Affair healing Blog
Helen Tower is one of the people I follow on Twitter and am often encouraged by what she writes. Recently, she posted a letter she wrote to her "ex-unfaithful" husband. She gave permission to post it here, too. You can read the entire post on her Sailing Through Infidelity blog.
Dear ex-unfaithful husband,
I want to thank you for sticking with me during the trying times after I discovered your affair. I am so happy this is now in the past.
We went through periods during which I was willing to hurt myself just to hurt you, in a desperate attempt to soothe my pain. You never lost focus on your commitment to do whatever it took to save our marriage.
We usually expect our marriage to last a lifetime. What starts with promises of faithfulness and endurance, we believe, will survive any challenge "for better or for worse." Most marriages do; some even thrive. But many die in ways never anticipated.
When the death of a marriage is a mutual choice between two partners, grieving its loss may be a short-term process. The decision to end their relationship often follows a period of prolonged suffering, making divorce feel like relief. Similar to a funeral, partners make the appropriate arrangements, pay their final respects, bury the marriage, and move on with their lives.
But a marriage killed by betrayal is not so easily mourned.
I came across the recent photo of a full-chest tattoo on Jose, a man who seems desperate to prove how sorry he is for cheating on his wife. It's a kind of confession that can't be easily taken back. And why did he do it? "So that I can earn my wife's trust back for the pain and suffering I have caused in our marriage."
He confesses to being a liar, cheater, manipulator, deciever [sic], dishonest, disrespectful, and apparently one other descriptor deemed too inappropriate for public viewing.
At first thought, we might think: Wow! This guy is really serious about accepting responsibility and making things right. Maybe he is. But there are at least a couple problems with this dramatic declaration.
In my interview with Debi Silber (Recovery Room podcast #401), founder of the Post Betrayal Institute, Debi talked about different ways women move beyond betrayal. She made a distinction between those who experience resilience and those who experience transformation.
To illustrate her point, she gave this example:
Let's say a house needs a new boiler, paint job, and roof. You buy a new boiler, repaint it, and get a new roof. That's resilience.
But transformation is like this...
When a partner has been betrayed and carries the wound of an affair, they long for the spouse to feel their pain and accept responsibility for it. To do this, the unfaithful partner must be willing to move toward that hurt rather than away from it. But let's be honest: most of us aren't wired that way.
In the presence of such overwhelming suffering, often expressed in anger, the guilty husband or wife usually reacts in self-protective ways by either avoiding or attacking their spouse. When that fight-or-flight response is mixed with a strong desire to sidestep the shame of an affair, it's easy to understand why so many cheating spouses simply want to voice a confession and then move on to other matters.
Unless otherwise noted, articles are written by Tim Tedder, a licensed counselor and creator of this site and its resources.