How Long Should It Take To Let Go Of An Affair? Why Can’t My Spouse Let Go?

The time frame for letting go of an affair is a concern that I hear from people on both sides of the issue. For example, I sometimes hear from the spouse who was cheated on. Sometimes, they can’t help but notice that the spouse who cheated appears not to have totally “let go” of the other person. Sure, they may be saying that the affair is over and they want to save their marriage, but it can be pretty obvious that they are still sort of moping around. The faithful spouse may assume that this means that the cheating spouse misses the person they had the affair with or are sad that it’s over.

I often hear comments like: “my husband says the affair is over and that he is committed to me, our children, and our marriage. However, he’s doesn’t seem truly invested in any of these things. He mopes around. He doesn’t really participate in family life. He doesn’t seem particularly excited by me or our marriage. When I mention this to him, he says that he just needs some time. When I tell him that it appears to me that he’s not let go of the affair, he will again repeat that he needs some time. But it’s been about 4 months now. How much time does he really need? I’m starting to think that he’s never going to really get over it and our marriage is over. How much time should I give him before I just give up?”

Here’s another example but it comes from the cheating spouse. I recently heard from a husband who said that he’d had an affair about a year and a half ago. He had worked very hard to make things right with his wife. He had ended the affair and they had been faithfully attending counseling. He had done everything in his power to show his wife that he loved her and would not cheat again. However, the wife didn’t seem able to let it go. He said, in part: “We’re going on two years now and my wife still seems to unable to let my infidelity go. I have done everything in my power to make amends. I give her everything that she asks me for. But no matter what, she finds a way to bring up my affair, throw it in my face, and remain angry. I’m starting to think that she’s never going to get over this and frankly, I can’t live this way for the rest of my life. How much time should you give someone in this situation before you just decide the marriage was too damaged by the affair?”

I think that many of the people who ask me questions such as this are hoping that I will give them a set time line. I think that some of them are actually considering giving their spouse a deadline. Unfortunately, I can’t offer such a time line. Every person and situation is different. However, in the following article, I’ll offer you some tips and some things to consider in this situation.

Even Though There’s No Set Time Frame For Letting The Affair Go, You Want To See Some Progress. If You Don’t, You Want To Explore Why: Many faithful spouses can’t understand the need for closure from the spouse who cheated. After all, they decided to end the affair and walk away, so why is it hard for them to do just that? I’ve never cheated on my spouse. But I can share some of the sentiments from those that have on my blog. Some people in this situation tell me that it’s hard to have a relationship one day and then be just expected to turn your back on it the next. Additionally, many of them are responding to their guilt and shame for their actions. They know that they have let down both people. They know that you are angry and distrustful as a result of their actions. Therefore, it’s not that easy to act as if everything is back to normal or that nothing has changed.

I don’t tell you this to make excuses. I tell you this in the hopes to shed some light on this. However, even if your spouse is having trouble adjusting to life after their affair, they should cut off all contact with the other person and place their focus on you and your own family. You may not see them back to their old selves immediately, but the idea is that they do a little better each day while the both of you are trying to reconnect, rebuild, and heal.

If you are not seeing this, then you’ll want to have a very frank discussion to determine why. It’s normal for there to be an adjustment period, but you should also be seeing things gradually getting better.

On the flip side, if you are the spouse who cheated and you’re not seeing much improvement in your spouse’s ability to let your infidelity go, take a look at what you’ve done to help them heal. Because they need to believe without any doubt that you’re truly sorry, that you won’t cheat again, and that your marriage can and will recover.

What If I’m Not Seeing Any Progress Despite My Best Efforts? Do I Give My Spouse A Deadline To Let The Affair Go?: Sometimes when I tell spouses who have cheated this, they’ll respond with something like “but that’s just it. My wife doesn’t believe we can get through this, even though I know we can. How can I make her see that it’s safe to let this go? And if she can’t do I give her a deadline?”

Or, if I’m speaking with a faithful spouse I’ll hear things like “It’s as if the other woman still has a hold over my husband even though the affair is over. I’m doing everything in my power to restore my marriage, but he doesn’t seem interested in me.”

I know that both of these are two very separate issues, but usually the underlying problem is the same. In these situations, it’s my opinion that there are still some issues that haven’t been addressed or haven’t been solved enough that they aren’t still coming up. When I tell people this, they often insist that they have been through absolutely everything and they are tired of rehashing it all of the time. I understand this. But if you don’t settle all of the issues once and for all, they are only going to keep coming up and “letting go” of the affair becomes even more unlikely.

I know that it can be painful and awkward to revisit the past but you have to make sure that you have covered all of the bases and been willing to “go there” with your spouse to show them that you are willing to do whatever is needed to help them to move on.

Admittedly, they are some people who will eventually realize that they just can’t let the affair or the infidelity go and this will end their marriage. But I also think that there are people who think that this is the case with them, when in reality, they just haven’t yet gotten what they needed. And, once they do, they are able to put this past them. Because the truth is, no one enjoys struggling with themselves or their marriage after an affair. The vast majority of people truly do want to move on and let go, but they don’t always have the tools to do so.

That’s why I never think it’s a good idea to give your spouse an ultimatum or a deadline. If YOU make the choice to move on without your spouse, then this is your prerogative (although I’d recommend trying some of the tips in this article first.) But I don’t think you can or should attempt to force them to make theirs.

There was a time when I thought I would never be able to let go of my husband’s affair, but this is in the past. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, my marriage is stronger. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is at an all time high. I no longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

How Do I Show Him I Love Him After His Infidelity?

If you’ve not ever dealt with infidelity, you might not understand how you can still love your spouse but be gravely disappointed in his cheating.  I did not understand this until my own husband had an affair.  Before this discovery, I thought that if he ever cheated on me, we would be done.  And right after I discovered the affair, I still thought this.  But what I didn’t consider was that the thought of denying my kids a full-time life with their dad and the idea of letting go of my life partner was much more difficult than I ever imagined.  What you don’t understand until you have gone through this yourself is that the love doesn’t diminish instantaneously because of infidelity.  You can’t just stop loving someone out of principal, at least I couldn’t.

But many cheating spouses assume exactly this – they figure that once you find out about the affair, you are automatically going to hate them.  Many figure that they’re going to end up divorced no matter what.  This isn’t all that surprising, since many of us have been telling our spouse exactly this for our entire marriage: We state that if he ever cheated, we would be done with him.  So it’s understandable that our hatred is exactly what he’d assume.  Both of you might be shocked when you find out that you don’t exactly hate him. But explaining what you do feel, and getting him to believe it, might be a different story.

A wife might say, “this is a weird situation, but my husband thinks that I hate him after he had an affair.  He says that I should hate him because he hates himself. He willingly moved out and every time he comes over to see the kids, he acts like he doesn’t deserve to be here. He rarely makes eye contact with me.  He said that he’s assuming that we’re going to get a divorce because he knows that I won’t ever look at him the same way again.  I haven’t made any decisions about our marriage and I do not want to rush things. So it’s annoying that he’s immediately going toward a divorce. He swears that he’d do anything to maintain our family, but he can’t imagine how I could manage this. Here is the truth.  I still love my husband and I’ve told him so.  I’ve laid out to him that I’m very angry with him and that I’m not sure about our marriage.  But my underlying love for him is not gone.  I’m very disappointed, but I can’t just not love the father of my children. My husband has done so many kind things and so much good for me while I’ve known him.  I can’t just forget about that. I’ve told him that no matter what, even if we divorce, I will always love him and want a good relationship with him, but he seems determined not to believe me.  How do I make him believe that I still love him? Or is that even important?”

I understand where you are coming from.  I was a little shocked myself that I was able to separate my fury with what my husband did with my husband himself.  That isn’t to say that I was not enraged by the affair.  But I never lost sight of what a good man my husband had always been.  I could not just ignore that. And I knew that I still loved my husband.  I just didn’t know if that would be enough to overcome the infidelity.  Ultimately we made it. But not without a lot of work and effort.  I was always clear with my husband that I was not out to ruin his life.  I told him from the beginning that it was never my intention to keep his children from him or to punish him financially or otherwise.

On the flip side, though, I never felt the need to prove or to “show” him that I still loved him. I figured that as we did the work to try to recover, this would become obvious. And I think that I was right about that.  Because once you go through all the rehabilitation and recovery after an affair, you realize that you wouldn’t go through all this hassle, pain, and inconvenience if you didn’t love the person or didn’t want for it to work out.  That just becomes fairly obvious with time, so I never felt the need to spell it out.

I think that what you can do is to keep treating your husband with mutual respect.  With time, hopefully he will come to realize that you’re still there and still committed to working with him no matter what happens.  I don’t think that you need to overcompensate or put yourself in a position where you’re trying to convince him of your love.  You are not the one who did anything wrong, so generally speaking, your giving your spouse access to yourself and the family is a good faith effort to show him that you’re still committed.  In time, if the two of you make improvements and progress, he should eventually believe that you are still committed to and loving toward him.  It is probably hard for him to understand how you feel because we all assume that we’re going to hate our spouse when something like this happens. It’s not until you walk in the actual infidelity shoes that you learn that things are not as you’d always assumed.  In time, as you improve and do the work, the love that remains for one another should become apparent.  But things are raw and fresh right now.  Just continue to be as patient and transparent as you have been and eventually, the reassurance should start to sink in with your husband. Loving him does not mean giving him a pass.  It just means that you’re not turning your back on your feelings while you give him a chance to make this right.

As you may have guessed, not everyone understood that I still loved my husband.  But that’s okay.  My marriage, and my feelings, are not anyone else’s business.  I DID NOT allow my love to cause me to give him a pass or to excuse his behavior.  Love was not enough.   There were many things that needed to happen before I would commit to my marriage again.  You can read more at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Husband Is Obviously Feeling Guilty After His Affair And I Don’t Know How To React To It

Many faithful spouses in an affair will freely admit that they’d like to see their cheating spouse expressing guilt and remorse.  There are many reasons for this.  First, they want for their spouse to feel many of the negative and hurtful emotions that they’re now feeling because of his affair.  They also figure that he deserves every guilt feeling that surfaces.  And, even better, if he feels truly guilty, perhaps he will think twice before he cheats again.

Still, when you are dealing with a spouse who is moping around the house and overcompensating for his guilt everyday, it can start to wear on you.  Perhaps you begin to think that this display of guilt is posturing or overkill.  It’s not uncommon for wives to have conflicting feelings about all of the guilt.  Someone might say, “I”ll be honest.  I like that my husband is hurting after his affair.  I like that he feels awful about it and thinks poorly of himself.  He deserves all of these feelings.  Because what I’ve been feeling has been no picnic in the park, either. But sometimes, his guilt leaks into the whole house.  Don’t get me wrong.  He should feel guilty.  He used our family’s money to buy trips and gifts for this woman.  He took money that my children could have used.  He lied to me, to his mother, and to our kids.  He snuck around like a little weasel.  He continued having sex with me during the affair.  So yes, he should be eaten up with guilt.  But it’s almost painful to watch.  He walks around all slumped over and looking like he’s going to cry at any minute.  I constantly catch him just staring into space.  If we go to a restaurant, he will order salad and water.  He will say that he deserves nothing more.  He just had a birthday and he insisted that no one buy him any gifts because he said that he wasn’t deserving.  If our kids try to show him affection, sometimes he will burst into tears and say that he doesn’t deserve their love.  He spends money that we really don’t have buying me guilt gifts.  So I’m not quite sure how I feel about this.  On one hand, he should feel guilty.  On the other hand, he’s a drag to be around.  At some point, he’s going to have to meet me like an equal if we’re going to save our marriage.  And he acts as if he almost can’t bear to talk to me. How should I handle this?”

If you are in counseling, I’d ask your counselor to handle this. He or she will know the best way to deal with it.  If you are not in counseling, I’d highly recommend it because a man who feels this badly about himself is vulnerable to undesirable behaviors and actions.  Not only that, but as you’ve already alluded to, if he can’t concentrate on much else besides his guilt, it’s going to be hard to move forward.

You’re right in that some guilt is appropriate and healthy, but so much guilt that it becomes destructive isn’t ideal, either. You could always try to have a conversation like, “you don’t have to order salad and water.  I know that you feel guilty and I understand why.  But taking it so far that we can’t enjoy a family dinner out is not helping anyone. It’s not great for our kids to see their dad this far down.  Why don’t we explore counseling and see what we can do about our family so that this gets better?  It’s not helpful for any of us to feel this defeated all of the time.  We need to address the affair and to try to move forward in some sort of healthy way for our family, but we’re not going to be able to do that if your guilt keeps you from thinking that you deserve to participate.”

People sometimes ask me if this type of guilt is legitimate or if the husband is just posturing.  Many times, it’s totally legitimate. Imagine if you were caught in this type of lie.  Imagine how embarrassed and ashamed you would feel. Imagine how difficult it would be to look your kids in the eye.  This is what your husband is dealing with, and he has to do it in front of an audience.  I’m not saying that he doesn’t deserve it, but it can be a hard situation for everyone.

His guilt can sometimes get better as healing begins.  As your husband sees that it might one day be possible for him to take responsibility and to at least begin make up for this colossal mistake, he may begin to calm down with the guilt. I often tell people that the best way to overcome this type of guilt is to become the spouse that your family deserves.  Yes, it’s normal to feel like the most deplorable person ever after you’re caught cheating.  But when you stand up, face your mistake, willingly take responsibility, and then make every effort to make things right again, then that is a good and honest first step.  You can only sincerely fix it and then vow to never do it again. Most people do realize this over time and the guilt diminishes, although it typically never goes away completely.

My husband definitely exhibited deserved guilt after his affair.  Sometimes, he did take it too far and I would bring this to his attention.  I did not feel that it was fair for me to have to try to talk him down off of his guilt.  I was the injured party, after all. He was the one who made the choice to cheat.  Guilt is one of those things that improves when he begins to take responsibility and to do the work necessary to fix this.  If he falls short, the guilt will be slow to improve.  You can read more about our own recovery process at http://surviving-the-affair.com

How To Get Your Husband Back When He Thinks He’s In Love With His Mistress?

Sometimes, I hear from wives who very much want to save their marriage and get their husband back after his affair – but there’s a problem.  Their husband thinks or believes that he’s “in love” with the other woman or mistress so, at least at this time, he’s not receptive to saving the marriage or coming back to the wife.

I get a lot of heartbreaking emails about this.  I often read comments like “My husband thinks the other woman walks on water.  He thinks she does no wrong.  He thinks she makes him feel “alive” and “whole” again.  He doesn’t care that she’s a low class person or is probably only after him for his money.  He just thinks she’s the most wonderful person in the world and that she’s his soul mate.  How in the world can I compete with that?  How in the world can I save my marriage and get my husband home to his kids when he thinks he’s found what he’s always been looking for in this woman?”

This is a very difficult situation.  Because when the husband is walking around in this fog of infatuation, there’s very little that you can do until he starts to come down to reality – but that can and does usually happen. And, there are things that you can do to move it along so that it happens more quickly.  I will discuss this more in the following article.

As Tempting As It Is, If You Point Out The Other Woman’s Flaws, You’ll Likely Only Make Him Defensive And Have Him Defending Her:  I know that it’s very tempting to point out how stupid your husband is being and what a deplorable tramp he’s carrying on with.  But if you do that now, you’re only alienating him from you and only making him take up for her – which brings them closer together.

I know it’s so hard to bite your tongue and to keep from pointing out how stupid he’s acting and what a huge mistake he is making.   But if you do this, you are likely make your situation worse.  And since it’s a safe bet you want him back, this isn’t what you want to do.

I’ve seen this situation play out time and time again.  And most of the time, if you wait, lurk in the shadows, and bide your time, you will be in the best position in the end.  Which leads me to my next point.

Know That Once The Affair Runs It’s Course, He Will Realize That Doesn’t Even Know This Women – Much Less Love Her:  I’ve never had an affair (although my husband did,) and I dialog with many men who have on my blog.   And here’s what they tell me about affairs.  In the beginning, they get so caught up in the excitement and the “newness” of it, that they aren’t really thinking.  They aren’t looking at it objectively or intellectually.

Eventually though, this “new” phase passes.  It’s inevitable.  And when it does, this is often when your husband takes a long, hard look at this other woman and realizes that he doesn’t really know her at all.  If this is true, how can he really love her?

Here’s another important point.  A relationship that is build on deception, lies, and dishonestly doesn’t really have much of a chance in the end.   She will eventually show her true colors and he will realize what a fool her has been.  When this happens, you want to have positioned yourself in the best way possible, which is why it’s important that you take the high road, even when it’s very difficult.

Putting Yourself In The Best Position Possible To Get Your Husband Back From The Mistress:  I know it’s very difficult to wait for all of her allure to wear off.  But it almost always does.  And if you are patient and build yourself up while you are waiting, you will be in the best position possible once their relationship starts to crumble.

So how do you handle yourself until then?  This is a delicate dance.  It really does depend on your husband’s attitude at the time, but I think it’s always a good idea to handle yourself with dignity and respect.  It should be clear that you aren’t going to compete with her or be involved in any love triangle.  When he decides who or what he wants, you will be willing to reconsider then -but not until then.

Women often ask me if they should attempt to have sex with their husband while he’s still with the mistress.  In other words, they want to know if they should try to lure him back or to get the husband to actually cheat on the mistress with the wife.  This can be a tough call too.

And I understand both lines of thinking on this.  You can feel that if you can get him intimate with you again, you will have a chance to get him back.  But if you allow him to have a relationship with both of you, then he really has no incentive to end the relationship with the mistress.

Now, if he’s beginning to come around and it’s clear he’s considering ending the relationship with the other woman, then you might have an argument.  But it’s ideally best to wait until it’s clear that he’s again committed to you and completely cutting off contact with her – although I know that this is easier said than done.

Throughout this process, I recommend doing everything in your power to restore your self esteem.  You never want to be in a position where you believe that’s she’s better than you in any way or has something that you do not.  Do whatever you need to do to feel confident, beautiful, and good about yourself because this really does matter.

The image that you project becomes the image that every one else believes.  If you feel badly about yourself, this will likely affect the way every one around you feels and views you.  If you are worried about your sexual confidence, there’s an ebook on the side of this blog that is quite good for that.

If it helps, you are welcome to read about how I got over my own husband’s affair.  It was a long hard journey, but frankly our marriage is better than ever now – and I don’t worry he will cheat again.  You can read that story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

How Can I Get Over My Husband’s Affair Once And For All?

By: katie lersch: If you’re Googling and researching phrases like “how to survive an affair,” “how to forgive my husband’s affair,” “how to get past an affair,” etc., then I can certainly identify and empathize with you and hope that I can help. My husband had an affair several years ago and at that time, I thought my world was ending and could not see past it for a long time.  But, although I never would have believed it at the time, not only did I survive it, it actually made our marriage stronger. No, it wasn’t easy and it took a lot of patience and work, but in the end, the affair brought certain issues into the light that were hiding in the dark, issues that I never knew existed, but which were laying in wait, ready to sabotage my marriage. The affair also gave rise to self esteem issues that I had been battling for a long time, but finally overcame. However, first things first. This article will give you some tools to help you survive or get over your husband’s affair.
Don’t Obsess Over The Issues That Won’t Help Your Healing, Like Details About The Other Woman Or Who Knew About The Affair: I know that this may sound impossible to you now, but trust me when I tell you that obsessing over the other woman or what she has that you don’t, (who she is, how they met, what she looks like, etc.) will not help you heal. All it is going to do is contribute to a destructive cycle that feeds upon itself and only makes the situation and your mental state worse. It’s perfectly normal to wonder about this, but it just isn’t worth it. It will only put destructive images in your head that will be hard to banish.
There’s a well known infidelity study which polled married men who had cheated. Only 12% of them said “the other woman” was prettier than their wife.  So put that worry to rest. There’s nothing special about her. Another common place where we get tripped up is that we want to know ALL the ways that we were betrayed. We want to know who else knew and how this whole charade was pulled off. So, if one of our neighbors or friends knew, then we will then turn our rage towards them too. The problem is that now we will begin to feel that the whole world has conspired against us, when really, this isn’t true. Feeling like a black cloud is hanging over you is only going to delay in your healing. No good is going to come of it.  For me, people I trusted (my husband) deceived me, but others (neighbors) were trying to protect me. Understand that there are really only two people to place direct blame upon here – your husband and her. Of those two, your husband is the only one that you want to have contact with – this should be the only relationship with which you concern yourself.
When You Are Ready, Understand Why The Affair Happened: It may be a while before you are ready to hear and understand the full details of the affair, (you may never want to hear it all) and you may need help understanding what your husband is really saying. Men are sometimes horrible at effectively communicating their feelings. They will give you vague, silly explanations like “it was just a mistake,” “it didn’t mean anything,” or “it’s not me, it’s you.” These things can sometimes sound like lies your husband is either telling himself or telling you.
However, you may be surprised to know that according to much research and counseling I have participated in, these phrases are often rooted in the truth.  Many men cheat simply because they’ve lost important feeling about themselves. I’ll explain. When a man is young and in love, he feels virile, alive, attractive, worthy, and competent. This is often because the woman he loves is lavishing a lot of attention, appreciation, and affection his way (often when you are first dating). Eventually though, married couples have to focus on other obligations like your job, your kids, your aging parents, etc. Many wives assume that their husband sees their struggle to juggle it all, knows that you love him, and would give him more time and attention if you could.
This assumption is partly wrong. Men feel guilty to want and need so much of your attention. So, instead of saying “hey honey, you know all those good feelings we were generating? Well, I want to get them back. Can I have more of your time?,” they will go and try to generate these feelings somewhere else. (Of course, this is messed up logic, but they don’t see it at the time.) Often, they don’t mean to hurt you, it really doesn’t mean a whole to them, and they never think you will find out. So, they assume they will just take care of this problem themselves and then everything will carry on. (This is unbelievably wrong, but they don’t understand this.)
In the infidelity study I mentioned earlier, over 77% of the men surveyed said they were “deeply sorry,” about the affair. And the vast majority said they cheated for EMOTIONAL not  PHYSICAL reasons. Many people assume that affairs are all about sex. They aren’t and it’s a huge mistake to think so. Knowing this then, should at least give you a foot hold on how to proceed. You absolutely need for your husband to understand the devastation of his actions. He is certainly not blameless. But likewise, you need to understand the factors that contributed to the affair so that you can address them if you want to save your marriage, if you want to.
Turn The Focus Away From Him (At Least Initially) And Turn It Towards Healing Yourself And Boosting Your Self Esteem:  Obviously, especially at first, the affair is going to encompass a huge chunk of your life. However, don’t let yourself get lost in the mix. Don’t put yourself on the back burner. So often, a woman whose husband has cheated will have a huge blow dealt to her self esteem. She will feel old, ugly, and not sexually alluring. Please understand that although these feelings are natural and understandable, they will eat you alive.  And, this self doubt is a marriage killer.  Your husband may be very sincere when he tells you that he still finds you extremely attractive, but self doubt or low self esteem will ensure that you don’t believe him.
It’s a vicious cycle. Take great pains to focus on your own self care and your own self worth. Get a complete make over. Take up a new hobby. Get out and see friends. Do whatever you need to do to put a genuine smile on your face. This will send a distinct message to your husband and to your own self conscience. In order to really “get over an affair,” you need to fully understand that it wasn’t your fault and that there is nothing at all wrong with you or something that some other woman had that you don’t or didn’t. This was a horrible, unfortunate decision your husband made that has less to do with you then you might think. But, you can heal from it – and so can your marriage, if that is what you want. Yes, it may take a bit of work, but in the end, I know from experience that you, and your marriage, can emerge stronger as a result.
Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, my marriage is stronger than ever after my husband’s affair. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is at an all time high. I no longer worry that my husband will cheat again. You can read my story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

When Your Spouse Won’t Forgive Your Infidelity

By: Katie Lersch:   I often hear from the spouse who was cheated on.  Occasionally though, I sometimes get messages from the spouse who cheated.  Perhaps my perspective is skewed because I was one of the spouse’s who was cheated on, but it’s usually pretty obvious which people are sincere and which aren’t.  Some ask for advice on how to “get” or “make” their spouse forgive their infidelity.  It is pretty obvious that their main concern is themselves.  They are more worried about forgiveness than they are worried about their spouse’s healing and well being.

But, sometimes it’s clear that the person reaching out really does care about what is best for BOTH people.  They are truly sorry and want to make things right again.  Their concern reaches outside of themselves.  I recently heard from a wife who had cheated on her husband over the course of only one night.  She was full of remorse and just sick over what her one action had done to her marriage.   She was desperate to make her husband understand how sorry she was.  She said, in part:  “I am so sorry for cheating on my husband.  I will regret that for the rest of my life.  But the real tragedy would be if I lose my marriage over this.  I might lose my husband and my children might lose their father because of my mistake.  The weird thing is, my husband doesn’t even seem angry anymore.  But he is finished.  He says that infidelity is something that he will never be able to forgive and, although he loves me as a person, he can no longer love me as his wife because of what I did.  I feel like if I could just make him believe that I will never do this again, we could get past this.  We had a very happy marriage and a wonderful family and I’ve gone and ruined it.   Is there any way that I can get him to forgive me so that we can move on?”

The wife’s sincerity was very apparent to me.  It is very upsetting when one mistake (made by someone who is truly sorry and would never repeat the same error) means that a marriage comes toppling down.  I will share with you some of the insights I gave the wife in the following article.

Sometimes, You Have To Accept That Forgiveness Might Take A Good While And It’s Better If You Don’t Push For It: Many people who were unfaithful equate their spouse’s forgiveness with that same spouse’s love and commitment to them.  I’ve had many people admit that they feel that if their spouse can’t forgive them, then this must also mean that their spouse doesn’t love them enough.  This often just isn’t the case.  Their being unable or unwilling to forgive is simply that.  You really shouldn’t try to draw your own conclusions.

And, healing and forgiveness can take time.  Much of the time, they simply want to wait and watch.  They want to see how long you will continue to offer your reassurance and apologies.  They want to see if you continue to be trustworthy and if you love them enough to hang in there even when it isn’t easy for you.  I will admit that many of us who were cheated on put our spouses through sort of a test (even though many of us don’t realize it when we are doing this.)  We want to see if our spouse will stay with us no matter how much we push them away.  We may not do this consciously, but we figure that if they stay put even when we don’t make it easy to do so, then they must truly love us, in spite of their cheating.

The thing is, you likely don’t know which of these factors are at play.   You have given your spouse quite a lot to handle and they are probably doing the very best that they can.  Pushing them to forgive you before they are able to do so only impedes their progress and places the focus on you rather than on them.  You are usually much better off backing off of that topic and continuing to offer your support and reassurance.

Know That Forgiveness For Infidelity Isn’t Required To Move Past It: Countless people tell me that they feel that if their spouse can’t forgive their infidelity, then their marriage must be doomed.  Again, this isn’t always the case.  Some spouses remain married while the betrayed spouse still remains on the fence about forgiveness.  Again, forgiveness is nice.  But it’s certainly not a requirement.  Your spouse can and often will take a “wait and see” attitude and you can still make quite a bit of progress.

It believe that it’s a real tragedy when people give up on their marriages just because one of them is struggling with forgiveness.  I think the better course of action is just to agree to take that issue off of the table for a little while.  After all, you often have other  things on which you can focus on worry about.  And sometimes, if you place your focus on supporting, understanding, and reassuring your spouse rather than on pressuring them, you will eventually get the result that you want because they can see that you have their best interest (rather than yours) at heart.

Think Twice Before You Give Up On Your Spouse When They Are Struggling With Forgiveness.  Patience And Support Are Better Options: My best advice to the wife mentioned above was just to continue to hang in there and support her husband.   Frankly, I thought that she should stop pushing for forgiveness and focus instead on healing.  As someone who has been cheated on myself, I can tell you that being pressured to forgive gets very old.  It makes you feel ever more negatively toward your spouse.  And, you can feel more angry (and less forgiving) because of the pressure.

I suggested that the next time the topic came up, she might say something like “I understand that you can’t forgive my infidelity right now.  You have every right to be reluctant when it comes to me.  I know that I have a lot of work to do to show you that you can trust me again.  And I will do whatever it takes to support you.  I’m not going to pressure you any more. Instead, I’m going to try to give you whatever you need to heal, even if that doesn’t include me.  I just want you to be happy again and I want you to know that I do love you and that you your well being are the most important things to me right now.  If there’s anything that I can do to facilitate this,  just say the word.  If you need some time, I’ll give you that too.”

Sometimes, you just have to wait.  Once your spouse sees that you are sincere and concerned with them rather than yourself, you will often see some changes, even if you don’t always see forgiveness immediately.  The idea is to move forward, to heal, and to restore the closeness without worrying about all of the definitions and the pressure.

I don’t think my husband ever said any magic words that made me forgive his infidelity.  But he did hang in there no matter what.  This eventually convinced me that it was safe to move on.   Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, my marriage is stronger. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is high. I no longer worry my husband will cheat again. If it helps, you can read more of that story on my blog at Http://surviving-the-affair.com

Can An Affair Stay Secret Forever?

I sometimes hear from two very different subsets of people who want to know about the secrecy surrounding affairs.  I hear from people who suspect their spouse of cheating but who can’t elicit a confession or obtain proof.  So they wonder if they are ever going to learn the truth.

I also hear from people who are actively having an affair and who hope that the truth never comes out.  They’re trying to craft a plan where they keep this hidden forever because they don’t want to hurt or give up their spouse and family.

A faithful spouse might say, “call me crazy, but I know that my husband is cheating. I know it deep down.  But when I confront him, he acts as if I am crazy and paranoid.  I’ve tried to catch him or find some sort of proof that forces him to confess, but I haven’t been successful.  He continues to deny it, so nothing changes.  I am starting to think that I am never going to learn the truth.  I’ve even confronted the other woman that I think that he is cheating with and she looks at me like I’m nuts too.  Do people ever successfully get away with cheating forever – where the infidelity is never discovered?  Because that is where I think I’m headed.”

On the flip side, I sometimes hear requests like, “can you tell me how to keep an affair a secret forever?  I made a grave mistake and had a very short term affair.  I broke it off and it’s completely over.  But if my spouse found out about it, this would be a serious risk to my marriage.  I can’t have that.  I find myself constantly being paranoid that I’m going to act in a way to make my husband suspicious.  How do I ensure that the affair stays secret forever?”

I suppose there have been cheating couples who have been able to take the affair to their graves.  I’m sure that such people exist.  I just don’t think that this is very common.  Why? Because in order for the affair to never come out in the open, both people are going to have to never say anything to anyone else about it.  If even one of the affair partners spills the beans to friends, family, or coworkers, the chances of it getting around increase dramatically.  Most people who have affairs want to talk about it with someone.  And that someone can tell someone else.

Also, there are times when one cheating partner will decide to either confess to their own spouse or to tell the other person’s spouse about the affair out of spite or guilt.  That’s the problem – you can only control who you tell, but you can’t control who your affair partner tells – including your own spouse.

Surprisingly, many spouses find out about the affair from their own spouse.  Guilt has a way of eating away at someone so that some people end up confessing the affair even when their spouse didn’t know. However, for suspicious spouses, there are often clues.  Some people install spy cams or other things to catch their spouse.  Some hire private detectives.  If you really want to catch your spouse, you often can with a little patience and technology.

At least in my observation, most of the time, the affair is eventually found out in various ways.  It’s pretty unusual for its existence to never see the light of day, since so many things would have to happen correctly in order for this secret to survive.

That’s not to say that some people who cheat don’t get lucky or don’t have a spouse who just doesn’t investigate all that much.  But for many, it is not a question of IF the affair is going to be discovered or confessed to, it is just a question of WHEN.  That’s why if you are having an affair and you feel bad enough about it to try to cover your tracks, then you are better off ending it if your marriage is still important to you.  It’s really just not worth it.

To answer the original question, I suppose its possible for an affair to remain a forever secret, but it’s just not all that likely.  Statistics tell us that most affairs end.  Plus, of those that end, most end badly.  This is a recipe for things to blow up in spectacular fashion, which can be very difficult to keep on the down low. When the affair ends, most of the time, the affair partner who has been jilted isn’t really interested in keeping your secrets or sparing your spouse’s feelings.  Unfortunately, you don’t have control over what others disclose or tattle about, which only increases the odds that the truth is going to come out.

If you are worried that the affair is going to have repercussions, there is nothing wrong with educating yourself about healing so that you can be be prepared.  You can’t change the past, unfortunately.  But you do have control over how you deal with it going forward.  You’re welcome to read about how my family recovered  on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Does The Other Woman Feel Triumphant To Know That She Turned The Head Of A Married Man

I hear from many wives who would love to know what the other woman is thinking once the affair is over. Many of the wives assume that the other woman was smug about taking a man from his family and felt indifferent at the idea that she was potentially breaking up a family. Many wives envision women who set out to tempt married men away from their homes.

These wives might say something like, “I’ve never seen the woman my husband cheated with. I know that she is somewhat younger. I picture her as smug and conniving. My husband said that he didn’t hide the fact that he was married, but apparently, this didn’t bother her at all. In fact, my husband finally confessed that she almost saw it as a challenge – to get a resistant man to cheat. When I started to suspect the affair, he tried to break it off, but she tried very hard not to allow this to happen. I don’t really want to talk to her or seek her out, but I have to admit that I wonder what she thinks about all of this. I am wondering if she feels all triumphant, because she finally wore down a married man and has potentially destroyed a family. There is nothing that I can do about this. It’s not as if I have the ability to make her sorry or anything. But for my own curiosity, I just wonder how smug she is feeling right now. Is smugness common of all women who cheat with men who are already spoken for?”

Honestly, it varies. Just as the personality and the motivations of all of us are different, the same is true of women in this situation. I sometimes hear from them and some are actually pretty remorseful. Some didn’t intend to begin the relationship. On the flip side of the coin, some just didn’t take the relationship all that seriously. They were just looking for a meaningless diversion and so they don’t have any strong feelings one way or another. And yes, there are those women who see it as a challenge or a game to tempt or cheat with married men. And these are the woman who can feel like they’ve won a prize when they get him to cheat and who feel like they have lost something when the affair ends.

I understand why you want this information. I used to have the same types of questions after my own husband’s infidelity. But I will tell you an unfortunate secret. What the other woman thought or felt is truly irrelevant to your bottom line. Thinking about her or dwelling on her is not in your best interest. Neither is fantasizing about revenge. Frankly, the best revenge possible is moving on with your life and reestablishing your own happiness – however that may come and whatever that might look like.

I know that it might seem very easy for me to suggest that you try to put her out of your life and move on. But I say this because it’s a lesson that I learned. The more you prolong thoughts about her, the more you prolong the pain and your own healing. It’s pretty easy to wallow in misery and depressing thoughts post-affair, but all this does is hurt you more and for a greater period of time. The sooner you can distract yourself with working on yourself and with moving forward, the sooner you can put her out of your mind. When you do this, it makes it easier and quicker to heal, which should truly be your goal.

I know that it’s very painful to suspect that the other woman felt like she “won” or that she beat you by turning your husband’s head. But think about it for second. What did she win, really? She had a fast and meaningless relationship with a man who already belonged to someone else. She had zero chance at a lasting relationship because he tried to end it when there was danger of you finding out. That had to sting instead of feeling triumphant. The truth is, most of the time, the affair ends eventually. Yes, it may feel great for all involved for a short period of time. But it almost never ends well. And when it does end, both parties have to face the reality of what they have done and accept responsibility for it. In reality, they are looking at a failed, doomed, and shameful relationship. And honestly, that can’t feel too great. In fact, it can feel like regret, fear, and guilt. None of these emotions feel particularly triumphant.

I’m sorry you have to go through this.  It may be beneficial to know that thoughts like these about the other woman and about the affair do diminish as you heal.  If it helps, you can read about my similar experiences on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

How Can A Man Who Loves His Wife Have An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from wives who are really struggling with the reality that their husband has had an affair. Often, the hardest part for them is not the betrayal itself, but the circumstances that preceded the betrayal. Many of these wives are so confused because they had good marriages and loving husbands. In fact, many believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that these same loving husbands would never cheat. And, many of these wives will admit that they suspect that their husband still loves them, even after his cheating. That’s why his cheating can be so horribly confusing.

I heard from a wife who said: “there is no doubt in my mind that my husband loved me during his affair and I fully believe that he loves me now. That’s why I simply can’t wrap my brain around why he would cheat on me. I admit that our lives were stressful when I was undergoing treatment for severe medical issues. But my husband was so loving and supportive during that time that I never would have suspected that he was caring for me in the evenings and then having an affair with his coworker during the day. How could he know that I was home sick and still carry out what he did? How could he love and worry about me and then sleep with someone else? How can a man who truly loves his wife cheat on her?”  I will try to answer these questions in the following article.

Often, A Husband’s Affair Doesn’t Have Anything Whatsoever To Do With His Love For His Wife: There are many types of affairs. We all know of or have even heard from the husband who will claim he cheated or had an affair because his wife just didn’t understand or appreciate him. Or, he’ll say that his wife had let herself go or had changed, so as a result, he fell out of love with her and had an affair with someone else.  In fact, that is so common an excuse that many people will just assume that a cheating husband no longer loves his wife. This is most certainly not true in every case. A good number of cheating men actually love, adore, and lust after their wives. Men who have good and active sex lives cheat. Men who could not ever imagine their lives without their wives still cheat. Men who look their wives right in the face and truthfully declare their undying love cheat on those same wives. Why? Because sometimes the cheating and the love have nothing to do with one another.

If Men Don’t Cheat Because They No Longer Love Their Wives, Then Why Do They Cheat?: There isn’t one answer to this question. But, if I had to simplify it, my answer would be to provide a diversion or relief from some problem or issue that is usually completely separate from their marriage. Sometimes, they cheat in times of stress during which they feel powerless. In the above scenario, the wife’s health issues had been very stressful on both she and her husband. By no means am I using this to defend her husband’s actions. But, for whatever reason, it is very common for men to cheat during times when they under a high amount of stress like an illness, a job loss, or a period of feeling helpless. During such times, the cheating is in response to the stress and is an attempt to make the man feel less helpless or worthless. It doesn’t have anything to do with his love for his wife, which is still very much in tact. In fact, sometimes part of the frustration comes with loving your wife and with feeling powerless to help her like with the above situation.

Another thing you’ll often hear is the husband say is that he didn’t feel that he was “good enough” or “worthy” of someone like his wife so he sabotaged his relationship because, again he was struggling with those feelings of being worthless.

If Your Loving Husband Cheated Or Had An Affair, Where Does That Leave You?: Most likely, you will have a choice to make. There are times when wives in this situation will begin to doubt their husband’s love for them, even when there is that little voice in the back of their head that says things like: “but remember that time when he stayed up with you all night when you couldn’t sleep?” Or “remember how he looks at you? How can he fake that?”

It’s very difficult to juggle the knowledge that he has done very loving things and acted in loving ways and yet he has committed an act that betrays that love. And yet, among all the confusion, there’s still a choice to make. You’ll ultimately need to decide if that same love is enough. You’ll need to ask yourself if the remaining love is enough for you to try to rehabilitate your marriage and work through whatever personal issues may have lead up to his cheating.

That is not a decision that anyone can make but you. Some women will look at both the man and the marriage over the course of many years and decide that the good things that he has done outweigh that one bad decision. And others will decide that no matter how much they love their husband or he loves them, cheating is just not something that they will ever overcome.

I know it is a difficult decision, but I hope this article has shed a little light on how it’s possible for a man who loves his wife to make a very huge mistake and to cheat.

I actually never doubted my husband’s love for me after his affair.  I knew he loved me before, during and after it.  The question really was if that love was enough to pull us through.  In the end, it took more than love.  It took a lot of work, determination and skill.  But we made it.  If it helps, you can read all about it on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

Staying Together After Infidelity: When Does It Get Easier?

By: Katie Lersch:  I often hear from people who have made the very difficult decision not to walk away from their marriage after an affair.  Many have committed to this decision because they really do feel that it is the best thing for themselves, their family, or their marriage.  But despite their determination or best intentions, there’s no question that this is a very difficult process that moves on its own slow timeline.

Since it’s no fun to go through, people will often want to speed it up, or at least know when it might feel easier.  Someone might ask: “when is my marriage going to feel easier after my husband’s affair?  I agreed to try to make our marriage work.  And it took me a long time to get to that place.  In the first couple of weeks, it made me feel ill to even have him in my presence.  But eventually, I decided that splitting up would be so hard on my kids.  And my husband did seem genuinely remorseful and was begging me to give him a chance.  So I told him that I’d give him three months to show me that he was serious.  I can tell that he is trying. But things just feel so darn awkward between us.  When he hugs or tries to kiss me, I recoil and I am always suspicious of his motivations.  I wonder if he really feels this affection toward me or he is just trying to make me feel better.  I keep telling myself that tomorrow is going to be better.  But it never feels all that much better.  My husband alternates between being tentative and resentful.  I alternate between being distrustful, angry, and sad.  I was willing to give this a try.  But if it always going to feel this awful, I don’t know if I have it in me to stick it out.  When does it get better?”

Having gone through this, I can tell you that time does help.  But time alone typically not completely ideal.  I’ve thought long and hard about this and I believe that I can identify the happenings that made things easier for me.  I know that everyone’s experience is going to be different.  But maybe sharing this will offer someone a little reassurance.

It Helps When You Notice Your Husband Showing Sincerity And Integrity Over Time:  In the beginning, all you really have are his words and his promises.  You want to believe him.  But he’s proven some dishonesty.  So understandably, you worry that he’s not trustworthy.  In order for him to prove that he is in fact trustworthy, some time is going to have to pass.  And you are going to need to see that, over and over again, he is doing exactly what he has promised.  You need to see him having integrity and being sincere even when he thinks that you are not looking. You need to see him doing the right thing even when it’s not easy to do so.  Once this has been happening again and again, you can start to relax about his sincerity.

It’s Extremely Helpful When You Obtain A Plan Or Some Guidance: One of the biggest problems I see is that people proclaim that they are going to stay in their marriage, but then they don’t make any change or try to implement any rehabilitation.  As a result, every one lives in fear of the cheating happening again.  No one can relax. There’s no progress because there’s no plan.  It’s vital to have a roadmap to get yourself out of this.  A counselor can mean that you don’t have to work as hard or feel as lost because they can create the road map for you.  But if you don’t want to go the counseling route, there are many self help resources that can allow you to do this for yourself.

It’s Beneficial When You Begin To Understand That With Determination, This Isn’t Going To Beat You:  I know first hand that there is a real tendency to beat yourself up after infidelity.  Even when you are not the one who cheated, you can feel like you did something wrong.  You can feel like you’re being punished again and again.  I found it helpful to get out of the victim mentality.  It also helped immensely when I worked on building my self esteem.  Once I gained confidence, I realized that no matter what happened, I would be OK.  I realized that I did not need to define my life and my happiness through someone else.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I want my marriage.  I want my husband.  But I also know that if either of these things were taken away, I’d be OK.  Because I am always going to have myself.  Knowing that you are going to be OK regardless is very freeing.  And it helps to remove the intense pressure and the paralyzing anger.  When you realize that you are responsible for your own happiness and your own experience, you feel so much more in control.

And frankly, a lack of control is one of the things that makes an affair so devastating.  One way to take back that control is to strengthen yourself so that you know that someone else’s whims and mistakes are not going to define you.

No one expects all of the above to happen immediately or simultaneously.  But when they do happen, you feel relief.  It does get better.

I remember when I was in the same place that you are now.  I was afraid that every day was going to be the same miserable experience.  Very slowly, as I acted with deliberation and kept track of my progress, I began to see some improvement.  I learned that things moved more slowly when I waited for improvement rather than actively trying to get it.  You can read more about that process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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