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.

Following through on doing the right thing

A+BPassionateLife-54-e1398714452719Hey gentlemen this article is meant for you. I came across these words and felt that they summed up how we can feel. 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?

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.

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.

Struggling to do the correct thing is not just for men, nor is it exclusively for those who have acted unfaithfully. It is just as relevant for unfaithful women as it is for the men and women who have been betrayed. It is important to understand that everyone is solely responsible for his or her actions, and nothing that someone else has done to them gives them license to act inappropriately. I’m reminded of the words of Victor Frankl, who wrote, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, when he said, Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” which basically lets us know that we can’t be blaming our bad actions on someone else behavior.

Our failure to do the correct thing can be rooted in a number of deeper issues, some of which may require longer-term professional help, and if this may be you, then by all means get this help. However, for the majority of us, we find that there are a few common factors, which hinder us from doing what we need to do. Lets take a look at 4 of these.

The first factor, which hinders some of us men from doing the correct thing, and still leaves us doing the wrong things, has to do simply with our lack of awareness and understanding. Sometimes a man doesn’t know what he needs to do to in order to make things right or to help things get better in his relationship. Perhaps he hasn’t taken the time to figure it out or considered that there might be some other way of behaving. He can be stuck in a belief that he isn’t required to change anything about himself, or that things will ‘just’ work it out on his own, or that he doesn’t need to do any changing and if there are any changes to be made then they are with his spouse.

However, if you are reading this, then you are not likely to be one of these individuals (unless you are married to such a man). For those that may feel like they are in a relationship with a guy like this, keep reading as some of the other factors may play a bigger role in his life than you might have guessed.

On a side note, it is important to understand that for many men who gain some new knowledge or awareness on how to behave differently, they often can feel more shameful once they have understood how inadequately they acted. These ‘new’ awakenings may trigger a man to shut down and self-loathe and quit trying. Depression could set in.

A second factor that can hinder a man from doing what he knows is right, while often repeating actions he knows aren’t right, will be his own levels of doubt, not just doubt that the action works, but also doubt that he has what it takes to do it. Skepticism. Second-guessing. Yes, ‘Butting’. And other forms of reluctance get in the way of a man engaging in practicing these new skills.

There can also be a sense of pride, not needing anything or anyone to tell them what to do. Our male pride and conditioning tells us that we don’t really need outside help to solve our problems. Frankly, asking or seeking out direction from others can reinforce a sense of weakness and even failure, which then keeps us stuck in the behaviors we know we need to adjust.

In addition, even if a man has learned to seek out help or to ask for advice, he may be reluctant to engage in the actions that are laid out for him. He may tend to second-guess the counsel he hears, doubt that the advice will really work, and/or be suspicious if what he hears will genuinely result in him being able to do what he knows to do. He may even have tried a few things to correct some of his actions, yet he still finds himself slipping back into old and bad habits. The suggestions or advice may not have had the lasting results he was hoping to obtain.

A third factor is that a man who wants to do the right thing will often face opposition, in one form or another from the person he’s trying to change for. Some men hear what they may need to do and may have even seen it work for others and even try to do what’s right, but as soon as he faces some opposition or a person doesn’t react like he expects, he just throws in the towel and quits trying. He is like the seed that is scattered on shallow soil, which takes root quickly and sprouts up, but when the winds and heat of adversity arrive, the plant suddenly withers and dies. The shallowness of the soil prevents the plant from flourishing. As with the plant, so it is with some of us men. We lack the depth of strength to continue on in spite of the heat we face. So we give up and quit trying.

The fourth factor is unquestionably the most common theme that plays out in the lives of each man who struggles with consistently doing what he knows to do. It is a man’s propensity towards Isolation, Independence and Self-Reliance, which leads us to deny the loneliness most men feel today. We don’t have anyone who will encourage, challenge or correct us.

Men today are lonely and isolated and, to a large degree, friendless. Yes, many of us have hundreds of ‘friends’ on Facebook, or may have thousands of Twitter followers, or may even have a fairly active social life, but if the truth were told, most don’t have anyone that they can be truly genuine with. Men today have abandoned connection for convenience, choosing to forgo any close relationship with another guy, and instead replace it with fantasy football (or similar).

In the hundreds of men I’ve spoken with over the years, when asked how many close male friends they have, nearly all say none! Yes, there are some that do have some good friends in their life, but the vast majority do not have one single man they can really be honest with! If I were to ask their wives how many close male friends their spouse has, the reply is generally zero.

As men, we are conditioned to believe that we don’t need anyone close, we don’t need any help, we are the captains of our own ship, we are in charge or our life, and we don’t need to have another man close to us. Some have replaced close male friendships with close female relationships, which in the end, usually causes hardships, disappointments and failures.

Sadly, it is even worse for the for the man who has acted unfaithfully, because the sense of shame, humiliation and/or embarrassment is so great that he can’t find anyone that may accept him. For the man who has been betrayed, they also don’t feel like anyone understands them or knows their pain.

The solution to the problem of not doing what we want to do and continuing to do what we don’t want to do is found in having some genuine relationships with other good men so that we can be encouraged, challenged and corrected from within a safe context of acceptance and understanding. An intelligent man is one that understands his success is dependent upon the association he keeps. So finding good men and connecting with them will be one of the most important factors to consistently keep doing what is right.

Finding these good men will also help us with the sense of loneliness that most men face today. We all need someone to lean on, and the sooner we have the courage to admit this, the sooner we begin to find a cure for our shame, isolation, needing to keep up appearances, and our loneliness. We all need someone to tell us that we are good enough! Your past does not need to be your future!

Stay Strong,

Brian Bercht

 

Why should I work on myself? – My spouse had the affair!

Dear Anne – I keep reading that I should “work on myself,” but my spouse is the one who had the affair! They are the one with the problem. Why should I do the work? I think they should be the one working on them. Why should I work on myself? – My spouse had the affair!

A+BPassionateLife-41Anne’s Answer:

You are correct. Anyone who chooses to have an extramarital affair is responsible for that. It was their choice – not yours. You are not the one that stepped out of the boundaries of your relationship. They did.

Here it needs to be clarified that there is a whole genre of people in our society today that believe that monogamy is unrealistic, and that all people have affairs.

I’m reminded of a documentary that CNN ran on affairs back in December of 2006. At that time me, Peggy Vaughan, and members of BAN (Beyond Affairs Network), spent months working with CNN producers to help tell the side of affairs, that shows the devastation and pain caused to all, far beyond the married couple, because the affair partner gets hurt too, the children get hurt, friends and family members get hurt, people lose their jobs, their money and their reputation over it.

CNN is a news channel and had a reputation for sensible news reporting – not sensationalism. After extensive scrutiny by Peggy Vaughan, producers convinced us this would be a responsible program that would educate the public, so we joined them in their project. When the final program aired, we were horrified by what we saw.

In any one-hour television documentary, there tends to be 4 segments, approximately 12 minutes each in length. CNN gave one entire segment to the doctors who studied apes and discovered that apes were not monogamous, and therefore concluded that humans could not be monogamous!

I don’t know about you, but I expect my husband to function at an intelligence level higher than that of an ape. What apes do, is not the standard by which I govern my life!

CNN gave another segment to a woman who had written a book on how to have affairs and not get caught. (I refuse to repeat her name or book title, because I will not advertise for her.)

Only two minutes was given to the work of Peggy Vaughan, and BAN and the fact that monogamy is more than realistic, that many couples enjoy lifelong monogamous marriages, that these in fact are some of the most fulfilling relationships, and some of the most successful and happy people in the world today.

Step #1 to monogamy is, believing that monogamy is realistic. If your spouse’s belief system is that “ALL” people have affairs, than obviously they will have affairs, and if that’s not okay with you, you should probably run!

Our clients are good, moral people who meant their wedding vows, and love their spouses, and somehow found themselves crossing moral boundaries they once believed they never would.

When people have affairs, they tend to “lose their minds.” They become people they didn’t use to be. We can’t even recognize them and feel as though we are married to an imposter. It doesn’t make sense. (See my article “Are unfaithful spouses mentally impaired?”)

So we ask, usually with a sense of panic, how do I change my spouse? (Help! They’ve lost their mind!)

We can clearly see what they are not seeing. They are throwing their lives away!

So we tell them what to do. We tell them what books to read. We send them links to articles like this one. We try to change them.

But … IT ISN’T WORKING!!!! In fact the more you try and tell your unfaithful spouse what to do, the further we push them away (usually). Things get worse – not better!

Worst of all, you, as the betrayed spouse, you feel worse, if that’s even possible.

The reason you feel worse is because you are trying to control what you cannot control, and by doing this, you are reinforcing your own sense of powerlessness. And you are diminishing your self-esteem further.

The relationship patterns that emerge between betrayed and betrayer resemble the relationship patterns between alcoholic and codependent.

Behind every addict there is a codependent (or an enabler), and the behavior of someone who is wrapped up in an affair/s often bears a striking resemblance to the behavior of an addict.

So …

How do you stop trying to control your spouse, and start caring for yourself instead?”

While you are not responsible for your spouse’s affair, you are married to this person. You want them to change, but they’re not. So what are you going to do?

You say, “I’m not going to a program, because I’m not the one with the problem.” I’d beg to differ with you. I think you do have a problem. You are married to someone who is not doing the right things. That IS a problem!

Personal growth is a quality of life issue. We are all people in progress. I’ve yet to meet a perfect person. Successful people avail themselves to professional coaching and personal growth programs, as well as reading, and listening to educational recordings on an ongoing basis. We can all be better. We all have blind spots. We all need good people in our lives.

As human beings we are complex, and emotional. Relationship skills would be easy to practice, if it wasn’t for our emotions. By working on ourselves, we develop our emotional awareness, our emotional muscles, and our emotional vocabulary. As we do, we find ourselves taking steps up towards healthier more fulfilling relationships, and this includes with our spouse.

By working on ourselves, we will learn to recognize our own unhealthy patterns. We are all unique and different, so these unhealthy habits and ways of thinking can be different for everyone.

Some may be domineering, controlling, and intimidating and not even be aware of it. Others are too nice, and don’t have a voice in the relationship. Some are abusive, mean and out-of-control in their anger. Some spouses can take on roles in their relationship that resemble a scolding mother and a shamed schoolboy. Sometimes we can think we are cheering our spouse on, saying, “I believe in you. You can be better!” And not realize that WE are making them worse, because what they are hearing is, “You’re not good enough for me.”

Whatever the case, as long as we focus on the other person, we are focusing on what we cannot control. Every relationship has a dance. He does this, causing her to respond like that, causing him to respond like that etc. When you begin to work on yourself, you can begin to change the dance in your relationship, which will force the other person to change their steps too.

When you begin to change, don’t expect your spouse to be excited about it initially. You are upsetting the applecart! But the applecart needs upsetting, and your changes (assuming they are healthy ones) will have the highest chance of motivating positive changes in your spouse.

My initial reaction to my husband’s affair was typical. I tried to change him too. It took me months to finally accept that I couldn’t change him, that he might not change, and that we might end up divorced. It wasn’t all up to me. I did not have control. So I enrolled myself in university and started fulfilling my purpose instead. This became the turning point in our recovery.

Where all my other efforts to change (teach, tell, control) my husband failed, when I started focusing on making me better, he got scared. Why? Because he realized that I was growing, and if he didn’t grow too, he was going to lose me. It wasn’t until I began working on myself, and quit working on him, that he started working on himself.

By working on yourself, you maximize your chances that your marriage will be reconciled, and stronger and happier on the other side.

Not every relationship is going to play out exactly the same. Not every marriage is salvageable after an affair. Not every unfaithful spouse will choose to change, even if you do everything right. By working on yourself, you empower yourself, and care for yourself, and become more attractive, and strong, and minimize your own blind spots, and engage more intelligently. This creates an environment that is most conducive to your spouse choosing to change and become better too.

And if they don’t … if they don’t have it in them … your marriage may just end in an unwanted divorce. Sometimes our lives do take turns that are not the direction we hope for. But if you’ve focused on your personal growth, you’ll be ready to make wise decisions and cope well with whatever comes your way. When you focus on personal growth, with or without your spouse, you will not only get through this, you can have a fulfilling, happy, purposeful life on the other side!

PS – I care about your situation. Please feel free to write to us at info@beyondaffairs.com  We want to help you!