5 Lessons from 5 Years of Coaching | Ep #136

After having conversations with hundreds of people from all over the world in my five years of being an infidelity coach, there are some patterns, trends and truths I have learned.

In this episode, I share those 5 truths and how they have changed some of my views around infidelity. This is one you do not want to miss as it may change some of your views, too.

To learn more from me, be sure to join my email list at: https://andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/

To work with me, go to: https://andreagiles.com/get-your-life-back/

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Episode Transcript

I’m Andrea Giles and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast,
episode number 136. Five Lessons from Five Years of Coaching.

Hello, and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast, where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more for you than the life you’re currently
living but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is it possible? It is, and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host,
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.

Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode. This has been a fun one to
prepare for you. I’m excited to share with you some of the things that I
have learned over the last five years. Many of them have been surprises to
me. Many of them have been really humbling, lots of lessons. Stick around, I
think you too will learn some things from this episode. Before I dive into
it, I want to remind you that my program is open. Doors are open. If this
is something that you have had your eye on for a while, come join us. Come
join us. It’s a wonderful, powerful, life-changing program. I just wrapped
up another group a few days ago, and going around that room in Zoom and
hearing from them about their own transformations.

It’s just incredible to hear about saved marriages and being able to stand
up in conflict and not shrink. Being able to have the hard conversations
that they never were able to have before. Being able to push pause on their
emotions and really respond in ways that are powerful and empowering. If
this is something that you have felt drawn to, please come join this group.
We need you. We want you. I know that it will be transformative for you.
You can find the information in the show notes or go to andreagiles.com and
go over to the work with me tab. Everything you need is there, even the
link to join. All right, here we go.

I’ve been coaching for five years now, worked with so many people all over
the world. I’ve had clients in Australia all over the UK, Asia, and then
all over Canada, all over the United States. My business has grown into an
international business and I have learned some pretty powerful things from
my years of talking to and working with so many people. Lesson number one,
we are all a lot more alike than different. Here’s something that early on
used to get in my way a lot. I used to worry about the people who were
staying versus the people who were leaving versus the people who don’t know
versus the people who were left.

You would think that there’s a lot of different things going on there, in
everybody’s mind. And in reality, they’re so much more alike than
different. People who have experienced infidelity often feel the same. I
have learned this from working with so many, and especially inside the
group. It’s so magic to have somebody ask a question or bring up something
that’s going on for them, and you see heads nodding up and down. “Me too. I
get that. Yes, I could have said those exact same words.” This happens all
the time, and what I’ve learned is that the scenarios might look a little
bit different, but they’re the same problems to solve.

Isn’t that interesting? It’s the same overall stuff that has to be sorted
out internally. It’s the same work, it’s the same healing. The external
things might look different, and often what we do is we rule ourselves out
of getting the help that we need or want because we think, “I’m the only
one. No one else really understands. I’m the exception. I’m the outlier
here that no one will really get. They’ll think I’m strange. They’ll think
I’m odd. They’ll think I’m too much, that I’m overreacting, that I’m
whatever, taking it too hard that I’m whatever.” And what I learned is that
it’s just not true.

It’s just not true. We all carry so much of the same kinds of ways of
thinking, the ways that our hearts get hurt, the struggles that we have.
And I can tell you that the way forward, the healing required, the work
required to heal, to really get your life back. It’s the same path, it’s the
same work. The end of if you’re staying or going, looks different based on
that work, based on what you learn about the person that you’re with. If
it’s somebody that is on board and really creating something amazing and
new or if they want to stay back, but the work going into it is the same.
We’re all so much more alike than we are different.

Number two, there is far more nuance than we may think. The greater
messaging in the world will tell you all kinds of things about infidelity
and about cheaters. Once a cheater, always a cheater. That you should just
end it and move on. That they clearly could not love you and do what they
did. Those messages are a dime a dozen, right? Go to any infidelity
Facebook group, go to Reddit. Those groups are ample. You’ll find those
messages anywhere and you might find those messages from your best friend,
from family members, right? Guess what? Doesn’t make it true. Just because
a lot of people think it, does not mean it’s true.

What if they’re just wrong? I have coached hundreds of women. I’ve coached
men. I’ve coached the ones who did cheat. I’ve coached women who as they
work with me, are able to see more nuance. They come to me often in a black
and white frame of mind of, “I can’t believe he did this. He’s this, he’s
that. I’m just so angry.” And there is a place for all of that. There is a
place for all the anger and the rage. It does need to be there. We do need
that. It often kind of drives us forward into action, but then we can get
stuck in it and we can think that this is all there is and that if he’s
this and that, then why am I even entertaining the thought of staying.

If he didn’t love me, doesn’t love me now if he is just going to do it
again. All of those messages are so poisonous, they’re so toxic. And in
reality, there’s so much more to it. There’s so much more to it. Yes, there
are some who cheat, who are true narcissists, who really cannot think of
other people, who really do not have the capacity to make room for somebody
else’s point of view or to feel empathy for another person, right? I’m
telling you now that is far and few between. It’s far and few between. Most
affairs happen because an opportunity presented itself. It offered a way to
feel something new and fun and was an escape from things they didn’t want
to deal with or know how to deal with.

The skillset wasn’t there or they were afraid of what would happen if they
dealt with it. If there was conflict in the marriage or if there was
something that they’re not feeling happy about but didn’t quite know how to
even ask for, didn’t have the language for it. So here’s this opportunity.
There’s an opportunity to feel something different, to kind of let some air
in, even if it’s false, even if it ends up creating more problems down the
road. This is more what is real. This is more what it looks like. There’s
almost always some kind of grandiosity present thinking that they’re somehow
above the rules, that the rules don’t quite apply to them.

Justifying things to make themselves feel better, like, “Oh, well, yeah, I
was alone with them, but it was in a public place, and so I didn’t think it
was a big deal.” It’s these little justifications that end up getting us in
big, big trouble. And in the end though, it’s this justifying that is a
soothing thing to make them feel better for the choices they’re making and
often lead to another step and another step and another step until boom, in
a situation that they never anticipated. A full-blown affair. Often ones
that go on for a good long time.

And there’s also a piece here sometimes of thinking that, “I deserve to be
treated in this way.” That’s part of that grandiosity too. But I’m telling
you, these things can be healed. These things can be changed. There’s just
so much more nuance. There’s so much more than, “I just should kick them to
the curb. They’re no good.” There’s so much more. There are times to leave.
There are times to leave. I am not ever going to be one that is going to
try to sell one thing over another, staying over going, because I think
divorce can be the greatest gift, and I think that staying can be the
greatest gift. Anybody who’s been around here for a while knows I did
leave.

I left. I left a 16-year marriage with six kids all at home. They’re all
home. And there was a lot that went into that decision. And yet I knew that
I had to. I knew that the ingredients were not there to create something
that was safe for me, safe for our family, and so I left. But here’s what
I’ve learned. There are a lot of marriages that have the ingredients to
create something amazing. They might be just the basic ingredients right
now, but they are enough. It’s often enough to develop out, to learn the
skills, to learn the tools, to collaborate together, to create something
where there is room for both of you.

And when you can stop being in the black and white frame of mind, it’s
almost like a surrendering to what else could be true. What else is here?
We can see more of the possibility. So to wrap up point number two, it’s
not black and white. It just isn’t. It just isn’t. But the world will tell
you that it is, right? If this happened, then you have to do this. And if
you don’t do that, then this means this about you. And these are the things
that keep people stuck. These are the things that keep people from doing
the deeper work of growing into a person who can hold opposing truths at
the same time.

That can hold, for example, “He did this really, really painful thing and
made some really poor decisions that really, really hurt me and he’s a good
person and I still love him. And it’s worth fighting for.” And on and on
and on, or opposing that he can be a really good person and you still don’t
want to stay with them. That can be there too, but the nuances are going to
develop you to be able to hold opposing views, to see others opposing views
without rejecting them. All right. On to number three. “It’s not a huge
surprise that it happened.” All right, hear me out on this one.

I know for you, listeners, it probably was. It was probably the shock of
your life. But after working with so many people, couples, individuals,
hearing so many stories, there are some ingredients, there are some
predictors. There are some conditions in which a marriage can become ripe
and vulnerable for infidelity. I don’t say this to scare anybody. I’m
saying this from the experience that I’ve had in watching this and seeing
it play out and having hundreds of conversations. First of all, let’s talk
statistics. Some of the latest studies say that the statistics are that 40
to 45% of all marriages will experience some form of infidelity.

I’m here to tell you, I think the number is higher. I think there’s a lot
of unreported and undisclosed infidelity. I think there are many marriages
where there have been indiscretions that have been buried deep. Like, “I
will never reveal this. No one will ever know. She will never know. He will
never know.” I think that is pretty rampant too. And again, this is not to
be a naysayer or make people feel afraid. I’m just talking the reality of
the statistics. This is of people who have actually come forward, how many
people have not. On my end, what this makes me want to do is kind of scream
from the rooftops, a voice of warning.

I see the patterns, I see the things that people come and tell me. “This is
what was going on in our marriage. This is what he was dealing with. This
is what I was dealing with. This is what was happening.” And you see that
enough times. There’s some trends, right? So let me tell you some of those
trends that I’ve seen that are really interesting. You might be surprised.
One that I have seen is a big, big life altering change. One of them is
death. I cannot tell you how many times someone will come and say, “My
husband cheated. His mom died a year before his dad died.” So many times
where there’s this big thing, they did not have the emotional skills to
deal with it.

And so there was an opportunity presented and it was an emotional escape to
avoid the pain, to not deal with the hurt, to not confront it. That’s one
big one. Another big one is around pregnancy and childbirth and early years
of having children. I don’t like this. I don’t at all. I think it’s sad,
but a lot of people have come to me and said, “I was pregnant with kid
number one or pregnant with kid number three, and he got involved and this
is what he was doing. Or I had just had a baby and this is what was
happening.” And I’ve thought about this and gone, what is going on with the
men? What’s going on with them?

And I think that a lot of it is discomfort at a big change coming, not
knowing how to cope, not knowing how to deal, not knowing how to handle it.
And I will say, I’m going to be honest here. Even in my own marriage, my
current marriage, we had a really, really hard time when I was pregnant
with our surprise number 12. And after her birth, we went through a really
rough patch, really rough patch. She’s two now. But there were times where
I was looking at my options, where I was really, really thinking about it
and taking into consideration all the things that I coach on and going,
“Andrea, what do you want? What’s your bottom line?

What’s your standard for what kind of marriage you want? What kind of
relationship you want? What are the areas that need to go? What are the
areas that need to grow?” Now, just a little background, we have a huge
blended family. He had five with his first wife. I had six. We decided not
to have any together. He had a vasectomy. And voila, I was pregnant at 43.
One of the bigger shocks of my entire life. I was shocked. I got depressed.
I had been a mom for a long time. At the time of this recording, my oldest
biological kid is 25 and I have a 2-year-old. Just to put that into
perspective.

And I was really mad that I was kind of seeing the light of being an empty
nester and knowing that I would be starting over was really, really, really
hard. It was really hard. And I’d worked so hard to build my business and
didn’t know how I was going to be able to do both. And my husband also
really, really struggled. It definitely hit on some trigger points for both
of us in big ways. And it was rough. It was rough. And fortunately, we have
worked through it. We’ve gone and gotten help. He went and got help. I had
people that I worked with to help me, and we’ve been able to come together
and unite. And gosh, we love our girl. Every day we cannot imagine not
having her.

How could we not have her? It’s turned into that. But I do understand this
space of sometimes we self-destruct. Sometimes we do things that are so
self-sabotaging when we don’t know how to handle the stress of something.
And this is something that I have seen time and time again in talking with
people. So also some other things that I see all the time that our
predictors are when intimacy has gone out the window. And this is not to say
we have to be intimate this many times a week or that you owe your partner,
nothing like that. It’s more what is going on underneath in the relationship
to where either that desire is not there or maybe you don’t feel safe being
that vulnerable.

What’s going on there, right? Sometimes one or both feel like they’re in
trouble with the other person all the time. I felt that way a lot in my
first marriage. I felt like I was kind of in trouble like that. I was going
to get scolded or chewed out, and it was a really painful way to live. And
I hear that a lot from men, that they often feel like they’re in trouble,
that they’re just being judged, that they can’t quite make a move that’s
right. And when you’ve got somebody there that’s telling you how amazing
and wonderful you are, it can be really easy, right? Really easy to go,
“That’s nice over there.” And so when there’s seething resentment, when
there’s just a stop of communication where it’s apathetic, like, “Whatever,
don’t even care.”

These are all huge red flags. Pay attention. Pay attention, pay attention.
Again, I’m not saying that in every relationship where these things are
present and somebody’s going to be unfaithful, that’s not what I’m saying.
But I am saying this will continue and get worse unless something
drastically changes. On to lesson number four. Sometimes it’s the only
thing big enough to wake up the marriage. While I don’t love that, I think
it’s true. These marriages that are just in so much pain, these marriages
where people are suffering, where they feel disconnected, where they feel
invisible, or they feel like they have to squash so far down how they
actually feel or just ignore themselves completely to just get by.

And often, I would say most of the time, affairs happen less because
somebody’s just being a horribly selfish person. Yes, it is a selfish act.
It is. But I think more times it’s like, “I can’t handle, I can’t tolerate
the way that I feel in this marriage, and I got to do something to let some
air in to feel something different.” And everyone that I talked to that has
had the affair says, “I wish I did it different. I wish I would’ve gone
about it in a different way, approached it a different way.” But we often
do not know how. We are not taught strong relational skills, how to go in
and have these conversations and say, “I’m not going to continue this way.

I’m dying inside.” We don’t know how to do that, how to handle the conflict
of that. How to approach things in a way that’s not aggressive. These are
the things that have to be learned and taught. And so sometimes, a lot of
the time what happens is there is a breach, some kind of infidelity. And
it’s the only thing that’s big enough to wake up the marriage, to jolt it
awake, to go, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Wake up, wake up. Our house is on
fire. Our house is on fire. What’s going on here?” We all have troubles and
struggles in our relationships at different times. We all do.

But how easy it is to go back into old ways of doing things using the same
way that we’ve always dealt with conflict, to deal with this. Same way of
avoiding or our fear responses, fighting or fleeing or whatever we tend to
do, going back into those same relational patterns. Infidelity is one of
the very few things that’s such a jolt to the system that you have to pay
attention. You cannot just ignore it. And those that try to, it will bite
you in the butt. It will backfire. There is no shortcut. There is no
avoiding it. There is no not going through it. If you want a shot of any
kind of healthy relationship for yourself and with your partner, and it’s a
bummer.

But over my years, I’ve heard so many times now, “I’m glad it happened. I
don’t know that anything would’ve changed. I don’t know. I don’t think
anything would’ve changed. I think that we would either be divorced or just
so, so unhappy, and I feel so much more alive, so much more aware. I’m such
a different person for it.” And this is whether they’re staying or going.
All right. Number five. Both people have to participate in the healing or
it’s a no go. I back that one up. I feel very firm on that one. Yes, my
group coaching program is for women. I will be developing out more things
for men and for couples that’s coming, but my main offer right now is for
women.

But here’s why. Because a lot of my women don’t know how to have their own
back because they’ve been conditioned to keep themselves down, to not take
up too much space, to not be too much. They often don’t know the questions
they should be asking. They don’t know what it is they need to be looking
for, and they don’t know how to approach it. They don’t know how to
approach it. They don’t know what they’re allowed to ask for. And so they
come into my group and I help coach them on these things in real time. What
about this? What about this situation? Am I a fool for even considering
staying? I would never say yes to that question.

I would help explore it so that they can answer it for themselves. But
here’s the thing, yes, I help my women to grow stronger internally so they
can go into the relationship as a really strong advocate for moving things
forward, whether that’s with that person or without. But what happens is my
women are able to go have these conversations that their spouses are like,
“Oh my gosh, wow, who is this?” And give them something strong to think
about, to go, “She means business. She’s not going back to the way it was.
She’s not going to just ignore this. She’s not just going to sweep under
the rug.

She means it. She’s serious. She will leave me. I would be alone if I don’t
get this together.” And there’s some schools of thought around just getting
really strong internally, so basically anybody can do anything and you can
not get offended and you can just let it be and let people do their thing
and not need anybody to change. I get that to a point, and my thought on
that is it’s not quite good enough. And here’s why. Because I believe that
the greatest joy in relationships comes from both people being all in.
That’s where it gets really awesome, really fun. Where both of you get to
thrive, where it’s not one of you having to be really Stoic and putting up
with things that you really don’t want to put up with, but being able to
handle it because you’re so emotionally strong.

Nope, that’s not good enough. The only way that it works in a way that
makes it all worth it as far as keeping the marriage together is if both
people are working to build something amazing. That means both people are
looking at where they go off the rails and their own thinking, where they
are dragging things down, where they’re self-sabotaging. Really looking at
it, how they’re showing up. It goes for both parties. And if it doesn’t,
it’s a no go. It’s just not going to happen. At least it’s not going to
happen in a sustainable way. Both people have to participate. That was
number five. I’m going to throw in a bonus number six.

In the last five years of coaching, I’ve learned so much about me, so much
about myself. I came into the coaching business, bright-eyed and bushy
tailed. “I’m going to build a coaching business.” With zero experience in
any kind of business. And what I’ve learned is that when we put our minds
to something, when we feel called, when it’s a mission, when we feel
driven, we can figure out whatever we want. We can figure it out. If it’s in
our heart to do something, it means that there is a solution. And that goes
for if you feel in your heart one way or another about your marriage, about
staying, going, about what your bottom line is, about any of those things.
It means that it’s possible.

It just means that there might be some growth and development that needs to
take place for you to see that, and that becomes your path forward. For me,
I had a lot to learn, so much to learn. I grew up really poor. I don’t know
how much I’ve talked about this, but I grew up really poor. For all of my
middle school years, we had no electricity. We had no running water, no
phone. For part of that time, I lived in a tent with an outhouse on the
side of the road. When I say poor, I mean poor. And it has been quite a
feat to teach my brain that I’m worthy of money, of not needing to worry
about money, of having nice things.

It’s been a lot to teach my brain that I can balance work and family. It’s
been a lot to teach my brain that my voice matters and that I’m worth
listening to. And throughout this, I have been able to build a thriving six
figure business that has been such a joy. And I’ve also learned that the
times that have been really, really hard, like when I talked about after my
baby was born, and even during when I was pregnant, it was challenging. And
then after she was born, it really, really hit the fan. It was really hard.

And what I’ve learned is that those moments, as much as they suck when
you’re in them, they’re carving me out. They’re working for me. I believe
that to my core, they’re carving me out. They’re refining me. They’re
showing me the areas that I need to strengthen, showing me that it’s time to
focus on this now. It’s time to double down on this thing. It’s time,
Andrea, to let go of this way of dealing with things that is no longer
serving you. Your way of approaching, your way of dealing with things,
whatever that may be. And I believe that for you too, that even the hardest
stuff, the things that are just painful, can be your greatest teachers, can
deepen your abilities.

For me, I look at that really hard time, and 100%, it helped deepen my
ability to help others, to understand more about people. It’s pretty
powerful. Anything that is on your mind, on your heart, that you want,
something that matters to you, you’re meant to have it. This business has
been such a joy to me, such a blessing to my family. Every day I pinch
myself that this is what I get to do. So to wrap this up, lesson one, we
are a lot more alike than different. Lesson two, there’s far more nuanced
than we may think. Lesson three, it is not a huge surprise that it
happened. Lesson four, sometimes it’s the only thing that’s big enough to
wake up the marriage.

And lesson five, both people have to participate in the healing or it is a
no go. All right, my beautiful people, that’s what I have for you today. I
hope you enjoyed it. I hope you learned from it, and I’ll see you next
time. Bye-bye.

Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
episodes, and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly
email. You can subscribe at andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. Again,
it’s andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.

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Hi. I’m Andrea Giles and I am so glad you are here.

Not many years back I found myself in a life I didn’t recognize, feeling confused, sad, and so small. My “forever” marriage was in shambles, and I didn’t know if I could ever trust my own judgment again.  Through my faith and some great tools, I was able to completely change my life and find myself again. Now it is my mission to help others who are right where I was. Click the button below to read more about my story.

Why was I not enough?

Does this question torment you? It did me too until I learned that the actions of my spouse had nothing to do with me, my worth, or my lovability. Click on the link below for a free guide that will teach you the 3 biggest lies about infidelity and why they are keeping you stuck.

Hi. I’m Andrea Giles and I am so glad you are here.

Not many years back I found myself in a life I didn’t recognize, feeling confused, sad, and so small. My “forever” marriage was in shambles, and I didn’t know if I could ever trust my own judgment again.  Through my faith and some great tools, I was able to completely change my life and find myself again. Now it is my mission to help others who are right where I was. Click the button below to read more about my story.