Saturday, July 07, 2007

Chapter 23 - Pop-up Ads

Here we are, nearly 6 years into recovery. It is rare that I think about the affair. Somethimes, though, something happens or comes up and it is a real struggle to take control of my thoughts, even this far into the battle.

Sometimes it is good to think about the affair. Say you find yourself in a situation where a person of the opposite sex is flirting with you, and you are married and have survived an affair. That would be a very good time to remember the affair as a reminder that no good, and a lot of pain, can result from a bad decision.

Or, like something we are going through right now, when you have friends who are going through marriage problems and you can see the train wreck coming. Someone says they just aren't happy with their spouse, he/she loves her/him but is not "in love" anymore (what the heck does that mean, anyway?), and so forth. That's a good time to think about the affair, because our experience can help someone. We can tell them that we've been there; they aren't alone; they are in a very dangerous spot and need to pay attention to the warning signs; but that with hard work, counseling, and faith, they can get back on track.

But most of the time, it just isn't helpful to think about the affair. It robs you of your joy and keeps you from seeing the good things about your wife, your marriage, your life.

When those thoughts come up, I call them "pop-up ads." Those blasted ads come up all the time on my computer. Buy this; get a loan; find your classmates. Is anything more annoying? When those pop-up adds come up, I immediately close them. Click - no thank you. Click - no thank you. Click - no thank you.

I do the same thing when thoughts of the affair come up. "She's going back to work -- she'll cheat again." Click - no thank you. I don't need that. "Your bad day at work happened because you aren't good enough - you're worthless and that's why she cheated." Click - no thank you.

You get the picture. With unwanted thoughts, like unwanted ads, it takes an act of the will to say, "That's not true - I don't need that thought and I'm not going to feed it or let it in." It is so much easier now than it was at first, and to this day some unwanted thoughts are stubborn and persistent.

I had what you might call a setback this week. My wife is late, as in she might be pregnant. We've sort of let nature take its course, not really trying to get pregnant and not really trying not to get pregnant. We have one child, and my wife's post-partem depression after his birth was a key event that led up to our marriage problems and the affair (that wasn't the only reason, mind you, and I contributed mightily to the marriage problems that made it too easy for one of us to decide to have an affair).

When she told me that she was late, I felt panicky inside. It was a "here we go again" feeling, and I'm having trouble shaking it. It may be more accurate to say that I became aware of my feelings, but they've actually been lingering for a while. They were lingering to the point, I realize now, that I was probably avoiding sex -- not completely, obviously, but I think part of me has been pulling away because (1) no sex means no pregnancy, and in my unacknowledged, flawed logic, no pregnancy meant no affair; and (2) if you put walls around your heart, you don't get hurt.

Once I became aware of these feelings, I could begin knocking them down. I knock them down by reminding myself of the truth: We want another baby. If she gets pregnant again, that does not mean she will have an affair. We're stronger now, and history is not going to repeat itself. And avoiding intimacy, and putting up the walls, is not the way to avoid pain. It causes its own kind of pain and cheats you of the joy of a good relationship. I repeat these truths to myself, sometimes even writing them down, and fight my bad logic with good logic. Fight lies with truth. Click, no thank you.

I'll keep at it for a while, making these unwanted thoughts a matter of prayer. If the pop-up ads just won't go away, I'll make an appointment with our counselor (the equivalent of running a virus scan?).

The point is this: Even after a long time, and even when things are going really well, I still have to be vigilant against hurt, anger, and resentment. I have to remind myself occasionally that I have forgiven my wife, and certain thoughts are no longer welcome. Over time, I have learned to deal with these in what I think is a healthy way, but it is a skill that I had to develop. You can control your thoughts and you can choose not to be weighed down by the past.

Soon it will be time to take a pregnancy test. Those pop-ups may come up again, but I choose not to let the distant past rob me of happiness today. Maybe, just maybe, we are about to enter another great chapter of our lives, and I absolutely refuse to miss it.

EDIT: Nope, not pregnant. Maybe next time.

11 Comments:

At 2:20 AM , Blogger The Cat said...

It hasn't been a year for us yet...but the affair is absolutely everywhere. For her it absolutely dominates everything she says and does. It's like the rest of our lives are simply pop up ads that give some relief from time to time.

Tough going on this end.

Pleasing to read that you made it through the storm.

 
At 10:00 AM , Blogger Just Surviving said...

I do like the 'pop-up ads' technique. I will have to try that one. I have been using the 'stop sign' technique, as recommended to me by a hypnotherapist, which works sometimes - depending where my hormones are at the time!

 
At 11:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome blog.

We went on to have our 3rd child after my dh's affair. It was a trigger for me since his affair started when our second child was 6wks old ( Our first was 2yrs old at the time). It wasn't easy but we had the 'tools' this time around to take care of each other and recognize old patterns. We are now almost 4yrs out of D day and happy. I agree though...it never leaves it just get a little less painful over time. I am also glad we respected our marriage vows to try to rebuild for better or worse. I also felt a strong sense of responsibility to our sons at the time to try and save the marriage. I hate when people say you should never stay for the kids....but I certainly agree you should at least try for the kids!!

Again..great blog in that the emotions were freakishly familiar.
Continued blessing for you and your family.

 
At 12:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read this blog from start to finish and I could not have written a truer account of the feelings I have experienced as a result of my husband's 1 and 1/2 year affair with a co-worker. It has been one year since I accidently discovered it via text messaging on his cell phone. I still love him and we are attending counseling to put humpty-dumpty back together again. Pray for us to heal. The pain is overwhelming at times, both for me and my adult children, and for him. Your blog rings TRUE! and gives me hope that we can manage this devestation also.

 
At 12:45 PM , Blogger Buckeye Wife said...

It's only been a few months for us. I HATE those pop-ups. The can come up at any time. Sometimes I can conquer them, and sometimes they knock me down. So glad it is possible to survive infidelity. So sad that it never really goes away.

 
At 9:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the idea of closing the pop up ads. I had just decided to try that two weeks ago. Obviously, I wasn't able to close an ad or I wouldn't be on this website, but I'm glad to learn that someone else has been using and liking this technique.

 
At 1:17 AM , Anonymous Lost said...

Recently found out husband had 6 month affair. I have two boys and so scared about what to do. We have been going to counseling and he says he wants to be here and that he is sorry but I honestly don't know how to survive this. I feel as if my best friend has died. Just found enhancement pills yesterday in his bag.

 
At 2:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Year 5 after being the guilty party. You never forgot all the hurtful things she says either and those pop up also. Not saying what you are thinking because of an old wound, or fearing that she still has one in the chamber to use (have a affair of her own). But I ask myself is my life better with her? Is her life Better with me. Are my children happy?
As long as I get 3Y's I forge on. Things are getting more normal and I'm out doing things I enjoy without her but still can't write any new music.
I still have an intense need to be around her and touch her.
I have no desire to date anyone else, just want my family.

 
At 10:08 AM , Blogger anonymous said...

Hi "Year 5" -- You make an important point that both parties hurt after an affair. My blog has focused more on the betrayed spouse -- that's what I was -- but we need to remember that we don't have a monopoly on pain. And I have come to believe that I shouldn't get on my high horse, because I could have been the one to have an affair (and anyone who reads this and says "Oh no, not me," is deluding themselves. I think a lot of people who cheat would have said the same thing a year before their affair.

Hats off to you for trying. If your wife is still saying hurtful things after 5 years, she obviously has a lot of healing to do. If these are things she said early own, and you're dealing with the memory of those statements, you may have some healing to do, and may need to forgive yourself. Whichever the case, please consider seeing a counselor.

Good luck.

 
At 9:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's coming up on one year since D-Day. We are finally in counseling, he's admitted the affair but won't share the details. I require the details, no matter how bad it will hurt, in order to attempt to rebuild trust. The pop-up ad example is a great one. I was going through a good period, feeling confident and more able to handle things but got blind-sided by a pop up. He's traveling again for work, and I know she'll be there. And a year ago he was fully in it with her. We'd only been married less than 2 years (together for 5) when it happened. I know I could walk away and be fine. Your blog is helping me weigh the pros and cons of staying or leaving.

 
At 10:49 AM , Blogger Author said...

Anon,

You say you "could walk away and be fine?" Good for you. That doesn't mean you have to walk away, of course. You still may decide to stay. If you decide to stay and give it a shot, your chances of success will be much better (in my opinion) if you know in your heart that you will be OK no matter what.

Good luck.

 

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