Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

After the Affair – How to Forgive, and Heal a Relationship From Infidelity

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After the Affair - How to Forgive and Heal From Infidelity

Infidelity happens for plenty of reasons. None of them good ones. It happens because of ego or stupidity or breakage. Or because of smugness or ignorance or a widening ache or an emptiness or the need to know ‘what else is there’. It happens because of arrogance or a lack of self-control or because of that thing in all of us that wants to feel adored or heroic or important or powerful or as though we matter. It happens because there’s a moment when the opportunity for this to happen is wide open and full of aliveness and temptation and it’s exciting and it’s there and it acts like it can keep a secret and as though it won’t’ do any damage at all.

It happens because of lies, the big ones, the ones we tell ourselves – ‘it won’t mean anything’, ‘nobody will know’, ‘it won’t do any harm’. It happens because there is a moment that starts it all. One small, stupid, opportunistic moment that changes everything, but acts as though it will change nothing. A moment where there’s an almighty collision between the real world with its real love and real people and real problems that all of us go through, and the world that is forbidden and exciting and hypnotic with promises. And all the while these worlds, they feel so separate, but they become tangled and woven, one into the other, and then that real world with its real love and its real people are never the same again.

Whatever the reason for an affair, the emotional toll on the people and the relationship is brutal. Infidelity steals the foundations on which at least one person in the relationship found their solid, safe place to be. It call everything into question – who we believe we are, what we believe we had, or were working towards, our capacity to love, to trust, and our faith in our judgement. It beats down self-esteem and a sense of place and belonging in the relationship for both people, but it doesn’t have to mean an end to the relationship.

Does infidelity mean a falling out of love?

Anything we humans are involved in is never black and white. The versions of grey can make good humans look like bad ones it can make love that is real feel dead for a while. Most people who have affairs are in love with their original partners. And most people who cheat aren’t cheaters. They aren’t liars and they aren’t betrayers and they aren’t bad. What they are is human, and even the good ones will make catastrophic mistakes sometimes. We all will.

Affairs often aren’t about people wanting to be in a different relationship, but about wanting the relationship they are in to be different. Relationships change shape over time and with that, sometimes the very human needs that we all have will get left behind. These needs include validation, love, connection, affection, intimacy and nurturing – but there are plenty more. This is no excuse for an affair, but understanding what drove the affair is key to being able to move forward. It’s a critical part of healing the relationship and any repairing any breaks in the armour around you both that made it possible for someone else to walk through.

Does an affair mean the end of the relationship?

Affairs will mean the end of some relationships. Others will tolerate the betrayal and although they might never thrive, they’ll stay intact. For some people this will be enough. For others, an affair can be a turning point, an opportunity to grow separately and together, and reconnect in a way that is richer, stronger, closer and more sustainable. For this to happen, it will take time, reflection, brutal honesty and an almighty push from both people. 

There are plenty of ways to hurt a relationship. Infidelity is just one of them.

Affairs cause devastating breakage in relationships, but they aren’t the only thing that can hurt a relationship. Sometimes an affair is a symptom of breakage, as much as a cause. There are plenty of other ways to hurt a relationship – withholding love, affection or approval, a lack of physical or emotional intimacy, and negativity, judgement, or criticism. All of us, even the most loving, committed devoted of us will do these things from time to time.

How does an affair happen?

There is no doubt that infidelity is a devastating act of betrayal, but it can also be an expression of loss or loneliness, or the need for novelty, autonomy, power, intimacy, affection, or the need to feel loved, wanted and desired. These are all valid, important needs and in no way represent a neediness or lack of self-reliance. They are the reasons we come together, fall in love and fight to stay in love. They are also the reason relationships fall apart.

We humans exist at our very best when we are connected with other humans, especially ones that we love and adore and feel connected to. The needs for human connection, intimacy, love, and validation are primal. They can be ignored, pushed down, or denied, but they will never disappear. These needs are so important, that if they remain unmet for too long, they will create a tear in the relationship wide enough for someone else to walk through and claim the opportunity to meet those needs that, when met, can fuel intimacy, desire, alchemy, and attraction.

When an important need remains unmet, there are two options – and only two. We can either let go of the need, or change the environment in which we’re attempting to meet the need. It will be this way for all of us. When the need is an important one, letting go won’t be an option. This will create a splintering in the relationship, and the very real temptation to change the environment, as in, find someone else to meet the need/s that we actually want met by our partners.

Affairs often aren’t about wanting the person who is the target of the affair, but about wanting the way that person meets a need. If the person having the affair could have anything, it would most likely be to have the person they love – the one they are hurting – to be the one to meet the need. But things don’t always happen the way we want. And needs get hungry and people get tempted.

When affairs happen, it’s likely that at least one of three things has happened for the person having the affair:

  1. an awareness that ‘something’ is missing, without awareness of what that something is; 
  2. an awareness of exactly what is missing – an important need that has been hungry for too long – but a catastrophic lack of honesty and openness within the relationship about this; 
  3. repeated unsuccessful attempts to be honest and open about the existence of the unmet need, and repeated unsuccessful attempts to have it met within the relationship.

How to heal from an affair, together or apart.

For a relationship to heal from betrayal, there is a need for brutal honesty from both people. If a relationship has been devastated by an affair, healing will take a lot of reflection on what went wrong, and what is needed to make it better, but if both people believe the relationship is worth fighting for, it can find its way back. 

First of all, where do things stand.

Is the affair over? Or has it been scared into submission, just for now.

If the affair is still going, and you’re pretending to work on your relationship, just take your partner’s heart in your hand and squeeze it hard. It will hurt a lot less and it will do less damage to your relationship. If the affair is genuinely finished, the one who has been hurt will need ongoing confirmation of this for a while. Probably for a long while. This is why, for the person who had the affair, the privacy that was there before the affair (texts, phone calls, messages, emails, info about where you are, what you’re doing, and who you’re doing it with), will be gone for a while. Some questions to explore together:

  • When did it end?
  • How did it end?
  • How do you know you won’t go back?
  • How do I believe that it’s over?
  • What if he or she gets in touch? What will you do?
  • What moves have you made to stop them contacting you?
  • You risked a lot for the affair to continue. What stopped the affair being worth the risk? What might make it worth the risk again? 
  • I’m suspicious. I’m paranoid. I’m insecure. I’m scared. I don’t trust you. I never used to feel like this, but now I do. I want to trust you again and I want to stop feeling like this. I want to stop checking and wondering and panicking when I can’t reach you, but I’m scared that if I stop, I’ll miss something. What can you do to help me feel safe again.

Is there genuine regret and remorse? 

Healing can only begin when the person who has had the affair owns what has happened, and shows regret and remorse, not just for the damage and pain the affair has caused, but for starting the affair in the first place. What’s important is that there is a commitment to protecting the relationship above all else, and letting go of the affair.

  • Would you still regret having the affair it if it wasn’t discovered? 
  • What do you regret about the affair?
  • How do you feel about it ending?
  • How do you feel about what it’s done to us and to me?
  • What was the story you told yourself to let the affair keep going?
  • Where does that story sit with you now?

Do you both genuinely want the relationship? And be honest.

Is there anything in this relationship that’s worth fighting for? Is there a chance of love and connection? Or will it only ever be one of convenience and a way to meet mutually shared goals, such as raising children. There are no right or wrong answers, but if one person is satisfied with a relationship of convenience and the other wants love and connection, the healing isn’t going to happen. What’s more likely to happen is that the relationship will be fertile ground for loneliness, resentment and bitterness, and it will stay vulnerable. For a relationship to work, the needs of each person have to be compatible. They don’t have to be the same, but they have to be compatible. 

Do you genuinely want each other?

The truth is that sometimes, people outgrow relationships. We can’t meet everyone’s needs and sometimes, the relationship might no longer be able to meet the important needs of one or both of you. Sometimes letting go with love and strength is better than letting the relationship dies a slow, bitter death.

  • How to you feel about [the person you had the affair with]?
  • What do you miss?
  • How do you feel about me?
  • What did you miss?
  • What do you miss about me now?
  • What made the risk of losing me worth it?
  • What’s changed?
  • What is it about me that’s keeping you here?
  • What is it about us that’s worth fighting for?
  • How do you each about the relationship? 
  • How do you feel about each other? Can either of you see that changing?
  • What is it about the relationship that’s worth fighting for?
  • What is it about each other that’s worth fighting for?
If the decision is to stay, how to forgive and move forward.

How did the affair become possible?

For the relationship to heal, and for there to be any chance of forgiveness, there has to be an understanding of how both people may have contributed to the problem. What was missing in the relationship and how can that change? This is not to excuse the person who had the affair. Not at all. What it’s doing is finding the space in which the relationship can grow. If both people are claiming to have done everything they could and the affair happened, then there’s no room for growth and the relationship will stay vulnerable. 

Let your energy turn to an honest and open exploration of the motive behind the affair. This will probably hurt to hear, but it’s not about blame. It is about responsibility, as in response-ability – the ability to respond. There can’t be an empowered, effective response if there is no awareness around what drove the affair and what needs to change in the relationship.

The person who had the affair delivered the final blow, but it’s likely that there were things that lead up to the relationship becoming vulnerable. Healing will happen if both people can own their part in this. This doesn’t excuse the affair, but it will help it to make some sort of sense. Many hard conversations will need to happen.

If you were the one who was betrayed, you’ll be hurt and angry and scared, and you’ll have every right to feel that way. As much as you are able to, try to be open to hearing the information and make it safe to explore. This is the information that will grow your relationship and repair the holes that have made it vulnerable. 

Somewhere along the way, the person who had the affair and the person he or she had the affair with, had information about your relationship that you didn’t have. This was vital information that fuelled the affair, sustained it, and drained your relationship. They knew what the affair had that the relationship didn’t. This is the information you need to know for the relationship to get its power back.

If you were the one who had the affair, it’s critical to look with honesty, courage and an open heart, at what you were getting from the affair that you weren’t getting from your relationship. It’s not enough to fall back on insecurities or deficiencies or your own personal flaws as excuses. This doesn’t answer anything and it lacks the courage and commitment needed to start putting your relationship and the one you love, back together. 

Explore together:

  • What did the affair give you that our relationship didn’t?
  • How did the affair make you feel that was different to the way you felt with me? More powerful? More noticed? Wanted? Loved? Desired? Nurtured? What was it?
  • Have you ever felt that way with me?
  • When did you stop feeling that way?
  • What changed?
  • What was the biggest difference between [the other person] and me?
  • What would you like me to do more of? Less of?
  • I know you want this relationship to work, but at the moment it’s not. What’s the biggest thing you need to be different. And then I’ll tell you mine.

Be honest. Can you meet the need? And do you want to?

    When you can understand what drove the affair, you can look at whether that need/s can be met within your relationship. Sometimes it becomes a case of either not being able to meet the need, or resentment and hurt wiping out the desire to even try. Both people need to honestly look at what they want from the relationship and what they are able to give to the relationship moving forward.

    Sometimes the distance between two people becomes so vast that it can’t be put back together. If that’s the case, acknowledge it and decide openly and with love and strength, whether or not the relationship is worth saving. Nothing is more painful than fighting to hold on to something that isn’t fighting to hold back. If this is the case, be honest. Relationships in which somebody has important needs that can’t be relinquished and that aren’t being met, will be unsustainable. 

    Moving forward, staying forgiven and getting close. 

    To the one who has had the affair: Now is your time to stand guard over the boundaries of your relationship.

    As with any trauma, finding out about an affair will create massive potential for the trauma to be re-experienced over and over. Let me explain. Every time there is a gap in knowledge in your relationship – an unanswered text, a phone that is off or that goes through to voicemail, something that doesn’t make sense, not knowing where you are, being late home, not being where you said you would be – anything that can be associated with the affair or with the possibility that the affair is still continuing, can recreate the feelings associated with the betrayal. These feelings might include panic, sadness, fear, anger, suspicion, loneliness, loss. This will keep happening until the trust has been restored. This will take time and it won’t be hurried.

    If you’re the one who has had the affair, your job now is to help your partner to feel safe again. To do this, make sure there is 100% accountability for as long as it takes for your partner to know that there is nothing else more to find out. The privacy that was there before the affair is gone, and it will be gone for a while.

    Know that for your partner, he or she he or she doesn’t want to be that person who doesn’t trust, and who is suspicious and paranoid – but that’s what affairs do. They turn trusting, loving, open hearts into suspicious, resentful, broken ones. It would be that way for anyone. How long it stays that way will depend a lot on how you handle things moving forward. Be accountable every minute of every day. Be an open book. Let there be no secrets. Knowing that there is nothing going on is critical to healing the anxiety and trauma that has come with discovering the affair. Looking for information isn’t about wanting to catch you out, but about wanting to know that there is nothing to catch out. 

    For healing to happen, it will be your turn to take responsibility for standing guard over the boundaries of your relationship for a while. Be the one who makes sure there are no gaps, no absences, no missing pieces in the day. And no secrets. If the person you had the affair with contacts you, let your partner know. Be the one who makes things safe again. For the one who has been hurt, there will be a period, sometimes for a year or more, where there will be a constant need to find evidence that the affair isn’t happening. It may become an obsession for a while. Finding out about an affair is traumatic, and the way to find relief from this is by searching for proof that the relationship is safe, that the affair is finished, and that it’s okay to trust again. 

    To the one who has been betrayed …

    Forgive yourself for feeling angry or sad or hateful or for not knowing what you want. Forgive yourself for everything you’re doing to feel okay. Forgive yourself for not knowing and for not asking the questions that were pressing against you when something didn’t feel right. And let go of any shame – for leaving, for staying, for any of the feelings you felt before the affair or during it or afterwards. None of the shame is yours to hold on to.

    Every relationship has a make it or break it point. Some relationships will have many. Forgive yourself if you missed something. This relationship involved two people. If you weren’t giving your partner something he or she needed, it was up to them to tell you so you could put it right. There will have been times that your needs went hungry too. It happens in all relationships from time to time. It’s the intensity and the duration of the unmet need that does the damage. You deserved the chance to know that something wasn’t right. And you deserved the chance to put back whatever was missing. You have that now. If you aren’t able to give your partner what he or she needs moving forward, forgive yourself for that too. Sometimes two great people don’t mean a great relationship. Sometimes it’s not the people who are broken, but the combination of you.

    You will always be someone’s very idea of beautifully and imperfectly perfect. Most likely you have always been that to your partner, but somewhere along the way, life got in the way and things fell apart for a while.

    Right now though, you are going through a trauma. Give yourself plenty of time to forgive, and to start to feel okay again, whether that it is in the relationship or out of it. Be kind to yourself and be patient. You deserve that. You always have.

    And finally …

    Every affair will redefine a relationship. It can’t be any other way. There will be hurt and anger and both of you will feel lonely and lost for a while, but if your relationship is worth fighting for, there will be room for growth and discovery. The heartbreak won’t always feel bigger than you. Some days you’ll hold steady and some days you’ll be okay and some days you’ll wonder how you’ll ever get back up. This is so normal and it’s all okay. You’re grieving for what you thought you had and what you thought you were working towards. You’re grieving for the person you thought you were with and or the relationship you thought you had. Those things are still there, but they’re different to what you thought. That doesn’t mean better or worse, just different. 

    Good people make bad decisions. We do it all the time. We hurt the ones we love the most. We become, for a while, people we never imagined we could be. But the mistakes we make – and we all make them – impress in our core new wisdoms and truths that weren’t there before. An affair is a traumatic time in a relationship, but it doesn’t have to define the relationship. Rather than collecting the broken pieces and scraping them from dustpan to bin, they can be used put the relationship back together in a way that is stronger, more informed, wiser, and with an honesty and a love that is more sustainable.

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    168 Comments

    Tina

    My husband of 25 years has been living overseas for a few years while I stayed home with our 5 children it’s been really hard at times and we did grow apart but I kept thinking when he comes home we will work it out, but last September I found out he’d been seeing a women who had a daughter since January he was undecided who he wanted ,but I was so distraught that I fought so hard to get him back I lost all self respect because I kept thinking he should be fighting for me! I kept asking what did I do wrong? Anyway he came home at Christmas saying he broke up with her because he wanted to be with me that I was and always will be the love of his life! , so over the next few months he told me lots about 5be affair I found out it was quite serious they nearly bought a house together, she thinks we were divorcing and he kept telling her it was nearly finalised! In March this year we went to Hawaii for our 25th anniversary and I happen to see his phone where I found sexting from the previous few months with another women that works at his firms Tokyo office, they had been having an affair for the last 3 years whenever he was in Tokyo , I also found out that the other women broke up with him after Christmas when he was here with me, he’d actually told her he came out to finish the divorce but she finished it with him, I was able to contact her and she has sent me 3 months of messages from him asking her to take him back! I am so heart broken, he is very remorseful and seeing a psychologist he says he couldn’t handle the rejection from her and was looking for a reaction or closure he has no idea why he lied to both of us as it was bound to come out, we are trying to work things out but it is so hard, I’m struggling every single day thinking what did I do to deserve this and why wasn’t I good enough for him? I love him and really want to forgive and trust again, he has another year before he comes home, I know definitely he has no contact with one women and he says he has none with the girl in Tokyo but I don’t know how to trust what he’s saying anymore, he’s lied so much and I don’t understand how he could do this to someone he claims to love, I just want to move past this hurt and pain I’m just slipping in and out of a deep depression,

    Reply
    Michelle

    Tina,
    I feel so bad for the position he put you in. Unfortunately, you will probably never be able to trust him again while he is still traveling and away from home so much. My husband cheated at his part time job and a large part of our agreement in working things out was that he quit that job. I would never be able to trust him working there again. He still complains about the loss of income from that job, but I remind him that our relationship is worth so much more than the money he made there.

    Reply
    Alycia

    Hi Tina,
    I’m so sorry to hear your story. I hate to say this, but I don’t think you will never trust him again. He got caught on one affair and lied, lied, lied. He is having (present tense on purpose) multiple affairs and real estate shopping with his whores. How many others are there? Divorce him. Get child support. Get yourself to therapy.
    We are 3 years post-affair. He cheated with a coworker 15 years younger for 6 weeks. I caught him and he crumbled and cut it off with her twice in 24 hours (I believe he really ended it over these 2 phone conversations). I have PI info to back this up. But that’s what it takes. I have to have him checked by a PI from time to time just to keep my sanity. He was remorseful, sobbed, went to therapy for a year (together and separately), etc. After 6 months, the therapist ruled he was a good guy who really screwed up and she thought he was one of the minority who could really reinvest in us. After all this time and endorsements, I still feel unsafe, unloved, empty, depressed and guarded. Even with him working at our relationship. I go through the motions thinking that time will heal it. We completely get each other and have such a great together. Lately, I don’t know why I’m bothering. Any time I start to relax, I have to protect myself and refortify. I’m married to my best friend, but I’ll never actually be happy again…. not with him or anyone. He shattered my trust and I don’t think it will ever be repaired… even though I don’t think he is cheating again. IF he was or if I even suspected it, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror for staying – heck, I barely can now.
    Good luck and I hope you find peace.

    Reply
    Michelle

    Alycia,
    You hit my feelings right on the money. I am only 7 months out and am still very hurt and angry. He can’t understand why I am letting it bother me so much. He was shocked and hurt when I tried to tell him that it will never be the same between us. I don’t know why these cheaters think that we should be able to “get over it” and “move on”. He lied to me for 6 months. He saw me alone, crying, hurt, enraged and yet he continued to lie. How do you do that to someone that you love and how am I supposed to live with the fact that he could be that hurtful to me, the one he is supposed to love and protect. He is working at the relationship and I truly think that he is remorseful. Now I question the 28 years that I trusted him. He says it was only once, but how do I believe him now. I think I still love him, but I also hate him!

    Reply
    Pam

    I feel the same way we are almost 25 years in and he wants just to just be happy again. I am happy about that but I can’t figure out how to move on without the wall I built

    Reply
    Lindsey

    Michelle the first thing I want to say is that I’m very sorry that this happened to you. I have never been cheated on it must be so devastating. I have however been the cheater. I am replying to your message because you made the statement “these cheaters”. Being on the other side is difficult as well. I have known many good people that have made the mistake. I myself was in an abusive relationship for 16 years, actually 18 years now, and know full well why I made that mistake that I made. I ended it, I came forward ready to take any consequences as one would definitely be scared coming to an abusive mate saying “hey guess what I did”, and I even confessed to my church and endured severe consequences there. I sent messages to dozens of people apologizing for my actions, and for the people that didn’t receive a message I went to them face-to-face and sat in front of them. I endured extreme consequences that I can’t even fully give in detail. So when you say that you don’t understand why “these cheaters” expect you to get over it… Well I suppose I can understand that but I am one of those “cheaters” that do expect my husband to – maybe not necessarily “get over it” but he needs to understand that he damaged my trust and my sense of security for years as well, many more years then he had to and I did not get the benefit of having someone confess, come forward, and humbly take their consequences. Also, when someone says that they will forgive their mate they really need to understand what that entails. Yes trust is gone but how you act or react is always a choice and to constantly constantly show suspicion and mistrust is very discouraging and damaging to the other person as well, especially if they are truly sorry. Of course I am replying to your message out of intense emotion because I am fed up with dealing with an abuser and really that’s what my situation is about. I would love to reassure him, I would love to just let him check on my text messages, I would love to tell him about every minute of my day but he has never been that person for me, not from the first week of our marriage. I tell you that sometimes these cheaters are really good people that got the short end of the stick every time. my husband withheld communication affection attention approval praise sex all of the above and when I would beg for his attention he would tell me that it wasn’t going to happen and that I should go get a hobby and when I would make sexual advances he would push me away. To this day he sleeps in the living room on the floor. 8 years and I’ve been sleeping alone in my bed. But when I came forward about my affair he told me that if I left he was going to quit his job and not give me alimony or child support. that on top of the fact that I don’t have any family here, I don’t have a job, I don’t have a car, nowhere to go. I have to admit that I’m very angry, and just like how you refer to cheaters as “these cheaters” sometimes I look at the victim in situations like this and I think to myself, hmm, I wonder if they are truly victims or if they were cheated on because they were villainous. Nevertheless there is no excuse for cheating and I do feel sorry for everyone that is truly victimized in these situations, whether they were the one that was cheated on or the one that made a very sad mistake at the hands of a monster.

    Reply
    Glenda R

    I am near tears I just recently found out my husband had an affair for 4 months and I found out by finding sexual messages on his phone. We had been together close 5 years and we have no children. We did fight allot but according to him his insecurities about us got to him and he cheated with a girl he played video games online that he knew from his past. What hurts the most is when I asked if it meant anything to him he said a little. I’m thinking why did this happen to me. I had to move back in with my parents and I’m still adjusting to the breakup. I’m still missing him and want to go back but he said even if we did that he knows ill never trust him which is true. He was distant for the past month and i felt lonely and depressed. It was nice to read someone else comment so i know I’m not alone and i hope you will get better.

    Reply
    Tina

    Thankyou for your response, I’m sorry your not happy , I struggle every day trying to move past the hurt and pain of it all, it’s the most heartbreaking finding out the person you love has betrayed you and I ask myself everyday why? And why I wasn’t enough! it has been 10 months now since I found out about the first affair and 4 since I found out about the other one, we have reconciled and really do want it to work but I still do ask myself every day if I’m doing the right thing, there has been many lies that still seem to be coming out he is working with a psychologist on how to stop this I think he has been so used to protecting himself it’s a habit, I’m giving him one last chance to prove himself , he has done everything I’ve asked to try and build trust again , I know it’s going to take time , I hope things work out though as I do love him still! I hope things get better girvyou and your husband!

    Reply
    Darlene J

    I so Identify with everything you said. My husband had affairs it was many years ago and I really struggled to put that mostly behind us. We had counseling but it was terrible. The counselor wanted to find out what I was not doing that caused the affair. We did get past. I never felt total trust again but I thought I mostly trusted him.
    But when his parents passed he started drinking, hanging out late, hiding his phone, lying about where he was, he staying out all night. He says he was not having an affair but that is hard to just believe.
    We have been married for 33 years. Most people would say what a wonderful person he is. He is. But he is also the person who put me through all of the pain again. Even if he was not cheating. He knew what it was doing to me. I told him and he couldn’t or wouldn’t stop. Most people see me as an incredibly strong person. I just feel weak about my marriage. Like no matter how he hurts me I just stay. He can also be really wonderful, helpful, kind,… I wonder if I should trust him. If I can trust him. If I will ever feel safe and truly loved.

    Reply
    Edna A

    I just learned from my hardship and receiving my husband back. That which is broken is lost! The wine that spilled is gone. Everything must be started new. Who are you? We live we grow we change. NOW who are you because you are not the person I married. Am I willing to get to know the REAL you and do you want me and do I want you? If so then let’s start from scratch. The past is the PAST!

    Reply
    Michelle

    Sorry Edna, I don’t agree. But I guess that is part of your response. If I knew in the beginning that this man I married could not be trusted to love and honor our commitment to each other, then I don’t think I would have married him. The past has made me realize that the future will be forever changed. I can’t go back and undo the damage that was done. I need to decide whether I can live with the man I married, not the one I thought I did. He was all I needed, but I wasn’t enough for him. I am trying harder to keep us from growing apart again. But what happens if I become sick, or bedridden. I thought that our love would keep us by each others side. If he can’t do that when I am healthy and able-bodied, what will keep him with me when I am not?

    Reply
    Don B

    I am the husband of the wife that cheated with another married man for three and a half years some 25 years ago. I thought it was behind us into I found a birthday card to him for his birthday this month. Now what?

    Reply
    Sherri

    I can relate to others here. My husband had an emotional affair with a married woman at the church we attended. Before I found out about, this had been occurring for many months. I happened to catch them playing footsies under the table. They apologized, promised it would never happen again, and I believed them. It took time to heal. I bought a pretty gift for this woman to show that I forgave her.
    Almost a year later , I was healing quite well. Unexpectedly I found out that the affair continued and I was devistated again. It’s been 2 years since the affair ended, but 1 year since I learned about it. In the beginning, the pain was unbearable, but as time went on it bothered me less.
    The biggest challenge now is that my husband accuses me of not forgiving. I have forgiven, it’s just taking time to trust. From time to time there are triggers that come unexpectedly and the emotions are stirred yet again. I want to heal and move forward, but at times I feel so stuck. Not really sure what to do.

    Reply
    Valerie

    My husband said he never cheated on me, but my gut feeling says otherwise. Although I only heard hearsay that he was involved with this woman he denies it. He has all the signs of being a caring, loving man after I learned of this affair. He says he never cheated on me and I can’t prove he did. The only proof I have is the woman children came up to me and him while we were out shopping and they said he comes over to their mom house to see her. He denied knowing the children. And as I thought about where the woman lives, he is always in that particular area almost every single day. He says he has a friend who lives out there, but the woman also lives in the exact same area as a matter of fact only two houses from his friend house. This happen six months ago and I still can’t let go, because he refused to admit the truth. I am still very hurt because I have been a very good wife to him. I don’t know if he’s still seeing this woman, but lately like I said he’s been very nice and attentive to me. He makes me feel very special and loved now. But when he doesn’t answer his cell phone I become paranoid and I admit I start accusing him. He says this is destroying our relationship, my accusing him. I wished he would just tell me the truth so that I can move on. I need to know the truth and I see now after six months he’s not going to own up to his mistake.

    Reply
    Michelle

    My husband denied, denied, denied. Called me crazy and told me that I was over reacting. He said that he loved me and wouldn’t risk losing everything we have worked for all these years. Until I called the woman directly and spoke to her myself. Within an hour he left me a voicemail (because I wasn’t answering his calls at that time) that I still have 7 months later saying that “he f@cked up”. If you know where she lives I am sure you can find a phone number for her. Or visit when you know her kids are in school. Ask her directly it is the quickest way to the truth. I wish I wouldn’t have waited so long to do it….

    Reply
    Alycia

    Phone records (call and text), look for burner phones too (glove box, under car seat, etc, closet, dresser, nightstand, office), hire a PI, check emails, track phone or put a tracker under his car. Empower yourself with the truth – no matter how scary. Hard evidence make the denying near impossible – they will try anyway – but facts are facts. It’s how YOU know, even if he lies or denies.

    Reply
    Hope

    Mark, what you stated is so very true. You have to ask your heart…do you really want to stay with your spouse! As I wrote before, we had been married 29 years, he was 63 and I was 61. Have a blended family of 3 adult children. He started traveling for work…and eventually was gone almost 5 nights out of the week. He finally came clean (well not quite) saying he had an affair…then he said with 1 woman, only once. Little by little I learned more truths. I knew there was more and spent my life “investigating” and things just didn’t add up. A few months later he told me with tears, there was a second one. Then…a few months after that, after prodding, he came clean at our counselor appt and said there were total of 3. This had been going on for 4 years! He had been on Ashley Madison dating sight. When I thought he was 3 hours away for work…he was actually 1 hour away at a motel or casino motel. He spent lots of money on these women! Steaks suppers, elaborate hot tub suites, took one to a boutique and spent over $300 on her! He would come home and treat me like total crap. My mom was in very ill health so I was traveling back and forth to hospitals to be with her. I’d leave…he would go screw someone! Mom passed away 4 months after he told me! We have kids out of town and out of state. He would never go visit them with me, I would go by myself. As soon as I’d leave….he’d be off screwing one of them! He admitted he took advantage of every opportunity!
    Believe it or not….we are still together and renewing our vows in 2 weeks for our 30th wedding anniversary. He surprised me with a diamond ring a couple weeks ago. He is very remorseful and says it makes him sick to think of what he did and wonders if he was crazy! We are still going to counseling. I still have trust issues and wonder every day how he could do this to me for so long! I always wondered but never thought he would do such a thing because he always had high morals and was in a Management postition at work. But he did!!! We hadn’t had sex for several years due to menopausal things with me. I seriously didn’t think he was able to either! Well…..found out differently and was shocked!!! Afterwards I went to gynecologist and got some estrogen cream and things have been amazing!! We are both on antidepressants now too. Every day we have to work on showing love to each other and not take each other for granted. I also monitor his phone calls, texts, made him delete his gmail account on which they communicated. I watch his every move! We both say we will never ever forget. I still feel lots of anger and hatred towards these women who got everything from him I was wanting for 4 years! I know it takes 2….but for some reason I am more bitter towards them. They were all 10-20 years younger then me….and totally unattractive! One is now with a transgender! One was so ugly he said he would get up and leave early in the morning because he couldn’t stand looking at her when he woke up! Although he was with her the longest…over 3 years and took her to the boutique! The last one scared him because she fell for him and was going to leave her husband. He told all of them he was never leaving his wife! He said it was all about the excitement of sneaking around and getting attention. He said he enjoyed hearing them saying he was hot and good looking! They enjoyed his money! Best of luck to all of you….follow your hearts…..

    Reply
    Mifhelle

    Hope, I don’t know how you do it. During our anniversary last year my husband of 28 years was fooling around. We are working things out, but I am still very hurt. I don’t know that I will ever be ready to celebrate another anniversary, much less renew our vows. When I think of all the holidays we have coming up this fall and winter the thought of celebrating them this year when he celebrated some of them last year with her just turns my stomach. At this point in my life I am not ready to walk away, but I am also not ready to forgive and will never forget.

    Reply
    Shantell

    I just caught my boyfriend cheating with a coworker. We both work at the same place we both our supervisors I work first shift he works third shift. He was always at her machine. He told me they were childhood friends nothing more. I told him supervisors don’t take breaks with coworkers bye there self. Started going to the tanning bed. Couple days before that he shaved his private area. Why? I asked we wasn’t having sex. He said it was bothering him. Then he cut his hair. He would always wipe my kisses off after we kissed. He said I was crazy he would never do that to me not to worry he was not like that. Well one Saturday morning I came in to work on a couple things. Well he said we had to leave. He said he had to do something bye his self. He didn’t want to ruin the surprise but he was going to get me something for mother’s day. We came home he got in the shower put comfy clothes on. ASked me if he looked alright. Took me and dropped me off back at work. Came back 3 hours later. All sweaty had his shirt off. I could just tell something had just happened. Monday came around and all the operators came up to me and told me what was being said. I told my boyfriend and he said every one was just trying to make me mad. He would never do that. Can’t a boss just be friends with someone without rumors going around. Finally I came in to work without anyone seeing me. And I watched. He was with her at her machine they were flirting and standing really close to each other. Made sure they touched every time they passed. Later I called him out. He admitted it and cried told me he was sorry. He don’t know why he did that. He loves me and the kids. He doesn’t want to lose me. I told him if he wanted to be with me he would stop it. He did he did not talk to her. Stayed away from her. He even told me when she came up to him and said hey stranger do you not know me anymore. He said he told her to go back to her machine and only talk to him if it’s work related. I love him so much I just don’t know how to trust him again. He wiped my kisses off, he lied to me, he used getting me a gift so he could cheat he slept with her in my Jeep. He came and gave me a hug and a kiss right after he cheated. How do I know he won’t do it again? Why did he kiss me right after? Have sex with me the next day? Was he even thinking about me at all? Or what would happen between us? All I picture all the time is him being with her in my vehicle and him fucking her. What else did they do? Did they do stuff at work also? When? WHAT can I do to make sure he loves me? And this won’t happen again? Because to me how and what he did tells me he didn’t care about me one bit. I feel nasty and disgusted with myself because he kissed me right after he cheated like it was nothing to him. Please help me and guide me on what went wrong

    Reply
    Abby

    I have 2 kids and I am currently expecting my 3rd (5 months pregnant) . I just saw some message on my husbands phone. Not only of one but several women. They ask him to borrow money and in return they pay him with “ass” that’s what the text say. He says its a lie it never went pass the text nothing ever happened. I am so confused and hurt. I dont know what to believe. I am trying to be strong for myself and my baby. Im currently not speaking to him, unless it has to do with the kids and the basic household duties. I cannot see him the same anymore, im a little gross out. If I forgive him, will I ever be intimate with him like before. so many questions. I may be able to forgive but not forget and that might just be torture for me.

    Reply
    JS

    My husband and I have been together for 25 years. Over the years, he also had issues with anxiety that were difficult but not disabling. Recently, he had a complete mental breakdown and was hospitalized for 12 days. During a visit to the hospital, he confessed that he had slept with other women. According to him, this happened 10 years ago. Two hookups with women he found on Craigslist and two prostitutes. This was during a time period when he had been laid off from his job. He says he doesn’t know why he did it except that he was feeling bad about himself at that time.

    He felt that if he confessed to me that his mental condition would improve because he had been carrying around so much guilt and shame. Of course, that didn’t work. It did work to completely devastate me. I am surprised by how deeply and profoundly I am hurt by this. So, I started researching and have discovered how normal my feelings are.

    My problem in going forward is that he is unwilling to truly discuss this all with me, answer my questions or give me reassurance that he really wants me to stay in a real way. He claims he is too fragile to really address it right now. However, I am hurting right now. It has always bothered him that I put others’ needs ahead of my own and now expects me to do that again.

    I thought we had a good marriage and he insists that we have. For me, the whole foundation of my life and my sense of self is shattered. I do love him and would like to look at this as an opportunity to build a stronger relationship that addresses some of my own needs and desires for our us. However, the longer I am asked to be patient to have a substantive discussion about this, the more emotionally distant I feel. I find myself making plans for a future without him since he won’t discuss where we go from here. While I am worried about leaving him while he is so vulnerable, I am afraid that by the time he is ready to focus on our relationship that it will be too late.

    I feel robbed of the time I could have spent developing a truly trusting relationship with someone who wanted the same with me. Now, whether I stay or go, I will always be alone.

    Meanwhile, I have changed from a level-headed, optimistic, strong and overly trusting woman into a person who can’t eat and has a constant ache in my soul. My whole world seems upside down. I keep putting one foot in front of the other but have no destination.

    Reply
    JS

    Thank you for your comments, Michelle. I am sorry for what you are going through. Reading comments about how people continue to hurt so intensely even with the passage of time is a bit discouraging. I am glad your husband is remorseful and is working hard to make amends. I truly wish the best for you.

    We are trying very hard, both together and separately. It is extremely important to me that he really comes to terms with why he did it. Without that, I will be unsettled every time life throws a curveball and he doesn’t feel good about himself. It is guaranteed that life will do that. I need the assurance that he has the coping skills to weather that.

    I really struggle with the humiliation. While I am still attractive to the other men, middle age takes its toll and does a number on your self-esteem. If I had known about this ten years ago when it happened, I feel I would have had more options – perhaps with someone who valued me and our children and appreciated all the love and support he is offered. Since our children are grown, I also feel a little degraded by my current decision to stay and feel that he and others, (and especially me) will look at me as weak.
    That said, we have been each other’s best friend for 25 years.

    We are both grieving what was since he cheated on himself when he was unfaithful and needs to come to terms with what this means for him as a man, a father, and a partner. I guess I selfishly want him to truly thank me for giving this a chance. I also want him to express that appreciation of me to others.

    I hope his experience of you caring for him after knee surgery opens his eyes about what commitment means. I understand your difficulty as my husband is still healing from his breakdown and facing some painful issues that go back to childhood.

    I notice that you have replied to many posts on this thread and you should know that you are a very caring and supportive person deserving of the same love and support you offer others.

    Reply
    Michelle

    JS,
    I am sorry for what you are going through. My husband of 28 years had a 6 month relationship with a bar scamp where he was a bouncer. He only confessed after I called her. He quit that job, at my demand and we are working on our relationship.

    Five months later he had a total knee replacement and guess who had to take care of him. I told him that I had no empathy for what he was going through after what he put me through. He was shocked and doesn’t understand how I can be so cruel to him.

    You need to take care of yourself. He tried to make himself feel better at your expense and he can’t make you feel better. If you decide to stay in the relationship you both need to work on yourselves before you can work on the relationship. The ache in your soul will never go away, but it does become tolerable.

    Reply
    JS

    I accidentally responded to comments you made under my original post. Hopefully, you will see them.

    Reply
    Michelle

    JS,
    Thank you for the reply. I reach out to others going through the same thing because I was totally caught off guard by the deep aching pain that came with my husbands infidelity. It helps to know that we are not alone and that everything we are feeling is normal.

    My husband and I are having good times together. I have lost 75 pounds and look amazing. I am proud of myself and I enjoy the attention that I am getting with my new looks. He enjoys it too, but then I get depressed because I feel I had to change my figure in order to keep him interested in me. If he didn’t like me middle aged, comfortable and overweight, why should he get to enjoy the new me. UGH!!! You would be surprised to know that he is 6’3″ and weighs 280 pounds! Yet I am the one that went from a size 18 to a size 4 to please him (I am 5’3″ and went from 208 pounds down to 133).

    Don’t worry about what other people think of you for sticking by his side. I think that it takes a very strong woman to stand by a cheating husband to try to improve your relationship. We know that it is a lot easier to walk away then to work on fixing what is broken. Anyone looking down at you for attempting to work things out has no clue what you have been through. Now sticking by a man who continues to cheat time and time again is something totally different.

    As long as he is willing to put in the work, keep at it…

    Reply
    Nathan

    I’ve read these posts with interest; I’m a guy who is the victim of emotional infidelity as well as her sexting the same guy. We have got 3 really young kids ages two four and six. I found out my wife of 8 years, together 10 had been sexting another man she used to know as a teenager. They had got in contact again on facebook and exchanged numbers on whatsapp. This affair had been going on since middle to late 2016, the wife said she blocked and deleted him on messenger and whatsapp in October 2017. How I found out I bought her a new phone and was trying to back up all her pictures for her old phone and I thought I should make sure I looked if there were any photos in whatsapp that she might want. In my wife’s sent folder on whatsapp there were multiple naked photos of her doing a strip tease, really graphic, dress up boobs out, bending over panties on than no panties. I can’t get these images out of my head still, and it’s been almost 6 months since d day, 8th of March 2018. There was even a screenshot she sent to her friend, of a sexting chat they had where he said how he should have pounded her back when they knew each other.”boasting to her friend I suppose, how she can turn this guy on” This guy has a girlfriend too. My wife trickle fed me information too. which has made it hard to trust her, I still check all her history on internet and phone.

    When I found out, I blew up at her and she seemed to show remorse for a few days and take things seriously. We went to marriage counselling, didn’t help too much I feel, the councillor made me out to be obsessive which I can be and that this affair wasn’t the biggest problem, our communication was supposedly the only issue. What has been hard is that it has been me that has been trying so hard to make this marriage work. The wife has threatened to divorce me many times since this happened because I want details of when it started when it ended. She always says I should draw a line under everything and move on, she is right but it’s hard. Every day I think of her posing for another man, him sending pictures of himself and pleasuring himself to my wife. It eats me up. I don’t know if I will ever erase these pictures out my mind.

    I’m trying to put things behind me and move on, I do really love her. She just sometimes seems to me to not show too much remorse, she always says I’m banging her over the head with this. She has said to me that she truly regrets doing what she did and that there was no excuse for sexting this guy even if she was unhappy. I got really angry 10 days ago when we had a small argument, she than described what she did as a small indiscretion, which made me crazy, those times that she owned what she did disappeared for me! I spoke to her for days after this to get her to clarify why she said that. She said she just wants to forget it and that I’m picking on one thing that she said, she said it is bad what she did but not as bad as if they had met up and had sex. I don’t know why I’m focusing on what she said. Now I don’t think she thinks what she did was that bad. The wife said I’m not allowed to bring up stuff we talked about related to this infidelity; she threatens to kick me out if I do sometimes. I’m not sure she thinks that this was infidelity, although she has said it was in the past. I might be crazy, almost six months now; it seems I always find something new to obsess over. This has consumed me; I just want to forget this. I wish I never found theses pictures, Am I being too hard on my wife? She did delete and block this guy before I even knew about it, it is cheating but at least she didn’t meet him. I do know, that if I can’t stop with my constant rehashing of things we have discussed, she will kick me out and I will probable regret how I handled this.

    Reply
    Anne

    Nathan,
    I can relate. My husband of 8 years (together 10) recently I found sexting messages when he was away on business. I had suspected an affair for the past 3 or 4 months.
    He continues to tell me only messaging was involved, but the sext messages seem they were very comfortable with one another and I feel he met her multiple times when away for work.. it is so hard.. I don’t trust him. And he left today on business again. I told him he had to FaceTime me for the next 6 days, and he became upset at me. He later called to apologize. But this is hard.. I don’t know what to do and I want to trust him.
    I’m sorry for what you are going through too.

    Reply
    Carolyn

    So my boyfriend and I started dating two weeks before I left college to go home for the summer. The first three months were long distance, but we got through it. I completely trusted him and had no speculations about him cheating or even looking at another girl. We’ve finally been in the same state for a few weeks now and things were going great. If a problem came up, we learned to communicate and solve the issue or at least discuss it in depth until we both felt better about it.
    Last weekend I found out that he cheated on me very early in our relationship. He sent nudes to a couple girls trying to interact with them, and also made out with a girl who he worked with. He immediately stopped because he didn’t want to go any further, but the nudes didn’t stop. He did that a few times throughout the summer, and he texted one of the girls just a few days before I came back to school. He is incredibly remorseful and is extremely upset about his actions and he is genuine about this. All of this was before our relationship was serious too, but I know that’s not an excuse. Until i found out, I really saw a future with him. Now, I see him in a different light and am repulsed by everything he does. I told him I wanted to take a break, and he respects this. But I am torn between wanting to end things and staying with him. I think I’m going to try to take time to myself the next couple days, but I have very little self control and want to text him and talk to him again. But I know if I do this, I will still feel angry and upset towards him. I just want to know if this disgust like feeling towards him will go away or not.

    Reply
    JS

    Carolyn,
    Your relationship is still new, so if you decide to stay with him, I would respectfully suggest that you talk to a therapist before making that decision and a couples therapist if you are considering making this relationship permanent. It sounds as if he has some commitment issues or enjoys the thrill of the chase.

    It’s hard to imagine someone you trusted involved in sordid activities and not feel disgusted and wonder if you are being played. He cares enough to be remorseful, and that’s positive. Just remember that you deserve a future with a whole man, not a broken one.

    Reply
    Michelle

    Carolyn,
    I don’t like to be the type of person that tells another what they should do. Only you know what is right for you.

    However, if you are repulsed by the things that he is doing now, it won’t get any better. If he is chasing after the thrill this early in your relationship, it won’t improve when he commits to you.

    You will always worry and wonder what he is doing behind your back and you deserve more than that.

    Reply
    Aaliyah

    My boyfriend and I recently had a baby but he cheated on me while I was pregnant. At the time our relationship was not great and he used that as an excuse to “seek validation” from other women. I found out and my heart sank to the floor. How can a man who you gave your all to just rip your heart out because of bad times! He’s apologize countless times and has been consistently trying to makeup for his wrong doing. However, I can’t stop thinking about how he lied and betrayed me. I love him dearly, sometimes I want nothing but for us to grow and build a future together especially now that we have a child. Other times I want to walk away because looking at him instantly disgusts me and I know I deserved better. He always looks out for me yet I’m scared to ask him to do anything or to call his phone because when he doesn’t answer it just makes me terrified that he’s possibly out hurting me again.. what he did has made me so insecure. Every time he’s on the phone or texting I get nervous that it might be someone else. Every time he goes out I get nervous. I argue and yell sometimes, even be disrespectful to him and it’s just because I’m hurt. It’s been a year since that has happened and I haven’t been able to accept it. I still cry, I still feel so angry. How am I suppose to work on myself and put effort for the relationship work at the same time? I have so many questions I want to ask him like who was she? How did they meet? Are they still in contact? How many girls has it been? But I’m also so scared to ask. I don’t want to be lied to but at the same time I’m not sure if I can even handle anymore. I’m so broken

    Reply
    SS

    Almost 3 months ago I got a phone call from my husband saying “we need to talk”. My heart sank because I knew what was coming. He told me that he had he had slept with a woman, and that her ex boyfriend found out, and was threatening to expose the affair to me if my husband didn’t give him a job. (I now realize this was my husband acting like a victim of blackmail in an effort
    to minimize what he was about to tell me he had done.) My husband said all the same things I’ve read here, how he was sorry and didn’t know what he was thinking, and even said to himself that he had a beautiful wife and family at home so what was he doing sneaking around with other women. And of course he promised it would never happen again. The ex boyfriend did contact me, and through him I learned that my husband had been paying this woman for sex on and off for 10 years, and had also paid one of her friends for sex. (Oddly enough my husband does not consider them whores or prostitutes, just “acquaintances”.) The woman’s ex also told me that my husband had had sex with a third friend of theirs, who used to be one of our employees. My husband denies ever having sex with the third woman but does admit that he “had feelings” for her. He swears that those are the “only” people he has been unfaithful with, however I have found he has made profiles on Adult Friend Finder, as well as other match making sites, and has solicited sex on Craigslist. He says he never paid for the accounts, so he could never contact nor be contacted by anyone. He said he was only “looking at pictures”. It’s so much deceit, so many lies, so much betrayal, I don’t know if I will ever be able to trust him again. We are going to counseling but all I have learned so far is that he very easily disconnected his sneaking around from his family life, and that he is very shallow and so out of touch with his own emotions that he cannot appreciate just how destructive his actions were, how much pain I have been carrying for 3 months, and he just wants me to get over it and move on. He blames me for the affair, saying I had given up on our sex life, so he had to go elsewhere to get it. He takes zero ownership of the decade of problems that preceded his seeking out other women, which lead to the deterioration of our physical and emotional intimacy. He blames me for being “paranoid” and looking through his truck (where I found condom wrappers and gifts from other women) and looking through his phone. He refused to cut off contact with these women, choosing to just “ignore” their calls, to “avoid confrontation”. So I took matters into my own hands and contacted them myself. He acts resentful that I did that too. He cannot express remorse other than saying “I’m sorry” (literally only those two words), and when I tell him I need more he says “I don’t know what you want me to say you won’t believe me anyways”. He has made no effort to make me feel valued, loved or special. He thinks that his newfound interest in spending time with me and our kids, and doing dishes a few times a week is his way of showing he wants to stay with me. His words are completely unbelievable now and there are no actions to back up his words. I hate to discard 21 years of marriage, but I don’t know that he is trustworthy, or emotionally capable of giving me what I need to heal and rebuild this relationship. And I don’t want to waste anymore of my time. I haven’t been able to talk to anyone about this because it is humiliating and I don’t want to appear weak for not kicking him to the curb. I guess I just needed to vent it out here. It is comforting in a way to know that I am not alone, and that the heartache, the PTSD symptoms, the non-stop crying, the depression and anxiety, the feelings of “why me?” and the anger and resentment are all normal. Because I feel anything but normal the past 3 months. Thanks for reading.

    Reply
    Laney

    My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 and a half years now. A year ago, my worst nightmare happened. Here is some context before I get into it. When we started dating, he was only 20 and I was 22. He had never been in a serious relationship before, and I had in high school, well as serious as you can be at 15. Our love blossomed naturally into something great. We were a team, and most importantly friends. However, around the 1 and a half mark I kept feeling him withdrawing from me. We got into stupid fights that mostly involved him not communicating and backing out of activities we had planned together. I knew something was wrong but I was too scared to get into it, I was scared he didn’t want to be in a relationship with me anymore. His priorities became progressively more independent or about his friends. As a part of the summer class he was taking, he was required to film a concert at a venue in the mountains. I had a sick feeling in my stomach, knowing that he was going to feel far away from and worried that something would happen. In fact, I woke up the next morning and knew in my gut that something did happen. We ended up getting in a fight the next day about this festival we were going to. He started saying things like, “I don’t know if I want to be in a relationship in 5 years…” in the context of what would happen after graduation. The night ended with him crying, “You didn’t deserve this, I didn’t mean for this to happen.” It had been a bad night but I was kind of thrown off, it hadn’t been THAT bad. The next week continued with him being weird, I could tell there was something he wasn’t saying. I kept seeing this girl’s name pop up on his phone, a girl from the class he was in. He had never talked to her before. This one night, about a week later, I looked at his phone while he was in the shower and found messages between the two of them. One of the conversations between them was sexual and there were a few other innappropriate comments. The dates on the sexual conversation were the night he had gone with his class to film the concert. Before I had read everything, I barged into his bathroom and ripped open the shower curtain and said, “You cheated one me!” He sputtered, obviously caught off guard, “No I didn’t, I swear,” I said, “Get out of the shower and come back in here and explain what is going on.” When he came back in to his room he explained that he and the girl from his class had held hands on the bus ride back to town. He admitted that he was confused about why it had happened, he hadn’t had feelings for her at any time before that night. He said they had been flirting in the car ride, but he certainly wasn’t intending on anything to come of it. Then their hands had touched and they both held on for a bit, letting go before the ride was over. He said as they were unpacking the van they avoided eye contact and did not say goodbye. When he got home, she texted him and said, “Hey that was weird..” and then eventually said, “I’m horny” and the sexual conversation ensued. The next morning they texted about how it shouldn’t have happened, one of the things she said was. “Btw nothing is actually gonna happen because you have a girlfriend, but let me know if you ever break up with her.” He hadn’t answered and instead deleted her number. He said he felt so confused by what had happened, not completely understanding why he had allowed himself to do that. He then had to deal with being around me and the guilt he felt. After deleting her number, a few days later, she texted him, and unfortunately, he texted back. The handful of conversations that followed weren’t necessarily inappropriate in content, but definitely inappropriate in nature. By the time I discovered them, most of the talking had stopped. His reaction after the discovery was devastation, he vowed to be better and his shame was palpable. Over the last year we have cried together discussed what led to this happening. He and I basically came up with the fact that he was having second thoughts about being in a relationship, that commitment was scary and not having the opportunity to pursue any other attraction was stifling. He didn’t want to tell me because he didn’t know how and he didn’t want to hurt me. The night when this happened, he was feeling especially doubtful about the future he wanted, for himself and for our relationship. He was especially vulnerable to the attention of another woman and decided to use it to feel better about himself. He admitted that he never really had feelings for her, it was more about the attention than her as a person. I later contacted her and she said the same thing, that she could have been talking to anybody. Ultimately I think they were both using each other to make themselves feel better about their insecurities. Despite the fact that the feelings weren’t deep between them and the only physical contact that occurred was holding hands, this still hurt me to my core. It’s strange, because he changed so much after this happened and our relationship is so much better than it was before. I can tell he feels so disconnected from the actions of that time, like he is a different person. It’s difficult for us both to understand and accept that something like that ever happened. As he always says, it feels like a bad dream. I guess I’m commenting because despite all of the growth and questions answered about what happened, I still have days where I’m consumed by pain. I’m consumed by the pain of the attention he accepted from someone else and then reciprocated to get more. It sickens me, even though he never even touched her, never saw her naked, never kissed her. It was all a fantasy. The words of the messages are hard to get out of my head, especially some of the graphic ones, despite the fact that he didn’t truly mean them and was just saying them to manipulate and get attention. I believe everything he has told me about his feelings and the scenario. He has been painfully honest, as have I. Even though we have come so far in healing, I still don’t understand why I am still hurting. I don’t understand why I reimagine it happening. I don’t understand when i still keep analyzing, as if I’m going to find out one thing that will take it all away. Why do I still dissect the details of an event that is dead? Why am I keeping it alive and giving the negativity power? He has become a man in this last year, his efforts to right this wrong are commendable and honorable. He is not a cheater, he is young man who was scared and was too weak to say no to the attention of another. But now he is so strong in our relationship, he has stood strong in my anger and depression, held my hand when I needed it and been so patient. It’s hard to believe that he ever could have been any different. What is holding me back from accepting that it’s over and being able to truly let it go?

    Reply
    vera

    I caught my fiance cheating on me with my roommate, I forgave nd after one year he told me that he had sex with a lady he brought to my place for me to accommodate her now he wants me to forgive him again… My heart is broken nd want to let him go

    Reply
    Tamera B

    My husband of 32 years left his computer on one day i felt like something wasnt right between us so i looked and to my surprise a old girlfriend from 33 years ago facebooked him, they had been talking for 2 weeks and it was getting serious. I freaked out, they never met up but everything i read broke my heart. He broke it off with her and weve been trying to make it work but i seem to think he may be still talking to her. I feel like my entire marrriage was a joke, that he really wanted her. He thinks im crazy and jealous and acts distant and cold sometimes. I love him but im not convinced he loves me because he wouldnt have said all those words to her if he did. He thinks it done and i am to forgive but my hearts everyday. Will we stay togather?

    Reply
    Mickey

    I can relate to Carolyn.
    My boyfriend and I have been together for 4.5 years and have been through A LOT. A few months after we decided to become “official” I moved about an hour away for work and we spend that year navigating a long-distance relationship but it seemed to be going well. I moved in with him after 2 years of dating and soon after discovered that he had been cheating on me at varying degrees with several women throughout that time. I wasn’t completely naive about his behaviors and had confronted him on the issues I had with his lack of boundaries with other women, prior to agreeing to move in, and under the impression that we had figured things out. I was completely blindsided by the amount of information he disclosed. After many tears and moving out and taking space we decided to try to work through the betrayal. He took action, meeting with a therapist (individual and couples), going to group support sessions, talking with close friends/family for advice and doing some soul searching. So here we are, after an additional 2 years of exhaustive repair work and efforts to rebuild trust and looking to purchase property (prior to marriage due to economic considerations) and I am freaking out.
    I have been working to built trust back in him and he has had patience with my doubts and endless discussions and anxiety attacks in the interim as I try to forgive him and move forward. I am struggling with constant doubt and worry. I love him and believe he is a good man and is striving to improve himself daily and be the best person he can be for himself and for me as my partner. What is so difficult is that it happened so very early on in our relationship that our foundation was not built on solid ground. To complicate things more, he has ended communications with every girl that he had physical contact with but he continues to work with one of the people that he had an emotional affair with. She is a constant trigger that we are trying to work around. He barely speaks to her but she was a long time friend and they work in a small school together so interactions are inevitable. It was a joint decision that he would not leave his job (having this occur so early in the relationship made it difficult to ask for that kind of sacrifice and we worked with our therapist to seek other avenues of repair). I am trying to forgive and let go but she is so present and it’s really hard. I think about this being my future, a neverending cycle of triggers and discomfort and it looks so bleak. We have tried to discuss it but are coming up short on solutions. Is this on me? Am I trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? How do I let it go? Is it my responsibility at this point to let it go? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Reply
    Michelle

    Mickey,
    Unless you want to live the rest of your life in doubt, worrying about where he is and who he is talking to, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. If I had known back then how hurtful my husband could be to me I would have kept looking for love somewhere else. After catching my husband in an affair after 28 years of marriage I am now wondering how many others there were over that time. I kick myself constantly for being so trusting and naïve. We are trying to work it out, but I am having issues with trusting him. He is now getting upset with my lack of trust and keeps questioning whether I am actually making an effort to forgive him. I will more than likely stay in the marriage for convenience but feel like an empty shell of myself.

    Reply
    Debbie c

    Well for me it was this young girl she’s like 18 years younger send my husband of 36 years of marriage she moved in next door she portrayed herself to be a friend to me and all the more wanted nothing more but to steal and destroyed my family and I’m back with my husband now trying to make my marriage work she still lives next door it’s the hardest thing ever you have to look at her everyday and to know what they had was each other she not only took my husband but she’s took my new home as well showered in my shower cook it in my kitchen and slept in my bed my husband and children for my life. I feel so lost I don’t have the security that I had before and honestly he doesn’t want to talk to me about any of it he wants to forget it and I can’t and honestly I feel like it’s still going on and don’t know what to do anyone out there there with any suggestions please respond in need of a good friend thanks

    Reply
    Martha

    When I was 16 I meet my now husband at 17 I move in with him he went to jail for a year I had an fair sad to say a one night stand never saw this man again my husband came back home a couple of month later a found out I was pregnant at first I really though it was my husband but after check ups and ultrasound s I figure it out it wasn’t his call me stupid or what ever you want to call me but I was very scare I was only 18 years old so yes I keep quit there was people that had suspicions and try to tell him but hi didn’t put attention in 2011 we marry then he ask me I could t continue to lie to him so I did told him yes my son wasn’t his he hug me very hard and sai I love you more now no questions were ask now my son is 24 and he has 2 baby’s we are grandparents and my husband out of no we’re start asking me questions and details after urginents and fighting I gave him the details how I meet this guy after 2 days of knowing him I sleep with him and his didn’t took it very well wish I understand and I know my mistake his very depressed hurt angry confuse but said he want to try and save our marriage but I don’t know how to help him I feel disgusted of my self and seeing him like that is killing me lil by lil we have a daughter that is disabled we lost one child when he was 1 year old so we have gone thru slot togheter I love my husband I don’t want to brake our family. I just don’t know how to do it

    Reply
    Darlene J

    Hire a PI. If nothing is going on sell the house and move. If it is get a great divorce attorney.

    Reply
    NBA

    Here I am. It’s been almost 8 months since I discovered my husband was having an affair while I was pregnant and after our 2nd child was born. I don’t even know where to begin. He was flat out on a selfish rampage. He bottled up his emotions for years and allowed himself to completely distort his vision of who I am and what his life was like. When I discovered what was going on (finally had the gumption to look at phone records – he was deleting everything from his phone), I confronted him and he tried to deny it. He told me he was allowed to have “friends”. He swore to me that it was purely emotional, that nothing physical had happened. He sat there (the day after I had kicked him out) and opened up some to how he had felt and I finally felt like we had our first honest conversation in years. Turns out he was lying to me. He was trying to cover his own ass. After he had moved back in about a week after I had kicked him out, I ended up finding that he was still texting her and found conversations between them where he said that he hadn’t even cried over me, that he had been bawling over her and that he wasn’t getting what he wanted. That he was just trying to do what was right for his kids. I found her saying that he had made love to her and then picked me the next day. That mean that he went and slept with her again after we had already been talking about getting back together and in my mind we were just going to have another conversation to see what we could commit to changing for each other. I felt like a fool, I thought that it went physical because I had kicked him out….turns out that was wrong… I was blaming myself for weeks…Then I ended up writing her. Due to that I ended up talking to her husband and then texting with her a lot. I found out it was physical for a long time. When I confronted my husband about that, he then admitted it had been since the summer. They were having a physical affair for about 10 months or so (according to his memory). Apparently they tried to break it off while continuing to be around each other (that’s just flat out idiotic). I don’t know what to do. I love him and we’re trying to work it out. He has demons from his past that he never worked through and I had been trying to get him to do counseling with me or on his own for years. He is finally doing counseling and is trying for the first time to be the husband that I need and the father that my kids deserve. It is going to take a lot of work and I am not sure that he has it in him to be the husband that I need. I feel like I am my kid’s only chance at having a healthy relationship with their father, and I’m his best chance at a healthy relationship. I know that 95% of other women would be gone, even before discovering the affair based on how he was treating me during that time. He was verbally, financially and in a sense physically abusive in how he treated me over our intimacy level while he was sleeping with another woman. He was unwilling to change anything in his life during that period, no matter what we tried to discuss, and I couldn’t do any better with how I was being treated. I was trying to do the best I could while being pregnant and struggling with a newborn, cooking and taking care of the laundry as best as I could. I know there isn’t much I could change looking back, without him making effort to change as well. He was completely wrong and says that he realizes that now, that I am the woman he loves and that he will cherish me, and sees the woman I am and how lucky he is. How am I supposed to believe anything he says. I don’t know how I am going to reestablish trust with him. All the pain seems unbearable right now. I feel like I’m barely putting one foot in front of the other. The only thing I can do is pray for God to take away this pain. I know that I cannot make it through this without Him. I now know why the Bible gives you the ok to divorce over adultery. I can’t imagine anything worse than this… except losing a child. I was ready to divorce him but through various circumstances, I felt God’s hand trying to support me to leave the door open. All it took for me was to hear him open up to me about how he had been hurting. He hid his feelings from me for years, and allowed himself to change his viewpoint on me which was completely inaccurate (obvious by the fact that I am trying to take him back, it shows there’s nothing I wouldn’t have done if he had been open and willing as well). It is nice to read here that a lot of people are feeling the same way that I am. To know that I am not alone. I feel so alone, like no one understands as no one else close to me has been through an affair before, and even if they had, their circumstances may have been a lot different than mine. He is a good guy in the bottom of his heart who made a lot of bad decisions over and over again. The part that pisses me off is that I saw the issues and I am a victim to his own stubbornness. In a way I’m grateful because we have an opportunity to have a stronger relationship than ever, his shell was cracked with what he did, and he is now willing in many ways to try, realizing he is not the perfect person he had fooled himself into thinking he was. I just can’t stop crying. Does anyone else cry or tear up every day this many months post discovery? We have an amazing counselor and without him I would definitely not be trying to work it out. My biggest fear is that I won’t be able to let go of this pain, that I won’t be able to get her name or picture out of my head. That I will live in fear of this happening again…

    Reply
    Darlene J

    The fear may never really go away or the doubt that you were not worth his faithfulness. His love was not strong enough but that is his weakness not yours. Every relationship has problems.
    I still cry, get anxious, feel incapable of functioning, feel devalued. I know that is not true but the feelings are real.
    I think I understand your needs for affirmation from your husband. I understand Your need for safety because your reality is he can destroy you again.

    Reply
    Jen

    I found out my husband of 22 had been cheating on me for 8 months. It’s been almost a year since i found out and I still cannot get over it. I have two college aged children that depend on both of us financially and I feel like I owe it to them to stay with him. I hate myself for having to stay. He on the other hand claims it was the biggest mistake of his line and he would do anything if I can stay and work through things with him. Some things have eased over time but my mind cannot get over the fact he was with another woman. I want to leave so bad and if he truly is remorseful then iI feel at least he knows how one feels. He tells me things can get better and back to normal is I’m willing to try. I don’t tell him the only reason I’m still here is for my kids but I’m not sure that is a real reason to stay. I wish the answers would appear. I hate feeling this way day in and day out for the last 10 months. Is there anyone who can tell me if they stayed how they were able to trust again or is it even possible. Is it possible that you can look at this man and love him again like you did?

    Reply
    Michelle

    Jen,
    I am sorry that you are going through this. We are at about the same place. My husband cheated after 28 years of marriage. I was caught completely off guard and am still kicking myself for being so trusting. He finally admitted it almost a year ago, but only after I confronted her. We have 2 children and 2 beautiful grandchildren. I stayed as you did. Not just for the family, but also because it was easier. I have no idea how to break up our lives and divvy everything out. I also look around and I couldn’t imagine dating again. He says that it was the biggest mistake of his life and he almost lost the best thing he ever had. He is trying and our relationship is improving. I think that I still love him, but it will never be the same and I will never love him or look at him the same. The fact that he could do what he did and hurt me the way that he did will never go away. I think that it will get to the point that I can forgive, but will never forget. At 51 I guess that I would rather work on trying to love him and trust him again rather than starting over or being alone.

    Reply
    Hope

    I haven’t commented for quite some time…but been following this. After 29 years of marriage (being together for 31) he was 63,I was 61, my Mother was dying….when he finally told me he had been on a dating sight, Ashley Madison, and cheating on me for 4 years! There were 3 tramps he actually had relationships with. I really think there were more and possibly been cheating longer then that. It took 9 months for him to tell me and the counselor about all of them. He only told bits and pieces of the truth. Every time I was out of town with my Mom or visiting our kids out of state…he’d be off having affairs! He traveled for work and I thought he was working! I hate myself for believing him so much! I had my doubts but didn’t think he would ever do that! We hadn’t been sexually active for like 10 years…due to postmenopause problems after I had a hysterectomy at age 40….and eventually went off hormones. I didn’t think he was sexually capable!! How wrong I was!! He told our counselor he was also into gambling…taking these tramps to casinos, staying in elaborate hot tub suites, steak suppers, and even spent over $300 at a boutique with one! That’s just things I finally saw on our charge card. He was making good money at the time…I even told him it went to his head because he was treating me like dirt. Now I know why. He would come home, I would do his laundry, make him his favorite home cooked food…so he could be off again. He admitted to the counselor he had a sex and gambling addiction. He was more addicted to the excitement of sneaking around then the sex…but that was a bonus. I got the names of all 3 tramps. One of them was a general manager at a motel…I got her fired. She was having sex after work in the motel she worked at! One is now with a transgender! The other is still just a plain tramp! Now…he bought be a diamond and asked me to remarry him again…we have renewed our vows in a very private emotional ceremony, he just retired this past week, still going to a sweet counselor, and our sex life is GREAT! I got on an estrogen cream which is amazing! I still wonder why God let this happen to us…such a disgusting thing. I’m just thankful things worked out for us. I still have trust issues and a lot of stinky thinking. He does stinky thinking too and hates himself. I tell myself he was sick! I hope and pray he doesn’t relapse…but like our counselor say…I know the signs now. He will NOT get a second chance! It’s been almost 2 years now since he’s told me the truth and things are going great. I can forgive (him) but not forget. I’ll never forget. And…for some reason I can’t forgive the women. They got what I wanted. We now have been married 30 years!

    Reply
    Betty B

    I am hurting ,been betrayal by the man I love for 11years.living together for 10.tries forgiving him but can’t forget.

    Reply
    Roxane

    I’m so sorry you went though this..I’m here tonight because I just found out this morning about my husband’s affair.
    This is an incredible article. So much knowledge and understanding.
    I told him today I’d stay, tomorrow may be different, though. I plan on taking it one day at a time right now.
    Hopefully you’re doing the same. I’d love to hear how things are now.

    Reply
    Nichole

    I’ve been looking for a place to post and this seems like it might be the place. My husband and I have been married for 3 years and together for 13 (we took a one year break 5 years ago). I recently discovered he has been seeing another woman for 3 years- he met her a little while before we got married and took our vows while in a relationship with her. Over the years I suspected and it was brushed off. In October of last year and February of this year I discovered it was a sexual relationship but didn’t know the full extent- and was told in February he was done. I was 7 months pregnant at the time. Now, this year on Halloween I discovered he never stopped the affair and I found out all the real details. They have been out of town overnight twice, and he would see this woman for several hours at least 4 times a week. He has been of course lying to me this entire time. Our relationship wasn’t perfect and we had issues that should have been addressed a long time ago- past hurts, communication problems that drove wedge between us. However, since we have been married I was under the impression things were much better. We fight much less, I submit and we have sex whenever he likes. However he has been abandoning me and spending very little time with our family to pursue this relationship. We immediately got into counseling and I have considered and filled out divorce paperwork twice, but decided to try and work it out because I love him dearly. However, a long term affair is a double life- it’s an entire relationship. I’m not sure if I can ever trust that this isn’t going to happen again or believe that he doesn’t have bad intentions. If this were a few times, if he stopped when I initially discovered, or if he told me himself it would be different but I discovered each and every time. He is being transparent at the moment with all his passwords, he’s coming home after work and not staying out but I’m not sure if I can believe what he says. He says he doesn’t know why he kept going back- why he is drawn to her. He said she treated him like a king and would do whatever he wanted including giving him money and gifts and sexual needs of course. This woman loved him- she has a tattoo with his name and hers and even though he won’t admit it I’m sure he loved her too. I don’t think you carry on any relationship for 3 years to this magnitude if there isn’t love. Am I being stupid for even trying to work it out or should I be trying to muster up the courage and strength to leave? I really don’t want to leave and again we have tons of issues that were never addressed. Early on in our relationship before we were married I cheated for 2 years- I was 20 at the time. We have had periods when I withheld sex because he was unemployed and he started this relationship during that time. There have been many mistakes over the years on both our parts but honestly these last few years I’ve been trying to be a model wife, so if he still managed to lie and cheat like this is their hope or a reason to fight for this marriage?

    Reply
    Jill

    Nichole,

    It sounds like you guys have a lot of rough history in your relationship. It is completely your choice as to what the right decision is for you. It may take time to re-build trust and you have the right to give it time to see if it is something that you want to do. The saying “time heals all wounds” has merit in a lot of situations. He does have to be remorseful, and show you his remorse, show you that he is grieving what he did and the past “relationship”. An excellent book titled “Surviving an Affair” has really helped my husband and I. I discovered 8 months ago that he had been in an affair for over a year. One that was physical for about 10 months out of that year. I can relate to the complete feeling of devastation as I too was pregnant and gave birth over that time period. I know that 100% it was not my fault and he just completely lost his way and allowed himself to thwart his opinion of me, which he now sees and I believe him. You have to decide where you think your husband’s heart is. If he doesn’t apologize, or if he isn’t willing to own his mistakes to your family and close friends, then I would say he isn’t worth it and you might want to consider moving on. You may need a lot of time before you are ready to make your decision. Know that the hardest thing is staying and trying to forgive someone who has cheated. I am still plagued by the images of them in my head. A lot of people say it takes 2-3 years to heal but the majority of that healing should take place in the first year. I have just gotten to a point where I feel like I am done asking questions and am just trying to accept that I will never make sense of things as none of it makes sense. So if you decide to do that and stay with him, know that you have the strength within you to leave as well. Best of luck to you.

    Reply
    Lindsey

    I have to be very honest about what makes me angry about articles on affairs. I was actually the nice guy in the relationship. 18 years and I’ve been with a very dysfunctional abusive person. I could sit here and go on for hours and hours about all of this manipulation, physical mental and emotional abuse that I went through, all of the absolute mind rape and garbage that got to the point where I was so starved for love and affection that I had an affair. Not only did I end it but I came forward and I took very very serious consequences, even telling my church what I had done and reaping those consequences. But every article I read on these affairs talks about how the person who had the affair has broken trust and should not have privacy. My abusive husband continues to mistrust me of course, but I know within me there’s a deep sense of Injustice in this. What I do like about this article is that you mentioned that there are many ways to break a relationship. Trust me, 18 years of emotional abuse will do it. But here I am getting scolded and yelled at when all I’m doing is breathing and staring off into space. And if I’m not falling all over them and convincing them everyday that they’re God’s gift to me it’s because they’re still the ogre that they always have been. And yeah many are saying well why do you stay? I don’t have family, I don’t have anywhere to go, I don’t have a job, I don’t have a car, and after I confessed my affair my husband made it very clear to me that if I didn’t stay with him he would quit his job so I would not get alimony or child support. I think that if you say you forgive someone that’s exactly what it should mean. It’s not an opportunity to further abuse and misuse an excuse. What articles on affairs should also address, in my humble opinion, is that there is a large chunk of affairs that happened to very scared and abused women who find themselves in bad situations and make the wrong choice. But many of these women are very good women who confessed and changed.

    Reply
    Jane

    My husband and I have been married for less than two years. We have an 8 month old baby girl together. I recently found out about his affair that according to him started last September. I’m a stay-at-home mom. I take care of our baby 24 hours while he works to make ends meet. So while I was nourishing our baby, he looked for attention somewhere else. Now I can’t even process being hurt because I have to keep my baby happy all the time. I kicked him out by the way, but considering him to move back just because I need the help. I believe he’s a monster for doing this to me and our baby. We’ve been together for almost 10 years and I thought we had a solid foundation. As of today, I feel numb, like it only hurt for a bit. I’m questioning if I still want this marriage to work but I know I will be remorseful in the years to come. I just want what’s best for my baby.

    Reply
    Michelle

    Jane,
    You need to do what you think is best for you and your baby. You have a lot of life left to live. Do you think you can truly forgive him and learn to trust him again? It has been 13 months since I learned the truth about my husband of 29 years. Now I wonder how many other signs I missed through the years. The worst is that I have completely no trust in what he says anymore. I didn’t leave because it was easier to stay, but I feel that I am giving up some of my happiness and a lot of my pride.

    Reply

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