am not in love with him at all.

      One difference: I find myself desperately wanting to be close to my husband. It’s as if I can forget about OM if my husband is very attentive. Of course that just adds to my guilt; not only did I hurt him and deceive him, but now I want him to help me heal too. 🙁

      I’m in such a bad spot right now…I was doing really well for the past 8 months of no contact. I knew he wouldn’t stay away though. I’m just surprised at how poorly prepared I am.

    • Limbo

      Alone.. Don’t go! I’d like to ask you a question.. Is your OP in the same town asyou? My H’s lives in another state! They met only one time…the rest of their communication was done thru texting& phone calls..why should this be so hard to let go of this fantasy??
      Can anyone offer advice??

    • Alone

      Hi HealingMark – as always, thanks for your suggestions. In my situation there is a 0% chance that I could have any contact with this OP. The affair was mostly emotional, but also had some physical components. Thanks goodness, not a full blown PA although looking back, it was headed that direction and in a hurry. If that had been the case, there is no doubt I would be divorced right now. As it stands, if I have ANY contact with this OP, it will be automatic divorce for me. That makes my H sound mean. He’s not mean, that’s how it MUST be for our marriage to survive. And I am 100% convinced that if we can get past this, we will have a much stronger marriage. It’s just a pretty hard road right now. And I’m the one making it hard.

      InTrouble – Couple of things. Sounds like our situation is very similar. Only problem is, I fell in love with this other person. Even my husband told me, a few days ago, I know you fell very much in love with HIM. I could write A LOT more about this, but this is not the right forum. If he contacts me, I do not know what I would do. I am too weak right now to handle it. How are you handling the contact your OM made with you? What did he want from you? I say the affair would be a dead end relationship because of the hurt it would cause everyone. The OP and I are actually at the same life stages, so that would not be an issue. However, the fall-out would be an issue and living with the guilt of what we would do to our families. Just like you, it helps a lot when my husband shows me lots of affection. Just like you, I have told my husband that it seems ridiculous he has to help ME heal… as if he has to do anything for me, ever again. I need to be the one comforting him, not the other way around. What a messed up situation. Before this happened, I never knew I could be this childish, selfish, and emotionally weak. It’s been a living hell, and it is very embarrassing for me to admit all of this to myself and my husband. Heck, it embarrassing to admit on this forum!

      Limbo – I was thinking about you a lot last night and praying for you. I’m sorry you have to deal with this, I hope that your husband will choose you and soon. To answer your question, my AP lives in my town and we saw each other nearly every day. Even if your husband was talking to this person just on the internet, if they formed a relationship he probably just misses that void this OP filled. For me, my husband can definitely fill the voids my AP filled, but for some reason it’s just not the same… maybe it’s because the OP had a different way of filling those voids than my husband. At this point, I honestly don’t know how to get my husband to fill those voids and a lot of days I just feel empty which makes me emotionally distant. That’s why I asked if he was acting emotionally withdrawn. He is probably just trying to figure out how to get those same feelings from the affair from your marriage, and he just doesn’t know how. He may even think he can never feel that way in your marriage. I’ve had some of those thoughts myself, so it’s kind of like a grieving process for me. I agree, your husband and I both have to choose to let this OP go and we need to focus on all of the wonderful things we have in our marriages. I just wish it could be as easy as an “ON” and “OFF” switch. That would sure make this a lot easier on everyone involved. And yes, I was absolutely addicted to this OP and we even told each other that. This really sucks for everyone involved.

      Sorry for the long post.

      • Holding On

        I know for a while there it was a little difficult listening to the CSes talk about giving up their APs. Yesterday was a sad/down day, maybe reading those comments played into it? Hard to hear, but there is benefits in it as well.

        Today seems like a better day for me.

        Alone,
        I really liked hearing what you shared to InTrouble. Mostly this:

        “Just like you, I have told my husband that it seems ridiculous he has to help ME heal… as if he has to do anything for me, ever again. I need to be the one comforting him, not the other way around. What a messed up situation. Before this happened, I never knew I could be this childish, selfish, and emotionally weak. It’s been a living hell, and it is very embarrassing for me to admit all of this to myself and my husband. Heck, it embarrassing to admit on this forum!”

        I really was filled with compassion for you in these words. Compassion that I can share with my husband. This brought to light a little bit of what my husband feels. (I’d love to have it in writing like this to reread often.) I’m sorry that you are dealing with the consequences of the actions you took. It does hurt everyone involved. My husband has said similar things like your “as if he has to do anything for me ever again.” There can be healing and forgiveness where it won’t seem like you are the “bad one” forever. Or at least it shouldn’t be that way.

        I also liked your admittance of “I never knew I could be this childish, selfish, and emotionally weak.” My husband has said things like that as well. He was weak. He did things he never thought he would do. He crossed lines he never would have crossed.

        I think the reason for the AP relationship never being the same as your H is because you fell into that “new love” phase with him. He raised those “feel good” feelings in you that isn’t the same as a steady marriage relationship. You are beyond that “new love” feeling with your husband. You have a steady, comfortable love. Plus with that “addicted” quality, unfortunately, it is hard for your husband to compare to that rush and feeling.

        But you can move forward and put all your efforts into your marriage and your husband. I’ll be praying for you and all of us, BS and CS that we can all move forward and recover. If that means repairing the marriage or moving forward solo, I hope we ALL can heal what has been broken through these choices.

      • Healing Mark

        Alone. I don’t think your husband is being mean. If my wife had still been in “love” with her AP I too would have insisted on a no contact policy. I would have also likely insisted on letting her AP’s wife know what was going on. Don’t get me wrong, my wife still has feelings for the AP, but she has become emotionally distant from him (and he from her) due to the fact that they are in contact so infrequently and briefly. She has told me on more than one occasion that she recognized that she had become infatuated with this person, and become a closer friend with him than any other men (me excluded) due to the fact that they spent so much time talking and texting. What still weirds me out is that these two otherwise great people chose to increase significantly the amount of time our families socialized together during the time that the EA was occurring. Huge red flag and that and other things increased my suspicions that something bad was happening. But I trusted my wife implicitly and could not believe that she would act so inappropriately with another man and consistently lie to me about it and other things related to her relationship with him.

        Good luck trying to get the feelings you have gotten from the affair from your marriage. How can you even expect this? Those feelings are the “high” you no doubt got when you first fell in love with your husband. The newness, the surprises, the no doubt over the top expressions of affection, not to mention the fact that the affair relationship has none of the “stresses” that a marital relationship inevitably has, especially where children are involved. Of course the affair makes you feel great and special, and apparently becomes addictive, and the only catch is how you handle the fact that what you are doing is morally wrong and damaging to you and your family. My wife and her AP claim, and I tend to believe them especially due to objective evidence that they had way, way ramped down their interactions with each other after they claim to have ended the EA, that for a time they were each blinded to the fact that what they were doing was wrong and damaging, and that as soon as they sensed that they were becoming too close of friends and that their relationship was causing problems with their respective spouses, they mutually agreed to end what they only now reluctantly deem to be an EA. They also said that what in particular snapped them out of the “fog” was when they began to contemplate becoming sexually intimate, at which time they were able to think that what they were having was, in fact, an affair (after all, they both thought you could only have an affair if you had sex with another person, and neither wanted to have an affair when it came down to it).

        I don’t believe I’ve seen any information dealing with how you fall out of love with someone. It seems to me that this must be a very hard thing to do unless the person you love does things to you to cause you to lose that love. Just a thought, but rather than attempting to fall out of love with the OM, is there any way that you can change your feelings to the kind of love you would have for a best/close friend? I realize that the sexual dynamic makes this hard. Anyway, good luck with everything.

        Healing Mark

      • Holding On

        I think in the book “His Needs, Her Needs” it talks about never getting over that love to your AP. I don’t have the book with me, but from what I remember, you have to accept that those feelings might never go away for that person, but you can love your spouse and move forward and have a good relationship there. I think that is why NC is pretty vital. Time apart must help.

        I think just accepting that those feelings might never go completely away would in itself be a little freeing, as you don’t constantly fight with your mind/heart when you feel that way. It’s like the BS trying to fight against triggers/memories/feelings. I have felt so much better when I can just accept that I WILL think/feel/remember and try to work through that time accepting that and letting it come and eventually go than trying to MAKE myself not think or tell myself I shouldn’t feel angry/sad anymore. And then with time, those feelings/thoughts will lessen. Of course, there is accepting feelings versus wallowing and actively obsessing, etc.

      • limbo

        Alone~thanks for some insight as to what is going on inside my H’s head..I know everyone is different, but it could be the same way he is thinking right now. I’m not sure what you meant when you said, it is like a “grieving” process…not sure which part you are grieving..your marriage or the OP? My therapist said that my H wants the family, not the marriage & that I should start grieving it…I am still holding on to some hope that this will turn around at some point. There hasn’t been contact with the OP, however she did send him a text which he didn’t answer. He told me that he had no intention of answering it and that he was getting a little pissed that she contacted him. When I asked why, he said it was because he asked her not to contact him. I believe this is a game to her (OP), she was/is very unhappy in her marriage & was (and probably still is) contacting all her x-boyfriends..even when she first met my H..and during their 2 wks of texting she was searching for someone…sad! Does your H go to therapy?? I can’t get mine to go:( when did you “fog” begin to lift?

    • Alone

      Holding on – I’m genuinely sorry if what I posted upset and made you sad yesterday. I will be a lot more mindful about what I post as a CS. I certainly don’t want to cause you or anyone here more pain and suffering.

      Healing Mark – As always good advice. You are right, the infatuation or “high” in an affair is not real or sustainable. What I actually meant what that sometimes an AP fills certain needs. The goal is to have your spouse fill those needs instead of the AP. When those needs get met, then your marriage can be strong again. It is very similar to what is suggested in the book His Needs, Her Needs. My therapist also said to look at it like that as well, that I needed to communicate my needs to my husband instead of having those needs met outside of my marriage. And my H has needs to that I need to work fill as well. I hope that makes a little more sense. The infatuation phase is not real. I know that. I don’t want you thinking I was still very deep in “the fog”. I mean, yes I’m still in the fog, but I am starting to get the big picture. Don’t give up on my yet!

      Thanks. : )

      • Healing Mark

        Alone. No giving up! I promise. Your descriptions of what you are feeling and what actions you and your husband are needing to take to assist in getting past your EA are quite insightful to me and hopefully helpful to one or more of the readers. And if I had to bet right now on what will ultimately happen with your marriage, I would bet that you will get over this person and re-connect (or just connect more) with your husband and that you will be in such a better place once your husband is able to genuinely forgive you for your mistakes and hurtful actions and feelings.

        One thing though. It would be quite extraordinary, I think, if your husband was able to fulfill all of your “needs”. I think I do a pretty good job with my wife, but I can’t possibly meet every one of her needs, and it seems to me that most if not all women are going to have needs that no man would be able to fill. That said, if there are needs that my wife is not having satisfied and they are ones that I potentially could satisfy, we are now both in agreement that not only will my wife bring these to my attention instead of bitching to others about it, but she will never again go to another man without my knowledge in order to have them satisfied.

        Hang in there! I’m rooting hard for you and your husband.

    • Alone

      Hi Limbo – Sorry I haven’t posted in a few days to answer you. I had a bad run here.

      Anyway, about your grieving question – sad to say that I was grieving the OP. But now I am starting to grieve what I’ve lost in my marriage at my own hands, because of my own actions. I’m sorry to hear that your therapist says you need to start grieving your marriage… I am still hopeful for you!

      My husband has gone to therapy, but just a couple of times. I don’t think it helped him much. He is a strong and self sufficient person. However, we are going to start couples counseling very soon and I am happy about that.

      About the fog… it’s been about 4 months. The fog hasn’t totally lifted yet… but it’s happening. I wish I could say it has totally lifted. I guess this just takes time.

      Praying for you. Feel terrible for all of these messes we cheaters create. Hope your situation is getting better.

    • Jewel

      Limbo
      Is anyone in a marriage ,post EA ,where their spouse is still confused and doesn’t know what he/she wants, but knows they don’t want to leave?? I am 6 mo post EA and it’s been a roller coster ride…Stage 1 over..now in limbo. I asked him to leave beginning of July, 2 days later, he said he wanted to work on us. That only lasted a good 2-3 weeks….never wants to talk about it (EA), but doesn’t know what he wants…I’m trying to hold on…there’s no initiatin on his part, but he is responsive to what I offer. Is anyone in this limbo mess as well??

      This is a really hard place to be. I do understand. I get ‘i don’t know where I am, how can I know where WE are?’. He wants to stay, he wants to work on us “but i will be hard”. I get these kinds of comments with no backup. I get NO discussion about the affair, like it is a non-issue. I am trying to be patient. He’s going to counselling, and we will start couples counselling after he’s had “some time to deal with his stuff”. Until then, i am looking after myself, working on being fabulous and have accepted that I have no control over him. If he comes to me one day and says i’m not ‘the one’ then the loss will truly be his. I am even beginning to believe this! 🙂 Stay strong, be your own best friend….

    • Shocked

      Don’t know which stage I’m in. I just know that I feel hurt and today something as simple as making breakfast made me cry. I think about all the lies and the things he told her and I feel so betrayed. I feel like my H has lost his mind and his self. I can’t really understand what happened. My H was the type of man that did everything with his family. We went to all different events together, made time to hang out apart from the kids and liked spending time together even after all theese years of marriage (11yrs & 4 kids later) He still tells me he likes to spend time with me and he loves me and wants to be with me but he also doesn’t want to answer any questions about the EA.

      I feel its because he either is still in contact with her or he is embrassed with his behavior toward another woman. He says he does not contact her any more but she is a co-worker so I’ll never know for sure. He has lunch in his car and talks to me during lunch for about a half and hour so I know he isn’t going to lunch with her. I’m still worried because he refuses to discuss the EA, wants to sweep it under the rug. he makes comments about me telling a male friend of the family he respected about his EA and says that he does not return his calls because of me. I reached out to this man to get help I figured if my H respected him and I admire the way he treated his own W maybe my H could hopefully find someone else to talk to instead of this OW.

      Like I said I don’t know what stage I’m at.
      I just know that I can’t seem to get the images of all the imtimate things they might have said to each other out of my head.

      I love my H and I want to make this work. I spoke to him about taking the kids and moving out because I felt like this is killing me. I hurst so bad to think that he desires another woman so much that he would risk his family and what was a happy home for her. He insisted that he had no feelings for this woman but it took him 5 attempts at NC for him to finally say its not worth it to loose his family. He also admitted to me that if I didn’t step in he probably would have still kept calling and texting her.

      I don’t think he has gotten to the (I love you and miss you stage) with the EA yet. I thnk it was just flirting and sexual text messages but since he wont talk about it how can I be sure.

      I have read other post and I know this is going to take a while but it’s so much harder when you don’t know for sure what your H is doing on a daily bases and I have heard that you just go back to how you treated him before this because you didn’t know then either but I don’t think there is any going back.

      Is there any way you can talk about may be how to get the CS to open up or at what stage do they feel comfortable enough with their W to open up. I think that may be he feels like if he told me I would look at him differently but Unfortuanelty I am on e of those people who need details. I feel like if it’s over and you really want to stay with me you would do what ever it takes to help me heal.

      So I’m stuck HERE, where ever HERE is……

      • Holding On

        Shocked,

        My husband didn’t want to talk about it and in the beginning I would try so hard to not, because he told me it would bring him pain and disgust and shame. But it was so difficult. I needed to talk about it. I needed information and questions answered. He, at the time, didn’t see how this was moving us forward. He was willing to give me details and information, because I guess I finally convinced him? Or he got tired of fighting? I think this is a great link: http://www.dearpeggy.com/2-affairs/com023.html I also told him it isn’t HIS thing, this is OUR thing now.

        We started therapy about 2 mos. in and for the few weeks before we started, I just kept saying, “We’ll ask the therapist about this…whatever she says…she’s the expert. If she says it’s not helpful to talk, we won’t talk.”

        And the therapist quoted to us that some women need to discuss this multiple times. I think she said like 70 or 100 or something. It is like a wound, that he would rather have bandaged up and not looked at and hope it gets better on its own. In reality, that “wound” needs to be looked at, “cleaned out,” and attended to. Then after a while it needs to be uncovered again and tended to again, till that “wound” gets lessened and lessened. She said that women need to bring up their feelings and talk about them with the husband listening and sympathizing with any feelings shared and apologizing for those hurts when appropriate.

        Maybe counseling would be beneficial? I know it really helped my husband to start opening up when the “expert” told him this is what needed to happen.

        We’ve talked a lot about my feelings about the EA and really delved into everything that comes to my mind frequently that I worry about and that cause my mind and heart big pains. I was able to share those and he was able to summarize and share what I shared back and I really was able to felt heard and understood. Very good feeling.

        Now…I had such a good feeling a few weeks ago (I wrote at the beginning of this post…), but it only lasted 5 days before I was back in the stinks. There have been good and bad days but I have been taking it one day at a time and trying to enjoy those good days and not go too crazy on my bad days. Bad days have lots of anger, usually not about the EA, but it is probably related. I need to figure out how to let go. I had such good feelings about that a few weeks ago, but I’m a little lost again. I have reached a point where the EA doesn’t enter my mind all day long. It is usually there at some point, but it hasn’t taken over my day/mind. In my good times, it was a few days of not really even thinking about it, and when I did it was just “that happened” kind of thing.

        This weekend was hard. H was out of town. I was lonely and lots of thoughts came back hard. I had a “I’m sick of this ride. I want this feeling to end.” kind of weekend.

        • michael

          Holding on,
          Thank you so much for that link. It puts into words, that which I have been unable to say in such a way.

    • karen - 1 1/2 years

      Have a question about Phase 4 – working on rebuilding trust one day at a time. I’m starting to think I’m (the BS) is the one who is making it go slower than necessary. I am a recovering co-dependent, and I am finding myself often filled with overwhelming regret over the last 12 years of my marriage. I know I can’t go back and do it over, and I also know I absolutely thought I was being a wonderful wife, mother, and woman, so my motives were good, but even 12 years ago when I knew something wasn’t quite right in my marriage, I didn’t chain my husband down and get to the bottom of it. I just glossed over it as too busy with kids, business, commitments, etc. Hence, the regret. It is sometimes very difficult to move forward in my reinvented marriage as the regret overwhelms my desire to live the “changed woman” life I have learned from this website and all its resources. I feel like a camel with infinite humps – one week up, the next week down. I don’t blame myself at all for my CS’s 2 year EA, and I have completely forgiven both my CS and his OW, but now I’m battling regret. Go figure. Taking all the steps necessary to rebuild trust just seems too daunting at this point. Makes me sad, but that’s where I am. Have a great weekend!! Take care of yourselves 🙂

    • Anita

      Karen 1 1/2 years,
      First of all your husband betrayed you and your marriage. If
      he wasn’t happy about your marriage before the affair,
      then he should of arranged for marriage counseling not an affair.
      If you believed you were a wonderful wife, mother, and woman, then don’t let his inappropriate behavior steal that from you.
      His affair was his inappropriate behavior it has nothing to do with you. You shouldn’t regret who you were before his affair.
      The responibility falls on him, for his inappropriate actions and choices.
      From reading your post I get the feeling that you thought if you had done or did something different this would have prevented the affair from happening. Well now you can let that
      thought and feeling go. Why did your husband think that an
      affair would solve his problems? He chose that road and it was a wrong choice he made.
      Now you can stand up for yourself, you were the one behaving
      appropriately in your marriage. His affair was a lack of growth on his part, and his behavior was a demonstrated of that.
      You are not responsible for his lack of internal growth. If
      he had been mature in that area he would have said lets get some counseling or I need some couseling, to grow with our
      marriage . By him running to another woman, it showed he
      lacked a understanding of marriage.

    • Anita

      Karen 1 1/2 years,
      The only thing you can do is own the part of your wrong doing,
      and forgive yourself.
      However your husbands affair is something he gets to own.
      Your wanting to trust that he won’t fall into that behavior again, unfortunately you do not get to control that
      part of him. This is where his own self growth is important, so he will not allow himself not return back to the former path he took.

      • Karen 1 1/2 year

        Anita:
        Thanks so much for the encouragement. I can tell from your posts you are a strong woman, and I love strong women!!! I too consider myself strong and have high self-esteem. I’m going to think further about whether I’ve completely forgiven myself – maybe I was too busy working on forgiving my H and the OW I didn’t completely forgive myself!!! Maybe that is preventing me from overcoming my feelings of regret and failure – I hate to fail!!! LOL. I’m going to inquire of my H tonight about his self-growth process and where he thinks he’s at . . . should be interesting. I’m sure the answer will be, “Fine.” Ggggrrrrr.

        • Anita

          Karen,
          Thank you!
          By me going through my own ordeal, I had to make some choices along the way. My faith grew, and gave me the strenght I needed, it was when I was at my weakest point,
          and didn’t know what to do next, I gave it all to God. By trusting God with my life, it changed me. I’m still a work in progress. I am not the same person I was a few years ago.
          Tonight for example, I was at the convience store buying some items. When they told me the total of the items, I payed for it, but on the way out of the store I realized they must have not charged me for one of the items. So I went to my car and looked at the receipt and sure enough I wasn’t charged for the most expensive item. A few years ago, I would have thought oh they messed up and I would drove away thinking I just got something for free. Well, I am not that person anymore, so instead what I did tonight was, I went back into the store and told clerk that they didn’t charge me for the item, the clerk thanked me for my honesty, and I payed for the item. On the way home I felt good about about making that choice. My point is I do not like the feeling of guilt, and I feel disapointed
          with myself when I know I deliberately do something that is wrong. I try to do what is right, but sometimes I fail, and I also have to forgive myself.
          I can only speak for myself here, but having lived through my exhusband’s affair. I rather be the betrayed spouse instead of the cheating spouse or the other woman. If I have guilt for not paying for an item that was over looked by the store clerk, I can’t imagine what the cheating spouse or the other woman’s guilt must be. At least by being the betrayed spouse we can forgive. I am divorced and forgave my exhusband and his affair partner. Their affair lasted about a year after our divorce. My ex has since remarried to someone he met later, I am happy for them.
          I forgave myself in the role I played, that may have contributed to the demise of my marriage. However it was my exhusbands ongoing affair that ended our marriage.
          God gave me the strenght to heal from that time in my life,
          and He has made me strong because of that.

    • cs

      First, thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts and feelings, I am new to this, just learned of the EA about a month ago, and it is so helpful to know I am not the only one! My husband reconnected with an old flame through FB about 18 months ago, started with a secret lunch meeting and went from there. Fortunately, she lives in another state, so there wasn’t an opportunity for physical contact very much. Long story short, by the time I found out it was a daily call, text, e-mail thing. We have been together well over 32 years (counting dating), did everything together, seemed very happy, so it was a shock. I’m still in the “shame” phase and haven’t told many people but those who know say “it wasn’t a real affair” and we are meant to be together so I should forgive and work on saving the relationship. He seems to have “given up” the OW, but based on what these “friends” are telling me, I am feeling like I am wrong for seeing this as devastating to our marriage…. Any thoughts?

      • Notoverit

        Your friends are WRONG! This is devastating to the marriage, to you and to your life! Read as much of these blogs and posts as you can without breaking down crying then come back and read some more. YOu will see how these EAs are very hard on a marriage. My suggestion is that you work on making yourself happy. You need to be strong for the things that are coming in the future. Just post on this blog and someone will have advice, especially about your feelings. Believe me, whatever you are feeling or will feel – we have all been through it. Good Luck!

      • Lynne

        There are many different definitions of what constitutes an affair. Perhaps your friends might look at it differently if they were on the receiving end of this situation. If your H is hiding interactions with an old flame going back 18 months, it suggests that he felt he had something to hide. Were it nothing at all, there would have been no reason to hide it. What is his explanation for why he was being deceptive about it?

        In my case, my H did the same thing for 5 years with a woman he had dated (one date) prior to meeting me–his explanation was that he was protecting me, as he thought it might upset me or make me jealous. I sooooo appreciate him deciding that for me (major sarcasm here!), particularly when I had never shown myself to be jealous about this woman before. But I guess he had to come up with some excuse and there weren’t many to choose from! Perhaps the real reason was, as he told me when I first met him and used her as his example, that “men are wired to want to sleep with woman they’re attracted to”.

        • Notoverit

          Don’t you just hate their stupid excuses? My H said he didn’t tell me about the innocent texting and calling because he knew I wouldn’t approve. Gee, you think? But he kept that line for a while, thinking it would help. Right, I told him that was the stupidest thing I had ever heard. He kept it a secret because he didn’t want me to STOP it. I wonder why they all think we are the stupid ones?

    • cs

      Notoverit…heard the SAME excuse..he knew I’d be mad (I had a feeling it was going on since it started and specifically told him NOT to bother with her)! What I’m being told now was he thought they were just friends talking and he realized it was “wrong” but nothing serious, then when he realized it was more he was supposedly “trying to end it” (BTW…that’s when I caught him). It’s about 6 weeks since D-Day and it’s only because I keep making him read what I’ve seen here and other places that he even acknowledges that it was an EA. I see from your other posts you’ve been married about 30 years (same as me). I just stumbled on this site yesterday and am so thankful! May I ask, had your H done this before? How do you deal with the fact that 30 plus years of history has come to this?

    • jewel

      Does anyone else feel like they are not sure they even want to be with their CS anymore? Somedays I really wonder if it’s “too much damage done”. And we JUST started to make headway to what I feel like real healing. Is this a natural part of this process? I do love him, but man, sometimes I just feel like i’m done. To add to my mix, my H suffers from PTSD, something we’ve dealt with for almost 20 years and a big factor his EA. I know i’m culpable for what i’ve contributed to this….I just really need to know if anybody else has felt this and it has ‘passed’ or if i should really reevaluate myself.

    • ifeelsodumb

      CS…I said the SAME thing to my H…when the OW sent him a friend request on FB, after seeing him again when he went home for a family event…I WARNED him about her….AND my H said the same thing your H did!! Just “friends”, “nothing serious”, “just someone to pass the time with”! TRIED to end it when he felt a little guilt!!! Wow..it IS a script that they follow!! A script filled with lies!

    • Chris

      Being the CS is very painful and hard but can be nothing in compare to what a BS goes through. I read a lot in these comments about how hard it is to get over the OP and being stuck in this “fog” for such a long time. Maybe it’s just me and maybe it’s because the EA was less than 2 months long, but have no desire to contact this OP again for any reason and there is no fog around me. I know what I did was so wrong and betrayed the trust am respect that my wife once had for me. To think that I would even fathom doing anything like that, to cause so much pain and hurt is inconceivable to me. I am on a life mission now to fix this turmoil that I’ve created in our lives. I know it will be a long and difficult road but it’s a road that I must travel. As hard as it is for my wife to believe me, and I don’t blame her, I am being completely honest with her. I have a lot of communication issues so it is very difficult for me to initiate discussions and even difficult to participate aside from just answering her questions. I know I have to overcome this in order to move forward, but it is so damn hard! It feels good to be able read other peoples stories and be able to comment on them and get out some of what I’m feeling. Truly is a great site!

      • Ifeelsodumb

        Chris,
        My H say’s the same things…NO desire to ever talk to her or see her…I think it helps that it was a long distance EA also. And he also said that he didn’t feel like he was in “the fog” and honestly, it didn’t seem like it to me either!
        My H also had/has communication issues…and he is working on that, since THAT is what got him involved in the EA in the first place! He bottled everything up inside of him.

        The fact that you are on this blog, learning and researching is a good thing! My H will hardly read this blog, unless I put it right in front of him…and that’s a big disappointment for me, since this blog has helped me so much, and is part of me now. But he is doing other work on himself, so I’m happy with that.
        I wonder sometimes if reading how much pain a EA causes is more than he can handle, so that’s why he avoids it…but that also causes a problem for me…since our whole marriage he has run from anything that he deemed “unpleasant”. :/

        Anyway, on a different note…I’m definitely in stage 4…and it’s wonderful!! Thought I’d never get here!! It DOES get better over time, 14 months since Dday…but I’m of the FIRM opinion, if your CS isn’t do half the work, then you are in for a VERY long, long recovery!
        They HAVE to do the work, otherwise there is acceptance, but NOT healing!

    • Chris

      Ifeelsodumb-
      Thankf for the encouraging comments. I think it’s great what Doug and Linda are doing here. It gives everybody a chance to voice their opinions and help each other out. Being only a few days since Dday, I know it’s going to be a long long road. I’m glad to be out of the fog. I feel like when Dday happened it shook me out of that foggy dream like state and say to myself holy sh!t WTF have done?? It was like a switch was flipped and brought back to reality. Although it is a very painful and scary reality to be in right now, I have to face the hard roads ahead and come out a stronger person and husband on the other side. This site will probably get a lot of activity from me. Thanks again…

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