Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Seven Lies We Believe After A Spouse's Affair

It's hard to overstate how much being cheated on messes with our heads. Marriage experts refer to betrayal as a "trust violation" and note that it's one of the most psychologically damaging experiences. It shakes our sense of safety in the world. It triggers our fears of abandonment, threatens our primal need for security and love.
But though all that is true, we often do the most damage to ourselves. In the wake of betrayal, we tell ourselves all sorts of untruths, based on a deep fear and a conviction that, if we've been betrayed by someone we trusted, there must be something wrong with us.
Not all of us do this, of course. Though among us with healthy self-esteem often go straight to outrage. I remember reading something, post-betrayal, where a marriage counsellor said that he didn't worry about the women who got angry. He worried about the ones who didn't. They, he said, were the ones more likely to blame themselves.
Blaming ourselves can be strangely appealing. If it was somehow our fault, we reason (fallaciously), then if we fix ourselves, our spouse won't cheat again.
Uh…no.
It doesn't help, of course, that our culture piles on. If a guy cheats, it's because his wife was frigid. If a guy cheats, it's because his wife is frumpy. If a guy cheats, it's because his affair partner was hot and performed like a porn star. His wife was a nag. He fell out of love with her. And on and on. On some level, a lot of us believe those lies, even when our husbands are swearing that's not it at all. Harder still, of course, is when our husbands join in, blaming us for their choice to cheat.
Before long, the chorus of lies reaches a crescendo, making the truth almost impossible to hear.
With that in mind, I've compiled a list of the lies…along with the truth.
Which, a wise soul has said, will set us free.

1. The lie: "I'm a fool"
I hear this one a lot. "I'm such a fool for believing he loved me." "I'm a total fool for thinking he'd never cheat." "He made a fool of me."
The truth: You're a loyal wife and friend who trusted someone who betrayed that trust.

2. The lie: "I'll never get past this."
The truth: Yes, you will. It will take time. Far longer than you would expect (experts generally say three to five years…I was closer to five). But within that time, you'll inch your way closer to a better marriage (if you choose to stay) or a better life (if you choose to go). You'll work through the pain and get to a place where you recognize that this wasn't about you. You were collateral damage. You'll get past it to a place where being betrayed is something that happened. A memory. If you've truly healed, it won't even feel like a particularly painful memory.

 3. The lie: He cheated because she must be amazing in bed.
The truth: He cheated because he was seeking something outside himself that's missing inside himself. He cheated because he liked the reflection of himself he saw in her eyes. He cheated because it felt exciting and dangerous. He cheated because he was able to convince himself that it was somehow okay. That he deserved it. That nobody would get hurt. He cheated because he's capable of self-delusion. He cheated because he has addiction issues. Still think it's because of the sex? Read this.

4. The lie: "She must have had something I didn't."
The truth: What she had, you don't want. Being an other woman is rarely like in the movies. While there might be champagne and roses (at least at the start), there's also cancelled rendezvous, erectile dysfunction, arguments, lonely nights and holidays…and a future that's more about promises than plans. What's more, to participate as an OW, you need to convince yourself that you somehow have more claim on this guy than the person with whom he promised to love, honour and cherish. That life (or his wife) is complicating your future together, not him. That all that stuff he says to you is true, even though you know that, at some point, he said the same stuff to his wife. That lying about you and hiding you away is evidence of his love. You want that? Didn't think so.

5. The lie: "He cheated because I gained weight/got pregnant/got depressed/got sick…"
The truth: He cheated because he wasn't emotionally equipped to deal with his own issues. He cheated to escape. Any guy who cheats because his wife gains weight, gets pregnant, is dealing with a disabled child or an aging parent or whatever is a total dick who needs to shown the door anyway. Any guy who cheats is, frankly, someone incapable of having a healthy relationship, one that includes really tough conversations. Marriage has a steep learning curve. Sadly, few of us saw healthy marriages played out for us. So it's hard to know how to broach tough topics, like waning attraction due to weight gain or pregnancy, fear of fatherhood, feelings of abandonment. Many of us don't even really know what we're feeling…we just know we're feeling lonely and misunderstood. An affair can seem appealing. But the smart ones among us recognize that's a dangerous path to go down. That it will cause a whole lot more problems than it will solve. They're the ones who give their marriage a fighting chance before they blow it up. The others…well…we know what happens.

6. The lie: "My happiness depends on him."
The truth: Your happiness depends on you. It always did. Too many of us have bought into pop-song wisdom about finding our soul mates and living happily ever after. Happy comes, generally, with enough soul searching that we exorcise our own demons and discover a deep sense of worth in ourselves, no matter what the world says about us.

8. The lie: "My marriage will never the same (it will be worse)."
The truth: My marriage will never be the same (it can be better). I would have called total bullshit on that a few years ago. I would have scoffed, of course it can be better if he's not sleeping with other people. But really good? Nah.' But here I am, eating my words. It takes a lot of work. It takes a deep commitment on the part of your husband to recognize how badly he's hurt you and how he's damaged your relationship. And it takes a strong desire to want to be a better person. To deserve your love and trust. And you've got some work too. To take a good look at your marriage and take responsibility for your own shortcomings. (This is in no way to say you were to blame for his cheating. That's on him. But there isn't a marriage in the world in which just one partner is to blame for issues within it.) And then, slowly, you rebuild. A few years later, you just might be amazed at how strong that marriage feels. And how deep the love goes.
And that's the truth.



81 comments:

  1. I needed to read this today. Lately my self-talk has been unhealthy. I printed up your post and will keep it handy to read when I feel the self-pity begin. Thank you for the insights.

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  2. Thank you for your post again. As I am getting ready for the holidays alone with my children your blog gives me strenght to keep going, alone. Hung 3 out 4 stockings on matel yesterday. ....... ~u~

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    1. U,
      I know how much pain you're in. But please know that you'll get through this. The day will come when the pain fades. Focus on your wonderful kids. Be strong together. Be grateful for them in your life. Create new traditions. And trust that you can rise above his insanity. You deserve better. (And, when necessary, sneak away and have a good cry.)

      Elle

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    2. Just talk to hubby, I know I know I shouldn't but we are trying to find a therapist for us eventhought he is not giving up on the OW. I sobbed I couldn't help it I am so alone. He wants to have Christmas with us just like Thanksgiving? I said no, as long there is OW I cannot be with him. That is the right thing to do right? I don't want his help either I don't need his pitty. He can have them for Christmas Morning I am European so I celerate eve. I am I doing the right thing?

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    3. I know it's hard. But allowing him to treat you like this is not okay. It's not how you want to live. Yes, I think you were wise to say 'no' to celebrating Christmas together. He can't have it both ways (though it sounds like that's exactly what he wants). Show him that, though you love him and want to be together as a family, you will nonetheless be fine if he chooses to continue to see her. That you are strong. That you are deserving of respect and kindness.
      This will also be a hard time for your kids. Show them that they can feel sad…but still be okay. That though this is tough, you all are tougher.
      Hang in there.

      Elle

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    4. Thank you ! Just wanted to tell that right now this very minute I am fine and enjoying that I am not crying not right now. That one day I'll be fine all day just like it use to be before this maddness....I want to worry about silly things again, like should the holiday card be red or green... I welcome this little break I am having now and realize there will be more crying and more pain but soon little less and then little less again one .. thank you and good night! ~u~

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    5. Hang on to those slivers where the light almost-kinda-sorta gets in. They'll grow and grow. I remember the day I first noticed that I wasn't in total agony. I had noticed sunlight twinkling on fresh snow when I was walking my dogs. And then I noticed that I had noticed something beyond my own pain. I clung to that moment like a liferaft. And it was. It pulled me (slowly and with plenty of resistance) back toward happiness.
      Let me say, u, you're wonderful. You're trying so hard. And we all know you'll get there. The day will come when you'll think only of what colour the holiday card should be…the difference is you'll know how hard you fought to get back to that point and you'll cherish it.

      Elle

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  3. Ugh...This post was so appropriately timed--I am particularly struggling with I'm a fool, I will never get past this, and our marriage will never be the same. I'm a fool - i definitely feel like I was a fool - I am a smart woman, and I suspected long before I actually discovered, and I did lots of sleuthing and spying and never figured it out until it had been going on for a year and a half?!! The few times I probably would have caught him, I talked myself out of it by thinking how crazy he would say I was acting if he found out or caught me. And I wonder if I am still being a fool. How would I know if he is still talking to her, screwing her, etc. They still work together every single day! It doesn't feel like it, and we feel very connected, but they could literally be having sex in the bathroom at the hospital (which they have done before), and I would have absolutely no way of knowing. Am I being a fool to be in this trying to believe that he is on the right track?

    I will never be able to get past this gives me particular difficulty too. I know you have been there, but I swear I sometimes think that I will live the rest of my life without even a half hour passing where I'm not thinking of the betrayal or of them together, or of some special moment or memory we had now ruined and tarnished because I know he was sexting her while we were there, or some moment he missed with our children while he was choosing to be with her. I have done so much to try and let go of the OW, even going so far as to try and help her (as I described in a comment on your previous post.) She just won't go away. They still work together every day, and she just keeps trying, keeps playing games, keeps calling. I feel like I might be able to move on a little if she would just leave us alone. I texted her last week and asked her to please move on with her life and leave us alone, as we have both asked her countless times to do. She texted back and said she is completely in love with my husband and always will be. AGHHHH!! When I told her I felt sure those feelings would fade over time as she realized what their relationship was really about, she proceeded to tell me that the two of them both knew what their relationship had been about, and she didn't need me to understand. They had this magical love affair, you know? Heard all this before? Yep. You got it. She's totally delusional, and she has moved forward from the affair even less than I have, and that's saying something. My husband says I am fighting a battle with her that I have already won, but I feel the need to fight to protect my family, and I just can't help it. For the last week I have felt like I was getting past it, and we have felt really great, but then today, I have had a setback and am wondering again if I can ever get past this. Ugh - so confused.

    Our marriage will never be the same is something I think on a daily basis. I worry that we are forever ruined and won't ever be back to ourselves. Although maybe we don't want to be that us - that's the us that got us into this mess to begin with. Sometimes I feel so happy and feel like we are in such a good place - maybe even better than we have ever been, and then two minutes later, I find myself asking myself if I am just pretending that things are better because I so badly want them to be. I don't know - are we all just pretending until we get there?
    Jennifer

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    1. Jennifer - I read the most recent post on your blog - I wanted to ask you what your husband is doing to help you recover? I read that you're in MC but is he in therapy himself?

      I think he should get another job, if necessary you need to move so that this woman can't be a part of your life. The whole business sounds like a nightmare, you really shouldn't have to put up with it. HE SHOULD NOT BE WORKING WITH HER. Otherwise: you know the bit at the end of The Aristocats where they put the evil butler into a wicker basket and send it to Timbuktu? That.

      with a warm hug, Iris.



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    2. I'm a little concerned that your husband has not quit his job and that you guys have not changed your phone numbers and made it impossible for her to contact you. I had a similar situation and the affair secretly continued because my husband didn't have the guts to make it impossible for her and he finally gave in to talking with her after she threatened suicide. You'll know that you have won when he makes it clear that you have. Right now, too many windows have been left open and she is manipulative enough to worm her way in. I'm sorry she's giving her the chance to upset you and the chance to tempt him.

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    3. Jennifer,
      They really are lies. I promise. It's when we're in the midst of them (and we have that narrative in our head, like a loop, telling ourselves these lies, over and over and over…). But I'm with Iris. The working situation with your husband is undoubtedly holding you back. Can he transfer to a different department at least? As long as she's there in the background, it's very hard for you to feel safe.
      And now I'm curious to see The Aristocats.

      Elle

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    4. Thank you all for your kind words and concern. I think I have had a lot of bad days recently. I guess I probably make things sound worse than they really are. But there are lots of days I feel that way. My husband has really been wonderful. I believe he is doing everything that he can at the moment to help me with my recovery. We are both in marriage counseling as well as individual counseling, so we have three appts every week, which is a lot for us. He comes home every day and tells me about every single interaction they have had at work. (I insisted on this). He has no personal conversation with her- only work related communication, and if she tries to make some personal comment, he tells me about it and ignores her. He has changed their meeting schedule so that they have no choice but to meet in a public space with other people now involved in their meetings (his idea). He ignores any communications from her on the weekend because he knows for sure that it's not work related. He very calmly takes it when I am angry and lash out at him and says how sorry he is that he has caused this mess and how he knows he deserves anything I dish out. When he gets called in to the hospital, he leaves me his office keys, so I will know he is not going there (somewhere they used to meet), he has a gps locator on his phone so I can check his location at any time. And he usually calls me from a land line at the hospital when he arrives, during, and right before he leaves, so that I know where he is (all his ideas). He's been coming home earlier than he has in years, and he is so much more present and engaged when he is with me and our children. All of these things help a lot, and he and I are better connected and more in love than we have been in a very long time, but she just won't get out of our life.

      As far as his job goes, we were initially trying to wait things out. When everything hit the fan, she talked about heading back north to her hometown ( I should mention that the reason she was living here to begin with is to be with her first married man, who she convinced to leave his wife) we knew that her lease ended in November, and we were hoping that she would move back home. But that apparently is not going to happen. In our small town, there are only two hospitals, and since we found out she is going nowhere, my husband has been in negotiations with the other hospital to move over there. In fact, he has his meeting with them tomorrow to find out what the offer is. Thank goodness! I wish it had been as simple as him just quitting his job. It just wasn't for us. We are accustomed to my income as an attorney and his as a physician, and with my not having really been working since having the baby and because of all the emotional distress, his has been our only income. We have a big mortgage, three kids, two of whom are in private school, and we needed another job in line for him before he could just walk away from the current one. So send us some good vibes for his meeting tomorrow. :)

      And for us, moving out of town is just not an option. I am an only child, and we moved back here to be near my parents, who my children are crazy attached to and who are a constant and amazing support to all of us. We also have the most wonderful nanny who has been with my children for years, who is one of my closest confidantes, is absolutely adored by my children and who supports our family in so many important ways. I just refuse to be run out of town away from my entire support system and away from super important people in my life and the lives of my children by some stupid girl who thinks she had some magical love affair with my husband and who has yet to realize she was only being used.

      In any case, this is the absolute most difficult road I have ever walked. Every day, I question if I am ever going to get past this, if our marriage will ever be the same. I think he and I are doing all that we can to move forward, but it would sure as hell be a lot easier to do if she would just leave us alone!

      Jennifer

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    5. I'm glad to hear he is doing so much to distance himself from her. My husband is in the military so I understand not having much of a choice in where you live/work. Thankfully, we are in Alaska now and she is still in Ohio. A distance I wish other wives could have from the OW!! Too bad there isn't a OW relocation program.....like the English had with Australia! Even with us so far away and the ability for him to maintain a relationship with the OW, I still find myself wondering about his inner world. During the affair, he carried on two separate lives and I still worry that he has a separate "self" that loves her and wishes he could have stayed with her. I'm not saying they had real love but that it's his PERSPECTIVE that matters in this instance. He claims he doesn't but I already know that he is capable of lying to my face. Should I just ignore those fears since there isn't anything I can do? I keep asking him to fess up about continued feelings and he just says he doesn't have any, that the affair fog has lifted and that he never loved her like the poems and emails suggest, hates her (he found out after my 3rd and final D-day that she lied about being a waitress...she was actually a stripper, and we discovered her twitter account where is was clear that she was having sex with several of her "friends" during the affair and claiming to love them. So she "cheated" on him while he was cheating on me with her). Yesterday was my birthday and he told me that I was the greatest woman that he's ever know.....still that little voice tells me that she still has a part of him that I will never get back...cue bad day! UGH! This is the true evil of adultery. It gets into your mind and tortures you long after the affair is over. So for me, it's still not over.

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    6. Ice Queen -

      It really is possible to be reunited with your adolescence and feel swamped with emotion, then to recover as quickly when you realise your beloved is wearing an ass's head. I have done this too (not recently) and I'm astonished when I think of it. The problem is that you did not enter the enchanted wood and you have to deal with the stark, adult consequences of this folly. It's very hard, you did not ask for it and you're left carrying it long after he's moved on. At least you know there are many people here who understand how painful it is. I suspect (with the humility of the imperfect) that your husband has a certain amount of growing up to do. He may feel even worse about this in a few years as reality sinks in, and you may well have recovered. I hope you have.

      I suppose we all have separate 'selves' or daydreams we don't declare to each other and until this point it didn't matter. What matters now is that he understands how he came to do something so ridiculous. Being 'present' and only having one life (a genuine one) does seem the best route to happiness.

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    7. To Jen,

      My husband is also a physician. He also cheated, & although his ow moved back to her home state when her residency training was done, the opportunity for them to cheat is all over the place. With them it was sex in one of the on call rooms. Not to make u freak out more, but even w gps on the cell, u don't really know what he's doing in the hospital or whom he's with. I'm 6 months post d day & for the 1st several months he would call me from land line phones so I would see he really was in the hospital. Until I realized unless he's doing it every second of every day, how do I know he won't be going into the on call room once he hangs up. I don't. & even if she moves or he changes hospitals u still won't know he's not doing it with someone else. U have to come to terms with that uncertainty as a fact of life. It has always been a fact if life but we were just naive before.

      Not to depress u further but to make u realize u can never be 100% sure (just as he can't). So instead of focusing on that I'm trying to focus on all the positives that we have.

      -sam

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  4. Thank you so much! Really needed to read this today, as I've struggeled with exactly all this.

    Mara x

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    1. Mara,
      Welcome. And I'm glad you're adding in your thoughts on various posts. :)

      Elle

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  5. Thanks for this post, found out 7 months ago that husband had a 2 year affair that ended 10 years ago, and in that time he has tried to stay friends with her, and never had the back bone to dump her totally as she always threatenend to tell me, over the years I have had middle of the night calls, caught him texting her, although nothing sexual, still so much shit over the years and he always managed to lie his way out of it, she even emailed our home 2 years ago making out it was a mistake, listing some of the things they would do, Friday night beers / nachos, her going on his bike,(which I made him sell) but stopping short of telling it all, that caused a huge argument as you can imagine, he promised never to see her again, I guess I must be colour blind with not seeing all those red flags, then 7 months again, she again emailed "him" (me) at home, by "accident" more or less painting the picture, and this time he admitted it, finally, He said it was a complete releif that he would never have to deal with her again, she would harrass him all the time, by email , phone etc, he said the arguing between them was second nature. My therpaist says she has a personality disorder, and any pot stirring is what she lives on. So we are in therapy, I am in therapy my happy little life is in ruins but I am not broken, is it hard to stay? hell yes, harder than leaving, but I am not giving up on 23 years of marriage just because he thought he could get away with it and nobody would get hurt! Really! he now knows different, and is changing, I can see that now the constant pressure has gone, he can finally concentrate on the what he should have been all this time. It might be too late, time will tell, if I can't get over this hurdle then he is gone, but for now he is making all the right moves, and hopefully I can hold it together and get through it, I know we have a long way to go, but I am not stayng because I am too weak to leave, it is because I am strong enough to stay and see if a heart can truly mend - thanks for your blog here, keeps me going :)

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    1. Alias,

      Yay for you!! It is hard to stay. Something I think most people don't realize until they're going through it. But it can also be enormously gratifying. I'm sorry for all that the OW put you through. So many of them are just so toxic. Though I guess emotionally healthy people don't get involved with married men.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hope you'll continue to weigh in. We all learn from each other.

      Elle

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  6. This was a good post to read today. I am just over 3 months out from my own D-Day, and while there have been some good growing times together, there always seems to be another setback of some sort. We are in couples counseling with a psychologist, and I am also in individual counseling, but currently the good, really good days are far between.

    I am in this marriage for the long haul, despite my hurts. I have no illusions that my marriage will ever be exactly what it was, but as someone else commented, that was probably what got us into this situation to begin with. But I am still in love with that person whom I married 15 years ago, and I believe him when he tells me that he loves me too. We are working on learning how to communicate better, which was a main reason why things fell apart. We are learning constructive things about each other, and I hold out hope that because I stayed, that we will have a more satisfying marriage in the long run. It's the "long run" part that is hard. Nothing seems to come quickly except for setbacks.

    I am envious of those whose husbands can really eliminate contact with the OW, and that is the burden that I bear. My husband's affair was with a coworker, and they still work together quite a bit of time, even though my husband has asked that his schedule be changed so it doesn't happen as frequently. I even dropped by his office the other day to give him his wallet, only to see HER sitting there in the central office where everyone's desks are located. She kept her back to me the entire time, and it's small comfort to me that I wasn't the only uncomfortable person in that room. It made for a bad day for me. So, absolutely no contact is not possible at this time. It doesn't help that this woman's personal life is a hot mess and my husband feels a little bad that he is contributing to it. He is not used to being hated by anyone and I think is still hoping that there is an end story where she is out of the picture but doesn't hate him, and that I can forget that any of this happened. He still has a lot of work to do. [sigh]

    As always, Elle, thanks for your posts. They seem to come at times when I need them the most.

    Jen

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    1. It's interesting what you say about your husband not wanting anyone to hate him. I hear that often (including from my own husband) and I suspect it's part of what gets these guys in trouble in the first place. They get so flattered by the attention…and don't want to "insult" anyone by drawing a line. It sounds insane…but an affair can sometimes feel (not that it IS but that it can FEEL) like the path of least resistance. Rather than work on the marriage. Rather than shut somebody down.
      As for your situation, three months is still incredibly raw. Be easy on yourself. And remind your husband that he can't control what others think of him…and that is loyalty is to you. This woman can hate whomever she wants to hate…and blame whomever she wants to blame. It's none of your or his business anymore.

      Elle

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  7. Jennifer,
    I am EXACTLY in the same boat you are! I feel like I could have written your exact post! I almost feel too nervous to be happy because I worry that it's all fake and the rug is going to be pulled out from under me. Thank you so much for sharing your story and helping me to know there are women feeling the same feelings I am!
    Dee

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  8. Hi Elle and ladies, I have been reading this blog for about a week. It is extremely encouraging to be able to see others going through...and gracefully I might add...this after the affair nightmare. Elle your post about the lies we tell ourselves has been ringing in my head. Particularly feeling like a fool...i have to see the OW and her husband and friends (who played active roles in furthering and encouraging the affair)...one last time as my husband will be leaving his job and thankfully we live in another city now. All these people including my husband carried on with this right under my nose. They were all part, especially the OW, of my circle of friends. For the first time in all my adult life I have major self esteem issues...they are getting better...at least I have my faith. All that to say I think I can face her one last time, with the encouragement here that he liked "the reflection he saw in her eyes" and realizing it was not about me...she was just a new addiction for him. Husband is really trying. Will this get better once we can totally get away from her? It has been 4 months since I read their texts to one another and his poetry to her and her responses to those. As well as looking at phone records and seeing the extent of calling all summer. As fate would have it I discovered all of it the night before he went back to work with her....he works in the school system. I knew from their text messages that they hasn't had sex yet, but it was obvious that she was setting that up to happen in the next weeks and he went right along...couldnt believe it still can't! Why did he not say "No I love my wife and you are married and my boss! He did say no after that and has gone to great lengths to stay away from her at work...he has broken down into sobbing several times...he knows how special are friendship and marriage were, I hear you say it will feel as if it is not permanently ruined at some point? Thank you, sorry I got so wordy, keep it in mostly. J

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    1. J,
      This is where you can let it all out. So many of us keep it in and we need somewhere we can just be honest about everything we're feeling, knowing that others understand.
      I'm sorry for what you're going through. Yes, I think it will get better once these toxic people aren't part of his/your daily life.
      Does her husband know? If not, why not? I'm an advocate for telling the other spouse because I do think they deserve the right to determine if they want to stay married to someone cheating on them.
      And why do you have to see them one more time? While I think it's possible the situation could give you some sort of closure, I also think it'll be really tough…and I don't think you owe it to anybody to show up. Is there someone in that group who is an ally? Who can offer you a knowing smile throughout to remind you that she's got your back? Can your husband promise you that?
      Yes…it can absolutely get better. Your husband sounds like he learned an excruciating lesson (for you; painful too for him). He needs to recognize why he went down that path. It's intoxicating to find someone who makes you feel special. But to resist that shows maturity and decency and wisdom.

      Elle

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  9. Hi Elle, thank you for the encouragement. Yes her husband knows, in fact he encouraged the affair...in subtle ways and then by asking my husband to help him buy her bday gifts and sending my husband pictures of her to set as her contact picture. He is a pastor if you can believe it and insisted on continuing being my husbands friend after the fact. This in fact was a manipulation to have me be willing to continue being friends with his wife. You know...if I can do it why can't you. My husband and I both see now that they were trying to keep the affair going. We were part of their church and know everyone they do...so I think I was in so much shock that it took us 2 months to totally pull out of everything. My Husband works with her too, she is the headmaster of a small school and we have many friendships there as well. Between the church and school, which over lap in relationships it is practically everyone we know! He did tell her and her husband that we were leaving the school and church, after her husband told him that they had an "open marriage"(he is a pastor!!! Makes me sick) Anyway next week is the last school function of the year...holiday show by the students and the school parents are giving us a little going away party...it came as a shock to the school that he was leaving...of course they have no clue about the woman running their school. So I want to say good bye to everyone. We are going to a new church and we live close to family now. My husband is waiting to hear about a new job. We have two young children and take care of a grandma who has dementia and fixing up her old house. We are trying to move forward...would it be a good idea for him to block her # and change his email? I just can't wait to finally get her out of our lives. Still can't believe this is real! Thank you, J

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    1. This sounds absolutely insane! I'm so sorry for what you've gone through. Yes, he should change his e-mail and block her. She and her husband sound positively nuts…and a bit dangerous, given the authority they have in the community. I hate to think of another unsuspecting couple getting themselves caught in this. Is there anyone higher up that you can report them to?

      Elle

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  10. Hi J,
    I am on the same time frame as you. I also found out about the A this summer, before the sex. But my husband with the addict personality, was still under the fog and so 4 weeks after we reconciled, slept with her... twice, while I took the kids on a trip so he could have "space" to work on himself. Then he continued to call her after that, even while he claimed to be working on us getting back together and wrote a no contact letter. Anyway, so many of us have been there and shared similar circumstances. It helps to hear other have the same thoughts and beliefs/lies. That means it is normal to have them but thanks to Elle for pointing out they are not true.
    I also subscribe to this newsletter. This particular link below answered alot of the torturous questions I ask myself after this experience. I found it to be almost a golden as Elle's writing.
    https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/infidelity-why-spouses-cheat?utm_source=Article%20of%20the%20Week&utm_campaign=638ba9f781-aotw_12_11_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ba782628b7-638ba9f781-312870097
    Not beating yourself up is key to healing and moving forward, I believe.

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  11. This resonates so much for me, especially numbers 1, 2, & 8. Like Elle, I never would have believed my marriage could be stronger but it is now and I too no longer crumble in pain when I think of the affair. (I'm almost 3 years out.) There are moments - strong jabs - especially when we're (trying to be) intimate. In those moments I want to give up and I feel with such clarity the feelings of taint, ruin, spoil, hurt, that it will never be pure or good. And then, 5 minutes later, I feel the exact opposite with such clarity too. That's the thing about affairs - in that instant of discovery we have lost the ground we walked on and it's not just hard to trust our spouse, we don't trust ourselves anymore either. And that's almost the worse tragedy.

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    1. Erica,
      I've written (and thought) a lot about the true cost of an affair being our sense that we can't trust ourselves. And re-learning that (or learning it in the first place) is how we gain our footing…and how we become able to move forward with the knowledge that, no matter what happens, we will never betray ourselves again.
      I too still struggle with the intimacy thing. I've ignored it for a long time. But have recently decided it needs addressing. It has remained the elephant in the room. I'll keep everyone posted. I'd be curious to know how you handle it.

      Elle

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    2. Hi Elle - I know you've thought a lot about self-trust. Do you feel it coming back? Maybe not 'back' but 'present, differently'? I do, but do I trust that? Haha! ;-)

      About intimacy, I read early on (maybe the Abrams book) about something like a 'fake it 'til you make it' approach. I slammed the book closed and at the time felt that there was NO WAY IN HELL I would EVER have sex with my cheater hubby EVER again. I had just given birth so we had the 6 week 'grace period' to not even think about it during that time. Then hysterical bonding set in (so weird) and after that the long, dark ice age. And now we're intimate quite a bit (couple of times a week - TMI?) but the problem is that every single time we're intimate my mind at some point goes to the affair - what he did, how did he do it, how could he do it, and on & on. Sometimes it's debilitating and sometimes it's something I just keep in the recesses of my mind and don't even share with my hubby. But I know better - that I need to share it. It just feels like those feelings will never go away. Will I always feel this way? Some people have suggested EMDR as a way to work through this. The EMDR would be for ME and I think I resent that at some level. Why am I the one saddled with these problems when my husband is the one who brought this on? That's probably too much of a victim mentality but the anger I have way down flashes forward when I think of this. All this said, the 'fake it till you make it' approach is there a little bit for me (not in an inauthentic way, by the way - there are big parts of me that wants the intimacy & I do know my husband wants it, with me). How have you been approaching this?

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    3. It's not fair :-(
      We've had hysterical bonding for about 6+ months. As you've said, one of the weirdest experiences in my life. I think it has helped us.
      I'm still the higher drive in our marriage at this point. But it has settled a bit. I too think of the affair every night, whether we're having sex or not. I'm 1.5 years past D-day, but I cry about 90% of the nights.
      I can feel there is progress, but there are a lot of steps backwards. I do believe (most of the time ;-) ) that I will heal eventually!

      Mara x

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  12. Thank you again for another interesting read. It is hard not to blame yourself and think its your fault when someone you love deeply has let you down
    I not only find myself looking at my marriage,but my hole life. I have just cleaned my Facebook friends. Unfriending people that have 'let me down' in my hour of need.
    I have had an 'out bust' at a restaurant when someone that has not been particularly nice to me over the years, sat in my seat and moved my drink down the table. Turning her back on me to speak to the two other women on the table.
    I am a nice person and will only be with people that make me feel good . Even if I end up with half the people in my life prior to D-Day

    I would be interested to hear from someone who's OW was married with children and not single. Is it a different type of affair? Neither of them wanted to be with each other in their lives, so why. They could both be thrown out of their marriages.
    My OW was obviously bored with her life and flattered by the attention she received. The day I knocked on her front door and meet her husband while she was hiding inside, she had spent the day with all her family. Obviously loving my husbands text and 2 missed calls. She had not told him not to contact her that day as she would not be able to talk.

    Jane


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    1. Jane,
      I did exactly what you've done. At first, I cocooned (which I've written about on this site) and then, when I re-emerged, I cleaned house -- got rid of those friends who made me feel anything but absolutely loved and valued. Got rid of commitments in my life that drained my energy and time. I recreated my life. Now…six years later, I'm a lot less busy but a lot more happy.
      As for the OW and the type of affair, it sounds like both your husband and her didn't want to leave their marriage. But your husband needs then to understand just what he was doing? Why would he risk it? What did he think he was getting? How did he allow himself to break his moral code? What lies was he telling himself to make this okay?

      Elle

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  13. Hi jane,
    I too realised who were my true friends post betrayal and I got rid of the ones who I felt only dragged me down. I now choose who I want to be around, friends who let of positive vibes, friends who make me feel good about myself. Life is very unstable in the early days, we need people around us who care who support us whatever we decide.
    I was very vocal about my husbands infidelity telling my close friends, I'm glad I did because they are the ones who are getting me thru this prolonged pain. I'm 9 weeks out and standing strong some days others I'm a withering mess but it's ok I've been thru the worst ever pain and I'm continuing to go thru it. Thank you ladies you are incredible ����

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  14. Just wanted to add another misconception into the ring!
    Our husbands are having a wonderful, sexy, amazing time with the o/w. No, not always.
    At first my husband was flattered by her approach, took it to the next level of meeting her, then the stage further to sex. Although it gave him a thrill when he first met her illicitly, he felt there was no going back from the 2nd visit planned. After they had intercourse, he felt physically sick and his life changed from that day on. He said there was no joy in life, everything was sordid and dirty, he hated the lies he told both of us, he looked ill, couldn't concentrate and he could see no way out. He kept in contact after it ended as he was convinced she would contact me if he didn't keep stroking her ego.
    I found out 18 months after it ended. By this stage he had started having heart palpitations. When I found the evidence he nearly collapsed. He said he never wanted me to find out but he was so glad I did. He said he would have rather cut off his hand now if it could give him the chance to go back and not take up her offer.

    We're working through this but as Elle points out, there are so many lies we believe.

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    1. Thank you for adding that one in. In hindsight, my husband is disgusted by his behaviour. He doesn't look back on it fondly and even at the time knew, on some level, that he was being manipulated and feared upsetting her and being exposed. That's, of course, the danger with getting involved with messed up people. They can poison everything.

      Elle

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  15. Elle,
    Fear is one of the things that surrounds an affair, It took me ages to understand at the time, I just wanted to scream and hurt him so badly. Now I realise that many a time he had to pull the car over to vomit, couldn't always maintain an erection with her...Now where's the pleasure or excitement in that.

    I've not heard of one affair that was with a supposedly " normal person" and they can certainly poison everything around them. Vulnerable men, versus parasitic leeches.

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    1. I honestly believe that my husband's AP is a normal (but wounded) person.

      Mara x

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    2. Some OW are deranged, or sociopaths, or nasty, mean, manipulative, scheming people. But like Mara, I'm quite sure the OW in my story is a normal person. She was in a desperate and unhappy  phase of her life. (I knew her well enough to know the reasons.) She and my husband fell for each other for similar reasons: they each weren't handling their own problems well, and instead of dealing with them head on, they took a path of least resistance to instant gratification, mistaking it for happiness. Each regrets it now. I know my husband is doing the right things to repair the damage he did in his own life. I don't know if she is, but I sincerely hope so -- not for her sake but because it brings me peace to imagine her having improved her attitude and behavior. 

      If that sounds strange, think of it this way: imagining her as the angry person she was makes me feel bitter. So imagining her happier has the opposite effect, making me feel like I, too, can move on. It's not an easy thing to do, but it's something I'm working on and I find it helpful.

      Delete
    3. It is funny, but I read something here about imagining the OW as moving forward as a better person, surrounded by light (or something like that). Most of the time, I don't hold any grudge against 'my' OW, and I think I've (almost) forgiven her. But imagining her as a better person than she was, has made a difference even more!

      Mara x

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    4. Yes, that's where I got the idea in the first place! The idea immediately appealed to me. We do help each other here, so much. :)

      Delete
  16. My husband keeps saying it was horrible he made a Hugh mistake and wishes he could turn back the clock. Biggest mistake and he would have to live with it for the rest of his life.
    He met her twice in a hotel, the first time he said they just fooled around and there was nothing there when she touched him.
    When they were in the second hotel room five weeks later he says it was horrible, it was nothing like us. He could not perform.
    What I’m having trouble with is, if the first time was wrong then why, how did they get to the second hotel. If it was not nice and he knew it was wrong why did they carry on? Seriously, do I need to believe that he did not want to let her down as just written!
    He also has said things to me at the beginning which made what happened more and hurt me badly. He said because I backed him into a corner and he told me what I wanted to here.
    Now he has changed the story to what happened to a lesser story. I now don't know which one to believe. Since I found out on 12th April 2013 all I have asked for is the truth. So why is that so hard! Having two versions to choose from is not how I can move forward and forgive.

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    1. My husband has seriously forgotten most of what he felt or the details (D-day is 1.5 years ago). Since he's come out of the affair fog, he's forgotten so much! So the things he told me in the beginning (the raw, emotional version) are still true, but relived by me and not by him, as she's completely out of hís life.

      I think there will be a lot of answers we will never get, as our husbands don't know the answer either. Totally egoistic and selfish, in an affair fog, living a fantasy life.

      Easier said than done, but try to look for the positives at the moment and his willingness to create a better marriage out of this mess. Spending a lot of time together has both been painful as healing to us.

      Mara x

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  17. Thank you for this site. It made me feel less alone.
    I just found out 3 days ago that my husband of 10 years was having an affair.
    I have not even started to feel anything yet. I just feel numb. I'm not sad, angry, depressed, just nothing. I feel like a zombie.
    He admitted that he was wrong but he is telling ms half truths. The reason why I know this is because I have been going through he's stuff and when I ask him a question while knowing the answer, he lies about it until I show him the evidence.
    It's the typical travelling colleagues situation. The thing is they will be travelling together a lot more due to he's work. How could I deal with that EVER!
    I have 2 toddlers who doesn't deserve their lives to be thrown apart.
    I haven't slept since finding out but I just sit here feeling nothing. I did not even cry.
    I've been having a bottle of wine every day since finding out.
    I'm scared of what I might do to her when I see her.
    I don't want to leave the house because we live the smallest town. We just moved here 6 months ago.
    Yesterday he came home and he almost got upset at me for still not being normal. It's only been 3 days.
    I don't think he understands what he has done.
    I don't eat at all and that might be adding to this lethargic feeling.
    It's such early days for me and I don't know if I have the strength and fight in me to wait years to feel better.
    I have nowhere to go, no job, no money but I also cannot stay in this town. I feel like everyone is looking at me.
    Whereto from here? I would appreciate any type of advice. We've only spoken for about half an hour about this and its done. I don't know what else to say. I just want to go to bed and never wake up

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    1. Please please please get yourself to a counsellor or a minister or someone who can help you. And please stop the bottle of wine a day. That is definitely NOT going to help you. You need to be clear-headed.
      For a start, your kids might not deserve this but neither do you. And they DO deserve a mother who's being treated with respect and decency. It's up to you to ensure that's how you're being treated.
      He doesn't get to cheat, lie and then expect you to be okay with his half-lies. What do you want from him? If you want to rebuild your marriage (though think long and hard about that -- is he a good guy who screwed up? Or a jerk and this is just the latest in the long line of his jerky behaviour?) then you need to insist that there is no contact with his affair partner. He doesn't get to keep traveling with her. That's nuts. And you are NOT the crazy one for insisting on it, though he'll likely try and convince you that you are. Asking you to tolerate that is cruel.
      So…you need to start eating, even just a bit. Toast. A banana. Something. You need to stop the drinking. Try and sleep -- melatonin or a gravol will help.
      And a counsellor or therapist. Someone who can support you through this. We're here, too. We've been where you are. Like you, I wanted to just go to sleep and never wake up. You're scared that you'll never feel good again. But you will. I promise. You will get through this. It will be the hardest thing you've done, but you'll do it. You'll do it for your children. I'm not saying you'll stay with him (unless he's completely honest and transparent and willing to do whatever it takes to rebuild trust with you) but you will make sure that those kids have a strong mother who can show them what self-respect looks like. You will show them that when life throws a grenade that they too can survive and heal.
      Please let us know how you're doing.

      Elle

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    2. Anon,
      I agree with Elle. You need support. You have 2 little ones that need you. This is a marathon and not a sprint. It took my husband 2 months to end the affair after I found out. Right now your husband is mentally sick and you need to be strong and just take care of yourself and the kids. As his wife, you have rights to child support and alimony so you will not be homeless or hungry should you make the decision to leave. I know this is scary. I ended up having to leave with the kids to get the insanity to stop. I also had no money and no where to go. It was a really tough time but it made him finally realize what he had done. You can do this. You are stronger than you think. No decisions need to be made right now. He made a lot of terrible decisions but now you have the power to demand what you need in order to feel safe, whether it is him changing jobs or even if it means outing himself to his employer. You are like gold that is tested in fire. This will burn out all of the impurities. I'm 2 years into recovery and I can honestly say I'm happier now than even before the affair. Don't let this steal one moment of happiness from you and your children.

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    3. I wish I knew about this peer counseling service is the days after my d-days:
      Infidelity Counseling Network, which Elle recommends.
      650-521-5897, ext. 101.
      I have a peer counselor from there and like you, I don't have a good network of close trusted friends in my city. A dear friend, who would have been the one I would have turned to in this, passed away in the middle of this ordeal. But don't underestimate the power of a listening ear, especially if your husband is not being open. I also have a therapist but having someone who I can reach whenever I wanted to have too many drinks or act out, would have been great during the first days.

      Delete
    4. Eat and sleep! I could only manage smoothies at one point. Make sure there's enough fat and protein in it. Eat small bits if you can, because it's going to be worse if you don't eat and sleep (been there :-( ). I also got our pastor in immediately. He's also a GP, so I got some alprazolam from him, to ease the anxiety.

      Do you have friends or family nearby? Talk to someone you trust, even if it's on the phone. You need a circle of (in my case praying) people around you who will check in on you. If not IRL, come to this site!

      Mara x

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    5. I think the peer counselling that's being offered is a stroke of genius by a betrayed wife. Sadly the network is struggling to deal with the volume of calls. Laura, the woman who created it, is adamant that all counsellors be trained properly. She'll be training more people in the new year…in the meantime, try and be patient until then.

      Elle

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  18. Hi MBS, I am so sorry for what you are going through. Thank you so much for the link, everything helps. I get really scared that he will do something stupid like have sex with her. She is still in our lives...she is his boss and 15 years his senior. I just found out after looking at phone records that he has been talking to her on the phone still and deleting it from his cell...which I check daily. I am stunned, I asked him about it and he swears it is just about work...so that he doesn't have to meet with her in person. I do not believe that is entirely true....and why hide it then? He is leaving his job next week and I am planning on setting some boundaries with him. Like absolutely no communication with her via the phone...and having him write down his passwords and all so that I have open access to the phone records. If I see communication after that I feel as if I will have to leave for a while for him to realize that there are consequences. Would you all suggest something like that? And yes, once my husband gets a job I am considering how to report her to someone, even if just anonymously. Thank you for the support. J

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  19. I too am so glad I found this site. So many sites have many bitter people writing in telling us to leave, throw them out, get a divorce. We are 4 months past D-day of an affair which ended 2 years ago when she moved away (My husband knew she was moving when the friendship became sexual. She was unhappily married with a child & had been actively pursuing him throughout their 2 year "friendship"). So many of your articles here ring true to me-- about society blaming the wife, deeming the wives who stay weak and the ones who leave warriors. Last night I read my husband several of the excerpts & he too agreed.

    Thank you so much for this site.

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  20. Hello again, ok I did it... I went for pain shopping right before x-mas and didn't like what I found. Lots of pictures and saved texed, I don't know why he would have them lovely love messages which I haven't receved for years....... now I have her picture burned in my mind (kind of slutty looking ... really?). If I didn't read about the fog and all the other grap I would be more upset... he is perfect case from any book. So I think now I am ready to really show him the door and not wait around for him to make up his mind. I see it now, he is in love or was.... do I really belive him anymore?? not!
    so so sad......and sadest thing is he is mad at me for being mad and finding the pictures. He send me a lovely email about how messed uo he is and how great I am I do miss all that. I miss him but not this mess. Happy holidays for sure..... should he tell the kids that daddy's having a girlffirend and that is why he is leaving us.....? ~u~

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    1. U,
      I'm sorry -- I missed this post.
      His anger is a typical counter-move. It's a way to make this YOUR problem rather than take responsibility for what he did. Don't let him.
      And yes, absolutely take a stand. Draw the line and don't let him cross. Treat yourself with the respect that you demand he treat you with.
      However…please don't make this your kids' problem. It's tough enough for kids to deal with their parents' split without letting them in on the gory details. I know how tempting it is. I know that you want them on your side. But just take the high road. Protect them as much as you can.

      Elle

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    2. Dear Elle, NO I would never used the kids between us. They have two parents that love them so.They are the best thing my husband ever gave me and I love him for that. Someone on blog (earlier writings) wrote that they told they kids and kid's respond .to it ...that's why I asked if he should tell. Our kids know they can ask anything anytime and yes they can talk to friends if they need to.
      Life sucks ! But hey no one said it's going to be easy.
      Happier New Year to you all!
      ~u~

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    3. Kudos to you! I have a feeling you're going to be just fine.

      Elle

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  21. Hi Elle,
    I come by here once in a while when I think I may lose my mind if I don't empty it so here I am again. It's been 3 years since I found out about my husband's affair. I was managing to live in the joys and troubles of now and not really thinking about the timeline. I thought I was getting better. He has been great with the exception of no longer wanting to talk about the affair at all. He talked when I needed the first year and a half but now he gets angry. Says I'm never going to let him live it down.
    Well, two days before Christmas he cleaned out his computer cabinet that is right next to the dinning table. He made a pile of stuff he was going to get rid of but before he could throw it away he got distracted. Well, it was Christmas day and I needed the table cleared for dinner. So....I started picking up the stuff in the pile and came across an unsigned greeting card. It was an apology card. One of those really romantic, emotional kind declaring nothing is more important than the love between the giver and receiver of the card and that the giver wishes they could take everything they said back. Sound nice? I would if it had been for me. You see, I don't get that kind of card. I get jokes and sexually suggestive not romantic and emotional. I asked him about it and he dared to write a note on it and give it to me, ON CHRISTMAS! It took me the rest of the day to be able to calmly tell him I knew he lied about getting it for me and forgetting to give it to me. The truth was that he bought it for her when they had a fight over him saying he wouldn't marry her and he hid it from me and got sick and went in the hospital before he could send it to her. He finally admitted it and said he just didn't want to have to talk about the affair again. So, today I got to sit down and watch a movie that he swore up and down we had watched together and that he said I thought was hysterical knowing I hadn't watched it. When I looked at the write up for it I realized it was on cable at the time he was hold up in a local motel with her.
    So, here I am, a thousand miles away from the woman and every time I turn around there is an attempt to contact him (which to his credit he tells me about) or there is some little detail that jumps out and slaps me in the face. How do I get past this like that? I want to scream right now! What is wrong with him? When he pulled that stupid card out of the cabinet why didn't he run to the garbage, tare it into a million pieces, and save me the pain? Why, when I said I had not watched the movie, could he not connect the dots? Really? I know he only came home because he had no where to go and that our pastor talked him into doing the right thing before she got the chance to say she didn't have to get married so he was stuck with me. I get that he is always going to feel like he settled even if he says he chose me and I know I will never get those kinds of cards or gifts but do I have to have my nose rubbed in it every time I finally get my heart to stop feeling like it may burst? Really?

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    1. I'm so sorry for what you're going through. I can feel your pain through your words.
      I'm guessing he didn't throw it out because, in his mind, it really is over. In his mind, it was something stupid he did that he doesn't want to be reminded of. Sadly so many of these guys refuse to talk about it, not really understanding that by talking about it, it becomes less and less an issue until, eventually, we don't really need to talk about it. By NOT talking about it, it becomes the elephant in the room, growing bigger and bigger.
      As for whether he's with you out of desire or duty, that's something you two need to work out. Are you in counselling? I would strongly urge you to find a couples counsellor who can help you navigate this. You can't undo the past. But you can build a marriage that's strong and deep and based on a genuine love and compassion. But as long as you're feeling like the consolation prize, that's almost impossible.
      You deserve to feel loved, madly and deeply. You deserve to feel like HE's the lucky one that you've given him a second chance. Don't settle.

      Elle

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  22. Wanted to share this radio piece. It really helps to practice reframing painful stories. It's not lying or fabricating, but reminding yourself of the underlying truth. The "lies" above only allow us to self-victimize or bring on our rage.
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/01/01/258674011/editing-your-lifes-stories-can-create-happier-endings?utm_content=socialflow&utm_campaign=nprfacebook&utm_source=npr&utm_medium=facebook

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  23. I am so excited I read this because I truly needed it. I have been married for 14yrs and together for 16. We have 3 beautiful kids together. I am in the military and understand how military life can hinder a marriage, but we were already married when I enlisted, knowing all the cons and pros of military life. Well my husband has been having a 2 year affair and I tried to get past it. Well I know I can, and I only gave him the stipulation of cutting off communication and being honest. He has yet to do that, today I found out he is still talking to the OW and now I have decided it is time for us to separate. He finds something to argue about everyday and says something different as far as the reason for the cheating. I love him dearly and told myself many of the lies you stated above. I think I am more mad at myself for believing him than I am for him cheating. I hope by separating, I'm making the right decision. Any suggestions.

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    1. I'm glad you found us, but so sorry for what you're going through. You can't have a marriage with someone who's emotionally engaged with someone else. As long as he maintains contact with her, it's an uphill battle. You've got two options. Adopt the "180" whereby you practice radical self-care and no longer behave as a "wife" -- i.e. no begging, screaming, crying to him (you can do that here or to a trusted friend); no sex/intimacy. It's a chance to show him exactly what he's losing, but also to give yourself some time/space to determine just where you go from here. You might want to take the time to visit a lawyer and determine what next steps will be should he refuse to break it off. You can practice the 180 with or without a physical separation. The key is to remove yourself emotionally (as much as possible). So many men sit on the fence, somewhat revelling in two women wanting him. Make it clear that the fence is not an option for him. Either he's with you...or he's lost you.
      And hang in there. There is no "right" way through this. Follow your instincts.

      Elle

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  24. Thank you for this pose Elle. I am still struggling to accept and let go of it all and it's been about 5 years since d-year as I call it not d day. He kept going back to her and it was like he was addicted or even obsessed with her. That's made it harder to let go cuz it wasn't as though he made a clean break from her he kept reconnecting the ties to her and each time he did he did it was like the wounds inside my heart were being ripped open fresh again and I began to fear trusting him cuz I couldn't be sure it was truly over with her. I had to step in and force it to happen and boy , did that bitch put up a fight. She was a spoilt rich girl who was used to getting what she wanted and she wanted my husband for herself and she was determined to get him right or wrong. She tried every thing including dying her hair like mine and dressing like me cuz he wouldn't leave me so I guess she figured that to make him love her she had to look and be like the one woman he did love - me. It was stalker behaviour and I was heartbroken cuz not only had this woman helped ruin my marriage but she was basically stealing my life and who I was as she thought she had every right to do so cuz what she wanted she got. And the aching hasn't stopped . It still hurts . But your post has eased it a bit. I am not to blame and I couldn't have stopped it from happening. It wasn't about me it was about the two of them and their choices. I do think I am suffering from PTSD. I just want to have peace of mind

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    1. Five years is far too long for anyone to suffer with this. At first, it's natural to remain fearful and anxious...but with time, we learn to rebuild trust and to recognize that the only thing we can control -- the only thing we ever could control -- was ourselves. And that's okay.
      So yes, clearly something is holding you back from that. Are you in counselling? If not, I think it's time to enlist someone to help you deal with this overwhelming anxiety and fear. This is no way to live.
      For your own sake, you need to let go of the OW -- really let her go. Don't think about her. She was simply convenient and willing. And, from the sounds of it, crazy.
      You were not to blame for what your husband did. From what you say, he's learned from his mistake. It's time to stop punishing both of you.
      Forgiving your husband isn't about saying what he did was okay. It's about saying that you know you can't change the past. It's about both of you learning what you can and can't control and working together to rebuild a marriage.
      I hope you'll seek some help for your PTSD. Betrayal is devastating. But it's time for you to take your life back.

      Elle

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    2. Thank you what a wonderful post! Have been searching a few sites for answers to understand what went wrong in my life. While supporting my young teenage daughter through high school bullying and her spending more time in hospital than not, through choices of "not wanting to be in the world" my husband who works away had an affair, that I discoverd and he denied and then months after I had to pick up the pieces as he got angry at my lack of understanding. Slowly developing from giving up my life for the both of them and feeling like I didn't give my husband enough time, this post gives me great insite and confirmation that I did everything possible to accommodate both of them. After a year and a half I have discovered that my husband is now looking at porn and now I am trying to understand if this is ok or not? or am I overacting becuase I haven't yet healed from the affair? I felt I had been understanding and not demand he change his job and still let him go back to the very spot to work for a year after the affair where I had to cope with him being in the same enviornment, now he is working at least in the same country as I am, but is away for a month at a time and then I discovered he is trying to work overseas again.... while I write this it seems not ok, but its harder to portray to my husband these points when he sees them individually and each situation not connected therefore ok to him. How much do you put up with when he keeps telling me he wants a life with me but shows a different outlook?

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    3. First, a huge hug to you for all you did to help your daughter through a difficult time. My heart aches for so many of these kids who come to a point where death seems preferable to enduring one more day of pain.
      Now...the affair. What has your husband done except stop cheating? Affairs happen for many reasons, but the primary driver is a desire to escape into fantasy. (Which, incidentally, porn is, so I'm calling "foul" on his porn watching.)
      I can't imagine that your daughter's issues didn't also affect him. There you were dealing daily with this, while he was miles away. He might have felt helpless, he might have felt frightened, he might have felt angry. An affair is great to distract from all those yucky feelings...and replace them with fun. If he hasn't sought counselling to help him figure out just what the hell he was thinking, then it's time to demand he get some.
      Thing is, after an affair, YOU get to determine what's okay with you. If he wants you to accept what happened and rebuild a marriage, then it's on your terms. This isn't about making you commander-in-chief; it's about creating an environment where you feel safe enough to rebuild and recommit. You can't do that in a healthy way if you're constantly wondering just what he's up to, and with whom.
      Together you sit down, preferably with a counsellor who can help mediate, and establish some ground rules going forward. You're right that his actions need to match his words. That they don't indicates that there's some work to be done.

      Elle

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  25. This blog is helpful for betrayed husbands too. I'm still dealing with the very recent revelation of a brief affair between my wife and one of her friends while we were going through a rough patch. She's disclosed everything but his name -- because she promised him she wouldn't tell, and worries that I will seek him out to hurt him. For a time she refused to break off all contact with him because she didn't want to lose this 'friend'. Though, according to her, he lives thousands of miles away and the physical encounter was brief and due to an unexpected visit (otherwise it was an emotional affair). HE, of course, is also married and has kids (thankfully I don't -- no little minds being damaged by all of this in my home).

    I've gone through all of the self blame and depression I can stand. Yet I'm still trying to fix the marriage and get past her infidelity.

    However, I often think I'll never get past it. That it happened because of some inherent fault of mine, from my appearance to sexual performance to income. I often imagine the other man is somehow better than I am in every way that matters to her. I get unwanted images of them together in my thoughts even though I have no idea what he looks like or who he is.

    When our marriage was in trouble I went to therapy. She went to a new apartment, and slept with another man. At least she seems remorseful and was able to tell me it happened instead of keeping it a secret indefinitely. I could tell something was wrong as we tried to repair the relationship -- she was guilt ridden and eventually admitted it. Now, we're trying to make marriage work again. But the self doubt, lack of trust, and feelings of hopelessness haven't ceased yet.

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    1. Unfortunately infidelity doesn't discriminate based on gender. Husbands are welcome here too, though I'm sorry you need to be.
      Healing takes a long time. I take issue with your wife's refusal to disclose her affair partner. Part of healing means shutting the door to the affair partner and opening it to the spouse. You have every right to know who it was. Her promise to him should never, ever trump your feelings. If you need to know, then you need to know.
      Healing involves a leap of faith by both partners. Her to trust you not to do anything that will jeopardize her or your safety. You to trust her to be transparent and take steps to understand how she allowed herself to betray you.
      I suspect counselling would be good for each of you. Apart and together. Be gentle with yourself. You've suffered a deep wound by the person you trusted. This was never about you. It was about her seeking something missing in herself...and seeking it in the wrong place.

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  26. Thank you for your post. Its been 4 weeks since I plucked up the courage to email the woman I suspected since day one and my entire world shattered around me. And one week since I saw the texts and the FULL truth came out about the affair. But here's my situation. I'm not married. We've only been dating for 2.5 yrs, living together for 2, we've recently bought our dream house and our engagement ring. Things were headed that way. Yet he was in another relationship when he met me, I was the affair and then he fell in love. But because I played it cool and he was confused he didn't break it off with her for another 5 months and even then out of guilt for hurting her, loneliness because I had a gut feeling something wasn't right and pulled back from him, he kept going back to her for no strings attached hot, passionate, video recording sex for a whole year. When she found out about me last year it stopped. He says he stopped it and has been faithful for the last 10 months but it's because she wasn't available. Althoight she did ask him over a few wks ago and he said no. My issue us that there's no marriage as such but a vow nonetheless, there are no kids except my son from a previous relationship who has never had a father til now and a mortgage. I find it difficult to find happy endings when a boyfriend has an affair. Sometimes I feel like I have no right to all this pain I feel because we weren't married. But the truth is I just can't stop crying and lashing out. Hes doing everything in his power to fix things but Hes now at his wits end with me because of my anger. I'm just so in shock. He was my beautiful perfect man no one, not even his friends or family can believe what Hes done. I'm so lost.

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    1. Whether or not you had a ring on your finger matters not at all. You had the expectation of fidelity and he understood that. And yet he betrayed you. Everything you're feeling is absolutely normal under the circumstances. Allow yourself to feel that pain. Don't tell yourself you don't deserve to feel it. You're not only experiencing the betrayal, you're mourning the loss of the man you thought he was.
      In the meantime, you've got something of an advantage over the rest of us in that your relationship is relatively new. You don't have children together (and therefore custody issues) so you can really think about whether or not you want to enter into a marriage with someone capable of such long-term deceit.
      Frankly, I wouldn't even consider it unless he agreed to long-term counselling to determine just how he allowed himself to deceive you for so long. There's some deeply rooted issues there that I suspect you don't want to deal with unless he's willing to face them and get past them.
      He can't "fix" this...but he can "fix" himself. Insist upon it.

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  27. "you're not to blame..... BUT"

    Seriously Elle? I'm SO SO SO SOOOOOOOOOOOOO SICK of the "but" word it makes me want to self implode. You didn't cause your husband to cheat BUT hey while we're here let's take a look at how messed up you really are as a wife.

    My husband was ABUSIVE for almost 3 years while I tried to work on his cheating and betrayal. There's so much more to say about what I've barely survived. The absolute last word I need to hear in this world is BUT.

    We don't really want to lay blame on you BUT really every marriage has problems. Last I checked I was an abused child, a child raped and almost killed at age 10 YET somehow I didn't choose to use the pissy excuse of sexual addiction or cheat on my husband who suddenly has a few childhood issues of his own.

    I'm SOOOOOOOO SICK of men not simply owning up to the destruction they've done. Period. Not But anything!!!!! That word BUT literally has almost lead me to kill myself.

    But no one cares to listen..........

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    1. I care to listen.
      I think a lot of us care to listen.
      And I'm so sorry for all the incredible pain you've been through. Nobody should have to endure what you've endured.
      But I want to (gently) suggest that you're taking issue with something that I'm not actually saying. I've never said that anyone is to blame for their spouse's cheating. That is a choice the spouse made.
      I can understand how frustrating it must be for you to feel as though you're being told that, somehow, you contributed to his betrayal of you. I'm not saying that. He made a choice.
      But...what I frequently point out on this site that a big part of healing from betrayal is figuring how NOT why he did it but what we can learn from it. We can learn why we chose him in the first place. We can learn why we put up with abuse for three years. That is the "but" that's on us. It shines a light on where we still have work to do.
      The "but" isn't about taking responsibility for his cheating. It's about taking responsibility for ourselves.
      What's you've endured is cruel. The people who should have been protecting you were hurting you. The place where you should have felt most safe was most dangerous. You should not be in a position where you have to un-do all the damage that's been done to you over a lifetime. Nobody should.
      Nonetheless, that's where you are.
      Your pain is real and deep. And this betrayal is undoubtedly re-traumatizing you.
      But...you're a grown up now. You have the resources and the freedom you didn't have as a child. You get to decide what your future looks like -- and whether it includes your spouse or not.
      Nobody has an excuse to cheat. But everyone has their reasons. Whether those reasons are enough for you to give him the chance to be a better man is up to you. The three years of abuse is, of course, a red flag. That said, there is no right or wrong way to respond to betrayal. There is no right way to healing. There is only what is right for you. Just always respect yourself and keep yourself safe.
      If you ever want to share your story, I hope you'll feel safe doing it here. No blame. No shame. Just a bunch of betrayed women trying to support each other as we find our own path to healing.

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    2. Yes I see I did take issue with something you never actually stated. Give me a couple of days to absorb this, I will return to explain further.

      Thank you.
      ~~ GM ~~

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    3. Thanks for the article. My head is spinning with all the emotions from husband's affair. He has apologized but went back to acting the way he did before the affair. I thought everything was great before the affair but apparently I was wrong. He doesn't want to work on anything and I'm left crying myself to sleep because I have no one to understand the pain I'm in. He doesn't want to hear it. He wants to just forget it. That's great for him but I'm ready to have a nervous breakdown. I don't know what to do.

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  28. unbeliveably happy that i came across this post today, this is exactly how im feeling, and its so hard to explain to someone else. in my case its hard because i dont feel like my husband is remorseful. i feel like im still in a state of shock and have not reacted at all and everyday has gone the same besides ME trying to do anything i can to make him happy......but i did nothing wrong...he did....i cant seem to get over that " its not my fault" part.....and i truly want out marriage to work we've been together 6 years and have 2 wonderful boys.

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    1. You simply can't go back to the way things were. If he's not willing to take a hard look at what he's done and take total responsibility for the pain he's caused you (and, whether they know it or not, his children), then it's almost impossible to rebuild a healthy marriage. It will simply be you dancing to please him rather than a true partnership toward healing.
      You are NOT to blame for his affair. There is nothing you could have done/been that would have changed anything. He cheated because there's something missing in him that he went searching for outside of himself. That's it. And until he's willing to face that, you can't be sure it won't happen again.

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  29. Wow, this is a great read and help. I am a husband that has been betrayed by my wife and remove the gender to make the lies we tell ourselves fit both sexes and they are right n the money. I am grateful for this post. Thank you.

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    1. I'm glad you're here but sorry you needed us. Yes, betrayal hurts both genders equally.

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  30. This is difficult for me. We have been married for 25+ years, have grown children in college, and what I thought to be a wonderful marriage up until this past February. My husband turned 50 in Feb, told me he wasn't happy in April but decided to stay anyway, and decided to go out and be unfaithful with a complete stranger in early August. It lasted about three weeks and then all of the sudden the man I have loved for all those years was back, focused, loving, and engaged in our marriage. Though I was totally unaware that he was cheating those few weeks I had several moments where I thought I should go out and find someone - I felt so unnoticed, so lost. I wasn't getting what I wanted at home so I thought maybe I would just go out to see if anyone would even notice me or want to be around me. I didn't think about sex with a stranger, but I did think about conversation, companionship, etc. My heart, my conscience, my values, my love for my family, and my love and respect for him just wouldn't allow it. But I thought about it --- a lot! I also had started checking into our financial situation to see if we could all survive financially if we divorced because I just wasn't happy. So, I was aware that we were both falling apart, just didn't know to what extent.

    Unfortunately, when he tried to end this "thing" the other woman tried to say she was pregnant. When that didn't work she began sending nasty photos of herself. When that didn't bring him back she got angry and decided to find me and destroy my life. She called me at work a few days ago to make this grand announcement as if she suddenly acquired some morals and higher standards. Her word choice and tone suggested that she thought it was wrong and thought I should know because it was "the right thing to do." Funny she didn't want me to know while it was happening. I knew, as soon as she said it, it was true. It all made so much sense. I called him and asked him and he completely admitted everything.

    He answered every question. I had a million and keep thinking of more. It's almost like I think if I hear every horrible detail, I can move on. Not sure how healthy that is for my mental state but he answers every question. He told me he had been with her 4 times over a period of a few weeks, that he had spent about 4 weeks since then trying to make her go away. The more he said it was over the more insistent she became. She told him she was pregnant one day and a few days later said she miscarried. She sent threatening texts and his life was a living hell for several weeks. He said he knew he had screwed up but couldn't get her to understand. He was horrified I would find out and she knew that. So, she told me so I would leave him.

    Neither of us understands why he did it and he freely admits he couldn't understand it even while he was doing it. Was it an age thing? Insecurity about growing older? Wondering if he could get someone else? I'm not sure. I'm focusing on the fact that he realized the mistake, stopped what he was doing and tried to rebuild our marriage way before I ever found out. He thought he could do it without ever hurting me and to be completely honest, I wish he had succeeded. I could have lived my whole life without knowing this. I have never known such broken-hearted, destructive, empty, lonely, pain. I actually felt as though someone very dear to me had died and then I realized it was me. This all happened just 4 days ago.

    The more we talk, the more I face the horrible details, the better I feel. I want to forgive him. I want to fight for our marriage. I have good moments and bad moments. Some people take life day by day, I have been taking it hour by hour. Can we build our marriage up again? Am I too proud to try the I love this man with all my heart? Thoughts???

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    1. Your story sounds like pretty much every story on this site. It's as textbook as they come. That, in no way, is to minimize your pain. We all know how excruciating it is. What you're feeling is completely normal -- the need to know every detail, the up and down of love/hate/rage/pity. Even the crazy Other Woman is, sadly, all too common.
      Thing is, cliches often exist because they're true. And the cliche of not really appreciating what you have until you almost lose it tends to be one of those. Your husband's temporary insanity could have been prompted by mid-life stuff -- mortality, boredom, fear. Affairs distract us from those uncomfortable feelings. They make us feel alive and interesting and sexy. Until, that is, we realize that we're not who we want to be. That we've given up our integrity. Our loyalty.
      Some smarten up and become better people. Others, sadly, do not.
      Sounds as if your husband is in the former category. Doesn't mean it will be easy to rebuild a marriage but it does mean that, ultimately, you've both a second chance to build something stronger. Storms make better sailors, said Shakespeare.
      Life will be minute by minute, hour by hour for a while. But being honest and open with each other is a start.
      You're going to be just fine, Anonymous. Betrayal is devastating but it can also give us new eyes with which to see our spouse, our marriage, our life.

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  31. Thank you for your response and for this forum. I had no idea of how many walking wounded were out here until I became one and found this blog.

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  32. An update.... While my husband answers every question, some obnoxiously repetitive, and tries everyday to repair my broken trust, I have spent some time looking inward and have realized that my actions and careless words may have contributed to the incident. W have spent countless hours talking about our feelings and what we both want for our future. We are moving forward and surprisingly, our marriage feels stronger than it has in years. I feel like the long talks, without anger, are healing both of us. I now believe that it truly is possible to recover from this.

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