Should I Fight for Marriage?

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

Should I fight for Marriage

Should I fight for marriage?

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 has the unfaithful spouse been doing lately to bring  more laughter into the marriage?)

“You’ve been controlling me.”

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

The Finger of Blame

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.

Emotions are out of control

Hurt and misunderstanding are having a hay day!

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.  Sometimes the advice you get doesn’t even match, and sometimes you just find yourself more confused than ever.

ANXIETY – Worrying about the Past & Future

You find yourself, asking 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.

The Irresponsible & Over Responsible

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.

How to work on yourself…

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 a 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.

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 that tells you how and if you should fight for your marriage…

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.

Desperate times may call for desperate measures

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 you make.

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!!! I am going to fight for my marriage!  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!)

The fight for marriage

What I did to fight for my marriage … in the most unconventional ways, was not written about in affair recovery text books or approved by any counselor. Here are some the things I did to fight for my marriage.

  1. I put on my sexiest clothes and showed up unexpectedly at my husband’s workplace.
  2. I asked a man (whom I knew my husband respected) to go talk to my husband.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.)

The Ultimatum Letter – Love, Truth & Dignity

5. 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, 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.

6. I enrolled myself in university. By doing this I was growing as a woman instead of focusing all my energy on what he was or wasn’t doing.

7. I bought new clothes.

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

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

WHAT I WAS NOT DOING – (This is important too)

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. (This seems strange 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.)

SHOULD YOU FIGHT OR SHOULD YOU WAIT?

Nineteen years later, from a healed and restored position, and with many years experience helping others, 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 marriage, 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.

Can I change the other person?

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.

The decision and choices are yours

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 love and their 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.

Be strong and courageous!

Anne Bercht

How to Recover from Multiple Affairs

“I googled ‘How to Recover from Multiple Affairs'”

Sarah from South Carolina shares her experience at Healing from Affairs“Going into the weekend we had no idea what to expect. My husband was worried our story would be the worst case and that he would be the “bad guy” of the weekend. I felt as if we would be the worst case and it would cement all the reasons why I would need to leave the marriage. I found Beyond Affairs one night while googling “how to recover from multiple affairs.”

“I just wanted some sort of hope that it was actually possible. Beyond Affairs came up in my feed and I saw the next seminar was within a 2 hour drive and only a month away. I messaged the site that night and got a reply back from Brian Bercht within two days. I grabbed onto that lifeline and showed my husband.

“My husband was surprised I was looking for help, and maybe a tad bit hopeful as well. Up until we were pulling out of the driveway, I wasn’t sure if we should just cancel. What was the point? My heart was broken, and sadly this wasn’t the first time- how could I ever trust him again?

“I had so many questions that I had little hope of getting answers to: How could he do this? How could he do this, again?! How did a person cross so many boundaries? How could he not understand how everything related to one another? Did he hate me? Did he love me? Did he even like me? What was wrong with ME? Why should I stay? Should I stay?

“When I found out that my husband had another affair, I was in a state of shock. I was beyond angry and hurt, I couldn’t eat much, I slept very little, my personal hygiene was very much on the back burner.

“I remember walking into the hotel, my husband and I wondered if they would have “Healing From Affairs” signs all over the place. We worried that EVERYONE would know the reason we were there, to our relief that was completely not the case.

“Brian and Anne Bercht understand what we were dealing with. They have walked in our shoes and they are professionals and discrete.

“During the seminar my husband and I had so many lightbulb moments we probably could have lit up time square. I, the betrayed partner was validated in my feelings and told many times that nothing I did caused his affairs. It was not my fault. I was also able to see how my husband got to this point. And I was even able to gain some empathy for him. That one I never saw coming.

“Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t feel sorry for my husband and I wasn’t ready to forgive him by time we left, but my husband and I both left with something we went there for- hope & tools. We were given many tools and were also reminded we wouldn’t be going the next few weeks alone. Brian and Anne did calls with us weekly helping us continue to grow and heal as a couple.

“Today, a little over a year later I can honestly say without a doubt, that if it were not for the help of Anne, Brian and their team we probably wouldn’t be together – or maybe worse than that, we might still be stuck. Being stuck is awful, and I highly encourage those who no longer want to be stuck to reach out to Beyond Affairs. It has been one of the best things we’ve ever done for our marriage. My only regret is that we didn’t do it after the first affair.”

  • Sarah, South Carolina

To Find out more about the Healing From Affairs Program, click on this link or call 360-306-3367 or email info@beyondaffairs.com (All messages are handled with utmost personal care and confidentiality.)

For more information on how to recover from multiple affairs, click here.

For information about free support groups: BAN – Beyond Affairs Network

 

Healing a Marriage after an Affair – 9 Keys

9 Important Keys for Healing a Marriage After an Affair by Anne Bercht

Healing a marriage after an affair

Healing a marriage after an affair begins with hope. You need to know and believe you can move beyond the pain and get the life you want. It does take two. Some people think you can never get over it, but hat’s not true. True healing is remembering the affair, and no longer having pain associated with the memory.

Our journey was a lot harder than it needed to be, because we did not have the tools and the roadmap that we are now able to give you.

When we were healing our own marriage (now nineteen years ago), we sought professional help. While some was helpful, we found much of it to be damaging.

Once healed we looked back on our journey and thought, “What is wrong with the world? Affairs are such a common problem and nobody seems to know how to really help people.”

The Healing from Affairs program we have now developed deals directly with the heart of the matter and cuts straight to the core of affair issues.

The affair is not part of our lives anymore. Although helping others heal has become our life’s work and passion, we don’t discuss Brian’s affair anymore.

Leaning into the pain is key to getting beyond it. Trying to bury it, skirt around it, or avoid the issues will keep you stuck, and prolong your agony. Today Brian’s affair is just an asterix in our life story together. It’s no longer the whole book. The same can be true for you. We’ll show you how.

TO THE UNFAITHFUL:

Step up to the plate, and take responsibility. The affair will change your relationship. It can change it for good or for worse. Which way it goes from here depends on what you decide to do (or not do).

Prior to the affair our relationship was like walking into Best Buy in the home theatre section seeing the highest quality big screen TV with film footage of the Grand Canyon playing. The colors are so vivid and clear. Likewise, our marriage was a very good thing.

Today our marriage is no longer like looking at the Grand Canyon on a 60” top of the line TV, instead it’s like standing at the edge of the cliff at the Grand Canyon. Although it was good before, it’s incomparably better today. How did we get here? We both had to grow up!

If you don’t want your marriage to be like it was before, don’t worry, it won’t be. The same is not an option once an affair has happened. It will be better or worse, never the same. Where you go from here is your choice.

AFFAIR RECOVERY 101: TWO BIG MISTAKES TO AVOID!!!!

To the unfaithful: Do not minimize facts about the affair. That’s lying. Be utterly truthful. For example, if your spouse asks how long was the affair, and it was a year, don’t say it was 6 months long thinking somehow that will hurt your spouse less. It’s going to hurt them more, because you are lying when you claim to be telling the truth. They will find out!

To the betrayed: Be careful with your reactions. Don’t do and say things in your anger that you can’t take back, which can cause deep wounds, drive your spouse away, and further damage your relationship. Don’t lose your dignity by lowering yourself, or embarrassing yourself. And by all means, don’t break the law. You will not feel better at all if you end up sitting in jail! We know you are deeply wounded, and we know that what you are suffering is not fair, but inflicting more wounds is counterproductive to your own healing and well-being.

It’s our experience that when it comes to healing a marriage after an affair, mistakes made after disclosure can often cause even more damage than the affair itself. Couples who heal the quickest and with greatly reduced unnecessary agony are the ones who get our help early in the journey rather than later.

9 Essential Steps to Recovery

1. No contact with the 3rd party. No emails, text messages, phone calls, waves across the parking lot, smoke signals, facebooking, or putting a message in a bottle, throwing it in the ocean and hoping the affair partner finds it. This goes for the betrayed spouse as well. No contact! The 3rd party is an enemy of your marriage. Your enemy is not a reliable source of information. (If the unfaithful works with the affair partner, and changing this situation is not a possibility, we can help you find a safe way to deal with this.) Healing a marriage after an affair requires that the affair partner is no longer given insight into what is or isn’t happening in the marriage.

2. Gain perspective. Seeing the affair not just as a personal offence against you, but rather as a problem of our society as a whole. How do you gain perspective? Educate yourself. Read books. Talk with others who’ve been through it. BAN support groups.

The perpetrator has to turn around and become the healer. Even so, the spouse who had the affair cannot be the betrayed spouse’s sole source of support.

To the innocent spouse: You are not to blame for the affair. You are not the reason why the affair happened. Unfaithfulness is all about the unfaithful person.

What about Communication?

3. Lots of talking. The unfaithful needs to be willing to answer questions about the affair. Tell the truth. We recommend often using a public place. We healed our marriage at Starbucks, because the setting creates safety.

Healing a marriage after an affair starts on the day of disclosure and when the betrayed spouse gets the whole truth.

When talking about the affair, emotions can escalate so quickly. Your communication skills are going to be taxed to the max. This is the reason why it’s so important to get extra communication training before engaging in these difficult post disclosure healing talks.

As a foundation, you need to understand your differences. Husbands and wives generally speak two different languages. It’s important to first understand yourself, why you think, act and respond as you do. Then to understand why your spouse sees and thinks so differently in a similar situation. In the Healing from Affairs seminar we show you how to make your personality differences an asset to your relationship instead of a hindrance. We teach you how to capitalize on your strengths and overcome your weaknesses.

Usually both people are talking and no one is listening. You are having dual monologues. In our seminar we teach you how to talk through difficult issues in a way that will leave you feeling closer to each other instead of doing damage to your relationship. A framework is given that makes talking about difficult issues safe. Those same talks that are probably now perpetuating damage in your relationship can be turned around to bring healing instead.

Understanding How & Why Affairs Happen

4. Discover the core issues behind “why” the affair really happened in your marriage. Brian was shocked that he had an affair because it was totally against his character. In our Healing from Affairs seminar we take you through a process to help you to discover the core reasons why the affair happened. Generally in the beginning when the betrayed asks, why did you do what you did? The unfaithful doesn’t really know the answer. That’s why the answers they do give are generally lame and unsatisfactory. We’ll show you how to discover the real reasons together.

5. Rebuild trust. How do you rebuild trust? The answer is easy. I can give you the answer in 4 words: Proven behavior over time. However, we consistently find this answer alone doesn’t satisfy people. In our Healing from Affairs Intensive we’ve put together a whole experience that helps couples understand how to rebuild trust. In our process we are able to break down “proven behavior” into clear, tangible, doable steps.

The Role of FORGIVENESS in Healing a Marriage after an Affair

6. Forgive. Forgiveness is a learned skill essential to healing a marriage after an affair. It comes neither easily nor naturally because it is contrary to human nature, which tells us those who wronged us must pay a price.

Forgiveness is not forgetting about it, condoning the wrongful behavior, or releasing a person from the consequences.

Reconciliation and forgiveness are not equal. In the Healing from Affairs Intensive we are able to teach you the skills both of forgiveness and proper apologies. It’s not just about the betrayed forgiving the unfaithful. Forgiveness goes both ways, because there are no perfect people and no perfect spouses, so even though the betrayed has not had an affair, there are still ways we’ve hurt our spouse and need to ask for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the final step to healing a marriage after an affair – not one of the first ones. Quick forgiveness is cheap forgiveness. Early in the journey it might seem unfathomable how one could ever get there. It’s wise, therefore, not to focus on the end goal when the journey has barely begun.

SEXUAL STRUGGLES when Healing a Marriage After an Affair

7. Rebuild sexual intimacy. It’s up to the unfaithful spouse to make the betrayed spouse feel loved, cherished, reassured and special again. There tends to be struggles from the betrayed picturing the unfaithful spouse having sex with the affair partner, and when this is happening it’s almost impossible to engage sexually.

To the unfaithful: Don’t expect the betrayed to respond sexually right away. Healing a marriage after an affair takes time.

Sex has many different purposes. One of the purposes of sex is to bring healing. We recommend, therefore, that a couple re-engage sexually as soon as they can without either spouse feeling violated.

How long does Healing a Marriage after an Affair take?

8. Patience. The healing journey is not a straight line from terrible to good. If you are expecting perfection from your spouse it’s not going to work.

One of the biggest mistakes couples make is getting caught up in how long it takes. As if you could say, you will be healed in 2 years, 3 months, 6 days, four hours, 11 minutes and 6.7 seconds. Each couple is different. It depends on the degree of the betrayal, the extent to which both parties have the right tools, avoid classic mistakes, devote time to the healing process, and the sincerity (attitude) with which both spouses engage.

If you are a betrayed spouse less than 5 months post disclosure stop reading. The following doesn’t pertain to you yet.

Separate Affair Issues from Marital Issues

9. Both spouses need to take responsibility for ways they may have failed each other in the marriage. It’s important to separate affair issues from marital issues. The unfaithful spouse tends to blame the innocent spouse for their affair initially. This is not true. In reality they are deflecting, often without realizing it. It’s easier to blame the other person than to take a look at our own failings. Even in a bad marriage, there are always healthy ways to deal with unhappiness in the marriage. An affair is not an answer to unhappiness in the marriage.

Brian came to realize that even if I’d done everything right before the affair, he still would’ve had an affair because the affair does not have anything to do with the innocent spouse and everything to do with the unfaithful.

The question is how long do you want to struggle? If you need help in these areas, don’t delay. Come to a Healing from Affairs intensive now.

Christa from Dallas, TX said:

“We recently attended a Healing From Affairs Intensive. We are still less than 6 months post disclosure. We’re not healed yet, but because of the weekend I have been able to forgive my husband, and we are now on the most positive healing path ever. I could not imagine being where we are at now without the weekend. The weekend made all the difference in the world for us. It gave us such awesome tools. We are in such a wonderful place just because we did the weekend. I just cannot say enough. It was worth every dime and so much more. I would tell anyone going through this, that if there is any chance you can attend, please, please, please do!” – Christa, Dallas, TX

What if your spouse is not yet doing the right things?

PS – If you want to rebuild your marriage, and your spouse is asking you for patience, asking for forgiveness and not yet doing the right things to heal the marriage, tell them sure, you’ll forgive and be patient, but they need to take a step to earn this. They need to call 360-306-3367 and ask for help. If they are a male unfaithful spouse, they can ask to speak with Brian Bercht. If they are a female unfaithful spouse, we will hook them up with one of our female coaches who once was unfaithful, but has ‘woman’- ed up and done the work to heal. Our coaches understand the feelings involved. All have lived it. All have restored their marriages and gotten to that “standing at the edge of the cliff” at the Grand Canyon experience. We can help you get there too.

PSS – Don’t hesitate to contact us for help. We’ve spent the last 19 years doing what others have called “impossible” and healing a marriage after an affair with great success! We can help you achieve “impossible” too!

Don’t hesitate. Find out more about our up and coming marriage seminars, because this is a place where you can find health and healing.

For information about confidential coaching with Brian or Anne click here.

Mental Struggles – Slaying the Affair Demons

Question: What was the silver bullet, that slay your affair demons – those mental affair struggles you have? Did you ever feel just apathetic? Last weekend was 33 years that we have been married. WE are, I am, four years past discovery day.  Do you at this stage get those sudden moments as if a snake was in your gut, as you look at your husband and visualize him with the other woman? Frequently when I suspect my husband may be reflecting on the affair, not the ugliness we want to see, but rather thinking of the details of the good time, I feel robbed. I think of these thoughts as affair demons. You know when people describe something as priceless? Well, even many of those priceless moments are now, not remembered as having value. How could someone so devoted to his wife and family have an affair? *(he says it was his ability to compartmentalize!) I’m feeling so disillusioned, fearing I may never feel the passion and security of being married to someone I am proud of. I hate feeling so disturbed.

Answer: I can’t say I ever felt apathetic. I felt like a warrior. I saw myself as in the middle of a war fighting for my life and my happiness. My mental affair struggle felt as if a great evil were trying to take over my life forever, plaguing it with unhappiness and apathy towards life in general as you mention.

Slaying the Affair Demons and Seeking Joy 

I didn’t want to become one of those negative, bitter old ladies that no one wants to be around. I had to find a way to get my joy back, and if I didn’t, I was going to die fighting.  But, I refused to settle for just getting by, unhappiness or a mediocre marriage was not an option (I would leave the marriage rather than be unhappy or just so-so.)

Part of this attitude to overcome my mental struggle, comes from my familiarity with a certain Bible verse. Jesus said (concerning mankind’s relationship with Him) “I know you well – you are neither hot nor cold; I wish you were one or the other! But since you are merely lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth!” Revelation 3:15-16

What Jesus is saying is “take a stand, love me or hate me, but don’t sit on the fence. The worst thing you can feel towards me is indifference: I don’t really like you, I don’t really dislike you, there’s nothing special about you, but there’s nothing bad about you either, you’re just kind of so-so.”

Don’t Settle on Feeling Indifferent

In relationships, that’s a nightmare. If you’re not going to feel really great about someone, really passionate, really committed, you’re better off to be fighting. At least fighting indicates some emotion and feeling (and caring). But to be indifferent about someone is real hatred. I was not going to settle for this indifference in my marriage. I was going to fight ‘til I had one or the other. You can’t be apathetic when you’re fighting. In my book, I depict the fight quite clearly. The mental struggle and slaying the demons can feel very real.

No, I don’t have moments anymore where I visualize Brian having sex with the other woman. Although this thought did hurt me, the thing that really hurt me, was the fact that he lied to and deceived me. It was the betrayal of trust that hurt the most. It helped to remind myself, that few people today are virgins when they get married, and we weren’t virgins when we got married. Maybe if we had been virgins when we got married, the sex-with-another-woman-vision would bother me more.

It also helped me to think, (and know) that the sex Brian and the other woman had together resembled  a couple of teenagers awkwardly struggling. The sex Brian and I share is fantastic and magical. It is like an ongoing symphony of lovemaking. The other woman can’t hold a candle to Brian’s experience with me in the bedroom. She was a cheap and unfulfilling substitute for what he genuinely desired with me. I know having been able to talk all these things through with Brian has really helped. Ultimately, there is just no way to turn back time and undo what has happened. It happened. I can’t change that.

Live in the Present Moment

Another thing that helped my mental struggle  and “slaying those affair demons,” was learning to live in the present moment instead of living in the past, which is really living in truth. What is past is past. It cannot be changed. But our past does not need to define our future. I live with and focus on what we have today. I accept that what has happened has happened.

Live in the present

I work hard to control my thoughts. A book “Feeling Good” helped me with this. I strongly recommend it. It is a book on overcoming depression by learning how to see things in their true light.

Complete the Puzzle 

Brian and I have spent hours discussing the affair, and Brian has answered ALL of my questions, many of these questions he has willingly answered over and over again until I finally got it. So I feel my puzzle is now also complete. There are no pieces missing for me. I get it. I understand it. I understand the affair to the same degree that Brian does. I would never have been able to heal the marriage if this had not been the case. Getting answers to all of my questions was essential for me. I also described this and how we did it in my book.

I know that Brian does not reflect on his affair as a good time today. He tells me (and I believe him) that whenever he thinks about the affair, he just wants to throw up, because of how he failed himself as a man, and how he failed me and our children. I guess the HARD WORK we have done in our marriage has really paid off. We had a good marriage before, but we had no idea it could be as good as it is today.

Seeking Genuine Intimacy

We both have grown in our own individuality and self-esteem. That has enabled us to disclose ourselves to one another on a much deeper and riskier level, but with that self-disclosure comes a far greater degree of genuine intimacy. It’s a wonderful place to be. Maybe share these thoughts with your husband, to motivate him. According to “Passionate Marriage” by David Schnarch the best sex and relationships are enjoyed by people in their 50’s and 60’s – obviously only the ones who do the work.

You ask: How could someone so devoted to his wife and family have an affair?

I’m telling you it’s possible and it happens often. It is actually perfectly possible for someone to be devoted to his wife and family and still have an affair. It is due to their short comings as an individual and their inability to even understand themselves, and their inability to communicate, to express their inner self and true needs to others. Because of this inability they have a vulnerability. The affair is like a drug that temporarily sooths these deeper pains which they themselves have been unwilling to face and deal with.

Use a Crisis to Figure Out your Inner Complexities

This is why it is essential for couples to do the work of healing in their relationship. They’ve got to use the crisis as a catalyst to figure out their own inner complexities and those within their relationship. Then they can change in the right places, at the root of the problem instead of dealing with outward issues. If the roots aren’t dealt with the outward issues just resurface in a different way. It is on what we do differently now that I base my trust in my present day relationship.

Brian now shares with me the inner stuff in his life that bothers him. He has learned to really understand himself (self-awareness) and how to communicate this with me. This is different (from our pre-affair marriage) and it feels good. I on the other hand, have learned to HEAR these things.  Even if I disagree or feel a bit hurt, I thank him for being honest and feel comfortable recognizing this difference in the way that we relate to one another.

 

 Don’t hesitate. Find out more about our up and coming marriage seminars, because this is a place where you can find health and healing.

For information about confidential coaching with Brian or Anne click here.

Recommended Reading:

Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch, PhD

Feeling Good by David D. Burns, M.D.

 

Why Marriage Matters & What a Good Marriage Means

Is it possible to have real love and passion in your marriage? Don’t people just get tired of each other and grow apart with time? Is monogamy realistic, or are we expecting something which is contrary to the way human beings are wired? Does sex get old and boring if you have the same partner for a lifetime? Is new sex better sex? Our culture keeps telling us marriage isn’t important, but let me tell you why marriage matters.

What if you’re recovering from the pain of an affair? Can you ever feel truly in love again? What does it take to get past the sadness? How do you rebuild trust? How can you forgive? Can a marriage be truly good again after an affair? If so what does it take? Most importantly, can YOUR marriage survive and come out even stronger on the other side?

Our culture questions marriage

People are asking why marriage matters, and the whole concept of marriage is being questioned by our culture. Some are becoming cynical and giving up, saying it’s unrealistic. Yet deep down, isn’t that what we all want? Don’t we all want a passionate and fulfilling marriage that includes a life partner who is our best friend? Someone we can share life’s ups and downs with?

Why Marriage Matters

An exhaustive study of today’s college students revealed this important truth: “They are desperate to have one and only one marriage, and they want it to be happy. They don’t know whether this is possible anymore.-The Case For Marriage, Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher, Page 3

Let us leave aside personal bias and look at the facts on why marriage matters.

“The evidence from four decades of research is surprisingly clear: a good marriage is both men’s and women’s best bet for living a long and healthy life.”

– Linda Waite, The Case for Marriage, Page 64

The following is based on years of scientific research by Linda Waite (and other researchers), and are documented in her extraordinary book “The Case For Marriage”.

Why marriage matters statistically

  • 93% of Americans rate having a happy marriage as one of the most important objectives.
  • When men fail to be good husbands, they often fail to be good men.
  • Being married (but not cohabitating – surprisingly) boosts your standard of living by a third.
  • Married couples have better mental health and greater well-being than never-married, cohabitating, divorced and widowed.
  • Professor Harold Morowitz of Yale University observed based on data collected in the Hammond report of 1963 (the one that resulted in the Surgeon General warning on all cigarette packages stating: Smoking is hazardous to your health) that divorce is as dangerous to a mans health as picking up a pack-a-day cigarette habit. (Linda Waite suggests perhaps condom packages should also contain a warning: Not being married can be hazardous to your health.)
  • “Statisticians Bernhard Cohen and I-Sing Lee, who compiled a catalog of risks that increased chances of dying, concluded that for both men and women, “… being unmarried is one of the greatest risks that people voluntarily subject themselves to.”
  • Studies revealed higher levels of depression among divorced people.
  • Widowed and divorced persons are about three times as likely to commit suicide as married people.
  • People who live together are less happy and less satisfied with their sex lives than married people. (This is research – not opinions.)
  • People who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce later than those who don’t.
  • Married people have more sex and better sex than singles do. (Based on extensive research – not someone’s opinion.)
  • If more money is your aim, getting married (and staying married) makes it far more likely that you will attain that part of the American dream.
  • The longer people stay married the greater their wealth accumulates.
  • When a marriage ends, the same process that worked to build family wealth now work in reverse to drain the savings account. Everyone suffers, husband, wife and children.
  • Getting and staying married is by far the best strategy for acquiring assets.
  • According to research not only were married people more sexually satisfied than singles, but married people who attend church weekly and married people who strongly believe out-of-wedlock sex is wrong, were much more likely to be sexually satisfied than married people with less-traditional views.

The meaning behind partner attraction

According to marriage therapist and author Harville Hendrix in his imago theory: “it’s no coincidence that you’ve attracted your partner; that person is there to help you do the work of recovering from old wounds.”

Relationships are not solely a romantic pursuit, but a spiritual partnership that’s meant to change how you see yourself and the world. As my husband, Brian Bercht, likes to put it, “your marriage is meant to help you grow up,” and growing up is a good thing. We need to stop seeing relationships as nothing more than an act of selfishness. This me-ism philosophy is robbing people of experiencing the true love they so desperately long for in the deepest place of their hearts.

What does a good marriage mean?

A good marriage is not about finding your soul-mate, some magical person who alone can make you happy. (I wonder how many people who were sure they met their soul-mate retracted that statement a few years into marriage.) A good marriage is about learning to “be” the right person more so than about “finding” the right person. True love is about giving, not selfish gain. It involves sacrifice and commitment and those who find it experience the best life has to offer. Everything of value in life requires effort. You get out of life in direct proportion to the effort you are willing to put in.

A good marriage is not a coincidence, and it’s not about being lucky, it’s about learning the skills and principles that make a marriage work. We educate ourselves in every other area of life. Why do we think having good relationships will just happen? In school we teach our children everything except the one skill that could do more for their personal happiness and well-being than any other, and that’s how to have a happy marriage.

Are you going to leave your marriage to chance?

Use a crisis as an opportunity to grow

If you’ve had an affair in your marriage, are you going to just give up and quit? If you never loved your spouse, if your marriage has been miserable throughout its duration, then perhaps there’s no time like the present to get out. Not every marriage is salvageable after an affair. But  if you and your spouse love each other, if you’ve shared happy years together, we suggest you use this crisis as an opportunity for growth. We did it and we’re not extra special. If we can do it, you can too. We’ll show you how.

In their book The Case for Marriage, Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher conclude:

“Marriage (not divorce) is the means to health, happiness, wealth, sex and long life. In love victory goes not to the half-hearted but to the brave: to those ordinary people who dare to take on the extraordinary commitment marriage represents.” Page 46, brackets mine.

 

 Don’t hesitate. Find out more about our up and coming marriage seminars, because this is a place where you can learn how you can make your marriage work!

The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially

For information about confidential coaching with Brian or Anne click here

 

Forgiving and Trusting

By Anne Bercht

Tele-seminar – Listen Now! – A View into the Mind of the Unfaithful

Tele-seminar – The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity
What defines an affair? Why do people cheat? How do you rebuild? How do you build a strong marriage in the first place? With expert Scott Haltzman, author of “The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity” – This is a great tele-seminar!!

 

Forgiving and trusting after an affair

Forgiving and trusting after an affair

Question: I found out today that my husband is still in contact with a woman he had an affair with. He says that he didn’t just tell me the truth, because he was afraid of how I would react. I don’t understand this, considering I had the evidence that said otherwise to his story of “no contact.”

We are supposed to be working things out, and I want to be forgiving and trusting? How can I be forgiving and trusting if my husband won’t be honest with me, and insists on lying? I’m thinking with the way things are going, we should be getting some outside help. The truth is I don’t trust him. He’s continually giving me reasons not to.

Any suggestions / advice?

Answer: Sadly your husband’s behavior is very typical and it doesn’t necessarily mean he is a bad person or that there isn’t any hope for your marriage. There is an unwritten rule among cheaters: “If caught deny it at all costs.”

My husband, Brian, also did this in some instances, where he did not tell me the whole truth to “lessen the blow.” At the time he felt it was to save me pain, in reality, later, he had to admit the real person he was trying to save was himself. The problem is later, when it comes out, it hurts far more than if he’d just told the truth the first time.

When coaching couples who are healing their marriage after an affair, Brian is very careful and thorough in how he explains to the unfaithful spouse the importance of coming totally clean and not attempting to “lessen” the blow by withholding the truth. This only makes matters worse and more painful for everybody in the end. Trust is restored to a marriage through proven behavior and truthfulness over a period of time. Your husband needs to understand this.

 

Forgiving and Trusting starts with breaking all ties to the affair

The #1 step to saving a marriage after an affair is: breaking all ties with the 3rd party as our book clearly outlines, and in some cases it may be necessary to deliver an ultimatum. (A word of caution here: It is wise to seek counsel before delivering an ultimatum. Timing and “how” it is delivered are important.)

I find people tend to read my book very quickly the first time and miss so many lessons. It’s not a bad idea (and many people do) to read it a second time slowly (now that you know what happens next) and highlight and underline things that you relate to, lessons you see, or things you’d like to discuss with your spouse.

In many cases it’s necessary to deliver an ultimatum such as the one I delivered to Brian on pages 190 – 193 of “My Husband’s Affair …” At this point Brian had already recommitted himself to the marriage, but informed me he was going to be “just friends” with the other woman. There is no such thing. For several reasons, it’s usually difficult for the unfaithful person to make this clean break:

1. In many cases is the unfaithful spouse has developed genuine feelings for the other person.

2. In most cases the unfaithful person is gaining something from the affair that is pleasant or meeting a need, and they often feel reluctant to give up this “good feeling” even though deep down they know their marriage is what they really want. As my own husband Brian describes it:

“I was looking for a way out of this affair. Deep inside I knew I loved Anne and I did not want to leave her. I had hoped that Dave would listen to how I was feeling and the things that I was hurting about. I wanted him to understand the fear I had about hurting Helen. I didn’t really want to spend my life with her, but wanted in my marriage some of that fun we had been sharing.” – Page 44-45, “My Husband’s Affair …

(Since Brian did make that decision to work on our marriage, we have been able to really listen to each other, and generate more fun and excitement in our marriage than Brian ever had in the affair … and that fun comes without hurting people and all the other painful costs of an affair.)

3. The unfaithful spouse doesn’t want to be perceived as a bad guy in their affair partners’ eyes, which unfortunately is pretty much unavoidable. They have without realizing it created a situation where it’s inevitable that people they care about get hurt.

 

How can I be a forgiving and trusting woman, if my husband won’t be honest with me, and insists on lying?

Being a forgiving and trusting person does not mean you become a doormat and allow people to mistreat you. Forgiving and trusting is not condoning wrongful behavior by continuing to live with it. We can forgive a spouse, but still make a decision to leave a marriage, because the other party is unwilling to change their behavior. Forgiveness and reconciliation are two completely different things. Don’t confuse them. It is unwise to trust an untrustworthy person. Trustworthiness must be proven over time.

Read my previous two web articles on forgiving and trusting:
Twelve_Steps_to_Forgiveness
How-To-Forgive

Also I recommend reading the book “Boundaries” by Dr. Cloud & Dr. Townsend.

The reason I gave my book the title I did is not because we healed our marriage, but rather because I became a stronger, happier person on the other side. My husband’s affair was the most devastating experience of my life, but it BECAME the best thing that ever happened to me. I hate that the affair happened, and yet, I would not want to go back to being the woman I was before, even though who she was was pretty awesome. Who I am today is so much better. This is what I recommend for others as well. You cannot change your past, but you can change your future. We do not have a choice over what happens to us, but no one can ever take away your right to CHOOSE how you will respond to the wrongs done to you by others. 

You can choose to become bitter or better

I chose to work on growing and becoming a stronger, more emotionally healthy person. A person does this by learning.

Knowledge is empowerment, and you will do everyone around you a favor, as you learn how to be a better person. I’m not saying you are doing (or have done) anything wrong, that you now find yourself in this painful place of facing your spouse’s affair. Affairs happen to good people in good marriages too.

When we focus on the changes others should make we are always disappointed, and we make ourselves powerless, because we don’t have the power to change other people – only the power to change ourselves. We should focus on the part we can control, the part we can change, and that part is ourselves. As we change for the better, those around us are faced with new choices. They either change for the better as well, or find themselves left behind as we move on to a brighter future without them. The best hope for your marriage is YOU becoming a better person. The Take Your Life Back seminar will help you to do exactly that.

“The difference between the person you are today, and the person you will be five years from now, depends strictly on the books you read and the people you choose to associate with.”

Forgiving and Trusting – with an emphasis on Trust:

The same principles apply to trusting. Trusting means you trust where it is appropriate to do so, it doesn’t mean you keep believing someone’s repeated lies when they aren’t making any changes. Trusting doesn’t equal being stupid. Trusting doesn’t mean you become naive or blinded to reality. Some people can’t be trusted. People who trust, do not trust untrustworthy people. They learn to discern the difference. When a person has had an affair, they have broken our trust and that is a serious offense.

 

How can trust be restored?

1. Breaking all ties with the third party.

2. Total openness and honesty. Therefore more lies will be a major setback. The unfaithful spouse needs to understand that if they are to stand a chance of staying with you they cannot afford anymore lying. The unfaithful spouse also needs to understand that telling the truth is not merely giving truthful answers when asked, it also means disclosing relevant information, even if they aren’t asked. For example, if there is contact with the other woman/man, that’s relevant and it must be disclosed regardless of whether the betrayed spouse happens to ask that question that day or not. If they are not forthcoming with this information when it happens (not later), they are lying.

3. Proven behavior. Always believe the behavior and not the words. Words are somewhat meaningless after an affair. Prove it by your behavior.

4. Consistency. Doing the right things for an ongoing period of time will rebuild trust.

If you do not see your spouse doing the right things, you should not trust them. That would be foolishness. There is a big difference between being a trusting person and being foolish. Should I give a known thief my pin number? Does it mean I’m not a trusting person if I don’t? No, it just means I’m also smart. An untrusting person is one who is suspicious when there is no cause to be so.

It is a good idea to seek outside help when healing your marriage from an affair. The best and most effective pathway to healing is through a Healing from Affairs Seminar.

Can wives prevent husbands from having affairs?


#1 – 
Can wives prevent husbands from having affairs?

#2 – How can you heal if your spouse (or you) have to have ongoing contact with their affair partner?

QUESTION: How can you heal if your spouse (or you) have to have ongoing contact with their affair partner? When rule #1 of healing from affairs is no contact with the third party? And we know that any contact at all with the 3rd party seems to keep the affair alive, if only in their minds?

ANSWER:

First of all, I want you to really challenge the assumption that there has to be ongoing contact. Are you sure? No other option? You live in America, the land of the free, but you are not free to make your own choice about this? (or you live in another free country?) But they work together? In all of America, all of 50 states there is not a single other business or community that could benefit from your talents?

Be aware that more than likely you are making a choice that the financial position you are in with the business or company you are in now is more important to you then healing your marriage. I’m not saying you have to leave or move, but I am saying many couples make this choice, at significant financial risk, and more often than not find themselves in a better position down the road.

Whatever you and your spouse choose to do about whether to stay in a position that puts you in contact with the 3rd party or not, it’s important that it is actually YOUR DECISION. If you choose to stay in this situation, knowing it is your choice to do so (and that you aren’t forced – you do actually have a choice) will be your number one coping mechanism to handle this.

Ongoing contact with the third party is not ideal. When an affair has taken place, the betrayed spouse has a deep emotional wound. Seeing this third party will reopen the wound every time and make the healing of the marriage much slower and more painful, just like if you constantly keep reinjuring a physical wound.

In addition the one who has had the affair generally has had some very real feelings for the third party. It takes at least three months of no contact to grieve the loss of whatever good feelings they were getting out of the affair. Even just passing this person in a hallway and making eye contact can serve to keep the affair fantasy alive.

Couples who take drastic measures to move jobs and communities and sometimes even states to prioritize their marriages and families are rewarded with healing their families much quicker.

Sometimes the reason for ongoing contact is on behalf of the children, you don’t want the children to suffer any loss because of the affair, so you expose yourself to this ongoing contact on behalf of the children. As noble as this is, I want to ask you, why are your children more important than your marriage? Why do they deserve to be happy but you don’t? Is it really in your children’s best interest if you aren’t able to heal your marriage because the ongoing contact just hurts too much?

It’s not impossible to heal a marriage if ongoing contact continues, but it is more difficult. If you make this choice, it is imperative that the betrayed spouse is making this choice, and not that you are feeling coheresed by your unfaithful spouse. Then reminding yourself that it is your choice will go along way in helping you handle the ongoing contact.

If you choose to stay in a position where ongoing contact with the 3rd party is inevitable, it is imperative that you and your spouse sit down and create guidelines you both agree on about how contact will be handled. Will your spouse phone you when he sees him or her? Will a boss or manager in your workplace be made aware of the situation, so as to be more sensitive to not having you work on projects together? If travel together is necessary, can you accompany your spouse on that business travel so they are not alone? What guidelines will work for you?

Regarding your own contact with the third party, make up your mind to act with dignity. Do not let them get one up on you, because you “lost it.” Be self controlled.

What can your spouse do for you now to make you feel assured, loved and special? Let them know what these things are.

In summary, how do you cope with ongoing contact?

1. Recognize and own the fact that it is your choice to do so. You are not being forced. Remind yourself of this choice whenever you or your spouse sees the third party.

2. Agree together on guidelines for how contact will be handled

3. Handle yourself with dignity.

4. The person who had the affair should reassure you of how special you are to them as much as you need it to get past this – and you should consider what they can do to reassure you and let them know directly. Don’t make them guess. Everyone is different.

5. As husband and wife know that this can actually serve to strengthen your marriage if you become an unstoppable team, you and your spouse against the 3rd party (and the world). Always stand your ground in defending each other, especially in public, even when you disagree. Don’t let others witness contention between you. Back each other up in public, then work it out privately at home.

6. Follow Shirley Glass’s advice (“Not Just Friends”). The betrayed spouse needs a window into the affair. The affair partner needs a wall into the marriage. Do not tell them anything about how your marriage and healing are going. They do not deserve to know. A wall, make it a wall.

 Can wives prevent their husbands from having affairs?

Brian’s Comments:

My wife could not have prevented me from having an affair because what kept me involved was how I was feeling around the other woman not how bad I felt about my marriage. Affairs are fantasies that cloud our thinking, the fantasy needs to end before we can begin to see/think properly, and clarity begins after the emotions of the fantasy subside – 2-4 months – after ending the affair.

It is a man’s personal vulnerabilities that cloud his thinking. As his thinking slowly becomes distorted he gradually gives himself permission to get closer and closer to moral boundaries he has set for himself. Eventually he finds himself across a boundary he once thought he never could. His feelings have lured him in. Black has become white and white has become black.

Having dealt with hundreds of unfaithful men who took the time to heal their marriages, has proven to us that though many initially blame their wives’ lack of meeting one or more of their needs, the underlying issues had to do with their own inability to deal with personal junk.

A man needs to take responsibility for his actions, physically and emotionally, otherwise he becomes a puppet on a string to any new woman around him. What allowed me to be drawn into an affair was my unawareness of how easily this could happen because of the numerous personal vulnerabilities I was facing, most of which I denied at the time. This did not mean that we had the perfect marriage, but my emotional needs, sexual needs and appreciation from my wife was extremely fulfilling. – Brian Bercht

Anne’s Comments:

No, I do not take responsibility for my husband’s affair. How can I be held responsible for something when I did not get the opportunity to participate in the choice of whether or not it was going to happen? On judgment day when I stand before God, one of the questions I will not be asked is “Why did you cause your husband to have an affair?”

Problems in a marriage do not CAUSE affairs. For every marriage with problems where an affair has occurred, I can point to another marriage with equal problems where an affair has not occurred. We all make choices, and must be held responsible for our own actions, not for the actions of others.

There are no perfect people, and there are no perfect marriages, so when we go looking for the problems in the marriage that allegedly caused the affair we can always find something, but have we found the root cause for the affair or merely a surface issue to blame?

There is a general assumption in our society that affairs are a symptom of problems in the marriage. This assumption is wrong. While problems in a marriage certainly cause those marriages to be more vulnerable to affairs, they are not the only reason.

Personal vulnerabilities (such as depression, insecurity, and work related stress) on behalf of the one having the affair also weigh in, as well as environmental influences, such as associating closely with people who are having affairs.

Worst of all, society seems to be ignoring the elephant in the room when it comes to reasons for infidelity; it’s enticing when a new person pays attention to you, no matter how great things are in your marriage.

The only one who can prevent YOU from having an affair is YOU, not your spouse. The only one who can prevent your spouse from having an affair is your spouse, not you. Your spouse is not a puppet on a string whom you can control by becoming “super need-meeter” spouse.

Of course women should work towards being good wives, as should men work towards being good husbands, but not under the assumption that by doing so you can prevent each other from cheating. We are all responsible for ourselves.

Is Gary Neuman’s research accurate and reliable? The Truth About Cheating – Why Men Stray and What You Can Do To Prevent It

Neuman’s study is based on answers given by one hundred cheating men, most of them going through divorce, and still involved in their affairs. After having worked with hundreds of couples who have experienced infidelity, I have yet to talk with a cheating spouse caught up in the “temporary high” of an affair, whose judgment is not impaired. The smartest, most intelligent, most successful men, CEO’s of large corporations, literally do the craziest things, tell the craziest lies, and often throw away their families, reputations, careers, health, cash, and futures while caught up in the affair la la land. Should these people now be considered the source of “cutting edge” research?!!

Of course cheating men blame their wives! If they didn’t they would have to take a look at their own issues.

The other half of Neuman’s study included responses from men who had never had affairs. While these men certainly need to be commended for their faithfulness, they are still not authorities on why others cheat. One could’ve asked Brian his views on what kept him faithful seventeen years into our marriage and he certainly would’ve thought he had the answers. He was sure he would never have an affair. Affairs were against his moral code. We had measures in place to protect our marriage from affairs (stemming from the limited knowledge we had at the time), and we had a good marriage, so clearly this could not happen to us. Right?

We thought we had the answers, but we didn’t. Men who haven’t experienced affairs are not authorities on why men have affairs. A reliable study would ask men who had affairs, but had ended them and had healed or were working towards healing their marriages. To ensure accuracy these men would need to have had at least eighteen months of no contact with their affair partners. In the beginning all unfaithful spouses have a tendency to blame their spouses for their affairs. It is not until they have made things right and distanced themselves from their actions that they are able to think clearly, look back and make accurate assessments about why they cheated.

If you are recovering from an affair, the best thing that you can do is attend the Healing from Affairs 3 day program for couples – whether disclosure was recent or years ago, you’ll find the tools and a roadmap to recovery – really recover!

Cheating spouse loves the other woman or other man?

What happens if the cheating spouse loves the other woman?

“Dear Anne – My husband says he loves the other woman. He’s says he is willing to stay in the marriage for the children and cares about me. His affair was long-distance with someone for 4 years – someone he’s known for ½ of his life, and their hearts were brought back together when they saw each other one fateful day. Is it hopeless to move forward in the relationship together?”

Anne’s Answer:

When I read questions like this, I realize so many of us are looking for that one simple magic answer. Unfortunately healing from an affair is not quite that simple. There are no one size fits all solutions especially when the cheating spouse loves the other woman.

Every person, relationship, and affair is unique. That said, the emotions people go through are sadly similar, and there are PRINCIPLES we can apply to every situation.

When surviving an affair, most people feel confused and lost, and rightly so! After all, how does one deal with something so difficult and complex as the situation described above?

Most affair survivors wish they had an ultimate wise being sitting on their shoulder that could just tell them the right thing to do with each little scenario that comes up, as you muddle your way through this journey. Well it doesn’t quite work that way.

What is needed is not a one size fits all solution, but rather WISDOM.

If you think your cheating spouse loves the other woman …

I HAVE SOME PRINCIPLES you can apply.

1. First of all, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A HOPELESS SITUATION.

There is always hope, however, the trick is having the wisdom to see where the hope lies for you. Don’t tell yourself your life is hopeless, because when you’ve lost hope, you’ve lost your will to do what it takes to find an answer for your situation.

2. YOUR CHEATING SPOUSE LOVES THE OTHER WOMAN/OTHER MAN – NOT!!!

They just think they do. After all, if the man above knew his affair partner for half his life, and if she is indeed the one for him, why didn’t he marry her in the first place? Instead HE CHOSE YOU as his wife.

Affairs are a fantasy

When people are having affairs, they aren’t doing real life with their affair partners. Affair partners aren’t dealing with kids, dirty laundry, hectic parent driving schedules, finances, in-laws, etc.

It’s easy to get those tingling sensations that we mistake for real love, when we meet someone new. We had these feelings for our spouse when we met them; the world stands still and all you can do is think about this person 24/7, because you are IN LOVE, or so you think.

Relationship science has proven that the tingles wear off in any relationship within 2 years. At that point we have an opportunity to develop a true love with that person.

Don’t think this means you have to settle for a lack of passion or tingles in your marriage. Smart couples learn the skills to keep their tingles for each other going.

“Cheating Spouse Loves the Other Woman” is a Counterfeit

You can learn to keep the spark in a lasting relationship. In any relationship, that lasts beyond this 2 year mark, you are going to be experiencing life together, and at times you’ll feel discouraged by the pressures of life, and become vulnerable to the fantasy of the affair, if you lack the self-awareness and knowledge to understand what’s really going on.

People who have affairs often mistakenly believe they are in love. If, however, they leave their marriage and marry their affair partner, it’s not long before the same problems or feelings they had in their first marriage pop up in the second one. Marriages that begin as affairs have a very low success rate.

3. NO ONE CAN TELL YOU WHAT TO DO.

No one else is living your life, nor lives with the outcome of the decisions you make right now (although they may be more than eager to tell you what to do). The key is to get as much perspective as you can by reading books, joining teleseminars, and talking to others who understand (by perhaps joining a BAN support group.) Then in the end, you decide what’s right for you. Even if this husband maintains feelings for this other woman, no one can tell you that you have to leave. YOU DECIDE WHAT YOUR BOUNDARIES ARE. What is and isn’t okay with you.

4. IF YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO LIVE WITH A MAN (OR WOMAN) WHO HAS FEELINGS FOR SOMEONE ELSE, YOU NEED TO HAVE FIRM BOUNDARIES (TOUGH LOVE).

Usually a person wrapped up in an affair, who wants to maintain the affair (or even hold onto feelings for this other person), is getting some needs met in the affair, and other needs met in the marriage. If no one forces their hand, they will maintain relationships with you and the affair partner for the rest of their lives. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS WEANING YOURSELF OFF AN AFFAIR. You have to go cold turkey or it won’t work.

My own husband told me that when he broke off his affair he felt like he was cutting his right hand off. It was that difficult. And for about 3 months he went through a difficult period of grieving the loss of the affair. During which time he was pretty mean to me. This is a normal pattern – not fair, but par for the course of affair recovery.

There is nothing fair, once there has been an affair!

If you are not prepared to live with a man (or woman), who is claiming to be in love with someone else, you’re going to have to give him or her an ultimatum.

The vast majority of people fail with their ultimatums, because they don’t deliver them correctly. Timing, and how you do it is essential.

Never deliver your ultimatum by just your words. It needs to be in writing.

Don’t deliver your ultimatum unless you are prepared to follow through with your plans of what to do if they don’t meet your requirement. (And you certainly need a plan of what that will be.) An un-carried out ultimatum is not an ultimatum. It is a threat. Threats weaken a relationship.

Because giving an ultimatum correctly may be one of the most important things you ever do in your life, I strongly recommend getting the help of a trained therapist, counselor or coach. It’s just much too important and difficult of a situation to try to do it all alone. If ever there was a time for a little outside support, now is the time. It’s hard to be objective when you are going through such an emotionally draining (and unfair) situation.

Sincerely,

Anne Bercht

©Copyright 2009 & 2019 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.

For information about confidential coaching with Brian or Anne click here.

Can my marriage survive an affair?


People ask: Can my marriage survive an affair?

Yes, it can. But will it? And is it worth it to try to save yours?

The truth is some marriages are salvageable, and some are not. Yes, marriages can, not only survive affairs, they can become stronger on the other side of the devastation, pain and chaos that comes first.

How do you know if your marriage can survive an affair?

My husband, Brian Bercht, and I have dedicated our lives to helping marriages survive and thrive after affairs. Over the past fifteen years, we have personally helped more than 2,500 couples restore their marriages. So is there hope? Yes, lots of hope. We ourselves have experienced 19 years of monogamy post affair. We feel we have the best of all worlds – a shared history, excitement and passion, security and deep friendship, and we got to keep all our money too! You can have that also, if you are both willing. That said, the largest number of recovery stories begin with only one spouse in the right head space. Something about affairs and betrayal can make both spouses “crazy” after disclosure.

Obviously, we do not have a 100% success rate. Although when BOTH spouses attend our programs and actually DO the things we lay out in our roadmap to recovery, there is actually a 100% success rate for those couples who both do the work.

The journey is not easy. Even so, Brian always says he is jealous of our clients because it can be so much easier for you than it was for us, because we are able to provide you with a roadmap and all the tools you need, through our Healing from Affairs Program. Your path can be much smoother, and you can avoid the painful, but common post-disclosure mistakes.

It’s important not to write off your marriage too quickly. Don’t make knee-jerk reactions while you are in the emotion of the moment. Chaos, more lies, trickle truth, intense emotions, misunderstandings, setbacks, and just plain stupidity are common in the early weeks after disclosure. So much so, that one could easily draw the false conclusion that “this marriage is hopeless,” when in fact it is not.

Five days after disclosure in our own marriage, I had my husband backed into a corner while I shouted, “Her or me? Make up your mind! I am not sharing my husband!” To which he responded by shouting back, “Her then!” And he packed a duffle bag of clothing and left. Any onlooker might have assumed that was the end for us. But it wasn’t. I was in a state of trauma. My husband was in affair fog. We were a mess. Since then, we’ve experienced 19 years of monogamy. We are very much in love, and we never think about the affair that occurred in our own marriage anymore, even though supporting others on the journey has become our specialty, our life mission, our passion and our work.

A situation that has happened not infrequently in our office, is to receive a phone call from a couple we have begun working with that sounds something like this, “Anne & Brian. Thank you so much for your help. It has been above our expectations. That said, we had a huge fight this weekend and have decided to divorce. It’s over. Thank you anyway.” We’ve learned to sort of ignore these phone calls in the context that two days later they call us back, having gotten beyond that horrific argument and they are back on the mend. And they make it.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are those couples who sometimes attend our intensives, or work with us personally, who don’t make it. So how do you know?

Can my marriage survive an affair?

While none of the criteria below are a definitive diagnosis, we have found that positive answers to the questions below usually lead to successful reconciliation. As you read, “can my marriage survive an affair?” is more a matter of character traits – than practical, outwardly measurable things.

1. Are you willing & open? The number one trait, we notice among couples who make it is WILLINGNESS & OPENNESS. Are you willing to try?

2. Do you have good life skills? Social skills? Emotional intelligence? Then there is a high probability of your success. Skills are something that can be developed. If you honestly evaluate yourself and realize maybe you do have poor life skills – that you struggle in general with jobs, relationships and finances, then you can do something about that. Stop blaming others for your life not working out the way you want it and decide that you will develop these skills. When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

3. Can you accept responsibility for your shortcomings without casting blame elsewhere? This overlaps with good self-esteem, which can be developed. When a person has good self-esteem, they demonstrate an ease in talking about both their accomplishments and their shortcomings with directness and honesty, because they have a healthy relationship to the facts. They are open to criticism and comfortable acknowledging mistakes because one’s self-esteem is not tied to an image of perfection. If you are not at this place, don’t worry. You can get there. Both our Take Your Life Back and Healing from Affairs programs have components that help husbands and wives build their self-esteem.

4. Can you accept instruction? Are looking for answers and asking for outside help? The couples who make it have awakened to the fact that perhaps they don’t have all the answers.

5. Are you prepared to work hard? Couples who make it are not afraid of hard work. In this life we are rewarded according to the effort we are willing to put in. It’s going to take effort. If you and your partner are both willing to put in an honest effort, your chances of success are great. In life we repeatedly find ourselves at a fork in the road. The fork always looks the same. There is the road that appears easy, which becomes the hard road, and there is the road that appears difficult which becomes the easy road. Do the right thing.

6. Are you compassionate? When husbands and wives are willing to listen and see the world through their spouses’ eyes and show compassion, they have a high probability of success. Couples who end in divorce have in common a failure of compassion.

7. Are you focusing on how YOU need to change? (not on how your spouse needs to change) When you focus on your spouse, you make yourself powerless, because you do not have the power to change them. Only they can do that. When you focus on yourself, you take back your power, and maximize the chances of restoring your marriage. In most situations, when one spouse makes positive changes, the other spouse responds by making positive changes too. Take away your spouses’ ability to point a finger of blame at you. Saying, I won’t do this or that unless he/she does this or that first, is a sure way to stay stuck in a lose/lose stalemate. Are you doing the things from your side that lead to restoration?

8. Does your spouse have a good heart? And are they willing to grow, learn and change? Are they well-intentioned? Do they have a track record before the affair of caring? Is your spouse reading books? Talking with you? Going for counseling? Willing to attend seminars? Anything? All the issues that got you here in the first place don’t go away by themselves. Time does not heal all wounds. It’s time plus doing the right things. You will learn the “right” things at the Healing from Affairs intensive for couples. You’ll leave with a roadmap for recovery, and the right tools.

9. Did your marriage have a strong bond to begin with? Have you got a track record of love in your relationship? If your relationship was in trouble even during your dating time, the road to recovery is bigger and more difficult. That said, there are always exceptions to the rule. No person needs to remain a write-off. The help is out there if someone decides to grow and change and become a better person. But they have to do it for themselves. You cannot do it for them.

10. Does your spouse have a track record of monogamy? In other words, betrayal is completely out of their character. They are a person of integrity, who somehow completely lost their way. Before they got caught up in an affair, they judged others who had affairs, and if you would’ve asked them before they did this, if they ever might have an affair, they would’ve said, absolutely not, and meant it. If your spouse actually embraces the value of faithfulness your marriage stands a much greater chance of recovering.

11. Is this a one-time event or a pattern? If it is a one-time event, the hope for recovery is greatly increased. If it is a pattern, there is still lots of hope. It just needs to be acknowledged that patterns are hard to break. The will to break bad patterns must come from the one who is doing the bad behavior, in the same way that an alcoholics’ loved ones are unable to keep him or her sober. They can support the addict on the journey, by being encouraging, holding them accountable, and learn to avoid enabling, but the will to change and break the pattern permanently must come from the person who is giving up the bad behavior themselves.

12. Do you believe in God? People with faith, statistically have a higher recovery rate than those without, and when they recover their recovery tends to be more complete. Perhaps betrayal of this kind is so big that every healed marriage is actually a miracle. There is something about true restoration after infidelity that cannot be explained through natural means. Healing is spiritual – supernatural. Faith is not a deal-breaker. There are couples who do not believe in God who also recover, but if God is on your side and you know it, you’ve got an asset that makes a difference. If you’ve been on the cusp; God has been out there somewhere in your life, but not something you’ve given much thought to, well, this might just be a good time to investigate that further.

The more yes’s you have to the questions above, the greater your hope. You ask, “Can my marriage survive an affair?” The answer is yes if you are both willing to do the work.

PS – We’ve noticed greater success rates and less agony, pain and mistakes for couples when the betrayed spouse takes the Take Your Life Back seminar first. While it may seem unfair: “He had an affair. He needs the work. Why should I attend a program first? I am not the one who did the bad thing.” I get it, and you are right. The problem is you’re the one who is hurt and broken and angry and unable to trust etc., and it’s hard to engage in healing work from this broken place. By giving the betrayed a chance to process some of all that pain and regain clarity, the couples work becomes much more productive.

Once a cheater always a cheater

Is Once a Cheater Always a Cheater True?

Dear Anne, I was looking around your site, and I wonder what you have to say about the old adage: Once a Cheater Always a Cheater???

ANNE’S ANSWER:
Once a cheater always a cheater is NOT true. That said, statistically it has largely been true. This is due to the many myths and misconceptions about affairs.

Generally embraced ideology still emphasizes that affairs are caused by problems in the marriage and that both husband and wife should take responsibility for their parts in the affair that occurred in the marriage.

Who is responsible for an affair?

At Beyond Affairs, we agree that an affair takes two people; the unfaithful spouse and the affair partner! Should it be true that one day we all get to stand in front of God and give an accounting of our lives, one question God will not be asking the faithful spouse is “why did you make your spouse have an affair?” The ones involved in the affair will stand alone to give an account for their behavior.

The betrayed spouse is responsible for ways they may have failed their spouse in the marriage, but this is an entirely separate issue. It is not cause and effect. For every marriage with problems where there has been an affair, I can show you another marriage with bigger problems where there has not been an affair.

If you are unhappy in your marriage, there are healthy and right ways to address the marital issues. No one is “making” anyone have an affair.

Affairs happen in good marriages too!

The truth is affairs happen in good marriages too. We agree that marriages with problems are more likely to have affairs. However, the fact remains that all marriages are vulnerable. Reasons for the choice to have an affair lie with the persons having them, not with the innocent spouse who would give anything for the affair not to have happened.

When affairs are a pattern …

One clients’ situation strongly emphasizes this point. Her husband was in the military. She had been married for thirty years when I first saw her. Every five years of their marriage the husband had an affair, and each time they sought the help of a therapist to recover, and each time the therapist helped them to discover what she (the innocent spouse) did wrong to cause her husband to have an affair (the belief that it was her fault for not meeting his needs).

Five years into the marriage apparently he cheated because she was too busy with babies, and not giving him enough attention, so she gave him more attention. Ten years into the marriage it turned out he had an affair because they weren’t having enough recreational companionship together. She took up golf with him.

Fifteen years into the marriage he had an affair because she wasn’t adventurous enough in bed. They got some lingerie, books and sex toys and she became a sex goddess. Twenty years into the marriage apparently he cheated because she didn’t keep the house clean enough. She added that to her list of burdens to carry with her growing heartache. I could go on. When the affair happened thirty years into the marriage, she admitted herself into the psych ward at the hospital!

The more I support people, the more I feel like shaking the globe and shouting, “Why are we looking for reasons for the affair with the one who isn’t having them? Why are we missing the obvious? A person choosing to have an affair is responsible for the affair, and it is this person that has some changing to do.

What happens to the cheater when they marry someone new?

When a cheater divorces and then remarries, they usually have affairs again. Why? What is the problem here? The innocent spouse not meeting their needs?? No, of course not. The one who is repeatedly having affairs in sequential marriages is responsible, because they have not addressed THEIR issues.

So to answer your question, when the person having the affair is willing to step up to the plate and stop blaming their spouse and everything else for THEIR behavior, and start looking inside themselves for the reasons, and when they take initiative to do THEIR personal growth work, then THEY can certainly change and become faithful ever after, and many have.

So is a person “once a cheater always a cheater?” No, absolutely not. Any person can decide to change and become a better person, but the tenacity to do so must come from within the one who cheated. You can’t do it for them. If the root causes for their affair are addressed, then certainly they don’t need to repeat their affairs.

What does not work in ensuring faithfulness are promises or willpower alone. It takes understanding, personal growth, and corresponding change. If promises worked the wedding vows would’ve been sufficient the first time.

James Vaughan was faithful to his wife Peggy Vaughan for 30+ years following several years of affairs with multiple partners, honoring their wedding vows from the time of his change forward “’til death do us part.” Peggy never bore affair heartache again.

In my own marriage, I have now experienced 19 years of monogamy & counting post affair!

But how do you address the core issues effectively?

We help those who’ve had affairs understand and address the core issues behind why they cheated. If your unfaithful spouse is serious about being faithful forever forward, they will want to register you both for the Healing From Affairs Intensive.

We also find that when the husband has had the affair, couples generally fare better at Healing from Affairs, if the wife attends Take Your Life Back first, because it’s hard to do couples work when the anger, sadness, obsessive thoughts, fear of the future and low self-esteem are at an all time high. Many betrayed spouses say, “Why should I go to a program? I am not the one who did the wrong thing.” Yes, we understand, but you are the one whose heart has been broken! It’s not fair. We know. Life isn’t fair. If ever there was a time, though, when you deserved the pampering and self-care of program just for you – now is that time!

For those where a group situation is not a consideration, due to a high profile nature of your work, Private Intensives are available.

Write to us directly and confidentially at anne@beyondaffairs.com or brian@beyondaffairs.com .

PS – You may wish to suggest the Man of Honor Weekend to your husband.