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Dear unfaithful husband, thank you for choosing to stay

I have a problem with identifying my husband as unfaithful because he is unfaithful no more. He is actually, ex-unfaithful, but I use the label occasionally for the sake of simplicity. In the stories of infidelity, there is a betrayed and an unfaithful spouse. There is also an affair partner and we use the labels BS, US and AP to refer to those characters.


My story

In our story, it was me who disclosed the infidelity by placing a recorder in his car's glove compartment. After the initial shock, he chose to do anything to save our marriage. I needed space, so I moved out of our home, also to shock him some more.

We found resources to help with the affair recovery online. Apart from listening carefully to Esther Perel's perspective on infidelity, we did the First Steps Bootcamp for Surviving Infidelity from AffairRecovery.com. It was clear then that we BOTH had to do the work, both together and individually.

Right after DDay

One of the first hurdles to overcome during the recovery process is for the betrayed spouse to accept that, in order to get better, to feel more in peace and to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the aggravated part ALSO has to make an effort. Timing probably explains best why this is difficult to accept. Once the affair is disclosed, the betrayer feels relieved because the secrecy is over while the betrayed has just found out what had been going on for some time behind their back. What is the end for one of the parts, it's only the beginning for the other.

The shattered party, aka the betrayed partner whose heart has been broken into a million pieces, goes into post-trauma shock disorder, the same PTSD suffered by veterans of war. There is little possibility right after disclosure (DDay) for the betrayed to control recurring thoughts about the affair and emotional flooding. The brain goes into a state of permanent attentiveness to the possibility of more betrayal and one way to cope with this is to put the unfaithful to the test.

Surpassing boundaries as a betrayed

In my case, apart from moving out, my pain led me to seek compensation. I wanted to hurt the AP so badly. I felt that it was so unfair for her to carry on with her life as if nothing had happened while my children and I were going through so much pain. I exposed my H and her to their boss, informing him about the affair. She was so scared that I felt somehow vindicated. I knew I had surpassed the boundaries that AffairRecovery.com recommends for safety but I couldn't help it. Only 6 weeks after Dday and 2 weeks after moving out, I was still bleeding profusely.

During all this time I had remained close to my husband in a sort of dissociated way. I will write a whole article about that topic explaining the multiple faces of dealing with infidelity. My heart was broken and yet still bursting with love for him. He remained firm on his purpose of making things work for us. Even though I kept doing things to hurt him, in a desperate attempt to test his motives, I also remained loyal and supportive in other ways.

The disclosure to the boss was a big breach of the safety net for the family. Contacting the AP is also a big no, no on AffairRecovery's list. Every time you go beyond the safety limits, you must do damage control. I apologised when I saw my husband in despair, begging me to stop doing things that would harm us as a family. I knew we were stuck together on certain things whether we liked it or not.

And it goes on

The breaching of safety boundaries has continued until recently. It has happened less often and I feel I don't need to continue exposing us with the disclosure of my husband's infidelity to anyone else. I would like to close this chapter with a letter to him. I hope any ex-unfaithful spouse can appreciate the intention. Let me know in the comments.

The letter 

Dear ex-unfaithful husband,

I want to thank you for sticking with me during the trying times after I discovered your affair. I am so happy this is now in the past. 

We went through periods during which I was willing to hurt myself just to hurt you, in a desperate attempt to soothe my pain. You never lost focus on your commitment to do whatever it took to save our marriage. 

Thank you for not attacking me back when I put you in vulnerable and dangerous positions. Thank you for refusing to go with your AP even when I left you alone so you could run to her. At least it was clear to you after DDay that the whole affair was a mistake, that it was unreal and that it wasn't worth risking your family. 

I appreciate that you acknowledged your responsibility for the way I was feeling that led to breaching the boundaries of safety for our family. It helped me focus on what is most important: my true feelings. 

Before I experienced your infidelity I thought people shouldn't work it out just for their children's sake. Now I know my children are a part of me and we all love you very much. It takes a lot of support to be able to see through the fog of social impositions in the face of betrayal. I was blessed with resources, friends and a supportive husband to start to see the light. 

I love you,

H.



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