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Anne Bercht, author
"My Husband's Affair Became the Best Thing That Happened to Me"

 
How Can I Believe My Unfaithful Spouse
is Telling Me the Truth .... This Time?

Dear Anne,

“I'm living in two worlds right now and can't stand it. Surviving Infidelity is the hardest thing I've ever endured. I am so happy and love my husband so much one-minute and then sometimes it's like a switch and the sadness takes over. I know what I have to do and that is take the leap of faith and trust and believe in my husband. But I did all that more than once and I'm not saying that in any kind of "feel sorry for me way" or "I've done it before, why should I do it again.” I'm saying it out of fear. As bad as learning of his affair was, the love and attention he showed me after telling me about it and telling me he wanted me, and then continuing in the Affair, shattered so much in me and what I believed about myself, my life, and people in general.

"During the false reconciliations, I gave my husband everything; heart, body and soul. I was intimate with him in every way and I believed he was the same with me.

"My husband tries, but sometimes he's not strong enough yet to hear or see my pain. Then I feel worse for hurting him again. I hate this circle.

"I feel like such a failure. I used to be able to handle anything, but this has changed me in so many ways. Some for the good, but a lot is not good.

"I want to get past my fears so that he and I can move on with the wonderful life that I can see ahead of us.

"It seems as if I've built a wall of granite around my heart. I am afraid of being hurt again.

My questions are:

"When I've already reconciled with my husband several times, only to discover he was still carrying on the affair and lying to me, how can I put my fears beside me and embrace his love today? How can I believe he is telling me the truth this time?"

“If my husband really did love me, how could he continue in his affair after professing remorse and commitment to me?”

“How, as a compassionate human being that loved his wife, could he see me crumbled on the floor crying, cry with me, express his remorse and then do it again, and not think of what it would do to me should I find out?”

His actions, during the rebuilding phase, are what I am having such a hard time with.

Answer:

Many factors play into each couples recovery. Every person is unique. Every marriage is unique. Every affair is unique. While we can find common patterns, both you and your husband bring in so much from your past and from the unique circumstances of the affair in your marriage that each couple must put together their own story of the affair/s.

Were you virgins when you got married?

Couples who were virgins when they got together often struggle more, because they had a cherished purity in their relationship that is the exception and not the rule. For these couples an affair adds additional loss, They can no longer say neither of us has ever been with anyone else.

When the dust settles others will often feel that it was the lies and deception in the end that hurt the most. When the emotions have subsided some may say, “well I can accept that they had sex with someone else, after all neither of us were virgins when we got married, but I cannot accept that he/she lied to me.

The worst thing the unfaithful spouse can do is …

To continue to lie when they claim to be telling the truth. In other words, one of the biggest setbacks that can occur for any couple trying to heal from an affair is after disclosure, when the unfaithful spouse goes back to their affair partner, and continues to lie about it, while in counseling and doing other things to reconcile. Many couples will not be able to recover from such a place. It makes sense that this added element of deception is the part that you are stuck on.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Healing from an Affair is not a journey for wimps. And if you feel like a wimp, you are going to end up becoming strong along the way. You are working on processing some very difficult things. It’s going to take some time. That’s okay. If you expect yourself to be healed and better at a certain point, then you reach that point and you’re not, and then you start beating yourself up over it, you’ll make matters worse. Give yourself a break.

Avoid extreme language – both to yourself and to your spouse

If you are the unfaithful spouse: please don’t say: “get over it.”

If you are the betrayed spouse: please don’t say: “How dare you!”

Different definitions of love:

We say we love our spouse. The unfaithful say they are “in love” with their affair partners. What does it mean to you when you say the words, “I love you.” Many unfaithful spouses say the words to the other person to keep the affair “high” going. The newness and illicitness of an affair can produce euphoric feelings much the same as drugs can. In this state one is likely to feel “in love.” When the newness wears off, or the affair becomes the primary relationship with kids, jobs, bills, in-laws, being sick, and being tired, those “in love” feelings disappear. Love is about attachment.

Some feel they love someone when they choose to stay with that person. Some feel they love someone when they spend time with them. So exactly what do you mean when you say you love your spouse? And what does your spouse mean when they say they love you?

Love is verb. It means we put the other above ourselves. We are thoughtful to that person. We keep promises to that person. We don’t hurt them. This certainly is part of the true meanings of love. An affair is not a loving action towards our spouse. An unloving action doesn’t equal not loving.

Some have spouses who stay – others have spouses that go.

If your spouse wants to stay with you that says something about their love for you. It says something about their commitment to the family. Many unfaithful spouses don’t make that decision. In this world, no one can hold you a prisoner in your marriage. Your spouse is free to leave if they want to. If they don’t want to, it counts for something. Look for what is good in your life. Look for what is good in your spouse.

Gender Differences

In order to understand love one has to set aside the perception that love can only be demonstrated one way, or that certain actions “prove” the absence of love. A man can be in an affair and still feel love for his wife. Women tend to struggle with this concept, because they are more likely to show loyalty only to one man at a time. Women try to understand their husband’s affairs through their own minds. This doesn’t work. If you want to really understand, you have to get into the mind of your husband, knowing he probably thinks different than you.

How could he/she do this to me?

The problem with this question is it implies intent that generally is not there. Generally a person does not wake up one morning and think, “I’d like to hurt my spouse. I think I’ll have an affair.” Instead they usually engage in compromising behavior that seems innocent at first. They slide across boundaries until it becomes too late. One unfaithful wife explained, “It was like getting caught up in the whirlpool of a toilet. I kept going around faster and faster, to the point that going down the drain became inevitable.”

Many affairs begin in the workplace or on facebook with one person expressing care towards another. What most people don’t understand is an affair starts long before the affair starts. Saying “no” needs to happen early in the relationship. Many believe they can maintain we’re-just-friends cross-gender relationships. Friendships that exclude your spouse are a problem.

Irrational thinking

The unfaithful lie not only to their spouses, but also to themselves. They think “no one will get hurt, no one will find out, no one will know, what I’m doing isn’t wrong, I can be friends with the other person, this won’t happen to me. Etc.” They behave like drug addicts. They need to detox before they start making sense.

The "thrill" of forbidden sex can be like a drug. Flattery and the pleasurable physical sensations feel good.

It’s hard to resist temptation, and that’s what this is. We start lying to ourselves in order to give ourselves permission. Have you ever needed to go on a diet, made a commitment to yourself that you weren’t going to eat chocolate … fully meant your promise to yourself, and then later, there you are in front of the chocolate saying things to yourself like: “one little piece won’t hurt, that was a dumb commitment, I’ll do it just tonight and then no more, I’ll make up for it by exercising more tomorrow etc. etc.” Okay so eating a piece of chocolate doesn’t hurt others the way an affair does, and it’s not a fair comparison, but this is what goes on.

One of the biggest problems with trying to understand why our spouse did what they did is that we are often trying to explain irrational behavior with rational thinking. We have a medical term for this. They are mentally ****** up!

How do you believe your husband again? How do you trust again?

He/She has to earn your trust through their changed behavior. If all they have to offer is words (promises), it’s probably not wise to trust them. There has to be something tangibly different than all the other times.

I trust my husband again today, because of his changed behavior: 1. Because of his openness in sharing with me. 2. Because of his improved communication skills. 3. Because he faced his own issues. 4. Because of the level of accountability he has created in his life. 5. Because we go through our own affair-prevention tool regularly, doing regular check ups on our relationship. 6. Because he did the hard work of listening to me tell the story of my hurt, and he patiently answered my questions.

Before you compare your unfaithful spouse to mine, and start pointing fingers, it would be wise to first focus on comparing yourself to me. Make sure you get the “log out of your own eye” first. Watch that your “punishing, critical or hurtful” words or tone are not preventing you from getting the compassion you need from your spouse.

Is Your Real Struggle that you don’t trust yourself?

When it comes down to it, it may be yourself that you do not trust. Do you trust yourself to make the right decisions? Do you trust yourself to discern when someone is not being true? Do you trust yourself to stand up for yourself?

Love is a risk

The only way to never be hurt again is to get a divorce and determine to live your life alone. For some this may be the right decision. But it means you must live without love.

The real solution is …

To grow in yourself so much so, that you know that even if your spouse did choose to hurt you again, that you would be okay, because your life and your existence is not wrapped up in their choices. You are confident in yourself. If your spouse is ever unfaithful again, you are clear on what you will do. No matter what, you know you will be okay. Your real answer lies in staring your fears in the face and moving beyond the fear. Weigh the risk vs. reward. If the odds are stacked in your favor, do what seems right to you in spite of your fear, and don’t look back.

Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s being afraid and doing it anyway.

 

Anne Bercht

 

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©Copyright 2012 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.

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