What Are The Long Term Effects Of An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: Sometimes, when your spouse is having an affair, it’s very difficult to think beyond tomorrow – much less well into the future. But once the shock wears off and the dust settles, many faithful spouses realize that this is exactly what they have to do. Because, in order to make a sound decision about the course of your marriage, it makes sense to consider what your marriage might look (and feel like) into the future. But this is often difficult to gage and it’s a topic that you know is so important that you don’t want to just guess at it.

I might hear from a wife who says: “my husband is begging me not to leave him because of his affair. I have agreed to wait a couple of months before I make a decision. But sometimes, I regret making this promise. I truly would like to save my marriage, but I’m not going to be naive about it either. My husband likes to pretend that we can just pick up our marriage like the affair never happened. I know that this is very short sighted. I know that this isn’t reality. I have had friends who have dealt with the reality of an affair and it seems to me that almost all of them continue to struggle, long after the affair is over. I’m just wanting to understand what are the long term effects of an affair on a marriage? What does our long term future look like?”

This is a very difficult question to answer. Because honestly, the answers depend upon several variables like the depth of the deception, the length of the affair, the state of the couple’s marriage after the affair, and the amount of work done during recovery.

The Long Terms Effects Of An Affair Can Be Both Positive And Negative.  But The Marriage Is Rarely Completely Unchanged: While the truth is that it’s very likely that you are not going to have the same marriage after the affair, what is often up in the air is whether this will weaken or strengthen your marriage. To be fair, I’m going to list common negative and positive long term effects after an affair because I feel like both are completely possible. Honestly, the course that you end up on is, at least in some ways, up to you and your spouse and how much work and effort you’re willing to undertake.

Some people don’t believe their spouse deserves their efforts and this is a fair argument. I understand it. I’m not trying to tell you what you should do. I’d just like to give you a glimpse into possible outcomes, keeping in mind that all couples are different.

Negative Long Term Effects Of An Affair: I would say that most every couple knows those neighbors or mutual friends who have a marriage that is rocked by an affair but who never truly recovers. Although this couple stays together, it’s often clear that they are doing so reluctantly and that there is still a good deal of anger present. There can also be resentment by both parties. The faithful spouse has resentment for obvious reasons. She has been wronged. But the cheating spouse can feel resentful too. Because he can feel as if he’s going to have to pay for this mistake forever. And he can feel as if his spouse wants to make him grovel for the rest of his life, no matter how remorseful he is and no matter how much he tries to make amends.

In short, this couple is beaten down. Both of the are well aware that this isn’t a great marriage and that neither one is happy or at peace. But, they just accept this as their lot in life. Often, they really do not want to live this way. They would like for things to be better. But they just do not know how to cross over toward healing. And so they feel stuck, frustrated, and a little bit angry most of the time. At the same time, they don’t want to let their spouse off of the hook by just walking away.

Positive Long Term Effects Of An Affair: I hope that the above couple of paragraphs weren’t too depressing. There is some good news. First, couples like the ones described above don’t have to live this way forever. You can always chose a new way. You can always begin to heal even when you think it has been way too long.

And, some couples actually find themselves in better marriages than before the affair. I know that this is hard to believe. When a therapist told me this, I thought she was only trying to sell her services to us, at one of the most awful times in our marriage. But, with time, I can tell you that this is true. I’ve seen it in my own life and in the life of others. It is not easy. It is not automatic. And it’s also not constant. There are ups and downs. I’m not going to tell you that every day in my marriage is rosy and that I never think about the affair because that wouldn’t be true.

But I can tell you that bad days are mostly rare. In fact, our communication today is actually stronger than it ever was. We speak up if there is something wrong because we know what can happen when we become complacent. I have also made big changes in myself and in the way that I look at marriage and all relationships.  My relationship with my husband is something I chose. It is not something that I depend on to define myself. Never again will I depend on someone else for my own happiness and self esteem. I trust my husband. I do not believe that he will cheat again. But if he does, it’s not going to make me think less of myself. I spent a lot of time building myself up and becoming the type of person that I want to be. In part because of the affair, I have learned that all I can really control is myself and the way that I live my life. This has changed my outlook on control. I used to want to control my husband, keep him on a short leash, and make him feel guilty if he disappointed me. Now, I realize that this is manipulation based on fear. And it’s not the way that I want to live my life. I can be responsible for my own happiness. And in turn, this has opened up our relationship so that we feel much less pressure. We know that we are both here because we want to be. And this really has transformed our relationship.

I hope this article has shown you that there are almost always long term consequences of an affair. Your marriage is rarely unchanged. But those changes can be positive and negative.If it helps, you can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Husband Is Hot And Cold After He Cheated And Had An Affair. Why Is He Acting This Way?

By: Katie Lersch:  I often hear from wives who are very upset with their husband’s changing behaviors after his affair.  Often, he will be affectionate and sweet one day, only to be cold and distant the next.   I heard from a wife who said: “after my husband admitted to an affair, he started sobbing and told me that his biggest fear was losing me and the kids.  He begged me to give him a chance to make this up to me.  I was hesitant but I don’t want to lose my family either.  So I told him we would see what happened.  He agreed to go to counseling and we have been going weekly.  It helps a little but our biggest problem is that he is hot and then he’s cold.  One day he can’t show me enough  affection and attention and the next day, he is distant.  And when he is distant, this makes me wonder if he is thinking about the other woman or having doubts about me and our marriage.  When I ask him why he acts this way, he tells me that he is doing the best he can and that sometimes he gets down about his actions and what he has done to us but this doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me.  After I bring this to his attention, he will be attentive and loving again for a couple of days and then he’ll start creating distance and isolating himself again.  I’m just so discouraged by this because I don’t want to live the rest of my life with a husband who isn’t sure how he feels about me or our marriage.  Is this going to last forever?”

It often does not last forever.  And the reason for it doesn’t always mean that your husband lacks feelings for you.  I’ll discuss this more below.

Why Husbands Can Be Hot And Cold After The Infidelity:  Just for a second, I want for you to stop and take inventory of your feelings for the last couple of weeks.  Having been through this myself, I can tell you that I suspect there have been days when you’ve felt a little better and then there have likely been days where you have felt just horrible about your situation.  The same can be true for your husband.  He likely feels a good bit of guilt and shame for his actions.  This can cause him to isolate himself and brood.

And then perhaps something or someone (likely you) will lift his spirits a little bit and his negative feelings abate for a while.  And this is when you will see him being affectionate or “hot” toward you.   And then a little bit of self doubt will begin to creep in and thus you will see him begin to back off and go through his “cold” phase.  As frustrating as this can be, it can be normal.  But that doesn’t mean that it’s conducive to your recovery, which is why communication is so important, which leads me to my next point.

How To Handle It When Your Husband Has Swinging Emotions After An Affair:  There’s no reason to suffer in silence.  You can address this without being critical and without making things worse.  Don’t be surprised, however, if your husband responds that you too change your emotions quite often.  The next time you notice him cooling off, you might say something like: “I can’t help but notice that your behavior today is different than yesterday when you were very affectionate.  It makes me feel reassured when you show me affection because it tells me that you are still attracted and committed to me.  It makes me feel as if our marriage is worth fighting for.  But then you cool off and you seem as if you don’t want anything to do with me.  This makes me wonder if you are having second thoughts about us and that really hurts.  It would help if you could communicate how you feel when you isolate yourself.  I understand that we both have bad days when we’re trying to get through this.  But there are bad days, I still need your reassurance because if I begin to think that you aren’t really attracted or committed to me, then we’re going to struggle. Can I ask you to just stay connected when you feel the need to go inward?”

Hopefully, you can see that this script encourages you to ask for what you want and need, but it’s careful not be judgmental or accusatory.  You’re trying to find some common ground and you’re admitting that you’re having your own struggles so you understand that there are going to be some difficult days.  However, communicating and continuing to check in and attempt to connect with one another even when those doubts set in can make all of the difference.  Simply saying “honey, I’m having a hard time today.  Can we maybe go for a walk to just wind down before dinner?” can make a huge difference with how you perceive things.  Because if you can just touch base during the difficult days, misunderstandings are much less likely to happen and you will then be able to pick up when you’re both feeling a little better.  Over time, as you begin to heal, there should be many more “hot” days and many less “cold” days.

My husband and I both went through our emotional ups and downs when we were trying to recover from his affair.  Sometimes, when one of us would retreat the other would make assumptions that just weren’t true.  That’s why it’s so important to keep communicating.  Over time, as healing became more complete, the ups and downs diminished.  Today, there are many ups and very few downs.  If it helps you can read the story of our recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/

I’m Not Sure If I Still Love Him After His Affair

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who are not only unsure about how they feel about their marriage after their husband’s affair, they are unsure about how they feel about their husband himself.  I heard from a wife who said: “my husband cheated on me with our accountant.  I have known this woman for many years and I trusted her.  At the same time, I have been married to my husband for half of my adult life.  No one knows me better.  No one else has been through life’s up and downs with me in the way that he has.  He’s begging me to give him another chance and has promised intense counseling of my choosing.  My problem is that I’m not sure if I love him anymore.  I understand that I am angry with him.  But it’s more than that.  I need to respect someone to love them.  I do not respect what he did.  I am not attracted to someone with a lack of character and I feel that he doesn’t have the character that I thought that he did.  He says he will prove to me that the good parts of his character are still there.  And there have been moments that I will look at him and still feel some simmering of love, but then I think back to how he betrayed me and whatever I’m feeling is extinguished almost instantly. How do I know if I still love him? And what should I do in the meantime?”  I’ll try to answer these questions in the following article.

Why I Think It’s Best Not To Try To Sort Out Love Until You’ve Had Enough Time To Reflect:  The wife was probably right in her assumption that her anger and shock was clouding her feelings.  Because right now, all that she was able to see was how his character was lacking.  This is completely understandable and no one can blame her for this.  However, when all you can see are the bad parts of his character, you aren’t likely to see any of the good parts.  Which means that you aren’t looking at this even remotely objectively.  Any decision about your marriage is an important decision.  Give yourself the time to make the right one for you.  I know first hand that in the initial time period after the affair, your anger clouds almost every feeling that you have.  It’s nearly impossible to truly determine deep emotions like love or even hate in that emotional state.

Try This Exercise: Some women tell me that they know for sure that they hate their husband and no longer feel a shred of love for him.  They won’t even consider that their anger is clouding their feelings.  They are completely sure that every ounce of love that they ever felt for him is long gone.  So here’s an exercise to test that.  I’m not bringing this up to be cruel or to try to hurt you more.  I’m not even trying to prove you wrong. I’m just trying to give you some perspective.

Imagine that it’s five years from now and you’ve saved your marriage.  Imagine that you took your husband up on that offer for counseling and this actually improved your marriage to the point where you renewed your wedding vows. Imagine the dress and the look on your face when you say your vows all over again.  Can you imagine this scene without any strong emotions? (Positive or negative emotions count.)

Now imagine that it’s those same five years later but you went the other way.  Let’s say you determined that you didn’t love your husband because of his cheating and you divorced him.  So let’s say that he and the other woman picked up where they left off and that, because he couldn’t have you, they eventually married.  What if you ran into them one day and made small talk?  What is your reaction to this scene?  Anger? Sadness?  Something else?  Are you have a strong reaction at all? My point is, if you have strong reactions to either scene that I’ve just described, you’re still responding very strongly to your raw emotions.  Determining the outcome of your marriage (or even your feelings for your husband) when emotions are running this high can be the wrong call.

Why You Can Hate What He Did And Still Love The Person:  I think there’s an important distinction that many people miss here.  You can loathe with everything you have what your husband did.  You can be so angry that you feel as if you will explode.  But you can still deep down love the person even if this frustrates you.  It is totally possible to hate the act and still love the person.

And the reason for this is that one act, or one character flaw does not negate all of the kind, loving things this person has done or all of the positive character that they still have.  Nor does it negate your history. So to address some of the questions that this wife posed, I don’t think it’s possible to totally define any feelings of love or hate after the affair until you have given yourself plenty of time to process this.  And trying to rush the process could lead you to decisions that you might regret.

I will freely admit that I doubted my love for my husband after his affair. But, after I had time to reflect, I realized that I hated the act, but still loved the person and we eventually saved (and improved) our marriage. If it helps, you can read my story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

We Were Separated When My Husband Cheated? Is It Still Cheating? What Now?

When a spouse cheats when they were supposedly happily married, most people would consider this to be a clear cut case of betrayal. But what happens if the spouses are separated and one of them is intimate with someone else? Is this still considered cheating? Is the recovery process the same? These questions recently came up from a wife who was forced into this situation.

I recently heard from a wife was had been separated for about six weeks. The couple had hit a rough spot in their marriage and had decided to separate while they sorted things out. A major sticking point for this wife was that they had agreed not to see other people and to remain faithful to one another. In fact, they had scheduled regular date night and were both committed to using the separation to strengthen their marriage rather than to destroy it. So imagine the wife’s extreme disappointment when she found out that her husband had been intimate with a coworker. The husband swore that this was not a relationship and that the other woman didn’t mean anything. He’d been at a company party where alcohol was involved and according to him, one thing lead to another. However, he insisted this was a one time thing that would never happen again.

The wife said, in part: “My husband says he’s sorry for the cheating. He swears he didn’t mean for it to happen and says that he still wants to work on our marriage. But sometimes when we argue, he’ll admit that although he is sorry, he thinks I should not be as hard on him because we were separated at the time he was intimate with someone else. I do not think this makes a difference as we said we would be faithful. I have not dated other people and certainly wouldn’t. What happens now? Even though we’re separated, I’m every bit as devastated by his cheating. Do I have a right to be?”

Although Being Intimate With Anyone Other Than Your Spouse Is Cheating, The Fall Out Of Infidelity During A Separation Often Depends On Whether You And Your Spouse Decided To Be Faithful During It:

Perhaps I’m a bit biased because I have dealt with infidelity in my own life, but I truly believe that any time some one is unfaithful while they are still married (even during a separation) this is by definition cheating. However, I know that some will disagree with me on this.

I’ve heard from spouses in this situation who insist that this is really not cheating since the couple was separated rather than happily married. Many believe that because they were “trying out” being single during the separation, their sex life is included in this description and they don’t understand why their spouse is so angry right now.

I often see this sort of attitude when the spouses didn’t specifically define what was going to happen during the separation. Often, when fidelity isn’t discussed, one spouse will assume that both people will be faithful and the other doesn’t. Sometimes, the unfaithful spouse doesn’t intend to cheat but they will use this lack of definition or understanding to defend their actions once they are caught.

Most of the time, in situations where both spouses have agreed to try to be faithful, the fall out when one spouse steps outside of their marriage is much more severe. Because the faithful spouse has made good on their promise and doesn’t understand how the other couldn’t do this.

Not only that, but many faithful spouses will usually argue that the situation is now twice as bad because of the cheating. After all, the whole idea was to hope that being apart would make you realize that you wanted to save your marriage because you missed the other person. But what happens now when instead of this process going along as planned, one spouse stepped outside of the marriage? This leads me to my next point.

In My Opinion, The Recovery Process For Cheating During A Separation Is Very Similar To The Recovery Process For Cheating While Married And Living Together:

Honestly the outcome of this situation was going to be up to the wife. She had to decide if she still wanted to save the marriage in spite of the husband’s behavior. If she did, I didn’t feel that there would be any short cuts or that she would have an easier time simply because they were separated.

They were still going to have to work hard to restore the trust and to rebuild the foundation that the infidelity had shaken to its core. If there was any good news here, I felt that it was this. Honestly, the process of repairing your marriage after an affair can repair it to the point that it’s actually better (and stronger) than it was before. Since this couple had been having marital issues so severe that they had separated as a result, this process certainly wouldn’t hurt their marriage and would likely help it.

The wife was not sure what she wanted to do. She was worried that she was going to work very hard to repair the marriage only to have him cheat again in the future. I felt that one very important thing to consider was that, in several years of marriage, he had been faithful – even during the very difficult times that preceded their separation. Of course there are no guarantees, but to me, this said a lot about the husband’s character and about his ability to remain faithful if they were able to move past both the separation and the infidelity.

This decision was ultimately the wife’s. But I didn’t think that this was an impossible situation, although I didn’t think the separation or the alcohol gave the husband a free pass to cheat. Without any doubt, this issue was just one more that this couple would have to deal with. But I felt that if they did dive in and successfully deal with it, the process could be one that would strengthen their marriage (which was in some need of repair anyway.)

I don’t say this to minimize the cheating. I know first hand that this was very painful for the wife and I certainly am not trying to diminish this. I’m just trying to offer some reassurance that with the right rehabilitation, this is an issue that can be worked through so that it doesn’t have to mean the end of your marriage.

I know this is a difficult situation, but I truly believe healing is possible. 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 pretty 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

I Spoke To A Women Friend And She Told Me That My Wife Won’t Forgive My Infidelity For Years

By: Katie Lersch:  When you are first caught cheating by your spouse, you usually will completely understand their anger at you.  Even if your marriage wasn’t always great or if, deep down, you feel a tiny bit justified, you still know that cheating is very destructive and that your spouse has every reason to be furious.  Most of us can mentally put ourselves in our spouse’s position to know that if the roles were reversed, we too would be outraged at being cheated on.

But, once some time passes, the feeling of wanting the anger to fade and the desire to be forgiven can surface.  And this is understandable also.  After a while, no one wants to feel like the bad guy all of the time.  So you will start looking for clues that some day soon, your spouse might be open to forgiving you.  But you may not find these clues in the time frame that you had hoped for.  That’s when you may start looking or asking around.  You may approach friends or family members who have gone through this and what you find my be somewhat discouraging.

For example, a husband might ask a female friend, coworker, or family member who has dealt with infidelity for a rough estimate of a time line.  He might explain: “it has been over seven months since my wife caught me cheating.  I immediately apologized, broke off the affair, and told my wife that I would do absolutely anything to save my marriage.  I have tried to back this up.  We went to counseling briefly.  I have been loving, patient, and supportive.  I like to think that, at this time, I am a pretty decent husband.  Many colleagues describe me as ‘kind’ and ‘a good guy,’ but my wife still acts like I am an awful human being.  She is still very cold and sarcastic to me.  Sometimes, I will bring her attention to this, and she tells me that she is trying, but that she believes recovery is just going to take some time.  I hear what she is saying, but I wonder if this means that we are going to limp along like this forever – with me being the awful spouse and her being the long-suffering one.  I asked a coworker about this.  We are good friends and I know that a few years ago, her husband cheated.  I asked her how long it took to forgive her husband and she told me that, quite frankly, she HASN’T forgiven him yet.   It has been two years and they still struggle.  I could not believe this.  I asked her twice and both times she insisted that all has not been totally forgiven.  She says it’s just something that she doesn’t know if she will ever get over.  This is so incredibly depressing to me.  I am not sure if I can stand more years of being treated this way.  I really wanted to save my marriage and I still do, but I don’t know if I can wait years to get it back.”

I hear from a lot of people who feel exactly as you do and my response is always careful.  I don’t want to discourage anyone or tell you that you may have to live a certain way for a certain period of time.  Because that simply might not be true.  There are so many variables that come into play.  At the same time, I do not want to downplay how difficult recovery can be because there are so many factors that go into this as well.

All I can say is that I know many couples (and I was one of them) who didn’t take years before we were able to move on.  However, to be fair, we were extremely aggressive about healing and moving on.  And I made a very conscious decision that I WANTED to move on and to not live in purgatory.  That said, this is not a simple matter of mind over matter.  I do not want to imply that wives can simply decide to move past the affair and then they are miraculously able to do so.  This really is not the case for most of us.

Rather, it is more like we made a decision to move on and we find the resources, the people, and the things that can help us to do that.  There’s no magic answer.  There’s no set period of time.  You simply constantly take inventory and you ask yourself what is making things better and what is making things worse and you adjust accordingly.  Sometimes, you may need professional help for this as long as it takes and other times, you won’t.  I have no way to predict that.

I can tell you that two determined and committed people CAN and DO recover and offer forgiveness in reasonable time frames with the right tools and circumstances.  And I do want to stress that forgiveness is not the same as forgetting.  Your wife may well decide to forgive you because she truly wants to move on in a healthy way.  But this is very different than her acting as if the affair never happened.  That’s just unrealistic.  It’s possible to carry on with your marriage as if it was just a blip, but that doesn’t mean that you expect your spouse to deny it’s very existence.  However, to answer the original question, you don’t always have to anticipate years and years of recovery, but you should also do absolutely everything in your power (except for pressure) in order to help move things along.

I was very motivated to move quickly because of my children.   Hopefully, you and your wife can use whatever motivation you have in order to move on.  With that said, you never want to gloss over or rush healing.  You legitimately have to do the work.  And until you do, you can’t ask or expect your wife to just “get over it” or move on.  In my own experience, the more patient my husband was with me, the more I wanted to move on.  You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

How Do You Find Happiness After Your Husband’s Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who wonder if they are ever going to feel truly happy again after their husband cheated or had an affair.  Understandably so, finding out about the affair has been almost life changing and has changed their outlook on life.

Common comments are things like: “will I ever feel happy again after my husband had an affair?  And if so, how?  Because every morning I wake up and feel as if life as I knew it has come to an end.  The marriage that I thought was actually good is a lie.  I doubt my ability to judge people.  I doubt my own attractiveness.  I am scared to be on my own.  I feel awkward and unsure about my husband.  In short, I am miserable and scared.  And I don’t see this ever changing.  Is it possible to feel true happiness again after infidelity?  And if so, what can I do to help myself be happy again?”

I firmly believe (and know from my own experience) that it’s completely possible to feel authentic and unbridled happiness and joy after infidelity.   I won’t tell you it’s a fast process.  I won’t tell you that it’s an easy process.  But I will tell you that it is absolutely possible.  And in the following article, I’ll offer some tips on how to reclaim the happiness that you deserve after your spouse’s infidelity.

Separate Your Personal Identity From Your Spouse’s Actions:  Before you can begin to heal and to reclaim your happiness, you must accept that none of this is your fault.  Your husband made his own decisions and acted as the result of his own free will.  Even if your marriage wasn’t perfect and even if you contributed to this imperfection, you are in no way to blame for someone else’s actions.  You shouldn’t own a responsibility that is not yours to  own.

And along that same line of thinking, you should not judge yourself based on the things that someone else has done.  You are not less or a person because of your spouse’s decisions.  You do not have less value because your spouse chose to be unfaithful.  His cheating says something about him, but it should not say something about you.  Know that you are every bit as attractive, funny, smart, and valuable as you were on the day before you learned of your spouse’s affair.  So, your opinion of yourself should not waiver or be negatively affected by your spouse’s mistake.

Fall Back On Those Things (Outside Of Your Marriage) That Have Always Made You Happy: Stop for a second and think about what has made you happy in the last year.  Not everything should be related to your marriage.  It’s a safe bet that you have a family, friends, and hobbies that do not include your husband or your marriage.  That’s not to say that you can’t or won’t save your marriage.  But in the initial days when you are just beginning to heal or are determining what you want to happen with your marriage, it’s a very good idea to seek happiness outside of your marriage.  There are likely people, places, and things in your life that have brought you joy, happiness, and peace.  Now is the time to draw on those things.  In the days immediately after the affair, you may have to draw on the small joys in life – the sunrise, the fact that you woke up and you still have choices, the sound of birds singing or children laughing.  Whatever it is that brings you joy, find ways to feel more of it and to spend more time doing it.

Many wives will admit that they didn’t cultivate a life outside of their marriage and so they feel particularly lost when their marriage is in question.  If this is the case with you, then now is the time to start finding yourself outside of your marriage.  And this is true even if you want to save your marriage.  I was always clear on the fact that I didn’t want to give up on my marriage, but it was also very clear to me that I had lost some of myself within my marriage.  And frankly, if both you and your husband are happy and whole individuals outside of your marriage, then you will have a stronger marriage as a result.

Know That Whatever Happens, Brighter Days Are Ahead: Some wives admit to me that they are worried that they must save their marriage or walk away from it to truly be happy once again.  It’s my experience and observation that women can return to a happy life  in either situation.   Sometimes, I hear from wives whose marriages were affected by an affair years earlier.  Some have saved their marriages and some have not.  But most tell me that life is back to normal and most feel that things worked out for the best.  Wives who saved their marriages will often say that their marriages have improved.  People who ended their marriages  often feel that it ended up being for the best.  The human spirit has a very unique and fortunate ability to bounce back under challenges, even when the person who owns that spirit has their doubts.

So yes, it is completely possible to be happy again after infidelity.  The keys are understanding that none of this is your fault and that your value and your worth has not changed.  It’s also important to take responsibility for your own recovery and happiness.  Give yourself what you need to heal and don’t apologize or feel selfish about the same.

There was a time that I worried that I would never regain my original happiness after my husband’s affair.  I felt sorry for myself for what seemed like a long time but I realized I had to be at my best for my children and for myself.  Honestly, the affair forced me to make many long overdue changes that actually improved my life.  If it helps, you can read about my entire transformation on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

 

How Do I Reconnect With My Spouse After The Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from couples who, quite understandably, feel very distant from one another after infidelity has affected the marriage.  Sometimes, both people are interested in reconnecting.  Other times, one spouse is distant while the other wants to feel close again.  Whatever the reason, there is often a concern about the best way to reconnect in order to begin to bring back the intimacy.

Here is an example about what I am talking about.  I might hear from a spouse who says: “honestly, I feel like I have lost all of the closeness that I had with my wife.  And I know that it is my fault because I am the one who had an affair.  But for the sake of our family, I feel like we really have to get back what we had.  I understand that my wife is angry and hurt.  I would do anything to change that.  But I know that I can’t.  Not only is she distancing herself from me, but I can’t help but notice that she has backed away from our extended family and, to a lesser extent, even to our children.  It’s like she is just watching everything happen, but she is not actively participating in any of it.  She’s no longer spontaneous and happy.  She is just flat and kind of there.  She interacts with me because she has to – but it is very formal.  We never laugh anymore or touch.  It is all just family stuff.  I want our relationship back.  I try to ask her to go out with me, talk to me, or – heck, even just watch a TV show with me.  I’d settle for anything at this point, but most of the time, she declines. If she does do something with me, she’s formal and cold about it.  How do I reconnect with her?  She is justified in her distance and anger, but we can’t keep going like this.”

Some Considerations: Before I try to offer some suggestions, I find myself curious as to how many attempts at healing have taken place.  In many situations such as the one described, things stay sort of stuck (and distant) because there has not been much progress made toward healing.  Have you completely ended the affair and offered your wife (and yourself) an explanation as to why it happened? Are you in counseling?  Because if, in her eyes, nothing has really changed, then in my own experience (having gone through this myself,) you can’t expect for her behavior to change.  If she feels like no improvement has been made or if she thinks that there isn’t enough remorse and rehabilitation, then understandably, she can feel much more safe watching and waiting from the sidelines.  This is just human nature and self preservation. She may not even realize that she is doing it.  But she is understandably afraid to let her guard down and to feel – at least for right now.

I know this because I experienced it also.  It’s very hard to let down that wall and to leave yourself vulnerable again.  So you are often looking for a show of good faith before you feel safe enough to do this.  If you haven’t yet tried to provide this feeling of safety, you might find your wife MUCH more willing to reconnect once you do.

Focus On Keeping Things Low Key And Don’t Apply Pressure: If you’ve focused on healing and you’re still not seeing progress, then you want to ask yourself if you are perhaps pressuring and putting some pressure onto the situation so that it is not allowed to thrive.  What I mean by that is that we often have the very best of intentions and of course we want for things to feel better as fast as they possibly can.  We don’t mean to pressure.  But we are anxious for things to return to normal.  Once they don’t, there can be disappointment and a feeling of “what is wrong with us?” Or “will we ever get back what we had?”

These thoughts and questions are normal, but they can make you feel as if you are NOT normal or that you will NEVER get back what you had, when in reality, perhaps you just need to be patient and to try to back away from so much pressure while just focusing on very small things.  I love your idea of just watching TV together.  Many couples will first try with the big efforts.  They’ll try to vacation together or make a huge announcement that they are going to reconnect.  This is often too much too soon and so things can’t necessarily blossom under the weight of all this pressure.

Watching TV or going for a walk with your pets or anything very low key with not much pressure is how you want to start.  In fact, you maybe do not even want to classify it as “reconnecting” because the connotation makes some people freeze.  Instead, you’re just wanting to restore a sense of comfort and normalcy for a short period of time.  If you do this enough and you get good results, make no mistake about it.  You ARE reconnecting – whether you officially call it that or not. Above all, don’t make your spouse feel as if not reconnecting immediately is their fault.  They likely are juggling  a lot of pain and negative feelings.  They don’t need anymore.  Instead, show them patience and take what they are willing to give when they are willing to give it. At least in my experience, this kind of acceptance and lack of pressure made me MUCH more receptive to the idea of reconnecting.  My husband and I never called it “reconnecting.” It was just a process that naturally happened as we gradually healed and I gradually began to trust and feel safe again.  Had my husband constantly asked why we weren’t “reconnecting,” the outcome may not have been great.  There’s more about this on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

My Husband Can’t Even Look at Me After He Cheated And Had An Affair: Tips And Advice That Might Help

By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from wives who indicate that their husband is having a lot of trouble facing them after he has been caught cheating or having an affair. Often, he’s either ashamed, embarrassed, nervous, awkward, humiliated or a combination of all of these things. So, it can be quite difficult to deal with him in the aftermath of the affair, much less to improve your issues or to save your marriage.

I recently heard from a wife who said: “my husband did not admit his affair to me. I actually told him of my suspicions very frankly and he denied them with everything he had. In fact, he acted injured, as if he were appalled that I would suspect or accuse him of such a thing. Still, something was telling me that things weren’t right. I still suspected that he was cheated on me. So I hired a private investigator to follow him. And sure enough, the investigator quickly caught him cheating. Once I was told where he was, I waited for him and confronted him as soon as he emerged with the other woman. Needless to say, I made quite a scene. I know that my husband was very embarrassed but he completely deserved it. Since that time, I have told him what a liar I think he is. Still, there’s a small part of me deep down inside that doesn’t want to let go of my marriage. I expected my husband to immediately apologize and beg for my forgiveness but he has not done that. Instead, he can’t even look at me in the eyes now. He avoids me. He cuts me off when I try to talk. He basically makes it clear he’s not going to talk about the affair. How can we even begin to heal when he acts like this? And why is he acting this way in the first place?” I will try to answer these questions in the following article.

Sometimes, Your Husband Can’t Look At You After The Affair Because He Is Embarrassed, Ashamed, Or Is Unsure Of What To Do Or Say: I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to the husband in this scenario. But I’ve corresponded with many men in this situation on my blog. Many will tell you that they are embarrassed and ashamed. They will also tell you that they do not know what is the right thing to do or say and they are scared of their wife’s reaction. In this particular scenario, the husband was probably even more humiliated by his own behavior because he so adamantly denied the affair in the first place.

This alone can make it quite difficult to look someone in the eye. It’s important for the wives in this situation to remember that they have not done anything wrong. He is the one who is wrong and frankly, his reluctance to face you and make full eye contact is a good indication that he is fully aware of this.

His Inability To Look You In The Eye Can Be An Indication Of Guilt Or Remorse, Which Can Be A Positive Sign: Frankly, the fact that your husband can’t look at your face or make full eye contact can sometimes be a good sign. Men who are indignant and deny any wrong doing or who blame their wives for their actions are more likely to repeat those actions because they almost feel justified in their cheating.

Conversely, a man who is so ashamed or uncomfortable that he can’t look you in the eye may well be having the difficulties that he is because he knows how gravely he has messed things up. He is having the strong reaction that he is because he is very well aware of how huge of a mistake he has made. And, this makes him more likely to not want to repeat the same actions because he does not want to feel this way ever again.

How To Handle It When Your Husband Won’t Look You In The Eye After His Affair: Although there can be valid reasons why your husband is having a hard time facing you, it can be very frustrating and it can delay your healing if in fact you have some interest in saving your marriage. So you might want to address this the next time that it happens. A suggested script might be something like “could you please look at me when we’re talking? We’re not going to make any progress if you won’t even meet my gaze. I know that is uncomfortable for both of us, but in order for us to move forward we are going to need to be able to communicate and this includes making eye contact with each other. I know this is awkward, but if you care about me and our marriage, I need for you to do better. And you can start by looking at me when I am talking to you.”

Hopefully, as be begins to see that making eye contact can actually be the start to improving things and that he needs to take responsibility for what he had done and be man enough to handle the fall out of his own actions, you will see some improvements. And some eye contact.

My own husband had difficulty with eye contact after the affair, but once I made it clear that it was absolutely necessary to me, he came around and things began to improve. We actually did save our marriage and it is very strong today. If it helps, you can read the whole story of how I survived the affair 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

Why Doesn’t My Husband Just Leave Since He’s Having An Affair

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from wives who have full knowledge of their husband’s affair and they do not understand why he is still living with them as a married man. Often, they fully expect for him to leave and they are extremely confused when he doesn’t.  I heard from a wife who said: “I know for a fact that my husband is having an affair.  I found out from his phone but I have also driven by the other woman’s house and have seen his car.  Once, I followed them and saw them kissing at stop lights.  So there is no doubt in my mind that he is cheating on me. But what I truly don’t understand is why he doesn’t just leave me.  He’s obviously totally infatuated with this other woman.  He goes out of his way to constantly spend time with her.  Why doesn’t he go live with her and leave me?”  I’ll try to answer this question in the following article.

Many people assume that men who cheat on their wives no longer love that same wife.  They often assume that he is no longer interested in the marriage or in living with her.  Believe it or not, this isn’t usually the case.  Regardless of what men promise to the other woman, many of them don’t have any intention of their wife every finding out.  More than that, they often don’t ever intend to leave their wife or end their marriage.  People often ask me how this is possible.  I’ll try to explain this in more detail below.

He May Be Trying To Work Out An Issue That Has Nothing To Do With You Or Your Marriage:  I know that the previous statement might sound crazy to you, but please hear me out.  When I dialog with men about this topic on my blog, it becomes very clear that most of them are not cheating because of a lack of love for or commitment to their wife.  Most of them are cheating as a means of escape.  Most of them are going through some sort of personal crisis.  Many go through this during mid life or after some sort of loss.  They are looking to improve their self esteem or to find their place.  They aren’t only thinking of the present time, not about the future or about what their actions might cause.  So, many of them aren’t thinking about leaving their wives.  They aren’t even thinking about next week.  They are just living in the moment and trying to address their identity crisis in order to feel momentarily better.

Should You Force Him To Get Out?:  Many wives are annoyed that he doesn’t just move out.  Some ask me if they should kick him out.  I felt that this question was a bit premature with this wife because she hadn’t even confronted him about having the affair.  It can be helpful to see his reaction and his level of remorse.  And sometimes, you need time to evaluate what you want to happen.  Some wives are very clear that they want nothing further to do with him.  And sometimes, because of an extensive shared history or because of children, some wives don’t want to make rushed or snap decisions.

It is quite possible that he has no intention of ending your marriage unless you force him to do so.  And, you probably aren’t going to know what his intentions are unless you confront him about the affair and ask him.   It’s not at all uncommon for a man to suddenly change his feelings about the other woman once his marriage is on the line.  Sometimes, once he realizes that he has placed his marriage in jeopardy, suddenly the fantasy is over and reality comes crashing down.  When this happens, then it is up to you how you want to respond.  It really depends on how you view him and the marriage and how likely you think rehabilitation is going to be.

So to answer the question posed, man often doesn’t leave his wife when he’s having an affair because he is only living for the moment.  Most men don’t have any intention of leaving their wives in the short or even in the long term.  Frankly, he is often so confused at this point that he has no idea what he wants.  But he isn’t likely to be making long term plans at a time when his life is in flux or when he is grappling with his own identity.  Many women feel that he’s not leaving because he wants a relationship with both women or because it’s too expensive or painful to get a divorce.  These aren’t the only possibilities.  Others are that he is still invested in his marriage or he’s confused and unsure about what he wants for the future to hold for him.

My husband didn’t leave me while he was having an affair.  I’m sure in his own mind, he thought I wouldn’t find out.  But of course, I did find out.  In the end, although we did spend some time apart, we didn’t separate or divorce.  My children and my family were just too important to me.  And he was willing to do what I needed for him to do in order to help me heal.  If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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