A year plus into affair recovery, the husband tries to be patient but keeps slipping into the statement, “We’ve already talked about this! When will this be over??” I know this is not unique to us.
If your bank account was cleaned out by identity theft, when would you stop signing into online banking to check on things? Daily…slips into weekly…might slip into monthly?
While you’re waiting for the bank to process your fraud claim with an empty bank account, how often would you call the bank to talk to someone about it?
How much more so the heart?
This is the push-pull of affair recovery. Both parties are suffering. Both parties will have to work on their recovery. It is easy to get wrapped up in our own self when the pain is this big, and forget the other person is suffering, too.
The betrayed have immense pain they did not bring on themselves, and did not choose. They have much to ask their partner, much they will need to say to their partner, much to heal from, and in the meantime much to feel. They have much to recover from. The breach of trust, the humiliation they feel as people start to find out, and the broken heart are pumping out cortisol dumps and sleepless nights.
The unfaithful has immense pain they have caused and know they’ve brought on themselves, their partner, and possibly their affair partner. The unfaithful has a deep sense of shame that pops out in the form of withdrawal, isolation, and anger. It hurts to see the hurt that’s been caused. It is often frightening to think about possibly “losing it all” with their partner. The constant feeling of being monitored by their partner for new signs of continued unfaithfulness is nerve-racking. And, the unfaithful suffers immensely with each conversation they have with the betrayed.
Betrayed, keep talking to your partner. Communication is the way forward to healing and recovery, and renewed vows. It is the way forward to process what has happened. It is the path to forgiveness. Forgiveness is a choice, AND forgiveness is a process. The pain, or the defensiveness, or the anger you see and hear from your partner should not dissuade you from communicating — unless violence is in the picture. (If your partner is violent with you, this blog is not your best resource. Please get help immediately. Your life matters!) Communicating is the way forward to rebuilding a relationship’s foundation and some day even trust.
Unfaithful, keep listening and being willing to communicate. First and foremost, do not punish your partner for wanting to talk about their feelings with you. Instead, be thankful. Your partner is interested in dialogue with you, even after your cruelty. That’s amazing.
Be patient. Time does not heal a dang thing. Whoever said that is dumb and still waiting. “Give it time”, is bad advice. Instead, put your hand to the plow and don’t look back. Work at being patient through the process for your partner’s recovery. Work at your own recovery with a counselor. Your partner can’t help you heal from your choices — that would be unbelievably selfish.
Be willing to be an open book. “Ask me anything.” “Look through anything.” “We can talk about anything.” And be willing to go there for a long, long time. Long-term transparency and openness that reveals diligent right choices and faithful behavior can rebuild trust, so please be willing to be an open book. This is how the “trust bank account” balance increases. This is your moment to be a hero, not a zero. A hero will do anything to rescue someone, putting their very life on the line. That’s pretty dramatic, but believe me everyone loves their hero and does not enjoy their zero.
I had progressed from looking at the hub’s text messages as often as I can get my hands on his phone, to daily, to weekly, to monthly…it was going so well. Trust was being rebuilt. At my last check, he had lied in a text to his business partner, and that lie included me. When I communicated about it, he became angry. He grabbed his phone and looked at it. He slammed the phone down. We’re somewhat back at square one — except we’re not. At the next check of his phone, two days later (the time table for rechecks has picked up the pace), he had deleted all of his text messages and started over. I don’t know what that means. Does that mean he is teaching me a lesson about looking? Does it mean he is starting fresh and intends to focus on being honest? Ugh and I do not want to communicate about this. Yet, I know I need to. We’re back to rebuilding. Gross.
In moments of frustration, avoid shaming the betrayed. “When will this be over?!” — uh, maybe never? Maybe three to five years from now? Maybe soon if the conversations are fruitful instead of blaming the betrayed for needing communication. (Communication is a basic human need.)
I want to bench press 100 pounds. When will this fight to bench press be over?? I can’t break out of the 80’s. It will be over when I keep working at those muscles, working on them regularly instead of occasionally, and finally accomplish building to the 100 pound crescendo!
There will likely be many times the conversations don’t go so well. Betrayed partners can easily slip into emotional overload, “flood”, and be unable to continue the conversation. When the unfaithful argues, is defensive, replies with their own accusations instead of compassion and empathy, or worse yet gaslights, it is unproductive. The unfaithful should count on their partner wanting to have this same conversation again.
“We’ve already talked about this!” Recovery is a process. Even when the unfaithful handles the conversation beautifully, the betrayed may have more to say. The betrayed may need to continue to express the same thoughts, fears, and feelings.
“When will this be over?” When you learn empathy and practice it often. When you learn to listen from the other person’s perspective and not care two hoots about your pain right this minute, you are one step closer to this being over. When you get help from a counselor, pastor, close/safe/wise friend to move your recovery along, you’re another step closer. When your heart grows to love unselfishly, the gate to “Over Land” is in sight. When recovery can include professional help for the relationship together, the sky is bluer up ahead.
Until then, assume its not going to be over today, and avoid asking the “when” question. Instead take those feelings to your support system and leave them out of the communication with your partner.
This article received a lot of attention, so maybe it can help you also:
Helping your Partner Heal from Your Affair
It’s over when it’s over. Everyone will know. The question itself will be irrelevant.