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The Infidelity Car Crash; The Carnage of Infidelity

Photo by Dominika Kwiatkowska on Pexels.com

*Content warning; this is a creative writing piece describing how the first 18 months of recovery felt for me, I’ve used some strong imagery that may be an emotional trigger for others who are on a similar journey. Please proceed with caution.


You’re cruising down a long straight stretch of country road in this car called marriage. 

A familiar road, one you’ve both driven down a thousand times.

Sitting comfortably on 110kmph it’s a smooth open road, there’s no speed limit. 

Singing along to your favourite Spotify playlist, he’s humming in tune with the music.

Something catches his eye he becomes distracted, glancing sideward for a little too long his eyes fix on an object in his peripheral.

By the time he diverts his attention back to where it should be it’s too late. 

Over correcting, the marriage car slams into a tree.

There’s screeching of brakes, your song turns into a scream then a deathly thud, carnage is strewn across the road and into a paddock.

The marriage car is a mangled mess, your bodies lay motionless, barely a pulse. 

Plumes of smoke and dust billow from the wreckage.

Blood is pouring out of gaping wounds, you’ve been pierced by debris.

He’s not bleeding but he’s hurt, badly hurt.

Emergency services arrive and once you’ve been freed from the wreckage you’re both rushed into the ED.

Your condition is critical lapsing in and out of consciousness, suffering substantial injury you’re placed on life support in ICU. 

He’s ok but in a lot of pain, suffering concussion and a broken wrist. His body badly bruised, he’ll recover.

He watches you fighting for life, tubes helping you breathe, buzzers, monitors, Drs & Nurses fussing. 

You’ve lost a lot of blood they’ve stitched the wounds and you’ve stopped hemorrhaging for now.

No one is sure if you’ll make it through.

Sitting beside you, he’s wracked with guilt. 

He did this, if only he kept his eyes on the road, if only he didn’t get distracted, if only….

You wouldn’t be in this mess you wouldn’t be so broken.

Three to six months you’re in this state. 

It’s touch and go. 

He’s still there watching you, wishing he could fix it, wishing he could change the past, wishing he didn’t make such a bad decision, wishing he didn’t look sideways.

He can’t fix or change anything, he can just sit and be there hoping and praying you’ll recover. 

Surprisingly the marriage car is not a complete write off as first thought, it’s gone in for assessment, maybe it can be repaired?

After 6 months of critical care you’re moved to a ward. In the crash you received two broken legs, fractured ribs, punctured lung and broken ankles, crushed pelvis and both eye sockets were broken, your jaw was dislocated.

You were a mess, the recovery road is long, but you’ll make it, we think.

He’s been doing Physio to help himself heal and he’s been there with you.

He still beats himself up that he caused this, but he’s determined to help you heal too.

While you’re in the ward you’re beginning to sit up, you still need help showering and the Physio’s are helping you get out of bed each day. Plasters are off, you’re out of traction. You’ve kind of been wired back together with pins, it feels weird but at least you’re beginning to get sensation back.

For the next twelve months, you undergo intensive physiotherapy and as an outpatient, you’ll continue daily at home.

He picked you up from hospital in the remodelled marriage car.

You were really frightened to get in. Everything flashes before you. 

What if it happens again? 

What if it’s not safe? 

The kids are in the car this time. 

They want you to get in, they want to bring you home. 

Dads been fixing things around the house to make it safe for you too, it looks completely different, way better than before.

He opens the passenger side door for you, you tentatively hop in, he’s in the drivers’ seat.

As he cautiously pulls out of the hospital park, he tells you the panel beaters and mechanics worked hard repairing the mess.

They replaced every damaged component and it’s got a brand-new engine. 

There are even new leather seats. 

It’s a miracle they could make anything of it. 

He thinks the marriage car might even be better than before, you’re not so certain…

He’s still doing Physio, he wishes he could help you with yours, but he can’t, and you can’t help him with his. 

The best thing you can both do is your own work and encourage each other to keep going.

Some days you feel stronger than others.

Some days you get flashbacks of the crash and just want the world to swallow you up.

Some days you just want to die, some days you want to blame him, he did this to you, he caused you to feel so broken. 

You look at him and see the remorse in his face, you see pain and you see love.

You can do this.

After about 18 months you’re walking unaided, slowly and tentatively but look how far you’ve come. 

You run into an old acquaintance they’d heard you’d had a bit of an accident. 

They tell you you’re looking great, you thank them for being kind. 

Although the physical scars are all but healed the internal injuries have still got a way to go. You’re getting there, heading in the right direction, still doing what the Drs have said.

He’s still there too, he’s supported you when you’ve needed, encouraged you.

He’s also invested in assertive driving courses to make certain nothing like this will happen again.

He’s not taking his eyes off the road again.

Blind spot detectors and lane departure warning sensors have been installed.

You’re beginning to think that the marriage car is better than ever and you’re both committed to maintaining it, taking turns in booking services, keeping fuel in the tank and making sure it has regular tune-ups. 

You both want the marriage car to last a lifetime, with care, it will.

Infidelity hurts, really hurts. It’s not just the betrayal or betrayals that pierce you to the core, it’s all of the behaviours which accompany betrayal. The undermining, gaslighting, lies, secrets, sneaking around, deception, losses; an endless list of loss and grief.

There really are no winners in an affair fog, a delusional state of momentary fun, games and selfishness, deceit is a heavy burden to carry.

Beware the lure of greener pastures.

There are mountains to climb and valleys to sit in, no matter which road you take to recovery.

God Bless,

Noni & Dave xxx

Can Leopards Change Their Spots?

Once a Narc, Always a Narc? I’m not so sure.

This kind of thinking is too black and white for me and I feel that the mindset only encourages unaccountability and a victim mentality.

2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that “God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but (He has given us a spirit) of power and of love and of sound judgement and personal discipline (abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control).” AMP

People can change, if they want to!

I read somewhere that by the time a person begins searching google for terms like “narcissism, emotional abuse, passive-aggressive behaviour, coercive control, what is covert abuse etc” that they have likely been a victim in an abusive relationship for quite some time. Either that or they’re doing research for study or asking for a friend

In 2018 after almost 25 years of marriage, I began searching these terms.

The word covert is an adjective—meaning hidden, not openly acknowledged or displayed, secret, stealthy, behind-the-scenes, undercover, sneaky, sly, concealed, hush-hush and so forth.

Covert abuse begins in the most subtle of ways, it’s a little dig here, a sarcastic remark there, the odd snide comment and it could be regularly occurring oversights or forgetfulness. When you let your abuser know that their actions don’t sit well with you, you’re told, “It’s just a joke, lighten up, don’t take everything so seriously, you’re overreacting, I didn’t do it on purpose, I didn’t mean it”.

It’s kind of hard to believe that people who use these tactics could be unaware that their behaviour is actually abusive, yet that is exactly what it is. These personalities are often charming and sophisticated, and they’re cunning—they are so darn good at their manoeuvres that even an intimate partner feels confounded and conflicted. They’ll have you convinced that you’ve misunderstood them. It’s not that the person on the receiving end of hidden abuse is dumb or stupid or blind (even though this is how they’re made to feel), they are usually trusting, empathetic, kind, patient and generous—a perfect blend of characteristics—suiting the covertly narcissistic personality to a tee.

Let me clarify here though, displaying narcissistic tendencies is quite different from the true psychologically diagnosed condition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. NPD is not, I repeat not, common at all. In fact, only 0.5%-1% of the general population are in this category.

On the other hand, behaving narcissistically is all part of the human condition. How far along the spectrum anyone sits is entirely variable.

Why is this so difficult to recognise in an intimate partner? Well, the covertly abusive person appears to be the fun-loving, caring, charming, cool as a cucumber nice guy or girl most of the time (image is critical for them and it is important that they are liked), these behaviours are also displayed at home, family do receive the good as well as ahhh the other side. It couldn’t be all bad because then they would have no one and that’s what they probably fear the most—being alone.

The problem is that the nice guy or girl facade is cyclical. Behaviour worsens over time due to lack of ownership and playing the victim then before you know it, for no apparent reason, the rug is swiftly pulled out from underneath and you’re left reeling and wondering time and again, what the heck was that?

None of my husbands work colleagues, family or friends would ever have suspected the covert cruelty he was capable of, and if you asked him, his behaviour was always justified as being completely normal or someone else’s fault, namely me or the kids, or the cashier at Coles, or the football referee or whoever he believed was to blame for how he felt.

Blame, denial and avoidance are the childish defensive mechanisms of a 2-year-old. Unfortunately, these toddler brain traits are actively at work in adults who have not yet learnt how to have true compassion, empathy and self-control. They strive to protect themselves from any perceived or real threat to their identity, using, anger, control, manipulation and resentment while they coercively attack those they “love”.

Sound familiar?

Dave’s still discovering and peeling back layers of hidden behaviour, (you can’t change what you don’t know is there right?) I’m having to learn how to navigate this new algorithm of growth and discovery. It’s not easy by a long shot but I’m better at responding assertively, speaking and sticking to my truth, setting firm boundaries, calling the behaviour for what it is and holding sufficient ground in our partnership. He’s better at self-regulating and understanding what is driving his reactions thanks to discovering a handful of amazing online resources. Paul Colaianni Steven Stosny and Lundy Bancroft

Sadly this “normal male behaviour” is far too acceptable and way too common, it has to be called by its correct name: ABUSE and the men are ABUSIVE or ABUSERS, not that many will identify as that, the covert is horrendous, if we walked around with a black eye or fat lip, people would be outraged, but for us, we are questioned and our reality is met with doubt, no one can see the invisible scars we carry“. Noni

Historically there is not a lot of voice given to the dangers of this coercive behaviour. Much like affairs, this kind of abuse is rampant in politics and sport, portrayed unashamedly in movies and media—society is vastly desensitised. Covert abuse is raging, and not enough people are standing up to talk about it. The church is also ill-equipped in recognising and dealing with it effectively, thus allowing the harm to perpetuate our faith communities.

If you’re left scratching your head and spinning your wheels in your relationship—wondering why you feel confused a lot of the time, check out this list Learn to Recognise 26 Covert Abusive Tactics A person might not exhibit every trait but there may be several nuances that ring true for you.

Sadly, the statistics of how many male abusers change long term is very very low and although most won’t, it is not because they can’t. Recovery takes a long time, requires consistent effort, a lot of hard work and they must want the change for themselves.

Is it worth it? We both think so.

Dave’s demonstrated greater courage and determination over the last 3 years than he’s ever done during our 31 years together.

He is doing intensely deep work on and for himself daily, and this instils hope for our future. Why would I give up on us now?

Will Dave be counted among the minority of men who continue doing the work needed to experience lasting change?

I pray sweet Jesus that he is.

Here is great interview with an abusive man who could very well be Dave talking.

Noni xxx

Amazing Grace

GRACE is the unmerited favour of God toward mankind...

Grace can’t be bought or earned and none of us is deserving.

It’s a free gift borne out of divine love.

Billy Graham says “Our human mind, with it’s philosophy of an equal return of favours done, can hardly comprehend the full meaning of this grace of God”

Anyone who has read our memoir might recall from chapter 6, that I extended grace to Dave’s affair partner in 1994. This prompting had nothing to do with me being an exceptional woman or anything remotely close to amazing. It had everything to do with God’s grace in my own life.

Before anyone considers doing the same though, a wee bit of advice—examine your motives thoroughly and be prepared for any outcome. Although I have no regret over my gesture towards Karen in 1994, if my expectation was for honour and loyalty from them in return, I would have—at best been sadly disappointed and at worst—mortally wounded. Proceed with caution.

There is so much freedom in extending grace to others and even more extending to yourself.

We are so good at beating ourselves up over stuff that is out of our control or is a consequence of other peoples choices.

How often do we feel like a failure if we screw up, let others down or think we don’t measure up. What good is a comparison?

You are you, uniquely and wonderfully created, be kind to yourself and know that you are loved just as you are.

Walk confidently and receive this incredible free gift.

AmazingGrace

Noni xxx

The olive branch is a symbol of peace—an offer or gesture of conciliation or goodwill

Trusting the Process

When Dave and I discovered the Affair Recovery website in 2019, we felt enormous relief that there were people in the world, ‘just like us’. People sitting on both sides of the infidelity fence, ones who wanted and managed to salvage their marriage and also ones who didn’t.

We found a well of resources drawn from depths of experience, articles and vlogs from the likes of AR founder Rick Reynolds, Samuel, Wayne Baker, Leslie and John Harding. Men and women who had shared the same pain as we had, yet somehow succeeded in rebuilding their lives. We needed to learn all we could from those who had gone before us.

We felt validated, we even dared to see a glimmer of hope.

I quickly enrolled in a program for the betrayed, hoping to find support and guidance through my recovery journey and Dave enrolled in the program for unfaithful spouses. I was thankful that such programs existed.

But wait, hang on a minute…

Why should the unfaithful be cared for after they have caused so much pain to their betrayed spouses and families? Shouldn’t they be left hung out to dry, shamed, punished, tarred and feathered?

I needed to heal, I needed to be nurtured, I needed to feel safe, how is this new group Dave’s joining going to be a safe space for him, and us!

Is it safe for my cheating husband to meet in groups with other men who have betrayed their partners?

Aren’t they all deviates who shattered their relationships by betraying their significant others?

What kind of horrible things will they be discussing—I mean—there are a lot of serial offenders out there, my husband being one!

Won’t they corrupt each other further?

Will it be like some kind of blokes club where they boast about their conquests?

Will they lament over the loss of the other women/porn/seduction/secrets and excitement.

Is it safe, will he be safe, what if he decides it’s too hard and gives up working on recovery?

Am I safe? My amygdala was going crazy, am I safe, am I safe, am I safe?

AND THIS… Why am I asked to sign a contract saying that I will not read his notes???

OMG, how this one sent me into a tailspin. Why on earth am I being asked to sign a contract, I’ve done nothing wrong, he’s already kept everything hidden from me and now I’m being asked to give him more privacy or more opportunity to keep his filthy rotten secrets private.

Does he even deserve it?

I struggled big-time with this.1

I told him that my promise was good enough, he should accept my word, just as I had his all of these years. I could tell him that I would not read his notes (and I meant this) but I don’t think I could bring myself to sign it. My ego wouldn’t let me, it was the principle of the matter.

I think I may have even said things like, “What does a signature on a contract mean if a person can’t keep their word? You signed our marriage certificate but that meant nothing to you did it?” “Your promise was not worth the paper it was written on, why should this be any different”

No, I was not full of grace at all.

You see a traumatised brain has a hard time trying to find any semblance of safety when it’s been hurt so badly. How the heck could I trust anything after what I’d been put through, and then to be asked to give him space and heaven forbid privacy to diarise any dark thoughts and feelings…

Although I desperately wanted Dave to get to the bottom of why he did everything he did to crush me, the truth is I was scared—absolutely terrified—of letting go of having any control over Dave’s healing process, yet I had to accept I was not in control.

Only Dave could do Daves work and only I could do mine.

I believe that it is difficult for us humans to trust in a process that we are not in control of. I’ll put my hand up first and say that this is true for me.

So what did Dave find in this 17-week group with a handful of unfaithful men?

He found Hope for Healing, gained internal strength, had accountability and received support through a structured program that was the beginning of him understanding himself in a way that he’d never known before. He met broken courageous men who weren’t afraid to cry and be vulnerable and honest with each other. Men, filled with genuine remorse and humility, men dedicated to repairing the damage they’ve done to their marriage and the agony they’ve inflicted upon partners they love deeply. Men who are taking responsibility for their actions and choices, men committed to becoming better men, men of honour.

Through this course and all of the subsequent ones he has mentored and led, Dave continues to meet incredible men and discovers more about himself.

Peeling back the layers, like an onion, getting to the sweet spot.

All of my initial fears, though valid, were completely unfounded, we are in this together.

I’m in charge of keeping my side of the street clean and Dave’s in charge of his.

Trust the process…

Noni xxx

Only those who stick around long enough to see the caterpillar turn into a butterfly actually get to witness the transformation

Kristin Michelle Elizabeth

1PS. The reason why a betrayed spouse is asked to sign a contract not to read any of the unfaithful’s workbooks or notes is for their own benefit, to minimise more harm and further trauma. What an unfaithful person writes in a moment may be true for them at the time but not necessarily the truth. It can take many years for them to fully understand the why behind the choices, they can be caught up in limerence or in a place of ambivalence. And in case you’re wondering—no—I have never looked at any of Dave’s notes, I may have been tempted on occasion but have resisted the urge until the urge no longer exists.

The Rabbit Listened

Someone very near and dear to Dave and I, someone who has known us for many years, is reading our memoir. Each time I speak with them, the same comment is made, “I don’t know how you put up with it”. During our last conversation they remarked, “Why didn’t you ever say anything?” “How come when you knew about XYZs affair you never said anything?” So, even though this person has known us for our entire marriage they knew nothing of the issues we faced—after all, they were our issues.

It’s not as if I didn’t share with anyone, it’s just that I didn’t share with everyone.

Why wouldn’t I discuss my problems with certain people? Was it because I was trying to hide what went on? Was it because I was trying to protect an image? Was it because I was trying to project a different reality or was it because I knew that there was no wisdom in sharing my heart where there was little hope of empathy and understanding, and I mean this in the nicest possible way.

It’s only natural that people who love and care for us also have the innate desire to protect us. (Admittedly, this is what an unfaithful spouse vowed to do—yet didn’t—for their own reasons).

People who love us don’t want to see us hurting; sometimes though, their attempts to sit with us in our pain often feel more like they’re urging us to take a page from their own action plan.

Perhaps they haven’t learned the skill of empathy yet, some have no idea what it is, and then there are others—thankfully a minority—who are literally incapable of showing it.

In a worse case scenario, with reckless regard to keeping confidence, our pain may even become someone else’s fodder for gossip.

When we experience trauma of any kind—no matter how it manifests and regardless of the scale—we rarely need other people to give us their opinions.

We just need them to “show up”.

We don’t need fixing, we don’t need to be told what they would do if it was them, we don’t need to just get over it, we don’t need judgement and we don’t need comparisons.

We need empathy and we need wisdom. Godly wisdom, not man’s wisdom. So before we broadcast our pain, pray for discernment, not everyone is able to support us in ways that are beneficial to our healing.

Brené Brown says “empathy rarely begins with, at least…”

How do you “show up” for others?

This is a question I must reflect on myself…

Noni xxx

Let’s all be more like the rabbit!

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

Pain and Suffering

Who in their right mind wants to put their hand up for this!

We live in a fallen world, unfortunately pain and suffering is an inevitable part of this broken humanity.

Last month Pastor Lach interviewed Dave and I as part of a wider series on pain and suffering; there is pain and suffering which is inflicted upon us, then there is pain and suffering which we bring upon ourselves. We shared what we knew to be true for us.

Out of Psalm 51 we feel King David’s anguish and torment as he reaped the consequences of his sin.

Click to watch the interview

Noni & Dave

Real Time Recovery pt 3…

Relapse, lapse and acting out are all distinctively different behaviours—a lapse like this doesn’t automatically mean that a relationship is ruined. It serves as a reminder as to how sinister the roots of addiction are and also the marathon effort it takes to heal from a lifetime of unhealthy behaviours.

What’s needed now is a re-routing, and readjustment to continue on our path of recovery.

The pain of this blow out is real, for both of us. We are prayerful and hopeful that our repair work is sufficient. As long as we continue to hold space for one another and keep turning towards each other before, during and after conflict, chances are that we will reap the fruits of our effort. The absence of conflict is rarely a sign of healthy loving relationships, rather it is how we continue to show up for eachother and mend rifts or—fill in the potholes, this is what is important.

Dave’s fighting shame and despair after this sinkhole and learning that conflict avoidance is a destructive relational habit.

and

I’m fighting voices in my mind that say things like—I don’t look anything like her in my gym gear, if Dave’s eyes focus on skinny women, he must be repulsed by what he sees when he looks at meIf we weren’t together, he’d be free to stare at who he wants for however long he chooses—I’ll do for now, enough to satisfy him until he decides to go elsewhere…

These are awful thoughts and although the feelings are absolutely real at the time, they are distorted and unbalanced thinking, they are also not true, they’re a bunch of lies. Even though our rational minds know all of this, it’s a battle which is part and parcel of trauma experienced in the brain of a betrayed man or woman. Our primitive brains scream “this is not safe”.

Woops there goes another thought...

The only way to overcome PTSD from betrayal is to face it front on and move through it. Fight, flight or freeze—the limbic system gets an almighty workout on this journey. There are techniques we can learn to ground ourselves, we get to choose what we need to do to feel safe.

If you can relate to this, my only advice is to be kind to yourself, take time for yourself, and do the healing for yourself. Speak up, in truth with love and don’t be a slave to unhelpful thinking styles that keep you stuck.

You can do this, you’re stronger than you realise! One day at a time…

“And this too shall pass”

Noni x

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds
Psalms 147:3

Real Time Recovery pt 2

I honestly wasn’t anticipating the fallout of asking Noni whether something was bothering her after grocery shopping. Sure she was quiet but I still didn’t think it had anything to do with me, I really wasn’t expecting it.

Only when she queried what was going on back at the store did I realise that my wandering eye had been noticed. My gut immediately churned with the stinging deep conviction of wrongdoing. Unfortunately, rather than compelling me to humility and restitution, my spirit morphed quickly from conviction to condemnation, shame, and the desperate need to avoid this current sensation of discomfort.

Waves of nausea enveloped me while I pieced together the significant impact my thoughtlessness had on us and how easy it was for me to dismiss Noni’s heart, a heart and space I truly want to protect. 

Unaware I was slipping into the tired old cycle of control and manipulation only served to drive Noni away. After transferring the groceries from the boot of the car to the kitchen, Noni asked me to put them away and then walked out the front door.

I was left to work this out over the next few hours. 

Fear had to make way for courage. I knew that I could easily welcome and nurse the poor me victim I was so familiar with—but we’ve done too much work for that option to be as enticing as I once thought. I know far too well how that cycle goes—it leads nowhere.

I needed to confront myself with raw courage even though it scared me to death.

Read on for a glimpse into the process for me during this event…

We probably passed the tall active wear woman mentioned in last weeks blog post, about 4 times before arriving in the dairy section, I sensed then that I was feeling a little awkward inside. I knew it wasn’t right to repeatedly let my eyes linger longer than normal, gazing at any woman other than my wife, yet I continued to do so. I was embarrassed for myself without even beginning to consider how this incident might make Noni feel. This behaviour has been a painfully common occurrance through the course of our relationship and a habit that I thought—was no longer a thorn in my side.

My ego was consoled with a bunch of half baked truths such as—I know in my heart there was no lusting—I wasn’t looking for her she was just kind of there over and over! At this point I failed to acknowledge that it was MY choice to keep on looking and of course Noni would notice, how could she not!

My next big mistake without any thought was my reflex response to Noni’s question. I shared what I believed were rational explanations—rationalisations. I desperately wanted Noni to believe what I wanted to believe; I was sure I could make her understand it wasn’t such a big deal. The harder I tried—the more it felt like I was struggling in quicksand. GASLIGHTING!

Noni was right to leave the house.

Once she got home I still had the overwhelming urge to point out all the times over the last months I had taken steps to remove myself from these types of situations, it was an effort to demonstrate I am not as bad as I seemed at the moment. Proving to her that it was simply a momentary lapse, not an uncontrollable compulsion. As soon as I gave the accounts of my ‘good behaviours’, a light flicked on for me and I realised – wow Dave are you really expecting praise for being respectful or not doing wrong? Why should I expect Noni to applaud me for doing what should have always been an acceptable standard of committment? This is the depth of self deception I can live with.

Eventually, I just shut up and watched and listened to how Noni felt, laying aside my discomfort with the situation momentarily. She was wounded by my efforts to minimise as much as I hurt her with my actions. It took me quite a few attempts to hear Noni completely—that is—without adding context to what she was saying, filtering what I was hearing, or offering what I thought was a helpful explanation/qualification or correction. I needed to put aside my shame to really recognise and empathise with Noni’s grief. After hearing the detail of how humiliated Noni felt, my apathy also set off an avalanche of fear and pain, I was gutted. It then dawned on me the significance of my thoughtless glances, this was a huge red flag.

The Red Flag

In another place and time in my life not so long ago, my decision to hold the gaze of another woman would not have been so thoughtless. It would be me grasping a brief moment of gratification, a gesture that may or may not be reciprocated, if that look or gesture was acknowledged or returned there would be further gratification, it may even have led to a verbal exchange—polite yet with an undercurrent of flattery, and even more gratification. From that verbal exchange, the idea of other possibilities may be held in the back of my mind (a fantasy perhaps) which might even result in further contact by chance or design. It could end anywhere, and most likely would end nowhere, yet this cascade of decisions pursuing momentary selfish gratification is at the heart of betrayal. Infidelity begins with a thought, not an action and after a series of thoughts, the wheels are in motion.

In isolation, my action and choices may seem like a minor lapse of concentration, frought with danger though, if such a lapse goes unchecked and I allow myself to explain away the decision, then what next? Our partners are right to challenge our behaviours, us unfaithful may judge our recovery on our intentions but the hearts we’ve shattered are wise to gauge differently.

It might take years but if these moments are left unchecked they inevitably increase in frequency and scale, eventually corroding the boundaries I’ve established to keep me and my marriage safe.

Like a fence that isn’t maintained, if a series of small breaches are not repaired and fortified, the fence is weakened and eventually, one day when it is tested, it offers little resistance…

Noni will wrap up part 3 of Real Time Recovery next week, this sinkhole has been another massive training session for the marathon effort needed to change my lifetime of faulty thinking.

Dave

Real Time Recovery

If you’ve read our Memoir you’ll know right from the start that Dave nor I profess to have ‘arrived’ anywhere, we are still very much in the thick of this recovery journey. It’s taken us a lifetime to get to this starting point so it’s likely going to take us another lifetime to complete it!

Yes we’re different, yes we’re further down the road but there is still a ways to go. We’ve written our story with complete authenticity so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that our blog posts are no different. Real time rawness!

In our chapter “WHAT DOES RECOVERY LOOK LIKE?” we describe how our recovery road is made up of potholes which often feel more like sink holes. Well we’ve just hit another crappy sink hole.

If you are of faith, the timing of this ‘relapse’ will come as no surprise. Stepping out to share our story in church and on radio has left us wide open for an onslaught of arrows.

Here is how last Sundays slipping into the sinkhole unfolded…

After church Dave and I grabbed lunch, spent a little time in conversation about a question posed to us during the radio interview, it was around the topic of boundaries. We were both on the same page and in agreement with how we felt the interview went. There was no distance or tension between us.

After lunch we headed into Woolies to do weekly groceries. All is going well…

Dave was pushing the trolley while I tossed bits ‘n’ pieces on top of the ever mounting load.

A tall slim young and attractive woman, dressed in black active wear, was shopping with her young child and partner. She took no notice of us while she went about her business while heading down the same aisles as us. I cast a glance noticing how pretty she was and thought nothing more.

Dave, on the other hand, looked, and looked, and continued to look, and while he was busy looking he failed to realise that I became fully aware of him checking her out, not once, not twice but over and over.

Some might say, what’s the problem? That’s just normal, he wouldn’t be male if he didn’t, there’s nothing wrong with looking, and Noni don’t be so insecure, right?

Let me try to explain how this scenario played out.

By the time I was fully conscious of what he was doing we were skirting around the outside of the dairy section, this is when Dave began behaving like a kid caught with his hand in the lollie jar. Dave has little interest in food shopping yet started talking about juices, butter and yoghurt in a somewhat familiar and anxious manner, so yeah, I noticed. I’m not saying that he was lustfully drooling or anything super creepy, gosh, Dave doesn’t do that, it’s nothing quite so obvious. This is more like sneaky glimpses, when he thinks no one is watching.

It is is painful to witness, it’s humiliating, infuriating, disrespectful and unfortunately far too common in men who have affairs. It’s not that they actually seek or desire the person their attention is fixed on, well not at this point anyway, it is more akin to this being one of the first steps of them acting on their vulnerability.

Let me explain the cycle for those who don’t understand how it works.

The formerly unfaithful is doing really well but an area of fatigue/conflict/stress has risen (this could be work, relational, financial, health etc, we all experience these moments, it’s called life). It looks different in everyone but happens to everyone.

Anyhoo my formerly unfaithful husband is an exceptional man, he’s been courageous, present and committed but there has been a few minor stresses recently that may have been weighing on him without him even realising, so if he doesn’t realise, how can he share?

Unintentionally and unconsciously, he finds himself in a vulnerable state and I’m left in the dark. This becomes the first stumbling block to reduced self awareness.

We are still only in a pothole at this stage, what happened next is when it gave way collapsed into a sinkhole, taking us with it.

We packed the groceries into the boot of the car and drove off in deafening silence. Dave broke the ice with a tentative, “Non, is something wrong?”

My verbal response was intentionally measured and calm even though beneath the surface my heart was aching.

“How about you tell me what happened back there?

“Huh?”

“What did you focus your attention on?” (a few more quizzical huh’s followed)

“I saw a woman in a black gym gear and thought she looked like D**** M*****” (an acquaintance of ours)

Now, us betrayed partners have finely tuned inbuilt BS meters, they are rarely off, whilst an unfaithful partner has honed their gaslighting skills to be able to twist and turn even the simplest of conversations around. I called BS.

“Right now would be a good time to stop talking and really think before you say anything else”.

Dave didn’t heed my advice and continued mansplaining, the smarter thing to do would have been to pause and consider his next course of action.

He may have initially thought this woman was D****, but apart from her having blonde hair, she bore no other resemblance at all. This woman was a few inches taller, about 20 years younger and had a young child on her hip… Still, this was the story Dave was telling himself and trying to sell me on. The other reason I knew it was complete BS—when we were in the deli section Dave spotted a guy he thought looked like someone else we knew, he turned to me and asked directly, “Hey Non, is that J*** C****?” Now, why wouldn’t he do the same with this woman rather than continue to follow her with his eyes and get all awkward about juice, butter and yoghurt?

I hate to stop midway but this is too big a post for one entry, Dave can finish the story next week…

Recovery is an ongoing process, much love, Noni xxx

Severing Ties

How difficult was it to write our story? Bloody hard…

After decades striving to maintain an image and hide truths, the journey to owning my own story as a cheat, liar and unfaithful husband, has been slow and arduous.

I’d done everything within my power to prevent my brokenness from seeing daylight. Even when the truth finally found its way out, the urge to hide was still ever present. No one wants to be identified as someone who casts unimaginable pain on those they love and vow to protect.

My personal mission to take a lifetime of secrets to my grave was no longer possible once I was faced with losing everything I held dear. The agonising reality of losing my family, once they knew the full truth about me, was fuelled with risk and insurmountable fear. It was a risk I had to take.

Initially sharing the complete and shameful truth with Noni, I stood by, watching as she had to painfully digest and process what was to become our new reality.

The first step completed, my wife stood by me with strength and dignity when she had every right to get up and go.

Before telling our children, and with Noni’s encouragement I told a small handfull of trusted and close friends who could prayerfully support us. 

Each time I disclosed more of myself I discovered, to my surprise, that the world didn’t end. For sure there was pain and disappointment—but it was for a period—and I realised that I could experience forgiveness, even compassion, rather than the fear of rejection I’d courted for years.

Being the broken and contrite person bought me closer to my family than I ever dreamed of and I was able to humbly accept that I was worthy of their love despite all of my failings.

Decades of maintaining a superficial image, and striving to control my environment, acheived nothing more than unwelcome separation and disconnection from the love I desired and longed for. 

This was still miles off writing a book for the world to see.

The prospect of acquaintances or even strangers seeing my life in its ugliness was extremely confronting. Over time I recognised the discomfort and fear were remnants of my wanting to preserve an “admirable façade”. 

An innate desire to preserve an image to people who didn’t know me and were unlikely to ever really know me!

Finally, I realised—I have cared too much, for too long, what people think of me—and this was the crux of letting go. 

Letting go of pride and letting go of shame.

Severing ties with these lying parasites was crucial in allowing me to be vulnerable and honest throughout writing our story. This didn’t happen quickly, but I was determined I would perservere. 

During the process, many pages and hours of work were deleted or binned, as I found I had chosen words too carefully in attempts to soften the harsh truth. Writing the story down has a way of exposing any hidden narrative.

In the same period, I participated in regular meetings with similarly flawed men who were committed to recovering their lives and repairing the damage they had created in their relationships. Their ruthless honesty and bravery emboldened me when I needed it most. 

The similarities in our stories and the universal anguish we each felt, for havoc we had wreaked, gave me the purpose. 

The purpose to share my story as a warning to others, to bring encouragement that there is hope for a much better life, without the shadow of lies. 

The grace and acceptance of a broken me was much more satisfying than striving for the admiration of the false image, an image I struggled to maintain for so long while holding my secrets tight. 

Not one of us is irredeemable, if we surrender ourselves to a safe space. Be brave, be honest, and be real. Remove the shackles of shame in return for freedom and peace.

Dave

Sobering Figures

I recently stumbled across the Sexual Health Australia site while meandering down the research rabbit hole.

According to this organisation, Australias prevalence for extra-marital affairs is that, a whopping 60% of men and 45% of women are willing to report that infidelity has occurred sometime in their marriage. They actually suggest that an accurate figure is more likely that 70% of all marriages will experience an affair.

We don’t need to look too far to see what this means.

Yep, that’s 7 out of 10 marriages in Australia...

According to VentureBeat, Ashley Madison—the Canadian online dating service and social networking service, a site marketed to people who are married or in relationships—added 5.5M new members globally to their site in 2020. This is an average of over 466,000 new sign ups every month, and this occurred during a global pandemic!

I appreciate that monogamy might not be for everyone, an open relationship model is fine, providing a couple are in agreement. (N.B. When I say couple I’m not talking about the ones who are having the affair)

If stepping outside of marriage vows is a consensual decision within the primary relationship then so be it, but how many AM subscribers do you think might have actually checked in with their spouses to see whether they’re on the same page as each other in this regard?

How many would have even considered engaging in any respectful conversation with their “for better or for worse” partner, BEFORE choosing to join?

You know—just as a common courtesy— to see if they’re on board with the idea.

It’s not rocket science right? Seems to me like a decent thing to do when you’re in a committed relationship.

Wouldn’t they respectfully want their partner to have a say in the matter, to make it a shared decision? Witholding of this information susequently denies the faithful spouse the right to make any choice based on what is best for themselves. It is controlling behaviour, preventing another person from voicing their concerns, thoughts or opinion and therefor falls into the category of abuse.

This is where the problem lies.

How many people contemplating an extra marital affair actually have the courage and maturity to openly confide in their loved ones about their inner most thoughts?

No one we’ve spoken to has. Dave didn’t, so how would it have been possible for us to avert the catastrophic fallout of discovery?

Could it be because the one looking for outside validation or pleasure, doesn’t want to acknowledge how this extra marital excitement might destroy their real deal? If they didn’t want their committed relationship to continue, why wouldn’t they just break it off before seeking the pleasure of an illicit affair? This would be far less painful than the gaslighting and lies needed to cover up an affair.

And if they truly saw nothing wrong with signing up for an affair, why keep it all hidden?

Seriously, it’s the deception that does my head in, and not far behind the deception comes the stories an unfaithful partner will use to justify their reasons for why they chose an affair, that list is absolutely endless…

Ashely Madison currently have over 70 Million subscribers; the way I see it is that unless the spouses of their members are fine with their significant others having an extra marital affair, then there is a solid chance that around 70 million people across the globe are being deceived and betrayed by people they love and trust.

That’s a lot of people on the receiving end of cheating and the consequences are astronomically debilitating. Ask any betrayed spouse or couple trying their darndest to heal after infidelity…

Ashley Madison also list Australia as apparently being the fourth country in the world, after Brazil, USA and Canada as having the largest number of members, heck they even list the towns with the most subscribers! 

I’m not judging anyone here but I find these numbers truly staggering and please hear me, I am talking about relationships which are exclusive, believing their intimate attachment to be completely monogomous.

I challenge anyone who says that having an affair improves their marriage, to actually go and ask their betrayed spouse if they feel the same.

Oh that’s right they probably don’t know about it do they…

For everyones sake, please be brave, be honest and have the conversation.

Heal well my friends xxx

We are special and perfect just as we are, nothing that we did or didn’t do caused our partners to cheat. It wouldn’t have mattered if we had been prettier, skinnier, funnier, smarter, richer, taller or any other version of our best selves. Our partners choices were theirs alone, they had other options!

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