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This was on this weeks Marriage Builders Q&A newsletter that comes out via email [to get on the list, go to the home page here and sign up for the newsletter] http://www.marriagebuilders.com/index.html

Requirements for Recovery from an Affair


Dear Dr. Harley,

I discovered my husband's affair in May. He was very repentant, ended it and has been working very hard on our marriage ever since. I was not familiar with Marriage Builders at the time and I just followed my instincts. I suppose we are in recovery.

But our communication skills are almost non-existent. We only talk about things that are "safe." My husband’s idea of dealing with his affair is to put it behind us. I need to talk about it to heal. I am still having nightmares and sleeping little. I know nothing about this woman, including her name. He has refused to give me the information because he feels it is over so what difference would it make now. He has agreed to counseling but has been dragging his feet.

Our communication skills are so poor that I can't even bring up his affair for fear of "rocking the boat." He will not read any books or discuss the reasons for his affair with me. I am terrified it will happen again.

We went for a few counseling sessions over a year ago (before affair, communication issues) and it was a disaster. It was so much psycho-babble that neither of us could stand it. Where should we go from here?

Please advise.

K. R.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Dear K. R.,

The plan I recommend for recovery after an affair is very specific. That's because I've found that even small deviations from that plan are usually disastrous. But when it's followed, it always works. The plan has two parts that must be implemented sequentially. The first part of the plan is for the unfaithful spouse to completely separate from the lover and eliminate the conditions that made the affair possible. The second part is for the couple to create a romantic relationship, using my Basic Concepts as a guide.

I'll describe these two parts to you in a little more detail.

The first step, complete separation from the lover and eliminating the conditions that made the affair possible, requires a complete understanding of the affair. All information regarding the affair must be revealed to the betrayed spouse, including the name of the lover, the conditions that made the affair possible (travel, internet, etc.), the details of what took place during the affair, all correspondence, and anything else that would shed light on the tragedy.

This information is important for two reasons: (1) it creates accountability and transparency, making it essentially impossible for the unfaithful spouse to continue the affair or begin a new one unnoticed, and (2) it creates trust for the betrayed spouse, providing evidence that the affair is over and a new one is unlikely to take its place. The nightmares you experience are likely to continue until you have the facts that
will lead to your assurance that your husband can be trusted.

An analysis of the betrayed spouse's childhood or emotional state of mind in an effort to discover why he or she would have an affair is distracting and unnecessary. It takes precious time away from finding the real solutions. I know why people have affairs: We are all wired for it. Given certain conditions, we would all do it. Given other conditions, however, none of us would do it. So the goal of the first step is to discover the conditions that made the affair possible and eliminate them.

After the first step is completed, the second step is to create a romantic relationship between you and your husband using my 10 Basic Concepts http://marriagebuilders.com/ca/to.cgi?l=qa080103bc
as your guide. While your relationship may be improving, it won't lead to a romantic relationship because you are not being transparent toward each other. Unspoken issues in a marital relationship lead to a superficiality that ruins romance.

Your nightmares are only the tip of the iceberg. They are but a small reflection of the suffering you experienced when you discovered your husband's affair, and the fear you have that the suffering will be repeated. You have no assurance that the affair is over because you don't even know who the other woman is. You are being asked to trust your husband, who has already proven to be untrustworthy. For all you know, he could be working with her, or you could be going to the same church, or she could be
your neighbor. And since he won't discuss the details of how the affair took place, you have no assurance that another affair will not take its place.

Infidelity is not something that can be swept under the rug. While those who have affairs want to forget about it and move on, those who are betrayed must take very specific steps before they can fully recover. In your case, those steps have not been taken, and as a result, your fear persists. I will send you a complimentary copy of my book, "Surviving an Affair," if you send me your address. It will describe these two steps to you and provide you with a roadmap toward full recovery. But the path will require full disclosure of all details.

Best wishes,

Willard F. Harley, Jr.

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Funny that you posted that...I read that this morning and have been thinking about it ever since.
it is an issue in my marriage....to this day, I do not know for sure if H had an affair or not....and he still gets angry and defensive and shuts down when I ask for details about his IB on business trips etc.

I struggle w/ it....I don't see how we will ever get recovery off the ground if we are not able to discuss this issue.

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Quote:

An analysis of the betrayed spouse's childhood or emotional state of mind in an effort to discover why he or she would have an affair is distracting and unnecessary. It takes precious time away from finding the real solutions. I know why people have affairs: We are all wired for it. Given certain conditions, we would all do it. Given other conditions, however, none of us would do it. So the goal of the first step is to discover the conditions that made the affair possible and eliminate them.





I sooooooooooooo agree with the above sentence I bolded.

It makes me nutz to read posts here on MB that pretend to psychoanalyze each other's childhood issues .....

just STOP already

what is needed is a PLAN of action .... not volumes of posts that are nothing more than self-absorbed belly-button-gazing

sheesh!

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just STOP already

what is needed is a PLAN of action .... not volumes of posts that are nothing more than self-absorbed belly-button-gazing
*****************************

Hi Pep,

That where we got stuck......H discovered he had childhood issues in IC and we have not moved forward w/ a 'marriage building' plan since....I keep waiting for him to get comfortable enough to be open with me.
it is starting to drive me batty.

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AMEN!!


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

Exposure 101


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Quote:

That where we got stuck......H discovered he had childhood issues in IC and we have not moved forward w/ a 'marriage building' plan since....I keep waiting for him to get comfortable enough to be open with me.
it is starting to drive me batty.




Staying stuck in the past keeps him from focusing on the PRESENT. And he will NEVER be "comfortable" telling you the truth about his affair. That is not realistic. What person would EVER feel "comfortable" about that?? Maybe a sociopath, but not a person with an active conscience.

Ask him to do what is RIGHT for your marriage, not what is "comfortable."

Have you shown him Joseph's letter? http://www.marriagebuilders.com/ubbt/sho...rue#Post2739000


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

Exposure 101


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Quote:

Your nightmares are only the tip of the iceberg. They are but a small reflection of the suffering you experienced when you discovered your husband's affair, and the fear you have that the suffering will be repeated.




This explains my recent NIGHTMARE..simple but complicated..A REFLECTION OF THE SUFFERING..YES!!


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Mel,

Great post.
I remember showing my FWS Joseph's letter, and it helping him to open up and get that elephant out of the room. That letter was a very important part of our recovery.

I think he's STILL be avoiding giving the info I needed at the time if I hadn't found that letter on MB.

Thanks again Mel!!

Love in Christ,
Miss M


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H: FWS
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Thank for this post ML. It helps us in recovery to stay on the right path.

You are a great source of info and support here on MB. I know we haven't chatted much, but I am always interested in your guidance on my or W2S's thread.

Thanks again!


Peace,
LaLa

FWW(me) 37
BS 38
DS 9 & 5
PA 7/06-8/06
Dday 2/17/07

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Have you shown him Joseph's letter?
**************************

I tried to.
timing wasn't good.
Right now he is in IC and we are in MC and I see him as IC once in awhile....I have made the MC aware that I want/NEED a plan and I need to know the whole truth about his IB ( NOT the feelings behind WHY he did what he did)I think MC understands (H does not) but I know I will have to push the issue because we get off track so easily.

H is dealing w/ childhood trauma
he has addictive tendencies.....such as lying and covering up...not just sex issues but even about drinking and smoking etc......but, IC says he is not an alcoholic.... these issues stem from the fact that he is an adult child of alcoholics and he needs to get healthy and feel better about himself before he will be able to address his shame and guilt like an adult.

i am sure there is truth to all this, but I am not so sure the way we are going about this is doing the relationship much good...it feels like it is driving me further away.

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Quote:

H is dealing w/ childhood trauma
he has addictive tendencies.....such as lying and covering up...not just sex issues but even about drinking and smoking etc......but, IC says he is not an alcoholic.... these issues stem from the fact that he is an adult child of alcoholics and he needs to get healthy and feel better about himself before he will be able to address his shame and guilt like an adult.





That, no doubt keeps him coming back and forking over the bucks year after year, but it does not solve the problem. I am an adult child of 2 alcoholics and wasted YEARS bloviating to a counselor - never resolving any issues. It was fun to go there and yip and yap, though, and kept me enmeshed in MYSELF. But, it never solved my problems.

The solution to the problem is to focus on the PRESENT, it cannot be found in the past. Yapping endlessly about my childhood at the IC just kept me angry and did absolutely nothing to resolve my problems. It was just a DIVERSION to the real solution. Only learning to change my CURRENT BEHAVIOR did that.

The reason that AA, Alanon, ACOA are so successful, and counseling IS NOT, is because they don't sit around and bloviate about their sad childhoods, but they change their CURRENT BEHAVIOR. They focus on the SOLUTION, rather than the past.

Nia, have you considered calling Steve Harley for counseling and dumping all of your counselors? He will show you how to really solve the problem and will give you and your H a plan of recovery. That man can do in 2 sessions what most C's can NEVER DO because SH focuses on the SOLUTION, not picking wounds from the past. He is worth every penny and won't waste a minute of your time.


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

Exposure 101


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Quote:


i am sure there is truth to all this, but I am not so sure the way we are going about this is doing the relationship much good...it feels like it is driving me further away.




nia, my greatest concern for you is that you have not really even begun recovery yet. You can't do that until you have the full truth about your life. You can't ever develop trust if he has secrets with the OW to which are not privy. The sad thing is that when he does tell you all, that festering wound you are nursing will be ripped right back open again. But that is what it will take to recover your marriage.

Dr. Harley:
Quote:

Radical honesty is so important in marriage that there is a much greater risk of divorce when a couple is not radically honest, than there is when a couple reveals very hurtful information to each other. In other words, you face a much greater risk of divorce by keeping those email letters secret than you do by revealing them. That's why we always recommend full disclosure.

Best wishes
Willard F. Harley, Jr.




Dr. Harley:
Quote:

Isn't it interesting how someone can miss the point that mutual care in marriage is the only kind of care that makes sense? When your husband tells you that he wants you to care for him by suffering so he can have what he wants, he doesn't understand that this expectation means that he doesn't care about you. And that's the point.




"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

Exposure 101


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I know why people have affairs: We are all wired for it. Given certain conditions, we would all do it. Given other conditions, however, none of us would do it.

This doesn't sit very well with me. I was a full partner in the same marriage with the same problems, my own needs not met, etc. And I did not choose to have an affair. This statement just seems to take away personal responsibility. Yes, we're all wired for SIN, and certain environments make it more or less likely, but in the end - we each have a choice.

God promises to provide a way out of every temptation - and this year I saw that a hundred fold in my husband's life. He had way out after way out, and he just kept choosing to run into the pit.

I am taking responsibility for my part of the problems in our marriage, and learning a lot this year. But I do not feel responsibility for HIS choice to SIN.

I guess it also seems like a doorway to fear; Were we ever to reconcile, or one day for me to remarry - it seems like Harley is saying I have to constantly be -not jus aware, but afraid, like the conditions of the marriage become the focus, the god - instead of God himself. It seems to me that sometimes life is just hard - and in those seasons you live by choice and not by feeling. The Bible is full of stories of people living in very less-than-ideal conditions, and still CHOOSING God, and what He says. There is always a choice.


BW(me) + XWH - 36
3DS - now 10, 8, 6
Married 10 years
D-Day 10-5-07, lots of Plan B, etc.
Plan D --finalized 2-09

Remarried to wonderful man 1-1-11!
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Nia, have you considered calling Steve Harley for counseling and dumping all of your counselors? He will show you how to really solve the problem and will give you and your H a plan of recovery. That man can do in 2 sessions what most C's can NEVER DO because SH focuses on the SOLUTION, not picking wounds from the past. He is worth every penny and won't waste a minute of your time.
*************************

I was under the impression that He would tell us that H needs to deal w/ his addictive behaviors before he would counsel us or MB would help us.

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nia, my greatest concern for you is that you have not really even begun recovery yet. You can't do that until you have the full truth about your life. You can't ever develop trust if he has secrets with the OW to which are not privy. The sad thing is that when he does tell you all, that festering wound you are nursing will be ripped right back open again. But that is what it will take to recover your marriage.
************************************

that is how I feel about it.
but, he does not understand that. he says he has told me everything and does not wish to go over it again and that I am the one who continues to allow this wound to fester.
He says there was no OW.....just strippers etc.... that he did not have actual sex with...but, who knows...I can not be sure and his defensive attitude certainly does not make me feel very secure about his supposed honesty.
He gets mad at me for not believing him...he says he understands it's his fault and the price he has to pay for not coming clean with me for so many years etc etc...but, he says he feels he is between a rock and a hard place now because nothing he ever says will make me believe him.

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Phoenix..in reply to you...

Quote:

I was a full partner in the same marriage with the same problems, my own needs not met, etc. And I did not choose to have an affair.




But YOU are not YOUR HUSBAND. That was the copout that HE took..A BAD, WRONG, IMMORAL SOLUTION..but that was what HE did..

Quote:

He had way out after way out, and he just kept choosing to run into the pit.





Again..it's about HIS relationship with GOD...and your WH probably being led by EVIL SPIRITS...

Quote:

I am taking responsibility for my part of the problems in our marriage, and learning a lot this year. But I do not feel responsibility for HIS choice to SIN.






CORRECT...you are only responsible for YOURSELF...

Quote:

I guess it also seems like a doorway to fear; Were we ever to reconcile, or one day for me to remarry - it seems like Harley is saying I have to constantly be -not jus aware, but afraid,




There's no need to be AFRAID...if you TRUST in GOD and WORK on being the WIFE that GOD wants you to be...In my belief, HE wants us to ACT like a GODLY WIFE..in meeting our H's EMOTIONAL NEEDS...so in doing that, there is NOTHING for YOU to FEAR.

If your WH CHOOSES to do WRONG and YOU are doing all that YOU can do, then it's ON HIM...it's not about YOU...

Our RECOVERY has worked and continues to work because MY HUSBAND does HIS work and I do MY WORK..on the MARRIAGE...DAILY...HOURLY...

Doing THE BASICS as Dr. Harley is referring to...

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OK, BUT -- I can honestly say that I HAVE tried to be a godly wife for the last nine years, in many ways choosing to love and serve and grow - doing the best I knew how to do at the time. Now I know more, now I would do better, I'm certain. But how would I know that this time it's 'enough'? What if there's another amazingly helfpul book/website I'm missing? (Because trust me, I have read a lot of books over the years). But I guess I'm saying I really believe I did my best then, with what I knew, and yet it seems that Dr. Harley is saying even my best was not enough - that it still resulted in an environment where 'anyone would have an affair.'

And I'm a little confused about the reference to childhood/personal counseling. On one hand, yes - it did not seem to work for us. That is what the counselor focused on (although H had refused to work on anything regarding the marriage), and it did not help. She felt from the beginning that something else was going on - suspected an affair, but he completely denied it. So what else is there to do?

But as she poked into the personal stuff it really triggered some things, and he became extremely depressed/suicidal. There clearly was some stuff there to deal with - isn't it possible that sometimes one has to get to the roots to be able to deal with the behaviors?


BW(me) + XWH - 36
3DS - now 10, 8, 6
Married 10 years
D-Day 10-5-07, lots of Plan B, etc.
Plan D --finalized 2-09

Remarried to wonderful man 1-1-11!
now 3 NEW bonuschildren: DD 4, DS 8&9

... ... ...
GOD IS GOOD.
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Quote:

isn't it possible that sometimes one has to get to the roots to be able to deal with the behaviors?





IMO, yes and no. They need to get to the root to understand their motivations or slant to behave a certain way. BUT, behaviors are all about choices...even without a good understanding of why he did what he did, he can CHOOSE to act differently.

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Phoenix:

Putting it specifically in terms of MBers' Philosopy, I had to come to terms with the FACT that I was not meeting my H's PRIMARY ENs. So I encourage you to read HIS NEEDS HER NEEDS to see what you think about YOURSELF if you are interested in studying Dr. Harley's viewpoint. It really FIT for US and what happened in OUR MARRIAGE.

Quote:

isn't it possible that sometimes one has to get to the roots to be able to deal with the behaviors?







It's too late once the ADDICTION has taken on...

I'm not a BIG FAN of traditional counseling anymore...

Once his affair had begun, my H used counseling to JUSTIFY his affair. From my understanding, he focused on how AWFUL I was and the counselor supported him. I'll never forget the FRIDAY that he called me, said he was going to his IC session and I didn't hear from him again until Sunday..with me thinking that he was suicidal or something..he went off and got his FIX from the OW after crying the blues with the IC...


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Quote:

I was under the impression that He would tell us that H needs to deal w/ his addictive behaviors before he would counsel us or MB would help us.






I don't think so Nia. I think calling Steve Harley is the absolute best thing you could do right now. And if SH feels that your H is an addict and must work on that first before marital recovery, he will let you know. So go ahead and give him a call.

I agree with the others on IC that focuses on childhoods. I used to walk out of IC the moment the counselor asked about my parents. I then found a solutions focused coach (like the Harley's) and was able to focus on current behavior. Made all the difference, and I believe that is why I found this website so helpful. I used to really read what the succesful married and even single ladies here had to say. I studied succesful behavior, not unsuccesful behavior... and it has made all the difference.

I have learned NIA, when I have a problem to stop focusing on the other person involved and really try to only focus on my actions as they pertain to that other person. Because what usually happens when our approach is not working is that we are so focused on the other person, that we cannot see that we are continually doing the same thing and getting the same undesired result. Even stepping it up and doing it more and harder, instead of stepping back and saying "hey, this is not working. let me try a different approach".

I can give you an example quickly that helped me in an area I was having a very hard time in. I started drinking wine during and after my last R. I drank it evey night I didn't have my daughter. And we had a four month rotation so you can see I drank it a lot. Not a lot at one time, but I got into the TERRIBLE happit of drinking it every day. two or three glasses.

My new husband is VERY uncomfortable with drinking wine or anything else everyday, or of having it at home. So I had to quit because I knew it would damage our marriage.

Well the more I focused on the wine, the bigger the problem got. It became so big that I couldn't not drink it.

So, having learned about solution focused therapy, I looked at what I was doing and decided to try a different approach.

This time, I refused to focus on the wine at all. I wanted it to become so small that it just dissapeared and I knew if you want something to disappear you can't be thinking about it all the time.

I had to replace the wine habit with good habits. I had to find something that got me excited and that in order to do, I could not drink wine.

Soon I never thought about having a glass of wine at night at all. It had become a non issue by not allowing myself to focus on it by engaging in other activies that were not conducive to drinking wine.

See how it works? And I never once had to go talk to somebody about how my dad was an alcoholic and my mom was a gambling addict.

Quitting smoking was a different technique for me that did not work for the wine... as I didn't change or add any activities, I mostly used mental power.

Take a look at your approach, and see if there is something you can change in the way you are approaching him. Keep a daily diary if you have to.

Orchid has some good ideas on how to ask questions. It's really interesting how she used to approach her H when she needed answers.

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