Friday, December 19, 2014

Cheating...ugh: Here's what you need to know

This is another post by BWC member Steam. As usual...she's nailed it.

by Steam

If you are here, it probably has happened to you, maybe you just found out.
Well..there are some things you might not believe, but you need to know.

You are going to be okay and this was not your fault.

Your husband may come around or he may not but you are going to be okay.
Not today,  probably not tomorrow but one day you will be okay. No, even better than okay.

You don't have to believe it, how can you believe it?  I remember how you feel.  
You feel that you will never get over this, never get through this, never ever ever. How can you?

But if you work with the pain and not against the pain eventually, eventually the pain will give up, having nothing to resist. Maybe pain eventually gets bored and moves along and something else, something better, will take its place, for the most part.
Little by little by little.

Pain does one thing better than anything else.
It breaks your heart wide open.
And there will be room for more and better and well-earned things. Rich beautiful things that belong in there, that might have been trying to get in there for a very long time but you thought your heart was full enough.
A heart can never be too full.
Good things can move into an open heart even if it is stomped on, bleeding and in pieces. Good and beautiful things help it piece back together. Stitch by stitch, second by second, tear by tear. 
It will heal.  
You will heal.

When you work out, your muscle tears a bit and it is rebuilt bigger and stronger, thanks to scar tissue. 

Your heart, I believe, metaphysically does something similar.
You don't feel it now, you only feel the burn but something is happening, something good.

Your fault? No. I don't care what you did. Unless you chose a woman, got her number, got an address, drove your husband over there, made him get an erection and then you inserted his penis somewhere in her body, you did NOT drive your husband to an affair.

Okay? Got that?

I don't care if you put on 50 pounds, let the house fall apart, ignored him, were a bitch, spent too much time at work, turned your attention to the kids, didn't shave your legs every day. Forgot to be his girlfriend and laugh at all his jokes.
You did not make him have an affair.
Maybe you thought you had the perfect relationship and you were both happy! 
Well that sure didn't make him have an affair!

What he should have done is talk to you. 
Sure, okay you should have been talking too.  
We all should have been talking, I am guilty as charged but we weren't talking, at least not about the right, important things.

You are in the same marriage as he is but you didn't cheat, right?
You are in the exact same marraige!
So your marriage did not drive anyone to an affair. 
You did not and I did not have the affair.
He did.
He chose it.
He should have talked to you but he chose not to.  
Nope. He took the easy way out to avoid talking.

Talking honestly is a LOT harder than pulling your pants down for a stranger.
Try it sometime, some time later – the honest talk part, not taking your pants off.

It's hard but you can do it because you are strong.
You had the strength and smarts to Google and find this place, to remember how to use a computer. You got off the floor. That was a good start.
You are so strong.

So, again, look at you!
You'll be ok and this was not your fault.

These are hard concepts, I know.  
And I don't know why it is so hard to get through our heads.  

But it's been said on this site before –  and in a million other places we did not know existed until right now in these terrible times of agony – we did not put a gun to our husband's head and force him to go have sex somewhere else.

The more you read, share discreetly and discover. The more you learn, the more you will see, and hopefully you will hear it from your husband...this was not your fault.
And no matter how you feel right now, my bet is, you don't feel good.
You don't have to believe it but try just a little
You will make it through and you will be okay.
And it was not your fault.
You had a heart big enough to love a flawed person.
So did he and hopefully he remembers that too.
And hopefully he tells you that when you get to talking honestly again or for the very first time.

I promise you. Work at it, work with it, and you will be okay.


  1. Perfect, Steam! Wish I had read this three months ago.

    Those of you who are new to this situation may not realize it yet, but Steam's words are dead on and in time, you'll see that you will survive this and walk out of this nightmare a much stronger and wiser person. Just remember, you're not alone, you can get through this, and there is strength and support here. Take advantage of it.

  2. Nine months since the husband knifed my heart and I can say Steam's words are true. He and I have been in individual counseling and are just now beginning couples therapy. My goal: Communication. We are in our 60's and because of our own personal baggage [and the what we learn as a child stuff is true] we never talked to each other. Got angry, acted out, talked with EVERYBODY else but each other.

    If YOU want to save the relationship, go to therapy. If possible, both parties should see the same therapist. The therapist can sift through the bullshit and find a seed of possibility.

    Would I stay if I was in my 30's or 40's? I don't know. Everyone's life situation is different. Stay grounded and connected to this site. So much wonderful advice and life lessons from other wounded warriors.

    Be strong sisters.

    1. Amen. Now I truly don't feel alone since we seem to be in the same age bracket and are about the same amount of time past D-Day. (And seem to have the same story and the same goal.)

  3. This is a great article but you are so right so hard to believe! Every day is a struggle and I just want to feel better soon!

  4. Steam this is probably one of the most important post on this site. You are so right it gives us all what we need straight talk that is true.

  5. Thanks for the article. My d day was 8 days ago. It been hell since. When I sat down with H he made it seem as if it was my fault. He told me I had lost the spark. He claims that he only met th OW once and everything else was whatsapp messages. The affaor has been going for 2 months now and I dont believe him when he says it was only emotional not physical. I am broken I dont know how to get up. All my trust is gone. This past week he has been trying really hard to make things right. One minute I find my self talking to him like we are fine the next minute I look at him with hate. How could he do this to me. If he has issues with me he should have discussed them with me that to look fo someone else to chat with. He has since deleted any traces of OW but I feel so insecure. I dont know if the affair really ended. Right now I am in bed alone , I dont know where he is, his phone is just ringing. Even if he is with friends I wont believe him anymore. I really want to work this out and he say he does too but his action say something different.

    1. No way. He doesn't get to go out without letting you know where he is and then not answer his phone. He's either in the marriage -- and willing to whatever it takes to regain your trust -- or he's out of it. No matter what he says, this is NOT your fault. He chose to go outside your marriage. That's on him.
      And frankly, I wouldn't believe him either re. not physical.
      Lost the spark, my ass. He had the choice to talk to you about this lost spark. And he chose to cheat. need to lay down some groundrules for reconciliation (if that's even what you want). And they include total access to his devices and total transparency from him. You know where he is, who he's with and what he's doing. There's just no other way to regain trust except with him showing, repeatedly, that he's where he says he is.
      He doesn't get to set the rules of reconciliation, you do.

  6. 10 weeks in and I'm more at a loss than ever. If I suppress what happened, I can be civil; otherwise I'm just so angry and hurt. We are childhood sweethearts...together for almost 25 years. At first I found out about 17 women he cheated with since the birth of our son 2 years ago. Then, he admitted to being a sex addict and having cheated with 100s of people, starting with before we were married.

    But whereas he said he had a problem at first, since seeing a CSAT at the sex recovery institute the last few weeks, all he wants to do is blame me for not having enough sex with him. Our sex life wasn't great to be sure, but lying to me for 15 years and sleeping with 100s of call girls certainly didn't help. He keeps saying that it was all compartmentalized and nothing affected the love he felt for me that he still feels for me. But all I can see are the lies and everything is tainted.

    Though he says sorry and that he's remorseful, he doesn't seem like it at all to me. He says that he wouldn't have acted out had his sexual needs been met even though he never expressed the needs in a meaningful way.

    And he keeps telling me things like, "It's already been X weeks." And "If it were me, I wouldn't act like this. I'd want to make each day going forward better and just move past what can't be changed." And each time I hear something like that, I feel enraged.

    He tells me that we've had a beautiful marriage and that I'm the one destroying it by rewriting my memories now as I look back and feel like it was a lie. He says it wasn't a lie. The only lie was about sex.

    He is to attend a two week intensive for sex addicts in January because I told him he needed to do it. But he keeps telling me now that he's not a sex addict. He doesn't feel like there are any issues that he has to work on except communicate on having his sexual desires fulfilled. I'm not feeling like the therapist there has helped him with any reflection at all. I'm waiting for him to reflect and to have remorse. Am I crazy for expecting that?

    I'm starting to wonder if he has narcissistic personality disorder instead. I don't feel like I can move on with him without him understanding there are a host of issues that he needs to work the fact that he's so dishonest and has no friends. He says it's not that complicated. It was just sex. And he says that his therapist told him he has to learn to forgive himself, and I'm like wait I thought you weren't a sex addict. And you seem to have forgiven yourself just fine.

    Any words of advice? Is he a lost cause? Still in a fog? In denial?

    1. Wow. He's pretty much covered all his bases. He's a sex addict and therefore not responsible -- oh wait, no he's not, he just needs to learn to communicate. Oh and could you please get over having been lied to our entire relationship so we can start making it better.
      Jeesh! This is nothing at all about taking responsibility for the incredible breech of trust or acknowledging just how excruciating it is to learn that the person you trusted more than anyone has lied and cheated forever.
      I don't know what he is...but I don't blame you in the least for expecting a whole lot more than he's delivering. It would be insane for you to NOT be wary and devastated and confused and deeply, deeply hurt.
      My husband also gave me the "I need to forgive myself" stuff, which, on some level is true. But that doesn't mean "I need to abdicate responsibility for the pain I've inflicted." Any 12-step program for addicts begins with taking responsibility for your actions and then making amends to those who've been injured.
      It's up to you whether you wait until he completes the intensive program. It might be the wake-up call he needs. But even if it is, it sounds as if he's a master of deflection and self-delusion. There's a whole lot of broken-ness there that he needs to either own up to and commit to fixing or carry on with his messed up thinking.
      In the meantime, it's not wise for you to move on with him unless you see serious and long-term change and commitment to healing.
      I'm sorry. I know you're in such incredible pain. But, as Steam insists, you will get through this.

    2. anonymous 1 and 2, these are PERFECT examples on how this was NOT your fault. I could just SCREAM every time another one of us finds out about a betrayal and although it was NOT your fault, why the hell do WE have to carry this burden. It is SO unfair.
      Anon 1---screw this "lost the spark" crap. Why is that all on you "you lost the spark" What that????
      We ALL lose the spark and its our job to keep rekindling and not build a damn bon fire with someone else. I know its not easy, we all get it ruts and sometimes need to relearn things, but jeez, come on! NOT Your fault. I am BEGGING you to see a therapist , and hopefully with him. For him to think that after 9 days he should be out with his friends and not telling you where he is-- he is out of his mind---sorry, he is trying to shift the blame to you. that infuriates me. who is calling him and why is he not answering his phone? Can you get access to it? you should.

      Elle is right, YOU set the ground rules and YOU get some help getting through this (therapy) with or with out him. Don't you dare let him make you feel like this is your fault. Its not. He's acting like a big baby.

      Anon 2. I have no idea where to start.
      To "forgive himself" he first has to take responsibility--but as Elle says he's blaming it on a disease he may or may not have depending on his mood. YOU are the fine one, YOU are the normal one
      The mood swings-- For days I needed to keep my husband at arms length. I knew wanted to stay with him, (which shocked me) but I could not touch him or even look at him. I had to plead with him to stay out of my reach because I slapped him twice before I knew what I was doing. Something I am not proud of. I had not slapped anyone since I was about 8.
      Anon 2-- If it helps one bit, more on mood swings. your mood swings are normal--this is a trauma. do not suppress that pain, do not---your hurt, your pain is true and that pain is real and needs your attention and TLC and it needs to see the light of day.

      OMG he says you didn't have enough sex? who COULD with someone who needed to hire 17 women while you were married and 100s before that???...your husband is the one here who is not normal. Yes its impossible for us to understand how they can compartmentalize---but YOU are in one of those compartments, and he is totally blowing off your cubicle. this is BS. I'm sorry, you didn't ask me, but he doesn't seem very remorseful, "its already been X weeks"? compared to his 17 women??? Have you mentioned if you were him you wouldn't have hired escorts to try to fill whatever he thinks needs filling and how he thought this would help your beautiful marriage? are you in therapy too? I would try to join in his in joint counseling , because this is a two sided story, and I believe your side needs to be heard.and its hard for ONE person to work on a relationship at all (if that is what he is talking to them about) ..and you need to talk about it, and who knows what his therapist is REALLY saying to him. My H too had to forgive himself, but I tell you what, it was not the first thing on the agenda.

      You ladies are both perfectly normal, strong, and amazing, ok?
      you are with crazy making and perhaps toxic men.
      time will tell.
      I will hold you in my thoughts and my heart, I promise.

    3. Hey Anon,
      Is he attending a 12 step group like Sex Addicts Anonymous or Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. My H was finally able to see the truth about himself when he sat in a room of other people who were just like him. The 12 steps not only allow them to recognize their disease, but to take responsiblity for themselves and their behaviors. Sex addiction recovery takes years and can be a lifelong battle.
      I highly recommend it. If there is no group near you, then there are tons of books and readings. But that is if he is willing.
      However, my recommendation is for you to focus on yourself. There is a group for partners of Sex Addicts called COSA ( It will help you separate yourself from his behavior. It will allow you to not get caught up in his blaming of you. Understand that addicts are all about blaming others for their problems. You can refuse to be a part of his blame cycle by focusing on yourself and your own stuff.

  7. I am 3 years past D-day and the pain has dulled. I can eat, sleep, smile and laugh again. I know that I am ok. But, the one thing I have to learn to let go of is that his affair was NOT MY FAULT! Thank you, Steam.

  8. Thank you Elle and Steam. I needed this and so appreciate it.

  9. thank you steam... youre amazing at choosing your words!
    i am now almost 4 months post d day, and what you write is absolutly true. there are good days and bad days, but i understand now, nothing was my fault. not a thing. i certainly wasnt the one who found the OW for him... i would have chosen someone much classier, prettier, with more self respect!

    i will be ok. i can see that now. there is light at the end of the tunnel, and although there are many cloudy days, the sunny ones are shining brighter and brighter.

  10. anonymous post 1:

    it has been 4 months simce i found out about my husbands affair. he has not left my side. correction, ONCE, and once only did he a friends place. he answered as soon as i called, he called me, he sent me pictures of himself with the people he said he would be with. all to ease my mind. all to regain an ounce of trust back. all to show me he loved me.
    you cannot put up with the BS of him not answering to you in all he does currently, afyer EIGHT MEASLY DAYS!!! hold your head up, and set some immediate ground rules. if you want to reconcile, this is the only way! it infuriates me that he did not tell you where he is.
    thinking of you.

  11. I have never really been all that invested in the holidays in my adult life. I am Jewish and my family hasn't really been all in the same place to celebrate in years, but since I am with someone whose family celebrates Christmas, we have to go back to his parents home for the holidays. His family has a chaotic history and he gets points for surviving it. Unfortunately, in addition to this, it's very hard to deal with being here as it is also the place where "it" happened, after months of living together and planning a future. Same house, same room, same bed.
    I usually don't handle it all as well as he wishes I would, but I get through the events and errands and family gatherings.
    Last night I was just laying in bed watching tv after my SO had fallen asleep next to me, and I heard footsteps out in the hall. And that was it. That's all it took for me to feel exactly as I had all those horrible nights when I waited up for him, during the time that he would go out with her and often other old friends of theirs. (These people all have some issues.) Those nights and those awful stretches of waiting and just dreaming up all the possibilities of what was happening and what they could possibly be saying about me and laughing at my expense, is another dimension of what life was like back then that I don't think about as often. I guess I've been blocking that more than anything, though the other stuff is at least as painful as that.
    I am anticipating a possible merry Christmas call or text from the lost little girl who took so much of my life and peace of mind away this year, but at least I'll know about it if it happens. She doesn't try to contact him as much as she did in the first couple months after he walked away from her but every now and then when there's an excuse she can justify to try reaching him, it irks me that someone can be so shameless and have such disregard for how their actions have affected other people that she still thinks it's appropriate to have a casual holiday chat with him while she knows damn well that I'm right here next to him. I feel like SHE's the one who should feel ashamed and be too humiliated to ever cross our paths again. SHE should realize she's embarrassing as a person. I didn't just want to hurt her. I wanted to HUMBLE her. When I remember the things that I relived last night, the result of such a subtle trigger, it reminds how much it hurts that HE had such disregard for how devastated I was. The person who was supposed to hate anyone who dare devastated me.
    Most of the nightmares that I've had about this, that I continue to have, tend to be in a public or group setting where she's monopolizing his attention or even being affectionate with her again and basically getting mad or blowing me off when I try to address it. Kind of like taking her side in front of everyone.
    Well, merry Christmas. Sorry to be a downer but just felt the need to post.
    Btw some of you might like girlfriends guide to divorce on Bravo. Watched the first few episodes and it's pretty good.

    1. Better half,
      Like you, some of my worst triggers (and nightmares) involved feeling ignored/invisible while my husband laughed and paid attention to other women. It's horrible feeling -- it's like some sort of existential wormhole. We wonder if we even exist at all.
      But we do. And we matter, even when those we love and trust behave as if we don't.
      I'm sorry for your experience but I wonder if letting yourself feel it has moved you a bit further along toward healing.
      One question though: Why is she still contacting him? Or more to the point, why is he letting her? There should be absolutely no contact. It needs to be clear to her that she is NOT welcome in your lives. Period.

  12. Anon 1 I misunderstood. You are caling HIM and he's not answering? Not ok, not ok one bit.
    Like anon 3 our deal was I could call text him at anytime and he had to send me a picture. Well we had just switched carriers and that didn't work. But then he had to skype me with video. And he NEVER said no. I hope your husband is coming around.

    Better half, I had the worst trigger in months a few days ago, that I am writing about. It was a deep deep hidden trigger and it took me a while to figure out why I was SOOOO angry. You are NOT a downer have been thru hell. Why is this girl still contacting your SO? There has got to be a NO contact clause between you and your SO. She does not get to intrude...this is not her place at all. Your SO has to enforce that, don't you think? I don't know your story. Maybe no one laughed behind your back. And if they did..means nothing. I understand the fear though as humiliation is high on my list of things despised. Men can do this without every considering us (compartmentalizing). My husbands OW did not even know I existed.

    1. Oh, she knew I existed. She met me and still went ahead with it. See back then, there was this one night that they were out and I kept getting what I assume are pocket dials where I'd just hear her laughing. But at the time it happened so much that night and heard her fucking voice so much I thought it might be on purpose, but either way I know she's said things about me and the situation when it was happening. It was all funny to her.
      But anyway, that was back then, but now and since he made the choice to stay, he never picks up or texts her. It happens very sparingly now. So I start to think maybe she's stopped being pathetic and then whatdaya know, she tries to start a conversation via text. He never responds and tells me every time she tries to contact him. The other night when I was feeling insecure about something he offered to let me look through his phone.
      But yes I completely agree with the no contact course of action. I remember them being on the phone when they were still affair-ing (I mean seriously, do I validate it by calling it dating? Hell no) and to still put up with things like that, even if they don't see eachother, is just way too much after going through something like that. It's no way to live and I hope every discarded mistress falls off the face of the earth where contact with betrayed wives/SO's and their husbands are concerned.
      So it's not so much a worry that he talks to her, the texts she sends once in a blue moon don't even read like they're familiar or common to them. I just wish I could some semblance of shame instead of such a lack of it. Idk she's not that intelligent and not very complex so I don't think she'll figure it out for a looong time.
      Triggers are very hard to deal with. Every time I think I'm done, that I've run through everything in my mind and in my memory that could possibly sneak up on me, there's something else. This especially went this way in the first couple months after when I kept having details of the situation come back to me. I hate my brain.

  13. I have never believed it was my fault. But what I struggle with, over three years past dday #1, is that I did choose to marry him. He was a distancer all along -- something he readily admits -- and I was the pursuer, changing my behavior to keep him reeled him when I'd sense him pulling away. I was aware of that, but I chose to overlook it. And for years, it did seem that he'd changed. I was happy. I thought we were happy. If I hadn't discovered his affair, I would still be happy. So although I completely realize it's a brokenness within him that led him to betray me and lie to me, what I blame myself for is overlooking what now seems like a huge red flag.

  14. Jennifer, do not feel alone, I and I am sure many of us have 20/20 hindsight. I did this with a previous boyfriend for years. I was lucky to get out with any self respect intact! With my husband, he was such a wild child I should have known better, but when a "bad boy" really says he has changed and will give it all up for YOU, it's hard not to believe.

    1. Thanks, Steam, I appreciate your response. I'm so grateful to have this cyberplace to come to where I know others understand.

  15. Jen & steam, I'm in the same boat. My husband was a huge flirt. He is a charming attractive funny man & I should have seen it coming too. He wasn't a bad boy at all in high school or college because he wasn't popular with the ladies at all. So once he became a cardiologist and all of these nurses, pas, techs, & medical students he was flirting with started paying attention to him as a handsome successful potential mate (even if they wouldn't admit to him or themselves & even if they were already married with children themselves), he let it get too far. But his flirting has been there even when we were dating. I had red flags before we were married but I ignored them. Hindsight is 20/20, but if 50-70% of men cheat, who's to say that the person u would have married instead of him would have been any more faithful? For years I suspected things weren't kosher. Try living with that guilt-- that I was in denial for years because I was SOO afraid that he was cheating.


  16. So I know this blog is for betrayed wives. But since my wife discovered my affairs a couple months ago, she's been reading it religiously, quoting it, sending me various posts, and using it as her form of therapy. She's also seeing a counselor but not taking the counselors advice as seriously as this blog. So your words and community are impacting our lives in ways unimaginable.

    I'm sure I'm not the most evil husband on here, but I'm evil enough. We started dating when we were 16, married at 26, and are now 41. During that time, I had a one night stand when I was 24 and then started cheating in earnest in my late 20s and throughout my 30s. It started with escorts, and eventually, progresses to affairs a couple years ago. My wife discovered the affairs and based on the advice of this site, begged me to tell her the whole truth. We had started to make amends and move forward when I told her about the escorts. Apparently, 17 affairs in 2 years was something that could be understood, but 15 years of a weekly encounter with different escorts wasn't. I think the universal advice for full disclosure is poorly advocated on this site. Certainly it's right for some, but for us, it's going to end the marriage.

    Somehow, my wife understood the emptiness in our marriage for theater before and the years after our special needs son was born. While there's no blame on her, when I tried to talk to her, she couldn't hear me as she was overwhelmed with life, our son, and the belief that I was some kind of saint that would never hurt her.

    But I'm not a saint. I'm a flawed, lonely, and often selfish person. And living in a sexless marriage for so many years made me feel jjustified in seeking sex outside the marriage. And then, living in an emotionally empty marriage for the last few years made me feel justified in seeking out emotional validation with others. I know what I did was wrong, but I need to say this:

    I could never imagine how devastated my wife would be. If it were me, I could've and would've gotten over it. A few weeks of tears and then I would have tried to either rekindle the joy, or move on. But months of hatred is not something that's in me and not something I think should be in anyone. Life is precious and short and somehow, my wife believes this blog is authorizing her to dwell on the betrayal for years. I believe that is bad advice. For some, maybe, but there must be woman who have confronted the betrayer, recognized what was absent in the marriage, and worked together to fix it. Forgiveness and trust take years to rebuild, but how long should one agree to live with no effort and no joy and no warmth and no love. For goodness sake, that's how I got here in the first place.

    And now this therapy. I've been in therapy and am attending sex and love addict meetings. Why? Because apparently this blog, without meeting me, is able to diagnose me. Am I a sex addict because I want to have sex more than once a month? Am I a love addict because I want to feel validated as a person and a man by a woman in my life? Or am I an addict because I was willing to lie to my wife for years to achieve these aims? Tell me, Elle, because my wife seems to think you have all the answers.

    In a week, I'm supposed to spend 2 weeks in sexual recovery therapy so my wife can have the answers as to why I cheated all these years. But the truth is, my wife is looking for me to say, do, and act according to this blog. So perhaps you should start your own cheaters camp to train all of us evil assholes how to repent and be remorseful. But as repentant and remorseful as I might be, how is it that the sources of the betrayal are so inconsequential relative to the symptoms? Where is the notion that just because I cheated, it doesn't negate 25 years of all the good things I did? And if there weren't any, then why stay anyway?

    It's great that you provide a forum. And I betrayed our marriage. But your words are making it impossible for us to heal.

    1. I can hear your frustration. What I doubt is that you can hear your wife's pain. She wrote (above) her side of the story. She noted that you admitted to sex addiction and then thought differently about it. I've never diagnosed anyone on this site though I've noted my suspicions. Whether or not you are a sex/love addict is for a trained person to determine. But clearly anyone who's able to lie to/cheat on his wife for close to two decades has a wee bit of a problem, no? An ability to compartmentalize about something so crucial to a marriage isn't exactly a get-out-of-jail-free card. It's a huge red flag.
      Perhaps we can put this into terms you might understand. You've been a great employee. You've shown up on time, done your job, improved the company's bottom line. But you've also been siphoning off a bit of extra money. After all, you work hard. You put in overtime. You deserve it, right? Thing is, you never asked for it. You never sought permission to help yourself to a little extra on the side. Is your company supposed to overlook that because you've been this great employee? Or would just about any company in the freaking world walk you to the door? We both know the answer.
      You're making excuses. You're minimizing the pain you've caused. You're at least on some level blaming your wife for not meeting your needs. Absolutely NONE of that is helpful in moving her towards healing. Right now, this is about HER, not you. This is about you supporting her in the most horrible pain. It's about compassion and empathy for her.
      You might eventually get to a point where you two can figure out just where your marriage went off the rails (was it ever ON the rails?). But you're not going to get there for a long time, not until she feels completely heard and valued and safe.
      My words aren't making it impossible for you to heal, your actions are. Shut up and listen to her. Really listen. Stop thinking you know what's best for her. And then take a good long look at yourself and figure out how you can become a guy who deserves her trust ever again. And then become that guy.

    2. I'm sorry that you're still so far away from understanding what drove your behavior. If you were closer, you wouldn't still be pinning the blame on your wife.

      You don't have a few months of hatred in you? Huh. Seems you had years and years and years of hatred in you, as you admit to cheating "in earnest" in your 20s and throughout your 30s and now into your 40s. I am curious... is there a difference between general, run of the mill cheating and cheating in earnest?

      17 affairs in 2 years, 15 years of weekly "encounters" - and yet you have the audacity to say that some women must be able to recognize what was absent from the marriage and then ***poof*** work together to fix it? What was absent in the marriage? YOU. You were what was absent in the marriage. Fifteen years of weekly "escorts" (hookers) and you think that you were creating the conditions at home where your wife could connect with you in deep and meaningful ways? You think that she didn't sense that she wasn't safe? You think you were there for her, building the marriage you give lip service to at the same time you were lying and hiding? Not possible. Or were you expecting HER to build it magically for you while you were off taking care of your own needs with an endless stream of women? You want an award for the "25 years of good things" you did after spending those very same 25 years lying, cheating and deceiving your wife? Of course your cheating puts ALL of your character into question. Of course it does. That reality might suck for you but there it is. When my husband took advantage of running out to get me a cup of coffee (aaaawwww, wasn't that sweet?) and used that time to text the mistress... well, suddenly it doesn't seem so sweet that he offered to go get me coffee, now does it? See how that works? How can she trust that anything you did was genuine? You have so much work to do and you're busy bobbing and weaving and ducking the responsibility.

      This blog is not causing your wife to "dwell on her pain". Your behavior did that. This blog validates the tremendous emotional assault that so many of us endure after having our hearts bludgeoned by the one who was supposed to protect our hearts. You spent 25 years dwelling on how empty your marriage was and using it to justify cheating and now, after a couple of months, you want her to pick herself up, dust herself off and shut the hell about all that pain, damn it! Stuff it down, suck it up, you left me alone so of course I had no choice but to betray you. That's what you sound like in your post. That's what your wife is hearing. So you know. When you use words like "dwell" you invalidate her pain.

      You're lucky that your wife found THIS blog rather than the plethora of cheater-hating blogs that dominate the websites dealing with infidelity. You give lip service to the fact that forgiveness and trust take years to rebuild and then turn right around and ask how long you're supposed to endure. No one is forcing your feet to the floor. You don't want to stay and clean up the mess you made, leave. Otherwise get in the damn ring and help your wife. Read every book, get yourself onto the Surviving Infidelity website and join the forum for cheating spouse and learn from them. Get to therapy and ask yourself the hard questions. Put her first, for what sounds like the very first time in your 25 years together. Learn what her triggers are and how you can help her through them. Your words will mean nothing for at least the next year but your behavior will speak volumes. Do the work. It'll help you learn to be proud of yourself again.

    3. Wow. Beautifully written. Thank-you for putting into words what I struggled to say. [Applause]
      And thank-you too for reminding all of us about the Surviving Infidelity site's forum for cheaters. There's a ton of smart guys there who'll call out anyone who's making excuses for himself.
      Have I mentioned lately how much I love all you ladies??

    4. While many of us can appreciate your need to move forward, there seems to be a lot in your post that is not going to accommodate that.
      You may or may not be a sex addict. None of us know. It is just one of the possibilities as other husbands of guests on this site have been diagnosed with it not by Elle, but by a professional. It is something that comes up in posters' experience, not just our opinions.
      But I think what's most concerning is that while you seem to have some sufficient understanding of how selfish your behavior was, there is this huge disconnect between what YOU did and the pain that your wife currently struggles to cope with, using this site as one of her resources. We didn't cheat on her for years and years. You did. You have to understand that she settled into a life with you that she thought was safe and would last for as long as you both live, and you let her. The truth coming out about the extent of your betrayal is brutal for both of you, no doubt but her pain is not your pain. They are very, VERY different. There is a direct connection between what you did and her devastation that you need to see. The reason the whole truth is recommended on this site is because she, like all of us, deserve the chance to make the decision on whether or not to stay and what the choices will entail based on the complete and authentic information, in order to have an authentic life. She also needs to feel that you two are in the know, as a team, as it is very damaging to feel that you were more of that kind of team with the other women.
      But I think what is most troubling here is your idea that if it were you, you'd cry for a few weeks and then start anew. That's bullshit. Betrayed men post on here too and they take it just as hard as we do. They are traumatized and they need time. But really, none of us got to know how we would react or handle it if we ever got cheated on. You don't get to either. So you definitely don't get to make that assumption in your own defense.
      Give it time. You don't need to be a sex addict to validate her pain. And honestly, as much validation of her pain and her experience as this site can give her, I'm guessing that yours is what she needs. Once you make a habit of doing so, she might not even need it here as much as she used to.

  17. Aaaahhh, yes. The red flags. We sure had them. I saw them. I spent the first several years of our marriage calling them out. Eventually, I started telling myself that I was paranoid, I wasn't trusting, I was the one with issues. That really does piss me off still, that I silenced myself and told myself I was the one with problems. I know that I did it because acknowledging those red flags would have meant taking action and I wasn't ready to. I was afraid. So, in a lot of ways, I feel like I LET the affair happen by ignoring or justifying the years of behaviors that lead up to it.

    This is just another subtle version of blaming myself, you know? Did I let the affair happen? Hell no. When I found out about it, all hell broke loose and it was shit show in this house. Telling myself that I "let the affair happen" by not dealing with those red flags in the years prior is just another way of putting the blame on me instead of on him. HE could have dealt with his own behavior in the years prior to the affair. He let the affair happen. Not me. Yet I still carry this feeling inside - that I should have done more in the first 14 years of our marriage, that I should have "fixed" everything so that it didn't happen. Jeez. I spent those first 14 years doing everything I could to fix everything so that this didn't happen. Because I could feel it. I knew, like so many of us, that something was "off". That I wasn't on solid ground.

    I am 2.5 years out from DD#1 and things are good. Our relationship is vastly different than it has ever been. But I would still tell you that if I had the choice to do it all over again, I would not. The first 14 years of our marriage, the devastating wreckage of the affair... those were incredibly high prices to pay for where we are now.

    Our marriage pre-affair wasn't bad. Honest to God, in the months just before the affair I was telling people that we were the happiest we'd ever been. I had spent the first decade of our marriage pursuing my husband emotionally. He's a good man but he didn't have a clue how to be emotionally close so most of our issues revolved around me never feeling connected. A few years before the affair, I stopped chasing. I thought that was what he wanted - I mean after a decade I got the hint, right? ;) It wasn't what he wanted - he didn't know what he wanted and certainly couldn't articulate any of it because at the time, he didn't have words for his feelings. He didn't KNOW he had feelings! :)

    We didn't have a "bad" marriage but we didn't have a close, fulfilling marriage either. And so far I still can't say that I'd do it all again - that given a choice I'd walk through the fire of that damn affair again to be here with him. Nope. I love the man. I do. More than I knew. And I am grateful for where we are right now. But given the choice to do it all again, I'd still tell my 25 year old self to run like mad. I exhausted myself trying to get inside my husbands walls for years and when I finally quite trying he had an affair. No, 25 year old self... not worth it.


    1. Leslie,
      I could have written almost every word. I also thought my marriage was good, even great. But I also knew that there was just something I could never quite put my finger on that made me feel...unbalanced. He often couldn't hear my side of the story if it involved him or his family. He was quick to dismiss my feelings if they were different than how he thought I "should" react.
      The up side of this is that many of have been able to rebuild a marriage in which those red flags are addressed. Where we stop blaming ourselves and instead forgive ourselves for only knowing what we could know. "When we know better, we do better," says wise Maya Angelou.

    2. Hi Leslie, it feels scary for me to admit that if I, too, could talk to my younger self, I'd tell myself to look for someone else. I appreciate your words.
      Elle, my husband, too, would dismiss my feelings if they weren't relatable to him. Funny, but I feel like one of the cruelest things he ever did -- and this includes his long-term affair and all the lying that went along with that -- was when, pre-D-day, he contemptuously dismissed my tears as "that crying thing you do." (I had just scraped my car on the gate while backing out. I was crying because everything in my life seemed to be a mess, and now I couldn't even drive properly! I confronted him sooner after that.)

    3. Jennifer,
      Oooooohhhh, I hate that passive-aggressive crap where an expression of emotion is dismissed as manipulative. It's now a huge red flag to me when I meet anyone -- male or female -- who gets uncomfortable with strong emotions or thinks I'm "too sensitive". I've learned that it reveals their own inability to process emotions -- mine and their own.

  18. Frustrated husband, you're going to have to take my word for it when I say I am trying to say this with compassion.
    There is NO way you can know what you would feel if the tables were turned. NO way. I had NO idea that I would react the way that I did and how i felt the following months. When I try to muster up feelings like that now, they are for the most part TOTALLY foreign to me. I have never, and i mean never, not the death or my father, my mother or my best friend COMBINED added up to anything close to mental and physically AGONY I went through. So you are correct, you had NO idea how devastating this is to your wife. With a cheating culture that says 50 to 70 percent of marriages have some sort of betrayal in them, it's apparent to me that not 50 to 70 percent of men are evil. (Women either). You are a guy who fucked up! Welcome to the club of many many men! Do your wife a favor and please read "after the affair". You need to understand how this broke her apart, you need to understand that if you are willing to do the work you have a much better chance of saving the least better than if you tell her to "get over it". My husband had two affairs. I do not know if I could get over 17 in two years, and then add on the hookers...escorts..whatever. But you cannot blame this website for words that you say are preventing your relationship from healing. How can you expect your wife to be over this after one month? It is impossible. The fact that she is still with you is a good damn start, and doing all you can do to help will go a LONG way. Everyone is different. I hope you are doing all you can. I hope one day your wife's can too, but please understand, this is like she just had her soul removed. she has to heal, (just like surgery, but butchered) she has to have time, and please YOU need to support her. Listen to her...answer her. You have nothing to lose. I am sorry your marriage was sexless and distant. I was in a similar boat, and doing the rowing! But I REALLY believed that my H didn't desire me anymore and I didn't want to pressure him. Long story I will spare you, but what I would not give to turn back the clock, and have him address this directly and to the point with me. Had he said I NEED SEX I WANT YOU or I am going somewhere else to get it, I know I would have been shocked out of my mind and would have listened. Too late now, but, today on the one year anniversary d day, today! it was one of the BEST days of our lives together. Where there is hope...there is well,,hope. I wish you and your wife something better than what you had before. I hope she has a massive heart, I hope you have a massive heart and together can somehow start again. I am pulling for you.

  19. I am simply blown away by the post from anonymous husband above. I've started replies to him multiple times but have deleted each attempt, mainly out of respect for his wife. I am simply unable to hide my contempt for this man.

    I'm not a psychiatrist, so I can't decide whether he is a psychopath, a sociopath, or merely a self centered dick. I wouldn't want to be accused of making a medical diagnosis, so I'll just go with the latter.

    Dear self-centered anonymous husband: this blog isn't preventing you from rebuilding your marriage. It's your suck-ass attitude and self righteous excuses. You broke your marriage views. Not once, not twice, not three times, but hundreds of times. You left your wife at home to care for a special needs child so you could find women to make yourself feel better. Tell me, when your various assorted whores, looked at you, what did you see reflected in their eyes? Did they make you feel like anything other than the monster you truly are? Did you switch from whores to affairs because you simply got tired of paying for it, or did you run out of whores?

    You question why it's taking so long for her to heal. My husband cheated once in 26 years for a brief time. He ended it himself. Still, the pain I felt left me shattered into so many pieces that I still haven't found all of them. I can't even imagine multiplying that pain by what you have done. She likely feels that her entire marriage was built on lies. She hasn't healed because the one person she thought would always protect her and have her back repeatedly disrespected her, put her at risk, and abused her trust. She hasn't healed because she no longer trusts her own judgment ~~~the person she chose to give that trust to shit all over it, over and over again, all because he simply needed more sex. How did it feel to leave your wife at home to take care of your child while you fuck everything that moves? Did it make you feel manly, were you able to turn off that voice deep down that was telling you what an abject failure you truly are?

    It's one thing to fight for a husband who made mistakes and feels genuine remorse for having caused so much pain. But, I didn't see any remorse in your post, I saw excuses. The fact that you can't even comprehend the damage and pain you have caused makes me think you don't have a prayer with your wife. How can she ever heal when you have that attitude? How will she ever trust you? When you promised to love, honor, and cherish, surely you knew that meant that YOU would love, honor, and cherish HER ~~~~ not yourself, right?

    I wish your wife luck and happiness. I hope she finds a way to decide what she wants and goes after it.....even, if it's you. She deserves to be happy.

  20. From anonymous #2:

    Thanks Elle and Steam for your responses to me and to the husband. You are very kind to respond to both of us. For some reason, he has decided to blame this site rather than seeing it as something that actually helps me from kicking him to the curb as or another site would advocate.

    We were the couple that everyone envied and he was the guy that proved to everyone that nice guys existed. We didn't have a distant or sexless marriage, but it is true we didn't have sex as often and certainly not during the pregnancy or my since our son's birth. But he does not see how he poisoned our intimacy by bringing all those people into our bed starting from so long ago. But Steam, I I wish he would've spoken up and said something different instead of choosing his path of lies and betrayal.

    He's still blame shifting, still minimizing so I'm not sure what's possible. But I so appreciate the hope and help the two of you have offered. Thank you!

    1. Anon #2, You are so unbelievably clear-headed. Willing to examine your role in the breakdown of your marriage but holding him accountable for his overwhelming betrayal. You're a whole lot farther down this path than he is and that's a problem. I want you to make yourself and your healing the absolutely priority in your life. Leave your husband's recovery aside right now. He'll either get it or he won't but that's nothing you can control. Just determine what YOU need right now. Maybe some space? Or maybe not. But use your energy to heal yourself. It might be wise to visit a lawyer and ensure you're protected financially.
      The thing is you can't force him into empathy and a mature recognition of just how damaging his actions have been for his family. The more you focus on him, the less energy and compassion you have to give to yourself. YOU deserve so much kindness and respect. If he can't give it to you (and it seems he can't), then it's all the more important that you give it to yourself.
      We're so with you on this -- all the way. I sincerely hope he has some sort of reckoning and becomes a man who deserves your loyalty. It's clear that's what you'd like. But that's got to come from him. In the meantime, you just might discover that he's simply not up to the task.

  21. Anon 2, it only hit me after I posted that you have not just a child, but a special needs child, and your husband chose to leave you, what, weekly to tend to his weiner wants? No WONDER there was no sex, with you left caring for you child..EXHAUSTING.
    and this accounts for how many years of the marriage? 2?
    What was his big excuse for the 100s BEFORE you were married? Random Thoughts and yet another anonymous said really what needed to be said.

    Frustrated Husband..the fact that your wife is HERE says a hell of a lot about HER. If I were you I would do everything in my POWER (and sorry, right now you should not have much)miso try to WIN her BACK, and prove your worth it, or let her FLY.

    therapy is SO important, necessary... but it is not the be all end all of all things. THIS is a safe place for your wife. A Safer place might be 3000 miles from you, but she is trying.
    And you should try harder. I might get a little flack about this, but, have you never heard of porn? It's totally fee on the Internet.

    How much money did you steal from your wife and son using hookers?

    I am amazed you posted here, but you're not going to get a lot of props. 17 years of lies and she can't just carry on after a month, and you are aurprised?

    You have a lot of work to do. a LOT, and it's HARD work. Is she worth it? Is your son? Are you worth staying with?

    Anon 2, you take as long as you want girlfriend. As long as you want. There is no time limit on grief. And he has given you a lot of it.

  22. frustrated husband... HOW in the world can you say that THIS extremely supportive club for women that have been betrayed emotionally, and mentally by the one person who was supposed to love them for better or for worse is a bad thing?! YOU are the one that caused the most extreme pain your wife is feeling, and WE are here to support her in her journey through healing WITH or WITHOUT you.
    we are THE ONLY ones who truly understand what and how she is feeling, and hearing you say that after a month its because of this group that healing hasnt begun is a crock of shit. YOU cheated on your wife for most of your sacred marriage with not one, not two, but HUNDREDS of women, YOU are the reason she has not began to heal. you, and you only. my husband cheated with ONE woman, and it has taken me over 4 months to BEGIN my journey to healing. without the support of this group and these courageous woman i would have curled into a ball and admitted defeat. without this group, its possible your wife whom you hurt beyond words, would have left you already.
    if you havent noticed, i assume you havent taken the time, this IS ABSOLUTLY NOT a husband bashing, get a divorce, throw his shit on the front lawn support group. THIS group, frustrated husband is a group that supports one another in a healing journey towards forgiveness, and moving forward to make a marriage work.
    you should be thankful and relived that your wife has found us, and that WE are here to support her emotionally.... because clearly you havent been, nor seem willing to be. like 15 years of cheating with hundreds of woman is immediatly forgiveable.

  23. To the betraying husband,

    Lest u see all the women on this site as being against u, I am not. I do however think ur post comes out of ignorance and denial. None of us ever imagined how devastated we would feel when we were cheated on. Knowledge is power. Don't trust ur therapist, who is one person. I have read MANY books on infidelity (all of them geared toward reconciliation & not divorce). I think many of these would help u see the cheating from ur wife's side, as many are the compilation of hundreds of people who were betrayed. U should also read peggy Vaughn's book as it gives u an idea of what's inside the head of a woman whose spouse had multiple infidelities over years of their marriage. She knew/suspected something was wrong and that ate away at her for years. For years she tried to be the perfect wife so he wouldn't "need" those other women. I tried too. I could never figure out what was wrong with me. Even when my husband admitted to the first affair, I still thought it was our marriage. Only after I found out abt the second did I say to him: so the good new is its my me; the bad new is u have to fix u.

    I hope once u see it from ur wife's perspective u will change ur idea regarding blame.

    By the way, Peggy's husband was not a sex addict. I don't think ur a sex addict. I think ur someone who needs his self worth validated by having sex with many different women. Maybe u can change, maybe not. Only time will tell.

    If ur wife is giving u that chance, be grateful. Be grateful she comes here and not a site of bitter women fill of hatred who preach divorce.

    Also right after d day my husband made repeated references abt kissing my ass. He is right. This does not entitle ur wife to a lifetime of mistreating u, but u do have to kiss her ass in order to show her how grateful u are that she has given I a have to redeem urself. Take charge. Offer to spend more time with ur special needs child. I have 2 healthy kids and I resented my husband leaving me to babysit while he was out galavanting. I can't imagine what she felt. U feel sorry for urself because u have a special needs child? Grow up. That's part of being a parent. Life is t all roses but I bet if u look for it, ur family/ child can be a source of great joy in ur life. But u have to stop feeling sorry for urself. Start looking around u. MANY other women would have left after what u did. Appreciate ur wife for the loving forgiving person that she is. Prove her right to give u another chance.


  24. Also to frustrated husband, full disclosure doesn't mean forgiveness or guarantee reconciliation. For me it is twofold. First, my husband was asking me to take him back and trust him to be honest with me in the future. Well, then demonstrate that u can be honest by starting with the past, no matter how painful. I took a risk by trusting him and was hurt because he cheated. Now he has to take a risk & be honest. Maybe I will stay but maybe I will leave. There are no guarantees.

    Second, u r treating her as an equal. I used to get annoyed when my husband would say or think I was better off not knowing the details or even about his cheating at all. But I felt it was condescending. I have the right to all the info before making a decision to try to reconcile. Also, who was HE to decide for me what I should and shouldn't know. He is my partner not my parent. For so long I felt inferior in our relationship: he had the power & freedom to go out while I was trapped home with the kids. His disclosures made me feel more on equal footing.

    Also, knowledge is power. Knowing details gives me some security that I can detect the next time he cheats. I feel more like I know what to look for. And he can't bullshit me with "we're just friends or I won't let it get to far or it doesn't mean anything" anymore.

    Those are why I found the truth helpful.


  25. Also to frustrated husband, in my last post I was giving u the benefit of the doubt. Although I don't think ur a sex addict & I said perhaps something is missing from ur self esteem, the jury's still out on u. U Amy actually be a narcissistic philanderer who has no remorse & sees women as objects & possessions; u may feel it's ur right to cheat. In this regard, only ur attitude and actions going forward will tell.

    Good luck to u and ur wife.


  26. Not to frustrated husband, but to Elle and maybe any other ladies who take interest in this. The other day, in the morning my SO and I were getting ready for work, and in my spare minutes before calling our cab I came across that frustrated husbands post and a couple of the responses to it, already wanting to write my own. But the first thing I did was mention it to my SO as I thought he might find it interesting, and I was somewhat curious/concerned to see if he had any of his own complaints about me being on this site and taking it as seriously as a resource as I do. Well, while he's not always as intrigued by things I share from this site, whatever that happens to be that day, he paid more attention to this and kinda scoffed at the "I'd be over it" thing for one, and for two, when I asked him if he thought being here was bad for me or bad for us, he was pretty certain that it's just the opposite. He said no, that to some extent he thinks it's really helped in a lot of ways that we may not have been able to figure out on our own so easily. And that since I started posting here that I'm not the total wreck that I used to be more often than not. Such a way with words, my guy. Lol. But still, I thought Elle would like to know that some cheating husbands/partners on here are not only NOT threatened by what is said here, but grateful for it.

    1. BH,
      Your husband is a smart guy. The guys who are threatened by a space like this one (or by a betrayed wife reading certain books, etc.) are those who haven't yet come through their own feelings of guilt and shame about their betrayal. It can be terrifying to realize that your wife just might come to the conclusion that you're not worth the hard work of reconciliation. But that fear is what gets in the way of being supportive. It's what has, likely, gotten in the way of a lot of things, leading to cheating instead of owning up to uncomfortable issues, or facing difficult truths. I'm glad your husband isn't ruled by fear.

    2. Random Thoughts/ L.L.January 4, 2015 at 4:25 PM

      Better Half: My husband felt the same way when I read frustrated husband's post to him. He was pretty surprised at the man's attitude and like me, he thinks Frustrated Husband is going to have to have a major attitude adjustment if he is going to rebuild.

      My husband knows I post on this blog and is supportive of it. Though I'm not sure how many of my posts he has seen, he did actually post a reply to one of my early posts on the October 2 topic. Though I was a bit worried when he said he posted here, it turned out that his post helped me. He realizes that this blog has been hugely supportive to me throughout this ordeal.

      Another reason why 'm so irritated with frustrated husband above: He did this horrible thing to his wife, he went out into the world looking for comfort and shared so much of what should have only been hers with complete strangers. And, now that she needs comfort and support, someone to help her through the most horrible thing she has ever had to endure, he states that it's inappropriate and that he doesn't approve of the source of that comfort. I've got news for him, none of us approve of his source of comfort either. He sounds like an abusive husband that wants to cut off all outside influence so as to control the entire situation.

      I regret (a tiny tiny bit) how rude I was to him in my post above, but someone needs to wake this man up. He seriously doesn't seem to understand the extent of the damage he has done.

    3. "I've got news for him, none of us approve of his source of comfort either." Amen to that, RT/LL.

  27. Wow, thank you for the enthused responses. Random thoughts, your guy's reaction to that post sounds very much like mine's attitude about it. Sort of like "ohh really now? Ha good luck with that man". I think the ones who are remorseful, whose post wouldn't sound like this guy's post, can probably remember back to the fog when they were most self-centered and still trying to minimize. Not necessarily their logic or exactly what train of thought allowed them to justify what they were doing, but the things they told us through the lens of "was that me? Why would I think that?". Which, if your partners behaved anything like mine during the affair/fog, they did and said a lot of things that are embarrassing to them them, no matter how indignant they had been. Because that kind of response (the one my SO had and random thoughts husband had) to their past behavior and behavior/thinking like frustrated husband's is part of what remorse looks like, knowing that they couldn't justify those actions.



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