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!

When your spouse works with their affair partner

Question: What do you do when your spouse works with their affair partner?

Anne’s Answer:

It’s bad enough to discover that your spouse has been unfaithful, and even worse to realize they work with their affair partner, making ongoing contact inevitable. When your spouse works with their affair partner, and you both desire to heal your marriage, it becomes confusing to navigate and adds fuel to the fires no doubt burning between you, because step #1 to healing a marriage after an affair is no contact with the affair partner. So what do you do?

On a side note this goes both ways, both the unfaithful and the betrayed need to have no contact with the affair partner in order to heal the marriage. This includes all forms of interacting; seeing each other, texting, phoning, stalking the affair partners Facebook page, and even getting information about them through a 3rd party. In addition, the unfaithful partner needs to consciously choose to stop fantasizing about this person. Even ongoing “dreaming” of them is a form of contact. While we don’t have control over the thoughts that come into our heads, and if you’ve had an affair, and had a strong attraction or connection to that person, you will have thoughts about them, but you can consciously choose not to dwell on those thoughts, but instead focus on what you are going to do to heal your marriage and love your spouse that you’ve hurt.

Many of the couples whom we have the privilege of working with, the unfaithful spouse felt they were “in love” with their affair partner/s. But those feelings are not about the person, like you think. They are about the effort you are putting into the affair relationship, as well as about the reflection of yourself that you see in their admiring eyes. When you put that same effort into your marriage, things will begin to change, and you will begin to have those feelings for your spouse again. Feelings follow effort.

It is also important for the betrayed spouse to end contact with the 3rd party. You are not going to be moving forward well in your marriage if either of you are allowing the 3rd party space in your marriage, by continuing to engage them, and thus think about them. Some betrayed spouses insist that the 3rd party is the only place to get reliable information about the affair. I understand … but that’s telling isn’t it? Because if your spouse is doing the right things, you will be able to get the truth from them directly, and getting it from them will work towards healing your marriage. It also might be noted that the affair partner could also be lying to you. After all, they are an enemy of your marriage, and if they desire to be with your spouse, feeding you information that will upset and harm you is in their best interest. It’s just not smart to consider your enemy a good source for reliable truth. I do understand that there may be exceptions to this rule. If you are stalking your spouse’s affair partner on FaceBook, stop it!

So what do you do when your spouse works with their affair partner?

HONESTLY CONSIDER THE OPTION OF CHANGING THAT WORK SITUATION

Honestly explore the option of leaving that company or position and finding other work, or if there is a possibility that the affair partner could be offered a position elsewhere in the company, or a settlement to leave. Most couples we work with who are healing their marriage after an affair initially consider this option an impossibility. Eighty-five percent of the people who seek our help are in America, and the largest percentage of the rest are also in prospering first world countries. I always wonder, why these individuals feel that their personal talents and ability are limited to only one place in the entire country, the only job for them is with the affair partner?? Really? America is a free country with many, many opportunities. I do understand that some people do highly specialized work, and those who have seniority and benefits (golden handcuffs) that are hard to give up. Don’t rule this out before exhausting your possibilities. If you can see yourself as a person with options it greatly helps.

STOP FIGHTING EACH OTHER & UNITE AGAINST YOUR COMMON ENEMY

If you wish to heal your marriage when your spouse works with their affair partner, it is essential that you stop treating each other as adversaries with opposing views. Instead begin to see yourselves as allies with a common goal. Become a WE, you and me against the world. Don’t say, I want this and he wants that. Instead start saying “we”. We both want to heal our marriage. We both want to make our marriage safe, and rebuild the trust that once was. We both want to find an answer together. Etc.

One of the most powerful things an unfaithful spouse can do, if he or she is really serious about healing their marriage after an affair, is to say to their spouse, “Honey, I need you to know that you are much more important to me than my job.” He or she may add something like, “I am scared. I don’t know where else I’m going to get a job, and I’m afraid of the financial repercussions for our family of me leaving my position, but I want to get away from the other woman/ other man, as much as you want me to. If you want me to quit, my job, I will because you are more important to me than my job.” And really mean it!

The message is powerful. Many times that is all that is needed. The betrayed partner may not want the unfaithful to quit their job. (After all that is going to affect them financially as well.) But for the betrayed, to know their spouse would quit their job, if they wanted them to, goes a long way towards healing. This gesture can make all the difference.

Others have taken these radical measures and quit working with the affair partner. These couples greatly expedite their healing. Generally, they also find new employment in due time that puts them in a better financial position than before. Call it what you will, but God tends to take good care of those who are willing to do the right thing, especially when right thing requires radical measures.

IT’S IMPORTANT TO SEE THAT YOU DO HAVE CHOICES

If you both agree it is best to stay in this employment situation, it goes a long way in making it manageable when your spouse works with their affair partner, when it is seen as a choice. There may be no easy options, but you do have other options. It’s important that it is not something the unfaithful is forcing on the betrayed. You may not change your work situation, but changing your mindset around it, will make all the difference. People are unhappy when their ability to choose has been taken from them.

There are other things that can be done to manage the situation when your spouse works with their affair partner. Here are some options:

CREATE GOOD ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THE UNFAITHFUL PARTNER

Make yourself accountable to a superior. Couples who have taken this route find it highly effective. Most couples dealing with a workplace affair do not consider letting an a manager, boss or board member know for fear of losing respect or being fired. However more often than not, the opposite takes place. It sets an example of humility, integrity and authenticity. That superior may be able to move the affair partner to a separate building or floor, or position, or change work teams etc. to minimize the chances of contact.

Joe was the CEO of a large company. When he came to us he was sure he had to keep the fact that he’d had an affair with someone in the company a secret or he would lose his position, as well as the respect of subordinates. Joe and Mary worked hard to heal their marriage, and would have considered themselves healed, when Joe had a 2nd affair in his company. Mary decided to leave Joe, but then Joe did something amazing. In the face of losing everything, he confessed to his board, and made himself accountable. He told them that he wanted to create a culture of integrity (with no affairs) as well as a culture of truthfulness in the organization, a culture where someone who makes a mistake (even severe mistakes) if they are sincerely remorseful can be supported in overcoming the failure and living better on the other side.

By making himself accountable to the board, he won (rather than lost) their respect, the culture of the company was greatly improved, and when Mary saw the changes she decided to give Joe another chance. Their marriage (and his company) are doing great today. It’s surprising what hypocrites we can be in North America. We profess high values, but we don’t live by them. When someone tells the truth, we punish them for being truthful, which works against the very ideals we profess to be of such importance. It would be better to realize that human beings fall sometimes, and foster an environment where we can be real, and by so doing help each other to live up to those standards we believe in.

HAVE A BRAIN STORMING SESSION TO DISCUSS THINGS THAT MAY MAKE THE BETRAYED PARTNER FEEL SAFE

Here are some ideas:

  1. Have the unfaithful put a picture of their husband/wife up in their workplace, also a family picture.
  1. The unfaithful spouse can call their husband/wife often throughout the day to reassure the betrayed of their love for them, and to create reassurance about their whereabouts.
  1. Have the betrayed partner come up to the workplace for lunches and other appropriate visits, so they have a presence there.
  1. Ensure there are not situations where the unfaithful and the former affair partner are alone together, especially not behind a closed door!
  1. If the unfaithful partner is a man, you can look for events like the company Christmas party and make a point of not only having your wife there, but looking at her in such a way that the whole room knows you are completely taken by your wife and there is no other woman for you. If the unfaithful partner is a woman, there are similar strategies that can be used, considering the gender differences, and what is important to the husband.
  1. Discuss appropriate boundaries with the opposite sex that you both can agree on. You may need a mediator to help you navigate this conversation, because it can easily become hurtful or volatile, but with good help, you can bridge those initial gaps. It’s easy to find ourselves stuck in black and white thinking that seems insurmountable when emotions are running high.

Be sure any contact with the former affair partner is reported to your spouse immediately and deal with it together.

Your goal is not only to create safety and trust for your spouse that you’ve betrayed, but you are also working towards restoring their dignity.

When your spouse works with their affair partner, the goal is to become a team, working together to make the betrayed partner feel safe and loved.

What is the Christmas Miracle you need?

2015-12-16 16.04.15At Christmas time, I think of the many people whom I have the honor and privilege of helping through the “dark valley of the shadow of death” – the pain of dealing with an affair in your marriage.

When we were surviving our own affair-healing nightmare fifteen years ago, I remember wondering if it was even sane of me to believe that I could ever know a single day of happiness in my life again. Oh, but I did. Many, many days of joy above and beyond what I could imagine.

I share these words with you now as an encouragement. You may be in your darkest hour, but you can and you will get through this. I hope you will avail yourself of the more than 100 articles, and more than 50 podcasts available right here (see left side bar) covering every aspect of affair recovery. You can and you will get through this.

I want you to know that we really do understand. Since our own recovery is now fifteen years past, when we reach out to help you, we are relating from our memory and from the experience we’ve gained in working with hundreds of couples and individuals over the past twelve years to restore their lives after infidelity.

We know that one of the things people have greatly appreciated about our approach is how personal it is. To us, you are not a number or a “case file.” You are a unique, real, hurting person who deserves to be treated with respect. In this regard, we also have come to realize that from time to time, people like to hear something personal and current from us. With this in mind, here is our Christmas message to yo.

BELIEVING FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!

We have been anticipating Christmas with extra excitement for some weeks now. Our three children have grown up, married, and we have four wonderful grandchildren. When Brian and I were young, we didn’t have extended family close, and so many Christmas’ were spent with just the five of us.

So for me it’s extra exciting to have multiplied our five into twelve. Since the kids have grown up and built their own families, I no longer get to spend every Christmas with them, because sometimes they spend it with their in-laws, and sometimes they’ve gone on a vacation Christmas. But we’ve agreed that every 3rd Christmas would be a Bercht family Christmas. And this is our year!

My father passed away this year. Since he outlived everyone in his life, except his kids, a funeral would have only involved a handful of family, and since we are spread out living in Copenhagen, Chicago, and Washington, we decided it made most sense to have a memorial for our father over the holiday, when it was actually feasible for us all to gather.

So we are hosting fourteen people for Christmas this year. For us, that is a big Christmas gathering, and I could not ask for a better Christmas present.

The one thing I’ve desired more than anything throughout my life is to be part of a family. You see, growing up my parents were divorced, and I was raised by my single parent mom. My core family growing up was my mom, one brother, and me. (Other half brothers came later from future marriages of my parents.) I was always jealous of kids who had a mom and a dad, and a seemingly “normal” life.

When I married Brian, I finally had that family I longed for.

Family means the world to me, and throughout my life, I’ve done my very best to be a good wife, and a good mother, and to nurture an environment filled with laughter, joy and peace, where each member would feel loved, respected, encouraged and safe.

My successes have not come without failures too. There can be a gap between our intentions and our execution. No one is perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage or a perfect family.

Just because we’ve overcome many trials and obstacles (including an affair in our marriage), done our best to do the right things, and even achieved a certain amount of success, does not mean we are exempt from trouble, difficulty and pain. At times we still have these. They are, after all, part of life.

Life ebbs and flows like the seasons. I am thankful for seasons of blessing, and I know that I also need to be thankful for seasons of suffering, because it is in the seasons of suffering that our character has a chance to grow. That is easier said than done. As my good friend Gayle likes to say, “If suffering is supposed to make me a better person, than just leave me the jerk that I am.”

While looking forward to this wonderful big Christmas of fourteen with such joy, I was hit with a trial, seemingly out of nowhere. I felt like I was punched in the stomach. The pain was huge. It tested my faith. I wanted to do something, but there didn’t seem to be anything I could do. Anything I tried to do or say seemed to make matters worse. I felt powerless.

As I decorated my Christmas tree, I felt melancholy. I tried to use my “tools,” the ones we encourage others to use, like counting your blessings, and living in the present … but my mind kept going back to the people who were hurting, then to the things that hurt me, and then to my knees in prayer, because sometimes you just need a miracle, and there is nothing else you can do, because you’ve tried everything, and nothing has worked, and all your efforts seem to futile. You become desperate.

With each ornament came memories of Christmas’s past, the good Christmas’ and the bad Christmas’. Relationships! Why do we hurt one another? Why so much misunderstanding? Things left unsaid, that should be said? Things said, that should never be said?

But God!

To believe, if suffering comes to us, (and it does) that things can be turned around, that what seeks to destroy us can, in fact, become a stepping-stone to a better life. Give it two years, and see where you are at then.

We here at Passionate Life Seminars and the Beyond Affairs Network would like to stand now with you and believe for your miracle.

So what miracle do you need this Christmas? What is your greatest need? What is the deepest desire of your heart? Write it down, right now. Consider your list, carefully.

This Christmas, if you would like, we would like to stand with you and believe for your miracle, so we are inviting you to share your request for a miracle with us, and if you would like, we will pray for you.

To share just send an email to info@beyondaffairs.com . We assure you that your email is confidential. The only people who have access to emails to this address are myself, Brian, and Passionate Life Coach Tammie, who has worked right along side Brian and I for ten years.

With a heart to help,

Anne Bercht

Affair Prevention 101

November 18, 2015 – Affair Prevention 101

Anne and Brian Bercht share 11 keys on Affair Prevention.  They share what they learned before Brian’s affair and what they learned after Brian’s affair on how to prevent an affair understanding that the only person you can truly prevent from having an affair is YOURSELF.  Great information on how to protect yourself and your relationship from an affair.  The goal of this teleseminar is to equip and empower you with great resources to have a great relationship.  Great relationships happen by design not by default and understanding and living these 11 keys can set you up for success.

The number one key is being aware and learning that anyone could have an affair…one of the biggest vulnerabilities is thinking “I would never have an affair”.  Anne and Brian share a lot of information from their past experience and from the hundreds of couples they have worked with.  For couples wanting to go deeper in their understanding and implementation of these keys, Passionate Life Seminars and coaching offer a roadmap on how to use these tools to the best of your ability.

They end the call with questions and answers and go deep into what to do if you are wanting to prevent more affairs after an affair has already happened.  Anne and Brian share amazing insight and resources to help every marriage be better and stronger.

How to Forgive an Affair

November 4, 2015 – How to Forgive an Affair as part of Affair Recovery

ONE OF OUR BEST TELESEMINARS EVER!  What everyone needs to hear for the affair recovery journey.  Forgiveness. Acceptance. It is one of the hardest things to do, when the way that you’ve been wronged, has hurt you so deeply, that you feel as though you’ve been stabbed in the heart with a knife. It’s so hard when the wrong involves someone you were close to. Betrayal. Exclusion. Being disrespected, misunderstood, wrongfully accused, and basically discarded as if you were a piece of worn out clothing.

During this teleseminar Anne Bercht explores how do you forgive? Let go? Move on? Heal? And sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself!  Teleseminar ends with some great questions from people just like you are are trying to heal and find a way to forgive their spouse and/or themselves.  Be inspired and encouraged by this transformational teleseminar!