One of the many exercises I appreciated in Rick Reynolds’ Affair Recovery program was when he asked me to list forty costs to TL of my infidelity. It was an important early step in my learning empathy. This was one of my first structured steps, written about November 2012. After 40 something years of thinking too much about things in my life that I thought were painful, I had pretty much never thought about anything painful in anyone else’s life. So, to force myself to think in a deep way about painful things in TL’s life, specifically things that I caused, it forced me to see life through her eyes. I’m still working on empathy, as well as selflessness, loving, and listening. I highly recommend this exercise to other unfaithful spouses.
1. My infidelity cost you your sense of security; you fear I will re-offend.
2. My infidelity cost you beautiful memories of our life; you fear you were only “filler” and that my focus was on other women.
3. My infidelity cost you your dignity; you fear other people know what I did and that they look down on you for choosing a bad husband and staying with a bad husband.
4. My infidelity cost you hours and hours and nights and nights of sleep, thus destroying your physical and mental health; you have nightmares and intrusive thoughts.
5. My infidelity cost you your self-respect; you question how you could choose to stay with me and how you chose not to confront me about clues sooner and more skeptically.
6. My infidelity cost you your health; sometimes you are too grief-stricken to exercise, eat right, or maintain healthy routines.
7. My infidelity cost you your relationship with your kids; you are sometimes too grief-stricken to engage with them.
8. My infidelity cost you your uniquely strong optimism; I brought you such despair.
9. My infidelity cost you your confidence; you wonder how I could choose others over you.
10. My infidelity cost you your favorite gym; I took an affair partner there and the place is now a trigger for you. In fact, my infidelity cost you the ability to share a physically fit lifestyle with me; thoughts of fitness make you think of me grooming myself for infidelity. My infidelity cost you the ability to enjoy diving with me; it reminds you of times we dived together even while I was involved in an affair.
11. My infidelity cost you your relationships with certain friends and acquaintances; some were unable to relate to your pain and were frightened away, and others were judgmental.
12. My infidelity cost you eighteen years of time; you could have experienced love more deeply and achieved greater things without doubts about my support had I been more focused on you.
13. My infidelity cost you your remarkable ability to focus; you are haunted by intrusive thoughts.
14. My infidelity cost you the ability to peacefully enjoy some of your favorite activities or dream activities such as soaking in a hot tub, going to a spa, or skipping morning routines and staying in bed; I did those things with affair partners, and now they are triggers for you.
15. My infidelity cost you your sense of comfort and sanctuary in your own home and your favorite bed; I infected those places with an affair partner and left you with the trauma of a home invasion.
16. My infidelity cost you your peace of mind; you fear there are more secrets you do not know.
17. My infidelity cost you the sense of being loved; I did not learn to truly love until after D-day, and it is shocking that someone who believed he loved you could betray you so terribly.
18. My infidelity cost you your sense of closeness with your aunt; you want to tell her what happened but you fear being judged.
19. My infidelity cost you your confidence in being a good mother; you wish you were not so grief-stricken and could devote more time to the kids.
20. My infidelity cost you thousands of dollars; I spent money on prostitutes and affair partners.
21. My infidelity cost you immeasurable time and energy; we must now devote time and energy to counseling, classes, blogging, studying, and anything we can try to improve our marriage.
22. My infidelity cost you your sense of adventure in bed; some activities that could be intriguing or exciting for you are now triggers; I did them with prostitutes and affair partners.
23. My infidelity cost you your ability to respect or take pride in your husband; I treated you with disregard, hurt you, and behaved shamefully.
24. My infidelity cost you your physical health; I gave you herpes that I contracted from a prostitute. In fact, it cost you physical safety; I risked exposing us all to more and deadly diseases.
25. My infidelity cost you a partner in parenting and in life; you worked tirelessly to compensate for my inadequate contributions. I misdirected my efforts to selfish pursuits.
26. My infidelity cost you the experience of being deeply and mutually in love; I focused on self-pity, selfishness, and resentment rather than love.
27. My infidelity cost you your faith in your own judgment; I and affair partners deceived you.
28. My infidelity cost you your ability to trust people; the person you trusted most betrayed you.
29. My infidelity, selfishness, anger, and childishness cost you your sex life; for years I did not give myself to you freely because I was too filled with pride, insecurity, and anger.
30. My infidelity cost you friendship; I was not there for you.
31. My infidelity and cowardice cost you protection; I did not protect you from my mother or from affair partners.
32. My infidelity cost you your sense of security about the future; you question whether I will be there to help with our hopes, plans, and dreams.
33. My infidelity cost you your belief in justice; I treated you so unfairly and there is no way to undo it.
34. My infidelity cost you your admirable ability to live in the moment; you are haunted by intrusive thoughts.
35. My infidelity cost you your brave, curious, and adventurous willingness to live in many exotic places; you fear I will take advantage of prostitutes or available women, and you feel your adventures abroad in the past were risks and hardships that resulted in nothing gained.
36. My infidelity cost you your plans and dreams; you fear I will abandon you or fail you and you will have to start over.
37. My infidelity cost you your belief in your own wisdom; I deceived you so terribly.
38. My infidelity cost you your sense of being wanted, loved, and cared for; you fear I wanted others instead of you.
39. My infidelity cost you your belief in fairness; you fear that my former affair partners will never know how little they meant to me and how much you mean to me.
40. My infidelity cost you your sense of a happy family life; I neglected you and our children.