I am Stacey Greene - Author and speaker, but one of my proudest achievements is being victorious over infidelity! AMA about marriage and all the foibles we bring into our relationships.

Stacey Greene
Sep 10, 2018

I had a vanilla marriage. That's ok, right? Who doesn't like vanilla ice cream? But, when I caught my husband texting another woman, my whole world turned upside down. I saw that proverbial ice cream melting into a puddle of devastation and despair. Was there any hope?

Issues like being a workaholic, health problems, financial troubles, infidelity, parenthood, and so much more can really kill the intimacy that marriages are supposed to have. I wrote Stronger Than Broken - One couple's decision to move through an affair in an attempt to heal and help other marriages in the same situation.  #StrongerThanBroken

Ask Me Anything.

I would be humbled if you subscribe to my blog. strongerthanbroken.com/ 

My husband's affair made us completely revamp our alliance. Instead of letting the ice cream melt into an ugly divorce, we chose to add chocolate syrup, nuts, sprinkles and even a cherry on top to our now fantastic marriage.

Twitter @staceygreene47

Youtube Author Stacey Greene

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When one partner is unfaithful, trust is broken. How did you handle challenges of trusting what your husband told you or did and at what point did you decide you can fully trust him again?
Sep 12, 9:57AM EDT0

I was a horrible snoop. I found out who she was, where she lived, found out that she had a child out of wedlock with another man, where she worked out, who she hung out with and more. In hindsight that was stupid and unnecessary, but at the time I was a catty little thing who wished revenge and ill will on her. So to answer the question, I did not trust what he told me he did with her in the very beginning.

But as we worked through the affair, I did come to realize that if his story, her story, and another person's stories all matched, then I should let it go. More importantly, he was really putting forth the effort of resurrecting our relationship, so trusting again was part of my effort. 

Still, I'd say it was close to a year before I fully trusted him.

Sep 12, 12:50PM EDT0
If you were to talk to someone who is being unfaithful, what would you tell him or her?
Sep 12, 9:51AM EDT0

I would let them know how it affected me when I was on the other side. I would not judge but would love to ask what was missing in the relationship that led to adultery. Perhaps if they were open-minded, enough to continue the conversation then I would be able to help in some capacity.

Sep 12, 12:51PM EDT0
Do you think there comes a time when love is just not enough to sustain a relationship?
Sep 12, 9:31AM EDT0

I certainly hope not. My husband and I have been through so much over thirty-two years. There were such ugly times and periods where I felt like a single parent. We were both so selfish and we never learned how to share our goals with each other.

But I waited it out and kept working and working at the relationship. It's crazy how now we don't "work" at the alliance at all. We "play" at it. Things seem more fun and effortless now that we really know each other better and in a whole new way.

Sep 12, 12:39PM EDT0
How can one deal with a partner who has narcissistic tendencies, who tries to prove his abilities to seduce just to prove he can?
Sep 12, 9:19AM EDT0

Narcissism is the most difficult thing to fix or cure in any relationship because that person does not even have the capacity to empathize. He or she truly thinks the world is all about him/her. They often times have no remorse for their behavior, even though logic tells otherwise.

I have a friend who has been married to a narcissist for over 20 years. The only thing that is helping even a little bit, is the fact that he is in his 2nd year of intense psychotherapy. The psychotherapy is making him deal with his abusive past and I continually pray for them that he begins to heal so that he gains compassion for others.

Sep 12, 12:43PM EDT0
Some people have a false impression of a partner's fidelity or infidelity. How important is it for one to ascertain if indeed there is infidelity before making any accusations?
Sep 12, 2:35AM EDT0

Each couple should determine early on in the relationship what infidelity means to them. In a strict relationship, just having coffee with another woman or writing an email to another woman can be construed as inappropriate. In a more open relationship, it's ok to have friends of the opposite sex and spend time with them.'

In my case, I saw the completely improper text about wanting to be in his pants that weekend. I knew it was adultery.

I would say that our relationship falls in between the two examples I mentioned above. I have male friends. However, it can be a slippery slope spending time with people of the opposite sex in one on one situations. A look can turn into an innocent flirt, a joke, a brief touch, or an opportunity to complain about the one you are married to, and so on. You see, I am sure my husband did not think one night "Gee, I think I will cheat on my wife of 25 years." I think he and his friend Marcus enjoyed seeing a band at a particular bar.   Perhaps he kept seeing the same woman enjoying the same band and they struck up a conversation. Perhaps he thought a dance on the dancefloor would be ok.. It evolved "innocently" over time. but was still a path he should not have taken.

Sep 12, 7:46AM EDT0
How did you come up with the name of your book?
Sep 11, 11:12PM EDT0

When you break a bone, the place where it heals becomes stronger than it was before the break. There is a collagen matrix that builds around the fracture making it nearly impossible to snap in that same place.

After uncovering the dysfunction in our marriage, I felt that we were stronger than we have ever been, and continue to learn about each other more, even after 32 years.

Sep 12, 7:33AM EDT0
Many men would not give marriage a chance should he discover his wife's infidelity. Why is it easier for women to forgive infidelity?
Sep 11, 5:38PM EDT0

I have not seen enough statistics or worked with enough couple's to comment inteligently about this. You stumped me!

Sep 11, 7:36PM EDT0
It is often said that a woman has an instinct when a man is considering or even having an affair. Do you agree?
Sep 11, 3:09PM EDT0

Not even a little in my particular case. I was 100% shocked, blindsided, surprised and any other synonyms you can think of. In fact, I laughed at first when I saw him throw the phone under the sheets because I thought "Who on earth could he be calling?" I knew he only has three good friends and never liked using his pay-as-you-go minutes. A frugal man like that always used our land line.

Sep 11, 3:43PM EDT0
When you first discovered your husband's indiscretion, what approach did you use t let him know you knew what was going on?
Sep 11, 10:39AM EDT0

I flat out caught him texting her one night and asked him how long this had been going on. He was silent and I asked again. He then confessed and begged me to give the phone back to him.

I did not. Instead, I snuck into the bathroom and read the texts.  I slept on the futon that night and awoke to a handwritten letter he had composed and delivered to my pillow. It showed remorse and the following morning we agreed to talk to someone about the issue.

Sep 11, 10:43AM EDT0
What kind of texting did your husband was having with this other woman? Why do you flag it as infidelity and cheating?
Sep 11, 6:40AM EDT0

Well, my husband never wanted a cell phone and I had insisted that he get one for emergencies. Then when he got a cheap flip phone he said he would never text because he hated pressing all of those tiny buttons and had to get his reading glasses on to send a text, So I thought it was weird that he threw the phone under the bed sheets when I walked into our bedroom one night.

The actual text from her was about where she wanted to take him Friday night. It read "I wish we were there now, or in your pants."

That's cheating to be sure, as well as the fact that my husband admitted that he had been seeing her for about 5 months.

Sep 11, 8:26AM EDT0
What steps had to be taken to gain trust back into your marriage? How do couples usually fail with this?
Sep 11, 5:38AM EDT0

Gaining trust back took almost a year for me. I continued to snoop and follow him around and ask too many questions. Finally, when his answers were always the same and I could not "catch" him in a lie, I decided that I should learn to trust again.

We also worked through a book together that had assignments and journal writing. This was brutal for him, as he hated doing it. The fact that he worked through it though, spoke volumes to me about how badly he wanted to do this for us.

I think important steps for the cheater are to completely come clean and be 100% transparent. Sharing passwords and phones are good steps. Spending more time with your partner lets them know you are interested in them again and not interested in sneaking around.

Couples can fail when one (me) keeps snooping and the other (him) feels like he must always be on display. Eventually, you must trust again or the relationship becomes stilted.

Sep 11, 6:53AM EDT0
Did you at any point look at divorce as an option? Why?
Sep 10, 10:51PM EDT0

My husband had been married for one year when he was very young and she left him. When we married we agreed to never, ever use the "D" word, even in anger. I was raised by Ward and June Cleaver type of parents (amazing like in Leave it to Beaver) so I only thought about it for the brief nanosecond that it took me to text back to the woman he was texting when I caught him. I texted back "you can have him" but as soon as I hit send I knew that's not what I wanted.

Sep 11, 6:45AM EDT0
Cheating might be a problem of the couple more than a one-sided thing. Without taking the full blame for the situation, what are the flaws that you can recognize in yourself that might have contributed to the cheating of your husband?
Sep 10, 8:52PM EDT0

There were two things that I can think of right away that may have contributed to my husband deciding to see what was on the other side. One was I always jumped in and "fixed" our financial troubles. If we had looming college tuition payments for our children or some washer that needed replacing, I would just go out and work another part-time job to bring in more income. Perhaps this emasculated my husband as the other provider in the family, but it also took me away from the home so much of the time.

The second thing is that I made the assumption that men are rather shallow and as long as I provided good meals and good lovemaking, then we were good to go. I now realize men are deep thinkers.  They have real feelings. They don't always verbalize their real emotions and they really do want to please their wives. As an example of this, I had never seen my husband cry about anything in all of the years we were married. But, when I had a conversation with the other woman one time, she admitted that he had cried for her! When my husband and I talked about this, I realized that as close as I thought we were, he was looking for an emotional connection more than a sexual one and he was able to open up with her.

That was a hard nugget to swallow, but thankfully since this event, we have both openly cried with each other. 

Sep 10, 9:05PM EDT0
Did you have to seek counselling to help you get to where you are today?
Sep 10, 7:27PM EDT0

I have never gotten much from actual marriage counseling. If you look at the statistics, marriage counselors still have a large percentage of people opting to split or divorce. We had seen a marriage counselor a few times for other issues earlier in the marriage and neither one of us did the "homework".

I felt that seeing our pastor (and my husband isn't even a big God fan) was more helpful. In fact, we only saw him twice! Instead, we had more success working through books about relationships and personality types. It was our own determination that allowed for discovering parts of each other we had previously hidden behind walls we had inadvertently built up over the years.

Check out the book by Laura Doyle called First, Kill all the Marriage Counselors. That one was one of the books I read alone, then there were two or three we read together.

Sep 10, 8:35PM EDT0
What do you like about the ice cream metaphor? Why does it suit your situation?
Sep 10, 4:14PM EDT0

The ice cream metaphor just seemed to fit because I assumed we really did have a good marriage. I did not know that good is good, but great is fantastic, marvelous, dazzling, first-rate and outstanding!

I stupidly assumed that as long as our physical relationship was intact, that he would never stray. I had no idea of the depth of feelings and needs that men truly have, as the affair was not about sex but about a more intellectual relationship than I was offering at the time of the indiscretion.

Sep 10, 4:24PM EDT0
Did your husband contribute in the writing of the book to give an idea of what he was going through at the time?
Sep 10, 2:06PM EDT0

He only wrote a short letter to me at the end of the book. He is a man of very few words, so it was precious to me even in its brevity.

Sep 10, 4:28PM EDT0
How important is it for a couple to try and salvage a marriage before calling it quits?
Sep 10, 12:50PM EDT0

I think it is beyond important. I know this may seem archaic, but my Grandmother used to say that there was a lid to every pot! I have yet to meet an adult who has said to me "Gee, I am so glad that my parents split up." 

Unless your life is in danger, as in physical abuse, there should be every attempt to discover the root problems. My husband and I want to leave a legacy that our children can be proud of. I used a pen name for the book, but the kids found out anyway. They never treated us any differently, and I am so thankful for that. I know that when they get married and have their own struggles, they can look back on our experience and see that you don't throw away a marriage like an old pair of running shoes.

We all fall short of the glory of God at some point in our lives. It is just part of the human experience. Also, we had no idea that after the affair, we found a whole new relationship with each other, How crazy is it that I get to feel like a newlywed again? It's so amazing to get that little heart flutter again when he walks into the room.

Sep 10, 1:17PM EDT0
How does your husband feel about you writing a book that is based on your personal experience?
Sep 10, 12:05PM EDT0

I will be honest. He was mortified. He made me use a pen name to protect our family but after reading the book, he even put a few of his own words at the end of the book before it was published.  A couple of months later, when he saw that people were actually leaving nice reviews on Amazon and still purchasing the book, he mellowed. He sees how excited I am after coming back from public speaking about it. The biggest surprise was that he agreed to be interviewed for Woman's Day Magazine last year. We have a small article in the December 2017 issue of the magazine. They even had a picture of the two of us, so he understands that helping others through this was a huge part of my healing.

Sep 10, 12:27PM EDT0
Do you think with love anything can be forgiven and even possibly forgotten?
Sep 10, 8:52AM EDT0

Well, I was raised by an eternal optimist, so I knew I could eventually forgive, but to forget is a whole different story. Like any physical wound, it may heal, but there will always be a scar. But the first part of your question says it all "with love...."

The craziest story I have for you is that I found my husband texting another woman on a Tuesday evening and that very Sunday, when we went to church, the sermon was on forgiveness and even the pastor, himself, said that we must forgive, but that forgetting is a bit of a stretch. I found that sermon timed so well for us. How does God do that?

Sep 10, 9:04AM EDT0
What were the immediate steps you took once you realized what was happening to your marriage?
Sep 10, 6:22AM EDT0

I had caught my husband texting and had taken the phone from him. In that moment of rage, my first reaction was to text back "You can have him", but once I hit send, I knew that was not what I wanted. 

I slept on a futon that night and had awakened to a very long letter my husband had written and snuck onto my pillow, so the next morning I knew he was remorseful. Before he left for work I asked if we could talk to our pastor and he agreed. I knew there was hope when he agreed, as he is not a big believer in God.

Still, I did what most people do, and snoop, snoop, snoop. With a breach of trust like that, I wanted to understand the depth of it. I looked on the internet for how to find her by the reverse phone number on my husband's cell phone and eventually, I found out her real name when I found an iPod shuffle she had loaded with songs for him. Knowing her real name I found out where she lives, what she looked like, if she was married or had children and so on. 

Sep 10, 8:58AM EDT0
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