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7 months out -- here's what I've learned

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DisappointedDude posted 4/18/2014 18:12 PM

I usually only visit this site when I'm feeling down and I want to read some stories from other people that are going through what I'm going through. Overall, this site has been a great resource for me -- a much better place to visit than any other. It is even better than talking to my one friend who knows about my situation or to a counselor. Sometimes it is even better than talking to my own wife. So...thank you all for that. You are an amazing community and you have had a huge impact on my life as well as countless others, I'm sure.

I'm feeling positive and happy today, and wanted to give back to the community that has helped me so much instead of just visiting when I'm down. So here are some of the things I've learned:

When it comes to R: fake it 'til you make it.

Everyone goes through kind of a "crazy" period in the first few months after DDay where they do things that are counter-productive. We all regret some of the things we did during that time. If your relationship survives that phase, then your next step is to figure out whether you want to reconcile or not. This is a tough decision because you'll have mixed emotions about your WS. Can you ever regain your love and trust for them? Let me answer that for you: YES! IF they are worth it. IF you loved them and trusted them before. IF at their core they are a good person that you respect and love. IF they are willing to earn you back and change their ways. If those things are true, then give yourself some time to make a decision (probably about 6-12 months). In the meantime, I believe that it is important for you to act as if you are working toward R. In other words, fake it 'till you make it.

One of the things I struggled with for a long time was whether I truly wanted to stay with my wife. I did my best to "fake it 'till I made it". I would always tell her that we were going to get through this and I would always stay positive; but inside I still didn't even know if I wanted to be with her. She made plenty of mistakes in the first few months, but then she finally started to "get it" and she worked hard after that to earn my forgiveness. I still haven't fully forgiven her yet, but I could see her working so hard to change everything about herself just to be with me. When our relationship reached a healthy enough point, she made amends via an apology letter and by setting up a special weekend away for the two of us. This was really the turning point for our relationship. I knew that I wanted to be with her after that. I had made the decision with certainty. Once I did that, the devil on my shoulder telling me to leave her disappeared. I made it over the hump. Since then, we have made constant, steady progress and I haven't looked back.

Accept the consequences of your decision.

If you do decide to reconcile, you must accept the consequences of that decision. Your WS did not force you to reconcile. You made the choice to get through this with them and to bear the hardships that come with it. By making this decision, you gave up the right to take vengeance. You gave up the right to tell all of their friends and family about their misdeeds. You cannot take any action that will damage your chances of reconciling with your partner. If you want to take those actions, then you are not in reconciliation. Make your decision and own it.

Maintain your integrity no matter what.

Facing the infidelity of your SO is a test of character like none other. You have to stand up for yourself, set expectations for your WS, and stick to them. You have to forgive both your WS and the OM/W whether or not you decide to reconcile. Perhaps most importantly, you have to resist the urge to take vengeance or punish. Don't stoop to their level. Don't "revenge cheat" or find ways to hurt your WS or the OM/W. Do not change who you are just to punish someone else. When it's all over, you will be proud of yourself for staying true to your principles and handling the situation with integrity regardless of whether you chose to reconcile or not.

EDIT: There seems to be some controversy about the part that says you "HAVE" to forgive your WS and the OM/W. This does not mean you let them off the hook. It does not mean that what they did is OK. It means that you are ready to move on and let it live in the past. It means that you will no longer give their behavior power over you or your relationship (or future relationships). HAVE to do this. It is for your own health. You can't reach true R or peace without it.

Love is just another emotion.

Some people may disagree with me on this one, but one of the most important lessons I've learned on my journey is that love is just another emotion. It is not some supernatural occurrence. You are not destined to be with one person your entire life. You cannot just love someone forever without maintaining it. Love fluctuates. People fall in and out of love all the time. Lovers betray each other all the time. If you want to keep your love for each other strong, then you have to work on it constantly. If you stop maintaining your relationship then it will fall apart. Think about it -- if your SO began ignoring you or consistently being a jerk to you, you would start considering other options, would you not? So don't make the mistake of thinking that love is going to shield you from betrayal. In many ways it does the opposite.

Make a list of things you need to accept.

This was some advice that I got from these forums and it has helped me tremendously. Throughout reconciliation and possibly for the rest of your life, you will have times when you are down. Sometimes you'll feel like you aren't making progress or that you're even moving backwards. It can be very discouraging. But there's good news! You can actually measure your progress and see that even when it FEELS like you aren't moving forward, you can VISUALLY SEE that you ARE moving forward and that you've come a long way since the day you first found out and you were a broken mess. All you have to do is make a list. Make a list of the things you need to accept before you can move on with your life. Revisit the list periodically and check off (don't remove) the things that you no longer struggle with. Sometimes you'll have to add new things to your list. Sometimes you'll even have to uncheck some things that you thought you were past but it turns out you aren't. That's OK. The point of the list is to see that you are actually checking things off and moving forward. It is sort of a progress bar for your reconciliation.

Allow yourself time to process everything.

Make no mistake: this will be with you for the rest of your life. The hard part will pass, but even that will take months and possibly years. When I first found out about my wife's infidelity, I thought I was a forgiving and strong person. I thought I would be over this by Christmas (I found out in September). What a ridiculous thought that was! I was in complete denial. I still have regular down days seven months later. You HAVE to give yourself time to process what happened and to grieve. Don't underestimate the gravity of the situation. Just look at other posters in these forums. Many of them have been struggling with it for several years. It is important to have appropriate expectations for getting past this or you will be pressured to get over it before you are ready.

Use this as an opportunity to fix the problems in your relationship.

Your WS cheated on you. Though the infidelity itself is completely the fault of your partner, it is important to realize that there may have been some serious problems with your relationship leading up to it. For my wife and I, it was communication. We were both conflict avoiders. We never aired our issues with each other, and it turns out that's even worse than fighting all the time. She had some problems that she did not discuss with me, she resented me for not reading her mind, and the rest is history. This was not my fault, but it is something that we can both be more aware of in the future. Spend time talking to your partner about your relationship. Read some marriage books together. Use the opportunity to grow!

It does get better.

It has been seven months for me and I still think about my wife's infidelity several times a day, but the pain is dulled. I am mostly a happy person at this point. I do have my down days, but only once every couple of weeks or so. They are getting farther apart. I realize that I will always have a "weak spot" when it comes to cheating. Any time I hear a song, see a movie, hear people talking about it, or even if I hear his name or see someone who sort of looks like him, it hurts a little bit inside. It is something I have to live with. But overall I love my wife very much and she has earned me back. I am happy to be with her. I have regained my motivation and ambition. I look forward to life, which is a stark contrast from 6 months ago. When you hear people say to "keep your chin up, it will get better" -- it isn't bull. It really does get better. There are plenty of people on these forums that are a testament to that.

Thanks for reading and good luck on your journey.

[This message edited by DisappointedDude at 11:18 PM, December 26th (Friday)]

LostJo posted 4/18/2014 18:55 PM

thank you so much, I needed that. I am happy for you, sounds like you are in a good place.

Take care

Teabelly posted 4/18/2014 19:26 PM

Many thanks DDude.

I'm only 3 months out, and at the very early stages where we are both trying to decide if we can be friends let alone anything else. This journey seems so hard and endless. So I have copied your points and pasted into my notes on my iPad as I know I'll want to reread it. Thank you,

littleflower posted 4/19/2014 01:17 AM

Awesome post

Thanks for sharing :)

LeftOutintheCold posted 4/19/2014 09:35 AM

Thanks for posting. It's nice to read something that offers some hope and it sounds like you've come a long way in 7 months. Congratulations!

Jamieeatsworld posted 4/19/2014 11:29 AM

Thank you for posting this. I'm only two months out. And it still hurts.

HowToLiveWithIt posted 4/19/2014 13:00 PM

Thanks for that great post, so uplifting, so somber realistic and positive, i needed it! Good luck, to us all !

confused615 posted 4/19/2014 13:54 PM

I disagree with a lot of this...but Im glad this way has worked for you.

Hurthalo posted 4/20/2014 08:23 AM

5 months out, and this is great.

On the 'using each other' trope, I comfort myself knowing that the OM never got the best of my W, he got the nasty, deluded part that was vulnerable enough to cheat, and the heights of their 'feelings' were really just both of them at their worst. Even if they got to have sex (they didn't), it would have been a shame-filled act...full of pity a d self-loathing.

My marriage will never be the same, but at least I can say I am 10 times the excuse for a man he purports himself to be. And my W knows it.

foundoutlater posted 4/20/2014 08:58 AM

I just want to share a couple things I learned. A waywards decision to cheat is not the fault of the BS or the relationship. This crap happens in all kinds of relationships (good and bad). Nothing a BS is or has done is the reason and nothing they say or do will fix the real problem - the waywards behavior.

I have not met a BS who did not start out internalizing the blame and shame. It is not true. If you were a POS spouse then to build a marriage you need to work on that. But it takes two to build a marriage and there is no question the wayward was a POS spouse who needs to work on that.

You may or may not have been a large problem in your Marriage but you were not the reason you were cheated on.

I believe the path through this crap is not linear for most and there are very few absolutes but this one I firmly believe - it is not your fault.

statistic posted 4/20/2014 11:34 AM

Thanks for the post DissapointedDude. I wish I was this wise at the beginning. I am also 7 months out and know that I need to reconcile or move one. We have been separated for 7 months ..and we have a 9 month old baby. I didn't move back home because he can be an angry WS. Talking about the affair turned into arguments instead of making me feel better.Once in a while he would say the right thing and reassure me, but that was rare. If we do pleasant things together like take the baby out or talk about mundane things, we are great. It's when I ruin the moment by bringing something up that still hurts.

I am curious as to how your wife was when you were going through a rough time or wanted to talk. How did she respond to you? Or did you mostly try to handle it on your own?

rachelc posted 4/20/2014 13:23 PM

Decide whether to reconcile or move on.

At two years out, I'm just starting to think about this. He has to prove himself first. How did you get to this so fast?

Also agree the BS has nothing to do with it. Not does ANY pre affair condition have anything to do with it. And we had a big one. But it doesn't matter. Adults need to own their shit, no matter how painful. You don't escape from life, you face it. And if you can't do this there are pretty dire consequences....

[This message edited by rachelc at 1:24 PM, April 20th (Sunday)]

lostinthesouth posted 4/20/2014 21:49 PM

@DisappointedDude--I'm around the same dday time frame (Sept) and I still have both feet out the door.

At two years out, I'm just starting to think about this. He has to prove himself first. How did you get to this so fast?

I'm more on this^^ timeline. I hope to be there someday, but looking more like years for me and even that is with wh doing everything he is suppose to. I admire people that can accept situations better than I do. Maybe that's what I need to be working on in my ic??

DisappointedDude posted 4/23/2014 02:05 AM

Thank you all for your replies. Apologies for my late response. It has been a busy weekend.

Regarding everyone who is talking about infidelity not being the BS's fault: I agree. I hope I didn't give you that impression. Infidelity is never the answer to relationship problems. However, I believe it is naive to think that your WS cheated on you in a perfect relationship. Yes, in some cases the WS is just a really screwed up and selfish individual. However, I believe in most cases it is a combination of things, including lack of communication in the relationship. If you don't look at your relationship under a microscope and try to fix any problems that might have led up to the infidelity, then you're more likely to repeat the same patterns in the future. Even if you choose not to reconcile, examining your relationship should help you avoid the same problems in future relationships or at least see them coming and get out of the way.

At two years out, I'm just starting to think about this. He has to prove himself first. How did you get to this so fast?

I love my wife very much, she has been remorseful, and she has made an immense effort to change her ways, make amends, and regain my trust. Those are the main factors. On top of that, I've tried to stay positive. I've had some great accomplishments at work. I've been exercising consistently. I've done a ton of soul searching, book reading, and research on the internet. I was in a state of depression for a long time. I don't think there's any avoiding that. Like I said in my original post, you have to give yourself time to process what happened. You have to go through the stages. It is important to try to stay positive, though. Try to regain your motivation to enjoy life. Try to be happy. Remember that your WS's decision to cheat was all about them, not you. You have no reason to lose confidence in yourself. In a way you are letting the OM/W win if you let this drag you down and ruin your life. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and be strong. The best revenge is living a happy life with dignity.

DisappointedDude posted 4/23/2014 02:21 AM

Wanted to reply to this one, too:

I am curious as to how your wife was when you were going through a rough time or wanted to talk. How did she respond to you? Or did you mostly try to handle it on your own?

For the first 2-3 months she did not react well at all. I could tell that she was remorseful, but I think she just wanted me to get over it and move on. I don't think she realized how much she had really damaged me. I was always scared to talk to her and felt like I didn't have anyone I could talk to. That was a dark time in our relationship and I was VERY close to leaving her.

Something finally clicked. I don't know what exactly caused it, but since then she has been very supportive. She's always open to talk if I need to, though we usually try to stick to a schedule so she doesn't feel like I'm just going to spring something on her at any moment. She needs to feel safe and secure in her home -- as do I. She usually tears up a few times while we're talking and often tells me that she is sorry and that she loves me. She gives me lots of hugs. She's been reading some books, so she often shares what she's learning from them. She keeps a diary. Like I said in a previous post: she's working hard to earn me back -- and it is working.

CharachterReveal posted 10/3/2014 13:50 PM


Lally posted 10/3/2014 16:17 PM

I'm so glad you bumped this, CR. I needed to read some of these points today and save it for some later work. Thanks!

sisoon posted 10/3/2014 16:43 PM

What confused 615 said.

However, I believe it is naive to think that your WS cheated on you in a perfect relationship.

Affairs happen in good Ms, too. People with poor boundaries are vulnerable to cheating. It can be argued that my W cheated in part because our M was good.

Decide whether to reconcile or move on.

A goodly number of BSes need more than 7 months to make this decision, as evidenced by the Rs that don't get going until the 2nd or even 3rd year after d-day.

I think the decision needs heart, head, and guts to agree on what to do. You and I were blessed in being able to make quick decisions. Most people aren't as lucky as we were. advice is to make your decision based on whether your BS is worth it -- not whether you think you can regain trust/love/etc.

I see it more as figuring out what the BS wants and, if the BS wants R, seeing if the WS is committed to R, too. It's probably a very bad idea for a BS to commit to R when the WS is unremorseful, for example.

I agree that whether or not the BS thinks he can regain trust/love/etc. should not be much of a consideration.

rachelc posted 10/3/2014 18:36 PM

Yeah, good advice if you're about 2 years out with one betrayal, no TT, a remorseful spouse and a short affair.
I'm still working on recovery at 2.5 years out trying to put both feet in. Around here We usually say don't make any big decisions for a year, I think that's about right.
Not saying it's wrong for you, but from what I've seen here it makes sense.

[This message edited by rachelc at 6:44 AM, October 4th (Saturday)]

DisappointedDude posted 10/3/2014 21:30 PM

I was surprised to see my post bumped today...I'm glad people are finding it helpful.

In response to the people saying that you shouldn't choose to R for a year or so after: I think I may have miscommunicated a bit.

To me, if you are sticking with your WS for any period of time then you should be working toward R. Otherwise, why are you staying with them? Perhaps we have different definitions of R. To me, "choosing to R" is choosing to work towards R, which may take years. So, when I said that you should decide to R or move on, what I meant is that you should decide to work towards R or you should leave. The alternative is to sit around and pout while not trying to improve the situation in any way. If you do decide to stay and give it a try, then you need to be committed to making things better. You should be reading books, communicating your needs to your spouse, letting them know what your expectations of them are, going to IC, etc. Otherwise you are just wasting time. If you change your mind along the way for one reason or another, then leave -- no one is forcing you to stay. But while you are still in the relationship, your goal should be to reach R someday. The worst thing you can do is go through every day drowning in sorrow and making no progress. Always be moving forward whether that means healing your marriage or starting a new life.

Something else I picked up somewhere on my journey that was good advice for me: if you are feeling ambivalent, then commit to staying for a certain period of time. For example, decide that you aren't going to make any decisions for at least the next 3 months. This takes a ton of pressure off and allows you to focus on more constructive activities. When 3 months is up, then give yourself another 3 months if you still can't decide.

[This message edited by DisappointedDude at 9:34 PM, October 3rd (Friday)]

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