When infidelity turns your life upside down, self-help books provide the hope that there is some kind of roadmap back to safety. At least, that’s the theory. But how do they work in practice?
Please meet my guest blogger, Helen Tower of Sailing Through Infidelity, who has kindly offered to share her thoughts on how my book How Can I Ever Trust You Again? helped her on her journey towards trusting her husband again.
“How Can I Ever Trust You Again?”
As I was sailing through the painful aftermath of discovering my husband’s infidelity, Andrew G. Marshall noticed I had questions about being able to trust again.
Andrew has become an important member of my Twitter tribe of a few therapists who listen virtually to a bunch of betrayed spouses and a few brave betrayers on their quest to recovery.
We all want to recover from trauma, we all want to live a happier life. That’s why I decided to order the printed version of the book that Andrew recommended How Can I Ever Trust You Again?
Personally, I don’t want to settle for less than a life even happier than the one I had before my husband considered cheating: that is why I read and review books on affair recovery.
I had already read several other books on infidelity, but I found many useful nuggets for everyday life in How Can I Ever Trust You Again?
From discovery to recovery, as Andrew puts it, I was nine months in—and I was feeling stuck. What happened, I wondered, once we had done all that our counsellor outlined to find happiness in our marriage again?
I really liked the idea of the seven steps presented in the book to be able to trust my ex-unfaithful husband again. Although we are probably at stage five, I started from the very beginning, as there are many tips from the earlier stages that are still useful later on.
Stage One: Shock and Disbelief
Betrayal shatters trust, so the triggers I face can make me feel suspicious even today. Andrew helpfully explains the difference between legitimate worry and being paranoid.
I love that he encourages the reader to write lists of facts, feelings and thoughts. I had already experienced creative writing as a powerful tool to organise ideas and even heal from trauma before my husband’s affair.
When you have a gut feeling about something being out of place, you need to carry out a perfect inquiry to find out the truth as efficiently as possible. The book provides you with prompts, questions and specific words you can incorporate in conversations with your partner.
These are great tips to improve communication in your life forever—not just post-affair.
Stage Two: Intense Questioning
We were already over this stage when I got the book, as my husband had disclosed all I needed to know during the first three months after discovery day.
I still benefited, though, from the statistics quoted by Andrew. It is comforting to see that we are not alone in our predicament and that there are other cases in which the discovered is not willing to disclose the information that is important for the healing of the discoverer.
I found particularly useful a reminder about an equation that I had come across before. I don’t think you can look at this too many times:
Problem + poor communication + temptation = infidelity.
Stage Three: Decision Time
Should you stay or should you go? Andrew describes eight different types of affairs and how one can evolve into another. My husband’s affair started “accidentally” with a colleague and evolved into “self-medication”.
It was very useful to understand the reasons that facilitate the particular type of infidelity, the implications and the personality traits behind them.
The visualization exercise—where you imagine you and your partner years into the future—helps put the affair into perspective. It provides a solid base for you to decide whether to fight for your marriage (with or without your partner’s cooperation).
Stages Four, Five and Six: Hope, Attempted Normality and Despair
These are the stages of the cha-cha-cha dance. Emotional flooding, triggers, lovemaking, reconnection, reality checks, transparency and childhood traumas and beliefs. I feel that I jump from one of these stages to any other without warning and in no particular order.
The examples provided plenty of situations I could identify with. There is a lot of information to take in, so I highlighted the exercises that apply to our case.
I’m planning to keep the book as a reference for the times when I need a reminder of how far we’ve come in recovering from this life-altering experience.
The silver lining
The book includes an extra chapter for diversions, derailments and dead-ends before looking at the Seven Lessons we can learn from infidelity.
This is not an experience that is desirable but if it happens, we must make the best out of it. You can come out a stronger person, with better communication skills and knowing who the best people are to keep in your life.
It is not over…
I cannot say I will ever trust my husband the same way I did before the infidelity. I never thought he would lie to me the way he did.
I have written my own story in a book that attempts to present the facts as raw as possible. Since I’ve kept my identity secret, I share many details that have helped other people find support. You are not alone if you are Sailing Through Infidelity. You can also connect with me on Twitter or Facebook.