Should I Stay or Go After an Affair?

October 16, 2016 Teleseminar – Should I Stay or Go After an Affair?

We apologize that the beginning of this teleseminar has quite a bit of static on the line, but it was too good not to post and share with all of you.  The static does get better as the teleseminar goes on so it’s definitely worth listening to.

Anne Bercht shares great information and insight on how to determine if you should stay or go after there has been an affair in your marriage.  She also answers questions and discusses how to handle if there has been abuse in a marriage as that will play a big part in one’s decision to leave the marriage.  Anne walks you through determining factors, using wisdom, insight and what helped with her personal decision to stay in her marriage as well as clients that her and Brian have worked with over the years and how they decided whether they should stay or go.

This is really an amazing teleseminar that will help YOU make this very big decision.

We encourage you to reach out to our office as well at info@beyondaffairs.com or by calling our office at 360-306-3367 as we want to support you in your healing journey and we also know that making that decision may also require some coaching or attending a seminar.  This is a big decision to make and we encourage you make it from a healthy, healed place and not an emotional reaction after learning of your spouse’s affair.  No matter what you decide, we know that there is happiness waiting for you on the other side of your decision.  We look forward to helping you discover the life you want and desire!

 

Should I Stay or Go? by Anne Bercht

Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do. – Pope John XXIII

“To give up.
God!
What a bell of freedom that rings within me”
No more wanting to understand what makes you tick
No more wanting to be able to communicate freely
No more waiting for reassurance, for explanation,
…or the words that never come
No more wondering what you are doing
Or who you are with
And then
No more depression
And FINALLY
No more hurting
And all it would take
…is to give you up
But that
…would take too much

– This poem is taken from ‘The Monogamy Myth’ by Peggy Vaughan, Page 177.

The following article is based on information written by Peggy Vaughan in her outstanding book that can help you understand your feelings after your spouse cheats.

The Monogamy Myth‘, Chapter Nine -The Marriage/Divorce Dilemma, and is used with permission.

My Husband’s Affair …’ in a chapter titled ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ outlines from my personal experience my own ambivalence towards my marriage for a long period of time, and the factors that eventually led to my own decision to stay. These factors may also help you in making your own best decision for your future.

There are times in life when we are in-between. We are like Linus in the old Charlie Brown cartoon without our blanket. Our life as we had known it has ended, a door has closed and we cannot go back. The past is the past. Yet the future? What will become of my future? I do not know. My future has become the great unknown. Can I have happiness? I am in-between past and future. I am like a trapeze artist who has just let go of the trapeze, somersaulting through mid air. Will I catch the new trapeze on the other side? When you are in this uncertain place, being patient and taking things one day at a time makes the present situation more tolerable and the future easier with the passage of time.

A Feeling of Ambivalence After Your Spouse Cheats

It is normal to have ambivalent feelings towards your spouse who has betrayed you. We’re often not really sure what we want. We weren’t prepared for such betrayal. We’re not even sure sometimes if we really still love our spouse or not. Frankly, we are confused. How do we know whether we should stay or go? One woman at our meeting reported that while she was going through it, her counselor told her that she would know, if and when it was time to leave her marriage. She left that counseling session feeling a bit confused. “Couldn’t I get a more concrete answer than ‘You will know?” she wondered. In her situation, she did end up leaving her marriage, and she did know. She made her decision based on the fact that after much trying her husband was just not sorry for what he had done. He only regretted getting caught. More importantly, she made her decision based on the fact that he was unwilling (after some time) to discuss the affair or put any effort into improving the marriage. He seemed to be a person who was using his marriage only as a home base from which to pursue his own independent life, not to have a marriage, a friendship and a loving, growing relationship with his wife. Although it has not been easy (the divorce road), she lives with peace that she has made the right decision, and like me she shares the sentiment, her husband’s affair has become the best thing that ever happened to her. It was a sound eye-opener to an intangible she had been wrestling with for sometime. Her marriage had not been what a marriage should be. For years she had been plagued by sadness, loneliness and disappointments, but you stay in your marriage and keep working on it, don’t you? The affair (not the affair itself, but her husband’s unwillingness to talk, acknowledge his fault and put effort into rebuilding) shone a spot light on what was truth.

Spouse’s Ambivalence

While many spouses, who have had affairs, do not decide to leave the relationship, they often seem like they don’t care, unwilling to put energy and effort into rebuilding the marriage. Another woman in our group shared that when she is actively implementing ‘tough love’ principles and boundaries, her husband does what seems right (or at least enough to make it appear so to outsiders). He will attend counseling or support group meetings, yet he remains distant. As soon as things seem a bit better, and she relaxes a notch, he slips right back into the old unhealthy patterns. The question she must ask herself is, for how long is she willing to participate in this relationship dance? How long is long enough before he should have gotten his act together and be putting effort into the relationship of his own initiative. In this situation the unfaithful spouse seems oblivious. This woman reported that her husband thinks their marriage is great right now, yet he doesn’t participate in activities and responsibilities at home (unless it is demanded – at which point he puts in a bare minimal effort), neither does he care to ask her how she feels about their marriage. He seems self-centered.

The reality is that after your spouse cheats, many times the person who has had an affair doesn’t really know what they want. They may not want a divorce, but they may not want to give up the affair either. Most people, who are still participating in an affair after their spouse knows about it, are simply living in the moment, and completely ignoring their need to choose between the marriage and the affair. It is very difficult for a person who is waiting for a spouse to choose between the marriage and the affair to think clearly in the moment, but thinking clearly is exactly what is needed.

Advice from Others

There are two camps, those who feel spouses who have had affairs should never be forgiven and therefore the marriage should be ended after an affair, and those who say the marriage vows are a covenant, it is ‘for better or for worse’ and the marriage should be saved at all costs. As far as the covenant is concerned, I agree, it’s a covenant (which means an agreement or a promise), however, unless I misheard the minister in my excitement on my wedding day, I thought I remembered part of that promise being pledging to ‘be faithful until death do us part.’ As far as I can tell, after my spouse has had an affair, I no longer have a promise; rather I have a broken promise. Unless the promise is sincerely remade, I think all anyone has after an affair is a broken promise, not a promise. There is a difference. What those who believe you should stay in the marriage ‘no matter what’ seem to be ignoring is the lasting impact this experience has on most people. It is certainly possible for a person to eventually put this behind them, but it is neither reasonable nor desirable to bury reality. The situation must be dealt with. Broken hearts must be mended.

Consider the Children

Studies have proven that divorce after your spouse cheats has a long-term effect on the lives of children. That being said, it doesn’t mean keeping the marriage together is always actually in the best interest of the children. Judith S. Wallerstein in her report entitled ‘Second Chances,’ reports “To recognize that divorce is an arduous, long-lasting family trauma is not to argue against it. Divorce is a useful and necessary social remedy. And the fact is that most divorces with children are not impulsive…Most worry about the effect of divorce on their children. There is considerable evidence that a conflict-ridden marriage is not in the best interest of the children. There is evidence, too, that children benefit from the dissolution of such marriages.”

My husband and I have often compared our own childhoods, and discussed who was worst off. I grew up in a broken home and yes it had a huge impact on me, long into my adult life. My husband’s parents stayed married and committed to each other; however, they fought constantly and degraded one another often in front of the children. I, at least, had peace in my home. My husband did not. As mothers I believe we are modeling to our daughters how to do relationships. If we allow ourselves to be mistreated by our husbands, we are teaching our daughters, by example, that this is okay. Would we be satisfied if one day our daughter’s husband treated her the same way we allow our husband to treat us?

Other Factors

There are other factors to consider after your spouse cheats such as finances and social impact. Unfortunately, if your spouse has an affair and you therefore decide to pursue a divorce, some people will blame you for the failure of the marriage, since you initiated the divorce, rather than considering the factors that led you to that decision. But are we going to let the uninformed, unfeeling and judgmental attitudes of others hinder us from seeking happiness in our future after the pain of infidelity?

Even here there is a benefit. We get to find out who our true friends really are. Many times seeking divorce will mean the loss of mutual friends we had while we were married, however, the friendships that remain after the divorce often develop greater meaning, quality and depth. I can honestly say that my best friends are people who I have had the privilege of weathering a storm with. This is where depth is developed and you discover what the friendship is really made of. On the flipside this depth and quality is also there to be developed in the marriage after an affair. An affair can actually be the storm that brings forth unprecedented intimacy and quality in a marriage, but it takes two. Unless your spouse is also willing to go there, you can’t have it.

Guidelines for Making Your Decision

  • Make your OWN decision.
  • Do not rush the decision.
  • Get as much information as possible.
  • Do not make this decision based solely on emotional factors, nor solely on practical factors.

Questions to Help You Decide After Your Spouse Cheats:

  1. Is your spouse willing to talk about what happened, to try and learn from it, to avoid future affairs and to improve the marriage overall?
  2. Is there a willingness to acknowledge the fact that attractions to the opposite sex are normal and will likely happen again in the future
  3. Is there a plan for ongoing discussions regarding how these future temptations will be handled?
  4. Is there a commitment to honesty and communication as a basis for your marriage, rather than simply a promise for future monogamy?
  5. Is there evidence of willingness for ongoing honesty on topics other than affairs? (If there is not honesty about other issues, there is little likelihood that there will be future honesty about affairs.)
  6. Even if there is little evidence of the above at this time, does it seem reasonable to think that you will be moving towards these things in the future? Change of this kind doesn’t happen overnight, but there needs to be hope for the future.

In the final analysis, each person is responsible for making their own decision (regardless of the opinions of friends, family, professionals and the general public), because they have to live with the choice they make. It takes strength and clear-headedness to assess the situation and do whatever is best for you.

Email your questions or comments to Brian and/or Anne info@beyondaffairs.com

Is staying in a marriage after an affair stupid?

Is staying in a marriage after an affair stupid?  By Anne Bercht

Question: Dear Anne, The issue that has concerned me currently is the constant political talk on the news of late, about spouses who decide to stay or reconcile a marriage after an affair has been discovered and calling those spouses “stupid” for doing so (without any acknowledgement of the many differences in each situation, or the capacity for healing and keeping families together). How do you approach these harsh and uninformed judgments many have to deal with?

AnneBercht
“The weak can never forgive, for forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” – Ghandi

Answer: The ability to forgive and reconcile comes from a place of maturity, wisdom, intelligence and strength – nothing less. It takes greater strength of character to rebuild a marriage after an affair, than to just give up and quit. Smart people are able to refrain from making emotional decisions, seek wise counsel, and discern the difference between a marriage worth staying in, or one that it is best to leave.

If you really love your spouse, and your spouse expresses genuine remorse and is willing to do their part in rebuilding the marriage, there are greater rewards in staying than there are in giving up. I wonder how can those who just throw in the towel like big babies, giving up what they really want in life because there is a major obstacle in the road, have any self-respect?

In my situation, the other woman was bound and determined to marry my husband. I don’t blame her for the affair. I blame my husband, but in my case she was the pursuer in the affair relationship. She wanted my life. She was banking on the fact that as soon as my husband told me of the affair, I would be so mad that I would just throw him out, making it easy for her to take over my life.

How could I consider myself to be intelligent, if after eighteen years of marriage, I allow some other woman to waltz into my life and walk off with my husband, breaking up my family and taking my children’s father away from them without taking the time to see if my husband would choose to learn from his mistake and become a better man.

If I view myself as a woman who is worthy of deep love from a man, how can I not even be willing to give some time to my decision of whether or not I want to stay?

If I’m a smart woman who respects myself and is capable of thinking for myself and making my own decisions, why should I allow those in society who have never walked in my shoes to dictate my life for me based on their own ignorance of the topic?

The ability to forgive a spouse, heal a marriage and become a better stronger person through the pain takes a smart, mature, and good person (and if you are lacking wisdom, strength and maturity, you can develop them through the process).

One of the biggest rewards I earned for staying and working it out was the respect of our then teenagers. All of them came to us on separate occasions and in their own words said to my husband and myself, “You know what Mom and Dad, most of our friends parents are having the exact same problems as you and Dad have had, except they just give up, throw in the towel and quit. You and Dad worked out your problems. We really respect you for that!”

People don’t earn respect by giving up and quitting. They earn it by making the hard choices to do the right thing.

 

I’ve come to see that my husband’s affair was not something he did to me. It was something, which was a reflection of his weaknesses (not my lack of intelligence) and what he didn’t understand about affairs, before the subtle lure of friendship at work led him beyond the line. It was not an intentional act of disrespect towards me. He didn’t have an affair because he thought; “Now I’m going to disrespect my wife by having an affair.”

Of course if he was continuing to have affairs and I stayed in the marriage that would be different, but he has done everything any man could ever do not only to make it up to me, but to become a better, stronger man himself and to ensure it never happens again.

A vice president of a large corporation once made a huge mistake, which literally cost the company millions of dollars. As a result he (and everyone else) assumed he would be fired. But the President said, no way, I’ve just spent millions of dollars training this man. He’ll be the smarter for his mistake. After spending all that money on his education, I’m not about to let some other company reap the benefits.

So also my husband made the biggest relationship mistake possible for which he has paid a huge price and become a much better man as a result. Should I now just hand over the man I love to some other woman, now that I’ve paid the price in his learning experience? What would be smart about that?

Is it smart to start over with some other loser who hasn’t learned this lesson yet and have my heart broken again when I don’t need to? How could I respect myself for that?

A close relative of mine threw in the towel on her marriage in the emotion of the moment after discovering her spouse’s affair. Time went on. They both remarried. Twenty years have now passed. They are still in their second marriages, but they still talk to each other. My relative greatly regrets her decision. Both her and her first husband agree today that they love each other more than their current spouse, but confess because of making quick and emotional decisions in the heat of the moment without gaining proper perspective first, they are now stuck in marriages to second best.

Twenty years have past and the initial trauma and emotions have subsided. My relative says, “I couldn’t see it then, but we could’ve worked it out and we both would’ve been much happier. It was stupid to get divorced over the affair. I gave up what really matters to me in life, and I deeply regret making such an important decision in my life while I was on an emotional rollercoaster.”

I say how could my self-esteem be so low as to not be smart enough to stand up and fight for what I really want? How could my self-esteem be so low as to not be willing to grow into a better person and learn how to overcome major pain and learn how to build a better marriage? How could my self-esteem be so low as to be a quitter, without first giving my marriage at least a chance when I really love my husband?

Of course, everyone has a choice and I respect and promote individual choices especially when it comes to infidelity, but being able to forgive, heal a marriage and overcome problems is a sign of strength of character and is for heroes. The wisdom and love it takes to heal a marriage after an affair is something to be proud of. It’s not for the stupid, weak or faint of heart.

Daring to make your own choice and do what you really want is to be commended and respected. This is neither stupidity nor low self-esteem.

Is staying after an affair stupid? No, absolutely not! It takes a smart, sharp, and wise woman or man.

Being smart is not in the staying or in the going. It’s in being self-controlled, willing to seek advice, and then making a wise choice for you based on the unique variables in your situation.

No woman or man, who chooses to stay, with a good man or woman who takes responsibility for their actions and does the work to heal the marriage, should ever think of themselves as stupid.

Stupidity is letting other people’s opinions dictate what is right for you. Stupidity is breaking up a family if you love the person and they truly change their ways. Stupidity is suffering the financial loss of divorce and being alone, if you are married to a good person, who did a bad thing.

Kudos to all the SMART men and woman who were able to successfully rebuild a better stronger marriage on the other side. Enjoy your rewards! You’ve earned it!

What are the factors that affect length of time to heal from an affair?

June 14, 2016 Tele-seminar – What are the factors that affect length of time to heal from an affair?

This is one tele-seminar you do not want to miss!  Anne and Brian Bercht share transformational tips that will greatly impact your healing journey.

They share positive and negative factors that can affect the length of time it takes to heal.  The #1 positive tip, is finding good help as soon as possible.  Experts have said it takes 2-5 years to heal from an affair, but couples that are working with Anne and Brian and who have received their help early in the healing process, are being healed as quickly as within a year.  Since it does take time to heal, getting good, professional help early on is very important.  Another positive factor, for the unfaithful, is to end the affair right away.  Not ending the affair and being completely honest, can become a negative factor that makes the healing process longer.  Also, the betrayed staying in contact with the other person can be a negative factor as well.  They share many other tips such as understanding how personality styles, talking about the affair, self-care and much more can all be factors in the healing process.

They also open up the end of the tele-seminar with questions from participants.  Many great questions are asked and answered with Anne and Brian sharing their expertise on the affair healing journey.  Be sure to listen as maybe the exact question you have is asked and answered on this podcast.

 

What do you do with your anger, after your spouse’s affair?

This Week’s Question:

Dear Anne,

I will make this brief.  I get really frustrated and angry with my husband for his affairs and it seems to me that he plays the victim.  Not always but I don’t want to hear about his addiction.  Unfortunately my anger has gotten bad and I have been trying for several months to control it and not let it effect my kids.  I know sometimes it trickles down to them.  Just wondering what to do with this anger.

Anne’s Answer:

Anger is the appropriate response to injustice. For you, it’s not just your husband’s betrayal that makes you angry, it’s the fact that he is not taking responsibility for what he has done. He is not helping you heal, so you would be angry deep down about that. This may not be because he is “bad” or doesn’t care. Most likely he simply lacks the tools. He doesn’t know what he needs to do, and he doesn’t know how. People in general are not good at owning their mistakes. Blaming others instead of looking inside ourselves is the most commonly used defense mechanism towards the shame we feel, when deep down we know we have failed. Deep down your spouse most likely feels inadequate or unworthy.

The secret of handling anger healthy is to learn to find the right balance.

THE “NICE” PEOPLE

Some people hold their anger in, and try to be real nice, but in the end this doesn’t bring about the needed changes in their lives, so “nice” people are just ticking time bombs – not good!

THE “BITCHES”

Others lean towards emotional outbursts, where they do and say a lot of mean things that can do a lot of further irreversible damage. While you have been unjustly hurt, responding to the injustice with more mean and hurtful behavior, never brings about healing, for the relationship or for you personally.

Anger is actually addicting. There is a chemical release in the brain when we act in anger, that actually feels kind of good on the short-term like a drug. So people who act like this can easily be looking for things to get angry about to justify and bring on their next anger fix, and they don’t even know the are doing it.

This kind of reactive anger, while possibly feeling good temporarily, leaves us feeling worse, because we are acting against our own value system. We are mad at others because of their unethical behavior, and then we act mean, which is exactly what we are standing against, so deep down we diminish our own feelings of worth in the long run. Behaving in a way that is not in alignment with our own value system diminishes our self-esteem.

Worse yet, we don’t get the results we are looking for. The people, who are on the receiving end of our angry outbursts, tend to write us off, because of how “emotional” we are being. They, therefore, don’t take the angry person seriously, and thus they never make any of the desired changes in their behavior.

Anger is actually a good thing. Anger is merely your pain turned outward. (Sadness is your pain turned inward.) Emotional pain works the same way physical pain does. While painful, it actually helps us, because it is telling us something is wrong. For example, I put my hand on a hot stove, I will feel extreme pain resulting in me yanking my hand off the stove. This corrects the bad situation and saves me! The pain is a good thing! If I didn’t feel pain, I would burn my hand off.

So it is with emotional pain. It’s a good thing. It’s telling you that your life is not okay, and that you need to change something. That is the good purpose of your anger. To handle your anger healthy is to take that energy and to use it sensibly to bring about changes in your life, so you are no longer hurt in this same way. Your anger is given to you, so that you can take positive action to bring about needed changes in your life, so that you will be emotionally safe. It is also helpful to take some of this anger, and take positive action to help others, to provide comfort in the future for others who suffer in ways that you have suffered – like getting involved with BAN.

The healthy way of handling anger is to state it. For example you might say, “I am so angry with you right now.”

Physical releases for anger can be helpful, but you do these alone. You might go on a fast walk, or a fast stationary bike ride at the gym. Anger expressed healthy, does not do any harm to your relationship, to any person (not even emotionally), nor to physical property, nor to yourself, and it doesn’t even take on these risks.

When we are experiencing the emotion of anger, our judgment is impaired. So it is never a good idea to make decisions in this state. We may as well drink ourselves under the table, and make an important decision, because we are thinking that irrationally when we are angry.

But after your physical release of anger, you want to figure out, what can you change? Change that. What are you not able to change? Learn to accept that. Grieve your loss and move on.

WHAT IS THE CHANGE THAT NEEDS TO TAKE PLACE?

Usually we think in black and white terms of extremes, either this or that. When I work with individuals, I can help them discover a list of options. Seeing that you do have a list of options is empowering.

Some of the most obvious options include:

  1. Your husband stops having affairs, and learns to take responsibility for what he has done (instead of playing the victim and blaming you). Please know you cannot control your husband’s choices. You can create an environment most conducive to him making good choices, but there are no guarantees. I have seen some of the most beautiful, sweetest, smartest women with husbands who never choose to do the right thing. Likewise, I have seen wonderful husbands with wives who do not choose to end their affairs and do the right thing. (I’ve also seen betrayed women who have the most wonderful, remorseful husbands who are doing everything right, who still choose not to forgive.)
  1. You could get a divorce and move on.
  1. In some cases some spouses choose to accept the fact that their spouse will not be faithful, but feel it is still best to stay in the marriage, and they find other healthy ways to be fulfilled in life. And they get good at standing their ground, having good boundaries, and not being drawn into the unhealthy spouse’s craziness.

We can help you. I would ask your husband if he wants to be fully happy again, and to have a fulfilling marriage where the affair is behind you? If his answer is yes, ask him to join you on a coaching call with Brian and I. Let us take it from there.

With a heart to help,

Anne Bercht

How long does it take to heal?

May 9, 2016 Teleseminar-How long does it take to heal?

This is one of our best teleseminars EVER!  Get ready for an hour and a half of great healing information to make your journey less painful and more transformational!

This podcast addresses the following questions:

  • Anne answers many questions on the subject of how long does it take to heal?
  • What does “healed” look like?
  • Can your marriage really be better after an affair?
  • Are you ever really healed?
  • Q & A at the end of the podcast

Mike and Darcy share their stories as betrayed men and Chris and Jane share their stories as betrayed women.  They give advice for people brand new in their healing journey and the common theme is get good help and don’t suffer alone.  All of them and their relationships have personally benefited from some of the Passionate Life Seminars such as a Healing from Affairs Weekend and/or Take Your Life Back and/or Man of Honor and share what they learned by working with Anne, Brian and the Passionate Life coaching team.

This podcast will encourage, equip and empower you for your healing journey.

Melissa Nancy May 2016

May 4, 2016 – Melissa & Nancy, betrayed spouses, share their stories and what is helping them heal

This podcast addresses the following questions and topics:

  • What do you do when the “why I had an affair” reason doesn’t even make sense?
  • How does a couple discover the real why?
  • How do you get your spouse to be willing to get help?
  • Multiple affairs
  • Long-term affairs
  • Trickle truth
  • Lies after disclosure
  • Signs of infidelity
  • When you first find out

Melissa:

Melissa had been married 12 years, together with her husband for 15, when she learned about her husband’s affair. As she shares her story of recovery from her husband’s affair she is only 4 months out from her D-day. Her husband’s affairs involved pornography, 2 emotional affairs, strip clubs, a one night stand, one long distance affair, and most recently a 7 month affair with a coworker. Find out how to expedite your recovery and deal well with the early days as she shares her experience. Learn how to deal with the trickle truth, and most importantly, find out what she did to be doing so well only 4 months past devastation.

Nancy:

Nancy had been married for 30 years when it became evident that something was wrong in her marriage. She knew something wasn’t right and asked her husband over and over again if he was ok and if he was having an affair.  He just told her he wasn’t happy and that he wasn’t sure he wanted to be married anymore. She thought there must be something wrong with her.  After 18 subsequent months of counselling, he finally admitted to a 15 month affair with a co-worker.  Nancy describes the experience as heart-wrenching. Full disclosure is only 7 months ago. While her future is still uncertain, find out how Nancy is finding strength and insight to move through the pain, hurt, and anger towards healing, and hope for her future, with or without her husband. She wants her marriage, but not if she’s not going to be loved and cherished. She shares the things she wishes someone had shared with her early on.

Melissa Nancy, May 5, 2016, Podcast

Should I fight for my marriage?

QUESTION: Should I fight for my marriage? … or would doing so weaken my position? And perhaps even set me up for continued abuse?

ANNE’S ANSWER:
Okay, so let’s say, the person you love, has gone off the deep end and has not only acted unfaithfully, but above and beyond that is being mean in unthinkable ways. Their behavior is frankly horrible. And while you may or may not have seen previous signs of this unwanted behavior before, you NEVER imagined it could get to this. (And you are nice people!) What is  happening right now, does not make sense.

“I’m leaving our marriage, because you don’t like sports.”

“We don’t laugh together anymore.” (Really? What have they been doing lately to bring laughter to the marriage?)

“You’ve been controlling me.”

We have a saying at Beyond Affairs, “The thing is not about the thing.”

A person who is having an affair will often pick a fight in order to justify to themselves their wrongful behavior. To avoid painful self-reflection, they cast the finger of blame towards the innocent party.

Usually, the one leaving the relationship has spent months, and sometimes years, creating a distorted story in their heads to somehow justify their wrongful behavior to themselves.

When the wounding spouse tells the innocent spouse that they are ending the marriage, the innocent spouse usually feels shock, devastation, hurt, rejection, fear, loneliness, anger, depression, and confusion! Even if there have been problems (which there may not have been), you never imagined something like this could be happening to your relationship. You know the path they are choosing is not only hurting you, it is hurting them! The fact of the matter is if they continue like this they will end up being the one with the biggest hurt. If you want revenge, it’s simple. Let them go. Without knowing it, they are destroying their own lives.

Hurt and misunderstanding are having a hay day! Emotions are out of control.

It looks as though your relationship has ended. What are you supposed to do?

Today, I found myself reflecting on this question. When someone you love says your relationship is over, do you respect their boundary and wait? Give them time? Or do you fight for them?

I began thinking about all the “sensible” approaches one might read in books, hear from your friends, and/or your counselor. Heck! The advice you get doesn’t even match, and sometimes you just find yourself more confused than ever.

ANXIETY

You find yourself, asking yourself the question: What’s wrong with me? What did I do wrong?

This is anxiety – worrying about the past. No doubt you have made some mistakes. Every human being has. That said, most likely, you have been a good wife, husband, mother, father.

Then you ask: What should I do? You are afraid – afraid of making a mistake, afraid of doing the wrong thing, afraid of losing the relationship, afraid of being alone, afraid of being judged, criticized, and rejected.

This is also anxiety – worrying about the future.

What you want to aim towards is to stop living in the past. Whatever has been cannot be undone, only learned from. Stop worrying about the future. Fearing the future only makes things worse. Aim to live in the moment. What are you feeling? Own those feelings.

RESPONSIBILITY

There is a responsibility continuum. Some people are irresponsible. They are the worst. They say mean things, blame others, hurt people, don’t keep their promises, get angry, abusive, and usually struggle with addictions. In short their lives create problems for the people around them, because they keep messing up. Their family is walking on egg shells.

Other people are over responsible. They say they’re sorry all the time, even if they haven’t done anything wrong. They show up on time, pay the bills, manage things, care for everyone, and say “yes” all the time. These people are great to be around, always so nice, always doing everything for everyone, yet they are equally out of balance.

Both the irresponsible and the over-responsible are wrong. Healthy lies in the middle. There is a balance.

If you are over-responsible, you need to move back to the center of the responsibility continuum, and stop carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Don’t do for others what they should be doing for themselves. Don’t fix everything. Say “no.” And speak up for yourself. You are not really loving people, when you allow them to mistreat you.

If you are irresponsible, you need to start taking responsibility, move down the responsibility continuum towards responsible. You are responsible for your own life. Quit blaming everyone else for the problems/hurts in your life. Get some help for your addictive behaviors. You think your, “I’m going to do life my own way” approach is a sign of your independence and freedom. What you don’t realize is the paradox. Your rebellious spirit robs you of the very freedom you are fighting for.

Self-control and responsibility give you your freedom. Being irresponsible keeps you in chains.

Most of the people who will read this article are the overly responsible … And they are in relationship with the irresponsible.

We teach people how to treat us. If we are not being treated with respect, we are responsible for allowing this to happen, for putting up with it. It is the responsibility of the over-responsible one to stop enabling the abusers behavior by continuing to be nice and quiet when we are mistreated. Most do this because they are afraid of conflict, afraid of being alone, or because somewhere along the line, they have developed a deep sense of unworthiness, and don’t see themselves as worthy of being treated better.

So now your eyes are opened. You can no longer remain in your state of comfortable abuse. Your relationship is hanging in the balance and you want it back! So you are reading this article, hoping that I’m about to lay out the magic formula.

You are unique, your spouse is unique, and the relationship dance, the two of you have been dancing is unique too. There is no one size fits all solution. There are, however, principles that make relationships work.

When the “shit hits the fan,” it’s time for common sense (a very uncommon thing), and time to follow your heart. After all, you are the only one who is going to live with the outcome of the choices I make. Desperate times may call for desperate measures.

Like the words in the Bon Jovi song …

“It’s my life. It’s now or never. I ain’t gonna live forever. So I’m gonna live like I’m alive!”

In almost every situation in my life, I make big decisions carefully. I do my research. I seek good counsel. Carefully and thoughtfully I proceed. I make sure my actions are above reproach, and that no one can point fingers of blame at me for the way I handled myself. And in most of life’s situations this is a good idea and serves me well.

WHAT DID I DO WHEN MY HUSBAND WAS LEAVING ME?

When my husband was leaving me for another woman, as I reflect back, I did not actually act this way. I didn’t have time! There was no formula. No one understood me and my husband anyway. (You can read about all this in My Husband’s Affair.)

In addition to getting mad (expressing that to God in my private prayer time), I took a stand in my heart. I said to myself, no way, THIS IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!!! In my case, I suppose I had two things to go on. 1. I knew my husband was a good man, and that he loved me. (That’s important, because it’s not true for everyone who will read this article.)  2. I have an unshakeable personal faith in God, and I know He has the power to hit my husband on the head with a spiritual 2×4 (big long piece of wood). I know how to pray. (And thank goodness, sometimes God hits me on the head with that same 2×4!)

What I did was to fight for my marriage … in the most unconventional ways, not written about in affair recovery text books, or approved by any counselor. I put on my sexiest clothes and showed up unexpectedly at my husband’s workplace. I asked a man (whom I knew my husband respected) to go talk to my husband. When my husband got angry because our daughter called the other woman and was shall we say, unkind, and my husband told me to get my daughter under control, I informed him that our daughter was not going to be required to behave at a standard that was higher than that which her own father required of himself. I suggested he get the log out of his own eye instead of worrying about the speck in his daughters eye.

I chose to confront the other woman (nicely and wisely with dignity). My husband forbid me. I did it anyway. (Last I checked it’s not that smart to listen to someone who is not in their right mind at the moment.)

When my husband told me he was now going to be just friends with the other woman, I gave him an ultimatum. My ultimatum letter was neither angry, nor full of threats. It was a letter full of love, truth and dignity. But it didn’t pull any punches. “If your “friendship” with this other woman is so important to you, there is no time like the present for you to leave. If you want to be with me, this “friendship” ends now.” Was my husband, excited about this ultimatum letter?No he was not! Fighting for your relationship doesn’t mean your actions are going to make the other person happy/happy, not initially. You have to understand, when someone is going off the deep-end, rarely do passive, saintly words of kindness, shake them out of their insanity.

I enrolled myself in university. I bought new clothes.

I made my husband accountable by telling a small group of close friends and family.

I was bold, fearless, and courageous. What did I have to lose? (I was already losing it, in my passivity!)

THIS IS IMPORTANT TOO – WHAT I WAS NOT DOING

I did not yell and scream. I did not embarrass myself. I did not shame my husband. I did not use foul language. I did not wrap my arms around his leg when he tried to leave. (It seems strange to need to say, but others have tried this, and may mistakenly think this is fighting for the marriage. It’s not. That’s being unattractively needy and lowering your value.) I did not defame my husband publicly. I did not create an unpleasant scene at his workplace. I did not give away (or throw away) our money and/or possessions. I did not act irresponsibly. I did not break any laws, hurt anyone, damage property, or harm myself. I did not seek revenge. (Really there is a part of me that is revengeful … but I’ve really learned if you leave revenge up to God, he does it better.)

SO SHOULD YOU FIGHT OR SHOULD YOU WAIT?

Fifteen years later, this week, from a healed and restored position, and with many years experience helping others, today, I asked my husband, where do you think we would be now if I had not fought for our marriage? What would you have done?

Here is his wise answer:

We really don’t know what we would do in any situation that we have not actually been in. We might think we know, but all too often, if it ever comes to it, we find ourselves not doing what we were sure we would. But what he has observed is this:

If the person you love is “ending your relationship” and you do not fight for it, if they are an “engager,” engagement makes them feel loved and cared for (even if the engagement is an argument with swear words). Disengagement makes them feel like you don’t love them. It can make someone feel like you don’t care.

When the abandoned person fights for the relationship, it either has a positive effect or it’s neutral, having no effect.

When the abandoned person waits passively, it either has a negative effect or a neutral effect.

So you cannot change another persons behavior, make up their mind for them, bully them or shame them into doing anything, but fighting for the relationship has a potential for positivity, and at worst is neutral.

Just remember that “fighting” for the relationship means putting out bids for connection with strength and dignity. It means being courageous, bold and valuing yourself.

Bullying, shaming, being mean, threats, anger, aggressiveness, hitting someone, belittling, or desperate behavior IS NOT “fighting” for your relationship. Instead they are signs of your own character weaknesses and are damaging towards your relationship.

It’s your life. It’s your relationship. It’s your future. You cannot control another person. You cannot force someone to love you, or to be kind to you. But you do get to decide how you will respond to the person you loves wrongful behavior towards you.

You ask: Should I fight for my marriage?

You get to decide. Don’t be over responsible. Don’t be under responsible. Don’t be anxious. Don’t beat yourself up about the past. Don’t worry about the future. Live in the present. Own your feelings. Follow your heart. Don’t let pride keep you stuck.

We care about your story. Please feel free to write to us at info@beyondaffairs.com or call 360-306-3367.

Be strong and courageous!

Anne Bercht

For Men Doing the Right Thing – Podcast

April 28, 2016 Teleseminar – For Men Doing the Right Thing

FOR MEN: FOLLOWING THROUGH ON DOING THE RIGHT THING

“For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do!”

Do you ever struggle doing the right thing? Do you ever struggle not doing the wrong thing? Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to get things right? Or, are you ever confused about what to do?  This teleseminar is for YOU!  Listen to Brian Bercht and other men who have struggled with doing the right thing, but are now on the path to being men of honor for themselves, their wives and their children.

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then this article is for you.

I, too, struggled with knowing what the right thing to do was. But my greatest struggle was DOING the right thing. And coming in a close second was my challenge of NOT doing the wrong thing.

In this podcast, hosted by Brian Bercht, four men on the Beyond Affairs, coaching and mentoring team, share insight on how they have pressed through difficulty and character weaknesses to do the right things consistently.

To my surprise, virtually everyone, both men and women, struggles to do the right things and avoid the wrong things in affair recovery. So don’t despair! You’re not alone! And you can move beyond this.

The affair recovery journey is one that is made up of many counter-intuitive actions, actions that don’t make sense, actions that could appear to make things worse, actions that cause us to feel uncomfortable, actions which may be contrary to the latest internet blog or latest twitter post. These counter-intuitive actions are not always recognizable for men, nor are they easy to do. However, the more a person practices these actions the more one begins to see the positive results. Rewards, progress, and forward movement soon appear in that person’s life and marriage.

Tammie’s Story – Rising Strong

April 18, 2016 Teleseminar of Tammie’s Story – Rising Strong

This complimentary teleseminar is about how you can rise strong even when you are still in the middle of your story, even when your marriage isn’t saved, even when it looks like you are headed one way, and then your journey takes a turn against your will in a way you never wanted to go. How do you rise strong when what you don’t want becomes inevitable?  Anne Bercht interviews Tammie and she shares an amazing story of her personal healing journey.  She knows what it takes to stay in a marriage and heal after an affair and she also knows what it takes to leave after there has been another affair.  She shares how she felt like a hero for staying the first time and a hero for leaving the second time when her husband wasn’t willing to do the work the second time around.  Tammie shares that an  important part of her story is that she always worked on herself so she was able to handle whatever her husband did or didn’t do as she learned how to not get her identity from him and what he does or doesn’t do.

This is a wonderful teleseminar with great information about healing and taking your life back after an affair.  Tammie is on our staff as our Relationship Development Director and Assistant Director of BAN and she has so much wisdom about how to heal with with your spouse or alone if your partner isn’t willing to do the right things now.  Enjoy this hour plus real-life story which also includes a time of question and answer at the end of the teleseminar.  Tammie would love to hear from you and help you with your own healing journey.  Feel free to call our office at 360-306-3367 and let us help you.