The following is Jerry Wise's material that he has allowed me to share with you in the form of his blog. Jerry is an extremely busy man! Here is some of what he had to say about Post Affair Marital 'Stuckness'
Usually the spouse who had the affair gets stuck in a 'Can’t-we-move-on position/pattern'. The other spouse gets stuck in a 'I-can’t-forgive-or-trust-you' position/pattern. The spouse who went outside the marriage is overly anxious to move on and is tired of answering the many thousands of questions asked by their spouse. They may answer again and again and again but it never seems to be good enough or complete enough. They may ask for forgiveness, but it does not seem to be effective in helping the couples move forward and get unstuck. The wayward spouse feels frustrated and resentful of the faithful partner. This tends to exacerbate the old pain which reminds them of how poor marriage was they had before the affair. The betrayed spouse now has a lot more leverage to be critical and hurtful. The unfaithful spouse doesn't feel loved or accepted by the spouse they betrayed. The spouse who was cheated on, tends to obsess about the affair and about the hurt it caused. They ask a thousand questions to try to find some new bit of information that might help them discover their spouse is still untrustworthy. They feel fearful they are unloved and feel the emotional pain of abandonment and betrayal. They struggle with anger; resentfulness and they suffer from wounded self-esteem. They are stuck in unforgiveness and obsessive thoughts; the affair is never far from their mind. The Spouse who had the affair is stuck trying to get out of the past and into the future. The Spouse who was betrayed is stuck in the past. Neither live in the present. The spouse who was betrayed is stuck always feeling suspicious, waiting to be hurt again, waiting for the other shoe to drop. They keep thinking “When can I really trust you again?” They do not feel loved or feel special.
After an affair most couples don’t start at baseline again. They don’t start over again with a clean slate. They must try to live in the difficult relationship that they had before the affair and plus now deal with post affair feelings on top of this! The partner who had the affair frequently feels on the defensive and always defending behavior, calls, attitudes, schedule, etc. They think, “When have I paid for my affair? When will I be trusted again? I’ve told you everything and don’t know what more I can say?” This partner also lives with the guilt and shame and many times some powerful left-over feelings for the affair partner. They feel “much less than” the betrayed partner. They also feel the unresolved feelings from the bad marriage they had before and now it is layered with the affair feelings of hurt, anger, and mistrust.
Don’t try to sort it out on your own, you’ve probably already tried and made things worse, or it has just taken you in circles. An affair-proof marriage is possible! It not just about accountability, watching the cell phone or monitoring where someone goes and who they are with. It’s about learning intimacy and mature relationship love with increased self-differentiation and self-esteem, resolving family of origin issues and healing broken understandings about intimacy, love, and marriage that they brought INTO the marriage. When couples are stuck in the patterns I have just described, they continue in having a “relationship with the affair”. They are stuck in a triangle between husband/wife and affair. Their marriage has three partners, not two. Get a good therapist or coach! Couples still love each other and care about each other they don’t know the road to...
1. Uncoupling with the affair
2. Resolving the problems in the marriage which set the stage for an affair
3. Experiencing an affair-proof marriage
Two Secrets for Recovery after an affair
1. Affair recovery requires counter-intuitive thinking and a personal recovery process for both spouses. We tend to think an affair causes too much distance between couples. Actually, it produces too much togetherness, closeness-reactivity, fusion, enmeshment between the couple which makes healthy space, intimacy and love impossible.
2. This triangle of spouse/spouse/affair is what keeps a couple stuck. There are some very effective ways to break this triangle. Honestly, an affair causes a couple to become too CLOSE emotionally rather than too distant.
Contact me and I’ll show you why. I don’t mean close in a healthy way; I mean close in a very unhealthy way - fused.