Friday, May 11, 2012

Five Steps to Healing a Marriage After An Affair

It seems presumptuous as well as pompous to suggest that I possess any great wisdom about healing a marriage after an affair. Yes, my husband had affairs. And yes, I'm still married. And yes, I would even consider myself and our marriage somewhat "healed" (if by "healed", one means that I no longer cry in grocery stores or fantasize about smothering my husband in his sleep). But wisdom? Not so much wisdom as life experience...which I suppose amounts to the same thing.
And I certainly know that, back when I was struggling to get through each hour of the day and wondering if I/my marriage was going to survive, I desperately wanted to know how others got through.
So, herewith, my thoughts. (And they are MY thoughts.  Take what you need, leave what doesn't work.) And remember too, this advice is for those who want to save their marriage...or at least preserve it long enough to determine if you want to save it.
Step #1: You have to both commit to putting the relationship first. Before your needs, before his needs...you serve the needs of the relationship, almost as if it's a child you're both nurturing. Once that is in place, you're far more free to hash stuff out without fear that one of you has one foot out the door.
This step is impossible with someone who's still deep in the fog of an affair. It takes two to save a marriage. You can try valiantly...but as long as he's refusing to take responsibility for the damage he's done, forget it. It doesn't mean it's over...but it does mean it's time for some tough love.
Step #2: You need to focus on healing yourself... Your main job in the early days following D-Day is to focus on taking care of yourself (and kids, if you have them). That means sleep, eating properly, avoiding excessive (or any!) alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling. It means surrounding yourself with supportive people. Avoiding toxic people. Steering clear of drama. And staying away from the OW. It's time to wrap yourself in a cocoon and nurture yourself back to a sense of safety.
Step #3: ...and don't manage his healing. As much as it will kill you to acknowledge, he's hurting too. Yes, he detonated the bomb that caused the damage...but likely you both built the bomb together through years of slights, lack of appreciation, misunderstandings. And as much as it will also kill you (and you don't need to be privy to much), he's possibly missing the OW and very likely missing the sense of excitement that the affair provided. You don't need to (and should NOT) have to listen to his tales of woe and self-pity. He brought it on himself. But you would do yourself and him some good to allow him to heal on his own. You don't get to dictate his feelings. You DO get to dictate the terms of what you need to give him another chance but (and here's the catch), they must be terms that are focussed on your marriage healing, NOT on punishing him. (Sometimes it may seem to be both...but always check your motives.) For example, you get to insist that he cut off contact with the other woman as a condition of you staying. You do NOT get to insist that he doesn't miss her. Get it? Stay focussed on YOU, what you need and what you can reasonably control.
Step #4: Don't take his affair personally. I know it sounds wacky. In the days and weeks following discovery of my husband's affair, I went crazy trying to figure out what she had that I didn't. And for a perfectionist like me, it was excruciating! I was fit...she wasn't. I was smart...she wasn't. I was an overachiever...she wasn't. I raised money for orphans...she didn't. You get the idea. My husband kept telling me it had nothing to do with me and I would scream at him "How could this NOT have something to do with me. You chose to spend time with HER not ME? How is this not personal?" He had no idea...he only knew that it wasn't.
Finally, one day the light went on. I wish I could tell you what made me realize but I guess months of analysis along with my husband's reassurance finally clicked and I realized that it truly, honestly had nothing to do with me. It wasn't that there was something wrong with me, it was that there was something wrong with HIM. And he took that brokenness to someone else because it felt safer. Because if she rejected him, it wouldn't hurt the way it would with me. Counter-intuitive, yes. The thought process of a fairly screwed up psyche, yes. But also a thought process that so many of us have and simply don't realize. We seek outside ourselves what is missing inside.
So...I'll say it again. Don't take his affairs personally. They're about his broken-ness, not yours.
Step #5: Don't use his affair as an excuse for your own bad behaviour. His cheating does not give you an excuse to cheat, lie, steal or be physically or emotionally abusive. I said some horrible things in the wake of finding out. I said he was a lying scumbag (which, at that point, was factually validated by his behaviour). I said I hated him. I said he had "killed me inside". I smashed a watch of his, broke a television. I was pretty wacked out. Discovering a spouse's affair can make you crazy. Just keep crazy to a minimum as best you can. It doesn't help you, definitely hurts your kids...and can hurt your marriage to unleash crazy. If necessary, schedule your breakdowns -- rage and kick and scream in your bedroom when the kids are at school. Pound on your pillow, imaging it's his face. But keep yourself inside the law...and the boundaries of decency. Which also means NO revenge affairs. That's simply inviting another person into an already nutty situation. It's tempting, I know, to seek solace in the arms of someone who reassures you that you're still sexy and appealing. But you are. You never stopped being so (unless, of course, you did...in which case, get thee to a gym. Physical health can go a long way toward emotional health and to self-confidence.)

145 comments:

  1. This article doesn't help women like me who's husband's had multiple affairs. If you read my blog, you'll see that I found out about OW-1 and he lied and deceived me into believing she was the only one. He cut off all contact, we wrote her a NC letter, and she became the common enemy. We were getting past it. Three months went by with lots of talking, hard work, and we were reconciling. We took a family trip and became intimate. I let myself become vulnerable again. He was so remorseful, crying all the time, doing whatever it took to heal me.

    Then I found hundreds of texts to another woman. He lied at first, then finally admitted to an EA/kissing/attempted PA. And another ONS with OW-2. I'm leaving a lot out, but that's the basic gist of it.

    So, any advice for betrayed spouses such as myself? I do NOT want to work on this marriage right now. I asked for a divorce but he is begging me to give him yet a 3rd chance. We are both in counseling but MC is pointless as I do not know if I want to stay in this marriage.

    Thank you for sharing your story, but it doesn't help betrayed spouses such as myself who have to overcome multiple affairs.

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    1. Of course this article doesn't help people like you because you're not interested in rebuilding your marriage. Which is absolutely fine and entirely your prerogative. But this post is intended for those who are willing to do the incredibly hard work of rebuilding a marriage. There are some marriages that are beyond repair or in which one or both partners simply can't or won't do what's necessary to heal it. If that's your marriage, then I think you know what your next step needs to be.
      But I do, in fact, know what it feels like to have a spouse who has had multiple affairs. My husband is a sex addict who has had dozens of affairs, with men and women. My first D-Day was when I found out about one "other woman". My second D-Day is when I found out that affairs had been going on throughout our relationship.
      That said, I made the choice to rebuild my marriage (or rather to create a new marriage with the same partner). That was my choice and certainly not for everyone. But it's been the best decision for me. And I stand by the five steps I've taken to heal.
      This site is by no means intended to be a universal fix-all for every marriage. I offer up what has worked for me....and leave it to readers to take what's meaningful and leave what isn't.
      Elle

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    2. When you say he had multiple affairs, what does that mean--since you mention only 2.
      Is he a chronic infidel/philanderer? That would mean he has been cheating for you entire marriage and probably before you married?
      I know a lot of left behind spouses (LBSs) whose spouses have had more than one alienator. But for most it is all part of a single situation--I deal with infidelity in midlife crisis (MLC). When one alienator relationship fails, an MLCer may seek out another. They are a cheater while in the Escape & Avoid phase of MLC.

      Your husband may not be an MLCer. But it sounds as though these affairs were back-toback which could mean that the issues that caused him to have the first affair were ongoing. He didn't resolve them, the affair ended and instead of working hoenstly with you to heal, he continued to look outside for solutions. That is not uncommon. Often the original alienator relationship continues after discovery--and even during counseling. This just happens to involve a new alienator, but it may be a single incident-issue within him.

      How about working toward healing your Self in the counseling and putting your marriage on the back burner--the decision about it? Things sound pretty emotional for you right now and that's not a healthy place for making big decisions--like a decision to divorce.

      Elle is so right about commitment to the marriage being a high priority if your desire is to heal the marriage. But you aren't there yet. You may get there with healing and you may not.

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    3. I don't totally agree that this blog isn't for people who are with serial cheaters. I have to come to find out that my husband has cheated on me estimated 30-40 times, with approximately 25 at least people. One is painful, two is what the hell, and you know you would think with each one you would become numb to it, and it hurt less... nope.. doesn't matter how many, it hurts like hell, and if we take that hurt we feel and come together and share those feelings of rage, hurt, fear, pain, crazies, hope, faith, forgiveness, and trust, and hear how to get those, from the ones who have, while coming back to help those yet to find. Wouldn't it be amazing to NOT feel all the negative anger, and sadness? I also think it doesn't matter if you decide to stay or to go, just because you stay doesn't mean you are tolerating the behaviour, and just because you leave doesn't guarantee you won't still be sitting in the stink of it. Wherever you go, there you are. Can't run from yourself, so might as well make a way threw it, grow and bury the anger. I'm done being stuck, I want to get out of the crazies.. that I did not ask for or want, but you know what.. I'm so grateful it. I wouldn't change it for anything. Because he gave the opportunity to find a new me that I wouldn't have found. I'm a better me today because of it. I'm a better, stronger, more compassionate assertive women for it. When we realize that by living in the hurt of it, and not forgiving this ultimate betrayal, the only person paying for it is ourselves. Not forgiving is like living in a small cell of darkness, for someone else crime. Its about us.. not them, and no matter how many times, all I want the end result.. freedom

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    4. it is a pity you've gone through this. whatever decision you take is up to you. however giving him another chance may just be the needed tonic for the necessary change. wishing you goodluck...

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  2. Elle:

    Thank you for being so honest about the journey you have been on.....thank you for sharing your thoughts , feelings , and pain. You are so correct in saying what you did to anonymous...and I would like to add....
    We are all in this 'club' , not of our choosing yet here we are...the thing is though , there is really no right nor wrong once we have entered these doors.What you decide to do with your marriage is just that...what you decide to do. There is also no secret formula other then to do what Elle suggested. Take good care of yourself. Doing all the steps that Elle has suggested though does not 'guarantee' the outcome. Some women stay , some women do not. You must do what is right for you (although I would suggest do not do anything rash for at least 6 months , some experts say 1 year).
    I have decided to stay...I know someone that has not...and asks me how in the world I could give that "scumbag" another chance (needless to say I keep contact with her at a bare minimum)...I have my answer to that but she is not willing to hear...so I end up saying " this is my journey (not yours) and i honor you in your choice for your journey"
    Anonymous...you seem to still be pondering things , if you are then just stay still with it for a bit...give it time....you will know when you will now.

    ~~ "s"

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    1. "S",

      Thank-you for your thoughtful and measured response. I get annoyed when I feel as if someone is attacking anyone on this site for simply doing what felt right for them at the time. This is far too painful an experience to handle alone...and it takes courage to be honest. I don't want anyone feeling unsafe in sharing their experience or their feelings.
      We all deserve to be heard and to have our choices supported -- whatever they are. That said, if a commenter's "choice" is to engage in an affair with another married man...I just might have to edit the comment! :)
      Elle

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  3. Elle

    You got a good chuckle out of me!!!!!! No let her respond so that we may all have the opportunity to
    """ edit"" Her...... LOLOL

    ~~ S

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  4. It's insanely difficult either way, right?

    Anyway, I can't seem to hear these things enough. Thanks

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    1. Yes, I think the effects of betrayal go on whether we choose to stay or leave. It's such a deep wound (trauma!) and often leaves us feeling "unsafe" in the world -- unable to trust our own judgement because so frequently we were clueless.
      So yes...insanely difficult either way. Not (says the optimist in me!) impossible, though! :)

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  5. "It wasn't that there was something wrong with me, it was that there was something wrong with HIM."
    That pretty much sums it up right with that sentence.

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  6. Elle...and everyone..........we WILL be better after this / thru this


    ~~ S

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  7. My question is 'how do I know whether to stay or go?'

    It's been over a year since DDay & I made the decision then to give it some time (6 months? 1 year?) before making a rash decision. Here we are now, though, over a year out and I still don't know what to do. Through lots & lots & lots of individual & couples therapy I now understand the big 'why?' question, the context, how this could have happened. I see what was deeply broken in my husband and, as much as I hate to acknowledge it, I see how our marriage wasn't in a great place, which provided a context for a broken man to break his vows. HIS fault entirely - entirely! - but I did help create the context of the marriage and if he were different (better/stronger/healthier) he wouldn't have made the messed up choice he did. Anyway, I intellectually & emotionally get all that but there are still times (daily? weekly? definitely not hourly, which is a big improvement) where something triggers my mind to remember what happened and I get sideswiped by the 'oh my god, my H was f-ing someone else for 6 months' Mac truck & in that moment I think, deeply believe, there's no way I can move forward in this marriage with a man (albeit a remorseful, sweet, earnest, generally sensitive & caring) who could do something so monstrous. But then I try to remember that awful context, remember that we've come a long way, try very hard to find a glimmer of optimism (they say marriages can be stronger... right? right?), and think about how deeply sad we would each be if we were to separate. And what it would do to our young children.

    So how do I know? I remember when I was getting married everyone said 'when you see the right dress you'll just know'. Never happened to me. I didn't ever have that knowing feeling and got married in a (ridiculously expensive, unfortunately) dress that I liked but didn't love and somewhere deep down thought 'oh no, should I have held out for 'the one' but does one ever really KNOW and isn't that all a bunch of princess-ey hooey anyway)! Interesting that that was about a wedding dress and here I am wondering how I could possibly KNOW what's right to do in the face of infidelity.

    Anyone else feel the same? Elle - it sounds like you were committed early on to making it work. How did you KNOW?

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    1. Hi Erica,
      I wish I could say I "know"...but I don't. I try and take each day as it comes. Like you, I kept expecting clarity to just arrive. Like you, I never quite "knew" about a lot of things in my life. I'm blessed or cursed to always be able to see both (or more) sides of a situation. Each has its pros and cons and it's not always something you can simply weigh and come out with a clear winner.
      I think too that many of us are looking for that magical moment where we feel "healed". We hear about these marriages where the couples say they've never been more in love and it's never been better. And we desperately want that.
      Marriage, however, is a process. Two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes a leap forward, sometimes a fall back.
      I'll never be able to really look at my husband the same way. My marriage will probably never feel totally safe to me again. I know what he's capable of doing... and then lying about it. But I'm aware that he was always capable of it...we're never able to completely read another person's mind and thinking we can is a dangerous illusion.
      But someone who's erred and then learned from that mistake is likely a better bet than someone who believes themselves incapable of making that mistake. If I had a nickel for every cheating husband who's said, "I never thought I could do that..."
      Frankly, I think your answer is right in your letter. And it hearkens back to that old Ann Landers nugget of wisdom: Are you better off with him or without him?
      You mention how sad you'd be without him and how painful it would be for your kids.
      For me, honestly, it was my three kids that kept me from leaving. I knew I didn't have the strength to deal with THEIR pain if I left, let alone my own. So I stayed. And I'm not sorry. We're rebuilding a marriage. We're best friends. We've got work to do (unlike you, we didn't do a lot of couples therapy -- it took us years to find someone we really think is helpful). But how many people can HONESTLY say their marriage is perfect.
      I don't know whether we'll be together in 10 years.
      But I'm where I want to be today. And that's the only answer that counts right now.
      Elle

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    2. Erica/Elle--
      I feel the exact same way. I gave myself a year and I pasted that mark a few months back. I feel stronger now like I could leave him . . . But the kids!!!??? Daily life isn't so bad, I could do this I think. My fear and suspicion, however, is that along with never looking at him in the same way again, I wonder if I still love him. How can I stayed married and maintain any sense of dignity? Am I short changing myself and MY happiness for the sake of my kids? Never easy answers -- that's why I'm up at 3am -- so many, many shades of gray.

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    3. I think, too, it's important to acknowledge that marriages chance no matter the circumstances. I have no idea, even with a "perfect" marriage with no betrayal, that I wouldn't occasionally be having doubts. Marriages get stale, husbands get bald, kids become teens... Sometimes I wonder if the betrayal becomes the lightning rod for every doubt/fear/anxiety/disappointment that follows, rather than understanding that marriage is peaks and valleys...just like life.
      Just a thought... :)
      Elle

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    4. 'how do I know whether to stay or go?'
      I knew when I said I do. That doesn’t mean I hold anyone else to that—other than Sweetheart that is. I was a Stander and I do not personally believe in divorce—with rare exceptions. But my vows did not contain an infidelity clause.
      And for me it was not about knowing—perhaps because I did not ever not-know. For me it was about what do I want? And what I wanted was to be married to Sweetheart. That did not mean I wanted the cheating Monster, but I knew that Sweetheart was in there somewhere and we would come through together.
      So what I usually ask or tell people, is What do you want? Do you want to be married to your spouse—the core person and not the Monster?
      You said that your husband is remorseful, sweet, earnest, generally sensitive & caring. From your brief description, it sounds as though he is doing everything right for reconciliation and rebuilding. The problem right now is with you. You are still in the phase of reliving and trauma. You say it’s been a year as though that is a long time, I say it’s only been a year and it takes longer.
      I am one of those who also believes it is better to stay married for the kids. Children are better off in intact families if the marriage is low-conflict. The exception is a high-conflict marriage; most divorces are from low-conflict marriages. But I don’t want to guilt you into staying for your children either.

      I think you need more time and perhaps more guidance in how to get through so that you are no longer reliving the trauma. Maybe some Plans of Action about what to do when the trauma overtakes you. I really like the concepts in solution-oriented therapy. It talks about looking at the times when things are good and learning from those. So look now at the days or even tiny moments when you are not feeling or immersed in that trauma. Study those moments for what is different about them. Is it something about the weather, the day of the week, something your husband is doing, something external like an event that triggers the good moments? The idea is that you already know what needs to be done for your personal cure; you just need to know how to access it and you can do that by studying those good moments.

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    5. Pippa: “How can I stayed married and maintain any sense of dignity? Am I short changing myself and MY happiness for the sake of my kids?”
      I apologize if this seems a pat answer, but it is what I live by. Joy is a choice. If you take the attitude that you are sacrificing your happiness, then that is how you will experience it.

      Your comment feels similar to the common idea that reconciling means disrespecting yourself and it teaches kids it’s okay to do that or that the cheating was okay.
      People think that men and women who Stand for their marriage and reconcile after infidelity must be doormats and they must have no self-respect. To me, what they are really saying is that I don’t respect you. Well, good for them. What I’m not going to do is sacrifice my self-respect in order to maintain theirs—because I wouldn’t respect myself if I were to go against my own values in order to do what someone else thought was best.

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    6. It is suggested not to make any drastic changes for about the first year, as long as your wellbeing is safe. Now that doesn't mean a "theurpudic separation" (sorry spelling) is out. I've know my husband had cheated on me afew times (so I believed) but the last year the "truth" has been making its way (molasses is quicker) and I was able to be a fly on the wall, and wow, did I get an eye opener. I've done a lot of healing in the last 6 years. When I found out about his affair with his ex-wife, then found out he was having one with his ex-gf that was afew years and even both of them, plus a ons in same month. I learned its not about me, how to truly forgive, and what an amazing gift that is (for me not them..ME) His ex wife and I are friends, and we all lived together last year with there grandson, and yes, I was good with it.. I think I helped them get over the event, go figure. Her is what I've been able to come up with, on the do I stay or go question.. (btw we are going for a formal disclosure tomorrow where yes I know most things, but I want a safe place to hear it and ask the questions without worry or cut off or him attempting to point the finger at me, like I say when you point the finger at someone, you have 3 more point back at you..go ahead try it...)
      1. DO NOT make a choice while in the crazies, or in the heat of the moment or when extreamly emotional or on a whim..this could back fire and yes it feels good, it might not soon after.
      2. Ask yourself this question.. WHEN it happens again (again multiply affairs, not the ons that was a true mistake)not IF, WHEN, it happens again (even if it never does) WILL I live threw it, will I be ok or will my life come crashing down, will I lose touch with myself completly and unable to bear the pain?? If you will be in a state of dispair, then go on your own, don't end if your not ready, but time apart is good for both. It gives you a chance to heal and know yourself, and also to see how they act during this time. If you know your healthy enough and have learned not to be so emeshed into them, and are your own individual, then stick it out if you want.
      3. When you know.. you know. If you can sit calmly and without drama or in the crazies, but sit in calm peace and ask God, is it over, do I really want to do this and be apart of this anymore?? If you say I'm done now, and breath for the first time, then you know. That doesn't mean it won't hurt or you won't cry, or go threw the grief, and no matter you will, The answer will come to you when you ask and your centred all around. I've come to the path the long winding way.. I am not 100% throwing it in, and tomorrow, if my deal breaker was broken, I"m ok with walking away after 14 year.. with no regrets

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  8. This is unrelated to this blog post.
    I was wondering what your opinion would be (you may have written about it on here?) on staying in a loveless marriage.
    My marriage was destroyed after finding out about 7/12 years of infidelity, then further ruined by another year- sort of ongoing with denial, blame, anger and the whole cheaters found out package.
    I find myself in a position of a wife married to someone she can not leave for financial reasons (poor single motherhood is not attractive nor is being unable to continue my career).
    For family reasons (I can hardly stand the thought of loosing my children even for a day or a week, of someone else being a mother to them and of my MIL stepping in when I am not around to take over control).
    I no longer love, or maybe refuse to let myself love my husband as he is extremely untrustworthy and generally not worthy of me or his family. He dose live up to his other roles and responsibilities incredibly well.
    My children and I want for nothing, he is very helpful around the house and he is generous with his time and love towards me. He dose do a lot of things that before finding out would have made me swoon with happiness and love.
    Our relationship is one that if you were to be unaware of the indefinites a very good one, much like it was before finding out.
    However I feel nothing but empty and extremely lonely. I miss having someone to hug to kiss or too look forward to coming home too.
    I am unsure how to fill this void in my life. Everything seems to be a superficial bandaid, seeing friends, focusing on my children, moving forward with my career, hobbies, therapy, buying things, looking pretty, helping others, not buying things...
    Whatever it may be that I think will brig my some wholeness again.
    I've actually ridiculously considered having some one for myself outside of the marriage- because that wouldn't be a dumb idea :/
    Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

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    1. Oh wow! I feel you. It hasn't been that long for me, but I too wrote Elle months ago about wanting an affair. I even had a guy who showed interest. I talked to him for about a month. She had wise words for me that night. It even kept me from sending him a message. I hope she shares them again with you so i can re-read them.

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  9. Marti,
    I'm so sorry you're feeling completely stuck. I can't help but think that you're still in the post-trauma phase – that numbness, the fear of letting yourself get caught unaware again. And I think, when we're feeling so numb that the idea of someone on the side (I've considered it myself!!) makes us think we'll come alive again.
    I believe, however, it would create more pain than pleasure...not to mention complications. And I suspect, given your strong moral compass, it won't feel right to you.
    Are you still in therapy? I honestly think you still haven't completely processed what happened and that's what's holding you back. Hate to offer up two-bit analysis because frankly my head is up my butt half the time, but I don't think it's him that's preventing your peace...but you.
    In other words, I think you're standing in your own way... That's not to say you SHOULD stay in your marriage. Only that I don't necessarily think that without him you'll suddenly achieve peace of mind. I think it's the betrayal that's killing you...not the betrayer.
    Does that make any sense?
    Elle

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  10. Honestly, I can't get past the "don't take it personally" part. Its marriage, how can it NOT be personal. Our wedding vows, those promises he made me - he didn't think they were worth keeping so I just don't get how it can't be not personal.

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    1. You're applying logic to an illogical situation. If these guys really stopped to follow a logical argument – "I promised her I would forsake all others, this woman is an "other", therefore I should forsake her" – then affairs wouldn't happen. Instead, the thought process goes something like this (abbreviated, of course): "I'm feeling disappointed with life, this woman thinks I'm smart, sexy and funny, therefore I need to do what's necessary to keep her thinking I'm smart, sexy and funny because then maybe I'll believe I'm smart, sexy and funny." You likely don't even enter the thought process except, perhaps, as a guilty conscience that if often quickly pushed away thanks to alcohol, compartmentalized thinking, distraction.
      And so it goes...until the day comes when you find out and suddenly these guys are faced with the obvious: they've done something excruciating painful to the person they love. So many of these guys are genuinely baffled by their wife's pain. Responses range from, "I didn't think you'd take it so hard" to "but she means nothing to me" to "I just didn't think of you..."
      So...don't take it personally essentially means to simply NOT assume that his affair really had anything to do with your worth as a wife, friend, human being. Of course, it's personal in that you're affected dramatically (and often traumatically). But his thought process rarely included you or, if it did, it generally was about how you're disappointed in him, nag him, whatever he has to tell himself to justify aberrant behavior.
      Elle

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  11. Step #5: I did not adhere to this GREAT advice. I was the Queen of Crazy Town, all about making WH squirm. I really thought I could find a way to hurt him as much as he hurt me. Nope. Not possible and Believe me...I worked hard at it! VERY Hard! When it felt too close to home, I directed my anger at OW. For a year I tried to make her pay. Found myself in court defending a restraining order. She was soooo not worth my energy, but you couldn't tell me that back then.

    You can't heal. You can't work on reconciliation or move forward at all if you don't find a way to let go of the anger. You gotta let go to get better. Somedays I can...others...not so much.
    Thanks for the reminder, Elle.
    Hope & Hugs, Shawn
    http://ayearaftertheaffair.blogspot.com/

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    1. Going apeshit can, bizarrely, make us feel as if we're DOING something rather than laying down and getting walked on. It can make us feel as if we're strong and powerful. But crazy is just...crazy. It isn't strength or power. At least not the kind that's going to move us toward healing. Most us do head to Crazytown at one point or another. They key is to exit as quickly as possible.
      Thanks Shawn. I suspect you would have been very entertaining to watch! :)
      Elle

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    2. LOL! Yes, Elle, I sure had my moments. It would have been like watching a train wreck. Hard to see but you can't help but look!
      Took over a year for this train to leave Crazy Town. I hope when others read my story they will catch an earlier train...better yet, a fast jet outta there!
      Hope & Hugs, Shawn
      http://ayearaftertheaffair.blogspot.com/

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  12. Four weeks ago I discovered that my husband of 36 years had been having an affair for 12 years with a woman 20 years his junior and concurrently, for the past six months, with another woman in her 50s. Charming. I have been the complete mad woman, experiencing mood swings that I only ever watched in my son during his extreme bipolar disorder. I never thought it would happen to me. My husband is extremely charismatic, a room-worker, egocentric and totally self-absorbed. Naturally I found out of these affairs because he had forgotten his phone and I came across messages from both woman, one after the other, on a Saturday morning while he was out.

    He predictably denied it when I confronted him. It took almost two weeks for it all to come out. I'm blinded by anger. Of course he states that he never wanted to leave me; that he always put me and the kids first. Strange position. He only ever put his career and himself first. The other woman, 28 when he met her, continued with her affair with him from before she was married; after she married and after each of her two children. You do have to ask what kind of woman this is? She's betrayed her husband and children in order to have sex with my husband in the back of cars and on his office floor. The continual 'sexting' I knew nothing about. He was 'astounded' at the depth of my reaction. 'I didn't think it was so bad,' he told me. He never thought that I would find out. No doubt had I not found out, then he would still be continuing with both affairs.

    I'm accused of being 'naive' and 'stupid' because, although I believed he was capable of being a scumbag, I always trusted him to actually step back and not physically start an affair. Well, there you go, we live and learn...

    He's now conciliatory. He doesn't want us to split up. He's coming to counselling with me and wants to see his own therapist to understand his sexual behaviour (he'd already had a one-stand and another 'fling' years earlier.) I don't trust a word he says. I was never a jealous wife and gave him loads of rope. He took it and fell in love with the younger woman who obviously told him all the stuff he wanted to hear and fulfilled all the sexual pleasures he wanted to experience. How can I compete with that?

    I don't know whether it's worth continuing with him, knowing that his past actions will probably be part and parcel of his natural behaviour and thus he would be unable to change. It's a conundrum.

    What are your thoughts here? I'd appreciate them. Thanks.

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    1. Welcome...though I'm so, so sorry you need to be here.
      I know for some women, it's crystal clear within minutes of finding out – that they'll stay or that they'll go. It took me far longer...and indeed most "experts" recommend waiting six months to a year before making any big decisions because the shock of finding out takes so long to truly absorb. It was all I could do to get out of bed and care for my children, let alone make life-altering decisions. In the meantime, my husband and I were both in counselling. In my husband's case, he later disclosed that he was in treatment for sex addiction.
      I did know in the early days that I didn't want to separate – though I generally said it was because I didn't want to unnecessarily destabilize our family. But honestly, I think I just wanted him relatively close to me while I figured out if this was something we could heal from.
      I don't think there are easy answers. I think therapy will help you get clearer. And I think you should ask for whatever you need from him -- space, if that's what you need. And I certainly think he owes you total honesty and transparency about everything he's done...and on a day-to-day basis, everywhere he is, who he's with, etc. It's the only way you can even begin to fell safe again in the relationship and in the world.
      Discovering a spouse's affair, let alone years of duplicity is traumatic and you'll likely experience post-trauma symptoms. Don't underestimate how shocking this is and give yourself time to slowly regain your equilibrium.
      I'm glad you found us...hope you'll continue to share your thoughts.
      Elle

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    2. I just came back here again, having forgotten that I had written that post above. Talk about transparency: I found out later from searching everything that he had had a ten year affair when the kids were babies, as well as five or six others during the time that he was with the '12 year woman.' His response: 'I was completely mad. I lost every value. I'm full of remorse and humiliation and embarassment and will do anything to save my marriage.'

      We are now almost six months from 'DDay#1' and four from 'DDay#2', as well as more truths. It's taken all this time. He had simply no introspection beforehand. It's taken all this time for him to begin to understand himself and his motivations.

      We are working on it but it's very hard. At least (I think) he is trying hard. If there is one more slight step back to the 'other side' then it's over and he knows that.

      So far as the 12 year affair woman is concerned: He's sick to death of talking about her (I've used every tortuous question under the sun) and now, of course, can't understand what the allure was. The thing is that he 'lived' that allure for twelve years, so obviously it was mighty powerful. It's been an absolutely horrific time. I've lived through some dark times but this was the worst.

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    3. I suspect your husband's comment that he "had lost every value...full of remorse and humiliation" is the most honest thing he's said in a long time. And I wouldn't bet that this woman held "allure" for 12 years. The allure might have been over relatively quickly. Then it turns into a path from which these guys don't know how to turn around. As crazy as it sounds, it becomes "easier" to just keep going along than risk the wrath (and possible disclosure) of the Other Woman.
      Crazy to us...but a lot of these guys become masters at convincing themselves that crazy is normal.
      Now that the bright light of disclosure is on his affair(s), they likely do look pretty awful and the women less than appealing.
      At a certain point, you'll need to determine if you need more details (I kinda doubt it) or if you can accept that what looks alluring on the outside became much less so for him.
      Dark times indeed. But they're behind you now.

      Elle

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    4. I understand how you feel. my husband has been texting a women and it's on a daily basis now. I ran across his phone and seen several text. I do know that she is involved not sure if she is married of just with someone. She did mention that she didn't want to but her family life jeopardy. I think she should have thought about that before she started her little fling. I haven't approached him because I'm trying to see just how long it takes for the both of them to hang themselves. I know the neighborhood she lives in I'm just waiting until he disappears one day when he get a call or text from her so I can see if that is where he runs to. I have mentioned to him that I think something is going on and he keeps saying I'm paranoid. But when you call and text another women multiple times a day and don't call your wife, something is wrong with that. Anytime you are married and the both of you have something that you can't share with the other partner, then you got a problem. He said his cell phone is his private property and me or anyone should not have any reason to look at it. That was a big red flag for me. I have a cell phone to the difference is he can see mine anytime I have nothing to hide. I'm just waiting to let everything fall into place and decide what I will do from there when that time comes. My night and days of crying are over. My heart is a heart of stone now. It's gonna be hard to bounce back. We will see.

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    5. I've been where you are more then many times. I would have the stuff I needed as proof so that I could confront him and make him tell me. I would give him the noose to hang himself. I heard the whole your jealous, paranoid, and even my cell phone is my personal space, none of your business, I'll leave you if you look threw it, and I was being controlling. He is doing the to do things now, honesty has been bitter sweet for me. But after we had our disclosure a couple of months ago, (I knew of many but didn't know that much, yet painful, I know I'm not crazy)I read him your blog, he looked at me, said yeah.. I know why he is saying that, and hope she doesn't let him fool. I would investigate get my ducks in a row waiting for him to be confronted. I could punish, humiliate him. Truth is, that is not what we are doing. We are trauma seeking. We are afraid of what will happen. It is easier to believe the lie, then to acknowledge the truth, because the truth is painful and scary, and what are we really going to do when we find out. Its reassurance that we have been harmed, away to look in whatever way we need, and away to justify that we didn't mess up the marriage,, he did with his cheating, blame the other person for chasing our spouse, and not looking at our defects. I'm sorry, but he is having an affair with this women, you don't need anymore proof of it. Those that have nothing to hide, hide nothing. Your in the crazies, and I'm sure hurt, angry sad and going to explode soon. Instead of trauma seeking, focus your energy on what will you do when it comes out. Don't wait to make a choice when it does. Get councelling and tell them what you believe is happened, and what you want to do about it. Begin by doing a 180. Start putting your energy into yourself and healing. Start healing from the affair before it comes, because when it does, its going to drive your crazies further. Start forgiving the hurt, start forgiving yourself. Try to get out of the trauma your in now. I've been recovering from this for afew years now, and I've really learned a lot over the last year, a waterfall the last 6 months. Sorry if confussing or if I am out of line posting this. But work on you, what you are gong to do when it comes out, and don't wait for it to come out.. start doing it now. He will notice. I don't say nothing anymore, I call him on his BS, no more secrets. If there really isn't anything going on between them, you would be friends with her too. Ask her over for supper with her s/o and see where that goes..lol.

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  13. I'm failing at all of these listed!

    (Haven't visited your blog in a long time, but I posted my story about having two kids 2 and under and finding out about the affairs all during the end of my pregnancy and afterwards - just to recap)

    Since I have gotten wise words from you on a previous post, I've found in his old phone a text message from december. He had texted an old high school classmate (female), who was confiding in him about her relationship to his cousin, that he had cheated, talked to "other chicks," and that he kept all of his "dirt" private like she should hers. I was furious!!! First you're going to cheat endlessly, then after you are caught and we seek therapy, you're gloating about it?

    On top of that, the next day, I was moving files to the trash bin on my laptop (that he had passed down to me to use). I found a naked picture of him posing in his robe. Like really, dude? I kept that information and emailed the picture to myself. I asked him if he had been on chat sites or local porn sites again. He swore up and down he hadn't since last year (the picture was dated for March). Finally after two days of asking him if he was okay or going through something again, I showed him the picture. He crumbled again like he had many times before. *rolls eyes*

    We're seeing another therapist now that I don't like at all but he does. I'm ready to give up, honestly. i feel his demons are too big for me to keep up with. i think he is deeply troubled and it's causing me to grind my teeth at night, I scratch myself in my sleep, my hair is falling out, and I've gain weight. We've even physically hit each other.

    It's getting too expensive to pay for one therapist much less two therapists (one for me and one for him/both of us). I don't think he'll ever get better. And the support group for wives I went to was down right depressing. Reading your blog is A LOT more empowering than local support groups.

    Okay, I'm rambling now, I'll stop.

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    1. Andrea,

      I wonder if you should just focus on you for the time being...and let him focus on himself. From the sounds of it (scratching, hair falling out...), you're under extreme stress. And the best you can for yourself and your kids is to get that under control.
      At that point, you might be a lot clearer about staying/going and, at that point, you can assess whether he's been able to wrestle his demons under control or not.
      At this point, he's not being honest with you (or himself, likely), which makes it impossible to have a true marriage with him. He shouldn't be having conversations in which he's giving "cheating" advice, nor should he be posing nude. But I think you know that. :)
      Hang in there...and don't mess your head with thoughts of HIS demons. Focus on getting yourself to a place where you're sleeping, eating and exercising and able to be the best for your kids (and no more hitting each other. I'm sure you tell your kids that!!).
      You'll be okay...

      Elle

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  14. You are right Elle, he needs to heal himself. ANd I also keep telling myself that it was not me or it was not my fault esp. when he told me that maybe I am just depressed. Depressed?! that made my mind click and told myself, what is he a psychiatrist? Then I said, Damn you for making me feel this way but I will not accept that I am depressed. I am coping!!! Look around you, is the house messy? do the children know about what is happening in our relationship? No one knows and you know what's even painful, it hurt so much when no one knows your hurting and to have a husband who is sooooo insensitive of his wife's feeling. Thats when I told myself I cannot be put down the same person who have hurt me.

    The first thing I did was pampered myself. I went to my favourite health and beauty shop and bought all my favourite Weleda products in one go using his credit card. Its a bit expensive coz its organic but I just smiled. He knows that I uses those product but in one go..ha ha ha..I went to the oragnic shop bought the teas that would make me sleep well and incence, a lot of incence, specially the lavender smell..so sooothing.

    Then the following week, I went to my salon and asked her to do colour my hair. then bought the expensive shampoo..after the salon, my children and I went to the park , then I saw a lot of people running or jogging. I started to look at their outfit..then I said mmm I want that kind of shoes, shorts. Then I started jogging while my children are playing in the park or biking. then after 2 weeks I told my husband I am going buy a running shoes. He said ok. Then we went to a shoe clinic to make sure I have the proper shoes on. then choose the most newly design running shoes. Of course it was expensive. swipe again his card.

    Evreytime I finish a run I feel that I have accomplished something for myself. It was a great feeling. An accomplishment on my own without my husband, except of course my shoes..

    So hot mama's/wives, i suggest when pain strikes and you wanted to cry or scream, go out and take a walk or run as fast as you can, you won't be able to feel the pain as you are actually catching your breathe. Take small steps, you will never know how far you have gone.. Oh how i wish that I would get to see some of you personally that way I can run with you...

    and Yes you are right Elle, focus on your children. THINK that whatever happens when the children finds out ( if they have not , just like mine, you did not do the wrongdoings. If the children are still young and they wont understand what is going on, rest assured when they grow old, they will understand and still its not your fault.

    xx
    bravewife

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  15. so when did he finally "get it"? mine still doesn't after a year, and I'm sick of doing this healing crap all by myself

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    1. Hi Kris,
      What doesn't he get? Your pain? The depth of his betrayal? If he hasn't figured it out after a year, I'm not sure he will get it. At least not on his own. Tell me more...

      Elle

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  16. Yes, my pain, the depth of his betrayal and his unwillingness to talk and figure out why this happened. He is doing everything possible to repair, he's attentive, he has apologized, he says he regrets it, he's being affectionate and loving, but he won't discuss it with me. I am doing all the healing alone, blogs, research, BAN meetings, etc. He doesn't "get" what this has done to me, to us and that our lives will never be the same again. I have written letters that bare my heart and soul and get no reply except maybe "I'm sorry you feel that way", "I hate that this happened", but when I get down, like the other day I had to get out of work, we had a discussion, me and the girls at work, who know NOTHING about this, about affairs and the difference in the couples that get help, communicate well afterwards, heal together, other than the ones who don't and how many make it and how many don't. It scared me and I lost it and came home and bawled in his arms. I explained what we had discussed at work and he just said, "It's gonna be ok, I love you, breathe". Am I asking to much to try and see where his heart is now? Does he still have feelings for her? How can I move forward if I can't figure out the why and what will keep it from happening again, even though he says it won't, but I never thought in a million years it could happen in the first place!! He is just one of those men that can't express his feelings in words. Any thoughts?

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    1. Hi Kris,
      I feel your pain. Acutely. You're asking for what most of us need in the wake of such a trust violation – evidence that he truly "gets" the devastation he's caused and reassurance that he's taken steps to ensure he understands why he made the choice he did and therefore will make a different choice the next time.
      This is tough for most adulterers to face...but particularly for those who aren't great communicators in the first place. What's more, those who feel extreme guilt and shame often find that delving deeper into what they did is simply too uncomfortable for them. They prefer the "there, there..." approach to healing. Which simply doesn't move you forward, though it spares them the agony of truly facing the pain they created.
      You can't, of course, make him face it. You can, however, require that he seek counselling as a condition of your reconciliation. An ultimatum isn't to punish him or control him, it's to keep yourself safe and ensure that your needs are being met. He created this situation...if he wants to truly reconcile and help you heal, then he needs to expose himself to some uncomfortable truths.
      Are you two in counselling? Is he seeking any kind of therapy? We don't detonate the nuclear bomb of infidelity without there being a whole lot of "stuff" beneath the surface that somehow makes cheating seem like a good (or at least a not bad) idea.
      I'm dealing with this myself...five years down the road. My husband heard (possibly from this site) that five years is generally the outside timeline that healing occurs. So, in his logic, we're done, we're healed and we never have to speak of his transgressions ever again.
      Except that, sometimes, I need to. Sometimes, when I'm feeling insecure, or just wondering why he's on his computer so much, or exactly what might happen if... I need to talk to him about it. But, nope, we're done. It's over. No more talk about it. Which makes me feel alone in my pain and insecurity.
      None of this is easy. But it's easier if couples can truly be open to each other and allow themselves to understand each other's pain. Your husband is also in pain. I can't imagine feeling responsible for so badly betraying someone I loved. It's no doubt excruciating for him to face what he's done. But that doesn't mean he's let off the hook. He made the choice that you're dealing with. He needs to man up and learn whatever he needs to learn to ensure he doesn't ever make that choice again.
      Good luck. Hang in there...and keep us posted.

      Elle

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  17. We were in counseling, back in July and August, before the truth came out, so I think it did no good becaue he was still denying any physical involvement. It was one of the "requirements" if he decided to pick his family or HER. One that he quit that job, which he did, two that we go to counseling. We did, but like I said, it may have done no good except for him being a captive audience and hearing me out. When I ask him things or tell him I need to talk, he says he just wants to "forget it" and he doesn't want to talk about it. Wouldn't it be nice if we could forget it?? I bet they don't think about it daily or have triggers like we do! I wonder if we need to go back to our therapist? I have often thought if he could read my mind he might get it? So, I wonder if I let him read my journal, I kept one since dday April 8th 2011. Thoughts? Then maybe he could process it all and see what I was going through while he was having a good ol time? I don't know, I feel like I'm still in limbo and pretending to be ok and I'm not. I'm just putting on an act and one day I will explode! Thanks for your comments, I know we're all in unknown territory, but I don't know where I'd be without hearing others stories thru blogs and forums...just hate that there are so many of us! Any opinions would be appreciated!

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    1. Kris,
      "Forgetting it" simply isn't an option. It's wishful thinking. As some wise soul once said, you can't unring a bell.
      What's more, he doesn't get to dictate the terms of your healing. He created this – and if he expects to move forward with a wife who's able to heal from it – he needs to let you determine what you need. And he needs to do everything in his power to help you. You don't get to be abusive (and he's allowed to create his own boundaries, along the lines of "I can only listen to this for half-hour a day before I start to tune you out" or some such) but he doesn't get to say he wants to "forget it." At least not without jeopardizing his marriage more than it already is.
      Hang in there, Kris. And yes, I think any counselling while he was still lying was all but wasted. Time to start over with total transparency and honesty.

      Elle

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  18. agreed, thanks for your input. Hope to check back on with some good news soon!

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  19. Hi,

    It's been 12 weeks since the news of my husbands affair. Only a couple of my good friends know and they have been lovely-not judged, just wanting me to be well, happy and make the right decision for me and my children. It's our 5th wedding anniversary next week, god knows how I'm going to feel..!

    The affair is over, he seems to have switched it off in his head like a lightbulb! How can men do this? I want to be able to have this trick! Although as I have just this week turned to help from my doctor and a packet of anti depressants, and have a joint counselling session booked for next week-my husband is showing more signs of guilt, humiliation and embarrassment in the pain and additional stress he has brought into our what was a wonderful life! He is gutted at the mental torture he has caused. (to which I offer no sympathy and I am secretly pleased about!)
    This is all such an emotional rollercoaster and for a very busy working mum of two beautiful kids who has been coping with a husband working away from home close to 3 nights a week since march, I really didn't need this! He was weak, he had seen her 4-5 times all secretly whilst working away, she works for the same company, and thought he could get away with it...until her ex smacked him, bust his eye. I owe her ex a drink I think...it would have probably gone on if he hadnt of come along...! A huge wake up call for hubs now! The emotions were all faced with are enough to send us crackers...from reading some of your stories it really helps...I feel I want to work at this marriage that at the moment feels like we are just existing, tying to keep the family together!

    Thanks for taking the time to read this peeps! As you know, my thoughts and feelings may differ when I wake :-/

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    1. Hi Anonymous,
      Sorry you need to be here...but glad you found us.
      Yes, that "ex" deserves a huge round of applause from all of us (though I am a pacifist, it's incredibly satisfying to imagine a cheating husband getting a good smack in the head).
      And yes, "crackers" pretty much sums up how all of us feel in the wake of finding out.
      Twelve weeks is still really raw. Probably feels like a lifetime to you...but it's a long road back. Nonetheless, you've survived, which is a strong indicator that you'll continue to survive and slowly get past this. Joint counselling is a great idea -- in order for you to be heard and your husband to feel "safe" sharing his feelings around this whole thing (without worrying about you smacking him in the head). "Gutted" is a good thing. It's his brain's way of reminding him that cheating was a really bad idea.
      Hang in there. Breathe deeply and take this moment by moment. We're further along the path, ready to guide you along.

      Elle

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  20. Thank you for your website. I found out 4 weeks ago that my husband had "fallen in love" with a woman from work - except he is a commercial fisherman, and she was a scientist on his boat for a government chartered survey. Some days I'm okay - and other days, it feels like I found out that day, and I feel like my world is upside down. To top it off - I can't divorce him. We have custody of his kids, and their bio mom is a wreck. We only have custody because we're married - his job would preclude any judge from giving him custody. And if we divorce, the 4 lawyers I've talked to, say the kids will be lost. And now I'm stuck - I love my husband, but he doesn't seem to want to end his affair and just says "I love you, but I'm not in love you anymore". I have so many questions and he just says, "I don't know". I am confused, and hurt, and he doesn't seem to care. And I can't leave. I want to take a stand, but I don't know how without hurting the kids - who are amazing, have done nothing, and don't ever want to see their mother (who was extremely abusive). I want to save my marriage, kids issues aside - I love my husband, and I believe if he could just SEE what he was doing to me, to us, to this family, he would realize what a huge freaking mistake it is. But how do I wait for him to come to his senses? Do I just wait? I feel like I'm drowning, and I can't even see the sunlight anymore.

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    1. DB,
      I'm so so sorry for what you're going through. What a mess he's created. And I'm not surprised that you feel like you're drowning. In some ways, you are. Drowning in confusion, pain...and your desire to protect those children.
      I admire your commitment to those children. They are profoundly lucky to have you in their lives. But it certainly leaves you without much power to demand change from your husband. Or does it? Have you talked with a lawyer about your options? Would you ever be given custody? It shocks me that a judge would award custody to an abusive mother or the woman who has truly been their mother, especially when the children themselves don't want to live with their biological mother. So I would check into that situation a bit more deeply. And what if you and your husband separated, at least for the time being. It's impossible to have a healthy relationship when there's a third person in your marriage...which is what you have right now. Until he's willing to break off contact with her and at least agree to attempt reconciliation, there's no way to have a "marriage". Again, I'd contact a lawyer. And then, possibly, tell your husband that he can't live in the family home until he's broken off contact and will agree to some sort of counselling to determine why the hell he did this in the first place. If he truly "loves" you (whether or not he's "in love" or not), he will want to spare you further pain from his actions. And, by the way, the old "love but not in love" line is a common one and generally doesn't mean a damn thing. It means they like the excitement of a new relationship. Wouldn't we all!?! But most of us understand that long-term relationships evolve into a feeling of love...without the fireworks. It's something that a lot of people in affairs are trying to recapture...but any relationship inevitably loses some of its spark unless both partners are committed to working to keep it alive.
      In any case, look into your options with someone you trust and who can advise what's best for you and the children. What does your husband say about the kids? I fear he's taking advantage of your devotion to them to allow him his cake...and a stable homelife too.
      Please let me know how you make out. I'll be thinking of you and wishing you strength. But it's time for you to take back some of your power and start demanding that he treat you with respect and dignity...and that can only happen when you're not trapped.
      Elle

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  21. Hi.
    I just found out at the end of July that my husband of almost 8 years (we are 34 and 35) had had a 4 month long affair. Our story is a little strange. He is, or was in the military. We were stationed on the West coast for the past 4 years but last year he was about to get deployed and I decided to move home (east coast) while he was deployed as he was supposed to move duty stations after deployment. Well, during deployment we found out, after 15 years or service, the military decided they didn't need his service anymore (budget cuts, they discharged thousands of members honorably), no fault of his, he's had a perfect record in the military, no blemish so it was a big shock to us. This meant that me and the kids (we have two kids) were not going back so when he got back from deployment he would be living there back west alone for four months until he would get discharged. When he got this news he completely changed towards me, he stopped saying "I love you" when we talked on the phone, stopped writing "I love you" or "I miss you" at the end of his emails, he stopped writing the kids emails (they were 4 and 6). He magically "lost" his wedding ring also. Well he came home in July and he was not himself. We were of course happy to have him home but things were not right. Things hadn't been right for a LONG time. We had done nothing but fight when we talked on the phone, he found wrong with every little thing that I said etc. Well one day I was in the bathroom and his phone was on the counter and his facebook messages were open and a message was open and there I saw it. Not only that, the OW had started to blog about the affair AFTER they broke up and sent him the link of course.

    What he told me is that he had started to fall out of love with me a year ago but didn't know how to tell me. He thought that maybe one day he would fall back in love with me (and as I told him, did he think by having an affair that would happen!!). He found this woman on craigslist, she was married, thinking about divorcing her husband! yeah he knows how to pick them! He never meant for it to be this long of an affair, it was supposed to be a one night stand but it ended to be a relationship that he didnt' end until he left the west coast.

    This is not his first affair. He had a one night stand when I was pregnant with our daughter too but he came forward with that right after it happened as he was so shamed about it. He has had horrible addition to internet chatting and has emotionally cheated on me for years and I don't know if I can over come things. If it hadn't been for the kids I would have thrown him out that night in July but as they hadn't seen their dad in a year and just got him back I just couldn't!!

    We started couples therapy and we stayed with it for two months but then his new job took him to a remote location for the next five months (yes he is gone again) leaving me all alone again, and I can't help to think that he chose that job so he didn't have to deal with this.

    He is extremely remorseful, but I just don't know if it's enough. I'm just so tired of feeling alone and feeling so broken. He wants to work this out but why then do this in the first place if you want the marriage to work! Why break it if you wanted it to work?? Maybe things are still just too fresh and it doesn't help that he is not here to help me through all this but I'm seriously hating life right now.

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    1. M2CK,
      Yep, you've definitely got a lot to work through. Which is all but impossible without him there. Well...it's possible of course for you to get clear on what you need from him in order to even consider rebuilding the marriage.
      For starters, he needs to figure out why he was deliberately looking outside his marriage. And I think you need to make that a condition. If he won't work through his own stuff, there's no way you can ever trust that he won't go down that path again.
      While I sympathize that getting discharged for no real reason (and I know so many military people really view it as integral to their sense of self) must have dramatically affected his self-esteem, that doesn't make his behaviour okay.
      So...on to what you can control. Which is you.
      This is still really new but if you haven't already found an individual counsellor, priest, social worker, etc. that can help you sift through everything that's happened, please do. You've got two young kids to whom you've been both mom and dad for much of their lives. They need you at your best...and you need to figure out what you want your marriage to look like. And then insist on it from him.
      There's very little evidence that a marriage can truly heal from an affair without both spouses working through the whole thing. Relationships in which it's pushed aside or let drop after promises of "never again" often feel hollow. A "trust violation" is one of the most emotionally devastating things that can happen. And though you sound prepared to forgive (you already forgave an earlier one-night-stand), I would advise you to be less so. Trust needs to be earned...especially after he's revealed himself as untrustworthy.
      Why did you forgive his earlier indiscretion? What did you learn from that? What did HE learn from that?
      As Dr. Phil often says, we teach people how to treat us. You need to figure out what you're teaching him. And start teaching him that you deserve respect and love and dignity and kindness and absolute honesty and fidelity. And that you'll settle for nothing less.
      Elle

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  22. Hello
    I have to say this is a helpful blog:)

    I have been married for almost 10 years (no kids) and have found that my husband has had several affairs. I forgave him for them all as he begged and pleaded with me to stay and that he would change.

    I most recently found out that he had a two year affair with a woman he met overseas. She lived overseas and during the last year of our marriage had actually moved three hours away from where we lived! Throughout the affair, he continued our relationship as normal and like nothing was wrong! He continued to tell me how much he loved me and how wonderful I was.

    Three months ago, I actually found an email between the two of them. So, I emailed her to let her know that I knew. She replied back "I knew he was married the whole time." Amongst her email, she also continued to tell me how all he talked about was how horrible of a wife I was, how ugly I was, and how he couldn't stop talking about leaving me .

    That night I confronted my husband about the affair and this was the first time I had ever heard him really confess and sound genuinely apologetic. However, he had so many lies going on that he couldn't tell me exact answers like where and how they met and how many times he met up with her. Only after investigating did I find out the exact truth and he seems to still get tangled in his own lies. He said that he had ended it about 6 months ago but he continued to be friends with her because she always threatened to tell me. He is continuously trying to convince me she is crazy.

    He has told me over the last three months...how he wants to start something new and how he has "changed" but I do not believe that a person can change in three months . He also continues to tell me how much he loves me and how he has grown out of his childish behavior and knows what he wants now. I can not believe this because we have been married for over ten years and it has not changed. Also, how can a husband speak so terrible about their wife to their mistress but then come home and tell the wife how amazing they are?

    This past week I received a package at my work from the mistress (3 months after her email) . The package included photos of them ( not many) , nude photos he sent her, texts , and emails between the two of them. The mistress also included a 6 page letter she wrote to me. It was amazing how much she knew about me ....some it true but most of it not true. A lot of information in the letter were horrible lies that my husband told her about me and information that even a few of his friends knew about her.

    Needless to say, I have filed a stalking/harassment charge on her and will be going to a court hearing very soon. Even though my lawyer says there is not enough evidence for it to truly stick, I feel somewhat relieved to know that she was served papers to appear in court. I also feel relieved to know that she knows I am serious about leaving me/ us alone.

    On top of all of this, my husband moved overseas a week ago. Originally, I had planned on meeting him in January but I have fallen into a black hole since this packaged arrived. I feel extremely depressed, angry, and lost. He does call me three to four times everyday to tell me he loves me and begging and pleading for me to stay.

    He can never tell me the reason he did it or even felt the reason to do it. When I confront him about the terrible things he said about me, he says that it was not who he is.

    I try to forgive and try but every time I see his face that is all I think of........please help!

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    1. Anon,
      Your situation sounds excruciating...but sadly not uncommon. Though he might have taken his bad behaviour to the extreme, what he's done is pretty standard for men who cheat.
      He can't tell you what he did it because he doesn't have a clue. On the surface, he did it because he could, because sex feels good, because thinking somebody loves us feels good...but that, of course, isn't the real reason because he was likely getting that at home. The real reason is far more likely along the lines of fear and shame. We don't treat others like garbage unless, on some level, we think we're garbage. Counter-intuitive, I know. But true. But that's all stuff for HIM to sort out. What YOU need to know is get yourself figured out -- what you want to do with everything you now know, and whether you're willing to give him the time to get himself truly sorted out. You're right that nobody magically changes in three months. Though this might have been the wakeup call he needed, he still needs to dig deeper to determine what thought process allowed him to keep up this charade, betray you with words as well as actions, and how to ensure he's emotionally equipped to stop himself from doing it again.
      The best way to do that is with an individual counsellor/therapist. There's some reason you forgave him the first time, without really seeing a genuine acknowledgement of the pain it caused you. So use this time to get clear on that. You deserve to be treated with respect...but it starts with YOU treating yourself with respect.
      Don't try to forgive at this point -- that's for farther down the road.
      Keep reading, find yourself someone to help you through this (we're here...but a professional is recommended) and begin the long process of healing.
      Elle

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    2. And btw, kudos to you for taking on that crazy woman. She truly does sound nuts and it's wonderful that you've responded firmly and sanely, without resorting to her low-down nastiness.
      You're an inspiration. And you will get through this, I promise.

      Elle

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  23. I still don't understand how a man can say he love's u, when he cheated on u, lied, cause u soo much pain through ur first pregnancy of their only child. And leave u all alone, when u need their support and love the most, to go and sleep with the OW. A day after u give birth to their first child! I still don't understand till this day, what kind of person does this to the person they marry, who they promise to be there "through sickness and health". And barely having a year of being married. I thought if someone loves u they do not hurt u, that they at least try and do not give up! How could they say "I love you", after doing so much damage to your soul. Could u help me understand? I'm trying to save my marriage, but I still have doubts about his love for me. I would tell my story but I would not know where to start at.

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    1. Anonymous,
      I'm sorry you've had to find us...but glad you did find us.
      So many of us have been where you are – desperately trying to make sense of crazy. And we didn't succeed. And you won't succeed either. Your husband made choices that you wouldn't make. He rationalized things to himself that to you are impossible to rationalize. He compartmentalized feelings that to you are impossible to compartmentalize.
      I would suggest to you that you're asking the wrong questions. Instead of asking how he could do this, ask whether, knowing he is somehow broken inside, you can give him the chance to become a better man. Ask whether he's willing to do the hard work of understanding HIMSELF in order to ensure that he doesn't make those same choices again. If the answer is yes, then put your attempts to understand away for a later date. If both of you are willing to really be open and honest about your own brokenness, you can heal your marriage together -- and the answers will become clear.
      It's not easy....but it is possible.

      As for your story, the best place to start is wherever you want to. We'll listen.

      Elle

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  24. This article is a Godsend to know that I am not alone. However , my story is a bit extreme. I have been with my husband for 18 years since I was 17 and he was 21. Shortly after we got married in 2004 I found out he had an affair that resulted in a child. at the same time, my mom died and I was pregnant. needless to say I was on an emotional roller coaster. I wanted to forgive him, hate him, keep him, get rid of im. you name it I felt it. I have broken things, attacked him, name called, cried, changed locks. but I just could not heal. he did everything...got a vasectomy, stayed home, accounted for his whereabouts, begged, pleaded and I was just so hurt.. I ended up cheating, looking to feel better. he forgave ne bcuz it was a one night stand but then I did it again. he kept being suspicious saying that I had emotionally checked out of the marriage and I had. subsequently, he's in the midst of a midlife cris, I lost my job, funfsc are tight, he hates his 15 he a day job and he meets someone. Now he's cheating again and questioning our marriage.. to say I've been scared straight is an understatement bcuz I never thought he would ever consider leaving. I'm desperate to save my marriage. we have four beautiful daughters who he and I both adore. he seems so torn in believing that our marriage can't be healed and he's livery about ending the affair. he cries often...we have a great sex life, enjoy each others company, but maybe just never got to experience life without each other. do I let him go, to see if he,will come back? Do I stay and fight. for my marriage. I will not compete though. I have been reading The Divorce Remedy and working on myself but my emotions still manage to get the best of me. Don't judge but please advise. everything I hold near and dear is on the line. PS...ladies payback cheating is not worth it...EVER!!!!

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    1. Charlotte,
      No judgement! I'm sorry you find yourself in such a horrible place. I think most of us can relate to feeling tempted to cheat ourselves, to convince ourselves that we're still desirable. To "get even". To feel alive again. Basically all the reasons that men cheat. But, as you've discovered, it doesn't work. Relying on someone/something outside ourselves to feel good on the inside can't last and generally causes a whole lot more suffering to all involved.
      I can understand your husband feeling like there's too much water under the bridge. He got his wakeup call and mended his ways (at least for a while...and now you'd like him to give you the same option.
      I think at this point it's crucial that each of you get clear on what your issues are that you've both looked outside your marriage for what, clearly, you're not giving each other within it. I don't think your marriage stands a chance until both of you do a whole lot of hard work. That you have four daughters who would likely love their parents to rebuild a marriage is certainly incentive to at least put a divorce on the back burner. But obviously your husband has to agree.
      For now, I think you need to get yourself into counselling (if you're not already) and do some serious work on your issues. I also think you need to come clean with your husband,
      offer up a genuine apology, tell him you're committed to rebuilding your marriage and you would like him to do the same but that you understand if he can't.
      As my good friend forever reminds me, all we can do is keep our side of the street clean...and leave others to tend to their own. Amazingly, when we do our part and stop trying to control the other side, life becomes much easier.
      That's the best advice I can give from the info you provided. Work on yourself, ask him to do the same (at the very least it will help you have a friendlier divorce, which is best for your kids) and then focus on being the woman you want to be.
      Hang in there, Charlotte. We've all made mistakes. The key is taking responsibility for them and moving forward with integrity.

      Elle

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  25. I read some of the other responses here, but then skipped down because I just needed to get something off my chest. This past June I had my "D-day"...a day that I thought I would NEVER encounter with my best friend, my one and only (as I was pregnant with my 3rd!). We are trying to heal, have both made some changes. On a day like today though I start having moments where I question if I'm really what he wants (though he tells me I am and that what happened wasn't the right way for him to deal with what he fealt and that he has cut off contact on his own doing). Yet I still question why...why her? why did he not love me? why did he do this? So then I start searching for other people who have been in the same boat and never asked to be to find the strength to put those thoughts aside and focus on the work we have done and have yet to do. So thankyou from the bottom of my healing heart for sharing your thoughts...

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  26. You state in your article - stay away from the OW. My stress is almost never gone. The OW is a co-worker of mine, for which I must have regular communication every day! We both need our jobs (she is single due husbands suicide, which is how they got cozy. I was stupid and offered my RETIRED husbands help with repairs and moving, (as did I), when she lost her home as a result of losing her husband. She had to move in to a run down house). I was betrayed by someone I was trying to help and my husband at the same time. The "electronic affair" started about 2 yrs after the death of the husband. I found the "phone". He said they have had this relationship for about a year (but I have had a feeling something wasn't right longer then that) Yes I did say, Electronic, both claimed it never went full blown physical. (He tells me she pursued him but he would stop her knowing it was wrong. (but wasn't wrong to sextext or make out?) She is a bit trashy and I heard rumors (after) this happened that she may have had an affair years before her husbands death. Anyways, He called her and ended it on D-day. He has told me and our therapist he F## up, over and over since D-day. We are in couples counseling (we started a week after I found the phone). I do believe he believes he messed up and wants to be with me, but a part of me won't let me totally 100% trust and believe him. SO many lies for so long. It is really hard, expecially having to work with OW every day. BTW I read the Text's and they were pretty vivid. She acts like nothing happened. I will not speak to her other then business related, keeping it short and to the point. I want to save the marriage as does he. How do I move on when I see the OW every day? (I work in an office of a very small company - total of 6 employees. We all work together. There isn't another department within this Company I can go to avoid her. And, I have worked here 37 years, she has been her about 25 years.) Our therapist is good - but the therapy is about US. At home, when my husband and I talk about our therapy, I seem to move the conversation about the OW! I say thing, like; Has she contacted you? Does her Son know? Did she wear that ridiculous tight mini for you, did you like it? (It is like I can't help myself ask how he "FELT' when with her). How do I change my thoughts?

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  27. I am the cheating husband, and you are right it wasn't her it was me. I love my wife. I have been an addict since I can remember. My wife is done with me. I want to see myself healed and hopefully our marriage healed. Nonetheless, I have to fix myself and be a better example to my 20 and 14 year old boys. I'm a punk. Yet I DO love my wife.

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  28. Wife Who Works with the OW,
    I wrote a reply but for some reason it didn't post. Sorry. Having trouble with my site.
    You're in a really tough situation and I'm sorry you have a daily reminder of your husband's betrayal. What I'm hoping you can see is the pain you're creating for yourself at this point. He's done. And yes what he did was terrible. But now you're doing it to yourself.
    It will take Herculean self-control on your part to move past this with the OW constantly around.
    Is there any way you can find another job? Any chance that she might move on?
    In the meantime, there are some thought-control exercises -- snapping an elastic on your wrist whenever you find yourself (mentally) going down that well-worn path, picturing a huge STOP sign when your thoughts stray to what they did, etc.
    Have you asked your therapist what you might do? Have you considered EMDR, which replaces horrible memories with "safer" ones? Does anyone else have any ideas of what might have worked for them?
    I think you and your husband need to get on the same "team" around this. It might help if he allows you to come home and talk about the stupid things she said that day and you can laugh about it (not perhaps the most enlightened approach but might work).
    For years I had trouble with my husband's mother -- I felt incredibly judged by her and hated being around her. My husband would defend her which only made me feel so alone rather than "protected" by him. Finally my husband switched it up. Because this woman also criticized our kids, one time on our way to visit her my husband created a "contest": whoever has the nastiest criticism from "Grandma" gets to pick the restaurant we eat at on our way home. What had been a dreaded trip became a game. Each of us WANTED to be the one she most insulted. I couldn't believe what a difference it made. Could you do something similar? On really bad days you get taken out to dinner? Or your husband rubs your feet?
    Let me know how you're getting on. And please know how sorry we are for what you're still going through.

    Elle

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  29. Dear Cheating Husband,
    It takes a brave man to wade into the unfriendly waters on this site. And braver still to be so honest about your mistakes and your desire to become a better man.
    I wish you nothing but the best in your healing. I hope you can save your marriage. But if not, whomever you choose to love next will be the luckier for your lessons.

    Elle

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  30. Thanks Elle, if someone would have told me several years ago that I was gonna have multiple affairs I would have said they are crazy! But here I am...... exposed, again. I can't go into detail why this was my huge slap to being sober.. But it was a huge slap. All I know to really do now is serve my wife, love my kids and own the consequences of my repeatedly stupid choices. I just wanna grow old with my wife (of almost 24 years) have grandchildren and be best friends with her again .

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    1. That's a common refrain – that nobody thinks they'll be the one to cheat. I'm glad you're sober and I hope you'll fight like hell to stay that way. As a child of an alcoholic (my mom), I felt first-hand the pain it creates. She'd been sober 25 years when she died...and I know she regretted those years of drinking. But she managed to live life looking forward, having made amends.

      Elle

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    2. One more thing...would you consider answering a Q and A on this blog? So often, we wives are utterly baffled by what goes through men's brains when they're cheating -- what they're saying to themselves to excuse their behaviour, what it doesn't have anything to do with their wives, why they lie when they get caught... It would go a long way toward helping many women if they had a sort of "insider's" view. Let me know what you think.

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  31. Thanks for asking me for a q&a. However, to be brutally honest I don't know if I am ready for that. I am a con and a master minipulator. At this point I still have to white knuckle through positive choices. I would not want to create a stumbling block for myself or fight minipulate anyone who visits this blog... In other words use my honest feedback to flirt. Sounds crazy, but it's true.

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    1. Wow. You ARE honest. Thank-you for that. I appreciate you being so frank. If you ever do think you're ready please let me know. And thanks again for weighing in. My husband has gone through treatment for sex addiction and I know he's struggled with much the same as you.
      Best of luck with your recovery/sobriety.

      Elle

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    2. Elle,
      I have been reading this blog and the way you describe your pain after D-day sounds so parallel to mine. I have so much to say but I want to jump on your request to get a mans point of view. I have the opportunity to have a coworker/kinda friend that cheated on his wife and is going through a divorce. I spent almost two years listening to him be sorry for himself saying that his wife wanted to divorce him and i gave him tips on how to win her back. Then I come to find out she was divorcing him because he had multiple affairs. My advice would have been totally different if I would have known that. To get to my point I have been able to ask this guy questions. One of the things that helped me was when I kept saying why would my husband cheat on me when he knew the consequences and how can I believe him now when all of a sudden I am the best thing that ever happened to him and it will never happen again. I am the same person I was when he was cheating. This guy responded by saying he really didn't dwell on the consequences or think about them while he was having the affairs. He was so focused on not getting caught and finding more women that he didn't stop to think about the damage he was causing. He also said after everything that has happened he realized the short periods of happiness he thought he was having was not worth losing the lifetime relationship he wanted with his wife. She has since divorced him and moved on. He dates but always insists if she would take him back he would be so happy. I ask him if he thinks he will ever cheat again after going though everything and he honestly tells me he would like to think he won't but once you cross that line it gets easier to do it again and he feels like if he was able to come to his wife and say I think this woman is coming on to me so she can help him fight the "Habit" he can be successful. Those are just a few insights I felt like sharing in case it helps someone else trying to make sense of the pain they are feeling. I really appreciate and think my husband is lucky I can hear a mans perspective.

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    3. Shel,

      Yes, I think a lot of us experience very similar emotions in the wake of discovering a partner's betrayal. Which is why I think it's so important to share our stories, to remind each other that we're not alone in our pain.
      You've clearly had a front-row seat for another's pain as well. And yes, much of what this other guy says sounds so familiar. Most men report that they focus on the moment, not the consequences. They're masters at compartmentalization. He sounds very much like a sex addict -- focussed on the chase and that feeling of "high".
      I often note here, and it sounds counter-intuitive, but a spouse's affair has little to do with the wife (generally speaking). It's far more often about their own feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, fear, anxiety. But that's hard to understand -- we too often think it's about US not being enough.
      Nothing about this is easy. But thanks for sharing your "insider's" wisdom. :)

      Elle

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  32. Elle I will say this, the worst thing the one cheated on could do is NOT ASK QUESTIONS. I want her to ask me how I am doing. By not doing so she will internalize her thoughts and then her cycle of thoughts will loop again. Ask me the hard questions, cuss me, just so something! Silence can be deadly for us at times. Don't just be busy to be busy. At least reach out to a friend.

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    1. I absolutely agree. But I hear a lot from women whose husbands won't answer. Who say that, by asking questions, their wives are "dwelling on the past". Who just want to sweep it under the rug, have their wives accept that they've "changed", and move forward.
      What so many men don't understand is that the questions won't last forever. It's a way of processing this shocking revelation, not punishing their husbands.
      Elle

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    2. Hello Elle, well here I am a little over a year and a half later. My wife and I are still together. Here is an update since the last time I posted here.

      * I have been in a new career for a little over a year (first new job in 13 years)
      * My wife has gone through several jobs in her profession. The counselor diagnosed her with PTSD,
      * Our home was foreclosed on.
      * My mother has passed.

      I still have to face my personal addiction EVERYDAY and deal with it with the help of close friends. She still struggles and rightfully so. I do wonder at times if she/me are so codependent, if that is the reason we are still together. We don't fight a lot, yet we don't discuss the past a lot either. One thing I do is try to be transparent with my emotions. I worrie about her at times because she shrinks back into her shell and does not open up to her friends. There is not a woman in the world who could be "God's little sister" like my wife. She is caring, thoughtful, a great mom, etc.. yet more days than not she is depressed. I pray that she is not just staying to be staying. My desire is that we can become best friends again as we are a couple of years away of becoming "empty nesters". I know that the hurt will never just go away, but as we continue to grow older together I hope that becoming best friends along with being husband and wife, will soon over shadow the dark past that i brought into her life.

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    3. Anon,
      I hope that for you both too. A year-and-a-half isn't so long. But I hope she's taking steps to deal with her emotions. Depression, untreated, can get worse until she hardly remembers the possibility that she doesn't have to feel so down. Is she in counselling? Has she ever taken anything for her depression? Does she believe that things are better or is she just biding her time?
      Are you two in couples counselling? It sounds as if there are things that you need to talk about. You don't want to create a situation where you're forever going over what happened...but it is important to ensure that each of you feels that the relationship is growing stronger and that you have optimism about the future. Couples counselling might be the place where you can discuss this stuff regularly with an open-minded, objective third party.
      I'm sorry for all you've had to deal with in the past 1 1/2 years. But I admire your resolve and your desire to grow from this. That's the best any of us can ever do.

      Elle

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  33. Elle, I'm trying to cope with my situation which is a bit different. Two days ago I found out that my husband bought VERY expensive jewelry twice during the past year, for a co-worker who works with him but not in his office. He didn't confess that to me, I came across a receipt and was stunned to see the dollar amount (almost $2000). I knew that it wasn't for me so I asked him about it. I think he would have lied but since I had seen the receipt, he couldn't. I say that he would have lied because in the middle of the year we got a note from another jewelry store, thanking him for his purchase and they hoped she'd like the gift. Well, again the gift wasn't for me and when I asked him about that, he was so convincing that it had to be a mix-up. He even told me about calling them a couple of days later to correct it.

    After that incident I wondered, but I really believed (or wanted to believe) that my husband was faithful...until I saw this other receipt.

    He didn't really volunteer much, just said that it was nothing, she means nothing, he loves me and wants our marriage and no other woman than me, it was just a flirtation on his part that wasn't reciprocated. She accepted the gift earlier in the year but (according to him) didn't want to accept the Christmas gift but finally did. I actually think he's telling the truth (that she wasn't a party to this) because how many men would want to admit that the woman they liked, wasn't excited over their gift? He said that when it happened he realized he'd made a mistake and he felt bad for making her feel awkward (isn't that so considerate?? How kind of him to worry about her feelings, screw his loyal wife at home.)

    Anyway, I asked him a lot of questions but then it was clear that he wanted me to shut it down. He's acting like everything is fine and I shouldn't be bothered and I shouldn't want to talk about it any more. When I confronted him he did say he was sorry because he thought I would never find out, and he had never wanted to cause me the pain he was seeing on my face--and I think he was being truthful in those statements. I'm heartbroken because I still feel cheated on because he wanted a relationship with this other woman. I guess I'm glad that they didn't date or have sex but it still hurts so much that he was actively pursuing her.

    Since they didn't have an affair (and other than accepting the gifts, she didn't do anything as far as I know), how do I move forward from this pain? Am I overreacting by feeling crushed and wounded and totally betrayed? He says nothing more will happen...but how do you trust a man after he has proven that he can lie to your face? Do you just make a conscious decision and do your best to stick to it?

    Any advice you could give would be appreciated. Thank you.

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    1. Anonymous,

      Regardless of whether he did or did not have sex, there was still a betrayal of trust, which is generally the most excruciating part of the experience. So no, you're not over-reacting at all. He lied to your face about the first purchase and continued to lie, then did it again. He's lost the option of sweeping it under the rug by being dishonest. And his assurances that "nothing more will happen" are based on what? Why should you trust him now? That's what he needs to explain.
      I'm going to gently suggest that you brace yourself for more. In my experience, men who cheat only give up the information they have to -- what their wives have proof of. Nothing more. It's only with digging or demanding that most wives actually find out anything close to the whole story. I hope that he's given you the whole story...but I wouldn't bet on it.
      You're completely within your rights to demand that this is something that needs to be discussed. As often and as long as you feel the need to. When someone violates your trust, it can take a long time to regain. And the only way to regain is to understand why he pursued this woman in the first place (whatever her response was doesn't change the fact that he pursued her), what made him look outside his marriage, what does he feel is missing. This is NOT to blame you...and please don't fall into the trap of thinking that there's something wrong with you or the marriage. It's simply to understand what he's telling himself in order to allow himself to do what he knows is wrong. And then lie to you about what he's doing.
      I think marriage counselling is a good idea – again not to punish him or blame you, but to examine the marriage, this betrayal and what you both want going forward.
      I know plenty of wives who would contact the Other Woman and ask her exactly what was going on. You might get the truth that way; you might not. Have you checked his cell phone? His e-mail records? He's lost all right to privacy by lying. If he truly wants to earn back your trust, he'll do so by being totally transparent at all times so you can ensure that what he says he's doing/not doing is the truth.
      Hang in there. I hope the worst is over for you.
      And please let us know how you're doing. Your primary task right now is to respect your feelings of betrayal.

      Elle

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  34. Elle, thanks very much for your answers. After the letter from the first jewelry store I started checking his computer without him knowing it. Other than tons of internet porn (which sadly was no surprise but over time I'd tried to reconcile myself to that, he wouldn't change even though I asked him to quit it), there wasn't much else. He joined a cheating website but never went past registering on it (didn't fill out the profile, no messages to anybody etc). I know that once in awhile when he's on business trips he goes to strip clubs with his colleagues and gets lap dances (another source of contention...to me that's cheating, to him it's not)..that's why I looked in his wallet (when I found the receipt), I was wondering if he'd been to one on his trip the day before.

    I can't access his cell phone because it's work-issued and password protected. Believe me, if I could I would. As you can imagine, the lack of openness makes me doubt him. And, when I read what I've written it verifies (which I already knew) that he disrespects me in multiple ways. Why have I put up with it? Stay at home mom past middle age; if we divorce now I'll spend the rest of my life living near poverty level while he wouldn't be impacted much. And, as pathetic as I feel admitting it, I still love the scumbag and would like to have both of us work to make it a better marriage. Right now he's being really nice to me but instead of feeling happy about it I just feel like it's just his guilty conscience.

    I do think marriage counseling would be a good idea, to find out why he felt the need to look outside our marriage. When I asked him why he did it he said he thought it would be fun. I think what he means is that he's a boring person with few interests. He's always been a risk taker and I think he's the stereotypical mid-life crisis guy looking for some excitement. Well the bastard got it didn't he, I'm sure his heart rate went up when I told him I'd found the receipt. Just by the look on his face he knew he was busted and there was no way to lie his way out of it.

    Clearly I have boatloads of anger right now. I don't want to say anything in the next few days so that he can't accuse me of hounding him...but I do think that in the next 2 or 3 weeks I'll ask to sit down with him, assess where we're at and tell him I think we should go to counseling. Does that sound reasonable (i.e. I'm not being too wimpy?)

    I'd like to think that this is a wakeup call for him...but for now that's just a wish, I have no confidence in him. Again, thanks for your thoughts, I'll read them over multiple times and think about it all. Right now my brain seems to be functioning on half-speed.

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    1. It sounds as if perhaps you did catch him before it went any further than it already has (though, for the record, I also think a lap dance is "cheating" if it violates your own boundaries). And that, I think, is the elephant in your relationship -- that he disrespects your boundaries and you let him.
      You sound a lot like me...and unfortunately that's not a compliment. Like you, I hate to rock the boat. Like you, I just want everyone to be happy. And I suspect that like you, I put my own needs/wants last. Thing is, as I've learned the hard way, we're simply teaching others what they can do to us.
      It's certainly not too late to change the rules. In fact, this is the perfect time to do so. Don't underestimate his feelings for you. All of this nuttiness around lap dances/jewellery buying doesn't change that he very likely loves you very much. What it DOES is shift the balance of power to you for a change.
      I've no doubt you're furious...and get ready to be a whole lot angrier. Anger can be power as long as you control it and use it to fuel your demands for respect and consideration.
      In the meantime, draw up your own wish list. What you'd like your marriage to really look like including what is and isn't "okay" with you. My own list includes anything that he wouldn't be comfortable doing in front of me, he shouldn't be doing at all.
      Then make an appointment with a counsellor. He can either join you in rebuilding a marriage that makes both of you happy and fulfills you...or you can go alone and learn how to treat yourself with respect. I'd present it as his chance to start making reparations for the pain he's caused. Don't fall for any attempts on his part to minimize what he's done as "I've only..." or "I was just looking..." or whatever. What he did was violate your trust. And that's painful from someone we love. This is his chance to begin helping you heal...and in the process create a better marriage.
      You can't, of course, make him do it. But you can certainly take steps to create a marriage in which you feel respected...if only by yourself. Often our husbands have little choice but to start following the new rules.

      Good luck. And keep us posted.

      Elle

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  35. Elle, what you're saying just completely resonates, especially the parts about not wanting to rock the boat, wanting to make everybody happy, letting him disrespect me, and putting myself last. And you're right, I'm seeing that by being almost too nice, I've taught him that it was ok to take me for granted.

    After I read what you wrote, I went ahead and talked to him...and I was so surprised. I thought he'd get angry at me for asking more questions but he didn't. I explained that I was trying to make sense of it all, and truthful answers would help me to rebuild my trust in him. He actually seemed to understand that and he answered everything I could think to ask. He said that he honestly doesn't understand why he did it, that's something he has to figure out in terms of what is wrong with himself. He said that he told himself it was just a friendship but that he knew it was wrong--and that he was relieved that I found out because it shut it down. I also told him that I'd try not to nag but if I needed to ask more questions he had to accept that, and he agreed (again, I didn't expect that response, I had thought he'd be resentful. The fact that he wasn't makes me think that now he really is being sincere.) Frankly I was floored because I never thought he'd be so willing to listen to my point of view. I've spent so many years trying to think how I could be a better wife, but now I told him that I would continue to try to be a great wife but he also needed to think about what he can do to make me happy and to be a good husband--and he agreed!

    Based on our conversation, I finally feel--I mean really feel--that he's getting what he has done and how it has hurt me so deeply. I also think that he genuinely wants us to have a good and lifelong marriage. I think we'd both taken each other for granted for quite awhile and now we both want to do whatever work is necessary, to be happy together.

    If you'd told me yesterday that I'd have that conversation 24 hours later, I would have said no way. I'm not saying that now things are magically perfect, just that because he was real with me and was sincerely regretful, I have more hope than I have had in years and years. In a bizarre way, is it even possible for a marriage to be better after a kind of affair? (I say kind of because if she had reciprocated or if there had been sexual contact of any kind, I'd probably still be at a peel-the-paint-off-the-walls anger level.) Because, after this latest conversation I can envision, down the road and with a lot of work, us having a much better marriage in the end.

    Thank you for your words of wisdom. I'll follow up after some time has passed, to let you know whether we've managed to work our way to something better. Just reading the posts on your blog, gave me confidence to expect better treatment for myself, so thank you so much! I'm sure I'll have many difficult emotions in the days and weeks to come--but for the first time, I also have hope.

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    1. That's wonderful. It IS possible to have a better marriage after an affair if both partners use it as a wake-up call and rebuild with compassion and mutual respect. I hope you'll continue to insist on being treated with respect...and create a new "normal" in your marriage where your needs are as important as his.

      Elle

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  36. Elle,
    Do you or anyone else on this site have any advice for me on how to handle the flashbacks. A few weeks after D-Day I got mostly full disclosure. I will never be naive to believe he told me all the truth and some of his answers hurt so bad I was careful what I asked. It has been exactly 5 months now...I know because my D Day was two days before I gave birth to my second child. My husband works out of state and I feel like a memory or flash back will go through my mind and put me right back in that place of hurt. I considered going to see a counselor but I fear sitting in that office and rehashing all that pain by describing the issue. Right now I go back and forth with wanting a divorce or waiting to see how things pan out. My husband has made some changes and I know he believes he will never do it again but I don't dare let myself believe that again. I am basically a single mom 8 months out of the year of a two year old and 5 month old working full time with no family or friends within 5 hours of me. It's hard to do it alone. My husband has offered to quit his job and find work here but we would hurt badly financially and I think he would resent me for asking that. I truly don't believe him working local will give him less opportunity to cheat. I am willing to consider moving forward but everyday sometimes many times a day I have flashbacks and feel hurt all over again. Any tips to ease the pain. Can't say wine because I am nursing the baby. :)

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    1. Shel,
      I'm so sorry you're still having those flashbacks, but frankly I'm not surprised. It can take a LONG time, which is why most experts recommend not making any big decisions for six months to a year out from D-Day.
      I wonder if part of the problem is your fear of fully experiencing the pain you felt upon discovery. I learned the hard way that the only way past the pain is through it. You can't go around it, under it, over it... You have to allow yourself to feel it until you're "done" with it. You'll realize, by doing this, that it hurts for sure...but it doesn't kill you. It doesn't cripple you. It hurts...and then slowly it hurts less and less. Eventually the time comes when it hurts just a little. But avoiding it allows it to loom so large in your life that it becomes terrifying. You can also try timing your "pain". Allow yourself to think about it and feel it and cry/scream/whatever for a certain period of time, say 10 minutes. Set an alarm or something. At the end of the 10 minutes, have a set activity -- either you leave the house to meet a friend for coffee. Or you allow yourself to go online shopping for a book or pair of shoes. Anything to break the focus. Then do the same the next day...but just for 10 minutes. It can help you move through it without feeling like it's going to swallow you whole.
      I would recommend going to a counsellor. He/she can also help you break the pain into manageable pieces by giving you a set time each week to hash it out.
      In the meantime, figure out what you really need from him. It sounds as if you don't really need him to move closer for now...but what DO you need. Him to check in? Be available any time YOU check in via text/phone/e-mail? Write you a letter a day outlining his own feelings? You're right in that cheating can take place anywhere. That said, ask him if HE feels sure that he can be trusted when he's not right under your nose. Does he need something in place to pull him back if he feels tempted. By working together on both of your triggers, you might feel more like a team. And that ultimately is the goal -- to put the two of you back on the same side.
      Perhaps others will weigh in with their ideas.
      Hang in there. Five months out might seem like an eternity but it's really not. It took me a full five YEARS before I felt as if I had really come out the other side. And even now I struggle now and again.

      Elle

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    2. Step 9: Made direct amendes to such people whenever possible;(and this is the part that people forget about but is the most important) EXCEPT WHEN TO DO SO WOULD INJUR THEM OR OTHERS.

      Of course the need to do the ones before this once and 4 is where they do a searching and fearless moral inventory or themselves.

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  37. Here it goes! I have been married for 18 years. I cannot say they have been the best years but I have three beautiful children 19, 18 and 16. My husband and I have been rocky to say the least. I have put my job first for the last several years because it was our bread and butter. Memorial Day Weekend of 2012 I called him while he was at a party with his brother and thought I heard a girl in the background say shhh and baby. I had ALWAYS trusted my husband and I would allow him to go out with his friends etc. I always told him at any point I had doubt I would tell him and I did that next morning. We had been fighting alot prior to this and maybe it was my way of putting up a wall I am not sure but it definately backfired. I did not believe him when he told me it was his brothers girlfriend and for the next three weeks I ignored him and asked him to leave. He begged me to go out to dinner and I refused. Deep down I think I used this as an excuse for an out to my rocky marriage. I finally asked him to move out once he was seen at a fast food restaurant with another girl (his brothers girlfriends friend) which he denied. Again, he would never lie to me before. His grandmother passed away a couple weeks later and I began talking to him again. He was at this point living with his brother and his brothers girlfriend (only place he could go) and apparently this girl moved in shortly after. He swear to me that nothing was going on and begged to come home. I told him that he was not moving from my house in with her and then back to me. I was truly stubborn and was so busy with my own job that I thought I didn't need him. The only thing we ever argued about over the summer was her. We went on trips and everything together and I thought we were attempting to mend things but she was still there. His brother and his girlfriend broke up and both moved out which left my husband and this girl. Oh, I forgot to mention that she was 21 and my husband is 38. Finally, after two months of them living alone, he asked her to leave (my ultimatum). Now it has been three months, he stills lives alone but is "seeing" me but still talking to her. I have lost 60 pounds and emotionally am a wreck. He says that he loves but has always been a difficult to communicate with. I love my husband even after the thousands of lies and still want my marriage...yes, I know that I am crazy! I have asked myself "what is wrong with you, are you that pathetic". I do not know what to do because I think she may have come in town this past weekend and stayed at one of his friends houses. How tells me that he loves me and does not want to throw away 20 years and our lives together. What do I do? I cannot work on a marriage when we live apart and I can't seem to get him to understand. Can I even really consider this an affair. I AM SO CONFUSED AND FEEL CRAZY!

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    1. Anonymous,
      I think you've summed up your situation with the word "confused". It's impossible to have a relationship with anyone who has one foot out the door. It sounds as if you weren't making your marriage a priority. However, sometimes we need to be hit over the head (or have our husbands begin affairs) to get our priorities straight. I hope you'll try to make repairs. And I think you could stand to get some individual counselling to figure out why you're driving him away and feel so conflicted about your marriage. My guess is there's years of built up resentment and hurt that's affecting both of your ability to be honest and vulnerable with each other.

      Elle

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  38. Elle,
    First off I want to say thank you for taking the time to try to help all of us woman and men that write in to your blog. I appreciate the advice you have given me. I have a few more questions if you wouldn't mind giving me your perspective. First, on my D-day or shortly after...who can remember when you feel so numb, a switch inside me changed. I no longer feel in love with my husband. I still care about him but I don't feel love. In addition I no longer believe in forever after. I used to and now I just feel like a fool. Do you think it is possible to get that back? Our marriage is at the stage where I walk around mostly neutral unless Im feeling hurt or having a flash back. I force myself not to do everything and sweet things for him anymore. He is constatly telling me he loves me is being more supportive, beggs me to keep him,and has more than doubled his help with the kids. He works out at sea so he trys to call, and email me more. I did not request anything from him. Before we got married I used to work at sea and that is how I met him. A year after we were dating I found out he tried to kiss two other girls. I threatened to leave him then and he begged me to stay saying it would never happen again. At that time I laid down ground rules. 6 years later he does it again but started having a relationship with this girl over a 6 month period he was still calling me and texting me when he was in port, she just happened to be in the hotel room with him. So I don't fell like it matters what i ask for he has already shown me he can get around that. I felt a difference on him this time and confronted him 3 times over the six months he was cheating and he would just get angry and say I never trust him. He hasn't been angry since I caught him this time. I am just not sure he will ever change. He happen to call me when I was home with two sick kids. he says he knows how hard it is for me to do this alone and offered to quit his job. He is so desperate to try to show me he wants to be a better man but he cheated on his first wife of 10 years and now me. I really don't think he will change. I have been trying to get him to think about why he does it and I don't think he is capable of soul searching. He says he thinks these woman give him a sign that they want him. I know I did not do that. I was shocked when he approached me in the beginning. I am having so much trouble believing in him and our marriage. Does the hurt fade and the dissolution return?

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    1. Anonymous,
      To answer your question, yes it's possible to get past all the hurt and rebuild a better marriage. But it takes a ton of work on both sides and it takes a sincere desire to understand the roles each of you played. You were NOT to blame for his affair at all...but there's a dynamic in marriage that is the result of two people. So it's important to recognize what your role was and determine whether it's one that's serving the marriage or not. And he absolutely must commit to understanding why he cheats, both on his first wife and now you. Women giving him "signs" is total bullshit. Doesn't matter if a woman undresses in front of him, it's still his choice to violate his vows or not. So something clearly makes him vulnerable to women's attention. Whether it makes him feel like a man, or powerful, or sexy or whatever...affairs are generally less about the other person than about the reflection of ourselves in the other person's eyes. It's about how the other person makes them feel. And it's the feeling more than the person that becomes so intoxicating.
      So, again, yes it's possible. But only with strong commitment on both parts and a willingness to go through some pretty dark places together with the intent of creating a better relationship.
      At this point, you've clearly got the power because he's desperate not to lose you. So determine what you need from him to consider giving him that other chance. Does he need to be in therapy? Reading books on affairs? Committed to being totally transparent (access to e-mail, his phone records, etc.)? Willing to undergo lie detector test?? Whatever you honestly feel you need to give him that chance, now's the time to figure out what it is...and insist on it. If he won't, then you've pretty much your answer about whether he's going to do this again. And don't fall for the usual excuses (if you loved me, you wouldn't ask that of me; I have a right to my privacy; etc.) He's violated your trust and needs to earn it back.

      Elle

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  39. Elle,
    My dear husband had a work colleague that he cheated with on me. She has since changed jobs and the affair went on for another 9 months thereafter. He was caught and choose our marriage. We did go for counselling (1 x hour and a half session). He did confess to most of his deeds in counselling except for having sex with the 'co-worker'. This I only found out a week after counselling. We are suppose to return for counselling but he is the one that has to make the appointment and I assume he feels bad because of not coming clean the first time at the counselor. That is the one side.

    It also doesn't seem that he is doing enough to try and rebuild our marriage and that all effort is coming from my side. How would I approach this?

    Then there is "ME". I have lost all self confidence, my business is taking a huge knock and I can't seem to get myself out there to repair the damages. I feel worthless and as if all I have worked for is tumbling in. I can't go on like this. I use to be a strong, rather independent woman but it has vanished. Where do I start to 'fix' myself?

    Lastly I have a little boy. I would like to have another child but do not know if the time is right. According to society and my husband now is the right time( and latest time) to have a second child (which I would love). But I can not bring up two kids alone if he tries another affair when I am pregnant/ tired/ trying to be a mom and wife etc (this is when the previous affair started).

    Crying out for help!

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    1. Crying,
      I'm so sorry for what you're going through. You've certainly been kicked.
      Let's start with your marriage. It takes two to create a healthy relationship. With the damage that's been done, the onus is on him at this point to help you heal. If he's unwilling (or less willing) you need to figure out what that means for you. What do you need from him? What are your expectations of him, given what he's done? Get clear on that and then make it clear to him that he needs to support you in this. What are the consequences if he refuses counselling? What are the consequences if he continues to withhold information? This is not to make threats to him...it's to make it clear that you won't put up with anything less than his 110% effort in repairing the marriage.
      Regarding your business -- this is a tough time for you to be dealing with this. That said, is there someone you can bring in to help you with this? A consultant you can hire? A co-worker you can give additional responsibilities? Or, perhaps, giving your attention to this right now might be just what you need to let go of your sense of helplessness around your husband's behaviour. Figure out the best-case scenario and then do your best to create it. Not easy, I know. But that "independent woman" is still there inside you somewhere. You need her now!
      And finally, now isn't the time to bring a second child into your family. That said, perhaps it's time to talk clearly and firmly with your husband about wishes for a second child and the importance that the relationship be on more solid ground. Is he clear on why he strayed? Are you? Is he willing to do the hard work of figuring all that out to ensure it never happens again? It's not enough to admit it...that's just the beginning.
      An affair is an incredibly painful experience. It can also, however, be the catalyst for rebuilding a better relationship. But both parties have to be willing to bare their souls and do some hard work.
      Hang in there, Crying. You'll find yourself again. Just don't get fall in the trap of seeing yourself as a victim or somehow to blame for your husband's painful decision. That's his stuff. Yours is to be a mom, a business-owner and a partner to your husband, assuming he'll do the heavy lifting.

      Elle

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  40. From the guilty party...

    I'm the husband in this horrible situation, I am the guilty party. I caused the pain and anguish of my wife, myself, my friends, etc... I was friends with a woman who was also friends with my wife and our circle of friends. She and I got along great and seemed to click on a friendly level at first. But then something more became apparent and we began talking too much. Within a few weeks we had all hung out a lot and she and I had talked a lot. I had never had so much attention poured on me, so much admiration or appreciation. I often said to her that I felt our relationship was wrong and it would cause an extraordinary amount of pain. she would agree and we would try and keep it friendly but it would inevitably work its way back to being inappropriate again. We kissed a couple times and ultimately found ourselves in a situation that was not planned but was circumstantial and we had sex. I was immediately guilt stricken and remorseful. I spent the next 10 days trying to forget it and keep everything as it was before so no one would get hurt. I was struggling to keep it from my wife, it was killing me but I was so afraid of the pain I'd cause her that I was frozen in fear. The OW's husband knew and confronted her and I confessed to her the affair. It was the first worst day of my life, every day since has been excruciating. I know her pain is worse than mine and I know I am the cause of her pain. That destroys me in a way I cannot put into words. I love my wife more than anything in this world and I am devastated at the pain I've caused her. We are very early in the process but I have begun therapy in an effort to determine why I could make such a horrible mistake after 15 years of what I think was a good marriage. How do I fall apart in two weeks after getting right for that long? How do I make it up to her? I have a million questions and I'm hoping therapy can answer some of them.

    Desperate

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    1. Desperate,
      As I'm sure you've figured out, there's no way to undo what you've done. And yes, your wife's pain is excruciating. That said, I always maintained I'd rather be the betrayed than the betrayer.
      The best you can do right now is support her in the brutal days ahead as she wraps her mind around what this means. This means letting her cry, rage, scream, wail and simply recognizing it as some primal response to an incredibly deep wound that feels as if it threatens our very value in this world. The trauma from betrayal can't be underestimated, though it will be tempting for you to do so because acknowledging it will bring such feelings of guilt and shame to you. Please don't insist she get over it, or let go of the past or any such bull. The quickest way out of that dark place is to go through and simply feel those feelings in an environment of acceptance and love. And you can give her that even though she likely won't be the most appreciative right now.
      Give her time. Insist that you will still be there no matter what. That you made a horrible mistake that you will regret forever but that you'll spend the rest of your life being the man she thought you were (assuming you genuinely mean it!!). When someone is betrayed by a spouse, it feels like the whole world is suddenly unsafe. We wonder that if we were so wrong about something so important, what else are we wrong about? And for this to happen with a woman she also trusted is twice the betrayal.
      I would recommend you both get therapy to figure out how you were so vulnerable to the flattery and attention. Be contrite but don't demonize yourself. You're a human being who made an awful mistake. It happens. Too much, unfortunately. But even really good people do really crappy things.
      The therapy is also to help both of you rebuild a marriage in which you both feel valued and loved. In which you can share your feelings BEFORE you act on them. Telling your wife what was happening might not have been a very pleasant conversation...but it would have put you both on the same team, aware of the threat this woman (and your feelings toward her) posed. We're all going to be tempted...but those of us who don't succumb generally have a greater awareness of what's happening, why it's happening and how we can stop it from happening.
      Hang in there, Desperate. I sincerely hope you and your wife can work through this. I think one of the biggest myths around infidelity is that it's a death knell for a marriage. It's not. A marriage can not only survive but grow stronger. But only with a lot of patience, compassion and hard work.

      Elle

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  41. More...
    She isn't making any decisions now, she's taking her time to heal and decide what she thinks she is capable of going forward. She talks to me sometimes but I fear I just upset her when we talk. yet I can't help but to tell her how sorry I am and how badly I want to be the man she deserves. I'm not sorry just because I got caught. I was sorry the second I realized what I had done. I thought it would have never come to that, I thought I had it under control. We would talk about meeting and seeing each other privately but when it came time to meet I would always back out and find a way not to meet. I can't explain why I couldn't walk away when I needed to and I want to know for myself and for my wife that I can walk away in the future. I want her to know that will never happen again. I have been 100% honest about every thing about the relationship and have disclosed everything. I have nothing to hide from my wife now. I have ended all communication with the OW and will not talk or text her, period. She agrees to that as well. Her husband asked me to call her and have a talk about what happened and where our feelings were for each other. We did and we agreed that we were good friends who got way to close and made a horrible mistake and that we both wanted our marriages saved and that we were terribly sorry for letting that happen.
    I'm desperate for my wife to heal and not hurt anymore and I know that is all a matter of patience here. That is very difficult when you have hurt the one you love so much. We have two amazing kids and I see them multiple times a week, they know mom and dad are working on things and they seem like they are doing ok with it. They see me and mom at home for a few minutes together, on those days, being cordial and we don't fight at all. I'm thankful for that as I come from a divorced family and it was a traumatic life experience in my life that probably plays a role in this.
    My wife is incredibly strong but I feel like I have completely crushed her and I pray for her wellbeing and peace everyday. How can she ever take me to be the man she deserves? How can she forgive me?
    I am not looking for sympathy, just giving my point of view from the other side of this horrible situation. Asking for opinions on how I can help her heal and myself to a degree.
    Forgiving myself is something I can't even begin to explore when I know how much pain she is in and how I am the cause of all of this. I almost feel like I'm punishing, torturing myself as penance for what I've done. I know I can't continue that behavior but I feel as long as she is hurting I can't even think of healing myself.

    Desperate

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  42. Elle,

    I'm doing my best to let her move through it in her own time and pace. I do feel I'm being a little too attentive right now but my intentions are good, I'm worried about her and when I see her upset it moves me to do anything I can to help. I do genuinely mean it when I say I want to be the man she deserves, I want that more than anything I've ever wanted in my life. My fear is that I may never get the chance to prove that.
    I have begun therapy and its opened my eyes to things I didn't know but its still too early to say they answer the reasons why or make it somehow ok to move on from. She begins next week and I hope it brings my wife some help and peace. Eases her mind in some way. I know now we weren't perfect before but I can't bare the thought of saying that any of this was somehow caused or contributed to by her actions or things in our marriage. That just seems to add more insult to injury. But I'm willing to do what it takes to get us to that better place.
    I believe I've already taken steps to recognize and be better prepared for the warning signs that preluded this horrible mistake and I hope one day she can see that and feel enough trust in me to accept that herself.
    I do think I was good person before but now I'm very focused on becoming better. I see that I wasn't always as pleasant and patient as I maybe thought I was back then. Something I certainly need to change, not only for the sake of my marriage but for my kids and myself as well. I still struggle with how I could make such a colossal mistake and not truly see the consequences as severe as they were to be.
    I hope she can believe that that this isn't instant death of a marriage as well...
    holding onto a shred of hope, thank you
    Desperate

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    1. You're absolutely right to point out that your wife in no way is responsible for your choice to cheat. And you're wise to give her time to simply grieve. But the day will come when both of you need to take a look at your marriage and that's something each of you contributed to, for good and for bad. The most vulnerable marriages, I often think, are those that think they've INvulnerable to affairs. That think they're bullet-proof.
      And I, too, wish more people recognized just how painful affairs are for everyone involved. I honestly think if more people truly understood that, they'd seem a whole lot less appealing.
      Hang in there. And please keep us posted. Your thoughts as you move through this are more than welcome on this site. In fact, they might just really help many of the women here.

      Elle

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  43. Elle,
    Well the last couple days have been up and down. She was angry one day and the next a complete emotional meltdown. She hadn't been upset like that in a few days and it just destroyed me. I go into a protective mode when she's upset. I'm desperately trying to help her and console her in some way. But truthfully I'm not the person she wants to do that for her. That just rips my heart out. Rightfully so I suppose. She mentioned that she didn't want her anger to become hatred or resentment for me and I hope that's not the case too ,but she thought the therapist may help her learn to cope a little better. I think she feels like her meltdowns should be subsiding a little by now and when they happen it just makes her think she can't get over this. I see our potential and I know how strong she is, so I hope she can heal to a point where she can think clearly about our future before she makes any decisions or gets any ideas of how it can't work. I would like her to have an open mind about what to do or what we can do when we get to therapy together. But she said she hoped the therapist could change her mind which leads me to believe she has already begun to make that decision and prepare for what that entails. Being a child of divorce, I can say that scares me to no end. I struggled unbelievably from my parents divorce. but I can't expect to stay together simply for the kids, its about her happiness, and I believe I can be the person to make her happy. Just don't know that she'll ever believe that again.
    Therapy has helped me and I've only been a couple times, so I'm a believer in it and hope it provides the same positive outcome for my wife.
    You mentioned that you wished people truly understood the how painful affairs are. Boy is that an understatement. My wife struggles with the fact that I didn't recognize that. I don't really have an answer to be honest. In my situation I thought I had it under control and that I would never actually do anything. didn't think the situation would ever come to fruition so I thought I was safe from acting on anything we had said. I was wrong and I knew when it happened I was in a bad position and I was immediately distraught at my lack of judgment.
    I can be a better person, husband and father from what I've learned from this experience, the question remains as to whether my wife can allow me to be that person for her...

    desperate

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    1. Desperate,
      As nuts as it seems, your wife's roller coaster experience is perfectly normal under the circumstances. It took me months to get it under control. It's crucial that she's not going to be blind-sided by any "new" information about your affair (ie. that it went on longer than you said, or that there was more than one woman) because that will put her right back at square one.
      What finally worked for me (when I fell into that "this will NEVER get better" mode) was focussing on the teensy little things that were getting better. Like I could go more than an hour without crying, or that I could actually laugh at a TV show, or that I could fit easily into my skinny jeans (because I was hardly eating...). Just small things but they remind us that the heart can and does heal, albeit slowly. These little moments are like signposts the road back toward joy. Or little cracks that start to let the light back in.
      Ultimately as you recognize, your wife needs to sort through this herself. As much as it's natural for you to withdraw when she starts to melt down, it's important not to, even when she's pushing you away. Have you asked her (during a moment of calm) what it is she needs from you when the anger begins to boil over? Does she want you to take the kids so she can rage on her own? Does she want to be held? Does she want you to simply say "I'm sorry" over and over? Then do it.
      Hang in there, Desperate. However this turns out, you've obviously gained a lot of wisdom and compassion. Your wife will too, though she'll likely forever wish she could have learned these lessons with a bit less pain/drama.
      And even if she does decide she can't stay with you, by working through the pain you can hopefully remain committed to parenting together for your children, which will serve them well.
      Glad you're able to post here and sort through the confusion. There's a ton of info and support here for your wife too if she wants to check us out.

      Elle

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  44. Elle,
    Yea I figure her mood swings are normal but they are nonetheless traumatic. For her and myself. Don't get me wrong, I still have complete meltdowns and sob uncontrollably as well. But I fear hers more than mine. I fear the pain she in, the damage it does and if we are ever recoverable. She's hopeful therapy will help her settle down a little. I'm not expecting it to help a lot yet but I'm hopeful. I have asked her what I can do to help and she just doesn't really know. She gets upset at the sight of me and we keep saying we aren't gonna get into these long conversations about it when we see each other and then we talk for two hours and I don't think that's helping her. she thinks its helping me though. which is probably true. We decided to make a pact not to do that anymore unless she wants to talk to me, which I don't see her doing at this point.
    We are on the same page with the kids and we keep them close and talk to them a lot and address their concerns if they have any. So far they are doing great and haven't had much issue with it at all. We are trying to keep them at home and not do any awkward drop offs and pickups away from the house. We want them home and to keep as much normalcy around them as we can. I'm willing to drive the hours it takes from my parents house to them several times a week to make sure that stays that way.
    There is nothing new for her to discover, she has spoken to the other woman and she talks to her husband from time to time so there is complete openness about it. If anything she gets a vision or thought of how the situation happened or what was going on in her head and when she asks me about it I tell her the truth and its normally worse in her head than what really happened. Which I'm sure I'd do the exact same thing. Probably worse, I'm sure worse. So then she thinks I'm trying to lessen the act etc... but I'm trying to answer when asked and be honest and accept the good with the bad as it comes. I'm doing whatever I can to help, I'm just not who she wants to hug, or talk to or to tell her I'm sorry. I've said I'm sorry so much I think it just pisses her off now. At some point I hope to be that person again obviously. I'm so different now, in a profound way, hope that's not temporary, its feels like a massive shift, eye opening. I struggle between working on myself and focusing on her needs and pain. I certainly lean toward helping her utmost and foremost. Maybe in some small way, my way of redeeming myself?

    desperate

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  45. Hi Elle Thank-you for this blog!
    I left my boyfriend of 2 1/2 years in September, our relationship was not good, we had attempted couples therapy but it did not work. When I left, I could not continue as we were living (reactive, critical, argumentative, generally negative towards each other).What was not clear to me was if I was completely finished with the relationship.
    I returned to therapy and did some really hard work on myself.I started to wonder if we could make it work together... if we were both on the same page and took the time to build the foundation we needed I thought we could be amazing.
    I approached him in November and asked him if he though that there was a chance for a future for us. He needed time to figure it out. It had taken me a lot of work to get to where I was, so understood the need for time.
    So I waited. we would talk on the phone and hang occasionally. He was still not sure if he was willing or able. I had reached the point where I need to know, still hopeful and still feeling that if we were ready together that we could be great, but needing to move forward with or without him.
    I initiated the conversation, this conversation was different than the others, more open and hopeful from both of us. Then came the quiet admission "I have done something that is really going to hurt you."
    Who does not know what this means? I was so not prepared for the physical and emotional impact of him actually saying he had slept with someone else. The week before. He expressed his sorrow at hurting me, that it had been a mistake. After asking him some direct questions my emotions finally came over me and I asked him to leave.
    I was sooo hurt, even thought we were not together, I had been waiting for him and he was out getting to know someone else. I was sure in that moment and the next couple of days that he had shown me moving forward together was not an option.
    Then he contacted me and he wanted to share that if I was interested in moving forward that he was able to. That through sleeping with someone else he was able to see clearly now. He understood that it may not even be an option anymore.
    As soon as he said that, even through my pain and confusion, there was a lessening of my anxiety.I think that with those words I was again able to focus on the future that I wanted and overlook the feelings. I knew that there were still feelings there yet unexplored and I was/am fearful that they will come tumbling out at random moments.
    We have gotten together for dinners and with close friends since. Last night I casually asked if he had heard from this woman, really without thinking too much about the question (though thoughts of their time together are never very far from my mind). Through a volunteer organization he is involved in he will from time to time be in contact with this person and he has within the last week been in contact. BAM here comes flooding back all the feelings that I was able to put aside. It really took me off guard the intensity of them.
    I have been doing some research about ways to navigate through this and one of the things that I have found is that it is good to ask all the questions that you want and have them all answered. Is it ok for me to say that I don’t want there to be contact? That I want to read these recent emails? Is it an invasion of his privacy?
    Does it help when you ask for the details? I still feel like there are unknowns and maybe if those are gone it will start to get easier? The conversation last night started out really difficult but as we struggled through it, it got easier.
    I want to move forward, we are both committed to working hard to have a life together. It was going to be hard work before and now I am just scared of the magnitude of the work that is before us. I do not know how to navigate through these feelings.
    Thank-you for providing the platform to share this story! It is so important to be able to share and find other people who have similar experiences.

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    1. Hi Anon,
      Glad you found us.
      Sounds you've done a lot of soul searching around this relationship, which I think will stand you in good stead as you move forward. And it sounds, too, as if your boyfriend has been able to crystallize his own thoughts around your relationship. Unfortunately he did it in a way that, understandably, has caused you pain.
      You ask what's "okay" for you to ask. Whatever you feel you need is "okay" for you to ask. And that goes for every relationship for the rest of your life. Whether the other person acquiesces remains to be seen...but please ask clearly for what you need. The deeper question is what do you truly need. What will move you forward and what is (what we sometimes call on this site "pain shopping"). One of the reasons we generally insist that you need details of the affair is that, when you're in a committed relationship and someone is going outside of that relationship, you sometimes wonder if you're going crazy. Things seem off...but are they? Things aren't adding up...but are they? By the unfaithful partner providing details, it allows us into the affair, which to that point, has been closed to us. It shuts the other person out and lets us in, a very important step to healing.
      In your case, however, your boyfriend strictly speaking wasn't cheating on you. I know you had hoped he was sitting at home getting clear on his feelings for you. He, however, thought that with this bit of freedom perhaps he should see what he was missing. Turns out, what he was missing wasn't so great. In that sense, this other relationship was what he needed. I really don't think you or your relationship is served by you having access to their e-mails or details of the relationship. I think, in your case, it's "pain shopping" and something that will haunt both of you as move forward. Think of her as an "old girlfriend", someone with whom he has something of a past...but not a future. You're his future.
      I competely understand your surprise at the intensity of your feelings around this. It is intensely painful to discover that our beloved has been with someone else. Yet most of us agree to overlook much of that or we'd drive ourselves crazy poring over our beloved's yearbooks trying to pick out which girls he liked.
      What I would do is ask for him to always let you know when he has contact with this woman and to minimize it as much as possible. He should also make it very clear to this woman that he has made a commitment to you.
      Unless you have any reason to believe that he's continuing this relationship then let it go and move forward. If you do suspect it's ongoing...then it's time to cut this guy loose.
      And while I applaud your desire to work through relationship issues now rather than when you've got three kids and a mortgage, I nonetheless urge you to have some fun. A relationship is hard work but not all the time. I hope you'll both be able to chalk this woman up to a signpost who pointed your boyfriend in the right direction at a critical point in his life.
      And..for the record, while I don't encourage snooping between partners, both partners should always conduct themselves in a way that if their partner WERE to snoop...they would find nothing. In other words, if you wouldn't say it/do it/write it with your partner right beside you, then you shouldn't be saying it/doing it/writing it now. If you both keep that in mind, you'll be fine.
      Good luck. And keep us posted.

      Elle

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    2. Hi Elle, thank-you for your advice. Some time has gone by and I am very happy to say that my boyfriend and I are doing really great! Your advise was key to my being able to move forward in my relationship. Looking at the other person as an old girlfriend really did put the whole situation in perspective for me. My boyfriend was really patients and open with me about everything and when I had a meltdown (plural cause there was more than one!!) and could not calm myself down he was wonderfully calm with me and brought me back down. I figured out for me that his actions had brought to the surface an insecurity that I was not enough. Once I made that realization things certainly got easier. I have been working on this and realize that I am enough just as is am!!
      I wanted to take a moment and reply to your post to let you know how much you helped me in a time when I was lost and really didn't know how to move forward.
      Thank-you again for helping me, and all the other people that you reach out to Elle, your advice is very thoughtful and you have a wonderful ability to see both sides of the situation.
      All the best
      Anon aka Jenna

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  46. Thank you Elle, I'm grateful to have found your site. You hit on points that have been hard for me to get past, its been three years since I found out my husband had been cheating with multiple partners for over ten years. Despite his claims that he wanted to fix the marriage he hasn't done anything to actually fix the damage he created. For the last three years I wondered what was wrong with me, but you've made me see he is the broken one. I can't fix this for him and I wonder if staying with him was a good idea. Healing from this is hard when he would prefer I just get over it which can't happen if the time isn't put into repair. I don't know why it bothers me so much now but it does and I don't know what to do anymore. I just want to feel whole again and I'm not sure if I can achieve that with him when I'm constantly second guessing myself.

    Thanks for giving women like me a place to turn. Kim

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    1. Hi Kim,

      Glad you found us! But, as always, sorry you have to be here.
      It's impossible to rebuild a marriage with only one of you doing the heavy lifting. Without his honest appraisal of why he did it and a sincere commitment to ensuring it won't happen again, you're pretty much just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
      This isn't about you, it IS about him. And until he agrees to counselling to get clear on his issues (which you could make a condition of reconciliation), there's little point in you continuing a relationship with him. You can't just "get over it". Your trust has been violated, which is extraordinarily painful. You'd be crazy to trust him again until he earns that trust back.
      It bothers you so much because he's not respecting your boundaries and your needs. Hell, he's not respecting YOU. You'll feel whole again when you start respecting yourself enough to insist on a relationship in which you feel safe and valued. And that does NOT include cheating on someone for a decade and then wondering why they can't get over it with a simple "I'm sorry."
      Kim, I think you know exactly what to do...but it's not the easy path of just putting in time and hoping he'll do what needs to be done. But the right thing often isn't the easy thing. You've put in three years waiting for him to smarten up. Either demand he seek help and take steps to repair the damage, or show him the door. You're worth more than this.
      Good luck sweetie. Let us know how you're doing.

      Elle

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  47. MY HUSBAND HAD AN AFFAIR.I FILED FOR DIVORCE A WEEK AFTER I FOUND OUT.
    THAT WAS AMOST TWO YEARS AGO.HIS WAS A VERY DEEP EMOTIONAL AFFAIR WITH A GIRL IN HER TWENTIES.IT ENDED UP PHYSICAL. HE IS ALMOST 60..
    I MADE HIM MOVE OUT.HE CONTINUED WITH HER FOR 6 MONTHS MORE.HE BETRAYED ME 10 MONTHS BEFORE I FOUND OUT..THE TWO WORLD'S WERE BOUND TO CLASH...GUESS HE DID NOT THINK SO.
    I WAS A GREAT WIFE IN EVERY WAY.WE WERE MARRIED 12 YEARS.
    I TOOK HIM BACK ,AFTER ONE YEAR OF COUNSELING, HIM BEING THE "PERFECT HUSBAND" IN HIS MIND ANYWAY.I HAVE REFILED JUST RECENTLY. HE STILL LIVES HERE.IT HAS BEEN THE MOST INCREDIBLE PAIN I EVER ..SUFFERED IN MY LIFE.
    FELT AS THOUGH I WAS HIT IN THE HEAD WITH A CEMENT BLOCK.I NEVER SAW IT COMING..I WAS HAPPY,I THOUGHT HE WAS.
    HE CHANGED THE COURSE OF MY LIFE,I HAD NO SAY.HE ANSWERED MANY QUESTIONS I HAD,YET HE WOULD NEVER GIVE ME THE ANSWERS I NEEDED.
    I LOVE HIM,NOT THE WAY I DID BEFORE.THE ANGER IS OVERWHELMING. I FOUND A SIDE OF MYSELF I NEVER KNEW I HAD.I GAVE HIM TWO BLACK EYES..MONTHS APART..HE SHOULD OF BEEN THANKFUL IT WAS JUST A BLACK EYE.
    OUR MARRIAGE COUNSELOR ASKED ME IF I WAS REMOSEFUL, I SAID NO.I HAVE BEHAVED SO BADLY.FITS OF RAGE,TEARS, AND OBSESSING OVER WHY HE WOULD NOT TELL ME HOW IT HAPPENED.WHY,AND HOW IT ENDED.
    HE IS REMORSEFUL, YET IT IS ALOT TO ASK, EXPECTING ME TO MOVE ON.PUT IT BEHIND ME.MAYBE IF HE HAD TRULY TOLD ME WHAT I NEEDED,I COULD OF MOVED ON.HOW CAN A WOMAN HEAL WHEN HER HUSBAND KEEPS THE MISSING PIECES OF MY LIFE TO HIMSELF??
    AFFAIRS ARE SO DESTRUCTIVE. IF I AM THE LOVE OF LIFE...HOW COULD HE??
    HE GAVE ME A LIFETIME GIFT OF PAIN.
    I AM SAD FOR ANY WOMAN WHO HAS EXPERIENCED SUCH BETRAYAL.

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  48. Been married 46 1/2 yrs when husband cheated. I'm 68 & he is 72. He had been doing some handy man work for a neighbor's rental home; which happened to be her best friend & husband. After being up there a couple of months every day the friend (OW) started coming on to him, even pulling her blouse up without a bra onn & running around in just bra & panties, seducing him. All this went on after her husband left for work. She fed into his ego big time,she's 20 yrs younger than me. Her husband, her & son (age 5) became friends with us. Then she started coming by for coffee in the eveings. I told my husband something was going to happen or has happened between them he said no! Well a yr later one nite she called me to tell me she "just wanted me to know that she slept with my husband". Needless to say I went into shock, hung up on her & asked my husband, He confessed said it only happen once around June 2011, The more I asked I found out she performed oral sex on him once, then a few days later they had intercourse but husband pulled out said I can't do this, then few more days and they had & completed intercourse. He told her that this couldn't go on as if I found out it would kill me. So they agreed to take it to their graves. During June 2011 and when she told me and July 2012 she had been in my house many times becoming very close to me as my own daughters, often telling me I was the mother she never had & how much she loved me. My husband swears it stopped after those 3 times & I do believe him. He is very sorry & is doing everything to make it up. We had renewed our vows in Dec & he wrote his stating the unfaithfulness & rededicated himself to our marriage. I am seing a counslor but have many mini emotional melt downs a week. The WHY and How Could You Do this always comes up. I'm starlted awake at nite with the images & then up the rest of the nite. This has been going on for over 7 mos now. What or how can I get thru this????? My husband is retired from the military & we have been apart many times & never had he cheated before. When he holds me I wonder did he hold her that way? So many thoughts toture me. I do love him. I really expected more from him, and now I'm trying to cope trying to get thru each day & nite.

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    1. I'm so sorry. What a thing to discover after so many years of marriage.
      In my experience, it takes a long time to get past such a shock. Many of us experience post-trauma symptoms. It helped me to recognize that. Made me realize just how badly I'd been affected and stopped me from expecting I'd just get over it.
      Counselling is, of course, important. Your husband's steady commitment to support you and earn your trust back is crucial. And your compassion to yourself is also crucial. There's no easy way out of this. Just through...

      Elle

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  49. Hi,
    This is my situation. I've been with my husband for 17 years, married for 13 years. We have two school-aged kids, and I'm 20 weeks pregnant. We are currently abroad, in my country of origin, where I have wanted to come back to live for the last 10 years but my husband wasn't fully willing during that time. He started working with a woman and a team and felt really validated and valued by her and the working group. I felt something was going on but when I expressed my feelings I was accused of being jealous and I was told I was jeopardizing his newly found great line of work. He then proceed to tell me he though we didn't have intimacy as lovers, that we didn't shared anything (as lovers), we didn't have good communication, or a future in common. At the same time he told me has communicated with me better than with any other person in his live, he has been honest with me like he has not been able to be with anybody else, and that our children will always be our common project. But still insists his love is gone and I don't give him what he needs. We kept talking and eventually agreed that we would stick together for the kid's shake and try to work on those issues. After that agreement we had a few trying but wonderful days together. Then I was listening to my voicemail and heard him tell his sister how this other woman (who he had only seen face to face in two visits and spent a total of 3 days) told him after they kissed on the cheeks (a common way to say bye here) she had felt all these things, been so impacted, and fantasized about him but told him he felt bad b/c he had a wife, two kids, and a baby on the way. When I confronted my husband he told me he had actually not been honest with me b/c he wanted to tell me about this woman but decided to wait b/c of the baby, but that he was confused about his feelings for her. He then repeated again that all his love for me is finished, and noted that he is not clear about his relationship with her but wants to explore it--but he still wants to stay with the family. On top of this, we have decided to move back to this country, but we need to go back to the US for at least 1 year for contractual reasons (or return a large bunch of money). The plan is to work together for a year to be able to come back, wait until the baby is born, and then come here and split after a while. This means we will be partners, not lovers, while doing this, which can take 1-2-3 years. It hurts a lot but I think I could do this for the children, knowing my husband does not love me any more. But what I can't stand is his insistence that he still has to "explore" this relationship (not sure how that will be done since they are now in different cities and later will be in different countries) and that that has nothing to do to his commitment as a father and as a family man. He says he is not looking for a relationships but wants to explore. He says whoever is with him would have to accept that his priority is his family. Sometimes I think I can live with this for the kid's sake and to make sure the transitions are livable for all (too many changes in terms of country of residence, jobs, etc.), but other times I get overly jealous and wonder if I'll be capable of doing it and if it is fair for me to give it a try and to allow this situation to go on... any words of advise? I'm lost. BTW, he met this woman two months ago and this happened two days ago...

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  50. Wow. I am just so sorry. I honestly don't know what to say. Except...you need to respect yourself through all of this. Can you take some time to really sort through all these changes and figure out what's the best for YOU? To figure out what you're entitled to financially and what you're bound to geographically? Do you have a trusted friend who can help you explore your options? A lawyer?
    There's so much going on and it seems as if he's calling the shots. I don't think you can count on someone wanting to "explore" to have your best interests at heart. And I don't think it's healthy for kids to see parents in a Cold War. And yet who could blame you for feeling jealous and angry?
    Your first loyalty must be to you, then your children.
    Again...I'm so sorry. But trust that though this might feel like hell right now, you will get through it.

    Elle

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  51. Thanks much for your words, Elle. I'm very fortunate to have an extremely strong support network here and have been talking with a few friends. I also plan to do therapy with a professional that comes with very strong recommendations. My husband and I have continued to discuss the issues, and he has agreed he will put all his "exploring" on hold until after we stop living together as partners. Maybe because we now see each other as "strangers" and can truly "see" each other, we are now communicating about things we had put under the rug in ways that are very intimate and are recognizing to ourselves and to each other appreciations we did not before. I'm aware that on his side he feels there is no chance of reconciliation as lovers, but I feel this honest exchange we are having now will at a minimum help us better live together as partners, might help us separate in more amicable terms, and will be a good learning experience for both that could be useful when we try to remake our lives with new people. I probably sound a lot more serene and clearly-headed than I truly am and I change my minds and feelings constantly, but at least I feel a little bit more peaceful and serene than a few days ago. Thanks again for your support, it's much appreciated!

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    1. I'm happy for you that you and your partner are at least communicating respectfully with each other. And yes, while you'll likely still have plenty of rough days, perhaps the worst is over in that you're no longer wondering what's real and what's not. Feeling sane can't be over-rated!
      Counselling will be invaluable too in helping you understand that his behaviour is no reflection on your value as a partner, your desirability and your worth.
      Wishing nothing but the best. Please keep us posted.

      Elle

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  52. Hubby used my laptop and forgot to sign out of his fb. I quickly glanced through his messages not expecting anything interesting. However what I found out changed our lives forever.We were married 26 years ago.Two children right after. We lived the American suburb dream. My husband was viewed by friends & neighbors as the "family man". In the summer of 2006,he got a job in Boston. 2 hours by train . The company provided him with an apartment there.He spent 2 nights in Boston weekly on average.As soon as he took the job,he paid & signed up to 9 online dating sites. In his profile, he used Boston as his "hometown".He said he was married & not looking for any long term relationships. A woman named "Sherry" from 7 states away contacted him. After a few email exchanges, they decided to meet. He bought her an airplane ticket & flew her to Boston. She stayed at his apartment while he was there. Went back home that weekend. She came again in a few weeks.They acted as a couple in Boston. That year, our family decided to spend Christmas in Boston since he had the apartment there.I slept in the same bed two of them did their dirty business on. Our children took naps on that bed :-(In early 2007,I went away for a week to visit my sick mother. He took me to the airport & told me he was going to work after. But he got on the next flight to see Sherry. He took Sherry to a resort. They were on a week long vacation together when I was away. He broke off with her after. He said it's like dating. After a few times, he felt Sherry wasn't the right person. I asked him: " She wasn't the right person for what?" He said: " For something I was looking for. But don't what!" After Sherry, he had a few one night stands.In 2011, he concluded those affairs didn't gave him what he was looking for. He deleted everything online except he forget his FB messages. His reasons for cheating: our marriage grew stale;We got distant (even though we were intimate once a week - same time every week);He was lonely by himself after work in Boston.He said he's always loved me and didn't mean to hurt me because he never thought I'd ever find out. He said the affairs happened in the past. He already decided to quit before I made the discovery. We shouldn't make such a big deal out of this. But I felt a nuclear bomb just went off.I just want scream and shake him. After i insisted, he answered most of my questions. But lots of " I don't remember." or " I don't know".He was surprised to see me this hurt.He felt I had my own life & didn't care much about two of us.It's true, our marriage grew stale. But I thought that's all old marriages are like.If he felt we became distant, he should have come and talked to me.I'm partially responsible for us grew distant. But he was the one took a big step further & committed adulteries. He is sorry for what he did & wants to rebuild. My question is : " How to get the images of him being intimate with other women out of my head? Do these images go away after a while? I'v been extremely moody. We can be having a very nice day together.But something reminds me of his time with OW, everything goes down the hill from there :-( He says he can't take it anymore. Few positives:We are much more passionate when we are intimate. Discovering his affairs is like a wake up call in someway. For years, I forgot to praise him, touch him, kiss him or hold his hands. Now, we are doing all that. He prints out a love poem to bed every night & read to me. It feels like a second honeymoon. But if I bring up the affairs, he gets upset.He is sicking tied of talking about them. We've become best friends. We spent quite a few nights late into the early mornings talking about everything. It feels like dating someone new. The guy i married 26 years ago was a good family type of man, didn't cheat or lie. He seems to be a stranger in someways.

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    1. Everything you're describing is completely normal. Sad but true.
      And the answer is do whatever you can to move forward. There are other posts on this site about how to stop the "mind movies" (here's one: http://betrayedwivesclub.blogspot.ca/2010/01/mind-movies-stop-endless-sex-tapes.html).
      As for him getting upset when you bring up the affair, he needs to realize that silencing you about your feelings/thoughts is only creating more hurt. And you've been hurt enough.
      It's painful for the betrayer to deal with the guilt and remorse of knowing how much pain they've caused, and many respond with trying to get the betrayed wife to sweep it under the rug, put it in the "past" or "move forward". But the only way out of the pain is through the pain. We can't go around it. Surprisingly, the more we're free to talk about it - and expect support -- the less we need to talk about it. Wanting and needing to talk about it simply means we're feeling vulnerable. And the best thing he can do is sit with you in your vulnerability and share your pain. Hard for him to do, yes. But crucial. And, frankly, he owes you that.

      Elle

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    2. I've had to many D-Days, with my husband most recent affair, and then he lived at moms, kinda thing, I said the only way I would give anything to us was with a full disclosure, done with my(our) addictions dr (Ewen) Ewen when I told him was concerned about it harming. I told him flat out, this is not my first time at the rodeo, I know what moving threw, forgiving, not taking it personally, because it really isn't a personal attack against us. I found by making it personal, I wasn't healing I was stuck, and also with it not being personal, I didn't have to take care of what "wasn't mine to own" (if he got jealous, not mine or if he felt something that he wanted me to fix, like him..sorry not mine either) and allowed me to work on me. I could not take anymore trickle effect. Getting info bit by bit. I would begin to come threw it, only to have another one come to light and I would be re-traumatized again. I've been stuck in trauma for so many years, I forgot who I am. I didn't want to hear how he did her, I wanted to know who, when, where..only HOW I wanted was Honestly Opennemindess Willingness. I wanted for the right reason. Not to punish him or have something over his head. That is so many years ago. My husband agreed to it (shocked isn't the word when he agreed)He got nervous as it got closer. I truly believe he was honest to the best of his ability. I even let him know that if he remembers something later, as long as he tells me respectfully and if I am able to hear it, that I know he didn't mean to withhold it. Ewen told us, that the average is 2.5-3 years before the changes begin, that the bs feels alittle safer, but there will be things that just won't heal. the deep scares will heal but a mark will be there, and it needs to be respected. I've lived in the trauma of his to many affairs and acting out, it was just a cycle/snowball. Ewen said don't be bring it up all the time to punish him.. I looked at him and let him know, I haven't done that in years. It wasn't talked about often, and I stopped the how could you do this to me? Why her and not me, and You did this to me first, so many years ago, I wouldn't know how to now. If its brought up, it is not attacking. part 2 in next window

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    3. I've always had trouble with what the 12 step programs refer to healing from this, being with a sex addict. (told ewen this too) If your married to an alcoholic you know he drinks, if a drug addict you know he uses, and your stamped co-dependent. But if your with a sex addict, they can keep that a secret forever if never found out. But if they are the 12 steps says we have a part in it (as I tell my husband my part isn't not doing his laundry, dinner, or whatever he wanted, my part is not taking care of me and holding boundries) that we enabled the sex addict and we are stamped co-addicts. I wanted to know how to heal from this, to not live in the flashbacks, mood swings, suicidal thoughts, depression, body pain, triggers, and not knowing how to get over it. If you have a husband who brings his wife of 20 years into a counclors office and she has been living a life with the kids growing up, her husband loving her, being a great provider and always there the perfect (ok never be perfect but you know) and tell her all about her husband extra maratial affairs, then turn to her and imply that she has a part in it too, that she is just as sick as he is, she is going to go into a frinzy and maybe kill herself. I found a book called.. Mending a broken Heart.. also, PISD.. Post Infidelity Stress Disorder, and it hit everything right on the head. Guess what we are not crazy, we are not wrong, we are not powerless (12 steps says we are powerless, not what helps heal) We are no different then someone with PTSD, if you have that already then you are more apt to have it for this too. The flashback and nightmare, the triggers, the crying the wanting to run away, have an affair, hold them tight and never let go, disorganization, forgetfulness, scatterbrain is ALL APART of it.Patrick Carnes got the addict part right, but he missed the spouse. The only way to heal from PISD is councelling. The same way you treat PTDS. I told Ewen this, that is how Im going to get threw this.. the sameway I got threw my PTSD. Sorry this is so long, but I'm still disconnected from myself, feel like life isn't real. but the discover was like breathing for the first time. My husband never believed how freeing it would be for him. and for the first time, he is listening to me. Hearing what I am saying and feeling. (telling me the feeling when I don't know) He is compassionate, patient, and knows it will be years before I'm better. I know what forgiveness is and isn't. I feel like I am on the beginning of a new recovery path, with our without my husband. He is truly doing the to do things still. Once he validated my pain, my flashback didn't seem so intense. I can say to him at anytime.. I'm triggered..I'm feeling it like it just happened again. I tell him what started the flashback, he listens and validates it. I think its been 2 weeks now since I said I was triggered. huh.. June 11 2013 was my beginning. any views? Elle?

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    4. Like you, I also had trouble with the co-dependent thing. I just couldn't see how I could be considered co-dependent when I hadn't a CLUE what he was doing? How was I enabling something if I didn't know it was even going on.
      And also like you, the post-trauma stuff made complete sense to me. What I felt and experienced was what one would expect post-trauma. It still is.
      So yes...I think you're absolutely right. And I'm so glad your husband is able to help you with this. My husband has a harder time with it. Thinks I should be "over" it by now. I'll never be over it. I'll get past it...but I'll simply never be "over" it.

      Elle

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    5. My husband would be upset with me before if he felt I didn't let it go, or leave the past in the past, quick enough for him.. like a week! I think the hardest part is getting the validation of how much pain we are in over this. I can say this, When I found out about his affair with his ex-wife, (and she wasn't only one at the time) on Mar 30 2008 my whole world, personality, life was shattered. I never felt such intense pain ever!! But that pain wasn't there until I seen her right after I found out (which was a 2 days later) that triggered the unbelievable rollercoaster. It was the death of who I was up to then. All I knew was I never ever wanted to feel that pain again in my life, and I was never going to give my power over to someone again! With the help of Ewen, and a lot of personal inside work counclling at least once a month, and I kept it to myself. I didn't say much about the inside job. I forgave them both, and I mean truly forgave. Turns out her and I became good friends, and we even all lived together for a while. When we first started talking she came to me crying, apologizing for what happened. She couldn't understand how I was able to forgive them. She was having a hard time with it, now that we got to know each other for who we are, not told to believe. They still don't understand how I could. That is their journey to learn. I've said this time and again, I wouldn't change that affair or moment in time for anything. I'm so greatful that it happened. Not a regret, because of it, I've become a better person, learned what strength I've truly got, and no, he hasn't been able to hurt me like that again. Nobody has. Like I said to him with the one that have come since that day.. I wouldn't expect anything less of you, my expectations are not very high of you, so I'm not surprised. I hope he gets it this time.. seems to, but its in 6 months or if he is triggered. This time I'm not giving into his words actions. He doesn't even need to take it to the last level. He knows that. I really hope everyone here can find the inner piece sometime. Its a hard journey, but so worth it when you come threw it. And it is true, it is not personal against you. You didn't cause it, you can't control it, you can't cure it. It is a betrayal to us, our promises, our investment, our belief or our lives, our security, or well being, but it isn't against us. It really is freeing when you get that it is about them, not us, we are just the ones effected by it. They do love us, they believe they won't be caught, if they give it that much thinking. We can think how could you if you loved me, or all that negative talk about ourselves. We beat ourselves up to validate that we are unlovable, when its not true. Stop the tape, change the tape, I am loved, loveable, worthy, I'm not defective. He is.

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  53. Hi,

    Saw all the posts, i am very trouble now, think you should be able to give me some advise. i have no one to talk to.

    I have been married to my husband for 17 years, last year October he admitted that he has a affair since April. This lady was his 1st love. the best part is that lady doesn't want his to divorce because of the kids but just as lover forever. He wanted to keep 2 of us and he promised to treat us same.

    i was so hurt, i trusted him a lot and yet he betrayed me. We talked and eventually i accepted their unlawful relation because of my kids and my love for him. after 2 months i can't take it anymore so i asked him to choose either 1. He choosed to stay with us. For the first few days they stop contacting each other but subsequently they got back in touched. i found out and confronted him and he admitted that they are back together. i was very angry and wanted a divorce but he refuse.

    2 weeks later he told me they finally broke off and the lady called me to confirm. i can sense that they both love each other a lot. yesterday (after 1 mth from the final broke off), my heart telling me that he still can't get over her, so i confronted him again. He told me that the reason they broke off is because he doesn't want me to hurt the lady. He also admitted that he loves the lady more than me and he can never letting her go.

    I am so hurt, the person i love came back to me not because he loves me but because he doesn't want the lady to get hurt.

    what should i do??? Should i save the married because of my kids? should i just let go?

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    1. I'm so sorry for the pain you're in. And sorry that you feel so alone in it.
      The truth is, however, that you can't have a marriage with three people in it. And as long as he feels an emotional attachment to another woman, he can't be a husband to you. My advice? Let him go. Start to rebuild a life for yourself and your children. He's showing absolutely no consideration for your feelings and is, in fact, telling you that your feelings don't matter to him. Not as much as another woman's feelings. That's your cue to show him the door. And show yourself some respect.
      Good luck. Please let us know how you're doing and feel free to share your thoughts. None of this is easy. But it's clear, in your case, exactly what you should do.

      Elle

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    2. I agree completely with your 5 steps and was very glad to have stumbled across this blog. I am almost one year into this horrible experience. This is my sad little story... Married almost 28 years when I discovered my husband had been having an affair for two years. He sent a sext to one of our sons by mistake who then told his older brother who told me... yes, we had drifted apart mostly because I was working so much to pay for our son's college tuition; so finding out he bought her expensive gifts was very hurtful among the other obvious aspects of this whole mess. We went to marriage counseling for 6 months and I am still seeing a therapist for myself. He is very remorseful and we are trying to rebuild our marriage. I also agree that it is nearly impossible to get the truth .. In my case my husband did everything he could to lie, deny and minimize...quite frankly, this is a terrible club to have to belong to but I am thankful that you started this.

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    3. Yeah...unfortunately this is the club nobody wants to join. But I too am glad you found us.
      I hope you'll continue to weight in with your thoughts. It's amazing what we can learn from each other.

      Elle

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    4. This is a great site and reading all of the posts have been so helpful. My husband had an affair a year ago. I found out by accidently reading an email....devastated to say the least. Within 2 months of finding out about the affair..my husband was diagnoised with bipolar and began AA because he was an alcoholic. He began taking meds and going to therapy. He is very remorseful and is trying to move ahead. I am the one that continues to feel the pain...even though I understand much of it was during mania. Has anyone's husband been diagnoised with bipolar and having an affair was part of their problem? Or did alcohol play an important role in the infidelity? He spent money that we did not have during this time, lost his job, lost friends and as he calls it, "I just went crazy". But like many of the responses above, he doesn't want to talk about it, can't beleive that he would do something like that. He gets very upset when I want to talk about it...but I remind him he has no say as to when I should be over it. It still feels so raw....open wound. There are good days and then a trigger will bring back the past year of horrible thoughts. I want to move on but I still feel that I am being a doormat or a pushover by trying to help him become stable. Then what...he becomes stable...what about our marriage? Do I stay or leave? What about him getting tested for STD's...has anyone's husband been tested and did their husbands resist being tested?

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    5. Welcome Anon.
      You've certainly had a lot to come to terms with in a short period of time. I'll start with you last question. Yes he should get tested and so should you. That's simply being smart.
      For the stay or leave question, that's something only you can answer. Though, at this point, I'd recommend giving yourself more time to really digest what's happened. You don't mention children so I'm assuming you don't have kids. Which, admittedly, makes the decision easier when the time comes.
      Now...alcoholism certainly muddies the waters in some ways, but clears them in others. I would think that alcoholism played a huge role in his infidelities. That's not an excuse, just an explanation. Whatever he did as the result of abusing alcohol is still his responsibility to accept. But no-one makes smart decisions when they're under the power of any addiction, unless the decision is to stop.
      There is absolutely no shame in supporting your husband in becoming stable. However, those of us who've spent any time with addicts can very quickly become co-dependent. Or more likely, those of us who are co-dependent tend to spent time around addicts. So you need to get really clear on where your responsibility TO your husband begins and ends. You are never responsible FOR him. But if you stay his wife and friend, you have a responsibility TO him to always treat him with respect and honesty and compassion. If you're no already in Al-Anon, it's a great place to start. At the very least, do some reading about co-dependency, which can often be a part of any affair, whether addiction is involved or not.
      As for his reluctance to talk over your pain, that is his responsibility TO you, if he wishes to remain your husband and friend. He created the shitstorm, he has a responsibility to support you and help you heal. But, again, you need to get really clear on where his responsibility TO you ends and your responsibility to yourself really kicks in. Ultimately, it's up to you to get your needs met. If he doesn't have the emotional capability (and he might not until he's sober for a while), then find others who can support you in your healing (like here on this site, for example).
      I'm sure there's a great deal of shame on his part for all the nonsense he pulled while drinking. Shame, however, doesn't move him forward, it keeps him stuck in the same cycle that likely led to his drinking. That's all stuff he'll likely deal with in AA. AA will also insist (can't recall which step it is) that he make reparations where possible for damage he caused while actively drinking.
      The key for you when you want him to simply listen to your pain and acknowledge it is to remind him that you're still there, you still think he's a worthy human being who did something that caused you enormous pain. And it would do a great deal of good for your marriage and your friendship if he could help you carry some of that burden. What happens with many addicts (as with my husband) is that the shame kicks in and every part of their being urges them to RUN as a far and fast away from that discomfort as possible. But that only compounds your loneliness and pain. It's two people in pain unable to come together.
      Are you two in any sort of joint counselling? That's also another way for him to be able to safely hear your pain with someone there as support for both of you.
      I hope I'm making sense. There's a lot to say about your situation. I'll try and address it in a blog post because your situation isn't at all unique.
      Take good care of yourself above all else. And please continue to share here. We're a supportive group who knows what you're going through.

      Elle

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    6. Thank you for your response, and yes you made very good sense. You have given me much to think about as I go through this "journey"...but not a "journey" I signed up for, to say the least.
      I will continue to read and share here...nice to know there are empathetic people who understand...and that there is no clear cut answer for everyone.

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    7. My husband has been diagnosed Bi-Polar. I knew he was long before he was diagnosed, as did the phyciatrist. So when he had a major crash in 08 because the shrink already knew him, plus seeing me once a month for 4 years. Yes, the Bi-Polar is a cruel, relentless, crazy thing. His sex addiction would run rampid when in Manic, but could come to a head when the depression was almost full. He is also an addict/alcoholic (to me a drug is a drug..mood altering including sex) He found that the sex addiction was more of an issue then the drinking/drugging. But they all go together in the Crazies of the illness. Weather it is a one time affair, or a multiple of one night stands, it hurts to the core of my soul. For me to stay or go.. I was asked by my therapist, and my husband during Discovery why I stayed. Even if I knew of only a handful, why didn't I leave him? Why did I stay. Well as my therapist knows, by the time I found out about a affair, we where doing good, moving forward, talking, working as a team. I is the worse thing to find out heartbreaking stuff during a heart respecting time. I would end up tramatized again, which would trigger another one of his eposides. What a endless circle of insanity. They both acknowledge that and said it made sence. Then I told them the other reason was God had not told me it was time yet. My husband knows that his secrets can kill now. (literally and spiritually) Your only as sick as your secrets and they grow in the dark. Its only been 2 months since the discovery, but he tells me everything now. If I ask a question, he gives me the truth. Hurts me or not, it's his truth. I don't ask anything I am not prepared to know. He calls if he is triggered, tells me if depressed, informs if emotions or thoughts change. I've learned more about the man and myself in the last 2 months then in the last 2 years. He takes his meds, see's the specialist, and fights his want to be dishonest, or contact one of his "stashes" He asks me if I'm ok, if needs to let go of a demon asks me if I'm ok to hear something that could be hurtful. and catches himself if he is about to lie. He is an open book for now. And it only took me 12 years to get it, to get where we are and to finally feel normal again. He knows I will move threw the hurt, that he caused, but instead of giving me a unrealistic deadline, he has come to my saying.. In God's time.. not yours.. not mine..in his. Ive been working threw this for many years, and more to go. It is nice not doing this alone for once. It is suggested not making any changes during the first year unless you in danger. I think when I can sit quietly, not in the crazies, no angry, sad, despair, just with myself and ask the question stay or go, if I have the go, with calmness, and relief, then it will be time. What works for some may not for others since our pain is the same, the rest is similar and no one knows a quick fix. Some would say yeah just leave, again that is not a quick fix. The only thing is time. about 3 years.. sigh.

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  54. It's been 5 years since I discovered my husband was having an affair. We'd been married for about 35 years, We had sold our home, were building a new home in a new state, and living in a 3rd state while building. His affair was with someone who lived long-term with another man. She lived states away. Although they saw each other on a fairly regular basis - much of the affair was phone calls, tm's, emails etc. ....it lasted 5 years. I have no friends to talk to about this. We have both done counseling. She continued to try to "get to him" via cards, letters, phone calls - and every time he could not believe that SHE would do that. He know understands what a mean manipulative woman she was and is. He devotes himself to me - yet I still have a fear that if he sees her he will melt and do back with her. MULTIPLE times when they were together he'd break it off and she'd lure him back in. He was in a masochistic relationship with her. Most day I do all right but then there are others when I have down days. Thank you for giving me a place to talk.

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    1. It's pretty normal to have "down" days, especially in the early years following discovery of a spouse's affair. But given that five years have elapsed, I'm wondering if there's something more that's bothering you. Do you feel he's learned from his mistake? Does he have safeguards in place should she contact him again -- or someone else violates your boundaries? Do you feel he's completely transparent and honest? I think the "multiple" times certainly does a number of us -- it's hard to feel safe when our spouses have allowed themselves to be lured in more than once.
      Nonetheless, I think this is worth a little more contemplating/digging. Try and get to the root of what's really bothering you. Is there some reason or some trigger that some days are "down" days?

      Elle

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  55. My husband had an affair for 6 months with a co-worker. She shared with him all her marriage issues and how lonely she was. He being a weak creature - fell for her hook - line - sinker. We have had 5 years to get past this - but it still hurts. He sends flowers weekly, confessed his faults to our family, cries all the time, tells me DAILY how sorry he is and how lucky he is to have me in his life. I still HURT... When does it move on? He hasn't had anymore relationships with anyone - and will surrounder to a lie detector when I request it. I don't understand it... but I want to stop hurting...

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    1. Not sure if you're the same "anonymous" who wrote above, but I do think that by five years out, if this is still hurting (and if he's still doing all the "right" things), that something more is going on. Perhaps his infidelity triggered an old trauma that was never fully healed? As my therapist often says, if our reaction seems out of proportion to what's happened, then it's like about the past, not the present.
      Time to dig a little deeper into what's not healed.

      Elle

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  56. Hai I read your post iam an indian my English is not good but I think you understand my problem my story is culturally little different. We arranged married befor 14 years when I was 16 and we are spending our life in dubai with our 2 kids.from2011 to 2012 we lived india coz his business was some serious issue.me and kids live in city and he lived our farm house.last January we came back dubai befor 3 days I was reading his mail coz it was common mail for us so I refresh his chats and some chats came it was disgusting.i dont belive my husband 8 years back he chitted on me and we move on..I asked I cried I did all te things that a women do in this situation,but my husband crying in my feet 6 months everything stopped he is not doing it,but iam confused he knows ny situatoin very well I can't go back to my family I dobt have qualifications do job but most important thing is I love him..but iam lost and feeling terrible. 2 nd time this happening I told my husband iam stying coz I dont have other option what I do how I habdle this I cant tell any one from inside iam daying tell mecplese

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  57. Elle I send my letter please help me please

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    1. Anonymous in Dubai,
      I'm so sorry for the pain you're in...and for the situation you're in.
      Can you talk to your husband about why this happened eight years ago? And why it's happening now?
      No matter his reasons, you are not to blame for his choices. But research shows that those able to talk about the situation and be completely open and honest with each other are much more likely to heal from it -- assuming the person doing the cheating stops and takes steps to ensure it doesn't happen again.
      Given that you feel like you have no choice but to stay (and that you love him and want it to work out), it's wise to take every step you can to better understand your marriage and to get him to understand how painful his cheating is to you and, potentially, your children.
      Is there no-one at all you can talk to? Family or friends? I suspect this situation is a lot more common than you think.
      Keep reading here. Being betrayed can feel incredibly isolating and lonely, even more when you're in a country that doesn't give women much of a voice.
      And please know you're not alone. There are, literally, millions of us going through the same story.

      Elle

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  58. Thank you for your replay no I cant talk to any one coz we are a reputed family from India if some one know a bout this then every one will blame me coz anything happends to marriages the society blame the lady.thank god this is happening in dubai which a veryyy good and supporting country this is not the matter of countries this is the matter of my family which I dont no how I handle.i always tell him I never go from this country coz here I get my maximum freedom and I dont scared about anything its a beautiful place can u pls help me step by step what I do and how I do? please

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    1. There isn't really a step-by-step guide, though you're right that there should be.
      Is your husband willing to talk this over with you? Is he still seeing the other woman (women?)? Is he being honest about what he's done? Until all that happens, there isn't much you can do to heal your marriage.
      For you, however, it's important that YOU don't blame yourself, no matter what any family/country believes. This is about hurtful choices HE made to go outside of his marriage.
      In the short term, please make sure you're eating properly, trying to get sleep and generally taking extra special care of yourself.
      Counselling is generally a good idea -- whether on your own or with your husband (if he's willing) to help you talk about this in a more calm setting.
      But frankly, the best healer is time. It simply takes time for the sting of betrayal to fade. But it's important to do what you can do for yourself to help time work its magic.
      Don't beg or plead. Treat yourself with the respect that you expect him to treat you with. Do your best to keep things as "normal" as you can for your kids (you didn't mention their ages...I assume they're young??).
      And don't hesitate to ask specific questions of me. I'm not familiar with Dubai so I don't really know what resources are available to help you -- eg. counsellors, books on how to heal from affairs and so on.

      Elle

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  59. Hai the above post gave me an idea,so iam going in a way that I think I can save my marriage.you know its been 6 months he stopped the relationship with her,he his telling its only calls and chats coz of his frustration its nothing to do with me but you know the chats were very bad no need physical realation chats r inf.my husband is too gud elle I dont no what is happening to him in between..iam doing all ths things for him and my kids and my house but iam sleeping separately which is killing my hubby may be your correct time will heel evrything.
    I thought u dont no anything about dubai when I was 16 I married and I came here its the city that gives women freedom and respect this a home away from home for me..I love this city u dont scared of anything going out for late ice cream experiment new things no scare for lonely women .tha city gives you evrything you want if you wish for good evrything will be good .elle u know this cith is the most amazing thing happened in my life..
    elle iam doing so many experiments to save my marriage I will inform you what happend how I save it yes for sure I will save...anything helpful u have tel me please. .

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    1. I hope you're able to ensure that you get the respect you need to help you heal. Let us know how you're doing.

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  60. Hello everyone!! I want to start by telling you I have just 8 weeks ago found out my husband had multiple affairs. However, I noticed a lot of us want answers and want them on our terms. I was the same. One of those women was my "best friend" I didn't know what to do. I found comfort in The Lord after much prayer and reading the bible and prayer I came across someone who was in a similar situation. She gave me a book to read, it is call Every Man's Battle by Stephen Arterburn. This book is amazing it has helped me understand how a man works and why they have affairs I encourage you to read it if you haven't already. It has helped me move forward and also helps me to be able to be of some support for him someone he can rely on. When I have more time I will share my whole story. I am healed I am more in l am more in love than I was 7 years ago when I married him. Thank you for your blog you have truly been a vessel of support to many who have none. I pray you are blessed!! I will be praying for everyone of you and even the MEN. Thank you again!!

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  61. Hello everyone , Meand husband had a happy married life for 8 yrs . he had to travel to houston for a business for4 months . ileft himalone for twomonths and he has fallen in relationship with a girl and he has decided to get seperated from me . he says there is nothing wrong in you . ichangedafter coming here and he feels that he is not attracted o me anymore. but he still cares a lot for my health . is it possible to win my husband back.

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    1. I'm not much for "winning" a husband back. I think, if both you and your husband are willing to work hard, you can rebuild your marriage. But he has to be willing.
      He could be deep in the fog of an affair, in which the affair partner seems exciting and interesting (though it's more often that he feels exciting and interesting when he's with her) and it's possible that he'll smarten up and realize that she's not so great. But I think the smartest thing you can do is take care of yourself, give him the space he seems to want and move forward with the separation. If he chooses to come back, you can determine then whether or not he's worth it.
      I'm sorry for this. I know how painful it is. I hope you'll treat yourself with the respect that he should be treating you with.

      Elle

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  62. Anonymous I found out my husband was having an affair with a family friend approximately 1 year ago. As far as I know, the affair lasted for 2 years. We have been married for 40 years. I don't feel that I am doing much better than I was last year at this time. I was completely blindsided by the affair and didn't have a clue. That really bothers me that I was so naive, but I completely trusted him. I looked at our cell phones records one day and noticed that there was a number that he was calling a lot. When I found out it was our friend, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. At first he denied it and lied and lied and lied. I still cry a lot and feel like I still can't believe it. The only thing that has gotten better is that I don't scream and carry on and start fights with him all of the time like I did for many months. This just happens occasionally now. I feel depression and grief most of the time because now I feel like I am holding the pain inside.Some days I think I can get through this and stay with him, and other days I feel like how can I stay with someone who could lie and cheat and pretend to love and care about me while being intimate with someone else? I don't know how to get to place to not take it personally. I feel like I don't really know this person that I have been with for all of these years. Who is he? I thought by this time I would know whether I want to stay in this marriage, but it seems like my mind changes from day to day or even from hour to hour. I had no idea how devastating infidelity can be. I have read articles where they say it is worse than the death of a spouse. I thought my husband was some who had my back and would always be there for me. I question my judgment about anything these days because I was so easily fooled by someone I trusted and thought would always be there for me. Thanks for letting me rant.

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  63. In searching for answers, support and help I found this site and I have to say its comforting to know I'm not alone.
    I have been with my husband for 24 years since I was just 15, married for 18 yrs this year.
    3 and a half yrs ago I discovered that he was engaging in online emotional affairs with at least 8 women from all around the world. I had known something was going on but spent 6 months biding my time and waiting for him to slip up and drop himself in it, which he inevitably did. My world collapsed, I was completely devastated. He begged me to take him back and try again which I did with the support of marriage guidance. I could not understand the root of his issues as i thought we had always had a good relationship? I gave my husband an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start afresh, but only if he disclosed all his infidelities to me. He went into great detail about what happened but never admitted physically being with anyone else. My gut told me he was lying but without evidence I had to take his word for it.
    We worked hard over the next 3 and a half years and my husband retired from a 22 yr career in the military and began working offshore as many ex military men do. I can honestly say that I had never been happier, we were starting a new life, madly in love, hopelessly romantic with an amazing sex life and plans for the future.
    6 weeks ago he came home and admitted that he hadbeen in contact with 3 prostitutes whilst working offshore and was now concerned that he had caught something!!! To say my world was shattered would be an understatement! Over the next 2 wks I basically interrogated him and was astounded with the information I learned. For 23 years of our relationship I have been lied to and cheated on. He continued to lie his ass off through marriage guidance for fear of me leaving him as he knew the truth was too shocking. Over 23 yrs he has kissed groped and arranged meetings with over 50 women. 11 if these women he has slept with, one of which was a 4 month affair whilst we planned our wedding another over a 2 week period whilst away 3 weeks before we tied the knot. The military life has enabled him to facilitate his cheating and sex addicted lifestyle and moving to an offshore career has obviously re-ignited his need and given him opportunity to bed other women. Until he worked offshore he had not been away since the marriage guidance. He is obviously someone with poor self control and is a blatant opportunist.
    He now is desperate to change and try and rebuild our marriage but if I'm honest how can we rebuild what was a lie from the beginning? ? I love him with all my heart but I just don't think I can ever trust him again? I know ( through my interrogation) more details than most women could handle, but I needed to know so I could assess if there had been anything that was just us? Or if he had done to them things that I thought were special between us? There is very little left on a physical level that only we have shared and even on an emotional level after the online affairs. Since the revelation he has had a complete mental breakdown and is now receiving psychiatric treatment, so discussing our relationship isnt a priority right now until he is better able to face the consequences of what he has done. Where do I go from here?? I love him and hate him all at the same time!
    I am a strong and independent woman and being alone isn't something that scares me. We have 2 children and I know he will provide financially for them. I just don't know who I am any more let alone what I want?? I feel my whole life has been a lie!

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    1. I'm glad you found us. I know your situation well. I discovered my husband's infidelity has been going on as long as I'd known him. And I remember thinking my whole life was a lie. Part of moving forward, for me, meant going over history and layering my new knowledge on top of it. What I learned wasn't so much that my life was a lie -- it wasn't. My emotions were valid. My experiences were legitimate. And as I got clearer on my husband's feelings throughout, I realized that his cheating was so compartmentalized that, in his mind, it had nothing to do with his life with me.
      Yes, it sounds crazy. It IS crazy. These guys are incredibly screwed up. And without him seeking treatment for it, you've got little chance to rebuilding a marriage.
      However, if he's finally completely disgusted with himself and sick of his double life and willing to do whatever it takes to integrate himself into a healthy whole, then it's certainly possible to rebuild a satisfying marriage.
      My life is something of a "before" and "after" though I think of it less and less like that as time goes on. My husband sought treatment for sex addiction, attended a 12-step group, sought personal counselling...all with the goal to be a better man, father, and husband. He has succeeded and nobody is happier about that than he is.
      The choice of course is yours. But whether or not you stay together or not, it's in his and your children's best interest for him to become a healthier man.

      Elle

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  64. It seems i'm apart of your club, except I'm the only guy in the situation. I recently had a weird feeling things weren't right when my wife no longer wanted to have sex, or even touch (cuddle, hold hands...) and then she gave me the i need space talk (which ended in a i need space world war 3). I left for a night to a friends and when I came back the next day, shortly after she got home and said she wants to go to therapy. However, 3 days later after saying that she cheated again (same person, about 6 months). She said she didnt know she was going to or anything but after she agreed to therapy we just fought more and I admittedly kept on her about the whole thing. I obsess about stuff, I can admit that now.). fast forward to today, 3 days later... we had another blow out when I confronter her about the whole thing with proof she could not deny about the cheating thing. Just to put a little bit into perspective she has borderline personality disorder and some stuff, which i don't completely understand and I hate that i'm defending her on this! Anyway, so she says she ended it with him and told him she can no longer see him and that she really wants us like we used to be, and wants to try & go to therapy and all. However this is where I'm scared, and not sure if there is hope and hopefully someone can give me some type of light or a shoulder... She also said that she is not in love with me anymore because of how it had gotten (apparently my teasing was real hurtful to her and she never felt my equal which i hate to know thats how she felt..it was never meant to be hurtful). I assume that depressed her, it would anyone, and on top of her other issues and depression it just got to a point where after crying int eh shower for she said for months she pushed her feelings out to where she doesn’t feel the pain or anything. But at the same time is trying and wants therapy together.

    Now we’re at the point she went to her mothers to stay. she was going to for ‘a while’ but after speaking to her mom it seems she only thinks she will 1 night; her mom and I are talking and her mom for once is completely understanding of my side. But as mentioned I am scared beyond belief about her saying she doesn’t know if the feelings will come back, that she’s not sexually attracted to me anymore…(said it wasn’t about him, it was that he made her feel good and i wasn’t) all whilst at the same time saying she wants to try therapy and wants to get back how we were... although therapy won’t bring it back is hoping something we learn will bring the feelings back. I feel they are still there, just buried deep in baggage.. my reasons are things like she came home to talk about it as soon as I found you and messaged her, she wanted to get her wedding band we sized and cleaned?, when i said i had gotten rid of a few smaller things (cards) she almost started to cry on the spot and went upstairs... Does this seem far fetched, honestly hopeful..? I am so confused, hurt and just sitting here staring aimlessly it seems. I am ready to start the long road to getting past this and working together to heal and become stronger and back to how we once were, but her I don’t know if the feelings will come back.. not attracted but wants to try thing has me confused and worried…. I know now, looking back, I messed up at times a lot and didn’t listen to her when shed say teasing was hurtful bc i couldn’t grasp how it was when i never meant it to me, or how somethings made her feel less then equal to me. I know we weren’t in the best place when it all started and maybe I was blind, stupid, ignorant and didn’t want to see who ti was, but I know how, and I know my effort is there for this. Im just so scared about what she’s said… not sure if it’ll come back, not sexually attracted.. can you can back in love? Can it really be there just buried deep and her pushing feelings out has ti super deep down…?

    Please help a lonely husband try to see if there’s light a the end of not=(

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    1. You're not the only man here, though you are outnumbered by the women. You're, of course, more than welcome here.
      I'm sorry for what you're going through. Betrayal is excruciating. Everything you're feeling -- the fear, the pain, the confusion -- is "normal" under the circumstances.
      It sounds, however, as if you're taking a good look at the role you played -- not in your wife's cheating because she has to take full responsibility for that -- but in the state of your marriage. When one partner feels unheard, unvalued, unimportant, he or she is vulnerable to the attention of someone else. Affairs, so often, are people falling for how they feel with the other person, more than the person him/herself. They like feeling sexy and interesting and exciting.
      I hope you two can work it out. It sounds as if counselling will do you both a whole lotta good. There's absolutely hope -- but you two each have to be committed to rebuilding a relationship built on honesty and compassion and respect. You have to treat it almost like a new relationship and relearn many aspects that simply aren't working, as well as acknowledge your own baggage and deal with it. Hard, but not impossible.

      Elle

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    2. I know i had a part of it, i can't try to deny that nor do I want to, the initial situation that set it off, in a way. I know i have some stuff to work on, but I'm terribly scared because of the I'm not in love, nto attracted to you thing. She herself even said therapy can't bring it back, but maybe somethign we learn can.. does that seem far fetched? I want to communicate better yet, i want all of the better things but can any of it really bring back those feelings? We both want it to go back like it was before it got to this point, but those few words rip away 99% of the hope and light i saw. How can you want to work on it, have it go back, after 6 months of saying you have no feelings like that left and the actions? Maybe it's just me... The space part I am also concerned about. I know space can do good, and time. however because of those words she said Im scared shell leave again (1 night wont do anythign but get me out of her hair basically, and I understand) and after 6 months what would even make her truely want to? She said she cut everything off with him last night but i will obviously have my doubts and as much as I want her to stay home for the next while vs go out with her friends I know asking will only make it way worse. I don’t trust her, but asking her to stay will make it way worse because it will just be fight upon fight. Any advice?
      As i was typing this she messaged me and said she wanted to come back and she missed our life …. that 'you’re part of my life.’ so took a chance and said i know but what about the feelings part (with me) and she said yes.. but it was a little unclear. yes she misses me, yes they ar evoking through… blah! The thing is, she said she misses our life, I’m part of her life,but that doesn’t mean she has those feelings (like no bit peeking through) i would think, because she could have left and not come back all those months ago but did.. Maybe I am over thinking this, I tend to get OCD with things that are important.
      Thanks for listening

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    3. James, We ALL get OCD around this. Our thoughts go round and round and make us crazy.
      I would urge you to get counselling yourself. It's understandable to get fearful that she'll leave. But I get the sense that your fear is deeper than that. Like real abandonment stuff.
      Whatever she ultimately decides to you, you will be fine, I promise. That's not the same as saying it won't hurt. It will. But you will be fine. The key is knowing that you are enough, no matter what anyone else says. When you come to a relationship with that conviction -- that you are enough -- it changes everything. You can still learn to be a good partner. You can eliminate behaviours that are hurtful to your partner. But if you're always holding on to them out of fear, then it's not a healthy relationship.
      Please also recognize that she has betrayed your trust. If she truly wants to rebuild a relationship with you -- to "have what we had" -- then she needs to do some hard work too, starting with total transparency so that you know the relationship is over and that she's being honest and open. If she's not willing to do that, then she's not truly willing to reconcile.
      It's up to you whether or not you give her time and space. Have you read about the 180? You can read about it here: http://beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com/the-180/
      It's a good way to get your own head clear..and make it clear to your partner that she can't have it both ways. That you're worthy of respect.
      Give it a try. And please find yourself a counsellor who can help you through this. It's hell...but it can be easier with those to guide us along.

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  65. Maybe I'm crazy for going back and believing in this after what happened, but she keeps giving little things that give me hope, like wanting to come over (she's at her moms for now) normally after dinner to spend time together, wanting to go to therapy together saying i miss you so much and all... Anyway, I had another question hopefully someone can help me out with. While i'm angry at the situation, i honestly am not furious with her.I understand after looking into it it wasn't about me, or us even. but about her brokenness and finding things she wasn't getting(or didn't feel she was) here.

    But my question is how did you guys (ok, ladies!) get past the stuff randomly popping up in your head. IE the images.. i can be doing something and out of no where i get images of what she did (i mean lets be honest, I have a first person perspective of it heh) and then i feel like absolute garbage for the next while and the images just don't go away for who knows how long over and over. We were at the store yesterday getting something to make dinner (we made dinner and ate together yesterday and I think ti went well) but at one point she walked in front of me and all of a sudden in my head was the fact this actually happened, for that long... and then the images started of it :(

    Any advice to help get through those times, or help diminish it? I know it may sound absolutely stupid, and I know it won't happen, but its almost like in my head i think if we would be intimate it would help push it away slightly, since there would eb fresh memories of us. I know that may make is 100 times worse when push comes to shove if we tried right now, though.. and.. well just say it 'wouldn't work' :(

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    1. James,
      The "mind movies" as they're called, or those snapshots in your brain, are pretty typical. Mine faded with time. I also tended to replace them with more realistic images. We tend to imagine some sort of steamy porn, when the reality is usually more awkward (ie. flabby stomachs, gross noises) and, well, real. You can try behaviour modification techniques -- snapping an elastic on your wrist, for example, which will signal to your brain to not go there.
      Mostly though? Time.

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  66. Thank you Elle for positive words on saving a marriage. I can't stand it when people say 'I hope you make it.' We both need to feel safe in our marriage right now in order to put it back together. We have been to counseling and I am not sure we saw the right person. My husband did learn that there was no way for me to live up to the fantasy he crated with the OW and that he would need patience and a lot of love and kindness to help me get through this. He does not want to dwell in the past but would rather work on making the now and our future better than before. How do I get past this though? I know he is here and doing everything right to make me feel secure but I can not get the images out of my mind of the two of them together. How do I not dwell in the past but move forward? My husband seems to have had the typical mid life crisis. Real feelings, embarrassing label. He admits he briefly went crazy. I can actually sort of live with that. I know I did not cause him to have an affair, but I can't understand how he got where he got. We will work through this. We are working through this. I believe we will be stronger on the other side. I just really want to be on the other side.

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