How Do I Get Out of This Place?

Where do unfaithful men and women turn for help when the world around them implodes?

Men in particular don’t like asking for directions when we’re lost and believe it or not, betraying my wife is never a road I thought I’d end up on, so if we have no idea how we got here how the heck do we get out?

We have shattered the lives of those we vowed to protect and honour. We’ve become a person we barely recognise and cannot stand looking at, we are filled with shame and despair.

I know I was…

I wanted to scramble out of this place of humiliation and indescribable shame as quickly as possible. I wanted to put as much distance between myself and the mayhem I created. I desperately wanted to find my way back to some kind of normal path but I had no idea how to get there.

Some of us turn to the virtuous man or woman, a respected friend, relative, teacher or pastor who has a great marriage, because we want to be more like them, or perhaps we hope a counsellor will give us direction .  

Counsel and support definitely provide comfort, and confession is absolutely good for the soul. Unless the people we seek wisdom from have deep insight into the anatomy of an affair, or have experienced the catastrophic fallout firsthand, their advice may have limitations — particularly given our own tendency to distort and blur the truth.

For an unfaithful person, this can be likened to asking directions for how to get out of a valley from someone who has always lived in a village on top of the mountain. They know the village well but have never traversed into the depths of the valley below. These important and vital confidants can encourage us from a distance but are unable to show us the exact route out.

An unfaithful man or woman wanting to be free from the empty place their life of deceit and lies has led them, needs someone who knows exactly how dark it is in the pit of that valley. We need to hear from those who have climbed the treacherous path and overcome the obstacles littered on the way before reaching daylight. We need an experienced guide, one who has gone before us and is aware of the pitfalls along the way.

I’ve yet to speak to any man freshly facing the horrendous impact of their choices who initiates and ploughs through the internet looking for support groups, forums or courses to find healing for themselves, yet most would express a desire to save their marriage. More often than not however, a betrayed partner will go to extreme lengths searching for information and answers to why?

The world as they knew it has been thrown into chaos, they have no idea what is real and what’s not, this is the trauma and uncertainty we’ve caused. So if you’re here reading this and you are, or have been on my side of the fence, brace yourself for an influx of articles from your spouse as she (or he) is clambering for safety. It’s completely normal, and rather than shy away from the ugly truth, learn to welcome the information coming your way, even if it is not all 100% accurate for you. Even better, invest some time in doing research yourself, initiate the recovery process. This major step will speak volumes to your hurting spouse.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

She’s (he’s) looking for answers, hope and a lifeline.

So, it turns out, Noni fits into the completely normal end of the spectrum of what betrayed partners do, she found plenty of articles that she generously shared to my inbox.

Although I would have given anything to be able to just move on, the more I overcame my reluctance to read one more article, watch one more video, and to face myself, the more I discovered something I never knew existed.

I found a community.

Not only had the men in this online community put themselves (and their families) through the same ordeal as I had, they were more than simply surviving, they were were thriving.

I was filled with hope.

These men had worked hard to understand how their vulnerabilities led them to the darkness of that deep valley. They had navigated the challenges of recovery, sometimes they stumbled and failed, but each time persevered, rebuilding themselves and a better relationship. Their support and guidance were crucial to my own recovery. This journey is one that is punctuated with bouts of hopelessness, isolation, anger, despair and disgust.

Knowing I wasn’t alone was the precious lifeline I needed. 

I was reminded when I slipped backwards, or froze in the face of a challenge and didn’t know what next, that I am not hopeless nor destined for failure. There is a path to being a trustworthy reliable man, and indeed a man committed to a much better relationship. Unfortunately this path is travelled infrequently, often started and sadly not completed by many. 

For me personally, having a safe place to work through the hurdles and traps while unravelling my betrayals was a place where I could share the disappointments and doubts as well as the successes and hope. It is a place without judgement or condemnation but one with loads of empathy and accountability.

Having this support was the difference to perservering with the work of recovery or giving up when it got hard, and it certainly gets very hard.  

At times I found it easier recognise my patterns and behaviors for what they were when they were duplicated in the stories and experiences of others. My own acting out was no longer kept in a compartment out of sight when I identified so many similarities in my story, there are no bragging rights in these places, just humility and remorse. At times one person’s revelation sparks the revelations in me, likewise my mistakes in recovery serve as a warning for others, and the progress of my companions become encouragement for me. 

Men who have betrayed their partners can be very reluctant to open up to others and participate in group work. Often the shame and pain of facing who we have been seems too much to bear let alone reflect on and explore with strangers. We often prefer to do whatever to fix what we can, renew our promises and move on as quickly as possible, lest we realise how broken we really are, I tried that 27 years ago and it didn’t work! 

Loneliness can be excruciating when trying to heal (for both partners). In isolation we can feel it’s all too hard, too painful and just beyond our capacity.  

Loneliness and isolation are the enemy in our recovery journey  

Find the right support, stay close and in touch, even when you feel you don’t need or want to.

You can climb out of the depths of the valley.

Reach out to us if you want, we might not have the answers to your own unique situation, but we can listen and perhaps give you some pointers on what worked for us and what didn’t.


2,334 Sherpa Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

When is a D-day, not a D-day?

We had church in our home last Sunday, it was a small intimate gathering with people of deep faith. After everyone left, Dave and I put the furniture back in place and had a couple of hours before meeting friends for lunch. I told Dave I was going upstairs to lay down to read for a while.

He said “Non can we please talk”.

How often do we hear these words come from our husbands mouth? In our house, not a lot…

Turning to him I asked, “Now?” 

His solemn face and nod answered my question.

Dave’s been doing a lot of work on himself and also with other men over the past two years in recovery. We’ve both put in enormous effort to rebuild our relationship and we’re in a great place. We have uncovered a heck of a lot about the nature of his duality and in more recent days revisited some questions I’d asked over the years.

The reason we did this is not because of any lingering insecurity or unrest but because of the very real possibility that amongst some of his female companionships, he may have held secret friendships that he was blind to or in denial of. Just friends, perhaps some that he initially overlooked and maybe considered insignificant compared to the bigger betrayals.

Not surprisingly, the deeper he’s dug over time, his answers have changed.

“Did you take your wedding ring off?” In 1994, his answer was a very strong “No”. 

The same question 2 weeks ago became a “Maybe” and “I can’t be sure”. 

Last week it was, “Yes I probably did”. (With one of the affair partners)

Like many career men, Dave has spent countless hours away from home, traveling for work, he’s had literally thousands of opportunities to be unfaithful.

So, in the last couple of weeks I challenged him to think about all interactions he’d had with women on his many trips. I asked him to view every relationship with the clarity he now has, to take his time and come back to me when he’s ready.

We prayed together that the Lord would reveal any hidden skeletons.

Dave is involved in regular Saturday calls with a group of men who are supporting each other through recovery and it was during last weeks meeting, he noticed a groundswell of fear beginning to surge within. And as God does, the Holy Spirit exposed another dark secret, one pushed down and buried so deeply in the bowels of shame that even Dave had forgotten it existed.

He was drained and nauseous after the group call, for the remainder of Saturday, and well into the night he seemed really down. The pain on his face was reminiscent of the pain in his heart. I encouraged him not to take on the other men’s burdens, never imagining for a moment that the weight he carried, was his own.

Before going to sleep that night, he said “I hate that person I was…” Gently placing my hand on his chest I comforted him, knowing that the person he was has developed into the fully integrated man he is now. A deeply loved man.

So when he asked if we could talk on Sunday, of course I said “Yes”.

My initial apprehension about more disclosure had to make way for the person Dave has become.

This news was coming from a mature man, a broken man, a man full of remorse, and a man committed to heal from a lifetime of pain. A genuine man who has delved into the depths of his soul, the toughest of places on this journey.

We sat together on the outdoor furniture freshly returned to it’s place, and as he spoke through his tears, I waited quietly for the bomb to drop. The pounding in my chest was at odds with my calm exterior. Shallow breathing, sweaty palms, Amygdala at the ready, what was the outcome going to be, fight, flight or freeze? My primitive brain in deep preparation to find safety.

I froze and listened while Dave painfully recounted the details of yet another affair, a one night stand he had during the first few years of our marriage, at a conference away from home. His own disgust and shame had filed this memory somewhere even too dark for himself to recall when he first came clean in 2019. He then continued divulging some of the many moments and meals he’d shared one on one with different women on different work trips.

Breakfasts, lunches and dinners, not because he had any legitimate work reasons to but because he wanted to and could manipulate the situations to suit. Not because he wanted to pursue romantic relationships with any of the women but because it made HIM feel good to be seen in the company of an attractive woman. The attention he sought from many women, the image he desired of an admired man, the affirmation and propping up of the fragile child within. It soothed the empty part of him, it made him feel good about himself and he only ever considered, himself. 

So, when is a D-day not a D-day?

In this particular case; when the new information didn’t thrust me into an emotional free fall sending us all the way back to the oblivion of ground zero.

Even though the fresh disclosure was difficult to hear, I could sit and accept it with a new level of empathy and compassion. This wasn’t a case of selective trickle truth, rather it was a legitimate suppressed memory. The physiological response to the information was unavoidable, it’s real and I had absolutely no control over it, I did have control with how I responded. Later that evening, Dave asked me whether I was OK. I answered “Yes.”

A little while on I told him that my OK was comparative to the fact that I wasn’t pulling my hair out, banging my head or a wall with the palm of my hand, I’m not rocking back and forth and I’m not curled up naked on the bathroom floor. So yeah, I’m OK.

I felt a little numb and flat, that was my OK and that’s OK.

We have already ascertained that Dave is a man who has battled with addiction. Patterns in place long before we ever met. There is nothing that myself or the kids did to cause this neither could we have done anything to prevent it.

His choices were just that, his choices.

This sexual betrayal happened more than twenty-five years ago, I’m not going to let that derail all of the healing we’ve enjoyed. I’m not up for that kind of punishment, neither of us deserve it.

No, we’ve done far too much work for that.


Don’t Say A Word

Why do people think that not talking about affairs and the abusive nature of behaviours surrounding them, will somehow make them magically disappear?

The notion of “what they don’t know won’t hurt them” is infuriating.

For me personally decades of secrets and deceit actually hurt more than the affairs themselves!

Secrets will always be revealed in one way or another.

How can anyone expect to be fully loved when they will not let themselves be fully known? And how is anyone able to know their own capacity to love while ever the other person is controlling all access into knowing them? This level of control and manipulation denies both parties the freedom to choose who, and how, they love.

It’s a lose lose situation.

Some of the worst advice from various specialists, friends and family is often, “don’t tell”, “it will only cause more harm” coupled with the belief that withholding the truth is somehow protecting the betrayed person, especially if the affair has ended. “They’ll never find out, so why dig up the past…” or “It might be better to let sleeping dogs lie.”

“Permanent withholding will always be a permanent deficiency in the relationship, an obstacle to the love that could have been.”


Like an Ostrich with it’s head firmly buried in sand, sweeping any secrets and lies under the rug only creates relationship decay that’s often impossible to come back from. 

We believe the only way forward in healing is from a platform of truth, setting a new precedence for a new way of relating.

Our book wasn’t an easy one to write and it’s likely not going to be an easy one to read.

It was uncomfortable, confronting and at times painful to recount our history. The written word has a way of making everything seem very clear, however when you’re walking through the valleys and sitting atop the mountains, perception can be massaged to fit the surrounds.

Infidelity abuse, control and trauma are incredibly difficult to speak about especially when it’s your reality. I know our kids would prefer it was someone else doing the talking, they’ve experienced the consequences of our dysfunction too.

We’re willing to put ourselves out there and perhaps clear the air if it means others can breathe freely and move toward a healthier future.

Next week we’ll talk about the S’s in Ssshhh,

What The?

For those with no experience in addiction, infidelity or abusive relationships our story will be unrelatable and perhaps shocking. You might ask what on earth would make someone stay in a relationship like that? And if you have walked away from a similar situation, you’ll likely wonder the same. To you it may be weakness or absolute madness, our story may anger you. No relationship is all good or all bad. For many years Dave and I shared more good times than bad, even while so much was disguised and remained hidden. As the years progressed and behaviour worsened, the scales tipped the other way. 

With the roots of an addiction we didn’t know existed left unaddressed, for better or for worse was no longer sustainable. Just shy of our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary I drew my own line in the sand and said enough. For those who unfortunately have lived this nightmare, it may sound all too familiar. You know what it’s like to be in a relationship that can be so incredibly good most of the time. You’ve lived the dance of addiction and the cycle of abuse. You get how hard it is sometimes to name these covert behaviours so cleverly disguised and distorted. Even when you do recognise them, they’re twisted and turned into something else by the perpetrator leaving you to question your own mind. You understand what it’s like to be manipulated in this way. You recognise the effort it takes to instil boundaries and uphold them. You know the work it takes and how hard it is to maintain your sense of self and you know what it’s like to go around the mountain again and again. Yes, our story is all too familiar. We wish it wasn’t. We wished it wasn’t a story we had to write either, but we want you to know that although it can feel like it, you’re not alone. We hope and pray that while you can relate to our story, you will also relate to our healing and experience healing in your own lives as well.

Meanwhile for others our story will pale in comparison. 

We don’t compare stories or pain, we share hope for healing and recovery. Even though each situation is unique, we’ve learnt there are more similarities than differences.

If you’re here and our story is familiar, firstly please let us acknowledge, we are so sorry, we stand with you and support you wherever you are, whatever stage you are at in your journey. Whether your relationship has continued or ended, whether you are the betrayed or the unfaithful, we encourage you to keep going. Pursue healing and wholeness for yourself.

You’ll receive no judgement from us.


No Excuses

Understanding infidelity is crucial to recovery but beware of justifying your actions

As I continue to uncover and understand some of the flawed thinking, falsehoods and habits that enabled my choices to deceive, there is a line between understanding and justification that is easy to cross 

  • Understanding helps me be completely accountable for past behaviours and to plan a path to avoid relapse. Understanding is a pathway to growing my capacity in our relationship
  • Justification avoids or deflects responsibility for my actions. It also provides an excuse for future relapse. Justification keeps me stuck in the place I am.

Two years into recovery, I have accepted responsibility for my infidelities and betrayal and the consequences. However there remains a lifetime of ingrained attitudes that existed long before my infidelities. They surface as destructive emotional assaults clothed in subtle comments, gestures or  thoughts during times of conflict   

When challenged around some of my actions or words, I still struggle with the overwhelming urge to explain myself. My reflex defensiveness seems completely reasonable and logical at the time, to me anyway. The thoughts I carry in these moments include

“You misunderstood what I meant”

“You are exaggerating or being overly sensitive”

These thoughts allow me to undermine the validity of Noni’s feelings and to escape the discomfort of deeper self-examination. It is another attempt to control her and this prideful selfish habit of justification derails progress and growth. They are excuses which are covertly abusive. They are immature and unhealthy.

My way forward is to put aside my defensive reflex, hear the complaints and concerns for what they are, my wife’s desire for a deeper relationship and better future. Hear the uncomfortable with a heart of humility rather than pride. Take the time to understand rather than seek to “clarify” or be understood

It’s hard work but worth the effort.


An unexpected trigger…

We’re 18 months out from a lifetime of deceit. Our marriage and relationship is very different now. We’ve both done a lot of work to get to this place, that doesn’t mean life is perfect.

Last weekend was a perfect example of how imperfect we are. We caught up with my extended family for a Christmas celebration, renting a gorgeous airBnB in a stunning hinterland location. All was good.

After dinner on night one I sat and played “go fish” with my mother, daughter and niece. Innocent harmless fun. Dave wandered over, stood behind me for a while observing the game and had a clear view of mine and my nieces cards. Not a problem until he walked away leaning down whispering something into my nieces ear. (Niece is only 12, so there’s absolutely no suggestion of anything remotely affair related)

My gorgeous niece looked up at me giggling and the next two hands asked me confidently for the cards I held. I’m not competitive by nature and I chuckled as I handed her my cards.

My blood began to boil though as I thought about what Dave whispered to her.

This is what went through my mind; cheater! He took something he knew about me and used it against me; whispering in someone’s ear when in a room full of company is rude and immature; the only reason anyone whispers is because they don’t want others to hear what they’re saying, secrets; if he could do this in the small things he could do it in big things; yadda yadda yadda… Dearly betrayed, you know how our brains kick in.

I made sure to address his actions and let him know how I felt once we went back to our room, unfortunately he defended the prank strenuously, after all it was just a game and he was having fun…

Not sure what my heart rate got up to but it probably hit peak flooding level.

It took us 4 days before we could sort this out properly. 2 days were spent in the company of others where we just skirted around pleasantries, then we had a day of stewing silently before wasting a couple of hours going around in circles with he said she said kind of stuff. I wanted him to see what his actions signified to me, he wanted me to view his actions as just a joke. I dug my heels in and stubbornly stood my ground. 

He finally said; ok this isn’t about one of us being right or wrong, this is about how my actions made you feel and I’m so sorry, I hate feeling any disconnection between us. 

Yes, that’s better, thank-you. Let’s do things differently.

My oh my how infidelity changes us, how a molehill can become a mountain in a simple moment.

Keep moving foreword,

Noni x

Nail that shame to the cross!

Guilt and shame are two very different feelings. Guilt says “I’ve done something bad” shame says, “I AM BAD!”

Guilt propels you to rectify your wrongdoing, shame keeps you trapped in a negative cycle of self loathing, self soothing, self focus, self, self, self. Shame is all about YOU but not in a healthy way…

Many years ago at Bible college our class discussed what the cross represented to us on a personal level. We explored “propitiation”, a word I’d never heard of until then. I began wondering if I was holding on to anything that Jesus had already paid the price for? It soon dawned on me that I carried a heavy lingering feeling of shame. Shame, stemming from my own sin and wrong-doing plus acquired shame from taking responsibility for the actions of others towards me. On my way to class the following week an intense overwhelming emotion forced me to steer my car off the road and I began to sob. It was then, that this thought occurred to me;

Whilst ever I clung tightly to “my” shame, in essence I was saying that Jesus’ crucifixion was somehow not enough for me… that his torturous beating and death on the cross at Calvary was not complete…  how I was brought to my knees in that moment. I eventually pulled myself together, and continued to class where our lecturer had a large wooden cross. We each wrote our burdens on paper folded them and nailed them to this cross. The visual symbolic act signified and loosened shame’s grip, it released me from a pride I wasn’t even aware of. From that day forward I’ve lived shame free with a heart full of thanks for His death and resurrection. Gods forgiveness, grace and mercy; is more than I deserve and more than enough to cover every one of life’s limitations, heartache and trouble.

I shared this with Dave about 10 months into recovery. Once he identified the things he’d held so tightly; defense mechanisms he mistakenly believed served him, behaviours and attitudes he seemed to wear as a badge of honour i.e shame, pride, unforgiveness, etc, we built a fire, lit it, then one by one he burnt each piece of paper as we prayed and released the load to the Lord. This is just one of many exercises we’ve incorporated through our recovery journey.

Our God has big shoulders and our past is not too dark for His light to shine. 

Even if you’re not a believer this might be a ritual you could find liberating. What ever is keeping you stuck, disappointment, fear, anxiety, anger, grief, name it write it down and BURN that sh*^! “It is finished”

Find the way that works for you to move forward 🙏❤️

#letitgo #shameisnotagoodservant

John 19:30

30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Isaiah 53 4-6

4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Cast all of your burdens upon Him and hang on to the alter of God with all your might, at times I was literally hanging on by the tips of my fingernails, feeling like I was on one of the spinning round about swings from my childhood playground.

“It was a mistake…”

No it wasn’t! 

A mistake is filling your car with petrol instead of diesel. That’s a mistake…

The unfaithful partner made a choice or series of choices which led them to the point of betrayal.

Don’t confuse the two and PLEASE don’t believe anyone who tries to tells you otherwise.

So, when you hear the apologies accompanied by “I made a mistake” “I didn’t mean to” “it wasn’t my fault” “it just happened”. Call BS. 

Pure and simple, they made their choices and unless they can own this truth, recovery will likely be limited or prolonged.

Failure to take full responsibility for ones choices = failure to adult. 

How about we all grow up and own our sh%*.

D Day

Wow, which one? 

There’s been plenty of discovery over the years but only one full disclosure.

That came twenty eight years after the first discovery.

I’ve not met many people who get the whole truth in one go. 

More commonly the truth is trickled out over time which is repeatedly devastating and only prolongs the agony and delays healing.

Each time a snippet of unknown information is exposed it sets recovery right back to the start.

How can we recover from things we don’t know about? 

Whatever stays hidden will always remain a barrier to intimacy.

Healing can not begin until the last piece of the puzzle is revealed and the longer this takes the more doubt there is that the unfaithful is really telling the truth, even if they are.

Talk talk talk and then talk some more. 

Oh yes it’s painful, excruciatingly painful but completely necessary. 

Be safe for each other.

Have rules for time out when needed.

Hold space for one another. 

Take breaks. 

You can do it. 

Rip the bandaid off, tell the truth,all of it and let love grow.

Recovery timeline starts then!

World Mental Health Day 2020

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.”

You’re Stronger Than You Think!

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