Words can’t describe how traumatic it’s been not only to recognize that I am an Unfaithful Spouse but also to look in the mirror each day knowing I was responsible for causing an extreme amount of devastation and trauma on my wife and family. The moment in which my wife I discovered the four messages between my AP and I will forever be burned into my mind’s eye. The way in which my heart sank when I heard her heavy breathing will haunt me for the rest of my life. I honestly can’t remember what emotions were going through my head other than shame and self-loathing (but they weren’t new to me).
All I remember about the first 48-hours after discovery day 1 (‘DD1’) is how, not unlike my wife, my hazy my mind was. I knew I had done something disastrously wrong (cheating on my wife in the first place) but I couldn’t grasp the scale of my betrayal. I couldn’t grasp the way in which I’d lied to, criticized, gaslit, and, quite frankly, abused my wife and had no idea how to process the whirlwind of emotions I was experiencing, let alone the emotions my wife was experiencing.
My Story: How I became an unfaithful spouse
You can read my story by clicking the button below or following this link.
Like my wife described in her story, our marriage had its challenges like anybody else’s but I had no insight into the scale of how my own personal, professional, and emotional challenges had impacted on my relationship and my marriage. I knew I had my challenges (I know I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression for my entire adult life) but real insight didn’t come until, ironically, until I met my wife who was training at the time as a mental health nurse. I’d always convinced myself, however, I would never behave in such an abhorrent manner but, painful as it is to acknowledge, I was very wrong.
After DD1 I wanted to save my marriage. I knew that. That knowledge, however, was mixed with a toxic cocktail of guilt, fear, shame, self-loathing and, at times, suicidal ideation. I didn’t know where to turn with the emotions I was feeling as my wife had her own emotional whirlwind with which to cope. I was so ashamed I didn’t engage with my friends or family and, regretfully, I continued to turn to the OW as I knew she would say things that would superficially take the sting from the way in which I was feeling. I lived in limerence and didn’t end the affair until four weeks after DD1. Sometimes that’s harder to stomach the affair itself. I look back on the mistakes I made during that time and wonder what on Earth I was thinking.
Mistakes happen. Painful mistakes happen.
Mistakes happen, though, and it’s a key part of our ethos in recognising that there’s no ‘perfect recovery’. I live with high-functioning autism and I understand how easy it is to look at timelines on the web (such as this one) and think ‘I/we need to be there by then’ and increase the pressure on ourselves.
We’re here for and with you
I believe that we unfaithful spouses (and the way in which we approach recovery) are pivotal to a meaningful recovery even reaching the starting line, let alone making any progress along the way. It’s vital that we take complete and total responsibility for and ownership of not only our own actions but the impact those actions have had on our spouses. Taking responsibility for our actions as unfaithful spouses means many things but recovery and healing can’t truly begin until we’ve been honest with ourselves and our spouses, empathized with our spouse and created safety in which they can process their feelings.
I’d like to recommend the following videos to you (unfaithful and betrayed). These videos have helped me face up to the fact that I am an unfaithful spouse and help me understand how far-reaching the behaviours that got me to that place have permeated my life, my marriage my relationships, my friendships and my professional life. They’ve also helped me recognize just how important it was, to be honest with myself, my wife, and my family. I hope you find them helpful too.
• Why infidelity affects every area of your life (10:21)
• Do you have the courage to face yourself? (7:26)
• How to confront yourself as an unfaithful spouse (8:24)
• Reaching ground zero: the importance of full disclosure (5:38)
My wife has given some great advice for betrayed spouses to understand the situation in which they find themselves. Unfaithful spouses will so find the advice of immense value as well and I wholly recommend it. Understanding yourself and where your life is right now is important and I would also like to recommend a couple of videos to help you get started.
You can find lots of resources for you here on Infidelity Recovery UK as well. Just head to our Resources page.