Did I Choose Wrong?

This year has been full of doubts, flip-flopping, and wondering if I made the right decision. In one moment I am happy, confident, and blazing forward. In the next moment I am hesitant, untrusting, and overwhelmed with fear. Luckily, the latter moments are not in the majority. But the mere fact that they exist bothers me. All the books and articles say it takes two years to heal from infidelity as a betrayed spouse. But what does it truly mean to be healed?

To love is to be intensely vulnerable. To choose love means we also choose to know the loss of love. We are raised to believe that love is the antidote to loneliness, and all the emotions that accompany being alone: sadness, rejection, misery, and heartbreak. We live in a world that equates love with hope. But the truth is that choosing to love another person is the equivalent of asking them to hold a glass egg forever – at some point it will be dropped. And heartbreak is, well, heartbreaking. I believed with all my heart that my marriage was unique, our love was pure and unbreakable. The heartbreak I felt, and sometimes I still feel, was as if I lost something essential to my existence. Sometimes I still yearn to touch what I lost; to grasp it in my hands, pull it tight into my chest, close my eyes, and cherish it one last time.

Recently a friend of mine posted this quote on Facebook:


Heartbreak is heart breaking. It is painful and it is paralyzing. But we cannot let it define our future. Love can break us into a million pieces but it can also fill all the dark places that we never thought could be filled. Love, at it’s finest, feels as though I finally fit into myself. I clearly see myself, feel myself entirely, and my confidence exudes from my being when I give and receive love. Betrayal made me doubt all of that.

Somewhere along the path of healing I asked myself, repeatedly, did I choose the wrong man to marry? What if the answer is that we all choose wrong. It’s impossible to expect I knew at 23 years old what my needs would be at 35 or 46 or 52. I chose my husband because he offered familiarity, a compliment to me. I chose him because I never felt love in the way he gave it to me. I needed him and he needed me back. For better or worse.

Is it ever possible to know if we married the right person?

Every time I begin to fall into the doubts that still linger in the shadows of my mind I remember that love does not mean perfection. Love is having hope that as we break we will recover. Love is having the courage to believe that heartbreak does not mean devastation. Loving is risky business but somehow it’s the most desirable dream we share.

Sometimes I feel as if I am stuck in a Chinese finger trap – the more I pull, the more I am stuck in the same place. I just need to push, redefine the things I cherish, and move forward.



The Weight of Failure

I’ve never been comfortable with failure. I was the child that sat in the front row, center desk in school if seats weren’t assigned. I learned very early that not only do teachers tend to favor those students, but it is literally the best seat to learn from in a classroom. I also recall this feeling of failure or separation within me if I was seated in the back of the room.  It was hard to be a part of the discussion and I no longer felt included. I believed I could control my successes and limit my failures if I made all the right choices.

I was never taught to plan for failure. Relationships are not very different from everything else we engage in life. Yet, in business we understand that getting fired or a failed business plan can lead to success. One of the most famous stories of failure turned success is Steve Jobs. We herald Steve Jobs and view Apple dumping him as a catalyst for what we now use to define success. Steve Jobs may have never reached his full potential if he hadn’t been betrayed, devastated, and faced with failure – reassess and rebuild. Steve Jobs is quoted saying that what separates successful entrepreneurs from the rest is perseverance.


Very few of our failures are fatal. Yet, post D-day I felt as though I might collapse. I felt as though the weight of my husband’s affair might slowly suffocate me and there was a piece of my soul that was suddenly stolen. There is an emptiness within us that accompanies failure. I’ve spoken about this emptiness many times throughout the blog. There was a time I believed I could solve why I felt this way or maybe with time whatever was broken would heal, or maybe even regenerate like a starfish. My therapist told me three years ago that I should mourn the loss of this unnamed feeling/sense/being and acknowledge that it is gone.

Gone but not fatal.

Failure is a part of my story. But I keep going. I’ve picked up the pieces, reassessed, and rebuilt my life. My marriage is not the same as it was when we first fell in love. It’s different. Not every betrayed spouse can forgive and stay with the partner that cheated but we can all heal ourselves. The healing part of my story is what has defined this journey.

Am I harboring resentment from the way he treated me during his affair?

The primal questions of a marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What have we done to each other? What will we do? 

-Nick Dunne, Gone Girl Movie

Last night my husband and I watched Gone Girl. I started reading the book the summer before my D-day, but for some reason I never got further than the first two chapters. I might be the only woman in America that didn’t realize the movie plot was surrounded by infidelity. If you peel away the movie layers and focus on the infidelity – it hit a little close to home for me.  I think my husband and both froze when Amy said: “Want to test your marriage for weak spots? Add one recession, subtract two jobs. It’s surprisingly effective.”

As we walked out of the theater my husband said: “I guess I’m lucky.” And I responded: “Lucky, I’m not a psychopath? Yes.” I changed the subject, not because it was uncomfortable but because I didn’t want to change the mood of our evening. There are times when I really don’t feel like talking about the affair.

This morning as I woke up and the movie was still fresh on my mind I thought about the affair portrayed in the movie. It was relatable. Feeling used for sex. Feeling like something that was “ours” was no longer private. I could feel myself almost go blank, if that makes sense. It’s as if in order not to feel sadness or depressed about the past I need to go numb to the pain of the affair. The movie evoked feelings that still make me uncomfortable even if our marriage no longer resembles the shell it was during his affair. Why? I am still vulnerable to the way I felt during his affair. Not his affair, not the affair partner, but the way I felt about my marriage and my husband, and the way he treated me during the affair.

I amresentment not sure if I am harboring resentment or it’s just some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. I have made peace with what he has done and his relationship with Bat Shit. What I am struggling to let go of is the way he treated me. I felt diminished, I felt unappreciated, I felt disregarded, and I felt used. And it still haunts me. There are days when I just feel this divide – whether it’s real or imagined, I don’t know – but it renders me defeated. I don’t know how to function when he is having an off day or maybe he just needs time to himself. For me, it’s a trigger to the past, how I felt during the affair. And I question how I manage this too because I approach it as a mind-over-matter issue. Just focus on what is real, what is important, and not how you feel in this moment. I assume I am projecting his mood onto my own fears and emotions I would rather leave in the past. Then I fear, that’s how I dealt with those emotions during the affair – I didn’t acknowledge them then.

Resentment. I honestly don’t know if that’s what I feel or not. Do I resent my husband for what he did and how he treated me? I want to say no but I can’t say for certain. I just looked up the definition of the word resentment as I am typing. It’s possible I am.




the feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person,etc., regarded as causing injury or insult.

Triggers (again)

My husband and I were at Target last weekend doing some holiday shopping. It was late in the evening and we had just gotten in line to pay. My husband pulled his phone out of his pocket and saw he had two new text messages. It’s a new phone and he didn’t transfer his contacts properly so both text messages were from unidentified numbers. I glanced over to watch him open both messages. The first one said:

Thank you for making Thanksgiving special. I love you.❤

My heart immediately swelled and sunk like an anchor in my chest. I stared at the number and found my voice in time to ask:

Who’s that text from?

It was from his sister but before I realized it was her cellphone number I panicked. As we waited in line I thought about my reaction. I trust my husband. I am as positive as I can be that he’s not screwing around behind my back. But there I was, over two years since D-Day triggered by a text message. The triggers are different now than they used to be. Immediately after D-Day a trigger would send me into an emotional downward spiral. Once I was spiraling my thoughts would become daggers, stabbing me repeatedly until I was emotionally numb.

It’s different now. Now, it’s just a sinking feeling in my heart. The fear that this feeling will never completely go away. Fear that in spite of the affair losing its significance in my day-to-day thoughts, there is still an element of distrust that creeps in and has the power to steal my breath and stop my heart. After that, there is only one thought left:

Is this the rest of my life?

There is an episode of Sex and the City I recently saw that is all about triggers and the loss of security. Once Samantha decides to take Richard back after discovering he’s been cheating on her, they go away with the rest of the girls to Atlantic City. One night Richard cancels on tickets to boxing match because he needs to work. Samantha’s immediate fear is that he is cheating on her up in their hotel room and she races to the room in an attempt to catch him in the act. When she storms in the room she finds him sitting on the couch, laptop open – working. It’s in that moment she realizes that she can’t live her life second-guessing Richard’s every move. She breaks up with him to save her sanity and because she knows the trust they once shared is gone. I think Samantha’s reaction is common: leave the relationship because the triggers will never go away.

I see things differently. I know that breathless, heart stopping moment is fleeting. Triggers don’t have to be life defining. I can understand why betrayed spouses sometimes end their marriages/relationships because of that feeling and fear that you will never regain that security you had before the affair. I get it. But I believe my anxiety will continue to subside with time. I also recognize that the closeness and bond I share with my husband is something special. The way we fit together emotionally, mentally and physically is unparalleled and I don’t think I’ll ever share a connection like this with anyone else. So I carry on. I’m confronting my triggers. Mostly I continue to have faith that someday I will let go of all these insecurities.

this too shall pass

Will my marriage survive infidelity?

Often when you are diagnosed with a disease there are statistics that will tell you the survival rate. Those statistics can either give you hope or fill you with fear. Infidelity is not a diagnosable disease but recently I wondered:

Can you calculate the five-year survival rate for a couple after infidelity is discovered?

The first thing I discovered when I dove into my research is that there are no concrete statistics and information on infidelity. Infidelity is usually kept private. Many couples are just like my husband and I —anonymous. Infidelity is estimated to affect between 50—80% of marriages. Interesting enough, the statistics are almost even for men and women as the betrayer. I read a few different articles online and it’s very difficult to calculate how many marriages survive an affair. In most states, couples can have a no-fault divorce. In the state I live in, infidelity has no bearing on the divorce proceedings or child custody agreements. I only know that because I looked it up on my D-day. I wanted to know if I could take my children away from my husband if we decided to end our marriage. I look back now and realize how vindictive that thought is but I was hurt, lost and afraid. According to divorce records infidelity is stated as the cause of the end of marriage 17% of the time. Therapists surveyed have stated that infidelity is to blame for divorces as high as 80% of the time. The numbers are all over the place because infidelity is private. One also has to wonder if will couple site infidelity for their divorce if they try to make their marriage work and decide to end their marriage years later.

Native American Proverb-Healing after my husband's affairMany people go will never disclose infidelity occurred in their marriage. It is estimated that 2/3 of spouses will never find out their spouse cheated. I also read that most cheaters will never cheat again. I’m not sure if I believe that statement but it debunks the statement “once a cheater always a cheater.” I question that people only have one affair because I think most people would lie to cover an undetected affair to make themselves look better in the eyes of their spouse and/or anyone else. Although, I’ve also read that when an affair is discovered and the betrayer repents and atones for their mistake then another affair is highly unlikely.

All of these statistics are just numbers. When I started reading about infidelity survival rates it was because someone asked me if I believed my husband and I would make it five years. My reaction was immediate and spontaneous – I said yes, absolutely. Yet, a few weeks later I’m sitting here realizing that the survival of our relationship is not a guarantee.

Infidelity is like a disease in marriage. The instant I discovered my husband’s betrayal I was confused, angry and hurt. I married my husband because I loved him. I believed we were destined for each other and that he would never hurt me. His affair stole my sense of security in our relationship. The person I trusted the most in this world lied, deceived and betrayed me and I was completely unprepared. I look back on this “journey” now and realize that in the beginning I believed that my husband loved me and our marriage could kick infidelity’s ass. I want to silently prove to Bat Shit that she meant nothing. Sex every day of the week signified his commitment to me. I wanted to erase the affair from our life.

Two years later, I have a new view of my marriage and myself. I recognize that I chose my husband and there are likely no stars aligned that pre-destined our relationship.  Our relationship has never been perfect but the innocence of my love for my husband pre-affair allowed me to only see the good. Sometimes I wonder if my unflawed view of him clouded my judgment. Maybe that’s how love begins; we cannot see our lover’s weaknesses or our relationship’s flaws. Perfection is unrealistic and unattainable. Two people cannot be perfect in life or for each other. Two years after my D-day I can appreciate the imperfections of my marriage. We are together because we choose to be here, fighting for the survival of our marriage together. Just like being diagnosed with a disease, you can choose to fight for your life or you can accept defeat. Infidelity is not a death sentence.

Healing after affair

Questions I Asked After Discovering My Husband’s Affair

A few weeks ago I wrote a post and mentioned some questions I found right after discovering my husband’s affair. I was searching for answers. I was completely unprepared for what happened to me and I wanted someone to just tell me what to do next. The truth is no one could ever tell me how to navigate my life or make decisions about my marriage but I just wanted to hand my life over to someone else. I wanted to escape my life.

I’ve mentioned this before but the first question I asked my husband when I discovered his affair was:

Did you cheat on me because you wanted our relationship to end?

Truth Healing After My Husband's AffairThe reason I asked that question was because I needed to understand if he had already decided that our marriage was over. The media, Hollywood and everything we are ever taught teaches us that people have affairs to escape their marriages and begin new relationships. I find it interesting that now I’ve lived through an affair I see that affairs are generally not about the betraying spouse wanting out of the marriage. My husband never considered leaving our marriage while he was cheating. When I discovered the affair he had the opportunity to leave. I didn’t beg him to stay. I didn’t ask him to take care of me. He chose me and he chose to work on our marriage and himself. 

Some of my readers asked me to post the questions. I don’t know if I can find them all but while I was cleaning my bedroom today I found a notebook that I used after D-Day. It’s a little funny that I took notes on articles and books that I read since there wasn’t going to be an exam or a test on this crap. I guess I wanted to make sure I was paying attention. Here is what I wrote:

Gain Control

What are my emotions really telling me? 

What needs to change and what can I do to take those necessary steps? You cannot change what has happened to you but you do need to take responsibility for how you are handling the situation. 

Should I trust my feelings?

How can I tell if my partner is right for me?

Free yourself from the betrayal, the blame game, live in the present and move forward with positive thoughts. 

Trust-> Rebuild

Actions speak louder than words. Feeling safe becomes paramount. 
“I’m committed to you. You are safe.” You need to feel valued. 


You are not pardoning the betrayers actions, forgiveness is an emotional release. You are not condoning. You do not need to accept the behavior.

Forgiveness is not a reconciliation. Forgiveness is about lessening our emotional burdens and healing the pain of your heart.

People harm us from weaknesses that compel them to act. 

Forgiveness is inner healing not behavioral change.

We are responsible for what we do with our hurt. 

Courage Healing After My Husband's AffairBetrayer -> Solely responsible for their deception. Holding onto guilt is a choice. Self-forgiveness doesn’t relieve you of your responsibility for words or actions, but it releases you from self-contempt. With self-forgiveness brings compassion and understanding of who you are and why you acted the way you did. Reclaim what you must value in yourself. 

What is required for us to stay the course?

That’s all I wrote. I can tell you that after I asked my husband the first question about his affair we spent two hours sitting on a grassy hill near our house. I cried, I yelled, I felt hatred, anger and pain. I don’t really remember the questions I asked on that grassy hill but I do remember my husband kept saying Bat Shit was his friend and things spiraled out of control. I remember questioning if I would ever be able to forgive him. I wasn’t sure if an affair was something I could get over. He was terrified that I was going to leave him. I didn’t make any immediate decisions because I didn’t want to disrupt our children’s lives. I felt strongly this was our issue as a couple and we would only involve the kids if there was no other choice.

The questions I asked my husband continued from these notes for months. Almost the entire first year was spent asking everything and anything I could about my husband’s affair. He answered everything. I asked some pretty crazy questions too. I found that if something was bothering me or stuck in my head it was always best to just ask my husband. Usually, whatever was paralyzing my thoughts was much worse than the truth. I found that in asking questions that were so intimate and difficult my husband and I became closer. We started talking about topics that couples don’t generally discuss openly. Sex, emotional insecurities… everything. Looking back now I realize I wasn’t just asking my husband the tough questions, I was asking myself too, 

Strength Healing After My Husband's Affair


This too shall pass and you will be okay again

Immediately after my D-Day I was searching for the answers to questions I didn’t even have yet. I wanted to be validated, heard and know that there were women that survived infidelity. In the beginning I felt isolated and alone. I had no idea that I was joining a silent alliance of betrayed women. I had no idea infidelity was so commonplace. It’s possible I just had the misfortune of discovering the truth. Up until September 22, 2012 infidelity and betrayal was foreign to me. Affairs were reserved for the covers of magazines at the grocery store and the few broken marriages I knew of in my town. Pre-D-day, affairs = divorce. It had been ingrained into my head that an affair breaks the couple and eventually ends the marriage, women should not forgive a cheating husband because their behavior will repeat itself in time.

Betrayal Healing After My Husband's AffairThen, my D-Day happened. I was hurt, destroyed, and in pain, and I wasn’t sure if my marriage was over or not. I Googled questions and words and finally found a women that instructed me on what to ask my husband first: 

Did you do this because you wanted to end our marriage?

My husband’s answer was: “No.” I think he was actually shocked that I asked him that question. I imagine in his mind he was afraid that my knowledge of his affair was the end of our marriage for me. We sat at our dining room table when I asked that question. He sat with his shoulders down, fear and shame covering his face. I sat with blood-shot eyes, anger and sadness upon my face. I look back now on that moment and realize we both had no idea what to do next. We both wanted our marriage to continue but both of us feared the worst.

My Google searches eventually brought me to WordPress. I found countless blogs about betrayal. I found blogs written by betrayed wives, affair partners and wayward spouses. I had to learn a new language (AP, BS, OS, OW, D-Day, etc). I learned all the acronyms. Infidelity recovery is an underground movement. One that is amazingly strong but entirely clandestine. I wrote my first words about my husband affair on this blog. I hoped someone would hear me, respond, and let me know there was life after an affair. I needed to know I was not alone. Just like so many of my readers, I felt like I was treading water and I was afraid I might drown in my pain and sadness. It took the writer a few days to respond to me. She gave me a list of five things I needed to do and one item my husband needed to do on his own. I read her list repetitively and soaked in every word she wrote. I felt her instructions were my new Bible. Luckily, her advice was solid. [I only hope that I can give half the advice she succinctly gave me in five bullet-ed points.]

Eventually, I started my own blog and followed a few blogs including Surviving an Affair and Rescuing My Marriage. Months later, I saw on my reader feed that the Rescuing My Marriage blogger was going to be a guest on a conference call with Anne Brecht, the author of My Husband’s Affair Became the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me. I marked my calendar and told my husband I had to participate in this conference call. The night of the phone call I gathered all the house phones in the house (so that no child could listen in accidentally on this call) and sat in my bedroom. I was half excited and half afraid of what I might hear on the conference call. I recall Anne talking about affair recovery being one of the most challenging traumas to overcome. She spoke of women who have dealt with incurable disease diagnoses, tragedy and death before infidelity. Each of these women claimed that the betrayal from their spouse’s infidelity was the most difficult. At the time those words seemed a bit far-fetched but they were comforting to hear. What I was feeling might be the worst thing I will ever experience in my life. Ever since I heard those words I have questioned the validity of that statement. Perhaps it is true but I hope to never know.

Infidelity brings out the worst in people. Infidelity shames the couple. My husband’s affair made me feel as though I was an incompetent wife. If I had only done “XYZ” then he wouldn’t have cheated. Even as we try to rebuild our marriage I receive messages from Other Women telling me I am a fool for staying in my marriage and that my husband will never be faithful. Infidelity made me hide from family and friends. I didn’t want anyone to see my pain, depression and the uncertainty in my life. I didn’t want anyone to know my husband cheated. I hid my suffering to protect my marriage. Infidelity divides people. For some reason, people feel inclined to take sides and make judgments on the couple and their marriage. Infidelity is difficult to forgive so I chose to tell no one in order to not have to manage other people’s perceptions, opinions and advice. Infidelity pushed me into a dark hole and made me feel more isolated than ever before in my life. The one person I thought I could always trust was suddenly and inexplicably untrustworthy. 

Moreover, I no longer trusted myself. I believed with all my being that my life was what it appeared to be. I began living in safe mode. It’s like I pressed F8 the morning I woke up as a betrayed spouse. When I discovered my husband’s affair I was devastated and even if I discovered another element to the affair or received bad news, I was already suffering. There were days I thought I would welcome death. While that statement is absolute truth, I feel self-conscious admitting it. I never wanted to hurt myself but in the beginning stages of discovering my husband’s affair I felt dead inside, numb to my life. It took time but it’s difficult to live in a box. I feared living outside of safe mode to avoid being vulnerable again. As my life moved forward the pain subsided.The haze lifted and I believe now, perhaps, this is my new normal. 

I write this post for every woman (or man) that has just discovered the affair. The betrayed spouse who has just discovered this is their new identity. The pain you feel will subside with time. You will know what to do in time. Trust yourself.

Empty Spaces Healing After My Husband's Affair