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

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.

    397 Comments

    Nicole

    My husband reconnected with his high school crush at his high school reunion over 13 years ago. They have had an emotional affair for over half of our marriage. I only found out about it when she came to our town for a temp. a job where he loaned her my car. I was so shocked by it that I had a panic attack and ended up in the ER. I thought I was having a mild stroke or a possible heart attack. It was devastating. If finding out about her wasn’t enough I asked if there were other women because I suspected a female co-worker that he would slip up and gush about her, sounding like someone who has a crush on someone. Yup, he was texting her too! She is my main concern now because they work together. The part that hurts the most is how these women often were getting his best, while I was getting his worse. He cheated on me before we got married and now 25 years later here I am dealing with this. I’m working on myself and discovered a great book called “The Empowered Wife, by Laura Doyle” which has been eye-opening. It’s just so hard to do this alone.

    Reply
    Benny

    I’m in a relationship with someone now for 2 years. I’ve been cheated before this relationship, and i’ve been a cheater myself in other relationship. But unlike any other relationship i had before, this one is different or at least i thought it was. I loved her and i still do, and i thought she loved me too. We’d always try our best to show our love to each other and everything to make our realtionship works. But just several days ago i found out that she committed infidelity. Sleeping with many guys which i never knew and couple of times with her friend. I was shocked, i cried, and i couldnt believe it. It hurts a lot. But i really love her. She cried and ask for forgiveness and to continue our relationship. She said she’ll try to fix the damage. But right now im in the state of confusion. I really dont know what to decide. I’ve forgiven someone who cheated on me before and it didnt work (she cheated on me again a year later). Now with all the experiences and the trauma that i have prior to this relationship, i really dont know what to do. But i really love her, and i feel lonely without her. Is this not a love actually? Is this just me being stupid and denial? I really dont know what to do… and i dont know where to seek for an answer. Thanks

    Reply
    Liz L

    Hi my name is Lizbeth I’m currently 20 years old and I have a two month old baby with my baby daddy. I recently found out that he was having an affair with this girl not only for a while but while I was pregnant with his child. He is no longer seeing her this was from last year but this is news to me just now. I honestly don’t know how to feel at this moment because I just feel so betrayed. I wanna really try to work things out not just because of me but because of our sweet babyboy . It’s easy to forgive but so hard to forget I just need help on moving past this so that we can move forward and be happy

    Reply
    Tina

    I found out after a year that my boyfriend cheated mostly with messages and intimacy but a sexual act also took place. Once it ended, I had no idea at the time the relationship was so good. I genuinely felt love but now with this revelation that he had to tell me as his ex found out and would’ve told me I’ve been rocked. I love him very much but how could he do this and how can it ever return to normal?

    Reply
    Daisy

    Thank you for this article I definitely will be taking some of your advice my biggest trouble is that he doesn’t want to discuss it or talk about what happen all I have are assumptions. When I caught him he told me his “story” or what he wanted me to think I gave the chance asked if he had anything else to say then now is the time. But he didn’t later on few weeks later I spoke to the person he had the affair with and well now I have her version of things and when I came to talk to him about it he got on defensive side says he’s ashamed to discuss it or talk about , that I went poking the bear investigating when I should have just left things alone , that he just wants to move passed it !! Is it normal to want to know more to want to know the details ? Anyway I felt that after i gathered more information his story just doesn’t make sense and all these doubts pop up !!! I want to fix my relationship but every time I tell him I wanna talk about he gets all upset and defensive I feel if there isn’t honesty. Then I won’t be able to move on , he says the details don’t matter ; I understand that. We both are at fault and he did tell me what I did wrong. Or what I need improve and I understand that but I don’t get why he won’t just talk about it and I’m not sure I can move on if he doesn’t

    Reply
    Malu

    We’ve been married for 17 yrs. After our 5 yrs of marriage. my husband have another girl will last of 5 months only and after realizing that me and my son are his need in his life, he backed on us and I accepted him so easily. Forgive and start a fresh relationship again. But now I found out that he has another girl just began last year of 2020, he said that because of my flaws and issues that he never discussed to me that’s why he do it again to have an affair with another girl but sadly they have a child with and a PWD (cleft palate). But his families want us to try to fixed this problem. I can’t imagine that I will be here in this situation again. Because all married couple should have a communication to solve all problems and no perfect relationship either. But that is not happening to us instead, he always find another girl to make his sigh to listens every time he is upset to me. And now, we are fixing together to make our marriage back to normal but I cant feel the remorse and he is too busy finding a money to survive the child to operation from cleft palate. I do not know what to do, I asked myself if I will keep on fighting just because I love him and because we had 2 children or let him go because it cant be fix anymore if only myself do effort to fix this marraige. But I prayed to God that miracle happens to us to change his attitude, to be more responsible. So sad, that this happens to all girls who truly give devoted time, and give all to husband.

    Reply
    Def

    I need to take this out of my chest… I am 23yo and I’ve been in a beautiful relationship for the last six years, my first bf, my first love. I deeply love/loved him, and I found out that early this year he slept with another girl. I found out last week the horrible way, this is reading his texts with her, which I hate doing, but I had this bad feeling about his “friendship” with her. In April I asked him about her, if there was something happening between them, and he swore there was nothing and questioned me why the lack of trust. When I busted him last week, he swore it was a mistake, and that he slept with her only one time and he felt really bad about it, and I believe this is true. This happened in January, but he kept talking to her, as a friend but anyways, it hurt. And in May he sent her an audio telling her he wanted to meet her (for the obvious reason).
    So I don’t know what to do… I know he is deeply sorry, and he won’t talk to her again in his life, but how do I know he won’t have an affair later, if I decide to go on? We had amazing moments together, and he never treated me wrong, besides this, but I’m also young and I don’t want to regret it later. If I decide to stay together I know I am going to use the affair as a weapon in every fight, so should I try to stay away a while, may be meet new people, and then if my feelings for him are still there, try again?

    Reply
    cnm cnm

    Ive been married for almost 4 years. He’s in the military and i just recently found out he cheated on me twice. We talked for a long time and he said he’s wanting to try and make things work between us. I just need some advice on to how to cope with everything. I’m so heartbroken and i really don’t know what i should do. We don’t know how to fix something like this in a marriage. We just need advice on how to overcome this.

    Reply
    Rose

    My story is extremely complex, but here it is in brief. When I reached the menopause I was unable to remain intimate. MH was not interested in pursuing other avenues around this and didn’t initiate any discussion over it. I thought we were doing ok, everything seemed as normal from then on. I suggested we could just cuddle, but he said no, it would give him feelings. Fast forward 10 years and he has recently been placed into a secure dementia care unit. Going through his bits and pieces, it’s clear he was seeing a prostitute, for how long, I don’t know. Possibly as long as 15 years. I found names and phone numbers, a list of what I call sex supplements and a list of my email addresses. He had clearly been into my office, copied these down and decided I was having an affair online and felt he was justified by doing what he did. He never came to me to query the email addresses which were all perfectly legit and innocent. I can tell from things he’s jotted down, that somebody else was feeding him ideas that were inaccurate in our case. He didn’t know or understand anything about the internet, but beneath the prostitute’s name were things like Notebook and Tablet written down. It would appear she might have told him to check that I might have these things so I couId secretly carry on an affair. I look back and remember he was suddenly very interested in the credit card and bank statements. I suspect ‘she’ told him to check them for suspicious activity. He would have found none. It is possible he was already getting confused with his dementia by then, but I have no way of discussing any of this with him now as lucid conversation with him is no longer possible. There is no closure for me. I was already under extreme stress with losing him to dementia and now I have this to deal with as well.

    Reply
    Brokenhearted wife

    Last month, I found out my husband for almost 14 years cheated on me. We have 3 years old son. I love him so much. I gave everything for him. I have a lot of friends but I do not really go out with them even for coffee or any celebration unless with my husband around. My life revolve around him. My world and happiness. I wanted everything that is new in my life such as any experiences, foods, any travels, etc. I wanted to experience it with him. I’ve never been in any relationship before. No experience of breaks up or any kind of pains related to this. 😢

    The painful part is she brought her home as if they were just friends. I welcomed her, cooked food for her as our guest. But for 8 fucking(sorry for my word) months, she was my husband’s MISTRESS!!! Everytime I went to work in the morning (6:30-7:00am), she arrives in our house when our son and nanny still sleeping. They usually wakes up around (9am). During the time I left home and 9am, imagine what the 2 lovers will do when they are just the 2 of them in
    a private place??? 🤔

    And if I worked at night, she came that time too, whenever she knew I am not home. Who gives her my schedule? Of course my loving husband who asked me to wrote down my schedules because he forgots whatever I told him in advance. So, the naive wife wrote down her schedules in a calendar for a months and months in advance (stupid!!!)🤦‍♀️

    And by the way, I wish that woman is younger than me but nope! 10 years older with 2 children ages around 20 & 23.
    I wish my child is the same old as them so I can just packed my bags in the middle of the night and took a plane and fly away where even my shadow cannot be seen by him!!! I HATE HIM SOOOO MUCH 😭

    I do love my son so much but I wish he wasn’t born yet or the affairs happened before he was conceived. I do love my husband so much. However, I will give him away in a seconds!!!! I won’t hesitate to leave and kick him out of my life. He BETRAYED me! It is soooo painful! 😭
    Actually, not even 24hours passed, I contacted a lawyers already for our divorce. Within 48hours I have all the papers ready and signed, waiting only for his signatures but he said he doesn’t want to sign it. That he loves me and my son. He wanted to be with us. He cried infront of me telling all lies. Because I found out whatever he told me, he was telling the other woman more. He said he was trying to iron the situation so that the other woman wouldn’t tell me all the truth. He was scared to what that woman will tell me about them. He said, he wanted to erase everything and just leave it all and move on with his real family!😡

    If not with my son at his age, I would not want to see my husband ever again!!!!😢
    I saw almost all their messages through emails, cellphone, messenger. What a love story!!! He acknowledged her as her wife, his lover, that he love her more than life itself. that in msgs, saying he was willing to leave her wife for her, that all the pictures in my facebook are all lies that we looked happy but we are not!!! What the f…????? Anyways, he told me that those are all lies!!!! That he lied to her to keep her in his hands. He is dreaming if believed him??? No way!!!! I hate him sooo much!!!! 😤

    Reply
    Jo

    Me and my wife married for 8 years. Just this two months ago, i notice a change in her behavour. She will be on the phone for long hours. When i checked with her, she will just mentioned that she is arranging her work stuffs.
    In the past, she will set curfew on me to be back home by 11.30pm latest. I was out late as i worked in financial instituitions and at time had late dinner and some “me” time to get off my stress.
    We had quarrels but eventually i agree to her curfew. She will demand to see my text messages which i do let her see as i am clear of my consciousness.
    Just these 2 months she gets to know of a guy from one of the music class. They have been on the line for long perod of time and replied each every messages. And they start talking about sex stuff.
    I have already made known of my suspicion and my boundaries. She reassure that there is nothing between them. 1st occasion, she went out with him mentioning a dinner. But she only came back next day 5am plus. I asked about the curfews she made. She got angry and said that it is uplifted as moving on she will be hanging out late. The next 2 occasions, she went out and came back similarly 5 or 6am.
    I am devastated. I login to her laptop and view her messages. To my horror, bitterness and broken to the every pieces of my heart, the messages on how they enjoy each other company, the sex positions, how she felt for him all crushed in me.
    I may not be an interesting person but i never failed to listen. It took me one week to think things thru. I have filed a divorce. But strangely, i forgiven her but i cannot forget that it happen.
    She resents that i have con her in the marriage for not tell her i am in debt, and not knowing that my mum character clashes with her.
    However, i may not provide her the lavished lifestyle, but i did not deprived her of accomodation, paying for the household needs, going for a short getaway. To an extend where she threatened to divorce if i don’t get my mum out of the house. I ask my mum to move back to her place too. Yes, i did took some time to these issues but i never failed trying to give her the assurances. All these are settled 2 years ago and i was thinking we can move on better.
    But what she did recently, using all the above as a reason for an affair, i cannot justify. The reason i chosen divorce is to make a clear end to the problematic relationships. I still love her but that doesn’t mean i can trust her now. All she could mentioned is how she is being patience with me on my issues etc. But she did not see that i have equally or even more given myself into this relationship.
    She was expecting another chance but i am not ready to it. I will be suspicious, obsessive., doubting, and many other negative thoughts. Knowing her character, she will not be able to withstand and eventually, will reach a bitter end. Thus no matter how much i don’t wish to let go, i will still have to.
    Maybe after this, we can remain as friends. Maybe as friends, we can redevelop the trust and understands each other more. Without the word Marriage as a binding factor, maybe we can be more true to ourselves and open to each other.
    Hope my experiences can let anyone of you out there that it is not the end of the world but sometimes letting go a relationship is a way to let go of both parties in a boundless pit call marriage.

    Reply
    Paula B

    I’ve been married for 25 years.
    Almost 3 years ago my husband told me that he met a cocaine addicted young girl (29) and he was helping( he used the word “saving) her to become clean. 20 minutes of conversation at a point I realized it was all ok, unless he had slept with her…and he said yes. I felt violated, revolted, betrayed. I was agressive. It was a period of devastation. Our marriage was gone. We stayed together, but there were no peace for me. We went to counselling, but deep inside of me, I could not forgive the betrayal. Later I found that he was paying her for each time he was with her and it last for 7 months. He was not honest with me and I keep on finding more things. I tried to understand but It was impossible to. The all affair was surreal. I could not recognize that person, that was my husband and it was really hard to realize that he was so manipulated and didn’t put an end to it just because he had to accomplish something that it was not for him. What about me? Would he do something so destructive unless he was not in love? How could he?
    Almost 3 years passed and we are together but there isn’t a clear day. I can’t put the pieces all together We’ve been talking a lot, but I don’t feel ok. My feelings had changed. My image of getting old with him was no longer a scenario. I see his failures, his weakness. I have constantly triggers, images of them, questions and find myself wanting the only thing he can’t give- the sense of beeing loved. He is doing efforts but he can’t reach me. I’m lost and feel I can’t live like this. I’m the one with a gap.

    Reply
    RD

    I am married almost 33 years and around 28 years my husband started cheating. I didn’t find out for two years that he was cheating with hookers. Said they never had sex which I believe because he’s been impotent for a while and never wanted to get help. We were on a weekend in New York and I saw the Sexting on his phone we were at a concert he was mortified and drunk and left on his way back to the hotel he called it a hooker and had oral sex with her in our hotel room. When I went back to the room I instantly knew someone had been there but he didn’t tell me what was going on till the next morning. I was in complete shock and needed him to get home. We had already been in therapy for two years when he started cheating. So he lied to me and the therapist. It’s been a really rough road but we have a lot of history and a lot of glue. We’ve been working really hard with a therapist to get past this and I can see that he has changed a lot and he wants this to work. I’m having a very hard time believing that he could do something like this in a very hard time trusting him and forgiving him. I just don’t know what to do.

    Reply
    D

    Thank you for this article. Found out my new fiancé and boyfriend of almost 12 years had an affair for 9 months up until our engagement. I’m upset that I don’t know what to do or how to feel or process the situation. It’s all extremely painful and upsetting. This article helped me understand what my thoughts are are normal.

    Reply
    Kaye

    I appreciate this article. My husband of almost 39 years has had a virtual affair, again. The first time was just phone calls, this time phone calls, text messages, naked photos, and he sent her gifts. She lives across the country, is half his age and also married, with small children. She is the same age as our middle daughter! It had been going on for at least three months. I knew something was up but didn’t want to believe he could do this to me again. When confronted at first he denied, but after me being persistent about wanting the truth he admit it. He actually went to a dating website and set up a profile which is how they met. We are trying to work through this, but I feel so sad, lonely, defeated, and worthless I don’t know which end is up. I don’t want a divorce, I meant the vows we took. I can’t believe that at this point in my life I can feel this devastated!

    Reply
    Fabian

    I dated this girl for 2 years. I really loved her much. However I made mistakes by putting her down countless times. Even to this day, I have nightmares and deep regret of what pain I caused to her. It became a bigger problem when after I broke up with her, a week later I found out that she moved on from me and she was dating someone else. My heart contorted in rage, disbelief and utter betrayal. She was dating my best friend. I cried so much that day after I came home from school. I didn’t tell my parents or anyone for nearly 2 years. I sometimes feel guilty but moreover, revenge. I was betrayal not only by my ex girlfriend but by my best friend. Now that I think about it, it just makes my lust for revenge grow. I know I did wrongful things to her first but I came face to face with her and I apologized for all the pain I caused to her. She did forgive me later on. It hurts my heart so much that it’s been over 2 years currently and she hasn’t apologized to me in any shape or form. That’s all I care about now. Not restoring our relationship but rather wanting to hear her say that’s she is truly sorry for cheating on me, betraying me and making me lose my confidence, my security, my value of life and my general view of life as a whole.

    Reply
    Chloe

    Thank you so much for this article. I’m 24 years old and have tons of personal problems. This past year I’ve been struggling with surviving a rape episode which has made me feel like less of a person and hate myself. In that period I cheated on my partner. I didnt even want to, I didnt even like it, it just allowed me to hate myself even more, and with reason (tellling myself i’m a bad person). My partner is a sweet open hearted man. He was angry and hurt when I told him about it. Finally, he decided to forgive me. He said I was not a bad person, and he loved me and still believed in us. My heart feels heavy all the time, I really want this to work out. He talked about how our relationship seemed so beautiful before, like a movie. But all that time I was hurting, lost and didnt know how to live with myself. How do I open up about it now? I feel like I don’t have the right to tell him that he didnt see me, when he still hurt because of this terrible thing I did to him.

    Reply
    Julia

    I just discovered that my boyfriend whom I live with of almost 4Yrs has been having an affair with his ex wife. The very woman he left and divorced because “she’s fat, ugly inside and out, not a good mother like she should be to their young child, a crazy, manipulative liar whom he wished would die” (all of his words over the last 4Yrs) and it took me figuring out that he was cheating by seeing her constant phone calls out of the blue one day when he was working from home. For 4Yrs he has said nothing ever positive about her and would avoid any activity that involved having to see her at ball practice/games the child is involved in. When I asked him why she was calling, he hesitated and said he didn’t know but then I played her voicemail where she said she left her sunglasses and Covid mask in his truck and that she and their child had a wonderful weekend vacation last weekend. He has been “traveling for work” a lot more in the last 4 months than ever before. And I even text him multiple times during his “work travels” telling him that I don’t feel right/something feels off/and I even said multiple times to his face that if he ever were to feel he wanted to be with another that surely he would be a man and respectful and tell me BEFORE cheating. He always said that isn’t the case and yes he would tell me but “I’m the love of his life and he wishes it was me who he married and had a child with instead of his crazy ex”. Meanwhile, he’s been vacationing for 4 months with her and their son YET his son is with us every other weekend and sees ME after his parents vacationed with the child for 4 straight months!? I’m furious that both of them exposed their child to this despicable disrespectful behavior and how confusing it must all have been for this child. Once he was busted, I contacted her and she said he had been telling her for the last 8 months that “he and I aren’t in a relationship, we’re just roommates” and she bought that BS! Hook line and sinker! She is a very insecure person and allowed herself to believe he wasn’t in a relationship with me, the person she knows even 20 Yrs ago that he wanted to be with me and I make her feel insecure because I am much different than she is in every way but she fell for the lies and once she and I began to communicate about this affair she broke things off with him and he of course wants to be with me and work through this. She now is so hurt and angry that she is constantly texting me and telling me intimate details of their affair and part of me wants to know but another part of me feels I don’t need to know everything but yet I don’t know if I can figure this out or heal without knowing the details. Does that even make sense? That’s the thing, our relationship & his affair has caused me to feel nothing makes sense with him anymore. I’m constantly questioning myself and memories that pop into my thoughts and I question the validity of everything now. Is it worth trying to work things out? She is the mother of his child so she will be in his life forever. I don’t want to constantly question if he will cheat again when things aren’t exactly “perfect” between he and I. Will this doubt the affair has created within myself ever go away? I’ve never in my life felt insecure or insecurities but now that’s an overwhelming and constant feeling. I’m angry that I feel this way because I feel like I allowed him/her to cause me to question the last 4 years of my life… I’m angry that someone has caused me to doubt myself and feel insecurities when at the same time I do feel that if I left this fractured relationship that I would thrive and maybe that’s what I need to do? I’m not the type that has to be in a relationship in order to feel happy or complete or secure because I’ve always felt comfortable in my own skin but if I do choose to leave and not work on repairing our relationship like he wants to, will I stop feeling this overwhelming feeling of pressure/weight that’s in my heart and mind? Or will leaving for good be what helps me rid myself of the damage he has caused? I can’t help but feel like I am 50/50 on staying or leaving the relationship and I believe that’s what’s causing the intense feeling of being under pressure and questioning my every thought of our last 4 yrs. He’s admitted and apologized and answered every single question I’ve asked honestly (because she has told me just about everything they did and she “wants transparency with me” because she does have a child that is with us every other weekend) but knowing even details I shouldn’t want to know, I still feel like something is very off and I have this overwhelming feeling that I need to be guarded every waking minute like I am in fight or flight mode and it is exhausting emotionally and physically for me. How will I ever know the best decision to make? Sure hope this gets easier because I feel like leaving would bring me the inner peace I desperately want to feel but what if this is just part of the healing process and I would be happier staying and working to repair everything I thought we once had?

    Reply
    Anonymous

    I found out 6 months ago that my husband of 22 years was having an affair. She contacted me by email after he allegedly broke it off although in her subsequent messages she told me it was her decision to end it because he refused to commit to leaving me. He has given me full disclosure sharing all the details of their 10month affair. We have discussed why it happened (busy lives with all our time spent on our children and none on us and an opportunistic contact from an old school friend) and we now have the best relationship any couple can hope for. He is regretful of his actions every day and I have no doubt that he loves me deeper now than he has ever done. Despite that I am really struggling to forgive. I know that it may take longer but every day I am haunted by mental images of them together and it’s breaking me mentally and physically. I know I should not have asked the detailed questions I asked but I can’t stop and can’t un know what I know. We both want our marriage to work and have seen how good it can be but I know there is no hope if I can’t forgive. How can I move forward?

    Reply
    Becca

    Been with my boyfriend since September of last year. We agreed to be exclusive in July. 9 months later I found out he was seeing another person throughout July and talking to other girls up until the end of august. He lied about it for our entire relationship. How do we come back from this?

    Reply
    Elisa C

    My husband if 29 years confessed to having an on again off again affair with a married woman for the last 15 yrs. I also found out he is the biological father of two of her children. Her husband has no idea. He says he loves me and regrets it all. I’m so hurt and angry. Inspire of everything I still love him. What is wrong with me?

    Reply
    Emily

    Everything in this article is what I felt and is what I needed to decide my next step I can’t thank you enough for writing this…
    My husband of 13 years, whom I trusted with my life, broke the trust. Someone I’d never in a million years did what I’d never think they’d do. He’s completely shattered my heart and my trust… however I hear his cries, see his face, the sadness and emptiness. Please send us good love and vibes as I start to rebuild with him., because after it all. I love him

    Reply
    Stephanie

    how can you forgive your partner if he cheated on you and got the other girl pregnant? he says he regrets everything and is willing to work for our relationship but the fact that he has a baby coming is killing me. i dont know if the baby can be a part of our life if we continue. i may sound selfish for telling him that if he wants to continue our relationship he should leave the baby (but give financial support only).

    i really thought he is the one. i dont know what to do. leave him now or let our love continue and just see what happens. this is really hard.

    Reply
    Sally

    Me and my partner split after I found out about his infidelity..he couldn’t hide it anymore as he passed on the “consequence” to me if you “catch” my drift..he said it was because we was distant with each other..which we was! And he did try previous to this but i didn’t respond, after we had officially broken up, a week later I found pictures of him and his new girlfriend (different women) half naked on social media, some time later after alot of talks we decided we both wanted to try again and that we BOTH have realised where we went wrong in the relationship, he realised that he’s not right in himself and is antidepressants now, This was 3 months ago now, the relationship is stronger, I feel..and it sounds strange but im sort of glad it all happened to make me realise, but I haven’t gone a day in 3 months without drinking to block out the images of him and her, its all I picture before I go to sleep, I am now finding im hiding alcohol because he’s commented on how many bottles im buying, I don’t drink during the day just of a night when the pictures in my mind and thoughts are more vivid, weve been together for 8 years and have a beautiful son together but the memories of them together hurt so much and I know they will never go away.

    Reply

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    One of our rituals was in the week before Christmas, we’d go shopping and each kiddo would choose a keepsake decoration for the tree. This would forever be their decoration. To make sure we’d remember who owned what (a year is a long time!) I wrote their name and year on the box. The idea is that when they leave home, they’ll have a collection of special decorations for their own tree, plump with throwbacks (‘Oh I remember when we bought this!).

Then of course there was Christmas morning. Santa would leave a note on the table and bootprints on the front path, which smelled remarkably like talcum powder. So magical the way the snow was under the boot and never melted, even in an Australian summer! But that’s the magic of Christmas, right?!

We often put so much pressure on ourselves to make Christmas magical. Rituals can make this easier. They get the special memories, you get to make the ‘magic’ without having to come up with something new and different each year.

It’s very likely that there will already be Christmas rituals happening in your family, even if you don’t realise it. Ask them what they remember most, or what they loved most about last Christmas, aside from the presents.

They might surprise you with things you’d completely forgotten about, or which at the time didn’t seem to be a biggie. It can be the simplest things. Maybe they loved the way they were allowed to have ice-cream with pancakes at breakfast last Christmas. (Ice-cream at breakfast?! Told you Christmas was magical!!). 

If it’s what they remember, and if it lights them up, let it become a ‘thing’. Maybe they loved the magic ‘neverending carrot’ sprinkles you put on the scrawny carrot you found in the vege drawer (remembering reindeer groceries can be so hard sometimes!)

You’d be surprised what they find special. It doesn’t have to be big to feel magical.

What are your Christmas rituals? Let’s share ideas in the comments.♥️
    We're having a sale! For a limited time, books and plushies are 25% off. 

Because sales are the best, and Christmas is the best, and helping kiddos find their brave is the very best of all! So, to celebrate the end of the year (because truly, it's been a year hasn't it), and to help you settle brave hearts for next year, or night times, or separations, or, you know, all the things, we're taking 25% off books and plushies in the Hey Sigmund shop.

There's no need to enter a code. The books and bundles are already marked with their special sale prices. You'll find them all there - plushies, books, bundles - doing shopping cartwheels, beside themselves excited about helping your young ones feel bigger than anxiety, and shimmy on to brave. 
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    It can feel as though the only way to strengthen them against their anxiety is to make sure they have nothing to worry about, but when their worries are real this might not happen quickly. 

Instead, we need to focus on helping them know that even though those worries are there, they will be okay. ‘Not worrying’ isn’t the antidote to anxiety, trust is. This will start with trust in you and your belief that they will be okay, and trust in your reaction if things don’t go to plan. Eventually, as they grow this will expand into trust in themselves and their own capacity to find their way through challenges to a place of hope and strength. 
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    Strong steady breathing will reverse the fight or flight physiology that causes nausea, butterflies, or sick or sore tummies during anxiety. BUT telling an anxious brain to take a strong steady breath will potentially make anxiety worse unless strong steady breathing feels familiar. Practising during calm times will make it familiar. 

During anxiety we’re dealing with their amygdala, and it wants short shallow breathing to conserve oxygen. It doesn’t want strong steady breathing and will work hard to resist this. 

An anxious brain is a busy brain and it will be less able to do anything unfamiliar. A few minutes of strong steady breathing each day will set up a strong neural pathway to make strong breathing more automatic and accessible during anxiety. 

In the meantime though, you can do it for them. This is the magic of co-regulation. When you do strong steady breathing during their anxiety, it will calm your nervous system which will eventually calm theirs. You will catch their anxiety, and this will feed into their anxiety. Your strong steady breathing is the circuit breaker. They will catch your anxiety, but they will also catch your calm. Don’t worry if this takes a few minutes (and maybe a few more after that). Anxious brains are strong, powerful, beautiful brains working hard to protect. Breathe and be with. This will open the way for that distressed young nervous system to find its way home. And you don’t need to do more than that.♥️
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    Needs and behaviour can get tangled up and treated as one. When you can, separate the need from the behaviour. Give voice to the need - let it find a way to breathe - and redirect the behaviour. 

The need might always be clear, especially if it’s being smothered by angry shouting words. If we stifle the behaviour without acknowledging the need, the need stays hungry. Help usher it into the light by making it clear that you’re ready to receive it. Then wait. Wait for the big behaviour to ease, for bodies to calm, and angry voices to soften - but keep the way to you open. ‘You’re a great kid and I know you know that behaviour wasn’t okay. Talk to me about what’s happening for you.’

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