Question:

I just listen to Midday Connection program on Moody Radio where you were speaking about infidelity. I have a question. How do you break from the memory of your “puppy love”? I am currently unhappily married. And still dream, and think of my boyfriend from where I was 12. It was a sweet time no sex involved. I am always thinking that I probably would have been happier if he was the one I was married to. But know that it is not necessarily truth. I am 44, Married for 22, (wanted to leave since I was married a year). Mother of a 17 year-old girl, and 13 year-old boy.

Close call for an affair six years ago. (Nothing happened Thanks God!!) but often thinking about him.

  • Answer

    I am going to share some responses to your situation and I welcome any feedback you might have. Having said that I can’t engage in a long series of email conversations. I just don’t have the time.

    First, your feelings from adolescent “puppy love” are very normal. One never forgets a “first love” experience, it all seems so innocent, pure, has lots of infatuation, generates all kinds of new, emotional reactions, has no obligations, etc. So, the fact that you remember it is normal. The fact that you are cultivating it is dangerous. You are turning to it to make yourself feel better and in a certain sense, it has become your drug of choice. You can always go to it when things aren’t right and the memories deliver the distraction and the mood elevation you are looking for. You have idealized this experience and this individual beyond what reality would suggest. Since of course your husband can’t or doesn’t make you feel like that, your boyfriend is all “good” and your husband is all “bad”.

    Here are some suggestions: First, do the Dangerous Partner Profile on this old flame (Close Calls, chapter 4) and see if some of what makes him so attractive to you is found in that “template” of yours (in other words any guy matching a number of your vulnerable areas will generate these same kinds of feelings. It is not him, it is what he represents). Secondly, talk to a mature girlfriend about these feelings and insights for verification purposes. Lastly, approach your husband with this information about your old boyfriend. He already is aware of how you feel about him, even if you have never been specific about your thoughts or have even lied to cover up your “true” feelings. This honesty will provide the two of you with a new opportunity to grow your relationship and it will disarm the power of your secret romance with your old boyfriend. Besides, an unloved spouse (your husband in this case) always has thoughts of being with someone else. He knows exactly how you feel. No one is happy when they know that their spouse is unhappy with them. In preparation for bringing this up with your husband, look thru the content in the Close Call Contract (back of the book).

    Start by saying I want to talk about the secret in our marriage, the elephant in our bedroom, etc., but I need to know that we can both agree on the ground rules for this conversation, then read the rules of the Contract. Reassure him at the beginning that you have not had an affair, but that you don’t want to live the rest of your life with him as you have lived the first 17 years or so. It needs to be different and you know he has not been happy in this relationship either. You both have cooperated in teaching your children how marriage creates a very unhappy relationship. Your children will do like so many other young adults are doing these days-postponing marriage because they have come to believe that it really is difficult to be happy while married. BUT, the two of you have 3-4 years to change that.

    There are many supports that will help the two of you, ranging from no costs (Marriage Encounter & Retrouvaille) to Marital Intensives (4 to 8 day programs that will revolutionize the way you interact with each other). There are DVD sets that will help the two of you “see” yourselves in new and different ways (see the resource list at the back of Close Calls). There is help in changing this and I hope you will dive in-you have nothing to lose.

    Hope this is helpful.

Question

How does one respond if a pregnancy results from an affair?

  • Answer

    There are many different responses to this question and every pregnancy experience can have some unique circumstances. In general though, the following themes can be used as appropriate guidelines and responses.

    • Most marriages will not stay together if the adulterer stays in touch with the child and its mother who was involved in the affair. There is no child visitation allowed.
    • I have only found one case, over the last 30 years, where the wife and husband adopted the child of an affair. From recent e-mail’s, this wife is still having difficulties with raising another woman’s child, their only one, seven years later.
    • The husband does need to support his child and its mother, but only thru electronic transfers; never write checks and send in the mail.
    • Sometimes restraining orders are needed to provide adequate separation from the girlfriend so that the wife can heal, rebuild respect and trust in her husband.
    • The father should also take out a life insurance policy on himself, with the child as a beneficiary (and the mother as the beneficiary should the child die), that would be the equivalent of the child support he would pay over the first 18 years of the child’s life (with col increases included). This is for the proper care of the child should the biological father die before the child reaches maturity or to compensate the woman for all of the grief he has brought into her life.
    • If the wife becomes pregnant from the affair, she will probably have to choose between keeping the baby and losing the marriage or giving the child up for adoption and saving her marriage. I have never met a husband who was willing to raise a another man’s child conceived in betrayal. I would also discourage the father of this child from attempting to adopt it.
    • I would encourage the adulterer, either husband or wife and, to write a lengthy letter to the child telling the child why they are doing what they’re doing. Date it, have it notarized, place it in a safe deposit box with clear instructions on the envelope that this should be delivered to the child on his 18th birthday in the event of a biological parent’s death.
    • this letter also serves as a very comforting read to the child, who as an adult, will look for his or her biological parent. This letter should be made available to the adult child at that time.
    • The unspoken, but quite common issue here, is that the girlfriend might decide to have an abortion and the man might feel obligated to adopt the child in order to spare its life. Unfortunately in most states, I don’t think the husband has the right to stop that abortion process. This scenario is an extremely difficult one to provide direction for.

Question

After 8 months I still cannot trust my wife. She won’t tell me where her partner lives or any other personal information. I feel stuck and unable to move forward in our marriage. I obsess about him and she hates the fact that I think more about him now than she does. When I ask her for this information, she (and our therapist) tells me it is not necessary for me to know this information in order for us to heal. I used to agree with them, but not anymore. I need to know.

  • Answer

    This must feel like she is protecting the Other Person! Well, in the TA book I talk about a spouse’s right to a full disclosure prior to rebuilding trust. If that doesn’t happen, the recovery gets drawn out and eventually arrives at a point beyond which it cannot progress-you might be there. Not knowing the identity of the Partner often generates an anxiety in the spouse that every person they see, meet, smile at, is the Partner; Is that him? Does he look like that? Is he watching me? Was that him that just drove by? Was that him on the hang up phone call? I recommend full disclosure for a full recovery. The only exception is a verifiable history of violence in a betrayed male spouse. I feel badly for you that you still feel the need for more details at this point in your recovery. The first 2 weeks after disclosure is the ideal time to ask for information and invariably the betrayed spouse gets to a point that enough is enough; their intuition confirms that. The reason for that internal confirmation comes from the fact that until you rebuild trust in yourself (your intuition), you will struggle building trust in another who betrayed you. Intuition gets destroyed in infidelity.

    Now having said that, here is what you might want to try:

    First, you and your wife need to agree to do this. Second, when you feel an “urge”, obsession to ask a question, pray out loud, in private, naming the question to God. Stop praying, be silent and wait for your answer. Many times, simply saying a question out loud, exactly like you would word it to your spouse, provides some relief from the compulsion and you don’t need to ask it. Third, if your wife doesn’t know or can’t recall the answer at the time you ask (and I do believe that happens), then she needs to say to you, “I can’t recall that detail, but I will think and pray about this and get back to you in 48 hours”. When she assumes a willingness to disclose information, to be forthright like this, your obsession will diminish. She is carrying the “mantle” of responsibility at this point and you don’t have to “hold onto the question” , you can let it go.

Question

How long do Class II affairs last?

  • Answer

    Most Class II Affairs last no longer than 18-24 months. The beginning of the  end is the start of the destabilizing process (Phase 3, Infidel’s Chart).

    There are two, possibly three subgroups:

    Subgroup 1—The Extended Affair: Multiple years with sporadic contact built around annual professional  conferences, business meetings, and education experiences

    Subgroup 2—Soul Mate Marriage: The infatuation doesn’t plateau and move into the destabilization  phase within 8- 12 months of affair onset

    Subgroup 3—Classmate Affair: Escalating in this decade due to internet ease of locating old/first  “loves”; a shared history and a still smoldering infatuation create a supercharged attraction

Question

I have asked my spouse repeatedly if they are  having an affair. They always deny it and turn it back on me; making me think I’m crazy for asking. What should I do?

  • Answer

    You have three choices: Circumstances, your own constitution and your personal convictions will impact which choice you make. Don’t waffle between options, choose one course and follow it tenaciously.

    • You can choose to do nothing. Small children, lack of a career  or education, illness or disability, lack of support are just  some circumstances that might lead a spouse to decide not to pursue their current suspicions.
    • You can pursue the truth. Before one commits to this practice, you must decide to go all the way in your pursuit. No half-hearted  effort will work here. The question you must answer is: If I knew my spouse was having an affair, would I do things differently than I am doing now? If your response is “Yes”, then this is your option.
    • You can prepare yourself for a future date when you will make  a decision. Use this time to bring skills up to speed, find a job, collect emotional support, review financial records (and make copies), find a therapist.

Question

I suspect my husband is having an affair and I am thinking of asking some of our friends to follow him on the  nights he calls to say he has to work late. What do you think about  doing this?

  • Answer

    If your course of action is option 2, go for it. However, prior to doing this, explore your             expectations and plan your response prior to finding out if your suspicions are true.

Question

Is there a “best chance” time to confront a spouse about a suspected affair?

  • Answer

    Most spouses will confront intuitively when they feel suspicious enough. If your goal is to “pull” your spouse away from the partner (in an intervention-style confrontation), it is usually best to do that during the destabilization phase of the affair.

Question

Should you always try to save a marriage after a first affair?

  • Answer

    Generally speaking “Yes”. If disclosure of an affair brings a knee-jerk reaction of divorce, both spouses often express regret later after having not worked harder at saving the union. General advice: Give it your best shot so as to not struggle with “what if’s”, “if only’s”, and other regrets should the marriage not workout.

Question

Should you always try to save a marriage after a first affair?

  • Answer

    Generally speaking “Yes”. If disclosure of an affair brings a knee-jerk reaction of divorce, both spouses often express regret later after having not worked harder at saving the union. General advice: Give it your best shot so as to not struggle with “what if’s”, “if only’s”, and other regrets should the marriage not workout.

Question

Why should I tell her everything? Won’t it will only injure my spouse more and further damage our hopes of recovery?

  • Answer

    You are right, it will hurt your spouse even more. But to not tell when asked, is worse. First, the spouse intuitively suspects or even knows the truth. To deny or discount the truth, or to be guarded in what you do share, only heightens the suspicions and usually turns the questioning into an obsessive grilling. Also, should you preserve the marriage, the two of you will not be as close as you could have been, to mistrust, and secondly, due to regret that once can’t come clean now.

Question

What if my spouse just keeps asking the same question over and over?

  • Answer

    Obsession almost always happens on the front end of the recovery. The spouse is trying to figure out: Where were they when this happened? How did they miss this? Was that old doubt really true, etc? They are trying to rebuild their injured intuition. Some spouses can become stuck in this frame of mind. However, most will move through it if the infidel is forthright and not guarded. Often this behavior reflects the inaccurate thinking of the spouse that “If I know enough detail, I can figure out why this happened”. That is not unnecessarily true. Sometimes the anger needs to be vented in new ways; sometimes mediation is even needed, especially if disclosure comes on the heels of a difficult time in the marriage.

Question

What if I truly can’t remember the details I am being asked?

  • Answer

    Sometimes “I don’t know” or “I can’t remember” feels like a brush off to the spouse asking the question. I have two suggestions:

    To the Infidel: Tell the spouse you will think about the question (even pray about it if you are a faith-based individual) and that you will get back to them in 48 hours with whatever information you are able to come up with.

    To the Spouse: I often say, if you have ever been drunk, you might have more understanding of your infidel spouse’s inability to recall details. When you are inebriated, you don’t recall all your behaviors, time sequences, even the events you went through. Such is often the experience of the “drunk with love”, highly infatuated (read “Intoxicated”) infidel.

Question

 If I find out all those details, won’t I have a lot of mental pictures I have to work through?

  • Answer

    Yes, you probably will have more mental pictures to work through, but that beats wondering what happened, working things up in your mind, checking every behavior of your infidel spouse and wondering if he said or did that with the affair partner. Mental pictures fade overtime; mental uncertainty often grows. There might be certain sexual practices, environments, or even property that you might not be able to enjoy initially, but remember the infidel came back to you.