Affair healing Blog
The Cost of Affair Repair
A word to those of you who've had an affair...
I met with a couple who were desperate to determine whether or not their marriage was salvageable. She had recently discovered evidence of repeated sexual communications with other women over the past year and suspected there might be more to the truth. While speaking privately with me, he admitted a history of unfaithfulness in previous relationships and expressed a desire to break this pattern once and for all. In the counseling session, he told her the same thing.
Her response was full of wisdom, expressed in a way that I'd never quite heard before. Here's how their conversation went.
Her: Was there something missing in our relationship? Was there some need I failed to meet that made you want to connect with these women?
She got it! She knew recovery would require his willingness to put up with a double pain: the letting go of the other women, and separation he would feel from his wife during her bouts of confusion, grief, and anger.
This is a fact that most betrayers fail to fully understand. There is a cost to repairing their marriage, and it is paid in sacrifice. The betrayer must be willing to go through a period of painful disconnect with their spouse until enough healing takes place to allow them to risk being vulnerable again.
If you are willing to fix your marriage after your affair, you cannot demand quick forgiveness or a rush to "get back to normal." You cannot manipulate your spouse by blaming them for the struggles your marriage experience. I am not suggesting that you have to accept the blame for every problem your marriage is going to face, but you do need to accept the blame for this problem.
Don't let the words, "You just need to get over it" come out of your mouth. Instead, let words like this be your sincere expression, "I know I am responsible for this hurt and I know it's going to take you time to heal. I want you to forgive me and love me without doubt again. I will help you get there. Tell me what you need from me."
If you do this, will it guarantee a satisfying reconnection? No, but in my experience it is rare for a spouse to refuse forgiveness to a partner who makes this kind of sacrifice. On the other hand, refusing to pay the price is certain to leave you with an unsatisfactory repair and a recovery that is incomplete.
You tend to get what you pay for.
1/3/2018 08:53:59 am
Thanks for this post. It is very insightful.
1/3/2018 10:13:08 am
1/3/2018 08:29:29 pm
There is no official time limit, but there does need to be a progression toward forgiveness and reconnection. From your description, I don't know if you're moving on pretty well (more connection, greater trust) but still experience occasional setbacks because of triggers -- which is very normal even at 18 months -- or if you feel stuck in your progression so that he begins to lose hope that he can ever have your heart again.
1/3/2018 10:47:50 am
I find this relatable. My affair, and really ten years of vulnerability leading up to it, had everything to do with emptiness and disconnection and listlessness. It is hard for some to learn real emotional intimacy and to accept the life that has been chosen and work to grow it.
1/4/2018 01:15:15 am
I been reading your post regarding affair. My husband had an emotional affair in the internet although he never met the woman. I don’t know if you call it infidelity or affair but 2 years ago my husband communicated to a woman 8 hours away. they email each other several times a day and the woman even said she is willing to move in closer to him and send half naked pictures in the 10 weeks they are communicating. On top of that, my husband had a flirtatious girl friend 23 year younger that even if the girl Knew me, she continued talking flirty to my husband using her troubled life to get the sympathy of my husband. My husband promised to stop communicating to both of them and he did good of being open to me in everything. Password and etc. But once in a while, my husband feels like he did not have an affair and that he was just helping this young troubled girl. It doesn’t make me feel good and doesn’t help me progress rather stop my progress and step back. He said that he loves me and that I should trust him because he will never flirt again. He is frustrated that I get triggers once in a while and he felt I don’t love and respect him. I feel like the only way I will completely heal is if he stop communicating to these 2 woman and avoid having female friends like I do avoid male friends to not make him feel jealous or feel bad. He said I should trust him that he is true to his words just like he trust me. I never did anything to be mistrust but he did but he seems frustrated with my reasoning.
1/4/2018 02:13:44 am
Asked my wife those questions last night. She said she is asking the Holy Spirit to fill her emptiness. She says she now knows that I or any AP can never fill that void. I suppose that's a good answer?
1/5/2018 01:21:05 pm
Yes, that is a good answer. The Holy Spirit is a powerful void filler. Add to that a healthy self-care regime (like Brene Brown style...) and learning to focus on gratitude, and she should be well on her way. :)
1/4/2018 11:27:12 am
Thanks for this message. My husband has been in an emotional and sexual affair with a young 25 year old girl . My husband is 56. He has emotionally hurt me. Ruined my self esteem by telling me how beautiful she is, how intelligent, funny and exciting she is to him. He tells me that I am more like a friend to him that. The attraction is not there anymore. He tells me that he hates his life. I reminded him that his life is a life made with me. He has said very mean things to me over and over again for over two years now. He yells at me bangs his head on the walls and threatens to leave or divorce me. He said he wants me to divorce him but I cannot because I truly love the man I married. I try to get him to remember our love and many good times but he gets more and more irate. Before this young girl my husband was the sweetest man in the world to me. He called me his princess, confidante and one true love. My husband and I did so much together, lived, laughed and loved. I simply do not understand He tells me it is not my fault that he messed things up. He tells me he is evil and covers his head with hoods and pillows. He left home twice on me. I asked him to please come home and he finally did telling me he only came home for Salem, who is our older sick kitty that he knows I cherish. He refused to wear his wedding ring or sleep in our bed. I told him. I am forgiving him but it will take a very long time to trust him again. After 26 months he tells me she has moved out of state and that should m make me h happy. After this he calls her when she texts. I noticed it on the phone bill and asked him about it and he called me a spy. He refuses to talk about her. He gets nasty, cusses and runs off and isolates.I am at my wits end. As of today I am suffering from aneck and head pain where he abruptly grabbed me and said okay I will hug you. He was being angry and childest and refused to talk about us. I do not trust him or her. Did she really move out of state. I used to be able to track their phone calls on the phone bill but since I mentioned to him I saw where he contacted her he refuses to call and talk to anyone on his phone. He say I will just call her or whoever I want on my work phone. I have told him for us to work on recovery. She must first be out of our lives. He just gets mad and immature acting. He recently has tried to sleep in our bed and wear his wedding ring around me since he told me how much he hates his life with me. Please give me insight on what to do. I just want my sweet husband back.my husband tells me he will never return.
1/10/2018 11:06:19 am
Did she get it though? I don't know that the void he was filling with the affairs were only fillable by toxic behaviours. I'm certain a very large part of my wife's affair is attributable to feelings of unfulfillment. The void that contributed to her decision to have an affair could have been filled with healthy behaviours. In fact, my ability to trust her in the future will be based more on seeing her engage in behaviours that are fulfilling such as healthy social engagement, contributing to community, engaging in hobbies and exercise etc. She can tell me she loves me and I am her everything all she wants, but if I see her living without meeting her needs for healthy meaningful connection and belongingness outside of our relationship, I will be on edge. I wish I could be her everything, but that's naive. No one person can meet all the needs of another. But standing in the way of them meeting those needs by asking them to sacrifice them, can certainly be a factor in someone being secretive about meeting their needs.
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Unless otherwise noted, articles are written by Tim Tedder, a licensed counselor and creator of this site and its resources.