Sunday, February 20, 2011

D-Day 101: Is he worth keeping?

I've heard the stories from women who vowed to save their marriage and shake their husband back to sanity. Frankly, I couldn't do it. Though there's little doubt in my mind that a whole lotta these guys completely lose their minds in the midst of an affair, I don't think it's up to the betrayed wife to try and convince them to smarten up.
The way I see it, you likely don't have the energy or the motivation to bring him back from Crazyville. He hopped that train and it's up to him to find his way back.
Your only job is to figure out whether you want him back once he arrives. And most of them will arrive. Most of these guys weren't looking for a way out of their marriage...just out of their doldrums. Or their emotional isolation. Or their crappy childhoods. But that's for them to sort through with a good therapist.
Your simple task (beyond hauling your betrayed butt out of bed every morning and attempting to get through your day) is to really think about whether he's worth giving another chance. Some of 'em are. Plenty aren't.
How do you know? give him some tests, kinda like multiple choice, except there are no "guesses". This isn't about anger or revenge or "an eye for an eye." It's about treating yourself with respect...and demanding the same from him. Whether he can answer these things right away or he needs to sift through his own confusion doesn't necessarily indicate whether he's a good guy who screwed up or a total scumbag. Some of these guys have this ass backward. They figure that, 'if I had an affair, I must be unhappy with my wife'. When the truth is, they had an affair because they're unhappy with themselves. But it's so much more convenient to blame someone else. And it can take time to come to that unpleasant but ultimately true conclusion.
Choice #1: Does he want his marriage or doesn't he? If he picks yes, then he's got some homework. Starting with a No Contact letter to his OW. No emotional good-byes. No "just one more meeting to let her down easy." No, "but she didn't know I was married. She got hurt, too." Simple, straightforward and vetted by you. Along the lines of "I made a terrible mistake getting involved with you and I've chosen to try and save my marriage. I will no longer have any contact with you. I insist that you respect his." You could ask that he threaten legal action if she violates this, but that might be unnecessarily inflammatory. Depends on just how stalkerish his OW is. His loyalty needs to be to you, right now. Your feelings are the ones that trump anyone else's. 
Choice #2: Is he willing to accept responsibility for the pain and betrayal he's caused you. That's not to say responsibility for the fact that your marriage likely had its issues. But total responsibility for lying, deceiving you and potentially risking your physical health. If so...good. But he still needs to work with a counsellor to uncover why he made this choice...and put boundaries into place to ensure it doesn't happen again.
If not? Well...don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out, buddy.
Choice #3: Is he willing to offer complete transparency in order to regain your trust: access to any and all e-mail accounts, texts, cell phones, computer passwords, credit card bills and so on. Trust is tough to earn...and easy to lose. It's going to take time and steady proof that he's being honest with you. "Trust...but verify" is your new motto.
Choice #4: Is he willing to do whatever it takes to be the man you thought he was (assuming you thought he was a decent, loving husband. If you thought he was a total jerk even pre-D-Day, then your marriage has more issues than infidelity). This means answering your questions even if you've asked them a dozen times, holding you while you cry, listening while you scream...and supporting you through likely the most painful experience of your life.
Then – and only then – does he deserve his second chance. 


  1. Not sure were to put this as I can't find a related post.
    I'm finding I have an alarming fall out from my husbands infidelity.
    Were I was once so in love with my partner I felt no need to perv, flirt or do anything inappropriate with other men.
    I now find it's as if my body has been reset to single mode. I look for potential next partners everywhere- Grocery shopping, the train, driving the car. Any place I see a male I see a potential partner. I size them up for niceness, money earning and ready made father worthy. (realistically I know that's not true and is not going to happen and I'm not about to do the same thing as my husband has done to me- many times)
    Yet it's still there and getting worse. I become very attracted to other men that I am around, like embarrassing teenage crushes that will not go away.
    I'm not a good actor and my present 'it' is only too aware of my blushing and word stumbling when he comes and tries to talk to me (all nothing on his part)
    It's adding just one more drama to my life that is not needed.
    My theory is that with the loss of my love for my husband I'm now searching for it again, anywhere I can.
    Is anyone else going though this- Is this just one more stage to get though?
    Or perhaps just another sign that my marriage is as dead as I fear it is and hanging on for grim death is not working.

  2. Marti,
    I went through a similar situation though I was a bit more discerning about the objects of my affection ;).
    For me, I think it was a way to reaffirm my desirability about taking such a blow. Even imagining that other men would find me attractive physically and emotionally went a long toward refusing to accept the judgement of myself that he cheated because I was unappealing. No matter how much I might "know" that wasn't the case, the fear of it was lurking under the surface. By participating in some old-fashioned fantasy, I was able to remind myself positively (without any risk of STDs or creating more drama) that I was still a woman with sexual desires...and desirability.
    Given, too, that you to a certain extent have one foot out the door (you've mentioned in the past that you're biding your time til the kids are older), it's not surprising that you're testing the waters. Just be careful that you don't idealize other relationships. ALL relationships are going to have their pros and cons (ideally, one of the cons isn't that he's sleeping with other people). And keep in mind, too, that you might not be the best judge of character at the moment.
    Hang in there, Marti. Ride it out. But I don't think I'd worry that it means anything more than that you still feel a certain invisibility in your own relationship...which makes the potential attention of another pretty darn alluring. Isn't that how a lot of these affairs start? Recognizing it as a cry for attention makes it a lot less likely, I think, to actually become an affair.

  3. What happens if he is willing to do all the steps listed here, but the wife doesn't feel happy in taking him back?

    1. It's not like "you break it, you bought it." If any wife isn't interested in staying with her husband, she certainly isn't obliged to. Nobody is. This is for women who want to rebuild their marriage.


  4. I kind of feel the same way. im extremely confused a part of me wants to go then a part wants to stay. my name is towanna smith

  5. im just so confused in my marriage a part hates him and a part loves him regaurdless of his action I feel like im loosing it sometimes

    1. Hi Towanna,
      Welcome to the roller coaster ride of betrayal. Most of us do go through the "should I stay or should I go" stage. Nobody can answer that but you. It's possible to love someone..but recognize that he's not good for you. It's perfectly legitimate to love him…but simply decide that you can't and don't want to forgive him. You want out.
      But that's for you to decide. Give yourself time to sort out how much of your response is anger/hurt and how much is a genuine desire to leave him behind.




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