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#2898081 05/01/17 12:41 AM
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So my marriage has been on the rocks for 2 full years now. It started when I got very depressed about some things. My wife & I have been married for 20+ years and have kids together in their late teens. Two years ago, she said, We're done. She's not a confrontational person and not very decisive. But every since that declaration, she has gradually built up stronger and stronger walls against me. We've been going to counseling for months. I'm doing absolutely everything possible to let her know I love her and want to be the husband she deserves. We still live in the same house together and she will act pleasant to me as friends and in public and in front of the kids, but she will not touch me or do anything loving towards me.

I've found out that she had an affair a few months ago. I read her texts. They didn't go all the way, but there was heavy kissing and petting and plans for intercourse. I confronted her about it with hopes that maybe (but unlikely) she would realize the error of her ways and choose to love me again, but I expected her to declare divorce.

Well, she did really neither. She wants space, freedom, and independence from me and the kids, but she's also not willing to end our marriage. She's very indecisive. And yet, she will not do anything that could be seen as a positive step for rebuilding our relationship. She did end the affair (physically, texting, everything). But she has not expressed much regret or remorse for it (which I can't understand because I wouldn't be able to live with myself for the guilt of having done something like that). And she makes no positive move towards me.

I keep hanging on to the fleeting optimistic hope that she will come to her senses and choose to love me again and not throw away our family and years of marriage and memories. I wish she would realize she has a good, decent man who absolutely wants to love her and enjoy life with her (and we used to do that).

Does anyone in this kind of situation ever come back around? I'm really afraid my marriage is a lost cause, but I'm not willing to give up. I keep fighting for our marriage in every possible way, but she does nothing recipricol. I've learned so much in the past 2 years about what I've done wrong (much of which I didn't even fully realize before). I could write a book about what I've learned about her, her needs, us, communication, relationships, my shortcomings, etc. And yet, she doesn't want to give us a chance.

Any chance or hope that someone like this might come back around? Or am I just wasting my time? Is it ever right for me to say, Enough. It's too painful the way she is treating me. She really has no good reason to reject me like she is, and yet she continually does.

I really hope, yes, there's hope. Thanks in advance.

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I should add, what's tearing me up right now is that we've been in limbo for 2 years now. In other words, she isn't decisively leaving or divorcing me, but she is also not doing anything positive to rebuild our relationship. Even in counseling together, she is not opening up towards anything positive towards us and she keeps insisting on her needs and only her. And I am willing to meet her needs and love her and give her space to be herself, but she doesn't want me in the picture right now... and right now everything is one-sided... me making all the overtures and efforts, and her doing her own thing regardless of what it means to me or how much pain she is causing me.

The way I look at it, only 2 things are going to come from this. Either we are going to have a good, happy, honest, fun, loving marriage again, or we're going to divorce and part ways. She doesn't want to commit to either outcome. I am fully committed to us and a good life together the rest of our days. She's not willing to take even the slightest positive step in this direction because I imagine she thinks that that itself would inevitably be a decision... no chance at a single independent life on her own. But she's also not willing to take any big step towards splitting up either. It's like she's taking a thousand small steps in that direction by building walls over the past two years. But since she's not a decisive person and she doesn't want to regret making a wrong decision, she's only gradually moving in that direction.

All of this is ripping me to shreds. I don't want to waste the next 10, 15, 20 years of my life in this painful limbo, only to have her split from me. But I also don't want to divorce her right now because I still optimistically hope that she will come back around.

If we have any chance at a good marriage again, it's all in her hands right now because she is the only one holding back and I am making every effort for us to have a good life together. Part of me thinks I'm only prolonging the painful limbo because she is not going to make any decisive decision. But I also don't want to force the issue because I don't want her to make the wrong decision. Part of me says, enough of this. Move on. And when I'm out of the picture of her life maybe she will realize what a good thing she's throwing away. (Please don't think I'm arrogant or deluded by saying that. I'm a decent guy.)

Am I wasting my time? Or are there some stories out there in which the spouse who wanted independence and their own life came back around and realized the importance of a good life together with their original spouse? I hope so.

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Hi, anonymityplease,

Welcome to Marriage Builders. I am sorry for what brings you here, but glad you are here, because many people here have been where you are and have ended up well.

YES there are plenty of cases here where a spouse had an affair and wanted independence and eventually came back around. But you should know that the path to recovery is very narrow. People who deviate from that path usually do not recover their marriages.

Have you looked at Dr. Harley's materials? He is our expert here and the plans here are based on his experience with thousands of couples, including many who have gone through infidelity. You should get his book Surviving an Affair right away because it contains a lot of information you need for recovery.

In Dr. Harley's experience the first step to recovery from an affair is usually when the betrayed spouse exposes the affair, telling family, friends, church, work, etc. about the affair and throwing the light of day on it. Have you done this?


If you are serious about saving your marriage, you can't get it all on this forum. You've got to listen to the Marriage Builders Radio show, every day. Install the app!

Married to my radiant trophy wife, Prisca, 17 years, who is a beautiful angel.
Attended Marriage Builders weekend in May 2010

If your wife is not on board with MB, some of my posts to other men might help you.
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Hello AP, welcome to Marriage Builders. Yes, many of us have recovered our marriages using these concepts. Who is the OM? Does she still see him? Does she communicate with him in any way? Is he married? Does he live close by?


"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


markos #2898088 05/01/17 08:38 AM
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Yes, I've been working through some of Dr. Hartley's materials and like what I've seen. I agree with his values and perspectives. But there is a lot of material to sort through and since every situation is different, a lot of it doesn't apply to mine, even though I can learn important principals in the process.

MelodyLane #2898090 05/01/17 08:46 AM
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The other man (is that "OM"?) lives 70 miles away. She met him while visiting there. They texted a lot and would meet up halfway between, probably to avoid accidental exposure to anyone they might know. And ever since I exposed the affair to her, she has not visited that city any more.

Another thing that makes this difficult to me is that I have no one to turn to in the midst of the most painful experience of my life. No one knows what she has done except me, her, and our counselor (which is getting expensive to maintain). I'm aching to talk to someone about all of this (when I'm not on a ticking clock having to pay)... but OTOH, I don't want to say anything to any friend or family because I'm afraid it will make the situation worse. I really want to move on from this to a happy marriage, and I'm afraid if anyone knows it will shame her and jeopardize any future we might have together.

Yet, I'm aching so bad and friends can sense something is not right. And I've tried to blow it off as work stress or sleep issues or other things without hinting that my marriage is on the rocks. That's why I'm turning to this forum for some free anonymous guidance. All of this and how to handle it is all so new to me. Thanks.

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Originally Posted By: anonymityplease
Yes, I've been working through some of Dr. Hartley's materials and like what I've seen. I agree with his values and perspectives. But there is a lot of material to sort through and since every situation is different, a lot of it doesn't apply to mine, even though I can learn important principals in the process.


We can help you get through this step by step by pointing you to the pertinent steps for your situation. It is not an easy process but the rewards are great..


"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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Originally Posted By: anonymityplease
Yes, I've been working through some of Dr. Hartley's materials and like what I've seen. I agree with his values and perspectives. But there is a lot of material to sort through and since every situation is different, a lot of it doesn't apply to mine, even though I can learn important principals in the process.


Welcome to MB.

Actually, every situation is not different, and his materials all do apply to you. You might not be able to see that now, but it is true.

Dr Harley has brilliantly discovered the key to making a marriage successful, and maintaining romantic love throughout your marriage. The process on how to do this is the same for every couple, regardless of their situation.

Tell us which pieces of his program do not apply to your situation, and why you believe that?

What are your wife's complaints about you? What have you been doing to entice her back into the marriage?

unwritten #2898093 05/01/17 08:59 AM
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I'm hesitant to say too much on this forum for fear of exposing myself or my wife. And I realize, once any of this is exposed, we can't unexpose it. So I'm very cautious about saying too much here on this forum and I haven't shared any of this with any close friend, co-worker, or family member. I looked at some of what MelodyLane posts about Exposure, but wow, that seems like the nuclear option right now.

My ultimate wish is for my wife to realize I'm a decent guy who loves her and I want us to have the good marriage we used to have, the one I neglected, and for us to move on. But that is a fleeting wish right now.

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This forum takes great care to preserve anonymity. I have seen moderators delete identifying information and/or posts. You don't and shouldn't need to post information that identifies you and your wife.

Marriage Builders has a plan to follow to recover a marriage after an affair. As already described, the steps are very specific.

"Wishing" for your wife to realize her mistakes will not make it happen. Having a plan and executing the plan is the path to marriage recovery.

I see you use the words fear and afraid several times. You can not steer recovery if you let your fears determine your actions/inactions.

Can you answer Unwritten's question about which parts of the program you believe do not apply to your situation? Also, Mel's question, "Is your wife still in contact with OM?"

Last edited by armymama; 05/01/17 09:11 AM.

BW - 65
WH - 60
M - 35 years
D-day - 17 Apr 08
DD - 44, DS - 30, DS - 23
H broke contact 11/1/09
Back in love after the worst thing that every happened to us.
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Originally Posted By: anonymityplease


My ultimate wish is for my wife to realize I'm a decent guy who loves her and I want us to have the good marriage we used to have, the one I neglected, and for us to move on. But that is a fleeting wish right now.


But that will not happen if her lovebank is closed to you. If she is still seeing or communicating with the OM, her lovebank will never be open to you and you will never move forward. Never. Nothing we tell you to do will ever be of effect as long as she has any contact whatsoever with the OM.

The longer the affair stays hidden the more entrenched and the harder it will be to save your marriage.

Does she still see or communicate with the OM?


"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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Originally Posted By: anonymityplease


My ultimate wish is for my wife to realize I'm a decent guy who loves her and I want us to have the good marriage we used to have, the one I neglected, and for us to move on. But that is a fleeting wish right now.


It comes down to this simple question: do you want to save your marriage or do you want to continue to take the path of least resistance while the Titanic sinks? Those of us who saved our marriages did not do it by avoiding conflict and sitting on the sidelines "hoping" for the best. Hope is not a plan.


"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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Originally Posted By: anonymityplease
I'm aching to talk to someone about all of this (when I'm not on a ticking clock having to pay)... but OTOH, I don't want to say anything to any friend or family because I'm afraid it will make the situation worse. I really want to move on from this to a happy marriage, and I'm afraid if anyone knows it will shame her and jeopardize any future we might have together.


Oh goodness, you shouldn't have to go through that - Dr. Harley really is serious that in his experience the marriages where the betrayed spouse exposes the affair are more likely to recover. By exposing the affair you're not going to make the situation worse - you are going to get the support you need and also make it more likely that you come out of this unscathed.

All kinds of family and friends know that my wife had an online affair several years ago. They do not shame her, and we have a great life together.


If you are serious about saving your marriage, you can't get it all on this forum. You've got to listen to the Marriage Builders Radio show, every day. Install the app!

Married to my radiant trophy wife, Prisca, 17 years, who is a beautiful angel.
Attended Marriage Builders weekend in May 2010

If your wife is not on board with MB, some of my posts to other men might help you.
MelodyLane #2898098 05/01/17 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted By: MelodyLane
Originally Posted By: anonymityplease
Yes, I've been working through some of Dr. Hartley's materials and like what I've seen. I agree with his values and perspectives. But there is a lot of material to sort through and since every situation is different, a lot of it doesn't apply to mine, even though I can learn important principals in the process.


We can help you get through this step by step by pointing you to the pertinent steps for your situation. It is not an easy process but the rewards are great..


Please notice how long MelodyLane has been here and how many posts she has made on this site.

Know also that she has listened to hundreds (thousands?) of hours of Dr. Harley's Marriage Builders Radio. She is well educated in hundreds of different marital scenarios and what works and what doesn't.

She is your best bet to finding your way out of this to a happy future.

90% of the people who post here say "my situation is different" (think about how silly that is). Then they ignore the suggestions and end up in disaster.


If you are serious about saving your marriage, you can't get it all on this forum. You've got to listen to the Marriage Builders Radio show, every day. Install the app!

Married to my radiant trophy wife, Prisca, 17 years, who is a beautiful angel.
Attended Marriage Builders weekend in May 2010

If your wife is not on board with MB, some of my posts to other men might help you.
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Originally Posted By: anonymityplease
So I'm very cautious about saying too much here on this forum and I haven't shared any of this with any close friend, co-worker, or family member.


Suffering in silence isn't a very good plan!


If you are serious about saving your marriage, you can't get it all on this forum. You've got to listen to the Marriage Builders Radio show, every day. Install the app!

Married to my radiant trophy wife, Prisca, 17 years, who is a beautiful angel.
Attended Marriage Builders weekend in May 2010

If your wife is not on board with MB, some of my posts to other men might help you.
markos #2898107 05/01/17 11:23 AM
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Many thanks for the many replies.

To unwritten:

(1) RE: Every situation is different.
What I meant is that when affairs happen, there are many different factors at play: newlyweds vs married 20+ years; kids vs no kids; other prior affairs vs none; alcohol in the picture vs no alcohol; abusive situation vs no abuse. FWIW, my wife & I have been married 20+ years, 3 kids that are late teens; no prior affairs. But another major factor is that I'm in Christian ministry as a vocation. There are some in my situation who might demand I be fired even if I have biblical grounds for divorcing my wife due to the affair. That makes this all the more complicated.

(2) RE: Which Dr Hartley materials.
I've read some of the things and it was addressing situations that are not like my situation. Maybe if you could tell me which of his materials apply to my situation, then I could start there.


To armymama:

(3) Yes, I need a plan to execute. Not a wish or fleeting hopes. Which materials of Dr Hartley's do you recommend that I read and consider first for my situation?


To MelodyLane:

(4) Yes, her lovebank is currently closed to me. Completely. No, I have no reason to think she is still communicating with the other man. It was a fling. A lot of sexting. Only met him 2x. She never thought it would hurt me if I didn't know (although I noticed that the affair changed her, even before I knew about the affair). This was not the kind of man she would ever marry or have a serious relationship with.

I have no reason to think she is now continuing to contact him.
Part of the reason is because I ended it for them. When I first discovered the affair, I was afraid to expose it because we had a big family trip (a week for all 5 of us in Australia) coming up in 5 weeks. I didn't want to ruin everything for this trip for the kids, but I also didn't want the affair to continue. So without her knowing that I knew, I kept asking her not to do anything "destructive" towards our marriage. She didn't take the hints to think about what she was doing. She tried to meet up with the OM several times but their schedules didn't allow.

They were about to meet up before the big family trip and I did something quite risky to prevent it. I texted him from her phone without her knowing. I stated:

"This is xxx's husband. We've been married 20+ years and have 3 kids together. She probably didn't tell you she was married, or maybe she did. I know who you are. I know all about you from social media. I've read your texts. I know you're fooling around with my wife. I advise you to never contact her again. Ever. It's over."

And I sent it. And I deleted the text on my wife's phone so she didn't know. Then I added his number to her spam list so any return message was blocked as spam. Then I changed his contact number in her phone to a different # so any text she sent went to a slightly different number. So yeah, I temporarily interrupted contact between them as a stop-gap measure to avoid the affair going further before our big family trip. And my plan was to expose it all to her the day after we all got home.

It worked, until we were overseas and the OM realized what had happened and he texted her from his work phone and sent a pic of my text. And I saw this contact from the same city on our phone records and knew this had probably happened. Day after we got home, I drove us to a local park (away from the kids) and we sat in the car for 2 hours and talked about it all.

I have no reason to think she has contacted that man any since that trip. It sounds like he was pretty ticked at her for not being honest with him. So it does sound like it's over.


To markos:

(5) I'm in Christian ministry. Exposing this could have disastrous effects beyond my marriage. So I'm very hesitant to make a wrong decision about exposing this. (See #1 above) I'm not a hypocrite and don't act like I'm perfect or my marriage is perfect, but I also know that my wife & I are held to a higher standard than others. So yes, in many ways, my situation is different. And this is much the reason I feel trapped with no one I can share this with.

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anon,

My wife and I are increasingly involved in Christian marriage ministry using Dr. Harley's materials - as a part of that ministry we tell our full marital history including her affair and my abuse.

People with good marriages aren't the ones who conceal things like this. We need more ministers like you to do the things that lead to good marriages.

As far as Dr. Harley's materials, do you have the book Surviving an Affair? And have you seen his free video about infidelity on this site? And do you have the Marriage Builders app for your phone so you can listen to the free Marriage Builders Radio show?


If you are serious about saving your marriage, you can't get it all on this forum. You've got to listen to the Marriage Builders Radio show, every day. Install the app!

Married to my radiant trophy wife, Prisca, 17 years, who is a beautiful angel.
Attended Marriage Builders weekend in May 2010

If your wife is not on board with MB, some of my posts to other men might help you.
markos #2898109 05/01/17 11:42 AM
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The way you confronted the OM is great! That probably impressed your wife that you were willing to fight for her.


If you are serious about saving your marriage, you can't get it all on this forum. You've got to listen to the Marriage Builders Radio show, every day. Install the app!

Married to my radiant trophy wife, Prisca, 17 years, who is a beautiful angel.
Attended Marriage Builders weekend in May 2010

If your wife is not on board with MB, some of my posts to other men might help you.
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I know what you meant by every situation is different. Most of us who have posted here for years have seen every situation imaginable. The main principles of Dr Harley's plan still apply to all of them.

In your situation, there is nothing that would lead us to tell you not to expose. In fact, I think it is one of the only chances you have. When a person is engaged in an affair, they are in an 'affair fog' mentally. The addiction of the affair takes over their mental state, they can no longer think rationally. Exposure works to wake them up from the fog. It also garners support for you, and support for your marriage as you try to rebuild, and keeps WW accountable making continuing the affair next to impossible.

I think it is very sad that as a Christian minister you think you have to pretend your life is better than it is and NOT ask for help from your Christian family. To me that is not holding yourself to a higher standard, but the opposite.

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I agree with Markos that the world needs more people in ministry who are 'real' and willing to talk about how sin impacts their life.

I know as a parishioner I would have a great deal of respect for this in a minister.

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