How I Forgave My Husband 23 Years of Cheating and How You Can Feel The Freedom of Forgiveness Too
By Nikki & Pete Uglow
Pete and I met when we were 21, during our University days. Shortly after that, Pete embarked upon a career as a police officer and I began mine as a primary school teacher. We both came from stable family backgrounds and so after a two year courtship, we went on to get married in 1987. Two years later our daughter arrived, followed by our son, two years after that. Now our family was complete and we were full of expectations for our children and our future together.
Like many marriages, what started out as a partnership full of hope and shared vision, became a roller-coaster of differences, irritations, tiredness, stress and boredom. Financial pressures and the reality of young children meant that Pete largely absented himself from family life and buried himself in work and the much more ‘fun’ social life associated with it. I began to feel resentful and frequently referred to myself as a single parent to anyone willing to feel sorry for me.
The gulf between us widened, but having come from families which were still united, we didn’t even contemplate separation or divorce. In fact, to outsiders, our marriage would have seemed stable, if unexciting, and we muddled on for around ten years.
The cracks start to appear…..
Around that time, it became obvious that Pete was now deeply unhappy at work and wanted to leave.
He asked me what I thought about him starting up in business with two other ex-police officers and I agreed, even though it would put us under further financial strain. He formed a partnership which was to later end acrimoniously, but he eventually went on to be very successful with the business on his own.
This time also coincided with our 11 year old son having a breakdown and severe school phobia.
Again, Pete couldn’t deal with the realities of the stress which it brought about and he followed an age old pattern of burying himself in work. I became resentful and bitter and our relationship deteriorated further as I decided to give up my role as Head of a Special Needs Unit at a private girl’s school in order to home educate our son.
My children become my world …..
The following 5 years were in much the same vein, but since I didn’t have a relationship with my husband, my children filled the hole and continued to be the focus of my world. I decided that I was actually quite content now and thought we had a pretty good marriage and family life, as I had plenty to occupy myself, Pete was rarely home and when he was ,we didn’t fight much. In reality, it was a rubbish way to be part of a relationship, but compared to the pain of arguments, it felt so much better! I later learnt that a ‘lack of pain and conflict’ does not equal being ‘happy’.
Surely millionaires are happy?…..
In 2006, Pete fell out with his business partners, but then he went on to build his side of the business, eventually selling it to a large Government owned corporation – it was like winning the lottery. For a man who had believed his whole life, that being successful and wealthy would bring him happiness, it would seem to be a dream come true for Pete. In truth, like all lottery winners, it brought us no closer together and he continued to seek that all-elusive ‘happiness’.
He discovered the Personal Development industry, attending motivational seminars, reading self-help books and dragging me along in the hopes of making me different, better, more exciting – because in his own mind, I must be the cause of his unhappiness and changing me must be the answer.
The moment my heart stood still…
Eventually it was one of these seminars, Tony Robbins ‘Life Mastery’, which was the trigger for our marriage to implode. Pete attended the weekend event by himself as I recovered from a small operation and when he came back, he showed me the journal he had written in during the course.
As I glanced through it, my eye was drawn to a sentence he had written next to the question “What do you regret about your marriage?” and there in his distinctive handwriting, were the words ‘being unfaithful’.
My heart stood still. Then I flushed up and my heart rate suddenly soared. I glanced up and met his eyes.
“Who was she?” I stammered, still not believing what I had just read.
There was the longest pause as I waited for him to tell me it wasn’t true but then, as he avoided my gaze and coldly responded – “a woman in the police force ten years ago”, my world shattered into a million pieces.
The immediate aftermath of discovering Pete’s infidelity….
The following days were a blur.
I asked Pete to leave and he moved out into a flat in the nearby town.
My daughter disowned him immediately, whilst I sank into a pit of misery. I had never felt pain like it before and I didn’t know what to do with myself.
My family and friends were all offering sympathy and advice, but it didn’t take away the feeling of utter worthlessness and fear. I had never cried as much as I did in those first 24 hours.
We start talking again….
After a few days, Pete contacted me and said he had awoken from a dream in his small hotel room with an overwhelming feeling that everything was going to be OK and he needed to work at the marriage – we began tentatively communicating.
Truthfully, I was so full of fear about my future, that I was desperate to find a way of understanding this betrayal.
I encouraged him to share his innermost thoughts with me and it was in one of these intense and heart-rending conversations that Pete disclosed that he had engaged in multiple extra-marital liaisons over the course of our marriage and that he believed he was a sex-addict.
At this point, I think I was quite numb. I wasn’t sure how much more I could take, but strangely there was a degree of sympathy growing inside me for he clearly had a deeper underlying issue.
Our conversations continued and we began going out on a few ‘dates’.
It became clear that we both had some desire to save our marriage, but we were pretty clueless as to how to go about it. We had already been to marriage guidance counsellors (Relate), other ‘qualified’ experts and therapists at various points in our marriage and none of that had worked for us. We were loathe to go down that route again.
During one of these ‘dates’, Pete explained that he had no clue what ‘love’ was or what it felt like and this became the focus for a Google search as I tried to find a definition which would help him to understand what I thought I knew quite clearly. My search yielded the details of a relationship counsellor in America who had written a book. Pete contacted him about our situation and within a week we were on a plane to meet with him.
The happy ending…..
The three days we spent with him were literally 'life-changing' and transformed our marriage. Now I know how readily people trip that kind of sentence off their tongues when they have been to an inspiring event, but I have never been one to buy into that, fully knowing that those ‘life changing’ events are soon forgotten.
This was different.
We felt such pure unconditional acceptance and understanding that I was able to easily learn and understand exactly why Pete had been unfaithful and why his actions had caused me so much pain. We left feeling more connected than EVER before in our relationship and over the following 12 months or so, we worked on implementing our recovery plan into our relationship.
For us and many others, learning how to recover from infidelity in this way has been a truly amazing process of self-discovery.
And as for my pain – it has vanished! Once my ‘worthless’ wound began to heal, I realised Pete had done nothing TO me, he had simply been distracting himself from his own emptiness. His actions became meaningless for me, as indeed they did for him!
And that’s how I forgave my husband.
In fact the word ‘forgave’ is actually pretty meaningless to me because there was nothing to forgive. He didn’t do anything TO me.
The world would have us believe that a relationship can't recover from infidelity, that a "Leopard never changes it's spots" and that there is always a 'perpetrator' and a 'victim'. When you learn that this world paradigm is completely wrong, then you will both feel tremendous freedom.
So this has been only a part of my story and everybody’s “story” is different.
Our story is only important to us, but your story is important to us too.
The truth behind every story is actually the same. The root cause of the problems behind every story is a lack of unconditional acceptance and it is true – the story is the detail, but in order to know YOU, we want to know who you are and what has led you to where you are now.
Perhaps you would like to book a free consultation and share your own story? We would be absolutely honoured to hear from you.
By Nikki & Pete Uglow
“Our marriage had not been making either of us happy for many years and we both looked to other sources for happiness/fulfilment – I turned to the children thinking that if I couldn’t be the wife my husband wanted, I would be the perfect mother instead and he turned to his career and then to other women.
When we finally reached rock bottom my husband happened across Pete at 'Get Over An Affair' whilst searching the internet for ‘the answer’. I must confess to having been very sceptical almost dismissing it as self indulgence! How wrong could I be….
Our two stage intervention, he went first, then we went together, has had the most amazing effect on our relationship and my life in general. Within half a day I could see what was missing, Unconditional Love.
I know now that I have never felt loved unconditionally with any consistency throughout my life and I am learning with the help of Pete, how to feel loved and therefore able to be loving towards others. As a couple we are learning to love each other unconditionally too and I hope to be able to pass this on to our children.
I cannot recommend an intervention highly enough as the kick start to a whole new way of living and in some odd way am grateful to the meltdown my husband and I had that led us to finding Pete"