The Story You Tell Yourself by Anne Bercht – August 2, 2017

Seventeen years ago (May 15, 2000) I walked through what was (up until just recently), the darkest time of my life. Like a caterpillar goes into a dark cocoon (for what seems like forever at the time), so I seemed to be surrounded in unrelenting darkness, wondering if it was even sane to believe I would ever know another day of happiness in my life.

It took 2.5 years, 2 seminars, 1.5 years of counseling, a stack of books, hundreds of hours of conversation with my husband, and determination, but I can honestly say, that I emerged on the other side of the darkness like an unstoppable butterfly, afraid of nothing, free to be myself, and free to really love.

Once healed, together with my husband, we looked back on the journey and wondered, what is wrong with the world? This is such a common problem and no one is addressing it head on. So we added education to our personal experience, wrote a gut honest book about the journey, and started assisting others through affair recovery, whether reconciling or divorcing, whether the wife had the affair, or the husband did.

I am so glad I didn’t give up on life back then (even though I felt like it), because since then I’ve known some of the most pleasurable moments life offers. I’ve known much love, laughter, and heart-to-heart connection, with my husband, children, and many wonderful friends, both old and new. I’ve experienced the sheer joy of being an involved grandmother. I’ve travelled much of the world, built and decorated a beautiful new home, stood on the top of mountains, met Oprah Winfrey, gone snorkeling, scuba diving, zip lining, white water rafting, and horseback riding. I’ve watched my book become a best seller, received a prestigious award among other marriage experts for running one of the programs having the greatest impact in saving families in America, and I’ve experienced the thrill of addressing large audiences.

I’ve also encountered unbelievable setbacks, betrayals in business and in friendships. My heart has at times sored, and at other times been broken. I’ve experienced prosperity and I’ve experienced financial troubles. I’ve been loved, and I’ve been hated. I’ve been praised and I’ve been criticized. I’ve been tested, I’ve rested and I’ve nested. Doors have opened and doors have closed.

One of my greatest joys has been you. Yes, you! Not your pain … but being a part of helping you move beyond your pain to get the life you want. The victories of those I’ve been privileged to walk alongside have been my victories too.

After all, life is short and there are no do-overs, so it’s important to live it well. When we fall down, we simply get back up. That’s the only thing that separates the winners from the losers in this life. The truth is winners lose far more than losers lose, because the winners are out there doing something.

As in the sport of boxing … “A survivor is a person, who when knocked down, somehow knows to stay down until the count of nine and then get up differently. The non-survivor gets up right away and then gets hit again.” – Joy Joffe

We are talking about the grieving part of the affair recovery journey, because whether you lose your marriage, or you lose only the innocence of your marriage (turns out you did not have the marriage you thought you had), or if you are the unfaithful partner, perhaps you are grappling with a loss of respect (including loss of self-respect), and/or loss of your reputation, we all are grieving the loss of our dreams, how we thought our lives should’ve been – how it should’ve turned out.

So we go through stages of grief: shock, sorrow, craziness, heroism, anger, denial, and hopefully, in the end acceptance. In affair recovery these “stages” may not go in any particular order, and we can cycle through any of them in any order many times, sometimes all in the same day, especially in the beginning.

Knowing how to grieve DOES make a big difference. Make every effort to get your sleep and to eat, and say “yes” to help – the right help.

It’s important to give yourself room to be sad and angry – just make sure you don’t hurt anyone (including yourself), don’t damage property and don’t do anything you may later regret. But it is definitely okay to simply say, “I am so angry!”

In the long run, your recovery will depend a lot on the narrative you tell yourself about all that has happened.

In the beginning you might say things like …

“There must be something wrong with me.”

“He/She deliberately did this to me.”

“I can never recover.”

“I can never forgive.”

“She/he will never be able to get over it.”

“There is a black spot on our marriage, that can never go away.”

While these narratives are understandable, they keep us unhappy and stuck. Some better narratives (for example) might be:

“Everyone experiences hardship, injustice, trials and tragedy’s in life. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Affairs are part of a bigger picture of the sickness of our culture today. What matters is not so much what has happened to me, but rather how I choose to respond to it. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever faced, but I am not staying down. Somehow, someway, I will find a way through this.”

“I can hold my head up high, because I am a woman/man of integrity and dignity. I am not defined by what someone else does, but rather what I do … and right now, I am clearly being tested.”

“I have failed, but I am not a failure. I will face my failure with courage, and I will do what is within my power to make things right, to learn and to grow, and to be a better person on the other side of this.”

“My mess is going to be a message.”

“No one but me has the keys to my soul. Someone may have wronged me or hurt me, and they may never give me what I need to heal, but if I stay down, that’s on me, not them.”

“He/she didn’t do this to me. They weren’t thinking about me at all. That’s exactly the problem. If they had been thinking, they would’ve made different choices. He/she acted selfishly, and my hurt is a byproduct of that selfishness.”

“I will look for what is good in my situation, what my spouse might be doing right, rather than what they are doing wrong.”

"I take responsibility for me, for what I do - not for what others do."

“I am a smart person. I am going to learn what is healthy and not healthy in relationships. I will not allow myself to be mistreated.”

“I may be afraid, but that’s okay. I will do the right thing anyway. I will act in spite of my fear.”

“A great evil tried to destroy us, but our love was stronger than that. We conquered it! We win!!!”

What matters the most in life are not the big moments we’d expect, but rather the hidden moments that we think no one sees – how we treat a stranger, a child, or an enemy. Who will we be in the face of injustice and suffering? Will we repay evil for evil, or will we do good?

There is far too much hate in this world. That should be obvious. And never are we more likely ourselves to hurt people than when we ourselves are hurt. As the saying goes, hurt people hurt people. The real winners are those who love, and sometimes that’s tough love.

Such perspectives can give you the power to face life’s losses, as well as your failures, in a way where you allow the pain to grow you, rather than sink you.

What if your life is a story, still being written, and you get to live each chapter. While you are in one chapter, you think it’s the only chapter and you will always live there. Then one day, sometimes suddenly and without warning, a chapter ends. And in your story, once a chapter ends, you can never go back?

But the ending of that chapter, is not the ending of the book, but rather the beginning of a new chapter and that chapter is largely determined by how you choose to respond the betrayal, the loss and the disappointment you face now. Your ending is yet unwritten.

Why has it been so long since you received a newsletter? What did I mean darkest time until just recently? On May 13, 2017 our precious son died tragically at the age of 31. We are grieving well, and in many ways, now again, get to “practice what we preach,” because while it is a different kind of loss, and different grief, there are also many parallels. Yes, it’s hard. But knowing how to grieve helps.

Having done the work of healing our marriage seventeen years ago, has given us a priceless gift and strength for today. In the face of such tragedy, how wonderful to cry together, and to hold each other, and to know that it is OUR son we lost.

In the face of our tragedy, we find ourselves growing stronger (not weaker) in our resolve and purpose and love for others. We look forward to helping you also move beyond your pain and get the life you want!

We look forward to hearing from you...please contact us as or call us at 360-306-3367...we are here for you.

Believing the best - Anne

Healing from Affairs Success Story-Greg & Krista

June 9, 2017 - Greg and Krista share their Healing From Affairs Seminar success story (we apologize for some technical difficulties about 10 minutes into this teleseminar, but we felt the information this couple shared was important to share with you to encourage you in your own healing journey)

We are always excited when a couple wants to share how working with us, through coaching which we do over the phone or via Skype, which allows us to have clients all over the world, and attending our seminars, Healing from Affairs, Man of Honor and Take Your Life Back has given them the tools, help and support they need to heal as individuals and as a couple.

We hope you enjoy this amazing true story of Greg and Krista as Anne Bercht interviews them about their affair story, healing journey and what they believe got them to where they are...honored to say they attribute much of their success to Passionate Life Seminars.  We do have an incredible success rate especially if both parties are committed to doing the work and using the tools, support and resources we provide.  The couples that are "all in" and committed to the healing process really can have the happily ever after that everyone desires but believes is impossible after the pain of an affair.

We are thankful for couples like this who want to give back and share their recovery success story.  We believe the best is yet to come from Greg and Krista and we also believe the same thing for you!

Please call our office at 360-306-3367 or email us at and let us help you be successful in your affair healing journey.  We know you can do it and we can show you how!

Clients Mike and Cathy Share their Healing from Affairs Experience

May 31, 2017 - Mike and Cathy share their Healing From Affairs Seminar experience

This teleseminar is truly an amazing testimony!  Tammie Waitley, Passionate Life Seminar's Relationship Development Director and Assistant Director of BAN(The Beyond Affairs Network) recently had the privilege of speaking with a couple who had attended one of our Healing from Affairs seminars, which is the couple's intensive seminar weekend, with all of the sessions delivered by Anne and Brian Bercht and supported by their team of coaches and mentors who have also successfully healed from an affair.  These seminars are offered once a quarter and we thought that the best way to share what that experience is like is to hear from a real couple that really attended and is really doing the work.

Mike and Cathy attended their Healing from Affairs Weekend November 2016 and they candidly share what got them there, what tools they learned, what was most meaningful for them and how the 6 follow-up coaching sessions and Mike being a part of Brian's bi-weekly Men's support group (which are included with the seminar) have helped them on the right path of healing after they returned home.

Mike and Cathy's story is real, powerful and incredibly encouraging.  To hear them speak about their pain and the hope and love they have for each other today is truly miraculous.  They have embraced the healing process and done the work and now they are continuing to grow and move forward, even through the ups and downs because they now have tools that really work.  They also share how the communication tools they learned are helping them in other areas of their lives.  They are so thankful to be where they are today and believe one day they will be able to help other couples get on the other side of their pain.  We believe you will thoroughly enjoying hearing their story and about their Healing from Affairs Seminar experience.

If you and your spouse are thinking of attending a Healing from Affairs Seminar NOW is the time...don't wait another day...if Mike and Cathy can do can you!

We believe in you and we can show you how to find total and complete healing as individuals and as a couple.  Join us for our next Healing from Affairs Weekend because your miracle is waiting for you!

Call us today at 360-306-3367 or email us at to learn more.

Anne Bercht’s Talk for Infidelity Hurts Awareness Day, May 6, 2017, on Why Affairs Happen

May 6, 2017 - Anne Bercht's Talk on Why Affairs Happen

Affairs devastate husbands and wives, they destroy families and the lives of children and they weaken our nation. There is an evil person in our country who has earned millions of dollars destroying families. His business sports billboards with the slogan “Life is short. Have an affair.” I am dying to create a countering ad campaign with slogans like, “Life is short. Leave a legacy.” “Life is short. Be your wife’s hero.” Or “Life is short. Having an affair will ruin yours.” Or “Having an affair is like trying to keep warm on a cold day by peeing in your pants.” Why do affairs happen and what can you do to prevent it?

Everyone knows they don’t want to be betrayed, that it would be really bad. What only those you have been there grasp just how bad, bad is. You know it would be bad and you think it will never happen to you. Statistics are all over the place when it comes to the question, “What percentage of marriages are affected by affairs?” And no research projects are more wrought with lies than infidelity stats. According to Scott Haltzman in his book The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity, 28-43% of marriages are affected. So in your neighborhood that’s about every third house. So if it isn’t your house, it will be your neighbors, either to the right or the left.

Problems in marriages are not the root causes of affairs and as long as we point our finger of blame on the wrong thing, our problem will continue to grow. It’s like treating malnutrition with diet soda. How many of you want to know the real reason for infidelity and betrayal?

I’m Anne Bercht, author of My Husband’s Affair Became the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me, Director of BAN (the Beyond Affairs Network) and co-founder of Passionate Life Seminars. Over the past 14 years, I’ve helped thousands of people do the impossible…recover from betrayal. I’m going to show you that affairs happen because of unmet needs. I’m also going to show you that affairs do NOT happen because of unmet needs. For every marriage with problems where there has been an affair, I can show you another marriage with worse problems, where there has not been an affair. So it is not cause and effect. Oh I don’t deny that marriages with problems are more vulnerable to affairs than happy marriages, but affairs happen in good marriages too.

I remember supporting a woman whose husband had had an affair, every 5 years of their 30 year marriage. And every 5 years of their 30 year marriage, they went for marital therapy and in therapy they always discovered what the faithful wife was doing wrong and who she wasn’t meeting her husband’s needs. 5 years into the marriage she wasn’t fit enough, so she joined a gym , got on a healthier eating plan and worked on being fit and sexy. Then 10 years into the marriage, according to their therapist he had an affair because she was giving too much attention to the children and her husband felt neglected. So she paid more attention to him and then 15 years into the marriage it turns out her husband had an affairs because she wasn’t experimental enough in the on the link above to hear the rest of Anne's talk...

Obstacles to Affair Recovery with Anne and Brian Bercht

February 21, 2017 - Teleseminar on obstacles to healing and how to overcome them by Anne and Brian Bercht

This is an amazing teleseminar where Brian and Anne Bercht share the obstacles to affair recovery and more importantly how to overcome these obstacles.  Listen and learn on how to overcome the obstacles you are facing today in your own healing journey whether you are the betrayed or unfaithful.

Some of those obstacles shared during this teleseminar are:

Not Telling Truth – This is about lying about the facts or the evidence or denial.

Solutions: Own up to these! Tell the Truth NOW.

Partial Disclosures – Trickle-Truth. This has to do with making a judgment as to what you think your spouse can handle, or what you think that they need to know.

Solutions: Acknowledge what has been withheld, or what has been judged ‘too big’ to disclose, or what is STILL not been told. You may need to find someone to help you with this like a coach/counselor..  Special Word of Caution: It is highly unlikely that anyone will be able to sit down and spell out the entire affair story, beginning to the end.

Over-Sharing – This comes for the unfaithful person spilling or puking out everything about the affair without being thoughtful or considerate about their spouse.

Solutions: Sadly, one can’t take back the words that have been said, or remove the images that have been shared, or emotions that have been expressed.  The thing needed is acknowledging the wrong and seeking forgiveness. 

Beliefs about Affairs – What gets in the way of healing can be our beliefs in why an affair happens or what affairs mean.

Solutions: Be willing to be objective about your own beliefs.  Listen to our pod-casts and hear what others have shared about their ‘whys' and do some coaching or attending one of our seminars to really learn and understand the truth about why affairs happen.

Beliefs about Staying – The belief that staying in a marriage after a betrayal is a sign of weakness.

Solutions: One will need to combat these negative and harmful thought processes. Identify with those men and women that have successfully recovered and remained happily married.

Lack of Tools – Not having tools and resources that are practical, time tested, measurable, and reliable.

Solutions: Get tools that work. Participate in our Healing From Affairs weekend seminar to pick up your tool kit if you are healing your marriage and Take Your Life Back weekend seminar for betrayed women, whether you are working on your relationship or not as it can take the betrayed longer to heal.

Frantic Fixing – The trauma of discovery/disclosure leads many to rush out and look for anything and everything to help them deal with the pain and fix the problem.

Solutions: Relax, Slow Down, Take a Breath, Quit Hurrying! Then, take time to find out ‘whom’ you are really listening to, and what ‘their’ background is. Find the ones that you relate to and seek out their help. 

Poor Counsel – Listening and following advise from unqualified or unproven sources, be those paid or unpaid.

Solutions: Find a therapist/coach/counselor/mentor that has proven experience in this particular specialty. 

One-sided Work – Often this is about focusing all the work on helping the betrayed spouse to heal, while neglecting or overlooking the work necessary for the unfaithful partner to heal.

Solutions: While it may be necessary for some individual work to occur, it is important and a necessity that both partners to engage in the work of recovery.          

Expectations – These expectations, some reasonable and some unreasonable are often the factors that get in the way of healing. Expectation of where a person should be by this time; expectations of how one should be acting at this time; expectations of how one should feel, respond, engage, talk, share, divulge.

Solutions: Be careful to avoid comparing your situation to others. Set reasonable expectations, ones that are manageable and achievable. 

Time – Healing requires a certain amount of time. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the length of time needed to heal, only generalities.

Solutions: Set reasonable and measurable time frames.  Get help to figure this out.

The Berchts share about this and much more and end the call with some questions.  Maybe the exact question you have was asked on this teleseminar.

It is our desire to help you overcome the obstacles to affair recovery.  Please call us at 360-306-3367 or email us at and let us help you through your process...we can help you avoid these obstacles and find the hope and healing you want and deserve.

How to Survive Christmas After an Affair

So it’s Christmas time and your world is falling apart. Your heart is broken and your world is shattered, and you really have no idea how to survive Christmas after an affair. Take heart! This blog is for you.

I remember going through this myself a number of years ago. There is hope and a future with much joy ahead for you … depending on how you navigate your coming days. You can make it through this! Let me tell you how.

We may not have a choice over what happens to us, but we do have a choice over how we choose to respond to what happens to us.

Chuck Swindoll said, “Life is 10 % what happens to us, and 90% how we choose to respond.”
How did I survive the painful aftermath of my husband’s betrayal and come out happier, wiser, stronger and much more fulfilled on the other side?

I honored the healing process.

First of all, this wasn’t about saving my marriage (although in the beginning I thought it was). This was about saving me. I am only married today because first I chose to give my marriage a chance, and second my husband did the work to grow and change and become a better man. If he had not, I would be divorced, and I still would’ve written a book, and I still would’ve given it the shocking title, My Husband’s Affair BECAME the best thing that ever happened to ME.

I wrote the book, I wish would have had when I found out about my husband’s affair. I knew I had a message the world needed to hear. One of America’s most famous women’s magazines picked up my story and wanted to write an article about me. I needed this free publicity, but there was a huge problem. The editor insisted on fitting my story into her title, “The one thing that saved my marriage was ….”

ONE THING DIDN’T SAVE ME! To be honest, it took 2 seminars, 1.5 years of individual coaching, reading a huge stack of books, hundreds of hours of conversations with my husband, and an attitude that said, “I AM NOT STAYING DOWN!” I could not participate in that article with integrity, so I declined.

You would think everything depended on my husband’s willingness to change. Turns out, instead my victory depended on my willingness to change. And so it is with you! YOUR VICTORY DEPENDS ON YOUR WILLINGNESS TO CHANGE. But change what?

Today, your healing does not need to take nearly as long as it took me, because together with a team of experts we have designed a program just for you that in 3 days can propel you forward in your healing, as much as a year or more of counseling. Why prolong the agony?

Imagine yourself spending 3 days in person, with me, and my awesome team of coaches, ordinary women who have BECOME extraordinary through their own unique healing journeys, and now are there to help you discover the extraordinary woman inside you. You may not believe it now, but she is there.

From the moment you walk in the door, you will be safe and loved. No more need to wear a mask; pretending things are okay when they’re not. We will take you on a journey of transformation, helping you to leave behind all the garbage you’ve had to deal with; all the hurts, the lies, the wounds, the times you were mistreated, and all the painful experiences you didn’t deserve.

We’ll help you to discover what’s right with you, and show you how to tap into strength you didn't know you had.

You will get all your questions answered.

You’ll gain clarity, strength, peace and even some joy back.

You’ll find yourself able to laugh again.

We’ll help you chart a course for your future through all the chaos and confusion, and give you tools to make smart decisions, and to start believing in yourself again.

You’ll leave with a group of friends … who get it, whom you can reach out to in the weeks and months ahead for a word of support and wisdom when you need it. Invaluable!

The group is small so you won’t be lost in a large crowd.

Would it help, even just a little bit, this Christmas season, if you knew that shortly after Christmas, you’ll be getting a hug from me in Charleston, South Carolina, answers to all your questions, and the tools you need to navigate your future.

Don’t you deserve some help and support? Exactly so you can go back and give the best, the wisest, the most dignified and happiest version of you to the people you love?

This program is for betrayed women only, whether you are divorcing, reconciling your marriage, or you have no idea what you’re going to do.

What better Christmas gift could you have than Taking Your Life Back?!!!

Because I care about you,

Anne Bercht
Author of My Husband's Affair Became ...
Co-Founder, Passionate Life Seminars
Director, BAN, Beyond Affairs Network

Program dates: February 16 - 18, 2019 in Charleston, SC



Don’t delay. This program has limited spaces and fills fast. We often have to turn people away – SO RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

How to survive the holidays after an affair by Anne and Brian Bercht

December 5, 2016 - Teleseminar on how to survive the holidays after an affair by Anne and Brian Bercht

Anne and Brian Bercht share key concepts on how to survive the holidays after an affair, especially if you an your spouse are trying to stay together.  How should you handle Christmas gifts?  How do you handle telling and being around family?  What should you do to make sure your children's holidays aren't tarnished?  Is it a good idea to put the affair recovery on hold for the holidays?  Based on their personal experience and after working with hundreds of couples, they share tangible ideas of how to survive and hopefully thrive through the holidays.

The end of the teleseminar is opened up for questions from the audience and maybe the question you have been wanting to ask them is answered.  We want to help you find hope in the holidays after an affair, whether you are healing your marriage or not, and help you find joy in this special season, even when you are hurting.  Please know that you are not alone and you don't have to go through the holidays suffering, please email us at or call us at 360-306-3367 and we'd love to help you this holiday season.

Overcoming Bitterness After Betrayal by Anne Bercht

November 7, 2016 Teleseminar - Overcoming Bitterness After Betrayal

*Please note that this is taped message so if you have questions for Anne Bercht we ask that you email our office at as she shared and used a different email address during this podcast.  

Are you struggling with bitterness after your spouse’s betrayal?  Has your dream has died?  Have you wondered how you could ever possibly feel happy again?

This teleseminar discusses overcoming bitterness after betrayal, when your heart is broken and shattered. How do you deal with life’s injustices and unfair circumstances, when the pain and grief are unbearable?

Complicating factors may include:

  • affairs with a family member; your sister or brother
  • A child from the affair
  • Deception about finances; money you thought you had that is no longer there
  • If spouse brought the affair partner into your marital bed
  • The fact that you have so worked to be a good wife/husband, sacrificing of yourself. You could understand if you had done something to deserve this, but you’ve done the best you could.

Whatever your unique situation, in this podcast you’ll learn how to cope, how to deal with you emotions, how to live through this, and how to enjoy life and be happy again.

“I know what it means to hurt. I know what it means to feel such deep emotional pain that it hits you like giant waves, and you can barely function. I know what it’s like to be so overcome with pain, that you just hang on to a wall to try to keep from falling, or to be locked in a room in the fetal position on the floor unable to imagine any way to live through this pain. I have been there too.” – Anne Bercht

How do you cope?  How do you get past it?

Understand that you are going to transform your life by renewing your mind, changing the way you think about what is/has happened to you.

In Scott Pecks book, “The Road Less Travelled,” he opens with these profoundly shocking words: “Life is Difficult …”

In this podcast Anne Bercht discusses the following keys:

  1. Take care of yourself.
  1. Talk to someone. Avoid Isolation: Get wise counsel. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
  1. Determine who you are. What kind of a woman/man do you want to be? How do you want to be remembered? How do you want your children to talk about you? Discover your purpose and live your purpose.
  1. Give yourself permission to grieve your loss.
  1. Apply the Serenity Prayer.
  1. Do not beat yourself up. You are not responsible for the choices of others.
  1. Put good stuff in your head – daily.  It’s a discipline.
  1. Be thankful.
  1. Develop yourself spiritually.
  1. Move to acceptance. Let Go. Accept that life is difficult. You’re not alone.

In conclusion, learn guidelines for making good decisions and how to walk out being better and not bitter after the pain of an affair.

You can do it and we can help!  Call our office today at 360-306-3367 or email us at and we can show you the way to your total and complete healing.  It is a process and you don't have to go through this process alone...we would be honored to be a part of your healing journey.

Should I Stay or Go After an Affair?

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

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

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

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

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


Should I Stay or Go? by Anne Bercht

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Feeling of Ambivalence After Your Spouse Cheats

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

Spouse’s Ambivalence

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

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

Advice from Others

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

Consider the Children

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

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

Other Factors

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

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

Guidelines for Making Your Decision

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

Questions to Help You Decide After Your Spouse Cheats:

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

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

Email your questions or comments to Brian and/or Anne