Not "Just Friends": Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity
Speak with your actions. Be transparent. Be present. Get off social media. If it was a messaging service and the messages can be hidden, it no longer exists in your life. Have an open phone policy... he gets all passwords.
Your husband is going to have to put a lot of work into this in order to for you to be able to start to heal from this. This is going to a really hard journey for you, and will require a shit ton of work on himself.
Here are two books that I recommend:
How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair: A Compact Manual for the Unfaithful by Linda J. McDonald
McDonald has 15 things he must start doing to help you feel safe and secure.
Waywards who want to rebuild the marriage:
• are non defensive
• examine their motives for their affairs, without blaming their spouses
• accept their roles as healers to their wounded partners
• do not resist breaking off all contact with the affair partner
• show genuine contrition and remorse for what they have done
• make amends and apologize to loved ones
• apologize often, especially the first two years
• listen with patience and validate their spouses’ pain
Sorry about that
Not Just Friends: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity by Dr. Shirley Glass PhD.
I am sorry you are dealing with this. Infidelity is hard even when the wayward is working hard to fix what happened.
Disclosure: I am a wayward. I was the cheater in my marriage.
First, you need take hold of these truths:
There is nothing you did. There is nothing you didn’t do. There is nothing you said. There is nothing you didn’t say that made your husband go out and have an affair. NOTHING. I know its hard to believe. But affairs have nothing to do with unmet needs.
It wasn’t the amount of sex he was getting, or not getting, not if it was the right kind, or the wrong kind. It wasn’t about the sex in the relationship.
There was nothing you could have done that would have stopped this, nothing that you didn’t do that would have stopped it.
Affairs happen because the wayward of internal mental and emotional issues with the wayward.
Affairs at their root are based in selfish, self centered entitlement. A lot of it had to do with my family of origin, I pretty much grew up in a fucked up alcoholic, drug addicted home.
However I can’t use my family of origin as an excuse for the affairs. Matter of fact I can’t use anything as an excuse.
When a wayward owns what they did they stop blaming people, places, or things, for the affair. When they accept that they can’t blame anyone but themselves they come to a place where they can begin to actually fix what is inside them that allowed them to believe that having an emotional or physical affair outside of their marriage or committed relationship was a healthy choice.
Healing from this is hugely one sided, and this isn’t on you. About 95% of the healing needs to be done by the wayward. The other 5% is the betrayed not murdering us as we continue to flail about trying to get this right.
I have come to the conclusion that very few people can heal from this by themselves. I believe it takes a good therapist, who has insights into the current research of what affairs do to the betrayed. If your spouse/SO isn’t in therapy at this point then I believe they need it. I would suggest that you interview therapists with your spouse/SO. He goes in and talks to them about what he is looking for, then you follow up and ask some very pointed questions on how they handle recovery from affairs.
Ask them what they believe the healing timeline for affair recovery is?
Ask them what they believe is the root of affairs
Ask them if they believe marriage issues lead to the affair
Ask them if they believe that perceived lack of sex led to the affair
Ask them what areas of work they would have the wayward work on in order to heal.
There are millions of questions, but what you want to find out which school of thought the are in. The forgive, forget, and and work on marriage issues (wrong answer) or that there is severe trauma on the part of the betrayed that the wayward needs to address.
Believe it or not bad therapists (and there are a lot of them out there) do a shit load of damage because of their lack of knowledge.
He also should be reading good books. I would suggest 2 as a start:
How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair by Linda McDonald:
90 pages long, short, and can be read in an evening. Don’t allow the excuse that he hates reading allow you to back down.
Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass
Longer, but really helpful. Goes into boundaries and why good boundaries help keep affairs at by, really great information on emotional affairs, and how they turn sexual. Talks about timelines and other
Huge warning Not Just Friends is hugely triggery for a BS who is early into this.
Finally he can’t 1/2 this thing. Healing from this requires 100% from the wayward. You can’t do this for a couple of weeks and think you have it done.
Its not going to tear you apart, it is tearing you apart.
Nothing you did or didn't do, said or didn't say didn't cause the affair. Affairs are a series of choices that are made by the wayward. At any time she could have come to you and told you what she was feeling. She didn't do it. While both of you have blame for the relationship issues, she gets 100% of the blame for having sex with another person.
Again you didn't hold a gun to her head and make her screw another person. So please stop taking on the blame for her shitty decisions.
Second, waywards minimize affairs. The things they tell betrayeds is almost if they are on script. There is an inside joke by betrayeds that there is some mythical cheaters handbook out there that each one is referencing when they give explanations of various things out of the affair.
Minimization runs along the lines of:
We only kissed
We had sex once but I couldn't finish because I felt so guilty
We had full on sex but it was protected
We didn't use protection
The numbers will increase as the truth comes out.
Each time you find out she is lying your wounds opens up again. Its as if she is pushing the knife back in.
The reason why this continues is that your fear of losing her is in control. However infidelity is not one of those things that just gets fixed in 2 months. Infidelity healing is 2-5 years and this requires the wayward to put a huge amount of effort into it. Matter of fact 95% of the work in on her shoulders. What you have allowed her to do is to take control, and that has to stop now.
Affairs aren't about needs, they are about selfishness. You were in the same relationship yet you didn't cheat. In order for you both to be able to heal and move on requires full disclosure of the affair you need to be able to process the full extent of what has happened. She is not allowing you to do that because of her minimization and trickle truth.
There are some good books out there that are geared toward waywards about what they need to do.
One of them is Linda J. McDonald's How To Help Your Spouse Heal from Your Affair"
She list 15 things that the wayward should embrace to heal the relationship:
• allow their spouses a lot of room to express their feelings
• respect the betrayed spouse’s timetable for recovering
• seek to assure spouses of their love and commitment to fidelity
• keep no secrets
• do not maintain close ties with those who condoned the affair
• are willing to be extremely accountable for their time and activities
• frequently check in with spouses as to how they are doing
• are aware of and anticipate triggers of the affair
• are willing to get rid of hurtful reminders of the affair
• don’t minimize the damage the affair had on the children
• commit themselves to a long-term plan for recovery, honesty, and spiritual growth
The next book I will recommend is this one - Not Just Friends - Dr. Shirley Glass Phd.
In the book she makes this point:
Most people, including unfaithful partners, think that talking about an affair with the betrayed partner will only create more upset, but that is actually the way to rebuild intimacy. Trying to recover without discussing the betrayal is like waxing a dirty floor.
While the book can trigger betrayed spouse, its such a good resources that I suggest that betrayeds try to push through it. She offers suggestions on helping with triggers, and dealing with issues in the affair. It was the book that helped me out the most. How To Help Your Spouse is a great beginners primer on getting started, but Glass' book is amazing and her insights are well thought out.
Hang in there and keep posting.
I am sorry that you are here. Infidelity sucks.
The only way through this is to go through. There are no shortcuts.
Try to move on without dealing with just pushes it under the surface and I can guarantee it will come back up at the worst of times. This is why rugsweeping (as we call it) doesn't work. It just pushes the anger down and it just permeates everything.
The good news is that you can get through this and there is a huge caveat on this. It requires your husband (your wayward) to put a shitload of work into figuring out just how he could come to the decision that an emotional and possibly physical relationship was a good and appropriate choice to make in any situation.
Nothing you did, said, thought, or didn't do, say, or thought made him have an affair. Affairs come about because choices. His choice to start talking to her about your relationship. His choice to start sending nudes and encouraging her to do so. He did have other better choices which would have been to talk to you about what was going on.
Now for the bad news - when there is an emotional affair where the affair partner is in close contact the chances that it didn't turn sexual are very low. With the emotional attachment, and the pictures being exchanged the sexual tension was being amped up. The only time that this isn't the case is when the betrayed discovers the affair before its gone physical.
Waywards lie and minimize, many times if given the chance waywards and their AP will collaborate on a story. This is part of them covering their asses. If they do admit to things usually it sounds like this:
We only held each other
we just kissed
we only had sex once, but I felt so guilty I couldn't finish
we tried to have sex but I felt so guilty I couldn't perform
there are a couple of books that I am going to recommend:
1) How to Help your Spouse Heal from your affair - Linda J. McDonald. This is short 90 page book that can be read in an evening. Its like the grade school primer for waywards, to show them the things they should be doing.
2) Not Just Friends - By Dr. Shirley Glass PhD - this book gets deeper into the subject of affairs, both emotional and physical affairs it also includes information on healing the affair. I will warn you that this book can be massively triggery for a betrayed spouse.
Look at his actions, not at what he says. Since because of the deception of the affair his words will really hold no meaning to you. This is why you should be looking at what he does. If he gets frustrated when you ask questions over and over, that is a sign that what you have is regret. Regret means he is sorry he has gotten caught.
You are in shock. Infidelity is a massive physical and mental trauma. Physically it drains you of energy. It throws your eating off, It can throw off sleep patterns. Physically you are being put through a ringer.
Mentally you are dealing with just trying to figure out WTF is real. The point before dday you had this timeline and foundation in your head of all the events of your relationship. Now that DDay has happened you now have a whole shitload of new information that you have to fit in and reconcile what has happened. The old timeline and the new information need to be reconciled so that what happened makes sense. This is why you will get very frustrated when your wayward says "I don't remember" or "I don't know what I was thinking" because this gives you nothing you can use to making sense out of this whole thing.
You will question him over and over about specific events. This is normal, this is your brains way of fitting in the information. Its checking to see if what you were told is actually the truth. Sometimes the wayward will slip up and something is new is revealed. In a perfect world every wayward would be a willing candidate for reconciliation. Unfortunately many of them really just want this whole shit storm to go away and you to quit thinking about it.
You probably have or will become familiar with the term trickle truth. This is where your wayward will tell you something, then claim you know everything, and then a bit later will reveal something else. My wife begged me to just rip the bandaid off. I wish I had done so. We would be further along than we are now.
I know this post is freaking long. Unfortunately there are no short answers to infidelity especially if you want to reconcile.
I am going to post Linda McDonalds 15 points from her book "How to Help Your Spouse Heal from Your Affair" These are the 15 actions she says are keys in helping you to heal from his actions:
Waywards who want to rebuild:
I am so sorry you are here. I hope you are able to find this post useful.
Healing from this shit is hard. The hardest things I have found is the betrayed wants to do all the work and the wayward tends to want to do nothing.
You need to understand that 95% of the work of healing this is on his shoulders. It takes more than empty promises and words to get this done.
His actions of deleting content are not surprising, its him covering his ass and lying to himself that he is "Protecting you" which it total and complete bullshit.
>Swears he used condoms every time.
I told my wife the same thing. He is minimizing the encounter.
>he told her to text him. Its the text that sat on phone screen and started the walls crumbling. Hed never done this before he says. I wonder.
Nope... it isn't.
>He confessed to having set up an AshleyMadison account, it lasted 4 hours before he took it down because he felt ashamed and stupid.
No... again a lie
You have a serial cheater on your hands. In order for him to be able to get himself out of this way of thing and living he is going to need to change a lot of things about himself. There was nothing in your marriage that caused this. Cheating is born in the mind of the cheater.
There are two books that I recommend for those who are just starting this shit. The first one is:
She explains why you need to know the details:
>The betrayed partner’s drive to hear about the inner life of the affair is more than just a desire to satisfy curiosity or uncover more lies. Knowing the true story behind a trauma is the only way the victim can stop obsessing and begin to heal.
Fill in the Missing Pieces
>Telling the story of the affair replaces a fictionalized account with the truth. It is totally shattering and disorienting to find out that intrigue and deceptiveness were going on while you were assuming everything was normal. That’s why both partners need to get out their calendars, discuss the receipts, and review the cell phone calls. Things won’t make sense to the betrayed partner until all the missing pieces are accounted for.
This book can trigger the betrayed spouse but I am convinced that the information she gives is worth it.
She lists 15 points and actions that the wayward needs to do in order help you heal. This is why I tell people that 95% of the work is on the wayward's shoulders. Not on the betrayed's
Healing timeline is 2-5 years, and this is if the cheater is doing all the right things. He still is lying to you and keeping secrets because he deleted the evidence.
I am sorry that you are here. Hang in there.
I think you are expecting too much from yourself... Infidelity isn't something that happens, and you forgive, forget and move on. No.. Infidelity is a physical, mental, and emotional trauma which requires the wayward to put in some pretty specific work to make you feel safe and secure.
Early on after dday my wife would text me and ask what the fuck I was doing at a McDonalds, or where I was when the find my iPhone couldn't determine my location. Because the infidelity had emptied her completely of any trust, she needed that iPhone app to make sure what I told her I was doing was actually what I was doing.
The call about the McDonalds was that I was working at a site, and needed lunch. I drove out to pick up lunch. When the iPhone showed that I was not in the location she thought I was supposed to be she called. What I had learned is that I couldn't be defensive over anything. I answered the phone and let her know I was picking up lunch and a drink from McDonalds and that afterwards I would be heading back to the work site. From that incident I learned that before I left to grab lunch, I needed to text her to let her know. Because of the trauma from infidelity which I put her through, when she couldn't locate me her head made up all sorts of scenarios.
One time I was at a 12 step group meeting. She called and I left group and called her back, she asked me where I was, and I told her I was at the church with the group. When I got back to my seat, I had a good friend who was in the program with me agree to take a selfie. I texted it to her. She knew the guy, and knew that I met him in the groups.
There were times that I would take a picture of where I was, and send it to her just to keep reassuring her that my actions were mirroring what i was telling her.
There are two books that were invaluable to me to help my wife through this healing:
I am going to give you Mcdonald’s list of 15 actions that a wayward spouse should be doing to help the betrayed feel safe in the relationship.
This book is 90 pages long, and it can be read in an evening by someone who reads quickly. For someone who is a slower reader it takes a weekend. if the wayward says its too hard to read, or takes too long to read it then it is showing you they think they don’t need to do much to help you heal. They need to understand that this work requires a shit ton of work on their part and they need to act. Promises don’t make it in this game.
This book is a much longer and deeper book, but it really digs into what the wayward needs to do in order to help you figure out what has happened. It talks about how actually speaking about the affair helps build trust. It talks about how the details of the affair help you piece together the missing history that you don’t have in your head. It talks about boundaries and how boundaries play a part in the beginning of the affair. While it can be hard to read by a betrayed spouse, the information contained is so good that It should be read.
In order for you to heal, he needs to be putting in actions and attitudes that show that he is changing himself, and because these changes backup what he tells you that you can start to win back safety and security in a relationship where all of that has been blown away.
What you are going through is normal in the aftermath of an affair. Its because all the anchors that kept you grounded and secure in the affair were ripped out by the very person who was supposed to have your back. He has to actively work on each and everyone of those things that anchored you in your safety and security, and rebuild them via actions. Once actions and words mirror each other, then and only then can you feel any safety and security to feel like you can even begin to trust again.
I am really sorry you are here. Hang in there.
I am so sorry you are here, I know you are in pain and this is one of the hardest things you will go through.
I have been on infidelity boards for over 4 years. I have seen all sorts of these posts. I want to point out a couple of things:
Did he offer you proof that he cut the connection? The fact that he had a connection with this person means they had prior contact. You need to know who she is, and how he knows her. Many waywards are not very forth coming with these type of details.
Affairs are an attack at the core and reality of a relationship. It empties the trust which the betrayed spouse had at the very beginning at the relationship to almost zero. You want to trust him, but you won't be able to. The trauma of infidelity is such that it blows apart your reality. I know it hurts to hear this, but it causes the betrayed to wonder who this person they married.
Healing from infidelity is hard. One of the hardest things that you will ever do, but the problem isn't you. The problem is him. In order for you to start to heal he is going to put some heavy work on himself and figure out why he could have allowed himself to do this.
The healing timeline for recovery from infidelity is from 2-5 years and depends on the actions of the wayward during this time.
You are in a difficult position at this point. You know of this one time. However there could be more that you don't know of. The girl who sent you a message may have been trying to force a break in a relationship between you and your husband in order for her to take advantage of the situation.
As I have said, I am sorry you are here. Here are a couple of good books that can help you and your spouse possibly navigate this.
There are two books that I recommend:
FYI readers. Shirley Glass wrote the great book Not Just Friends: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity
I like what you said and your rule of thumb. While I believe I really do have the character to not cheat, I know for a fact 100s of thousands thought the exact same thing. But it happened. They made dozens of bad, small decisions. I'm not naive enough to think it can't happen to me.
Lucky for me, I have no reason to ever be alone with a woman. I'm retired in my 50s. But as one commenter said, there is still texting and lots of ways to develop an EA without being physically with a lady.
The 'rule' was more of a reminder to think twice before being alone as sparks can happen. Like you said, pretend my wife is at my side.